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By Randee Bergen
Friday, November 8, 2013
I told myself I would contemplate the “I’m not a real runner” quote as I ran The Other Half half-marathon in Moab a few weekends ago. So I let the question roll around in my mind for a couple of days–while camping, during the 13 mile run, and at the post-race party and awards.
I often hear people say, “I’m not a real runner.” We are all runners, some just run faster than others, that’s all. I have never met a fake runner. –Bart Yasso, Runner’s World Chief Running Officer
I don’t run many races, but when I do, I invariably encounter and interact with many members of our local running club, the Mesa Monument Striders. I started running about five years ago and joined the running club about a year after that. I was nervous, for sure. I didn’t know much about running in general and I knew nothing of running clubs. What did they do? Did they all go out and run together? It was going to be impossible for me to run with a group, to move along at their speed and stay with them. At the time, I didn’t realize that there are several different paces within any group of runners. I thought it would be their pace–the pace of the group–and my pace. But I heard about it and I wanted to meet some other runners and I wanted to stay motivated, so I showed up, out of the blue one evening, to a weekly trail run.
I think it may be the bravest thing I’ve ever done.
Suffice it to say I was welcomed with open arms and am still doing group runs and events with these people. A group run, for me, looks like this: I arrive a bit early, like the others, to hang out and chat for a while; we all run, with me going at my own pace and usually running alone or sometimes with one other person in the group; and, then we all meet up again, have a beer, and continue on with the socializing. It works.
As I finished my half-marathon in record slow time for me–but smiling and happy and having enjoyed it the entire way–I was funneled through the beer garden to get my free beer in my commemorative pint glass and then entered into the post-race area. It didn’t take me long to find my people, the Grand Junction runners who were also at this race. They were all gathered together on a grassy hillside waiting for the awards to begin.
What you need to know about these people is that they are exceptionally good runners. At least half of these individuals would soon be on the podium and nearly all of them had taken off significant time or set a new personal record. They trained hard and ran hard. And then there’s me. I always finish a race much later than they do and I’m rarely trying to beat a previous time. It can’t be the focus for me or I would have quit running long ago.
I plop down on the grass next to them, happy to take a load off. A few of them notice me and ask how my run went. Most runners will respond to this question–How was your run?–by sharing their time and whether they were able to shave any time off their personal best. My response is much more general in nature. “I had a great run! I felt good and was happy the whole time.” The group respects this about me; they don’t pry for details.
I’m never all that interested in the awards. It’s not important to me who won, who edged past whom this time, where the winners are from, and all that jazz. So while the awards were going on, I, instead, looked at each of my running club friends and thought of them each as individuals and not, collectively, as “all the real runners.”
Each of them is a real person with a real life and real hopes and dreams and real problems. There have been divorces, heartbreaking moments with children, the loss of jobs, the uncertainty of unemployment, health issues, rehab, losing homes, relocations, unhappy marriages, setbacks, regrets.
Yet they are all here, gathered together in this beautiful place on this beautiful day, making the most of life in a positive, healthy way. They run for themselves but, in the process, run for each other.
And that includes me.
These people have always made me feel welcome and part of the group. The fact that I’m a slower runner and not as committed to it as they are has always been more of an issue for me than for them.
They ask me to run with them.
“Hey, do you want to run Serpents Trail any morning this week?”
“Really? Because I’m going to be slow.”
“Everyone’s slow running uphill on a rocky trail in the dark. It’s the perfect time to run together.”
They invite me to train with them and urge me to give certain races or runs a try.
“Randee, you should do the Imogene Run with us this year!”
“I can’t. There’s a cut off time. I don’t think I can make it. They’d make me turn back.”
“No, no, you’re fine. We know plenty of people who just hike it. We’ll do fun training runs and have a great time. You should join us.”
Some insist on running with me at least every few weeks.
“We should try to do a long run this weekend. I haven’t talked to you in a few weeks and I miss you. We need to catch up."
They work me into their weekly speed trainings, when I get up enough nerve to go. They invite me to their “run and then feast” birthday parties, apparently not concerned that the run will be much slower, much shorter with me in the group. We’ve trained for triathlons together, come together as a team for an adventure race, and kayaked and paddleboarded together. We travel together to runs, meet up for dinner or margaritas, camp, come together for a campfire the night before a race.
