I got the email that said “Congratulations.”

I started to run, I was rusty (at best) and delusional (daily) and I laid down miles.

Between my highest ever non-pregnant weight (May) (which was only 15 lbs away from my highest pregnant weight) and a few days ago there is a difference of nearly 20 lbs.

I get up between 5a and 5:15 four days a week to run in the dark.  In the rain.  In the (f*cking) fog. I finally understand why so many people hate treadmills.  When I noticed how much I slouched when I got tired I added Tania’s Shred class on Tuesdays so my arms weren’t exclusively decorative.

Everything below my ribs hurts most of the time, but not in an injury sort of way.  My left foot worries me.  My right foot is the bane of my existence and my trusted companion.

I have come to terms with not being a beautiful runner and that has made me love the beautiful ones even more.  There are people in town who recognize me solely because Saturday mornings I lay miles down.  In the heat.  In the sun.  On game days.

Somewhere around 300 rehearsal miles.  I’ve tagged my 50 miles months (there are two now) and will tag my first half marathon and my third 50 mile month on Sunday.

My husband has the support plan for this weekend laid out around him.  On paper the things so similar to what I did for his first half, his second, his first full.  What our family looks like when we run.  I put miles down, we all celebrate what we can do together.  The next weekend will be his – but simpler in many ways.

My plan is a race series of two halves and a full over 53 weeks.  I have the chance to add some fun runs in that support the cause.  When the email said, “Congratulations.” I panicked but in the end this journey has been just what I needed.

I doubt I’ll miss a Tuesday with Tania.  I don’t like taper and expect that recovery will be even less fun.  I’m afraid.  I’m excited.  I don’t want to stop.  I want to run.  Runners run.

I’m trapped in the lure of false symbolism. I like the sound of “the last three miles” and I think it should *stand* for something. It doesn’t. Those miles aren’t the first or the last. They are just miles. 

I want to be wrapped in the hero’s musical crescendo, when the minor chords of the crisis-of-morals moment have smoothed into the inevitable assent into greatness that we all attain in moments. I’m just singing in the car, in the key of Heather which remains largely undefined. 

I want to look you in the eyes and say,”I see you.” When the very best I can hope for is “I see what you are willing to show me through my own filters.”  

Apparently, I am also trapped in the ennui of a 22 year old closet poet (20 years too late). 

Suffice it to say. Today is one day, tomorrow is another, and from there on out we can make it up as we go along. 

For years I have talked to my mom on the way to work.

Last year, around this time, I was taking a new route and in the morning there was this moment where I drove past a cattle ranch.  It was in a basin, often with a mist of fog filling the bowl, and this time of year it was moments after the most lovely parts of pretty sunrises.

I would interupt whatever we were talking about to say, “good morning, cows”

We talked about my new job.

We talked about her workouts.

We talked about my dad, who was dying.


My dad died, and a few months later my route to work changed.  I didn’t see the cows in their fog bowl anymore.  Time passed and things happened.  In July my work route returned and I now drive past the cows again.  The light is changing and it is starting to feel more and more like the days last fall.  The cows are there, the basin filled with fog, conversations with my mom.

Different topics now.


I keep thinking of reasons to go to Illinois.  I really want to see the pumpkin festival this year.  I miss my first in-laws because I didn’t get much of a visit this summer.  It is a pretty time of year up there.  Last year I was there a lot.  Some trips were planned, others were drop-everything, others were for memorials and hugs.  September lacks travel for me – but October is filled up, there isn’t a right time to go up there.  Not this fall.


I’ve been trying to wrap my head around beginning my fundraising for Free to Breathe.  This lung cancer conference was amazing last year, their devotion to young researchers and bringing deep opportunities for involvement for laypeople, caregivers, and survivors is wonderful.  It is an organization pitched perfectly to the way I think about disease and healthcare and what we can be when we work together.


I was sitting outside at the Free to Breathe conference eating a breakfast sandwich, looking at a fountain, and talking to mom on the phone when my heart really understood how close my dad was to dying.


What I can do this year is fundraise and volunteer.  I might ask you to volunteer too, or donate, or hug me when you see me.

There isn’t enough research.

There isn’t enough understanding.

Not everyone “earns” their lung cancer.

I like Dragon*Con, I even like That Guy.

Every year he brings his zealot enthusiasm with him.  He doesn’t care if Han shot first.  He’s not going to cut a b!tch over Marvel vs DC.  If he said Jean Luc Picard was the best starship captain ever nobody would argue, but he’d never say it out loud.

He is as much a pillar at the parade as the water bottle guy.  He has a great spot and he gets there early every year – he isn’t about to miss out on the spectacle.

He is just so damn worried about us.


