Tuesday, December 01, 2009

To wait for someone else, or to expect someone else to make my life richer, or fuller, or more satisfying, puts me in a constant state of suspension; and I miss all those moments that pass. They never come back to be experienced again.
----- Kathleen Tierney Crilly

Wouldn't it be so much easier if we could just relinquish the control of our lives to someone else? If we could make someone else take responsibility for our happiness? But we can't. We have to be responsible for our own choices, our own lives, our own happiness. And sometimes that isn't easy, or pleasant. And what makes us happy often makes others unhappy. And vice versa.

Choosing to be a long distance runner takes a certain level of commitment that many don't understand. We get up early, we run long, we miss things because we have to get our miles in. There appears to be no reward for the long hours on the road or trail, but we do it anyway. In the middle of typing this, I went over to check on my friends Olga and Lisa Bliss. If you get a chance, check out their blogs because they both explain it much better than I ever could. We run because we want to. It is a choice daily. I love every (okay, almost every) facet of my life. But running completes me. It is something that I long to do when I can't, something that makes me feel whole when I don't, makes me sane when I'm not. I understand that it is not for everyone, and at the level we do it, not for many, but it is truly a passion. There is no other way to explain it. I have met people that would never have been a part of my life but for running, and I am truly grateful for that. Running has expanded the universe of this housewife immensely, and I will forever be changed by it.

Happy Running!

Monday, November 16, 2009

People need joy. Quite as much as clothing. Some of them need it far more.
--- Margaret Collier Graham

The joy of running. The joy of Fall. The joy of love and laugther. The joy of a good book. Right now, I am experiencing all, and I feel very blessed. Nothing extraordinary or new is happening, just training and living, but it all feels joyful. Today is supposed to be a rest day, but I anticipate some schedule problems at the end of the week, so I'm doing an easy 6 just to put it in the bank - no OCD here! While I'm running on the treadmill, I have a brisket cooking, making me simultaneously want to eat and run at the same time!

Currently, I am reading "Lit," by Mary Karr. Now, if you read "The Liar's Club," you know that she had one totally messed up childhood. It was a great, albeit painful, memoir. Her new book is how, after the publication of her hugely successful memoir, she spiraled down into alcoholism and depression and then came back out. I just love a good memoir! I will keep you posted on how it is.

I'm really trying to ramp up my training in hopes of a good solid race in December. I haven't raced since the Worlds in Italy last May. Yikes! As you know, ramping up for me just means more miles. I just can't get excited about speedwork or trails. I ran 31 with my friend Jim at Javelina a few weeks ago, but that was the extent of my trail running. It was fun, but not what I love to do. I still love reading my friends' blogs who are trail runners, because I am in awe of them, but I go back to my road running. This week, I should have 125-130 miles, depending on what happens over the weekend. The end of the year is approaching, so I need to keep going!

Okay, back to it. Hope everyone is getting some good runs in!

Happy running!

Friday, November 13, 2009

If people only knew the healing power of laughter and joy, many of our fine doctors would be out of business. Joy is one of nature's greatest medicines. Joy is always healthy. A pleasant state of mind tends to bring abnormal conditions back to normal.
--- Catherine Ponder

I just got off the phone with my sister, Linda, and we had a such a wonderful conversation. I had been fidgeting with something since yesterday, trying to figure it out, journaling about it, but finding no relief. So, I did what I often do when I can't get rational about something, I called my big sis. We spent the first part of the conversation with me kvetching about the intolerable situation, and then moved onto what I should do about it. By the end we were both laughing at the absurdity of my "problem" and marveled at how easily we can let negativity turn something minor into something major. My sister helped me laugh at myself, which in turn, help me put the issue in perspective. Laugter, again and again, saves me. In fact, I believe that unconditional love and laughter are the only two things in life that really matter.

