Friday, December 25, 2009

All is calm

It's Christmas morning. The kids will be storming down in a few minutes, but at this moment they're all asleep. The tree is lit. The fire's warm. The presents wrapped. The baking done.

It's the dark dawn of a new winter's day. It's their day. They are 4, 6 and 8 and it's Christmas morning. Does it get any better than that?

We're having a White Christmas here in Connecticut. We've been out in it every day. Our yard is a city of winter activity. Snowman, snow forts, quinzee hut, sled run. I stood in the woods at dusk the other night in the world turned white and watched the darkness come. I cannot express how beautiful it was, how it made my heart sing to be cold and alive at the darkest part of the year. The solstice. The best day of winter.

Merry Christmas. And peace in the New Year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Slowing down

I had a nice run Sunday morning with Susan and her dad on the trails at Bluff Point. My foot was feeling great, though my stomach was on the fritz. It's always something these days. When I was young (what, 5 years ago?) people used to tell me, "Wait 'till you get to your forties. Everything starts to fall apart!"


How right they turned out to be. My body is simply not what it used to be. My foot and ankle, after feeling so great on Sunday morning, hurt again Monday. And Tuesday and Wednesday and....

And my stomach is acting up. I am off dairy and off wheat, and I was feeling great for weeks. But now I feel kind of nauseous and heartburn-y most of the time. My naturopath thinks this is a stress reaction to all of the business with Simon's asthma and subsequent hospital visit last week. Maybe she's right. We've upped the dosage on all of the enzymes and stomach soothers for two weeks. See how it goes.

But there is an upside to all of this. I am learning to slow down. I have to. I have no choice here. My body is rebelling in a constant and unrelenting way.

I do think of myself as a mellow person. People find me "laid back." WAAAYY back, it has been said. But I'm learning that I'm quietly driven. I think many of us ultrarunners are quietly driven. We're not flashy, not Type A in the typical sense. Perhaps we internalize. More to the point, perhaps I internalize. (Duh!).

This is not an easy thing for me to admit. I guess I kind of take pride in "being able to handle stuff," in "not making a fuss." But it's not true. There are things I cannot handle. Seeing my little son wrapped in tubes and wires in a hospital bed is clearly one of these things. I held it together pretty well when I had to. But inside, I'm breaking down.

So I'm slowing down. I an learning to be happy with what I can do. I can run 5 miles in the mornings with Eddie. I can be present for my family every day. For my friends. I can play my violin and write my essays and homeschool and cook. I love all of these things.

Sunday afternoon Brian and I took the kids to Haley Farm for a "hike." Old Me would have insisted on a forced march. Three miles, kids! No stopping, no playing. Hop to!

New Me shudders. I am slowing down, remember. What better place to start than with the kids. We "hiked" at Haley Farm for 2 hours. I don't think we made it more than half a mile down the trail. But we climbed trees, chatted with lots of people we knew (including Bob heading out for a late run!), we walked on stone walls, found and ate the last autumn olives, dissected an owl pellet (lots of fur and tiny bones!), and played in the stream.

Nell and Brian making time on the rock wall.

The kids at the stream. There were a few tears here, a few wet feet. But well worth it, I think.

Nell likes to make little things from found materials. She has endless patience for this. Here she is making a tiny boat out of leaves and sticks.

We found this great tree to climb.

All three kids loved this "hike." And that's what matters now. Not mileage, not destination. It's all about the journey. And what a wild ride that journey is turning out to be!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Still here!

Here I am.....over here in my own little corner of the world, quietly and busily spinning my wheels. Life without running gets interesting-er and interesting-er.

I was at the PT yesterday afternoon and he says the swelling has gone down in my ankle again. "Go ahead and give it a test," he says. "Just keep it under four hours."

