Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Resolution Retrospect

As 2014 draws to a close, I thought it an appropriate time to look back at my 2014 resolutions to see just how well I did at sticking to my goals for the year.  Let me go ahead and warn you, this isn't going to be pretty. 
 
 
Here goes....
 
1. Running with water.  FAIL.  Despite receiving not one, but two, running water bottles (one to strap around my waist and one to slip around my hand) for Christmas in 2013, I still managed to complete all of my training runs while carrying no water whatsoever.  Don't get me wrong, I know how terrible this is.  I know how important hydrating is.  I just couldn't seem to remember to grab one of my water bottles on my way out of the door.  Maybe 2014 was the year of memory loss.  Luckily for me though, there are numerous water fountains along the trails I run, so even though I didn't carry it with me, I was able to hydrate some while I ran.
 
2.  Running with buddies.  UBER FAIL.  With the exception of this one half marathon I ran with two friends, my runs were spent in solitary.  I just never get asked to run with anyone.  Maybe it's me??
 
3.  Hills.  FAIL.  Are you starting to pick up on a trend here?  I could have probably guessed I'd fail on this one the minute after I wrote it back in 2013.  I do not like hills.  In theory, I'm a huge fan of them.  In execution though, nope, hate 'em.  I know hills are amazing for your training and I know I should work them in more often (you know, even just once), but 2014 was the year of flat runs.
 
4.  Foam rolling and stretching.  MINOR FAIL.  Okay, so on this one I wasn't a complete and utter failure, but I still wouldn't say I was great.  Foam rolling is something that I do pretty well.  This is probably because it's done laying down (my favorite position after a run)and  I know what a huge effect it has on my legs.  I realize that foam rolling is one of the best preventative measures I can take to avoid knee pain and avoiding knee pain is a huge motivator for me.  But stretching is another story.   I've really been terrible at stretching this year.  I think this year has felt especially busy and especially rushed, which caused me to cut nice long stretches out of my post-run routine.  Thankfully, The Bar Method forces me to get some good stretches in at least a few times a week. 
 
5.  Races.  PASS(ish).  This year I completed one full marathon, three half marathons, and one 5k.  I am very proud of the number of long distance races I completed.  However, I'm a little less proud of myself for only entering one 5k.  5k races are so fun and great Saturday morning starters.  I think this one will have to be a rollover resolution into 2015.
 
6.  Warming up.  FAIL.  Yeah, I just suck at this.  Sure, I start slow, but it's not so much for the purpose of warming up as it is simply out of necessity because my body is usually screaming, "Oh hell no.  Not this again." 
 
7.  Rest.  WORK IN PROGRESS.  I'm working on it.  I'm really working on it.  And, I think I'm getting a little better at it.  I know it sounds crazy to say that resting has become one of my major life goals, but with my recent health issues, I truly have moved rest on up around no. 1 on the resolutions list.  2014 started off crazy, hectic, and overwhelming, but lately, I've started to make real progress in the slowing down and relaxing department.  Just ask my waistline.  Now I just need to find that happy medium between rest and lazy.  Like I said, work in progress.
 
8.  Enjoy running.  SUCCESS!!  I can honestly say that I have enjoyed running this year more than any other year in my life.  In 2014, I finally feel like I've hit my stride as a runner.  I actually told someone the other day, "I'm a runner," and for the first time in my life, I felt like I was telling the whole and honest truth.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Holiday Greeting

Well hello there!  I just wanted to check in and say I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season.  I hope your Christmas was filled with holiday cheer and new running gear!!


Rocking one of my new running shirts.  We runners really look forward to Christmas.
I decided to take this holiday time to do exactly as the name suggests...holidaying. No work. No writing. No worrying. Just friends, family, relaxation, running, eating, and drinking. Oh, the eating and drinking.  So much eating and drinking!  As you know, time like this is very rare for me and I have a feeling I will pay for it when 2015 rolls around, but for now, I'm going to just enjoy it. 

