Alarm goes off at 4:45a. I jam a little to Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own”(my alarm tone), cuts alarm off then looks at temperature on phone. SIXTY-SIX DAGREES. Huh? *cuts eyes at cute new leggings I bought for the occasion, shorts it is*
1. Miles 1-2. Feeling good, feeling great. How are you?
2. Mile 3. In 2012, I had to dodge some roadkill that was the size of a baby kangaroo. Sunday, I dodged some roadkill that was the same size. Did that joka not decompose?
3. Mile 3. I hear “Black or White” by MJ and start shimmying. Wait, is that MJ performing? I need a pic but homeboy is on the opposite side. I yell “MICHAAAELLLLLL” and keep going.
4. We’re almost near the Key Bridge. I’m still feeling good. Then I realize that I should because I am only 4 miles in.
5. Hey the Key Bridge! So happy to see you after being herding like cattle up that steep, narrow bridge to get here. I always wonder who’s idea was that?
6. My hair is twisted and it was in a cute little style until I got to the Key Bridge. Thank God I had enough sense to bring a rubberband with me.
7. Mile 5. Good ole G’towne. Happy to see you! Love the energy on M Street. Favorite costume out there…Ketchup, Mustard & Relish.
8. Miles 6-9. Rock Creek Park. This is new. We didn’t run this in 2010 or 12. Wait, is there a banana up ahead, running? Wait, is that the Stay Puft Marshmellow Man on the other side, running? Wait, I know this dude ain’t dribbling a basketball and juggling? You are doing the absolute most, sir.
10. Heading to mile 10. I hear someone behind me chanting what I thought was a cadence. Then he passes me. Dude is singing and is so far in his zone that he doesn’t notice how loud he is. Well, do you boo boo. Now, the orange slices are coming! Let me start walking because I have seen plenty of people almost get taken out by those things.
11. Mile 12. The Blue Mile. Hains Point always leaves me choked up. So many soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Forever grateful.
12. Mile 13. Halfway! Yeah baby! Making good time too. I’m hongree though. This bagel in my pouch is not appealing.
13. Mile 14. The first of many angels appears. The first one was a lady with a fruit bar. I don’t like mango lady but today I do! That fruit bar concoction was on point.
14. Mile 16. Fatigue kicked in. Ugh. Legs felt great but I was drained. Called my mom for a pep talk. She could’ve easily been a Marine.
15. Mile 17. The Gauntlet. I have never wanted to kick someone as badly as I wanted to kick the man who almost clipped my wings trying to cross with a darn running stroller during the marathon. A two seater at that. If you don’t get out my way sir….
16. Saw the 2 Legit sign. Had to get a pic. I love MC Hammer.
17. Mile 19. The second angel appeared. The little boy with the Tootsie Rolls. I know he came straight from Heaven.
18. Bridge time! Crushed it and I have the pic to prove it. They didn’t have a fun Marine there this time though. Wonk wonk.
19. For some reason, the choppiness of the Potomac(I could see it out the corner of my eye, along with all the people on the bridge made me nauseous. Had to walk most of it.
20. Crystal City. Another angel. First, my girl Ta’She was there and she had pretzels! I needed salt badly. Secondly, whyyyyyy are the miles in Crystal City soooooo freaking long?? The energy is always great there and we need it because it takes forever to get through that mug. The spectators also have the best snacks there.
21. Mile 24. I am usually excited about those donut holes but I had taken in too much sugar. Then I heard someone say “Ooooo, a chocolate one.” I immediately stopped and a fellow runner said here take this one. I savored every morsel.
22. Before Mile 25. I broke down. As I stated before, I run for the Leukemia 7 Lymphoma Society and I ran in memory of my friend Quincy who passed away three weeks ago. The emotion of that overwhelmed me but I could hear him saying, “Keep pushing buddy. You’re almost at the end.” Once I got myself together, I noticed the baby tropical storm like winds I was encountering. That’s always what you want at the end of a race.
23. Right before Mile 26. Please tell me ya’ll saw the little boy, who is destined to be a future Marine, was out there. Before I even got to him, I could hear a little voice screaming, “Yeah! You got it! Gimme some, gimme some! Keep going! Fist bump! You got it! You got it!” Lil man was no more than 2 ft tall and was the hypest spectator I saw all day. Oorah lil man.
