Saturday, January 14, 2017

Rehoboth Marathon.....new hope begins

             Despite my reluctance to face this new year due to the disastrous election results, lots of amazing things have been happening, making me feel a tinge of hope again. First, I got some positive news from my sister, Alexa, who is going through gender transition and I could not be happier for her and these current turn of events in her life. Surprisingly, I've also been running faster allowing me to feel a surge of power after every run these days....another amazing thing that's happened is that my annoying injury, the one that haunted me for most of 2016, seems to have finally dissipated.  But most importantly, (drumroll please..).... I signed up for marathon #8, the Rehoboth Beach Marathon on December 1st, 2017. 
            
            The Rehoboth Beach Marathon (RBM) is the race I ran on December of 2014 to finally to qualify as a Marathon Maniac. I am a proud Maniac, #10, 361. In 41 days I ran 3 marathons and RBM was y third and final race of this series. I love this race more than any one I have run so far, yes, even over New York City and over Marine Corps Marathon. (Click here to go see pics from that 2014 race). It's such an easy race, logistically speaking; you go there, park a block away, then run the race, what modern race these days is that easy? Even the packet pick-up is that very morning, right there at the starting line a few steps away from the ocean...It's also a gorgeous course, lots of nature and ocean smells, with very little logistical drama of the bigger races. 

                A month before I will also be running the Phoenix Half Marathon and going to Arizona with my hubby for a running vacation of sorts, slash belated honeymoon.....15 years belated, but who's counting. My hubby had even (loosely) promised to run the 10K portion offered at the same time as the half. He's not into races despite having been a runner for almost 40 years now. I'll have to see that to believe it, but mostly I am not counting on him running, although I LOVE the idea. Nevertheless, this will be our very first trip without the kids, they will stay with my mom and stepdad, who will drive up from NY to be with them for several days. I cannot wait. One of my favorite things to do with my hubby is have these long engaging conversations with him about just about anything....we hardly ever get time to just sit and chat anymore due to our hectic lives, so this will be so nice. 

             I am open to being happily surprised in 2017, although I am not holding my breath. In the meantime I will keep my nose to the grind and focusing on love, light, hard work and more love. 
                    
                     

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Simply beautiful, beautifully simple.....

      I have had this obsession with simple things all my life and only now am I realizing how wide-ranging simplicity has spanned across all areas of it, from my choice of sport to what I put on my face. My older brother and I grew up watching Kung Fu, not the sport, but the TV series that ran through American TV in the early 70's, and later all through Paraguay, South America where me and my family lived from 1978 to 1983. The series tells the adventures of a Shaolin Monk as he wanders the American West armed only with his wisdom and of course, Kung Fu. Just as one can't say what came first, the egg or the chicken, I can't quite decide whether the show brought on my love of simple things or whether my love of simple things is what made the show interesting to me. Nevertheless, I am quite attracted to simple things and the more I reflect on my current life the more I see this love represented in all areas. 

       Before I begin listing all the ways in which "simple" has taken over my life, let me first define "simple", in my terms. Some may define simple as synonymous to plain, yet, simple to me is more synonymous to beauty but at its most basic common denominator. Simple is a recipe for a life lived well. Simple means peeling away all the bullshit, the extras, the unnessesary of life and only holding on tightly to the most elemental factors. Simple means defining oneself in terms primarily meaningful to oneself and not based on incongruent, overinflated societal norms. Last, simple begets simple, meaning, focusing on keeping things simple you create a life with few complications and drama. 

       Let's begin with running, this blog is, after all, about running. Running is one of those simple tasks one can accomplish with very little gear.  Just put on any pair of sneakers and out the door you go, one foot in front of the other, voila! It's so simple, yet utterly complete and beautifully self-sustainable just the way it is. Most sports are far from simple, the gear, the facilities needed to accomplish the task,...on and on. I have a friend who is a triathlete and the price of her bike alone, not to mention the race entry fee, makes me think I could never be a triathlete, there is way too much gear involved, too much money, not simple enough. In running you only have your body, and the weather, and the ground in front of you; it cannot get more simple than that. 

