Lose My Breath - Destiny's Child

I'm a Holistic Health Coach. I am not a personal trainer. I am not an athlete. I'm not ripped. I'm not flexible. I am not  gifted or graceful or talented in a physical venue. My body does not lend itself generously to a sweaty undertaking. You can see that from reading the journey of my 2010 marathon. Kind of a shit show, really. But a WONDEROUS shit show. I loved it. I transformed. I wouldn't change it for the world. But would I spend my weekends running 16 -20 miles again? Would I get hooked like I did on tattoos and travel the world running different courses and collecting ribbons and badges to hang all over a small room in a house that smelled vaguely of sweat and the grace of a beautiful gait? 

Fuck, no.

I'M NOT GOOD AT RUNNING. People think I'm being a little hard on myself or not giving myself credit, but I can assure you that giving myself credit is something I've made some progress at. So is accepting myself how I am and guess what? At this point I have watch so many exquisite runners, so many human who are really born to move in this particular way, and I, as it turns out, am quite a ways away from that particular set of gifts. And that's fine. 

What I have going for me is that I don't stop. I go slow and it's awkward and unsightly and not really admirable in its form. (What form?) But I keep going. I'll go on and on. My legs get on the bus of Confucius who says, "It does not matter how slowly you go, only that you do not stop." And I like that about myself. It was a fabulous thing to learn because frankly, I thought I was lazy. For decades I thought that. But I was wrong. I can stick with a thing if my approach is kind, reasonable, honest. And sticking with a thing I'm terrible at has been one of the single most transformative things I've ever done. 

But this is bullshit, man. 

Since the marathon, I've moved my running mostly indoors to the gym. In fact, since my body was so screwed by that distance, I moved it onto the elliptical machine mostly to get my exercise. On vacations I'll hit the road and go outside to run still, but the process is so arduous and difficult. It's a very different feeling to be alone with the body then on an oiled machine with a constant stream of ESPN sports news in my ears. I run outside alone and quietly, no headphones or friends or running companions. Just me and my body, my chatty little brain on a hamster wheel and my daily anxieties pulling my shoulders up to my ears. But this week I decided to ease myself toward the treadmill more, build back some strength, and then move back out onto the road some. I set a goal and got started.

Sometimes my plans are kind of fakakta. I just pick something and begin there because it turns out that trying to find the perfect place to start often leaves me on a couch for years at a time. So I just pick a place. I picked 6 miles an hour. I thought I'd go for 10 minutes. Now, this is a pace I would describe as on the average team. The slower side of average actually. Not so notable. A ten minute mile. Now, like I told you, I'm not really average and I'd would work my long runs at about 12 minute miles. I just settled in and kept going. People can walk faster than I ran. But I didn't care. I just wanted to finish. But this time I thought since I only have to run 6 mile stretches and not some ungodly length of time, maybe I can try to be average. So I set the thingy to 6.0 and began. Also adding to my bad planning is that I did this after I had already been on the elliptical and two kinds of bikes for a combined total of 80 minutes, so I was already drenched when I arrived. 

I lasted 6 minutes at 6.0. Not ten. Not 6 miles. Not an hour. 6 little minutes.

So. Here we go, people. I'm at the foot of Bullshit Mt. and I'm ready to rock this thing, one gawky minute at a time.

Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People

My friend Michael asked me if I knew what Hood to Coast was. I thought it was a typo. What the hell could that mean, Hood to Coast? Is it a hoodie convention on the beach? 


It referred to Mt. Hood, the big snowcapped beauty I would stare at when I lived in Portland 19 years ago. NINETEEN FRIGGIN YEARS!! I was just out of college, lost and found on the Rose City streets. Elliott Smith played secret solo shows in sad bars while his rock band Heatmiser rocked in clubs. Team Dresch began in a basement of a house called The Curse where only girls were allowed. Even the wonderful drummer, Scotty Plouf of Built to Spill,  sitting in until they got Marci Marinez to play had to leave after the set. We did self defense exercises between bands and tugged our arm warmers up that we made from tube socks. The Space Room made the best Bloody Marys in town and I stayed up all night with my new dyke badge of honor and hefty lines of my new friend crystal meth. I had no idea then all the people we would lose, all the women I would love, and that I would ever really break up with my true love of defensiveness: cigarettes. Mt Hood watched over all of us, dragging our hearts around Smith's alphabet town, some lugging black tar heroin, some with the dirty speed on their back, an itchy monkey with a burn, and some just dying from the lack of light. But we'd all look up and trace the snow paths down the big rock, tears spilling down the sky in the distance, and we'd wonder, What Happens Next, World, and who can we tell about the pounding in our chests?

Next August I'll return to Oregon for this race. It's the world's biggest relay. 12 of us will arrive, some of us strangers, some old friends, some even siblings, with 2 vans, chests full of snacks, and 199 miles in front of us. Over the course of 36 hours, we will take turns running legs of approximately 6 miles each, 3 times over. That's 18 miles in 36 hours. That last leg will be a real bitch. At the end, through night and gravel and farmland and heat and more mountains and Portland, we'll all arrive together and look at the wide ocean, me looking at all that salt, back over and over 20 years. I will be 43 by then, my wild grey Leo mane tied up and bopping through the Oregon terrain: no cigarrettes, no crystal meth, no lunatic girlfriends, and with any luck at all, no excruciating pain this time round. 

Come with me. I started training this week. It's hilarious already.