The American Calgarian

Tales of a Midwesterner transplanted in Western Canada

Archive for the tag “Friends”

Christmas Wish

Joy to the World!

So, its Christmas Eve Day.  I have shopped, baked, wrapped, and all that to prepare for the big day.  Well, almost prepared.  My house is dirty and we have been counting cookies as a food group for a week or so now.

Our tree is decorated in the usual “eclectic” style.  When I see other people’s’ Christmas trees, or those on television, I marvel at how stylish they are.  How everything seems to match and coordinate and all the decorations are so beautiful and.. what’s the word?  congruent.  Ours is not that way.  That’s the way I like it, actually.  I love that our tree ornaments are fit for the island of misfit toys.  They remind me of where we’ve been, friendships old and new and why this season is so special.  There are ornaments from work gift exchanges, kids’ day care projects and the “baby’s first Christmas” trio.

Mid made this one at school.  Its a Scrooge, I think.

Mid made this one at school. Its a Scrooge, I think.

Jaybird made this ornament at Girl Guides.

Jaybird made this ornament at Girl Guides.

Santa came from a former co-worker.

Santa came from a former co-worker.

One of my favorite Christmas decorations does not match anything.  It was a gift from a friend with the explanation, “May this spider web be a reminder that Jesus was not born in a palace or sterile-clean hospital room.  He was born in a humble dirty stable, with animals, loving parents and the Good Lord surrounding him.  During this season surround yourself with God, people you love and love you, be humble and don’t worry about the imperfections.”

Humble Web

This is my Christmas wish for you.  May your days be merry and bright.  May your ornaments not match your decorations.  May you be surrounded with those that love you and you love right back.

Cheers!

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Monday Morning

Friday was a busy day.  I had been gone from home all day and had not listened to the news.  Upon returning home with the kids after school, I took a moment to check my email and news feeds.  The first Facebook post I saw was that of my friend Jim.

“Don’t read the headlines, don’t watch the news, just hug your kids extra tight tonight. THAT is my advice.”

And I thought, huh, wonder what is going on with them.  I made a mental note to check in with Jim and his family later that evening.  Then another post telling me to hug my children.  And another.  Then more informative posts.  I switched to Twitter.  There I found links to CNN and other news organizations.  I started to read the coverage.  As (I imagine) everyone else did, I started to cry.  Apprentice noticed and walked over.  “Are you OKay, Mom?” he asked.  “Did something bad happen?”  I replied that yes, something very bad had happened.  “Did someone die?”  I replied that yes, some people had died.  “Do we know them?”  No, we don’t know them, but I am still very sad.  He hugged me and walked away.

All weekend my husband and I struggled with how to talk about the horrific actions of one person.  We kept the news off of the television and did not discuss the school shooting in front of the kids.  Then came Monday morning.

I was having breakfast with the kids and it occurred to be that other kids may talk about the tragedy in Newtown, CT, at school.  Or, that a prayer may be said during school about it.  I wanted them to hear the news from me.  I did not want them to ask questions as school.  Not that the teachers, administrators and staff at our school can’t deal with it, they are all awesome, (full disclosure, I work there part time).  I just didn’t want them getting information from other kids.  I did not want them to be afraid at school.

“So, today at school you may here about a terrible thing that happened last Friday in the United States.”  They all looked up at me, puzzled.  Mid asked what had happened.  I froze.  All three of them were looking at me with questioning eyes and I choked.  My eyes filled with tears and I tried to get some meaningful words out.  It seemed as if an hour had passed.  “Someone broke into a school in Connecticut last Friday and had a gun.”  Jaws dropped.  Jaybird asked if the person was a kid or adult and if they had hurt anyone.  “It was an adult and yes, he hurt a lot of people.”  They stared at me.  Jaybird broke the silence by saying that she understood.  The boys nodded their heads in agreement and we went back to breakfast.  I started to cry.

