Thursday, December 20, 2012

Ode to Bananas

Since this is supposed to be a running blog and since Christmas is only a few days away, I thought I'd talk about bananas.  This post has been brewing in my head for quite a while and it's time it got out.

Bananas.  I genuinely appreciate them.  And after much thought, I have deemed them My Favorite Fruit.  Really? .... you say.  How boring is that?! 

The criteria for this honor goes beyond taste.  I fully agree that one can be momentarily distracted by a sweet June strawberry or ..... (be still my heart) ... pineapple..... (reverent pause) ....  or a fresh peach .... oh, and need I mention ..... apricots?  LOVE.THEM.ALL.

But bananas offer more than that.  They are reliable.

How many times have you perused the produce section, hovering around the apples and wondering .... which type will be good THIS week?

Fujis?  Braeburns?  Jonagolds used to be my choice .... but that was years ago and they just don't seem the same anymore.  How about Granny Smiths?  Too tart.  I did eat a delicious Gala recently.  And those Honey Crisps are amazing .... but the price!  My old Fall Back is the Golden Delicious.  I can usually count on it, emphasizing the word usually.  GDs, in my humble opinion, are the safest to use in pies and dumplings, and their mild flavor works well in my favorite Waldorf salad.

Then there's the citrus season, which some mistakenly think is Christmas.  Oh no.  Too soon.  Wait a month or two and they'll be sweeter ..... that is, if we're all talking about oranges.  But you never really KNOW, until that first bite.  However, grapefruit is usually fine from the get-go but that may have something to do with the sugar I dump on them.  (Don't even TRY to talk me out of my sugar.)

Grapes are another God-sourced gift to humanity ..... but which color is best THIS week?  Green?  Red?  Can I, with a clear conscience, sample one at the store?  Or would that be stealing?  And I refuse to buy them at over a dollar a pound.

And in the Pacific Northwest, we have Blackberry Season.  I recently asked a 19 year old transplant from Arizona what he thought about them.  His hushed response:  "Duuuude".   There's nothing like Nature's generous road-side snack during a run.  But only in August.  Then it's gone and the bushes return to being noxious and invasive weeds.

Hence, the banana.  It's always there.  The price is generally consistent.  And you always know,  by the color, how it'll taste.  Green, yellow or black-ish .....  You never bite into one and think ... too sour, or pithy, or too dry ....  you know, with confidence, that if it's yellow and firm, it'll be good.  It'll be as a banana is meant to be.  You don't have to tap on it like a watermelon .... (does that really work?)  You don't have to squeeze or sort.  You never have to guess.  You just know.  There aren't a million varieties to muddle the choice and they are NEVER wormy.

I might also mention that they are a great source of potassium .... a personal necessity, because my legs love to torment me with cramps and restlessness.

As I am typing this, there is a banana peel next to my laptop.  As there often is, each morning.  If I wake in the night hungry, I always head for a banana.  I keep a supply frozen and ready for smoothies.  Although I'm not terribly keen on banana bread, my homemade-from-scratch banana cream pies are legendary.  And the thought of a fresh banana milkshake has been known to pull me across several lanes of traffic, directly to a Dairy Queen drive-through window.

I like predictability.  I like being able to count on things.  Unlike the volatility of the weather, or the economy, or my bathroom scales, I like the security of knowing a banana will always taste like a .... banana.

However, it's important to note:  Bananas don't store well left in a backpack, weeks after the hike.  Just ask Husband who tends to leave them there ..... or ask ME, who tends to find them.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Road trip!

I love road trips.  They involve hours of time next to the Husband, with eating out and hopefully .... conversation.  We love to talk, but after 37 years of marriage, we have covered most, if not all, topics.  So when one of us happens upon a new topic like a found treasure, we tuck it away for whatever upcoming road trip we might have planned.  Then one of us announces we have something about which to talk, which is akin to saying -- I just bought you a present -- and then we both settle in for an enjoyable 30 minutes or so.  When or if either of us (usually him) has been with, or talked to, a third party who might happen to be an Interesting Person .... the other one (usually me) is full of questions.

"So, why did ________ call?"

"And then what did he/she say?"

"And what'd you say?"


If any of this sounds the least bit ...... pathetic ....... it's okay.  We like it.  It keeps the relationship humming along.

So yesterday was my birthday and hence, I got to choose the day's activity.  And I chose a road trip.  Just for the day.  Not an over-nighter .... I like to sleep in my own bed.  And, as I said, it was my birthday.

And what does this have to do with running?  Our mission was to scout out the route of a relay that I am interested in doing with my kids next summer.  I learned about this relay from an alert, semi-running friend who is thinking of doing the same with her own kids.  It's a one-day relay, 60-some miles, ending at the coastal town of Newport, Oregon ..... WHICH, if you have a keen memory, you'll remember that it was where I ran my marathon a year and a half ago.  The route of this relay finishes on the same road.  How cool is that?!

I don't usually scout out relay routes in advance, but this one involves a lot of gravel roads which raised a red flag.  I don't like to run on gravel.  Plus add in several hundred vans necessary to the functioning of relays, and you have dust.  Lots of dust.  I wanted to SEE these gravel roads and decide if they are tolerable.

So off we went.  And yes, there was conversation.  And food.  And a whole day together.  However, an hour and a half of driving to the start of this relay and several miles into it, we discovered a washed-out bridge and an impassible road.  The facebook page of this relay mentioned this wee problem, but one would think they'd have the updated 2013 route (which is the same as the 2012 route) posted on their website.  They didn't.  So most of the route will, by necessity, remain a mystery until next July.

Another bridge that wasn't washed out.
 (Too bad this shot doesn't show my cool new boots.)  
But we drove on to Newport anyway, via the main highway, and Husband got to listen to me relive my marathon as we revisited that memorable stretch of road ......

"THIS was the Mile 15 turn-around spot ..... I don't remember this part ..... wow, it seems so far! ..... I don't remember this part either .... HERE's where I was cursing the stupid bridge that refused to appear in the distance to tell me I was getting close to the end ..... and HERE was where a girl/angel stood by the road with a water hose to spritz us in the heat ..... and HERE was where I couldn't run anymore because of leg cramps and where you ran out to meet me ..... and that last hill ..... and the finish line!!"

 ........  Wow.  MY finish line ..... where everything melted into relief and triumph and joy that I NEVER have to do that again.

