Thursday, April 17, 2014

Keeping up the motivation and other such struggles...

                   I have been so tired lately. It could have something to do with the fact that anytime I change anything in my diet or my exercise my whole rhythm comes apart. I have not had a normal cycle now for 2 months and this weekend of all weekends (Spring Break) 'Aunt Martha comes to town' and with it goes all my energy. I am going to search for another marathon training plan that is more doable. As it is right now I have a 4 -day training week and not only are the long runs getting longer, which is fine, but the weekdays runs were getting to be up to 2 hours 3 times a week, which is not really a sustainable plan I found out....
                     Therefore, for now I am trying to feel happy with just the fact that I am still getting out there and getting my runs in and trying not to focus on sticking with this plan so religiously that it ruins my day if I can't keep up. I need my confidence in these runs and feeling like I am not meeting my goals will not help, no matter how much I run. In the meantime, I am posting this picture I got sent from the Cherry Blossom 10 miler I ran 2 weeks ago....I think I seriously need to post this photo somewhere where I can see it....lately the UPS provided by my runs expire so fast......hard to maintain my euphoric feelings for longer than a day....I am hoping this just has to do with the fact that my body's rhythms are just totally off right now and am trying to just keep on moving forward....

On some positive notes:

** I have already run 483 miles this year!!! That is an average of 34 miles a week.....very nice!!  

** My Brooks Pure Connects (3) have been working awesome....I love, love, love these sneakers....

** I have been running al my runs using my Nathan's Hydration pack. Keeps my hands free. I can stick my phone and my mace in the pocket to my right and be on my way......it's hard now to go back to anything else....love having my hands free and nothing around my waist. 

** Have been dealing with my plantar fasciitis issues by wearing this foot wrap at night.....at first I felt stupid for spending so much money ($38) on such a device but after the first night I got up from bed with NO initial morning pain on my foot.....I have been using it for a week now and the odd feeling of wearing this bulky thing does go away after the first few nights. Now I can hardly feel it. Also, it does feel like it would not work, but it's very effective...no matter how subtle you may feel it might be initially. 



Sunday, April 6, 2014

Joyous....

         Running's largest contribution to my life has not been fitness, or weight loss, or even pride, it's been the constant feeling of sheer joy. I don't quite know why or how exactly running has been able to accomplish such a unique form of happiness, but yes, I feel a constant flow of joy in my life and I attribute it all to running. 
           George Sheehan in his book Running and Being (an amazing book by the way) mentions something about the runner facing his or her mortality in every run. I am totally paraphrasing here, but in essence, he says that in every run there is a face-to-face encounter with mortal pain and an epic 'battle' takes place in us which we come to some form of deliverance at the end. This could be the source of the joy. The daily dose of 'triumphs', if you may, lends itself to us feeling invincible emotionally and physically which in turn allows us to see the world as amazing as we feel. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Mile Recaps of a 20-Mile Run.....

Mile 1: No one is around. Streets are bright, drizzling a bit, humidity high and spring warmth in the air. I had compiled an awesome running on Spotify and this time it did not give me any problems. I started it and all went well.

Mile 3: Enter Rock Creek park. For a minute I wonder if it's a good idea, a woman alone in a dark park. I cock the safety on my mace canister and enter the dark park. Sun does not come up for another hour and it starts to rain a bit harder. I have run this path so many times. Something changes in you when running the same run so many times, it makes those streets yours, and makes it less frightening. I head forward with resolve, with the safety on my mace open and ready. 

Mile 3.2: I suddenly feel I perhaps should not have both earphones in and take one off. In taking one off, I loose the cap to one of my earbuds in the darkness, this is bad. The earphones do not go in without these dumb buds. Rain is coming down hard and I decide I am not going to proceed further without my earbuds damn it. They are right here, they had just fallen!! I pull my cell phone out, it's in a clear plastic bag and I scroll to find the flashlight app. For about 5 minutes I look for those stinking earbuds in complete darkness, hard rain coming down. I start getting nervous for I am at the edge of some foresty area and get a bit spooked by the whole scene. I begin to actively calm myself and keep looking. I almost gave up but finally find the stinking buds and start running again. 

Mile 5: finally out of the foresty part of the trail, yes! Still dark, puddles and mud everywhere. Still not a glimpse of another runner (or walker). My feet have managed to get soaking wet and this is when I decide to stop avoiding puddles, along with my entire body, legs and cap.

Mile 6: I have to pee!! Still have not seen another runner (or walker for that matter), rain coming down a bit softer, but still pretty steady. I find a spot in the open air and squat facing the Potomac River....I had to have myself a little laugh.

