Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Strawberry Fields Forever . . .

My summer cycle has begun. I think I've crammed more summer in during the past week than is humanly possible. Before the kids were out of school I wondered how I'd adjust to having them home all day. This was the first year that all of my children were in school all day. I usually have lots of plans for us in the summer, but for a year, I've been able to run during the day, whenever I want, and work it into my own schedule. I have this cyclic problem this time of year. I'm not sure where it starts, as cycles seem to run continuously and it's hard to see the start of a circle. Let's just pick the morning. I inevitably wake up late, or turn off my alarm. It's too late to run. The excuses come streaming out. It's too warm already. My husband is leaving for work. The childcare at the gym isn't open much longer. I don't want to go to the track. I'm tired. I did too much yesterday. I'm sore. The funniest thing is, I convince myself that I'll go later. This is the bargain I use when I don't want to go in the morning. Later comes and later goes, and I still say, I'll go later. I'll go to the gym later with the kids - they can play. I'll take them to the track and they can run too. It's still too hot. I'll run when it cools off. Later. Later comes and later goes. I'll run when my husband comes home. Maybe we can go to the beach with the kids and take turns - maybe a picnic dinner. I'll run after dinner. I'll go to the gym later when the kids are in bed. Later. Eventually later is too late. Here at latitude 47 (side story - I actually have a wine glass with 'Latitude 47' printed on it from a race of the same name I did when I was 13 years old - it's currently our change jar for parking or whatever) - anyway - it stays light too long, and by the time the kids finally go to bed after the sun sets, and I chill for a necessary half hour - okay, hour - it's already past my bedtime. I then am exhausted from playing all day, and convince myself I should crash and go to bed. I tell myself I'll run in the morning. Morning comes, and I'm so tired that I convince myself I'll run later.

Today is such a day. Sunday my husband and I drove up some logging road from the lake by the cabin, and went for a 10 miler. That was my last run. And got the new car dirty. Yay! Monday was a designated day off. It was low tide at the beach, so I got a lot of sun. Made it hard to get up Tuesday - said I'd run later. Later came and went. I was gone for 9 hours, picking strawberries, having ice-cream, picking raspberries, then hiking down to Snoqualmie Falls, then letting the kids dip in the swimming holes, then hiking back. I swear I spent all night hulling strawberries, and still had lots more to do. When did I have time to run? I was much too busy playing. And then I was busy drinking some cold red wine. I didn't even bother to try to get up to run. I told myself I could run later - at the gym, at the track. It's almost 5:00. I spent the day hulling more strawberries, washing both cars, and washing the mattress covers from all the cushions in the camper. And reading the Dean Karnazes book - I'm almost done - amazing book. We're going camping this weekend, so the camper still needs some more work - I'll save that for tomorrow. I really ought to think about dinner. And when am I going to run? Bending over picking berries was some great hamstring work. Hulling them over the sink for hours was good back work. Hiking up and down to the falls was short but steep - gotta count for some calf and quad work. Somehow I still don't have any cardio in there. And I've got a hankerin' for an iced coffee right about now - so that puts my run out a little longer. I've already taken two days off this week, so this one really can't happen. Maybe about 8:00 - just an easy run. I'm supposed to run a marathon in - I don't know how many days - a week and a half maybe. My mileage is definitely not there - but maybe that's a good thing. I really wanted to do this one just for some pacing, and to notch another one in my belt for the experience. I'll have to mull it over the next couple of days and see if it's really on the radar.

it's going around again - don't know who's done it or who hasn't or who could care less . . . so here's my answers with my tag list -

jessica from the trails of socal tagged me, so let me fill this out -

4 jobs I've had: (not sure if they were in this life or a past one) god, buddha, shiva, mom
4 movies I watch over and over: No Way Out, Sweet November, Spirit, Meet Joe Black
4 Places I have lived: I've lived within a 90 mile radius of my current location all my life, but moved 14 times
4 TV shows I watch: Law & Order every night of the week :)
4 Places I've been on Vacation: Camden, Maine - Canton, China - La Jolla, California - Michigan City, Indiana
4 Websites I visit everyday: Google,, blogger,
4 Favorite Foods: popcorn, clam linguine, raspberries, doritos
4 Places I'd rather be right now: the beach down the street, the backyard, camping, running
4 Favorite Bands/Singers: Five for Fighting, Peter Gabriel, Lifehouse, Queen
4 Bloggers I'll tag: toastman, toasthater, josh, just12finish

