Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Good problems to have

I was on the phone with Garmin customer service because the new watch I bought a month ago has already broken. I used to have a GPS watch with a 4 hour battery life but that was not nearly long enough so I upgraded to one with an 8 hour battery life. Which I promptly exceeded the first time I used it. So this year I bought the Garmin Vivoactive HR which has about a 16 hour battery life (with GPS usage). And apparently after a month with me that watch was all like nope, you're too exhausting. I'm dead now. It won't charge. It won't turn on. The screen is just a blank reflection of nothingness and despair. The Garmin Rep told me to send the watch back. I asked if they were going to send me a shipping label and he said they don't do shipping labels. In a moment of frustration, I said "I'm sorry, I know you're just doing your job but I paid $250 for this watch, which completely stopped functioning within the first month of use. And now I have to pay more money to ship it back? That seems like a shitty policy." Then he sent me a shipping label.

I dislike calling customer service because I hate complaining about things. Because I have no legitimate complaints in life. I am the actual luckiest.

In the moment, I was frustrated. But not about the watch. That's the most first worldy of first world problems. I have so much disposable income that, on a whim, I bought a toy that I use when I run around playing outside, in my copious amounts of free time, and now said toy is broken and I used more of my free time to call and complain about it, and the company is going to send me a new one. No, I was frustrated because Pete's departure date from Afghanistan has been pushed back slightly (He said there's a good reason, he's just not allowed to tell me what it is. I think the Navy and I have different definitions of "good." And "reason"). I am already so weary of spending the majority of our first year of marriage apart. And now it seems like the light at the end of the tunnel is getting further away instead of closer.

But even that seems like the kind of "problem" that is really just another instance of my exceptional good fortune. I'm lucky to have a life/adventure partner who is so awesome that his absence leaves a giant sized hole in all my days. And I'm lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful people that this year has been a seemingly constant series of runs, adventures and other assorted hijinks. Sure, I've had some unbearably sad moments. I've missed Pete terribly. But I haven't felt lonely. Or unhappy. Mostly I've felt overwhelming gratitude. For this life. And especially for these people.

So I've got two months and (when the new watch arrives) up to 16 hours of GPS play time. Let's get adventurin'. 

Lyric of the moment: "If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Wanna change the world? There's nothing to it..." ~Gene Wilder "Pure Imagination"

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Adulting. And other things I have yet to master.

Today I got mad at the blender and threw it away. I was attempting to make a smoothie but apparently all the appliances in this house whose job descriptions include crushing ice were on strike. So I was all like "blender, you had one job..." and threw it away. Then there was a knock on the door and it was Danielle bringing me thank you sunflowers (because she is the absolute best!). I put the flowers in a Nalgene bottle because I couldn't find a vase. Probably because I had given them all away last year so I wouldn't have to move them from my old house to our new house. And because when I get upset, getting rid of "stuff" makes me feel better.

I don't like disliking things. I don't like having mean emotions. I just want all warm fuzzies and no cold pricklies. But life is not like that. Sometimes things are frustrating and it can be hard to know what the right thing to do is. I want to be one of those people who always knows the right things to say and do, who comes in and makes everything better. But I'm not that person. I'm not good at taking care of people. I'm good at adventuring and playing outside and finding everything funny. But those are not good "in case of emergency" skills. And then I felt guilty for being out of town when something bad happened and someone needed my help. Even though I changed my plans and came home early, it didn't seem like enough. It didn't seem like I was handling things in the best way. I couldn't even figure out what the best way was.

So I did the best I could in that moment. And I felt the uncomfortable feelings, because sometimes that's all you can do. And then later I threw away the blender, because taking out the bad feels on an inanimate object seemed like a better option than letting them pile up until they inadvertently got taken out on someone else.

Some days it's hard not to feel like I'm failing at everything, like I'm always going to be the wrong sort of person in the world. But then there's a knock at the door and a friend shows up and makes me feel like the luckiest. And I just want to live up to the awesomeness of the people surrounding me.

Lyric of the moment: "When something's broke, I wanna put a little fixin' on it. If something's bored, I wanna put a little excited on it. If something's low, I wanna put a little high on it. If something's lost, I wanna fight to get it back again..." ~Pearl Jam "The Fixer"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

This Is Marriage: Day 347

Pete asked me "Do you think this separation is helping us grow closer and our relationship stronger?" Yes and no and it's complicated. I would not recommend deployment as a main ingredient in a happy marriage. The physical separation is hard. It just really, really sucks. But I think we are definitely stronger, though probably that has more to do with our attitude towards the situation than the situation itself. Challenges can make us stronger if we look at them as opportunities instead of obstacles, if we focus on gratitude instead of griping. Would we have wished to go through this? Hell no. But we chose each other. I chose this hot slice of man beef and he happened to come with a side of Navy. And the Navy chose to deploy him to Afghanistan this year. That is life. Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. So we can complain about it, which is pointless. Or we can get on board and make the best of it. We are get on board kind of people.

