Tag Archives: Running

Bring on the (new) bread machine

Well. We’ve managed to destroy yet another bread machine. Here’s the thing. Some people eat cold cereal for breakfast. Some eat eggs. Some eat nothing. I eat cinnamon raisin bread — NOT the store-bought spongy, flaccid stuff — only homemade.

Somewhere in the mid-80s, we purchased our first bread machine. Made by  DAK, it resembled R2D2 and made round loaves. Our two then-preschool-age daughters watched, mesmerized, as the dough mixed, began to rise, and baked. One day, it became off-kilter mid-cycle and walked right off the counter and crashed to the floor. Thus began a long line of bread machines. I forget how many we’ve had because like our toasters and irons — they have short lives.

DakSo…a few months ago, the most recent machine died. Mid-cycle. This was not pleasant. My attempts at completing the baking process were useless. We ended up with a half-baked lump of dough. Still, I loved that particular machine and set about buying another one. I couldn’t find the same model nearby so settled for another. My first clue that it might be a dud was when I noticed the pan didn’t click into place when I set it in the machine. I was sure it was a dud when nothing happened after filling it with flour, cinnamon, oil, honey, salt, water and yeast.

After a few choice words, which my husband appeared to ignore, I kneaded it by hand, let it rise, and baked it in the oven. And…returned the machine to the store.

I know. I should have ordered a new one right away but decided instead that I’d drag out my 30-year-old Cuisinart, mix up the dough, and bake it. That has worked fine when/if time allows, but I’d become accustomed to baking it on the one-hour cycle while I run — thus, having fresh bread whenever we’re out.

photo(17)image(10)So, okay. I give. The trusty Cuisinart didn’t let me down today — odd, when you consider the number of other appliances we’ve seen come and go. Given my tendency toward pessimism, I know it’s not going to last. And yes, I know I can mix it up by hand and bake it. But not while I’m running.

So…that’s it. I give. Bring on the next bread machine. May you live as long as (shhhh…) the Cuisinart and the 30-plus-year-old clothes dryer.

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At 4 to 1, they outnumber me, but they’re still my favorite guys

A friend recently described how her older son teases his little brother. We both remembered our older brothers teasing us — sometimes to the point of tears — but now, years later, we still love them. In fact, we both think of our brothers as friends now and love spending time with them. The teasing? It’s still there, but we’re big girls now and can dish right back. They taught us pretty well.

As the youngest of five children — and the only girl — it was suggested that I was spoiled. This might be true, but if anyone spoiled me, it was the boys.

five kidsApparently, they didn’t object to being dressed in plaid like their baby sister.

They let me climb trees with them, play basketball and baseball with them (except for the time James knocked me out by whacking me in the forehead with a baseball bat), and took me swimming.

Sure, they forced me to take my quarry test despite our mom’s instructions that they wait until Dad was with us. I passed and they were happy that they no longer had to take turns babysitting me in the pool. I, on the other hand, was thrilled to join them on the big slide and to play hide and seek around the rafts.

One of them rescued me from the manure pile and one of them hosed me off. One of them told me stories when he put me to bed when our parents were gone. The two younger ones let me sleep in their trundle bed and taught me to play the cartoon game (our version of “I’m thinking of….”).

Now that we’re older and they live far away — all are at least a nine-hour drive from me — I love staying in touch with them via email, phone and Skype. They make me laugh with funny e-mails and can easily make me feel better when I’m down.

But the hours we spend in each others’ company are the best. Whether we’re walking or running together, fighting over who gets the last cookie, discussing our mom’s health, or cooking together, these are the moments that remind me of what big brothers really mean to me.

older five kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peacefulness of early morning runs marred by thoughts of violence

In 35 years of running, my early morning runs have provided me with much time to think, to pray, to meditate, to plan, to talk (and not just when I have a running partner because who better than oneself to talk to), and to completely lose myself in memories.

Tuesday morning’s run was in many ways like every other run. The early morning quiet was welcome, broken only by birdsong and the occasional car passing by. But the peacefulness of the early hour was marred by conflicting thoughts of sorrow and anger as memories of the horrendous bombing at runnersMonday’s Boston marathon.

As I ran, I reflected on all of the finish lines I’ve crossed, happy in knowing that my family was often waiting to cheer me on. It never once occurred to me that I could be putting them in danger, that there might be someone angry enough at the world that he or she would set off a bomb at a road race.

