Caren Ware's Blog

June 30, 2012


Taking a fully loaded truck and trailer and orderly decorating a 460 square foot studio apartment required minute and maximum space planning, much like living aboard a sail boat would require.  The only similarity I had to this was the four years I lived in college dorms and those same summers in summer camp cabins or a tent.   The timing of the 4TH OF July races was triumph, and I was ready to head back to Jackson, Wyoming. But somehow, I had managed to fill the Toyota Tundra truck to the brim with another load with the “ just in case I need this” es.  The passenger seat of my truck was now filled with books, publisher volumes, school catalogs, journals and letters, and framed photos of my kids and all their years, phases, places and things we had done. They were seat belted beside me.

Behind the seat, very gingerly intertwined, were my new summer companians.  I rewarded my hard earned year with the purchase of a Cannondale duel suspension, top of the line Mountain bike ,and an equally slick, light weight, carbon fiber, electronic shifting road bike.  Ask me their exact brand models and know you are asking a girl?!.  I’ll tell you the mountain bike is a flashy, brilliant green and yellow and the road bike is a prim and styling black and white, standing there like its ready to accompany you to a black tie affair. I dubbed the mountain bike ‘MUD BUD” and affectioned  the roadie bike , “ESCORT”.

I purchased the bikes from Scott MacAfee, the owner of Don’s Bicycle Shop in Rialto.  I started producing cycling events and moved to timing them twenty years ago about when Scott took on building bikes and being the sought after bike shop of So California.  Another one that has boundless energy, he uses it well to run the stores and play husband and dad, having four kids.  I took ESCORT out on a road ride to say good bye to a triathlete and good friend.  Val and I rode from Snow Valley to Big Bear and back.  The bike did great. The rider,me, well… a little weak.

Somehow, buying the bikes at Don’s Bike Shop was my way of giving my inanimate objects a personhood, a birth. I knew what their purpose would be. They were going to be my solid company. As if the running  industry would ever think of thanking me for the events I started, and timed, and the years of services rendered.  No.  No job ever does.  So I thanked myself with my bikes.  I pulled away from the shop, the area, my now empty warehouse, and the house I raised my kids in the mountains.  The San Bernardino Mountains were in my rearview mirror.  PRIME TIME was now snuggly in a wisely moved to local and closer to the races.  The new Orange County office has easy freeway access.  My home in the mountains had been sold and was now repainted a different color and they added a decorated wood garage door.  It was now someone else’s home.

My divorce was a slash right down the middle of my entire being, like the lawyer papers read and any good judge would sign. It had been an upheaval, emotional, accusatory, and forever damaging few years.  Would that wound ever heal?  All the memories, regrets, triumphs, successes, failures, moments…raising the kids, providing and guiding had been so numbed by this past year.    Grief, inevitable grief hopped into the truck with me.  I knew I had no other choice, but to embrace this unwanted traveling champion.  But it was this grief that was making me head north.

North to Jackson, where they had miles and miles of paved bike paths, and thousands of miles of dirt roads and single track.  Where mountain ranges went in all directions and trails that would take a lifetime to explore.  Where I could put MUD BUD and ESCORT to the task of riding grief right out of me.   Where I could put on trail shoes and explore my way back into condition.  Where hiking boots could reteach me the simplicity and peace of just being outdoors.  Lord, I pray I discover Who you are again. Divorce annihilates direction.  I had to find and get my bearings.  Divorce drains esteem right out of you.  To the very last drop.  I had to inject some back into my veins… somehow.  And I had to let grief just settle right in with the conscious choice that it was not welcome to stay too long.

The phone rang.  My daughter asked if I would postpone driving away and join her for a movie before I left.  I parked my truck in the furthest end of the parking lot, embarrassed by its full load. We bought two tickets to see the cartooned movie, BRAVE.  She had seen it and thought the characters were us.  The story line was everything to do with a strained, but hope determined relationship between a character of a daughter and an instructive, hardworking, well-meaning mom who was robbing herself and her daughter of a loving relationship because she was too self-protected and too guarded to show genuine affection.  In rare moments, the mom would let her guard down and the beauty of true connection would happen.  Carrie wanted us to have that connection.  “‘See that one mom…don’t blink.  That sparkle moment.  We had those.  We can have those.  Mom.  I want that more than anything.”  We sat in her car and fought back the tears, relating all too well.

