Tag Archive - Endurance

The First 50 Years…

50

Dearest Mom and Dad,

To live with the same person for 50 years is an extraordinary work of grace. Ask anyone who has been married more than a minute. To love long is also an extraordinary gift; to one another and to all those who love you. For this, I thank you.

As this auspicious day has drawn near, I have wondered: when you look back over 50 years, what is it you remember? When the film reel plays in your mind, what are the images you see?

Here is a little taste of what I remember.

Music. Before any of us kids were born, maybe even before you were married, you were the song leader and piano player. And as soon as we were old enough, each of us joined you singing in church. It was like a right of passage. We sang in the cornfield and in the car, and for whole evenings around the piano. Dad had Don Williams and Merle Haggard on 8 track and mom liked WEZK on the radio, and everywhere there was Southern Gospel and bluegrass. Now your grandchildren gather in your living room with guitar, dulcimer, mandolin, banjo, and piano and sing like we sang. And your legacy continues…

Faith. God and His Church were the axis upon which our whole life as a family was oriented. We fitted our week around it; leaving the garden or the field on Saturday afternoons to wash and dress for the evening service and consecrating Sunday as a day of worship and rest and family. And though all of us serve God in different places now, the thread of faith still binds us together wherever we are.

Travel. I suppose I owe my gypsy wanderlust to the two of you. We grew up camping in the mountains or on the river. So many trips to the beach with cousins. The Great Smoky Mountains, New Orleans, Washington D.C… As retirement has given you more time to travel, I find myself following you to places like the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Alaska. Thank you for stoking my curiosity.

Magic. In a thousand different shapes and forms. Birthday cakes you bought us from the bakery; Snow White on mine, horses on Marvin’s. Every year. Huffy trail bikes that made us masters of our world. Piling in the back of the truck on a hot day and heading for the river. Swimming til we were exhausted, then eating watermelon and peanut butter and crackers while the cool of the water still tingled in our skin. Catching lightening bugs on summer evenings. Walking barefoot in soft earth, still warm from the plow. Watching calves be born. So. Many. Stories. Tramping through the woods to find the perfect Christmas tree. The Raggedy Man. Snow sledding. Gathering wild Muscadines….

For Better or Worse. You had a fight once. On a Sunday afternoon. I don’t know if you remember it, but I do. I remember what it was about and even some of the exact things you said. Marvin and Monty and I sat out in the back yard deciding who we would go live with if the two of you split up. I mention this mostly because it was such a singular event. In all my growing up, it was the only time I ever thought, even for a minute, that I might be one of those kids shuttled between homes. Certainly you have disagreed and hurt one another from time to time, but I have always known you were in this for the long haul. It means more than you know.

For Richer or Poorer. The early years were lean. I know that now. I don’t think I thought much about it then. Dad worked extra jobs in the evening and mom made all our clothes. But in the process, Marvin learned the electrical trade he practices today and I learned to sew. Gifts. In the time of plenty, you have been generous with us and with others. Thank you for making the most of both.

In Sickness and in Health. When I was a kid, I thought adults never got sick. The two of you didn’t. In recent years, that has changed, of course. I have watched you love and care for one another through Mom’s battle with breast cancer and Dad’s open heart surgery. A team. I remember coming to help after Mom’s surgery and being a little hurt that she preferred Dad’s care to mine. But that is how it should be. And I am glad. You tended both your mothers with kindness and dignity as their health failed. And when little Tucker was born needing extra special care, you gave him your all. I know Monty will never forget that. None of us will.

Til Death… I sometimes wonder if the two of you are aging backwards. Yes, I know that your bodies don’t always cooperate like they used to, but your minds and your hearts seem to keep expanding. Your curiosity knows no bounds. Listening to you describe your trip to the Panama Canal this year was almost as good as being there. Mom is always adding some new flower to the garden and dad is always finding some new, old fruit tree. New grand babies and great grand babies keep coming who need to ride Papaw’s tractor and eat Mamaw’s chocolate gravy and biscuits. Life is full of so much possibility. I can’t wait to see what the next 50 years hold. 🙂

Happy Anniversary!!

