Thursday, July 30, 2015

How to know if you've found "The One"

Sometimes articles with titles like "How to know if you've found The One" pop up in my newsfeed. Sometimes I read them out of curiosity. But they never say what I wish they said, which is this:

How to know if you've found The One:

First of all, what does this even mean? There are billions of people on this planet. Chances are there is more than one person with whom you could happily build a life. So relax. Second of all, stop reading this article. You already know the answer to your question. You know if you're in a relationship that feels right or if you're in one that doesn't. It is glaringly obvious. Maybe you don't want to accept it or maybe you are reluctant to face the exciting/scary/hard decisions in front of you, but you definitely know. And if GI Joe taught us anything, it's that "Knowing is half the battle." The other half is doing, which is decidedly harder. But hey, you're at least halfway there. You've got this. Lastly, there is one surefire way to find someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. And that is to be that person yourself. The one person who is guaranteed to always be there with you is you. So if you want to spend your life with someone who is happy and healthy and adventurous and kind and funny, work on being those things yourself. By all means, find your people. Meaningful relationships are the best part of life. But forget all that nonsense about finding someone to "complete you." You're already complete awesomeness.

Lyric of the moment: "Nothing lasts forever. Some things aren't meant to be. But you'll never find the answer until you set your old heart free..." ~The Oh Hellos "Hello My Old Heart"

Monday, July 27, 2015

Big, life-changing things

I don't understand why wedding talk is so focused on the minutia of decorations and painstakingly precious party favors. I really don't understand the ubiquity of mason jars. I don't want to talk about those things. I want to talk about how marriage will be the biggest, most life changing thing I've ever done. And how I wish the feelings would act like we're in a Bruce Lee movie and come at me one at a time instead of ganging up on me all at once. And most importantly, I want someone to tell me how to do this marriage thing right. How do two people stay happily married for decades, how do they grow together instead of apart, how do they build a life together while maintaining their own individual awesomeness? Am I the only one who feels totally unprepared and more than a little nervous about all of this?

I don't know anything about anything. My previous relationships failed, and I know it was my fault. They were doomed to be temporary from the start. What's worse, I think maybe that's what attracted me to them in the first place. There was never any real risk on my part. I always had my own house, my 'travel moneys' savings account, my escape plan. But this relationship is different. I think it has a very good chance of going the distance. I'm leaving my house and my escape plans behind. Because they are the past and I don't need them anymore.

For the first time I am taking a true leap of faith and really entwining my life with someone else's. It is exciting but also a little anxiety inducing. I think maybe I'm the kind of person who will always be running, asking too many questions, wanting all the adventure, people, life. This past week, I swam and biked on Monday, did hill repeats on Tuesday, ran trails Wednesday, went to Fit1 on Thursday (it seems like a bad idea when your alarm clock goes off at 4:20am and you know your muscles are going to hurt afterwards, but bunny hopping by a waterfall at sunrise is indescribably magical), did a shakeout run on Friday, went Stand-Up Paddle-boarding on Saturday and ran 17 miles on the Crescent trail on Sunday. And in the middle of that run, even when the humidity was enveloping us and the flies were chasing us, I was just loving it. All I could think was this is it, this is the way I want to spend all of my days. But how do you love someone like that for years and years? I can see how it could be exhausting.

I don't have any answers. If you do, I'd love to hear your advice. But I'm hoping that if I go into marriage with love, honesty, effort, humility and a sense of humor, it will be one hell of an epic adventure.

Lyric of the moment: "There is a design. An alignment to cry. Of my heart to see. The beauty of love as it was made to be. Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you. It will set you free..." ~Mumford and Sons "Sigh No More"

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The thing I have to do that I really, really don't want to do

In about 8 weeks, I have to get braces. Again. I am absolutely dreading it. But it has to be done. Otherwise my front tooth will keep pushing further and further outward. And snaggle-toothed villain is not really the look I'm going for. They will be lingual braces that go behind the teeth, so at least they will be somewhat less noticeable. But apparently my tongue is going to hurt a lot for the first week and my speech will be affected for a couple of weeks. So that will be super fun I'm sure. Sarcasm explosion.