And yet, even in her car, even being transparent, hugging each other as we left for summers of growth and unknown, my walls were up.  They were tall.  The layers of bricks were built with some strong mortar.

I had some riding, and walking to do.

Be BRAVE, Caren.  Be BRAVE.

June 20, 2012

Up the Creek with TOO many paddles

 My little trip north left me in the middle of the night with a GPS Navigator that announced, “Lost signal” and that is exactly what I did. Got lost. After veering off the interstate at Salt Lake, I wandered around for miles that turned into long, dark, middle of the night hours. In the dark, I was passing hay ranches, lakes, one lane roads, and dodging deer and moose. And I was sincerely cris crossing my way through Wyoming’s back roads which were rarely heading north. It can get really dark out here and makes your courage dimishingly small. Somehow, it took me until dusk to find signs that pointed me to Jackson. Opps. But anyone that has driven into Jackson, Wyoming from any direction KNOWS the reward of this stunning, beauty peaked area. All was forgiven, save the opps of hauling a California KING bed thinking it would cozily fit in a 460 square foot apartment. It got packed right back in the trailer to be sent back to the state it was named after. A trundle day bed was ordered so I could walk to the bathroom instead of crawl over my bed just to pee.

All I had time to do in Jackson was be thrilled I was a trot away from the healthiest, bubbling creek. Over the most refreshing foot bridge were trails, specifically one that switch backed to the top of the ridge and sported a 360 degree, panoramic view of the Tetons, and all kinds of Mountain ranges. Thrill.  Look fast. Below in the town were so many restaurant choices and coffee nooks, bagel shops and special delis.  Yum.

But no basking.  I had to make a fast high tail it back to So California. We had June and 4th of July races to do. And they needed me and this trailer.

So begins a few months of commuting from Wyoming to So California!  That middle of the night…wandering through the two than one lane roads to catch cheap flights from Salt Lake, became a weekly vigil. I was hiking and biking during the week and there with you at your races on the weekends!  It was quite the trick.  But I was about to learn what it meant to trully BE IN THE DARK.

June 15, 2012

Getting in the Boat

Filed under: A Runner's Story — Caren Ware @ 11:55 pm

I met this gal on the return flight from South America.  Her energy, friendliness, mannerisms, and English were impressive.  She introduced herself as a Peruvian from a desert town that she just knew I wouldn’t have heard of.  She was currently working in Beverly Hills as a house tender and personal aid to older women.  She was dating a fun gentleman that defected from Cuba.  He lived in a small town in California that she stated that I also wouldn’t know.  Her Peruvian town?  The very town that my daughter, at age fourteen, had helped in an orphanage and got stranded during a countrywide citizen uprising.  Her boyfriend’s town?  It was next door to my timing business.  We hit off hours and hours of conversation.

She told me that I would be missing out if I did not join them for a PIG feast, Cuban style, they were hosting.  I knew I would come.  Somehow, that ‘plight’ to find footing in a foreign place connects with me.  She got timid when she shared how hard it was to leave her young daughter behind in Peru, but she felt her only ‘hope’ would be opportunities in another country.  She looked away and said.  “Thank you for letting me share that.  Somehow, I feel like you care about that.”  I shared with her a few of my own ups and downs and the ‘plight’ of our Mexican boys, boys that are family to me.

When I got to the bar b que, I was instantly shoulder hugged and introduced to everyone at once.  “Come.  Come”.  We were hoping you would join us.  We had a little set back.  But nothing that would deter us from baking this “PIG.” THE PIG was the center of the celebration, ceremoniously checked with spices and the right temperature of the coals.  “We might unveil the pig much later than expected.”  The set back was that the neighbors had called the FIRE DEPARTMENT reporting the dastardly crime of an illegal bar-b-que pit in the Cuban’s own backyard.  Having to respond, the sorry faced firefighters showed up, lights flashing, hoisted out their hoses, and doused the pig pit.  The party, then, had to go to the store and purchase charcoal, which they were all debating on how that would change the flavor of the pig…so they disguised the wood fire with bits of charcoal and defiantly carried on.

