Sunday, June 30, 2013

Running Proud

Happy Pride!

I planned today to write about the monumental decisions made this week by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding gay marriage.  This week the Supreme Court recognized what so many of us have known for so long: We are all in this long run together and it doesn't matter how you get to the finish line.  What matters is how you treat your fellow runners on the way to the finish line.  I had every intention of running in honor of and writing all about my joy over this week's events. 

That is, until I read this and realized it had already been written, and written perfectly:
PLEASE click this link. 

What I will say on the topic is that getting and being married to the person I love with every ounce of my body, heart, and soul has been the greatest thing I have ever done.  I remember thinking that the simple act of saying some vows and signing a legal document wouldn't really change or enhance our relationship, but it has.  Getting married changed everything and in a way that I can't accurately put into words, but feel with every fiber of my being.  I just KNOW that it matters.  And what I also just KNOW is that what the Supreme Court did this week was RIGHT.  It was the RIGHT thing to do and I am thrilled that so many wonderful women and men are going to get to experience the fiber-changing thrill of marriage!!!

So, that's what I thought I would be writing about today.  But, you should know something about this blog.  I really make these runs and I really  think about what I want to say while I run.  It usually happens one of three ways: (1) I have an idea of what I want to talk about and I use the run to focus on that idea and expand on it; (2) I have no idea what I'm going to write and I just let the freedom of the run open me up to ideas; or (3) I have an idea of what I'm going to write, but then find that the run changes it all.  Today's run was one of those runs.

As I ran proud, three words kept coming through to me:  PEOPLE ARE GOOD.

I don't know where exactly this thought was coming from.  I think that it was because as I was thinking of the Supreme Court rulings, I also had to think of the vitrol, ignorance, and fear that surrounded the rulings.  Also, this week in Texas our legislature met to vote on a bill that would effectively eliminate a woman's right to choose.  I probably don't have to tell you that this process had its fair share of vitrol, ignorance, and fear.  Yet, while thinking of all of the bigotry and sexism that went on this week, all that I could hear was: PEOPLE ARE GOOD.

And you know what?  PEOPLE ARE GOOD.  Sure, people can be uneducated, afraid of change, skeptical, and damaged.  But at our core, PEOPLE ARE GOOD.  How do I know?  Let me tell you.  A month or two ago I started a plan to make a weekly donation to a worthy charity in order to help me feel better about myself.  What I've found is that there are thousands and thousands of worthy charities out there run by people who want to give voice, change, and hope to those who can't find it for themselves.  I could make a daily donation to these charities and never run out of worthy charities.  What I see every week when looking for where to make my donation is that for every injustice out there, there are groups of people fighting to right the wrong.  PEOPLE ARE GOOD and they want to make this long run better for everyone.  Even for donkeys.  That's right, there are people out there who even want to make life better for some abandoned donkeys.  This world is full of people doing good.  Daily I find and am inspired by "ordinary" people just like me who are devoted to making this world a better place.  I am inspired by these people and I am reassured by these people. 
Let me tell you about another small way in which I am reassured of the GOOD in people.  Paul's mom is regulated to a wheelchair or on some occasions she can manage a very, very slow and labored walk.  As you can imagine, this can cause some difficulty in getting out of the house and around.  But let me tell you, PEOPLE ARE GOOD.  In all of our trips out of the house people have never failed to be anything short of wonderful towards us.  Waiters, flight attendants, and average Joes have shown us kindness beyond courtesy.  I have seen people jump up and hold the door for us for at least five minutes.  They could have been out of the door, into their car, and long gone before we ever made it and yet there they are, total strangers, going out of their way for us.  PEOPLE ARE GOOD.  It is our very nature to be good.  I just KNOW it. 
How do you KNOW that PEOPLE ARE GOOD?  Does it come into your life in thousands different ways like it does mine?  Do you take it for granted like I do?  Maybe if we could just start recognizing and honoring the GOOD IN PEOPLE, we could put an end to the vitrol, ignorance, and fear out there. 
If you have ever taken a yoga class then you have probably uttered the word "namaste."  Namaste can be translated loosely to "not me, but you" and is often taken as "the light in me sees the light in you."  What if we all did a little namaste-ing??  What if we all recognized the light in each other? 
So, carrying on with my earlier goal of finding something to to be grateful for on each run, I am gratful for the light in people.  For the GOOD IN PEOPLE. 
Oh and also, I ran right past this on my run today:


