July 28, 2014


Yesterday, on a lark, mom offered to drive my niece up to San Francisco to join me for lunch today if I could fit it in my schedule.  What a treat!  (They live 3 hours away.)

I accepted immediately and rescheduled my client commitments for the day.  I wanted to pick something that would be a fun memory for everyone, so I opted for McCormick and Kuleto's, with its excellent views of aquatic park and Alcatraz from Ghiradelli square.  I hadn't been there in 10 years or so, but the views from GS are always great and I'm a big fan of McCormick and Schmicks, so I knew the food would be good.

I arrived on time, but mom texted that she and niece were running a little bit late. (Not a huge surprise, if you know my mom.  Obviously, an unscheduled costco stop was in order on the drive.)

I was starving, and certain their estimated delay was not correct, so I ordered an appetizer and a beer at the bar.  I was very happy that they were making the majority of the effort to come to me, so I didn't want to be grumpy when they arrived.  My appetizer and beer did the trick.  An hour later, they walked in, hugged me, and the bartender (with whom I'd bonded over the last 60 minutes) demanded, "What took you so long?"

Mom, not to be stalled by anyone, animated in a way that I'm regularly shocked she can continue to maintain at this point in her life, demanded "This used to be Señor Pico, didn't it? I came here for my 21st birthday with my parents.  We sat at that table (pointing).  No wait, that one (pointing elsewhere).  Quite a bit has changed, but the windows are the same and these railings were there back then.  They had a drink that they were famous for, the potted parrot.  It was so ridiculous.  Your drink came with a ceramic parrot in it.  Do you know the history of this building???"

He just looked at me, amazed at the energy of my mother and smiled, "Enjoy your lunch."

I was so pleased to have picked a restaurant that had a memory for my mom.  Her parents both died relatively young, as did her brother, so there hasn't been much joint reminiscing at family gatherings like there is for my father's family, which is huge, mainly still alive, and very close.  I'd never heard this story.  I didn't know anything about her 21st birthday.  I loved hearing about what she'd done the night she'd legally turned 21 in her college town as well as the weekend afterwards with her parents.  Also, I love learning bits of Californian history.  I'm a multi-generational Californian and over the years, in the bay area, interacting with so many transplants, it's become quite a point of pride for me.  I love my state and I love to be knowledgeable about its geography and history, so this was yet another data point to file for future use.  In short, it was the perfect gift a mom could give her daughter. 

Mom, of course, proceeded to tell every worker at the restaurant we interacted with about her memory.  None of them knew the history of the building.  Until our server, that is.

Our server was *so* great.  He knew the Señor Pico past, and even knew about the potted parrot but he hadn't met anyone who'd ever had one (much less on their 21st birthday!).  He and mom traded excitement, which was so cool.  He was so honestly happy to meet someone who had actually had the kitschy drink, parrot and all.  She was just excited to interact with someone who knew what she was talking about.  Also, he knew that Señor Pico was owned by Trader Vic's at one point and volunteered that history as well, which, the Californian data nerd in me found very cool.

He also happily took our photo, advising on lighting and taking not one, not two, but four photos, with the last one being the best -- he obviously knows how to keep the tourists happy!

My niece commented that 4 generations of women in my mom's line had all dined in this building as of today -- such a cool observation, and it definitely made the day more special.

In short, today was one of the cooler gifts my mom has ever given me as an adult.  I'm very thankful.

July 27, 2014

Any Healthy Strong Finish Is a Good Finish

I didn't meet goal A or B today, but I heartily met goals C and D.

After I'd decided I was overheating and needed water, after the coach of our local running club ran ahead and bought me water at a Shell station around mile 8 in the full sun, and after I'd decided to succumb to as many 5 minute run intervals with as much walking as I needed to feel comfortable to finish for the last 3 miles, I found myself in the finish chute, at the end of the last 1.4 miles ran slowly, without a break, just happy to be finishing healthy.

Suddenly, a couple of hundred meters from the finish, the woman in front of me slowly splayed her arms, dropped her head back and started to dance.  But not in a good way.  She did a bit of an awkward grapevine, an uncomfortable almost drugged out airplane to each side, and was obviously loosing control of her gait.

Did I mention the direct sun in the Mission was much hotter than usual for this time of year in SF and I'd been seriously concerned about overheating due to my previous fever?

A guy ahead of me sweeped in and grabbed her right elbow.  Her ELBOW!  The rest of her body fell to the left, reaching for the barrier to keep her upright.  I sped up and dropped my arms under her armpits as she started to fall.

