Categorizing Fun: An Overview of My First Ragnar

“You know what Type 2 fun is, right?”

I was at M&K’s house talking about a then-upcoming Ragnar event, and how I was really, really tired of running. I was asking if it was worth it, as M&K have done some Ragnars, and I had heretofore done none. (I was also borrowing a sleeping bag based on the pack list M had given me.)

I replied that I did not know there were types of fun.

“Type One fun is that you’re having fun while you’re doing it. This is what everyone easily recognizes as fun. Type Two fun is you have fun when you talk about it later and reflect on the overall experience. Type Three fun is never fun.”

Fair enough.

As of that discussion I was certain Ragnar was Type Two fun and possibly Type Three. There are a variety of training guides to follow for Ragnar, including the one on their site; some folks I ran with basically added up their total mileage for the roughly 36-hour period and trained as though they needed to be able to run all of that in one block. I followed the training guide on the Ragnar site, more or less. It meant running 5 times per week, with alternating distances and speeds, and as we got closer to the event and before tapering started, the increased mileage meant increased time investment. My running playlists were well worn and I was finding it irritating that I’d “have” to run on a given day instead of being able to bike or swim or row or what have you. All but 2 of my training runs were outdoors, with some variation of hills for the most part. The most awkward part of this experience is of the 12 people in 2 vans, I had only met one.

For me, Ragnar started when two of those people (the one I knew (Tristan) and one of the ones I didn’t (Sonya)) headed up north to the starting point. We met up with Van 1 (we were Van 2) and drove to our first major exchange, Exchange 6. Ragnar starts the slower-paced teams earlier than the faster-paced ones, so everyone ends at roughly the same time. Our team started at 6:45am on Friday, with Van 2 starting at roughly 11:30am. At the major exchanges, it’s a festival of painted vans and themed running wear; we had vans named things like “Team Div/0” and “Will Run for Beer” and “Start Slow then Taper” and so forth. Some teams were dressed as superheroes, some teams were dressed in tutus or hula skirts, some teams dressed like Cirque members. Our team’s name was “Running Better than Congress” and for the most part we did that: showed up, talked with one another, kinda wore red, white, or blue, and one of our Vans was painted. We ran better than Congress only marginally.

I was Runner 10, but we had lost two runners at the last minute to injury, so we were shuffling extra runs among the remaining 10 of us. My first run was essentially a 5k, mostly flat, but at about 2pm in the sun, with no shade.  If you’ve spent 99% of your training runs running in tree-shaded areas or in the mid-60 degree early mornings, running in 85 degree heat is punishment. I did not enjoy my first run at all and was glad to hand the baton (a slap-wrist bracelet) to Chuck, our group organizer and the unfortunate benefactor of 2 of the extra 6 legs floating around thanks to drop-outs.

If you had asked me after Run 1 if I would ever do this again, I would have said definitely not.

Our group ran the remaining 2 legs and headed to the next major exchange, a high school with tents set up to catch some sleep. Unfortunately it was 5pm and there’s no way I can sleep at that time, so I pretended to and then gave up. We did get nice showers (there was heat!!) and headed into LaConner to get dinner. At 9pm we piled into the Van for our 2nd runs. That’s when I got tired.

My run was at 12:30am and was only 2 miles, but it was all hill. Still, the cool of night took away some of the unpleasantness from the earlier heat of the day, and while running with a headlamp took some getting used to, I managed to get done at my expected pace (given the fall in Beijing and the loss of 5 training weeks, plus my knee, I used my 10k pace of 10:30 — I know it’s slow, but I’d rather not run to injury, thanks).  Run 2 ended for me and I handed off to the next runner in our van, Joe.

If you had asked me after Run 2 if I would ever do this again, I would have said probably not.

While Joe and then Sonya ran, I tried to get some sleep — I think I managed an hour each, sitting in the front seat of our van (actually a Suburban). I have a messed up back and that wasn’t ideal, but I managed to brace it with a rolled up jacket. At 4am we finished and headed to our next stopping point on Whidbey Island, where we were told to park in a field. As it was light enough out, I could see where I put M&K’s borrowed sleeping bag to make sure there was no poo (long story) and racked out for two solid hours.

