Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Running Cold

November is always the official start of coldness to me. November seems grey and chilly in my mind. At least outside. The leaves are mostly fallen. The grass has dulled from the brilliant green it was, to a dimmer more sullen green and brown. It's darker out in the morning, darker in the afternoon, and that means it's harder to motivate myself to get out of the house.

Last year was the first that I ran outside all winter. Not a lot mind you, but at least once a week. I had joined a group, the Onterora Runners Club, on their Monday night runs around Dietz stadium and its surrounding neighborhoods. It's a great group to run with, and knowing they were there got me out on some chilly nights. I attained some cold weather gear: gloves especially for running, insulated jackets, tall socks, and thermal leggings.

I've somehow drifted from the group. I could list excuses of my work hours changing, or rationalizations of Mondays being my most tiring day. Instead I'll just say that I do honestly miss it, and I hope the cold drives me to catch up with them.

When my alarm goes off now, it still seems to be nighttime. I slide out from the bed into the frigid air of my bedroom. I usually have my running clothes left out nearby, half laziness, half inspiration. I want to run, I really do. The cold and dark just works against me. But it's worth it after the first mile. That first one though, it's cold. My feet seem to hit the ground extra hard. My eyes water. My nose becomes a faucet that I can't control. My hands tense up and tighten and I realize I need to dig my gloves out of storage as soon as possible. No one else is out. A few cars. When I get to the track there are some walkers bundled up with hats and scarves. By mile three I can take my sweatshirt off.

It's only November 5th.

Bring on the cold.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

High Goals = High Self Worth

I am a very goal driven person. If I set a goal, I want to reach it. It helps me stay focused and motivated. Something to reach for. Something to be proud of once it's accomplished.

Well, if it's accomplished.

For the past couple months, I have been setting mileage goals for myself to run. Fifty in August, seventy five in September, now eighty five for October. I had to push it to reach September's number. Now I'm reaching the end of October with a little less than halfway to go still. I don't want to accept defeat. I'm not sure if it's possible. I'd have to do five miles a day for the rest of the month. I don't want to give up. I want success.

I can't get hung up on "if onlys". It's too easy to slip into that. We can't change the past. If I went back and redid the month, I would do it differently. Unfortunately, that's just not an option. Time to face facts - there is almost no chance I can get to eighty five miles this month. Almost no chance.

There is a slim chance though.

Why not try? Why not just go for it? There's a possibility of success here. Yes, it's a long shot. Yes, it's going to be a struggle. Yes, I might fail. If I give up now I fail anyway.

And what if I do it? What if I achieve the goal? No reward. Nothing tangible. I could tell people sure, I could tell you. It doesn't matter,in the scheme of the world, whether I reach eighty five miles or not. It means a hell of a lot to me though. I may not get anything but pride out of it, but that's enough.

Eight days. About 35.77 miles to go (I use the Nike app to keep trackAdd Me). That's 4.47 miles a day (had to use a calculator). Challenge accepted (HIMYM reference).

Set goals. And then kick butt to meet them. It's not easy. Who wants easy? Do you care about it? Are you passionate about it? Then don't let yourself give up. Don't get beaten. There are some things in our control even when most of our lives are out of control. Take it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Why I Race

I love the atmosphere of a race. To me, that's one of the best things about participating. I like to beat personal records, sure, but I'm not necessarily there to win. I mean, if I won, that would be the coolest thing ever, but that's not why I show up.

Actually, I don't even do many races. I would say my average is maybe two a YEAR. I hope to raise this in the future. Just writing it down makes me realize how pathetic that number is. Especially considering how much fun I always have.

When you go to a race, you will see every kind of person. Gender, age, color, size, shape, everything. Everyone is energized. You can feel the air thick with it. Without having to talk to anyone, you suddenly are part of a community. Sometimes it's a very large one. You all have at least one thing in common. You are here to run. I can't imagine many people do races when they don't like running. Maybe some do it for other reasons. There is something amazing about being around so many people who are passionate about the same thing.

