Monday, October 30, 2006

Time Passages

Time Passages was stuck in my head during my run yesterday. I sat around all day feeling crummy then forced myself to go running at 4:00 because I had an hour left before the new early sunset. There's something about fall that brings back memories for me. It could be the chill in the air or the smells drifting in the breeze, but I think it's a combination of feelings. Or maybe it's all because I've been sick and been forced to run really slow and have time to think.

My first real road race by myself was in the fall. I think I ran the Gold Coast 2 miler with a friend in the summer just before - must've been 1981. I ran the Fallfest Classic likely in October of 1981. Somewhere around here in a box I have a medal with an orange ribbon - I think I was first in my age division. I'm guessing it was a 5 miler or a 10k - I'm not sure. But I remember what it felt like to run back then. It was different in so many ways, but still the same somehow.

I grew up in Bellevue, Washington, USA. I started out running on a 2 mile out and back to Yarrow Point. Sometimes I ran a further out and back to Hunts Point - home to the Nordstrom family (my best friend lived next door to them), and Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band. My 4 and 5 mile loops went through Medina where Bill Gates now lives in his compound. The reason I know those distances were that long was because my dad told me and I believed him. I never measured them in the car (I was too young to drive). I didn't have any map software - nobody even had home computers yet. I have no idea how fast I ran - I didn't own a stopwatch - let alone a wristwatch. (In fact, my first watch was won at my first half-marathon in 1985. I had lettered the previous year in both cross-country and track, and I desperately wanted a letter jacket. My dad made a deal with me that he would pay for the jacket if I ran a half-marathon. I received the watch not because I ran fast, but because I was the youngest finisher that day. It was the Latitude 47° Half-Marathon which is still run today, but called the Super Jock n Jill Half-Marathon because of it's sponsor. The race finished at a winery, and they also gave out wine glasses with the race logo on them. One broke, but my other currently sits on our kitchen windowsill with spare change in it for parking.) I used to take my dog running on pretty much all of my runs. There were no leash laws so she roamed free - always had to be ahead of me, and didn't like to be passed. I ran through a park with a pond at a half-way point and she used to love to charge at all the ducks swimming in the water. She loved to chase other dogs and bark lots too - just for sport, she was a really friendly dog named Blue after a famous hunting dog. People yelled at me every now and then when she barked and chased, and they got angry, but I was just a kid - I did't really care all that much. I just called her back and we went on our merry way. I never had any concrete training plans, workouts, build-ups, tapers, race-strategies - I just ran. My older brother took me out on a hill circuit one time before high-school. We both reminisce and laugh about the fact that half-way through it I puked cause I pushed myself so hard - then I finished the rest of the hills. Another time he convinced me to go for a run in the middle of a hot summer day - just a couple of miles. We ended up going out 8 miles (I must've been 13 or 14 yrs old - probably never had run more than 6 miles - and that was only for a race), and we stopped at a friend's house and convinced him to drive us back home. When I started running on teams, I ran what the coach told me to run. I never questioned the training or how it would affect my racing. I don't think I even thought about it.

As I run today, the triggers that bring it all back are things in the air and all around. Things that remain constant year after year - the things of change. Leaves are falling and remain stamped all over the ground with the recent rain. A new squad of football players is out practicing on the field with lots of hollering and whistle-blowing. No matter what time of day you run, you can smell someone cooking and a fireplace warming someone's house. The smells seem to drift out into the cold and mix with the chilly air - teasing you as you run along. The early frost on the ground comes back every year. The sun returns to a slanted angle and filters the sunlight with an almost orange hue.

I think I get so involved with all of the logistics of running, that I forget the real enjoyment of it sometimes. I think my sickness has been a great thing for my running. I just get out and go without thinking about the mileage or the time or any upcoming races. I just run . . . and I love it. Somehow the training happens because you go by feel. You still have those days that you run hard and the ones that you run easy. You still feel sore and you still feel inspired. But you love it all a little bit more and it doesn't seem to feel like homework or a chore.

