Sunday, July 29, 2007

Running Again

Since I have been back, and caught up on sleep ( those red eye flights are a killer. Especially when you take them two days apart, it seems you never quite adjust!) I have been able to concentrate on running again.

I have decided to take it slow, but try to get my miles built up again. My right IT is no longer sending stabbing knife-like pain into my knee, but is fairly tight. As my Orthopedic Dr. said" you could play a tune on your IT!" I have been continuing with the anti-inflammatory treatment, icing, stretching and massage. It seems to be helping.

After sleeping in on Tuesday morning till 9am, (we didn't get to bed until 3am) I ran 3 miles. I am keeping with the run/walk for a while to be safe. Wednesday turned out to be a hectic day and I was unable to get out for a run. Thursday I headed out early to the track to get in a couple of miles before others arrived. I wanted to run at least 5 miles and a typical Thursday night run only yields 3 or 4. I ended up with 6.12 miles. Friday I ran 4 miles and Saturday I ran 5.70. 19 miles total. I really wanted 20 miles, but I couldn't see myself going out and only running 1 mile today so I'll add it onto next weeks goal. I did walk a lot at the mall though. I am happy to get that many miles in.

It seems so long since I have been able to run with any consistency. Injury and life have happened and it is okay. My body needed the rest. Now, I want to feel fit and in shape again. It is amazing how fast it seems to slip away. For instance, on Saturday I ran with Rick and another woman from the club. They graciously agreed to take my self-imposed walk breaks. Although as we neared the end of our run, I was tired. My quads felt really tired. I could still keep a conversation going without huffing and puffing, so in that respect, things were feeling good. I was pooped all day though. It really has been a while since I have had a 20 mile week.

This week will prove interesting. I will run 5 miles on Monday, 6ish or so Tuesday, as I plan to run with Michelle and whomever else joins the run. Then I am headed to Washington, D.C. for 6 days. I applied for and received, an all expenses paid trip to the C-SPAN educators conference on Campaign 2008 held at their headquarters, 3 blocks from the Capitol building! I am very excited to see how I can incorporate all of the amazing things C-SPAN has to offer into my history and Law classes. It should be quite an experience. Then I am staying after for a few days to site see. It has been almost 20 years since I visited D.C. and I know now I will appreciate it so much more. Since I teach about so many of the events and happenings there, i will just soak it all in to take back to the classroom with me. I will also visit and maybe run with a relocated Y runner, Amy. I am looking forward to running around The Mall and other landmarks! Hopefully I will be able to get 20-25 miles in this week too and start on 25-30 for the next!

I have to get them in because my next marathon is the Nike Women's in San Francisco and I feel like I am starting from zero! I want to ramp up without aggravating the IT, so I need to be super careful.

Let me know if you have any favorite spots I must see, or restaurants I must go to while in D.C. I do plan to sit in the House and Senate chambers, visit the Smithsonian museums, The national Archives, Visit the monuments, the new WWII memorial, Go to a Washington Nationals baseball game Sunday afternoon and anything else that is recommended or that I can get to!

Pray for safe travels and a fantastic time!

Grace and peace to you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Celebration of Life

The last week has been a whirlwind. I returned from the R2P relay on Sunday afternoon and Monday morning was ready for a week of volunteering at our church's Vacation Bible School.
On Wednesday morning, my Grandmother passed away. She was 89 years old and had Parkinson's.

My Dad called from Portland at 7:40am. He was having a very difficult time and so my Mom had to get on the phone. He managed to tell me that Grandma (his mother) had passed away. She passed away at 6:30am Pacific time. We knew it was coming, but it is still a shock.
I was thankful to being headed to church. When my first volunteer duties were over, I found a quiet place to reflect. I had just finished leading songs and felt some of the lyrics to be exactly what I needed. "Praise to the Lord, my God and King, His love endures forever. For He is good, he is above all things, His love endures forever. Forever He is faithful, Forever He is Strong, Forever He is with us, Forever, Forever."

Forever He is with us, Forever He is strong. These words are so encouraging. As a Christian, God is forever with me, strong, no matter the circumstance. He is able to provide enough grace to cover me, no matter the situation.