Usually, I don't like going to events by myself. At a race, although I prefer some company, I can handle going by myself. It is a comfort to stand, waiting, at the start line, blending in with a crowd of people who are essentially the same. Yes, some are faster. Yes, some wear headphones. Maybe a few don't want to be there. When you are in the middle of everyone, you only feel the expectation of what is to come. The few minutes before the race, everyone is posed to begin. Excitement waves through and around. Once we are allowed to go, allowed to release our pent up energy, we run. No, we are not running together in the sense that we all know one another. But we are running together on this course. We are bound together by this one race. It doesn't matter who you arrived with, or if you arrived alone. Now you are running with everyone.

I sign up for races because it reminds me of how much running effects so many people. No matter where I'm running, there are other runners out there doing the same thing at the same time. Our feet pounding the pavement, or track, or trail. Sometimes it's nice to be able to see it. Tens, or hundreds of people. All with one goal, run to the end.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Don't Worry. If Onlty.

The past couple of days I have found it difficult to fit running into my schedule. It doesn't help that before 7 in the morning it is pitch black outside. How am I supposed to motivate myself to run when it is so dark and cold when my alarm goes off?

I feel the difference though. When I get to running several times a week then miss a week, it really is noticeable. My head feels heavier. I use my runs as a way to clear it, but now it is loaded down with thoughts and worries.

Someone told me recently to not worry so much. Do you guys ever hear that? I want to say right now that I need to never say that to anyone. Who is free from worry? How nice that must be. I tend to be a little anxious at every moment of the day. If I could control it I would. And I try to. I go for runs. I listen to music. I write. It doesn't make it go away. The worries are there. I just can quiet them down every now and again.

Don't worry so much.


Tell me how you don't worry about things. I can't just tell myself things will work out for the best and move on. I wish that worked. I've tried mediating. I've tried mantras. I've tried screaming into a pillow (not really, I can't bring myself to that for some reason). My head is always full of different problems. I want solutions. I want relief. How do other people free themselves of this?

Run. I want to run. At least it would help. Even just for an hour or so. A clear head. A relaxed mind.

I wish I worried less. I wish things didn't matter so much to me. They do though. I care too much. Not just about what people think, but about the future, about the past, about choices I've made or will make. Just go with the flow, I tell myself. Don't worry, other people tell me. How can I not worry when there is always so much at stake? Not to be super dramatic, but really. There is always something to lose. If I could not think about it, don't you think I would do that? If I could not worry, wouldn't I just not? Telling me not to doesn't help. Reassure me. Tell me HOW.

I need to run.

The Sock Problem

There is an age old question - Where do all my socks go? I'm not even just talking about half of a pair, I'm talking about whole pairs of socks! I really don't think the dryer is to blame, but how am I misplacing so many of them? Especially my running socks. That is the upsetting thing. I don't have enough of them to be losing them in abundance.

What all this talk about the mystery of the disappearing socks is about is that when I went for a run the other day, I had no running socks, so I was forced to use regular cotton socks. I mistakenly thought I wouldn't really notice a difference. That just showed me how little I really know about running.

How did I used to run in regular socks? After two seconds of running my feet felt like ovens. I figured the socks would just burn away at least, but instead they just got soaked with sweat, making them even more unbearable. I was aware of them every single stride of my run. Where does the sweat usually go? My socks felt heavy and uncomfortable. It really makes a difference. I am not even exaggerating. Thankfully this was not a long run. I could feel the blisters waiting to form.

I am not making that mistake again. Solution - get more running socks. Wash them by hand so as not to lose them? Nah, not that worried.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Selfish Runner

I read an article recently about questions that runners don't like to be asked (Worst Questions). The last one was, "why do you run?" The writer stated that it's not necessarily a bad question to ask, it just can be a difficult one to answer.

I agree whole-heartedly. There are so many reasons why I run. I run to stay in shape. I run for stress release. An excuse to listen to music. To get outside. Escape.

