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Everything you need to know about running and life and any other random crap I find bouncing through my mind like a ping pong ball. And always be sure your shoes are happy.

Archive for the category “Running”

Don’t stop believing

Don’t stop believing

Yesterday as I drove in the dark along the nearly deserted six-lane road, hitting all green lights like catching the brass ring on a merry-go-round, Journey started playing on the radio.  Green lights and one of my favorite songs, the day started well.

I did stop believing once for a bit of time, between my back, my broken foot, and an overdose of steroids, which makes running again all the sweeter for having known the pain.

Runners tend to see running as a metaphor for life:  struggle, pain, failure; achievement, success, fulfillment, and for good reason.  So often running, like life, is a dichotomy of both success and failure, achievement and loss, pain and joy.  We live so much of life in our minds.  “I can’t.”  “They won’t.”  “If only…”

When we run, we can be.  When I run I can look up at the sky, hear birds calling, breathe deeply, hear the soft sounds of my feet on the pavement.  The problem is, my leg hurts.  I run, I look around, I hurt.  Now, I know what causes the pain, and I know I’m not likely to break anything or do permanent damage as long as I continue doing what I’m supposed to do.  In this case, I want the joy more than I don’t want the pain.

One of the most healing moments of my life was the night of my brother’s funeral.  Everyone had left, just family members sitting around the kitchen table, wondering what to say or do, when someone started telling a story on Bret.  Soon we were crying laughing at memories of my brother who was so incredibly rich in love and personality.  Crying, and laughing.  Joy and pain.  At that moment I knew – I believed – that someday that gaping hole that went straight through me, right through the middle of me, catching on every breath, would fade.  The pain would lessen over time, and it was OK to grieve and still feel joy.

I am a person who focuses on negative.  I don’t know if I am depressive because I’m negative, or if I’m negative because I’m depressive, but I’ve finally decided that doesn’t matter.  What matters is what I believe.  What is the truth in this day?  It’s grey, cold, cloudy.  Can I fill it with warmth and light?  Do I dwell on “I wanted to…”  “Now I can’t…”?  What purpose does this day hold?

I’m re-reading Jack Daniels, who says every run should have a purpose (such as intensity or distance).  He, however, was coaching world-class college kids.  I’m not comparable to either world-class or college-aged, and I’ve decided some of my runs will have the purpose of just for the hell of it.  Because I can.  Because I can wake up, and my legs mostly work, and it’s not 3 feet of snow and I just can.

Yesterday I changed my routine and joined some friends I haven’t run with for a while to get a few miles before the sun came up.  We ran down the street and out the Greenline, just goin’ anywhere.  We ran and talked and joked, in the dark, picking out the clearly marked “snake crossing” in the dim beam of my head lamp, elated that no snakes appeared to be anxious to cross in the dark under our feet.  Too soon it was time to turn around, get back to the cars, and go do grown-up things, so we reluctantly headed back.  When the run was done my watch noted that I’d gone 3.72 miles.

I have a dangle.  This means that, if I do not run off the remaining .28, my numbers will be odd.  When I download my data, my numbers will not end evenly, there will be a .72 mile dangle.

Then some other day I will have to run an extra .28 to even the dangle, which means I will have a second dangle.

I had 7 on the training plan.

Now I have to math. 7 – 3.72 = um, 3.72 +.28 = 4 and I have five to do, so that’s 1.28, except, wait, I actually have 7 to do, and 7 – 5 = 2, so I have 2.28 to do.

Somehow that doesn’t seem right.  I think I did something wrong there.

I drove home with 3.72 miles on my watch, worrying stupidly the entire time about finishing the goal.  Hitting the mark.  I got out of the car to go run my 1.28 or 2.37 or whatever I had left and stopped, standing still in the carport.  A flock of birds circled and swooped in the early morning sun, rising and falling as they chittered, swirling upward and off into the beautiful pink sunrise, going anywhere.  I thought about that word, purpose.  What purpose do these birds have, really?  To exist.  They exist.  They move and breathe and live and give birth and die.

I turned and walked into the house.  The run was good, the company was awesome, the sunrise was beautiful, radiating pink across the sky as we walked back to our cars, sweaty from the run and starting to chill a bit.  A better purpose was served than meeting any numbers I’ve self-imposed.

If you are struggling with life or with running – don’t stop believing.  Don’t give up.  Go ahead and give yourself a break if you need, take some time off, reconsider the purpose in your life.  As much as you can – and we all know this is very hard to do, but as much as you are able – look for some joy in this day.  Make one goal, feel purposeful and believe in yourself, and believe in time.  Believe in healing and growth and purpose.

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This IS my Happy Face.

Here follows a riveting, step-by-step recap of last weekend’s rain-athlon.  You’ll laugh.  You’ll cry.  You’ll be forever changed.  You’ll never get this four minutes back.

