Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I did not know you had curly hair!

This was an exclamation made at a fun “Cookie Swap” I attended today.  Granted, I am still getting to know everyone, but the person who said it was my running partner from this morning! 

After a group of us finished the 12.5 mile run this morning, we were talking about the Cookie Swap where many of us would be meeting at later in the day.  I joked that I wasn’t sure we would all recognize each other without our running gear on.  Turns out I was right!

Not only did I hear “I did not know you had curly hair!”, but I also heard, “OMG, I had no idea that was you!”.   We all joked about how different we all look when we’re dressed in street clothes and don’t have our hair tightly pulled back or hidden under a winter hat.

Back to the Cookie Swap…So.Much.Fun!  In all my years of baking cookies, I had never attended one before today.  I met more new people, enjoyed some appetizers, shared in some cookie swapping (haven’t tasted them all yet), and had some good laughs.

I’m glad to have spent a few hours running and then sharing cookies with this group.  I’m also glad they have now met the “non-running Lisa” as well as the “running Lisa”.  After all, I haven’t even broken out my winter running face mask yet.  I’d hate to have to start wearing a name tag!


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Nothing good happens after 2am….

I would normally agree, and not being a morning person, I think any time before 6am is too early.  For anything.  Never mind for running.  But today, that changed.

Today, I finally joined the 5:30 am crew who meets at a local trail for a 6 mile run in the woods.  I’ve heard of these die hard runners; they roll out of bed and onto the trail and complete their run at about the time I would normally get out of bed.  Today, I was one of them!  And today wasn’t the easiest day for my first time.

Tap…tap…tap drummed the rain on the window sill.  Waking to that sound always presents a risk to a planned run.  The early hour along with the darkness provided a true test for this non-morning runner.  Luckily, I had laid everything out I needed for the run.  We took the short drive to the trail head and waited a couple minutes while the others emerged from the darkness.

Hitting the trail, two things immediately happened.  First, my headlamp decided it was still asleep and wouldn’t stay lit.  Second, some major puddles ensured no one would finish this run with dry shoes.  A third miraculous thing happened within the first mile; I WOKE UP!  I actually enjoy running in the dark and even more so with friends.  There are usually a number of dogs who come along for the run for the treats everyone brings.  Today, I got to meet Bacon, the golden retriever.  Baconnnn!!!!

By the end of 6 miles, I was soaked, refreshed, energized, and extremely proud of myself for getting out there.  Having both my running gear and my work clothes ready was a huge time saver and I even got to work before 8:00…win!  Mentally preparing myself the night before was also key to following through with the plan. 

So go figure, some good things DO happen after 2 am…a good run, good friends, and a good lookin’ sunrise.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

My tribe grows!

It was clearly meant to be that we would join Scores Running Club.  In the temporary house my company placed us in when we first rolled into town, we found ourselves living on the Clarence Demar marathon route – right about mile 13.1.  How appropriate.  Towards the end of a particularly hard run one day, I bumped into and hung onto Susanne and Brian (part of Score's).  That run ended on such a good note and punctuated my decision to join this club.

Since that day, I’ve joined a number of group runs; on roads, on trails, dressed like Robin Hood (for Halloween of course), and soon to dress in an ugly sweater as part of a fun run/food drive for the Keene Community Kitchen.  Runs can end with pancakes, with beers, or just a high five.  But they always end with encouragement, positivity, and camaraderie.  

Today’s run had six of us traipsing through the trails for a couple of hours, enjoying a day that found a few of us peeling off layers (not me of course).    We found lots of hills – both ups and downs – and some dizzying switchbacks:


Post run, we grabbed a seat at Brewbaker’s for some coffee, hot cocoa, muffins, quiche….all well-deserved!  Food and company thoroughly enjoyed.

I’ve run solo.  I’ve run with others.  This is the first time I’ve joined a club.  Not only has it been great to have others to run with, it’s been the perfect way to meet people and get involved in our new community.  Let’s face it, runners are just naturally awesome.  Meeting like-minded, fun, and really nice people in your new town is also awesome.  Adding those like-minded, fun, and really nice people to your already awesome tribe….priceless.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Fifth Lap

Running TARCkey Trot 6 hour trail race was all about finding my footing.  It wasn’t easy.  This 5K loop originated from the lovely Wright Locke Farm in Winchester, MA and wound us through Whipple Hill in Lexington, MA.  It was runnable, but included a number of decent hills and countless rocky/rooty sections.  The weather was perfect:  chilly 7:00 am start, and onward to a warmer, 60 degree finish.  Finally, throw in chickens, goats, and the supportive and chill vibe of the ultra/trail running community, and you’ve got yourself a good day!

My goal heading into the last-minute trail race was wishy-washy at best.  Somewhere during the 1.5 hour drive to the start, I decided on the following:

1.  End the day with the feeling in my legs that I’ve worked.  Hard.
2.  Complete a minimum of 4 laps.

Mission accomplished!  I completed 5 laps and ended the day with hard worked legs.  Goals met did not come without challenge and obstacles.  I haven’t practiced my longer distance fueling in some time, and it showed.  I knew early on that I wasn’t fueling enough, yet couldn’t seem to find the right recipe.  My jelly sandwiches just weren’t cutting it.  The aid station had its usual buffet of everything imaginable, but still, nothing looked good.  I didn’t feel sick; but because I wasn’t eating or drinking enough, I felt off most of the day.  That lead to some sloppy feet, when…..BAM, I fell.  And with that fall came a double calf muscle cramp…OUCHHHHHH!!!!!  I didn’t lay there for dramatic pause, but because I needed to let it pass so I could get up.  A fellow runner stopped to make sure I was OK, helped me dig my bottle out of the trail, and wished me well.  I went on to finish that lap and went back out for my fifth lap.


