So I woke up this morning, groggy and still half asleep, stumbled over Heathen 1 and Heathen 2, gave them their 762 pounds of kibble, and stumbled to my chair to peruse “The News” ie Facebook. One of the first things to pop up on my newsfeed was that one of my best friends from college was fundraising with Team in Training to run a half marathon for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Feel free to donate to her fundraising here:
My heart grew a bit tight as I choked back the tears, so happy that one of my amazing friends was fundraising for a cause so near and dear to my heart. I quickly donated some money (hint hint, you probably should too) and then began perusing the Team in Training website, all the while thinking “I should totes run a marathon. I could totally do it.” Images of cute running clothes, Kenyans, and medals rushed through my mind. It was feasible. Totally. I had, like, ran track in college. It’s for a good cause. And then SNAP.
My mind blew away the fluffy happy clouds inhabiting my brain and quickly returned to reality. I can’t run a marathon. Why, you might ask? Cause I totally already did once. And it wasn’t fun.
Let me give you a little bit of background to this story. My parents produced three amazing children. Well, one amazing child, one heathen, the me – the “free spirit.” My brother was the macho man hockey player
I was the super professional equestrian
She ran marathons all over the world. Lake Placid, Philadelphia, San Diego, Nashville, even Paris….France, obvi not Kentucky, duh.
So in the spring of 2009, she decided to enter in the Pittsburgh Marathon – but this time it was going to be different. This time we were going to do it in honor of my dad in the city that he spent the last 11 months of his life in. (We) gathered a group of courageous, amazing, and dedicated people and created Team 10 to 2!!! And while they all committed to running or walking either 13 or 26 miles, I committed to a) wake up at 6am to cheer them on and b) drink with them afterwards. Screw the fact that I had done Track and FIELD (key word being field here – I threw a SPEAR), I was NOT running a marathon!
The day of the race began rather dreary. I zoomed around the city in my sisters sporty little car, trying to make it to check points to write on my sweet erase board super motivating notes to my sister!
I met up with her at Mile 15 and had never seen her look so exhausted. She broke to a walk and turned to me and said that she just didn’t think that she could keep going. I gave her a firm smack on the ass and told her to get her head in the game!!! She could do this!!
Finally, I offered up my soul on a platter and said “Katie, I will run with you.” I zoomed home, grabbed an extra pair of her running spandex and sneakers, and zoomed back – knowing exactly where she would have the hardest time running. The marathon hit mile 21 right in front of West Penn Hospital, which my family and I hadn’t even been able to force ourselves to drive past, nonetheless jog past in the last 6 months. I parked the car, ran to the curb, waited, and gave myself a little internal pep talk. This couldn’t be so bad, right? It was just the last 5 miles! I’ll be fine!!!!
We started off great. Relaxed easy strides. One. Two. One. Two. I hummed some gangsta rap music in my head to get the adrenaline flowing. This wasn’t so bad…and then…CRAMP!!!!!! My uterus decided that it hated my intestines, who obviously told my stomach to go suck it. There was a water break coming up and my sister recommended taking a glass, but we were right in front of The Church Brew Works and drunk kids were trying to hand out beer! This seemed like a much better option. If I was drunk I wouldn’t be able to feel the pain that was about to assault me!
She went to the left, I went to the right, we both grabbed two cups of liquid, but you can guarantee mine tasted better! My cramps immediately dissipated and/or I got drunk and we continued on in our journey.
After running for FOREVER (it was actually a mile and a half) I began to feel fatigued and begged my sister to walk. This was LUDICROUS! I was EXHAUSTED! I hadn’t ran farther than a mile in my life! I saw that the next checkpoint was coming up and told her that I would be right back. I jogged over to find gel on tongue compressors and thought to myself “Awesome. I have ALWAYS wanted to know what the hell that energy gel tastes like! It was so nice of them to take it out of the packets and have it ready for us!”
I licked it off and began moving it around my mouth, finding it rather difficult to swallow. My sister quickly met up with me and asked me what the hell I was doing. I replied that I had ate the energy gel off of the tongue compressor and that the makers of it sure needed to get their shit straight because this crap was hard to digest! I opened my mouth to demonstrate to her what I meant and her jaw dropped. She laughed for a solid 5 minutes before replying: “Seriously? Thats not energy gel, thats vaseline to put on places that are getting chaffed.” Bile rose in my mouth only to be blocked by the vaseline that filled my throat. I gagged a few times, literally wiped the vaseline out of my mouth with my finger, and we continued on.
