Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A thousand times yes

Whenever I start to freak out about something (I mean, not like that ever happens or anything. Totally cool as a cucumber over here. Cooler than cool. Ice cold. Riiiight), I ask myself "Even if I knew that this would end badly for me, would I still attempt it? And the answer is always yes. A thousand times yes. Because whatever happens, it can't be that bad. Out of everything I do in life, only one of them will be the thing that kills me. I like those odds. And I'm a going all in with all my heart and effort regardless of the outcome kind of person. I don't half-ass things. I am a whole ass or I am nothing!

It is far, far better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. It is far, far better to try and fail than to be sitting at home eating Cheetos, never having tried at all. And sure, Cheetos are good and all. But you just end up licking sticky orange chemicals off your fingers. And my friends, there is a great big world out there with so many better things to lick. And if it doesn't work out the way you hoped, so what? Do it for the story, the adventure, the love of being alive. Get some consolation cookies, cry about it if you want, but then laugh about it and get back out there and do some more crazy shit. This is your life. Make it awesome.

Lyric of the moment: "Wherever you are, know that I adore you. No matter how far, I can go before you. And if ever you need someone. Well, not that you need helping. But if ever you want someone,  know that I am willing..."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Whose idea was this anyway?

I don't know what kind of lunatic has been making the decisions around here, but things have gotten out of hand very quickly. So now I am staring down the barrel of my first 50K. Whose idea was this anyway? Every time I've run the race loop, I've seriously thought there is no way I can do this 5 times in a row. Taper is supposed to make you feel rested and ready, but right now all I feel is tired and beat up. And my hips are being weird. (I know the hips don't lie. I just wish I could figure out what they're trying to tell me.) But I suppose I might as well embrace it. I have been running the crap out of this year. So in 5 days I'm about to feel the most tired and beat up I have ever felt in my life. And even if the weather is stupid awful and everything hurts and I want to stop, I have to find a way to keep going. Because that is the point of all this.

I am trying to be chill. I am trying not to have expectations. But truth be told, I am freaking out hard core. I am afraid of failing at this. Even though I know to do so wouldn't change my life in any significant way. There are always other races, other chances. And there are far more important things at which I am far more afraid of failing.

I do not feel ready, but I do feel willing. And hopefully that is enough.

When I get to the starting line, I hope I remember what a joy it has been to get there, all the hours spent running through the woods and hanging out afterwards, talking and laughing. All the ups and downs, celebrations and stumbles, the trails of our lives. When I get to the rough spots, because oh man there are going to be rough spots, I hope I remember to embrace the experience, appreciate the company I get along the way and trust that there will be more awesomeness (but hopefully not horse shit) around every corner.

Lyric of the moment: "I'm hungry, I'm dirty, I'm losing my mind. Everything's fine! I'm freezing, I'm starving, I'm bleeding to death. Everything's fine! I miss you. I love you..." (I'm pretty sure this is what it will feel like to run an ultra.)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Things dangerous to come to

Last night, Mom, Mozzie and I watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Well, Mozzie mostly just stared longingly at the bag of popcorn. The storyline was mediocre. But there were adventures and a good soundtrack and that's all I really need from a movie. And, even though they mentioned it ad nauseum, there was this quote:

"To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life."

Which is the truest thing I've ever heard.

I am 33 years old today. I feel simultaneously as if I have all the time in the world and no time at all left, as if I've had so many amazing adventures but the best adventures are yet to come. And that those best adventures are going to be the most dangerous, the ones at which I'm most afraid of failing.

I know that in the grand scheme of life, the universe and all things, I am very, very tiny. Inconsequential. Impermanent. Still, I hope that my time here, however long it is, leaves some net positive impact on someone or something. I still have a lot of work to do in that regard. I have rescued one abandoned puppy and made him feel at least safe enough that he no longer needs Doggy Prozac. But I killed three bugs in my house this year and inadvertently unleashed a canine hit-man on a fourth, so in the insect world I am a serial killer. Though I have fed what feels like 1,000 mosquitoes this year alone. So maybe I'm a benevolent serial killer? Like Dexter? I try not to kill things but sometimes it's really hard. Like last night, I ordered a veggie burger at Gate House but they mistakenly brought me a turkey burger, so I had to send it back and I don't know what became of it after that.

