Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Being trained

I watched "Man on Fire" for the first time a couple of weeks ago. I now hear Denzel's voice in my ear, "There is no such thing as tough. There is trained and untrained. Now which are you?"

I aspire to be trained. I penned out a plan to be one of the trained. I set out to train for this upcoming half with a purpose. But I gotta tell you, this training thing is hard work some days.

I had a long run last Friday. The longest one yet. I intended to run on a trail skirting a lake. Out and back, since to run the entire trail, I'd run a half marathon, and if I was ready to do that, I wouldn't be training. But on my way to the lake, I stopped on a national forest road that I am familiar with. Two lanes. Few motorists. I have often seen bicyclist there, but never runners.

I'd clocked the perfect distance on my odometer. I knew where my turnaround point would be. And I knew running this two lane highway, out and back, would be a better simulator of race day next month than any run on a dirt trail could give me.

But oh, it was hard work.

The sun didn't know if wanted to shine or send rain pouring down on my head. I like trails and corners. I do not like running straight stretches. Never have. They seem endless somehow.

My legs felt heavy from the get-go. Like the weight of the clouds pressed down upon me, and I was feeling it all. The struggle to propel myself forward through the air around me.

Mile markers on the forest road were sporadic. I am a list maker, and when I run, I like to see those mile markers tick by, one by one, as I mentally calculate the distance I've run and how much farther I have to go.

One-third of the way done.

Over half-way there.

Only a 5k left.

That last mile, I huffed and puffed. So close. And yet, uphill. Any passerby at the end might have thought I'd gone insane.

You've seen children playing ball in the backyard, providing their own play-by-play as they hit a game winning home run, "It's going, it's going, it's out of the park!" Haven't you?

When it's hard to run, when I want to be the trained, but I don't know if I can keep going to the finish, even when I know it is so close, I become my own announcer and cheering section. Like a child playing ball alone in the backyard, out loud I tell myself through short, shallow breathes,

"You're almost there, Shelby."

"Keep it up!"

"You can make it."

"Go. Go. Go!"  

I did finish that run and drove myself home. When I got there, it took me 15 minutes to convince myself to get out of the car and walk the 6 steps into my back door. Finally inside, I sat down on my recliner and fell asleep for a solid hour. Completely spent.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Wagon Train Stampede

Back in August, I was searching for something completely unrelated on the internet. I have no idea what. But as I searched, I came across a posting about tickets to Old Crow Medicine Show's Remedy tour in this mountain town. What?! How could I not know about this?

I immediately bought two tickets. Determined not to go alone. And boy am I glad I had the foresight to do that.

I brought my sweet friend, Shawna, who I knew from the start was a full on Old Crow fan. She was so excited to go to this concert. (Seriously, how had she not heard about it either?) Her enthusiasm was completely contagious. So even though I'm not usually the excitable type, I got pretty excited.

Like nearly everyone else, Old Crow Medicine Show came on my radar after hearing "Wagon Wheel." But in my defense, that was years ago. Years ago. Long before Darius Rucker took to singing it on all the air waves. I've road tripped all over the US and particularly the South. My family roots run deep near Johnson City, Tennessee. I once dated a fiddle player in a bluegrass band. I've been to Uncle Dave Macon Day's Old Time Music Festival in Tennessee. Buck dancing is my kind of entertainment.

If you've never heard of buck dancing, check out this video.

All that to say, I'm not just jumping on the band wagon here, if you know what I mean.

Miss Shawna and I pulled into the already full parking lot as the doors were opening. We had enough time to grab some goodies and a bite to eat and snap a few pics before staking out a place front and center. Because as Shawna says, "There is no where else to be at a concert." You all should have seen the look on her face when she asked me if we could go up front. It was a face no one could possibly say no to.

The opener was a band out of New Orleans, the Deslondes (pronounced like DEZ-londs, rhymes with blondes).  Shawna and I were both so glad to be introduced to them. Creative and inventive. Each musician equally sharing the stage. What a fun performance to watch!

After their set, technical issues delayed the show for an hour. And while I had said after the Deslondes finished how glad I was that the audience wasn't too thick, it seems I spoke too soon. The hour wait with no updates on what was happening, and no where to go in the tiny venue, left us standing on the asphalt the entire time, waiting and waiting and waiting. An hour later, the show went on, without apparently the generator and therefore stage lights. But as I said, buck dancing makes me smile, so naturally, I don't care about flashy lights and all the extras. Plus, we had a pretty good view where we were.

But by this time, it was a full on crush. And apparently a crush doesn't hinder people from getting their dance on. I decided early on to hold my ground. I was not going to be pushed aside by the gals smoking pot and twirling circles behind me. I had been standing in the same spot for 3 hours at this point. There was no way I was giving up my place. Mama calls me mule headed for a reason.

The first half of the show there was a lot of jaw clenching on my part. Trying to enjoy the music while simultaneously being groped, grabbed, grinded, pinched, prodded, pushed and shoved. It was nearly more than I could handle. Then out of nowhere some guy jumps on stage right and dives into the crowd immediately to my left. Unfortunately for him, it was early enough in the show that the crush hadn't gotten too thick yet. Everyone stepped out of the way and he landed square on his face on the asphalt. That was just the beginning of some serious attempts to mosh it up.

I planted my feet. Glad for the flat boots I'd worn, which proved much more useful than heels or sandals would have in that moment.