The weather yesterday was awful.  Rainy.  Windy.  And the daylight ended before Husband could capture a few photos of the raging gray surf.  And we ate WAY too much at the restaurant on the return home .... because they served mudpie which is one of my favorite desserts and it WAS my birthday ..... but now I'm a little concerned about the weight limit of the bridge in the photo ... assuming we'll be crossing it next summer.

So, in spite of a failed scouting mission, we think the relay will go on our calendar.  And in spite of my advancing OLD AGE, having weathered another year, I will give it a go.  And it will provide another topic of happy conversation with the Husband ..... on our next road trip.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hoka What-What??

I have new shoes.  They aren't Adidas, Mizunos, Nikes, or any other of those impressively macho brand names.  They are Hoka One Ones.  There MUST be a story to that name, but I don't have a clue.  In several years of Runner's World magazine, I've never seen them mentioned.

Favorite First DIL (daughter-in-law, for those of you who have yet to enter the world of communicating in initials) first mentioned these shoes, which she learned about from someone in her town "who knows".  Google helpfully produced a picture and I was intrigued.  They looked cushy.  I LOVE cushy.  None of that minimalist stuff for me.  I'd strap pillows under my feet if they didn't create drag.  But the nearest dealer was in Renton, Washington, a good three or more hours away.

So weeks later, on a trip north to Seattle, Patient Husband kindly detoured us through Renton.  Just to try a pair on.  That way I could know if I like them and check sizes in case I decide to order a pair online.  I really didn't intend to buy anything.  Husband dropped me off and left to check out a nearby electronics store.  Well, they had a few pairs on sale -- last season's I guess .... in what I thought was my size.  What else can you do, when they are reduced $65?  I bought the shoes.

When Husband saw them, he subtly and discreetly noted their gargantuan size.

"They're HUGE!!" he blurted.

Hmmm ..... well, yes ...... he was right.  But they're size 10 and my old Asics were 10.5.  At this point, my Inner Vanity now demands that we're all perfectly clear that I don't have big feet.  I'm willing to repeat that if necessary.  In other shoes, I wear 8.5, a size so normal it's boring ..... but over the years, having destroyed more toenails than I can count, my running shoe size has grown.  And Hoka One Ones seem to run large anyway, in addition to being quite wide and boxy.  So it is descriptively accurate to say that I now run in ......

clown shoes.

CUSHY clown shoes.   I can run over rocks and hardly feel them.  They ALMOST rank the AWE factor of my Tempur-Pedic mattress ...... almost.  (And not much in this world compares to my bed.)

So look out Fashion Police.  Go ahead and laugh.  I don't care ..... much ..... well, except that same Inner Vanity is now threatening to revolt.  But at least my feet are happy and my toenails may survive the year.


P.S.  For Susette, since she asked.

Considering the state of my hair this morning, this is all you get in this shot.

Update!  I have since learned that they are pronounced Hoka Onay Onay.  It's from the Maori language, and means "Time to fly"!  Gotta love that!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Is it just me?

Running messes with my emotions.

Example:  Hood to Coast 2012.  My first leg was just over four miles on a gradual down hill.  Easy.  My second leg, however, was 7.25 miles on a mostly flat road with some low hills.  I gave myself complete permission to take walking breaks if needed.  But I ran it all, non-stop.  Each time I thought about walking, the slope would head downward, so I kept running.  Then up the next hill, repeating the thought process:  "I can walk now ... no, it's going downhill again."  Till about two miles from the end and it became a "I gotta do this!"  It was now dark and when I could see the lights of the exchange ahead I knew I was .... AMAZING.

Note:  You may be wondering:  7.25 miles?  Why is that a big deal? .... Let me explain.  Until I started my marathon training in December of 2010, I practically never walked during a run.  I ran my first 13.1 miles (half marathon) without walking, except for the potty-break which we're not counting.  But then I learned that many, many people run marathons with walking breaks -- that it was actually allowed in the World of Running ... and I instantly signed on to the mentality.

And I haven't been able to go back.

 It's harder to push myself on a routine run.  On a good day I can run three miles before taking a break.  So 7.25 was a big deal.

When I finally got to that exchange, it was fortunate that Husband was there because I sank into his shoulder, gulped air, and half-sobbed.   Weird.

My last leg was something around 5 miles and I ran all of it as well.  (Go easy on your critique of my posture in this photo, please.  This was at the end of almost 18 miles total.  I only had three hours of sleep and my iPod battery had died about four miles back.)

(Thanks Dave, for a great picture.)

Another example:  Favorite Daughter's marathon last spring.  I went to show support and to run with her during her last couple of miles.  As I trotted out to meet her, I could hardly contain my enthusiasm for all those MAGNIFICENT people finishing up their 26.2!  I KNEW what they had been through, not only for the last several hours, but for the last six months!  All complete strangers, yet I was so dang proud of every one of them!   I hope I reined in my giddiness enough to not look too idiotic.  At least I didn't try to high-five them all.

Another example:  I've mentioned this before, but almost every time I run a race with other people .... not just a fun run ..... but an organized race ... I nearly burst with:  1. Love for the world,  2. Kinship with all present,  3. Knee-buckling GRATITUDE that I can DO this, and ... 4. The false perception that I feel GOOD and can run for miles and miles!  Of course it all melts off after about five minutes and I begin to wonder why the heck I keep doing this whole stupid running thing.

Then there's my music playlist.  Each song was carefully chosen.  And they are now mine.  You see, when you run to a song enough times, you can somehow take credit for it.   And the song becomes better than other songs ..... until you become sick of it and dump it from your list.  So when it comes on the radio when you aren't running, you feel good.  Because it's one of YOUR songs ...... and you want to point it out to other people and brag, "I run to that song!" ...... which SHOULD make you all the more cool in their eyes ...... don't you think?  ...... oh never mind.

Last of all, I have scarcely any practicality in my brain, when thinking about a race far in the future .... like next summer.  Times like that I'm fueled on pure emotion.  Especially when fun people, whom I adore, are involved.  I'm trying to not leap into commitments like I typically do, and instead give those impulses time to work their way through my thought processes for at LEAST a few weeks, or more.   Because I KNOW that a few days before any event, I'll be seriously questioning my level of sanity when I signed up.

So that's it.  End of post.  No pithy finale.  Just this song.  Which is MINE.  'Cause I run to it.

"23 and 1/2 Hours"

You know when you discover a real gem online .... probably via a clever and alert facebook friend ..... and want to tuck it away where you won't lose it so that you can trot it out occasionally to impress, or inspire, or teach ......  or just because it's so darn good?  

Well THIS is one of those gems.  And what better place to tuck it, than in one's blog?

