31 December 2013

I forgot to say thank you

In my last post I talked about my need to be less "internety" in 2014. What I forgot to do is to thank you, my dear readers, for your support over the last two years of this sensational blog-stravanganza. Ask anyone, I'm wicked self-centered.

Here are some of my favorite comments from you guys. Imagine the theme from Chariots of Fire playing in the background...

Hi Portia,You are an inspiration- not for what you tough out, but for when you advocate for yourself against your own (and projected) expectations... does that make sense? What I'm trying to say is- first world problems aside- thanks for modeling true, authentic listening to your body and your own needs. Running will be there- always! How you approach it is a healthy representation that we can all take a page from. Namaste (Stephanie)
I think I'm supposed to counsel you against negative self-talk, but instead I just laughed at "I'm not an inspiration. I'm a fucking moron." You should wear that shirt to your next race/fun run. (Kat)
"I'm out of this disease. Seriously" (Sean)
That is a huge PR, way to go. And I'm so impressed by how you fought for it through those hills. I love your self talk, too! (Beth)
Ah this post is great! We all deal with weird stomach issues on our long runs so why not talk about it more? I'm all for it! Also, I totally got my period the morning of the Providence marathon last year. I ran with a tampon taped to the back of my bib! (Alice)
I like that "I don't think about a day when I won't be able to run. I just run." I get that mindset and I think that is the most important concept that we runners need to embrace - "just run". Races are great now and then, but run for you and to just run. :) (Christina)
Hey Portia! Finally got the chance to check out your running blog. Amazing--You guys are truly inspiring. I tried running again (for the first time in years) after seeing you at Aunt Janet's 90th party. But I quickly gave up and resumed my couch-surfing and potato-chip-eating lifestyle. See you at Thanksgiving? xo your cousin Sarah
Repeat after me: you are not a total slacker piece of shit! You just ran a freakin' marathon and you're STILL RUNNING! That's 100-times more than the lazy ass on the couch right now, and more than 90% of America.  (Andi)
Congratulations!!! I love that you want to go out and hope some more. Side note: I had a home birth too, but I thought running a marathon was a million times easier. (Pam)
I think you are totally brave for facing and conquering your fear. You're doing great! Here's to another fantastic week of running! (AmyC)

To paraphrase AmyC: Here's to another fantastic year of running, to all of you! And me too. Cheers.

19 December 2013

Writing on the internet about disliking the internet

I don't know when it happened, but I got burned out with all things internet. I don't want to read blogs and I don't want to write mine. The whole digital world feels stale. It's been weeks since I looked at Twitter on a daily basis, and keeping up with Feedly feels like a bad assignment.

Ever since I was a kid, I've engaged with people on the computer more often and more thoroughly than I have with real people. Maybe I like computerized people better. They are less messy and they don't have bad breath.

When I was a pre-teen in 1987, I wooed my first boyfriend via late night modem chats. We'd write live love letters one green character at a time. While other kids were playing soccer and watching too much tv, I was creating a virtual persona on Compuserv named Heather. I made "friends" with geeky guys who sent me mix tapes and stuffed animals via snail mail. I secretly felt guilty about using a fake name and pretending to be five years older than I was. Fortunately nothing weird happened. Unless you count having more virtual friends than real ones weird.

In college in the mid-90s, I chatted via Unix "talk" with my real life boyfriend who sat across the table from me in the lab. We should have spent more time actually speaking to each other. Or maybe that relationship was better in the virtual world than the real one. 

In 1999 I started a weblog called I wrote self indulgent crap, campaigned for more readers by posting comments everywhere, and completely ignored my real life and the real people in it.

When social media became a thing, I eschewed it at first. MySpace and Facebook seemed lame, but then I caved to the peer pressure of LinkedIn and the pithy romance of Twitter. I tried tumblr and Dailymile and Goodreads and lots of others I'm forgetting about.

