Spectator Sport

Waking up this Sunday felt odd to me, as it should have—it was the first time in six years where on the day of the Marine Corps Marathon, I slept in. I’d run the race four years in a row, 2002 through 2005, with varying results. And while I’d gotten my best performance yet in 2005, I’d decided that with the chaos of the newly expanded field that year (upping the number of registrations from 22,000 to 30,000) that until things were under control, I’d find other races to run. In 2006, working for AIDS Marathon meant that I was out on the field from 5am to 5pm; hardly a restful break from MCM. So this year, everything would be a little different.

I’d remembered last year that the Metro was an utter madhouse even an hour and a half after the race began; Pam, Brent, and I had set up a cheering station at mile 2.5 before heading into Crystal City to establish our new base camp there, and that was negotiating with a pair of bicycles to boot. Oof. So when Laura and I made plans to meet at Crystal City, I decided that three hours would be plenty of time to get to our spot and avoid the chaos.

Oh, stop laughing. Yes, I was still being naive. The Metro was crushed full of people, well beyond capacity as every last millimeter was taken up by human flesh. Saying it was an uncomfortable ride was an understatement, but eventually we arrived and began to watch for our friends—in our pace group, Andreas, Dave, Dvora, Erika, and Paul were all running, plus I was planning to keep my eyes open for good friends (and fellow trainees) Carla and Karen.

Marathon GlimpseEven as a spectator, the large numbers of runners meant that watching was nothing short of chaotic. The one half-decent picture I managed to snap was actually pretty late into the day, if only because earlier the throngs of people meant you couldn’t get a good shot of the scene; just a mess of limbs and technical fabrics moving by in a blur. It also meant it was hard trying to see our friends. I don’t think it’s a small coincidence that the two we never saw (Dave and Erika) weren’t wearing their old AIDS Marathon singlets; being able to pick out that bright yellow made life much easier.

Being at the point on the course where miles 22 and 23.5 (or so) intersected meant it was interesting to see the different form that runners were in. Some people blasted through both parts of the course with the greatest of ease, while others were clearly out of fuel, stumbling along as best they could. One poor runner got a sudden, massive cramp right in front of us and came to an immediate stop with a look of pain on his face. After a minute of massaging it, he moved on, slowly and awkwardly at first but then some small amount of grace returning with time.

In addition to seeing most of whom I’d hoped to (Andreas, Dvora, Paul, Carla, Karen) there were a couple of nice surprises as well; Karen Kelly, whom I’d worked with at AIDS Marathon, was trucking along with such ease you’d have thought she did a marathon every day. Seeing Beechy (an AIDS Marathon staffer who transferred to the Chicago office earlier in the year after the DC office closed) was another nice surprise; the glee on his face as he gave me a big hug was heartening.

It was a fun, if more than a little tiring day. I’m jazzed about the Outer Banks Marathon on November 11th, now, especially with another trip to the podiatrist under my belt yesterday. Fingers crossed, this could be a good one.

Never Too Late

I stayed up last night to finish off tonight’s book club selection (Smoke and Ashes by Tanya Huff), and when I went to bed Charlie was already fast asleep.

It was raining outside, a steady pouring that we haven’t had for so very long. And in that darkened room, the only sounds being the water coming down and his breathing next to me, all I could think to myself was how very, very happy I was. There was just something about the juxtaposition of the two sounds that made everything right.

Have you ever found yourself really waiting for just that right combination? It’s funny, the more traditional “yes, this is what I really wanted” is probably something along the lines of a fancy night out and a great dinner. But the more realistic one (at least for me, but I am pretty sure that I am so very much not alone on this) is, I think, along those lines.

Lying down next to Charlie with one arm around him, I kept hearing the chorus of a quiet Jonatha Brooke song go through my head. (Which as I learned this morning, she wrote as a birthday gift for her husband.) When it comes to the big big picture? I’m really content.

Church bells ring at odd hours
But dinner’s always ready at 8
And the jasmine floats in from the mountains to our window
And it’s never too late
For love

Ka-boom Ka-boom

I upgraded my personal website as well as my reviewing website today, pushing them both from WordPress 2.2 to 2.3. And everything on my personal one blew up. Which is sort of apt, because I’ve been dealing with a pain in the neck for a while, now.

In this case, the pain in the neck is a literal one; I’ve been having some neck and shoulder stiffness/soreness/tension for the past week or two. Today, though, was the absolute worst day. It honestly felt like moving my head was difficult at best, at one point in the afternoon, and I began to wonder how the heck I was going to drive home. Fortunately we’ve got a wonderful accountant who is also a licensed massage therapist who worked on my neck and shoulders a bit today, and I felt better enough that driving was once more an option.

Warm Comfort FoodSince then I’ve been using a heating pad, having some comfort food in the form of miso soup and some chocolate mint truffle tea (somehow warmth just seemed right to be inside as well as outside), and just trying to take it easy. I took a little medicine as well, which honestly doesn’t seem to have helped that much. But I’m going to have a little more work done on the neck and shoulders at work tomorrow, and if it’s still bothering me after that I’ll book an appointment to get some heavy-duty attention paid to it.