Enjoy, be inspired, and utilize this kick in the tush!  And if you've seen it before, WHY are you still sitting there??

By Dr. Mike Evans, founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto, and a staff physician at St. Michael's Hospital.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Past, present, and May

The frump on the left was me about 15 years ago and the fatty on the right was me again, six years ago.   Today I look at these photos incredulously.  Obviously my 40s were not my best decade.  I knew I weighed too much, but honestly didn't realize how bad it was.  Here's the amazing thing:  People said I was slim ....!  Whenever I mentioned I was dieting, they'd frequently ask, "What for?"  Either my friends all live in the Land of Make-Believe, or they were just being too kind.  Good gravy!  Those hips could block traffic!  (FYI:  This was the Pre-Running Me who tried to justify the extra poundage because of my entrance into middle age.)

Which brings me to now and the on-going battle to never return to THAT, even though my proud title of "Grandma" was established over 10 years ago.  For one thing, I'm back on the wagon, dealing with some unwanted summer-induced fat, via another fitness challenge.  Fun almost always involves eating and the scales show that I must have packed in a TON of fun this summer.  And knowing another fitness challenge (my "safety net") was starting soon, I really let my guard down the last few weeks and completed the ballooning process, arriving at about eight pounds over where I was last spring.

I have discovered that my weight is always lowest in May.  Not sure why, other than typically there are no big events during the several months that precede it ...... events like Christmas, or a vacation.  Vacations are brutal and I am claiming full victim status.  Even those vacations that involve exercise!  I can do a four-day-200+-mile-bike-trip and gain two pounds.  Even the Hood to Coast, when I ran almost 18 miles in two days, packed on a pound or two.  Here's some wisdom I finally learned: Weight loss is 85% about dieting, and 15% about exercise.  I put it in BOLD PINK to burn it into your brains!  All the exercise in the world, which tones and builds muscle, will NOT make you lighter if you use it to justify brownies.  So my HTC aftermath involved the donuts, the DQ blizzard, my favorite Eggs Benedict at the Pig n' Pancake, and the rest of the candy-filled blur .... more than it did the running.

The wedding of Favorite Second Son and Favorite Second DIL (the highlight of our summer by the way) ...... Let's pause and admire this lovely scene .....
 A great day!  (Here's a fun tidbit:  The young eagle scout in the first picture above,
and the groom in this picture, are one and the same.)
And I'm adding this photo just because I like it.
Favorite (MARRIED!) 2nd Son and me.  

.... anyway, it didn't help either.  One of my downfalls is Swiss cheese.  And there was a LOT of it (along with the rest of the menu) left over from the wedding luncheon we hosted.  Which (the cheese) I ate.  On crackers.  For days.  Yum.  (Fortunately none of the wedding cake made it to our house.)

The above "before" photos need an "after" shot, so here I am, about to run my last leg in the HTC, a few weeks ago.  I was within about five pounds of my ideal high-school-graduation weight and, after almost a week on our current fitness challenge, is about where I'm at right now.  (Another by-the-way:  Do you GET that I LOVE fitness challenges?  Absolute life-savers!)

  And you'll have to go here to see me last spring, after a previous highly successful fitness challenge and ..... AT my high-school-graduation weight.  It's where I plan to be in a few weeks ..... just before we embark on another food-fest (AKA a cruise) then roll on into those pesky fudge-packed holidays .... meaning I start all over again in January.

If only it could be May all year long.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Hearty Ride in the Dappled Shade of the Forest Green.

I decided I need to put a new post out there so that the title of my previous post doesn't remain in view on anyone's blog list.

Said title of this post WILL BE more tasteful and uplifting .... and I'm still composing it.  How about, "The Love of Running"?  .... Boring.  "Faith in Every Foot Plant"?  ..... No that won't work.  I googled Foot Plant and came up with skateboarding sites.  Hey, how about "Gliding and Striding"?..... Oh gag.  Maybe ..."Running For Cupcakes"?

...... Or we could segue over to biking and the ride that Awesome Friends, Husband, and I did this week .... except that it featured my clumsy crash and subsequent bloody knee which was documented in full color by Friend Dave and his omnipresent camera.  Don't worry.  I won't post the picture.  This is supposed to be a NICE post to offset the last one.  But I might add, for what it's worth, it's the SAME knee that took the brunt of my little incident with a moving car last spring.  

It actually was a very fun ride.  There's a former-train-track-now-paved-trail that stretches 21 miles between the towns of Banks and Vernonia, in a lovely wooded portion of northwest Oregon.  Honesty dictates that I disclose that it was more than the 20 miles that I led Friend Sue to believe it was.  I had forgotten about that extra mile.  Really.  I did forget. 

(I'm tossing these two other photos in because I like them.
Good job, Dave!  I really do appreciate your camera ....
most of the time.)

The trail runs through scenic forests, brief meadows, over trestles and some small boarded bridge-type sections that sit just high enough off the pavement to jar the unsuspecting and non-attentive cyclist.  One such bump ate the tire of Husband's bike, and we all waited and watched helpfully as he did a quick repair.

One section of the trail would have traversed over another bridge, which I'm sure back in the train days, used to be there, but isn't now.  So the trail suddenly drops into a ravine via sharp-cornered switch-backs.  There are signs warning all bikers, which I noticed on the other side, but no matter, I rode it without incident on the way going.  Our plan was to ride from Banks to Vernonia; eat lunch; then ride back; so we got to visit the ravine twice.
The (45 minute) pizza shop, explanation below.
On our way back, full of confidence from my first try, I started down the switch-backs.  However, one was particularly sharp and I couldn't quite turn sharp enough and stay upright concurrently, so I gracefully dropped off the pavement onto a steep rocky hill.  Thanks to my shoe clips, with which I have a love/hate relationship, that kept my feet firmly attached to the peddles -- over I toppled with the bike.  Again, no picture posting.  And I also won't post a picture of the nasty bruise that arrived the next day.  ...... Well, maybe one picture.

I learned after the fact, that Husband also executed a crash more impressive than mine, in the same ravine as he came upon it unexpectedly at a speed too fast.  Neither of us are hurt, other than a few surface wounds and we both understand that in Biking World, the immediate inquiry of concern from all present consists of, "How's the bike??!"  ....... Skin heals.  Bikes don't.

So all in all, our Awesome Friends became our Patient Friends as Husband and I held up the parade with more than our share of mishaps.  Two crashes.  One flat tire.  And at lunch, our order didn't arrive until everyone else was finished eating.  (We had the NERVE to order a pizza at a pizza shop, when everyone else ordered burgers and salads.  Go figure.)  We plan to ride the trail again and hopefully many times more.  And next time, I also plan to heed the warning signs posted at the ravine.  A pleasant little walk is kind of a nice break in a long ride.  I owe it to my knee, and to my bike.