         My marriage too has its roots in simplicity. When dating to find a life partner and the father of my kids (in equal measure by the way), I would not exactly say I was prepared by my mom to pick the right partner, on the contrary, my mom never advised me on how to pick a mate and I did not quite know what to really look for in a life partner, or that I needed to even look for specific qualities for that matter. But something in me, perhaps led by the values learned during that silly monk show in my 80's, valued two things the most, wisdom and self-reflection. Anyone who failed to have either would soon (or not too soon) be out of my life. Something in me subconsciously knew and was convinced that if I looked for these two elemental qualities, I'd be fine. Wisdom in a human being would help keep me and our future family safe and a self-reflective spouse would ensure that although we'd change he would continue to hold a semblance of humanity and kindness thanks to the reasoning that reflection generally provides. I am not saying my husband has no flaws, like all of us, he has plenty of flaws, but his high level of wisdom has helped to safely guide our family's major decisions over the years and his self-reflective nature has insured that we grow with the our changing life circumstances and continue to enjoy each other's presence. 
         
               I can go on and on about all the ways in which I have always chosen a less complicated path, blindly trusting with all my being that by its very nature of simplicity would keep me on the right track, from not wearing make up, to adamantly refusing to ever pay for an official car wash. From never needing an "official" pedicure to never considering surgery to address any future discontents with my body. I learned once somewhere in my readings that if life feels complicated and emotionally painful it's a sure sign that you're doing something against the natural order of things. This right here is probably THE best advice anyone can give another.  Heeding this advice will always help the suffering person to plant the seeds to eventually help themselves and turn things back around towards the positive. 
  
                I work hard daily to pass along the multiple lessons of simplicity to my kids......maybe it's time I buy the whole TV series of Kung Fu and watch it with them, as a spiritual training of sorts. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My ass....it is what it is

           Yesterday I peeled myself out of my warm bed and reluctantly headed to the gym before work. It was 23 degrees outdoors and I was not feeling it much at all. Yet, from prior experience with tough mornings, I knew that once I got going on the treadmill it would be fine and some miles would be completed. I mount my favorite treadmill facing the enormous pool below and find my power songs, the ones that make me go past the pain and discomfort of running fast. I had little time so a few fast miles was all I could squeeze. It took not more than 2 minutes running to notice the older man in the reflection of the glass, working out on the elliptical behind me, looking at my ass! He was not looking at my ass for just a second, or a few minutes, but for the whole thirty minutes of my run. 
            There was a time when this type of "attention" would have encouraged me to quickly readjust my clothes in the back to cover my goodies or allow all sorts of self-conscious thoughts to invade my peace, such as, "he's probably really disgusted", or "is my ass jiggling as I sprint?". Now, for those who may not know me personally, yes, I do have a butt that stands out due to its size and roundness factor (smile). But, I am very happy with my body; in my 43 years living in this body, I've had plenty of time to work on my self worth issues and own every part of it and proudly claim all of it as mine, regardless of its size. It took me years to travel from the world of painful shame to the world of shameless pride, but I'm here. 
         So now that I have reached some form of "ass enlightenment", when someone stares at my ass for a good half an hour, what does an ass guru do? An ass guru uses it. Byron Katie, one of my biggest self-help authors once wrote something to the effect of, "no one else can be you, but you. No one else would even handle being you, but you"(note: this is not verbatim) Seeing as he seemingly was not going to stop and seeing as I was going to get my run in regardless,  I took the situation and, quite literally, ran with it. If this strange older man behind me has never seen what a strong curvy woman sprinting looked like, he would now. I made sure that I moved in my body as comfortable as I could, kind of similar to the way one freely snuggles into warm wintertime pajamas. The run became a sort of mission, a mission to own myself in all its glory as best as could and not become distracted from my primary goal.  
           This situation very much mirrored one important life lesson, which is to be prepared to purposely work hard to keep your eyes on your primary goals, despite what unforeseeable distractions  might arise, and to know that at any moment, unforeseeable distractions might arise. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Claiming back my streets....my cold dark quiet morning streets

           I am reading the book, Run, by Dean Karnazes and in it he shares about running at odd hours, and I mean ODD hours....like 2am in the morning, at times even all night long. As a woman runner, the FIRST thought that goes through my mind is, "I could never do this for the mere fact that a woman can't be out at 2am on the streets anywhere in the US, or most of the world without worrying about her safety". Dean too felt afraid at times, he recalls a time when a woman almost ran him over at wee hours in the morning, but still, I was jealous at the freedom he enjoys, simply being a man. Once on my long training weeks I pushed my long run late enough that I found myself needing to run until midnight. The first and only night I did this I had some van stop halfway down the street and then coast slowly as he stared at me. That was the end of my odd-hours adventures. 

