Happy Mother’s Day

I sent this to my Janes today …

Hello moms,
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am feeling the effects of May madness for moms. Maybe they invented mother’s day for May because it is the month when we get completely squeezed out of the picture of our own lives. In seasons past the Janes’ attendance rate in May always fell off and everyone felt “guilty” for missing …. so a late April goal race is perfect for peace of running mind. But what about peace in the rest of our lives? I was searching around on the net to find a suitable quote or reading to give words to this feeling and here’s a nugget I found. The writer is a blogger [Julie Leung] who links to SoE, by the way! I am giving you the story half-way in (the first part is that she had some scary abdominal pain and went to the ER …)

“I’ll fast forward the rest of the story. Ted and the girls waited for me for three hours while I sat in the exam room, staring at the gray curtain pulled around me from the ceiling. Blood and urine were tested, my body was poked and examined to eliminate various possibilities (dooce’s post yesterday was an appropriate one for me). Although the nurse on the phone had mentioned an x-ray and so did the ER nurse practitioner at first, it seemed that imaging wasn’t necessary after all. I had an IV for the first time and medicine was delivered through the tube in my arm. When the pain went away, that seemed to eliminate the serious possibilities. I was sent home with a note stating my diagnosis of Abdominal Pain of Unknown Cause.

I’m grateful! I’m thankful for my patient husband, Ted, and our daughters who waited for me. I’m glad my nurse practitioner was so helpful, explaining everything. I’m thankful nothing major was wrong. And I’m thankful for Dooce and her sense of humor again in her timely post yesterday that gave me a smile in the midst of the ER: As I lay there, feet perched in horse stirrups stamped with ZOLOFT ZOLOFT ZOLOFT, I thought to myself, please. Take your time. This, this is just so lovely.

The tests and monitoring though revealed a couple concerns that I need to pursue with my primary care physician next week. I feel frustrated. I guess I still think of myself as young. I think of myself as healthy. I eat well, for the most part. I exercise. How can I have problems?

I’ve lost a brother and others I’ve loved in life. I spent much of my childhood seeing my brother sick, watching him in the hospital, knowing he could die. Yet it was something else to meet the possibility of my own mortality for the first time face to face.

I cried last night. I was tired. I was exhausted after days of busyness and dehydration, summer weather finally arriving in Seattle. I cry easily and it is a way I react to stressful situations, my response, my release of feelings. I didn’t want to go to the ER. That evening, we had planned to take our other car to the shop. We’ve been planning to service the other car for months and we had finally made the appointment. I wanted to get that task done. However, I knew I didn’t feel well enough to drive an hour to the shop. I felt guilty that Ted and the girls had to wait for me hours and hours. I kept wondering how they were doing. I worried how much this trip to the ER would cost, and what effect it would have on our future applications for health insurance. Alone in my exam room I finally had a chance to rest and let down after intense days spent running to activities against a ticking clock.

Sure I was scared. But I think I may have also been mourning my youth. Yes, some people are sick from birth, like my brother. However, I guess I assumed I would be healthy until I was older.

Ronni at Time Goes By posted a refreshing essay last week (possibly written by Anne LaMott) that’s stayed in my mind, especially this paragraph.

And I know the truth that l am not going to live forever, and this has set me free. Eleven years ago, when my friend Pammy was dying at the age of 37 we went shopping at Macy’s. She was in a wheelchair, with a wig and three weeks to live. I tried on a short dress and came out to model it for Pammy. I asked if she thought it made me look big in the thighs, and she said, so kindly, “Annie? You just don’t have that kind of time.” I live by this story.

Recently I also discovered Rhymes with Drowning, a blog written by a man who lost the love of his life to an unusual cancer last year. She was 35. His words leave me without words and remind me of truth, perhaps especially because his family is young, like ours.

I’m not going to live forever. This morning may be my last. Or I could have another ten thousand sunrises to see. Either way, I now know I need to take better care of myself. My first duty is to my daughters. But that also means taking care of their mommy, not ignoring her needs for theirs. I don’t want my days to be overloaded with what shouldn’t be important or merit even a moment of consideration. There’s both an urgency and a peace in me. What do I want to see painted on the canvas or sung in the song that is my existence here? Who will know I loved them? What will last from my life? I’d been planning to examine myself and yesterday’s emergency room trip only intensified my desire to simplify and focus. How am I spending the hours I’ve been given? What is it I want to do before I die? What am I wasting with worry about silly things? The clock is ticking. I just don’t have that kind of time.”