There are 7,000 PARTICIPANTS in the parade.  The route is 9/10ths of a mile long and is often that deep with people.  Men and women march in body paint and just enough material to not get arrested (everyone has dimpled flesh.  everyone).  The storm troopers of the 501st often wear armor that doesn’t clearly differentiate gender so he can’t even target his megaphone / microphone enhanced shouting.

I will never know if he sees thousands of people routing for the good guy.  Imagining a day when we can be peaceful with each other and with aliens.  I don’t know if he understands the millions of words that were read and watched about justice and kindness and moral correctness.  The monologues about rising up to be a better person.  I doubt it.  That isn’t all we read either, to be sure, but still.

He is so worried about a group of people watching a parade on a beautiful Saturday morning that he never misses it.

I wish he knew we’d be happy to share our joy if he’d just put his sign down and be there with us.

Let’s be honest, the”new year” isn’t every really January 1st, it is the start of school.  Fresh pencils, new schedules, and the opportunity to be the best version of aspirational you – because you have not yet just started to ditch class to watch reruns of Star Trek.  My actual new year also has the new drive at work, my birthday, and my son’s birthday so the rush of Back-To-School comes with cupcakes and all manner of birthday frenzy for both of us.

Over the summer I’ve done a lot of running, and I’ve done a lot of active thinking about what I eat because I was tired of buying bigger pants.  It all came together nicely, I’m on track for August being a 50 mile month, I’ve turned the Marine Corps Marathon into a specific race series that I want to run this year in prep for running in in 2016, I’m signed up for the half-marathon that kicks it off.  I weigh something that feels more comfortable to me.

Now that old twitch of mine has started to show up.  Having identified a number of things that work for me over the summer, spending time and energy to do them, and finding them successful it would be so easy to mic drop the whole thing and go back to the way it was.

Shrug off the running because my foot hurts.

Eat with less thought because “meh”

Stop cross-training.

Decide that it is time to try something new, so instead of doing it as a temporary measure just stop what I AM doing to invest in thinking about a different thing.

Look at a calendar and think “I’m tired” and just sit down.

Skip the sunrises and new successes for futzing on Tumblr.

I’m saying it here and now – I LIKE how the summer went for my exercise and food.  I won’t be a zealot in the next two weeks (or maybe I will if that will keep me on track) but dammit I want these things to make it past Labor Day.  That I WILL be a zealot about wanting to make it through this part of my psyche this time and staying with things that work well for me.

Twelve hours from now we will be back into a new school year – which means that summer is over, before my birthday, and that is just strange.  This summer has been chuck full of blips of vacations and here is where I will try and remember what the hell just happened.

Seattle / Anacortes – The most visceral moment was on a neighborhood beach where I realized just how many carcass crab limbs were around me.  I also enjoyed finally meeting one of Dave’s favorite people after almost 13 years of knowing Dave.  Then there was Seattle City Center and our beautiful hotel which was amazing.  Oh, in a near tie for most visceral moment was cresting a hill in Seattle and having the same chest sensation as every one of my “falling” dreams (roller coaster parking lots are my specialty).

New York – Hedwig (as played by Darren Criss) was amazing.  Running in Central Park was awesome.  Lunch was adequate.  It was a lovely weekend that I needed a lot.  I LOVED getting shoulder checked by some native and just glaring.  It was so good.

Grandma Camp Drop-off – Jeff want to fly unaccompanied minor next year and stay for two weeks, neither of which would surprise me at all.  We got to go to the carnival of my youth with a longtime friend of his, I got to see a longtime favorite of mine in passing and I realized how tiny my town is as I ran every street to get my miles in.  Also, it could use a coat of paint.  Riding in a Tesla was cool, but something I won’t pay for again.  Still deeply grateful and thrilled that Jeff’s friends from LLY were there for him this summer.

Grandma Camp Pick-Up – More running all the streets.  Less time to visit, and the only bit of time I got in Illinois this summer (which was hard for me).  I did see Grammy though, and that makes my world better.

Seeing Samantha – Ok, so that wasn’t really a trip but after not seeing my niece for a long time I got to see her again, along with her new-ish husband.  Although she seemed weary from the month of travel – it was good to see her again.

Cub Scout Camp – We were adopted by people who knew what they were doing and I am so grateful for that.  Also – fucking hell Georgia is hot in July.  Like icky hot.  Also, I am not meant for camping.  Still, Jeff now can use a knife at cub scout things and we both learned a lot.  I did not drink the Kool-aid but I do know where they sell it.

