Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.


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The race not run

I spent last weekend in a small town a couple of hours away at the home of a friend.  Once upon a time I would have called her one of my running buddies…but I haven’t been running in two years so I guess now we’re just regular friends.  Friends who happen to get together for running events.

A year ago she did a half marathon that sounded like a lot of fun and I vowed that by this year I’d be in shape to do it with her.  And I was moving along toward that goal, up to six miles, when I messed up my knee.  So though I was registered to participate in the event this year, after spending most of August and September sitting around with ice on my knee I was in no shape to run.

But I didn’t miss out entirely!  Three of our little band of four actually DID run the half marathon on Sunday.  I went with them to the spaghetti dinner the night before, spent the night at our “runners slumber party” and got up early to see them off the next morning.  Then the husband of one of the runners and I went out to eat breakfast while they ran the race.

Doesn’t seem a bad thing does it!  And it wasn’t.  It was great to see everyone, to talk about old races we had done, to plan some races for the future (because FOR SURE by next year I’ll be back on track!) and generally support each other in our attempts to foil the aging process as we keep active.

The race itself was small, but beautiful. It ran through the streets of a quaint, Norman Rockwell type town for a mile…

…then most of the rest of it was along a rails to trails path that ran past ponds and colorful trees, farms and open fields.

I got to walk some of it, and kept myself busy taking photographs of the beautiful scenery, including the current header picture, as I waited for the front runners to come back by on their out and back race.

So this old runner had a good time, even though I didn’t get to run the race.  Running can be a solitary sport.  Or it can be a sport that brings solitary people together in celebration of good health and friendship.

Great job ladies!  You’re all my heroes!


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Knee strategy

I’m going into my fourth week of knee issues now.   It seems to be getting better as I rest it, ice it, compress it, elevate it.  You know…the mantra of any sporting person….RICE.  I called my doctor’s office last Friday to see if I could get an appointment this week.  Turns out he’s busy all week, and all they could offer me was to have me call at 8:30 this morning and see if I could get in.  I couldn’t even get past the busy signal.

Meanwhile this morning the knee feels almost 100%.  I even took Katie out for a bit of a walk around the neighborhood to see if I could get it to hurt again.  Nada.  So I went back online to see what I could figure out.  Perhaps I have tendinitis, an overuse injury that just takes time and care to heal.  That makes sense as I can’t pin my knee pain to a specific event, as people with tears in their MCL or meniscus usually can.  If it really is just tendinitis I’m already doing everything there is to do to make it better.  And it is getting better.

So, though I haven’t reached my doctor yet I’m feeling a bit better about the prospects of being able to walk around a grocery store without ending up with ice on the knee.  Maybe someday I’ll even be able to take a walk that is longer than six blocks.  If I’m careful.

I’m registered to do a half marathon in October.  I guess that isn’t going to happen as I’m unable to train, and should already be up to running 10 miles or so.  I can’t even walk one at the moment.

Maybe I’ll just go and cheer everyone else on.

Sigh.


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The end of the race

Eventually I did get to the finish line of my 8K run/walk Saturday at the Crim Festival of Races.  What a relief!  But still, I felt pretty good other than my knee.  It takes a LOT of people and a lot of work to put these races on for us.  Just at the finish line alone there was an orchestrated effort to keep us comfortable.

There was the woman with the towels that had been soaking in ice water…

…and the volunteers handing out medals for the ten mile finishers.

The tables loaded down with fruit…

…and water….

….and sports drinks.

Volunteers were handing out popsicles which were just the ticket.  I got the orange one, my favorite!

People were all around talking about their race, and these little girls were being interviewed about their Teddy Bear Trot for the local TV station.

But eventually most of us ended up like this:

And probably most of us, at least those of us that are not elite runners have spent today sitting around with our feet up.

I certainly have!


