Showing posts from February, 2007

Lest I Forget Yet Again...

Thank you all for your well wishes for me and your prayers for my friend Joe, whose cancer is inoperable but whose treatment holds some promise. He's been told to get his affairs in order, but he's also been told those final wishes may not need to be carried out for some time to come. All that positive energy you're exuding is helping purge the nasty germs from my system. As you can tell from my earlier rant, I'm returning to my normal self. Which may or may not be a good thing. And I suddenly know what it feels like to really rest, not just slow down. I highly recommend it, and not just when you're sick.

I'm Not About to Swallow This Happy Pill

I admit that the time to watch a DVD on The Secret is probably not when curled up on the couch with a hacking cough, sour stomach and notice from the IRS saying you really botched it this time. Still, a coworker swore this would change my life and that sounded pretty darn good at the moment. Two days later, I’m still trying to figure out what’s all the fuss. The Secret is the Next Big Thing in self-help that says think positively and good things will happen to you. True enough, particularly if you live in a land of opportunity (and this book/video is definitely not marketed to places that aren’t). Our world is what we make of it. It’s the law of attractions part that bugs me. Broken down to simplistic terms, the secret is that we’re all bundles of physical energy that attract similar energies. And that people exuding negativity should blame themselves for their continual misfortunes. To some extent, yes. But does this mean abused children had it coming? And genocide victims just don’

Trailing in My Training

Since I’m signed up for a trail 10k next week, I thought I should probably run on at least one trail prior to the race. That led me to Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve for this weekend’s long run. The prior week’s wet spell had left the trails officially closed, but that didn’t stop me and dozens of others (eventually) from using them. I was a little nervous when I arrived around 7. The place doesn’t officially open until 8, and the parking lot at the trailhead was empty. But soon as I saw a runner coming into a clearing and a pair of women with a dog heading in, I made a run for it. I checked the outdoor temperature: 40 degrees. Perfect for staying cool and reducing the risk of rattlesnake encounters, which are common here. There are parallel dirt/sand paths on each side of a creek leading to the midpoint of the 6-mile long trail system: a boulder-strewn “waterfall.” One route leads you through riparian pathways whose shade surely meant mud, and lots of it. I stayed in the open preserv

When Friday Nights Weren't So Warm

I admit to a little gloating and goading with all these pretty pictures lately. But there was a time when I too finished February runs with a frosted heinie. And since I mentioned grad school earlier this week, I thought I'd share my take on a local running phenomenon that I wrote for a class called "Writing on Society." The focal character is the longtime director of the Cape Cod Marathon. And, far as I know, the Falmouth Fives still exist. If you are ever on the Upper Cape visiting, you should definitely show up. It's a great evening run. Remembering The Friday Night Five (2000) Sixteen men and women gather under the glow of a Falmouth Town Hall parking lot light, bobbing bodies and gently stretching hamstrings and quadriceps and calves swathed in synthetic cloth. Their Nikes and Sauconys pat down an inch-thick layer of snow left by plows. The air temperature is 14 degrees. The Weather Channel says with the wind it feels more like –30. Ranging in age from early 2

An Offer Delivered...and Immediately Accepted

First reaction upon learning Dad got a job: “Yea!!!! Congratulations!!! I’m so happy for you!” Second reaction upon learning Dad got a job: “Oh no, now he won’t be making dinner anymore.” Yep, it’s back to my experimental cooking. But, hey, at least our bank account will be well fed.

Visiting Dean's Hometown

My friend Suzanne once wrote one of the best openings to a personal journalism piece that I’ve ever read. It went something like this: “Last year I ran the Boston Marathon as a bandit, and I’ll never do it again.” Our small Boston University class was divided during that morning’s discussion, not on the ethics of her actions but the literary device used to tell her story. Honestly, I think I was the only one that understood the magnitude of what Suzanne had done. We became friends that semester and unlike the vast majority of people from my grad school days, she actually did keep in touch. That proved fortunate because she and her husband Jeff a few years ago moved from Massachusetts to Orange County. We try to get together throughout the year and yesterday we met up in San Clemente. Outside running circles, this place is probably best known for its surfing and as the late President Nixon’s summer home. But now it’s also know as the place where ultramarathoner Dean Karnazes grew up. We

A Little Spring in My Step

This morning I again volunteered to work an aid station for our track club's marathon training program, passing out water and Gookinaid with two highly inspirational runners. Our station was near the Visitor's Center within the Mission Bay recreational complex. This time I planned ahead and wore running attire to go for a quick one (as in time, not pace) once we were done. If you've ever vacationed in San Diego, chances are you stopped by Mission Bay. Its parks, beaches and waterfronts are beautiful yearround and today was no exception. (The bay's water quality is another story....) I could not help smiling at everyone as I took in the fit and the fortunate -- young families, lovers, tourists, senior citizens and plenty of rowers and runners -- all enjoying what we here sometimes take for granted: perfect spring-like weather. The recent rains had left the grassy earth beneath my feet spongy and forgiving -- perfect for someone heading into a trail run in a few weeks. I

