Dew Point 76

 

Photo Courtesy of: dailyburn.com

Running is a road to self-awareness and reliance-you can push yourself to extremes and learn the harsh reality of your physical and mental limitations or coast quietly down a solitary path watching the earth spin beneath your feet

.Doris Brown Heritage

Early Saturday morning, my husband returned from a short run and said “Take it slow and walk before you have to.”  I packed my gummies in my back shorts pocket, took the icy water bottle from the freezer and made may way out for an 11 mile run. The air was thick and the trail was still.   The usual weekend warriors were out-none exhibiting their usual speed of feet nor swiftness of wheels. It was not hard to hold back. I let my mind wander as I dodged other walkers or runners. We  whispered “Good morning” to one another or simply smiled, nodding ‘hello’. This was work. At the 4 and 1/2 mile mark, I stopped, following my husband’s advice. My legs were just this side of tired. Heat has a way of making all parts of your body feel heavier. Even your breathing. Each intake feels as if I’m rowing, pulling through water. I resumed running, passing by a homeless man soundly sleeping on a park bench.  Rounding the bend, through the underpass, I noticed the newest street art- gorgeous murals covering the extra wide posts in brilliant reds and yellows. I was nearing the turn around point. A small part of me wanted to push myself further but I knew the long slog back would be a challenge to say the least.

I don’t recall how many more times I stopped to walk. I remember developing a strategy, however. Run up all overpasses and run all away across the long bayou. I made the overpasses but stopped short on the bayou, in need of gummies and the last of my water. The campground on the east side of the trail allowed me to replenish my water bottle before heading further north.  I made myself move-not propel-just lift my legs through Blossom Lake Park and towards another overpass.

The shade provided zero relief.  The breeze was non-existent. At this point, all I could do was talk myself into running from one point to another. The split in the trail. The telephone pole. The couple walking side by side.

I noticed my shoes were soaked and my shorts and shirt clung to me like a wet bathing suit. Everything was dripping from my body. Beads of sweat were flying into the air. I was out of water again. The last leg of this soggy session was upon me, though.  A walk through the park behind my house and then a short jaunt down my street brought me to my doorstep.

My body has had a tough time adjusting to this climate. So training for our upcoming half-marathon in July has been awful. Actually, I told my husband on Thursday night (after completely our weekly bridge repeats and, again needing to walk), that this will go down as the suckiest preparation of my running life.

Lucky for me, my husband is quite positive and consistently encouraging despite my complaining and near apathy about this whole process. He reminds me that I’m still out there doing it. And my father says all this heat will only help when we get up to the mountains of Vermont. I hope so!

It’s easy to make excuses NOT to do something or even to set goals. But I know the reward is coming. The journey continues.

 

 

 

Freedom of Movement

                                          Image: www.suggestkeyword.com

In my long running career, I have often been asked why I run. Or, are you training for something? ? Do you have goals? The answers have varied depending upon my age. In my teens, I was competitive. Therefore, I was ALWAYS training for races. In my twenties, I was either rebellious (refusing to run) or so injured it was impossible at times to even walk. In my thirties, I ran to get back in shape after my second son was born. In my forties, I was running to stay sane, struggling to function in a disintegrating marriage and an ugly divorce. I reached fifty. Free and forging new paths in my life and setting new goals that included competition once again, though never nearly matching the intensity of my teen years.

When I lived in New England, much of  my running took place in the early hours of the day, often in that space when it seemed darkest, minutes before sunrise. I would rarely see a fellow harrier. I didn’t mind and I always felt and was safe. These days, my route is different. We live on a  city park that abuts a bike and running trail.

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But sometimes I take the short drive to the beach and run with just the sound of the Gulf surf and forgiving sand.

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I run as early as I am able to safely do so. No dark starts here for a lone female. However, there are benefits to these delays. I see many more runners, walkers and cyclists. And the more I’m out on the trail, the more regulars I see. For a small town New England chick, it brings a sense of comfort as I continue to adjust to a more densely populated area.

And there’s a terrific variety of fleet footers out there as well. All doing their part to stay in shape, work on their goals and maybe even achieve a little peace of mind. One of my favorite groups to observe is the FAB 50 women who run on Saturday mornings. All shapes, sizes and ages out there working really hard while clearly enjoying the camaraderie. Whenever I see them, I am always brought back to the times when the sport was closed off to women. (Heck, I remember when many sports were non-existent for women!)  I know and understand the history behind the fight to participate in and create sports for girls and women and I appreciate the battles won, even more so as I get older. If it weren’t for the efforts of those unnamed many, none of us would be enjoying the right to discover and uncover parts of ourselves that we never knew existed.