Awesome Friends and us.

(By the way, what do you think of my cheerful and perky title? ....  yeah, I know .... bleh.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sweat, snotrockets, beleaguered toenails, and other niceties

Warning:  Not for the delicate, squeamish, or faint of heart.  You may want to shoo the children from the room.

Okay, I am a decent, refined, educated woman and I have spent the better part of my adult life cultivating that image.  I even strive for being classy and/or dignified and although I don't always reach the mark .... the effort is there.  I don't swear.  I don't spit.  I try to use decent grammar.  I don't even call policemen, cops.  My clothes are somewhat coordinated with my jewelry, shoes, and handbag.  Decorum is my middle name.  Bottom line:  I work on it.  I do.

But running has introduced a certain level of crudeness into my world.  And the former image is waning.

Several years ago I was running with someone who shall be nameless, except that he is a sibling ... and he runs .... but I won't mention any names ....  Anyway, he did what I have seen cyclists do ... who shall also remain nameless .... which is to relieve a drippy nose by holding one nostril closed and blowing out the other, in the general direction of the local flora along the way.  I noted that he seemed quite casual about it.

Many months later during a routine run, after I finally tired of carrying a wad of kleenex in my pockets, or stuffed into my sleeve, or in my gloves .... we're talking wintertime here .... I, after carefully checking to make sure NO ONE would see, ..... tried it.  I did.  ..... And it was amazing!  It worked!  Wow.  Freedom.  In case you are in a state of shock and dealing with mental pictures, just know that I never aim for pavement.  And I remain profoundly judgmental of men who spit in public and leave it there for the rest of us to step carefully over.

(Okay, the worst is over.  You may now bring the children back into the room.)

And then there's sweat.  Yes, I do it with the best of them.  I can lose two lbs. of water weight in a vigorous 5+ mile run.  And my poor toenails!  I have two that are currently hanging on for dear life, hiding under L'Oreal's "Cravin' Raisin" nail polish.  (I did not make that name up.)  It is typical for runners to lose toenails, and I can't recall how many of my own have bitten the dust.  (I have purchased toe guards and may report on them in a future post.)  Add to that, calluses and the blisters that come and go, and you have feet that don't strut around in sandals like they used to.

Finally, I often notice at the end of a long run and miles of heavy panting, my chin feels crusty .... as if I've been drooling.  However, my friends assure me that they haven't noticed any drool.  But maybe they're just being kind ....  And we've already had the discussion on the lack of makeup and frizzy hair.

Anyway, there you have it.  Running isn't for divas.  It takes a fair amount of self-acceptance combined with increasing apathy for one's public persona, to be able to run openly.  And if you ever see anything suspicious on a sidewalk .... it was NOT me.

Nope.  Was not.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Don't worry. Be happy.

I write solely on inspiration.  If it hits, I write.  If it doesn't, there is a looonnnngggg gap of time between posts.  Plus lately my passions have been lured over to my other more serious blog.  Warning:  if you go there, you will see another side of me.  It may not be pretty.

So back to running ..... here's the thing.  Other than my Marathon Year, the annual highlight of my summer is the Hood to Coast relay and it is now less than three days away.  This week, one and two years ago, I was in serious need of therapy, anti-anxiety meds, and/or someone's strong hand to grip.  I was the team captain, desperately keeping my mental boat afloat.  Being cursed with the need for perfectness ..... I typically drove myself close to The Edge, with worries and last minute details.  You may recall this and this post.

However this year ..... I just came off the whirlwind of Favorite 2nd Son's very recent wedding, shown in Favorite Daughter's blog.  Involved were visiting relatives, lots of sewing, luncheon planning/managing, cleaning, and cooking, cooking, cooking.  Details were stuffed into, and falling out of my brain and I had lists written on many scraps of paper.  It all turned out to be a wonderfully beautiful (and exhausting!) event and this family totally SCORED with a perfect and beloved new daughter-in-law.  And it completely overshadowed the Hood to Coast.

PLUS as I have said recently, I am not team captain this year!  Have you heard that enough times yet??  And the wedding is DONE.   AHHHH ..... do you feel the serenity  ..... the calm ..... the lack of concern for this weekend?  Yes, there are still a few unaddressed HTC details, but whatever .....

I've done my training, finishing with an easy three miles yesterday, and am in full taper-mode until Friday at about 8:00 a.m. ... when I begin my first leg.

No problem!  All is good.  Rest, sleep, eat carbs .....  don't worry .... be happy.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Freedom ain't free, Part 2

This is a follow-up of a previous post.  No need to provide a link; just scroll down a bit.

In my not-young age, I am free to run 5+ miles non-stop.  T'was not always so.  And that freedom came at a price.  It takes work, darn it.  I have to give up an hour or more, several days a week, and go out into the cold, or the heat, or the wind, or the drizzle, ... and run.   Alone.   Most of the  ... Pretty much ALL of the time, I don't want to. And too bad if I wake up to a good hair day.  After the run, the hair is toast and demands a complete do-over.

There is a saying that speaks to me nearly every morning: "If you started running when you first thought about it, you'd be done by now."  I get up from THE Most Comfortable Bed, put on my running clothes, and if I can get myself out the door within the next hour, it's a good start.  I'm a shameless procrastinator, letting the minutes slip by while I dink around on the computer.   Once I remember walking RIGHT PAST my laptop as I headed to the door.  I actually ran BEFORE going online!  ONCE!  And for me, the BEST part of a run is after it's over.

There are plenty of runners, or cyclists, or swimmers, etc., who make me look whiny and lazy.  One friend, a mommy of toddlers, runs in the early morning darkness (while I'm still in my Most Comfortable Bed) before her husband goes to work.   And sometimes she has to run, not only in the dark, but in the cold and rain.  And she does it.  As a result, she was free to experience the heady fun of running in her first relay this summer.  It's this kind of diligence, that says "marathon" in her future.  Not many are willing to pay the price for the freedom to do that.

So essentially, it means giving up something significant, for something better.  This principle is true on so many levels.  From the price of skipping some calories during the day, so as to have semi-guilt-free ice cream that evening ...To the sacrifices of our hallowed military for the freedom to live as our Founding Fathers intended.