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The Crim and Special Olympics

Last night I had a pre-race dinner with three running friends.  We all ran the “Crim,” a fundraiser for Special Olympics, this morning.  More on our race later.  As we ate  our pasta dinner yesterday evening we heard cheering out on the street and a high school band playing.  We made it outside in time to see many of the Special Olympians running their races.

You see, the Crim Festival of Races is a big deal here in Southeast Michigan.  It’s been going on for over 30 years and has grown to include the 10 mile road race, an 8K (5 miles), a 5K (3.1 miles) and a family walk as well as a Teddy Bear Trot for the little ones; all on Saturday morning.  Friday evening the Special Olympians run their own races and I have to say it’s hard to keep from crying as you watch them run or walk.  Most of them are grinning from ear to ear, and the crowd cheers for everyone.  It reminds me of a quote I read in some running book years ago.  Something like “how many middle aged folks get to do anything where people line up and cheer you on?”  That’s why we run, and that’s why they run too.  We’re not so different.

Generally I run the 10 mile race.  But these past couple of years I’ve been injured.  This year I had great hopes of being back on the 10 mile course, with it’s unweildy hills, fraternities offering beer, neighborhoods cheering, gospel choirs singing..well…you get the picture.  But two weeks ago while training I did something bad to my knee and even though I’ve stayed off of it, have iced it and heated it and massaged it, it’s still painful.  So I “downsized” to the 8K figuring I could walk 5 miles and I’d still get to see much of the course and enjoy the amazing support from the families, musicians and other runners out there.

The wheelchair racers headed off at 7:30  Then it was time for the over 10,000 runners and walkers doing the 10 miles to start.  Ten thousand runners is an amazing sight and it made me sad not to be out in that massive crowd waiting for the gun to go off.

By the time I saw the 10 milers off and got back to the finish line 3 blocks away the wheel chair racers had already completed their 10 hilly miles!  Talk about speedy!!

Those of us doing the 8K got started at 9:30.  It was a wonderful day for a road race!  Cool and sunny.  Perfect.  We had lots of support along the way, from the preacher type urging us on…

…to the cheerleader girls shouting for us to rally on our way up a hill.

There were the frat boys offering Crispy Creams…

and families with small children providing water.

There were singers and musicians along the way like this saxophone quartet…

…and a family that every year beats a rhythm on buckets for the entire time (hours and hours) that runners and walkers are going by.

I felt pretty good most of the way…

…until the middle of mile 4.  Then the knee started to give me trouble.  But I found that it hurt less if I was running, so I tried to run as much as I could.  Too bad I hadn’t TRAINED to be running!

Here are a couple of amusing photos…first the back of one woman’s shirt that made me laugh…

…and second, a beautiful little old lady, standing alone ringing a cowbell for us as we ran by…

…and a little old man playing his accordion as he walks down the sidewalk!

And then I was at the finish!  This is already too long…so I’m going to post the finish line pictures tomorrow!    Suffice it to say I made it, bad knee and all…and it was a wonderful day.


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Ants, 38 seconds, and goal achieved.

This morning when Katie and I went out to do her business I noticed this.

It looked like my husband had spilled a bit of peat while he was planting trees yesterday.  I didn’t think much about it.  But it isn’t peat.  Can you think what else it might be?  Does a closer picture give you a better idea?

I didn’t think so.  I’d need a close up lens on my little point and shoot camera for you to really see what this is.

It’s tiny tiny tiny red ants!  I don’t know what they’re doing, but they seem intent on doing it together.

After Katie finished doing her business I went out for a 4 mile run/walk.  I’m working back from an injury that occurred almost two years ago.  It’s hard.

My rules for this run/walk were simple.  Run a minute, walk a minute.  I allowed myself to run longer than a minute if I felt good, but never less than a minute.  And walks were never ever longer than a minute.  Those of you that have done sits and downs in dog obedience know how long a minute can be.  I have it from a very authoritative source (me) that 38 seconds feels like a minute.  I glanced at my watch at least once every minute for 54 minutes during the run…and often the first glance showed that only 38 seconds had gone by when I thought for sure it had been at least a minute!

