Bird’s-Eye View

Part of my morning run.

As a runner it’s easy to get in a rut, especially if you’re a creature of habit (like me). I wake up at the same time each day, have my routines to get me out the door, and run the same general routes. I have gone off the beaten path several times the past summer as I felt trapped by the one thing that used to make me feel free.

I began venturing out on the dirt roads in the dark (nothing I had done previously because I didn’t want to end up twisting my ankle or running into wildlife). Throughout the summer months I expanded my training routes. No longer did I feel like I was doing the same thing day to day. The moon would light up the back roads and I could see surprisingly well. And only a handful of times did I encounter a skunk or two, a cow that had ventured out, or a magnificent hawk perched on a road sign. I actually very much enjoy interacting with nature on my runs because I realize I’m not alone. I can hear the coyotes howling in the not-so-far distance, and though at times I might panic slightly, strangely I feel more comfortable encountering wildlife than I do the occasional farm truck. Not to mention the daily light shows of shooting stars and almost epic trails of white dust they leave against the black velvet sky.

Though this morning’s run was one of those that ended up being character building, I enjoyed views I knew were well worth the efforts. Running early on a crisp and cold morning after a snow, and seeing nature untouched by humans is both captivating and motivating.

Sometimes all you need is a new perspective.

Husband’s Long Run Thoughts

Another Saturday and another long run under the belt. Some of us like long runs more than others, but no matter how much we may or may not like spending a few hours on the road it is what makes a distance runner…well, a distance runner. Unfortunately, there is no miracle pill by which we will have the stamina, determination, or strength to make it to the finish line if we aren’t willing to put in the time on the road to help get us there. It’s more than one good long run too ~ it’s a whole series of them that we challenge ourselves with week after week.

There are a lot of runners hitting the roads today. I’ve seen quite a few posts from friends and family about races they’re participating in or runs that they’re doing to start off their weekend too. Nothing like a little camaraderie to feel like you’ve got a force of running pals to help you get through the miles, and thank goodness for those random thoughts that sometimes pull us out of a momentary loss of consciousness.

I asked my husband what he thought about today on his long run and was given a little glimpse into what was on his mind. His thoughts were different than mine, mostly. But in a unique way there were a few things where even though the miles separated us our thoughts intersected and we traveled on mutual ground if only for a short while.

Running really does bring people together.



Fantasy Land

What better time to wish you were an Olympian athlete than during the Olympics, right? Watching the athletes perform is motivation for many to get moving, eat healthier, and start that healthy lifestyle one more time. Undoubtedly, there’s a lot of “wishing” going on during these few short weeks of watching impressive athletes pour their bodies and souls into doing the absolute best they can do, but it was a long path for them to get where they are.

We expect that one week of healthy eating or exercising will be the fix that gets us back on track, helps us get fit, or lose weight. However, it’s a lifestyle change that is required to turn us from mere mortals into flashes of life that we portray to our families, friends, co-workers…the world needs brilliant flashes of life. The world needs something that stands out and shines brighter than the crumbling society around us.

Don’t think of it as a chance to have a brief moment in time where you were all that you knew you could be. Think of it as a chance to live up to what you were created to be. Turn your fantasy into reality.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~ Psalm 139:14

Paradise Lane

Some days running is a chance to get away and take a mental break. Others, it’s a way of letting your spouse deal with the toddler who thinks the cat box is a sand box. And some days, running is just a way to get out and enjoy the view.

I’m a lucky girl. I live in a quiet country town with mountain views on the west and boundless earthy plains on the east. There is no lack of running territory or shortage of dirt roads. Typically during the week I find myself running on more well lit paths with less ability to voyage through nature simply because the sun isn’t always up as early as I am, but my weekend long runs are prime opportunity for enjoying breathtaking scenery and letting my soul capture the sheer depth of silence that is perpetuated only by the gentle wind.

No matter how hard the run, how challenging the workout, or how stressful and hectic life might be, every day I get to come back to Paradise Lane and live in a reality all my own that is simple and basic, yet mesmerizing in vastness and beauty.

This is my motivation. What’s yours?

The Running Dead

Oh now. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes you just have to find something to keep your mind going when you’re mentally and physically zapped during a long run. Today was just one of those days where it felt like I was trudging through quicksand. I live for long runs. I enjoy getting a few miles in and getting warmed up in time to watch the sunrise, but today I wanted to do nothing more than stop running and head back to bed. I was tired. I was exhausted. And I just couldn’t get my head in the game and the lead out of my shoes. Twelve miles never seemed so far away.

So, today was my mental run. I needed to toughen up my spirit and prove to myself I could dig deeper and get the run done. With each pat of the pavement another thought of quitting ricocheted through my head, so I chased it with a bigger thought of determination and fire. One step (and one thought) at a time I got through the miles. I have found that I am my biggest competitor, my greatest obstacle, and my toughest teammate. And I have learned that it’s not always about finishing first or best, but sometimes it’s just simply about finishing.

