Monthly Archives: June 2009

My Lucky Day

It was there on the calendar.  Twenty Miles LSD (long slow distance).  Sometimes I swear it should read LSBD (long slow boring distance).  There are days when it seems as though the run will never end.  Fortunately today I realized before I even hit the first mile that I had won the lottery.  Two hundred and fifty million dollars.  Wow, the possibilities.  What could I do with that much money?  For that matter, what couldn’t I do?

For the next several miles I was as generous as Oprah.  I had built a whole street full of homes in New Orleans for the Katrina victims, bought brand new uniforms for soccer teams in Iraq, given to my church and my children’s schools.  It is amazing how fast the miles went by as this happened.  At least a mile and a half was eaten up in just building the houses and another mile flew by before I was able to decorate them and move the families in.

By mile seven I felt like I had tithed enough for the time being and was ready to help my family.  My mom finally got that house in the mountains she had always dreamed of.  Completely decorated and ready to move in.  My dad was thrilled with his brand new fishing boats.  Luckily the salesman knew all about fishing and convinced me that Dad would need one for fresh water fishing and one for deep sea fishing.  It took a couple of miles just to decide what my brother and sister would want.  In the end, I decided to pay off their mortgages and buy them something fun.  Speedy, red Porsches for each of them.

Mile twelve came before I even knew it.  Mile twelve is my favorite mile in my regular long run.  Not because I feel so good at that distance but because I turn into a beautiful and distracting neighborhood right on the bay.  Between every house you catch the loveliest breeze.  And as today was my lucky day I decided to buy my favorite house.  It did take some convincing to get the current owner’s to part with it but once they realized how much I had always loved their house and how happy I would be there, not to mention the nice amount of money I was willing to offer to live there, they finally parted with it.

As the house is almost a hundred and fifty years old the kitchen definitely needed to be remodeled.  Luckily, I had been thinking about my perfect kitchen for most of my adult life and was able to remodel the whole thing from the gorgeous state of the art appliances to the natural stone floors and granite counter tops in less than a mile.

I do find that my mind wanders in the later miles. So suddenly I began to miss my sister.  I knew exactly the thing for this though.  She should come for an extended visit and if that was to happen she would need a guest house.  This project took some time.  I not only had to design, build and decorate the guest house I also had to put in the pool beside which the guest house would sit because everybody knows a guest house always sits beside the pool.

Quite unexpectedly I found myself at mile fifteen with so much more to accomplish and so few miles left to accomplish it all in.  I had to quickly hire someone to help me decorate the rest of the house.  The crew from Extreme Home Makeover are pretty quick so after offering to foot the bill for their next couple of projects they agreed to come in and work their magic.  It takes a week on their show but they build a whole house in that time.  For me it took them only a couple of miles. The basement was my children’s dream basement as the whole thing had been turfed and fitted with goals. Games could start immediately.  My husband’s home gym had everything a person could ask for including the flat paneled high definition television with every sport channel possible.  And my bedroom was everything I had ever wanted and more. Voila, my dream house was complete and I still had a mile and a half to go.

As with any long run this is the hardest part.  I was almost done and beginning to really feel it in my legs.  Unfortunately a lottery winning, marathon training mom’s job is never done.  There was water leaking into my beautiful kitchen from the upstairs bathroom.  Luckily I found myself turning back into my driveway. I will just have to call the plumber and fix that next time, I’m sure the bathroom can use a remodel.

Previously Published at Irongirl.com

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Cross Country Son

Blaise was three years old when I started training for marathons.  He would run around the living room and announce that he was running a marathon.  Over the next couple of years, as his father and grandmother dragged him from mile marker to mile marker only to stand on the side of the road looking for mommy and catching only a quick glimpse as I ran by in the middle of the pack, he discovered just how far a marathon was. As any kid would, he began to dread the marathon days.  Lucky for him Maryland has several marathons to offer the long distance runner and Grammy was always willing to let him spend the night at her house the night before the marathon and skip the mile markers and the endless boredom.  Even so, by the time he was ten he asked if we could have just one vacation without a race.   Destination races were the hardest because there was really no way out for him.  From California to Scotland to Austria he stood waiting for mommy to cross the finish line.  As he grew he showed no interest in running himself.  Boring and running had become synonymous in his mind.

Then the unimaginable happened – he didn’t make the high school soccer team.  Going to a school known for its athletics makes for a lot of competition.  As a family we had always talked about the positive effect of athletics in your teen years but most especially high school team sports.  So he joined the cross country team.  He went into it knowing he would hate it.  Knowing it would be the worse sport ever.  For Blaise, no ball equals no fun.

