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Posts Tagged ‘grateful’

Last weekend I went camping with two of my dearest girlfriends. For approximately two weeks prior to the trip I had debated with myself about whether or not I would actually go. My debate most often centered on money and my desire to spend as little as possible due to a variety of unexpected expenses this summer. But as the date got closer, my need to get out of town, decompress and feed my soul was far greater than my penny-pinching-debt-pay-down ways.

Friday morning I had to drop my puppy off at the kennel. I always feel guilty about that, even if it’s only for a couple of nights. To ease my own guilt I took him for an early morning run. I reasoned he would be so exhausted from the run he wouldn’t have enough energy to give me his sad puppy eyes when I said good-bye at the kennel. For those of you not familiar with my puppy, here he is.

Trigger

At a little over 200 pounds he is not a lover of the run, but he does love me and if I want to run with him he will run with me, for at least a little while. I’ve pushed him to run 4 miles before, but his limit is really 2. Friday we ran just under 2 and he was beat. After drinking a bucket of water, he sprawled out on my bedroom floor while I showered and got ready. We went to the kennel and said our good-byes with a minimum of sad looks.

Then I was off to drive 3 hours to my girlfriends home in Terrabonne, or as she calls it “TerraBama.” The day was sunny, the drive was lovely and Mt. Hood was a spectacular site.

mt. hood

I got to C’s house around 10:30 and while she and S finished getting ready I enjoyed a nice cup of hot tea while sitting by her koi pond.

koi pond

Later I sat in her backyard with Frank. C’s standard poodle. You would never know from this picture that just seconds before he was all in my face attacking me.

MeNFrank

C had purchased a month’s worth of groceries and after her husband helped us get them all out to the cars we headed to our final destination. Camp Sherman. We arrived a little before 2 and were allowed to check into our cabin a little early. When we got into the cabin we all just kind of stood there looking around in amazement. It was pretty spectacular. The photos online were nice, but actually standing in the cabin looking around was far, far better.

After dropping our things in our bedrooms we opened the French doors and lounged in the Adirondack chairs a few feet from the Metolius River and let the vacation begin. C (who is a master chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris), made Margaritas, fresh salsa and chocolate chip cookies in a matter of minutes. Instantly everything was right in the world.

Travis2

SnacksonDeck

Later that evening we walked around Camp Sherman for a bit before we had dinner at the Kokanee Café.

TravisNCait

Dinner was to celebrate C’s 60th birthday that happened a couple months ago. The Kokanee Café was charming and even though we were in the middle of Central Oregon and the menu was pretty meat heavy I was able to enjoy a wonderful and oh-so-pretty beet salad.

BeetSalad

Then we went back to the cabin, sat on the deck and I drank my first glass of bourbon. “Drank” is probably not the right word, it was more like “sip, let it burn down my throat, and then sip again.” Needless to say I was ready for sleep after that.

Saturday morning I got up while the cabin was still quiet and put my running clothes on. It was a pretty, bright and sunny morning and I couldn’t wait to get out there and run. I ran away from the river first, along a bike trail. So, so pretty. Constant reminders of why I love Oregon so much.

Morning run

Morning run6

After that portion of my run I made my way to the bridge we had walked over the night before. I noticed there was a path that ran along both sides of the river so I followed the one on the right. It was amazing. I ran, walked, took pictures, ran some more and was happy to see other runners out.

Morning run4

morning run5

When I got back to the cabin the ladies were up and on the deck. C handed me a cup of tea and I sat for a while before I jumped in the shower. When I got dressed and came out into the living room I was taken by this view. I had to take a picture. So, so happy I decided to come and be a witness.

TheCabin1

We drove into Sisters and did some shopping.

TravisConvertible

I bought some olives (LOVE) and some Strawberry infused balsamic vinegar and C & S bought some clothes. Headed back to Camp Sherman that afternoon C advised S and me that it was time to do some fishing. “If we must” was kind of the attitude S and I had, but since we were gathered to celebrate C, and she wanted to fish, we were fishing.

After we got to the location we had to put on waders and boots. It was painful. The boots were the right size but they seemed to squeeze my foot so painfully tight I could have cried. C swore it would be better as soon as I got in the water but I didn’t believe her. Still we joked and laughed and had the best time, all while preparing to do some fly fishing. It was so fun. Again, glad I had come.

TravisFF5

TravisFF4

Then I stepped into the water and made my way out to the center of the river. Wow. I am not a fisherman. In fact, I don’t “GET” fishermen. I don’t understand why people fish. It seems boring, time consuming and silly. Um, until I found myself standing in the middle of this rushing river and loved it. Didn’t catch anything, in fact, I wasn’t really trying. Standing in the middle of the river as the water rushed around me, on a beautiful, sunny day brought a peace on me I had not experienced in quite some time. I loved it and while I won’t say that I’ll ever fly fish again, I will most definitely stand in the middle of a river with waders and boots on and hold a fishing pole, just to get that sensation back. Peace. Pure and simple.

TravisFlyFishing

TravisNSandraFF

After that excursion we went back to the cabin to claim our spots on the back deck, eat munchies and I think I drank a beer as we watched the water. Later that evening C whipped up dinner and after it got dark we walked back to the Kokanee Café to sit in the bar and have a drink together. Wonderfulness.

While C & S were staying one more night, I was leaving on Sunday. I wanted to get back by 1 p.m. to pick up my puppy from the kennel so that required I leave shortly after 9. I got up early to run and say good-bye to Camp Sherman and the Metolius and again spend some time being grateful for my life.

When I got back to the cabin I enjoyed a cup of tea, jumped into the shower, passed out hugs and headed home. I made pretty good time considering I went home over the Santiam Pass, which is a two lane road with not enough passing lanes and way, way, way too many motorhomes traveling. Since I made good time I stopped in Salem to see my niece. Her and her fiancé have a dessert company and they were selling their products at the Salem Bite & Brew. She was surprised and happy to see me since it’s been awhile and she asked me to hang around for a bit because her mother would be arriving soon. It was worth the wait! I was thrilled to get to see and chat with my former sister-in-law. It had been about 6 years since I’d seen her last. After that reunion I got it in gear and went to pick up the puppy.

When I got home I put my stuff away and lounged in my quiet house reflecting on the weekend and the joy of friendship and family that will always be family regardless of circumstances. There is a lot going on in my life right now, but all things considered I have very little, if anything, to complain about. I’m happy, healthy and content with me. Can’t ask for much more.

C got us a gift to commemorate our trip at Camp Sherman. The bracelets have the longitude and latitude location of the cabin we stayed at. So unique and thoughtful.

Bracelet

All3ofUs2

Until next time people! Be well!

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Wow, so I ran a marathon on Sunday.  Yesterday.

It’s still a little surreal that I did it.  And that’s a little freaky since it wasn’t my first marathon, it was my fifth.  I knew what I was doing, it wasn’t new territory and on top of that it wasn’t even a new marathon.  It was one I had run before.  Albeit 3 years ago.  When I ran it in 2011 it was my first marathon.  It was kind of scary then, I didn’t have any idea what to expect.  This year not only did I know what to expect, I was more familiar with the area since Blue Eyes lives in a town a stone’s throw from Vancouver and I’ve become quite familiar with it.

