Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2015: Epicness epitomized

2015 was a most excellent year for sure.

Some things changed: I got married. My parents got divorced. Mozzie moved in with his canine BFF Dewey and I moved in with my human BFF Pete. We bought a new house. I gained a stepdaughter. And a step-granddaughter. I turned 34. I wrote an eBook just because I felt like it.

Some things stayed the same: There was a lot of running, adventuring, hugging and sugar consumption.

Sometimes the happy things were also sad and the sad things were also happy.

I don't have enough words to adequately explain the weird and wonderful whirlwind that was 2015. All I can do is thank you for filling my year with awesomeness. And then throw down some evidence of said awesomeness:


Running
 
 

 
 

 
 
 
Climbing



 


 

 
 
Traveling
 
 
 
 
 
Working hard at 5am
 

 
 
 
Getting married
 
 
 
 
 
Hugging all the bears








Without a doubt this was my best year yet. And if I'm living my life right, I'll be able to say that about each subsequent year I'm fortunate enough to be alive.

Lyric of the moment: "Say everything you've always wanted. Be not afraid of who you really are. Cause in the end we have each other. And that's at least one thing worth living for..." ~A Great Big World "This Is The New Year"

Monday, December 28, 2015

This is Robot Christmas

To be honest, I don't care about Christmas. I'm not religious. Or particularly into shopping. And especially not into being stressed out about buying things no one needs just because...Capitalism! I'd rather run by the trees than cut one down, display it in our house for a couple of weeks then throw it away, leaving a sad (and exasperatingly ubiquitous!) trail of pine needles. But these are not the kind of things you can say out loud, unless you want to get that what are you, some kind of robot? look. Don't get me wrong, holidays are pretty sweet. I think we should totally have more holidays. I just think spending lots of money on gifts and decorations is sort of missing the point. I think Christmas is about a different kind of generosity, that of the heart and spirit.

Sometimes life is hard, sometimes winter is long. The time we have together is not enough. It's just not. Everyone departs too soon. That is life. So we have to make the most of our limited time here. That is the point of holidays. That is the point of everything. To be with each other and take care of each other. To give the things that everyone really needs, which are understanding and compassion. To, as Vonnegut says "love whoever is around to be loved."

I wanted to spend Christmas the way I spend all the other days of the year: being with my favorite people, running, laughing and eating all the cookies. So that's what we did. On Christmas Eve, Pete and I watched Donnie Darko and The Mothman Prophecies (because he had never seen the former and I'd never seen the latter). On Christmas day, Pete and I went on a little run through Corbett's Glen, then had dinner with his family and dessert with my mom. The day after, we ran 10 miles on the Crescent Trail (Thanks to Valone for organizing!), went to second breakfast (Thanks Bob!) and hosted a holiday party for our trail family. Our 1200 square foot house, while more than enough space for the two of us, is a little small for large gatherings. Still, I think a good time was had by all. (Also, some people brought their kids which gave me an excuse to make tater tots. You know, for the kids. Not, like for me or anything. I'm an adult. With an exceedingly refined palate. Just kidding. I can't even begin to say that with a straight face.)

Happiest of holidays and infinity of thanks to you, my loves. Your presence in my life is the best gift, on Christmas day and all the days!

Lyric of the moment: "Faithful friends who are dear to us gather near to us once more. Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow. Hang a shining star upon the highest bough. And have yourself a merry little Christmas now..." ~Hugh Martin & Ralph Blane "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This Is Marriage: Day 102

At long last we are all moved into our new house! I have to re-learn how to get to all my favorite places starting from this new location. This morning I went to Fit1 at Corn Hill, so I put the address for Tony D's into my phone to get directions. The GPS helpfully suggested that, at 4:45am, "Tony D's may not be open at this time" and asked if I still wanted to go there. I did because I was not going to Corn Hill for wood fired pizza, I was going to meet a man under a bridge to get some muscles. Gustavo said "You're the only one coming this morning so I'm going to push you," which sounded kind of scary, but it was a beautiful morning (I love the reflection of the lights on the water and the sounds of cars going over the bridge and there was even some thunder!), the time went by quickly and I threw bricks in the water, per usual. When I got home, Pete was in the basement painting the closet doors. Shirtless (because he got paint on his shirt). Score! I could totally get used to this whole coming home to a handsome, shirtless dude thing. I flexed my biceps and was all like "Look at my muscle! Look how big it is!" (Truth: it is not very big at all, but it is slowly getting bigger. As in, you can maybe tell there might be some semblance of a muscle under there somewhere). And Pete laughed and said "Very nice. What are you going to do with that?" And I hugged him. The point of having muscles is so you can give better hugs, obviously.

People say things like "You can tell you're newlyweds" when we say or do nice things for each other or just seem like we actually like each other or whatever. I gave Pete 12 Days of Christmas themed cards, one to open every day he was away on his latest trip. (I make him cards for all his trips, nothing fancy, just funny notes and little surprises. I have fun writing them and it gives him something to look forward to opening every day. He has more patience than I do. I couldn't stand the suspense and would probably open them all on the first day, or at least the ones that felt like they had candy inside of them.) So this latest group of cards was a different funny note and little gift for every day - On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 1 chapstick made from Burt's Bees, On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 2 chocolate doves, On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me: 4 jokes for nerds, etc. When I picked Pete up at the airport, the coworker he was travelling with said he liked the card idea but he had made some comment to Pete about how it wouldn't last.

I feel kind of sad about that, how people assume that love fades over time or gets complacent or whatever. I don't think it has to be that way. The longer my life goes on, the more excited I get about it and the more grateful I feel for it. I'd like to think that marriage could be like that too. I don't ever want to take this partnership for granted. I want to give it the care and effort and appreciation that it deserves. Because it's important to me. I don't know what's going to happen. Life is a crapshoot of good things and bad things, funny things and sad things. But if I get to have someone holding my hand through even part of that, I'm lucky indeed. Every day I have the immense pleasure of being here, of being married to Pete and of being with all of you, running, adventuring, laughing and loving, is a day to be infinitely grateful for.

Marriage is an honor that I hope I can live up to.

Lyric of the moment: "I wanna live life, and always be true. I wanna live life, and be good to you, I wanna fly and never come down. And live my life. And have friends around..." ~Coldplay "We Never Change"

Monday, December 14, 2015

Moving. An adventure in 21 steps.

