Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 New Things #13: Fivrr

I can't remember how I first heard about Fivrr , an online marketplace for professional services that only cost $5, but somehow my brain connected the dots and reminded me of this site when Pete and I were thinking about getting custom hoodies for our TransRockies/Colorado adventurefest. Pete bought us matching hoodies at The North Face during packet pick-up for 0spf. Then all we needed was a logo. I browsed through the logo designers listed on Fivrr and picked dreamgdesigner because one of his/her sample logos included a lion wearing a bow-tie. And that is the kind of ridiculousness I'm going for in life. So I paid $5, added a note about what I was looking for and in a few days I received the sample logos:

Dreamgdesigner's message explained "I used bold adventure fonts so its help in printing process," which I loved. You can't go wrong with bold adventure fonts. I love them all, though I'm quite partial to the last one. For obvious reasons. But I think we're going to go with the first or second one, whichever looks best with the color of our hoodies.

I was very pleased with my first Fivrr experience. It's only five dollars so you get to feel like a high roller. Plus I've never been part of an adventure team or had my own logo before. This will almost make my imminent death in Colorado worth it.

The only thing left to do is set a course for maximum awesomeness. And engage!

Lyric of the moment: "But you'll have to run to me tonight. Tonight I will love you forever. But I'll only ever be a middle distance runner..."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

2014 New Things #12: SUP Yoga

Because of Alison's awesomeness (and because I'm not one to let my utter lack of grace keep me from attempting things I have no business doing), I found myself trying SUP Yoga at BayCreek Paddling Center on Tuesday night. What's SUP? Just standing all up on this paddleboard. Then paddling it out to the secret wilderness "yoga studio." And doing some yoga on it.

Photo courtesy of our lovely instructor Lynne
It sounds scary, like one of those things that's reserved only for people with coordination and actual muscles. But even I could do it. And I'd never been on a paddleboard before, plus I'm sorely lacking in both balance and flexibility. Basically, if you are alive, you can do SUP yoga. And you should. It's a very unique experience.

It was a little tricky trying to keep my balance on the board, but I didn't feel like I was going to fall in at any point. And if it had been just a little bit warmer out, I wouldn't have minded a fall or two. Indoors, I find it very hard to discover my true self or be one with the universe or whatever it is you're supposed to do during yoga. But outside on the water it was very peaceful and relaxing. The only thing I didn't like was that my board smelled a bit swampy, so the facedown poses weren't my favorite. So it goes. Sometimes when you venture outside your comfort zone it gets a little stinky. But it's a small price to pay for new adventures.

I also really want to go regular SUPing now. Perhaps a SUP and supper night. I wish adventuring could be my full-time job and my actual job could be my part-time job.

So here's what's SUP, Doc: If you go to SUP Yoga, all you need to bring is a sense of humor, an open mind and bug spray. One of the other yogis was wearing these awesome polka-dotted yoga capris, and I would totally bring those too if I had them.

Lyric of the moment: "Here we go, going in alone into the dark and wonderful unknown. Let us go, let us go. In the best way, you’ll be the death of me..."

Monday, July 28, 2014

And you may ask yourself, how did I get here?

Last night I was sitting on the couch with my big-headed little dude, Mozzie, at the end of the highest mileage week of my thirties (49 miles, including 44 in the past 3 days), and I started to cry. Like big, heaving sobs. The kind where you don't even know why you're crying, you're just overwhelmed with feelings. (And then I went to bed at 8pm and was pretty much dead to the world until 6am). I can't even begin to fathom how I got here. How is it possible that I ran so many miles and felt so good both during and after? How am I lucky enough to know so many awesome people who were willing to forgo sleeping in to come run all over the damn place with us?

