Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Flying over Trails

"Flying Over Trails" probably gives the impression I was running super fast! Take it literally, I was flying with my husband and son in a Cessna. Flying over Southern California is fun for me. I am a map person, and I love seeing everything I am used to on the ground in a different perspective. I always look for new trails!

(the Wetlands of HB)

This time we flew along the coast to Ramona, a small airport just north of San Diego. As we got closer and closer, I saw more and more trails. I envied those people who have trails right in their backyard! I kept thinking how awesome it would be to live among so many trails, but the truth is that community is inland and it is hot. Trading an ocean breeze for better trails may not be worth it.

(Near Ramona)

A least I have the Wetlands close to my house. Sure it is flat and parts of it are hideously ugly, but there are pretty areas and plenty of dirt! I can also drive half an hour and be at Crystal Cove or Aliso Woods. Forty minutes will get me to Palos Verdes.

As well as seeing homes close to enviable trails, I also saw concrete communities very far from any dirt or ocean! Yep, I do have it pretty good. Seeing life from the air does give a new perspective.

(Crystal Cove)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Penance for Having Clean Ankles

"Forgive me Father, for I have sinned. It has been four days since my last run. Since then I have let the start of school, business, piles of laundry from being on vacation, and tutoring take precedence. I could have set my alarm thirty minutes earlier, but I chose sleep."

"You are forgiven, my child. For your penance, go run three miles."

Right-y-o! I have new shoes and limited time. A three miler is perfect. Plus I already scheduled eight miles on trails with my buddy ole' pal on Saturday. Work is semi-caught up. I'm outta' here!

My thoughts while running:

1) My six year old has more cash than I do. It seems the tooth fairy pays better than the construction business.

2) Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth are doing battle in my belly. Apparently pancakes are not a good pre-run meal, even on a short run.

3) My shoes feel.... not sure, verdict still out.

4) A lot of running books are lame. I'm jealous that Chris McDougall beat me by writing a great one, "Born to Run." Not sure if my book will be fiction or non fiction. I've been working on this idea about this runner who gets abducted by a creepy hermit.

5) My tutoring student is taking the GED today. I'm grateful for the experience to meet her and help her. I'm positive she'll pass and can't wait for the good news!

6) My shoes feel okay. My right foot is doing a weird flop. Good thing my ipod battery died so I can obsess on the sound of my right foot.

7) I hear a rattle snake. No, that is some strange angry bird that lives in a bush. It is too cool for rattlers.

8) It is good to be running again.

9) I feel like blogging again. This good, I am not permanently burnt out. I guess I couldn't write about running when I wasn't running and had a bunch of other priorities. Epiphany - running inspires me to write about running, but I can't write about running unless I'm running. Contrarily, I can read other people's writing about running and sometimes get inspired to run. And do you know why? Because God and Holden Caulfield hate phonies!

Well, the run is over and a blog is written. Time to get back to my other looming responsibilities. I am feeling super proud of myself right now. Not for running, but for making this list 9 items instead of 10. I fought the compulsion to add something to make a round number and I won the battle! HA!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Eastern Sierras - ROCK CREEK! (in photos)

I consider myself to be semi-computer-savy, but this blog software does not seem user friendly when it comes to posting photos! They never end up where I wanted them! Oh well, let us see how this goes. Photos from the most amazing run in the world, ROCK CREEK!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Virtues of Solitude

I am a social runner. I belong to a more than one running group, my phone is full of runners, I even have a Facebook page swarming with enthusiastic running buddies. I try to rally someone to run with me for anything over five miles. It makes the time fly by. The benefits of running with other people are many and I'm sure I will blog about that at some point, but today I want to acknowledge the pure bliss of solitude.

It isn't always possible to find a running partner, especially if you have to squeeze in a run at odd times. Recently I actually chose to do my long run alone. It was an odd feeling to want to be by myself, but I did. I was looking forward to going at my own pace and enjoying the crazy eclectic shuffle on my ipod.

The cool thing and the scary thing about running alone is that devoid of chatter, my mind seems to have a..., well a mind of it's own! I can't always control my thought patterns and that means I am at the mercy of my unruly mind, sometimes enjoyable, sometimes torturous. My fickle brain often sends me mixed messages about my comfort level throughout a run "This sucks, this feels great, I'm tired, I'm awesome, it is okay to turn back now, must go on, what is that funny feeling on the ball of my foot, hey, that guys was checkin' me out, I think these shorts are chafing my thighs, blah, blah, blah..."