I took them to school at the usual time.  When the got out of the car I told them the usual “buona giornata” (have a good day) and added “I love you” in pretty much any language I could think of.  (“Ti amo”, “Ich liebe dich”, “”Nakupenda”)  They got out of the car and walked into school.  I cried the whole way home, thinking of the mothers in Newtown.  Hopefully, when we discuss this tragedy later, I will be able to reassure them that they are safe and that God watches over them.  That their school is full of wonderful children and adults that will help them.  I hope I never have to reassure them of this because it should be a given.  Children should always feel that adults will act in their best interest.

Prayers to all those in Connecticut and all over the world.  Please follow Jim’s advice, today and every day.

 

If you would like to see Jim’s advice more often, please see his blog <HERE>.  It’s a good one.

Fall Farewells

Or, New Beginnings

Or, How did I get this OLD?

This post is inspired by my friend Heather, who shared a touching picture of her husband and daughter embracing as they saw her off to college.  It was move in time for college kids everywhere recently.  My FB feed was full of friends wishing their kids well at a variety of universities and as they enter admirable service to our country in the armed services.  It was this feed about kids going off to start their own lives and the sermon in church about vocation that has made me tear up off and on during the last week.

During one of these little teary sessions Jaybird was contemplating hanging out at Callaway Park with her father for the day.  Normally I would require this to be a family event, but not today.  I told her to just get ready to go ride a roller coaster with her father, for crying out loud, because this will be a picture of the two of them embracing soon enough and I can’t stand how is fast the time going.  She gave me the “Momma is SO crazy” look and took off with her dad.

I stayed home so I got the boys and their friends.  It was a beautiful sunny day so I had but one requirement for their play dates.  Nothing electronic.  No video games, iPads, DS players, TV.  We went to the park nearby (thankfully) to play for a while.  I was reflecting on all the college moving pictures and writing this post about how difficult it can be to let go in said park when I saw a father teaching his son to ride a two-wheel bike.  It struck me.. is moving a kid into college and teaching them to ride a bike kind of the same thing?  And yes, I see the hypocrisy of me writing the blogpost on my iPad in the park while they fulfilled their requirement of “No Electronics.”  I am Mom, the Boss.  Such rules do not necessarily apply to me.  Don’t judge.  But I digress.

We show them how to live independently, pedal a bicycle.  We let go little by little.  We cheer them.  They fall.  We encourage them to try again (or flat-out require it, but whatever).  We assure them that all the hard work will be worth the reward.  For young adults, it is a productive life in their chosen vocation.  For kids on bikes, it’s the freedom to go to their friend’s house on their own power.

I sent my kids back to school last week and we have returned to some sort of comforting school year routine.  I tried to kiss Mid goodbye on the first day of school but he wouldn’t allow it without a serious bribe, (which I did not pay).  Well played, but I can assure everyone that there will be times when I will kiss him in front of all his friends.  And as they start their school year, I am doing the same thing I have done every fall since they started kindergarten.  I cheered a little, cried a little and prayed (keep praying) that they will have a successful school year.  Letting go little by little every year.

Mickey Hits the Lights

Or, The Latest in a Series of Altercations Involving My Children as Summer Comes to a Close

As I type I can hear them quarrelling on the floor above me.  There is stomping of the feet and some “Stop it!  I am serious!”, followed by a plea to whomever may be listening to make the other kids more like the kids on Good Luck Charlie.   Uh oh.  I just heard something serious.  Be right back.

Well, who would have thought that stuffed animals were tools of war among siblings?  I have warned that there will be no throwing of the stuffies and the fighting needs to stop.  It’s all quiet up there for now.  That’s not good either.  When they are quiet something more sinister is usually going on.  I had better go check.

Nope.  Just quiet sulking.  Also, “Mom, can we ppuuullllleeeeeaaasssse watch some TV?”  That’s a negative.

To their credit, we went on a bike ride/run today that was longer than usual.  They had requested to go by a few friends’ houses in the neighborhood and I decided to capitalize on the opportunity.  I had a 8k run to do this afternoon and was a little worried as to how I would get it done.  Going along with their idea to pass the houses was sure to put us in the right distance.  Worked like a charm, by the way.

So now I hear a hushed voice, “Uh oh.  I am telling Mom.  You are in big trouble.”

I am waiting.  When I started to hear some stomping and yelling I decided to ignore it.  They are upstairs and safe, so we will just have to see who comes out unscathed.  I think this is the way mother lions handle their young, right?  I have never seen nor heard of a mother lion intervening in a fair fight between her cubs.

