This is 30

All names in this post are changed to protect the old and innocent.

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She felt bad that she kept having to leave me alone at the table. First it was to go get water. And then it was to go order ice cream.

No, she wasn’t extremely hungry or thirsty. She was trying to subdue her tastebuds that were on fire at the moment.

Samantha and I met up for dinner at a place that has take-out chicken sandwiches. She assured me that the tofu sandwiches (for this vegetarian) were also delicious. You can choose the level of spiciness of your sandwich and I ordered mine “medium” while Sam decided to go for “hot.” She said she ate there before and ordered medium but that she felt like it wasn’t spicy enough.

Well, folks, we’ve learned that there is a big difference between “medium” and “hot” at this place. While I was scarfing down my sandwich, she could barely eat hers.

“Kristin, what’s wrong with me? I’m in pain!” she said.

It’s one of those scenes that you want to be laughing at, but it actually didn’t come across as funny to me. I felt bad because there was nothing I could do to help her. (And she clearly was not in the position to be laughing).

“Do you want some of my sandwich?” I offered.

Sam said it was too late. Her mouth was already burning. She went back for more water at the self-serve station and left a little later again to order vanilla ice cream in hopes that the cold cream would off-set the burning sensation in her mouth.

“Is this what it’s like to get old?” she said while half laughing. Or, was it I who said that to try to lighten her mood?

Either way, maybe this is what getting old is like. Most of my friends and I are now 30, or about to approach 30.

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I have one friend, Brandy, who just got back surgery last week. Yes, back surgery! And, just like me she is only 30 years old! And, I have another friend, Maggie, who is about to get a colonoscopy because she has been having unresolved gastrointestinal problems.

Maybe this is the 30 that no one talks or writes (or posts on social media) about.

Except that I have been constantly writing and reminding you all about my year-long running injury!

We hear stories or see Facebook posts about Judy from high school’s new baby boy, or Agatha and her husband’s new million-dollar house or Angie’s elaborate wedding in the Bahamas.

We don’t hear the stories about the surgeries, doctor visits or that time your friend Sam could barely eat her dinner because she ordered it too spicy.

So, let’s be real. (I guess) this is 30.

Injured runner: Are you running yet?

I’ve gone silent again.

Maybe it’s the “extreme Seattle heat” — we hit the 80s over in the Pacific Northwest, folks! — or maybe it’s because I haven’t felt like writing that I am still injured. Maybe it’s because I’ve been busy doing other things.

I have been swimming a lot (but more on that later). And, have spent a lot of time both in and out of the pool reflecting on this whole, um, experience.

While the past year has had its low moments (due to this darn knee injury), I have to remind myself that running has provided me with so many wonderful experiences, proud moments and life-long friendships.

Last night I went to the Seattle Reign soccer match with one of my friends, Ragan, and her group of season ticket holder friends. I feel like I have been friends with Ragan longer than the four or so years I have known her.

We met because we both worked together about two-and-a-half years ago. But, it wasn’t the “fast friends” type situation. I actually walked over to Ragan’s desk one afternoon and straightforwardly asked her, “Do you want to be on my Ragnar team?” In that moment, I really didn’t know much about her. I knew she was nice and smart and was in grad school for something science-y while also working. I didn’t know she played soccer and had several half marathons under her belt. Once I explained what exactly Ragnar was to her, she was quickly on board to join my team and filled the last spot on my 12-person team.

Since then, we’ve done two team relays together and have another one on the books — the upcoming Ragnar Rainier which I will most likely not be running, but will still captain and hang out. We obviously also hang out outside of running and I’m so thankful for her friendship.

This morning I went on a walk at Discovery Park with Mo and Leah. They are both high school friends and we all ran cross-country together in our teenage years. Since then we have trained and raced many marathons together. Mo currently lives in Seattle and Leah lives on the East Cost. A few years ago their living arrangements were reversed with Leah living here and Mo on the East Coast. Throughout geographic differences, we have remained close friends. Walking around Discovery this morning — on the same trail we have run together countless times — I was reminded that I have been friends with these extraordinary women for more than a decade.

