When convos go wonky….

A friend and I were having a conversation several days ago about some of the wackier FB threads we’ve been a part of over the years.  And we admitted that as a result, we both selectively edit what we are willing to post because of backlash we might get from people.  People get rather huffy when you don’t change your profile picture to support homeless chickens or celebrate siblings-in-law day or whatnot.  And others get mad if you post links to topics that they disagree with or comment on deaths of famous people that they don’t actually like.  And in general – sometimes people forget that FB is a nice way to connect not a way to lecture people and take things way too seriously.

It reminded me of one of my favorite Jon Acuff pieces about what he calls the “Jesus Juke”.  Essentially it’s when a conversation totally takes a left turn towards an uber religious serious tone when that was not the original intent.  Jon’s piece (and the term) was prompted thanks to a tweet he posted about a bodybuilder doing pushups in an airport terminal.  While most of the responses he got were along the lines of “how funny” and “post pictures!”, one person’s comment took that left turn:  “Imagine If we were that dedicated in our faith, family, and finances?”

Acuff’s ponderings on it are exactly on point (quoted from his blog):  “I was fine with that idea, I was, but it was a Jesus Juke. We went from, “Whoa, there’s a mountain of a man doing pushups next to the Starbucks at the airport,” to a serious statement about the lack of discipline we have in our faith and our family and our finances. I don’t know how to spell it, but in my head I heard that sad trumpet sound of ‘whaaaa, waaaa.'” Acuff is much funnier than I am.  So be sure to read his whole piece.

But it got me thinking about all of the other “jukes” that occur on Facebook.  Whether or not you’re religious, you’ve experienced the “juke”.  People like to juke everyone else about finances, kids, parenting, social skills, eating, politics, happiness, depression, jobs, the economy, …. whatever.

Thus, a FICTIONAL FB thread popped into my head.  No, it’s not based on reality at all.  Other than a warped sum collective of all the realities of all the FB convos you’ve ever seen.  And no, I did not really post this and my friends did not really respond this way…..but probably somewhere on someone’s timeline someone has…..And if you are my friend on Facebook – again – no  – these are not based on you.  So don’t unfriend me.  🙂

Bottom line – let’s just keep things in perspective peeps.  And laugh more – especially at ourselves.

You The kids and I had a great conversation today about sharing and being kind.  As a result we decided to pay for the meals for those in the car behind us at the drive thru.  What a great feeling to help people in unexpected ways.  #blessed
Friend Aw so sweet.
Mom Did you get my package I put in the mail to you? Give my grandkids kisses.  Grandma wishes she could take them out to dinner.
Old College Buddy Remember when we used to go through drive thrus and not pay back in the day? Guess you’re making up for it.  Ha ha.
Nutritious Friend Really?  Fast food?  That wasn’t being very kind to those people at all.  You should have given them directions to the farmer’s market. Everyone needs fruits and veggies. Not pink goop.
Mommy Friend Why don’t I ever get behind people like you at the drive thru?  Do you know how nice it would be to have someone else pay for my kids’ chicken nuggets?
Political Friend I hope it wasn’t “Brand Name Fast Food”.  You should be boycotting them.  Do you know how they treat chickens?  It’s horrific.
Political Friend #2 Rather than pay for other customers you should have given the money to the cashier.  They make NO money and are forced to work long hours with no healthcare.
PTA friend Why did you go to the drive thru?  Today was Spirit Day for our school at the local pizza place.  If you had spent your money there, the school gets a cut of the profits.  Next time check the PTA calendar!
Mother In Law You’re going out to eat?  I thought I bought you that slow cooker and a recipe book so you’d be feeding my grandkids homecooked meals.  Tell my son to call me.
Fitness Friend Fast food??  You better show up at boot camp class tomorrow and work off those French Fries, girlfriend!
Apparently Druggie Friend Dude, I could totally go for some awesome french fries right now.  Got the munchies!!!
Clueless Friend who doesn’t read the other responses That’s awesome.  We’re all so lucky to be friends with such a kind person.
Husband Did you get me the sandwich I wanted?  See you at home later!
Fiscally Challenged Friend I wish I could do that.  We are still trying to pay off our credit cards.  Maybe I should have you take me out to dinner!  I deserve that free meal more than some random person.  Who knows, that person might be a criminal or something!
Church Friend Good job!  Next time though, give the cashier a paper with a Bible verse on it and our church service times to hand to the other car.  Maybe Matthew 25:35!
Non religious Friend OMG, you don’t have to be religious to be kind. And really if you give me a free burger, does that mean I have to go to your church?  No thank you.  I’ll eat elsewhere.
Feminist Friend Did you get the kids meals? I hate when they ask me if the meal is for a boy or a girl.  I always say “it’s a child not a gender!” Our kids should not be getting color- or gender-matched toys.  Anyone can play with any toy they want to.
Random Friend Oooo…..Did you get one of those new deluxe wraps?  They are DELISH!
You No good deed goes unpunished….especially the ones you mention on Facebook.