After taking most of Thursday to get my head back on, I did well Friday.   It finally came down to the fact that I couldn’t face being a wimp.  It came down to ego.  Facing the triathlon was the lesser of two evils.  I needed the bragging rights, I couldn’t sit home pouting while everyone else put on their big pants and did the race.  Plus – did I mention? – they have free beer.

Once I figured that out and got moving I felt better.  I got organized, printed a triathlon check list and realized I’d done well getting everything arranged and packed.  The alarm went off at 4am, the car was loaded and we were set to go.  Weather.com never changed its mind; this is what our drive to Tunica looked like:

rainy

 That’s rain, not a crappy picture.  Although it is also a crappy picture.  Hey – it was 5am and I was only on my third coffee.

I stalled on the Happy Face a bit when we arrived, getting out of the car in 52 degrees of windy rain.  We set up my transition in the rain and mud and went into the hotel to stay as warm and dry as we could until the start.  The lobby was full of people in varying stages of concern, irritation, or resignation, making me not the only one with the Idonwannas.  One of my friends walked out and went home.  I felt slightly envious.

Sitting on the lobby floor I wrestled with the now sentient and obviously reluctant wetsuit which, as I pulled at the rubberized neoprene, continuously snapped back into its original shape like a new rubber band, clinging to my calves as I pulled and stretched with increasing effort.  I finally got the reluctant thing – I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any happier than the rest of us –  about halfway up my thighs.  Standing, I jumped in place and tugged on the suit, because jumping up and down helps?  At one point I got my arms into the arm holes but couldn’t stand straight because the crotch was still halfway up my thighs.  Normally this type of thing would be a bit embarrassing, bent in half, in public, captive to a large stretchy garment of rubber, but everyone else was doing the same dance.

The best part?  When I finally got it on, found a stranger to zip me and was able to stand straight?  I had to go to the bathroom.  And it wasn’t optional.

Thank you, nice lady in the bathroom, whom I’ve never met before, because with my hair smashed inside the rubber swimming condom and my body squished flatter than a pancake you looked for a moment as though someone was not in the correct restroom, and yet you didn’t scream.

thankyou

Waiting for the start, standing in barefoot in the wet, muddy grass in a sleeveless wetsuit and 52-degree rain made the jump into 68-degree water feel nice.  Even nicer, I felt no fear of the swim.  I wasn’t much faster than last year, in fact it seemed to take much longer – because this time I knew where I was going? – but I made it.  I ran through the squishy muddy grass to my transition site.   The wetsuit that didn’t want me is now my best friend, “please, I love you, don’t leave me” and I plopped in the mud, finally jerking it off my feet, pulling socks on over the mud – who cared at this point – and crammed on my bike shoes.

Running through the grassy muddy transition I worried about all the stuff that could get crammed in my cleats and if I’d be able to clip in, but the Gods of Rainy Triathlons provided a handy-dandy shoe washing station:

IMG_0660

 That’s not me ^^

This is me:

MIM tri v.2

This IS my Happy Face ^^
(DISCLAIMER – I am not a member of the Very Awesome Thunder Tri Team, but Kat C. loaned me this jacket to stay warm on the bike.  See?  Awesome people.)

The bike was great!  I was hitting 20 – 21 mph!  It was so easy!  No strain, quads kicking in and not complaining, calves are silent – maybe it’s a miracle?  I’ve had a miraculous cycling miracle with my 2014 training plan of four bike rides?  This is AWESOME!  I’m golden!  I’m like … in a shitton of trouble, turning left halfway through the bike into a straight-on headwind blowing misty rain in my face.  I dropped from 20mph to 10 in about 13 seconds.  A woman in my age group passed me and disappeared into the distance.  Dammit.

If you’ve never done a run following a bike ride, even a really slow bike ride, it’s weird.  Cycling cadence is much higher than a run cadence; your legs get used to going round and round faster than usual, so when you head out on the run it feels like you’re still slogging through the mud of transition, yet you’re gasping for air, doing a 100-count-per-minute cadence.  It seems to take most of the first mile to get the message to my legs that they can relax now.  I managed to pass the lady who’d passed me on the bike and came into the chute knowing I’d left everything on the course, finishing 6 minutes slower than last year, all of it lost on the bike.

Saturday afternoon sitting around the pool with everyone I found myself thinking, “I could still register for tomorrow’s Olympic distance”, and I considered it for a moment, before realizing I was completely untrained for it.  I knew, given my sincere desire not to injure this year, that  it was a bad idea.  But if I were trained up enough…

WTH??

Get yer head outta yer …

It took considerable effort and most of the day – and a sunny day at that, which would normally help more than it did – but I think I have finally successfully completed the most recently needed headeroidectomy.