On a side note, the most amazing thing happened. There was an official race picture taken of me with both feet off the ground. Finally, proof that I really run these things.  Normally, my "action" shots look as if I've entered a beginner speed walking contest. 

Two things: 1) Yes, I'm too cheap to buy the race photos and 2) A picture I'm finally proud of and the arm muscles of the lady behind me totally show me up.  Dang, those are guns!!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The First Mile

The other morning I was on the elliptical machine reading about female runners who had lost a significant amount of weight running when I read this quote and it hit home like crazy.


"And even now, the first mile is still the hardest."  TRUTH.

You should know that this morning, as I sat down to write this blog (it's been on my mind since I read the article), I realized that I was being hypocritical.  I could not write to you about the lesson unless I was willing to learn and live it myself.  So, begrudgingly, I slipped on my running shoes and my Garmin and set off on my first long run since the BSC Half Marathon.  It was a run I knew I needed to do, but I kept putting it off and putting it off because I also knew it would be hard.  And, it was hard....for at least the first 2 miles, it was hard.  But then, like it always does, the run stopped being so hard and started being a great.  After I finished,  I was so happy to have run and I couldn't remember for the life of me why I was putting it off.  That's the thing in life, the first mile is always the hardest.
 
The hardest part of any task ahead of us is just the getting started part.  I have been running for years, logging countless miles along the way, and never once has the first mile been easy.  Okay, who am I kidding?  The first three miles have never been easy.  Getting started is always the worst part.  The miles ahead are always daunting and intimidating.  No matter how many long runs I've made, there is still a voice inside of me asking, "can I do this?" 
 
Here's the thing, yes.  Yes, I can do it.  And, you can too.  No matter what the road ahead of you looks like, take the first step, make the move, commit to getting through the first, hardest part and before you know it, you'll be on the other side of it.  You can do anything you want, need, or have to.  You just have to decide you can do it and take that first terrifyingly hard step.  I promise you, after that step, they each get easier.
 

Monday, December 22, 2014

On The Road Again....almost

After a few days off from running, I'm back on the road again....well, almost. 
 
 
I'm back on the treadmill. People, it's cold out there.  Actually, it's not really that cold out there, I just can't seem to find the motivation for a long run outdoors just yet. After leaving it all out on the road last weekend, I've been giving the legs a bit of a break with just a teeny bit of running thrown in.  It was a week of mostly elliptical training and it felt good to take it easy. My body worked really hard to hit that half marathon PR and now it deserves a little R&R (rest and relaxation, not road running). 



Told you it was just a teeny bit of running.
My road running days aren't over. In fact, I imagine I will get back out there for a nice long run over the Christmas holidays. Because nothing says, "I'm ready for all of the Christmas candy, cookies, and wine that I can get my hands on," like a long run. 
 
 
 




Thursday, December 18, 2014

Race Recap: BCS Marathon + Half Marathon

Full disclosure:  I already knew I would love this race well before I lined up in Corral 2 on Sunday. 

For one thing, the race was held in the same town where I went to college.  I was really looking forward to running through campus, by my old apartments, and down the streets where I spent many a night with a Miller Light in hand.  What can I say?  I guess I'm getting nostalgic in my old age, but it's always fun to visit where you "grew up."  We get back to College Station about once a year for football games, but then we mostly just stick to the stadium and never get to really look around town.  Doing it on my feet over 13.1 miles was something I was looking forward to.

Second, and probably the biggest reason I knew I was going to love this race, was all of the pre-race communication.  Almost daily, the organizers updated the race Facebook page.  Sometimes with free giveaways, sometimes with random running facts, sometimes with sneak peeks at race swag, and sometimes just general race info.  Each time I would see an update I would get a little more excited.  It's awesome to feel like such a part of the entire race process, even months out.  It also let me know that the race organizers really care about the race and those running.  If I had to give only one kudos for the best thing about this race, I would have to say it was all of the pre-race updating.


Okay on to the race recap....