-from: http://www.julieleung.com/archives/001961.html

Sprockets?

After hanging on to questionable fitness since January, I managed to box my way out of a paper bag last night at the Duke Twilight meet to break a US age group record in the 1,500m. I ran 4:43 . . . still not a sub-5:00 mile (which was my “radical” goal this year – ha! how odd that is to actually write down – radical goal – when I used to run mile repeats between 4:50 and 5:00). Anyway, after the race an “old guy” friend of my said the most sensible thing: “Just think, Joan, you won’t have to hurt like that for another five years – when you turn 50!” Indeed. Does anyone remember the Mike Myers character on Saturday Night Live named Deiter? At the end of his faux-European talk show, Sprockets, he would look at the camera and announce, “And now it is time on Sprockets when we dance,” then launch into hilarious gyrations. Well, now it is time on Nesbits when I dance.

mike meyers

U2 LYRICS

“Running To Stand Still”

And so she woke up
Woke up from where she was
Lying still
Said I gotta do something
About where we’re going

Step on a steam train
Step out of the driving rain, maybe
Run from the darkness in the night
Singing ha, ah la la la de day
Ah la la la de day
Ah la la de day

Sweet the sin
Bitter taste in my mouth
I see seven towers
But I only see one way out

You got to cry without weeping
Talk without speaking
Scream without raising your voice

You know I took the poison
From the poison stream
Then I floated out of here
Singing…ha la la la de day
Ha la la la de day
Ha la la de day

She runs through the streets
With her eyes painted red
Under black belly of cloud in the rain
In through a doorway she brings me
White gold and pearls stolen from the sea
She is raging
She is raging
And the storm blows up in her eyes
She will…

Suffer the [needle] chill
She’s running to stand…

Still.

a cryptic message from A.A. Milne

Puppy and I

I met a Man as I went walking:
We got talking,
Man and I.
“Where are you going to, Man?” I said
(I said to the Man as he went by).
“Down to the village, to get some bread.
Will you come with me?” “No, not I.”

I met a horse as I went walking;
We got talking,
Horse and I.
“Where are you going to, Horse, today?”
(I said to the Horse as he went by).
“Down to the village to get some hay.
Will you come with me?” “No, not I.”

I met a Woman as I went walking;
We got talking,
Woman and I.
“Where are you going to, Woman, so early?”
(I said to the Woman as she went by).
“Down to the village to get some barley.
Will you come with me?” “No, not I.”

I met some Rabbits as I went walking;
We got talking,
Rabbits and I.
“Where are you going in your brown fur coats?”
(I said to the Rabbits as they went by).
“Down to the village to get some oats.
Will you come with us?” “No, not I.”

I met a Puppy as I went walking;
We got talking,
Puppy and I.
“Where are you going this nice fine day?”
(I said to the Puppy as he went by).
“Up to the hills to roll and play.”
“I’ll come with you, Puppy,” said I.

kids running in the olden days

E-L-I-T-E status … oh, yeah!

The director/sponsor/guiding spirit of CAC, Bobby Biles (co-owner of Fleet Feet Sports, Carrboro) just e-mailed me this marvelous news:

Dear Bobby:

It is my pleasure to inform you that our Application Review Subcommittee has approved the amended application for the Carrboro Athletics Club to receive “USATF Elite Development Club” designation.

Please note that EDC designations expire at the end of each Olympic quadrennium (December 2008), at which time all clubs must re-apply for EDC status. USATF may also revoke the EDC designation at any time during the current quadrennium for reasons that include but are not limited to; failure to comply with USATF membership requirements; failure to adhere to USATF competition rules and operating regulations; violating USATF/IAAF anti-doping rules; or violating applicable municipal, state, or federal laws.

Andy Martin at USATF will be sending you the USA Track & Field Elite Development Club logo which you can begin using immediately for Carrboro Athletics Club correspondence and promotional activities.

We congratulate Carrboro Athletics Club for helping the USATF Club Council to pursue its mission to enhance and expand opportunities for USATF open level, club-based team competition in track & field, cross country, long distance running, and race walking.

We welcome Carrboro Athletics Club to the USA Track & Field Family of Elite Development Clubs !!