This time last year, a couple days before the Memphis in May Sprint Tri, I was also a bitch, but it was born of fear.  Heart-pounding, jump-out-of-the-car-and-run-to-the-portajohn fear.  I wish I were a better person, a person who could panic with grace and good humor, but so far in my life that has never happened.  At least for now I’m stuck being a jerk.  Hopefully I’m shortening the jerk duration but I have no proof.

I’ll tell you the difference a year makes.  I have no reason to believe that you will believe what I’m about to say because I sure didn’t, and I’m the one who heard the words come out of my own mouth, although I could have been channeling some long dead Egyptian god of the Nile, in which case it would have been my own mouth I guess, but not my own words, right?  Anyway, you can imagine my shock when one day my mouth said out loud, “I’d like to get a swim in the lake.”

I turned around reallyquick to be sure Jeff Dunham was not standing behind me playing a practical joke but, no, it was just me and Murphy, and Murph was busy chasing a squirrel and barking.  He’s good and all, but I’m pretty sure he cannot be a ventriloquist and bark at the same time.  Apparently it was my mouth which said that.

Obviously it was surprising.  It was not what I expected my mouth to say, but there you go, it did, and when I thought about it I realized that my mouth was right.  Brain also thought it would be nice to swim in the lake.

So, we did.  Becky and John and Jay came over and we jumped in the cold lake water squealing like girls even though two of us were boys and we swam around until the cold water made us get a little vertigo.  Then we climbed out of the lake, had a beer or two and ate pizza.  It was quite a nice afternoon and I was pleased.

I’ve ridden my bike in circles clipping/unclipping, I think I know how to shift.  I may not really love riding the bike but the panic is mostly gone.  The swim was actually fun, especially the beer part afterward, which was my favorite.  And, of course, all that’s left after that is the run.

My training is not where I wish it were, it’s harder to run slower than I was running last year, which means it’s near impossible to run faster, and faster would still be slower than it used to be.  This makes my ego hurt, and it probably hurt your brain reading that sentence but I swear it makes sense.  So I know that I’m not going to kill the triathlon this weekend.  I’m just going to swim without panic, ride my bike with a normal workout heart rate and finish up with a run.

Then – and this is where the genius comes in – you are going to be soooo impressed – all afternoon Saturday I will sit around the pool in the sunshine with my friends and  free beer.

I repeat – all I have to do is go for a little swim, tool around on my bike, and then run, and I get all the free, warm, soft sunshine I want!  And if I get too warm in the free sunshine, I can get in the pool!  Then I can get in the sun!  Then the pool!

Hallelujah

Okay, plot development.  This is the sad part of the movie where the heroine is deathly ill and the hero is gone off to war or something, I don’t know.  Wherever heroes go.

Current forecast for Tunica this Saturday:  feel like temp of 50, 60%-70% chance of rain.  Mostly cloudy and mid 60’s for the afternoon.  I felt very frustrated, which is quite 3 year-old-of me, albeit an improvement over being very 2-year-old-ish.  Crank crank pout and stomp feet.  DON’T LIKE.  Make it go away.

Of course it’s not going anywhere, unlike our flake of a hero.

So this is what’s going to happen.  I’m going to get wet in the water, then I may get wet on the bike, which I’ll be riding in already wet attire, and then I’ll run in wet attire which wouldn’t get any drier regardless, it will get wetter with rain, or with sweat, or with both.  I’m going to think of the participants who are doing both the Saturday and the Sunday race, with a 40% chance of thunderstorms Sunday morning also.  I’m going to think of Becky’s bike breaking last Saturday, and I’m going to think about all the people who wish they had the luxury of running, biking and/or swimming but they don’t, and I may do it soaking wet and cold.  Who knows?

Then, as long as I don’t fall off the bike or on my face, I’ll be done.  If I do it without complaining and with grace and charm I will be a heroine, at least in my own eyes.

And – the beer will still be free.

Sh*t happens. Later we can get over it.

Well good morning you two, and how are you doing this fine day?

The sun is shining, reflecting off the lake, but I find this confusing as the sky is overcast.  Apparently somewhere on the other side of the house the sun is poking through just a bit, even though I cannot see it.  Another metaphor for life.  And this morning I am thinking especially of my dear friend Becky who has diligently put in all the miles training for her 2nd half-Ironman, which is being held this morning in the Gulf Coast.  Well, two-thirds of the race are being held anyway; the swim has been cancelled.

I saw her face when they announced it and my heart fell for her.  Later the crank fell off her bike.  All of that, the hours and hours of training, struggling through hard workouts, planning, worrying, dreaming.  Done, gone.