If you're reading this, I promise not to kill you. But seriously, infinity of thanks and hugs for being part of my 33 years of life and ridiculousness. You are the center of the cookie, which everyone knows is the very best part. Let's have 6.02 x 10^23 more adventures!

Lyric of the moment: "And I almost didn't find you. And I almost lived without you. There is nothing in this world I'd rather do than live with you...If you ever fear someday we might lose this, come back here. To this moment that will last. And time can go so fast. When everything's exactly where it's at, its very best..."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dollars and nonsense

I was at Parkleigh buying a birthday card for a friend and I asked the cashier if they sold stamps. He said "No we don't sell stamps here...But today is free stamp day! So you get a free stamp with the purchase of any greeting card." And that right there is the overarching story of my life. What seem to be disappointments are really opportunities for something even better than what I was originally seeking. It happens all the time. Not always quite so instantaneously, but it happens. I know this and yet sometimes I still get stuck in the wants, the disappointments, the losses. Then I go in search of a stamp and I'm told no, you can't buy that here. Because it's free. And just like that Life has handed me both the tangible thing I'm seeking and the intangible lesson that I really need. Intellectually, I know I am surrounded by abundance. I have everything I need. Everything will be ok. Better than ok. Everything will be most excellent. I know it but I don't always feel it. Sometimes it is hard to reconcile emotion and logic. It is hard to shake the feeling that I am totally inept at everything and it's only a matter of time before it all comes crashing down.

I want to live in appreciation of the abundance, not in fear of scarcity. I want to enjoy where I am instead of worrying about how it could go wrong. I want to get the most out of my life now (while still setting myself up for a kick-ass future/early retirement/maximum impending awesomeness). Recently it's been occurring to me that the best way to do that might be by letting go of all my security blankets that I think are protecting me but are maybe suffocating me instead. The biggest of which was my savings account. I kept way more money than I needed in there because it made me feel like I had options, like whatever happened I would be fine. But it was earning a stupidly negligible 0.05%  interest, and I needed to release my little cash moneys out into the world so they could grow and make more cash money friends. So I transferred about 60% of the money to my non-retirement investment accounts, transferred about 30% to an online savings account with Ally Bank that pays 0.90% interest and I kept 10% of it in regular savings for future house projects or adventures or whatever happens next.

I also signed up for so I can keep track of all my accounts in once place. It's convenient but it's a little depressing to be faced so blatantly with the calculation of my net worth. I think it is measuring all the wrong things. I don't want my net worth to be in dollars, I want it to be like 250 tiny unicorns and 3500 blueberry oatmeal cookies and 11,000 hugs and a million adventures and one American Bulldog and all the people.

Lyric of the moment: "This is how it works. You peer inside yourself. You take the things you like. And try to love the things you took. And then you take that love you made. And stick it into some, someone else's heart, pumping someone else's blood. And walking arm in arm, you hope it don't get harmed. But even if it does you'll just do it all again..."

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Before and After

My backyard renovation is finally finished! It was such a mess that I don't have any before pictures, but it looked a lot like this:

It was basically a weed jungle (In my naiveté, I did not realize that doing a Google image search for 'weed jungle' would yield a bunch of pictures of pot farms.) I never went back there because it was pretty awful and un-hang-out-able. I wanted a low maintenance, chill space that people would actually want to inhabit.

Thanks to Zaretsky & Associates, it now it looks like this:

Usually I want things to stay looking new, as if no one has ever used them. But I'm kind of looking forward to seeing how this space grows out (hopefully not into a crazy jungle, though I wouldn't mind if some monkeys stopped by). I like my house to be clutter-free and just shy of obsessively ordered. I don't like having "stuff" around, unless is it very functional or something I absolutely loveLoveLOVE. But I also think it's good to invite in a little chaos, a little life. It keeps things interesting. Fortunately, Mozzie is very good at bringing in the chaos. There is already an indent on the back of my couch from where he climbs on it to look out the window. At first I was a little bummed about that. I mean the couch is only a few months old and it already looks used. But I'm starting to appreciate the lived-in look. After all, I have the only couch in the world with a Mozzie shaped indent. When I look at it that way, all I can do is laugh. And I suppose that's how life goes: the more you use it, the better it gets.

