Friday, September 18, 2015

In Case of Fire....

It strikes me there is no pause button on life.  It hits me rather hard actually.  There is this thought that while I'm off on some big adventure or plotting the next big goal, or training towards it, that perhaps the rest of the world holds on.  In my head there is this little pin I put in it all.  Assumptions of a life that will be there as I left it when I return.  The faces, the places, the friends and family I knew, will surely all be the same when I turn back to face them all again.

There was this little sign above the fridge at the lake in Buckhorn, at my Grandfathers cottage.  It hung above a fridge from a time I hadn't known, with a pull down handle I was sure would break off some day in my haste to retrieve the flat orange pop from its insides.  From a time that seemed to stand still.  Like the broken clock on the wall stuck at 2:20 for as long as I can remember.  Such a silly sign, on a wooden plank that read:

In Case of Fire, Lift this Flap.

It was a standard joke in my family.  Now?  Can I lift it now?  Of course the underside always read the same words back.  I used to wonder if they'd ever change.  In a time of swing sets where if you pushed enough you could catch the leaves between your toes, in a time of dock sitting, of rock sitting, of eating local bakery donuts off the fork (so as too avoid getting sticky hands), I wondered if the other side of that sign would ever change.

When you're growing up, you do so with such haste. In such a rush.  Devouring the world for all its opportunity and possibility.  But the coming home?  That one 'safe' place?  It is timeless.  TV too loud because he didn't hear well.  Crokinole board hanging on the wall, all the red game chips duck taped to distinguish them from the black for his two colour blind granddaughters.  Little night light clipped to the head board for late night reading. Old Mill Wool Blankets on the bed.  The biggest tree in the middle of the back deck.  Deck built around it.  Learned to gut a fish on that picnic table.  Never fished again.  Paddled away from the shore only to realize after I got twenty feet from it I couldn't pick it out again to land safely home without him.  Learned to drive a car on those back roads.  Yes, my bully skills are that honed.  Convinced my wonderful mother I was deserving of the same rights as any other growing child.  Not that she needed convincing.  Think we traveled at maybe 20km/hr for about 10 minutes before she'd called my bluff.  Yes home is timeless.  It is constant.  It is the evergreen of my heart.

He used to put brylecream in his hair.  Came in a tube.  Never once saw him with grey.  Hummed to himself, unaware of how loud his little tune carried.  And that record player that took up half the living room.  The couch that was covered exactly the way my Nan would have left it years and years ago.  He'd straighten those covers before you'd even said good bye.  Seems I'm not the only one that craved the time warp.  Three planks on the coffee table, the toy cars slid so easily across and onto the floor, that looped carpet that tangled around my toes.  It offered me depth.  A place to land.  And the cars too, before the Storm trooper transport ate them up.  And the brylecream that made horrible tooth paste when you weren't paying attention.

My Grandfather; my mothers father, my great aunts brother... but to me... just my grandpa.  A passing I am unprepared for.  A life lived for some 90 years. News that sweeps me away like the dusty dirt road that stole the bottom of my tummy on the way to the cottage.  My image of the timeless 'home' becomes placeless.  Or perhaps well placed, in some memory.  Between the frying pan that was never washed and lived in the oven, and the stale cookies in the cupboard, I am tangled up in the thought of how to remember him.  All I can grip to, cling to, is that stupid sign that hung above the fridge with the pull down handle.

In Case Of Fire, Lift this Flap....

And of growing up in his shadow, his endless knowing.  The kind of endless resource of "how to's" that a Grandfather should have.  The slobbery kiss when I greeted him every time, the 1950's rusted patio furniture, the woodpecker door knocker, the car with the its falling down upholstery, the grapefruit spoons hiding in the drawer....

Turns out, remembering a life doesn't have to have this big epic list of amazing things.  It just needs to mean something to one person.  All the small things piled on top of the other change the world for the better.  There is no pause to your life or anyone else's.  There is no reason to need one.  Live every minute with a big heart and respect, and maybe a forked donut or two.

Between tears of my loss, I have incredible gratefulness at having known my Grandfather, Grandpa "Bear".  Between the memories I am left wondering if this, finally, qualifies as a a 'fire'.  Can I lift the flap now mom?  I wonder if it would still read the same thing on the other side....

That's how I'll remember you Grandpa...Timeless... placeless... and always there for me.

 "In Case of Fire, Lift this flap...."

Which, of course we had all done any number of times, only to find on the other side;

"Not now stupid, In case of FIRE!"

If it's okay with you Grandpa, think I'll try to run 100 miles remembering you, think I'll try and change the world just a little bit at a time, taking you with me every step.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Truth About Dating An Endurance Athlete

Yep. I'm going there.  Sorry mom.  Maybe skip this one?

You've heard those comments?  