The guy looked at me and said, "Oh good" and ran off.  To give him the benefit of the doubt, I'm going to assume he thought I knew her.

I did not.

I wrapped her right arm around my neck and put my left arm under her left armpit.  She was jelly.

I asked her if she could take a deep breath.  She vaguely looked at me and then her eyes rolled back.  She was very pretty, but right now her lips were scary pink-white.  Someone in the crowd on the other side of the barrier asked her if she wanted water.  She opened her eyes and nodded.  The woman handed her the water bottle and she tried to drink.

The cap was on the bottle -- obviously, no water came out.  I realized I had a bottle (thanks to run coach), but I'd need to move my hands to open it, which would result in dropping her unless I could pull off some complicated maneuver my run-stupid brain couldn't figure out at the moment.

At this point, thankfully, a man behind the barrier yelled at me, "She needs to lay down."

Duh.  He was obviously right.  My runner instinct was to hold her up and hope she could recover.  I was coming in on a super slow race where I'd been very conservative, so I really didn't care about my time, but for some reason, I thought this woman might really care about crossing the finish line, and it was only 200m away.  With his words, I finally understood the seriousness of the situation.  I said, "I'm going to let you down to the ground now..."

She turned her pale white lips to me, and spoke emphatically for the first time, "No!"

I looked around.  My first thought was that if there was another runner willing to help we could help her over the finish line and she could get help there.  It was so close.

But no one else was coming near us.   Uhhhh.....The folks at the barrier motioned for help, and I recognized the intelligence of this option and waived my hands for help, too, struggling with the reality and trying to walk her a few steps forward at the same time.  I mean, I could see the dude with the microphone announcing all the finishing folks and he could see us.  It was SO CLOSE.

But, the microphone dude did not call for runner's aid from fellow runners, and finally, a woman in a yellow safety vest came over and walked behind us, placing both arms behind the jelly-lady's armpits as I had done when she was initially falling.  I looked at the woman, "You got her?"


I let go.

Then, I ran towards the finish line, seeing a wheelchair being rushed opposite me on the left towards my former charge.

Later, I learned that a friend was cheering loudly for me having seen me heading into the finish a few meters later.  But I didn't notice her at all.  She chalked it up to headphones, but I'd actually silenced them for the finish chute, I was just generally oblivious at this point.

I wasn't paying attention to the cheering of friends (but I did get to meet up with Jen afterwards for a very enjoyable catch-up session). 

For those 200m, I was thinking about how lucky I am.  How strong I was at the finish because of my support system, general luck, and my desire to live a balanced life.  How, when I caught her, I didn't have any concerns about how long I could hold her up -- I was just worried about her, nothing else.  Also, I was so stable.  And yet, I had been sick, with a fever before the race.  I had been worried about myself at the start and various points during, but I was still racing, albeit slowly/smartly.  I thought about the freakish need to use a port-a-loo to go pee (as opposed to dealing with GI issues) for the first time *ever* during a race because for once I was actually overhydrated.  I thought about asking my run coach to walk with me during her supposed pacing miles, admitting my overheating (the water support was terrible on today's race), and how she ran to the nearest Shell station and bought me water.  I thought about the decision to do 5 minute run intervals with as much walking as I needed after my local run coach left me on my last 3+ miles of the race today -- to finish strong, but smart.

And I couldn't help that all of this meant that I was in the right place at the right time.  I very much hope my catchee is okay.

I may not have met my A&B goals, but I feel *very* alive.  I am consistently impressed with the lessons that running teaches me.

I finished, strong.  In hindsight, my conservative goals meant that I was strong enough to catch a falling runner and hold her up for an indeterminate amount of time.  Goal C for the big human win!

In fact, I have a new Goal C.  If I'm honest, I'm not regularly in a place in my life or sports performance where it makes sense for me to be the falling runner.  In general, I want to finish strong enough to catch. 

Run Happy.

July 26, 2014

Things Get Serious Starting Tomorrow

I'm running the SFHM2 tomorrow for a total weekend mileage of 15ish and total weekly mileage around 33.

After that, the marathon schedule feels like *really* begins.  It calls for 10 weeks of rapidly increasing volume where the weekend total mileage builds and steps back every other week: 16, 20, 18, 23, 18, 25, 18, 26, 18, 14, race.

More importantly, the mid-week mileage starts to really grow as well.  By the end, in addition to the weekend stuff, I should be fitting in 3 medium length days and a weekly 10 mile tempo at target race pace on a work day (that should be exciting to juggle around).  Compared to what I have been doing, those numbers seem a bit impossible. 