I've been thinking about something G said at Fit1 yesterday morning. He had me do a new ab move I hadn't done before and I said "oof that's hard," to which he replied "We do hard things." He said it so nonchalantly but also encouragingly, his point being it's hard but you can do it, you do hard things all the time. Yeah we do, I thought. And that makes all the difference. In everything. Ever.

I think one of the reasons Pete and I are so happy together is that we have similar attitudes towards life. We don't avoid the hard things. We don't take life, or ourselves, too seriously. We take risks. We set goals and work to achieve them, whether it's training for a race or saving for early retirement. We had our own awesome lives before we met and then we combined them to build an even more awesome and adventurous life together. Pete asked me to be his girlfriend during a half marathon road race and to be his wife after a 3 day, 40+ mile trail run in Oregon. We've had good days and bad days. We've laughed about both. We've crossed many finish lines hand in hand.

This year we are doing hard things individually. Well, Pete is doing hard things. He just earned the Enlisted Expeditionary Warfare Pin. He's going through the process of becoming a Chief Petty Officer. I, on the other hand, am just doing a lot of running, strength training and being ridiculous, things that are more playing hard than working hard. But even though we are far apart, we are doing the hard things together, supporting each other, making each other laugh. On happy days. On sad, stressed out days. All the days we get.

Marriage is doing hard things, hand in hand.

Lyric of the moment: "Our words are strong and our hearts are kind. Let me tell you just exactly what's on my mind. You are the best thing, you are the best thing, you are the best thing, ever happened to me..." ~Ray LaMontagne "You Are The Best Thing"

Monday, August 15, 2016

I am running

It's 5am and I'm out the door. I am running. The little aches and pains I felt when I woke up are gone. Everything is beautiful and nothing hurts.

I am not running against anyone else. I am not running against the clock. I am not even running against myself. I don't do that anymore.

I am running with Rihanna and Nirvana, Queen and Sir Mix A Lot, and Old Dirty Bastard. I am laughing. I don't think I have ever laughed so hard on a run. I am listening to Steven's iPod, which as it turns out, is a combination of every running playlist I have ever made. I am laughing at the lyrics and at the memories the songs evoke. Nelly Furtado's "Promiscuous Girl" comes on and I remember signing this song with Pete in the car on our way to the Adirondacks last year. I am still smiling but now also a bit teary eyed.

I am stopped abruptly at an intersection so as to avoid colliding with a turning car whose driver is oblivious to my presence. This does not make me feel annoyed or unsafe. It makes me feel like a ninja.

I am running through the sunrise, through the streets, through the doubts.

I am running because I love it. Because it's my favorite way to start the day. Because my favorite way to experience life is exploring it on my own two feet.

I am not running away. I am running towards. Towards the happiest, most awesome version of myself. Towards home. This year home is a date in November, the date when Pete returns. Towards that moment in every stride when both feet are off the ground and I am airborne.

I am running.

For a brief moment I am flying.

Lyric of the moment: "The quicker you here, the faster you go. That's why where I come from the only thing we know is work hard, play hard, work hard, play hard..." ~Wiz Khalifa "Work Hard Play Hard"

Friday, August 12, 2016

Assorted Awesome Sauce

Semi-weekly gratitude list/word hugs/moments of awesomeness:
  • My adult life is much like my childhood, only instead of going to knock on friends' doors to ask if they can come out and play, it's virtual knocking. And we "go out to play" at 5am. It is awesome having so many "yes" friends who are up for adventures at all hours. Tuesday I ran to Ellison and met Alison and Steven for a trail run at 5:30am. Wednesday, Jen(n)s took over 5am Fit1. Thursday, I met Chris on Blossom at 5:30am for a road run. Friday, Danielle and I ran the Crescent trail at 5am. So many awesome ways to start the days!
Jen(n)s take over Corn Hill, with help from Gustavo.
(No bricks were harmed during this takeover.)