Most freedoms don't come cheaply.  But the reward is so worth it.  And my next reward is just three short weeks away, when the BEST team of 2012 (which will include Diligent Friend mentioned above, plus Favorite Daughter, and a bunch of other cool people) returns to the ....

... drum roll .....

Hood to Coast!  AKA The Mother of ALL Relays!

YES!  And did I tell you that I'm NOT team caption??

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dedicated to slow teams

In a relay, a fast team is awesome to behold.  You know those teams.  They're comprised of actual athletes, all 20-something in age, and not an ounce of fat to be seen.  In their sport, they are focused and determined to win.  And not just determined, they're confident.  They're tanned and ripped and they sail silently past the rest of us as if we were not even there.    Some of their teams even require qualifying times and are the teams from which the rest of us have no hope of ever receiving an invitation.

That is not my world.

The teams in which I have ran, are not fast.  Oh, we've had our fast runners to be sure.  I want to give full credit to Mark, Ben, Anne, Ricky, and others who have patiently added their low-minute miles to our team's average time and put up with the ultra-early starting times to which slower teams are typically assigned.

I prefer a slower team.  Slow teams have more fun .... in my opinion.  Reasons:  Less pressure.  In fact, as far as the rest of the team is concerned, the only pressure is what each of us put on ourselves.  We know we won't win, so there's no disappointment when we don't.  When assembling a team, we don't look for highly skilled runners.  We look for fun people who run.  The kind of people with whom we won't mind spending 30+ hours in a crowded van.

But the main reason I prefer slower teams is that on those teams, miracles happen.

Remember this post about my 2nd Hood to Coast?  That was the Year of Amy.  She was new to running yet agreed to join her husband on our team, worried about it all year, then ran all of her legs from beginning to end without walking.  She DID it.  She faced her personal beast and KILLED it.  Her words at the end:  "I never knew what I could do.  Now I know."

Last month was the Epic Relay.  We were so slow that our last six legs had to be run simultaneously so that the finish-line party would still be happening by the time we got there.  That was the Year of Carrie.

Carrie had always been athletic, but was new to running.  She was so scared, but agreed to take on some of the most difficult legs of the route.  Her first leg was brutal with long uphills, and she said that when she finally saw the exchange up ahead and realized SHE HAD DONE IT, she almost cried.  The rest of her legs she ATTACKED like a warrior.   Carrie defined herself as a runner in that relay.

It was also the Year of Ellen who, over the past year, had diligently lost a great deal of weight, and became something she never used to think was possible.

And also the Year of Anna, who also overcame personal fears and limitations and showed herself what she could do.

I could say the same for Val, Justin, Anne, Dave, Chery,  and others.  People who may not have been the fastest at first.  People who didn't dare call themselves runners ... at first.  But after being invited into a team, doing their part, and running their legs -- they personally allowed themselves to own the title.

When teams take a chance on beginners, lives are changed.  Beginners who, although terrified, accept the invitation and the challenge, then DO IT.  They prove what they can do to their biggest critic -- themselves.

That was me once.  I remember the fear, the intimidation, and the complete lack of confidence.  I still feel it a little.  That first year when I was actually invited on a real team with real runners -- was the year MY life was changed.  It was the Year of Me.

Hooray for the slow teams!  Sometimes their hurdles are the hardest of all.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Freedom! (Part 1)

One thing I have come to know, since I bid the semi-sedentary lifestyle goodbye (for a while at least), is empowerment.  I have accepted sweat, grit, risk, and the courage to try, into my normally pampered, soft-bed, daily shower, and sitting-on-the-sidelines world and, as a result, I feel more free.  

And what's more, for me, this came quite late in life.

Which may be why I also feel gratitude.  

And joy.

I used to balk at roughing it.  I used to hate most sports, especially running.  It was all so uncomfortable.  And I was never much good at it anyway.  I opted to stay on the bleachers or in the support vehicle, preferably with air-conditioning, and look cute in my latest new top from TJMaxx.  And heaven help us if my hair frizzed!  

But now ..... maybe it is because I am getting older and the self-perceived cuteness is fading .....  either I just don't care as much or I'm in denial regarding how bad I actually look.   (Which is why I don't like TOO many cameras pointed at me because the pictures usually force me out of that denial to which I emotionally cling.)  

I am free to DO.   I am free to run and to be on a team with people who are young enough to be my kids, and keep up.  And even pass a few of them!  I am free to be seen sans make-up, in all my middle-aged glory, letting my frizzy curls fly -- gray roots and all.  I am free to sleep on the ground (With at least an air-mattress please!) un-showered after my last run, in my sleeping bag, next to teammates who are in a similar gritty state, and unsure as to where the nearest toilet is.  I know I can do this and survive!  

And not only can I survive, I can walk away in my sunburned, smelly, frizzy condition with a grin.  I CAN do it!  I DID do it!  And I can DO IT again!

THAT, my friends, is empowerment.  I have eliminated some personal fears and replaced them with freedom.  And it feels good.

Thank you, Favorite Daughter, for this picture.

Stay tuned for Part 2.  Freedom ain't free.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Arctic Circle Run

It all started with a simple comment on face book.  We should RUN on the Arctic Circle on the summer solstice.  Hahaha, yeah, that would be something, wouldn't it.  

Somehow that innocent online exchange took on a life of its own and quickly morphed into elaborate plans for an actual trip to the AC.  T'would merely be a drive of 5000+ miles in a van with fun friends and little sleep.  Yeah!  We can do this!  High fives!

But Reality reared its head, trimmed the big plans back a little, and the Alaskan-bound-trip turned into a tour of Utah's like-no-other canyons.   From Alaska to the deserts of Utah?  Of course!  When you can't go cold, go HOT.  

The trip included (in exact and meticulous order):  Driving ... retrieving socks at rest stop ... motel with lousy beds in Boise ... driving ... pickleball in Ogden ... driving ... cool rented house in Moab ... sunrise hike to Delicate Arch in Arches Nat'l Park ... a dip in the pool ... naps ... ice cream ... Moab again ... Dead Horse Point ... driving ... Mesa Arch (amazing!!) ... rattle snake ... pizza ... expensive but necessary shorts purchase ... Moab (still there) ... driving ... Goblin Valley ... almost running out of gas ... pit-stop behind a bush (t'wasn't me!)... hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon (also amazing!!) ... driving ... the non-town of Caineville ... driving ... obscure motel in Tropic with the sorta-free breakfast ... driving ... Bryce Canyon, sniffing trees, and a hike down into the hoodoos ... whistling lessons in the van ... driving ... The Narrows in Zion Nat'l Park (a perfect hike for a hot day) ... motel in Hurricane (dutifully pronounced hur'-i-cun) ... and the totally logical idea that .......... hey .... we're only twenty-some miles from St. George where there is an actual Arctic Circle.   So we went ...    