Here come the footsteps.  “Mom, you had better come upstairs.”

And here is the reveal…

No one is hurt.  They all start to tell on each other.  I explain that I am not interested in who did what because they are all sharing the guilt in this one.  No activities that require electricity for the remainder of the day.  NOW they are really mad.  I rub some salt in the wound and suggest they go to the park. Daggers come out of their eyes.  Why does this entertain me?

And is it wrong that I kind of want to know who threw Mickey into the light?  It would not have been easy and I want to know if we have a left- or right-handed pitcher in our midst.

Hometown Run

I have been doing reasonably well keeping up with runs while on vacation.  The weather has been hot so the runs have typically been pretty early in the morning, before the heat and humidity set in.

Running was never really my “thing” when I was a kid living in this small Wisconsin town.  I played tennis for the most part and some other organized sports in school.  Every now and again I would go for runs while between sports seasons or when I needed to get out of the house.  Usually my dad would accompany me.  He said it was because he liked to run, although I think it was just to be sure that I was actually running and not getting into any trouble.  Well played, Dad, well played.

Anyway, back to now.  I have become a runner of sorts so I had my mind set to at least 4 runs per week while on vacation.  So far, so good.  Good for now, as I am in my hometown and I know where I am going.  We will see what happens on a little road trip in a few days.  Running through my hometown has been a refreshing trip down memory lane.  As I pass houses that were once inhabited by friends and may still be the home of their parents, many memories of good times growing up came flooding back.

Today while crossing the street I saw a driver that resembled a friend from high school.  So deep in my thoughts that I said to myself, “His parents must have gotten a new car. Didn’t his mom have a little yellow Mazda?”  Ridiculous, of course, because we are old enough to buy our own cars, and the Mazda is most likely long gone.  When the car turned and I saw the personalized plates, I was brought back to present day, albeit briefly.

I have not been running a set route, just kind of going wherever the wind takes me.  This morning I approached the middle school, thinking of awkward dances back in the day, followed by Park Plaza Pizza (so yummy).  Crossing the street, there was the church where I was confirmed and spent many a Sunday morning and Christmas.  Heading back to my parents’ house, memories came into my head of the summer when Jenifer broke her foot and consequently the theme song for our summer was “I Want to Ride my Bicycle”.  There was the house that hung the Halloween costumes in the attic window, which totally freaked out Julie and I as we walked by one Friday night.  I came into contact with two running groups, one of teenage boys and one of teenage girls, and for a fleeting moment I tried to recognize the kids.  Do I know any of them?  Of course not.  I passed a few houses where I once babysat children and wondered where they all are currently living.  I also thought of school teachers as I passed one of their homes.  Band trips, tennis meets, homecoming, prom…

Things look a little different in my hometown but one thing is certain. LakeShore Drive is a good morning run.  So if you are in the greater Beaver Dam area and see a 40ish year old with a ponytail poking out of a white hat of the next couple of weeks, please wave or beep.  Or better yet, lace up your shoes to come run with me and we’ll catch up.

Independence Day

It’s Fourth of July weekend. The time of year when we load our kids into the minivan and park on the side of the road on top of a hill and wait for the small towns around us to start their fireworks. By the end of the displays, our necks hurt from straining from side to side to see all the different firework shows. We are up late, running around, celebrating Independence Day.

It’s the time of the year when the backyard neighbors see our fire pit going and come down the hill with a pitcher of margaritas and glasses. Again, our kids play inside and out while we enjoy each other’s company over a fire, drinks and finger foods. Its nice out, cool in the evening and warm and sunny during the day. There are parades through every downtown with people sporting red, white and blue outfits. There are marching bands, (once upon a time I was in a marching band.. loved it), loud bands, signs of patriotism everywhere. Every evening the noise of fireworks interrupts our sleep and the smell of burnt fuses is in the in the smoky air.