  • I think this is the year of the almost-overly-helpful strangers. Maybe I look tired or dazed or confused from all the middle-of-the-night running I've done this year, but it seems like strangers are going out of their way to help me. I was carrying a bunch of stuff in Wegmans and this woman asked if I need help, I said "No thanks, I'm ok" and she was like "Oh honey, take my cart," gave me her cart, the took the stuff out of my hands and put in in the cart. Before MM99 I went to Starbucks to pick up a traveler box of iced coffee for our team. As I was carrying it and the cups, etc out of the store, some dude jumped up from across the store, ran over and opened the door for me, then another dude ran over from the other side of the parking lot and opened my car door. It was very weird (but also awesome), like being followed by a secret service of very helpful strangers.

  • The orthodontist asked if there was anything else I wanted them to adjust and I said I just wanted them to fix the space between two of my teeth. He's like "Oh yeah, no problem, that will close up in a couple of days." The VERY NEXT morning, I woke up and the space was gone. These metal torture devices hurt like hell but they sure are efficient. Also, I may be getting the top braces off in September!!! The end (of my weird, lingual-braces-induced lisp) is in sight!

  • This. Totally:

  • After this morning's run, I found a bug in my hair and freaked out. Until I realized it was too big to be a tick. Then I felt relieved. And that it was dead. Then I felt sad. A lot of emotions/possible unintentional murder happening in that shower.

  • SUSHI BURRITOS! And the beginning of Friends Who Lunch Fridays! Good food, good friends, good times. I'm pretty sure the secret to life is this: 1) Think of things you want to do (anything from running around in circles in the dark to eating a thing you read about on the internet). 2) Talk about the things until people volunteer to join you. 3) Do the things. 4) *Explosion Of Awesomeness*

Lyric of the moment: "Oh, an incurable humanist you are..." ~Regina Spektor "Loveology"

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mighty Mosquito 99 Mile Relay

The dream team of Steven, Alison, Brooke, Bob, John and I reunited this year for another SWAT at the TrailsRoc Mighty Mosquito 99 Mile Relay. Our mission: 6 runners, starting at noon, each run three different 5.5ish mile loops at Mendon Ponds Park, to complete the 99 mile course. This year we came prepared to have a blast and showcase our asses, errr I mean, assets in toucan shorts, SWAT Team Jerseys and Beast Mode socks.
6 cans in Toucan. Thanks to Prem for documenting this ridiculousness on film!
Friday night Alison hosted a team dinner/corn hole/hula hooping/euchre night. Laughter and ice cream/cookies were plentiful. The performance enhancing benefits of GatorBull and bacon-wrapped brownies were discussed.

I went home with a heart full of love, stomach full of carbs and head full of doubts. I have been frustrated with my body's recovery from its first 50+ mile run two weeks ago. The gratitude and amazement I felt at being pain-free the day after and being able to run again 2 days after my longest ever run was being overshadowed by my disappointment in having heavy legs with no pick-up left and horror at looking like the Pillsbury Dough Boy in every running photo. I woke up Saturday morning in a cloud of negativity, afraid of letting my team down with my extreme slowness and dispirited by Pete's continued absence (some days his deployment feels interminable). I knew I was being a jerk and I hate being a jerk. So I cried in the shower to let everything out and then I was like don't be a jerk, brain. In any situation, some people will find reasons to be unhappy and some people will find reasons to be happy. Choose happiness

I put on my toucan shorts, packed GUS full of air mattress, drinks, snacks and clothes and headed to Mendon Ponds, where Steven was setting up our camp/headquarters/pop-up tent. Surrounded by the woods and friends, my spirits soared. Story of my life. 


The 3 solo runners had started at 6am and the relay started at 12pm. Steven and Alison got us off to a super speedy start, then it was my turn. The first loop, marked with blue flags, was hot and sunny, a mix of steep hills and grassy fields. I was nervous about my speed, or lack thereof, and also about getting lost, so I was super focused on following the flags. The course was very well marked. It's just that my spacial and directional intelligence is crap. I never know where I am or where I'm going, though somehow I always end up in the right place at the right time. Today was no exception. I jumped over a log and almost missed a sharp turn uphill, but another runner had caught up to me at just the right time and saved me from going the wrong way. Story of my life. We chatted a bit as we leapfrogged back and forth. He crushed me on every downhill and then I'd catch back up again on all the uphills. This happens to me in so many races. (I really, really need to get better at downhills. It's partly a lack of skills thing, but mostly a fear thing. I am afraid of faceplanting. But oddly, only in the literal sense. I have managed to overcome my fear of the figurative faceplant. I can tear through life and love with reckless abandon. I just can't do it on the trail.) I passed him again on the last uphill, then took off since I knew I only had about half a mile left. After we finished, he joked that if a runner saves you from going the wrong way, the least you can do is let them beat you. People are the best. 

