Monday, January 24, 2011

There's more than one way to skin a, dog

Today, I had the pleasure of running with two dogs.  Usually, I just run with Beppo, my 11 year old miniature poodle.  Despite the foo-foo reputation of poodles, Beppo is quite the athlete, swimming, running and chasing the ball. He does not act like an 11 year old dog.  Poodles were actually bred as water retrievers by the Germans, and their goofy hair cuts were designed to keep their core temperature warm, while preventing them from becoming entangled in debris while swimming.  But I digress.....

As I was saying....usually I just run with Beppo when I am alone, keeping him leashed because of the maurading coyotes and bobcats  (I have actually seen a bobcat on the trail and some people carry big sticks.). He jogs very nicely beside me.  Today, however, Twiggy ran with us.  Twiggy is my daughter Susan's dog, and is a true 45 pound American mutt; she got her from the city pound.  Susan has moved to New York City, and has decided that this was no life for the Twigs, so she is temporarily residing with me. She is a very sweet dog, but strong; today, she went for a run with us.

The challenge was how I was going to run with two dogs. Twiggy is so strong that she was actually pulls me, even though she has wonderful leash manners.  Now, I am still stiff from Sunday's five miles, and the temptation of getting some help by being pulled by Twiggy was might tempting. This  would not be helping me train--a cheat, so to speak-- so I sucked it up and devised a system to keep both Beppo and Twiggy leashed and close to me without becoming encumbered with having to carry the leash.  Check it out....

They never knew I wasn't leading them......tell me I'm not a genius!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mud Pies

Waking up yesterday morning to 22° weather, I was faced with a dilemma.  I was supposed go run with the Team in Training team at 6:30 AM....yes, that's right 6:30 in the morning......but anyone that knows me knows that:
  1. I don't 'do' least, not well
  2. I don't do cold....even with hot flashes
That being said, I texted the coach and let him know that it was too cold for my old bones, then rolled over and went back to sleep.  Aaaahhh--glorious slumber.  There is no sleep better than stolen sleep, especially in the early morning, snuggled deep within the warm blankets..........even the four legged creatures sharing my bed continued to snooze.

However, at some point, the Piper has to be paid, and as the temperatures climbed into the high 40's,  Bob and I went to run at Arbor Hills nature preserve.  It was a five mile run--my first....  (Last week, in case you didn't know was my first 5K marathon..a lot of 'firsts' for this old lady)  I set a slow, but steady pace and commenced running. Being a beautiful day, the paths were full of skate boarders, walkers, dogs and children .  I felt a flush of irritation as I dodged the more dangerous pedestrians, most of whom were toddlers on bikes. Still I ran on, my feet thumping out a steady cadence.

All was well until Bob signaled me to turn and run down an unpaved mountain bike trail.  'Yay', I thought, 'No more dodging little kids!'

I have no doubt that Bob knew where he thought he was going, but soon we were crossing streams, pushing aside prickly branches and occasionally rolling an ankle on a tree root.  Nonetheless, it was pretty and rather soothing to be surrounded by nature, that is, until we hit the mud.... 

The sodden Texas clay suddenly appeared everywhere on the trail and one could not avoid it.  Soon, it was sticking fast to my shoes, which became heavier and heavier with each step... but still I plodded on.  Now I am no skinnie-minnie, so when you add the extra pounds that were now adhering to my feet to that on my hips and thighs, things became a little tough. My heart pounded and I gasped for air, but I was not going to stop,   Bob, unaware of my struggle, ran blithely ahead and that's when  I was started to do a slow seethe. Then came the hills....hills with 5 pounds of mud sticking to my feet!   Lordy, lordy, what is this man trying to do to me?  Still I ran, huffing and puffing, wondering when was I going to get the runner's high everyone talks about? 

Finally we got back to civilization, and onto a paved path.  The toddlers and skate boarders were still there, but now the challenges they presented didn't seem so bad.  My shoes started to lighten as the mud flew off of them and I picked up speed as I completed the remaining couple of miles. 

Moral to the story: Things can always get worse, so appreciate the present instead of finding fault....

Remind me of this next time I complain.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


I got up achy and tired this morning, but motivated by a donation from Amy Whaley, I went out and ran anyway. 


