Archive for November, 2012

Standing in the Hall

Posted on November 30, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

standing in the hall

When I was a kid, my room was my sanctuary.  No boys allowed.  I drew pictures, posted signs, and did what I could to make that abundantly clear.  My brothers, occasional literalists, came close to observing the letter of the law, but never the spirit.

They stood just outside the door’s threshold and dipped their toe into my room.

I’m in. I’m out.

I’m in, I’m in, I’m in. I’m out.

When they got brave, they jumped in, whole bodies piercing the forbidden zone. And then quickly out.  And in again. And out.

It makes me laugh now, but it made me furious then.  When my brothers entered the room, it was only for a brief moment, yet it was enough to set me off.  Still, it’s not like they were all in.

For the past few months, I’ve been dipping my toe into my life’s rooms.  There are lots of exciting, promising, and fun spaces I have the opportunity to enter; and there are an equal number of spaces that pose some daunting challenges, some rearranging of furniture and even some disposal of junk.

Rather than walking through the door and owning the room, I’ve been jumping in and out.  I haven’t been all in.

I’m not sure what this means to my family, friends, colleagues. If anything.  I don’t know how I show up in the world, through their eyes. But I do know that living tentatively feels like standing in the hall.

I made the decision to pick a room and move in.  Including owning my training.   A couple of weeks ago, I said I made the decision to run the Austin half in February, but that I probably wouldn’t register for the race for another month or more.  That’s not really playing all in.  This week, training started.  And I registered.  I’m in.

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Giving Thanks

Posted on November 23, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh

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Getting Squirrelly

Posted on November 16, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

My dogs made a new friend this fall.  A squirrel decided to vacation in the oak tree in my back yard. The tree’s branches stretch in a long line between my roof and the greenbelt behind my house, and the squirrel runs laps through my backyard on nice days.

It was the squirrel that befriended my dogs.  Befriend, terrorize, whatever you want to call it, the outcome is the same.  He sits in the branches and chatters loudly, calling my dogs out to play.  Then he plops himself down on the roof overlooking my deck, back legs splayed out like a butterfly and front legs daintily crossed, and stares calmly down at my dogs as they bark wildly.  They can do this for hours.

I’ve watched the squirrel get fatter, lazing about on the roof, as the weeks have progressed. It’s been a great year for acorns, and there’s loads of squirrel food on the ground. (I sometimes I have to remind my dogs that they’re not squirrels and shouldn’t eat acorns.  You know how it is. Friends mimic friends.  They see the squirrel root around in the yard and want to root around too.)

But I haven’t seen the squirrel around much since the time change.  My dogs keep vigil on the deck, searching the branches and roof for signs of him, but he hasn’t called.  My guess is he’s holed up with his acorns, getting ready to hibernate.

I know how he feels.  Once the time change hits, I want to do the same thing.

Seems like every year between Daylight Savings Time and Groundhog Day, my motivation to get out of bed early and work out dries up like the leaves.  I find myself sleeping in and foraging the pantry for all kinds of food I know I shouldn’t eat.  For me, that’s a bad combination:  zero exercise + loads of goodies = blah.  I end up feeling terrible by Christmas.

This year, I made a conscious decision to not be like our new friend the squirrel.  Instead, I decided to be proactive.  The only way I can get motivated during the coldest, darkest days of the year is to make a plan:

  1. Make a date.  I selected a race and a date:  Austin Half Marathon, February 17.  It was an easy race to pick—14 weeks out from the day of decision, and my friend is running it.  As I recently discovered, running a race is so much more fun with a friend by your side.
  2. Pen it in.  There are many great training plans to choose from. I follow Hal Higdon’s 12-week training plan.  Seeing my entire plan laid out on paper with my times penciled in as the weeks progress really motivates me, so I keep a paper copy of my training rather than an electronic one.
  3. Post it up.  I tack my training calendar on the fridge 2 weeks before my official training start date.  I need time to see it, absorb it.  Reassure myself that I can do this. I’ve done it before.
  4. Blab.  The best way I know of to commit to a race is to tell everyone I know that I’m going to run it.  To say it makes it so.
  5. Get moving.  Although I’ve been “pretraining” for a long time, “real” training begins once I mark my times in pencil on my calendar on Day 1.  This time around, I think the first week will be the hardest, partly because Week 1 begins the Monday after Thanksgiving and partly because the mornings are getting colder.  On the bright side, maybe my start date will prompt me to not eat enough to feed a family of 4 on Thanksgiving.
  6. Register.  I usually register for a race after I start training.  This time, I will likely wait until I’m about half way through training.  This race is a big one for me. I haven’t run a half marathon in over two years and, to be honest, I’m a bit afraid.  I haven’t run more than 6 miles since I injured my hip two years ago.

