Sunday, December 27, 2009

I like to boogie boogie

Kauai has been awesome. It's been nice not worrying about being a local. Much colder here than Maui, though. Brrr!

Boogie boarding may be one of the most joyful activities on earth. Such a simple, uncomplicated thing produces such a huge amount of fun. Still managed to get pummeled into the floor of the ocean by a few waves, but that's ok. Sandburn wounds were relatively minimal.

My freckles are coming back. I haven't seen them in years. I love freckles.

Going on a kayaking/hiking trip tomorrow. 5 miles of paddling, 2 of hiking. Should be a nice easy day.

Pictures next week? Cross your fingers for the iMac to be at our doorstep (and all in one piece) when we return.

Also, the whales are showing up in the waters of Maui! Hoping to see some when we get there. 


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka!

FYI: "Mele Kalikimaka" = "Merry Christmas"... though I'm sure you could figure that out.

The term amuses me somewhat, because prior to white missionaries, there was no Christmas on the islands. The people believed in many gods and goddesses.

So, I'm just curious about how they came about making up their own words for "merry" and "Christmas." Maybe it really means something else and most of us will never know any better.

My Christmas has been a little disorganized and early, but still fun. Pictures will come soon since we've finally started to take some with our handy dandy new waterproof camera. Unfortunately, we found out that our computer is somewhere on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and won't be around for several more weeks. But! I still promise pictures.

Finally got in the water for some swimming and a little snorkeling! Isaac got video of a sea turtle that swam right up next to him.

Spent the night before my birthday at an amazing restaurant, compliments of my generous and deeply-missed Chinle friends.

Spent half of my birthday being sick, but the origins of the sickness are unknown. Isaac and I ate much from one another's plates and shared dessert and he wasn't sick, so I'm wondering if it wasn't a parasite from some wild fruit I picked off a tree. (The fruit here is really good though, so don't go thinking that will stop me from doing it again!)

Our house is completely painted, colorful, and lovely. Starting to feel more like a home! Will eventually get around to collecting art and framing photos after the New Year.

For Christmas, Isaac is working in Kauai, but was generous enough to put me on a plane to be with him for the week. More island adventures! Decided that I'm not going to worry so much about "seeming local" and am going to enjoy the week "away from home" as a tourist, taking in all the sights, swimming and surfing. Hopefully my first few days on a surfboard don't result in bodily harm.

My Christmas gift this year was given by Isaac---who apparently knows me too well! I've been spending the last several years self-teaching myself many cooking techniques. Based on many successes, I've been getting pretty good! (I still have failures, but keep telling myself it's part of the learning process).

I watched the movie Julie&Julia with Isaac, and that---along with watching and envying my future father-in-law's talents in the kitchen---really made me want to take on some more French techniques. So Isaac bought me a hard-bound copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking along with the promise that I could choose one recipe in it and that he will buy the ingredients for it, no questions asked. (Given the price of some French ingredients, based on what I read in the first 40 pages of the book's foreword, that's a very generous gift).

Needless to say, I'll probably be on the phone with Mr. Schaefer soon with my inquisitive mind a-buzzing.

Anyway, that's enough writing for now. Perhaps more pictures, fewer words in the future, once I get better at this whole blogging thing.


P.S. If you're a friend of mine who'd like to receive an awesome postcard from Hawai'i, hit me up with your address!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Colors are Good

I decided---and got Isaac's approval---to paint our house in bright colors. I like bright colors, they're happy, energizing and empowering. So far, so good. I started by painting the bathroom a fairly loud shade of orange called "Mango Madness." It just sounds fun, doesn't it?

The spare room/guest room/office is two shades of blue divided by white trim. I would have preferred turquoise, but it's still nice.

Next up: going to have a "Lemongrass" colored bedroom, and a "Spiced butternut" colored hallway, living room, and kitchen.

It's going to be awesome. I picked the right/worst time to do all the painting too. It's been cloudy, windy, rainy and cold (you know, high 60's-low 70's) so I don't feel like I'm being punished by staying inside. On the other hand, the rain makes the air extra moist, which makes the paint take a verrrry long time to dry between coats.

It's making me fret just a little bit because my intention is to have the entire house fully painted and perfectly cleaned before Isaac gets home from Kauai. Kind of as a surprise, kind of to make sure he has a really nice place to come home to, but mostly so he and I don't end up using up his days off finishing the job together. The weather should be good by the time he gets home, and I'd like to get in the water with him.

Don't tell him. He doesn't read my blog, so I'm pretty confident he won't have a clue unless someone reading this tells him.

Wish me luck! Hoping to get it all done soon. Maybe the air will dry out a little today...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bruised Bottom

It's been a busy first week in Hawai'i!

Hoping our computer makes it here in one piece. There won't be any posting of pictures until that happens. Sorry!

The first week has been mostly filled with....(wait for it)...errands! Whoo! Lots of Craigslisting. Trying to get furnished on a dime. Still holding out for a few things, but we're getting there!

Stocking the kitchen with real food has been one of the biggest hurdles. I can't stop thinking about how much I paid for milk this week (About $7 for half a gallon that was on sale). Fortunately, I'm already learning about the best places to shop and CSAs and roadside produce stands. The produce out here is really wonderful. Things I've never heard about before required one taste to get me hooked. Tasted an unripe Guava yesterday...the ripe ones are good, but I really like the tartness of an underripe one, too.

