Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Daydreaming (and yes about the lake...what else?)

      Currently, I am sitting at the desk at the office, covering the phones so that the receptionist can enjoy her lunch. I have a fresh cup of my favorite coffee in front of me. I picked it up on the way from campus to work; a Bruegger's House Blend. The phones are slow right now, I just get the occasional coworker passing through the main room. I give the obligatory "Hi, how are you", "Good, and you?" and I hardly wait for their answer. I'm not in the office right now. I'm in my head, pretending I'm somewhere else. Trying to picture the most peaceful, happy place I would want to be right now. A couple of places come to mind and all of them places I've already been before, dozens of times. I know it's ignorant to assume that out of all the places in the entire world, one of the handful of places I've ever been is truly the best. I know this, but that doesn't mean that I don't automatically picture the one I already know and love.

     So I'm not at the office right now, answering the phones. I'm sitting on the porch at the lake house. It's not 1:50pm on a Tuesday either. It's some time in the early morning, let's say 7, on some day where I have nothing that needs to be accomplished whatsoever (perhaps a Tuesday, at the lake it hardly matters). I have a fresh mug of coffee in my hands and I am living out the creed on my coffee mug: "PAUSE." in small black type on the side. The period in that statement as important as the statement itself. It's own small pause at the end of the pause. A pause from what, you ask? I couldn’t tell you, but I pause just the same. The lake is still, the fog hasn't lifted yet and even though I know there to be another shore on the other side of this lake, for now I cannot see it.

     There is just white. The white of the overcast sky and the fog and the reflection of the sky on the water that all blends together into one expanse. The only break in the white, the boats in their boatlifts, and then the reflections of the boats in their boatlifts, almost clearer and more crisp than the originals. The birds are starting to rouse, Maybe the sandhill crane family is hanging out by the end of the dock. My Dad is up and getting ready to paint, or probably painting already. Maybe Camp is awake now, talking to his Bubba about how he is going to go play in the sand. I imagine Perri May is sitting in the baby swing, that bright-eyed smile on her perfect little face. Stephen and Micah are long gone, having woken up early for some insanely long run. Anywhere between ten and 16 miles. They'll be back soon, discussing the run and which one of them was struggling while the other one cruised. Mom and Ryann are asleep still, as lake dogs are want to do (normally I would be as well, but in this idealized morning I woke up early, although one will note it is not idealized enough for me to have gone running...).

     Let's see, I'm not sure what Zack is up to, probably still asleep on the blue couch in the living room where he crashed the night before, soon he'll be up and urging everyone to get ready for an adventure. Maybe wakeboarding or sailing. Maybe he'll just have a laid back day and sit in the hammock and read some lofty book that no one but Zack could read for pleasure. Or if Maria is here maybe they’re both reading, or maybe she’s joined in the running escapades. She’s definitely up and at ‘em. Christina May has been up for a while now with Camp and Perri May and is taking this opportunity to do a workout, and maybe Stefani is here too and got up to workout with her. How everyone has decided vacation time means working out always baffles me, but I know better than to say anything else would be going on. I do know that I’m definitely busy enjoying my coffee, am still in my pajamas, and am happy to just watch.

      Eventually Mom and Ryann come down. Mom takes her spot on the porch and smiles at all her “peeps” enjoying the morning together. She’s eating breakfast or taking out a knitting project. She declares that she loves this moment. We all know. Ryann is probably dressed and ready for what-have-you. She takes her time with the sleep but once she’s up not a moment will be wasted. She heads out to the sand to help Camp with the bulldozer project he’s been repeatedly doing for the last hour. Moving the clean white sand from here to there and back again. She asks him about it and he discusses the details in a serious voice while he continues to push the sand back and forth endlessly. She pretends that he has dumped it on her foot feigning that she is trapped. He laughs the way only a little kid can, with his whole self, and looks up at her to watch her laugh too. This new development is worked in to the repetition: Move sand, bury Ryann, laugh, sand, bury, and repeat. Perri May has been let down out of the swing and is making her way over to see what the fuss is about and to get in her brother’s way, that big bright-eyed smile still fixed on her little face.

