April 24, 2014

I just graded tests. During spring break.

I had five that I didn't finish before I left on Friday last, and my freshmen were getting restless for their grades, so... Yeah.

Otherwise, today has been my laziest day of break so far. I went to practice, of course, but I basically just rolled out of bed and went- threw on layers of gear (it was cold and windy), put a hat over my ratty hair, and called it good. Some days, that's just how I roll. I went grocery shopping after practice looking the same way.

After that and a load of laundry, though, I found myself with nothing to do. I started scrapbooking some of my high school stuff. I'd actually had it all in an album, but I'd done it while I was still in high school and it was really sloppy, so I'd wanted to redo it for a while. Today became the day to start. I got all of my ninth grade photos and other things (race numbers and news clippings from track, mostly) done. I may do the tenth grade stuff after I write this entry.

Doing it reminds me how glad I am that I was the geeky kid with the camera because it's really cool to have a record of my teenaged adventures. I think it's especially true now because not all of my classmates are here on earth anymore. I don't have a lot of photos of Ben- just a few from track and XC- but I have a lot of Dan, especially from our junior and senior years, and I want to preserve those memories.

There are also a lot of pictures of Jay and I, and I suppose I want to preserve those memories, too; it's nice to see us the way we were before things got so complicated. There's even one picture my mom took of the two of us at breakfast the day after we met. That's when we really became friends because it was the day after a ball at West Point- which I spent largely without a partner because I was still so shy and awkward at that point- and he told me if he'd seen me, he'd have asked me to dance.

I tend to think of my high school years- especially when I'm thinking about Jay, or any of my brother's classmates, or Sibling himself- as a unique time for all of us because it's the time before the war. We're all dreadfully young, of course, but there's that other innocence, too.

I always say seventeen was the last year before everything.

I'd never go back to being younger- I don't know anyone my age who would- but sometimes it's good to look back on all the times we had.

April 23, 2014

First of all? Have some of this:

Source: Tumblr

It's a shame I won't get to see the coach I made friends with yesterday for a few weeks because he said Bayern was going to win today, and I said no chance. I don't gloat about much, but Real? Yeah. You all know I gloat about Real in multiple languages.

I'm SO happy for them, and I hope they do even better in the second leg. It's a hard road to the final, but I believe they can make it. A por La Decima!!!

Meantime, my track team is working towards some titles and trophies, too, but today we had an easy day since we had a meet yesterday. Plus the junior high kids had a home meet, so our athletes stuck around after practice to help officiate it. We ordered pizza and devoured it in the in-between. That was a lot of fun.

I was clerking the meet to begin with, but another volunteer showed up wanting to do that, and informed me as I was in the middle of lining girls up for the hurdles that it was his job now. I didn't put up a fight about it, but I did have a delayed reaction to the abrupt way he'd spoken to me; as I was walking down towards the finish line to find something else to do, I got a bit upset about it.

That's the result of childhood bullying, I suppose (and adulthood bullying, too, but that's another blog entry). Sticks and stones don't scare me at all, but words will often hurt me.

He turned out to be nice after that, though, so it's all right. I stuck with TC and did finish line work so I didn't just sit idly by the whole time. I also ate some of the brownies TC's mom made for the volunteers at the finish line. That's a win.

April 22, 2014

Somehow I got over my ridiculous shyness long enough to make friends with one of the other coaches at the meet today. This isn't something I usually do- and not just because I'm shy, but because I'm one of the youngest coaches in the conference (I'm also one of the only female coaches). For years, I was at least two decades younger than any of the rest, but this guy who's about my age has been making appearances for the past few years. We finally exchanged pleasantries during our last meet. During this one, I decided to say hello and have an actual conversation.

I quickly discovered he's a footie fan- a Liverpool fan, to be specific, and that's acceptable- and we bonded over our dislike of Barcelona.

I still don't know his first name, and he doesn't know mine, but... details. 

The meet went well, for the most part. Got a bunch of athletes qualified for States. My voice is basically gone from cheering for the 4x400 relay- because it was a battle- but I wouldn't have it any other way.

April 21, 2014

Could today have been anymore perfect?

