Sunday, September 29, 2013

Life is Better with You

If we are always striving for a finish line do we take the time to enjoy today for what it is worth? Think about it!
Life is better with Dukie!

This week I did not exercise at all, and to be honest I really don't care and here is why...

On Tuesday I saw my favorite musician play here in Columbus. My friends and I headed to Michael Franti on Tuesday and of course he did not disappoint. He engaged the audience in his typical fashion by performing out in the crowd so as to involve us in the joy he has for the music and the fans. He told stories of love and friendship, kindness and caring. He sang about sunshine and roses, love and loss, war and peace. One of my friends put it best when she said "Michael Franti blew my head off with love."

You see, I can often be heard saying that life is not about money or cars, belongings or hate but instead about love and relationships. Regardless of whether you are single or attached, with child or not, every person who you allow to enter your life is a gift. This is one of the reasons I have loved the journey of my athleticism. I have friends who have come and gone, but those friends that stick around for the long haul are the people who enrich my life on a monthly, weekly and some even daily basis. Michael Franti sang a song about relationships that has been resonating with me since Tuesday. I've heard it on the radio but until I heard why he wrote the song, I really didn't allow it to sink in.

So then this weekend I went camping and I lost my footing for a little while and needed to ask for help. My friends helped me come back to center and while they helped me out this song started ringing in my ears. Take a listen, you will understand!

You see, this summer has been interesting because my mindset has shifted and I have discovered the struggles that I have been experiencing to get to the start line of races are part of the journey... Basically the athletic goals I make are merely a means to guide my journey. I now understand why people say that the journey is the destination. Every day is the destination in this thing called life.

My athleticism and abilities change daily and because I continue to look inside myself, I know that the struggles remind me that I am alive. Similarly, Michael Franti sang another song that invigorates me every time I think about it. When we wake up in the morning, and choose to get out of bed and tackle the day, we get another gift and that is making the choice to be alive:

While camping, not only was I surrounded by some awesome friends, every breath I took in those woods (even those filled with campfire smoke) were reminders that I should have fun and enjoy every opportunity that is presented to me.

Over the next few years I plan to participate in an MS bike ride in Ohio called Pedal to the Point. I will also be hiking Pikes Peak in 2015 with my best buddy and a bunch of other folks who want to conquer some of their physical obstacles, and striving for these activities/events are what allow me to feel alive.

Basically, what I am getting at here is this: I would say to all the people who remain close to me, and my athleticism that even in the hard times or on the rough days 'Life is Better with You.' And for that, I am thankful!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Not Like Riding a Bike

I love having a riding buddy who can spend long Sundays exploring the state with me. Since we started riding together Sue and I have covered over 290 miles on the following trails:

Not only have we logged all of these miles, we have seen deer and trains, cool bridges and art, we have fallen and gotten lost, ridden further than we planned and shorter distances just to try a new trail, there have been dead animals and side trips for lunches and most importantly hearty laughter and even some tears. Cycling has basically allowed me to get exercise, see new parts of the state and spend some quality/peaceful time with my friend. And there are a hundreds of more miles in our future...

All of that is a great reminder that I have an awesome friend who I get to share awesome experiences with, but that isn't what I really wanted to process today...

I have been trying to figure out why it is so important for me to not quit running even though I have often been found saying that I hate it. I have also continued to declare that I am not going to quit while also actively despising it! I keep doing it because I refuse to lose my base so that when I decide my body is ready for another half marathon or full marathon, I don't have to start all over. 

In life, when we want to explain the simplicity of starting something new, or restarting something we have done in the past, we often compare that experience to riding a bike. Here's the thing, there are plenty of things that really aren't like riding a bike. Take running for example, if ever you have been injured or quit running, you know that the return to running, if done properly, is fairly arduous. You have to slowly eek back into it by increasing your miles slowly to ensure you don't compound an injury or create a new one.