Monday, June 26, 2006

on the go

School ended Wednesday, we took off Thursday. Typical family style for us - although sorta crazy. My mother has been hosting 'Grandma Camp' the last several summers for all of her grandchildren. We headed over the mountains to the cabin to spend some time with grandparents and cousins. My mom likes having a couple of extra grown-ups for back-up, but plans lots of activiites to spend time with the kids. It's sort of a mini-vacation for the grown-ups with a babysitter. Usually when we go to the cabin - a recreation mecca - we play hard all day, drink fine wine, crash hard, and get up to do it all again. We have a beautiful morning view of the valley, and the kids can ride bikes down the street to the cemetary and tease the lamas next door. We can walk into the small western town for window shopping, espresso and ice-cream, and the lake is a few miles up the hill. What more could you want?

So, it was a real bummer when I had to get in those early morning sunrise runs out on the trails with panoric views of the mountains and lakes against a clear blue sky before blistering hot sunshine seared the land. My cross-training adventures continued as well. I came back from a hilly (uphill to see the view and back down) 8 miler, and switched to my biking gear to go for a ride with my father. Around home, I ride on flat, sea-level ground. Out at the cabin, there were no cars around, and the hilly route was calling. It was beautiful and a challenge to keep up with my father. He's the sort of 65 year old man who's run 50+ marathons in his time, many many ultras, and is now a crazy cyclist. He's doing some group ride later this summer - the RAW ride, touring several days with crazy mileage. Anyhow, we only went 15 miles - that was enough for me - then my dad continued to ride to the next town over - and if he wasn't tired, he was going to the town beyond that. I was just his warm-up ride. So, pretty tired I was. I had 20 minutes to shower and head up to the lake with the kids and grandma. They had a 9:00 scheduled community service time with Ranger Rick to shovel and rake sand at the beach. After an hour and a half of that, I was pretty wasted.

My husband deciced to buy a new car and drive it over Friday night to hang with us. The mountain bike trails were calling to him. We bought a mini-van a couple years ago, and have existed proudly with one car for this long. Our life is getting too busy with scheduling for 5 of us, so two cars it is. We went hiking early Saturday - I ended up just going partway with our 2 little ones, then heading back down to play at a nearby boat launch and watch the people coming and going from the lake. This one family of three were heading out in an old rowboat - I swear it was made of tin - with a big rock they hoisted in for an anchor - some sticks to prop the motor so it wouldn't drag - minimal fishing gear and a picnic cooler. They were cracking up at their makeshift adventure - said somebody had given them the boat. They put in and as they drifted out, the woman said, "We're leaking pretty good, I'll just put my foot over the hole." They all laughed at themselves, and the husband said he had a bail bucket on board. They assured me they wouldn't go too far from shore and make me come in for a rescue. I think they must've had the best time out of anyone on the lake that day.

