Tag Archives: life

What’s next

I feel like I’ve been in a training cycle since I started running a little over a year ago mostly because, uh, I have.

The minute I started running in March 2013, I started training for longer and longer races, with the goal that I would run a marathon within that first year. And let me tell you, ramping up your distance during a Texas summer to prepare for your first half marathon in early September is super fun. Plantar Fasciitis sidelined me for a little bit over the winter so my training became about recovery and getting stronger, always with the goal to ramp up again for my recent 20 mile trail race for a good cause.

This summer will not be about training.

summer1

So what if it’s not white sand and turquoise water? Still a pretty great view at Lake Grapevine.

Every time we go on vacation somewhere by the ocean, I tell Jason how much I wish we could live near a body of water and how I would never take it for granted, swimming and running along the beach and exploring. Which would be all boo-hoo for me except we do-we live 5 minutes from a lake with beaches and trails and marina’s and parks that I have barely explored.

This is the summer that changes.

Wild flowers running riot at Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve.

Wild flowers running riot at Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve.

I want to keep my weekly mileage somewhere near where it was a few weeks prior to this recent race-about 15-20mi/week but that is my only guideline.

This summer is about adventure. A lot of my adventures will involve running (and hopefully getting out on to new trails) but I also want to hike, to swim, to walk along the edge of the water, to learn how to SUP.

I still have some big running goals-as I mentioned in my last post, an ultra is on my radar-but for this summer, it won’t be about training and racing (unless I want to), it will just be about fun.

I’ve already gotten started.

A year of running

I realized on my long run this weekend that I haven’t acknowledged a pretty important milestone: March was my one year running anniversary.

I’m not sure what day but I know it was mid to late March-in fact, I probably ran the Mesquite Canyon half marathon at pretty much the year mark.

And I’ve learned a lot in that last year. Lessons like:

1. Don’t do it if it’s not fun. 

I’m not saying that there won’t be challenges or low points but anytime I started to view running as a chore, I’m missing the point. Because running IS challenging and it can be hard and if I can’t remember what I love about it and what I find fun about it, then I see no point in putting myself through pain or struggle out of obligation.

Photo credit: Moving pictures

Photo credit: Movin pictures

2. Nature is it’s own reward.

Being out on the trail first thing in the morning when the light is filtering through the trees, watching a butterfly pass by, the way water sounds as it scrambles over rocks-these are just some of the many reasons that trail running has captures my heart. Being part of the larger, wilder world puts us in touch with our soul, at least in my opinion, and reminds me that miracles are much more common than we think. I mean have you ever stopped to consider how amazing it is that water can smooth down a rock without using force? The intricacy of a flower or the art of a butterfly’s wing? Nature is the most epic art project ever and when I’m out running, I get to be part of it. That is pretty cool.

trail run 4-26 1 trail run 4-26

3. Pain is temporary.

The tough parts don’t last. The blisters, the stomach issues, the dehydration headaches-none of these discomforts are permanent. Which leads me to my next lesson:

10 miles 1

4. Pain is worth it.

I am most definitely NOT advocating continuing to run when injured or when your body just can’t get past the heat or cold and is telling you to stop. There are limits and they are different for every person. But anytime I’ve kept going, even when it was tough for whatever reason, the sense of accomplishment has been so much sweeter.

But I honestly think that a lot of times what stops us is discomfort, not actual pain. I know I want to stop if I have a headache or my blisters hurt or my stomach is upset but every time I don’t, I feel stronger, more resilient and more confident in who I am.

Photo credit Aravaipa Running

Photo credit Aravaipa Running

5. You will learn patience whether you like it or not.

Boy have I. When I was forced to rest because of injury. When the training plan didn’t go as planned. When I was at mile 10 of a 13 mile run and just want to be done. When it’s just a bad run and nothing is going right but I was determined to get through it. All of these things and more have taught me to keep going when there was no gratification or reward in sight and to trust that the gratification will come.

6. You can do way more than you think.

If you give it enough time and don’t push, the mileage you thought was crazy will become common place. The distance that scared you will become a training run. IT DOES GET EASIER. Your body can get used to just about anything with enough time and persistence.

