Sunday, June 19, 2011


I am allergic to dogs. I dislike the way they chew my books. The puppy ate all four corners of my piano bench. They steal food from high places they shouldn't be able to reach. They come breathe in your face when you are trying to nap on the couch. They drag in redwood needles on their fur and their muddy paws track dirt on my floor. They bark at passers by. So naturally, I have three of them.

Yesterday on my run in the woods, I took them each out for a loop. My two young ones were pretty zonked by the end of their loop. It was rather pathetic, actually. Miles, the puppy poodle, cannot seem to understand the point of running at all. He loves to play chase with our neighbor poodle Francie, and those two will run all day if we let them, but ask him to run at my side and he stares at you perplexed, occasionally giving you that poodle head tilt, which is a combination of goofy and sublime. One or twice yesterday, he sat down and dug his paws in. I loved him up and he seemed willing to give it another shot. I will teach this dog to run. I will.

I am preparing my heart. My best running companion for years now is getting old. Pushing 90 if you believe the dog:human years system. He used to go deep in the woods with me, running for 90 minutes or longer sometimes. He could hear me putting on my running shoes from across the house. Seriously, he can tell my running shoes apart from every other pair of shoes I own. How does he do that? But now, he is nearly deaf, and his cataracts an alarming silvery hue. A few weeks back, he could barely walk from his arthritis. Since then we have him on NSAIDs, and they are truly a miracle for him. So yesterday, when I was doing my loops in the woods and he was begging me with his happy voice and his rotatory tail wag and his old man puppy dance, I decided to take a chance on running with him, just hoping I wouldn't cause him pain.

We have put in so many hours together in the woods, at the beach. He sometimes drags large sticks while running. On spring days in the woods he'll jump in the creek and look for rocks to play with (a certain passion of his). He catches snakes. He treed a squirrel once. He even briefly chased a mountain lion a few years back, which was terrifying for both of us I think. Buster is a working dog, and for him, running with me is his job. He understands me, and his passion for the run may even surpass my own.
Yesterday, despite my fears, Buster outran his younger pack members. He gives me hope for my aging body. He is worth every sneeze and debilitating allergy attack, every stolen and half eaten sack of flour spread all over my living room floor, every house full of sand after a trip to the beach. I'll take his doggy breath and his incessant need to play ball. He's my best running friend.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Space, June 11, 2011

Quails like their personal space. They declare their presence proudly, for some reason shouting "Chicago!", clearly confused about basic geography. But if you try to get a closer look, they do their best Usain Bolt impression. The male is always on look out for danger. They travel in pairs. They wear stylish hats.

In New York, during the marathon, personal space is not really the point. With over 2 million spectators, you are practically carried by sheer sound from one borough to the next to the next. And throwing caution to the din, you can't help but touch the hand of every eager, germ-ridden child at the sidelines wanting to give you a high five. This is so different from my daily runs, which are deliciously spacious. In my day to day life, I am constantly with people. Running into the postcard of scenery that surrounds us is my meditation, my peace, my moment to breathe.

I talk to my children about space. Not so much planets and such, but the increasingly lost art of taking a moment of space before reacting to what the world hands you or what some kid says to you. "Don't say on Facebook what you wouldn't say to someone's face" I tell them. Take a breath. So easy to say, but as my wise husband always points out, just walk the walk and maybe they will follow. So running for me also lends a hand when I need to take a moment of space before reacting, and dare I say over reacting, to some idiotic move they made or thing they said. I am a quail Dad at heart, and when I sense danger, I want to protect my family. The thing about quail though, is, as far as I know, their chicks don't seem to have a sassy attitude. But I suppose they get kicked out of the nest before they are teenagers.

In the long run, I meditate, I breathe, I bask in the space. And after the long run, I can come back refreshed to gather my chicks. My three beauties.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Atypical Doubles

It occurs to me that the title of this makes it sound more interesting than it actually is. My life is G-rated. But my double workouts have evolved to strange. 

Last time I did the NY Marathon, I cross-trained quite a bit. I swam, I biked. On a big day, I would do a "double." That would be a swim and a run, or a bike and a run. A few days I did a triple. Like a real triathlete, God bless their souls. But this time around, I am focusing on my running, trying to get more mileage on my legs, with the theory that my Philadelphia DNF last fall was from not enough running prior to the marathon. DNF's can break your heart, but I took it in stride (no pun intended). Philadelphia is a mighty nice town to view on foot, and I got in about 18 miles before turning back. The only downside is I didn't get to collect my beer and pretzel at the finish line.

Doubles build character, strength, and the ability to brag to one's more triathletic friends, preferably in a nonchalant James Deanesque voice, "yeah, I did a double today."

So, here's my menu of doubles. Feel free to use them and brag to your friends as well.

Run and Weed
This is not what you think. Remember, my life is G-rated! Weed the garden, silly. You will never use so many muscle groups, and you will look convincingly sore in the gym locker room when you brag the next day.

Run and Jump Rope with your Much Younger Daughters
If you don't have a daughter or two, or a son that wants to jump rope with you, you could just find
some random kids. What I've discovered is jump roping feels a lot like it could give you a concussion. I don't remember this feeling when I was 12.

Run and Play One on One Basketball with Your Teenaged Son
When did he get so good at basketball? And why does he laugh at me like that?

Run and Work a Night Shift
The key here is never take the elevator, only the stairs. Also, don't partake in the late night pizza delivery nor the early morning doctor lounge donuts. Otherwise, it doesn't count as a double.

Run and Practice Piano
I once got tendinitis from pedaling in bare feet. Now I only practice piano shod.

Run and Play Two Square
This is another chance to have your children laugh at you. Though one of them was sincerely impressed with my two square skills. And my children are not easily impressed.

Run and Take 3 Dogs for a Walk Simultaneously
I believe this one is self explanatory.

Run and Dance Around the Kitchen With Your Husband
This has the added benefit of grossing out your kids. It works even better if they have friends over.

In the days of old, people didn't go to the gym, because the day to day tasks of survival required exercise. Now, we have to be a little more creative. Long live the double.

Saturday, June 4, 2011


good advice, June 3, 2011

I fell off the wagon this week. The running wagon, that is. And I didn't fall off so much as get pushed off. Maybe this is backwards, because running is sort of an addiction for me, and I haven't run for three days. I missed speed day! Tomorrow is long run, and I haven't run for three days. My opinion is running is a positive addiction, so I am going to stick with the fact that what happened is I got pushed, rudely, off the wagon.

Now, it could be worse. I am not injured (knock on wood). It is just that there were so, so many sick people this week. My days were epic, and I don't mean that in the hip, cool way that the word epic is often used these days. My sleep became increasingly condensed as the week went on, until sleep was just something I craved with a painful nostalgia. Actually, sleep deprivation is physically, not just figuratively painful for me. I can stand a lot of things, but for some reason, inadequate sleep just pushes me right over the edge. I picked the wrong profession.

I just awoke from the sleep of the dead, and it did a lot to clear my head. I won't run today, or if I do it will be just a gentle taste. I will recover, find the passion, resume my routine and I believe life will go on.
Tomorrow, long run. Long, slow distance aka "LSD". Right back on that wagon.