Aside from the normal red winged black birds that circled my head when I ran through the swamp I also got to see a swimming muskrat, and munching young groundhog, a couple of chipmunks scurrying across the road, a giant crow jeering (ahem..cheering) me on and a myriad of other birds flitting across the road in front of me.

The morning was misty, cooler than it’s been, gray skies.  Just a touch of rain falling gently on the back of my neck.  So peaceful.  Except for my labored breathing.  Four miles seemed longer than it did years ago.  During mile 3 I began to realize that most of my energy was being expounded moving me up and down rather than efficiently moving me forward.  I tried to lengthen my stride, an attempt to get home sooner rather than never.  But as a car approached and I began to move off the white line of pavement that I’d been running on I realized it was taking me five steps just to get both feet on the shoulder.  Obviously my stride hadn’t lengthened at all!  LOL

Turning into my subdivision, 3/10 of a mile to go to my driveway, I was relieved but also hot and smelly.  My right knee was beginning to twinge, and I was pretty sure I had a blister on my left little toe.   But the mist was cool on my face, and I knew I was going to reach my goal.  Eventually.  I ran the last three minutes home, because it was downhill.

And because I could.


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Katie and her Mom reboot

Well I probably over reacted to Katie’s shutdown last night.  Today she seems pretty normal.  We went on a walk in the subdivision, something we hardly ever do, as I prefer taking her to a park where I don’t have to worry about cars.  But this morning I wanted to do something fun and quick and easy; something with which she had no associated fears.

She was happy happy happy to go for a walk!  We moved along and I said a lot of “Leave it! Let’s go!” which worked fine, just like in school.  Once in awhile, maybe a total of three times I brought her in closer to me and we did a one step heel and sit, which she did with only a tiny bit of hesitation.  She didn’t want the treats I brought with me –  not a high enough quality for the princess you know.  Treat refusal is also a sign she’s a bit anxious, but she did what I asked and I gave her lots of praise, and more importantly let her go sniff a mailbox post or two as a reward.  Then we’d be off again.

After her walk I went out for a 3 mile run/walk.  It was hot.  But it went well. This is the longest distance I’ve gone since I fractured my foot in October of 2008!!!  Once I was back home Katie licked the salt off my knees, and now she’s curled up in a happy nap.

Obviously she doesn’t hate me anymore.


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Unexpected

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I had my whole day planned out yesterday.  The 2 mile run, some job searching stuff, then off to the grocery store for Aunt V,  deliver the groceries to her and visit a bit, then on to donate my old cell phone to a woman’s shelter, then maybe a bit of shopping just for fun.  But you know what they say about the best laid plans.

I got the 2 mile run in, and completed a job application for a library job nearby.  I was crabby because I had suffered a lack of sleep the night before.  I was hanging onto my plan somewhat desperately –  all I really wanted to do was head back to bed – when the phone rang and husband said it was my Ann Arbor Aunt.  For a moment I thought “DRATS!  I can’t fit anything else into my overly planned day!”

And it’s true she DID want to get together to do something.  In the beginning I wasn’t feeling very gracious, but reason overcame my illogical crabbiness.  She wanted to meet me and Katie down at our favorite park, which is halfway between where we both live.  And it was sunny out!  AND I’d been thinking I should take Katie to that park someday soon, it’s so beautiful in the spring.  So I revamped the plan and agreed to meet her.

I packed up Katie and all her stuff (you know the drill; water, bowl, leashes, treat bag, poop bag) and me and the camera and off we went.  I could feel the morning’s tension seeping away.  Especially when we crested a hill and I noticed the beautiful clouds.  I just had to stop and capture them.  Good thing I left the house early for our 2:00 p.m. meeting…lots of time for pictures!

