Archive for January, 2013

The New Normal

Posted on January 25, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

small-dog-running

Last Sunday I ran ten miles. Ten. Miles.

To some of my friends ten miles is like a walk to the mailbox. To others it might as well be an ultramarathon. To me it’s incredible.

When I started training for a half marathon eight weeks ago my long run was five miles. Frankly, I was terrified. My friend offered to do my first long run with me, bless her heart, as long as–in her words–it was under fifteen miles. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or vomit. The thought of five was scary enough.  Anything approaching double digits seemed impossible.

Now, I run five miles in the middle of the week. And it’s almost like a walk to the mailbox.

This Sunday I get to run ten miles. Again. Ten. Miles.

I’m sure I can beat last Sunday’s time because I plan to eat better this Saturday than I did last. My mother always told me that Cheetos are not a dinner food.  I’m not sure she actually qualified it with “dinner,” come to think of it. Don’t tell her I said this, but she’s right.  Cheetos don’t seem to sustain endurance or supply energy, even if they do stain your fingers a fine shade of day-glow orange that might actually help make runners more visible to cars.  Nevertheless, Cheetos won’t be on my menu this weekend.

One of the beautiful things about running:  I’m my own biggest competitor. I just want to do better than I did the week before so that what’s normal is always new.

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Oh, to Run and Change the World

Posted on January 18, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

same Nasa url as the last one please

What would you say to someone who told you that running could change the world?  Would you think they were odd, crazy, dreaming?  Not my world, you might think.  Not the real world, where businesses and people work hard to make a living, get ahead.  Running, you might say, is a hobby for most, a pastime, an amateur sport.  It might be fun, might get or keep you healthy, but surely it couldn’t change the world.

I had the privilege this week of attending the 10th annual Girls on the Run International Summit, a conference, for lack of a better word, though it was like no conference I’ve attended.  It may have had all the trappings of your average conference—speakers, general and breakout sessions, meals and parties—but this conference was distinctly different.  What made it so was not the agenda, it’s the organization—the men and women who are Girls on the Run.

Every organization composes a Vision, a Mission, a set of Core Values it displays for all its stakeholders to see.  Most include words like customer-oriented, integrity, honesty, excellence.

What about words like positivity, gratitude, empowerment, responsibility.  Empathy, joy, love.  And more telling than words, what about actions?  Could a business be built on a foundation that includes empathy, joy, and love?

When Girls on the Run started, it was led by one woman who brought together one team of thirteen young girls to instill in them confidence, joy, self-respect, to show them their own strength and where it could lead them.  Sixteen years later, Girls on the Run is led by 55,000+ women and men across the nation in 208 councils, revealing to tens of thousands of girls their full potential.

Girls in the program learn to be authentic, strong, honest.  To respect themselves and others, to make healthy life choices, to be empathetic.   These girls will grow up to be leaders in business, education, government.  They are learning to lead with love.

The tool that does this?  Running.

Sound corny?  Far from it.  It’s quite real, and part of a movement to bring empathy, responsibility to bear on our actions, in business, education, government.

Who said that running couldn’t change the world?  It already has.

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Half Way to Austin

Posted on January 11, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

half way

I’m over the hump.  This is week 7 of the 12 week training plan I’m following to get to the Austin Half Marathon on February 17.

Training for a half marathon was not one of my 2012 goals.  It hadn’t even crossed my mind.  I’ve completed 9 half marathons, but an injury in 2010 sidelined me, and until this past summer I hadn’t run farther than 6 miles. And I’d only done that once.

In September, I realized it was time.  What was the deciding factor?  There were a few.  Competing in a 5-miler next to a friend reminded me of the fun, social side of running.  Winter was approaching.  I’m convinced that I have bear blood in me.  Once the thermometer dips below, say, 40, all I want to do is curl up in a ball under a pile of blankets with a bag of Julio’s and a plate of cookies.  Now that’s hibernation.  And the holidays make it worse.  Maybe I’m part slug, part bear.  I didn’t want a repeat of last year’s near-comatose holiday season.

But the overwhelming reason was simple.  I was tired of being afraid.  Of injury. Of failing.  Of facing the possibility that I could no longer run distance.  I finally realized that if I didn’t try, I had already failed, and I would never run farther than 6 miles, period.

And here I am, ending week 7.  It hasn’t been easy to stick to the plan.  I was on vacation week 2, ending the Girls on the Run season week 3.  It was Christmas week 5 and New Year’s week 6.  I’m on my way to a conference during week 8.  There’s always something. But such is life. There always will be.

Knowing I would miss training days here and there each week, I did, however, commit to not missing particular runs:  intermediate and long runs, and speed work.  It’s paying off.  Here are some highlights of my training so far:

  1. I ran 7 miles.
  2. I ran 8 miles.
  3. I came in 2nd in my division in last week’s 10K.
  4. I’ve cut one minute off my mile.

Tomorrow I get to run 9 miles.  I am both nervous and excited as I see the distance grow each weekend.  But I am no longer afraid. Instead, I celebrate every moment.

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The Busk, or why I run before dawn

Posted on January 4, 2013. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

burning-bowl

There are a dozen reasons to run before dawn.   There’s no traffic.  Car exhaust and other pollution haven’t elevated to choking level.  Running sets your metabolism, you get the day’s run out of the way, it’s mental preparation for the day.  These reasons all ring true for me, but there’s something more.  With each sunrise I am reminded that every day is a busk.

In spring when the corn began to ripen, some American Indian tribes held a busk, a cleansing ceremony whose purpose was, in large part, renewal.  Tribe members cleaned out their homes and threw all broken or unwanted items into a communal heap, which they burned. A new fire was kindled, and from it all the fires in town were kindled.  During the ceremony, all offenses except murder were forgiven, and a new year began.

The Unity Church practices a ritual with a similar purpose:  The Burning Bowl.  In this New Year’s ceremony, individuals make two lists, one of the things they need to get rid of, and the other of their intentions for the year.  The first list is burned; the second sealed, to be read later.

Both rituals serve the same purpose as New Year’s resolutions do for many of us.  A new year promises a clean slate, the potential to do things right, set new goals.  It’s a chance to start life anew. The opportunity to remake ourselves into something better, stronger.  (Faster.)

Some seem to think that if they don’t set New Year’s resolutions, they’ve missed their chance for change.  But we don’t have to wait for New Year’s Eve for that clean slate.  We get a new beginning every day.

Each day that I get to run before dawn, I am reminded of this.  A sunrise is like an opening hand, pink fingers flaming across the sky, releasing a new day.  The most brilliant dawns remind me of a fire eating through the detritus of the previous day, cleansing it of the good and bad, clearing the way for new growth.

One reason running fills me with gratitude–I get to witness this.  A new beginning, every day.  Another chance to live right, do right.  Another day I am blessed with.

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