7. The simple things are the best things.

It always amuses me how my priorities change when I’m out in the woods or in a race. In the ‘real’ world, I find myself getting frustrated if it’s too warm or cool in my office, getting impatient if I have to wait in line or if an app on my phone takes more than a minute to download. But out there? An actual bathroom that’s in a building with a sink is nirvana. And oranges slices at the aid station? PRAISE THE SWEET BABY JESUS. I am constantly reminded of what’s really important.

8. Runner brain.

I don’t know if anyone else calls it this but you know how after a long run in 90+ degree heat you can’t articulate to your husband what you’d like for lunch? How in the middle of a run you wonder what Scott Baio is doing these days? When you pass a vertical arrow on a course (pointing straight ahead) and you actually think that the arrow is pointing up and telling you that you’ll have to start climbing? I call this runner brain. It’s fun. :)

brain

9. It’s not all about running.

Weird, I know. But as my love and understanding of running has grown, running has opened me up to more in life that has nothing to do with running. Because of running, I’ve been inspired to get involved with the community more, to get back into something creative and to get more connected with my friends.

All in all, it’s been a fun year, one that has shown me so much of myself. I’m sure I can’t even imagine what the coming years will show me.

Now

Oh hey! Remember when I used to do a blog thing? Well it seems that I forgot about it for a while.

But hey, I’m back!

There is a lot to catch up on (like a trip to Palo Duro canyon for my birthday and running the Mesquite Canyon half marathon in Phoenix with the hubs) and I couldn’t possibly do it all in one post but I wanted to share what’s been happening with me right now.

spring walk1

Mainly because it’s finally feeling like spring around here and I finally have something to share other than holy crap it’s cold and I want to die.

spring walk3

I’ve been running in the morning during the week and it’s wonderful. WONDERFUL. It’s cool and brisk, dark and quiet, just me and my feet. Along with the running, I’ve now integrated strength training as a regular part of my routine and I feel like it’s made a difference.

Work, which I know I never talk about, is going really well with a recent promotion. I already love the people work with but moving into a new role has been really fun and I’m grateful.

I’ve even been playing around with clothes a little bit, actually.

A non running selfie. I know right?

A non running selfie. I know right?

Another reason I think I’ve been quiet lately is that at the beginning of the year I wrote down some ideals for the year and I’ve been integrating them more into my life. It’s felt like a mostly quiet process thus far but as more good things take hold, I find myself wanting to talk about them.

So you may notice a different direction on the blog. As you can see from the header alone, my focus is expanding beyond just running in the dirt to include a renewed interest in creativity (yes, I might be sharing some art *gulp*) and the adventures of my life in general.

There’s more to share, in much more detail but I wanted to say hi there and that I missed this place. Good to be back. :)

New year, new trail

For several years I chose a word for the new year or made a list of goals or intentions or tied notes to balloons and set them free.

Last year I did none of that. This time last year, I was feeling worn a little thin, feeling stagnant in my job and in life. No real direction I wanted to go or goals I wanted to pursue. If you had told me that I would discover trail running and it would become a passion, a way of life, I probably would have strained an eyeball rolling them at you.

Fast forward to today and Jason and I found ourselves at a new trail with the sun on us. This is the life I want now and I intend for this day-exploring somewhere new with this guy I like a lot, eating good food and laughing at each other-to be an example of the year to come.

sansom1sansom3

sansom2

Sansom trail is close to Ft. Worth, a fairly short drive for us in light traffic, and is holy crap scabbly and hilly. Or as Jason put it, that trail is a BEAST.

The area is actually a system of single track trails barely dug into the hills that all seem to be interlocking and looping into each other. They aren’t well marked and we basically stumbled around a couple of them, cobbling together for about 3 miles before we called it quits.

While more trips out there would get us more familiar with the trails and where they go, these are not trails that I could ever relax on. Too hilly, too technical, too steep, too rocky. Which is awesome-that is just the kind of practice I need. :)

After that little excursion, we went to Chuys to eat.

sansom4

I feel sorry for people who don’t live near a Chuy’s, myself included. I fell in love with their awesome mexican food when we lived in Dallas and there was a location 10 minutes away from us. Now that we live in the burbs, there is not one anywhere close to us (and what would be close to an hour drive in normal traffic puts a damper on things) so we don’t get to eat there very often.

In fact, Jason convinced me to try this trail by saying we could eat there for lunch afterwards.

