Friday, December 27, 2013

Said the captain, Make it so!

I can't remember how I realized this, but adding up my birth date (10+23+1981) equals 2014. So I can only assume that 2014 is going to be a pretty sweet year. That's probably not the way it works, but whatever. I'm the captain of this ship and I can make it so.

As part of my agenda for awesomeness in 2014, I have decided to do 20 new things and run 14 races. The more ridiculous, the better. Obviously. But there are no rules, other than to enjoy myself. Because the secret to awesomeness is not in being better, faster, stronger, happier (though those are often bonus side effects) but in finding the joy in every opportunity, in living with enthusiasm and love and hilarity.

In the past I haven't really enjoyed racing, which is a shame because I love running and racing is just running with a lot of other people. And snacks. The problem was with my attitude towards racing. So that's something I'm going to work on changing in 2014. The past races that I did enjoy were those where I was able to run the majority of the miles with a friend. So hopefully I can do more of that in 2014 as well.

The 20 new things is just an excuse I'm giving myself to spend money on cool shit I've always wanted to try. Within reason, of course. So rocket to the moon is probably out. Unless one of you owns a rocket and are willing to let me borrow it. I will bring you the most excellent, fantastically delicious cookies ever. After 32 years of extensive research cookie-eating, the winner is the blueberry oatmeal cookie from Get Caked! It's probably because I just really like to say "Get Caked? Don't mind if I do." And then pretend I am eating the cookies for the antioxidants.

Lyric of the moment: "There'd be no distance that could hold us back. So this is the new year..."

Friday, December 20, 2013

The weekly strange and seriously awesome

Wednesday night I went to the hot chocolate run at MedVed and some Brooks representatives were there with gear for people to test. I understand that it's a marketing ploy. And a fancy one at that. It's like being a celebrity. You show up and people give you expensive things to wear. But I felt bad about borrowing a jacket, sweating all up in it, then giving it back. Especially one that I have no intention of ever purchasing. Don't get me wrong, it was a great jacket. High quality, versatile, lightweight, reflective - basically everything you'd want in a running jacket. But there is no way I'd ever spend $85 on an article of clothing that's only going to collect dirt and perspiration. I'd rather buy a $20 running jacket and have $65 to spend on races or other adventures. It's just a personal preference. I try to save money on things so I can spend money on experiences. (But if you want to offer me a fancy jacket to wear and enter me in a raffle for taking you up on it, I will happily oblige.) Some people are into their gear and their beer and that's cool. Me, I just want to run and drink hot chocolate.

And climb on things. Sadly, all my attempts to get Mozzie to play king of the mountain with me have failed. He much prefers his own game, where we come home and he's like look what I did today guys! I chewed up my leash and pulled all the dog poop bags out of the dispenser! You thought you were smart, hiding all the people things so I can't chew them. But I found some anyway! Isn't this the best game ever? I just have to laugh. It's like an episode of Pinky and The Brain. But Mozzie is The Brain.

As I was walking out of the pet store after having purchased a new leash, a woman across the street was waving her arms and yelling "M'am! M'am!" at me. Confused, I looked around like what's wrong, what's happening? Then she said "I really like your hat!"

When I arrived at work this morning, I found this on my desk:

Sometimes I think my life is the epitome of strange and hilarious and seriously awesome.

Lyric of the moment: "Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there with open arms and open eyes, yeah..."

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


I always think it will be fun to review race pictures. Because the race was fun and I felt pretty good and I may have gotten a bit delirious at times so it's a nice reminder of the parts that are still a bit hazy (During my last loop at WTF, I had a moment of panic where I thought I better not be dreaming right now. If I'm just dreaming this and I have to wake up and run it all again, I'm going to be so pissed). And then I see them and I am horrified. I mean, I wasn't expecting to look like a page out of Runner's World, just passably human. Everyone else looks like the badass harbingers of awesomeness that they are. And then there's me, looking like a cross between a zombie and the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man.

Someone had posted this picture and when I saw it, my first thought was "Oh my god Becky, look at her butt, it is sooo big!" And then I was like seriously, brain? Are you really Sir-Mix-A-Lotting me right now? I ran 15 miles and I just want to enjoy that for a bit. Plus I used up all my mental energy paying attention so I wouldn't fall. I'm too tired to pontificate on the proportions of my posterior.

I find it annoying that my first thoughts about pictures are still self-critical ones. I want to feel as excited and happy about the pictures as I do about my actual life. I rarely have negative thoughts during runs anymore. Or if I do, I shut that shit down fast and get back to enjoying the moment. But afterwards...I'm still working on that. Hindsight can be such a mean girl. (Hindsight, hah! Because we're talking about asses. It's classy up in here.)

I'm not sure why I even have those thoughts, since the truth is that I don't really care how I look. I don't know how other people would describe me but I'd rather be thought of as kind, adventurous, happy or funny than pretty. And I'm not competing with anyone else in looks or in life. Though I'll admit I was slightly jealous of all the awesome beardsicles some people were sporting at the race.

Reminders to self: Awesomeness comes in all shapes and sizes. And when you're out there having adventures and doing cool shit, it's impossible to look anything other than awesome.

Lyric of the moment: "Oh, it's a fragile thing this life we lead. If I think too much I can get overwhelmed by the grace. By which we live our lives with death over our shoulders. Want you to know that should I go, I always loved you..." (The Pearl Jam, man. It gets me every time.)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On the 1st day of Christmas the universe gave to me a trail race through snow and trees

Photo stolen borrowed from Brian's FB post
Saturday I ran 15 perfectly snowy, wintry miles at the 0 degree WTF race. Normally, races aren't my favorite - I get too anxious - but I can honestly say it was the most fun you can have for 3 hours in the snow and single-digit temps. Three 5-mile loops. Three times up a hill so awesomely steep there was a rope to help pull yourself up. I had the privilege of  running with two fabulous ladies, Liz and Danielle, and one fabulous Steve, who graciously offered us chocolate at the top of the first Hell On Roots hill (gotta love a man with candy in his pockets, am I right?)

For all my catastrophizing, the race wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared. I didn't get lost, I didn't fall, I didn't feel like I was dying. I had some calf cramping in the last mile, but it was the farthest I've ever run on trails, so good times. And at the finish line, every runner got a high five from the race director.

There's always that moment...okay, moments where I question why the hell I thought this running thing was a good idea, but then I get out there and I'm like oh yeah, this is why. The people, the views, the feeling of going farther than you have before. There are some places you can only get to on two feet.

Lyric of the moment: "You might run on for a long time. Run on, ducking and dodging. Run on, children, for a long time..."

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Slashing through the snow

Last night I was sitting in my car, stopped at the fifth consecutive traffic light, becoming very, very irritable. Exclamations and expletives may have ensued. It had been an unusually frustrating day and I was hoping a group run at Seneca Park would alleviate the funk. But I had left work a little late, then stopped home to let Mozzie out, and with the rush-hour traffic I knew I wouldn't make it on time. I was annoyed. At myself. For being annoyed. Instead of being all free of expectations and Zen and shit. So I turned around, drove home and went for a run around my 'hood. By this time the weather had taken a turn towards Snow Globe. So I was dashing (Well, slowly dashing. Slashing?*) through the snow, my eyelashes heavy with snowflakes, taking in all the holiday lights on Park Ave. And suddenly it began to feel a lot like Christmas. Not consumer Christmas or religious Christmas, but Christmas as I imagine it was intended to be: a bright spot of hope in a long, dark winter, an infusion of cheer and merriment to lift the spirits.

The seemingly endless darkness and cold of winter wears on me. If I could find a bear family to adopt me, I'd be hibernating right now. Though I have to admit, winter can be quite lovely. Not when the wind is biting your face or when you try to stop your car and it just keeps on sliding. But the festive gatherings, warm beverages and the sparkle of snow in the moonlight - those are the parts of winter I can embrace wholeheartedly.

It's so tempting to stay inside in the coziness and warmth. But if you brave the temporary discomfort and venture out, you can see some pretty awesome sights. I have to keep reminding myself, just go for it, you can always get warm again. Although, if I had a fireplace all bets would be off. I'd curl up beside it and not come out until Spring.

Lyric of the moment: "Do you realize, that you have the most beautiful face? Do you realize, we're floating in space? Do you realize, that happiness makes you cry? Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die? And instead of saying all of your goodbyes, let them know you realize that life goes fast, it's hard to make the good things last. You realize the sun doesn't go down, it's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round..."