Now, to a normal person, having just run 75% of the distances we will cover at TransRockies and surviving relatively unscathed would be reassuring. As for me, I'm still nervous. Because it's easy to run when I feel good and I'm having a good time joking about Jen(n)s before mens and "Sun's out, boobs out" and Dr. Drake Amore and The Trails Of Our Lives. But it'll be a different story at high altitude when Pete is running up the mountain like it's nothing and I'm curled up in the fetal position, half hoping a bear will eat me and put me out of my misery (because as a result of a sudden and severe shortage of chocolate milk in Colorado, I have lost the will to live).

So I could do that thing where I imagine the worst and most ridiculous possible outcomes and get myself all worked up about it. Or I could realize that 2 years ago I suffered an injury that took what seemed like forever to heal, and it was agonizing and heartbreaking. And one of the best things that ever happened to me. It finally hit me, at mile 17 on Sunday, that were it not for that stupid injury making me wiser and stronger and infinitely more grateful, I wouldn't be here now, running through the woods with friends, hoping I get to spend the rest of my life doing this.

The truth is it doesn't matter if I struggle or if I'm slow or if I get altitude sickness. Whatever happens, it will be an epic experience, the first of what will hopefully be a lifetime of Pete and Jen's excellent adventures.

Lyric of the moment: "To touch something real will help your wounds heal. Like the sun on your face, the dreams of starry nights. And we are homeward bound. And I, I want this more than life..."

Friday, July 25, 2014

2014 New Things #11: Tequila

Sometimes you decide that running 44 miles in 3 days is a good idea (you know, to prepare for the 3-day, 58 mile insanity fest race you have coming up in a little over 2 weeks) and you think a good first step will be to eat a lot of fajitas the night before, so you go to Salena's restaurant and apparently it is National Tequila Day and you really don't want any tequila but you are a person who tries new things (even if those things are terrible) and anyway, you really, really don't want any bad juju that may occur as a result of not drinking tequila on National Tequila Day.

And that, my friends, is the story of how I tried a sip of Pete's tequila shot. It smelled like paint thinner mixed with a dinosaur's morning breath and tasted like the worst ever. I'm totally adding Why would anyone ever drink the awful nonsense that is tequila? to the list of things I don't understand.

But it was definitely an experience. And life is made of experiences. So there's that. Though I don't think I need any more tequila induced experiences in my life. I'm the kind of person who thinks getting up at 4:30am to run 16 miles on a Friday is a great idea, so clearly I don't need any help making bad decisions.

Lyric of the moment: "I'm gonna swing from the chandelier, from the chandelier. I'm gonna live like tomorrow doesn't exist..."

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Because it's good to have goals

At the end of this week, my parents are moving to Florida. It feels strange. And a little sad. I don't usually get attached to things, but I think I'm going to miss their house. Or more accurately, I'm going to miss having a place where I could just show up, anytime, unannounced, under any circumstances, whether it's sweaty and dirty from a run or crying over some stupid thing or some stupid boy, and find people who love me no matter what. There aren't many places in life you can come as you are and get love and snacks. But there should be. And I think, more than anything else, that's what I want my house to be: a place where everyone is always welcome to come as they are and get hugs and cookies (though if you want cookies, you may have to give me some advance notice so I don't eat them all myself. Cookies don't last very long around here). So further to that end, one of my summer goals is to fix up my backyard and have a patio installed. My parents gave me their fire pit and some wood, so once the landscapers are finished working their fancy landscaper magic on my yard, I want to have everyone over for fire and conversation and S'mores. And campfire euchre. Is that a thing? If not, I'm making it one.

For some reason I got it in my head recently that I wanted to complete a food challenge. (Who knows where thoughts come from?) But most of the ones I've seen so far involve meat and/or super spicy food, neither of which I eat. Still, I am determined to find one I can do. Ideally one that involves carbs/sugar. Admittedly, as far as goals go, this one is quite ridiculous. But what is the point of goals if they're not at least a little ridiculous?

Lyric of the moment: "We laugh until we think we'll die, barefoot on a summer night. Never could be sweeter than with you. And in the streets we're running free, like it's only you and me. Geez, you're something to see. Ahh, home. Let me come home. Home is wherever I'm with you..."

