Where I went…a tale of two dinners.

After my “Telling the Truth” post, I bet you were wondering if things had gone pear-shaped in my home.  Well, they did, but not in the way you might have expected.  It began with a steak…an ordinary steak.

My iron was low – I could tell because my hands kept turning white on mild days, and I’d be the only one at my son’s football match wearing a down jacket.  So we bought some steaks, because that tends to fix the problem pretty quickly for me.  I’m of Irish roots, so I cannot physically have steak without some form of potato.  Which is where it all came undone.

The first time I had my Mom to dinner when we were newlyweds, she arrived with a lovely house-warming gift.  It was a book called “Cooking for Absolute Beginners (or How to Cook a Six-Minute Egg)”.  Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mom.  She was right though.  I’d never learned to cook.  To be fair, my Mom could only make spaghetti with sauce from a jar, and, oddly, Thanksgiving Turkey.  That’s it.  There was no cooking role-model to follow, and no one cared about teaching or learning this cooking stuff.  I was from New York; not cooking was a badge of honor, and an unnecessary skill in one’s late twenties.  My first apartment had no kitchen, and this was fine.

Now, flash-forward twenty years or so, and spot me here in our suburban Australian kitchen.  I’ve got two kids, and I’ve taught myself to cook (we were all very hungry) through YouTube, trial-and-error and the help of kind-hearted domestic friends (“What does cream the butter mean?”.  But – and here’s the part where you have to not laugh at me – I’d never learned to clean an oven.

Here’s my excuse:  we’ve moved a lot.  Three countries; twelve or so homes.  And not a lot of cooking happened in most of those homes.  We never had to clean the oven; it had never got dirty.

Until now.  Six years we’ve lived here.  I’ve contemplated moving, renovating the kitchen, going out to eat more; I’ve not contemplated cleaning the oven.  I’ve hated our oven since year 1, when it filled the house with smoke on Christmas (yes, all by itself).  And then it burned four cakes I was making for my son’s tenth birthday.  I had it in for this stove; I wanted it gone, and if I waited long enough, surely I’d replace it before I’d have to clean it.

One day, a domestically-oriented friend gloated (oops, I mean told me) that she’d cleaned her oven.  It looked really nice, she said.  I felt inspired.  After Googling how,  I tried it.  Baking soda and vinegar, they said, but that oven sneered at me, and wouldn’t let go of its burned-on bits.

I bought a can of Oven Cleaner.  I carted it home, and read the large, wordy warning label on the back.  It scared the life out of me.  May eat the skin off your hands if sprayed.  Will kill all your pets and fill your home with toxic fumes.  Will blind you if you even touch this can. Back away slowly and lock the cupboard.

I left the oven as it was.  It didn’t matter because this cool oven had a nifty half-oven thing, so the burned bit on the whole oven didn’t see the heat anyway.  That is, until the steak night a month ago.

I put the potatoes in to bake (using the idiot’s cookbook my Mom bought me to make sure I did it right, and using the WHOLE oven).  My husband was at the gym; the kids were in bed; the cats and dog were sleeping.  I had an hour to blog while those potatoes baked.

Except I didn’t.  Because the house rapidly filled up with toxic white smoke (I’d removed the handy half-oven thing like a fool, and the burny bit was, well, burning).  Of course I Googled toxic smoke from the oven right away, flung open all the doors and windows, and checked on the kids and cats eighty-two times.  Then my husband came home, found me in panicked tears, and suggested tuna sandwiches.  He’s a paragon of patience.

I threw out the toxic-smoked potatoes, and the out-of-date steaks a few days later (terrible wastage, I know).

But I wasn’t giving up.  I am not a giving up sort of person.  Hence, the ultra-marathon running.  I tried again the next week, with the half-oven thingy in.  Potatoes back in the oven, vegetables cut up and ready to be steamed.  Surely it would be okay.

