Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bucket List

On my 38th birthday I realized that I had just been drifting though my academic and work life.  I did things out of habit, routine, necessity.  I was no longer having fun or feeling excited about life.  I was nearly FORTY and what adventures had I had?  What dreams had I fulfilled?

I put pen to paper.  Next thing I knew, I  crafted a bucket list.  What a FUN, eclectic list it was!  I couldn't wait to finally start doing things I had hoped to do "some day".  Some day would start NOW! This list helped me find a balance between the "worker bee" and "adventure seeker" parts of my life.  Each birthday, I revisit my list. Can I check anything off?  Do I still want the same things?  What shall I plan or save up for next?  Putting your dreams in writing gives them wings and permission to fly.  I highly recommend coming up with your own version of a bucket list.

Without further ado, here's a little photographic journey and reflection of my bucket list. 


1. Go to Greece

2. Bike and ferry through the San Juan Islands 

3. Explore the Grand Canyon.   Hike!  Perhaps even raft down the Colorado River?!

4. Spend several weeks sailing around on a sailboat

5. Eat an exclusively raw food diet for an extended period of time

6. Write a beautiful poem

7. Write a book

8. Become a published author

9. See an on Broadway play
10. Learn tons of sing-along songs on to play the ukulele

11. Own a shiny black baby grand piano and fill the house with music

12. Attend multi-day hoop camp

13. Learn to fire hoop

14. Become a confident public speaker.  
  • I got lots of practice last summer.  I addressed an audience of approximately 130 people.  I didn't burst into tears or pass out.  I have a long way to go to before I can call myself confident or a decent public speaker but it's not feeling quite as petrifying as it once was.  I am volunteering to speak up more in staff meetings and other social situations.
My first public speaking setting at Hogwards School of Wizardry complete with floating chandeliers
Daughter shows me how easy it is to address an audience.
What a difference a microphone and better accoustics make!
15. Learn how to expertly apply makeup (esp. the “smokey eye”)

16. Take at least a year off from work to travel, explore and experience new things with my family.

17. Teach in another country

18. Learn to speak Spanish fluently

19. Go on a several day, multiple destinations, lots of miles “dream run” with my running friends.  Hear that folks?!  Let's go run, see amazing sights, eat,  drink, and laugh then wake up the next day and do it all over again.  No entry fees, space blankets, crowds, start or finish lines.  Just running for the sheer joy of it.

20. Run at least a marathon a year
  • Injury kept me from this one. I had a great year of triathlon and half marathon and ran a trail 50K!  Thinking of registering for a marathon this year but also wondering if this is still something that I want.  See next item, "that's" what I want so bad I can taste it. 
21. Run a sub-4 hour marathon.  
  • 4:05 at Eugene 2011! SO friggin' close!  My half marathon time got so much better, surely I can run a sub 4.  Perhaps I could even qualify for Boston?  Shhhhh... 
  √ 22.  Become a fearless cycler.
  • I LOVE CYCLYING!!!! Top-speed blazing down a hill = 45 mph.  I rode my first century with biking buddy Janel last fall. SO, SO, SO fun! I am no longer paralyzed by the fear of being hit by a car, getting my wheel getting wedged into a railroad line, or being clipped in.  Cautious, yes.  Obsessively worried, no. 
Harvest Century October 20111
23. Learn to swim long distances in the open waters in a wetsuit
  • I adore open water swim!!!!  Pool swimming seems so dull now.  OOPS.  Sky over your head, 360 degree naturific panorama, limitless water surrounding you.  I love how tiny I am in comparison. So humbling and grounding to swim in open waters.
Swimming Waldo Lake September 2012
24. Complete a Half Ironman Triathlon
  • Registered, trained and traveled all the way to Boise, Idaho.  Mother Nature had something else in store for me.  I swam the full 1.2 mile distance.  Bike was shortened due to high winds and cold temperatures.  Ran the half marathon.  I still can't check it off the list.  Am looking for another opportunity for 2013.  Don't tell anyone, but I'm even considering going after a full Ironman.
Ironman Boise 70.3 2012

25. Own and drive a stylish convertible during the summer months

26. Organize and attend a destination family reunion

27. Watch a beautiful sunset, stay up all night and then watch the sunrise.

28. Be completely debt-free

29. Create a beautiful, comfortable, inviting home that reflects my interests and values
  • Painted our bedroom and have GORGEOUS new bedding and window treatments to match.  
  • Clearing out the clutter and things that no longer serve a purpose or bring us joy.
  • Have comfortable backyard perches, firepit, al fresco table and colorful flowers to enjoy.
  • LONNNNNNG way to go and many pins pinned on Pinterest. 