Sincerely,

Skip Stolley
Chair, USATF Club Council
Director, VS Athletics Track Club

We may be a tiny pinpoint right now … but at least we’re on the map. fleet feet logo

what would you do?

My eldest daughter just sent me this essay and I am wondering what you would do if you got an e-mail like this from your kid (?). Please note that we are not big carnivores over here; we do eat chicken a few nights a week and red meat when its on sale. When I claim I’m going to get a bumper sticker that reads: animals are food, it really is a joke. I just like to be ANTI every now and then. Mostly, every now.

Meatless Madness:

An essay by SJ Kerwin on why vegetarianism is right for Sarah Jane and why her parents should allow it.

Meals in most homes around the country generally contain a great deal of meat, and our home is no exception. Maybe we have a bit less than in some homes, but there still is a great deal of dead animal in our diet. Chicken. Turkey. Salami. Chicken. Burgers. Ham. And did I mention chicken? Yeah, we eat our fair share, and I, Sarah Jane Kerwin, feel like I no longer want to continue this practice by becoming a vegetarian.

Probably your first question is why. Why would she want to give up that succulent meat? Well, there’s always the standard: I like animals, and I don’t think the way they are treated is fair, especially on factory farms. I mean, how different are dogs from cows, budgies from chickens, cats from pigs? Or, if you prefer, whales to cows, monkeys to chickens, sloths to pigs? They’re all animals! And the animals we eat are not treated well at all.

In the United States alone, over 6 billion animals are slaughtered for food, and 90% of those are raised in confinement. The factory chickens eaten alone could stretch to the moon and back twice if you laid them out beak to toe. They are crowded together on the floors of factories, while egg-laying hens are stuck together in tiny cages where they get about 1/2 a square foot each. And you know what else? Free range just means they weren’t caged, it doesn’t state that they ever lived outside. Perhaps they only saw daylight on the way to the slaughterhouse. Pigs live in tiny pens and are referred to as “crops”, “downer” cattle (the ones with problems) are still sold to humans, and dairy cows produce up to 10 times the milk they would naturally. Not to mention that even though the animals are supposed to be unconscious before they are killed, the law doesn’t apply to poultry and is rarely enforced.

Maybe you’re thinking, “So? Just get “happy” meat!” But really, why should humans be able to dominate like that? Along with that, I don’t think it’s right to eat something you couldn’t kill yourself. No WAY could I ever kill any of the animals we eat unless the situation was dire, so I don’t feel right eating them.

http://www.peta.org/
and for a specific video
http://www.petatv.com/tvpopup/Prefs.asp?video=meet_your_meat

Not convinced yet? Fine. There are other reasons. Did you know that being a vegetarian could help globally? Meat wastes land, grain (7 pounds of grain is required to get just 1 pound of pork, 5/1 beef, 3/1 chicken), water (on average, it takes 2,500 gallons for a single pound of beef). It also pollutes, loses topsoil crucial for plants (for every pound of beef, 35 pounds of topsoil erode yet it takes 200-1000 years for the earth to produce just an inch.), increases desertification, and clears forests! Some people think that if everyone in the world gave up meat, world hunger would end. Now I don’t know about that, but I do know that it would help get a good start on the problem!

Of course there’s always the selfish reason, too. Not the one I’m going for, but it’s a perk: health! Vegetarians are (overall) healthy. It reduces the chances of heart disease and some kinds of cancer, and is just all around less fatty (even though I don’t really care about that).

Most parents who are against vegetarianism are because they are afraid of the loss of Protein and Iron. But there are many other sources, even WITH the small amounts of dairy I get, to get these important dietary elements. Protein is present in legumes, soy foods, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and eggs. Iron is found in beans, figs, apricots, spinach, seeds, raisins, and tofu. Also, you can increase the Vitamin C increase to help absorb the non-heme iron (iron from plants, versus heme iron from meat). Cranberry juice actually has MORE Vitamin C than orange juice, and some other good sources include red peppers, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, raspberries, and sweet potatoes. By eating a balanced diet and adding some soy products, I can make it fine.

Yes, I have a habit of being picky. But my palate is developing and maturing, and I would be willing to try a lot more international and interesting cuisine. I’ll make sure my diet is full of all the colors of the rainbow, and eat plenty of vitamins. Other cultures have more vegetarian lifestyles and I could pick up a few things, and I think I could find a great deal of good veggie recipes in basic cookbooks ranging from The Joy of Cooking to Vegetables Every Day.