Nope.  It was like the movie Groundhog Day!  The same exact thing happened, only it was colder out, so I shivered throwing out the toxic potatoes and eating my tuna sandwich.

Now, I am not a quitter.  But I have to confess that if there had been an iron bar of any sort in the house, that oven would be history.  I pictured its mangled remains on the nature strip as I searched for the price of a new oven online.  But I was too tired (and iron-poor) so I just swore a lot.

The next day, I studied the Oven Cleaner can again.  Yes, it might kill me.  But so would the toxic smoke from the oven.  And iron-deficiency could too, one day.  I got on the biggest, thickest rubber gloves I had, put on my reading glasses (sigh) to both read the stupid can, and then to protect my eyes, put all the animals out, held my breath and sprayed.  Then I ran from the room.

I waited thirty toxic minutes, then held my breath, and dove in with a damp cloth.  Some of the burny bit came off.  A lot didn’t. I repeated the performance several times over the next week, as the Thursday steak night approached.  Eventually I attacked the burny bit with a plastic tool that came with a bunch of kiwis (“I don’t care if I scratch the enamel – I hope I scratch it and can throw this oven out!”).  But a miracle occured:  the burny bit, like a dead monster, came away.  Scrape, scrape, scrape.  The animals wanted to come in; my kids would be home soon.  I was sweating and swearing and scraping but I would have my steak.  I would have it!

Thursday came.  I wrapped the potatoes in foil and put them on a baking sheet.  I’d be damned if they were going to drip on that clean oven floor ever again (and yes, I poked holes in them so they didn’t explode).  I waited; I checked.  No smoke.  No toxic smell.  I danced in glee around the living room and the dog watched me with loving eyes.  My husband returned, gingerly, from the gym.  I was smiling; he still looked scared.  When the potatoes were done, I set them aside in their little tin-foil wrappers, and put the steaks on to grill.  I did them perfectly.  Perfectly.

I have never tasted a better meal.  It took three weeks, and a lot of time I could have spent blogging, but I can now say, at age 48, that I have finally cleaned my first oven.  Who knew the racks were silver?  I would have sworn they were gold.

I promise I’ll write about running next week, as the Salomon Trail Series is about to kick off.  I’ve been working on my speed training, which is absolutely glorious, and I’ve hired my first-ever running coach to see if I can improve a bit.

 

Telling the truth.

How funny.  I never have writer’s block.  But I’ve started this post three different ways, and erased all of them.  I keep starting and stopping, staring at the blank screen, trying to think of the right way to put this.

Six years ago I returned to Melbourne with our young family.  The kids were 3 and 4 then, and I knew, even back then, something wasn’t quite right.  It has taken those six years to finally get a diagnosis of what the problem is with one of my children.  I won’t share the label/diagnosis here, or the gender of that child, because that is private and it is not mine to share.

What I will share is the impact those six long years has had on me.  Because it’s the truth, and not telling the truth is making me leave big, vacant holes in my stories, holes that make me feel inauthentic, and holes that need to be filled.

The first few years back in Australia, I was very near the edge.  I couldn’t see a way out, a way forward.  Each morning, I woke up to blackness and despair.  Was it post-natal depression?  Post-traumatic stress?  I don’t know.  It was probably both.  My husband had finished work and had been diagnosed with a spinal tumor.  The surgery left him with a permanent limp, and a tendency to fall over.  Instead of working, I was home with my kids for the first time.  So was he.  We’d had two domestic helpers in Hong Kong; now it was the two of us, and I didn’t know how to do this role.

One of my children was wonderful, loving, smart, all the things a parent could want.  The other, who I tried desperately to love, would greet me with, well, would greet me with violence.  They had no words.  They were severely speech-delayed.  But they did have fists and feet, and they used them on me; I was the punching bag, and I had nowhere to run because I was Mom and alone in this foreign country.  My parents had died; I was born in New York but had left there fifteen years ago; our friends in our small town in Australia were new, and I couldn’t share the truth with them.  It was me and my husband facing this battle, and though he did his best to help, he couldn’t fix what was wrong.  I was the target for the aggression, and I couldn’t explain how bad it made me feel.  I felt I’d done something wrong as a parent, and that I deserved it.  On the darkest days, I’d hold onto the fence of the level crossing as a train went by, afraid of myself, afraid I’d step in front of it if I let go of the fence.

