Saturday, August 24, 2013

To everything there is a season and a time.

I've been feeling fairly inconvenienced lately. I have been indignant almost when it comes to running lately. Training for a marathon takes a lot of time, and if I'm being honest, I haven't even been putting in as much time logging miles as I should be. Getting up early to run, going to work, not eating dinner in order to get in a solid night run, and then going to bed in order to repeat it all the next day has really been wearing on me. I feel like I can't do anything I want to do. Though the truth is that I feel good while I am running, and I feel better throughout the day when I've started off with a workout or run.

Today I was really able to feel the seasons changing. Granted, it is still a bit early for the changing, but it is happening nonetheless. The cooler mornings are allowing me to run a little later when the rest of my schedule allows, and I even saw leaves falling from trees today. They looked like bits of glitter shimmering as they fell to the ground, and it was absolutely, beautifully humbling. How can I be bitter about training when I get to witness this beautiful world?

When I went back out tonight, I was grumbling before I even got out the door. I didn't have water to take with me, I couldn't find my reflective shirt, I wasn't going to be able to go as far as I wanted to, and the list went on and on in my head. I played a podcast of an NPR program, and the topic of the segment just happened to be about helping others, which pretty quickly put me in my place. How can I be so upset about something I should cherish dearly? I ran past a nearby park, and I was reminded of how much fun I used to have running through the local park at night like a maniac with a group of friends playing Army Tag. Why have I complicated and sucked the fun out of something I love? Running and being active are amazing gifts that I can choose to use fully, or fully take advantage of. The trick is that every day, I need to choose the fullness that I want in my life.

Live fully. Live on purpose. Be thankful.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Are you afraid of the dark?

As a 90's kid, I would say that I am definitely afraid of the dark because that TV show was seriously scary for a 3rd grader. Now that I am older, I wouldn't so much say that I am afraid of the dark, but running before the sun rises or after it sets has definitely solidified the fact that I am apparently afraid of everything else. Now, I have had some cases for legitimate concern if you have read about my craziest week ever, but it turns out that I may still have some residual fear from that week and other experiences. So what is there to be afraid of during a run in the dark, you ask? Everything. I will spare you a long list, and I will just explain the three most frequent frightening experiences for my runs in the dark.

Obviously SPIDER WEBS: I freaking hate running into spider webs. I am sure nobody enjoys it, but seriously? How can I hit every single one! I swear I hit all of them, but these don't help you when your are running. Fear can give you a pretty good jolt, like the time I almost got a bunny killed or almost got hit by a street sweeper! Those actually made me run faster after they scared the crap out of me, but not a spider web because you have to spend a minute or two standing there looking like a complete nut case trying to get the stupid thing off before you can start running again. You know what I'm talking about!

Privacy Fences: Ok, so maybe the actual privacy fence isn't all that scary, but what's on the other side sure can be! I was so startled by a small dog on the other side of a privacy fence last week that I actually shrieked a little out loud. The woman up the street watching her children play in the yard looked at me like I was crazy, but for some reason, when those little dogs rush up to a privacy fence barking when the sun is setting or has just set, it scares me more than usual. I guess it's just because you can't see them coming, but I have got to work on holding in the shrieks in the future to avoid looking crazy. It is very easy to zone out the world when I am running, but it is times like last week that I am reminded that people can see and hear me when I am is easy to forget sometimes.

My hydration belt: It sounds strange at first, but I have been repeatedly scared by my hydration belt on a run in the could say that it has even happened more than once in a single run. How? Simple. Once about half of the water is gone, the sloshing of the water can tend to sound faintly like steps underneath the sound of your iPod. Seriously, I cannot tell you how many times my heart has skipped a beat and my feet have picked up pace because I suddenly thought that someone was running up right behind me when it was only my hydration belt.

But seriously, running the dark has it's perks, but there are also things to aware of. Be sure someone knows when you are headed out for a run in the dark, and a rough estimate of when you should be home if you aren't able to tell them where you'll be running. Even if you live alone, it is good to have a friend or family member you can at least text to let them know what's up. Don't forget that reflective gear or clothing is always a good choice in the dark, and make sure to run so that you are facing traffic to see what is coming towards you. Give a little extra time for cars to see you when crossing the road, and make sure not to play music so loudly that you won't hear someone or something coming up behind you. Run smart and stay safe!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Racing Recap: Midsummer Night Series 5K

Hanging w/ Dad Pre-race!
I have finally done it. I ran a sub 30 5k race. I have no problem running sub 30 on a 5k run by myself, or with friends or family for fun, but I have never done it at an actual 5k race for some reason. (Note: I am not trying to imply that races aren't fun with that statement.) I have had a pretty good week in general, but I have been slacking some on my training lately because I have bitten off more than I can chew like I typically do.