Lyric of the moment: "This is how it works. You're young until you're not. You love until you don't. You try until you can't. You laugh until you cry. You cry until you laugh. And everyone must breathe until their dying breath..."

Monday, October 13, 2014

How to be lost

Saturday was my first time attempting to run the Mendon 10K loop by myself. It was, how can I put this epic fail. I have spent hours running those loops, albeit always with friends, and I thought I had at least some idea of where I was going. But on Saturday I couldn't get it right. I don't even know what I was doing wrong, but somehow no matter which way I went, I kept ending up back at the fence where I started. It was like I was stuck in some repeating loop on the blue trail and couldn't escape from it. I was still cranking out miles, but I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to get up to the water tower and over to the Pond Rd side of the loop. After about my fifth time ending up back at the fence, feeling like I was in some kind of virtual reality loop, I started laughing. I mean, I have a notoriously bad sense of direction but this was ridiculous even for me. Seriously, how was this even possible?  Was it a dream? A glitch in The Matrix? Wait, did I take the red pill or the blue pill? I figured maybe this was my brain's way of telling me it needed a break from the loops, so I ran over to the beach parking lot and hit up the trails by the boat launch and Devil's Bathtub. When I got back to my car in the Pond Rd parking lot, my watch said 17 miles and I decided that was enough for the day. It was not the run I had intended, but I got to run a few early miles with Stacey, then enjoy almost 3 hours in the woods by myself on a beautifully crisp fall day, so no complaints.

Last Saturday, while loopin' for Sheila's birthday run, I had my first trail fall of the year on this course. It wasn't even on a downhill or a particularly technical part of the trail. I was chatting away, tripped on something (possibly one of my own feet) and fell face forward. It happened so fast I didn't even have that moment of panic where you know you're going to fall but there's nothing you can do about it. But somehow I did turn myself around midair so that I landed on my butt and hands and then got right back up again, a little dirtier but otherwise completely unscathed. At first I was a little bummed because I wanted to make it through the whole year without falling. But then I decided that a better goal would be to get really good at trail falling so when it inevitably happens, I can remain uninjured and keep on going. I'm hoping I've gotten all the no-good-falling-down-getting-lost juju out during these training runs so that it will be smooth sailing on race day. But I don't want to think about it too much or worry about it. Whatever will be, will be. And I'll figure it out when I get there.

Sometimes I still find myself seeking reassurances, direction, security. But if it were possible to find them, I don't think that's what I really want at all. Sure, those things are nice and comfortable, but they are also static. And I am a wanderer, an explorer, a person of motion. I need a certain amount of discomfort in order to keep growing, I need a certain amount of uncertainty in order to keep believing that anything can happen. I need to keep getting lost and falling, because that's the only way to get to the places I want to go, places that I don't even know exist yet. 

Lyric of the moment: "Settle down, it'll all be clear. Don't pay no mind to the demons, they fill you with fear. The trouble, it might drag you down. But if you get lost, you can always be found..."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The one with all the seamen

Last night Petty Officer First Class Lacey took me to the Navy Ball, a celebration of the 239th birthday of America's Seamen. But in my opinion, the Navy doesn't look a day over 230. The ball was like a cross between a prom and a wedding. It was in a Marriott ballroom, everyone was dressed up and there was a cocktail hour, a bunch of speeches, dinner and dancing. Of course the true measure of any party is the cake, and in that regard the Navy did not disappoint. Though if I had been in charge, I would have made sure there were submarine shaped sugar cookies too. And I have never been a DJ, so maybe I have no right to complain but lets just say this one left a lot to be desired. He played a lot of nonsense like that song where a guy just yells Shots! Shots! Shots! over and over. I don't know, maybe you have to ingest a lot of shots before you understand that one. But it was a fun night of dancing and laughing and I am happy to have had the chance to experience it.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about 'Merica and the military. I wish arms were only for hugging and we could all be lovers instead of fighters. But I realize that the real world is not the Willy Wonka's chocolate factory I want it to be. And I have the utmost respect for all the men and women who serve our imperfect but ultimately perfectly loveable country.

Lyric of the moment: "What do you do with a drunken sailor? What do you do with a drunken sailor? What do you do with a drunken sailor, early in the morning?" (I remember learning this song in middle school music class, which looking back seems a little inappropriate. But maybe it was because that Shots! song hadn't come out yet. Or they were just preparing us for future careers in the Navy.)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

2014 New Things #16: MedVed Harrier Games

Last night I got to participate in my first Harrier Games at MedVed as part of team TuTu Hot To Handle with Alison, Jude, Mark and Todd.

According to Mr. Dictionary, a harrier is:
a) A hawk of the genus Circus
b) A hound used for hunting hares
c) A person who engages in persistent attacks on others
d) A fighter aircraft that can take off and land vertically
e) A cross country runner 

The things we'll do for free socks!
This particular Harrier Games was a running scavenger hunt. But there is another one coming up in December so maybe that's where all the circus hawks, hare hunting, aircrafting and attacking will take place. That would be an interesting night for sure!

We had 75 minutes to complete challenges and take pictures at the locations selected by Mort. Our team ran a total of 7.5 miles around Pittsford, Nazareth College and the canal path, wearing tutus and having a blast. We were late getting back to MedVed so we lost points for that, but we did win free socks for being the only team who made it out to the mailbox at Route 96/Country Club to mail a letter to Mort. In hindsight a better Harrier Games strategy would have been to hit up the 3 mandatory checkpoints, then run to Wegmans and rack up points shaking hands with everyone in the store and eating a donut. But in terms of life strategy, mailing nice letters to people is a pretty good one. 

A hawk, a hound and a cross country runner walk into a bar...
It was a fun event and I'd definitely do another one. Any night that involves running, friends, ridiculous costumes and pictures, pizza, cider and cookies is my kind of night. And I'd do way more speed workouts if they were in treasure hunt form. Special thanks to Todd for being our photographer and for taking one for the team by fighting off a wayward branch on the canal, and to Jenn for letting me borrow one of her tutus. I think I'll get one of my own, as I'm pretty sure that a tutu is the answer to all my problems.

Lyric of the moment: "I'm Henry the eighth, I am. Henry the eighth, I am, I am..." (If you saw some tutu-riffic runners singing this song on the corner in Pittsford last night, that was us!)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

You gotta have faith

Last night we were running through the switchbacks of Dryer Rd Park. I had gone out with the fast group. I don't know why. I'm not fast. It must have been the coffee/hot chocolate-Dayquil-ColdEeze cocktail rushing through my bloodstream. Or maybe I just like chasing dudes through the woods. We were running up and down and around and around. The haze of headlamps at dusk and the leaves obscuring the trail made a rather precarious path. I kept thinking that every step could be my downfall. But it was a beautiful night, one of the guys started singing The Who's Pinball Wizard as we headed down the Pinball trail, and I loved every minute of it. Pete said "It takes a lot of faith to run through these leaves." And I thought, I hope I can muster enough faith to run through life like this.

Then he said to me, "You are an incredible athlete." Or something like that. It was a very nice compliment so of course it went in one ear and out the other and I said "No I'm not." He asked why I thought that and I said "All I do is run, and not very fast or very far." I wish that I had just said "Thank you." But I don't consider myself an athlete. I know people who eat 100 mile races and Ironmans for breakfast. They are the athletes. I'm just a person who runs because I can't not run. I'm a middle of the pack runner at best, and I'm happy simply to be out there, running for hours and having all the conversations. Still, it occurs to me that I'm exceedingly lucky to be surrounded by people who see the best in me and I probably shouldn't be contradicting them all the time.