An honest to goodness charity to rescue misplaced donkeys. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Slow Starter

Today was the offcial Chevron Houston Marathon kickoff party/run.  This is where I should be posting the picture of me holding my official "in training" shirt....except that I slept right through it.  Then, once I was awake, I threw on my running clothes and took myself directly to get a pedicure.  Looks like I am still in the denial phase of training. 
All that said, I have decided to go with a sixteen week training program again (I may throw in an extra week or two to allow for an off week or injury rest).  So, I still have plenty of time before my official training kick off.  Until then, I think I'm going to start to try different run programs aimed at improving speed.  Although, in my case the aim is to create speed.  You can't improve what isn't there to start with.  I'll be doing fartlek programs and negative split trainings.  Or, at least, as I lie here on the couch, that's what I'm planning.

Today's positive non-run takeaway: My toes look great!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

More Reasons...

As if my list of reasons for running wasn't long enough.  Now we get this great news:
Thanks for all of the runs, babe (again, he doesn't even read this).  And looking forward to many more!

Just us.  That guy was not involved,

You can ignore that thing on his face.  I did for the entire month of Movember

Again, just us.  We aren't those kind of runners.

If my other reasons weren't motivation enough....



Monday, June 24, 2013

Marathon On My Mind - Boston Revisited

This morning I found out that my name has been drawn to run the Chevron Houston Marathon.  I’ll write more on this once I can digest, accept, and come to terms with the idea of running another 26.2 miles.  But today, with the marathon on my mind, I find myself thinking a lot about Boston on April 15, 2013.
 I am sure that by now everything that could be said about the horrible events of the Boston Marathon bombing has been said.  But please bear with me as I address it here.
Just like the rest of the country, I was shocked and horrified at the evil that overtook what should have been a triumphant and inspiring moment.  But having run and finished 26.2 miles myself, I felt especially stung by the events.  This was personal.  I felt as if the people that did this tarnished something that for me was about so much more than just running.  I didn’t know what to do.  Of course, I could and did make my donations to the Red Cross in the hopes of helping out those directly affected.  But I longed for something more.  I needed a connection.  So, the next day my husband and I joined some friends and a running group and we took off pounding the pavement in honor of the Boston Marathon.  It might sound like a small contribution, and it was, but it was not insignificant.  Later in the day, I found out that runs in support of Boston were organized all over the city, state, and country.  There was the connection I was longing for.  We runners (and non-runners) in one day came together and did all we knew how to do.  We ran.  It was a reminder of the bond that we all share.  It was a symbolic showing that we are all in this long run together and when we fall we will  join together and rise up and keep running. 
I will forever be struck by the line, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.”  That’s exactly it.  A marathon embodies the good in people.  First, there are the runners who put themselves through a grueling 26.2 miles for the pure joy of accomplishing a goal they set for themselves.  Let’s face it, most of us are not out there to set world records or make an Olympic team.  Most of us are out there because something inside of us burns for the challenge and for the accomplishment.  Second, there are the volunteers.  These people get up very early in the morning to watch a bunch of strangers running by while holding out water/Gatorade or by calling out our pace or to set up medical centers or anything else we could possibly need.  Lastly, and I swear the most important group of all, the wonderful and generous crowds.  Those who show up with signs, and bells, and music, and mostly just with their voices to cheer us along.  If you have never experienced it, let me tell you, these race day cheerleaders are the sole reason half of us make it across that finish line.  Human nature at its finest.
That afternoon in the rain and humidity, I left my earphones in the car and I used the 3+ miles to reflect on what my marathon experience had meant to me and what had been taken from those in Boston.  The only fear I faced while running was of not reaching my goal pace.  I never had to fear for my safety or for the safety of my loved ones gathering to cheer me on.  I cried several times during my marathon, but only tears of relief and release, nothing compared to the tears of loss those runners must have cried in Boston.  My marathon run was a shining example of all that is good in humanity and the 2013 Boston Marathon will forever be tarnished by what can be so wrong with humanity.  What I realized while we ran that day was that I had never been truly grateful for the 26.2 miles I had run.  Now I am.
And now, as I face the idea of running it again, I ask of you these two things:
  1.      Be grateful for all of the runs you have had that have been safe and fun and fear free.
  2.      Do not let evil win.  Be the proof that humanity wins, always.  Participate in a marathon.  Run, volunteer, or cheer.  God knows I will need you along for the run.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Journey and the Destination

I have always been a goal oriented person.  Even as a young girl, I was goal driven.  I was a gymnast and that by its very nature demands a single minded and dogged focus on attaining perfection.  After years and years of setting and chasing goals, it is now at the very core of my being.  I suppose you could say that so far on this long run, I’ve been pretty destination focused.

