Category Archives: wellness and health

The warmup

Signs of an aging runner…

runnerdemographics

Doris drove the oversized van —  a rehabbed ambulance — into the lot designated for runners taking four parking spaces while Lois tended to other matters.  Outside, runners no older than 40 congregated, wearing singlets and shorts in 45-degree weather, not growing goosebumps, waiting for the half marathon to start. Inside the van, the temperature a balmy 78.

Sporting an age category far right of the runners bell curve, Lois and Doris broke a sweat with two layers of pants and a full contingent of long sleeve shirts, Goretex vest, and a winter jacket.  Behind the driver’s seat a long hallway  – presumed once used for stretchers – flanked a private bathroom, a closet with two fold out chairs, a coffee station and a large sofa covered with knee braces, ankle supports, bandages and four pairs of running shoes.
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Fighting words

swimpoolIt was A.J.’s own voice that taunted her while watching Kato swim effortless laps in the pool.  How could she plan to live on a sailboat, so terrified of the water?  Sure it would be fine to swim fearless the way Kato does with his head dipped low in the water, barely coming up for air, or so it seemed.  His arms moved in perfect cadence, with each stroke timed like a metronome. Even the way he kicked those small splashes propelling him great distances across the surface didn’t seem to tire him one bit, and the water barely rippled from behind.  The other swimmers in their individual lanes, kicking and splashing, some with too much effort creating miniature tsunamis, at least they looked that way to her, and not one swimmer seeming to care that the pool water raged like rapids.

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10s

20160220_182930_24789297109_oThe nearest concrete wall was three miles away which wasn’t far by my standards.  It was 1969 and mom didn’t like the idea that I would ride my bicycle to the wall at the local university to hit tennis balls probably because I was ten years old and a girl, and too independent for my own good as she would say, so she insisted that I take the back roads and avoid the busy parkway.

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1965

20160220_134041_24856825380_oThe milkman arrived at 6:45 am every tuesday and friday for a new delivery. He brought the usual milk and cream and there were other items to choose that included chocolate milk, eggs and orange juice.  Mom would greet mister milkman as we called him, wearing her pink robe, and slippers, and her grey matted hair was just as it were when she woke. Primming and pruning could be done after the family was on their way – dad off to work, and my brother and I off to school.  Her pink robe, worn and tattered, should have been tossed, but there was nothing wrong with it as far as she was concerned.  Mom would discover by accident a hole she hadn’t noticed and then find fabric for a patch with a color that was close but never exact sew it back together and was good enough to continue to wear for another 30 years, just as she did.   Mister milkman didn’t seem to notice the holes or the tattered patched robe, and in the rare case where mom had overslept, he would leave the ‘usual’ order and she could pay him the next week for six bottles of milk, if you please with a half gallon of orange juice along with those dozen eggs.  On special occasions there would be an order for chocolate milk in a bottle half the size, and so rare we couldn’t wait to have a taste on sunday afternoons, after church and good behavior.  Good behavior didn’t happen very often.

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Juan

messy_kitchencontinued from Lydia’s Pie…

Lydia’s first look at the pie kitchen inside the Piled High Diner shocked the air out of her lungs so fast she felt her lips backfire.  A kitchen with a blur of unsuitable utensils begged her to make sense of irregularly sized pie pans, aluminum foil tins – unworthy stock in any kitchen – broken spatulas, and plastic bowls – none of which fit the outdated mixers.  Sure, there were pie tins to choose from if she didn’t mind erratic diameters and heights.  Staring through a stash of bake-ware, not one brand name stepped forward.

Turning toward the pantry she swung open the doors to an afterlife of generic foods, the 2 for $5 peanut butters not even smooth but crunchy, slabs of lard definitely not dairy, chocolate nibs missing their cacao, and key lime from a bottle.  Struggling for air, she felt her chest fill with concrete.  How could she bake 100 pies with substandard tools and ingredients?  How could she keep her promise to Maggie?

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Lydia’s Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie

By the time Lydia arrived at the Piled High Diner in Arlington Texas, she had driven 1800 miles, consumed her road stash of pretzels and chips and was ready for a meal.  She stepped out of her car, her home for the last 48 hours, rumpled her matted locks into big hair and walked inside. The jukebox played ‘Crazy’ and the half dozen patrons – all cowboys – gave 27 year old Lydia an approving nod as she sat down at an empty booth.

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A starfish afterlife

starfish
Bennie – the Starfish

My recent art project had unexpected beginnings, twists and turns and a surprising ending. Much like my favorite way of wandering through life. Without knowing the ending. Getting lost in the process. Let me explain.

It started as a bike ride with a long-time friend, along the Isle of Palms shoreline in the middle of January. It wasn’t particularly warm, and the wind was blowing whatever heat could be felt from the sun clear north to Canada. My friend Cindy and I were riding beach cruisers – which have no gears. This means you can’t shift down to make the pedaling any easier. I quickly accept this reality and worked extra hard to keep the bike moving into the challenging headwinds. Just having the opportunity to escape the more northern chill of a Maryland winter — via coastal South Carolina puts me in an excellent mood. The beach was mostly deserted with the exception of a few walkers.