30. Plant a cutting garden to grow beautiful flowers nearly year round

31. Learn to surf
  • This one time at Surf Camp, I paddled out to the waves and surrendered to the power of the ocean.  I haven't been the same since.  Met a great friend who has become an awesome cycling companion.  I am now the owner of three surfboards, have an Ossie's Surf Shop license plate holder and attempt to surf or at least paddle out several times a year.  Stay stoked, dudes!
      Wondering how totally tubular it would be to surf somewhere warm that didn't require wetsuits.  Hawaii?  Mexico?  Surf's Up!
32. Host regular dinner parties where I cook with or for family and friends
  • We've hosted a several, non-formal events and a few kid-friendly events.  Lots of opportunity and ideas just need to carve out the time, commit, send out the invitations and have folks show up. 
33. Participate in a progressive dinner.

34. Ride a motorcycle

35. Write and send heartfelt letters to people I care about several times a year

36. Become a good decent backgammon player

37. Perfect Have a grand time singing my signature karaoke song to wow an audience

√ 38. Break some more rules

39. Learn to cook over a fire using a Dutch Oven 
  • I bought a dutch oven.  I pinned recipes.  Now I just need to put two and two together and procure some real food upon which to feast while camping
40. Swim with the dolphins

41. Snorkel in the Caribbean Sea

42. Spend a week at a health spa/resort exercising, meditating, eating healthy, getting massages, facials.

43. Learn to bake beautiful and delicious pies and/or tarts.
  • This weekend, my daughters and I baked our very first pie from SCRATCH!  We made the pie crust and everything!  My first thought was DAMN, that's a lot of butter!  My second thought was had I known baking a pie was that easy, I would've have done it a LONG time ago.  Notice that I edited my original bucket list item.  Who needs beautiful?  I'll settle for a flop-free, pie that made with the company of my sweet daughters.

44. Find a signature scent

45.  Fall in New England

46. Learn to arrange flowers.

√ 47. Dress in character and experience the Rocky Horror Picture Show
So much fun! I think we'll have to make it an annual tradition!
  48. Run a 50 K
  • Dang, that's a LONG way to run.  Recovery was a piece of cake and I didn't get injured training though.  So maybe those ultrarunners are on to something.

Arriving home after my McKenzie River Trail Run 50K
49. Acquire and learn to accessorize with jewelry, belts and purses.
  • I have the BEST belt (a painted leather job with a honkin' turquoise buckle that makes me feel like a super hero).  I searched for the perfect designer handbag for a year.  I finally took the plunge and ordered one last month.  It arrived yesterday.  It is beautiful and smells so GOOD I just want to bury my nose in it.  It has shiny hardware and it's own velvet storage bag.  FANCy!  I am still working on the fashion thing. 
50. Have a home that could comfortably accommodate large gatherings. 

51. Take my daughters to Disneyland
  • We just booked a trip!  We're going to Disneyland!!!
    •  √ 52. Sleep in a tree house.
    Our accommodations at Out and About Treesort.  Best family vacation ever!
53. Spend a week on a houseboat in Lake Tahoe, Lake Chelan or some other beautiful lake. 

54. Drive around the southwest to see National Forests, gorgeous rock formations and colors.

55. Spend a summer couple weeks living in a lake-side cabin away from all modern conveniences.  

56. Ride in a gondola, complete with romantic serenade, through Venice.

57. Have a cocktail and dinner in a swanky restaurant with dear childhood friend, Maria. 
  • FANTASTIC dinner at the coolist, Indian restaurant in hip North Portland area.  Meant the world to me to be able to catch up with this amazing friend.
58. Plan something fun and outrageous to do for Carissa and my 40th
  • Sweet friends took over on the planning part.  They went with my original vision of having a prom.  I have never attended one in high school and have always regretted it.  They created a night beyond my wildest dreams!  I have never had so much fun nor felt so much love in my entire life!  Thank you dear friends! 

