Saturday, October 29, 2011

Scare Brain Cancer Away 5K

 I don't know why I signed up for this race. I still haven't gotten over this stupid cold completely and being able to breathe is sort of a requirement for running. I've been itching to run fast but my body isn't having it and I'm getting frustrated and annoyed. So I wasn't expecting much from this race. I figured I'd go and see what happens, then use that as a starting point for some 5K training this fall/winter. It went ok, but my chest was hurting. I don't know if it was because I'm still a little congested or from breathing in the cold air. But the more races I run, the more I get used to dealing with temporary discomfort.

This race was the same course as the Karnocker 5K I ran in July and I was slightly faster today (21:43, 38th out of 278) than I was then (21:54) so all in all, not bad for my first race as a 30 year old. I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to run a 5K under 20 minutes but I would love to get there someday. I'll just keep running and hope for the best.

Lyric of the moment: "If there was a better way to go then it would find me. I can't help it the road just rolls out behind me..."

Friday, October 28, 2011

Love vs fear

My favorite ice cream is soft serve chocolate and vanilla swirl. Or Neopolitan. Because I don't want plain chocolate or vanilla. I want both. I've never been very decisive. When it comes to choosing, I sometimes get things wrong. I want to be a person who makes decisions out of love, not out of fear. I don't want to simply follow the path of least resistance. But when I'm tired, the path of least resistance, so well lit and clearly marked, looks pretty tempting. And sometimes love looks suspiciously like fear of dying alone. Love is probably second only to Elvis in its number of impersonators.

I thought when I got through my twenties I would be done with all this soul-searching shit. I knew I still had a lot of questions, but I thought I was more or less headed in the right direction. But maybe I will always be a little bit unsure, a little bit lost.

Sometimes it feels like it doesn't even matter what path I choose. In a vast universe of limitless potential and infinite possibilities, I am insignificant, negligible. The thing about life is that it goes on. I know that I am temporary, forgettable, replaceable.

But I want to get better. At making choices, at getting things right. I'm just not sure how to go about doing that.

Lyric of the moment: "I am a visitor here. I am not permanent..."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Nowhere to go but up

If this is thirty, count me out. I've had a cold since last Wednesday, thought I was getting better, then it came back with a vengeance. All I've managed to do this week is produce my body weight in phlegm. It's good to have skills I guess. And for some reason my voice has been all hoarse. I sound like a chain-smoking phone sex operator. I've never had a cold do that before.

The doctor gave me some antibiotics so hopefully I'm on my way back to 100%. I just want to feel better. Or get my own 1-900 number. But preferably feel better.

I suppose the good news is that if this is where my thirties start, I've got nowhere to go but up.

I want to run hard and try everything and have fun all the time, but my body doesn't always cooperate. Maybe I have to be more patient. Maybe it's enough to do whatever I can do today and the rest will follow in time. 

Lyric of the moment: "It's something like I apologize. It's something I still can't decide. But I know it gets better, it only gets better..."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

End of my Roaring Twenties

I may have come into my twenties as a lamb, but I definitely went out as a lion. Roar and all. There is still much celebrating to be done and much awesomeness to be experienced in the years to come. Cheers to everyone who made my first 30 years so ridiculously good. I'm infinitely happy to have known you. Love and ice cream cake to all.

I don't know what the next 30 years will bring but I can't wait to find out. 

Lyric of the moment: "I think I'll take a moment to celebrate my age, the ending of an era and the turning of a page. Now it's time to focus in on where I go from here. Lord have mercy on my next thirty years..."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Running on empty

I don't know what conventional wisdom says about running when you're sick. But I woke up with a sore throat yesterday morning and all I wanted to do all day was run. As if I could somehow outrun the germs. Which is ridiculous of course because they're already inside me and they go where I go. Unless maybe they'll get tired of all the jostling and move on to a more sedentary host. Not that I'm trying to pass my germs off on anyone else. That would be rude.

As I see it, running can cure anything that is ever wrong with me. Well, running, ibuprofen and bananas. Sometimes ice. I think Science and Medicine would agree with me on the whole running as a panacea thing. Some of it anyway. Maybe they wouldn't say it in those words per se, but they'd probably back me up in a bar fight. Science and Medicine are tough like that.