We take group photos before and after races. And sometimes during.
These people were there when I went through my divorce and the terrible fallout from that. There for me, as runners, as friends.
They’re my friends. Real friends.
I’m the only one, in this whole bunch, who’s ever thought about excluding me.
These people, these fast, fast runners, the ones I consider to be ”real” runners, they’re nothing but real people. Real people with real lives and real problems. Like me. Real people with a desire to deal with stuff by running and trying to stay healthy. Like me. Real people who want to belong, who want to form relationships and friendships. Like me.
These real runners are just that. Real.
I love these people and I’m grateful for all that they are and all that they’ve done for me. They are the reason that running can be a reality for me, something that I can stick with.
And I’m starting to get it now. I am probably all that for them, too. A real person, with a real life, with real issues. A running friend, a real friend.
I’m real. I run.
And, therefore, that makes me a real runner.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
This was the first time in 13 years that I had absolutely no input on Margaret's Halloween costume what so ever. She decided what she wanted to be and then decided she wanted her grandmother to help her make it. I was left out of the loop entirely. Remarkably, I am fine with that.
Mar decided months ago that she wanted to be Princess Bubblegum from the completely weird show Adventure Time. Seriously, have you seen this show? It's so weird ... which is why I'm glad Margaret likes it. For those not in the know, here is Princess Bubblegum:
Here is Mar as Princess Bubblegum:
It was the easiest costume I never made (my mom, of course, labored on that dress for days. Thanks mom!).
By Randee Bergen
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Post by Randee Bergen
I am just home from two days of parent-teacher conferences and am exhausted but satisfied.
Satisfied with my students’ progress.
Satisfied with the families in our community.
Satisfied with the parenting I see and the way this generation of kids is being raised.
I know we often hear otherwise.
We hear about kids who aren’t proficient.
Kids who don’t meet the standards.
We hear of families struggling financially.
We hear of divorce.
We hear of parents who don’t spend quality time with their children.
Yet they do.
I see it happening.
I witness that most of these parents are doing the best they can.
And that their best is far better than what you typically hear about.
I’m proud of my parents.
Some of them are unemployed. They’re worried, stressed, wondering what the future holds.
But they still love their kids. And they understand that education is key for their children’s future.
Some of my parents are working and going to school.
Trying to better their lives in order to better their kids’ lives. Trying to be good role models.
Many of my parents are divorced.
But, contrary to popular belief, that does not necessarily mean their kids are suffering emotionally.
Or doing poorly in school.
Some of my parents admit to not reading with their kids, not working with them.
It’s hard, they say, and it always results in a fight.
I tell them I appreciate their honesty, that I can pick up the slack for them.
That I think their relationship and harmony in the home is more important than homework.
I understand that some kids are hard to work with.
I’m better equipped to deal with that than they are. I have the training, the experience, the patience.
Some of my parents have been in prison, have done things they’re not proud of.
But having kids, being parents, the way they are now, the way they are with their kids --
They make me proud.
Some of my parents are in poor health.
One dad’s one hope is that he lives to see his boys grow up.
One mom couldn’t make it to her conference two years ago, when I had an older sibling. Cancer.
She couldn’t make it this year either. Recurrence.
Some of my parents are anxious, uneasy in the school setting.
They don’t show up at their scheduled time.
They don’t show up at all.
But their kids are at school every day, clean, clothed, fed, and ready to learn.
I just want to thank them for being caring, supportive parents.
I wanted the opportunity to show them how much growth their child has made in just two months.
Some of my parents are exactly how we want parents to be:
There, supportive, educated, informed.
Able to laugh with me about their child’s idiosyncrasies.
They listen, they ask questions, they thank me for all that I do for their child.
But people are different.
Not all parents can be like that.
And kids are different.
But kids are always kids.
They thrive in structured, caring environments.
They appreciate boundaries.
They rise to our expectations.
They’re unique, they’re resilient, they’re curious.
And did I mention that they can learn? Man, can they learn.
