Thursday, December 30, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Horses

Scout (6), Toby (29), and Ruger (2) in their Christmas best.
Today I'm thankful for the healing powers of horses, the mountains I grew up near (those are the hills in the picture - not the same), and the refreshing purity of snow.

Three Things Thursday

1. I'm still around. Christmas with the fam was a good time and eventually I'll have the pictures on the computer and share. 

2. The snow is not committing and I wish it would. Fortunately, there is snow on the Mountain so we will be taking our snowshoes out for a trek tomorrow and Sunday. Yay!

3. I actually kind of miss running. I haven't run since Christmas Eve (3.32 miles on a treadmill, which I've never run on before, in 40 min with 189 HR for most of it - Dad was concerned) and I have some fun and exciting new gadgets to try out. You may now sit in anxious anticipation of what those gadgets are. ;-)

I'll get a more meaningful post out later. Happy Eve of New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A New Ending

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." ~Maria Robinson

Every once in a while I need a mindless Facebook quiz. According to FB's "What's Your Quote on Life?" quiz the quote above is my quote on life. I love it. I'm a quote nerd and I've never heard this one before.

By extension of this quote, Facebook says I am hopeful, a free-spirit, offer a healthy dose of optimism, believe in the importance of moving forward, and remember each day how fortunate I am.  

I remember that girl and it's encouraging to know she's still around. I really like the idea of making a new ending. My story - and yours - isn't written yet. Why not make a conscious effort to be present in the writing of it?

A True Conversation

Yesterday, while eating with the Monday Night Posse, Jason asked our friend to watch the kitties while we're out of town. After assurance that neither kitty has pus pockets (gross story) and we'll only be gone three days, she agreed. Our other friend said, "Oh, cats are easy, you just put three days worth of food out and they're fine," to which K replied, "Not Nike's cats. Claire would look like Garfield and Donte would look like he'd never been fed." 

On the way home Jason and I laughed about how well K knows our kitties. Then Jason said, "I think they'd be fine with the food, it's just the lack of human interaction that makes them crazy." 

"Yeah, they'd be fine with the food, but on that third day all bets are off."

"Yes, they really do need human interaction. Otherwise they tear the house apart"

"Wait, are you saying our cats become uncivilized if people aren't around?" At which point I burst into laughter because in my heart I know it's true.

"Um, yes... we'd come home to Lord of Flies kitty-style." 

That's right, my darling fur balls are uncivilized if they don't interact with people.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Compassion

The last couple weeks have been really difficult and therefore difficult to find things to be thankful for. I made a short list yesterday...

I'm thankful for friends that will listen to my deepest darkest secrets without judging.

I'm thankful for friends that upon hearing those secrets will come clean my house, make me dinner, and rearrange my office. It doesn't fix the problem, but I felt very loved.

I'm thankful for my babysitters. As ridiculous as it is to need a babysitter, it's good to know no matter how unloved and lonely I feel sometimes there are people who will step in and ease that ache.

I'm thankful for my husband who doesn't yell back when I start to verbally vomit, left work during the busiest part of the day so I could make it to my counseling appointment, is always supportive, and gives the best hugs in the world.

No, things aren't easy right now and I'm getting to the point I can't pretend otherwise. But amidst the darkness I've found an amazing support system and the freedom that comes from being honest about how difficult things are. As one friend lovingly told me, "You're going to be okay because we all love you and we're going to help you through this. You just have to let us."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Please, Be Safe

Sunday marked the changing back of the clocks. It been more than a month since the start of Daylight Savings. It's now dark by 5:30 pm, our normal running time. If we ran in the morning we would still be running in the dark, so we are now in search of ways to keep running, but be able to see and be seen.

Which leads me to a topic I'm very passionate about: reflective gear. That's right, I'm the kid that judges you when she sees you running sans a light or reflective gear. There's a common misconception in the running world that a white hat or clothing is enough. (Click the link for a demo.) It's not. I've been on the same trail as some of you and didn't see you until my pack leaders passed you. Worse, I've been driving when you've crossed - against the light in many cases - in front of my 40 mph moving vehicle.

No, you're not going to look as cute with a reflective vest. Yes, you might look like an alien if you make yourself really visible. (I wish I had a picture of Dad's getup. It's amazing and he will not be run over.) Personally, I'd rather look like an alien than be roadkill.

The biggest struggle is the "I'll only be running in the dark for 30 minutes, so I'm not going to bother with the safety gear." Jason and I have fallen into this trap. The one time I went running by myself this exact thought went through my head. You know what happened? I was nearly hit by a car at two separate intersections. It was just before sunset - ie, there was still a "reasonable" about of light. I dealt with a lot of whining from some Hood to Coast teammates about the "must wear reflective gear and a front and back LED flashers between 6:00 pm and 7 am" rule. But you know what? I think H2C has it right and this should be the norm for runners. (The H2C takes place in late August, basically an hour before sundown is a good time to put on your reflective gear.)

