Friday, December 29, 2017

Grateful for the little aches and pains

                      We were driving to my sister-in-law's house to stay there for a few days for the holidays and I kept being distracted by the tightness on my back as I drove. The day before I had done weights again for the first time in weeks and my body was complaining. We were staying at my mom's and hubby and I had gone to use the gym near her house. But I don't ever mind my body's tightness after a run, or aches after a hard workout. It says that my body is working and that pain and discomfort are a sign that my body working hard to repair and strengthen those muscles I overworked the day before. More poignant, the pain and discomfort  also means I am alive, that I did something, that I got out. That is exactly why I names my Instagram account "Igettorun" because that is how I feel about it. The enormous gratefulness I feel by the fact that I GET TO move my legs, I get to move through the world, prancing around, like some young buck is a most wonderful, amazing gift. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

You are going nowhere without your mental game

                        I have been doing lots of research lately about what it takes to run and complete a 50 mile race. One consistent message I keep getting is that you should be running/walking at least 6/8 hours on your long run days for at least 2-3 long runs before the race. 
                        I am visiting my mom for the holiday and her husband, Marcelo, works in construction. On a -4 degree day he came home after work and reported that he'd worked outdoors the entire day and for the whole time he was performing some heavy duty labor. Immediately my mind goes to endurance. This 50+ year old man just came home from a 7-8 hour physically demanding workday and although he looked exhausted one can ask how is this different from a 5-6 hour training run? There is no difference. Equally, a few months back we hired four tree cutters to cut down a tree in our back yard and within 6 hours they had not only cut the tree down but they left no trace of it in and around our property. They did this with very little use of machines. Each worker drug out giant pieces of tree out to a truck on their backs. 

                         So not only do these two examples above illustrate that human endurance is something more prevalent in our community and that we all have come close contact with endurance in some form in our lives and not necessarily related to sports. Yet, what makes this fact even more fascinating is the mental aspect involved in endurance. Here are a few things I have learned so far about the mental aspects involved with endurance. 

* Your thoughts, and your thoughts alone, decide what is difficult and what is doable. Which explains why some days a 3-mile run can seem super tough and on another day it's seen as a breeze. 

* The minute you sign up for a race you are planting a seed in your own brain that this is possible. The very act of signing up for any race and planning other logistics around it, such as flight, hotel, etc... is an act of self-convincing. 

* Your body will meet your mind. Dream big baby! Of course you have to put in the work to train for any given endurance event, whether it's your job or a race. Yet, your body is absolutely able to grow to the dream your dream for it. Nothing is impossible. 
           
                          


                          

Monday, December 25, 2017

Independence in relationships.

                        I have come a long way from the young girl who romanticized love, who equated to much caring with true caring, who no matter how much I denied it, ultimately continued to define herself by other's general satisfaction level with me. I had no sense of me, no idea of who I was or what I wanted. Fear was a driving factor in all my relationships. Fear of losing whatever it was I had at the moment made me feel I needed to amp up the intensity and constantly swim uphill to maintain control. God forbid anything changed. 

                    To illustrate the above I will tell you a story. When I was in college I was with someone whom I loved very much. I took excellent care to always be present and caring and wonderful to this person, so much so that I slowly became someone else entirely in trying to keep this person happy and content near me. In turn, this partner too changed due to my suffocating "care". In the end, as you can imagine, I was dumped...but dumped hard! I was told when this happened that I had lost the free spirit that made me so attractive to begin with and I had become too needy, too bossy, too much. Looking back now, I was too suffocating in my care, too maternal, too intense, and too prescriptive in how my needs needed to be met. Looking back, I know all of this mess stemmed from just fear, fear of change, scared of losing whatever was there, no matter how undeveloped or not right for me it was. At that time, of course, I walked away from the relationships completely stung, deeply hurt, and utterly unable to understand how anyone could turn away from such love and care. In this case as in many, love was not enough. In this case, as the character Bob in what about Bob, the movie, the care was the last thing my partner needed, but I was too blind and naive to know that at the time. 

