Showing posts from December, 2011

The special guest

It had not happened since, well, I can't remember when. My three brothers, wives and kids all converged on our Mother's condo this week, celebrating a belated Christmas and early New Year. We could smell the dinner she prepared as soon as we got off the elevator, reminiscent of days walking through the kitchen door at our childhood home. The aroma foreshadowed great things to come, erasing the taxing seven-hour drive through heavy rain. The condo, a comfortable two-bedroom, one-and-a-half bath on the fourth floor began to bulge as fifteen people filed in. The normally quiet abode was anything but. Voices rang out in greeting, laughter swelled, plates clattered, and glasses clinked when filled with ice water. Mother's table, brought from her home of fifty years, grew for the occasion with the extra leaves inserted. Still, a card table provided additional spots. The four male cousins needed no convincing to claim that precious piece of real estate. When all was prepared,

A reason to celebrate

"It's the most wonderful time of the year. . ." On the way home from a last minute shopping trip, I couldn't help but sing it loud and strong when the song came on the radio. With guests soon to arrive it dawned on me that Christmas was nearly here. There was no more rushing around, no more gifts to buy, no more house to clean. It was time to revel in family and friends and celebrate the birth of the Baby Jesus. It's easy to get caught up in the season. With chestnuts roasting on an open fire and sleigh bells jingling in the snow (well, maybe not this year with temps in the 50's), warm and fuzzies wash over the soul. Candlelight Christmas Eve services make the world stop spinning in silent reverence. All is well. And then reality comes knocking. All those pent up emotions slowly leach away. The mail box is filled with bills rather than beautiful cards.The world doesn't seem as bright and the body not so light after all those sweets. Decorations car

The dark side of the Hellgate moon

12:01 a.m. Full moon rising. Mountains awash in the silver light. Shuffle through leaves. Splash across creeks. The rhythmic cadence of gravel crunching under foot. Thoughts crowd the mind. Other times, no thoughts come to mind. Eat. Drink. Be patient. Have no patience. Make decisions. Pray. Unmake decisions. Slog up the next mountain. Run down the other side. It's relentless forward motion toward a finish line. I was running my ninth Hellgate 100K sick and tired-literally. Seldom ill, a cold of uncommon proportions left me weak, eyes watering, diminished hearing, and unable to breath through my nose. That, along with general undertraining, did not bode well for another success story at this devilish race. But I had two non-negotiable jobs. I needed to start and I needed to finish. It was not going to be easy. My long-time nemesis, sleep, repeatedly beckoned. I first heard her siren call at the long, lonely climb beginning at mile ten. I tried to fight her off taking in the

Hellgate. Here I come--again.

I have a deep love-hate relationship with Hellgate . It's hellish 66.6 miles (yes, by multiple GPS measurements) bids heavy portions of gloom and doom. The peculiar midnight start, stream crossings in the early miles, huge climbs and sweeping descents, frigid air and wind-swept mountaintops challenges even the most seasoned runner. But, Hellgate also beckons in her siren voice. "Come to me. Embrace the night, the solitude. See the moon beams dance across open fields. Hear the rustle of fallen leaves. Watch your warm breath meet the night air in a rhythmic release of mist clouds. Stand still, if only for a moment, and listen. Listen to a quiet, sleeping world. Then, be thankful and run on." I have started each of the eight races. This year will be the nineth. All but once, I have found the finish line. Some years I ran swiftly. I slogged through others. I have more finishes than any other woman. But I still can't predict what will happen this year. I am promised a