Recently I started wondering what would happen if I took all that time I spend on this internet crap and spent it on something else, something more fulfilling. Something creative that added up to something I was proud of. I'm not particularly proud of this blog. I am not sure anyone does or should care about my weekly mileage or my MS symptoms. I set out to inspire people, and hopefully I've done a bit of that, but at this point I'm not feeling inspirational. Don't get me wrong, life is good. I just need to change how I'm living it a little bit.

In 2014, I'm going to spend my time deliberately and focus on my real life. I'll stop blogging, maybe altogether or maybe I'll only write when I have something to say, which will probably be rare. I'll record my running in a paper notebook instead of on Dailymile. I'll probably stop using Twitter and Feedly, or at least change the way I engage with them - I still haven't figured that out yet. I'll read more and get back to writing in my paper journal and maybe I'll even write some poetry. You get the idea.

Maybe I'll keep up with this experiment all year, or maybe I'll miss the internet in a month or two and come crawling back. Regardless, I think you'll get on without me. I won't actually crawl under a rock. I'll still use email, but I'll use it to supplement my real interactions with actual people. You know, the messy ones with bad breath. Just like me.

I'll turn this typepad blog off soon, but I've archived  everything at my old blogspot space: If I show up again, it'll be there. 

See you on the other side.

PS. It's not just me. Other people are saying the blog is dead

06 December 2013

Holiday Giving Guide

Tis the season for holiday gift lists. It's fun to see what stuff people like (especially other running bloggers), but I am really conflicted about all the commercialism surrounding the holidays. Sure, I buy a few things for my family, but it's less and less every year. I'm grateful that we have enough, and I'd much rather we give to people who don't than add to our own stash. So instead of a gift list, here is my Holiday Giving Guide.


Our local YWCA does this and I'm participating this year through work. When you adopt a family, you get a list of things that family needs or wants for the holiday season, and you get to go shopping and buy the stuff on the list and then wrap it up. We bought a winter coat for a 3-year-old girl. This is a great activity to with others, as you can divvy up the list, shop together, and then have a wrapping party!

Donate to your local food bank

One in six Americans faces hunger. No matter where you live, your local food bank needs donations. We like the Rainier Valley Food Bank because it's in our neighborhood. They often have food drives right outside of the grocery store, so  you can just grab some extra stuff while you're shopping and donate it right there. It couldn't be easier. Find your local food bank here.

Adopt a pet

We've all seen those commercials right, where a guy gets his lady a puppy for Christmas? Why not adopt a homeless animal this holiday season? As I wrote this, my skittish recently-adopted kitty Marta was sitting next to me, and it reminded me that animals need help too. Check out to find a homeless pet in your area. Senior pets are especially needy, and cute.

Volunteer on Christmas Day

When I was a kid, our family friends always volunteered together on Christmas, delivering Meals on Wheels. I thought that was the coolest thing ever. Now that I have a family of my own, I finally decided to do this. I looked on and entered my location, searched for "Christmas Day," and found a local housing community that's requesting warm dishes for their Christmas dinner. We'll make a dish for them and deliver it on Christmas. This couldn't be easier since we'll be cooking anyway, and it will be fun to deliver the dish as a family. Then we can go smell the Sound afterwards -- one of my favorite activities.

Give money

Maybe you already have a favorite charity, but if not, you can use the Charity Navigator to find one. You can search for a charity in your area, or for charities which benefit people or causes that are important to you. Here are some charities that I will be donating to in the next year:
These charities all have good scores from the Charity Navigator, which means they don't have high expenses and they are effective in helping the people they say they are going to help. And donations are tax deductable!

One of my favorite things about giving is that my daughter is always involved. What a great way to nuture your child's sense of empathy, right? When I was a kid, I remember going door-to-door with my mom to raise money for the American Cancer Society. I remember going into people's living rooms while they wrote checks, and hearing our neighbors stories about how cancer had affected their lives. That experience made my world bigger.

Are you planning to give to people you don't know this holiday season? Tell me about it!