The first week he walked around on tired legs and complained about being hungry every minute of every day.  Everyday I heard the same complaints.  It was too hot, too hard and no fun, until suddenly I didn’t hear it anymore.  Suddenly I heard about other kids who needed a ride home.  My car was filled with stinky, sweaty high school cross country runners, half-heartedly complaining about that day’s run.  But I also heard them talking about my son being at the front of the pack, about my son running the longer distances and I realized he was enjoying himself.

The first race was at a farm donated for the event by a local parent.  Through the cornfields and over the cow patties, around the barn and through the small copse of trees, six teams would compete in an official 5K cross country race.  It was the first day in team uniform.  The soccer players, who stood out among the crowd because of the whites at the top of there legs, complained of feeling naked in the short shorts and scanty tops.  The same kids who stood beside a soccer pitch with total ease showed signs of nerves as they waited for their race to be called.

But I stood there waiting – waiting to see my son start his first long distance race.  The gun sounded and the runners headed in one direction while the newbie parents followed behind the varsity parents who knew the best place to see the runners along the route.  We headed to the first marker and cheered on our boys.  I stood there cheering on a child who had supported my sporting efforts for years.  Stood there staring in wonder at the speed he had developed.  Stood there until I realized this wasn’t the last marker.  I followed the veteran parents heading to the next vantage point and the next and then finally the finish line.  I watched him round the barn and head into the finish.  I cheered for him and noticed his speed increase as he heard my voice.  I watched as he crossed the finish line and the enormity of the moment occurred to him and then I watched him do something he had done for years as he headed back out onto the course and cheered on the middle of the packers and ran back again to cheer on those who were really struggling with the course.

As a spectator, watching me all those years, he had been bored.  He couldn’t feel the intensity of the race, but at that moment he saw it clearly.   He knew how his voice could help carry the others over the finish line.  I was proud of his time, proud that he had run such a hard race.  But I was just as proud of his going back and becoming a spectator again.

Previously published in The Streak – An Annapolis Striders‘ Publication

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It’s Just a Fat Day

In the picture I am fifteen years younger, my hair is short and I am the very picture of health.  I still have the shorts I wore in that picture.  They are a size two and are completely out of style but I keep them for the same reason I keep the picture, to remind myself.  I remember clearly the day it was taken.  We were hiking in Pennsylvania.  The weather was perfect, my husband was perfect.  It should have been a perfect day but I remember it as though it were yesterday, not for its perfection but because of how fat I felt.

This picture was taken just before digital cameras so the film sat in a drawer with several other rolls waiting to be developed.  The day I finally picked up the pictures my first child was two months old and I was struggling to lose the weight I had gained during pregnancy.  When I came across this picture I cried.  I couldn’t believe how I had let that moment pass.  I looked at it remembering how perfect the day was and how fat I felt and wondered why I couldn’t have been happy then.  I wanted to will the girl in the picture to be happy.

Over the years I have kept the picture as a reminder of how off my thinking can be on a “fat day.”  Sometimes it works but not always.  Sometimes the fat days win.  The trick is in not letting them get me off track.  The fat days become a self-fulfilling destiny.  I stop eating to fuel my exercise and start eating to be fat.  I stop working out as hard.  And ultimately I begin to gain my weight back.  I am afraid I am at the beginning of that cycle right now so I have pulled out the picture and am willing the girl in the picture to be happy, to look at her clothes and step on a scale.  I am willing her to get a grip and realize she isn’t fat.

The good news is that I am not alone.  Many women do this.  We seek perfection.  We are a size eight and want to be a six, sure that we will never be happy until we are and then we are and suddenly we want to be a size four.  Eventually this search for perfection sabotages all of our efforts at leading a healthy life.

Kirstie Alley was on Oprah a couple of weeks ago talking about this exact thing.  Looking back at the bikini episode that she filmed because she had lost all of the weight, she said she hadn’t let herself enjoy that body.  She had wanted to be thinner.  Instead she has gained eighty three pounds and is looking back at that picture wondering why she couldn’t be happy then.

I don’t have the answers for everyone but I do have them for me.  It is a just a day.  It can turn into two days and then a week if I don’t remind myself.  The mirror lies on fat days.  Sometimes even the scale lies so for me the trick is in that picture.  If I can remember how fat I felt that day, how embarrassed I was to be in a pair of shorts pretending to be an athlete.  If I can remember that and look at those size two shorts that are far from fat, maybe I can trick today’s Ann into remembering it is only a fat day, remind her that perfection is not the goal.  Ultimately, the goal is health and happiness.

Originally published at www.irongirl.com

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