Thursday, April 16, 2009


"It was Don Paolo's birthday and all the people of the village were gathered in the piazza to celebrate him. The band played, the wine flowed, the children danced, and, as he stood for a moment alone under the pergola, a little girl approached the beloved priest.

'But Don Paolo, are you not happy?' she asked him.

'Of course I am happy,' he assured the little girl.

'Why, then, aren't you crying?'"

- from The Lady in the Palazzo, by Marlena De Blasi

Tonight I Remembered

This evening was beautiful. Just cool enough. No wind. Fresh rain water on the street, just enough to keep the dust down, not enough for puddles.
Tonight I remembered why I love running.
The way you can breathe in new life after a stuffy day inside.
The way you can stretch your legs, pump your arms, and work your lungs after sitting for hours on end.
The way an hour can feel like five minutes.
The way problems shrink and anything seems possible.
The way you can be alone with your thoughts and your footfalls and truly enjoy it.
I love nights like tonight.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

34 Minutes, Baby! Yeah!

In the course of training for a race, there are good runs and bad runs. Today was great! I ran my 5.5km (or so) route in 34 minutes, a new personal record. Whoop!
[credit is due, in large part, to the Podrunner podcast I downloaded before I ran. Podrunner is a fantastic series of podcasts available on iTunes to help you work out at a chosen pace.]
In past years my enthusiasm for training usually tapers off quite a bit by late April, early May. This year, though, I feel fired up to put in my very best effort in the weeks to come and see what I can accomplish on race day.
Here's to all the training days ahead!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Unexpected Results

If you search my name on the StarPhoenix website, you'll get a list of my most recent book reviews.
I did such a search today to see if my review from Saturday was listed, and it was.
Along with the StarPhoenix search results, you can click on and see articles that have either my first or last name in them, and usually they are not related to me at all.
I laughed when I saw an article titled "Cougar Roundup" in my search results.
Is the universe trying to tell me something?

Friday, April 10, 2009


Over waffles this morning I read about the Boston Marathon, in the current issue of Runner's World magazine.
I've been a runner for only a couple of years, and when I started my goal was to run for 20 minutes continuously.
Then I decided to run a half marathon, using the run 10 min, walk 1 minute approach.
Then I decided to run another one, and try to finish just a little bit faster.
This year I am attempting to just run, flat out, the entire half marathon.
Quite often on my long training runs I daydream. A recurring scenario is me crossing the finish line in record time. Sometimes, every now and then, I think about what it would take to qualify for Boston.
The Boston Marathon is the only marathon that you have to qualify for. For non-elite runners, making it to Boston is the ultimate achievement. It is the Holy Grail, the El Dorado of running, and only 10% of American marathoners are fast enough.

To qualify, I would have to run a marathon in 3hours, 40 min. I have yet to even run a marathon at all, never mind at such break-neck speeds.
(That would be a half-marathon in 1 hour, 50min. To date, my fastest time is 2:16.)
I can't even wrap my head around running that fast for that long.

But still.

When I read the article about one man's qualifying attempts, I'll admit I got a little teary-eyed. He qualified with only a 21 second margin, after "running through the worst cramp of my life and lay(ing) my guts out in a ropy strand up Michigan Avenue." Because that's the kind of effort it takes to be one of those 10%. Everything you have, and then a whole lot more.

For now, I'll focus on today's hill workout, but dreams of Boston will probably linger. With any luck, they'll make my step a little lighter and my pace a little faster.

Time to lace up.

Monday, April 06, 2009

original church

I exit Tastebuds tonight, and the sky is clear; the breeze from earlier today settled down for the night. I love this kind of weather. It makes me think of my friend Kyla, and if it weren't almost 10:00 on a weeknight, I might just call her to see if she would want to go for a walk. Few things are better than late-night jaunts under a clear sky, with a good friend, meandering conversation that leaves you feeling as though all is right with the world.

Tonight was poetry night, and I leave the cafe feeling happy. On my drive home, I think that this is what God had in mind when he thought about building his church. This small group of people who are growing friendships and laughing together; sharing food and tea, lemonade, hot chocolate (curiously, no one drinks coffee). People learning to trust each other enough to share secrets, failures and longings, punctuated by peals of laughter. The kind of true laughter that follows a bit of sadness, refreshing like a glass of ice cold lemonade on a hot summer day.

There is nothing, I think, that I could tell this group that would invoke any kind of judgement. I suppose it's easier to share because we're writing and then reading, not talking directly to a round of people, intent on helping you out of whatever mess you (or they) think you're in. I don't share something with the hope that they will have any sort of answers; it's merely a statement of fact - I feel this, I was disappointed in that, these are the things that make me happy, etc.

All too often, we gather in small church groups, well aware of how far from perfect we are, but for some reason we pretend it's not all that bad. Or we share something that we secretly don't think is all that bad, and act like we actually want to change. We may share something once every few weeks, something we're "struggling" with, or working on, but it's probably not the biggest thing on our minds right then.
(Even now, I write using "we" instead of "I" because it seems like less of a confession, and I'm sure these thoughts probably stem from my own lack of participation in other groups.)
Still, I feel a definite contrast when I meet my poetry friends every second Monday.

Not to say that it's all seriousness and sadness. Tonight I wrote about a picture of myself, taken when I was a kid. I'm sitting on the kitchen floor, worn blue jeans, western shirt, and my favorite stuffed toy - a lion that was actually very scratchy and not at all cuddly. I'm smiling. And through my exploratory"first thoughts" writing exercise, I realized that picture is a good representation of me. Smiling. Happy. Comfortable. Not doing terribly much, but quite content just to be.

Here's to small groups, in whatever form they come in - whenever we meet, may there be honesty and openness, peppered with laughter.