I am naive and I’m okay with that.

As I cleaned up the kitchen this morning, I put in the DVD of School House Rock for the kids to watch……“I’m just a bill, yes I’m only a bill…”

I should be finalizing my long overdue post about our Disney races.  I should be stretching and doing some running work.  I should be grading papers.  I should be wrapping birthday presents for Steve. There’s a lot of “shoulds” that any one could choose from.  I figured most pressing was that I SHOULD be able to find my kitchen counters.  And floors.  And island.  And maybe my bathroom floor.

But my mind is far from housework.

I’ve been pondering the last week or so of my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that I am naive.  Or I’m an optimist.  Or some combination of both. Either label will do. Because I happen to always believe that good will prevail. Always.  Every time.

The short version of the story is that it’s come to light that our county is in the process of permitting a developer and come in and build a big box store (probably Walmart) plus five outparcels (such as fast food stores) AND up to 300 apartments on a piece of property.  The issue isn’t “promoting” economic development.  And for me the issue isn’t really about “Walmart.”  I know people who don’t shop there – and I respect that.

The issue is that this piece of property happens to front on a very congested road right next to the local high school, the public library, and another shopping center.  It is across the street from three residential streets and just down the street from the YMCA and the entrance to a huge neighborhood with several subdivisions, a little league ballfield area, and two public elementary schools.  All locations that are busy with families and children. They are proposing entrances and exits (probably without stop lights) onto this already crowded roadway AND onto another road which has been deemed a “roadway failure” by the county itself.

Those of us who travel this route daily understand why we have to leave our houses 30 mins early to get to ballet or karate or church. Looking at this plan, we may have to start helicoptering in and out of the neighborhood if we want to get anywhere at all.  Long story short – the stupidity of this plan is evident to any local resident.  But apparently not to those who run our county.

Since the moment I read the first news story about this, I have been on a mission to get everyone mad.  To get everyone to write to our county commissioners.  To get everyone to call the county planning commission.  To get everyone to be fully informed.  And to get everyone to express the stupidity of the plan back to the county people and ask for them to fix it. NOW.

And yet they won’t.

We get double speak.  We get tons of calls and emails about the “process being followed” and that “the zoning was changed and this is allowable”.  I even emailed the school board to remind them that just a few months ago 11 high school students were injured when two school buses collided on this road.  The school board’s email response to me was to say “Once it’s built, we’ll have conversations with the shop keepers if necessary.  Maybe we’ll get a turn lane put in if necessary.”  Dear God, these are the people that keep getting voting onto the school board despite me voting against them each and every time???

The point being that the county’s current stance is to repeat until they are blue in the face that “this is the process we are doing, nothing illegal, and the developer has the right to do this.”

And yet I’m actually proud of this.  Because I’d like to think that my grassroots campaign to email and FB EVERYONE I KNOW is the reason that some of the county email inboxes have blown up this week.  They could have been having lazy lunches and coming up with other idiotic bureaucratic red tape that gets them what they want without considering what the people who live here want. But instead – they were fielding calls and emails that I helped jumpstart.  They even had to come up with a public statement that I think they never expected to have to research and write. Yeah, I’m patting myself on the back just a smidge.

And yet there has been no solution as of yet.  They just offer to let you talk to the county attorney so he can tell you the laws and why they are following them.  And they say, “sorry no public meetings cause this is all just hunky-dory.”  They are missing the point.

Things can be perfectly legal and yet be DUMB ASS ideas.