Meanwhile, the personal website was almost at the point where it was back in running order, but just enough was still broken that I finally gave up and installed a different look-and-feel. We’ll see what I think of it in a day or so; for now it’ll do, and that’s all I really care about. Getting through to the next day, that’s the current motto. We’ll see how it all shakes out tomorrow, right?

(Oh, and yesterday was the return to running after two weeks off. A little bit of soreness in the foot, so if it persists it’ll be back to the doctor who will no doubt give me a jab of cortisone, which sounds pretty nice. Today, though, was fairly amusing because even though I used the elliptical religiously for two weeks, my legs were definitely knowing that they had not really run in all that time. Yeesh. I felt like I’d run 18 miles on Sunday, not 8.)

Radio Contact Has Been Established

I feel like that’s what I should be hearing whenever I update my website, these days. It’s been one of those everyone-all-at-once sort of months; nothing terribly huge, per se, just lots of little things that threaten to overwhelm my schedule.

On the bright side, after this weekend, things slow down a bit. I already had my final long-training-run of the season (a 22-miler) this past Sunday, which went pretty well aside from a relatively recently problem with a foot cramping (and some nasty heat). I did head off to the podiatrist to talk to him about the foot, and he diagnosed it as a strained muscle in the arch of my right foot. So right now I’m not running (as to let it heal) but fortunately the elliptical and swimming are both doctor-approved forms of exercise so that I don’t lose too much conditioning. I’m hoping to start running again on the 21st but like so many things I will play it by ear.

The other big time sink about to vanish is the Small Press Expo, which is this weekend. Even though I’m no longer first or even second-in-command of the show, it does take up a lot of my time. The nice thing is that the one big thing I’m in charge of (the Ignatz Awards) seems to be all under control, and more importantly it means I can get rid of all those boxes of books that were submitted to the jury (we’re auctioning them off) that are cluttering up my office.

Early Light(Oh, and my picture project continues to move towards its conclusion. Some days I get irritated with the whole, “Oh great, stop and think of something to photograph” aspect that it can create. Other times, like very early this morning, I find myself glad that I have my camera with me as I got to see the morning sky over a church in DC. The shot may not come out quite as I’d wanted, but with each photograph I still feel like I’m really learning.)

There are a bunch of things I kept meaning to write about, like going to the opera for the first time ever (it was nice), or an overly-friendly employee at the CostCo (the fine line between being outgoing and flirting and how to recognize the difference), or the terrifying person who really was flirting with me at a Baja Fresh (next time I’m faking a seizure). But after long days of running, or e-mailing jurors, or scanning and scanning and scanning in covers and excerpts, it’s just felt like there’s no real energy left. Things definitely came to a head last week when I finally ended up crashing (energy-level that is) and having to stay home because I had finally hit empty.

So while I’m looking forward to SPX this weekend, and Karon’s birthday party at the RennFaire next weekend, and the marathon in November, and continuing to spend quality time with Charlie, I’m also looking forward to some quiet time. Scaling back on running (although I am in taper mode now anyway so that’s happening), actually getting some reviews written (I literally have three half-written reviews all begging for an ending), doing a little redecorating (new bookshelves in the living room), and just sitting down and reading.

Speaking of which, I must say that one of the things I’ve loved doing the most lately is reading the two Jaime Hernandez Love & Rockets re-issues over the course of the past couple weeks. Dave introduced me to the comic back in 1991 down at JMU and it was pretty revelatory. The new reprints are beautifully designed, an easier size to handle, and most importantly they’re just full of amazing material. I thought I’d read Maggie the Mechanic over the course of a month or so, but a week later I was picking up The Girl From H.O.P.P.E.R.S. to head right into. Gilbert Hernandez will be at SPX, so I’m looking forward to getting copies of Heartbreak Soup and Human Diastrophism from him with which to do the same thing. It’s so great to re-discover an old favorite.

Anyway, yes, I am alive. I really will try and update a tiny bit often with something of vague interest. In the meantime, you can imagine me looking at the lovely gray skies and cool temperatures outside, sipping some green tea, and just giving a sigh of relief because I can finally push my office chair back without smacking into boxes of books. A small victory, but a great one.

365pictures: Days 301-330

In the words of a certain hair band, “It’s the final countdown!” (I’ll spare you the guitar riffs.)

None the less, it’s very exciting. 35 days to go and—fingers crossed—no skipped days.

As per usual, a couple pictures I’m really happy with. One or two, not so much. But on the whole, I can look at these photos and think that I’ve learned a lot in the last 330 days.

Anyway, if you’d like to view the whole set to date, you can do so at this link. Back in early November for the big wrap-up!

5th AvenueMonument and BasinNot the Olympic FlameBurning BrightMind the Bump
Farmer's Market EggplantYellow 5 • Blue 1Leftover SpiralsThrough My Grandfather's EyesSuch Perfect Wings
Temptation WaitsSomething Radiant This Way ComesUnderground GlowAirborneBuild Your Own Solar System
(Not) FrozenEye, CameraReady To Go!AnticipationBento Lunch -- 2007-09-21
LampsStrataSoftPumpkin SeasonBlack White Orange
Raspberry DeliciousnessDew DropGot Nuts?National Law Enforcement MemorialSolar Power