Titanic

Fill in the metaphor: ___________________________________________________

I know she’s devastated.  I combined some $%&* and some tears when she told me.  You know how it is, for a minute you think, really?  You’re kidding, right?  But, no, she’s done, it’s over for today.  We all know how this feels.  You’ve worked so hard, you’ve followed your plan, you do everything the boss says, or the trainer says, you follow the rules and all of a sudden you run into a wall.  You break your foot, or your bike fails, or your boss reviews your input and says no.  Boston gets bombed out.  NYC gets stormed out.

shit happens

Personally, when stuff like that happens to me and I get this type of input:  “life goes on” “make lemonade” – it just makes me mad.  I believe we need a little space to be upset.  It DOES suck.  It does hurt, it’s incredibly disappointing.  Oh well, la-la-la, get over it, look over here, a rainbow!  Oh yeah?  Guess where your rainbow can go.  I’ll be fine in a bit, just back off.

Last week I had the great opportunity to attend the RRCA (Road Runners Club of America) Annual Convention in Spokane, Washington.  This may surprise you, but there is not an overwhelming plethora of running club secretaries in the Memphis area.  I know, right?  I am a company of one.  So it was a lot of fun to talk shop with other attendees, and I’ve carried home a notebook full of ideas.

This is the fourth convention I’ve attended and I believe the best so far (possibly inching ahead of our hosting in 2012, don’t tell anyone).  I met Bernard Lagat!

bernard

I wasn’t going to ask for a photo – but others did, so I jumped into the fold.
No pride, no regrets.

He spoke at lunch of the sacrifices his family made for one another, the opportunities he was fortunate enough to be given.  A very engaging speaker, he talked openly and honestly about success and failure, accepting and moving forward.  He laughed along with all of the attendees when he described what coming in fourth in the Olympics felt like.  Fifth place, you pretty much know it’s not going to be your day.  Third, *sigh* I made the podium!  Second, *yay* I’m not first but I’m not third!

Fourth:

horseshoe handgrenade

Don Kardong addressed this also when he spoke on Saturday.  This must have been an especially bitter pill when the first place finisher was later stripped of his medal for doping, but just like Mr. Lagat, he was charming, humble, and funny.  He joked that after the doping issue the first place medal was divided into thirds and this was his portion:

neck_ribbon_image

Um…thanks?

That evening Deena Kastor spoke.  She was the 1997 RRCA Roads Scholar recipient, living in Colorado working as a waitress, training, then working all day on her feet, training again at night.  The scholarship allowed her to quit work for a year and focus on her training.  We all know how well that turned out!

All three were humble, grateful people, appreciative of the help they’ve received and the chances they’ve been given.  They are among the best in the world but they would not have been there speaking to us without dedication and hard work.  They fell, they struggled, they stood back up.  They grabbed the opportunities they were given and remain grateful for all of it.

I will never be an elite runner.  I have, however, realized through these speakers that I can continue to strive to be an elite person, even if I do slip a bit, falling back and struggling when the sh*t shows up.

++++++++++++

ADDENDUM:   After the DNF Becky cried a bit, then put on her shoes and ran out to the course to cheer on her friends and teammates.  I’m proud to call her friend and hero.

Happy Flookie Bootie

It’s my birthday!  I may as well admit it; I’m typing so I’m still breathing, so odds are I’m gonna have one of those at least once this year.

It really is a beautiful day, 60 degrees this morning when I woke, gorgeous sunrise and nothing I had to do, not even a race I needed to work which hasn’t been the case recently.  Here’s a pic of the beautiful morning:

IMG_0390

This photo was taken with an iPhone by a total amateur.

I have no work I have to do, and I have nothing I’m training for, so I can – call me crazy – go for a run with … wait for it … NO GOAL.

Right.  Breathe in … breathe out … breathe in … breathe out … I know you’re both taken aback, I realize the idea of just going for a run like you were a kid with no responsibilities on a Saturday morning is completely out of character for any real runner and could cost me my card.

But, then, I’m just wild and crazy and there’s no stopping me, as we’ve discussed before so you know what?

Nanner Nanner Boo-Boo.

nanner nanner

That’s What.  This photo was not taken by me with my iPhone.  Thank you, icanhascheezburger.com

Now that  we’ve settled that like three responsible adults, as I said, I decided to go for a run.  Just a run.  That’s it.  Not being a total rebel nor completely insane I did not, however, run nekkid.  Garmin and HR monitor are our friend.  Once I did not wear Garmin and HR monitor and while I was gone Garmin committed GPS suicide.  The next run Garmin refused to charge or find the Mothership.  I cannot bear that type of responsibility.  At this point in my life the goal is shedding responsibility, not taking on more.

Becky batshitcrazy-biker-babe Elkins met me and biked alongside for a few miles.  We ran into (not literally, of course, because that would be rude, right?) April “Honeybadger” Henderson and Donnie “Deacon” Baldock who were at, oh, I don’t know, 87 miles or so.  Becky had to peel off back home so I hung with Donnie and April.