SOLD.

Unlike last year, I have plans and dreams and goals for this year-things I can’t wait to do, that I’m anxious to get started on. I did choose a word for this year as unlike last year, I don’t feel unmoored and uninterested. Consistency-more of what I love, a life full of it.

What about you? Dreams for this year?

How I ran, week of 12/16

Monday-Upper body and core. Usually, I like to do this with several sets of free weights that we have as I watch reruns of NCIS. Big Bang Theory also works.

Tuesday-Stairs, stairs, stairs. I don’t like running stairs but I feel strong after running stairs so I suck it up.

Wednesday-a comfortable 4.5 mile run in the mid 60’s around my neighborhood.

Wait, what? It was daylight when I started running? It's a christmas miracle!

Wait, what? It was daylight when I started running? It’s a christmas miracle!

I started feeling a little of that twinge in my arch that I initially felt at Rugged and Raw and has led to weeks of decreased/no mileage and started to freak out a little bit. And then I remembered that I wasn’t in a race and trying to hit a certain time so I could take a walk break and it went away. Any time I felt even a hint of the twinge again, I simply walked for a few steps and then started up again and that seemed to work.

Thursday-Because of the twingey-ness (that’s a word), I took the day off to give my foot a full day of rest.

Friday-a shorter (2.5 mile), chilly run once again around my neighborhood. It was in the mid 60’s at lunch time and had dropped 20 degrees by the time I pulled on my running tights after work. Winter in Texas-FUN.

For some reason, running in the woods in the dark felt uncomfortable to me this week. I don’t know why-I’ve never had an issue when I do but I decided to trust my gut and just stick to the streets this week.

It’s okay though because so many of the houses have their Christmas lights up and I just love to see all the decorations and color.

week of 12-16-2

 

We also watched Desert Runners, a documentary that just came out this week. Have you seen it? It was so wonderful to watch. Yes, the running feats are amazing but what I loved most was the personal stories and transformations of the runners. I would absolutely recommend watching it and it’s only $10 on iTunes.

Saturday-I woke to rain and it continued throughout the day so we stayed inside and cuddled with the dogs. We did manage to get out that evening though to watch The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I liked it way more than the first Hobbit movie, which I thought drug on quite a bit. This movie is still over 2 1/2 hours so there are some draggy parts too, but over all, I thought the story really ramped up and the characters began to flesh out more.

Sunday (today)-I had planned on this being the one day I could get out on the trails this week but the incessant rain left the ground boggy still this morning so yet again, my run was done in my neighborhood. I haven’t done this much pavement running in I don’t know how long.

When I walked the dogs this morning, with temps in the mid/high 30’s, I saw a guy running in nothing but shorts and a jacket. I take a different approach to cold weather running:

week of 12-16-1

like approximately 14 layers of clothing

Five chilly, windy miles later, I felt sufficiently worn out and ready for the bliss of a hot shower.

I’ve started taking pre-emptive walk breaks and haven’t felt any of the twinges that I felt earlier in the week, thankfully. Keeping fingers crossed!

After the run and shower, I shoved as much food as I could down my pie-hole and took a nap. My favorite way to spend a Sunday. :)

How are you dealing with the cold temps? Favorite piece of cold weather gear? (no one ever answers my questions but I’m going to keep asking because I really would like to know).

How I ran, week of 12/09

Monday-Stairs. A lot of stairs. I’m still careful to wear shoes with arch support inserts but my foot no longer feels weak when I do this, and I couldn’t have said that a month ago. I’ll take it. I finished off the stair session with some lower body strengthening, as per doctor’s orders to improve overall biomechanics, not just my feet but ankles and hips as well.

Tuesday-35 minutes spent trying to give a crap about the treadmill. That probably equates to about 3.5 miles.

Wednesday-This was an unplanned rest day. I worked late, had several meetings, just didn’t get a chance to get a work out in. Oh well. I tell myself that I need these.