Moving the Finish Line

Anyone that’s been my friend long enough knows it takes some work on their part to maintain the relationship. I’m not always timely returning e-mails and I’m even worse when it comes to phone calls or letters. So when my friend Joe called from Pittsburgh the other night, I assumed it was because I’d failed to follow up with him. Last time we talked, he wanted to fly out in April to again run the La Jolla Half Marathon with me. Instead, he called to cancel. Just hours before, he learned he has lung cancer. He’s never smoked, always stayed fit and lived most of his life in Indiana, which I understand has decent air quality. So of all the organs for disease to seize, lungs were a long shot. He related how scared he was of dying and what he feared in terms of treatment. All I could offer was for him to stay positive and to know that regardless of what the future held, he had had a huge impact on people as a father, friend and journalist. In the end, that’s what we all wish: to have made

Short Circuit

I’m always trying to reconcile the speedwork on my half marathon training schedule with that assigned at our track club’s Tuesday night workouts. Fortunately, they follow a similar pattern: intervals one week; tempo runs the next. And I don’t think Hal minds me moving it up a day so I can be surrounded by a couple hundred of my closest running friends. Last night my group was to do 4 x 800 (2 laps around the track = 800 meters) with 25 sit-ups/pushups/jumping jacks in between. I recalled the other schedule recommending 6 x 800, so I compromised and while everyone was cooling down, I did another circuit. The entire evening felt surprisingly good, especially coming off a major home plumbing crisis and work day so brutal I not only got into the banana chips and Diet Coke but topped it off with a popcorn-soup-Twinkie lunch. And yet last night I wasn’t slowest in my lane, as usual. In fact, I gained on more than a few who normally pass me. Perhaps more things need to go wrong in my life p

Race Report: 2007 Couples Run

I should have seen this coming. Dying his hair yellow. The text-messaging back and forth. Coming home all hot and sweaty from Bikram yoga (or so he says). Yep, my training partner Mark’s got himself a younger woman. True, I’ve let myself go since this summer. And I wasn’t around when he needed me. But, by partnering up this morning for the 22nd annual Couples Run, I hoped we could rekindle a little bit of what we once shared. Mark and I met when he was training for his first marathon and like any pair on the same pace, we grew close. Like a real husband, he was aware of my mood swings and monthly cycles; he’d even pretend to listen to me chatter nonstop when, I suspect, he actually was tuning into Jack Johnson on his iPod. In turn, I learned so much about his family that by the time I met his wife, Janice, she seemed like an old friend. Mark and I ran on and off together until my fractured hip in June. By then he'd already started running with the much younger Jackie, and -- no coi

Ghost in the Machine

Numerous people have asked about my weird list. I can’t explain my aversion to chocolate and coffee, but I can come clean on the fourth item dealing with the paranormal. So for Susi and the others, here you go. We moved into our 35-year-old house on the edge of a canyon four years ago this month. Like the rest of my suburb, the land used to be part of newspaper magnet E.W. Scripp's Miramar Ranch. Occasionally I’d wake in the middle of the night and sense a body next to me, only to turn and find myself alone in bed. Other times, our electronics would go haywire in the house. Sure, it’s spooky, especially when the computer monitor turns itself on despite the computer power being off, casting the entire house in an odd nocturnal glow. But I always rationalized these events because, despite what you might think, I’m really a sensible gal. Then around the holidays, things got really weird. Late one night I woke to the sensation of light movement swirling around my head, and gaining forc

How Weird is This?

There’s an online campaign to normalize weirdness, and Bob in Florida’s tagged many individuals to participate. Just look at his zany blog and you’ll see that the cause couldn’t have asked for a better cheerleader :-). I’ve actually enjoyed reading some other responses, which may not necessarily eradicate weirdness but definitely shows a lot of OCD-like habits in the running community. No surprise there. Six Weird Things About Me 1. I don’t like chocolate. 2. I’ve never had coffee. 3. I talk to strangers. 4. I recently contacted paranormal investigators to see if our house is haunted. Strangely, I really want there to be a ghost, because otherwise I hear voices. 5. I’m right-handed but left-footed. 6. I’ve saved a bottle of sparkling mineral water in our refrigerator for five years and two moves...and I don’t even like sparkling mineral water.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus

Tonight I discovered there's a microbrewery within easy walking/stumbling distance of our house. With a tiny pub that serves only beer, and lots of it. I think I've just found the cure to my cold.

Volunteer Report: Twin Peaks Trail Ultras

The highlight around which most of my weekend activities revolved was assisting where needed with Jessica ’s first ultra trail races deep in the mountains and canyons of southern Orange County. I spent most of Friday and Saturday nights baking 250 brownies that not only required 12 boxes of the basic mix and four big bags of Hershey’s kisses (my secret ingredient) but two unplanned emergency grocery store runs to replenish rapidly depleted canola oil and egg supplies. I also was bogged down by a bad cold. I couldn’t sleep Saturday night and was on the road just after 4 a.m. to get to the start/aid station in an unfamiliar area. As it turned out, it was just several miles from where my parents lived prior to retiring to Oregon. All this time there were these beautiful trails out here, and I’d always felt forced during extended visits to run their very vanilla suburban streets. I got momentarily lost and arrived just as the 50-milers were starting off. I also arrived with dead batte