I took my child to various doctors but was told the same things I already knew: speech delays; behavioral difficulties; an inability to express emotion or to empathize.  A child psychologist was suggested but they were an hour’s drive away, and my child screamed during every car ride, and took off their seat belt.  Nothing could get them to put it back on.  It was impossible.  I went on; we went on.

It took me two years but I found a caring psychologist who supported me, who helped build me back up.  She was perplexed by the behaviors I described in my child and saw how difficult my life had become.  She let me cry, and told me I was courageous.  She stood by me, and listened.  But she was not a child psychologist, so a piece of the puzzle was missing.

One day, the Salomon Trail Series was announced.  I missed trail running deep in my soul.  It had been my passion while living in Hong Kong, and suddenly there seemed a light here in Melbourne, a hope.  I began to run towards it.

Since then, I’ve kept running.  Through three Salomon Trail Series, a few half-marathons, adventure races, a marathon, and finally the North Face 50km Ultramarathon last year.   Each step, each trail run, has brought me peace in the face of the disaster that much of the rest of my life, periodically, seems to become.  The strength I found through running helped me finally seek the support of a child psychologist, and find some answers.

I can’t lie.  Some days with my child are just so hard.  I get told “I hate you”; I get spit at; I get rocks thrown at me when we go for family walks; the child whispers things in my ear so my husband can’t hear and scold her, whispers horrible scalding words that make my eyes fill with tears.  We didn’t travel for five years because we were too afraid our child would sneak out of a hotel room and disappear.  We have to hide things in our home because boundaries are meaningless and unenforceable.

Some days, I want to run away and I study airplane flight schedules.  During school holidays, I take an extra hour in bed to shorten the day.  I look in the mirror and I wonder where the self I worked so hard to create has gone.  The PhD in psychology, the two books I’ve published, the classes and seminars and radio shows I’ve done.  I long to see joy in my eyes, for my husband and I to stop snapping at each other because we’re both under such stress.

I hold on.  I try to notice flowers and autumn leaves.  I pet my cats and take our dog for walks.

I run.  Sometimes I’ve run too far and injured myself, and my last bastion of support and strength has crumbled beneath me and I have to hold on by my fingernails to survive.  I am teaching myself to play piano because I find I can lose myself in the music and this also acts as a salve.

The dark days have become less regular, but they are no less dark when they do occur.  School holidays brings on a lot of them, because there is a lot more time for conflict to occur. I go quiet then on my blog, because the truth is hard to share.

I study the label that has been applied to my child by several psychologists now and see some truth in it, but I know that people change and that this label may not fit in the future, and I don’t want to stick my child with it forever because then that child may feel they have to live up to it somehow.  I keep seeking help for us, through Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Psychologists, through aid at school.

I am not alone in this battle.  Hundreds of parents face it.  This I know.  I hope by sharing my truth of how hard it has been, I help one of you.  I get knocked down.  Regularly.  But I’m going to keep right on getting back up.

Trail running is one place I go to salve my wounds, to fill my soul, to howl the tears that need to be howled.  Sometimes I go quiet.  Please know that it is hardest to write when times are most dark.  I am still here, fighting the good fight, and I will write for you again.  I will tell you stories of joy and running, of battling, of courage in the face of great disasters.

And I will tell you the truth.

 

“Drop that Garmin!” and other fun moments in running life with a puppy…

I knew it the moment I saw it sitting on my desk.  That’s not where I left it, I thought.  I’d just gotten home from riding the kids to school, so I knew it wasn’t their shenanigans.  I didn’t examine the running watch too closely, simply put it back on to charge, and silently thanked my husband.

