Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thank you

I mean, nobody has a smile or laugh like her. I miss it. Last year I powered through the're so're handling this so well...your mom is proud...she is with you.
Sometimes those sentiments are comforting. Sometimes they make me feel like a fraud.
Really? Is waking up & wanting to pawn your children off to just about anyone so you can have an epic break down in peace handling this so well?
I know it's normal, I know grief comes & goes...ebbs & flows blah blah blah.
But, sometimes, she's really truly the only one I want to commiserate with. Banter with. Listen to.
This is what I conjure in my head when I get stuck in the grim details of watching my mom die.
I mean, that was just one day that ended her life time of many, many days like this:
While I sometimes fall into the tenuous, messy loop of that ugly day back in June 2014, I have countless...countless...memories & images that I can tap into.
Countless people who have been touched by her kindness, her generous spirit, her goofy wit, her blunt wisdom.
Thank god for her.

And that, I think, is my Thanksgiving sentiment that I want to share with you;
There's a tricky side of the holidays that leaves some (many?) of us heavy with loss and longing.
Most of us have something funny or outrageous or meaningful or touching to look back on, so I guess...
Sit with the tricky part; settle into it.
Just don't sink all the way down.
Be present, enjoy your loved ones, nourish your friendships, strengthen the ties that may have frayed over the year...let that pick you up and hold you up. 
Let them.
Happy Thanksgiving...

Monday, November 23, 2015


Yesterday I ran my second half-marathon.
Beat my time by 8 minutes.
How did that happen?
The course was harder, there were tons more people, and I started out feeling nervous & unsure.

So, why? How? Eight minutes is pretty significant (considering my first half was just three weeks prior).
I'll tell you what happened.
I ran with two girls/teammates/friends (I think after you complete an event like that, literally alongside somebody, you move up from teammate to friend level...right?).
They pushed me every step of the way (or, I suppose pulled, as I was mainly the caboose of our little gang). 
I didn't look at my garmin once; I've run shorter distances with these particular two women & without much thought, I gave myself over to the process.
I trusted the process; the pace, as it were.
The last half mile was left leg cramped badly.
If it weren't for my compatriots, I'm fairly certain I would've walked/limped to the finish line.
I ran.
What a day.
I hadn't planned on doing another half any time soon, but a bib became available & next thing you know...
Lining up again.
(You know how it goes)

Today I am sore and tired.
Maybe a tad impatient with my kids.
Recovery is vastly different at age 40 than a decade ago when I first delved into athletic pursuits.
I need to work on that part. I can't very well keep this up if the trade off is being a tired bitch to my family the next day.
What else?
A little more about the group I've been running with. 
They're part of a team/foundation/greater good; they (we) raise money and awareness for cancer, focusing mainly on our local communities. Supporting families affected by cancer, supporting fighters & cancer warriors.
It's one of the most hospitable & welcoming teams I've ever had the privilege to be a part of.

You know me & the whole group thing by now.
It's painful.
I'm awkward & shy.
Slow to warm up.
It takes me a while to not be the quiet one.
Even when I "fit in", even when I'm genuinely included, I still feel kinda like the oddball.
The thing I'm beginning to realize is that most of us feel that way in group situations; we're all goofy and weird and have our quirks.
When there's a greater good, a solid cause, and such a welcoming support system in place, it's hard to feel like an outcast.
And there's a lot to be said for solidarity.

I woke up at 3:30am yesterday to drive to a sketchy empty lot & get into a car full of (basically) strangers. 
Several of whom I've never seen in daylight (we always run before the sun comes up).
I gratefully accepted a baggie filled with three coffee cookies baked in a kitchen I've never seen (I'm weirdly weary about eating baked goods from strangers).
{Says the family *brownie* baker}
The cookies, by the way, were amazing.