Pre-race:  First of all, after telling you that I'd double, triple, and quadruple checked my gear, I still managed to pack the wrong socks!!!  Seriously.  How???  Thank goodness we scored free Swifwick socks (my absolute favorite race socks) in our race bag.  Total lifesaver.  And, only you other runners will know that I'm not exaggerating when I use that term.  Socks can make or break a run.  

 
Hubs dropped me off for the race around 6:40 a.m.  The first thing I noticed: how awesomely uncrowded (word??) the corrals were.  Often you get packed in like sardines before a race, but this race had the corrals perfectly spaced and perfectly marked with all pacers holding clearly marked signs.  This meant, I felt totally comfortable about where I should start the race and I also had plenty of room for pre-run stretching, warming up, and general nervous tension moves.


Before the race started, the race organizers showed a motivational video on several screens at the start line.  I can't lie, I got teary.  I wonder if this happens to anyone else, but I get so emotional before a race.  Tears come really easily for me in the corral.

  
The race started off fine enough.  I know I'm always updating you on the weather, so what I can tell you about race day weather is that it was way better than I'd expected.  Yes, it was humid, but the temperature was perfect (meaning all of the spectators were in coats and hats and all of the runners were in tanks and shorts) and it was dry (thank goodness!).  I have no complaints about the conditions in which we started to run (I do think for the marathoners though, it did start getting really warm near the end --- sorry full marathoners. My sympathies are with you for multiple reasons). 
 
The crowds were great.  Now, this is a "smaller" race (says the girl who is used to running the Houston Marathon, which is HUGE) of only 4ish thousand runners, but still the spectators were awesome.  I've written about it before, but there really are no words I could ever put together to adequately describe how I feel about all race volunteers and spectators.  THANK YOU!!!  Thank you for your signs, your bells, your high fives, and your free fruit.  Races wouldn't be near as much fun without you. You inspire me. 

Running so fast, the picture blurred....ha ha.
 
Actual running:  I was really focused on running my own race.  I was getting passed left and right as the race started.  So many people were passing me that I kept double checking  the pace runner in front of me, expecting to see that I had lined up with the wrong pace runners.  To say it was discouraging having runner after runner fly by me, is to significantly understate the truth of it.  It was very hard watching so many people overtake my pace.  But, I stuck with it.  I was convinced that I could make up any losses I accumulated in the first few miles.  As people ran by,  I kept repeating to myself," This is your race.  Run it your way. Don't worry about anyone else. They don't know what you are about to do."  It was just before mile 6 that I got sick of being passed  decided then and there that I was going to run the hell out of the rest of the race.

And, run the hell out of it, I did.  I began really kicking it after mile 6. My focus literally shifted from external to internal.  I was laser focused and very determined.  I found myself in a bit of a hole by mile 8.5 and I was willing my legs to keep turning.  By Mike 10, I knew I could get close to my PR, but I knew I had to push to do it (keep in mind, I didn't realize at the time how off my Garmin was). This is when you start playing games with yourself. You start saying, "this is only a 5K, I can run at 5K pace."  With one mile out, I was trashed. My knee was killing me (mom, don't worry. It wasn't injured, just hurting) and I was exhausted. But, still, I kept at it. I was close to my PR pace (again, so I thought based on my Garmin) and I wasn't going to get that close and miss it. Then, came the greatest race gift of all: A DOWNHILL FINISH!!  Thank you BCS Marathon. I have never been so grateful to see downside of a hill in my life. 

I finished leaving it all out on the course and I was greeted by a young man with Down Syndrome who placed my medal around my neck and told me good job. You know what else he did? He hugged me. A solid, way-to-go, awesome hug. And I can't tell you what that meant to me. For 13.1 miles, almost 2 hours, I was running my race. Surrounded by people, I was alone in my head and in my race. To get that physical acknowledgement of what I had done and from such a special person brought tears to my eyes (yeah, I know, more crying. It's kinda my thing). I should also note that the race organizer stands at the finish line and literally greets every single run, from first to last. Like I said, it's a special race. 