It's crazy then that it is hard for me to motivate other people to run with me. Then I realized, maybe I'm selfish with my running. I'm not sure I want to share it. A lot of times when I get up to run, I'm doing it for me. Actually every time. It's my time. I want to run my way. I dint want to worry about how slow I'm going or how long I'll be out. Usually I don't plan my route ahead of time. I don't want to talk. I don't want to take a break. I do want to take a break. I never know. I don't want to plan it all out.

I love my friends. I want them to understand my love of running. I want them to feel the weird joy of tears rolling down when it's too windy out. I want to show them how good it feels to make it to the top of a hill and then fly down the other side. How sweaty feels amazing sometimes. That a beautiful sound is the rhythm of feet on pavement. Why do I keep that all to myself?

I want to be a selfless runner. I want to spread running to others. To infect them with running fever. Wow that sounds intense. It is intense though. It's a need. The only way to answer the original question (Why do I run?) is:

Let me show you.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Unless You Want to Pay Me to Babysit...

I've come to realize that running at the track in the morning is a little better than at night. Less people, and more of them seem to be rule followers.

The best thing. No kids. There haven't ever been any kids at the track when I go at 7am. When I go at night it's a whole different story. All of the sudden the track is a playground. It's one thing if a kid is walking with their parents - and by with I mean right next to them, in one lane. Different story if it's a kid or several kids just running wherever they want. The first thing has never happened. No kid at the track just is appt to run in a specific lane for several laps. Instead it's a kind of pandemonium.

One scenario is kids going around the track, kind of running across all the lanes. They fall behind their parents (who are sauntering slowly in the middle lanes), then run to catch up. There's lots of yelling and general loudness coming from them - from the kids and the parents usually. Not one of them seems to be aware of anyone else using the track. They drift into my lane right in front of me, and I'm forced to dodge around them while I get glares from the parents. I'm not going to step on your kids. Not if I can help it at least. Not yet anyway.

Another occurance is kids playing with toys on the track while their parents stand nearby. At least the parents are within range of them, I guess. These kids are playing with little frisbees, and none of them have good aim, or they aren't trying to have good aim. There are so many frisbees, and they are just everywhere. Again, the kids don't pay attention to anyone else. They don't stay in one place, I mean they're kids. I can't seem to avoid them no matter which lane. At one point I was forced to weave through them! I'm not sure I can explain it. Don't they have a yard near their house or something?

Keep your kids out of the way, or at least teach them to be aware of their surroundings. Please. Although maybe the parents can't teach what they don't do themselves...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Change Your App Settings Please

You know what I'm really getting sick of? People posting their runs on Facebook. I am all for using apps to track your runs, but do the rest of us need to see every run you do? If we are really friends, it can come up in conversation and that's fine with me. Brag away. As for my only-on-Facebook friends...I don't care. Stop it.

First off, you might just be unable to turn off whatever automatic posting option there is on your app. I don't know how that's possible really. Have someone smarter help you. Why do you want to tell the entire Facebook world you ran a mile and a half anyway? Come on. I'm very impressed that you started running. Write an interesting snippet about your run. Comment on your new running shoes. Post a picture of your run. It's just the stupid mile count and map that annoy me. Stop it!

Secondly, it's probably actually you just bragging to the world that you are more fit than the rest of us. Think again. Just cause we don't post every run doesn't mean we aren't working out. In fact, we are so busy working out we aren't even on Facebook anyway. Well, not me, actually, I go on Facebook quite frequently. But I don't feel the need to update everyone every time I go outside to do more than walk to my car. And if I didn't run, I would be especially annoyed that you were rubbing my laziness in my face with your pathetic mileage! STOP POSTING ALL YOUR RUNS!

Just stop.