This last statement is offered with good natured sarcasm. My PT thinks I'm crazy. Everybody in my life thinks I'm crazy. This is the downside of living in a place populated by very few ultrarunners. Nobody understands. Or almost nobody. I'm grateful for all of the Southeastern CT ultrarunners I know. All, what, five of them? Me, Susan, Bob, Davnet, Michele (whom I have never met in person, but I'm glad you're out there, Michele!). Have I forgotten anyone?

So I am going to give it a test. The kids have farm class for two hours this afternoon. While they are farming and making candles, I'll be hoofing it around North Stonington. The farm is on one of my favorite 6-mile loops. The goal is to make it around twice in the time allotted. No chatting with the Other Mothers at drop off time! Just hit the road and keep going......

The past week has been emotionally exhausting. Our 6-year-old middle child, Simon, was rushed to the hospital in Providence (yes, in an ambulance with lights and sirens) when they could not get his blood-oxygen numbers up at our local community ER. Scary. Simon and I spent a long couple of days at Hasbro Children's Hospital while the good doctors and nurses and interns and residents worked to stabilize his asthma. I didn't know he had asthma. Now I know. Now he is stable and I'm doing all I can to keep him that way. He was a good soldier in the hospital. Simon was a Buddha Child from Day 1, and that has never changed. Every parent needs one Buddha and one Wild Person. Keeps you balanced and humble.

Last weekend was entirely taken up by Make We Joy. This is a solstice celebration in the spirit of an Olde Medieval Revels at Connecticut College in New London. The kids are in the chorus every year. Nell and Simon absolutely love it. Ben goes to all of the rehearsals and then bails as soon as he gets on stage with all of the scary knights and guards and dancing men with sticks. (Odd how our most dramatic child shuns actual drama).

The dress rehearsal lasts all day Saturday. All Day Saturday. And then there are two shows on Sunday, one late afternoon and one early evening. (Thanks Brett and Joanne for the photos stolen from Facebook, as I have yet to download ours onto the computer.....)

Nell and Simon are in the middle of this first one. I cannot tell you what a relief it was to have Simon well enough to do the show. He was barely breathing in the hospital just four days before.

My biggest, most exciting, look-to-the-future type of news is that I have found and secured the most wonderful and amazing house for two weeks in August. By August I am so antsy to get out of town I drive everyone crazy. So here it is.....

A relatively cheap find at the very northern tip of Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. My heart sings to think of us there in August, whales frolicking out the front door, mountains looming out the back. We will be on a seven mile stretch of dirt road north of Cape North, the northernmost town on the Cabot Trail. The nearest neighbor is miles away. The town in a 5K bike ride on an empty old road. Oh, bliss!

So now on to the Christmas shopping and the running and the Getting Back to Life. Enjoy the holidays everyone. Even the hectic days leading up to the holidays. Breathe. Live. Love.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Time to Heal

I got an email from my friend, Bob, this week saying, "I checked your blog and this is the longest you've gone without writing. Are you okay?"

I told him that my tendinitis was flaring up again, so I wasn't running much.

"That explains the not running," he typed back. "What about not writing?"

Well. That's more complicated. I guess I haven't wanted to once again document my Not Running Life here on my running blog. Because the Not Running is not bothering me nearly as much as it was over the summer. Perhaps my Mental Health is improving and I am not so dearly dependent on running to keep me (relatively) sane. Or maybe that's all hooey and I am in complete denial. I honestly don't know.

Anyway, here on Thanksgiving morning, a time generally reserved for a pre-meal long run, I am Not Running, and I'm okay with it. The weather has been mild this November so I have been able to get out on my bike. And I have been swimming and lifting at the Y a couple of times a week. I am thankful for so many things in my life: family, friends, homeschool, pets, writing, music. Missing a few runs pales in comparison.

Pretty much.

I am looking at this as a time of healing. A necessary down time at mid-life. I am trying to re-group, re-think, re-prioritize. And it seems to be going well.

I just started taking violin lessons. What a joy it is to make music again. I played the violin growing up, played in orchestras in grade school and middle school, dabbled in college. The kids all play the piano now, as does Brian, and Nell started violin earlier this fall. One morning, listening to them all take turns on the piano, it occurred to me that everyone in the house was making music except me. So I signed up with Nell's teacher (picture Emma Thompson with a violin under her chin) and have been playing for about three weeks.

