Sunday, May 25, 2014

Poetry & Remembering Beginnings

I've decided to gather all the poetry I've written over the years in one collection. As I'm editing the poems on this rare, rainy Tucson morning just before heading out on a long bike ride, I stop at this one; one of my favorites. This poem has never been accepted for publication but it is always my favorite. I love remembering how much I love to read and how it is an impetus to travel and explore. A perfect motivator just before a ride.

Literary Connections 

Second grade Plattsburgh, New York
Mrs. Farrah teaches us to read without moving our lips at Oak St School
I am one of the kids who can do it.

Fifth grade, Mr. Oliver reads Harriet the Spy to the class.
After school I read Little House on the Prairie.

In the middle of Eighth Grade my family moves to Rye New Hampshire.
Ms. Balz teaches me grammar; I learn the difference between your and you’re.

In Tenth grade I read Dreiser in English class and fall in love with literature.
I read Welty and Cather and imagine being western.
I read How Green is My Valley
Because I like the name.
I learn, you can go back and have what you like if you remember it well enough
In Twelfth grade Diane and I change the lyrics to a Simon and Garfunkel song
As we ride a Greyhound bus to New York City.
I meet my soul mate and we read Gone With the Wind on stormy winter evenings,
We meet in the library, and talk about our books,
He shows me his world of nature and hiking,
Of Love

We go to Boston, the computer museum, the White Mountains, Prom and

After high school I watch The Outsiders,
Soda Pop quotes Robert Frost nothing Gold can stay
during a sunset
I read more Frost, he says that my life is a pursuit of a pursuit forever
And begin to understand interminable longing.

I travel to Denver, Philadelphia, Boise, Portland, Fairbanks, and Missoula
Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paris, London, Geneva

Listening to Jackson Browne sing about maps and angels
you've had to hide sometimes, but now you're all right
and start to believe it

Allison and I listen to Lawrence Ferlinghetti at Philips Exeter Academy
It is the first time I hear a poem spoken by its writer
we sneak into his private receptions
This is the first time I see a real poet, up close.

I read Walker, Lessing
I’m searching for my mother’s gardens, too
I try to write my Golden Notebooks.

I remember a line from a book that spoke to me once
you can go back and have what you like if you remember it well enough
I remember
and what I remember becomes a story
and a poem, and a book. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

What Is Home - Thoughts On Home, Place, Schwinn bikes, and Dogs

To me home has always been an outdoor place. 

I grew up in upstate New York where there were snow blizzards; where my siblings and I bundled up and spent hours outdoors playing in snow piles and making snowmen. In the summer we played in Lake Champlain. And while I don’t recall indoor places as much as outdoor places, I remembering riding my green Schwinn with its banana seat and handlebars with streamers, and sitting on the back porch drying our hair at the end of the day by sitting in the sun. 

There are places I wanted to be my home as an adult. 

I hiked four days on the Long Trail before moving to Vermont. I lived in northwestern Maine and skied and hiked the mountains, I thought this might be home. 

I return to these outdoor places in my dreams and remember conversations with friends and worrying about beavers as me and my dog swam in the White River off Route 4 near Killington, Vermont . 

All these places were surrounded by trees, lake, rivers, and bugs. 

I remember standing outside my front door with a landscape filled with sage and rolling hills, and this place was home; and was home for five year. After I walked my dogs on the trails by this home I smelled sage and freedom. This place, a chosen place, was nothing like my childhood in the northeast. 

Now I hike in a desert place, a rocky, hot, prickly landscape with 3 percent humidity. This place is not home but teaches and I learn from loss and mistakes.

Home is geography and memory. Nothing here reminds me of my past homes. However, I can close my eyes and remember the lake, the ocean, family, and the eastern mountains. 

Goethe wrote that all writers are homesick and searching for home. I guess I’ll always be a bit homesick for New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Colorado but home will always be where my dogs are.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Flat Tire - March 2013

The red hazard light on the dashboard lights up and my car slows from 75 to 70 to 65. My heart beats races as my car slows and I pull off into the desert dirt. I pray and cry, alternately. I sit on Interstate 10 westbound eight miles from Marana Town Limits and 20 miles from my apartment in Oro Valley. It is 3 a.m. I wait. And wait and pray.

I have never had a flat while driving on a highway. I’ve driven thousands of miles on interstates across I-70 from New Hampshire to Indiana and on to Colorado. I’ve driven countless county roads looking for trailheads and campgrounds, and on dirt roads throughout the northern Maine looking for adventure. And, never a flat tire. This cold, winter morning is my first flat in my brand new Subaru.

As the tow company mechanic finally arrives to help, I should be arriving to the half marathon starting line in Mesa, but instead, all my fears of death and dying are running through my head. I should be boarding the nice, safe, warm bus filled with anxious runners but instead I watch on the sidelines as a man jacks up my car and places the small tire on.

