Sunday, April 28, 2013

Feel This Moment

Today I ran, because I can. 
I have never felt more alive.

With each ragged breath I breathe I acknowledge I am breathing. I am alive.

I really take a deep breath. Inhale. 
I feel my chest expand. Smell the scent of cut grass, the wildflowers, the trees. This steadies my breath and I focus on enjoying every deep inhale I take. 

With each step I take further I am reminded I can go in any direction I choose. I choose to keep going. I have the ability to keep going. I feel my feet hitting the ground and that feeling is a glorious gift I am blessed with. I focus on my two feet, my two legs strong and steady and this carries me on. 

Today my thoughts are clear and there is only one message on my heart and mind. Be thankful. 

Be thankful for the wildflowers in their vivid colors of yellow and purple. Uncut on the side of the road as if they are there to cheer me on. Be thankful for the breeze. The breeze that I feel on my face, my entire body that brings new energy, and relief from the heat. Be thankful for the sun that is shining, and the warmth it shines down on me. Be thankful for this body. This body that can do amazing things. This body that can go any which way I choose. This body that can see, and hear, and feel, and really feel alive during this run. 

I am alive. I am blessed with this body that is able, when so many are not. I will honor myself by taking care of it. It is a gift to be able to run, and experience today. I will run for myself, because there are those that cannot. 

I will appreciate every run because I can. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"It's Been Awhile"

It's been awhile ...
and it has.
I haven't ran in weeks. 2, 3? Long enough to make me feel like a beginner again. I made it all the way to 6+ miles, and here I am starting again with 2 and 3 mile runs.

I was actually resting my right knee. For awhile (and still at times) I have been having sharp pains over/under? my knee cap. I still continue my Les Mills Combat workout (which may or may not be a good idea) and yoga, but the running seemed too much. So I'm starting over, or so it feels, and pacing slow for now.

When I told my Dad today I was running again after a minor knee "thing" he told me to "be careful". and "Running does things like that" - referring to my knee?

 When people who aren't runners think about running, that's what they think of: injury to knees, injury to ankles, shin splints, sprains, things that end in "itis" and the list goes on.
So do you want to know what I was thinking about while running today?
(Well, I'm going to tell you either way ...)


It covers your entire body, you couldn't run without it, and up until today I hadn't really given it too much thought when it comes to running.
Why was I thinking of it today you ask? (Maybe I'm too amateurish to have really given it too much thought before)

Well, today it was extraordinarily sunny (at least for a NYer) and hot! (That's what happens when you live in TX). So today, on my short, slow run (with my 1yr old in the stroller) I was hot, the sun was scorching, and my skin was on fire! I will admit, I am fairer than most people. My paleness should probably reflect the sun. But today the sun, the heat, the sweat, it all resulted in what I'll call "the burn".

And while most people headed out are worried about the right lacing of shoes, the right form, the right playlist, or the right route, I will now be worrying (or thinking of, rather) about the right sun screen!
A sweat proof, spray type sun screen. Because while my knees, and ankles and all are important to me I won't be running anywhere if I don't take care of my skin.

Protect your skin people, and keep going (:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"It feels like the 1st time"

So, today was my very first 10k! Not 5k, 10k! 6.2 miles of nothing but sneakers, pavement, and my ipod (and of course the hundreds of other runners). (:

Usually I run 5ks with Evan, or he at least comes with me to them. This morning; however, I was on my own, driving 39 miles in 50 degree rainy weather (in the dark) at 0630am to run 6.2 miles. It was at this point when I questioned my sanity, but also got a little excited ... Is this what being a "runner" feels like? Am I a "real" runner now?  . . . . . . And then the nerves set in.
I don't know why before every race it happens. Even the 5ks. I have ran 3.1 miles before, even 6.2 miles - it's only as competitive as I want it to be, so why do I get so nervous?!

If I wasn't psyching myself out enough on the ride over, I arrive at the park where the race is held (in the dark), (in the FREEZING cold), and am surrounded by a crowd of some SERIOUS looking "runners". Seriously. I suddenly felt amateurish and out of my league. More than half the women (ok maybe that's a little dramatic) were wearing compression socks, a lot sported half marathon/marathon headbands, tshirts, etc. Most women had cute matching (expensive) running outfits - I know this because I drool over them online a few times a week. But after driving almost an hour, and waking up super early, I decided I have to stay and do this. (That and I just paid $30 ($5 extra for a shirt), AND I have alone Mommy time - that NEVER happens.)

