Fair Weather Runner No More! … Or Not

IMG_9628

On Tuesday last week, after my first weekday run, I decided I had finally succeeded as a runner: I no longer shy away from running in uncomfortable weather!   Tuesday morning was cold and wet … very wet.  I felt proud of myself for getting out, completing five miles in heavy rain, and rather enjoying myself.

Puddle jumping with the Geese!
Puddle jumping with the Geese!

I was ready to declare to the world: I am no longer a fair weather runner!

… and then I woke up Wednesday morning to a sunrise blackened by heavy cloud-cover and the sound of hail hitting my windows…  And the only thought going through my mind was: “I can run at work today”.
On the treadmill.

Immediately I was upset with myself.  It felt like I was cheating!  And that was not the end of it… when I decided to do my run – on the treadmill – the sun broke through the black sky and taunted me as I looked out the window from my stationary running machine.  I nearly got off the track and got outside, but the threat of hail and heavy rain kept me sequestered indoors.

I run in the rain all the time!  It seems rather silly (or dare I say, shameful!) that I would avoid the outdoors simply due to the threat of inclement weather.

Do you find yourself avoiding your outdoor workouts when the conditions are less than favorable?  

Fortunately, this week the weather has turned and given a nod to Summer… into the eighties, beyond my wildest imaginations for end-of-April in Oregon.  Unbelievable.  I ran at sunrise without a hat for the first time this week, and in a t-shirt this morning!  (I like to stay warm, generally that means long sleeves, hat and gloves in the wee hours of sun-rising).

And it has been so Beautiful!

IMG_9735

 

I am loving the early sunrise, heavy foot traffic on the waterfront, and reflections in the river I have come to know so well in the last six months.

This weekend, we return to rain, and I resolve to get out and run!

Happy running!
~Alaina

Grateful days – 11.5 mile Trail Run and 100 Posts Completed

IMG_9053

This morning was quite the treat – the Saturday Run group met at one of our favorite spots: Leif Erickson Trailhead at the top of Thurman to do a trail run.  This run was unique because we ran the entire length of the trail.  A first for us all, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to view some new scenery.  The farthest distance I have run out this trial was to mile marker 6 (a total of twelve miles out-and-back).  Today’s trip was an uphill run, out one-way.  Grey, cloudy, and toward the end of the run, a bit rainy.  I think the moisture only enhanced the greenery around us, filling the air with soft pitter-pats of rain soaking into the ground, the calming scent of Earth, and helping us to feel more connected and alive in the outdoors.

IMG_9045

IMG_9046

IMG_9047

IMG_9048

IMG_9050

IMG_9049

 

IMG_9051

 

 

IMG_9052

This was my longest run since last year’s St George Marathon, and it felt good to get out and do some extra mileage.  With another marathon coming up in May, I am starting to feel the need to be more strict with my training schedule, as I have yet to fully commit to running 20+ miles per week.  When I think back on last year’s training schedule, the time commitment sounds significant when I add up the hours, but since I ran before work on weekdays, it felt less so because I was done with the required mileage before I even started the work-day.  How do you manage marathon training?

Next week is the Shamrock Run!  I have signed up for this race two times previously, and been unable to attend the actual event.  This year, I am looking forward to tackling the 15k on the Terwilliger hill, and joining in the sea of runners dressed in Kelly Green, embellished with Shamrocks.  Will I see any of you out on the road next Sunday?

On another note, today is a very special post for me – this is my 101st post!  Never did I imagine that I would be able to keep writing about running for so long.  I have discovered running is a pretty interesting sport, with many sights worth seeing, places to explore, and distances to conquer!  I want to thank all of you for reading and responding to these entries; not only has this been a great outlet for writing and sharing the beauty I see while getting distance under my belt, I have also made some great connections with like-minded folk near and far.  I am humbled to know that there are 100 of my friends, family, and acquaintances who choose to read the words on these pages.  You inspire me to keep writing, and I cannot thank you enough for that gift.

All my best to you on this wonderful Saturday.

with joy and gratitude,
~Alaina

Saturday Evening Race to the Top

Saturday morning I awoke to the most colorful, layered sunrise sky I have seen from my new apartment (I apologize for not capturing that gloriousness in a photo – will do next time!).  For some unknown reason, I sat up with a start early-ish this lovely weekend morning. Perhaps because the time was 7am and my body usually experiences the 6am wake-up alarm of the M-F routine, or because Saturdays are reserved for the group run, which commences promptly at 8am, and a little worry may have crept into my sleeping brain that I might soon be missing something important.

Last weekend, Saturday’s agenda took an unusual path.  I was meeting my sister for breakfast in the suburbs, and going to a baby shower a little farther yet from home.  And I was nervous.  Why, you ask?  Because I was driving outside of the city…

To most people, this will seem a little dramatic.  But to tell you the truth, I was a little terrified.  I have only had my driver’s license for a little over a year, and a car to drive for less than three months.  (Yes, I am a grown adult and nearly 32 years of age – I’m just a little late to jump into the vehicle game).

and I had NEVER driven on the freeway alone…

I knew the easiest, and most time effective, method of getting to my destination meant driving on one of those multi-lane, 50 mph and faster highways with crazy people speeding, merging, and darting around me.  I was…

TERRIFIED!