Today, I was okay with a slower pace and a tougher run as long as I finished…

…and outran the zombies.

Well gentlemen, I told you your time would come. There is nothing that means more to us women than knowing that we are loved and protected. When we see our men outdoors, taking care of themselves, being strong and healthy, we know that they will in turn be able to take care of us. There is more to life than financial stability. There is more to life than simply having a companion. We look for our soul mates – that single person in life that will tuck us under their arm and shield us from the things in life that may cause us harm, break us down, or shatter our spirits.

The time that you invest in yourselves is time you can, in turn, give to your women and families. We look to you for direction, support, guidance, and leadership. We instill our faith in your abilities to lead us and challenge us into becoming more than we could ever be without you. In return, we stand beside you wrapped in your strength and leadership, warmed by your soul and spirit, and next to your heart to be loved.

Now, now boys. You’ll get your turn later. Today, it’s all about the girls. We all have something we’re good at and we all enjoy being given a little pat on the back once in a while to know we’re appreciated. But the road doesn’t always hug us back when we’re out there, or tell us “Good job”. Sometimes, it brings tears to our eyes, aches to our joints, and a little inner anger. That’s all okay – it makes us stronger, defines our character, and gives us more to learn from that we can take with us into other areas of our lives (we’re women…we like to multi-task).

So you need a pep talk to get out the door every morning, or you need a little encouragement that it’s okay to take a few minutes for yourself each day? Okay, you’ve got them now. Here’s your warm fuzzy…

…now get your ass out there and run.

Of all the things we pile into our days, why is it that finding time for exercise seems to be the most challenging? Want the inside scoop? It’s really not the hardest part of your day – in fact it’s more often than not, the easiest. We just tend to make such a big deal about that one hour in the morning we take for ourselves, before the children are up, before the rest of the world wakes up and demands so much from us, and before we start demanding more of ourselves. It’s that one quiet hour on the road where you can hear your own heart beating, your shoes hit the ground, and the rhythmic pulse as your chest rises and falls with each meditative breath.

There will be days when you will feel tired. You will feel worn and beat down. But even on these toughest days, this will be the easiest thing you do. This will not tell you that you can’t, that you won’t, or that you don’t deserve it. This will not challenge your patience, scream in your ears, or pull you in a hundred different directions at the same time. This will be the easiest part of your day. So get out and enjoy it, before the world wakes up, takes you on a whirlwind journey, and the sun sets.

This is your day.

I’ve taken the week off from running to rest from last weekend’s San Diego 1/2. This leaves me with nothing notable to jot down about running, right? (You must not know me very well.) The past week has been a great week to take a break from running because life has come at us full force. We’ve rented our home (our new home won’t be finished for another 6-8 weeks), which leaves us a bit homeless for the next two months and moving twice. Amidst this chaos we’ve had sick children, pink eye, baseball tournaments, graduate coursework, and life in general. Needless to say, we’re running non-stop.

I found this at the race expo last week, and though I’m typically not one for all of the running clichés I found this quite humerous. Not because I run fast, but because life is running fast at me and I’ve found myself trying to keep up. It’s been a little tough, a little stressful, and a whole lot of sleepless nights. I’ve found myself getting sucked into the stress and losing sight in the humor of it all. Thanks to my kids who keep up the constant humor in the house, I realized I needed to take a step back in order to keep up.

Time to find the lighter side. It’s too easy to stumble and get lost in the dark.

I headed to San Diego for the Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon this weekend. The weather was perfect with overcast skies and temps in the 60s. I had a great plan outlined by my coach, and felt I was ready to hit the course with one goal: stick to the plan.

My head has always been my biggest obstacle. I’ve never cared about where I place on race day, but that I beat my last time (this would be known as Mistake #1). That same self-competitive nature transcends into my training runs, which can lead to exhaustion and the loss of good, simple, basic runs. The night before race day I found myself up every half hour, easily. Before I went to bed I tried everything I could think of to clear my mind, but my thoughts took over and the alarm was a welcome sound at 3:30AM. I started thinking about how tired I was, what could go wrong during the race, and what if my muscles cramped at the start like they had in Nashville? Then, I thought about the plan my coach had given me. At that point, I decided nothing else mattered but my race plan and I focused all of my efforts on thinking solely on my pace per mile.

I started the race and quickly found my pace and stuck to it. I noticed a group of athletes running together and talking about pace, goals, etc. Come to find out, they were running the same pace I needed to run through mile 6, and the San Diego Track Team invited me to tag along. Great company and a nice easy pace to start made the first several miles fly by. In talking with one of the athletes, I found out he went to college in Denver and he joked that this race shouldn’t count because I was at sea level. This race counted – not because I PR’d, and not because it was at sea level, but because I followed my coach’s advice and executed the race I was supposed to.

As we parted ways at mile 6 I wished him well and invited him back to Denver for a little run at altitude. You know, because sea level doesn’t count.