Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Soldier Field 10-mile race, The OPR Trail, and Crazy Thoughts on Chicagoland

The Soldier Field 10-mile was a crazy race. They capped it out at 3400, and it was very well-run, but there were still so many people out running on the trail it was amazing. The course was flat and scenic along the lakeshore. Beautiful views across the lake early in the morning with the sun sparkling on the water. The course was out-and-back, so at one point, there were people running both directions on the trail. The kinda thing where you didn't want to stick your hand out the opposite direction for fear that it would get whacked off like you were on a two-lane freeway. You could see the legendary Soldier Field with over a mile to go, and eventually got to run into the stadium and watch your picture up on the jumbotron. Running into the stadium was an emotional experience that brought chills as all the people you were running with started to cheer upon entering. Pretty cool. And the race was complete with some after-race Michelob Ultra and Washington apples. Lovely combination.

Another running highlight of our trip was the OPR (Old Plank Railroad) Trail. If you ever get the chance where you live, or where you travel, rail-trails are a great place to run. Around my area, the Ironhorse Trail, the Foothills Trail, and the Chehalis Western are long stretches of old rail beds converted to running/biking trails. The OPR Trail extends 20 miles through some of the forest preserves south of Chicago. We ran a short stretch in the middle of the trail and it was beautiful. The course traveled through lush green grass and trees in well-manicured neighborhoods, over a bridge with some amazing architecture, and a pond with a huge fountain. We saw cardinals up in the trees, and had a rabbit run with us alongside the trail a little way. We weren't used to the heat - around 80 degrees at 6:30 am - no wonder we only saw others walking and not running. I don't know how people run in the midwest. In the winter it's too cold and in the summer it's too hot. It seems they flock to the city or the lake, and other than that, stay indoors. We did a huge amount of adventuring in the few days that we were there, and rarely were there lots of people out playing.

In addition to the OPR trail, something I really looked forward to seeing was the view of the city from out on the water. The sunset from Navy Pier was beautiful - I think for me, the views here were even more spectacular than the ones from the John Hancock, and there were no tourists or long lines. My photo is only a short glimpse of the city - looking north along the lakeshore, it seemed to go on and on forever, as if there were many cities all strung along together.

We did so much walking through the streets and parks of Chicago on Saturday, after the 10 miles in the morning, I don't know how my legs survived. My quads were truly thrashed and still felt like lead by Sunday morning. We're not typically art-people, and didn't see a lot of the museums Chicago is known for. We prefer to 'get out' rather than 'go in'. However, there is still soooo much art out and about in Chicago. Grant Park and Millenium Park have some fascinating statues, pavilions, fountains, and sculptures. We actually had to force ourselves to stop and rest a while in the shade at Buckinham Fountain and pondered the personality of the city of Chicago - couldn't quite put a finger on it.

Baseball in Chicago was a necessity. A city that size with two teams . . we chose the Cubs and to experience the bleachers at Wrigley Field. Some serious history there - completely old-school baseball compared to high-tech new stadiums at home. It was in the mid-90's, and the game was sold out. To experience the crowd was a huge high - and to hear the national anthem at a crowded ballpark on Memorial Day - and hear the roar at the words, "the land of the free" left me speechless. A little bit more baseball history . . . we got to watch Ken Griffey Jr. play center field down below us . . . and have memories of watching him play in Seattle 11 yrs. ago when they won the AL West Championship. I must be getting old.

After two beers and two dogs, we headed out and narrowly escaped the deluge from a thundershower. We headed up the lakeshore into Wisconsin for some geocaching. It was fun sitting at the lake and watching the storms travel in across the water. There is some serious lightning out there. We don't have storms like that at home. Other than that, Wisconsin warrants no photographs. A lot of the little towns on the way were desolate - like deserted ghost towns, and in one of the nicer ones, you weren't allowed to swim from the beach. Odd. And the restaurant in Kenosha . . . I'm not gonna go there, just think: dog food. (Getnout has a great restaurant review of the place!!)

The coast of Indiana was a trek (geocaching again) on a different day. What a beautiful shoreline there. There are actually several miles of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore with beaches that almost look tropical. We stopped at a ranger station along the way to inquire a little bit about the area. Interesting to note that although it's a huge expanse of water, and the moon is what pulls the tides, there really aren't hugely measureable tides there. We asked about Mt. Baldy that was shown on the map as a point of interest. It seemed a place a lot of people who visit like to hike. When we asked about the elevation, I must've laughed out loud. Something like 120 ft. Yes, you read that right. I think that's less than the hill in front of my house. (Not to mention my regular running routes, trail runs, etc.) 120 ft hike. Hike?

And into the Michigan woods - there weren't any hills there. Beautiful forest preserves for geocaching - and we had the whole place to ourselves for a couple of hours.

Our first day in Chicago we had picked up our race packets at one of the many Fleet Feet stores in the ciy. We were in a place called Piper's Alley, and did some wandering. We discovered Second City - a comedy place which is the legendary birthplace of many famous comedians, including several of the old Saturday Night Live cast. In the same building was this 'thing' - the photo to the left. As a blogger, I found it very intriguing. This 'thing' is set up to randomly read blogs off of the internet. You can stand there and listen. Periodically, the voices/faces take turns to read a paragraph or so from some random blog. As you can see in the photo, the woman in the bottom left is reading, because the other readers have turned their eyes while they listen to her. While I stood there, one of them was reading from some blog about a person's dream they had. So imagine, at any random moment, one of them might be reading this very paragraph I've just typed.

I really ought to wrap up so I can get out the door for a run, only to continue later and read all the blogs I've missed while I've been gone. Some last observations on Chicago:

  • the Navy pier is immense and amazing - so many sights, smells and sounds there to experience
  • motorcyclists/bicyclists don't wear helmets
  • liquor is sold in grocery stores, and children are allowed in bars (at least @ Dave & Busters - and I learned that I'm really bad at video games!)
  • everybody honks their horns all the time, and the parking fees are outrageous
  • there are tolls on the freeways, so they really arent free-ways, are they?
  • oh, and - due to a hotel housekeeping error, our luggage, and everything in our entire room was missing upon our return to the hotel Monday night - but, we caught an earlier flight home on standby Tuesday which made up for it!