So, I'm just going to focus on tomorrow, which is a bit of a crap shoot.  Training has been meh - 8 weeks since my last half with total mileage between 28-35 mpw, with the obvious outlier of 16 miles the week I dislocated my shoulder.  It sounds better than it is, though, because I've been letting myself walk whenever I've felt like it, and I've felt like it quite often.  Then, this week, I got a bit of a stomach bug and had to avoid training for 2 days while making sure my temperature didn't get too high and also making sure to replace fluids regularly. 

Every time I'm nauseated (which isn't that often), I always think of my poor Dad during chemo.  Going about your daily life without nausea is such a huge and wonderful blessing.  I seem to be recovered and I've been enjoying the bliss of an appetite and keeping good food down for almost 2 days now, so I'm hopeful there won't be any ill effects tomorrow, but you never know.    

My A goal is 2:10 (any 2:10:XX on the watch will make me very happy).  I think this is potentially doable but everything has to go just right. 

My B goal is to run my fastest half so far this year, so to beat 2:14:39.

My C goal is to finish strong and put in a performance I'm proud of.

My D goal, as always, is just to finish.

I know lots of folks who will be running tomorrow, and the coach of my running club is coming to pace me on miles 6.5 - 9.5, which should be a huge help.  I'm looking forward to a fun social day.


July 20, 2014

A Big Goodbye and A Busy Week

Today was the memorial service for a family friend.

I didn't know L well.  He was the oldest son of one of my dad's hunting buddies, approximately 15 years older than me, so when I met him as a kid, he was a pseudo-adult, even if Dad and his buddies treated him a bit like someone in-between childhood and adulthood.

He was a real honest-to-goodness cowboy.  My strongest visual memory of him is one I saw play out many a weekend early morning -- skinny legs in Levis tucked in cowboy boots vaulting into a Ford truckbed, being tasked by the older men with loading all the hunting supplies, working quickly and quietly between the excited dogs whose tails wagged incessantly.  His face was always partially hidden under his Stetson, but I can still see his grin. 

He died doing what he loved -- in an accident herding cattle on a ranch out in the Nevada desert.

E and I drove into my hometown the day before the memorial and I was shocked to be recognized on sight by a high school friend I hadn't seen in 20 years.  As the manager at the restaurant where we chose to have dinner, she totally hooked us up.

It threw me for a bit of a loop.  I don't feel like I belong in my childhood hometown anymore.  And yet, if you spent a long period of time somewhere, particularly your childhood, there are pieces of your history just lying in wait to snare you and remind you that you *do* belong there, somewhat.  It doesn't matter how long you've been gone.  Viscerally, I know this and had prepared myself to deal with it at the memorial.  But to have it happen at dinner, and to have such a strongly welcomed return to my childhood hometown from someone I hadn't seen in so long surprised me.  What surprised me more was how grateful I was.  I doubt A will ever know how much I appreciated her recognizing me and treating us with such warmth and kindness.

It rained on our drive to the memorial, which was held in what Dad would have thought was just about the best thing ever -- a fancy barn-themed outdoor event venue in the glorious wild nature of the California Sierra foothills.  I have no memories of rain in July in my hometown.  E, a southerner, was unfazed, but I couldn't help but assume that Dad, Papa, Gran, and L were pulling weather for us to keep it cool (either that or global warming was cooling my hometown's summers but increasing its humidity).

It was a bit of a family reunion as Brother went (with K).  And, Aunt B, Dad's youngest sister went too (alone).

Brother had hunted and spent time with L growing up and in his early adulthood, so he would have gone anyways.  But Aunt B and I (and by extension E) were really there as proxies for Dad.  L's dad, G, was one of Dad's best friends, and G's wife S is like a grandmother to the entire community that Dad lived in, so really, the event was a bit of a Dad's folks reunion.

I received many bear hugs as BigD's daughter -- again, a bigger homecoming than expected. 

I was rarely involved in the details of their relationship, but I know that G (L's dad) and BigD hunted and fished and shot the shit and drank beer in cans and complained about their difficult children and passed time together in a gorgeous brotherly love that makes me so happy to know BigD had such good, fulfilling friendships.  At the end, G drove BigD to untold numbers of chemotherapy and doctor appointments when BigD really shouldn't have been driving himself.  Between the two of them, there was no discussion, no ask for help, no accusation or admittance of weakness.  One day, G just said, "I'm going to drive you to all these appointments."  And that was that (and our family breathed a sigh of relief to be saved from the awkward, hard conversations that could have been).

