Charity

Moving On

It has been a month since I heard the news. It’s been a month of doing absolutely nothing. By choice. But, But. but! Isn’t that what they say? The choice to do nothing is still doing something? I chose to ignore.

In truth I ran in purple this weekend with you in mind. Doesn’t that contradict everything I said I feel? Nothing I said I would do? A prince’s power to make me think of you. A Purple Reign. The night before I got the word. You are still a heartbeat; alive and kicking they say. You just don’t have as much to say. Duly noted. I won’t say it either.
But, let me back up and just say “But, I ran.” I know I will sound like someone else when I offer up excuses, but they are all true. I wasn’t feeling well before the Purple Run. I was tempted to turn a ten into a five and call it good. No. I could only tell myself came here to run. Not make my excuses. The temptation was fleeting and gone before I could really chew on it. Instead I threw up.

This was a good run, all things considered. A solid sub ten minute mile the entire way. Through crowds of meandering families strolling with their strollers and dogs I managed to break an hour. Boston in my ear, telling me he’s going to buy me a beer…right after a run to the Dunk. It’s only an app but it had me giggling. I like my Boston.

I have moved on from this. I’m setting my sights on a half. My first since September. I have moved on.

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Where Was I?

Blame it on the heat. Blame it on life. Blame it on the nonexistent rain for all I care. All I know is that this half mara training has derailed in more ways than I can count. To be fair, I haven’t entirely jumped the tracks. It’s not like I have skipped major runs or skimped on the maintenance runs. Nothing like that. Even in this heat I have managed to put in respectable time moving the feet. The truth is this: it’s more like I am lost. I don’t know what week of training this is supposed to be. I haven’t used the training calendar or journal in weeks. I can’t remember the last time I put in an honest hour long yoga or strength training session and, And. And! The diet? We won’t talk about that.

I wanted the September half mara to be special. I’m running for Make-A-Wish after all. On a personal level I wanted to be able to say in all honesty I did everything I could to prepare. Blah, blah, blah. I’m a skipping record. But, it’s true. Each day I literally look at my datebook, make a mental note of the mileage I am supposed to complete and then after a full day of work find a way to get it done. And I do get it done and then some. If I’m with New Guinea I always round up. Last night’s seven miles turned out to be 7.4 because I put in 75 minutes. With the heat I had no idea if I would run an eleven minute mile or what. I wasn’t worried about being exact.

Maybe that’s it. Worry. I skipped a monthly for two months and worried that my precarious health issues have finally lost their balance and tipped over. Still I ran. I continue to run and I guess, in the grand scheme of things, that’s all that matters.
But. But! But, in the interest of a clean slate on Monday I will renew my efforts to have a more complete training schedule. To hold myself accountable, here is August 1 – 7th:

  • Monday – 7 miles/recovery yoga (Rebecca)
  • Tuesday – Core yoga/core with Nicky
  • Wednesday – 8 miles/recovery yoga (Matt)
  • Thursday – Balance yoga/core with Nicky
  • Friday – 2 miles/refresh yoga (Christene)
  • Saturday – 9 miles/recovery yoga (Rebecca)
  • Sunday – Restoration yoga (Matt)

Total miles: 26. Note to self: you are seeing Pearl Jam at Fenway two different nights. That’s no excuse to skip a run or attack the Giffords ice cream man. [Although! Have you tried their blueberry pancake? To die for. All it needs is bacon. Without a doubt.]
 

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Land of the Lumbering

Someone just informed me that George W. Bush ran seven minute miles during his Presidency. I have two comments. One: Random! and two, good for him. I mean that with all sincerity. I will never be about the seven minute mile. I will never be about even the nine minute mile. I am happy to be in the land of lumbering because, and this is very important, I can lumber far if I’m not fast. Far is far more important that fast.
Yes, it is true I have been talking about sub ten minute miles when it comes to 5ks but that’s only because I am running for charities and it’s not about me. Those runs don’t help me at all. Not in the least. I don’t get time to think. I barely have time to work up an appetite for a beer or a burger. I want the hunger after a good run.
So, having said all that – I have one more charity run this month – the Worcester Six; a 6k in memory of the six firefighters who lost their lives in that awful warehouse fire. After that, I have a week off and then, then! I begin training for a fall 13.1 (Saturday, September 10th). I am trying a completely different training plan. One that incorporates a better diet into the mix. Do I need to worry about what I eat? Being 112lbs on a bad day, no not really. I guess I’m playing mad scientist and seeing if it all really matters.
Last but not least, a burning question. My adopted home town is hosting a half mara six weeks after my Maple half in Manchester, Vermont. Should I do it? I don’t know why I’m on the fence. What’s not to love about an October 13.1? Should I?

