Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sweet 16.

First day of school

The other day Cameron and I were watching TV together and a car commercial came on, the one where the dad is looking in through the car window at his toddler in the driver's seat. When the camera pans back we see the father holding out the keys to the daughter, and when we see her in the next frame, she's sixteen, smiling, and driving away.

After seeing this, Cameron said "He thought she was little but she's really big."


With my eldest starting kindergarten, I'm trying to focus on the fact that he's learning to read and do subtraction, rather than the larger implications, namely that time flies and I'm already envisioning him tossing his hat on graduation day and then Jay and I moving him into his dorm room, the other kids in tow wishing they were going to college too rather than being saddled for a few more years with the ol' ball and chain that is their parents.

Sometimes with all 3 littles at home the days seem so long. But then, like that, they're gone.

I wonder if long runs will ever be like that, if I'll ever find myself saying "I thought it was going to be long but then it was short." More likely, I'll say "I thought it was going to be long and then it was...longer."

Saturday saw my first 16 mile run, the second in a series of runs that will only get longer and will culminate on November 7th with 26.2 in New York. There's really no two ways around the fact that running for 2 and a half hours is a long time, and whereas I don't want to miss a second of my kids growing up, I wouldn't mind missing a few miles here and there, if I somehow went from mile 5 to mile 9 without realizing it. Occasionally I hit a zen-like state and feel like I can run for days and days, but those moments are rare. I'm reminded of the foreword to my pocket edition of the Tao, written by Stephen Mitchell, where he says
A good athlete can enter a state of body-awareness in which the right stroke or the right movement happens by itself, effortlessly, without any interference of the conscious will. This is a paradigm for non-action: the purest and most effective form of action. The game plays the game; the poem writes the poem; we can't tell the dancer from the dance.
And so the runner runs the run, the mother loves the child, the child grows up, sometimes without our really even realizing it's happening. Not yet though...not yet. I'm still running in circles, acutely aware of this race I'm running, every single mile and milestone, trying to be grateful and thankful for the gift that is my health, my children, my life.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My Albatross.

Congratulations to Greg D and Katie G for correctly identifying the title quote from "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Your prizes are in the mail once Fleet Feet reopens from their recent bout with water damage.

This poem is one of my all-time favorites, and I'm resisting the temptation to launch into a protracted discussion on the merits of this epic piece, metaphorical and otherwise . I'll abstain though, knowing that most of you were way over this type of business back in the 10th grade when you (were supposed to) read said poem.

You'll have to humor me a little here, however, as I reference "Rime" and discuss my current albatross: the heat. It could be so many things, and for each of you it's something different and reflective of where you are in your life--for Chris it's the fact that he's a Tarheel graduate and a rabid Duke fan, and for so many of you it's more serious--an illness, a regret, grief, anger-whatever it is that hangs around your neck and just won't let go. I have any number of albatrosses on any given day, but as this is a blog where the writing spirals out from running, I'm sticking with heat. It's August and I'm done with it.

Last weekend I ran 14 miles, my longest distance to date. I was at Isle of Palms with some good friends from college, one of which has run the New York marathon and has lived in Manhattan off and on for the past 12 years. She was our tour guide when Jay ran it in 2008 and I can't wait to see her again in a few short months for marathon day, a special day for her for many reasons. One friend is pregnant and due shortly with girl #2 and has temporarily put up her running shoes, one friend just started running again but is mainly chasing her two daughters, ages 3 and 1, around, and the other friend is the kind of friend who'll get up at 7:30 while on vacation to come meet you for the last 5 miles of your long run.

She was reluctant, I know; she dreamed twice that I left her a note saying I'd decided to bag it, and so real were these dreams that she actually got up and came back to my bedroom to check and see if I was still in bed, hoping for all hopes that I was. I wasn't.

