Friday, September 30, 2011

My writing life.

The class I'm taking this semester for the degree I'm working on --Certificate of Advanced Study (C.A.S.) in Writing and the Teaching of Writing-- is a writing class conducted all through email correspondence, in which I write for and work with a real, live editor. That's the class. I write. The editor reads and responds to my work, and then I write more. This “class” doesn't involve a classroom and I don't know the other students, so I really get to pretend that I have an editor and that she is officially interested in my work. Part of this fantasy means I also pretend I have an agent and a beautiful writing studio full of plants and sunlight, a bottomless hot cup of coffee, and uninterrupted time to write.

Working with this editor, whose name is Anne, has been really good, hard work. I had to submit 12-15 pages of writing, of my choosing, that I wanted to work on as a starting point. My genre of choice is personal essay (not as in “it's personal” but as in, “I like to write about myself,” duh, I have a blog), and at the beginning of our work together, I sent her three essays. Within twenty minutes, she wrote me back and said that two of the essays were not worth working on because while they were “pleasant enough,” they had no “forward movement.” The third essay she liked, and by “liked” I mean she saw some “potential” as long as I was willing to start totally over.

I have to say that working with Anne is very much like taking medicine. I know that it is totally worthwhile to have someone who will tell you exactly what he/she thinks of your work, but it is a little hard to swallow. It's good for me, though. I mean, what's the point of working on my writing with someone who will just tell me that I'm great and talented and could I please be sensitive to the fact that I am moving her to tears with each and every paragraph? I don't get that from Anne. She uses phrases like: “cut this.” “trim this,” “you can't get away with using this shortcut,” “weak language,” “you are telling the reader what to think,” “you are over explaining,” and “this paragraph wants to die a slow death” (Okay, she didn't say that. I'm just being dramatic.).

I had a whole two-page section of the essay I am working on that I thought was fantastic, and she kept saying that it wasn't working and felt “tacked on.” Oh yeah? Well that's interesting. Because it was the part of the essay that I wrote first, so how could it be “tacked on?” I didn't actually say that. I did finally come to my own conclusion to cut that whole section out because it turned out to not really fit with the direction the new essay was moving. 
The process reminded me of an amazing and totally influential creative writing teacher at University of Michigan I had during my senior year named Tish. Like Anne, Tish did not give praise freely and was brutally honest and sometimes very cutting. I loved her. I never had to wonder what she thought about my work, or me, or anything else. One night in class, we were talking about how sometimes we start with an idea or an image or a really lovely, lyrical line, and then as we keep writing that piece, it turns out the original idea or line doesn't fit anymore and we need to cut it. The way Tish explained this to our class: “Sometimes, you have to kill your babies.”  I obviously never forgot the metaphor.

So, I deleted the two pages that I had started with and loved, and now, dammit, the essay works much better. Anne was right, okay? After my third draft and hours and hours of writing, Anne gave me some feedback I could be proud of. “Now you are doing good work.” “This is a powerhouse of a line.” “These images are so energized.” When she saw that I cut the whole section in question, she said: “We know we’re becoming better writers when we start throwing away the good stuff. That section was good stuff, but difficult to incorporate into this essay.” So, the baby was a nice baby, but I had to kill it anyway.

Working with Anne has made me think a lot about my own role as a writing teacher; I tend to err on the side of being really encouraging to student writers and celebrating their strengths. I employ the compliment sandwich when I comment on student work: “You have done excellent work here. The middle section needs reworking. Overall, I'm really proud of this draft.” I save the harsher criticism for the kids I know can take it because they see themselves as writers already and have confidence in their craft. Being a writing student is good for me as a writer and as a teacher. I like to work hard for Anne. I love getting her emails back and reading her careful notes and comments. In the end, a compliment from someone who is brutally honest and clear means so much more. I feel totally motivated to write more and work harder.

The essay I'm writing is about the process of dying and being born told through the experiences of my dad's death and Skyler's birth. I might share it here eventually.

