Sunday, August 28, 2011

this girl's back in town.

6 weeks! Oh, I know. I have been a crappy blogger.  And I could think of a whole realm of excuses (and I do, actually, have them lined up) but actually - that's ridiculous. I haven't blogged all summer because for a great number of reasons my attention has been elsewhere, with other people.  It's been good to take a break - I've consciously spent less time on FaceBook and I've even sold my beloved iPhone 4 because I felt I was just spending too much time fiddling about with it (I don't care how BlackBerry tries to sell itself, those phones aren't nearly as sexy as iPhones.  Just what I need).

And while it's been really good to spend the time away from my screen and with lots of good real people, I have also missed the real friends I have out there in the blog and FB world, and I have missed the contact and accountability that comes from keeping my blog and reading yours.  So within the next week or so (give me a chance, both kids are starting new schools so there is an ocean of labelling to be done) I will be back with you all, finding out what you've been doing.

And so - if I wasn't on FaceBook or messing about with my iPhone, what did I do this summer?  The highlight has to be my trip to Oregon.  Way back in January, I asked on this blog what you would suggest I do to celebrate this year where I turn 40 and Jen immediately emailed me and invited me to run the Cascade Lakes Relay with herself and her husband and their team.  My immediate reaction to this invitation was "yes" and so, on August 3rd I set off for Portland.  The trip was wonderful from the first day to the last.  My first hosts, Zach and Jen, went out of their way to welcome me into their home and show me the sights of Portland before we set off for Bend on the Thursday evening.  There I met the whole team (Left, Right, Repeat) before hitting my bunkbed.  Our van was the first to start, and so by 8:30 we were in Diamond Lake in the cold morning, waiting for our first runner to start.  And then the whole event just - happened.  It was an intense, fun, funny, tiring, emotional roller coaster - there was such a relentless pace to the whole thing and yet there was so much down-time.  The physical proximity of us all in the van meant we had in-jokes from 5 minutes in, the support we all showed each other during the legs was incredible.  There were so many highlights but things I will never forget:

Deana and I at the start
Van 1 - ready to go! (Sean, Kevin, me, Jen, Zach and Deana) 
Look at that heel strike! 
Waiting to finish our first leg (me, Jen and Deana)
Oh coffee - you're almost better than sleep..
Thank you Jen...
I'm out on that dock - this was how we waited for Van 2 to finish.. 
  • starting on my first leg (unsupported by our van as it was off-road) and being warned there were rattlesnakes but they apparently "are more scared of us than we are of them".  This is the kind of stuff I tell my kids and even they don't believe it...  It put a spring in my step for sure.
  • running the night-time leg in the cold under the enormous starlit skies of central Oregon, with the marshalls following us on horseback;
  • having a shower and a flushing toilet at the high-school gym where we could sleep for 2 hours;
  • having an egg mcmuffin and a coffee on our way out to start our last legs - never has junkfood tasted SO good;
  • Jen jumping out of the van and keeping me company on the tough last leg.  Only 4 miles but it was so hilly and so hot and so high - it took everything I had not to stop and walk.  
But really - the thing I will never forget is my team and the way we were together.  I wanted to have an unforgettable experience this summer and I got one. Thank you Zach and Jen and everyone else on Team Left Right Repeat.

And on the tail of this amazing experience, I got to spend 3 days with another blogging / FaceBook friend, Emily - another great intense experience of friendship and connectedness.
Emily and I 
People sometimes say that you should do the things that you fear: while I wouldn't say I feared going to Oregon at times I did think it was kind of insane to make such a huge trip, away from my kids during the summer vacation, to spend time with people who I had only met once or twice and whom I knew mostly from their blogs.  But it was an incredibly memorably, warm and life-enhancing experience - the kind of thing that proves that it is right to do things that you are afraid to do, to take risks, because the rewards can be so incredibly wonderful.

Which leads me neatly into the next thing I'm doing that frightens me - I've taken the plunge, I've paid my fees - I am taking my advanced diploma in personal training and it starts next week.  Now if I had the occasional twinge about my Oregon trip, this enterprise completely frightens me.  I wake up some nights feeling there's an ice-cold fist around my heart..  I am afraid of so many different things - I have never done anything practical professionally (I did a BA and MA in English and have footled around for years with various other things), I am afraid I'll not have any clients, I'm afraid I won't be a good enough trainer ...  the list is fairly extensive.  But fundamentally it really comes down to a fear of failure.  I'm not sure how to get over that (advice would be really welcome) but I've decided to park that fear, for the time being, and carry on regardless.  Feel the fear and do it anyway.  Jump.

So watch this space - next week I'll tell you what happened. And in the meantime, I'm going to catch up on your blogs.  A bumper sticker I read recently said "It's only one-six billionth about you".  I'll take it to heart.