                    Fast forward 20 years later, I totally get it now. Love, as much as we think is the end-all-be-all of everything, does not make a relationship, and sometimes too much of it can even help end many relationships. One OTHER aspect of relationships that is too often widely overlooked when choosing a life partner is (drumroll please....)..... intensity level. Intensity level plays a huge essential part in relationships dynamics. Intensity level, in fact, plays such an integral part in a relationships that within days one can begin to see the trajectory of success or failure of any relationship begin to form based purely on the compatibility of the intensity within the two individuals. Depending on the intensity level in the relationship, partners can either make you feel free and alive or choked, immobile and just wrong. No matter how much we love to be in the company of a loved one, independence is its own reward and if made to choose, freedom is always the most attractive path to all of us seeking general happiness in our futures. 

                     So the questions begs to be asked, "what is the right intensity level?". Intensity levels are very tightly connected  to expectations and demands. Negative issues, as I alluded above, arise mostly when intensity levels do not match. Each participant needs to honor their own needs coupled with practicing "allow". Allow simply means letting others be who they are without pushing our weight around to make our counterparts do things our way, etc. For any successful relationship to work, it's important to know that not all partners can and should ever meet all our needs and/or acquiesce to all our demands but also it's essential to know that not all needs and demands need to be abandoned either. We constantly ask ourselves over and over again, over the course of the relationship forming, what is and is not okay with us personally. Constantly reflecting upon and genuinely honoring and remaining true to our most essential limits will we be assured a life where we get more of what we need and less/none of what we don't. 

                    So now it's my turn. What does a self-sufficient woman who is totally content with the way her life is at the moment need from a relationship? This is where things get tricky.  I have come to learn over the years that most people generally are much more comfortable relating to others when this "other" has a need. It must be some type of universal rule, but it's generally much easier being a friend to someone in need. Makes sense, feels good to be needed. On the other hand, it's much harder to be a friend to someone who is emotionally independent. I was that ultimately all-giving friend once. Most of my female friends consisted of women going through tragedy, drama, or simply pure hell...not sometimes, but always. I was always running around like a chicken with my head cut off, putting out other people's fires, placing my needs last always. But It felt like I was making a difference, when in fact I was spinning in one place, never making much progress.  

                  I totally get it now, just like the 20 year-old me getting dumped, I know it stings to not feel needed to come put out fires, yet, now I am looking for a very different type of connection, for a different type of frienships. Therefore, I will rephrase my question here, What does a self-sufficient woman who feels emotionally independent primarily needs from any relationship? Definitely NOT one resembling of a mom to a baby, or of the "lost one" to a "savior", but of true, powerful equals in which both gain from the relationship. I am looking to connect on a higher level. These days quality is worth more to me than quantity. Unlike a 20-year old, who might pride herself on being surrounded by as many friends as possible, I would be perfectly happy with a handful of sane, confident trustworthy confidants any day. 

                    So this year, running-wise, I feel I have gotten wiser and much stronger. I know this body I inhabit so well now. That is a gift from me to me and so my goals are more on the emotional plane. Relationship-wise, I feel satisfied with how my husband and I have grown so close and we relate on levels unmatched by other relationships I've had thus far. He is an honest to goodness true friend to me and I am to him. I don't think I can say anything to him and he'd be surprised, hurt, or closed off to me. He so deeply knows himself; I have utmost respect for all the growth he's helped me achieve. I can only wish to be as emotionally grounded as he is one day.  In addition, I will continue to seek deep and genuine connections with friends and colleagues in which we relate to each other as powerful equals, and with balanced intensity levels that allow us to grow and learn from one another. I will continue to fan the flames of relationships which help me feel powerful, brave and and who acknowledge and value my chosen paths. 
                    

Monday, December 18, 2017

Feeling blessed

             I am feeling very blessed this holiday.  With all the horrible things happening in the world lately, not for one minute do I take for granted all the great gifts I have around me. I have a sweet and caring husband, I have two loving, creative, bright and healthy children. My family is the best. My mom is the sweetest mom and grandma to me and my kids. I enjoy the company of close confidants and keep close relationships with both my siblings and a handful of simply amazing women whom I highly respect and dearly love. 

