Summer Time

I love summertime almost as much as I did back when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because I have a summer birthday or maybe it’s because summer is wonderful.

Summer, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:

Evenings spent sitting outside on the deck watching fireflies.

Foregoing the layers of heavy winter clothes for the ease of breezy shorts and sundresses.

Feasting on meals of fresh locally-grown tomatoes, corn, and peaches.

Enjoying the feel of sunshine and fresh air on my skin.

What else have I been up to this summer?

Richard and I are trying to eat healthier. We’ve been Delvin Farms CSA subscribers for a few years now. The first boxes of the season feature an abundance of greens, especially kale, which is not one of our favorites. Yes, we’ve tried kale salad and kale chips, but neither are popular in our household. This year, we’re experimenting with putting kale in the food processor and have had great results. We mix it with mint for tabbouli and with basil for pesto. It’s an ingenious way to use kale and I can thank my friend Mary for sharing it with me. Richard and I also created a veggie lasagna recipe that’s easy to put together and delicious. I’m also eating more vegetables and fruits for work lunches and am pleasantly surprised by how much better I feel in the afternoons.

Richard had his “annuals” this month, which are the tests he undergoes each year post-transplant. His blood levels and chest CT looked great and he’s lost a few pounds, which pleased his medical team. Celebrating the third anniversary of his life-saving lung transplant surgery brings back a flood of memories – memories of waiting through the night of his surgery and memories of the time we spent with Richard’s sister Ann during his recovery.

I’ve been diligently studying Nashville history to prepare for my new career as a Nashville Running Tours tour guide. I learned the Music Tour route a few weeks ago and was impressed, once again, by the route NRT created. The route incorporates numerous opportunities for sharing Nashville music stories, including stories about the talented Nashville songwriters I’ve been privileged to meet over the years.

My brother Doug visited last weekend and good sport that he is, gamely went along with me on a practice tour. We got to spend quality one-on-one time together and it boosted my confidence for my first official tour yesterday. I had the privilege of sharing the beauty and history of Nashville with a fun young couple visiting from St. Louis. Afterward, I had to pinch myself that I actually get to do this – it amazes me the twists and turns my life has taken. When I started running ten years ago, I couldn’t have dreamed this opportunity. I can’t wait to do it again.

In a few weeks, Richard and I are headed back to the beach for another relaxing and invigorating vacation with family and friends in Duck, NC. I’ll fit in a long run while we’re there and, like last year, my tired legs will appreciate recovering in the ocean surf. One regret from last year was that I never got to kayak. This year I’m bringing my Tevas to make sure I get the chance to kayak in the peaceful Albemarle Sound.

I’ve been running more this summer than I have in years, including long Sunday morning runs with the East Nasty Women’s Half training group. I can’t say enough about how much I love running with the women in this group. Our fearless leader Alyce sets the tone of support and mutual encouragement. Even if I have a less than stellar run, I’m still glad I came to hang out with these ladies (and the husbands who come to run with us).

Tomorrow we have a ten mile long run. Alyce has us following the Hal Higdon plan. It’s a LONG half marathon training plan, but after following it during last year’s training, I noticed that my post-race recovery was easier than it had been for any of my other 10 half marathons. I guess it just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks.

The mental part of long run training is just as important as the physical part, possibly more so. Yes, each week your body get used to running longer distances. But it’s still hard work. Some long runs might go well, but others can be tough – sore feet, legs and butt, tight hips and crushing fatigue. That’s where the mental part comes in. Along with training your body, you’re also training your mind to ignore the exhaustion and pain and to keep running.

Another critical element of long run training is recovery. This summer, I’ve been using my post-run recovery as an opportunity to spoil myself. Richard bought one of those cheap plastic kiddie pools for our pooch, Romeo, but stubborn Romeo can’t be enticed to get in it. So I commandeered it for myself. Post-run, I have a blissful soak in the kiddie pool under the leafy birch trees in my backyard while I enjoy a treat of low-fat chocolate milk. For me, it’s a slice of heaven.

I hope your summer is also wonderful.

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