Sunday, October 18, 2009

Run for Education

Today I ran a 10K in the Run for Education at Damonte Ranch High School. It didn't start until 9:00 which was nice, and as a double bonus, it was only a 5 minute drive from my house! Fellow Team Library Dork runner, Turi, ran with me today and played coach, but in the most motivational way possible without ever having to say a word to make me run faster. We chatted, and he was going just a tad faster than I wanted to go, and as a result I was well under my goal of an hour with a time of 55:45, according to my watch, which I feel is always more accurate than the chips we tie to our shoes. That's just me though. It was a beautiful day, and the run was very well organized, complete with shuttle buses from a near by shopping mall. And the cutest little kindergartner singing our national anthem! Turi had his Garmin strapped on to keep stats on our pace and the route. And the post race picture I took from my iPhone- I think my hand was moving when I took it...

After the 10K, they had a half mile fun run for all the Washoe County elementary schools (my parents shuttled them from home after my race, and then stayed for their race too- thanks Mom and Dad!). Sean and Ashton were SUPER excited to run today (but mostly because they wanted to get a medal). Here is a picture of us together with our race bibs, waiting for their race to start.

They were in the K-2nd grade heat, and I was able to run with them. We started back too far from the start line and got stuck behind a sardine crowd of kindergartners and first graders. (To give you some perspective of how many kids were there, I heard them announcing the top attending schools, and their school was second with nearly 200 kids! It was a very well-attended event, even for the 5 and 10K.) Once we managed to weave our way through the little'uns (I had to take the long way around the outside and sprint to catch up with them!), we settled into a sporadic pace, sometimes jogging, sometimes sprinting, but most importantly, never stopping. One lap around the school and it was over! They did great, Sean beating Ashton and me. I'm so pleased that I can share my love of running with them in this way- we take little hikes up on the trails every now and then, but running with lots of people with the same goal is inspiring and motivating for an entirely different reason. Great job today everyone! And thanks for supporting our schools, and our childrens' education~

Ashton (left) and Sean- always together! :) I'm the luckiest mom ever!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Kokanee Salmon Trail Half Marathon

This is my 4th half marathon this year (+ one at the beginning of February, one at the end of April, and one last month), but only my second ever trail half (I ran a very slow Fall Colors half with Turi last October). As it turns out, the kokanee salmon this race is named for are actually landlocked and as many as 50,000 fish swim up Taylor Creek for spawning. There were debates in the car as to where the salmon were coming from. I didn't get to see them, however, because of the blizzard we were driving through after the race. Yes, there was snow. But the skies cleared up just for the race, which gave us a fairy wonderland to run through, with the breeze blowing a sparkling dusting of crystallized snow as we passed under the branches of the great pines and redwoods. And this was not just any race: the entire Team Library Dork (Chris, Turi, Dave and I) made it for a reunion run after training as a full group only once this season. AND we were joined by fellow runners (and honorary members) Sarah (who is trying to qualify for Boston in her Biz Johnson Marathon next weekend!), my co-worker at the Carson City Library Abbey (running her first race- a half marathon! Yay Abbey!), and the infamous Gretchen who won the women's Lake Tahoe Marathon just a week ago in 80 degree weather! Thanks SO much for joining us Gretchen, even though you're still getting over the flu! Wouldn't have been the same without'cha. :) And front and center, our leader Hannah Banana. We'd follow her anywhere. From left to right: Gretchen, Dave, Turi, me, Chris, Abbey and Sarah.

Here is pre-race warm up shot:

And some of the best lookin' runners out there! (Excepting that dorky hat on my head, of course).

And Turi and I just before they started us off:

The race started at 9:00, which was good because it gave everyone time to get there in the snow. We started out on a bit of an incline, and I used this as a good excuse to warm up and go slow. Abbey and I ran together chatting back and forth as (my) breath allowed, and soon we found ourselves in a pack thinning out according to pace surrounded by the glory of the morning (thanks Turi for this photo!).

The time and first few miles flew quickly by, and after 45 minutes Abbey reminded me that it was time for a PowerGel. I thought it would be a good idea to walk for a brief minute because they are so thick and need water to get down. That turned out probably not to be the best idea, because my legs decided that they wanted to walk after that, and I lost Abbey around mile 5 or 6. I walked up a really big hill, but jammed back down, and got into a steady pace for the next few miles. Between miles 9 and 11, I started to get really tired, and realized that all the short training sessions on my treadmill with an occasional 7-8 mile trail run on the weekend was not sufficient training for the (granted, not huge) hills or distance of this race. I had a bit of a down moment at mile 11 because I was upset at myself for walking so much- I even forgot to enjoy the scenery because I was watching the trail and my feet. However at mile 12 I told myself to snap out of it- only one mile left, and it turned out to be all downhill. I powered through and ran a good hard last mile, and even passed a few people I'd been playing leap-frog with (I passed them when I ran, they passed me back when I walked- does that say something about my pace or what?). You can see how tired I am at the finish:

I came in last in our group (Abbey kicked my rear by about 10-15 minutes, and again, it was her first race! You rock Abbey!) But a finish is a finish! Dave even tricked me into drinking a sip of his icky beer (I guess it's called Ten Fidy) because I thought it was a Rock Star and could have used the boost. (Thanks again Turi for the photo!)

Here we are sitting around stretching and shivering waiting for awards. Hannah was dancing for us, and her grandma and uncle and mama Abby joined in the fun.

