Running

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Unleashed

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

I live a block from a city park where Foxy has made a lot of dog friends. There’s a huge grassy area in the middle, and a lot of dog owners have taken to letting their pups off leash to run like banshees. The Fox loves it, and there’s no better way to tire her out than to have her chase dogs 5 times her size.

The only catch: it’s illegal. I’d been warned by the other dog owners that city officials will ticket if they catch you with your dog off leash; the first time is $80, the second is $150, the third is $300, and most everyone I’ve met at the park has been ticketed at least once.

So yes, I’ve been warned. But I’m Annie Parsons and live on the edge of danger.

Today, on this beautifully bright morning, I bundled up and walked Foxy to the park. The sun was gleaming off the snow, and she couldn’t wait to chase the ball I’d brought. I did a quick spin-around and saw that the perimeter of the park was clear of any city trucks, then unleashed her to run like the unrefined mongrel she is. A few other people showed up, and we chatted as our dogs romped.

All of a sudden, one of the women hissed, “TICKETER.” And sure enough, walking toward us was a man, notepad in hand, his white Parks & Rec truck at the curb.

So I did what any self-respecting person would do. I grabbed Foxy and ran.

I ran full speed in the other direction.

One glance over my shoulder, and I saw the city man about-face and head for his truck. He was going to circle the block and head me off at the corner – because is this girl seriously running?

But the thought of an $80 ticket was sickening, so I picked up speed, blessing the tread on my Sorels as I beat across the ice.

I made it to the edge of the park, and turned to see the truck about a half block back on the other side. The light was red, but we crossed the street anyway. I cut through a neighbor’s yard and into the alley behind my house, crouching behind the fence just in time to see the truck pass us by. Just like the movies.

And when I finally made it through my front door and locked it behind me, I closed the curtains, put my hands on either side of Foxy’s little furry face, and collapsed into a pile of giggles.

Seattle Half-Marathon: ch-check

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

On Sunday, I ran the Seattle Half-Marathon, and man alive, was it fun.

(I just really think that “man alive” should be brought back as an exclamation – “man alive,” and “hot damn.”)

Back in September, I had the thought, “I want to train for something.”  So I went online, looking for a race that would be in a city that I wanted to travel to, and a course that I would like to run.  I realized that Seattle had a race on the Sunday after Thanksgiving; I did the math, and figured out that it was 12 weeks away, to the day.

Serendipity (not the movie) – I started training that night.

The 12 weeks flew by, and before I knew it, I was standing in a crowd of 11,000 people before the sun came up on Sunday morning.  I didn’t train with anyone, and I didn’t run with anyone – I just showed up, jumped into the sea of runners, stared at the people around me, and then ran across the starting line and didn’t stop for 13.1 miles.

I know that I’ve written about running before – how it’s not something that I’ve historically loved, how it’s not something that comes all that naturally, how the fact that I currently consider it one of my hobbies is utterly flabbergasting to me.

But there I was, by my own volition, running my third half-marathon.

For the first 10 miles, I ran a 9-minute mile pace.  For a girl who never runs faster than 10-minute miles, I don’t know where that extra jolt came from – all I can think is that training at Mile High and then dropping to sea level is the way to go.  The last 3 miles were a bit slower, but in the end, I cut 6 minutes off of my previous best time, finishing in 2:03:13.

As I ran, I was struck with how much FUN I was having.  I was just so happy -  traveling through my favorite city on earth, my body cooperating better than I could have hoped, carrying me up hills and around turns and past the man with the hairy back and the woman with the long, whipping, Texas polygamist compound braid.  I watched the people cheering on the sidelines, laughing at some of the signs (i.e. “Worst parade ever”).  I saw my mom and our friend Lisa three times along the course; they win the prize for the best navigation of Seattle streets.  At one point, I swear, I think I saw Vili Fualaau.

I ran uphill, against the wind and the rain.  I thought about the last several years, and how hard they’ve been, and how good they’ve been, and how the road has been uphill and against the wind and the rain – but man alive, this place is beautiful, and hot damn, I’m still breathing.

Running uphill

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Well, well. It seems that yesterday’s post was the blog heard ’round the world – that was the most visits I’ve gotten since December 1, 2010.

In the event that you’re new here, welcome. I’m Annie, the curator of this here little web log, and I live in Denver, where the weather is currently 27 degrees and snowing. I’ve been told that for having a desk job, I lead a pretty exciting life – and a lot of the time, I have to agree, although it’s probably worth arguing that I just like to make a big deal out of the dull. I’m hungry all the time. I order the clothes in my closet according to ROY G. BIV. I’m working really hard toward becoming debt free. I don’t own a single pair of leggings.