It’s the time of year when grandparents, family and friends come over and we grill dinners. We have fruit salads, vegetable salads and pasta salads followed by icey-pops and frozen custard. We are a mess of sunscreen, mosquito repellant and sweat. It is summer in Wisconsin and it is a great time of year. We relax by lakes, relive years gone by and reflect on how lucky we are to live in a free country. Of course, we give thanks for those that fought to make it so.

I still live in a free country, but this year there is only red and white. The stars and stripes have been replaced by a maple leaf. If you are saying to yourself, “Man, she seems homesick,” you are right. I love our home in Canada and feel very thankful to be close to the mountains, living in a great country with terrific people. But it is not home. Not yet, anyway.

We attended the festivities for Canada Day this week, as it is a national holiday here as well. It did not disappoint. The sun was shining, there many areas for people to hang out eat, try on cowboy hats or whatever. I was an arm’s length from Naheed Nenshi, Mayor of Calgary. Really, I was. I wish I had the camera ready. He gave a little speech that made my homesickness go away.

He talked of Canadian independence. He talked of being thankful to live in a free country. But what hit home for me was his talk of the Canadian tradition to welcome people from all over the world into this great country. To show that all are welcome here. It made me smile. So, although this started as a self-pitying post about my longing to celebrate the 4th of July with American friends in the great state of Wisconsin, I am finishing by saying that I am a lucky woman. I am a citizen of the United States and while we may not get everything right and our foreign policy may be a little off at times, (our domestic policy can be way off, too, come to think of it), I still believe in us. I believe that we can do great things and that despite the challenges the US faces, we are still one of the best games in town. I am also lucky because I live in a country that welcomes newcomers and is doing and capable of doing great things, albeit more quietly and politely than their southern neighbors.

So this week, no matter if you are celebrating Canadian independence, The United States’ independence, or are lucky enough to celebrate both, I urge you to take a moment.  Breathe it all in, look around you and count blessings.  My guess (and my hope) is that you will have too many to count.

Mid’s Birthday

How did this baby boy get so big?

Its happening.  My children are growing older, smarter, funnier, more independent..  at times it takes my breath away.

Recently Mid celebrated his 9th birthday.  We invited of few of his friends to Calaway Park in Calgary.  It was a really nice day.  I am thankful for the friends Mid has made and the boys that were at his party; such nice kids.  Some of the parents stuck around, which was terrific.  They were an extra set of hands and eyes as our merry little troop navigated the rides.

So, nine years ago today, JB and I got up out of bed, took Girl to day care and informed her that when her dad came to pick her up later that day, she would be a big sister.   Worth noting, due to complications from my pregnancy with her, I had to have a C-section and it was scheduled for Tuesday morning.  It was a bit weird to pick my son’s birthdate, but as a Type A German, it was also nice to be able to plan for his arrival.  So after dropping Girl at day care, we were off to check into the hospital.  At the time, my parents lived about an hour away.  We told them they did not have to come, that we would call them when Mid was born, but they showed up anyway.  Its kind of cute how my parents try to be all cool and together when exciting stuff is happening in our family and they just have to be part of it.  Anyway… my parents were there.

Over the past nine years, Mid has challenged me in ways that his older sister has not.  He climbed through the kitchen cabinets.  He bull-rushed the baby gate to keep him safe from falling down the stairs.  He threw tantrums.  Every now and then, he looks at me, hugs me and tells me, ever so tenderly, “you are the best mom I’ve ever had”, giggles and runs off.  I have not been allowed to hold his hand or kiss him in public for two years.  *sigh*

I am getting all misty again, so back to the party.  Mid decided that he had enough stuff, so we had a food drive.  He asked that his friends bring items for the food pantry in place of bringing presents.  Super proud of him for that.  And a bit relieved, because I really don’t want to figure out how to cram more beeping plastic into our house.  But I digress.

 

Highlights of the day were the many rides the boys went on throughout the park.   On the first ride someone let it slip that there was a birthday boy present.  The attendant stopped everything and had all those within earshot sing “Happy Birthday” to Mid.  He was embarrassed.  And by that, I mean he loved it.  Apprentice went on his first roller coaster, no doubt influenced by his longing to do anything/everything his brother does.  My daughter brought a friend, so not to be surrounded by boys – ick! – all day.  They had a blast doing their own thing.  At last, the time came for brownies and snacks.   Like starving wolves, the boys descended on the picnic table to pick up snacks and juice.  Silly me, I brought napkins and forks.  When the feeding frenzy was over, so was the party and the brownies I had lovingly prepared, (with the help of a box mix labeled “Ghirardelli”, don’t judge), had disappeared.  A most satisfying day.