Thursday-a 3 mile run around the ‘hood, with a short rest break to say hi to Charlie and Goldie, two of my favorite neighborhood dogs, who were being walked by their mom, Becky. I’m that person.

sunset neighborhood

Friday-I spent most of friday afternoon at the office christmas party on the rock climbing wall or playing laser tag or shooting hoops (we went to a place called IT’Z-which has an arcade, bowling, pizza buffet, games, etc). Not an official workout but I had a nice little sweat going at one point so I’m claiming my time there as a cardio workout. ;)

Saturday-Deck the Trails, 3 mile off road race. I’ve been antsy to get back into racing, even if I can’t do some of the longer distances quite yet and convinced Jason to join me at the last minute.

The race was held at a nature park and to be honest, wasn’t really what I would consider a ‘trail’ race. Two-thirds of the race was either on soccer fields, cross country style, or on paved roads through the park. We only had about a mile on actual trails.

At the start line and smiling even though it's cold as balls

At the start line and smiling even though it’s cold as balls

For all my desire to get back to racing, I was a complete brat for most of this race. It was cold and windy and wet and I was not happy with the lack of trail I was actually running on.

The aftermath of running through wet, muddy soccer fields

The aftermath of running through wet, muddy soccer fields                                               

Plus I am realizing that 3miles/5K is a hard distance for me. I feel like I don’t have enough time or distance to get settled into a pace, which means I often push too hard out of the gate even though I know better and end up unable to maintain the pace later on, therefor completely negating any advance I had in the first mile.

So when I came around the last turn and saw the finish line clock at 30:something, I did a double take. I felt like I completely blew that race and ended up with a PR at 30:58. Go figure.

Sunday (today)-Sitting on the couch like it’s my job. Occasionally intervals spent in bed. The end.

The weather is finally getting a little warmer and sunnier so I’m hoping to get out more next week.

How are ya’ll faring? Warming up?

An ode to my yoga mat

day 1

 

Every morning at 5:15, my alarm goes off.

Shilo sticks his big shnoz head under my blanket and gives me kisses, saying good morning. I smile because as far as wake ups go, it’s a pretty good one.

hi there

Shilo says herro.

I get up and on most mornings throw on some running pants or sweats and stumble downstairs, four dogs lumbering behind me. Because of Iceapocalypse, lately I’ve also added a pair of leggings under neath the pants and a long sleeve shirt over a tee shirt but regardless, we all head downstairs where I don a hat, coat and gloves before letting the dogs outside.

Leashes come on. Walks are had. Keely resists getting the leash on because she is not a morning dog and would rather go back to bed. But walk they must so out into the cold we go. The streets in my neighborhood are dark except at corners where street lamps cast a circle of yellow on the pavement.

I get back, get them some water and myself some too. Then I go into the kitchen and grab my yoga mat. I have no fancy yoga room, no peaceful space with buddha statues to spread out in. My mat goes on the tile floor next to our kitchen table that is currently cluttered some plants we brought in doors for the winter and running crap-a bottle of Jason’s, a headlamp of mine.

I sit. I breathe. My body lifts into the movements that have become second nature for me.

I lift my head. Inhale. Fall forward. Exhale. Jump back and lower down. Then push up. Stretch in downdog and then look forward. Inhale. Move my feet up to meet my hands. Exhale.

Often I come to the mat cranky or still tired. Often I think about just going back to bed instead. But it’s the mat I go to, at least five days a week.

My heart rate increases and my muscles warm up. My body sinks into the poses I’ve done a million times, thanking me for doing them a million and one.

When the poses are finished with a reclining gentle twist (sidenote: this post helps with…uh…elimination, shall we say. You’re welcome), I sit up again, close my eyes and start to breathe. Just breathe. Silently, I say mantras to myself, whatever I happen to need at the moment. A couple more beats of silence. Then I open my eyes and the day tilts and settles.

It’s only ten or fifteen minutes. I don’t achieve nirvana. I don’t come up with answers. But those few minutes changes my world.

I can’t really explain what it is about yoga that is so transformative and really, I have stopped trying to. I think there should still be some mystery around this practice, something sacred.

All I know is that the person that gets off the mat is not the same one that sat down on it. As much as running has taken over my life, yoga is still the baseline for me. It is the foundation on which I can build anything else. My mat becomes another world, one where I am my most authentic. Yoga is me at my best and my worst. Yoga is the place of no judgement, just breath. Yoga is me open and vulnerable, it is also me at my strongest.

It is my sanctuary.

Do you do yoga? If you are a runner, do you find that it helps?