Tag Archives: running

Persephone finally digs herself out

26 Apr
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Cellar hole, South Kingston land trust trail, January 2015

I realize I haven’t written here since December. I have had many adventures this winter in which I shoveled snow, shoveled more snow, ran in snow, worried about ice dams and the weight of snow on the barn’s roof, slipped and fallen in snow, and driven in snow. The snow didn’t stop until… well, we had a few flakes last week, and it’s April.

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…and then the snow came, in February.

But it *really* stopped in March. And although I did get out there and run in the stuff, I slowed down some this winter.

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A beautiful winter run in Canonchet preserve. Farm field and woods. January 2015

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Curious monkey with Mister Monkey, coldest run ever. 2015.

Part of it was that I did not have a specific race I was training for. Despite my perhaps overly-ambitious plan to run the 80 mile North South Trail in June, I didn’t have any marathons on the calendar. I signed up for the Quonset Point half marathon because it was cheap and it was going to happen on my birthday. For the most part, Tom and I spent our winter hibernating, and running some.

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Farm scene, Kenyon village, February 2015

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Headstone, Kenyon village, February 2015

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Monkey done. No more snow, please.

Around mid-March, we learned that my Dad was not doing well, and so I made plans to get to North Carolina. We all scrambled to get there. My Dad’s reputation of being hardy and history of bouncing back made me slightly doubtful of all of the hubbub, but then I got a second call that my plans better be firm. I flew in on Wednesday, March 25th. In some ways, it was like a reunion, because all of his kids were there. We got to spend three long days talking, singing Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel (badly), and eating my mom’s wonderful dinners. My Dad, Bill Janes, died on Saturday morning, March 28th.

My Dad.

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Two artists sketching. Christmas 2014.

I could wax poetic about my father, what he did, what he meant to us, what he MEANS to me, how fair and wise he was, how giving and courageous and curious he was (he put the curious in Curious Monkey) and what a lover of justice, the environment, and family he was. He has many fans. I’m not sure I have the words. He was just a really cool guy. He was tough when he needed to be. He liked to hike and run. He loved being outside. He loved his kids and grandkids. And his dogs. He loved to eat. He loved my mom.

The day he died, we were all there. He was home. It was sweet and sad.

After being pretty much cooped up in the house for three days, we all kind of burst forth into this sunny day. I took my rental car and went for a run in Blue Walls Preserve.

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It was hard. Lots of climbing. But it was beautiful and that’s what my dad would have done, if it were him in my running shoes.

He left a wonderful legacy, and he also left us all with a tremendous chest cold. I spent the next three weeks with the worst cold I have had in years. I am still not over the cough.

A week after he died, my grand-niece Diana was born. I still haven’t seen her because of my cold. I intend to make a trail animal out of that kid. Lily and Jake are great parents so far and I am so proud of them.

When I say I didn’t make plans this winter, I was a little bit lying. I DID put myself on two waiting lists for trail races. Right around the time that Dad died, I found out I was going to be running both the TARC (Trail Animals Running Club) Spring Classic Trail 50K, and the 21 mile Wapack and Back (without the “and back.”) I was happy, because it meant I finally had a goal, but I couldn’t seriously train until the cold let up. Maybe the cold was a physical way to grieve. I don’t know. I did get on the bike one or two days. And out on the road I went. Eight miles here, three miles there. The week I got back, my good friend Georgia got me out for a 24 miler on the East Bay Bike Path. It was a glorious sunny day, with a high wind. The birds were singing. I thought about Bill, and had a moment where I fell apart. Like a passing shower, I recovered quickly. Just one little bird did it.

Then, on April 12th, I ran the Quonset Half Marathon put on by Ocean State Multisports for my birthday. It was a great day and I felt strong despite the chest congestion and coughing. I finished in two hours, and of course, had wonderful birthday cake that evening to celebrate. The following weekend, my friend Georgia invited me to run the More Half Marathon in New York City with her. My friend Bonnie from work loaned me a RISD Road Kill jersey, which I wore to both half marathons.