We don't need to know, and we don't care. Go find people who do, and tell them in person. Post a picture of your running outfit, or of you holding a medal (just not at the end of a mud run please, so sick of those...have you read this post?). By the way, I ran five and a half miles this morning. That brings me to 45 this month. #hypocrite

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

If You Were Me for a Mile or Two

ughhhI have a goal this month to run 75 miles. I'm determined to achieve it. This means that I can't let myself rationalize skipping too many days. One time I read a funny article about the thoughts of a runner (Here it is!). I thoroughly enjoyed it, so after my run this morning I am inspired to give it a try...

- Ugh I don't want to get up.
- I still have that cold. Need more sleep!
- It's raining. Great.
- Maybe I'll just skip my run today.
- No. You didn't run Sunday or yesterday. Get up!
- I should wear a hat, why don't I have any hats?
- It's raining pretty hard.
- Can my cold get worse if I run in the rain?
- Maybe I should go back to bed.
- Sweat out the sickness! SWEAT IT OUT. No more procrastinating!
- Alright I'm running in the rain. I must look so awesome. Who runs in the rain? Only the best runners , that's who.
- This hat sucks. It won't stay in place!
- Wow the rain is still hitting my face, stupid hat.
- This isn't too bad. All the cars passing must be so impressed with me.
- I'm so badass running in weather like this.
- It's not that bad actually.
- Really? You're gonna make me run in place in the rain while you slowing go through the intersection? Thanks buddy.
- My hat is soaked already.
- I need to fix my hat again. Stay in place hat!
- Running through puddles is fun!
- Maybe I'll jump over the next puddle.
- Wait a car's coming, no jumping.
- I must look like a wet dog now.
- How long has it been?
- Not even a mile. Alright I'll do two miles today.
- My nose is running. I'm so gross!
- I need to fix my hat again. ughhh.
- Stepped right in that puddle. Oh well. Almost done...ish.
- Running in the rain wouldn't be so bad with a better hat.
- Almost done, almost done, almost done.
- I really am almost done! Half mile to go!
- Let's do this...POWER SONG!
- Forget the hat. I'm never wearing it again.
- I'll go buy a hat just for running.
- I wonder how much a running hat is?
- Imagine a hat going for a run...what would hat legs look like?
- There is no one else running, I am such a pro.
- A soaked pro
- Why won't my earbud stay in now?
- Just a little bit left! Sprint!
- Earbud! Stop falling out!
- Breathe evenly...Breathe in...Breathe out.
- I can see my house!
- I can't wait to take this hat off!
- Done! Made it! I'm so awesome!

Well essentially... that's what I was thinking. Just reread it. I am awesome.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Keepin' it Clean

Is everyone doing those obstacle races lately? I can't seem to use any kind of social media without seeing a thousand posts about the Spartan run, or a mud run, etc. You got dirty running a race, what's the big deal? It's the newest fad, and it's kind of making me never want to participate in one.

I know this is a really ridiculous thing to complain about, but humor me. Most of these people are not runners. They just see this race where you climb things and fall into things, and they think, everyone else is doing it, why don't I? Well, maybe they think one of a million things, but essentially it breaks down into that thought. After they do it, we are all subjected to muddy pictures of them with their arms triumphantly raised in the air. Brag much? Wow, you ran one race. I'm so proud of you.

What's the big draw to these "races" anyway? Why have they become such a trend? Do people want to roll around in the mud, and think that they need an excuse to do so? Don't bother with the race honey, just get a hose and some dirt then jump in. Mud wrestling is a real term. If you're a woman, you'll probably draw a crowd. What is getting "down and dirty" looking to prove about yourself? Maybe it's about how tough you are. Maybe it's woman trying to show they aren't afraid to play with the boys. Maybe that sounds a little sexist. Why are people flocking to these races?  Are these runs just about showing off?

I resorted to the internet to try to find out other people's opinions on mud runs. I saw the word "fun" a lot, and "challenging" a bit too. There isn't a concrete reason for the spike in popularity. Which leads me back to the general braggy-ness of people. I'm seriously thinking that everyone just likes to be able to say they've done a mud run. They've survived! And they have a picture of themselves covered from head to toe in mud to prove it. I'm not a big fan of the current "big thing". I tend to go in the complete opposite direction. I guess I'm a traditionalist. I'm quiet about my successes. Don't get me wrong, I love races and the environment that comes with racing. I like meeting other runners. I like talking about miles and courses and water bottles. I like novelty races. I want to run an electric run. I'm a hypocrite.