When I look at the music and try to make my fingers respond to the notes on the page, I can feel all the old firings in my brain. It's like a brain massage. Old synapses quiet for decades are springing to life. It's very cool. Pop pop pop goes the inside of my head. Squeak squeak squeak goes the instrument. I'm not very good yet, but I'm working at it.

I think its valuable, as a homeschooling parent, to really suck at something and work to overcome that suck-i-ness. Because that is what I am asking of my kids on a daily basis. It's good to remember, as I try to help Ben learn to read, what if feels like to begin a difficult task, what it feels like to fail, and what it feels like to finally crack the code. It's a good exercise.

My other challenge these days is my stomach. A couple of years ago I was diagnosed with a non-bacterial gastric ulcer. I was put on Nexium and told that I should stay on it for the rest of my life. Sometimes the Nexium works and sometimes it doesn't. I started researching the drug and discovered that it is intended to be taken only for two week periods.

So I am trying to get off the Nexium. I am working with a Naturopath and we are doing our level best to get to the bottom of my stomach distress. It has been an uncomfortable process, but ultimately worthwhile. I am off the Nexium now, feeling mostly okay (the nausea is gone and I am left with only heartburn, which I can handle on a daily basis), and working though dietary changes. I am off dairy and wheat at the moment and waiting for the lining of my stomach and esophagus to heal. Then we'll go from there.

It's funny, but since going off wheat almost a week ago, I find that I am much sharper. I am chattier, less dragged out, more clear in my thinking, especially when I am talking to people. Weird. It's like a veil has been lifted. And there are so many gluten free products on the market now (expensive!!), that making the switch has not been much trouble.

And my tendon will get better. Eventually. This I know because my long-suffering PT tells me so. I haven't run since last Saturday (5 days). I hurt it again on the roads last Saturday during a long (which turned out to be not so long) run with Susan. I had noticed twinges down around my ankle all week (why do I so consistently ignore the warning signs?), and then on the long run something gave and the hurting started again. I walked back to the car, but the walk was long and the ankle was sore. And then I spent 4 hours standing on the hard pool deck tiles at a swim meet. By the end of the day, it was really sore. So. Back to square 1. Or perhaps not square 1, maybe square 3 or 4. I don't think it's too bad this time.

But overall, life is good. Biking is fun. My swimming is getting better. I actually did a 1000 yard IM yesterday morning and felt marvellous afterward. I am helping to coach Nell's swimteam again this year. I love coaching swimming. The kids are great, the parents are wonderful, and this year's coaches are phenomenal. Swimming is such a great sport for kids. Nell would go every night for two hours if I let her. Clearly she has the exercise bug. But she's only 8. Three times a week is enough.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading here. This life is a gift and today I am conscious of being endlessly thankful. Thankful without ceasing. All day long.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

(Didn't Run) Stonecat 50 (Un) Race Report

As will soon become obvious from the pictures here, last Saturday was a drop dead gorgeous day. Temps in the forties, sunny, not terribly windy (unless of course you're on the bow of a ship). Perfect conditions for not running 50 miles.

It is always hard to not start a race you have signed up for. Especially a race with a no-return entry fee policy (yes, I understand why they don't refund the money, but it's difficult to swallow nonetheless). You see, my foot is better. So much better. But not all the way better. After three or four hours running it starts to ache. Just a little. But enough to be worrisome. Enough for me to realize that running on it for nine or ten hours would not be such a great idea. Indeed, would probably have me back on the couch for another month or two of difficult rehabilitation.

No fun, right?

So I didn't run the Stone Cat 50. Stone Cat was my first 50 two years ago. I had a great time running it last year. And when I signed up this year, back in August, I was quite certain that my tendinitis would be resolved by November. NOVEMBER! It felt like a million years away.


