Family of Runners

The more I run,I learn that running is not just something that I do, it is a part of who I am.  There is a freedom and a joy that comes from running that I find satisfies in a way that no other activity or endeavor can match. When I get outside, head high, feet light and quick, smile blazing on my face, I know I am free. I am on my path and no one can move me. I am a runner. I can do anything I decide to do.

As I sat in my post-12 mile trail run Epsom Salt bath Sunday afternoon, reading the end of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, the story brought bubbles of joyful giggles and tears to my eyes.  I thought, this is what running is about.  It’s not about the competition, or your next PR, or beating this person or that, it’s about community, cheering one another on, and the camaraderie at the heart of every runner.  We are in this together, and we are invincible when we embrace the joy of running, and move forward on the course with our teammates.

Last Sunday I had the great pleasure of running with my Grampa.  My scheduled run was to be 15 miles, and Grampa was planning about ten, so my plan was to do five prior to meeting up.  As it turns out, I ran two prior to meeting Grampa at the trailhead to tackle ten miles on Wildwood, which later turned into 12 miles on the trail, my morning run netting a neat 14 miles.  I decided to allow myself a break in mileage due to increased difficulty of terrain.  I have never run more than a 10K on trails.  It was beautiful out, but my goodness.  I knew I would experience some soreness after that run!

We ran uphill toward Pittock Mansion, and while taking in the city view, Grampa pointed to the next hill over and let me know we were running over there, up past the zoo.  It was a fabulously cool day.

The trails were stunning.  Lush, vibrant greens surrounded us on the hard-packed dirt trails.  The trails were dirt, gravel, and filled with random tree root or rock protrusions, which kept my eyes trained on the ground before me, and somehow my eye was still pulled to take pictures of the gorgeous surroundings.

We had so much fun running up and down those trails; I learned the route and where to pop off the trail for water stops, and we talked about life and adventures.

When we arrived at the Pittock Mansion for the second round, we found a garden party out of the past overlooking the city…  The attending parties were stunningly attired, and I couldn’t resist a portrait of this couple, which they graciously allowed me to photograph.

On the way back down, the sun had finally broken through the clouds, and the light all around was like liquid gold filtering through the trees.  By this time, it was nearing noon, and the trails were filled with people out for a jog, walk, hike, with strollers, dogs and walking sticks, everyone was on the trail in the forest enjoying the outdoors.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to run with my Grampa.   I feel very lucky to get to go on this marathon journey with my family, training with my friends, being a part of the greater running community.  It is awesome!

Me and Grampa

Keep your head up, a smile on, say hello to your fellow running-mates, and enjoy the run!
~Alaina

Present or Observant

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Saturday’s run through the neighborhood.

You may have noticed a rather dramatic decline in the quantity of pictures displayed post – run on this blog.  I found myself meditating on this and attributing the lack of photo diary to the weather, but I know that is not true.  Even when it is raining and gloomy, I always seem to find some spot of beauty to photograph and share with my friends.

And then it dawned on me.  I am primarily running with friends, and while it’s true that I do not like to stop and get behind by taking pictures, I usually take the opportunity to pause and catch the perfect moment in time in nature on Instagram (find me @alainamaeve), followed by a sprint back to the group.  Each time I head out on Saturday with these ladies, I am more present, having great conversation;  I am connecting, paying attention to my running mates, rather than my surroundings.

Do you find yourself more aware of your conversation or your surroundings while running with a group?  

I am building better friendships with these people who share my interest in running, and to be honest, these women are worth more than a thousand photos.

I am so grateful for the group of fabulous women who get up early on sleep-in Saturday with me to run 8-12 miles.  This run has become the kick-off to my weekend, and these women, my friends, a fantastic foundation of support helping me move forward to achieve my goals.  I hope that I am able to be as great a companion and an inspiration for others, as they are for me.

With love and joy in running,
~Alaina

Great run; bonus images!

Today’s run took place after work; getting out to door early to run before the coffee had perked seemed a little too much effort today.  Fortunately for me, as the day wore on, the weather improved, leaving me with party cloudy skies and a lovely 55 degrees outside. 5.65 miles later, this is what I have to show for my time outdoors:

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The Portland sign, leaping above the high water.
Blue Heron sighting - thanks to the gentleman quietly observing her, I was alerted and joined in the gawking.
Blue Heron sighting – thanks to the gentleman quietly observing her, I was alerted and joined in the gawking.

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I hope you enjoy my run as much as I did!  It was the perfect route for testing my newest gear: New Balance Minimus WR00.  A review will follow later…

What is your favorite time to get out and run?  Are you a fan of pouring rain, bundled  in layers, or do you lean toward tanks and sunshine?  Morning or Night?

Happy running!
~Alaina

Searching for Red, Found Sparkle Instead!

After a long day at work, I took a few minutes to peruse the local mall in search of a red shirt for a dance performance I will be a part of  in about two and a half weeks.  (Yes, I do enjoy social partner dancing, usually West Coast Swing or Blues.  This performance will be a choreographed routine of with six couples; one minute and forty seconds of Nightclub 2-step and West Coast Swing, each).  Much to my surprise, my search was for naught.  I was positive I would find a plethora of red attire this close to the December holidays, but apparently, apparel stores are on a much more conservative schedule to release holiday product than our local grocers.  Or, perhaps red and green are “out” this year, and the light peachy-orange color I’m seeing everywhere is the new red…?

Despite my failed attempt during my costume search, I did discover much beauty in the quiet evening at the mall. There may not have been holiday red, but the lack of festive color fled from my mind when I was blown away by shine, sparkle, and some holiday “snow” bubbles…

Sparkling lights – bubble blower creating “snow” from above.

Enormous decorations hung from the ceiling:

Ceiling ornamentals

Even the transit stop looked glorious in the lamp-light.  Maybe it was the reprieve from the rain, but I was seeing beauty everywhere tonight.  And I am so grateful.

If you’re like me, you probably have your phone out much of the time you are on your commute – checking Facebook, email, making phone calls… Do yourself a favor, and look up.  Take some time to really see what is around you, find some joy in what you witness, and share that experience with others, so they can take time to do the same.

Happy Wednesday!
~Alaina