Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Race #8: Charlie's Old Goat Trail Run

My "goat horns" hair. Thanks to Shmeagans for these pics!
I didn't know much about this race going in. Just that it was about 6-7 miles and rumor had it there were cookies at the end. It was hot, humid and hilly, which hopefully is just the kind of run my body needs to get ready for TransRockies. I loved the sections through the woods, across the stream and over the planks. Every time I crossed one of the planks, I did a pirate voice in my head. Yarrr! Avast ye matey! Walk the plank! (That's about the extent of my pirate lingo.) I was less fond of the inferno-like meadow sections in the blazing hot sun. But sometimes enduring a little heat is worth it. I mean, you can't bake cookies without heat.

It was a tough course but it felt good. At one point I started to get what I thought was a stomach cramp, but then I walked a hill and burped and then I felt fine. If only all problems could be solved that easily. Somewhere around mile 5, Jude came up behind me and we got to chatting about her cute shorts and Lululemon, etc and we must have missed a turn because suddenly we were off-course and had to backtrack. But then we caught up with Pete and Steven again and then it was only a few more hills to the finish. So it all worked out. And I don't mind getting lost. It's all part of the adventure.

I didn't look up my finishing time because it's sort of beside the point. My goal this year is simply to run 14 races for the pure enjoyment of them. It's not about performance or achievement, it's about loving the race I'm in. This race was pretty easy to love. I got to run hard in some spots and cruise a little in others and cheer on my speedier pals and my speedier half.

After the race, we went to the Post-Goat pool party and spent the day lounging poolside, playing lawn games and hanging out in a posse of all-around awesomeness. At the end of the night, we were playing euchre and this happened:

2N-Jenn pointed out what we thought were bees, but Bob later told us were just June Bugs, hovering around the bushes lining the outside of the pool fence. I was like "What are they doing? Bee things? Pete said "Pollinating" but I heard "Power mating" and the conversation devolved from there into laughter and inappropriate jokes. Which is the way all good parties end.

After a tough day of racing and laying poolside, of course we had to get up early Sunday morning to run 12 miles on the River Chase course from Seneca Park to Charlotte Pier and back. Because that's how we do.

Lyric of the moment: "Oh, we all want the same thing. Oh, we all run for something. I'll be running, ooh I'll be running, 'til the love runs out, 'til the love runs out...."


Sunday, June 29, 2014

Mozzie vs. Suitcase

This morning, I was taking Mozzie on a walk and we were having our usual one-sided conversations (Me: "Mozzie, no! You don't have to eat poop. We have a whole bag of dog food at home.") when suddenly Mozzie tried to run across the street. The cause of his distress? A carry-on suitcase propped up against a tree. I tried to reassure him, telling him it was ok, it was just a suitcase. Even though I know he doesn't understand what I'm saying. The only word that elicits a strong reaction in him is cheese. I went over and touched the suitcase, trying to show him that it was an inanimate object, but that only scared him more. He turned around and hightailed it back home, periodically looking over his shoulder, presumably to make sure the scary suitcase wasn't following us. It was pretty hilarious and adorable. It's fascinating to get a glimpse of the world through another animal's eyes.

The thing I love most about Mozzie is that, despite his rough start in the world (he was mistreated and abandoned), he is a little fearful of new people and situations, but he is never mean. I've never even heard him growl. His fear never turns to aggression. He is a cuddler, not a fighter.

Lyric of the moment: "Don't you worry, you'll find yourself. Follow your heart, and nothing else. You can do this, if you try. All that I want for you is to be satisfied..."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Running wild

I have this recurring dream where I'm running and then my feet lift off the ground and I fly away. That's what I love about running: the moment in every step where both feet are off the ground, the chance that maybe one day I'll take flight. So far, no luck. But hey, you never know. Stranger things have happened: Last Sunday I held a baby* and went grocery shopping. Shocking I know. It's like I'm a real person or something.