*Having a bad day? Just go slashing through the snow. And now I'm picturing a ninja running through the snow, ninja-ing everything. Oh my god the awesomeness!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Robot socks: a true story

Socks are not my favorite. I'd prefer not to wear them. But I also prefer to avoid cold feet, so I tolerate them when necessary. Sometimes I have difficulty finding socks that are acceptably awesome. Other times, this happens:

Saturday morning, I woke up early, went through the typical waffling about whether or not I'd attend the group trail run, (So many miles and hills and speedy people. So much potential to get lost or broken or end up in super unflattering photos), ran 13-and-change miles on the 0SPF course with some lovely people who are much faster than I am, took the hottest, longest, most excellent shower afterwards, came out of the bathroom to discover that Mozzie had found Mike's belt on the ground and thought it to be a delicious cow-flavored chew toy, went to Target to buy Mike a new belt, and there they were, in the man-cessories section of Target: the most awesome socks I have ever seen. Blue! With Robots on them!

(insert explosions of awesomeness here!)

So now I'm rocking some robot socks. Life works in mysterious ways.

Lyric of the moment: "I just wanna see you, I wanna see you be brave..." (Last week I was excited, this week I'm back to freaking out. Why exactly did I think a winter trail race would be a good idea? If you don't hear from me on Saturday, I am lost in the woods of Powdermill Park. Please send hot chocolate.)

Monday, December 2, 2013

Infinity of thanks Mike and our families for making it possible for me to host Thanksgiving dinner at my house without having to cook anything. Mike made the turkey, tofurky and some sides, our families brought the rest and I did the dishes. Any gathering where people bring pie to your house is my kind of party! And it's probably best for all involved that I did not have to make anything. I shudder to think of what a Thanksgiving dinner prepared by me would look like. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches for all! Actually, that is sounding quite delicious. I'd even throw some Nutella in there, because it's a special occasion and all. my parts for taking me on my first trail run in the snow on Thanksgiving morning, to the gym on Friday (where I actually did strength training. For the second time in one week. Someday I might actually have muscles. And pigs will fly!), on a 10 mile road run with RFP on Saturday and a 12 mile trail run on Sunday with TrailsRoc. I'm a little tired today but otherwise none the worse for wear. I almost skipped the Sunday run because it was a preview for 0 Degree WTF and I was afraid if I saw the course before the race I'd totally psych myself out. But it ended up being my favorite run of the weekend. I think I had built it up so much in my head to be this big, intimidating race looming in a future near me. And the course is definitely challenging (for me at least), but what I wasn't expecting was how fun it would be. I was able to do 2 loops of the course plus a little extra on legs tired from my longish run the day before and I felt ok afterwards. I'm going to be so slow and more than a little exhausted, but I might be able to run all 3 loops on race day. Hopefully. I'm actually starting to get a little excited, which is super weird because normally races make me incredibly anxious. But I'm not doing it for speed or for glory, of which I possess very little. I'm doing it because it will be the farthest I've ever run on trails and because I'm afraid I can't do it. Sometimes the intimidating things are the most worth doing. TrailsRoc for organizing and leading the best group runs and races. It takes a lot of work to pull off inexpensive, sustainable, crazy fun events and host multiple group runs a week. Often times the leaders sacrifice their own training efforts to stay back and make sure no one gets lost (not that I'd expect anyone to wait for me. If I couldn't hang with the group, I'd find my own way. Getting lost is part of the fun). Their enthusiasm, talent and patience is inspiring. I might be silently cursing all of you on race day, but it will be in a totally loving and props-giving way.

Here's to hoping that this is true (and not just something I made up): Bite off more than you can chew and awesomeness will ensue.

Lyric of the moment: "Everything that kills me makes me feel alive..."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Last night I had the strangest dream...

Two Saturdays ago I was running trail hills when I twisted my ankle and fell on my face. (All part of my campaign to be crowned the least graceful trail runner of all time). Seriously though, it was a particularly inopportune face-plant since I had just registered for the 15 mile WTF trail race in December. To show The Doubts that no one is the boss of me. My ankle was swollen, my knee was black and blue and I was pissed (and also becoming increasingly worried that there was no way I could run 15 miles on what I had heard was a beast of a course). But I did the only things I could do. I went home, iced the crap out of my ankle and knee, ate some consolation cookies and got fired up to run some more miles. Then last Saturday, I ran 12 miles at the group run in Black Creek Park with (thankfully) no falls and barely a stumble.

And that's life I suppose. Sometimes you ace it, sometimes you fall on your face. You just have to pick yourself up, appreciate the fact that in addition to pasty-white and sunburn-red, your skin is now available in bruise-blue, and keep on being awesome.

Early this morning, I ran the gravel hill at Cobb's Hill five times. Which I think is the most times I've ever run it. Or at least the most times I've run it without feeling tired. Maybe because I kept crossing paths with a trio of runners doing the road hills and we exchanged "Good mornings" and "Gotta love hill workouts" (The first time I typed that it came out as kill workouts. Ha! Freudian slip) and "Enjoy the rest of your day" greetings. Or because in the pre-dawn dark it almost felt like I was still dreaming. And I had a really weird dream last night where I was running a race but for some reason it was inside. I was running down hallways, then in one part I had to run around a bunch of cafeteria tables 4 times and I was like what? who designed this course? Finally, I got to run outside, but suddenly I felt so uncomfortable and I realized that I was wearing jeans. Then I saw my parents and told them I needed to change into my shorts. They gave me the shorts and I kept running. But then I woke up before the finish. I was a little bummed out. I mean, if my brain is going to dream up some weird shit for me to run around, it should at least let me get to the finish line.

Lyric of the moment: "Last night I had the strangest dream. I sailed away to China, in a little row boat to find ya, and you said you had to get your laundry cleaned. Didn't want no one to hold you. What does that mean? And you said...ain't nothin' gonna break my break my stride, nobody gonna slow me down, oh no, I've got to keep on moving...."

Friday, November 8, 2013

Going the awesome way

For the past 2 weeks I've felt so slow. It may be because I've had this stupid cold for what feels like forever. I'm starting to get very cranky pants about the whole thing. Germs, I've been a most gracious host, supplying you with all the Tootsie Rolls anyone could ask for, but you have far outstayed your welcome.

Last Saturday I wasn't feeling that great but I woke up and decided to run for 100 minutes. Because I wanted to and I could. And when those two things overlap, it's good times indeed. I knew that there was some way to run through Seneca Park to Charlotte Beach and I wanted to try it out. So I ran a loop from Seneca Park to Charlotte and back. Following the Genesee River Trail from Turning Point Park up to Lake Ave, there is a seemingly interminable uphill that ends up by the cemetery. As I was running up it, a woman headed down told me "You're going the hard way." I laughed and thought, No, I'm going the awesome way.

When I got to the top, I felt pretty awesome, in that look what I can do kind of way. But I imagine I did not look very awesome at all. I probably looked like I belonged in that cemetery. I started thinking about how all the beauty and fitness magazines always depict these perfectly posed, unblemished people. They're not sweaty or muddy. They don't have any bruises or laugh lines or scars. But those are all the marks of a life well lived, a life of taking risks and exploring and getting up to so many adventures. There's beauty in that too.

Lyric of the moment: "But wherever I have gone, I was sure to find myself there. You can run all your life but not go anywhere..."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Take these broken things and make them awesome

If you came home from work one day to find that your puppy had invented a new game where he
Doggy Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
pulls all the coats off their hooks and chews the buttons off your winter coat, you might think it was a bad thing. But if you were like me, and you had a super awesome mom with a box of cool, old miscellaneous buttons, your coat would now have new buttons, including a top button shaped like an elephant! And you would see that sometimes when things get broken they end up even better than before. Then you would take said coat to the dry cleaners, because normally you don't buy things that are dry-clean-only or you cheat and throw them in the washer on the hand-wash cycle, but you aren't taking any chances with your fancy new elephant button coat so you're doing it up adult-style at the dry cleaners. But then it smells all weird and chemically there so you decide this will be your one and only foray into the world of dry cleaning. Still, you will have learned that you always have a choice. You can mourn the loss of the broken things or you can make them into something far more awesome.

Lyric of the moment: "Why does time move so fast? Precious things never last. Figure out, don't forget. Only love, no regrets..." (Because it makes me think of the scene in We're the Millers where Jason Sudeikis' character says to the kid with the NO RAGRETS tattoo across his chest "You have no regrets? Like, not even a single letter?" I laugh so hard whenever I think of it.)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Prime of my life

I happen to be lucky enough to know a lot of incredibly talented, amazing, inspiring runners/athletes/superhumans. And I love it. The only downside is that sometimes I feel like a slacker for not running 50Ks or cranking out 6 minute miles or giving birth to triplets in the middle of a race and still getting a PR (Which I really hope is not a thing. I'm utterly terrified even thinking about it. Though it would make for photos).

It's hard for me to resist the peer pressure of other people's awesomeness. All the things they do and the races they run sound so exciting and fun. And I already want to go everywhere and do everything as it is. But I still have a lot of life left (hopefully). So I can afford to relax, take it one day at a time and be happy with whatever happens. I only get this one body (as far as I know). I have to take really good care of it so I can live long enough to go on all the adventures.

