Turkey Trek 2007

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Today was our first annual Thanksgiving morning trail run…. and it was pouring rain and 35 degrees! I was sure no one would show up, so I was impressed at the 15 troopers who still turned out despite this nastiness. After a couple miles, we were all warmed up, and it was still a lot of fun. The hot shower I just took has never felt so good!

Next year, we plan to have more people, sunny weather, hot drinks, and a real finish line for people to run across.

The organizers: Christine, me, and Susan.

Christine planned to walk the trail but it was so cold, she mostly ran the 4 miles! Watch out next year!

Thanks to Shaw’s for donating the food for our runners!

For Today’s Lesson

I got to do something really fun yesterday.  Skyler and I took our smoothie show on the road, and did a smoothie making demo for her kindergarten class!

We made a bright green Green Monster first, and every kid tried it.  A few didn’t drink it all, but mostly they were very enthusiastic and sucked it right down.  I got lots of thumbs up and “more, please!” One little girl even ran up and hugged me after she drank her green monster. You gotta love Kindergarteners and how you never have to wonder how they feel about something.

Next we made a fruit and juice based smoothie with kale, and because it had so many blueberries in it, it was pretty bright blue.  We started pouring and they started slurping, drinking it all up before I could even get around the whole table.

I gave all the kids certificates because I thought they would need incentive to try the smoothies, but really, they didn’t need much convincing.

Skyler got a real thrill out of this whole process, handing out colored straws to her friends, explaining what all of the ingredients were, and stuffing the blender full of spinach with an audience of wide-eyed 5 year olds.

On the same day, Sam was invited to talk about competitive swimming to a class of 4th graders!  We’ll have all of eastern Maine working out and drinking their greens in no time!

MY CHILDREN EAT BEETS, AND OTHER LIES I MAY HAVE ACCIDENTALLY TOLD YOU  

A few posts ago, I wrote about how I’ve been eating “power foods” as much as possible to try and stay healthy, and wrote specifically about spinach salads and beets. My cousin Paige commented that she could never get her kids to eat beets.

This made me think about what other falsities I may accidentally lead you to believe.

My kids don’t eat beets. Spinach? Not a chance. Skyler will eat bowls of broccoli and peas, and Reed will eat peas and mashed sweet potatoes. With lots of butter and salt. But that’s it. They are totally unadventurous eaters. About beets, Reed says: “those are basgusting.” Roasted squash? Skyler says: “Gross.”

The biggest way that I suck as a parent is that I allowed my kids to become picky eaters, and that I started them off as little kids eating chicken nuggets (I cringe to even say those words together) and now they love them. They also love mac and cheese, hot dogs and pizza. And if I don’t feel like fighting them on it, that’s what they eat. I don’t photograph their plates of food. I have lots of friends whose kids eat what they eat for dinner and I think: damn. I screwed that one up. I cook separate meals for my kids every night and then Sam or I make what we’re having. I see a New Years Resolution brewing here.

I vividly remember that when I was pregnant with Skyler, I said: “I’m never going to let my kids eat chicken nuggets or fries so they just won’t know they exist.” HA HA HA HA HA HA. Ha. That’s rich! I also said that my kids wouldn’t drink juice. Hilarious.

While I’m at it, the other biggest way that I suck as a parent is that I let them watch tv while I’m trying to get something done in the kitchen, and when my intentions are to let them watch for 20 minutes, that almost always stretches into too long.

I know this isn’t earth-shattering stuff, and I know we all crop our photos and choose our angles to make things look the prettiest but I just feel like saying that on a typical day my kids exhaust me, I often forget to use my calm mommy voice, Sam and I argue about stupid crap, I forget to be grateful for everything that I have, I fixate on what I don’t have that I want, and my kids eat processed chicken for dinner.

Phew. I feel much better now. Thanks.

Oh wait… this one is too good to pass up: On Thanksgiving evening, my kids were hungry before any part of the dinner was ready and we were all so sick of cooking that I gave them peanut butter and jelly and sliced bananas for dinner. They were psyched.

NIKE WOMEN’S MARATHON

The RACE REPORT!

Time the hotel alarm was set for: 4:45 am

Time I woke up: 1:02 am

Time I got up: 3:13 am

Line up for start: 6:00 am

Total number of runners: 20,000

Time the gun went off: 7:00 am

Time lapsed before we even moved one inch forward: 10 minutes

Time lapsed before crossing the STARTING line: 17 minutes

How I felt when I started running: not great. my back and legs were achy. great timing.