     By now I guess I’ve finished my coffee and we’re starting to make moves towards whatever adventure or relaxation the day is calling for. The fog has long since risen and the wide lake stretches out below the big blue sky. One of my favorite things, the vast endless blue sky and how it seems so huge over the lake. This day has so many possibilities. Will I take a canoe out and sunbathe in the middle? Maybe chill in the hammock with a good book. I wonder if I’ll try and brave the sailboat with Dad or Zack. Maybe we’ll take the other boat out and tube or fish or wakeboard, perhaps go for a mid-lake swim. We could search for arrowheads along the shore line or float on rafts over the spring out passed the docks where the water is slightly cooler. Who cares what we end up doing. It’s even a perfect day for doing nothing.

     Probably a storm will come in across the lake around 3 and we’ll welcome the opportunity to go inside and sit around the living room and just chill. Maybe a cousin or two will show up to hang out or an aunt or Granna will walk over from down the street to sit on the porch and catch up and snack on boiled peanuts. Later on we’ll watch the sunset from the hammocks, or maybe even from the hot tub. We might get together and play a board game or dominoes in the living room while watching some football or basketball game. And afterwards we might even have a bonfire, and sit around it with our knees close to the warmth and our toes in the cold sand and look out at the sky. This time it’s vast and dark and covered in stars, huge over the lake. One that might make you feel small and alone if you didn't know better or if you weren’t surrounded by people who love you.

     And then unfortunately, I’m actually at the office. Even though my face has forgotten this fact. It seems to think I’m at the lake enjoying family time because now I can’t wipe the smile off my face.

Do I want other things out of life? Yeah I suppose I do.

 Although, right now I can’t imagine what.

And perhaps there are “better”, more exciting places in the world.

But for the moment I can’t picture one.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


     You've heard the phrase "lifelong friends" before. It's used frequently in those cheesy college pamphlets. You know the ones, they feature photos of groups of ...diverse... students smiling ear to ear as they study on the quad or look happily at their laptops in their completely unrealistic dorm rooms. It's always been interesting to me to picture these lifelong friendships they're describing. Do we visit each other all the time? Do we still live in the same town? Do we still go out for Froyo all the time or has that tradition carried on to our children? Are our children even friends? The concept has always been hard for me to picture, in particular, because I am terrible at keeping up with people once I stop seeing them every day.
     Well, as the summer comes to an end I find it easier and easier to picture the kind of friendship that could carry on into one of these lifelong ones that everyone is talking about. Although the friendships I'm referring to weren't formed "studying" on the quad or smiling errily in my dorm as those pamphlets depict (although I have a few of those as well.). Mine were formed in high school, during the trial of miles: on dirt roads in Georgia conveniently named "Sunny Hill" where the summer sun is hot overhead and the hills are steeper than steep and earn names like "The Bitch" (later renamed "Icee Hill" by our nicer girls team for the imaginary Icees that were rumored to reside at the top.); they were formed on the trails around Lake Overstreet where I can still picture every last God-forsaken step, and on the field at the Greenway where we almost got struck by lightning doing our last stride back to the cars. These friendships were formed through countless ab circuits, weightroom sessions, hurdle drills, hailstorms, bikeroom excurrsions, Coach speeches, car rides to practice, pushups, hotel stays, bus rides, races, and a pair of hard fought State Championships. Specifically I'm referring to my best good friends: Jodie McGuff and Kelley Bahn (and Lily Williams, but she's MIA in Nashville) who were my teammates on the Chiles Cross Country Team.
       The reason I am posting this sappy, nostalgic post today is because these girls go back to school too dang soon and this next weekend is our last weekend to hang out. I am definitely not looking forward to them leaving, but the lucky part is that I know for a fact this will not be a "see you....never" type of goodbye. We'll be hanging out when we're all old and grey if we can help it.

