Monday, December 29, 2014

You're Still Writing?!?

I sat down to write this post two days ago.  Of course, I didn't focus full time on pull in this together, but it did take a decent amount of time.  Ava asked me about a half hour ago, 'You're still writing?!'.  I thank her for the reworked title.

If memory serves me well, this will be my third 'end of year' post.  Minus the time commitment, I do enjoy reflecting on the past twelve months: I relive some moments, reread a few posts and think about what goals to set in the upcoming year.

YOGA
I rounded the 2013 corner into 2014 with the continuation of my 200 hour yoga teacher training.  Finally, there was an end in sight: April 2014.  I knew, leading up to my final class, that I'd be missing the St. Luke's Half Marathon, but I made peace with that fact, as I made a commitment to finish my training.  Never one to take on too much, I studied for my ACE health coach certification in my spare time and successfully passed my exam in the middle of an amazing 'me time' week in May.
I have been teaching yoga for about ten years at a number of locations, both gym and studio settings. After having my Allison in 2011, I took an extended hiatus from teaching a number of weekly classes.  At the end of 2013, I picked up a 'regular' class, teaching in a studio every four weeks.  The structure of my teacher training and the more frequent teaching gig reinforced my focus on my personal practice.  I developed a new confidence in my teachings with the hopes of sharing my passion with those around me.  I always believed in the complementary benefits yoga offers the running lifestyle and I wanted to show other runners how the two blended well, like coffee and cream.  I developed enough content to hold a 'yoga for the runner' workshop.  I plan to offer the same workshop again in 2015.
I pounced on opportunities to sub classes for a medically based fitness facility which paid me back ten fold in exposure.  As luck would have it, I was approached to develop content for an amputee support group.  This charge put me well out my comfort zone, but I welcomed the change to do something different.  Months later, I was asked if I had availability to teach a yoga class for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.  Are you freakin' kidding me?  Uh, yes please.  I've since taught three classes (which are mandatory per Coach) to the team's full roster nearly 20 years my junior.  We're crammed in a small studio for roughly an hour, but the time is well spent — at least from my perspective.  If only they knew I was a die hard NY Rangers fan.

RUNNING - Breakin' Records
I have a difficult time reigning in my adrenaline when I toe the starting line.  Well, I don't every really 'toe the line', but in some cases, I come very close.  I'm more of a middle-of-the-pack starter.  I try to focus on the mantra of 'I'm just going to run', leading up to a race, but something changes in the hours/minutes before the start.  My mantra shifts to 'Do work'.  That's what happened this year when I broke almost every Personal Record set years before and found myself actually placing in my age group (AG).  

  • St. Pat's 5K is the opening race of MY season.  Already registered for the 2015 race, I'm hoping to PR.  
  • The Emmaus 4 Miler kicked my ass this year.  That's a small price to pay for placing 3rd in my AG.
  • Last year I vowed to run a race in OBX while on our vacation.  I feared that it would have been canceled in light of a Category 2 Hurricane.  I guess that I underestimated these hardcore race organizers.  I placed 1st in my AG.  
  • For the 3rd year in a row, I tackled the Runner's World Hat Trick - three races (5K, 10K & 1/2), over two days.  I PR'd the 10K, but the highlight of that event was watching my kids cross the finish line in their races.  
  • I kicked some serious ass in the NYC Marathon.  I'm still gushing.  I kicked so much ass that it warranted two posts (#1 & #2).  Yea, I kicked ass.
  • I ran my first cross country (XC) race as part member of my road runner's team.  There's nothing like a XC race to make you feel like the slowest runner in the entire universe.  
MEMORIES - Old and New
As I look back at my posts, I wrote a lot of reflective pieces on my childhood (Jersey Shore vacations and hanging at my grandmother's house) and more recent memories (listening to Jazz while drinking Earl Grey tea in my dorm room and being with my dog).  
I looked forward to creating new memories such as hiking with my Ava and continuing the OBX tradition.  

BITCHES, BOOKS, and BUBBLY
This time last year, I celebrated the 40th birthday of a fellow crazy.  We gathered early on a Saturday morning to log 13.1 miles in the Parkway.  As I mention in the post, we ran for health and friendship.  I'm happy to report, that this friendship continued through 2014 and is going strong.  We celebrated each other and our families; we banded together in support through challenging times.  We picked up another crazy along the way, who crossed over following a short pledging program (ahem, she was maced by another crazy, accidentally, of course).  They've changed the way I approach my running and they've given me the support when I needed a confidence boost.  Some may say that they're responsible for the decay of my tough exterior.  I could seriously write a book.
Wow, that was a wonderful segue.  
One crazy, in particular, has encouraged me, from the sidelines, to put my stories in print.  This book, is currently under construction.  I hope to have a full manuscript ready for submission by the end of 2015.  