Speaking of good writing, try reading a chapter of Bossypants during a quiet study hall in a classroom full of hard-working teenagers and not spit out your water. I dare you.

I'm off tomorrow to run the Maine Half Marathon in Portland.  This is the race I've been training for since August, so I'm looking for a smart, strong race.   Gun goes off Sunday at 7:45 am, so good vibes, please! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

highs and lows

Saturday was a total wash out.  I did a semi-long run in the morning in the pouring down rain.  My shoes made a squooshing sound for the whole (almost) 7 miles and I was soaked through to the skin.

Didn't my mama tell me not to run in the rain when I'm fighting a cold?  Oh yes, she did.  And she tells me often.

Even so, I'm feeling a little better now, and I was supposed to run 10 miles and only ran 7, which proves that I'm still a  reasonable person.

The rest of the bummer that was Saturday included no soccer game for Reed (pouring), Skyler coming down with a fever and general misery which caused us to cancel her afternoon horseback riding birthday party.  Yes, there were tears.

We dried out our shoes, watched some movies, listened to the rain, rescheduled the birthday party for 2 weeks from now, and ate popsicles to make us all feel better.

The rest of the weekend was brightened up by a visit from my aunts and uncles, 2 of whom flew in from Virginia and 2 drove from California.

That's my mom and her two sisters Ann and Ellen

Uncle Al, Uncle Dickie and Sunny the dog.

And me with my two favorite aunts.

We took the kids and the dogs for a ride/ walk on the UMaine bike trails.  It was unseasonably hot and surprisingly buggy.  Just ask Reed, who rotated between:  "I'm too hot,"  "I'm too itchy," and "I'm too tired to ride my bike," for most of the trip.  Jackson and Sunny didn't complain.  They look like long-lost siblings and ran like wild the whole time.

 I tell Skyler that if she keeps making that face to the camera, it's going to end up on the blog. 
We are off into another busy week.  I'll leave you with two funny things Reed said:

A neighborhood kid who comes over to play at our house pretty often mentioned to Reed that his mom wasn't at home.  Reed gave him an understanding look and said:  "Oh.  She's at a marathon?"

Reed colored on 3 pages of paper and asked me to tape them together into a book.  He said, "This is going to be a present for Bella" (a friend at school).
Me:  "I thought Bella wasn't your friend anymore?" (he'd told me so on Friday).
Reed:  "I know, but I thought if I gave her this book she'd be my best friend again."
a few minutes later:
Reed:  "Actually mom, you're right.  I'm going to give that book to Charlotte."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Soccer for Reedo

 When I told Reed that he was going to be on a soccer team this fall, he threw  his hands above his head and said:  "YES.  I'm a big kid."

His time had come.  He's been waiting to be able to do what the big kids do for years.  I guess that's the curse of the younger child; he's watched Skyler be on a soccer team and head off to swim practice and we're always telling him he'll get to do all the cool stuff when he gets bigger.

Well, he's bigger!  But soccer has still been a series of false starts because his first two practices were rained out. 

He's flexible though.  He's just excited to have his new shin guards and cleats and a handsome navy shirt.    Last weekend while I was running the MDI Half Marathon, Sam took Reed to his first game.

They did some drills for a few minutes and then the game started.  Sam said it was pretty funny, but that Reed got right in there and chased the ball. 
 Not sure what's happening here, but good job, Reed!

The next game is Saturday, and (if the forecast changes and it doesn't rain as predicted), I'll be cheering from the side lines.

Other newsy bits:
My body has been threatening to become sick all week, but so far it's just tightness in the chest and generally not feeling great.  I have another half marathon in a little more than a week, so I'd like to just get on with it and get the freaking cold already so I can start getting better.  Many of my students are sick.  It's the inevitable back-to-school cold.

I still managed to have some great runs this week:  one lovely run out in the country , one on trails along the Stillwater (thought of you as always in Orono, Steph) and one on the track during which, well, I ran pretty damn fast.  Fall is such a perfect time to run.

