Year 32

Friday was my 32nd birthday, and in the weeks leading up to it, I had been thinking a lot about everything that happened since my last birthday.

 

We got engaged.

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I ran the Twin Cities Marathon.

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I coached our girls cross country team to the highest state finish in more than 20 years.

We got married.

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We went to Hawaii

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We bought & started building a house

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I got pregnant.

Hannah won nationals and broke the national sophomore record.

We took our wandering road trip.

I finished the first draft of the novel I’ve been working on since 2011. 

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I know it is unrealistic to think life will slow down, and I don’t want it to, but I would also feel okay about having fewer major life changes between now and turning 33. Yesterday was a quiet birthday. Nick and I went for a run at the beach before work, and out to a delicious dinner after work. Kids come back to school on Monday, cross country season starts, and by early December, we’ll no longer be a family of two. 

This weekend was such a perfect way to end the summer that even though I’m excited about some new things I want to try in my classroom and the cross country season, it feels a little like I’m being ripped out of the house this morning. 

 

Cross Country Running

We’re home!

I decided not to bring my laptop on the road, and I do not have the patience for typing on a tablet.

But, now, we’re home and safe and glad to see our cat. So glad to eat healthy food, in fact, that I had a kale salad and beet juice (I thought it was berry juice!) for lunch.

I felt pretty good for most of the trip and we were able to run in a bunch of new places. There is nothing that makes me feel more like I’ve really explored a town as much as an early morning run. Since we decided to document our trip, I actually arrived back home with a lot of pictures from these morning explorations.

 

 

first stop: Sutton, WV, where I worked for the Kerry Campaign in 2004
first stop: Sutton, WV, where I worked for the Kerry Campaign in 2004
morning run through Wash U (and then Forest Park) in St. Louis
morning run through Wash U (and then Forest Park) in St. Louis
my favorite trail of all time: the Levee Trail in Salina, KS. So peaceful and open.
my favorite trail of all time: the Levee Trail in Salina, KS. So peaceful and open.
Rapid River trail in Rapid City, SD
Rapid River trail in Rapid City, SD
post-run view of our Cody, WY hotel
post-run view of our Cody, WY hotel
Rankin Ranch in Missoula, MT
Rankin Ranch in Missoula, MT
crisp morning along the Yellowstone River in Billings
crisp morning along the Yellowstone River in Billings
Cedar Lake, Minneapolis - magic running place
Cedar Lake, Minneapolis – magic running place

 

post-run ice cream on the terrace at UW-Madison with my college teammate, Britt
post-run ice cream on the terrace at UW-Madison with my college teammate, Britt

Before our Wandering Days Are Over…

On Wednesday, Nick and I are taking off for our last big epic-family-of-only-two adventure. We’re re-vsiting a lot of sights from our individual and collective pasts, hoping to do some hiking, easy running, picnicking, photographing, and laughing. We’ve got audiobooks and fully-charged electronic devices and the following itinerary:

Sutton, West Virginia (where I worked as a field organizer for the Kerry Campaign back in 2004)
St. Louis (I haven’t been since I went on a father-daughter trip to the Arch with my dad as a little kid. I’m also really looking forward to the drive through Kentucky, the chance to eat some BBQ, and a farm-to-table breakfast before we head to…)
Fayetteville, Arkansas to visit my cousin and her husband, see their new house and play with their new puppy
Salina, Kansas to see my aunt, uncle, and other cousin
Valentine, Nebraska where my college roommate once let a mouse out of her pocket in the middle of a Chinese buffet while doing field work for her evolutionary biology PhD (she really wants me to ask everyone we meet if they know the mice people, but I’m a little hesitant to reveal this connection)
Rapid City, South Dakota en-route to Mt. Rushmore
Cody, Wyoming en-route to Yellowstone
Missoula, Montana to see my mom’s best friend
Minneapolis, to see my brother and eat our way through the Twin Cities
Madison, Wisconsin to see my college teammate and hopefully revisit the Nepalese restaurant I’ve been dreaming about ever since I first tired Roti when I lived in Madison back in 2005
Chicago, to see my college roommate and eat as many of my favorite Hyde Park foods as possible
Columbus, Ohio to see Nick’s old stomping grounds from his Ohio State post-doc days
and, finally, home again. Just in time to go check in with the cross country girls before the season starts, do some teaching workshops I signed up for back in the spring, and get ready for the school year.

I’m going to try to post photos, if nothing else, along the way.

Any food, running, audiobook, or oddball Americana sight-seeing suggestions welcome!

Nearly-Summer Exploration: Greensboro, Durham

On Friday, I’m heading to Atlanta for work (haven’t been there since a college track meet where I spent most of the trip trying not to get sunburned at Emory’s track), and I’ve been thinking about all the adventures on tap this summer. I’d like to write a bit about the rambling, exploring part of life (and running) that I love best. Nick and I also have a road trip planned for later this summer and are hoping to post photos and maybe some observations from the road.

While I don’t want to write about the kids I coach out of respect for their privacy, I did have a wonderful adventure two weekends ago at New Balance Outdoor Nationals. I headed down with my DMR and superstar 2-miler. I was a little bit worried about being tired from the flight/coaching/meet adrenaline, but as has happened so many times in my coaching life, the meet itself provided more than enough energy. Aside from successes on the track, some of my favorite moments from the weekend were connecting in a more adult-to-adult way with a graduating senior, talking about motherhood with one of my athlete’s moms, and getting to spend a half day with my Oiselle teammates in Durham.

Allison, Ali, me pre-run (thanks for your selfie-skills, Allison!)
Allison, Ali, me pre-run

I’m (obviously) not going to blogger conferences or meeting people through my blog, but I have met a lot of really thoughtful, dedicated, and kind women through Oiselle. Ali, Allison, and Ellen were no exception. Before we met up, I was a little worried I’d be slowing them down and that spending the morning with people I’d only ever communicated with in 180-character bursts might become strained before it was time to go to the airport. Since they’re fast, I’m particularly slow right now. I’m sure I did slow them down, but the 8-mile run we did flew by. I had my first biscuit (an egg sandwich on a biscuit is pretty much the most perfect thing a pregnant lady who just ran 8 miles could imagine), and we sat talking about coaching, competing, motherhood, moving, ice cream, goals, and even, strangely, mutual acquaintances for hours.

Durham is beautiful. Lush green, densely forested running trails, biscuits available at nearly every restaurant. I’d have loved to have more time to see Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Sometimes when I travel I get this antsy, nervous feeling that there is so much more of the place I’ve been still undiscovered. Having a rental car on this trip let me explore what Greensboro is all about a bit more than the track and the meet hotel/convention center revealed (on a side note: I came up with a brilliant plan to find a safe, if yuppie-filled, neighborhood while traveling: google the nearest Whole Foods), eat Krispy Kreme donuts for pre-run fuel (can’t be running on an empty stomach these days), and get nostalgic for family vacations of my youth. (Why, I’m not exactly sure since we never went to Greensboro and I don’t even remember ever going to the South, but something about the clean strip-mall suburbia of a lot of newer cities reminds me of the suburbs of Kansas City where I first lived, or of the towns we stopped in on the way to or from college visits all those years ago.)

In Atlanta, though I’ll be there with my boss and will be attending panels each day, I do anticipate having some time to myself to explore. I don’t mind eating alone (much prefer it to networking dinners), and hope to leave feeling like I’ve seen more than Olympic Park and the CNN Headquarters. Any suggestions on routes to run, things to see, places to eat? I likely will not have access to a car, and will be staying right downtown, but I’m resourceful and unafraid of either cab fare or public transportation if for the cause of thorough exploration.