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After years of sloth, I am now a mama who runs and practices yoga. I write about exercise; parenting a grownup child as well as two little kids; and whatever is annoying me at the moment.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Gram's 90th birthday

Last weekend my grandmother turned 90. For fun, I googled "what does turning 90 feel like". One of the hits was a link to a cheeky greeting card that said turning 90 was like turning 32 in Celsius. A story in a magazine I've never heard of, Dame, offered this insight: It's weird, but cool, too. After all, President George H.W. Bush, who died last week at 94, celebrated his 90th by skydiving.

To celebrate Gram, many from our family flew to Sacramento for her party from Michigan, Nebraska and my husband and our little ones from Chicago. We're the kind of family that doesn't gather very often, because we're so spread out. The family I grew up with in Nebraska isn't into traditional family gatherings, so it's pretty exciting when there is a family party.

Gram was as beautiful as always. She's tiny -- not sure she measures up to 5 feet anymore -- with striking short white hair that always appears to be neatly attended to. She's been on her own since Grandpa died more than 20 years ago. She had to learn how to drive and still lives on her own in the house they bought when my mother and her siblings were young kids. I was a little intimidated by her as a kid, but her strength is something I've come to admire as an adult.

The day of her party, her garage and house were set up with plenty of food, drink and chairs and tables for guests. The sun played peek-a-boo, providing warmth on a slightly chilly day. (I love California winters.) Gram wore an emerald green shirt that set off her pretty fair skin and hair. She was nervous -- as we all get when hosting a party and hoping people show up. Her neighbor Jane made jello shots, which we sampled pre-party -- even Gram, daintily spooning hers out of a small cup and wryly noting that it could be tough to maneuver her walker after doing one of these. 

I spent a lot of the party stage-managing my semi-tame children, so I got to observe and talk with people in spurts. It was a blast. Every time I saw Gram, she was smiling and talking to someone. My uncles were goofy and playful and loud. My normally cranky aunt was surprisingly cheerful, and my other aunt was her usual warm, friendly self -- the kind of person who makes you feel better when you're around her. My cousins -- all younger than me, the youngest one a senior in high school -- were super fun. 

My sister was there, too. I was a little nervous to see her because our relationship, which has sometimes been complicated, has been strained in recent years. She was friendly, which relaxed me, and we had fun hanging out. I love her and her warmth meant a lot to me. We wished our mother -- Gram's oldest daughter -- could have been there. She would have loved the party. Unfortunately her health makes travel impossible. It's so unfair.

I've been thinking about the weekend all week, back in cold, gray Chicago. I wished I'd relaxed more and not fussed over my kids so much. I should have spent less time working on that 500-piece puzzle I bought "for the kids"while trying to belly-breathe and more time talking to Gram and my other family members. 

There are points in our lives when our friends feel closer to us than our families -- for me, this isn't one of those times. While some friends are easy -- you know where you stand with them -- I find myself wondering about others, the ones who aren't honest and you feel like are talking behind your back. 

I've got some stuff stuck in my brain I need to work out -- this too shall pass is what I'm telling myself. I've always been too thin-skinned and wish I could let this kind of stuff just roll off of me. I'm not good at that.

Watching Gram with the friends who came -- the ones who loved her enough to show up -- reminded me that those are the friends to watch for and to love and cherish. 

What I also was reminded of was the enduring quality of family. A family can be like a pet -- too easy to ignore and take for granted and sometimes gives you a warning snap -- but is also loyal AF and will curl up next to you when you need it, their warm body pressed against yours, providing comfort and calm.

Thank you family for being you. And happy birthday, Gram. I hope to be half as fabulous as you when I turn 90. And I'm definitely having jello shots.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

The wet feet marathon: Race report

Last year I had surgery to repair a torn labrum and fix an impingement in my right hip. Now that's done, it was time to try a marathon again.

I signed up for what was a sure thing, the Des Plaines River Trail marathon. DPRT is a lovely, flat crushed gravel trail in the northern suburbs, offering half marathon, full marathon and 50-mile distances. I ran this race run three years ago and absolutely loved it. I convinced my running buddy Shaun to sign up with me.

When it came time to train for the race back in June, I hesitated, to put it mildly. There were personal things happening at the time and I felt overwhelmed. Expending the time and energy on training for a marathon -- this would be my ninth -- seemed frivolous.

