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The Back of the Pack

Views on life and running from the back-of-the-pack.

Updated: 2018-03-14T00:54:12.177-07:00


A Year has Slipped By


An entire year has slipped by without writing in the blog.  And so many things have happened!I was hired as full-time tenure-track faculty at the college.  I started in September and I am loving it.  I enjoy going to work, look forward to it (most days), have wonderful students and colleagues.We sold our gorgeous condo.We bought a beautiful boat and are living on it in the marina!   We go out into Puget Sound every chance we get.  We made the move in October and have logged many miles and trips since then.  We are looking forward to Eric's vacation this year so we can go out for two weeks - we'll probably head up to Canada.Here are some pictures of the boat and of various trips: Our new home: Leaving Seattle:Sunset: Ferry:Sunset from our home slip: Another sunset as we make our way home:Charts:Our home port:[...]

Long Time Coming...


I seem to have lost track of my blog.  I've been creating pdfs of each year of posts, as I am half afraid I'll discover it gone one day!

Let's see...last time I posted was our trip to Boston and graduation.  Not too much has happened - I've slowly been getting used to having my life back.  I just recently started sleeping well again - you'd think that would have happened right after finishing school, but apparently it's taken awhile to settle back down. Two new things for me:

I seem to have lost my racing mojo.  Not my desire to run - I'm still pulling in my basic 25+ miles a week.  I love my early morning runs and am very happy with them.  No, it's my interest in going to races that's gone and I don't know why.  I sort of ran the Seattle Ghost Marathon back at Thanksgiving.  I have to say "sort of" because I hadn't trained and I was sick.  My voice was gone and I had a wracking cough, but I tried anyway.  Ended up walking the last six or seven miles.  I was sick for the next month - out of energy, coughing, just not good.  I finally got over it and my runs smoothed out again.  However, even before that, I wasn't feeling the pull for races.  Due to life circumstances, we had to miss a couple of our favorites - Deception Pass and Orcas.  And, really, it didn't bother me at all!  I've been thinking lately about the Redmond Watershed 12's sparking an interest for me.  Maybe it's the unlimited time aspect, the trails, the loops, the friends, but that's the one that's drawing me in.  I guess I'll just flow with it and see if my interest comes back...

Eric and I have decided to follow a dream.  We are selling our condo and buying a boat.  Our plan is to live aboard at the local marina.  We'll spend weekends and vacations exploring Puget Sound, the islands, and north into Canada.  A long term plan is to take a summer off and travel to Alaska via the Inland Passage.  I'm really excited about this - simplifying life, trying something new, exploring, and being on the water!  At the same time, it's kind of daunting.  Putting most of our stuff in storage (we're going from 1750 sq ft to probably less than 300), living at the'll be interesting, that's for sure!

Really and Truly Finished


We just got home from a wonderful weekend in Boston - where I attended my Doctoral Hooding ceremony and graduation.  And, where we celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary! We had a busy summer - we traveled to the Reno/Tahoe area for Eric to participate in the TRT100, we visited our good friends Jimmy and Suzy, we sailed with Web on his tall ship, we shared family time with both Web and Riley, I prepped for fall classes, then spent nine days helping my parents after my Mom had major surgery, then we flew off to Boston.  For now, I continue to teach part time, though the world feels wide open!  I'm considering several career paths - all of which are exciting.  Best of all though, is having free time. The funny thing is, that after three years of reduced running, I'm finding it hard to get my enthusiasm for racing back.  I still love my early morning runs, and I still get out there five mornings a week, but I haven't felt an urge to race.  I don't think I mentioned it, but the Saturday after I defended, I participated in the Redmond 12 hour, where I logged 39.5 miles - not too bad considering my lack of training.  I also signed up for the Ghost of Seattle marathon, but I'm still thinking about dropping to the half.  Who knows?  For now, I'll enjoy those morning runs and see where they take me.   The four of us at Easter. Riley - Warrior of the Month Web on the Lady Washington[...]



I did it! I passed my oral defense and am now Dr. Barnes!Following is my academy award winning speech:Eric was my rock during this whole journey. He's been trying to talk me into getting a doctorate since I graduated from WWU back in 1982. When I came home with this wild idea that I was ready, he was immediately on-board...even when I said it would be in Education and there probably wasn't much money in it. :) He wanted me to do it for me. He was there everyday to listen to me ramble on about my latest interesting find, was ready to deal when I thought my head might explode, listened to me whine when I had to miss out on some fun, and to celebrate every time I did well. He is simply the best. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I love you, Eric! Krissy was my partner-in-crime, my roomie-in-Boston, and is only a few months from becoming a Doctor herself. She helped me connect with other ECE folk and shared many a frustration. Steve and Lorri  were a source of constant support, humor, beer, and friendship.  Margaret convinced me that I wasn't too old to chase a Doctorate and supported me every step of the way. She never failed in her enthusiasm and encouragement.There are many others to thank, including our wonderful sons and my personal mentor, Judy. Judy read every single paper I wrote from the first day to the last (all 162 pages of the last!) She was my code-checker, my supporter, part of my pilot, and my go-to person when I thought I didn't know what I was doing. Again, many, many thanks to Judy! Web and Riley helped me through one of the most difficult of months - when we left our home of 19 years to move north. I had exactly two days between the end of spring quarter and the beginning of summer quarter, so no time for a move. I was leaving my beloved job at Pierce, all my Puyallup connections, trying to get ready for summer residency in Boston, getting ready to send Riley off to boot camp and oh yeah, trying to pack up and move out and Eric was already living in Mukilteo. I might have had a meltdown or two... Web and Riley carried the day - dealing with the garage sale mess, fixing up my computer issues, and doing anything they could to help. They've been my constant cheering squad through this whole thing - thanks to both of you - love you more than you can know!There are so many people who encouraged me along the way, I can't possibly name them all.  My Mom and Dad, sisters and brothers, my cousins, my brother-and-sister-in-law, former and current colleagues, and my fellow doctoral students at NEU.  Thanks to all!  I said last night that it might take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a village to get a doctorate.  Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way![...]

