Sunday, September 24, 2017

Closer to that finish line

             Yesterday I called MainStay Suites in Alcoa, Tennessee and reserved 3 days for my 50-miler race in March of 2018. This was just one step closer to getting this dream to come true. Next, reserve a plane ticket, but I am waiting for the price to be right. 
              There is a lot one has to do physically to get ready for any race, yet, getting ones mind to go along these crazy distances also takes a lot of work, it's half the battle. To prepare for this I have been doing a lot of visualizing, trying to picture myself at that finish line and getting ready for the high level of discomfort and maybe even pain that I would have to go through. I have been reading about running long distances and also watching Youtube videos after Youtube videos created by people who have successfully completed the distance and have some valuable advice to give. Each one of these activities prepares me mentally and the more work I do on this end, the more I feel I am getting emotionally ready to tackle the distance. Whether or not I complete the distance will remain a mystery until that day, but I am surely going to do my best now to get all my ducks in order. No rock will be left unturned, giving this my all. 

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Running as refuge


           Getting ready for a long run requires a lot of calculations. First, you get all the variables, how fast you think you can run, how many miles, when is sunrise, how many of those miles will begin at the gym on the treadmill and how many on the trails, and which trails, when am I needed back at home, the temperature tomorrow. I am very much looking forward to my 18 miler in the morning. Four and half hours of me time....heaven. 

            Yet, planning all this is tough enough with all other activities that come with being a mom to a 12 and a 10-year-old. Four our of 5 weekdays we have some form of evening event after work. Then, on top of that add on my current severe downs that I have been experiencing lately. I am not sure if my downs are due to hormonal changes in my aging body or just maybe tiredness from work, maybe, just maybe it's the news of all these natural disasters and the sadness that come with that news.  No matter what it is, it has been very tough dealing with these downs and luckily running helps get me back on track... somewhat. 

             It's not only the act of running and the exercise and the exhaustion that helps me get back on track either. Running gives me a sense of self-dependence that I desperately need right now. Trust and lack thereof has been a huge issue this year, on so many levels. Erratic behavior in others has made me withdraw and increased my need to depend only on myself more and more.  I could definitively say at this point I feel most at peace when I am alone. I am aware that I am taking a sabbatical from a lot but for now I am quite comfortable here. Not sure if running is helping or hindering me, but at this moment I am going to follow only my comfort level, like I would a compass. Currently, my personal sense of personal comfort is the only barometer in which I blindly trust. This is huge. For someone like myself who has spent an enormous chunk of her adult life being there for others, right now, I am unable to do be that person, yet, for the first time, I am allowing myself not to feel guilty, which feels very nice to not have that pressure....deep in me I must know my limits well and I know that right now, I just simply can only bear to carry myself and those immediately in my care. 

               Therefore, Sundays are reset days. On Sundays I let out my adventurous self out and for 3 to 5 hours I get to only take care of my own needs and not have to negotiate levels of care for anyone but me. Like a mom caring for an infant, on my long runs I baby myself. If tired, I take a GU, if thirsty I drink, if chafing, I apply vaseline and so on. Running is my refuge for now, more than ever, and despite my occasional stints with my downs I am able to stay on top of it thanks to the deep level of self-sufficiency and strength this sport gives me every time I lace up my sneakers. I am feeling so lucky to have a trusty tool that can help me save my own life and sanity, day after day. 











Sunday, September 17, 2017

35 days to marathon #8


17 miles completed by 8:15am!!! What do you do when you're a mom and your son has a baseball tournament you cannot and do not want to miss in Fredericksburg at 11am BUT you also have to do a long run that day? You wake at 3am of course! #readyforsomebaseball 

hike- while recovering from an injury


In attempts to listen to my body more...I chose to hike for an hour instead of running.....and it felt wonderful to not be so tough on myself. I also know my body enough to know that this will not jeopardize my training....I am in pain and walking is the most I can do right now. 













Sunday, September 10, 2017

42 days to go!!


             I have a small foot injury and needed to complete 16 miles today. I have been nursing my foot with rest from running and just doing the elliptical for the same milage during the week. Today, I ran 5 miles on the treadmill before the sun came up and finished the rest, 11 miles on the Mt. Vernon Trails. 


         The trails were just gorgeous.....a beautiful day....67 and sunny....and in the early morning it was even fresher and a bit cool. 


What I love about these trails is that they are paved and for about 90% of it you are completely alone...In nature. 


I was jealous of all these amazing homes placed right on the Potomac River. 


There was a race going on.....Below I places some more info on this race....hey, I might want to do this next year. 

Register for the 2017 George Washington Patriot Run 5k/10k


Enjoy this unique experience and run a 5k or 10k and finish on the historic grounds of George Washington's Mount Vernon. Race registration provides admission to George Washington's Mount Vernon, which includes an opportunity to tour the Mansion, grounds and Donald W. Reynolds Museum & Education Center. 