Dave ran the 5k and placed 3rd in his age group! He was awarded a bottle of local wine, complete with a hand painted Kokanee salmon- very cool and unique prize.

While we waited another hour and a half for Chris and Sarah to collect their winnings, they popped open a few bottles for those of us still standing around, and we warmed up a bit with wine in a Gatorade cup. Classic!

Standing and waiting for the sun to come back out, I caught sight of this peak through the trees- make you feel cold just looking at it? Worth it to click on this photo to enlarge it~

Finally they compiled the results for the half, and of course Chris won! Here he is collecting his salmon. Too bad more people didn't stick around to collect their winnings- there were a LOT of bottles and salmon left over, and they weren't just giving them away, as Gretchen and I found out. :) You had to earn those babies!

After a quick consensus, we decided that we weren't ready to part company as a group yet (although Abbey had to head back to her camp to pack up) and headed to The Brewery in South Lake for some excellent pizza (and a $10 glass of wine for me- my thanks to Abby-Chris's wife Abby, not Abbey who works with me- I've turned into a bit of a wine snob, and the inexpensive stuff I used to enjoy doesn't satisfy anymore). The only picture I got was of Turi making laughing at something that cutie-pie Hannah said:

It was a wonderful day spent with friends, and I was glad to be able to run, and partake in food and drink with them! Isn't that part of it- enjoying what we earn? I most certainly did! Thanks everyone for sharing this day with me~ :)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Letter to my son: Empathetic Sean

For a paper I recently wrote, I researched the importance of storytelling, and the history of universal human interaction through telling stories. This is what I included in my paper: Jeremy Hsu talks about empathy, and the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. “We can attribute mental states- awareness, intent- to another entity. Theory of mind, as this trait is known, is crucial to social interaction and communal living- and to understanding of stories. Children develop theory of mind around age four or five.” (Hsu,"The Secrets of Storytelling: Why we love a good yarn," 2008) To make this point, I’d like to tell you a story about empathy. After reading it, think about how this story affects you on a personal level. Are you able to relate to it because you are familiar with the book involved? Or because you have children that were once small and learning about everything around them, and you are proud to be their parent?

Imagine the story, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein (the book jacket is green with a darker green tree, and she is giving the boy a red apple). Do you know what happens in this classic picture book? It’s about a tree, and she loves a little boy. He plays in her branches and eats her apples, and the tree is happy. As the little boy grows, it becomes more and more difficult to make the boy happy. And every time the boy leaves, she is sad. She gives him her leaves, her apples, her branches, and finally her trunk so the boy will be happy. Until, at the end, the boy is a very old man, and all he wants to do is sit. And the tree sits up as straight as she can, and invites him to sit. And they are finally happy, together. I wrote the following letter to my son (I have identical twin boys), and I’d like to share it with you. Imagine me reading it to him. I invite you to read it aloud yourself since I cannot tell this story to you in person.

To my dearest Sean- (July 19, 2006- the twins were not quite 4 years old yet)

Tonight Ashton picked up a random book off the top of the dresser for you both to share, and for me to read to you before bed. It was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I took off the book jacket (as I always do when I read a book- to protect it, which is silly since the jacket is there to protect the book), and we all snuggled down together in Ashton’s bed. I told you the title and author, which you pronounced perfectly, twice. I know that Shel Silverstein is no longer living, but I didn’t think that it would make you very happy if I shared that information with you, so I didn’t. But I did wonder is Shel ever peeks in to listen to a reading or two of his books or poems, kind of watching over his readers. Just a thought I had. So I started reading and you both were very quiet and attentive- and still for once- you are both very wiggly while I read! Every now and then you or Ashe would say, “and the tree was happy,” or “the tree was sad,” (like after the boy cut down her trunk to made a boat and sailed away). After I turned that page, the boy came back after a really long time as a very old man. The tree said, “I’m sorry, Boy, but I have nothing left to give you- my apples are gone.” And I read in my best squeaky old man voice, “’My teeth are too weak for apples,’ said the boy.” And you repeated, “The apples are all gone.” I continued, “My branches are gone…” and this is when you burst out crying, so sad for the tree! It was an immediate and severe reaction, your mouth open as wide as it would go, as your heart overfilled with immense sadness, and released as your instincts told you to. You cried so hard and so loud, and this made my own tears start- not just because it is a very sad story and I cry every time I read it, but because I felt bad that it made you cry. But more so, I was also crying because I was happy, and so so proud of my little son, who is not yet four years old, because he is compassionate enough to cry for the tree and all that she has sacrificed for the one she loved- that he understands the moral and what is happing in the story. This shows how intelligent you are, and I felt so lucky to share this moment with you and cry together. Ashton had backed away at first because of the anguish emanating from you, but then he started crying because it upset him that we were both crying! So we all held on to each other for dear life until the sobs subsided. Then you told me you didn’t like the “green one,” and that the branches were gone and he made a boat with the trunk (“It’s broken!”), and you wouldn’t let me finish the story to show you that it had a good ending. So I promised I’d take the book downstairs and put it back on the shelf. I love you so much my sweet, compassionate, darling son! I read this book to you a few weeks ago, and while I was sniffling though the end, I guessed you weren’t at that this empathy level yet. I immediately went downstairs to write this letter to you so that I wouldn’t forget the emotions we experienced tonight, so that we could share them together later when you were older. By the time I finished writing, you had quietly crept downstairs, crawled into my lap, and asked me to finish the book.

Love, Mommy