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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.

Seattle love

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I am on vacation in Seattle, and my heart is so happy I could cry.

Last night, as Greta and I were settling in to go to sleep, she asked if she should wake me up in the morning.  In a moment of Shakespearean inspiration, what I meant to say was, “I’m sure I will rouse at the sound of you.”  But what I actually said was, “I’m sure I will arouse at the sound of you.”  We giggled.  I’m still giggling, actually – here at Zoka coffee shop, all alone, laughing at my computer screen.

I just finished running in the rain around Green Lake 4 times.  For those of you keeping score, that is 11.2 miles.  I am flabbergasted at my own resolve and dedication these days, because there was a time that I couldn’t run 4 laps around a track, let alone a 2.8 mile loop.

Sorry to not have anything more sparkling to share (although, seriously: AROUSE!).  But frankly, my dears, I have places to be, and a haircut to enjoy.  Happy Valentines Day!

Denver: treating me well

Monday, January 18th, 2010

A childhood friend from my hometown of Montrose, CO, is being featured on Tom Brokaw’s documentary, “American Character Along Highway 50,” which airs tonight at 8/7c on the USA Network.  Watching Jeff’s clip reminds me of just how beautiful western Colorado is – one of those things that I didn’t appreciate until I moved away.  If you can, tune in; I’ve watched some of the teaser videos, and it looks fascinating.

Also, Tom Brokaw… who doesn’t love Tom Brokaw??

– – – – – – – –

I hate it when people just write recaps of “what I did this weekend” – because BOOOORING – but I’m sorry, this was a great weekend.  Why, pray tell?  Well…

– I spent Friday night at a private party for the PBR – the bull riders, not the beer – and Pat Green winked at me from onstage.
– My dad came over on Saturday morning and helped me hang up my curtain rods and do all sorts of other “dad” things.
– I sold my couch on Craigslist for $15 more than what I paid for it…
– … so I bought these towels (please don’t look at the price, it’s embarrassing).
– I went on a long run (7.3 miles at a mile high – not too shabby).
– I had Thai food with two new friends, Karmen and Scotty – and they’re really great!  Finding good people in a new city is an amazing thing.
– Duane was the East Nasty of the Week.
– One of my best friends from high school who lives in the Denver area had her first baby – welcome, Noelle Elizabeth!
– I went on a 6-mile walk around the city.
– I drove the hour down to my parents’ last night.

I don’t know, it was just a really great weekend.  Productive without being work, fun without being exhausting.  So far, this move has been surprisingly okay.

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Themeless thoughts

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

I love beets.  I really, truly love them.  If I see them on a menu, I will choose beets over almost anything else.

My least favorite color is blue.  I don’t hate it, I would just never pick it for anything.  If I were the captain of a kickball team, I would choose red first, and then green like my new curtains, and then maybe teal.  Yellow would be one of my last choices.  But not as last as blue.  Blue would be the last one standing.

My left ring toe – the one next to the pinky toe – is broken.  Or something.  I have a tendency to overreact to physical ailments, so it’s hard to tell – but something is definitely wrong with it.  All of a sudden, it’s gigantic – Elmer Fudd might as well have dropped an anvil on his foot.  The weird thing is that it doesn’t really hurt – but it’s swollen and purple.  I still ran for 40 minutes last night, though.  That probably didn’t help.

When I run, I listen to what I have been told is the “worst running music ever” – mid-90’s country.  I can’t help it.  The songs are so good.  In the 90’s, Nashville still operated by the principle of “the best song wins” – before it became so politicized and exclusive.  So last night, I was all, “Trisha Yearwood?  Patty Loveless?  Blackhawk?  YES PLEASE.”

These days, at least there’s Lori McKenna.

For as stilted and exhausting as it can be to move to a new city, I am reminded of something that I felt a lot of when I first moved to Nashville: potential.  The first days in a new place have a lonely sweetness to them – quiet possibility.  Each person that I meet might wind up being my friend.  Each road I drive down might lead to a surprise.

So.  Denver, ho.

I just wanted to tell you all of these things today.

Tour de Photo

Friday, May 1st, 2009

I don’t even remember where I was, or how I got there – but there I was, cyber-stalking a stranger.

Sadly, this is how many of my stories begin.

And I came across a random crowd picture of last Saturday’s half-marathon.  Taken by a stranger, and uploaded in another stranger’s account.  A sea of hundreds of people.  What are the chances?  But guess who was in the middle, in her bright pink East Nasty shirt?

