10 Miles or 10 K?

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But I don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”
Haruki Murakami, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

I am now in the last week of training for a partner’s marathon which is happening in six short days.  This past Sunday was to be my last longer run before the race. As I was sitting at the bonfire late Saturday night with friends, I was relaying the fact that I was scheduled for a 12 miler the next morning ( I was in fact just going for 10.5 since the course is outrageously hilly).  My friend Emily said “Twelve miles, after today’s events? You run a lot!”  My oldest, of course, had graduated from college that day and I had been up since 5 am and also spent the previous weeks preparing the house, working full-time and training extensively for the marathon. I knew she was right but I still went to bed -at midnight I might add and without much carbo loading that day-seriously considering one final assault on the course.

Well, morning broke early that’s for sure. I heard my dad get up at 3:30 am to leave for the airport. Then he texted me at 5:30 to say that he “had a ball” and for me to “go back to bed”. So I did; awakening again after 7 with a fatigue hangover.  The long run prospects were looking mighty dim at this point. Then I did what no runner ever usually does-I listened to my body!  I changed my plans and decided on a favorite 10k course that I had not run in a while.

My decision proved to be a smart one. I felt fantastic! In fact, I hope to feel this good during my half of the marathon this weekend.  Moreover, my decision to cut the run short got me contemplating the training program that I used for the race. Initially, I thought that I would use the advanced guide since I had used the intermediate one a few times before and I was in better shape this go ’round. However, it didn’t take too long for me to realize that it was killing me! Three weeks in and I was wiped and sore nearly constantly. I never run more than 3 days in a row and the program was requiring 4 days with longer runs plus two days of speed work mixed in. Plus, I had already been running extensively before the training started. So, I rebooted and went back to  the intermediate program with some of my own stuff (like 90 minutes of hot power yoga weekly-just the best!) in the mix.

Dedicated runners are remarkably adept at losing a few brain cells when it comes to training for races. On the one hand, you may have the competitive devil whispering fervently in one ear: “GO LONGER AND HARDER”; and on the other, the sensible angel sweetly saying: “USE YOUR COMMON SENSE.” Well, there is a time and place for everything and I do hope that I have approached my training with a mix of both-truth be told. I am in this sport because I love it; it is part of who I am and how I live my life.

In the end, I know that when I put my number on Sunday morning, I will be ready to give it my best knowing that I did my best to prepare for the race.  After all, my fiance’ will be out there at the halfway mark waiting for the hand off!

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Things To Remember

photo credit: www.flickr.com

A sunrise on a new day

The way my lover looks at me across the room

Celebrations big and small with friends and family

Eating a good meal every day

The love I feel for my sons

The passion I have for running

The healing that yoga brings me

Nights snuggled under the covers with a good book

The peace I feel in my heart

This week’s post  is inspired by Kellie Elmore’s Free Write Friday prompt:http://kellieelmore.com/2013/05/17/fwf-free-write-friday-image-prompt-7/

An Early Morning Ride

The steam rose off the pond

In the early morning chill

Creating an illusion of ghosts

Heading to their daytime slumber

The cold dawn belied the day ahead

with its promise of springtime toastiness

They rode together, two soul sisters

Sharing a sunrise conversation

They were heading to a place of  healing heat

A weekly oasis that stretched their aching muscles

Soothed their souls and cleared their cluttered minds

Their bond was a rock amidst major life changes

A reminder of what matters in life:

A beautiful dawn

Rejuvenating mind and body work

And a loving and lasting friendship

Training Fatigue

training fatigue

Saturday morning she awakens with a sudden jolt

 It is 4 a.m.  Her calves lock with charlie horses

Her hips feel frozen, her back is in spasm

She has trouble rolling over

She lets out a groan

She needs to get to hot yoga without a doubt

Another ten-miler is in store for tomorrow

Arriving, she embraces the heat

Each inversion and twist is met at first with pain

Then release and relief

The poses feel good

But she forgoes wheel and frog

Saturday supper: pasta, water and wine

She slumbers at an early hour

Sunday morning 6 a.m.

Arising stiff but not too sore

Shall she go?

She needs the long run without a doubt

Pain simmers beneath the skin

A natural feeling for the distanced runner

Each mile is ticked off without notice

Until the last

Her legs announce themselves

in all their glorious grief

She finishes and bends over with welcome relief

Early Morning Yoga

yoga at dawn

Breathe in

Breathe out

Muscles stiff and full of sleep

Early aches give way

Eyes Close

Hips Open

Breathe In

Breathe Out

Up Dog

Down Dog

Warrior One

And Two

Breathe In

Breathe Out

Balancing Thoughts

Heart and Nerves

Clearing the Lens

Breathe In

Breathe Out

Chair Pose

Twist and Hold

High Push Up and Low

Heart Open Eyes Wide

Breathe In

Breathe Out

A State of Grace

“God has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”   Micah 6:8

I love my faith community. It is a place that has provided me comfort in times of great sorrow. It is a place that healed my broken spirit. Mostly, it is a place of great joy where everyone is happy to see you and accepts you for who you are. We are an open and affirming community that is intellectually and spiritually stimulating. We are an action orientated organization that continuously is performing service work in our local region as well as in our country.

My church and the people who belong to it have helped my sons and I become better people. For me specifically, it has helped me become a more prayerful and mindful person.