The cost of living is constantly shocking me. We run into and hear about so many people who live here without jobs and just surf. I don't know how they do it without starving to death. Trust funds, perhaps? I dunno. I'm on the hunt for a job this week. Every little bit will help.

Did a hike yesterday and hurt myself. They call the hike "The Commando" because, as the locals who showed it to us said, you have to be a commando to do it. You first walk up a slippery stream (I seemed to be the only one on the hike who had a hard time not slipping all over the place), then free climb up two waterfalls. After climbing those falls, there's no turning back because it's not safe to climb down or jump. After that, we climbed through a pitch-black lava tube filled with pool after pool of cold water. Then, we broke out of the tube into the sunlight, and made a quick hike to the first of three waterfalls that we had to jump off of. The first was about 15 ft. No prob. The second, 50 ft.

The 50-footer is where I hurt myself. I was told to jump, get my balance with my arms, then go in straight like a pencil, arms at my side. 50 feet is totally enough time to do that, right? Right...unless you're Natalie and time seems to go faster for you than for others. I went in, all bent and clumsy, and landed right on my butt. It hurt. There were physical repurcussions that might make your stomach queasy, but I guarantee you that I have never had such an enormous, dark bruise on my body as I have today. Laughing, sneezing, leaning forward, sitting, and um....going potty, all hurt.

The third waterfall we had to jump off was 35 feet, and you had to jump several feet out to avoid turning into red sauce all over the lava rocks beneath. After being in pain and a little shock, I couldn't muster the confidence to jump that far out. Everyone else jumped, I climbed down the roots of a tropical tree into the water. The bonus: fell upon a patch of wild ginger that would have been otherwise undiscovered!

Despite my bruised bottom and whiplash, I have to say: amazing hike. Really wish we had a waterproof camera that I could have taken along. Some of the other guys did. If I could find a way to get in touch with them and get copies of their photos, I may end up posting some from it, after all.

So, that was my first big adventure in Maui! There has been a little bit of beach time. The only swimming I did was through the streams and waterfall pools on that hike. Next week I'm hopefully going to start learning to surf. Looking forward to that! Hopefully I will be able to keep up with Isaac.

This week: job hunting, resume perfecting, and non-stop painting! My goal is to have this place painted to perfection before Isaac gets home from Kauai on Tuesday so he feels really comfortable and at-home when he returns. Lots of manual labor, but maybe it will give me some nice arm muscles to start paddling a surf board with. :-)

Thursday, December 10, 2009


We made it! It's gorgeous. 10,000 ft mountains on one side of our house, an ocean view on the other. Wow. Just, wow.

Living out of boxes. No hangers, no dressers, no furniture, so nowhere to put anything. Not that it matters. Why spend any time indoors when I can be out in the sun?

Some time this week, though, I'll be confined to the indoors. Much to do! Must organize, paint, get furniture and arrange it, do some cleaning, stock the kitchen... it's going to be great when it's done. I may hate packing, and not be the biggest cleanign enthusiast in the world, but I actually do love homemaking. And I will make this place home if it takes all week!

Going to Oahu today for Isaac's company Christmas party in Honolulu. Should be fun!

Pictures to come...eventually. Hopefully sooner than later.

P.S. I didn't realize how great it would be here. I don't think I'm really going to miss Chinle as much as I thought I would...

Friday, December 4, 2009

So close!

We are almost done!

Boxes shipped to parents' homes for winter storage? Check.
Large quantities of boxes and bags fllled for donations to the local church thrift store? Check.
All of our boxes for the plane packed? Check!

Now, to just wrap up a few minor details and clean. Then we'll be free birds. Whew!

I should mention, that my fiance planned a magnificent surprise birthday party for me that happened last night at a friend's house. Some of our Chinle friends were there. It was really, REALLY nice of them to take the time to do that, plus put in the effort of preparing drinks and snacks. They all pitched in and got me a gift certificate to the Maui Fish House. Yum! What a nice way  to say goodbye and go. Now my only regret is that we aren't staying long enough for me to do something nice in return. :-)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

300 Pounds

300 pounds of "stuff" is what my and Isaac's life is boiling down to. We have been purging just about everything: furniture, winter clothing, ski gear, snowboard gear, winter boots, winter shoes, rugs, dishes, linens, picture frames, wall art, you name it. If we can't justify bringing it to Hawaii, we aren't.

As of right now, our lives fit into 6 rubbermaid containers, that are each under 50 lbs, and two suitcases that are small enough for the overhead bins of any airplane, large or small.

It kind of makes me wonder...what was I doing with all of that stuff in the first place?

Moving to Hawaii is starting to feel very clean and Zen. Goodbye, clutter! Hello open seas, open hearts, and sunshine!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love like a dog

A week and a half until I'm in Hawaii. Officially! 10 days!

I can't help but think about leaving Dax behind. I'm trying to find some silver lining in it.

Even as understanding as people can be, they don't forget about being left behind. But dogs! Oh, dogs. They just love their people so much that no sin is unforgivable. We get mad that they jump up on us when they see us; but it's just that they're so excited to see us, they forget their manners and just try to show us some love. Whether I leave the house for 5 minutes, 5 days, or a few months, he'll just be thankful I came back for him when I return.

