Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Had So Much Fun...!

I went to my high school reunion, and found I was beautiful.

Also, optimistic, and highly enthusiastic.

I found I could walk into a room crowded with people I really didn't know, start up a conversation, and enjoy myself.

I had so much fun!

Well, to some extent.

There were those awkward moments.

The Kava champagne and white wine probably helped a bit in this regard.

Ohhh dear....

I hope I didn't have "too much fun."

Lately, though, I 've been walking on air.

The mean man at work barely even phased me.

I feel beautiful.

Inside and out!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Wow! Kapow! People Are Great

So, here I am blogging in the company of my dedicated team member triathletes. Feel like a square peg in a round hole, but that’s me—I take the off-season OFF—and do everything else instead. Trust me-- it is nothing but fun.

First, I would like to congratulate each and every one who toed the starting line at SOMA. You did it. Trained, planned, sacrificed, focused, made adjustments to family, work, and mental status, dug down deep when you had to, groaned and moaned for that last ounce of commitment.
(Yes, you)

Congratulate yourselves.

As they say—everyone is invited to the dance.
The kicker is --not everyone makes that choice to get out there and do it.

Pirate: BUMMER and MORE! I am so sorry about the mechanical. I would have felt the same way, but not have acted with such grace. How absolutely and utterly frustrating, especially when it was beyond your control. Having the support of so many people who cared—now that is irreplaceable. Finishing a half? Yes, you can replace that one. Loved your post.

Hartley: Congratulations on your first half. I know that not finishing must have really been difficult. Taking care of an injury is priority, and you did right, by not pushing yourself beyond what your body was telling you. I know there will be other half’s. Even though you didn’t finish, I’m guessing you learned some valuable lessons that will only make the next one better. My first was an experiment, my second was a race!

GG: Kudos for listening to your true self and not bowing down to ego or perspectives outside of yourself. You probably avoided some real damage to yourself both physically and mentally. I think what you did was the strongest choice of all. You will get your heart again and that will be the best race of all. I know you know this. We’ve both been there when it all comes together. Now, that’s having FUN.

SWTrigal: Congratulations on the race of your triathlon career. Wow. Breaking your PR by 27 minutes. Finishing in the top third (give or take a hair) of your age group. GREAT bike time. I see Age Group accomplishments in your future. Go out and get ‘em—I know you can do it.

Mr. S. Baboo: Great PR time! Looks like a great race. Way to allay the demons of IMAz. Think a PR more than makes up for the upcoming loss of your Clydesdale status? Bet you do! Looking forward to the race report.

Now, as I said, I’m kind of a square peg in a round hole. Always have been. My time is complete with hula and Tahitian dance, rock climbing, reorganizing my body (working on healthy joints and tissue), reorganizing my mind (yup, need to grind it up now and then), reconnecting with old friends, supporting my forever T on his journey through law school (YES—HE POSTED!!!) living the life of a domestic diva to the extent that I am able, cooking (a lot) and, as always, figuring out “there” from “here.”

I don’t have a minute to spare.

Recently, and briefly, I did attend my 30-year high school reunion.

There was so much energy, I didn’t want it to end

It was poignant and fun.

Disconcerting and life affirming.

There were only a few people that I recognized outright—the rest had “changed” enough that I had to look at their nametags and ask questions.

I didn’t have enough time to meet and talk with everyone.

Unfortunately, I limited myself, by being too shy to approach those that I didn’t know at all, and intimidated by a few others.

Funny enough, I was snubbed by a few—but maybe they were too shy also (OK-- I really don’t believe that…)

I missed the picnic the next day and I’m sorry I did. My sister had house pipe plumbing problems, Hachi the giant dog had to be walked on a beautiful wooded hilly trail, and I hadn’t gone to bed until 4:30 am the night before—bad planning on my part.

I wish we all could do it again next year. Really.

This—coming from the one who didn’t “know” anybody, and who had a heck of a time in high school.

The best part of all? Reconnecting and connecting with some of the greatest people: Charlie and his wife Karrie, Lisa, and Karen Q—thank you for such a warm, funny evening—rescuing me over and over again…. Mike B. (Charlie’s friend), Christine, April, Tim A., Aneeta, Scott and Denise, Iana, Tori, Nicole V., Robt T from NJ, and the RN whose name escapes me, and everyone else I talked to. Gillie--you get honorable mention.

YES, I had fun.

Life IS fragile and brief.