I love you!

God grant you many, many more…

Boston

A week ago yesterday, while my husband attended the home opener of the Boston Red Sox, my son and I climbed to the top of the Bunker Hill memorial, photographed squirrels playing in Boston Garden, and strolled along the wide lanes of Commonwealth Avenue, just a block and a half from where two explosions rocked the world yesterday.

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I grieve for those who lost their lives, and for those who love them. I grieve for the injured, some of whom are fighting for their lives even now. I grieve for runners who dreamed of this day all their lives – a dream I understand only too well – who trained for months, years maybe, just to qualify, and had the clean joy of this moment stolen. Mostly, I grieve for a world that is broken. A world where hate is sometimes nourished to a point that this is an inevitable result.

And yet, even in the grief, there are reasons to give thanks: For first responders who once again ran toward while most of us would run away. For capable, dauntless medical teams on the ground and in hospitals who provided, and continue to provide, the best medical care in the world. For ordinary heroes; runners and spectators who put themselves in harms way to aid the injured, doctors and nurses who flew back from vacations to assist, hundreds of volunteers, including marathon weary runners, who are offering to donate blood.

The running community is a generous community. Always. Being part of it is one of the things I love most about being a marathoner. But this is far bigger than that. At the precise moment when we witness the worst of which we as humans are capable, we see, in startling relief, the most ordinary, extraordinary heroism. The mark of God in us all.

May all of us seize this opportunity to love better. To feed generosity and not hate.

“Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother.”
~
from the Lenten prayer of St. Ephrem, the Syrian

My love and prayers are with those who grieve in Boston and beyond, and with those who continue to care for them. Shalom.

The Fiction of Speed

heart

Yesterday was a day for talking about love. Facebook and Twitter were full of sweet tributes. Two of my favorites were unlikely stories. Couples who shouldn’t have made it, but have.

K talked about the gift of being married to the love of her life. This, in the midst of a heroic, difficult battle against cancer. A battle they are fighting TOGETHER. And this in spite of the fact that there was a time when she did not cherish him and what they had together.

W spoke honestly of her personal hell year. The year she hated her husband. In the thirteen years since, she and he have worked to build a beautiful, real, deep love that only seasons and grows with years. They have added three chosen children from Ethiopia to the two born of blood. Theirs is a radiant, vibrant family. It is impossible to say how many lives have been changed…are being changed…daily…because of them.

Both of these women were important voices in my life during the season when I wanted to chuck it all and have done with being married. They were generous enough to tell their stories. They were kind enough to listen to the nonsense that I believed at the time…all my arrogant, petty protests about what I “deserved”. Then, they were wise enough to tell me the truth. In love. To challenge me to do the hard thing. And the hard thing after that…

There is something lovely about young love. The giddy excitement. The breathless wonder. I have a friend who is living in this world at present. It is great fun to watch. But I have come to have a high regard for old love. The sort that is fermented. Tested.

Not everyone goes through a season, like Mike and I did, where they can hardly tolerate the very presence of the other. But everyone who is married will have periods when something is more “urgent” than tending the marriage. New baby. Illness. Job loss. Death of a parent…or a child. Something that seems to take all you have. This is where the battle is won or lost.

This is when you give without demanding return. This is when you daily throw yourself on the grenade for the good of the other. This love is not sexy or convenient, but raw, and rugged, and real.

This kind of love creates a safe place to become. A safe place to dream audacious dreams. A place to dare that which you would never have dared alone. A place to be chiseled and refined into something glorious. Where life reigns regardless of circumstances.

I want a love like that.

Don’t you?

I have these young friends. Too young to be as wise as they are. But they sing a song about this very thing. I kept playing it yesterday, and reading the stories of long love, and my heart celebrated men and women who are courageous enough, and stubborn enough, to hang in there long enough, to tell a great story with their lives. I share the song with you. I dedicate it to K and G, to W and B, and to all those who daily choose to die to self in order to love well. May your tribe increase.

