Thursday, September 9, 2010

Running ... yup, the entire post is about running!

(M congratulating me at the end of the race)

Life goal #2 is well on it’s way to being completed thanks to a Herculean effort this weekend that resulted in the completion of my first half marathon (that’s 13.1 miles who have always wondered but didn’t want to have to ask)!!! Well, “Herculean” may be a little overstated considering I hobbled to the finish line more than 9 minutes after I had dared to dream I would, but I finished it – damnit – and that is surely something to be proud of!

It’s been a long, frustrating road to get to this place. I first started training for a marathon 3 years ago when Ashley and I started running together; overuse and not having medical insurance resulted in 2 years off due to major knee pain that made it difficult to walk, stand, sit … you know, all those simple things we take for granted. Running was completely out of the question during this time. When I finally got medical insurance again I went through 3 months of physical therapy and chiropractic work, and I was finally able to run again … for about 4 months when I developed ANOTHER overuse injury which was not – thank god! – a stress fracture like my doctor originally thought, but was still a hugely painful muscle strain in my groin. I missed my first ½ marathon in May due to this injury and have been running again since July (so, all things considered, I guess a time o 2.09 isn’t horrible, and I didn’t injure myself during the run, so … yay!). While I haven’t technically registered for the race yet, I plan to run the full marathon May 1, 2011 in Eugene and am bound and determined to make it there injury free!!

While you might imagine that I questioned the intelligence of continue to run during the last 3 years, my dedication to running only increased during this time. I had a lot of down time to consider my body and healthy and how running fits into my life; this was especially true during my last injury, and while I couldn’t actually run I read, A LOT, about running: running injuries, running stories, running plans and theories, physiology of running, history and evolution of running, running for beginners, running for elite athletes, running greats and giants … I spent more time reading about running than I usually did actually RUNNING, and it all lead me to one conclusion … it’s wonderfully insightful and unexpected … wait for it … waaaaait foooor iiiiit … I’m a runner!! Whoa! Earth shattering revelation, no?! Stop rolling your eyes, accept that this is an entire blog post about running, be happy that most of the whining is over and let me explain.

I have been running for a good chunk of my life – I started my freshman year in high school on the cross country team and we’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship since then, but even during the “off-again” stages – purposeful or accidental – I’ve always known I would go back to it; I’ve always known that running would be, in one way or another, apart of my life. We all choose attributes to define ourselves – to others, to ourselves: scholar, parent, artist, teacher, humanitarian, etc., etc. Through this self reflection, I finally consciously named what I’ve always felt: I am a runner; this is part of how I define myself, this is part of who I am and what makes me me; I not particularly GOOD, mind you – I’ve never made claims to the contrary – but I love it, I always come back to it regardless of the length of time I’ve been away, I talk about it – always trying to convince people they should take it up (I believe that virtually everyone can and should run), I read about it, I plan my life around it to some degree (I do already have my running schedule figured out – more or less – until next May!) … hell, I even dream about running! Running is something I have in common with the vast majority of my friends. I take an enormous amount of pride in knowing that I can go out and run 10+ miles whenever the mood strikes me, and that the mood strikes me often! I feel beautiful, strong and graceful when I’m running in a way that I don’t at any other time – the sweatier the better. I’ve even decided that the best way to die would be when I’m really old, on a long run, at that point when my body relaxes into the run and I know I could go on forever and ever … and then I simply drop dead … sounds great, no?!

So, that’s that – an entire, self-indulgent (what blog isn’t?) blog post about running! Thanks for reading my revelation, and remember – everyone not only can, but should run!!

Okay, specs of the race, for those of you interested (and, really, who isn’t?!). I had PLANNED to go out at 10 minute pace, drop it down to 9.30 until mile 4, 9.15 until mile 9 and sub-9s to the finish. Yep, that was the plan – beautiful, well thought out … in reality my splits were: 10.12, 9.29, 9.37, 9.41, 9.22, 9.34, 9.43, 10.05, 10.04, 31.50*, and 9.26, with an overall time of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 53 seconds.