Today I am thankful for the second of my children.  Happy Birthday!

mmm… birthday ice cream…

Race Day Review

“There will come a day when I can no longer run marathons.  Today is not that day.”

I saw the picture on a friends Facebook wall a couple of days before running the Calgary Marathon and it stuck with me, though during the race it needed to be switched over to a more positive tone.   My mantras on race day were as follows, repeated in no specific order –

Just keep swimming.

Today is MY day.

This is fun!

So a few days after the race, my soreness is gone, yet I am still high as a kite.  To answer the question I get asked by non-runners, “Is there such a thing as runner’s high?”  YES, hell YES.

Back to Sunday for a little race report..

Alarm goes off at 4:30AM.  I snooze it, only to be awakened by the second alarm I set for 4:32AM.  I swear and get out of bed.  The night before I had carefully planned my check bag, running gear, written myself little reminders and piled my running outfit in order of how it gets put on, (so as to not have to turn on lights and wake up JB, thoughtful, right?)  After dressing, I went downstairs for the usual breakfast on the morning of a long run.  Bowl of oatmeal, two pieces of toast, apple juice and a banana.

5AMish – pull out of the garage, head to the train station.  I had signed the “Green Pledge” with the marathon.  I agreed to take public transit to/from the event, would carry my own water and nutrition and whatever I carried in, I would also carry out.  Totally easy.  Actually, carrying my own water and nutrition worked in my favor.

5:15AMish – get on train. Now, as many know, (thanks Jim), I am not a morning person.  I don’t like talking with anyone until I have had a run or coffee or both. It’s not like I am mean or anything, I just like things quiet.  I was quite lucky that the woman who sat next to me talked the entire friggin way to the stop for the race.  The whole way.  It was 35 minutes of listening to this woman go on about her half marathon races and triathlons and how she hated to run but needs to as part of her tri training and blah blah..  I was thinking seriously bad things.  I did not want to engage in conversation, which proved difficult, because true to Canadian form, she was so NICE.  Ugh.

6AM – arrive at Calgary Stampede grounds, go inside building.  It was a little cold outside; I could almost see my breath.  I couldn’t resist crossing the building and walking outside to see the finish line.  Returning inside, I was pleased to see many of the people who I have been training with over the last few months.  We chatted, checked our bags and waited.  BTW, I would be remiss if I did not mention that the bag check was terrific.  Highly efficient and convenient.  The first of many good things done by the volunteers on race day.

6:50AM – time to line up at the start line.  We made our way to the starting area and seeded ourselves appropriately.  What does that mean?  As a runner, you have an idea as to your finish time.  You find the pace bunny with that time on their sign and you line up in their general area.  Our training group had a plan as to where we would line up.  We would start together, but more than likely not finish together.  Another word of advice for newbie runners – training with a group is definitely beneficial, but have “the talk” before race day about your individual race goals and plan to run alone.  Our little group had decided that although we were starting together, we would each run our own race and may not finish together.  As it turned out, we did not.

7AM – GO TIME!  The rest is such a blur.  So here are some highlights.

I love Calgary.  The route went through some beautiful areas and I tried to make mental notes of where I was all the time.  Mostly because I saw a house for sale or a restaurant or something, but the city is just beautiful.  I enjoyed the scenery.

Best signs – “My Mom is faster than your Mom”, “I like your stamina, CALL ME”, and toward the end, ala Ryan Gosling, “Hey, Girl, I am at the finish line waiting for you.  And I lost my shirt.”  I also took advantage of every “Official High Five Station”.  It is so fun to run a race and have children hold our their hands for a high-five.  I tried to thank the police officers and volunteers along the course that held traffic for us and generally cheered us on.  As an aside, why are all the Calgary Police Officers so good-looking?

I had asked JB to be anywhere after the 34K marker as this is when I thought I would need his encouragement.   Funny story, as told from my husband’s point of view..

