Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Favorite Training Partner - Rico!

No rest for the weary. Went on a four hour hike with Rico yesterday. Let me just warn you about Rico. He runs with a drill sargent style whistle. If you lag behind, he blows it, then tells you: "Drop and give me 50!" His training regimen, this week, is: run 65 miles a week, 500 sit ups, 500 push ups and 500 pull ups. Here is the part of my post where I get to have a little Whine with my cheese. I'm recovering from knee surgery! And yes, it's taking tooooo long!!! Pre-surgery, a four hour run was my favorite way to spend the day. I am coming back. I've got 50 milers to do and perhaps another 100 miler in me. Meanwhile, it's back to quad strengthening, ice and Rico's whistle. Rico, have I told you today that I love you?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

WII Fit Boxing

Yes, I, Jen's daughter, Angela actually do exist. I haven't been contributing as much on account of the fact that my Mom is really much better at writing than I am. But I wanted to tell you that my roommate, Briton, purchased WII fit and I love it! My favorite is the boxing. And boy are my arms tired! I've also been cooking really healthy food. Tonight is organic chicken, spiced with cajun spicing, broccoli and brown rice pasta, all mixed together. Yum! My cat, her name is 'Baby' will be begging for extras.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

R.I.P. Meredith Johnson 1958 - 2009

What does it say about my life that one of the best, most fun, most riotous, times I’ve had in at least the last decade was at a funeral?

Perhaps not a funeral so much as a Memorial for my dear friend Meredith.

I just returned from Miami Springs, Florida, where a small, but powerful group of friends gathered to honor the life of a gentle, kind soul, Meredith Johnson.

Meredith’s was not an entirely happy life. But she was one of my best friends. I met Meredith when I was 13 years old through my BFF, Susie. Susie is one of the cool people who instantly makes friends with everyone from the bum on the street corner to the City Council members. The thing about Susie, though, was that her Mother made her wear these really dorky glasses that were popular in the 60’s. You know, the kind that start out normal enough, but then flair up at the sides, making the wearer look as though they had a perpetual amused look. One word for them, which I will repeat: Dorky. Meredith did not have a very confident personality when she met Susie at Blessed Trinity Catholic School. She took one look at how dorky Susie looked and thought, “Maybe she’ll be my friend” Little did she know that Susie was one of the cool people. And thus started Meredith’s fold into the community of cool people. Meredith was an honor student. She was on the swim team. She was on the water polo team and she practiced yoga.

You know how you meet certain people and you feel an instant bond with them? I’ve learned that it doesn’t happen all that often in life. But that’s how it was with Meredith and me. Anyone who knows me knows that I like to laugh. A lot. Meredith told me that she liked me so much from the start because my constant laughing always made her feel like she was funny, even if she wasn’t. We became inseparable through our teenage years and into our early twenties. We also had a very tight knit group, which I have come to realize, as life has progressed and everything became about money, careers, family, etc., is a rare gift to be treasured.

When I “ran away” to California from my home town (another story for another time) Meredith had also moved to California. We resumed our friendship there. She didn’t last long in California before she ended up in the hospital with electrolyte imbalances caused by bulimia.

Upon returning to Florida, her life took a not so happy road. She got involved in alcohol, drugs, and eating disorders. And sex - lots of sex. Heck, at least she had one thing right!

Our lives took different paths, as we didn’t have much in common. Old friends would see her around town and report back to me about the sad state of Meredith’s life.

Last May, I was in Miami and I was suddenly struck by a fervent, desperate need to find Meredith. I dragged my husband and sister all over Miami Springs, to every dive bar and restaurant I could think of to no avail. As it turned out, that would’ve been the last time I’d seen Meredith alive. She passed away from liver failure sometime in November 2009. However, she was turning her life around. I came to find out that she was an active member in AA. But it was too late for her broken body to recover.

When two or more minds are joined, wonderful things can happen. And that’s what we did. All the old gang got together and threw the party of the century for Meredith. Suffice it to say that I was this close to convincing Jim to get a tattoo, and just a few sales pitch words away from talking Charlie into shaving his ZZ Top beard. Hey guys, beards grow back. Tattoos? Can’t guarantee anyone a safe removal of my name from their bicep.