Here in my fascinating narration of the un-run we will stop.  You two go watch the Honeybadger vid linked to April’s name, above.

It’s ok – go on – I can wait.

Eew, that’s so nasty.”

 “Look, it’s eating larvae, that’s disgusting. “

(Just entertaining myself here, go ahead, watch the vid.)

Done?  OK cool.  That’s the end of that part of the story, I wanted you to see the honeybadger vid, the rest was just verbiage to get there.  Otherwise this story would be one word long and probably everyone would be grateful.  To bad, it’s not.

PART TWO

In a vain attempt to distract Donnie and April (running animal beasts), and since we’d about exhausted honeybadger quotes, I thought if they heard a story they would be fascinated and slow down, and also because something reminded me of the story but now I cannot remember what, I told them the story of the day our dog Maxie bit my butt.

Actually he didn’t bite it.  I mean, he did bite it, but it wasn’t really a bite, he was barking.

For some reason I happened to be chasing the twins through the house – for FUN! – they were running in circles laughing and I was chasing behind them laughing and Maxie was running in circles behind me barking.  Unfortunately I had to stop suddenly and Maxie didn’t brake, instead running right into my backside while barking and on the downstroke of the bark he bit my butt.

 It broke the skin and bruised, he had a strong jaw, and I had to go to the doctor to get an antibiotic and get it checked.  It was a bit embarrassing but what can you do?  You have a dog bite on your butt.  It’s not like you can say, oh, look, I think I broke my finger.  They’re pretty much going to have to check things out, if you know what I mean, and they don’t believe you when you say you broke your finger but you actually didn’t.

PART THREE

Two or three weeks later I got a phone call.  The insurance company.  “I understand you were bitten by a dog.”

“Oh, gawd.  Um, yeah…”

“I need to determine if there will be any suits filed in the incident.”

“Right.  No.  It’s OK.”

“Have you made any type of settlement then?”

“Uhhh.  Mmmmm…” so I had to tell another stranger about the dog bark biting my butt, that it happened in my house, to me, and was my fault, so probably I wasn’t suing myself.

“…so you see,” I concluded, “it was just a fluke.”

PART FOUR

Immediately Donnie and April composed a birthday song named after me entitled “Fluke Bootie.”  It goes like this:

FLOOOOOK BOOOOOOOOOOTIE

FLUKEY BOOTY Fluke fluke fluke bootAY

FLOOOOOOKIE Flookie Flook BOOTIE

After that you let the band riff for a while.

PART FIVE

The moral here, Boy and Girl, is never tell anyone your dog bit your butt but it was a fluke.

Well, that sucked. YAY!!!

I did six miles this afternoon and it sucked 🙂  I can’t hold a pace under 9:45 without an oxygen mask dropping from the overhead, I’m maxing my HR and my heart looked pretty much like this:

bugs bunnyOnly it wasn’t because I saw a sexy bunny.

This means that, one, I really am back to running because I’m no longer jogging along comfy just for the sake of being on the pavement.  Two, I’m running.  You can’t complain about a run if you can’t run.  Thus I had the very sweet luxury of running along thinking *&^% this SUCKS.  I SUCK.  This run SUCKS, and as I thought it I found myself smiling with the joy of a sucking run.

Again proving runners are #crazynutjobs.  But – we’re happy crazy nut jobs so you gotta love us, right?

This week has sort of sucked.  First, I guess because Jen and I had talked about him, and then I wrote about it, Tuesday night I dreamed of my brother.  I never dreamed of him when he died. I wanted to, I’d have taken any chance to see him even if just in a dream, but it never happened.   This dream was incredibly real.  Nothing special, Bret I were talking, about mom and anything else you’d talk to your brother about if you were in the kitchen one afternoon, and I remember nothing other than that.  Then I woke up, which surprised me because I thought I was awake talking to my brother, and I realized it wasn’t real.  It was SO real, and then it just wasn’t, it didn’t exist, and I started crying.  I couldn’t quit and poor Hubs was lying there patting me on the shoulder.  “Is it Murphy?  Are you upset about Murphy?” but I just kept snorting all over, my pillow wet with tears.  It was, quite frankly, rather stupid.  Here I am, again, with my body doing something I have no control over.  I mean, I tried.  I bit the pillow, I clenched my jaw, I stuffed my face in the pillow – nothing.  Just kept crying, except when I stuffed my face in the pillow because then when I sniffed I kinda choked because of course there was a pillow stuffed into my face.  I guess actually you could say it was successful, in that I did quit crying while I choked.  Anyway, I finally drifted off to sleep still crying and then the next morning I looked like I’d run into a wall.