So, I am now freezing and having an internal debate with myself do I leave my running jacket on or off. It's cold, really cold and windy and spitting rain here and there, BUT all these other people aren't wearing jackets, and it will cover up my number (2012), and will the chip thing in the number work if it's covered up in my jacket?! (yes, major run on sentence) Aghhh.
OK take it off, nope keep it on - jacket is staying on. Time to pee. Warm up in the bathroom and pee. Can I just stay under the hand dryer where it's warm?

Where the heck is the starting point anyways?! I guess I'll just follow this group of people and head towards the crowd doing warm up runs, and stretches.
Warm up runs? Should I be doing that? Will I have enough in my tank to finish if I start now? I should probably stretch. EVERYONE is stretching. I NEVER stretch before my runs though, why would I start now? Will that screw me up? But it's cold. OK well stretch a little and pretend you know what you're doing people are sizing you up left and right. Everybody is checking everybody out, talking about previous runs, times, and of course stretching. Why do I feel like the only person without a running partner?! Oh, wait I actually LIKE to run alone. But still maybe I should have a partner since like everyone here does. Ok, more pretend stretching ...

Who's going to start this thing anyways? Oh, she is. She's in charge? The lady standing in the back of a pickup? She does a quick blurb and literally says "On your mark, get set, GO!" and then we're off. Wait ... that's it? I'm not sure what I was expecting, but that seemed a little anticlimactic.

So I am off, and in the back - purposely, because I'm still not quite sure where I fit in here. It is a sloooow start. Weaving in and out of people, dogs, people, walkers, joggers, people who should be behind me. I glance at my watch and cringe, we're moving at like a 14 min. mile - this is horrible! I weave a little more intently now, and try to settle in at a good 10ish min. pace. I have Mumford & Sons singing "I Will Wait" and I try to think about the finish line and something or someone waiting for me there.

After a right hand turn, and the observation of how awful the roads are in this city people start to break up and I'm feeling a little better. I notice a woman next to me. Immediately I try and determine if she is going to pass me. She seems to be at my pace, and she's not wearing ear buds. How do people run without music?! Especially for 6+ miles?! Then my sporadic thoughts are elsewhere, and I start to focus on the people in front of me. Who is booking it? Who will push too hard in the first mile? Who can I pass? Why are these old ladies way in front of me? Check watch. Keep it between 10-11, it's still early.
God, these roads are awful.

So the course turns and we are now passing runners on the other side of the road. I am running past all of the people who are BEHIND me. Yes, behind me! I am not last! I'm pretty sure that lady with the double jogging stroller is last, and I give her a sympathetic glance. She doesn't look like a "runner", and she doesn't look like she is going to pass me or anyone anytime soon. I feel someone coming up behind me ... it's that same woman. The no ear buds runner. Is she going to pass me? We run for awhile next to each other. It's a long while, about a mile. There's not a whole lot going on on the back roads, it is still freezing and my contacts are dry from the wind. I'm pretty sure I can't see more than a few feet in front of me without blinking a million times. So I turn up my music, and keep glancing at my watch to check my pace, and the woman beside me as well.

Then there appears a group, well a couple really - literally, two women right in the middle of the road (well, the side we are supposed to be running on anyways). Up ahead there is a truck coming down the road, and these women are just road hogging. So I try not to get too close, but also don't want to lose my momentum. We're in this weird kind of jam, they aren't budging and the woman next to me and I are kind of stuck. Finally I decide to pass .. what is the proper running road etiquette for a situation like this anyways?! So I am in front now, and it feels much better, only now I realize that I have these women like right on my heels and it's uncomfortable. It's this back and forth game and I prefer a little more space so I decide to kick it up a notch. I pick up speed, pass a few more women (why are there mostly women around me?) and feel a little sad .. I think I lost the woman who was running beside me, after almost 3 miles now. At this point I am passing a lot more people, and feeling pretty good. I think it takes me about 2 miles to warm up anyways. 2 miles? I used to ONLY be able to run 2 miles. 3 miles feels good. And low and behold a few minutes, or maybe less after my traffic jam I look over and there is the ear bud-less runner.

