Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fall Contemplations

Back to school . . . not me, the kids. I've been anticipating this day since before we went on vacation. Our trip was like the last hurrah of summer, then home and getting schedules organized for school to start. Our kids go to an amazing school. It's an alternative school with an emphasis on native american culture/ethnic heritage and outdoor education. (Our fifth grader's class already has a camping trip planned in two weeks @ Mt. Rainier.) But more than all that - it's a place where our kids feel like they belong to something, like part of a family. It's a place where you can walk through the building and classrooms and everyone knows you and is glad to see you and your kids. A place where the teachers aren't just teachers, but care deeply about our kids, and are my friends as well. Because of the way the school is designed, all three of our children have the same teachers and the same classrooms they did last year - comforting to have it so familiar on the first day. They had a back to school BBQ last night to get all the heebie jeebies and giggles out, and see everyone they missed all summer. This morning my husband and I dropped them all off without a hitch. They all waved good-bye with a smile on their face. And for the first time, I didn't cry when they were gone. They're ready, they're in good hands, and I'm ready.

My husband and I sorta celebrated the first day of school. This morning it's low tide. I was supposed to go for a run on the beach, but I know I have all day with no kids. My husband was supposed to go to work, but he has a cell phone, and everyone at the office was doing just fine. So we went to the bakery and got treats to go and took them to the beach. The tide was far enough out to create tide pools and sand bars with all kinds of sealife to attract the gulls. We watched a heron out fishing among them. The sky is a bright blue, and the early autumn sun was crisp but warm at the same time. From our vantage point, you could see the Olympic Mtn range across the Puget Sound. You could see the city peeking around the point, and the Cascade Mtn. range above that. And looking out you could see chunks of land - the peninsula, the far-off islands, and ferry boats crossing in between. What a beautiful morning. As we drove home, I remember the early spring and being so excited to see all the geese with baby goslings waddling behind them in line. The summer seems to have come and gone so quickly, but so many memories linger of all the fun things we did.

Now it's on to fall. I think I'm ready. I have a mental list of all of these things that I want to do and get done, and I feel like I need to accomlish them all today. I think it'll hit me in a few days that the kids are back in school every day, and I have time. I'm one of those people though, who tend to cram in as much as I can. I'm determined to get all my stuff done during the day, so I can devote all of my time to the kids when they get home. I think afternoons and evenings are going to go by in a blink. From the moment the munchkins get off the bus hungry for snack and excited about their day . . . to when they're tucked in for lights out. Somehow we've got to fit in homework and dinner prep and walking the dog and reading and playtime and family time. And oh yeah, swimming lessons Tuesdays and Thursdays, soccer practice on Fridays, games on Saturdays. When ballet starts, I think that's on Tuesdays, and I think Fencing in on Mondays. I'll likely get mixed up and take the wrong kid to the wrong thing. When are they gonna fit in that homework and dinner, let alone time to be kids? And then there's birthday parties and weekend events and Halloween and . . . it gets dizzying to think about, yet somehow it's my favorite time of year. So much going on, so much excitement.

And then there's running. I think I'm honestly a little nervous to run today. I took five days off after the marathon. I didn't mind, and we were on vacation. Oh - side note - 2 days after the marathon, and 500 miles from where it was held, we were at a mostly deserted state park in a remote part of Oregon, and I ran into another marathoner - from this race where there had been only less than 150 runners. What are the chances? And his wife was a woman that I had thanked profusely after the race because she'd been out all over the course with cowbells cheering us on. Life is odd how we reconnect. My real side not here, was that this runner, Bruce, reminded me that after the next marathon I should go back to the hotel and take an ice bath - as soon as I'm able - to cool down the muscles. Obviously at the campground there'd been no ice bath. I'll take up Bruce's advice for the next one. But back to the present . . . I took those five days off, then ran a 4 mile. My legs felt really heavy still. But I thought I'd run through it and did 5 miles the next day. My legs didn't feel any better and they actually hurt a bit. So I took three days more off. I even opted out of the 10 mile I had scheduled for the weekend. I'm a believer in listening to my body. So now it's today and I'm gonna have a go at it and see how it feels. I already don't feel springy and fresh, but I can handle that. I just don't wanna injure myself. But then there's this marathon thing that I want to be ready for. I had a hard time deciding between which one. There were three fairly local marathons scheduled within 8 days of one another and I had to pick one. So I did. Now I feel like I should be out there training, and I keep reading that other people are tapering for fall marathons. I know I'm not on their training plan, and I have to listen to my body and my gut.