24. Mile 26. Customary pic with the mile marker then I hear someone shouting my name. My friend Steve, is right near the hill, videoing. I run over as well as almost run over people(ala dude with the running stroller) to get to him so we can celebrate.
25. Time to take the hill. Hi-fives. Low-fives. And smiles all around. I round the curve to see my dear friends, Jeneen and VJ, who have been at the finish line since the start of the race waiting for me. They are waving frantically and cheering louder than anyone else in the stands. Couldn’t ask for better support.
26. FINISH LINE. Quincy and I made it. Again. Thank you Lord! I PR’d too at 5:32. I’m 99% sure that is the last 26.2 for me. Always have to leave room for the one percent because I am the same person who said I’d never run a marathon.
P.S. Shoutout to my grandDaddy who passed in 2008. He was a Montford Point Marine(part of the first wave of black Marines to enter the Corps in the 1940s) Please research them if you aren’t familiar with their story. He’s the reason I have only run MCM. Can’t see myself 26.2’ing anywhere else. Oorah to my favorite piece of American History.
Hi everyone! Thank you for all the love shown the past couple of months. I am truly grateful and thankful for your support. I know I have been missing in action on here. Sorry! I have two drafts to posts I started writing but could never get the words to flow right. I hope to get those finished soon. Derek Jeter & Peyton Manning deserve it.
In the mean time, please check out my column today in The Dispatch. This column means a lot to me!
“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. Number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” ~Jimmy V
I had a full day yesterday. Jimmy V would be proud. I laugh daily. My mind is constantly bombarded with thoughts. However, I do not allow myself to be moved to tears on a daily basis. Mainly because I do not always allow myself time to really sit down and reflect on the things that would bring tears to my eyes. When you hear the word tears, most of us immediately equate them with sadness. Often, when I do cry, it is not because I am sad. Most times I cry out of thankfulness. Thankfulness for my relationship I have with GOD. Thankfulness for my family and friends. Thankfulness for the life I have been blessed to live. In a sense, every day I should be moved to tears because every day I have something to be thankful for.
As I watched my favorite awards show, the ESPYs, last night I was reminded how truly blessed I am every day I am above ground. I watched as athlete after athlete graced the stage to thank countless people who helped them achieve the success they are experiencing. However, despite all the fan voted awards that are given, the award I anticipate the most is the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance.
March 4, 1993. The day Coach Jim Valvano delivered a speech that would change how many viewed life. I was nine years old and very much oblivious to the fact that one of the sports worlds most beloved personalities was fighting the battle of his life. As tumors laid rage on his body, Jimmy V issued a challenge to everyone. He only needed seven words, with three of them being repeated twice, to put many on a path to living a life of destiny: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” On that night, as Jimmy V stood giant-like and announced the formation of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, lives of people all across the country and world were being intertwined.
The late Coach Kay Yow. Kevin Everett. Don Meyer. George Karl. Anthony Robles. Eric LeGrand. Dick & Rick Hoyt. Stuart Scott. Some names are recognizable while others are not. What they all have in common is that they share the honor of being recognized with the Jimmy V Award. In 2007, I cried a river as I watched a woman whom I had the privilege to share words, hugs and gather pearls of wisdom from, Coach Yow, accept the award that beared the name of her late friend. I love hearing the stories of people who have overcome or are overcoming obstacles that stand in their way. They are no different than you and I.
Last night, as I watched Scott eloquently describe his fight against the c word, I was moved to tears. My day was complete. I watched as Scott beamed with joy over the fact that “Jack Bauer” presented him with his award. I was watched as Scott proudly talked about the support he has received from his employers and colleagues. I watched as Scott dropped the bombshell on us that he had just been released from a grueling seven day hospital stay three days earlier. Words cannot describe the amount of respect I have for this man. I watched as Scott laid out for us, firmly, his motivation for never giving up: his daughters. As he called for his daughter, Taylor, to join him on stage, I fell apart. Over 3,000 miles away I could feel the love between them as they embraced. As my eyes fell on my yellow bracelet on my arm, the same one that Scott wears regularly, I was reminded that we are all in this together.