Just for the sake of argument let's suppose that in some bizarro parallel universe I did run Stone Cat. Let's say my avatar ran Stone Cat while I went about my business all the livelong Saturday. Because somewhere in my soul, I did run Stone Cat. It was never far from my thoughts.

I started running at 5:30 Saturday morning at Bluff Point with Susan. This put me 45 minutes ahead of the Stone Cat start time 75 miles north in Ipswich, MA (the race started at 6:15). The trails at Bluff Point are very similar to the Stone Cat course: rolling fire roads and single track in new growth forest.

Stone Cat consists of four 12.5 mile loops. It usually takes me between 2 and 3 hours to run each loop. Susan and I ran for three hours. We had a great time. We talked, we laughed. Right smack at the three-hour mark my foot started to ache a little. And I was actually a teeny bit glad about that. Because it meant that I had made the right decision. Stone Cat would have wrecked my foot again.

So Susan and I looped back from our 3-hour run at 8:30, which is just about the time I would have been finishing the first loop of Stone Cat. So let's say with perfect confidence that I ran the first loop.

I then dashed home and in 45 minutes made 5 lunches and umpteen snacks, packed 3 changes of kid clothes, baked a batch of bring-em-with-ya chocolate chip cookies, and funneled everyone into the car for the hour drive to Point Judith to catch the Block Island Ferry. It was sort of a last minute decision earlier this week: Brian and I took the kids to Block Island for the day. This, my friends, is an ultra event all by itself!

By the time I would have finished Loop 2, we were on the boat.

Loop 2 was delightful. We go off the ferry and took a little hike to a nice picnic spot.

Loop 3 was fun, too. We walked around the beach, jumped on rocks, burrowed through secret tunnels in the dunes, and visited a crazy, random island zoo.

And then we had to make the decision that every single person running Stone Cat had to make: do we really want to head out for Loop 4, or do we call it a day. Here was our dilemma: we were all happy. We were having a nice day. We could take the 2:00 ferry back to the mainland while we were still ahead of the game.

Or we could risk another 3 hours on the island and take the 5:00 ferry. The very last ferry of the day.

We consulted maps.

We took stock of our supplies. We mentioned the fact that, after all, we were here on this island, we had come all this way, and so and why not finish out the day.


We decided to stay. And not only that, we set off along the road (at least a mile and a half) to the Southeast Lighthouse. It took us an hour to walk an mile and half. Reader, need I say more? You would not believe the whining and the moping that went on. How do people walk this slowly, I ask you? Three toes sloths were passing us on the street. Centuries came and went in that mile and a half.

But eventually we made it. And there was, thank goodness, stuff to look at and climb. A hearty snack and a nice sit set everyone back to rights. The last loop is always the hardest.

The walk back from the lighthouse to town went much better. We found an old dirt road that made a little shortcut. It was mostly downhill. And when we got close, we bought the kids a treat. Because nothing gets you to the end of an ultra like a little ice cream in the last mile (even if it IS 35 degrees outside).

And just as we came back into town, we could see the lights of the finish line glowing in the distance. We made it!

So good to finish. SO amazing to sit down in the warm ferry with a cup of hot cocoa knowing you have run a good race.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The leaves are falling and my heart is singing

Zipping down the freeway on the way to our fantastic homeschool nature class at Bushy Hill in Ivoryton, CT last Friday I noticed that most of the leaves were down from the trees. I could once again see the bare tree skeletons, gray sticks against the gray sky, and I literally felt my heart lighten. I am a winter person through and through. The oppression of all that greenery through the summer weighs on me.

Oh, it weighs on me.

But driving last Friday, the heaviness lifted. It rose from my heart and was gone.

"Like you've been holding your breath for a really long time?" asked Nell.


By Halloween night, with it's spooky clouds and wind and almost full moon I was light as a feather and full of joy.

The kids had a blast trick-or-treating with their friends in the neighborhood.