Friday before the marathon Blue Eyes and I drove to Eugene and packed a Uhaul with the boy’s stuff to move him home.

moving

I didn’t pack, lift or carry.  I supervised, but the drive down and the drive back was tiring to an extent.  Not to mention I had spent the first three hours of the day in a Committee meeting that was BORING and drained me of any energy I might have otherwise had.  And since the Uhaul only had two seats I sat on a makeshift seat made of plastic bags filled with clothes on the way home.  Ow.  My butt was numb twenty minutes into the drive.

Saturday was supposed to be for resting, and for the most part it was.  I watched a couple of episodes of Orange is the New Black (okay, yes.  I’m addicted.  Thank God there are only two seasons).  I washed my hair.  I puttered around my house until it was time for me to go up to Blue Eye’s house.  Once I got up there we went to dinner.  I wanted something Asian.  Good chow mien would have made me happy.  The place we intended to go to for that turned out to have moved somewhere not convenient so instead we went to B.J.’s.  I’m on the fence about B.J.’s.  They have a good selection of beer, but since it was the night before a marathon I wasn’t drinking beer.  They have a ridiculously large book like menu that I’m always annoyed with by the time I get through it and realize there isn’t much for me to choose from since I’m a vegetarian.  That’s what happened so I ended up ordering a pasta dish that turned out to be yucky.  I was so disappointed it put an obvious damper on my otherwise happy mood.  I ate about a quarter of it and then I waited for Blue Eyes to finish his meal so we could leave.  Thing is, even though I didn’t eat much I wasn’t hungry.  So I didn’t eat anything else.

Mistake #1 – For the entire day of Saturday I ate 1 protein type bar, a banana, a blueberry bagel with jam and a quarter of a plate of angel hair pasta with some gross butter sauce on it.  That’s it.

Mistake # 2- Water consumption was nil on Friday and Saturday.  Thursday I drank over a gallon of water.  That was Thursday.  Friday I maybe had 8 ounces of water because we were driving back and forth from Eugene and I didn’t want to have to pee all the time, and then after we turned the Uhaul in Blue Eyes and I went to a local tap room and I drank a pint of beer.  8 ounces of water and 16 ounces of beer and I peed all freaking night.  I think I got up 8 times to pee on Friday night.  Saturday I never thought about the water, I was puttering, watching my show, washing my hair.  Not drinking water.  I think I drank maybe another 8 ounces all day and then at dinner I drank about 8 ounces while I waited for Blue Eyes to finish his meal.  That’s it.

Soooo those mistakes under my belt I slept well Saturday night and got up bright and early on Sunday.  I ate a banana and Blue Eyes drove me to Vancouver, walked me over to the starting line, stood and waited while I went potty, chatted with some of my running chick friends and then took a selfie with me.

prerace

Then he left me and I got ready to run.  Still excited.

They had three waves.  The fast people, the slow people who weren’t walking and the walkers.  I was in the second wave and I got behind the 5 hour pace group.  I kept telling myself to remember to just run a nice steady pace.  I didn’t want to get caught up in that frenzy when a marathon starts and start running hard.  I had 26.2 miles to go and I didn’t want to use up what I had in the first 3 miles.  Even going slow and comfortable I passed the 5 hour pace group and ran on.  I never looked behind me because that tends to stress me out.  I don’t want to know how many people are behind me, or not behind me.  I was listening to music so I couldn’t even hear people come up on me, which was also nice.  The first 12 or 13 miles are an out and back situation through an industrial area.  It’s pretty boring, but you turn around at this park on the river which is nice.  I would guess all the way out to the turn around is about 6.5 or 7 miles.  I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that the first elite runners passed me coming back before I reached 5 miles.  Elites amaze me.  I don’t want to be one, but I certainly find them fascinating.

I took my headphones out before we reached the turn around so I could take a break and listen to my breathing.  When I did that I was able to tell that the 5 hour pace group was right behind me.  Not close enough for me to make out their conversation, but close enough for me to know it was them because it was a big group of people running, talking and laughing together.  I prepared for them to pass me, and they did, right when we came into the park.  I ran with them and every time I slowed down a little bit and they inched away from me I would make myself run faster just so I could catch up.  I played that game with myself for probably 3 miles.  But then I decided I really didn’t care that much.  I just wanted to enjoy the run, so I let them go.

I kept an eye on them, as well as the other people I’d been leap frogging from the beginning.  There was a tall black man who ran at a really nice, easy pace that I followed for awhile early on.  I liked his pace and I figured I could keep up with him.  I named him “Lurch” because he was so freaking tall.  When he got way ahead of me I could still see him because of his height.  He got really, really far ahead of me.  There was a man I named “B.O. Santa” because he had long gray hair and a really shaggy, really long gray beard and he was running without a shirt on (it was not attractive) and the first time he passed me the B.O. almost wiped me out.  I’m not judging him.  We were all out there running hard and I’m sure none of us smelled pretty, but this man smelled so bad when he passed me the first time I had to slow to a shuffle so he could get far enough away from me so I couldn’t smell him.  And then I watched other people react to him when he passed them.  Which made me feel not so bad.  There was a rather large woman who I didn’t name but we leap frogged each other a lot.  At one point she got really far ahead of me and I was sure I’d never see her again.  In fact all three of these people I was sure I would never see again at one point.  They seemed to be THAT far ahead of me.

Around mile 14 I drank a 5 hour energy drink.  I am not one who can handle caffeine so I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the drink, but I figured I’d give it a try and see what happened.  Worst thing that could have happened was I’d get a terrible headache and feel like crap for the remainder of the race.  What actually happened though is I felt instantly better than I had, even though I didn’t realize I didn’t feel that hot.  As I told Blue Eyes later, though, I’m not sure whether it was the drink or the fact that we were finally back into “town” and away from the industrial area and there is something about running through neighborhoods that makes me feel good about running.  It might have just been that, or it might have been the drink.  I’ll have to give it a go at my next marathon and see what happens.  After mile 14 I came upon and passed the large woman.  In fact when I passed her I felt so confident in my running I was sure I would not see her anymore.  I was right.

I caught up with B.O. Santa too and then we leap frogged some more.  I actually think he crossed the finish line before me, but for the last 10 miles we were pretty close.  I’d just hold my breath every time I passed him.

Everything was dandy, (even though I didn’t come upon the 5 hour pace group again), until I passed mile 16 or 17.  My calves started cramping up on me.  Not just a little.  It was the most excruciating pain I’d ever experienced and I continued to run with it until I almost fell.  I stretched out my calves and walked a little, and then ran.  Until they cramped up again.  It was the cycle.  It sucked.  At mile 18 I saw Lurch, which surprised me.  I hadn’t seen him for quite some time and I’d imagined he was uncatchable.  I saw him, I hurt, but I passed him and didn’t look back.  Never saw him again after that.  I love when that happens.

