Getting the bad luck out of the way early

In retrospect, perhaps planning to run a marathon that was an 8-hour drive away wasn't the best idea.  While I love Wisconsin and am happy to get to do my first marathon with my brother, I'll spend nearly four times as long driving as running.  And somehow it all seemed so much smoother in my head.

Instead of the family trip up to visit and cheer for me, I ended up traveling here alone...with maybe a few hard feelings about the lack of support.  And I do get my husband's point of view.  It's a long drive, a long time to stand around, and I probably won't want to do a whole lot besides the race this weekend.  Not really a fun-filled mini-vacation.  I can't really blame him for not wanting to sign on for the chauffeur/cheerleader gig.

It's hard for him to win with me.  On one hand, I'm pretty independent and certainly don't like being told what (or what not) to do.   At nearly six feet tall and strong-willed, I don't awaken a lot of protective instincts, but there are times that I want to be taken care of and looked out for. 

Despite my dread of the hours in the car, though, the first five hours went very well.  I think marathon training has helped my much of it is mental, and I'm now well accustomed to running for a few hours with just music and my thoughts to keep me company.  Time crusied by, though I still would much rather spend 8 hours on a bike than in my car.  I made it 5 hours and had just told Jeff how well the drive was going when I changed lanes passing someone and hit something hard in the road.

Ugh.  Not 30 seconds later was the feel/sound I had dreaded...flat tire.  I had to cross back across the interstate to pull off on the shoulder and got out to see that my driver's side front tire was flat as can be.

OK, so, while I'm all I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never never never never let you forget you're a man, I've never changed a tire.  I don't know how to change a tire.  Honestly, I don't really want to know how to change a tire.  I have mentally filed that under "things God invented men to take care of".  Unfortunately, there was no man in my car (see, Jeff!! I told you you should come with me!), so I buckled down and changed that tire like a Daytona 500 pit crew.

In my mind.

I'd like to say that I handled the problem with my typical grace under pressure, but it was more like grapes under pressure: wet, messy, and lots of w(h)ine.

There I sat, in the dark, on the side of the interstate in Wisconsin, cars speeding past me as I called Jeff crying.  "I have a flat tire!" 

"Oh, hon, it's ok...I can talk you through it."

I really didn't want him to talk me through it.  I wanted him there, changing my tire.  I wanted to not be standing there alone in the dark facing headlights.  I was mad at my husband.  See? I knew something was going to happen, and now here I am, all by myself!  To his credit, Jeff was absolutely patient and calm with his sobbing, angry, tire-changing-impaired wife.  How patient?  Well, he put up with me saying things like (as I had to hang up the phone so I could crank up the jack) If you hear of someone being killed on the shoulder between Janesville and Madison, it was probably me.  Grapes under pressure.  Sour grapes. B****y grapes.

And I'll be honest.  It was scary standing out there in the dark with those cars flying past me and hardly knowing what I was doing.  Thank goodness for cell phones, otherwise I'd have been trying to read the instructions in my owner's manual by the light of the passing headlights.  Behind me on the interstate, I could see another car which must have hit the same thing.  A police car pulled up behind it.  Eventually they finished up and he came and helped me.  At that point, I had the jack most of the way up.  If he hadn't shown up, who knows how long I'd have been out there.

The fun didn't stop once I was back on the road.  I still had about 3 hours left to drive, and now my speed was limited by the donut spare I had.  I was inspiring a large degree of road rage among the drivers who didn't appreciate my slow pace (hopefully not foreshadowing for the marathon tomorrow!).  Once I start crying (flat tire), I have a hard time stopping, especially when I'm being tailgated and honked at and shrinking down in my seat. 

I pulled off at the next city to get some gas and dinner.  Barely keeping it together, I ordered a sandwich at Subway.  Looking at my puffy eyes and tearstained face, the guy behind the counter asked, "And how are you tonight?"

"Fine."  Please don't talk to me anymore.  Please just let me get out of here without crying.

Sniff.  Sniff. Wipe eyes with back of hand.  Sniff.

"'s your night going?"

(Waterworks.)  "Fine, until I got a...flat tire (sniff) on the interstate (sob)...and I've never changed a flat tire before. (sniff) and it was dark."

" got it taken care of.  And it could be could've been changing your tire in 3 feet of snow."

(Sniffle)  "That's true."  (sniff sniff)

And when he finished making my sandwich, he handed it to me and said, "Have a nice night."  I tried to give him my money and he said again, "Have a nice night."

So.  I had to buy two new tires, but I did get my supper for free.  And once I calmed down, it was kind of empowering to realize that I could change a tire if I needed to.  I am woman, hear me roar.  Or meow.  Whatever.

And I'm looking forward to smoooooth sailing tomorrow.  Thank you so much to all of you who've commented, reassured me, wished me luck, and just generally been the best kind of support and inspiration a girl could ask for.  I'm excited for tomorrow and can't wait to tell you all about it!


  1. Oh poor you!! That's it - bad luck is definitely over...nothing but good to come!

  2. I would have been so scared on the side of the road in the dark. No one could talk me through changing a tire.
    Wow! Nice for the guy to give you a free sandwich. Small thing but how nice.

    My husband rarely goes to my races anymore. There is one race I regret not getting (Pressuring) my son and husband to go to. I told them it was no big deal and meant it. But I quickly realized it was a very big deal and I wish they had been a part of it. My daughter did come and ran the last part with me.

    You'll do great - all your bad luck is out of the way! When I am doing my half tomorrow I will tell myself I can't whine and complain because Kate is doing a whole marathon! You go girl! Roar!

  3. You've got all the bad luck out of the way, so tomorrow is going go great!

    Good luck, can't wait to read about it!

  4. Kick butt tomorrow!!!!!

    YOU WILL ROCK!!!!!

  5. Sucks about the flat but a nice random act of kindness with the free sandwich. I love random acts of kindness.

    Hoping you have good weather tomorrow and have a great run.

  6. Ha ha, I know it's not a "funny" story, but you had me chuckling with a great tale of overpowering your fears! Good job Kate! Hope your run goes fabulous today! I live alone so I rarely have racing "support" sometimes I get to go with some of my running buddies and that makes it much more fun, not that any of us know how to change a tire either. Cheers!

  7. That sucks...I could feel your loneliness and sadness (and just know I would have felt the same). But you did get through it and you even got a free sandwich out of it :)
    You will do great today...I can feel it! Have a great race...and kick some roaring butt woman!

  8. I've been thinking about you. I hope it went well.

  9. O' goodness - that sucks getting a flat tire on the interstate! You poor thing! But aren't Wis people so nice?! Congrats on your marathon! Where was it? (new follower here)

  10. I knew we had more in common - road trip "luck" and having never changed a tire either, I will call you for help when I have to.

  11. I am the same way with my partner--when I read your line "it's hard for him to win with me." I too am tall and strong-willed. But sometimes you just need somebody to take over...even though you will hardly ever admit it.


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