What are we talking about today?

Some days have themes. I don't necessarily post something in each of these topic areas every week.

Sunday: Church-related or spiritual things.
Monday: Running.
Tuesday: Books.
Friday: Green living.

23 May 2017

The Unadulterated Cat

Dawn sent me this book for my birthday, and I gotta tell you, it's the Pratchettiest Pratchett he ever Pratchetted.

I haven't finished it, but that's because I have so many things in the air at the moment I haven't finished anything in a while.


"A Real cat's aim is to get through life peacefully, with as little interference from human beings as possible. Very much like real humans, in fact."

15 May 2017

Consistency Is Its Own Reward (but medals are nice, too)

In case anyone was wondering: training in Cincinnati and then racing in Indianapolis is a great strategy. I should do that again.

I got a couple short runs in this week, which I don't usually do after races more than 15K in length, so I guess my legs are fine. Probably. I'm not as well acquainted with my running muscles as I once was, and since that's something I should probably change, I have my running calendar laid out from now until the end of the year. Nothing major or dramatic, just rebuilding some consistency into my life that's been sorely lacking since I stopped being a member of my local running club.

Aside: y'all, never underestimate the power of other people in your life. As encouragers, as accountability partners, as friends who will mock you if you let things slide--whatever. Fill your life with those folks and don't let them go. And always be willing to be that person in someone else's life. Humans need other humans. Runners--some of us, anyway--need other runners.

I still don't have any more 2017 races on my calendar, although I'm debating the merits of Cincinnati's trail series, if for no other reason that it will be kinda like being in the running club again. Downside: getting anywhere that's more than a couple miles away without a car. Even low-cost races get expensive in a hurry if I have to get a Zipcar every time. So I'm pondering.

Today is a new day. Let's go.

Updated medal display. (Because what else am I going to do with them?)
The far right are Chadwick's finisher medals--the ones I could find, anyway.
Red, white, & blue ribbons to the left of those are our age-group medals.
The rest are my finisher medals. 

14 May 2017

Actions Speak Louder

For years, I've not gone to church on Mother's Day, but this year I'm in a "new church, new people, new city... why not?" mood and will be headed out the door in just a few to see if this delightful group of people can remain delightful on this day, my worst day of the year for being in church. (This is not the fault of anyone I've gone to church with in the last few years. This damage was done long ago and I'm just coping as best I can with the residual mess.) I hope it doesn't end with me sitting in the hallway listening to the Next to Normal cast album.

Yesterday, I listened to The West Wing Weekly podcast about the episode I persist in calling "the Ephesians 5:21 episode" but I believe is more properly titled "War Crimes," in which the Bartlets return from Mass with the president complaining bitterly about the sermon being terrible. (A thing I have done a few times in my life, but not the week the minister went to Google images for sermon illustrations and chose an image without checking the source, and it was a still from the soap opera Days of Our Lives. That was a great Sunday.) He says:
Saint Paul begins the passage: "Be subject to one another out of reverence to Christ." "Be subject to one another." In this day and age of 24-hour cable crap, devoted to feeding the voyeuristic gluttony of the American public, hooked on a bad soap opera that's passing itself off as important, don't you think you might be able to find some relevance in verse 21? How to end the cycle? Be subject to one another!
It's fantastic enough to see a character of deep faith on TV. It's even better when he or she articulates that faith in a way that shows the heart of the character. And such a heart is one I'd like to have, a heart that can stop being a narcissist for possibly minutes at a time to consider just how serious the "one another" passages (there are a bunch of them, by the way, should you be looking for something to read) are, to take them to heart and act on them.

I was a bit stuck for an appropriate image for this post, then
ran across this old tweet. So, yeah, more of this and less of the
other stuff.
Being an infertile woman in church on Mother's Day has sucked, by and large, but if I'm going to give the new folks a chance to not be sucky the least I can do is bring a frame of mind that is as much "be subject to one another" as I can possibly manage behind my overly-thick emotional shield that I must carry on this day. Maybe I can take a couple of layers off after today.

08 May 2017

Sweat, Sun, Sheep, and Speedway: Indy Mini 2017

In case you missed all the fuss on Twitter or Facebook: I met my goal time at the Indy Mini by 12 seconds, AND I got the Meb high-five I was looking for. Hard to argue with that.

The weather report got progressively more depressing as last week went on, only for the skies to defy all expectations, as they are wont to do, and after a morning of the rain stopping then starting then stopping then starting then stopping then starting, it finally cleared off for good just as the winners were coming down the home stretch and I was somewhere past mile 2. (My wave started 30 minutes later than their wave. It didn't take me an hour to go two miles.)

The crowd support in Speedway, Indiana, is the best anywhere. They love this race, and it shows--I think the whole town was out on Saturday morning. Lots of high school cheerleaders were on the Speedway itself, which is much appreciated since it's the most boring stretch of the entire race. (Everybody was talking about that after--you go into this race thinking that running on the Speedway will be so exciting, and it turns out to be the most mind-numbing 2.5 miles known to half marathoning.) I did not kiss the bricks this year, partly because I was already moving faster than I had intended and there was a line, partly because since I was moving right along, I was afraid if I stopped and got that close to the ground I might not get up again, and...

