Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I don’t typically like to try new things during a long run. Usually, self-experimentation is accomplished throughout the week, during the lower-distance runs, when the level of running requires less of a mental commitment. I do what most runners probably do, which is to find something I like and stick with it until I have a reason not to. Butternut squash, for example, the day after a long run? It's a must.
The second and last marathon I ran, which was several years ago, was the Coeur d’ Alene Marathon, in Idaho. During that race, I ran with a guy who had almost completed 50 marathons that year (one for each state). He stashed honey sticks throughout the course, the night before – swore by them for energy. That was the year I tried to run with a banana, before I discovered Powergel. That was also the year that I discovered that some people want to run on top of you, while talking the entire time. This guy was one of the single most annoying people I have ever run with.
Last Saturday I was getting ready for an 18-mile run. In the week prior, life’s distractions and my forgetfulness precluded my routine grabbing of a handful of Powergel packets from REI. I searched the kitchen, my 2 running bags, and the trunk of my car. I searched the junk drawer, my glovebox, and the bottoms of my purses. I searched the little pockets of my Camelback, my suitcase, and the plastic bag full of miscellaneous coupons I was handed at the last race. Nothing but wrappers.
What I did find was a box of raisins. Now, I am not entirely sure how old the box of raisins was, or if boxes of raisins actually have an expiration date, but in my desperation, I grabbed them. They were the perfect size, and they were available. Had to be better than a banana. At mile 15, I opened my box of raisins. Upon closer inspection of the nutritional information, I realized that these things have 130 calories of pure love…Powergel has what…70? A box of raisins has 320g of potassium…31g of carbs…they have fiber, sugar, and a little bit of iron. Totally absorbable sugars, easy to eat…
I have been missing out all of these years.
Powergel, you have just lost a fan.
Honey sticks? Annoying Disco-Stew guy from Idaho can have you all to himself.
Raisins, you are all mine…
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
A young, bronzed, and sculpted man parks his pearl white Audi in the south Mission Beach parking lot. He gets out of his car, and quickly scans the area.
It is late September. The tourists have gone, and the regulars of this lot are starting to trickle in from their 8-5 grind. Between the hours of 3-7, most come here to surf, but some come to play volleyball, walk their dogs (or their deer, but this is another story for another day), run, rollerblade, ride their beach cruisers, play basketball, take pictures of the sunset, let their children run wild, or to do something most likely drug-related. After 7, this place turns into somewhat of a recreational meat market, which is, again, another story for another day.
It is early afternoon. The bronze man begins to undress, striptease style. I’m not impressed, although, that being said, I am not averting my eyes. It's like a cross between a bad car wreck and a SNL skit. I am in my car, talking to my brother before I set off on my afternoon run. I notice (before the stripping) that he is decked head to toe in designer duds. He doesn’t necessarily look like he’s from the area, but definitely has the body of a surfer, so it’s not as if he gives off the poser vibe just because of his appearance.
I am not a prude. Nakedness is not shocking. The human body is a beautiful thing. I can feel my face is turning red, and as he pulls down his pants (not quite at the same time as he wraps the towel around his lower half) I quickly turn my head. When I look again I notice his board shorts (no wet suit or burn guard?) are pulled down so low you can see pelvis bone. Should I tell him he’s too early and that he not only missed tourist season but it’s not even 7 yet? Should I tell him his efforts are wasted?
Should I ask to take his picture for my blog?!
It has never really occurred to me how different surfers have various methods of undressing in public because, to tell you the truth, they usually can do it so quickly and naturally that a person hardly takes notice. My normal routine is to pull up, park my car, pull my key off the chain, and start running. We don’t notice each other in any other terms but a quick nod, recognition that we both appreciate this place as both a gym and a holy place. Congratulations, you found it too. The evolution of this relationship is that I’ve come to regard the south Mission Beach parking lot surfers on a higher level than any other group of recreational advocates. I’ve never been almost run over, hit on, or breathed in the cigarette smoke, of a surfer here.
My first running experience here set the tone, far from my recent striptease experience. I was running down the beach, and a guy was running perpendicular to my path with his surfboard, ready to catch a wave. We both see each other and stop in our tracks, and he looked at me, smiled, extended his hand northward, and said, “You looked like you were in such a good zone just now, I totally didn’t want to mess it up!” Awesome. Totally.
Monday, September 22, 2008
This time will be gone before you know it.