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Four Minute Rule

I have exactly four minutes to say something, anything about the Memorial 5k I ran last weekend. In a word, quick. In two words, flat and fun.
This was part of a two-day festival, craft fair, parade, you name it, complete with a cannon blast signaling the start of a civil war reenactment. The run kicked off the whole affair at, wait for it, where else but the library. And talk about informal! No start line to speak of. No timer within sight. I joked about my bib number being the area code for Maine and no one got it (Hello? 207? Never mind). As I looked around I saw a bunch of fancy people with Garmin gear all warming up and feeling for pulses. Probably, I’d say, 70 people running. Total. All of them wealthy as fukc. I mean, who runs in diamonds? Who sweats with pearls? All in head to toe matching outfits. I knew my place immediately. Back of the lulumon pack. Seriously.
I ran a good run. 28 minutes flat according to MMR. I would have broken 28 except I stopped to help a girl who had fallen flat on her face right in front of me. She tripped over a pebble somewhere in the road and planted. Hard. I couldn’t just run by her. Could I? That would have been rude. Right?
After the run the church hosted a pretty decent pancake breakfast. Me, myself and moi, we like to eat, so you know what we were doing. 😉
So. That was the 5k. The end.

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The Wait

Summer is just inches outside my door. I can feel it in the way the dill is starting to spread and the chocolate mint is starting to creep. I have been waiting for warmer weather to plant Thai basil, bury cilantro seeds and try my hand at spicy peppers. My garden needs me!
Summer will be transitional from every angle. The words “wait and see” will play on my lips in every area of my life. Work: wait until you see the new offices, new technology, new furniture, new bathrooms, new everything…Home: wait until you walk on the new patio, see the new garden, roast marshies in the new fire pit, sit on the new deck, soak in the new hot tub…
In the meantime there is the ever constant run that has it’s own wait and see. June 20th will mark the official beginning of training for the next half mara on September 10th. This time I am going for time. My first time ever wanting to beat a better time. I’m going for an even two on a course I’ve never seen. Until then, two charity events: Tim Paige Memorial 5k tomorrow (“I’m just here for the pancakes”) and the Worcester Six 6k in three weeks (“I;m just here for the beer”).
A whole lotta wait.

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Redemption Run

Because you asked.

It all started with the desire to do something charitable. That’s how the passion for running came about. Really and truly. I “trained” for a half marathon under the guidance of an emailing coach and an invisible team. In other words, alone. I had no idea what I was doing. Eight weeks before the big event I inevitably injured myself and went straight into PT panic mode. What didn’t help was that I had a therapist who didn’t like running (or runners, for that matter). He was begrudgingly resigned to the fact I was determined to run the event. He was right. I simply wasn’t going to sit on the sidelines. Too many people had donated to the cause for me to just quit. Besides, I had become addicted to the run.
The big day in Alton dawned with a steady cold rain that was torrential at times and never let up for 13.1 miles. With a knee on fire and a head down I ran/walked the course, gritting my teeth the entire way. The only bright moment was when my family drove by; my sister hanging out the back window screaming and waving her arms wildly. I laughed for 10 seconds. That was 2006.
2016. Ten years later. My running journey has had peeks and valleys but I have never lost the memory of Alton. That run has chased my miles and nipped at my pride for ten years now. For me, Alton 2006 was a complete and utter disaster. I haven’t been ashamed of the pain or the tears. Looking back, it was the walking I can’t suffer (that and the ridiculous fact that I couldn’t pull my pants up in the porta potty; my hands were cold claws).
May 7th, 2016. Rain in the forecast. That was the only similarity between 2006 and 2016. Rain again. Everything else was different. How different? I compiled a list:

  1. Kisa got a hotel room ON the course. I could have popped into our ground-floor room for a GU. The water station was right outside room #12. Seriously, had he been braver, Kisa could have handed me a cup. Nothing would have shocked me more. He high-fived me instead.
  2. I ran with music (loved having the Dragons with me)
  3. I ran with a GPS tracker (loved having someone tell me pace)
  4. I powered up every hill
  5. I didn’t stop at the bathroom
  6. I ran without pain
  7. The rain held off
  8. TNT wasn’t there so no riddle signs 😦
  9. I remember every single moment
  10. I loved every single moment.