Image: 9gag.com

It would be easy for me to write a political opinion or cite the landmark court cases and laws that allow me and other females to throw on our running shoes and shorts, enter races and compete against men, each other and ourselves. Simply put, this right to participate happened as a result of long struggles and hard won legal battles that in some instances seem to have little to do with running. But every single one of them is connected to each other and the present day independence from which women and girls continue to benefit.

Running gives a woman positive bodily integrity.  The sheer act of it is an example of how women should not be controlled by restrictive laws or narrow thinking that seeks to put us in our place or shames us into choices that someone else is making for us and our lives. Running restores broken spirits. Running returns control of one’s own life to the person it matters to the most-HERSELF.

So why do I run? I run to stay EMPOWERED. My goals? To remain a FREE and SELF-DETERMINED WOMAN. And what am I training for? MY LIFE.

This post has been churning for a while. The final push came after listening to Terry Gross’s Fresh Air interview with Gloria Steinem (ww.npr.org/2015/10/31/453029648/fresh-air-weekend-gloria-steinem-the-witches-carrie-brownstein), a heroine of mine since I was a teenage girl in the 1970’s. 

March Madness

Credit: time.com

“I’m so angry about this snow,” griped my friend J, as we watched yet another round of white precipitation whirling around outside. We were having a luscious lunch at Maggie’s Farm and the spring afternoon was anything but. We are beyond tired of dealing with our record-breaking snow fall this year. Never mind the cold.

Up here, we pride ourselves on being tough and up to the task of winter’s woes. But when the guy who plows your driveway says he is sick of it, you know the limits of collective tenacity have been reached. In fact, I have been claiming that this season has literally shut down my ability to write a single blog post.  I haven’t even had the wherewithal to read the ones I follow!

The season was one of havoc and hazards. Ice dams that caused thousands of dollars worth of damage to friend’s ceilings, tires blown out by potholes, falling ice that collapsed a colleagues’ deck and ruptured a gas line just minutes after she had been out there with her dogs, cars totaled from numerous accidents caused by slippery roads…

When the weather rules your life every day, it’s hard to get out of your own way mentally. Each night I went to bed with the worry about the growing icicles along my roof line and the several feet of snow piling up on the garage and front porch roofs.  Each morning was greeted with what became a rite of layered preparation before heading out the door. I would wear the same four sets of clothing for weeks (with washing in between, of course!) because it was essential for getting where I needed to go (if I could get there). I spent a few weeks taking an alternate route  to work because the driving conditions on my normal route were too hazardous. Once, on the alternate route, someone painted “UNCLE” in blue on the snow bank at the end of their street!  Often, we would call one another from outside the house for a push up the driveway (not everyone has four-wheel drive). It takes three strong people to accomplish the task.  Running and writing were pushed aside-two important things that help to define me. We longed for our normal rituals and routines-the predictable rhythm of daily life that grounds us.

Still, we remain hopeful for the sweet smell of spring. The sounds of melting snow and chirping birds. The glimpse of color on the trees. I miss the wildlife. The ducks on the pond (too frozen for them-many have been rescued this season, very unusual), the deer at the far end of the yard, even the wild turkeys who have been known to block my running path in the morning!

April is around the bend. I dream of spring hikes, short sleeves and sauntering soliliquys.

The Road to Completion

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The moon was lightly veiled in a frosty mist, hanging low in the western sky. I turn right on the road that serves as a low ridge for a sunrise view. The day was just barely breathing, trying to add its muted glow to this dead zero day. I am encased in Gortex, winter proofed and multilayered. Surprisingly mobile and agile despite being sealed and wrapped from head to toe. It takes mere minutes for my eyelashes and bangs to create miniscule icicles, the results of my warm breath meeting the crackling cold air. I’m reminded that my nostrils have hair, as they,too, stiffen in the chill.

Getting out the door for a walk or run in this long winter requires a different kind of dedication. Smart preparation the night before, added time in the morning to layer up and a sheer determination to just do it. Forget physical ability. If your head’s not in it, go back to bed!

I would like to think that my obsession with fresh air and morning movement helps me be less fearful, allows me to grow an extra skin layer of grit and toughness, maybe even a kind of boldness, a clarity for the day ahead.

I am immersing myself in this season mostly because I know it really is my last in this climate. I’d still be out there anyway but I feel more purposeful now. Time is roaring past me; the days seem to spin into one another. They fold and unfold in ways that put me in the dual role of observer of and participant in each moment.

Would I have this same outlook if I were not departing? I cannot answer that question fully. Would you dear readers feel the same?

Maybe we all need to be right in the midst of the microseconds of our life. Maybe we need to embrace the Grace, the Holiness and the Wholeness, the Light and the Dark, the Here and the Now.