With sister and BFF (aka witnesses to my life)

Old friends, new friends. So much fun!
Prom King and Queen for the night
 59. Find a comfortable and genuine place to be spiritually 
  • Attended a church that I thought might be "the one".  Felt like I would have gotten more enlightenment from an open water swim or trail run.  Perhaps I am not the organized religious type? 
60. Ice skate at the Rockefeller Center.

61. Go down a zipline.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Sufferfest AKA MRTR 50K Trail Run 2012

Magical McKenzie River Trail
First hour:
Whoa! Where is everyone going?  Why so fast?  What's the rush?  Don't they know about the bottle necks, the hills, pacing themselves?  They'll be sooooooooorry!  I will catch up with them.  I will pass them.  They will curse themselves for going out too fast. 

HEART PALPITATIONS!  Short of breath.  Step off the trail.  Please don't let me pass out and go home in an ambulance.  I'm too young to DIE!  Breathe. Breathe.  Brrrrrrrrrrreathe.  It's your heart murmur.  Your heart will remember how to beat.  Your lungs will fill with air again.  You. Are. Fine.

I'm running again.  I have no business running this race on such limited training.  Sure, I got my long runs in, but I neglected my speed work, hill work, trail work and any semblance of a consistent training plan.  I was lucky to get three woggy (walk/jog) "runs" in a week.  Glance at Garmin.  I've only run 4 miles so far?!  This. Was. Going. To. Be. A. Long. Day.

Other than a guy in his 60s that's run this race 26 consecutive years (rock on!) and a couple chatty catty women behind me, I'm all alone.  Their conversation sounded more like one I'd hear from someone high school aged as opposed to from someone in my 40-45 year old age-group.  "She's not even that pretty."  "She just has lots of pretty friends.  They go out and she gets far more attention that she deserves."  Um, really?  Wow.  As if my run wasn't bad enough, I had to listen to this drivel?

Second hour:
My race goals:
1. Do not get stung by a BEE!
2.  Do not fall.
3.   Have fun.
4.  Finish race (preferably in between six and seven hours).

These all seem like rather lofty goals now.  I was still waiting to loosen up and find my rhythm.  Usually things started clicking after mile 4, definitely no later than mile 8.  No such luck today.  This was work.  I was having one of my crappy, this-run-sucks-ass-moments.  Get me to an aide station.  I want a cookie.  I've only gone 10 miles?!  21 more to go!!!  Is there possibly any way I could finish this race?

Why do I feel compelled to do these crazy things?  Why can't a be a normal person? I loved training on these trails.  Couldn't that be enough?  Why race?  Why pay to suffer?  *World's smallest violin singing a sad, sad, song* My suffering was so palatable, I couldn't even appreciate the natural beauty.

Lava Field (photo courtesy of Laura McClain)
Third hour:
I'm in bee territory admist the sneaky rocks that trip runners, make them bleed, require stitches and get terrible scars.  Had to pee.  Didn't want to step off the trail onto a bee nest.  Held it.

I'm running. I'm running.  I'm running.  I'm running. I'm running.

Eyes peeled.  No bees sighted, but I was 99.9% sure I could hear those evil little buggers.  Next aide station at mile 14.5.  I was having such a long miserable day.  My IT hurt.  It took so much effort to run.  I was ready to call it a day.  I think I'll pull out of the race, have someone drive me back to my car and go home.  I have better things to do with my time.  Aid station volunteers, trail angels warmly greet me.  They lie tell me I look great, strong.  I'm not dirty like the other runners and geez, did I have cute hair!  They filled my hydration pack and fed me Bugles, melon and oranges.  They were so kind. I guess I'd keep going.  For now.

*Singing Bob Marley*
My feet is my only carriage
So I've got to push on through
But while I'm gone...