Recipes…that brings me to the cooking and shopping bit. My diet shouldn’t make more work for YOU, and it won’t. I’ll cook every bit of my dinner if I have to, and go shopping after Weaver Street every Sunday for my weekly ingredients. Maybe I’ll even cook for you sometimes! Don’t worry about that. You’ll barely notice the difference, except for the fact that when I ask what’s for dinner, it’ll be to find out whether I have the night off because you’re cooking, say, pasta. I just hope you don’t mind sharing the kitchen!

I have a couple good friends who can help give me tips on this kind of thing: Galen who used to be vegan (as you know), and Josh, who’s been vegetarian for 9 months. They can give me recipes, brand names, and moral support. That way, I’ll be able to get underway with assistance from someone who knows what they’re doing.

By the way, I hope all this time you weren’t thinking that I’m trying to convince you to change anything in your lifestyle or say eating meat is bad. I just don’t have the desire to eat it anymore. I don’t care what you eat, and I hope you don’t care what I eat. You know I have a healthy, balanced diet already. I’m just replacing meat with soy and other substitutes and I’ll eat a vitamin every day!

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

I checked a book out of the library for you to look at if you desire called Help! My Child Has Stopped Eating Meat by Carol J. Adams

Also, here are some more resources:

A Teen’s Guide to Going Vegetarian by Judy Krizmanic (This is where I got a lot of my information)

http://www.peta.org/ (as listed above)

http://www.goveg.com/

There is a vegetarian starter ‘kit’ downloadable or orderable from goveg.com or outside the Chapel Hill public library.

meatless

bare bones race results

Results from our CAC opening week-end of spring racing:

UNC home meet:

800m – Jason Jabaut 1:50.9; second place (outkicked by a dude in a body suit)
1,500m – John Hinton 3:53.88; first place in a brilliantly run race (were John already 45, he would have broken the world record by 5 seconds)
1,500m – Trish Nervo 4:39.24; 6th place – 13 seconds faster than her last mile outing
steeplechase – Alex L’Heureux 9:10.03; 1st place in what amounted to a time trial, after not having steepled for 3 years.

Cooper Bridge 10k road race:

Devin Swann 30:37 – 11th overall; $200.00; first American; 1:20 improvement from last year’s Cooper Bridge (Devin trains with CAC, but races for Raleigh Running Outfitters)
Brock Phillips 32:11 – 21st overall (first in 19-21 age group); 27 second PR
Sarah Hallenback 38:02- 5th in age group; 26 overall women – PR
Caroline Blatti 38:27- 6th in age gotup; 28 overall women – PR

I’ll save the best for last ….. Fleet Feet Carrboro owner, Bobby Biles, destroyed his radical goal of breaking 7:40 (that’s 7 HOURS, not minutes) in the Umstead 50-miler by finishing 2nd male in a 7:17, which secures him a coveted primo starting position at Comrades. Bobby raced in a CAC singlet!!

My adrenalin level was through the roof all week-end!
Next up, Duke Invitational.

once and future king …

I received this e-mail from Jason Jabaut, our resident “sub 4-minute miler.”
Hope he doesn’t mind my posting it!

“Here is a member of the 2007 CAC Team accompanied by a member of the
2025 CAC Team. The latter is excited to be a future prospect for the
group, and wanted me to tell everyone that he’ll be taking down all
the CAC Records from 800 meters on up.”

jabaut and lucas

… swing

swing

“Rowers have a word for this frictionless state: swing … Recall the pure joy of riding on a backyard swing: an easy cycle of motion, the momentum coming from the swing itself. The swing carries us; we do not force it. We pump our legs to drive our arc higher, but gravity does most of the work. We are not so much swinging as being swung. The boat swings you. The shell wants to move fast: speed sings in its lines and nature. Our job is simply to work with the shell, to stop holding back with our thrashing struggles to go faster. Trying too hard sabotages boat speed. Trying becomes striving and striving undoes itself. Social climbers strive to be aristocrats but their efforts prove them no such thing. Aristocrats do not strive; they have already arrived. Swing is a state of arrival.”