And I know this is not a problem. It is a luxury. I'm lucky that I have the option to fix my teeth and the disposable income to afford it. I'm trying to be grateful. And I am. But I'm also just so unhappy about my whole face situation. I already went through far too many years of retainers and braces and headgear. After an awkward phase that lasted the better part of three decades, I guess I thought I was due some kind of respite. Isn't the ugly duckling supposed to turn into a swan at some point? I'm still waiting for that to happen.

The thing that annoys me the most is that it's just so freaking typical. My teeth would rather move all over the place than stay in a straight line. My flat feet refuse to form any kind of arch. My legs and my brain want to go everywhere and do everything, always. I get so restless sometimes, itching for motion, adventure. An itch so deep it feels like it's under the skin, inexplicable and unscratchable. I am a wanderer through and through. Even at the cellular level, apparently. Sometimes that feels like an incorrigible flaw.

I didn't want to talk about it. I didn't even want to think about it. But in case anyone notices me starting to talk funny mid-September, this is why. As if I don't sound weird enough as it is. I saw the video from 0spf (someone made an error in judgment and put me on camera) and I had this horrified moment where I was all "oh god, do I really sound like that?" But here we go. It's another adventure I guess. Though it's one I'm not too thrilled about. I suppose I should just embrace the awkwardness. It looks like I'm going to be here for a while longer.

Sometimes I wish my parts would settle down and get in line and do as they're told. But of course they can't. Neither can I. I've been up by 5am every day this week for pre-work adventures. And I love it, even though it means I go to bed at 9pm like an old person. I can't settle. I don't want to settle. I'm alive and there is so much to do and see and be amazed by.

Lyric of the moment: "But hold me fast, hold me fast 'cause I'm a hopeless wanderer. And hold me fast, hold me fast 'cause I'm a hopeless wanderer. I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under..." ~Mumford & Sons "Hopeless Wanderer"

Saturday, July 18, 2015

TrailsRoc 0spf Half Marathon 2015

I don't know who took this picture, but thank you!
This race was all kind of a blur to me. A hazy, hot, humid as hell blur. I was thinking it probably wasn't a great idea to do another race only two weeks after a 50K. Especially since, when I ran the course backwards last Sunday with Alison, Todd and Prem, I tripped and stubbed my left big toe twice and then twisted my right ankle. I was thinking this race definitely wasn't a good idea at 4:15 this morning, when the emergency alert flood warning startled me awake. (Seriously Government? What is that heart-stopping noise? It's terrifying at any hour, but 4am? Unless the flash flood is in my bed, I can totally wait to hear about it until I get up of my own accord.)

But of course this race is a great idea. It's one of my favorites. Because it's beautiful. The view from Woodcliff alone is enough to make all the stupid hills worth it. And because it's hard. The hard things are the most worth doing, am I right?

I wouldn't say that I felt amazing at any point of this race, but I wouldn't say that I felt terrible at any point either. Mostly I just felt hot and sweaty. I started out in the middle of the pack and pretty much stayed there the whole time. I was running by myself, ticking off little checkpoints in my head. Here is the play by play, as I remember it:

The famous dumpster. Pic thanks to Stacey!
Start uphill. Cross some roads. Get to Laura. Get to Woodcliff. Remember to look up and see the view from Woodcliff. Get to the place that I always wish is the church but is a different parking lot. Get to the two-way traffic section and try to have enough breath left to say 'good job' to everyone I see. Get to the church. Refill water. Get up stupid chair hill again. Those smug looking chairs are silently mocking me aren't they? Get to Woodcliff again. Consider if it would be more painful to continue this race or throw myself off the cliff at Woodcliff (just kidding! Someone should put a pool there though, just saying). Get to Laura again. Danielle was also at that aid station on my way back and she helped me put ice in my bra which is one of the best and most sane things you can do when you're running through an inferno of a race. Try to remember how many more road crossings I have left to go and fail. Fill up water again. Wow, I am drinking a lot. Cross more roads. Epically slow trudge up powerlines hill. Sweet, sweet downhill to the finish. High five from Eric. Stop running. Eat animal crackers. Mostly camels. A man with a video camera asks Jeff and I questions about TrailsRoc. I think I said words, mostly coherently? Sam was smart and ducked away before the camera was turned on. Convinced Todd to climb the tree with me. It's a tradition now. Third Saturday in July: 0spf + tree climbing.
Thanks to Erica for the tree pic!