Lately I feel so much lighter and I realized it's the absence of negative emotions. No worries, no stress, no drama. Which is exactly how I like it. In the past, I used to channel any negativity I faced into my running, using it as fuel. Time wise, I always had my best runs when I was upset about something. But now I'm running away from the things that make me feel bad and towards the things that make me feel happy. Now I feel like I'm running the way I was meant to run: running wild, running free, running on joy.

Lyric of the moment: "I'd be lying if I ran away. I'd be lying if I ran another way. And so I'll stay... There's not much that you can do to get me to run away from you..."

*I'm lucky to have some amazing lady friends who have created these adorable tiny humans. I'm so happy for them. But I'm secretly terrified of becoming The Friend Who Dropped The Baby. No one likes that friend.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

On that you can rely

I received a work email from a client that said "Hey, if I’m not good for my word what good am I?" It was a nice reminder to be dependable and follow through, to say what I mean and mean what I say. And it was a nice reminder that other people can be relied upon to do the same. 

Most of the time I'm all easy going and happy-go-lucky. But when something important comes up, I want it done right. The first time. And I'll admit to not having an overwhelming abundance of patience if it's not. I sometimes struggle with that, the depending on others part. I find it easier to be independent than to rely on someone else and risk being let down. But I don't want to make decisions out of fear of being let down or hurt. And too much independence can be isolating. That's not the way I want to live. It feels really nice to have people to depend on, to be part of a team. So maybe the key is picking the right people. Or adjusting my expectations. Or maybe I just have to remind myself that it's not the end of the world and everything will be alright and bonus points for being an excellent opportunity for indulging in some consolation cookies. (When the cookie crumbles, might as well eat it, am I right?)

I am still working on this. Sometimes people say things but then don't actually do them. And I don't know if it's because they didn't really mean what they said or they meant it at the time but then changed their minds. I have a hard time telling the difference. But I understand that life intervenes and plans change. In general, I think things tend to proceed towards ultimate awesomeness, but I don't count on anything until it actually happens. Unless it's one of those ideas that get stuck in my head. Because they are relentless and, however long or however much effort it takes, those dreams are coming true. If I say I want to go to (insert remote location here) or I love you forever, you can best believe I really, really mean it. Robot love is forever. (I saw some dude wearing a T-shirt that said that, so you know it's true.) On that you can rely.

Lyric of the moment: "And I, all I really want is you. You to stick around. I'll see you every day. But you have to follow through..."

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The best things in life are free. But these were $20 and they're pretty awesome too.

I prefer to spend my cash moneys on experiences rather than things. But there are some situations in which flip-flops or running shoes are not acceptable footwear. (Inconceivable, I know. But alas, I'm not in charge of these things.) And Mozzie somehow got into the closet and chewed up my only pair of dress sandals. They were heels and I could never really walk in them anyway, so it was no big loss. But I had to find replacement dress shoes before my brother's wedding in August. When a $10 off DSW coupon fortuitously arrived in the mail, I went to their website thinking I would just find a pair of plain, flat, silver sandals. But then I saw them...winged sandals! For $29.95 ($19.95 with my coupon). I hesitated for a minute, because who wears winged sandals outside of Greek mythology? Me, that's who. I mean, when you stumble across awesomeness, you have to invite it inside. Because that's life, my friends. One day you're sitting around bummed because your dog ate your shoes and it seems exceedingly unfair that your feet should ever be required to conform to someone else's ideas of fancy footwear. And the next day you have winged sandals on your feet and you are pretty much unstoppable.

Lyric of the moment: "You've been reading some old letters. You smile and think how much you've changed. All the money in the world couldn't buy back those days. You pull back the curtains, and the sun burns into your eyes. You watch a plane flying across a clear blue sky. This is the day your life will surely change. This is the day when things fall into place..."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Things that are ridiculous

I love anything that promises to be even remotely ridiculous. I think that's one of the reasons I fell in love with trail running. Because of situations like these...