Funny that our oldest childest is now 10 - almost 11 - the same age I was when I started running. She begs me to take her running. She's done kid distance road races. She's done kid mini-triathlons. Some of her friends run, her sisters run, her cousins run. This year will be the 3rd year that she'll do the Seattle kids marathon. She doesn't own a watch. She doesn't drive a car to check mileage and doesn't use the map software. We live in the city and I don't think I've ever let her run out on the roads by herself. She loves the rain, she loves to stomp in the leaves and throw them in the air. She loves weather and never seems to get cold. She loves to chat about everything on her mind while she's running. She loves to run on trails. She simply loves to run. Maybe I'll take her with me tomorrow.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Take Notice

I think I'm a fairly distracted individual most of the time - sorta scatterbrained - maybe just so busy most of the time it's hard to figure out what I'm supposed to be doing or where I'm supposed to be going from one moment to the next. I think about blogging a lot. I'm a thinker - pretty deep and intense thoughts run through my head in addition to the distracted chaos. I'm constantly thinking about things to blog about . . . interesting topics, tidbits from my day, things I think about on my runs. But then when I sit to write, the ideas never seem as grand. The tidbits seem trivial. I can't focus to write something eloquent like I want to do. And yet - I still feel like I have so much to say most of the time - or so much to write, I guess. We even use the term 'blogworthy' around the house a lot - things that come up that are funny or amazing that seem important enough to blog about - like the crab that came home last week from Pike Place Market - damn it was good!

While I was running today, I was thinking about all this - thinking about all the things I think about and wishing I could write about them and have it all sound the way I want. Really wishing that I could figure out exactly what it is I want to write about. And I think somewhere in there, I discovered my issue. It isn't just one profound thing I want to say - it's way too many profound things.

I live in a world with so much going on all the time - and I don't want to miss anything, or forget anything, or take anything for granted. I want to take it all in and do something with it all. It's an impossible idea. Sometimes I think about what I want to be when I grow up, but I have a hard time choosing between too many options because I want to try everything. This whole idea is the basic underlying theme of why I'm a runner - why I love to be a runner. I get to see and hear and feel and experience and think and process and have pain and euphoria and emotion all at the same time. It's a powerful thing.

Some days, I like to watch the world around me when I'm running. Today was one of those days. I think I'd like to call it a little bit of life. I passed some people staring off at the ground - seemingly grumpy at the day. I saw parents with strollers out for companionship. There was a couple on the beach picking up seashells. Lots of people were out walking their dogs - the dogs sniffing at meeting one another. There was an otter swimming just off shore - he dove under and I never could see where he came up again. The harbor seals were out barking on the bouy. I passed several pieces of dead crabs that the seagulls were apparently through with, and a couple of fishermen on a pier. Several scuba divers were heading out with their air tanks, and dressed head to toe with all kinds of equipment. I watched people heading into a fancy restaurant, meeting for an early lunch. The tide was really high - but it isn't a full moon - interesting to note. I ran along the sand and let the waves chase me as I zigzagged my way across the beach. Tankers were coming into the bay - ferries were heading out. A little old man stopped me and asked me how to get to the park - he was about 3 miles away, so it was a long description and a good chat. We talked about the park, and about his previous bike ride in the area, and about his friend at an appointment . . . sorta funny when you just strike up a conversation with a person but sorta what makes the world go 'round too. It was a really grey cloudy morning - pretty typical where I live from now until next spring. The kind of day in the kind of place where seasonal depression is common and staying in bed under the covers seems preferable to venturing out into the day.

But out on that run, it wasn't just that all of this stuff was occurring around me, but it was having an effect on me as I processed it all. It was sparking my thoughts, forming my opinions, shaping my ideas . . and that's the way life works - if you let it. Some people - like the first people I saw when I was running - seem to shut it all out and tend to only look within. But . . . when you open up your eyes and take notice of what's around you, amazing things happen. You open yourself up to a connection with the world and the people and things that it's full of. There's so much out there, that it really is impossible to take it all in, but why not get as much as you can from it? Take notice.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