Everything's gonna be alright
Ev'rything's gonna be alright
Ev'rything's gonna be alright
Ev'rything's gonna be alright
Ev'rything's gonna be alright
Ev'rything's gonna be alright
Ev'rything's gonna be alright
Ev'rything's gonna be alright

No woman, no cry
No, no woman, no woman, no cry
Oh, little sister, don't she'd no tears
No woman, no cry

Blue Pool really is that blue

Sahalie or Koosa Falls. Both ridiculously beautiful.
Fourth hour:
Can't believe I was so close to DNFing!  What the heck was I thinking?  That would mean I would have to train ALL over again.  Enter the lottery and get my slot ALL over again.  And RUN all over again.  Let's do this! Let's git 'er done so I never, ever have to do this ever again ever.  The hills and the highly technical portion of the trail were pretty much over.  I found my running rhythm.  I finally loosened up around mile 20.  I doused my head and washed my dusty face in the river.  I hadn't gotten stung by a bee (yet).  I hadn't fallen down (yet).  I hadn't had fun (yet).  I hadn't finished the race (yet) but  my resolve was renewed.  Only 11 more miles to go!  Was it possible?  Could I do this?  Would I finish?

Gnarly trail is like totally technical, dude.

Carmen Reservoir made me want to be out doing some open water swimming
Fifth hour:
I'm speeding up!  I'm passing people.  Someone called me "Speedy" as I ran past them up a hill.  SPPEEDY! Me!  By golly, I was running my first (and last!) 50K today!  Fellow runners sure look hot, sweaty and dirty.  "Why are you so clean?!" a fellow runner yelled at me as I passed her and a friend.  At this rate I was going to run my first negative split race.  Only 10K left!  I have eaten SEVEN packets of GU!  SEVEN!  I thought about my friends running ahead of me  and/or waiting at the finish line.  I thought about celebrating with them.  I thought about soaking my legs in the icy McKenzie River waters.  I was going to finish!

Amazingly awesome MRT training run with friend Laura

FREEZING. Foot cramp!
Sixth hour:
Some folks predicted that I'd finish the race in just under 6 hours.  Sounded frighteningly fast to me.  I didn't want the pressure.  I really hadn't trained for this thing.  It was my first 50K.  Any time would be a PR.  This was my litmus test for potential future feats of endurance.  Was I an ultra-runner?  Were 50 mile races in my future?  Perhaps even a 100K?  Would I sign up for an Ironman in November?  A resounding NO, NO, NO! echoed in my brain throughout those last three miles.

My endurance days were over.  My girls are young, but quickly growing.  It is time to support their athletic endeavors.  Swimming for one daughter.  Soccer for the other.  As a full-time working mom, I wanted to spend every non-working-waking moment with my sweet girls.  Then there's the fact that my house was a wreck.  My yard is a weedy, burnt-to-a-crisp jungle.  I used to have hobbies and free time.  I used to have a life!

Now I find myself registering, training, racing ad nausium.  This just isn't normal.  I could spend all that time and money doing other things like traveling, learning to play a musical instrument, learning to paddleboard, turning my house and yard into a places I actually want to spend time.  Only 5K left.  Then NO more races for me.  I was booking that family trip to Disneyland.  I was planning my 20th wedding anniversary trip to Hawaii for once and for all.

First grade teacher by day, soccer mom/swim lesson chauffeur/homework helper by evening, endurance warrior by weekend
6 hours 32 minutes:
I. Am. DONE!  50K in the books.  I never have to do that again. 

Running pal Laura and I after we stuffed our faces with burritos.
That's a wrap.
24 hours later:
I feel GREAT!  What's next?


The woods are lovely, dark and deep.   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

~Robert Frost

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Taking the Training Plan on the Road

Breathtaking view from my Bershire Hotel

What my training these last three months have lacked in consistency have made up for in variety!  It wasn't all heat, humidity and bonking. I had some amazing experiences. It took being at home to realize and appreciate them.  As Paul Theroux said, “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect.”

 Here’s a little photographic scrapbook highlighting some of my most memorable exercise experiences while on my east coast work-cation.

Running along the St. Charles Esplanade from Cambridge into Boston.   
Sights and sounds of the orchestra rehearsing for the July 4th Boston Pops.

 Swimming laps under a  blue sky in a hotel pool 
and then lounging with a good book.

 Encountering swan, deer and fawn on trail runs.

Ending a long run as the sunset transformed East Rock an exquisite shade of gold. 

 Getting caught running in a East Coast storm-- Warm air, huge raindrops falling from overflowing clouds, thunder and lightening.  

 Swimming in a the beautiful, warm Laurel Lake.

The view of New Haven from atop East Rock after a long grueling hill climb. 

Early morning hill repeats on streets lined with beautiful homes and buildings on the Yale Campus

Swimming a mile in the Long Island Sound.