And the next morning I met Susan and Grace at Bluff Point for a long trail run. We were scheduled to meet at 7 to allow for a bit of a post-Halloween sleep in. But with the time change during the night, I was rearin' to go at 6. So I ran a little extra hour by myself at the front end and took a few pictures in the early morning light.

Bluff Point is a lovely place to run. The main trail is a four mile loop on a wide, rolling fire road circling a little peninsula which used to be a seaside retreat. The Hurricane of 1938 (that date may be slightly wrong) blew down all the beach houses and rather than rebuild, the whole place was turned into a nature preserve. Over the past ten or fifteen years, mountain bikers have opened up lots of single track trails inside and around the main loop. If you run these trails and connect over to Haley Farm via the railroad track path, you can make an 8 to 10 mile loop. All good!

I circled back to the parking lot at 7 to meet Grace and Susan and Susan's dad, Gary, one of our life-giving pacers at the VT 100. I hadn't seen Gary since VT and I had not run with Grace in many moons, so it was wonderful to see them both.

Yes, Susan, always a pleasure to see you, too!

Gary ran the first loop with us then called it a morning because his calf was bugging him.

Susan and Grace.

The day was perfect. Cloudy, a little windy, with temps between 45 and 50. The leaves were a little wet and slippery, just enough to keep things interesting.

The three of us ran for 3 hours. We talked about our kids, food (Grace has gone vegan and I am dairy and red-meat free and feeling oh so much better, off all stomach meds, etc.), politics, sports, you name it.

Here is Grace taking off. Grace is really fast. She keeps it slow for Susan and me. Actually, Susan is pretty fast too. I'm not. And that's okay.

Susan and me at Haley Farm (an old working farm, now trails)

Susan has never been a huge fan of trail running. She turned her ankle a couple of years ago at the Northern Nipmuck Trail Race and has been sort of worried about such things ever since. She does not like to get lost. She has just always been a road runner. But this run converted her! She even enjoyed the single track. We had such a great time. No cars. Beautiful scenery. Good pace.

Susan is now a trail runner. I could not be happier! We are meeting up again this weekend to do it all over again. I have decided not to run the Stone Cat 50 on Saturday. My tendon issues are still not fully resolved and I do not relish the thought of another long lay-off. Tough decision made easier by the fact that Brian will tie me to a chair if I try to drive up to Ipswich Friday evening.

There she goes. Run, Susan. Run!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Temperamentally not a sprinter

Lately I have been wondering how much temperament has to do with the kind of racing we choose. By temperament, I mean our natural inclination toward showing emotion. Are you the kind of person who puts it all out there, or do you hold back? I suspect (though I could be wrong) that most ultramarathoners are more of the hold back variety.

Last night I was helping to coach my daughter Nell's swimteam practice. I told the kids that we were going to swim 4 x 100 freestyle. The first and last laps of the 100's could be easy, but the middle 50 was to be an all out sprint.

Nell is kind of like me. As a kid I was hesitant to show much emotion. For whatever reason, I always tried to present a calm face to the world, regardless of what was going on inside my head and heart. I didn't much enjoy being the center of attention. Did not enjoy praise, and often felt devastated by criticism.

The other morning, Nell told me, more or less out of the blue, that when she is feeling excited she doesn't like to show it.


She couldn't answer why.

I told her that people like to know when you're excited because it makes them feel excited, too. What I did not tell her (and I think I will now that I have given the matter some thought), is that it has taken me most of my life to reach that simple conclusion. Emotions are worth sharing. Emotions connect us to other people.

But perhaps that simple fact is not one of those things you can just tell someone. Especially someone like Nell. Perhaps it's one of those things that you must live yourself into. I don't know.

But the fact remains that Nell does not like to put it all out there. And this conversation came back to me last night at the pool. Nell does not like to sprint. She had a hard time sprinting the middle 50 during that 4 x 100 set. And it's not because she's lazy. She swims the 10-and-over practice and she's only 8. She loves to go long. I think, temperamentally, however, she does not like to sprint. Sprinting requires a full exertion. You must give it everything you have at that moment. Nell is reluctant to do this. She holds back. She saves herself.

