Table For One

I just returned from a brief vacation—three days in the Virginia mountains. It was my first solo trip. Or rather, first solo vacation. I’ve travelled alone for business, but have always shied away from the idea of vacationing alone. On a business trip, I may be eating dinner alone at the bar but it should be quite obvious I’m not in Orangeburg, SC for a relaxing get-away, so there was never any awkwardness. But eating at a renowned local tavern in a quaint VA town where people are sporting “I ❤ VA” t-shirts and everyone is holding hands and taking selfies, red alert: Solo single female traveler in your midst.

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As Heard On the Mountain

Blair and I were texting this weekend, talking about vacations. I’ve been contemplating various itineraries and although I haven’t said anything to anyone,  a visit to Machu Picchu is near the top of my list. So it didn’t surprise me at all that Blair and I ended up having this text conversation:

Blair Harris: I'm contemplating Machu Picchu in October.

Dena Harris: OMG  - Machu Picchu is one of the places I was looking at with Road Scholar. I would crack up if we bumped into each other there.

Blair Harris: Wow.

Dena Harris: “Sooo… Hi, Blair.” (As heard on the mountain.)

Blair Harris: You're funny.

Dena Harris: “Hi Dena. F--k.” (As also heard on the mountain.)

If it would happen to anyone, it would happen to us.



Going Home

This weekend I drove to Ohio for my aunt's funeral. While it was a sad occasion, I was happy to reconnect with extended family, some of whom I hadn't seen in almost 20 years. 

Since much of my family remains in Dayton and my best friend lives in Cincinnati, I usually drive to Ohio several times a year. And every time I cross the bridge that brings me into Ohio, the one with the great big "Ohio Welcomes You" greeting, I exhale a sigh of relief. I'm home. 

It's interesting. I've lived in North Carolina for 21 years and it's still not home. The people are still a mystery to me, as are some of the sayings, habits and customs. I enjoy returning to Ohio simply because I understand the people and the land with a depth that I'll never achieve in NC, no matter how long I live here.

Driving past farmhouses or brick ranches in tree-lined neighborhoods, I know exactly what the decor looks like inside. I know they keep the Joy kitchen soap underneath the sink with an extra scrubby and that they spare key to the front door is underneath the loose brick in the front flower garden. I know how they wear their hair, where they buy their clothes, what they think is funny and just how far you can go discussing religion or politics. I know the linen closet is most likely a mess and that cans of Campbell's tomato, chicken noodle, and mushroom soup will be in every kitchen, as well as a box of Lipton soup mix which can be transformed into a killer salad dressing. 

I know the importance of high school football, homecoming dances and staying up-to-date on the oil changes and tire rotation for your car. Everyone has chains for their tires in their garage in case of a deep snow and the yard will be mowed by 11 a.m. every Saturday morning without question, thank you very much. 

Catholic is the dominant religion and everyone goes to their festivals whether you're Catholic or not. Casseroles are king and Jello molds with suspended fruit are perfectly acceptable to bring as your offering to a neighborhood picnic. 

I'm always happy to return to North Carolina, but I was thinking on this drive back that still in my mind, North Carolina is where I live. Ohio is home. 

And it's always good to go home. 



Richmond Marathon This Saturday

Alrighty friends, the time has arrived. The Richmond marathon is this Saturday and yours truly will be lining up at 8 a.m. on Saturday in Wave 1 under bib #915 for what will be my 9th marathon.

For most of my training I've been ambivalent about my goals for this race. Should I go for a PR? Pace a friend? Run for fun? (Ha ha ha -- totally kidding with that last one.) But now that the time is near and the weather appears to be cooperating (38 degrees at the start), I've decided. I'm going for it. Going for a PR. Therefore, anything under 3:29:45 is a win. Here are my goals from best to worst case scenario. 

  1. Run a 3:25:00 
  2. Boston Qualify - 3:45:00 
  3. Run under 4 hours
  4. Anything over 4 hours indicates I ran into serious trouble so the goal then just becomes "Don't die." 

I've been training at a 3:20:00 plan and while I've done well, my training has been sporadic with the trip to Italy, the 24-hour Hinson Lake Run, and I was sidelined two weeks ago with a pulled glute/hamstring and missed some runs. I don't think I can run a 3:20 and I'm not even going to try. I'm hoping a 3:25 is within range. My goal is to hold a 7:45 pace while not thinking about holding a 7:45 pace because even saying it aloud sounds damn fast and freaks me out. 

It seems every other runner in Greensboro is running Richmond this year which is AWESOME. Although it's a big race, it's surprising how often you can bump into people on the course. Seeing a familiar face can make you think you're just out for another long run back home, no worries, no pressure. 

As usual, the Sole Sisters will be forming a caravan. Everyone has killed their training plans this season and I'm betting a lot of PR's are going to be broken this weekend by my girls. 

As for me, I'm ready for this race to be over just so I can STOP EATING. You wouldn't believe the quantity of food I've consumed this week. This. Must. End. 

As for all of you, I'm concerned. What will you do when you no longer have my blog posts about my running times, my injuries (both real and imagined) and my whining about how I'm sooooo tired of marathon training to look forward to? 

Lucky for you, I've signed up for Crossfit Sessions. Blogs posts about how sore I am, how I think I hurt my shoulder, and how I'm sooooo tired of lifting heavy things, coming your way soon!