I mentioned this to Shaun on one of our many obscenely early morning runs and he said simply, we'll get through this together. Running friends are great that way.

The ego boost of a comeback marathon took a backseat to running and focusing on training as therapy for me, physically and emotionally. I ran, biked, lifted weights and did yoga all through the summer. It was a good summer. I felt physically strong.

I also focused on losing weight, and am now down close to 25 pounds since May. Menopause sucks in many ways, including adding "fluff" to my waistline over the last year. I like to joke that I've lost a toddler.

In September, as our runs became longer and longer, my old back issues began to flair up. Spasms and pain were with me nearly daily. Shortly after the final 20-mile run three weeks ahead of tapering for the race, my back was a complete mess. Those three weeks were miserable. I visited my old sports chiro, who did adjustments, but the pain kept returning. UGH.

The week before the race, I wasn't nervous about it, just about calming down my back so I could run OK. That's when our email inboxes were lit up by race director emails warning us about flooding on the course and possible re-routes. I was "meh" about it, figuring they'd figure it out.

By the end of the week, the alarmist emails had wormed their way into our nerves and fueled our jitters.

That cool morning, as racers stood around open fire pits (soooo nice) to stay warm, that's all we talked about -- how the course had been re-routed so that we would run four 6.55-mile loops (the 50-milers would do eight loops, omg) and that we would still be running through standing water, some areas up to half a foot deep. !!!!!

Another running friend had previously advised duct-taping our shoes, so we did. No one else at the race did, and we got a lot of comments and questions -- to which we readily responded that we had no clue what we were doing.

Finally, we were off. It was a gorgeous morning, sunny with frost blanketing the earth and temps in the 30s.

We encountered our first water crossing a half mile in, and then another, and more. Then we turned around and ran back through the five we just ran through. We were soaked nearly up to our knees, and parts of our upper legs and shirts as other runners tore  by us and splashed us. The water was freezing. I thought, oh my god, we have to do this THREE MORE TIMES?

As I continued the first loop, there fortunately was only one more water hazard just past a bridge over the Des Plaines River and then several dry miles -- though my feet wouldn't be dry again until the end of the race.

Shaun is faster than me, so I was solo a lot of the time. We would wave and/or hug as we'd pass each other in loops. The second loop was probably the toughest, now knowing what lay ahead of me and that I'd have to run more loops of this. My back was growling but as long as I kept moving, it wasn't too bad.

Finally, I began the last loop, the sun high in the sky. I felt happy, or at least happier. Other marathoners and I grinned at each other, knowing we were near the end. I made an extra effort to cheer on the 50-milers, who would be slogging on long after I was done.

Shaun and I found each other and ran the last five or so miles together. He was not cheerful and just wanted to get the damn thing done, his words, which I was fine with. Some friends of his came to cheer him on that final lap, and it was so nice to hear people cheering for us. I also ate part of a turkey sandwich that final loop, and it was fantastic.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I couldn't take off my soggy shoes and socks fast enough. One of my ankles was bleeding a little, but miraculously I had no blisters. We grabbed food and beer with Shaun's super nice friends Morgan and Tim and we were done for the day.

My legs were a little sore but fine over the next few days. But my back woke up screaming the next day and by Monday I could barely focus on anything, the spasming was so bad. It was as bad as it gets.

I found a new chiropractor in my neighborhood, a really wonderful woman, who helped to slowly calm it down, and I got back into my sports doc. I started physical therapy just yesterday, six days after the race, and already am feeling much better.

For the challenging course, my time of 5:30 was just fine -- and even a few minutes faster than the last marathon I ran in 2016 in Kenosha, when I was pretty injured and before I had surgery. I'm 50, and dammit, I just ran a marathon!

Left, last May at the Wisconsin Half Marathon and weighing more than 20 pounds heavier than on marathon day, right.

Not DFL in my age group, woohoo!

A marathon is more than 50,000 steps. #science #cool

Totally grateful for this chiropractor! 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Riding a bike in Iowa: Ragbrai 2018 report

Earlier this year, one of us -- either my 25-year-old son Tory or I, not sure -- came up with an idea: Let's ride RAGBRAI this year.

RAGBRAI stands for "Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa". The Register is the Des Moine Register, a paper I tried unsuccessfully to get hired on at many years ago as a young small-town newspaper reporter in Newton, Iowa, and later in Des Moines at a small business weekly. (Years later, I made it to the Chicago Sun-Times as a reporter, so it all worked out fine in my book.)