  1. Say yes to the tall, funny guy who asks you to marry him at the top of a collapsed volcano after you have run 40+ miles (because what else would you do on vacation?).
  2. Make an offer on a house you adore. Lose out to someone else's higher offer.
  3. Get married. Live somewhere in between your two houses for a while. At first, worry that this is going to be weird, being married and not really living together. But in actuality, it turns out to be awesome, this in-transition phase where you get to have both a husband and your own house with a super awesome roommate.
  4. Try to make an offer on another house and lose out again.
  5. Go to look at more houses. Comically awful houses. With two toilets in one room and another toilet next to the washer and dryer. With yellow tubs and green tubs and no, seriously, someone tell me what is the deal with all these terribly pastel bathroom fixtures?
  6. Go to visit a house with your realtor that you really think could be "the one." Except that the key in the lockbox seems perilously close to breaking off in the lock. But hey, the kitchen window is open so the three of you hatch an ingenious plan wherein Pete will lift you up through the kitchen window and you will crawl over the sink and then unlock the front door from the inside. The story you get from this will turn out to be far better than the house.
  7. Make an offer on a third house. That is accepted! Wait what feels like 2 million years, but is actually only about 2 months, for your closing date.
  8. Go to the closing and sign your name approximately 87 billion times. You give the bank the biggest check you have ever written. And the bank gives you 2 pens and a key. Those are some very expensive pens, apparently.
  9.  Rip up the carpet in your new house to discover that yes, there are hardwood floors underneath but no, they are not in very good condition.
  10. Conspire with Alison and Bob to kidnap Jeff and cheer him up with Saturday shenanigans involving pizza, euchre, cookies and pulling the carpet staples out of your master bedroom floor. It takes the 4 of you 2 hours to pull up the approximately 7 thousand staples in the floor. You know you have the best friends when they let you kidnap them and even drive you around and suggest helping you with manual labor.
  11. Give up on de-stapling and think: Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters! I mean, Rochester Hardwoods. They are awesome and you can't even believe how much better the floors look after they have been de-stapled, sanded, stained and coated. Apparently the company can't believe it either because they take before and after pictures to use in their new commercial.
  12. Go to the store with Pete and pick out paint colors for your entire house in only 5 minutes. This task takes a surprisingly short amount of time, especially considering one of you is colorblind. Agree that you are both sick of painting after painting all the rooms in your own respective houses over the years, so you decide to hire Wade from Red Truck Painting to paint all the rooms in the colors you have chosen.
  13. Get a California King bed delivered with a 9" box spring so you can feel like you are sleeping on a mountain every night. (This is the most important step!)
  14. Be ruthless in the culling of your possessions so that you have less shit to move. While packing, have conversations with yourself like "Do I need any of these pans?" "Haha, that was a joke. Of course not." "Do I really need 3 ice cream scoops?" "Yes, but for the sake of minimalism I will only take my most favorite one." "Do I really need all these shoes?" "Yes, but for the sake of minimalism, I'll cut it down to 2 pairs of trail shoes, 2 pairs of road shoes and 1 pair of hiking shoes."
  15. Spend your very last week in the very first house you bought all by your very self. Surprisingly, the things that make this move seem real are not the things that you thought would. The house going up for sale doesn't phase you at all. But you run from your house to Cobb's Hill 3 times that week because it makes you sad to think it's the last time you're ever going to do that. The last Doctor-Who-and-burritos night with Adam makes you sad because the girl is going to give up the adventure and The Doctor is mad at the soldier and the soldier is...why is he even there anyway? And you want to yell at the girl: Don't choose that boy over a lifetime of adventure! Choose the kind of boy who will adventure with you!
  16. Devise a secret plan to hire Sheridan Brothers moving to schlep the big furniture from your house and Pete's house to the new house while he's away on a work trip so you can surprise him after you pick him up from the airport. Have to ruin the surprise and call him when the movers tell you his couch won't fit into the finished basement room and one of the movers offers to buy it.
  17. Be lucky enough to be friends with Chris, who brings you pizza and helps you set up internet in your new house while Pete's flight keeps getting delayed. Have fun thinking of names for your wireless network. Chris suggests RobotSailor and you suggest RobotSeaman and Chris is like seaman spelled "S-E-A-M-A-N!"
  18. At long last, pick up your seaman from the airport. Spend the rest of the weekend working on your new house. While at the hardware store, come up with an ingenious plan to fix the kitchen garbage drawer, which refuses to stay fully closed, a fact that has been bothering you since the first time you saw this house, with Gorilla Glue and magnets. Pete says "That's almost a good idea." Which you are now going to say to him all the time. For the record, it was totally a good idea and a successful one. Robot 1, kitchen drawer 0.
  19. Find the Pier 1 elephant curtains you have wanted for years but were too cheap to buy on eBay for a fraction of the price. Buy them, wash them and hang them in your new master bedroom. You're not a "stuff" person but elephants, man. Elephants are good luck. And they never forget. So every time you wake up in your new bedroom you will look at the elephants and you will remember. Even on the sad days, when your Pete is deployed in a far away place and you didn't even think it was possible to miss someone so much, you will remember how ridiculously lucky you are.
  20. Get high off the fumes from the goop remover you are using to remove old dried-on paint from the slate on the floor in front of your fireplace (you have a fireplace!!!) while Pete assembles the new TV stand and TV. Think about how weird it is having a TV again after a decade of using a projector. Answer the door to find that a neighbor has brought you muffins!
  21. Sitting on your couch in front of your fireplace (Again I must emphasize: You. Have. A. Fireplace!!! And a firepit! All the fires! Oh, and a candle that you forgot to blow out until the next morning. Oops!), watching The Flash on Netflix, your stomach full of delicious tacos and muffins, your jetlagged Pete having fallen asleep on your shoulder, it hits you that this is it, this is home.
Lyric of the moment: "I'll follow you into the park, through the jungle, through the dark. I never loved one like you. Moats and boats and waterfalls, alleyways and pay phone calls. I've been everywhere with you, that's true...And in the streets you run a-free, like it's only you and me. Geez, you're something to see. Ah, home, let me go home. Home is wherever I'm with you..." ~Edward Sharpe And The Magnetic Zeros "Home"




Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Things that are funny about Bikram Yoga

Usually I only go to Bikram yoga when there is a Groupon offer available. The classes are expensive and there's a limit to how much I'm willing to pay for the opportunity to drown in my own sweat. This month they were offering a 10 class pass for $20, which is a huge deal since classes are normally $20 each. At times it's kind of intense, but I like Bikram (except for the breathing exercises. Those are weird). I like the heat, I like the repetition of the same 26 poses every class, but mostly I love the words because they are hilarious. These are the things about Bikram that I find particularly funny:

  • The hallway is lined with pictures of shirtless dudes posing on tiger skin rugs with "Blue Steel" faces. Why are they doing this? No one knows. Maybe if you become a true Bikram devotee you get your own tiger rug?

  • The goal of Bikram seems to be to lock your knees and to wear the least amount of clothing. I like to see how many classes I can go to before seeing that guy, you know the one wearing nothing except a Speedo. It is usually two at most.

  • Party Time. The instructor says this after the first 3 postures, when you are finally allowed your first water break. There are no piƱatas or cake but that first sip of cold water feels like a party in your mouth.

  • Japanese Ham Sandwich. The instructor says this during Hands To Feet Pose. It's a standing, forward bending stretch in which you are supposed to place your fingers underneath your heels, stomach touching thighs, chest touching knees, face touching shins. The instructor tells you your body should look like a Japanese ham sandwich. I had no idea what this meant until Mr. Internet told me a Japanese ham sandwich is just bread and meat, no lettuce or other sandwich ingredients. So you're supposed to be all smushed up against yourself with no space between your parts. Or something. PSA: Don't do this during a bear attack, you'll only be making yourself look more delicious and sandwich-y.

  • Costume. The instructor tells you to lift up your foot so it is touching your costume, which means your clothes. I think the costume you're supposed to be going for is 'sweaty strip club.'  If you're not dressed like you could be performing at a strip club, you are wearing too much clothing for Bikram yoga.

  • "Mama give me money." The instructor tells you to bend your elbow, put out your hand, palm facing up, turn your arm outward and say "Mama give me money." Then you pick up your foot with your hand. I think it is supposed to help you get the right grip on your foot. Or induce giggles. Or maybe it's because you could use some money now that you have spent all yours on this hot-as-balls yoga class.
Bikram, man. It's the best.

Lyric of the moment: "Coming at the target, you're as straight as Magellan. If you've got a secret weapon, well you're as sure as hell ain't telling.'Cause your mouth made an offer that the bodies cannot veto. No woman can resist a man who looks good in a Speedo..." ~Caviar "Tangerine Speedo" (Because it is impossible to listen to this song without laughing. And sometimes you just need that.)