 Diving into Yale’s freezing 50-meter pool on a particularly hot, humid day.

Running the longest I’ve run since an injury . 

Soaking in the New England views from the top of the Stone Tower of Sleeping Giant State Park.

Speedwork on a mini-track suspended from the seventh floor of the gym.

Reflections in the Mill River

Hiking a tiny piece of the Apalacian Trail with my family

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

Thursday, August 9, 2012

My Run From You-Know-Where

I have been surrounded by amazingly smart, dedicated young people on the other side of this country for the last seven weeks.  I was the crone of the crowd.   In an effort to not appear as old as dirt, I wore extra make-up and attempted to pick up the youthful vernacular which includes the overuse of certain words, phases and bizarre, grammatically incorrect punctuation.  My sincere apologies to my middle aged- English major friends.  I hope by writing this blog that I have gotten it out of my system and can return to my old (as in previous) self again.

I had the longest training run I've had in long time.  I’m seriously out of practice.  Once upon a time, I used to plan these twenty-plus mile suckers with NASA-like precision.  No more.  I reserve Type A fussing for triathlon.  So theoretically, I’m training for a 50K.  Only thing is, I’m 3,000 miles away from home on a work-cation with my family in Connecticut.  Have you ever been to CT in the summer?  It’s HOT.  It’s humid.  Imagine a full weight sleeping bag, soaked in water and put in a sauna.  Now put that over your head.  That’s what it feels like.

I'm living in a dorm room and eating all my meals at a dining hall.  I used to be gluten free.  That was too hard.  I lowered my standards and am now settling for glutton-free.  Whoa! I was talking about running, not food, right?  That’s what happens. Every. Single. Time.  I fill up on the good eats, develop a gut paunch (aka food baby). Then I can’t run.  I have to take naps instead.  I haven’t dared step on the scale.  I did go shopping for shorts at JCrew though.  Started off thinking my ass might squeeze into a size four.  Maybe two on a lucky day.  Nearly blew a head gasket out when I discovered that I was not only a zero, but a double zero!  Really, JCrew?  Your size deflation will not make up for your price inflation.  Who pays $48 for a pair of shorts?  Not, me!  I'll leave those super cute 00 shorts on the rack along with that overpriced skinny turquoise belt that made me all warm and fuzzy inside and goes with 70% of my wardrobe.  

Okay, so back to my running story.  Several months ago, when I was feeling all high and mighty, I registered for a 50K.  Do you know something?  A 50K is 31 (freakin') miles!  That’s a long way!  I’ve never run that far in. my. entire. life.  I know! Right?  I'm like “what “WUZ” she thinking?!”  Registering for a 50K, training all by herself, in a strange place, on the other side of the country, under a hot wet sleeping bag?  

Only time to get in a decent run without getting heat exhaustion is to run super early.  That brings me to my next challenge.  Coffee.  We don’t have a coffee pot in our dorm room!  I know, right?!  So guess what I have to do?  I have to wake up and walk to the Starbucks.  To make matters worse, SBux doesn’t open until 5:30!!! That’s not the worst part, either!  Apparently this SBux reserves the right to open anytime ten to thirty minutes after their posted time.  To make matters more complicated, they change those hours on a daily basis to keep you guessing.

But actually today, SBux's opening hours don't impact me.  I have already had my coffee, eaten my breakfast and taken my kids to summer camp.  By then, it was good and hot and humid for my run.  My plan:  I would run down a super long safe street from one town into another, hang a right and arrive at a tourist-worthy state park.  It would take me two hours to get there.  Then another two hours to get back.  Remember, I'm training for a 50K?  Ironically, this street is lined with not one, not two, not three, but FOUR cemeteries!  Wow!  Two of the said cemeteries lack sidewalks.  I had to run on. the. grass.  So here I am in Connecticut’s most haunted of cities, running alongside cemeteries trying not to turn an ankle because they don’t have SIDEWALKS, then... (Wait for it)...  I pass a FUNERAL PROCESSION!  Swear. To. God.  There were little black flags on the cars and everything.  So I’m like, what is the theme of my twenty-mile run today? 