Blue Eyes stepped out at Mile 20 and I was thrilled to see him.  I fell into his arms and told him I was hurting and that I wanted to stop.  He totally ignored me and told me the 5 hour pace group had just passed not to long ago.  So I ran on.  The people running the half marathon started a couple hours after the full.  Actually I think someone told me they started at 10 a.m., we started at 7, so it was 3 hours.  Anyway, by the time I got to mile 20 I was amidst half marathoners who were walking.  Even though I was hurting it was a boost to my ego to pass so many people, even if they hadn’t come as far as I had.

The run/cramp up/walk cycle got old quick and I was kinda irritated.  I calculated in my mind that I would likely not beat my best marathon time, but I would definitely beat my time from the first time I ran the same course.

When I was less than half a mile from mile marker 26 I met a hill.  It wasn’t the worst hill I’d ever seen, but it was a hill and I was hurting.  I ran up some of it and walked up some of it.  At the top of the hill was a volunteer with a really deep loud voice.  He was saying things like “Come on Young People get up this hill!”  “You’re less than half a mile from the finish!”  He said a lot of things that I can’t remember, but hearing him made me laugh and he instantly became my favorite volunteer.  His chatter never stopped, he just kept repeating his six or seven phrases and when you reached the top he high fived you, hugged you or gave you some other form of encouragement.  I told him he was awesome as he gave me a high five and he thanked me.  Blue Eyes was standing there with him too.

Blue Eyes walked with me a ways and then told me I was really close and he would meet me at the finish.  I ran down a little hill and turned to see the mile 26 marker and the final stretch.  Lots of people were hollering and I started running a little faster.  OH MY GOD my calves hurt and I wanted to walk, but you can’t walk in the chute!  I kept a silent prayer going asking God to please not let my legs seize up and have me fall flat on my face until I crossed the finish.  As is generally the case, he did me one better and I managed to cross the finish, walk over and get my big-ass medal, a banana and some Sun Chips before I thought I would fall over.  Blue Eyes was there then and he massaged my calves for me for a good 10 minutes.  I love him.

I was a little disappointed because while I was sure I had beat my course PR, I was also sure I’d not beat my overall marathon PR.  I even told RunnerGirl that on Facebook when she asked if I’d gotten a PR.

Today as I was putting the information into my spreadsheet, however, I realized I was wrong.

I finished the course 10 minutes quicker than I’d finished three years ago, so that was right.  But I also finished 2 minutes better than my best marathon so while it’s not a huge PR, it is a PR all the same AND I honestly believe that had my calves behaved (or maybe had I drank some water, taken a salt tab, and eaten properly the day before) the outcome would have been much better.  No way to know for sure.  Guess I’ll just have to wait to see what happens at Portland.

post race

I can’t wait to see the photos from the race.  There were a ton of photographers out there so my odds are good for a decent picture.  🙂  We’ll see.  Anyway, even though today was a little difficult in the walking department, I feel good and I look forward to training for the next one.  After I take a week off, that is.

Take care people!!

Peace!

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KeepPortlandWeird

Hello People.

Yeah, it’s been awhile, but I’m still alive and running.

About three weeks ago I started utilizing public transportation to get to and from work.  Portland has a pretty amazing public transportation system – having lived in San Francisco for many years and experienced their stellar public transportation I feel I’m qualified to give Portland their props.

Many years ago (like 20) I took the bus to and from work from Lake Oswego.  L.O. is about 15 minutes (if you jump on the freeway) from Portland.  It was pleasant.  I read a lot of books, talked to a lot of people, made some good friends, etc.  Then the firm I worked for moved to L.O. and my commute became all of 5 minutes, by car.  Subsequently my then-husband and I moved even further out in the burbs and ended up where I am still, today.  I’ve been out there for a little more than 9 years.  For all 9 of those years I’ve driven myself to work.  The company I work for now is located in downtown Portland, and my commute to work can be 40 minutes in the morning (at 6:15 a.m.) and as much as 1 hour 20 minutes in the evening (at 4:00 p.m.).  Time, gas, money, stress.  I hate traffic.  Anyway, due to multiple circumstances I decided to revisit commuting on public transportation.

The first week was rough.  My hours are 7 – 4.  For me to get to work in a timely fashion I had to get on the bus at 5:46 a.m., which meant I had to get up at 4:00 a.m., walk my dog, shower, get dressed and get out of the house by 5 to walk the 1.75 miles to the bus.  I got to work at 6:50.  It was pretty easy (aside from getting up at 4 a.m.) but I was annoyed by three other bus riders.

Yeah, that’s right.  I was annoyed.  Some people are annoying.  There were three riders, two women and one man who sat together, kind of, and talked and laughed the whole ride in.  It wasn’t the talking and the laughing that annoyed me.  If I’m being brutally honest what annoyed me is the man reminded me of my ex-husband.  He was loud, everybody’s best friend, obnoxious and thrived on the attention of these two women – who gladly gave it to him.  I wondered, as I sat there enduring their ridiculousness, if the guy’s wife knew how chummy he was with these two women he saw on the bus every day.  I highly doubted it.  But who knows. . .

After three days of enduring that freak show I made the conscious decision to catch the bus that came at 5:32 a.m.  It didn’t mean changing anything really, it just meant I couldn’t casually walk to the bus, I had to walk with purpose.  Once I did that, I was golden.  The bus was pleasant and I arrived at work annoyance free, which was good for everyone.

At the end of the week I evaluated the situation and determined I honestly enjoyed riding the bus.  I enjoyed not dealing with the traffic, I enjoyed getting in almost 4 miles of walking every day, I enjoyed reading books again – what I didn’t enjoy is the inability to fit running into the mix.  I tried to figure that out and came up with some pretty lame ideas, like getting up at 3 a.m. to run.   Um, no, I don’t think so.

In a conversation with a man I work with, who lives in my same town and sometimes bikes to work, I gained valuable information.  If I signed up as a bike commuter, and paid a one-time fee of $5 for a key to the bike room, I would also get access to the weight room/showers from 6-9 a.m. every day.  SCORE.

For the second week I decided to give running a try.  I got up at 4, put my running clothes on, took my dog for a walk, put on my hydration backpack (replacing the bladder with work clothes, shoes, etc.) and I ran.  I ended my run at 5:30 at the bus stop, got on the bus a little smelly, got to the office at 6:40, took a shower and was in my office by 7.  It was pretty amazing.   I did it twice.  Only issues were the backpack was freaking heavy and I was pretty sure I would catch pneumonia from getting on a highly air conditioned bus with full body sweat.  But I was running, so I figured I could live with the issues.  I ran 5 miles one day, 6 miles another.  Fretted about how I would get longer runs in with such a time crunch, but then we all know I like to fret.

It’s only day 2 of the third week, but today was pretty spectacular – which is why I’m writing this blog post.