Today I started reading Bossy Pants by Tina Fey and I'm in love with it already.

Hope everyone has a nice weekend!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Celebrating my mom; Race for the Cure video

This weekend was a celebration of my mom beating cancer.  I sometimes forget how amazing it is that she not only survived the mental anguish of a cancer diagnosis and the physical trauma of a double mastectomy, but she also recovered, kept a positive attitude, and built herself up to being able to run 3 miles all in the same 9 month span.  Her dedication to running has been so cool to witness.

We went to a Survivors' Banquet on Saturday night on the eve of the Race for the Cure.  It was a very nice event, but the real fun began on Sunday morning.

A few notes before you watch the video:  My friend Nancy graciously ran ahead of us at the end to capture the finish line, so there are a few seconds of shaky video while she was running, but you need to hear the audio of the announcer calling my mom's name.  The music is:  "Run for Life" by Melissa Etheridge and "Happy" by Natasha Bedingfield.

Enormous thanks to all of the following for making this so special for my mom:
Skyler, Suzanne, Jan, Ella, Maya, Doug, April, Lindsey, Andrew, Leah, Nancy, Alan, Madeline, Jamie, Jeremy, Lois, Bill, Susannah, Susan, and Jenn.  It was also so good to see so many other friends at the race.  What a gorgeous day and an impressive event.   We don't have an official time, but she ran her 5K in about 36 minutes.  How cool is that?

Lastly, many many times this spring and summer my mom would say to me:  "Running mostly just feels hard;  when do I get to feel the exhilaration?"  Check her out when she crossed the line.  I think she got her answer.

Race for the Cure from Emilie Manhart on Vimeo.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Race for the Cure {in one photo}

Many, many more to come.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Race Report: MDI Half Marathon 2011

This is me coming through the finish line chute.  I look like I was suffering and working really hard.  I guess I was focused on the end, and I forgot to smile.  This photo does not actually capture anything about my race today.  I had an amazing day and am really excited to write this race report. 

But can we back up for a second?  Let's quickly recap the previous races of 2011.
Mid-Winter Classic, Cape Elizabeth in February:  Cancelled (twice) due to snow and ice.
Race the Runways Half Marathon, Brunswick in April:  Day after a huge snow storm, and very cold with biting wind.
Sugarloaf Marathon (too sick).  Sugarloaf 15K in May:  Pouring rain and cold
Vermont City Marathon, Burlington, May:  High heat and humidity.  Extreme weather warnings throughout the course.
Danskin Triathlon, Webster, MA, July:  High heat and humidity plus a trip to the ER.
Beach to Beacon, Cape Elizabeth, August:  High humidity.  Gross.

And then ...
MDI Half Marathon, Bar Harbor, ME:  50-60 degrees, no humidity, blue skies, perfect day.

Can I get an Amen?  I mean FINALLY, a race in which the weather worked in my favor.  Ideal conditions.  If I'd had a bad race today, I would have been digging deep to find anything to blame. 

That's better.  That shows you how I felt today. 

I have run this race 4 times, and every time I have it's been a day like today, but knowing the streak I've had in 2011, I figured it would be hot, or there would be a hail storm, or a tornado, or at least some extreme humidity.

At the finish line with Susan, my good friend and partner in crime
I started the day early with a gorgeous drive to the island with Suzanne drinking coffee and listening to Brandi Carlisle and feeling calm and excited.  Today was not my "A" race of the fall, as I have been more focused on the Maine Half Marathon in Portland in 2 weeks.  So today I was relaxed, treating this race as a solid training run.    We had plenty of time this morning.  We met up with Susan and her husband Liam who was running his first half today.  We stretched and ate and relaxed.  Apparently we had too much time, because my friends started talking about how important it is to have your will in place in case we die.  Let me tell you... great pre-race pep talk right there.

It was remarkable for me how calm I was walking to the starting line.  I get nervous for every race, and for some reason, I was just super calm today.  I enjoyed and appreciated the lack of nerves.  I lined up with Suzanne, Susan and Liam, listened to the national anthem, felt grateful to be where I was on this day, and then we were off.

