Archive for December, 2013

The Christmas Tree

Posted on December 27, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized |

In 2007 when I moved back to the states, I showed up on my mom’s doorstep with a suitcase and two dogs and not much more to my name. Christmas was only a few months away, and I had nothing to give.  So I wrote a Christmas story about my brother and sister and me, a true story of the Christmas I was compelled (coerced might be a better word) to give up my pacifier.  I printed it on fancy paper, and gave it to my family for Christmas.

A couple of years later, I wrote a different Christmas story and gave it as a gift again.  This time, not because I couldn’t afford gifts, but because it was so much fun the first time around.  That story, “The Christmas Tree,” includes my brother and sister-in-law, my sister, my mother, and my three nieces.

I hadn’t read it since that Christmas in 2009 until earlier this week, when it came into my head unexpectedly.  I thought I would include it here, a Christmas gift to you.

The Christmas Tree

It’s a story about a quest to find the perfect tree.  The events unfolded within may or may not be true.

Merry Christmas.

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The Bravest Runner

Posted on December 20, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

barefootrunner

By the time the 5K was over, word had spread about the young girl in stocking feet.  Sobbing, she crossed the finish line without her shoes, her mother trailing not far behind.  Her coaches saw her coming from across the line, where they stood holding finisher’s medals, waiting to crown their girls.

What happened? Her coaches surrounded her, concerned that she was injured.

It took awhile before she could stifle the tears enough to tell them.  Blisters. Painful blisters bubbled up on her feet about a mile from the finish line.  She could hardly go on in such pain, and her mother told her she could stop if she wanted to.

Not her.  She was too close and had worked too hard, had been looking forward to this race for weeks and couldn’t possibly stop now, so close.

She took off her shoes instead and ran a mile in her socks, crying all the way.

A coach hugged her tight. If you can do this, she said shaking her head, you can take anything life throws at you.

My hero, the bravest runner at last Saturday’s Girls on the Run 5K. I hope I grow up to be just like her.

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Hill Repeats, or why dog poop can be your new best friend

Posted on December 13, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

steep-grade

Carrie and I are at it again. Another half marathon, another training plan under way, working toward the Austin half marathon on February 16. We are using the same training plan that got us through the San Antonio Rock ‘n Roll half marathon just a few weeks ago.

Which means we start with hill repeats.  Temple Hill.  The nearly half-mile, pretty darn steep monster hill we conquered last time around. Only it doesn’t feel like a conquest. It feels like an initiation.

Monday. Four to five short hills were on the schedule. Half way up Temple Hill, or the equivalent of six lampposts.

We braced ourselves at the bottom, walked in circles, mentally preparing for the trek. I leveled my gaze on the ground in front of me as we started the first repeat. We chatted two-thirds of the way up, counting lampposts.

On the second repeat, I noted objects to guide me. Look for those markers, and I don’t have to count. A rust-colored sign at lamppost two, a screw in the middle of the sidewalk between lampposts three and four. A pile of dog poop at lamppost five.

I grimaced when I first saw it. Some poor soul had already imprinted his shoe with it, and I was immediately angry. What kind of moron let’s their dog poop smack in the middle of where people walk?

By the third repeat, I was breathing too heavily to be angry with the pile or its owner’s owner.  I remembered it was there, looked for it, ran around.

By the fourth repeat, I was almost glad to see it, sitting there near lamppost five, not so far from the end.

By the fifth repeat, I actively sought it out, raised my head in anticipation. Why is it taking so long to come into view? Is that it up ahead? No, that’s a leaf. Where is that darn poop?

Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, there it was, like an old friend waiting patiently for my arrival.  I was never more happy to see something so foul, so repelling, yet so close to the finish that I wanted to sing. Instead, I breathed deeply and smiled in relief as I crossed the line.

That wasn’t so bad, we said as we bounced down the hill, instinctively avoiding the pile. We did it, we sighed. We reached our goal.

***

Tomorrow is Girls on the Run of Bexar County’s Fall 2013 5K, the culminating event for our season, where our girls get to experience first-hand what it feels like to finish something they’ve worked for 10 long, hard weeks to achieve. The excitement is palpable, among the coaches as well as the girls. We hope that the confidence the girls gain when they cross the finish line travels with them to every other area of their lives, for the rest of their lives.

I know they are nervous going in. If I could offer them just one bit of advice, it would be this.  You don’t have to embrace the dog poop you encounter on your path, but you don’t have to fear it either. For all you know, that pile of poop could very well be the harbinger of joy and relief, of much better things to come. Step around it. The finish line is waiting.

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Transformation

Posted on December 6, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

butterfly

I felt like Gulliver, standing in the gym packed with kids and waiting for the Girls on the Run coach.  Part of the team was already there sitting on the floor, heads bobbing together over someone’s homework while they discussed the story problem laid out before them.  I tried to appear present but disinterested.  The last thing I wanted was for them to ask me for help. I’ve always hated story problems.

We spotted each other across the gym at the same time.  She locked her eyes on me and wouldn’t let go. I smiled, at first.  She was so cute, a toddler with bouncing hair, standing there in her little dress, arm outstretched and finger pointed at…something.  I glanced in the direction her finger demanded, but saw nothing of interest.  I tilted my head quizzically as she started to run, straight at me, finger still pointing.  On the end of her finger was a lump. A rather large one.

A fear greater than the one of story problems overtook me. What was that on her finger? Would she really have the audacity to wipe it on me? And why me, of all the people in here? Should I run, grab her by the wrist in the nick of time, divert her attention with something shiny? Did I have anything shiny? Before I could make a logical and ethical decision, she stopped inches from me.  Her eyes had not left my face as she ran, and, although I struggled to retain my composure, I wondered if she sensed my alarm. She smiled widely and raised her arm toward me.

“Look,” she said proudly.

I braced myself and looked. A small, black butterfly perched on her fingertip, its wings quivering slightly.

“A butterfly.” I was relieved and astonished. “Did it just fly up and land on you?” I asked.

“Yes!” she beamed.

We both stared in silence at the butterfly dawdling comfortably on her fingertip until it decided to fly away.  She looked back up at me, smiled again, and ran back in the direction she came from.

How strange, I thought, that she chose me to share such a wondrous thing with. How strange, and how lucky.

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