That aside, the Register puts on this bike ride every year over seven days across the state. Back in the early 1990s, when I was that reporter, I was married with a small boy, Tory. I had thought about riding RAGBRAI but it didn't work out. And then I moved away, remarried, had more kids and became a runner. I went years hardly ever touching a bike.

The opportunity to finally do RAGBRAI was too tempting. Tory's dad and I agreed that he'd take the first four days in Iowa with our son, and I'd ride with him the last three days. Tory's extended family would drive an RV across the state and crew him and whichever parent was with him. Perfect. 

RAGBRAI's web site recommends biking 1,000 miles to train. I didn't do nearly that much, but I'd already been doing spin classes regularly, post-hip arthoscopy surgery in 2017. I also abundantly use our city's bike share Divvy nearly daily, so I squeezed in as many 20-25-mile rides as time would allow as the July RAGBRAI dates approached. Meh, I figured. I'd just go slow and do my best. 

I drove to Newton, Iowa with a rental car and a borrowed bike rack, that, unfortunately, didn't fit the rental car. I managed to keep the bike on the car by using bungy ropes to attached the bike rack to the car and the bike to the bike rack.

I sweated it the entire 300-plus mile drive to Newton, one of the towns the ride would stop through. It seemed appropriate to start the ride there, considering I had started my previous career in that town as a very green reporter and where my oldest son was born.

When I arrived at Tory's great-aunt Helen's house, he and his dad were already there. They were exhausted and hobbling a little as they walked, telling of heat and hills. 


A good dinner later by Helen and her sister, Gerry (Tory's awesome grandmother), and we were soon in bed. I woke up around 2 a.m., fretting about riding and how I hadn't yet lined up enough babysitters for the following week to pick up the kids at camp. Ugh.

The next morning, Tory and I got our bikes and stuff together. I ate a banana and we were off to Reasnor, a tiny town 10 miles away. It was hilly, but oh my, it was cool and the sun was rising and it was amazing. A breakfast bowl from "Farm Kids", one of the many pop-up food places we'd see again over the route, and we were happy and full. 

I was feeling spunky at that point, and gabbing Tory's ear off as we continued east toward Lynnville and Sully. Suddenly my chain popped off and I couldn't pedal.

This is one of the things that holds me back from biking more on my own. I know jack shit about fixing a bike. I've never even changed a tire. Deep confession.

So naturally, I panic. Tory's like, "calm down" and starts messing with the bike. Some thing that holds the chain in place is bent. He tries to fix it, but I still can't pedal. 

Maybe 15 minutes into this, one of the members of the Air Force Cycling team -- which Tory told me rides RAGBRAI to assist troubled cyclists -- pulls over and begins to help us. He's a tall, young guy and super nice. He warns me he might break the derailer-whatever-it-is if he bends it back into place, but we have no choice.

It works! He tells us his name is Greg and he's stationed at Scott Air Force Base, which is near St. Louis. I tell him my dad's retired Air Force in Omaha, and thank him for his bike help. Tory and I continue on a mile to Lynnville where -- thank you!! -- there is a bike shop popup where someone is able to fix my bike enough to finish RAGBRAI. 

That is a great thing about RAGBRAI -- in addition to food and drinks and funs stuff in every town, there are bike repair people to help you. What a relief!

The rest of the trip was rolling hills and stopping in little towns. I ate an amazing Iowa pork chop out of a napkin on the side of the road. We stopped for ice cream. When we got to Sigourney that evening, we wound up in a weird, ginormous costume warehouse (!?), lured by the promise of free beer. We got to the RV park and took a very cold shower in  4H barn-like place for $5, but it was good to wash off the grime. Total mileage: 75, more than 3,000 feet of elevation climbed. I felt tired, but elated.

Day two was another 50-plus miles to my favorite Iowa town, Iowa City -- home to the University of Iowa and my diehard football fan husband's team. It was less hilly, with a stop in Amish country's Kalona, with delicious roadside goodies (homemade pies are a weakness of mine). Kalona is home to a great brewery, Kalona Brewing, so naturally we stopped for a beer. The taproom was packed full of bikers, everyone in a great mood. In Iowa City, we went to dinner at Pullman, one of my new favorite Iowa City restaurants, and walked around on what was a beautiful summer night. I missed my family but it was pretty great.