Now to the good stuff: the food and drink.  I skipped all of the post-race food. Mostly because we had brunch plans after my run and also because right after a race like that, my body is not ready to chew/digest anything. But it looked good. What was GREAT though, post-race, were the free margaritas. Oh my gosh. The margarita was amazing. Forget post-race beers. Ritas are it for me.  Ritas forever. Thank you BCS. 


And, about an hour later, I say my exhausted legs down with this in front of me: 
 

The restaurant was along the full marathon route and as I ate I watched them run by. I knew the journey they were on and I was all at once inspired by them and jealous of them and also so grateful to already be in my chair gorging on fried deliciousness. 

As you can tell, I loved this race. I would recommend it to anyone. I can't think of a better ending to racing in 2014. 






Monday, December 15, 2014

Spoiler

My recap of yesterday's race will follow soon, I promise. But in the meantime, I thought I would send out this one small spoiler beforehand.

Nailed it (though, today it feels like I'm the one who got nailed). 

I set a new PR for myself.  And in my world, this blows away my previous PR from several years back of 1:56:46.  I, honestly, could not believe my time.  What I mean is,  I truly refused to believe this was my actual time until a couple of hours ago.  You see, my Garmin was apparently way off.  I know it was because it gave about the same time as the actual gun time on finish line, which I knew was wrong since I didn't start near the front or gun time.  But, I still couldn't believe that I had shaved so much off of my pace.  My legs could believe it (OUCH!!!), but I couldn't.  The Hubs kept telling me that the results were right because he was watching my starts and splits times the whole race and he swears it all matches up.  I've even stalked all of he comments on the race Facebook page to see if anyone has reported too-fast results.  Nope.  Apparently, this is legit.  I actually killed this race.  I think it set in just as I typed it.  A new PR!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

One Day And Counting....

We are at one day and counting for the BCS Half Marathon. Actually, as I write this, it's 11 hours and counting. 

I woke up feeling really sore and tight this morning, so I spent about half and hour foam rolling and then another half hour stretching. I keep a yoga sequence saved on my tv for days like this, but this morning I wasn't feeling it, so I just searched YouTube for 'stretching for runners' and found a great video (do you still call them videos?!?  I guess "video" died along with Blockbuster stores, huh?). 

Pigeon Pose

After doing around-the-house chores for the rest of the morning, it was time to pack up for the race. Let me tell you, this is very stressful for a runner. The idea of getting all of the way out of town without my socks or Garmin or Lord-forbid, my shoes is terrifying. I must have ticked off my running list five times before finally deciding I had it all (please let me have it all!). 



We drove straight to the expo for packet pickup. Expos are always fun. I rarely buy anything, but I love looking. 


Luckily, I have an amazing friend from college who lives up here and she is letting us crash at her place (visit a long-time friend and have a free place to stay, this race weekend is already awesome!). She took us out for dinner tonight at Amico Nave and the pasta was AMAZING.  Of course it would have been better with wine...

Not my actual meal.  I ate mine way too quickly for there to be pictures.
And now it's all about the couch and bad Saturday TV movies. 






Friday, December 12, 2014

On The Bright Side

This work week has been looooong. It's been stressful and busy (not really bad, just super busy...and stressful... and busy... did I mention that already??). Several times I found myself thinking, "I am way too busy, this stuff will never get done before my deadlines, and there is no way I can go out of town for a race this weekend."

But, then two things happened that have me looking on the bright side. First, it's Friday. Things always look brighter on Friday!  Second, I opened Facebook and saw these from the race coordinators. This made me very happy and very excited to run this weekend:

 

And even the weather is looking on the brighter side. A teeny tiny bit. 


And what makes me the happiest of all?  Carb Loading. 







Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Not So Encouraging

Well, this isn't exactly the most encouraging of news:
 
 
I keep telling myself not to worry, the weather in Texas changes ever hour  (or is that just Houston??).  Unfortunately, this forecast hasn't changed in days.  It's looking like it's going to be a wet half marathon in College Station for me.
 