*Post title borrowed from the song by Lulu Mae. If you like this song, you will love their album The Mockingbird and the Dogwood Tree.

The Next Right Thing…

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~Michelangelo

The year of empty was a year of whittling away. A year of freeing. Not the beginning. It is a work that has been going on for years. Most especially the past 5 or 6. But the chisel struck even deeper this year. It was painful at times. Disorienting. Much of what I have used to define myself has been stripped away.

I am learning to hold all things with an open hand. To find my worth outside of my abilities or accomplishments. It is a cleaner way of being. But raw, too. Exposed. Uncomfortable. Still.

As I have pondered one word to give shape to 2013, I have thought much of the story in Luke 11. A demon is cast out of a person. He roams about for a bit, comes back and finds the “house” swept clean, and brings in a whole posse of his friends so that “the final condition of that person is worse than the first”. While I am certain there is still much about me that needs to be carved away, I would also be intentional about what is permitted to enter.

Of late, I often find myself feeling as though my life is an ocean. I stand near the edge of it. Circumstances roll toward me like waves, and I am tossed about from one thing to the next like so much seaweed.

I don’t want to be seaweed.

I would be more like a buoy. Able to bend with the waves as they come, but grounded. A fixed point for those around me.

With all this in mind, one word keeps echoing in my brain.

purpose

A lofty word, this. It sounds good. I am still figuring what it looks like where the rubber meets the road. (And if this year is anything like last year, there will be plenty of surprises.) But here are some of the thoughts I have been jotting to myself on scraps of paper and rumpled napkins, and the occasional morning page…

Focus. I have only about a billion pursuits that capture my interest at any given time. Incurably curious. But, this causes me to begin, then abandon, too many projects. So one of the first action points has been to identify only a few precise goals for the coming months and shelve the rest for later.

Get. Up. Early. This is one of the more odious components of the plan. But necessary, I believe. Once the household starts buzzing, I have responsibilities to my family and others. Getting up early gives me silence and head space.

Boundaries. Because my life is mostly other centered, it is easy to completely lose myself in the lives of those I love. While it is honorable, and delightful, to care for my beloveds, there are contributions I believe I am to make to the world that require me to sometimes separate myself for a few hours of undivided attention to a project or a class or a writers group, etc… I am not good at this. So very not good. But I am putting these on the schedule. Because, what gets scheduled gets done. Right?

This is it, really. So far. If I can be faithful in this, I will be considerably less sea-weedy.

Just for kicks (and maybe a little accountability) here are some of the things I am purposing to do…

*Morning prayers. EVERY day.

*A disciplined study of ancient Church music. (at least 2 days/week)

*Become more durable; less vulnerable to injury. Run (a little) less. Significantly ramp up core work. No major running event this year. (first time in 6 years) Instead, a hike. Grand Canyon. Rim to rim. To rim. Roughly the same distance as a marathon one way. With packs. But we will give ourselves a day for each direction. Mike and I both look forward to training on the trails this year.

*A more consistent approach to the mandolin. (at least 2 days/week)

*Complete all 5 levels of Fluenz Spanish. This I am doing with my youngest, and we love it! (5 days/week)

*Write. The main reason I began blogging was to keep me accountable for writing something on a regular basis. As you might (or might not) have noticed, I have been a slacker of late. There are many (pitiful) reasons for this. And it is an exponential equation. The longer I do not write, the harder it is to resume. So, I am allying myself to a writer’s group to keep me accountable for producing some sort of content, and to receive (and hopefully give) valuable criticism. Blog posts will probably be somewhat less frequent than in the past as I focus on a couple of other writing projects. But there will likely be something here at least once a week. Please pop by every now and again. Or, better yet, subscribe and you won’t miss a thing.

How bout you? Do you make resolutions? Have you chosen one word to give shape to your year this year? I would love to hear about them.

**This post inspired by the One Word 365 project. Check out hundreds of like posts (and leave your own) here.

***The title of the post is a phrase my beautiful, wise friend, Gail, often uses when one or another of us becomes overwhelmed by a situation that is too big for us. All that is ever required of us is to do the next right thing. Thanks, Gail.