Day three was 74 miles from Iowa City to Davenport, one of the Quad Cities on the Mississippi River. We trekked through West Liberty (super cute, quaint town) and I grabbed a pancake breakfast at the fire department in Atalissa to the east. We then rode through Moscow (blink and you missed it), Wilton, Wildcat Den State Park and then Montpelier, where Tory took a small roadside nap to allow me to catch up with him. This part of Iowa was a pretty break from the cornfields and soybean fields we'd been riding through, with more trees and some rolling hills.

We then went through Blue Grass, a tiny town with a gigantic drive-in movie theater, before finishing our ride to Davenport. The day had a Mayberry-like quality for sure -- like time had frozen at some point in eastern Iowa. 

I'd never been to Davenport. The riverfront was nice (I love riverfronts in general), and it was great to cross the finish line looking out at the Mississippi river (Big River! we always yell to the kids as we cross between Iowa and Illinois. I plan to yell that to them when they're teenagers, too). A quick burger with Tory, his grandparents and great-uncle, and we were on the road home to Chicago.

I absolutely loved RAGBRAI and biking. I'm so thrilled that I was in shape enough to do the ride and enjoy it. I'm wondering if I'm starting to like biking more than running. I can't wait to do another long organized ride.

Thank you to Helen in Newton for dinner and letting us stay at her house for the night; Curt for driving his RV all week and being all around awesome, to Tory's grandparents Mark and Gerry; who had always been so kind and wonderful since I first met them 30 years ago; Chris, Tory's dad, for doing the first four days with our son; Brett, my husband, for sparing me for a few days to do this awesome trip with Tory; and to my dad, who (mostly) patiently taught me how to ride a bike as a kid, and never fails to remind me how I used to crash into metal garbage cans.

And thank you to Tory -- a 50-year-old mom and 25-year-old guy don't have a lot of common interests, so I'm glad that you were willing to do this with your parents. It's fun having adult kids!

Tory and I in Keota, Iowa

Our comfy home

I think this is West Liberty

Atalissa, Iowa

Atalissa Fire Department making pancakes for cyclists

Drive-in in Blue Grass. Tory just signed the wall.

Friday, May 11, 2018

An accident and a race

Last Saturday, I got up super early, quietly dressing for a half marathon race just over the border in Wisconsin. It would be the third of three races in three weeks, and first races in my new age bracket of 50-54: the Lakefront 10-miler, 4/21; the Ravenswood 5K, 4/2; and that day the Wisconsin half marathon in Kenosha, where I ran my last full (miserable) marathon pre-hip surgery in 2016.

My friend Shaun picked me up at 4:45 -- we are used to very early runs together, so it's not unsual for us to meet at this hour. It was a warm-ish, windless morning -- really gorgeous out.

We were driving northbound on I-94 -- the Edens Expressway, as it's called locally. It was just past the first light of the day, but overall still dark out.

As we casually talked about our weeks, we came up upon what were two undistinguishable, large dark objects on either side of the freeway, not moving, with small dark objects strewn across the lanes.

It quickly became clear that something very bad had happened.

We stopped talking and Shaun pulled over to the right side of the road. The car accident must have just occured, because no one had yet stopped. It was a little eerie that no one was around, even at that hour.

I got out and walked over to the truck behind our parked car, while Shaun called 911. I didn't think about what I could be walking up to or if I could even open the door of an overturned car. As I approached, the door suddenly opened, the top of it scraping hard on the pavement and a man with a goatee burst out. He had blood on his face and teeth and stumbled as he unsteadily stood up and started toward the freeway. Right after him was a woman, who crawled out. I steered them both away from the road, worried they would walk into traffic.

The man fell over into the grass, and laid still. She followed and leaned over him, crying "Babe! Babe! Wake up!" I asked them if they had anyone else in the car, and she said no. I learned later that they have a two-year-old daughter together who, thankfully, was not in the car.

I have no medical training, but I didn't want to leave them until emergency responders arrived, so Shaun and I agreed to stay. It was growing more light out by the minute, and it seemed suddenly there were more people pulling over, wanting to help.

The car on the other side of the northbound lanes was pretty smashed up, and I was relieved to see that someone was moving around in there. I learned later that the person was trapped, and I don't know the condition of the second person in the vehicle.