That’s right. Two hours. At 7am my eyes snapped open because of habit. I had 2 more hours before I had to get back in the van and I could not, for the life of me, sleep. No coffee needed (which was good, because there was none to be found), I headed off to shower, and change, and prepare myself for my last run: 6 miles, all up and down hills.

I should explain that I had the 2nd shortest distance of the 12 runners. This was by design as most of the people I was running with measured their experience in IronMans and Marathons (not half Marathons, those do not count), and all but 2 of us had done Ragnar at least once before. I was 3rd slowest pace (but hey, at least I was consistently pacing) and, I found out later, the oldest person in our group. That doesn’t mean anything though as there were groups consisted of people at least 10 years my senior, and possibly 15, and they were kicking butt.

As we piled into the van Chuck asked me if I could take leg 32 instead of 34, which was the same distance but instead of up and down little hills, it was up one big hill and down it.  I figured it was the same distance and I had trained for hills, so, sure. I took it.

Slapping the baton on and running along the trail, I had to stop twice in the first mile: my shoe was untied, and then at about the 3-quarter-mile mark I recalled I hadn’t kicked off my running program (that tells me how far I’ve run). Shit. I turned it on, turned a corner, and looked at a big hill. Shit.

I turned my volume up, stared about five feet at the pavement in front of me, and kicked in. Time to get this definitely Type Two fun run done. My van passed me and yelled out to cheer me on, only it wasn’t my van — it was someone else’s van cheering everyone on. They hadn’t done it in the middle of the night to respect the residents of the streets we were running, but everyone had done that, I reflected, the day before up in Bellingham.

And then another van passed and did the same. And then my van. And then a runner passed me (some call this “kills” — and that’s fine, you’re welcome to run by me as long as you’re not a jerk about it) and told me I was doing good work on the hill. He was easily 10 years my junior and his muscles were so defined you could have written in the creases with a sharpie and he would have looked like one of those comic-book super heroes.

The hill was about 2.5 miles of hill, and the “flat” at the top was a series of mini rolling hills. About halfway into the flat I took some Gu and water and started to get into a rhythm. And I started to enjoy myself. I picked up the pace a little — up the hill my pace had suffered and I wanted to come in at 10:30 again — and kept at it. Type 1 Fun had just been achieved.

This run had some shade breaks here and there — 10 foot patches of tree shade separated by 100-or-more foot patches of sun. It was 85 degrees on Whidbey. I finished the “flat” of the top and started descending the hill, first in a very gradual slope and then (in the last mile) at a super steep one. I rounded a corner, and looked down about a quarter of a mile to see the checkpoint. It then hit me that I was almost done, and I sped up. Slapping the bracelet on to the next runner (Chris), I pulled off and realized my knee hurt, my ankle hurt, I had acquired a sunburn in spite of sunscreen, I smelled like a yak, and I was happy.

If you had asked me after this run if I would ever do this again, I would say maybe.

We raced up to the next exchange point, but as we did so we saw a runner fall — and it looked like heat stroke (2 other runners had already been ambulanced off). We pulled over to the side and got him water, Gatorade, salt pills, etc.  — not heat stroke but definitely he was pushing too hard. He said he felt better and insisted on finishing his mile, so we made it a point to look for him at the next checkpoint (we did see him). As Chris came in and handed off to Chuck, we realized that we were almost done. After Chuck it was May, and it was Sonya who ran leg 36. We met up with her in the last turn to run in with her.

Hot, tired, sore, and smelly, we acquired our finisher medals (that double as bottle openers, apparently), our stickers, our T-shirts, our group pictures, etc. We congratulated each other, shook hands and did that hugging thing you do, and then Sonya, Tristan and I piled into the Suburban and took off for the ferries. We had a Dairy Queen craving that we exercised in the wait line for the ferry, we regretted it nearly instantly, and got home.