Make the most of it.

WOW (kapow!),
people are great.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

High School Dress Anxiety Revisited

I love those mornings when you jump out of bed, and the sun is coming in through the windows at a slant, making the room light and white, the wooden floors are soft underfoot (not too cold yet, because winter is only just around the corner), the jungle of green that you have jumbled up everywhere (because you just took in the plants due to the impending winter just around the corner) looks healthy with sunlight interplaying through the leaves, and the radio (satellite) plays just about the best songs to jump and sing out to.

I love those mornings.

Of course, I hate the Bruce Cockburn remake. But it’s only a temporary set back. And then I get to jump and sing again.

The best part about this particular morning is that I finally figured out what I am going to wear to my high school reunion and I don’t have to go shopping. Since I haven’t bought anything dressy in about ten years, and still seem to have a lot of my ‘80’s wardrobe, I’m concerned about the large-flower print filmy almost mini -skirt, but think I can pull off retro chic with my “lean” (hee hee) tri legs ensheathed in sheerness of some sort and a fitted mature-yet-sexy (meaning “not too tight”) top.
Dress code?
Haven’t received one yet.
Anyway. I love those mornings.
Now I’m off for a run.

IMPORTANT UPDATE TO POST (in honor of the wishes of others…)

The patients I work with are more excited than I am about this reunion thing. I mean, they are really excited. “Have you gone shopping yet?” was the question of the day. Hour after hour I received advice.
“You have to be sexy.”
“Wear something tight with a push up bra.”
“You need a sparkly mini-dress.”
The ever present, “With a figure like yours….” Which was nice to hear, but I’m pretty much disguised at work—lots of loose PC clothing, that I almost get lost in. Someone twice my size could probably fit into what I wear. How could anyone know what I really look like?

Frannie, the mother of one of my patients, waved at me from across the gym, then heaved up her blue eye-shadowed, bouffant hair-do'd, 60 plus year old, non-active body to “dash” over to me. She looked so anxious, I was sure she wanted to talk about her daughter, who’s impending discharge, initiated by the insurance company, brings tears to her eyes. You have to go to “Ritzy Rags!” she tells me, breathless from her 30 foot maneuver across the gym. It's nice to see her smile with the conviction of having given me good advice.

I feel like I should get dressed up for them.
Tell them that I wore that sparkly mini-cocktail dress, walked in and wowed the whole room.
I’m not sure a filmy retro large-flower print skirt that must be 15 years old is what they’re envisioning for me.
I guess I have to go shopping.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

James Quinn: The Death of a Cyclist

This past weekend, Mr. T volunteered his time to drive support for the James Quinn Memorial Bicycle Ride. He packed up his truck with extra wheels, tubes, tools, and pump, and rode as sweep and mechanic at the tail end of the ride.

He fixed innumerable flats.
He saw bikes of every age, model, and level of decrepitude—from department store mountain bikes with rotten tires and fraying brake cables, to high-end road models that hummed up the hills.
He saw people of every ability, including the woman who looked as if she had never ridden a bike in her life trying to go up Tramway with her hands in the air (?), and the man who tried to go up Tramway by zig zagging across the yellow line in the center of the road—until he was told him that if he didn’t stop doing that he would be pulled from the ride for endangering himself and others.
Nob Hill Velo showed up, including their juniors, as well as Sports Outdoors, KHS, BikeABQ, UNM Cycling, and the New Mexico Velo Sport.
83-year-old Gus the Pig Farmer came out because his wife saw it in the newspaper and made him do it, pacemaker and all.
The Bernalillo County Sheriff Department sent 5 cars, and the Albuquerque Police Department sent 3. There was police escort front, side, and back—every which way you looked.
The ride attracted at least 200 cyclists.
All riding in tribute and in support. As a way to raise awareness, some in anger and protest, and as a way to show a recently widowed young woman and grieving family how much they cared.

James Quinn arrived in New Mexico less than 2 months ago. He came with Ashley, his wife of 15 months, to attend the UNM Law School. On September 15th, he was riding with his wife toward Tijeras on Old Route 66, when he was hit by car and killed. He died at the scene. He was 28 years old.

The outpouring of support on this recent Saturday morning was overwhelming. James Quinn’s wife, sister and mother were present. There is still a lot of anger and controversy over this most recent cycling death. And concern over the increasing number of bicycle deaths and injuries. The accident occurred on a straight stretch of highway that each of us has ridden innumerable times. It’s a reminder to please be careful.

My heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of James Quinn.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Barkley "Hosts" Two of Our Own

Ok, so I've been gone for two days, and someone's been dipping their hand into the cookie jar--not once, not twice, but three times over. Pirate is fascinated. And funny! And, I can't blame her.

Meanwhile, after further reading and research, I stumbled across two of our own.

Two of our own New Mexicans, that is.

New Mexicans that run Ultra's.

Actually, I found a whole host of New Mexican's that run Ultra's.

Ultrarunner's with incredible accomplishments.

But it is these two who I want to mention.

Randy Isler is an acquaintance of ours from the rock gym, a quiet, whip-thin, dark complected man, who we see in the gym sporadically, probably when he's not running/training for an event--and when we happen to be in the climbing mode (which hasn't happened much in recent years due to our focus on triathlon).

Coincidentally enough, Bearded Cross Guy With Impact Tattoos and A Black Eye and I were in Arizona these past few days, on our first climbing trip in a year, when we came across Randy in the literature.


Yes, talk about coincidences.

He was mentioned in an essay by Blake Wood, who wrote the story about one of his years at the Barkley. He titled it: Going Nowhere Fast on Fatal Terrain at the 2000 Barkley Marathons.

Randy and his big white dog, Argus.

"I know Argus!" Says Bearded Cross Guy with Impact Tattoos and a Black Eye.

Unfortunately, Randy did not finish the Barkley that year due to a wrong turn and ending up miles off course.

He did go on to finish the Barkley "fun run" in 2001. Randy is an accomplished Ultrarunner. In 2006 he completed his 10th Hardrock 100 Endurance Run. The Hardrock is considered the pinnacle challenge of the 100 mile trail races (I don't think the Barkleys are included in this assessment) and advertises itself as a "post graduate" trail run that consists of 11 peaks over 12,000'. Imagine running over the Sandias 11 times, and then add a bit of elevation. People get pulmonary edema while doing this run. And, in 2006, Randy was one of only six people who had done it at least 10 times. Wow. (Actually, 3 of those 6 were from NM--are we crazy or what?)

Blake Wood is from NM also.

Blake Wood is a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In 2001 he partnered up with David Horton to complete the Barkley for the second and third finishes ever. They both completed the race in 58:21, just under the cutoff time of 60 hours. Ultrarunning magazine called it the most significant achievement of that year.

Remember how the RD is a s*distic mother? After these two finished the Barkley together, he changed the rules so that each runner has to alternate direction on the loop course--so no one can team up like that again. But they did it at the time, and became the first American finishers, and one of them is from New Mexico. How cool is that?

I am very impressed with these two, both from our home state.

Next time I see Randy, I will know that underneath that mild mannered exterior lies an existential, tenacious, and competitive Superman.

And I will know that we New Mexicans are certifiably nuts!
(Ok, that comment is courtesy of T, who is sporting more impact tattoos than I want to think about--now, who's nuts here?!)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

You MIGHT convince me to try it...on second thought, "No!"

I stumbled upon the Barkley Marathons when I picked up a book on Ultramarathons. The essay I read started with the words:

"No American had ever finished the 100-mile Barkley Marathon.....I had been there eight times, and I wanted it bad."

This made me pause.
Did I read that right? No American?
The race was held in Tennessee. How could that be?

I re-read those opening words to make sure I was reading and comprehending correctly. And I was. A quick internet search became an extended visit to various blogs and web pages as I read about this unique event. Bit by bit, I pieced together what this race was about, and along the way I learned some intriguing facts:

  • The Barkley Marathon was conceived in the 1970's after James Earl Jones, the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr., escaped from the Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary in Tennessee, ran for 55 hours, and was captured just 8 miles from the prison. A local ultramarathoner thought that this was pathetic, "I could have gone 100 miles in that amount of time," he thought, and ultimately came up with this course

  • The current incarnation of the event is a 100 mile course with a 60 hour cut off time. That's 36 minutes per mile. A pace of less than 2 miles per hour.

  • Only six runners have ever finished the 100-mile course since it's inception in 1986
  • The entry procedure is secret. You have to know someone who has run it before. Cost of entry has been listed as $1.60

  • 35 runners are accepted annually, based on an application that includes an essay, "Why I should be allowed to run the Barkley."
  • The race fills up quickly, in a matter of hours. In 2007 there was a 20 person waiting list.