Sunday, July 20, 2014

2104 Race #10: TrailsRoc 0spf Trail Half Marathon

Thanks to Sheila for the pic
It's not every day that all your loves convene in one place at the same time. But that is what 0spf was for me. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The course was challenging in the way that makes you feel very accomplished at having finished it (and so well marked that even I didn't get lost). The Eagans, TrailsRoc-stars and  volunteers were amazing. And I got to run through the woods with so many of my most favorite people.

For some reason, I was very nervous leading up to this race. I don't know why but I had a premonition it wasn't going to go well. Luckily, I was very very wrong. I never know where to line up at the start because I don't want to get swept out too fast only to die later, but if I start too far back I feel like I waste a lot of energy trying to pass people on the single track. Pete and I started out in the back of the pack, which I think was good for me because it held me back in the first mile and gave me time to warm up. I don't remember much of the first part of the course up to Woodcliff. I was just running out my pre-race anxiety.

As I got closer to the turn-around point in the LDS church parking lot, I started to feel a little fatigued from the hills, but I told myself this is what I've been training for, to run on tired legs. At this point, I entered the section of two-way traffic and as I cheered for other runners as we passed each other on the trail, I started to feel better. It's always easier to keep going when you see a friendly face. Though at one point I was like Oh my god, where is this god-dammed church already? And then I got struck by lightning. Just kidding. Steve L told me we were almost there and then soon enough, we were. I didn't spend any time at the aid station, I just checked in, turned around and headed back out.

Photo by Michele Fanton
All of a sudden I was back at Woodcliff again and I remember thinking, wow that was fast. I ran with Liz for a bit and with Danielle for a bit. At one of the road crossings, I asked Oliver, who was volunteering, if he could get my sunglasses out of the back pocket in my vest. He gave me the sunglasses then said "Great job, keep going." and then "I almost slapped you on the ass, like a football player." I wish he would have. I could've used the push. Then I was back on the trail, where I became a drug dealer, offering salt tabs to a woman who said her calf was cramping. There were a few spots on the way back where I started to feel tired, but then I'd either eat or drink or see someone I knew and that would make me feel better.

The girl tree, photo by Todd
I knew I was going to make it when I got back to Hawaii Brian's water stop. He was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts and had luau music playing. It was the best. He gave me some delicious cold water and I felt so good that I suggested to Pete that we run the Power Lines hill. Not my best idea. We made it about halfway up and then it got steeper and we walked the rest. I heard a voice from the clouds calling our names and it turned out to be Gustavo on the power lines tower. After we got up the hill, it was just a nice little jog to the finish. And I accomplished both of my goals for the day: to prove to myself that I could do this race and to finish right where I wanted to be, next to Pete.

The rest of the day was spent climbing trees and eating and pool partying and laughing. So basically, I am living the dream.

Lyric of the moment: "I hear it call in the center of it all. You're the love of my life, the love of my life..."

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On imperturbability. And muffins.

I wish I had an imperturbable peace of mind, that I was impervious to negativity. But I don't and I'm not. Sometimes I let other peoples' bad moods bring me down, because it upsets me when other people are upset. So how do I react with empathy and compassion without letting the Negative Nancys and Debbie Downers harsh my zen? I haven't yet figured this out. But perhaps it is enough to ask the questions and let the answers find me in time.

What I do know is that there is awesomeness in everyone. So maybe for now it is enough to see the best in people and accept them as they are, on their most epic days and on their most human ones. To look for the signs and lucky coincidences and tiny little moments of happiness that make me feel so eternally grateful to be here. To realize that there is value in every experience, but if I don't like something I can change it. And if I can't change it, I can change myself.

Sometimes it seems like people are looking for reasons to be upset and I don't get it. Why not look for reasons to be deliriously happy instead? They are everywhere. Like in this muffin I'm eating whose main ingredient is zucchini but whose other ingredients are chocolate chips and some kind of magic. (Because you are what you eat. And I want to be chocolate and magic.)

So I don't yet have an imperturbable peace of mind, but I do have a mind that is really quite ridiculous and always an adventure.

Lyric of the moment: "To settle for and settle down never really crossed my mind. Oh I'll be living dangerously with you instead..." 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Things that are awesome

*Friends who will meet up at 6am on a Saturday to run extra miles and climb trees and clean up trails and make waking up before dawn totally worth it.

*Sunday morning, Pete wanted to run the Dam Good course at Letchworth and I, of course, said yes. Because when you're called to explore the infinite abyss,** you don't say no. It was dark and stormy and gorgeous, just us and the trails. And a nice family camping in a lean-to who cheered for us as we ran past.

*Monday night, Pete and I ran the loop from his house to Tryon and Lucien Morin parks, bringing my 3-day mileage total to 34. I know people who run 50 or 100 miles in one day, but for me 34 in 3 days is a milestone. I've never done 3 consecutive long runs before and it feels pretty good. Not good enough to assuage my fears that my legs are going to fall off during TransRockies, but it does make me feel very appreciative of all my running parts (and feel very lucky to know someone who wants to run 58 miles and sleep in a 7x7 tent with me).

*And I think I may have finally found my nemesis. I don't want to be better than anyone else, I only want to better myself. But it seemed like everyone else had a nemesis and I felt left out. So I have decided that Lucien Morin is my nemesis. Because running through his stupid park kills me and makes me feel like I'm in one of the 9 circles of hell. The one without ice cream.

*I successfully quit DirecTV (after an awkward 10 minute conversation where they tried to offer me a bunch of discounts and I said I just don't want it anymore and they kept asking what they did wrong and I felt like I should say something like "It's not you, it's me"). And, more impressively (to no one except me), I programmed my inherited universal remote to control my DVD/Netflix player. Yay for only paying $8 a month for TV instead of $80. Especially since lately the only things I'm home long enough to watch are the insides of my eyelids.

*My dryer is broken and the repair would cost $360. Which in and of itself does not seem particularly awesome, but I'm going to use it as an opportunity to go all Shmeagan on that shit and see how long I can live without a dryer.

**I usually don't like watching movies more than once. Except for Garden State. I fall in love with it all over again when Zach Braff says "I don't want to waste any more of my life without you in it." Because that's how I feel about everyone.

Lyric of the moment: "I just wanna, I just wanna know, if you're gonna, if you're gonna stay. I just gotta, I just gotta know. I can't have it, I can't have it any other way..."

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Rain or shine

Yesterday after work, we were watching the rain outside Pete's kitchen window, trying to decide if we wanted to go to the Tuesday trail trots. It was full-on pouring and windy and a tad thunderous. Alison suggested we could cross-train in her hot tub instead. I was up for either option. There is awesomeness to be found in the rain and there is certainly awesomeness to be found in hot tubbing. In the end, we all decided to go to the run. And it was beautiful. The rain cleared up, the puddle-filled trails offered a welcome respite from the humidity and the creek was gushing with rapids. It was pretty fantastic. I felt like there should definitely have been some crocodiles swimming around and some Indiana Jones theme music playing in the background.

Yet another example of how, if I relinquish my expectations of what I want to happen and embrace and enjoy what is happening, life can be quite magical. I have to keep reminding myself of this because it's really freaking hard to have no expectations. I'm trying to be in the moment and all that Zen business. But it's a lot easier to be all up in the goodness of the moment when that moment is raining men rather than raining cats and dogs.

I think sometimes I'm searching for reassurances, for signs that everything will be ok, that I will in fact arrive in Awesometown someday. But I know there are no guarantees in life, except that one day it will end. So I guess all I can do is try to experience as much of it as I can, rain or shine. And sometimes, as I'm dodging and weaving and puddle-jumping my way along, it hits me that maybe I was living in Awesometown all along.

