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Fourth of July or Thanksgiving?

July 6, 2017
map of morro bay harbor

Along the Embarcadero, a lovely map of the Morro Bay/Sandspit/Morro Rock area shows us that “We are here.”

It might be sizzling hot around the rest of the Southwest, but Morro Bay (on California’s Central Coast) is dependably chilly all year . . . so Grammy Me and the grandkids had to bundle up to go exploring this past pre-July-4-holiday weekend.

morro bay hike

hiking with grammy

Shoes are always optional when hiking with Grammy . . .

sea otters morro bay

Sea otters! See the sea otters? Once thought to have been hunted to extinction, they now seem to be making a comeback along the California coast, a nearby volunteer/docent explained as she lent us her binoculars and filled us in on the local Morro Bay population . . . almost 50 of them now . . . the most in recent history.

Then the fog burned away just in time for the Barefoot Concerts on the Green show at Sea Pines Golf Resort. That’s right . . . this event is billed as “barefoot” . . . and people were! The Big Daddy Blues Band had lots of us dancing; you’ll find me dead center in the pale yellow top/white hat, groovin’ to the blues.

sea pines barefoot concert series dancers

So that was last weekend, pre-July 4: giving thanks for summer and seven barefoot grandkids to share adventures with.

colorful grandkids

But grandkids can wear a grammy out, so when we got home on July 3rd, I decided to relax the next day with a lovely 7:15 am 10k race through Orange Park Acres (an equestrian community just east of town where I spent some happy times as a young teen working with horses):

70s blond

Gotta love the 1970s . . . 

This time, I’d be on foot rather than horseback, but it was still fun to ramble up and down those old hilly streets and horse trails for just a bit over an hour . . . that’s right; my time of 1:04:44 put me in 89th place (out of 157 runners).

Dang: I’d have won a top three age group medal if I were in the 20-29/female age group. Instead, I was 10th out of 24 women age 50-59. (Looks like lots of us post-midlife-crisis ladies know how to really have a good time: go run.)

When I think back to October 2016, and my scary/excruciating lower-fibula stress fracture, I can only thank God that my bones seem to have recovered, and I was able to run smiling and pain free the whole blessed race.

It’s been a long (life-time, pretty much) journey of one running injury after another–especially the long-term left knee issues that first surfaced on May 15, 2004, at the Bishop High Sierra 20-mile race. I hope I never take the ability to run pain-free for granted. (And a shout-out to the amazing physio/movement practitioners who’ve helped me get to this point: Dr. Derrick Sueki of Knight Physical Therapy and Feldenkrais/movement coach Darcia Dexter.)

So there I was, Fourth of July 2017, not taking anything for granted, on a runner’s high all day, calling my kids to #racebrag about my (slow, but I did run negative splits for each of the 6.2 miles) time.

july 4 race

Here I am at the finish line (which was combined with 5k racers in red bibs). I think I smiled pretty much the entire race. (But, on a disappointing (?!) note, I was not able to maintain nose-breathing past the first mile or two; once my pace started picking up, it seemed important to open my mouth to breath. Scott Jurek . . . one of these days . . . )

And what was my favorite part of the course (which wound through an equestrian community on dirt bridle trails), she asked rhetorically?

The respite piles of soft fabulousness (otherwise known as horse poop).


I shot this image this morning, in another part of the East Orange hills, to illustrate this post (since I didn’t carry a camera for the race). 

There was a group of kids running the 10k race from some kind of running group; each time they approached a pile of horse crap, their (adult) leader would scream, “Hazard!”

This disturbed me not a little, so I finally had to speak up and remark to the several kids running along the wide trail near me, “Those aren’t hazards! They’re soft places to land your feet!”

As with most of my barefoot preachin’ and proselytizin’, I fear my words had little effect on changing anyone’s mind about how gruesome/awesome horse shit is.



But I wander on, shoeless and unafraid of any rocks, dust, mud, or critter crap decorating my path.

I can run again! Every day is Thanksgiving!

vp dam

Here I am this morning getting in some easy recovery miles behind the Villa Park Dam. It’s amazing how sore a grammy can get from pushing the pace during a measly 6.2 mile race. 

Since I’ve been averaging one race a year lately (2016: Monument Valley 50k; 2017: Fourth of July 10k) . . . tomorrow morning, I sign up for 2018’s challenge: my first 50-miler next February.

Happy (Grateful) Trails!

(NOTE: More gratitude to my daughter for taking most of the photos in this blog post. THANKS!)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2017 11:08 pm

    Hi Thea, It is great to read about your recovery and barefoot running exploits! Keep up the nose breathing too. Maybe I’m just way slower, but I find that after practicing nose breathing for the couple years or so that I have, opening my mouth seems worse than keeping it closed, even when running hard. Maybe I just don’t have the guts to push myself hard enough? I also tape my mouth shut before I go to sleep at night. “The Oxygen Advantage” by Patrick McKeown has the most info. on nose breathing that I’ve found so far.
    Just spent a week playing “roots” (old-time fiddle) music at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, then today my toe decided to get too intimate with one of many roots on the trail! I seem to be doing that toe thing more lately.
    Happy trails!

    • July 11, 2017 9:45 pm

      Hi Scott–Thanks for the note; I always appreciate your responses/ideas. Nose-breathing seems to be another funny thing we have in common . . . and it’s been an interesting challenge for me to try while running. I think what happened during the 10K race is I became afraid I wouldn’t be able to run as fast as I wanted with my mouth shut (there were a few small hills I will also blame it on 🙂 ), and that bit of fear became a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      But . . . taping your mouth shut at night! Wow! That’s an amazing feat! I’ll have to look into that book . . .

      Sorry to hear about your toe . . . ouch . . . been there done that. Your “roots” connection . . . ha!

      I came to the fiddle later in life (age 30) and played for a few years, but I was just too self-conscious about how loud (dare I say, awful?) I sounded practicing. Recently I’ve taken up ukulele and acoustic guitar, both of which seem to whisper (esp. the little uke) rather than howl like my fiddle playing.

      Happy Summer Trails!


  2. July 7, 2017 11:29 am

    Great job! Fun to see that the Boomers outran the Millennials. Dynamic Aging…Movement Matters (#KatyBowman).

  3. Gina permalink
    July 7, 2017 9:27 am

    Thea!! You are back to running again!!!! I am VERY happy for you. Talk about freedom….
    Love this post and all the fun revolving around celebration and the barefootedness. Woot for summer and retirement!!!

    • July 7, 2017 12:31 pm

      Hi Gina!

      RE: running: “It does not matter how slow you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius

      Hope summer is treating you well, and you’re recovered/recovering from the Kern River sadness. (And I just keep coming across scary stories of raging currents in our Sierra Nevada, and people not fully aware of the power of moving water . . . )

      And . . . thanks for thinking of how the “freedom” theme fits (would have fit) into my 4th of July post . . . a great connection 🙂

      Here’s some Grateful Dead lyrics a friend just sent me (in honor of retirement/freedom):

      from “The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)”

      “Well everybody’s dancin’ in a ring around the sun
      Nobody’s finished, we ain’t even begun
      So take off your shoes, child, and take off your hat
      Try on your wings and find our where it’s at.”

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