Focusing on my destinations has taught me many things along the way.  I am not afraid to test myself.  I know that if I say I’m going to do something, I will.  No. Matter. What.  I have learned that when I make up my mind, set a goal, and dedicate myself to it, there is no finish line I cannot reach. 
However, I realize now that in the process of running with my focus soley on the finish line, I’ve really missed out on the race.  There is a popular saying that life is about the journey, not the destination.  And while I am not sure I fully agree with this thought, I understand the sentiment behind it and I’m ready to take in a little scenery while I run.  In my new journey, I want to observe the beauty around me and I want to help others find the beauty in the run.  I want to learn to let the journey fulfill me on the way to the destination.
It was in this spirit that I recently set out on a quick run before dinner while I was visiting Austin.  I found a trail and set off to enjoy the run.  And I did enjoy myself as I tested myself (it was at least 90 degrees and not a cloud in the sky).  It really was a beautiful trail: tree covered and along the water.  I was surrounded by other determined runners, kayakers, paddle boarders, and some wonderful scenery. 

I would stop and take pictures and continue on my “loop” run.  Until that is, I finally realized the “loop” was no loop at all and I was lost.  Totally and completely lost.  I had no idea where the road before me would end and I wasn’t sure of the road behind me either.  What started as a four and a half mile joy run turned into a 9.2 mile test of my strength, stamina, and courage.  I was exhausted and I was hurting.

Thank Goodness for my concerned friends!
You see, it turns out, without a goal, you really don’t know where you are going.  And by the time you figure out where you need to be, you’ve got to loop back around and revisit roads you’ve already traveled and just in general, made the run longer and more difficult than it ever needed to be.
So, where do we find the balance?  How do we keep our eyes on the finish line and our hearts open to the journey?  My friends, I don’t know the answer.  I wish I could solve the riddle.  I started this blog in hope of providing you (and more likely me!!) with some guidance in getting through this long run.  But finding balance continues to elude me.  I struggle to lead a goal driven and purposeful life and also to be open to receiving the joy of the run along the way.  What I can tell you is that I will continue to try.  I will continue to focus on the road in front of me and I will do my best to look up and take in what’s around me.  In doing this, the real struggle may be not to trip and fall!!

And the real failure of it all - I had this map with me the whole time.



Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sometimes it Stinks

It's a fact.  Sometimes running just plain ol' stinks.  But when it does, and there's no way around it, hold your nose and run like hell!!

Today's lesson: Avoid neighborhood runs on trash day!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to the man who taught me that there was no run I couldn't tackle.  Any success I have had along this long run started with you (and mom).  Love my daddy!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Short and Sweet

Here is one of the best lessons we can learn  Do me a favor, don't learn it the hard way.  Just take it from me:
Don't wait until your loved one has cancer to get in some good quality time on the road.  Do it now.

Okay, so we don't run.  We walk.  But, when I do it, it's really one and the same.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Running on Empty

I thought about this blog for a very long time.  But, I could never start it because I could never come up with any sort of solution.  I was exhausted and stressed and I didn’t feel like I could write about it because I hadn’t found any lesson in it….until now.

I have to tell you I am running on empty lately.  I mean, no gas in the tank, sputtering along, fumes coming out of the engine, running on empty.  This long run is plain ol’ exhausting and I can’t seem to get off the treadmill.  Not only can I not get off the treadmill, I swear someone keeps speeding it up every time I feel like I might be hitting a good stride (Is this treadmill defective??).  Forget leisurely jog, this run has me sprinting at full speed just one misstep away from sliding off the back end and right onto my ass.

Possibly the world's worst and also most appropriate selfie.