If there is just one benefit to owning and caring for a dog, it's knowing that there is something in your home that loves you more unconditionally than anyone but a mother could. And knowing that every time you see them, no matter how long they've been away from you, that loyalty for you is just as strong as when you left.

I sure hope Dax loves Hawaii as much as I'm sure Isaac and I will. For as much love as he gives us, I think he really deserves a home he can enjoy. His favorite game is water fetch, so hopefully he sees all the shoreline and warm water as his own personal doggy heaven.

Friday, November 13, 2009

P vs. C

Overblogging? You bet I am! Sitting home alone for several days with a dog who has suddenly become the #1 fan of The Nap has led me to a path of boredom. And you know what boredom means: waaaay too much time with my own thoughts!

So, tonight's special is the Pros vs. Cons of moving to an island.

Pro: Warm sunny days all year long.

Con: Totally screwed if the polar ice caps melt. (Hang in there, arctic shelf!)

Pro: At least three kinds of surfing that I can think of right now.

Con: All that money I spent on snowboarding gear two years ago is laid to waste.

Pro: I will be driving a scooter!

Con: I have to navigate the world of traffic again.

Pro: Locally grown produce at my fingertips.

Con: I will have a kitchen of mayhem for a few months, trying to figure out how to use all new fruits and veggies.

Pro: Family may actually be interested in visiting!

Con: Friends and acquaintances may be too interested, and landlords in HI (as we found out yesterday) charge per week for house guests of tenants.

Pro: That means we have an excuse to set boundaries and protect our privacy.

Con: I don't want to deal with the politics of it if people take it personally.

Pro: It will be faster to get to either parents' house now than it was to drive off the Rez and through the mountains

Con: It's also about 10 times more expensive than driving.

Pro: It's Hawaii...and I can't really muster up a "con" for that.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Direction

Well, my life is just going through waaaaay too many transitions right now for me to focus on running. My workout routine at the gym is still pretty consistent, but moving, organizing, selling, giving away items, packing.... and planning to find a home, a car and a job, all from thousands of miles away. It's kind of overwhelming!

So, I'm considering either changing the name of this blog or starting a new one. Which means I'll either have to change the name of this one or come up with a name for a new one. Any suggestions are welcome.

Right now, there are about 7 different piles of clothes in my living room. Bags for people who want specific items, boxes full of "free giveaway" items, divided by gender. Piles of things that we want to keep, but won't be able to use in Hawaii, and piles of things we know we need to part with, but don't know how to do that (selling, charity, friends?)

The saddest part about this clothing situation is that I have 6 pairs of boots. They have to go. Probably to my sister because who else has feet this small? Let it be said that I am a boot FANATIC. I relish the weather cooling off simply so that I have an excuse to wear closed toed sexy boots that zip up over the calf of my skinny jeans. I don't even care if it's not "in style" one season. I love it.

The upside? I will, after all, get to wear my Chacos on a daily basis. I am even hoping that I can find a job that allows Chacos as part of their dress code.

The waves of anxiety, fear and excitement are shifting. There has been more excitement than anything else. However, the move is still bittersweet. There is still much I love about Chinle:

The fact that the people hold fast to their traditions and you can see them everywhere. From ceremonies, to the way they support their elders, to the arts and symbolic traditions they carry on, and even traditional housing, like the Hoghaan here which is behind our house:

I'll definitely miss the intensity of a desert sunset. I've never seen a picture do it justice, and this picture is no exception:

And, as much as I thought I'd hate it, I love the wide, open, undisturbed space. I almost feel forgotten about here in Chinle, and something about that feels safe...

That doesn't mean that I love everything about Chinle. There are things I'll be happy to get away from, like sandy dust storms:

We were really fortunate to make a great group of friends in Chinle. Of course, with most of their IHS contracts, we would all part ways sooner or later, but there is some sadness that we are parting sooner. I don't think that I have ever so instantly liked an entire group of people. I'm glad I racked up some memories quickly! Camping, Colorado, Lake Powell, hiking, parties... so much fun!

There are some things about Hawaii that I am particularly excited about, even though the reality of my move there has not materialized fully:

I'll be able to have a job! Shoot, I can probably even have two jobs! Not being gainfully employed really tested my self-worth this year, and while I found that I had many abilities to be productive and contribute with a variety of gifts, I realize how much I took "the daily grind" for granted. I'll feel pretty proud of myself for bringing in a paycheck again.

Surfing! My fiance is a huge surfer. Although he may not be able to teach me himself (it's simply a test of patience to try to teach the person you're the very closest with a new skill, and I'd rather learn from an instructor with whom I'll be on my best manners). But, once I pick up the skill, Isaac has promised me my own surf board. I'm excited to add this to our already long list of outdoor hobbies. There is nothing outdoors that we don't love to do together.

Fresh produce. As in, Maui has several organic farms on it! If I'm lucky, I may get a job working for one...that's my hope right now. I know farms can be somewhat closed-off community-wise. Depending on the structure (family run, co-op, etc) I may have a hard time getting my foot into that kind of door.