Same thing in soccer. She'll run her little butt off all over the field. She stays in position (usually halfback), she passes, she runs next to the ball. But she does not want the ball itself. She likes to be on the field and she likes to run, but she wants nothing to do with the ball. She cannot get rid of it fast enough.

(Yes, I was like that, too. Which makes it all the more difficult to watch.)

Funny kid.

Perhaps she is destined to be an ultrarunner. It's perfect for people like Nell. There is no danger of being the center of attention. No one can see you way out in the woods. And there is very little sprinting. Actually, I believe it's safe to say that there is no sprinting whatsoever. I have never sprinted in a ultra.

I hate sprinting!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

20th College Reuinon: A Different Kind of Endurance Event

It's Wednesday morning; three full days since I said goodbye to my old college friends in Williamsburg. My throat still hurts, my voice still sounds like Bob Edwards and my feet just don't wanna run. This is going to take a bit of time to recover from. This, my friends, calls for some of my ultrarunning recovery skills: week off, lots of water, plenty of protein, and of course, whenever possible, naps, naps, naps.

How did we do this in college? How did we stay out until 3 or 4 in the morning every weekend, (every single everlovin' weekend!), and survive, let alone get anything done?

Ah, youth?

I am so far out of practice it's ridiculous. I go to bed at 8:30 for chrissake. 9 tops. If I stay up past 10 I feel very hip indeed. Before last weekend, I cannot remember the last time I saw 11 go by on the clock.

But oh my goodness did we have fun! There is nothing like getting together with old friends, with people you knew well (or even not so well, it turns out) 20 years ago. The minute you put yourself back in the original habitat (Paul's, the College Delly, The Greene Leaf, for example), BOOM, it's like no time has passed. One beer (or even no beers, Glen) and you're back in business. Laughing (god, did we laugh), and as Joey says, laughing about yourself with old friends is the best kind of belly laughing you're likely to find.

I was an excellent student in high school. My GPA was well above 4.0. I took all the hard classes, lettered in 4 sports, had some good friends, had some good times, but generally put my nose to the grindstone and churned out quality work. I was not terribly original. I did not particularly stand out in any one area. I was just a hard working kid who got good grades all around. A teacher's dream student.

Once I got to college, I sort of let that all go. In retrospect, I think I may have spent so much time in high school trying to please other people (teachers, coaches, etc.), that by the time I got to college I was thoroughly sick of it all. I still thought of myself as smart, but I wasn't so interested in proving that to other people. I didn't do what I was supposed to do: work hard, befriend my professors, join clubs, make a name for myself.

College, for me, was a long delayed social education. I made wonderful friends. For the first time since well before my teen years, I had close friends. People I could talk to, dance with, run with, be with, without feeling outside of myself. I am not the most talkative and forthcoming person in the world, but any social skills I now have, I attribute to my college "education."

Because man oh man, did we have fun.

Starting last Friday afternoon, I tossed myself back in the soup. I dropped Nell off with my sister in Richmond (thanks, Maria!) and the boys with my parents (thanks, Mom and Dad!) and I joined the Homecoming Train, which had started a week earlier picking people up along the way: Connecticut, New York, Alexandria, Richmond and finally Williamsburg. By the time I arrived at the Ho House (Hospitality House Hotel) the revelers were mere lumps on the bed. They were gravelly and shaky and pale. They needed to get outside!

So we crossed the street, got our name tags and hit the Greene Leaf.

All photos here are courtesy of Cathy, our own Events Coordinator, pictured at right. Thanks for being diligent with the camera, Cathy!

That drink there is a bourbon and ginger ale, which was our drink of choice back in the day. Tracy ordered one for old timey sake and it came in this huge pint glass. I noticed all the drinks came in huge pint glasses. We had to pass it around to finish it. Drinks used to come in little cocktail glasses. What's up with that?