Mile 7: Arlington. Still no other runner. Sun coming up a bit more.

Mile 8: I see my first other runner. Then a few other in groups. All men. The sun has come out, but it's cloudy and just so beautiful to see Downtown DC across the Potomac.

Mile 9: I see my first female runner! My Spotify reception was down at the time so I managed to yell out to the female runner that she's the first female runner I've seen all morning. She smiles.

Mile 9-10: I get my speed in. I feel amazing and can't believe I am halfway done. At mile 10 I turn around and head back home. My Spotify quit for about 1/2 a mile right around the airport.

Mile 11: Used the disgusting port-a-poty beside the parking lot by Reagan National Airport. I used the handicapped one, I felt it had more room and gave me less opportunities at touching anything.

Mile 14: Back to DC. Tons of runners around. My body has had a chance to dry and once again rain comes down, this time rain comes down hard and it's freezing. My hands feel stiff.

Mile 17: Get text from hubby asking where I am. He does his workouts too on Sunday so probably needed to know how much time he had to get ready. I text him back that I have 3 miles to go. A smile forms on my face from this point forward. I am going to get this done. This 20-miler is mine....My feet ache. I start purposely running into the deep puddles and the freezing cold water gushing into my shoes are like heaven on my hot, surely-swollen feet. I think of it as a foot spa, on the run. 

Miles 18: My thighs are totally frozen now. I keep checking to make sure I still have feeling in them by touching my legs. Yup, still there. I start to have this mini-panic that my legs might give out under me. Quitting and calling my hubby crossed my mind for a tiny second. But, I could not quit now...I've come so far. Freezing rain was coming down again and this time I was seriously under dressed for the weather. I had out on 7" compression shorts and my legs had turned beet red. I kept a calm expression as I beat my way up the last few hills on Connecticut Avenue. I had a huge smile on my face and surely I must have looked a bit odd being totally soaked, smiling and obviously frozen.

Mile 19: I stopped pushing so hard and decided I'd take it slow the last mile. No negative splits for this one. I wanted to finish without pulling a muscle. My thigh muscles were so stiff from the cold and not getting injured was the priorities. When the pain of running becomes almost unbearable I start counting to 10 and start over and over again. The last mile I counted and counted and counted so as to break up those last hills into manageable chunks. This was definitely a mind over matter run. I could have quit at mile 3 when I lost my earbuds and got spooked in the dark rain......I could have quit my thighs froze....in each situation my mind forced me to remain calm and think clearly in face of total panic.

Mile 20! I did it. I did a small fist pump as my watch vibrated to signal the 20th mile. I stretched a few and ran up to warm up. My legs were in intense pain as the blood began to wake up my frozen muscles in the hot shower. I worried for a few minutes, then laid in bed, turned up my heat and warmed up cuddles in with my little daughter. I finished within 3 minutes of what I predicted. I told my hubby I'd be home by 10am and I got home 10:03am.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The positives and negatives of NOT LOOKING LIKE A RUNNER

I have a lot of experience in this category....so I thought I'd have some fun with it.
Me, 2/3 way into my 50K

Me, after finishing my first 50K race 

First, let me start with the negatives of being a runner, yet, not looking like one....

1. When you go to a running store the attendant will almost always give me less than excellent service. I am not making this up. I have into the PR Running in my neighborhood several times and have always felt unwelcome by the younger women behind the counter. Not all have been aloof, but, most often than not, they don't know how to be around me. 


2. Experienced runners will almost always see you as a novice.

3. If I tell someone I ran 20 miles non-stop, the first question out of their mouth is inevitably about my pace. A few times I've been asked, "But, you are basically just jogging it right?". As if jogging 20 miles  is a breeze compared to "running" it.

4. Hard to find clothes that make my tummy look good. If I wear a belt, one of those belt to help me carry GU's and my phone, the issue always becomes whether to wear the belt above my belly or below.

5. When encountering faster runners on a run, they hardly wave, say hello, or glance over at slower runners. I may be wrong and please feel free argue with me all you want, but in my experience there seems to be very little feelings of camaraderie coming from most faster runners towards slower runners. I credit this to the fact that they, the faster runners, see themselves in a different category than slower runners. Now, I have had some faster runners make a huge fuss and clap and, or cheer me on as I run past, yet, again, their assumptions, judging from their very excited cheering is that I am fairly inexperienced. I know they have good intentions and I don't mind their initial assumption, but as I go onto my second year of weekly miles in the 30's, having completed a marathon and a 50K....this assumption gets more and more annoying.

