Sunday, March 25, 2012


I found myself in the dictation room in the emergency room laughing out loud on night shift the other night. Though I often enjoy witty banter with my fellow night shift workers, a spontaneous belly laugh while working on a chart is rare indeed. I was just trying to put in my billing, with the code for "fall". As in "fall down, go boom". The great wisdom of the ICD-9 gave me the list above. Clearly, I live a much too sheltered life.

Falling from grace was not on the list. Falling off your running routine was also not to be found. Other missing items: falling into despair, falling in love, falling off your piano bench when it breaks under you while playing Liszt (this one should be there, as it once happened to me and I still have a fair amount of PTSD about it).

Yesterday, I ran a tempo run with grand delusions of a fast pace for 90 minutes. My husband dropped me at the beach, and the day was glorious. But approximately 3 seconds into my run I realized it was going to be nothing but heartbreak. I dutifully suffered for 72 minutes, then called husband for a ride. It turns out post-night shift runs are not super fun. I do believe age demands sleep. Also a reasonable diet and an inordinate amount of stretching and massage. I am referring specifically to aged marathoners here.

So today, my delusions expanded (I blame this on night shift number two with its added sleep deprivation and pretty much nonstop torture and the bag of pretzels at 2am) (I detest pretzels and have no idea why I ate them at 2am except I was so tired and it as the only thing I could find in the 20 seconds I had to think about eating something). I took a quick nap, then hit the road for a 16-18 mile run. No problem. Until mile 4 when I realized I was desperately exhausted, underfueled and possibly hallucinating. My beloved husband to the rescue, once again.

I keep thinking of not doing the marathon in May. But it feels like just another letting go of something that matters to me in the name of work. And here let me insert the following:
1. I am VERY grateful to have a job, and even better one I like that challenges me and lets me take care of people in need and pays well enough to support my family of 5.
2. Whether or not to run the marathon is a dilemma of luxury.

Still, it is the principle of the thing. Life is short (unless it isn't, and in which case all of this angst will have been for nothing)! Who knows when you will be signing up for a heart transplant or a course of chemotherapy or being scraped out of your vehicle by the "jaws of life". Who knows when you will fall out of an airplane and injure the occupant of a spacecraft!?

For today, I contented myself with chocolate chip cookies and the New York Times Crossword puzzle. I also helped my high schooler with biology homework, my tween with a letter to her Grandma and gratefully accepted a hug from my too cool for school 14 year old son. My husband rescued me from my failed long run then made me feel like a princess all day long. I touched my piano keys and congratulated my favorite Jayhawks. Not that I do not love the Badgers, but the truth is I am surrounded by Jayhawks. And I am not even sure what a Jayhawk is.

How great to fall and know you will be caught.

I still plan to whip that marathon. Probably. Most likely. 
Not after a night shift though. If the ICD-9 could diagnose me, it might say:
"Fall from night shift, causing delusions, hallucinations and glycogen depletion, injuring ego and leading to over indulgence of chocolate chip cookies."

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


The Strip, Las Vegas March 2012

Las Vegas hotels are so dark you can never tell whether it is day or night. If you escape from your meeting long enough to venture outside by day, the heat and brightness seem made up, like just another facade in a city that tells lies. Or sells lies. There's a mall with a Hogwarts ceiling and Roman statues and massive spiral staircases, with Prada and Louis Vuitton, and into this breathtaking space are what seems to be aliens from Planet Shorts and Ill-Fitting T-Shirts, where the drinking of beer while you shop is just normal. But the nights are best, all lights and vulgarity and lawlessness. The French Canadian circus performers rule. Neon reflections and random volcanoes and fountain displays fend off even a millisecond of boredom. It is loud and it stinks of smoke. I rather hate it, actually.

The Strip, Las Vegas, March 2012
But the nearby gargantuan mall was nice last weekend when my luggage was gone for days. I spent one lunch break running through the Roman Hogwarts Wealth Mart finding the ultimate evil: The Nike Store. At the very least I had to have some running clothes. Oh, and a cute outfit from nearby Banana Republic was just plain necessary. Plus a change of undies and all that.

The thing is, Overload, with a capital O, is not conducive to being fully present to one's running. Or one's anything at all.
Overload, Las Vegas, March 2012

My trip to Las Vegas was a corporeal rendering of what plagues me all too often. Not enough sleep, not enough quiet, too much to do, too much to want, too little time. My one run in the midst of the chaos was unpleasant, too fast for my own good, and on a treadmill in a loud gym down the hall from one of the many bars. Then I came home, got gastroenteritis and worked a 16 hour "shift" followed by a 14 hour "shift".

So, I ask myself the million dollar question (staying on the theme of excess): How the heck will I run a marathon that I can be proud of in the 7 weeks left for me to train when Overload keeps swatting me down like an insignificant speck? 

It seems a luxurious dilemma compared to the absolute health devastation I've witnessed and tried to heal a bit at work the last few days. It is definitely a better dilemma than wondering if I should roll over in bed lest I puke. But it means a lot to me. I don't have endless years left to run. I have certain goals. I can't decide just yet. Maybe I'll run a long one and just see how it goes. Maybe I'll settle for a half and train again for the big one in the fall. 

If I was more adventurous, maybe Las Vegas would've won me over, and then maybe I'd have gotten really lucky.

If I would've gambled and in that case, if I would've won big?
1) 6 months of uninterrupted marathon training
2)All of the LVB Sonatas under my fingers
3) Bake cookies every single day for my kids

Not necessarily in that order.