So why do I continue to show up for Tuesday/Thursday night and Saturday morning runs? Because I get to spend some time with my best friend AND because not everything is like riding a bike... 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Pimple

Everyone has secrets, some more than others. Last week I was writing and I found myself referring to various human ailments as pimples. So... now I like to refer to my big life secret(s) as a pimple. Not just any pimple, but the pimple that is under the surface of the skin that no one would even notice if I didn't point it out. Well, last week I had the whole introvert/extrovert conversation and knowing that I am an extrovert, people know I have few secrets and with a select couple no secrets.

I fail when I try to keep secrets from my closest friends. Here's the thing... As an athlete people don't know what your journey entails unless you tell them. Some people have had weight loss struggles or work out to escape. Other people (me) workout as a social event, or as a hobby. Other people run to fight cancer or because the disease they have might make it impossible several years down the road. Basically, we all have pimples that are under the surface just waiting to appear when you least expect it, or are least prepared for it. Wouldn't it be interesting to know about the journey of the person running next to you? Ask, you might learn something profound or amazing!!!

About a year and a half ago, I was an 11:30 min/mi runner for short runs and a 12 min/mi runner for long runs, and then I hurt myself. I have slowly come back to running and have had some of my favorite memories since then doing various races/rides/swims with people. The thing is, I am back to being a 13 minute miler (or slower) now as a runner and I may never get back to 11:30. The reason? A hidden pimple...

And you know what? I couldn't be happier. This journey is still the most amazing journey I have chosen!!!


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Extrovert (or something like that)

Ever have a moment when your over-sharing gets you into an extremely uncomfortable situation? I bet you introverts out there can't say you have had too many of those moments. Well, then there is me, the eternal extrovert. I get myself into pickles frequently. Often times I find myself apologizing for things that come out of my mouth because I strike this fine balance of appropriate/inappropriate. When I don't share though, I find myself over thinking everything!!! So the most recent time I got myself into a bind with my over sharing (oh did I mention this moment was extremely uncomfortable), I got in my car to hear some lyrics from my new favorite Macklemore.

"Underneath this fragile frame, Lives a battle between pride and shame."

I couldn't help but reflect back upon that uncomfortable, extroverted fed conversation, or over share when I heard those lyrics.

Let me put this all into context (it will get back to the couch or athlete at the end, I promise)...

Over this summer I have been having discussion after discussion about introverts vs. extroverts... Here's the thing, as this discussion has heated up with people, I have seen more and more research, cartoons and articles about the topic. This is the cartoon that put me over the edge and has made me say to myself (or I should say EVERYONE), what about what the extroverts need??? What has been frustrating to me is that everything I have read focuses on the introvert. I have read about how to treat the introvert, how to interact with the introvert, how to carry on conversations with the introvert, how to love the introvert, etc.. On top of it, someone actually told me that they are an introvert and I need to figure out how to deal with them. What the heck... Life is about compromise and bending. I'll bend half way for people but I'm not going to bend all the way all the time.

So, here is the question I pose to you... What about the extrovert??? I think there are very few articles about us because we are too busy having human interactions with our friends to sit behind a computer and write about our feelings on the topic. Well, since I like to blog, I figured I would write down my plight with being an extrovert...

If you know me, you know that I will tell you anything, just ask. I feel proud of the fact that I am an open book but when those uncomfortable conversations come to light I walk a balance between pride and shame (similar to those lyrics I mentioned above, although I have no clue what that song is really about). I am proud of the fact that I can share myself with people, but I have shame because some of those things I share might be unpopular or uncomfortable.

My extroverted nature makes me more vulnerable and more likely to be judged. Everything that is spoken aloud can be judged. Other lyrics from this Macklemore song:

"Open to interpretation, if your judgin' I don't want it."