Yesterday when I came to work I brought two sets of extra clothes and hung them in my office.  I also brought two additional days worth of food and stuck that in the fridge.  Then this morning I got up at 4, put my running clothes on and at 4:20 I drove myself the almost 2 miles to the bus stop park and ride (a splurge I’ve only allowed myself on Fridays).  I got on the 4:30 bus and made my way to Portland.  I got off the bus by 5:15 and ran into downtown.  My pack was really light because there wasn’t much in it and the temperature was perfect somewhere around 60.  I ran towards the waterfront and realized that the way I drive into downtown is not conducive to running so I had to snake through a neighborhood or two before I made it to the waterfront but when I finally got there (1½  miles in) it was glorious.  GLORIOUS!  I ran the length of the waterfront (which ends right in front of my office building) and went to take a shower.

This picture is from my morning run . . . .

Morning Run Waterfront

I got into my office at 6:30, which is way too freaking early, but I felt wonderful and excited about tomorrow.  I plan to run further, probably cross a bridge or two – since I now know how much time I’ll have and how to actually get to the waterfront – I’m so excited.

Never thought I’d hear myself say that about getting up at 4:00 a.m. and taking the bus to work – but it’s amazing what you can get used to!!

I heart Portland, Oregon so very much.  I owe my ex-husband great thanks for bringing me here.  It’s breathtakingly beautiful, even when it’s raining, and the running community is so very large and supportive.

LovePortlandMug

I’m happy, healthy and quite content with my life.  I’m finding my joy in running and being an Oregonian, while saving money and a great deal of stress at the same time.

You can’t beat happy and content.

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Back from vacation, back to reality, but yay it’s Friday!

I met my girlfriend last Friday at the Portland International Airport at 4:00 a.m. because our flight to Cabo left at 6.  It seemed a cruel and unusual way to start a vacation, but once I hugged her at the airport I was in vacation mode! 

I packed pretty light for me, but I still intended to check my one bag.  I hate lugging bags through the airport so I was willing to put out the $20.  When we approached the counter, however, my traveling partner asked about first class availability.  When the lady behind the counter said it was available for both flights, my girlfriend said “alright then, we’ll take them.”  I began to say something like “um, I can’t do that,” but before I could get it out of my mouth she said “my treat, happy vacation!”  The lady behind the counter laughed. 

We found our gate and sat catching up.  We hadn’t seen each other since October and even though we communicate pretty regularly by email, we had lots to talk about.  She changed her shoes to something more apropos for travel to Mexico and I had to take a picture. 

Awesome sandals

We boarded the flight first and sat down in row 2.  While I’ve flown first class before, I hadn’t flown first class post 9/11 so I really didn’t know what to expect.  It was a pleasure, however, to drink from real glasses and eat from real dishes.

Real glass

Airline food

When we arrived in San Jose, California we had roughly 90 minutes before our flight took off so we went to a restaurant and had breakfast.  We lingered over breakfast, chatting, giggling, talking about the fun we would have in Mexico.  We paid for our meal and then casually left the restaurant.  When we got to the entrance of the restaurant my girlfriend said “I think they’re paging us over the loud speaker” – I was like “what?”  But as I listened I heard both of our names, followed by “the doors are closing, this is the final boarding call for Cabo!”  Luckily we were only two gates away, so I ran to the gate to stop them from leaving us.  They were literally closing the door to the walkway when I reached them and were none too pleased to see me.  We gave them our tickets and ran down the walkway to the plane.  I quietly thanked God for our fortunate ability to sit in first class because it certainly would have been a death march, with daggers shot from every set of eyes, had we been sitting any further back than row 2. 

We arrived in Cabo without issue, went through customs without issue, got sucked into a time share conversation with some fast talking Mexicans, and finally made it to our shuttle for the hotel.  It seemed like about an hour drive to the hotel, but it was pleasant all the same.

TheBahia

HotelHallway2

The Bahia is a boutique hotel about a block away from the beach.  I kind of fell in love with it on arrival, but by the end of the visit I was certain that given another opportunity to come back to Cabo, I would, without question, stay there again.

We had a two bedroom suite and there were three of us.  Our last friend would not arrive for a couple more hours, so I asked my girlfriend which room she wanted.  She declared she would be sleeping on the couch, so I took the only bedroom that was private.  Here is a picture of my bedroom in Cabo, complete with its own private bathroom. 

MyRoom

We got to the hotel at 2:15.  This is a picture of me at 2:30.  No lie.

By pool with drink

and another

Mebypoolwithdrink

It was pretty heavenly.  Apparently it’s happy hour all freaking day in Mexico.  Two drinks for the price of one.  And one costs something like 80 pesos, which I think is like $8.  But to be honest, after 5 days in Cabo, I never did figure out the peso thing.  I even found a 500 peso bill by the pool on the first night.  I picked it up, there was no one around to offer it too, so I asked the bartender how much that was, she said “I think about $50 – another drink?”  Why, yes.  Thank you very much.

Our friend arrived by 5 and made her way out to the pool where we alternated between being in the pool, laying in the sun, sitting at the swim up bar and laughing.  It was spectacular.  We met two other women that were on their final night there who were just fun.  They were from Los Angeles and came to Cabo frequently to get away.  We must have talked for a couple hours and in the end realized we’d all made new friends.

MeNMelanie

 Lovely.

Thethreeofusbypool

The next morning my body woke me up at 4:30 a.m. my time, which was 5:30 a.m. Mexico time.  I lay in bed for a while, and then decided I would get up and run.  I put my clothes on, grabbed my Garmin and then went out to the lobby, and stopped.  It was pitch black outside.  Pitch black in Mexico.  I spoke no Spanish and my phone had no international service so if I was kidnapped, or picked up and thrown in a Mexican jail I would have no way to contact anyone.  So I went back through the lobby and lay in the hammock above the pool for a while checking email and Facebook.  Then I went back to my room and went back to sleep for a couple of hours.

(This is me in the hammock before we went to dinner that night)

MeinHammock

The second night we went out to dinner at a restaurant right on the beach.  It was the first time I’d ever eaten with my shoes off, in sand, on a beach.  Nothing to complain about.  Again, beer was two for one, so they brought me a bucket. 

BeenInBucket

The view was pretty spectacular and the food was yummy!

PirateShip

Dinner View

Third day my body knew it was on vacation and did not wake me.  We had a nice breakfast in a spot that offered some pretty spectacular ocean views.

Beachs4wavesBig

And then I found my perfect spot to just lay for a while.  Heaven.

LayingbythePoolTS

On the fourth day two of us went kayaking in the Sea of Cortez.  We sailed out to the arches, got our pictures taken and then went out to an inlet and kayaked.  It was my first time kayaking, and I would say it was a success.  I didn’t fall into the water and I didn’t drown.  That equals success.

MeatArches

That evening we had the best dinner at the most fun place called Tequila Shark!  It was wonderful food, great service, and a prime location for watching the sunset! 

On the last morning I actually set my alarm and got up at 6:30 to go for a run.  I was out of the hotel by 6:45 and ran down to the marina – at 7:00 a.m. the humidity was HIGH and the sun was freaking HOT.  I am from Oregon, people.  Not used to these types of conditions, but I ran the length of the marina and back again.  Not much more than two miles, but considering this vacation was full of alcohol I was pretty pleased about eeking out 2 miles.

