Marine Drive Bike Path

At the end of gorgeous October, a friend and I took our youngest children out to the Marine Drive Bike Path, where you can ride bikes along the river separated from the traffic on Marine Drive.  Okay, so we were skating—- as in roller-blading.  My friend dug her 1990’s skates out of the basement and we hit the trail old-school, with our kids riding their little scoot bikes.

IMG_7467This trail has existed for quite some time, but there is a new parking lot and beach access at the beginning, right off of NE 33rd.  (Essentially, take 33rd as far north as you can.  Just before you plunge into the Columbia, you will see a really nice parking lot, volleyball nets, beach that was probably made by a big machine).  For hardy skaters or tough little kids, you can take the trail 4 + miles to Cascade Station, that weirdo collection of shops and restaurants sitting in what used to be a big wetlands near the airport.  This had been our plan (and frozen yogurt was involved), but we didn’t make it.  The sand and beach glass were too alluring.


Jingle Run & Runs to Come

I think I had bloviated recently about my commitment to early morning running and how awesome it makes me feel (about myself).  I hadn’t mentioned it much here (because it is boring really— I wake up really early and then I run.  Then I drink coffee at the cafe that opens the earliest and return to the house and no one is awake yet.  ZZZZZZZZ…)  Anyway, along with meeting people to run at 5:30am, I had an even worse idea— I thought I might run a half marathon.

Real fans (of me) will remember that I did run a marathon in 2000.  I did even worse than Paul Ryan, but I actually told the TRUTH about my time (5:22.  That is HOURS), and felt proud of my modest accomplishment.  I am in this world for the long haul, not the fast haul.  Anyway, I’ve run the big miles, but never done a shorter jaunt where you might be expected to actually, you know, RUN, the whole thing.  I was worried about this concept.  After all, I’m nearly 40 now.  I have had three children.  When I need to sneeze, I have to stop walking and concentrate really hard or something might become dislodged from my body.  Let’s just say, things is different now.

But my goofball friends are are cheery, hopeful types, who believe that you can do stuff.  That is part of why they are up at 5:30 in the morning.  They are ready to believe and apparently you have to wake up really early to do that.

So we are heading out on Sunday morning at the much more reasonable hour of 8am to go run the Portland Holiday Half Marathon.  I’ve been running diligently all year and adding long runs in on weekends all fall.  Most of those runs have been up in Forest Park, which, like a barista or the cheese person at the fancy grocery store, has been a joy to get to know.  Unlike my training runs up on Leif Erickson trail, this 13.2 mile course will ramble from North Portland into St Johns and back, which means it will be flat.  The funny thing about this whole endeavor is that my thinking has really changed during the course of training.  During the first bit, I didn’t expect to be able to go much beyond 4 miles without my knees hurting me.  I worried a lot about being able to keep up, about getting tired out and exhausted, about the training getting in the way of my responsibilities.  Now I can pound out the miles with little disruption.  8 miles on the weekend felt easy, and I am able to rejoin my family life fairly comfortably even after pushing my body hard for short periods of time.

So wish me luck!

Photo at the top is of the Jingle Bell Run on December 2nd to benefit arthritis research.  I did this 5K with Francis and my nephew Jonah.  My friend Erica ran with her son Elliot and her nephew.  We both did a 1K (“Run with the Elves”!) right before with the other little kids, so what you are seeing in this photo is a lean, mean, running posse.  They look like little kids, but that is just their cover.

I am a Sporty-Puss

So I’ve been running an awful lot lately.  After tapping out my insurance last winter on physical therapy that left me feeling only vaguely better, I figured out that running and walking and an occasional massage improve my back and neck pain much more than a huge copay.  Who knew?  With the help of some friends I am hitting the road twice a week for runs, and once or twice a week for fast walks.  Add that to my drill master duties at Zephyr’s soccer, and I am getting out and being active pretty often.

I’m not exercising to lose weight.  I have never lost weight purposely in my life,( I feel like I should say, “And I don’t intend to start”, but that’s silly).  Because I can’t or won’t diet I know that I need to maintain consistency in my movement and food choices.  To that end, I have two small rules to live by: DO SOMETHING ACTIVE EVERY DAY and NO POTATO CHIPS IN THE HOUSE!  The flip side of that is KEEP CHOCOLATE IN THE HOUSE AT ALL TIMES.

I have found that my body needs a certain level of physical activity to be happy.  Like a dog, I need to be run a bit each day before I really feel relaxed and calm.  And there are some jobs that I will always love like pulling weeds, mucking out the chicken coop or hauling firewood.  I wish that I were the type of person who just had an active day without  having to do anything consciously.  Conscious work seems hard.  Exercise seems dumb.  Why can’t I be a farmer or a land surveyor?  A peasant in China in the 50s—that was fun, right?*   I can’t help but continue to feel that going out and actually TRYING to exercise seems stupid.  It is indicative of where our culture has come that we need to plan to get the exercise our body needs.  It seems even worse that we city people need to GO somewhere to get exercise.

The only problem with this whole exercise thing is that in order for it to fit nicely into my day, I need to wake up at 5 and 6am.  Ouch!  I love to sleep, but more than that, I love my freedom.  Freedom, for a mom, seems to only occur before 7am and after 7pm, and after 7pm I am just too tired.  So 5am it is.  Luckily I have 5 really great women from church who are also rolling out of bed to meet up with me.  When it seems too awful, I have their smiling faces, interesting conversation and maybe a quick cup of coffee afterwards to look forward to.

Of course, the best thing about running really, really early is the deep sense of enjoyment that I get sitting on my ass the rest of the day.  This is living!

*  That was a joke.  I just finished a book about communes in China and famine during the Great Leap Forward, so I am thinking about Chairman Mao these days.  And it does not seem like it was that great.