Is Running a Kind of Meditation? (Part I)

“I’m a lover of reality. When I argue with What Is, I lose, but only 100% of the time.”

Byron Katie.

A good portion of my previous post dealt with my current relationship with running. Although I’m devoting less of my time to this particular hobby lately, I don’t see it as taking a back seat or being put on hold. Rather, running is converging into a bigger picture of health and balance that is more in-the-moment but maybe also more sustainable. This picture has been heavily anchored by mindfulness practices, which are beginning to permeate many areas of my life including running.

Both running and mindfulness meditation could be described as repetitive in nature, solitary in practice, and often challenging to perform and maintain. Running Meditators (and Meditating Runners) acknowledge the overlapping qualities of these activities to amplify the benefits inherent in both. It’s also possible (but not always the case, as you’ll read below) to meditate on the run.

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“While there’s much to gain from performing the physical activity, there’s a lot we’re missing out on when we slip into a semi-conscious state when doing the exercise. It’s pretty normal for the mind to wander when you’re running, regardless of whether the thoughts are related to the running itself, or something quite separate. But the only way to ensure that you’re performing to the very best of your ability, is to leave the thinking behind and allow the body and mind to work together with a combined physical and mental focus.”

Via The Huffington Post / Headspace App

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“Meditating before running could change the brain in ways that are more beneficial for mental health than practicing either of those activities alone…”

A study published in April 2016 found that depressed subjects who practiced meditation followed by a 30 minute run, showed a significant change in brain activity and a 40 percent reduction in symptoms after just 8 weeks.

Via The New York Times

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“Running and meditation are very personal activities. Therefore they are lonely. This loneliness is one of their best qualities because it strengthens our incentive to motivate ourselves.”

“If we do not push ourselves enough, we do not grow, but if we push ourselves too much, we regress. What is enough will change, depending on where we are and what we are doing. In that sense, the present moment is always some kind of beginning.”

From Running with the Mind of Meditation by Sakyong Mipham

So we notice that running and meditation have lots of similarities and further, a symbiotic relationship. Meditation can help a runner’s performance, and physical activity can also have substantial benefit for a meditator. BUT – Is running meditation?

On a recent episode of the wonderful podcast “10% Happier with Dan Harris,” Dan and ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll discuss the difference between seated meditation and sports or other recreation:

Rich: “For many years as an ultra endurance athlete, like, I spent a lot of time in solitude training … and there’s certainly an active meditation component to that … and for many years I sort of said, well, that’s my meditation… but…

‘…There is something to a structured, formalized meditation practice that is qualitatively different from what you’re experiencing when you’re training.”

Dan: “One [of the reasons people give for not meditating] is: “‘Blank‘ is my meditation…. Running is my meditation. Gardening is my meditation. Petting my dog is my meditation.’ .. And my answer to that is: maybe. Depends on how you’re doing it. Like, if you run the way I run, which is that you’re rehearsing all the stuff you’re going to stay to your boss, or you’re listening to a podcast or listening to music, that is not meditation. If you are running and your headphones are out and you’re feeling your footfalls, you’re feeling the wind on your face, you’re feeling the motion of your body, and then every time you get distracted you start again – well then you’re meditating.”

How and why should we meditate while running? In part Part II of this post we’ll explore running meditation in practice and also look at the question “Should I meditate while running?”

 

 

 

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“Perhaps the earth can teach us, as when everything seems dead in winter and later proves to be alive.”

Pablo Neruda.

What’s going on? Not much blogging, it seems. So, if you will, bear with me for a post about the blog.

Although the name and “About” section of the WAWT blog suggests a more wide-ranging exploration of wellness in general, it’s obvious that the main focus up to now has been running. When my interest in the sport led me to races and wanting to discover more sophisticated training methods, run-centric blogs fulfilled a desire to learn and engage with athletes of all levels. And reading these blogs inspired me to share my own experience and insights not least because, as I’m sure many of you have learned, while family and friends are generally supportive, not everyone wants to hear the daily details of your marathon nutrition plan or splits from your morning tempo run. 🙂 In addition to serving as an outlet for my health pursuits, this blog began as a way for me reconnect with the joy of writing, which has always been a passion.