Here are my top picks for safety gear:

Brooks Nightlife Hat - This hat has a comforting level of reflective material and a button LED flasher in the back. It's lightweight, comfortable, and sweat wicking. My only complaint is when my hair was longer the pigtails didn't work as well for me - it was kinda like not pulling my hair back at all. Usually I put my hair through the hat opening, but that blocks the flasher if you need to use it. I attach a cap light to the bill so I can see where I'm going and it works well - especially for Hood to Coast night runs. (The hat flasher counts as your rear LED flasher.)

My other don't-leave-home-without-it gear is the Amphipod Xinglet. Again, it's lightweight, dries quickly, and is less restricting than the traditional vests. I attach a front and rear $5 LED button flasher from the Portland Running Company. The flasher is so simple I can't find anything similar online, so here's an Amphipod Flasher, but know the red button ones are just as good.

In the cold weather my Momentum Running Gloves from Mountain Hardwear (pictured) are indispensable. They keep my hands warm, and are breathable, so I never get too warm. The reflective dots are handy for waving at stopped cars. (On a side note, someone needs to make gloves with reflective dots on the palm. It's awkward to wave at people with the back of your hand.) The right index finger has an opening so you can access your touch screen electronics. I don't use that, but I guess it's neat. 

I also try to always buy clothing with some form of reflective striping on them. Most shoes have some reflective material on the back or sides, and on our night runs we've noticed some shoes are more visible than others. (Unfortunately it's dark, so we have no way of knowing which shoes are better about this.) My new sub-zero Skirts tights from RunningSkirts is my new favorite winter gear item. I pretty much want to wear it everywhere. The reflective twins are cute, too. ;-)

I don't like shoelaces. My husband and Dad spent a good three months listening to me complain about my shoelaces before I discovered Yankz! When I found them at Fit Right NW, I knew they were the solution to my shoelaces-tied-once-come-untied/shoelaces-doubled-tickle-my-ankle conundrum. And, since I'm crazy about being seen, I opted for the reflective and white ones. (My tying job isn't as cool as the ads and I'm not sure how comfortable I would be with cutting the laces, so I haven't.)

What's your can't-run-without winter item? 
Have a safe and happy run!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Highway to Well in Pictures

I was really surprised to see I hadn't blogged about the Highway to Well 5K/10K Dad and I ran in October. This race was memorable for a few reasons, but mostly for being Dad's first race ever (he did the 10K) and my first race where I wasn't last. (That was a really big deal for me.) 

The race was on a Saturday morning in Pendleton, OR. It was a small (small) locally organized race. There was a kid's fun-run 1 mile, a 5K run/walk, 10K run, and a half marathon. The 5K and 10K both started in the park parking lot, wound up to a main road, looped back into the park, into a neighborhood, and then back to the park. The neighborhood area wasn't very well marked, but it would have been difficult to get lost. The 10K did that route twice.

The race had a great small-town vibe and they had a delicious BBQ feast afterwards - chicken, baked beans, rolls, and watermelon. The entry fee was around $20 - $15 for the 5K and another $10 if you wanted the shirt. I opted "no" on the shirt, but Dad did get one. (I don't remember if the 10K was the same price or $5 more.) I'd run it again, with the hope the cheerleaders are more cheery - I didn't know they were cheerleaders until the end and was quite disappointed.

Finishing up the neighborhood loop back to the park
Over the bridge then 300 yds to the finish. About this time Dad was on the other side of the park and cheered me on. I passed the lady in front of me - my first pass ever - and was quite proud. I knew I wasn't last cause I passed someone. She took first for her age division and that took away the guilt I felt.
High-fiving Dad as he finished his second park loop and was headed to the neighborhood loop before finishing
Jason (blue) running with Dad and encouraging him to the end. Dad had started off at a 7:30 pace trying to "keep up with the old guys" before realizing they were only doing the 5K. He was tired, but still maintained a good clip.
Dad and I at the finish line. Isn't it cute?
You can't tell, but I had kinda teared up. They were calling names for the women's 20-25 age division and I was so shocked to hear my name. I like races that dole out ribbons for 5th place. I've never been so proud. (So what if there were only 6 in my age group...)