Perhaps my most favorite thing of all about Chicago are the trains. We rode the train underground and we rode the train above ground - the L. It was a true Chicago experience for me to immerse oneself in the culture. It was as if I was traveling along the rails of the historic past through time into the busy Windy City of today. The people of Chicago are very diverse - so much that we had a hard time figuring out the personality of the city - the heartbeat. We come from a land where people love their technology, drink lots of coffee, and have a highly acute sense of adventure. And there is lots of fresh air. We had a great trip, missed the kids tons, and are glad to be home.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Live from Chicago

I still haven't run since Sunday. I'm not sure if that's a good or a bad thing. I'm leaning toward good. My body is better undertraining than overtraining. I have years and years of injury memories - typically in life I don't go much over 40-45 miles a week. I have a good enough base that I can finally try it, but any time I try, I get injured. I think when I cross-train and lift weights it makes up for the lack of mileage. My legs were still pretty sore on Wednesday. Thursday morning I could've run, but chose not to. It was a travel day. We actually arrived at SeaTac airport at 10:30 for a 12:30 flight . The flight was delayed forever due to thunderstorms in Chicago. At 3:30 we were told we had a confirmed 4:20 departure. We'd been in one spot for hours, so decided to walk. We looked at the information sign for something to do and found a fruit smoothie place - the one on our concourse was closed. We discovered one really really really far away at the end of another concourse, looked at the distance, looked at the time, and figured we should go for it. We wandered down, purchased a smoothie and began to meander back the length of two airport concourses. Then we heard an announcement that our flight time had changed due to a window of opportunity from the air traffic tower in Chicago. We were now scheduled to depart @ 3:55 and it was 3:50. So began my first after marathon run. I think we were one of the last couple of people on the plane.

We didn't actually make it to our hotel - way outside Chicago - until 1:00 am (shuttle to rental car, rental car guy who hunt & pecked while he typed, major freeway construction, and the need to stop at White Castle at midnight - never been there - what better time to try it). The lady at the hotel desk had canceled our reservation because the audit guy had come in. Took her forever to figure something out in her computer (some relation to the guy at the rental car place, I swear.) Then she told us we had to pay for 5 nights that were already pre-paid at the travel agency. We finally compromised that we would put one night on the credit card, only to be charged if we couldn't work it out with the travel agent in the morning. Then we walked down the hall and opened the door to a smoking room. Lovely. So she wandered up two floors with us to open another door to check if it was clean. yes, but two twin beds. Oh, well. We went to sleep - with major tummy aches. My husband spoke with the nice management lady this morning and it was all straightened out - and now we are in a room with a king size bed and a refrigerator and a microwave for popcorn. Excellent.

But we weren't here all day - we went out to explore the Windy City! Fleet Feet Chicago, Niketown Chicago, New Balance Chicago, the Lakefront Trail, Starbucks - all the great places for a runner in Chicago. Okay, we also drove all through the outskirts of the city along the south lakeshore, we went to American Girl Chicago too (we have girls), walked the magnificent mile and all over downtown, walked through the Lincoln Park Zoo, walked along the beach forever. Coming from a completely different part of the country, it was a real trip to stand on the shore of Lake Michigan and look at the huge expanse of water as if you were looking across the ocean. We wandered out to a park near Navy Pier and watched the sun set over the city - pretty amazing sight. And what did we eat for dinner? Pasta, of course - it's the night before a race! And to get up and get into town and be early before a big race, we're getting up at 5:00, and being from the west, my time clock is going to think it's 3:00 am. Runners are a crazy breed.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

moving on

Do you ever feel sore from a race and walk around the next few days, knowing that it looks a little funny? It's been two days, and I still can't walk right. Seriously. I planned on running tomorrow but I can't put weight on my right quad and bend my leg at the same time - the leg just buckles under me. It's hilarious. It's happened before. Every time I run a marathon, but I must selectively erase it from my memory. When I was hobbling around the other night my husband thought I was sick talking about my next marathon. Maybe I won't be able to run tomorrow - if I plan a flat route . . . it's walking downhill that's really getting me right now - maybe I'll get in the pool. The pool . . . scary place. I'm afraid to swim. I'm afraid of putting my head underwater and trying to swim at the same time. I've done it before, and I know I can do it. It's just a big fear. I'm completely self-conscious, and I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything by flayling around in the water. I imagine myself looking like a fish out of water, flopping around. However, I have exactly 13 days until I see swimming on my training calendar. I worked out a training plan until the end of the year with lots of cross-training. I have a duathlon scheduled in July (trail run, road bike, trail run - no swim), 2 short trail races this summer, and 4 marathons before the end of the year, but no triathlons scheduled yet. I'm thinking maybe if I get this cross-training thing down, and I feel a lot more confident in the water . . .

My brother is my inspiration. He told me about his first tri last summer and how he got so emotional after the swim that he almost started crying. He wasn't sure he'd be able to finish the swim, and being a novice, had to stop in the water several times to get the water out of his cheap goggles. He's currently training for his first half-ironman later this summer. He ran the half-marathon on Sunday in 1:22:53, after running a marathon in 2:59:28 seven weeks ago. His recent half was just to get a gauge for his half-iron training. What a stud. He's so disciplined when he trains. He has a full-time job and a family (just like everybody else) and finds the time to train for it all. But I see him do it, and it makes me believe that I can do it. He used to be really scared of the swim, and just went for it. So now I have aspirations.

What I really am excited about is the training. I love running - with a passion. And I'm so excited to be in the pool and on my bike. And I live within walking distance of the Y to lift weights and go to Yoga. I mentioned to someone today how humbling exercise can be, but it makes you feel so strong emotionally and physically to meet the challenges. I've done a lot of running in my life, but never planned so many events in one 6-month period of time. I think the cross-training can play a crucial role in me not getting injured. And judging from my lack of quad strength as exemplified by my after-marathon lack of ability to walk . . . I think the bike and the weights will do wonders for my legs.

So, big lofty goals. I have some time goals for my marathons, but other than that, I just hope to be able to complete the training and events and enjoy it all in the process.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Never Underestimate the Power of the MARATHON

What a great day. Sitting here now I just remembered the song that was playing on the alarm clock at 4am when I got up - "just Another Day" by Wings. Funny how I was just blogging about it the other day. So - off I went into marathon day - more relaxed becaused I already expended my nervousness the days before. I didn't eat as much as I would have liked - I actually felt sick most of the day Saturday - nauseated from nervousness. I ate normal food, and drank lots, but still wish I couldn've taken in more.