My Dad called again, later in the day with all of the plans he and my uncle had made so far. My parents live outside of Portland, OR. My Uncle lives outside of Houston, TX. and my grandparents live in McKenzie, Tennessee, 2 hours from either Memphis or Nashville.
I went upstairs and spent nearly 3.5 hours trying to find cheap flights, car rental, hotel and childcare for the kids. I was able to find very reasonable priced tickets without using a bereavement fare.

So, my husband and I were to fly out at 10:00pm Friday from Seattle and arrive in Memphis, with one stop in Detroit, by 7:30am Saturday. When we arrived at the airport, the leg from Detroit to Memphis had been cancelled. The new route was unacceptable as it put us into Memphis at 12:45pm. Not good with a 2 hour drive from there and the first family visitation beginning at 3pm. So I had the airline worker search for alternatives. After several tries, we agreed to a later flight and arriving in Memphis at 8:45am. At least they were nice enough to provide us with first class seats from Minneapolis to Memphis.
Once in Memphis, we met my brother who had left Seattle earlier on Friday and had spent the night in Memphis, at the car rental place and we were off to find a bookstore. My husband and I were not going to miss out on purchasing our Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the day it came out. My brother also wanted a copy. I had found a close by bookstore online before we left and printed out the directions.

After purchasing a copy of both the hardback and audio books, we were off to McKenzie. My brother followed along in his car and we made the trek while listening to Harry Potter.
Upon arrival at the retirement home in which my grandparents live, we met up with my cousins that Paul and I had just visited on our trip to Houston two weeks ago. It was good to see them again, we just had wished it was different circumstances. After a while, Paul and I went to our hotel to shower and change for the first Visitation. Oh, but not after my Dad came in with some of the BEST Tennessee pulled pork BBQ you have ever eaten. My family has always known how to eat and this was always a tradition when family gets together in McKenzie.
When we arrived at the funeral home for the visitation, I did not know if my grandfather, who is 94, had decided to have an open casket. They did for family only. I did not want to remember my grandmother that way and chose to enter a while after family members had entered. When I did enter, the casket was still open, but the angle was such that Grandma just looked peaceful. I sat with my parents and brothers and we talked about how peaceful she looked and how she was no longer trapped inside a body that did not allow her to be who she truly longed to be. Then the funeral director played a slide show of photos my Dad and Uncle had put together of Grandma and Grandpa.

My emotions really came to the surface here. As I saw many photographs I had never before seen. Photos of my grandma as a little girl, at school and getting married at her home. My grandparents celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary on June 16th this year. Wow.
Later, after the casket was closed and many other extended family members and friends came to visit with my grandpa and the rest of the family I took time to look at the many scrapbooks and items my Dad and Uncle had gathered for people to remember Grandma by. My brothers and cousins were able to remember so many wonderful summers spent in McKenzie at our grandparents' home. In the kitchen helping grandma snap beans, bake a cake, or eat until we were stuffed. Outside with grandpa digging up potatoes or peanuts( goobers as grandpa always called them) Sticking black eyed peas through Grandpa's homemade sheller, riding the lawnmower, swinging on the big swing or porch swings that hung from the huge grand old oak tree in the front yard or just catching lightning bugs in the evening. It was always a marvelous and wondrous time at grandma and grandpa's house. There was always an adventure.
I also took the opportunity to sit with grandpa near the casket as he greeted people who had come to the visitation.

Between visitors, I was able to talk with grandpa and let him know the many things that I had learned from he and grandma over the years. I let him know that it was from them that I learned to appreciate family and to let them know how much they mean to you. That i need to express my gratitude to my family. I learned from my grandparents what a Christian marriage looks like and how to be selfless in that marriage. I let my grandpa know that he and grandma were a shining example that my parents were able to follow and that I hope to be able to follow in my marriage also. I told him that He and grandma were my mentors when it came to being unselfish and compassionate, in helping others and perservering. I let him know that the lessons he and grandma conveyed in every letter or email they ever sent(which I have always kept every piece of correspondence) was to go to church and be an active member and participant in Christian life and the life of the church which they too were amazing examples, to work hard in everything you do, to always give 100%. I let him know that his life was a testament to this... having lived through the depression and hard other hard economic times you had to earn everything. My grandparents definitely ingrained this value into their children and grandchildren. I told him he taught me to save money and to spend wisely. He and grandma always expressed how important education was( they too, were both teachers) and how valuable of a tool it truly is. They always expressed to us in letters and i person, how important Christian spouses are and how happy they have been that all their married grandchildren have been so good to find such "fine spouses."