I swam a bit at a different lake at some point during the weekend, but I can't really call it cross-training - mostly riding the waves. I think the best adventure was yesterday. My husband and our oldest had found a couple of geocaches on the Patterson Mountain hike, but we wanted one more. All of the cousins and my sisters had headed home. So, we drug my parents out with our kids for one last hurrah. We loaded up for a 'mountain bike' ride out a two-mile trail one way to find a geocache. A four-mile round trip ride seems pretty minimal, I know, but for one, consider that it was about 95 degrees - 35 celcius. Damn hot. And our 5-year old has training wheels, and I had my road bike, not a mtn. bike. Not too worry - it was a flat, soft trail along the river. Most of our little group mosied along. My husband and I took turns shadowing our little rider, then going ahead and tracking back. Our dog is part shepherd, so she feels the need to always be in the back - it's a herding mentality and she feels more secure bringing in the herd. The mosquitoes were horrible. Nasty horrible. The trail went through patches of sun and shade - almost damp in the shade. Our littlest had issues with her training wheels on the soft parts where her back wheel would just spin and she wouldn't go anywhere. It was tempting to push her, but she'd just hop off her bike, give it a push, and continue on. She stopped in one shady spot, and said it smelled like a rain forest. I though it was pretty astute for 5 yrs - and I don't think she's ever been in a rain forest. Then came the mosquitoes. They didn't land on you when you were moving. As soon as she stopped, they were all around her. She hopped off her bike, started running around and screaming. I said, "honey, hop back on and keep moving and they can't keep up with you." She got on and rode like a bat outta hell the rest of the way. It was the funniest thing I've ever seen. We got to the end of the trail by the river, and took turns taking the people mover across the river - sort of a hand-crank powered cage on a cable. A lot of work, but sort of refreshing over the river with the breeze. Our oldest munchkin found the geocache. The dog took a long dip in the water, and we headed back in the same fashion with my husband and I trailing the little one. He seemed fine with her, and our 8-year old was getting worn out from the heat, so I rode on ahead with her. I rode 'til the last half mile with her, gave her some water and words of encouragement to finish, then doubled back most of the route to find the little one. My husband and I watched together as her training wheel screws came out. We let her start to walk as we fussed with it - my husband reaching for his tools. Within moments, mosquitoes swarmed again. I said, bag it - lets just pull it. He dragged it a little ways to keep moving, but it was too slow for the skeeters and they were still nasty. He finally put it on his lap and rode that way in. I stayed with the little one, holding her helmet while she started to run - pacing herself - to keep ahead of the skeeters. Did I say they were evil skeeters - beyond belief? Her velcro viser had fallen off her helmet, and every time I tried to stop to put it on, the skeeters were there - we're talking like 50 at once. I asked her if she wanted a piggy back, and she refused. She hates them. She actually jogged about half a mile this way, stopping to rest, red in the face. Finally she got whiney - every time she stopped, her mosquito friends were there. So, helmet on, she climbed onto my bike, held on tight, and I balanced her on my back the last mile in. Way hilarious. My ten year-old was at the last quarter mile wanting to help. I asked her to wait for the dog, who had gotten so hot, was nowhere in sight. As soon as I came in, my husband headed back out, put our oldest on his handlebars, and called the dog back in. What a crack-up. It was all like some sort of freakish relay. All I know is that I was so mentally fried from the heat that I had to go hang-out downstairs back at the cabin. It's an older home that has concrete walls on half of the downstairs so it was nice and cool.

So, back at home I have no athletic endeavors for the day. Except that it's low tide, and forecast to be over 90 degrees - a rarity on the west side of the mountains - especially in June. So, I'm thinking a few hours in the breeze off the water sounds magnificent.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

First Day of Summer

To touch the earth is to have harmony with nature. - Oglala Sioux proverb

We framed this photo in a much larger version with the quote and gave it to a teacher as a gift today. It's a picture of the whole clan hiking on the camping trip. It made him cry - and he's not the cryin' type, really. Pretty cool for it to mean so much that it brought that emotion. Mushy, I know. But really cool. Today was the last day of school. Another year gone by. When I was in 8th grade I gave a speech at graduation. My ending sentence was, "and so, it's just a memory . . . some memories last forever . . ." It's so true. My kids asked why I wouldn't pay for school yearbooks - my reasoning (althought I didn't phrase it like this to them) is that they're too young, and it really won't mean a lot to them when they look back on it. I figure the high-school yearbooks will be more valuable and worth the money spent. And yet, these young years are what shape them as people in some ways. They learn how to be a person in society, how to get along with others, what they like and don't like, how to problem-solve and that they can fight any cause they feel is worthy. Perhaps I'm hoping photographs of this era will suffice for memories. By the time they're older it'll probably be some sort of memory chip implanted in their index finger.

Today really is the first day of summer - the solstice. I love the change of seasons. There are so many parallels to the seasons of life and change in the world. And really, I love summer. Around here, summer is the only really warm season, so it's when everyone camps, hikes, picnics, barbecues, runs, bikes, goes to outdoor concerts, festivals, farmer's markets. It's almost as if these things are nonexistent during the other three seasons, except for the die-hards. So now I feel like we have 2 and a half months until school starts again to cram in as much as possible. It goes by fast. And sometimes I feel like summer should be lazy with sleeping in and time to piddle away in the garden and at the beach. Such a quandary . . .