I survived this race again, which means that last year wasn't just a fluke. And by the time next year rolls around, I will have forgotten how slow and hot I felt and I will sign up for these shenanigans again. Note to people who make things: sports bras with ice packs in them. Need.

To TrailsRoc and the wonderful volunteers, photographers, videographers and spectators: All The Thanks! You are the best thing to happen to running since it stopped being just a means to escape predators. 

Another sweaty, dirty adventure in the woods with the gang. I am the luckiest.

Now I think it's time to Get Caked.

Lyric of the moment: "Now my life is sweet like cinnamon. Like a fucking dream I'm living in..." ~Lana Del Ray "Radio" (Today was intensely thunderstormy, then morbidly hot and humid. The government woke me up early. An F bomb is called for).

Friday, July 17, 2015

When ice cream is plentiful and when it is scarce

Notes to the past:

Beginnings are also endings. Even if a change is a happy, positive one, there may still be a sense of loss. You have to let go of who you were to become who you are. Who you were was good, amazing even. Your past served you well. After all, it brought you here. But it also imposed limits on you. And now you have to let go of them and continue your quest towards boundlessness, unlimited possibility, the fulfillment of your highest potential. This was a nice place to visit, but you can't stay here. You don't want to stay here. Sure, you're used to it and maybe that conveys a sense of security, however false. Out there, this future you're embarking on, it's unknown and that seems scary. But every day starts the same way. It is all unknown. Twenty four hours where anything can happen. Let it. It will be beautiful and breathtaking and surprising and sorrowful and challenging and exciting and the best ever. I promise.

Notes to my future husband (I have a future husband. Like, in the near future I will have a husband. I cannot get over how strange and surreal and also spectacular that is):

I don't know what the future holds, but I promise to help hold your burdens, to hold your heart with the care and dedication it deserves, and to hold your hand across all the finish lines. I promise to love you on our best days and on our worst days, during the joys and the struggles, when ice cream is plentiful and when it is scarce. I promise to do my absolute best to make this a life of maximum awesomeness and to be a force of unconditional love, laughter and loyalty within it. I would love nothing more than to spend the rest of my life and all my adventures with you.

Lyric of the moment: "Live a life less ordinary. Live a life extraordinary with me. Live a life less sedentary. Live a life evolutionary with me. Well it's you and there's no other, I do believe...The night you came into my life, well it shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me. You blew away my storm and strife, and shook the bones of me, shook the bones of me..." ~Carbon Leaf "Life Less Ordinary"

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Happily ever after

I was starting to get frustrated by the wedding dress/ring shopping experience. I'm not into poufy, expensive dresses, and I'd much rather eat a cupcake than look like one. I couldn't care less about diamonds. Jewelry store salespeople are very pushy about the diamonds. Even after Pete told this one saleswoman that I didn't like diamonds and I reiterated it just to be sure she understood, all she could talk about was diamonds. I get it, they're hard. And should I find myself trying to cut a hole through glass and escape through it in some kind of James Bond movie, diamonds would come in handy. But I don't anticipate that happening anytime soon.

And what's the deal with the whole princess thing? I don't want to be a princess on my wedding day. Or any day. Actually, I think fairy tales are kind of depressing. A lot of bad things seem to happen to princesses. They get tricked into eating poisonous apples or pricked by poisonous spinning wheels or locked up in towers. They miss out on all the adventures. Although sometimes woodland creatures come and clean their rooms and do their hair. So there's that. But the only creature that's come into my house has been a bat. And all it did was lurk around the house being all creepy and definitely not cleaning anything.