Why is it in every photo I look like I’m standing still? I will never be a cool runner.

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Iron in the Fire

As I creep towards the middle of week two of the Stronger Challenge I am noticing small changes. Some good: Monday’s “Fire” challenge was more fun because I was able to keep up and push myself even harder and Tueday’s “Iron” was a success because I didn’t quit on the pushups this time around. My arms hurt, but in a good way. Some bad: last night’s run was a little wonky. 3.16 miles in 33 minutes. Slow! And my ribs hurt and not in a good way.

Once again, I am slacking on the yoga. The reason? I run out of time. If I’m not joining Nicky on the floor or running on the treadmill I’m spinning in my head. Confessional: I am being tormented by crazy guilt. Without going into too much detail – I have this friend who is a raging alcoholic…and I mean RAGING. We have had a very distant, as really not close, relationship. In the past we never even so much as spoke on the phone, exchanged a Christmas card or knew each other’s birthday. Bordering on acquaintance more than friend, I would say. When she texted the words “help me. can we talk?” a week after Christmas I opened the door and we talked for two hours. I haven’t been able to close that door since. It’s nonstop. The cries for help. Trigger=panic words like Goodbye. I care about nothing. I’m fading fast. On and on it goes. All hours of the night. Last night I shut my phone down for fear that I would never stop responding to the wolf cries. Exactly when does it stop? Does it stop when I turn a cold heart into a frozen solid shut heart? Does it end when she suddenly kills someone on one of her bleary, one-eyed, drives to the liquor store? Or does it end when she finally makes good on her promise to hang from the rafters? Of course not. The question then becomes How far-reaching will be my guilt? Can I will myself to go blind with indifference? Will I really breathe a sigh of relief when it ends, no matter how?
The truth of the matter is thus: The iron is in the fire. It’s burning. It’s only a matter of time before I am branded as the girl who can’t (won’t?) help.

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Rear View Mirror

A look back at 2015:

  • January – a return to a favorite and very romantic B&B tucked away in northern Vermont & a return to the run (36.1 miles)
  • February – took part in a very difficult intervention & ran 72.4 miles.
  • March – lost an aunt, PR’ed St. Pats (it rained), revisited Jersey, & ran 75.5 miles
  • April – certified active shooter trained, made the decision to end Just ‘Cause & ran 79.7 miles
  • May – visited Toronto for the first time, ran a half mara, & walked my final time for Just ‘Cause (it rained)
  • June – ran a 6k in honor of fallen firefighters & made the decision to train for a full mara (ran 23.1)
  • July – visited Chicago for the first time & ran a 5k for the homeless (July total 37.9 miles)
  • August – visited Glens Falls, NY for the first time, experienced Magnaball Madness & ran 70.2 miles
  • September – made the decision to write a cookbook, ran a 5k for an AIDs foundation, made a new running friend & ran 95.4 miles
  • October – Peaks & Monhegan, lost a high school friend, ran 92.4 miles
  • November – visited Vegas, ran a mara for my cousin (it rained) & lost a friend.
  • December – got crazy sick, lost a friend, slowly returned to the run (ran ? miles – 7.3 so far).

For the year:

  1. Read 118 books
  2. Lost 4 loved ones
  3. Ran 625.5* miles (only 5 charity races) *not counting Dec
  4. Saw 17 concerts
  5. Reviewed 11 books for LibraryThing

Looking back on all this, there is heartache hidden among the numbers. There were eudemonic moments in there for sure, but every run’s initial intent was to work out a worry. A lot on my mind in 2015!