Because I got my Meb-five and that was all I was after. Last year, Meb had quite an entourage running with him and everyone made a big fuss as he passed, so I was kind of expecting a bunch of people, or at least a giant "Here he is!" sign, but what actually happened was he was standing by himself on the track facing oncoming runners, and if anyone looked the wrong way they might have missed him. I mean, I've seen hundreds of pictures of Meb and heard his voice in many interviews, so it's not like I didn't recognize him, but the whole thing was so low-key I wondered a bit if I'd just high-fived some random gent who was looking for his friends. (I've high-fived so many random gents in the course of my running life that it's not like one more makes that much difference.) Anyway, I got my high-five and he said "Good job," and that was enough excitement for this race.

And the sheep. I'm pretty sure these were the same folks who dressed as the entire cast of Mario Karts last year, and I passed them all stopped at the exact same bar I saw them at in 2016, only for them to somehow get past me before the finish. Again. So, Bo-Peep and her sheep ran, walked, or otherwise goofed off for 13.1 miles, and I must have been more zoned than I thought to have missed a herd of sheep going by me in the final two miles. They were definitely having more fun than I was.

After spending the first five miles telling myself to slow down, only to look back down at my watch a minute later and seeing that I'd sped up again, I finally went with whatever my legs wanted to do knowing that I could always walk later if I ran out of steam. Except I got to mile 11 and was like, "No way am I stopping now." Y'all, Runner Su is back, and this time I hope she's back to stay instead of dropping in for a few miles and then disappearing again. I've missed her. I'm pretty sure my celestial running buddy was by my side, too, as he usually is.

The end result was an overall pace of 12:34/mile, which would have made Past Su lay on the floor and cry but is freaking flying for 2017 Su. My final time was 2:44:48, which is 20 minutes faster than 2016. Not only will I take it, my feet have barely touched the floor since I crossed the finish line.

For now, I have no races to train for (although I have a Cincinnati race calendar open right this minute--Cincy has a trail series!--so that won't last long), and there's no telling when I'll run 13.1 again. Maybe not until the Flying Pig a year from now. But (barring something really awful happening) this will certainly not be my last one.

07 May 2017

Finding a Family

I'm away from what is rapidly becoming my beloved church home (right now it's just my really really really like a lot church home, which takes a lot longer to say) this morning, and reflecting on something Keely and I talked about earlier this week: What is church?

She's going through the same fun-fun finding a new church thing that I just finished. (We've been doing things at more or less the same times for at least 15 years now. Not on purpose--it just happens.) Through our conversation, my phone was buzzing with "mouse updates"--someone at church was having some unwanted critter problems last week and regaling a couple of us with the more hilarious details. So, naturally, when Keely asked, I said, "People who will willingly read each others' mouse updates." She said, "That's a really good definition."

I spent half an hour this morning
swearing at my phone and the
Flying Pig Marathon, trying to
get the runner tracking to work.
After all, it's only fair for me to also
track my running friends in return
for all the kind texts and tweets.
And I like that it is. I'm sure there are many folks with so many support networks that all they're looking for from church is the encouragement from the Sunday morning gathering. If that's you, fantastic. On you go.

If it's not, for those who are looking for more than that, then "what is church?" is the question we have to ask ourselves, perhaps several times. I was not specifically looking for people who would send me congratulatory texts after I finish a half marathon, or their mouse updates, or suggestions for the best places to ride a bike, but that's what I found once I found a church family that was kind and welcoming and not weird about me being widowed with no children. (It's remarkably sad how many church folks are weird about that. More the "no children" than the "widowed", but still.) What is church for you?

The church I'm visiting this morning is the church I grew up in, and once upon a time they were my people, but I can feel the years between us when I visit. Some of them still see the kid they once new, which is only natural. Some of them still say, "Oh, Billy and Denise have a sister?" every time they see me, as though I'm one of The Silence. Some of them are every bit the delightful folks they've been my whole life. I'm happy to seem them on every visit, but I readily admit I'll be happier to be back at Echo next Sunday.

Because they're church for me.

05 May 2017

Tired Shoes

On the eve of my ninth half marathon (remember that time I said I wasn't that into the half marathon thing? I changed my mind about that in a hurry), let's talk shoes.

I've been very fond of these shoes, but it's time to meet
their replacement. Today at the Indy Mini expo, I hope.
Shoes are tricky, because they're easily the most expensive and the most complicated part of any runner's gear--they have so many kinds of materials in their construction, after all--yet their useful life as running shoes is pretty short (between 500-1000 miles, although most experts will caution that you start playing with fire if you push it to the higher end of the range). I can generally tell when my shoes need replacing by how my feet and ankles feel--when they start getting weird pains, I change out my shoes, which for me is usually around 700 miles.

But what to do with them? The landfill is a terrible option, but thrift stores won't always take slightly-broken shoes with open arms, either. Planet Aid will send them to developing countries, Nike will upcycle them into tracks and other cool things, and some gardening types (hey, that's me!) will use them as planters for a couple seasons. I've also occasionally unloaded them onto friends who don't mind free, slightly-used shoes, especially when Mizuno goes a bit crazy and makes my preferred shoe model in pink, as they do from time to time. Ugh, no way will I downgrade those to my everyday shoes. It's bad enough having to wear pink while running.