Here’s a little glimpse into my present reality.

I’m less than a month away from the Seattle Half-Marathon, and my training has been going super well. I’m excited to run this course through my favorite city (if you’re familiar with Seattle, check it out – such a fun and scenic route). I know that there are a lot of hills, and I’ve been figuring out how to run hills more efficiently. My über-runner friend Mark Miller always says that when running uphill, one should keep the same effort level, but not necessarily the same pace – which is relevant to my life right now.

I’m heading uphill, and trying just as hard – but just going a little bit slower.

Several months back, I found myself at rock bottom in the ditch of all ditches – down with the muskrats and the snakes and the creepy crawlers – with no clear and easy way out. I’m slowly but surely working my way upward, but realizing that a lot of damage has been done. Movement doesn’t come as easily as it once did. I’m finding that it’s helpful to slow down, to not push myself too hard, to strip away distractions, and to focus on one step at a time.

It’s not flashy, and it’s not exciting, and it’s quiet and tough and sometimes painful work that can only be done on my own, under the strength of my own two legs. But it’s leading me higher.

Thanks for being here, friends.

The Journey of Gnatty Anne*

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

Last night at dusk, I went on an easy run – just 3.5 miles around Sloan’s Lake. The weather was cool and I was feeling good – the perfect combination for a great run.

One would think.

However, that proverbial one doing the thinking obviously wasn’t thinking about the swarms of bugs that would be out in force.

First, a gnat got caught in the web that is my eyelashes. I blinked so hard, passerbys surely thought I was attempting morse code with my eyes. I swatted at my face, squishing the bug and pinching it from my eyelashes – at least I think I did. My eyelashes are very black – the perfect camouflage for an insect. Is that an eyelash or a bug leg? It’s hard to say.

Are you still reading? Because don’t worry, there’s more.

So, while I was attempting to rid my eye of the bug by doing my blinky-wide-eyed-blinky thing, my mouth may have fallen open (ugh, I KNOW there’s a “That’s What She Said” joke in this). Ask any mascara-applying girl (or guy? I don’t discriminate) – the mouth-falling-open thing is a natural reflex when doing the blinky-wide-eyed-blinky thing. THE POINT IS: when dealing with the gnat in my eye, my mouth opened up, creating a gaping void perfect for another gnat to fill. It flew straight to the back of my throat – yes, to my UVULA (totally just Googled “uvula” to make sure it isn’t sexual). I hacked like a dog until the dead bug exited on a rip-roaring wave of spit.

And then, as the grand finale, a gnat flew straight up my nostril. I farmer-blew as hard as I could, but I could still feel it. I could FEEL THE BUG IN MY NOSE. So I did what any “rational human in a moment of panic” would do, and used my thumb and my forefinger to squeeze my nostrils together. What I wasn’t counting on was that this would squish the bug. I quickly realized that I now had a DEAD BUG. I had a DEAD BUG IN MY NOSE. I quickly blew into my tank top, leaving my shirt snot-covered and my heart, mind, and soul utterly traumatized.

But I never stopped running.

*Worst title ever. Acknowledged.

Talk about my booty on the internet?

Thursday, February 24th, 2011

Don’t mind if I do.

And in case you think I’m a fraud because I’ve said I’m not training anymore, I ran 5 miles on the treadmill last night, and 7 outside on Saturday.  So, see?  I’m still doing my thang (although last year at this time, I was running 12 miles, so YES I KNOWWWW).

East Nasty really is something special.  If you live in Nashville and are a runner – or have any interest in becoming a runner – these are some of the greatest folks you could ever meet and run with.  They meet on Wednesday nights at 6pm on the corner of 11th & Holly in East Nashville – I think you should go.  Tell them Booty Girl sent you.

Update: running

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

I am registered for the Country Music Half-Marathon in Nashville in April.

Long story short:
I’ve basically given up any hard-core training.

Short story long:
My life is so full right now.  I don’t have the hours in the week to put in the miles, nor do I have the desire to give anything up in order to make the time.  My body is a wreck.  I have a broken toe that has never really healed on my left foot, and what I believe are two bone spurs on my right.  I think about going on a long run, and my first response is a quivering lower lip.  I have zero motivation.

I know, blah blah blah.  Excuses, excuses.  Cry me a river, sister.