It was great to 'just run' today. I feel like I've been so busy plotting courses, measuring distances, planning my water stops, checking my splits, etc. Today I parked at my favorite spot and ran at the beach. I plugged into my ipod, but kept it on low so I could hear life around me. It was one of those days that I just wandered on, lost in my run, and somehow ended up back at the finish. (and treated myself to a bubble tea). When I stopped, my legs were still pretty sore from my long run Monday - lead legs I like to say. I took Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. Friday and Saturday 'cause I needed it after all the hiking, and Sunday 'cause it was Father's Day. So I did a long run on a Monday. Weird. Don't try it. Everything was off. I planned it to be 22 with my map software, and indeed according to my GPS download it was 21.95. Of course, I had to wait for the download because the GPS decided to blip off for 2+ miles somewhere around mile 7, so I had to estimate the rest of my run in progress. The whole run started off bad when I went to park at Greenlake. You can park there for free for 4 hours, as opposed to the metered street parking. Cool, I thought, since I needed to stop at one of the nearby running stores to purchase some gel. Except I ran into the cranky lady in the parking lot who I felt the need to have a confrontation with - the politics of fighting over a parking space. I decided it wasn't worth my time, paid for a meter while I ran in to by Gu, then parked at a different lot halfway around the lake. So, right off, this screwed up my mapping. And the lady in the running store tried really hard to find my some safety pins for my gels, but to no avail. I crammed as many as I could into my pockets, and used some other binder clip she loaned me for another - which politely slipped down my shorts with the gel at mile 5. Halfway out I turned off my ipod and shoved it in my gel pocket. I don't usually bring my ipod on my long runs, and for some reason felt the need. The whole run was just stale and slow. I was running 10 minute pace. And sure, that's not bad, but I usually run about 9:20 pace for my long runs, so when I ended up being out for 4 hours, which included 3 unscheduled walk breaks - something else I usually don't do - I was pretty dang sore and cranky. I guess I finished it. I got in the training. I didn't have any major issues. I didn't pass out when I got home - that trusty chocolate soy milk is still doing the trick. I'm just bummed that it was just so slow and boring. I even had a hard time figuring out where I wanted to go, and usually I get so excited about that. I guess if I really look hard and analyze the whole thing . . . there was this little old man I passed somewhere out there - must've been in his late 80's - with funky huge glasses on. He was all hunched over and truckin' along as slow as could be. When I approached, he smiled with a big grin, and made running motions with his arms. Take what you want out of it. No words were exchanged. Just two people out in the world - connecting in some way. People make the world go round.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Camping Trip

I'm back to civilization today after some camping time in the eastern half of the state. Civilization being - drinking real espresso while my husband and I meandered through the REI flagship store while he took a work break, and Air Force One was flying into town and likely causing havoc with freeway traffic.

Our children currently attend on alternative school within the public school district. It has a Native American/Cultural basis with an emphasis toward outdoor education. Curriculum is based partly on expedition learning in which a topic is chosen (struggle and resistance, mapping and orienteering, storytelling from around the world, etc.) and the children learn the basic educational concepts through these themes. All of the clans (they call them clans, not classes, and each one has an animal name - Eagle Clan, Fox Clan, Otter Clan, etc.) do lots of outdoor trips, and overnight camping is included - even down to the first graders.

This week I chaperoned a camping trip with 4th/5th grade students to Sun Lakes. It was an amazing and exhausting experience in so many ways. The area we camped in was surrounded by canyon walls due to the geological formation of the area. We could hear the echo of coyotes at night. We took the kids to see the Grand Coulee Dam (the 3rd largest dam in the world), and toured the inside. The security was pretty intense - like going through the airport. With the amount of cement it took to make the dam, you could actually pave a sidewalk all the way around the perimeter of the United States. Interesting trivia. We visited a nearby Colville Tribal museum, and took the kids hiking up Steamboat Rock nearby. We spent another day hiking through Dry Falls, which when it was an actual waterfall, was said to be about 5 times that of Niagara Falls. We hiked through Lenora Caves where apparently some native tribes still consider it sacred land and come to collect herbs. There are ancient petroglyphs in this area as well, though we didn't see any - unless you count grafitti. One of the kids made an interesting comment. Imagine hundreds of years from now, someone happening upon some current-day grafitti and considering it a valuable tool for historical language study, much like we consider petroglyphs. It makes you reconsider what petrogryphs really are. On our return trip home we took the kids through the Ironhorse tunnel - over two miles long on a rail trail, and about 99% pitch black in the center. We stopped midway, had the kids turn off all of their flashlights, stood in silence, and one of our chaperones played the didgeridoo he'd brought along. Pretty wild. I think if I'd heard that from the entrance to the tunnel, I'd have had second thoughts about going in.