Du Maurier

When I woke I realized I was going to have to call the Vet about Murph T. Dog because he’d been limping around since Monday afternoon and now he wouldn’t eat or drink, and he kept yelping when he moved wrong.  Mostly he just wouldn’t move at all and I had to lift him into the Explorer and back out of the Explorer and he does weigh about 36 pounds hanging there in my arms, miserable.  Then he pooped on the Vet’s front door step.  “My dog just pooped on your door step,” I announced, carrying the limp bag of dog cement into the office, “do you have some paper towels I can use?”   They were very nice and refused to let me try to pick up poop while holding the aforementioned 36 pounds of useless dog and one of the techs cleaned up my dog’s poop for me.  I’m sure this is not the first time she’s had to do that but I still felt bad.

He has a couple vertebra that have been a problem in the past and sure enough, he hurt it somehow, so they filled him with shots and I carted home two pill bottles about the size of a jelly jar.  He moped around in pain and finally hid under the bed, having eaten one little doggie biscuit and two very large, peanut butter wrapped pills.

Thursday morning he came downstairs almost sort of perky and Chunk was not upset when she saw him so I figured that was a good thing since she gets rather insulted when people don’t feel well, like it’s a bother to her somehow.  “Oh, I’m sorry I’m vomiting out most of my insides, Chunk, I know you find it offensive,” I feel compelled to apologize.  Oddly, despite her complete irritation and disdain for all things sick or injured she is strangely fascinated, roaming about smacking inanimate objects and the offender, yet she refuses to leave their side.   “Smack!  Quit it!,” she seems to be saying and it makes me think she was a neurosurgeon in her past life as my experience with neurosurgeons evidenced about the same level of compassion, not that I’m bitter or angry, just stating facts.

Unfortunately Thursday afternoon he stood up, yelped quite loudly and refused to move, just stood there, head hanging, heart pounding.  Well crap, I thought, maybe he’s ruptured a disc or something.  It was too late to call the vet so I carried him upstairs, he scooted under the bed and never came back out.  In fact he appeared ready to stay under the bed the rest of his life so this morning I had to get the mattress and box springs off the bed and carry him downstairs.  Despite not eating much in the past 48 hours I can attest that he has not lost any weight, and we repeated Wednesday morning only omitting the pooping on the door step, which made me happy.

They knocked him out with a muscle relaxer, Xrayed his back and gave him some different steroids and gave me another big bottle of pills.  Since Murphy was splayed out in a kennel like a freshman at 4am during rush week I left him there and will get him later this afternoon.  The Vet prefers – and we concur – to try to treat this medically.  Surgery is an option but I really hope that is not going to happen.  I expect if you could ask Murphy he’d agree.

So – my week kinda sucked but it’s a luxury to have a sucky week with a tough run and a sick dog because I know a whole bunch of people with way worse things going on, marriages and cancer and death so I think what you should do is ruefully shake your head at this week’s travails and go kiss your loved ones and also kiss your dogs and cats despite the fact you will get hair in your nose and sneeze.

The End.

Crossroads

peter gathje

These are the shoes of a homeless man.  These are the shoes he walked in daily.  These are the only shoes he owned.
I own a countless pair of shoes, usually wearing more than one pair of shoes daily.
I run, I come home, I put on other shoes.  If my feet are tired I’ll change shoes.

I’m up since 3am and Brain 1 and Brain 2 refuse to compromise and play well together.  I’m going to visit my mom and I’m sure that’s part of the fireworks in the head, lots of adrenalin and “did I remember…” “Oh, shoot, don’t forget…”

It’s Lent.  As we’ve discussed, I have my issues with organized religion but consider myself deeply spiritual despite the occasional (be honest, frequent) F bombs and Dammits.

This week I had the honor of meeting Dr. Peter Gathje, a man who walks in Christ’s sandals.  He co-administers  or directs (sorry, don’t know the correct title) Manna House of Memphis, which I’ve been following since several summers ago when there was an article in the Commercial Appeal.  It was an extremely hot summer.  The article was about the homeless that Manna House serves and their need for shoes, preferably athletic – when you think about it, giving a homeless man a pair of worn out leather dress shoes is not all that helpful if he’s going to be walking miles around downtown daily – and tech shirts, since it was so hellishly hot.

Since I sometimes hang around with runners, I posted that I would collect shoes at one of the RRS 5 milers.  Runners, being the incredibly awesome people they are, left dozens of shoes by my car which I toted to Manna House, dropped them off and left.  I have continued to gather stuff when I can and have toted more stuff down to Manna House, little tiny drops in a huge bucket.

I’ve mostly come to peace with my issues, but it’s Lent, which I’ve always loved, so the wrestling match in my brains heats up.  God, as he does, won’t let go and has shaken things up – again.  Two “chance” encounters at stores I seldom visit and a box of shoes and t-shirts, these are the conversations God and I have had this week.

I know this is vague and likely rambling but thank you, angels, for being where you were supposed to be when you were.  The tangled ball of yarn continues to unwind and you were His agents.  I’m looking forward to learning where the journey will go.  And if this path goes no further I still thank you, Dr. Gathje, and F, and S, for being there at this crossroad.

