Dogs, part 2

I have learned in the running world that dogs aren’t always your best friend. I have had multiple run ins with animals on the road. Last week I saw a fox for the first time. The week before I ran with a deer and almost saw a poor cat get hit by a truck. Thank God I never saw a bear or I would be griping about them instead. I used to run with my beagle up until last year. He is almost 8 and can no longer keep up with me. He runs with my husband instead. Last week I had to pick up my dog while running because he injured his paw. He howls and cries if we try to sneak out running without him. He loves it too. 

I used to run with my running partner and dog mainly on the back roads. Now I run on the busier roads because the people that live on those roads keep their dogs tied up. The first encounter happened with a Great Dane. The biggest dog I have ever seen. His head reached my chest and he was eyeing up my dog like he was a little house cat. I had a really big problem here because I couldn’t outrun my running partner. Thankfully the dog’s owner noticed he left the yard and got him before anyone was hurt. 

The second dog encounter involved a black lab. This dog seemed friendly enough. He frequently would chase us and bark a bit. No harm in that, right? Well one day he snuck up on us out of a brush filled ditch. We were running at a good pace when he startled us. This ambush caused my dog to run in front of me to avoid the other dog. I tripped over my dog and landed hard in the gravel. I gashed up my knee pretty bad. It was a long 2 miles home bleeding gravel out of my knee and hands from trying to catch myself. I have a scar on my knee as a reminder of my running days with my two “best friends”. 

I will be saying goodbye to my best friend and first running partner tonight as she is moving out of the state. I will miss our many adventures on and off the road. On to happier trails and new adventures. You will be greatly missed. 

Marathon training, week 7

I didn’t feel like running 18 miles today, but I did it. I don’t feel like writing a blog today, but I am doing it. I had a good 3 hours to contemplate why I feel such a lack of motivation. Everyday is not a picnic and fireworks, although this time of year it probably should be. I think some of it has to do with my parents selling my grandma’s house at the end of this month. I am going to help clean out her house tonight. Even though grandma has been gone for over six years now, this seems like the final goodbye to my childhood comforter. Coincidentally, I just found out today that my longtime running partner and one of my best friends will be moving out of state the end of this month as well. 

I did decide over the past couple of days that after running the marathon I want to stay half marathon conditioned. I will probably throw in a couple of 18 mile runs in there to keep my foot in the marathon door. There are not a lot of opportunities in my climate to run marathons in the winter months. 

Up north, part 2

The fortune cookie luck that is ordained for me has apparently not kicked in yet. But I did survive the weekend with the whole extended family and the weather was great. If I do get smitten with good luck maybe I would donate a little of it to my mom. She just missed getting hit by a tornado on her trip back home. Maybe she was lucky that she missed the storm, but she was really pushing her luck.  

I was thinking a lot this weekend about coping mechanisms and how they change over time. My brother Mark seemed to cope with being around the family by drinking. I woke up early on Saturday morning and came out to sit by the fire at 6:30 AM. Mark was on his second beer by then which concerned me.     Other than that, he seems happy. He recently got engaged and is planning a fall wedding. His fiancĂ© is good for him, I hope that he can bring out the best in her as well. I just worry about them. Mark is so much like my dad that I think being a husband and father will be challenging. It can be challenging for the most patient people in the world. I hope and pray that if there is any genetic factor involved in autism that any future children will not be effected by it. 

Luke has two little girls ages 5 and 7. I watched them play in the water, remembering when I was right between their age and watching my younger brothers in the water. It really gives me perspective on how young I was when given great responsibility. Luke worries that his kids hate him because he is a perfectionist who demands perfection. Luke is a great dad. I sometimes feel like my kids hate me and I don’t demand perfection. I don’t demand much of anything. I want them to have something that I didn’t have, a childhood. 

I felt like I could really relate with Luke. We are so much alike as adults even though we coped with life in totally different ways in our youth. The pendulum took us from our extremes to a common middle. He is no longer the party animal. He is serious and thoughtful. I came out of my shell. I no longer feel a lot of anxiety about spending time with the extended family. I am hoping that we can finally forge a relationship. 

