Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Farts and Giggles

A little perspective never hurts in running, and most assuredly, in life.

In the midst of my latest training train wreck, it was nice to break out in a smile.  And my smile came in the mail courtesy of the nice folks from the Portland Marathon.

Never underestimate the power of a five dollar award.

As you can plainly see, my little piece of painted particle board and enameled brass proclaims, in bright red I might add, that said correspondent did come no less than THIRD (their upper case, not mine) in the Men's Pump and Run, 200-224 40+ class.

So, my first marathon podium... :)

I know, I smiled too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Coming Apart at the Seams

Ahh, life on the loverley West Coast. When it rains, it pours, and not just mainly on the planes nor even just the plains of Spain. Sorry, I've always wanted to do that.

After a coughing bout that left me feeling like I'd cracked a couple of ribs and had me folded in half like a cheap card table, I straightened myself back up and promptly yelped as my sciatic nerve stabbed me in the ass like an assassin's dagger. I threw my back out coughing!? What the Hell is going on here? I demand answers!

To make matters worse, in the past week I have also had to go out and acquire reading glasses. At least if I want to read a menu in what it seems is always a dimly lit restaurant or the fine print in my deal with the Devil, or even the instructions on cooking Mac 'n Cheese. Notice that my reading boils generally boils down to food and sin...

In the midst of my body beginning to come apart at the seams, I have found some solace in reading on the couch and puttering in the kitchen. This is my segue, such as it is to the following quotes:

From M.F.K Fisher's novel, Sister Age. -

"St. Francis gently sang of his family: his brother the Sun, his sister the Moon. He talked of Brother Pain, who was as welcome and well-loved as any other visitor in a life filled with birds and beasts and light and dark. It is not always easy for us lesser people to accept gracefully some such presence as Brother Pain or his cousins, or even the inevitable visits of a possibly nagging harpy like Sister Age. But with a saint to guide us, it can be possible."

As someone who has lived with chronic back pain for over two decades, the last decade following back surgery, there are long periods where Brother Pain is no more than a figure in the background. But when he wants your attention, he wants your attention. And as the years and miles accumulate, Brother Pain and Sister Age are ever more frequent visitors. And try as one might to be a gracious host, not all visitors are welcomed with embraces as equally open or warm... Unless of course you are a saint. I can assure you, I am not.

In a similar vein, Judith Jones wrote in her memoirs, The Tenth Muse of a quote from Alfred North Whitehead: "Cooking is one of those arts which most requires to be done by persons of a religious nature." The quote is in the Chapter entitled, The Pleasure That Lasts the Longest and is a truism I suspect for all the sensual pursuits of life. After the legs have lost a step and the eyes dimmed and lost a little of their focus, your palate can get ever sharper and more adventuresome. Things to look forward to, when the pleasures of the flesh give way to the appetites of the flesh. Sustenance all...

Monday, December 10, 2007

State of Grace

The days and weeks fly by when I am immersed in a writing project. You pull your head up and are shocked at how time has slipped through both your grasp and your awareness.

On top of that I have been helping a close family member get their brand new house ready for another brand new incoming member. A nice thing to be a part of, but another thing to be absorbed by.

Most of late October and the first half of November were great weeks of training. But as the weather here got colder - at least by West Coast standards - my asthma again became a factor in my training. Shades of Portland.

My Achilles Heel does seem to be my carburetors! As soon as I begin doing hard, hard training runs in air temperatures around or below freezing, I can nearly always count on inflaming my lungs and precipitating an asthma attack.

Then, if I am not careful in monitoring my condition, I lay the groundwork for leaving myself wide open for a lung infection, or a nagging cough that develops into bronchitis. These days I am wheezing like an old accordion that has seen one to many Schmengy Brothers Reunion albums... You probably have to be a John Candy or Second City buff to get that allusion.

Speaking of comedy teams - if you like, and especially if you love absurdist English comedy, you must go to and search for The Mighty Boosh. You will either laugh hysterically, or, and probably more likely, wonder yet again what the hell is Hemingson talking about?

Back to my lungs. I have a terrible chest cold right now that leaves me with coughing fits that are even keeping me up at nights. It's a terrible sensation not to feel like you can breath. Like having one of those dreams where you are drowning, except to make matters worse, you are all too wide awake. And having to sit up in bed at night is even worse. So I get up in the middle of the night, exhausted, but unable to breath lying flat.

At this point I have accepted that another marathon this year may well be outside the scope of my bodies ability to cope. Or more accurately, a Boston Qualifying Time Marathon. Such, I guess, is life.

Sometimes you have to accept the inevitable with as much grace as you can.