Almost there...


Less than one week.  Six days till my doctoral thesis oral defense.   By noon on May 15th, I'll know if I passed.  It has been an intense two year-nine month journey.  There were many times I didn't think I would make it this far.  One final hurdle...



It's kind of hard to think about what to write in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.  Feels kind of silly to write about little details of life. I think, in the end, that's exactly what we have to do.  We have to keep moving forward, we have to keep living our lives.  We can't let them scare us or intimidate us into shutting down. I went out for a run yesterday and today, and all I could think about was the bombing. I remembered our two years at the race, I remembered running down Boyleston at 5:30 am during my summer residency, I remembered the wonderful, welcoming, solid people of Boston.  We can't let it stop us. We need to live life with joy, we need to be aware of each moment, recognize opportunities to be happy, choose our responses with care.  We need to live life as it comes at us.

My family dealt with a tragedy a few months ago that was splashed all over the news.  It wasn't easy, turning on the TV and seeing our loved one's face unexpectedly,  on every news feed, opening facebook to see pictures everywhere.  I feel anguish for the families in Boston, for what they are going through.  It is simply unbelievable, and it's being played out on a national stage, and they will see it again and again.  It's not easy. It's horrific. I think about them constantly. 

And I remind myself, live!  Notice! Pay attention! Choose happiness! Let anger go. Let it go.  Pay attention to my husband's smile, the sweet sound of the voices of our sons, laugh with my friends, share their sorrows and their joys. Live! Choose life and happiness! I remind myself to look for the good.

So that is what I am doing. It doesn't negate the sadness I feel, it doesn't stop the thoughts from swirling through my head, but it does help me find a balance.  I hope that in choosing to live with intention, I am honoring those whose lives were lost or forever changed.  Life is seldom smooth, instead it is filled with low valleys and high mountains.  It is often said that without the lows, we wouldn't know how sweet the highs are.  But if there is one thing I've learned in running trails, it's that we can find beauty wherever we are, whether we are low or high, if we just look.  Marathon Monday ended in a low, but there was immediate beauty in the heroism, the acts of caring and kindness, that lifted my heart even when I didn't think it could be lifted.  I will look for that beauty every day. I will. I will live with intention.  I will treasure love and laughter, smiles, tears, I will treasure the moments. Life will march forward and I will go with it.



Eric and I have had a wonderful holiday season.  Eric has been on vacation and I took a breather from my studies (and of course, am on break from teaching).  We spent lots of time with family and friends, ran a couple of races, and lazed around the house.   We've been sleeping in, watching movies, reading, shopping, playing cribbage, and enjoying every moment!  I received IRB approval in the middle of all this, but since all my contacts and participants are also on break I didn't worry about getting right to data collection.  Now, with the start of the new year and new quarter, it's time to gear back up and get going.  I've been thinking about this constantly over the past few days...and I must admit the task ahead feels overwhelming.  It's time to find participants, conduct interviews, code, and look for patterns in the data. The only way I can convince myself to  move forward is by taking one small step at a time.  Instead of thinking about the enormity of what must be done, I'll just think about what is on my schedule for each day.  I'm sure once I get going again all will be fine...right?  My area of focus for the next six months will be finalizing this study, with high hopes for finishing in June. Wish me luck!I squeezed in two races during this break - the Deception Pass 25K in mid-December and the Last Chance Half Marathon on the 31st.  Earlier this fall, in a burst of enthusiasm, I signed up for my beloved Orcas 25K.  Eric volunteered to be aid station captain for the top of Mt. Constitution again, which is always fun.  It requires about a day and a half away from home - travel about an hour to ferry, another hour on the ferry, then maybe a half hour to our hotel.  Race the next day, reverse the trip home.  My burst of enthusiasm also prompted me to volunteer for the 50K, held the following weekend.  Eric will be running it.  Of course, this means repeating the trip.  I love these races and Orcas Island and am excited about both weekends, but I must admit, I am now wondering what I was thinking when I decided to give up that much study time.  Oh, well, I am committed now, so if I need to, I'll just stay up till midnight every night for the two weeks to make it up.  I'll leave you with three beautiful pictures (click to enlarge):This one is looking out over Bellingham Bay to Canada, on 12/31/12.  The evening sun was lighting up the mountains.  We didn't have our camera, only my phone, which didn't quite capture the beauty.  It was breathtaking!Again, using my phone-camera, I tried to capture the Olympic Mountains, seen from the beach on my morning run.  They actually are much closer than the phone-camera could capture.   And finally, one caught by Eric this morning with the real camera:All three photos pictures remind me how lucky I am to live here in the Pacific Northwest, where Nature's beauty abounds.  I try to make sure my daily run includes a view of Puget Sound - sometimes swathed in fog, often with mountains hidden by dark rain clouds, and sometimes, like the last few days, lit by golden sunlight.  The views bring serenity to my run and peace to my mind...[...]