We were closing now towards the end of the race. People lined the sides of the road in throngs, cheering and screaming at the runners to “KICK ON!” “YOU GOT IT!!!!!” I felt the adrenaline rushing through my veins. My sisters speed began to pick up as she felt the finish line closing in on her. I picked up speed next to her, arms outstretched, chest held high, when suddenly she stopped me and said “NO. Carleigh. You do NOT get to cross the finish line. You did NOT run this marathon.” I was crushed.
She took off in front of me with only a few hundred feet left to go. I slowly ambled back up to a jog, looking around awkwardly for another option, an escape of some sort. The entire race was roped off to keep spectators out, and there was no break in the line until you got to the finish line, where there was a tiny gap on either size of the huge stage to run across. I picked up speed and ran straight for the hole, only to hear people on either side start to panic “NOOOOOOO – She’s MISSING THE FINISH LINE!! STOP HER!!” “OH NO!! THAT POOR GIRL JUST RAN 26 MILES AND FORGOT TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE!!!!” I didn’t know what to do, so I creepily walked back through the hole, and sprinted across the finish line out of sheer awkwardness. The crowd erupted! The marathon organizers handed me my completion medal, patting me on the back and congratulating me for the victory that I had accomplished!!!! I was a CHAMPION!!!!!!
We slowly began making our way back to the car, medals around our necks, people congratulating us along the way. I made sure to thank every person who congratulated me on my hard work, dedication, and superb athleticism – I HAD in fact run 6 miles, and for a sloth like me, that was about the hardest thing I had EVER done. I deserved the praise!!!! My sister glared at me at first, shook her head at me towards the end, but was quickly vindicated when every stride to the car deteriorated my body just a little bit more. By the time we got home I was unable to walk, could barely stomach food, and was strapping ice packs to every muscle in my body. It was one of the worst feelings of my life, and I swore to myself that I would never run a 6 mile marathon again!! But every now and then I pull out that dusty old medal and pat myself on the back because I, Carleigh Fedorka, supposedly ran a marathon.
When I was 12 years old I was asked the hardest question of my young life: western, or english. See, up until this point I had the “It Pony” Chocolate. Also affectionately known as “The Devil,” “Spawn of Satan,” or simply “Bucker.” Chocolate was an amazing little 11hh mutt of a pony who did it all: he jumped, he did western pleasure, we drove, we barrel raced, we did 4-H, USPC, you name it – he could do it…with only 1, 2, or maybe 400 outbreaks of bucking in between. If I hadn’t been the ripe young age of 5 when I got him, I would have sounded like a drunken Irishmen while riding on a daily basis.
But at the age of 12, I hit my HUGE growth spurt!!!!!!!! I went from the midget size of 4’6 to the HUMONGOUS 5’2. My MerylMadonna sat me down and instructed me to pick a team! Did I want rhinestones and silver? Or did I want to gallop over 6′ fences?
Obviously, being the 12 year old with Olympic dreams, I picked this:
So we began horse shopping. Looking for a large pony who was not only athletic enough to handle my cowgirl mentality but also nice enough to take me over the puissance walls that I envisioned in my mind turned out to be harder than we thought, and we soon decided to journey to the Virginia Hunter and Bloodstock Auction to further our search! I was a nauseous mess the entire way down – I pictured paints, bays, chestnuts, and grey’s. My future conquests that my pony and I would take on: PONY finals, Rolex, most likely my A rating in Pony Club, ya know, the standard for the 12 year old who had spent the last 7 years getting bucked off in western pleasure.
We arrived at the auction after an 8 hour drive, anxious and excited only to realize that there were only 2 large ponies, one of which was 24 and the other of which couldn’t steer.
My MerylMadonna mother and trainer shoo’d me away, exhausted from the drive and the stress, annoyed at the *banter* that I had been battering them with for the past 28 hours, and *possibly* hung over from the dinner the night before. I began to wander around the auction looking awestruck at the line of gorgeous dappled warmbloods and thoroughbreds when suddenly our eyes met:
I sprinted to my mother and grabbed her by the arm, jumped up and down for her attention, and threw a grade A temper trantrum. I HAD to have him. We were SOUL mates. It didn’t matter that he was 7, had little to no training, and was skin and bones, he was BEAUTIFUL. Approximately 4 hours later, after arguing with my trainer that I COULD ride him, I DID need him, he WAS perfect, and my NAME was actually Karen O’Connor, donating my entire life savings of $378 from my first communion, and convincing my mother that my father would NOT divorce her for this, this majestic bay thoroughbred became mine. He was blanketed with the 68″ show sheet that we had brought to adorn my new large pony, and bandaged to the fetlock with the shipping wraps that we had brought from home, he was loaded up and sent back to Pennsylvania. I got into the car on March 21st, 1998 and thought “Olympics 2000, HERE I COME!”