The third thing that made this race memorable was we all placed. Molly, Dad's coworker, took 1st for her 10K age division. Dad took Men's Overall (it's a track shoe and stop watch trophy thing) for the 10K. I placed 5th for my women's age division for the 5K. We were all pretty stoked. (This is also stoked Dad's race fever.)
And that, friends, is the Highway to Well recap.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jingle Bells and a PR

Sadly, the only full body picture of my outfit   
On Sunday Dad, Jason, and I arose before the sun and prepared for a very, very cold run. We would be running with chilled noses, fancy Christmas socks, and in honor of those who can't - those who suffer from debilitating arthritis. The Jingle Bell 5k Run/Walk for Arthritis was awaiting us and we were going to own it.

The course was a simple out-and-back 5K on Naito. We started by the World Trade Center. I had the pleasure of running into a girl I went to church and high school with. She was admiring my awesome socks when I turned around and said, "Lindy! Hi!" Always a fun way to kick start a day that started way too early.

At the World Trade Center ready to warm up

When the call came to start lining up, my girl friend lined up right on the start line. I lost the boys (all four of them) in the sea of faster-than-me runners. (Dad said, "I'd like to run with you, but I can't run that slow for that long." Thanks, Dad.) I found my post behind the "10+ minute" pace sign. In retrospect I should have lined up in front of the sign as I was trapped in a sea of strollers and dogs for a quarter mile and couldn't quite get around people. This may be the only race I've ever passed more than one person. (Somehow I missed posting about Highway to Well in October. That was a big deal - I got a ribbon and everything!)

Dad said, "You can't even see my sign from there!"

The highlight of being slower than everyone else is they were turning back before I was halfway through. So, I got to yell, "Go Christy!" and "Way to go J. Hall!" and "Daddy!" and "Bentley! Aaron!" when I spotted them coming back up the road. Basically, my two favorite things: seeing people I love and cheering on runners.

I'm proud to report that despite some remaining ankle nagging, this was my best race of all time. I didn't break my goal of sub-35, but I was close.
35:54.5 - don't judge ;-)

Most importantly, I actually had fun in this race and felt good for the duration - even that awful short hill on the way back. Sadly, there are no pictures of me coming down to the finish line - despite much jumping up and yelling, "Daddy!" as I ran along - as the people that did see me were on the wrong side of the road.

Was a fun event to do with some of my wonderful people and I'm getting really excited for the Shamrock Run in March. (Drove the 15K course, Dad is in for a good time... or not. We're doing the 8K.)
Dad the Elf, running buddies Aaron & Torie, Nike, Jason and J. Hall post-race

Monday, December 6, 2010

Week 18: A Record and a Tribute

Running is difficult for me. I want it to be fun and I want it to be easy, but right now it is not. I do know, however, it will get easier as long as I stick with it.

When my dad started running last year and was having really difficult days he told me he started thinking about our soldiers overseas and how they're sweating in the sandbox with all their gear and at least when he runs no one's shooting at him. (He, of course, said this all more eloquently than I'm remembering it.) So, when it was hard he ran harder for them and recognized all the sacrifices they are making and suddenly a 6 mile run around down in 85-degree weather didn't seem so bad.

Recently we started talking about marathon possibilities. (It's all about the goals.) In the midst of that conversation, Dad sent me this article about former Marine Sgt. Jeremy Soles, who ran the Marine Corps marathon in November and broke the Guinness Book of World Records for running with a gas mask. While I was floored by his accomplishment - I've tried those things on - I was moved by his reason for doing it.

Sgt. Soles, founder of  Team X-T.R.E.M.E., ran this record setting marathon in honor of  Marine Cpl. John Michael Peck who despite having suffered from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) insisted on returning to the battlefield.

"A lot of times, people ask why we run in a gas mask," Soles said. "Well, we use the gas mask to symbolize what we do. People often ask how difficult it is, and our first thing to tell them is it's not nearly as difficult as overcoming traumatic brain injury, which he did, not nearly as difficult as overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder, learning how to walk again with prosthetic limbs -- and people see the parallel."

Running for a cause. Running for those who can't. Running to honor. What better motivation could there be?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Week 17: An Art Piece

This week I was supposed to post about an art piece and was stumped. While in Disneyland, Jason took a picture of me kissing a little bronze Dumbo, which sparked the memory of my time in Barcelona.

This is me, Winter 2006, in Parque Guell of Gaudí fame. The mosaic lizard is quite famous and beautifully intricate. You can buy replicas throughout Spain, though I never did. (According to Wikipedia the lizard is actually a dragon. Who knew?)

I loved Parque Guell. It was interesting to see Antoni Gaudí's work in a colorful way after visiting La Sagrada Familia. (I was fascinated by the craftsmanship, but it's a bit of an eyesore.) The lizard is still one of my favorite memories and pieces.

Thankful Thursday: Funny Christmas Songs

I'm having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. Lame, I know. Especially since I *big puffy heart* Christmas. It's my fave. Pandora just blessed me with this song so I'm passing it on to you...