When my husband asked me after this if I would ever do this again, I said definitely.

Ragnar isn’t, actually, about running. If you think about it, you spend maybe 4 hours of the 36 (or, in our case, 32) hours actually running. The rest of the time you are talking with your van mates — and we had a good group — cheering your team (and others’) on, marveling at the creativity of names and costumes, attempting to navigate to the next exchange (because you sometimes can’t drive the course), eating snacks (lots of snacks spread over that time == only one real meal (dinner) eaten), drinking water and Gatorade, and looking to see who’s slapped what magnets on your car (tagging of vehicles is popular in Ragnar and now that they use magnets instead of stickers, it’s easier to clean up after). Pretty much anyone who knows me knows that I have to keep busy and in fear of 20-odd hours of “nothing to do” I brought my knitting and a book. I didn’t touch either except to move them out of the way as I looked for my solar charger, or Gu, or reflective vest, or ponytail holders. Naturally, I have a much better idea of what I will pack for next year.

Sticky

I freely admit it has been quite a bit of time since I’ve last blogged, a fact which was hammered home to me this morning when I logged into the site and had to hesitate a few times before remembering my login and password. I have already locked myself out of a bank account this morning for the lack of correct memory, and I’m having to wait until 8am Eastern Standard Time tomorrow to correct that, so you can see how there was some trepidation there.

“Things have been busy”, or words to that effect, come to mind; but that phrase and those circumstances are the point of a different post. Given how long it took me to write this one I think you can safely return to the site in April.

In the meantime, I wanted to talk about tape.

Up until yesterday late afternoon, I had spent some five days with an eighteen-inch strip of K-tape diagonally across my back, left shoulder to right kidney. Its purpose was to keep my posture corrected, as when I had gone to the doctor on Tuesday she discovered that if my feet/knees/hips were straight and forward, my torso and shoulders were not. They were angled slightly to the right. While this wasn’t immediately noticeable to me (nor, do I think, it was noticeable to those around me, otherwise I’m pretty sure someone would have mentioned it), it did mean that when I attempted to run I was doing so in such a fashion as to cause myself some pain and definite damage.

Yes, I’m running again.

Having once again signed up for an event (well, two now) because I seem to have a disconnect between what I want to do and what I can do, I set myself to the doctor with a clear and concise goal: Her job is to get me running again with little or no pain. My job is to do exactly what she tells me to, however ridiculous.

This has led to some uncomfortable and odd things, and an 18-inch piece of bright blue tape across my back was the least of them.

Up until now those exercise balls you see at the gym — or sometimes people at work sit on them, they’re supposed to help your core — have been something for me to toss out-of-the-way whilst I put down a mat and did “real” exercise.  Now, I have to do things like balance on them, on my shins. Currently this looks like me kneeling on the ball, with the ball under my shins, and my hands along the equator of the ball, so I am hunched over. One could forgive themselves for thinking I was praying, because there is quite a bit of muttering going on. My original goal was to reach 8 seconds (note to self: much safer than riding a bull) and then my next goal is to do this without hands to steady me. I though she was off her nut until an acquaintance of mine, who just had open heart surgery 3 weeks back, posted a picture of himself on an exercise ball. He was on his shins, but the rest of him was bolt upright. Touché.

I have also had to modify the way I run. The original method of running was to go to the gym, get on the treadmill, and set a speed. I’d zone out to some music and/or to the work problem of the day (I do better running if I don’t have to think about it) and the treadmill would effectively “run” me.  The problem with the treadmill running you is that it does exactly that — it forces you at a certain pace and it may be that your body wasn’t ready to take that next footfall at that particular split second. Ow. Ow. Ow.  So, I need to run outside now. In the Puget Sound Area. In Winter. (NB: today’s run was fine, thanks to an unseasonably warm patch, but I’m not looking forward to the typical mid-forties — or lower — cold and rain that will greet me Tuesday morning).