Who I was running for:

First time I thought “there is no freaking way I’m going to finish this race”: mile 1

How far off pace I was by mile seven: 15 minutes

Why I was so off pace: Not sure. The first few miles were so congested it was hard to actually run. I can also say, in hindsight, I was just too conservative. I could have picked it up but I was holding back big time.

Steepest hills on the course: between miles 6 and 10

Lowest moment: Mile 10 1/2

Why it was my lowest moment: so tired, so far to go, dizzy

Moment when my mood brightened: seeing my mom, brother and sister waiting for me at the mile 12 marker

Secret weapon: my sister Liesel who jumped in and ran with me from mile 12 to mile 17 and completely turned the race around for me.

Point at which I knew I was going to finish the marathon: mile 15

When I felt most like a rock star: When my brother jumped into the race at mile 17 to videotape me while running backwards in front of me.

What I ate along the way: 1 chocolate GU, 4 packets of Luna Moons, 6 mini Luna bars, handful of pretzels, 2 orange quarter, 1/2 banana

What I drank: cups of water and gatorade every 2 miles

How many times I stopped to pee: 0

Most surreal: the miles between 18 and 23 sort of ticked away as if I was in some auto-pilot mode… the part of the race I’d anticipated to be the worst was just not that bad

Best idea: putting my name on my race shirt. Hearing “Looking strong Emilie!” just never got old.

Time I had hoped to cross the finish line: 5:30

Where I was at 5:30: about mile 25 1/2

How I felt during the last 1/2 mile: like every molecule in my body was firing, every hair on my body was standing up straight, and all I could hear were screams and cowbells ringing. It was everything I could ever have hoped it would be.

Actual finish time: 5:38

How I feel about that: I’ll take it, but there is lots of room for improvement

What was waiting for me at the finish line: A San Francisco fireman with my Tiffany necklace in a little blue box:

My mom, Liesel , Chris, aunt Ellen and uncle Dickie, flowers, a box of tissues (Liesel), a finishers shirt, and piles of food.

Luckiest person in the world: me

How proud was my mommy:

How many blisters I had on my feet: 0 (but I checked)

How much money was raised by this race for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: $14 Million

How I felt right after: like this

How I feel today: fantastic

Will I run another marathon? Yep. But it won’t top this one.

 

HOW TRAINING FOR A MARATHON IS LIKE BEING PREGNANT

This is just one small part of the overall “marathons are like labor” simile that I’ve been working on for about 3 months. I have to actually run the marathon before the comparison can be made in completion, but I definitely have some good material brewing.

It occurred to me the other day that if the marathon = labor, then the training = pregnancy. Here are just a few of the many parallels.

1. ACHES: When you’re pregnant and when you’re training, you talk about your aches and pains a lot with your friends. You also moan a lot, especially when you are first getting out of bed, because places that have never hurt before now hurt.

2. THE CALENDAR: When you’re pregnant and when you’re training, you are obsessed with calendars. You love to mark off the end of each week because it shows the progress you are making. You love the milestones you cross, like the first trimester, or the first run longer than a half marathon.

3. IT’S ALL MENTAL: The first night of my hypno-birthing class (which is supposed to train you to experience pain-free labor… ask me how well that worked! HA HA! HA HA! HA!), the teacher told our class that we had to stop telling people “I am going to try to have a natural birth” and begin to tell everyone “I am going to have a natural birth.” In my training, I have to work very hard on this one: “I am going to run a marathon.” “I am going to finish a marathon.” There. I said it.

4. BODY CHANGES: When you’re pregnant, your body gets bigger and bigger and also changes in alarming and disconcerting ways. When you’re training for a marathon, your body just looks better and more muscly. I guess this one doesn’t really work.

5. EVERYBODY-ELSE-CAN-DO-IT MENTALITY: When you’re pregnant and when you’re training, you feel reassured by looking around at all the other people who survived the thing you are getting ready for. You think: “Look at all these people! Every single one of them was born from a woman!” You spend hours on Youtube watching videos about marathons and see all those people crossing the finish line. You read strangers’ race reports online. Some of them scare you to death because some of the people have “marathon horror stories” but you read them anyway and add all of their mishaps to your list of things to worry about. But mostly, you are reassured by the thousands of people who finish marathons happily every year.

6. EATING: When you’re pregnant and when you’re training, you eat a lot more than usual. You eat whatever the hell you want, because it doesn’t matter at all. You eat all day. You eat big bowls of ice cream after dinner. You eat peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches on your way up to bed. You stop buying low-fat products. You eat half a pie in one sitting, out of the pan (I didn’t!).