Now for the positives of being a runner and NOT looking like a runner....

1. Because I look curvy, the minute people find out that I have completed a marathon or run a 50K they have often said to me, "If you can do it, I know I can." I think most people would probably be annoyed at this comment being said to their face but I think it's wonderful. I love running so much that if me running spurs others to run, that is fantastic.


2. I love, love, love my curves. We all have this shared image of the female runner and she is pretty much a woman with a very masculine body. I do not want a masculine body. I love being able to put on a dress and looking like a female.


3. The surprise factor of being a runner and not looking like one is fun sometimes. I love it when my assumptions get checked. I was giving a lady from my building a ride to the metro and she asked what we are doing this weekend. I told her I would be running a ten mile race and I could feel her eyes give me the once over.


4. As much as I sometimes feel embarrassed parading around in my 7" compression shorts on my runs once it gets warmer, I think it's important for me to be out there. Women who look like me need to see what their bodies are capable of. When I see someone that looks like me doing things I can't do, it suddenly makes it possible somehow.


5. Most runners I see out there are younger. For me to be 40 years old and professing to want to run until I hit the grave makes people around me see that they too could continue to be active as they get older. I find it more inspiring to see older runners out there running than younger ones. To be in your 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's (or older) and running is so inspiring to me....


So what are your negatives and positives of being a runner, YET, not looking like one?


Sunday, March 23, 2014

You think you have not changed until something happens.....

                I got to witness my new self this week. Changes in running are just like your children growing. One is fairly unaware of the growth of your children until one day, one of them puts on last year's clothes and there, you witness the inevitable; they are changing. 

               Two days ago I was rushing to work as usual and realized that my hubby, who works from home, needed the can-opener for the day for his daily tuna. I had left it in the car the day before for I have used it for a food event at work. Although I was already running very late, I parked our one shared family car in the temporary, no parking zone spot for my apartment and ran to the building. Out of nowhere I hear a loudspeaker yell , "You there, you cannot park there, move your car right now." Until the moment I had no idea this was even possible. I knew about the security cameras, but speakers!? Nope. Mind you all, this was 7am and surely lots of renters on that whole side of the building were probably still sleeping. But this person did not care, I motioned to the security cameras that I'd be there for one minute, but she continued blaring her commands again and again each time more emphatically. I stormed to my car, and in absolutely blind fury I drove to the front of the building and began to loudly argue with the lady who had been making commands. It was what I'd call a total download of everything I've both felt about her and the stinking building that I've been meaning to say for some time. Oh it felt GOOOOOD! I ran up with tears streaming down my face and gave my sleepy and unsuspecting hubby the can opener, blurred out what had happened in 3 sentences and rushed to work. 

                 15 minutes into my car ride was pure bliss, I had told her and I was still high from being "right". Then it hit me, I felt sad for her. In the midst of my unloading I had gotten pretty rotten personal and I did not want her taking my words personally; I liked this woman. Next, I could not believe what my hands were doing, I was dialing the building's front desk number and the words out of my mouth when she answered were, "Lisa, this is Miriam and I am sorry for yelling at you this morning". My words met her angry, frazzled tone as she picked up on the other side and not only were the words a surprise but completely and utterly disarming. We went on to have a very productive and calm conversation about what had occurred that morning. Years back, I would have labeled my apology as weakness. But to me, this was a way of cleaning up what I felt I did wrong. It cost me absolutely nothing to say those words, yet, the power behind them restored my relationship with a woman who at times can be somewhat militaristic, but whom I ultimately like and respect. She too apologized, but my aim or need was not to get an apology from her. I needed nothing from her to find resolution. When I hung up, it was behind me that very moment. I have zero doubt my new found abilities are due to my running. The new me is not so easily shaken anymore, so that apologies are easy. Apologies don't become the monumental loss of ego or a sign of a losing battle. My apology was not out of weakness but from a place of peace and clarity. My sanity, my relationship with her, and my morning were restored with one word and I went about my day with all that behind me. 