This course is very challenging with 3 big, long hills and lots of rollers in between, so my approach has always been to just do what I can do.

I had been directed to do a few things:  relax, take it easy, take it especially easy on the downhills to preserve my quads, and try to get my mile splits to be fairly consistent, so that is what I set out to do.

Here's the breakdown:

Mile 1 goes right through Bar Harbor and along the water and it always smells like the ocean which smells like vacation.  All good vibes.

Mile 2 goes straight uphill through a neighborhood and ends up on the Carriage Trails, the wide, groomed dirt trails that make up 9 miles of the course.  I slowed down a good bit on the uphill, but felt strong and steady.  Great start.

Miles 3-4: I felt great and in control, but I started to get hot.  I took off the long sleeve shirt and wrapped it around my waist.  I was now running with my arm sleeves for the first time (loved them).  I eventually pulled them all the way down to my forearms which was perfect.  I appreciated the beautiful course, which by now was dirt trails, rolling hills and lots of shade with bright sunlight filtering through.

Mile 5:  I put my music on, still felt great.  When I passed my friend Nancy's mom Lois, I shouted:  "Can you take my shirt?"  And I whipped it off from around my waist and threw it to her.  I had on my baseball hat and sunglasses, and I realized by her blank stare that she had no idea who I was.   She figured it out after a few minutes, but I laughed at the thought of a race spectator being thrown a sweaty long sleeve shirt by a stranger. 

Mile 6:  feeling great but waiting for the dreaded uphill mile coming next.

Mile 7:  The hill!  It's a long steady climb for an entire mile.  I started up and felt good, and kept going, and still felt good.  I kept asking myself how I was doing, and myself kept saying:  Damn good!  This is so weird!  I'm still running!  For the first time in my history of this course, I never walked one step up that hill. I ran slow and steady and thought about being in a low gear on my bike and just churning away.   It was over before I knew it.

Mile 8:  The blessed, beautiful gift of a mile.  It's all gradually down hill.  During this mile, I felt about as happy and strong as I have ever felt on a long run.  I was alone, my music sounded extra good, I felt like I was flying, and I made an inventory of all the things I was thankful for.  Thank you for the sunshine, for Eagle Lake, for this day, for Maine in September, for my family for allowing me to do this, for my friends, for my coach for pushing me, for my running friends, for my body.  I think I even thanked my shoes and socks.  I'm telling you, I was in a very good place.

Miles 9-10:  Not sure what to tell you.  More beautiful scenery.  I felt strong and in control.  Still happy.

Mile 11:  Out from the carriage trail and onto the regular roads again.  I looked at my watch and realized that if I just held on, I'd have a new course PR.  Hey, I thought there was a mean uphill on this part?  It seemed much better this year.

Mile 12:  The hill that previously sapped me of everything I had left?  No problem.

Mile 13:  Downhill.  Home sweet home.  Really nice self talk went on during this mile, like:  "You've got this."  "You own this."  "Just bring it home."

I finished in 2:13, which is a 3 minute PR for this course, and is only 2 minutes off my all time PR.  Considering this beast of a course, and how strong and in-control I felt, as in, I was not pushing myself out of my comfort zone, I was super happy with that. 

Mile 1:  9:41
Mile 2:  10:43  (all uphill)
Mile 3:  10:12
Mile 4:  10:19
Mile 5:  10:08
Mile 6:  10:06
Mile 7:  11:35  (all uphill)
Mile 8:  10:04
Mile 9:  10:13
Mile 10:  10:19
Mile 11:  10:05
Mile 12:  10:24  (worst hill on the course?  what hill?)
Mile 13:  9:20
Last .1:  :39

I think those splits (the non-enormous hill miles) look pretty consistent.  I relaxed.  I took it easy.  I didn't even have a low moment.  Not one.  And I still had some gas left in the tank at the end.

My times for the 4 years I've run this race are, in chronological order:  2:31, 2:25, 2:16, 2:13.  Chip, chip, chipping away.