Would Meredith still be with us had she continued to swim, practice yoga, become an ultra marathon runner, a surfer, a stand up paddle boarder and a vegan? Probably. But who are we to judge? Every life has value. One of the biggest lessons that all the old gang agreed upon is the fact that especially when someone is down and out – when we don’t feel like associating with them because we think we might catch whatever they have – that is the time to reach out with a smile, a helping hand, food, a shoulder to cry on, or just an ear to listen.

She was my friend. It’s not the end.

Some wonderful philosophers, The Beatles, said it this way:

And now the time has come, so my love, I must go. And if I lose a friend, in the end you will know - someday you’ll find that I have gone. But tomorrow may rain so I’ll follow the sun.

It is with much love, laughter, heart and soul, that I encourage you to follow the sun and reach out to all the lives you touch.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Comic Relief

I leave tonight for Florida to go to a Memorial for a high school buddy who passed away. I may or may not decide to write about it. My gosh you guys, it seems like this week has been hospitals, sick friends, folks passing etc. These are the days of our lives.

So.......just when I was feeling really good about the cute little running shorts I purchased shown in the picture, they really do make me look like a competition cheerleader - quite a feat at my advanced age of 51, I read this post from my blogger buddy The Alaskan Assassin, that made me laugh. I would like to share it with you because 1. We need some comic relief 2. I admire anyone who lives and runs in Alaska.

Some of it may only make sense to the Ultra Running community. But heck, anything that gets a chuckle out of me is okay in my book. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My Neighbor Kevin

Kevin was my next door neighbor for six years. Our front doors were about three yards apart at the apartment complex we shared. There was a very close knit community of us in that complex. We all had the keys to each others homes, we took care of each others animals, we ate pizza together, played dice and watched Lakers games together. And we also surfed together.

One day about four years ago, Kevin was down at the beach, dove into the water head first, and became instantly paralyzed. He can move his arms but not his legs, fingers or toes. Kevin is one of the most inspiring people I have ever met. He goes to Project Walk three times a week, works out in a standing frame, which mimics walking, uses a hand cycling machine and is determined to walk again. He has also become the ambassador of the apartment complex. Everyone loves Kevin.

The night I got back from Catalina Island, I got a call that Kevin was being admitted to the hospital with a high fever. Nothing life threatening, but they are running tons of tests to determine what is wrong.

I stopped by to see him on Monday, bringing all the pictures from the Avalon 50. As I was showing him a slide show I had put together, complete with music, I was feeling embarrassed for myself. As wonderful of a time as I had at the race, there was a big part of me that was berating myself for not being able to cross the finish line of the 50 mile race, and only going 25 miles. Sitting there talking with Kevin, I realized that life is such an amazing gift. Every single step we take, every breath we take, just the fact that we can swing our legs out of bed in the morning, jump out of bed, leash up the dog and go for a walk, is an absolute miracle. I write this story, not to bring you down, but to remind all of us that every single precious moment is to be savored, adored and cherished as a gift from the Divine. Go outside today and take a long, deep breath.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Avalon 50 Mile Race Dropouts-We Only Go Half Way

The Avalon 50 mile race, in Catalina Island, is hands down, one of my favorite races. I have crossed the finish line seven times so far, but due to my recent knee surgery, this year I was part of the newly self-created "Avalon 50 Mile Race Dropouts-We Only Go Half Way"

Let me start out by saying this: I have a whole new respect for back of the packers. I have typically been either a mid to upper/back of the packer, but this year we were DFL (dead freaking last!)

This race runs over 50 miles boasting some of the most breathtaking ocean views California has to offer. This year, Andrea, Kerry and I, started out, flashlights in hand at 3AM. The official race start time is 5AM, but they allow those who would like, to start earlier. Hal Winton, age 78!, has run the race every single time. That's 29 times, folks. He started at 11PM, Friday night. Did I mention that he also has a pacemaker? I bow to the King!