*I was apparently very tired at this point and forgot to mark miles 11 and 12, so 10, 11, and 12 were completed in 31.50, which is approximately 10.50 pace for each – oy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On splinters, refridgerators and life's persistent questions ...

Okay - yes, it's been awhile, but it's not my fault - truly! Well, okay, it's mostly my fault, but I DID write a blog about a month ago about the profusion of splinters in my feet, but something happened and 2 hours of work later it wouldn't post and didn't get saved ... yup, a barrel of laughs that one was, but I guess you'll have to trust me on that! Suffice it to say that running barefoot on chip trails is not the best idea ... I'm not sure what it says about me that I tried it three times before I finally decided to give my poor feet a break and bought Vibram Fivefingers, or that I probably would have continued trying if it wasn't interfering with my training!

This post is not, however, about my irrational masochism or my tendency towards redundant adjectives - is it truly possible to be rationally masochistic after all? - but rather about reaching adulthood and the decisions that this necessarily demands. Wow - that makes it sound like this is a crazy serious blog post - don't worry, it's not to anyone else but me - it is my life we're discussing here, after all.

I have officially - in my reasoning, which I'm sure makes sense but other people tend to question - reached adulthood. This topic could certainly be a blog post all on its own, but it basically comes down to being the "proud" owner of a large appliance (the fact that the symbol of my transition into adulthood broke within a week and cost more to fix than it did to buy does not bode well for this period of my life ... but, again, another post perhaps). It was right about this time that I fell into my old-childish pattern of questioning everything I am, do, care about, etc. etc. (something from the past was bound to follow me to the new and exciting world of broken refrigerators). I do apologize to my family and friends who are forced to listen to me lament, complain and bitch about every 6 months; I'm sure they will all die happy if they never have to hear, "I don't know what I'M DOING," or "How do I know this is the right path for me?!" ever again! The reality is, however, that this has been a major point of personal contention ever since my last year of college and the infamous senior-show debacle. I had my life planned out at that point - I HAD a path, and I was walking on my merry way listening to the birds singing and watching the baby animals, not noticing the dark forest in front of me until it was too late and the vultures of life were circling my dead dreams ... (ha! I think that's the sappy-ist thing I've ever written!) For the last 5 years, though, I've been without a strong direction - flitting from job to job, going to school because I know I need more of it, but not entirely sure what it's going to lead to. I am overwhelmingly happy to announce, however, that there is finally light filtering through the leaves of the forest, the underbrush is thinning and I'm determined to take this analogy as far as possible! Don't worry, though - you get to wade through more explanation, commentary, inappropriate dashes, and - if you're really lucky - hideous analogies before I finally reveal the plan that has spurred such a long, rambling blog post!!

After I left CARDV and was applying for jobs literally all over the country, I read a lot of books about finding the "right" career. I've long known the area that I want to work in: human rights generally and women's rights/issues specifically, as well as a variety of other things that I want (or don't) out of a job: I want to be able to use my public speaking skills, I don't want to do crisis intervention, direct service work, I would like to opportunity to work internationally if possible and I'm interested in working for a non-profit. All this is not, however, a clear road-map towards a career, to say the least. I was recently lamenting - once again - that I don't have a clear direction - that I'm going to grad school hoping that I'll develop a stronger sense of what I want to do while there (perhaps not the best use of all my student loan money!); I can't really say what sparked - or re-sparked, I should say - this idea for a career; it just came to me, made a lot of sense and - best of all - made me super excited ... my future wasn't a nebulous, black, smokey haze anymore - it seemed obvious and clear. Okay - ready for it?! Here it is!!

I'm going to be a lawyer for an international non-profit that works on human rights issues (specifically women's rights issues)!!!

