Archive for June, 2014

Good-bye Summer Joy

Posted on June 27, 2014. Filed under: Running | Tags: , , , , , , , |

My ode to summer joy officially ended on Monday, June 23, at 5:48 am.

I know. That’s less than 48 hours after summer officially started.  But I can explain.

You see, I live in Texas. Summer in Texas is pretty much like I imagine the fourth ring of hell to feel like. Maybe muggier.

We were spoiled this year, however. We made it well into June lulled into a false sense of comfort.  The start of summer here felt almost like summer in Michigan. Pleasant, breezy, green. You could sit outside and enjoy your yard, your grill, the sunset. You could roll out of bed in the morning and go for a pleasant run.

But then it all ended when summer officially arrived, rolling in on blanket of hot, wet air, which wrapped itself heavily around my shoulders and worked its way deeply into my lungs on the morning of Monday, June 23, when I stepped outside at 5:48 am to run.   swimming_cat

Texas is now officially into the season of running clothes drenched with so much sweat you have to wring them out and lay them in the sun for an entire day to dry; two or three shower days; lethargy; pulling the grill closer to the back door; watching the sunset through the window (if you can see around the mosquitoes); and much earlier morning runs.

As much as I am cursing Texas summers this week, I know that I will soon adapt and forget how much it sucks. By mid-July, I will have pulled the grill back out to where it belongs, purchased more citronella candles or Off, and created a sweaty-clothes-drying-only bench on my deck. Two showers a day will be nothing. Maybe one of them will even be a swim. If memory serves me right, the kids don’t get to the pool until well after sun-up anyway. Maybe a little chlorine to temper the sweat isn’t such a bad thing after all.

 

 

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Running with the Pack

Posted on June 20, 2014. Filed under: Uncategorized |

A couple of months ago my friend asked me to mentor for a running group she coaches through a local running store. Mentor other runners? I thought. Me? What do I know about mentoring runners?

Seems like a silly thing to say, considering my job. Director of an organization that mentors young girls through running. Sounds like a no-brainer, huh?

But the kind of mentoring I do in my own job does not relate to running. Not exactly. It relates to people. Talking them through rough spots, encouraging them when they’re disheartened, listening while they either vent or talk themselves to the solutions they already had but didn’t know it.  This kind of mentoring happens over phone calls, coffee. And runs.  group-run.97151459_std

Some of the best conversations, I’ve discovered, occur during runs. There’s something about running that opens us up, makes us vulnerable, when we’re side by side, sweating together, talking together, looking out to the path in front of us and not at each other. Not directly. It’s safer somehow, and we can say more than maybe we would over lattes or cheeseburgers.

So I’ve been mentoring other runners now for seven weeks. It’s a lot like mentoring coaches, team leads, and all the others I talk with, probably because they’re people, and people are people no matter what role they’re in. The only difference with this group, besides having to know something about running, is that we tend to get a little more sweaty in our sessions.

I love mentoring runners, and I’ve discovered some things about myself.

I like running with people almost as much as I like running alone, but for different reasons. Rather than simply knowing I’m part of a bigger community, I experience it. The community I run with is one of inclusion and hope, and no matter what else is going on in my day I know that I can show up and just be, and by the end of the session I walk away feeling good about life.

I’ve discovered that running is easy when you focus on someone other than yourself. My friend warned me before I joined that the runs I did for the group wouldn’t count as my own training runs; I’d still have to carry on with my own training plan. How can four, five, six mile runs not count? I asked. You’ll see, she smiled. And she was right. When you’re running next to or behind someone and paying attention to their form, their cadence, their level of exertion and counting off for them their mileage and their time you forget you’re running too, and it’s suddenly not so hard.

It’s kind of Booker T. Washington said:  “If you want to lift yourself up, lift someone else.” And so we lift each other through running.

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Just the Facts, Ma’am

Posted on June 13, 2014. Filed under: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Tropical-Fish1

You need to post more information about yourself, my editor tells me. People need to know you.

Why? I ask. Whoever reads my blog knows me by what I write. The stories. The struggles. The voice and tone. What more is there to know?

It’s been a battle of the wills for months, but she will inevitably win. Writing a memoir is hard, the distillation of a lifetime through a funnel called Running, Community.

It starts in a blog, a series of posts, and expands ever outward, from blog to memoir to a compilation of runners’ stories woven together like a tightly knit shawl. To be complete by the end of summer. Draft 1.

The hardest question to answer: Tell us about yourself. Writing a bio of even three sentences is excruciatingly hard.

What is it people want to know, the facts (or the truth behind them)?

My favorite colors are blue and green (the colors of peace and tranquility—like floating under water, suspended by saline and waves; the only sound your breath, to know you are alive; surrounded by fish the color of the sun or the sky at dawn, a funnel cloud of rainbow eddying around you).

But this is no longer eighth grade and the relevant facts do not involve (so I am told) colors or music or movies.

Do they want to know the history (or the narrative)? Dates or events comprise the skeleton, stories connect the organs and flesh.

It takes a lifetime to build a body.

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Hello Summer

Posted on June 6, 2014. Filed under: More... | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

It’s here, semi-officially, this week.

I know, it doesn’t officially start until summer solstice, Saturday, June 21, at 6:51 am. In case you’re counting.

But this week marks the end of the school year, which means…

Less traffic.

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Less shoe-wearing.

summer-quotes-sayings-overdressed-feet

More lawn mowing (I love the smell of fresh cut grass. It reminds me of watermelon. And my dad.)

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More pool time.

swimming_cat

 

More down time.

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And more sweat.

seat lodge

Well, maybe not that much more. I’m just glad it’s here.

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