Friday, July 26, 2013

Where it's all going

The unavoidable question that seems to be constantly circling my every move...
where is all this leading?
Life, training, career...what's next?

It's been a solid 12+ months since I've committed and followed through with any type of running/life action plan. Hey, I needed a break for my health and sanity's sake. So I took it.
No shame in that.

Over the course of those 12+ months, I've been lucky enough as a coach to be part of some truly awesome moments for some very remarkable runners. Always patiently watching from the sidelines as joy filled their hearts while the actualization of their goals seemed possible through the fruits of their labors.

There have been triumphs, failures, satisfaction and frustrations, short comings, and unstoppable authentic growth.

Some of the most genuinely raw and real moments I've been privy to witness. 
And it has been wonderful.

This awesome moment captured by the lovely Kim

Makes me feel extremely blessed to meet the people I do and have the one-of-a-kind relationships I do with them. Don't know how I've gotten so lucky.

The past year has been all about my runners.
Their goals. Their workouts. Their dreams. 

Mr. Chicago Runner Girl making his marathon comeback last fall
Who needs their own progress when you get to be a part of someone else's?
So much more meaning behind things when you help cultivate drive and passion in others.

I've intentionally left very little room for myself and instead made it my hearts ambition to become an endless resource for others. I shifted my focus and efforts on this coaching gig while watching it take shape and transform into so many other things, rolling with it even in moments of uncertainty. Spending the past 12+ months seeing where life leads without expectation was something that my soul gravely needed, the road less traveled that I needed to take myself down.

"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts."

Letting things fall apart was something that needed to happen for me to make way for bigger and better things.
In life. In love. In running.

I'm still piecing things back together, day by day.
After all, life is a process.
And everyday I'm learning to how to keep moving forward.

But, I've started to get that itch again.
You know the one...
quietly stirring inside waiting for the right moment to pop out and create something amazing.

Yeah, that one.

Life has changed so much for me since the beginning of 2012, for which I'm grateful for. Every heartache, every bump in the road, every bruise and tear shed, every moment no matter how much joy or sorrow,  has brought new light and perspective to my heart.

So, with that I'm going to give it a go again.
One last time this fall before I hang up my racing shoes for a bit to shift my efforts over to starting a family with my mister.

This fall, I'll be toeing the line of a few races again for myself. Committing a bit once again to training; only this time around allowing flexibility, a bit more balance, and focusing a heck of a lot more on my overall health and wellness. Training from where I am instead of where I want to be.

September 8th will be the day I toe the line of the Chicago Half Marathon as a training run, knowing that my brother will be among the crowd for his first ever 13.1 mile race the morning after a dear friends wedding.

September 22nd will be the day I run representing Truebar at the Fox Valley Half Marathon.

Yup, I'm a Truebar athlete now.
And, I've got nothing to hide.

It'll all conclude for me on November 10th at the Naperville Marathon. I'll be running in the company of countless friends, the love of my life, and hopefully high five a buttload of family members and compadres as I tromp my way through my very own hometown.

While my heart is eager to move forward and again make progress, I'm not dead set on all or nothing goals. Instead, the fall of 2013 will focus on appreciating life for what it is while cutting ties with the expectation of where it's all leading.

"Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy."
Sarah Ban Breathnach

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chasing ponytails

Last Friday night, for the first time in 11+ years, I drug my rusty old legs to the track and raced a leg of a 4x8 for charity. That would be 24 hours after I toed the line to this race

The relay was for charity, there wasn't a lot of pressure on, and I honestly no longer had any idea how to race an 800. Back in the day my method was to eat as much candy as possible beforehand and just try to keep it down afterwards. Still a reigning champ at that.

At my best in HS, if my memory serves me correctly, I split a 2:27 in the 8. Not terrible, but no where near what the real speedsters were running. Basically I was decent enough to earn myself a spot in the slow heat of the varsity 800 where my goal always was not to finish last.
Succeeded most of the time.

Before heading to this charity track meet, I decided that I would just chase the ponytail half my age and hold on as long as I could. Seemed like a good plan until I rounded the turn for the last 300 meters where my hamstrings and lungs started to burn and the young thing started to pull away from me effortlessly.