These little things are actually pretty sizable hurdles for me.
In fact, it might be harder for me to hand over control of my Sunday to a bunch of people I've only just begun to get acquainted with over the past month than run the race itself.
Yeah, that part is definitely harder than the physical feat.
Running is the easy part.
I'm getting better at the other stuff.
So much better.
Now I can focus on conveying it better in words here.
Maybe more often.
Or not.
Maybe I'll just keep running & awkwardly blog about it again & again.

Friday, November 13, 2015


Run a half-marathon...yes.
I really don't have the words to describe the experience eloquently.
I mean, it was a 13 (point one) mile run.
Me, my sneaks, a carefully crafted play list, and swarms of runners. Like more runners than I've ever seen in one place.
The first few miles were positively gleeful...whooooo hooooo I'm doin this I'm crushin it woot woot look at me go...
Looping around city hall, I was seriously beaming.
I don't typically beam.
By the time I hit Boat House Row, I started faking it a little...this IS awesome. I AM smiling. My Legs ARE comfortable.
Passing the ten mile mark, I began to feel the mental strain a little (ten miles had been my longest run up til the half marathon, and only once several weeks prior).
I wondered if Bill was at the finish line (or near it) and started to pick up my pace ever. so. slightly.
The garmin tells the tale; while I surely had some sloooooow miles, I never walked and never felt any pain or brutal exhaustion.
I took it mile by mile and smiled when I needed to push myself a little.
I channeled all my mentors, my friends, my parents, my brother, my husband...
10 seconds...just ten seconds, give it your all...(which would give way to ten more and ten more after that, and so on)...
when I crossed the finish line (uphill finish, not a fan after running thirteen miles), I funneled through the chute with the hoards of runners.
A little beleaguered, a little dumbfounded, a little dazed, a little (naturally) high.
Finally, I spotted my husband and everything else kinda froze & blurred around him.
I found my way into his arms and fell in love with him like a million times more as he hugged me tight (shut up, this is the mushy part...I am terribly romantic).
Honestly, the run/race was pretty great...but, that moment made the whole experience complete. Finding Bill amid all the chaos, feeling kinda shattered, was it.
I wasn't expecting to feel that way, but there it was.

Will I do another half again?
Is it going to be my thing?
Do I want to try a marathon?
Not really. No.
What about riding?
It will always be there. Not planning on parting with any of my bikes.

I can do that.
Now I know.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Getting it...

I'm deeeeeeeestroyed.
Last week, I found a local running group to latch on to for some early morning miles.
I'm just weeks away from the half-marathon and my confidence is building.
Or so I'm telling myself.
I've kinda insulated myself within this little bubble; I've created a routine and I've stuck to my plan. Running regularly with structure is helping me deal with the shorter days (perhaps more effectively than meds, but that might be stretch & not something I'm going to mess around with right now).
My goal is simple & I'm going for it:
Stay healthy, injury-free, and complete the 13.1 miles.
I'm learning how to pace myself, I'm figuring out when and what (and what NOT to eat) before and after I run.
I've drawn some parallels between the way I approach running & riding, while respecting the fact that I have plenty more to learn & tweak.
After the half, I don't foresee many  4:30am wake-ups to run in the dark 3 or 4 times a week. Though I revel in the quiet and stillness of the streets and love an energetic start to the day, I can see burning out in a hurry if I try to keep that up.
I miss reading into the late hours and waking up in daylight.
I do foresee running for fun in the woods again and getting back on my bike.
Not yet.
Just a few more weeks until I get to test my mettle and see if I am indeed getting it.

Last Saturday, I set out for a flat 8 miles.
Alone and with a carefully crafted playlist (the first time I had used music during a run), I paid attention to all the subtle little clues & cues my feet/legs/hips/gut/mind were sending me; at mile 4, I continued on and turned around at 5.

Ten miles is my longest distance yet and it felt awesome to wrap it up feeling strong, like I had a little more left in the tank.
Hopefully like three more miles.

So, that's what I've been doing.
And that's pretty much all I've been doing (along with a smattering of tea parties with toddlers, lots of Star Wars chatter with Max, trying not to be as broke, being mindful of my health, decorating for Halloween, tracking down BP between his trail building/cross-racing/spending time with his lovely lady, going to therapy, making really good soup, and...winding down/catching up with my beloved husband).

