Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thanks for your support.

All of the comments you posted about the race mean so much to me. I have to admit that more than a few times over the past 3 months I wondered why on earth I had decided to make my running goal public by writing about it on the blog. I certainly had my doubts throughout my training that I would really make it, and even during the race itself. Then I would have had to eat a big piece of humble pie by admitting failure. But with luck, it all worked out. In many ways I felt like all of you, my friends, were high-fiving me along the way. Thanks a million.

This summer's triathlon won't be as big of a hurdle as it's not my first time. Riding my bike and swimming again seems like a huge relief after the last months of running, running, running, and running. But strangely, I'm already ready to run again. It's sort of addicting.

There is a super tiny little eentsy teentsy corner of my brain that might have possibly whispered the words full marathon. But I'm trying to ignore it.

Your life story, in six words

There was an article in the newspaper a few months ago about a writing contest that asked readers to capture their life story in 6 words. Sounds hard, right? It is. But the many examples published really inspired me to try.

Here are the ones I found most compelling. You’ll recognize some of the names:

Me see world, me write stories.
- Elizabeth Gilbert

Well, I thought it was funny.
-Stephen Colbert

Fifteen years since last professional haircut.
- Dave Eggers

Became my mother. Please shoot me.
- Cynthia Kaplan

Ex-wife and contractor now have house.
- Drew Peck

Found true love. Married someone else.
- Bjorn Stromberg

I did this assignment with my creative writers today and couldn’t believe how well they did. Just think; seniors on their way into the world. High school is ending in a week for these kids, and these show how they see themselves at this huge moment:

Don’t preach. Don’t demand. Just hug.

Read the books. Failed the class.

Down to earth. Head in clouds.

Wanna move out. Will miss mom.

I think I think too much.

Drive in circles when following clouds.

Here are mine (granted, by doing 6 separate ones I’m sort of cheating, but I couldn’t decide).

My life stories:

Teaching helps me remain a student.

Look what I can do now!

Life is bigger with my babies.

I’ll cook. You clean up, please.

Bread, vegetables, love, books, books, books.

Coffee on the porch, light wind.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

I'm home, I'm happy and I'm reallyreally sore

I got home a few hours ago from a great weekend in Boston, where I DID successfully complete the half marathon on one of the most beautiful days ever. Before the detailed race report, let's start with these shots that sort of capture the essence of the run.
Here I am before:

And just after:

What I'm thinking here is: WOW do my legs hurt.

Okay, let's back up. Here are some pre-race pictures. The race started on the Boston waterfront. It was sunny and breezy and about 65 degrees. Just lovely. Unfortunately I was not feeling great, still suffering from the lingering chest cold that plagued me all week. I was really discouraged on Saturday fearing I wasn't going to make it because my energy was low and my chest hurt with the congestion. I was very annoyed that I was not at my best for the big day. Anyway, I thought postive thoughts and was certainly caught up in the excitement of the crowds and the really, really loud music at the starting line.
Adrienne was feeling and looking great, in top form for the big race.

A quick shot at the starting line and then off we go. We DID, yes, run with my tiny little camera so we got just a couple shots during the race.

I started slowly and tentatively and so I was behind my usual pace by about mile 5. My chest was bothering me, but I knew if I just kept plugging away I'd be fine. I encouraged Adrienne to run ahead of me after the half way point, which she did, trotting away like a cheetah.

I felt at my very best between miles 6-8 when my cold sort of left me (maybe I sweated it out?) and things were looking up. The course was BEAUTIFUL, through the cool, brick streets of Boston and then along the Charles River for a while, then back again. It was just the bluest-sky day with billowy clouds and lush green parks (and colleges) everywhere you looked. I was thrilled to pass the 10 mile mark and from that point on it was gritting my teeth because of how badly my knees and hip joints felt. I started comparing the run to childbirth at that point (there are a lot of remarkable similarities, actually) and became convinced that the mile markers were at least a mile and a half apart. But I miraculously made it to 11, then 12, and then pretty soon the beautiful sight appeared of the final bridge, and then the finish line with rows of people cheering me in. I made it all the way, not walking once.

Adrienne had a fantastic run, beating me to the finish line by about 20 minutes. She was there to get my finish line shots and welcome me to the end.

As I ran across the finish line I did (you saw this coming, right?) burst into tears at the sight of my friend. I couldn't exactly describe why I cried, but it was a good mix of pride, relief, pain, exhaustion and sympathy for my poor legs. Just like childbirth, I told myself I was NEVER doing this again, and just like childbirth, I was already talking about doing it again about 30 minutes later.

I love getting race medals!

And here are some shots from the rest of our wonderful weekend together.

Adrienne told me at least 7 times when we were planning our trip that she wanted french fries and a beer after the race. Indeed, her wish came true.

