Half Marathons and the Super 8

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Vegas has ruined me.

I realized this as I was sitting on the bed of the Super 8, trying to figure out if we needed to switch rooms because the A/C wasn’t working. There was a hole in the wall opposite me, whoever painted the place was either blind or a toddler and I had two naked children jumping off the bed onto the luggage cart (which looked like it was purchased for the facility circa 1987).

Where was my resort experience, complete with celebrity chef restaurants, Cirque Du Soleil shows and blackjack tables with free drink service?!

Also?? I was the one who booked the place, so I had only myself to blame. I thought it was a great deal and close to the start line for my race. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

As I was lamenting this Hell-hole experience, Chip looked me right in the face, rolled his eyes and said, “I see you’ve completely forgotten where we started! We stayed in places like this all the time when we first got married!”

Oops. Excuse me while this Diva dismounts her high horse.

We both burst out laughing and began enjoying the experience instead of acting like we’re too boojey for our own good. But before you completely hate me for how snobby I am… You must see what was PAINTED ON THE WALL when we stepped off the Super 8 elevator.

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Oh yeah, we DID switch rooms. I was running a half marathon the next morning and all I really asked for in this hotel experience was a clean room with a comfortable bed and a good A/C.

Chip’s favorite part was when we went downstairs because the front desk wouldn’t pick up the phone (is anyone surprised?!), and we told the teenager on duty that our room wouldn’t cool down, and his response was, “Oh… Yeah.” No shock at all. Just sent us down the hall to room 214.

Thank you, tiny child, who I’m not even sure was old enough to be working.

This was how the boys felt about the experience:

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Sheer. Bliss.

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Moment of real talk……. My kids didn’t need a 5-star resort like their bratty mother. They had the TIME OF THEIR LIVES. Frank was still giggling today when he told me, “Hey mommy. Dat hotel was SO much fun!!!”

**cut me down to size, son.**

But can we please just talk about the tea bags they put in the room?!?!

We all know where “Great Value” brand comes from, Super 8…. and you should be ashamed.

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And we won’t go into TOO much detail, but there was a point where the 4 of us were checking out in line at H-E-B after Frank had basically made us look like the-worst-parents-ever as he RACED all over the store, screaming at the top of his lungs.

Bless him, he was having an absolute ball. Apparently Frank and Bob are living their best lives in cheap, crappy hotels and 9:15pm trips to the grocery store.

The woman in line behind me screamed, “WATCH HIS HANDS!!!!” as she thought Bob’s fingers were about to be pinched against the counter (they weren’t, in case you were wondering), and I screeched back at her, “I CAN SEE HIS HANDS JUST FINE!!!” It wasn’t my best moment people.

However, truth be told, anytime I have my tattoos showing at a grocery store and I’m with the boys, there is a 98% chance a middle-aged woman will look at me in disgust and give me unsolicited parenting advice. And I’d JUST. ABOUT. HAD. IT.

So, random Waco woman, you got the brunt of 3 1/2 years of stored up rage. Come at me, bro.

Back to the Super 8.

I really did get an excellent night’s sleep in that (second) room (214). It was clean and cold and cozy. Both boys slept like the babies they are, and Chipper was snoring away in no time.

I, however was wide awake at 3:17am, crying silently and whispering to myself, “what were you THINKING?! You can’t run a half marathon!! You’re going to fail miserably and humiliate yourself.” I had actually been repeating that sentiment to myself the moment we packed the car in Caddo Mills and embarked on the 2 hour drive to Waco.

To fully understand my angst, I need to take you back 3 years ago. I had a 10 month old baby, and a body I didn’t recognize. I knew I had to lose the weight, but how?! I decided to take up running. Which made zero sense, because I’ve always sucked at running, but there you have it. It was also JUNE IN TEXAS. Which makes it even more foolhardy, but apparently I was determined. I downloaded the Couch 2 5K app and started training. I think it started with a 30 second jog, 2 minute walk loop for 20 minutes.