As if that wasn't enough, L's younger brother T was somewhat of a surrogate older brother to Brother and due to the odd age split between generations also thought of Dad as his own surrogate older brother.  He'd been a rock to me when Dad had passed, and it was important to me to be there today to let him know that I didn't know exactly what he was going through, but that I supported him and cared about him and was there for him just as he had been for me.

And, of course, when there's an accidental death, they always need a lawyer.  So, as promised, my personal appearance made it clear that as Dad would have wanted and as I'd promised over the phone, my (limited PI) skills are on call for the family, should they need them, when dealing with the insurance madness.

After all of those heartfelt details, the reality of my week seems so mundane.

I ran (or walked, but mainly ran) 30.23 miles.  I did 9 long on Saturday and 6 in the heat on Sunday in my hometown and I'm ready for next weekend's half marathon (albeit slow).

Work was fairly crazy.  Notably, I closed a fairly big deal after 4+ hours of final in-person negotiation on Tuesday (1.5 hrs scheduled, but 4+ hours in a too-hot conference room where I sweated...).  After the fact, I received a picture of my client signing the deal and me in the background, looking on, shiny.  Thankfully, they were very happy with their outcome and I felt great for having helped them get there, even if I looked like I'd covered my face in olive oil before the photo.  

In an effort to be more balanced, I'd managed to talk E2 into joining me for a friends of the SF symphony concert and we enjoyed a Mozart piano quartet and Arensky piano trio on Wednesday before taking advantage of a friend's condo since it's high conference season and there's not a hotel room to be had in SF on short notice.  Both were unique arrangements, but more importantly, both confirmed that I love me some chamber music (and piano).

Our weekly BBQ was super small, maxing out at 5 or 6 attendees, including E & me.

Friday night, I babysat a friend's 4-yr-old and E showed up with the Wii for 30 minutes of (parent approved) videogame time before his bedtime.  Yeah, that's right.  We're the best, favorite babysitters ever.

While this week was typically busy, the biggest change in my life this last year is literary.  I'm now committed to reading and listening to audiobooks much more than I used to be (when it was simply a hobby) because I've realized they give my life meaning and purpose.  I feel more alive when I commit to books.  This week is no different.  In addition to my ordinary audiobook and book club fare, I ripped through Gone Feral, which, in hindsight, was a great preparation to the memorial service today.  Modern day cowboys or men who choose to try to live off the land today are *very* *very* complex.

Also, after today, I'm feeling very mortal.  I get this way, occasionally.  More often than most, but I think it's healthy.  Today I saw friends of Dad, who've survived him, I saw Brother, who, as always continues to inspire me with his amazing outlook on life post-injury, I saw contemporaries of mine from grade-school who've visibly aged so much it made me realize that I too must have aged that much, and I saw friends of Dad's who are obviously ailing, headed his way, as much as it hurts to admit that reality.  I saw life, raw, and wonderful, full of love for a lost member of the tribe.  And I was honored to be there.

And towards that end, I think if I'm honest with myself, just training for and finishing the Chicago and New York Marathons is an accomplishment in and of itself.  One worth celebrating.  I've spent a few years chasing times and PRs and I've had some success, but lately, I've been struggling with the high effort that PRs and impressive (for me) performances require. I've gained weight.  My life has not allowed for ideal training.  And yet, I've kept on.  I think, after today, that's the thing about myself I'm most proud of.  I keep plodding on in the direction of the things I believe in, regardless of the pace.  And I intend to continue to do so.  Assuming nothing goes horribly wrong, I'm going to finish 2 of the major world marathons this year!  If I'm lucky enough to be healthy enough and in a situation where I can train hard and perform well, that would be wonderful.  But truly, just being able to run (or walk) on any day is such a blessing, and I want to be sure to enjoy it to its fullest.

July 13, 2014

I Want To Go Everywhere

And, it would seem I have a huge bit of work to do, even if we limit it to Earth:

If the random Interweb-based image creator is to be believed, I've visited 31 states (13.7%) (Not sure why I'm getting no credit for Canada, although by area, I really haven't seen most of it outside of Vancouver)

In other news, I had a decent running week.  Nothing awesome unless of course you take into account that consistent decent running when you're pushing the beginning of your 4th decade is awesome, regardless of how slow...