... on the 21st of June,

... to run.

(Side note:   AC's milkshakes are not milkshakes.  I mean, when it's so thick that you cannot pull it up through a straw, it is NOT a milkshake.)  

Continuing:  Back to Zion to hike Angel's Landing (wow!) ... driving (unshowered) ... Provo ... more ice cream ... dinosaur bones ... driving ... Boise ... nice hotel with great beds ... water sports on boat with Awesome Niece and Nephew ... (a relaxing visit with Favorite Sister for me, and some quiet hair time with my flat iron) ... Greek food with friendly waiter ... nice hotel again ... driving ... big horn sheep ... quick stop at Multnomah Falls for flattened penny ... and home.

Sprinkled onto EVERY WAKING MOMENT WITHOUT EXCEPTION:  profuse and slightly-obsessive picture-taking.  (And THAT is an understatement.)  

So it goes to show, when life takes away apricots and hands you bananas instead, just know that those bananas will make a fantastic smoothie.  And the apricots will be there next year, or the year after that.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

We know fun

Mormons know how to have fun.

What does that have to do with running? .... you ask.  Well I am learning that it has a LOT to do with it.

First of all, I am a Mormon and I run.  And apparently, a lot of other Mormons also run.  

This weekend we participated in a fairly new-to-the-running-world relay called the Epic Relay.  And  heck, since it's practically in my backyard, meaning it literally goes right behind my house ...... we decided to sign up and give it a go.  Our team, captained by Awesome Daughter and her Awesome Friend, consisted of twelve AWESOME women/mothers, which inspired the team name:  Throw Momma From the Van.
L to R.  Sheri, Bethany, Monica, Ellen, Anna, Val, Melanie, Lindsay, Carrie, Solana, and me.  (Missing Michelle, who headed for home before this photo was taken.)
I plan to write more about this experience in a future post, but for now, just know that it was FUN and WE DID IT.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.  At one of the relay exchanges I chatted with one of the faithful and necessary volunteers and learned that she was the mother-in-law of the creator of the event.  And I noticed the "aura" which is what I call the "look" of fellow members of my church.  (No, we don't look different than the rest of the human race, except that there is just something familiar that we tend to sense about each other.)   So I asked her and yes, she .... and her son-in-law, are also Mormons.  As were, I discovered, the two other teams waiting at that same exchange.

The Epic Relay series offers a choice of roughly 200-mile long relays in Oregon, Colorado and Utah/Wyoming.  It's three years old and still small in participants, until the word gets out.  (Check it out.  Much cheaper than most.)

Then there are the Ragnar relays.  According to the website, there are 15 Ragnars across the U.S. and from what I've heard, they all pretty much sell out every year.  This series of similar-type running events was started in 2004 by a couple of BYU alumni.  Do you see where I'm going with this?  Yes, they too, are Mormons.

Then there's the up-and-coming Saints to Sinners bicycle relay in which Husband will be riding next month.  Similar format as the running relays, except it's done on bikes and stretches from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas.  Hence the name.  Since Mormons (which is a nickname) are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is easy to guess that the title of the event was my first clue.  Again, started by Mormons.

Last but not least, there is the renowned annual Run Run Ye Saints.  Ha!  An idea conceived in brilliance by Awesome Daughter and moi.  If I had written a post about our recent one, you would know that we had over 100 participants this year!   NOT that we are even in the same universe of importance as the above named events, but I'm going to claim a little glory here.  It IS my blog, you know.

It's commonly known that members of my church do not drink alcohol.  I've been told by non-members that drinking enhances life.  They say it makes it more fun.

I beg to differ.

We know how to have it and we know how to create it for others.  We happily choose our mountains to climb rather than letting them choose us.  We revel on the high peaks, relishing the hike up and the dizzying trip back down.  Then we grab our friends by the hand and party with them up the next mountain.  

Good times.

Good memories.

Good people.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

570.57 !

That's exactly how many running miles I have put these aging legs through in the last six months.    That's a smidgeon under 22 miles per week on average.  Had I not collided with a car last month and forced into some recovery down-time, it would have been more.   But all in all, my inner-tyrant-training-demons are quietly satisfied.

And summer is just beginning .....

Here are the upcoming highlights:

Mid-June is the Epic Relay.  Same format and approximate distance as our beloved Hood to Coast, but closer to home ..... in fact one leg of it runs right behind my house .... you cannot get closer than that!  It also has far fewer participants, is cheaper and easier to get in ..... BUT .... as much fun?  That remains to be seen.   It will be my first experience on an all-girl team.   I will be, like always, the oldest one in the van.   Some of my teammates are young enough to be my daughters, including my actual daughter, better known in this blog as Favorite Daughter and Favorite Running Partner.  But I am not the slowest which ..... means nothing really.   Relay teams are all about fun and not speed, which ALL slower teams say Because.It's.True.   Fast, competitive teams simply CANNOT be having as much fun as we have!   (Wikipedia would concur, if it was asked .....)

Late August will be my 4th Hood to Coast.  Will it be my last?  Every year from about January through June, I ALWAYS say I'm ready to retire.  And this year is no different, but I've learned to take myself with a BIG grain of salt.  So we'll see.  One year at a time.  We'll also see if HTC fixed their big mess of 2011.  They reduced the number of teams this year so we're hopeful it will go back to being our old HTC that we all know and love.

September brings the Best Dam Run .... my favorite 10K.

That's pretty much it.   Not that that's ALL I'll be doing ..... we have some BIG plans, but not everything involves running.  Yes, you heard that here.

Oh, and we finished our annual Run Run Ye Saints last week and it was a smashing success!!!  A post is forthcoming.

For now, revel in the fact that SUMMER IS JUST BEGINNING!!!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Birds, the Sequel

Just so we're all on the same page, you will need to spend a few minutes reviewing this post.  I'll wait ................................................................................. . . . . . . . . . . . .   .   .   .   .   .   .     .      .     .     .    Done?  Alrighty then.

After sailing through April un-accosted, I thought this must not be a year for birds.  Is there such a thing?  Just like those occasional years of fewer hurricanes in the mid-west, or when the price of gas inexplicably drops below $4 a gallon.  Sometimes it's best to just enjoy those tender mercies without always looking for the cause.

Last year, a suspicion of my paranoia was hovering around in the thoughts of a few of my readers; therefore, I was determined to gather absolute proof that:

Birds do not like me.  

