Love is so fickle, it starts with a flood and ends with a trickle

All Loved Up
This is as close to a Valentine's Day post as I will get. And no, that title is not in fact a reflection of my current view on love. It is in fact the lyrics of a song (Bartender) by Regina Spektor that stuck with me yesterday while I was running. The song came on, the thoughts were floating around in my brain and they stuck together. And here I am a day later, with them still scotch taped on the inside of my head.

It seems like during Valentine's Day week that pretty much everything can be a prompt for thinking about ones relationship status, love, relationships, marriage, relating. I have been thinking a lot lately about my own desire or not to have a relationship. The general internal consensus is a cautious yes, but only when it comes along naturally. All that means is, unlike 2007 which was decidedly the "year of me", that in 2008 I would be open to a relationship but am not seeking one like a guided missile. I really like my life right now, I like who I am, I like the things I am involved with....wait, wait, I love my life. Unlike a lot of people, I am very comfortable being alone. That is not to say I am adverse to relationships, not at all. Instead, I am all about relationships for the right reason. I am perfectly comfortable with the reality that the right person will come along at some point and my only responsibility is to be the best me I possibly can be and that will happen. For most that takes too much faith. That is not to say I have unwavering faith, but I believe that as long as I keep my heart, mind and eyes open than everything I need in life will find me. And I also know how I am in relationships and so the cautious part of my yes answer is based on that. Relationships are very hard (even when you are happy, healthy and functioning well). Relationships are a lot like night running, you can be blissfully running along, bounding over roots, floating on the ups, missing each overhanging branch effortlessly and then suddenly you come down a hill and there is a hairpin turn over a bridge to your right that if you had missed you would be launched into the rushing cold water beneath (such as a certain turn we encountered over the weekend on Orcas while night running, where luckily no one went into the stream). I think there is nothing more pure and beautiful in life than love, period. It would be nice to think that relationships are a mere extension of that love, but often relationships aren't. Have you ever considered that in a relationship there are three members? the two in the relationship and the relationship itself. You have to cultivate your own needs, your partners needs and the needs of the relationship. Consider how hard it is to manage our self and our own needs on our own. Just to know our own self is a struggle for many! I never find it surprising that relationships are imperfect. What makes a relationship work is realism, is putting on your work boots and saying, I am going to do what it takes to make this work. And sometimes you do a whole bunch of work and then realize, hey we have a functional relationship (wahoo) without the emotion that it is suppose to be founded on. And that is ok.... I'll take pause now and move on, because I could go on for a really, really long time about this particular subject, but alas I must digress, a bit.

Another thing that prompted me to think about relationships was going to Orcas Island this weekend with Alison, James and John. We had a great weekend, arriving on the Island after a most epic (epic, long....not epic, good) journey. I (apparently) have not been to Orcas since I was 2 months old and thus arriving on the island I was just blown away. I have always loved the Islands but this just made me want to move there, despite all the setbacks of being island locked (like a 2 hour wait for a ferry everytime). Alison blogged about a feeling I very much related to. I have moved around a lot in the past four years and though I haven't had the experience necessarily of not appreciating my surroundings while I am there, I do relate to the idea that she discusses of being in the here and now. I have moved around in part to try and prompt myself back into the here and now. In my journeying, I have always found that I am the best most present version of myself when I am new in a city or town. I have to be, it is a matter of digging in and surviving. But eventually, the feeling wears off and I find myself ready to run again, move away to the next "this is really where I want to be" location. I should instead focus on being present where I am. Thus, if I do decide to move again, it will not be in pursuit of that feeling, but because I genuinely have a desire to be elsewhere. That said, it will be inevitable that I will move from Seattle at some point because I have always wanted to live in a much smaller town, though I would still like to be close (which is probably while Orcas appealed to me in so many ways). But back to the point.... We arrived on Orcas and beelined to camp so that James, Alison, a local Orcas trail runner Randy and I could head out on the trail to get in a run and see where work needed to be. Unlike Alison, my night run experience was less meditative. I tried to pull myself back into the moment and float along, but I was also doing a little Western States training i.e. wearing a very warm coat and gloves despite the temperature being quite pleasant. Heat training as it were, is my least favorite thing. Couple that with falling down for the second time in two days and I was just more annoyed than I had been when we hit the trail. After the run, we sprinted (well, drove) into town and slid into the organic grocery (double bonus for loving the island) and grabbed some ingredients to make the veggie noodle dish that I have posted about previously. Alison and I threw down in the kitchen and with the restrictions of what was available, we made a decent meal. By that point we didn't really care much anyways as we were cold and tired and just wanted fuel and sleep, as it was getting on to 9pm by the time we were fed. James and I did the dishes and we headed back to the bunks to turn in.