Something was different about this year’s ESPYs. Maybe it was the fact that everyone’s Twitter handle associated with ESPN was changed to the V Foundation logo for the day. Maybe it was the fact that the ESPYs was honoring one of its most popular anchors. Or maybe its just the fact that as times goes on, I have become more in tune with what really tugs at my heart strings. From Scott’s moving speech where he told us how to beat cancer to US Veteran and hero, Jeff Sweeney, accepting the Pat Tillman Award for Service, the show was full of heroes who embody the spirit of never giving up.
As I rewound the broadcast to watch Scott’s speech again, I flashbacked to a scene that took place about seven years ago in Chapel Hill. I was invited to Late Night with Roy by a member of my extended family. In true Kassie fashion, I ventured over the enemy territory sporting North Carolina State red from almost head to toe. Scott was the host. In true Scott fashion, I was picked out of the crowd and the jokes began. After the event, I got to talk with Scott and he thanked me for participating and having fun with him. As we set to bid farewell, we posed for a picture and went our separate ways.
Back in the present, I once again looked down at my wrist. My yellow bracelet was shining brightly. The bracelet that links myself to Scott as well as others. My LIVESTRONG bracelet. The bracelet that has become a universal symbol for the fight against the c word. While I can not empathize with what Scott is experiencing, my life experiences unite us. My grandfather had it. My grandmother had it. Three times. My next door neighbor, who was like a grandmother to me, had it. My cousin had it. My friend Laura had it. My friend Trinita had it. My colleague Maria had it. My friend Celena just finished battling it. My friend Quincy is battling it. The names are countless. The number of people that have been effected are endless. The lives that have been changed are numerous.
Last night’s ESPYs shined a bright light on the community that surrounds those fighting the c word. As tweets scrolled across the bottom of the screen, including one from me, from people who are fighting or fight for others, I was reminded, once again, that we are all in this together. No one who battles the c word should have to battle alone. We should all fight together. We should all fight to ensure that generations to come never have to experience a life plagued by the disease. We should all fight to ensure that many more birthdays are experienced. We should all fight to ensure that each and every person who is fighting is held up by someone who is willing to fight with them and for them. We should all fight to ensure that Jimmy V’s word will forever reign…”Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” Actions speak louder than words. What do yours say about you?
One week and a day since my second Marine Corps Marathon and I am fully recovered. Well, that happened by Wednesday but you get the point. I still can not seem to get full though lol. I have been eating like crazy since finishing the race. Had pork bacon for the first time in months and it was delicious!! Ok, enough about food(before I get hungry again), here is my story…
If you have no clue as to why I run, may I suggest you check out this link(kassienetteskorner.com/2012/09/05so-what-if-i-lose-another-toenail/) to understand why I run. Moving right along, in June, I began training for the Marine Marine Corps Marathon, again. Before I began, I prayed that I would not suffer any injuries as a result of training. Prayer works :-}. Unlike in 2010, my training went great this year!! Outside of the occasional aches and soreness that came along with long runs, I experienced very little pain this year. I had almost no trouble with my left IT band, that caused me so many problems in 2010. I was even able to do my 20 mile training run this year!! I was on a natural high.
The week leading up to the marathon was greeted with an anxious Kassie who was ready to go and do this again and finish in no less than four hours and 30 minutes. I focused and determined!! This was before I learned a hurricane was threatening to make the challenge of completing another marathon a very difficult task. Oh Sandy, if only you would just make a hard right turn and go back into the Atlantic, we(Marine Corps Marathon competitors, volunteers, spectators and military members) would be so appreciative. The same week I also experienced an emotion I did not plan on facing: sadness. At the beginning of the week, I found out my mom, aunt and cousins would not be able to go to DC with me due to unforeseen circumstances. To say I was bummed would be an understatement. My mama has ALWAYS been there for my big events. Shoot, my mama has been there for everything and even though I knew she would be there if she could, it was still hard to accept. While I run my marathons for others, I do realize what a huge accomplishment finishing one is and it is only natural to want to have someone there to share those accomplishments with. So while I understood the why, I was left to wonder if there would be a who at the finish line to greet me.