"The Purge" That's what I'm calling getting rid of 99% of my personal belongings and starting fresh. It's kind of a test of my materialism. Getting rid of everything really makes you realize that there is not much in the way of material things you really need to be healthy, happy, or functional. Most of these things are for our selfish comfort. Plus, I'm hoping that I'll be spending most of my time outdoors anyway. Who needs to stock a house with a bunch of stuff if we won't even be inside most of the time? Heck, we rarely spend any time indoors here in Chinle!

Well, more thoughts to come as all of this planning and organizing pans out. And I'm sure I'll have much to share about the shock of moving to a culture that thrives on tourism. My lifestyle is about to do a 180!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Always on the go

So, since birth, I have lived...

in Colorado
Colorado again
Georgia (Wyoming and Florida during summer breaks)
Colorado (again!)
Arizona (again)
And now Hawaii.

The most interesting part of all these journeys seems to start after Georgia. That's when all of these moves became both voluntary and necessary to take my life in a direction that was interesting to me.

Isaac has said I should write about it. I dunno... I need to work on some basic improvements with grammar, mechanics, and style first. Maybe. Probably not. But maybe...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Well, boys and girls. I'm moving to Hawaii. In December, no!

Turns out, the island I'm moving to has tons of running events every month, including the Maui marathon which is one of the oldest running events on the islands!

I'm not going to lie, I'm interested.

Hopefully I can hold my own in year-round heat and humidity!


Monday, October 5, 2009

Don't Talk to Me About Mile Twenty Three

I am officially a marathon runner. I almost didn't do it. Not that I almost did not finish, but I almost did not show up. A series of times, I almost forewent the opportunity.

I won't touch down on the series of things this past week that almost made me too exhausted to quit.

My Dad
However, the day before the marathon, my parents had plans to fly into town, to meet Isaac's family and to cheer me on. Unfortunately, that did not happen. At about 2am on Saturday, my dad had a heart attack and was in the hospital. I wanted to go home immediately to see him. After they went in and fixed a few things, I was able to talk to him. I believe his exact words were, "No, no, you get your head on straight and run that marathon."

When a Marine, who also happens to be your father, tells you something like that and leaves no room for questioning, you don't question him. You do what he tells you.

So, that's what I did. Isaac and his mom got up with me at 4:30am, and we headed to Portland. I was nervous, but more than ever during the past 6 months of training, I really felt that this was something I had to do. To make myself proud, and I especially felt it was a good time to make my dad proud.

The Runners
The thing that impressed me the most about the overall marathon, was the incredible variety of people there that I did not expect to see. Mostly, I expected to see other young, wiry, strong-hearted myself. What I saw was the elites...those people who run 26.2 miles faster than I can sprint the 100, and who were competing with one another for the prize money that they hoped would be their salary. I saw people in their 80's! I saw old couples with silver hair, holding hands, smiling in excitement that finally, after all those years of marriage, they were going to get to share this great accomplishment. I saw people in wheelchairs, whose legs were hidden or missing and whose arms were totally ripped. I saw older ladies wearing swishy pants, in groups, with silly team names (like "The Walkie Talkies") giggling and gossiping, not just at the finish line, but during the entire race! I saw two men back from Iraq, in their full army cammo suits, with their full 40-lb packs, and their BOOTS, who were going to walk the marathon in honor of friends they lost at war. I saw crippled men and women...who had hunch back shoulders, severe scoliosis, arthritis that would slow almost anyone else on earth down, and legs that were so mis-shaped, I was (wrongly) surprised to see them at the starting line. But more than surprised, I found myself in deep admiration for these people, who all overcame self-doubt to do this great event! Most fully able-bodied people say they can't do it (they can), but everyone here lacked that doubt, and went straight for the marathon! How wonderful!

Although my family couldn't be there, I felt a great sense of family comradery as everyone in Isaac's family (minus his sister who is in Ohio for school) was there to cheer me on. Popping up every 5 miles or so to give me regular updates about how my dad was doing, bring me little running snacks, and shout my name! The guys acted as videographers and photographers (so we can share with my parents later). Isaac's dad went about a mile with me. Isaac jumped in and ran with me a few times too, even though the only thing he had to wear was dress shoes and jeans. I may have been tired, or faded, but I definitely felt loved.

The Race
During the first half of the race, I felt strong and alive. I suppose that is to be expected. Isaac ran with me around the half-way point. He asked me if I would do it again. I said "yeah totally! I may even do it next year!"

By the time I got to mile 19 and Isaac's dad was on the course with me, he asked how I was feeling. "Everything hurts," I said, "Everything." Did he think I would do it again, "I don't know. Everything hurts."

Up the hill to the St.John's bridge, I got a second wind. I plowed right through the hill that was making others cry and moan. There were army soldiers and several ambulances standing by, just in case, because was that kinda hill.

By mile 23, I kept almost reaching runner's Euphoria...a state of mind and body where the runner is almost daydreaming, unaware that their body is even moving forward, but doing so mechanically, and then voila! When they snap out of it, 5 miles have gone by and they can see the finish line!

Well, my runner's euphoria kept being interrupted just as it began. I'd start to slip into that blessed state, and then a big whiff of raw sewage would waft through the air and punch me in the face. You know that smell, the kind that instantly makes you more alert than you care to be.