Even as this thought crossed my mind, a distant rumble of thunder broke into my reverie, sending chills down my spine. It reminded me of the old lady in “Under the Tuscan Sun” who agrees to sell her crumbling villa when a bird defecates on Frances’ head. “Le signe, le signe!”

If that thunder clap was a sign, it was perhaps more a sign that we all need to remember that we Americans aren’t the only ones facing acts of violence every day. Even as the bombs exploded in Boston, there were about 20 separate car bombings in Iraq that killed at least 37 and injured more than 140 people, all in one day.

I’m reminded of a statement by a cousin — “We are not alone in our grief.”  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/world/middleeast/attackers-strike-across-iraq-as-elections-approach.html

In the weeks to come, those early morning runs will serve to remind me of our shared grief the world over. I’m sure I won’t be alone in my thoughts.race

 

 

 

 

Facing winter head on: Increasing the endorphins with a snowy run

Here’s the problem with Ohio winters. They’re completely unpredictable. No, that’s not quite true. They’re predictably unpredictable.

On Monday, I ran in shorts and a t-shirt. Then the temps dropped to sub-freezing, the wind kicked up to 25 plus mph, and the snow followed. Back to the indoor track — for which I am ever-so-grateful. But today is Saturday, which means long-run day, and my body craved the outdoors. So I layered up, Velcro‘d on the Extreme Masque…IMG_0371[1]

…strapped on the YaktraxIMG_0372[1]

…and headed out. Toward the end of eight miles, I rounded the National Quarry on one of my favorite trails. My iTouch was on its last few minutes of battery power, so I turned on the video camera. This is for my friend, Debbie, whose heart is in ski and hiking country, but current home is in the city. This’ll probably make her even more homesick for her hometown.
Unfortunately, the battery died just before I reached my favorite rocks that overlook the water. And despite my footfalls and breathing, you get the idea of the peaceful feeling of this location.

A goal for 2013: Work toward the common good. Care…love…

Last year as we approached New Year‘s Eve, a friend challenged us to determine what percentage of resolutions we’d managed to meet. I had a hard time with that one since I was pretty sure I hadn’t made any.

Here’s the thing: Why set oneself up for failure? Too many people focus their resolutions on thing like weight loss and we know how that usually ends up.

So instead last year, I decided to play along by listing three goals IF I were one to make resolutions. One was to track my running mileage, which I did successfully through April 15 — about 350 miles (some of that was walking.) After April 15…the journal pages are blank. Since I’m pretty regular in my mileage, I probably hit around 1,000 this year.

The second goal was to eat more dark chocolate. That I did. Oh so successfully. I don’t want to know how much money I spent on Endangered Species 88% cocoa dark chocolate. Just ask the staff at The Food Store in Bluffton, where I stock up on these:panther_pouch__05433_std

 

 

Each pouch contains 10 individually wrapped squares — a good way to control how much you eat.

The third goal was to write real letters. Sadly, this didn’t happen although I did a better job at sending cards.

So…for the record…I was 33.3333333333 percent successful at tracking mileage; 100 percent on eating more chocolate, and a flop at writing letters.

This semi-success did not convince me to make a practice of making  resolutions. Instead, this year I want to focus less on the “me” result of resolutions and more on doing things that impact and encourage others.

With a nod to Jim Wallis, the president and CEO of Sojourners and author of forthcoming book, On God‘s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good, it makes sense to focus on the age-old concept of the common good.

To quote Wallis, “Work toward the common good. Care about those around you. Love.”

Duck, duck, goose

My early morning runs along the local bike path take me past two quarries and usually involves sightings of ducks, geese, a heron, and — on very rare occasions — a bald eagle.

The ducks that hang out at the Buckeye quarry often sleep curled up in the grass near the bike path, and their close proximity sometimes distracts me from running. It’s impossible for me to pass up the chance to try to make friends with the cute little guys and girls?

With spring comes the extra fun of watching for baby ducklings and goslings. This morning I watched mama and papa goose shepherd their four little goslings across the grass. One little guy kept lagging behind and then had to run to catch up. I managed to take a photo of part of the family.

Later, as I was heading out on my bike through our back yard, I saw three male ducks wandering through our yard. I actually saw one of them sitting in our tiny fish pond (just big enough to hold one duck at a time) but when he saw me, he hopped right out and waddled off after his buddies.

