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Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Our family has a new dog. Zamp a great dog, but he's young (we're guessing about a year), strong, and full of energy. He's also a breed made to run. Rhodesian Ridgebacks were bred to hunt lions, and our family likes this breed because we fancy ourselves runners, and frankly we like the company when putting in the miles.

Within a week of adopting Zamp, my athletically-gifted husband tore his ACL. This is very bad news on several fronts, including the fact that when it comes to running, he is on the DL. Which leaves the task of running the dog up to me.

I quickly realized that Zamp is too strong, and too fast, for me to run with him like a normal, civilized dog owner. Putting in the miles on the canal or Loop with him is totally out of the question. He's so strong and fast that I can't control him and frankly, I'm tired of careening down the street behind a galloping dog while shouting various commands hoping one of them will make him stop. It doesn't work and these old joints can't take it.

So, what's a girl to do? Luckily, this dog loves to trail run, and so we spend a significant amount of time in the Foothills trail system right outside our door. Wouldn't this be a nice end to this story?

Except it's not that easy. Because this dog is so strong, so fast, and so excited to be out of the trail, and as it turns out, I can't control him there either. And so, I'm forced to let him off his leash. And, by some small miracle, he tends to stay right with me. For the most part.

But, I learned during one particularly difficult run that if there is anyone else anywhere on the trail at the same time as us, Zamp is a goner. He's off faster than I even realize to make a new friend, assert his dominance, or shop for a new family. In fact, on this one particularly difficult morning, we came upon a mountain biker, surprising all three of us, and leash-free Zamp chased this poor guy for a quarter mile.

Running in town is out of the question. And now, running on trails when other trail users are around is out of the question. And not running this dog is out of the question because he becomes very destructive. I curse my husband's torn ACL.

So, the solution, at least so far, is to hit the trail before anyone else has even considered it. Make first tracks. Watch the sun rise from a dirt path. Pray that no one decides to do the same.

So these days, my alarm sounds at 4:20 and we're at the trailhead by 4:35. Any later and we meet other trail users on our way out. Any earlier and I can't get out of bed.

This blog post is really a desperate plea more than anything. If you love Sage Hills as much as I do, could you please just wait to get started until 5:45? We'll be out by then, my dog will be tired for a few blissful moments, and I'll be eternally grateful.



Those who work with me know that my preferred method of professional communication is email. I love it for several reasons, including the ability to respond on my timeline, the written history of correspondence, and the ability to professionally convey a point without having to slap someone upside the head. In short, in my opinion, email rules.

To manage the three inboxes I maintain, I typically schedule myself for one hour each day to conduct what I call "email triage." This is when I carefully sift through that day's emails, dot my I's, and cross my T's. Make sure I haven't missed anything.

But this week, more so than weeks of recent memory, has been tough. It's been busy, chaotic, and I've been on the road for part of it; a perfect storm. And I have not enjoyed the luxury of any email triage. My inboxes are vast wastelands of unanswered correspondence, unfulfilled requests, and chinks in my professional armor. I am a woman in a skirt with unshaved legs.

For some, it's probably not a big deal. But for me, it's a very big deal. I don't ignore emails. And I pride myself on accessability and  timely responses.

And so, my daily email triage is now relegated to the bowels of the workweek: Friday evening. I sit, poised at my computer with the only armor I have: a glass of wine. I am ready, I am equipped, and I'm going in.

A few years ago, I recall reading an article about people who were declaring email bankruptcy. They were admitting, in essence, to their inability or unwillingness to keep up with the barrage of electronic communication. They were starting over. Demanding a clean slate. And, as someone who has let her inboxes go, I get it. But I'm not quite there yet.

And so, while some may be starting their weekend and relaxing, I am poised to begin picking off days-old messages, one by one. Like an email sniper.

Wish me luck.


Cycling Coach? Or International Assassin?

My husband is the go-to junior development coach for "USA Cycling"  or an international crime fighter. I haven't decided which, yet, so I'll present both sides of the story and invite you to be the judge. A few points of fact for your consideration:

1. He's a bad-ass cyclist. As in, kind of the best. As in, made a living winning races for several years. As in, accolades up the you-know-what.

2. He leaves for extend periods of time wearing nothing but spandex. And often at a moments notice and always with little explanation.

3. His phone rings at all hours, and I don't recognize any of the numbers.

4. Several times a year, he travels abroad on behalf of "USA Cycling" to work with kids in the junior development program. During these "camps" I can't call him (those roaming charges!) and  can only Skype with him during specific times of the day. And the reception is often fuzzy.