I’m sorry I spit on your dog…

…but at least she is nice and furry so it froze to fur, not skin, on this cold morning with a wind chill of 15 degrees.  I can’t feel too bad about that temperature, however, as this afternoon it is 17 degrees with a feel like of 1 in downtown Chicago, where my son is probably questioning what the hell he is doing.  Certainly you can write code in Hawaii or Florida.

I’ve hooked up with a new running group!  I just started last week.  This week’s workout popped up in my inbox:

W/U
4 strides
15 min tempo
4 amphitheater hills
C/D

This is very sweet and I find it encouraging that anyone thinks I have more than one pace right now, not that I care.  I’m running.  I don’t give one spit how fast or slow at this point.  And – I finally got cold weather bragging rights, all these winter days I’ve sat inside, jealous of others running and posting pics of their eyelashes glistening white with ice.

Sadly, my eyelashes did not freeze this morning.  Although I don’t really want my eyelashes to freeze, I do want the bragging rights and hold hope it could still happen.

The *ahem* “warm up” consisted of plowing up a hill into the biting wind so I hit 90% HR by 1/2 mile.  That’s OK, I’m good, walk a little recovery and start again.  And again, and again, and every day in every way I’m getting better and better.

I ran in the cold and I liked it (I liked iii-it) except I got a bit phlegm-y.  While we stood around deciding which way to go (since the wind was bogarting 90% of any possible direction), I did what any good runner would do and spit a loogie.  It had a nice arc and distance – and impeccable timing, as just then furry black Quianna ran past.

“Did you just spit on the dog?” asked my friend.

“Yeah, I think I did,” I replied, patting around trying to find it and wipe her off, but I couldn’t find it in the dark on the black dog.

I happily finished five miles and headed to the cars with the group.  Lucia walked by with Quianna.  There was my frozen spit shining on her fur, glistening in the rising sun.

“Is that your spit frozen on my dog?” asked Lucia.

I tried to rub it off but it was frozen fast.   “That’s OK, she’ll probably jump in the lake anyway,” Lucia said, and sure enough, she did.  I guess dogs don’t bother getting all worked up over weather.com, they just take it as it comes and figure there’s a warm blanket waiting for them.

Since I didn’t get enough of all that, I headed to Killer’s for a workout, where my training buddy and I both had just enough energy to spit and not much else.  It was ugly, but we got it done and then I headed to Lucia’s for a session.

The producers of Biofreeze have asked me to extend their sincere thanks to Killer and Lucia.  I shall now liberally apply a third layer of Biofeeze and limp off to the couch for a much-needed nap.  I leave you with the picture of my friend’s shoes which will probably be much less jolly when they find out that despite her neatly (OCD) lining them up as though waiting for another run they’re all actually going to the donation bucket.  Always be sure your shoes are happy, no matter where they’re going.

shoes

It’s a Beautiful Day

It’s a beautiful day, indeed.  This morning I watched the houses across the cove glowing slightly golden in the sunrise as the sky grew bluer, the lake truly smooth as glass although it sounds trite; my soul as smooth and calm as the lake’s surface.

This is the day I’ve struggled toward these past few months, a morning when Brain has decided to quit stomping on the ICK button it’s been stuck on for so long, a day for silent contemplation of the sound of the birds as they flit back and forth, for looking closely at the soft fuzzy buds on the dogwood, for soft, slow, deep, calm breaths.

In the dark night I felt Chunker curled up in the curve of my neck and shoulder, something she did always as a kitten but then stopped.  I don’t know why, perhaps to roam, as she grew into a cat and became more nocturnal.  I reached my hand to her fur, so incredibly soft, the softest cat I’ve ever had.  She stretched her paw to my hand and purred and I drifted calmly to sleep.

It’s easiest, of course, when I can keep it simple but, like most, I seldom do.  Or can.  But I can continue to strive.

Sometimes as I struggled to find a solution to this pain I wondered – more frequently than sometimes, actually – often I worried that I was simply a wimp, that others hurt just as much but don’t show it, they are stronger somehow, they feel pain but don’t succumb as I did.

Perhaps that’s part of my peace this morning.  I’m going to try running ten (very easy, slow) miles with Becky this morning.  I think I can do this.  As I was setting out my bottle, charging my Garmin, and eating my breakfast my mind lingered only on the thought of taking it slow and getting it done, and I realized I had not thought once of how much it would hurt.

It’s a beautiful day
The sun is shining
I feel good
And no-one’s gonna stop me now, oh yeah

It’s a beautiful day
I fell good, I fell right
And no-one, no-one’s gonna stop me now
Mama

Sometimes I feel so sad, so sad, so bad
But no-one’s gonna stop me now, no-one
It’s hopeless – so hopeless to even try.