My ipod is a welcome distraction from my mind, but that "shuffle" can also influence my mental path. During my recent solo trail run I experienced a myriad of emotions that were a combined mix of scenery and music. U2's "In God's Country" came on as I was ascending a hill that gave me the first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean and I felt joy that almost brought a tear to my eyes. Then while running through neighborhood horse trails, the B-52's gave me a playful giddy feeling. Near mile six I heard an old punk song that reminded me of my ex-boyfriend and I reflected that it has been almost one year since his death. I got very emotional reflecting on the thought that I am still thriving and running and living and he is not. My life experience is growing every day, his has stopped. It makes me grateful and sad at the same time.

Marshall Ulrich (the great long distance runner most known for the idiosyncrasy of choosing to have his toenails removed) said it well when he admitted "I need to get outdoors, clear my head, allow myself to time to think about what I'd experienced and then think about something else for a long, long time. I need to run, to empty out the accumulated emotion, to strip myself of comfort and grieve both deal with and avoid emotional pain. "

Gee, I thought I was just trying to get my heart rate up and keep my jeans fitting! But Marshall is right about the cathartic quality of running. It may not completely eliminate the need for therapy, but it sure helps our emotional and mental health.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Rock Creek

If you are ever driving on the 395, up to Mammoth, Tahoe, or Bishop – I’m going to let you in on a secret. You may have passed it several times, not knowing you were a stones throw away from "The Best Run in the World." That is what my friend and I dubbed Lower Rock Creek, an appropriate name that stuck.

What makes Lower Rock Creek “The Best Run in the World?” Scenery so beautiful you forget you are running and a gradual decline that makes an eight mile run seem like three. Imagine a trail run that starts out in an aspen forest that changes into a pine forest, then into chaparral and bare rock cliffs, then back into pine again, all the while following the namesake creek. The water meanders, slows, rushes, plunges off boulders, settles into still ponds only to rush again.

The scenery can take your breathe away, and so can the altitude. This run starts at 7,000 feet and descends to 5,000. The decline makes the run deceptively easy, but can result in crippling soreness if you are not used to running downhill. Of course you can always run up the trail, something I’ve never attempted. My friends and I do this run as a shuttle, starting just south of Tom’s Place and ending in a tiny settlement appropriately named "Paradise." The trail intersects the road twice in the first 3-4 miles, then you are committed for the last 4-5.

This is a popular mountain biking trail, so remember to step aside if you hear them coming. They come down quickly, so ipods are definitely taboo, but you won't miss it. This trail really is spectacular.

Many times my husband and his friends have passed us on their bikes during this run, always teasing us “Get off the trail, runners” and attempting to kick us in the butts. One rider who was closely behind and did not realize we knew the group was appalled and said “I can’t believe what that guy said to you girls.” I laughed and said “Oh, I can. That was my husband.”

I have many happy memories of running this trail with my friends Sara or Angelica, but my most memorable run was on July 1st 2005. I ran the trail by myself that time, while my husband and friend rode ahead. My thoughts were not on the scenery this time. I spent the run thinking “I might be pregnant.” Turns out I was. Eight months later, a beautiful boy was born and I took a break from this trail for a little while, but I am happy to be on it again. It won't be long until that son is riding his own bike down that trail and I hope some day he wants to run it too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Running With Celebrities in my Mind.

Disclaimer: I'm not really interested in celebrities. I don't care who is dating who, who is pregnant, or who got arrested again. I don't even notice the headlines of Star, People, or any fan mag while standing in line at the grocery store. Unless they are running. That gets my attention. Suddenly I have something in common with this celebrity and can relate to a person who's life is very different than mine. When a celebrity, such as Oprah, makes it known she is in training, I feel instant camaraderie.

Sure I know Oprah has access to the best trainers, nutritionist, doctors, and massage therapists that money can buy. But she is a busy woman who needs to put in the miles and I know what that feels like. Her feet are still going to need to run every step of those 26.2 miles, and she has earned my respect. And beating her became my obsession during my own marathon.