Now, there are a lucky few of us in the world who have friends who will listen to everything you say and not judge you. I'm one of the lucky few, but it doesn't make things easier. Sometimes I want to tell my friends how to treat an extrovert. We want you to be excited with us, we want you to know we process information in a different way and gain energy from just being with you and because of that we want you to show up and give us a hug and tell us about your day, we want to be acknowledged, we want you to come out of your introverted bubble and interact and most importantly we don't want to be judged because our processing might be considered over sharing. I'll meet you introverts half way, but trust me when I tell you something because I trust you!!!

This is where I bring it back to the athlete on the couch and over share. None of you probably care, but I do... This blog is one big experiment in my extroverted nature. I don't know the difference as to why introverts and extroverts blog, but I can tell you that I blog because it gives me a way to write down what I have already processed to its' death with friends so that there is finality to it.

In this moment similar to the lyrics above, I am vacillating between pride and shame. I have broadcast to all of you that I was going to do this half marathon in November regardless, but I'm not. Like the introvert vs. extrovert, there is a moment when you have to accept that they aren't the same, they process differently and that is OK. There is no shame to being an introvert/extrovert/5k runner/half marathon runner/ultra marathon runner. The only time you can really feel shame is by doing what is not right for you and after a long discussion with my closest friend/running buddy I discovered that this half marathon is simply not in the cards for me. I'm going to hold my head up tall and be proud of knowing my limits. My friend and I are going to keep running and enjoy every run because we can...

So next time you are worried about how people will perceive you and your decision to run/not run a race, or because you share or don't share, remember that proud is what you should feel every time you are faced with a difficult situation. After all, introverts and extroverts all have the same feelings flowing through them, they just process the information differently.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Test

I am the most forgetful person on the planet. I had this amazing blog post crafted in my head on Friday but I have no recollection of the intended content. And then today as I lazed around for most of the day I totally forgot it was Sunday and I needed to write said blog post.

The one thing that I recall from working out this week, of which there are very few workouts to choose from, is that the heat is not my friend, nor is the solo workout... but we all knew that! So forget blogging about working out, instead I'm going to blog about life in general.

As you all know, I do love my friends, kind of like my family. There is an unconditional nature to some of my friendships that I do not deny. This summer I have tested the limits on some of those friendships simply because of circumstances outside of my control. I refuse to test people purposefully because that isn't right. I remember dating someone who asked me a question. When I responded I remember the response was something like, whew, you passed that test. I was so ticked off because that is not how you treat someone you love, right? Needless to say, that relationship didn't last because of some other test I apparently failed.

So back to working out... I am training for a half marathon in November. Just one year ago I thought I was going to primarily participate in full marathons, and then my circumstances changed. These circumstances have tested my mind, body and spirit. I don't like to do events anymore unless I am totally prepared. I learned that lesson long ago and I honestly have no interest in testing it again. While training for this half marathon I keep reminding myself that the only thing I desire is the finish line. I know this will not be a PR, well it might be a PR for the slowest half marathon of my life, but I'm OK with that.

The struggle with choosing to focus on the finish line rather than performance is that my motivation has waned. But, I also have those circumstances I mentioned before that have dramatically impacted EVERYTHING about my training this summer. What I am realizing is that my circumstanced did not have to take over, but they did. I allowed them to. Basically, new information tested my mind this summer, which in turn tested my body which quickly began to fail that test. I am fortunate to have the best friend a person could ask for, who continues to show up with me and listen to me while I process through new information and what are seemingly impossible workouts.

My body still struggles, my mind still struggles but my life has been enriched by the unconditional nature at which I approach goals. You see, I have not given up on training for this half marathon. In fact, this test sucks but I refuse to let it beat me. I do think some tests are designed to make you fail, remember the infamous bell curve in college? Well, this time will not be the average, I will be the one who passes with flying colors, afterall the only  requirement to pass this test in the finish line.

This quote has kept me going: "A body in motion stays in motion. A body at rest stays at rest." Stay in motion people! Let's destroy that bell curve together!!!