        But the book got me missing the beautifully quiet dark streets of the early mornings. Ever since my injury last year I was forced to work out at the gym and then just got used to doing my workouts in the gym. Now I have forgotten all about what it feels like to run outdoors.....these coming weeks I will begin to make efforts to run outdoors in the mornings....will report on my progress soon. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

What does running teach you about friendships?

             Running has helped me process pain and discomfort in new ways. They are generally believed to be experiences we all try to avoid as best we can, yet, running with and through pain has taught me to also withstand an awful lot of discomfort and not have it affect me negatively at all;  I have long learned to work, live and breathe alongside everyday discomforts and keep a proverbial smile as things come undone, as they often do in life.  
           But things have not always been this clear, this simple. As a teenager and even as a young woman in my late 20's I have also struggled with maintaining emotionally healthy female friendships. These issues mostly stemmed from me thinking that in friendships one has to wait around for a person who deems you to possess enough 'friendship material' to then choose you as a friend. Needless to say, I greatly lacked self-esteem as a young woman, I was living hell at home and was very quiet and shy; so this lack of worth did not help the issue either. 
              Nevertheless, all through my 20's and 30's I would very often fall into friendships with women who were very high maintenance and always feel puzzled and hurt as to why I felt so drained from these relationships. It was only after completing several long races and after months of training for each of them that I began to value me, Miriam. No so much for the accomplishment of finishing a race, but from the training process itself. Suddenly, the draining friendships had no place in my life anymore, I was too busy training and feeling amazing to be sucked under by lots of one-sided friendships who took and took but never gave. I began to organically gravitate towards people who made me feel strong, valued and happy. The process was in no way abrupt or obvious, it happened slowly, subtly.  Over time, I began to simply drop one 'friend' after another as I became stronger, and felt better about myself. 
                 A colleague whom I worked with a few years back once shared an opinion on friendship of which I then agreed with strongly. She believed that having lots and lots of female friendships meant you'd be happier. I would severely disagree. Having many friends is, first of all, impossible. There is no way one could qualitatively keep a good relationship with that many people, acquaintances maybe, but true friends, no. Second, I would much rather have 2-3 amazing friends anyway over twelve "kinda" friends. Again, all these changes in perspectives about friendships have changed thanks to my running journey. The only way I can explain this change is that running, being a solitary sport, teaches one to become super comfortable with one's own thoughts, mind patterns, and humor. Running has taught me that there is no one I'd rather spend a day with than myself. I'd be perfectly content with a book, a good pen and a notebook anywhere. While most people avoid being alone, I cherish, and even look forward to my time alone.  
                     To this day, running has never solved any of my problems, but it has allowed me to see situations clearer in order to move past them much faster.  I can easily process people's behavior as they act them, never question the universe "why?" or waste my time wishing and pining for another outcome. I simply accept, re-assess the relationship and if nothing is there I move on.....peacefully .....and never look back. 
            

Monday, December 26, 2016

Honolulu Marathon Reviews Rolled in one....

Registering:
Register early to get best price

Getting ready tips:
* Your gear bag, you would need to drop off the day before the race if you were to use it-


Bathrooms:
Runners: 
About the race/course:
Getting to race and back 
Tips on what to do:
Post-race food:
Swag:


* someone claimed they did not see any bathrooms until mile 6
* Porta potties have signs for men and women....

What the place is like: 
* The place was decorated with holiday decor 
* Fireworks at the startThis is a 20 minute full fledged colorful display that rivals some of the best Fourth of July fireworks shows I've seen. 

The Expo:
* a person claimed the expo was mediocre and somewhat disappointing 
* Many booths with little connection to running 
Public parking is available at the Convention Centre. It was $10 and there were plenty of spots.
Thursday, December 8 – 9:00 AM-6:00 PM, Friday, December 9 – 9:00 AM-7:00 PM, Saturday, December 10 – 9:00 AM-5:00 PM. Bring your confirmation email to the packet pick up. I will try to get there Saturday day and then stay Monday and Tuesday afterwards and  check out Wednesday morning. 