I'm falling into the impending-birthday funk again. Not because I'm getting older. I want to be one of those hilariously sassy and self-possessed old ladies when I grow up. But because birthdays always make me feel like I am the worst ever and have wasted another year doing absolutely nothing. I'll be the first to admit it's crazy and irrational. I had a lot of adventures in my 31st year.* I ran, I laughed, I loved, I met new people, I bought my house a new porch for its 113th birthday, I went to Egypt (by myself!) and Cape Cod, I adopted the biggest-headed, most adorably clumsy puppy, I water skied (for 10 seconds. In a bikini. And no one looked away in horror or turned to stone) and I set a personal record for most pumpkin bars eaten at one sitting (It's now up to 4. If there was a dessert version of Man Vs. Food, I would totally rock it. But then I'd have to run 50 miles to burn off all the sugar so I didn't become insufferably hyper). A lot of happy and funny and good things happened while I was being 31. And if my friend Pete is right about even numbered birthdays being better, then I have a lot to look forward to in year 32. So I need to get out of this funk and get on my way to becoming that hilariously sassy old lady.

Lyric of the moment: "But hold me fast, 'cause I'm a hopeless wanderer..."

*If you were being punny, you could say that at 31 I'm in the prime of my life.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It was an experience

I've found that it helps not to think of things as either good or bad but to consider everything to be an experience. And that the more I can embrace those experiences, the more adventurous and full my life will be.

Recent experiences:

*Painting and staining the front porch. It took 2 coats of paint, 2 coats of stain and 4 days of work, but I'm happy with the way it came out. I'm also happy that I've almost run out of things to paint in my house. If I never have to hold another paintbrush, it'll be too soon. But I'm happiest that Mike was there to help me. I'd gotten used to doing everything myself, but it feels good to be part of a team. And to have someone to laugh with as the radio kept playing that terrible song about banging like gorillas.

*My boss likes us to get flu shots so I've had one every year for the past 9 years, but for some reason this year I had a bad reaction to it. I was all tired and achy and got all these red, itchy bumps all over my arms, legs, back and stomach. I think I would have rather taken my chances with the flu. But it was, as they say, an experience. Though one I hope to avoid repeating.

*Yesterday I made a yoga sandwich with running bread. I ran 6 miles on the road in the morning, did my Yoga For Runners DVD, then ran the TrailsRoc Ready, Set, Glow race at night (5ish miles of trails! In the dark! With glow sticks!) My only goals were not to hurt myself and not to get lost, and I failed on both accounts. But it was fun, despite the fact that I kept twisting my ankles. My left ankle was pretty swollen when I got home, but I iced, Ibuprofen-ed and Pain Terminator-ed it, and today it is a little tender still but otherwise ok. I'm far too heavy and uncoordinated to be a trail runner, but I'm trying not to let that stop me. And it did get me to use the weight room at the gym today for the first time in...forever (I'm usually too intimidated to venture in there because I have no muscles). So that's a silver lining.

Lyric of the moment: "Like a sprained ankle, boy I ain't nothing to play with..."

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A good runner has no fixed pace and is not intent on finishing

One of my favorite quotes from the Tao Te Ching is “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” I'm hoping to translate that to running, as in a good runner has no fixed pace and is not intent on finishing. I want to run for the pure enjoyment of it and not be defined by speed or distance. But I have a hard time relinquishing my love of results. I like working hard. I also like seeing that hard work pay off. I want to be better today than I was yesterday. At everything. Even if it is only infinitesimally better, I want to be continually improving. Which is unrealistic. And exhausting.

I don't want to lose that drive to find my limits and push past them. But I have a tendency to make myself crazy over my perceived, and often times invented, inadequacies. So I need to let go of all that junk.

I have a hard time with detachment because it can veer towards apathy. And I don't want to be apathetic. I want to be enthusiastic and excited and loving the crap out of everything. But to do so without expectation or attachment to any particular outcome.

Sometimes it seems a little impossible. I'm confusing myself even thinking about it. Though I think all my ankle problems last year may have helped in a way (Oh god I can't even believe I just said that. Dear Universe: this is in no way an invitation for any more injuries. I would however be delighted to accept more miles and more peanut M&Ms. Or pretzel M&Ms. I'm not picky.) This year I've been happy just to run without pain. Or with pain, but the kind that's only slightly uncomfortable, not the kind that's like you-need-to-stop-now-things-are-seriously-FUBAR-up-in-here.

I also think trail running is helping because I don't care that I'm slow, I just focus on staying upright. And trying to keep up with the group so I don't get lost in the woods.

I don't know if the answer is long slow distance or only doing races "for fun." Or maybe there is no answer, it's just something I will figure out along the run.

Lyric of the moment: "After all it was a great big world, with lots of places to run to..." Word.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Dudeness

The books I've read lately have been seriously bumming me out. Some were novels and some were memoirs but there was a lot of lying and cheating and divorce and faking deaths and framing spouses for murder. I tried to like the people, but they kept doing all these terrible things to each other and it was very disheartening.

Then the library let me borrow The Dude and The Zen Master by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman, which is more my speed. And is also making me want to watch The Big Lebowski again. I liked the part where they talked about The Dude as Lamed-Vavnik, a concept from Jewish mysticism. According to Bernie Glassman: "Lamed-Vavnik means 36. It means there's 36 of these people, people who are maybe like Lebowski, like "the Dude." There are 36 of these folks at any one time, and they don't know that they are anything special. They are just doing their thing, and they are just doing plain righteous acts. Because of the acts of these 36 folks, according to Jewish mysticism, God does not destroy the earth. And they don't know who they are. They're kind of like "the Dude," they just go around doing their thing."

I don't know what is so significant about the number 36. What happens when one of the 36 dies? Is a new Lamed-Vavnik born at that same moment? What if there were only 36? Would God destroy the earth? What if there were 37? Would it rain donuts?

It's a neat idea though, this concept of people who live simply, humbly and with kindness, unaware of the total awesomeness in that. But why stop at 36? I'd like to think there is a Lamed-Vavnik inside everyone, that every person has the potential for righteous awesomeness. Maybe sometimes it gets obscured by whatever suffering is weighing them down at the moment - insecurities, fears, troubles - all the stuff that makes them act less than awesomely at times. But I'd like to think it's always in there somewhere, that capacity for kindness and Dudeness.

Bowl on, my friends.

Lyric of the moment: "And I got a peaceful easy feeling. And I know you won't let me down. 'Cause I'm already standing on the ground..."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

MVP Rochester Half Marathon

Well somehow I pulled a 1:48 half marathon out of my ass even though I was cramping hardcore for
the last 4 miles. I have to figure out why that keeps happening and how to fix it. I'm not sure if it's a nutrition thing (that has always been my Achilles heel) or if my muscles are too tight from not stretching enough. The good news, if you can call it that, is that I've gotten pretty good at running through pain. I wasn't annoyed or upset or disappointed. I didn't feel any negative emotions at all. I was just like oh hey, this is happening, let's keep going.

For the first 9-10 miles I was cranking out 8:00 minute miles and it felt pretty good. I thought I was doing a halfway decent job of drinking out of paper cups at the water stops, in that more water was going in my mouth than on my shirt, but it might not have been enough. I've had a headache since I stopped running so maybe I was a little dehydrated? I think maybe I'm better when I carry my own water. Salt tabs and yoga/stretching would probably also be a good idea.

I'd really love to get faster and stronger but I'm at least getting more running Zen, which isn't bad I suppose.

I was a little disappointed that nothing particularly weird or funny happened. Those are always my favorite parts of races. Though I did inadvertently swear at an aid station volunteer. Sorry, dude. He was holding out a cup and I asked "water?," he replied "Gatorade" and I was like "shit" (he was the last guy in line and I had already passed all the water). Oops. Towards the end of the race, a spectator yelled "Looking good!" as I ran by, most certainly not looking good. Which made me laugh a little.

But my stomach was so cramped up it hurt to laugh. It's weird though. Even when things don't go right, even when it hurts, I freaking love this running shit.

Lyric of the moment: "Feeling my way through the darkness, guided by a beating heart. I can't tell where the journey will end but I know where to start..."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Breathe in for luck

I did a stupid thing. I signed up for the Rochester half marathon tomorrow. And now I'm kind of freaking out about it. I'm pretty sure it's not going to be pretty. I exercise every day but I've only been running 3 days a week and I wouldn't call it "training" by any means. So this race should be interesting.