After running the first leg, I had a slight headache so I made sure to drink plenty of water and coconut water while waiting for my next turn. Brooke, Bob and John crushed their first loops, Steven and Alison rocked their second loops and before I knew it, I was on deck again. Everyone was so fast that I got to run my second loop while it was still light out. Loop two was marked with orange flags and was fast and flat. It was just what I needed. I finally felt like I was getting some pep back in my step and it felt great. I was happy to find that, although the loops were different from last year, they kept my very favorite part, which was running across the big log during the second loop. I ran this loop mostly by myself and it was really quite lovely. While Brooke, Bob and John ran loop two and Steven and Alison ran loop three, I ate snacks, hung out with the crew and tried to get a bit of sleep.

I was nervous for the third loop, which was in the dark. I've had a lot of experience with nighttime running this year so I wasn't worried about that. I just didn't want to get lost in the dark alone or fall down. I told myself not to worry about pace, just focus on following the flags and not tripping on anything. Loop three, marked with yellow flags, was a nice mix of single track, rolling hills and a few scrambly bits. This loop was my slowest of the three, but I still managed to finish in an hour and I had fun scrambling up the steep, rocky sections (Thanks Mertsock!). 

After my last loop, I changed clothes, hung out for a bit and then went with Sonia, Steven and Brooke to volunteer at the road crossing for the yellow loop. When our volunteer shift was over at 6am, we packed up and headed home to shower and sleep. We were so tired that we unanimously voted to abandon our plans for a team breakfast. And so concluded another wonderful but exhausting weekend in the woods. 

Admiring our assets

All The Thanks:

To TrailsRoc for continuing to bring so much awesomeness into my life. Whatever is going on in my life/head when I arrive at these events, I always leave having been changed for the better.

To my SWAT Team for another year of shenanigans and good times with good friends. My life is so much happier, funnier and more awesome with you in it. Thanks for indulging my love of ridiculous, inappropriate fashion and being such good sports about the short shorts.

To Jim, for being an amazing team volunteer, bringing us handheld lights and delicious homemade cookies.

To SPC-1 Skeeter Patrol for epitomizing what it means to be a team. They were down 2 runners but the 4 of them divided up all the extra legs and totally brought the awesome. Jenn, Prem, Todd and Rob (and Sonia, volunteer extraordinaire!) you are the very definition of hardcore!

This is all I need in life, people and adventures. This is how I want to spend whatever time I get to be alive. With these people. Doing these things. Running, laughing, being together and being awesome.

If you've got 99 problems, sometimes all you need is 5 friends and toucan do anything.

Lyric of the moment: "What do I do when my love is away? (Does it worry you to be alone?) How do I feel by the end of the day? (Are you sad because you're on your own?) No, I get by with a little help from my friends. I get high with a little help from my friends. I'm gonna try with a little help from my friends..." ~The Beatles "With A Little Help From My Friends"

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

This Is Marriage: Day 331

Pete is telling me about his day. It's 10:00pm his time. He has been working since 6:30am. He is trying to balance his 12 hour-a-day job with studying for/completing the exams for his Expeditionary Warfare Pin with studying for/completing the requirements for the Chief initiation process. I know he will succeed at all those things. He will make a plan and he will execute it. That is what he does. That is the man I married.

He sends me a picture of the Warfare pin. It has a ship, a sword and a gun on it. It says EXPEDITIONARY in capital letters. It looks fancy. I mean, a gun and a sword? And a ship? That is a lot of things. If you had all those things you would be well prepared to face any pirate attacks that might occur within your vicinity. He tells me about the thick booklet of information he has to know to become Chief. And that part of the initiation process involves telling jokes to the current Chiefs. There is a lot I will probably never understand about the military. It's like a weird fraternity with weapons. But it has a lot of awesome members, former and current. And a better sense of humor than I thought. Plus, the pins are cool. So there's that.

Pete says he was thinking about what his life would be like if he hadn't married me and it made him cry, he was so sad to think of life without me. I laugh. He says he is being serious (he is rarely serious). But I am laughing not in a HaHa way. I am laughing because I've felt the same way a thousand times. There have been so many moments this year where I've had that This. This is my person. feeling. Followed by a sense of incredulity. How? How is this possible? How did I get so lucky? And then I am crying, from happiness and gratitude and the ache of missing him so acutely.

Marriage is a rush of appreciation and amazement and awesomeness.

Lyric of the moment: "I was standing. You were there. Two worlds collided. And they could never tear us apart..." ~INXS "Never Tear Us Apart"