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Georgia and I had a great time in the city. I saw my childhood friend MLE in Brooklyn. We had dinner and many smootchie moments. She was a little bit Janes kid growing up and so it was nice to celebrate Bill’s life with her. The next day, I ran central park. And once again, coming up over a hill and seeing the dogwood in bloom, I had a passing shower moment. Just utter, gut crunching sadness that passed almost as soon as it came.

Since I was running for Georgia’s daughter, who had hurt her knee, we kept the pace light, and even ran with Ang the last mile. We finished in 2:14.

Going from a season of “signed up for nothing” to race almost every weekend, yesterday I did the TARC Spring Classic 50K. This endurance run takes place in Weston, Massachussetts. Tom and I had been here before when volunteering for the TARC 50 and 100 miler, a few years ago. We arrived bright and early, and dragged my gear from the car to the fenceline by the horse area. I wasn’t nervous. I have gotten my share in of longer trail runs and like I said, I wasn’t afraid to get out and run in the snow. But I hadn’t run all week due to a little pain in my hamstring. The day before, I had ridden 41 miles on the road bike, hoping that would give me some warm up for the owie hamstring and serve as my “back to back” endurance effort I needed in preparation for the North South Trail in June. I had a goal time of six hours, thirty minutes. It was about 40 degrees at the start, a bright sunny day promising temps in the 50s by the afternoon. I was a little over-dressed to start with, and didn’t know too many of the other runners. I did get to meet a woman from TARC who deals with their merchandise. She was super friendly and helpful, and I couldn’t help but buy a TARC jacket. I went out on lap one wearing the jacket. It would come off by lap two.

First lap, I went out conservatively, in the herd, running slowly, stopping occasionally when everyone else ahead of me stopped. Things thinned out about mile two. The course was delightful. Not a lot of rocks and roots, like Rhode Island, but a lot of leafy lanes and doubletrack. Some good hills. A lot of turns, all well marked. TARC puts on a good race. As I came in from lap one, I knew I needed to take off some clothes, and maybe fix a bunched sock. So I did that, and ate, and went to the porto-let, and all in all spent far too much time at the snack table.

 

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TARC Spring classic trail map

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TARC Spring classic, in my head.

 

Second lap was hard. I was alone, having lost a buddy who had been chatting with me and telling me stories. I was mostly alone, and failed to recognize where I was, so everything seemed longer. I knew from the first lap that there was this last.   left.   turn.  It came right before the finish, and it was followed by a little climb, a drop, and then an exit onto doubletrack that led straight to the finish line. I could not wait for that left turn. Where is it? Maybe I went the wrong way. Come on. Where’s that turn. Where’s that f**king last left turn??? A right turn. Another right turn. A long straightaway… some singletrack with some stones, rocky, rooty, muddy, hop a creek, another right turn. Another straightaway. And finally… The Last F**king Left Turn.

Third lap, back out. I took less time at the aid station. Time was cooking. I got in to a groove, and reconnected with my buddy Pete. Pete was from Massachusetts and works as an IT guy, and comes from a big family. His sister is an artist. Hearing all of these stories, lap three really flew by.

Lap four, I lost Pete, and was on my own again. But there was a group of marathoners who were finishing up their last lap, and they were having a trail party. They sat on my heel, which was fine, entertaining me with their talk. I kept my pace even and tried not to think too hard about my hamstring. I caught up with Pete at the end of this loop.

My fifth and final lap, Pete and I agreed to stick together to make it more bearable. Everyone was tired. The half marathoners and marathoners were for the most part done, so it was quieter out on the trails. We ran with Brenda, a Trail Animals regular, and she kept us talking and alert throughout. Tradition dictated I “say goodbye” to different trail features as it would be the last time I would be seeing them (until next year.) Goodbye steep hill. Goodbye lovely farm. Goodbye ferny glade. GOODBYE LAST F**KING LEFT TURN. I didn’t think about my dad during the race. Each of my loops was maddeningly consistent: 1:15 with 2-5 minutes at the aid station. I finished with a time of seven hours.

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Finish line, 2015 TARC Spring classic. Smiling because done.

