Today’s Race.

This morning, Austin hosted its marathon and a half-marathon.  A few weeks ago, at the request of a friend, I signed up to run the marathon.  That friend had indicated she wanted to run the first half “easy” and that I should run it with her. I agreed and then a week later learned that her idea of “easy” is lightning fast for me. Knowing I was untrained for a full and would likely be running solo even for much of the first half, I geared up in my own head to run the half marathon instead of the full marathon. I almost didn’t run at all, but I had paid, so I set out to get something for my money.

This morning, my lightning fast friend and I started together, and sure enough I lost her before we hit the third mile marker.  So I ran my own race and was feeling pretty good.  I was fairly ready for the half given my consistent 5 and 7 mile runs in recent weeks and the confidence-building 10 miler I ran last weekend.
But then I ran into trouble in my head. As I approached the point between miles 10 and 11 where marathoners went left and half-marathoners went right, I struggled with the knowledge that my race bib indicated I was running the full.  If I ran the half, I would not “finish” my race. I would finish the half, but the half was not my race. I would be doing less than I signed up to do, and I would be choosing the easy way out. Though I know that running a half marathon is a wonderful accomplishment, it would not have been so for me today. I would not have been proud of myself. I would have felt like a quitter, and I didn’t want to be a quitter, at least not without permission.
I solved the dilemma as I often do – through a game of chance.  I decided that I would run the full unless I saw my friend who has been coaching me lately.  She lives near the point where the full splits from the half, so I decided that if she was out there cheering, I could ask her for assurance that doing the half was not a terrible idea, given this stage in my training, and wouldn’t make me a failure on any level.  She would have given me that assurance, I’m sure.  But she wasn’t out there. So left I went to face the next 15 miles.
I had done my 10-miler last weekend.  Before that, I hadn’t run more than 10 miles since the New York City Marathon in 2010.  Going from 10 miles to 26.2 miles was a ridiculous thing to try.  But as my favorite sign out there today said, “Any idiot can run. It takes a special kind of idiot to run a marathon.”
I’ve always been a little leftward-leaning anyway.

Happy Almost Valentine’s Day

This evening, I attended a Re-Story Circle hosted by my friend and guide, Jeanne Guy.  Her circles are gatherings that invite the possibility of re-storying your life through writing.  

Tonight’s circle was incredibly special because we had a guest poet – Debra Winegarten, author of There’s Jews in Texas? She read some of her poetry. We listened, wrote, talked, and laughed. Some of us even cried.

We have a couple of strict rules where Re-Story Circles are concerned. Paraphrased, they are:

(1) Trust that everyone has their own wisdom in them; and
(2) Mum’s the word.

As a result, I can’t get into the details of the conversation, but I can say that I left a fan of Debra Winegarten. I also left inspired to face a new tomorrow and eager to make something good out of everything, even the really hard stuff.

Higher than the clouds.

No, I’m not smoking anything. I’m flying. Literally, I’m flying from Seattle to Austin, looking down on the clouds every once in a while. (I have a window seat, but I get nauseous easily, so I keep the looking to a minimum.) I’m not sure when the world became a place where I could journey across the country over the clouds and be logged onto the Internet working on a thing called a blog.  But here I am, writing and posting from darn near the heavens.

I spent Super Bowl weekend in Portland. After a hectic week at work, I managed to hop a Friday night flight to arrive to perhaps my new favorite city. I love much about Portland, but one of my favorite things is that life here takes on a different pace. In Austin, I am scheduled and committed and busy and stressed. In Portland, I simply am.

On Saturday, I slept in and then went on my favorite mountain run with Erin. It’s roughly a seven mile run to the top of Mt. Tabor where we get to enjoy a beautiful view of the city before running the much easier downhill back. The rest of the day consisted of breakfast, a walk, some time reading, dinner at my favorite little diner, and then a movie at home. Sunday was much of the same. We ran Mt. Tabor again, mostly because I felt the mountain had won the day before and I needed another try. Then we had breakfast, made a quick trip to the bike shop, went for a walk, and then settled in to watch the Super Bowl and my most favorite show, The Voice.  We did plenty, but, except for the Super Bowl, none of it was scheduled, and every bit of it was restful.

I don’t know why it’s so hard to be restful at home.  Maybe it’s the laundry and the piles of clutter that need handling. Maybe it’s having all my family and friends around and wanting to see them all.  Maybe it’s the constant presence of work and all the little details that need care and follow through.  I’m sure it has something to do with my never ending to-do list, which currently spans two pages. At home, it’s rare that I have an unscheduled weekend. But in Portland, it’s rare that my time is scheduled. And I love that.

I know the unscheduled nature of my time has less to do with Portland and more to do with just being away from my usual environment.  But I have to say, whether it’s in Portland or somewhere else, unscheduled time feels a whole lot like heaven.