Spectators will be required to purchase an admission ticket to gain entry to the estate and finish festival area. These admission tickets are available for a discounted rate on Mount Vernon's website until September 9, 2017. Your race registration confirmation email will also contain the link to purchase discounted admission tickets. 

Spectators may purchase admission tickets the day of the race but only at regular admission price.

5k & 10k Information
Start time: 8:00 am
Price: $50 Race Fee + $3 SignUp Fee


Me, the way I look when I am stretching my legs at halfway. 


The Potomac...


Cross a few bushes and you're right at the water. 



Yes!! done......16 miles baby!!!.....My last two runs had really bought my confidence down to its knees....this was quite a nice run...felt strong and confident. 


Still sweating, half an hour later driving home. 


My post on FB....
























Thursday, September 7, 2017

I see you

                         This weekend we bought a new car. Our lives for months now had been straddled between travel baseball games and gymnastics and this became increasingly more and more complicated to jiggle with one car. A new car was a nice solution to help us keep our sanity. My husband, who happens to be a wiz at numbers and anything related to savings, played the local car dealers against each other until he could get no further and in the end went with the one salesman who not only gave him the best offer, but the one who best listened to his needs. Listening, I have found recently, is one of those skills most people give cursory attention to, yet, one that can make a world of difference in our relationships. 

                 What baffles me is that becoming a salesperson is not rocket science. What trips up most of them It seems is that they think there is a "formula" to being a good salesperson. Just as in dating, for example, people believe there is a formula for getting all the dates, when in fact, the formula is a non-formula approach. Now, before you think me crazy with all this zen-ish mumbo-jumbo hear me out. What I mean is that in believing  there's a formula to follow we get so preoccupied in our own minds with following the steps to this formula that we fail to actually take in the information from the source (In this case the customer). Also, just like in dating, we think we need to be, say, or even act a certain way get results, when all we need to do is pay attention to the one before us. 

      Now, back to the salesperson for a minute. My husband just wanted two very easy things, he wanted (1) transparency, and he wanted a (2) guarantee that the price would not go up once we got to the dealership. I overheard half-a-dozen conversations between my husband and these gentlemen where he's simply asking for a line-by-line breakdown of all charges, simple enough, right? nope. One young dealer took this request as a personal challenge and with an attitude said, "I've been around the block, so we can't commit unless you have a letter from the other dealer, don't worry, just come on down and we'll take care of you". "Just come on down" is not something you say to someone that has an inherent distrust of sellers. Had he been listening he would have known this easy! It's no surprise then that the dealer we did go with actually heard what was needed and listed all the fees all the way down to the smallest charge. Not rocket science....again, all he did was listen and gave my husband what he wanted....the freaking price! 

       Listening has been a huge topic of importance to me lately in my personal life. The minute I unravel one parallel a few others begin to appear. There seems to be a never-ending set of parallels and connections that appear daily. On so many levels listening has made all the difference. One way, for example, is in listening to my body. Again, "Listening to ones body" is an act everyone loosely thinks they follow and yet, we rarely do this for real for any extended period of time. Just 2 days ago, I chose to just do away with my traditional marathon training plan and I feel so amazing breaking away from this rigid training plan which was essentially not working for my body. Had I kept going I surely would have gotten injured or sick. I am more of an expert on my own body than anyone else out there and I needed to own that through action, so I changed course. No big deal, I have been essentially studying my own body now for years, I should feel fully confident in making decisions relating to its health and training. 

             Listening in personal relationships is also one of those golden skills that could easily make or break any relationship. I have had several inner breakthroughs lately in my many personal relationships. I have learned so much. For example, I realized that one's expression of discontent in a relationship should not be met with more a wall, instead acceptance of that truth must be practiced if true want of understanding, congruence and clarity exits in that relationship. Yes, most times more than not, one's message of discontent comes wrapped in anger, or awkwardness or even malice, yet, that should not in any way ever negate the fact that the discontent exists. Simply because there might be a disagreement with the method of delivery or even the message itself does not make the message itself wrong or less worthy of our attention. In other words, when someone we claim to love says they don't like something that is happening, whether it be wrapped in sweet words or anger, we must try hard to listen for the true, sometimes hidden essence of the message. Listening in this case, although it cannot be seen happening, is very much a verb, it's an action. Listening I have found is the act of allowing the message to take space in our hearts without the visceral need to react, retaliate, change or mold the message or the person. It's a very tough practice, one I work on daily still. As grown humans,  we all have faced experiences we'd rather not over the years, yet, I have found that fighting the message, or even the package in which the message came in only withers away at my soul. Some I have also learned, repackage the message so that it seems more palatable, more easy to swallow, per se. There is hope though. I have found that the minute I stop fighting, take myself out of the equation, and actually hear the message with my heart I can then begin to heal and move on. Some book I read somewhere call it "practicing ALLOW". This practice is essentially a practice in saying yes all the time and just absorbing all that comes with an open heart and mind. 