I barfed when I finished. This is a picture from that first run. Notice how I’m glistening. It’s the sweat from the heat and vomit.

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I’m not exaggerating when I say I’m not a runner. I will tell you that I thought about that first run several times while I was running the half. I thought to myself, this goal was born out of sheer idiocy, determination and grit. I began this whole journey by training in the Texas heat. I can do this!!!

The first 5K I ran was physical torture. I didn’t think I could run 3.1 miles! I was slow, but I was determined. I had my brother-in-law and sister-in-law on either side of me the whole entire time telling me I could do it. And I did!! Huzzah!!

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I trained hard and ran a 10K next, and saw that running (this thing that I really kind of hate) brought out a determination in me that I didn’t realize I possessed.

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So if you’re wondering why I run, that’s one of 3 reasons I do it. It brings out a side of me that nothing else ever has: self-control (if you know me but at all, you know I’m an addictive personality, so self-control is almost non existent most days), determination and grit.

I was all ready to sign up for the half marathon way back then, but I got a positive pregnancy test on Christmas Eve 2016, so I knew I’d need to put that goal on the back-burner for a while, thanks to this little muffin. This was when he waited in line with me this last weekend for Magnolia cupcakes. They were worth the wait, if you were curious. They are #glorious.

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Fast forward to 4th of July Firecracker 5K in Greenville, Texas last summer. I was done with baby recovery and ready to roll! I completed that 5K….

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And then a 10K….

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and a 15K in the months to follow….

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Each time I finished a race, I’d sign up that very day for the next one. Each race had culminated into the Silo District Half Marathon 2019.

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It took me 3 hours and 19 minutes.

Way back on that hot July day, as I was pushing baby Frank in a stroller I said to myself that my goal was to run each race. Not walk/run, but fully run. On Sunday I ran for 3 hours and 19 minutes. I was slow, and there were some hills, but I never stopped jogging. Slow and steady like a tortoise.

The reason my goal was to run the whole time is because of my all or nothing mentality. If I know I’m going to allow myself to walk at some point, then I don’t push myself. And the whole point of running is because it’s the one thing I do where I experience grit and determination. So walking defeats the purpose for me.

I told you that I have 3 purposes of running. I’ve already told you my first. Here are my other 2:

  • It helps me lose weight and tone up muscle. Pure vanity.
  • Frank Lawrence Stanesic IV (and now Bob as well)

One day when I was training in that summer heat in the most hilly neighborhood you will EVER find, mind you (Thanks, Shores in Rockwall), I was chuffing along and pushing the stroller. I had my little Couch 2 5K app and the lady would tell me, “start walking” or “start running” every few minutes. I was thinking to myself how much I hated running and how hard it was, when I looked down at the back of Frank’s little bald head. I had one of those life changing moments when I straight up heard the Holy Spirit speak to me. And this is what he said:

How do you expect to tell Frank to pursue the hard things? When he tries and fails and sucks at things, how are you going to tell him to push through? When he looks you in the face before a baseball game and tells you he’s scared and doesn’t think he can do it, how can you tell him that he can?

If YOU don’t pursue the hard things. If YOU don’t try and fail and suck and push through? YOU need to be able to tell him firsthand that you know how it feels to be scared and try hard, and give it your best. YOU go first. Don’t tell him. Show him.

So there you have it. Frank is directly tied to my running. I thought about that crazy little man about a billion times throughout that 13.1 miles.

The Half itself was the best run yet. I hit a runner’s high at .75 miles (it usually takes between 3-4 miles). However that freaked me out because it gave me a false sense of security. Oh, the humanity!!

I enjoyed the run for the first 10 miles. It was a beautiful run through the Baylor campus and along the river. I was jamming out to my tunes, thinking about how grateful I was for healthy lungs and legs, watching Chip and Joanna Gaines pass right by me. HOW is she so beautiful?! No one evens knows. She makes a low pony and a plaid shirt look model level gorg.