WEATHER
Where there are Robertsssss' there will be weather, oftentimes, extreme weather.  
I'd like to believe that we should be held responsible for the following 2014 weather events:

To wrap up this already too long, disjointed post, a few notes worth mentioning, some that I carry from year to year:
  1. I owe everything to my family.  They support Muffin's Madness - both good and bad.  
  2. I did see a few movies in the theater.  Oh, and I didn't fall asleep!
  3. I continued my second year of rocking out more intensely Foo Fighters.  Their latest album was released late enough in the year that I need more time with it.  
  4. I read quite a few books having nothing to do with running.  I'll pick a handful to read in 2015.
  5. I wasn't able to complete my tee shirt quilt, again.  I'm just a little overwhelmed with the whole process.  
    • I crafted other things…including my secret Santa gift, which has yet to be revealed.
    • I’m probably going to outsource the quilt.  eff it.
  6. In 2013, I published 28 posts.  I blew that out of the water this year with 57 (includes this post).  Crap.  Not sure if I can keep this momentum through 2015.  We shall see.  Will a draft manuscript make up for the lack of posts?  You be the judge. 
  7. I will continue to train hard and break 2014 PR's.  Biggest race goal for 2015 - qualify for Boston in the Lehigh Valley Health Network Marathon for Via in September.  Whelp, now that's out there.  
Happy New Year, friends!
Thank you again for being with me on this blogging journey.  You are my silent audience - laughing, crying and screaming with me.  Cheers for a happy and healthy 2015!

Love.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

In the Shadows

For the first time in four days, I didn't run in the morning.

I ran Friday.
I ran Saturday.
I raced Sunday - good enough for 4th in my age group.
I ran Monday.

Today, I slept.

The girls stayed up a little later tonight to wrap gifts.  After I tucked them in bed, I suited up to continue my run streak with a mile in the basement.  In pajama pants and a sweatshirt, I walked downstairs and turned on the treadmill.  I kept only the stairwell light on since I can barely reach the pull for the bulb in the far corner of the basement.  The glow from both the display and the stairwell was enough to cast a shadow of myself on the adjacent wall.  I quickly glanced at the wall, then again, back to the wall ahead of me.

I felt so vulnerable among the shadows.  In a split second, I could lose my footing, or shift my gait and fly off the back of the treadmill.  Everything, without a moment's notice, could be changed forever.  The fragility of life began to suffocate me.  All that I know, all that I feel, contained in this perfect bubble, could have the air sucked out.  The overwhelming possibilities of this reality crushes my chest.  I can no longer take a deep breath.

And, with that, the treadmill hit 1 mile.
For now, the rest of those thoughts will have to remain in the shadows until next time.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Blinking Cursor

There's so much going on in my head right now, but all I can do is stare at this blinking cursor.  I push it around the page with my fingers, but when I pause to take a breath or organize a thought, it just laughs in my face, mocking me.

I know all the words I want to flow from the keyboard; however, the organization isn't quite there.  Backspace, backspace — lost in time.

This morning, I hit a local trail for a milestone run.  No, the distance wasn't remarkable and the landscape wasn't earth shattering, rather, I ran the farthest since the NYC Marathon.  We endured for eight miles - 4 miles out; 4 miles back.  We painted ourselves into that corner.

With three or so miles to go, I pulled away from the group.  The faster pace felt great on my legs — the cold air bled through the fabric, kissing my skin with frosty lips.  I had enjoyed the company for the first five miles, but something more powerful drove me to head out in front.  I spent the rest of the run trying to stop myself from drowning in the pool of my past.

A long time ago, I got knocked down.  So much time needed to pass before I was able to crawl.  I picked myself up, more than once, and pressed on.  I worked hard to get up again; this time, walking away.  I didn't even glance over my shoulder, although I knew eyes were still on me.  It took more time to shake the burning eyes drilled into the back of my head.  My skin crawled as I ran; faster and harder.

There is no escape, only temporary solace.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Don't Ask

Why am I still awake?
Do not ask. 
You pose a great question.  
No focus - conversation.
 