By mile 23 (Curse you, Mile 23!), also, I was starting to have my mental collapse. I was getting emotional, my brain was telling my body that the pain was worse than it was. The mile began to felt like 2.... I just wanted mile 23 to be over. Where was mile 24 already!? I passed some guy, who looked crazy, who said "Don't worry, kiddo. You've got less than 2 miles to the finish line!"

Less than two miles? What did he mean less than two miles? Was he lying to me. I could do serious damage if he was lying to me. I caught up to another runner. "Is it true? Less than two?" "Yeah," she huffed. "Those teenage girls on the sidelines back there turned the 24 sign around so we couldn't read it. I gave them serious hell for it." "Oh, thanks...for the hell."

Eventually, the pain almost stopped me. I pushed through! When the finish banner came into sight, there was a hoard of crowd all around me. I'm sure they were all screaming and cheering (that's what I'm told). But I had only one thing in sight: the finish line. I was deaf to all the cheering. I saw nothing but my goal. My eyes teared up, I cried, and my legs became more spry and got me through! I had done it! I finished it!

The Day After
All I can really say about today is that, although I am proud, I am in serious pain. I may have conquered 26.2 miles of my favorite city by running on foot yesterday morning, but a 4-step staircase today is a nearly impossible feat that causes great pain and requires assistance. A walk across the living room to the bathroom takes several minutes. My muscles have been torn to shreds and need some time to rebuild themselves.

In the meantime, I'm a marathoner! I ran a marathon. And nobody can ever take that accomplishment away from me.

I love you mom and dad. I'm sorry you didn't get to make it, but I'm glad you were where you needed to be in order to be well again.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

2.5 days

Tomorrow I fly to Oregon. Saturday, I introduce my parents to my future in-laws. Sunday, I run the Portland Marathon!

It has been a very stressful and sad week. It may have interrupted my "mental preparation," but there's nothing I can do about that now.

A weekend in Oregon, and 26.2 miles on my feet, and I will return to Arizona a marathon runner!

Can't say I'll take on the challenge again at this point, but I'm glad I made a season in my life to challenge myself to something truly difficult, both mentally and physically. (And let me just say, if you've never taken up long distance running, you may NOT tell me that it is not mentally challenging.)

I will post next week about the marathon and I'm sure I'll have some thoughts and feelings to share about it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My Final Training Run and Wonderful Fiance

For the past few weeks, I have been having serious anxiety about the race. See post below for details.

My fiance, seeing my anxiety, has been having, on average, three pep talks a day to get me confident and pumped up. He's a good man, and he loves me. I love him.

Don't worry! Don't leave! I'm not about to get mushy and weird on you.

Today was my final long-ish run. 8-10 miles was required of my legs to be prepared for the big day. Which, by the way, is in just under 7 days. Oh boy.

Today I felt a big gaping hole where my confidence in myself should be. Isaac saw that missing piece and decided to patch it up.

Quick background: Isaac used to run sometimes with two friends of his. They were both half his size and twice as fast and efficient as him. He did it to get into shape. But he's not a "runner" per se, and he hates the activity. It's boring. Aside from the fact that he hasn't done any actual running in over a year, since the last time we went running together, he's an otherwise very physically fit person. He's recently been swimming at least a mile a day, and when he doesn't do that, he's lifting, working on his core, cycling, mountain biking, and being totally awesome.

So today, my non-runner fiance decided that I needed to get totally pumped up for the big day. He, (have I mentioned he's a non runner?) went on my 10 miler. The entire time we were running together, I felt like time just flew by.

We got to talk about how we want to raise our future children. What kinds of toys are allowed, no TV allowed, what sorts of movies they'll be allowed to watch, no video games with violence, etc. (In the end, we determined our kids will probably think we're really lame until they're about 20). In between wistfully discussing our future and our family, Isaac kept telling me how proud he was of me, how awesome I was doing, how great my form was, how good I looked running, how steady I kept my pace, how awesome I was, and how pumped he was that he'd be able to tell our future children that their mother once ran a marathon!

So, aside from being reminded one stride at a time how lucky I am to be marrying someone who is so uplifting, supportive, and loving, I'm feeling pretty pumped about my marathon. Even if I'm not thrilled with my time or my performance, even if I'm in pain, exhausted, or struggling on race day, when I cross that line, the man that I'm going to spend the rest of my life with (um, whoa) is going to be beaming with pride.

And I gotta say, that alone feels really good.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Marathoner's Worst Nightmare

Right now, for this marathoner, it seems that my worst nightmare is...the marathon.

I passed the stages of excitement, confidence, and pride. Now, I'm terrified. I did great training in Oregon...until my knee started acting like poop.

But, I am running for Girls on the Run! And it's too late for the organization to refund the donors' money, so I'm running it regardless, to honor the good intentions of the people who donated to my fund raising cause.

Come to find out, no matter how in shape you are in Oregon, when you get back to 6,000 feet in Arizona, you don't feel in shape. At all. I feel like I have to learn to breathe all over again! It's not as easy as it was on the farm.

Of course, as the date looms closer, I've been having one anxiety incident after another. I'm supposed to be tapering off my training, but feel like I should be working harder to stay caught up! What to do what to do...

Add this to a series of literal nightmares in my sleep, I'm so nervous. I'm not so much aiming to finish it at this point as to just get it over with. Here are my dreams:

1. I am running the marathon with just two girls. Who seem to mix marathon running with gymnastics and break dancing. They intimidate me. Where are all the other runners?! Am I ahead of the crowd or really far behind?