The man with the goatee, a young-ish Latino man, groaned in pain as he laid on the grass next to the freeway. His right hand was an indistinguishable bloody pulp, and I could see his wrist bone exposed. 

I didn't want his life partner -- that is how she described herself to me -- to have to look at it, and felt I should cover him to protect him, so I grabbed one of my clean shirts (I always have clothes to change into after a race) and gently covered him up, even as he cried out. God, it was awful, listening to a human in so much pain and being able to do so little.

HIs partner was so pretty, longish black hair and wearing a leather jacket, spots of blood all over her. She was anguished that she was driving. He kept moaning "I forgive you babe, it's not your fault!" They both said that they never saw the other car, and indeed, the other car didn't have any headlights on.

I gently hugged her and reminded her that she did her best . I didn't know what else to say.

It felt like an eternity that we sat there. He was now bleeding thru the gray t-shirt and both he and his partner moaned about why an ambulance wasn't there. Finally, a fire truck pulled up and ambulances began to arrive. I hugged her and said good-bye, that I would pray for her. I haven't stopped thinking about them all week.

Later at the race, when we met up with other friends running the race, we heard about this bad accident that snarled traffic and, purportedly, some runners couldn't even get to the race.

It was surreal that for the grace of God, we got there when we did. If it had been sooner, who knows if we could have gotten caught in it. If it was later, I could have been a disgruntled runner annoyed that I couldn't get to my race.

The race itself was fine -- it was hot and sunny and I was nauseous the last few miles. It was one of my slowest half marathons at 2:25.  I just didn't care about the race and kept wondering about the couple. Did he lose his hand? I couldn't tell from all of the blood, and hoped that that wasn't the case. Did they have insurance? Would they be OK?

I sent an email this week to the suburban fire chief for the town that responded to the accident, after googling what skimpy news reports there were. It was a long shot, but I had to ask.

He actually answered me with a really nice email, citing HIPPA laws and said even fire departments can't find out from hospitals whether victims make it and how they're doing. He said if they contacted him, he'd let them know that I want to check on them and see if they need any help.

I hope they're OK.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Frozen Gnome 10K: Race report

A year ago this week, the same week the 45th president was inaugurated and determined women marched across the globe, I had my first running-related surgery.

I had a hip arthoscopy to repair a torn labrum and to shave my thigh bone, to eliminate bone spurring and get it to fit right in my hip socket again. (Dr. Shane Nho through Rush Medical System, for those wondering. He is fantastic.)

Right before that surgery, I did a race that is one of my annual favorites, the Frozen Gnome 10K/50K in Crystal Lake.

 It is wicked hilly and stunningly pretty, and known for "buttslide hill", which is exactly what it sounds like. Every year I do the 10K and am sore for days -- the 50K is five loops on that terrain, and I admire the runners I see every year who do the whole thing. I also wonder how they can move the next day.

As I ran it just prior to surgery a year ago, my hip customarily ached deeply, as did my lower back, groin and the inside of my thigh. Despite how much running had come to frankly suck by then, I was optimistic about my surgery.

I wondered to my friend Shaun, who himself was rebounding from injury and starting to try and lose weight he had regained during injury, what this race would be like a year from that day, meaning this year.

Welp, Shaun and I both had an awesome time and awesome race this year.

Our usual Frozen Gnome crew carpooled from the city -- Krista, Shaun and Lindsay, who moved to Minnesota this past year but made sure to be in town for Frozen Gnome. (Yeah, we REALLY like this race so much that we're willing to cross state lines)

Another of our running friends, Terri, joined us this year. Aside: Terri fosters cats and gave me my awesome cat, Reckless, who we adopted four years ago this month. Here he is, licking our bathtub. Ick.

Crystal Lake is a pretty good haul from Chicago, at least an hour's drive in no traffic. It looks like it belongs in Iowa somewhere. Since it's a long trip, we spend the car ride every year discussing incredibly timely topics like the temperature at the start (this year it was 4 degrees. Since it was above zero, we're like, cool!).

There's also the annual speculation of how bad the ice will be on the course this year, how many pairs of socks and tights we're wearing, how many shirt/layers, which hat, which neck buff, etc.

(This year: Blue winter running jacket, windbreaker vest, Icebreaker wool shirt-- these are the bomb -- thickest tights in my possession, one thin and one thick pair of smartwool socks, and trail shoes. Other than my butt, I was pretty warm once I was running).