I have to admit at first I wasn't sure if it was annoying or not having someone I did not know constantly be next to me, but by mile 3-4 I was happy she was there. Not really sure why. Coming up on mile 4, hill ahead. I LOVE hills. I'm not sure if it has something to do with Insanity and high knees, but I feel like I can kill it on a hill. Evan always tells me not to. He says I should be slower on a hill and save my energy, but I can't help it. There's something about seeing and feeling the challenge that makes me want to break loose and book it up a hill. Right about then there is also a pair of girls, matching shirts, etc. in front of me. Again it is this game of no room, do I pass? Can't they just move over? I can tell they don't want me to pass them, and I can also tell if I do I'll be running practically on top of them or vice verse. I am seriously beginning to wonder  (again) if it's a runner's personality, competitiveness, or just niceness when it comes to space, and passing, etc. Here's the hill, I take this chance to pick up speed and it feels good! It feels good passing people on a hill, and the hill feels good. I feel challenged in my legs and am breathing harder, and it makes me feel like I'm working harder on this cold, rainy morning.

Post hill, just when I'm getting comfortable again the two girls are right on my heels again. So I move over, they pass me and then I'm stuck right behind them. It's this game again, they are conversing, and I feel like an unwanted person in their running conversation. So this goes on, until finally they decide to start walking? Really?! After running this far? I want to tell them to keep going! I want to tell everyone I pass to keep going, because I like motivation. I like to get it and I like to give it. I feel like on this cold, rainy morning it's more of an introverted kind of run and people aren't really in that kind of mood. 
Anyways, they walk and that's good for me, because now I have a little piece of road all to me again, and that's how I like it. Only, no .. I don't. I look over and there is the woman who has ran beside me almost the whole race now. She's still there and she's still keeping at my pace (which is now under 10, and I feel awesome about that).

By mile 5 I finally decide to take my jacket off and tie it around my waist. The lightness of it helps, but it is still easier said than done while running a now 9:30ish mile. There is probably a half mile left til marker 6 and I'm having an internal debate on whether to pick up speed , or wait. The woman with no music is still beside me, and it is at this point so close to the finish line that I realize I enjoyed her company on this run, but I might want to beat her. I toy around the idea of having her beat me, me beating her, etc. and feel kind of bad about it. I also realize if I didn't have any competitiveness in my run I would be totally bored out of my mind and hate running. Running without a purpose seems painful. I need a purpose, a goal, a person to beat, a hill to climb, a mile to mark! I am running to beat my last record of 1:07, and now sadly I think I want to run to beat the woman beside me too. I really didn't have to think about this for too long because at the last watering station she grabs a cup. It's the last corner, the finish line right ahead and I NEED to go faster. I NEED to put it all out there at the end of this. I set my sights on the runner in front of me. I WILL pass her ... or him? And I do. (I'm super glad I do because looking at the official times that person was 70!!!! 70?!?!?!) I get in a groove so fast that I realize if I fall I just might die. I see all the people lined up first and I turn my music down to hear the cheers. And there are plenty of them. A small group of matchy, "runnery" looking woman cheering for ME?! I try to remember to smile for the big picture, and actually DO smile because I just finished my first 10k!

At this point I do stretch, and I'm really stretching. Oddly enough, not a lot of other people are?! But I know that I need to do this. I also grab a water, a banana, and some trail mix - which might just be my new fav. post run snack.
I'm a little sad, because it's just me and I really want to take a picture and not look like a dork and I'm contemplating this when I am surprised by "my running partner". The no music runner thanks me for pushing her today. (Pushing her?!) She tells me if it weren't for me she probably would've slowed down or walked, and tells me good job for taking off at the end. So, of course I hug her (I feel like I sort of know her now) and thank her. She was after all my unofficial running partner of my 1st 10k, and THAT was pretty awesome!

So after all of this I realize .. well, I realize a lot but a few key things:
~I AM a runner. I've said that before, but was intimidated in the presence of the "pros". So, I repeat ... I AM A RUNNER. I will repeat this over and over. My new mantra maybe?
~I have to google or pinterest search the running "rules" of passing, slow lanes, etc. There HAS to be something out there on this! And if there is, more people should read it!  
~As much as I would like to say I run for the leisure of it, I don't. Well I do, but really I do it because I can push myself. I can be competitive with others (and they don't even really know it), and I can be competitive with myself. (I did beat my last 6 mile run by nearly 5 minutes)!!!
~And, lastly as much as I like to run by myself because I can control my own pace (especially based on my music), it was really, REALLY cool to run 6 miles with a complete stranger, and push and be pushed because of it! (: