Frenetic Fitness

fre·net·ic /frəˈnetɪk/ done very fast and with a lot of energy, often by someone who is in a hurry.

Archive for the tag “family”

Grounded

I’m sitting in the lobby of an Asheville hotel in the middle of the afternoon sipping red wine that’s been chilled a little too long out of a coffee mug so as not to alarm the hotel staff. The small one is upstairs in our room taking a nap. She was up late last night, spending a good part of it watching the birth of a litter of 11 piglets. How did it come to this?

A couple of years back our family chose Asheville, North Carolina as a vacation destination hoping to take advantage of the hiking and mountain biking opportunities. At the time, the young one was just beginning high school and we took a couple of hours to check out the local college campus to continue giving her ideas about what options she should be looking for in a college home. She didn’t fall in love or even in like with the  UNC-Asheville branch, but she did fall in love with Asheville. A year ago we happened to invite a friend of mine along for a trip to a music festival. The subject of college came up and my friend asked if we had heard of Warren Wilson College near Asheville. I didn’t give it much more thought but the small one started researching and soon, we had a request from her to make a visit back to Asheville in the autumn so she could see the campus in person. Long story short, we’re back in Asheville for our 3rd visit because in 143 days, we will be returning with the small one and her luggage to help her start the next phase of her life, making a home and getting an education in one of the most beautiful settings in the south.

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We’re back for a second visit to the school now that they have committed to each other. While she was hanging out, making a few new friends and learning a little more about her future home, I took to the trails. With 25 miles of trail around the 900 acre campus, I had plenty to choose from. I thought I’d go for a run. I felt like I should run. I needed to run. But as my shoes hit the dirt I realized that my head and/or my heart was not in it. My thoughts were racing and I suppose my heart was much heavier than my feet. I found myself watching the flow of the Swannanoa River beside me, trying to find the peace that should be there.

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Isn’t that why I love being outside? Normally, that’s where I find my peace. I watched my feet on the dirt and I had to wonder if she would be here in my steps a few months from now, searching for that peace. When classes are overwhelming, when there are roommate issues, when there is boy trouble,  when her heart feels like mine does right now, will she ground herself in this beautiful creation and find what I have often found there? Will she quench her thirst at the spring of mother nature?

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I hope she does. I dream she does. And that hope lightens my load. So I start running…

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All Over Again?

The other day I asked my spouse if he would marry me all over again. He said “of course”. Really? In spite of the missing toenails? In spite of me sometimes forgetting to take the sweaty sports bras and wet running shoes out of the car on a hot day? How bout if I forget for two or three days? What about the body insecurity? What about the post run breakdowns that may or may not lead straight to Taco Bell?

“Yes.” he says. He’ll take me, warts and all. I have chosen wisely.

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I Don’t Beat My Wife

The other day we’re sitting at a table in the middle of the Little Rock Climbing Center talking to a couple of friends from Ouachita Outdoor Outfitters about how in the world the man and I got caught up in this whole idea of Arkansas Outside. The concept seemed practical a couple of years ago. We were participating in a lot of events ourselves and writing race reports or blogging about them anyway, how hard could it be? We had know idea. It’s brutal. This month I will be spending exactly one weekend sleeping in my own bed. I don’t mean that I spend a single night of a weekend away from home, I mean for 3 weekends in a row, I will sleep Friday and Saturday nights in a lodge room with a roommate, in a tent with my family or in a hammock under the stars.

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Somewhere in between going to, writing about, taking pictures of, participating in and trying to continue to train for races, we try to have a life not immersed in bike grease, dirty chamois or discussions of missing toenails. We often fail.

So while trying to explain the hectic schedule of day-jobs, family life and Arkansas Outside, and to explain how I ended up in this boat that is always in the midst of a maelstrom with my spouse instead of it being HIS project as was initially planned, the man decided the best explanation was one that gives insight into how our marriage works.

“I don’t beat my wife, I just sign her up for 50K’s.”

45K and still smiling

45K and still smiling

The Dreaming

I love quotes that wake me up, that force me to be sentient of what is happening in my life. This morning I saw this quote re-posted on the Facebook wall of a woman I admire and it struck me in a way it never has before.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~Henry David Thoreau

Which then made me think of

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before. ~Edgar Allan Poe

I find myself at the ripe old age of 4mumblemumble5ishmumblesigh still wondering, still fearing, still doubting. I look into that darkness every day and catch myself wondering if the life I lead is the fulfillment of my dreams or is there more? Those thoughts aren’t necessarily bad, we all want things in life, we all want more no matter what we have in the here and now. No, what disturbs me more than anything is that while I wallow in this place of wonder, fear and doubt, I am responsible for leading another soul through this life. My deepest wish for her is that she is able to Go Confidently in the Direction of Her Dreams. How do I teach her to reach for the stars when my feet are so firmly planted on earth?

I hope your dreams are as big as your heart

I hope your dreams are as big as your heart

We Should Do This More Often

Physics at Play

Physics at Play

We should do this more often: another installment in the file of parenting failure

August in Arkansas is usually a month long experiment in discovering just how much heat, humidity and triple digit misery a body can take. Even the most avid and experienced runners force themselves to run in the middle of the night to avoid even a hint of the sunlight that brings the heavy, damp, breath and soul sucking humidity out to steal everyone’s energy. Even the “autobreeze” producing cyclists tend to ride earlier and later than usual. This year we’ve been blessed, or cursed if you were in some of the flooded areas I suppose, with higher than average rainfall and lower than normal temperatures. For the first time in 40 years, 40 years, the upper section of the Buffalo River has been floatable in August.
Floating the Buffalo River is kind of a quintessential Arkansas experience. When the small one was even smaller, she fell in love with flatwater kayaking when we took her to a lake that had a marked kayak trail. We bought her a small stable vessel of her own and we took her out on local rivers and creeks to paddle and play. But she also played softball at that time. Anyone who’s played competitive youth sports knows that the experience typically takes over your entire life. So for years, we didn’t have a weekend free to take her all the way up to the Buffalo so she settled for quieter rivers close to home. She’s kayaked the Ouachita River and played at Rockport ledge, she’s paddled the Little Maumelle and Big Maumelle Rivers countless times but here we find ourselves with a kid about to graduate High School who has never had the experience that is practically a requirement for any good outdoor adventure loving Arkansan: floating the Buffalo. She has hiked and backpacked along and above that beautiful river gorge. She’s played in the feeder creeks and skipped rocks on the river but has never paddled it. We consider this a major parenting failure on our part.

Where it all began

Where it all began

So we planned to take her, and the plan failed due to work duties that couldn’t be reassigned. So we planned again. We would be renting one canoe since our tandem kayak was loaned out and might not have been the best choice for this river anyway. The small one would take her old faded yellow Loon out for the day. The Loon had already made one trip to the Buffalo with another friend earlier in the week so we figured the boat would show the small one the way and keep her safe.

Grown and still paddling the yellow Loon

Grown and still paddling the yellow Loon

I like to paddle. I like to paddle alone though. I like to be in control and know that if anything goes wrong, it’s my call on how to correct it. Getting in a canoe with the man after many years of NOT being in a canoe with the man was quickly recognized as a poor decision, by us and pretty much everyone around us as the small one said “next time you two are getting kayaks”. Smart girl.
We put the boats in the water at Steel Creek with a group so large that we almost tipped the small one over trying to launch her off a beach that had very little room to maneuver between all the vessels waiting to get out. She recovered well, looking back at us and saying “Strong Core” and we managed to get in close behind her. Along the way we stopped to enjoy the color striped river bluffs, we built a few cairns while watching others jump into the deep pool under a bluff while we ate a lunch of roll up sandwiches and chips.

JUMP!

JUMP!

And we beached the vessels to hike to Hemmed in Hollow, site of the largest waterfall between the Appalachians and the Rockies at 192 ft. We had seen Hemmed in Hollow before on a Thanksgiving backpacking trip and knew it would be worth a few minutes of hiking to see if the increased rainfall was helping the fall flow more than usual too and to have one more memory of its beauty etched on our brains. I coerced the small one to come lay beside me and look up.

Mother-Daughter Chaco love at the falls

Mother-Daughter Chaco love at the falls

She’s a good sport.

Fun and Tomfoolery on the River

Fun and Tomfoolery on the River

Back in the boats, the trip seemed to pass quickly after that and before we knew it the signs for Kyle’s Landing, our take out spot, appeared around the bend.  Our adventure was over, at least the wet part of the adventure and the small one took the opportunity to dry her feet off on the drive home.

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“That was so much fun, we should do this more often”, she said. Goodbye Buffalo River, until we meet again.

Wordless Wednesday

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Pieces of You

This week we made a visit to my sweet Baboo’s parents. When deciding what we needed to pack, the first things mentioned were bikes and the stand up paddleboard. The folks live on a small lake and have great mountain bike trails within a few miles of the house too so it makes sense. The man loves to play outside and every visit we have with his family involves playing outside together and stories about playing outside when the man was but a boy.
As we sat on the dock watching the sun skip across the smooth green water, sipping cold beer in the heat of an Alabama afternoon, stories were shared of long ago sailboat races on the lake. Reminiscences of the Sunflower sailboat that still sits on the dock, waiting patiently for a stiff wind and a brave soul to guide her across the lake, inspired us to leave the easy laziness of dockside chatter to lend ourselves to the freedom of waterborne vessels. My father-in-law, AKA Grampie, joined me for an easy stroll from one end of the lake to the other, chatting about the beautiful house on the opposite side of the lake that he admires from his boat and chasing herons together.

Paddlin' with Grampie

Paddlin’ with Grampie

Each time we visit I get to hear stories that give me insight into why my man loves to be outside so much. There are stories of driving through the Canadian Rockies in the camper on the back of an old truck. There are stories about the move up from the camper to the Winnebago that seemed to be constantly in need of repair which just sounded like a good excuse for father and son to go sit out in the driveway to me.  There are stories of camping with family, camping with friends, seeing the country from inside and outside the windows of those campers, watching the countryside roll by.

And then there are the stories of the water. The stories of watching his dad ski in Montana, wearing a wetsuit because he just needed to be out there skiing regardless of the cold temperatures. Part of our visit included some time picking up items that had either been in storage or needed to find a new home due the parent’s recent move and downsizing from two homes to one.  One of the items the man really wanted were the skis he used when he was a boy. You see, Dad instilled a love of being in and on the water in him that lasts to this day and those skis remind him of happy times on the lakes of his childhood.

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They look like skis but they’re really planks of memories.

His mom is a memory keeper too. On a pocket door in the house there is a measuring stick for the Grandkids. She keeps her memories in sketches and photos, boxes of homemade and store-bought cards, small paintings and crafts that she’s collected over the years. She also kept the first planter she bought for the man’s bedroom some 51+ years ago and now, it finds a home with us, ready to hold a plant. Or maybe something else.

The Measuring Door

The Measuring Door

At some point toward the end of our visit, the man turns to me and says “Don’t you get tired of hearing these stories over and over again?” “No”, was my reply. You see each and every story, good and bad, funny and sad, gives me a piece of you I didn’t have before.

Why December Makes Me a Bad Person

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I’m not really a bad person but December always manages to lead me to question whether or not I possess any goodness or grace. My lack of “Christmas Spirit” when others around me are happily humming Have a Holly Jolly Christmas is somewhat worrisome to me. Have I always been so cynical about the Holidays? No, I was not always this way. Am I the Grinch in reverse, loving every hustle and bustle until now, when I’m old enough to realize what bills and debt feel like? When I have seen enough of the grit and grime of the world, when I’ve seen those who profess goodness and light to show just how dark their hearts truly are, have I allowed life to destroy my Joy and shrink my heart and make me hate those Whos down in Whoville? Or do I only think that I’m Grinchy because every year I have to fight the urge to tie antlers to my dog’s head and rename her Max? Evidence of my Grinchification:
I refuse to shop Black Friday. I find it disgusting. But I didn’t always. I had my fair share of 4 a.m. wake ups on Black Friday. When the small one was very small and our town had a Disney Store, I would be in line at 5 a.m. to get next year’s Christmas clothes and decorations for half price. But watching people push, shove, fight and argue with each other not to mention how shoppers treat the staff in the stores, I’m totally over it. I don’t need any more crap no matter how good a deal it is.

I will not participate in the annual cookie swap at work. In fact, I’m torn between being disappointed and relieved that we no longer have any sort of holiday celebration at all in my little work circus. Too many different faiths, not enough women? I mean for a while we blamed it on that time we had to call an ambulance for the person who went in to anaphalactic shock during a potluck due to an unknown ingredient, but she doesn’t even work here any more. God love her, she was fine just so you know. But we never had potluck again.

I hate the bell ringing at the grocery store. I don’t begrudge the Salvation Army. They do incredible work and as a community, we are lucky there are organizations willing to work for those less fortunate. What I hate is that I’m disorganized and go to the grocery store a lot. And I feel guilty for passing up the bell ringer. I hate the bell ringer because he makes me feel guilty for having more than I need and not sharing it more often. I feel the intense need to empty my pockets and then berate myself all the way home if I had cash on me and didn’t put it in the bucket. I hate math and I have to do math to figure out how to spread the giving out over 16-18 trips not counting if I encounter a ringer somewhere other than the grocery store. So it pisses me off when he’s there the day after Thanksgiving.  How screwed up is that?

I hate Christmas music. Let me qualify that, I hate pop Christmas music. I like a good old classic hymn, like the songs I grew up singing in church. I have the CD collection that might get played on the 24th and 25th to prove I don’t really hate all Christmas music. I just wish I didn’t have to listen to it for 2 MONTHS! 12 Days of Christmas people, that’s all I’m asking, limit the christmas music to 12 days. Maybe even the month of December is understandable. But please for the love of sweet baby Jesus in the manger, do not start the 24 hour a day 7 days a week Holiday Jams at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. I’m begging.