I began 2017 excited about some longer-term, lofty-but-probably-doable goals. But throughout the year, these ambitions have naturally fallen by the wayside and I haven’t forced myself back on the track because, honestly, they just feel too narrow. Running seems to be settling into my life in a way that is more integrated, balanced, and deeper. I’m less focused on quantitative goals, like running a particular race or making sure I get in a certain amount of miles so that I don’t “lose fitness.” Less concerned about what I “should” do and less fearful of what will “happen” if I don’t. Now, running is just THERE. I just trust it so much more… so generous and available whenever I need it!

So how am I filling all of this spare time now that I’m not eating, sleeping and exercising like a marathoner? Well, lots of yoga, vipassana meditation, reading, moisturizing my dry hands, discovering podcasts, cooking vegetables, finishing rounds of golf with IPAs, buying jigsaw puzzles, listening to music and I mean like REALLY trying to LISTEN. I’ve also gone on some beautiful, soul-nourishing runs. Basically, I am trying to, as much as I can, live with some fucking ease here, guys.

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So all of this preamble just to lock in an intention to use this platform to share, expand, and deepen my passion for physical and mental wellness, using this term as broadly as possible.

Finally, as you might know, “Well and Warm Together” is a line pulled from one of my favorite books, A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway:

“We ate well and cheaply and drank well and cheaply and slept well and warm together and loved each other.” 

I chose to name the blog after this quote because it reminds me about the small things that make living life more bearable, sometimes even exquisite and joyful. This is sort of the thesis of what I want this blog to be about, so I hope that some of you will continue to join me in this conversation!

Ok. That’s it. Oh jeez – I really didn’t mean to make this sound like some kind of eulogy for my running career… it’s not! ANYWAY I hope you’ll forgive some of the earnestness in this post too. I promise to try to infuse my natural proclivity for dry wit and sarcasm in to my future blog posts as I’ve attempted in the past. But goddamn all of this oneness with the universe is making me soft! 😛 Ok I’m really going to stop writing now.

xo

 

 

“Mellow as the Month of May.” (Half Marathon Training, week 4)

Carole King.

The first week of May coincided nicely with the very center of this training cycle. I find this month to be a particularly optimistic one with summer on the horizon and such. And optimistic would also be the perfect word for how I’m feeling about running lately. Although my Saturday long run was a bit draggy, all in all I came away very encouraged with the total mileage (first to creep near 30) and my Thursday interval session.

Monday 5/1: 3.4 miles easy (9’19” avg pace)

Tuesday 5/2: rest  Normally this is my strength training day. But I had a late night and poor sleep so my trainer was kind enough to move my appointment to Friday. This was both a blessing and a curse, as you’ll read below.

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rest day inspo courtesy of Darwin le Dog.

Wednesday 5/3: 4 miles easy (9’26” avg pace)

Thursday 5/4: 6 miles w/ 3x 1 mile at half marathon pace + 10-20 sec (8:30-8:40) w/ 1-2 min rest between sets (9’02” avg pace)  I ran my splits at 8’22”, 8’14”, and 8’22” all the while feeling extremely cruisey and controlled. So I was absolutely thrilled with this workout, especially coming off of a ho-hum weekend 5k.

Friday 5/5: Strength training

Saturday 5/6: 10 miles LSD (10’05” avg pace)  The first 7 miles were pretty rough, and I’m chalking this up to the previous Friday’s strength session. While I wasn’t particularly sore, still, David’s current plan includes this lower body triple punch: abductor, leg curl, followed by leg press. Then, just to completely knock out the hamstrings and glutes, we finish the workout on the lower back machine. Anyway, it was a good reminder why I should continue to schedule easy runs after strength days.