In 30 minutes, Cindy and I reached our southern turnaround point – Breach Inlet. To go further south would require swimming. And, I would not be swimming today. Instead we turned our cruisers around, and quickly appreciated the strength of the new-found tailwinds. Barely pedaling, we are scooting along and catching up on days gone by. When suddenly, Cindy spotted a starfish. I missed it. We were cruising too fast. A minute goes by and this time I spotted 2 starfish. Not alive of course, but washed up on the beach. What a lucky discovery, I thought. Suddenly my mind went into “art mode”, and I wondered if there was an art project I could create that might involve a starfish? There was no time to finish that thought, as we pressed on with our bicycles. Continue reading A starfish afterlife

Star Spangled 17.17

In the spirit of the Star Spangled 200 year celebration of our National Anthem in Baltimore – I took to the streets (and mostly the Baltimore Promenade along the waterfront) for my long run this week.

15238644511_218591d358_kThankfully, daughter Emma is ‘on top’ of my training calendar.   After weeks of misreading the training schedule (“don’t we have to run another 20 miles this week”) for the weekly long run – I consulted with her in person.  “We only have to do 17 miles this week”,  Emma explained, after noting that I had been ‘overachieving’ for the last several weeks.  Overachieving is another way of saying that I have been misreading the weekly ritual – and it’s time to put on my reading glasses!

Presented with *just* 17 miles – I may be able to do this without lining up Team Sherpa — friends and family who have been making this journey possible for me.   So, I opted to test my will, and see if I could make 17 miles happen by myself.

The temperatures were in the upper 50 degrees, with no humidity.  It was so delightful, I was giddy to get started.  The first 7 miles were completed in the Port of Baltimore.  This area is an industrialized shipping terminal along the Patapsco river, that consisted of very wide roadways, and barely any traffic.  It is the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning – and the only folks moving about were other runners who also had to get their long run in.  After a quick pit stop at mile 7, and top off of my water bottles, I changed direction to head directly toward ‘ground zero’ of the Star Spangled festivities.  My turn-around destination would be just shy of Fort McHenry – located at the tip of the Locust Point peninsula.

My route would be scenic.  First through the belly of the Canton neighborhood, then past distinctive Fells Point and onward toward Inner Harbor East.  An extremely large Naval fighting ship was docked at the Broadway Street Wharf, and I was tempted to stop and board (along with the hundreds of tourists who apparently get up early on a Sunday morning).  I nixed that though in the spirit of continuing to just run.   Somewhere near the Inner Harbor East lighthouse, I passed by 2 other naval ships that must have something worth protecting on board.   Behind fencing and gates, and a line of military persons carrying very large and menacing weapons – it was pretty clear that I would not be spending much time hovering.   Onward into the Inner Harbor – the tourists are out in FULL force.  My pace significantly slowed, as I practiced agility footwork – stepping right, stepping left, anticipating the moves of senior citizens, children and especially those carrying camera equipment.  It was good practice staying alert – and my mind had no opportunity to ‘zone out’.    The largest sailing vessel I have ever seen – US Coast Guard sailing vessel Eagle was docked.  I thought long and hard about stopping to take a picture along with all of the other tourists, but decided that the boat was too large.   It was something to experience, and not try to capture.  Back to practicing my agility moves – dancing with tourists.

Now into the Federal Hill section of Baltimore, the crowds started to thin out, and I was back to my running pace which was beginning to feel slow.  I had to remind myself to drink water.  With cooler temperatures and lower humidity – it is easy to forget that your body still needs the fluids!   Exiting from the promenade and entering the streets of Locust Point I had reached mile 12 – and it was now time to turn my ship around and return back to the Canton neighborhood.   I will be returning over prior footsteps – and likely larger crowds.

The crowds had increased two-fold by the time I had returned for my final pass through the Inner Harbor.  By now, the adults had consumed caffeine, and the children were high on sugary treats (the street vendors did not seem to sell healthy foods) – and this was the perfect test for more of my footwork and anticipation skills.   Through the Inner Harbor, parts of my run took me precariously close to the waters edge, and other times I narrowly escaped spontaneously moving humans and their dogs!   People were out on the streets, out on the promenade.  Tourists and locals – everyone was milling about, and enjoying the Star Spangled festivities.

IMG_5928IMG_5966Returning back to Canton with 17.17 miles complete – the satisfaction of running this alone (though not really alone in these crowds!) – was pretty special.   Not because I want to run alone (I much prefer company!), but knowing that I can.  Spent the rest of the day with family, morphing into sightseeing-mode with all of the other tourists – for the most incredible Air Show from the Canton shoreline.  (Thanks Bro for the Air Show photo contribution)

More photos from the 9/13/2014 Star Spangled Fireworks