Thursday, April 19, 2012

Le Carpe Diem

Turning 40 this year (mid life crisis?) brought the concept of my own mortality to the forefront. It is like a switch has gone off....shit, life is short.

That brings me to thinking about my parents. My mother often says Carpe Diem in a precious Quebecois French accent. She truly means it and lives it to a T. My brother is the same way, too. Take a risk. Work hard and play hard. I value these qualities in them.

Mom in 1966.
This pictures portrays her personality so well.

I inherited my mother's streak for adventure. I love this picture of her skiing in Europe in 1960. She spent three weeks there with her brother, Roger, traveling and skiing. I love hearing the stories of that easy it was to travel, it was so affordable back then, people were so friendly. (I have that kick ass wool jacked she is wearing in my closet. I think she made it).

Mom skiing in Europe in 1960.
The Matterhorn in the background!

One of my favorite Carpe Diem moments is when my 70 year old dad, suffering from arthritis in his back, got up to the plate at my wedding to play baseball (we had a pot luck wedding and played sports....Seth I are nontraditional as you can tell). He did not care if he wrenched his back. He got up there and swung like a champ. My brother and I spent HOURS with him playing catch and catching pop flies as kids so this moment was special.

My Dad in 2000 at my wedding.
I love the Red Sox hat and cigar.
Photo credit: Adam Walker

As I am getting older, I am feeling more adventurous or wanting to get out of my comfort zone. Not to say that I have not been on many adventures in my life. I have backpacked all over the country with Seth....The Canyonlands, Zion and Bryce Canyon, Yellowstone, Olympic National Park, the Grand Canyon, I have hiked the Long Trail, and I have almost completed the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire and in New England.  (Oh, and don't forget motherhood).  But, the ultra marathon I am running in 4 weeks takes the cake. Mentally. I am going to have to push myself like I have never done before. I am so excited to try something new, to go to a place I have never been emotionally and physically. And, what I am REALLY excited about for that day is to be around so many athletes: people who are running races for the first time, intermediate runners and those that are fine tuned machines. I look forward to the energy of these people on the trail, helping each other if needed, chatting, meeting new friends, learning running tips, etc. My mantra for that day will be my mom's frenchie voice in my head saying "Carpe Diem."

This past weekend, I ran 15 miles up and down a mountain and then a little more on a woods road after that. That is the furthest I have ever run. In a week and a half, I will push it further and run 20 miles. And then two weeks after that, 30 miles for the Peaks Ultra. I want to take more risks and try things that are out of my comfort zone. Why not? We are not here forever and it seems like this really hit home for me this year. Don't dwell on stuff...just make a decision and try something new. If you fail, say fuck it and do it again or move on. There are too many things to experience before we are gone. Steve Jobs said it perfectly:

"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

Now get out there and challenge yourself.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Aida the Artist....

My 4 year old daughter, Aida Mae, is currently my favorite artist on this planet. I am completely amazed when she comes running out of her room with a new picture. I love watching her think about what she is drawing. Sometimes she stays silent the entire time, sometimes she tells me a story while drawing, and sometimes she asks me what I would like her to draw or if I have an new ideas. Seth and I don't have this artistic talent, so it must have passed down from Grandpa Coffey who is a spectacular woodworker and artist. (I take that back about Seth. He takes one look at the woods and he can create a beautiful hiking or mountain bike trail. That takes artistic talent for sure.) 

It is fascinating to watch what interests her and what kind of person she is growing up to be. Our (Seth and I) interests are almost all based on being outdoors....our hobbies of hiking mountains, volunteering for the Green Mountain Club, trail running, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Aida, thus far, has shown more interest in art and creating fairy lands and imaginary worlds all over the house. I ask her to go for a hike in the woods now and she says "not now, I want to draw" or "i want to build a fairy house with my Polly Pockets." What???? Come on kid, really? But, I understand that and I am accepting of this. I want her to focus her energies where they are at the moment. No forcing of activities but letting her grow where she is at that moment in her sweet little life. 

I have faith that we will get her backpacking at some point! We will have to find a portable art table that would fit in a backpack I guess. :)

Below are a few of her gems. Enjoy! I will post more of her art in the future.

"Effie Trinket" as my friend, Chris, said.
(She has never seen Effie but channeled the spirit of The Hunger Games somehow.)

"Happy Fairies and one cross one."

I love the layers of earth at the bottom: lake, fish, grass, and worms.

"Mumma, this is a magical place. See the Bumblebee dog?"

She brought this one home from school this week.
That woman in the middle is intense!

An art show she put on last her room.

"Super happy friend"

"Double Decker Princess Castle"

I like to call this one "The Exorcist."

"Eyeball Spaceship"

Family Portrait (even our doggie Cinny included!)

Pure awesomeness. I need to frame this one.

"Halloween Family". Aida drew this one in the car on the way home
from preschool on Halloween on a cupcake napkin.

Monster eats Tinker Bell!!

Packing peanut multi media  :)

Weird sideways hair people
"Mumma, I love you". She spelled Mom "OMM".
the artist 

Monday, April 9, 2012

20 Mile Trail Race...Just Around the Corner!

Five weeks until my Peak Adventures trail race! I am getting really excited for it. Last June, basically my first season running, I finished the 10 mile Fun Run that Peak Adventures put on. This year, they did not offer that option so I decided to run 20 miles...two 10 mile loops. Last weekend, I went to the race course and did the 10 mile loop. My winter training has been paying off! I felt great! This was my first trail run of the season and I felt like I had never left last season. I am in much better shape and feel as though the 20 miler will be a great challenge for me. My longest training run will only by 15 miles but, hey, that is all I can fit into my life right now and I will be so excited just to be a part of the day. The 20 miles is actually an unofficial race because the actual races start at 50 miles and go up to 500 miles this year! I can't wait to see the runners who will be doing FIFTY 10 mile loops! Wow. There will be 50, 100, 150, 200 and 500 mile races. Andy Weinberg, the race director, just wants people to get out there so when I told him last fall I was up for a 20 miler, he said sure! Andy is quite inspirational in the ultra-running/ultra-race community....he finished a triple iron man last year. Yes, Triple: 7 mile swim, 340 mile bike ride, 79 mile run. And, that was not the first time he had done that and finished. SNAP. He is also the co-founder of the Spartan Race obstacle race events. A very cool person and I feel lucky to know him.

My training included three things:
  1. Following Hal Hidgon's half marathon schedule, with a few of my own tweaks to it so I could add more miles
  2. Visits to Poulin Performance and Rehab for physical therapy and postural restoration to get my hips in neutral alignment to prevent hip and knee injuries.
  3. Strength training, also provided by Poulin Performance and Rehab.
Here are some pictures of last year's race and training for this year's race:

Picking up my bib last  year.
Andy Weinberg, race director, in the background with black hat.

2011 race!
2011 race

March 2012 10 mile training run at the race course.
Green Mountain Trails, Pittsfield, VT
March 2012 training run...about to get started!

Bridge blown out by Irene last fall.
Make-shift bridge works fine.

Karyn, my running partner for this year's race!

UPDATE: I received an email from Andy today stating he just opened up a 30 mile race and has pretty much convinced me to run it. I can do it. I need this challenge right now. I will keep you posted! Cheer me on!