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

This Is Marriage: Day 93

We interrupt the regularly scheduled adventuring and cookie eating shenanigans to bring you some serious shit. Nonsense will resume tomorrow, but today it's going to get a bit heavy.

I am a military wife and a stepmom. Until recently, these were merely abstract concepts to me. Then two phone calls transformed them into cold, hard facts with two D words. One is deployment and one is domestic violence. I do not know how to maintain a marriage while living in separate countries for 6 months. I do not know how to make a young woman feel safe in the world again. Because she is not safe right now. And a man - no, not even a man, a controlling, troubled boy - has made it so. I feel upset that fear is winning, that we are a species at war with itself. I feel upset at a system of institutionalized sexism and racism, at a police officer who told a young woman who had been attacked by her baby daddy "Oh, he just roughed you up a little." I feel grateful for a different police officer who asked the right questions and listened with compassion and worked overtime to rectify the situation. I feel helpless to make things better, but I know that I do not even know what true helplessness feels like. I am better off than most. I have resources and options and (sadly, unfairly) white privilege. This is the state of the world. For all the good in it, there is still so much bad, so many things that need to be made better. And that is what matters - not holiday sales or buying a bunch of crap, but people. Being here for each other, whether it's the family we grew up with, the family we married into, the friends who are our chosen family or the strangers who are just friends we haven't met yet. And choosing love over fear, understanding over judgment and compassion over insensitivity.

Marriage is making it ever more clear to me what really matters, and that is loving and making life better for as many carbon based lifeforms as I can. We cannot change anything for the better with hate and fear and violence. We can only change it with love and effort and humanity.

Lyric of the moment: "But you can be the change you wanna see. Be the hope to those whose lives are far from easy. Reach out and lend a hand, share everything you can. And be the change, be the change..." ~Corey Smith "Be The Change"

Thursday, December 3, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things

This is the time of year when gift guides abound. I can't be of much help to you in that regard. I don't care about stuff, unless it is stuff that is edible and 80% sugar. I like to give gifts that are experiences rather than gifts that are things. When it comes to tangible, non-edible things, I only want to own those that meet the following criteria: 1) I absolutely LOVE it and 2) I will use it ALL the time. Stuff that I'm only so-so about or stuff that is not terribly functional is only going to clutter up my space and my sanity. So I can't help you out with the whole holiday gift buying thing, except to suggest that less is more. And here are a few of my favorite things, sung to the tune from The Sound of Music.


Epic thunderstorms and letters handwritten
Causeless rebels and combo glove-mittens
Running shoes laced up with glittery wings
These are a few of my favorite things
 
Get Caked cookies and funny cartoon doodles
Bear hugs and giant mugs and soup bowls of noodles
Hills you can feel in your quads and hamstrings
These are a few of my favorite things.
 
Pirates with shoulder parrots and eye patches
long, slow runs and crazy fast dashes
Adventure filled days of summers and springs
These are a few of my favorite things
 
When the cold bites, when the news stings
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad


Lyric of the moment: "Do you realize that you have the most beautiful face? Do you realize we're floating in space? Do you realize that happiness makes you cry? Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die? And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know you realize that life goes fast, it's hard to make the good things last. You realize the sun doesn't go down, it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round..." ~The Flaming Lips "Do You Realize"

Monday, November 30, 2015

This Is Marriage: Day 86

I am not particularly enamored with the A places right now. Because of them, Pete will be away for most of our first year of marriage. It's a total bummer but there is nothing we can do about it except to make the best of it. Hopefully it will make us stronger, in the way that only challenging things can. Pete is not worried about it because he doesn't worry about much of anything really. I am worried about all the things I know it's futile to worry about. And also that something is afoot with my left foot/hamstring/hip/back since I fell down the stairs last month. I really need my parts to heal quickly so I can run a shitload of miles next year so I can be all in-the-moment or whatever. The only plan I have ever really had in life is to keep running through it. Somehow that seems to work. So I'm going to focus on being in the moment now, enjoying the holidays and our honeymoon in January. Then I'm going to focus on being in the moment next year, distracting myself from the sadness and the absence with runs and hills and adventures.

We had a very low-key, relaxing Thanksgiving weekend. We went to the movies, to bootcamp and spin class, ate and played games with friends, ran from our new house to the park while we were waiting for the hardwood floor refinishing people to come and checked a few things off the to-do list, but mostly we just spent time together. It was nice. Except that I am not any good at relaxing. Unless I run double digit miles every weekend, which I haven't done in a couple of weekends. I am purposely keeping my mileage low so that my body can recover from all the miles I put on it this year. But I find it torturous. My restlessness was reaching critical levels. I could tell because I was unbearably itchy, the kind of itchiness that feels like it is internal and thus unscratchable. And I felt this intense pressure to BE HERE NOW and ENJOY THIS TIME and MAKE THIS WEEKEND MEMORABLE BECAUSE  WEEKENDS LIKE THIS WILL BE NUMBERED NEXT YEAR AND THAT NUMBER IS TOO LOW. Those are not exactly relaxing thoughts. I knew what I needed to do and that was go to Cobb's Hill and run hill repeats. It has been my experience that any problem can be solved if I run enough hill repeats. And so it was. I ran up the hill 5 times and then I saw Jenn and Gustavo. I ran one more hill repeat while chatting with Jenn and then went to yoga with Pete. I had the epiphany that the hills always provide: I am strong and I can do this. I can do anything. Pete is even stronger than me. He can lift me above his head. (I cannot lift him above my head. Yet.) We will figure it out. Because we are the kind of people who figure things out. We are made of effort and persistence and silliness and no matter what happens, we will make it awesome.

On happy days and sad days, on all the days, this marriage is the place I want to be.

Lyric of the moment: "I was alive and I waited, waited. I was alive and I waited for this. Right here, right now, there is no other place I wanna be..." ~Jesus Jones "Right Here Right Now"

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The giving of the thanks

Thanksgiving is an odd holiday. It is a story of some natives who saved some immigrants from starvation, even though said immigrants would go on to steal all the natives' land and give them smallpox. Oh, and also there was food. Lots of food. And so Thanksgiving was born, this tradition of sitting down and giving thanks and eating. Serious eating. Stuffing foods into other foods serious. We gloss over the fighting and the unpleasant truths of history and instead we celebrate a time when the fortunate helped the less fortunate and strangers sat down as friends. Why? I don't know. Maybe because eating pie and giving thanks are better traditions than murdering, stealing and having smallpox. Maybe we are optimists. Maybe we want to believe in the times when we all got along.

In its finest moments, America is a vast land of opportunity, a place where newcomers seeking a better life are welcomed with open arms, a promised land of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That is the America that I want to live in, an asylum for the "tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free," not a xenophobic, raciest, gun-and-fear mongering insane asylum. We cannot change our history but we can find a better way forward. We've all been lucky enough to be invited to the awesome party that is life. Let us give thanks and hugs and pies.

I'll start. Things I'm infinitely thankful for:
  • Pete. For signing up to create this adventurous, humorous, ridiculously awesome life with me.
  • People. The best thing to happen to earth since dogs. 
  • Family. The reason I got invited to the party of existence in the first place.
  • Friends. The family we get to choose.
  • My body. For being the best meat sack I've had the privilege of inhabiting. And for taking me on all the adventures.
  • Oxygen. For keeping me alive and all.
  • Water. There are few things as deeply and purely satisfying as getting a drink of water to quench a wicked thirst.
  • Everything that has ever made me laugh. Life would have been unbearable without it.
  • Music. It makes everything better. Plus it's hard to dance to silence.
  • Dessert. The best thing to happen to food.
  • TrailsRoc. For adding so much love, laughter, dirty adventures and community to my life.
  • Struggles. For leading me towards a stronger, wiser, more compassionate version of myself. 
  • You. Because you're awesome. And also because if it weren't for you, I'd just be over here typing this nonsense to myself.