Marathon Monday. Patriot's Day. Spring break. Seventy degrees and sunny. All of it was glorious.

As planned, TC and I hid Easter eggs all over the track before practice. We had our athletes find them for their warm-up, and it was awesome. I mean, what's not awesome about plastic eggs full of candy? It was a fun way to start a week that is about the athletes who give up their vacation time to come put in the work.

We have a meet tomorrow, so we spent the practice getting prepared for that. Here's hoping it'll be another triumphant one.

We wrapped up just about the same time Meb Keflezhigi was winning in Boston. And how awesome was THAT???

Source: NBC

He ran an amazing race- with the names of last year's victims on his race bib- and he won. And then the last American to win it hugged him, and he cried- because after 26.2 miles and all that emotion, how could he not??? And the Star Spangled Banner was played at the finish line. That was unforgettable.

I'm so proud of him- and of Boston, and New England, and all runners, and.... yeah. I'm just proud.

I was planning to spend my evening watching marathon highlights and generally lounging around, but Sunshine texted me to tell me he was in town, so of course we had to go have a beer and talk. We wanted to go to this one place that's got a killer deck 'cause it's so nice out, but they were closed, so we ended up at our usual haunt. That's all right, though, because they make delicious flatbread, and you've got to have carbs with your carbs. Obviously.

Hanging out with Sunshine is always great because I don't talk to anyone the way I talk to him. It's a product of being essentially the same person in two different bodies; we understand each other, and we look at things in similar ways, and there's nothing that's off-limits between us. Not all friendships are like that.

I really don't think my day could have been better. I love it.

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

I have had a delightfully low-key holiday. It started with Mass this morning, which was lovely. The priest took a moment to acknowledge what a beautiful day it was, too: sunny and something close to warm. After such a long winter, we really do consider that a blessing.

After Mass, I made myself some food, channel surfed, and generally relaxed. Then I threw on my running shoes and put in a few miles of work. Since I was sick all last week- even on the nice days- this was the first time I've gotten to run with capris leggings and a t-shirt. It felt good.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, after all.

I think an Easter run is going to become a tradition for me.

Tomorrow TC and I will ransack the candy aisle at Walmart, hide Easter eggs around our track, and keep the holiday fun going just a bit longer. That'll be good, too.

April 19, 2014

I was at a track meet for the better part of the day, so I got enough sun and wind to redden up my cheeks and the bridge of my nose. And create an explosion of freckles.

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with my freckles, but that's another story.

The meet went really well for us. A slew of personal bests led to a win for both the boys and girls. I was impressed, too, with their character. They shook hands with the other athletes at every start and finish, cheered one another on, acknowledged each other's successes. Winning's just the icing on the cake after a day of competition like that.

My father texted me during the meet to say that his family is coming to dinner for Easter. He said he knew it was short notice, but I was invited to.

I feel like an awful daughter for turning him down.

But I never have time during track season, and he knows it. I haven't had time since I was twelve years old. I've always had practices or meets on Holy Saturday, and early morning practices on Monday. It's the same for me as a coach, and it's too much to drive six hours round trip from here to the old hometown on Easter Sunday.

I haven't done it since before The Divorce.

I admit there is also some measure of avoidance there. It's unfair to my father, and I know that, but spending time in his house is too hard. I should be old enough to handle seeing another woman in my mother's kitchen, seeing her daughters' pictures beside mine... but I'm not. It's not even that I dislike The Girlfriend, but those things just still seem so wrong.

I wish they could sell the place. Then it would be easier.

But it'd still be a six-hour drive during track season, so...

April 18, 2014

I didn't write yesterday. I came home with a splitting headache and basically lay in a crumpled heap on the couch till my laundry was done. Then I went to bed.

The day started out good, though. And by that I mean it started with me finding New Guy and gloating- in Spanish- about Madrid's victory. He told me not to talk to him and to go away, and various other things that caused people to stop and try and decipher what on earth we were discussing. I was amused. There might have been skipping.

I'm mature.

It was a tough day after that, though, because of the headache I had brewing, and because my students were a bit unruly. I actually almost lost my temper with one class- which is rare- because so few of them showed up prepared. That happens in the lead-up to spring break, though.