We had our last meal of breakfast together and then we headed to the airport.  By the time the shuttle picked us up I was ready to go home.  When we got the airport, however, EVERYONE was on Mexican time.  I totally wanted to slap the man behind the counter who was moving at a snail’s pace. 

We flew into San Diego and went through customs.  That was pretty painless and everything seemed to be moving along perfectly.  Then we got to our gate and found that the flight to Portland was delayed two hours.  Within a half an hour of that information, they updated again and it was delayed 3 ½ hours.  Ugh.  Would have been fine, if I hadn’t been ready to be home.  But what can you do?  Pretty much nothing.  So I took pictures of me and my girlfriend giggling in the airport.

MeNC

Finally got home a little after 1 a.m. and I was thrilled – until I found that my luggage hadn’t been so fortunate.  Alaska assured me the bag would likely be on the next flight from San Diego and that they would deliver it to me.  The next morning American Airlines called me to tell me that they had my bag and would get it to Alaska as soon as possible so they could ship it to Portland. 

I got  my bag Thursday night at 11:00 p.m.  Everything was in it EXCEPT my toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant.  Considering the two bottles of Tequila I had in there, I count myself pretty damn lucky.

I enjoyed Mexico and would likely return at some point in the future, but I’ll be honest — I’m more a Hawaii girl.  Can’t explain exactly what it was, but I knew almost instantly that Hawaii is more me than Mexico. 

Sigh. . .

I love Hawaii. . .

 

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Haven’t blogged in a while, not because I haven’t wanted to, but because work has been kind of crazy – I’m stopping by to give you a quick little update.

My mom is here visiting from Michigan (yay!) – she came out to watch my dog and be a grown up presence in my house while I’m in Mexico, and to hang out with me before and after said Mexico trip. Though I was hoping to keep her for the whole summer, I’m pretty sure she’s only planning to be here until the end of July – I’m not complaining. I’m grateful for any amount of time she stays with me. 

My oldest son has been steadfastly looking for a job since he came home from school for the summer. It’s been slow going, but he’s applied at a lot of places and kept a really positive outlook on the whole thing – which is helpful to me because I was not looking forward to his shitty attitude when he couldn’t get a job immediately. Today, while I was at lunch he called me twice and I missed both calls. When I called him back he told me the first call was to complain about his inability to get a job, but the second call (only 15 minutes later) was to tell me he got a job picking organic strawberries at a farm 12 miles from home. $9.00 an hour cash, paid daily. Wasn’t the job he was hoping for, but he’s thrilled to have a way to make some money. I’m thrilled too!

Youngest son is happy to be out of school for the summer before he starts high school. So happy he’s starting high school. We have lived in the town we live in since right before he started kindergarten and while it’s a nice little town, with pretty good schools (all things considered) I can’t wait to leave. 48 months. That’s all I got. . . then I’m outta here.

I had kind of given myself a break on the running hysteria. Not that I wasn’t runnig at all, just wasn’t pressuring myself to run any specific distance. Wasn’t going to be “training” for anything right now. As it turns out, with that attitude I ran more last week than I’ve run any week in the very recent past. I even set out to run two or three miles on Saturday morning and actually ran 11. It just felt that good!

Blue Eyes is still everything wonderful and a smart ass on top of it. He’s not overjoyed that I’m getting ready to go to Mexico without him, but he’s supportive all the same – it’s one of those non-negotiables with me. While I will happily travel with him anywhere he wants to go, I will likely travel alone and/or with girlfriends once a year – I think it’s important to me because I couldn’t do anything like that while I was married. It’s who I am now. End of story.

Blue Eyes and I are planning a trip to the Grand Canyon next March. We’re at the beginning stages of that plan, but when I come back from Mexico I’ll be making and paying for reservations at the lodge that we’ll be hiking to down in the canyon. I’m excited to hike the canyon with him and I’m looking forward to preparing for it. Blue Eyes just bought this crazy cool serious hiking back pack for the adventure.

Work is crazy.

I leave for Cabo at the asscrack of dawn this Friday. I have to be at the airport at 4:15 a.m., so I’m going to stay at Blue Eyes’ house Thursday night. He lives 15 minutes from the airport and will drive me and allow me to leave my car at his house for free. Then, of course, he’ll pick me up Tuesday night. I’m looking forward to stepping away from my life for a few days – I need the break and the girlfriend I’m traveling with is pretty much the most perfect traveling partner I could ask for.

I hope you are all well, wonderful and enjoying the summer! I’ll get back to blogging on the regular when I get back from Mexico because then I’ll begin officially training for the October marathon – I’m excited about this actually!! Yay!

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I ran away from home this weekend. 

I didn’t run far, but I did run (figuratively) and barely looked back.

I spent the weekend with Blue Eyes in Washington.

Blue Eyes is a mailman.  He usually works on Saturday.  Every Saturday.  Maybe two or three times a year he can ask for and get Saturday off, but for the most part, at least until the beginning of 2014, he always works on Saturday.

For some reason, (other than because he asked), he was given last Saturday off.  It was an oversight, a mistake, an error, what have you, but when the boss figured it out and approached Blue Eyes about it, Blue Eyes told him he’d come in if he was needed, but when he saw he had the day off, he had made plans.  The boss appreciated his willingness to come in, but covered it so Blue Eyes actually DID get Saturday off.

I packed my bag Thursday evening, made arrangements with the older boy [i.e., paid him] to take care of the dog and when work was over on Friday I went to Washington. 

It’s 20 miles from my work to his house.  On a normal day it can take half an hour.  Last Friday it took one hour and 15 minutes, thanks to the sun being out and it being Friday.  Didn’t matter though, I was running away from home and time is not an issue in those circumstances.

Friday evening we walked over to a new taproom in his town and tasted some beer, then we went to the local beautifully redone old theater and saw The Croods in 3D, for $3.00 a ticket.  I’d wanted to see The Croods, but never made it to the theater while it was out (there were too many other things I wanted to see) – it was a cute movie and I was happy it only cost $6.00 for both of us. 

Saturday we got up early and drove up into the Gorge on the Washington side.  Knowing Blue Eyes would have the day off I told him I wanted to go for a hike.  There are tons of hikes in Oregon and Southwest Washington and I spent days trying to figure out which one I wanted to go on.  I really wanted to do a “new” hike, but I also wanted it to be SPECTACULAR — as I read on the various hikes I would find myself falling back on the familiar, hikes I had done that I knew were great – Dog Mountain, Angels Rest, Beacon Rock, etc.    I finally decided to go for “new” and chose Falls Creek, north of Carson, Washington. 

It was a lovely, lovely day full of sun and clear blue sky.  It was a little over an hour’s drive from his house and every inch of it was natural beauty.  The Columbia River was to our right for most of the drive, and green trees all around.  Once we turned left toward Carson I fretted a little (yeah, I know this doesn’t surprise you, since we all know I like to fret). 