Half of me thought it would be fun but the other half was afraid I wouldn't do well and I'd be disappointed. But I don't want to make decisions based on fear. So it's time to get back in this racing thing. I don't have much confidence in my running ability right now but whatever happens tomorrow - be it good, bad or ugly - I'm going to enjoy it. Because any day I'm running and healthy is a good day. And I'd rather be running slowly than sitting on the couch. Of course in an ideal world I'd be running fast then sitting on the couch. Eating pumpkin bars.

But let's be honest, whatever happens tomorrow, there are going to be pumpkin bars.

Lyric of the moment: "And the only way to last. And the only way to live it. Is to hold on when you get love. And let go when you give it..."

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Tao of Mozzie

Mozzie "does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” So what if it takes you 5 minutes to lazily lift yourself onto the couch? Are you on the couch or what? Mission accomplished. Plus if you take long enough and look cute enough, you can get the humans to do the heavy lifting for you.  

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” A 56 pound lap dog. Laps aren't just for frou-frou teacup Yorkies. Get up in there! 

“If you try to change it, you will ruin it. Try to hold it, and you will lose it.” Eat it and it will be delicious.

“Stop leaving and you will arrive. Stop searching and you will see. Stop running away" and run into. Jen. All the time. Why be a runner when you could be a linebacker? Why run if you're not going to end up on the ground?

"Bearing and nurturing, creating but not owning, giving without demanding, controlling without authority, this is love.” Snuggling up to the humans and taking all their couch space, licking their ears until they giggle and say "No Mozzie, no wet willies," trying to eat Jen's new custom orthotics (and I would have gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling humans!), this is love. 

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.” He just wants to hang his head out the window and enjoy the breeze.   

“To hold, you must first open your hand. Let go” That was a joke. I don't have hands.

"If you want to govern the people, you must place yourself below them. if you want to lead the people, you must learn how to follow them.” Because they are the ones who can open the treat cabinet.  

“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” You can be your giant-headed, drool-y, messy self and your people will think you are the most adorable, best dog in the world.

“There is a time to live and a time to die but never to reject the moment” snack.

“If you want to know me, look inside your heart.” I will slobber all over everything and love you forever.

Lyric of the moment: "Greatest case of puppy lovin' you ever saw. It's called a dog's life. What a life. That's good enough for me..."


Monday, September 2, 2013

The Cape

Mike and I spent Labor Day weekend in Cape Cod, visiting TJ in Boston on the way there and back, walking around Provincetown and Hyannis, whale (and people) watching, reading and eating ice cream twice a day (Labor Day is the last hurrah of summer, you need a lot of ice cream). I was a little sad that it was too cold to go to the beach, but we had a great time anyway.

Two Jennifers. Or two sharks?

While we were there, I went on a long run (10-11ish miles) and a shorter 3ish miler. During the latter run, a man walking by shouted "A new course record!" as I passed (I wish!) and some dude on a bike, riding with no hands, slow clapped and yelled "Yeah! This time of the morning!" to me as he rode past. I love the weird things people say to runners.

Please do not touch Jennifer.

 I think Provincetown was my favorite part of the Cape. It's beautiful and eccentric and full of dessert shops, what's not to love? Plus there was a lot of opportunity to take ridiculous pictures. I had to pose with this shark, who apparently is also named Jennifer. The sign next to it read "Please do not touch Jennifer. Thank you!"

I'm going to miss summer, but I'm sure I can find lots of new adventures to fall into.

Mike's ready to go to Lobster Town.

Blondie's tops all their ice cream cones with
animal crackers. Love it!

Lyric of the moment: "Kiss me hard before you go, summertime sadness. I just wanted you to know that baby, you're the best..."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The fungus among us

So we were Trails Roc-ing out after our run tonight, standing around being all sweaty awesome, when a car pulled into the parking lot and the driver asked us if we were "the mushroom meetup group." Apparently there is a group that meets in a park every month to look for mushrooms or do mushrooms or something having to do with mushrooms. Another car of mushroomers pulled into the parking lot, turned around, went the wrong way down the one-way park road, then came back a few minutes later to put up signs about mushrooms. The head mushroom lady was even wearing a shirt with mushrooms on it.

Super ewww. Mushrooms are the bane of my existence. For some reason mushrooms are in a lot of vegetarian dishes, ruining them. I think mushrooms are gross and I don't want them touching my food. And now it's happening. The mushrooms are organizing into groups! I get the creepy shudders just thinking about it.

I don't understand the appeal of foraging for mushrooms in the woods. But I suppose some people don't understand the appeal of running through the woods. To each his/her own. Dear mushroomers, please eat all the mushrooms so there will be no more fungus among us.

Lyric of the moment: "All I wanna do is live in ecstasy. I know what's best for me. I can't help it, it's this hopeless itch. I just wanna feel purple yellow red and blue..." (I imagine this is what being on mushrooms would sound like.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Felt so good, like anything was possible

Saturday morning I ran 15 miles at Charlotte with the RFP crew. It's my farthest run since all my stupid ankle problems last year. I felt so happy to be back that I almost teared up afterwards. My knees were a tiny bit sore after, but once I took Mozzie for a walk, put on my compression socks and iced my knees briefly, I felt fine. I know that 15 miles isn't 20 or 26.2 and I don't want to jinx anything, but I'm starting to feel like, if I'm smart about it and keep building up very slowly, I could run another marathon someday.

But I don't want to think about that now. If I can keep my long runs in the 10-16 mile range through the end of this year and keep feeling good, I will be ecstatic.

Fingers crossed.
Knock on wood.
Breathe in for luck.

I mean, I will be ecstatic regardless. I'm very lucky and life is good. But I always feel like I'm the happiest, best version of me after a few hours on my feet (followed by a shower and breakfast-y goodness and hugs and puppy cuddles.)


Things that are awesome:

*My talented friend John Muoio and his band The Lonely Ones' new CD.
*Yesterday, Mozzie was standing in the narrow space between the couch and coffee table. Mike called him and instead of going forward and around the table, Mozzie started taking little steps backwards and wagging his stub tail. Mike said "Mozzie are you Moonwalking?" and we both burst out laughing.
*Getting to wear my favorite blue dress, thanks to my cousin's wedding. Dear People I know, please get married and/or have fancy parties so I have occasions to wear my dress-up dresses. And eat cake. And see you all so happy.

Lyric of the moment: "Running down a dream, that never would come to me. Working on a mystery, going wherever it leads. Running down a dream. I felt so good like anything was possible..."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Extraneous miscellaneous

Ninety percent of the time Mozzie is all couch potato and puppy cuddles. I've tried to run with him a few times, but he much prefers poking along sniffing everything. Or sitting down in the middle of the sidewalk. Though when we're not home, he sometimes has these Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde moments I've taken to calling Puppy Rave Time, where he runs around the house chewing everything. Well not everything. Only the expensive things, of course. Like my Birkenstocks. And my Kindle. D'oh. Then I pull a Ricky Ricardo: "Mozzie you got some 'splaining to do!" So now puppy malo is confined to the kitchen with his bed and basket of toys whenever he's home alone. And I'm going to keep trying to run with him and take him on long walks to use up his Puppy Rave Time energy. Or maybe buy him some glow sticks.

As I was watching Burn Notice on Netflix recently ('cause I love me some spy shenanigans), I was thinking about how, whenever one of the main characters gets captured, they never betray their friends, no matter how much their captors try to torture or manipulate them. I know it's fiction, still I find the depths of their loyalty and trust in each other inspiring. Not that I would ever be in a situation anywhere near resembling an episode of Burn Notice, but how many people would I protect to that extent? How many would do the same for me? Something to think about as I strive to become a better robot-person. I would make a terrible spy, but I've got your back.

I'm still debating whether or not to run the Dam Good Trail race on Sunday. I ran the whole course at the preview run two weeks ago and that went ok, but I prefer to do long runs on Saturdays instead of Sundays. Plus, I'm going to a wedding Saturday night and I don't want to worry about having to get up early on Sunday. Mostly though, I don't feel like I'm in good enough shape to race right now. I think I need more time to just run and enjoy it and not psyche myself out about races. Unless there were some sort of costumes involved. I would risk potential race anxiety for any chance at being extra ridiculous.

Lyric of the moment: "Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful? Will you still love me when I've got nothing but my aching soul? I know you will, I know you will, I know that you will..." (This song has been stuck in my head lately. Which is weird because I don't mourn the loss of youth and beauty. When I was young, I had to wear braces and headgear. So yeah, no great loss that those days are long past. Perhaps I'm overly optimistic, but I'm hoping robots are like scotch, in that they only get better with time.)

Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I've got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will

Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I've got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will

Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I've got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will

Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will

Will you still love me when I'm no longer young and beautiful?
Will you still love me when I got nothing but my aching soul?
I know you will, I know you will
I know that you will

Friday, August 16, 2013

The agony of da feet

Sometimes I get annoyed at my parts and I have these tantrums where I'm all like stupid parts, you can't even run 50 miles or fly or do anything cool. And then I go run up Cobb's Hill a bunch of times and think about how, the first time I ever ran it, at a high school cross country meet, I couldn't even make it up one time without walking. And now I can run it as many times as I want. Which, admittedly tops out at about 4 before I'm like enough of this shit, I want a bagel.