Looking ahead. I want:

  • For the run:
    • To run St. Pat’s faster (it’s become a tradition to PR this #$% race!)
    • To redeem myself for Alton Bay
    • To rerun Worcester 6 even better
    • To run WMAF for the third time
  • For the books:
    • Read & review 120 books for the year
    • Start writing the cookbook
  • For family:
    • Spend more time!
    • Find the balance between irenic and antagonistic
  • Miscellaneous:
    • Finish the blanket I have been knitting for the past 11 years
    • Conquer the challenging arm balance poses I abhor.

The end.

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Over & Out

Yesterday ended my 7th year with Just ‘Cause. I swear you could split me down the middle and let my halves walk around of two complete minds. Explaining why this would be my last year sounded so shallow and stupid, especially when the listener is battling cancer at this very minute or has just buried their mother just ten days before. I sounded weak and pathetic, even to my own ears and I had practiced my spiel for weeks. I thought I had it cold.
As the miles wore on that first day and the listeners grew I found myself wondering if I could stay connected in small ways. I wanted in. I was going back on me & myself and my resolve to quit. Moi wanted another year. It’s the same every year. The high of being loved, being supported, being called “sister” for three days; this surrounding of care connects me in a way that doesn’t happen in my other life.
On the second day I walked with a runner. A real Boston-qualifying marathoner. It was an honor to talk running with her. Her conversation sustained me, how-so I can’t really explain. She was selfless and gracious. Never once did she initiate a conversation with her own accomplishments. She talked running as if it were a religion and anything about herself was between the dots. It was up to me to connect them. To learn she had done Boston (and never realize she when she was actually on Heartbreak Hill) I had to ask. To discover she had qualified for Boston after her very first marathon I had to probe. “I” was not in her vocabulary unless I urged her to tell me more. I admired her lack of ego. I called her Hero. At the after-party she assured me if I ever wanted to run Boston, she could get me in. No charity case, no qualifying. I am still agog.
On the third day I walked with my dear heart, the Historian. We always walk after breakfast and I am breaking a seven year tradition by not coming back to her. I’m arguing with emotions just thinking about letting her go.

The Bookworm & I ended the last eight of sixty miles with torrential downpours. Soaked to the bone but satiated with love we joined hands and hearts. As thunder rolled across the sky we powered through. We had been told the group would not walk in thunder, so to “be prepared” to be swept. The idea of finishing my last year in a car, my final miles powered by wheels under me instead of my own two legs, was too much to bear. The Bookworm and I surged forward faster. In the end, we were not swept. I finished my 420th mile on my terms.

I will be forever grateful for the beautiful women of Just ‘Cause. Whether I walked with her or not, each and every woman showed me an inner beauty than cannot compare. From the woman allergic to soy, apples, watermelon, strawberries, red onion, oranges, and peanut butter to the woman battling her 5th cancer. Herculean efforts by heavenly graces. Angels on earth.

As for me, I am over and out. For now.

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End of an Era

I had my last training walk with the Avett Girl a Sunday ago. Like a mantra in my head I kept telling myself to make the most of this walk and talk and walk with her – this last time. After this day I knew in my heart of hearts nothing would ever be the same.

Out of everyone I wanted needed to tell, I suspected Avett Girl would be my hardest audience to face. Side by side we strode through streets while I prefaced my bad news with every ugly detail of the past nine months. I was working my way backwards to the logical conclusion, “so” [deep breath] “this will be my last year.” She understood…yet. Yet, we walked in silence.

I knew this saying goodbye was going to be hard. I knew it the moment I gave it up. It’s like a divorce. I’m confident I’m doing the right thing and yet, it’s painful. This is a charity that has meant the world to me, but it’s time to go. I just want to slip quietly out the back door and go unnoticed.

Last night I worked on my Saturday shirt, added three new names in the flowers. This cancer crap won’t quit although I will. How odd is that? This morning I sent off my last collection of donations. I missed the deadline by ten days. Someone just this morning texted me with “But, I promised!” I had to laugh. If everyone who promised actually came through with their good intentions I would be fund raiser extraordinaire. There would be bouquets of orchids laid at my feet; they would raise me on their shoulders; toasting my very existence with champagne glasses held high. No such luck. No matter.

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