A Love Note to My Running Tribe
My running group, Marathoner in Training (MIT), asked members to write a “Good Thing” that happened during the ever-so-odd and nearly cancelled 2020 spring season. I contributed this love note to my running tribe.
This week’s “Good Thing” comes from Nita Sweeney who refuses to choose between the 13:00 Run/Walk group and the 14:00 Run/Walk group, and who often finds herself finishing after the Walker group.
This MIT season has been filled with both “good” and difficult things.
In February, while my husband Ed and I were on book tour in California, for Depression Hates a Moving Target, Ed, had a heart attack. He also had pneumonia twice, and open-heart surgery in March that left him on a gastric feeding tube for two months. Gratefully, he continues to heal and is returning to good health.
Ed and Nita Sweeney returning from California in February 2020
Meanwhile, with bookstores and libraries closed, and book festivals cancelled or postponed, I launched a second book. This, a writing journal, You Should Be Writing, I co-authored with Mango Associate Publisher Brenda Knight.
For my sanity, I returned to running after everything I just mentioned (combined with a pandemic and a civil rights revolution) had derailed my training.
Nita and Scarlet the #ninetyninepercentgooddog
But those aren’t the “good things” I want to share.
When Ed came home from the hospital, and his care transformed me from “award-winning author” to “accidental home health aide” overnight, I feared I wasn’t up to the task. My MIT friends saw my distress. Food, supplies, cards, and stuffed animals flooded in and have not stopped even now that Ed is recovering.
All You Need is Love and a Unicorn
But their real gift came one Saturday when I got a text that said:
“Look out your front door.”
After a few of them had met for a socially distanced run, they had each driven separately to our house. When Ed and I looked out, we saw them, standing six feet apart, holding motivational signs like those normally seen at races. It brought Ed and I to tears. We both felt as if Ed was in a race for his life.
MIT Folks at the Door
That brings me to the “good thing.”
Whether you’re struggling to get in the miles, having a bad day, or feeling so low you’re not sure you want to stay on the planet, please reach out to me or any other member of the MIT family. We will stand with you and cheer you on the same way these MIT members have done for Ed and me. MIT is family, nothing less.
Even if you don’t live in central Ohio and can’t join our MIT family, if you run, you’re part of the tribe. That makes you family! The offer I made to the MIT members stands for you as well.
“Use a picture. It’s worth a thousand words.” ~ David Terrar quoting newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane in Brisbane’s 1911 discussion of journalism and publicity
One of the challenges of being an introverted author is the need for a continuous social media presence. I’ve written before about loathing the feeling that I’m constantly shouting “Look at me!” to a room full of strangers. My latest challenge has been to make Instagram work for me. I love taking photos and Instagram allows me to post them directly from my phone. But what do readers want to see?
I thought about some of my favorite writers who have Instagram accounts. Anne LaMott, for example, posts photos of her dog and her loved ones and, in her typical honest fashion, her aging mind. She posts a few writing photos including a short video taken at a publisher’s office, but she primarily documents her life. With this in mind, I began to post on Instagram the kind of things I already (somewhat compulsively) document anyway.
My first posts were photos of me with famous runners: Amby Burfoot, Bart Yasso, and Meb Keflezighi.
When Scarlet, the #ninetyninepercentgooddog came into our lives, she became the subject. Well, that and the things she shreds.
As a joke, I documented a meal. Some folks criticize Instagram as a place where you go to see what everyone’s eating. But my followers enjoyed the food post so much that I transformed it into my beloved #whatwriterseat posts which, if I’d done my research, would have been #writingfuel. Nearly everything already has a hashtag. You just have to find it. In this series you’ll find food that Ed, (the #onehundredppercentgoodhusband) cooked, things I cooked (badly), lovely things restaurant chefs cooked, and things I ate during a really nasty upper respiratory infection aka the “hostage crisis” during which I didn’t leave our house for ten days.