Running on little sleep. 
Hurts, oh so.
Contemplate to break the streak. 
Pressure, pride & a poem tweak. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Space

Just filling up space on the inter webs with this crappy post.
I ran a mile.
#rwrunstreak going strong


Monday, December 15, 2014

Tapestry

I got up at 4:35 this morning to meet the ladies for a 5 am run.  The temperature hovered just above 40 degrees, but the recent lack of sunshine is sucking the light from my soul.  I wore way more clothing than I should have — initially, I felt comfortable in my layers; by the time I hit two miles, I felt the material suffocating me.  Our miles in darkness, with no headlamps, tested our ability to sustain a zippy pace. I wanted to walk a few times, but pressed on; that decision was a matter of pride.  Four lousy miles later, we were done.

And, on went the day.

Here I sit, sixteen hours later, on my couch.  The pillows envelop me, trying to keep me protected from the cold.  Soon, it's happening already, the pillows will consume me and take me from the rest of this day.  Just like the tapestry that hung in my college dorm — consuming those who fell victim to the trance.

Perhaps, that's a story for tomorrow?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ciao, Bella!

Today's Sunday was all about cultural heritage, specifically, Italian heritage.  Ava selected Italy as her featured country.  She learned words like 'ciao', 'arrivederci', and 'famiglia' from my Dad.  He talked to her about his family and where in Italy ('the high-heeled boot, as Ava referenced) they originated. My Mom made pizzelle's (oldest Italian cookie) with her; they made enough to feed each of Ava's classmates.  I spent the afternoon making tomato sauce (ahem, gravy) to accompany my rice ball with beef casserole.  Thank God for sharp provolone.

Domenica lezioni di italiano con nonno
I topped off my Sunday supper with two glasses of wine before hitting the treadmill for my mile.  The wine sloshed in my belly with each stride; I occasionally grabbed onto the handrails to catch myself.  I definitely ran my slowest mile in a while.  I couldn't believe that I ran 8-ish minute miles yesterday; I could barely muster a 10 minute mile.

Photography Credit: Jill Forsythe
I didn't run my fastest yesterday, but I had a great time, considering it was my first cross country experience.  For most of the race I hung with that woman in the green singlet.  We played a game of 'Frogger' mid-race, until I finally passed her on a hilly turn.  I caught up with her after we crossed to congratulate her on a great race.  She helped me kick it at the end.
And, today, I couldn't even run a 9 minute mile.
Damn you, running...playing games with my head.



Saturday, December 13, 2014

USATF National Club Cross Country Championship

I ran my first Cross Country race today...with my usual running shoes.
Representing Lehigh Valley Road Runners as the hosting organization, I was a member of the 2nd women's 6K open team.  The USA Track & Field National Championship event was held on the campus of Lehigh University.  I won't bore you with the details (and I'm tired), but I put up an okay show considering my late start (12:45 pm) on minimal nutrition.  There were a two very muddy sections, but other than that, the course was great.

Definitely need to take the Crazies there.

Women's Master's 6K Start

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Drive

People continue to amaze me:
I sat on my ass dreading my 1 mile run in the cold basement. I'd would have rather gone to bed.  There I was, with a warm laptop laid across my extended legs soaking up the heat from the pellet stove.  I got sucked into surfing.  
In my travels through the interconnected webs I come across a picture of a woman with a beaming smile, standing next to Bart Yasso of Runner's World.
This proud woman had finished the Richmond Half Marathon (which was held last month) while battling Stage 4 Cancer. Yesterday, she lost her fight. 
Tonight I got up off my ass and ran a mile for her.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes

A few months back I signed up to be a mystery reader in my daughter's 1st grade class.  Today was the day.  When I hear the word 'mystery' I think of my Mom; I think of Agatha Christie and Nancy Drew; I think of being in disguise.  I planned to show up, in disguise, as the mystery reader.  My work day was interrupted by a 4 hour break, which I highly recommend that everyone try at least once.  It's quite rejuvenating to work a few hours, leave for personal reasons and return mid-afternoon to finish the day.  I left work promptly at 10 am to log a few miles on the treadmill.  For about 1.5 miles of walking I caught up with an old co-worker.  I didn't expect to walk that long, but the conversation was most welcomed.  At the close of our exchange, I kicked up the speed a few notches and took off for 2.5 miles.
I hurried home to grab two books ("Harold and the Purple Crayon" and "If I Ran the Circus") and change into my disguise.  I spent some time trying to stuff all my hair into the cropped blonde wig.  I slipped into a 'grandma' style sweater and accessorized my animal print pants with a pair of boots.  Sunglasses and lipstick completed the look.
The women at the school's front office couldn't believe my outfit.  I guess mystery readers don't really dress up!  I signed in, waiting a few minutes in the lobby before getting permission to head to the classroom.  As I entered the room, I noticed all the kiddos camped out on the carpet waiting for their special guest.  The teacher glanced at me when a confused eye before asking me a few questions, such as: "What are you here for?" and "Which classroom are you looking for?"  I thought she was playing along, until I realized that she had no clue who was standing before her.  Less than 5 minutes later, I took off my sunglasses.  Ava's gaze changed and her mouth dropped as she buried her face in her hands.  She turned beet red watching me pull the wig off of my head.  Lots of hugs, smiles, and two books later, I'd say that the 30 minute event was a success.


A few people think I'm nuts for doing this, but the kids and I had fun.  Besides, we all go a little mad sometimes.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

New Things

I finally started playing around with iMovie.  I still suck at it, but it's getting there.
This movie should redeem me from my horrible first vlog posted a few days ago.  I'm not taking it down from my site, but I'm certainly not going to flaunt it.  


I'm not happy that I'm unable to play the perfect track due to copywriting issues.  Oh well, it's a start.

And yes, I ran my mile today.  

Jazz Therapy

No music here. 
My post, late last night, mentioned the sweet Jazz sounds paired with good company and tea. 

Today, there was no other option to soothe my soul. 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Swirling Cups of Tea

I completely forgot that I didn't post a blog yesterday. This run/blog streak has me questioning my activities in the day.  "Did I run my mile already?"  Sometimes a mile is a single event, whereas other times, it's sandwiched between other miles.  Today was a different story.  Some of the Crazies and I planned to run this morning, but for varying reasons it was not going to happen for any of us.  During the colder, darker months I swear that my usually dormant mono comes to life.  The lack of sun does a number on my psyche and begins to tear down my muscles.  Perhaps most of these feelings (both mentally and physically) are just the result of hypochondriac thinking; perhaps they are not.  Nevertheless, I could barely move my body this morning.  Of course, I became annoyed that I didn't take advantage of the opportunity knock off my mile in the wee hours of the morning.  Instead, I juggled many thoughts, one of them trying to figure out when I'd run.
I worked from home today, but needed to go in for a meeting closer to end of day.  All that changed by 9 am, when the appointment got rescheduled for 1 pm.  Well, crap, there goes my opportunity to Runch (run at lunch).  The remainder of the afternoon unfolded to offer me only one time slot - after the girls' bedtime.  As minutes blossomed into hours, my body began to break down.  Everything started to hurt.  I felt uncomfortable in my skin.  The nagging back pain that presents when I have abdominal pain returned.  I tried to stretch out my aches to no avail.  Suddenly, I was craving a full yoga practice.  Wow.  A full yoga practice (for me - Ashtanga Primary Series) takes roughly 90 minutes from start to finish.  I certainly wouldn't have that kind of time to crank that out, but my body told me it had to happen.  She can be so bossy.
I made a delicious dish of chicken marsala and a side of massaged kale with orange peppers and tangerine pieces.  I tried to eat light knowing that I'd be running a mile and possibly hitting the mat.  Allison played with scissors (in the most appropriate way), while the hubbs and I worked with Ava on her cultural project for school.  Thirty minutes from bedtime, the girls watched a short show with a bowl of popcorn in hand.  Two empty bowls later, I put the girls to bed and ran my mile.

Damn you, left hamstring for annoying the rest of my left leg.  Back off shoulders get away from my ears.  Ugh, I needed a good stretch in the worst way.  I hit my mile and shut off the treadmill before heading upstairs to the warm family room.  The pellet stove blasted heat from it's belly.  I unrolled my mat facing the stove hoping to get lost in the fire.  I set the TV to the jazz channel and began my practice with 5 Sun Salutation A's.  My eyes got lost in the fire and my mind got lost in the jazz.  I was reminded of cool/cold nights sitting in my dorm room with a good friend.  (It felt like) every night, we'd sit adjacent to each other, with an end table between us listening to jazz radio.  The paraphernalia on the table included two steaming hot mugs of Earl Grey tea, dressed with sugar cubes and cream.  We drank and smoked; we talked and listened.  We got lost and didn't want to be found.  And that's where I wound up this evening.  I got lost in my mat and opted to not be found.