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Looking back on these pictures, it’s hard to believe that the race actually happened.  But it did – and now it’s over – and I haven’t run since, making this the longest stretch I’ve gone without a run since November.

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And I’m totally fine with that.

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Wednesday night was Talent Night at work.  We rented out the Basement, a local venue, and 14 acts proceeded to take the stage.  We had singer/songwriters.  We had a bellydancer.  We had a girl who could “woooooo” like a siren.  We had a guy in a sandwich costume.

I played.  I was only going to do one song, but you get a couple of Long Islands in me, and I’m sorry, but I’m not going to stop.

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But here’s the coolest thing about this week.

Remember Little Annie Parsons?

She came to Nashville.

And last night, I met – as my friend Matt calls her – my very own Muppet Baby.

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The Other Parsons are wonderful, and we ate with chopsticks at P.F. Changs, and talked about homeschooling and honky tonks and Sarah Palin and the difference between “flirting” and “stalking.”  Oh, to be 13 when Facebook existed…

Annie and her younger sister Katie are two of the most poised, comfortable, intelligent, interesting girls I have met – a product of good parenting, and homeschooling-gone-right, and a delightful cocktail of genes.  I would choose to hang out with them over a lot of people my age.

At one point, Mr. Parsons said, “Annie?” and we both looked up and said, “Yes?”

They’re coming back in October.  We’re hanging out then, too.

I love the internet, and I love The Other Parsons.

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Privileged

Monday, April 27th, 2009

I did it.  And it was the worst best thing I’ve ever done.

I have started this post at least a dozen times, and am having a hard time putting into words what happened on Saturday.

I could tell you about waking up at 4:30am, and stressing out in a traffic jam on the way to the race.

I could tell you about the last minute visit to a Porta-Potty that had no toilet paper.

I could say that miles 1-5 were fun, and 5-8 were less fun, and 8-9 was really tough, but 9-10 was easier, and from 10 on, it was sheer agony.

I could talk about the heat, and the people passing out right and left.

I could give you the amazing finish times of all of my friends, who I am so ridiculously proud of.

I could report that I came in 8,449th out of the 22,749 finishers, and 3,987th out of the 14,505 women.

Or, perhaps my favorite tidbit of information: I could talk about the friend-who-will-never-be-named who is so hardcore, she PEED HER PANTS in the last mile so she wouldn’t have to stop.

But I think that this is my biggest take-away: what an enormous privilege.  To have legs, to have a body that works, to have the opportunity to train for something far more physically taxing than I have ever attempted before.  To have the ability to run.

Even in the heat.  Even when it’s not fun.  Even when I didn’t get the runner’s booty that I hoped for.  I am ABLE to run.  Not everyone is.

And this girl is getting busy getting grateful.

I am so glad I did it.  I am so glad it’s over.  And I guess I can’t deny it anymore: once one has run 13.1 miles, she is officially a “runner.”

More to come in the next few days…

Ready or not

Friday, April 24th, 2009

One of the East Nasties has a bumper sticker that says “Run Happy.”

I don’t.  Run happy, that is.

Some people are built to run – I am not.  I really do not enjoy running.  Even after dedicating myself for months, pulling myself out of bed every Saturday AND Sunday morning, and watching my mileage go up and up and up, I still don’t LIKE to run – especially because I never got the runner’s booty of my dreams.

NOT. FAIR.

But after months and months of training, the Country Music Half-Marathon is upon us.  The starting line is in sight.  The gun fires (or whatever it is they’ll do – fog horn? yell really loud? I’m going to yell really loud) at 7am tomorrow.

I’ve been having stress dreams about it – that I show up and don’t have my number, or my shoes have no laces, or it’s 90 degrees outside.  That’s maybe my biggest actual fear about tomorrow – that it’s going to be really hot, which is not only a possibility, but the forecasted reality.  It is unseasonably warm in Nashville right now.  Even though I don’t enjoy it, I can TOLERATE running – unless it’s hot outside.  Then it’s truly miserable – if not impossible.

I am terrified that I’m not going to succeed – that it’s going to be too hard, too far, that all of my hard work won’t have been enough.  And at this point, it’s truly a case of mind over matter: my body is strong.  I’ve put in the training.  I know that I CAN run 13.1 consecutive miles.  But my brain isn’t so sure about it – and as soon as I let those thoughts start creeping in – I’m tired, I can’t do this, this is too hard – then it’s over.  I quit.