I hugged Brenda and Pete, and then invaded the aid station. M&Ms, oreos, fig newtons, cheetoes, leftover potatoes, corn chips, half an apple, an orange, a snack bar, two cups of straight coca cola. The last of the runners were coming in, and we cheered for them. The two guys in kilts. The determined last runner. We all sat or stood around, on tarps, in chairs, or changing to fresh clothes. Finally, Tom and I decided to hit the road.

As we pulled up Bell Schoolhouse Road, Tom pointed out the great blue heron alighting from a pine tree at the base of the hill. Suddenly, the seven hour day gave way and I choked on a sob, and had another passing shower where I was filled with such loss and sadness that my Dad was gone, and I would never see him again.

It was over before it started. Winter seems endless. We await that final F**king left turn. A bird takes off. Something pushes through the earth and blooms.

 

The Portland Marathon: Part II – 26.2 up (and down) the Willamette

15 Oct

Portland was my third marathon in 2014. After last Fall’s Baystate Marathon, I had changed to a new training plan (Hanson’s) that increased my mileage and intensity in my training. While this approach did work in some ways for me, my Spring marathons found me suffering from heat related stress after a cold winter of outside running. Going from long runs in 30-50 degree overcast weather to 80 degrees and sunny definitely took its toll on me. I don’t fight heat. I abide. My times reflected the more laid-back pace. So much for a 3:55 BQ (Boston qualifier.) While I was disappointed, I knew in my head that my heart wasn’t really in it – I didn’t have the right passion or reason to go to Boston. In fact, I wasn’t sure I WOULD go to Boston even if I did get a BQ. It was just a number I felt I “should” meet, and I am competitive. But on thinking about it (and after a humbling response to my inquiry about the reality of my hitting that number from an expert on Runners’ World forums) I started re-thinking my priorities. Why do I run a marathon? Do I even like the distance?

With that in mind, I vowed to run Portland to enjoy Portland, no matter the time or weather. This would be my first visit to the Pacific Northwest. It is my brother and sister-in-law’s home, and I wanted to see it through the eyes of a runner. What better way than to do it on a partially closed course, without having to worry about knowing which way I am going? Of course, if you are reading this, you probably know me, and if you know me, you know that I love maps and love navigation and especially love route-making and way-finding, and that I did plenty of research on the route prior to running the marathon. But still, a marathon allows one to run for a very long time and see things (and the people of a place) in a unique way. With this in mind, my training leading up to the marathon was less intense, and while I got the miles in, I didn’t focus on speed, but on endurance and being present in the moment.

Marathon morning arrived with another day (after three similar days) of promised clear and sunny weather, with a projected high (and dry) of 70 degrees by noon. I dressed quickly in a loose tank over a running bra and bicycle-style shorts (the same ones desperately needing replacing after many seasons…) injini toe socks with a light sock over, and the Saucony peregrines. The Saucony is a narrow shoe, and I had not run longer than 20 miles in them, but that 20 was a good 20 and they are light and seem to do the job, so that’s the shoe I went with. I had worn Brooks’ Ghosts in the Spring races, and while I love the wide footbed of the Brooks’, the shoe felt heavy and square. The Saucony pair also happen to be the marathon colors, which were the same colors of the 2013-14 Superbowl champs, the Seattle Seahawks. So I was all matchy-matchy with the banners and signs for the marathon.

Tobi, Megan, Tom and I ate our breakfasts and got out the door. It took about 10 minutes to drive downtown. We were earlier than we had to be to get in to the parking garage which was not very near the start, but I do like to have some distance to walk before a race in order to get things moving (in the customary parlance) and to shake out the nerves. We sat in the car until we started seeing people moving along, and we got in the salmon run toward the start downtown. It was still quite dark, but there was a lot of action. Photographers stopped groups like ours to take pictures (later available for twenty five bucks a pop.) We located our starting areas and after taking a “we-fie”, split up to our respective corrals.

