A Writer’s Hibernation

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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

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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

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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

Being in the Distance

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I smelled the rain before I saw it

Butter in the air

The roads were still dry after yesterday’s Spring baking

 A welcome sign then after Winter‘s marathon of cold

As I neared the pond, I could hear the first drops’ pings hit the leaves

Too late to turn back and I never would anyway

By mile 1 the roads were already glistening

I was stiff and moving slow

but not really thinking of  when I would end this march into my daily reverie

Warming up the mind occurs at mile 2

When the bell tower was reached, I turned to hear a friendly beep

My white truck clad neighbor

An incentive to go further than planned

The rain drops seemed to miss me

as I descended the long hill

and turned left on the only flats I swear exist in this town

My cares and worries from yesterday fell to the pavement

melting with the sky’s happy tears

My Sunday expedition reminds me of why I lift my feet

take in my surroundings

watch my world change minute to minute

I take stock and notice with all of my senses

I seem to float on the next mile’s ascent

This town is full of hills

A runner’s speed work in disguise

I realize the rain has picked up but I am barely wet

This is a good place to be

                   Alone

To not worry about what’s coming next, to just keep moving forward