Acadia: A Photojournal

Saturday, October 13: We rise before dawn for the trek up Cadillac Mountain, to be among the first people in the U.S. to watch the sun climb out of the Atlantic. We huddle in the clean, cold air as the sky warms to soft rose and apricot. Low lying clouds pulse with gilding as the disc of the sun begins to emerge. An audible gasp ripples through the crowd. I am startled by how fast she climbs. Maybe two minutes, rim to rim. Magic.

After breakfast, we head out for an explore. We drive the marathon route. It is much more hilly than we imagined. And stunningly gorgeous. We drive through quintessential New England villages with their frame and clapboard houses. We drive along the sea where waves hurl themselves into the rocky shore with a roar and flurry of foam. We pass under golden Aspens, sturdy evergreens, and maples and oaks aflame with orange and crimson. All against a cloudless sky of excruciating blue.

And I wish the run was today. And it is difficult to imagine that tomorrow it will rain. And I try to remind myself to breathe in now, and let tomorrow take care of itself…

Sunday, October 14: We wake to the unmistakable sound…of rain. And I want to turn over and go back to sleep. Because rainy days are wondrous for sleeping. But not this rainy day. I will myself to pull on clothes. We join one other couple for the early “runner’s breakfast”. They are young and precious. This is their first marathon. They seem slightly terrified. The innkeeper brings us warm banana pancakes. “It’s pretty rough out there,” he says. Yep. Pretty rough.

There is a break in the rain for our walk to the start. A mercy. We will have two others during the race; neither more than ten or fifteen minutes in duration. The temperature will never climb out of the forties.

At first the rain falls steady but easy. But eventually it gets harder and begins to seep through all our layers. I have nursed an ankle injury all through this training. It never hurts when I’m running (because my body is warm). Only after. Today it will hurt. I can’t get warm. By about mile 16 or so I am doing a lot of walking. Mike is kind and assures me he couldn’t be doing much better himself. It will be our slowest time ever. Six hours. Even the sweet young couple from breakfast will require almost five hours. We had no time goal. The real rub is that for six hours we will have no relief from the wet and cold.

And yet….there is beauty. Even here. Even now. The yellows and flames of yesterday are luminous against the gray. The sea is shrouded in a mystery of mist. Sodden evergreens drip fragrance. Men and women, boys and girls, stand in the cold and damp dispensing nourishment and kindness.

Most of all, I am grateful for the man running beside me. He and I both know that, difficult as this is, compared to some of what we’ve gone through over the past few years, this is a cake walk. So we keep putting one foot in front of another. We complain. Sometimes. We share treats squirreled away for moments of greatest need. And we laugh. A lot. And when it is over, we know today has been important. And next time life throws the impossible at us, we will remember today. And we will put one foot in front of another. One day–one minute–at a time.

Monday, October 15: Walking down the stairs is the hardest. We move like old people. (We are grandparents, after all.) We laugh at one another moving like old people. 🙂 We head out for one more romp through Bar Harbor and Acadia before leaving behind the land of lobster and fresh fish and chowder, and heading home. The morning is blustery, but warm. Sixty degrees before breakfast. Sunshine is intermittent. Sky and sea are sapphire and slate. And I can’t help thinking to myself, “This would be a lovely day for a run…”

*All photographs in the post taken on the days before and after the run. Cerulean skies are Saturday. Skies of slate are Monday. All but 4 were taken along the marathon course. We obviously did not take photographs during the race. I intersperse them throughout the race day account, in part, for irony. See more photos if you like in my Facebook album.

**Acadia National Park is the oldest national park east of the Mississippi. It owes its birth largely to Theodore Roosevelt who also oversaw creation of the carriage road and its beautiful stone bridges. It is located on Mount Desert Island just off the coast of Maine. Find it on a map HERE. (about two thirds of the way up) Prior to the French and Indian war, “Acadia” composed a large region of French settlement reaching well into Canada. The British drove out the French settlers and renamed most of the area Nova Scotia. You can read one account in Longfellow’s tragic poem, Evangeline.

