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Columbia Gorge Marathon

Hello People 🙂

I hope you’re all well and wonderful.

I ran a marathon on Sunday and thought it appropriate to write a little something about it.

The last marathon I ran was Vancouver Washington in June of 2014, so it had been awhile.  My training was pretty great in the beginning but with school, work, my kids, my husband and a couple additional part time jobs it fell off and wasn’t what it should have been.  I considered not running it but that just didn’t seem right.

The Columbia Gorge Marathon is touted as one of the most breathtaking marathons because the majority of the run is along the old Columbia River Highway and the views are spectacular.  Here are a few pictures I took on the course to prove that fact.

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It was beautiful.  Truly. 

But OY the hills.  It was a constant uphill climb that I was not prepared for.  It was an out and back course and yet it felt like a constant uphill in both directions even though I know that’s impossible. 

For the most part I did fine.  The turnaround point was 12 miles in.  Blue Eyes was waiting for me there with a hug and an encouraging word and I headed back.  At mile 16 I felt okay but could tell I was coming up on my wall.  Historically I hit the wall around mile 18. 

At mile 18 the sun went away, massive dark clouds appeared and the sky let loose with the coldest, hardest rain ever.  I started to sink mentally.  I rounded a corner and saw Blue Eyes and two of our friends cheering for me.  The friends had signs just for me (a first) and Blue Eyes had skittles.  The wall was pushed back a little and I powered up the hill to get back on the trail.

The trail was a little more than five miles before you come out and head down into the town of Hood River to the finish.  The trail is where I met the wall.

There was no shield from the rain, it was so cold and so hard that eventually I couldn’t feel my fingers.  I cried a bit, thought about quitting and then realized that no matter what I did I had to get to the end of the trail before anyone could come get me and if I made it that far it was just another 2.5 miles downhill to the finish.  So I sucked it up.

I came around a corner near the end of the trail and saw a figure on the side of the trail standing there.  The form was familiar but I was too far away to think anything else.  When I got closer I saw that it was my best girlfriend who I did not expect.  Especially not there.

Here are some pictures she took at that moment…

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This was mile 23.5.

That smile had very little to do with the marathon and everything to do with seeing a friendly face and hearing her scream “you got this!”

She was right.  I had it.  I finished 2.5 miles later and got my reward.  Another medal and a well deserved hug from the hubby.

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And then there was beer…..

Be well people!

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Disclaimer:  As University of Michigan alum I am programed to enjoy [love] college football (Go Big Blue!) but that’s about it.  So I’m sure I don’t qualify as a “sports fan.”  That may be my problem here.

As I drove into work this morning I heard on the radio that Greg Oden, one of the Portland Trailblazers, who has not played much (in my limited opinion) since the Blazers picked him up for an ungodly amount of money in the 2007 draft, due to injuries, signed a contract to receive just under $8.8 million dollars for the 2011-2012 season.

I don’t understand.

Can someone please explain to me why an almost 24 year old man who will reportedly sit on the bench most of the season [a short season at that!], who has not yet been cleared to practice, let alone play, with his team, will receive $8.8 million for his duties?

Record numbers of people are unemployed, searching for work, trying to pay their bills, feed their children and stay in their homes (if they aren’t already on the street) yet Mr. Oden will receive $8.8 million?

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the extraordinary salaries athletes receive.  It’s just the way it is and I get that, I guess.  They are very talented and provide countless hours of entertainment for the world.  If I had been consulted way back when they started paying these ridiculous salaries I probably would have vetoed the whole idea.  But sadly, they didn’t ask for my opinion.

I don’t blame Mr. Oden for signing the contract.  I would have signed it too had it been offered to me.  I just don’t understand why it was offered in the first place since he likely won’t be playing much.

Why is it so important to keep him in Portland?  He’s always injured or recovering.  The 5 or 6 games I’ve been to over the last couple of years have all been played without him and they’ve been fun to watch and be a part of.  I didn’t miss him.  No one else in the Rose Garden appeared to miss him either, at least not enough to ruin the experience.  Couldn’t we, as a city, have risked letting him go?

Again I say: I’m not a sports fan, and that may well be my problem.

I simply don’t get it.

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Today was a great day!  It’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood.  The sun is shining bright, but damn is it cold.  Such a good day!!

I ran this morning.  Nine point seven miles.  That’s a record for me on a morning I have to go to work.  I usually run two at a minimum, six at a maximum and eight if I feel the need to push my time limits.  Today I just didn’t want to stop and since I was averaging a 9:42 pace I didn’t have to!!

There was a lot of trash floating around in my head this morning.  Running allowed me the time to rummage through some of the garbage and throw it away.  There is more to toss, no doubt, but I still need to work through it.