So I set off to DC with three bags full of shoes, shorts, long and short sleeve shirts, jackets, ponchos, shot blocks, my fuel belt, hats, socks, gloves, etc. Everything I needed to ensure that I crossed that finish line in Arlington. I love DC, when it is not cold. I think it is a beautiful city and I was excited to be back. I was excited to see my college roommate and one of my best friends, Jeneen. I was excited about going to the National Mall and seeing the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. I was excited about going to Ben’s Chili Bowl and getting a half smoke. Most importantly. I was excited about crossing that finish line, again!
So here we go, Sunday morning. I woke up in a tizzy. I had no idea what to wear!! The meteorologists essentially were all saying different things. Chances of rain early. Hurricane Sandy would not arrive until that afternoon. Hurricane Sandy would not arrive until that night. Hurricane Sandy decided she needed a vacation and decided to hang out in the Atlantic a little while longer. Talk about lost. I checked the temp on my phone and it said 61 degrees. Huh? At 5am? Really? Thinking maybe it had not refreshed itself, I refreshed it and it said 62. Grrrrrrrrreat!! Now I was really lost. I got tired of staring at all my stuff so I went with my gut feeling…leggings, long sleeve poly tee and my race day TNT singlet. I would carry my fuel belt which allowed me to stash a poncho and I would wear my TNT hat. I decided against sunglasses since it was cloudy outside and I assumed Little Miss Sunshine would not show her face that day. So after partaking in my hearty breakfast that consisted of a blueberry muffin and a banana, I met my teammates downstairs to take pictures and head to the Metro. I step outside of the hotel and it was WARM!! I was thinking in my head, “you can not be serious. I am going to roast in these leggings.” When we got off the Metro at the Pentagon, my legs were thanking me. It was like 15 degrees colder at the Pentagon. DC weather man! So off we go to find a spot to relax in before we head to the start. I am taking in all the sites and sounds….the people, the music, the Marines(whom I took pics with), the long lines at the Porta Potties, the Marine flyover. I was doing everything I could to get rid of the anxiousness I was feeling and then it happened. I do not like to put my running shoes on until I absolutely have to. That morning I was wearing flip flops and I had my shoes and socks in a bag. At some point, the water from one of my water bottles leaked and my socks got soaked!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! I could not believe it. I am not sure if you all understand how important a runners socks are to them. I had to have these socks to wear because they were the ones that prevented me from blistering on my feet. There was no way I could run in them though so I had to settle for my backup pair. Squirrels(you know how people says rats when they are bummed about something, I say squirrels).
So while I would have loved to have a dry pair of socks that I wanted to run in, I had to get focused on the task ahead. So I sucked it up, put on my dry socks, said a prayer and off I went. I officially started the race at 8:05, 10 minutes after the gun went off. I started chugging along. I was chugging along so good the first two miles that I did not even see the mile markers. I do not know what it is about mile three in the MCM but I started having trouble. In 2010, my IT band started hurting. This year, I started getting hot. I was burning up!! It was in the upper 50s but I felt like I was running in 80 degree heat. I had to make a decision quick. Do I keep running in this long sleeve shirt or do I toss it even though it is cool outside?I After I dodged some roadkill(still not sure what it was but it was HUGE), I decided to lose the shirt. I really hated to part with it because it was one of my favorite running shirts but I would not make it to the end in that thing. I chucked it and continued to chug along. Miles four, five, six, seven, eight. I was making good time. Approaching mile nine we entered into one of my favorite sections of the race M Street in Georgetowne. The people there are amazing! There are bands, kids with signs, people handing out snacks and water, just an all around fun time. Miles 10 and 11 were one word, WINDY!! The breeze coming off the Potomac River made me wish I still had that shirt. I could not focus on that though so I kept taking in the sights and sounds. Mile 12 is when everything shifted. I was hongry! Not hungry. Hongry!! I knew I would not see my Coach Elaine until mile 17 so I did something I had been doing throughout the race, I begin to pray. I needed strength to make it to mile 17 because at that point if someone had offered me a T-bone steak, I would have demolished it. So I kept chugging. I caught up with some Team in Training ladies from South Carolina, one was a fellow NC State alum, who made miles 12-13 seem a lot easier. We chugged along together. Miles 14, 15. Still chugging and then mile 16 came with a pleasant surprise, Elaine!! She was early and I was definitely glad to see her. Food at last!!