Marathon morning went off without a hitch. All 3 of our kids were troopers getting up and out of the house before 5am. It was a a beautiful morning - partly cloudy, low 50's - perfect marathon weather and an inspirational sunrise. I got my race packet n'all that. Didn't get to make my third trip to the porta-potty 'cause the line was too long. That's okay.

The race started and all was well. My pace goal for this race was 7:45-8:15 pace - hoping for a steady 8 minute pace. A big range, but all of my training and recent races pointed in there somehow. I wanted to go out a little slower than that pace. My first 4 miles:

mile 1 - 7:23
mile 2 - 7:44
mile 3 - 8:03

mile 4 - 7:46

A little too fast, and since I missed the porta-potty line, I stopped just after mile 4 to go, relaxed a bit, then continuted on. My next miles:

mile 5 - 8:15
mile 6 - 7:44
mile 7 - 7:57
mile 8 - 8:05
mile 9 - 7:44

Somewhere right in there my tummy didn't feel good and there wasn't a potty stop nearby. I puked up whatever I had at the aid station in that mile somewhere - I think at the 10 mark. I thought, okay, still running pretty fast, better slow down - go to the low end of my goal pace.

mile 10 - 8:33
mile 11 - 8:34
mile 12 - 8:20
mile 13 - 8:21
mile 14 - 8:21

Still feeling really yucky. Started drinking just the fuel at the aid station, but threw up again (not that there was much in there). Tried the porta-potty to make me feel better, to no avail. Took my second gel - 3rd if you count the one before the start.

mile 15 - 9:41
mile 16 - 8:50

Started walking through aid stations while I was drinking, and actually had water and ultima at a station in there somewhere.

mile 17 - 10:09
mile 18 - 8:59 - another gel

Somewere right in here I got really frustrated. I felt okay physically - muscularly - but my stomach was still really upset. I didn't eat too much differently than on my long runs, so I should have enough fuel, and I'd been drinking and having gel. My pace was starting to be slower than my training runs. And my pace sucked. The whole race I had not been able to settle into a pace, which is unlike me - I'm usually a pretty good pacer. I remembered last weekend and the 8 mile run I did on the track with my husband. How we cranked out 6 miles in dead on 9 minute pace, and I came back to run my last 2 in 7:38 and 7:03. So I thought, okay, let's just try to pace out the rest.

mile 19 - 8:45
mile 20 - 9:01

Still felt sick, so I tried the porta-potty thing again - didn't work. I had water and ultima and water and walked a bit. It was really uncomfortable to start running again.

mile 21 - 11:11

So, looking at the clock, knowing my time was not what I wanted, I had to re-evaluate. No 3:30 marathon was gonna happen (8 minute pace). I didn't even think 8:40 was gonna happen - which was sorta my low-end goal. But I didn't want to give up. I've done that in a marathon and remember watching the miles tick by slower and slower and how awful I felt. So, I know I didn't go out to qualify for Boston. I actually figured it'd be accomplished with my other time goals. I needed a 3:45. Truly, I have no idea how accurate my logic was at that time, but I tried to calculate it, and thought that if I could hang on to a 9 minute pace, I could run under 3:45 and have Boston qualified, and not have to run a whole other race if I wanted to qualify this year.

Screw this tummy thing. It wasn't going away, and I couldn't fix it. I gotta stop at this point and talk about race support. My husband and my youngest munchkin had been all over the course cheering for me, and driving by hollering for me. The entire rest of my family - my other munchkins, my siblings, parents, nieces, nephews, had been at another mile mark hollering. So I come up to mile 22 - and there they all are again, lining the sidewalk. I ran by high-fiving the kids - they get a thrill out of it. As I ran past my dad, feeling pretty good, I said, "Where is that huge hill you were talking about at mile 20?" (thinking he'e been teasing me because there wasn't one) He pointed and said, "just ahead". Oh shit. He and my sister had driven the course and been telling me it was a huge hill and I wasn't gonna like it. I've trained on hills, no big deal. But the whole course had been hilly, and I didn't want a big one right now when this entire 26.2 race was gonna come down to the wire. I ran past my brother, who'd already finished the half, who said, "You're fine, just cruise on the hill, and then coast on in." My new motto. Dang that was a big hill. My family being there at that spot had a huge impact on my race. So did the little girl somewhere holding the sprinkler on the course. And the man holding the cardboard sign that simply said: Courage. I told him he should rip pieces off and hand them to runners. He told me I didn't need any. I passed a monkey tree somewhere on the course (if you don't know what they are, you'll have to look it up - but I've always liked them, and that's what they're called.) But this one had stuffed monkeys tied all over it like ornaments. Hilarious. Some guy in a white singlet came up on my shoulder during mile 23 and said, "you're cruisin'". He hung there for a bit - maybe waiting for a response. I wanted to say, "yeah, that's right", or "who are you, and how do you know?", but I was now in the zone, and too focused to make small talk.

mile 22 - 8:45
mile 23 - 8:45
mile 24 - 9:08

I was feeling really good. I think I must've blocked out the tummy ache (it magically reappeared later after the race), and I have no idea what physical pain I was in, 'cause I didn't feel it. 2 miles to go of that last 8 that I had tried to pace out. I remembered again that 8 that I ran on the track with my husband. Remember my last 2 miles? I cranked them out hard. I thought - I can do that again. I'm laughing now, knowing that it wasn't rational 'cause I'd just run 24 miles, but it worked then. I had gone over a couple of mind tricks, thinking - I didn't come here to qualify for Boston, so what if I run a 3:46 - am I gonna be that disappointed? And I truly answered no, but the bigger issue was that I had embarked on this mission these last few miles, and wasn't going to give in to anything. If I didn't run that 3:45, so be it, but I was giving the rest of this course all I had.

mile 25 - 8:36

At this point, I couldn't calculate my time, and couldn't remember if I'd actually stopped my watch at one of my bathroom stops, thus making it differ from that time clock at the finish line. And the last 2 miles of this course were downhill. Did I mention that? Sweet for me at this point. I was flying. I don't think I've ever felt so good at the end of a race, and I almost always finish races strong. I came around a last corner somewhere and could see the finish line. I didn't believe that was it already and had to ask somebody, even though I've been to watch this race at least 5 times, and knew that was it. I think I was in shock that I was actually running that fast. I saw my husband and got so excited. He started runnning on the sidewalk as I was running down the hill. And I was telling him - "Oh, my god, honey, I can qualify for Boston - I'm finishing this - I feel awesome." I don't know my exact quotes - something like that. I was gushing with excitement and we got so excited together. I ran through the line and ran into some friends I hadn't seen in a while, so never really stopped to think about feeling sick. But I stopped to look at my watch.