I am sure that being a man is hard and has its own set of stresses and maybe we’re all equally stressed out, but I’m not a man, so I can only speak as a woman and being a woman is HARD.  We are expected to work as hard (harder if we want to receive any recognition) as any man, stay thin, and strong, and perfectly coifed.  God forbid your toes aren’t perfectly polished, your hair isn’t thick and straight and parted perfectly, your teeth aren’t impossibly white, and your skin isn’t sun kissed (even in the winter!).  We are expected to be natural homemakers capable of whipping up a gourmet meal with five ingredients and no cookbook.  We should keep a spotless house able to pass any surprise white glove test.  We are supposed to be sexy and sexual.  And we are supposed to do all of this with ease and a smile.  Oh Lord, and then there is the whole other messy topic of being a mom, which I won’t tackle beyond to say, “How do you do it?!?” 

But seriously, how DO YOU DO IT??  Are you really accomplishing all of this as well as you look like you are?  Because I tell you, I look around at all of you as you fly by me and you do not look like hot messes.  In fact, you look good.  You make this run look easy.  You look like you’ve got it all together and I am jealous.

How you look to me.

How I feel as you fly by.

I can’t lie, running on empty has got me pretty bitchy these days (I can admit to this because my husband does not read this blog).  There is no doubt I’m a pretty miserable running partner.  Lately, I find myself resentful of my own exhaustion.  Even “tasks” that I normally enjoy have me ready to explode.  On more than one occasion I have had some full blown meltdowns over the tiniest of comments that I construe as criticisms.

All in all, I guess you could say I have been too exhausted to enjoy the run.

And then I got the perspective I needed.  This weekend I stumbled onto an old Oprah and I was introduced to Nick Vujicic 
And if you didn’t just click on that link, let me fill you in: The man has no arms and no legs.  Not two arms, no legs.  Not two legs, no arms.  Not one of each.  The man HAS NO ARMS OR LEGS.  And still, the man travels all over the world as a motivational speaker.  He manages to walk, travel, minister, motivate, and on and on with no arms or legs.  Now that has got to be truly bone tired exhausting.  And yet, Nick is thankful for what he has been given.  How can I complain about my tiring days when I have been given full and healthy function of all of my limbs?!?!  And right then as I sat there cracked wide open and crying uncontrollably I realized what I was missing…APPRECIATION.

"Just an observation: it is impossible to be both grateful and depressed. Those with a grateful mindset tend to see the message in the mess. And even though life may knock them down, the grateful find reasons, if even small ones, to get up.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
From now on, I’m going to practice the art of appreciation.  When I find myself at my absolute lowest, I’m going to force myself to find three things to be appreciative of and I’m going to use that appreciation to continue moving forward.  For I know that this run is going to hurt at times.  My feet will ache and my legs will falter.  But appreciation will keep my spirit from sinking to the level of my feet.  With appreciation, my spirit will fly as my feet drag along.  And who knows, maybe if I keep at it my feet will start to follow my spirit.
A few things I was grateful for on this weekend's HOT and exhausting run:

I am grateful to the City of Houston for continuing to develop and improve the Buffalo Bayou running trails so that I can run with a view like this.

At times when the road I planned to run is impassable, I am grateful for those trail blazers ahead of me who have laid out an alternate route.


I appreciate that there are people out there who want to make public parks safer for me to run. 


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy National Running Day!

I run....
  • For those who can't.
  • For the challenge - running is HARD!
  • For the ease - Throw your shoes on and go.  No driving, no membership fees, no waiting for machines.
  • To say that I do.
  • To know that I can.
  • To clear my head.
  • To clear my conscience - Let's face it, it's not uncommon for me to have a multiple cookie kind of day.
  • To sweat it out.
  • To give thanks for what I've been given - not everyone gets the chance to run.
  • Because not that many years ago I had to train to run one mile without stopping.
  • The free stuff in the race day goody bags -  Specifically, the T-shirts.
  • To see the beautiful signs of life all around me.
  • A little alone time with my ipod - Thank you Beyonce, Christina, Madonna, Britney, Fergie...
  • To prove to myself that I am strong, that I am fit, and that I was made to run.
  • To be inspired.
  • To be inspiring - Even if to just one person (me?).
  • Running buddies!! - More about them coming soon.
  • Sometimes they serve free beer after the races.
  • To reconnect with myself.
  • To disconnect - No emails.  No texts.  Just me, my feet, and the trail in front of me.
  • Because one day I will be one of those who can't and I don't want to look back on the road behind me and wish I would have spent more time running it!
Now, feel free to use one of mine or pick your own reason, but get out there today and run like you were born to run.

Enjoying a free post drink beverage. Cheers to you!!
Look what I scored tonight on my run.  It's a free shirt!