I'm super excited!!! I've thought about being a lawyer off and on for years - but I've never necessarily wanted to be a trial lawyer. I had thought about doing international law in the past but let myself be talked out of it by someone who I love very much (and who did not, by the way, intend to talk me out of it - I don't believe - but who doesn't particularly like the "soft law" aspect of international law). This fits perfectly the various things that I'm looking for in a career, and I believe that it fits my personality fairly well to boot! I'm excited - I'm nervous - I'm excited again and mostly I'm relieved! I was beginning to think that I would have to settle for "one of many 'right' choices" - as people were beginning to tell me - and that's simply not what I wanted for my life; I wouldn't be happy looking back and knowing that I gave up the pursuit to find "that" career that fit me perfectly - that I choose one thing out of many options, all of which were okay but none of which I was in love with.

So, maybe I'm building this up a bit - I know that no career is going to perfect and that they are all hard work, but there are times in our lives that we decide on something without deliberation because we simply know that it's right - it's the right fit, the right choice, and it will make us happy. I did that with my husband - the night I met him I knew that I was going to marry him - no deliberation, it was simply the right choice, the right fit; sure it's not been perfect, nothing is, but I'm still happy and it was still the best decision for me, and I knew it right away - this is the same thing: I simply know.

So there you have it - my decision revealed! I'm looking forward to the future in a way I haven't for some time - I'm excited and content; I know where I'm headed and everything I'm doing now will help me get there - yay for me! :o) I start school again at the end of September - until then I will continue saying encouraging words to my refrigerator every morning (yes, I do this, and then I pat it's door lovingly ... we all need encouragement to run another day from time to time), being thankful for my Vibrams and trust that the same ... tenacity - yeah, that's what we'll call it ... that made me try running barefoot on chip trails multiple times will be more of a benefit to my career as a lawyer than it was to my training schedule!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

War of the World; or, Just Another Exploration of My Insanity.

Wow - it's been quite some time, no?! I, of course, have no good excuses for my long absence ... REALLY no excuse - I only work 3 days a week, Monday-Wednesday ... yes, that's right all you observant ones - this means I have Thursday-Sunday off every week; like I said, no excuses. So I've been sitting here for quite some time trying to decide what to write about: being accepted to my top choice for grad school, interviewing my grandmother about her life and her mother, signing up for a 1/2 marathon and the training process ... there is a lot that I could write about, updates and information, but I have finally landed on what I really want to discuss: aliens. Yes, that's right, I've been silent for months and my first post back is going to be about aliens - the little-green-"people"-running-around-sucking-our-brains-out kind.

Let me just say upfront that I believe aliens exist. I think it's ridiculous to think that we could be the only form of "intelligent" life in the entire universe/galaxy/alpha quadrant/etc. I am, of course, using "intelligent" very loosely here; after all, how intelligent can a species be if they resolve most disputes by killing each other, stockpile enough weapons to destroy their entire world, and continually rape and destroy their planet when they don't yet have the ability to move to and survive on another "M-class" planet once their home-world can no longer support life ... the moral failings of the human species aside, however, I simply can't imagine a cosmic mistake that would allow life to form on this planet alone and no where else ... NO WHERE ELSE ... and when "where else" is so vast that most of us can't even begin to comprehend it's size, you have to admit that the likelihood of Earth being the only home of complex life is, well, distinctly UNlikely.

So why, oh why, am I writing about aliens ... I'm sure it would make perfect sense if you could be inside my head and listen to the rambling train of thought that eventually brought me to the subject of aliens, but seeing as how anyone transporting into my mind would not only involve a wonder of science but likely scar that poor schmo for life, let's just say that it started with my happiness that the sun is out today and leave it at that.

But let's come to the real purpose of this post - exposing my insanity once again but admitting to my "unexplainable" events that I have, of course, decided to blame on aliens. Let's begin.