Then there’s another bit of tape I need to have every time I run: Leukotape, McConnell-taped across my lower left knee. Effectively it creates a pocket of the swollen, damaged tissue that is my left knee (viscosupplementation has not done that knee long-term favors — I haven’t had an injection in a year and I’m going to try to stay away) and smashes it into the space between my kneecap and the right of my left kneecap. It’s precisely that weird flesh color that band-aid uses and that no one’s flesh actually is, except possibly Speaker Boehner’s. It also leaves a very unattractive grey adhesive outline when removed, and if you do it too often you can get a nasty rash. It works well for hair removal, though.

As a result of all of this activity my FitBit and EveryMove think I’m awesome and are suitably praising me with little icons in the typical fashion of gamified fitness. I’m having to mark my actual success, however, in distance increase (now back up to 2.5mi after a small detour) and reduced visits to the PT.

Someday I won’t have to use tape to hold me together properly, either.

Hot Yoga: Confessions of a Reluctant Convert

I had spent probably six years wanting to look down my nose at hot yoga, with all of its purported smelliness, its special gear, its special words (Namaste, indeed), and the trendiness of yoga pants that you could or couldn’t see through. How could it be real exercise when it’s just extrapolated stretching? How can anyone take it seriously in that gear? Then I took up cycling and the gear argument went out the door. After you shamelessly go to the Safeway in clippie shoes and chamois-padded bike shorts, any sense of dignity in costume is gone.

The kicker for me was about a six months ago when my dad told me he had taken up yoga and it did wonders for his back.

I have inherited many things from my father, good and bad. I am stubborn, I can be very black and white, I am very plain-spoken. I dislike mayonnaise, I can be extremely pragmatic, and my knees and back are increasingly problematic. I didn’t get the piano playing skills, but I got the good hair and straight teeth. When I got to my mid thirties we started comparing knee injuries, back injuries, and what color of therapy bands we were using.

So when my dad said yoga really helped him with his back, I listened. I didn’t march right down to the gym to go try a class, because that would take actual effort, but I did listen. And then I did attend a class at the gym and it was pretty much everything you think of when you think of “hot yoga”: a 15×15 room filled with various bodies in yoga-esque clothing, a calming instructor, seventeen or twenty painful poses, everyone dripping sweat, and I could tell who was a fan of garlic and/or cheese. It wasn’t awful but it wasn’t great.

I left yoga to its own devices; I didn’t look down my nose at it but I assured myself it was not for me.

My best friend and I were chatting a couple of months ago and, as I pointed out the new Hot Yoga place just down the hill from me, she pointed out she had been going and she found it better than meditation to calm her mind. As someone who also suffers from chronic insomnia, this sounded like a good idea. The new place had a deal: 6 classes for $10 in two weeks. For the price of three lattes I could scientifically test the benefits of yoga! That this coincided with the last week of my old job, and a week off, made for an excellent test bed. And so I signed up.

It’s been a month now. I haven’t had back pain in that time. I have had only two (2) nights of insomnia. I am inelegant in class, I am not the lean-and-limber yoga Barbie; then again there are many in my class who are not. I have seen progress in my flexibility and balance, but frankly, the fact that my back doesn’t routinely go out, and that I can run again without pain in my knees, is selling point enough.

Then there are the personalities: I try to go every Thursday night (for a variety of reasons) but it seems I’m of a minority with a regular schedule. In six weeks of attendance I have seen maybe one or two people in any two classes, the rest of the cast members change out regularly. There are a couple of yoga Barbies — and they know it — but hats off to them because not only do they look it, but they can do that one pose where you balance on the ball of one foot while in lotus with your hands up. Or the other one where you fold yourself in half, and bend over (I think it’s called “sleeping eagle” but for me it’s called “impossible”). Then there was Tatooed Yoga Jesus: a man who looked like the Oxford-Christian Jesus picture but in yoga pants, no shirt, and tattoos all over his arms, back, and chest. Again, the inclination is to mentally tease him, but Yoga Jesus knew his stuff too. Even the inflated, gym-rat-football-player-looking-dude could get some of the more difficult versions.  And then there’s plenty of people like me: not quite with-it, but improving; dripping sweat and forcing muscles to do things they aren’t used to, secure in the knowledge of a pain-free back and a good night’s sleep.