We (JB and my 2 boys) took the train to downtown so to be close to the 35K marker.  Arrived at our preferred vantage point a minute before the pace bunny Erika had told us she would start with approached.  SCORE!  Pace bunny and group passes, no Erika.  I told the boys to be patient, that perhaps Mom fell back a little and was with the next pace group.  Next pace group comes and goes.  No Erika.  I then told the boys that we had to run back to the train station and get to the finish line/Stampede Grandstand area as we missed Mom.  This was either really good, meaning she was ahead of her anticipated pace, or really bad.. didn’t want to think about nor tell the boys about worst case scenario.  We ran to the train station and arrived in the Grandstand area near the finish line just in time to hear it announced that Erika was coming into the finish.  Luckily, we were right at the finish line to watch her come in.

Okay, back to me.  I felt great almost the entire run.  I had checked my pace band several times, consistently in front of where I wanted to be.  This was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. About the 40K marker, my feet started to feel heavy, like I had lead in my shoes.  I welcomed the uneasiness and gave myself one final pep talk.  My plan was to do 10/1 intervals, run for 10 minutes, walk for 1 minute, and this kept my legs going and my breathing steady.  I stuck to the plan of taking a hit of nutrition and water on each walk break.  Huge fan of the 10/1 intervals.

Upon hearing my name being announced at the Stampede Grandstand, I had to take a deep breath and my eyes watered.  There is something about running into a grandstand with people cheering and feeling great that just kind of gets to you.  As adults, we don’t get many opportunities to work toward a goal and see the culmination of our efforts with a big event and celebration at the goal’s completion.  Think about it.  As kids, we have piano or dance lessons, which result in a recital.  We have sports practices that result in games, tournaments and trophies.  As adults in the workforce, we work hard on projects for promotions and accolades, and at the completion of those tasks we are rewarded with.. more work.  Perhaps the promotion and accolades as well, and those or both really good things, but there is new work that comes with it.  Sorry, I got off topic.

Anyway…  Luckily I composed myself enough for this picture, taken by JB as I came through the corral after receiving my medal.

It was a great day for many people.  I am so thankful for the running group and new friends I have made through training for this event.  I will be back!

One my favorite running quotes.. “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not the beat the other runners.  Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

Never quit, my friends, never quit.

The Big Question

The last few clinics have been about strategy for the upcoming Calgary Marathon.  At this point, as any marathoner knows, physically, we are pretty well-tuned.  We have run miles and miles and miles.  Now, it’s all in our head.

So, the question becomes..  Why am I doing this?

It’s a good question.  And one every runner must answer prior to lining up at the start line.  Trust me, you do not want to be searching for meaning at mile 23 on a marathon course.  You will cry.  You will possibly walk off the course and quit.  Good advice I received from marathoners prior to my first race and now I am passing it on.. know why you are out there.

A little background..  I got started in this marathon thing thinking that it was a “bucket list” item.  I imagined JB and I sitting around when we are old, listening our smartypants grandchildren going on about their accomplishments, when their mother/father says to them,  “you know, your grandmother ran a marathon.”  They will immediately bow at my feet, ooing and aahing, in awe of my prowess.  And then ask how I got so old.  So that ridiculous daydream, inspired by a Chicago Marathon poster on Michigan Avenue, is how it started.  From there, I met Jennifer.  She had a marathon medal and some pictures in her “office” ( I put office in quotes because it was really a tiny cubicle only befitting a Skinner mouse) and I asked what they were all about.  Jennifer proceeded to tell me about The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society Team In Training and the marathon training program.  It sounded like a good charity, good program, so I looked into it.  But I wasn’t quite ready.  At that time, I had never run more than a 5k and truth be told, it had been awhile.  Jennifer suggested a half marathon in Madison and handed me a training program. We trained and ran the Madison Half Marathon in spring 2009.  After completion of my first half-marathon I was hooked.

I proceeded to run two marathons with Team In Training.  The fundraising for cancer research and patients was rewarding, as were the friendships that came out of training for those races.  When we moved to Calgary last fall I continued to run and exercise.  I wanted to run a spring marathon, but did not know where to start.  Also, training can get lonely.  So I took my own advice and reached out, enrolled in a “new school” and made some new friends through the Running Room.