I don't mind too much that it is going to rain while I run.  What I mind is that it might be raining while I wait to run.  That is the absolute worst!  I can't stand just standing in the corral waiting to run as rain pours down on my head.  It's not natural.  What's natural, when the sky opens up on you, is to try to get the hell out of the weather and find a nice, warm, dry spot where you can wait it out.  That, or at least pop an umbrella out over you. 
 
Time to turn this negative thinking around.  They say never to stress about things that you have no control over (you remember that I'm trying to work on my stress levels, right?).  And, the weather is certainly one of those things that I have absolutely no control over.  It is what it is.  I will run on Sunday come rain or shine.  But, if whoever does control the weather is asking, my vote is for shine.
 
 


**What's your favorite rain/run gear?  If it's raining, even a little, I throw on my trusty visor.  It keeps the water off of my face and out of my eyes.  I'm iffy on rain jackets.  I have a great running rain jacket, but I always get hot and sticky in the rain, so I usually skip it if I'm actually going to be running. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

7-Eleven

Seven facts about my eleven mile run this morning:

1.  I decided to take it nice and slow today. I've been pushing pace a lot lately and figured it was time to trust in my speed and just get the miles in. Thank you to my neighbors for reminding me to take it easy. 

2. Pretty sure this is illegal or something, but it still made me smile. 


3.  Anything over 10 miles requires some serious distraction for me. I love my marathon mix and all, but today's run called for a new audiobook. So far, it's pretty entertaining. Thank goodness the trail was relatively empty this morning, because I found myself laughing out loud. 


4.  I was overdressed again. It's December, so my brain tells me it's time to layer up. After three miles, my body tells me to stop listening to my stupid brain!  By the time it was over I had my shirt tied around my waist and my headband around my wrist and I was still hot. Tank tops in December... thanks Houston. 

I haven't had much sleep this weekend and damn, it shows!  Remember when we were young and could go without any sleep and still look fresh-faced and relaxed?


5.  The fence decorators are at it again. 'Tis the season. 


6.  Got two thumbs up today.  This one was the first: 
The second came from a passing bicyclist passing. As I ran, I heard from behind the usual, "On the left." But then as the cyclist passed me, he gave me a big thumbs up and yelled, "You're going great."  Thank you stranger. You reminded me why I love it on the long run with all of you other people. 

7.  And, the first rule of fight club is...



***Bonus pic: 
I have a very sweet husband. He may sleep through all of my long runs, but at least he knows how to feed me afterward. 







Friday, December 5, 2014

Single (Digit) Minded Thinking

Well, we are officially single digit numbers away from race day.  In nine days I will have run my last half marathon for the year.  2014 training will be over.  And that's got me thinking....

 
Pre-Race Thinking.

I can't help but thinking I'm under prepared.  As I the race approaches and the realization that in nine days I have to run 13.1 miles hits me, I can't help but second guess myself.  I can't help but think I didn't train long enough or hard enough.  I know it sounds crazy because I've spent a long time in training (due to almost back-to-back half-marathons) and I've followed my training program really well, but there is still that voice whispering, "it's not enough."  I think this feeling simply comes from the fact that a half-marathon does not take as long to train for as a full marathon.  Because I keep my weekly long runs at a decent distance year-round, I'm never starting from the couch-stage.  I can usually get in shape distance-wise relatively quickly for a half marathon.  Maybe it's because of that that I find myself always doubting my preparation as a race approaches.

I'm also starting to think about tapering.  Knowing that this weekend's long run is the last significant run I will do before the race is a weird feeling.  I may throw in a short easy run early next week, but I am basically down to one more training run.  Tapering is such a weird feeling.  You know that your legs need the break, but your brain starts going a little crazy while you wait to run.

Post-Race Thinking.

I'm not going to lie, I've already got my eyes on a nice little training break starting in ten days.  I'm not going to say that I won't run at all for the rest of the year, but I sure won't do any training for the rest of 2014.  I don't know exactly how to explain it, but running while you're training is just different than running for the sake of running alone.  It has that "have to" element to it and after months and months, it feels less like a choice and more like a job.  I'm looking forward to a nice little break.
 