Unmercenary….

He asks, “Mom, how do you fill your days now that we are all nearly grown and don’t really need you all the time?”

And I wonder…..

Does it matter? All this scrubbing of floors? All this cooking of meals? Dishes? Laundry? Homework? Preparation for auditions? The chauffeuring to this and that? The listening? To dreams? To fears? The long conversations?

I wonder…

Does it matter? This changing of diapers? This giving of baths? The feeding? The playing with blocks? The reading of books? The explore? Baby birds, ducks on the pond, playgrounds, flowers? If nobody notices, is it still real?

I wonder…

Does it matter? Dreams deferred? Put on hold. For now. For them? If they do not see? Why am i doing this? Really?

On Sunday, we commemorated the unmercenary healers. Medicine men who did not ply their skills for profit. I have struggled with this. I am an unmercenary. But, not by choice. Every day I do invisible deeds. No one says thank you. No one imagines what life would be like without them. I do not give this gift freely. Always. Sometimes I want desperately to be noticed. I am vain. I would like someone to say, “Thank you for washing my clothes. Thank you for supper. For a clean home.” It rarely happens.

And sometimes I think it would be better to be out in the world doing something that would last more than a few minutes. Something that might bring a salary. Something dignified and honorable.

Instead, I get up every day and do invisible deeds to launch my beloveds upon the world. And I wonder, does it matter?

Do I matter?

Do I?

 

We said we would start with dogs…

We said we would start with dogs. If the dogs didn’t die, we would have some babies. We lost the boy dog while I was pregnant, and the girl just after Kelsey was born. Despite this inauspicious start, in twenty years we have managed to not kill any of the children. Yet. 🙂

Beloved, I can’t think of anyone with whom I would rather share the beautiful, terrifying, sacred experience of parenthood, than you. Here are just a few reasons why I am grateful you are the father of my children…

  1. You are sane. Sometimes I resent it…when I want beat the living daylights out of someone who has broken the heart of one of our babies…when I can’t sleep for fretting… But, in the end, your quiet confidence brings far more healing than my fury.
  2. You are funny. Sometimes on purpose. Sometimes not. 😉  Either way, our family has laughed a lot because of you. Thank you for that.
  3. You are generous. You provide our children with everything they need. And, you give them your time, something even more precious. You help them understand the joy of ownership by coming alongside them as they work to achieve their goals. And, by your example, you teach them to give to others with open hands.
  4. You are tender. I have seen your heart break for your babies. I sometimes envy the way you instinctively know how to be with them in those moments. You impart peace, without saying a word.
  5. You are Godly. Not preachy. Not flashy. But always, every day, honorable. A man of integrity. A man of faith.
  6. You are dauntless. Whether wilderness backpacking, snowboarding, driving on the wrong side of the road in Ireland, or letting little girls put your hair in tiny ponytails, nothing intimidates you. You have taught our children to be brave. With your words. But mostly, by your example.
  7. You are creative. Do you remember how you used to make up stories for the kids when they were little? They would give you 3 things and you would weave them into the story. A bowl of ice cream is canvas to you. And I save all your beautiful letters. I’ll bet they do too.
  8. You like to play. Our children have been to some crazy places and done some crazy things. You help make that happen. You are always up for a game, a hike, a culinary experiment, wrestling on the floor, dressing up for Halloween, etc…
  9. You know stuff. Lots of stuff. About business, about electronics, about tools and toilets and how to make doors not squeak…and about who to call for everything else.
  10. You love without limits. The children have all tested this (as have I). It is the most important thing. When we try to grasp a God who loves extravagantly, without bounds, we have had a worthy example. In you.

Happy Father’s Day, my darling! Thank you for being you.
I love you. Always.

Afterward Many are Strong…

“You might break your arm again, but you’ll never break it there.”

It happened on the last day of Mike’s ski trip with Jake. Toward the end of the day, Mike took a tumble and landed on his wrist. Broken. They patched him up temporarily at the resort clinic, gave him some good drugs, and told him to see an orthopedic surgeon as soon as he got home.