– Craig Lambert (Mind Over Water)

this little light of mine …

wednesday

Since around 1986 I have been going to the track at 5:45pm on Wednesday nights either to run a work-out or coach one. In the early days, it was just Austin P. and me doing the training sessions my British coach, Harry Wilson, mailed to me every three weeks (on that super-thin air mail paper … oooh, how exciting to feel the weightlessness of that missive!). Later, some other men joined the group – all duffers, like me now, training for the local Godiva summer Track club all-comers series – and one other “fast chick,” Betsy. I don’t know who came up with the name Team Wednesday, Betsy or me, but it stuck. We have been calling the Wednesday night training crew Team Wednesday ever since. There were some lean years after I retired from “elite” racing (in 2000); I think at one point John Hinton and my husband, Dave, were the only two members. And, back then, I didn’t even go the track to time them b/c I was home with my little ones; I phoned in the work-outs, so I was there in spirit only. John and Dave were like two old priests, keeping the prayer vigil going late into the night – taking turns leading intervals and sharing the burden of keeping the candle lit.

Our Team Wedesday candle is burning brightly now! We are officially the Carrboro Athletics Club, but for the sake of tradition (and, perhaps, sentimentality), I am keeping the list-serv name TeamWednesday. Two nights ago there were 6 women and 7 men doing the following work-out:

800m steady
jog to road mile
mile at 5k pace on roads
jog back to track
800m faster that #1
jog 200m
3 X 200m steady, with 200 jog recovery
400 slow jog
800m faster than #2
4 X 100m on the grass … for a total of 5,000m.

I could tell you how thrilled I was to see times like 2:01 and 1:55 on the 2nd and 3rd 800m in the men’s group … or how pleased I was to see the back of the women’s pack hanging tough onto the front, despite the fast [and faster] pace … or how Old Man, John Hinton, ripped a 2:01 at the end of the work-out at age 45. I could tell you how the women yelled for the men and the men cheered on the women after they were finished. I could tell you how I felt like I was 25 years old again, flying back and forth across the infield between the start and the 200m mark, calling out splits. I could tell you how I didn’t want to go home, not yet, not until everyone had asked their last question … not until we were all filled with the track, with that glorious combination of pain and pleasure that hard running provides, or with each other’s company.

I could tell you all this (and I just did :)) but I mostly want to say how humbled and proud I am that God has given me the honor of keeping the candle lit for Team Wednesday/CAC for all these years – and years to come.

“This little light of mine,
I’m gonna let it shine,
Oh, Lordy …”

cayenne pepper?

Our whole household has been sick with the crud for the past two weeks. When a friend asked me if I was taking anything for it I said, “I don’t like to take any medicine,” and she said, “I meant something herbal.”
“Like what?”
“Ginger tea. With lemon. And cayenne pepper.”
“Cayenne pepper?! In tea?”
“Yep.”
“I thought it was just for salsa.”
“And garlic.”
“You mean I have to drink garlic?”
“Yeah, crush it up and drink it.”
“Okay, I’ll try it,” I said.
And I did. I trust my friend so I tried her seemingly crazy recipe. Later, I found this on-line:herbal tea

Ginger Root Tea to Cure a Cold

1 inch piece gingerroot, peeled and grated
2 cups cold water
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey (or more to taste)
1-2 garlic clove, minced

1. Put grated ginger and water in a pot and bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Add cayenne pepper and simmer for 1 more minute.
3. Remove from heat and add 2 Tablespoons of fresh lemon juice, honey to taste and garlic.
4. Let cool slightly and srain before drinking.

It burns going down, but I tell you … it made me feel so much better. Not cured, but better. And I had none of that Thera-flu, Afrin, Niquil chemical grogginess. No morning-after headache either.

Maybe I’ll try accupucnture next!

perpetual renewal

I turned 45 last month. January 20. For most of us runners, a birthday ending in 0 or 5 is cause for celebration (a new age group!) and, yes, I did burst onto the 45-49 scene with an indoor mile world record: 5:04, wahoo! But for me, 45 means more than realigned margins of victory. (Anyone can call themselves “world class” if they manipulate the classifications. i.e. I am ranked #1 in downhill ski racing … the classification being female racers between the age of 45-47 living in the odd-numbered houses on Winningham Road in Chapel Hill – see how it works?). Anyway, 45 means groovy things like clarity and peace and wisdom (at least some of the time – finally). 45 means no longer fretting over which path to choose in life. This is this. I am on my chosen path. I have crested my mountain (or my mole-hill?) and I intend to rest at the top for a while. I rather enjoy the view.