And, knowing that I have a nice little break coming up has me thinking of what I'm going to do with my extra time.  No. 1 on the list: drinking on Fridays!  What can I say?  It's the holiday season and I don't need any more reason that that for wanting some Friday wine.  Also on my list for things to do with my spare non-training time: Bar Method.  I have noticed that my muscles just aren't what they were earlier this year.  I've only been averaging about 2 classes per week lately and I am SO ready to get back to 4 classes a week.  I can't tell you, although I always do,  what Bar Method does for making me feel strong and lean and what feeling strong and lean does for my self-esteem.  Okay, so that's about it.  After nine days, drinking and Bar Method are going to be my main goals for the remainder of 2014.  They may not noble, or very compatible goals, but nonetheless, they sound good to me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Relax?!?!

Relax --  It's one of my least favorite words and one I don't react all that well to hearing.  Just ask my husband how, "calm down," goes over in our house.  Relax.... yeah, as if it's that easy.
 

Lately, I've been hearing the phrase, "relax," more than I would like.  In the last couple of months, I've had numerous medical tests (none of them fun or relaxing) and the good news is, there is no evidence of any disease or injury or other medical condition.  I am healthy!  The bad news is, there is no explanation for my symptoms and no treatment for the pain.  Do you know what my doctor keeps telling me?  He keeps telling me that I need to relax (now obviously, he hasn't talked to my husband about what that phrase does to me). He says that my symptoms are likely stress induced and that I just need to work on being less stressed.  You can only imagine how relaxing it is to be told that there is nothing that can be done for your symptoms and that you will continue to face extreme pain, unless you learn how to remove all stress from your life and live in peaceful tranquility.  Just in case  you didn't catch it, that last sentence was loaded with sarcasm. 


As you can imagine, I haven't been very happy about being told to relax.  In fact, I've been pretty un-relaxed about the whole damn thing.  I've told anyone who would listen (willingly or unwillingly) how absolutely stupid it is to be told to relax.  I mean, WTH?!?!  RELAX!?!?  As if it's that easy.  As if I have some sort of choice in the matter.  Life is STRESSFUL.  I am STRESSED.  I don't like being stressed.  Of course I don't want  to be stressed.  Of course, being relaxed and peaceful all of the time sounds wonderful.  It's not like I'm intentionally choosing to be stressed....
 
And then there it was, right in that exact spot of my monologue.  There was that voice.  I don't know where it comes from (inside, the Universe, God??), but you know what voice I'm talking about.  And you know what that voice said, right then, right when I was lamenting about how I'm not choosing feeling this way??  It said:
 
"Oh, but you are."
 
BAM!!  So, there it is.  Oh, but I am.  I am choosing to be stressed.  Stressed isn't something that is done to me, it is a choice I make about how to react to my circumstances.  Sure, things happen that are out of my control, but my reaction to those things is 100% under my control.  Isn't that some bittersweet news?  It's so easy to blame everyone and everything else for making you feel stressed out (it's not my fault, it's the fault of my job, my lover, my friends, etc.).  It's so hard to accept responsibility for the not so great feelings you are having.  But. isn't it also nice to know that we have the power to change how we are feeling?  Just as I have chosen to feel stressed out for the last.....I don't know, all of my life, I can now choose to RELAX.
 
But, how?
 
Now, that's the question.  How do I break the cycle of responding to life with stress by choosing calm?  I think it's going to be very long and very deliberate process.  Changing ones habits is never easy.  But, I've come up with the first step in my quest for relaxation:
 
RECLASSIFICATION - I came up with this theory as I was going through the list of all of the things I have to do during a day that make me feel stressed out.  As I made my list, I realized that the majority of things on the list were actually not things I "had" to do, but things that I "wanted" to get done or things that "could be done" or things that "could wait."  Not everything from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. were things that I had to do.  I need to reclassify all of the "haves" on my list to what they really are. Reclassifying doesn't mean I won't still jam all of the things on my list into my day, but when I'm not staring at a day full of things I have to do and instead looking at a day full of some things that I have to do, but plenty of other things I want to do, or would like to do, it's suddenly not so stressful.  Instead of being upset because I HAVE to get to the gym by 5:30, I can be happy that I'm getting to do something I want by working out in the morning.  It's all about perspective.  Doing things you want to do is way more fun than doing things you have to do. 
 