That is worth any amount of self-imposed awkwardness.

The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself

-FDR

Having nonchalantly signed up for Tough Mudder (NB: I didn’t actually yet sign up for it but I said I would so I will), I was initially apprehensive at the idea of a cold ice bath and a bout of electroshock therapy. But I spent a portion of this flight (greetings from 35k feet) actually looking at the event obstacles, both volume and detail, and see that there’s a whole lot of scary in store for my teammates and me.

Tough Mudder is aptly named, and aside from a couple of obstacles that include electrocution, and a couple (or 4) more that include ice baths, there are several that include enclosed spaces, and a few that involve heights. Oh, wonderful. It’s like someone gift-wrapped all of the things that freak me out and handed it over in one giant muddy package.

I can handle bugs, spiders, pretty much any liquid that comes out of an animal (thanks to a small child and a Zoology degree), heights that will kill me, the dark, speed, guns, knives, the unknown, and swimming with sharks. But while ice baths and electrocution are unsavory, confined spaces and heights that will only break a bone or two scare the high holy crap out of me. I have no idea how to train for this, except that this will be 10-12 miles of “suck it up and deal”.

Seemingly unrelated, but totally not, is a book I picked up recently that discusses (among other things) the value of “stuff” vs. the value of “experiences”. The bottom line is that we value the “experience” more than the “stuff” for the same dollar output. “Stuff” doesn’t necessarily make us happier, but “experiences” do; even people who do arduous, un-fun things reflect back on them and value the experience. (Anyone who has given birth or finished a physical event they weren’t really prepared for — cough — can testify to it having been a lot more fun AFTER it’s over).

I’m clinging to this. To be absolutely, perfectly frank, I want to quit this event before it’s even started, because I know not only what it will mean in terms of preparation, but that at some point I’m going to be stuck in a small, enclosed, dark space; I will be cold, I will feel useless, and I will want to quit, and the only reason I won’t is that I’m too stubborn to do so.

Here we go…

An Open Letter to My Personal Trainer, David

Well David, it’s that time again, where I’ve done something rash and signed up for something I probably shouldn’t do. There’s a timeline involved, and some frankly optimistic requirements; I figured I’d apologize now and get it over with.

You see, I let the Ms.Krieant sign me up for Tough Mudder, and I have a little under 13 weeks to get ready. It has some impressive obstacles, most of which have me scared out of my mind, but as you know once I’ve said I’ll do something, I’ll do it…

…as long as I get to whine a lot about it.

So I realize that up until now your charge has been mostly to try to get me stronger while avoiding the injury of the month; in our short tenure together this has meant occasionally avoiding my knees, my neck, my upper back, my lower back, or my right hip. Now we need to ignore all of that, because I will need all of those parts working and functional.

I also realize that this means that the chattiness of our sessions will have to reduce, that we can no longer freely evaluate others in the gym as you hand me five more pounds of something or have me do 15 more push-ups. It means that you’re likely to give me homework, that I will need to actually do weight work more than twice a week, and that I will be very, very sore these ensuing weeks.

But David, I’m turning 40.

I realize this isn’t much to you — I think 40 hit and flew by for you about a decade ago, not that you’d notice, being an ex-Marine and all. I realize this isn’t much to most of our early-morning compatriots, as I think the average age at the gym at our time of morning is mid-50’s. It isn’t technically even much to me in the sense that I’m not having a huge to-do over it, nor do I want to see black balloons, nor do I think the day after my birthday I will suddenly fall apart or feel older. The fact is, David, I’m tired of having my body feel older now.

Five years ago I entered into a half marathon, having never run, because someone told me I couldn’t do it. (Actually, he laughed and said, “yah, right”). Three years ago I entered into a 2-day, 160-mile bike ride because someone said I wouldn’t want to do it. Last year I did the STP pretty much under the same auspices. And each time, I injured myself either in training or in the event itself. But each time, I did the training without any professional help.