So I gave up and went online, where I ordered a silver dress and a non-diamond ring. And then a white dress from, in case I decide to go that route, in which case I'll return the other dress to Macy's. I was nervous about buying a dress online from an international site, but I suppose the worst that could happen is that I hate it and they give me crap about returning it and I'm out $160. That would be a bummer. But the dress and the ring are just minor details. Whatever I end up wearing, I'll be married to Pete in less than 60 days, which is the important thing.

And I am making my own happily ever after. Where the dresses are suitable for stilt walking and frisbee throwing and tree climbing. Where there is lots of running through the woods and going all the places and eating ice cream and helping friends raise the roof. 

Demolition/reconstruction of Steven's garage roof

Lyric of the moment: "And I was talking to you. And I knew then it would be a life long thing..." ~Tori Amos "A Sorta Fairytale"

Monday, July 6, 2015

Finger Lakes 50K 2015

Finger Lakes 50K was the hardest race I've ever run. The conditions were terrible. The course, while still beautiful, was a sloppy, muddy mess. All kinds of mud. Stinky, cow pasture mud. Shoe sucking, calf deep mud. Slippery, gooey, pudding-esque mud. I knew that it was going to be muddy, but I didn't know how muddy. I couldn't have fathomed the level of mud we're talking about here. It was ridiculous. But I had made my peace with the inevitable messiness that I would be facing. Because it only becomes a struggle if you resist it. You can get stuck in a "this sucks" mindset and make yourself miserable. Or you can tell yourself "This is the stuff that stories are made of" and embrace the epicness of the journey you're on.

Pre-race photo by the Selfie King, Todd

That's not to say I was calm, cool and confident about this race going in. My stomach was aflutter with nervous energy. The course is a bit longer than a 50K, actually around 33 miles, which would make it the farthest I've ever run. I was a little concerned about  the physical task at hand (and foot) but more so about the mental energy it would take to remain in a positive mindset throughout the miles and miles of muck. I'm not a particularly fast or strong runner. But I am a happy runner. That's because I will never again let my mind go to that dark place where the doubts and demons win. Whatever happens, I just try to make the best of it. So I get out all my ridiculous, irrational fears beforehand. Then on race day, I let go of expectations, judgment and negativity and just focus on enjoying the experience. For me, this race wasn't a tale of pain and suffering. It was a chance to run 33 miles with my love in my 33rd year of life. And that's exactly what I did.

Friday afternoon, Pete, Steven and I headed down to the house Alison and Bob had rented on Seneca Lake and awesomely invited us to share with them. Todd joined us as well and we played the terribly weird yet strangely intriguing Worst Case Scenario board game, ate some pizza and cookies, played some euchre and headed to bed early. Saturday morning we got up at 4am, accidentally set off Pete's car alarm at 4:30am (the neighbors were thrilled with us I'm sure), ate breakfast and headed off to the race start at the Potomac Group Campsite in Finger Lakes National Forest.

At a little past 6:30am the race started under overcast skies and some moderate rain. Pete, Steven and I ran the first few miles together, then Steven went on ahead to catch up with the others. I let Pete set the pace and I just followed along. At one point, Pete said something like "I'm so glad to be here with you" and one of the guys ahead of us asked "Is that your wife?" Pete told them we're getting married in September. One guy said "My wife is upset that I'm running this race." The other guy said "My wife divorced me because of my running." We told them we met running trails and the divorced guy said "I guess you guys are proof of that saying, 'If you want to find the love of your life, stop looking and just do what you love." That has certainly been true for me. I've met the most amazing people, and the man of my wildest, most impossible dreams, in the woods.