                The second incident that has revealed to me the new ME this week is not so much a story as it is a realization. In high school, college and my early days working I was always so confused as to how female friendships begin, evolve and are maintained. I wrongfully assumed that for each new friend I needed to make some internal adjustments. Then, I became the "savior friend" who needed nothing and was "all ears". Being a savior friend was too emotionally draining and I began to feel like a social service. But just yesterday I got to get a glimpse of the new ME. On the first day of little league practice I got into the most interesting conversation with another mother about raising girls, among other things. In reflecting on our conversation later, I realized I really liked talking to her and could see myself being friends just from the ease in which we could talk about so many subjects and had so much in common. So, I don't have to change any part of me to find good friends after all, in fact, I find that being unapologetically YOU is what most assists you in weeding out the "right" friends from the "wrong" friends. The new me has become pretty stubborn as I get older. I refuse to waste my precious, limited time on this planet doing or being with anyone that chips away my clarity or who cannot or will not be themselves from the get go. Sadly, the one HUGE, HUGE turnoff I encounter with women is competitiveness. The minute I even sense a tinge of  competitiveness from another woman I try my best to be real around her and feel as wonderful as I can in my own skin and hope it makes her realize that all that extra fluff they are working so hard to project is not necessary here. "It's safe here, it's safe here, it's safe here" I keep projecting. The older I get the more I value my female relationships, finding the right ones can greatly improve your life. Oh what a blessing they are!!

                I attribute all this growth to running of course....running has brought on the mental clarity, the confidence, the meditative-like training on those long 4-hour runs that strip away all the extra unnecessary crap we all carry around to build ourselves up. I am running an 18 miler in 2 hours and need to get a little more sleep before I go on my epic journey for the week. May you all be the best you YOU can be and may you find amazing never ending conversations with the most inspiring friends at every turn of your life journey. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

New running-inspired art on etsy....

I am an art teacher. With my second graders I am doing paper weaving. In fact, I have created a whole Pinterest album to further inspire myself and my students on this unit. You can see my Pinterest album at http://www.pinterest.com/miriamsart/ . After looking at all these amazing images I was itching to create.....below is what I made last night. I used old running magazines for the images and placed them all on an 11"x14" canvas. You can see the Etsy listing HERE.  


Some other pieces I have created that are running-inspired can be found in my general Etsy Online Store. 

The whole piece
Detail

Detail view

Side View of Canvas. Both right and left sides have words

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Fearlessness


I was talking to a work friend about how I believe that everyone of us has one major 'life theme' in life. Seeing as I believe in reincarnation and that therefore each life therefore carries it's own theme, I told her that I believed my life theme was related to worthiness, or finding worthiness in me. I had been through so much in my short 40 years that all arrows neatly point to that conclusion; I am here to learn to know and feel my worth. Yet, as I reflect further tonight I realize that perhaps I have two themes for this one life. No doubt, I still believe that my early life was surely gaining this sense of worthiness. But from this moment and moving forward I think a new fitting theme is one of reaching absolute and utter fearlessness.  Fearlessness of others' opinions, fearlessness of others' disapproval, fearlessness of loneliness, of being the 'odd one' out, fearlessness of hard work, judgement, pain, loss and on and on. I think I am slowly chipping away at this in my own way, yet, deep inside I know fearlessness comes hand in hand with trust. It's like the two cannot exist independent of one another. Trusting that all things are the way they are meant to be, no matter how horrible they might seem at the moment, is the backbone of fearlessness. 

I experienced fearlessness tonight as I read the words of 32 year old Shawn Kuykenstrong, who died of cancer this week. He describe his condition on his blog, “You know, it’s fine. I have cancer. God has a plan. I’m going to fight.”. In another quote on that same post he also is quoted as saying, “God has a plan and I have to stick to it. If I do that, live or die, I win.” To look down at the precipice, the dark unknown and to trust so fully allowed him to own fearlessness. I was very moved by his solid fearlessness. 

I also experienced fearlessness this week as I felt a friend's family exhale, after 3 years, at finally knowing the legal fate of the cold-blooded murderer of their 4-year old daughter. Daily, as I bask and enjoy the hugs and kisses of my little girl I think of their little princess,Breeann, and wonder how they came through such an unbearable reality, how they moved on, and together and with love and kindness still in their hearts. 


I still have a long way to go to get to complete fearlessness, the great theme of the second part of my life is just at its infancy. But I 'trust' that the answer lies in working with trust. When overcome with fear that I can never again finish a long distance race I will trust in my own strength, my own training and in my body; the body that has yet not failed me. 

I am in a good place to practice, but also to teach trust every day. In one of my art classes today I realized that more and more I am teaching my children to simply reach inside themselves and find what makes them move to create their art. It occurred to me then that each child already has the makings of a great artist inside them. If only I can get each one of them to trust that, I thought to myself....The question becomes then how can I make them see that they already possess all the answers within them? To put it simply, that's what I teach every day, self-trust. Great artists trust themselves, their likes, their dislikes, their ideas, their views, their hunches, their preferences.....by teaching my students, I am again reminded of this creative process.  The makings of a fearless woman is already within me too, now, if only I trusted that fact, what a huge difference that would make.