  • People come back for a repeat--year after year after year.....
  • The race director appears to be a sadistic m*ther.

Below are links with photos and stories.

The slide show with narration and sound effects gives a nice feel for the race.

Enjoy in astonishment.




Now, admit it. Isn't there a small part of you that wants to give it a try?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Once Upon A Time, 30 years Ago...

I have been invited to my 30th year high school reunion. Mill Valley, California, 1977. Along with all the memories that this brings up, the heming and hawing about whether or not I am going to go, the reconnections I am making with friends from 30 years ago, and the ever present quesion, "what am I going to wear?", I also have been asked to do, what has turned out to be, a lot of mental prep work.

So, what have you been doing for the last 30 years?

That's one of the questions I have not responded to yet. It's a bit thought provoking, and I've been mulling it over in my mind. Not the nuts and bolts of the last 30 years. Those are immutable and in place. But I've been thinking about just what my actions and decisions of the last 30 years have created, and where they have brought me. This one is still an ongoing pondering.

However, there have been plenty of other mental exercises, including the questionaire below. It was fun to do. You might think about it. If not these questions, then definitely, the question listed above. I think you'll find it interesting.

1. How many biological kids do you have? None.
2. How many times have you been married? Not.
3. How long have you been married? See question #2
4. How long have you been single? As long as I have not been married.
5. Are you a grandparent? Are you kidding me?
6. How many U.S. states have you lived in? Three: CA, HI, and NM
7. How many countries have you lived in? I haven’t.
8. What City/Country are you coming from to attend the Reunion? Albuquerque, New Mexico.
9. What unusual occupation have you had? Does firefighter/helitack count?
10. Have you played any professional sports? Always amateur, but I did recently qualify for triathlon age group nationals.
11. Traveled any exotic destinations? Nothing too exotic. Japan, Spain, Czech Republic, Mexico, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, and various U.S. states.
12. Served in the Armed Forces? Served time, yes. Stateside civilian while my boyfriend was in Iraq during the first year of the war.
13. Worked at sea? No, but I have gone to sea for pleasure with resulting seasickness (there was a storm in the Alaskan gulf).
14. Written anything published? A poem and a tribute/in memorium—both as letters to the editor—do these count? Oh yeah—20 plus science publications in refereed journals—have almost completely forgotten about those…
15. Fly an airplane? No, but I’ve driven a dump truck, ridden a motorcycle for pleasure, and almost convinced the captain to allow me to drive the fire truck—but my feet wouldn’t reach the pedals…
16. Invent anything of significance? My life. Really. But as an aside...I was part and parcel to elucidating pesticide resistance and the mechanisms of naturally occurring toxins with specificity of action and non-damaging environmental effects. Clear? OK—So, not an invention, but elucidation of a mechanism heretofore un-elucidated.
17. Successful Actor/Actress? No, but I did spend time onstage, holding a curtain prop for the Bread and Puppet theatre in the 60’s.
18. Oldest car you own? 16 years old, 1991 Honda Civic.
19. Car that you drive everyday? Same.
20. Greatest contribution to mankind? Fixing people, mitzvahs, and being a sister.
21. Own a hybrid car? No, just a recycled one, that gets 36-38 mpg (actually, over 40 mpg if I draft off of large trucks).
22. Do you play a musical instrument professionally? No. But I did play membranophone-djembe and sabar-nightclub gigs and parties, for about two years.
23. Record or write any music professionally? No, unfortunately, and fortunately, not.
24. Career in the church? No. Dad was supposed to be a Rabbi, though.
25. Career in the Outdoors? Not a career, but I did fund my college education by working maintenance on Mt. Tam weekends and summers (built and maintained those trails, fences, signs, and ranger abodes), and seasonal work as a firefighter based out of Lassen National Forest. (Being on those trails during the David Carpenter serial killings was beyond frightening)
26. Are you considered famous in the public eye? Hmmm-you got me stumped here.
27. Since High School, how many jobs have you had? Eight?
28. Longest time with one job? 11 years research, followed in length by 8 years self-employed licensed massage therapist, concurrent.
29. Have you lived in Mill Valley all your life? No, just stopped by for an interlude, 1971 to 1977.
30. Married to a 1977 classmate? No. Refer back to the ever-popular question #2

Go ahead and grab a pencil. It makes you think back and it's fun. Share it with a partner or a friend. You might learn something new. If not, you can at least share a laugh.