LJI:1 I need the struggle to feel alive
I am a runner.  I am not very fast, but I can keep going.  I sign up for races periodically so I have external goals to meet, and because there’s something amazing and wonderful about a community of folks all getting together much too early on a weekend morning to do a mildly crazy thing.

This past Sunday was the Berkeley half-marathon.  It’s a lovely race with strong community support and a challenging but pretty course, though I really chose it because I had run the first three years of the race and wanted to keep my streak alive.  The weather for Sunday said there was a 50% chance of rain, but looking at the forecast carefully the worst of the storm was supposed to hit on Saturday and then taper off.

Sunday morning was cool and cloudy, perfect running weather.  There was a hint of sun breaking through the clouds and I was hoping it wouldn’t get too hot before I could finish.  Turns out, that wasn’t a problem.

It started sprinkling just as I finished mile two.  It was lovely, even refreshing, just a little damp in the air to keep everyone from overheating.  Then it started to get wetter.  Around mile seven it was definitely raining.  By mile nine it was a downpour.  It didn’t help that in the ninth mile we were on a flat trail with the Bay on one side of us and the highway on the other.  With no buildings to act as windbreaks or offer protection it felt a little like what I imagine clothes feel being inside a washing machine.

Coming off the trail I could see folks in front of me running to the far right to get around something, as I approached I saw that a massive puddle had formed.  I thought about it for a bit and then splashed straight through.  My feet and shoes weren’t going to get any wetter.

The rest of the race was about finding a way mentally to be okay with being soaking wet.  I aimed for my inner five-year-old who wanted to jump in every puddle ever and to the best of my ability let her take over.  I took off my gloves – by then they were holding water against my skin instead of keeping me dry or warm – and wrung them out.  I skipped the last water stop thinking I could just suck on my shirt if I needed a drink.  And I passed a surprising number of people.  Damp is doable for almost every runner, but drenched is really hard.  I wasn’t passing folks because I was faster than they were.  I was passing them because they were spending energy fighting the now inevitable wet while I was chanting the mantra “wetter is faster”.

I turned the final corner and could see the finish line three blocks away.  I kicked with everything I had left and crossed the finish line in a good time.  I could hear the announcer over the loudspeakers saying, “Anyone can run in clear weather.  But only the strong can run in the rain.”

In the finish area runners were getting their medals and bananas, their water and space blankets, the usual post-race food and swag.  Everyone was smiling and laughing and chatting with strangers.  The extra effort of wet made this community of runners closer than ever.  Now we have a story to tell.  ‘Were you at Berkeley in 2016?  Oh, the rain…’

***Here come LJ Idol again, this is my entry for week one.  Other takes on the topic can be found here, and I'll post something when voting opens up.  For the curious I finished the 13.1 miles in 2:20:20 - a time I am super happy with for this race.***

LJI:0 Introduction

It’s hard to play with words today, still, which is why I had to try. I went looking to see how many times I had written an introduction for this crazy game before, looking for snippets of the past to ground my present.

From 2014: “I don't have a Facebook account, which these days occasionally makes me wonder if I actually exist.”

I still don’t have a Facebook account, though that rarely causes the same existential concern. I moved earlier this year to a new state, Colorado, from a place I had lived for seventeen years, the Bay Area of California. Wanting to stay in touch with the people there may be the thing that finally convinces me to change my mind.

From 2010: “I like the feeling of being just a half-step removed from my regular self for a day. Perhaps enough small steps will take me somewhere entirely new.”

This is exactly what my Halloween costume was this year, too. Me, but a heightened, punk version of me. I continue to take baby-steps to figuring myself out. Where I’m at right now is good, but I’m certain it could still be something better.

From 2008: “I laugh easily (though I’m often not the first one to get the joke), I cry easily (much to my chagrin) and I startle easily (BOO!)
I am happy more often than I am sad. I am more comfortable in my skin now than I have ever been.”