Stay tuned for the complete explanation of the race and labor connections, followed by a post-race/ post pardum epilogue.

A BLUR OF WONDERFULNESS: OUR TRIP TO DC

We are home. The time in DC was so amazing that I’m actually having a time absorbing it all. I came back to running embraces and tons-o-kisses from my kids, and it is good to be home. And a little bit hard to know that the poetry-love-fest is over.

There were so many highlights on the last day that it feels like 4 days. Here is the recap.

We started Tuesday with a tour of the White House which was very cool, but I saw not one Obama, not even the dog, and they prohibited cameras, to which I said, “Hello People…I have a blog!”

No luck. Just trust me that it is gorgeous and awe-inspiring to think of all the people who have walked those floors and sat in those rooms.

Then, we went to a Congressional Luncheon on Capital Hill. Will’s mom thinks it is cute and funny that I always take pictures of food, so she wanted to take a picture of me with the lunch buffet. Funny, right?

Each student had hopes of meeting either their senators or a congressperson. Some senators popped into the luncheon to meet their student and family. We had a special situation: BOTH senators and our congressman wanted to meet Will privately in their offices! As it turned out, we had to cancel the meeting with Senator Olympia Snowe because it conflicted with the time Will had to be on the bus for the night’s competition. So we were escorted off to meet with Senator Collins (in case you don’t know, Maine has two female senators who are both Republicans).

We went into the Senate office building and found our way here.


But alas, Susan Collins was delayed, and was still in the Capital building. We thought that meant we wouldn’t meet her. Instead, it meant that her assistant whisked us down into the tunnels that connect the Senate and Representative Office buildings with the Capital, and took us TO Senator Collins.

This is the tram that takes the Senators back and forth through the underground tunnels to the Capital. We were told several times that students “never get to do this.”

Just before we got on the tram, Will and I looked at each other, and at the man walking past us. John McCain. (no photo, it happened too fast)

On our way to find Senator Collins, we walked past groups of Senators whispering in the hallways, the place all abuzz about the very recent announcement that Senator Specter had just switched from a Republican to a Democrat.

Oh, there’s Senator Dodd.

And here is Senator Collins, from Maine. She was gracious and lovely to Will, and after chatting a bit about Poetry Out Loud, and gushing over his having made the top 12, she asked Will to recite a poem.

And right there in the Capital, amidst the hustle and bustle of VIPs whisking around, Will gave her “Mingus at the Showplace” by William Matthews.

I kept thinking: I hope Will realizes how huge this is. And as we walked away, I know he did realize. He was so excited.

Okay, so I was seriously in the hunt for any Obama, or Hillary Clinton, to no avail, though I learned when I got back to the hotel that she and Michelle Obama were in the Capital when we were, unveiling the bust of Sojourner Truth. Bummer.

I was wowed by even this:

The door through which Obama stepped onto the balcony to give his inaugural address, where all of our eyes were glued and waiting.

Next stop: Congressman Michaud’s office:

Another poem recitation!

Next stop, for Will: head over to Lisner Auditorium for debriefing and dinner before the show.
Next stop, for me: walk around the city a little and get sushi for dinner and soak in my last summery evening in DC.

And then, it was this, the grand finale: The introduction of all 53 finalists (that’s 50 states + DC+ Virgin Islands + Puerto Rico). And the show began.

I love that Scott Simon (who hosted the event) already, but his charming, funny, and gracious tone added so much to the already exciting evening. Here are the top 12:

My Will did not win, but that actually didn’t seem to matter. The 12 finalists were all so good, and I was so moved after every single performance, that I didn’t think there was any way the judges could ever decide on one winner. But of course, they did. The winner was totally and completely deserving and turned out to be one of the kids we had gotten to know the best: Will from Virginia. At the opening banquet, we were all seated with Will from Virginia and his awesome family. We called him “our other Will” all weekend and were proud to track his success. His reaction to winning (the title and the $20,000) was one of my favorite moments of the whole thing.

He cried, I cried, everyone cried.

He hugged his dad… I’m still crying.

While my Will and I waited for Garrison Keillor to finish chatting with some other finalists, I took this shot of his famous red shoes.

This was a moment that Will had hoped for after first qualifying for the event and hearing that Garrison Keillor was a judge. This is the BIGGEST, brightest smile you will get out of Will.

I’m still riding the high of this experience that I’ll probably never have again (though, trust me, I’m going to try). The camaraderie between the kids and the teachers and the Poetry Out Loud staff was a beautiful, beautiful thing.