Isn’t that the way? Fear is the biggest deterrent I know:  Fear of injury, discomfort, cold.  Failure.  But not this time.

As much as I may be afraid that I can’t run a half marathon, my bigger fear is that I will become like the squirrel and find my way out of a hole sometime toward the end of winter, wondering where all my time—and training—went.

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The Best Wurst 5 Mile Run

Posted on November 9, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Last Saturday I ran the Wurst 5 Mile Run in New Braunfels, Texas.  I shared the race with 994 other runners at beautiful Landa Park, home to Wurstfest, a week-long party celebrating German culture, food, and beer.

It was the first time I’ve entered this race, and the first time in a while I’ve participated in a 5 mile run.  I have to say, it was the best race I’ve run in a long time.  Here’s why:

  1. Wurst.  What kind of race with “Wurst” in the title wouldn’t serve bratwurst?  Not this one. There was plenty.  I don’t usually eat bratwurst, and I’ve never eaten a wurst right after running, but after this race, I did.  Surprisingly, it beats bananas hands-down.
  2. Beer.  What’s bratwurst without beer? A half fulfilled promise. I couldn’t do one without the other, so immediately after crossing the finish line, I headed for the brat line, then the beer line.  Another first for me:  Drinking beer after a race.  I have only one word for all those people who’ve told me over the years how nice a beer is after a run:  Genius.
  3. Tuba.  Yes, a tuba.  You can’t really have a party celebrating all things German without a polka band.  You can’t really have a polka band without a tuba.  And I thought bagpipes were cool at a race, but a tuba?  Spectacular.
  4. 5 Miles.  For the past few years, I’ve run either 5Ks or half marathons and not a lot in between.  A 5 mile race is an enjoyable distance to run.  You’re out there long enough for the run to start feeling good, but not long enough for it to start feeling bad.
  5. Miranda.  My friend.  We ran the race together, blabbing the whole time. Except for the last mile, when we pushed ourselves hard to cross the finish line, running at a non-talking pace.  This was the first race I’ve ever run with somebody.  I’ve trained for and entered loads of races with people, but once the starting gun sounds, I’ve been on my own.  I absolutely loved passing the miles and the time during the race itself with a friend by my side.  So much so that it wasn’t hard for her to talk me into entering the Austin Half Marathon in February, so that we can run it together.

If you’re ever in central Texas in November, you might want to think about entering this run.  In addition to the food and the tuba, there’s lots of great people out having a good time, sporting their lederhosen and knee socks.  Next year, I will run with a camera.

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Posted on November 2, 2012. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A shiny new red lawnmower is sitting in my garage. I was forced to buy it last week when my old one finally died.  Old is the operative word.  The dead lawnmower was blessed with a long life, having been manufactured when I was still in high school, roughly sometime around the invention of the combustion engine.  Three years ago when I took it to Sears for its annual servicing I was told that they don’t make most of the parts to service it anymore.  I knew then that it was just a matter of time.

I borrowed my sister’s lawnmower to cut my grass while I waited for my new lawnmower to arrive.  My Chihuahuas disappeared somewhere in the long grass, and I couldn’t wait much longer.  Her mower is still in my garage, next to my shiny new red one. I am hoping she forgets it’s here, in case the grass grows a little more and needs one last cutting before fall decides to stick in Texas.

My mower is so shiny and red and new that I really don’t want to use it, to muck it up. I’d simply like to leave it sitting there in my garage, fresh and clean like a shiny red apple.

My friend chuckled when I told him about my new lawnmower holed up in the garage.  He suggested that I might be a bit odd.

He may be right.  It seems to be my habit to use items longer than they should perhaps be used and to delay using new items simply because they are shiny and new.

I have the same habit with running shoes.

I own 5 pairs of running shoes, yet run in only 2 of them.  I received my newest pair as a birthday gift in March.  I didn’t wear them until July, and even then I ran in them only on nice days.  When it rained, I wore my old shoes.  My new ones were so shiny and silver and nice that I didn’t want to muck them up.

The rest of my running shoes have graduated to other uses, like walking the dogs or mowing the lawn.  My lawn mowing shoes are relegated to the garage.  Once bright blue and white, they are now a dull green and brown, treads worn off.  But useful nevertheless.  They’ve cut many a lawn.

As I considered my lawn mowing shoes and my habit of holding on to things until they can’t possibly be used any longer, I remembered where those shoes had taken me.  They were the first pair I bought that were strictly for running.  They saw me through at least my first 2 half marathons and multiple shorter races.  More miles than they should have seen. Passed down from one use to the next.   And not ready to be retired yet.

So what’s wrong with utility?  Or with appreciating the things that are shiny and new?

I wore my new shiny silver shoes this morning to run in the fog.  They flashed in the dim light of each passing car, marking my presence on the road.  Seems my new shoes are not so new anymore.  They’re finally working their way into my comfort zone.

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