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Then about half way to the park I realized I had forgotten the poop bag!  And Katie ALWAYS does her job almost as soon as we start our walks in the park.  It’s like she saves it up for a public place.  SIGH.  So I did a little U-turn and stopped at the bank to get some cash, then a bit later on we stopped in at Colsanti’s, a little grocery store.  It’s kind of a plant nursery, gourmet groceries and produce market complete with a bird aviary.  I’d been there once before a long time ago.  My plan was to find something to buy that I actually needed and which would require them to give me a plastic grocery bag.  Which I could use as a poop bag.  Good thing I left home early….lots of time for grocery shopping!

As I was contemplating purchasing white potatoes or strawberries I heard a strange sound directly overhead.  I glanced up and saw a large toy train chugging along on a suspended track.  Strange I thought, but then as I looked around, the whole place was quite eclectic.  Mounds of fruit and vegetables, a gift store with cute little things, pots of plants, a wonderful deli, and a train circling overhead.

I bought some potatoes, a few scones and some crunchy cheese sticks and headed back to the car and Katie.  As I stepped outside something made a terrible screeching sound.  The noise was coming from a huge outdoor bird aviary.  Peacocks!  Dropping off the groceries, checking on Katie who was waiting patiently in her crate in the car, I grabbed the camera and went to investigate the birds.

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They were beautiful!  Several blue peacocks, and a giant white peacock who was showing off.  Plus some turkeys all puffed up.  I watched them for a few minutes then realized I needed to get to the park!  Good thing I left early…

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When Katie and I arrived at the designated meeting place deep in the park (at exactly 1:59) my Aunt was already there, and soon Katie, she and I were off on a walk.  The place was beautiful, swans out on the water, wildflowers tucked into the trees, dogwoods in bloom, the redbuds were splashes of bright fuchsia among the lime green new leaves of the larger trees, huge patches of wild purple violets smudging the ground.  Gorgeous.  You won’t see pictures of this because the camera battery died right about then.  So you’ll have to imagine it yourself, which in reality is sometimes better anyway!

We walked 2.4 miles, and Katie did really well.  And that poop bag that I went so far out of my way to acquire?  We never needed it.  Of course.

So the lesson learned is this.  When you’re crabby, when you feel like you need to get certain stuff done, when you’re not feeling creative or adventurous, let it go, take the road presented to you, keep your eyes open and I bet you’ll see some beautiful stuff.

When you’re least expecting it.

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Come take a mall walk with me

funky art 055 Almost every morning I’ve been going up to the mall to walk.  It’s mostly me and a bunch of old people –  at least that’s the way it seemed when I first started walking.  But lately I’ve been noticing individual “regulars” that are walking  just about every day.  It’s somewhat like it used to be when I ran at a local park every Saturday morning.  You’d see a lot of the same people and it got so you’d raise a hand in greeting and mutter a quick “Morning!” to them as you passed each other.

At the mall there’s not so much greeting going on, but today there were a few people that locked eyes and nodded, and even a couple that uttered morning back when I offered it.  So maybe I’ve become a regular too.  As long as I’m not one of the old ones, that’s OK.

Most mornings I get to the mall early enough to get 2 or 3 miles (laps) in before all the stores open.  I mark my progress by passing the Rain Forest Cafe which has water falls, monkeys, elephants and butterflies moving in animation along the outside walls when it’s open.  Most mornings I get 2 or 3 of my 4 laps finished before they start moving.  Today I arrive a bit early and my goal is to get all 4 of my laps done before the crocodile begins to roar and the waterfalls start sending up their morning fog.

So here’s some of the people I see up there nearly every morning:

A tiny Asian woman with her walker.  Always dressed beautifully, her oxygen tank sitting on the seat of her walker, she wheels around the 1 mile loop surprisingly quickly, head held high.  No discernible limp mars her gait.  Without the oxygen tank to slow her down I bet she’d be a speed demon with that walker.

A couple that always walks hand in hand; he wears a leather Indiana Jones hat and a long white beard.  They don’t saunter exactly but they’re in no hurry either.  They’re probably my age, so they’re not old.  But  also not so young.  It’s nice to see the affection between them.