My morning progressed slowly, meaning by the time I walked out my door, I was running late, and since the back roads were going to take about 26 minutes, I needed to save myself ten minutes and take the highway.  So I sucked it up, got in my car, and drove right onto the highway ramp.  I drove my little car down the big, scary road, and you know what?  It really wasn’t that bad, after all.

Also, I am eternally grateful for the little voice in my phone that tells me where to go.  (Thank you Apple!)

I had a lovely breakfast with my sister, we discussed baby shower details – Yes, I am going to be an Auntie! – and then we decided to wander and shop at a surprisingly nearby mall.   (There is a possibility I have missed this from my teen years).  It’s incredible how close things become when you can drive to different locations in mere minutes.

New adorable flats in hand (the Jeffrey Campbell “In Love” flats – a la Miss Meers, my favorite shoe boutique from the college years), I hugged my sis and was off to a friend’s baby shower.  We played games, munched on some delicious food, and guessed if the baby was a pink bow or a blue bow.  They had been keeping their little one’s gender secret for many weeks… and the reveal came just three and a half weeks before baby is expected!  I picked a pink bow to pin to the board, and … I guessed right! Woohoo!  (Yes, I am very proud of guessing correctly – two of three recent births… one still TBD).  I am very excited for this little person to join the lives of my good friend and her husband, and can’t wait to meet her!

After all the congratulating and asking to be notified of when and how it goes, we all left in our vehicles… I was excited to get home and get to my run!

I really wanted to catch the view of Portland before the sun set, and since I was heading out the door after 5pm, I knew I had little time.   Choosing to take the most direct route to my favorite overlook of the city, I went straight up the hill… as fast as I could without making myself sick, that is.  And the view was lovely, of course.

IMG_8892

On my way back down the hill, and toward the waterfront, the sky turned red…

IMG_8926

Once I reached the waterfront, the sun was fading from the sky, and night began to envelop the city.   A blue hue fell over the water and clouds.  I was greeted by a very large flock of birds floating near the water’s edge.

IMG_8925

The night was beautiful.  Dry, quiet, and water so still; a mirror reflecting the city back upon herself.  Dazzling even to those who hadn’t just run eight miles, I’d wager.

IMG_8928

In the next few weeks, I will be increasing again, training for the Newport Marathon.  It’s crazy how quickly these dates catch up to us – this marathon at the end of May will be my “longest run” (or one of my longest runs) in preparation for a 50K in July – The Siskiyou Outback.  Part of me can not believe I have chosen to challenge my mind and body in that race, the other part is thoroughly excited.  🙂

A shorter race is upcoming before these two long races. In March, I’ll be tackling the Shamrock with a bunch of friends, running the 15K.  I have never actually run in this race, despite having registered on two separate previous occasions.  I look forward to finally running amidst all the green attire and silly Leprechaun get-ups.  Thinking about this race, I’m wondering if I should have some kind of strategy for race day.  I’d love to hear from you – how do you plan for race-day?  What is your strategy?

All my best to you out on the trails, roads, puddle jumping, and sliding through snow…
Happy running!
~Alaina

IMG_8932
Find this and other motivational quotes Here (credit Runnersworld.com)

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

sisterhood-of-the-world-bloggers-award-w500

Much to my surprise and delight, I have been nominated for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! by sister runner and blogger BayRunner Jamie.  She is spunky, enthusiastic, and a truly motivated runner.  Thanks so much Jamie!

The blog award rules:

Thank the blogger who nominated you, answer some questions, nominate 10-12 other bloggers and notify them on their blogs.  (I will do this soon!)

Questions:

Favorite color– For many years I have claimed “I like all colors”, and now, with confidence, I can say red and turquoise. (… and maybe magenta)

Favorite animal – cats and dogs, and I am allergic to both

Favorite non-alcoholic drink– Coffee, no question 🙂

Facebook or Twitter– Facebook, although I rarely participate anymore

Favorite pattern– floral patterns (good gracious, I am girly!)

Favorite number– 13

Favorite Flower– Rose

What is your passion– Running, singing, encouraging others to pursue their passion

And now for the nominees!

Move Eat Create

THE USUAL BLISS

The Flexi Foodie

Travel.Garden.Eat

Sisterhood of the Traveling Mats

The Girl in Glasses

Trying to be Conscious

le zoe musings

Go Jules Go

52 Miles per Month

District Sweats

Each of these women has inspired me in one way or another: through humor, with great cooking ideas, DIY’s, motivational running stories, or other pursuits of happiness and health in life.  Check them out!  Forewarning: they are not all running blogs, although I assure you, you will enjoy each and every one of them!

Thanks again, Jamie, for the nomination!