Once I was done, it was off to The Gauntlet which are miles 17-19, where we ran through the National Mall. I love the Gauntlet. Great place to take pictures :-}.
Then it was off to the infamous mile 20 where it was time to Beat the Bridge and I did just that!!!
I could not stop there though because I still had 6.2 miles left so after my photo opp with the Marine, I kept chugging but I would not chug for long. Fatigue, pain and hunger begin to set in at mile 21. My left knee and ankle were hurting, badly! As I stated before, I had very little issues with my legs during training and here I was in aching pain with 5.2 miles to go. Quitting was never an option but at that moment I was wishing a marathon was 21.2 miles instead of 26.2. I went back to what I know works and that is prayer. I prayed that God would continue to give me the determination and drive to get to the end no matter how hard it was. I had to keep chugging. Miles 22 and 23 were not easy but having so many people out there to cheer you on definitely made it easier. Then I saw it. The Mile 24 sign and right up under it it said “Food Station, Dunkin Donuts.” WHAAAAAAAT!! You would have thought it said T-Bone steak as fast as I ran to that station. I am a Krispy Kreme girl all day but Dunkin Donuts will always have a special place in my heart for providing me with the extra boost that I needed to go get my medal.
By the time you get around mile 22, you are pretty delirious. At that point, something is always hurting and one mile always seems like two. Mile 24 took me pass the side of the Pentagon that got hit on 9/11. It is always a sobering reminder of how precious life is and serves as motivation for me to keep pressing on as I fight to help save others lives. Mile 25, 1.2 to go! All I have to do is go around this long curve, hit the straightaway and run to the Marine down the street.
When you see the Mile 26 sign, the reality sets it. I did it! I am here! I ran from Arlington to DC and back to Arlington without passing out! The hard part is over! Now the only thing left is to make this left turn, run up this hill(yes, up a hill), high and low five all these people and run like somebody is chasing me so I can get my medal and that is exactly what I did!
I crossed that finish line with the biggest smile on my face and pep in my step. Once again, I had done it! As the Marine put the medal around my neck and saluted me, I could not help but think of my granddaddy, who was on of the first black Marines, my grandmother, my loved ones, those who I ran in memory and honor of, all of our service members and those who had supported me in this journey. As I hugged the Marine, I let out a deep breath, looked up towards Heaven and said thank you! And guess what, all that crying I did earlier in the week because I thought no one would be there at the finish line was not necessary because my friend Adam, whom is like a brother to me, met me at the finish line. At that point, I was so ready to get out of my shoes and get my jacket so I could be warm that I did not take the time to cry but I was balling my eyes out on the inside :-}.
I do not like to toot my own horn but I was proud of me. I knew what it took to get across that finish line and I am not talking about the actual training. Unbeknownst to most, this has been a year full of ups and downs, twist and turns, curveballs and homeruns. I have had to deal with some circumstances and situations I never imagined having to deal with. I have had to make some hard decisions about life. I have had to re-evaluate some things and people. I have been told no more than I have been told yes. I have had people doubt me. I have had people turn their back on me. I have had to swallow my pride more than I have wanted to but I am still standing! When I got into mile 21 and the pain started, I started crying. After everything I have been through this year, I was upset that I once again had to struggle to my reach my end goal. I could not understand why just for once, God could not make it easy for me. All I wanted to do was run the race in 4:30. That was my goal but I knew that was impossible at this point. So I prayed and I asked God why? He simply told me what He had told me years ago, “you are an endurer and those that endure fight to the end no matter what.” I did not necessarily like what I heard but I knew it to be true. I have never been one to give up no matter what the situation looks like. Let my struggles be a lesson to you. Keep fighting! Keep pressing! Keep believing! No matter how hard the road may be, I promise you it is all worth it in the end. I have TWO Marne Corps Marathon FINISHER medals to prove it.