So, not only am I satisfied with my students and my parents.
And I want everyone to know it.
Don’t focus on the bad news.
Don’t dwell on the fact that so many of today’s kids aren’t proficient.
Hear the good news.
Realize that there are a lot of kids and a lot of parents out there doing the best they can.
I’m proud of their best.
Hats off to my parents.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Monday, November 4, 2013
Almost on a daily basis for the past month, I've said to Soren, "I'm not paying 20 bucks for a cardboard box."
He wanted to be a creeper from his favorite video game, which he doesn't actually own btw, for Halloween. He desperately wanted me to buy him this:
See, it's literally a cardboard box. So, we went round and round and he resisted all attempts to convince him we could make the same thing for free.
Finally, four days before Halloween, he caved in.
Thanks to this super generous and Illustrator savvy mom, Momma Needs A Hobby, I was able to print the graphic and face I needed for the box. It was super easy and all we needed was a cardboard box, a regular color printer, some regular clear tape, and a box cutter.
In the end, I think Soren actually enjoyed making his costume and I'm hoping there's at least a couple of lessons to be learned like A) Don't argue with mom, and B) We don't pay money for something we can make for free.
By Randee Bergen
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Me? Dress up for Halloween?
It takes a lot of creative energy, time, and money to put together a costume, and most of what was available for that for the last 10-15 years went into figuring out what my children were going to wear. So, yeah, I’m sort of in the habit to not dress up for Halloween.
Wait, wait; that’s not entirely true. Being a teacher and that I have students who start asking in September what I'm going to be, I do have a couple of easy costumes to choose from to wear on Halloween Day. My favorite, of late, is what I dubbed an “ankle down” costume. It works for me because it requires no special make-up, no wig, and no special clothing. And, most important, it’s comfortable.
What is it, you ask? A pair of bumblebee slippers. When my students ask what I am, I answer with, “Two bees,” and their little faces morph from confusion to wonder to slight disappointment all within a matter of seconds.
Last year, about this time, I heard about the Zombie Prom happening at one of our trendy downtown theaters and I mentioned it to my daughter, thinking she and her friends might want to go. Much to my (initial) dismay, she suggested that I attend with them. I panicked. Wouldn’t that require hair, make-up, clothing? Interestingly, that stressed me out more than the thought of dancing and being stuck in a loud, crowded place with a bunch of young, wild, costumed strangers. She assured me that a zombie was, like, the easiest costume in the world.
We spent 13 dollars on make-up and probably used as much in hairspray. I found something in my closet to wear. It had no resemblance to a prom dress or anything that came from a rotting corpse, but it would suffice. My daughter and her friend helped me with my make-up, as I have not watched enough zombie movies to know what they look like. Getting ready was a ton of fun in itself. Just like a real prom, I remember thinking.
The drive to the prom was even more fun. We were not only in costumes, but already in character—deadpan faces, big eyeballs, relaxed jaws—and, being that it was a few days before Halloween, we got stares from everyone who passed us.
After parking, we skipped down the street to the theater, giddy and excited and thrilled to be someone else for a few hours. As it turned out, we couldn’t get into the Zombie Prom. It was a 21-and-over event. (Just for the record, I did call and check into this and was informed that it was an all-ages event.)
None of us were too disappointed, as the fun meter was already running high. However, we did not want to go home yet. We kicked around some ideas, narrowed it down to grocery shopping or going to the high school football game, and settled on the latter.
Okay, it was fun to walk into that place, climb the stands, and find a place to sit. We got a lot of looks, but no one knew who we were, and no one figured it out because we didn’t stay for long. On the way out, we discovered that we were not the only ones in costume.
All that dressing up and nowhere, really, to go. We decided to call it a night, but, on the way home, made a quick stop at the grocery store for a few desperately needed items that by no means could wait until the next day.
By Richie Ann Ashcraft
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
My boys are getting big sure enough. I look at them and marvel at it everyday.
As most things with kids go, I'm learning, the marvel turns bittersweet accompanied by an overwhelming desire to grab them into my lap and cuddle them to death.
I think all the time about what they will remember about these years. Will it be good? Will it be bad? And just like that kid-bucket list it makes me check myself to make sure I'm doing things right.