Despite the 90 degree heat, lack of breeze and 100% humidity, she came anyway. And here's the kicker-we met at the base of the Cooper River Bridge and started running uphill straightaway. Many of you have at least driven this bridge, so you know that the first mile is brutal. You're rewarded with lovely views(that give me vertigo, sadly) and a nice 1.5 mile descent on the other side...unless you decide to turn around and run back up and over it, which we did.
I've mentioned before that running partners are a vital, integral part of running. I know some people like to run alone, and I certainly don't mind it. But at mile 9 I was "Alone, alone, all, all alone," and looking forward to some company, so having a partner that showed up and stayed positive, that told funny stories about her dating life when all I wanted to do was lie down in the road and loll about, well, there was nothing quite so necessary and refreshing at that stage in the game. With my friend there "The Albatross fell off, and sank/ Like lead into the sea." To say I totally forgot about the heat would be stretching it, but her presence took my mind off the pain and the scorching temperature and saturating humidity; it made all the difference. So thank you, friend, for going the distance and being there in so many ways.

On another note, my apologies for the lag in posts. We've been getting this guy ready for kindergarten this week with his first official day this past Friday, so I've been a little preoccupied. More on that later!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Water, water everywhere/Nor any drop to drink.


This giveaway is twofold-one prize goes to the first person who can correctly identify where the title quote comes from WITHOUT googling it.

One prize goes to the person who identifies it correctly, whether or not they have to look it up.

To participate, click on the little envelope at the bottom right of this post and email me at with your answer. I'm too inept to figure out how to hide the comments while still making it possible for you to comment, so I've left the comment section available if you'd like to comment on the post. I like to make things as complicated as possible.

Prizes TBA.

Last week I mentioned briefly that I was severely dehydrated and not yet prepared to discuss the situation. Now that I've had some distance from the episode-and the toilet-I can reflect and learn from what happened.

In the same post, I mentioned that Cameron was sick last Monday. As such, I took care of him and neglected to take care of myself (cue the tiny violins). I ate a bowl of cereal and a piece of toast. I had one glass of water and one cup of coffee, and that was it. So when Jay came home at 5 and suggested that I go for my 12 mile run then, I should have known better.

Neglecting my better judgement, I went anyway.

The run took fooooooorrrrrreeeeevvvveeeerrrrr, as my pace was a minute and a half slower than my average race pace. That may not seem significant, but all told the run took about 20 minutes longer than it should and in that heat, 20 minutes seemed like a lifetime. The last six miles were on the new portion of the Swamp Rabbit Trail, which though awesome, is without water fountains. Ironically, the trail follows the Reedy River, and there were plenty of folks out with water bottles, and I was sweating profusely, so there was water, water everywhere...just no water for me to drink. When I finally finished, I located a water fountain at Spill the Beans and had about 12 Solo cups full of water. Bad idea, I know, but I just couldn't stop.

After making dinner and getting everyone in bed(Jay did most of this, to be fair), I sat down on the sofa with what felt like a raging hangover. Anyone who's ever had one of those-and there may be one or two of you out there-can relate...head between your knees, loud, obnoxious mouth breathing where you're thinking any number of mantras from "Why did I do this" to "I'll never do this again" to "Please, please don't throw up" when all of a sudden you realize you're in flight towards the bathroom, where the inevitable happens. Again. And again. And again.

As Tommy said, I was literally gutting it out. And it was not pretty.

I wish I could say that I will do everything right from here on out, from properly fueling and hydrating pre and post run, to sufficient stretching, to adequate rest. But I probably won't. I'll do my best, though, and it will certainly be better than last Monday. Hydration and nutrition are no joke, nor is the heat. Nor is twelve miles. I can't take any of these factors for granted-I know this!

And if I didn't, the time I spent gutting it out was reminder enough.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

We are Family.

Not pictured from this year: Cameron and Ryan
Not pictured and sorely missed: The Wagners (of Canal Fulton and Columbus), The Wileys, The Richardsons, and Jill

Whenever you decide to run with one person who's trying to qualify for Boston and another person who's actually run Boston, all of your runs kind of turn into tempo runs. Such was the case this past week at my family reunion.