The kids were such troopers on this trip. There were kids afraid to sleep in a tent away from parents, kids afraid of the cliffs we hiked up, down, and across, afraid of the steep glass elevator at the dam, afraid of rattlesnakes (yes, we did find one - also saw lots of deer, raccoons, marmots, bats, magpies . . ), afraid when they were so tired on our hikes that they wouldn't be able to make it back to camp, afraid to walk round trip in the dark for 2 hours through the tunnel. There were episodes of stress and tears on many different occasions. We had a 'thank-you' circle in the native american style before leaving camp, and I brought up these points. That I was thankful to be able to witness all of these kids have these fears, and be able to overcome them. Their teacher does a great job of showing the kids that it's okay to push the limits a little bit sometimes because the rewards are something you'll never regret. In four days, we actually accumulated about 20 miles of hiking/walking - pretty impressive for 10-yr-old kids.

I was actually able to go running all three mornings on the trip. When I first asked the teacher if that'd be okay, he jokingly told me he'd tie jingle bells to my shoes to alert the rattlesnakes. I chose to avoid the trails and run on the roads at that point. I got up between 4:30 and 5:00 so I could run and be showered before the sleepy campers crawled out of their tents, and that way my run didn't interfere with breakfast prep. Running along the canyon walls out to these lakes that appeared alongside was really beautiful and something I didn't expect to enjoy at all. I come from a land of lush green trees, and never suspected there was such beauty in dry areas. The canyon was really humbling in a way. I took some great photos of the sun coming up over the walls, and really enjoyed the quiet time to myself during the trip. My legs are pretty tired from the hikes and walks and running. I have no idea how these kids all got up and went to school today. I noticed 2 kids in my car asleep on the way home yesterday. And today is supposed to be field day at school. Crazy.