Sunday 5/7: 5 miles easy (9’33” avg pace)  If it hadn’t been for my boyfriend, I probably would have only done about 3 miles. John has been running a lot lately (he completed a 70 mile month in April!) but this was our first one together! It’s super motivating to have another runner in the house. And one of the best parts of this run was that he picked the route, so I could just follow along and not think too much. 🙂  

Total Weekly Mileage: 28.4

I’m pleased to have hit my target of 28 miles, and to find that on Monday I felt only a little tired and still fairly strong and uninjured. On the horizon: a 12 miler, more mile repeats, and a 5k part deux!

training diary: half marathon prep – week 1

As I mentioned in my last post, if all goes to plan then I will be busy training for a half marathon PR this spring/summer. First up is See Jane Run on June 4 in Alameda, followed by Santa Rosa in late August. I ran the Santa Rosa half back in 2014 and have done the 5k distance at See Jane Run twice.

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Bubbles @ SJR last year.

For this impending race, I have developed an 8-week training plan that’s fairly conservative and loose, targeting consistency while building up a comfortable base with 5 runs per week: 3 easy, a Thursday speed workout (low key-ish like fartleks or pace runs), and a weekend long run. As for tune up races, I’ve got a 5k race to close out April and then Bay to Breakers as usual on May 21.

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Breakers! 2017 will be my 5th consecutive year running. BTB is infamous for their back of the pack shenanigans, but I think that the actual race course is awesome and it’s definitely a contender for my favorite local race. It’s also hell of historic – the event began in 1912 as a way to lift the city’s spirits after the devastating 1906 earthquake.

So here’s how last week, April 10-16, played out:

Monday 4/10: Rest My intention had been a 4 mile run commute after work, but I was so exhausted from a fun-filled weekend that I decided that I might be better served by an early bedtime.

Tuesday 4/11: Superslow strength training Also – a brisk walk with Darwin to/from the studio.

Wednesday 4/12: 5 miles easy (9’20 avg pace)

Thursday 4/13: 3.6 miles fartleks @ 8x 1 min on 1 min off.  (9’14” avg pace) I was supposed to do 10 repeats but I didn’t have time! This was my first speed workout in a while so it’s just as well to get back into it probably.

Friday 4/14: 5.3 miles easy (9’10” avg pace) A very invigorating run. I really enjoy this loop that takes me through Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, and Mission Bay, passing AT&T Park right in the middle. Highlight of the week!

Saturday 4/15: 9.8 LSD (9’54” avg pace) My plan called for 9 miles, but I found one of those magical hidden trails in Golden Gate park, and so my halfway point went a little long. I was mildly annoyed because somehow my apple watch cut the run short while I was paused at a stoplight 6.5 miles in. Ugh.

Sunday 4/16: Rest After a lousy sleep, this recovery day was a bit rough. I felt draggy all day, but I did manage to take it really easy and spend a lot of time off my feet I capped off the week by cooking a lovely almost-vegan Easter dinner and eating a piece of cake. 🙂

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Spring vegetable cous cous with spicy pesto. Yemm.

Total Weekly Mileage: 23.7

All in all it was a great kick off to half marathon training. After a good night’s sleep on Monday, my energy levels were solid and I had a lot of fun on these runs. I’d say 75% of my meals and snacks were healthy, and except for Saturday night, I got at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. These peripheral things become so important as mileage increases, and I often don’t pay enough attention in favor of just trying adhere to my daily run calendar. But I really feel it when I eat junk or don’t get enough rest, and I keep reminding myself to prioritize this aspect of training. 

So this week, in addition to just putting down the mileage of course, I have a few goals for making sure I’m in good form to get it done:

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Eat intuitively and limit alcohol
  • Put in a little time for stretching and foam rolling (even if it’s just 5 minutes)

 

“Don’t Call it a Comeback”

LL Cool J.

Good evening, blog. Why bother with this re-entrance? Well it’s not really even that I left so much as there’s just been this kink in the chain from brain to Google Doc to WordPress… Ah, all of the blog posts that I wrote in my head interrupted by this and that. Because I did in fact do some interesting running things after March of last year. Problem was that the actual getting-out-and-doing-the-running part was enough for me to manage nevermind the droll musings about it.

So here’s something interesting that I did last year:

I ran the NYC Marathon and oh my goodness.

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GOOD pre-race advice: hydrate!