* Lots of people register then don't show up. Sp 33,000 might be registered and only about 22,000 show up. 
 Japanese runners take more than 65 percent of the starters

* No time limit BUT, " the course was billed as having no cut-off times, yet aid stations were being closed, and street sweepers had moved in, as walkers struggled in the late-afternoon Hawaiian heat. I understand the need to clean and close the course, but the course should not be billed as having no time-limit, if it in fact is going to be closed after a certain time." 
* 10 miles of out and back in the full sun 
* Sold as destination run for Japanese, some seem unprepared
* No corrals 
* there was apparently an allowance for young children to participate in the race.
* beginning of race was very confusing 
Finishing in Kapiolani Park
* The course is spectacular 
* 5am start, sunshine comes up at 7am
The course is mostly flat with the only two noticeable hills (at mile 8 and mile 24).
The biggest little thing that made a big difference: Sponges! I had never been so relieved to see a sponge in my life - and multiple times throughout the race - I was in heaven! These ice cold sponges were amazing to rub all over your arms, legs, face, squeeze on top of your head, stick down your shirt, whatever - just to keep you cool.
that this particular race has many slow runners and walkers.
The Honolulu Marathon is the fourth largest marathon in the United States after New York, Boston, and Chicago.

* "organizers should look at a shuttle bus concept to get people to the start line rather than making everyone making their way to the zoo (or the start). The last thing I want to do before a marathon is walk 2+ miles at 3am."
* People complained about being stranded at the end of Waikiki
* No easy transportation to race or from finish

Weather:
* Lots of heat and humidity, train for this!
start 70 finish 80-84 degrees depending on time of finish. Some patchy clouds, light breezes.

Bring a handheld, water stations were only on one side. 
* Dress in light colored clothing that’s also lightweight and has vents or mesh.  Also wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen.

*post-race food: the most amazing Malasadas you will eat
* Polish donuts

* You don't know what the medal or t-shirt looks like until you finish
* took a long walk to get finisher shirt and medal at the end

Hotels: 
If you stay towards the finish, there's a shuttle to the start. If you stay towards the finish, they direct you towards an area of taxi/uber/lyft and public transportation.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Honolulu Marathon

        So I have been dreaming again. What best do housewives who work full time and have tons of energy do anyway BUT dream,? Despite feeling super crappy this week health-wise I am looking forward to a shiny new year, full of new potential (just don't  mention the T word). This year was the shittiest year in a long time, my grandma died, my mom totaled her car, I ran a slow marathon (again), lots of tragedies in the news almost monthly, and yes, we elected a man for president of the US who ran a racist campaign. So I am looking forward to any ray of light in 2017.....My dreams are now in doing a travel marathon, the Honolulu Marathon.
         This week I have been "under". For me, who has not gotten sick in over 4.5 years (knock on wood) even a cold is a huge deal. I have been sneezing and sneezing and my head feels like a squirrel is caught between my temple and my brain, no fever, but who needs a fever, I feel crappy enough. I have been juicing up as always. My hubby makes veggie juice in juicer and leaves me half almost daily. I have also not been to the gym in 4 days, which has been very tough emotionally to bear. I need my workout to feel normal, so out comes the "Miriam" who cries about the dumbest things and 20 minutes later feeling just fine. This morning I was a mess about a dumb argument I had with hubby about the new president, of all things. Thankfully, I now know not to believe my thoughts when I get this crazy so I just walked out and drove to work.
          The idea for Honolulu came from a running magazine, one of many I get at home and hardly ever even look at for lack of time and/or energy. Under the heading of marathons for slower runners (or something to that affect) both Honolulu and Missoula marathon were mentioned. Polling friends about both immediately made Hawaii the winner. Not only that but a friend who I worked with offered me a place to stay in December, so in my mind, I am 99% ready to sign on the dotted line. The mom guilt of leaving my family for 2, possibly 3 days still exists, but, nothing a few sessions with some good girlfriends can't smooth out. In the meantime, right now I feel not only ill, but I am also feeling bloated and huge and slow....a natural emotional state from not working out for half a week. Part of me knows this guilt I lay one myself is pure bullshit, but I can't help myself, the perfectionist in me is always on my shoulder eating away at my confidence.
            Initially I had thought of having the whole family go and if we spend so much to get there why not make it 5 days? I roughly did the math and it came to $6,000 for all of us to go to Hawaii for 5 days next December. Sadly, that is beyond what we'd like to pay for a family vacation so the only logical next solution is for me to go alone. I will have to figure out additional support for my hubby with the kids when the time comes, but for now I need not worry. Already they are much more independent, and in a year from now, maybe they will even be more independent, maybe even independent enough not to drive my hubby crazy with their sibling wars. Okay, here comes the guilt again. I need to call a girlfriend.