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L-R Megan, Tobi, me, Tom. photo courtesy M. McCulloch

Tom was in corral A, Tobi and I in corral C, and Megan in Corral G. We walked Megan over to her corral, said “Good Luck!” (this being her first marathon, ever) and Tobi and I walked back to C. Once there, Tobi got in line for a last pit stop and I chatted it up with a 10-year veteran of the Portland marathon, a sprightly older fella with a pointy beard. He told me that the Portland marathon was not about a PR. “The bridge gets in the way.” Deep inside, a last little glimmer of “maybe I could bust 4 hours” started to fade. I let it go. I reminded myself it was not about the time. Someone on a bullhorn started getting us moving. Tobi was still in line for the portos so I caught her eye, wished her luck, and moved with the herd to the next part of our waiting area. Once there, I noticed I was standing next to the 3:45 pace group, so I back-stepped twenty feet until I got to a saner place at the back of the pack. We all sang a unique national anthem (worth the watch), and our wave start lined up at the start. We waited for a train. You could hear the train whistle. In the distance, up the road, we could see the B wave bopping up and down. I was oddly calm. A part of me thought, you know, I’m not sure I really feel like running 26.2 miles right now. Sigh. Then the dude on the megaphone started hustling us again, and before my lazy brain could say any more, we were shuffling across the start line, our shoes clomping across the timing mat and the chorus of beeps as people started their watches. I pulled a little to the right to let the fasties pass. I was determined to go out slow, but immediately, we were greeted with the most amazing sounds and sights. On our left, about 100 feet from the start, a high school or college drum corps belted out a fast-tempo concussive that got my heart racing and my legs all shibbery. Just beyond, there were cute teeni-bopper cheerleaders, and a very LARGE early-morning crowd at the start (largest I have ever seen at any race). In a few more streets, another drumming band, this one Chinese (I think) along with real Chinese dragons dancing right next to me as I ran. I was carried away and really enjoying this first mile. A man came up on my elbow and asked about my shirt, which says “NRA – you can have my shoes when you pry them off my cold, dead feet.” for Narragansett Running Association, not the other NRA. I am not a frequent member of NRA but have done some runs with them and love the jersey, so I wore it to honor Little Rhody. By the time I finished explaining that, we were at the 1 mile marker. Oh my! I looked at my watch and realized that first mile went way too fast. I told the guy talking to me that I was going to slow down, so see yuh. He took off ahead, and I settled in to a great pace. It helped having such great crowd support. Amazing people, so friendly. And the bands. Nice! At about mile two, I saw Tobi pass by me up ahead. I mentally sent some good thoughts her way. I was so caught up in the bands and the people that I basically took no note of my location, but I know we passed beneath the Chinese gate, and we moved through an older part of town that was reminiscent of New England mill towns. Then the road moved up a long hill, and we could see the leaders come flying down the other side. That was cool. At the top of the hill, it turned hard left and we were now the leaders flying down the hill. I looked left and saw that the G bibs were heading up the hill, and looked for Megan. Finally, I saw her, running with a big-ass smile on her face. I yelled “Go Megan!”, but she didn’t hear me.

The next few miles began a long, straight, hill-less out and back along the river, with train tracks and warehouses on either side, along with some wide open lots. In the distance, a skyline of douglas firs met the blue sky. The sun was up and it was starting to get warmer. I was feeling very good at this point, and it was work trying to keep my pace back. There was plenty of water stops, so I skipped a lot of these early ones. Along about mile 7, there were pirates high five-ing the runners, playing pirate-y music and generally gargling into a microphone. I said “arghhhh” and did a little jig. I started looking for Tom in the stream of runners coming back the other way. They all had the sun in their eyes as it came up behind me. Finally, about one hour and six minutes in, I saw Tom. He was bolting, I tell ya, just flying up the road. I yelled “WOOOOO! Go Tom!!!” but he didn’t hear me. He was busy getting ready to high five those pirates on the return trip.

