Thursday, January 22, 2015


Running in the rain last Sunday for 16.6 miles was just plain fun. The last 3-4 miles kind of hurt, especially my lateral right foot. My shoes were all squishy and wet and the course was inclined so I felt like I was running with ataxia or on one of those courses they use in car racing. I might have tweaked a tendon or worse. But probably nothing ice and tincture of time cannot cure.

Since then, I have been resting. Partly to be sensible (doctor's tendon, heal thyself). Partly because work is kicking my butt. I cannot blame weather: it is unseasonably warm here. I cannot blame lack of motivation. I mean I love running. But I have been undisciplined in my lack of a routine. Rock Creek Runner had a good post today about how to plan and be efficient. Common sense stuff. Being a midwesterner by birth, this should be my strong suit, but I now live in California, which, while known for many things, has never been known for its common sense.

One of my favorite runs comes up soon. And I am once again faced with not being at my best and hesitating to do it because if I don't break an hour, WHAT WOULD BE THE POINT? This run celebrates its 50th year this year. And the t-shirts are reportedly way cool. So, I should probably do it even if I am as slow as molasses on a Triscuit on a sunny day in August in Alabama.

I am getting better with the whole humility thing.
Humble about parenting? check
Humble about my hair falling out again? check
Humble about doctoring? check
Humble about how a 6:30 mile use to come easy and now it just seems unattainable? getting there.

Sometimes too much humility can make you want to crawl under your covers and hide.

I think midlife does present a sort of crisis. For women, you have reached an age where you have to accept that college students call you "Ma'am" and your wrinkles are permanent. People should not be judged by their looks, but women are, every single day, in every situation. Also, midlife points out to you that less years lay ahead than behind. It is called "midlife" but it is probably pretty far past the halfway point. Also, you realize you have already messed up your kids and cannot have any do-overs. Unless they have grandkids, in which case, send them over to eat cookies for breakfast and take long rambling walks in the woods and to dig in the sand at the beach and watch stupid TV shows and listen to Beethoven. All of which I actually did with my own kids, except maybe cookies for breakfast, but somehow grandparents just do stuff with more flair.

I said to my husband the other day, regarding the midlife crisis issue: "I wish I could just buy a corvette and be done with it."

Alas, for me it probably is going to have to involve months to years of soul-searching, a lot of long runs and a completely new wardrobe. A corvette is just too easy.

But if I did do the corvette, it would be a 1957, red and white.

Can you soul-search in a '57 corvette?

Sunday, January 11, 2015


"The only good race pace is suicide pace, and today looks like a good day to die."-Steve Prefontaine

Death: you can't talk about it. You can't prevent it. You can't predict it. You actually cannot play chess against it. It is final. Or maybe not. It is ugly or beautiful or devastating or a relief or something in between and far less glamorous.

I have seen people die. People I love. People I know. People I care for. I have no particular fear of death, just the sadness of leaving my loved ones. I don't think it is all that special, as everyone does it. It is a drag. It is mundane. It is shocking. It is brutal.

But I digress, as what I mean to write about is the place you reach into when you do something really hard and not very comfortable. Death is a good example of this. But life offers plenty of chances to perfect the skill. You might try parenting to audition for the part of ultimate heartbreak. You might try playing music or writing a book or painting a painting to experience the baring of the soul, not unlike a tarring and feathering with scattered applause. Running? I see it as the basic built-in skill of humans that is both second nature and hard as hell. It is one thing to trot along and, over days, tire out the prey. It is another thing to inch up your splits, until you can find the personal record (PR). That takes:
A. Guts
B. A large ego
C. Just the right pair of running shoes
D. All of the above

I used to be faster than I am now. I might be able, still, to run faster than I ever did before. Age is a factor, yes, but I am not that old yet, and I have an excellent masseuse. The biggest barrier is psychological. For instance, my job kept me from feeling I could afford a run for all the weekdays of last week. I kept picturing leeches, sucking me dry. It reminded me of a summer day long ago, when I played all day long in some swampy area of Wisconsin and my mother lovingly pulled multiple leeches off of me. She was a no nonsense nurse, and though I complained bitterly about the disgusting task she took on, she did it, and did not flinch or complain. Which brings me back to the whole parenting thing. You will do anything for your kids. But they just see the world through their glasses tinted with "why is my Mom not a beauty Queen with a ton of money and who thinks my use of alcohol and drugs and tobacco is just so spiffy?"

Hold on, I once again digress.

Death is relevant here. You can spend your life putting off your dreams. Well, good luck with that one. You can spend your life playing chess with death. But death could not give a rip about a good end game. He has one job and that is to ferry you to the next destination. You can spend your life hating, or complaining, or seeking approval and fame and money and the next high.

Van Dyke Parks put it well. When people ask him where he is from or where he grew up or where he has lived, he says, it does to matter. Who you are is:
"The books you have read, the art you have seen, and the culture which has impacted your personality."

Read a book. Listen to music. View some art. Know your community. And do not underestimate the power of the death. Is today a good day to die?