Young legs, oh how I miss thee.

I think that my favorite part about this pic is that the high schooler (most likely half my age) looks like she is out for a walk in the park. Relaxed, focused, and not even breathing with her mouth open. And I am over striding while holding quite a bit of tension in my shoulders, neck, and face. 
All just to keep pace with her.

Needless to say, this tiny gal schooled me.
But, the legs still got some speed.

Ended up splitting 2:30 flat in the 800.
Guess these ole legs still got a little sumpin sumpin.

Monday, July 15, 2013

2013 Bastille Day 5k

Some races are more difficult than others to wrap the head around.
This 5k was one of those races.

The long and short of it is simple...
races are hard when you're in shape but even harder when your mind is completely and entirely out of shape.
And my mind is a million miles away from feeling fast and confident when pushed to the limit.

As I stood on the line next this this speedy lady, my head was kind of just blank. 

It wasn't until the gun went off and my legs had been moving for several minutes that I realized I was in a race. From then on the remaining 2.5 miles of the 5k became a solid mental fight to continue making any form of forward progress. The thing I find insanely funny about racing that there is no initial thought in my head to get my legs to start moving when the gun goes off, they just do. It's poetically natural. Not until I've let my mind stray that I begin to wonder how they are going to make the remaining distance and my body begins to feel foreign movement stirring uncomfortably about.

"There are people who have no bodies, only heads. And many athletes have no heads, only bodies. A champion is a man who has trained his body and his mind, who has learned to conquer pain for his own purposes. A great athlete is at peace with himself and at peace with the world; he has fulfilled himself. He envies nobody. Wars are caused by people who have not fulfilled themselves."
Coach Sam Dee
There certainly was a war going on inside of me.

You do what you can on race day, take what your body and mind are willing to give, enjoy the experience with some cool peeps, and move forward with what you're willing to take from the experience.

Then do it all again.

Photo courtesy Sara

Photo courtesy Maggie
Think I finished in 19:22 for 2nd place female by a minute from the lead woman.
Not my best 5k, but by no means my worst.

The course was kind of wonky, I never started my watch and ran rather erratic splits, let myself slip off into a no-mans-land when my mind started to stray, had to talk myself out of pulling out of the race entirely for most of the last mile, and waited around for what seemed like years afterwards for the award ceremony that never seemed to happen.

But I would do it all again in a heartbeat. 

And after all, there will always be another race on another day at another point in time when events have the slightest glimmer of hope of unfolding differently. It's what keeps me coming back for more.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

It'll all unfold as it should

"Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."
Oscar Wilde

Oh sweet, sweet running.
What a wavering constant in my life these days.
Always there, just in different forms.

There has been no purpose or focus, no plan or logic, just movement that at times hasn't even been forward. Two steps ahead to get 5 steps back. This has now become my way. One day at a time with no clear ending point.

I'm no where further along to PRing in the half than I was 12+ months ago. Just in the same stale position, almost like jogging in place at a stop light. But it feels different. A HEALTHY, relaxed, calm kind of different.
Heavy stress on the HEALTHY party.

Life isn't stopping for running, rather it's the other way around. Still not entirely balanced, but forging on with an abnormal non-focused-focus. Races, workouts, and mileage all taking backseat to vacations, lobster boils, and summertime tranquility. Commitment is no more than a daily vow to create the best day possible with what lay in front of me, which most days is a losing battle.

Somehow when running isn't the driving force in life, things still get done and progress can still happen; a stunning revelation that has taken me way too long to understand.

this ain't no sham
I am what I am
I leave no time
for a cynic's mind

My head is clear, and my legs are concentrated on a steady control of taking on only as much power as they can actually functionally possess. There is always a time for fluffy dreams and mammoth sized goals, my problem is simply realizing when that time is and isn't. 

For that 5k tonight, I've got no goal or agenda. Simply to just enjoy being fast, where fast has no specific definition because speed is all relative. Sure a PR or another win would be nice, but at this point I just want to embrace the fact that my running legs feel more together than they have in ages.
Attached and in control like they should be.