I’m running by myself.  Well, me and my friend, iPhone.  (When I get lonely, I can check the Shuttle schedule, update my facebook status, snap pictures of “what an awesome time I’m having in CT”, or find out how far I’ve gone on my RunKeeper app (LIARS!).It doesn't take long for my fuel-belt water to reach boiling point and for me to realize that yes, I'll be needing a Gu after all.  I dodge into a Walgreens.  Folks in CT don’t seem to see red-faced, sweaty runners in skirts and clashing fuel belts wandering the air-conditioned aisles looking for Gu.  They gawk.  One mother actually pulled her child away from me when I walked down the aisle.  Just in case you were wondering, Walgreens does not carry Gu.  The next best thing was a squeezy foil package of mango/banana baby food.  Thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Everymom To Ironmom, I learned that this is a great substitute for a gel.  Woefully, I left the super air conditioned with my ice cold water, baby food and Cliff Bar and headed out for the remaining 17 miles of my run. 

I'm back out in the elements trying to suck up the fact that it's going to be a very hot, humid, slow, lonely run when I realize there's more to complain about.   I don't know how to put this delicately, but the east coast STINKS!  I don't mean that figuratively either.  It's a very cool place to work, experience and travel, but it smells.  Sure, it's full of historically significant places, yadda, yadda, yadda, but unless I'm walking by an ice cream store making waffle cones or a coffee house, it never smells good here.  I don’t know how to say this without offending all those charming, ever-so-friendly, hospitable, smart, worldly east coasters, but it smells like garbage and urine here.  It's a good thing that I mostly breathe through my mouth while shuffling under a wet sleeping bag.  

 I’m running in the smelly heat and humidity along a cemetery-and-gas station-lined safe road with my friend iPhone when I realize that I still have 5-1/2 miles before I get to my half-way point!  Then I get to run ten miles back “home”.  I rally the troops.  I zip into an air-conditioned convenience store and buy a bottle of Poweraid.  This place is the best.   It has a sink right up front for me to rinse out my fuel belt bottles and make my diluted water/PowerAde concoction.  I get curious glances from fellow customers.  Most of them are there to buy lotto tickets and are too absorbed with their scratch-its to gawk at me.  I.  Will. Not. Stop. Again.  Well, at least not until I reach my destination “Sleeping Giant State Park”.

This would be my second trip to this park.   I would actually get to do some trail running since I was running further today.  I was really looking forward to it.  Last time, I never actually saw the “Sleeping Giant”.  While I was there, I thought about asking the park rangers where he was, but was too shy.  Today I’m thankful for my socially awkward ways.  It turns out I was standing ON the Sleeping Giant’s hip when I almost asked where he was.  From three miles away, I can clearly see the Sleeping Giant. He’s this big guy lying on his back with chin and feet jutting out of the sky.  He looks like this (O----0-----o).  He’s really a sight to behold, especially after you’ve seen nothing but gas stations, cemeteries and your iPhone for the last 8-1/2 miles.

With Sleeping Giant in my sight, my resolve is renewed.  I will run. Well, I’ll at least jog.  Okay, I’ll wog, until I get to him.  Then I’ll go further!  I will climb 1.6 miles up the Tower Path until I reach the tower which will (on a clear day) reward me with good views and photographic opportunities and most importantly, a worthy Facebook check-in.  As I run, I keep hearing Robin William’s voice yelling “Gooooooooood moooooooooorning Vietnam!  How’s the weather?  It’s hot.  It’s hot and wet.  Good when you’re with a lady but bad in the jungle.”  WORD!  I run straight to the water pump, turn it on and proceed to douse myself in it and gulp it down.  It. Was. AWESOME!  Water never tasted, nor felt so good before.  I grabbed a map, munched on a Cliff Bar, checked my e-mail, distance/time covered and the weather report (82 degrees and 86% humidity?!).

I decided that in this insane weather, I would just hoof it up to the Tower rather than kill myself trying to run the blasted thing.  Running in CT is like running at high elevation.  It sucks.  Heart rate spikes, huffing and puffing ensue, you run hella slow and feel dead tired.  I am OVERJOYED when I can get my pace to sub-11 minute miles and not totally disheartened when I can break 13-minute miles.  “Every day I’m Shufflin" is my mantra and theme song.  I’m not too proud to walk.  I have nothing to prove.  