I'm sick of being sick. I feel like I've hardly read blogs in a week. JustRun had a birthday, Bob ran under 3:40 for his first time out - Chicago happened, Kona happened, the Seahawks lost, the Seattle School District halted it's closures and the Superintendant quit, . . . is the world series over yet? And now it's almost Halloween. The other morning when I got up I felt so yucky, all I wanted was a cup of coffee and the newspaper. I moved two wineglasses out of the way to get to the coffee and I dropped one - shattered . . sink, floor . . mess. After I cleaned all that up, I finally poured my coffee and sat down with the paper. I leaned back and knocked over a carousel/music box/glass water globe - shattered . . everywhere . . . water, glitter, fine glass . . mess. Great morning. Yesterday I was taking out the trash - with the broken glass in it. The bag (with a piece of sharp broken wine glass already cutting through the bag, at the moment unknown to me) scraped my leg and the glass took a nice chunk out of my calf. Nice. It took forever to stop bleeding, but I survived. Then the school called and one of my children took a dive into a planter box on the school playground - with her face. She was a much bigger mess than me, but she survived too.

All is well, but I'm still sick. I'm cold and I'm tired and wet weather has decided to stay in the northwest. I haven't run in 4 days and I don't feel like running today. I did lift weights twice last week - that was good. And I did get in a beautiful run last week at the Arboretum. (The Seattle Marathon runs through there - but in November it won't be quite as beautiful.) It was so nice, I took the kids there later for a walk. The last pretty days of fall . . .

Monday, October 16, 2006

Fall Activities

Crazy crazy weekend. Multisport Man had a mountain bike duathlon, and as part of the support crew, I got to stay up late and drink fine wine with friends, then play in the park the next day cheering for the competitors while they were getting really muddy.

It's that time of year again. I've been thinking about getting out my costume.

I really am a gingerbread man, you know.

Okay - here's my edit to the post. I zoomed in on the photo, because apparently it wasn't obvious that it's a ginger breadman - although it's blurry, now you can make out the buttons and a little bit of the frosting. And these pictures were taken last year - this year I've tried to convince my children that for Halloween I'm simply going to dress up 'invisible'. Although, I've sorta toyed with Peter Pan or being a jester. Peter Pan because I can pretend I have Tinkerbell's pixie dust and sprinkle glitter everywhere - I love glitter with a passion, and a jester simply because it becomes highly entertaining once you've had a few cocktails. I really do love the ginger breadman costume - just don't know where it is, and not sure I feel like running a road race between now and the holiday. But then if you wanna talk holidays, ginger breadman really likes Christmas because that's how Ginger came to be. Maybe that's another post - this edit is longer than the post itself.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

I can run.

I went running this week. I think the whole week off after the marathon was a good thing. I needed a break from running in my head more than anything - my training hadn't been overly intense, but I'd had marathons on my mind for too long. Then again, once I learned what it was like to have other crud filling my mind, I'll choose running any day. So I did every other day this week. I'm not sure if I'm gonna run tomorrow - I'd have to get up in precisely 4 hours and 42 minutes to run, due to the schedule of the day. Insane - sort of, but it'd be my sanity. There are 3 extra children sleeping in my house at the moment - giggly girls all still awake. I can't really seem to keep track of the coming and goings or how many munchkins I have in tow at once - today it varied from 2-6. After tomorrow's soccer game we'll be headed out of town to stay with friends for my husband's duathlon. This is what life is like in a gingerbread house - never dull. My 6-year-old was actually excited to help me clean toilets today. Life is such a mystery.

My first run this week was the crisp, clear, fall day I needed. I ran along the beach, passed all walks of like, and let the lyrics of my music trigger the thoughts and emotions. I had a lot going on in my head this week - all that stuff from my previous blog post - and couldn't quite wrap my mind around how to tackle it - let alone absorb it all. Wednesday I ran hills - hard. I think processing life came in the form of anger, and I hammered out the miles. It was one of those days where you keep going faster and faster and it feels better and better . . then you realize you've finished all the hills and it's like you're at the top of the world. You look down at the view and somehow life takes a new perspective. Then you run back home at a slower pace, feeling satisfied somehow. I also went for a drive on Wednesday. I grabbed some music to reflect my mood, got in the car, and drove south, skirting the water, and driving on all sorts of windy back roads. I was gone for 5 hours. I stopped along the way somewhere near a fishing pier and did some writing. I thought of all kinds of analogies to life - the fog bank blocking my vision - the island across the water that was so close by but inaccessible - the planes taking off from the airport, escaping to destinations unknown. It was good time to just think.