         As the year comes to an end I am reflecting on what to focus on in the new year. I think I am going to focus on these few things and if I were to attach a 'theme' to these goals I'd say the theme might be called"YES TO ME"

* Trust your instincts, always, first and foremost.
* Say yes to kids' requests for any type of quality time..yes, yes!!
* When angry, pull away, reflect and THEN act......or not.
* Remember to say, "Thank You"....It's such a small thing, but it shows you are paying attention. 
* No matter how much it feels like it sucks initially, early rising is always a HUGE gift 10 minutes later. 
* People's behavioral ugliness does not belong to me, do not carry it.
* Friends are people who want to know about you, are genuinely happy for your successes, comfort you in tough times and generally want to be in your life. Anything less is an acquaintance. 


Saturday, December 9, 2017

FEAR

            Fears, we all have them, and they present themselves in so many different ways. The other night I was listening to my 10 year-old daughter soulfully signing 'Someone Like You' from Adele from another room. It was just THE BEST sound in the Universe, but almost instantly after that, I felt that all-familiar tug of fear creep in. Fear that I'd lose her, and God, what if this or that happens to her, what would I ever do without this entity of pure love in my life? It was relentless, and sadly, it happens every time I feel blessed. The fear  creeps in and dampens every feeling of joy that exists and stains it red, with terror.  

               Over the years and after living the basic Buddhist tenets of "not believing in your thoughts" I have managed to keep these annoying and obtrusive fears at bay. I have faced many fears and after going through the same motions several times I came to realize that most of these fears are just harmless mirages. In 2013 when I ran my first long race I. WAS.TERRIFIED! The whole process from driving there, to the dark ascent to the mountain top, to seeing how such few runners there actually running the race and  all the way to seeing how much like a non-runner I looked (in comparison to the other runners) all filled me with sheer, sheer terror. BUT, I was there and forward was the only way to go. 

             Running fears are very different from regular life fears. We choose them, we pay for them, they are, in essence, artificially created fears placed by us in order for us to systematically uncover and reveal a source of strength we did not know we had. Fortunately, the lessons from these 'artificially' placed fears do translate their valuable lessons to real life. I know so much more about myself now. I know that no matter how tired I am I still have several hours' worth of energy stored within me, which can be tapped into anytime, all you have to do is believe it. I have also learned to shut off my self-conscious-speak, like when I might be feeling particularly vulnerable about the way I look in my running outfit, and instead just depend on a more nurturing and positive inner-voice to help keep focused and moving. I have also learned to love my own company. To be alone anywhere is a gift, I get to read think, make art, ponder, plan, reflect. This is a far cry from the insecure girl who would prefer anyone's company over the silence of her own head. Strength is the treasure found on the other side of fear and my life has changed drastically the minute I refused to let my fears dictate my actions or my words. 

            Next, comes my first 50-miler in March of 2018, which, as you may imagine, fills me with sheer terror. Not one day goes by in which I do not work at this goal emotionally, if not physically. I am slowly breaking this fear down bit by bit. The first tactical approach is the training, if you don't train for it, your confidence will not be where it should be and you won't feel prepared. Second, I imagine that finish line every chance I get. It's a pretty vivid narrative too, I pass that line, I am crying, I am exhausted, thankful, just wow!!! Third, and also super essential, I fill my mind up with stories of people that have done it. I scour everywhere for these stories and devour them all. I look at Facebook running pages, read blogs, watch YouTube videos of long races, I read race recaps, books, speak to people, ask questions. Last, I imagine myself at age 90, surrounded by grandchildren calling their grandma a "badass". Mental preparation is almost more than half the battle.  Convincing my brain to truly believe that IT IS possible is what's going to bring me that extra fighting power to bring me across that finish line. I have two and half months to get my body and my mind where they need to be so that I can conquer this fear.  