They're watching.  ( You can click on any picture to enlarge.)

Thanks to Husband Dear, and his complex and over-priced camera, we got a lot of shots of me running ........ and ....  keep looking .... it's there .....

Black on black.  Kinda creepy.
Zooming out.  (The camera, not the bird.)  Do you see it?
Oh yeah.  This feathered piece of work, is SO guilty!
More evidence:  
The hood of my car, AKA the Bird Latrine.
That long stringy thing is a rubber snake.  Its intended purpose is to scare the birds and stop the nest-building.  Last year they built their nest on top of it.
I could add a photo of the poop-spattered street in front of my house, but I think you get the point.

So there you have it.  The Evidence.

I rest my case.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

How to traumatize a driver

I was wondering what to write about this week.    Hmmmmm .....  What's new in my running life .... oh yes!  Last week I was hit by a car.

Yours Truly was running down the sidewalk on the left side of our town's major thoroughfare, and came to one of its many entrances/driveways.  A driver was waiting to turn right onto said thoroughfare, and since all oncoming cars would be on his left, left was his focus.  Knowing this probability, I usually stop or run behind any cars waiting to pull out.  But as I approached, I looked at the driver and THOUGHT we had eye contact.  Not.  So just before I got past him, he hit the gas and sent me tumbling.  I'm detailing this can-happen-all-too-easily scenario for you, in hopes it will be a reminder to all.  NEVER ASSUME THEY SEE YOU.  It nearly happened to me a couple of years ago, but the driver stopped as I jumped past his front left bumper. 

I wasn't hurt, other than a few scrapes and some prize bruises.  I even finished my run after picking myself up and comforting Shaken-Driver-Justin (yes, we exchanged info) who probably aged ten years and saw his entire life flash by him in that moment.  He would have hand-carried me to the nearest Mayo Clinic and donated a kidney, if needed. Worried-Justin called me later that day and I could hardly convince him that I was okay. He just wanted to stay on the phone and hear me say it a few hundred times.  

I have also gained a front-row education of what happens a few hours after any type of physical trauma.  Oh my.  Apparently muscles, particularly my knee which took the brunt of the fall, have this delayed reaction rudely initiated by Tightening, and promptly followed by a nasty companion called Soreness.   I became a hobbler for a day and fortunately remembered, the next morning, that Husband had a knee brace in his drawer.  That brace has now become my friend and is earning its keep. 
Note the new shoes!
I'm still a little sore, but healing.  The bruises are segueing from scary black to that ugly green stage.  And during my runs, Friend Knee Brace and I will remain partners for a little while.  I'm not sure about Justin, though.  His recovery make take longer .....

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Back on ... track?

I've had a brief break from running, which is no big deal really, BUT it was my first break of any length EVER.

And we've all had a sizable break from this blog .... another first.   That is due to more serious blogging on more serious topics.  Brow-knitting, teeth-gritting serious .....

But the nasty ... be-grateful-I-didn't-post-pictures ... sore on my foot that ultimately chased all shoes off my foot for a week, has healed nicely and I'm back on the road.

Today I returned to our high school track, where they are cutting down perfectly good trees and cluttering up the lanes with big trucks and debris.  I stayed on the opposite end and far from their chain saws.  200 meter repeats, back and forth.

Oh, and I'd also like to introduce my new toy!

(Mine is the green one.)  It carries all my music, is as teeny as it looks here, and the best part ..... it clips onto my shirt!  Jacket-season, with the associated pockets, is waning, and now I don't have to endure another summer of sweaty iPod-armband-chafing!

Don't you just LOVE May?   One might question my taste in months because of our unseasonably cool weather this year, but I love May because of the anticipation it brings.  Summer is coming!  It's still ahead of us ... stretched out there full of fun!  And my little green iPod, my healed foot, and the treeless ...... dang, that means shadeless ... track, are ready.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Dilemma

I've been thinking about starting another blog.  I want to write about other subjects in addition to running so the question is -- do I continue pouring the increasing stream of non-related topics into this one, or maintain a second blog adding more hours spent on my laptop?  Since I have discovered my love for writing, I could happily blog away the hours, but that doesn't bode well with Life in General.  Blogging just doesn't get much laundry done, errands ran, bills paid, or Husband-time devoted to.  However, the weeds in my back yard happily thrive on it.

It took me months to start this blog because I got hung up on choosing a name.  So a new blog poses the same hurdle.  ..... Which segues to the obvious question on the minds of my small, but cherished, audience:  What the heck does she want to gripe about NOW?

Well, since you asked, it's only a couple of innocent, non-controversial subjects ....... namely religion and politics, peppered with ethics and conservatism.  Yes.  I have opinions.  (And you can see why choosing a blog title that doesn't immediately put the entire internet to sleep, is no small task here.)  With the approach of what is likely to be the most important election in my lifetime thus far, and the possibility of the presidency involving a member of my WONDERFUL-yet-too-often-misunderstood church which I am passionately compelled to defend ...... either I drive my facebook friends crazy with my rants, or I vent through the blogosphere.  (Husband's comment to me:  "You'll do both.")  Maybe so, but there is a world to save, and I feel the need to speak out .....

So while I stew over the options, you may all take a moment to enjoy my tulips which are actually blooming!
Husband urged me out to the patio and even cooked a steak for me while I typed.  With that idyllic thought, you are probably now wondering why on earth why I feel the need to vent about anything.  Gazing at my tulips and being lulled by the scent of our nearby magnolia bush ....... I .... um .... hmmm ...... can't remember the reason either.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sprinting and other dubious ideas

A good friend sent me an article on the benefits of sprinting-intervals VS long, slow distance running.  It claims that more calories are burned by short frantic, as-if-chased-by-a-rabid-Rottweiler sprints interspersed with brief breaks of slow running or walking.  
So of course, armed with this new and unwanted knowledge, I am compelled to revisit the local track with my stopwatch.

Track-running rates only slightly above treadmill-running.  But at least it affords me a relatively lesser amount of public exposure as opposed to slogging along on the major highway that slices through my town.  Very few see me on the track.  And considering the state of my hair after a good 30 minutes of running, the less seen, the better.

So my new regimen is to run like all get-out for 30-40 seconds, then collapse into a walk for about a minute, repeating the process until I hit one mile total of sprinting.  This means 8 to 12 repeats depending on the length of the sprints.  This week I ran for half a lap, then walked the other half.  According to my GPS, I can briefly push my time under a seven-minute-mile without throwing up.  Husband helpfully suggests I push it closer to Puking Level, but I don't see HIM losing his breakfast when he exercises.  And I have no intention of losing mine.