Forward Progress


Life has been moving along since I last checked in.  I'll give the updates by category:

Work: I am having a wonderful quarter teaching - I have a large and really good group of student teachers.  It's been a lot of fun visiting a variety of preschools and child cares to observe them all.  Only two weeks left in this quarter and then it's Christmas break!

Family: We had a little excitement when Web headed off to New York to sail on a new tall ship.   He was already on Amtrak as Hurricane Sandy creeped ever closer.  He got there Friday night and Saturday morning they sailed up the Hudson to find a safe harbor to ride out the storm.  Many days later they finally began their journey.  He got off the ship in South Carolina and is now in Florida visiting friends.  Riley got a promotion to E5, which also moves him up to IT2.  He's only been in the Navy 17 months, so I'd say he's doing well!  And Emily got accepted to the Fire Academy - a goal she's been working hard to achieve.  We spent a busy two days with family over Thanksgiving - the big, extended family dinner on Thanksgiving, and a smaller gathering - though still 21 people - with my family on Friday.  A good holiday!

Running: I've run steadily since the Victoria Marathon, logging my usual 25 miles a week.  The longest run I have managed was six miles, so I was a little worried today at the start of the Ghost of Seattle Marathon.  Turned out to be fine - I had a great run. We had a gorgeous day, I got to see lots of old friends, and ran the entire thing with Margaret, plus 13 miles in the middle of it with Rob.  The weather was perfect - the drenching rain we've had for the last week disappeared and we had blue skies, sun, and a high of about 48 degrees. Lovely! This was my 5th Ghost of Seattle, and my 70th marathon/ultra.

School: I am please to report that I passed my proposal defense and have submitted my application to the Institutional Review Board.    Now I'm waiting for approval, which could take up to six weeks. Once that is obtained I can recruit participants and begin my study.  These are two big milestones and I am really happy to be at this point, plus happy to have a little bit of a break!

That's it - just continual forward progress.  Thanks for reading!

Hawaii and Victoria


The waterfall off Na Pali CoastI don't know why it took us so long to get to Hawaii...oh, wait, I do.  The cost. However, it was worth every penny! We had a wonderful, relaxing, and beautiful trip.  We hiked down into a swamp, hiked part of the Na Pali coast trail, then hiked two miles inland to a gorgeous waterfall.  We went stand-up paddle boarding on a wide, flat river with blossoms floating past.  We took a boat tour of the Na Pali coast, swinging into sea caves and anchoring at the end to snorkle.  We watched crabs in the sand, lounged by the pool and had drinks from the pool bar.  We went with  honeymooners Allison and Owen to another beach and snorkeled more - saw lots of turtles that day.  We went to curbside, hole-in-the-wall cafes, and fancy-schmancy restaurants.  We went to the ritzy side of the island and strolled through shops and had a wonderful lunch from a natural foods grocery.  We shared a celebratory evening with bride and groom Stacey and Thom, and all our new in-law-in-laws.  We had a simply wonderful, wonderful time.  We'll be going back for sure.Bamboo stand on our hikeView off trail near Waimea Canyon Our relaxing trip was followed by the start up of fall quarter at work, meeting my 18 new student-teachers. Eighteen! That's crazy, but I can already tell it's a great group.  We spent part of our first weekend home celebrating the retirement of one of Eric's high school buddies from 34 years of service with the Border Patrol and Customs.  It was fun seeing old friends.I've spent the rest of my time since we got home working on my proposal.  I know it sounds crazy that I'm still working on the proposal rather than working on the full-meal-deal.  However, the proposal is part of the dissertation - chapters 1, 2, and 3.  Once I submit it (hopefully in about ten days), my advisor will read through it and make suggestions.  Once she is satisfied it will go to the second reader and I'll get more critiquing.  After both are satisfied, I have to defend it (answer questions about why I chose this and not that, or why I want to do this, instead of that).  Once I pass, I can submit it to the Institutional Review Board for approval.  That will take about six weeks, then I can finally start the research.  I'm hoping for January.  Wish me luck!Somewhere on Victoria Marathon, with Margaret, photo by Marie ZornesFinish chute, Victoria Marathon, with Margaret, photo by George KoskiLast weekend we went to Victoria for the marathon. It was a glorious fall weekend, unseasonably warm and sunny (by the way, that ended today, now we are in the midst of a wind and rain storm).  We took the ferry from Anacortes and enjoyed an almost three hour trip through the beautiful San Juans.  Marathon day was beautiful - almost too warm for me.  Margaret and I took the early start and I felt good till about mile 19, when I crashed hard.  I did finish though!  Not too bad, considering my longest run since May was 15 miles.  Once we finished, we walked a mile back to our hotel, used the spa to clean up, and drove across the island to catch one of the BC ferries.  Oh, my.  They are so big they look like cruise ships.  We sat on the sun deck and saw more beautiful islands slide by. We drove about a half hour to the border, and once over, went to one of our favorite breweries in Bellingham.  We were sitting there sipping our beer and waiting for dinner when I looked up and saw Riley and Emily in the entry!  A complete coincidence - they were in town with friends, visiting another friend up at WWU.  What a perfect way to end the day!Eric and I after Victoria Marathon, photo by George KoskiThat's about it.  Working on proposal, working with my s[...]



