Saturday, July 31, 2010

Finding that balance again

My running club kicked off their fall marathon training today and I didn't make it. It was only a 6 mile run but I still felt a little twinge of desire to be there with the group and get those miles with company. Since my life has changed I have found it increasingly difficult to make it out and run as much as I'd like. I will not complain about this because the reason, or reasons, I can't make it are my children. I love spending time with those 2 copies of me and I would always (and have always) choose them over a run any day.

In the past I've always had a balance between the two desires even if it was a stressful one. I didn't mind leaving the offspring for a few hours to run some miles because I knew I'd come back to them. Now I feel like I must be with them every minute they're here because there will soon be a time when they're not here. That not here time works well for getting those runs in but since it's summer I'm trying to have the kids over as much as possible so the lack of balance is an issue.

I'm not complaining about anything here, just expressing some feelings. I love my kids and I love running and the balance will come I'm sure.

Thanks for listening

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer of the watermelon II

Where did I leave off... Oh yes, the expo. I'm poor now. That's the basic point here.

After the expo I set out on an expedition to find the San Francisco Whole Foods. I knew they had to have one since this was Mecca for Granola people and everyone knows Granola people love Whole Foods. I found one a few blocks from the expo and entered the bliss of breads, salads, wine, cheese, and every other wonderful thing that wonderful people can make from wonderful food raw materials. One day I've got to figure out how to do these things but for now I'll rely on Whole Foods and Little Caesars for sustenance.

Later that day, after a nap and some fantastic TV from the 3 channels I had in the Ritz, I was lucky enough to meet up with some fellow bloggers for dinner. It was great to see Penny again and I also got to meet AKA Alice and Meg Runs! Total score for meeting wonderful people! We had a great dinner and I laughed very hard the entire night. It's funny how I've become comfortable meeting bloggers since that first time I met Penny. I was so nervous that night I couldn't speak and now I actually look forward to it. Bloggers are wonderful people.

I got to bed late that night after what was probably my 2nd taxi ride ever. Yes, I'm a sheltered person. Sue me, I like the subway!

Race morning came quickly and I was up and in my Landrunner shirt before 5AM. I was supposed to meet RBR and Penny at 5:15 somewhere near the bag drop. I was a little late. RBR was as gracious as ever in her texts asking where the #$%^ I was! She's has such a way with words. I love that about her. I always learn some new way to offend people when I see her. I have considered bringing a notebook or a recorder. She is such a wonderful teacher.

There was a bit of confusion about which wave we were in. Ok, so we knew which wave we were supposed to be in but we didn't want to be in that wave. Do you see the problem. SUPPOSED and WANT. Those two words have always caused me problems. We did eventually end up in our assigned wave which started somewhere near San Jose. No kidding we were in the very last wave. That's what happens when you register the day before the race. After having done this for many, many races I feel that I should get a preferred starting spot because I paid more to be in this race than 90% of the other entries. Just a thought.
I ran with RBR and another friend who had come out from OKC to run this race at the last minute also. Did you catch that? I RAN WITH RBR. Yep, that's right, after last years confusion that mistakenly forced me to accidentally leave her after only 25 feet, I actually ran with her this year. For awhile. We caught AKA Alice as we were approaching the bridge and RBR left me for better company. All in all, I'd say we ran 15-16 miles together. Yeah, that sounds right...

The Golden Gate was as beautiful as ever and it still hasn't gotten old running across it. I still got goosebumps when we ran out on it. It's just such a great thing to be out there in the traffic lanes running between the Pacific and the bay. In true 80's lingo, it's way cool dude!

I continued to run with my friend from OKC until 13 miles where I decided to see if I could pick up the pace and run a great negative split. I had many reasons for this but the most compelling one was to finally run the second half strong. I've always struggled on the second half because the hills beat me up so much on the first half that I just have nothing left for the last miles. I was also completely committed to looking at mile 24 through 26 and giving it the finger! Last year those miles completely destroyed me. Absolutely my worst 2 miles of running ever and I was going to get my revenge.

I was able to pick up the pace a little but I still held back for awhile because I wanted to finish stronger. I wasn't wearing Paula so I don't know what pace I was running but it felt good and strong and that was all I wanted that day. Time was not a factor for me, all I wanted was that good feeling of finishing a marathon with strength and I was doing it. No walls, no deep emotional dips, no bent-over trudging along. Running with my head up and back straight with some dignity.

Mile 24 came along and I looked in it's #%$(ing eye and gave it the finger. That mile has haunted me for a year now. It was the symbol of how I saw myself and how I felt. I needed to put it back in it's place; make it just another single mile of the 26.2 I could run. I did this that day.

If mile 24-26 of last year's San Francisco marathon were the representation of how I felt for the last year then mile 26.2 of this year's marathon has to be the symbol for this year. I crossed the finish line with strength and my head up. I didn't raise my hands in celebration as I normally do but I looked around and took in the moment with the respect that this course and the trials of life that it represents deserves. It was a good year.

Thanks for listening

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer of the watermelon

Hello world.