It’s legal for me (a resident over the age of 21) to sit on my couch and gobble up all the fast food and guzzle down all the Boone’s Farm I want all afternoon (as long as I don’t drive somewhere afterwards).  But frankly – that’s a dumb ass idea.  And you know it.  And so do the county people – I hope.

And thus I press on.  I do.  I intend to email and call until someone in the county stops telling me about zoning laws and starts to tell me what THEY are going to do to CHANGE this stupidity.  Until then – what I am going to do is challenge them to CHANGE it.

Why?  Because I’m naive and optimistic.  I’m a child of the 70s and 80s.

I spent a lot of time in the 80s playing with kids at someone’s house while our parents organized the PTA and others to protest the closing of our elementary school.  T-shirts were printed, meetings were attended.  My parents were on the phone with people all the time. They were probably in the news but I don’t remember that.  I do remember sitting in the basement of someone’s house while the parents organized upstairs.  We kids were watching “Red Dawn” – which seems perfectly appropriate.  WOLVERINES!!!!  Sadly, Landing Elementary was closed, sold, and turned into houses. Probably some kids living there now have no clue that we played tag, held spelling bees, learned how to draw in perspective, memorized multiplication tables, started schoolyard fights and crushes, and held field day events in what is now their backyards.  So goes progress.

But I press on.  Despite the “loss” my parents’ group suffered, I maintain that anyone can fight the good fight and good will prevail.  That is what I learned throughout my childhood. Look at the influences I had:

I grew up on School House Rock and learned that anything you learn can be put to song.  And that our government is FOR the people and not a bunch of monarchs.

Daniel-san defeated the bad guys (on one foot) in the Karate Kid movies.  One foot, people!

I rooted for the Goonies and wept openly when they found the treasure and saved their homes.

Rudy got carried off on everyone’s shoulders.  (Yeah I’ve loved Sean Astin long before he helped Mr. Frodo.)

And heck yeah, I’m not declaring love for Hugh Jackman when I yell “WOLVERINES”.

The Death Star DID get blown up – twice.  Sure the rebels had to freeze their butts off on Hoth and deal with the dopey Ewoks – but they hung in there and prevailed.

People work hard and get things done together – yes Laura’s sweet big sister Mary went blind, but even that nasty Nellie got her comeuppance every now and again.

ET makes it home without becoming a government experiment. Bicycles are the only way to outrun the government.

The Nazis didn’t close their eyes but Indy was much smarter than they were.  (No I’m not equating the local government with Nazis – far from it.)

Wesley was only “mostly dead” and thus came back to defeat evil and rescue Buttercup.

You can take your DeLorean back just a few minutes earlier and take out the terrorists and rescue Doc.

And don’t forget – Ferris was able to trick Mr. Rooney.  (Okay maybe not the best example but still)

*if you don’t get these references, you might have missed the 70s and 80s – and you might need to rectify that with some Netflix now.

The point?  Good always prevails.  I believe it.  I have faith in it. I live my whole life this way.  I have high expectations for people.  This is not about politics (cause I don’t discuss my politics with most people) on the left or the right. It is about the basic expectation that we act and behave in accordance with good.  I expect that people will understand stupidity and fight against it – within themselves and in others.  And yes I have fallen way short myself.  I am not perfect. But I work on my faults.  I set higher expectations for myself when I stumble.  How else are you going to get up and keep stumbling forward?

I expect that, sigh, one day there probably will be a Walmart on this piece of property – but I’m not going to make it easy for them. I expect I will never set foot in it.  I expect that I will keep pressing on the county leaders to change what is wrong and corrupt within their system.  I expect myself to keep speaking up and fighting for my community.  I expect myself to rally others to the cause and to find a better voice than mine, to find a more knowledgeable person than myself.  Because somewhere out there is a Mr. Miyagi who is wise.  Somewhere there is a Doc with a superflux capacitor to fix this.  Somewhere there will be the next leader who will help prevail over injustice.  Maybe Batman will come along when we need him.  Or maybe Sean Astin is free.

Either way – I know that I’m doing what is right.  And sometimes what is right gets knocked down – but right never walks away.  Simply dusts itself off and stands up again to fight another day.


Designed by the awesome Calmixx.  Visit his website (cyberhouse5.wordpress.com) and "like" him on FB.  He's a good friend.

