My Super Sweet 13(.1)

A 1st Half Marathon

104 Days Until… (The Shock of Growth)

I am not running in this sort of tundra, but 17°F or -8°C is a challenge

Sorry I didn’t post anything until today; I wanted to wait and see how my first day of group running (as preparation for the KY Derby Mini-Marathon, I have signed up to train with a local group) at Blue Mile went. It went well! It’s a positive bunch of people of varied ages and running/walking levels, and we did a nice 30 minute run (I only walked over the wooden bridges – it was 17 degrees this morning and the snow from yesterday beget icy patches) of which felt exhilarating but not tiring. That brings my total mileage this week to 2.5 (Monday) + (3.0) Friday + (2.5) Today to = 9 miles run this week. Not too much (the goal is 10-15), but it was a busy week, and my Wednesday run got rained out in the morning and afternoon, and Thursday I had a 90 minute massage (not the relaxing kind, the deep tissue, sports kind – which was great great great for my tight hips, hamstrings, and lower back).

Cool thing about training at Blue Mile: the folks at Blue Mile concentrate more on how long you run, no how far you go when you run. That takes the pain out of the hills, I have to say. Coming from a South African native (the accent immediately made me listen ’cause I geek like that) who is billed as an “elite runner” (this article goes more into the Blue Mile owners’ history – one is a former Olympic runner – before they changed the store name, which was originally based in Indiana, and this article describes more of what Blue Mile’s training philosophy is like), I was charmed, by both the accent and the paradigm of happy health all the employees exhibited – to give it my 75% this morning (I did a few pushes, but tried to keep it around 5.6 mph; it was ‘effing cold, so you didn’t want to walk once you ran. Jogging a few moments helps.) The Blue Mile crew were very excited and enthusiastic in cheering us on, and everyone in the group was friendly and most people were runners but not the sort who’d done many big races. I’m excited about this program for many reasons, but I’m hoping to make some new friends – one woman was an almost-student of mine! I love how sports unite people, I just love it!

Brazil 2014, everyone! Let’s go play in the Amazon and watch the FIFA World Cup, whaddaya say? Gotta keep setting goals:)

Next week I’ll be in what my uncle calls “self-imposed exile” in Florida, which means (a) I’ll need lots of breaks from working, so I’ll have to run in (b) mid-70s degree weather! Oh hurrah! I really don’t enjoy running in the cold, though my new running tights and running shirt (plus my fleece hiking vest and wool hiking socks) passed today’s weather with flying colors. As the folks at Blue Mile say, and which I’d like to agree with, is that getting fancy gear actually does help. Yoga pants without the gusseted crotch are ixnayed from my practice once I found the increased mobility, and my super high-tech hiking pants were a Godsend in Peru. I guess that means I’ll be updating my running shoes sometime in February. Fun fact for the ladies: Replace your sports bras around the same time you replace your shoes.

I’m working through quite a lot of tasks at the moment, which means I feel bad for not moseying to others’ blogs. I’ll be able to in a couple of weeks – my dissertation is being quite demanding at the moment – but thanks to everyone who’s liked or commented on a post so far. I’ll be surfing your way soon!

Besides running and work and school, I’ve been enjoying my yoga practice. One of my teachers reads a lot from the book 365 Days of Tao by Deng Ming-Dao, and I’ve been making a note to take a quiet moment every day to read an entry. I’ve been casually studying Buddhism and Taoism/Daoism for over five years now, so to me it’s something of a cornerstone to my well-being and inner balance, but sometimes I think Taoist meditations are so universal that I can’t help but share them with whatever audience is nearby. One of the entries in 365 Days of Tao seemed applicable to sharing on this blog:

“Emerging” (#6)
Thunder and rain at night.
Growth comes with a shock.
Expression and duration
Appear in the first moment.

Excerpt: “Things cannot remain in stillness forever… All growth comes with a shock. When a sprout breaks its casing and forces its way to the surface of the earth, it is the climax to a long and deep accumulation of life force. We may think it came up suddenly, but in actuality, it emerged as the product of unseen and subtle cycle.”

In other words (to quote South Park), “Even Rocky had a montage!” (It’s hysterical. Click.)

While change is scary to most of us (it’s rare to find someone who can roll with each and every one of life’s punches with total serenity), we do adapt and get used to it. This is metaphorical for running in the cold (you’re freezing, you’re fighting yourself, you start moving, you start suddenly not being so cold and tired), but also for running itself. But it’s also a good metaphor for how we find ourselves slogging it out on the StairMaster for a hike for months on end, and then the actual event we were preparing for arrives and you complete it… you spend more time training for, preparing for, and thinking about your future goals than you usually do when you are actually in their midst.

My running history, or “long and deep accumulation of life force [as a runner]” in a nutshell:

  • I started running around the time I was 21, when beer and eating junk food caught up to me, and I’d pretty much stopped exercising other than yoga. In undergrad I actually *lost* the freshman 15, but doing lots of club drugs might be part of that, plus I didn’t eat much and swam obsessively. But by the time I got into my 20s, I began to party more and exercise less; I could do my beer + burgers in London, where I walked everywhere, but six months after my return I began packing pounds for my final year of undergrad. So I interval trained, the fat melted, I went back to swimming and the elliptical.
  • I moved to graduate school number one, where I ran outside often until I developed a bone spur on my left knee within a year, which made it hard to run indoors or out. So I went back to swimming, hiking, and the gym again. Then I moved up here to graduate school round two, and my first winter beget blubber, so I interval trained and swam and continued yoga and hiked, then trained heavily for the 4-Day Inca Trail Trek, which included 5ks and speed work and hill work, which I hoped would strengthen my legs for the hike (it did).
  • Now I’m basically ramping up the Inca Trail training, but just running instead of the (awful, nasty torture device that is the) StairMaster. And swimming. So my running thus far has been a “long and deep accumulation” of ups and downs, and I’m very positive about this training and psyched to keep it up.

But there’s more to the Taoist quote: “Expression and duration/Appear in the first moment.” The section goes on to say that “When the seedling appears, it carries with it the complete pattern for its growth, perhaps even makings of an enormous tree.  [The seedling] completely embodies its destiny. Therefore the growth and character of the plant – and its very life – are all present at the moment of emerging.” I like to think about this concept next to that of training for a big run; we have our blueprint and our physical bodies’ innate sense of what we are able to do – it’s there as soon as we recognize our role as a cognizant being. Everything we need to be who we are is present – everything we need to run the marathon or mini-marathon, by the time we get there, is present. We have ingrained it into our “destiny” by commiting to the race, our health, and, in some ways (cheap plug: donate to Fred’s Team!) our community by participating in the training, not just the race. The part that happens to us between our decision to make a big step onto the course is the most daunting and exciting part, and I’m stoked that I’m feeling very positive about it.

Blue Mile has us doing three weekly runs (two formal groups on Mondays and Saturdays, an informal group on Wednesdays) and they’re prepping us on gear and nutrition and my Monday run was actually pretty amazing-feeling, considering the 40 degrees and wind chill. So to my fellow half-marathon/mini-marathon/full marathon/tri-athletes-in-training – We have all we need when we pick our destiny to run, but first we must generate underground – building our own training montages – before we are able to sprout forth in the spring! I, however, am looking forward to embodying my destiny in the Sunshine State, which I’ll tell you all about next week! Also, next week I’m making the ultimate decision: The Rhodes City 10k, the Papa John 10 miler… or both? Hmm. I’m currently leaning toward both… But, until then, happy running!

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