So many new studies are coming out showing the benefit of laughter on both our physical, and mental, health. Seems that laughter can cure just about anything from depression to cancer. Amazing, huh?! There is something about changing your physical chemistry through laughter that acts like a potent medication. There is much anecdotal evidence of people cutting out negative input (the news, violent movies, depressing books, etc.) in their lives and only allowing positive images to enter their filter, who end up cured of all kinds of disease and mental illness. I find that fascinating. Norman Vincent Peale extolled the virtue of the power of positive thinking decades ago, and it seems like now, the research is supporting him. Cool!

So go out today and do something that makes you happy. Try to limit negative influences for just a day, and see if you feel the difference.

Happy running!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how you are going to live. Now.
- Joan Baez

This past weekend, some friends and I went to Denver to visit a running buddy who recently relocated to the area. We decided to run the Denver Marathon for fun, and just have a relaxed, casual weekend. It just so happened that our buddy was also turning 50, so we made sure to have a special time full of laughter, exploration, eating and running. We had some wonderful meals in downtown Denver, went to a jazz club, ran trails, and finished it all up with grilled steaks at another friend's house after the marathon. The perfect weekend! The only glitch in the whole plan was that I came down with something and have been sick since Sunday - yuck! Whatever it is, my kids have it too, and it won't go away. Half of their school is out sick, with several kids in the hospital. They are saying it is the H1N1 virus, but who knows. We aren't that sick, just down and out a little bit.

Needless to say, I have not run since Sunday. And the weather is glorious right now, so I am staring out the window, pining away for a good run. I love Fall and I hate to miss a day outdoors. I may cheat and go for a walk in a little bit, even though I'm supposed to be in bed. I'm going crazy, so I figure that means I'm recovering. A little fresh air will do me good, right?

I was hoping to continue my increase in weekly mileage, but I guess it will have to wait until next week. Three days off are going to be hard to make up on the mileage tally. I'm also leaving town again this weekend, but hopefully will be able to get some miles in while I'm away. As I'm typing this, I realize I'm describing a recovery week. Not that I needed another one after my last few recovery months! You would think I would have been so well rested I wouldn't have gotten sick!

Happy running!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In soloing - as in other activities - it is far easier to start something than it is to finish it.
- Amelia Earhart

Back to it - I'm lost without serious training. I love running, being outside, moving at my own pace under my own power. Sometimes fast, sometimes not. Tim had a serious heart to heart with me this week. He told me that I was going to regret giving up serious running if I gave it up for the wrong reasons - fear, guilt, peer pressure. He knows how much I love to run, how much I love to chase a goal. And I've been a little lost all year.

But the past few weeks, I've really been trying to decide what I wanted to do. Running 20 miles a day without a purpose is just work, grueling work. I told myself, there is no point in slogging out that kind of mileage if I wasn't going to continue to chase my dream. I need to either run for fun and fitness or get my courage back. Straddling both sides of the fence is no fun.

So, I've been putting in the miles, picking some races, readjusting goals, and reconnecting with my running friends. I've been doing some speed, some distance and some hills. And I've been happy. I've felt focused and energized. Even if I never race seriously again, even if I never win another race, it feels good to have not given up out of fear.

Thanks to everyone who sent such nice e-mails! It really meant a lot to me.

Happy running!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The life of man is the true romance, which when it is valiantly conducted, will yield the imagination a higher joy than any fiction.
- Emerson

Wow! Crazy summer! As many of you have already heard, Tim had sudden cardiac arrest at mile 48 of the PCT 50. He had to be Lifeflighted to Portland, where he was treated for his heart issue and the head injury he sustained when he fell. It was unbelievably awful and scary, but thankfully, he is perfectly fine now. They believe his heart stopped because he is calcium deficient following a botched parathyroid surgery a couple of years back, and he had not taken his calcium during the race. Add to that, 14 hours of running, heat, etc. and he had a recipe for disaster. Luckily, it happened at a point in the race where we happened to be with him, so we could start CPR immediately. Our friend, Luis Zaragoza, was with us, and he and I managed to revive Tim - but it was very, very scary! We are so thankful to all our friends that helped at the time, and continued to support us when we got home.