Almost there.
Feeling the early wake ups, feeling the miles and miles...but, almost there!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

If I've learned anything...

When my body says, "Put wool socks on, take some NyQuil, get under the blankets, go to sleep," I should listen.
I do listen.
Even if it's in the middle of the day.
Even when I'm like, "But, I was just sick. I'm better."
Doesn't matter.
Especially if my child is napping, my husband is out for a long ride, and Max is at his dad's.
I'm getting better at this, I swear.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What a day...

Today I...
Held my neighbor's puppy in my arms as she whimpered and moaned, having just been hit by a car.
I can't get the moaning sound out of my head.
Or the puppy's soulful eyes.
I think she sensed I wasn't her "person", but was in such pain/shock, it didn't matter ..almost as if she was grateful to be gently scooped off the street, wrapped in the nearest towel I could find.
They've only had her for three weeks.
When we carefully placed her in my neighbor's car, I assured her, "it's not that bad...she's alert, I think her hind leg is broken...she'll be okay, just GO."
I knew, though, that it was pretty bad (confirmed not thirty minutes later when my neighbor returned from the emergency vet without her puppy, tearful).
The puppy didn't make it.
It was 3pm, so the kids weren't home from school yet (thank god) heart broke when I saw her three boys amble up the street after the bus dropped then off.
So it's nearly 13 hours later and I just can't stop thinking about the dog and those poor kids.
The person who hit the dog wasn't from our neighborhood...I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but when I heard the terrible sound out front, I knew it was something bad.

Today is...
My mom's birthday.
I don't particularly want to make or eat cake or "celebrate" or enjoy all her favorite things...honestly, I don't want to go to her "spot." I've been there a lot lately. She's been in my dreams almost every night.
Ordinary every day things & conversations in my dreams, which leaves me feeling like "oh, I should call my mom..." But, then, duh...reality.
Sometimes I'll just dial her cell number so I don't forget it.
All this to say, I miss her tremendously right now and I need her lately; thus, not feeling the celebration vibe.
More like a distract-me-please-vibe.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


So, I ran this morning for the first time in 13 days...just 20 easy minutes in the woods; enough time to scare a baby snake (everyone knows I love critter spotting!) & appreciate the perfect weather. I stopped at the bench near the lot to stretch a little. I always think of my mom every time I pass that bench because its where a very kind woman left my mom's lost car keys during the NorBeaster of 2010. While snowshoeing at Harmony Hill (just me & Mare), my mom lost her keys and we didn't realize til we had made it back to the car. We had covered A LOT of ground, as my mom was quite the snowshoe enthusiast (it's how she coped with her disdain for winter). So, there we were frantically retracing our steps (in knee deep snow), making our way BACK to the woods when a lone cross country skier (perhaps sensing our demise) approached us on the trail & said, "if you happen to be looking for a set of keys, I placed them on the bench near the lot." We profusely thanked her and my mom called her our guardian angel...
I see that woman almost every time I'm at harmony hill. She favors the paved path, but I often pass her on bike or foot on my way to the woods. I remember her so clearly not only because she saved us from our "situation", but also because in a weird way she sorta resembles my grandmom Erma (if Erma had been the outdoorsy type), she's got to be at least 75-80 years old.
Anyway, as I'm stretching at that bench today, Mare's "guardian angel" is walking to her car, parked next to mine. I introduce myself & say, "may I ask your name?"
She's Pat.
Now I know her name & now I can give her a proper greeting when we pass each other on the path.
She remembers the key incident. She told me she walks EVERY day (and xc skies in the winter). Last year, she felt funny while taking her walk there and turns out she had a triple coronary.
She looks healthy & agreed we are so fortunate to have such a beautiful place near us to enjoy nature. She called Harmony Hill a "friendly trail."
As we parted ways, she said, "I'll say a little prayer for your mom."
Sweetest little exchange I've had in a long time & it made my day.