We are getting ready to head off for a real vacation!  By that, I mean, no race involved.  The motivation to actually quit talking about going to Hawaii someday and actually make reservations was prompted by a wedding.  Eric's brother and his wonderful fiance are getting married on the beach, and by happy coincidence, our 33rd anniversary is just two days before.  That was all the motivation we needed.  We haven't been before and are really looking forward to it.  Snorkeling, paddle boarding, hiking, swimming, reading, running, lounging, eating, and drinking are all on the agenda.  I have to come home one day earlier than Eric in order to be here for my first class of the quarter and I will miss the actual wedding ceremony.  However, the bride and groom reversed the usual order of things, so I'll be there for the celebration dinner and party the night before.  I can't wait!  But before we go, we have another wedding to attend tomorrow night - it's our week for all celebrating love!

Let's see, what have I been up to since I last posted...oh, that's right, reading, writing, reading, writing...repeat...I am deep in the proposal writing stage, going back and forth with my advisor, fine-tuning the design, the lit review, the research questions, pretty much all of it.  It probably seems strange that we are spending so much time on the proposal, but it has to be ready to pass both proposal defense and the Institutional Review Board.  Plus, it ends up being the first three chapters of the dissertation.  There are days that I am afraid my head will explode - I find myself feeling foggy and light-headed from thinking so hard.  That's another weird thing  - I have these moments where I go sit in the living room (usually in a spot of sunshine) and just...think.  I don't know that I've ever just spent time sitting and thinking.  Usually I run and think, or do dishes and think, or fold laundry and think, or ... well, you get the idea.  I still do those things, but there are these moments now where doing anything except thinking is too distracting - and that is a strange feeling.  I guess it is a good thing, right?

In the realm of running, I've been sort of halfway training for the Victoria Marathon - coming up in three short weeks.  My weekly mileage is hanging around 30 miles, typically with an eight miler on Wednesday and distances from 5-12 miles on the weekend.  Actually, I think I've done 12 miles once and 10 miles around four times, and everything else has been between five and eight.  My running buddy Lizzie and I did 15 this past Wednesday - and that's going to be my long run for this round of training.  Luckily, Victoria will count as my long run for Ghost of Seattle.  Not exactly the best training, but it is what it is! 

I also wrapped up the summer class I was teaching and set up my fall class in the last month.  We went sailing again with Web, my parents, one of my sisters, and Riley and Emily.  That was really fun.  I watched Web's ship pass through the Sound from the edge of a Mukilteo beach, and when he spotted me with the binoculars, the captain changed course.  They sailed straight at me, then swung broadside and fired the cannon at me, before heading back on course - it was the highlight of my week!  We also got to go celebrate a housewarming with Riley and Emily in their first house.  It has been a great summer and I'm looking forward to finishing it out in Hawaii.  Aloha!

Writing & Research


I feel like such a slacker with my blog - I don't want to give it up, but have difficulty finding time to write.  That said, I have way more available time than I have had for the past two years, but I am using that time to balance out the rest of my life.  You know, like hanging out with Eric, the boys, family, and friends!  Since I am working so very part-time, I actually have most evenings and weekends free.  I can study if I want or need to, but I can afford to take the time away, too.The other thing that keeps me away from writing here is that I spend so much time on the computer every day - either researching or writing - that I don't want to sit in front of it in my off time.  I officially started writing my proposal last Friday and had the sudden realization that sitting in front of the computer writing will comprise much of my next year.  That kind of keeps me from wanting to do it as a pastime.  I'll try though, because I really don't want to lose my blog, plus, I hope  that after I am done with this degree it becomes the chronicle it used to be.So, on to chronicling! I am signed up for two marathons - Victoria in October and the Ghost of Seattle in November.  I'm trying to train - I'm going a little longer one weekday (minimum of eight miles) and trying to slowly bring up the weekend mileage.  I ran 12 miles on Saturday, but as usual, struggled with the heat.  It had been in the low 50s every morning of the week, which is very comfortable for me.  In fact, I ran nine miles with ease midweek on a 52 degree morning.  On Saturday I woke up to 62 degrees and sunshine.  And lest you think I slept in, I was up at 5:30 am!  I finished in 67 degrees, which is way beyond my tolerance zone (actually, 62 is beyond my tolerance zone, too).  I could feel it creeping up on me, tightening up my chest and making it difficult to run.  No worries though, because I think our two days of summer have passed.  We should be back down to the 50+ mark for tomorrow.One thing that concerns me is how slow I have become.  I mean, really, I've always been slow, but I knew I could pull off a marathon in the 5:30-5:45 range without a problem.  Well, my last five marathons have all been over six hours, some substantially over.  On the other hand, I ran them all while working on this degree with little to no training.  I just hope I can get my old pace back...let's not forget I've also aged two years!  Seriously?  I have considered dropping from the marathon to the half distance - it's definitely easier on my heart and I can actually finish a half with energy to spare.  Part of me wants to shoot for 100 marathons, part of me thinks half marathons cost too much - for just a little more I could do a full - and part of me has some identity and ego wrapped up in running marathons and ultras. So I don't know what I'm going to do.  I'll see if I can keep my training moving forward as I get deeper into my dissertation and once work, with all the attendant student teacher observations, gets going again.  Maybe I shouldn't even be worrying about it while I'm still working on the degree...who knows? In other news, our Reno trip was a blast.  Loved, loved, loved visiting our good friends Jimmy and Suzy, and their daughter Brandi.  We hiked, went to a Pops concert, a minor league baseball game, a couple of breweries, Truckee, and just hung out.  I can't wait till they come visit us next year! Suzy, Jimmy, and I on our way to Shower Lake Henry and I hiking up Mt. Rose between Incline Village and RenoLake Tahoe from Mt. Rose, in the opposite direction we looked down on Reno.This coming weekend we are going for another sail[...]



