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R2 reviews the troops

August 15, 2014


UPDATE 3: FOUND… What it’s like when someone goes missing (thank you for helping)

August 5, 2014

Here’s the quick version: friend Curtiss Cox was last seen Monday, August 4 at 6:00am in Mansfield, Texas. He was driving a blue PT Cruiser, license plate beginning LS*-***. We need help fining him, because this is way, way out of character.

Update 3: Curtiss has been found safe!

This is the point where the story quickly becomes uninteresting, because when a missing person is found safe, we just get “Oh thank goodness”. The rest of the story is the family’s business…not mine, and not yours, and not anybody’s but theirs.

I am so, so glad that there is nothing newsworthy to report. Many missing persons aren’t found so quickly, or worse, are actually subject to one of those worst case scenarios we immediately imagine. Thanks so SO much, everybody who read, retweeted, and offered help during this time.


Update 2, Friday: the addition of

Curtiss’s family has put up a website,, as a support center for this effort. The site has a printable poster for people to hang out and about, as well as an update center, photos, and a guestbook to leave Curtiss positive messages.

Update 1, Thursday: Curtiss’ family posted additional information.

Thanks to all for your love and support it is helping to keep us positive and upbeat in a very difficult situation.

From Tuesday: 

I’m just the friend, so what’s today been like?


Weirdly, I keep thinking of 9/11, and I know just why. When something weird or bad happens, the immediate response is to want to DO SOMETHING. When 9/11 happened, everyone wanted to DO SOMETHING. I saw Facebook posts where people were baking patriotic cakes…they didn’t know what else to do. Blood banks were flooded (ha, and ew) with people wanting to donate.  So, when Curtiss’ wife, my friend, called and told me, I said “What can I do?” “Come over.”  Done. So done.

And I brought food. For some reasons, catastrophes nearly always mean food. That’s reputedly a woman thing, but I don’t know for sure.  I also brought kids, to distract their kids. This plan worked famously.

What are some of the rules of a missing persons event? Far as I can tell, it’s these:

What are the rules for being part of the support crew? These:

  • There’s not a guidebook.
  • Be helpful, and not be a burden. (That means not bugging the primary sufferer for updates. Bug one of the friends, kay?)
  • This is not a good time to talk about all the horror stories you’ve heard/read/been through. Now is the time for steadfast, cautious optimism.
  • Bring food. Food’s always good.
  • Gauge how much the contact wants to think about this. Sometimes you’re there to distract, and sometimes you’re there to say
    “Hey, has anybody tried this?”
  • DO stuff that needs doing. Sometimes it’s calling hospitals, sometimes it’s making lunch, or freeing the contact from having to make decisions.

A day like this is a day of waiting, of doing puzzles, of thinking of things to try and trying them. It’s a day of watching Facebook and your text message stream like you’re waiting for a job offer.

Please help us find Curtiss. We just want to know he’s okay.  [He was found safe on Aug 8.] Nobody needs more than one of these days.


*Yes, I’m writing a “please help us” story in the guise of a human interest story, because I want readers. I want Curtiss found.

Almost everything you know about running is wrong, for me

August 3, 2014

TL;DR – My running philosophy doesn’t seem to line up with marathoners’. It’s either hubris and inexperience, or I’m paying close attention to my body’s needs.

Talking about running

I have a friend who runs. He has a blog, and Twitter and Facebook, but he never talks about it publicly at all. He says, “It’s something for me.” I get that. Running is something I do for me, too. But I also have this thing about telling people. Some of it is, I admit, bragging and hoping for people to revere me and go “Wow, you know that girl Jen? She couldn’t run a single lap in middle school, but now she’s a half-marathoner!” (Or something equally awed.) But most of it is just a need to communicate. Someone out there is looking for something, and maybe it’s running, and maybe the thing I say is what they need to hear.

I imagine that’s the impetus for quite a few writers. “Someone might want to hear this.”

Training for me

I tell people, my approach to training to run is to read everything – I read a lot – and then do whatever the hell I feel like. What I feel like is running a lot, but not so much that it damages me. I want to run faster, but I don’t want to push so hard that running is miserable. I want to meet goals – a full marathon is next – but I don’t have any particular time limit on when I will meet that goal.

So yeah, I run however I feel like. And I’ve been thinking about that.