At the end of my race, I was happy that I met my goals, but definitely hungry – for both food and for the command/confidence of the trails I used to have.   Reflecting on this race, I feel like this past year has seen a lot of my “finding my footing” as well. 

This year started out with a number of big changes:  accepting a new job in NC, selling our home in MA (where I had lived for 39 years – gulp), moving to NC, starting new job, and then deciding the area wasn’t for us.  Next stop?  NH!  I started yet another new job, and we bought a home.  Typing all of that in one paragraph was easy.  Living it was not.  Much like my race yesterday.


During this transition time in our lives, we encountered different hills too high to run.  Missing our family and friends was a big hill.  The culture was another hill.  The new job just didn't fit.  I couldn’t find my footing.  All the hope and promise of this new place felt like my fall on the trail.  But each time I “fell”, I got back up to try again. At the end of the NC “race”, I came to a realization that my goal wasn’t NC; it was the experience of having tried.  And the reward? I will never wonder, “What if…”

I’ve learned important lessons throughout my different “races”. 
  • Falls will happen; get up and continue on!
  • If you get lost, find another route!
  • Accept help; whether in the form of encouragement or of digging out your bottle from the trail!
  • It isn't always about the time/distance/destination, it's about the experience!
  • And most importantly, be open to the experience...no matter what the end result!

Having completed my fifth lap at yesterday’s race was a bonus.  I headed home grateful for the experience and for the ability to run.  This year has been an experience I never thought I’d have.  Whether setting off to run a new trail or to live in a new state (or two!), it took a confidence and a bit of courage I didn’t know I had.  The fact that I tried (and keep trying!) represents my ultimate fifth lap, where I finally found my footing.



Monday, November 14, 2016

Living in a heads down world

I’ve always heard “keep your head down” as it translates to a “stay out of trouble” sort of message.  Keeping your head down shows focus, right?  Keeping your head down shows determination, correct?  What happens if you keep your head down too much?  I’ve been thinking about what we miss when our heads are down, deeply entrenched in our phones, in our focus, and in our routine.

When we think “heads down” in the most literal sense, I immediately think of many of us “head down” in our smart phones.  Monitoring social media and reading or responding to text messages or emails.  And we know what happens when we try to walk while head down in our phones….


Aside from the funny moments of someone walking into a pole or a fountain because they’re so transfixed by their phone, what about what we’re missing when one or all are dialed into our phones at dinner or other functions that typically depend on physical interaction?


As we go through our daily grind, our drive to/from work often becomes so routine that we may not notice what seems obvious.  Recently, I showed someone a picture my husband took of a beautiful bridge.  The person asked where that was; I replied that it was right down the street.  On her next drive into work, she realized she had been passing that bridge every day and had never noticed it.  I know for me, the drive in to work is a time for thinking and for resetting my brain (getting ready for the workday or decompressing on the ride home).  I can easily find that I don’t remember the ride because I’m on autopilot.  Wonder what I’ve been missing on my daily drive…


Let’s face it, when running or hiking, it’s fairly important to keep our heads down to watch our footing.  Even when we focus on our footing, we still stumble and fall.  As important as it is to keep good footing, it’s equally important to see and appreciate the beauty around us.


This is not something I’m preaching about.  Nosiree…I have just become increasingly aware of how much I don’t want to miss.  I don’t want to miss a beautiful stone bridge on a New England Autumn day, great conversation over dinner with my husband or friends, or the chance to hike a mountain in time to view a gorgeous sunset and a super moon – while sharing hot cocoa at the summit with new friends.


Cheers!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Signs

The sun setting a touch earlier each day is a sure sign of the ending of summer…

Empty boxes are a promising sign of moving into our new home…


An important unpacked sign of celebration…


An exciting sign of an upcoming race…


A grateful sign of the love of friends….


A welcome sign of our new “home sweet home”…


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Ode to the 20 miler

No matter how many marathons or ultras  I run, the 20 miler always symbolizes “legit training”.  Since I’ve been trying to make myself a morning runner lately, I’ve racked up more weekly mileage than usual.  I’ve had a couple of 18 milers, but today was the big 20 miler.

This training cycle has really had more of a “get back in the saddle” focus.  Today’s 20 miler was the first of that distance (or greater) since my accidental ultra in January.  After that, all hell broke loose (in a good way of course) in the form of our move to NC.  And then our move to NH.  So this cycle has found me rebuilding not only fitness, but muscle – including mental muscle.

There are times when I feel like I’m painfully plodding along a 5 miler and I think back, “C’mon Lees, you ran Ghost Train 100 in 2014…..you can run 5 now”.  It’s great to reflect and even to use that reflection to further fuel today, but it can also be a bit of a downer when it reminds you that your fitness/stamina have taken a nose dive.  It sure is a journey.

Fret not!  Enter today’s 20 miler.  It wasn’t super fast and not my strongest, but hey, long runs aren’t supposed to be (not in my world anyway).  Today was about the basics:  getting up and out early, eating/drinking to prepare (I opted out of the free hotdogs at work on Friday – yay me), and most of all, keeping myself moving through 20 miles.  I nailed all three components and have the spent legs to show for it. 

Add all the recent Olympic moments and my first run this week in a group run setting and I can’t help but get jazzed about running again.  Getting back in the saddle has had its frustrating moments, but overall, I’m enjoying the journey and believe that that enjoyment shines through.  In fact, I found myself smiling during today's run.  Can't beat that.