I did it! I'm ABD (All But Dissertation)!  I'm done, done, done with classes and on to research and writing.  My goal is to defend my dissertation next June. It feels really good to have come this far, but I realize I've now entered the most difficult phase of the program. All the tools and skills are in place to write up and conduct research, however, from what I understand, this is a time when many doctoral candidates fall by the wayside.  Suddenly the imposed structure of course work is gone and it is up to the individual to push forward.  I've already heard of a couple of people who have let a year slip by without even beginning their work.  I'm determined not to let that happen to me.  So much so that I've already started on it.  I had a slight shift in emphasis in my project so I've been reading like mad trying to catch myself up to my own timeline. In other news, we got to go sailing with Web on the Hawaiian Chieftain a couple of weeks ago. It was spectacular! Web crewed on the Lady Washington from the Bay area up to Washington, where he took over as ship's cook on the Hawaiian Chieftain for the summer months.  The night we went out with him on a battle sail, he crewed so we could see what it is that he does.  He'll be in the Puget Sound area for the whole summer, so we will be seeing him again soon.   That's Web on the right. Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain rafted together at dock. Time for sea shanties! The Lady Washington. Firing on us!Heading back to the dock.  Riley and Emily are also back! Riley is stationed at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station for the next three years.  We've spent lots of time with them, including a day of house hunting.  It's been a whirlwind few weeks at our house. It is an amazing feeling to have both boys back in the area, near enough to see whenever we feel like it. Riley - newly graduated and ready to get to work.Next up, a trip to Tahoe, where Eric will be running the Tahoe Rim 50 miler.  We'll follow that with a few days of vacation, then it will be time to come back home and start writing.  That's it for now - thanks for reading! [...]

Redmond Watershed 12 Hour - 2012


I guess I could say I'm determined.  Or maybe stubborn.  Persistent?  Whatever we might call it, the fact is that when I set a goal for myself I have a really hard time letting go of it.  Once I decide I can do something, I intend to get it done.  All this is to say that I really wanted to rack up 40 miles yesterday at the Watershed and I did!  There were multiple points in the day where I reminded myself that I was going to quit when it wasn't fun anymore, but my next thought was always that as long as I was moving I might hit 40.  So I kept moving...Just in case you don't remember my description from 2010, the Watershed has two loops: the big one is about 4.6 miles, the little one about .7 mile.  Combined they make a 5.3 mile loop that is the race course.  Everyone runs the combination until 5:00, at that point runners have to decide if they can make a complete combined loop before the 7:00 cutoff.  If a runner can't do it, then they begin running the little loop.  If one goes out on the big loop and doesn't make it back before the cut off then the miles don't count. I ran the first two loops on my own - the pack spread out quickly, and though I was always near someone, I was running solo. I was trying to run 4 minutes and walk 1 minute, and was holding that pacing pretty well.  I came in from loop two to find a new friend awaiting - Paige.  We had met at a race earlier in the year and have many mutual friends.  She offered to come out and run a few laps with me and I accepted.  It was great! Remember, I was not really trained for this race.  I ran a marathon in March, and though I maintain 25 miles a week, my longest run since then had been 10 miles.  And I didn't train for the marathon either.  With school I just don't have the time for long runs, though if I plan carefully, I can take a day out every now and then for some fun.  In order to do this particular race, I had to complete a big assignment first: reading, analyzing, and charting 20 scholarly articles.  That may not sound like much, but it was incredibly time consuming and difficult.  The chart was due today, so I had to have it done by Friday in order to run. I had it done by Tuesday - I really wanted to run this race!                                  Photo by Glenn Tachiyama Paige and IAnyway, I warned Paige I would not be fast and might bail out early.  Paige and I held my pace for one more lap.  By then I was toast.  Though we tried to hold a 1/1 pace, we pretty much walked the next two laps.  Somewhere in there I lost a lap - I thought I was at 20 miles but Paige corrected me - I was past the marathon and only needed one more lap to hit 50K.  I was thrilled! I knew Paige was heading home, but I thought I could easily walk one more lap.  By the way - Paige spoiled me rotten, filling my bottle at the aid station, grabbing me food, and checking my miles.  And we talked nonstop for 15 miles - it was great! I couldn't have made it through those middle miles without her support.  All this for someone she had met once.  Amazing - many, many thanks, Paige!                               Photo by Glenn Tachiyama I told Glenn that I didn't have any run left in me. He assured me I did.  This was my 50K loop.                     [...]

What's Going On?


Here I am again - a quick dip into the blogging world and then back to the books.

School: I am halfway through the last quarter!  My doctoral advisor has been assigned and we've had a great conversation.  I'll get rolling on my dissertation once this class is done.  First though, I have to get through the approval process - which I have not yet started.  Soon enough...

Family: Web is sailing up the Oregon coast, crewing on the Lady Washington.  The Lady is a tall ship and was used in The Pirates of the Caribbean as the British warship HMS Interceptor.  Web has been on the ship for a month or so, starting in San Francisco and will be in Washington in a few weeks.  Eric and I will be going out on a battle cruise with him in June.  Riley and Em will be here a week or so after Web gets here.  Riley has orders for the Naval Air Station on Whidbey Island - about an hour away.  There is a ferry from Mukilteo - about three miles from our home - to Whidbey, but with the wait and the drive across the island, it works out to about the same amount of time it would take to drive around to the other end of the island and take the bridge.  So, in the very near future, both our boys will be around and about!  That's exciting stuff for this Mom.