I thought “geez, we’re going away from the river, the beautiful Columbia River – maybe this particular hike is a mistake. . . “

After driving 14 miles out on this particular road, we turned onto a gravel road that we followed for two miles.  While the forest around us was pretty, two miles on a gravel road, with large pot holes and only enough space for one vehicle . . . well . . . let’s just say I worried some more.

Finally the road opened up to the trailhead parking area.  It was around 10, and there weren’t many cars.  Maybe 8 or 9.  That meant one or two things.  It was either a sucky hike or a well-kept secret.  I hoped it was the latter.

When we got out onto the trail I was instantly assured it was the latter.

BeginningofTrail

The trail wound up along-side Falls Creek.  The creek was a fast-moving piece of water, it was gorgeous and loud.  Every now and then the trail would turn away from the creek and send you into the woods and it would become incredibly quiet.  But the second you turned back towards the creek the noise increased dramatically.  It was amusing. 

Trail looking at water

BlueEyesOnBridge

TrailAlongsideWater

We reached the first official “falls” on Falls Creek and it was really pretty.  I think the green surrounding the falls added to the beauty. 

FirstOne

I was feeling pretty good about my choice in hikes, but when we came around the final corner a mile further on and saw THE Fall Creek Falls I knew we’d hit pay dirt.  Spectacular was certainly achieved.

THE Falls 

MebyFalls

blueEyesFalls

After the hike we headed into Stevenson to Walking Man Brewing where we sat in the sun and drank beer.  Then we headed to Hood River to watch the wind/kite surfers in the Gorge.  When we arrived there weren’t any out on the river which was totally disappointing. 

WalkingManBrewing

We went to Big Horse Brewery (yep, in case there was a question, we like beer)

BigHorseAles

and had a late lunch/dinner.  As we sat at Horsefeathers, the restaurant at the Brewery, (this isn’t my picture of Horsefeathers, I snatched it off the internet, since I neglected to take one of the building)

Horsefeathers

we people watched and were delighted to see surfers getting into the water.

After dinner we sat down by the river and watched.  Usually there are hundreds out on the water, and there likely would have been that many later on in the evening but the few we saw were incredibly impressive and fun to watch.

WindKiteSurfing

Saturday night we went to the movies again and saw The Purge.  Not my typical kind of movie, but I went anyway (because I am a movie freak).   It was an interesting concept, but I’m not quite sure it was worth the price of admission.  The jury in my mind is still out on it, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t like it.

Sunday morning I went home to find my kitchen a mess after the apparent 19/20 year olds gathering that happened the night before.  I cleaned my kitchen before I even took my bag upstairs, that’s how icky and gross it was.  When I finally got upstairs I found the oldest boy wasn’t there.  A later text informed me that after visiting with his dad he had decided to go to Sun River with some of his friends for a couple of days.  So I had the rest of the day/afternoon to myself.  I did some laundry, mowed my front lawn, picked up dog poop before trying to mow my back lawn, couldn’t get the mower to start when I reached the back lawn and took that as a sign.  So I went to the movies alone and saw Now You See Me

THAT was a good movie. 

All in all it was a wonderful GREAT weekend.  With no running, but at least I hiked.

While I don’t often feel the need to run away from home, and certainly don’t get the opportunity to do so with so little effort, I really, really did NEED this weekend away.  It was fun, relaxing, refreshing and everything a doctor might order.  So grateful for Blue Eyes. . .

CnTCheek

Have a good week people!

 

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It was a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest!  The sun was shining, the skies were blue, the otherwise nonexistent wind was a gentle whisper when you needed it, and the temperatures were in the 70s.  It was summer perfection at the end of spring.  A perfect day!

In my world any day is a great day for running, but a flawless day, like this one, demanded I put on a running skirt, match it with a wicking shirt, lace up my bright and vibrant Saucony’s and hit the road for a run.  As luck would have it this particular day on my calendar was already booked with a marathon!

When compared to other, more prevalent marathons, the Timberline Marathon is very small.  While the Portland Marathon draws 12,000 to 15,000 runners, (and I don’t doubt Timberline could draw that many too), due to its location Timberline has a cap of 300 combined for all of their events (a marathon and two halfs).  This year there were 104 marathoners and I couldn’t have been more excited to be one of them.

The event location was Timothy Lake.  It’s one of many dazzling lakes in the Mt. Hood National Forest, which sits approximately 50 miles southeast of Portland, Oregon.  Timothy Lake is a popular camping destination for Oregonians, offering campers an ideal setting to boat, horseback ride, bike, hike or run with spectacular views of Mt. Hood in the backdrop.  As excited as I was to get up there and run, I never imagined the day would be so packed with lessons I needed to learn.

The marathon started at 8:30 that morning.  Since it was a two hour drive from my house to Timothy Lake I was up at 4:30 preparing for my day; eating my pre-race meal, drinking water, filling up my hydration pack, packing my Garmin, iPod, mosquito repellant, etc.  I managed to get out of the house by 5:30!  Since I’m naturally slow (thanks to genes passed down, with love, by my mother) 5:30 was a victory!  Lesson learned:  not hitting snooze is the way to roll.  When I pulled out onto the street, I had to stop at the corner and take a picture.  It seemed novel, and worth documenting, that I could see the mountain I was headed to from my driveway.  But then again it is the highest peak in Oregon!  Lesson learned:  beauty is all around me.

Mt Hood from my House

The drive up was uneventful but pleasant and only required I stop twice to use the bathroom.  Lesson learned:  I may not EAT McDonalds food, but they are ideal for quick bathroom stops.  I arrived at the Ranger Station, where the run started, shortly before 7:30.  It gave me time to pick up my bib and t-shirt, hook up with my two running chick friends and use the porta-potty before the 8:30 start.  The mosquitos were fat and relentless, diving in pairs at uncovered skin and being outright annoying.  Apparently, as part of a mosquito’s buffet, I am a delicacy and never fail to be bitten to the extreme.  I hurried back to my car and silently thanked my mother for giving me a stack of Off! Deep Woods Repellent Towelettes!  I ripped a couple open and took great care to wipe down my legs, arms, neck, back and face!  Instantly the mosquitos became a non-factor, nothing more than dive bombing acrobats on the stage of someone else’s skin!  They left me alone and I was grateful.  Lesson learned: never enter mosquito territory without the Off!

As the Race Director made random announcements and told us how long before the start, the group of runners waiting to begin their day’s journey of 26.2 miles gave off an electric energy.  It’s an energy I love, an energy that keeps my passion for running strong and consistent because I’m reminded I’m not alone, I’m not crazy, and I’m part of a mighty group of people who find peace, solace and joy in pushing their bodies to an extreme any other person would likely reject outright.  Lesson learned:  runner’s rock!  Amidst the power-driven energy the chicks and I talked, laughed, stood in line for our last nervous pee, and took “before” pictures. 