After previous years of deep snow, slush and icy -- we were surprised to see no snow and no ice. A freak thaw earlier in the week, when our temps got to almost 60 degrees, eliminated everything.

The start line consisted of runners, lots of them ultrarunners ready to run 50K, jumping around to stay warm, as some with a bullhorn counted down and a Journey song got blasted as we started running. One guy grumbled that this was the song that the White Sox ruined when they won the World Series in 2005 (Don't Stop Believin').

The ground was dry and frozen into uneven ruts. The trees were naked and bathed in sunlight. It was just gorgeous.

And I felt good, even with ice in my hair and on my eyelashes. I panted up and down hills I'm not used to running, but it felt good to breathe hard and struggle.

And it felt good not to hurt in a bad way.
Frosted hair, literally

I met a couple of Flatlanders, Holly and Stormy, along the way (an ultramarathon group named for Illinois' flatness in a good deal of the northern part of the state). It's fun to recognize someone on a course I've seen on the Flatlanders Facebook page or from the Strava app.

Stormy wore his daughter's white bunny-eared hat as a reminder of her, after losing her. His story isn't mine to tell, but man, I have thought of that hat a lot since the race. And I hugged my littlest ones a little extra when I got hom.

The rest of the race was a maze of steep hills, bare tree trunks, hard rutted ground and sun. Buttslide hill was snowless, so it required manuevering down the terrain like a crab, like gym class in grade school.

The rest of the story consists of meeting up in the warm car afterward to swap race stories, *maybe* someone flashed a running bra at someone, and hitting Starbucks for a satisfyingly large coffee.

How do you run in  the winter? Easy -- find friends like the few hundred who love running Frozen Gnome and other trails in every kind of weather. They're out there, and they make getting out of bed and bundling up worth it.

My friend Shaun has lost a ton of weight and gotten into amazing shape. I can barely keep up with him running. He had a great race, finishing way ahead of me. I'm so happy for him. I love a good comeback story.

Running friend lovelies

Next up: Indoor triathlon this week.

"Tammy" and "triathlon" are seldom mentioned in the same sentence. Um.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Happy New Year, friends!

Recently, my 8-year-old said something to the effect of, "If you say dumb things, that makes you dumb."

As I think of goals for 2018, I'm now thinking of it in terms of "if you do dumb things, you're dumb."

After a series of years running marathons and two 50Ks, 2017 was humbling.

2017 running mileage: 507 miles
2016 running mileage: 1,001 miles*

*Many of these were pure crap [see crappy Wisconsin marathon 2016 report], because of a torn hip labrum that resulted in hip arthoscopy surgery in January 2017.

2017 biking mileage: 802 miles
2016 biking mileage: 540 miles

I found this year that I really like doing weights classes and yoga. I used to hate both. I rediscovered enjoying bike riding, including a 50-mile ride with my 25-year-old son and a few great running friends on a really hot fall day in Michigan

(I will never forget my son changing his clothes in a dumpster in Three Oaks, Mich., after the race)\. And us laughing about it, while I changed in a car, for crying out loud.)

I also found this a challenging year that had me weigh a job offer in California, where in my heart I want to move, but it was not the right thing for us.

It also took me to a therapist, as I tried to figure out why I was so pissed off at the world. Turns out, I was entering menopause. NO ONE TOLD ME HOW MUCH IT WOULD SUCK.

I ditched the therapist, rediscovered my wonderful regular doctor and now feel sane and normal, if a little sweaty from time to time.

I also returned to running in May, four months after what was a successful surgery. I'm very grateful to Dr. Nho.

This year I will turn 50. As I think about a second century of life, I am determined to do lots of things.

I think the most important is to be a good, kind older person.

I spent a good deal of the first century of my life taking from others, being needier rather than giving.

I'd like to reverse that, and be the giver.

I'm also really worried about all of the crabbiness and negativity that would be easy to cave in to. When someone cuts me off in traffic, and my normal, first reaction is to swear and be pissed off, I am *trying* to remind myself that people, most people, are trying to do their best.

(My husband thinks this is ridiculous.)

There's a lot about life that makes it easy to become jaded and negative, that sucks the joy out of you.

I don't know if it happens to everyone in their 40s -- the decade I like to say when people become their parents, whether they like it or not.