Fortune cookies

Up until this week, a majority of my fortune cookies have said similar things. You will lead a mediocre, boring, uneventful, mundane life but you have music in your heart. My husband, Paul, gets fortune cookies that say you have a brilliant business mind, you will conquer the world, sunshine comes out of your….. Well, you get the picture. Who writes these things? Did you ever get the the same fortune twice? I haven’t. I am not a superstitious person, however as a teen I cracked open a fortune cookie and nothing was inside at all. I was worried. What did it mean? Did the fortune cookie writer have writer’s block? Someone said I was very fortunate because it was rare not to get a fortune. I wore every seat belt I could find on my way home that day. 

This week I opened a great fortune cookie. It was so great that I almost automatically handed it over to my husband thinking it was for him until I saw the learn Chinese word on the bottom. The learn Chinese word was run. Since I am training for a marathon, this one seemed to have my name written on it. Here is what it said: The luck that is ordained for you will be coveted by others. I sure could use a little luck. I will be spending the holiday weekend up north with my entire side of the family. Plus my in-laws will be stopping by. Yikes!

Glory days

Earlier this week I took my middle child out with some friends for his 15th birthday. As I was paying for them to get in, the woman behind the counter asked if any of the boys were over 18. Over 18?!?  I know some of the boys are sprouting mustaches, but still! Honestly, that made me feel a little old. A few minutes later the song Glory Days came on the radio while I was watching the boys do flips off the high dive. This ignited a thought in the blogging lobe of my brain. These are my glory days right now. Hey, who said that middle age can’t be the new adolescence? 

When I was in middle school, I tried out for cheerleading. I was the only girl that didn’t make it. The high school choir director was the middle school cheerleading coach. For some reason, she never liked me. Tryouts were on an evening that I was sick, no exceptions. So I had to come in to tryouts with a fever. Right now I could save face and blame the failure on the fever, but I sucked. Then I was homeschooled between 8th and 10th grade. When I came back to high school as a junior, I was far behind in sports. But sports was never my passion at the time, music was. 

What I really wanted to do was join jazz choir. I didn’t even audition. Despite having a three octave range, I lacked confidence. The choir director cut my solo for solo and ensemble saying it wasn’t good enough. But maybe she wasn’t a good enough teacher to make this song bird sing. While I was homeschooled, I wrote my own music and sang it on the piano. I could hear a song and be able to pound it out on the piano and sing it as well. My dad yelled at me though, saying I was making a horrible racket. I wanted to join the choir in college, but feared I wasn’t good enough and never tried out. At my last high school reunion after rocking the karaoke machine a spouse of a classmate said I must have been a star in choir. I am so glad that my oldest daughter is a three octave choir star. I don’t want to live it through her, I want to still be able to live it myself. 

In college, I commuted to school while living at home about half of my college years. Mom still needed my help raising my brothers. I also became a caregiver for two other disabled people. No new sense of freedom or keg parties for me. Now my children are almost raised and I have a new sense of freedom that I never had before. I am going to make up for the lost time. I love running and decided that I am going to run a marathon. Things are going great, they really are. I figure that I have about a ten year span to finally have my glory days. I am a few days from my 41st birthday. I am not sure I can keep up this marathon pace forever. I am at a major crossroad here. Should I keep myself in marathon condition after the marathon next month or cut back to a half marathon pace? Will my body burn out faster at an extreme level or will I be able to have a longer “run” overall if I cut back the stress on my body? Something to think about on my run today. After today I will have a total of 33 miles in for the week and I feel better than I ever felt in my whole life. 

Dogs, part 1

I remember the first day and last day the best, everything else is a blur of white fur. My parents and brothers came to pick me up from my grandma’s one evening after being at a birthday party of a little boy who had severe cerebral palsey. I opted out of going to the party because the previous year this little boy’s older brother decided to take me out on a little adventure which involved me getting lost in the woods. We trudged through the woods for hours, he knew his way back but I didn’t. He made me carry “dinosaur bones”, basically any old bones he could find, back to his house. If I didn’t carry those bones, I didn’t go home type of arrangement. Needless to say, I stayed at grandma’s house the next year. Mark came in the house to get me exclaiming that we now have our first dog. I didn’t believe him at first. It was dark out when I peeked into the car. Sure enough there was a big white dog in there. She was a stray named Whitey. The friendliest dog ever. 

The last day started like any other. It was a Saturday. I volunteered with grandma, Aunt Grace, and a few other older church ladies at the thrift shop. They always had me running the cash register. I don’t know why because I was only 13. Grandma said that if anyone wanted me to take their items out to their car for them that I needed to have her do it. Something about that not being very safe even though I was old enough to run the cash register. 