2. I forgot to get my registration packet, and don't realize it until I'm already running the race. I don't have my BIB. This is a great concern to me in my dream. How can I be running without my BIB?

3. I am always running around the 2-mile marker and not making any progress. I have 24.2 miles to go but can't get past the first two miles!

4. I lost or forgot the electronic chip to go on my shoe, and because my progress and speed cannot be tracked, the marathon people think I'm cheating and kick me out of the race.

So, I apologize for a negative post in which I'm completely FREAKING OUT, but if I can't be honest, what else can I be?

I'm hoping that as I get my mental thoughts more organized, I begin to feel excited about what I'm about to accomplish again. We shall see, we shall see! Think good running thoughts for me!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

It's been a while!

The Portland Marathon is in just a few weeks, and I've only got those few weeks left to prepare.

I don't want to lie, as far as marathoners go, I'm not the most organized. I feel that I should have started training further out than I did. My longest prep run will be 20 miles, which is much less than I initially planned to do by now.

I've had a few injuries. Nothing major, but things I had to allow to get better before picking up training again. The most recent of which was some knee trouble that was my own fault. I went to Oregon, and took too much advantage of the altitude difference, and ran too often, too fast, with no cross training in between. One is fully recovered, the other is on its way.

I am still going to run that marathon! I am very excited. Mostly nervous. And very in-question of my initial reason to do it.

In other exciting news, I will be crossing the finish line as Natalie, Isaac Schaefer's fiancee! I'm engaged! So much has happened this year! This marathon started off as a shared goal between three girls (my future sisters in law!). Since then, it went down to two of us. Then Alicia became a momma to be! And then there was What a busy year! (Yes, if you can't tell, I'm still very elated to be engaged and am happy to share the news everywhere!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Big Miles and Big News

Last Sunday I ran 20 miles. It's so far! My legs ached, but my muscles were not sore afterwards. I take that as a normal sign. Feeling great now. 23 miles this Sunday or next.

But I digress. I am now running this marathon solo. Madeline dropped out because of knee problems and school. Alicia was really into it, very excited to be doing the marathon. She happens to be a naturally gifted distance runner!

Turns out, she is also going to be a naturally gifted mother! Alicia and Stewart are expecting their first child in March.

The business of growing cells and making an extra cute baby is hard work! It's exhausting for her, and she is not always feeling well. Marathon training is not in the picture for her right now.

She hopes to try for the marathon again in the future, but will have to figure out how to make that happen in a year or two.

I could not possibly be upset that I am running alone because this joyous news is so wonderful and exciting, it over shadows everything else.

Congratulations Alica and Stewart!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Run Oregon

I love Oregon. I love everything about it. I like the way that it smells of fresh dirt, hundreds of trees, flowers, moss, and mold.

I love that it gives me a feeling. You know how when you read a wonderful fiction novel, or watch a fun fiction movie, and you feel this sense of "magic," wishing that a certain place or thing you're momentarily wrapped up in really existed? Well, Oregon is like that...only it really exists! Every day that I'm here, I feel like I'm right in the middle of some magical (YES, I like to use that word, no, I'm not referring to wizards and fairies), place that seems too wonderful to exist, but does so anyway.

So, imagine my delight to tread the Oregon earth, and take in all the sights, sounds, smells and feelings on my runs! It is delightful.

Running in the desert was getting way too hard for me. Early morning runs were still beautiful, but the desert is intense; and as much as I wish I was an intense person, I'm not. Spicy hot food? Yes! Spicy hot climate? Not on a regular basis.

I'll be running here for a month, and hopefully catching up! I got far behind. I still believe in myself; I still believe in the cause I'm running for, and I still believe in running! And now, I believe that running in Oregon will be a month-long gift to myself. Thank you, self.

Today I ran approximately 7 miles, running up and down each row of the Filbert orchard. Lots of organic soil under my feet, huge, moss-covered Filbert trees in every direction, and sun peeping through the leaves and the corridors created by them. Lots of shade, lots of earthiness. It was nice. It felt almost like being inside the hallways of a very sacred building. Only here, the ceiling was made of leaves, barrel-vaulted by branches, held up by columns that are carved in natural shapes, covered in a mural of green; and the floor is slightly untidy...covered in dirt, and fallen nuts. Very sacred indeed.

I can't wait to experience even more of the Oregon surroundings on my runs. Running in this environment may be so enjoyable in and of itself, that I'll rack up miles without even noticing!

P.S. This place is crawling with peacocks! They're everywhere. I like to play a game with myself where I see how many feathers I can spot when I'm walking or running about. I'm still getting used to their call sounds so much like some kind of cat from outer space, that I just about crawl out of my skin every time I hear it! I suppose it helps to keep the runs interesting!

Monday, July 20, 2009

16 Great Miles

I ran 16 miles yesterday, and it was the first time in the long time that I really enjoyed a long run.

I didn't just enjoy it, I loved it.

I realized how much I take for granted. My body, the ONLY one I have, can carry me 16 miles. What a gift! How great it is to feel my health, youth, and vitality in motion.

But it wasn't my body, or my speed, or the fact that I felt GREAT from mile one, to mile 16. It was my surroundings.