My mom and Skyler were there at the finish to see me in.  I found Susan and Liam. 
Suzanne, who impressively ran with an injured leg, came cruising across the finish line with a huge smile.

What a strong finish.

My crew:

My friends Nancy and Alan both had huge PRs today too.

Huge thanks to my mom for coming down and bringing Skyler with her. 
After the race, I grabbed an awesome Veggie and Hummus Sandwich on a bagel from Morningglory Bakery in Bar Harbor and a lemonade for the ride home.  Suzanne and Skyler and I drove away, past stunning ocean views just bursting with sunshine.  What a seriously good day.  Did I mention that I needed a great day?  And I got it.

(this post is sponsored by a large cup of Starbucks at 3:00 pm)

Friday, September 16, 2011

attention local runners!

My friend Jason who teaches at John Bapst High School in Bangor asked me to help spread the word about this cool, local 5K for an excellent cause, and it has been totally organized by high school students on the Environmental Action Committee.  All proceeds benefit the BARKA Foundation, which works to provide clean water and sanitation skills to the people of Burkina Faso, Africa, a small, land-locked country in west Africa.

I actually will be running a half marathon in Portland on the same day, but if any of you are thinking about or looking for a 5K, this looks like a perfect one.

Here are the details:

WHEN:  Sunday, October 2
Registration at 9:00 am, and Race at 10:00 am

WHERE:  Bangor Waterfront

WHO:  Runners and walkers

MORE INFO:  The students even made a terrific website about it where you can pre-register (which they are strongly encouraging).

Spread the word to any and all runners you know.  Thanks!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

September catch up.

This facebook post is what I came home to today after a very long and hard day.  Thanks to the very talented Maine Maven for the unexpected and very timely love, and for the reminder to get my butt back on the blog.  Almost a week went by between posts which is not a tremendous deal except that if you know me, you know that's a departure from a norm that has been consistent for almost 5 years.  Something had to give.  I've been pretty stressed.

September is the most beautiful month in Maine.  The air is so lovely and crisp, the sun is bright, the sky a deep blue.  It's one of the best times of the year for running and being outside.  It's also a time of beginnings and fresh starts with a fresh crop of students for me, and new exciting changes for my kids.  But September has come to be a time in my life that is not always so happy.  It reminds me of the loss of my dad, it reminds me of the loss of my best-dog-ever Charlie, it is the end of a really care-free time, and the beginning of a very busy schedule that feels as if it leaves no time to breathe. 

My big girl started 1st grade with ease.  She has her best friend Ella in her class.  Thanks to the incredible generosity of my friends Sandi and Suzanne, Ella's moms, Skyler spends every morning before school at their home.  This makes my mornings so easy, because as I leave her eating her breakfast in the mornings, I kiss her good bye and say:  "Say hi to the girls!"  and she is cheerful and there is no anxiety and I know she is in the most loving hands.

Skyler is swimming on the swim team with Sam and will even swim in her first meet next month.  Is it too soon to start crying tears of pride yet?  Just picture her little self diving off the block.  I promised her a "Go Skyler" sign like the "Go Mommy" signs she always makes for me.  She also had her first piano lesson this week. 

I drop Reed off at pre-school on my way to work.  Reed has also had an easy transition back to school, for which I am so thankful.  He says goodbye to me with a kiss and a confident little wave out the window.  When I arrive on the playground at the end of the day, he runs for me and jumps into my arms.  I know this won't last forever, so it is an especially sweet part of my day.

Reedo's personality is borderline outrageous.  He is getting quirkier and quirkier.  His latest obsession is having us tape him up in this criss-cross manner with medical tape so that he looks like a warrior.  He sleeps with this tape across his chest and cries really big, sad tears in the morning when we won't let him wear the tape to school.   Is there a chapter on this in the parenting books?

