As summer winds down, I have hit a bit of a melancholy funk. One child is moving abroad, the other will start his last year of undergrad and then leave for a Ph.D. program. One of my dearest friends, and best running buddies, has moved far away and my passion for running competitively is waning. Things, as often happens in life, are changing. And I don’t feel entirely (or really, at all) ready.

Change is inevitable, and usually good, but that doesn’t make it any less painful.

This morning, after a very fun run with some of my old running buddies, for which I grouchily drug myself out of bed at 4:30, I stopped at the bakery and picked up a chocolate croissant. The run had left me on a bit of a high (unusual this summer) and I wanted to celebrate. Chocolate inside flaky pastry seemed like the perfect way to do it.

As I happily munched on my puff pastry antidepressant, I was drawn back to all the times over the last ten years when I have had a favorite treat after a run. For me, the two seem inextricably intertwined. I never gained a taste for sports drinks, and could only tolerate gels when absolutely necessary, so more often than not, running and real food go hand in hand for me. This probably explains why I have never managed to look like a svelte Kenyan even while consistently running 20 miles a day for eight years. The belly never lies.

But, as I sat lustily gobbling down my croissant, I knew I didn’t regret any of it: not the greasy burgers at Mile 100 of 24 hour races, not the big plates of Mexican food after long runs in the Valley, not the Orange Fanta slushies that served as the aperitifs before the big Mexican meals. Those treats kept me running as much, or more, than all the medals I ever won. Those treats, like the friends I ran with, made running fun.

I know life isn’t all about having fun – doing well, being responsible, taking care of others all take hard work and commitment. But the fun parts of life – love, friendship, great food – sure do make all the work worthwhile and much more pleasurable. And it seems like finding that combination is the only exciting way to go through life. Before I die, I want to leave it all on the course, as they say, and then dance around the finish line with the people I care about and something scrumptious to eat.

So, right now, when everything around me is changing, and my work/fun ratio is out of whack, I feel a little off. But I know in time a lovely balance will reassert itself. I will figure out how much running, and how much intensity, is right for me. I will once again find people to enjoy it with. I will adjust to my empty nest and learn to be okay not “mothering” people all the time. I will find my way.

It just takes time. And a few more chocolate croissants.

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Sunny Days and Tuesdays Always Get Me…

by Carilyn on August 19, 2014

My summer has consisted of a lot of running, a lot of eating and a lot of “getting things done”. Basically, it’s been a mixed bag.

I don’t really mind running errands. I enjoy being out and about, driving around the city, on the move. But, after a couple of months of this, I realized that while I’ve taken care of a lot of necessary things – new passports (which required photos, documentation and four trips to the State Department), multiple home projects (which required too many trips to the hardware store, several visits from the plumber, the air conditioner repairman, the roofer and a landscaper), and family commitments (multiple birthdays, two anniversaries, weekend visits in other cities and general good-time get togethers), I don’t feel like I’ve actually accomplished much.

I thought this summer would allow me to run with friends I’ve missed dearly, finish a couple of writing projects and catch up on my sleep. Instead, I feel like I’ve hardly seen anyone, only written about one page, and have dark circles under my eyes. Sigh. I think I need a vacation from my vacation.

In a couple of weeks we will leave for London to take Grant to school. I’m dreading leaving my baby on the other side of the Atlantic even though he can hardly contain his excitement at being on his own (read: being away from his bossy mother). I’m consoling myself with the prospect of getting to spend three weeks without a single leaking ceiling, busted sprinkler, broken garage door, new driver’s license renewal, or insurance company shift (could that get more complicated?) that has to be taken care of IMMEDIATELY OR THE WORLD WILL END! I plan to revel in the luxury of maid service, subway service (or, as the call it in the UK, the tube), and room service.

I won’t promise that I will actually write anything because I hope to be too busy wandering around castles, running along the Thames, eating scones (while snobbily pronouncing them “skons”), and generally embarrassing my son so that he will really miss me, but I will try. I told y’all awhile back that I want you to read my posts as if I have a British accent. Well, once I get to London, if I do post anything, it will be so much better if you channel Nigella Lawson while you read it. Trust me. I find that I am a much better writer when my audience pretends like I’m British.

Until then, I will continue to run in the soggy Texas heat, swatting away the mosquitoes by day and scratching the bites until they are bloody scabs by night, go to the grocery store four times a week because THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH FOOD IN THE HOUSE for two eighteen year old boys, and try to finish up all the work that is piled up on my desk. I think I’ve saved our house from falling down for one more year, but I haven’t done much to ensure any good racing in the fall or make me feel like I’ve accomplished much that can count as “work”.

Oh well. Everything always gets done, doesn’t it? And while I’m very ready for a vacation, I’m not ready to for Grant to leave home. Please know, I’m weeping with a British accent over here.

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Water, God, and the Perfect Handstand

July 13, 2014

As much as I love to run, my moments of perfection are usually in the water. The ocean. The pool. When I am in Los Angeles, I swim at the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, the site of the 1984 Olympics, and when I am in El Paso, I swim in my backyard. I love both […]

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Running Away Should Be Mandatory

July 2, 2014

Coming back to Texas always requires a little bit of “re-entry” readjustment. The heat. The altitude. The busy-ness. It always takes me a couple of weeks to acclimate. I have to reorganize my training and my schedule. I have to reorganize my brain. In LA, I’m pretty much on my own during the week. My […]

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My Once in a Lifetime

June 19, 2014

My once in a lifetime Spartathlon dream has come to an abrupt end. Did you hear the whimper? When I applied for the race, I had no idea my son would be going to school in London in the fall. When he received his acceptance letter, I was overjoyed (okay, equal parts freaked out and […]

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Work. Trust. Let Go.

June 16, 2014

My son, Grant, graduated from college yesterday.  And now he’s going to leave me.  Okay, just kidding, sort of. He is leaving me to go to school in London.  And while I’m elated that he is moving forward with his life, going out into the big world to see and taste it all only like […]

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If You Do Nothing Else, Finish

June 14, 2014

I guess I should have known I would end up being a loopy runner from the beginning.  You know how, years later, you are able to look back at something and say, “Ah.  Yes.”  Well, that’s how it is for me now with my first 50 miler.  I should have known there would be many […]

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When You Don’t Know What Else To Do – Run

June 12, 2014

When I first decided I wanted to be an ultrarunner, I knew pretty much nothing about the sport other than I WANTED TO DO IT.  From my limited worldview in El Paso, I had only two points of reference: Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed.  I don’t know if this is because I was too lazy […]

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No Sharks, No Fat – Love Is All About Compromise.

June 7, 2014

Me: You don’t seem super excited about me running Spartathlon. Hubz: We just have a lot going on in the fall, and going to Greece wasn’t on the list. Me: I know, but this is a once in lifetime. Silence Me: No comment? Hubz: I’m just still wondering how I ended up with a woman […]

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Life’s Big Decisions: A New Kidney or Sarah Silverman?

May 9, 2014

Fridays are always a little wackadoo. I usually only do 10 miles in anticipation of Saturday’s long run. But if I have anything going on early Saturday morning, I have to decide if I am going to run long on Friday, or Sunday. Life changing decision, don’t you think? You can see how it would […]

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