      Now, the story of our friendship is an unlikely one. Not to say that we are all super different because we're not. But we certainly weren't in the same social circles and at least in my case I didn't really know of them before Cross Country (I could recognize Kelley from elementary school but I didn't know her name). Anyways the point is that if I hadn't decided to join the Chiles XC team...well my life would be very very different, that's for dang sure.
     I joined  the XC team (really I guess the track team technically) in the ninth grade. I had been pestered all year up until that point to join by my older brother (who ran for Chiles for four years and was on the 05 and 06 State Championship Teams). I only really joined because I had a huge crush on a kid who was on the team at the time (embarassing, no worries he quit shortly thereafter..) Fancy that, I owe a lot of my life acheivements so far to a ninth grade crush....awkward...and creepy. Anyways I guess a thanks is in order. I'm not sure why I kept at it, apparently I was a very dweeby and not very competitive runner in the beginning, and my family was surprised I ever got any good (Thanks for the vote of confidence...) but I am very glad that I did keep at it. In my 10th grade XC season I had a particularly incredible race at Ed Radice and managed to PR by a full minute and gain a top 5 position. The rest, as they say, is history.

The funny thing about XC runners is that they're all total weirdos. Now I'm not sure if this is because you kind of have to be a weirdo to want to run all those miles, or if it's because people in general are all secretly weirdos and it's just difficult to keep the secret when you spend hours upon hours day after day with the same people. Either way, it seems to me that the weirdoness of my XC teammates has been a very consistent trait over the years. At the risk of sounding like a...weirdo... I'll just say that when I picture our friendship I picture us all just sitting around laughing about the stupidest thing until we cry, or just talking nonsense words and wriggling on the ground like grubworms, or definitely eating, or definitely being loud, or definitely something else that makes us sound like we're 12 years old. This is what I picture anyways. Those are the best kinds of friendships. With us the laughs need no explaination and wriggling like a grubworm on the ground is a viable method of bonding.
      The best thing about these girls is that they've seen me at my best (running examples come to mind, of course), such as when we won State for the first time in 08 (by the third largest margin in the history or the meet and with the fastest girls team average of all divisions that day, and in the history of the state of FL, just saying) and then again in 09. And they definitely have seen me at my worst. Examples that come to mind:  a day in midsummer that I literally cried on a Sunny Hill Road run because it hurt so bad and screamed "THAT'S IT I QUIT!" down the dirt road at the top of my lungs (and Kelley shouted back "No Kendall, Come on!") and the days we did circuit workouts at Miccosukee that could make a grown man shudder, and would all encourage each other because we all knew that it killed (People who sometimes didn't even get along in those instances would still encourage each other, because it's only through shared pain like that, that you can become real teammates. I think), and many more struggle runs come to mind, and also things that don't even have to do with running. Through good workouts, bad workouts, proms, banquets, sleepovers, these girls have always been there and laughing and crying and struggle-busing alongside me. This is why I can't even point to the exact moment that our friendship really became one, or the exact reason that it somehow still is one.

So, even though we all go to different schools now in different states, and only see each other in the summers, we are still the best kind of friends. And even though we have all changed in the little ways that you have to change when you grow up, and in big ways sometimes too, we are still as close as ever and in some ways so much more close now. It's nice to be able to spend months apart and still be on the same page when we come back. This summer has been especially fun because of these girls and I know that I'm probably going to cry like a little kid on the last day of summer camp when they leave. But I also know that they will be my lifetime friends. That they'll be around for years and years to come. That they'll be in my wedding (assumming of course that there is one..), that our children will be Froyo buddies, and that they'll be hobbyjoggers with me someday (because instead of "dust in the wind" I like to say that "We are all hobbyjoggers in the end...") and that they will certainly be there beside me on the rocking chairs when we're old ladies, if we can help it, cackling about something that wouldn't make sense to anyone else if they tried.