Structurally, I am very poorly designed. I found out just how poorly yesterday, when I went for an evaluation at the Foot Performance Center. My feet are too flat. My proximal phalanges and metatarsals are too short. I have this weird bone on top of my foot that's all jacked up. So things aren't aligned correctly and my feet overpronate, which stresses my tendons and knees.

And sometimes, particularly when I'm starting to fatigue, I feel like I'm too fat to be a runner. I get tired of carrying myself around and think why are you so freaking heavy, legs? are you made of metal? And then I think stop being asinine and keep running.

Faced with the mounting evidence that I'm not built for running, I started to get a little disheartened. (I'm not sure what it is I am built for. Kicking myself in the knee while getting out of bed? That happens painfully more often than I'd like.) And then I thought, so what? I've been running for 17 years and if I have my way, I'm going to keep running until I die (a non-running related death, hopefully). I'm not going to let all the things that are wrong with me stop me from doing what I want to do. So take that, biomechanics.

I'd like to think that what I lack in genetic blessings and innate talent, I make up for in stubbornness and sheer force of will. But who knows. If the Foot Performance guy can make me some orthotics that are actually comfortable and that keep my parts aligned so they can get up to being awesome, I'll take 'em. Because I'm practically bursting at the seams from all the adventures I want to have and the life I want to live. And I need all my parts to be working as best they can.

Lyric of the moment: "My body tells me no. But I won't quit. 'Cause I want more, 'cause I want more..."

Monday, August 12, 2013

Circus cats

Of all the things I expected to do in my life, going to a cat circus was not one of them. But when Becky suggested that she, Kelly and I check out the Acro-cats at MuCCC on Sunday, I was definitely curious. I'm way more of a dog person than a cat person, but I do so love anything that holds the promise of being absolutely ridiculous. And as far as ridiculousness goes, it did not disappoint. We watched cats jump through hoops, balance on balls and play cowbell. When they felt like it of course. They are cats after all. There was even a tightrope-walking chicken and a bowling contest between a cat and a groundhog (the cat won). The finale was a couple of original "songs" by the Rock Cats, an all cat (plus one chicken) band. The Rolling Stones they're not, but considering the I do what I want nature of cats, it's impressive how many stunts the show's creator was able to train them to do. All the cats in the show were ones she fostered or rescued. She wouldn't admit how many cats she has in all, but with her sense of humor about the show and her jokes about the perils of dating when you have so many cats, she comes across as more endearing and less crazy cat lady.

Now I totally want to see an all puppy band. Except I might die from the sheer adorableness of that.

Lyric of the moment: "I wish I could be as carefree and wild, but I got cat class and I got cat style..."

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Trail and dog days of summer

 Saturday was a day of awesomeness for sure. I went to the preview run for the Dam Good Trail Race (thanks to Chris for the ride) and got to run 14 miles of beautiful trails at Letchworth Park with some cool trail peeps. To date, it's the longest I've ever run on trails. My calf muscles started to cramp up during the last couple miles and my stomach felt a little weird, but it wasn't anything I couldn't run through. Afterwards, Sheila gave me an electrolyte tablet, I stretched and drank water and my chocolate milk (Some people run for beer. I run for chocolate milk). Once I got home, I took a shower, put on my compression socks and hung out all afternoon with my new puppy, Mozzie!

Mozzie is a one year old Bulldog mix we adopted from Verona St. Animal Shelter. He's the sweetest, super chill dog and I loved him right away. He ended up in the shelter because someone had tied him to the bleachers in Genesee Valley Park and abandoned him. Seriously, what kind of asshat does that?

Poor Mozzie had a rough week, what with being left at the park, taken to the shelter and then neutered. He was afraid to go up steps at first but he is getting better.

Mozzie, my pup, you live here now and I promise your life is going to be all happy times and lots of love from here on out.

Lyric of the moment: "I could lift you up. I could show you what you wanna see and take you where you wanna be. You could be my luck. Even in a hurricane of frowns, I know that we'll be safe and sound..."

Monday, August 5, 2013

There but for the grace of the dude go I

So much of life is just really freaking random. Why does a bad thing happen to one person and not another, even though both are in the same place at the same time?

Saturday morning I went running at Mendon Ponds Park with the Trails ROC-stars. We ran one loop then regrouped in the parking lot before heading out again. Unfortunately, some jerkfaces happened to be out on in the park that morning too because 2 of the cars had been broken into - windows smashed by rocks, purses and cell phones stolen, dashboards f*cked up. Totally not cool.

I can't understand why anyone would do that or why only 2 of the 10 or so cars were targeted. I'm infinitely thankful that mine wasn't one of them, but I feel so bad for those who were. It was a real downer to what should have been a stellar morning.

It could just as easily have been me. Or anyone. Random bad shit and random good shit happens all the time. For the most part, I think what you put out into the world, be it positive or negative, comes back to you. But sometimes bad things happen to good people and there is no sense in any of it.

Maybe the thieves were desperate people going through hard times. Maybe they were just punk kids getting up to no good. Hopefully they felt remorse and learned a lesson. Sadly, we all did. We learned not to leave any valuables locked in our cars, to be more vigilant and less trusting. Which is sad, because most people are awesome and I want to believe that everyone is.

For me, it's a reminder to be conscious of the energy I'm putting out into the universe, to try and always act with kindness and compassion. I only want to be an agent of awesomeness. I don't ever want to be the cause of any bad stuff happening to anyone.

After 13 miles on challenging trails on a beautiful summer morning, all you should come back to is the ache of awesomeness in your legs and a trunkful of delicious snacks, not broken glass and the aftermath of someone else's stupid decisions. The vast majority of the time, it's all snacks and awesome sauce. It's only the rare occasions where random bad shit goes down. So I guess all you can do is focus on the good and let go of the bad and run on.

Lyric of the moment: "Everybody's like Cristal, Maybach, diamonds on your time piece, jet planes, islands, tigers on a gold leash. We don't care, we aren't caught up in your love affair. And we'll never be royals. It don't run in our blood, that kind of lux just ain't for us. We crave a different kind of buzz..."

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Enough. Or how I made peace with raisins.

How much is enough? As someone who always wants to do more and be more and push her limits, I struggle with this question. There's no right answer. It's more like a feeling. That is also constantly evolving. What hits the sweet spot of enough this year may not be the same as next year. I change my mind. It happens. There are so many places to go and people to meet and things to try. Some days I want to do everything all at once. Some days I want to do as little as possible. Most days I want to eat insane awe-inducing amounts of frozen yogurt.

Maybe how much is enough? isn't the whole question. Maybe I should also be asking what can I let go of ? and how can I be satisfied with less?

Less is more, right? Mostly. I'm happy in a smaller house with less stuff. I'm as happy exploring my hometown as I am trekking across the globe (but I still want to do both). I'm happiest when I'm running free (free of expensive running gear and a packed race schedule and basically any agenda other than running for the love of it). 

But I've also fallen victim to the mistaken conviction that I can do anything I want if I just work hard enough at it. It's motivating, sure. But also unrealistic. I mean, there are some things that are never going to happen no matter what I do.

Not with that attitude you won't!

See, there it goes again.

Sometimes I don't know how much is enough until I cross over the line into too much, dude, way too much. It's that after-Thanksgiving-dinner feeling of over-stuffedness (or to use non made-up words, excessive satiation). 

Truth be told, we may never know how much frozen yogurt is enough. (Never! It's never enough! All of it! Just kidding.) But seriously, I'm incredibly lucky to have everything I need and the vast majority of the things I want. It is more than enough. I know that. And yet, I feel like if I'm lucky enough to have all these good things, I could be doing so much more.

But enough of that nonsense.

The only thing I really know is how much is enough for me to make peace with my nemesis, the raisin. Those raisins are all wrinkly and gross, but I'm willing to give them a chance in the form of Kellogg's Raisin Bran, the box of which promised me the chance to win $50,000 if I entered its secret code online. Well played, Raisins. Well, played. That would definitely be enough.

Lyric of the moment: "Like the legend of the phoenix, all ends with beginnings. What keeps the planet spinning, the force of love beginning...We're up all night 'til the sun. We're up all night to get some. We're up all night for good fun. We're up all night to get lucky... (This is a good song to dance to in the car. I mean, totally when you're not driving. Safety, yo.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reminders to self: on doubt

I have a lot of highly ridiculous thoughts. I don't know where they come from, they just appear. Some of them are funny.  A lot of them are questions. But it's the doubts I have to watch out for, those pernicious little con-artists. They're always up to no good.