Monday, June 12, 2006


My week started off with a 14 miler on Monday. Pretty good. It was supposed to be my Sunday run, but we had company that day. The hill at mile something seemed to go up and up, and when I thought I was done with it, it turned and went up some more. Tuesday I ran 6, and then rode my bike for an hour. The bike is a crazy thing. First I had to figure out which bike was mine, then try to pull the thing down off of the hook. That feat itself seemed a pretty good workout for the day. Upon discovering the bike rack was currently not on the car, I felt the need to shove the bike into the car. Another good challenge. When I finally got on my bike, and figured out which way my helmet when on, and how the gears work, I was off and running . . . no, biking, I guess. I think I averaged13 -15 miles an hour. Don't really know how that chalks up to Lance n'all, but it suited me fine. I was mostly on a flat paved bike path - one small hill at the half way that I forced myself to do so I could play with my gears. I forgot the path goes along the beach, and it's amazing how many beach-goers like to stand in the middle of the bike path. A while after I had come home, I found myself unable to move from the couch, and fell asleep for an hour. What's with that? I wasn't sore or anything, just wiped out. I think I must need to get on my bike more. Wednesday I went to the gym. I lifted weights, which produced the greatest amount of soreness in my body out of all the exercise I did this week - I have no idea how long it's been since I really lifted. Then I went into the pool. I'm afraid of the pool. I don't mind the water, I just can't swim. I've been procrastinating going there for eons. But I dawned the goggles and got in. After I'd grabbed a kickboard, and hopped in, I realized they moved the markers, and I was in the 'fast' lane. That seemed pretty hilarious. I let it go, and continued flayling around in the water. I use the term 'flayling', because that's how I envision I look. I attempt to swim - with my face in the water - I think you call it the crawl stroke, but I'm severely ineffecient at it. I tire quickly and can't get the form right to breathe. I did actually make it down and back - 2 lengths, swimming this way without stopping. I supplement that with my lovely side stroke. I'm sure there really is a stroke with this name, but I'm also sure that what I do isn't the same thing. I convince myself that I'm getting in some cardio and call it good. When I get tired of that I use the kickboard to give my upper body a rest. And then when I need a break, I float on my back. And I know I don't do a back stroke or the back float. I go from one end of the pool to the other on my back by simply wiggling my toes and my knees a little. At some point I was sure the lifeguard was up there laughing, thinking, "Oh, man - I'm actually gonna have to jump in and rescue this one." After twenty minutes of this, some more people had come into the lane. Rather than attempt to share the lane and worry that I'd crash into them all, I called it good for the day. Then I did a track workout. I'm not sure what to think of the whole 'Yasso 800's' idea, but I thought I'd give it a try. I went thinking I was going to do 4 of them at 3:30 pace. I did 6 @ 3:20, 3:25, 3:18, 3:17, 3:17, 3:17. That felt pretty good. But you're supposed to rest the same amount of time between and it seemed like too much. I'm still not sure what to think of how helpful the workout was, but it was fun. Next time I'll probably do longer repeats. I took Thursday off because there was no time in the day for exercise. I ran 6 on Friday, 7 on Saturday. Sunday I ran 18. It was a lot hillier than I thought. I could pull up the elevation profile from my garmin, but I don't really feel like it right now. It was hilly. I took a couple of gels with me, and stopped at some drinking fountains at parks along the way. My left hamstring and my lower back were really sore. Not from running, but from all of the dang yard work I did Saturday. I'd been avoiding it for a long time, not wanting soreness to interfere with my training, then I decide to do it before an 18 miler. Odd. I finished my 18 miler at a park where my husband and the kids met up with me so my husband could run his long run from the park. Little did we know there was a race going on there that day. It was a 5k that people run with their dogs. Hilarious. There were about 3000 runners and walkers, so you can imagine the amount of dogs hanging around. A few had fancy tutus, but most had a yellow bandanna - sort of like a racer symbol I think. Out on the course there were lots of plastic kiddy swimming pools filled with drinking water for the dogs. There were so many shapes and sizes of dogs, it was truly amazing to realize that some of those dogs could make it the whole 5k. It was even more entertaining to watch the finish. It was like watching a regular race finish - guys come flying in, except that they had a leash and a dog attached at the hip, and once they'd cross the line, the dog would be running around, all excited, thinking "what'd we stop for?". Some of the dogs decided the kiddy pools weren't for drinking and hopped in and laid down to cool off. Just like people like to take a dip after a long hard run. What a crazy week. I was exhausted by last night. I'm taking today off, then off to explore some more.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Running Has Shown Me The World

I've been very fortunate to have running be a part of my life for so many years. I ran my first 2 mile road race when I was 10. I ran my first 10k within the next couple of years. I've never been a national phenomenon or anything, but running has taken me places beyond my wildest dreams.

I remember being 14 and watching the first olympic marathon on television. The most amazing thing to me was watching a woman from Switzerland finish - Gabriele Andersen-Scheiss. She came into the finisher stadium barely able to walk. She desperately needed medical attention, but no one could touch her or she'd be disqualified. I watched as she slowly made her way around the track, her mind largely incapable of communicating with her body. I was so in awe that someone could willingly put themself in a situation like that. (You can read a description of this, and the women's first marathon in 1984 here.) I was a young runner, with an average amount of athletic ability, but a great amount of mental ability. It somehow inspired me to want to be able to do what she did - to run at such a level that you could block out pain and frustration and fatigue with nothing but the finish line in your head.

At age 15 I was invited to go to China as part of an athletic exchange program. We had stopovers in Tokyo, Japan, and Seoul, Korea. We spent time in Hong Kong, and time in mainland China. The race we ran was actually in Canton, and mainland China was under communist rule at the time. Being a parent now, I can't even fathom how scary it must have been for my parents to allow me that experience. When we got off the train at one location in the countryside, lots of children had come to see the train. Many of them had never seen caucasion people before. They were in awe of some of our runners with 'big muscles' - wanting the guys on the team to flex their biceps for them. They loved small american flags that we had brought for them. I remember seeing so many old-fashioned bikes on the dusty streets, and seeing guards, armed with machine guns, as our bus rounded street corners. One of my most memorable photographs was near a market - of two children playing in an alleyway while their parents were cleaning fish from the day's catch. There were shy, but intrigued by my camera. The way of life there was so different than anything I knew.