Mindfulness

The human mind fascinates me.  Who’s in charge?
Do my thoughts control me?
Do I control my thoughts?
Do I generate those thoughts?
Or are my thoughts knee-jerk reaction to external or internal experience?
Are we truly centered in our life, our bodies, our thoughts, our perceived world?

Perhaps not as much as we think.

I was shaken yesterday to realize I do not even perceive the true center of my physical body.  I’m currently near the end of a series of Rolfing sessions, a fascinating journey in which Lucia is attempting to reverse decades of weaknesses and compensation.  It was not a surprise to learn she was an art major in college as she re-sculpts my body, an artist in the physical world, an artist of healing and health.

At the end of yesterday’s session I stood as she visibly measured my form and alignment.  “Put your feet together and close your eyes.”

I did, feeling my body waver side-to-side slightly, trying to find balance.  I assumed it was the ongoing issue of the left-side weakness.

“Open your eyes.  Did you feel that?”

“Yes, I’m still not balanced.”

“Your mind perceives the center of your body to be slightly to the right of center.”

My frame is bent and I’m pulling to the right, which explains the excessive wear on the right front tire.  Only it’s not the frame that’s bent, it’s the engine.

As I sit struggling to put this into words that make sense I gaze out the window.  My desk and monitor are centered on the desk directly in front of the center frame of the window.  I have just realized that every time I look out the window, I look out the right window.  So, ruminating, hoping for words to fall into the proper slot, I shift my gaze to the left window and am immediately physically uncomfortable.  Even as I watch trees swaying slightly, birds flitting, I want to look away to the right although there is nothing any different on that side of the yard.

It’s entirely possible the right side of my body has been compensating for the past 25 years for that ankle injury.  Lucia thinks it’s likely, and it makes sense to me.  Six month pregnant with twins, my body was trying to figure so much stuff out every day that I’m sure it was taking the easiest route.  A year later when I resumed running my left foot and ankle did hurt when I ran; certainly my body could have shifted a bit of the weight and effort to the un-injured right side and this could have become a 25-year habit.

We have other 25-year habits, do we not?  A lifetime since high school still slightly stung by the rejection of the popular kid, the other guy getting starting quarterback, overweight or acne-faced, shy?  Decades of remembering a stinging review by the boss?  And ZING that sucker flies through your brain he said – I didn’t – they should have – and you are right back there as real as this moment.

I went to a Centering Prayer retreat once.  All I brought home was a huge sense of frustration.  I’ve thought about that.  I would describe myself as deeply spiritual  although I no longer go to church for far too many reasons than I care to explore here.  I’m still climbing those steep cliff sides with a hit-or-miss trail to follow, clinging to the mountain trying to work forward, upward, and I have not come to many places to rest and look back, yet.

You have to wait.  You can’t bring those restful places to yourself, you must sit in your spiritual waiting room staring at the same irritating picture of your dorky school kid self, the out-dated magazines of memories; sitting, waiting for an appointment that you do have but the date and time are in a foreign language.  The world is full of waiting rooms if we will take advantage of them and open our eyes to the scene:  a lonely run, time in silence or meditation, the carpool line, anywhere.  You must move forward through each day and try to practice mindfulness, try to center in the moment and not the moment of last night or lunch with your friend today.

Am I being the best I can be in this moment?  Can I let go of everything else?

I say this.  I say to do this.  And I do it.  About once a month for 13 seconds.

Again we return to running.  This is why running is so important to me.  When I run alone I am out of all the other locations of living.  I’m out of my house/office, I’m out of my car, the grocery, I’m out.  Just me and feet and moving.  I try to look at the trees, at the pavement, at the sky, to suck in life.  I am frequently desperate to do this, to get outside of this horrid brain that creates a life that is not real, that drives me despite myself, creating Grand-Canyon-deep habits, and all the while I think I’m in charge.

This popped up in my life a few weeks ago and I’ve held onto it, considering it.  At this point in time, for me, this is the best explanation of God that I have found.  Please see the entire post for the full concept.

“What may be a little more difficult to distinguish is that the energy that forms the cells of your body, and the energy that causes that body to be alive, and the energy that is sparking around inside your head attempting to make the distinction, are all the same.  Nothing exists in the universe, either in reality or in our perceptions of it, other than energy.  If you were to take all this energy and try to imagine it in its entirety, the result would be God… By thinking that “god” is primarily concerned with ourselves, we establish in our minds a convenient level of importance that in reality does nothing more than skew our perceptions of everything else.  Does this mean we are not important? Does this mean we are not creations of God (from an evolutionary standpoint)?  No it does not.  It means that the magnitude of what our dogmatic religions have been trying to tell us is much more profound than we ever imagined: God is not the Creator of all things, GOD IS ALL THINGS.”

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