There was a problem with the dog when I got home. She was having a hard time going on her daily walk with mom. Mom said that Whitey probably drank the milk she set out for the cats. Her fur was matted up on her backside and she couldn’t go to the bathroom easily. Mom gave her a bath and trimmed her fur but she did not get better. Mom and I took her to the vet. The x-Ray showed that her intestine twisted. At this time, we made a horrible mistake by taking our dog back home. 

Afternoon turned towards evening with no improvement. During this time, I received a call from a girl named Ann who was a homeschooled. (This happened during our three years of being home bound after Matt got kicked out of school for his violent autistic behavior). Ann called to tell me about her trip to Australia that they just got back from. Sorry, gotta go, my dog is dying here. Can’t hear about your wonderful vacation. My mom, brothers, and I sat next to Whitey for the next several hours. Dad checked out and was watching TV. I am going to spare you the details here, but trust me when I tell you that my dog died an extremely painful death that lasted over the span of several hours. A couple of hours in my mom asked me if she should call the neighbor over to shoot our dog. I said, “Absolutely not!” This was a man who shot his cute little Beagle puppy for chasing his chickens. This type of logic is exactly why you do not ask a 13 year old to help make major decisions in the family!

After several more hours and after mom called the emergency vet services to see if there was surgery or anything else we could do, my dog died. I still have her collar in my jewelry drawer today. I still feel pained that I made the wrong decision if I really think about it. I still feel angry that I had to make a lot of adult decisions as a child that I wasn’t ready to make. 

The next morning as mom and I left for church, I saw Whitey laying on the front lawn. The wind was gently blowing her fur. I imagined that she was sleeping and that none of this really happened. I did that a lot as a kid, pretending that painful things didn’t happen. 

Fish out of water

Drip, drip, drip. Water runs slowly at first, seeping into the basement. The water threatens my dad’s graveyard of electronics. Radios, VCR’s, some his for hobby, but mainly electronics that need fixing or are unfixable. Broken parts, machines on the floor open from the last ditch effort operation to save them. Laughter. “Dad is going to be mad” said Matt. Matt has a new obsession. When no one is watching he goes into the laundry room on the first floor and overflows the utility tub. Laughter. My dad yells in horror at the prospect of his electronics’ burial in water. Matt flooded the house multiple times over the year. I can’t pinpoint when this obsession started or ended, it happened about 3 decades ago. 

Drip, drip, drip. Water runs slowly towards the basement. This time the fish tank broke that was sitting by the front door that no one uses. Luke used the front door that day. He flung the door open and the door knob went right through the fish tank. Luke and I try to grab the fish, save them. I reach my hand in to grab a fish. The fish is slimey. I scream and pull back my hand cutting my arm on the broken glass. My dad enters the scene and is mad because the water is everywhere. My dad grabs me by the arm and throws me out of the house. He said, “Go get f*cked and get the hell out of my house.”  I wander around outside crying. I was only trying to save a fish. My mom had to call over my grandma that night. She was the only one who could console me. 

The morning after the 24 mile run

Good news, I’m still alive and can walk after yesterday’s first 24 mile run. My toenails are all intact. How do I feel? Tired! My body’s alert system is going off. Sirens blaring, something is wrong. Beep, beep, beep. It took me three hours to fall asleep last night equaling about four hours of sleep. I have been struggling with insomnia for over a week now. I was a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to walk today. I am throwing my son a birthday party sleepover tonight and taking them to the beach this afternoon. I want to swim and play in the water with the kids. My son is 15 though and would probably be happier if I just dropped them off. Not going to happen!

I also haven’t had much of an appetite. Is this normal?? I burned off around 3000 calories, ate about 500 calories yesterday which puts me about 4000 calories in the hole. I can feel the definition of my rib cage, my bones poking me at night. I weighed in at 123 lbs this morning. I am 5’7″. I really don’t want to dip below 120 lbs. With the 4th of July coming up this weekend maybe I am worrying for nothing. I will probably pig out just like everyone else. 

Have a good day! See you tomorrow. 