Now that I had seen three of the four of the my Portland marathon party (I did not expect to see Liz until the last six miles of the race) I started getting into marathon mode in my head. This wasn’t just some random run in some random town. I was in PORTLAND, OREGON baby and I was running the PORTLAND MARATHON! A quick check of my watch told me I was running on average a nine minute mile, which I knew was kind of ridiculous and maybe a little ambitious because it was only going to be hotter. As we finally came around the corner past this Christian rock band, and headed back into the sun, I realized the same thing that seemed to transport me at Wakely was happening here. I was coasting. Relentless Forward Progress. I was not in a bad place, or in a super good place, I was just getting the thing done. The crowd was cool and everything but I was not as present as I would have liked to be. I think my body or my brain just does this. I can’t quite explain it except that in front of my eyes is a narrow course and everything else is a blur. The sun, the bands, the people, the buildings, the fir trees, the other runners… I might latch on with my eyes to a swatch of pink, or a pair of purple socks, or a black wristwatch, and keep the thing in my sights for awhile, running to stay moving. I did remember to stop and get a drink, and when we took another hill at about mile 13, I noticed a woman with a corgi at the top of it. And then we were on highway 30 heading up toward the bridge. In the distance, I could see it, the St. John’s Bridge.

photo courtesy tripadvisor.com

I knew we had a way to go before getting to this bridge. From my research, I had learned that this is a busy highway, and it is not closed for the marathon. We were to run alongside oncoming traffic with only orange cones separating us from the trucks and cars racing by. I was glad for all of the training I had done along Division Street and route 3 in West Greenwich. I was quite comfortable with the cars, the industrial buildings, the noise, and the lack of spectators. Again, I was in a good spot mentally. I had taken a little cup of gummy bears at the last rest stop and worked on one, putting the rest in my back pocket. I thought about the bridge. If I was feeling good now, how was I going to feel once I was over on the other side, facing the sun? I was worried about that. That’s what got me both at Raleigh and Maine. I am not good with full sun in my face. But I figured I would wait and see. Pretty soon, we were heading up the on ramp to the bridge. This was a big hill. I was doing pretty well, just chugging along. But I noticed that pretty much everyone had started walking – power walking, really – to maybe save energy? “How smart!” my lazy brain chimed in, “you know, you could save a lot of energy just walking! I mean, they are all walking as fast as you are running. How bout it?” So I started to walk. Immediately, a woman came up on my right. She was wearing headphones and had a shiny black ponytail. She turned toward me, wagged her finger, and said, “uh, NO. You are going to run this.” So I started running, and kept up with her til we got to the bridge. Once there, the grade was much less steep, so I was running well again. The girl dropped back and said, “I’ve been pacing behind you about two miles. You can’t walk now!” So we ran together until the top of the bridge, and I looked out at the views. On the left was up the river, and dark woods and islands. Way off in the distance was a peak – what was it? I think it was Mt. St. Helens. And straight ahead was Mt. Hood. What an awesome sight. To the right was the sun, and the city. I took no pictures, because there are already a billion out there. And I don’t want to spoil it for you, oh you who may someday run this awesome race.

Needless to say, I blew down the other side. That is just my thing. I like the downs. I bomb the downs. At the bottom, a handful of soldiers were saluting a veteran runner. I got very choked up. Then we were off the bridge and bombing down this little side street, and then a sharp left and up into a neighborhood. And that is when the heat started to bother me.

This was about mile 18. I was hot. I was starting to get cranky from the sun and no shade. And this neighborhood was eerily quiet. There were people out there, but they seemed kind of dazed, as if the runners had woken them up, and they stood around their driveways and on their front lawns with coffee mugs, in slippers and pajamas. Christ, it was pretty late for pajamas. But I guess if you live in Portland, and it is sunny outside like this, you come out and just kind of… sun yourself.

I can’t say I didn’t struggle miles 18-22. All in to the sun. Very little shade. Lots of fun downhill! It was getting later and I figured Liz had already walked and was likely already done. Another neighborhood seemed very friendly with a big band on a lawn, and someone with a sprinkler. Heaven!  I walked a few times. I looked at my watch. I saw the possibility of a four hour marathon pretty much fade at that point. Okay, I thought, maybe a 4:15.