Last summer M and I went hiking/camping at Indigo Lake - it's a really short hike, a couple of miles in, with several great camping sites that remains pretty empty all summer. So we got there around mid-day, set up camp, hiked around, had HOURS to rest ... and then it started getting dark. I know that every few people have had the ... um ... pleasure of camping with me, but I am a horrible camper! I really dislike the great outdoors when it's completely dark and anything could be lurking past the campfire light ready to eat your face off; I would much rather hike a great distance, be so tired I can barely set up camp and don't even bother with a fire, and fall - completely exhausted - into my sleeping bag shortly after eating my freeze-dried hiking dinner. I don't understand people who LIKE to sit around the campfire until all hours of the night, drinking, being loud and NOT worrying about the animals ready to make them a mid-night snack! Okay, I'm a slightly better camper if there are more than just 2 people out there (and I'm speaking specifically to the people I'm planning to camp with this summer!!) So shortly after M made the campfire, I decided it was time for bed; it was 8:00!! Needless to say, I couldn't sleep - not only was I not tired AT ALL, but since I wasn't utterly exhausted my mind raced through all the possible ends that could meet us up in the mountains with no one else around ... after forcing M to get out of bed and come pee with me several times, he finally fell asleep; I, however, did not. 4 hours later I was still wide awake, starting to feel a little safer (due to the full moon shining down on the lake beside our campsite), and I heard it; my heart stopped, I held my breath and hoped to god that I was actually asleep and dreaming ... but there it was again ... a ping. It sounded much like a homing beacon and it was DIRECTLY in our camp! There were no other sounds at all, no footfalls, rustling ... nothing but the pinging, and it was moving through our camp. I could hear it move from one side of the camp to the other, then it went a little way from the camp, then it came back - a little while later I heard it very far away - a slight "ping" in the far distance. The next morning I truly expected to see our campsite utterly destroyed and ripped to shreds, but it was fine - nothing out of place, no animal marks or footsteps ... I had made up my mind the night before, as I was cowering in the tent, afraid to breath in case the pinging heard me and decided my breathing sounded tasty, that the ping had to be one of two things: a crazy, man-eating bear that the forest service (or whoever handles these things) had decided not to kill but wanted to warn unwary hikers/campers that the bear was coming and they should say their final prayers, or it was aliens. Obviously those were the only two reasonable explanations.

Us at M's hard-earned camp fire.

Sun-set, and about time for bed!

Fast forward about a month: M and I are at the coast for our anniversary. We found this great little hotel fully equipped with a kitchen, fireplace and nearly private beach and decorated in an "old west" theme ... it was actually a great place right south of Yachats called the See Vue, and if you don't mind staying so close to aliens you really should check it out (look, I've made it easy for you! See Vue). We spent a fabulous and unnaturally warm day at the coast playing on the beach and walking around Yachats. We made a great dinner that night (garlic curry salmon with steamed broccoli, in case you wanted to know), and afterward decided to sit out on the chairs overlooking the cliff down to the beach ... it was remarkably beautiful. We had been out for about an hour (and, complete disclosure here, we had been drinking, but only a glass or two of wine and neither of us was close to being drunk), when 4 bright globes of light appeared in the sky slightly to right of us; they hung there for awhile and one by one they faded away. The only things I know for certain is that it couldn't be car lights (the angle of the road was wrong and there were no clouds for lights to reflect off of), or boat lights (up too far from the water) or airplane/helicopter lights (there were too close for us not to hear the engine), and we both saw exactly the same thing. We both tried to pretend it didn't bother us for awhile, but quickly decided to go back inside. It wasn't necessarily scary, just completely unexplainable! This experience, much more than the first one, made me think of aliens ... there simply doesn't seem to be any other explanation.

The view from our room ... it really was amazing!

Our tasty meal ... yup, we took a picture!

Now, I'm sure that "believing" in aliens makes it easier to jump to that conclusion when strange things happen, but come on we've all had those experiences that lack explanation and our minds wonder if, just maybe, we've somehow come into contact with something not of this world ... and now you get to share that experience here!! I know you're thrilled to expose your "insanity" with me (and I KNOW some of you have those stories because I've heard them before), and look on the bright side, maybe we'll all be abducted at the same time and spend the summer being interrogated by the government or probed by little green men together ... a new twist on the idea of summer camp, sure, but as long as the aliens don't force me to play "buck/buck" with them, I'll be happy.

(Thanks to for their alien picture ... I didn't ask to use it, I just am, so you should thank them as well by visiting their website here!