I like lights. No really, some years our house looks like something out of Christmas Vacation.

Is your house on fire, Clark? No Aunt Bethany, those are the Christmas lights.

I was gifted with one of those cool contraptions that you can plug multiple strands of lights or yard ornamentation into and it will make them dance to the music. Really. But I don’t feel like putting it out every year. This year the sum total of Christmas in our yard so far is a pair of shephard’s hook flower pot stakes covered in greenery, lights and ribbon. And I only put those up because people keep tripping on the first step of our sidewalk and it gets dark early these days.  I don’t need the UPS man breaking a hip on my lawn.

Why am I worried about the UPS man? Because I do enjoy buying presents.  And because I hate shopping in stores this time of year, Amazon becomes my good friend. Hence the UPS man cometh. But every year I say I’m not going give as many gifts because I’m not good at it. Do you have one of those friends or family members who always seems to get you just the right thing, even if you didn’t know it’s what you wanted? I’m not that friend. My gifts are probably often returned or regifted. I know for a fact that some gifts I’ve given my husband have become “lost” in his office. Or repuporsed to the exclamation “It isn’t that I didn’t like what you got me, it just works better for such n such or so n so.” Really. I have a feeling that this is part of the downward spiral and before long I will be giving out restaurant gift cards and checks. If they’re lucky. It could be those handwritten coupons for “hugs” if they aren’t so lucky.

I do not like Christmas movies. When I was little I couldn’t wait for the claymation/ stop motion animation season to begin! I loved them all. I had a crush on Burl Ives. Not the real one, the snowman one. I loved Abominable. I truthfully hoped that Hermey would one day achieve his dream of becoming a Dent-tist and that Clarice would someday figure out what a good reinhusband Rudolph would make. Now, I avoid them. My favorite Christmas movie is now The Lion in Winter. How do you not love a family so dysfunctional that upon entering the Christmas Court the Father yells

What should we hang first, the holly or each other? ~Henry II as played by the magnificent Peter O’Toole

Or this classic show of marital bliss

Do you know what I’d like for Christmas? I’d like to see you suffer.

Ah, Christmas. It brings out the best in everyone. And this is why December makes me a bad person. Happy Christmas, ya’ll!

Out of Focus

I’ve lost my focus. I’m sure it must happen to everyone this time of year with all the hurrying and scurrying. The hustle and bustle of getting a house, a family, a workplace, sometimes a neighborhood, all up and ready for the Holiday Season. It wears on me. I’m not much one for any part of it except the buying of presents. I do like buying presents. Every year I say I’m going to do better but I don’t. Every year I say I’m going to focus on what really matters and not about the stuff we want to own. Having said that, I would also like to say that while shopping for gifts for our kids I did manage to focus on one thing that really matters to me: making my husband laugh. And so I did.

Magic unicorn

The Unicorn’s Super Power is Laughter

Dating Mountain Bikers is a No

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And then I heard the words no mother wants to hear from her teenage daughter: “I should hang out with mountain bikers more often.”
Okay maybe not every mother fears this but I do. Dating mountain bikers is a gateway drug to BMX riders. Then itll be motocross. Next thing you know she’ll be riding on the back of a Fatboy with a guy who wears a shirt that says “If you can read this shirt, the bitch fell off.” Do I want my daughter to go all Pink and end up with a Carey Hart? Maybe that would be okay. Or pull a Cher in Mask and end up getting her heart broken by Sam Elliot wearing riding leathers? I do not.

My husband and I both mountain bike. Our 22 year old son rides as well. Many of our friends are involved in the sport in some way. But the small one, she has never been a fan. We tried a couple of times to get her tires on the trail unsuccessfully. There were tears involved and I wasn’t the only one crying. Why all of a sudden did she decide that mountain bikers were cool? Oh not because of the riders racing the single track, mountain biking in the pure form, but because of the crazy stunts people who ride bikes are sometimes willing to do on them. We had this argument after seeing Premium Rush. She asked about a friend of ours who was a bike messenger in San Francisco. “He did stuff like that?” she asked. “I want to be a bike messenger.” My response, “Hell no, Vinnie’s crazy. You’re not doing that.

How do I stop this? I’m pretty sure that “hey fellas can you rein it back just a little bit? I don’t want my daughter to want to date you just yet…” will work. On the other hand, maybe the fascination will turn into something else. Maybe she’ll be willing to try her pedals on the dirt again, which would make me happy.

Note: Evolution Airbags provided the stunt bag for the event.

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