Things that are ridiculous:

*I was in the shower, trying to wash what I thought was dirt off my leg, but then realized it was a bruise. And not just any bruise. A bruise with mosquito bites inside of it. This may be my skin's most ridiculous feat to date. I think it even beats that summer I had mosquito bites on my face.

*Pete was going to lose a toenail and he asked me to pull it off. I think this is what Meatloaf was talking about when he wrote that song, "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that." But trail runners are the kind of people who check each other for ticks and paint over/pull off each other's black toenails. So now I can add pulled-creepy-toenail-off-a-loved-one to my list of life experiences.

*Saturday morning a group of us ran 13 miles through 3 different parks and then back to Alison's house for bagels. Afterwards, Pete and I went to Chimney Bluffs State Park for a nice little hike. At about 8:00 that night, while watching Spaceballs, Pete asked "Are you asleep?" and I, half-asleep answered "No." (I intended to say "I'm not asleep, I'm in a taco coma," but the extra words didn't come out.) Pete suggested that we take a nap, just 45 minutes or so. When I woke up...three hours later...I was like what happened, what time is it? You just can't keep these party animals from their wild nights.

*I was awake. It was 6am. On a Sunday. So I got up and decided to go to Seneca Park for an easy time-on-feet run. I reached into my purse for my keys and pulled out a sports bra. Apparently that is where I'm keeping them these days. I guess you never know when you're going to need a little extra boob support.

Lyric of the moment: "But we're never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy..."

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

An ode to discomfort

Last night I was running through the woods of Cobb's Hill, enveloped in a blanket of heat, my legs still tender from Fit1 on Monday, and I couldn't stop smiling. It hit me suddenly that this is it. This is the life that I always wanted - a life of adventures, running, yoga, pilates, bunny hopping, euchre, laughs and hugs, a life of accepting challenges and learning and doing all the things I'm afraid to do. I wasn't sure it was even possible and I was almost certain I'd have to do it alone. But then somehow everything fell into place, and I've never been so happy to be proven wrong. Sometimes it makes me a little nervous. There's a tiny voice in the back of my head warning "Don't screw it up." But mostly all I feel is eternal gratitude.

So what is the secret to having everything you ever wanted? I don't know. Most of the time, I barely know where I am. But I think for me, other than luck, the secret is discomfort. It's pushing myself out of my comfort zone, doing the things I think I can't do, allowing myself to be completely open, vulnerable, awkward, weird. Discomfort gets a bad rap. People cross the street to avoid it. But I've come to love it in a way. The soreness after a tough workout, that's the feeling of awesomeness building up inside my cells. That sense of excitement tinged with slight terror, that's how I know I'm in the right place. 

For a long time I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn't want the things that other people want. I didn't want to settle down and have kids. Not that those aren't amazing things to do, because they are. I just knew that wasn't the life for me. But when I'd say I didn't want kids, people would give me this look, like I was one of those robots from The Matrix, like I had a secret room full of human babies that I used as fuel to power my dastardly machinations. And I totally don't have one of those rooms. (I have a whole warehouse of them! Mwahahaha! Just kidding). I love kids, especially your kids, because you're awesome and they're mini bundles of awesomeness. I wish that everyone who wanted kids could have them.

But as for me, I wanted to know what the other options were. I knew they had to be out there. So I set out to find them and I ended up here. And I have to say this is shaping up to be the best and happiest year of my life thus far. Some of that is thanks to you, my favorite humans, and especially to Pete. Some of it is just the confluence of years of relentless effort, physically, mentally and emotionally, of going all in, of embracing the discomfort and letting it take me to all the best places.