The first time I tried this, my legs quickly turned to rubber, followed by several days of hostile thigh muscles.  Usually my thighs quietly comply with whatever I put them through and my calves freak out instead.  But this time the calves were fine.  (Maybe .... due to the recent hint of warm weather and the approach of capris-season, they're happily preoccupied with the instant-tanning cream I've started to slather on them.)
Finally, an added benefit of sprinting is that it builds speed.  That would be nice.  But at my age, let's just try to hang on to what I've got, okay?   So NO NEED to send me any more articles unless they contain uplifting/cheerful advice such as ....  one really ought to drink chocolate milk after one's run.  And particularly nothing on rock-climbing or hang-gliding, please.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

This is love?

You may have noticed that my blog title changed from " .... a running blog"  to "... a mostly running blog".   This is to allow me to deviate from my original purpose as, you may have also noticed, I've been doing more of lately.  One can only say so much about running ..... but you didn't hear that from me.  So onto another non-running subject.   

I have been involved in apologetics.  The handy dictionary in my laptop defines this as "reasoned arguments or writings in justification of something, typically a theory or religious doctrine".  

IOW, I like to discuss Christianity with people who don't share my particular Christian beliefs.  I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known by the nickname "Mormon", and my ties go back to my birth and beyond.  I have a fierce loyalty towards, and love for, my religion which centers on the gospel of Christ, and there are a LOT of misconceptions about us that I feel compelled to dispel.  There are misconceptions that we have about others as well and I cling to the hope that an honest, respectful conversation can help to build an understanding and even a friendship.  

I have participated in several online forums, some managed by fellow Latter-day Saints, and some not.  And I have learned some valuable lessons about other Christian faiths.  I preface my list with the important note that sometimes discussions between mainstream Christians and LDS are like ships passing in the night.  We are using the same words, but our meanings are different, which feeds the misunderstandings and tosses frustration into the mix.  So that said, here is what I have learned:

1.  Beliefs vary greatly among mainstream Christians.  Do not assume that any two professed Christians agree on doctrine --- even if they attend the same denomination.  For example, some believe that baptism is essential to salvation, and others do not.  Some believe that I am a fellow Christian and others not only think I am NOT a Christian, but that I and others like me, are going straight to hell ..... do not pass Go, do not collect $200 ....  They claim that as long as Christians agree on basic doctrine, such as the Trinity, then the other peripheral tenets don't matter ..... but I've never been able to discern exactly which tenets are basic, and who gets to decide.    

2.  Those who say that I am not a Christian, simply define the title differently than I do.  We LDS tend to chuckle, roll our eyes and say, Isn't Jesus Christ in the VERY TITLE of our church's name?  Silly people!  But to them, or at least to some of them (see #1) -- to be Christian means you have accepted Christ as your personal savior and that YOU HAVE BEEN SAVED.  Since, in their opinion, "Mormons" obviously are not saved, then we can't be Christians.   AIthough I don't agree, I can see their point.

3.  With all the disagreement in doctrine, we feel the logical option is to simply ask God.  After all, his opinion DOES matter, doesn't it?  However, some (again see #1) Christians say that asking deity is unreliable.  They say one cannot be sure if an answer truly came from God.   They say feelings cannot be trusted and that we MUST find our answers in the Bible where all is clearly written to eliminate all confusion.  However, considering the reality of #1, I am still scratching my head.   "Well," I've been told when I've pointed out a discrepancy among them, "Everyone else is wrong.  The others are NOT following the Bible." ...... Okay, but that's not what the others say .... but oh well.

4.  In the ongoing debate about grace vs works, some (#1 again) Christians don't define works as good deeds.  This is important because we LDS have misunderstood this.  They define works as ordinances.  Many Christians simply believe that belief in Christ is all one needs.  Good deeds are a natural outcome of that belief and so the deeds really don't deserve a mention.  They just are.  Ordinances ended with Christ's ministry.  (Yes, he WAS baptized but that doesn't matter .... to some ....)
One problem I have encountered is that it appears that the young, with their youthful zeal and computer prowess, tend to monopolize many of these forums.  With youth, naturally comes immaturity and that immaturity (on our side also) just doesn't represent anyone well.  So I have fancied myself as one of the more mature and calmer voices, that can overlook the sarcasm, and inject some reason and respect into the fray.  

Another problem with ALL online interaction is that no one can hear vocal tones, nor see facial expressions which, in a face-to-face conversation, add a tremendous amount of communication.  Without that, one can assume anger or ridicule where none was intended.  So here too, I thought my maturity and seasoned wisdom, would be helpful.   And it goes without saying that one's self-perceived wisdom and maturity is all relative.   Sometimes I've got it, and sometimes not.

Anyway, for the past several months I have been participating in a site that is managed by a Christian group, in which there are many sub-sections, one of which is devoted to cults.  And guess what.  THAT's where you can find "Mormonism".   There is also a considerable amount of biased misinformation about our church placed in a helpful resource section, in case someone needs the "facts".   So into the forum I walked and immediately was hit by an onslaught.  At first glance, one can see that the misinformation is rampant.  So I spoke up with a comment (knowing beforehand that one must step VERY lightly in such settings) like, "Um, that's not true.  That's not part of our doctrine."

With that, I was blasted with a torrent of vile comments about our past church leaders, our scriptures, our people, and just about everything that I hold dear.  

Their reasoning for such conduct, they say, is because they "love" us.  (Really?  I wonder how they treat those they hate .....  )  And because of that "love", they are trying to save us.  Okay..... I can appreciate that.  But the irony is that their version of "love" drives most of us away and as a result, very few if any, will benefit from their mission to save.  I have tried to point this out to them, but to no avail.  

But I stayed in there for a few months in the hope that I might find one reasonable, fair-thinking person.  There has to be, I thought, someone who could see that their methods were anything BUT productive to their cause.  But it wasn't to be.  I finally walked away, battered and bruised from the barrage of "love".  Add my name to the long list of LDS who will not be "saved" this week.  

All in all, I have learned quite a bit, as I have listed above.  I continue to hold firmly to the belief that the vast majority of mainstream Christians are the wonderful and generous people I've always known them to be.  And I have gained yet again, a profound appreciation for my own religion which has taught me to treat others with respect and kindness.  It has taught me who Jesus Christ is and how we can, and should, emulate him through our words and behavior.  That not only shows what love REALLY is .... it also shows class
The Good Samaritan