The mosh scene behind me soon caused enough commotion that event security was standing in front of me trying to determine who the instigator was. After holding up the music for a few minutes and threatening to kick some folks out without actually, I think, taking any action, Old Crow pulled out a Grateful Dead cover singing Dire Wolf, "I beg of you don't murder me. Please don't murder me." Which I found rather appropriate in that moment, because I wasn't certain I would make it out alive. And even if I did, I was wondering if event venues have policies for damages done by and to attendees. I mean, I had just bought my red gingham shirt, which I rather like, and I was pretty certain if things didn't calm down, the very least that was bound to happen is that poor shirt was going to be destroyed.

Luckily, things mostly calmed down with a change of pace in the tunes. And only hyped back up again at the end of the set when two men, one on each side of me, tried to weasel their way through. Luckily for me, I had teamed up with the couple next to us, and the guy and I basically had become a wall since the earlier incident. He was a brick, and people didn't mess with him, even though he wasn't that much taller than me. I found it completely unfair that because I was a girl who didn't have a guy protecting her that I was being treated with more disrespect than he was because a bunch of nimrods thought they could push me around. Boy were they wrong. I was not having any of that. I should not have to hire a bodyguard to enjoy myself at a concert.

I heard the guys behind me say, "I think we can still do it." I knew they were coming. I knew they were going to try to squeeze by me or try something. I didn't know what or when, but I was not going to let anyone treat me differently because I am a girl.

Sure enough a hand grabs my left shoulder and tries to push me aside. I pushed that hand away, turned my head, and said, "Get back." At which point, I see his buddy trying to move in on my right side, and I turn to him, and say, "No." Apparently those self defense classes I took way back when were right. If you say, "Stop. Get back!" with conviction, even guys much stronger than you will listen. I always thought it was baloney, but I was wrong. When some isn't expecting you to stand up for yourself, and you do, you catch them off-guard. Remember that ladies.

After Old Crow left the stage for the second time, and the crowd started to clear, the woman whose husband was the other half of the wall turned to me and said, "You're a badass!" Her husband agreed labeling me the best person to stand next to at a concert.

And thanks to our skills at protecting our coveted front row real estate, we scored a set list from the crew!

Look, we survived! Even my new shirt. I am so thankful Miss Shawna was with me last night. I am sure I wouldn't have made it through that rough and tumble crowd without a friend nearby.

All-in-all, I am glad I got to see Old Crow in person. Although I might need medicine if I ever decide to see a show like that again!

And someone really needs to tell Ketch Secor that Oregon is NOT the Evergreen state, as he incorrectly stated over and over and over again. For shame. Oregon is the Beaver State! And we're proud of it. So please, please get that right next time you come to town.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Catching up

Where to begin after being gone so long? I don't even know. I think the best friendships are the ones where time is irrelevant. The kind of friend who it doesn't matter when the last time you spoke or saw each other, each reunion erases whatever time is lost and you feel like you never parted in the first place.

I have a few friends like that. Friends who no matter the miles. The distance. The sporadic ways in which we fail to keep in touch. We have a bond that time and distance cannot break.

And so in ode to one such friend of mine, I am making an attempt today to come back here. To you.

Let's pretend for a minute that it's not Monday, and we aren't all frantically trying to regroup for the start of yet another busy week. Let's make believe that today is a lazy Saturday afternoon. It being the first day of autumn, we're sitting in my living room, grasping steaming mugs of orange spice tea.

If you need a visual, here's the couch I found to finally furnish my tiny house:

I call dibs on the left corner seat. That's my spot. Right next to the bookshelf. You can sit wherever you want.

Life got crazy after that hike to Comma Lake. My couch was delivered. Yay! We have somewhere to sit today. I have continued to unpack and decorate this little house that is mine. Nearly every wall is full of pictures and paintings.

And the yard. Have I told you? I finally have tomatoes growing from a tiny volunteer from a 3rd Street compost bin. Can you believe it? It's only taken me 6 years of living in this mountain town to finally grow tomatoes. Slowly but surely they are ripening. Even though I've had to cover them from the cold nights we're already starting to have here.

I have had visitors come from across the country to stay in my guest room. Such a change from a tiny studio. It's so nice to have a little extra space for friends. Not just friends, but family too. So many family events over the last couple of months. Birthdays and celebrations.

I drove my very last tour on the Cycle Pub too. It was time to say goodbye to a fun side job, and reclaim my weekends for a little while. I got to bring along my family and some dear friends for the farewell tour. It was bittersweet.

But can I tell you how nice it's been to have responsibility free weekends? Oh so nice! Quiet for sure. But refreshing and recharging. I don't have to tell you that I'm an introvert. A home body. After a busy summer of work and people and stuff happening all the time, I needed that. A weekend with nothing on the agenda. Nowhere to go. Nothing to do. 

Well not completely nothing to do. I signed-up for another half marathon. Call me crazy, but there is something about September and the fall that makes me miss high school and college and weekend cross country meets. So I signed up for what should be a perfectly fall race along the Columbia River in October. I have more time to prepare than the last two races. I want to be one who is trained. I made a plan. It hangs on the wall by my back door, so I can't forget to get my workouts in. It feels great to be in training. To see those miles on the calendar and know that I am getting stronger -- faster. Fingers crossed that I'll reach my goal in October. 

Other than that, I've spent the last part of the summer planning a very special birthday, for my baby sister. Look at how much fun we had: 

Everyone should get a giant helium balloon for their birthday. That's what I say. (You should have seen us try to fit that thing in my Camry! My car may look like something your granny drives, but shes' a beast with over 232,000 miles and counting. I love my car! And for the record, the giant balloon fit in the backseat with room to spare, after a minor seat adjustment.)

I am sure there are more stories to tell. And more to come. Did I tell you I'm going to an Old Crow Medicine Show concert tomorrow? Eeekk! Can't hardly believe they are coming to this out-of-the-way mountain town. But first, let me top off your tea, while you tell me, what have you been up to the past couple of months?