Running: Saturday I'm running in the Redmond Watershed 12 Hour.  Yes, I know it's nuts and I know I haven't trained for it, but.... well, you know.  Last time I ran it I got in 40 miles.  Probably won't happen this time.  I'm figuring to go run till it's not fun anymore, hopefully at least a 50K distance, but we'll see.  I'll be sure to get a quick report out next week.  Eric is up to his usual - just ran a 50 mile at Capital Peak (his 5th year in a row) and is planning to run at least a 100K at the 12 hour.  He's also signed up for the 50 mile at Tahoe Rim.  I take full responsibility for the fact that he's not doing the 100.  I thought it would be nice if we had a vacation where he wasn't worn out from running a 100 miles, so I asked him to do the 50 instead.  Mean, mean wife.  We've been volunteering at a few races lately too - the Chuckanut 50K (where Eric dressed as a leprechaun) and recently a local five mile trail race.  Next up is a shift at a new and local 100-150-or-200 mile race. It's at Lake Youngs where I ran my first 50K.  Should be fun!

That's it for now... I'll try to drop back in next week.

Heading Back In


My last class of the doctoral program starts on Monday. Though long anticipated, I'm feeling kind of shocked that it's actually arrived. I started this journey in September of 2010 - not all that long ago. I've taken two classes each quarter and while deep in the depths of study - papers and textbooks and articles and group projects and discussion boards piled high - I thought time had never moved so slow. Now, looking back, it seems like it passed in a blur.

It has been quite a journey, challenging, stressful, thoughtful, and amazing. There were days I didn't think I'd make it through, and even though I've come this far, I find myself with the same scared and fluttery feeling at the start of the new quarter that I've had each time. I'm giving myself little pep talks every day, reminding myself of my success thus far, telling myself that I will do just fine. Then I think about what is to follow - the big D - and I try not to think anymore. Only problem is, this is the last class of the research series, and all the research classes are about the big D. I have to think about it! There's no more hiding my head in the sand, I will be writing a doctoral project proposal, I will be submitting it and anxiously awaiting approval, I will be conducting a study, and I will be writing a dissertation. And then, I will be in Boston defending it.

It's been easy to ignore those facts, but not any longer. The time has arrived. I'm starting to think the classes have been the easy part. Hard, because someone else is setting the parameters and the deadlines, but easy, because it's all laid out in nice and tidy rubrics - all I have to do is meet the expectations. But after this class, it's up to me. My parameters, my time line, my responsibility. Many people fade out at this stage of the game - I don't want to do that. I want to finish what I started (does that sound familiar to any one who's run with me?)

So, here I go, heading back in. I've had a few days off to regroup and reflect, now it's back to the books. I'm hoping to come up for air on the weekends, maybe have some time to spend with friends and family, run a race or two, go on a couple's only one class, right? And then, I can set my own schedule, right? As long as I'm done in a year, it's all good!

YRC 2012


I did it! It was my slowest Yakima yet - about 19 minutes slower than last time. However, last time I was two weeks out from running 100K at Pac Rim. This time I was a year out from my last marathon. No matter though, I did it on minimal training and felt pretty good the whole way. Started feeling a little chest tightness and shortness of breath in the final two miles, but bounced back as soon as I finished. Margaret stuck with me the whole way, plus I got to walk with Bob Dolphin around mile 19. He's 82 years old, and Yakima was his 500th marathon, plus he and his wife are the race directors. I enjoyed our conversation about things non-running. Pretty awesome stuff! I managed my energy well, ate, drank, and s-capped well. All-in-all, a good comeback race!

The Yakima River Canyon is beautiful. Basalt, columnar joints, sage, folding hills, wide river, gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I love this small and friendly race. The volunteers are helpful, chatty, and funny, there are running friends everywhere I look, the canyon is incredibly quiet and deserted, and of course, scenic. It is one of my favorites.

So...what's next? That, I'm not sure of. I've got one more intense class ahead of me and though I will admit I looked at the race calendar today, I realize I'm going to have to get into the class before I can figure out if my weekends will be free. Here's hoping so!

Bringing those Numbers Up


It's been a year since I ran a marathon. I'm looking forward to it, but don't know quite what to expect, given my lack of training. I've been running half marathons and 25Ks since October, but that's it. I've maintained a weekly mileage of 25 miles - low compared to the 30-50 miles of a year ago. Darn that doctoral program! I had to pull back to my regular weekly runs in order to keep up with my studies. I start my final class in a week, then a year of dissertation work - so I figure I've got some flexibility back in my schedule and can start trying to sneak more races in.

I've had some bad marathons - running with an infection, heart and heat issues - yet I made it through, so I know I can push through this one, too. That's one thing about a marathon or ultra - it will teach a runner how to persevere, how to move relentlessly forward despite hardships. I'll remind myself of that tomorrow, say, about mile 18ish?

It will be my 52nd marathon, 66th marathon and ultra combined - after five years of steady increases, followed by a year of zero movement, I'm happy to see my count rising again. I feel like it's my first marathon all over again - excited, anxious, but ready to go. Mostly though, I'm giddy at the thought of having a weekend to play with no looming pressure of missed studies. And to see all the old friends I have missed these past months. And to go out and run! Here's to happy running - I'll see you after the race!



I always thought it was simple. When a child gets engaged, there is a celebration, a wedding is planned, a family is started. The parents? Well, the parents celebrate a milestone for their child and continue on. Now, though... Now, I'm the parent. Now I realize how much more it means.

I've been thinking about the four of us and how the addition of one more adds a new layer of complexity as we shift to a family of five. I've been thinking about having a daughter for the first time, about what it means to me, to Eric, to our future daughter and to both our sons.