I got up at 4 am for this run. I started running while it was still dark, before the sun was out. At first, it felt cold and eery. It was in the low 60's when I started, high 60's by sunrise. I realize that's not really "cold" but after a few months of summer in the desert it feels cold.

Let me digress.

I had the desert to myself until after the sun was well up.

Per usual, I was running on the south rim of Canyon de Chelly. I decided this time to run one continuous line, instead of running half the distance and turning around. So, for the first time, I got to see a beautiful 16 mile stretch of the canyon. And I was moving on foot, so I had ample time to take in all the scenery.

If you have a list of things to do before you die, add this to it: a desert sunrise. It was phenomenal. At first, I was kicking myself for not having a camera on me, but quickly realized that no camera could do this sunrise justice. Allow me to attempt to do it justice with words:

As the sun was about half way up, all the red rocks of the desert and canyon seemed to glow this indescribable shade of crimson. The sky was coming to light, the clouds were deep purple, the whispy ones glowing pink, and the edges of all the clouds an overwhelmingly happy sunny orange color. The entire sky had ribbons laced throughout it, the color of salmon flesh.

The Juniper trees laced the air with their scent. Cotton tail bunnies shared the road with me the entire way. Just hopping all over the place. There were hoards of them! They're cute enough to make me feel that childish urge to go get one and hug it. (I refrained).

Wild horses were out by the dozen. Grazing, looking for what little foliage there is to snack on. They seem so much nobler in a wild setting.

I even saw a rattlesnake! At this time of the year, it's not uncommon to encounter them on a fairly regular basis. I respected its space, it respected mine. Some people fear them or think they're horrible. But, I think the desert needs them, for poetic reasons at the very least. I realized on my run that snakes bring a fierce, lithe sensuality to a rough terrain. It fits in perfectly, and makes its surroundings even more beautiful.

I don't think I would have enjoyed this run as much if I had done it at another time of day.

My body carried me through this 16-mile moment; and I'm thankful to my body for that. After enjoying a full morning of nearly drowning in these beautiful surroundings, it made me realize how much of the desert's beauty I've really been taking for granted the entire time I've been living here.

It's not an easy place to live. But it is a wonderful place to enjoy a very early morning run. I can't wait to do it again.



Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Great Honor!

I got an e-mail from my dad this morning, letting me know that he has made a donation, sponsoring $10.00 per mile of my marathon in my name, for his favorite charity. It's not the one I've started fund raising for, but had I heard about this one, I would have been really interested immediately.

So, $262.00 will go to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation upon the completion of my marathon. I am so honored! 

This foundation raises money for the higher education or special medical needs costs of children whose fathers are killed in the line of duty, either as Marines or Law Enforcement officers.

Please check out the website of this wonderful foundation, because I can't convey what a great honor this is on my own!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Finding a Mantra

Earlier this week, I was reading in Runner's World that many long distance runners develop mantras that they repeat either aloud, or in their heads, that get them through painful or difficult runs.

Today, Madeline, Alicia and I ran 9 miles. Our longest so far!

Over the past couple of runs this week, I had been attempting copy-catting some of the mantras the runners in the magazine said they use. They didn't really give me any extra boost. Some of them were things like "Go, go, go!" Others were more image-centered, some sounded like tough love, and others didn't make any sense to me.

What I realized on my run today, as I was fighting strong head-winds and some cross-winds (and lots of hills!), was that repeating something that was meaningful to me did it. I don't care what my body looks like at the end of this. I don't care what people think of me for doing this, whether they think it's motivated, crazy, or stupid. While I am really proud of going this distance for the first time in my life (26.2), what matters to me is how this is benefitting me in the long run. 

I found myself forming a mantra without thinking about it. For a good 2 miles I kept saying the same thing, out loud, over and over and over again, and it kept giving me an extra shove to run through the pain. Here it is:

"Stronger heart, stronger lungs, stronger legs."

If I keep this habit for years to come, I'm improving my strength, endurance, health, and  lung capacity. I'm not fast, I'm not particularly graceful, but I am healthy enough to do this! I could be doing it for washboard abs, toned calves, or the T-shirt at the end of the race, but the thing that makes me happiest about running and doing it to achieve a goal is how much healthier I'm becoming, and how much healthier I'll continue to be. For me, that's something worth running about.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Crater Lake

Sunday was 8 miles! 

Currently, we're in the middle of a discussion, trying to decide which half-marathon(s) to run as part of our training. Half marathons are great for marathoners to run because it can really help to measure pace, preparedness, and give a good feel for the race day environment and preparation.

Right now, it seems that one of the half marathons in consideration is the Crater Lake Rim Run:

With a view like that, how can you not be tempted to lace up your shoes and join the ranks at the start line? 

There are also 2 half marathons taking place in Portland this summer, as well as another in Gaston. More updates to come as decisions are made. 


Friday, May 15, 2009

Brief Interruption

I recently decided to raise money for an organization called Girls on the Run. You may have noticed the link on the upper right hand side of this blog page. That link takes you to my pledge site.

Right now the closest GotR council to me is in Coconino county. It's not that far, but I'd like to start one in my community in the fall, in addition to fund raising. Here's a video that shows you what Girls on the Run does:

Click Here to Watch the Video

Thanks for taking a look,


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Time Flies!