Last year, I was all about the running.  Then again, I didn’t really have friends here in Denver, and had endless hours to fill.  Last year, running kept me busy and active, got me out of the house and out into Denver.  In some ways, it really saved me.

This year is different.

I have more on my plate than I can swallow.  I am busy at work, and have a secret project taking up my free time.  There are some really wonderful new friends that I’m enjoying getting to know, and some really wonderful books that I’m enjoying reading, and some really wonderful opportunities that I’m enjoying taking advantage of.

Something had to go.  I chose running.

I’m still signed up for the race at the end of April, and I still plan on participating.  It’s just that my “participation” will likely take three hours instead of two.  Whatevs.  I’LL STILL GET A MEDAL.

Better self

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

After my half-marathon back in April, I quit running cold turkey.  I don’t like to run when it’s hot outside, and I focused more on hiking and mountain climbing this summer.  Because I’ve been insanely active, I didn’t think that it would be that hard to get back into running this fall.

Oh, my friends.

A few weeks ago, I decided to give the treadmill a go.  I ran one ugly mile.  When I stopped running, my butt kept moving.

Bad.

Then, someone who will not be named told me that she didn’t think I could fit into the bridesmaid dress I ordered for Mel’s wedding.

Bad bad bad.

But AP’s reverse psychology has kicked in, and as of last night, I’m back up to 3 miles.  You’d have thought I’d won the Olympics.  Come Halloween, I’ll be up to 5.  And after tomorrow night when I meet with a Viking of a trainer man named Gunnar, I will be back on my way to that ever elusive runner’s booty – the one that I never get, no matter how far I run, but always think MIGHT happen at some point.

For me, running helps ward off depression, insomnia, and existential crises.  It’s a good and healthy thing for me to do.  I haven’t weighed myself since March of 2009 – which, I might add, is more liberating than terrifying, even though I still have my terrified moments – and while I have a hunch that running actually makes me weigh more, if I don’t ever see that number, it doesn’t even matter.  I feel better.  I look better.  I think better.  I sleep better.

In short, I’m back on the path to my better self – the one with happier thoughts and a smaller booty.  I know: you’ll hardly recognize me.

Post-race, posthaste

Monday, April 26th, 2010

I’m alive!  I finished!  And I cut 9 minutes off my time from last year.  I’m glad that I did it, and glad that it’s over.  That just about sums it all up.

I will never be one of those people who loves to run, or who is super fast – but I have an able body and legs that work, and therefore, it’s a privilege to participate in something like a half-marathon.  A sometimes torturous privilege, but a privilege all the same.

Such a privilege that I will post a grody picture of myself.

race

Get ready, get set

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Have I mentioned that my half-marathon is tomorrow?

FREAKING!  OUT!  I am so nervous.

After all of my months of preparation, I’m in Nashville for the occasion.  I have Mile High lungs for the lowland race.  I have hundreds of miles of training put in.  And whereas last year, my only goal was to finish, this year, I have a time that I want to beat.  I don’t know if I can do it.  But I’m going to try.

Chances are that by the time you wake up tomorrow morning, I’ll already be done.  Bring it on.

Saving grace

Friday, March 5th, 2010

In the midst of this move (because a move doesn’t just happen, you know… it is a process that takes place over a period of time – however long it takes, really), I have had hours upon hours to myself.  I think that I am predisposed to handling solitude a lot better than most – I don’t mind being alone, and in a lot of ways, I thrive on it.

But what I’m finding is that while quiet is good, silence can be hard.  A girl can drive herself crazy with the thoughts that she thinks in silence.  The vacuum of nothingness attracts all manner of mental material – because, as a wise man recently told me, “nature abhors a vacuum.”

Granted, he was trying to encourage me that my singleness will not be forever (dear sweet Jesus, please and amen), but still.  Same idea.

To fill up the hours and keep the silence at bay, thankfully, I have running.

In a small way, I think that running may be saving me during this move.  I am running 5-6 days a week, and at least one of those days is 10+ miles.  I’ve mentioned it before on this blog: what has come over me?  I didn’t become a runner until last year, when I trained for my first major race – and that was with my beloved East Nasties, who I do not have here in Denver.  I am stunned at my own commitment in their absence.

While running with the Nasties last year was just as much a social opportunity as it was a training regime, running alone is proving to be a discipline.  I have to corral my thoughts – because while my body is incredibly strong these days, it’s my mind that needs a crack of the whip.

In 2009, running was theirs – something that I participated in, but I didn’t own.  It didn’t belong to me.  But this year, running is mine.

Then again, perhaps I’m just avoiding the silence.