 

There is no path to happiness, happiness is the path

~ Buddha

 

A Writer’s Hibernation

Credit: silverthreading.com

The sun just rose for the day. So much of winter here is void of color and light. It is easy to simply hunker down after a day’s work. Make dinner, slip into jammies, grab a book ( I am reading a ton these days!).  Or head to the gym for strength training. Or hit my mat for a few minutes of yoga.  Or watch the first two seasons of “Nashville” with my oldest ( a Christmas present). He loves to share favorite shows with me; it’s one of the ways we bond.  As usual, I continue to run most mornings despite the sub-zero temperatures and black ice. My only chance of quiet and fresh air happens just before daylight on weekdays.

But what about the writing? I cannot claim to have writer’s block. Certainly I have ideas running through my mind. And this blog is part of my DNA.  Maybe my words are dormant. Fattened up for the cold season. Resting and growing.  Conserving creative energy.

I also know that this is my last full winter season here.  I am preparing to leave in early summer. As a result, I am grabbing onto and gravitating towards moments with those closest to me. We need to be in this time together. And I have to say I am enjoying it all even if some days are filled with the drudgery of work and keeping the household running together! I hope my kids are learning the value of sharing even the most ordinary moments of their day with their housemates.

Well, the sun is done for the day. Replaced by the usual gray. It was pretty while it lasted. Think I’ll head out for a run …

My Legs Will Never Be the Same

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I gripped my fiancé’s hand with such a fierceness that I almost felt like I was pulling his entire left arm out of its socket. We had completed a grueling half-marathon earlier that day and my feet finally gave out after imbibing and lamely tempting to rehyrdate with a thousand other souls at the post race festivities.  The tent and wine tasting tables were being broken down-a clear sign that the party was over. I had pulled off my running shoes in a desperate attempt to relieve the pain that was coursing through my lower body (despite my sincere efforts at numbing it through my many trips to the sommeliers “relief stations”!)

We were  making our way back to the car and to the sweet respite that Linda at Dreamgivers Inn in nearby Newberg, Oregon would be providing us. But it really all started back in February when my beloved had the idea to once again combine a half-marathon and our summer vacation. Being both lovers of the outdoors and good wine, Oregon seemed the perfect destination.  Fueled By Fine Wine promised to set itself apart from all other half-marathon events we had previously entered and run.

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And let me tell you, the course alone will be different from anything you may have previously experienced!   Think hills, vineyards, gravel roads, more vineyards, gopher holes, hills, hills and more hills and one last vineyard at mile 12.  Oh, did I mention the heat? An unusually warm day with a forecast of  92 degrees Farenheit. At the start, my fiancé remarked, “This makes the Mad Marathon look easy.” Surely, it looked that way since we immediately began climbing a steep hill which could have been more easily approached by crawling up it. Relief was soon found at mile one when we made a turn into our first vineyard. Hah! Not so much. Gopher holes galore and then the climb up and out and up again. At mile 2, my legs had a mind of their own as I began a running ascent of this hill:

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Our friend Eric doesn’t think the photo is accurate based on the angle of the shot ( I am standing at the bottom sir!), but I am sure you get the idea.  At this early juncture, I began to walk. My fiance’ continued his run and I gave up all romantic notions of running and finishing it together. But I was determined not to give in. Better to have a PW (personal worst) than a DNF (did not finish). So onward I chugged with others who appeared to be readjusting their racing strategy as well.  Run as much as you are able and hike the hills.  Purely survival in nature for this course. And the views are stunning! Many runners brought their cameras and were taking photos along the way. ( We waited a few days and visited the wineries that we passed on the course instead.)

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Even so, the going was rough. It was hard to separate myself from the searing pain on the outside of my thighs as I ran both up and down the roads and paths. When it became nearly impossible to move, that’s when I walked. And even though my pace was snail like I never felt that the course was endless. The miles ticked away quickly and with 5k to go, I met a lovely young woman who became my companion for the remainder of the race. Stephanie and I chatted about everything not related to running ( food, love, bits of our life stories) and encouraged each other through the thunder and lightning storm that appeared with a vengeance at mile 11. We finished together in a downpour with me looking very definitely worse for the wear!

My body was no doubt done in by the Dundee Hills. It took three full days to walk normally down the stairs at the inn. And I will admit that I lost it in a fit of tears on Monday afternoon (the day after the race). A moment of worry about aging and my continued ability to both compete and recover well.  A soothing bath back at Dreamgiver’s soothed my aching legs. And the rest of the week was spent enjoying early morning coffee on the front porch followed by a scrumptious breakfast.

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And there’s nothing like the hair of the beast to provide one with a full physical recovery. A  hearty hike up the ashen and snow covered (!!) paths of Mt. Hood took care of any remaining stiffness.