Fast forward 24 hours later, and my olympic mount unloaded himself from the trailer with such potential, athleticism, presence, and ….
I had officially entered into thoroughbred land.
What happened over the next 12 years was what I like to now refer to as Thoroughbred 101:
Lesson Number 1: When you put a 75 lb 12 year old on a 7 yo OTTB, he will think she is a jockey. Do not encourage parents to attend competitions if they have pre existing heart conditions:
Lesson Number 2: Teach the 12 year old girl with stars in her eyes that blue ribbons will not exist for 1, 2, or maybe even 20 years. She better learn to love green. Oh, and it’s never the judges fault, just your own.
Lesson Number 3: Little girls who fall in love with thoroughbreds should really love grooming, mucking stalls, braiding, and walking, because 50% of the time you’re horse is going to convince himself that he is lame, and you will be hoofing it along side of him instead of astride him.
Lesson 4: If you just put in the time, sweat, tears, $560,908 in treatments, clinics, and feed, and about 7 years, you will get the horse of your dreams
Levi would eventually get me through my first love and my first heart break, fights with my parents and fights with my siblings, new friendships gained and old friendships lost. Unlike most fathers, my dad actually prayed that I would find boys and sell Levi, but no relationship tore me away, and then as repayment, Levi got me through every never-ending day of my father’s illness.
Which brings me to Lesson 5: If you give a 12 year old horse-crazed girl a thoroughbred, the thoroughbred will give her his heart.
So until something else traumatic happens to me, a la yesterday, I shall give you a bit of backstory into my life and just why I have turned into the slightly awkward, boisterous, and at times inappropriate human being that I am. I was raised by two stellar individuals: my father – a basketball playing, fly fishing, Miller lite drinking surgeon who resembled a young Chevy Chase
and my mother – a petite cheerleader, who was at times a little flirty, a little loud, but maintained her looks in only a way that I can hope to, all whilst resembling a cross breed between Madonna circa 1984 (its in the hair)
and a Meryl Streep in her Mama Mia phase
(it’s in the way she holds that wine glass). My childhood was pretty idyllic on paper. I was raised as one of three children on a dead end street, where the crime rate was at about the “My Child Accidentally Urinated on your Petunia’s” level. We were surrounded by pets; cats, dogs, rabbits, hermit crabs, tadpoles, ponies (good lord, now I know why I have so much debt due to my bills from Hallway Feeds, thanks mom and dad). Which brings me to one of my most defining memories: my first pony.
Let me start this story by saying that father Chevy did not like horses. Not only did he not like horses, but we learned later on in life that he ABHORRED horses, but my mother MerylMadonna was a raised a good ol’ member of the local hunt club.
So she persuaded him, reluctantly, to let her buy us kids a pony! It started off glamorously, as all little girls dream of: Christmas Morning, Santa leaves you a note under the tree to venture out over the hills and through the woods to Cochranton, PA and you will find this:
We were ecstatic! A REAL Shetland Pony!!!! Named Shana! Images of cuteness ran through my mind: Shana galloping over pasture fences, Shana rearing up in elegance, Shana lovingly hugging me with her neck, Shana running up to me adoringly when I called to her! Ribbons! Trophies! Money! Prestige!
MENTAL GOOD SHANA:
THE REALISTIC SHANA:
What occurred next I will try to explain. Instead of galloping fences, I got this.
Instead of winning trophies, I got this.
Our love affair was brief. It ended abruptly one day at the ripe young age of five when my mother suggested that we go on a trail ride together. We tacked Shana up, she gave me a leg up, and off we went to explore my grandparents farm. Birds chirped, rabbits sang to me, field mice made me a gown with glass slippers, oh, wait, sorry, my name is NOT Cinderella, when suddenly a large, fire breathing half zombie/half dragon, life sucking demon came running at us out of nowhere!!!!!!!!!!!
What came next I will never be able to explain: I VAULTED from Shana’s back and was knocked unconscious, my mother fled in fear, and Shana turned to me, sprouted a unicorn horn, and reared up in bravery to protect me from the fanged monster!
I will let you hypothesize what truly happened next before she was loaded onto a stock trailer and sent down the street to some amish kids to torture, but in the meantime, I shall leave you with my true inner voices picture of what my ideal Shetland should be. Thank you, and good night.