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BAD pre-race advice: fuel up with a dozen oysters and a dry martini! (this was on the Thursday before the race but still…) 🙂

I’m tempted to race report the life out of this thing, but I’d rather allow the day to carry on as a magical, beautiful dream. I do not want to sentence the memory to death by prose. Long story short, it lives up to the hype. It just does. All of the logistical headaches, expensive everythings (race fees, hotels, meals, EVERYTHING), and Central Park pain train… WORTH IT!

 

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That’s me in the middle there with orange cap.

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That said, I was soooo not into doing any of the actual training. But run the race I did because, how do you say no to New York? I would have denied it at the time, but my overall attitude was pretty cocky. “It’s my fourth marathon… it might not be pretty, but I’ll finish.” No surprise, that kind of mentality caught up to me big time at about mile 21. Look, it could have been a lot worse. I could have ended up with a proper stress fracture. The fact that I got out of there without my ITBS flaring up is an honest miracle. And I finished in 4:14, which, while not close to the sub-4 I put down earlier that year, is still my second fastest marathon. But, in short, afterwards my body was just not right and I felt it for a good three months (at least). 

Yes it’s the same old song – do not fuck around with marathon training! Respect the distance! And so on…

My mantra, however, is even more acute. Because CIM is starting to whisper my name, I must keep on repeating – I WILL NOT RUN A MARATHON in 2017. (for now at least)

No seriously. DON’T RUN A MARATHON THIS YEAR, IDIOT!

Here’s something that, interestingly, I did not do last year:

Run a half marathon.

I find this to be amazing. I ran 6 races in 2016 and the distances were so random: a 10 miler, a marathon, a 10k, a 12k, a 5k, another marathon. That’s a pretty oogly set right there.

So here we are, April 2017, and I’m focused on finishing a solid half marathon. At the beginning of this year my idea was to try for a sub-1:50 at Oakland Running Festival in March (one of my faves), but LOL that went up in smoke fast. That “training” began in late January but I was just a hobbling, inconsistent, panting mess. So I haven’t raced at all this year and while I feel a bit of FOMO in the long run I know it will be good to have this downtime.

But after some slow, wonky months, my body seems to be righting itself. I’m watching the pace of my easy runs creep back down. I crave speedier segments. I’m excited for my long runs, and I feel fresh while I’m doing them.  Overall, running is a cathartic, energizing experience again. Not something that makes me want to dart into traffic while I’m doing it.

So welcome back, runner me, steadily back to the world of the living.

“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

Pema Chödrön.

OMG and WTF: It’s marathon week already. Oh how terrible I was at blogging my training, but for the last few months I’ve been trying to just lay low, keep my head down, and grind it out (with a smile, of course). I missed a few runs especially during a couple of stepback weeks in December, but overall I put in a lot of quality work. Several fast-finish long runs and race pace workouts. Logged my highest mileage weeks ever with no injuries. Perfectly executed a 10 mile race in week 15, finishing comfortably with a gun time of 1:24:10 (8:25 m/m). Up until a few days ago everything seemed pretty much on track for a sub-3:55 attempt, about an 8:55 average pace.

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Flashback to almost 3 weeks ago… the final 20 miler. I was a bit tired but held pretty strong until the end!

The city of Los Angeles, however, begs to differ.

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source: LA Times

As a lady from the land of year-round 55-65 degree weather, running in the heat is not something that I’m used to and the idea of a marathon in these conditions makes me pretty nervous. On top of this, recently I’ve discovered that this course is actually kind of hilly. Uh, how did I miss this?

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Looks a wee lumpy, non? In my mind this race was all downhill. They certainly market it this way. “Net downhill” can be deceiving.  

