Monday, December 29, 2008


I’m not big on curveballs: I like having a plan and sticking with it. But in the last week, I’ve been thrown for a loop several times. The main culprit? One snowstorm after another here in Portland, a city woefully unable to cope with any inclement weather other than rain. We had snow off and on for a week, then starting Saturday, December 20, our world got whiter and whiter. Roads rapidly became impassable, and we were basically housebound for a week except for a few sledding forays (that's Jack with the kids, above). Our babysitter lives across the river in Washington so she was unable to come to work for the three pre-Christmas workdays. I donned my mommy-hat; writing and deadlines would have to wait.

As I’ve admitted many times: I’m not cut out to be a full-time mom. If you’d told me on December 19 that I’d be without childcare for the next nine straight days, I would have been panic-stricken. Yet, much to my own surprise (and delight!), I got caught up in the raucous, messy fun of it all. Sure, I had my meltdowns, just like the kids, but I also enjoyed our kids’ aimless ebb-and-flow. I especially loved sleeping in until the kids woke us up and snuggled, a luxury I never enjoy because of early morning workouts (which were impossible or idiotic due to closed gyms and dark, slippery roads). I couldn’t chart how time passed--it all slid by in a boisterous blur.

My run on Saturday was another longer-than-expected holiday surprise. We had finally braved the roads to visit some of my husband’s relative up on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. I wanted to run 10 miles to prep for my January 11 half-marathon, but was clueless about the area. Will, a cousin’s husband, mapped out a loop that we figured might not long enough. Oh, how wrong we were!

About six miles in, I started to realize I was going to be running for longer than 10 miles, and I wished I’d brought along more than a single Roctane for energy. It had been raining nearly non-stop, and my hands were getting stiff from the 38-degree temps. When I hit a familiar-to-me intersection at about 9.5 miles and realized it was still at least two miles to the cousin’s house, I consoled myself with two daydreams—that Will would realize his mistake and come get me or that I’d hitchhike if fatigue overwhelmed me. Instead, desperation, frustration, and the cold fueled my fire and my pace quickened. I ran the final 4 miles—yes, the loop ended up being 13.4 miles long!—much faster than normal.

Have no doubt: I gave Will plenty of grief about sending me so far. But at the end of the day, I was proud as punch that I’d persevered through an unexpectedly long run. It was exactly how I felt about my out-of-the-blue long stint with the kids. Maybe my life should contain more unexpected turns.



Carolina John said...

Hey, great long run! I did the same thing in Raleigh a few months ago when my planned 8 miler turned into 9.5 miles. and I don't know my way around raleigh.

You guys have really been blasted around portland lately. Glad to see the sun again? oh wait, today you're getting a blast of warmer rain. have fun!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sarah,
Surprise -- no kidding. I'm a fellow Portland runner who enjoyed, cursed, skated and then sloshed my way through runs the last several weeks. I knew it was time to head indoors (and on the treadmill) when I contemplated screwing machine screws into my kicks to keep me from sliding. Good times -- rain never looked so good. ;)