Lyric of the moment: "Everything you want's a dream away. Under this pressure, under this weight, we are diamonds...And if we've only got this life, this adventure, oh then I want to share it with you..." ~Coldplay "Adventure Of A Lifetime"

Friday, November 20, 2015

Things I want to say to Humanity

I usually don't write about politics or religion. Because I don't think my words are going to change anyone's mind, to make them feel love instead of hate. I wish I had the magic words that could do that, but I don't. I'm not trying to convince anyone that my way is the right way. Because it's not. There is no "right" way to think or live, there are just different ways. Fighting about who is "right" is missing the point. No one "wins" a fight. Fighting, whether with weapons or invectives, only leads to loss. Within us all there is suffering. There is fear and hurt and worry and insecurity. We can compound those things by magnifying our differences and creating these Us vs. Them mentalities. Or we can ease that suffering by seeking to understand rather than to pass judgment, by thinking and acting out of love rather than out of fear. It is not an easy thing to do by any means. But it is the most worthwhile thing we can do with our time here. It is the thing that will make the most difference. In everything. Ever. Humans, as much as possible, be humane. Be a bright spot in a dark world. Be a herald of hope and a laser beam of pure love.

Lyric of the moment: "Always Love. Hate will get you every time. Always Love. Even when you wanna fight..." ~Nada Surf "Always Love"

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This Is Marriage: Day 73

Some things may happen that I really, really, really don't want to happen. Things that are out of my control, things that I cannot change. That is life. What I can do is make the best of it, to give all my heart and all my effort to this life and this marriage. Some days are hard, like when Pete is away and, no matter how much fun I have with friends, there is still something missing and it is him. Some days are funny, like when we are standing in the kitchen of the new house, which is slowly starting to feel like "our" house and Pete is fixing the wire on my braces again (I don't know why it's always coming loose. Probably because of all the cookies.) and I am saying "You're more handsome than my regular orthodontist" and we are laughing.

But all the days are amazing. Because I get to be married to my most favorite person in the whole entire world. In my wildest dreams, I never thought that would happen. There was this day that I finally resigned myself to the fact that if I wanted to live this big, adventurous life, I was going to have to do it alone. And I was okay with that because it was far better than the alternative. It was a Tuesday. The following Saturday, Steven and I were at Pete's house, getting ready to go to the Mess The Dress mud race/prom. I was sad, because things were always ending, and the endings were always my fault because I can't settle down. I want too much out of life. Only I don't think it's too much, because the point of being here is to BE here. With each other, doing all the things. Pete gave me a hug and it was the best hug I had ever received. Then we put on fancy dresses and ran through the mud with our friends. And the rest, as they say, is history. I didn't know that we would go on to run hundreds of miles and climb mountains and get married and buy a house. That day, all I knew was that hug was the best place I'd ever been and I just wanted to stay there as long as I could.

I still feel that way. We have had so many happy moments and some no good, very sad moments. But we laughed and we kept going. We are not perfect. We are not ever going to be perfect. But in so many ways we are a perfect team. We picked out paint colors for our entire house in five minutes. Pete likes firm mattresses and I love soft mattresses and those two things seemed irreconcilable but we found a hybrid mattress that is comfortable for both of us. It is California King sized (because size matters) and the box spring is 9'' high and it is going to be like climbing a mountain to get into that thing every night and I am so excited I cannot wait until it gets delivered!

Those are just small things. At some point, we will face big things, heavy things. They will not be easy but we will get through them and make the best of them and keep laughing. Because that is what we do. I believe in that. I believe in us. More than I have ever believed in anything. I don't know what the future will bring. But I'm going to bring the awesome sauce. Because life and marriage are the best parties that I have ever been invited to. And I am going to party so hard at both of them.

Lyric of the moment: "And all I ask for is a yellow Cadillac. And all I pray for is for you to come back..." ~The Shackletons "Yellow Cadillac"

Friday, November 13, 2015

Things I want to say about bodies and beauty

I ran a 30K race last Saturday. At the start of that race, I said to myself Body, whatever happens today, I love you. I left that part out of my race report because it seemed silly. But now I realize what's really silly is that loving our own bodies feels unusual, almost a radical act, instead of the default. That is so weird, isn't it? I mean, bodies are amazing. Being alive is a complicated process and all our bones and muscles and blood cells and neurons are taking care of that business, doing all these wonderful, miraculous things, every second of every day.

I'm not going to pretend that I'm good at this whole loving myself thing. I am a work in progress. Some days it's a struggle to let go of the negative thoughts and judgments. But I am willing to struggle. Because it's important. Because when I think about all the time I wasted beating myself up over all my perceived inadequacies, it's fucking depressing. And I am so over that shit.

I felt fantastic after that race. Ok, actually my stomach was a mess and I was tired. But I felt fantastic because I had run a lot of the hills and persevered through the moments of discomfort and thoroughly enjoyed a beautiful day in the woods with my friends. Then I saw some race photos and let's just say I did not look particularly photogenic. I felt a pang of disappointment at that. But then I thought, eh so what? Why do I even care about this? The truth is that I don't care what I look like. I care what I feel like. I care about being healthy and happy and kind, about being able to run all the miles and climb on all the tall things.

I give absolutely zero fucks about trying to conform to someone else's idea of beauty. I am not a race time or a number on a scale. I am the culmination of all the experiences I've had and the people I've met, a lifetime of hugs, stumbles, laughs, tears, awkwardness and awesomeness. That is beauty. It's not in a bottle of anti-wrinkle cream or in losing 5 pounds. It's in fully inhabiting your body and your life and living it up, with gratitude, compassion and wonder.

Lyric of the moment: "In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. And where you invest your love, you invest your life..." ~Mumford & Sons "Awake My Soul"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Last days in the House Of Robot

We close on our new house today. I am not looking forward to moving. As in, the physical process of schlepping all my shit from one house to another. I'm hoping that I will come home one day to find that tiny magic robots have moved everything for me. Or to wake up one morning to find that tiny magic robots have moved me and all my stuff into the new house overnight. I'm not picky on timing, whatever is convenient for the tiny magic robots. Failing that, I feel like selling my house and everything in it so I have nothing left to move. Except the essentials. Like 4 pairs of running shoes.

These are my last days in the House Of Robot. It's funny, this was my first house - I bought it myself, I put a lot of work into it, I made all the decisions myself - but I don't feel any particular attachment to it. I am not sad to leave the house. But I am sad to leave the people in it (Danielle is the best roommate and Charlie pretty much counts as people). Last night I was thinking about the past 7.5 years (Wow! Have I really owned the house for that long?!) During that time, it has been home to 5 other people, 3 dogs, 3 uninvited bats and the occasional bathroom spider (which I named Octavius). I wanted this house to be a place where you could come as you are and leave better than when you came. But I don't know if anyone was changed for the better for having lived here. Except me. I definitely have been.

I know it is time to move on, to start the next chapter in my life. I'm ecstatic about that, for sure. Yet there's a part of me that wishes the chapter titled The Adventures of Mozzie and Jen and Charlie and Danielle had lasted a little longer. And there's a part of me that thought if I ever left this house it would be to move into a tiny house or a mountain. Or a treehouse. (I feel the latter is going to happen someday, it's only a matter of time). I guess that's how you know you are living the good life: every chapter is so awesome that you don't want to put it down. But you do, both reluctantly and excitedly, because the next chapter is going to take you to places beyond your wildest dreams.