As I watch him put on the tire questions continue to run through my head: Why did I get up at 2:30 am for this race and drive by myself? Why do I need – why do I feel compelled – to have all these adventures? Why by myself? Why didn’t I just go up to Mesa the night before? There are answers to all these questions, complex, complicated answers but I don’t want to think about them right now.

After the tall, quiet mechanic replaces the slashed tire with the donut I am back on the road, but in the wrong direction: back home. The sun has yet to rise over the Catalina Mountains as I drive back south. I call my mom and tell her what happened, once I know that I’m not shot, maimed, or in any danger.

Perhaps the answers to these questions rest in the fact that I don’t think of consequences to my actions and decision. I’ve always been like this, and maybe it’s time to change.

Maybe I need to have a nice, safe life living within the confines of the place where I now live.

Maybe I need to start playing it safe.

Maybe it would be nice to have a calm, predictable life with no sense of adventure.

No Way!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ironman 70.3 St George Race Report

Getting There 

Tucson to St. George Utah: 527 miles - 10 hours in the car. 

My friend Kristin agreed to come with me for my Ironman St.George 70.3 race. We left on Friday morning. It was a fun road trip with a drive by at the Hoover Dam.

Quick stop at the Hoover Dam
Forgetting that Utah is Mountain Time, we missed the pre-race festivities and were too late to see Triple Threat teammate Collin Swenson before the race.

In Transition
After registering and dropping off the bike at Sand Hollow Res there was just enough time to eat and chill out before sleeping.

I’ve been doing this long enough that I’m not as nervous the day before, and on race morning. I was looking forward to the course since I didn’t train on it. 

On Race Morning - Kristin & Kristen
Sometimes I like to go into a race and experience it firsthand that day. It’s not a way to race well but it makes triathlon an adventure and that is what I wanted today.

Since my wave started at 7:45 I was able to watch Andy Potts come out of the water. He was a full minute ahead of the next athlete. He was quick in transition and out on the bike before anyone else was close.

It was hard to get started in the just under 60 degree water. Athletes are not allowed in the water until 2 minutes before the start. A huge disadvantages to Arizona triathletes who can’t practice cold water open water swimming.

It took a solid 10 minutes to find my groove. I was kicked in the eye which stunned me for a few seconds. Towards the end as I sighted and inhaled I swallowed water leaving me gasping for air for a minute. However, I love open water swimming, really I do. The water was spectacular and loved looking left to see the mound of rock– so pretty.

Out of the water and onto the bike. It was hard to get motivated the first few miles; I was feeling sorry for myself about a crappy swim. The course is gorgeous and I loved the hills, at first.

I took off my bike computer before leaving Tucson and I wasn’t wearing a watch or Garmin. I’m not sure if this was a benefit or detriment. I just wanted to enjoy this race. Once we started climbing in Snow Canyon the Ironman motivational signs kept my mind off the climb. I kept thinking I should have biked Mount Lemmon. I’m not sure why I didn’t train on Mount Lemmon but I won’t make that mistake again. I was able to watch the end of the men’s run because the bike course parallels the run in one section. Boy, are they fast and in that heat, I couldn’t believe how great they looked. 

I felt good on the bike and when I was just a few miles from transition I flatted.

I’ve never had a flat in a race. I amazed myself that I didn’t lose it. In any other race I might have but this race I had a different attitude. I wasn’t in “racing” mode and I’m not sure why. So when I flatted I was calm. I took of the BACK wheel (lol) when a relay racer who was finished with the race asked me for help (participants can assist other participants). I took the help. I knew I could replace the tube but he did it faster than I ever could have. Turns out, he was the Iron Cowboy

Finished the bike and headed out on the run and saw Kristin on the sideline. I was happy to see her. The run was tough and I walked a lot. 

The End:

I was happy to finish strong. I want to race that course again. I want to train for the hills and “race” the course next year. It was such a great course and I loved the scenery. 

On the way home Kristin and I drove to Zion National Park. 
In Zion National Park
We didn’t have enough time to take the bus farther into the park but I want to make time next year to spend an entire day hiking. Next year I will drive home via the Grand Canyon and stay there for a full day. 
St George loves their Ironman Visitors

Next year I will also come for the full day before the race. I want to see the pros and listen to their pre-race panel and walk around the town. 

What I Learned:

I need goggles that don’t fog. I’ve raced and trained in them and I know I just need to get new ones; (sigh).

Train on terrain harder than the course; if possible.

I will race it again next year - for sure!

Here is a video recap of the race. I'm in it at 9:26 minutes, walking, ugh! It was hot and hilly.