I present to you my 12 favorite athletes of ALL-TIME, in no particular order…
1. Ken Griffey, Jr~~I can admit, I was a little obsessed with Junior back in the day. I have a Griffey pennant on my wall(at my mom’s). The first pair of hi-tops I ever bought were the original Griffeys. I had a VHS tape full of his highlights and Home Run Derbys. I would watch SportsCenter over and over just to see Junior. And I still stand by a statement I made a couple of weeks ago: the man has the prettiest swing. EVER.
2. Jerry Rice~~This should come as no surprise. When you think of the 9ers, you have to think of Jerry. The man holds bookoo(is that how you spell it?) records: most TDs scored with 208, most career TD receptions with 197, most career receptions with 1549, most career receiving yards with 22,895 and the list goes on. Add to that three Super Bowl rings, a Super Bowl MVP, Offensive player of the year honors, numerous pro bowl selections, a spot in Canton and you have the G.O.A.T.
3. David Thompson~~Man oh man. How I wish I was alive to see him play. Or how I wish he was playing when I was around :-}. The stories I have heard about Skywalker are just mind boggling. His athleticism, precision, vertical abilities and sheer domination are reasons enough to You Tube him. Need more convincing, Google David Thompson blocks Bill Walton. If you do not have Skywalker in your list when it comes to college basketball’s G.O.A.T. then you really do not know roundball at all. And if you have Michael Jordan on that list and not DT, then you have LACK credibility. It is that simple. GO PACK!
4. Kristi Yamaguchi~~You would have thought I was dreaming of being a figure skater as much as I loved to watch Kristi skate. Her routines were flawless!! She was flawless! And her last name was flawless!
5. Michael Johnson~~I have been a track and field fan since I was a tiny tot. Loved participating. Loved watching. And I loooooooooved watching Michael Johnson obliterate the competition every chance he got especially in the ’96 Olympics. Other than Namath claiming a Super Bowl win, I have never seen a more bold proclamation than when Michael Johnson stepped onto the track in Atlanta in gold spikes. His then record-breaking 200m run is still my favorite Olympic moment.
6. Josh Hamilton~~If you have been around me the last few years then you know how I feel about Josh Hamilton. God-given extraordinary abilities, #1 pick out of high school, develops a bad drug habit, suspended from baseball numerous times, during a “high” moment stumbles into his grandmother’s house, she welcomes him in, he tries to go to sleep in her spare room, notices a Bible, flips through it until his eyes land on James 4:7, decides to dedicate his life to Christ, gets sober, gets back into baseball, finds a home with the Texas Rangers, sets a record in the 2008 HR Derby with 28 homers in the first round, 2010 AL MVP and is still adding to his resume. And his explanation for it all, “It’s a God thing.” Now do you understand why he’s one of my faves? Btw, if you have not read his book, Beyond Belief, do so!! Life changer.
7. Steve Young~~Yes, I love me some Joe Cool. However, Steve Young was my guy in the 90s. Dude was smooooooove, calm, cool and collected. Could scramble, throw on the run and was not afraid to talk a little trash. Plus he had that curly hair. My man.
8. Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway~~Talk about a throwback. Just like I was with Griffey, I was a little obsessed with Penny. I did not have highlight tapes but I did have his name plastered all over my wall and I used to record Lil Penny commercials. If only those injuries had not plagued him…
9. Gail Devers~~This was my girl!! That hair! That speed! Those nails!!
10. Russell Wilson~~Gamer. Baller. Professional. Hardworker. Resilient. Determined. Playmaker. Gamechanger. Anklebreaker. Humble. Kind. Leader. Wolfpacker for life.
11. Vince Carter~~I know. I know. Feelin a little bit like a traitor. He is a smerf but even I have to be honest when it comes to VC. Between ’99-’06, there was no baller player I enjoyed watching more than Vince. His athletic ability was like other worldly. Once he truly developed his game to go along with his athletic prowess, dude was nearly unstoppable. That 2000 dunk contest?! Best. Ever.
12. Peyton Manning~~Now normally, I would make the smerf LAST on my list but I can not let a smerf occupy my favorite number. I am sure ya’ll were wondering where #18 was. Do I even need to explain why he is on the list?