All thanks to running.

So, to answer your question …. No, I am not running.

And, yes, it is still sad and makes me mad and anxious all at the same time. But when I really think deep about running, I cannot be so mad. It has brought so many new people into my life and has strengthened so many of my relationships.

So, kudos to you, running.

Making friends in the real world

The woman turned to Sarah and I and asked, “Are you guys old friends?”

Sarah and I, seated at our table mid-conversation at the cafe,  didn’t know exactly how to respond. Neither of us answered immediately.

“Yeah, we’re good friends,” I answered.

“She used to work with my sister, who’s in the bathroom now,” Sarah added.

“And the two of them are twins!” I exclaimed.

From this stranger’s perspective, the three of us acted as though we were “old friends.” Really, we had “only” been friends for about a year-and-a-half.

IMG_1429The woman laughed and said something about how it was just nice to hear the three of us converse and laugh and that we just seemed like we had all been friends since childhood. (I mean, yes, Emily and Sarah have technically known each other since being in the womb, but not me).

I don’t know how Emily and Sarah felt but I was kind of proud that a stranger would think we had been friends for so long. The two of them are my first post-college friends I have made. They are my first real world friends.

I am now seven years out of college and back when I was a recent graduate, I would have never guessed I would find friendship in the workplace.

But, it happens.

It’s not too difficult when Emily and Sarah are two of the most giving, caring and fun people I know. They have helped me in countless ways. They go above and beyond for me and for their friends. They are up for trying new things (like doing races with me even though they claim they dislike and cannot run!) They are super smart and hardworking. (And, I’m not just saying all this because they had birthdays yesterday!)

Back when Emily and I worked together, she walked over to my desk one day and asked me if I wanted to go to Disneyland together.

“Yes, I do!” I said.

“Great!” she said and walked back to her desk.

I wasn’t sure if she was being serious or not. After all, we had only been working together for three months at the time. Six months later, the two of us and Sarah were at the happiest place on earth together. I guess you could say my friendship with these two progressed uh, kind of fast?

But, they have shown me that real world friendships do and can exist. I’ve said in the past that I have too many friends. However, for people like Emily and Sarah, there’s always room for more friends.

Birthdays can be hard

Birthdays were great as a kid. You got to have a party where you were the center of attention. There were cake and presents and all of your friends were there to celebrate with you.

And, as you got older there were milestones.

My golden birthday at age 8 because I was born on the 8th. Ten because you’re finally in the double digits. Thirteen because you’re finally a teenager. Sixteen because you can get your license (to drive). Eighteen because you can vote and are considered a legal adult in the eyes of America. Twenty-one because you get to have 21-runs.

But then as you get even older, birthdays become less exciting. There are no more milestones, just another year to add to your age to remind you that you are old(er). I mean, there is that whole being able to rent a car at age 25 for a “decent price” but that’s not as cool as voting or drinking alcohol, right?

This doesn’t bother some people, the whole getting older thing. Those people continue to throw parties and enjoy “their day.”

I haven’t really looked forward to getting older since 18. Every year after that has been one more year. One more year “away” from Natalie.

Sometimes when I think about it, during the weeks and days that lead up to my birthday, it makes me very sad and a little mad.

I’m getting older but she remains 18 … at least in my mind, anyway.

The more time that passes, the more disconnected I feel from her.

And I know it shouldn’t. Because, nothing has changed. Or, everything has …

All I can do in this moment is listen to U2 and think of her.

And, rather than dwell in my sadness, just walk on.

Because even though birthdays can be hard.

They can also be a celebration. So, I will do my best to be happy and celebrate as I know best — by racing a 5K on Sunday.

A lot to be thankful for

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving! And, thank you for stopping by.

I have a lot to be thankful for. Good health. Employment. Family and Friends.

But, what I want to focus on right now are my friends.

Some of my closest friends are those I went to high school and even elementary school with. When this comes up in conversation (not that it does very often,) people find it “impressive” or “strange” that I have been friends with the same people for so long. 