And, hey, now we're on spring break! I can't entirely wrap my head around it because I have to coach a track meet tomorrow, but that's how my life goes. Since I was twelve, spring has been track season, and so I've only had a vacation from school- never from the sport. I'd never want a vacation from the sport.

Spring break practices- basking in the sun, ultimate frisbee, capture the flag, sprint pyramids in the rain- are some of my favorites. They were when I was an athlete, and they are now.

TC and I are going to get discounted Easter candy and make an egg hunt for the warm-up run on Monday.

That's going to be awesome.

Also awesome? THIS:

Source: Buzzfeed

It's a pizza cake, you guys. A pizza cake. Apparently, it's made in Canada.

Someone go to Canada and get me one.

April 16, 2014

Source: Tumblr


Oh, God, what I wouldn't give to be in Cibeles tonight (well, early morning their time) to celebrate winning the Copa del Rey. Alas, I have to content myself with watching the coverage on live stream.

I knew my team could do it, though.

All day, that's what I was saying to the other footie fans- staff and students alike- at the high school. They all know I'm Madridista, so they expected me to keep the faith with my team. I'm not sure they all believed it was justified, but IT WAS!!! And I love it.

New Guy caught me in the hall to banter about it, since he's a Barcelona fan. He's going to get trolled in two languages tomorrow. Bwahahaha.

Speaking of New Guy, my athletes (who are my source of most information) tell me that he reads books in Spanish. Actual books. I knew he could speak beautifully, but wow. I can't read whole books without a translator handy. I've got serious language skill envy right now.

Like I said, I have the coverage of Cibeles on right now, and I'm listening to the commentary for a bit of practice. I get about two-third of it until the commentators let their excitement get the best of them; then they start speaking way too quickly for me to keep up. But whatever. It's my team. It's Cibeles.

It's awesome.

April 15, 2014

Coached a track meet in the pouring rain, wind, and cold. First meet of the season. Ordinarily, I'd write about that, but today I want to remember that the Boston Marathon happened one year ago.
Right around the time the bombs went off at the finish line, a bomb also went off near my friend’s home in Pakistan. We didn’t know it, then, but we both spent the next several hours frantically trying to get a hold of everyone we knew to make sure they were safe (and thank God they were). When we finally talked to one another, the first thing she said to me was how sorry she was that this had happened to my country.
That’s always going to be one of my most enduring memories of it all. 
That night I came online to say that I still believed running is an affirmation of life. I wrote this on all of my social media accounts:
To everyone whose thoughts are turned toward my beloved New England tonight, let me ask you to do something to honor those affected by today’s tragedy, and to remind yourself that the human spirit truly is indomitable: Go for a run.
One year later, it’s still what I most want to say. Remember. And go for a run.

April 14, 2014

A year ago I ran 26for26. This is what I wrote about it afterwards:

Each mile of a 26for26 run is dedicated to one of the people who died at Sandy Hook. Runners can compete all twenty-six miles or do it in teams.

I ran 4.8 miles for my team. We were joined by about 1500 other runners from all over the region- and beyond- who came to a little town in NH to affirm life, love, and hope.

And that's what running is if you get down to its core: an affirmation.

I ran with an "angel" pin on one shoe and a memorial ribbon on the other. I still have them both, pinned on the cork board where I keep all of my most precious racing things. The experience of that run was incredible, emotional, powerful... I was there with my friends- my team from my school, Sunshine and Tiny and their school's team. I saw my middle school track coach, who is now a principal, leading a team from his school.

And there were so many people out to watch us run. I've been in big races with roaring crowds, but that's nothing like this. This was about showing up to say that the terrible thing that had happened months earlier would not break us.

It's surreal to think back on it now. This was the day before the Boston Marathon.

The run shaped so much of my reaction to that tragedy; it would've been a completely different thing if I hadn't done it. As it was, one of the first things I wrote in the aftermath was that I still believed running was an affirmation of life.

I still do.

It's fitting that tomorrow- one year on from Boston- is my team's first meet of the season. As runners in New England, they all have an intangible connection to what happened last year, and the most defiant, awesome thing they can do is compete- and live, live, live!- in that time between the start and the finish line.