I’m About To Change Your Life

I didn’t believe until I tried it. And now I can’t imagine my life without it.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is a cookbook that gives you the easiest, most unbelievable bread recipe. My friend Suzanne hooked me on this, and I just have to spread the good news.

I’m not kidding! 5 minutes! You DO NOT HAVE TO KNEAD THIS DOUGH!

Just throw 4 ingredients in a bowl, and let it sit. When you are ready to bake it, you take out a hunk and give it a few squeezes into shape, and bake it. And it is crusty and delicious.

I’m going to give you the Master Recipe, but you really need to get the book because there are a ton of variations.
3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 tbs yeast
1 1/2 tbs kosher or sea salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached all-purpose flour
(they do have whole wheat recipes, but this is not one)

You mix it (no kneading!) and let it sit for 2 hours at room temp.

Then put in the fridge for a while (at least a few hours, and up to two weeks) covered loosely until you are ready to bake it. When you are ready (are you ready yet?) to bake it, just cut off a hunk about the size of a grapefruit, form it into a ball with just a little flour to help keep it from sticking to your hands, then give it some slash marks, let it hang for 20 minutes on the counter,

and then bake for 25 minutes at 450 on a pizza stone dusted with cornmeal. (oh yeah, and place a small pan of water on the rack under the bread which creates steam and helps the crust get crusty).

And then? EAT IT. And don’t worry, b/c you have 3 more loaves waiting in the fridge.

Read the book for the whole story and all the things you can make from this base. One EASY variation was pizza dough. Here are Reed and Ella choosing their toppings.

I’m a Happy Running Mama

Yesterday I ran the MDI (Mount Desert Island/ Acadia National Park) Half Marathon and OH MY GOODNESS… What a difference it was from the Boston Half Marathon in May. I guess I’m in better running shape, and I didn’t have that nasty chest cold that I did in Boston, but yesterday was truly a world apart from my first try. Adrienne, I finally know how you felt in that race.

I won’t go so far as to say it was EASY, but it was 2 hours and 29 minutes of joy with a slight tinge of pain (15 minutes faster this time!!). For REAL runners, that’s sort of slow. For me? That time was my dream come true. That meant I stayed on pace of my regular running time for the whole damn thing. Except for some hip and knee pain that started around mile 7, I felt like a million bucks.

I had a hell of a week trying to get control of a stubborn bladder infection and I didn’t think I was going to run it until Friday when I got the go-ahead from my doctor, though he looked at me like I was crazy when I asked. I actually felt great on Saturday morning, so I was so glad I had decided to go for it.

The weather was perfect (60 degrees and clear). The course is unbelievable. It starts through Bar Harbor toward the ocean, up a hill, and then onto the Carriage Trails (a groomed dirt/gravel path) for 9 miles that wrapped around the beautiful Eagle Lake; the trees are already tinged with reds and yellows here on the coast. Mile 6 was ALL up hill. Mile 7 was all down hill. Then it was up and down until the mean mile 11, up a steep hill for 1/2 mile. Then down hill, past a golf course, and onto the soccer field where you can see me below heading for the finish line.

During the Boston Half Marathon I had thoughts like this:
I’m going to die. Please let me die. Why can’t I just die.

During yesterday’s Half Marathon I had these thoughts:
WEEEEE!!! I’m so lucky to be ALIVE! What a beautiful WORLD!
Mile 12? ALREADY?

All my running friends: YOU MUST COME DO THIS RACE NEXT YEAR. Someone told me that Runners Magazine voted this the most beautiful half marathon course in America, and I know it’s the only one in a National Park. I didn’t take my camera with me, but look here for more pics.


My friend Susan ran with me… it was her first run of this distance and she did great.

What’s next? One more triathlon in October (when I told my mom this she said: “Oh for crying out loud, my dear child”), and then I’ll hang it up for the winter.

The book I won’t forget

I finished a book today that I have to write about, and I don’t really write anywhere else but on this blog, so here I am.

Out Stealing Horses by Per Peterson

I started this book a few months ago and I did something I’ve never done before.

I stopped reading it half way through because it was so good that I didn’t want to finish it just then. Then I got into some other quicker summery reads and just went back to it two days ago. I finished it today and immediately turned back to the first page and read the whole thing again.

I’d love to quote you some passages but I can’t. They don’t work out of context.

The narrator is an older man in Norway who is simultaneously living a very quiet and peaceful life in a cabin in the woods and trying to work through his past, specifically his past relationship with his father and the secrets he had to keep for him.