I ran under that ominous 3:45, and qualified for Boston. And looking at my splits - that last 1.2 miles? I ran that in 8:57. I kept looking at it as my last mile split, and was bummed, thinking I was running so much faster. Then I remembered the .2 - I picked it apart and was running a 7:30 pace that last 1.2 mile. Sweet! Granted, it was downhill, but man! - 7:30 pace for the last mile of a marathon that I'd run at an average of 8:30 pace, and felt really sick?!

I felt fine for 30-60 minutes - a little euphoric I think. Then I found the porta-potty again. Then I left and was sick for a couple of hours. My brother made me eat some chicken, and my husband kept my hydrated and put advil in me, and gradually I came back to life. I discovered that the recliner chair was really comfortable and went to bed early.

Next marathon - 48 days.
Chicago trip - 3 days away
Soldier Field 10 mile is next weekend, and I swear I'm not runnin' faster then 9 minute pace and I'm taking my camera and enjoying running with my husband the whole way!

PS - You gotta go check out a different perspective of the race - I'd forgotten a few things until I read this race report. Support is amazing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Fish & Chips

I like that statement. Fish & Chips. I'm not sure why. I think it's mixin' things up a little. I mean, they say you can't have your cake and eat it too. But - you can have your fish and your chips. Kinda nice if you ask me. Who woulda thought? Truly, you can also have chowder and a side caesar with salmon - or prawns. Or if you're just in the mood for a coffee or an ice cream. . . And there's a place across the street that sells bubble tea. I'm totally laughing at myself.

I went there today. The Fish & Chips place in the picture. (I messed with the picture in photo shop, but it sorta looks like that.) I actually go there many days in the week. I hang out there so much I know the names of the seagulIs that hang out there - yes, they have names and are distinct because they (3) only have one leg. I usually park there to run, or I leave home and run by there. But today, alas, there weren't enough miles to be had, so I took myself out to eat. I figured fish and chips would add some good carbs - if you translate the french fries into potatoes, and the fish would give me some healthy fish oils - and I even thought a little extra grease might be good to store up for my long run on Sunday. I'm not sure what all that vinegar I added will do, but I'm sure all those packets of salt I sprinkled on will be absorbed into my system, and I'll find them on my face after the run Sunday. It's all good.

I noticed the cruise ship is back today. There are three of them at times in the summer - they only serve this corner of the world in the summertime. I wish I could convey the true size of this thing and how it makes me feel to be near it. I see it early Sunday mornings when it comes into the bay. It's kind of an awesome sight: A quiet morning at the crack of dawn, not a soul around, the city not really awake yet - and traveling silently through the water is this gargantuous boat with a whole world aboard. I started timing my runs so I could reach the point where it goes nearest the shore right as it was passing. This boat is so big it dwarfs even the container ships that come into port. It's amazing to stop in the middle of a run, and just stand there in it's presence as it passes stealthily. It makes you feel small in a way, but not in an insignificant sort of way. It makes you realize there's a whole world out there with people and places, and you're a part of it. Typically I'm not the cruise ship type (one has only to peruse the photos of my blog and see my lovely camper to know this). I don't like the idea of being trapped on a boat without my freedom, and I don't like the excess, the gluttony and waste. I'm sure if I was on the boat, I'd drink lots of cocktails, run lots of laps, and find many ways to amuse myself, but I usually choose other vacation options.

I still enjoy watching the ship, though, and just wondering . . . where did they all come from? where all they all going? Imagine the stories they'd all have to tell - a day in the life of every single passenger aboard. I think sometimes in life I'm too judgemental, and somehow this cruise ship thing teaches me to accept all of these people and appreciate them for who they are, what they do, and where they're going. We're all on this planet together, we might as well all get along and make the best of it.

I think about all of the people on the boat, and I think about all of the people out in blogland. Have you ever taken a globe or a map and drawn lines from home to the locations of the people you blog with - or at least the blogs you read? It's an amazing thing - the connectedness of it all. What the people are doing on the other side of the city, the country, the other end of the continent, the other side of the planet . . . and I truly don't know about those people out there in the universe. Maybe they have a higher form of blogging and running.

I'm looking forward to my run this weekend - partly for me - just to run - but also to see people from here and there and everywhere and to have the privilege to run with them all.

I wish a great weekend to runners out there on the roads and trails!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

"It's Just Another Day . . ."

I was going to post the lyrics to that song by Wings 'cause it's stuck in my head - but then I actually looked up the lyrics and they were really depressing. Here's a better one:

Slow down, you move too fast.You got to make the morning last.Just kicking down the cobble stones.Looking for fun and feelin' groovy.Ba da, Ba da, Ba da, Ba da...Feelin' Groovy.

Hello lamp-post,What cha knowin'?I've come to watch your flowers growin'.Ain't cha got no rhymes for me?Doot-in' doo-doo,Feelin' groovy.

I've got no deeds to do,No promises to keep.I'm dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep.Let the morning time drop all its petals on me.Life, I love you,All is groovy.

I guess both songs sorta reflect my mood. I feel like I'm just hangin' out letting the time pass until marathon day. I've done my long runs. I've done my interval workouts. I've done some stretching. I'm drinking water and not altering my caffeine status - paranoia after my migraine last weekend and not knowing what to attribute it to. Today's my last day of spicy food, beer, and my ice-cream bar splurge. (see, there's too many migraine triggers to tell) Time to make sure I'm going to bed on time and not getting up early. I don't even wanna do any more garden work or deep-cleaning 'cause I don't want to expend the energy or make my back muscles sore. I know, it's just a run. But I get wiggy before a marathon. I'm at the point now where I just wanna get the dang thing over with. Bring it on. I just wanna RUN! I did run today. Three miles. Hilarious distance when you've been marathon training. I like the 'hood, but I miss running long. On my short runs, I can look out across the bay and see the bluffs where I go on my long runs. I'm looking forward to what I get to see on the marathon course. I know it's not as scenic as I'd like. And although it runs out on a peninsula, you really don't get ideal water views. But each day is different on any run, so I still get to see what I can see - like the bear who went over the mountain, I guess.