Our plan was to hike to Two Harbors, then take the helicopter back to Avalon, since this is an out and back course. Our great running friend, Michele, planned to start at 5AM, run to Two Harbors and fly back with us.

We had a lovely time in the dark for the first four hours. The cloud cover didn't allow for any moonlight so it was "pick up your feet, pick up your feet" the whole trail, which of course, is uphill!

One of the things that I adore about Ultra Running is the wonderful sense of community and humility you find among the runners. Let me tell you, dear reader, that running 100 miles will bring even the strongest men to their knees crying for their Mommies. When we were around mile 21, I had a sensation inside my knee brace like someone had put hot pepper in there. I finally stopped to remove the knee brace only to discover severe chafing and blistering. The runners that were approaching us from the turnaround were at about mile 33 at that point. Every single one of them stopped to ask me if I needed help. I love these people!

We finally made it to Two Harbors, elated to be minutes (six minute helicopter ride to be exact) away from hot showers and real food back in Avalon, only to discover that we needed to hike another half a mile, then climb a hill, to the windsock where the helicopter lands. There's not much on this island and Two Harbors is even smaller than Avalon. One half a mile may not seem like far, but when you are ready to be done...............

There were 174 finishers. The winner finished in six hours, 30 minutes and the last runner completed the race in sixteen hours and 3 minutes. Another wonderful part of the race is the volunteers. They stand out there in the dark, at night, and hold up the finish line tape for every single finisher. Amazing!

One of the best parts of the entire weekend is this: My BFF, Tom Crull, race director of the Rockledge Rumble 50k, was this years recipient of the "Susie La Soya Feinstein Spirit Award" In November, 1992, Susie was diagnosed with terminal cancer. The doctors gave her 30 days to live. Her response? "Not until I finish my first marathon" Susie went on to complete 22 marathons and 4 ultra marathons, two of them being the Avalon 50 mile race prior to her passing. Susie said "When you're faced with an overwhelming situation, do a bit of grieving, and then figure out how to overcome the challenge"

Life, my dear friends, is a precious gift. It's also a lot of fun! The fun part of the weekend for me? It's that I can still do the cheer move that Angela taught me after hiking 25 1/2 miles! Happy Trails!

Alien Abduction - By the Cyber World Aliens

Hello Loyal Readers! Last week was a very interesting week. The technology gods were not looking favorably upon us. Everything seemed to not work! I'm talking cell phones, headsets, ipods, iphones, TV's, stereos, etc. But most especially, our beloved blog. I was beginning to think that when the aliens abducted us, they left a metal plate somewhere in our bodies!

Thanks to the lovely and talented Dominique, who is not only a published author, and an artist who is currently working on "Project Nomad" (yes, she voluntarily chose to become homeless as an art and research project) but also my step-daughter, we are back up and running at the new address.

As a side note, Angela is starting a new job and will be posting less. Wish her luck!

Until we transfer all the past postings, you can (and we know you want to) go back to to read the prior posts. Thank you all for your loyalty. The adventure continues!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pre-planned Airlift Out Of Avalon 50 Mile Race

Here we are, just a few days away from our "25 mile version" of the Avalon 50 mile race in Catalina Island, wondering, exactly how are the four of us, Kerry, Andrea, Michele and I, going to get back to Avalon from Two Harbors? Of course, there is always the option of running back. Not happening with my knee. Then, there is the more sane possibility of hitching a ride with one of the volunteers. Thus far, nobody has ever accused me of being sane.

Yesterday, I was on the phone with my very dear friend, Tom Crull, who is not only the Ultra Running Stud of Texas, but the race director of the Rockledge Rumble 50k, when he mentioned "why don't you take the helicopter back?" Tom served two tours of Vietnam with John Moore, the owner of Island Express, the wonderful helicopter company which offers shuttles from Long Beach to Catalina Island. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am all about adventure. One phone call later, and it was all set. We will be enjoying the view of the 50 mile runners, weaving their way back through the Island, to the finish line. If they're lucky, maybe we'll drop them some GU.

Posted by Angela and Jen at 3:57 PM 1 comments