Oy. Anyway, with my last training run completed this morning, my goals now are twofold:

1 – Focus on what I can control. This week, I’ve been drinking water, electrolytes, and $10 beet juice like a woman possessed. I’ve been researching and planning the best ways to survive the heat, and optimize performance as much as possible: First, I’m considering my clothing and, heavens to betsy, I may choose to go sans-singlet if I can muster the courage to feel oh so naked in only a sports bra. Usually I rely on course aid stations for hydration, but for this race I’ll be carrying a handheld and stocking Nuun tablets in the zippered pocket. For fuel I’ll bring along the extra salty Margarita Shot Bloks. Finally, I’m discovering strategies to keep my body as cool as possible: Run through as many open fire hydrants and misting stations as possible. Dump water on my head at aid stations. Bring frozen hand towels to the start, and grab ice and cold towels along the way. Apparently, the organizers have promised such things, hopefully they’ll deliver. This being the third straight year of high temps, this isn’t their first rodeo.

2 – Be Realistic, Stay Positive. Sub -4 was my original goal, and in this heat it would be an amazing achievement for me. That said, sub-4:10 would be an achievement. A PR (under 4:19) would be an achievement. But the reality is that with these intense conditions I might not realize any of these goals, on which my heart was so initially set. At this moment I’m trying to see the bigger picture. Training for this marathon has resulted in real step forward in my running fitness and I believe a fruitful year of racing lies ahead. I’ve learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses, and have new ideas about how to maximize my potential in the future. On Sunday I will run my first marathon in almost two years, and I’m excited to experience this fun and scenic urban course in a city that I really like and have history with. These last 5 months represent a huge step towards getting faster, setting new goals, and having more fun on my running journey. End pollyanna rose colored glasses rant.

In 2015, Ryan Hall suggested the following mantra to those running in the record-high temps at LAM:

“It’s a beautiful day and I’m doing what I love.”

Ok then, here we go.

 

 

“These are a few of my favorite things.”

Maria von Trapp aka Julie Andrews.

Happy Holidays! Are you running? Resting? Gearing up for big things in the new year?

My days and weeks have been consumed by preparation for the LA Marathon. With race day on February 14, my schedule is starting to reach the apex. These are the big important runs, folks. I’ve completed my 18 and 19 milers, and continue to grind out the mid-week pace runs best I can. This week is a step back in mileage (which will hopefully include a 10k race on New Years Day) before digging into the two 20 milers scheduled, the first one with a MGP finish. I can’t believe it’s only one more month until taper time.

 

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nailed goal pace in golden gate park last week!

In other news I am pleased to announce some new ambassadorships!

Earlier this year I was selected as a “Branch” for the Oakland Running Festival! I am thrilled to help spread the word about this fabulous race that I’m sure will only continue to grow due to its fabulousness.

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Here are a couple of things that I think make the event special:

Courses

I’ve run the half course twice now. In 2014, I smashed my sub-2 hour goal with a 1:55, and this year landed a one-minute PR, besting my Santa Rosa time after a three month running sabbatical due to a bout of ITBS. So in my experience, this is a PR-friendly half girls and boys. With a hilly start, the full course boasts an elevation profile worth major badass points. Feeling social? Run the relay. Feeling greedy? Run two races in the “We Run the Town” challenge, taking on a 5k before lining up for the half marathon.

Oakland Pride!

Oakland spirit is fierce! Highlights include Raider Nation, the impressive art installations by Crucible and American Steel, Brown Sugar Kitchen cheer station and the massive crowd support around the final stretch of Lake Merritt. I love finishing at Snow Park and chilling out with a beer post-race.

And what’s better is that you no longer have to pay full price because I have a discount code for you! Enter “bodle” at checkout for 15% off any distance.

This year, I’m also an ambassador for NuunLook, we all know that hydration is complicated and personal. I don’t like sports drinks, and for whatever reason sometimes water – whether filtered, bottled or tap –tastes sort of plastic-like or metallic to me. Enter Nuun: a variety of flavors for every palette, no added sugar and under 10 calories per tab, and electrolyte enhanced. This combo works well for me, and I’m happy to support the brand as an ambassador because I believe it offers a unique option where sports hydration, nutrition, and recovery is concerned.

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Happy New Year!

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” (Detroit Half Marathon Race Recap)

William S. Burroughs

Let me start at the end, because this is the part I’m excited about:

Surprise PR in Detroit!