I showed a couple of marathon training plans to Sean, and pointed out that one has more rest days than the other (2 vs 1). “Gee, I wonder which one you’ll go with.”  That’s like calling someone chicken; the immediate response is “NO I’LL SHOW YOU.” But, I’m not running to SHOW YOU. I’m running to Achieve a Thing, to Do Stuff.  That quick exchange with Sean got me pondering principals.

Principles of marathon training

An experienced runner pointed me to a marathon training plan, and said to work out when it is that I’d want to run the race, and map out my training based on that. I asked, since my eventual goal is to run an ultra marathon, does it really matter when the marathon is? I’m training to run a really really really long way, right? So I kind of need to keep on training to run longer and longer, I would think.

The basic answer was that marathon training is unsustainable, that it’s really hard on the body. You have to put your effort into training right before the marathon, then take it easy.

I’m forming theories. I suspect that the goals of marathon training and my goals aren’t exactly aligned.  For a marathon:

  • You train really hard on a strict schedule and get to your running goal in a matter of 12-20 well-disciplined weeks.
  • The idea is to reach a goal – the ability to run 26.2 miles at a certain pace – meet it, and then chillax.
  • There’s a certain amount of pain and damage that’s acceptable – even expected – for marathon training and running.

But, for me:

  • I like to run. I’m not good with schedules. I don’t give much of a shit when I run the marathon (though I suppose sometime in the next 6-12 months would be great). And I’m not much for discipline either.
  • The idea is to eventually meet a goal, while enjoying the process and minimizing or eliminating bad effects. And when I meet the goal of running a marathon, I want to keep going and do something bigger.
  • I’m very lucky in that I don’t have any real problems starting out (other than exercise induced asthma, which I can manage with the inhaler and a slower pace). I’m currently working under the theory that my running philosophy can keep me running longer and longer, over a period of months and months, without injury. In fact, the goal of non-injury and low pain is far above the marathon goal.

The non-plan running plan

So I think instead of running 6 days a week, hard, on a strict schedule for the next 14 weeks (likely hurting myself in the process), I’m going to try what I’ve been doing: I’m going to run however I feel. However I feel right now looks something like this:

  • Ran two ½ marathons last week, so take it a little easy on the long runs next couple of weeks. 8-12 mile long runs on the weekends, 3-4 additional runs a week.
  • Ramp it up for a couple weeks, 15+ mile runs on the weekends, 3-4 additional runs those weeks.
  • Continue this cycle of easing off, then upping the mileage, ongoing.
  • When I get comfortable with my mileage, and with the idea of running the marathon, schedule one and run it.

This could all be hubris. People have been running huge distances for hundreds of years. But sometimes a culture can get it wrong. We’ll see how this goes.


Running 13.1 at 90F

July 29, 2014

Since I last wrote, we

stayed in France (and lived in the house and ate wonderful food and saw Paris and Reims and Troyes and a champagnery and and and…), and

came back (the long flight home was a dream, with individual in-seat entertainment screens), and

got back to work (including actual work plus cleaning up the house and such), and

I ran a half marathon.

I’ve run 13.1 miles once before, in training. But usually my long runs are 8-10 miles. The half is my next step on the road to a full marathon, which is a step on the road (maybe) to an ultramarathon. But for now, the 13.1.


What’s it like to get ready and run a half? I spend 3 or 4 mornings a week running – 2-3 shorter runs and a long weekend run. I take my camelback and dried cherries with me, because it’s hot here and I need a lot of water anyway. I like my regular runs, a lot. I run TO someplace, even if it’s “that bridge just past the spillway” or “the little parking area with the port-a-potty”, and then I run back again.

I did 5 miles on a treadmill once this last month, and hated it. Even with a movie on my Kindle, I hated it.


Saturday everybody got up early – Sean and the boys went with me for support, the sweeties – and headed up to Denton for the Wildfire Half. I got registered & got ready. 7:30am, they said Go.

It was really hot already.  (Heat index 88-93 during the race, 70% humidity.) There was some scant shade along the first 3 miles of the route – we were running along Loop 288 – and then there was no more, EVER EVER AGAIN.  They had water/Gatorade stations every 2 miles. After one or two stops, I started downing the Gatorade and pouring the water on my head.

Aside from the Camelbak and the water stops, which were essential, I had two saving graces: First, I made sure to bring along a change of socks for the halfway point. The volunteer and police officer at the turnaround were rather concerned when I plopped down on the side of the road and started removing my shoes. “I’m fine, I’m all good, thanks.”  Yeah, in future I’m going to change socks every 6-10 miles. My feet had zero damage, no blisters.