I think I just had a bad taste in my brain left over from the previous night's dressing room debacle. I went to the mall, which in retrospect was probably my first mistake. I mean, does any great adventure ever take place at a mall? Well, there was that mall scene in John Dies At The End. Maybe I'm just shopping at the wrong mall. Anyways, I went to the mall hoping to find a new dress to wear to Pete's Navy Ball on Saturday night. I don't know why I still think there is going to be this one dress that I put on and suddenly become the person I always wanted to be. It's ridiculous. But the myth of "the one" dress persists. I didn't even really like any of the dresses, but thought maybe they would look better on. Nope, not even close. I don't know what it is about the lights in fitting rooms, but they are like laser beams pointing out every flaw and laughing at them. And I don't get it. After running 24 miles on Saturday, I was feeling so good about myself and so thankful for my strong legs and then I stepped into a fitting room and I couldn't even look at my legs without feeling ashamed that they are not perfect, whatever that means. And it's just bullshit. I started to feel bad and then I thought, Shut that shit down. You get to choose how you feel. Don't choose this. Those dresses are ill-fitting and have weird necklines and you don't even like them. And yes, you have a mosquito bite on your neck. So what? How ridiculous and awesome is that? Who else does that happen to? Maybe that's going to be the next hot accessory. Ok, probably not. But whatever. Those bites and bruises and wobbly bits are the marks of a life well lived, a body used up to its full potential. You have nothing to be but grateful for and proud of that.

I went home, ordered a dress online and figured if it doesn't fit or I don't like it, I'll return it and wear one of the dresses in my closet. Sometimes it annoys me that I still get tripped up by moments of self-consciousness and body image issues, but at least I'm getting much better at talking myself out of them. I'm getting better at embracing the imperfections and the uncertainties too, at not knowing where my next step will take me but trusting that it will be awesome. Like the man said, it takes a lot of faith. Hopefully I get to chase him through the woods for the rest of my life.

Lyric of the moment: "In the place where I make no mistakes. In the place where I have what it takes..." (I don't know where this place is, but I'm pretty sure it's not a fitting room.)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Liebster. Not to be confused with a lying lobster.

After being tagged in Sheila's Liebster Award post, of course I was curious about what exactly is a Liebster. I thought maybe it was some kind of deceitful lobster. But according to Mr. Internet, it's a German word meaning dearest, darling or beloved. Which is much better if you ask me. It sounded like a chain letter for blogs, only without the idle threat of some disaster befalling you if you don't pass it on. Still, I'm not about to risk some bad luck juju. So here goes...

1. Favorite place you’ve ever visited? This is an impossible question. Can I say Earth? Oh, more specific, huh? Earth 2014? Still no? I guess I will have to say Egypt. Because it was totally different from anywhere I'd ever been before and it was my first trip as a solo traveler.

2. Favorite sport? Running. Also, ice cream eating when that becomes a sport. I feel it's only a matter of time.

3. Least favorite food? Mushrooms. Also known as the bane of my existence and the worst ever. It's fungus, guys. Enough said.

4. Pick a favorite picture from the last year…upload it and tell why you love it so much! It's hard to pick just one. But it has to be this one of PEN at the finish of TransRockies RUN3. Because a few years ago I wrote that I wanted to cross the finish line of an epic race holding someone's hand. And this was the year it came true. Race after race. I went into the Mess The Dress race heartbroken and ended up crossing the finish line grinning from ear to ear, holding hands with this guy in a dress. I went into the Flower City Half Marathon excited to pace that guy to a PR and halfway through he asked me to be his girlfriend. I went into the 0spf Half Marathon thinking that if by some chance I managed to finish this race I would finally be a real trail runner, and after running/laughing with Danielle and Liz and finishing hand in hand with Pete, I realized that it matters not where I'm going or how fast, it only matters who I'm with. Then I got to run 58 miles of breathtaking trails in the Rocky Mountains with Pete and it was my most epic adventure to date. I can only hope this trend continues. Except for the losing my runderwear in Colorado part. I went there with 3 pairs of my favorite running undies and only came back with 2. But that, my friends, is the risk of adventure: sometimes you lose your underwear.