The same husband who later at lunch told me with an unspoken “you big dummy” in his voice that the puppy had (again) got hold of my Garmin.  She’d been quiet for a few minutes – never a good sign, he said.  He’d found her contentedly chewing on my watch in the playroom, and had saved it from sure demise.

I was grateful, of course.  But I wasn’t surprised.  I knew that smelly black Garmin, caked in salty sweat, would be damn near irresistible to the puppy, so I’d shoved it under a bookshelf to charge.  She’d nosed it out.  Apparently a few times.

The last three weeks have taught me that any item left on the floor will be chewed, and, if not quickly confiscated, completely destroyed.  On the weekend, I bought Leila (that’s the puppy’s name) a new toy to chew – it was a rope thingy with two rubber balls attached.  One ball is gone already.  Gone.  There are dog-sized holes on the back lawn.  And each night, she takes one of the sofas for her very own.

But she’s a great dog, and I’m not complaining.  That wagging tail when I come in the front door?  No one has ever greeted me with such fervor.  When she settles down to go to sleep she kind of sighs, and wiggles her head side to side like a child.  She’s got several blankets with paw-print designs that she carries around the house to curl up on.  And she is learning how to walk by my side on a loose lead, which seems somewhat miraculous.  When I say, “Sit”, she sits!  It has been years since anyone responded to me with such immediate compliance.  And she does it whilst wagging her tail.

Leila on her sun lounger

Leila on her sun lounger

Running, you ask?  It has been progressing, but somehow with less obsession of late.  The puppy and the piano, the kids, life in general – all of it seems to be shifting back to the center, and running is taking a nice steady side track.  It’s a good thing.  I feel calmer and more myself than I have in a couple of years.  In pursuit of really long distance, I had let a lot of the balance slip from my life.  I was a bit like Forrest Gump I think, running because I needed to.  Now, thankfully, I don’t need to in such a huge way anymore.

At Mount Dandenong on Friday last week, I managed my first 15k run in four months.  I did bits of the Roller Coaster Run course, with a few detours to shorten it to the right length.  The fact that I know the trails so well delights me, that I can run where I like alone, navigate, dance the trails, and take care of so many elements of myself at once, well, that is pretty perfect.  I’m secretly targeting the real Roller Coaster Run in three weeks time, depending on how well I run the longer distance.  Today I dropped back to the 21k instead of 43k option, which seems quite far enough now.  I’d pretty much given up on doing the race at all, but now I’ve got a bit more hope.

RollerCoaster Medal

The Buffalo Stampede Marathon I’d planned for April I’ve had to declare impossible.  The North Face 50k in May remains to be seen.

It is great that, while important, these races are not everything.

The love that surrounds me?  That is everything, and I’m feeling pretty blessed at the moment.

And now I’d better go and see what Leila has eaten while I’ve been busy writing…

The dumbest thing I’ve ever done. Perhaps.

On Wednesday last week, after two months of searching, learning, exploring and deciding, a twelve-week old puppy arrived on our doorstep.  She was in the care of a foster mom at Labrador Rescue up in Queensland, having been saved from a shelter.  I knew she was the one the moment I saw her photo and I pursued her, well, like a Labrador pursues anything.  Doggedly, until she was ours, and we were hers.

image

She flew from Brisbane to Melbourne in the care of Jet Pets, and was handed to me (me who had never held a puppy before) in front of my house at 3:42 pm.  The kids got home at 4:00.  The cats?  They were seen once or twice shaking their heads in dismay through the windows.  I quickly captured and brought them in, so they wouldn’t disappear.  They cowered in their laundry room, disbelief in their eyes.

Leila, the pup, is good as gold, and behaving exactly as a puppy should behave.  In other words, peeing on the floor, crying for half the night, terrorizing the cats, and eating everything in sight.  She is like a living vacuum cleaner with no off switch.

