Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Christmas and a Merry New Year

Snowflakes in the air
Sparkling glitter from the sky
Magic all around

(the haiku I wrote for the front of our Christmas card this year - complete with periwinkle blue snowflakes on white glitter paper, inspired by Haiku Thursdays)

The season had finally come and gone, and the last day is winding down. Amidst all the chaos, I've had this photo on my desktop for the last several weeks. It has put me at peace and made me feel like there were always candles burning with warmth and hope. As for now, we're packing skis and the dog and heading out very early to head over to the cabin, hoping to stay ahead of the approaching snow storm. I'm looking forward to snowdrifts and skiing, hot cocoa and books by the fire, deer out wandering in the evening, and wondering if I'll get in a run the whole week. It's been a fun and zany holiday season, and I'm looking forward to returning to a little bit of normalcy and catching up on missed blog time when the kids go back to school. I still have a post to write on rainbows, one on 'cause and effect', and an apology to my male runner friends who I called 'extras' in my last post. (I've had a lot of thinking time during my 5 am runs these past couple of weeks.) Hope you and yours have had a great holiday season ~ Be Safe, and Have an Excellent New Years! See ya' next year! -Ginger

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

12k's of Christmas

I was sorely reminded on my run this morning, that "oh yeah, i ran a race on sunday". (if i can be so brave as to call it that)

I rememeber getting up on time, and it was really cold and I could only find one of my wool running socks. The other has been missing for a few weeks, but I thought maybe a miracle would happen - no such luck. We left later than we'd planned - we have three kids and it was cold and early and their winter vacation to sleep in. No worries. I didn't really train for this race. I honestly wanted to do it for what's in the picture - the shirt. I figure I can go to the store and buy a cheesy holiday shirt, or I can pay the same money and go for a run. I saw the logo a long time ago and registered 'cause I like the artwork on the shirts. Pretty funny.

So we finally get to the race and park and pick up my race number and I have about 5 minutes 'til the start - so much for a warm-up. And so much for the porta-potty line. No stress, I mean it when I say I didn't train for this one - I've been running about 20 miles a week, no speedwork. With everything from flooding to ice and snow to wind and power outages - my schedule and the school cancellations have been crazy. So now a week before the big holiday and then a week skiing - maybe I'll train next year. hehehe

Okay, this race I did . . . I got into the start corral - freezing - I don't know how Danielle runs in MN - her last race post said there were 5,000 runners and it was 10 degrees and windy at the start. It was probably only around 30 degrees for my race. A couple of women jumped into the corral next to me and one said to the other, "try to blend in". They laughed - obviously not your typical runners, just out for a holiday run, having no idea what they were getting themselves into - they were ooh-ing and aah-ing over my nifty tech-fabric shirt I had on. So, the race started and off we went. During the first mile, 2 things happened: we passed a turn-around point, and I saw my first mile split on my watch. At the turn-around I could count the women in front of me - I don't know why I did it - boredom, I guess. I was the 40th woman. I sorta laughed, but it sorta ignited something in me, and my competitive side wanted nothing of it. My first mile split was 8:15, and as any good pace chart can tell me - I ran my last marathon a hair faster than that pace. So then the course took us by the start area. I saw my family - threw my hat, waved and smiled. I wanted to say, "My feet are numb, I really need to go to the bathroom, and do you know how slow this pace is?" I wanted to slap a little mitten, but there was a cop in the road between me and them. Oh well. On my merry way I went. The 12k's were marked with hand-drawn signs depicting the quotes from the song - "seven swans a swimming, six geese a laying, etc. That little competitive fire in me took over and I spent the remainder of the k's picking people off. It became my focus to see how far down I could get that number from the original 40th. It was easy at first, but the further along we went, the more spread out we were, and the harder I had to work. It wasn't any fun to pass guys - they didn't count in my mind - just extras. The course was a wee bit hilly, too, but I like that - a good variety makes for a nice muscle change-up every now and then. I clocked one of my downhill surge miles at 6:30 pace - hmmmm. My husband laughed at me after I finished - "I thought you said you were just gonna run easy . . " He knows me better. All in all, it made for a great workout - I need to put some more road races on my calendar and not prepare for them - I think I get a lot more out of it. I can pick a big race or two to train for and stress and fret about, but it's so much fun to have a race for a hard workout. I finished up in 13th - I think there were about 300 women .

