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