Designed by the awesome Calmixx. Visit his website (cyberhouse5.wordpress.com) and “like” him on FB. He’s a good friend.



My other brain

Image courtesy of smokedsalmon / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I think I have two brains.  No, not just the usual right brain/left brain distinction that we’re all born with.  Instead, it is an entirely other brain that resides within my cranium that occasionally takes over my thoughts and actions. And this I have dubbed my “runner’s brain”.

Now, lest you think that I am suffering from dissociative identity disorder (or multiple personalities) – I am a professional.  I am well aware of the symptoms and I’m quite sure that I’m normal – well as normal as you can be when you are a psychologist, a runner, a mommy of two elementary aged children, and you are allergic to saying no to volunteer opportunities.

But this “other brain” or the “runner brain” tends to do and say things that my normal brain would never consider to be acceptable. This is the brain that:

  • believes I have the body of Kara Goucher and the enthusiasm for running of Mo Farah
  • takes over my feet whenever I am shopping so that I wind up in the workout clothes section even though I have a gazillion running outfits already.
  • is hooked on endorphin rushes.
  • likes shiny medals. A lot.
  • is convinced I will be ready for the 1/2 marathon in November.
  • sometimes dreams about running a whole marathon.  26 point freaking 2 miles.
  • made me wake up on two consecutive Sundays at 6 am to watch the two Olympic marathons. My normal brain is the one that kept my head on the pillow and kept closing my eyes.
  • takes over my mouth and likes to tell people I’m a runner even while I’m stuffing food in my mouth and pulling my t-shirt down over my belly rolls.
  • likes shiny medals.
  • gets a little jolt when friends mention that they feel like they should be running too because I post about running on Facebook. My normal brain says, “Are you people crazy??”
  • set my alarm clock for 4:50 am today and then gleefully forced my body out of bed at that hour against my normal brain’s will.  In defense of my normal brain – it was still sleeping and was caught totally off guard.
  • insisted that I keep running all 3.5 miles this morning.  My normal brain was the one that snuck a few walk breaks in there.
  • keeps skipping around in my head saying “See – you can run that 1/2 just fine.  You just need to keep getting up at 4:50 am. That was fun!  Wheee!”
My normal brain is going to punch out that other brain – after it wakes up from a nap.


How not to meal plan

I ate mahi mahi today. Twice in fact. It’s like some ancient language of dinners: mahi-mahi-mahi-mahi.  Mahi. If you say it out loud enough times it starts to sound odd.  (Go ahead – try it. I’ll wait.)

Why have mahi-mahi-mahi-mahi? Cause of a little thing called leftovers. In these sort of economic times, it seems ridiculous to waste food. (Actually anytime is a ridiculous time to waste food…) So while I have been good about my diet I have had to make realistic decisions about what to eat.  Candy – bad.  Leftover fish – good. Leftover Easter chocolate – not good.

What is it about leftovers? Apparently people who write “meal plans” have never heard of such a concept. Either I’m cooking wrong or they’re eating way more than they say. Or something like that.

I hit a wall a few weeks back and worked on tweaking the intake. As I prowled around the internet looking for just the right diet….(yes I honestly entered “why do I eat less and still gain more” into the search engine)…I found tons of those meal plans. And I’m always rather frustrated by them.

Here’s what happens (to me) when I check out one of those “healthy” meal plans:

First of all – the breakfast options.  Hmmm….on Monday you’re supposed to eat fresh pineapple with some cottage cheese and coffee. No fresh pineapple here.  Frankly it’s canned or nothing. Shhh don’t tell the meal planner.  Actually don’t tell them you’ve skipped the pineapple entirely as you believe it goes better with ham than cottage cheese.   Berries instead….but you know you’re eyeing the kids’ Frosted Flakes the whole time.

Tuesday you are supposed to eat oatmeal.  Not stick it in the microwave, instant stuff. But the real steel-cut oats. You figure to go all out – get the nice brand of oats and search the internet for the perfect oatmeal recipe that still is healthy. Discover a recommendation that putting it in the slow cooker is a great way to cook ahead.  Stay up late Monday to make sure you don’t put the slow-cooker oats on TOO early as you are sure you’ll oversleep and burn them.