A rod and several screws later, he was good as new. Better, in fact, according to Dr. Cook. The only joint in his body that was invincible.

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places. ~Ernest Hemingway

I know people like that. I’ll bet you do too. Heroes who have walked through hell, and come out the other side with souvenirs of grace. Stronger. More radiant. Gentle dispensers of the mercy they themselves have received.

A friend whose marriage, like ours, should have gone down in flames. But she and her husband slogged through the breathtaking pain of it, the humiliating and generous WORK of forgiveness, and are building a family that vibrates with the glory of God.

A friend who has seen the bowels of depression. Who knows what it is to be so lost and desperate you can’t even see the road out any more. This friend is now in school to be a counselor. To extend to others the help that was given to her. Beauty for ashes. The oil of gladness for mourning. A garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair.*

I have also seen those who define themselves by the great tragedy in their lives. Who refuse to  forgive. Who wear their woundedness like a badge of honor. Who play forever the role of victim or villain, unwilling that things should ever be other than they are.

What makes the difference?

I am no psychologist, counselor, or priest, but I have had my own experiences with brokenness, and I have walked it with friends. Here are some of the things I have observed.

1. Own the truth. Healing begins with recognizing my culpability in the situation. Blaming others, excusing my behavior, lying to myself are all barriers to my healing. I must invite people who know me to speak into my life. Even if I don’t like what they say. Perhaps, especially if I don’t like what they say. They are likely to see things more clearly than I can. If I cut off everyone who disagrees with me, I am cutting off my lifeline. Whether I realize it or not.

2. Ask for help. If my mind or my body betray me (ie. depression or illness)…if through no fault of my own tragedy befalls me (death or sickness of a child or spouse, job loss, bankruptcy…fill in the blank…), the problem is obviously bigger than me. Much bigger. I need friends to pray when I forget how. To get me to a hospital. To feed my family. To sit with me and share my grief. And to help me know when it is time to move forward.

3. What does this make possible? My friend Gail has asked me this question more than once. Nothing is wasted in life. But I must be willing to offer it with open hands.  There are people who need to hear my story (and yours). Maybe not everyone. But I usually seem to know. Sometimes the loss of one dream is a clean slate to dream new dreams. Like it or not, this is my new reality. What can I see/give/be/do from here that would have been impossible before?

The world breaks everyone. We have no choice about that. But we can choose to yield ourselves to the healing work that will make us stronger in the broken places.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. ~John 16:33

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. ~Isaiah 43:19

*Isaiah 61:3

Cottontail Conundrum

I gave my babies Beatrix Potter with their milk. Peter Rabbit, little Benjamin Bunny, these were our friends. When they were older, we read Rabbit Hill, a compelling story of wild creatures who hope the new owners of the farm will be generous cultivators instead of mean spirited slackers who let the garden grow up in weeds and set wicked animal traps. And we hoped with them.

Baby girl and I have watched the beautiful brown wonders as they bound through our yard. Comfortable with us. Our friends. It has seamed natural, this kinship with these beautiful creatures of God. And good.

The lettuces were the first to go. A fine stand of Arugula and Paris Market Mix Mesclun. One morning I walked out to the garden to find nubs where the tender leafy greens had been. Next was the Red Russian Kale. Not a single stem left standing. Yet I kept my sense of humor, thinking of the crusty Mr. McGregor; realizing with some measure of satisfaction that as the bunnies spoke of me in their cozy burrows at night, I was a hero. A friend.

Until they started on the tomatoes…

Black Krim is one of several heirloom varieties I am growing this year. The first fruit set on only a couple of weeks after I planted, despite an unexpected spell of cool weather. I watched with fascination as it swelled to 4 inches or so across and as the first blush of purply red began to spread over its skin. Then, one evening about dusk, I found this…

I wanted to throw up. Then, I began to wonder if there was a recipe on-line anywhere for that pie Mrs. McGregor put Peter’s father in. Because, after all, if I was going to be deprived of the vegetables I was working so hard to cultivate, I would need something to feed to my family.