Of course she is adorable and her ears as soft as silk, her wagging tail a delight to behold.

But here’s the thing:  life was already a challenge.  My youngest child has some serious learning issues, and does not respond well to change.  This means that the week we had of peace in my home – the first week of peace in eight years – has been suddenly replaced by dog toys being thrown at my head, and chants of “You’re a loser” copied direct from some TV show.  Saturday morning, I cleaned the kitchen and did six loads of laundry.  This is never a good sign.

A good friend found me walking the neighborhood on Saturday (I’d needed a breath of fresh air), pulled her car over, and said, “You look like you need a drink!”  I didn’t go with her – that would be a Pandora’s Box for sure, but my tight shoulders said she was right.

Monday has come, and the kids are at school.  Our little pup had a tummy ache but a race to the vet proves it is nothing too serious, and she settles down for a nap.

And I, after two sedentary days following this pup around my house (did I mention she can’t leave for another two weeks because she needs another vaccination?), I got my running shoes on.

Somewhere along that 7k of solitude, I found the strength to continue on.  My head cleared; I felt a sense of hope.  This is not the end.  This is only the beginning.  My cats and my children and I will all stretch a bit to accommodate this new creature.  I will open my heart and love her.

So…is it the dumbest thing I’ve ever done?  Ask me in a year, when my new Labrador/Kelpie is able to run with me.  Ask me in six months when she comes to the beach to chase balls.  Ask me later today when her whole body wags when she sees me.

I suppose great things do not come without great risks.  A lesson I have had to learn yet again.

I’ve also re-learnt the lesson about running, how it puts things in perspective and makes sane the crazy in me.

A heartwarming post of great joy.

I woke up for the fourth time on that long night, having had a different version of the same dream I’d had the other three times.  She had returned, unharmed, and my family was celebrating with tears of joy.  Was it real this time?  Had she really returned?  I glanced over at my sleeping husband, and realised, yet again, that it had just been a dream.  The knowledge was shattering.

This had happened before, and I knew that if she had not appeared by morning, the chances were very slim that she would reappear at all.  Wasn’t that just what had happened with Lucky?  He’d gone out at dusk, and had never been seen again.  I tried to bring my mind back to the present.  This would turn out differently.  It had to turn out differently.

The next morning, my husband went downstairs first.  I asked him to come straight back and tell me if she’d returned.  I couldn’t bear to see the empty porch.  He didn’t come.  Instead, my young daughter appeared.

“Is she back?”

“No.  Are you going to cry?”

“Yes, I think I am.  See you after showers.”

The morning was bleak.  I couldn’t concentrate on anything.  The kids were chatty and oblivious, for the most part.  I hid in the pantry and Googled who to contact.  And I listened to the growling of the dog next door.  Could he have her pinned and injured in there?

We got the kids off to school, I called the local council, dead inside, already knowing what they’d say.  No, she’d not been turned in.  Call this other number.  No and no and no.  And a “we don’t open until ten, please call back then.”  I coached a client, leaving the pain alone for almost a full hour, though every sound on the porch outside my office made me jump up and stare out the window.

Once I was done coaching, my husband I wandered the neighborhood, calling, calling, Minnniii,  Minnniii, looking into bushes, afraid of seeing the battered remains of her on nature strips, listening for cries that would alert us to where she was.  Just like when Lucky disappeared, the streets were empty.  The absence of her was a physical thing.  It filled all the space around me, pressed me heavily onto the concrete.  We’d been playing around with the idea of adopting a dog, full of hope for this new year.  Now it seemed so pointless and futile.  Everything seemed that way.

We went to lunch and couldn’t speak.  Couldn’t meet each others eyes.  Racing home afterwards, the streets and sidewalks were still achingly empty.  No one came to greet us in our garden, no small creature stood on hind paws to kiss our hands.  I went to the back garden and called and called, in a softer, less hopeful voice.  The time had passed.  She was truly gone.