P.S. (And hopefully BY THEN Lily will have returned from Nashville, if only to visit (not bitter at all!)).

and that's Kendall's Kelley's Jodie's and Lily's story.

P.P.S. I love you guys!

Monday, February 6, 2012

where heaven stopped and the earth began


so here is one of my favorite pictures so far. i don't super like the actual photo ..its a little too dark. but that stretch of trail back there on the lake jackson loop is literally glorious. the best is when you run out there right before the sun sets. not this run but a different one i learned that.  this is where my laziness actually paid off. i waited til the last minute of lighttime to run (like i do everyday that i don't have scheduled practice) and i was stressing about getting back to the trailhead most likely. i tend to imagine creepy creatures like this chasing me (okay that was more in my childhood years. but on a trail when its getting dark ones imagination can start to run wild. i don't actually feel like Prometheus and Bob are chasing me. i still run faster.)
Anyways the point is i was probably not thrilled to be out running and i was probably silently complaining to myself (anyone detect a pattern here? love/HATE right?) and i got to the back stretch pictured here. 

it was one of the prettiest things id ever seen. want to avoid describing it like some cheesy book but i thought i had stepped into heaven.  the sun was just setting and it was shedding this silver light all over. the grass was high then (about waist high besides the trail part) and the light hit the grass and split into hundreds of "rays" of sunshine. all this bright white. and then the shadows were..and the sky...and...literally it was beyond words. so i'm running and i'm just overwhelmed with this joy. cheesy i know. but i (checked to make sure no one was around) and just threw my arms up. (it sounds so goofy when i say it. but it was just the only reaction.) i had to stop (for a short time mind you i didn't want to be on the trail at night) but i HAD to stop. i stood there like a doofus just smiling at this awesome, glorious sunset. and i just said "thank you" and couldn't say much else.  i wish i had a picture of it. this sunset/picture is nice but it doesn't do it justice at all, but it's still a beautiful place to run. i only stopped for less than a minute and then kept running. i was on that stretch for a little while just turning and looking back at it like i would never see anything that contained that much beauty again. i will, one day. but i got a glimpse of it there. imagine if i had decided not to run that day.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

and the repetition kills you..

hey people!
     sorry i've been super busy the last few days and wasn't in the mood for any blogging. but i have time today and inspiration. so the title of this is a song title. it doesn't like speak to me or anything, it just has to do with repetition. which is the focus of this post. of this post. see what i did there?

i bring it up because carney island is just tons of 1mile-1.4 mile loops. ive found a few smaller trailbies but they've started to get overgrown and there are a lot of roots and a lot of horseflies in the summer when i usually run at lake weir. so yeah. repetition. it makes for horrible long runs and lots of turkey sightings (those turkeys are a little bit scary too).

so repetition is a huge part of a runners life. right? you don't really think about it but it really does just come down to right left right left right left right left. same trails same runs. same people same conversations. i mean already i have a butt ton of pictures of the track so far. (fancy that, track season and all.) my mom quotes a teacher of hers that always said "repetition facilitates learning". oh true. i guess with muscle memory that makes sense (i don't exactly know how that works im just saying stuff) anyways. yeah with running, especially long distances its really all about consistency. and that means running every day pretty much, consistently. i say this like i  know something (like i said i'm just saying things). peat and repeat. cate and duplicate. run run run as fast as you can (tangent much). there wasn't really a point to this post i guess. and that whole repetition facilitates learning thing doesn't apply to everything. for instance i ran the krispy kreme challenge and i will definitely not be repeating that experience because i learned that the marginal utility of a donut to my stomach is greatly diminished on the 7th donut. but i suppose the repetition of donuts helped me learn that so maybe in a way it is true. my brain is fueled only by glaze at the moment so i'm gonna go take a sugar coma now. but seriously promise me you'll never do the krispy kreme challenge. cross your heart! cross it! it was an experience at least. i repeat. never do it! and that's kendall's story.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New year, not so new road.

