Things Thought and Mostly Unsaid at the End of the Year

A dog went for a walk before the sidewalk set, and left his impression in the wet concrete. A little boy noticed this and etched his initials nearby.
The boy enjoyed the moment, but I wonder what the dog thought.
Among the things I think about on when walking alone at the end of 2013: It would suck to step barefoot into wet cement.

Also…

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Not first, not fast: A case for racing just to finish

By The Tennessean

My friend Andrew and I rode 62 miles Saturday in Nashville’s big annual group ride for cyclists, the Tour de Nash. We started in a parking lot at Vanderbilt, cycled north through Metro Center, east through Inglewood and Shelby Bottoms, took the Greenway all the way to the Percy Priest dam and back, then back across the Korean Vets bridge from East Nashville, north again to the Bicentennial Plaza to Charlotte, to Sylvan Park, to Belle Meade, up through Percy Warner, and back to Vanderbilt with many meandering, pretty excursions along the way.

That is a long ride.

Hilly.

Trafficked.

Scary at the end when a thunderstorm caught us on the last several miles.

Many friends cheered us on; others called us crazy. Why do we do things like this?

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The Small Moments

Centennial Park, Nashville

Four generations in Centennial Park

A screened porch during a thunderstorm.

Turning the music up, and turning it up again.

Pulling the car over to dance in the middle of the street.

Seeing that it’s a letter, not a bill.

When the flowers at the office are for you.

Kissing him the first time and thinking, I will write this down.

Hearing them for the first time and thinking, I will buy the whole album.

Shaving your legs in a river.

Seeing your name in print.

Laughing louder than anyone else in the room.

Crossing a finish line at the end of 13.1 miles.

Ordering a bloody mary in an airport bar.

Bicycling to the top of a very steep hill.

Flinging your shoes off from the middle of the dance floor.

Good lives are often boldest in their smallest moments.

What running does for writing

Sometimes what is right is not always what is rational.

Like tonight, when I ran right up until the minute the gym closed at 9 p.m., I should have driven straight home and eaten dinner.

Ok, I should have eaten dinner before I ran. And preferably something other than cereal or pretzels.

But at 7:45 I was hungry to run, and at 9:01 I was hopped up on endorphins.

So I drove instead. Continue reading

Country Music Marathon supporters: We couldn’t have run without you

Two thumbs up for all those who watched us run Saturday.

This is a thank you to the people who watched us run the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon Saturday.

Bill, when I saw you tuning up on Stage One, before the race even began, I was so happy I nearly jumped up there with you. Later, when I passed you, so full of adrenaline and sugar, I blew kisses at you and all your  band mates.

Jessica, I broke away from the pack and drifted intentionally toward the edge of the street because I knew you’d be at Water Stop One. I wanted to see you, even though I wasn’t ready for water. Continue reading

Advice from a marathon rookie

The starting line at last year's Country Music Marathon.

I run because the endorphins balance my mind and the time outside soothes my spirit. When I haven’t run in a while, I am more easily frustrated and restless. I don’t sleep as well at night, nor do I focus as easily during the day.

It’s ironic, then, that the week before my first big race, I’m not running much at all. I need sleep before a half marathon, right? I need focus. I don’t need crabbiness and frustration, nor do my friends and family! Continue reading

The right moment, right on time

My daughter stumbled upon this robin as it was hatching.

Had we left an hour earlier, we wouldn’t have seen what we saw.

“There’s a bird’s nest in the tree, and there are eggs in the nest, and one of them is cracking open right now!” Lily yelled, running toward her aunt and me.

I looked at Catherine and raised a brow as if to say, “There’s probably a bit of fantasy at play here.”

But we were already jogging, so what the heck. We sprinted toward Lily’s find.

Sure enough, we were right in time to watch a robin being born.

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It’s like these roads were paved just for me

I ran Spencer Creek, even in the snow.

The dark never stopped me from running after work, nor did the cold or snow. I returned home more than once with ice on my eyelashes and wind-whipped tears frozen on my cheeks. But beyond the warmth that spring brings, I’m delighted by the extended daylight. Continue reading

I love you more when I’m running

The dang Kentucky fans were all over town, but Ladonna Bowers needed to get her orange blood pumping. Today’s crisp, breezy weather was perfect for many Nashville runners – including my new friend Ladonna. Despite her allegiance to UT (Kentucky’s rival in today’s SEC Tournament at the Bridgestone Arena) she hit the pavement and soared through the Blue Mist.

A bit later, after UT lost the game, my disappointed husband snapped off the television and tied on his running shoes. He slumped out the front door, but returned home 45 minutes later a better man. It did seem that everyone who makes Nashville Nashville was out there tearing up the road together today. Writer Randy Elrod joined musician Spence Smith for a long run in Franklin. My lovely sister-in-law Catherine was among those projected on the JumboTron at Titans Stadium when she raced across the finish line at today’s Tom King Classic Half Marathon.

While I prefer to run alone, I never feel lonely when I am running. In his book, “Born To Run,” Christopher McDougall makes the point that people who run ultra distances can’t possibly pull off 20, 30, 40-plus-mile runs and *not* get outside their own heads. I am only beginning to add double-digit distances to my routine, but I already know this to be true. I’m definitely caught up in my own crap for the first mile; it hurts, I can’t get my breathing right, etc. I’m often still navel gazing into the second and third miles, too, but it’s more a mental thing than a physical one: “Man, I really wish I’d not said *that* to my mom,” etc.

But by the fifth or sixth mile, I’ve moved on. I’m thinking about you – not me. I’m thinking about my friend who has a hard time saying “goodbye”, my brother-in-law whose injury has him stuck inside, my cousin who is finally pregnant after so much sad waiting. My boss asked me, “Why so much running?” and I knew he would understand when I answered, “Because if you get to eight or ten miles and you are still worried about that stupid thing that happened at work last week, there is something deeply, deeply wrong with you.” It’s like drinking to oblivion, except instead of being hung over when it’s finished, you feel even BETTER.

Even if the wrong team wins.