Lyric of the moment: "I want to have the same last dream again. The one where I wake up and I'm alive. Just as the four walls closed me within, my eyes are opened up with pure sunlight. I'm the first to know, my dearest friends. Even if your hope has burned with time. Anything that's dead shall be regrown. And your vicious pain, your warning sign. You will be fine. Hey yo, here I am. And here we go, life's waiting to begin..." ~Angels and Airwaves "The Adventure"




Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mendon 30K 2015

I told myself I wasn't going to do this race, that 5 loops of this course last year was more than enough. And yet, somehow I ended up at the starting line, hugging Laura to stay warm.

I blame it on the weather. Registration for this race closed on Tuesday at 11:59pm. When I checked the weather on Tuesday morning, the forecast said 50 degrees and dry for Saturday. Perfect for running, and probably the best weather in the history of the Mendon Trail Races. Typically it's rainy or blizzardy. A "good" weather year is exceedingly rare. So then I had to sign up. The weather made me do it. Well, not entirely. I was also craving a long run to keep my mind off the fact that Pete is traveling this week in a not-particularly-safe part of the world. Running is just the thing when I need to work out whatever is on my mind or to focus on nothing except the awesomeness of the present moment or to make me too tired to think about anything at all.

When I woke up Saturday morning, my legs were tight and unhappy. I have never used a foam roller but for some reason my brain was all Hey, do that foam roller thing. So I did. The foam roller looks all innocent and innocuous, even a bit inviting. But don't be fooled. That bastard is not your friend. It is very painful. But then somehow my legs did feel a little better. So maybe the foam roller is like a no bullshit, tough love friend?

We met up at Alison's house and Steven drove us to Mendon Ponds Park. We arrived around 8am, just as the 50K runners were heading out. We picked up our bibs and then hung around with the crew in the lodge (where the fireplace is!! why do we ever leave this place?). Someone mentioned that you could drop down to the 20K or 10K during the race and I thought that I would probably end up doing that. I don't know why, but I just felt like this race wasn't going to go well for me. It had started to rain and I was cursing the weather forecast for being a liar, liar pants on fire.

But by the time the race started at 9:30am, it had cleared up and it was cool and partly cloudy, ideal for running. I was cold at the start but warmed up quickly once we started running, a fact that I always forget when deciding what to wear. Note to self, less is more. Especially when it comes to clothes. For running. In the first mile, I just focused on breathing and relaxing. I remember thinking that it was a beautiful day and I am incredibly lucky that I get to spend so many of my days on the trails with my friends. So I told myself that whatever happened today, I would just roll with it and love the crap out of it.

Thanks to Dave Cornell for the photo!


The first loop went by quickly, in just under an hour, which I think is the fastest I've ever run that 10K loop. And I've run that thing so many times. I ran all the hills, even that stupid kitty litter hill (it's covered in tiny stones that remind me of kitty litter). That was Todd's fault. I could see him just ahead of me and he ran the hill. And if the King Of Hills runs the hill, you gotta run the hill. I felt surprisingly good, but also a little worried that I was going too fast and wouldn't be able to maintain it. Around mile 5, I caught up to a guy who I assumed was also running the 30K but then he told me he was running the 10K. And I was like oh shit, that's not good. I should not be running with 10K people when I still have 2 loops left to go after this. But I was also like this is probably the only time in the history of trails that I'm ever going to be this close to Todd in a race, so I'll just try to keep up with him for as long as I can.

The second loop also went surprisingly well. I was mostly by myself, but I did get to stop and chat with Sheila briefly when I came upon her being all awesome and totally rocking the 50K. I finished this loop in just over an hour, feeling good enough that I headed back out for loop 3, after only a brief moment of wanting to stop at the 20K mark and call it a day.

The third loop was, not gonna lie, painful. Not the sharp pain of injury, but just the dull ache of fatiguing muscles that were all We don't normally run this fast. For the love of cake why are we running this fast? I had run most of the hills in the second loop (even kitty litter hill again. I can't even blame Todd. That one was entirely my own fault). But now my legs were protesting this policy. So I started power hiking the uphills and trying to let go and unleash on the downhills and flats. I was mildly successful at this, in that I didn't trip and fall. The last 3 miles felt like an eternity. I knew I was so close to the end but I felt like I'd never get there. Everything reminded me of Pete - 2 little kids playing catch with a football, a guy cheering who was wearing a RIT hat - and that made me miss him even more. But finally I saw the fence and the final downhill to the finish. Suddenly my legs started sprinting. And I was all like Oh hey, sudden burst of energy, where've you been? I could have used you 3 miles ago. This loop was my slowest, at an hour and 5 minutes, but still one of my personal fastest times here.


Thanks to Sam for this photo!


We hung around for a little while after the race, cheering, drinking hot chocolate and eating PBJ bagels. Then we went back out on the course to try and find Stephen's water bottle that he had tossed in the woods when he got tired of carrying it (within the first mile, which made me laugh). But we didn't find it. My stomach was feeling all sorts of no good for the rest of the day, which I hope doesn't become a thing because I really don't enjoy spending that much time in the bathroom. Ain't nobody got time for that shit. I had to drink my weight in ginger ale before I finally felt better.

I could say that I'm not going to do this race again. It's probably not going to be this gorgeous in November in Rochester again next year. And there are just soooo many loops. But even I don't believe me. Because this race is awesome. The trails are beautiful, the uphills are great and the downhills are even better. Brian Thomas and the Rochester Orienteering Club always put on a well-organized event with a relaxed, casual vibe. And there's no better way to spend a Saturday than hanging out with your friends in the woods eating PBJs.

Lyric of the moment: "And when the gas runs out just wreck it, you insured the thing. I don’t need to walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in circles, walk around in..." ~Soul Coughing "Circles"

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

How to fold a fitted sheet

Folding a fitted sheet is like a magic trick. Can anyone actually do this or is it just an illusion? We may never know. I am no magician but this is how I deal with fitted sheets. And you can too.

Step 1: Own only one fitted sheet and one flat sheet. (Even better, own just one fitted sheet and a lot of blankets. Who needs a flat sheet anyway? It's just one more thing coming between you and your cuddly soft blankets of awesomeness). At any given time, your one and only fitted sheet is either on your bed or in the washer/dryer. So you never need to worry about folding it. Less stuff = less worries and less chores! Laziness Minimalism for the win.

If you are one of those rare and exceptional people who can actually fold a fitted sheet so it doesn't look like you just rolled it up into a ball and threw it in the closet, by all means keep folding. Fold the sheet out of those sheets, you wonderful magician, you. The world needs more magic.

But the rest of you can relax. Life is short. No need to get your panties or your sheets in a bunch. Less time spent on frustratingly impossible chores means more time for milk and cookies and living the dream.

Lyric of the moment: "I am covered in skin. No one gets to come in. Pull me out from inside. I am folded, and unfolded, and unfolding, I am..." ~Counting Crows "Colorblind"



Sunday, November 1, 2015

This is marriage: Day 56

It hit me suddenly, and on a visceral level, this inexplicable sadness. It came on unexpectedly, and at the most inopportune moment, of course. I wonder if it is some law of marriage physics. For every happiness there is an equal and opposite sadness. A sadness that is really fear of loss. I have never been so happy. I have never had so much to lose. I lived for three decades before I met Pete, but now I can barely remember what it was like not to know him. My life is now inexorably linked to his. That is amazing. And also terrifying. Because one day I will lose him. Hopefully that day is far, far in the future. But it will happen. And when it does, it will leave a terrible, gaping hole in my life that can never be filled.

