Sunday, October 26, 2014

An Open Letter to My Crazies

As you can tell, I believe in the power of words.  Oftentimes, my verbal delivery doesn't quite pack enough emotion or truth in what I write.  It's easier for me to take the time, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to share my thoughts.  Letters, for me, go way back.  I had a few pen pals when I was younger, from Girl Scout coordinated pairings or new friendships established during a family vacation.  I was the honored recipient of a few beautiful letters — two, that I recall, from my Dad and one from my fiancĂ© (the night before our wedding).  In the day of computers, we've gotten away from this level of personal interaction, but on the other hand, we've been given a stage to proclaim our message to the masses.  Today, I will do just that.
In my adult life I have never been supported by so many crazy women glued together by one thing — running.  As our relationships developed, we discovered a lot more commonalities with our parenting, worldly views, and the solace in good running clothes. Our time together, ordinarily running, brought out raw emotions — the ideal situation for bonding.  We learned our likes and dislikes; our adult beverages of choice and dietary pickiness.  We commiserated over a shitty hill and rejoiced in seeing each other accomplish wonderful feats of fitness.  We symbolically ran arm in arm through months of training runs - long and short; good and bad.
In one week, I will be running the New York City Marathon.  I trained more (and smarter) than I ever have in my life.  I am confident in myself that I could have done this on my own; however, I would not have made it this far with as much grace - I share this experience with you.  I'll be running the race with 50,000 people in the running community, but I'll be physically on my own.  Mentally and emotionally, you ladies will be on my mind and in my heart.
Thank you for believing in me.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rewiring Dreams

I've been called an old lady by some of my charming friends because of my early bedtime.  Sometimes, I'll hit the pillow as early at 8 pm; sometimes I'll make a valiant effort to stay up after putting the kids to bed, but that just results in me passing out on the couch 30 minutes later.  Before kids I would pass out on people's couches, or even worse, I'd put my head down on the bar, or on the table to take a quick snooze.  My body knows when a hard reset is required; nothing can stop it.

I normally don't have trouble falling asleep and I slip into a very restful evening of paralysis; Oh and dreaming.  I usually have vivid dreams that I remember in detail.  Some of these dreams have had such an impact that they cannot be erased.  I could dazzle you with the story of my one childhood recurring dream or my accounts of lead singers falling in love with me.  I could also tell you the countless times in which I've tried to run without success.  Whether I was running in a race or away from an assailant, I can't seem to move myself forward.  In most cases, I feel as if I'm trying to run through a chest high tub of quicksand - I'm moving nowhere fast.  I exert so much energy trying to propel myself forward that I get exhausted and need to quit.  This is such a frustrating situation; sometimes it's a terrifying if I can't get away from the 'bad guy'.  Over the years, I somehow educated my dream self that if I turned around I could successfully run with a lot more mobility.  Sure, I was running backward, but I made progress.

I read that slow running in dreams is the reflection of low self-esteem and lack of self-confidence.  Okay.  That might be fair in certain situations.  But I changed my direction.  Like one of those dumb kids in the Freddy Kruger movies, I subconsciously figured out how to run facing forward, without being held back.  I moved through the streets, light on my feet and the wind waving through my hair. For the first time in my life I could run fast (facing forward) in my dream.

I need to take a stand and change it up; then I can run free.
Forward Progress

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Six years.
I laced up my first pair of running shoes a little more than six years ago.  That seems like such a long time from today.  I've told this story a thousand times - I needed to lose the baby weight and get my ass into some sort of gear other than neutral.  Who really knew I'd make it this far?  Certainly not I; I never really believed in myself.
I said before that I might live in Pennsylvania, but my heart is in New York City.  It's been a long while since I really rocked NYC; I spent about (ha) six years of my life on Staten Island and made several hundred trips to the city via the ferry.  I used to know my way around certain parts of the city; I found joy getting lost in others.
About three months post my first run I set a future goal, a lofty goal.  I would run the New York City Marathon.  It took a few years for me to really get behind the idea of running a marathon.
So here I am.
Nine days away from the NYC Marathon.
I feel my face light up when I'm asked about the race.
I'm a little nervous about the logistics of navigating the city for an expo, the start and the eventual finish surrounded by 50,000 participants.  I could explode thinking about the pace needed to hit my goal time and I'm skittish about the weather possibilities (please don't be bitter cold, please don't be bitter cold - damn, it's going to suck going over those bridges if it's windy).

But, again, here I am, with a giant smile on my face counting down the days until I'm back in the city kicking ass and taking names.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dropping Knowledge

I've been off of work since Thursday and it already feels like a two week hiatus.  I spent Thursday morning on the road for 5 miles, followed by teaching a Vinyasa flow-style yoga class.  The afternoon was filled with a parent/teacher conference, a trip to visit my brother at work, a quick grocery store stop and a quiet evening at home.  Friday, which will remain detail-less (your welcome you know who you are), except for a kids run in the evening.

My Cuties

For the third year in a row, I would be participating in the Runner's World Half and Festival 'Hat Trick' held in Bethlehem, PA.   The event features kids runs, 5K, 10K, dog run and a half marathon over the course of three days.  The Hat Trick event is a compilation of the 5K, 10K (Saturday) and the half marathon (Sunday).  With two weeks to the NYC Marathon, the races would just add mileage to my bank.  I'm on the downhill slope of my marathon training; slapping three races in the mix would just be icing.  So many details to share, but this post is not a race report.
I learned a lot just in these three days - I'll call them snippets of information that will be useful in my future, and maybe yours.

  1. There's no real need to shower before a race.  You're gonna have to shower again anyway.
  2. Pinning the bib BEFORE you put on the shirt will ensure the placement isn't 'all jacked up'.  Genius.  Can't believe I've never done this before.  Just watch those pins
  3. Seek out the best bathrooms.  When presented with the option of a portable potty in the middle of a parking lot or an indoor, heated bathroom, choose wisely.  
  4. 40 degrees isn't yet cold enough to produce a substantial snot rocket.  (Jealous of your runner friends who 'nail' the rocket every time?  Learn here.)
  5. In a race, you will usually encounter runners who do any one of the following (avoid these people at all costs):
    • breathe heavily as if they're being intimate or violently passing away
    • stop short at a water station causing a runner pile up
    • run with music so loud that it pulls you away from your rhythmic breathing practice
    • play the run fast past then run slow in front of you game
    • pass gas
    • chant mantras (such as 'I love Muffin')
    • yell incessantly at other runners (oh wait...that's me)
  6. If you're running with friends, and you encounter any of the above people, give each other strange looks and giggle...a lot.  
  7. Before attempting to spit during a race, ensure your perimeter is clear, THEN CHECK AGAIN.
  8. When running a half marathon in Bethlehem, PA, if multiple spectators inform you that there's 'one more hill' do not believe them.  They're lying.  
  9. Drinking water out of soft Deer Park cups tastes like crayons.  It's wiser to keep the cup away from your mouth.  (And yes, I have eaten crayons).
  10. If a shuttle bus is available, gather your friends and sit in the back.  Cause trouble.  Repeat.