It is as simple as setting another place at the table and as complex as learning to love another person. Like having a new baby, there was a moment of wondering if I had room in my heart for one more, followed by the moment I realized the answer was yes, yes I do. I look at this young woman and realize she holds our son's heart in the palm of her hand, and he, hers. And with that sharing of hearts there is a centering in my heart, a gathering of love, an acknowledgment that our family is growing.

There is a dichotomy of fragility and strength found in sharing love and with that dichotomy, many challenges for love to overcome. This thought sweeps me back to our beginnings so many years ago, to those fresh feelings, and the excitement of life unfolding. I contemplate the richness of our marriage and the family we've built together, the life we have shared and the life that lies ahead. I think of my parents, entering their 57th year of marriage, my brothers and sisters, the foundation Mom and Dad gave us. I remember how they folded Eric into our family, how they gathered in each new husband and wife and I only hope that I can do as well.

I look at our new daughter and I think... we will share moments of joy... and we will share moments of sorrow, as life is certain to offer both. There may be moments of anger, though I hope they are few and far between, and are followed by forgiveness. We will turn to each other for strength, for solace, for laughter. I hope some day I will celebrate with her as I hold their babies and watch them grow. There may come a time in my future when this woman, my new daughter, will have to care for me, nurse me, offer me comfort. As Riley places his trust in her, so do we. As she places her trust in Riley, she places her trust in us. With this marriage our son offers us a daughter, a relationship to last our remaining years. It is so much more than I thought it would be, already offering richness and love. To our new daughter, Emily, we open our arms, our hearts, our family, and our lives to you.

Still Here...


I'm still here!I enjoyed the time off over the holidays - ran a couple half marathons with good friends, spent time with family, acquired a future daughter-in-law, hung out with Eric. For those of you who've been reading a long time, Riley got engaged! He's still in school and will be through August (in the Navy) so I don't anticipate the wedding will be anytime soon.Emily and RileyWe were only one week into the new quarter at work when we got hit by a snowstorm and ended up missing almost a full week of classes. I took advantage of the time off to settle into my NEU classes. Plus, I got to run on the cart paths of the golf course - a perfect five mile loop - in about three inches of snow one day and about eight inches the next day. After another full day of snow, I didn't even try for the third day! I went back out on the paths once the rain cleared some of the snow away, but before the course reopened. I'll be looking for opportunities to sneak back out there when possible. It's a pretty busy course, so frosty days and early dark mornings will be my only chance.As I mentioned in my last post (a long time ago) I'm taking two classes right now, and registered for my last one for spring quarter. I can't believe I'm at the end. I'm in the second research class now and getting focused in on my dissertation topic. I've heard that students often change their topic in the last few months. I don't think I'll do that, but who knows? I'm really, really excited to only have one class next quarter and even more excited to be done with classes!I ran the Orcas 25K last weekend - it was cold, it hailed, snowed and rained, and we had about five miles of snow on the course. No matter though, it's still my favorite race. I'm signed up for the Yakima River Canyon Marathon at the end of March - it will be my first one in 13 months. I'm not quite sure why I signed up as I have no time to train. I'll try to squeeze in a couple more half marathons and call it good. I sure hope I can pull it off.I also met Lizzie at a January race. It turns out that we only live three miles apart, so today we met up for an early morning run. Looks like it's going to be a regular thing! I've missed having a running buddy and am looking forward to lots of runs together.I'll leave you with a couple of pictures:Then (September 1979)...And now (December 2011)[...]

A Month Long Break...sort of


Whew! Fall quarter is over. All assignments are in and I am waiting to see my grades (life as student). I've graded everything and posted final grades for work (life as professor). Both NEU and teaching start up again on January 9th. In the meantime, I've got a month-long break.

Well, sort of. I need to develop the coursework for the class I'll be teaching in winter - such is the life of the new instructor. I also need to make some modifications to my Doctoral Problem Statement per my professor. I need to do that right away and submit it with my application for an advisor. Delaying would cause a delay in advisor assignment, which would trickle outward, causing a delay in beginning my dissertation. Needless to say, that is NOT going to happen! I will make the modifications tomorrow and get it submitted. Next quarter I am taking my final elective and the second of the three research classes. Spring quarter will bring the final research class, followed by the dissertation. I can't believe I'm so close! From what I hear and read, the dissertation requires a lot of self discipline - sitting down to work on it daily is a must. I must be a geek because I'm actually anxious to get going on it.

In other news, I ran another half marathon over Thanksgiving weekend (Seattle Ghost) and just ran a 25K yesterday. The race was at Deception Pass - an amazingly beautiful spot close to where I grew up. The views were simply stunning. Most of the trails were single track, though there were some that were wide and clear. We had some tough climbs and fast descents, lots of rooty, rocky, technical sections, and some soft, pine-needle cushioned clear trails. We also ran across the beach a couple times through deep sand and over seaweed crusted logs. All in all a wonderful, wonderful course. The highlight of the race was getting to run over the bridges twice. I've visited Deception Pass many times in my life - in fact I broke my arm on a camping trip there when I was in Kindergarten - and I've always wanted to run the bridges. I'll go back for this race again.

Let's see...what else? Web was home for Thanksgiving and Riley will be home for Christmas. Starting with this weekend, we have house guests for four weekends in a row. I'm excited and looking forward to all the visits. Life is good in Mukilteo!

