Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Birthdays, PRs, etc.

Today is my 57th birthday.  There.  I admit it.  One thing I don't like about "pushing" sixty is that Heaven knows I get ENOUGH exercise without also having to push something.  So I proclaim that NO ONE HERE is even CLOSE to sixty until they are AT LEAST 59 and 11-1/2 months old.  Then we'll broach the discussion about pushing things.  Maybe ... well ... no ... probably not.

Speaking of exercise, today is also noteworthy because I just completed a new PR!  For the first time ....

(drum roll ....)

... Yours Truly has ...

(more drum rolls ...) 

... ran 100 miles in one month!


Yes indeedy!  And we're not talking 100 miles of running and walking breaks.  I still break to walk quite a bit, but when I do - the Garmin is PAUSED.  (That also brings to mind:  Happy birthday to my Garmin!  One year ago today, it replaced my stopwatch and we've been a team ever since.)
The sign denotes MILES, not age!

I didn't set out to run this mileage on November 1, but because I've been obsessively logging my miles as described here, several days ago, after a fun 6+ mile run with friends, I realized that I was within 15 miles of 100.

"You can do it!" cheered Husband and Favorite 3rd Son.  So I went out and did another two miles that day, and these last 72 hours have been a scramble to meet this new goal.  Who knows when I'll get this close again?

It should also go without saying that I don't plan to do another 100 next month, or any other month for that matter, so please don't hold me to anything.  No one is raising any bars here.  If it happens, it happens.

Another significance about today:  It was exactly one year ago when I signed up for my marathon.  What a birthday present THAT was!  --- For six months the "gift" never stopped giving!  My gift to myself THIS year is that I'm NOT signing up for a marathon.  Yay!!  Best present ever.

For now I will just feel proud of, and grateful for, these very tired legs of mine which, for 57 glorious years, have hauled me across a lot of miles ... with a LOT more hauling to go .... But remember, NO ONE is pushing anything!

(P.S.  After listening to my many moans and complaints of exhaustion, Husband supports the plan of not running 100 miles next month.  Deal!)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Just so you know .....

.... I sometimes do things other than running.  Like tonight, Husband, Favorite 2nd Son, and I went bowling! It's been at least 10 or 15 years since I've even lifted a bowling ball.  Afterwards I was pleased that I didn't come away smelling like cigarette smoke.  Not that anyone ever smoked near us when we used to go there.  It's just that too many years of housing smokers has caused the smell to permeate every bowling alley in which I've ever been.  But not anymore!  Nice.

My bowling skills are still as random as ever.  In one game I can get several strikes and spares earning a decent score, and the next game I barely break over 60.  But all in all, I'm not too bad at it and I think some of the credit for that comes from the principle of cutting fabric.  Let me briefly explain.

Another insight into my past - I used to sew a LOT.  When cutting fabric, I learned that if I look at the point where the scissors need to go, they will usually go there.  I don't need to watch the scissors or my hand as I'm cutting.  Just keep my eyes on the end point.  It works.  The cutting-fabric principle seems to apply in bowling.  Utilizing the arrows on the lane, decide which arrow you want your ball to roll across.  Then really focus on that arrow.  Keep your eyes on it.  Generally, if you keep your wrist straight, your ball will indeed roll across that very arrow.

Now since I only bowl once every 10 or 15 years, I haven't tested this method that much, but so far, it's proving out.  At least it did tonight because I WON our last game.  HA!  Oh yeah!!

Another valuable bowling lesson I remember from years ago:  Guys:  Unless she asks, NEVER give bowling advice to your date WHILE SHE IS TRYING TO BOWL.  Don't offer suggestions on how improve her skill.   Just sit there and smile.  Act happy if she knocks down a pin.  Ignore her gutter balls.  Tell her she looks really good and ask if she's lost weight.   Even if your wise and valuable advice would improve her game, it'll do no good because she won't want to go with you again ... or if she does, it won't be for a long time .... say 10 or 15 years.

And for THAT advice, you can thank me later.

Home-made Turkey Trot - where's my camera?

Our family opted to do our Thanksgiving a few days early this year.  Hence as the rest of the world gears up for the annual feast ..... I'm feeling a bit liberated because the only remnant of the big bird in my fridge is a pot of turkey stew, which will soon become turkey pot pie before it disappears entirely.   Last night Husband and I went to the local grocery store in search of ice cream, and mingled with the last minute shoppers and their bulging carts.  I wondered about the people digging through the frozen turkey bin.  Do they actually think it'll thaw over night??