Nephew Visit – The third nephew / niece was able to visit this summer (after being gracious about me putting him off last summer).  A quick overnight to Chattanooga, listening to a Civil War Battlefield park ranger, eating at his first Waffle House.  We made sugar lemons (those two ingredients put together) and that made quite an impression on him.  After wondering for years if they were curious about Uncle John (they were all young when he died) I had kind of stopped wondering if they would ever ask for stories.  I didn’t rehearse them in my head like I had on other trips.  He asked.  It felt good.

Mom in town for Georgia Camp – mom came in to help fill the camp gap here in the home stretch.  It is so good to have her around and Jeff absolutely loves it.  Best part was a 48 hour trip to Tybee Island where mom saw the ocean for the first time. Her adventure spirit is frankly kind of tickling me a bit.

I’m tired and fried.  Dave wishes I was home – ever.  All of these things intertwined between work and runs.  It has been crazy – but it was mine.

I’m still running.

The last few weeks I’ve focused on what I would need to be able to add each week to “Beat The Bridge” at this year’s Marine Corps Marathon.  At mile 20 there is a vehicle bridge that opens back up to cars 4-ish hours after the race starts and it is runners or cars but not both.  The “straggler bus” waits for those who cannot beat the bridge.

I mainly think about it during my long run.  I also do an easy run and that is so short that it mainly just clears the dust from the day instead of moving on towards bigger thoughts.  During the two speed runs every week I’m generally just being pleased.  I really like the Runcoach app and how they have arranged all of this stuff for me.

A couple of long runs ago I realized that I cannot safely train harder than I am right now.  Both my feet are doing different unpleasant things that are manageable right now but I don’t want to worsen.  The school year is 10 days away, the new drive to work is longer, there isn’t time to do the work and recover properly.

I worked on figuring out what I would need to be able to accomplish each week to be ready, and it was too much.  Maybe I would beat the bridge, likely I wouldn’t, and it would be such a force of will event that I’d be too busy to enjoy what all this hard work has produced.

Because I have absolutely loved how this running feels (which I attribute to the fine programmers at Runcoach), even when it sucks (and it does) it also is a slow steady climb towards something wonderful.  I’ve found myself re-tuning the way I eat to fuel runs.  I hydrate because it just feels natural.  It has been a great framework this summer to be more of the person I want to be.

So I meditated on what to do with my entry for MCM (while I ran) and found the idea of converting to 10K just – not it.  I would do fine at that distance and run past all the bits I’m looking forward to but it … just isn’t it.  I never seriously considered just giving up the registration, as gifts from the universe go I’m enjoying this one and want to keep it.  So that left deferment until 2016 – which I did first thing this morning.

It is scary to think of this kind of work for the next 15 months but I suspect that is what it will really take for me to be ready.  In the meantime I’m planning races to give me more experience in the middle.  I’m trying to see how many states I can train or race in while I prepare (I’ve got 4 so far).

There will be a half-marathon right around when MCM happens because that is what I will be more comfortably prepared for.

I am considering trying to run *with* someone once in a while.  I have some more whole body fitness to consider.

When this started I told people “I’m running Marine Corps Marathon” a couple of times and it always felt false.  I switched what I said to “I’m training for …” and that felt better.  I still am training for it, I’m just doing it the long way – which feels right for a long race.

I mentioned before that I don’t typically start things I’m not reasonably sure I can’t accomplish.  So, I’ve been working on getting ready for the Marine Corps Marathon for a couple of months now.  I’ve run farther, and faster, than I ever have in my life.

This morning was something different.

For about a week now the cosmos has pointed at the potential that there are easier ways to achieve some of the emotional high points that MCM might bring (I can transfer to the 10k, a distance I am capable of today), that I am slow for someone who expects to stay away from the sweeper, that I can give my MCM bib to someone else, or say that I’ll do it next year.

Each time I remember that I don’t need to decide today and I keep doing the work.  Still, I would be lying if I pretended that each reminder that the “Exit” is so close, and so easy, didn’t weigh on me a little bit.  Most of the time I’d opt for the 10K and chillax about training – but I’m not doing it now.  I’m doing the work.

Long run today, I’m a slow poke at a short distance but it feels like a proving ground.  If not now, then when… and all that.  The radio played the song “Dumb” (main line, “I feel so dumb.  Duh duh duh dumb. Duh duh duh dumb) and then Britney Spears “Work Bitch” which I knew from Zumba and finally understood the lyrics to.

I got out of my car (I drive into town to run then reward with Dunkin Donuts) and walked a little extra while trying to find a way to start.  No need to think of the route, I have it down pat.  I just need to start.  Start the walk / run timer (no really y’all I’m not speedy, just fucking ready to do the work), and start the course thing and go.