This morning I pondered what is 45 (halfway to 90, God willing) in my preparation for our seejanerun spring season. As I mentioned earlier, I assigned a six-word memoir poem for the first day of practice. A memoir is a written form of self-revelation, just as blogging is a way to reveal oneself. Who am I now, at 45? How am I different from 25 or 35?

When I remember 25, I start to get all sweaty in the armpits. I’d die if I had to go back to that time in my life. I am the only 80’s feminist I know who wanted children MORE than a career. Problem was, if you didn’t marry your college boyfriend you had to wait another 7-year cycle before any eligible men wanted to settle down. So, I waited – unwillingly and inelegantly (careening through several bad relationships with midnight drunken scenes and multiple heart fractures) until my first husband agreed to take on the project of me. I was a difficult case. He hung in there gamely, but my dysfunction outlasted his patience. What we did get right in our marriage was Sarah Jane and Rosie.

At 35, I was up to my nostrils in poopy diapers and what Wm. Blake calls “the same dull round.” For stay-at-home moms, the years go by so fast but the days take forever. I spied a young mother at the coffee shop this morning with a toddler in one arm and a fat library book in the other. That novel she’s reading will have to be on perpetual renewal because she won’t be able to finish it for at least 3 or 4 years. I stopped going to the library in my 30’s because it made me resent my kids.

But I go there all the time now. At 45, I can linger over books of poetry. I can ponder Keats’ knight-at-arms:

O WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither’d from the lake,
And no birds sing.

In trying to describe what it feels like to be officially middle-aged, I told my [current] husband, “I know I am happy and that my life has finally slowed down enough to enjoy because I hear the birds singing every morning.” I don’t remember caring about any damn birds at 25 … and at 35, their incessant tweet-tweeting outside my bedroom window was probably an annoyance in my sleep-deprived state… but at 45, I love those birds!

This may well be tomorrow’s 6-word memoir:

Alive
at forty-five
listen!
… morning birds.

goldfinches

CAC

Dear faithful readers,

Please forgive my long-time absence from the blog-waves. I have been intensly involved in a (heretofore) top-secret running project in Chapel Hill/Carrboro. For years (and years) I have been trying to create an elite training group in this area. Once, I even started what I called The Community Track Club where each of us – individuals – coached ourselves but met once a week over dinner to share training tips, to talk about goals, to be accountable to someone else. This club didn’t last long because, it seems, people like an actual coach telling them what to do. I have been unwilling to take on this coach/boss role in my community because of the time-commitment involved and because I couldn’t afford to work for free.

SO, when our local Fleet Feet owner approached me with a proposal to pay me to coach a group of “elite” (or elite hopefuls) over the next two years, I hit the ground running. Could this really be happening, finally?! Will it be like the movies [“If you build it, they will come.”]?

Yes. Maybe. I hope so. Fleet Feet Carrboro has partnered with my lifelong sponsor, New Balance Athletic Shoes, Inc., to help support a distance running team of 7 women and 7 men (with USATF Elite club status) in Carrboro, NC. We will be called The Carrboro Athletics Club, the CAC.

Soon, we will have a team blog with weekly posts from our athletes so friends, famlies, and fans can chart their progress from now until the 2008 Olympic Trials. I will be sure to post the link to our track club website!

Thank you, New Balance and Fleet Feet Carrboro, for believing in me.

I do hope to get back to regular SoE posting as soon as all the dust settles … if it ever does.

un-cruisish

I have been away on an absurdly indulgent two-week cruise to the Caribbean. Sorry for no new posts.
Here’s a picture of the boat. (While I type this, my daughter – watching over my shoulder – said, “You’re such an un-cruisish person, Mommy; what are they [your readers] going to think?”)

cruise boat

six-word stories

*
A trailhead running buddy just sent me this link to a six-word memoir contest sponsored by Smith. That’s right … SIX words. Apparently, when given this assignment, Ernest Heminway wrote:

For sale: baby shoes, never used.

Lord, how does one follow that?

I plan to make this my spring assignment for seejanerun, so if any of you Janes are reading this blog, you get a head start.

Here’s what I sent in (seeing as how I’m in a bonafide mid-life crisis):

So much promise!
Such potential!
yet,

“I,” said the donkey, shaggy and brown.

shaggy and brown

The Friendly Beasts

Jesus, our brother, kind and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude;
The friendly beasts around Him stood.
Jesus, our brother, kind and good.