Seriously though, I feel like if I keep running, I can build up some sort of life momentum so that nothing can stop me. An object in motion stays in motion and all that. I run when I don't feel well because I want to keep going no matter what. I hate feeling like all systems are not functioning at 100%, like something is limiting me or holding me back.

Though I also think the obstacles and the stumbles make me stronger in the end, so there's that.

Lyric of the moment: "When I was young and moving fast, nothing slowed me down, slowed me down. Now I let the others pass, I've come around, come around. Living just to keep going. Going just to stay sane. All the while never knowing, it's such a shame..."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ba ba ba muffins!*

Things that are awesome:

1. On Sunday I made pumpkin muffins and pumpkin bread. I didn't let not having the right ingredients (eggs, oil) stop me. Nor did I go to the store to buy said ingredients. Nope, instead of following the recipe, I threw in some random ingredients I had on hand (milk, bananas). I consider any kitchen endeavor that doesn't end in fire to be a success. So muffin mission accomplished. They didn't taste half bad either. Maybe I will embark upon a new hobby called lazy baking.

2. In what I hope will become a trend, my mortgage company sent me a check this month. It was only for $26 but I like where this is going.

3. Alfred Hitchcock movies. Mike and I started watching all the old Hitchcock classics, which I'd never seen before. So far we've watched Rope, Rear Window and Dial M for Murder. I also want to see Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest and Strangers on a Train.

4. This soup that Mike's Nama made. I've eaten it for 3 days straight. It is The. Best. Ever.

Things I want to do:

1. Go to Lockport Caves. Underground boat rides! Enough said.

2. Some of these upcoming races: East Ave Grocery Run, Fleet Feet Dirt Cheap Stage Race (I'd love to do all three races on both days if I can find someone to run with), Webster Turkey Trot, Jingle Bell Run.

3. Find out if there is really a sauce called awesome sauce. And hope that its slogan is "This is what awesome tastes like."

Lyric of the moment: "I wanna live in a wooden house, where making more friends would be easy. I wanna live where the sun comes out." (I've never understood this song. Why would living in a wooden house help you make friends? Because people like wood?)

*If Shawn Spencer was a real person, I would marry him.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I just realized you can't spell thirty without hirt. D'oh!

This is what will happen if you do a
Google image search for 'thirty'
In 10 days, I will be 30 years old. I'm excited about thirty. It's old enough to have learned a few things but young enough to be able to look forward to a lot of future awesomeness.

I can honestly say I'm not sad to leave my twenties behind. I've had a lot of fun this past decade. I got a sometimes weird, sometimes crazy, always hilarious job. I loved. I lost. I cried about it. I laughed about it. I loved again. I went skydiving. I rode in a hot air balloon. I flew a plane. I bought a house. I adopted a dog. I went white water rafting. I ran 2 marathons. I went to Paris (twice) and Hawaii and the Galapagos Islands. I met some amazing people and learned a lot from them.

I still have a lot to improve on (and I suspect I always will), but all things considered right now is a good time to be me, if I do say so myself. I'm the oldest, tallest, strongest and happiest I've ever been.

So as a birthday present, I think I'm going to give myself a break. Sure, I have made mistakes and failed at some things and my abs are still more keg than six-pack, but so what? I am healthy and happy and life is good.

I've realized that random shit happens to everyone and whether you interpret it as good luck or bad luck, you'll be right. So if you embrace life with open arms and an open heart, if you see the best in everything, much awesomeness will come your way. You can see the glass as half empty, half full or, as I prefer, half full of ice cream.

And if I can view my life that way, why not view myself that way? I am definitely full of ice cream.

Lyric of the moment: "You'll be given love. You'll be taken care of. You'll be given love. You have to trust it. Maybe not from the sources you have poured yours. Maybe not from the directions you are staring at. Twist your head around. It's all around you. All is full of love..." (One of the hardest and best lessons I ever learned. Thanks Bjork. And all the stupid boys who didn't like me back, but paved the way for the ones who did.)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

From the sublime to the ridiculous*

I'm still thinking about something Chris said the other day, which was "Don't ride the train off a cliff." I knew what he meant, still I couldn't help thinking it would be pretty awesome to ride off a cliff. Provided I had a parachute. Or some kind of James Bondian skills.