Lyric of the moment: "I still only travel by foot and by foot, it's a slow climb. But I'm good at being uncomfortable, so I can't stop changing all the time..."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

2014 Race #7: MedVed 5K for ALS

Thanks to super speedy Steve for the pic!
I can't remember the last time I ran a 5K and I haven't done much road running or any speed workouts in a long time. So I didn't know how this race was going to go and I was all why did I think this would be a good idea? Then I ran it and I loved it and I was like that was a great idea, let's do this again next year!  (Story of my life.) The course was fast and flat and you get to run around Frontier Field to the finish line at third base. It was heartwarming to see all the people wearing T-shirts commemorating their loved ones who suffered from ALS. And I've never gotten a tech t-shirt from a 5K race before, so that was pretty sweet. Plus the shirt is white and the sizes run small so it's perfect for all those wet t-shirt contests you may find yourself at this summer.

Thanks to ultrarunner Rob Hannan for the pic!
I'm used to running for at least an hour at a time or several hours on the weekends, so a 20 something minute race seemed to fly by. I didn't know if I should try to go all out and race it since that's not really my goal this year, but on the other hand, I can use all the hard workouts I can get before TransRockies, so I decided to run it based on feel. The first mile, I went out easy, keeping myself in check, at a little over 8 minute pace. I felt great and my legs were itching to go faster so at the one mile mark I just took off. I ran progressively faster for miles 2 and 3, sprinted hard at the finish and I still felt like I had a lot left to give. I finished in 23:05 (and second in my age group, surprisingly. I didn't think I was going fast enough for that). I think I could have gone a few more miles at that pace, which is encouraging, but I still have a lot of work to do before we leave for Colorado.

To be honest I don't really care about pace or time. I was just so happy to be out there running. I love the fast, short runs and the long, slow runs and everything in between. I love the trails and the roads, but most of all I love that wherever I run nowadays it's with such good company.

Lyric of the moment: "This one's for the torn down, the experts at the fall. Come on friends get up now, you're not alone at all...This one's for believing, if only for it's sake. Come on friends get up now, love is to be made..."

Friday, June 13, 2014

It's Friday the 13th, I'm in love

Is Friday the 13th an unlucky day or a lucky one? I think it depends on how you look at it. The same random event could happen to two different people and one could interpret it as lucky while the other sees it as unlucky.

Earlier this week, Mozzie busted into the blue bedroom and had himself a puppy rave, chewing up all my old journals and 3 of my books (Thankfully they weren't library books. Though funnily enough, one of them was Dog Shaming. Yes, my dog literally ate the book on dogs eating things they shouldn't. Maybe he was reading it and it gave him some bad ideas?). At first I thought Seriously Mozzie? and set about cleaning up all the bits of half-chewed paper and bindings. But in a weird way, it almost seemed like a sign. Here was my past, with all its fears, worries, detours and regrets, reduced to puppy confetti. And here was this big-headed bundle of adorableness and chaos, who wouldn't even be in my life if not for some of those detours, who in one fell swoop, chewed up everything I'd been holding on to that no longer mattered.

It got me thinking about the strange series of events that brought me here, all the shenanigans, the adventures, the people who changed my life for the better. I realized that all the times of seemingly irreparable sadness were almost immediately followed by times of previously unfathomable happiness. And maybe that was no accident. Maybe it was a choice. To experience everything, the trials and the triumphs, the sweetness and the suckiness. To let sorrow open my heart instead of closing it. To make the best of wherever it was I found myself and to love everything.

I'm excited about a lot of things right now. (So excited that I have to consciously curb my enthusiasm and remind myself not to be weird. Or else I'd just be hugging everyone all the time.) I don't know how anything is going to pan out. I'm hoping for maximum awesomeness, but with these things you never can tell. So I'm just here to enjoy the party.

And I'm going to go with lucky, 'cause I'm pretty sure this Friday the 13th is going to bring me some laughs, some miles, some Pete and some tacos.