I thoroughly enjoyed it all until mile 10. My hips were hurting and I texted this to Chip:

My hips are killing me.

I just passed mile 10.. Just a 5K left babe…

I can do this…. right??

I sent that text, thinking “I can’t do this” and I looked up and saw one of my very best friends running across the path towards me. I had NO idea she was coming to surprise me.

I lost it.

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Right when I thought I couldn’t go on, Caroline and her husband Matt showed up and took turns running through mile 10 with me.

#lovedoestheunexpected

I have the best friends.

I was dragging and they picked me up. I powered on, but then I hit another rut at 11.6 miles. Again, my legs were jelly and I didn’t think I could move another inch. Again, I was about to just can the whole thing and walk/crawl the rest of the way when HERE COMES CHIP between a couple dilapidated buildings, big ole classic-Chip smile on his face and shouted at me, “we’re all waiting for you at the finish line! You got this!! We love you!!! I’m so PROUD OF YOU!” and then disappeared as quickly as he showed up. Again, ALL. THE. TEARS. (but for real, I have no idea where he came from. It was like, an alley and a field behind a run down building. At one point I thought, was it an angel impersonating him?!)

Chipper. He’s the BEST.

Then came the STEEP HILL AT MILE 12.25. I literally just looked up and said right out loud, “aw, sh–.”

Everyone else around me slowed to a walk, but with literally every ounce of resolve I had left in me I said right out loud, “You have pushed two 9-pound-98th-percentile-headed-babies out of your body in the same amount of time you’ve been running. This isn’t nearly as painful as that. DO THIS!!!!!” And with a primal scream I pushed through. Just like I did when I was in labor. (that’s no joke by the way. I pushed an hour and a half each with those huge headed boys. I deserved a finisher medal from the hospital as I crossed the finish line on those ones!)

In the end, I saw the finish line in the distance and I shuffled my playlist to “Run the World”, by Beyonce.

Because #girlpower.

The exclamation point in the whole experience was when the announcer at the end shouted over the speakers,

Stephanie! Is this your first half marathon?!”

I nodded my head as I bawled buckets o’ tears.

YOU MADE IT!!! You did it, girl!!! 13.1 miles. You are officially a half marathon-er!”

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I haven’t really stopped crying. Which is a surprise to no one.

I guess all this to say is… What’s your why? Whatever it is, hold on to it. Even if it’s taking you years. Even if you’re slow as a tortoise. Even when you feel like quitting. Get you some amazing friends that make you a better version of you. Cling to your faith when you feel like you’re all alone and drowning. That’s when God always sends just the right person to me. Whether they’re running across my path as a total surprise, whether they sneak out from between buildings to yell a few pointed words, or whether it’s a tiny little guy holding a sign that says, “go mommy”.

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It was a good weekend. My legs are killing me, though.

Cheers.

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4 thoughts on “Half Marathons and the Super 8”

  1. You are inspirational! I admire your determination and grit! And the motel thing is too funny – it reminds me of a motel I stayed at in Saskatchewan, that ended up having cigarette burns on the duvet and strange stains in the shower. The joys of cheap travel.

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  2. Fantastic, Stephanie. I am crying again reading this, one week since the race. This is my favorite one yet, it put me right back in Waco, watching you finish, and now knowing what you were thinking…beautiful! Your experience with the boys in the hotel…hilarious. Your seeing sweet Caroline and precious Chip…beautiful! I love how you write and I love you! ๐Ÿ’—

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  3. Stephanie, you touch my heart, challenge my thinking, and refresh my being. God uses you more than youโ€™ll ever know! Thank you for sharing โ€œyourself.โ€
    โ€œ…he [she] who refreshes others will himself [herself] be refreshed.โ€ Proverbs 11:25.

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  4. Oh man! Brings back memories of my first 5k and Half. Will never forget those! They really are life changing.

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