That is what happens when you love anyone. And the closer you are to the person, the bigger the hole their absence creates. And yes, life goes on. You go on. But the hole follows you everywhere. This is what you sign up for when you love. You are knowingly opening yourself up to both immense joy and devastating loss. But you do it, of course you do it. It is the only way to live fully.

Marriage is worth the risk. Totally.

Lyric of the moment: "All I know is that I'm lost whenever you go. All I know is that I love you so, so much that it hurts..." ~Coldplay "Ink"

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Worry: A How To Guide

Yes, everyone is looking at you, and especially at the thing you're self conscious about. You're going to fail at that thing you want to do. Your hair is getting grayer. Or falling out. Probably both. The weather is going to do the thing you don't like. Everything causes cancer, especially reading articles about the newest thing that apparently causes cancer. All of the apocalypses are coming. Donald Trump is a real live person who could be elected president and not just an SNL skit that has gone on for an uncomfortably long time.
 
There, do you feel better? No? That's because worry is useless, except at making you feel worse when you already feel bad. It's super good at that.
 
One of the things Pete frequently says to me is "You have nothing to worry about." It's true. No one has anything to worry about. Worry isn't actually about the reality of what is happening. It's all conjecture and worst case scenarios and irrational thoughts. And yet, it's so easy to fall into the worry well. Because what if?! So what do we do?
 
Well, here's the thing: bad things may happen and worrying does nothing to prevent that. So worrying is a waste of the present moment, which could be better spent enjoying it, adapting to it or changing it. If the bad thing actually happens, you will cross that bridge when you come to it. No, correction: you will ride across it on a sparkly unicorn. Because that's the kind of badass you are.
 
 

When to worry: a chart



don't worry



Things you can do instead of worrying

 
  • Move. In some way that you enjoy. You are alive! Your parts are doing amazing things every day! Whatever happens, you will awesome the shit out of it.

  • Breathe. This is just a good thing to do, basically at all times.

  • Laugh. Yes, sometimes life is serious and sad and no fun at all. But even in the darkest, scariest places, it is possible to find a bit of humor or silliness to lighten the way. There's no need to force it if you're just not feeling it, but try to leave a little space in the serious for the ridiculous to get in.

  • Try something new. It's weird but the more you expose yourself to uncomfortable experiences, the more comfortable you become in your own skin. Over time, you will start to feel less embarrassment/self-consciousness/worry and more openness/self-confidence/awesomeness.

  •  Hug it out. It's hard to be worried about anything when you're inside of a hug.

Lyric of the moment: "As soon as you're born, you start dying. So you might as well have a good time...: ~Cake "Sheep Go To Heaven"

Monday, October 26, 2015

Mt Marcy

Pete asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, and I said "go with my tallest husband to the tallest point in New York State." So we planned a long weekend to the Adirondacks to hike Mt Marcy. We followed the primary trail that starts at the Adirondacks Loj because Pete had hiked Marcy once before from the other side. The hike itself was not very challenging. There was not much scrambling up rocks with both hands and feet, except near the top (that part was my favorite). Some icy sections in the middle were a bit tricky, but per Eric's suggestion I had brought my spikes and they made things much easier. This is the most popular way up Marcy, which I guess means the most crowded. We even passed by a guy who had stopped to smoke a cigarette (yeah, I don't get it either. People are weird, man).
 
I thought because it was the tallest it would be the hardest. It wasn't. And I felt a pang of disappointment at that. But it was my fault, not Marcy's. Birthdays have a tendency to bring out these what am I doing with my life? / I'm not good at any of the things feelings in me. Life is short and I want to make the most of it. But I am racking up the years over here and sometimes I feel like I have nothing to show for it. Am I wasting my youth working in an office? Am I making the world better in any significant way? Okay, so I may be single-handedly keeping Get Caked in business. But I don't think that counts. I don't know. I don't have any answers. I just get these ideas - like run for a really long time! or climb all the tall things! - and then I do them.
 
And that's the thing about going to the mountains: I find what I'm looking for, even if I don't know what I'm looking for. As much as I was disappointed in myself for still not being all the things I want to be and, worse yet, letting that disappointment detract from my enjoyment of this beautiful place, I couldn't help but be overwhelmed by this feeling of profound gratitude. For the sunrise over the mountains. For the view from the top of New York State. Most of all, for Pete. And overwhelmed by a feeling of intense wonderment. At the fact that a simple peanut butter and honey sandwich at 5,343ft is one of the best meals I've ever eaten. At having a partner willing to climb any mountain with me. At the straight up awesomeness of being alive.

So what am I doing with my life? Everything. Experiencing it and being amazed by it and being head over heels in love with it.
 
 
The best adventures begin at sunrise.
The view from the top.



Is it just me or does anyone else want to knock over that pile of rocks?
 
Ben & Jerry's
Birthday ice cream: one scoop of chocolate peanut butter, one scoop of cookie dough.
 
Lyric of the moment: "I’ve traveled all this way for something. I take it in but don’t look down. ‘Cause I’m on top of the world, I’m on top of the world. Waiting on this for a while now. Paying my dues to the dirt. I’ve been waiting to smile. Been holding it in for a while. Take you with me if I can. Been dreaming of this since a child. I’m on top of the world..." ~Imagine Dragons "On Top of the World"

 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Life: Day 12,418

If this is getting older, man, sign me up. Thirty three was by far the best year of my life. It was full of epic adventures and epic hugs and so much sweetness that Cookie Monster would be envious. For serious. I'm talking boxes of cookies with gift cards for more cookies inside of them. I hope that thirty four brings even more awesomeness. (Maybe if I keep doing planks I will even get those six pack abs. I'm about a third of the way there. I have a Tupac.)

There is a Courtney Love song that goes "I want to be the girl with the most cake." Which I think may be a reference to drugs. But I prefer a more sugar coated interpretation. The cake of life is friendship. It's the highlight of the party. On good days and on not so good days, that cake has your back. So infinity of thanks to you, my loves. Because of you, I'm the girl with the most awesome cake.

Lyric of the moment: "And hey do you want to dance? Seize the mysteries. And hold them in your hands. These are your friends, these are your friends, these are your friends..." ~Mike Doughty "These Are Your Friends"

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

This is marriage: Day 43

My new Social Security card and driver's license have arrived in the mail and I am now officially a Lacey. When I receive my new passport, I'm hoping they will also return my old passport so that I can keep them both in a box underneath the floorboards, along with some foreign currencies left over from past travels, and pretend that I am a spy with many aliases.

Sometimes I look at Pete and say "You're my husband" and it's half statement, half question. As if I am reassuring myself that by this point it's probably safe to assume that this is not just a dream. We are married. We have the same last name. It feels weird. In that I do not feel any different. Which is to say that I still feel like myself. Only a more expansive, better version of myself.

Last weekend Pete did a 50 mile bike race and this past weekend I ran a 50K race. Sometimes we do the same crazy awesome things. Sometimes we support each other in doing different crazy awesome things.

Marriage is an excellent adventure.

Lyric of the moment: "But this is what love is for. To be out of place. Gorgeous and alone. Face to face. With no larger problems that need to be erased. Nothing more important than to know someone's listening. Now I know you'll be listening..." ~Wilco "Impossible Germany"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Water Gap 50K 2015

Early Saturday morning, Pete was driving Alison, Bob, Todd, Prem and I to the start of the inaugural Water Gap 50K in the Delaware Water Gap/Poconos region of Pennsylvania. As we traversed the winding roads and rolling hills, it felt like we were on a roller coaster. Little did I know that this race would also be an emotional roller coaster and the hardest race I've run in a long time.