**Blue eyes came down to my office two days ago.  He called and asked, after he was already in the neighborhood, if I could spare five minutes.  Man, I don’t like that I can’t just say no.  I had not visually seen him in a long while.  He wanted me to explain why I thought it was necessary to not see each other anymore.  So I did.  He said he understood it, but asked if we could still be friends.  I’m thinking no, but I didn’t say that because it seemed mean and he’s a nice guy.  I said we could be friends, but he should realize that I don’t talk to some of my friends for months at a time and he would probably fall into that category, if I was being honest.  He was okay with that.  So we parted friends.  Actually took 20 minutes to go through all that and on the way back to my office my “missing B” feelings welled up like a freaking volcano.  No tears, but they were right behind the eyeballs just waiting for me to give them the go-ahead.  I didn’t.

This morning as I ran, I tossed all that garbage out.

**Yesterday was a good day.  It started to get tripped up however when the other guy I’m not interested in called me. To be fair I hadn’t told him that I wasn’t interested because I was still on the fence about the holiday party he invited me to.  So it was reasonable that he should call.  Unfortunately my tolerance level was kind of low after one too many meetings, including one that kept me later than usual, and I was worried my not nice self would show herself.  She doesn’t come out often, but I was teetering on the brink yesterday when he called and didn’t know if I could hold it together.

My resolve held and I was nice.  So was he.  He didn’t say anything stupid to irritate my overly sensitive nature and he even made me laugh a few times.  We even managed to have a grown up conversation about why we probably weren’t compatible.  That was right before he asked me if I would still come to his holiday party with him.  No pressure, but he liked my company and it was less than 2 weeks away.  It was a weird phenomenon.  I had been feeling bad because I had somewhat murky intentions of using him for two weeks, since I thought I wanted to go to the party and once we talked about not being compatible and he still wanted me to go to the party I was relieved of my sleazy user tendencies because in a way he was using me too.  As long as we were both okay with it, what was the harm.

The trash of THAT conversation was that I thought Blue eyes and I had a clear understanding of our dating situation and that backfired on me.  Worry crept in about it backfiring here too.  But hey, I ran this morning and threw that bit of noise away.  I’ll deal with it when and if it happens.  The party is nine days away.  I have a dress, awesome shoes and he’s rented a town car.  I’m good with it for now.

**My children, individually, are testing me.

As I ran, I decided to pass on that garbage.  Not enough time in my morning to hash it out.  That requires a clear and concise conversation with God so I don’t do something I may regret.  I don’t like to rush my conversations with God so I put it on hold.  As it turns out, He’s pretty understanding and extremely patient.

**I have five pounds I would like to lose before Hawaii.  I’ve uttered these words to a few people I trust and they all look at me funny and then tell me I’m crazy.  I’m a girl People!  A girl headed to Hawaii – I have five pounds I’d like to lose.  End of story.

I didn’t throw that away this morning because I’m serious.  Five pounds in 25 days.  I can do it.

**I made arrangements yesterday to go away again next March.  Another tropical locale to visit in the midst of Oregon’s rather long rainy season.  This particular trip has great potential to be something I may not ever forget.  Not that I make it a habit to forget awesome vacations, I’ve taken quite a few since my divorce, but trust me when I say I believe this could be something far greater.

I created my own trash on this one.  I made my arrangements and then freaked myself out.  I’m a girl, capable of many things; freaking myself out is clearly one of them.  But I am also capable of calming myself down.

I expressed my concerns to the appropriate party last night before I went to sleep and while I ran this morning it dawned on me that the bottom line is quite simply that these days I am living as I choose to live.  Happily.

My life is an adventure when I choose to see it clearly and this is an extension of that adventure.  I am going to the sun, to the beach, to the tropics outside of hurricane season (HA!) and it will be amazing if for no other reason than I am there.  Present and accounted for and living in the moment.

I intend to practice that statement in Hawaii.  T-minus Twenty-five days and 5 pounds!

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So I ran a marathon a little over a week ago.  Not only did I run 26.2 miles, but I took 5 minutes exactly off of my last marathon time.  While I’m pleased with that accomplishment, please don’t be fooled.  I’m not fast.  There was lots of time on the table and I just picked up 5 minutes of it.

To be honest, the whole marathon was pretty brutal.  It was painful, long and very lonely.  Lonely.  Think about that.  I ran with 20,000 other people and I felt alone.  Doesn’t sound possible, but it’s true.

Last marathon I had my mother show up, surprisingly, at different locations throughout the route to cheer me on.  It always surprised me and it helped spur me on to continue (although I never really thought about quitting).  When I finished one of my closest girlfriends, my mother and B were at the finish line.  It was awesome and amazing to share the high of finishing a marathon with three people I loved. 

There was no one there for me at the Portland Marathon.

Yes, there were lots of great spectators, cheering, hollering, giving free high fives throughout the course.  There was a woman at mile 20 who was standing outside of her house with a Costco size bottle of ibuprofen offering it to whoever needed it as her grandson poured water in cups to go along with it.  Amazing, generous and oh so thoughtful.  But I still felt alone.