Place Div/Tot Bib # Name Age City/state Net Time Gun Time Pace
13 4/114 53 Ginger Breadman 36 Seattle WA 54:34 54:52.4 7:22

My kids' favorite part was the candy-canes for post-race food. Me, too. I don't know if I've ever run this distance, so I can't compare my time - but I don't think it equates very high when I compare it to my best 10k's. I must've run hard, though, 'cause I was pretty sore this morning. It's gonna give me an itch to maintain through the rest of the year, and then crank up my training some in the new year and find some more races to run.

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Truths of the Season

Joe tagged me with this fun one, so here goes:

1. Egg nog or hot chocolate? Either one with coffee and kahlua
2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? both, i think - sometimes they are left by the fireplace - i imagine after an all night job, it's a lot easier after he comes down the chimney
3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? usually white lights on house and trim, alternate years with the tree - this year is colored, and blinking, and the children usually prefer that
4. Do you hang mistletoe? 'Mistletoe is the common name for various parasitic plants in the order Santalales' - would you hang something with that name in your home?
5. When do you put your decorations up? Thanksgiving weekend
6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? don't have a favorite to eat - like to try new things
7. Favorite holiday memory as a child? a letter was divided into three and my 2 siblings and I each received a piece in our stocking. When we put it together, it was a list of clues to find a hidden kitten which was our Christmas present
8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? As soon as I was old enough to walk and talk, I learned there was a Santa Claus who brought magic to Christmas. There is no other truth.
9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? no way! that's cheating! okay, my parents celebrate the holiday with extended family christmas eve, so we do, but never ones under our own tree
10. How do you decorate your Christmas tree? traditional ornaments from family past and ones the children have made - also lots of glass
11. Snow! Love it or dread it? love it - the excitement in watching it come down, to enjoy the beauty, and to cross-country ski in it
12. Can you ice skate? yes, somewhat
13. Do you remember your favorite gift? no, just the excitement
14. What's the most important thing about the holidays for you? the magic, the music, the lights, family
15. What is your favorite holiday dessert? almond roca from a passed down family recipe
16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? making gingerbread houses
17. What tops your tree? a star, definitely
18. Which do you prefer, giving or receiving? giving
19. What is your favorite Christmas song? Do they Know It's Christmas - the original Band-Aid
20. Candy canes? they were great 'after-race' food yesterday at the 12k
21. Favorite Christmas movie? The Grinch, and the one with the abominable snowman
22. What do you leave for Santa? cookies, truffles, rice milk, and carrots and oats for the reindeer

So, now you've read it . . . TAG! You're it! C'mon, join in the fun!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Scramble, Jingle-Jangle, Slip'n'slide, Chinese, Hannukah & Solstice

Scramble - yes, did that - loads of fun at Pike Place and beyond. got in three miles with three kids in two hours (got in 17 checkpoints in the rain with a total of 460 points - pretty amazing, and great family fun!)

Jingle-Jangle - spectated that one - crazy massive sea of red-shirted runners with jingle bells and santa hats and you-name-it Christmas costumes. the abominable snowman was definitely my favorite. there were 8,000 runners in the 2nd of three waves of participants. The highight for our 11-yr-old runner was when the crowd of runners entered the tunnel while running on the vacated freeway, and promptly broke into a chorus of 'Jingle Bells'.

Slip'n'slide - hmmm, sorta did that - went ice-skating. Mind you, I live in the Emerald City, nothing with icy diamonds. so for an ice-rink during the holidays you'll have to use your imagination. It was a blast and my feet aren't as sore as I thought they'd be. My friend likely has a tremendously large bruise that occurred when she fell when the young delinquent boys knocked her over. ice-skating . . . what a hoot.

Chinese - damn the Kung Pao was good, and the martini hit the spot. That was yesterday with mom and sisters for lunch, and I'm going to the exact same restaurant for dinner tomorrow with friends. And you know what? I think I'll order the exact same thing. Why not? It was most excellent. it's a humorous study on sociology - where people like to go when they come in from out of town to visit the city during the holidays.

Hannukah - ah, heck, why not? our friends invited us to a party at sundown Friday when the holiday begins and I really don't know a lot about the celebration. how cool to be invited to be part their community, their friends, their family. I think the kids will get a chance to expand their world just a little . .

Solstice - wow, saw a really cool rehearsal today for the solstice festival @ the international fountain @ Seattle Center - some sort of dance interpretation, soloist performers, and acapella singing - and supposedly they're having a parade of lights with luminaria and wishes for the new year. I love lights. I might have to get it on that festival somehow.