5. What is your favorite place to be in your house? My favorites are also the comfiest places: in my bed or on my couch. As they say, happy butt, happy life. I'm 60% sure that is totally how the saying goes.

6. What is one of your pet peeves? Drama. Unless it is on TV where it belongs (see #9).

7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller, I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her. Oh wait, that's Skee-Lo, not me. In all seriousness, I would like to be more patient and understanding and less judgmental.

8. What is one thing you would never want to change about yourself? My sense of humor. Life would be almost insufferable without it.

9. Any guilty pleasures? Really, really bad TV. Like anything on Bravo. Though I don't have TV anymore and I have to say I don't miss it.

10. What is your favorite childhood memory? I got to spend my 8th birthday at Disney World and that was pretty awesome. But in general, I got to do a lot of exploring and reading and climbing as a kid and I think that made all the difference.

And now apparently I'm supposed to make up some questions and tag some other people. But I can't choose and I don't know if anyone else wants to do this anyways. So I will cheat and tag the universe and let it tag whoever feels like continuing these shenanigans.

1. What do you love to do?
2. In what moments were/are you happiest?
3. On what do you choose to spend your money and on what do you choose to save it?
4. Favorite flavor of ice cream?
5. What's the best joke you've ever heard?
6. Favorite song lyric?
7. How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie pop?
8. Who/what is your nemesis?
9. Doctor Who?
10. What is the recipe for awesome sauce?

Lyric of the moment: "And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walk the miles..."

Friday, October 3, 2014

For those about to rock, we salute you

To those of you on the precipice of seriously awesome things:

I've just gotta say hugs and high fives and cheers to you, my loves! You are beautifully, bodaciously beast. You are an inspiration to us all. You've worked so hard to get here, so go out and enjoy all the delicious fruits of your labors, be they epic races or new milestones or happy life changes. I wish that I could promise it's all easy from here on out, but the truth is there will likely be more challenges ahead. No matter. You are strong and tough and so, so capable of overcoming any obstacle. You've got this. And that nervous fluttering, that discomfort, that tenderness/soreness/pain you may feel, no worries. That's just even more awesomeness building up inside of you. Keep going. Onward and upward. You're the bee's knees and the cat's pajamas and all the other ways of saying you are, hands down, amazing. I can't wait to hear about all your fantastic feats and excellent adventures.

From Robot, With Love. Always.

Lyric of the moment: "Just breathe. Just believe..."

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hills and happiness, hand in hand

I woke up at 5am. It was still middle-of-the-night dark out and I was tempted to roll over and go back to sleep. But who can sleep when there are hills to run and adventures to be had? So I ran to Cobb's Hill, thinking maybe I would get in two or three quick loops up the gravel hill and back down the road before work. Then I ran the loop five times and thought, if I can just do one more, it will be the most times I've ever run this hill consecutively. On my sixth time up, I passed three dudes walking down the hill and one of them said to me "Only 7 more to go!" It seemed like a sign, a call to awesomeness. I knew then that I was going to have to do another one. And I did. On my way back downhill, I ran past those dudes again and one of them said "Every time you run by us we're either walking or resting." I smiled and kept on running. When I got home, 6 miles and 7 hill repeats under my legs before dawn, still smiling from the group run/elephant sighting/campfire/taco adventures the night before, it occurred to me that this is far and away the happiest I've ever felt in my own skin and in my own life. So I took a moment to enjoy this new-found peace of mind. Because that shit was hard won. And yeah, I still have doubts, fears, insecurities. I am more than a little nervous about the Mendon 50K, about the direction of my life in general. I honestly don't know if I have the ability to run 31 miles or be all the things I want to be. And yet, part of me thinks well you will have just turned 33 and if you run the race and then add on a 2 mile cool down you can run 33 miles on your new 33 year old legs. It's official. I am insane. But it's those moments of shrugging off doubt and embracing awesomeness that remind me how amazing it is to be alive and how lucky I am to have a body and soul that are built for running and hugging and having all the adventures.

Lyric of the moment: "For all the things my hands have held, the best by far is you..."