This brings me back to my point of why this trip made me think of relationships. James and Alison who are absolutely precious, zipped their sleeping bags together and are obviously excellent co-sleepers. I got into my borrowed sleeping bag and hoped for a good sleep. When I think about being in a relationship, I think about co-sleeping. I am a very light sleeper and I like to sleep on my stomach/side-propped up semi-whatever position (which is not very conducive to cuddling) and I tend to flop around like a fish out of water in the night. I am in fact a very affectionate person. The hardest thing for me about being single is that I need human contact on a regular basis (hugs, whatever), I am a big fan of touch. But I also really like to have a good nights sleep and I have found in past relationships is that it can take me a good long time before I actually sleep when sharing a bed with someone else. The only good co-sleeping position I can manage is sleeping on my left hip and spooning that way (right hip doesn't work as it hurts to sleep on) and even then, I still usually have to readjust in the night, ok, ok TMI on my sleep preferences but whatever. As we all turned in, I put my headphones to listen to some tunes, knowing it was likely I wouldn't fall asleep until they had all settled into sleep for themselves.

When we got up in the morning, I was confirmed in my belief that as much as I love a good cuddle and having someone (even living together), I am not (currently) a good co-sleeper, even if it is just in the same room. I got absolutely no sleep. One of my bunkmates was not only a snorer but a sleep talker. As annoyed as I was, headaching from fatigued, I just tried to remind myself that hey, at least at the end of the day I get to go back to my own bed and not be bothered. That reminded me of the bigger question or idea of relationships because ultimately I know that if I liked/loved someone enough I would adjust. I would give up a months worth of good sleep to adjust to sleeping with someone else (I lived with a heavy snorer for 4 years afterall). Love is better than sleep. But it made me think of the idea of what else would I sacrifice? I think that is why I am most cautious. Sleep yes, but where do I draw my boundaries. Boundaries are important and I think I will remain cautious until I can fully understand my own.

We headed out on the trail with the ranger, did some trail work, enjoyed some beautiful views and then began our long journey back to the city! Overall, despite feeling exhausted by Sunday night, it was a great weekend and it was nice to take pause and have reason to really reflect on where my own boundaries do lie and ponder on relationships a bit. Needlesstosay, when I laid down to sleep on Sunday night I was happy I wasn't sharing my big comfy bed with anyone else.

View from the south end boundary trail, while doing trail work

I made them stop so I could take this picture for Kenzie.

