Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Nostalgic moment

After a busy couple of months, I am (finally) starting to think about summer vacation. Malcolm has been out of school since the beginning of May, but it isn't really summer yet. Not really. Since a trip overseas isn't in the cards this year, there is really only one place I want to go, one of the rituals of my childhood that I want to share with him - backpacking on the Olympic Peninsula.

This is the place I think of as part of home, even though I usually only went there once a summer for three or four days at a time. It is my happy place that I go to in my mind when I need to be somewhere else. And it is the one thing I miss most, living way out here in Arkansas. Yes, I miss my parents and childhood home and all that, but I can keep in touch with them, I visit them regularly. The beach is much harder to get to - a ferry ride, a several hour drive (long stretches of which used to be on gravel roads), a hike through the woods. It isn't somewhere you can just drop in on a whim in the afternoon, like a city park. The journey is part of the experience, part of the shedding and then regaining of normal life that makes it so special.

So this summer, I am hopeful that I can take Malcolm there, to see the endless stretch of the ocean at the edge of the continent, to play in the cold ocean, to get sand in his hair, toes, teeth, ears. To eat simple camping food around a fire after a day of running and hiking and digging. To see the stars without the lights of the city dimming them.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bunnies in the dawn twilight

Almost two months after my half marathon (yes, I realize I never gave a recap - maybe another day), I am still managing to run regularly several days a week. My plans get derailed more often these days by late nights, weather, and a child who hates sleep - without a plan and a firm goal to keep me in line it is easier to turn over and go back to sleep, or at least run a shorter route. However, now that I am truly addicted, if I don't go running every other day or so my mood suffers, and I feel off until I get in another run. So, I persist. At least I do not have to do the entire run in the dark anymore, since the sky is starting to lighten earlier. I still wear my reflective vest, blinking safety LEDs, and small flashlight, but the latter is completely unnecessary for most of the run.

And the best part of running in twilight is the bunnies. This is the time of year when they are more likely to stay out later and are more noticeable, munching on lawns and hopping alongside the trail. I miss them during the winter, when they must be hunkering down and feeling cautious about venturing out in daylight. Last summer, Malcolm and I would count bunnies and pick up recyclables as we went - it was always a good day when we had more bunnies than cans and bottles. Alas, I no longer run with Malcolm, so I only count bunnies. That is still a good reward for getting up early though. As I see them, I count in my head like a cross between the Count from Sesame Street, and Mr. McGregor from Peter Rabbit. "One leetle bunny, ha ha ha." This morning, I counted ten bunnies, and almost wished for an even dozen, but that felt greedy, since I had already seen so many.

The other lovely thing about running so early right now is the scent of spring. The honeysuckle is blooming, and so are all the privet bushes. Both are, rather unfortunately, invasive species that take over far too easily here, but even knowing that, I think they smell divine in the damp morning air, before it is dirtied by cars and heat and dust.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

2017 update

This has already been a wild year, and not just in the wider world. I recently started a new job in collection development and cataloging at a public library in our area - I had been planning to start looking for work in the next few months, with the intention to go back by summer or fall, when Malcolm starts kindergarten. But this job came up in a networking group I still belong to, from my former working days, and it looked so good I couldn't pass up the chance at it. I got it, and started work the first week of February. So far, everyone in the household is adjusting well, and I am enjoying the job. It is sort of surreal to be working again, since it has been so long; on the one hand, it feels completely normal to be at a job all day again, and on the other, I can hardly believe that less than a month ago, I was a full time stay-at-home mom. Since I am not full time for now, I do still have one full day at home with Malcolm during the week, and come home early one other day a week. Also, they are pretty flexible about my schedule, which is great. It is a pretty good situation, all in all. 

The job has meant a change in my running routines, of course - no more long leisurely daytime runs on weekdays while Malcolm is at school. Now I am trying to get runs in at 5:30 am, in the dark, before Malcolm wakes up and needs to get ready for school. I have to squeeze my shower in between my MIL's and Benjamin's, since they are both getting ready for work too. The change in status is less painful than it might have been, however, because for the last month or so, I have been running less anyway, thanks to a tennis injury. During a tournament in January, I pinched a nerve in my hip or lower back, didn't rest it properly, ran 14 miles after less than a week of "down time," and then could barely walk, sit, or lie down. My foot felt odd and stiff and weak for a week or two, especially when trying to run. So much for the aggressive training plan I had been following for the Little Rock Half Marathon next month! After several weeks of low, gentle mileage, I started adding distance again and trying to speed up a bit. Now, with less than two weeks before the race, I am feeling pretty good, but I am barely following a plan anymore, and I doubt I will get the big PR I was hoping for. Oh well. At least I think I should be able to run the whole thing - for a little while, I didn't think I would. 

I actually don't mind getting up early to run in the dark, since I feel much better all day when I do. After the race, I plan to add some gym time to my routine, to strengthen some muscles in areas that have been neglected (probably leading to the injury in the first place). And it is spring tennis season, so there is tennis to look forward to. Let's just hope that the remainder of this year is a little slower and less exciting than the first two months!