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It was only at about Mile 12 or so that I realized it might be possible. So in those last precious minutes I moved my little feetsies as fast as they could carry me, and was rewarded with some heinous ugly-face finish photos and more than a minute shaved from my previous personal best. But I wouldn’t be sure for another few hours. Upon crossing the finish line I grabbed my phone and with hands petrified by a burning cold wind texted my brother, who was waiting with my family beyond the chute.  

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I still had to wait an eternity for the results to appear online. Oh the torture! Modern technology… you’re the god-damndest woman I ever saw…

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Them’s some good negative splits, huh? Suck It, San Francisco 2nd Half!!!**

**Speaking of SFM, I feel like kind of an asshole for not recapping my shitty race, but it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want. Anyway, I’m not really sure about how things went down that day because I decided to be all minimalist and cool and didn’t wear a watch. I know some people find this liberating but I will NEVER go naked again. But in fact, the race results indicate that I was running a 9:23 pace at mile 4 so in order to achieve a 2:00 finish I must have sped up at some point after that – only to crumble into a walking, cursing and give up machine between miles 10-13.**

Ok back to Detroit.

Going into this, I really tried to keep my expectations mild in terms of performance. I hoped that I could do and feel better than I did in San Francisco last July, and time-wise I decided I’d be very satisfied to come in under 1:55. I’d completed all my training runs and encountered no stinkers. I didn’t feel the general fatigue that I had over the summer. Still, I was trying to be realistic since it was only 5 stupid weeks of consistent training. I wasn’t sure of my baseline fitness. I hadn’t done any speedwork. My weekly mileage was fairly low.

So here’s the recap. Bottom line: If you have the opportunity to run Detroit I highly recommend it. In truth, the race was my sad-sack back-up plan after not making it into Chicago via the lottery. But it turned out to be absolutely the special sauce I needed (i.e. – a half marathon in brisk weather). The course was diverse and flat and fun. The international thing adds some interest. Good crowd support. An overlooked city that is interesting to tour on foot.

Mile 1–2: Downtown 8:57 / 8:36

Dressing for this run was a real head scratcher up to race morning. What does one wear for a 32 degree start? I’ve become accustomed to our new post-apocolypse San Francisco weather: 70 and sunny with 80% humidity. So I knew I’d be cold at the start but I couldn’t predict how I’d feel when I warmed up a couple miles later.

I arrived dark and early and was pleased to discover that the lobbies of the surrounding office buildings were open and runners were naturally congregating inside. AND using the public restrooms. Major bonus! I started the race feeling more human than popsicle.

The plan called on Pacer Mike to lead me through with the 3:55 full / 1:57 Half group (The race offers pacers for every BQ standard. Pretty cool). Mike was a super nice guy and seemed to really know the race. However, I fell back almost immediately upon starting and had trouble catching up. The sun hadn’t risen and the field was pretty crowded. Were they going out fast? Am I too slow? Is this cold getting to me? Eventually I pushed these worries aside and ran a steady pace and kept an eye on Mike’s bobbing signage.

Mile 3: The Bridge 9:11

Crossing the Ambassador bridge into Canada was indeed lovely, but as dawn approached it was still pretty dark out there, so I didn’t much luxuriate in the view as I was still concentrating hard to prevent face planting. Then, once we hit the crest of the bridge, there was some confusion as a wheelchair careened down the hill. Move to the left. No, on the right. Sharp whistles from the bike marshals and shouting from runners behind. Some of this back and forth occurred later in the race too. I wonder if organizers hadn’t given the handicapped division enough of a head start?

Mile 4–6: Canada 8:38 / 8:36 / 8:21

Now in Canada, we were treated to a view of the city skyline along the Detroit river. It was a very pleasant stretch. But inside my head, my “go-with-the-flow” attitude splintered just a bit. Pacer Mike still ahead, I wondered if I’d lag forever, crashing and burning as I had in SF. There was still a lot of time to go…

Mile 7: The Tunnel 8:25

Race recaps describe the underwater tunnel back into the US as something of a hot, sweaty, overrated claustrophobia-inducing hell. Well, maybe not so dramatic, but it seemed that plenty of racers find it uncomfortable at best. This tunnel, however, was my personal super power-up happy time place. The novelty distracted me from my negativity, and the one mile was just enough as not to be tedious. Being down there with a bunch of runners felt kind of intimate and special. I started feeling speedier and more confident, finally catching up to the pacer. Hallelujah.