The writing style is different than anything I’ve read. It’s quiet. It’s soft. It is simple and slow. I felt as if the narrator whispered the whole thing into my ear.

It also made me think about my dad a lot, but not for a specific reason. Just because the narrator was my dad’s age when he died, and because it was about a father, and because it took place during WWII, and because it was in Europe, and because it was in the wilderness. The narrator’s relationship with his dad was very complicated and sometimes heavy. There is nothing complicated about my relationship with my dad except that he died. And he didn’t get to see me as a mother. Something about this book made me really feel that loss.

I’m not even sure that I’m recommending this book to you, because it is not a book everyone would love. It is sparse. It is entertaining only to the extent that is so beautiful it makes you want to cry. But it is most certainly not a page-turner.

I ask my students every year to think about why they love a book, how much of it is because of the story and how much of it is because of the writing. My own answer is if I love a book, it is usually 25% because of the story and 75% because of the writing. This book fits perfectly into that ratio.

I had to finally put it down when Reed woke up from his nap today. And I had a feeling I’ve never concsciously had about a book before: when I walked out of the room where it was sitting on the table, I was physically drawn back towards it as if I was leaving behind someone or some place I loved deeply. I have been walking past it all day getting that same feeling.

Can you even imagine being able to write so beautifully that you could make someone feel that way.

I’m home, I’m happy and I’m Really Really Sore  

I got home a few hours ago from a great weekend in Boston, where I DID successfully complete the half marathon on one of the most beautiful days ever. Before the detailed race report, let’s start with these shots that sort of capture the essence of the run.

What I’m thinking here is: WOW do my legs hurt.

Okay, let’s back up. Here are some pre-race pictures. The race started on the Boston waterfront. It was sunny and breezy and about 65 degrees. Just lovely. Unfortunately I was not feeling great, still suffering from the lingering chest cold that plagued me all week. I was really discouraged on Saturday fearing I wasn’t going to make it because my energy was low and my chest hurt with the congestion. I was very annoyed that I was not at my best for the big day. Anyway, I thought postive thoughts and was certainly caught up in the excitement of the crowds and the really, really loud music at the starting line.
Adrienne was feeling and looking great, in top form for the big race.

A quick shot at the starting line and then off we go. We DID, yes, run with my tiny little camera so we got just a couple shots during the race.

I started slowly and tentatively and so I was behind my usual pace by about mile 5. My chest was bothering me, but I knew if I just kept plugging away I’d be fine. I encouraged Adrienne to run ahead of me after the half way point, which she did, trotting away like a cheetah.

I felt at my very best between miles 6-8 when my cold sort of left me (maybe I sweated it out?) and things were looking up. The course was BEAUTIFUL, through the cool, brick streets of Boston and then along the Charles River for a while, then back again. It was just the bluest-sky day with billowy clouds and lush green parks (and colleges) everywhere you looked. I was thrilled to pass the 10 mile mark and from that point on it was gritting my teeth because of how badly my knees and hip joints felt. I started comparing the run to childbirth at that point (there are a lot of remarkable similarities, actually) and became convinced that the mile markers were at least a mile and a half apart. But I miraculously made it to 11, then 12, and then pretty soon the beautiful sight appeared of the final bridge, and then the finish line with rows of people cheering me in. I made it all the way, not walking once.

Adrienne had a fantastic run, beating me to the finish line by about 20 minutes. She was there to get my finish line shots and welcome me to the end.

As I ran across the finish line I did (you saw this coming, right?) burst into tears at the sight of my friend. I couldn’t exactly describe why I cried, but it was a good mix of pride, relief, pain, exhaustion and sympathy for my poor legs. Just like childbirth, I told myself I was NEVER doing this again, and just like childbirth, I was already talking about doing it again about 30 minutes later.

I love getting race medals!

And here are some shots from the rest of our wonderful weekend together.

Adrienne told me at least 7 times when we were planning our trip that she wanted french fries and a beer after the race. Indeed, her wish came true.

After our meal I said goodbye to my friend (after firming up plans to do some sort of race together next summer) and headed north for the 4 hour drive home. While driving I did feel a huge sense of accomplishment for completing a distance I thought impossible just last year, but also a bit of sadness that it was all so suddenly over.

I came home to find my kids both sleeping and the house completely shiny and clean. Sam had a good two days at home, jam packed with playgrounds and lunch dates and flower-planting.
And finally, here is the card Skyler had waiting for me, a drawing she did of me running under a lovely, orange sky.

And now I am having a beer and going to bed.