Tuesday and Sunday, we went out on Mike's uncle's boat for some swimming, water skiing and tubing and it was a blast. So here's the thing, self: promise me that if someone is generous enough to invite you on their boat (or on any other adventure),  you'll go! You'll be grateful and excited and you'll have an awesome time. You won't freak out about not being tan or looking more six pack of cookies than six-pack abs or any of that ridiculous nonsense. Promise me that you'll never let your doubts keep you from adventures.

So you don't have six-pack abs. What you do have is guts. Which is all you really need to get to the places most worth going.

It's not like there's some rule that you have to look flawless in order to wear a swimsuit or enjoy your life. When you look back, you're going to remember what you did and how you felt and all the experiences you had, not all of your imperfections and doubts. All that self-conscious crap is in your head. And all it does is hold you back. So don't let it.

There's no one "right" way you're supposed to look or be. Beauty, like awesomeness, is everywhere and in everyone.

Don't waste time on doubts. Get busy being awesome.

Lyric of the moment: "And I wonder...If everything could ever be this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again. The only thing I'll ever ask of you, you gotta promise not to stop when I say when..."

Monday, July 15, 2013

Awesome vs. Not Awesome

Things that are awesome:
*Weekend adventures: BBQ Blues Festival at Highland Park, Corn Hill Festival, going to see Bill Maher's stand-up act. (The D&C article about Bill Maher coming to Rochester mentioned that he used to be on Murder She Wrote. What?! I totally have to find old Murder She Wrote episodes on Netflix and look for him.)
*Running to the beach. I love that I live within running distance of a waterfall and the beach. It's not a very scenic route to get there, but I love the beach view. Sometimes it is about the destination. After my run, I was stretching on a picnic table, waiting for Mike to come pick me up, and a woman walking by said to me "That's an interesting place to do yoga. I would never have thought of that." I didn't know what to say, so I just smiled and kept stretching.
*Swimming in the gym pool on Sunday mornings. Hardly anyone else is there and it makes me feel the best kind of tired, like I just ran 15 miles but nothing hurts.
*Edy's Outshine Fruit Bars. In every flavor. Sooooo good!

Things that are decidedly not awesome:
*Last week I noticed a charge on my bank statement from Embassy Suites in Dallas and it was definitely not me who made that purchase. Rut-roh. I called the bank to dispute the charge and thankfully they refunded me the money, cancelled my debit card and are sending me a new one. But I am still a little freaked out. Stupid identity thieves. As my Grandma Pratt would say "Cheater, cheater, pants on fire."
*During my run this morning, a homeless and/or drunk lady said good morning to me. I said good morning back, then as I ran past she yelled "Lose weight, yo!" I didn't know whether to laugh or be insulted.
*Somehow I have Poison Ivy. Or something equally itchy and red on my arms and back. Ugh. As if I wasn't already itchy enough normally. I need a vat of Calamine lotion. Or better, less sensitive skin.

Lyric of the moment: "Let's have an adventure. Head in the clouds but my gravity's centered..."

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Assorted hijinks

My 4th of July holiday was 4 days of shenanigans with family and friends, running, a bit of swimming and eating all the ice cream and popsicles. Because that is what holidays are for. I don't think you can ever have too many hijinks or too many 4 day weekends.

I am so bad at swimming. Like tragicomically bad. But I don't care. I just love being in the water. And I want to run all over everywhere. On trails, on the beach, on roads, to the ice cream shops, to the moon (I wish!).

And it has finally happened. I have found the impossible. A convertible strapless bra that fits well, is very comfortable and not at all itchy, stays in place even when I run around and jump up and down and cost only $16.99. So yeah, I'm pretty much unstoppable now.

Sometimes I find myself thinking well that is either a fantastic idea or a terrible idea. And that's how I know I'm headed in the right direction. Because usually hijinks ensue. Or I learn a really important lesson. But either way, it is bound to be, as they say, an experience.

Whenever I leave their house, Mom says "Be careful" and Dad says "Drive fast and take chances." And I try to do a little of both.

Today at work I was asking a candidate about her experience and the technologies she's worked with and she said "If you want to know about toilets, I'm your girl. I bet you never thought you'd hear that today. You have to have a sense of humor about these things." So true.

Lyric of the moment: "Let's dance to joy division. And raise our glass to the ceiling. 'Cause this could all go so wrong, but we're so happy..."

Friday, June 28, 2013

Where we're going there are no roads

Infinity of thanks to all my parts because they have been working like champs, letting me have all the adventures I want. Like last week's 2 workout Tuesday (AM speed work on the track and PM trail run. I haven't done a 2-a-day in so long, it was the best!), a couple road runs, 7 miles of hilly trails on Saturday, loops up Cobb's Hill, machete-ing (my backyard is a weed jungle. We're talking weeds on steroids. But I am now the proud owner borrower of a machete! I think I may have found my calling. I bet it's hard to feel anything except straight up badass after a day of machete wielding), and empanada making (Mike taught me how to make empanadas and I was all like "Look at me, I'm cooking," even though my part was really more assembling than cooking. But the stove was on, so it totally counts. And then I ate all the vegetarian empanadas. Great success!)

I'm really hoping I get better at trails because trail running reminds me of everything I loved about being a kid - running through the woods, climbing trees, playing catch with Dad when he would throw the football or frisbee really far and then I'd run as fast as I could and try and jump up and catch it. (Note to self: find someone who wants to play frisbee sometime. But not in an organized way like Ultimate. More like a barefoot, fun, disorganized way. Or something.)

Another note: buy bug spray. A lot of bug spray. I have become an all-you-can-eat buffet for mosquitoes. It's very itchy.

It's officially summer and I want to get dirty and sweaty. And then get clean and enjoy some air conditioning.

So body parts, I'll bring the bug spray and you bring the awesome sauce. Because where we're going there are no roads.

Lyric of the moment: "Things they go my way, I'm back together again. I'm staring in the mirror and it's been so long since I've seen you my friend..."

Friday, June 14, 2013

Impossible things for breakfast

I like vegetables. I really do. (Except you Brussels sprouts. You're the worst.) But I like them better when they taste like dessert.

Enter the Ninja.

It's a fancy blender/food processor jobber that I received as a gift for some long past holiday and which had languished in my pantry unused. Until today. I guess I was hoping that actual ninjas would sneak in with their swords and chop me up a smoothie all stealthy-like. I even opened the box and left the Ninja on the kitchen counter for a few days as a giant hint. But alas, delicious smoothies never materialized. Apparently if you want some ninja-ing to go down, you have to do it yourself.

So this morning I finally got around to commencing Operation Smoothie. I threw in some spinach, a few baby carrots, vanilla soy milk, a frozen banana and cinnamon and ended up with a smoothie that looked rather gross but tasted most excellent. I prefer my vegetables to taste like cinnamony-banana goodness. Mission accomplished. (Though the Ninja is not stealthy at all. That thing is loud. But bonus points for being able to make a smoothie in a single serving takeaway cup.)

I think my forearms may even be getting bigger from all that spinach. Watch out vegetables. I'm so going to Ninja all of you!

Lyric of the moment: "Nobody's gonna see me coming. Nobody's gonna hear a sound. No matter how hard they trying, no stopping me since I've found my inner ninja..."

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fast times

Photos taken by Sheila, one of my favorite fast women
My legs have been feeling good (knock on wood or whatever else I can knock on for continued good luck), but I couldn't shake the feeling that I'm still not in decent enough shape to run with other people. Then I was like screw that, I really, really miss running with other people. Plus, last Thursday night it was raining and I just felt like getting muddy. So I went to the Medved trail run to splash through puddles and jump over logs and play in the rain. Good times.

I am not a trail runner. I don't have the grace or confidence or attention span for it. I always think I'm going to be the one who face plants or sprains something or falls in a ravine. (To date, I have fallen in zero ravines, but it's good to have goals.) I think maybe I'm too cautious sometimes, too hesitant, afraid of taking the wrong step and getting hurt. But there are moments on the downhills where I can feel myself letting go, my legs taking off as if they had a mind of their own. And it's the best.

And yes, I would love to be fast and get better and stronger. But mostly I just want to have fun and keep running for as long as I can. I want to run all over the place with awesome people and dress up and climb on things and take ridiculous pictures.

Fast times in the Total Sports Experience parking lot
I hadn't raced in over a year, but Saturday was the Fashion Week 5K to benefit the Center For Youth. And I really wanted to wear this dress I thrifted a while back but hadn't yet worn because the slit in the back makes it indecently short (and that kind of view is invitation only). But with running shorts and a sports bra underneath I'd be good to go. I'm of the mindset buy the dress and the occasion will arise. And so it did. I put on my lace dress, laced up my running shoes and tried to keep up with the fast guys. The course itself was boring, basically 3 laps in a parking lot. But it was flat and I was really there for the outfits and bagels anyway. I ended up in 4th place overall (technically 3rd but only because Eric waited for me and let me have it) with a time of 22:25. It felt good. I mean I was definitely working hard but I wasn't in any pain. I'd like to see what I could do with a little training. I'm hoping to get in some speed work, trails and distance runs this summer and see what happens.