The older man with the obvious side effects of having had a stroke; one leg swings wide and slowly, one arm dangles uselessly at his side.  He isn’t moving fast.  But he’s moving.  He doesn’t look at anyone, but he makes it around the “track.”  More than once.  Every day.

The middle aged black man that walks quickly holding a phone to his ear the entire time, conducting an animated conversation all the way around…and around…and around.  Every single morning he’s on that phone and I wonder if it’s the same person each day…I wonder if  it’s some sort of illicit affair that causes him to only be able to talk when he’s away from home on his walk.  I realize I’m starting to write whole stories about these people that I see every day but have never met.

A couple of women, probably my age, maybe slightly older.  One is heavier, the other is very slim.  They always walk just a bit faster than me.  Sometime during the morning they will pass me and I am never able to catch up to them again.  They talk nonstop about family and relationships and other people.  Interesting conversation to listen to.  In road races I used to run behind pairs of people talking and shamelessly eavesdrop to take my mind off of the pain of running.  I’d do the same at the mall but I can’t keep up!

The younger woman in shorts and a Tshirt wearing an Ipod even though there is great walking music playing overhead.  She is swinging her arms and moving right along.  If I were jogging I would still be slower than her.  She is in great shape and I remember evaluating female runners in the same manner I’m watching her now.  Wondering if she got this way by walking, or is just naturally lucky.  Wondering if I should move along a bit faster.

The pairs of young mothers pushing baby carriages with their youngsters asleep.  The mothers are talking and walking quickly, as if they need to get as much adult conversation in as quickly as possible before they head back to their children filled days.  The mothers all look so young, pony tails swept up, no makeup, big wedding/engagement rings on their hands.  Women of  leisure in the sense they aren’t working, but women in reality who have no leisure time at all.

The young man in a wheelchair going around and around, listening to his own Ipod.  Working out his shoulders and arms I suppose.  He doesn’t have one of those modern efficient wheelchairs and it looks a lot like work.  But then, my own feet are hurting by mile 3 so I guess if we do it right, we’re all doing a lot of work.  He smiles at me each time we meet, one of the few that acknowledges me.

So that’s a quick picture of my walk at the mall.  I’ve got to speed up now,  I want to finish before that crocodile wakes up.


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A walk is not a run

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Many nights as I’m driving home from work I imagine myself going for a run in the morning.  I am thoroughly convinced that I will don my running garb and head out the next day.  I’m even excited about it.  But morning comes and the bed is comfortable and the dog needs walking and I wonder about my foot, and think (again) about purchasing new shoes “just to be safe,” so as not risk reinjury and it doesn’t happen.  Last night I didn’t fall asleep until 5 in the morning, thinking about why I wasn’t running anymore, and how this morning would be different.

So when the cute Sheltie woke me at the usual 7 a.m. to go out and investigate the yard I put on the running duds first.  No excuses.  We wandered the yard, came back inside and I went back to bed.  When we awoke at 9 I put the running stuff back on, ate breakfast and kept talking myself into the run.  OK.  The walk.  I decided to walk my favorite 4 mile route.

I hadn’t walked this route since last spring, when the leaves were just peaking and the herons were building nests, the horses were restless and the swamp frogs were peeping.  To do it now at the beginning of fall felt different.  The insects were buzzing, the jays were calling, the horses wore blankets, but the sun was shining and the sky was blue.  It was a good day.

Dawn 125The first mile I spent thinking about why I felt that walking somehow wasn’t as good as running.  How I seemed to think that if I couldn’t run then I wouldn’t do anything.  Seemed to me to be a silly attitude, but there it was.  I did notice that I saw a lot more beautiful things along the way when I walked than I did when I ran, but  I have to say I  liked being able to say that I was a runner.  I liked the way I could pretty much eat whatever I wanted when I was a runner.  I liked to watch people’s faces when they found out I had completed marathons.  But I didn’t really like to run.  I was always talking myself into getting out there, and I was always glad when I was finished.  So maybe walking would be a good compromise.  Maybe.