Lyric of the moment: "In these bodies we will live, in these bodies we will die. And where you invest your love, you invest your life..."

Monday, July 7, 2014

Inevitable freakout

I spent all day Saturday spectating and eating ice cream which, don't get me wrong, are two of the best things you can do with a Saturday. I love watching other people run almost as much as I love to run. But it was a rest day for me and I'm no good at rest. I know rest days are an important part of training and I'm trying to embrace them, I just haven't figured out what to do with all the wild energy that builds up inside me. And watching all the talented runners, many of whom I'm lucky enough to call friends, made me think I am not even close to being in the same league. What they're doing, that is running. I don't know what I've been doing, but it's more like endurance stumbling or foot wrestling with gravity.

Sunday morning I woke up restless and under a cloud of angst. I knew I needed a solo run to work it all out. I love running with other people. People are the best part of life. But sometimes I need some solo miles to reconnect with myself and to let go of the negative thoughts that are holding me back.

So I took myself on a solo adventure to Seneca Park. I ran 12 miles through the park to the pier, up the long hill on the Genesee River Trail and back to the park. I ran out all my restlessness. I let go of all my doubts and worries (well, most of them anyway. I don't think they will ever go away completely, but I am choosing to focus my attention elsewhere.) I thought about all the past versions of me that have run these trails, about how much I've grown and how far I've come. I smiled when I saw a woman walking the most adorable Shar Pei (and I thought about all the humans getting Botox and plastic surgery to get rid of their wrinkles while this dog is totally owning those wrinkles and just being who he is. I hope I have the same attitude when I get old and wrinkly.)

And I turned the What Ifs into So Whats.

What if I'm not training hard enough? What if I can't rise to the level of awesomeness required for upcoming adventures? What if I totally, epically fail at 0spf, at TransRockies, at the best relationship I've ever been in?

So what?

I can't control what life throws at me or what anyone else does or feels. All I can do is keep running, keep loving, keep being happy and having an awesome time. So I will embrace the challenges and let them teach me. I will do the best I can. I will turn worry into gratitude (after all, the only way to have nothing to lose is to have nothing. And who wants that?) And when I feel like giving up, I will give more. Because obstacles are just opportunities for optimal awesomeness and failures are just opportunities to find a better way forward. I have two legs and one heart and I want to get as much use out of them as I can.

Lyric of the moment: "You might put your love and trust on the line. It's risky, people love to tear that down. Let 'em try. Do it anyway. Risk it anyway. And if you're paralyzed by a voice in your head, it's the standing still that should be scaring you instead. Go on and do it anyway. Do it anyway..."

Sunday, July 6, 2014

2014 Race #9: Irondequoit 4th of July 10K

Photo by this hot guy I know
At the starting line of this race, I was kicking myself for running hard at the MedVed Thursday night trail run (Oh and did I mention the stinging nettles we ran through at Powder Mills Park? Pardon my French, but Merde!). During the run, I'd been telling myself to reign it in, hold back, save something for my 10K the next day. But my body had other ideas. I ran hard and it felt good. But I was sure I was going to pay for it during the race. Lucky for me, that didn't happen. I got to run with Jude and Rob for a bit and then Pete and Sonia biked alongside me for part of the second half. I'm not entirely sure what got into me during this race, but I hope it sticks around. I ran the fastest I've run in a long time and felt strong the whole way. I remember this as being a tough, hilly course, but thanks to all the trail runs, Fit1 and Alison's kale, I barely even noticed the hills. My 5K time in this race was faster than the 5K for ALS I ran a few weeks ago. I was just cruising. I mean, I was definitely working hard. But it felt amazing. I just had the feeling like this is what I'm here for, this is what I'm meant to do. And the only other time I ever feel that way is inside of a hug.