here she is. bear trail. we call it that because my dad claims to have seen a bear on it once. i never have. but i call it bear trail still. its this long dirt road in ocklawaha, fl (the "town" where my family's lake house is. ) can't tell you how many miles i have done on this road but i can tell you that compared to other places this one has hosted the most miserable, sad runs of my "career". It's hard to get up in the morning on a beautiful day at the lake when other people are sleeping, sailing, tubing, whatever; and go running on a hot, boring, dusty dirt road. Luckily some people are blessed to have the greatest dad in the whole dang world, no wait some people aren't because I am. my dad would sacrifice his laketime every morning to wake me up (20 times if necessary) and drag me kicking and screaming to this road. then he'd drive in the car and listen to dave matthews band or a book on tape while driving just far enough where i could still see him. Actually on most days he would ride his bike next to me the whole way and listen to me gripe and cry about how i hated running and horseflies and bear trail and running and horseflies and horseflies blah blah (i complain a lot, we get it). He would distract me by talking to me about the team and running or he'd listen to me complain about team drama or we would just talk. he told me stories. about him running through the trails singing bachman-turner overdrive's "baby you ain't seen nothing yet" as he trained in college, about my brothers running on the same roads years before (my dad did the same thing for them, 10 years in a row in all). he would sympathize sometimes, tell me to buck up other days. always "you can go a little faster", and "easy for you to say!" sometimes i would scream at him about how i just wanted to stop. but usually he wouldn't let me. i ran every day of vacation and it was no thanks to myself. afterward we would go to CJs bakery on mericamp and buy two dozen of the best handmade donuts you ever had. Those were miserable runs, but good conversations, and good donuts. I love my dad. and i love bear trail, even though i hate it.

That was in high school. In college, we found a new trail that i don't mind running at alone most of the time. but sometimes i'll visit the old bear trail and reminisce. i wasn't running over the winter break AT-ALL and i was okay with it. back in the day (when i was an athlete) i used to never ever skip a run but over the break the tiny thread holding me to running broke. i think it might have been a good thing because i realized what a big part of me it is. even though i'm just okay and even though i still don't really identify myself as a runner (i look at those random people who run on campus and think "i wish did that, oh wait") I started to realize i didn't like NOT running as much as i thought i did. So i decided to start again full-throttle january 1st, what better time, right? So that's this picture. I was running with my brother zack whose new years resolution was to get abs again (run "errday" was a facet of that) we were running and it was a lot harder to do then i thought it was going to be. i did my classic thing where i think about how horrible the next 40ish minutes will be and psych myself out. so i distracted myself by thinking about my new years resolution to run every day and how i could help myself want to do it. and i thought about how much running has been a part of my life (something only its absence that couple of weeks really helped me appreciate) i thought about getting a rock from every run (for some reason i thought THAT would be a good idea) and then i thought maybe i might turn into a hoarder and so i thought id take a picture every run instead. (not going to lie i did also think about how people would think that was interesting, hey i'm being honest, you can respect that). so i went and got a camera and went back to bear trail later that day and took this picture. its right before the last turn 6 minutes before you get to the end of the run (i hate bear trail. this was my favorite part). so i got a fanny-pack from my aunt and started this silly project. I would take a picture of every run this year, it really has helped me get out there some days. and  I think it will be fun. some people just see roads or trails or woods or whatever. but I was thinking about how many times i have run on all these trails and how i can picture every step of bear trail, forest meadows, sunny hill, all these places. how much of my life these last five years has been spent doing this. how i've thought so many thoughts, said so many words, laughed so many times, on these roads. i know its hoakie but i love the idea of having these pictures up somewhere where i can look at them and appreciate the memories and the beauty. i know it sounds silly. but maybe you can understand. well that certainly was one long run-on sentence.

"That might sound boring, but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most."- Up