Some other shots around Boston:

After our meal I said goodbye to my friend (after firming up plans to do some sort of race together next summer) and headed north for the 4 hour drive home. While driving I did feel a huge sense of accomplishment for completing a distance I thought impossible just last year, but also a bit of sadness that it was all so suddenly over.

I came home to find my kids both sleeping and the house completely shiny and clean. Sam had a good two days at home, jam packed with playgrounds and lunch dates and flower-planting.
And finally, here is the card Skyler had waiting for me, a drawing she did of me running under a lovely, orange sky.

And now I am having a beer and going to bed.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Final training report, and then off I go.

This is taper week. Only a few short runs. Good thing, as I've been sick with a sore throat and achiness. Of course! I think I turned the corner today after spending much of this week doping up on vitamin C, spinach, and Odwallas.

I'm so excited for Boston that I get a shivery thrill just thinking of it all. Reuniting with my good friend at the airport! A weekend in the city! Dinner out! Hotel! And then the run! The forecast is fantastic: sunny days and 70 degrees (shoot, did I just jinx it?. is that how you spell jinx?!)

The latest race update online says that the half marathon has 6,000 runners signed up. That's good, because if I worked THIS hard (I ran 170 miles in the last 3 months) to train for something, I expect a lot of pomp and circumstance. I expect live music, huge banners, free stuff, maybe a gospel choir and some fireworks at the starting line, perhaps the Blue Angels will buzz overhead? Is that too much to ask? I do know they will give me a medal around my neck at the finish line. I'll take it proudly, yes sir. Assuming everything will go okay. And I AM assuming that everything will be great. I'll feel all better and I'll wake up with strength and enthusiasm for the miles ahead.

Wish me luck!

and even more of skyler's wit

Skyler had placed an empty cup next to her plate at lunch time and asked for some milk.

A few minutes later, she picked up her cup to take a sip.

"Hey, mom. Do you see how when I tilt this cup back there is nothing coming out?
That's because you ferdagot to get me my milk."
Last night Skyler was coloring and asked if I'd join her (something I hear about 39 times a day). I said I didn't feel like it right now. She felt my forehead, as if checking for fever.

"It feels to me like you do want to color."


Sitting outside in the yard:
S: "Mom, what are you thinking?"
me: "I'm thinking about what a beautiful day it is and how lucky I am to live here and how much I love you.
What are you thinking?"
S: "I'm thinking about how I have to poop."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

A week's worth of photos and cuteness

To start, here is Skyler making her I'm-really-concentrating-on-my-drawing face. Makes us laugh.

Busy, busy, busy. We are loving the warm, green loveliness of Maine right now, and counting down the days until school gets out (4 weeks!)

Skyler had a couple of good ones this week:

To my mom, she said: "Omom, would you be happy to get me a glass of milk?"
To Kimmie, when she first checked out the play room one morning, she said:
"Wow. It looks marvelous in here today."

I also thought to record my very favorite of Skyler's mispronunciations:
forgot: ferdagot (not sure where the extra syllable came from)
forgive: ferdagive
vegetables: vegables
ignore: ganore ("please stop ganoring me")

And guess what? (drum roll): REED HAS WORDS!
All of a sudden, he now says:
Ball, na-night, baba, cookie, uh-oh, more, bye-bye.
He can also do the animal sounds: fish, dog, cow, and loon. (is this funny? that parents teach their children how to moo and howl as an important early life lesson?)
He chatters all day long and seems to be trying really hard to tell us what is on his mind.

The new skill that KILLS me is how he hugs me goodnight, (with pat pats on the back), kisses me on the lips, and says na-night when I put him down. It makes me weak-kneed just to write it.

Here's what we've been doing.
My mom with the kids on Mother's Day

Running free

Milk gives him huge muscles.

Check out my gut

And my butt. Does this look comfortable? He sure didn't mind.

Skyler at her VERY FIRST swim lesson today; she did great, after some initial apprehension. Here she is bonding with Gillian.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day, and running double digits

I'm pretty sure everyone who reads this is a mom, so HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to you!

It is just gorgeous here today: warm, sunny, blue-blue skies, and the leaves are in that lovely new-green-feathery stage.
I celebrated by running 10 miles (check out my route). My training plan didn't have me running 10 until next Sunday, but I felt I was ready and, frankly, I just wanted to get it over with. It went well, though I went through many emotional stages: it sucked, felt good, felt great, and hurt in alternating stages. I ran from my house to our church and met my mom as she was coming out to hitch a ride home. At least as far as training goes, it's all down hill from here. The race is 2 weeks from today.

I was awoken with breakfast in bed this morning, and Sam and the kids planted me a mother's day garden (photos later) which they had done at our old house, so they started from scratch over here. My mom is coming over tonight and I'm making brie and spinach-stuffed chicken, orzo salad with tomatoes, parsley and lemon and a big ol' strawberry pie. How summery, right? What a nice day.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I'm starting to get a complex

I know, Skyler, Daddy is a really great guy.

Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.

Daddy is better at coloring than you are, Mom.
Daddy is better at cooking, Mom.
Daddy takes me on the best adventures.
Daddy can fix it.
This drawing is for Daddy.
These flowers are for Daddy.

Don't look at them. They are not for you. They are for my Dad.

Dad is going to flip out when he sees this drawing. He loves my drawings.

I was doing okay with all this unbalance until Skyler drew two family portraits this week.
Skyler, Reed, and Daddy.

"Don't forget Mommy,"I say.

"You aren't in this picture because you are at the store."

Then she did it again, except that time I was "out on a run."

Well, Happy Mothers Day to you too.


Some funnies:

Skyler's new line:
"Patience, mommy, patience."

Last week Sam called Skyler into the living room because he wanted to speak with her about how rough/wild she was being. She knew she was in for it. She stood next to him and said:
"Daddy, could I get you a beer?"

Tonight, Sam was tickling Skyler or something and she told him to stop. He didn't.
She said:
"Daddy, you know how you don't like to have to tell me things 3 times?
Well. I don't like to tell you things 3 times either.

I like to tell you things ONE time."

Monday, May 5, 2008

Weekend highlights

Anyone listen to NPR on Saturday night? Sam and I (with Meredith and Jason) were at the live taping of Prairie Home Companion in Bangor. It was SO cool. Garrison Keillor was awesome, so lively and energetic and impressive in the way he orchestrated all of the transitions from act to act. The auditorium was packed with people, a good crowd of solid, healthy, liberal NPR enthusiasts. There was one especially great musician from Maine, and Maxine Kumin, a favorite poet of ours that we both taught at NELP. The two hours flew by with feet-tapping fun.

Here are some pics from Saturday.

Here is a vintage Skyler motif:

Skyler has officially surpassed my own drawing skills.

A romp in the meadow behind our house.

That's our house up there, the white one.

nap time?

Sam's big week

Not to brag about my husband, but...

I'm going to brag about my husband.

Sam reached two huge goals last week:
1) He completed his second masters degree from University of Maine, this one in Secondary Education (the first one in English). As of last Wednesday night, the Manharts are officially done with grad classes for a good long while. Amen.

2) He swam in a short course Masters meet in Ellsworth for which he had set some rigorous time goals for himself. He swam 5 events and dropped ridiculous amounts of time in all 5 events. Not only did he win all of the events, and surpass his own hopes for his times, he is now ranked in the top ten for his age group in Maine in 8 events and (get this) in the top 20 NATIONALLY for the 200 backstroke. 17th, to be exact. It's pretty cool to see him working so hard for something and to have all those hours in the pool pay off so sweetly.

His 200 IM was a big event for him. It would take too long to download the whole thing, so here is the first 50. He's the one with the full-length suit.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Speaking of lists...

Every year or so I try to write down my top 10 favorite books of all time. I decided to share.

My ever-evolving top ten list (physically painful to write, for the ones I must exclude):
1. Angle of Repose: Wallace Stegner
2. Catcher in the Rye: J.D. Salinger
3. Atonement: Ian McEwan
4. Lolita: Vladimir Nabakov
5. The Great Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald
6. Eat, Pray, Love: Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Middlesex: Geoffrey Eugenides
8. Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen
9. Passage to India: E.M. Forster
10. Beloved: Toni Morrison

In order to make it on the top-ten list, the book...
- must make me swoon over beautifully written sentences or passages. (the first paragraph of Lolita? Give me a break. It makes me want to cry)
- must make me want to read it over and over and over. (and over and over)
- must have a character whom I miss when the book is over.
- must make me think about myself or my life differently or more clearly.

by all means, share with us your favorite book (or your whole darn list).

California, how I love thee so

I miss California in the same way I miss an old friend. Every once in a while, I get a hankering so strong that I can actually smell the eucalyptus and flowering trees of San Francisco, or feel the pull in my stomach I’d get as I turned a tree-lined corner on Highway 1 and found myself looking out over the wide open sea, the surfer boys all lined up along the roadside peeling off wetsuits.

The state flower is the California poppy, scattered everywhere along the roads and in the parks. My brother Chris, who still lives in San Francisco, in fact, still lives in the same neighborhood where we shared a flat for 4 years, just took a road trip to southern Cal last weekend and on his way back, he came across this:

And I am reminded of one of my favorite lines ever written:
“And mixed with the blue lupines were splashes of California poppies. These too are of a burning color-- not orange, not gold, but if pure gold were liquid and could raise a cream, that golden cream might be like the color of the poppies.” from Steinbeck’s East of Eden

Dear California. Please don't forget me. I'll be back to visit soon.

Quick question

what do I do about Reed's hair???

I can't stand to cut it, but I'm not sure the strung-out-surfer-boy look is working either.