Little Molls

Sadly I have to tell you that Molly, aka, Little Molls, aka, La Molita, passed away last week. 

I felt like I should write about it because she and Toby are regulars on this blog, but I've also put it off. She was an old dog - my parents got her while I was a senior at Interlochen -  but it was still a shock that she was fine the weekend of the marathon and gone a few days later. Apparently her spine was deteriorating without us knowing it. She certainly didn't let on until the very end. 

Suddenly I feel like I have a completely inadequate amount of photos of her. 

She was a lucky girl to have been rescued by my parents. They treated her like royalty. Every dog should be so lucky, and in return, Molly was always so sweet. And she was lucky at the end not to have suffered for more than a couple of days, if that. But I know we're all sad to lose her and we'll miss her so much. I'm glad she got to meet Bo, but I'll be sad to be without all three dogs this Christmas. In fact, I don't think it will fully sink in until we visit for Christmas.
I'm also glad she got to meet so many of my friends and family over the years, especially at the wedding. She loved walking with my dad at IU and chasing squirrels on the President's lawn.

She and Toby weren't exactly best friends, but I know it's an adjustment for him, too, being the only dog. He'll mark her absence in his own way, I'm sure. 

It's hard to imagine ever meeting another dog as sweet and as easily loving as Molly. She was so good.


Indianapolis Marathon and Half Marathon, 2013

Last weekend, John, Kira, and Kira's mom, Karen, ran the Indianapolis Marathon (and Half Marathon, for Karen) in Historic Fort Harrison. John wrote his own race report for the event, so I thought I would post that here. My version of the story is a lot more boring: I stood outside in the rain for 3 hours, waiting for them to finish and hoping that none of them had hypothermia. And I got a cold. Kira also had a huge PR that I hope she will write about at some point on her blog. The end. 
So heeeeere's Johnny!

I know I don't post much on the blog, but I wanted to write up a report for my first ever full Marathon. In September of 2012 Abby and I ran our first half marathon with friend of the blog Kira. Ever since then, the thought of a full seemed increasingly plausible. I trained for the half using the 10k plan out of Run Less, Run Faster. I know it sounds silly to use a 10k plan for a race that is twice that distance, but the 10k plan included long runs of ten miles at an aggressive pace. Knowing that I could run ten miles in about seventy-five minutes, I figured that I could at least finish the half and I even ran a 13 mile long run on my own to confirm this. After doing well in the half and loving the atmosphere a full seemed increasingly attractive. 

In February of 2013 I decided that I would attempt to train for a full marathon: the Indianapolis Marathon. I consulted friends such as Kira who had run a marathon, and I also decided on a few rules. If I was going to train for a full I had to: 1use the roller everyday, stretch for 10+ minutes after all workouts, and I had to avoid injury by strength training. There were certainly a few days when I forgot to roll, but I'm sure I averaged a good home roll at least 6 days a week, often more. Training for the marathon went well, and come October I felt strong and confident. 

The day of the race finally came, and I lined up on a cold and rainy Saturday morning in Lawrence, IN to run 26.2 miles. The previous Saturday had been spent in bed as I tried to get over a cold. It lingered all week, but by Friday, I was confident I could at least start. I had four tiers of goals: 1 Finish the marathon; 2 finish in under four hours; 3 finish with the 3:30 pace group; 4 finish under 3:30. I had trained for a 7:45 pace, but I didn't expect to be able to execute a 3:23 for my first run, and many experts advise against having time goals for your first marathon This turned out to be good advice. 

The first 13.1 miles really whizzed by. I know that sounds crazy to anybody who's never run that far, but after training on my own for 15 mile, 18 mile, and 20 mile long runs, having people to run with and fans to cheer us on felt amazing. I posted a 1:44:18 for the half, right on schedule for my third tier goal! This, however, was to prove the end of my 3:30 dreams. Soon after 13.1, I started to feel tired and tight in three danger zones: my glutes, hip flexors, and ham strings. Previous experience had taught me that combined stress in these areas indicated fatigue. Under similar circumstances in a few training runs, I had ended early because of such feelings. At around 15.5 miles I attempted to stretch my hamstrings, only to find them especially tight. I knew I was in trouble. 