While in college, I remember being at a meet in some small town in rural Texas. Several of us hijacked the team van one day to go exploring. We happened upon the oldest Dr. Pepper Bottling Company in the US at the time. It was the only one actually still using sugar as a sweetener. A little old man in his 80's or 90's gave us a tour, and said they were getting ready for the upcoming 100th birthday celebration. He had worked there since he was a little boy. I couldn't even imagine what that would be like. It was fascinating to me to see all-white cows out in the fields - something we don't have back home. And espresso was extremely hard to find anywhere - odd for me, coming from the place where I can visit the first ever Starbuck's on a regular basis. On another college trip, we flew through Vancouver, Canada, and one of our athletes was whisked away by security as we went through customs. She had 'mace' spray on her keychain (something female runners often carried before pepper spray), which was apparently an illegal weapon in Canada.

My marathon PR is from my first marathon - Vancouver, BC in 1994. I was so nervous I cried at the drop of a pin. Most of my family had come to watch and support me. We went to tour the Capilano Suspension Bridge. I went half way out, panicked, cried, and froze with fear. I couldn't go further and I couldn't go back. Somehow I'm here, so I must've done one or the other. That marathon course is still my favorite - don't know if they've changed it. I got to run through Stanley Park and across the lion's gate bridge. The course had great views of the city.

I got a chance to see Boston, drive along the coast of Maine, and see the sun rise over the ocean - a long-wished dream. My coach at the time jokingly suggested I hook up and run with 'Joanie' - (Joan Benoit Samuelson) who lives in a town I went through. Plymouth, Massachusetts holds so much history of the beginning of this country, and Cape Cod is everything I always imagined - truly beautiful and peaceful with lots of little white cottages.

A few years ago, my husband and I were fortunate enough to go to Anchorage, Alaska. We ran a race there simply for the souvenir t-shirts, and had a blast mingling with the local runners when we arrived early to the race. We got to experience the Kincaid Park trails - well-known in the winter for world-class cross-county skiing. You can stand at the end of the trail and watch planes fly so close you can almost reach out and touch them. I loved watching the sun set over the mudflats of the Cook Inlet.

On our recent trip to Chicago, we took over 400 photographs. One of my husband's most favorite was the one of me I added in my 'Chicago' post when we finally arrived at the Old Plank Road Trail. He said it exemplifies how excited I was to simply be out running on a trail in another part of the country. Rail trails are such cool ways to re-use land. I think I mentioned the Chehalis Western Trail and the Ironhorse Trail near my home in an earlier post. The Ironhorse has a 2 mile long tunnel that when you're in the middle, it's truly pitch black and you need a headlamp or flashlights. The Foothills Trail I also mentioned - it has views of Mt Rainier up very close - although I'm lucky enough to see that out my living room window. It glows pink at sunset.

My latest issue of Running Times magazine had me drooling over a featured adventure race in Costa Rica. We keep getting magazines like Outdoors or National Geographic that feature places like the Paris Catacombs, Morocco, or untamed deserts in California. I have such an itch to run in all of these places it makes me crazy. is a fun place to peruse where people run in far-away places. I think the two most fascinating marathons would be Safaricom in Kenya or the midnight sun marathon in Norway. We have a lot of family history from Norway. And Safaricom - well, to see the animals. And yet, there are so many interesting places to run in every city on every continent on the planet. The possiblities are endless. I guess races are a way to get a souvenir shirt while you're there. Typically marathons like to showcase the cities in which they're in. Smaller races help you get a feel for the climate of runners in the region.

I think if we could live anywhere besides where we live - which we wouldn't do, we love it - but if we could - we'd choose La Jolla, California for the atmosphere, the beaches, and the relaxed way of life, or San Francisco, simply so I could train in the hills on the other side of the Golden Gate Bridge. One of my marathons this summer, I chose for the beauty of the course - to see what I can see - out in the middle of nowhere. The Mesa Falls Marathon is probably the smallest marathon I've ever run, and I don't plan on running a fast time, but it's likely to be my most memorable just to enjoy the course.