              I share this here, on my running blog because I have learned most of this material from running. In running, you encounter hills, valleys, roots, darkness, heat, humidity. To continue on steadily we simply must move on and in time the path changes and becomes something else, then something else, new challenge, new battles, etc. Each hill in running is met with a "yes", an acceptance, no matter how tough, no matter how painful, we keep on moving forward. 

            In good relationships, whether they be in our friendships or with our parents or our siblings or with our children, we begin the work of listening and truly loving the minute we stop making up stories about who we want them to be instead. Like they say in the old familiar marriage vow, "For better or for worse". I think this phrase is about an invitation to really seek the true person you married (and this does not need to apply to a spouse, could be anyone really). It's an invitation to shut off the story we carry about who people around us are and begin seeing the real person before you. This is not about love or non-love, it's about shutting off the the fictitious version we foment in our minds about the world, it's about being being brave enough to be fully present in every interaction so that our very lives become more genuine, real and meaningful and clear. 
       
                    You can practice deeply listening to anyone in your life from your worse enemy all the way up to your dearest friend by simply negating your first version you narrate of their story and seeing it as just that, your version. Deeply listening makes no promises of any kind though, it is not one of those warm and fuzzy promises of rainbows and candy canes. Most times, the real message is harsh and ruthless, sometimes it's painful, sometimes it's a huge kick in the pants. Makes sense, why else would so many try so hard to not see the real world, it's easier to just choose and pick parts of people, than take them as they are, less messy right?. But what deeply listening DOES do for us is keeps us sane, makes us connect with others on the most intimate levels. We can choose to be brave and take a peek, and begin to see things clearly or we can choose to feed on our narrative of others, always move through life wondering why our version does not match their actions. 

            As I end this, I am working on listening more to my almost-teen son. As our kids get older they talk about themselves less and less. So it really becomes a battle against the clock. I can try to connect with him in ways I am told by society to connect with him and keep jamming the proverbial square peg in a round hole or I can stop my mental chatter of what I think HE NEEDS and really try to hear who this little young man is before me, what his fears are, what his passions are. Those gifts from him will not come if I continue wearing the "hat" I've been wearing. I loved that blockbuster alien movie, whose name evades me right now, in which their greeting to each other is "I see you". How amazing it must be to truly be seen by another and still be loved. That is the message I want to convey to him and I believe in my heart the key to opening up his inner world comes from that one thought. That really should be the ultimate goal of a relationship...despite all you see, you are still accepted. YES, I see (and hear) all of you and I say YES. 

                      

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Taking back the night

        After a few injuries and a kick ass gym membership I just stopped running outdoors. Time made me forget all about the beyond awesome feeling of being out in nature before everyone wakes and taking on the night.  I had a long run scheduled for this Sunday and I simply could not muster another treadmill long run. Last time I felt like I was in a time warp, three and half hours of the fan blowing and literally going nowhere was just beyond boring. So I planned to take on the night for this next run. Being a mom I do not want to be gone all day as if I were single, my kids need me around, therefore, making it back home around the time they wake is my BIG challenge. I am also a super slow runner which means I must always wake at an ungodly hour to make all this possible. 

     This is what the intersection near my home looks like. You'll see a few cars, zero people and an occasional fox streak across your path. I always imagine all this is mine, all mine. 


Gently rolling hills, unlike a treadmill, allow me to work different parts of my legs muscles. This prevents me from becoming injured. On a treadmill it's hard to change, adjust and play with one's gait. 


Mine, all mine still. Have seen 2 other runners at the 8 mile mark. 




Halfway mark (mile 8)....Here's where the real work begins. Podcasts go off and music comes on. 


I LOOOOOVE slugs. Mostly because my mom, who is a garden goddess green thumb, hates them with a passion and would often sprinkle them with salt to "save" her garden. I spent many years trying to save them from this very horrific approach. So now when I see them I always grab a leaf and place them off the path, so they don't get stepped on. 


Nothing like feeling your legs carry you across miles and miles. There is a certain power that comes from knowing that your own body can do that.....without the use of a motor, or pedals, such a primal connection to the earth, our ancestry as humans, life, the planet.....oh, don't get me started. 


I am done!! showered and smiling....Now let's eat!!! This is a smile of a woman who is starving. 1500 calories burned in 4 hours of running.....where are the eggs...get out of my way. 


This shot was taken after a shorter morning run, the sun was just coming up and I felt amazing....nothing like a morning run before work. 


A new day arises behind the trees...Everyone is still in bed at home. 


Finally.....I catch my beautiful sunrise. Have a great day everyone.