Back to the recent clinic and the issue at hand.  Why am I doing this?  I have been pondering the question a bit during my solo runs.  Here is what I have..

1. I am running for me.  This sounds selfish and I say it a little sheepishly.  I have run for charity and felt great about it, but this time it’s just me.  I have a finish time goal in mind and it is a number that has been on my mind for about a year.

2. I am running for my family.  I would simply not be able to do all the training, etc, if not for the support I receive from JB and my kids.  I miss weekend breakfasts, stretch while I help them with homework and they always are there to listen to my running stories.  The kids are even willing to help me roll out my legs when needed, (for the going rate of $0.25 each).  So I also run with thankfulness for JB and our kids, my parents and parents-in-law and all those in my family that support me through this masochist adventure.

3. I run for a lot of friends.. some listed here.  Jennifer, who first told me I could run a marathon.  Mike, who probably thought I would not take him up on an offer to be a running partner when the mileage got upwards of obnoxious.  Seth, who is running his first full marathon on the same day as me, though a country and time zone away.  In my mind, I will be running with him.  Rick, who I roped into a couple of half marathons and is running his first marathon this spring.  Lisa, a friend from long ago.  Her mom told my mom that she started running after seeing that I had done it, (we are from Lake Wobegon :)).  She is running her first half marathon this spring and I am proud of her.  For so many other running buddies.  Jess, Dione, Dano, Lori, Captain Efficiency, Mike, Dayo, Paul..  Other friends that, while not runners, are stronger than I can imagine.  Lisa, who is battling brain cancer.  Cheryl, who is battling breast cancer.  Leslie, who battled and WON the battle against breast cancer.  All the other folks fighting battles that make the fatigue/soreness/delirium we face at mile 23 seem so insignificant.

Five days and counting.  I would say that this will be my last marathon, but who am I kidding?

Something’s missing…

By this time in the spring, or for at least the last three, I am in throes of marathon training.  The last two years I have been on way to an obnoxious number of miles on the Saturday before Easter.  I would get up at dawn, dress, eat, get my running list playing, text my running buddy and slide out the door.

I could do the run in my sleep.  In fact, if I close my eyes and I can still picture all the mileage.  Run north on Comanche, turn east and pass North High School, run around Lowell Elementary, turn left on Madison.  There is a church on Madison that had a “tomb” and two Roman soldiers standing guard starting Good Friday until (I imagine, anyway) Easter morning.  At this point in my run, still in a good mood and really just getting started, I would see these soldiers.  As I approached, they would stand.  Being a Christian on Easter weekend and feeling feisty starting on my long run, I called out.

“He Is Risen!”  I raised my arms to the sky and flashed a huge smile of thankfulness.  As an aside, I love Easter.  The whole idea of the holiday and unconditional love and forgiveness and all that gets me a little choked up.  But I digress.

I expected, and wanted, a response mirroring my proclamation. “Yeah, that’s tomorrow”, is what I received, as if they were fraternity brothers coming home from a rough night.  WHAT? I carried on with the run, a bit confused.  Turning down Moreland I could help but giggle at the silliness of it.

When meeting my friend Mike at the Glacial Drumlin Trail, as I did many a Saturday, I told him about the encounter with the Roman soldiers and we had a good laugh.  As a fellow runner, church goer and generally good person he would run outrageous distances with me for fun while I trained.  I also think that he enjoyed my suffering, as he is a stronger runner than I, but that’s not important now.

Saturdays used to be my long run mornings because of church commitments on Sunday.  This spring my long runs have changed to Sunday mornings for group runs with the (apparently godless) Canadians.  Today, the day before Easter, I had short run in the crisp morning sun.  But something was missing.  As I passed a small church in the neighborhood, I was reminded of the previous years and the Roman soldiers.  I was thinking that if Mike were here we would most likely be discussing legalization of marijuana, same-sex marriage, the recent election in Wisconsin, church, our spouses and kids, goings on at work and do a little singing in the later miles. I was thinking that I missed those Roman Soldiers this Saturday.

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