Lost

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Nice Little Saturday

Slept in as permitted
Empty coffee.  Repeated.
Tree trimmed, holiday spirit
Safe from the storm, not to fear it

Life's triumph; young and old
Dining together, a bond foretold
A mile away, a mile behind
Head to pillow, my drifting mind









Friday, December 5, 2014

Memories

This morning I ran one mile on the treadmill while sobbing.  At times, I needed to hang onto the handles to keep myself on the belt.  I had one focus that I couldn't shake - my dog.  If you have followed my blog I posted almost two years ago one serious tear jerker.  I poured my heart out onto that page.  I told myself that I wouldn't link to that post here.
So many memories of him running through my mind that I believe were triggered when I put the stupid tree skirt on last night.  When I was 'mature' enough to put up a tree in my own apartment, my mom gave me a box of trimmings, which included a small, plaid tree skirt.  But wait, it didn't stop there; a black felt schnauzer repeats around the base of the skirt.  Don't misunderstand my words, for the skirt isn't too tacky.  It's just, in my opinion, a random item from my mom's travels.  We did not have a dog growing up and when we occasionally entertained the thought of getting a dog, a schnauzer never made the list.
Last night, as with every holiday season, I crawled around the floor, under the tree, to place the skirt around the base of the tree as best as I could manage.  And there they were, random dog hairs.  I made a Captain Obvious statement, "There are dog hairs on this tree skirt" and let the silence fall on my ears.  I sighed as I dropped my shoulders to overextend my arm to the opposite end of the skirt.  My head fell forward.  I relaxed my arm to the floor and let my head hang for a few seconds, taking in that moment of another holiday tree trimming without the Buddy.
For those of you who remember, I still haven't replaced the bulb in the back porch light.  Occasionally, I accidentally flip that switch mistaking it for the laundry room light.  As if the future of mankind depended on that switch residing in the 'off' position, I quickly correct it, never once forgetting the symbolism of that beacon in the night.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Week 1, Run Streak - Check

I hit five + miles this morning with the Crazies.  We ran one of my rough routes consisting of unsuspecting hills followed my a few more hills.  We didn't appear to have much energy, but we powered through to finish in under 50 minutes.
The streak continues.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

First Time for Everything

Had to get the mile in today after dinner. I was lazy this morning; I just couldn't peel myself out from underneath all the layers. So snugly.

I ran in a mean pair of boots (think: Army issued boots). My shins are WARM. How do those guys do it for distance? I'll never know. 

Listen to a brief description of my mile today in my first ever vlog.

video

I don't really run like that.
I don't really talk like that.
I think I really resemble the dude that is in the Marathon Thoughts video.  Ugh.
It was a challenge to hold the phone while running in those boots.
Whatever.

More to come.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

One - Ha Ha Ha

One.
One mile (nestled in three).
One steaming cup of coffee.
One foam roller.
One yoga mat.
One.

Ha Ha Ha


(and then I thought of Metallica's One, which seems to trump the Count.)


Monday, December 1, 2014

Lunchtime Lynchpin

Instead of meeting up with the ladies for a 5 am 5 mile run, I opted to snuggle a little longer.  Ahhh, the extra snoozing time was needed.  This morning was relatively relaxed as it came to the usual get ready routing.  Alli wanted to snuggle and Ava had difficulties waking up.  I struggled with a fresh pimple on my face, a situation temporarily relieved by a delicious cup of coffee.
Ava and the hubbs went to the bus stop while I stayed behind organizing my items for the day ahead. I heard the bus cruising by the house and immediately walked into the dining room to peer out the window.  The red lights on the cheese wagon flashed until the bug resumed movement.  I blew a kiss and said good-bye with a wave as the bus coasted over the hill.  A wave of sadness crashed over me.  

I felt distracted the rest of the day, but I logged a mile prior to lifting over lunch.  I tried my best to focus on the work, at hand, but I was mildly distracted by the gym rats who spent more time socializing and flexing in the mirror than actually doing anything physical.  As that lunchtime mile faded further into the distance of my day, I became more and more thankful for getting it out of the way.  I longed to get home, throw on my pajamas and have a glass of wine.  My evening didn't turn out as glamorous, but I did accomplish those tasks.  

So here I sit, listening to the sound of the heat and the spin of the washing machine by myself.  I'm struggling to stay awake, but I need to get those clothes in the dryer.  And finish this obligatory post.