 
Like I said, I think the road to stress-free for me is very long and certainly won't be solved by reclassification alone, but if I start now with one small baby step, somewhere in the long run maybe I'll manage to find this relaxation thing everyone keeps talking about.
 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Manifesting

Sure, I fantasize about food all of the time when I run. The further I go, the more I picture all of the foods I want to eat when I'm done (fried chicken, ramen, ice cream, cupcakes, and on and on). 

Yesterday, during my ten mile run, I must have been thinking really hard about something sweet, because I literally manifested a pie right there on my trail. Forks and all!!


Don't worry. I may have manifested this sweet treat, but I did not digest it. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Off/On Topic

No running talk today.  Please bear with me while I go off (but, oh so on) topic.
 
Our country (the world, for that matter) seems to be in the middle of a whole array of social crises (racial profiling, domestic violence, marriage inequality, domestic violence, just to name a few).  What I keep hearing over and over on both sides of the conversations is the idea of "them" and "us" and "they" and "we."
 
But, here is the thing we are missing.  Here is the thing that we must grasp.  Here is the thing that without, we have no hope of leaving this place any better than we found it.  Here is THE thing:
 
THEY ARE US.  WE ARE THEM.
 
We are so focused on our perceived differences, we are missing the most important fact of it all: we are all the same.  We were created as ONE MANKIND.  And, sure, that one mankind comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes and colors and religions and sexual preferences.  But those variations don't compare to, compete with, or diminish our overall sameness.  No matter what color, sex, nationality.  No matter if we are gay, straight, Christian, or Muslim.  We are first and foremost, human beings.  We have all of the same hopes, dreams, and fears.  If we stopped for one second to see the sameness in us all, the differences might not look so big.
 
When one of us is hurting, instead of judging or feeling judged, what if we asked what we could do to help?  What if we decided to truly listen to each other instead of speaking over one another until there is nothing but screaming and noise?  What if we realized that in taking care of each other, we also take care of and better ourselves?  What if we accepted that when one of us is raised up, we are all raised up?  When one of us hurts, all of us are lessened. 
 
They are us and we are them. 

 


 

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksrunning

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

Today is all about one of my very favorite things: gratitude. I can't tell you how much gratitude means to me.  Life is hard and exhausting, but it is, more than anything, breathtakingly beautiful. Recognizing all that is good in this world is the key to overcoming all that isn't.  I have said it before, but it is with saying again, it is impossible for depression and gratitude to exist together. 

Let me expand on that.  There, literally, is not enough room in your head for depression and gratitude. You can have one emotion or the other, but not both. The beauty is, you get to choose which emotion exists in there. You can choose to be grateful.  I have to admit, this concept is much easier for me to grasp, than to put into actual practice. But I'm working on it. I recently started a gratitude journal to help me acknowledge all of the blessings I am given each and every day. 

A few of the things I was grateful for on my pre-turkey run today:

1.  Fall. Yes, I realize it's winter in most of the country, but it's looking like fall in Houston. And, fall isn't something Houston sees very often. Here the trees usually go from full green to immediately bare. It's wonderful seeing the trees with some color. 


2.  Running into girlfriends on the trail who you can scream, "happy Thanksgiving," to as you pass by. On a side note, Ashley and I must be on the exact same running schedule (which is to say, no schedule at all). I swear I see her every time I hit the trail. Now I just expect it and look forward to it. 

3.  Pandora One. No commercials!!  
 
 
On that note, 90's Pop Radio is NOT a good running station. Were we really that melancholy and whiny in the 90's?!?