Lyric of the moment: "And we may never meet again. So shed your skin and lets get started. And you will throw your arms around me..." (If the Pearl Jam cover of this song was a house, I would totally live in it.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

On mistakes. And other deliciousness

The other day I ordered a frozen vanilla chai with soy milk and the barista made it with whole milk. In the middle of my internal deliberations over whether or not to say anything to her about it (I don't like complaining and I try to avoid it as much as possible, plus it was a perfectly good drink, just not the drink I was expecting), she realized her mistake, asked if anyone wanted a free chai and made me a new one. The woman in front of me in line gladly accepted the free chai and said (to me) "Thank you for ordering this" and (to the barista) "Thank you for making a mistake." I thought it was a fantastic little moment. It's a good reminder that sometimes the best course of action is to go with the flow and let things work out on their own. And that mistakes can be delicious.

I started thinking about those words, "Thank you for making a mistake." What if, instead of beating ourselves up over our mistakes, we were grateful for them? Mistakes aren't inherently bad. Like anything else, it's all in how you look at it. In any situation, you can focus on the negatives or you can find the awesomeness in it. The false starts, the missteps, the stumbles, they're all part of the experience.

Sometimes I look around at my life and think how did I get to this weird and wonderful place? I took some chances and I made some mistakes and I kept going. Maybe mistakes are life's way of slowing you down so you get to the right place at exactly the right time. Maybe they're what inspire us to make the brave choices that lead to our very best moments.

Lyric of the moment: "In all the days I've travelled I have never been this far. I can't believe that this is where we are. 'Cause I adore you..."

Friday, June 6, 2014

2014 New Things #10: Fit1

Doing hard stuff in the park. Thanks to Gustavo for the pic.
If Hell felt a little chilly yesterday or if you noticed pigs flying, it's because the impossible finally happened: I went to my first Fit1 class. I have been terrified of this class ever since I heard the stories of people throwing up or being so sore afterwards they could hardly walk. But the only muscle I have is my heart and that's not going to be enough for TransRockies. It will be the most miles I've ever run in one week and the most epic thing I've ever attempted. I'm going to need all the muscles. So when Pete suggested we go to Fit1 on Thursday, and my ass and abs were still sore from Pilates on Wednesday, I figured what better time than now. Might as well run there and back too. We ran from my house to Fit1 at Highland Park. The sky was overcast but it was a perfect temperature for running/squats/spider crawls/bunny hops/etc. I could do more than I thought I could do and it didn't hurt nearly as much as I was expecting. (Most of the time I'm an optimist but when it comes to things that scare me, I catastrophize, building it up in my head to be this impossibly ridiculous obstacle, then I go do it and, compared to my exaggerated expectations, the reality is a piece of cake. And I do love cake.)

So I survived Fit1. It was a challenge for sure. And it was actually fun. Like the grown-up version of playing the park. But playing hard. Because the hardest things are the most worth doing (Insert Todd's jokes here.) On the run home afterwards my legs felt like Jello. But the best kind of Jello: the chocolate pudding. And apparently Pete and I weren't done flexing our muscles yet because then we moved my old giant couch out to the curb to make way for my new couch that'll be delivered today.

I'd like to try to get to at least one Fit1 class a week (though not back to back with Pilates anymore). I think it will be good for me. Plus Gustavo is a beautiful person with a beautiful outlook on life and he makes for a very inspiring coach.

So my quest for muscles continues. If I never find them, at least I'll have some awesome company along the way.

Lyric of the moment: "Let me assure you friend: every day is ice cream and chocolate cake. And what you make of it. Let me say, you get what you take from it. So be amazed. And never stop, never stop, never stop. You gotta be brave..." (Story of my life.)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

2014 New Things #9: Watkins Glen State Park

If you've never been to Watkins Glen State Park, go. Mere words cannot express the awesomeness of the gorge - the rocks, the 19 waterfalls, the sheer size of it. It's one of the coolest things you can see for $8 per car.