I sat staring at my computer screen, not doing anything, called a few more shelters and cried.

And then…

Mew.

It was a small cry.

Mew, again.

I leapt to my feet.  Standing there, unbelievably standing there, in all her small, black-and-white beautiful glory was our baby cat.  She had come home!  Against all odds, she had come home.

And the world is suddenly full of color again, and there is a point and a rhythm to the universe and everything is going to be okay.

All because a small black-and-white cat found her way home.

Photo: She has returned, oh happy day! :)

“You’ve got your strangling hands on,” he said, jokingly.

I snorted; it was a perfect storm.  It was school holidays – long before we could consider them drawing to a close; I hadn’t been able to run due to injury; we’d had four back-to-back days of 40 degree plus weather, meaning no exercise at all was possible; I had a chest infection that was making me cough and cough; the kids were bouncing off the walls and each other; and we were making lunch together in our too-small kitchen.

I stepped away from the counter space where my husband was working – where I wanted to be working – and shook my hands out.  Strangling hands indeed!

I’d hurt my knee way back in November, after my first true marathon.  I’d expected a week to recover but that had stretched into six weeks.  Then I’d messed up my post-injury recovery by going out too fast, and hurting my other leg.  So I’d had to pull the plug on running for another week.  I was grumpy, sickish, in desperate need of solitude and writing time, hungering for the woods that heal me when I run.  And none of the things I needed were available.

Out of nowhere, my eight-year-old daughter declared she wanted to run around the block.  She never runs; she hates to even walk.  Before we got to seize this wonderful opportunity, she got angry though.  My son was going to run with her, and he strapped on the training watch I’d given him that came with my new Runner’s World subscription.  She wanted one too!  It wasn’t fair!  She stormed around shouting until my son found an old watch for her to wear, and only then could they get shoes on (my son ran in thongs, a true minimalist).

Watched and shod, off they ran.  My husband and I waited at the top of the hill for them to reappear, and they did, charging.  They were puffed, but my daughter wanted to go again.  So she did, with my husband beside her on a bike.  My son saved himself for our planned 1k around the streets, trying to rebuild his fitness from his 5k race back in July last year.  Later in the day, I finally made it, all by myself, to the gym.

Riding my bike down the hill, it occurred to me that it had been days and days since I’d been alone.  I felt the wind in my face, felt freedom, felt glad to be alive.  The treadmill at the gym rewarded me with a 2k run, with no pain, and my heavy weights, well, they made me feel strong and warrior-like.

I rode home, contemplating how to fix the mistake of not giving my daughter a running watch too.  Perhaps I had an old one she could borrow?

As soon as I walked in the door, my son ran up to me.  “She wants to run around the block again!”  I was too tired by then to join her, and determined to stick to my 3k plan for the day, so I let the rest of the family do the run.

In the meantime I found a Training Diary that had also come with my subscription.  As my daughter ran towards me, completing her third lap of the block, I held it out to her.  Her eyes lit up.  She grabbed my hand, pulled me inside to my office, and we sat down to record the details of her three laps around the block, including time, feelings, and the course. For her good night story, we read about hydrating drinks, and talked about how important sleep is to recovery.

She’s gone to sleep with her new training diary next to her pillow, and is already planning her next run.  My son is planning to do a 10k race this year.  And me?  I’m planning to get injury free, and then fly like the wind on my favorite trails.

A return to the gym.

 

Missing out on Two Bays

Missing out on Two Bays

So, how were your holidays?  I’ve been away from my blog for several weeks, and, in fact, am feeling a bit rusty at writing.  Three weeks with young children around will do that.  “Mom…” and “Dad…” incessantly, all-out-war fights between the kids, plus a beach house with very limited internet access.  Thank goodness we bought a piano just before Christmas.  Though I do not play yet, it has helped keep me sane.

