Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Feeling lonely?


I'm coming back soon. I know it's sad to be apart. Perhaps it will make the heart grow fonder.

But find warmth in the fact that I am doing many very interesting things here...very, very, interesting things. Namely with the charity website. And a little vacation mixed in. And some planning for 2007.

All very fun.

All of which will be reported.

In due time.

But, I have an afternoon at the office with much to do, and then more blogLove (which, I've heard is significantly better than FlavaFlavLove) later this week.

Just know you are missed. But not in a creepy way.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

For which to be thankful...

A warm home with a warm partner – my soft place to land.

My ever understanding and supportive family,
each member of whom adds something special
to my days in their own, unique way.

Waking up clear headed and with a clear conscience every single day.

M, who has made all the difference in
the world to my happiness and my life.

Doing my best at my work and choosing the best work to do.

Friends who know things without asking
and are there for me without question.

Finding personal balance in the journey towards lofty goals.

The health of my family and the time
I am allowed to spend in their company.

Physical health and personal tranquility.

The warm open arms of M’s family
and the prospect of knowing them better.


The prospect of my future, which now seems vast and limitless
– thanks to all of the above.

Monday, November 20, 2006

16 miles, but DNF

Okay, a quick update here before I craft a much longer, much funnier, and MUCH more detailed race report. I made it through 16 miles of the marathon yesterday before my left knee buckled under me and took me out of the race. I've had problems with my IT band since high school sports, so generally I do my special stretches (done) and carefully monitor my gait (done), but sometimes I'm missing some elusive part of the combination.

So, around mile 16 the mild aggravation had turned to sharp pain, so I stopped to stretch again. Took one step back onto the pavement and it wouldn't support weight. Aargh!! (And, nope, that wasn't the word going through my head!) I stretched, tried again, and pondered stopping. Then I did turn back and limped for a while, and decided to try again. (I'm not good with hearing 'no,' even if it comes from my body.) No joy. Second time was worse, so I had to call it a day. Nearly all of my relatives on my father's side have had various knee surgeries and/or replacements. My estimation yesterday was that those last 10 miles would not happen without risking finding myself in the OR. And I have no time for the OR in 2007. No time.

But, I have much to add to that story -- celebrity sightings, crowd favs, and porta-pottie musings -- so check back later.

For now, my achy 33 year old body is on the hunt for massive amounts of Advil, a bag of ice, and a pillow for elevation.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bringing Sexy Back

Went for a lunchtime walk today and I just couldn't resist just a smidge of new gear for Sunday. I know, I know...where'd that budget go, lil' lady? Don't worry, no binge shopping. Just a fuel belt and some GU. It's all good.

But here's my question. Is it possible for women to ever look sexy when wearing one of these? I mean, really. I just bought the four squeeze bottle version (considering the distance Sunday) which also includes one roo-pouch and I bought a *second* roo-pouch for my cell phone, too.

(Let's be honest here. There's a real possibility that I'll be DNF in West Philly. Ever been to West Philly? No? Trust me...I'll want my cell phone. You want me to want my cell phone.)

That's a LOT of stuff around my waist. And while I don't believe that runners or triathletes EVER need to look hot out there while racing, is it too much to ask to not look like I'm wearing an oversized innertube?

There are, of course, benefits to the set up. If, for example, I randomly *fell* into the Schuylkill River I would clearly float.

Of course, I would float face down because of bottle placement. But at least finding my body would be very, very easy.

It is also a chance to color coordinate my FLUID with my OUTFIT, but sadly my palate is limited to also include red, black, and a flirty dash of silver.

At minimum, a full fuel belt greatly aids the negative split factor, so long as you use the facilities often. And with these four bottles, plus heaps of caffeine, and an unholy amount of pre-race hydration...I'm going to need the facilities. And often.

But honestly guys.

There is a serious dork factor going on here, don't you think? This contraption will be going around one of my "problem areas," my "zone of contention." I'm what they (kindly) call an hourglass figure (at least to my face). So adding a four-bottle-ring-of-fashion-hell with two pieces of carry-on luggage attached converts me from an abstract version of Marilyn Monroe to the shape of a...well...a rectangle.

A vertically oriented rectangle. With arms and legs.

There you go, friends. Need to find Able on Sunday in the throngs of people? Look for the red, black, and silver coordinated, vertically oriented rectangle, with a whole lotta red, black, and silver fluid options.

I'll be right by the porta-potties.

Monday, November 06, 2006


My Mom was an amazing woman. Most moms are, I guess, from the perspective of their family and friends. But my Mom was the exception to most rules. She lived her life on her terms and taught her daughters and husband about bravery and integrity and compassion.

Mom used to run. I don’t remember how or why the activity started, but I remember Sunday afternoons not being able to locate her in the studio or the kitchen and realizing that she was watching a football game in the basement while jogging on her treadmill. And, if you knew my mother, a classical pianist with grace and poise to spare, you would see the humor in this scene.

She would run on the treadmill on bad days and outside on good days. She taught me to count telephone poles to measure miles. She never would claim to go far or fast – she was just pleased to be able to go. To move forward and do something for herself to help bolster her health. She was never a coordinated person, or even notably physically graceful. But she was tenacious in her core, quietly relentless in her commitment to all things – her career, her family, her friends. She taught my sister and me – and I would imagine, to some extent, my father – that you keep pushing and plodding, even when the effort appears to far overshadow the results.

You just keep doing.

Keep doing, because at some point you determined that the activity was valuable. So, even though right now it’s painful or inconvenient, you just keep doing. Trust yourself. Trust the effort. Trust the process.