You know, though, I did get to see something really cool this week. It was a low tide week, and you know what that means? Beach runs, of course. With two beach runs in one week I was in seventh heaven. It's sorta like trail running cause of the rocks and barnacles in parts, but I was careful. I was running along and saw an eagle. Pretty cool. I've seen then before in the area. It's a saltwater bay, with a huge wooded preserve nearby. At low tide I'm sure there are lots of things for herons and eagles to eat. Anyhow, it was cool being right down on the beach with the eagle while I was running - it was probably about 30 yards away. I went down the beach a ways and came back. In that time, I watched 3 other eagles all converge on the area. Twice, one of them had swooped down, caught a fish, then dropped it. Really amazing to watch. I've never seen 4 eagles all at once, thought. No, not true. I've driven to their winter nesting grounds a few hours away, but then they are up in the trees. These guys were so close. Only one of them had a white head - I'm not sure if that meant the others were younger or not, and I haven't researched it. To top it off, I ran up off the beach and through the park past the geese with all of their goslings sleeping under the tree in the shade. A week ago, I went to a nearby park on the lake - saw an eagle, a heron, and a geese family all at the swimming beach. Really weird. It's like I have some sort of bird magnetism this Spring. It's not like I haven't run in these places before - just haven't seen so many birds. And I live in the city - that's what else is strange. You'd think the birds would find somewhere more remote - it's not like eagles or herons scavenge off of people like pigeons and seagulls.

Okay, while I'm on my bird tangent. I gotta mention something else. There is a place in the county I live in with an amazing blue heron colony. Last year there were over 100 nests. It's amazing to go and stand on the river and look up in the trees. You can see tons of these huge nests, and watch herons flying around, fishing, teaching their young to fly, etc. When you're standing there, it's like a prehistoric place. The birds are so large it's as if you were watching pterodactyls.

Okay, bird tangent is over. I need to occupy my thoughts about something other than running for a few days or I'll go crazy. Every time I think about running I go into anxiety mode. I'm ready now. I just want Sunday to come faster. I need to harness all the anxiety and unleash it on race day. I think the way I'm feeling I might go out runnin' a five minute mile and have some serious burnout by mile 2. I don't really think I could run a 5 minute mile, though. I guess that's a good thing, come marathon day. I get to go to a track meet today - that's not gonna help me not think about running, but at least I'll be entertained. Watching other people run sorta gets me pumped up anyway. And then I suppose I can read running blogs and get inspired by all the things everyone else is out there doing.

Ah, the mailman just brought a package. The little things in life that make me happy . . .

Sunday, May 14, 2006

New Marathon

Maybe I'm the last to find out, but I just saw this in my dead runner's society Email - there's a new marathon in Eugene. How cool is that? The preliminary course description is amazing. Why has there never been a marathon there before? Talk about legendary! Now I gotta rethink my training for next spring . . . And Las Vegas recently added a half in addition to the marathon. (I still like the marathon idea there). I got a different email the other day about a sweepstakes for free airfare if you register by June 1st. Hmmm - but what if I register, then get injured?

Okay, I gotta slow down. One marathon at a time. I just got excited.

Not much to post really. Just something funny on Mother's Day. I didn't have a very long run since I'm tapering, but needed to get in 8 miles. My husband needed to get in 6, and since it was Mother's day n'all, we figured we'd do it together - and bring the whole family. We ended up at a track complex in the middle of a sunny warm day. The kids hung out digging holes in the long jump sand box, and we paced out some miles. I honestly don't think I've ever run that far on a track without doing intervals, but it seemed to work out okay. There was a soccer game going on to entertain us. We were going along, maintaining a really comfortable 9 min. pace, when our 10-yr-old decided to join in. No big deal. She's run a lot. (She's actually my idol becauses she's completed 3 triathlons, and I've done zero of those.) Anyhow, she tagged along for a mile - barefoot - and held the pace just fine. A mini Zola Budd (or barefoot Jon if you live in my neck of the woods).

We had lunch afterward somewhere by a fountain with a stream between Jamba Juice smoothies and McD's french fries. (The nutrition value had to balance out somehow.) After several hours at home relaxing and having the traditional Mother's Day BBQ, my daugher said there was something weird on her feet. When I looked, she had pretty good sized blisters on the pad of every single toe. Pretty hilarious. Poor thing. (I popped the blisters - I know you aren't supposed to, but I was thinking maybe they'd drain faster than they would re-absorb.) So she went to bed with socks on, and I'm wondering if I should send a note for her PE teacher tomorrow.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Peace & Solitude

I truly love running with a passion deeply intertwoven within my physical and spiritual self.
And I love where I live. What an amazingly beautiful morning.
It leaves me to wonder what other runners see when they head out the door - far and wide across the world.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Low Profile

I was asked if I'm running an upcoming marathon and if I'm keeping it a secret. Yes, I am, and No, I'm not. Simple answers, but not so simple in my head.

I'm running Capitol City in 9 days. I didn't intentionally keep it a secret, but in my head I'm trying to keep it low profile for many reasons, so I think I avoided admitting it, not wanting to jinx it.

My reasons:

1) I've trained for Capitol City twice - both times I got pregnant. It became a big joke not to train for it unless I was planning a bigger family. So - with 9 days to go - I'm most definitely not pregnant, and am cleared to run.

2) I haven't run a marathon for a couple of years. My marathon PR is from 1994 (before having kids), and I haven't run as fast since (4 other marathons). My training has gone really well, but I'm just not sure what goals to set. I'm not really looking to PR since it's been so long, I'm not looking to qualify for Boston - I've done that, and I know I can finish, so that really isn't a goal either. If my training goes well I have a few more marathons scheduled before the end of the year that I can look at running faster. And yet, why not just go for it at this one? See what I've got?

