Archive for October, 2007

Red Sox Versus Rockies

Now what could possibly create more division in my already divided life than a World Series match up between the Red Sox and the Rockies?  Now mind you I am not much of a pro-sports team fan.  Well actually I am but only when they are winning or going to the World Series or super bowl.  Guess that’s akin to only going to church on Christmas and Easter. 

Another whirl wind trip completed but this time I am struck by the dichotomy of my life, and it is an incredibly interesting life at that.   

I never realized what a strong New England accent Pixie has.  Pixie and I have run together for years now and funny I knew she had an accent but I never really heard the accent until I moved away.  This trip east she could have knocked me over with her “theyai”  (pronounced ‘there’ by those who live west of the Charles River.)  But the word that really got to me and she used it often was cah, as in “watch out for the cah!”  Or “you almost got hit by that cah.”  At first I thought she was merely trying to cough up a fur ball, but when she repeated the warnings as we made our way along our 14 mile run I knew otherwise.  Now all of a sudden my ears are tuned to this funny language only spoken by the select few die hard New Englanders.  Unlike the New York accent of my youth, the New Englanders speak with the gentleness of a nor’easter fog. 

This past Saturday I was the keynote speaker at the 23rd annual Regatta Ball in Boston for the MS Cure Fund.  It was a beautiful black-tie affair at the Hyatt Hotel within shouting distance of Fenway Park and game 6 of the ALS playoffs. 

I was once again donned in formal attire something I have not worn in quite a long time as this is not often worn by mountain mamas.  As I was getting dressed I realized I was going to need to wear panty hose to complete the ensemble.  Panty hose – something I have not put on since…..well since arriving in Boulder. 

Now I am reminded of my new Boulder friend, Joyce.  Being as so few are actually from Boulder I am not surprised that Joyce’s roots are heavily southern.  She is a southern bell by birth, manner and genealogy but she is all Boulder through and through.  When I told her about my upcoming gala she admonished me for even contemplating panty hose.  “Those are a thing of your past!  You’re wearing a formal, you don’t need panty hose.  Besides you’re from Boulder now and Boulder people definitely don’t wear panty hose.” 

As I was getting dressed I got to the panty hose and just couldn’t pull them on.  I hemmed and hawed and delayed the inevitable.  I fixed my hair, my make-up and finally slipped on my satin skirt and shoes and headed downstairs. I was going to do it, I was going to be totally Boulder and do the unthinkable….go commando! 

So herein lies my life of crossroads, the Rockies versus the Red Sox, the “cah” and commando, east meets west and me, right in the middle. As I write this the opening pitch is moments away and perched on my head is a base ball cap with the familiar red “B”.  Yeah, I may live and play in Boulder but I am a Boston girl at heart.  And oh yes, at the last minute I grabbed those panty hose and put them on. 

Climb On!      

#840

I don’t know what possessed me- perhaps it was the thought of showing up at the Good Harbor Beach Bridge at 5:30 am, our usual meeting time and place only to learn not one of the “Fish Chicks” would be there.  At any rate, I made the spilt decision to join the chicks for a half marathon in York, Maine.  Now mind you I am no longer residing on the beautiful North Shore and my split decision was conceived while jetting around the country most likely out of loneliness for my running buddies and a momentary loss of good judgment.  But somewhere between Tampa and Syracuse I signed on to run a half marathon.

I’ve done halves before, I love them.  The distance is perfect.  Just as the pain threshold is starting to creep in it’s over!  But this particular half appealed to me in more ways than one. The course wound its way along the Atlantic coastline through a quintessential New England town.  The day was one of those perfect fall days as pictured in Yankee Magazine and I was running with one thousand women and one man.  As a fundraiser for the local York high school, the race organizers held a lottery for one man to enter the all women field.  280 guys paid ten dollars each for the possibility of being the only dude to join all the women.  While our bibs all indicated our running number, his loudly proclaimed “One Lucky Guy”!

I flew into Boston late on Saturday night, rented a car and headed for Maine.  The fun already started at the airport as Avis cars saw to it that I was driving a sporty convertible this was funny to me because until Sheryl pointed it out I had no idea.  It was great to all be in a motel room again sharing beds and stories and reconnecting after my six week absence.  We have been running together for so long that our pre-race routine is as important to us as the actual run.