You’re here to fix that, David, because at 40, I’ve decided I’m tired of injuring myself. And this likely means I’ll have to do a lot of things I was heretofore unprepared to do, like go to the gym more than 4 times per week and maybe, actually, you know, stretch. Perhaps even do my regular PT exercises. I have a support group in my friends — one lent a very pertinent book (Supple Leopard, indeed), one gave me tips on how to deal with the electric shocks (or at least a realistic impression of what they’re like). But your job is to make sure I’m ready, and so I really do hope you’ll understand the bullet-pointed list you’re going to get when next we see each other.

I still reserve the right to whine, though.

Floating Along

I am, once again, at the airport. Can I just say how refreshing it was to NOT have an instant sense of direction once clearing security? I have a whole new world opened to me, and it’s a weird one. Item one: I checked email two hours after leaving on vacation and no work urgency or email had appeared! (What is this alternate universe I have travelled to?).

No, this is a welcome weird; I am semi-secure in the knowledge that nothing really truly awfully bad can happen, that my company can survive without me, and yet my (brief) absence will not convince them they should get rid of me. Nonetheless I am travelling with two laptops, which means I’ll be totally buff when I return.

Like every vacation, I have a laundry list of things I’m going to do (that I probably will not complete). Like every vacation, I have forgotten something (although the kindly Editor dropped by work earlier today and delivered my knitting, which was the item forgotten). Like every vacation, the boychild and I went to Anthony’s for pre-flight. Like every vacation, I am looking forward to in-flight WiFi.

I cannot sit still. I really can’t. I noticed it a few years back, and it was again brought to my attention when the Brit was in a meeting with me a year back. It has peaked since: hour-long meetings in conference rooms either must include my laptop so I can multitask *or* folks need to suspend their seismographs, because the leg or the hand or the pencil or the anything else will be rhythmically moving to the sound of whatever song is in the head.  So sitting on a plane for three hours is going to be less than pleasant. For those of you recommending wine: thought of that. But I’m going to 110-degree weather, and so dehydrating myself on purpose seems a bit stupid.

In four days I will return, and will have to text my PT and tell him about signing up for Tough Mudder, and will have to acclimatize myself to the notion that in 3 months I need to train myself to 1. withstand electric shocks, or at least grit my teeth over them, and 2. be able to pull myself up (all of myself) (by my own hands) (several times). Up until now the directive for the trainer has been much more mellow, much more “hey can you make sure you don’t re-break the parts of me that are broken?” and more “I have this specific set of criteria I must meet in 12 weeks.”

But until then I’m on vacation. Leave a message!

OW, says the Bobbie

I can’t tell if it’s actual full-body disintegration or if it’s old age or if it’s bad karma, but I find myself *back* getting X-rays and *back* on anti-inflammatories. This sucks. I was being so good, and it’s not like I signed up for anything crazy or over-trained. I’ve been lifting weights (lightly, nothing more than about 25/30 pounds) 2-3 times per week, and running 2-3 times per week (nothing more than about 2-3 miles), so I should not be dealing with this.

About a week ago the Male Person and I were commiserating on lower back pain, the kind you get here and there that is annoying and you may put a heating pad (or ice) on it and take an Advil and it goes away. Annoying, but live-able.

As of yesterday I had to use assistance (chairs, tables, handles, etc.) to sit down/get up. I went back to my French Canadian Doctor, because it was time for some punishment anyways. The good news: It’s not sciatic nerve stuff! Bad news: it’s probably more degeneration, but we’ll find out. Eventually.

In the meantime, I have purchased a back brace. There is absolutely nothing at all attractive about a back brace. It’s all white nylon and velcro, and reminds me of oversized superhero belts. Today I could be Monochrome Woman, as my grey tank top and black pants mean the white belt just really makes me look … spiffy (insert eyeroll here). Walking around gingerly means lots of people look at you funny. In this case, my walk is something like that of the cartoonish old man – butt tilted forward, therefore abdomen tilted forward, upper body tilted slightly back to help with balance, and a slow, shuffling gait to get places. Combined with my spiffy back brace, I look a prize idiot.