3) Getting over my injury. Sometimes I even forget I had one because I don't notice it unless I do a certain stretch or a few certain positions in yoga. I took some time off of running to heal some overtraining injuries. I had started training again a year and a half ago. On Presiden't Day 2005 in February I went for a run with my dog. We were running down a residential street with cars parked on both sides. There was a dog sitting in one of these parked cars that we hadn't noticed until it started barking right as we were next to the car. It spooked my dog so much, that she ran back to me - in front of me feet. (She's an odd dog and although I carry the leash in my right hand, has a need to run on my left.) It all happened so fast, I'm still not even sure what happened. Somehow I tripped over her and came down pretty hard on my knee. I was scraped up pretty good from the pavement. And I was pissed. I started limping toward the nearby houses looking for somebody to chew out for leaving their dog in the car. Some guy came out and asked if I was okay. Then I felt sorta guilty so I said I was fine. (He could tell by my blood and my limp and my tear-stained face that I was not.) He asked if he could get me some water or call somebody for me. I was much too proud (stupid), so I said again that I was fine and proceeded to run down the street. When I reached the corner and was out of his sight, I stopped running and tried to stop the panic and hyperventilation that was beginning. The only way home, unless I went back past the guy, which I definitely wasn't doing, was to loop around. I found a community center on that loop, and intended to use the phone to call my husband. It was President's Day, remember? So the community center was closed. From there it was only about a third of a mile home - very short - but all uphill and probably one of the steepest hills in many miles around. I made it home limping, crying,etc. to find no one there. I had no idea where my husband was, so I sat and cried some more until he came home. I don't know how I knew, but I knew it was bad. And I was still so flippin' mad because it was such a freak thing to fall over the dog. So, long story short - it was a PCL injury, which are actually fairly rare. It was several weeks before I could walk without limping - several months before I could run without pain and uphill at all, and August before I could actually start training again. 6 months of no training because I fell over my dog. Injuries are so miserable - keeping a runner from running is the worst. So I'm horrified at the thought of getting injured again and not being able to run. I've built up my mileage ever so slowly, and still run very minimal mileage for a marathon base.

4) I actually thought for a while that my kids had a track meet on the same day as the marathon. The calendar was messed up, and I didn't wanna miss the meet, so I wasn't sure I was going to be able to run the marathon. The meet is on a Saturday. The marathon is not. :)

I run for myself. However, I'v spent several stressed-out weeks feeling like I was being forced to compete or to prove myself to others. I finally got over it all. I could go on tangents forever. I had several posts in January that I ended up deleting because they were so negative, cranky and frustrated. There's no changing people, just my outlook. I am who I am, and I run for me and my own goals, no matter who shows up on race day.

I've been so freaked out periodically that I've refused to cross-train recently or do anything that might affect my marathon - I was nervous last weekend that I might sprain my ankle on the steep trails. So I have 9 more days, in which my house will get way too clean, and I will get really bored and then really stressed and cranky and take it out on everyone in my household. My mid-week next week my husband will be so looking forward to me running just to get it out of my system. After this marathon, then I have lots of lofty training and racing goals for the summer. My first, though, is to leave for Chicago a few days after the marathon, play hard and have lots of fun, and run the Soldier Field 10 Mile with my camera and with my husband and enjoy every moment on the course!

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ta Da!

I know, it's not the norm for a mother's day present, and it's still under debate whether or not it actually is a mother's day present. You see . . . .

I'm a runner. I love to run in new places. I love camping. I love to camp in new places. I love to get out and see the world. So, we won a trip through a geocaching contest. We planned to go to Chicago (we had a voucher and could go anywhere). So, we picked a season, and I picked a weekend that I could find a cool race to run. And then we get a race shirt souvenir and see cool things.

We planned on a trip to Yellowstone for the summer. We usually camp 2-3 times a summer, so no big deal, right? But this one requires about 10 days for us, with sleeping at 7 different sites. And putting the tent up and taking it down that many times. And I'm a runner, right? So I went to and looked along our travel route and found a city that has a marathon and decided we should go to Yellowstone during that time. Clever, don't you think? But . . . I thought about sleeping in a bag in the tent the nights before and after the run, and decided if I have to, I have to. But . . . then I started thinking about how some KOA's have camping cabins, there are some cheap cabin/lodge rentals in the area . . . but it gets expensive.

Now, like I said, we camp a lot (enough anyway), but my husband is the one who puts up the tent and takes down the tent everytime. I remembered last summer how he kept looking at the tent trailers at the campgrounds and thinking it would be fun to rent one for our long trip this summer. So we tossed around the idea, but renting them gets expensive, and if you're gonna rent one, why not just buy a used one? The new ones are really expensive (when you're coming from a camping budget). However, when you're talking spending money in Chicago that didn't come with the prize money, marathon entries, bike ride entries, camping fees, gas prices for summer travel, etc. . . the summer expenses start to add up.

We looked at the budget and finally said: Next Summer. But I still begged and pleaded - just in a teasing way. I really knew we couldn't afford one - just kept saying how badly I really wanted one. I didn't ask for one for mother's day. Last week my husband and I went for a run and he started jumping up and down and saying he found something for me for mother's day and that he wasn't sure it could wait. Then he ran off and made me catch him before he would tell me. He couldn't wait because he found a super super huge deal - the guy actually brought it down to about half of what the going rate for this thing is, in it's current condition. So, we went to look at it.

We had to wander through the entire lot of new mammothly huge RV's, and even the fancy new little ones, until we got to the back of the lot and found the one we came for. It's a 1984, but has held up pretty well. It's needs some minor repairs and a little bit of cleaning and it's really small. Small is good, though. For us, that means it's still camping. It will get us up off of the ground, and it's small enough to not add a huge gas guzzling expense when we tow it. It will fit our family into it, and yet we won't want to be in there all day, so we'll still get outside and explore when we're camping. And if we end up not liking it for some reason, we can sell it at the end of the summer and likely get more than we paid for it.

So, when we get to Ashton, Idaho on vacation, I can spend the night before the marathon on a mattress. And after the marathon, we're planning on driving a few hours, getting to Twin Falls, Idaho, and surprising the kids by taking them to the NASCAR track (sort of a reward for my family hangin' out while I run a marathon). After a marathon, a car ride, and hours at the race track, it'll be so nice to wheel on in to the campground late, pop up the trailer and sleep on a mattress again and not hassle with a tent in the dark with tired mommy and tired munchkins and daddy. Akbal will tell you a slightly slyly different story of why the trailer was purchased - but mother's day present or not, we bought the camper. We're picking it up on Thursday. Just think of how many more races I could find and where we might end up on vacation!