As i sat there with my Grandpa, I t was hard to tell him everything I wanted to. Hard to express all of the things that he and Grandma had given to me and the rest of my family and the gratitude I have for them. I didn't know if I was going to be able to speak at the funeral as my Dad had wished. If I didn't, I knew I had already said the things I could to my Grandpa.
The next day, Sunday, would be a whole new challenge. All the grandkids were to be pall bearers. I have never done that before and didn't know if I could manage it emotionally. I did, but it was hard. I was able to speak and say some of the things I mentioned here. I spoke first and it took me a while. I was very choked up and emotional. I cried and was probably hard to understand. But I said the most important things I had learned from my Grandma. My brother and cousins also spoke of the things they learned or most cherished about our grandma.

I think my Uncle summed it up best at the end of the service when he said that his mom, my grandma, was not in that box anymore. That was just a used up body, a bunch of bones that she wanted out of anyway. Ernestine, wife, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, and friend was with her savior Jesus Christ, free of her illness and laughing and that she had chosen that she would spend eternity in heaven as a small child. She lived her life waiting on God, following Christ's example, going where He led, sharing His love and compassion, teaching others and mentoring others to do the same. My Uncle concluded with,"and there is nothing more she would want than to see you there with her someday."

It was a beautiful celebration of my Grandmother's life and the legacy she provided for her family and community, for anyone she met. I hope something of her here has touched you too.

Grace and peace to you.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rainier To Pacific Relay

What's become an annual tradition for myself and the Y run club is as unpredictable as the weather! For our third relay, I was for the third time in the 2nd van. I was apprehensive about this as I really had wanted to be in the first van due to the timing. It was more of a regular schedule. But this year, with the addition of a twelfth leg and a 9am start time, these timing issues worked themselves out for both vans.

Some of our beautiful van decoration!

Just home from a trip to Texas to visit family and rest to hopefully heal up my knee issues, I was also apprehensive about running. A pre-relay run on Thursday improved my hopes for a pain free relay. I was able to run 4.65 miles with a run/walk painfree. I felt ready to go

Eric, Michelle, Rob and Steve picked me up and we were ready to head up to meet Van #1 at the first van exchange. We were lucky enough to meet up with Annette and Kristina, both from the blogosphere. We had a nice relaxing wait in the warm sunshine and cool shade before our exchange. We spent the time decorating the van and preparing our gear for our legs.

At about 1:30-2:00pm we were off. George K, in the first van had created a time chart with every one's paces and ETA's. Rob was assigned a 6:30 pace and he was determined to meet it! I believe he did too! I was assigned a pace closer to my normal pace of about 8:30, but I knew I didn't want to run that fast with my knee. I had already decided I was going to try and keep a 10:00 minute pace while running and the just power walk on my walk breaks.

The bloggers!

Rob handed off to me and I took off. My Garmin hadn't really set because i turned it on in The Yeti (our Expedition). So i turned it off and had to let it find the satellite while I was running. I had to guess at how long I had been running in order to take my walk break. After the first break, I had the satellite and could track my distance and pace. The plan was to run a half mile and walk 2 minutes. I realized I was running way under the 10:00 minutes I wanted and tried to slow down. It was difficult. My run felt really good. I was so happy to be running. The hardest parts were the hills. I haven't run much since the Tacoma City Marathon because of my knee and sprained ankle. I didn't want to overdo it. The temperature was also a challenge. Somewhere in the mid 80's. It felt HOT!

Steve cools down before his first leg into Yelm where he beats the van to the exchange.

Michelle cools off on her leg, with George C from van 1 cheering in the background.

Emily from Van 1, Me, and Rick all matchy matchy. Perils of all of us participating in the same events!

After Michelle's run, we headed to dinner in a rural area at a place called "The Red Barn." Here the waitress thought Michelle was crazy for asking if the had veggie burgers, and where most of Van #2 ordered normal hamburgers and Rob, our larger than life, out of this world, fearless trailblazer, ordered the "Mound" bacon cheeseburger Deluxe!



Watching Rob eat this burger was quite an experience!

I'll let you ask him about it!