It was a real pretty hike, I mean, run.  Still, if the view from the top was anything short of spectacular, I was going to feel ripped off.  I might have to call a taxi to take me home.  I needed a good view, photo ops, some baby food and maybe another frolic under the water pump to get me through the ten miles back home.  Suddenly I am at the base of an amazing stone tower jutting from the middle of the Sleeping Giant! Up the four flights of ramps I went to the tippy top where I had the most amazing 360-degree panoramic view.  There’s no way to describe what I saw so I’ll just show you a video clip and some pictures that I took. 

My mini movie. WATCH IT to experience the amazing panorama!

In a nutshell, Sleeping Giant is one of the area’s most recognizable and eye catching landmarks.  Native American artifacts indicate that original inhabitants of this area hunted on the Sleeping Giant for thousands of years before the English colonists came.  Natives considered it a place where spirits dwell.  Legend has it that the Great Spirit cast a spell on the giant which forced him to sleep for eternity.  In the 1920s, folks started quarrying Sleeping Giant’s head and almost woke him up!  Fortunately, SGPA stopped the destruction, prevented the Sleeping Giant from being awoken and thereby prevented local inhabitants from being cursed with bad luck and forever haunted by bad spirits.

Gorgeous east coast trails

 Stone Tower, an observation tower was built on the giant’s left hip in the 1930s.

My photo op. I look so hot, tired and grumpy.
All downhill from here! 

Revived, rejuvenated and more smarter about the area’s history, geography and culture, I descended the Tower Path, doused myself in water and proceeded to run ten miles “home”.  It was hot(ter).  Determination.  I would finish this run but it would not be pretty.  I stopped at a park and sucked down my baby food.  It turned me into a baby.  I wanted to cry and stamp my foot in frustration at this hot, humid, smelly, solo-running business.  WHY did I sign up for this race?  I used every trick in the book to get myself home.   I took walk breaks.  I nibbled my Cliff Bar.  I drank water.  I imagined licking the salt rims off margarita glasses.  I ran mile by mile.  When that was too much, I ran stop light to stop light.  When that was too much, I ran shady spot to shady spot.  Then my stomach started heading south.  Next thing I know, I've gone from feeling hot and sweaty to feeling cold and clammy.  I. Was. Bonking.  
Tasty! Think I've found a Gu alternative
Four miles away from “home”, I stopped at my gas station to buy cold water and wash and refill my sticky bottles.  I am not a sweater.  I don’t mean a cardigan or cable knit either.  My pores do not leak precious fluid on the west coast.  Here on the east coast, it’s another story.  I sweat.  We’re not just talking beads on my forehead and under the pits;  I sweat everywhere.  Today that sweat was salty.  What I really needed was an S-Cap or some Lays Potato Chips.  I knew what I needed but since I was only four miles away from being done I would just "suck it up, buttercup!"  Then I started to cramp.  I had been running in the heat for almost four hours.  Stubborn, determined, hard-headed and eager to make good on my facebook claim,  I somehow managed to run 20 miles that morning/afternoon. *the crowd roars!*

Once I got "home", I ate a rootbeer cupcake, banana and can of nuts.  CALORIES!  Then guzzled down water.  PARCHED!  Then I took my ice-shower.  Huh?  When one doesn’t have the luxury of sitting in a tub of ice water because one lives in a dorm room with a detached tubless restroom, one must take ice showers.  They look something like this: Get naked. Turn shower on cold.  Step in.  Stand under cold stream.  Collapse onto tiled floor in stall.  Prop legs on wall.  Let cold water "ice" legs.  Rotate as needed.  While you're at it, wash hair and salty encrusted face and bod.  Stand up, bend over and let the cold water have it's way with your backside.  There you have it, a proper ice shower!

After my ice shower, I fall into a fitful sleep.  When I awake, I wander over to the dining hall for my "recovery meal".  BEHOLD! 

 Fried chicken, mac 'n cheese, french fries, caprese salad,collard greens, Coke, apple-pie and cookie dough ice cream.
This meal was the best part of my run!  No, wait a minute, the Tower Trail summit was the best part of this run.  NO!  The fact that I stuck out a ridiculously hard, hot, lonely run on sheer grit and willpower was the best part of this run.  By golly, I believed I could and I did!  Let this be a lesson to others.  It doesn't have to be pretty.  It doesn't have to be fast.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Just get out there and do it!  You will be stronger mentally and physically as result. 

I love this picture and quote.