So excellent to see people as they drifted in. Some married with kids, some single with maddeningly interesting careers, some juggling both, some not. Funny how everyone ends up. And never what you would have predicted. (Why is it that the biggest f%$ ups in college -- excluding self here -- now make the most money? You go, my people!)

Here are my peeps.

You can see the bitter remains of a calamari appetizer sitting there on the bar. We all shared those fried little babies, and that was the last food any of us (except Tracy!) saw until our Cheese Shop sandwiches early the next afternoon. Again, I ask you, how did we survive in college? How did we not drop dead from vitamin deficiency?

Around 9 we headed over to the Class of '89 gathering at the Alumni House.

All good. Cool to see everyone.

Just as we were getting ready to head back to the Ho House for late night festivities I turned a corner and literally bumped into my old friend, Dave, one of my staple people from both high school and college. I screamed, he laughed and we hugged over and over. I could not believe he was there. But there he was, calm as the Buddha, chuckling and nodding, big as life. Amazing what you find at reunions. I wanted to pull him aside and talk for hours. Talk all night. But it was a reunion, after all, and you must move on.

We sat out on that patio at the Ho House until we got kicked out in the wee small hours of the morning. I was shocked they let us stay out there so long, because we were not quiet. Evidently no one complained. Here I am with Tracy, who I lived with all four years in college and now lives in the Bay Area and is one of the few people I love talking to on the phone, and Katie who is one of those amazing people I wish I had known better in college but am thrilled to have in my life (at least as it exists in FB) now.

Most people went back to Ducie's suite after this for more good fun, but I called it a night. I was hoping to get in a run Saturday morning. In retrospect, I should have gone. But I was feeling done, done, done.

And indeed I did run Saturday for a couple of hours through my old college routes. It was good to be alone. Good to be moving. Good just to be outside.

Saturday was all about tailgates and finding lunch. We heard my freshman roommate Val's band play by the Sunken Garden. Rock on, Val! You sounded amazing. When we rolled in she was jamming on the drums with a huge smile on her face. Freaking awesome!

Tracy, Glen and I walked over to the Cheese Shop to pick up sandwiches for everyone. Fun to talk to Glen, who is now 8 years clean and sober. Glen making sense is kind of a new thing. We had an extremely enlightening conversation, which I will not go into here.(For those of you with curious minds: picture that famous bar conversation between Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell in Four Weddings and a Funeral, and, as Tracy says, add a zero.) My goodness, Glen. Who knew?? (Everyone but me, evidently!)

Just look at him!

Maybe you had to know him before, but look how focused his eyes are! Look how lean his face is! And he's signed up for an Ironman next fall! (Thump.......I'm okay...........just a sec........I'm getting up......). I'm back. Well done, Glen!

The cocktail-less Cocktail reception that evening was excruciating. Tracy and I and almost everybody else in on the Homecoming Train had taken an afternoon nap, which made us (only me?) a little grumpy. Being forced into a long room with no circulation, bad food and a bunch of faces I could just barely place almost put me over the edge.

The whole ultrarunning thing is kind of a conversation stopper. One person would tell another person. You ran 100 miles! We all have our addictions, people. I'm sure half the people reading this have run 100 miles. It's just what we do. For the absolute love of it. I love the whole scene. No big deal.

Finally, finally we all filed down to the basement ballroom where a kickass opening band, The Velveteens, put the spark back in my step. Ska, baby! Love it. No one would dance with me, so I danced by myself. I look like a dork here, but I was wildly happy.

Look, I have even forgiven Tony, who thought it was a good idea to call my room over and over early Saturday morning (4 a.m. early) to try to get me to come back out. I'm okay, you're okay, Tony man. Can you guess which one is me? People used to get Kathy and me mixed up in college. Not so much anymore!

All good. All fun. We danced and danced. But, man, it's a good thing these events happen only once every five years. Perhaps by then I'll be ready to do it all over again.

These photos (thank you, Tuna) say it all. Bob and Kim seeing each other for the first time in years.