It's been quite awhile since I've last put pixel to LCD and to be honest I'm a little scared. I fear that I've lost the ability to communicate my thoughts using this forum and that whatever I write from here on out will be rubbish. I want so badly to write something eloquent and meaningful.

Then I remembered that all I really have to do is write what's on my mind. Relieve that pressure that's been building between my ears by putting thoughts out for the world (OK, so maybe just for the few of you left reading this blog) to read. That will be fine.

So last week I got the word that I would be heading to California for work. It was a last minute thing but I always enjoy going to California so I don't mind the short notice. My first idea, once my travel arrangements were made, was to text my good friend Penny and see if she could meet me on the LA beaches for a run. I usually get to stay one night near the LA airport which is just a short hop from the beach and the wonderful, star-laden, beach front walky-runny sidewalk thingy (technical term).

Penny quickly replies that she would love to but will be in San Francisco all weekend. Bummer! Oh wait, isn't there a marathon in San Francisco soon? THERE IS! In fact it's this weekend and that's why Penny is up there! I'm quick like that you see.

This was on Monday and I was leaving on Wednesday for LA. Somewhere between getting to California and spending 2 long days in the dry desert sun, I changed my return flight origin from LA to SFO, bought a ticket from LA to San Francisco ($67! Score!!!) for Saturday, and began the search for a hotel room. The hotel always takes longer because I didn't want to get a car (driving in San Francisco SUCKS!!!, ask RBR) so I had to stay somewhere near the starting line and I didn't want to spend $1000 a night. Eventually I took a chance on a hotel 1.5 miles from the start that was offering a $65 a night rate. That's frighteningly cheap. I was frightened, but figured it was just for 2 nights and it was just me so what the heck.

Once I had everything arranged, I finally took a step back and realized I had to actually run a marathon in a couple days. I hadn't done that in awhile, in fact, I hadn't run more than 13 miles since fall! Crap, this might hurt. My mind took over though and I remembered that I'm bullet-proof. That helps with situations like this.

I made it to San Francisco on Saturday and discovered my hotel was wonderfully old and classy. I don't suppose most people would like it but I immediately fell in love with it's old, 50's era charm. I had my own bathroom and the bed was comfy. I even enjoyed the ride in the very old elevator. Everything about the place screamed that this is where Willie belongs.

I spent some time and huge amounts of money at the Expo. I decided since this was my 3rd year running this race I should probably have some memorabilia from it.

I'm going to finish this tomorrow.... Goodnight everyone. It feels good to be back writing.

Thanks for listening

Monday, July 5, 2010


So I'm on vacation now officially. My toes have touched sand and my ass has been in the ocean.

After spending 2 days in the car driving across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, I decided that I should get a long run in as soon as possible to stave off atrophy in my legs.

I set out on a 12 mile run up the beach-side road at 6 AM while my kids were still asleep. It was quiet and lonely and lovely. A nice easy run that my legs were aching to do. They seemed to have a great desire for every step. So much better than sitting still for 10 hours a day. I didn't see many other runners at first so I had time to get my mind settled and make it concentrate on nothing but the task of putting one foot in front of the other.

Eventually I came upon a wonderful man who I ran with for a few miles. When I say ran with, what I really mean is that we ran beside each other. He with his headphones on and me with my mind clear and disinterested. After a few miles, I began to wonder about this man. I wondered what his story was. Was he a resident of this island or was he also a visitor? My mind eventually gave up the wondering and began to make up his story for him. His name was Henry and he was a Korean war veteran (didn't look old enough for WWII). He was here on vacation with his wife, Audrey. They had been high school sweethearts, been married forever and raised 4 kids. He worked as a pipeline repairman in the oil fields of Texas since he returned from the war. Retirement is looming and he was deep in thought about what he was going to do with the rest of his life and how he and Audrey were going to spend their golden years. His oldest boy, Lyle, ran his own business in Iowa and had invited Henry to come up and help him run the company. This appealed to Henry because he wasn't sure how long he could survive just sitting around East Texas with nothing to do. Iowa wasn't his first choice in retirement locations however and he was apprehensive about working so closely with his son. The weight of this decision and the weight of the years of hard work showed in his running style. Leaning slightly forward, looking almost bent over, he shuffled along at a good pace but it looked labored. He liked running for the feeling of accomplishment it gave him when a good run was finished. He got little satisfaction from his work lately and desperately sought that worthy feeling any way he could nowadays.

So I had this entire story written after only a few miles. I never spoke to this man. Mostly because I didn't want to bother him and partly because I didn't want to find out the truth about him and ruin my story.

On the way back, I noticed a street that ended at the ocean-front. The funny thing I noticed about this street was that it was named "West Summer". I'm at the Atlantic Ocean and this road ended at the ocean front. West Summer? Where the heck is East Summer, Africa? You can't more East in the United States than the Atlantic Ocean. I supposed there was someone running up the African coast by "East Summer" road and wondering the same thing.

I'll be at the beach for the next few days.

Thanks for listening