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Please don’t get the wrong idea. We did not summit this beauty; we leave that for the experts. But we did enjoy high altitude climb in the sun and a delicious late lunch at a local pub.

The memories of this vacation will live on in my heart and mind. But with each step I take in my future runs, I will carry the dirt of the hills with me.

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Shut Up and Run

Credit: www.heidiwestover.com

A few weeks back, my fiance’ and I  ran in a 12k race on what turned out to be a sun shiny spring morning. For the most part, I enjoy competing in these events regardless of the distance as they are one of the best ways to shake up one’s running routine and give yourself over to just plain hard work of physical exercise for a part of your day.

Running is meant to be a simple sport. No extra equipment is necessary in order to participate. I also like to consider runners to be humble creatures, generally speaking. After all, the race is really between you and the clock and perhaps your own mind. We don’t like to be fancy or flashy. So I guess that’s why I was overly annoyed when a group of runners showed up at the starting line with their health club’s over-sized flag and bellowing voices. “Ugh,  I thought, what a bunch of egomaniacs.”   Of course, they needed to be at the front of the pack as well. Right away, I knew that I would need to stay ahead of these creatures.

Well, the gun went off and I must admit that my irksome state was set for the race. Sure enough, the bantering banner carriers were loud and obnoxious. One woman clearly needed everyone to know that she was running a marathon the next weekend; that was absolutely necessary for her in order to qualify for Boston. She then proceeded on an even longer rant about the pros and cons of other marathon courses in the area using her best runner’s lingo, as if she knew it all. My finance’ made a snide comment to me signaling he’d had enough of  her boasting and we picked up the pace.  I don’t know about you, but I cannot take endless chatter in a race at all. It just seems out of place. The focus should be on the course and how you feel, period. And no one wants to hear the tin, tin, tin of your ipod either. For me, the sound is like nails on a chalkboard.  Hey, I know music can psych you up, but there is such a thing as keeping a song in your head!  Back in the old days, I used to blast my Fleetwood Mac album before I left the house. “Second Hand News” was the perfect song to keep my pace fast and furious. 

I guess you might say that I miss the straightforwardness of  racing. The real test is in your effort and ultimately your performance. Maybe even in the satisfaction of finishing even if you’re having a bad day. Like my dad used to say: “Put a number on and meet me at the starting line.”

Happy Hour

Credit: www.lynnegolodner.com

Black coffee in bed

The morning quiet adding the sweetness to my first sip

My day unfolds with no set plans

A run in the rain

I lose myself in dreams

My body a zen-like stream

as I am carried over these endless rises

A heated cleansing

The ritual soothing to the double digit distance

Stomach empty- a primal hunger invades

I sip and sup listening to Saturday stories

The day turns raw

I shelter myself  baking, laundering and dancing 

A spontaneous urge propels me out the door 

Seeking sustenance

I turn my wheels and spy two mates

We gather at the bar

Coffee, Tea for they and me

Tall tales Told (gosh are we getting old!)

Time flies by

We leave and say goodbye

I arrive at the stead new plans ahead 

Dinner to make or should I bake? 

The night is a pup

At five, I fill my cup

One needs to dine with a good fine wine!

 

Day 26 of the Challenge. For my friends L and J: Thanks for being a part of my day! XO

First Images

Credit: aromaofislam.com

At first glance, a meeting by chance

Warming up on sweltering day in the tropical summer

Later, an initial re-aquaintance

in the post race cooling waters

Effortless conversation deeper than the liquid that floated around us

Soothing our heat

A natural ebb and flow

Sunlight’s spark on a newly forming shore

A long run twelve hours hence

My skin bubbled and blistered

Unaccustomed to the equatorial temps

My hair matted with sweat

My mouth sticky- white from thirst

You lingered

Is that when our hearts first burst?

 

An attempt to capture a moment or two in time when the seeds of new love take hold without the pair fully knowing it is happening.  Snippets of memory nearly six years old that still make me smile.

Why I Run

Credit: davegetzschman.photoshelter.com

I run for no specific reason

I run because I like to feel the morning air on my face

The dark nip of winter

The welcoming breeze of spring

The heat of summer

and the tri-colored relief of  autumn

I run to  feel the aches

as I first shuffle my feet

and the sweet release as I enter my stride

 I run to see the changes in my world reveal themselves bit by bit

I run to listen to the day’s first stirrings

and the night’s final slumber

to hear the coyotes’ howls

the red tail’s hunt

the snort of  deer

and the yip of the fox 

I run to peek at Venus, my morning star in the east

I run to watch the moon’s final rise at the first mile

and the sun’s first with one to go

I run to breathe, to think (or not)

I run because I want to feel alive

and take in my daily dose of peace