Monday, December 4, 2017

Cool Podcasts to Listen to While Running (If you must listen to something)



True Crime podcast

John O’Leary
Super Soul Sunday
Dear Sugar
Runners connect
Ordinary Marathoner
The Human Race,

Marathon Training Academy
300 pound and Running
Another Mother Runner
Running for Real
The Runner's World 
Personal Best
Running stupid



Gift Guide for the Runner in Your Life (2017-18 Holiday Season)

          I have made a list here of basically things I personally would love. But to give further background; I did not put sneakers here because that is a purchase I do myself and myself only. Second, I am not a huge gift giver or receiver. I usually buy myself everything I need so these are items I could not have enough of or maybe even not feel I could splurge on getting more than a few....but would love to....

        I love fleece hats. I cannot have enough of them for I am always losing them. So therefore, having new ones as gifts is always a win, win. 




     Sweaty Bands never get old. Yet, I stick to the thicker versions. 


DO NOT bother getting a distance runner cheap socks. They are often too thick and most of them sold in bulk are often all cotton. Smartwoold and Swiftwick are two brands I use and trust. My socks are like gold. I am still mourning the half a pair I eft behind at the hotel dryer in Miami two years ago...that is how much I value them. 


         She's gotta know something.....she ate this way and won the NYC Marathon....so, it's worth a look.




       Best gift I have ever gotten has been a gift certificate to a local running store. You cannot go wrong with this one. 



        Choose any workout gear from a race she once ran. Make sure the right year is on there and make sure, most importantly, that you have the size down. 


Medals pilling up? get a new rack? Etsy has a ton of styles at affordable prices. 


A running magnet for her car!! If she's already got all her #'s on there, choose a funny one....


This is gold. They seem very much behind the scenes until once day you need them and don't have them. 



Most likely she already had Runner's World. Yet, Trail Runner has the most beautiful pictures and amazing articles inside. 


Sunday, December 3, 2017

Second Rehoboth Matathon

Nothing is more exciting than Rehoboth, Rehoboth during marathon day! First, Rehoboth is a fun, magical place. Perhaps it's because I have memories of partying here as a young 20 something, or perhaps it's just that in fact, it is just a magical place, period. 


The marathon here is small, small enough you can park and run. race starts at 7am and is super relaxed. I got a ride there an hour early, picked up my race packet and walked to Dunkin Donuts to buy a coffee and warm up. It was not that cold but I tend to be cold. In line at Dunkin Donuts I met another runner who had driven from Pittsburg and was there to run her second full. We had so much in common and it reminded me how runners always click no matter how little they know about each other. She was a lovely person. 






I felt very fortunate to be here....

      My time was 13 minutes faster than my last marathon and I was super happy with the results. My goal for this marathon was to try my best to run the whole thing and I did just that with the exception of 2 quick bathroom breaks. To know that you just ran for 6 and a half hours straight without stopping is quite something. I use to be embarrassed about my long times but for someone like myself, who is already carrying lots of extra weight, it's quite a good time. I dare any 150 lbs. woman to carry maybe 50 extra pounds in a backpack and not do similar times as me....it's a physics. I know this, because despite my time, I know I gave my all there Saturday and in the end, that is all that matters. 















     This is the only marathon my family participates in with me. Most of them are logistically impossible and I personally feel better not having the extra hassle of planning when and where. But since the race has a great after party with THREE free beers per runner (and paid adult guest) the family comes every year. This year we stayed at the AmericInn Lodge & Suites Rehoboth Beach at 36012 Airport Road, Rehoboth Beach, DE  and I think this will be out go to hotel for the race from now on. It was an awesome hotel to stay at. First, the place is like a storybook lodge, the personnel is super friendly, lots of runners everyewhere. The decor is cozy and very much dressed for the holidays, the free breakfast is yummy, and......and.....(drum roll) it has a hot tub and pool opened from 9am-10pm, with an 11am check out. Last, they accept dogs at $25/day. So bring your family, your dog, your bathing suit....and make sure you stay an extra night so you can explore the local restaurants and the shopping. 

The best feeling in the world is laying down in bed, after a marathon and having showered and changed........nothing in the world like this feeling, nothing. I call it, "being on the other end of the marathon."...