Oh, and I saw the end of a rainbow today.

I need to fit in a long run tomorrow somehow - but the good news is that I got new shoes this week - amazing before and after experience between the old and the new pair.

Monday, December 04, 2006

'Tis the Season

Ahhhh, yes . . . the holidays in full swing. I love the holiday season. I could care less about Christmas itself, other than the delight and true mystery it brings to children - but that, too can be classified as part of the season, and not Christmas itself.
To me, Christmas often seems like a lot of excess. There is so much shopping for things that really aren't needed, so much wrapping and garbage from the wrapping, so much food, and so much food that doesn't get eaten. It's easy to get caught up in the glitz and glam of it all - it seems almost expected. People want your Christmas list and you ask it of others. Heaven forbid you know the person well enough that you actually spend time considering the person and what they actually might like or want or need. Instead of simply eating, so much time and energy is spent on entertaining foods - fancy things you only eat once a year, food as decorations. And I think for me, Christmas Day itself represents the end to a special time of year, and things have to go back to the way they were. Sometimes that's sad.
I don't mean to be such a scrooge. I think it's hard for me: I love the season for other things that it stands for, and for the tradition, but at the same time, so much of that extra stuff goes against my better judgements and my morals.
I love the magic of the Christmas season, and amidst all the chaos, I hope that's what we, as parents, convey the most to our children. I love the spirit of giving - not for the junk because you want to give SOMEthing, but for the thought and time and energy that goes into that one special gift that you are so excited to give. I love the lights at Christmas time - on the trees, on the houses, in the city, all the candles, the miniature Christmas villages . . . they all seem to represent a unified beauty, a symbol of hope, and a magical time in the air. I love Santa Claus for all that he represents. My husband described it well to our 11-yr-old yesterday: it's something that everyone chooses for themselves whether or not to believe in, and what it represents for them. He said to think of it as a spirit like a god or a buddha and what it means in your own life. I'll always believe in Santa Claus, because to me it represents magic and a reminder of things in our world so mystical that we'll never fully understand. I love the snow this time of year because it's peaceful and quiet and it's beauty is an awesome thing to behold.
Some parts of the holidays, I take part in because of tradition. I feel like that's hypocritical. I guess, although they might not follow my everyday structure of living, and frustrate me for that reason, they might make others happy - and that, I need to remember, is giving something that others enjoy and might define their holiday season, just as I try to define what mine is.
So what does Ginger Breadman do during the holidays? I'm going to attempt to do what makes me happy, and what makes my family happy. Somewhere in there is a compromise.
The season always kicks off with Thanksgiving weekend, because it's always also a weekend of our oldest child's birthday, our wedding anniversary, and the Seattle Marathon. That weekend we also cut down our Christmas Tree at a tree farm out in the country - complete with roaming farm animals, wagons to pull the kids and the tree through the property, and honey from the bees. And that weekend we went to see the fancy gingerbread houses, and the tree lighting. Things that symbolize the holidays. This last weekend we went to visit out-of-town relatives and friends and see their special lighted Christmas displays they're so proud of, and visit Santa Claus.
So what's left? The house is decorated, the village is set out, the lights are up, holiday music is playing . . .
~we'll make almond roca for gifts - a coveted family recipe, and a passed-down tradition
~we'll make a gingerbread house the children and their cousins will eat Christmas eve - it's a tradition I've done since I was a little girl, but now as an adult who appreciates the art form, it's hard to see the waste of leftovers, but something the children look so forward to
~we'll go see the lighted Christmas ships and hear the caroling, and sip hot drinks with the people on the beach by the bonfire - it's been a tradition since we were married
~we'll go to 2 holiday road races and a street scramble
~we'll go see the eagles nesting on the river - a winter time favorite
~I'll have holiday tea time with the women in my family - a tradition as long as I've been an adult
~we'll take a drive and walk to see the holiday light displays
~we'll do something special for my husband's birthday on the 22nd, so it doesn't get lost in the holiday shuffle
~we'll make truffles and bake cookies because it rocks the world of my children
Somewhere in all that, we'll try to pretend there is peace on earth . . . the children will go to school, my husband will go to work, we'll go running and to the gym, we'll fit in ballet and basketball and chess club, we'll cook dinner, read stories . . . and come Christmas day, I'll actually be exhausted and looking forward to a break from it. And hopefully I'll be able to reflect on the joys of it all, and have new memories to reflect on throughout the next year.