This summer marks the 20th anniversary of our Dickerson Family Beach Blast, the week when all the cousins, aunts, uncles, and my grandparents- when they were living- all get together for a week of sun and fun, dancing, karaoke, ping-pong tournaments, "Drinking Brew Again", skits, home-brew, and late-night pool playing, among other shenanigans. It's always been one of my favorite weeks spent with some of my favorite people, and though its attendance ebbs and flows depending on baseball games, births, jobs, etc, it's always a reminder of my original and lasting community. These people were my people before I even realized I had people; that we like each other and have common interests is a plus. These days, if we're not chasing small children or playing freeze tag, we're rehashing old stories with our parents or discussing family history, or talking about travel, triathlons, books, volleyball, and running. If we're lucky we actually get to go running.

I've been fortunate to run several times recently with my cousin Tommy, first for a brutal 10 miler in Greenville and then again at the beach for 5 miles. Tommy is efficient and smart and fun to run with because he's so much faster than me and therefore can talk the whole time. Oxygen is at a premium when I'm trying to keep up with him, so I basically give the obligatory "uh-huhs" and "yeahs", hopefully with a passable amount of enthusiasm. I am interested in everything Tommy's saying; I'm just more interested in breathing and surviving.

Molly, Tommy's sister and a 3:38 marathoner and former Team in Training coach, humored me and ran 4 miles with me at the beach on Friday. It was sweltering; we enjoyed ourselves regardless, even though the sun was literally melting our faces, and not in the AC/DC awesome kind of way. Molly's run many marathons, and I loved hearing her various tips and stories about memorable races and training experiences. Funny, smart, articulate, and obviously fast, Molly's a mom and a lawyer who, despite having a lot going on in her life, is managing to get back into running after a brief hiatus. When you can run like Molly and have legs like Molly and natural talent like Molly, you can't not run.

We're home now, and I really wish Tommy, Molly, Maddy and Joy(who got in some great long runs together) were here to make me run this week. Getting out after Jay gets home from work in the heat and humidity is going to be difficult. That's when running with someone is absolutely imperative, when having running partners makes all the difference.

For now it will be just me, and maybe my ipod playing Sister Sledge's We are Family or John Denver's Country Roads as a reminder of a community that's stuck with me, no matter what.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Entomology: Hat Trick.

Today on my run I came across this little fella in Cleveland Park.
I cradled him in my right hand for nine miles. I suppose that's what you do when your avid bug collector and soon to be six-year-old son is laid up on the sofa all day with a double ear infection, fever, and chills.
Strangely enough, Cameron found this little monster outside the doctor's office this morning. Even after vomiting all over the receptionist's desk, he still had the eyes for this gem. The kid pays attention.
Then to make this lovely trifecta complete, Jay found this creature in the parking lot at the hospital in Spartanburg. I can't lie-I was a little troubled by this one. I didn't really want to touch it, but got over it for the sake of these stellar photos I'm posting.
Please note the pretzel for scale in all of these photos, a nod to Mr. Fox, my eighth grade Earth Science teacher and purveyor of the importance of relativity and scale. The pretzel is also relevant because I am ridiculously dehydrated after the aforementioned run, but more on that later. I can't quite bring myself to write about it just yet.

I also saw a black snake slithering across the trail and a hawk swoop down with great intention today, as well as cardinals, mockingbirds, and bluebirds. The bluebirds could be a little Uncle Remis coming through-pretty sure I was delirious at the end of the run.

All in all I made it through the run intact, Cameron's fever went down and he finally got off the sofa around 5 pm, and in his words, "It was a pretty good day."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Sunday Smile.

We're coming home from the beach today so I'll write more later, but for now this picture makes me laugh so I thought I'd share.
Hope everyone is enjoying these last days of summer.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

If I Were on Twitter, I'd Write This.

While running at the beach today, I got honked at by a car full of teenage boys.
Woot woot!