Monday, April 27, 2009

Fitting in the outdoors

Sunday came and went. I was out the door at sunrise. My favorite run skirts the water of Elliot Bay as it heads 15 miles north. I love the city and how much life goes on within it. All in one run was a whole lifetime of observation. I started out tiptoeing past the sleepers under the bridge. I ran through the industrial area and gawked in awe of the size of the port, the railroad, the freeways, and the metropolitan skyrises looming ahead. The waterfront was a bustle of activity with sidewalks being hosed off, people leaving a shelter to exist somewhere else in the daytime, those dragging luggage for the boat to Canada, and the first cruise ship of the season sailing into port. Then my hill. It may not be the steepest in the city, but starts out as a hefty incline, and continues three miles to the biggest park in the city. And those three miles reward me with sweeping views of the sound, the marina below, the tankers, the islands . . . but really I like looking at where I started out across the bay and how high up I've come from the water below, knowing I ran up that high and that far from home. I can actually see it simultaneously. There are very few people out this early. Not even the gardeners getting started on the lawns of these expertly manicured grand homes in the neighborhood. The park brings me more views - further west and north, rabbits, birds, sandy trails, open fields - then into the woods with tall trees and switchbacks. You can zigzag so fast it becomes a game. I run down down down out of the park to the locks and watch for boats and salmon and heron that live nearby. My last couple of miles are along the bike trail and through the marina full of sails waiting to be taken for a ride. And then the golden park. Golden Gardens really is it's name. Sandy beaches galore. But golden for me, because my husband has arrived. While I've been running . . . he's gotten four kids up and out the door with cocoa, stopped at the bagel shop, and brought me warm clothes and a couple of recovery drinks.

What does one do next in this scenario? My husband took off for his point-to-point run - today that was 12 miles east. The kids and I dug in the sand, watched trains, found statues, found a troll, leapfrogged through town and took the dog for a swim at the dog park on the lake where my husband's run ended. We were all home in good time before lunch.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Spring Break in Seattle

Rainy Seattle isn't really anyone's idea of a spring break location but sometimes in life you just don't get to do the choosing.

My family is all sick except me and the one who is attending three different sleepovers in four days. My marathon training plans were going great. I visualize the event every single day and I get so excited just thinking about it. I even had it all planned out with the kids home all week from school. One day I'd put three on bikes and one in the jogger and go to the locks and ride out a trail to the park. Another day I could do Greenlake and the zoo. I'd get my runs in, the kids would get out, and the little one would get his nap in the jogger. That was all before the sore throats, stuffy noses, headaches, fevers and doctor visits. I didn't even run at all today and my weekly mileage is totally screwed.

Yesterday I reached burnout by late afternoon. My run had never transpired. The cool planned outing with kids never happened. The toddler never got a nap all day. I spent hours grocery shopping at three different stores with sick kids and accomplished nothing more. Nothing tries my patience more than sick kids. Somehow all of a sudden they become so helpless and I feel overstretched and want a break. So much for the satisfaction of being a stay-at-home mom. I made coffee at 4:00, knowing it'd keep me up late, but not caring because I was so tired and cranky. I even decided it was late enough in my day and turned it into a coffee cocktail. Most delicious. I started dinner and chalked it all up to just another day - tomorrow would be different. After my husband arrived home, I calculated how much time I had until he had to leave for a meeting, and thought . . . just maybe . . .

I pulled on some running clothes, grabbed my music and headed out the door. I sorta wondered if that cocktail I had earlier is how crazy runners train for those pub crawls. Sometimes, though, you just have to take the opportunity when you have it. Evening is a weird time of day to run for me - I do the day thing with the baby in the jogger and he does his nap thing. My run was so different it was amazing. I ran hard and fast - it's amazing how different it feels when you aren't pushing a jogger with a baby wearing ten layers of clothes and blankets and the rain fly.

I ran the same place I probably run 3 or 4 days a week, but at twilight nothing seemed the same. There was this one moment where I looked all around me and thought about my camera. It seemed ironic to me that the camera is broken. Almost as if it were a silent message to me to forget the tool and just open my eyes and take a look around and something I might miss.

I could look out across the bay to the city skyline as the lights were just beginning to twinkle. The sky beyond was dark and grey, but the mirrored buildings reflected the last bits of light from the fading day. A waterfront restaurant was all aglow in colorful holidayish lights that made it look like a magical wonderland. A couple of eagles flew overhead and I watched one soar up to the nest high in the trees. While I was looking up, I almost tripped over the geese scurrying across the path trying to stay out of my way. I stopped and noticed the babies. Finally. The baby geese - goslings if you prefer. To me, that and the sweet cherry blossoms signal spring around here. The winter has been unseasonably cold and wet, and today at the beginning of April it was snowing - like a sick April Fool's joke. But there were the tiniest of geese all huddled together hustling around with mom and dad. It doesn't last long. The smallness, the fragility, the clinginess. It's all a necessary part of an amazing process. It made me re-evaluate my little ones and not so little ones at home feeling needy. Some days are hard, but they're worth it.

I love my family. I love running. And I love when winter is over.