Inaugural races are always the best.  The food is plentiful, the race volunteers are everywhere and the spirit is always good hopeful that the positive energy created will carry on to future years with larger fields of runners, but still only one lucky guy!  I was having a blast.  I was drinking in the moist New England air my eyes fixed on the dark blue Atlantic.  The seagulls, the fishing boats, the rocky coastline all seemed to greet me upon my return to the northeast.  Everything was colored maple leaves and pumpkins. I was back!

I ran a good race. I was happy with my time considering my late arrival and the always necessity to chat it up with other runners while progressing through the 13 miles.  As Beth always points out, it is only worthwhile doing if it has the “happy factor”  The Maine Coast Half had that and then some.

No other runner was around me as I approached the finish line and so I pulled my thoughts away from the road just in time to hear over the load speaker….

#840 Wendy Booker all the way from Boulder, Colorado!”  

Yup, a New England girl at heart but proud as anything at that moment to be announced as a runner from Boulder, Colorado. Sometimes it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Climb On

  

Shawn

Seven years ago this past summer, I was offered the opportunity to climb one of the most spectacular mountains in the world, Denali.  I knew nothing about high altitude mountaineering.  I had no concept of life on a glacier.  So many people told me I was crazy to even contemplate such an endevor.  Many well meaning acquaintances warned that should I take on training and climbing my life would be forever and irrevocably altered and I would never be the same.  Everyone except Shawn.

Shawn was a natural athlete, every sport she took on she did with gusto and enthusiasm.  Shawn was a goalie on an all male ice hockey team.  She ran, she swam and her passion was fearlessly riding her mountain bike.  Injuries, trips to the physical therapist and hospital were all happily accepted by Shawn.  I remember both of us laying in peculiar positions at the physical therapist’s office with heating pads on our aching parts.  We would commiserate and promise one another we would not let a little injury keep us down.

But now I am recalling that summer evening sitting on the deck overlooking the beach after months of stuggling with the decision whether to take on Denali or not.  Shawn as always,  approached my climb with the same enthusiasm she would any physical challenge.  I absolutely had to do it.  To Shawn this was the ultimate, this was a no brainer.  I was so grateful to hear those words from someone who really knew what it was I was facing.

Life has an interesting way of weaving itself around us connecting us to something intangible that binds us forever.  Two years ago Shawn herself was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  As with all challenges Shawn approached MS much the same as she did sport, train, grit your teeth and fight with the best of your abilities. 

Yes, life has a way of twisting and turning delicately sliding through our hands like a satin ribbon. Sometimes we don’t even feel it slip through, perhaps if we did we would clench our fist and hold on to it awhile longer.  How I wish Shawn was here with me now facing another of life’s adventures.

On Sept. 14  Shawn passed away.  Not from MS, she was living a full active life pushing back at her diagnosis.  Shawn just died.  In less than twelve hours Shawn succumbed to an invisable, fatal virus.  I am numb.  This vital, active, recently engaged young woman is gone from my life, gone from the lives of so many who loved and admired her spirit.

My thoughts and prayers to Shawn’s sister Kim and all of Shawn’s family.  The world is a lot less bright now without her.


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About Wendy Booker

In June of 1998, this 55 year old mother of three was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS after experiencing balance problems, blurred vision and numbness on her left side. When first diagnosed, Wendy was devastated. But it took very little time for her to transform anguish into inspiration. She immediately turned her hobby of casual running into a continuous pursuit and has now completed nine marathons.

Mountain climbing became the next conquest. Wendy learned about a team of mountain climbers with Multiple Sclerosis who were attempting to climb Mt. McKinley (Denali) in Alaska. With no previous climbing experience, she dedicated a year to hard training and set off with them in 2002. Although weather conditions prohibited the team from completing, Wendy attempted the summit again in 2004 on her own and she succeeded!

The feeling of accomplishment she experienced propelled her next aspiration: to climb the highest mountain on each continent. Just five years later, Wendy Booker has successfully reached the top of six of The Seven Summits – Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. McKinley, Mt. Elbrus, Mt. Aconcagua, Mt. Vinson Massif and Mt. Kosciuszko. Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on earth, still awaits for 2010.