I am anti-mud run. There, I said it. It's too gimmicky and I don't like it! That's my opinion. You don't have to like it. I'll get dirty on my runs and not feel like anyone needs to know.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The "Presents" of Horses

Sometimes I get tired of dodging people on the track, so I go to our local rail trails. Let me take a minute to praise the makers and upkeepers of these trails. You guys are awesome! Thank you for giving me a beautiful place to run, walk, and bike!

Another nice thing about these trails is that I don't have to deal with a ton of other people. I do have to deal with what people leave behind. Seriously guys? Can't we clean up after ourselves? Particularly - our animals?

Actually I'm surprised to admit that it seems like most dog owners respect the law of consideration and pick up after their furry friends. So why is it that they are expected to do this, and horse owners can just leave giant piles in the middle of the trails? I mean the horses leave giant piles, not the owners. But the owners should pick them know what I'm trying to say there, right? That makes sense.

People seem to respond to this by saying that horse poop is all natural, so it can simply degrade on the trail and not hurt the environment. Really? So the only reason dogs should be picked up after is that their leavings aren't biodegradable? If it was, would we have to live with it being left all over the place? I bet plenty of dog owners feed their pets natural products. Does that mean these particular dogs don't have to be cleaned up after? I'm not sure this makes sense to me. If people eat all natural, vegan foods, can they poop on the trail too? Okay, maybe that took it too far.

Horses just always seem to leave these heaps right in the middle of the trail. Can you pull over and let the horse do his or her thing? Probably not, I guess. Maybe the horse doesn't tell them when it's time to go.

I guess there isn't a way to argue this one. A horse's poop dries out and breaks down to be just another part of the trail. It's only hay and grass, right? That doesn't mean I'm excited for the times I have to step in it, run around it, or jump over it. Thanks for making the trail slightly less pleasant, horse owners. Glad you're above the rest of us.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Track Rules: Walk Tall (In the appropriate lane)

To keep the peace of the track, faster runners should use the inside lanes, and slow walkers should use the outside lanes. Pretty simple, right?


Instead, people decide randomly. People walking by themselves seem to scatter to whichever lane their heart desires. No matter whether they are strolling or speed walking, they could be anywhere. Not only that, they change lanes! Apparently, it is very hard to remember how many times they have been around the track, so they have to switch lanes every time around to keep tally.

I'm going to remind you again that I'm not racing around the track at a breakneck pace. I keep to the third or fourth lane (closer to the inside, but not close enough that I'll get in a faster runner's way). Each time I go to the track I am determined to be able to stay in my lane the whole time. Instead, I'm almost constantly having to run around people as the mosey around. I'll actually make sure and pick a lane that no one is using, but by the time I've done a half mile, someone is ahead of me IN MY LANE. What are you doing in lane four? You can see that I've been running in this lane for several laps. There is at least one lane NO ONE IS USING! GO THERE! WALK OVER THERE!

I just took a moment to calm down. Sorry about all the capitals. I got carried away.

Do you understand my frustration though? I'm running at a steady nine to ten minute mile pace, in one lane, for about 30 minutes. I pick a lane that no one else is using. Yet, people seem determined to ignore me and wander over into my lane. Then they walk. Slowly. So, even at my not-so-fast pace, I catch up to them and have to move around them and then back into my lane. Unless I switch to the other empty lane. Sometimes I do that, only to have another couple people decide to walk in that new lane.

Can I clarify here that most of these times there are only about ten people on the track. Eight of these people are walking. One guy is running in lane one. Then there's me. Why are so many people moving into my lane?! Leave me and my lane alone! I would like to just run without any obstacles. Is that such a big deal?