Trees 1150 Mile one I noticed some beautiful gray blue berries near the edge of a swamp and some stunning red Virginia creeper.  I’ve been reading a book about painting intimate water colors and these two would make a nice little painting.  Along my dirt road leaves, fallen from the trees overhead, had become embedded in the dirt.  I thought how these leaves, giving the last of their life were still making imprints in my life.  A lot like some people I’ve known.

Mile two I crunched along on the fallen acorns which were plopping down around me under the big old oak trees, and squished on the choke cherries strewn along the road.  I ran a bit here and there; anywhere the road was sloping downhill, was even and had shade.

Trees 1143 Mile three is my favorite mile of the route, mostly downhill, a tunnel through the woods.  As I was running under the trees, a squirrel leaped out of the woods and ran toward me.  Suddenly realizing I wasn’t another squirrel come to play, he turned and ran ahead of me for awhile, then leaped back into the woods.  Two chickadees cheered me on and I smiled at the last little bit of the squirrel’s red tail gleaming in the morning sun as it scrambled up a tree.

Mile four, my least favorite mile, travels through our one block town on the main road, back toward home.  It’s mostly uphill, traffic is nonstop, it’s noisy and dusty and hot.  I pass a Bulldog sleeping in a bay window.  Guarding the homestead so to speak.  He doesn’t hear or smell me (though by now I am pretty stinky) and slumbers on as I pass.  Three houses down I hear him barking.  Too little too late.  I climb the last hill, a half mile from home and see two little Bichons standing on the back of a sofa, watching their road.  One is in charge and is the barker;  he yaps frantically at me as I walk by.  The other one glances at me and yawns.  I smile back.

Home again, walking up the driveway I see my own little yapper waiting.  She is sitting in the sun, watching for me out the storm door.  She is pouting because she didn’t get to go, but can’t maintain the attitude as I walk through the door.  She’s all happy dances and licky-licks.  A fitting welcome to a former runner turned walker extordinare.

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To do list

I have a whole day off, no work, no previous commitments.  It’s been awhile so I have a few things I need to get done today.  Here’s the list:

  • Go for a run.  It’s been too long since my last attempt and if you don’t keep up you have to start over …again and again.
  • Make some bread.  I have a cookbook from my library with some great bread receipes in it and a whole new concept about storing unbaked bread dough so that you can bake bread every evening if you wanted fresh for dinner.  The book will be due before I ever get to this unless I put it on “THE LIST.”
  • Wrap a shower gift.  The wedding shower is tomorrow.  I purchased the gift weeks ago but it sits unwrapped.  I need a card too.  Darn.  That means a trip to a store somewhere.  What was I thinking when I got the gift?  That I’d use a marker and just write her (and my) name on the box?
  • Vacuum.  Have dog.  And husband.  Haven’t vacuumed in maybe three weeks.  Enough said.
  • Laundry.  See above.
  • Finish reading “Reliable Wife” by Robert Goolrick.  It’s a very good book and it was due back to the library two days ago. I’m on page 169 of a 290 page book.  Being a librarian means you have no time to read all the good books you see coming and going.  It’s a job hazard.
  • Take the dog to the park.  She’s already whining and it’s just barely 7:00 a.m.  Obviously she hasn’t read “THE LIST” yet.
  • Help husband dig up the roots to a tree he removed so that we can plant something there that doesn’t have suckers that grow up through everything.  I’m hoping it rains because I don’t have time.
  • Weed, especially the vegetable garden.  My little stubby beans are being overrun by non-vegetable matter.
  • Update the resume and write a cover letter for a librarian position that is 59 miles away.  It’s become apparent that I will be on lay off, maybe next week, maybe the end of summer, certainly prior to the end of the fiscal year this fall.  So it’s time to start looking again.  Maybe I should do this first.  Well.  Right after the run.

Katie girl, you better hang on tight, Mama’s going to be moving fast today!

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