After our beautiful meal, we decided to digest in Elma, where there is a high school that lets you sleep in their wrestling room, or in your vehicle etc... Problem was, it was like 6:30pm! We tried to rest, lay down and just talk, but it was too difficult to sleep. Here was the only major issue we had with the relay. The supposed layover. We debated among ourselves about taking it, and decided we must. We are people with integrity. So we did. First though, we had to take Rob to his first leg, then come back to the school for the 1 hour layover, then it would be my leg. Rob's dinner was trying to get the best of him, so we had to encourage him a little to be his old self. Along his leg, Michelle and I were his cheerleaders with bright green glowsticks as our pompoms. Rob came in even faster than his first leg, the Mound didn't get him after all!

After the layover, Rob ran my leg with me. He wanted more miles and the company was great. After all, I did have to run past a cemetery at 12:30am! I bumped up my run/walk ratio to .60 mile,two minute walk. It was hard to keep track while talking and paying attention to the dark road. I did kick what felt like a railroad tie along the road and just catch myself from falling flat on my face. I was glad Rob was there. If I was hurt, my van had already passed me. The next runner would have found me! This leg felt great. Rob and I ran slow. I kept my 10:00minute pace. We just talked and kept it easy. Lots of people passed us though. People who's teams did not take their layover.

The night legs went well and were fun. The night air wakes you up and refreshes you. Again, we had a snafoo with the Steve/Michelle hand off. Somehow, we missed Steve run past us. We thought it was because we were all looking for his waterbottle, but he said that he said hey to Eric as he ran past him. So, we went to look if he missed the tune and was running on the freeway. We didn't think this could happen, so we went to the exchange and there he was waiting for us! We don't know how we missed him the little speed demon! By the time Rick had run his leg, it was near 3:30am and I was getting very sleepy. We headed to the next van exchange and tried to sleep for a couple of hours. I had planned to sleep outside, but decided to stay in the van. I left my earplugs above the van in the box and had to manage without them. That is difficult as I listened to Rick snore in the back, and Michelle's stomach right behind me! Her stomach was growing at me I swear! I think I managed about an hour and a half. Every time a van would pull in, I'd wake up and make sure they didn't run over Rob, Eric and Steve who were outside. This didn't help my sleeping. When it was 6am and time to roll, I had to drink a Starbucks doubleshot and a mocha frappacino just to wake up!
It worked! The coffee was just what I needed to get going. We decided that Steve and I would trade legs for our third run. Mine was labeled hard and his was easy. I had run his leg before and I knew it was easier than what I was supposed to run. Even though the "hard" label should have been a "moderate." So that's what we did.

Rob started out with a 2 mile uphill and then down and handed of to Eric again. At that time, Rob was done and broke out his favorite running food, Raspberry filled powdered donuts.

Contemplating and worshipping the jelly donut, and then stuffing face with the jelly donut!

Somewhere during this time, Steve and Rick were providing aide to Eric and Rob decided he would also provide aide to Eric, in the form of a raspberry filled jelly donut..... here is the hand off

and here, a mile or so down the road is the frightening aftermath! Try to click on and enlarge this photo for the full effect! I am sure Eric scared away some of the competition with this one and gained us a few extra minutes!

I ran after Eric and had a great final leg. I felt good and decided to change my run/walk plan yet again. I did 1 mile run and 1 minute walks and would go back to the original if I needed to. I felt good and decided to run at a faster pace too. It felt like old times. I tagged Michelle this time and I did not beat her to the exchange! She had a record breaking run and you should visit her blog to read all about it! Rick brought us in with his first time run on the beach. Rob gave him a pep talk and told him if he ran in 45 minutes we could beat 24 hours! Rick did not let us down!

Rick ran well and we came in under 24 hours! We were very happy! Another mix up with our first van and they missed us at the finish. We'll have to get together for a group shot of all of us and then I'll post a complete group. For now, here we are under the finish line in Ocean Shores, Wa.
We had a fantastic time along the course and after the finish. We spent the night at Rob's family beach house and watched some old school running movies for inspiration. We ate and ate and ate. In the morning we went for a run on the beach. I'll leave you with this dancing starfish, a tribute to Rob. Maybe someday he'll tell you about it, maybe someday he'll share his dance. Then again, maybe it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. :)
Thanks Van #2 for a spectacular time. Van #1, you are not too shabby yourselves!

Grace and peace to you.