For the remaining 11 or so miles, my pace became erratic and I battled leg cramps. The worst stretch was from 15.5 to 20 miles. During this stretch, I was not at all convinced I could finish the race. I knew that if the pain increased, I would have to drop out. Furthermore, I had ditched my shirt, as planned, but the stopping and starting contributed to a lower than planned core temperature. Basically, the race was far from over, I experiencing new pain, and I was running shirtless in 45 degree weather. Not ideal. 

I basically just kept running. at a little turn around, I saw my 3:30 pace friends, one of whom yelled "Enjoy it!" I took his advice, focused on my first tier goal of finishing, and set about moving in bursts. Once my watch read 32KM (20 miles), I knew I would be able to finish. It was still difficult. At one point I had to ask a volunteer to help me tie my shoe because I had to remove a pebble. My hands were too cold to tie them back on. I just kept going, and attempted to enjoy myself. I had never run farther than 20 miles, so every new mile was an accomplishment. I clung to such thoughts like an emotional life preserver as I kept moving, and other runners kept passing me. 

I was just short of 25 miles when I stopped again. Another runner who had been with me for some time encouraged me to continue, saying "Oh, come on!" He said this in a good way, as in "you're so close, don't stop now." I started running again. About .75 miles to the finish, I saw Matt, the 3:30 pacer appeared and ran toward me. He matched my pace (something like an 11 minute mile) and started pouring encouragement into me. 
"This is your first marathon," he said. "You're already faster than most everybody who runs a marathon," he said. "Do you have someone waiting for you at the finish with a jacket?" 
I probably could have finished without Matt, but when he appeared and started running with me, I felt like I could be proud of what I had done. I will never forget seeing him and the unconditional support he offered. With less than half a mile to go, he asked if I could make it on my own. I said I could and he left to go run with others. I don't think I sped up, but I kept running, even passing a few people before the final turn. Once in the finishing chute, I saw and heard Abby. As usual she was angrily screaming at me to run faster and finish. I heard my name called out, and then heard the beep as the mats registered my chip. Total time: 3:51:12. 

All in all, it was and continues to be an amazing experience. I keep remembering that I actually ran a full marathon. I don't know for sure what happened with my legs. I usually do some dynamic stretches at about 2-3 miles, but I skipped that. It was also a bit colder than I had been training, and it rained a lot. I also stopped to pee twice during the first half and ran hard to catch the group (a serious tactical error). Whatever the cause of my troubles, I still managed to finish (and I trounced that lying son of a bitch Paul Ryan, a goal that helped keep me moving). I think the training plan I used worked wonderfully, and I love how I only had to do three runs a week (plus cross training and strength. I loved having Abby there to catch me at the end and to think for me when I was too exhausted to remember to put my pants on. And I can't wait to do it again. 

Pre-race photos:

Lining up in the corrals: 

Abby, warming her gloves by the fire, during the race:

Awesome race sign:

Post-race photos:

Northern Beers

We were so lucky that of all the people who could have shown up for our reunion, our friends Ethan and Josh were there. 

We had drinks at our former choir director's house one night and dinner there the next. His dogs were super friendly and climbed on my lap immediately - I didn't object, of course.

On Saturday, we decided to set off to see some beautiful Norther Michigan sites and to visit an ice cream place we used to love - Moomer's. I thought the stuffed (but real) animals in this display might like to taste my ice cream.

Michigan has always seemed like a beer wonderland to me, and this area was no different. Kira and I discovered a particularly impressive beer list at the Hofbrau (another old haunt) the first night we were in town. I had a great Vanilla Java Porter (delicious!) by Atwater, a brewery in Detroit. It's amazing to me that a remote, sort of truck stop kind of place like the Hofbrau would have such great beer. And yet, Michigan. 

Along with visiting Moomer's on Saturday, we went to Shorts Brewing in Bellaire, MI, per my request. I love the beer of theirs that I've tried in Ann Arbor and I was excited to try whatever they had on hand. Lucky for me, everyone else was up for a little road trip because it took an hour to get there.

Kira and I split a flight of tasting portions and I took diligent notes in the same notebook I used in Asheville before my voice came back. My friend Josh was rather impressed with my note taking - he said I was a beer connoisseur, though I told him it's mostly John's interest rubbing off on me. 

Shorts had a long list of beers on tap to try, and (not sure if you can see in this picture) all of the tap pulls were little legs wearing shorts...of course.