Second: At the last moment, I’d brought along a bandana, for wiping sweat from my face. That thing became the thin line between me and a slow death at the hands of Texas heat. I wet it, wiped my face and arms with it, draped it over my hat for extra shade and air conditioning, let it catch the runoff when I poured water on my head, held it in each hand to cool them down…I wish bandanas were some sort of living being so I could dedicate myself to them. I wish I could contribute to a bandana charity. I’d like to set up a little shrine in my house and set the bandana next to a container of Body Glide. I love that damn bandana SO. VERY. MUCH.

Sticking it out

So the last three miles were a weird kind of hell. I have this thing I do, where my body tries to shut down, and in turn I evaluate and then say “You’re not hurting, not sick, not hungry…you’re hardly even tired. Shut up and keep running.”  It’s true.

I’m lazy at heart, and I’ll imagine I’m in pain when I’m not.  But heat is different…heat is this primal thing to me, something that says, as strong as hunger or exhaustion or thirst, “You need to stop now. This is no good, you have to stop. Stop. Stop right now.”  That’s a real limitation, not imaginary, but it’s also something that’s blown up in my mind. I COULD finish the last three miles, and DID finish (albeit, sometimes running and sometimes walking).

I can run forever, I really can. But that heat is a true beating.

The guys met me right before the finish line, Eric running up and handing me a bottle of water, shouting “GOOD JOB! I can’t believe you did it!*”  Stopping was wonderful, laying down in the shade heaven.

There followed coconut water (IT WAS THE NECTAR OF THE GODS), hummus and pizza at Mellow Mushroom (OMG OM NOM OMG), and ice cream at Beth Marie’s on the square (AUUUUUGHHHLL…)

It was a good day. Now, running more and more and more, for some marathon. Some marathon in cool weather.


Results: Wildfire Half Marathon, July 26, 2014

  • Chip time 2:40:07
  • Pace 12:17/mile
  • Overall 264/436
  • Gender 124/244
  • Note to self: Go here for photos when they’re ready…

*In that impressed way, not a doubting way.

We went to France (#DBAsAtFrance)

June 7, 2014

We went to France, not to cram thousands of years of history into six days of snapping pictures from car windows, but to live here as if we lived here. You know, more or less.

Nearly everything so far has been under the Getting Here, and Recovering From Getting Here, categories of life and travel. No problem getting ready and gone Friday, and then we had 2.5 hours to wait at the airport. Dinner layover in Atlanta, then 8 hours over the ocean. The kids were GREAT, and I continue to thank my stars for the invention and wide-spreadedness of battery powered screen entertainments. Double, triple, and quadruple points to my Kindle Fire, which still has free space and a half full battery even with 30 movies, a couple dozen books, and 6 hours of continuous use.

Gettting out of CDG aiport – sorry Aeroport – wasn’t bad, nor was getting the rental car or getting to our tonight-only, recovery hotel. I’ve now been for a walk, hunted-gathered a large pizza, and slept 4 hours. (The boys haven’t, but Lisette is still down.) My body has no idea whatever what time it is – local 10pm, home 3pm, for the record – but it also doesn’t give much of a shit about that, so we’re cool.

A few things to remember:

  • How comparatively easy it is to travel with the boys now, as long as we keep them mostly separated.
  • How unhappy Kiddo was to leave her friends for a month. I actually understand that one.
  • How Ben kept saying, during the first flight, “This is the life,” and smiling contentedly.
  • How the boys sat down on the floor by the luggage while we were waiting for the rental car, and started up a friendly game of Go Fish. BTW, this game is apparently “Pêche” (pesh) in French.

More as I durn well feel like it. (Friends, check Facebook or Twitter  for pix.)

-Jen, elle et au France

Running and Falling Away

May 20, 2014

A half-marathon kind of morning

Saturday I ran the 5k for speed. Sunday I went for a long run, intending to break 10 miles for the first time. I felt so good, I went for a full half marathon, and did it. I’m very, very proud. And happy. Happy-proud.