Our third long run was scheduled for today.

We've had bad dust/sand storms here in Arizona, so I had to make use of the gym. 5 miles on a treadmill is not fun. Especially since my only scenery was the mirror in front of me, and I don't like looking at myself while I run.

It was one of my worse runs. Last week, 5 miles was enjoyable. This week, painful and slow.

Madeline has said that her run wasn't much fun, either. She didn't have a lot of sugar in her tank, and thinks that was slowing her down.

Madeline is our little cheerleader. Once in a while, she keeps me and Alicia cheerful with a few well-chosen words of encouragement. I'd like to share this week's Madeline-ness:

“Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started.” (Famous running quote)

Alicia is feeling better! I'm hoping to hear some more updates from her soon. She's discovered that Royal Flush (her black lab) is quite the enthusiastic runner, and is teaching her, run after run, that running can bring a little extra happiness to the day!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Dog Days

Today ended week 1 of training. We've all been pre-training, but Monday was the first day of the 26 week running program we're using.

My dog, Dax, has a big need for exercise. Daily long walks aren't enough. Today I decided to test him on a 3-mile run.

He handled the distance like a champ. He was eager to kill a few ground hogs and show off for a pack of stray dogs, so I had to let him off the leash. Pacing myself for 1/2 a mile with a dog who is a naturally fast runner was exhausting, but I made it, after slowing down for the next 2.5 miles.

I'm not entirely sure I'll keep up the habit of taking him on the weekend runs. I think Alicia lucked out with Royal; Dax prefers to do his own thing. This was a good running lesson for me: 1) set your own pace! don't try to pace yourself with an animal capable of going a suburban speed limit, or anyone who's much faster than me. 2) running in solitude isn't so bad, after all.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

For Your Viewing Pleasure

This is a trailer for a documentary that follows a few different marathoners in one marathon. Even though it is a preview for a movie, it's worth watching just to get a feeling for what people experience from this challenge. Each runner is different, and doing it for different reasons. It really seems to capture a lot of emotion.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Official first day of training!

Hello all, Alicia here.  I started my very first day of training today with an easy 30 minute run.  It was a beautiful spring day with blue skies, the smell of fresh cut grass and the sounds of birds singing; a great day to start something new.   I took my two dogs with me, a black lab named Royal Flush and a miniature dachshund named Shiner.  They both did great and had a fun time although I don't think I'll be taking my dachshund once the runs get longer.  Royal on the other hand could probably run the marathon today and still be up for a game of fetch at the end.  

As a non runner (6 miles is the most I've ever run at one time) I am apprehensive at the thought of 26, count em, 26! miles but am trying to stay positive and take things one day at a time.  I'll try to post here as much as possible but when school starts up again (I'm currently on spring break) it will probably be hit or miss.  First "long" run (0.5 miles) tomorrow :)

Trivia about Marathons

Everyone keeps asking me, "How long is a marathon, anyway?" along with many other questions.

  • A marathon is 26.2 miles.

  • The marathon commemorates the 25 mile run of Phidippides (a professional long-distance runner whose job was to communicate messages over long distances faster than a horse) to Athens, to announce the victory of the Greeks over the Persians in a historic battle.

  • Marathon running, as a competition, was introduced in the first modern Olympic games in Athens in 1896, still measuring at 25 miles.

  • In the London Olympics of 1908, the course was still 25 miles. Queen Alexandra requested that the course be changed so that she could watch the start from Buckingham Palace, thus extending the distance an extra 1.2 miles, to accomodate the queen. That distance has stuck and marathons are still run at 26.2 miles.

  • It's a tradition of marathoners to say, "God save the queen" at the 25 mile mark.

  • Only 1/10th of 1% of the population has ever completed a marathon, even with the popularity of marathon running growing by the thousands.

So We're Running a Marathon

One day, a few weeks ago, I decided to run a marathon this year.

My dad, a veteran marathon runner, was one of my first calls. He made sure that I knew what I was committing to...that it would be HARD, mostly.

Isaac's sister, Madeline, has been taking a running class at her college (Oberlin Conservatory). I asked her if she'd be willing to run it with me. Her first reaction was, " Well, I ran four miles today, and it was really boring." But she was in. After all, it's a challenge that only 1/10th of 1% (yes, that's a real statistic!) of the population ever takes on and completes!

A few days later, while talking with Madeline, I asked her if she thought Alicia (Isaac and Madeline's other sister) would be willing to take the challenge on with us.

So I texted Alicia, and she called me back within seconds! Turns out, it's something that she has always wanted to accomplish.

I officially registered for the marathon today!

I am officially committed to training for and completing what may be the biggest challenge in my life so far.

I've given Madeline and Alicia access to update this blog at their leisure. Bear in mind, they're pret-ty busy. Madeline is studying opera at the most prestigious conservatory in the country, and that means putting in a lot of work, practice, and studying. Alicia, last I checked, was the manager for her mother's medical practice, taking care of her horse Vinnie, spending time with her husband and beautiful dogs, AND in school full time.

So, while I hope they'll be sharing their joys, trials, and tribulations of marathon training, I think we'll all understand if they don't frequently get around to it.

We will all be using the same training program, and will be staying on track together. There's just one catch: Alicia is in Oregon, Madeline is in Ohio, and I'm in Arizona.