Huh – this brings tears to my eyes. It’s still true, but 2008 me didn’t know how difficult 2009 would be, and the time it would take to feel like my skin really fits me again.

I guess the goal now is to get back to here - “I am happy more often than I am sad.” It’s what I wish for everyone else, too.

Trick or Treat?
Wow, when you say restore from draft not having posted anything in months what you get is - odd.

It's been ages. I've been reading sporadically since I last posted but life got away from me a bit. The short version:

-The person just above me in seniority in the department quit in March. After learning lots of new things and several months of limbo, I got a promotion and a raise and the ability to work remotely full time. That last one is necessary because..
- We moved to Colorado. J1 & I officially left CA on April 2.
- For the summer we guest room hopped and traveled a lot for both work and family (and at least once for a long weekend just for ourselves). This was fun, but also exhausting in that 'no, I really am an introvert' way.
- But we now have an apartment of our very own and are all the way unpacked and everything.

Why return now? Idol, and Gary, of course. I'm in for season ten.

And because as an introvert who now works remotely and is in a new state I need to keep my social skills up somehow.
And because 'post on LJ' has been on my to-do list for over a month. Yippee crossing things off.
But also, Idol, and all of the beautiful craziness to come.

1This is my husband, who I started referring to by initial shortly after we started dating, and why ruin a good thing?

the odd music of heavy equipment backing up
- I am the only person in my office today.  If everyone was here (which has literally never happened) there would only be eight of us, but this week many folks are travelling or working from home and the one other person who was supposed to be here is sick.  So it's just me.

- About that subject?  Super Bowl city, the NFL's party zone that will be in operation from Jan 30 through the game, is being built across the street from my office.  Road closures have already begun so traffic is a mess, and my train to the city has more people on it than usual.  I need to run an errand at lunch today which should be simple, but I'm not sure if the sidewalks are open the way I'd usually take.  Next week when it's fully operational we have been given permission to work from home the entire time if we choose.  Part of me wants to come up for at least one day to gawk out the windows and people watch, but I can't quite decide if it will be worth the commute.  Hrmmm....

- For a brief time last week I thought I was getting cold #3, but that didn't happen.  Now I just have my standard winter cough, though odd things keep popping up that make me think I'm not entirely well.  I guess not being actively sick is what I've got and I should be grateful for that.

- J and I spent MLK day hiking to the east peak of Mt. Tam.  It was a very grey day and misty, luckily it didn't actually rain on us until near the end of the hike.  The weather meant we didn't see any of the views that were described in the guide we used, but we also were sharing the trails with only a few people and there's something peaceful about the grey enveloping everything.  J described it as cathedral-like.  It also meant I paid a lot more attention to the flowering bushes, or the odd bright orange brain mold, and all of the waterfalls were stunning (and a few were probably new).  There is a theater space up there that I had no idea existed.  Every new year J and I determine we're going to do more hiking, and we tend to fall off that by early summer.  Maybe this time it'll stick.

- My birthday last week was very quiet.  My co-workers took me out for lunch and J took me out for dinner.  The hike was also sort of for my birthday, we've been doing that for several years.  I'm a little sad to not be 42 anymore because I enjoyed the geekiness of that number but it was pointed out that 43 is prime, which made me feel better.  (And next year will be a palindrome!)

- We're planning a ski weekend with friends and I've been stressing a bit because I don't like to downhill ski.  I never feel in control enough going down, and my fear of heights kicks in hugely on chair lifts.  But I don't want anyone else not to have the fun weekend they want to have, and if I stay indoors the whole time a few folks will feel responsible for me.  (Which isn't exactly my problem I know, but...)  I'm looking for a place to cross-country ski, which I did enjoy the last time I did it 25 years ago or so.  I keep reminding myself it's a silly thing to be stressed about and it's okay if I don't want to learn to ski in my 40's, but I keep feeling like I'm somehow being a fuddy duddy and should get over it.  Or maybe I just need to embrace the fuddy duddy.

too sniffly to think of a clever subject
- I'm still sick.  The first cold lingered right into the second one kicking in mid-last week.  I'm back to the congestion and the coughing, and am generally grumpy about it.  At least J hasn't caught the second one yet.