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Weekend Away

The Sunflower Relay was a great event. We headed out Friday, and all of our team made it to Winthrop by late Friday night. We picked up race packets and spent time going over the logistics of exchange zones and which vehicle would be where and when. It's a lot less complicated than a big relay like Hood to Coast. (If you've never done Hood to Coast, I highly recommend it. I have fond memories of running in the middle of the night, getting back in the van, eating a lot, my legs getting stiff, feeling carsick, then getting out to run again on no sleep after we drove on ahead of our other van. I ran on a competitive team about 12-13 years ago - we were called the 'You Go Girls'. We actually placed third in the women's division. I have no idea how. I remember the top of Mt. Hood, how nice it was to reach the beach, and losing all modesty when looking for the port-a pottys at the exchange zones. I had a blast. I passed up another chance last year for a family vacation, and somehow scheduled a marathon for the same weekend this year. Anyway . . . )

Where was I . . ? We headed out Saturday morning - one half of us to the start, and the other half of us to the first exchange since we weren't sure we'd make it in time if we all went to the start. We got lost finding the exchange - well, not really lost, just couldn't find it. This area is very rural and the majority of the runners were doing the course as an iron event, so there weren't tons of cars driving to exchange zones. We backtracked and found it. There was still some low fog at this exchange, but it looked like it would be a warm day. The runners came from left to right in this photo - there is actually a break in the fence.

The first runners to come through were actually ultra runners, not relay members - well - the first guy was also on a team but running solo. You can do both as long as you run the first leg. Anyway, our running came through pretty distraught. She said she had some asthma problems. I think there was a little anxiety at running with a lot of adult trail runners, but she really did great. She was in tears and all red-faced from the effort. We assured her that the leg she had just completed was amazing, and usually only attempted by adults. Runner #2 headed out, and we went to the next exchange. We discovered at this point, that we'd actually be able to take both cars to all of the exchanges. We could've taken one car, but we had our drivers and our fabulous cheering support crew as well as our runners. Runner 2 handed off to runner 3 without any hitches, and we headed to the next exchange. This was where our youngest runner was to start. We pulled up to the course marshall who told us we needed to park and walk to the exchange zone because there was limited parking there. She said it was 400 meters. Okay. We got out and started walking. After walking about half a mile along the trail where the runners were coming toward us, we finally asked a runner how far back to the exchange. He said half a mile more. Nice. At this point, our other driver and next runner headed back to the car to the next exchange, feeling like we were short on time all of a sudden. We handed off sweatshirts, and the little runner and myself had to do a little warm-up to the exchange. Her leg was to be 2.3 miles, and she'd actually been training - running a couple of miles a day to be able to cover this distance. I tried my best to assure her that adding another mile of warm-up would be just fine. We arrived at the exchange zone about 5-10 seconds before our runner came down the hill and handed off. Okay, I guess that worked.

This runner that just came in had run the mammoth uphill leg. We grabbed a couple of waters for him and ran slow along the course. After about 5 minutes, he continued on the course to trail our young runner - just in case. I headed to the car and we bolted to the next exchange, knowing it was a fairly flat and short course that paralleled the road - and our runner had a 10 minute time jump on us at this point. We could actually see her on the trail below the road, so we shouted and rang the cow bell - and got an 'arms up in the air' positive response from her. Our cheering crew loved that. We made it to the exchange just before our runner was rounding the bend. We thought it was funny that she was sprinting down the trail, but then noticed our other runner (her father) had caught up to her and was chasing her. Pretty funny. So, a hand-off to runner #5 - and watching him go up a big hill, and off to the last exchange. My tummy was doing flip-flops on the drive to this one, because I was next and I felt like we were never going to make it in time. Of course we did. He came in, and off I went.

I think it took me the first mile to catch my breath - almost like hyperventilating anxiety. I was cruising along pretty good - sorta rolling hills. At about a mile and a half I came to the swamp. Strange, because at this point in the course, you're running on red dry dirt, but there was some residual snow melt in places. There really was no short way around it, so my split-second decision sent me through it. I hadn't seen too many runners - we were really spread out at this point. We'd been teasing our younger runners about 'trail kill' and passing runners. I passed a couple, but felt really guilty. They were doing the iron event - running the whole 21+ miles, and I was only running 5. However, I looked up the hill and saw a few more people - going up the switchbacks. I thought my leg was the downhill leg! What the heck is that? Oh, well. Nowhere to go but up. I made it without needing to walk, 'cause I knew there was a down on the other side. There was actually an aid station at the top - sorta made you wonder how they got up there with all the aid. I had a sip of water, thanked the volunteers, and continued on to the downhill I looked forward to. It was pretty fun, and actually not as hard as I was prepared for. There was one section that I had to walk - in between the switchbacks, there was a part with no switch - it went straight down, through a dust/dirt trail. It was either try to walk it or sit on your butt and slide. (The elevation graph from my gps actually shows it as an almost vertical line - pretty funny.) This hill we going down made me just want to stop and look around. The balsam root flowers (the small yellow sunflowers) were in bloom covering the hillside in amazing proportions, and the hills sprouted up in every direction. I felt like Maria in the Sound of Music. I don't have a photo to portray how amazing it really was. There was another swampy puddle lower down, and I think 3 barbed wire fences I had to climb through, but pretty harmless. I followed another runner the last two miles in - which was great because I could watch her feet move and see which things in the trail to avoid. I spent those entire 2 miles trying to catch her and couldn't. Knowing by the water bottle she carried, that she was running the event solo and assuming she would go a slower pace, it was very frustrating to not be able to catch her. With about 400 m to go, we could see the finish, and I was right on her - close enough to talk. I couldn't pass because the single-track narrowed here. I didn't really feel right about passing her at this point, knowing how long it had taken me to catch her, and that she'd run it all solo. So I said, "There it is. You can see it. You feel like going for it?" So she picked it up. And in to the finish we went.

That was it. All done. I'd love to try the event
solo next year. What a beautiful course. It'd be a great race course to train for 50k+ ultras 'cause it's short and early in the season. It's moderately challenging but not all too technical. Runner 5 had a few ditches to cross, runner 4 had some logs, but that's trail-running. There was a post-race baked potato bar at the local Twisp River Pub where they held the award ceremony. Beer and potatoes - great after race food. We didn't expect any awards, but we actually placed in the top half of the teams overall. I forget the exact pace, but we averaged under 8:45 pace - pretty cool with 10 and 12 yr-old runners.