This is the best and longest obsession I’ve had since I became a dedicated bookworm around third or fourth grade, when I got in trouble in reading class, for reading. You read that right. I was reading instead of paying attention. My mother still shakes her head over that one. Likewise, in high school when I would get all day detention (for excessive tardies, another head-shaker), I would borrow an upperclassman’s English text and read that, or bind up a complete copy of the Lord of the Rings (to make it look like a textbook) and just read all day. I still sometimes read more than I should, and have to force myself to stop so that I can actually work or see my family.

Running is now that kind of obsession. I’m steadily heading toward running every day – not as a goal, but because I really, really want to.

And I’m reading like mad, everything I can get my hands on in the library, and, and blogs, and all. I’m getting a little obsessed with the idea of not just doing a marathon, but an ultra marathon. Maybe even …no, not maybe even. If I’m honest, I’ve always dreamed about doing a cross country something. Yeah, it was a corny movie, but Forrest Gump really got me with that part about him running back and forth across the US. That’s always been a dream of mine. Probably why The Hobbit/LOTR is such a huge thing for me (and similarly, Watership Down, and The Stand). They WALK and RIDE across an entire continent, basically, and most of the book isn’t really about the adventure and the danger, but the sheer act of being together and planning ahead and dealing with stuff, all with an end goal in mind.

That’s it. That’s the thing for me.

I was just a kid, somewhere in the 9 to 11 age range, and living near Fort Worth. I remember saying to my mom how great it would be to just walk or bicycle to downtown – you could see the buildings in the middle distance. And she said, “it’s farther than it looks”.  I’m just now starting to get that something like that is MORE than possible. Hell, downtown Dallas is just 13 miles from my door.

Another big thing: I finally remembered to use my inhaler before Saturday’s 5k, which I wanted to run as fast as possible. (Final average pace: 9:56. Mission accomplished.)  And it was fantastic, I wasn’t fighting with my lungs like I have my entire life. My ENTIRE life I’ve sprinted, my windpipe has closed up, and I was done. I didn’t know that was a thing, I just thought that’s what happened when you ran too fast, and that I was a wuss because I couldn’t push through it. I can’t overstress what a huge breakthrough it is to realize that’s not so. In mile 11 or 12 of the (unofficial, not a race) half marathon I did Sunday, I got that realization, and then I’m just running down the road all teary and shit because it’s so freeing. I’m not a wuss, I’m a runner. I’m good at something. Not fast (seriously, most of the time, forget fast), but good.

So yeah. I’m a little into it.


“You fall away from your past, but it’s following you…”
Fall Away, by The Fray

Running Faster

May 18, 2014

Today I ran the Plano “Thrill of the Grill” 5k.  I picked it because I wanted to do a shorter race at higher speed. And also because Dean Karnazes would be there, and it’d be neat to meet someone who’d run 135 miles across Death Valley.

So I went today, and I ran a shorter race at high speed, and I met Dean Karnazes, and that was neat. That’s the short story. There isn’t really a long story, but there are highlights.


For one thing, I apparently LOVE planning and preparing the night before. This time I took a bag with me to leave in the car, and so I had that, my car drink, fruit, handheld bottle, earbuds, hat, and clothes together last night.

For another thing, I finally remembered to bring my damn inhaler. I don’t have asthma…I apparently have exercise-induced asthma. And so I got an inhaler, and forgot to take it for 6 months in a row. But today I remembered! I took a dose before the race, and it helped SO much. Now I’m not fighting with my air pipes while I’m trying to up my speed.

I did very well. I wanted to beat my best April pace of 10:37 (I’ve done better since, but on short runs), and I did. First mile I ran 9:03 (wow!), second 10:15 (already getting tired), third 10:39 (well, there was that big hill…).  But when I hit the 30 minute mark a good ~400 yards from the end, and the app said I was under 10:00, I made sure to keep up the pace. Final overall pace: 09:56.  09:56!! That’s better than I thought, better than I wanted to let myself hope. Awesome.


I had no one with me to get bored, so I stuck around for the awards ceremony. They have top 3 overall winners for men and women, and then winners within age groups. It was cool enough seeing the overall winners (so. very. skinny.), and the kids, and especially the really old folks come up and get their medals. It was doubly cool when the announcer started handing out gift cards to the youngest runner (age 5), the person who’d lost the most weight in the last year (over 50#), and a cancer survivor. I got some dirt or something in both my eyes at that point…

Anyway. Good race, good day.


Next goal I’m excited about is running TO somewhere. It’s 13.1 miles to downtown Dallas from here. It’s 18 miles to my mother’s house.

This is gonna be cool.


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