When I think about prayer or the act of praying, I think about it in two ways: first as a conversation with God and second as an intention. I have a vague memory of praying on my knees beside my bed when I was a little girl and also of reciting the Lord’s Prayer as I lay in bed before I went to sleep. I’d like to think of those times as a sort of  introductory training on getting familiar with God in a more private way.

Now that I am further along in my faith journey, my prayers are more eclectic in nature. Sometimes, I find a prayer in a song. Marc Cohn’s “One Safe Place” is especially meaningful to me.  Other times, I will enjoy a moving meditation with God while I am running. Usually, this involves an actual plea or praise that I recite out loud. I often ask for help for others, especially the boys. I always ask God to watch over those that I know that are going through a challenge in their life. When I pray like this, I feel centered and closer to the Great Mystery.

But I have also had some powerful prayerful experiences in moments of stillness. This usually happens during yoga and is more spontaneous. I have had divine experiences during some of my practices that need no words; it is like an energy flow that goes directly to God. When this happens I feel as if my soul has been cleansed and renewed.

It is through yoga that I learned to set an intention either for the moment, the day, or the week. Intentions help me to stay present. They ease my worries. They give me strength and help me stay positive and put good vibes into the universe. Intentions remind me that I need to live my life purposefully. They maintain my connection to the Light. Right now my intentions are to live my life with grace and to let go of reminders of past hurts. I believe that I may have been doing this for a while; but now-every day-I say it out loud. These intentions have helped me get through some uncomfortable encounters lately and have allowed me to come out of situations feeling like a better person.

I think prayer has allowed for some amazing things to happen in my life. And I thank God for that!

I won’t be made useless
I won’t be idle with despair
I will gather myself around my faith
For light does the darkness most fear~Jewel

How Yoga Saved My Life

 Do you know what it feels to have the light of love surround you when all the darkness falls away?

Dave Matthews

I love yoga. I love the practice. I love the challenge. I love the sense of feeling grounded as soon as I hit my mat. I am so grateful that it has become a part of my daily life-especially when I am not on my mat.

I was having lunch with my graduate school friends about four years ago when the conversation turned to the topic of hot yoga. Two of my friends had gone to a local studio and were sharing their experience with us.  They turned to me and said, “Trackstar, you’ve got to try it! It is right up your alley because it is so intense!”

Unfortunately, my friends could not remember the exact name of the place. They knew the city where it was located, however, so I began my search. Picture the journey: a rainy, cold and dark November evening in an area that was completely unfamiliar to me. I began having second thoughts when much to my surprise, I arrived at an old house. The studio resided in the basement. I gave it a try that night and then another.  Somehow, in spite of the fact that I liked the experience, something about the studio did not feel quite right to me. In a later conversation with another of my graduate school friends, she shared that she knew of another hot yoga studio in a different part of the city. Maybe this was the one my other friends had spoken about!

The minute that I walked through the doors of the studio, it felt as if I was home. Immediately, the place gave off an aura of warmth and welcome.  Something inside of me understood that this community was a place for healing.  Up to that moment, I had been running twice a day in order to alleviate the stress related to the finality of my divorce process. Well, I wasn’t feeling better at all; I knew that I was risking injury with my current regiment.

When I entered the studio doors, I was also coming to grips with my mother’s diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. In essence,  I was a broken person. I had nowhere to put my dual grief. One of the things that I remember from that period was the amount of time I spent at the studio. Essentially, whenever I wasn’t out running, I was there. It became a chief focus: go to work and go to yoga. I am sure that I took care of other mundane tasks; after all my oldest was applying to college and I had to pay bills, take care of the house and put food on the table. But I was drawn to the practice because I knew that is where I needed to go in order to move through my pain.

I have memories of hard work, sweat and tears during that time.  Hot yoga takes you to a different plane; it peels back the layers of toxicity and negativity that invade your psyche. The beauty of the practice is that while space is shared with others-sometimes just inches away-it is profoundly private. I could let go and no one seemed to notice. When my mother died just 70 days after her diagnosis, I sought the solace of my mat.  My time on it became a divine experience and I am not afraid to say that I felt my mother’s spirit during many practices. I was also grieving the loss of an 18 year marriage; I was beginning to understand that the practice was an avenue for me to move forward into a new life.

Time marched on and I found myself talking endlessly about yoga. When finances got tight for a period of time, I practiced twice a day at home. My sons knew how much I loved yoga and conspired that Christmas to buy me 2 classes.   I remember seeing them with their heads together, engaged in deep conversation while we were buying our tree on a cold December night. Apparently, they were discussing my gift! For my birthday in the spring, two more classes were purchased followed by a Mother’s Day excursion to the studio for more. My youngest attempted the drive himself the day before and got lost!

The studio became another supportive community for me. I cannot begin to explain how each of the instructors helped me to become a more whole person. They are gifted people who have the ability to tune into the needs of their clients. They helped me heal and become a more confident woman. I will never forget the day that Elizabeth came up to me after a session to pay me a compliment. She said that I looked different in the practice now from what I was at the beginning. When I shared my story with her, she said that she could easily see that I was happier.

Yoga is an integral part of my life. It helped me become a better, more peaceful person. It helped me to realize that the ending of my marriage was a gift. It helped me to enjoy a healthy loving partnership with a beautiful man.  When I first entered the studio doors, I walked in darkness, now I walk in light.