In my head I have all of these notions of what it will take to get me to the time I want to run. Then I get over-ambitious. I'd love to train and train and cross-train, and train some more. My kids are at school and I have all day, right? Then I wake up. I have to be smart. I have this short time between marathons, not really to amp up the mileage, but to maintain and fine tune. But I'm dying to ramp up the mileage - I love to run in the fall with the leaves changing and I have all this time . . . so if I can't increase my mileage now, then when. When is my next marathon, and how much time do I have in between? Do I want to run the next one fast or for fun? I know Mesa Falls was supposed to be fun, and not fast, but I have a hard time accepting that when I'm there. I haven't decided yet whether I'm going to run Boston in April. And if I do, I've been advised by knowing souls to go out there and enjoy it, don't race it. Be there to take it all in and just immerse yourself in the experience. But then when you're there, does the anxiety get the better of you?

So many contemplations, and I feel like I need to fit them all into one blog post. I have more time and more days. Right now I should lace up my running shoes and head out to watch the tide roll in - hop on the trail and go where it leads me . . .


D said...

I just love reading your post. You seem to have it all together and the priorities in your life exactly where they should be. How odd to bump into that runner! You are smart to be listening to your body. It's too easy to get injured by jumping back into the running right away without giving our bodies some time to heal.

Andrew said...

Your morning date on the beach sounds wonderful!

To Love, Honor and Dismay

Sarah Elaine said...

I enjoy your descriptions and thought-full posts.

I suspect you'll settle into fall in no time.

Oh yeah, and your kids' school sounds fantastic!

Sarah said...

Lots of things to consider! I've always enjoyed fall...I think its my favorite season.

13akbal said...

listen to your body, focus on your dreams and everything else will fall into place. get it? fall?? i'm cracking up.

it always comes together, once you hit your fall rythm you'll be knocking down 20 milers in the rain with a big smile on your face and marathon goals on your mind.

IHateToast said...

your children's school sounds wonderful. it'll be sad when they're too old (what grade does it go up to?).

i also think you're right to listen to body and gut. while one training program is a constant, we're all variables. even identical twins can't have identical days. we carry our genetics, mind frame-of-the-day, mood, germs, whatever into any program and what comes out is different. you know you... different from you no ewe.. as in sheep... as in euphemism for mindless following.

JustRun said...

I definitely understand those overwhelming feelings. Before my injury at the beginning of the summer, I was so pressured to stay on schedule... I had a marathon scheduled for August, again in October and one more in December. Letting the August and October ones go was very, very difficult. Now that I'm back out there though, it's become surprisingly easy to just let it all be and enjoy the run. I am now more a believer in whatever it takes to get you to that point (where you just enjoy it) is worth it.
Running in the fall is my favorite time as well... enjoy!

Danielle said...

I'd say try to just enjoy running...don't put so much pressure on for a time goal...things seem to eventually come together. When I finally focused on training I was amazed at how much of an improvement I had...38 minutes off my previous best. You'll get there, but pressuring yourself to do it doesn't help.

I'm jealous of your trip to the beach...I want to live near the ocean.

Josh said...

Great post - and you're right to take some time off from running post-marathon. You deserve it.

The kids schools sounds great and I am sure you'll find your autumn groove in to time.

D said...

You hit the nail on the head with your recent comment. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on this issue as you have completed marathons at my goal pace - so you obviously have a better handle on this than I do.