And apparently it's great if you like hiking while wearing dresses or dress pants. For some reason, a lot of the other people there were dressed up in what I would call decidedly non-hiking attire. You know, because sometimes you find yourself at a fancy party and then you're like let's go hiking and look at some waterfalls. Actually, that sounds like my kind of party.

On Sunday afternoon (after I had brunch with 3 of my favorite ladies), Pete and I drove to Watkins Glen and hiked the Gorge Trail and Indian Trail (I got to try out my new Columbia hiking shoes and walk through puddles without getting wet - Thanks Eric!). Then we stopped at the General Store in Watkins Glen, where fortuitously we found orange bandannas! We bought 3 bandannas for $3 and change, plus we got a coupon for buy one get one free Ben & Jerry's. So of course we had to get waffle cones of deliciousness. On the way back home, we stopped at the Waterloo Outlets and scored some Montrail Rogues for 30-some bucks at the Columbia Outlet.

Hiking and Pete and ice cream and deals on trail running gear - that is my kind of adventure!

But to me, the most amazing thing is that this huge gorge was carved by erosion. Just some glacial melting that created streams that kept on keeping on, slowly and surely for years and years and years. That's some pretty epic proof that little by little, anything is possible.

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..." (This might become my theme song for TransRockies)

Sunday, June 1, 2014

No doubt

Saturday morning Pete and I ran 9.5 miles from his house to Tryon Park, around the loop to Lucien Morin park and back to his house. It was a beautiful morning and I couldn't ask for better company, but I started to get frustrated with myself. I felt tired. I'm still not 100% over this cold. It's been 2 weeks and I'm still hacking up junk. I'm hoping the 10 days of antibiotics will finally shut down this phlegm factory for good. I want to feel better. I want to run better. I don't want to hold Pete back during our epic TransRockies adventure in August (58 miles of trails over 3 days. I am going to die. When Pete suggested it, I said something like Are there bears in Colorado? I want to hug a bear. Which just goes to show you how little survival instinct I possess. But there was no doubt in my mind that I would say yes. When adventure calls, the only answer is yes).

I know that feeling frustrated about the way I feel isn't productive, so I changed my perspective. Sure, I've been sick. But I also ran 15 miles of tough, muddy trails. I ran some hills one morning and ran again that night. I swam laps at the pool. Thursday night I ran probably faster than I've ever run at Lucien Morin, which has always been a tough park for me. And then I got to spend a lovely Saturday running with my love, eating tacos, swimming in an amazing friend's amazing heated pool, and playing euchre while eating a chocolate dome.

Most surprisingly, I put on a bikini and went out in public without a second thought. Ok, well I had maybe one and a quarter thoughts. But it was only to check that my boobs were secure in the halter top. I have joked about instituting a don't-ask-don't tell policy with the backs of my thighs because it's better if I don't know what is going on back there. Then I realized my legs, whatever they look like, have carried me through everything. Through a few years of frighteningly little sustenance. Through marathons and runs of intense pain and debilitating muscle cramps. They have literally supported me through every minute of every day of my entire life.

It all hit me as I was driving to the pool this morning and I couldn't help but tear up. I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude for my body and the life it has carried me through. Whatever life threw at them, my legs were always enough. I was always enough. It was a wave of sweet relief on a visceral level, a setting down of the heaviest burden: the crushing weight of my own self-doubts.

I thought of all the things I denied myself in the past because I didn't feel good enough for them. And I realized how ridiculous it all was. I got in the gym pool and felt such joy to be there. I've never taken swimming lessons and I don't know what I'm doing, but I've always loved the water. I love the feeling of moving through it. It feels like home. Water is so basic, a simple threesome of hydrogen and oxygen, but it is powerful beyond measure. It is so calm on the surface, yet it can move mountains.

And I am 60% water.

Lyric of the moment: "I am not scared of the elements. I am under-prepared, but I am willing. And even better, I get to be the other half of you..."