Sushi is the new ultrarunning food
On Monday, I was going to meet Alison down by Pike Place Market for sushi happy hour. I said to Alison that I might run down to meet here from my house and she said, "yeah you should see if you'll want sushi for you at the aid station (at WS)". Though I didn't think I will find much appeal of raw fish at mile 80 on a hot day, I thought it would be nice to see how well I could run on a full stomach. I grabbed my pack, threw in a thermal and a rain coat, my waterbottle with Nuun, wallet and headed out from my house at a little after 3pm to meet her at 4:30 downtown. I was going to take the long way, so I allowed myself time. It was a beautiful day and I wore shorts. But I have also recently reconnected with my basketball days in that I had an overwhelming desire to start wearing knee socks again. That was my trademark when I played ball and for some reason I was struck a couple weeks ago to wear them again. And not just plain white, I wanted something more ironic, so I bought not only white with blue and brown stripes, a pair of gray but also a pair of bright pink with white stripes. I threw these on for my run and off I went. I have to say I think there is a big part of me that really just did it to delight in the twisted up and quizzical faces of the people I passed. At least for the first 4+ miles, I was not only the strange pink sock wearing, backpack toting runner, but I was doing it at a 6:30/mile clip. To me the irony was motivation enough. I got down through Fremont and headed up and over Queen Anne. It was a beautiful day and the run was an absolute joy. I made it down to Pike Place and met Alison. The sushi was the first sushi I have had since last summer and man was it delicious! I always loved sushi and it was one of the hardest things to give up when I decided to go vegan. Alison had to head back to SRC to do another two massages and so I strapped back up and headed out. It started to rain as I headed through downtown and so I put on my raincoat and got to do a bit more heat training like Orcas. As I ran, I realized that despite us joking when we had said it, sushi is actually a really good running food. The combination of rice, seaweed, avocado and pickled ginger are actually a combination I had planned to implement and have on hand at my races. It was nice to see that the fish sat so well. In fact, my stomach felt better than it ever does after eating on the run. There are many simple nutritional explanations for this, including that, at the very least, ginger is very soothing to my stomach. Even with a belly full, I was able to be pretty speedy and not feel the fullness at all. It was nice to see that something I had thought would be something I wanted for 100s actually worked so well and provides the right nutrients. I took a different long way home and managed a very satisfying 15 miles for the day.

As I came down the hill (opposite where this is taken from), I saw this dog
on a high wall (you can't tell how high it is from the pic unfortunately).
It was just funny looking. He looked like he was standing on a very high wall.
Dog on a wall, how curious...must take picture...
He was cute and cuddly looking, in that cute and cuddly til he claws your face off in unrestrained excitement type way.

DPS Navigation System
Alison and I were going to try and get up at 6am to go do our usual Tuesday Cougar Mtn run, but when 6am rolled around, I had little desire to be cold, to drive out there or be doing anything but sleeping and so we decided not to go. Alison had somewhere to be at 10:45 so it was either leave then or not at all. I planned to just do 10 miles elsewhere on the roads later. Around 8, I rolled out a bed and after getting up James called Alison and asked her if she could see the Olympics. Apparently they were out and looking stunning. The sun was shining and it looked beautiful outside. I had the urge to be outside immediately, but I was starving so Alison and I drove to Fremont to Flying Apron so I could get a gluten free muffin and almond milk latte. I then drove Alison up to Queen Anne where she was meeting her friend at 10:45. As I was driving back along Aurora, I could see what James was talking about but even better, I could see the Cascades as well. They were illuminated and vibrant, I had to give in, the road was not going to be good enough for me today. I went back to the house, teleconferenced with my boss, finished up some work and then calculated in my head whether I had enough time to make it to Cougar and back for a 2pm appointment, I did if I left within 10 minutes. I made a quiet apology in my head to Alison, since I had bagged out earlier and threw myself together and peeled out from the house. I made sure I had my Cougar Mtn map, since I have only run on Cougar 3 times. 2 times were with Alison and despite having it in the back of my head that I eventually wanted to be self-sufficient in finding my way out there, never really paid that much attention to the turns. Fortunately for me, I have absolutely faith in my ability to navigate. And my internal compass did not lead me astray on Cougar. In San Francisco, I acquired the nickname DPS and it has come to be something that has a great deal of meaning to me. I feel like after my run yesterday it should stand for the Devon Positioning System. I navigated perfectly and ran the routes that we had done previously and got a good strong 10 miles in at 1:31. I felt great and wished I had time for more, but had to return to the city. I think having a good sense of direction is awesome and really comes in handy, whether it is being able to find my way on Cougar Mtn or being able to direct someone to a parking garage on a one way street in the heart of Amsterdam (if you have ever been to Amsterdam, you would know that is almost an impossible task) or tour my friends around Edinburgh, it is one skill I will not take for granted and hope never fails me.