The fervent hope is that between anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants (night-time only! no wine! um, yay!) things will calm down enough so I can fly out to vacation (yay! Arizona!) and then come back to do my last three days of work for Expedia.

Because I don’t want to make the post about my new job led-in by all of this whining, and because I will have plenty more time to blog on the plane to/from AZ, I won’t get into that here :). You will just have to wait.

(I hate waiting…)

OK, you can have this much: I’m going to work for Sur La Table, in the Applications Dev Team. I’m very excited, and yes I get a discount, and believe it or not no, that wasn’t the biggest selling point.

Here We Go Again…

Greetings from South Satellite at SeaTac! Yes, I’m actually writing BEFORE I get on the plane, which has no WiFi. More awesome is my pre-planning on this, so I am the smug owner of both the most recent issue of Discovery and the most recent issue of the Economist. That plus hopefully some decent sleep will aid in the 9 hour flight to Heathrow, and the 2 hours down to Rome.

The verdict on the back/neck was essentially I’ve got degeneration in a joint and in a disc — so, um, I’m old. And apparently we fight age with muscle relaxants (which suck, because if I take one, I have to plan on not doing anything for 12 hours), anti-inflammatories (which suck less but the digestive tract does not like), and lots of Physical Therapy (which sucks because it means the nice PT dude pokes all the owie spots and makes them more owie).

I know I promised more on the Legal Fun, but since it turns out getting a Summer Schedule in place ran a tab of about $850, I think it’s safe to say I’m still in it, and won’t be out of it for a while, so maybe those blog posts can come in October or November. Hey, just in time to scare people for Halloween!

At the rate time is flying, though, that’s not long. The major milestones of the summer are flying by, Kevin and Margaret got married, STP has come and gone, our Leadership Summit has passed (short: YAY US! And… there’s a lot more to do); there’s this trip and then the next trip (fun trip!) and then camp and back to school and PTA and aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.

Net-net (and I say that because it makes the Editor cringe, and that looks almost like a smile on his face, so it’s nearly the same thing) this has brought me to the Big Decision to… Not get chickens. I just added on a running routine (to replace the cycling one), a knitting class, I still have a quilt, and I keep having to remember that in about a month I’ll be back in school, too. I think chickens may drive me nuts, as fun as they sound. In a way this feels like giving up, or maybe it’s just streamlining. The male person is not secretly relieved.

So. If you’re in Seattle and you’ve got chickens, I’d like to come help out once in a while, and buy some eggs off of you. The same way I like to occasionally go to the dog park to pet the pups but do not foresee another puppy for some time (Bulimikitty, I’m looking at you).

With that I sign off… as the long metal tube of the jetway beckons to the OTHER long metal tube that will take me to Olympic-land, and then to the land of caprese and carbonara. I can’t complain, try as I might :).

I Just Run Here

I went for a run this morning which, due to a missing mile marker, ended up with me running an extra mile (this is a good thing, as I was singing and having fun). The lake is gorgeous on a crisp morning like today, and the trail is full of joggers, runners (there’s a difference), walkers, dog-runners, dog-walkers, cyclists, etc.

For the Cyclist: I know what it’s like. Yes, I do. Not just in general — I’ve done some biking in my time — but specifically on the Lake Sammamish Trail, because I went biking on it with my friend Kevin when we decided that biking on the East Lake Sammamish road was a bit like playing frogger with two wheels. I know riding on gravel requires a little more concentration (just a little). This does not, however, excuse you from omitting “On Your Left”, “Left”, or a simple bell warning. I *am* rocking out to the Foo Fighters, but not so loudly that I couldn’t hear you if you said or did these things, so when you whipped up past me you scared the [deleted expletive] out of me.

[Editor’s note: rant aside, this particular cyclist pulled over to take a pic of the lake — which is gorgeous, by the way — and when he did, and I ran past, I said, “On Your Left”.  When he eventually got back on his bike and passed me again, he did say “Left”. And so that lesson went well, I think.]