The weekend's other adventures included watching Now You See Me (at the AMC Theater in Webster where the seats are recliners!), Hibachi, taking Polaroids, chillin' on my new front porch listening to records (randomly, an orange cat and a black cat came over and were hanging out on my porch. I don't care about cats, but if any dogs come over I'm calling finders keepers), watching the Red Wings game from a suite (Thanks to some guy my dad knows from work. I would totally watch more sports if I could do so while eating Dippin Dots in a suite. Also, I learned that there is such a thing called a beer bong. I was like "Why is that beer in a tube?" and Dad told me "It's called a beer bong."), and playing euchre. It's like all of my loves in one weekend. Sooooo good!

Lyric of the moment: "And our dreams will break the boundaries of our fear..."

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reminders to self: on success

If I were a character from Greek mythology, I think I'd be Icarus, so excited to fly that I'd soar too close to the sun and plummet to my death in the sea. I'm with Teddy Roosevelt who said, "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." I mean, I don't want to be an idiot about it. There's a fine line between daring mighty things and doing mightily stupid things. But I'd rather be up in the air - flying, flailing, even plummeting - than safely sitting at home, never having left the ground.

Sometimes I think about what it means to be successful. Am I succeeding at life? I'm not comparing myself to anyone else. Success means different things to different people. I'm sure I fall far short of some people's definition of success. But that's irrelevant. I'm not trying to impress or prove anything to anyone. I'm only trying to live up to my own ideas of what it means to be a successful robot/person. For me, success isn't about money or power or fame. It's about daring mighty things. It's boldness and bravery and learning and growing and taking chances. It's falling down 7 times and getting up 8. I'm ok with mistakes and failures and awkwardness and a wee bit of discomfort. I'm not ok with being afraid to try and never venturing out of my comfort zone.

For me, success is more about attitude than accomplishment. It's kindness and empathy and gratitude. It's being open to experiences and people and loving the crap out of everything. I think as long as I'm doing those things, I'll be happy with whatever happens as a result.

The weird thing is that I haven't gotten any smarter or stronger or prettier or richer or anything like that, but I do feel better about everything. I think what changed is that I became really bad at self loathing. Now when my head gets all OMG you are the worst ever. Terrible. F, I'm just like Oh hey crazy lady, how's it going? Life is good, no? Let's get frozen yogurt and watch Newlyweds and LA Shrinks! (I mean where does Bravo even find these people? They are the worst best.)

Lyric of the moment: "I can't be told it can't be done..."

Friday, May 17, 2013

The rush of impending freedom

I'm lucky to have a job and I'm especially fortunate to have one I enjoy, but sometimes work is And on Fridays I get a little jolt of excitement, the rush of impending freedom.

Work has been crazier than usual lately. In addition to all my normal work, I've been doing the payroll for a few weeks. It makes me nervous - I don't want to make any mistakes. Plus it's a weird feeling to write out one's own paycheck. But it keeps things interesting. I can hardly believe I've been working here for nine years now. What a long strange trip it's been. And I mean that in the very best way.

The working hard I don't mind so long as it's balanced out by some playing hard. Last weekend Mom and I saw Les Misérables at the Auditorium Theater (such a depressing story but the music is beautiful). This week Mike and I went to free member movie night at The Little to see The Great Gatsby (and now I am coveting all those 1920's dresses hardcore) and we caught the tail end of Rusted Root playing at the Lilac Festival (but it was too crowded to move or find anyone). I'm hoping this weekend will be filled with running and kettle corn or possibly a frosty in a waffle cone, which the radio told me is a new thing. It's about time.

I would like to be spending some time on my brand new porch, but the guy got held up on another job and now he can't start work on my house until next week. I just want to get it all over with and pay him because the longer I wait the harder it is to keep myself from going into full-on ridiculous mode and freaking out about spending money. That train of thought runs nonstop service to a future where I am destitute and living in a cardboard box. And I do not want to be in a cardboard box. I want to be in a hammock swing. On a porch. Eating a frosty.

Lyric of the moment: "Baby in our wildest moments, we could be the greatest, we could be the greatest. Baby in our wildest moments, we could be the worst of all..."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The cost of awesome sauce

The price of awesomeness is that sometimes you end up in pain. Or really phlegmy. One week I'm touring Egypt and the next I'm becoming best friends with Nyquil and the only sights I'm seeing are the insides of my eyelids. So it goes.

Every time I go somewhere new and fabulous, I return with a cold. But it's all good. I like to think of it as giving my immune system some new challenges, some foreign and exciting germs to vanquish. My body and I are still speaking different languages, but at least now I'm actually listening and trying to understand. Rather than being that annoying tourist who tries to communicate in a foreign land by speaking increasingly loudly in his own language. As if there is some magic decibel level at which his words will get all Rosetta Stoned and suddenly everyone will understand him. I don't want to be that guy. I'm putting down my fanny pack and backing away slowly.

The thing about pain and discomfort is that sometimes it's a warning sign, a call to action or immediate cessation of the current action. But sometimes that discomfort is a sign of growth, a manifestation of all the awesomeness building up inside of you.

Lyric of the moment: "Sometimes the very thing you're looking for is the one thing you can't see..."

Monday, April 29, 2013

Epic adventures in Egypt

If I do say so myself, my first solo trip was a smashing success. It took me 3 flights and 20+ hours to get there but it was totally worth it. Egypt was amazing! I got to see Cairo, the Pyramids of Giza and Saqqara, the Sphinx, Luxor Temple, the Valley of the Kings, Karnak Temple, the Egyptian museum and King Tutankhamon's treasure and ride on a camel, a felucca (sailboat) on the Nile and an overnight sleeper train (though sleeper train is really a misnomer. It's rather hard to sleep with all the shaking, jolting and squeaking going on. But they do give you 3 different kinds of rolls for breakfast, so maybe carbo train would be a better name).

My trip was through On The Go Tours, which I highly recommend. The other people in the tour group, 2 from South Africa and 2 from Australia, were really cool and we had a great guide, Hesham, who is an Egyptologist. He told us all about life in ancient Egypt as well as modern Egypt. He was honest about the problems facing Egypt today, but it was obvious that he loves his country. And the best way to see anything is through the eyes of someone who is passionate about it.

Driving in Cairo was fascinating to watch. There are no rules, no lanes, and crazy traffic. I saw a few stoplights but no one seemed to be heeding them. We rode past, on the one hand, sheep eating garbage in the street in front of a butcher shop where they would eventually end up on the menu, the City of the Dead (a cemetery where a million people live) and tons of unfinished and illegal apartment buildings and, on the other hand, The Four Seasons Residence Hotel, where you can drive your fancy expensive car into an elevator and up to your fancy expensive room.

Since the revolution in January 2011, tourism in Egypt has really decreased, which is sad because it's one of their main industries and sources of employment/income. But if you're a tourist, it's a great time to visit Egypt because there are no lines and you can have the pyramids and other tourist sites practically to yourself. Plus, when we went to the pyramids, we were accompanied by a man from the tourist police. It was like having our very own bodyguard, even though there was really nothing to guard us from. People seemed to be surprised that I was from the U.S. because apparently in the past few years Americans have been afraid to visit Egypt. It's such a shame because the country and its people are awesome. My fellow Americans, you are really missing out on some epic adventures. The other people in my group also told me I didn't have much of an American accent. I asked what typical Americans sound like and they said "more Texan," which I thought was hilarious.
Shopping in Egypt is quite the experience as well. Everywhere we went, people followed us around trying to sell us souvenirs. Some of them were very aggressive and didn't want to take no for an answer. I almost got scammed by a guy who overcharged me for postcards and stamps, but lucky for me Hesham got him to give me some money back. Hesham also taught us how to barter like an Egyptian. If you pay the price they initially quote you, you'll usually be overcharged, but if you walk away they will follow you and keep lowering the price or ask what you want to pay.

To be honest, I was a little apprehensive about solo travel, but going with a group I never felt alone. I'd still prefer to have a travel partner for future adventures, but if the choice is either go alone or stay home, I'm definitely going. This trip has only increased my insatiable wanderlust. After hearing all about South Africa and Australia from my travel mates, I totally want to experience those countries as well. My current cravings are for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and going on a safari, but there are so many places I want to go it's hard to choose. I'm excited to go back to work so I can make more money for future trips!

Lyric of the moment: "I'm speeding out of reach. Oh, you're the one I had to meet...Wanderlust will carry us on..."