In fact, last week I picked up a new client where there was someone who wanted to bond over running, but apparently he'd been in contention for the US olympic team in his youth... I felt horrid, because truly, I have nothing to add or relate to on that topic.  I could not really bond with him at his level if he wanted to chat pushing the line on running.  As he surmised from my blog, I run, or as he probably thinks of it, I jog.  But I'm honest - I'm a true recreational runner. I've never been an elite and I'm guessing that my aged, heavy, super-short body isn't going to magically become something that allows me to relate on the topic of elite running as an individual.  But, if you want to chat stats and talk about impressive performances of Americans on the track or road?  Oh, yeah, I've become a Nerds' nerd on these topics.  (In other news, did I mention how much I love that the World Cup coverage published running total distance numbers for each sub? Yes!).

So, the decent running week:  35.29 total miles.  Many walking.  Not much worth writing home about but a decent 12-miler today -- first 6 miles averaging low 10s, then the remainder, just to get it done for a final average/mile of 11:47.  Happy.  If a bit scared for what the marathon will turn out to be.

Have a great week, friends!

July 12, 2014

More Than Half

I've been meaning to do this for a long time...

It never really reached any true level of importance, but I'm on a strict no work Saturday regime and I left E at a party a couple of hours ago.  Which means I've been piddling my time away on the Internet however I please.  And here I am.

I wasn't sure if I'd actually been to more than half of the US states, but, after compiling a list, it looks like I've just squeaked by. Unsurprisingly, my west coast bias is strong.  Also, you can pretty much blame E for almost the entire south.

visited 27 states (54%)

I'm not in any hurry, but one day, I would like to cross off all 50 states.

July 6, 2014

Sometimes, You Are Not In Charge

Actually, the fact that you (as in me, you, her, him, etc.) are not in charge is true almost all the time (if my friends, family, literature, and history are to be believed).

But me, I'm a rebel. I still like to do what I can to pretend like I'm in charge of my life.

This week, I ran the Peachtree Road Race for the second time. I hoped to see famous people like Des Linden or Lauren Fleshman at the elites' tent after the race or perhaps see Meb as he passed the masses. But, nope -- the elites were done before I was even at cardiac hill and Meb didn't start 'til I was  almost done.

But I still had a great race (so much fun to take part in one of the largest American road races on 4th of July) and it was the most temperate, pleasant Peachtree that's happened in a long time, so that was super cool (as was hard-to-argue-with cool that my husband ran with his dad, who ran by multiple friends along the course who've been there over the years in his 1984 commemorative shirt.  Someone offered to buy it off him at any price, but he said, "There's no price...")

Not sufficient to show scale of number of partipants, piedmont park at the finish, etc.  So great!

After the race, we got on the road to head up to E's family's lake house, where they host an awesome party to enjoy the fireworks display over the lake every year.

Several times a year, we go to visit my in-laws, and it turns out, my husband's mother suffers from a similar malady as me vis-a-vis wanting to be in control.  YIKES!  She *really* likes to be in charge when it comes to social details like schedules, food, sleeping arrangements, etc.  And, since we're often on her home turf, by default, she just wins.  This is regularly difficult for me.   It's not even like she and I are competing for being in charge (which I wouldn't want to do).  It's just very clear that the order of decision making in the house when we are visiting goes from Grandma to PopPop to the grand-daughter (our niece), to my sister in law, to a messy amalgation of me, E and the brother-in-law, should any of us feel the need to assert ourselves.  Now mind you, this is the South.  They are such perfect hosts that the need to assert yourself rarely arises.  Also, they completely respect and understand that I often need to excuse myself at odd hours to work, work-out, or do anything else I may indicate.  Essentially, I won the in-law lottery, but it's still hard to be on someone else's schedule.

So, imagine my surprise this trip when, for the second time in my life after having reconstructive shoulder surgery, I dislocated my shoulder.  If there is something that makes you feel completely *not* in control and out of your element, even an in-law element, it is sudden lack of control of your body (especially after trash-talking the other poor-performing flippers...).  And there I was, experiencing it.  For the second time.  On my husband's family's home turf.  Thanks Universe.  I get it.  I'm not in charge.  Message received.

So, yeah, there was a lower mileage week than planned.  (Turns out, even if your sister-in-law relocates your shoulder in less than a minute, you will still need to rest and ice for several days.)

Total miles:  16.4.  Total percentage miles faster than 10 min/mile:  46% (target 20%).  Essentially, other than the 10K, I did very little.  I fit in a treadmill workout with a warm-up, cool down, and 10X1 min @ 8:30, and a couple of shorter easy runs to acclimatize to the heat before the race.  But nothing impressive.  And at least 20% of the blame lies with my treachorous shoulder.

So, this week's take home is to remember that I'm not in charge.  I live my life as if this is not true.  But I do know it.  Fundamentally.  At my core.  So, I guess the big question is whether this knowledge matters, and if so, what I should do about it...