Visiting Shorts was everything I hoped - they had great and weird beer and great food. My favorite beer would have to be the OMGWTFBBQ, that tasted like bbq sauce with a sweet and smoky aftertaste. They also had a great and also weird bourbon barreled IPA that tasted first like hops and then like bourbon. But it was also good! 

After a stop at Moomer's, we decided to try another brewery in Traverse City - Right Brain Brewery

Kira and I also shared a flight here. We liked the Shrute Farms beet beer (yeah, as in, Dwight Scrute), though it was very earthy (like a beet). None of the rest really blew my skirt up, but I did like the special pour of their bourbon barrel ale that I requested. 

I loved getting to try all the fun Michigan beers and I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of them at the little grocery store in Interlochen. I was able to get some of Shorts' Soft Parade and Autumn Ale to take home. 

The next day, Kira and I set off for Canada. We stopped in Cadillac for breakfast at Cheryl's, and if you're in the area, I would highly recommend it. They have great breakfast specials with a view of the lake and delicious homemade cherry-rhubarb jam that I was able to get in a take-out container. If I make it back to Interlochen in another 5 or 10 years, I would definitely stop at Cheryl's again.

IAA "Reunion" Day

On the second day of our trip, we headed to campus to wander around and sit in on some classes with our former teachers. 

We walked down to the lake from the Academy side, a ways away from our cabin.

Seagulls hanging out on top the dance building.

The fall colors on campus were stunning.

Main campus, between the dorms, cafeteria, and classroom buildings. 

We attended Mr. McCall's Early American History class on the slave trade. Mr. McCall was definitely one of my favorite teachers and it was fun to chat with him about the class material, and to pick his brain about the shutdown, the 2016 election, etc. 

(Me, Kira, Mr.McCall, Tracy)

Only a few of us registered for the reunion, supposedly the reason it was canceled, so we easily fit into a group photo. 

 We wandered around the concourse where our academic classes took place.

Saw some old faces...

and some new flyers for theory tutorial and the Chamber Singers concert.

We saw the new (to us) library in what used to be the gym. When we were there, the music library was very much like a dungeon underneath the cafeteria. But now it's a swank, college-style building with the internet and everything.

Kira and I also attended Dr. Van Maanen's first year music theory class and participated in the day's lesson on second species counterpoint. Woohoo!

 The day ended with a trip to the photo archives where former Academy conductor, Byron Hanson, hauled out a bunch of containers of Academy photos from 2002-2003. It was a perfect thing for us to do, and we almost definitely wouldn't have gotten to do it if lots of people had attended the "real" reunion.

If you'd asked me ten years ago if I would want to teach at Interlochen, I would have said definitely not. It's so cold and isolated in the winter, and I couldn't imagine wanting to endure that indefinitely (little did I know we would move to Canada, so the joke is on me). Now, though, I'm in my 7th year of teaching (!!!) and I would totally jump at the chance to teach at Interlochen. The kids are engaged, the institution supports creative work, and it's prestigious, so famous people visit on a regular basis. I might not want to live in Northern Michigan forever, but I would happily sign up for a winter there if it meant I got to teach in such a vibrant, intellectually stimulating place. And the winters are the price for what are a pretty beautiful summer and fall. Not that they have a job opening or anything, but I may keep my ear to the ground now that I've visited as an adult and witnessed the great teaching that takes place there. It makes me realize how lucky I am to have been a student in such a place.


Shrine of the Muse Divine

After my high school reunion this weekend, I've decided to post a whole series of landscape photos. Because northern Michigan is just that beautiful!

Our cabin was beautiful, too. But I only managed to take a photo of the fake moose head on the wall of Kira's room. I kind of wanted to take that moose head.

And also our cabin from the front. 

Since I've been getting up early this semester, I was able to sleep in until 7:30 and still see the sunrise each day we were there. And as Kira was able to book us a cabin right on Green Lake, I made a special trip outside each morning to take pictures as it happened. 

Our cabin was about a mile from campus, near Diamond Park Road, surrounded by the firey fall colors. 

I was compelled to take a photo every few minutes or so when the light changed. 

Also, we were near Indiana Street! I realized that in the same week I will have spent time in Interlochen, Bloomington, and London. All three of my schools in a week. It's sort of like an autobiographical road trip. 

The sun really started to come up and the lake changed color quickly.

And then everything started changing color.

The view from the porch.

On the last morning, it was fairly windy and the water was choppy. 

What an amazing place this was to go to school. No wonder I decided to become a composer.

It was so good to be back.