Monday, April 22, 2013

Off on adventures. Back soon.

I think the secret of a great adventure is to be equally excited to embark and to return home again. Until next week, my dears. I hope you enjoy your own fabulous adventures this week, and always.

Lyric of the moment: "I got my ticket for the long way 'round. Two bottle whiskey pints of ice cream for the way. And I sure would like some sweet company. And I'm leaving tomorrow, what do you say? When I'm gone, when I'm gone, you're gonna miss me when I'm gone..."

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Some kind of interesting

Last week I was talking to someone who was born on the other side of the world and he told me I was "very interesting" and "fascinating." Interesting bad or interesting good? I asked. "Good," he said "You're an idealist but you also have a practical side." Apparently my head is in the clouds but my feet are on the ground. Therefore it stands to reason that I must be very tall. Score.

But I think everyone is interesting. A particularly hilarious example: someone sent us a resume that included a section titled "What's so special about (candidate name)" and one of the bullet points said "I juggle fire." Talk about interesting. Who wouldn't want to hire that guy?

Sometimes I feel that things are hopelessly elusive. Or maybe it's just me. But I suppose that's how it goes. The best things in life cannot be possessed or owned. They come to you if you're open to them but if you hold on too tightly, they slip through your fingers.

I think I have to accept that I am not the kind of person who can buy a house as-is. I am the kind of person who buys a house then gradually changes everything about it except its physical location. There is something to be said for accepting things as they are, but I can't help seeing them as they could be. And I wonder if that is my tragic flaw. One of them anyway.

On Saturday I ran 10 miles! Well it wasn't a consecutive 10 miles - I ran 7 miles, took a break to do an hour on the elliptical, then ran 3 more - but I'm the only one counting and I say it counts. I have never been so excited to run such a short distance. I would have done a dance if I was coordinated enough to do so without falling off the treadmill. Fingers crossed that I am almost ready to run with other people again.

Lyric of the moment: "If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected. Decide what to be and go be it. There was a dream and one day I could see it. Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it..."

Friday, April 5, 2013

Getting up to so many shenanigans

Lately I am excited. About everything. Ordinary days. Upcoming extraordinary adventures. I don't know how it happened but hey, I'll take it. The thing is that nothing really changed except the way I feel about the way things already are. If that makes any sense. And yeah, occasionally I still wish certain things were different. But mostly I feel like I'm going to get up to so many shenanigans and I can't wait.

It's amazing what a subtle shift in perspective can do. That awkward/bizarre/ creepy  thing/person/experience? It will make an hilarious story someday. Man have I got loads of those now. People are the weirdest.

But I think the thing that made the most difference for me was learning to love things wholeheartedly without expectation or attachment. Or attempting to learn it anyway. This is still an ongoing thing. Basically I'm trying to 1) do the things I love for the pure enjoyment of them, without being attached to the results, 2) listen and really be present for other people without thinking about a million other things and 3) not letting fear of embarrassment/failure/dying alone keep me from potentially epic moments.

Things that are awesome:

I recently acquired a pair of Nike running capris that are the best ever. They retail for $45 but I got them at the thrift store for $4. I love it when I chance upon something I wasn't even looking for and it's in perfect condition and fits perfectly, like it was meant to be.

Bonus points for the T-shirt at the same thrift store that had a picture of a cow on it and said "There's no mad tofu disease." Which I did not buy. But did have a good laugh over.

If there is a heaven, I hope it is like Espada, where men bring you skewers of the most delicious grilled pineapple with cinnamon and cut you off a slice, which you get to pick up with the cutest little pair of tongs. And the salad bar is divine. I suppose it's weird for a vegetarian to fall in love with a Brazilian steakhouse, but that's how I roll.

Pretty much everything that Bill says. Like "You would be a good drunk." and also this conversation:
Bill: "This is a list of the people I went to grammar school with who have passed away."
Me: "You keep a list of dead people? I hope I don't end up on that paper."
Bill: "Well you will if you keep that up."

Lyric of the moment: "And I don't blame you dear for running like you did all these years. I would do the same, you'd best believe. And the highway signs say we're close but I don't read those things anymore. I never trusted my own eyes. So keep your head up, keep your love. Keep your head up, my love..."

Friday, March 29, 2013

Countdown to Cairo

Sometimes I get an idea that, for whatever reason, I just can't shake. And then, because I'm incredibly fortunate and at times more than a little relentless, it has a tendency to become sort of inevitable. So I'm going to Egypt. (EGYPT!!!!!) At the end of April! As in less than 4 weeks from now!

Amongst all my travel and flight confirmation emails, I also received this:

Word of the Day for Friday, March 29, 2013
swivet \SWIV-it\, noun: a state of nervous excitement, haste, or anxiety; flutter: I was in such a swivet that I could hardly speak.

That sums it up quite nicely.

I've always wanted to go to Egypt. I mean, I've always wanted to go pretty much everywhere. But Egypt, man, that's some epic shit. Then one day I was like what am I waiting for? Why not now?

And admittedly I had a moment where I got all what if I have an awful, lonely, depressing time by myself and just totally fail at this vacation? But then I was like so what? As if it is even possible to fail at vacation. I'm going to be with a tour group the whole time. Sure, they're strangers, but I won't be alone. And I doubt I will feel anything other than serious awe while standing in front of the freaking pyramids. Plus, I'm totally going to use this trip as an excuse to buy some harem pants. But seriously, I am going to have to do some shopping. Most of my clothes are too risqué for a conservative Muslim country.

Lyric of the moment: "Breathe in for luck..."

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cell of the month awards

Once upon a time, I was a single cell. So were you. We were all these microscopic bundles of infinite potential. And look at us now: we have become trillions of cells, trillions of bundles of infinite potential. We could do anything. I love that about us.

Sometimes I'm kind of a jerk to my cells. I take them for granted. I forget to wonder at all of the amazing things they are doing for me right this very minute and every single minute. I don't hand out cell of the month awards.

But I am feeding them more vegetables. Baby steps. I mean, I still eat a lot more junk than I should, but I'm working on it. (A life without cake is no kind of life. But neither is a life of all cake.) I can really feel the difference too. When I eat better I feel better, happier, more energized. You probably can't tell from the outside, but inside it's a party up in here.

I realize all these things I'm saying are blatantly obvious. But sometimes the most obvious truths are the hardest to internalize. Maybe I'm finally starting to get it, this whole taking care of myself thing. Maybe I will finally stop running away from things that are good for me. Anything could happen.

Cell of the month: Erythrocyte #23,000.

Lyric of the moment: "Not really sure how to feel about it. Something in the way you move. Makes me feel like I can't live without you..."

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Work hard, play hard (die hard?)*

The truth I'm coming to realize is that I would let anyone onto the plane but there are very few I would trust to be co-captain. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing. Admittedly I have some control issues (See: 2000-2002, so not my best years). I can embrace all the randomness and chaos of life but I cannot stand to be out of control of myself. If you were being kind, you might call it self-discipline, but it's really part of the craziness. The craziness is what compelled me to do every single bit of extra credit in school even though I already had straight A's, what made me run a second marathon because the first one didn't go down how I wanted it to, what drives me to get to work by 7:15 even though no one else gets there until at least 8.

Sometimes I think I just want to do whatever I feel like, screw the consequences. But I don't. Because that's not who I am. And I know it's not going to get me where I really want to be. A life of instant gratification is a dead end. It's small changes, good habits and healthy actions, made consistently and continually, that lead to lasting awesomeness and real fulfillment. I don't want to escape from reality, I want to live it, in all its messiness and beauty.

As much as I sometimes feel like it, I can't give up. I don't have it in me to do anything half-arsed. If I'm in, I'm all in. I will put everything I have into it for as long as it takes. It's the craziness, it's how I'm programmed. I can't change it and I don't really want to. I just have to keep it in balance so it works for me instead of against me. Because I want to let go and enjoy myself, I want spontaneity and adventure. But I also want stability and responsibility. Which seems contradictory but it's yin and yang, balance, everything in moderation. Robots just want to have fun, while also being healthy and saving for retirement.

I think sometimes responsibility gets a bad rap. It sounds boring and dull. But I think it's actually the foundation for true enjoyment. You can't really relax if you're worried about money all the time or involved in crazy personal drama. But if you have your life in order, you have options and resources and the world becomes your playground. At least I hope so. Because I've been working hard for 31 years and now I want to play hard too.

Lyric of the moment: "I don’t wanna go to sleep, I wanna stay up all night, I wanna just screw around. I don’t wanna think about what’s gonna be after this, I wanna just live right now..." (but like in a totally responsible way where I still get to have a 401K)

*Dear Bruce Willis, please pick this as the title of your next movie. And if you have a thirty-something doppelganger, please send him my way.