'Your pace or mine?'
'It's funner with a runner'


So yeah... Truth time people.  What's it really like to date an endurance athlete?  Let me first say, I asked permission before writing this post. Also, let me clarify, by 'endurance' athlete, I mean the kind of athlete that NEVER turns down another run (unless it's taper time), the kind of athlete that has goals bigger than the buffet table and belief and discipline that put my very Dutch Grandmother to shame.  The kind of athlete some day I dream to be.

In the meantime....

You know you're dating an endurance athlete when:

- Your shoe collection is no match for his.  And you can bet every pair has a log in some excel spreadsheet (#TheSpreadSheet) for the number of miles on each, which pair brought the best PR time, what pair is best suited for what terrain, what temperature, and what pair matches the exact run outfit in the Running Walk In Closet (#TheCloset)

- Your pantry has six different kinds of protein powder in designated cans.  Each meant for a different kind of run (you can bet these are backed up in #TheSpreadSheet with data proving validity) Each has a flavour of Chocolate (because ps everything is Chocolate).  Also there's a back up can of each in the cold room for emergencies, like when random friends need pacing for 100 miles, or girlfriends say let go on an adventure, or a zombie apocalypse where ultra running is clearly your only chance in hell of survival.

- The same pantry, different shelf, has multiple jars of seeds and powders.  Chia, Hemp, Macca, Sunflower, Peptias (oh wait those are mine)... All meant for increasing power and strength.  All of which have the added side effect of increasing metabolism and uhhhh digestion.  This provides a space for a "while we are running" clause in the dating arrangement where either or both parties are permitted apology free farting rights.

- Hidden away where guests are not likely to easily find, is an equally astonishing stash of chocolate M&M's, dark chocolate, dill pickle chips, and cookies.  This stash never truly seems to dissipate.  It's almost like a reminder of a piece of life left behind in the choosing of the new path. Like all the size too big pants and shirts yet to be relinquished.  "Health" doesn't mean not enjoying life.  It means understanding that you can really throw a zombie off course with a forceful peanut M&M to the head while you run away in your Brooks Cascades that only have 368km on them.  Ohhhh and don't help yourself to this stash.  It creates worried glances through curtains and impromptu supply shopping trips.  The Bulk Barn super saver card is hotter than your visa at christmas.

- #TheCloset isn't for Harry Potter.  It's Stocked.  It's ready.  The GPS watch is always charged.  The headlamp always has fresh batteries.  He may not know where the heck that one screw driver is, but there's a fully stocked running bucket at the ready for the 3am call from a friend that needs to practice night running.  The drop bags have embroidered name tags for that favourite race.  There's a second (and likely third and fourth) #TheSpreadSheet for how to crew hour by hour in the next 24 hour race.  The vitamin bottles are labelled "Turn around #1" "Turn around #2" The water bottles are lined up in the cupboard in order of preference, possibly colour coded, likely matching the shoes and compression socks and favourite race finish shirt.  Finish times come and go, but hell that finish photo will be thrown around online for years!

- There's socks. OMG there's socks.  This is the only dating relationship I've ever been in when it's completely normal to go out shopping in purple and pink compression socks and shorts, smiling the entire time.  Where my tan lines are 'normal' and matching his.

- What's your idea of a dinner date?  When he mixes the recovery shake for you and shares the kitchen floor to guzzle it down while you sit in your underoo's having stripped off all the sweaty run clothes the moment you reentered the house.  We shared a kiss this morning, both of us shaking our blender bottles off to the side, hoping the other might not notice, or be offended.  Yep, match made on pluto I'd say.   Who else can you kiss without a second thought to the chia seeds likely stuck between your teeth?  Who else can you tangle your blender ball whisk with in the sink?

- This brings us to bed. What's an endurance athlete do when first laying down?  Think again... It's a well coordinated maneuver of who's knee will face which way to avoid bumping in the dark while stretching.  Yep.  I'm that sexy.  Pardon me while I spend ten minutes self pretzeling away my chance of DOMS.  Oops sorry, was that your hip? Could you just poke your elbow there in my IT band?  Awwww much better thanks.  Where were we?  Oh and ps... yes the neighbours hate us.

This endurance athlete business is a routine all it's own.  What do you do in your spare time?  What spare time?  Got two hours to run before or after work?  Perfect, don't mind me showing up ten minutes late.  Quick kiss me good bye before you scoot off for your run.  "See you in an hour love... "  translation: If an hour goes by and you don't see me, I'm in love with the movement of the ground under my feet, the run took me hostage, I'll be back, I promise.  It's the only love affair either of us will accept outside of the other.  It's the one we aren't afraid to share and protect for the other.  It's a #RunStreak thing.  It's a #ThisIsMe thing.  It's an acceptance thing.  It's a forever thing.  Like a long run... It's a perfect thing.  It's a forgive my snot rocket thing, can I borrow your hand sanitizer thing, a can I have a suck off your hydration pack hose thing, a 'your pace or mine' thing, a share the world together thing.

Yep he's #ThatGuy.  And I'm the lucky one, dating the endurance athlete... Truth be told!