At mile 21 or 22, we had a nice long downhill. I pretty much bombed it, full sun and all. Some guy was getting sick to my right. Everyone walking occasionally. It was like we were all one body moving as one, just get it done. The crowd started to pick up a little. I had a little shade in the lee of some buildings. I picked it up again, and then saw ahead that we were going to be crossing another bridge. That meant we were near the end, YAY! But that also meant another little hill to get up to the bridge! I tucked it in, took a deep breath, and got ready for the left turn. Police officers were directing traffic and allowing cars between bands of runners. I picked up my pace a bit to be a part of a pack that was getting ready to turn left, and made it. We crossed the lane, started up the ramp, and I felt surprisingly fine. As I got to the top, we started to circle around this little loop, and I heard my name. I turned, and there was Tobi. I was very confused, because there is no way I could have caught up to her. But she said she had been slowed by the heat and had lost some steam. We took a quick walk break and then I said, “hey there’s this woman running with purple socks and she’s kind of slow but steady, so let’s just get behind her when she comes up.” So we waited and then we saw her, and we started running over the bridge. Before we knew it, we had passed her and were moving right along, Tobi in front of me. We came out on the other side and I could feel our pace increasing (and I knew I would not be able to keep up, even if only for a mile or two.) On our left were some old guys and a rock and roll band. I could hear the crowds in the distance. Suddenly Tobi called out, “Hey look! There he is!” and we saw HIM.

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photo pinterest.com

Yes, that’s right, we saw the unicycling flaming bagpipe playing darth vader.

And all I could think was, MAN, his legs are FILTHY!

Not, “hm, that is so weird, does he just show up at all of the events in town?” or “gee, why does he ride around playing flaming bagpipes? Why Santa, WHY?”  No. Just, “wow. those legs could use a bath.”

It was as if there was a Portland Visitor’s Center Fairy and she had granted our party three wishes and the one that someone wished hard for (probably Megan) got thrown in as a bonus. Like, why YES you can have the flaming bagpipe unicycling guy viewing. HERE!

After that, all I knew was, I was at the most loathed point in the race, yes, that moment when you are okay with 25.798 or whatever. Like, do I REALLY have to keep running? Can’t we just call it done? I briefly considered just walking to the end. I was done. It was hot. I was looking forward to the part after when I could collect armfulls of food and meet up with my peeps. Yes, and visit the porto.

And it was slightly uphill.

And the people were yelling “YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!” and I’m like, okayokayokaaaaaaaay shuddup.

And then the sign.

photo from blisterscrampsheaves.wordpress.com

And the purple chute, which meant I was nearly, nearly there.

Nearly there…

A left turn… um, still not quite there…

Another turn, a little rise… oh for…

Another turn and BAM! Finissio! Like, Immediately! Like, you are done!

And someone is giving me a medal.

And I am walking walking walking up to the food tables and just making this little cradle out of my bent arm to collect all of my free marathon food! And chocolate milk and more Ultima drink and water… and some crackers, some halloween candy, DAMN, I wish I had a shopping bag. Because girlfriend, I can eat after running 26.2. Oh yes.

And they gave me a finisher’s shirt which I fashioned into a food hammock, and tried to walk back down to get more food but An Official Volunteer gently turned me back and said “please move forward.”

And they gave me a finisher’s jacket, which I suddenly felt the need to put on right away.

And I kept walking and finally saw Tobi sitting on the side, on a curb. I put my stuff down and visited the porto while she chatted up this exquisitely handsome lad.

And then I made her get up and walk, unfortunately busting into her small talk (sorry, Tobi!)

And we walked. We walked and walked, completely lost. Since we had no drop bags at this race, we had no map, and no phone. Just a general sense (and not so good) of where we were supposed to go. Little realizing that as we dallied, my poor sister waited on us at the agreed upon spot (sorry, Liz!) and we did not wait for Megan to come in (sorry, Megan!) I felt like I had to keep walking or I would never be able to walk again. We saw some tweaky street boys and asked them for directions and they kindly obliged. We finally found the parking garage, and damn if we didn’t take the stairs (whose awesome? We’re awesome.) We found Tom sleeping in the car. We changed and went across the street to this amazing amazing amazing fountain.