I'm also still thinking about something Mike said the other day, which was "You're a rebel, in your own way." I thought it was a joke since I don't feel particularly rebellious. Then yesterday afternoon I realized that I'd been wearing my underwear inside out all day (in my defense there is no tag on said underwear), which is sort of rebellious I guess, though probably only if it had been intentional.

The other night I had a dream that someone I know was ill and had only 2 weeks to live. I said I would look after his dog when he's gone. I woke up hoping this is in no way a premonition of anything in real life.

Later I had another dream that I was on a volcano with all these people and we had to evacuate because of an impending disaster (oddly not a volcanic eruption but a hurricane). But no one was upset or panicked about this (Everything is so matter-of-fact in my dreams. No one is ever scared of anything.) A big wave of water came and washed us all to this other location, where we were suddenly dry somehow. The storm had destroyed Justin Timberlake's house (insert Cry Me A River joke here). And since it was a dream, of course it was perfectly natural that I would be on a volcano in a hurricane with Justin Timberlake. So I told him not to worry because he can buy another house and he said he probably will. I woke up hoping this is sort of a premonition for real life (the I-know-Justin-Timberlake part, not the I'm-in-a-hurricane part).

So Brain, take from all that nonsense what you will. Perhaps my subconscious wants me to a) go skydiving again b) follow my offbeat tendencies c) get a dog or d) go on more tropical vacations.

Lyric of the moment: "The irresistible force met the immovable object. Some may call me a lucky shot. No, but it was not..."

*Definition: "From something that is very good or very serious to something that is very bad or silly." I think this is the story of my life.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

26 thoughts on 26 miles

1. Yesterday's failure can lead to tomorrow's success. I was disappointed in how I ran my first marathon, but what I learned from the experience prepared me for my second. This time around, I added more protein to my diet, did more speed work and took more rest days, carried a water bottle during the race to make sure I got enough water and tried to relax and take it easy in the first half.

2. Life is not so much about what happens to you but more about how you react to it. When it pours, you can complain about it and stay inside or you can get out there and make the best of a crappy day.

3. People are seriously awesome. It's amazing how many people are willing to stand out in the rain for hours, handing out water/snacks and cheering for strangers.

4. That which doesn't kill you makes you awesome. When I crossed the finish line, everything hurt, but it was still the best feeling ever.

5. Anything you eat after running 26.2 miles will be the best thing you've ever tasted.

6. The harder it is, the more satisfied you'll feel. No one runs a marathon because it's easy, they run it because it's hard.

7. I will never be one of those people who look good while running. I will always look half dead in all race photos. But I will be too tired to care.

8. If I run in the rain for 4 hours, my ponytail will become one giant dreadlock. Which will be helpful if I ever decide to become a Rastafarian.

9. It's possible for my stomach to be so confused that it feels hungry and nauseous at the same time.

10. Mile 24 of a marathon is the only time I will ever look at a Reese's peanut butter cup and not want to eat it.

11. A marathon is like a really intense version of Trick or Treating. You dress up in spandex, windbreaker and fanny pack and run from place to place, where people hand you drinks and food.

12. Running, like life in general, is better with company. One day I would love to run an entire race with a friend and finish together, but encouragement from random strangers along the way is nice too. Especially if they have an Australian accent. I could have listened to that pace leader guy talk all day.

13. Always cut the corners (advice from pace leader at mile 1). This is terrible advice for life, but great for running. 26.2 is long enough without adding any extra distance by running the outside of the turns.

14. Stay off the yellow line. I like the feeling of running in the middle of the road, but those yellow lines are slippery when wet.

15. Humor makes everything bearable. There is a lot about running a marathon that is comical and/or crazy. Everywhere I looked I saw people with funny shirts, funny hats or funny signs, people wearing garbage bags to keep the rain off, people peeing at the side of the road. Laughter really can keep you going.

16. Crazy loves company. It's pretty awesome that over 2300 people were willing to run 13.1 or 26.2 miles in the pouring rain.

17. Even the elites have bad days. There were a few people at the race who were trying to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, but unfortunately none of them made it due to the poor weather conditions. Regardless of speed, everyone has good days and bad days. You have to learn to take them both in stride.

18. At every race, the people I'm most impressed with are the oldest. I hope I'm still running when I'm in my sixties and seventies.