Lining the trail, sometimes on one side only, sometimes on both sides, are very large houses. Living on the lake is as much a status symbol as living in Medina or Clyde Hill or Mercer Island; the real estate prices reflect this status symbol (I do not live on the lake). And, as with any area you are likely to have a lot of people wanting in on the exclusivity, the houses are jammed together. You will actually see a 4- or 5-thousand square foot mansion with a four car garage about five feet from the neighboring mansion. To preserve individuality, however, these fine folks all differ wildly in their home construction and style. You thusly see the Craftsman, the Spanish-style, the Modern, and the Traditional all a-jumbled… and then maybe someone’s plot of land where they’re in fresh construction, and no discernible style is evident yet.

The original trail was actually a railroad, and when the railroad was decommissioned it became a trail, much to the angst of a lot of the homeowners. They didn’t WANT a bunch of strangers trolling through their front or back yards, so many put up fences. In many cases, they had to put up two: because of the lay of the land, you often see large mansion on the lake side, and then the garage for said mansion on the street side (across the trail), and fences “protecting” each. Ergo, you’ve just arrived home with a large grocery haul, you must park your car, open a fence, close it, cross the trail, open that fence, close it, all to get to your mansion.

And if a runner stops and asks you if you want help with said groceries, apparently the proper mode is to look at them in askance, reply with a puzzled “no”, and continue trudging along to your mansion. Clearly, the runner is part of the problem.

For any runners coming up my hill when I’m navigating from car to kitchen with loads of groceries — if you volunteer to help, I’ll totally take you up on it. Even though I don’t have a mansion.

Let’s Do the Time Warp Again

If you think of “warp” not as in Rocky Horror Picture Show, but as in “Star Trek”, it’s the ability to warp space to get from A to B faster. Extrapolated, you can create temporal shifts with enough warp, and then Harrison Ford’s comment “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage” are more accurate than anything he said as Han Solo. I find it funny that there’s more science in Indiana Jones than there is in Star Wars. Ergo, Star Wars = Fantasy, but Star Trek = Science Fiction. And we can put that to bed.

Now that this pop culture mashup has been burned indelibly to your brain, much like a Katy Perry song, for which I should but won’t apologize, I can get to the actual point:

I am suffering from both old age and recidivist youth.

Two weeks ago I had my high school reunion. It was interesting to see how everyone had changed (or not) since high school: the age ranges looked far beyond the purported year we all shared. Some people gained weight, some did not. Some got bald, some did not. The universal take seemed to be, “It’s great to see you all, regardless of how much we liked or disliked high school, or each other for that matter”. I will note that I wasn’t all that enamored of high school, and it was less enamored of me; I just assumed that had to do with my ranking on the social totem pole (somewhere near the bottom). After a few conversations with those I had perceived were at the top, I arrived at the conclusion that no one was really enamored of the ego bruising experience that high school dishes out. At one point or another you’re on the receiving end of it, and we all agreed it sucked.

Studies have shown (is there a more self-important phrase in the English Language?) that people who share a traumatic event are linked at that level for life, like those who survive a car accident or war. I’m not akining high school to war, although there were times it felt like it.

Fast forward twenty years when parts of me seem to be doing very well (I’ve been reassured I have very good skin) and most of me is not doing well. Trips back to the Sport MD for a busted knee have me on anti inflammatory drops (40 each knee, 4x day, 2 weeks), a nitrogen patch (take it off if you feel like you’re having a heart attack, the paperwork says), and more workouts. I have arthritis. A trip to my regular doc tells me it’s time to actually watch my cholesterol, and no that doesn’t mean watch it go up. A trip to my dentist tells me it’s time for braces.

Braces. At 37.

Granted, they are “bottom only” braces, and it’s completely elective, but when I am told it’s my teeth that will age my appearance faster than my skin or hair (which is dyed), off to the orthodontist I go. And so, at 37, I will have little metal boxes on my lower set of teeth, and it will feel like the one damning high school experience I never had.

Please, please do not bring the acne back.