I mainly try to dive into the void when I run, I don’t want to think and I don’t want to plan.  I get neat ideas there but mainly I rest my mind.  It is what I want out of the time:  log miles and stop thinking.  Still, when Siri told me how I was doing I’d take a minute or two to figure out if I was doing ok in the proving ground.  This mile was slower than that one, I’ve gotten a stitch and want to walk more than I have time for…

The penultimate mile is the fastest of all of them – I am surprised.  I have leg for the last mile and I try and use up a lot of it.  I hit stop and I’ve beat the time goal by 4 minutes.  I burst into tears because that is all I can do.  I try and calm down because what I want is to SOB and really, I’m a bit breathless.  I talk to my mom on the way home and cry more.

I want to message my zumba instructor when I get home.  I don’t because even I know that is odd – but when I see her in Target in the afternoon I tell her.  She is lovely and encouraging and as I turn to walk away I start tearing up again.  I’m crying as I type this.

I don’t know what the work is for.  I know why I started, and I know that I don’t need to understand.  I’m just grateful.

I am a creative person.  Oddly so, like I assume everyone is, but after a long time of pretending I was something other than that I’ve decided that calling myself a creative person is ok.

I have not taken time to develop creative skills.  I can dabble in a bunch of ways but focusing in a way to hone a talent is something I never quite get around to – even when I have the time and space to do it.

I am intrigued by creative people.  Especially those who are thriving in the new internet age because it allows them to be really engaged with people who cheer them on.  John Scalzi, Wil Wheaton, Amanda Palmer are big names with large and engaging presences but smaller creatives like Tiffany Ard, and Kim Zoot entice me as well.  Bloggers, musicians, painters, and especially makers make me happy to be around.

It surprises me when people haven’t heard of Kickstarter or Etsy.  That is also a little bit true for Patreon.  These websites allow clear monetary support for the creatives in the world.  Kickstarter does it for up and coming projects, the patron model works differently but supports artists either by “thing” or by month.  I also eyeball micro loan sites like Kiva all the time.

I am mainly a patron.  Not completely a “high-roller and supporter of underlings” version, but dangit if you make an awesome thing I will give you cash because I want you to WIN at doing what you love for money.  When I named this part of myself I got sort of excited.  I really love the idea of being a part of someone else’s victory, I like the idea that I can be where they get a little boost that makes pushing forward a little easier.

Art happens in the creation, to be sure, but the viewing of it is also deeply important for some.  When Amanda Palmer makes a thing, I pay her.  When Roman Mars shows up on Kickstarter I throw money at him.  I own a beautiful camera obscura through kickstarter.  My favorite perfume of all time was a little solid perfume tin with a Doctor Who theme that I can’t get on etsy anymore.  I helped Reading Rainbow get into classrooms.  I’m supporting SciShow in doing great science based videos. I help Wil Wheaton pay for great production on shows that my family enjoys together.

I create stuff because I am nimble minded, but I also create stuff by adding to the tiny spaces in a persons creative mind that DOESN’T have to think about building a resume because they have an order to fill.

The night after we got back from a lovely vacation I cried for a couple hours. It was the leftovers from a number of nearly crying moments during the vacation itself. 

My dad’s birthday is Tuesday. In a different year, I would be tempted to send him photos of us and the things we saw. In my mind I would write notes about what was what. What we learned about naked mole rats from their caregivers, or what the glass blower taught us about the “dime a dozen” Chihuly trained gaffers. I’d talk about how the beaches with a lot of people are amazing, and how the lesser traveled beaches are awash in ghoulish crab legs and horror movie …. things but there is a lot of driftwood that is fun to pile around on. 

I would tell him about our incredible good luck with the weather and how Jeff could not have handled a flight that long a year earlier. I’d talk about driving the Seattle hills that were a physical reincarnation of my “falling” dream. 

I would tell him, because I know only now, what a precious thing it is to have someone who moves through museums at the same pace. I’d thank him for our matching paces. 

I won’t though, and except for the trips that he and I took together I rarely did that sort of wrap up. Last year our May vacation was just beach shots at sunrise – and we didn’t know what we didn’t know. The late July trip included seeing him, with gifts from the Marine museum. By my Pittsburgh conference trip…well, architecture stories were not that amazing anymore. 

I don’t know. Maybe I wouldn’t do any of that, maybe we would just sit next to each other for awhile. 

About six months after my first husband died I went to yoga camp and for a few days, while surrounded by supportive people who made sure I was ok, I went through the biggest of the realizations that my husband was DEAD dead.   I had done a ton of totally competent adult stuff in that six months, but the list of things I wanted to tell him “next time” had gotten far too long to ignore. 

I have a bunch of stories to tell my dad, but nowhere to send the pictures. 


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