Tuesday morning there is some yummy looking oatmeal …. lots of it.  And boy that just needed a dash or two or three of brown sugar. Maybe some more berries.  Even hubby likes it.  The kids take one bite and demand Frosted Flakes.  You are excited about the energy you feel from the yummy oats. And you put that energy to good use as you fling open cabinet doors looking for enough plasticware to store 6 gallons of oatmeal for the week. And then you need to scrub the slow-cooker of all the burnt sections of oatmeal.  That stick really well.

On Wednesday the meal plan calls for you to eat some fruit and cream of wheat. But your husband reminds you that he can’t get to the cream for his coffee due to all the oatmeal on the fridge shelves. You console yourself that they are practically the same thing – cream of wheat (never ate it before anyway) and oatmeal. You dutifully pour more Frosted Flakes for the kids. Then you try not to look at the gelatinous glop that was once steaming oatmeal as you put it in the microwave. It comes out okay but you are still fighting that gag reflex.

By Wednesday afternoon you realize that maybe the oatmeal can sit another day. So you tackle planning for Thursday’s breakfast. It includes one Raspberry Ginger Oregano Organic Whole Wheat Gluten-Free Sugar-Free* made from scratch muffin.  One.  Only one.  But they have the recipe to make it easy. So you figure it has to be good.

You gather the ingredients for the recipe and find it includes 1/2 teaspoon of some spice that you do not currently have at home. But this ingredient is in bold so you know it is crucial to the outcome of the muffins and provides you magically all the nutrients you need. So you trudge to the store to shell out $5 for a spice that you only need a pinch of and you will never use again. Along with a bag of organic whole wheat flour cause you’ve forgotten that you already have a bag of it in the bottom of the fridge at home from the last time you tried to follow a diet plan.

As you make the recipe Wednesday night (as the time baking will make up for the sit ups you skipped that day), you reread it as you stir the batter and realize that it yields 18 muffins. Crap. And you have already poured in all the ingredients and can’t cut it in half. Apparently these diet gurus assume you’ll be hosting a diet brunch for all your friends on Thursday as there is no mention of this muffin again in the next 17 days of the meal plan.

You figure might as well go ahead and make them.  Maybe if you put some of that leftover vanilla icing from your daughter’s party on the muffins, the kids will think they are getting cupcakes for breakfast.

You try to stay awake long enough to not burn the muffins. When you set them on the countertop, they look a little odd but you figure it’s late and you’re tired.

At 7 am the muffins are looking even more dubious. But there’s that icing you have. Go dig that out.

Unfortunately now you have your back turned on your kids.  The kids into whom you have hammered the importance of reading. Thus, they have pounced upon the organic whole wheat flour and strained applesauce stained recipe you printed off the internet and are reading it to each other.

Gross Mom. This says these are healthy muffins.

Did you make these?

Eww don’t we have real muffins? With chocolate chips?

You’re standing there with two sad muffins in hand, barely disguised under the hard-to-spread-now-that-it-has-been-in-the-fridge-for-four-weeks icing. And don’t forget the icing you’re licking off the corner of your lips…..

Mom! You’re not supposed to be eating icing. You’re on a DIET!  

DADDY!!!  Mom’s eating icing out of the container.

Caught in the sugar rush, you might accidentally hiss that the children can have ice cream for lunch if they would just HUSH RIGHT NOW! Then you smile at your husband and you don’t blame him at all when he looks at the muffins and says he’ll grab breakfast on the way to work.

As the kids dump their cereal bowls in the sink cause at least they’ve learned something this week, you lick the icing off your fingers and stare at the 18 muffins on the countertop. And you figure another morning of gelatinous oatmeal it is. The muffins get bagged up and put aside for lunch.

And by now you’re pondering how your attempt to pretend that chicken wrap at McDonald’s was the same thing as the chicken salad recipe on the diet meal plan was really a smoke screen.  But you also know that you’re gonna need to eat all that oatmeal in order to find the leftover chicken that’s in the fridge somewhere. And the muffins will have to be eaten so you can find your breadbox again. And you recognize that you’ve lasted longer on this meal plan than on the previous one!


And thus I eat mahi-mahi leftovers. They are better than chicken wraps from McDonald’s. Especially if you heat a tortilla and call it a fish taco. But more importantly, the lesson is – meal plans are for wimps. Real moms figure it out as they go along.

*Obviously not a real recipe. My apologies to any raspberry muffins out there.