Teachers’ Fountain, from http://www.portlandoregon.gov

We sat and soaked.

And Liz called.

And Megan called.

And eventually, we were all together again.

And we drove back to the house, and took long showers.

And Peter and Stacy brought over this amazing barbecue, and Liz brought ice cream and pumpkin pie, and it was all soooo soooo good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proportioned to the groove

29 Sep

I have had a heavy past couple of weeks. I am lucky though, because I have been running with some good friends, old and new, and loving up the trails and roads of Rhode Island and Connecticut. Lucky me, right? When the shit hits the fan, I know I can count on my friends.

One morning last week, I was taking the hand towel out of the downstairs bathroom to use at the kitchen sink, and in the process, pulled off and broke this little ornament that has been hanging on the end of the towel rack since we acquired the farm many years ago:

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Since last week, while cleaning, I dropped my Pinnacle Ultra Finisher’s Spike (a spike big enough to kill a vampire, small enough to carry home in your duffel bag) in the sink and cracked it, the sink is off limits until the plumber can be secured.

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We had been using the bathroom as a sort of trophy room; Race bibs lined one wall, and two hooks held finisher medals.  It was kind of cool and showed that man, we have run and biked a lot in the past few years. All of my running friends have one of these areas in their houses. Gail and Dave, Marathon Maniacs whose goal it is to run a marathon in each state (and are nearly there, as well as having completed multiple ultras, townie 5 and 10ks, and triathalons) have their front hallway dedicated to the pursuit of their goal, with some medals framed, photos of them smooching during races (they are Team Smoochie) and extra medals draped over the newel post at the base of their stairs.

I love this! So neat! Photo courtesy G. Martin

I love this! So neat! Photo courtesy G. Martin

Georgia, who this year is completing not only multiple marathons (including Berlin) but also running 5Ks across the state of Connecticut, does this awesome thing:

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Says Georgia: “Annual tradition has it that I post all my running bibs on my cubicle wall, for motivation (in running and in daily life).  The bibs represent the events that I have run in and completed in a year.  Once the year is over I take all bibs home and make a collage out of them.  Then with another new year I start over and decorate my cubicle once again with running events.  It is a great way to stay motivated  and also motivate others to join in and change their lives forever as they take up running.”

There are also the kind souls like Britni who dedicate their races, medals and bibs to children in need.  I asked Britni to tell me about it. “Over the last few months I’ve been running for a 7 year old boy named Aidan, who has hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Whenever I run a race that offers a medal to finishers, I ensure Aidan receives these medals. He absolutely loves them because they make him feel part of the experience and joy that running gives.” I think that this is awesome, and a great motivation to run.

Then there’s Fred Zuleger, a Rhode Island running God. He has lots of bibs.

Photo from The Providence Journal

Photo from The Providence Journal

We see Fred at almost every RI race. The guy is unstoppable. I’m surprised his house doesn’t fall down from holding up all those bibs and medals.

I wish I had taken a picture of our bathroom before I took all the bibs down. But it was beginning to look like a dorm room. So now, in our office, there’s this:

Andy & Tom's excellent Bib collection

Andy & Tom’s excellent Bib collection

I keep the bibs. So does Tom. On the backs, I write the day, my time, and any other bit of information, in sharpie, Some day, I will have to throw them away. I will not make a quilt from them. Or a jacket.

Even though… whoa. Tyvek. Water resistent!

Anyhow, so now our half bath is back to being a half bath in a normal person’s home except that you can’t use the sink, and in the process of pulling the towel off the rack, I broke that little ornament.  And I am keeping it. I am going to throw it in with all of the bibs and medals. Because what I have had of running, all of the friends I have met over the years, the things they do to help others, makes me love them. So the little ornament sentiment rings true.  As dear old Emily Dickinson so proudly wrote it, and would be proud to read it if she was sitting on my toilet:

That love is all there is,

Is all we know of Love;

It is enough, the freight should be

Proportioned to the groove.

Thanks y’all for running me through the weeks. My head has been in the toilet, but my heart has been klomp klomp klomping along.

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