19. My body is surprisingly strong. I doubted my ability to run this race up until the second I reached the finish, but my body did everything I asked of it with very little complaint.

20. Running is a constant lesson in humility. One day you will run 26 miles, and the next it will seem a herculean effort just to walk up the stairs.

21. The farther and faster I run, the more I wonder what else I am capable of. This will either lead to danger or epicness, hopefully a little of both.

22. The last 6 miles of a marathon feel just as long, if not longer, than the first 20.

23. In those last 6 miles, you will wonder what the hell is wrong with you that you could have ever thought this was a good idea. You will swear that you never want to do it again. But when you cross the finish line, you know it's only a matter of time before you come back for more.

24. Accept the things you cannot change. It's only rain. It's only cold. It's only temporary. Enjoy the journey.

25. When in doubt, breathe, relax and let go. Everything will work itself out eventually.

26. There's something about running a marathon that makes everything in my life better.

.2 If a restaurant claims that its spaghetti sauce is "to die for," it is a lie. Unless they mean that people have actually died after eating it. That could be true.

Lyric of the moment: "You can do a lot in a lifetime if you don't burn out too fast. You can make the most of the distance. First you need endurance, first you've got to last..."

Sunday, October 2, 2011

30th Wineglass Marathon vs. almost 30 year old Jen

This weekend we went to Corning, NY, where I ran the Wineglass marathon and Mike ran his first half marathon. Pretty much everything that could have gone wrong prior to the race did. This past week was stressful to say the least. When we got to the hotel, they didn't have our reservation because apparently when I made the reservation back in June, the hotel representative made the reservation for Cortland instead of Corning, then when I called to correct it, they made me a reservation in Corning, then for some reason cancelled it on the same day (fortunately the hotel had one available room left,and an awesome lady working the front desk, so we didn't have to sleep in the car). The room smelled like smoke, the bed was rock hard, and there may have been something living in the microwave (whatever it was made a lot of noise). At race time, it was 38 degrees and raining. We got lost several times trying to find the start. Then we had to stand around in the pouring rain while the start was delayed 15 minutes.

Despite all that (or maybe because of it?), it was a great race. Mike was awesome. The farthest he'd ever run before today was 11 miles, but he crushed the 13.1 in 2 hours 33 minutes!

I started off with the 3 hour 55 minute pace group. The pace leader was an Australian guy who has run over 100 marathons and had a lot of helpful advice. Plus, listening to his accent and terrible jokes was a nice distraction over the first half of the race. I felt good and started to pull away from the group in the second half. I kept reminding myself to relax and save something for the end. All in all, I felt great up until the 20 mile mark. By that point, I was wet and tired and my leg muscles were starting to twitch uncomfortably. I was really afraid they would cramp up like they did in Cleveland, but thankfully that didn't happen. I really, really, really (infinity of reallys, really) wanted to stop. But I just tried to stay positive and keep talking myself through it.

Keep going. You're doing it. One step at a time. Thank you body. Please hold on for 6 more miles, 4 more miles, 2 more miles, 1 more mile, until I get to those weird space blankets. I love you legs, I love you lungs, I love you heart, I love you muscles and bones and cells. You can do this. You are strong. Just keep going. Constant forward motion.

Those last 6 miles were seriously long, but I ran the entire way and finished in 3 hours 50 minutes (chip time 3:49:56, 479th place out of 1447 finishers). I honestly had no expectations for this race. I didn't think it was going to go well at all. So I'm thrilled that my second marathon was way better than my first and that I finished in under 4 hours. I finally feel like I can buy myself one of those 26.2 stickers for my car.

I think I'm going to take some time off from marathons for a while and concentrate on speed work to get my 5K time under 20 minutes. I will probably end up running another marathon in the future, but after doing 2 of them in cold, rainy weather, I'm definitely making sure the next one is someplace warm.

Lyric of the moment: "Your time has come to shine. All your dreams are on their way. See how they shine. If you need a friend, I'm sailing right behind. Like a bridge over troubled water, I will ease your mind..." (Thank you iPod shuffle for serving up the Johnny Cash/Fiona Apple cover of this song at around the 23 mile mark, as I was running across a bridge over a mini waterfall.)