**Details of this scenario may have been very exaggerated.  Just slightly.

There’s a joke in here somewhere

Couch potato meets road.  See – if even this potato can do it, so can you!

Why did the potato cross the road?

I have no idea why there was a potato in the road but I stopped running to take a picture and encourage it on its journey.  Sadly, when I ran by this corner the next day, all that was left was a flattened splotch of potato skin in the same spot.  Perhaps there’s a lesson in that too – keep moving for goodness sakes!

Oh holey shirt….

“Are you going painting or running?”

Jill is a friend who basically cuts things right down to the essence.  And she was pretty direct about my choice of attire the other morning when walking the kids to school…

“You realize that shirt has holes in it and paint on it.”

I feebly tried to retort, “Well it’s comfy…from my college days. They don’t make t-shirts like they used to. And I like to run in it.”

“You mean so everyone can see your purple sports bra?” She gave me a look.

“Hey – that’s the best bra in the world.”  (It’s true – read this post.)

“Okay….go running in your holey shirt….”

Well stubborn me did.  Go running in that holey shirt that is.

And then I came home and thought about it a lot.  The sad state of my attire that is. I am the first to admit not being the most fashionable person out there…..while running or otherwise. My sister, Stacia, would be quick to agree and would point out this has been a lifelong problem. She used to make fun of what I wore back in high school.  But then the next day she’d ask to borrow my clothes.

I finally asked her once, “How can you make fun of what I wear and then turn around and borrow it for yourself?”

Her cool response:  “You don’t know HOW to wear the clothes you have.”

So that right there did not clear up the mystery of fashion for me.

And this dismay over my attire has continued to the next generation. My curly-headed daughter takes right after her Aunt Stacia. Several weeks ago we were going out to a concert as a family. I showed my 6 year old daughter the cute little dress I planned to wear. She cocked her head to the side and said, “Well…what are your other options?”

Clearly I have a problem.

Of course as a fan of reality tv, there really is only one solution for this – somehow get myself onto “What Not to Wear”.  In fact, Jill told me the next day (when I showed up at school pick up in a dress just to throw her off) that she was just angling for a way to get me on the show. But she and I suspect that if you’re TOO eager to get on the show, they’d rather not cast you. They’d prefer the clueless-about-their-impaired-fashion-choices kind of people. And you need to be a bit wacky. I don’t suppose my holey running shirts are enough to make me a compelling fashion-must-fix story.  Maybe I just have to find a good friend who will take me shopping and clue me into the the mysteries that I seem to keep missing. Any volunteers?

I just realized anyone reading this might think “But you’re supposed to blog about running? Where’s the running?”  Okay – so the running part of this is:  I suck at dressing myself when I run and when I don’t run.  Therefore I’m easy to spot as I run through the neighborhood.  And I need to run to a new sense of fashion but I seem to be way off course….  Happy?  🙂

Signs you might be a runner

10. You jump up and down when you get the latest issue of Runner’s World in the mail.

9. You go to bed early on a Friday night in anticipation of your 5:30 group run the next morning.

8. You know instinctively when you’ve gone about .3 miles when walking around the mall.

7. There is a section in your kitchen devoted to foods you read about that runners consume….including but not limited to: Chia seeds, gels, power bars, power jelly beans, bagels, bananas, oranges, coconut water, and Gatorade.

6. There are more t-shirts and running shorts in your wardrobe than work clothes (or at least it seems that way).

5. You’ve ever considered using a little Body Glide for a day when you’ll be running around at work or on errands.

4. You have had more than one conversation with people about the idea of running barefoot or in minimalist shoes.

3. You own more pairs of running shoes than you have pairs of feet. Actually you own more than you own regular shoes.

2. You look up the name and location of the local running store when you travel to visit family or friends.

1.5  You know the whole staff of your local running store.

1. You laugh at this list and silently agree to a few of them.
What are your signs that you (or your spouse) is a runner?

I am here…..

Posts keep piling up in my head but never quite make it to paper keyboard.  I wish it wa because I’m just a running fiend. It’s more like there are too many things to do and I get whiplash from turning my head in so many directions…..

Meanwhile I am running….I am mildly panicking about Disney….I’m nursing the return of my stupid plantar fasciitis……and I’m quite attached to the rats.