Today is the first day of fall. Today is, therefore, the first of many days of perfect running weather. In San Diego, this is also the time of year when the tourist industry settles down, and once more, I have the beach all to myself. Beach running, for those of you who have never experienced such a thing, is a mostly freeing and inspiring experience, especially if you ditch the shoes. Yes, the skin of your feet will slough off a little, but once you get past that (about 1-2 weeks); the experience becomes more like an intense foot massage each time. Remember, skin is just cells, and cells are just little, tiny machines that magically repair themselves. Better take some Neosporin though, just to help them out.
In addition to having perfect weather and the beach back, it is the first of many days of perfect food. Roasted butternut squash soup, pumpkin-walnut-gorgonzola ravioli, pumpkin and pecan pie, spaghetti squash with mushrooms and marinara, rhubarb and raspberry pancakes, and blackberry jam on homemade bread are just a few of the great favorite fall running fuel choices. Fuel for cells.
Traditionally, this is also the time of year when my Sister-in-law and I head over to Arizona and do some runs in the desert. If you have never visited the Superstition Mountains or anywhere in Sedona in the fall, I recommend you plan a trip immediately. Running for hours through a cool and silent, dry desert is like a dream from which it is impossible to wake up. Bring some water. Bring a partner. Definitely do not attempt this barefoot though, or your cells may just randomly decide to kick your ass.
There is no time like the present, it’s true; but you have to create one in order to live it.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Everyone in my neighborhood owns at least one Chihuahua. It's a fashion statement around here. As I run down the familiar streets of University/Normal Heights, dodging and jumping over Chihuahuas, I ponder whether or not this animal was some sort of sick lab experiment to breed the devil's minions?
Sometimes, running down these streets becomes a game, depending on 1) if there are one or two Chihuahuas at a time, and 2) if they are on a leash or not. This of course, is factored into 1) how fast I happen to be running, and 2) if there is "space of avoidance" on the sidewalk. The "space of avoidance" is like the safety zone and usually consists of a street or a parking lot without cars in the way, making a quick diversion easy. Without the "space of avoidance" all a person can do is hope that the owner isn't the one in 2 Chihuahua owners who tells you "Don't worry, he won't bite," as their little shivering spawn of a dog runs under your feet barking.
What is the point of having them on a leash that is 40 feet long?
Saturday, September 20, 2008
One of my favorite things used to be to create elaborate spreadsheets of my running schedules and then rebel against them. The final product of that act has varied, over the years...Everything from obtaining a PR while having the flu to tearing my hip flexor as a result of over-use, 6 weeks before I was due to run a marathon in Tibet, at 12,000'.
You see, the rebellion that I speak of is the "type A" sort of rebellion. The type where you end up doing too much and trying to hide it from your friends so they won't think you are crazy (news flash - they already know). One day, a good friend of mine, and one of the most rebellious type-A sorts himself, pointed this out to me (haha - don't be fooled into thinking that I actually figured this out on my own). From that point on, I threw away the watch, the spreadsheet, and the books. I started running barefoot, and on the beach. I incorporated beer back into my diet. I did not secretly look at the clock when I came in the door from a run.
This represented not only genuine formation of the commitment, but the point where I no longer feared the results.
One of my favorite quotes is from a guy named Art Turock, a motivational business speaker:
"There's a difference between interest and commitment. When you're interested in doing something, you do it only when circumstance permit. When you're committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results."
What Art doesn't say in this quote is that it is up to you to define what the results are. It is up to you to leave fear at the door when you put on your shoes and head out or when you create that spreadsheet.
Thankfully, I have learned that it is possible to have both a watch and a beer. It is okay to add a few extra miles sometimes, barefoot or not. These things all have a place on the spreadsheet now.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Ten years ago I ran my first marathon. Then another...then, almost another. During the training for my third marathon I was in a pretty bad accident; broke all of my cervical vertebrae, a couple of thoracic, crushed my hand, and broke this teeny tiny little bone in my foot, which, ironically enough, ended up being the worst of them all.
That was a lifetime ago. Six years now, to be exact. I am the most perpetually thankful person you will ever meet. I thrive on life, on air, on love, on feeling, though I never show it. I thank God everyday for sparing me the ability to still do this one thing that I love so much. The thing that keeps me sane, motivated, at peace with the world, always fighting for life. Running.
It's contagious. My sister-in-law and brother and I decided, finally, after all these years of therapy, yoga, training, not training, gaining weight, and losing weight, that it was time. Time to bring to fruition what we knew would one day be inevitable...
So many people we have to thank for reaching this point. Most of them have no idea who they are. True inspirations, angels, fuel.
I used to blog after every long run on myspace. I stopped. Now, it's time to start again. There is way too much to say about this. For ours is an ever-growing team.