As with pretty much everything, shoe recycling/reusing takes a bit of thought and maybe some time to research good options, but there's almost certainly something that can be done with your old shoes besides tossing them. 

03 May 2017

A Year in a Life

Y'all. Look what the 5th Avenue Theatre posted for my birthday!



I didn't even get out of bed this morning before I watched it. So fantastic. Bea Corley looks to be a brilliant Mary Lennox. Seattle friends, go see this NOW because it's your last chance!

Anyway. This isn't supposed to be a Secret Garden post. So the day I've been not-looking-foward-to for two years has arrived... I've reached the age that Chadwick got to but never got past.  On my 36th birthday, which was the last we would spend together, he and I talked about the weird feeling I had about arriving, healthy and whole and with every expectation of seeing 37, at the age at which my beloved uncle had died. And then it was less than a year before Chadwick was gone, too, despite his expectations (and indeed, eagerness--he was a bit of an odd one, my Chadwick) of seeing 40. I suppose you could say the death rate is still going strong at 100%.

Thanks, Google.
So I don't know how I feel about it today. My coworker whose office I share (even after three months, I still think of it as her office) also just not-celebrated a birthday, and we've talked a bit the the past week about neither of us really feeling the spirit of getting another year older. I feel, as I always do on this day, the weight of the legacy of sharing my birthday with a grandfather I can't remember (he would have been 85), the joy of a baby cousin who I don't see nearly often enough who now shares this birthday, too (I've lost track of how old she is), and a special kinship with a couple other beloved birthday buddies. (Okay, so one of them is Dulé Hill, who technically isn't "beloved" since he's a complete stranger I just admire when I see his work on TV, but the other one is a high school classmate who welcomed me back to Greenfield last summer with literal open arms and is beloved enough for both herself and a random celebrity, with some left over.)

That paragraph kind of got away from me a bit. I'm leaving it.

But there's an extra weight this year, that at some point in the next few months I'm likely going to cross what was Chadwick's finish line and have to keep going. He woke up in the arms of Jesus before he could get to the magical milestone he was so excited about, the one he was planning to greet like an old friend instead of as a drugery, the one he was already celebrating instead of dreading. And if God grants me another year on this planet to live and love and laugh and grow and be--the least I can do, the very least I can do is greet this year and the next great adventure with the same lightness in my heart.

Even if there are tears today. (There already are. It's ridiculous.) Even if I feel this hole in my heart so keenly as I face another day without him by my side. Even if the road looks long and dark and I'd rather just lay on the ground than carry on. He would not want me to waste a perfectly good year on angst--he'd want me to grab this life with both hands and stretch it in every way I can to make sure I didn't miss any of it. That is the legacy he's left with me. That is a thing that I can do.

Post title was not an intentional reference to "Seasons of Love," but since that works out so nicely, here you go. Maybe I'll make that my theme song for 39. That one or "No Day But Today," which also works well for birthdays. Here on in, I shoot without a script.

02 May 2017

What I Read: April

I read three books again in April, which means my Goodreads Challenge is getting a bit ahead of me at the moment. Maybe now that I can stop dashing out my door a couple times a week to go take photos of places I've never seen before, I'll have a bit more time for reading. I hope.

So, here's what I got through in April. Books are in alphabetical order by title (ignoring articles, naturally; I'm not a barbarian). If you want to see them in a different order, let's be friends on Goodreads and you can peruse my shelves to your heart's delight. As always, book images and links are from Goodreads, and that's where you can read my reviews, too.



First-time reads:
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed: And Other Things I've LearnedAlan Alda
The Red Notebook, Antoine Laurain
Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, Ronald J. Sider


Re-reads:



Books by women:



Goodreads challenge: 13 of 52 books in 2017


What are you reading?

01 May 2017

Zoom!

That's the sound I'm going to make when I'm running on the Speedway on Saturday. Of course, I'll have to say it aloud, because my running is less "zoom" and more "plod," but whatever. Going slower just means I have more time to line up to high-five Meb, amirite?

I'm just gonna go get another set of these Saturday.
Seriously. If I manage to get a Meb-five, I don't even care if I break my leg on the next turn and have to be carried back via the nearest hospital. That's really all I'm going for.

So! Less than a week to go until my second running of the Indy Mini. As I did for El Paso, I'm guessing my final 12-mile training run time is likely to be close to my race day finishing time. I was a bit slower than that in El Paso, but here's the thing about Indianapolis--it's flatter than the flattest of pancakes. Unlike everywhere I look in Cincinnati, the closest thing the Indy Mini has to a hill is the ramp up to the Speedway. Where Meb will be. I think I got this.

This will be my 61st race and my 9th half marathon. There's nothing particularly significant about those numbers (except, hey! That's where all my money goes), but since I went to the trouble to look them up, I decided to share. You know what's going to be sad about this race? No one following me on a bike. So... anybody wanna come be my portable cheering section? It's flat!

Let's do this, Indy.

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