Because a creek runs along the back of our property, ducks have become fairly regular visitors to our neighborhood. I suppose some homeowners might not appreciate them — especially their droppings — but hey, who can complain about such entertaining and beautiful birds?

Navigating the slopes of Cincinnati on foot

A few years ago, I decided to run a mini-marathon near Cincinnati — 10 miles on a “flat, fast course.” That phrase alone should have made me skeptical, but silly me….a pure-bred Northwest Ohio runner defines flat as in pancake. No hills.

About halfway through the third mile, it occurred to me that flat was a relative term. If one lives in Cincinnati, a “flat” race course in Mason could certainly be considered flat since Mason doesn’t sport the steep hills of downtown Cincy.

But as the race went on, it became more apparent that I’d been naive to believe that first hill would be the worst. By the end of the race, I swore I’d never run in Cincinnati again.

But oh, how time dulls the memory. So when my daughter suggested we go for a run on a balmy late January morning, I jumped at the chance to explore a new neighborhood. As we approached an intersection, I asked which way we were turning.

She snickered and said, “Well, we won’t be turning right.”  Curious, I looked right — I swear the road went straight up. In reality, it was certainly steep, but not quite the equivalent of Cincy’s Clyde Street, which rises at a 30 degree slope.

Steep Clyde Street

 

The rest of the run continued in gradual ups and downs, which can be almost as bad as a straight-up hill. You don’t realize you’re running uphill until you’re nearly out of breath, thighs aching.

But as is usually the case of running in a new locale, it was a route of surprises. Along the way, we passed my cousin’s studio, and later, her house. A short while later, I admitted I had no idea where we were. I wasn’t worried until daughter number 2 admitted she too wasn’t sure of our location.

But down another hill, and across a street, and she suddenly recognized her surroundings. Phew.

In retrospect, it was a good run. We had a great conversation, discovered a new bakery, and conquered a few hills. And it was 62 degrees, sunny, and we had worked up a good sweat outdoors in late January.

And there appeared a duo of Wise angel men

According to Luke 2, a Heavenly host of angels appeared on Christmas Eve. Well, technically, no one is sure of what time they appeared. But they did. And then, of course, along came the three Wise Men.

Okay, so today — Christmas Eve — two, well, let’s just call them Wise angel men, appeared at Bluffton Family Rec center, as I was running around the track. Anyone who uses the track on a regular basis knows that there are more holes than pegs in the two coat racks hanging on the walls. This becomes a bit of a problem in the winter when everyone shucks off their outerwear.

So in walked these two, heads bent over a bag of something. One pulled out a tube of glue, while the other pulled out a wooden peg. One smeared some glue on the peg and the other shoved the peg into the hole. Apparently, they’d forgotten a hammer, so looked through the box of “lost items” and came up with a heavy boot with which they proceeded to pound in the peg.

This continued for the next 10 minutes as they replaced about 10 pegs. That task done, they grinned at each other and took off on their usual trek around the track. And when they were done, as they were leaving the building, they cheerfully wished others a Merry Christmas.

Now, I’m not one to tell tales out of school, and I suspect these two hoped to remain anonymous. In fact, according to the daughter of one of the men (she happened to show up to run just after they finished), “it was probably driving them nuts.”

But let’s just say that these two both live on South Main Street, close to the Dari Freeze, graduated from Bluffton High School in the mid-60s, and are related by marriage. They call each other Tom and Sam.

Merry Christmas Eve!

Catching up..and staying up…with “the boys”

Since my four brothers each live at least 500 miles away, it is rare that I actually get to run with them. And usually when I do run with them, I’m slightly out-of-breath, pushing myself a little harder, trying to keep up with them. Seems I’ve been doing that all my life…from our childhood days of basketball rounds of Horse and neighborhood kickball games. Always catching up.

So when it appeared two of “the boys” would be here on the day of the Pandora Jingle Jog, I suggested we run it together. One of them — the oldest and a resident of Tucson — grudgingly agreed, reminding me that the predicted temp for that day was 12 degrees. The other one — the third oldest and a resident of Natural Bridge, VA — was still in recovery from an ultra that he’d run the weekend before, said “Only if we run slow.”