So besides the new race time, nothing really eventful happened during this race. So instead I will share my usual thought process besides the Six Stages of Running that I have explained before. I'm not sure if I am the only one who does this, but hey, it's something to distract your mind from wanting to slow down or stop. I usually pick a person out, mostly at random, and I decide that I am going to either pace off them without letting up, or that I will pass them and run as hard as I can to make sure I don't let them get back in front of me. It's mostly at random because I usually try to pick old people, which tends to backfire most of the time, so I should probably rethink that.

Thanks for running with me Matthew!
The course for this 5k was a three loop course. I picked a lady to pace off of today about half way through the first lap. I waited until I got through most of the congestion of the start, fell into a steady pace, and picked out the nearest old lady in front of me. I lost her for a bit at the end of the first lap because Matt popped up next to me to tell me that I started out way too fast. He was right, but I ignored him, which also tends to backfire.

On the last lap, I could tell the woman realized I was pacing off her, and she didn't seem pleased. Then she pretty much left me in the dust. I'm not sure why she got so annoyed. I wasn't right up on her heels or anything, but I sped up a bit, and then she looked over, and I immediately saw a look of recognition and annoyance on her face. Then again, maybe she was just playing the head game I play when I decide not to let a random person pass me, only I was her random person. Who knows. Either way, I have a new official 5k race PR.

Exciting news: I am so happy that I am finally making the transition into a fitness related field. I will get to combine my passion for people and my passion for running! I was offered a job at a local running company, and I am so excited to begin this new journey. For a long time, I felt guilty about wanting to leave the education field because I have always wanted to do something that would make a difference in the world, but I have come to a realization. Leaving a mark on the world is all about the relationships you build, the way you live your life, and the way you treat people in general. I am grateful for all that I have learned during my years teaching, and I am grateful for the relationships I have built so far, but I am also excited to step onto a new path.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

True Beauty

Wow. Life really is amazing. Sometimes all a person needs is a leisurely walk on a beautiful morning to remind them how awesome this life really is. I have had a rocky week following my impromptu half marathon, with my busiest week at work so far this summer and the lingering weariness from a long run, but I knew that when I woke up this morning at 6 without the grumbling internal dialogue, that I was ready to have an amazing day. I took the time to sip my coffee slowly and really enjoy the moment, and I knew that instead of going for my usual long run today, I would benefit much more from a change of pace, literally.

I set out with the intention of going to walk laps around the nearby high school track, but when I got there, the chain was still on the gate. With the sun peaking out from the clouds and the crisp autumnal air awakening my senses, my eyes were opened to the beauty of the world around me. I resolved that 2013 would be my year of thankfulness, and with all the stress and craziness that has been surrounding me lately, I haven't been taking the time to look for the good and blessings in all situations.

I was reminded on my little walk this morning that it is all a matter of focus. I have not been practicing contemplative simplicity in my everyday life. And as much as I have been telling myself every morning to live on purpose, it seems as each day progresses, I let go of the purpose. I know that I am extremely blessed, and I am so thankful for all that I have been given in this life. God has been very good to me through his infinite grace. I am extremely thankful for the beauty of this life I have been granted, and I was reminded on my walk that I am also immensely thankful for the beauty of this earth that I am able to experience. I am thankful for my mobility because I know that not everyone is as fortunate, and I am thankful that I am able to experience all of these things one more day. We are never guaranteed tomorrow, so we need to be thankful in every minute of each new day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Live on Purpose

I ran a half marathon this morning. Not a race, just me and 13.1 miles of road. No race adrenaline, no aid stations, no spectators, no porta-potties, no medal or post-race party waiting at the end. Yeah. Turns out that it is a little bit tougher mentally to do it that way. It makes me a little nervous with a 22 mile run ahead me without any of the race hub-bub. Yes, the actual marathon is 26.2, but then I will have all the perks of a race to give occasional breaks from the mental solace of running for that long. 

People always talk about the mental barriers and introspection that comes along with running long distances. 13.1 miles is the longest distance I have ever run, and today I finally did it all alone. Step one of mental training; check! I was sort of groggy when I first rolled out of bed, but I had my mantra for today, and I knew that I purposely set my alarm for 5 am. I purposely set out before the sun was up, and I purposely set out with a goal of 13.1 miles in my mind. It is time to live on purpose.

The great thing about running long distance is that you really have to examine who you are, and then determine who you are going to be. There are times in life, and in running, when you have to put doubt and your insecurities aside, and you have to believe in possibility and remember that you can do anything for 10 (or however long your endeavor lasts). It's a matter of shutting out the voice that says, "you can't." I hit the wall where the, "you can't," was getting louder and louder, so I walked a bit, and I texted Matt and my sister Grace for some encouragement. 

Eventually, I got over the mental hurdle and just kept moving. I love the part of a long run when you realize that the distance you have left to go is minuscule in comparison to the distance you have already traveled. When that feeling finally kicked in, I looked down at my watch, and I realized that even though I was letting the mental block get the best of me for awhile, I was still going to run my second best time for the half marathon distance. Each day and each decision is a new opportunity to live on purpose.