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Showing posts from 2018

The Surreal Surroundings of the Southwest

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Kanab, Utah is a busy place for a tiny town. Resting on the border with Arizona, it’s a convenient place to fuel up and wind down in between day trips throughout remote southern Utah and northern Arizona.  Except Sundays. Most of downtown closes up for the sabbath, and I’m assuming special dispensation is given to those who must work at one of the few hotels or restaurants that cater to us non-Mormons. We were warned the place shuts down on Sundays, but fortunately for us we found a restaurant that not only was open, but served caffeinated beverages (and even alcohol!). Hallelujah. I’m not going to kid you: Living in a multicultural, big city, I wasn’t accustomed to the homogeneity. Not only was everyone white and blond, but most eateries had huge tables filled with sister wives managing a large brood. We were in polygamy country, but we also were surrounded by some of the most beautiful landscape I’d ever seen. The only non-white, non-blond employee I ever saw was

Finding My Footing in the Granite State

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We were about three hours into the day’s hard hike when we took the first wrong turn. Then, about an hour later, on a slim path of slick granite boulders perched precariously along a cloud-dense cliff’s edge, we became consumed with death, specifically hikers who’ve perished, but in worse weather. By then I had broken my trekking pole, my shin’s skin, my shoe and my spirit. I couldn’t keep my backpack balanced, nor steady my fatigue-shaking legs. Anyone familiar with the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountains knows it’s difficult terrain, but I didn’t. I hadn’t done all of my homework. I also hadn’t physically prepared as well as I could, consumed with work deadlines and a family emergency in the weeks leading up to the trip in August 2016. But our team of two was determined to “bag” five peaks that day despite high winds, rain squalls and poor visibility. So, ever the businesswoman, I did a quick SWOT analysis in my head – taking in my strengths (my endurance, h

5 Days in the Grand Canyon

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One reason young people are encouraged to backpack through a region, a country, or a continent is to learn how little you need to get by in this world. All of your essentials—food, clothing and shelter (and maybe money)—you carry with you. In October 2015, I got my chance to embrace such simplicity. My goal was to come out of the Grand Canyon a different person than when I went in, and I knew that could only come about with some discomfort. First though, I needed to shed some weight. The Bitch and Her Sister Sacks My friend Tracy called her 50-pound backpack “The Bitch.” Dory’s weighed a little less but looked more menacing on her tiny frame. Margi and Maxine somehow carried their weight without it looking difficult. Me? I never warmed to my 42-pound backpack, let alone gave it a nickname. It broke on the first morning of use and failed to fully accept it had to haul contents beyond its official capacity. A little later than expected, we pulled into Cottonwood campgrounds.

Plenty of Running (None by Me)

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I sometimes forget what it’s like to belong to a running community. Not just any community either. I was part of the San Diego Track Club and for years the club—from weekly runs and Tuesday track workouts to volunteering and board membership—comprised a significant portion of my weeks and, quite frankly, life.  I’d belonged to two other running clubs before joining this one. The first was the Tidewater Striders, where other than “running into” some people from high school, I remained a lone wolf. Then we moved to Cape Cod and I joined the Falmouth Track Club, where I made some friends and enjoyed some excellent New England runs. But, again, I kept some distance due to my long weekday commutes into downtown Boston. I didn’t immediately warm to the San Diego Track Club either, but over time I grew to really enjoy everyone and felt like a part of a family. I looked forward to seeing familiar faces and developed deep friendships. I stayed in shape, too. Today, I got to feel a

Backfilling: Three Epic Hikes

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I mentioned when I returned to blogging that hiking is now my primary passion. I also mentioned I'm not very good at it. Coming up in three posts will be ramblings on three big hikes I did and what I learned from each. In some cases, I'm cheating a bit and updating something I wrote and published soon after the events because the thoughts still hold. As I pull these pieces together, I'll leave you with the "travel videos" I made to remember each very different trip. In tech parlance, I am co-locating these digital assets in case they disappear elsewhere on the interweb. I assure you they will never disappear from  my memory. First up: The Grand Canyon Hiking in the Grand Canyon from Run DMZ on Vimeo . Next: The Presidential Range Presidential Range Hike from Run DMZ on Vimeo . Finally: Points West Hiking in the Southwest from Run DMZ on Vimeo .

Life in Pictures

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Time to pull out the holiday decorations, go pick out a tree and get used to peppermint replacing everything pumpkin. My favorite holiday tradition is finally here too: sending and receiving Christmas cards. I know these annual exchanges are sometimes maligned as annoying and pretentious and antiquated in the age of online social media. But I look forward to hearing from old friends since I never joined Facebook and LinkedIn only keeps me connected to those still working. I joined Instagram in August 2017, a bit later than most and after the company was bought by Facebook (prescient, given Facebook is falling out of favor—and fast). Immediately a few friends found me and connected. Since then several dozen more have. I like that I can go through my feed and see every single post that day because it isn’t overwhelming. Some people want as many followers as possible. Not me. When I was homesick for San Diego, I checked my feed often to feel connected to the place. I loved th

