Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

It's time for another NaNoWriMo, so time to do some writing.

But yesterday I had a moment with one of my fourth graders.  She has been struggling with writing.  She says "I need help..." an awful lot and keeps fighting to come up with transitions and capturing thoughts.  It has been a frustrating process for her.

She brought in her writer's notebook from 3rd grade to show me.  It's a standard composition book that she covered with family photos and inside were writing assignments and stories she wrote the previous year.  She looked at me with sad eyes and said, "See, I used to write a lot.  Why is it so hard now?"

It was clear she was in pain over this.  I looked at her and said, "You know I was a professional writer and wrote a weekly column for seven years.  There were times when it was easy and weeks where I struggled hard to come up with an idea and everything I wrote sounded lame or cliche.  That's part of being a writer.  Sometimes it's just flows as if it will never end and sometimes it feels like you could never put two words together.  That's sort of the way of writing."



She smiled and I gave her back her journal.  I pulled out mine and showed it to her.  I showed her that sometimes I make lists, sometimes I write, sometimes I outline and sometimes I draw pictures.  I reminded her that what makes a writer is not so much writing when it's easy but more of sticking with it when no words will come.

It was one of the few days in recent memory where she was able to focus on her work.

As I approach wrimo this year, I need to remember my own advice: being a writer is when you stick with it when no words will come, particularly when you're staring at hitting your daily deadline.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Finish Stronger?

The motto of the Tufts 10k is: Start strong, finish stronger.

I don't know about stronger, but finish I did.  My first mile was great.  I knew I'd have to run/walk the race and the first two miles I settled into run 5 minutes/walk 5 minutes quite comfortably.  I hit problems at mile 2 starting with an asthma attack.

Now, I'm usually OK with just walking through an attack after using my inhaler.  It's nothing new and I expected it a bit.  What I didn't expect was the one thing that complicated it at the water stop a quarter mile later.  I grabbed my water and tossed it down - bad move.  It went down the wrong way and I ended up having a pretty significant coughing fit.  Grabbing a second cup after that, I knew I'd need to walk a while more.  I got to the point where Memorial Drive goes under Mass Ave and started running down the ramp only to have my lungs say, "Hey now what do you think you're doing?"

So I walked to Mile 3 and tried a jog with the same results.  I realized at that point, the rest of the race would be pushing a walking pace to the finish.  That was also the point I realized I was dehydrated as well.  It was hotter that usual and I had purposely laid off water before the race so I wouldn't need a pit stop figuring I'd make it up at water stops.  My fingers were swelling up, so I would raise them over my head and shake, take two cups of water at stops and just keep moving.  At Mile 5, a bunch of volunteers from Berkley School of Music were at the water stop dressed in tuxedos and offering cups of water on plastic bin covers doubling as trays.  A lovely laugh and touch in that "seriously, another whole mile to go?!" point.  It was just what I needed at that point.

I came down the street between the Public Garden and the Common with my eye on the "Finish" banner.  I had walked probably 5 of the 6.2 miles and I had made it.  My official time was 1:46, and I'll take it.  It was a "bad" race as these things goes but a good one in that I faced my fear and did it.

Now I can make a plan to run.  I guess I'll become an afternoon runner as I leave so early for work that running in the early morning dark may not really work for me.  But I can and will run so next year I can finish stronger.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Start strong?

Today is the Tufts 10k.

If you are out there and see a woman struggling along wearing either of these shirts, as I haven't decided which one yet, shout out a little encouragement.  I could probably use it.

I haven't run since August due to an aggravated C8/T1 nerve where the neck meets the spine that left me curled up in pain and whimpering.  I have been in physical therapy since the beginning of September to deal with this and it's finally subsided to a point where I have been cleared to run and have gone out for "runs" (read: walks where I occasionally burst into a canter and then settle back into a walk).

The past few days I have waffled about doing this but it comes down to this: I'm scared.  I'm scared of being hurt or injured again.  I'm scared that I can't do this anymore and if I can't do this, then what do I do?  I'm scared of so many things including being the last person across as they break down the finish line.  Which is why I need to do this.

There will be no support crew for me.  No Pi holding up a "Run for the cookie" sign at the finish for me.  No husband filming me crossing the finish line (even though I always ask him NOT to film it, just snap photos because no woman wants to see herself jiggling like a bowl of jello).  No running buddies or friends.

Just me.

It's all so scary, but it's important that I do this.  To face my fears and remind myself that, even if I walk the whole way, that I am capable of doing this and so much more.

Today is a day to "start strong, finish stronger" according to the Tufts 10k motto.  I don't know about starting strong, but I know when I finish I will at least feel stronger.