- J and I played tourist yesterday.  We went to Alcatraz and Coit Tower, which niether of us had ever done.

The views from the ferry and Alcatraz itself are pretty amazing.  The cellhouse audio tour is well worth it, and the oddness of hundreds of people wearing headphones moving on the same general path at slightly different intervals was kind of lovely, and occasionally disorienting.  Parts of the island are closed this time of year because it's nesting season for the seabirds who call Alcatraz home, but we walked all the paths that were open, and poked into all the cranies we could find.  The brochure says to expect to spend 2.5-3 hrs on the island - we were there for four.

Coit Tower is nifty, and again those views!  But I think my favorite part of the second stop of the day was getting there; we walked up the Filbert Steps.  It feels like a pocket universe in the middle of San Francisco, a street that turns into pedestrian stairs that run beside private homes and a public garden.  It's a lot of steps, but there's so much to see on the way.  I do wonder what living along the stairs must be like.

To wrap up the day when we got home I made us potato leek soup and we watched the movie Escape From Alcatraz.  The movie is decent, but having been on the island the same day made it extra engaging.  It was fun to see spaces we had just seen empty all furnished as though they were in use.

- Next weekend is going to be a lot of football as the teams that both J and I cheer for are still in it - Go Chiefs!  Go Packers!  I'm grateful that both of our teams won this weekend and won solidly, unlike the other two games where it feels more like Minnesota and Cinncinnati lost than the Seahawks or Steelers won.  But they'll still be the teams playing this weekend.  Sadly I think the Chief's stand a better chance of moving on than my Packers, but they play the games for a reason.

Happy 2016!
It's raining and it's lovely.  Several people I know are complaining about the weather, a lot, but normal Bay Area winter is supposed to be in the 50s, grey and sometimes wet.  I know these heavier rain storms are causing real issues (hello, El Nino).  But I think people have been lulled by the much drier and warmer winters we've had the last several years forgetting that they were caused by a drought.  I find myself having little patience with people complaining about the rain that we need so badly.

I have been running again!  The foot is fine so far, though there's a ghost of something still not quite right that I'm working to stretch out.  I'm starting slowly and carefully because I've hurt myself coming back too quickly from time off in the past.  In the effort to get moving again while being nice to the foot I'm also back to swimming and just started biking.  But I really want to add more strength and stretching to my regular routine.  (If I have a 2016 resolution, this is it.)  I have some imbalances to my gait/posture and it's time to actually try to fix them instead of just living with the regular ache in my right hip/glute, or my left shoulder.  I'm debating scheduling a trainer at the YMCA to better learn the various weight equipment there, and trying to decide how much of this I can do on my own with the information from the various PT and Chiro people I've seen in the past few years.

My cold is better but lingering.  I still have coughing fits, usually in the afternoon or evening, and feel like I can't take a really deep breath without setting off a fit.  We ended up leaving the NYE shindig we were at around 11:15p because the coughing had kicked in and I was exhausted, this despite taking a nap that afternoon.  We got home, I got into pajamas, watched the ball drop, kissed J, and immediately went to bed. Heh.

A co-worker who had been based in Belgium for a while is back in the office now - and he brought chocolate gelt that is Euro coins.  The chocolate is average at best but the Euros are cool.  I have to decide how long I can keep them for show without eating them.

I do want to do a 2015 wrap up post, but I need to add up the miles I ran and books I read and things.  I keep those totals in notebooks by hand.  I suppose I could switch to spreadsheets, but there's something satisfying about writing things down.

coughing is an Ab workout, right?
I have a monster cold.  Last Monday we went to see The Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on tour and I could feel my throat getting sorer with every swallow from intermission on.  It moved from the throat, to the congestion, to the cough that settled in on Christmas and stayed. It finally seems to be on an upswing, but it's hard to tell for sure - every day I had a few good hours when I thought I was getting better and it hasn't panned out yet.  Cross your fingers for me this time.

