Saturday, October 29, 2011

Runners Anonymous

Hello.  My name is Brenda and I am addicted to running.  

I am also addicted to a motley assortment of fellow runners, most of whom I've never met.  We are a facebook group comprised of kindred spirits scattered across several states including our tenacious little chapter from the military base in Japan.   All deal with this common affliction of which we hope to never be cured.

It started about a year ago when I was invited in by ... um ... actually I don't remember who brought me into this then small group.  Fearless Leader Kevin was the founder, whose warmth and friendly support provided a strong foundation.  He is currently taking a break from fb and we look forward to his return.  The group grew and we high-fived as the 100th member was welcomed in.   Today it's over 230 and still growing.

In Runners Anonymous, I have found friends who understand.  They don't roll their eyes and look for an exit if I mention the R-word.  Instead, we latch onto each other as we slip blissfully into our gibberish of odd words such as: halfs, 10Ks, tapering, hitting the wall, cross-training, intervals, fuel belts, and GUs.  I think my other fb friends were all relieved when I disappeared into this outlet and they no longer are burdened with constant updates of my latest session out on the road.  (Perhaps I also need a Politics Anonymous fb group to spare my ever-patient friends of my occasional right-wing rants, but then I'd rarely show up on my main "wall" .....  maybe that'd be a good thing? ....)

We post about injuries, bad weather, and life's challenges that mess with The Run.  We share our triumphs, PRs, exhilarating finishes, as well as our jitters about The Next Run.   We talk running fashion, shoe brands, chafing, favorite iPod music, muscle cramps, the woes of early morning runs before the spouse leaves for work and the kids awake, in addition to what-do-you-eat-before-a-marathon??  We also plan group runs to meet a few more new faces in our merry band.  

Best of all is the encouragement.  Whether it's someone's first 5K or first marathon, the group sends support and cyber hugs, and then waits anxiously to hear how it went.  We're brimming with advice and empathy and for every victory, the cheers and congratulations gush in.

How does one qualify for exclusive membership in RA, you ask? 

The only requirement is that you either:  1.  Love running, or 2. Want to love running.   

What are the entrance fees?  1.  A generous sense of humor, and 2. A quick mind that can follow tangents of odd and unrelated topics into which we tend to wander and get lost.  (ie:  Easter peeps and helicopters .... don't ask .....)

So hail to RA!  Live long, run strong, and don't forget to charge your Garmin.



Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Crispy, crunchy, GORGEOUS fall!

Autumn was MADE for running.  The hot days are gone and one can procrastinate one's run until late in the morning or even into the afternoon, if one has a flexible schedule, as I usually do.  The leaves are crunchy and colorful, assuming it hasn't rained rendering them soggy and slippery.  The neighborhood kidlets are neatly tucked away in school ... not that that has anything to do with running ... I just tossed it in as a happy benefit of fall.  On a dry October afternoon, maybe even with a blue sky, the Pacific Northwest can deliver up a day so gorgeous that you could swear you were living in a calendar page.  Add some cool crisp air and this song on your iPod, and you've got the makings of a great run.

To illustrate just what I mean, here's what greets me as I head out the door.

... I try to ignore atrocities like this:

When this all fades away into wet and mucky winter, I hope time then kicks up its pace and quickly we can all trot happily into spring.  But for a little while, I'm just going to soak in this color and fall in love yet again with Oregon.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Enough already!

I just heard on the news that a 100 year old man just finished a marathon.  Fauja Singh, born in India, and currently a British citizen, finished the 26.2 miles in Toronto.  His time was 8 hours, 11 minutes, beating his previous time.  (He was shooting for 9 hours.)  He didn't start running marathons until he was 89.
Are you feeling amazed and ashamed of your own paltry attempts at greatness?  Does it make you rethink your reasons for vegging on the couch?

Then there's this:  Gladys Burrill, of Prospect, Oregon, recently finished a marathon in just under 10 hours.  She's 92, and she ran her first marathon at age 86.
Not finished yet.

Get a load of this:  Amber Miller from Chicago, finished her hometown marathon and then promptly went into labor and delivered a healthy baby girl.  Amber's pregnancy was 39 weeks along AND it was her second marathon within the past few months.   

Inspired?  Or annoyed?  For me ... a little of both.

I mean, who do these people think they are??  Why must they do things that mess with my psyche, making me think I've got NO EXCUSES!   My own meager little marathon is fading fast, evidenced by my nearly re-grown toenails.  I can't milk the glory from it forever, and THAT sad fact isn't setting well with me.  THE PLAN was to earn the title and wear it proudly for years.

Not, mind you, that I don't stand in utter and complete AWE of champions like Fauja, Gladys, and Amber.  I KNOW how long 26.2 miles is, and I cannot fathom traveling it by foot in an aged or advanced pre-natal condition.  You must be half crazy to do it even at the height of youth and physical toughness, much less attempt it with any sort of limitation.

So I stand here, in all my mediocre-ness, facing that bar which has been raised so high.  Not wanting to try another marathon ... heck, I'm only in my 50s ... there's no glory in it for another 30 or 40 years!  And a pregnant run is no longer an option, thank goodness.  I have to continue to remind myself that mediocre is JUST FINE.  My only competition is ME.  And ME is willing to call it a draw.