What will they remember about me?
Probably that I cleaned a lot. That I stood in the kitchen cooking and washing dishes. Maybe baking cookies. Running downstairs with dirty laundry and running upstairs with stacks of clean towels.
Ah, that would be sweet to remember me doing that sort of thing, but that's not what I want them to remember. That stuff sucks.
That's what I was thinking about as I was sweeping Saturday morning. I put down the broom and declared "WE'RE GOING SWIMMING!"
The boys leaped off the couches and scrambling for their trunks. The clean towels came back downstairs and into the car.
We spent the next 3 hours playing at the pool. We played sharks and anaconda. We raced for diving sticks. I let them make up the rules and played along. We played and played and played until our fingers were wrinkly and our musces were sore.
I gave them wet kisses and we laughed.
I looked up at the side where a line of mothers sat knitting or texting in plastic chairs. There wasn't a single mother in the pool except for me. I felt sad for them.
If you haven't played pretend in awhile, I highly recommend it. I think it's okay to not be an adult for awhile. It's a great stress reliever. It feels oh, so good.
And, it's what bonds children to their parents. I'm pretty sure cleaning doesn't do that.
Playing is at the top of my kid-bucket list. It's something I'm going to work harder at and make time for. I hope it's at least one of the things my kids remember about me.
By Robin Dearing
Monday, October 28, 2013
“Why can’t I remember to put this bracelet on before I get lotion on my hands?” this is the question I ask myself after every shower when I’m trying to put on my medic-alert bracelet.
I struggle and finally get the stupid thing firmly attached around my wrist. Then I slide it up my arm as far as it will go and try to forget about it.
As I’ve aged, I’ve worn less and less jewelry, even giving up earrings in the last year. Now, I wear the two rings given to me by my husband … and the medic-alert bracelet that my endocrinologist insisted I buy and wear.
It’s a constant reminder that I’m not the person I used to be.
I’m trying to focus on the positive aspects of this disease. The biggest being that I was diagnosed in time and didn’t die (which is so awesome) and that’s it’s treatable.
But being treatable doesn’t mean I get to live my normal life anymore.
Right after I was diagnosed, I felt great. After reading the stories of so many people with Addison’s disease, I figured out this was a honeymoon period. I was right and that period is now over.
Last week, I started not feeling well: more tired than usual, grumpy, weak, fuzzy in the head. At band practice on Wednesday night, I got sweaty and my head started to swim. I tried to push on as I would have in any other situation in my life BAD (Before Addison’s disease).
That was stupid. I cannot push myself or carry on. My body has no way of dealing with stress. Carrying on means making myself sicker which requires exponentially more time to recover.
I’m trying so hard to not hate this disease. But I can assure everyone that I do no like it, not one bit.
I prefer to take care of myself and those around me. I like to be able to do my part, plus more. I want to be able to work until the job is done. I like being helpful.
I’m learning I can’t do that anymore. I have to stop. I have to take more steroids. I have to drink more water. Most importantly, I have to stop.
After taking it really easy Thursday and Friday, I ate a good breakfast and drank a bunch of water before going out to help Bill and our HOA president take down some trees along HOA property. We cut and stacked wood. I happily used the chainsaw (and boy, are my biceps telling me about it today). The longer I worked, the worse I felt.
I was overcome with weakness. Bill made me go home, take more steroid and rest. I spent the rest of the weekend in bed resting, working and trying not to feel to sorry for myself.
This is my life now. There’s nothing I could have done to prevent it and there’s nothing I can do to fix it. Those are the terms of my life, non-negotiable.
So, now as I sit at my desk, staring at my bulletin board, I’m taking stock. Looking at all the goods things I have created for myself. I created a life that I can easily lead with this disease. I’m so lucky, really. Now, I just have to learn to believe that.
By Robin Dearing
Sunday, October 27, 2013
By Randee Bergen
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Across the threshold
Through the door
Back to reality.
I’ve been away
For just a day
To a place
Where I am me.
And agenda free.
Here I am mom,
But what am I
If none of these?
So I step
Through this door
Back to reality.