03 December 2013


Woooo! Yes! I'm super consistent lately. I've been running almost exactly 20 miles a week for a few weeks now. I think I'm ready to take it up a notch. Also, shockingly, I've been doing strength work twice a week for five weeks. I used to do it more often -- 5 days a week -- but it made me crazy and apparently that's not sustainable.

I dragged Maple down to the entrance of Seward Park yesterday so we could spectate the Seattle Marathon. It's the closest point on the course to our house, and it's a good spectating spot - you get to see the runners twice since they run into Seward Park, around it, and out. It was so much different than spectating Boston, which is the race I've seen the most in person (7 times). I told Maple we couldn't drive because there wouldn't be any parking. Wrong! There were no other spectators there when we got there, about 10 minutes before the leaders came through. I love that I moved to another place where I can walk to spectate the city's marathon. And Seattle gets bonus points for being slightly more chilled out than Boston.

Spectating the #seattlemarathon

We had fun cheering for the leaders and the middle-of-the-pack-ers. By then Maple was bored and I had to get ready for my own long run. I headed back down to Lake Washington Blvd and ran alongside the back-of-the-pack-ers for five miles, carefully running on the sidewalk so I wouldn't be mistaken for a marathoner. I went under the I-90 bridge and got all the way to Leschi's village before my watch beeped for 5 miles and I turned around. Surprisingly, there are some really nice houses right underneath the I-90 bridge. That's a strange Red Hot Chili Peppers real estate proposition. I was tired on the way back but managed to push it to 9:15 pace for miles 8 and 9.

On Thanksgiving day, we had our own family 5k in the park. Maple ran the whole thing!

Family Turkey Trot at Seward Park. Maple ran the whole 5k!!

I used to hate Thanksgiving because of my Settler Guilt. Wow, I didn't know Settler Guilt was actually a thing until I just googled it. Apparently SGS is going to be a recognized psychological disorder soon. Then I can feel better about feeling bad. I spent years refusing to celebrate Thanksgiving, or at least being embarrassed about having to observe it with my family, because how can you celebrate massive cultural destruction, not to mention lots of killing and stuff? It's kind of a downer.

In the last few years I've been trying to get with what's good about the holiday: being thankful, having the day off, spending time with family and friends. But I still feel weird about it. Living in Seattle makes my Settler Guilt both worse and better. I've lived in 8 states and of course they all had Indian blood and bones in the soil, and real live indigenous people too. But as a typical modern American, you don't really notice. Except for the Casinos. That's messed up.

In Seattle, a city named for a Duwamish chief, where a few years ago a large government project was halted when they realized they were building on top of an Indian burial place, the reality of the history in this place stays in your mind. There are totem poles and Indian art all over the Pacific Northwest, and it's not just in the past. Chief Si'ahl's tribe is still fighting for federal recognition. Indigenous people are still around, did you know that? Some of them even read this blog! Hi Stephanie!

Next weekend is Maple's 5k for Girls on the Run. She had her practice 5k a couple of weeks ago. I'm her running buddy, and we're really looking forward to the big day. I am so impressed with the Girls on the Run program. It's not all about running:

"The Girls on the Run lessons encourage positive emotional, social, mental and physical development.  Participants explore and discuss their own beliefs around experiences and challenges girls face at this age.  They also develop important strategies and skills to help them navigate life experiences. We start with helping the girls get a better understanding of who they are and what’s important to them.  Then, we look at the importance of team work and healthy relationships.  And, finally, the girls explore how they can positively connect with and shape the world."

Maple loves it, which makes me so happy. If you get the chance to be involved with Girls on the Run as a running buddy or a volunteer, or if you're considering it for your daughter, do it! Anyone (female) can sign up to be a running buddy for a girl in their area. Running is so cool.

This week I'm hoping to up my weekly mileage a bit while keeping my long run the same. I will also find a race to run in January. It feels good to take December off, but I need something to train for.

How was your Thanksgiving? Tell me how you celebrate, and if you think about the people who lived here before us.