But, really, is it?

My high school friends and I  — 99 percent of my high school friends were my cross-country teammates — still continue to meet at Discovery Park at 9 a.m. sharp on Thanksgiving Day to run a loop — or two — before starting the day of cooking and eating and being with our families.

Thanksgiving 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

When we were in high school, I’m sure we talked of trivial matters … who was going with whom to homecoming, what’s going to be on our next U.S. history exam and running. When we were in college, we talked about our new “homes” (for the out-of-state college kids), what we were planning on majoring in, our new part-time jobs and running. And now that most of us have been graduated from college for a few years now, the conversations revolve around our jobs, finding new jobs, grad schools, applying to grad schools, engagements and running.

Thanksgiving 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

Running is what keeps us together.

I’m not saying it’s the only thing that keeps us together. Some of us no longer race (or run at all for that matter). And, there’s nothing wrong with that. We come to Discovery Park to see each other and we just so happen to be running (or walking) while we do it.

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I’m thankful for traditions like these. I’m very thankful for my friends.

Let’s be friends!

One time, not too long ago, I “complained” to my dad that I have “too many friends.”

“I’m just tired all the time. I’m always busy hanging out with people,” I told him.

In all reality, I of course was not complaining that I have “a lot” of friends. But, sometimes it feels, well, overwhelming? Time consuming? I am not sure what direction I am trying to take this post because I am starting to sound like an ungrateful person. Let me continue though.

“You’re lucky that you’re still friends with all your friends,” my dad said to me. “I can’t say that for myself.”

It’s true. From his childhood, my dad is really only friends with one guy still.

Friendships truly are precious.

Phyllis one time made a comment that I have always kept in touch with all of my friends, and that’s why I stay friends with people. I am the one always reaching out, making the effort. (Of course, friendships take two people, just like any relationship, so I am not only giving credit to myself).

I always make that “extra” effort to “keep” my friends, she said. Well, it’s because these are people who are important to me. These are the people who make me laugh. These are the people who get me through the low points. These are the people who will do (almost) anything for or with me. These are the people I can share secrets with. I’m not going to give these people up so easily.

I’m 25 years old and I have a good number of friends from grade school (we’re talking elementary and middle school, here!) I’m lucky that many of my high school friends have moved back to Seattle (or have remained living here). And, although I do have a few friends (cough, Phyllis, cough, Whitney, cough, Hannah,) who now live across the country, at least I have fun places to make a vacation out of to visit them! Besides, I guess I can forgive them since they will be the doctors, architects and attorneys of tomorrow! (Did I mention that my friends are super smart?)

Having been out of school for three years now, I have learned one important life concept: Making friends is difficult.

Think about it — all your life, all the friends you have ever made probably were classmates, or kids from your sports teams or any other extracurricular activity whether it be theater or band.

It’s hard to make friends in the outside world. I really don’t think I’ve made any real friends outside of the above mentioned. (Tell me, when was the last time you started a new job or went to the grocery store and asked someone to be your friend? Probably very rarely). It’s not like kindergarten where you just walk up to a nice-looking kid and say, “Be my friend!”

Your friends will always be there for you, if you’re always there for them.

The song from preschool is true: Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold. A circle is round, it has no end, that’s how long I want to be your friend. 

So, after saying all of that, what do you say? Let’s be friends!

January 29, 1987

This girl to the left was born on     January 29, 1987.

Today is her birthday.

She is my friend of 12-ish years — I stopped counting after we graduated high school.

Although, I guess we should not call her a girl. After all, she is now 25 years.

And, since she plans to live to be at least 100 years old — reference is on Facebook — she is a quarter-century.

She has traveled to amazing places and still seeks to see more of the world.

Ella habla Español fluently. She runs marathons — with me. (And, she was a sprinter in college!)

She’s smart, funny — um, hello, look at that picture! — and sincerely cares about others.

She has love to share with everyone.

Feliz cumpleaños, Joanna! Happy 25! Here’s to 75+ great more.                      It’s only just begun.