That race finished off my highest week of mileage for marathon training - and I won't say how low my high-mileage actually is. Nonetheless, I got up for my scheduled 12 miles in the morning. I ran a loop from the town of Winthrop that we were staying in - up up up to a ridge with an amazingly vast view of the valley and Lake Pearrygin below and the moutains all around. The first few miles we followed a hot air balloon (my support crew on bike and I) to the point where we were directly underneath it and could see up inside, and watch and listen as the flames took it higher. It was a peaceful run - even saw all kinds of creatures - marmots, woodpeckers, eagles, hawks, magpies.

Great weekend complete. Back to reality at home and on to the marathon taper. Oh, and we did get the mother's day present - that'll have to be another post.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sprinkler Season

It's that time of year again. There aren't really enough words to lay down in my post to describe the feeling on my run this morning. Well, perhaps there are, I just couldn't do it justice. And really, to be fair, it isn't just today, it's the time of year.

I was up before the sky changed pink, rubbing my eyes. I headed down the hill and watched the sky begin to glow over the city skyline out over the water. Truly amazing and humbling. As I ran along, the sprinkler timers were just waking up to the day. When it's warmer, running through the sprinklers is one of my favorite things. There is just something playful and free about running through them and soaking yourself. Like you get to have brag rights about running through the sprinkler - almost as good as battle scars from something heroic. I guess it's because grown-ups are so seldomly willing to let down their guard and relax and have a little fun. Anyway, then you run along down the sidewalk hearing the 'squish-squish' from your wet shoes. But, alas, I just dipped my toes a bit - it was probably in the mid-40's.

A little way further I bumped into a goose family - well, actually three families, all spaced apart about a quarter mile. It was really funny - the first one had teeny tiny fuzzy yellow babies (okay, goslings). The second one had the comparison of human toddlers, and the third had 'tweens. But it's a guarantee as you go past each family that one of the adult geese will hiss at you to protect the family. (On the way home, one of the parents from the youngest family not only hissed, but flapped it's wings and chased me.) They're hilarious.

The sky went from a glow to a deep pink until you could see the spotlight of the sun reflecting off of the glass buildings. You know you're in a beautiful place when you past 2 photographers with full-on gear, tripods, etc. before 6 am.

What all this really is to me is the change in seasons. The geese are having babies, the days are more frequently sunny, the dawn begins at an early hour, and the sprinklers come on by timers. There are about six months of the year here that we keep the heat on, and for the next six we turn it off completely - and those have just begun. I look forward to so much more time outside wandering and adventuring and seeing so many things that were dormant all winter long. I'm looking so forward to being away this weekend and getting out so many weekends between now and the darker season after fall. Right now it's daylight from about 5:30 am 'til about 8:30 pm. We add a litlle more daylight until the summer solstice and in the dead of winter there's only daylight from about 8:30 am 'til 4:30 pm. Going running in the morning and the evening takes on a whole new light this time of year (like the word play) compared to winter. Sometimes if you're lucky, winter runs are filled with crisp frost and starry skies.

My husband told me about something he wanted to get for an early mother's day present. (sort of a family present) But if all works out, we get to pick it up tomorrow. It should add a whole new factor into my summer experiences. But I'm not gonna tell 'cause I don't wanna jinx it. And I'm definitely not a girly-girl so it's not some floofy thing.

Oh, and I met a lady today from the same place that Iliketoast is from. I learned why he calls it Brisvegas - I always wondered. She told me the seasons are opposite right now - funny to imagine. She actually was amazed at how often the seasons changed here. She compares Brisvegas to the weather in Florida - a 70 degree day here is like a winter day for her. And the Vegas thing . . . maybe it's supposed to be something that makes people wonder, so I'll keep it a secret for a while.

I'm off to a track meet, so I need to go find something to take for dinner. But I'll soon be off to the relay for the weekend so I gotta sing my song (in case you ever wondered about my URL):

Run, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Sunflower Relay & Iron Event

Well, I was trying to add the image of the elevation profile for this race but blogger isn't cooperating. (I'll refuse to accept that it's user error until the end of time.) Maybe I'll try to add it later. Perhaps this exerpt from the 'runner briefing' will be just as enlightening:








You gotta love trail running. I was intimidated by this course before. After reading so many ultra trail race reports recently, I fell like a measly 5 mile leg is sorta wimpy. Maybe next year I'll attempt to do the iron event - run it solo. But each person in a relay has an importance, so I shouldn't discount my leg.

This relay has a huge significance in life for me - much more than my typical training and racing. It was initially going to be a fairly competitive relay with very driven, goal-oriented individuals. But sometimes life happens. My sister-in-law is in her late 30's - pretty young in life. She likes to kayak, road bike, orienteer, and run. She's been a runner since high-school. Her marathon PR is 3:27. A few years ago she was diagnosed with MS - sort of out of the blue. Periodically she'll go through episodes of vision problems, numb feet, etc, but has continued to run through it all. She ran a competitive half-marathon about a year ago. She was marathon training through this winter but developed another episode that is preventing her from running. The scary thing is, it might be forever. MS is such a vague illness that you never know what the next day might bring. She's had to live her life a little bit differently and find a way to cope with the idea that everything she loves and values can be over in a blink of the eye. She doesn't talk about it a lot - just tries to be tough and overcome each episode as it comes - and hope that each episode isn't going to be permanent. There's no way for her to know when she goes out for a run if that one might be her last one.

She was going to run a leg of the relay, and one of us was going to double up and run 2 legs. Instead, her children are going to run those two legs. Her youngest said, "If mom can't run, then I'm going to run in her place." This little one is 10 years old. A little toughie. We talked to the race director about one of us running the legs simultaneously with the kids if needed, and they okayed it, but I think the munchkins might be up for running solo for their legs. (The team requirement for this relay is actually that one runner must be over 40, and one runner must be under 14. And there is actually one leg that is considered easiest and recommended for the youngest runner.)

Pretty emotional event for me. I've been running since I was a little kid and it is now just a natural thing for me. I've never run for a cause or to support any foundation. I helped my mom train for the avon 3-day walk. We've had cancer in my family. I feel sorta selfish in saying that I've just always run for my own goals and for my own sanity. This one feels a little different for me - hits so much closer to home. I think I see a whole different perspective when I see these kids out there running for their mom. It's such a grown up mentality for them to understand and accept the medical reality of the situation. And yet, they don't cry and pout and complain. They fight. Just like their mom.