MeNA

Then it was time to get in line.  To ensure our timing chips registered on the computer we were directed to run, one at a time, across the starting mats.  Given there were only 104 of us it didn’t take as long as it could have taken and I was over the mat and on my way within the first ten minutes.

Tranquility is found when I run on wooded trails.  The hum of machinery, din of traffic, and vibration of people talking is replaced with the hush of trees, songs of birds and the often melodic sound of insects.  It’s an opportunity to breathe deeply, release what weighs me down and see, with clear eyes, the beauty that surrounds me with gratefulness in my heart.  While I was anxious to see Timothy Lake I enjoyed the peacefulness of the trail as it made its way away from the Ranger Station, down quite a hill and then up to a ridge that offered, after quite a steep climb, the first view of Timothy Lake.  I was so happy to be there.  Lesson learned: a magnificent view is worth the wait.

THE First View Timothy Lake

The natural avenue of trees and thick mossy foliage was tight, shady and cool at times but yet the sun, where the trees allowed, kissed the earth with gentle warmth to remind me it was truly a beautiful day.  Down, around, through the trees I ran towards the lake.  Periodically I passed, or was passed by other runners, but for the most part I was alone in the woods and enjoying it.  Lesson learned: time alone is a gift.

Timberline Marathon

The first of three aid stations was at the 5 mile mark and after running for an hour I was sure I had to be getting close.  I might have known with more certainty, or possibly cared less, if I had remembered to pull my Garmin and iPod out of my bag in the car, but I hadn’t and all I could think about was my dire need to pee and how it was far too early to be squatting in the woods.  Lesson learned:  maybe a little less water before the race starts.

Finally I entered the clearing where Aid Station 1 sat, rushed into the porta-potty and after that, grabbed a cup of Gatorade.  I thanked the volunteer and headed back out into the woods, hoping I wouldn’t need another porta-potty for at least 5 miles since that’s when the next opportunity would present itself. 

It was about this time when I realized my hydration backpack was much too heavy.  It was a new item that I had run with once before, on a 24 mile trail run, but it hadn’t been as cumbersome as it seemed now.  Friends familiar with the Timberline Marathon had stressed the importance of being self-sufficient with respect to food since the aid stations only provided water and Gatorade.  On reflection I’m sure I took this suggestion too far because it felt as if I had packed enough food to survive in the wild, with no human contact, for at least five days.  It was uncomfortable and distracting.   Lesson learned:  don’t pack as if it’s the end of days.  26.2 miles is not that far.

As I continued on I came upon another runner and we started to talk.  Since I like to talk (understatement), and love to meet new runners, I was grateful for the distraction.   She was from Florida, in town for a conference and had made the decision to come a day early so she could run the marathon.  She was a strong runner, with many marathons under her belt, but being from flat Florida she was having more trouble with the elevation gains than she had expected.  She had set her Garmin to allow her to run five minutes and walk one and asked me if I wanted to run that sequence with her for a while.  The conversation was enjoyable and the distraction seemed necessary so I jumped at the opportunity.  Lesson learned: friends can be made anywhere.

By the next aid station, at mile 10, we had begun to run through the campgrounds that surround the lake and had crossed over the dam.  People were everywhere, playing in water, laying in the shade, fishing.  They were more welcome distractions.  I ate a Lara Bar, which did nothing to lighten my load, and continued on with the run.

Timothy Lake

By the third aid station, at approximately mile 11.5, I was struggling.  My quads felt tight, I was getting tinges of pain in my back and my ankles were cramping.  My ankles had rolled a few times while running and were really sore, but the cramping was a new and weird sensation.  It hurt.  Lesson learned:  cramping can happen in the oddest locations.

The pain and discomfort I felt was slowing me down and in turn slowing my running partner down so I told her to go on without me.  At that point I knew I was coming up on the intersection where I would be offered the choice of turning left to start my second loop around the lake, or turning right toward the finish line.  For at least half a mile I considered turning right and calling it good with the half.  I rationalized a half was better than none.  When I saw the trees with the markers a few yards ahead my mind was saying “alright I’m out of here, right it is.”  But when I actually got there, without hesitation, I went left.  Lesson learned: the mind is no match for the will of a runner.   

The left turn had me climbing up onto a really cool log bridge.  It was my favorite bridge the first time around the lake, but the climb up onto it the second time was painful.  Ironically, I had forgotten that shortly after crossing the log bridge you had to climb up the steep hill (that seemed more extreme on the second loop) to the initial glimpse of the lake.  My legs screamed at me but they kept going.

The log bridge

Once I reached the top the running was better and the ankles seemed to work out their issues.  My legs still hurt but they were able to keep moving along the path that fluctuated with rolling hills, and flat spots.  There were multiple trees down across the path that you had to climb over.  The first time around I jumped over most of them as I continued to run, this time, to avoid falling, I slowly climbed over them.  While I didn’t fall, I got a couple of good scrapes climbing over the trees.  Lesson learned:  when you’re tired, fallen trees can be dangerous.

I realized I hadn’t seen another runner for quite some time.  This small realization was an open invitation for my mind to start its attempt to defeat me.  Lesson learned:  the mind is powerful.

First  View of Timothy Lake Timberline Marathon

I knew without doubt I was the last runner and it was a first for me.   I’m the queen of encouragement.  Novice runners can count on me to help them drink the runner’s kool-aid as I assure them that where they finish in a race doesn’t matter.  What matters is that they run, that they move, that they keep going with relentless, forward progress.  But as I trudged along, in a little pain, with a heavy pack on my back, alone, so very far from the finish and without a doubt last, I lost my composure and I cried.  Lesson learned: sometimes crying is necessary.

When I stopped crying I tried to figure out where I was.  I guessed I was about 2 miles from the first aid station, which would mean when I reached it I would have approximately 8.5 miles to the finish.  There was a time limit on the marathon of 6.5 hours.  I looked at my phone, saw it was twenty minutes before 1 and worked out a “plan.”  If I could get to the aid station by 1 p.m., I would have two hours to get to the finish.  I knew the average person could walk 4 miles an hour, so even if I walked I could likely make it by 3, and I didn’t expect to just walk.  This realization calmed me a little as I said out loud “doesn’t matter when you finish, it just matters THAT you finish.”  Lesson learned:  having a plan is important. 

By the time I reached the aid station my phone battery was dead, so I didn’t know what time it was.  It was probably a blessing since knowing the time could have sent me into a tailspin and heightened my stress about finishing.  Lesson learned: sometimes electronic devices can be detrimental to your spirit.  

Relentless Forward Progress

I headed back into the woods towards the next aid station.  My legs were heavy, my ankles were sore, my feet were tired.  I could feel pebbles, twigs and the like in my shoes.  One particular pebble in my right shoe was under my heel and every time I stepped down on it sharp pains would shoot up my leg.  Had I been of sound mind I would have stopped, took off the shoe, got rid of the pebble and other debris and continued on.  I was emotionally unstable, however, and my thought process didn’t work like that.  Instead I thought “if I stop to take out the pebble I will waste time that I don’t have, better to continue on and live with the pain.”  Lesson learned: stupidity knows no bounds.