Let me rewind a minute.  You might recall that just after the Marysville Marathon in November, I hurt my knee.  It swelled up to three times its usual size, and I spent many weeks trying to get it better.  Cross-training, rest, physio, more rest (actually 9 complete days exercise free – a record for me), and then a gradual return to running.

I’m not real good with rest or with injury.  My family will surely attest to that.  But this time, during my 9 days rest, I had a new toy.  I’d always planned on learning piano.  My Dad was an accomplished pianist, and my fondest memories are of listening to him play.  Bach, Chopin, Beethoven; he could play them all.  But he couldn’t teach.  At least, he couldn’t teach me, an independent child who didn’t like to be taught very much, and certainly didn’t like his angry style.  Poor Dad; he would have loved to hear me play, but he scared the life out of me, and I quit, and began riding horses instead.

But it’s always been there, my secret plan to learn, once I was old enough.  I’m still sort of scared, although my Dad has been dead for twenty years.  I don’t want a teacher – if they are mean, I’m sure I’d quit, and I’m not very good at taking instructions anyway.  So I’ve coached my nine-year old son to say just these words to me when he hears me play:  “That’s great, Mom, really great!”  And he does.  Even though I know he’s just saying it because I asked him to, it works.

I bought a series of Easy Piano instructions books geared for children, as the grown-up versions were terrifying and serious, and I like the cartoon characters pointing at the notes.  I’m halfway through book 2 of the series, progressing slowly and deliberately and with great, rebellious joy.  Yesterday I played a piece by Bach! My son, daughter and husband are playing too.  The males follow the instructions carefully.  My daughter improvises – loud, scary music.  I asked her what it was.  “It’s the dragon coming to eat the villagers,” she replied, straight-faced.

Running?  Ah, running.  We are not friends right now.  I’ve tried this, after the swelling finally went down in my right knee: 5k, wait two days, 6k, wait two days, 7k, wait one day, 8k, wait one day (that’s when my left peroneal tendon started complaining), wait one day, 9k (ignoring left knee pain as right knee was fine), wait three days and limp, 10k (too hot to notice any pain at all, until I stopped and there was the left leg pain again!).  I waited two days, and went to the gym today.  After just one running step on the treadmill, I got off.  The left leg is still wrong.

Grrr!  While I’m delighted to tell you my right knee is now the right size again (with the exception of a strange bumpy line running across the center of the kneecap that has me obsessed), I still can’t run.

But, I can lift weights.  So tonight, although there were 72 young men in the free weights area at my gym, with only three or four centimeters room between them (New Year’s Resolution time), I did my full heavy weights workout. I’d forgotten just how good it feels to be strong.  Lifting gives me nearly the same buzz as running, and has a wonderful meditative quality (well, less so with Mr. Biceps next to me, but usually).  My body hurts so good right now, and the endorphins are back on, and it was simply wonderful to see some gym buddies and class members (I teach at the same gym), and I left there feeling like I’d come back to life.

So perhaps this injury is teaching me something.  First, how to play piano.  Second, that I really still love the gym.

One last thought to leave you with tonight – for Christmas, my husband suggested something.  He actually wrote the word “wild” and “i” on a small card and then drew an animal after it.  It took me ages to work it out, what with exhaustion and champagne.  “Wild-eyed dog?” “No.” “Wild-eyed goat?” “No.”  My mind got stuck on the goat until he gave up, and told me it was “wild i dear”.  The animal was meant to be a deer!

What is the wild idea?  To get a dog!  Us of the two kids, two cats, and asthmatic husband.  Well, why not…

I’m not sure just now whether to get a dog that will want to run with me or not.  I’d hate to disappoint him.  We’re looking daily at who is available at the local animal shelter, so hopefully this wild idea will come true soon.

By the way, I had to miss the Two Bays 28k and 56k race last Sunday, with these injuries.  I was terribly disappointed, but also super-inspired by the stories of the runners who completed the event.  To toe up at the start line for a run like that takes guts.  Thanks for the inspiration, Two Bay runners!