“I,” said the Donkey, shaggy and brown,
“I carried His mother up hill and down;
I carried His mother to Bethlehem town.”
“I,” said the Donkey, shaggy and brown.

“I,” said the Cow, all white and red,
“I gave Him my manger for His bed;
I gave Him my hay to pillow His head.”
“I,” said the Cow, all white and red.

“I,” said the Sheep, with the curly horn,
“I gave Him my wool for His blanket warm;
He wore my coat on Christmas morn.”
“I,” said the Sheep, with the curly horn.

“I,” said the Dove, from the rafters high,
“I cooed Him to sleep that He should not cry;
We cooed Him to sleep, my mate and I.”
“I,” said the Dove, from the rafters high.

Jesus, our brother, kind and good,
Was humbly born in a stable rude;
The friendly beasts around Him stood.
Jesus, our brother, kind and good.

Merry Christmas!

morning bells are ringing …

bicycle theif
For Christmas this year, I offered my little brother an expert shoe fitting at our local Fleet Feet along with a “professional” (me!) 13-week training program to help him become a runner. Like Terri, my brother is diffiult to buy for because he is working on not “wanting” anything. I’m actually quite jealous of him right now as he’s in mad pursuit of spiritual enlightenment – like I was in my 20’s when I read Sartre, Camus, Heman Hesse, Thomas Merton; watched countless Vittorio de Sica films, and Ingmar Bergman (dahhhling, you must see Wild Strawberries if you call yourself educated). I recently convinced my brother, John, to rent My Dinner with Andre – claiming it was #1 in my all-time top ten movie list – but he couldn’t make it through because Andre’s voice bugged him. “I love Wallace Shawn,” he said, “but he never talks.” He listens.

John also declined my offer to coach him, honestly confessing, “I’d like to, really I would, and I do know what a generous present this is …. but it sounds like too much work,” which got me to thinking about how I have proselytized for running my entire life. I might as well have dressed up in a white shirt, black slacks & tie and gone door-to-door like the Mormons. Only difference is, my “mission” has lasted 25 years, not 2. What is it about running (and runners) that makes us all go out and preach the gospel? How many times have I begun a sentence with “You should run …” fill in the blank with any race, or trail, or work-out that I love. Maybe it’s just human nature to want to share, but I think there’s more to it. Most runners I know (not those who run to burn calories or work on body beautiful; I call those runners “exercisers”) use running to make meaning in their lives. It truly is not that far removed from organized religion.

Just yesterday I was out on a trail with a friend who said, “Yeah, I go to church – every Friday out here (on the trall) for two hours.” So, you can understand my impulse to give John running as part of his vision quest. Is it the discipline, the solitude (and its flipside, communion), the ritual, the prayer, meditation? What?

I need to ponder this some more.

In the meantime, maybe a membership to Netflix is a better Christmas gift idea for brother John.

Are you sleeping,
are you sleeping,
Brother John?

Not anymore.

a fomal feeling …

I usually end my seejanerun seasons with some poem or carefully selected reading. This fall I chose to send out a list of my favorite goal-race memories. Formal reflection really does help with closure (I don’t like that word, but it suits). Think of graduation speechs and epitaphs and good-bye notes – all ways to express what poet, Emily Dickinson, calls that “formal feeling.”

Good Morning, Janes –

My Lizzie’s kindergarten teacher often tells the kids to raise their hands and then reach behind and pat themselves on the back. She tells them to say, “Good job, Me!” So, dear Janes, that’s what I want to say to all of you. We had such a powerful showing on Saturday out on the trail – both running and cheering – and afterward under the awards tent that I am still saturated with pride and happiness this morning … two full days later. However, I am also a bit sad that the season’s over – seemingly so quickly – and when Kelly MP called this morning to ask, “How are you doing?” I could only mutter, “uhhh, okay, a little glum” because it was 9:00am and I wasn’t rushing around to get out the door in time for our 9:30 Monday practice. I am content to begin a well-deserved break, but it feels sort of weird.

Do any of the rest of you feel weird today?

Maybe it will help if we all write in to the list with some of our favorite impressions from the race week-end. I’ll go first! (don’t get your hopes up; this will be no Letterman Top Ten list)

1.) Julee striding up the hill to finish as the #2 Jane. When I high-fived her and said, “You are one tough old b____!” I hadn’t yet seen that she was without ONE SHOE! Tougher than tough, you are a running Goddess, Julee.