Since both my life and my upcoming memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink, have a mental health theme, I post about depression and the tools I use to manage it. I include running photos of the trail or my group or Scarlet trying to eat my hat. I show brain training photos since neurofeedback (another name for brain training) sits in my mental health tool kit along with running, therapy, and medication. I haven’t yet taken a photo of me in either my therapist or psychiatrist’s office, but don’t put it past me.
I add the occasional writing photo mostly of my laptop in different locations to show my “office-of-the-day.” When the book was short-listed for the Faulkner Award, I documented our trip to New Orleans. But my personal favorite writing photo was the “final” (hahahaha – is it ever really done) draft of the book I submitted to my editor at Mango Publishing.
As it turns out, being a writer on Instagram is no different from being a writer in the rest of my life. As a reader, I want a glimpse inside the lives of the authors I love. With the tables turned, I’m offering my readers a view behind the scenes of mine.
Eventually, I’ll post a photo of the book cover. Maybe I’ll print the cover and post a second photo of me holding the cover. Then, one glorious day, I’ll post a photo of the book itself. After that, if I’m lucky, because I do have the best friends in the world, you’ll see photos of my friends reading the book. I do love to dream!
Yellow Labrador retrievers like Morgan and Scarlet (the #ninetyninepercentgooddog) have a distinct color pattern on their backs called angel wings. I referred to it several times in my memoir, Depression Hates a Moving Target: How Running with My Dog Brought Me Back from the Brink which is due out from Mango Publishing this spring.
I would love to use a photo of a Labrador’s “angel wings” as the back cover image, but getting the right photograph might be difficult. Scarlet, at least, would not cooperate. Here’s a blurry one to give you the idea.
The publisher and I work on the cover together, but they have the final say. And, since they’re experienced in these matters, I’ll give my input, but trust their judgment. I can always use an “angel wing” photo in my promotional materials, if I can get Scarlet to stand still!!
As my husband and I age, the thrill of attending Ohio State football games at Ohio Stadium has waned. Frankly, we’d much rather watch in the comfort of our home while the pupperina chews on things she shouldn’t and where no one is spilling a beer down either of our backs.
But today, we made our annual trek to the ‘Shoe to watch the Buckeyes beat Indiana.
For me, the best part of a game is the band. Yes, I’m biased, but I believe the Ohio State marching band is unrivaled in precision and style. I lived for band in high school and still regret selling my professional Haynes flute. I also regret that I didn’t play a brass instrument and therefore couldn’t be in the all brass “Best Damn Band in The Land” at Ohio State. But I was in law school anyway and barely had time to eat or sleep let alone practice music or routines.
I miss the days when television stations showed the full band performance at half-time. Now, when the sportscasters blather on during the mid-game break, I clench my teeth and mute the TV. We’re lucky to see ten seconds of marching band footage.
So I may have squealed a little today when we made it to our seats in time to see the “incomparable” Script Ohio, during the pre-game show. If you missed it, here you go – our view from 19C, Row 2.
I’m fortunate to have a lovely bedroom converted to an office in our house. So it’s a bit unfortunate that I have so much trouble writing there. This is a serious first world problem, I know, but I prefer to leave the house and write in coffeehouses and libraries.
Writing takes both physical and mental space. And when I’m depressed, it’s harder to focus at home. With a clean table and a fresh cup of java, my mind clears.
The main culprit interfering with my concentration at home is our fifty-four pound yellow Labrador “puppy” (she is 13 months old) Scarlet. On social media, she’s #ninetyninepercentgooddog. She’s so much less mischievous than she was just a few months ago, but I’m hypervigilant and every sound makes me wonder if she’s shredded yet another chair or killed another television.
Now that Ed, my husband, is retired, he often stays home part of the day and helps keep the pupperina out of trouble. But he’s a busy guy taking classes at The Ohio State University, volunteering at the Upper Arlington Senior Center, and remaining active in politics. Some days, he’s gone most of the day.
When I need a break from the pupperina and don’t want to leave her alone for eight hours, I ship her off to Puptown Lounge for doggy daycare. From the looks of the photos they take, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t mind.