But then, I have to remember that before October, the furthest I had ever run was one lap around Green Lake in Seattle.  And the fact that I can run 5 miles, let alone 11.2 (which was my longest training run), is ridiculously amazing.  I’ve spent the past 4 months training with an incredible group of people of all running abilities – people who have encouraged me and pushed me – and it’s a very cool thing to be a part of something larger than myself.

And there’s no way to say this without sounding completely cheesy, so I’m just going to say it: everyone who has trained for this race is already a winner.

AAAAAAGH I AM SO SORRY!!!!!!!

I hereby fire myself as the writer of this blog.

But truly, ready or not.  Tomorrow it is.  I’ve worked too hard to give up now.  May my will be as strong as my legs.

Back on track

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Yesterday, I experienced true grace.

To back it up: last week, I really slacked on my training schedule for the half-marathon – meaning, I ran one time. ONE time! If I am hoping to run 13.1 consecutive miles in a few short months, then I need to keep up with the program. After such a lousy week, I started to feel like this whole running “thing” was not for me: there’s no way that I can do it – I’m not a natural runner – I’m behind on the training – I can’t catch up – I’m unmotivated – there went my $85 registration fee.

But never fear: as is becoming a regular occurrence, PZC to the rescue.

Paul called me on Sunday morning after I missed the group run, and said, “This is unacceptable. You haven’t even done your time trial yet. What are you doing tomorrow night? You’re coming running – no excuses.”

So Paul and Josh and I met at Centennial Park to do my time trial – basically, run as fast as you can sustain for 3 miles, which becomes a benchmark pace for other training runs. I hate to run fast, because what if my thighs rub together so much that my underwear catches on fire? Running fast equals being severely uncomfortable, and I don’t have a high tolerance for uncomfortableness; this is why I hate the beach (sand in all the wrong places), the wind (totally blows), Nashville summers (sweaty misery), and hangnails (self-explanatory). But Paul and Josh gave me a pep talk as we jogged to warm up for a half a mile, and told me that they would run with me at whatever pace I set.

So we started. I ran fast – a lot faster than I am used to running. The first mile and a half were fine, but when we approached the 2 mile marker, it felt harder to breathe. All of my childhood memories of asthma and panic attacks came racing back, and in a terrifying instant, I found my windpipe closing off – a purely emotional reaction, since my legs were keeping up just fine. I felt the same alarm that I felt on Mt. SneffelsI can’t breathe.

But Paul talked me down, and I finished the run, and Josh and Paul told me that I’m doing a great job. And although they could have abandoned me as soon as I started slacking with the training, they came back to get me and said, “We’re not letting you quit.” They stooped to my lesser level of fitness, and gave up what might have been a better workout for my sake. I don’t deserve friends like them.

But I’m so glad that I found them.

Thank you, Paul and Josh, for demonstrating grace in such a tangible way.

Running Club

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008
What on earth would ever induce me to get out of bed early on a Saturday morning, pull my hair back, and go running – running! – in the 26 degree weather?

I remember running “The Mile” in elementary school. Mile day was the most terrible, foreboding event known I could think of – worse than getting fluoride at the dentist – on par with being whipped with a belt. If given the choice between running the Mile and being grounded for an entire month, I would have chosen groundage. At least then, I could eat cookies.

That’s the kind of child that I was – never naturally inclined toward exercise. I was a little bit chubby, and a lot bit lazy, and preferred the secret, quiet world of books and music and art to anything physically taxing. My friends were all pretty, long-legged, blond girls who could run The Mile in 8 minutes or less; I pulled up the rear around minute 13. In my world, “mile day” was synonymous with “humiliation.”

I’ve always hated to run.

But this year, I made the commitment to myself to run a half-marathon – simply because it’s something that I honestly do not believe that I can do. Last time I checked, that’s a great reason to do something.

So about 2 months ago, I started running. It started as once a week, and has moved to 2-3 times a week – and surprisingly, I’VE BEEN LOVING IT. I’ve found a group of friends who are reliable and enthusiastic, and who have made the commitment to run together frequently. They’ve seen me without makeup, completely sweaty and gross, and they still like me. They tell me stories to keep my mind occupied while we run. They don’t let me quit, even when I want to.

They are the reason that I drag my body outside in the December chill on the weekends.

Them, and the prospect of a runner’s booty. Just wait. It’s coming.