They arrived with more running apparel than regular clothing, but still griping about the cold. Still, they were game for the 5K run. On the way to the race, we discussed strategy and agreed to run together. Actually, I think they asked — again — if I would run slow. What did they think? That just because I’m younger, I’m suddenly faster?

We warmed up and I listened to them discussing which way the wind would be blowing when we started out and finished. Running into the wind at the start is a lot better than at the end. At least on a cold day. For me, ice was the bigger concern, but I figured if I went down, they were going first. I didn’t intend to land on pavement.

Off we went with about 60 other brave (or stupid — depending on your perspective) souls. James and I, running side by side, peered behind us at Phil, who was grinning. A distance bicyclist at heart, he was — of course — drafting already. Always a wise guy.

The next 3.1 miles went pretty much like that — a trio of revolving drafters. Toward the end, I began to feel myself slowing…my breathing was off. They were five steps ahead of me when I heard “Where’s Mary”? Magic words. That always forces me to catch up, which I did. Phil, me, James

We finished together, holding hands. I’m sure we looked pretty stupid, but hey, who cares? It was fun and for once, I stayed with them. We ended up with age group ribbons — they tied for second place — it was a first time they fell into the same age group. A first for me since there are always fewer women in my age group…not that I’m that fast.

But the best part was stopping in to see our mom afterward and giving her James’ door prize — a Christmas pillow with a photo insert. In it is a photo of her five kids.

Doc says stop running; feet say “WHAT”?

Runners are a strange breed. This I know for sure. I’ve been one for more than 30 years. Most people eye us with distrust, give us nasty looks as if we’ve ruined their day by just being there. Oddly, there are those who try to run us off the road. I’ve never understood this animosity.

For example, it was a frigid, snowy day. A day when no vehicles should be on the road. Feet are okay, if they’re clad in spikes. So there I was heading south on Main Street/Dixie Highway toward the bowling alley, my turnaround. A large truck approached me from the south. A dad and son. No seatbelts from my visual. But hey, if they want to take chances. I raised my hand to wave, when the driver raised his own hand in an angry fist-waving rampage. Ummmm…okay. Gee, did I do something wrong? I puzzled over that one all day.

So anyway, running. It’s been my thing since sophomore year of college. The first time I tried, one college roommate convinced the other two of us to trot around the old cinder track behind Hirschy Hall on the Bluffton College (excuse me, University) campus. My memory is that Emily informed Vicki and I that we would slowly traverse a lap at a time. When I developed a sideache, Em, the veteran, told me to run bent over. I’m sure this looked pretty stupid, but fortunately it was dark.

That was it until about six months later when I decided to try again. Somehow it got easier and I discovered it was kind of fun. Over the years, it became habit. From somewhere within me, a competitive urge popped up and I began races. I actually won a few. In fact, I’d have won one more except they somehow registered me as male. I actually got the trophy 20 years later. I don’t know if it took that long to compute, or if Dick Boehr just felt sorry for me and had one specially designed.

So…here it is almost 34 years later. Miles and miles behind me. Assorted injuries, temporary layoffs (i.e. two pregnancies and one knee surgery, two sacral stress fractures)…and even a few months of thinking I’d never run again. But oh…minutes at a time, we idiots build back up to some semblance of running.

So recently, thanks to an ongoing health problem, my doc looks at me suspiciously and says, “Are you still running.” Guiltily, I peek at my husband, who is glaring at me. Ulp. “Um…yesterday.” How far, says he, the expert? Um….3? How fast? Um…oh about, 28-29 minutes, maybe.

Stop now — you can start again when you’re stronger. Okay, this is not the order I wanted to hear. I wanted to think I could keep up my usual routine — that piece of me that has become as natural as brushing my teeth. But okay, for the sake of saving my energy for some tough times, I agree. Walk, he says. That’s okay.

The next day I find myself enjoying an early morning walk with a friend, who says she is more of a walker than a runner these days. In fact, she explains to me why runners don’t want to be known as walkers. There’s something, she says, about being known as a “runner”. It sets us apart, lets us continue to be the oddballs we like to be. It also allows us to eat just about anything we want…well, at least those who don’t have genetically high cholesterol.

As my walking feet fight my running brain, I remind myself that I’m doing this for a good reason. It’s all about energy. Saving it. Somehow, though, my brain hasn’t quite accepted that. It will. Someday. I hope.