After the unfortunate incident, I really scaled back on my training. It was just beyond awful to watch my son screaming as his dad lay lifeless on the ground during a race. I'm still having a hard time getting my head around the risk I am taking every time I do a race. I know that life is full of risks, but some of the pure joy of running as been sucked out by the trauma. I know I will come to terms with it, and my family still wants me to race, but I am just running casually for the time being. Without the motivation, it is hard to push myself - and it has been wonderful to sleep in!

So, for now, my life is a little less hectic. I'm running with the group a few days a week - probably averaging about 80 - 90 miles a week, very easily. I'm running a couple of marathons for fun with my friends, going for coffee after the runs, and eating lots of cupcakes. As you see from my last post, I was already at a crossroads in my life before Portland, and now I am really trying to get some clarity. I know I want to keep racing, but I will probably just focus on the races I really like, rather than the ones I feel like I "should" do. Racing has only worked for me when it has been pursued by passion, not pressure. And on the road, I hope to rekindle that passion, not just for running, but for life.

Happy life!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

At fifteen, life had taught me undeniably that surrender, in its place, was as honorable as resistance, especially if one had no choice. - Maya Angelou

I don't really know how I feel about this quote, but it hit a nerve, so I decided to use it. I haven't blogged since January because... well, I just didn't feel up to it. I wasn't sure what I wanted this blog to be. I got bored when I only posted about running, but I was embarrassed about putting too much of myself out there. After my achilles injury, I was very unsure how I would do at the 24 Hour World Cup in May. I couldn't race all spring, so I went into the event "cold," hoping I'd done enough training and that I was healthy. I'd also been in a slump personally, trying to decide where to go with my running and my other career (practicing law), since my kids were becoming teenagers. How serious of a runner did I want to be? Did I want to practice law again? Or did I want to do something else, and if so, what? I just couldn't get myself to post all of this angst on this blog.

So, the World Cup is over, and we had a great time - US Women took the silver medal - and I almost PR'd (126.25). Italy was beautiful and we loved being with the team, both before and during the race. It is a great group of people. I won't bore you with a race report because several months have passed and several good reports have already been published elsewhere. Suffice it to say, it was a wonderful experience!

I really thought once the pressure of Worlds was over, I would get out of my rut and get clear on what I want to do. But it didn't happen. I've struggled all summer with motivation and the desire to make the "right" decision. I just don't know what that is. It is a very uncomfortable place to be. As runners, we are used to taking the bull by the horns, and solving a problem with sheer determination and will. We know that we can withstand a lot of discomfort and pain, and that if we are focused, we will succeed. But that isn't happening this time. My sister told me I was becoming "frantic" worrying about my unresolved life. I don't necessarily feel frantic, but I do feel confused, and frankly, a little bit sad. I want to be driven and focused. That is what I am comfortable with. I don't do well with shades of gray that require me to sit back, wait, and see how things turn out. I want Action, Strength, Courage, and all the other adjectives favored by members of the Coast Guard. But the universe seems to be asking me to chill, and that, I am not good at.

On the home front, we had a wonderful Sunday. I slept in, then did an easy 10 miles alone on the river. It was a little bit overcast, so I didn't suffer too much for waiting until the sun came up to run. After a quick shower, we headed to a new outdoor cafe and had a delicious brunch. I had egg, spinach, red peppers, goat cheese, and aoli sauce on foccaccia and tons of coffee. Yum! After we finished, we went on a two hour hike in the Franklin Mountains. It was beautiful! We've had lots of rain, so everything was really green. We hiked a trail I'd never done, so we had fun scouting the area. With temperatures over 100 degrees, we were all thrilled to jump in the pool when we were done! I pool ran for another 30 minutes while Tim and the boys rough housed, and then we all sat on the side like turtles soaking up the end of the day's rays (don't tell my dermatologist). After showers, we are going to have homemade lasagna for dinner and then watch a movie. I'm tired, but satisfied.

I hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

To live is so startling, it leaves little time for anything else. - Emily Dickinson

Life is always full of surprises, both good and bad. If you do it right, there is definitely never a dull moment. Sometimes, the trick lies in making the right choices about how you deal with what is thrown at you. Recently, I have handled some things well and some things badly. Sigh.

On the injury front, my achilles is so much better! Yeah! As I mentioned, I listened to my doc and stopped running. I was finally able to resume this week and it feels great. I'm not going crazy with it, though, just getting back in the groove, putting in easy miles. And at this point, this matters because I need to get busy if I plan to race this year!

With some races still up in the air, I'm going to have to change my schedule. I don't think I will have enough time to do a 100 miler in March like I had intended. I want my achilles to be super strong because I think I will be running on an asphalt course again and it just beats the snot out of my ligaments and tendons. I'd like to break 130 miles this year, so physical health is of utmost importance. This means lots of miles (my favorite), good nutrition (not my favorite), and lots of rest. I think I will have more company this training cycle because some of my running group has decided to train for a 50 miler (probably PCT - the best 50 miler!) and they want some longer runs. This will be awesome, because I've always had to do most my of miles alone. I will love the company!

Right now, I'm making beef barley soup. There is a nasty bug going around and Tim is laid up with it. We had to cancel a trip to Cloudcroft for sledding because he wasn't fit to travel. Hopefully a little homemade soup and some rest will have him back on his feet soon. So, tomorrow, my intended rest day, will be a long run/walk day.

Next weekend, I'm going to Rock n Roll Phoenix. I was planning to pace my nephew, but now I'm just going to jog/walk it. Some good friends, Salvador and Luis, have agreed to take over pacing duties since I can't risk hurting myself again. What would we do without our friends? It will be a fun weekend, as about 20 people from our running group are going - we always have a blast together!

Back to my soup! Happy Running!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Rock On 2009!

You only live once - but if you work it right, once is enough. - Joe E. Lewis

Whew! 2009 is finally here! I was ready to close the book on 2008 and get busy with a new year! I just turned in my first column as President of Run El Paso, our local running club. I am super excited about serving because this is one of the greatest groups of people I know. We have the best time training for, and planning, our races, logging in the miles, and having post-long run breakfasts. It is a very diverse group, which makes it that much more fun to be a member.

I'm also feeling healthy - yeah! My achilles feels strong, I'm rested, and I'm ready to get back to work. As much as I complained about the time off, it has done me a world of good. Some niggling little issues that plagued me before Korea are completely resolved, and had I not been forced to stop to rest my achilles, they very well could have become BIG issues in 2009. Sometimes life steps in and makes decisions for us that we think are negative, but in reality, serve us far better than the ones we make for ourselves.

Because of my achilles setback, I have not made a race schedule for 2009. I think I will try to get in a 50 miler in March and then go for the big race in May. I hope to run a couple other races in the Fall/Winter months, maybe try for Javelina Jundred this year. I've always wanted to do it, but needed to run Ultracentric, and they are at the same time. In the meantime, I am ready to get my running miles up and my cross-training miles down :)

On the personal front, I am ready for some new adventures! I'm hoping to get a chance to do some diving, one of my favorite activities, but hard to do when you live in El Paso. Last year, we got so sick in Hawaii that I never had the chance to dive. Hopefully, we can fix that this year. I'd also like to do some skiing before the snow melts. I'm not particulary good at it, but I want my kids to be comfortable skiing, so I am going to suck it up and go. On the random front, I think I'm going to buy a canoe or kayak. I've been going back and forth on it for a couple of years, but this year I'm going to get one. Even if I only use it here and there, I think it will be fun to have. Finally, I want to sign up for for the St. Croix reef swim (http://www.swimrace.com/), a five mile open water swim around a reef in the Caribbean. I love the Caribbean, the water is warm and clear, there aren't too many sharks, and there are so many different islands to visit, each with its own personality and flavor.

I'm really enjoying reading everyone's plans for the new year. Thanks for sharing them with all of us out here in Bloggertopia!

Happy Running!