Please walkers. Pick one lane from lanes five, six, seven, or eight. Walk in that lane. Stay in the lane until you are done with your walk. It's not difficult. If you're having trouble counting your number of laps, just find some other creative way to remember. Is it that hard to count in your head? Stay out of my lane.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Track Rules: Keep Your Sports to Yourself

Why are there rules for running on a track? Well I actually just tried to look that up, and couldn't find a very specific article to quote. I'll just put it my way then. There are rules for running on a track because it makes it more enjoyable and convenient for everyone, and apparently it helps the track not get worn out so fast. These rules are not very complicated. Three days a week everyone goes clockwise, and the other days, we all should go the opposite way. The inside lanes are for faster runners, and the outside ones are for walkers. Why does everyone seem to find this so complicated? Or, no one finds it difficult to follow, they just don't care and selfishly do whatever they want.

I run on the track because its close to where I live, I don't have to worry about traffic, and I like to pretend that it's easier on my feet and knees. The measurements on the track make it easier to run intervals, and to have a better idea of how far I've gone and how fast (without having to check my phone or watch).

Unfortunately, every time I go to the track I am confronted with the fact that no one really gives a damn about anyone else. It's the "I'll do what I want" attitude, and it frustrates me to no end! I'm not sure I can fit all my snobbery into this one post. Lately running over at the stadium has just been driving me nuts. I run to de-stress. I run to cool off. I don't want to run over people, but I will.

I first especially noticed this people-problem when I was running at night. The track becomes a free for all once it gets dark. The middle field is completely filled with several different groups playing various sports: football, soccer, ultimate frisbee, lacrosse, etc. This is fine. I don't need to use the turf, so I don't really care what happens there. It does start to bother me when balls and people roll out in my way. One night, I actually had to dodge out of the way before I got hit in the head. Maybe you should learn to play somewhere else. Maybe there should be more public parks that are open at night so soccer players can relocate themselves somewhere where I will not be running. Why is the track the only well lit field in town? Maybe that's a question for another time?

These sports people also don't know how to exit the track in a considerate way. They will slowly gather their belongings, and then drift out onto the track in groups. I guess they realize they still have some things to discuss, so they stop mid-track to talk about these (very important) issues. Do they move when they see me coming? No. And I'm not exactly flying along. They have plenty of time to shift to one side or another. Instead, they just watch as I run all the way around them, sometimes having to go outside of all of the lanes to pass them. Seriously?

Please feel free to play your games on the green space of the track. Contain them to that space! I don't run onto the field and get in your way! I keep myself and my stuff in a tiny little lane. Don't expect me to kick a ball back to you. Keep your balls as far away as possible.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Just to be Clear

I'm not a professional runner. Not even close. I'm not even a particularly good runner. I don't have a lot of races under my belt. I've never run a marathon. I still don't really understand what a fartlek is.

So why am I allowing myself to be so stuck up about running? Because I can. Yup, I'm gonna use that cliché expression. If you continue reading this blog, you'll probably see a lot of that.

When I am running, I find my mind wandering to many different things. Sometimes I wish I could do some sort of running meditation. Run with a clear mind. That hasn't happened yet. Instead, I notice a lot of rather annoying things. I want to say something about them. I know that I can't change the way things are, and I don't even really want to try. I like to complain. I like to bitch about people running the wrong way on the track. I'm a snob. A snob who occasionally runs.

I only really got into running less than ten years ago. It was all thanks to a friend, and the fact that running is a stress reliever that can include loud music. I tend to run alone. I race from time to time for fun, but I'm not especially fast, and I'm not looking to place (although I wouldn't mind). I like work out clothes. I love shoes. I'll probably talk about those things here.

I'm not sure whether I really care about other people hearing or reading my opinions. My opinions aren't that important in the scheme of things. I just like writing them down. When I run, I compose pieces of writing in my head, and sometimes I'm sad that it never goes past that. At the end of the run, they disappear. I never put them down on paper. Lost words. Maybe that can change here. I'll say what I need to say, and maybe, what you want to hear.