One of the casualties of the illness is my participation in LJ Idol.  I waited until nearly the last moment to sign up, knowing this wasn't great timing for me and not wanting to take a spot from someone who really wanted it, but also wanting to play with all of my friends again.  The first two weeks went like I expected, byes due to the marathon and holiday shopping which left me without a net, and then this damn cold.  I suppose I could have written something from the depths of cold medicine which might have been amusing, if incoherent, but I couldn't pull anything together.

My holidays were lovely and quiet, J and I stayed home and cooked good food and napped (he's sick too), and watched movies.  We have a sort of tradition of watching horror movies on Christmas which we didn't quite live up to, but the whiplash of going from White Christmas, which I had never seen but J had, to Bad Santa seems in a similar vein.  They're both great movies in really, really different ways.

I'm not quite running yet, my foot finally stopped hurting about two weeks after the race, but then this cold arrived and took all my motivation.  I've hit that point where I'm not certain if I'm really too sick to run or using it is an excuse which means I should get out there soon.  Maybe a few bike rides at the Y (indoors!) first to make sure my lungs won't revolt.

I hope everyone who celebrates had lovely holidays, and just everyone did something that makes them happy.

Achievement unlocked
Marathon < five hours

More accurately 4:34:39

Now to ice my foot and nap.

life update
It seems like I've been both crazy busy and that not much has been happening for months - heh.

- We just got back from Colorado for Thanksgiving.  We do dinner with J's 2nd mom & family (they lived down the road in HS, and he apparently spent more time there than his own house. We're all good friends, their kids call us aunt and uncle.)  There were 14 people for dinner on Thursday night and 23 on Friday night, which were two entirely separate meals.  The rest of the weekend was leftovers, appropriately.  J and I spent some time on Monday afternoon driving around the suburbs of Denver where we're thinking we'll be looking to buy, and really liked some of the neighborhoods.  I am still nervous about the move and get into funks where I am certain one thing will go wrong and then imagine it down to it's finite point of awful, but of course nothing will go that wrong because I'd holler before anything reached that point. I also got to run in the snow.  We ended up at a high school track so we wouldn't have to deal with the lack of sidewalks and snowplows; 90 minutes of going in a circle was not very exciting but I felt super hard-core for running in the snow.  Though I will have to figure out what people in cold weather climates do about keeping their feet dry.

- I have not been in much of a holiday mood this year.  I think between travel and training for a marathon this fall I just haven't had a whole lot of quiet time, and right now shopping seems more like a hassle than a fun project.  It doesn't help that with a move in our future presents seem like one more thing to pack.  Hopefully I'll shake out of the holiday funk soon.

- Speaking of not wanting to move things I've started reading "The Wheel of Time".  J owns all of it and said if he ever wants to re-read it he'd likely get it for the kindle so if I can get through it that's a whole shelf of books we don't have to pack.  Book one was awesome - if occasionally a touch predictable.  Everyone I know who has read it found it shortly after it came out and then got stuck waiting between books, it'll be interesting to see if my being able to go straight through makes it more or less enjoyable.

- The marathon is this Sunday.  Physically I'm as ready as I can get, but mentally I'm all at month-end and holidays instead of race prep, so we'll see.  My right foot still hurts but is bearable, and it's not going to get completely better until I take time off.  I've also started seeing a chiropractor for the weirdness in my mid-back.  Always fun when someone who does body work puts their hands on your neck and says "You get headaches, yes?  On the right side mostly?"  Yup.

why not?
So, huh. It's been awhile. Stuff has been happening but once I stop posting it's really easy to just keep not posting and then the first post should be something momentous and things have been good but not momentous and yeah.

In that spirit - why not LJIdol? It won't hurt anything and writing again would be a goodness.

*waves and offers hugs*

It's good to be back.


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