New longer posts soon….Cross my running shoes….

The circle of life*

*with apologies to Simba…..

I first became of aware of the Chicago Marathon when my husband and I watched the excellent movie “Spirit of the Marathon”  – just so inspiring. It follows several people (rookies as well as elites like Deanna Kastor) as they train and race the 2005 Chicago Marathon. If you are ever sagging in spirit – this is the movie for you. Totally changed the way I think about us mere mortals and our quest to push our bodies to the limits.  Definitely check it out – it streams on Netflix or Quikster or whatever they’re calling themselves these days.

So they ran the 2011 Chicago Marathon yesterday and two stories from there hit the newswires.

The first one I saw and read has the headline, “Runner collapses at Chicago Marathon, dies”.  Words fail.

My first thought was how awful, how awful for his family, and all those who were supporting him. The heartache his family must be suffering is just unimaginable – especially given his young age and the fact that he has 2 small children. I pray for strength for them all in their grief. News of deaths such as this are often a shock to our systems. While we know we all will experience death – the idea of it being paired with test of endurance and strength always take one’s breath away.  It reminds us that we are simply human and thus simply here for a short amount of time.

And my second thought was – the headline that bleeds always leads. While I am in no way arguing we should diminish this runner’s death, the fact is that thousands more did finish the race to run another day. And my guess is that many journalists who don’t normally cover running events (or even sporting events) are quicker to talk about the negatives. We’re often too quick in this society to try to point out and even shut down the things that seem risky. While that is completely appropriate in cases of unsafe things or environments, it’s a slippery slope. Should everything risky be stopped?  This man was a firefighter – a very risky job. Yet, we don’t stop hiring firefighters. Yes, there are risks with running – just as there are risks with any thing we do – even simply crossing the street. My hope is that most people read this news and while they say a prayer for the family, they don’t leave with the impression that running is bad for you.

A few hours after I read that story, I happened upon the second “big” news story from the Chicago Marathon to hit the news wires:  Woman gives birth after running (and walking) marathon. Okay -that one made me sit up and cringe.

You have the people who think running is bad or dangerous (“It’ll hurt your knees,”  “It’s not safe.”, etc).  But then more often than not, you have the people who think runners are just plain nuts. A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook, “Why are there all these people running at 5 in the morning?”  And while I tried to explain to her all the logical reasons why one would run at 5 am, stories like this one sort of fly in the face of all those arguments.

As a woman who has given birth two times – I have to say…..WHAT????  When I had my daughter, I was encouraged to walk around for awhile before the epidural. My husband and I did several laps around the maternity ward – but nowhere near 26.2 miles – and every 3 or 4 steps, I’d have to stop to catch my breath from a particularly bad labor pain.

So for all the women out there I have to say, “Are you completely nuts, girlfriend??”  But as a runner, I have to say, “You’re making the rest of us look like wimps.” But mostly I’m thinking she’s a bit crazy. And I’m thinking that my planar fasciitis is nothin’ but a thing.

In all seriousness… each day many experience the miracle of new life and the grief of a life ended. It is the circle of life and the cycle of being human. The idea that both coincided in the midst of a marathon just underscores the idea that running mirrors life and all its joys and all its pains.



Thank you Steve Jobs.

I didn’t know that I needed a small digital music player to play my tunes and encourage me when I run. But you did.

I didn’t know that I needed apps that could set interval timers for me. But you saw that potential.

I didn’t know that I would be able to run with that digital music player strapped to my arm while it also kept track of my pace, my distance, my training. But you had a vision of that possibility.

When I was a kid looking at my first Commodore 64, you were already thinking beyond that box and what else it can do. And now, decades later, I sit with my MacBook Air on my lap, blogging about my running.

When I’m out running now, my kids can be entertained by friends like Buzz, Woody, Mater, and Nemo thanks to your vision, your capital, and your willingness to let people like John Lassiter do what they do best.

While I’m slow to posting my thoughts on your passing, the speed with which my words are read by so many other people is thanks to the fact that so many interactions with the internet are enhanced by Apple products.

When I run, I often think about those who inspire me. Thank you for the inspiration to reach beyond what is now and look to the future that we can’t even imagine yet. May I remember to always strive to go beyond my current best and beat it, whether it’s running or living.

RIP Steve Jobs.