The 6 of us had driven to Pennsylvania on Friday afternoon and were staying at a sweet HomeAway rental in Dingmans Ferry, PA, complete with a fireplace, hot tub and lofted bedroom. Friday night we made veggie pizzas for dinner and enjoyed Alison's apple cake, Todd's apple pie and Prem's peanut butter cookies for dessert.

Saturday morning we ate an early breakfast and made our way to the race start. The course follows the entire McDade Rail Trail from Hialeah to Milford Beach, along the Delaware River. The MRT is mostly wide crushed stone/cinder/paved trails with a couple of sections of technical single track. It was a chilly 38 degrees at the start, but it was sunny and dry, a perfect fall day. The trails were beautiful, especially this time of year with the leaves in full autumn colors. The course played to my strengths in that it was non-technical, fast and flat (there were some rolling hills but the signs warning "Steep Hill" were almost laughable as they were not even close to the kinds of hills we usually run), but also to my weaknesses in that it's a much harder surface than the trails I usually run and my joints do not handle repetitive pounding well.


The adventure begins. Thanks to my favorite husband for the pics!

The first few miles flew by and I had to keep reminding myself to rein it in and not go out too fast. I was running with Bob and then we caught up to Alison and Todd and I thought there is no way I should be up here running with them. Pete, driver/crew/husband extraordinaire, met up with us at several points along the trail, always seeming to be there at exactly the right time to take our gloves/hats we no longer needed or give us sunglasses.



That time I ran with Mark Ruffalo


Fall running at its finest

I remember Alison saying we were almost at the halfway point and me being surprised by how far in we were already and how good I still felt. That would all change, almost immediately. A little after mile 15 my groin muscles started to ache which was new and weird, and not in a good way. Alison gave me some Arnica and then I fell behind her as the race started to go downhill for me, and not in a good way. The groin pain went away but around mile 17 my left ankle started hurting and the pain worsened with every mile.

I seriously considered quitting the race. Then came the bargaining. I could stop now and call it a training run and then run Mendon 50K in a few weeks. Then that train of thought devolved into I'm not running another race this year and then further into I'm not running another race ever again. The only race I've ever DNFed was 3 years ago, also in the Poconos. So I was hobbling along, haunted by the ghosts of failures past and the mean voice was all Forget Lucien Moran, The Poconos is your real nemesis. Why did you come back to this place? For redemption? You're not going to find it. You're not cut out for distance running. You don't have what it takes. You're not a good enough runner, friend, life partner, person. You're not good enough. You're not enough.

Here I was on this beautiful day in this gorgeous place with these wonderful people and I was going to fail. I just couldn't do it. I was kind of glad that I hadn't seen Pete in a while because I knew as soon as I saw him I would burst into tears, climb into the van and curl up into the fetal position. But I didn't quit. I put in my headphones, put on Pete's iPod and kept going. Bob passed me while I was limping along, wrestling with the pain and demons, on the verge of tears. He looked a little concerned and I knew I must have looked as bad as I felt, if not worse. His knees were hurting but he told me he had gotten some ibuprofen at the last aid station and that had taken the edge off so now his legs just felt numb. Luckily the next aid station was just up ahead and some other runner's mom was there with a whole bottle of ibuprofen. Those 2 little blue capsules saved my race. Bob took off and I was once again by myself, still in pain but now with anti-inflammatory drugs and hope coursing through my veins. I stopped caring at that point. About the stupid Poconos. About what anyone else would think. About my time or even about finishing. I just let it all go and thought, Accept this reality, this pain is only temporary. So you've fallen into the pain cave. Better learn how to spelunk your way out of that shit. You are enough. If anything, you're too much. Too much heart, too much life to be contained in one little body. That's why you run. Because you can't not run.You are a fucking unstoppable force! (The swearing was necessary. Curse words lessen the pain. It's science.)

Since it hurt just as much whether I was going slow or fast, I decided to just pick up the pace and at least get the suffering over with as quickly as possible. Then the drugs must have kicked in because I started to feel good again. Never before in a race have I experienced such a drastic 180 degree mental and physical turnaround. I caught back up with Bob and he was as surprised as I was to see me looking so much better. At the last aid station, I saw Pete, who had purposely waited to see us until it was close enough to the end that we wouldn't be tempted to quit. I hugged Pete, then it was only a little over 5 miles to the finish and it became a race between me and the half-life of ibuprofen.


Me and my Oreo, heading out for the last 5ish miles



There was about a 2 mile section of technical, leaf covered single track that afterwards we referred to as the un-runnable trail. But actually I did run most of it, just cautiously so I wouldn't twist an ankle or fall down into the river. There were a couple of guys out in a canoe who waved and cheered as I went by. The last 3 miles, back on the wide stone trails, seemed to take forever. At around mile 30.5, The Pretenders "I'll Stand By You" came on the iPod and I teared up as I took in the beautiful tree covered baby mountains to my left and sunny field to my right. I honestly didn't think I was going to finish this race and it wasn't until the last half mile that I knew that I would. I started sprinting, passed the woman in front of me and then saw Alison up ahead so I gave it everything I had and ended up finishing just behind her.


Chasing my shadow at the finish

Water Gap was the hardest, but oddly enough, also the fastest 50K I've run. I'd like to say that I finished this race due to strength and heart. But honestly I finished due to vengeance and stubbornness and drugs.

Prem, Alison, Bob and Todd are fantastic runners and of course all did well. The race director gave us these awesome metal finisher signs. And our group ended up going home with 3 free pies. (Throughout the race, the RD had placed 6 tiny signs with pies on them and if you found one you got a pie at the end). And all's well that ends in free pie.


We did it! For the pie!

After the race, we went back to the cabin and got in the hot tub, which felt amazing on my legs. Then there was more eating, lots more dessert and some euchre. Today I'm still walking like an old woman (though that may be due more to me falling down the stairs in the dark while trying to get from the loft bedroom to the bathroom this morning than from the repercussions of the race), but a very happy old woman. I liked the laid-back, minimalist feel of this race and it was a nice trail. But I'm not sure if I would do this race again. I think it's just too much pounding for my old body. Though maybe it would feel better with more padded shoes, like Hokas. Also, the lure of free pie is strong. So never say never I suppose. In any case, it was another excellent adventure with some of my most favorite people. And for that I am grateful. Thank you to Red Newt Racing and all the volunteers and especially the mom with the drugs. Thank you to Alison, Bob, Todd and Prem for being the best people/adventure friends and especially to Pete for being the best adventure/life partner.

When people ask why I run, I can never seem to find the right words to adequately explain it. To explain the feeling of a weekend like this one, all the lows and highs and pain and awesomeness. To explain how you can feel like you never want to run again and then 10 minutes later be contemplating your next race and the race after that and the race after that. How you can come to a run as you are and leave so much better. How, like the Rolling Stones song says, "You get what you need."

Lyric of the moment: "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need..." ~The Rolling Stones "You Get What You Need."

A version of this race report also appears on ultrarunning magazine's website.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Things that always make me feel better about everything

No doubt, life is awesome. But sometimes things can get a bit confusing, nerve-wracking, sad or disappointing. During those less than stellar moments, these are some of the things that always make me feel better about everything:

  • Motion. Running is the closest thing to a panacea I've ever found. But yoga, Fit1, bike riding (especially with no hands), swimming, hiking or anything else that gets me moving will do the trick. The point is to move my body in some way that makes me feel strong and capable and then tired.

  • Sleep. The occasional nap or super early bedtime can be just the thing I need to recharge. The secret to good sleep is comfort (enough space on the bed to stretch out, the perfect temperature, soft and snuggly blankets, as many pillows as you need for head resting or for hugging or for that space between your knees when you're side sleeping) and earplugs.