I've had enough bad runs to appreciate the hell out of the ones that go well. Some days everything goes wrong and I just have to gut it out and keep going. Some days the stars align and everything goes well and I'm just flying. And I have to wonder if it's the bad days that pave the way for the good ones.

I can't think of a better way to spend a holiday weekend than running trails and playing euchre and eating pizza and staying up late and getting up early to run again. And then getting up before dawn to go spectate at the Finger Lakes 25K. (Two N Jenn and I drove around the course, picking up a hitchhiker and cheering for Danielle, Bob, Alison and Pete, who all had great races! One of the other runners was like "You guys are everywhere. " That's right. The Jen(n)s are taking over!) And then eating Moosewood and ice cream and going to Flat Rocks. And on and on and on. For as many days as I get to be alive.

Lyric of the moment: "When there's nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire..."

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Building a rocket ship to Awesometown

I feel bad for being happy and enjoying life while others are struggling. I feel bad that someone I don't know read something I wrote about my adventures and was upset by it. I don't always understand people and why they react the way they do, but it breaks my heart to see them in pain. I just want to give them hugs and chocolate chip cookie-ice cream sandwiches and tell them that everything will be ok. That sometimes things fall apart but you can use the pieces to build a rocket ship to Awesometown. That life is beautiful and love is everywhere and aching sadness clears the way for immeasurable joy. 

All those things are true, but you have to choose to believe in them.

I want this to be a place of light and laughter and ridiculous shenanigans. I don't want it to be a cause of distress. But I can't control how other people react. I can only control how I react. And I only want to react with open arms and open heart. My door is always open. Come however you are. Lay down your burdens. Get it out and let it go. Let's put on some records and tell some stories and eat those ice cream sandwiches.

Lyric of the moment: "Say whatever you have to say, I'll stand by you. And do whatever you have to do, to get it out. And not become a reaction, no need to hurt the ones you love...And be whoever you have to be, I won't judge you...And take whatever you have to take, you know I love you. And come however you have to come, and get it out, and get it out..."

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Brief instances of intense bravery

The thing no one tells you about awesomeness is that it's scary as hell. There's a certain amount of fear involved in peering over the precipice of seriously amazing things. So the path to awesomeness lies not in never being afraid, but in embracing the uncertainty, jumping off the cliff, going all in despite your fears. You don't have to be fearless. All you really need are brief instances of intense bravery.

Like that time I finally came to my senses and wore the cute bikini to a friend's pool party. The one I bought a few years ago but never wore because of all my fears about not being in-shape enough or tan enough to wear it. And if anyone thought I looked particularly obese and/or horrifying, they were at least polite enough to keep their opinions to themselves. Though I was too busy having a great time to care what anyone else thought anyway. The only six pack I have is a six pack of cookies. And my skin is always going to be so light that every imperfection is readily apparent in exquisite detail. But it doesn't matter. I don't need ridiculously defined muscles to wear a bikini. All I need are guts. I only get one body and it is capable of amazing things. I don't want to feel bad about it, I just want to enjoy being alive in it. And like, whatever. I pee in the woods now and I'm rapidly approaching mediocrity in snot rocketing, so I have no shame anymore. And if I have enough guts to go out in public wearing what basically amounts to about two napkins' worth of fabric, I have to assume I can do pretty much anything.

Which is encouraging, since I'm on the verge of some terrifyingly exciting things. And I'm totally jumping in headfirst, so I can use all the guts I can get. I've come to realize that fear is a good indication that I'm in the right place. I mean, think about it. You never feel afraid when you're sitting at home watching TV and eating popcorn. You feel afraid when you're at the starting line of an epic race or when you meet the love of your life or when Gustavo says "Push-up position." The trick is to let the fear guide you and then let it go. Don't think about all the bad things that could happen if you jump off that cliff. Think of all the awesome things you'll miss if you don't.

Lyric of the moment: "But there will come a time, you'll see, with no more tears. And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears..."