Our politics, the poverty we see daily, the nasty words on social media and news shows -- I still can't believe that this is it.

I see it in people I know who can't forgive, who keep score. I've been guilty of that so many times. I don't want to be that person anymore.

Recognizing my good luck to have had the upbringing and opportunities not afforded to all, I think about how trail running and yoga and hanging with good people and reading books reminds me that there is more to this world than all of the shouting that goes on.

There's some pretty good things about life. I want to enjoy them more, and share them with people who need them.

I want to avoid being another shouter, and do more good. If you have ideas, send em along.

As for running and biking, here are my plans:

--Frozen Gnome 10K trail, January (this is no ordinary 10K and my fourth year of this amazing race)
--Lifetime indoor mini triathlon, January
--Lakefront 10, April
--Ravenswood 5K, April (my hood!)
--Apple Cider Century bike ride, September
--DPRT marathon, October (I ran this trail marathon in 2015 and loved it)

I know I will still say and do dumb things this year. But hopefully, I'll do more good, too.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

"Fun Mom": Race report

Eight months ago, I had hip arthoscopy to fix my right hip, which had a torn labrum and bone spurring.

Translated, it meant I couldn't straighten my right leg entirely, which messed up my running gait, which messed up running. Surgery in January repaired the labrum and shaved down the top of my thigh bone, so it fit in my hip socket again.

I feel SO much better.

Since May, I've been easing back into running, easing as in, I decided to join a friend of mine by signing up for the Fox Valley half marathon last Sunday.

I've run similar races undertrained and a few months post-partum, so why not, right?

Fox Valley is a good hour's drive outside of Chicago to a string of small towns along the Fox River that are cute, rustic-in-a-good-way and remind you that you have definitely left city limits. The Starbucks doesn't even automatically lock their bathroom.

I met friends Krista and Lindsay, Krista doing the half, too, and Lindsay doing the full, both as fundraisers for Feed My Starving Children. Both of them have recently dealt with some personal challenges. I love them both dearly, and admire them for toeing the starting line.

Especially on a freakishly hot September day. Chicago is in an unusually hot spell this month, and the mercury was forecast to rise well into the 80s that morning.

I didn't sleep much the night before, because I was like, wtf am I doing trying to run a half? Krista picked me up, since my car is still in the shop after someone cut off the catalytic converter from my car a week ago. Lovely.

She hadn't slept much either, nervous about her own challenge that day of running after a forced hiatus.

We traveled to the far flung burbs with Lindsay and Krista's husband, Scott, who radiates chill vibes, which I welcomed.

Parking, pee breals, nerves and we were at the back of the start line, speedy Lindsay already off closer to the start line with her amazing support crew. We were already sweating in the heat and we hadn't yet started running.

Krista and I ran three easy miles, with a few walk breaks. She saw her husband and decided she was good for the day..

I gulped hard internally, thinking, oh boy, how am I going to do 10 myself?

The next 10 miles were surprisingly good. It was ridiculously hot. Krista, joined now by her really sweet parents (who barely know me, but heartily cheered me on -- so kind) and her awesome hub, who yelled gustily "GO FUN MOM!"

Oh yeah, I have to explain that.

Months prior, when I signed up online for this race, I did it super fast before I could change my mind, and before I even told my husband. #badwife

I signed up so fast I didn't remember this weird question of "would you like to put a nickname on your race bib?" For some reason, I randomly picked "fun mom" which was printed on my bib in giant letters as "FUN MOM".

Good lord. Dork.

So, Scott loved yelling "go fun mom" at me, as did plenty of race spectators.

I mostly ran those miles, slow, concentrating to push off with step, to make sure my glutes and hamstrings were doing the work, and not lapsing into my plodding running in which the work is in the front of my legs and hips, to protect my newly healed hip.

It worked.

A miniature mimosa at mile 11 was helpful, too. I wanted to run backward for seconds, but decided to keep going.

Despite the heat, despite my undertraining, I crossed the finish line at 2:41, my personal worst time ever, even slower than halfs I've run pregnant and post-partum.

I was so happy to finish that I (mostly) didn't care about my time. "Fun moms" don't care about their race times, right?

Mostly I just felt grateful. I'm OK again.

No idea who this is, but I liked her shirt and sign
Some really great people. 

Dork alert
Fox River

Japanese garden -- so pretty