Today I ran with the sunrise. I usually love to sit in the kitchen and watch the sky turn pink with a hot cup of coffee in my hands, but I needed to get out today. I didn't run far - just over the hill really, so I could look back at the sun rising over the mountains. The fall always brings colors of neon pink to the sunrise - I'm not sure why that is, but it's such a cool sight. A calm quiet morning with a thin marine layer of hazy lavender-blue, maybe you could call it periwinkle for fun, and a bright neon pink sun glowing over the horizon. I actually stopped mid-run on some street corner with no one around and I just stared at it in awe. There's some sort of sense of renewal in a sunrise - a new day, a new start, a new beginning. Maybe it's a sense of hope.

I want to say thanks for the comments on my last post. I usually write because I love to write and it's good for my soul. I never write with the expectation for others to read it, and when people do, I'd prefer that it be fun and lighthearted or something profound that could have an effect on someone. But life isn't always that way - not reality anyway. I've learned, though, that sometimes what other people write in return can have that profound affect on me. I was able to talk to someone and eventually get some advice, some answers, some helpful suggestions, and some direction of where to go next. Some parts of life have to be about the little things you can do. And that's okay.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Land of Confusion

Land of Confusion is a great Genesis song from 1986 - sorta how I feel about the world right now.

I haven't run in a week - 7 days exactly after the marathon - and my run today will be on a crisp, sunny, Autumn day - perfect, my favorite. Perhaps the fact that I haven't run, though, is the reason I've had too much time to do other things and read other things and hear other things. I've seen other aspects of life that maybe running gives me a break from. Or maybe running allows me time to think and process all of these things, and make rhyme or reason out of them. I haven't blogged much in a week either - too much going on in the land and in my head to simplify it to text.

My last week sped by and headed into a whirlwind of a weekend. We were supposed to be out of town at a mountain bike festival, but decided to stay home for my husband to rest his knee, and so we could actually just be home for a couple of days. To rest? Friday I brought 5 kids home after school - 2 not my own. It was a little busy, and then there was soccer and Friday night with a movie and pizza and beer and wine. I denied #1 an overnight at a friends because we needed family time. Saturday we divided and conquered as we like to call it. I took our youngest munchkin to back to back events - a wedding brunch where I have no idea how many mimosas I actually drank, and then a birthday party where I was promptly handed a glass of wine. What's with people drinkin' so early on a Saturday? My husband took the other two munchkins to a soccer game (by city bus - a family member borrowed car #2 for a week) - child #1 came home with dad via a ride from a friend, #2 went to a friends, then later #3 went with dad to pick up #2 - #3 ended up staying along with #2 to play with friend and friend's sister and dad came home. #2 & #3 conferenced with respective friends and coerced respective parents into an overnight. Mom drove over overnight belongings for #2 and #3. We had a lovely evening with #1 - it was after baked potato bar and I was winning Scrabble (10:30) when #2 called and wanted to come home. So I picked up #2, had a horrific nightmare that night, and at 7:30 am, mom of friends called and dad ended up taking #2 back to join #3 at friends while dads fixed breakfast, and later returned with #2 and #3. wow. I think I got all the numbers right.