Mile 8–Finish: Back in the USA 8:25 / 8:52 / 8:23 / 8:11 / 8:27 / 8:09 / 6:48 (last .22 miles)

Out of the tunnel, I passed the Mike’s pace team. Thanks Mike! At mile 9 I saw my family and got a little boost. Mile 10 I started picking it up and felt the ol’ IT band protest. So I consciously eased back a little during mile 12, falling in with the 3:55 (1:55 half) pacer. The IT Band remained grumpy but didn’t worsen and I was able to push through. Realizing I might be in PR range, I picked it back up for the 13th mile and went out hard for finish!

Official Finish Time: 1:52:35

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Yay!

So I led this post with a little fib. PRs are rad but here’s the thing that really makes me happy: after a year of the blahs I’m starting to feel ready to go again. Even though I did only 5 real weeks of preparation for this race, the plan was smart and helped build my confidence and overall mojo. I think that taking the easy runs easy and practicing strong finishes really helped.

I’ve got one more race on tap in December and hoping to be in shape for a big year in 2016… To be Continued…

“Don’t follow the feeling, follow the plan.”

Dr. Barry Rovner A few weeks ago NPR broadcast a story about elderly people suffering from age-related macular degeneration, a condition that impairs the ability to see fine detail. Reading, driving, watching television, and cooking may become impossible. Worse, those … Continue reading

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Despite a dull lingering hum from the hammond organ and salty dogs at the Royal Cuckoo, last Saturday morning I emerged from my front door at a quarter-to-eight to take a very dirty dog for a very necessary haircut. A strawberry smoothie, a stroll around Precita Park, a trek up and down the hill to the Noe Valley farmer’s market (bounty: kale, parsley, summer squash, rapini, lavender, sunflowers), and a very strong cup of Philz later (Greater Alarm blend) — I felt it. Summer. Arrived.

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Here are a few to-dos for my summer vacation (note: summer is always a vacation, even if we’re still nine-to-fiving):

Finish FIVE Books Since purchasing an iPad, reading has become a rare event. When I do select from the bookshelf or Kindle, it’s usually nutrition, running, or cooking-related, so I’m focusing on fiction. Novels and short stories kind of exercise the brain creatively in a way that nonfiction doesn’t, as corroborated by this article from the Boston Globe:

“The emerging science of story suggests that fiction is good for more than kicks. By enhancing empathy, fiction reduces social friction. At the same time, story exerts a kind of magnetic force, drawing us together around common values. In other words, most fiction, even the trashy stuff, appears to be in the public interest after all.”

Hoping the “magnetic forces” not only feed my soul but also improve my sleep (by doing away with the evil blue light of the device screen). I’m only almost finished with book #1 (The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham), so I need to get cracking. What can I say? I was derailed by OITNB.

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Write 3x/week “Writing” is a common excerpt from my Gratitude Journal. I’m attempting two blog posts and one free-writing or exercise. Maybe a few creative nonfiction prompts from Poets and Writers?

One getaway / month (June-August) With Tahoe in June, and a planned vacation mid-August, that leaves a July excursion. I’m itching for a campout, but if it must be an overnight at a B&B in Marin, well then, I guess that’s life. 😉

Foam roll & Yoga Forming healthy habits for increased speed sessions and mileage building later this summer/fall by developing a short home yoga practice (once/week in addition to my twice weekly classes), using my “Stick” after every run, and epsom salt bath and foam rolling sessions on Monday nights.

Meditation Just 15 minutes several times a week. Psychology Today discourages meditation before bedtime, which would actually be my preferred window. But after work or running sound nice too. This goal also involves exploring various mindfulness and meditation apps.

Practice happiness Continue writing in my gratitude journal. Take deep breaths. Smile. Don’t hold onto things too tightly. Take myself less seriously. Wake up early and enjoy the quiet times.

Happy Summer 2014!

(Photo by Max Wanger)