Today was a fartlek other words, interval training.  I pushed through the first couple of fartleks, but the back side of the run became so painful, that I ended up walking most of the way home.  My knees had sharp pains in them, particularly the right one.  I felt a twinge of that last night after spin class, but today it was painful.  Perhaps I am reverting to my old running posture, which was very unhealthy.  More concerning was the muscle pain--it wasn't cramping, but more like the growing pains that I remember as a child.  Does this mean I am building muscle?   (fingers crossed)

 I probably didn't help my body last night by eating all those Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies.  But...... Oooohh--they were so good!!  MMMMM....  Today, I decided I better eat a little healthier and had yogurt and poached chicken breast for lunch. 

Besides, there weren't any cookies left.............


Monday, January 17, 2011

"What would you do if you knew you could not fail?"

Every year I try and do something that will push me out of my comfort zone and challenge me. For too many years I let my fear rule me--you know, fear of failure, fear of being laughed at, fear of not being good get the picture. 

This year I have decided that I am going to run a marathon...well, a half marathon, to be exact.  I thought running 26.2 miles was a little bit too much out of my comfort zone--especially since the only place I tend to run is to the bathroom and I only have until May to train--so I have settled on 13.1 miles and will be running the Oklahoma City Memorial marathon May 1. Let me make it perfectly clear....I HATE RUNNING.  I don't know why--perhaps because it is such hard work, (unlike a bike, when the legs stop moving, so do you), perhaps because I am so slow, perhaps because I think I look like Sasquash when I run...who knows.  I just know it is something I have avoided like the plague.  So this is the year that I push past all that and just do it.

Since you were on my journey across the United States, I am inviting you along on this one to cheer me on, to laugh with me, to commiserate with me and to kick me in the behind when needed. And maybe a long the way, you will become inspired, too.  .....what would you do if you knew that you could not fail? 

BTW--I am also running this marathon to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Last year's ride was to raise awareness, this year I am actually raising funds.  In the ten past years, I have raised almost $25,000, and this is a shameless plug for feel free to give.  It is a tax write off, you know.....  :-)   Click here to donate to finding a cure for blood cancers!

Life Back in the Maintstream

A number of months have now elapsed since the end of the ride, and with that passage of time comes clarity of lessons learned and changes in attitude and perspective--some detectable and others not.  The last night of our ride, one of the tour leaders discussed with the group the effect that such a journey might have on us.  For her, she re-examined what was important in her life, and made a major career change as a result.  At that time, revelations of this magnitude had not become apparent to any of us, and as the days since the ride have passed, many I have talked with still have not had huge 'a-ha' moments.  However, many have had smaller, more numerous discoveries.

For me, the transition back appeared to be seamless on the surface.  I was glad to be home, and if I didn't ride again, that would be 'ok'-- my hiney had had enough.  Well, that lasted about a week; the pull of the bike became too great and I was out riding again. Upon rejoining my local bike group, I found I was slower than I was at the same time last year, and my nerve riding in the fast-moving, tire-to-tire pace line was missing.  I struggled to keep up with riders I rode with easily last season, and was very timid riding in the  paceline, keeping several feet distance between my bike and the person in front of me. That was a tremendous surprise and bothered me greatly; I had expected to come back faster and stronger!  As the season progressed, tire-to-tire riding, again, became comfortable, and I worked my way back up into the pace group with which I was used to riding. Along the way, however, I made a discovery.

Though I love the thrill of the speed and a 30 person paceline moving as one, the focus and attention it takes to do so safely does not allow room for enjoying anything beyond that paceline.  My focus is entirely on the riders in front of me, beside me and the road beneath my wheels. I am not mindful of the scenery, nor even of where I am. It is thrilling, but I have ridden some of the courses for several years now, and could not give directions back to our start point; that is how unmindful I am of anything but my immediate surrounding. So for me, one of the things I have discovered is that backing off the speed and taking in the scenery is just as enjoyable as the rush I get from going fast and furious.

This realization has overflowed into my life off the bike.  I have always been very results oriented.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but in chasing the result, I often forget to look up and appreciate what is around me, whether it is people, events or scenery.  This journey has shown me that I can have a balance; I can still 'speed' and obtain my results, but I can do so at a pace that affords me the time to immerse myself in my surroundings.

I did miss the freedom of being able to ride countless miles with little attention to time and money.  The biking bubble that surround us during the Southern Tier ride had definitely burst.  Now, the real world intruded on my rides, and I was mindful of the clock; riding three, four, five hours a day is no longer possible.  Now, two hours pushing the peddles is a good ride.

The other big transition was that I was back in a metropolitan area, and if I need to go to the bathroom, ducking into an field or behind a bush was not going to work anymore.  Another freedom gone....