I had trained and knew I could complete the task but I think my problem was simply too much crap occupying my mind during those 26.2 miles.  The mind is a powerful thing and 26.2 miles is a long way to run.  Lots of time to think.  About everything.  And I did.  Thought about the demise of my marriage to the Asshole; the struggles with my children over the last 3 years; my relationship with B and its ending; my job, my health, my future, you name it, I thought about it.  Most of it was positive and encouraging but some of it was not and since it was raining (yes, raining) and cold (very cold) it was hard to refocus when I slipped into bad shit.

Luckily around mile 14 a friend who started in the corral behind me caught up to me.  When she slid up beside me and put her arm around me, I almost burst into tears.  I truly needed her at that moment and hadn’t realized it myself.  Turned out she was not in a good place herself and had seen me up ahead and had been trying to catch up to me for over a mile because she needed me!  We ran together for a little over 4 miles before she left me.  By then I had refocused my energy and my mindset and knew I would make it.

It hurt though.  Can’t lie.  When I finished I grabbed some bananas, a popsicle and some oranges and sat on the sidewalk to chill.  It was only when I tried to stand up, about 10 minutes later, that I realized how in pain I was.  Ugh.

As I walked to my car I thought, “yea, well, that was my last marathon.”  But clearly that was me lying to myself since I just registered for another one in June of next year and I’m thinking about one in Napa Valley next March and another in Seattle next November.  Two was my limit this year, three is my number next year.  Of course that’s just marathons.  I also ran 7 halfs this year, 1 Duathlon, 3 – 10k’s, 1 – 15k, 1 – 12k and a couple of 5k’s.   I  know . . . I do have issues, but there are worse things to be addicted to.  Right?

A week ago today I got my tat and it turned out beautifully.  I love it and what it represents.  I am a Runner Chick and have been so branded.

This is my tattoo, it’s located on my left shoulder-blade and it is awesome. 

My Tat

Got some other things on my mind that I need to get off of me, but I’m still formulating my thoughts which have to be kind of clear before I can write.  I will be back soon.

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All too often we take so much for granted.  It’s so simple to get caught up in the day-to-day of working, paying bills and surviving that we neglect to stop, even if only for a moment, and appreciate all that our life really is.

I have two incredible sons, with distinctly different personalities, that surprise me from one day to the next as they show me who they are growing up to be.  I have a job that I love, that I am very fortunate to have and that has the potential to evolve into something I cannot imagine.  I have a dog who adores me, a house to live in, a car to drive and enough money to pay the bills and buy groceries.  I have friends and family who love me and would come in a second if I were to call.  I live a good life and I try hard to stay in the moment and be thankful and grateful for it all. 

If there is one thing I take for granted consistently, it is the place in which I live.  The Pacific Northwest.  Oregon.  Portland, to be precise.  It rains often, is overcast frequently, and is cold more often than hot, but there is something really extraordinary, to me, about living here.

We have mountains, the ocean, lakes, rivers, and streams within a short distance.    We have hiking, biking and running trails.  We have a city full of artists, who have vision and commitment to what they believe in.  And while I’ve lived in more culturally diverse cities, what Portland lacks in diverse nationalities it makes up for in diverse personalities.  Why else would the city’s underground (but freely publicized) motto be “Keep Portland Weird.

We have more strip clubs, per capita, than any other city in the United States.  (No, I’m not proud of that one, but it does make us unique).  We have more microbreweries within the city limits than any other city in the world.  (If you like beer, you should really visit Portland).  We have the smallest city park (2.5 feet in diameter) and the largest urban wilderness (5000 square acres) within a cities limits in this country.

We have no sales tax, (if it says it’s $2.87, it’s $2.87 dammit!), but we have outrageous property and income taxes.  We are one of the greenest and cleanest cities in the country and come in second for cities that promote and practice bicycle commuting, (even though it rains what feels like 9 months out of the year!)  Food carts are a way of life here, not just a passing fancy and it’s against the law for you to pump your own gas in Oregon.  I happen to like that.

While I get tired of the rain, I have lived here longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere in my life.  I am the child of gypsies.  Educated gypsies, but gypsies none-the-less.  It is only because I did not want my children to live the life of changing schools, sometimes twice a year, that I experienced growing up that I’ve been here as long as I have.  I’m grateful for that because it has given me the time to appreciate Portland for what it is.  An outdoor friendly city with a kind of weird, slightly funky, artistic vibe.

In 6 ½ years both of my children will be grown and out of my house.  I will be free to leave this place if I so choose.  And I will choose to do just that.  My dream for that time in my life involves leaving the country and living in Italy for at least a year.  I don’t doubt that it will happen, even if I can’t quite wrap my head around the small details and fine print.

I do know, however, that I cannot fool myself into thinking I will not miss Portland.  This city has placed an indelible mark on me and though I am sure to leave, I am just as sure to return.  I love Portland.

Have a wonderful weekend people!

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