Anyway, it's officially Thanksgiving and this morning I got to join in on a home-made turkey trot.   Why pay when you can run for free with your daughter and her friends?  (Well, actually I could give several good reasons for paying, but today I don't have to.)   We ran amid the pumpkin patches on Grand Island, my old marathon training grounds.  (Note to self:  Next time bring camera! - Fortunately Daughter, aka Photographer Extraordinaire, pulled out her camera for a quick shot before we dispersed for our homes/showers.)
Besides good company and picturesque scenery, some highlights of our 6-mile run were: 10 year old grandson Garret got to lead the way in his special stroller, bundled in multiple layers plus a blanket.   (See, I needed that camera.)

Plus, although we've had three days of almost non-stop rain and wind, the clouds parted long enough and revealed a few temporary patches of blue.  (Dang.  I had my phone and IT has a camera.)

This is a much better way to spend Thanksgiving morning, instead of mixing roll dough and chopping onions.  Better than parades on TV?  Much MUCH better!  Better than football?  Um ... YES.  And in honor of the actual reason for the season, I am reminded of one of my myriad of blessings - the ability to run.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Best Laid Schemes ....

I admit that in some things, I am a perfectionist.  Not in the neatness of both my bathroom counter and my sewing room ... and our garage ... but rather when I take on an endeavor that involves other people.  Added to my perfectionism, is an absolute abhorrence for asking for help.  When I MUST ask others to participate or to help with something, I am hell-bent to make it all flow as efficiently as possible.  My obsessiveness over details, is due to my respect reverence for other people's time and resources.  I will do everything humanly possible myself, only asking for help in those things I absolutely cannot manage alone.

For example, the last time we moved, almost eight years ago (.... wow, time flies!) Husband and I hauled every box and every item we could carry before we asked for help.  Then when our helpers (dear friends) arrived, the truck was ready and all that remained were the large furniture and appliances that couldn't be disassembled into smaller pieces.  Our helpers were here less than two hours, after which I fed them donuts and gratefully sent them home to their families.  Unless it is an emergency of tsunami proportions --- if I feel I need/want something, I will start it, do it, and finish it myself.  And I would never THINK of asking anyone to clean up after me.

That said, as you know, I have been in charge of several 10K runs, or have been in charge of portions of the events.  And I have encouraged (nagged) people to come and participate, along with those dreaded, but unavoidable pleas for help from my priceless friends and family.  When the event is free, my perfectionistic nature isn't quite so obsessive ....  after all, you get what you pay for ... right?  But when the runners arrive with their checkbook, along with their trust that the event will be worth their time and money, I am almost driven over The Edge, trying to make everything go FLAWLESSLY.

But in spite of "best laid schemes of mice and men", it often doesn't.

There are circumstances that dwell in that hideously evil place called Beyond My Control.  Or in that other equally evil place called the Land of Unforeseen.  Sometimes those evil places spew their contents onto my event, sending my world into a tailspin.

So what does one do?  Live and learn, I guess.  Chip away, little by little, at the uninvited from the Land of Unforeseen, and learn to roll with whatever arrives from Beyond My Control.

And appreciate anew, those trite little sayings we often share on face book like, "The only failure in life is the failure to try", which offers some comfort.  But not as much as, "No man (woman) is a failure who has friends".

So true.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Run for the babies

I think I can officially add a new item to my Should-I-Ever-Need-One resume:  10K Route Planner.

Remember this post?  I've found The Answer to 10K-planning stress gremlins and it is simply to NOT be in charge.  Just be on a committee!  YES, we are putting on another 10K (and 5K) ... (and kids' run) ... (!!) this Saturday morning featuring another custom-designed route by yours truly.

The PURPOSE is to raise much needed funds for a nonprofit birthing center in Haiti, called Mama Baby Haiti.  You can read more about it here.  The poorest of the poor in the Western Hemisphere can receive free medical care and education to help combat Haiti's higher mortality rate for newborns in this fledgling little clinic.  A worthy cause if ever there was one.

So the 6.2 and 3.1 mile routes are ready and our ever alert volunteer spotters are standing by.  (Spotters are those highly indispensable people who stand at an intersection and point the way.  Remember this post?  I, for one, owe MUCH to volunteers at organized runs.)  I've learned, in my impressively vast route-designing experience (note the modesty), to plan around sidewalks and wide road shoulders, painted crosswalks and stop signs.  The local police department assures me that we don't need special permission or training for crossing guards -- they just need to wear one of those chic, trend-setting vests and hold a colorful flag.  And deep down, who doesn't want to be a crossing guard?  Now really, think of the power ....