He also had a very heartbreaking cry in LL Bean because while we were there to get him a fall jacket,  I would not buy him a girls' lavender fleece jacket in size 2T.  The sleeves came up to his elbows and it would not zip, and yet?  It was the only jacket he wanted.  If they had it in his size, I probably would have gotten it.  We finally, after many tears, settled 0n an orange fleece-lined sweatshirt.  Phew. 

Tonight was supposed to be his first soccer practice ever, but it was canceled due to rain.   That was sad for Reed, but also potentially hilarious, because his team is playing their first game this Saturday, and the kids will have never had a practice.  A field full of 4-year olds playing soccer is up there on the list of cutest things ever.  But they are going to be even cuter in that they will have not a clue what they are doing, but you know they will run their little hearts out anyway.

As for me, I have 5 classes packed full of awesome kids.  I have stacks of essays on my desk.  I am reading The Things They Carried with my seniors and saying things like:  "Is that not the most beautiful passage you have ever read in your entire life?"  I am loving being able to write and talk about writing with my Creative Writers.  My freshmen are eager and excited and adorable.

All good things.  And yet, I've just been having a tough September.  So please stick with me.

Running continues to be one of the best parts of my life.  It gives me a chance to clear my head and relieve some stress. Thanks to the training plans and encouragement from my coach Roger, I've been super consistently getting in the miles both on the road and on the track.   And not to brag or anything, but my legs feel good,  I'm getting faster on the track, and I chased down the speedy middle school boys of the cross-country team while doing my speed workout yesterday, and I smoked them.  It's the little things, people.

This weekend has two great things happening: Saturday is the MDI Half Marathon.  This will be my 4th running of this beautiful course, and my 11th half marathon.  I'm very excited and feel like I really need the rush of a race and a great day with my running friends.

On Sunday, I will be running the Race for the Cure next to my mom.  You may remember that my mom got and beat breast cancer in 2011.  She has been training for this 5K race all summer, and I couldn't be more proud to run next to her.  You can anticipate an over-the-top-emotional video to show you how it all went.

Friday, September 9, 2011

it cuts deep: a book review

Cutting for StoneCutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Once every few years, I read a book that kind of takes over my mind.  This book, Cutting for Stone, just made its way onto my top ten life list (I'll repost the list at the bottom).  I think I've written about this before, but all of the books on the list have the same key elements:  rich, complicated characters, beautiful prose, compelling story, and most importantly, they deal with issues that wake something up in me, that grab hold of my understanding of the world and myself in it, and shake it up. 

This book is, epically so, a fantastic read.  It is a page-turner once you get into it, yes, but more importantly for me, it is so beautifully written that it breaks your heart a little. 

Here is the quick summary taken from the back of the book:

"Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon.  Orphaned by their mother's death and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution."

When I finished this book, I truly felt like I know and love Marion and Shiva, and I miss them now that the book is over, these totally human, imperfect, smart, complicated characters.  I am in awe of writers who create and mold such rich characters, so tangible that they become parts of the lives of the readers. 

PLUS, a lot of this book takes place in the medical world, as the parents of the twins are doctors and the twins become doctors.  There are many in-depth scenes about surgery and patient care.  I love this stuff.  I think I was supposed to be a doctor or nurse in another life.  I am endlessly fascinated by surgery, medicine, and hospitals, so long as my children are not the patients, please and thank you.

So, yes, I recommend this book to you if you like kick-ass writing, rich characters and all things medical. I will also warn you that it has incredibly sad elements.   I have no idea if this book will do to you what it did to me.  It's kind of like I had a relationship with this book.  It may not be the same for you.

Here are the other books (in no particular order) that had the same effect on me.  After I typed each title, I am tempted to add:  "Oh God... such a good book."

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. Cutting for Stone:  Abraham Verghese

Totally unrelated update:  I saw an allergist this week.  At first we talked about what happened to me in Boston, and he was sure it was just a weird combination of fatigue, dehydration, something I ate, and other unknown conditions that he thought created a "perfect storm" that landed me in the ER.  Just to be sure, he did a skin test for shrimp.  Lo and behold,  I actually AM allergic to shrimp.  I can't tell you how happy that made me.   I wanted to hug him.  I hated the idea that this weird thing that couldn't quite be explained could happen to me again any day.  No more shrimp for me.