But really, that's not my land of confusion - that's the reality of my life. It was really what progressed later that day that I struggle with. But I've got to back up and say there was stuff in my head stewing before all this - all week long it worsened. Every day in the paper there is so much negativity about which country is at war - violence, death, shooting - which political proposal isn't being passed. Every night on television are shows of crime scenes, investigations, missing people - no matter which network you watch. I've been reminded that we're a society of people that leave oxygen cannisters at the top of mount everest, we litter outer space when we travel to the moon and space stations, we dig for oil and destroy animal and plant habitats and our own natural space, and then produce exhaust from what we dug up. The state I live in has built miles of roads in national parks, and left them to decay and run into streams to destroy the ecological habitat for the fish. I won't even start with the global warming. In the city in which I live, it seems there are endless political debates on how to approach things, and nobody wants to make a final decision. I could discuss the 520 bridge, that will probably sink with people on it before it gets replaced, or the viaduct project that no one has a good solution for. What the article fails to tell you, is that for the near 60,000 population of west seattle who depend on the viaduct - when it's being replaced, it'll be like having to drive through rush hour traffic 24/7 - I've heard for up to ten years during construction - maybe it's just a rumor.

And if all that wasn't enough to oblitererate my positive outlook on life - there's the school consolidations. It's all everybody talks about right now, no matter where you go. To make the story short - the district needed to close many schools that were under enrollment because it was way in the hole and needed to cut back and save money. So it had to choose which schools to close, and nobody likes that. It's been dragging on for year two right now. Currently, the superintendent has decided to merge the alternative school my children attend with a traditional school. You can imagine the ensuing rage from the school communities. No one supports the proposal. There are board meetings and hearings every week. Everyone has an opinion about it they want to share, and I don't know how much more I can take. And yet, our school is an amazing community - a family, and being part of it, you can't help but wanna fight tooth and nail for it.

And then Sunday afternoon. One more playdate. Our child was frustrated because her friend was very late arriving. But if finally happened - the anticipated arrival - complete with the parent in near tears at my back door, which, after I shooed the children in, and went out with the parent - intensified to hysterical sobbing. We must've spent a couple of hours sitting on the back porch - at one point my husband made coffee and passed it outside to us. I really don't know what to say about it all. The issue is this person's partner, and the near physical and verbal abuse that is being dished out to this parent/friend and the child who is now in my house playing happily with my daugher, almost able to pretend that nothing happened, but is scared for her mom to go back home. It's not good. I don't know if you can cross the line and call it abuse yet - it's a dangerously scary line to cross, but the situation has become severely damaging and harmful. It's a classic case. How long do you wait for the next episode and how much worse will that one be? How many chances do you give? There were problems months ago, and they haven't improved. There's been counseling for a while, but it doesn't seem to be helping. The violence pattern seems to have escalated. I don't think it was so physical before, and now there are threats of more. What do you say to a person in this situation? You want to tell them to run far away, but you can't. They love this person. But it's so obviously a classic case of this person unwilling to let go and hoping it will get better and making excuses, and trying to make it work. The child is living in fear. Fear of what she will do wrong next, because she is constantly being blamed. The parent is questioning what is wrong with herself to bring on such a thing. How do you make them see - truly see what is going on? They are smart people. They are great people. The kind of people you'd never suspect this would happen to. I feel sick inside. The child stayed at our house through dinner - in fact she and my daughter made dinner and had a wonderful time. When I took her home, I felt like I was delivering her to hell. Her mom was the only one home, so it felt okay - then the significant other came home. How do I cope with that - other than to say hi and act nonchalant and eventually say good-bye and go home. I gave the child my cell phone number - just in case. And I told her to use it anytime she wanted. I'm not sure what I'm walking into. I didn't ask for it. It hurts to even think about it all, and I'm not living through it. What's wrong with our world? Maybe things will change and maybe it'll all get better and be a success story. But then am I just thinking like a classic abused individual - denying the reality of it?

So maybe if I start running again this week, I'll process my thoughts and write great posts on the power of a community or the story of the gingerbread man. Maybe I'll read some blogs instead of the newspaper and enlighten myself on happy people in the world.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Me and the youngest members of my support crew before the race.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

"For there to be good, there must be bad"

I have to say - Iliketoast must know some secrets. That title quote is his. He also said "good to me is a matter of contrast". I think life is a constant balance of contrast. I did nothing right at all for the marathon I ran today, but I had a great - no - most excellent run. In the words of my daughter, " I was so stinkin' proud of myself!"

Here you go: Portland Marathon: 3:34:05 - 1st half in 1:44:27, 2nd half in 1:49:38. Not a PR, but I havent' run a marathon that fast in 12 years.