We made it through the first 25K loop in pretty good spirits but didn't linger too long at the finish area so we wouldn't be tempted to stay there. It had stopped raining by this point and the sun was peeking through breaks in the clouds, but the loop was even sloppier the second time around. It was slow going in most spots. Wrestling through all the mud was draining, both physically and mentally. Admittedly, I was a little frustrated because I came here to run a 50K and there were a lot of spots we were forced to walk so we wouldn't slip in the mud and fall into the barbed wire fences. But I was happy to be there with Pete. I just told myself that it was like trick or treating - run from aid station to aid station, getting candy and PBJ sandwich bites (the final aid station had PBJ/M&M sandwiches which is sheer brilliance!) wearing my makeshift swamp thing costume, which got more and more authentic the farther I ran. On a few occasions Pete told me to just go on ahead without him, but there was no way I was going to do that. I had no goals for this race other than to stay positive, finish and most importantly, do it together. My back started to ache halfway through the second loop, which was weird since that's never happened to me before. Usually it's my legs that feel tired and sore. But there wasn't any point where I felt bad. I focused on my Eat, Drink and Be Merry race philosophy and just kept going. We chatted with a few other runners as we crossed paths in the muck, then we saw John and Kathy at The Morgue aid station. I was superstitious about stopping there the first time around so we had skipped it. But on the second loop, Pete stopped to get the accumulated debris out of his socks and shoes while I drank ginger ale and ate candy and joked nervously about all the bones and skulls they had laying around. There were a bunch of bones hung up like a necklace on a branch near the trail and I was like "I hope I don't end up like that guy" and John was like "That guy has a lot of femurs, he must be a good runner."

Eventually, we made it to the marathon point, then the 50K point, then we stopped to wade in the pond and clean off our shoes a bit before we ran the final stretch to the finish line. It had been a very long day and I was still in a good mood, but so, so happy to be done. We got our finisher fleeces and glasses and then I got to sit down for the first time in almost 9 hours. Alison, Todd, Bob and Steven had all finished way ahead of us but were nice enough to wait and cheer us on. I was struggling to get my wet, muddy compression socks off and Alison came over to help me. I said "I don't think you want to touch this" and she said "Sometimes being a friend means touching things you don't want to touch." She grabbed my socks and pulled while Todd held my shoulders so she wouldn't pull me off the picnic table bench. Not only is she the champion of the women's 50-59 age group, but she's kind enough to wait around for you to finish and pull off your gross socks. Chris drove the others back to the lake house and Pete, Todd and I followed a little later. On our way, I saw a sign that said "Celebrate with ice cream" so Pete pulled over and Todd and I got ice cream cones for the ride back. Of all the signs in life, that's one you definitely have to heed.

Post race photo thanks to the lovely Chris

We spent the night eating, talking and laughing (then sleeping. lots of sleeping), which is the best way to spend any night. On Sunday, I came home to find that my bike had been stolen from my garage, which was bit of a downer. I had this moment of disappointment, but then I thought it's just a possession, it's not important. People who resort to theft generally have a lot of troubles, so they must have needed the bike more than I do.

Besides, my weekend of awesomeness was not yet over. My mom and I went wedding dress shopping Sunday afternoon then Pete and I rode his motorcycle down to Charlotte to get ice cream. As we were taking off our helmets, an older guy carrying a tiny dog came over and started talking to us about Harley Davidsons (those people are really enthusiastic about the whole live to ride, ride to live thing. It is adorable.) He said "I never had any kids, thank God, but I've had five Pomeranians. This one is only 7 pounds. Here" and then proceeded to hand me his dog. So I'm standing there holding his dog and he's talking up a storm, and this is why I can never be mad at humanity. People are so weird and funny and I love it.

Five years ago, hell even one year ago, I would not have believed that I would ever run 33 miles or have any need to purchase a wedding dress. But that is my life: chipping away the im from impossible every day. For someone like me, whose two most favorite things are running and people, it was an epic weekend for sure.

I'm beyond thrilled that I get to spend the rest of my life with Pete and for all the days I get to spend, rain or shine, with all of you.   

Lyric of the moment: "I’ll come right down to it. How do I accept the gift? Sheer matter that I exist. I’ve thought a lot about it. And I am still in limbo. I still don’t know if it’s down there in my soul. I am waiting for the role. If it’s down there in my soul. It’s just right, take flight. I've been waiting all my life..." ~DJ Harry "All My Life"