During one of my walking breaks (which truly wasn’t that much faster than my running pace) a man approached me from the other direction.  At first I thought he was a mirage because it had been so long since I had seen anyone other than the volunteer at the aid station.  He smiled at me and said “are you okay to finish?”  It took a second for me to figure out he was part of the race support.

I said “yep, I’m okay.  I’ll finish.  Pretty sure I’m last though.”  Then I asked him if he knew what time it was. 

Instead of telling me the time he said “you’re about 15 minutes from the dam, and it’s about 5 miles after that.”  With that he turned and continued his walk the other way.  I was irritated with him for not answering my question.  But after a little more walking I figured he had done me a favor.  The time would not have been as helpful as the 15 minutes and 5 miles.  Instead of sending me into a panic, his information gave me hope.  Lesson learned: what we think we want is not always what we need.

Fifteen minutes sounded so close, but as I continued the pebble in my shoe began to feel like a boulder and when I ran my ankles hurt so deeply I imagined my legs would snap right off.  So I walked. 

I was dejected, disappointed, frustrated and felt incredibly alone.  I cried again.  Sobbed.  Questioned my ability as a runner, wondered why I thought this was something I could do.  Laughed, through the tears, at the mere idea of me running and completing a 50 mile event.   Decided I would hang up my shoes and try something else.  Swimming sounded good.  With that decision made I wiped my face, sat on a stump, took off my shoes and shook out a pile of crap that had accumulated.  When I put the shoes back on the difference was astounding.  My rational brain yelled loudly:  “DUH!” 

Within five minutes I came upon a clearing where an older man sat in his chair.  I’d guess he was in his late 60s or early 70s.  Because I hadn’t reached the dam, which is where the campgrounds began, it was odd to see him out there.  He hadn’t been there the first time around.  He saw me and reached for his noise maker.  He cheered at me, told me I was doing great and then said “this here is 21+ miles.”

I said, “really?  Then I’m closer than I thought I was.” 

He said “yep, you’ve made it!  Congratulations, you’re doing great.”

As I continued on, doing the math in my head, I realized he was way wrong.  There was absolutely no way I could be at 21+ miles since I hadn’t reached the dam.  And while I was at it, I realized the first guy I met had lied to me as well.  I had certainly been moving for longer than 15 minutes and yet I still hadn’t reached the dam!  I cursed at them both and considered going back to the old man and pushing him out of his chair, but I knew that was silly.  Lesson learned:  see encouragement for what it is, encouragement.

Mt Hood Timothy Lake

Finally, after what seemed like forever I came out of the woods into the lot that approaches the dam.  The sun felt amazing on my skin and seeing people enjoying the laziness of camping made me happy and lightened my heart.  I ran a little and it didn’t hurt like it had, so I ran some more.  As I ran across the dam, towards the second aid station I decided possibly I’d give running one more chance.  Lesson learned: decisions should not be made in the middle of a crisis.

At the aid station I realized the same two men that had been at the first aid station were now at the second aid station.  The older gentleman smiled at me and asked me how I was doing.  I assured him that while I was hurting, I was fine.  He asked if there was anyone behind me and I said, “nope, pretty positive I’m the last one.” 

He said “alrighty then we’ll see you at the next aid station!” I laughed.

Hearing myself say out loud, for the second time, that I was the last one to finish was cathartic in a way.  It didn’t seem as bad as thinking about it in my head.  I felt less like a failure and became more in tune with humble gratefulness for my ability to actually finish 26.2 miles.  Lesson learned:  humility is powerful.

I made my way along the trail that travels through the countless camp grounds.  As I passed people they cheered me on, told me l was doing great, that I was almost there, that I should be so proud.  Every time someone said anything to me, I smiled and said “thank you” and then as soon as I was out of their line of vision the tears would stream down my face.  The tears were for mixed reasons:  I truly was almost there, and kind words are uplifting.  Lesson learned: don’t miss an opportunity to say a kind word to someone.  It might help more than you’ll ever know.

I got to the final aid station and the same two men were waiting.  The older man smiled again at me and said “are you still last?”  I laughed at him.  To you as a reader, his question may seem rude, but he really said it in the kindest way possible.  There was no malice behind his words and I took it the way he intended.

I said “yep, still last.”

He said “the girl in front of you is less than a minute ahead of you!”  The excitement in his voice was incredible.  He continued “I swear, she just came through here, if you hurry I’m SURE you can pass her!” 

It made me laugh again.  A lot.  I thanked him for the information and for just being out there and then I made my way back into the woods.  I was surprised and oddly grateful that there was someone else in front of me.  So close.  I hadn’t seen another runner in hours and the idea that there was one relatively close made me feel not so alone.  Of course, I immediately doubted the validity of his statement, thinking once again someone was simply trying to make me feel better, but as I rounded a corner I saw another runner ahead of me.  As she approached a switchback on the trail I was able to see it wasn’t just any runner, it was one of my girlfriends!  She waved at me and I yelled “hey!” with a smile in my voice.  It was the first real smile I’d felt in at least 10 miles.  I had no need, or desire, to catch up to her, no need, or desire, to pass her.  Merely seeing her and knowing that she was out there gave me comfort.   Lesson learned: a familiar friendly face is worth a million bucks at times.

Finally I arrived at that intersection I’d come to before and with a heavy sigh of relief I turned right and put my momentum into the 1.5 miles to the finish.  It was a brutal mile long climb up a mountain and I felt every stinking inch of it in every part of my body and then I was on even ground and headed for the real finish.

For multiple reasons I started crying again.  I was exhausted, my whole body ached, my feet were on fire, my fingers were big fat sausages that screamed in pain when I tried to make a fist, and I felt dizzy.  I didn’t know what time it was, but I was fairly certain it was beyond the 6 ½ hour time limit.  I wondered if the finish line would still be there.  I wondered if I’d get a medal.  I wondered if I’d come around to find nothing.  I wondered what that would feel like and how I would handle it.

I reached the clearing, wiped my face, put one foot in front of the other in a flat out run and made my way around the final corner to see both of my girlfriends, their husbands, the finish line and the timing clock still ticking.  After everything it was finally over and as bad as I felt, and geez did I feel bad, I was elated that I had finished. 

Mecrossingfinish

As I caught my breath the cutest little girl walked up to me and handed me a medal.  As I put it around my neck I felt, without an ounce of doubt, it was the most well deserved marathon medal I had ever received. 

Finishers Medal Timberline

I’m not sure why this marathon was so difficult for me.  There are endless possibilities:  I hadn’t trained enough, my nutrition was off, I didn’t get enough sleep, I didn’t wear the right shoes, or something else in the grand scheme wasn’t right.  The other possibility is that I simply had a bad run.

I know bad runs happen.  While it would be ideal for them to happen at times other than while I’m running a marathon, I can’t deny that this particular bad run taught and reminded me of some great life lessons.

Life is not a cake walk;

Through challenge comes triumph;

Anything is possible; and

I am stronger than I think I am!

 

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