  •  Perspective. When I feel lost or like I don't have any idea what I'm doing with my life, I like to go to the top of Cobb's Hill or to the top of that castle wall at Durand. It's nice to feel like I'm on top of something, even if it's only literally.

  • Hugs. There are very few things that can't be improved by a quality hug. None of that bend-at-the-waist-arms-barely-touching shit some people try to pass off as a hug. No, I'm talking about an actual full-on embrace, getting all up in there for a legit amount of time. Bonus points for the running hug or the lift-up-and-spin-around hug.

  • Magic. I have a tendency to get stuck in my own head. But all it takes to get unstuck is just opening my eyes to the everyday magic around me: the colors in the sky at dawn and dusk, a funny sign, that clean laundry smell, a cloud that looks like a polar bear, art in unexpected places (like murals on old buildings or fancy hot beverages with intricately shaped foam), reading the exact right words at the exact right time, randomly hearing a song that I love, weird conversations, really good dessert.
Pain is temporary. Sadness is temporary. Awesomeness is forever.

Lyric of the moment: "I fall in love just a little ol' little bit, every day with someone new. I fall in love just a little ol' little bit, every day. In love with every stranger, the stranger the better..." ~Hozier "Someone New"

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Currently

Currently thinking: About a dream I had last night in which my foot was broken. It wasn't one of those dreams where you know it's a dream because you're flying around and doing cool shit you can't do in real life. It was one of those dreams that tricks you into thinking it's real. In waking life, my left foot has been a little achy lately. Nothing serious, it just complains occasionally and then goes back to being fine. But evidently I am worried about it all up in my subconscious or something. In the dream, I woke up (Weird, huh? That confused me too. Was I dreaming while I was dream sleeping? Like a dream within a dream? This is what happens when you don't eat dessert before bed). Anyway, I woke up (in the dream) and my left foot was all bruised and mangled and horrible looking and the doctor told me it was broken and I was all "But, like, it'll be better by Saturday, right? I can still run Water Gap?" Well something is definitely broken. Thank goodness it's only my sanity and not my foot.

Currently wearing: Lavender skinny jeans and a long sleeve T-shirt that has foxes and mountains on it. Because my only sartorial ambition is to feel like I'm living the dream just by getting dressed.

Currently loving: (1) This weather and the whole not entirely warm / not entirely cool / slightly windy / a tad, but not too rainy / leaves whirling by thing it's got going on. Like it can't decide how it wants to be. Weather, I can relate. I've had days like that myself, dude. (2) This guy who called at work today and said "Sorry if I'm out of breath, I'm running to work." And I said "Like, literally running to work?" And he said "Yes, it's my favorite way to commute."

Currently impatient, yet also not quite ready for: My new ID documents to arrive in the mail and the move to our new house. I want to relish my last days of being JP and living in the House of Robot and being Danielle's roommate. I have always wanted to go everywhere, but now there are also quite a few places I want to stay.

Currently mad at: Pumpernickel bread. For looking like it should taste like chocolate. But tasting decidedly not chocolately.

Lyric of the moment: "Let me assure you friend: every day is ice cream and chocolate cake. And what you make of it. Let me say: you get what you take from it. So be amazed. And never stop, never stop, never stop. You gotta be brave..." ~The Weepies "All This Beauty" (Because it's one of my favs. And so, so true.)

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's going to hurt. It's going to be awesome.

Someone once asked me "Why do you keep doing these races if they make you so anxious?" Because in the days leading up to a race or an adventure or a major life event, I tend to have these mini crises of faith. The Worries, Doubts and Fears gang up on me with their what if you don't have what it takes? and what if you fail? and what if you're not good enough? They dredge up my past mistakes and my flaws and confront me with this irrefutable evidence of my own fallibility, thinking that it will defeat me. But it won't. Quite the opposite actually. It will only make me stronger. Life is like a roller coaster: it's both the highs and the lows that make the experience. So the point is not to avoid worry and fear. It is to feel them. And to keep going anyway.  The point is to dare mighty (and at times mightily foolish) things, to push myself into the stratosphere of discomfort and by doing so, to learn and grow and become boundless.

Because here are the truths, as I know them, about racing and life:

  • It's going to hurt. This is inevitable, but in a way it is also a good omen. If nothing ever hurts, you're not taking enough risks and you won't find out just how strong you are and how far you can go. That being said, if it hurts too much, this is a sign to pause, reevaluate, and find a better way forward.

  • It's going to be awesome. You have been called to this great adventure in the woods. And to the ultimate adventure that is life. You have what it takes. Of course you do. Because you're here. You took the chances, you put in the effort. You know you could fall and you are okay with that. Because you know it doesn't matter how many times you fall, only that you keep getting back up. Whatever happens here, you will be better for having experienced it.

What to pack:
  • Perseverance
  • Love
  • Sense of humor
  • Snacks
  • Awesome socks

What to leave behind:
  • Ego
  • Expectations
  • Attachment to the outcome
  • The past
  • Naysayers

Lyric of the moment: "You've got a face not spoiled by beauty. I have some scars from where I've been. You've got eyes that can see right through me. You're not afraid of anything they've seen...There is a light you can always see. And there is a world we can always be. There is a dark within and without. And there is a light, don't let it go out..." ~U2 "Song for Someone"

Friday, October 9, 2015

In transition

It is a time of great transition. Everything is strange and surreal and really quite stellar. The name change is still processing so I am currently half Pratt, half Lacey. Sometimes I forget and sign the wrong name. I am living somewhere in between my house and Pete's house and the trails and our future house. Next month we will officially own three houses. That is like a tiny empire. I don't even really believe in the concept of ownership. It's as if we are playing some kind of real life Monopoly game. I am half expecting a top hat and monocle to show up in my mailbox. At this point, that seems more likely than me ever receiving my new Social Security card. I went to visit Mozzie and I told him "I got married. This is my ring." and he licked it and I was like "I know, dude. Weird, right? I am someone's wife. I made a casserole. By myself. Like a real person."

Next Saturday I have another 50K race. It will be my third in the past year (November 2014 to November 2015). How awesome is that?! Still, I feel a bit nervous. That something will go wrong on race day and it will just turn into a sufferfest. That it's a small race and I'll probably be all alone in the back and that won't be as much fun. But mostly I feel like whatever happens, it will be another great adventure that I am fortunate enough to experience. Somehow I have gotten to this place where I can just bust out a 20+ miler on trails whenever I feel like it. And really, I don't care all that much about any one day or race. I just want to be strong enough to do all the things I want to do and be active for the rest of my life.

So this is life in transition. Exciting things are happening. Uncertainty abounds. I have been called to great adventures, in running and in life. Maybe I will fail. Maybe I will be weighed and found wanting. But I know that, if nothing else, I have what it takes to laugh and keep going. And I know that everything works out. I forget this sometimes, and then life reminds me. This morning I went to the Village Bakery to get a smoothie. (I am the luckiest in that my only problem in life right now is that I have a mouth full of metal and chewing is a whole ordeal.) They were out of bananas and therefore could not make the smoothie I ordered. So they made me some kind of coffee smoothie with peanut butter in it. I am not terribly fond of coffee but peanut butter is my jam. It was delicious. And that is the story of my life: Sorry, you can't have that thing you thought you wanted. Here is something even better.

Lyric of the moment: "And the tightrope that you wander every time you have been weighed, you have been found wanting. Been wondering for days how you felt me slip your mind. Leave behind your wanton ways. I want to learn to love in kind. 'Cause you were all I ever longed for..." ~Mumford and Sons "The Wolf"