Have a good weekend!

Monday, September 5, 2011

week/end recap.

Last week's meal planning went really well.  For 3 whole days.

Monday I made turkey, brie, and apple sandwiches.

Tuesday, black beans with peppers and tomatoes, and plantains with onions and cumin and avocado.

Wednesday I did an evening track workout and by the time I got home and showered, it was 8:30 before we ate dinner, and it was dark, so I didn't photograph it. It was the spinach salad and chicken sausage.

Thursday?  I forgot we had Skyler's back to school open house BBQ, so we ate there.

Friday?  I was toast.  We got pizza.  So, two of the meals I had planned for last week will get bumped to this week, and so it goes. 

Sam did make a beautiful 6-course meal on Saturday night as a thank you to Sandi and Suzanne who watch Skyler in the mornings.  It was dark, and I didn't take photos of any of the dishes, which were truly impressive.  Here are two photos that Sandi took during our dinner.  Check out the look I'm giving Suzanne.  Not sure what that was about.
We sat and talked and ate until it was totally dark.  I love these friends so very much.
This morning, I ran the Labor Day Bangor 5-mile road race.  I was advised by Roger, my coach (yep, he's still coaching me and it makes me very happy) to run it at half marathon pace and aim for 9:51 per mile.  He is seriously that specific/demanding.  I ran a 49:23 which is a 9:52 pace.  Close enough, right?  Unfortunately, that pace was supposed to feel like I was holding back, and because it was so humid (again?  yes, shocking, I know) I actually had to kind of work for that pace.  But I did it. 

I spent the rest of the day soaking in the hot tub at UMaine's rec center with Suzanne, Ange, and our kids.  We made our kids run around the track before and after swimming in hopes to tire everyone out. 

Tomorrow, after all, is a big day.   This kid starts 1st grade.  Gulp. 

Thankfully, she is so excited and only a tiny bit nervous.  She has her best friend Ella in the very same class, and that has been huge in terms of giving her peace of mind and confidence.  I think she's ready.  I love her so much it hurts.

And we're off and running into another busy week!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It's Septemberd 3rd again.

8 years ago on September 3rd, my dad died at 2:30 in the morning.  This morning, as I seriously do on each anniversary of his death, I found myself awake at 2:30, and I never went back to sleep, just got up a few hours later to go running.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you are used to these posts about my dad on his birthday and on the anniversary of his death.  I just feel the need to publicly acknowledge how I feel all the time, which is that I miss my dad.

I ran 9 miles of trails this morning and thought about him the whole way.  I'm feeling drained from the past few weeks and rather teary, so that is pretty much all I have for you today.  Hope everyone has a nice long weekend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

three, two, one, LAUNCH!

It's September 1st.  Do you know what that means?

Last Spring, as you may remember, my friend Kelly and I had an idea to create an on-line magazine that brought together all of our favorite things:  healthy eating, fitness, art, home, outdoors, and adventure.

Well, we did it.  The first issue of Sparrow Magazine is live as of today, as promised.

We are so proud to see all the work of so many awesome contributors come together.  It was a ton of work, but it was a labor of love.  Kelly and I make a great team and worked seamlessly together, but Kelly has really been amazing in her determination.  She's a task master, and we might not have made this deadline without her focus and her countless late nights of work. We also owe much gratitude to Kelly's husband Erik who worked very hard with us on this project and was clutch in saving us from some technical glitches.  Hooray for smart, technically-minded people.

Issue #1 has 23 articles for you to read.  You probably won't read them all in one sitting, but you will enjoy cruising around our homepage, and looking at the list of our contributors.  And then you can come back tomorrow morning to read some more articles.

So, without further ado, pour your coffee, and get reading!

Happy Sparrow Magazine Day!  (oh, and Happy First Day of School to all of my new students too!)