I've tweaked, measured, and have personally run and walked all parts of the route several times and Google Earth has verified the mileage.  This is my home running turf and I know the roads in this town well.  So come and join in the fun, rain or shine, and run (or walk) for the babies!


P.S.  For added good news, we're already talking about the NEXT Mama Baby Haiti Benefit 10K.  Possibly next spring - in more dependable weather.  So stay tuned .....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Inner Beast

Soooo, some of us in our Runners Anonymous facebook group, to whom you were all introduced in this post, have begun recording our miles online.  The purpose is to show support for Brandon, one of our members whom I've never met, who is currently stationed in Japan and is shipping off to Korea next spring.  Brandon wants to run 500 miles by then and a bunch of us jumped on board with the idea.  As of November 1, we've been tallying our individual miles.

Now .....  I never thought I was the competitive type.  But apparently I am.  We are ten days into it and I was in 3rd place (with total miles) for several days, but slipped into 4th place today.   First and second places are waaaaay beyond my reach because some of our awesome group members are MACHINES -- including Brandon.  But my goodness, this is motivating ... and it's even .... fun.

Remember my 20 miles per week quota?  Not good enough.  Last week I totaled over 22.  This week will probably top that.   There is no prize nor is there any logical reason to crank out more miles than was in The Plan.  Twenty miles per week is over ONE THOUSAND miles a year for Pete's sake!  But somewhere down in my soul, this competitive Cut-Throat Alter Ego which had been lying dormant for 50+ years, has now sprung to life.  I may not regain 3rd place, or even keep 4th, but By Dang, I'm going to make a good showing.

Let's see.  Tomorrow, if I can manage five more miles maybe I can edge back into 3rd place, and then another five miles on Saturday ..... no, make that 5.6, then I'd have an even 30 miles for the week!   And next week, if I run six miles every day but Sunday, and maybe more than six on Saturday .... say eight or ten .....

Gads!!  Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE the motivation and I adore my friends who motivate me -- it's just what I need!  But it was never meant to be a competition and therefore, before I drop dead from exhaustion, please tell me how one reigns in one's inner beast.  And don't bother suggesting I sedate it with banana milkshakes or chocolate .... or coconut ice cream.

Tried that.  Didn't work.

(By the way, you're welcome to think this is a picture of me.  Unfortunately it's not, but you're still welcome to think it.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Break out the campaign buttons!

In the World of the Ridiculous, let's say there exists a country of runners with sole voting power, and to add MORE of the ridiculous, let's say I was "running" (no pun intended) for president of said country.  What "dirt" would my opposition uncover as they attempted to smear my name in the campaign?

My first guess would be that they'd find nothing shady in my past.  No criminal record, no illicit affairs with other sports, no scandals whatsoever.  In fact my past is so boring that simply BEING boring might be my biggest hurdle.  But digging deeper, there is one skeleton in my closet.  A skeleton so unspeakable, that it might cost me the election ....

....... I used to hate running.  And I told people I hated running, hence ..... there are witnesses.  I tried running a few times over the years and outwardly rejected it.   Yes.  It's true.  I am a flip-flopper.   Therefore, my campaign strategy is to "out" myself right up front, and deal with the fallout.  Transparency through and through.  After all, it's seldom the crime alone that brings you down, it's often the coverup.

My inconsistent history may cast doubt onto whether or not I am a true runner.  Do I espouse the love of the Daily Run?  Am I sincerely out there braving the pavement regardless of rain, blisters, spandex, and looking dangerously close to being a frizzy, schlepping .... frump?  Or am I running with my finger in the wind ... feigning devotion for my Asics?

I say YES!  A person CAN change!  We, as human beings, can evolve, grow, and become BETTER.  In fact, if one fails to change, when presented with new information and experience that teaches one that there is a point of view that might be a step above one's previous opinion, then SHAME on .... one.  Thus I, as a fictional candidate for the office of President of the United States of Runners, have decided to wear my flip-flopping proudly.  I used to be .... (fill in the blank) ... but not anymore.  I have learned.  I have grown ... (NOT in the waistline!  No!  Yikes!!) ... but in spirit, endurance, and in my own delusion that I don't look THAT bad out there.

So VOTE for ME!  If I win, I promise health, prosperity, and free GUs for all!!