5. His contacts at "USA Cycling" have names like Mark, and Jim, and Fred.

6. Once our neighbor's cat was stuck in a tree. And he proceeded to rescue this cat, despite "debilitating allergies"' with ninja-like precision.

7. I am immersed in the current season of Scandal, and therefore suspicious of everyone.

What I do know is that we love him desperately, and miss him terribly. And once he has restored peace to the far corners of our world, OR helped junior cyclists gain exposure on an international stage, we can't wait for him to come home.

Until that time, I don't plan to touch a razor. Or the lawn mower. Which is a little bit liberating.

So, it is with this presentation of the factual information that I realize I am either married to Mr. Big of the cycling world, or an international ninja for hire. Whatever. Frankly, I'm fine with either.


Zamperini and the Pursuit of Sleep

I am thrilled to announce the newest member of our family, Zamperini.

"Zamps" is a Rhodesian Ridgeback/Lab mix, named for the main character in the best-selling novel Unbroken. We chose this name for him because like Louis Zamperini, this young man is fast, and has struggled mightily.

We adopted him from the Wenatchee Valley Humane Society, which rescued him from a "kill shelter" in Okanogan County. As the story goes, he was labeled "unadoptable" and spent three months in a cage entirely exposed to the elements.

Considering we're still nursing the wounds from losing our beloved Pearl, we're not sure who saved whom. We love him, and he seems to love us. It's a perfect fit.

He is a puppy- we're guessing about a year old. And because it has been 8 years since we last had a puppy and at that time had a full 20 acres for Pearl to stretch her legs compared to today's standard city-sized backyard, we underestimated a puppy's need to run. Add to that the fact that Ridgebacks are recommended as ideal running partners and our dear "Zampypants" clearly has endless amounts of energy to burn. And this energy level appears to crescendo at about 1:30am.

Because I struggle with insomnia it's especially cruel to be awoken by a joyful puppy in the middle of the night. Sleep is my drug, and I'll do just about anything to get it. But every night since this young pup has joined our family, I've been "Zamped." At least until last night.

It occurred to me the other day that if I could find a way to burn all or most of "Zamptastic's" energy in a pre-emptive strike, I may get a decent night's sleep. And good grief, it worked. Our first good run together resulted in 7 blissful, uninterrupted hours of sleep. So, I laced up my running shoes, grabbed the leash, and we welcomed the sunrise together again.

This is actually a genius partnership. "Zamps" is happy, healthy, and well-exercised. I maintain a level of fitness that I anticipate will be above and beyond what I would do solo. And, we both sleep. Win-win.

Thank you Zamperini. I look forward to  many years of sunrise runs.


A Fallen Comrade

I would be remiss if I didn't write this post, even though I would rather be doing just about anything else.

On Saturday morning we lost a very important member of our family, our dog Pearl. If you believe that I am about to be melodramatic, this would be a good time to move on.

It was one month ago that I wrote a post about a fantastic run we had done together in Sage Hills, and it is with an incredible amount of disbelief that I write this post. Her passing was sudden, traumatic, and heart breaking.

She was my shadow. Where I went, she went. If you saw me, you saw Pearl. She was protective, loyal, up for anything, and a true member of our family. The void and stillness in our home is stifling and we are marginally coping.

She left our lives in the same way she entered them- with unexpected momentum. After learning that our family foursome was now a threesome I travelled to Seattle for a work event and was surrounded by family and friends; a worthy distraction. And while I had not yet shared the news, I believe they sensed my heartache. They were kind, gentle, and gracious. And for that I am grateful.

I returned on Sunday, and found myself driving to the Humane Society to walk dogs. A terrible idea. In fact, perhaps the worst idea I've ever had. On the way there, one of my best friends called to see what I was doing, and when I told her, her only response was "I'll be right there."

She met me at the Humane Society and we walked dogs that I had no intention of adopting, because I didn't know what else to do. We cried and in a very strange way it was therapeutic. And for that I am grateful.

I'm also grateful to the people who have been sad right along with us. Pearl was truly "one of the girls" on our regular runs, and I've heard stories from many people about how much they enjoyed her. For that I am grateful.

You truly never know the impact of a companion until you live in the space without them. And that's where we are now. But, together we're slowly filling the void.

Goodbye Pearl. Thank you for choosing us.