I am not a violent person. As a rule.

Last night, while I was erecting a fence to save my tomatoes (and the lives of the furry little bandits), I made an interesting discovery. Four baby rabbits huddled in the oregano. Just outside their burrow, as it turns out. You can see two of them above.

I don’t mind telling you that my “peaceful by nature”, “lover of all things beautiful and wild” self is at war with my practical, farm girl self. Pray for me. And for the adorable little marauders. That we might find a way to live together.

It’s the Journey…

It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters in the end.
~Ursula Le Guin

It is good to have an end…

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” ~Goethe

I could just run. Without the races. I know people who do. Well, not many. But the race gives shape. It makes demands. It looms out there like a great Leviathan that wants slaying. And I rouse myself, and find that I am capable of things I never imagined I could do. Or not. Either way, I am stretched and made deeper and more real.

This year the end is the Mount Desert Island Marathon in Bar Harbor Maine, one of the most beautiful marathons in the United States, on the outskirts of the stunning Acadia National Park. It will be my 6th 26.2, and my 8th state (if you lump in an ultra, and a half-marathon to the top of Pikes Peak).

It is the journey that matters…

“When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I’ve discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible…” ~Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Training for an endurance event always brings understandings that I do not anticipate. Revelations. Amidst the fatigue and frustration, the astonishing beauty, the miracle of putting one foot in front of another over and over and over, a deep knowing grows. I want always to be fully present and available for this.

On a somewhat less mystical level, there are disciplines in training that make me a better runner (and a better human being, for that matter). More capable. Healthier. Stronger. More resilient. These I constantly re-examine.

This year, I am revamping my approach somewhat to honor my aging body and protect my sometimes finicky joints. I am studying the Chi running method; very harmonious with all I am learning and practicing in yoga. I will also incorporate Qigong, an ancient form of “moving meditation” that centers the body and invigorates the immune system. I am ramping up my core and upper body work. In fact, I have focused almost exclusively on this during the off season. I will run only 3 times/week. The other days will be spent cross-training ( a combination of yoga, core, weights, swimming, biking, hiking, etc…) I also plan to do as many of my long runs as possible on trails to minimize joint fatigue (and maximize oos and ahhs 🙂 ).

Nutrition always plays an important role in training. As part of my joint protection strategy, I am focusing on anti-inflammatory foods and drinking lots of green tea (and water). I am also participating in a local CSA, and have expanded our vegetable garden to insure a steady supply of clean, organic produce. I eagerly anticipate Scott Jurek’s book, Eat and Run, (available 5 June). Jurek is a superstar ultra-runner, and a remarkable human being, who fuels his running and his life on a strict vegan diet. (Kenzie is crazy about his chocolate adzuki bars.)

Running, with it’s seasons of building and recovery, creates a wonderful sense of ebb and flow in our lives. A skeleton to hang other things on and around. It is difficult to imagine life without it.

Just for fun…

Mike and I keep a list of dream events for the future. Here are a few of the “ends” we hope to lay out there in the not too distant future:

Marathon du Medoc 26.2 kilometers through the beautiful French wine region of Medoc. Wine tastings and samples of culinary indulgences all along the way. Ironically, given the timing and proximity, we have thought of pairing it with…

The Camino de Santiago de Compostela The way of St. James. A pilgrimage. Not a running event, but an endurance endeavor to be sure. And a spiritual quest. Dreaming about fall of 2015…

Big Sur International Marathon California redwoods, Stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, and a breathtaking run across the Bixby Bridge are just a few reasons why this one sells out almost immediately every year.

The Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race A total of 60 miles over three days of running on gorgeous trails in the mountains of my native East Tennessee. If this goes well, then there is this little stage race in Tibet…. 🙂

A rim to rim to rim hike across the Grand Canyon South to North in one day. We would probably give ourselves two days for the return, spending the night at the Phantom Ranch.

The Inca Trail to Machu Pichu

Of what ends do you find yourself dreaming? What might pursuing that end make possible?

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