I think - off the top of my head - if I could choose any foreign spot to run . . . today I'd have to say Pike's Peak, Colorado - run through Garden of the Gods. My next fascination would be Brazil. I don't know why yet. My husband mentioned it, and it just stuck. And yet, I'm so content to run nearly the same place everyday in the city in which I live. It changes every day. As the tide goes out, it seems to wash away the day, and each new breeze brings in a new tide teeming with new life to explore for another day. My husband brought home a new book for me the other day: 26.2 Marathon Stories, by Kathrine Switzer and her husband, Roger Robinson. It's the most inspiring running book I've ever opened. Here's a quote from within: "We run , not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. It also does us good because it helps us to do other things better. It gives a man the chance to bring out power that might otherwise remain locked away inside himself. The urge to struggle lies latent in everyone." - Roger Bannister

To me, running is a metaphor for life. It's all about the journey - what you learn along the way, what you take with you, and what you leave behind. It's about the people you meet along the way, the mistakes you make and the challenges you overcome. Running gives you highs and lows, it gives you solitude and company, it gives you anxiety and a peace within yourself. Running gives back to you everything that you put into it. Running gives you a reason to wake up in the morning, and helps you fall asleep at night. Running opens your eyes to the world and takes you on a journey of self-discovery down every road and trail you set out to explore.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Make A Wish

I have so many things I want to post - so many thoughts on running and blogging. I feel the need to do a whole post on why I like to travel and run. And an entirely separate post on running in the rain, and the rain just started to come down in a torrential pour and I'm done running for the day - so disappointing. And yet, I'll have to put those posts on hold, 'cause my unexpected run today deserves a post.

My kids have an amazing PE teacher. Because I'm a runner, and have a college degree in PE - Exercise Physiology, PE is a big deal to me. At the K-8 level, PE is often overlooked. But one has only to look at the obesity problem of children in our country and understand the need for fitness and activity. This PE teacher's name is Lou. He's 55 yrs. old. All year long he runs a unicycle program that perfoms city-wide. In the fall he gets kids ready for the Seattle Kids Marathon - in which the children have a couple of months to complete 25 miles on their own, and then run the last 1.2 miles all together in conjuction with the Seattle Marathon. The kids periodically have timed mile runs throughout the year, and have a 'hip to be fit' program where they can earn fitness points in different areas and get a t-shirt. In the spring he coaches the middle school track team. He's volunteered for the Make-A-Wish Foundation for many years.

Today is Lou's birthday. Every year on his birthday he puts together a run at school to benefit the Make A Wish Foundation. They have a loop course - 6 laps to a mile - and he commits to running as many laps as he has lived. Today it was the 55 lap run - a little over 9 miles. The entire school runs laps as well, and each of the kids running gets pledges per lap. The foundation doesn't like solicitation, and these kids are sponsored mostly by friends, family, and neighbors. Evening Magazine, a local TV crew, was out there today with a local TV celebrity to do some filming.

I put on my running clothes this morning, planning to take the kids to school, see them off on their run, and then head out for a 4-5 mile run myself. It was so inspirational to see how excited all these kids were, I stayed to watch a little. Then my youngest (5 yrs. old), asked if I would run with her. I figured maybe I'd jog a few laps. I gotta say, these kids are amazing. Several of the middle-school kids actually ran all 55 laps, and most of the teaching staff was out running and walking as well. My 10-yr-old paced herself, and cranked out the laps until she thought she was getting blisters. Then she walked a bit with some friends, then took off her shoes and walked a bit more. She completed 46 laps - a little over 7½ miles. My 8-yr-old was alotted a shorter time to run due to classroom requirements. And she was a little nervous to run too far because she and her older sister have one of those kid triathlons tomorrow. (they are gonna be so wasted, they have no idea). She ran with a friend - and I actually saw the friend adding more laps during her lunch recess. Our 8-yr-old ran 24 laps - 4 miles. My youngest is hilarious. She's like the energizer bunny. When she got tired, she'd walk a bit, then sprint some more, then jog, then walk. It was with this little one that I got my run in today - a little slower than I'd planned, but longer too. She completed 33 laps - 5½ miles. And I'm not one of those pushy parents - they're just crazy kids who love to run. It was me following her and the staff cracking up the whole time. All told, my kids got in 103 laps. I won't tell you how much we sponsored them for - but think about all those other kids in their school, and how much money this event raises - from a small K-8 school. After the money is sent in, and put to a specific child, the children are told during meeting time - all about the child, the wish, and how they helped it come true. Pretty cool. And the kids sang Happy Birthday to Lou.