Up and Down, Start and Stop


Wow, once again a good chunk of time has passed without visiting my blog. I spend so much time writing that it's hard to sit down here and write for the sheer fun of it. I'll admit, a quickie post on Facebook - something that takes a minute or two - is more my speed these days. However, I don't want to give up on blogging! So let me catch you up...As I mentioned in my previous post, summer was intense, with moving, residency and Riley off to the Navy. Once we got home from that trip, life settled into more of a routine. Condo life is good, both Eric and I really like it. Living near his job has huge benefits - we have much more time together than we've had in the past year and we are really enjoying it. We are 99% moved in - a few stray boxes tucked into corners are waiting for us to unpack them, and pictures are still wrapped and waiting to be hung. I'll admit it, we've opted to do fun things with our spare time rather than worry about those minor details. Some of the fun things have included Eric successfully completing the Plain 100 - one of the toughest 100 milers out there. No aid stations - which means carrying a full pack, no course markings, crew at mile 58ish only, lots of climbing and this year's bonus - temps in the 90s. It was Eric's third (and, I hope, final) attempt. He finished in 35 hours and 10 minutes. Jenny joined me in waiting for him at the only spot we were allowed to meet him - we got there early and cooked grilled cheese sandwiches for any and all runners who wanted one. We got to hang out with race directors Chris and Tom, and Karen and George Wiggens while we waited. Jenny and I ran in Leavenworth the next morning, then she headed home while I went to the finish to wait for Eric. I teared up when he crossed the finish line hand-in-hand with three other hardy runners. Oh, yes. 25 starters, 11 finishers. Plain is just Plain tough!Fall quarter at NEU started the following day. I'm in the first of the research series, and my 9th and 10th classes. After these are complete I will have only three left, then it's on to dissertation. I've been working on my DPS - Doctoral Problem Statement - which when done will lead me to the next step - getting an advisor and working on my DPP - the Doctoral Project Proposal. After I successfully defend that, it will go to an internal review board. Once approved there, I can start my research. Once that is done, I'll write it all up and then have an oral defense of the dissertation. If I pass that, I'm done! It is a long and kind of scary process, but I'm excited to be on my way! I've had a few low spots where I wasn't sure why I signed up for this and if I wanted to continue, but with the help of some good friends, fellow students and a couple of professors - have pushed through and am still at it. Apparently, it's a normal part of the process when working on a doctorate. All I know is when I wrote about it on the NEU Facebook page, I got over 53 responses, many of whom reported feeling the same way! And one awesome professor who posted his phone number and told me to call him. You can't beat that kind of support. Not to mention the support Eric has given me, and Margaret, and Dr. Sara, and all my other friends.A week after the start of NEU, I started my new job. Well, truthfully, I'd been working on it for two weeks prior because I had to design and set up my course. So far I am loving it. I am only teaching one class, which has been really nice in terms of time to study and time to hang out with Eric. I've got[...]

One More



Our Sailor


Eric, Riley and I Riley's Division (with some lady cheering in front of us) Riley and his sweetheart, Emily We are in Chicago for Riley's boot camp graduation. It was an amazing ceremony. It's been quite a day. For those of you who have been reading this blog a while, remember the long-haired hippy kid who used to run cross country? Not such a kid anymore... No, that was definitely a man in that sailor uniform today - and not just a man, but a gentleman. Feeling pretty good about that young man right now. And, oh my, isn't he handsome? Okay, okay, I'll stop with the Mom stuff. How about some updates? Summer quarter is almost at an end - just one week to go. Our two week residency in Boston was intense. Lots of work, but also lots of fun. Just for the record, 53 is too old for dorm life! Though I did have it down, especially the night we had pizza delivered while we studied, then met our buddies at the local pub late that night. I vaguely remembered doing something similar way back in my undergrad days in the late 70s... I worked hard to get six papers written in the two-and-a-half weeks I had between coming home from Boston and leaving for Chicago, but I got it done. I'm looking forward to spending the next few days exploring Michigan with Eric. After that I have two full weeks of freedom before I start my new job and fall quarter at school. I've got five classes left between me and writing my dissertation - hard to believe I've made it through eight classes already! I love our new home in Mukilteo - it is wonderful. We met most of our neighbors last weekend at a social - that was really nice. Now I have names to connect with faces, plus they are a friendly group. I got brave and signed up for the Victoria half marathon and the Seattle Ghost full marathon. Brave because my running has really suffered with all my schooling. I've been maintaining about 25 miles a week, five miles a day, five days a week. I really wanted to get some races set and these two felt do-able. If fall quarter gets too intense, I'll drop to the half at Ghost, but I have high hopes I'll be able to pull it off. We'll see. That's it for now...saying good-night from Waukegan, IL! [...]



The list version of my life, because I still have too much to do to be writing in my blog...

Moved out of Puyallup: check.
Moved into Mukilteo: check.
Unpacked: sort-of check. Still have some work to do.
Started my regular run routine again, in a new town: CHECK!
Started regular Pilates routine again: CHECK! (These are both very excited checks!)
Finished up Spring Quarter at NEU: check.
Started Summer Quarter two days later: check.
Completed required three books in two weeks: 95% check. Still have a couple chapters in one.
Read six additional chapters in two other books in same two week period: half-check.
Critiqued a 175 page dissertation and wrote the eight page paper to go with it (same two weeks): check.
Visited my new place of work, had lunch with my new boss, gathered coursework for fall: Check.
Sent an excited Eric off to crew Badwater: check.
Leave for Boston on Saturday for two weeks of school: well, no, because that happens on Saturday!

Swearing In


Swearing in...

With his proud parents.

Thumbs up, ready to go!