The striking Cuban, this gal’s boyfriend, shared, “Sorry for the defiance, but we have to bake the pig.  I find this humorous.  That I can endure Cuban prison camps as a teen and escape in a boat built for 4 while we had 15.  You see, us teens decided death was better than life in Cuban.  It was a very risky and unknown outcome of stealing a boat and shoving off our Cuban shore in ‘hopes’ of whatever.  There were 15 of us all in one tiny boat.  We spent 11 days out at sea with no food and only caught rain water.  Two of us died.  I, the youngest at 16, dropped 31 pounds.  We were barely alive when a Navy freighter found us.  A Catholic church sponsored us.  I was adopted and not sent back.  And the rest has been a hard working life to provide for my own kids”.  He proudly wrapped his arms around a strapping son. He smirked at their American…ness.  The tenacity was deep set in his eyes and yet sparkled. Good combination. He said those that survived that boat ride make a point of getting together, reunion style, each year. He shared, “Some are successful.  Others not.  Just luck of the draw I guess.”  Looking around at his humble home, but filled with laughter, noise, and the scurry of producing all the delicious Cuban dishes to go with THE PIG,  he gestures with finality, “I can count this as success, can’t I?.” You bet he can.

So I drive away, thinking, that’s all I need… courage.  I can drive my truck and trailer north with some belongings. It’s not anything like getting in a boat and SHOVEING OFF for a foreign land with all UNKNOWNS and  no assurity that you will make it.  Or is it?      HOPE is a strong thing.  So is FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.

June 7, 2012

Filling in the Gaps.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Caren Ware @ 11:19 pm

Lingering on a hot runway in the Galapagos only meant I would miss my flight from Ecuador to the USA.  After nearly 24 hours in delays, as the wheels touched down in Atlanta, my phone started beep ,blipping a queue of piled up messages while I had disappeared to tackle one of my “remote continent marathons”. Prominent on the scrolling incoming list was Kaiser. Trying to catch my next flight, I listened to one.  Voice recording,” Misses Ware, Health Care Num..Ber…TWO..NINE..THREE..SIX…, Your TEST RESULTS show……Anemia, very LOW  Iron Levels….Please refrain from strenuous work or physical activity and consult your Primary Care Doctor Immediately. “

Well. This information was coming a little after the fact.  The Galapagos Islands Marathon Finisher Medal  was beating to the pace of my steps as it clanked on the outside of my pack, a fast beating symbol that I was about to be back to ‘THE PACE’ if I could catch this next flight.

That ‘pace’ has left the excuse for no blogging.  It meant the highest volume of races in May, June, and July done by any one timing company.  It also meant great NEW changes in timing equipment for PRIME TIME and the best possible timing systems.  And best of all, it meant the merger of RACEWIRE, a very successful  Boston based East Coast Company and their owners, Ryan Henry and Michael Allen taking over our West Coast PRIME TIME.  With their impressive college degrees, business backgrounds, and impeccable ease with which they program and software develop, they are the PERFECT helm for any timing company.  I was paying so much to keep up with what they naturally are geared to do.  They are the best symphony you will ever watch when they PERFORM and PRODUCE timing of a large scale race.  They are the perfect FIND for timing solutions in the West Coast Region.

This is helping me end a LONG RACE.  22 years of dedicated timing for SO CALIFORNIA based races. I have always claimed that I would like to adventure to the Pacific Northwest once I felt my kids were firmly heading into adulthood and established into their colleges.  My specific hope was Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  So in June, I packed a truck and trailer with what I thought could furnish a 460 square foot studio apartment. (That is no typo…460 feet) and staged an extended frontier base for future timing of events, training, hiking, and biking in this region.  Though I spent a lot time ‘commuting’ to the Los Angeles basin based races all summer, I got a thrilled treat to sample this amazing, stunning backyard that includes the Tetons, Bridger Forest, Wind River Range, the Gro Ventes, Yellowstone, and the Jedediah Wilderness.  I have so much to share with you.

But for now, I looked up ‘low in iron’.  Remember my complaints that I was tired no matter how many hours of sleep I got, or how much food I ate, or how much exercise I did or didn’t get.  I had no clue that a lack of some nutrient could cause that.  I love my food and had consumed my share of calories, but our ‘on the road ‘American diet doesn’t give us lots of sources of iron.  While in the Galapagos, remember I started honking down two dinners a night, being fresh fish or meat, and tons of vegetables.  That natural diet re-tanked my body with the iron it needed before I even returned to the USA…naturally.  Happy to report my iron levels are up.  And so is my never ending appetite.

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