Ahhh…so here I go, finally taking ahold of the reins of something that I have threatened to do for years: write a blog. All of you reading this can thank my manfriend, as he has now “promised” (this will never happen) me that he would quitting sucking on cancer sticks if I gave up my own life-killing addiction, el book a la face, on which I proclaimed that if I had to give up my oxygen-giving statuses and blood circulating photo’s, I shall have to find another outlet for my slightly self-centered, mostly pathetic, outlet into others worlds. I should start by saying don’t worry folks – this blog will instruct you of nothing, will not be used to spread gossip and drama, and will probably at most times be simplistic and mostly boring stories about the zoo that I like to call my life.
Moving on to story number one. Today, my manfriend, shall we call him Ricardo for now, instructed me to take the “heathens” for their “exercise.” He knew that I would be chomping at the bit to take my new horse (don’t worry – you’ll be hearing plenty about him later) on a ride due to the weather finally breaking into the “should probably start shaving” degrees, and decided that I should multitask and get the energy out of a plethora of our brood. I hesitantly agreed, knowing which two he spoke of:
Bailey, the female “Marley”
and Cool Dude Woodford
Unfortunately, he forgot to prepare me for the most important ingredient in this recipe: my truck. The other options? A “gently used” BMW 328i, that while fun to be used to race around the backroads of Paris, KY, is really not what I would call the perfect vehicle to transport Heathen A and Heathen B to the farm. But like any brave eventer, I strapped my Charles Owens helmet and Tipperary vest on, loaded the children up, and shifted into 3rd….um, I mean reverse (Sorry, Ricardo) and set off on my way.
and quickly pulled into the most nearby gas station that I could find. Luckily, they had the liquid gold that Lord Luke, um I mean Ricardo, requires to be put into his “baby” so I quickly hopped out, paid that $4,098,302,300 dollars to fill the tank, and softly began humming “Baby Got Back.” The sun was shining, I was finally wearing a clean bra (laundry day!!), my half chaps zipped all of the way up due to a lack of long underwear, and I was off to ride my faithful steed – LIFE WAS GOOD!
I turned on my heel, ready to set off for the final 0.2 miles to the farm, and reached for the door handle. I pulled. Nothing. I pulled harder. Still Nothing. I was locked out. I peered in to see this face:
(obviously the face of innocence had decided to dress herself this day.) I reached for my back pocket, ready to speed dial Ricardo and have him come ride in on his white stallion (eh, hem – my truck) only to grab air. My phone was tucked gently under Miss Piggy’s paw, right above the lock button. I began to hyperventilate. Slow down. Breathe Carleigh. Lamaze breathe. Just like in Snooki and Jwoww. I looked around to find the most harmless looking person (ie the one with the most teeth, you’re in Paris now) and met eyes with a nice older gentlemen and his wife. I put on my best dumb blonde face:
and begged for his cell phone. I quickly dialed Ricardo’s number: Ring. Ring. Ring. “Hello Anastasia” (That’s obviously my name, I’m dating someone named Ricardo). I debriefed him on the subject. His response? “Try to either climb in through the truck, or have Bailey step on the lock button again.” This is the dog that I have been trying to train to shake for three years. She learned to sit, lie down, and stay in about a day – but quickly became bilingual, and then unilingual, and now simply speaks Spanish. That option was out. I was obviously going to have to climb in through the trunk.
I peered in, ready to end this already extremely awkward moment of my life, only to see that this “hole” in the trunk that I was supposed to fit into was about the size of my pinky. I took a deep breath in, got a running start, and dove…
And wiggled. And wiggled some more. Meanwhile, the entire time that my muffin top prevented my entrance into the car, my face was being assaulted by this:
I felt a quick tap on my calf, and wiggled back out only to see the saintly face of a man that I knew from the thoroughbred sales and his 10yo daughter. He offered to have her climb in through the small hole, obviously taking in my predicament. I gladly obliged and moved to the front of the car to distract Miss Piggy from mauling the poor child and causing my ((SECOND)) police report due to her poor behavior around children. As the small (she was the same size as my midget self) child maneuvered around desperate to reach the lock button, Heathen A miraculously shifted, placed all of her weight onto my ((brand new, unbroken, unscratched, white) phone, and I heard the most beautiful noise I thought I would ever hear:
Bottling my inner cheerleader bouncing up and down, I walked to the back and quickly filled the small group that had assembled around my car of this newest happening. Shame, guilt, utter joy, embarrassment, anger, and victory all churned together as I calmly closed the trunk, shook hands with the nice gentleman and his child, climbed into my car and drove off. Once a decent distance from the crowd and not within view of ASPCA, I turned around and glared at both heathens, ready for an attack, but only to be met with these faces:
Sigh. I guess they shall live to cause me anguish yet another day.