"Beat Oprah, beat Oprah, beat Oprah" was my mantra for the first 18 miles. Then I forgot all about Oprah and just wanted to finish. My new mantra became "Just cross that finish line and you never have to do this again!" I did finish at a very humble 4:41;30, but Oprah had me beat by 11 minutes. No excuses, she did the work.... but I noticed she isn't running anymore, and I still am, "So who's winning now, huh Oprah! Huh?"

Some other famous marathoners that beat me include Meredith Baxter (Family Ties) at 4:08:30, Alanis Morissete at 4:17:03, and P. Diddy aka Sean Holmes at 4:14:00. However, I smoked Katie Holmes at 5:29:58. (Notice the verbage becomes much more violent when I am in the lead?) I slaughtered the youthful and petite Katie Holmes! Yes, while Katie was crossing the finish line, I was at home, showered, feet up, drinking a smoothie and bragging on the telephone. I also anihalated David Lee Roth who ran a 6:04:43, and... well, I think that is about all.

Most people know that Will Ferrell is an accomplished marathoner at 3:56:12, although his streaking scene in "Old School" did not really do him justice. Will Ferrell is not the only or the fastest Saturday Night Live Veteran runner. The real speed demon is Dana Carvey who finished a marathon in a very impressive 3:04:21.

Now the politicians. Most people consider the controversial 2000 election to be a very close race, some dispute the actual outcome. I say "Let these two settle this matter in a foot race!" Both George Bush and Al Gore have completed marathons under belt, but there is really no contests here. At the risk of ostracizing a large portion of my fan base (maybe 2 out of 4?) let me point out that regardless of your political affiliation, you cannot deny that George Bush at 3:44:52, kicked Al Gore's 4:58:25 fanny. Whipped it, good and proper. Sarah Palin also kicked the butt of Al Gore and your's truly at 3:59:36. But the fastest are democrats George Dukakis at 3:31:00 and John Edwards at 3:30:18. Now that is a close race!

My favorite celebrity racer isn't quite a marahoner (yet), but Drew Carey is coming up fast. I'm not even mad that he beat my half-marathon time by a few seconds at 1:57:02. I'm so proud of Drew Carey for shedding 70 pounds and embarking on this healthy lifestyle. I love his quote "I feel like I am aging backwards!" Here is a fun guy I would run with for sure. He could make me laugh without beating me or my ego too badly.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You will be paid!

On a recent vacation I went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant and was overjoyed at my fortune that read, "You will be rewarded for all your hard work this past month." I had been feeling mentally beat up by the trials of owning a construction business during this great recession and was desperate for any sign of hope. I actually got so excited, that after reading the message to my husband I decided to save this fortune in my wallet. Whew, easy street was around the corner. "The check is in the mail" will no longer be a lie told to me, or told by me.

My husband tried to ridicule me for putting my faith in something as trite as a fortune cookie, but I had evidence of their validity. "Read Austin's" I said, referring to our six-year-old son. Austin's read "You are respected in the community and an influence on others." See! My son is respected in the FB community, I quote him all the time and he gets several thumbs up. No coincidence that I got the one about hard work and he is complimented on his personality. So I smugly kept both our fortunes, not letting my husband be a joykiller.

But reality set in as I returned to work and the "checks in the mail" were mysteriously lost, jobs were given to lower bidders, and we were plagued by trivial complaints. Then something else occurred to me. Maybe the fortune was referring to running? Hmmm. "You will be rewarded for all your hard work this past month" took a different ring.

I had recently upped my mileage and started doing something very foreign; speedwork. I smiled to myself realizing that it was already paying off and smiled wider as I realized this is what I love about running. It always pays dividends. In a business world where we sometimes work and don't get paid, (true of anyone in sales) or bid and don't get the work, or have our profit eaten away by unforeseen events - this has never been my experience with running.

Maybe this is one of the reasons I have focused on running while experiencing difficulties with work. Running never lets me down, it never rips me off, it is always satisfying and stress reducing. Running pays in immediate results (endorphins) and long term benefits (health). You get out of it what you put into it. Running has been a reliable source of joy in my life for many years. I have been paid for my hard work this past month, as well as many years prior. Again I smiled at my "fortune" and the reminder that I am blessed with ability and willingness to be a runner.