A Breath of Fresh Air

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I spent half of this year unintentionally living in Oregon. That story is for another time. For now, let’s recall the high point of daily life then: the 30 to 45 minutes I ran in the morning. These runs happened just as the sun peeked over the gorgeous geological centerpiece of nearby Smith Rock State Park. More than once, they took place hours after I’d failed to fall asleep.  Sometimes I’d turn a corner and be gobsmacked by an incredible sunrise. More often, though, it was a gust of wintry wind. When I first tried to run, my legs and lungs rebelled. I barely made it 15 minutes before I was spent. I thought I was out of shape, but a nurse later told me I just hadn’t acclimated to the harsh temps and high desert elevation.  Even in late May and June, the outdoor thermometer registered in the mid-30s at dawn. It had been many years since I was forced to wear ear warmers and long sleeves beyond Memorial Day. I noticed snow covering a trio of volcanoes known as The Three Sist

Paradise Lost and Grandma Found

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Trees surrounding Bille Park in Paradise, pre-fire. In my last post , I mentioned my uncle had just passed. I didn’t mention where he died, which was in Paradise. Until this week, you may have never heard of this retirement community in the Sierra foothills ( although readers with excellent retention might ).  With all the other news this week—the mid-term elections; latest mass shooting; and LA fires—it’s possible you still don’t know about Paradise. A wildfire known as the Camp Fire because of its origin near Camp Creek broke out early Thursday. Intense, drying winds common this time of year helped sparks from a faulty transmission line forge a fire that quickly spread into nearby towns, the biggest of which was Paradise. My grandmother retired there about 30 years ago from New England. A lot of people retire here from other parts of California for the lower cost of living and because it’s pretty.  Was  pretty. What made it distinctive, especially to us relatives to the

The Football Pool

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For more than 40 years my dad and his brother, my Uncle Dick, ran a family football pool. They took this contest very seriously.  So seriously, that even if you were terminally ill or no longer on speaking terms, you sent in your picks.  My grandmother secretly feared that her sons' football pool actually was the genetic result of her late husband’s gambling addiction. Grandpa once literally bet the farm – and lost.  Still, the year that my husband and I won – and won big – she was the first to call and congratulate us. There were rules, and both Dad and Uncle Dick held everyone to them—especially their children. We got the odds from the same online source (after decades of using a national newspaper) and had to send in our picks in a certain format and by a certain time. My Dad kept an elaborate, handwritten spreadsheet on each player. My uncle kept his own to keep his brother honest.  There were opportunities if you were down a lot of games to make them up, or

Once in a Lifetime

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I read somewhere that everyone peaks in a career only once or twice in a lifetime. During that time you are your most creative, productive, influential and dependable self. You are in a near-constant state of flow, and your work has a positive impact on everyone around you—both in and outside the office. Some of us peak at our first job and then spend the next 30 or 40 years chasing the same dream. Others peak late in life, having tried on a range of roles before finding one with the best fit.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my career peaked around the same time I ran  marathons. I need movement to think, and long runs provided plenty of it. Marathon training also requires daily discipline and excellent time management when you are a full-time employee and full-time parent. Back then I mainly ran early mornings when everyone else was asleep. I always ran alone and without music, so I had plenty of time to talk to myself about issues, both personal and profession

Wordless Wednesday

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Two Weddings

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In the months leading up to both our daughters’ weddings, I watched the television show  Four Weddings . For the unfamiliar, four brides leverage their weddings to win a honeymoon. Most often they are judged by the other three contestants on the venue, decor, bride’s dress, vows, length of service, entertainment, quality of food and quantity of booze.  Rarely does the bride’s parents’ speech play a major factor, but that’s just because they never heard the speeches  I  gave. I got a lot of compliments on both, though perhaps that was just the effects of a five-hour open bar talking. Still, I thought it might be a nice way to introduce you to the newest members of our family. Alex & Alex, August 26, 2017 Scripps Seaside Forum, La Jolla Shores Saturday Afternoon in La Jolla Shores (Wedding Day) from Run DMZ on Vimeo . I’ve been ordered by Her Highness and a high-ranking member of her court to keep it short. So, without further ado: In preparing for th

Reeling in the Years

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The day my mother died I was housesitting for friends with a hillside custom home and a Belgian malinois still warming to me. I’d called my dad in Oregon religiously since saying goodbye to Mom ten days prior. There really is no describing the pain piercing every part of you as you drive away knowing you’ll never again see the woman who made you.  The hospice nurses said she could go any minute, but as minutes turned to days and then to a week, I think we privately convinced ourselves she would simply live in a vegetative state forever. In reality it just took the cancer cells a little longer to consume her brain and shut down her ability to breathe. When she went, she went quietly—so not like the woman I knew and loved. It must have been about 10 a.m. when I called for an update and my father couldn’t stop crying. “She’s gone,” was all he could muster between sobs. The gravity of those words pulled me down, literally. Next thing I knew I was wailing in a heap on the f

I Just Can't Quit You

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It was exactly five years ago that I said so long to blogging here on Run DMZ. I figured I’d give this another go, even if the focus and frequency shift and I write for an audience of one. Since leaving Run DMZ: I lost both of my parents and gained a son-in-law (with another son-in-law coming in September). I quit my non-profit job and went back to information security. I returned to my running roots: purely for pleasure, not PRs. I re-discovered the joys of BodyPump, even if I just quit the gym where I took classes. I dumped DailyMile and joined Instagram. I fell in love with hiking, despite it often feeling unrequited. How all this happened is worthy of another post. Or six.