Marathon training, week 6

I am breaking one of my rules here. I am blogging after having a beer. Sometimes after I have a beer or two I tend to share all of my secrets. But I guess I really don’t have to worry about that because you know more than most of my best friends already. Giggle. To tell you the truth, I am celebrating! I ran my first 24 mile run today. Woo hoo! I am not going to lie to you and say it was easy. It was a really hot day, so I ended up breaking down and walking at mile 8. I felt like I was going to puke or pass out. A couple of weeks back after I ran the 10k, I saw a man pass out while running the race. He didn’t even catch himself. He landed right on his face .07 miles from the finish line. They wouldn’t even drag the poor guy across the finish line. I had images of the man passing out in my mind at mile 8. Plus at mile 6, it was so hot that I took my honk if you’re going to hit me shirt off. Here I am passed out on the side of the road and I won’t even getting a honk before they hit me. Geez. 

I almost talked myself out of running 24 miles. I wasn’t sure I could do it. I spent about four and a half hours staining my deck yesterday. I woke up with sore legs (what?) and a sore back. What am I thinking? It is hot out. Am I crazy? I admit I am a little crazy, but crazy is better than boring in my book (blog). It took me about five hours. I walked about three miles of it, but finished strong. I think it helped to take a twenty minute break in the A/C after the first twelve miles. I have a three mile speed training and short six mile run planned for the rest of the week. When did six miles become short?!? I am not sure that I will want to do another marathon. I hate speed training, but probably like the half marathon distance the best. I am just happy that I was able to run 24 miles today even though my brain did not want to cooperate.  

The accidental overnight sail

Last summer my husband and I bought an old 25 foot sailboat. After about a month of ownership, we decided to take three of our friends out for a 3 hour tour. The day before I bought brand new water shoes for the trip. But we had one small problem the evening of the cruise, not enough wind. We decided to have a cook out on shore and in the process broke the first rule of boating safety by consuming alcoholic beverages. 

It was a warm July evening. I wore my capris and a t-shirt. After supper, the wind picked up out of nowhere. We were ready for the quick sunset cruise out to the lighthouse and back maybe five miles from shore. Once we made it to the lighthouse, the wind was really whipping and there were three foot waves. We thought it would be a really great idea to see how fast the boat could go. We did get the boat to go fast, faster than we have seen it go since. The problem was that the boat went fast in the wrong direction. When we got done testing the speed, we were 15 miles north of where we were supposed to be and it was getting dark. 

In the meantime, my friend and I needed to use the bathroom. We had a toilet on board, but we didn’t know how to use it. After using the facilities, we were supposed to pull a lever to empty the contents into a lower compartment. We didn’t do that. As a gracious host, I had my friend use the bathroom first. When it was my turn, I opened the lid as we hit a wave and spilled the contents  down my legs onto my new water shoes. Great, now I am soaked in my friend’s urine. No problem, I had extra clothes on board, right?! Well, no. 

Now it was dusk and we were lost. The depth finder was not working, the GPS coordinates did not take into account that there was land between point A and point B, we had no maps, and our cell phones all died. To make matters worse,  we were almost out of gas. We were in deep water! Every time we tried getting close to shore we would ground out, using what little gas we had left to get ourselves out. When we went out to deep water we hit some big waves spraying us with water. I was freezing after being soaked with urine and water not to mention the drop in temperature after dark. I used the spider filled sail cover to stay warm. One of our thrill seeker friends thought it would be a good idea to dance around on the wet bow much to his wife’s dismay. They ended up falling asleep at midnight. My husband spent the night steering the boat while his other buddy and I worked the jib sheet. Our minds started playing tricks on us and we were afraid of hitting dark objects in the water. At 5 AM I couldn’t take it anymore and had to go to sleep. Geez, all that and I missed the sunrise!! In daylight we were able to get back to shore. We almost made it to the harbor when we ran out of gas. My husband jumped into the water and had to swim the boat to shore. 

We made it home at 7 AM the day after our three hour cruise. My body was swaying back and forth for the next couple of days. The day after we got back I decided to go for a 6 mile run even though I was still swaying and felt like crap. It was the hardest run ever because I ended up coming down with pneumonia that day. 

What did we learn from our (in)experience? I am now toilet trained, we carry extra gas, extra water, and bought an additional phone battery charger. I have extra blankets, sweaters, sleeping bags, shorts, pants, coat, robe, and rain gear that stays on the boat just in case we are foolish enough to have another accidental, overnight sail.