4. Now that the weather is cold, Kleenex. You other runners will know what I'm talking about.  For the rest of you:


5. People who want to spread the good word. 


As you know, I come across all kinds of greats signs while I run, and I promise you, I never take one of them for granted. Every single time I come across something like this, it's not just the message displayed (in this case: "give thanks" and "enjoy family") that I appreciate, it's the person behind the message and their intention that really touches me. When I see that someone out there has taken their time to send a message to me, I can't help but think, "people are GOOD," and " the whole world is good."  Please know, I am so, so thankful for all of you word spreaders. 






Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Lonely

This was the gym when I walked in this morning:

 
Okay, I know I go pretty early, but it wasn't that early.  I mean, this is just plain old creepy, scary movie type stuff.  You know, if there had ever in the history of man been a scary movie set in a gym (there hasn't been.  I googled it.  Well, except 'Carrie.'  But, that was a different type of gym).  So setting aside the creep factor, what's up with the empty gy?   Has the holiday slacking really begun?
 
Do you suffer from holiday slacking?  Do you stop getting in your usual workouts during November and December only to start back fresh in January?  If so, and judging from the gym today, you aren't alone. 
 
Personally, I don't have this problem.  The holidays are usually right around the time I'm stepping up my workouts.  This is for two reasons: 1) I'm usually training for a marathon/half marathon.  The Houston Full/Half Marathon, which I have run 3 of the last 4 years, is in January, so November and December usually find me really getting into the long runs; and 2) Two words: calorie + deficits.  I LOVE eating holiday foods.  I can't imagine passing up the mashed potatoes and gravy, and you know I'm not passing up the Christmas cookies (or the wine).  Here is the thing, I'm just not that into feeling guilty about food.  I enjoy eating.  I enjoy eating big meals with family.  I enjoy eating cookies pretty much all day, every day.  Getting in good runs beforehand helps me feel good about myself and skip all of the guilt.  
 
PS -- Even if you don't get in good workouts, please skip the guilt.  We have so many more things to worry about in this world than how much we eat during the holidays.
 
PPS -- Retail chains are catching all kinds of the heat for being open on Thanksgiving.  Well, WTH 24 Hr. Fitness?!?!  Give me (and your employees) a break!!  Judging by today's day-before-Thanksgiving turnout, there is no need to be open tomorrow.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nothing Nine

This weekend's long run was nine miles long. I wish I had a really good lesson or interesting story to report. But I've got nothing. So bear with me during this useless nine mile summary. 

I was WAY overdressed. 
It was 68 degrees when I stepped out of the car to start my run. Now, I know 68 degrees is plenty warm enough for a run, but the wind had a little nip to it and I was just way too comfortable in my jacket (and I'm a Texan, so 68 degrees is a little chilly to me). I've been a runner long enough to know better.  Even as I took off I was telling myself I would regret it. And, I was right.  I regretted it like crazy and ended up running most of the miles with a jacket tied around my waist.

I've started doing this new thing with my Garmin and I think it's really helping me on my runs. Instead of keeping it on the main/first screen where I can watch my current pace, I've started leaving the Garmin on the screen that just displays my average pace. I can't explain exactly why, but this small change has helped me with negative splits and more effective pacing SOOOO much.  I think that maybe before I was just constantly trying to keep my goal pace up the entire run. Only watching my average pace is helping me figure out how to take it easy (using that word loosely- running is never easy) in the beginning so that I can close really fast (again, using that word loosely).  I'm definitely going to employ this Garmin strategy during my next half marathon in three weeks (3 weeks?!?!). 

Even though the run was uneventful and not really blog-worthy (sorry), it was still pretty awesome. Apparently, I quickly forget how much I like long runs. Yes, they are hard. And yes, sometimes finding the time to squeeze one in is inconvenient. And yes, I envy the hell out of The Hubs as he stays snuggled up in bed while I treck out early on a Saturday. But, there is nothing like the feeling of finishing a long run. The feeling of accomplishment mixed with exhaustion is something I haven't been able to duplicate anywhere else but in the long run. 

Oh, and did I mention the feeling of hunger?  Luckily, I'm married to the world's greatest man and he had this waiting for me as soon as I walked in the door.