What I did wrong (or at least not ideal):
1 - I ran a marathon 5 weeks ago
2 - My last 5 weeks of mileage: 9 - 21 - 37 - 12 - 14
3 - lunch yesterday @ McDonald's
4 - dinner last night @ Subway
5 - hours of sleep last night - 5? (I'm really not sure - I fell asleep next to my 6-yr-old trying to get her to sleep in the hotel.
6 - I got to the start with only enough time to wait in the potty line, stretch for about 20 seconds - literally - peel off my sweats, and get into the start corral
7 - I ate nothing before the start - had one sip of water.
8 - I unintentionally lost 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks.

Extra bonuses that made the trip worthwhile:
1 - no stress - I chose not to have a time goal for this marathon, and I enjoyed every minute of it
2 - the kids are so used to camping that they thought the hotel suite was like Disneyland
3 - my husband had a pass to the Nike employee store in the area and he snagged me a really sweet jacket

The race itself:

I started out slower than I usually do, intending to enjoy it all and take in the experience. I had a packet of clif blocks in my hand that I rationed one at a time every few miles until about mile 18 - and I took sips of only water at most of the aid stations. I had some gels at mile 18, 21, and 23. My stomach felt better than it has the last two marathons. My pacing was pretty consistent - I slowed down some from mile 18-22, and I made two bathroom stops on the course.

Those are the tangible details. Those and the fact that my legs felt pretty good for the whole race.

The non-tangible details are the most amazing things I've ever experienced in a marathon - this was my 8th one. I thought about all of the things that people have said or written to me in the last couple of weeks about life and running. The big one that hit me over the head was ''what are you running to?" as oppossed to my questioning what I was running from. I thought about that one the entire race. I think I was running through and toward an enormous euphoric running high the entire marathon. I thought about Steph's recent trail race report, and how during the race, she was in such a state that she was convinced she didn't want to run anymore - she'd pushed her body to that limit. I thought about the kids I'd gone camping with recently and how hard they pushed themselves when they were miserable. I thought about all of the runners out there who run for a cause for people who are less fortunate and can't run. I thought that I was tired, but I wasn't hurting or suffering. I could stop and walk, but I'd just have to start running again at some point, so why bother? Allof these quotes from other people filtered through my mind over and over:

"If you're enjoying yourself, why slow down?"
"Take a leap of faith . . . Make it an experiment."
"Just run - just breathe"
"Does it make you feel good when you run fast?"
"Shift your thinking."
"You are awesome."

Somebody told me this week, about themself: "I do what I do because it makes me happy." I thought - how simple, but how profound . . . and how inspiring. I went out there today, and I did what I did because it truly made me happy - very happy. The spectators out on the course were like nothing I've ever seen in 26 years of road racing. There were people lining the course for the majority of the 26.2 miles. It was like running along a parade route for a good portion of the marathon - except all of the people were so pumped up and supportive it was just crazy. There were people with cowbells, signs, music - there was live music every few miles - cheerleaders every now and then - even a beer stop on mile 25 - which I joyfully took part in. It was like the whole population of Portland came out in full force to watch and support the marathon. I was so excited the whole race - I don't think I've ever whooped and hollered and thanked people and high-fived so much during a race before. There were so many runners to run with every step of the way. What a cool experience. I can't stop smiling from ear to ear about it. I feel like I became a true marathoner out there today because I finally understand why so many people love it so much and become addicted.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I know I'd like to run faster - but that will take some training goals - one thing at a time. I leaned a lot about the mental aspect of myself today. I ran Portland today approximately 10 minutes faster than my last 2 marathons - which were 5 seconds apart (3:43:56 and 3:43:51). Ten minutes faster - that's HUGE! I'm so excited. Those last 2 qualifed me for Boston 2007, and now after today, I think I'm qualifed for 2008. But I think I'm gonna train for 2007, and I'm gonna take a break from running another marathon until then. I'm looking forward to some cross-training and to stengthening some parts of my body besides my legs. And did I say how excited I am with myself? Maybe not . . .

I'M SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!
Now I need a nap.