2.) Susan’s pom pons. When Susan told me she’d be at the race with her pom pons I thought she was speaking metaphorically, as in “I’ll be there with bells on,” but she actually – literally – had shiny, cheerleader’s pom pons to cheer us on! Thank you, Susan!

3.) Kelly’s glowing face and truly STONED demeanor after she came out of her “stone” massage at the spa [where we went after our goal race]. You were doubly glowing, Kelly … from taking pain and pleasure in one day.

4.) All of our cobalt blue seejanerun shirts! Thanks, Terri, for making that happen this season.

5.) Anne’s joyful face – looking like a kid racing across the playground during recess when she finished – and knowing we’re never too old to be doing this. Never.

6.) My own child-like pleasure as I raced like a maniac with absurd SPIKES (who do I think I am?!) over slippery rocks and mud. Making Randy laugh over wine at the cabin when I confessed my frustration at having to pass all those “pesky 14-milers” – heh heh.

7.) Afterward, hearing everyone say, “I loved this race!” when I’ve picked a couple of loser races in the past fall seasons.

8.) Karen NOT MISSING A GOAL RACE! You kept your skinny butt in shape at the gym despite what should have been a season-ending injury. You also had the cutest running outfit. The black tee looked great under the singlet.

9.) Liz adding her final artistic tough to the “GO seejanerun!” van. It needed your blessing, Liz.

10.) All of us, under the tent, at the table having soup and crackers and just being together, relaxed and happy like a good family.

I could go on, but I want so save some for the rest of you.

Thank you, friends, for yet another memorable season.

tombstone

After great pain, a formal feeling comes–
The Nerves sit ceremonious, like Tombs–
The stiff Heart questions was it He, that bore,
And Yesterday, or Centuries before?

The Feet, mechanical, go round–
Of Ground, or Air, or Ought–
A Wooden way
Regardless grown,
A Quartz contentment, like a stone–

This is the Hour of Lead–
Remembered, if outlived,
As Freezing persons recollect the Snow–
First–Chill–then Stupor–then the letting go–

– Emily Dickinson (1862)

terri’s stick

I did my best to correct a mistake, so now I must turn the page. It’s December, for crying out loud, and I need to start thinking of Christmas presents. Yesterday, I went to a little celebration for one of my best friend’s 45th birthday. This friend is one of those people who can do anything; we joke that for Thanksgiving she hunts, kills, plucks, dresses, serves, and eats her turkey while the rest of us just buy our birds at the Harris Teeter. What do you give a woman who has – and can DO – just about everything? I’m sure there are people on your holiday list who fit this category.

Here’s what I came up with:
stick

I painted her a stick. It’s not really a walking stick; it’s more like a sculpture, an “art stick,” (something to put on a mantal … or, in your coat closet, perhaps only to be displayed when friend-who-gave-it comes to visit :)). On a trail where my friend and I often run on our easy days (with happy dog, Max), I searched and searched for a stick that seemed “trail-like.” What makes one stick stick out from all the others? Lumps. Curves. Knots. Discoloration. Are they flaws or flourishes? The perfect sticks were boring; I wanted one with a little history, some evidence of hardship endured.

Then I found it, a simple stick that had these beautiful, intricate carvings all over it. The carvings looked like our trail, winding up and down, around and crossing back over itself. The bark was already mostly gone, so you could clearly see all the engraving left by the critters who had lived there (wood mites? worms?). I ran the rest of the way back to my car with my friend’s birthday present bobbing up and down like a parade baton.

Back home I cleaned and sanded and started painting Terri’s stick with joyful vigor. Dinner was on hold, homework went unchecked, and my daughters became invisible as I lovingly painted each trail line. At one point, my youngest said, “Mommy, that looks like something a real artist would do.” Well, not really, but I felt like one because real art is inspired by great feeling.

This may well be an art stick Christmas. Coat closets beware!

truth AND consequences

Back in August I wrote a post about a lawnmower that has been eating away at me ever since. It was wrong to judge my friends and it was even more wrong to post it on my blog. It is dangerous to tell the truth slant. The straight story is, I was hurt and angry (over another matter entirely) with the friends who told me this story, so I used my blog to lash out at them. That is wrong any way you turn it.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant
by, Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Cirrcuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—