Life's little adventures, accompanied by a running watch

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 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.