Momentum was a tool that my mother used well.

She weathered a difficult childhood with her head bent and her eyes firmly fixed on her goals. She raised a family on the pendulous swing of momentum. She trained legions of talented pianists through the perpetual roll of lessons after lessons, year after year. She fought cancer with momentum. From surgery through recovery through remission through surgery through recovery – for 10 long years.

I guess at one point she learned that you just keep going. No matter what life throws at you.

You just keep going.


I spend a lot more time nowadays relating to that momentum. Mom passed away in 1997, at the young age of 51, with her oldest making a go at life in the big city and her little baby giving her best shot at her first semester of college. There is much that cancer stole from her and me – from us. So many discussions, so many moments of learning. She never saw the adult that I am now, yet she also was spared all the pain it took to get here.

And I am often reminded of this when I run. When I jog around the neighborhood, plodding forward in my own form of momentum. In some sense, I feel connected with her. Not her as a mother or a teacher, or even a patient or someone requiring care or compassion.

But her as a woman. A young woman with hopes and dreams. A young woman who still goes out for a jog, no matter how awkward she feels in the running clothes or how ungainly her gait is in the long shadow she casts down the sidewalk. She saw her imperfect figure in the store window reflection and I’m sure she was conscious of her slower pace. But it was her time, the moments when she owned the momentum, the roll, the perceivable push from behind. Those, I’m sure, were some of the rare moments she had left over after my sister and me, my father, her students, her charities, and her friends were done taking what we needed.

I bet they were magical.

And I find similar things in those moments, where work cannot reach and all of those other obligations are obliged to wait. I feel the hand on my back, gently pushing forward – not for speed, but rather for momentum. Urging. Follow the roll. Trust the motion. Enjoy the ride.

You only get one chance.

It is in those moments, I feel connected to my mother in a way we were never allowed in life. We were never granted those glances of knowing understanding. We were never allowed to find common ground as peers, as women, as mothers, or as wives.

But occasionally, I feel as if we do connect. And I know that the hand on the small of my back, urging me forward, is hers and she is right there beside me, jogging to our slow and steady pace.

Terms of Engagement

I’ve been thinking a lot about accomplishment recently.

At one point, a few months ago, I wrote something that has returned to in my thinking recently about why we do triathlons (or at least why I do), but also what failure and success is. Because that’s the rub of life, isn’t it? That in order to have achievement -- to be set apart by one’s decisions and deeds -- it is required that we first define success. And with that, of course, comes the concept of failure. A philosophical imperative, of sorts.

Back when I started training for triathlons, a very concerned and very loving family member who asked – “well, what if you fail?” His concern was that I would lose ground in a long battle for peace and confidence. Playing by the lofty and challenging goals of triathlons may be beyond my means. And the concern was not unfounded because, of course, where there is great reward, there is also great risk of loss. Triathlons are challenging and triathletes are exceptional.

And I had to chew on that concept for a while, turn it around in my head and look at it from all angles. What if I stopped training before my first race, out of laziness or prioritizing other goals ahead of triathlon? I had been lazy in the past, and I had been fickle with my hobbies and interests, too. What if I was too scared to start my first race? What if I could – or would – not finish? I can be terribly persuasive, and unfortunately that makes it much easier to talk myself out of things, as well as into things! What if I only did one race? And, more pointedly, what if I did not live up to my potential and sold my achievements short of my natural ability? What if I made excuses for my actions or sourced what (or who) determined my success in other events, limitations, or people?

This is a battle we wage every single day. For every meaningful decision, there is a complicated matrix of why and how that I believe helps build character and integrity. But the rules of the engagement are often not readily apparent and are fraught with definitions provided by others, rather than one’s self.

And what I have come to believe is that I define the rules of engagement in this endeavor. I decide what I am seeking and how I will accomplish this. I decide how far to go and what to prioritize below and above. I determine whether I have failed or succeeded. I measure my accomplishments and do so based on what I value.

I am terribly lucky for the sport of triathlon – and the people I have met through the sport – but, I must always remember that the race is not the end, it is only part of the endeavor.

And with this approach, I can’t go wrong.

It’s not always easy to remember this rule. It is so very easy to slip back into charting mileage based on the expectations of others, picking activities and races based out of pride or fear of shame, and imposing demands on my self inconsistent with my hopes. Those are behaviors of habit – a well ingrained habit, but certainly not the hardest one I have had to break. In fact, I’ve become rather adepts at breaking habits recently!

So, I have been thinking about this all over the last week. I have considered these ideas when tracking all those bloggy friends toeing the line in Florida, and when planning my own personal time. And, of course, with the marathon coming up in the near future, I have had thoughts of why, how, and how fast.

And I am growing comfortable in my relatively new approach. I am growing comfortable making this endeavor not about the expectations of others, but about my own joy, my own challenges, and my own successes. And that feels oh so much better than before. Because it is solid. Because I am solid.

And that, I know, is because I have set the terms of engagement. I act only upon my own behest, and achieve more because of this. I know what it means to succeed for me, and I know what it means to fail. And if I do either, I do it on my own terms.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


If a joy were in a bottle, sparkly, slippery, and dazzeling to the eye, I would sell that snake oil to any bidder. If just a small bottle would reset the askew and uncrook the crooked, I would market it to all and give it away at the holidays. I would drink it down unabashedly and selfishly soak up all its purposful restorative. I would package and parcel and send and share. I would tell all and invite many, I would bask and repeat, I would lead by example and draw by the hand.

I would go for a morning run . . . want to join me?