Happy Blogging, everyone! And Happy Holiday.
~Alaina

Superman and Angels; An Episode of the Morning Run

IMG_5783

This summer during marathon training, mid-week was my medium length run; I was headed out the door to get in seven miles before work.  I had been reading Born to Run by Christopher McDougall the night before this run, and read of these runners “kicking up their feet” …  I started thinking about my stride and realized it is primarily a shuffle.  Not much lift in the back, slide forward to the next foot and keep movin’ along.  So, I decided to work on my “kick” just to see what it felt like, and boy… it makes a difference!  I found that I have more spring, when the leg goes back, there’s more momentum for it to swing forward, and I think that overall it increased my pace, or at least increased my turn-over.

I was about half a mile into my seven mile run in the city, and while passing a restaurant, decided to check my form in the window, and … Bam!  I found myself sliding down the sidewalk, six feet from where my right toe hit one of the infamous pieces of sidewalk lifted by a root of a beautiful Portland tree.  I was practicing my Superman, and once again learned that it is true, I do not have hidden wings, and I cannot fly.  Unfortunately, I found myself in a similar situation splayed out on the sidewalk only a few short months ago, and the memory of that injury had not totally faded.  On that occasion, I was laid up with a swollen knee-cap for a week, icing every night, and was not able to return to my regular running schedule for over a month.

I cautiously tested out my limbs, slowly stood up, and recalled that unlike my previous encounter with pavement, there was no loud “crack!” when I landed this time, as I had magically fallen on a downhill slope which somehow let me catch most of my weight with my arms, and slide on my side a little rather than hitting my knee directly. The only noise I heard was the “ssssssshhhhhhh” of my shoes catching on the cement as they slid down the sidewalk.  I took that as a good sign.  I was determined to finish the run I had just begun, so after a couple careful steps, I gingerly tested out a jog, found my legs to be fine (except the quarter-sized raspberry on my left knee), so I continued on toward my daily hill climb.

As I was nearing the turn off to head up the hill, I found myself pacing with a woman who was running in the middle of the street.  I gauged her to be in her fifties or early sixties, and she was keeping an outstanding clip. I decided to let her know I appreciated her pace and hollered “You’ve got a great pace going!”  She looked over, and immediately grinned – “Well thank you!  That’s quite a compliment for someone of my age!”  We got to talking, and it turns out she is from Texas, used to flat terrain, has been running every day for many years, and has recently started working out with a trainer to build muscle to keep her bones strong.  She was peppy, friendly, and just the person I needed to run into that morning after another fall to keep my spirits bright.  And what an inspiration!

We chatted, introduced ourselves, and went our separate ways mid-hill, I was turning around, and she was continuing on up to the top.  Pleasant, happy, and genuinely joyful was this woman from Texas.  Any morning I want to meet the day with some cheer, I know where to run to meet up with this lovely lady.

I may have discovered I was not Superman, but that Wednesday morning, I met an Angel.

The people in the world that bring us joy make life that much more wonderful, and help us appreciate being on this planet.  Shine your joy, and help others find their light.

With joy in running, and in all things…
~Alaina

Struggling with Time (a.k.a. How Do I Post My Blog Entry Before Midnight on Workdays?)

IMG_6554

In the very beginning, I knew committing to NaBloPoMo was going to be a stretch, which was precisely my motivation for joining the movement.  I started with an enthusiasm, joy, and a need to fulfill the promise to post daily.  Now I find myself at my computer, after eleven o’clock each evening trying to summon the words to share with the readers of this blog.

I have found myself in some decidedly unexplored territory.  From a girl who writes about running, I have taken some rather interesting departures from running location, route, and shoe type with views along the way to Personal Reflection, Fear, and Vulnerability.  Slightly different content from the typical “Hey, I’m training to run a marathon” post.  

Changing the topic of discussion here has felt a little awkward; the posts mentioned above do not necessarily fit in with the flow from previous chapters of this narrative.  One tends to wonder about the response of readers when figuratively jumping ship from the huge, steady barge to a small, wooden paddle boat.  I could even got as far to say I feel a little guilty diverting and straying from the steady winds which have kept my sails filled and the ship steady in the past.

The exploration of new topics, and sharing a different perspective has actually been liberating.  Feeling very hesitant at first, I am now more interested in continuing to mix up my messages, whether it be contemplations on life, or the play-by-play of my next run, be certain you will find something of interest to read (hopefully).  

To my fellow bloggers, and frequent post-ers; Do you aim to stick to a common theme for your Blog?  Or do you write whatever comes to mind?

happy blogging!
~Alaina

Living Life, Minding the Present; Be-ing and Vulnerablilty

photo-11

Many of my years as a child, growing into adulthood in my teens, and pressing further into my life as a career-person, aware and contributing to society, have been spent in a constant commentary with Ego.  It has taken a lot of reading (my large collection of self-help novels is yet to be unpacked in my new apartment), listening to motivational speakers, and connecting with others to finally recognize this aspect of myself.  I used to identify my “logical, critical thinking” with reasoning, and I am beginning to see this as the opposite.  This past year, I have been un-training myself to trust “reason” and let go, attempting to learn to listen to my subconscious and intuitive thinking.

Man, is it hard!

For someone who has always analyzed every situation, weighed the pros and cons, and rationally chosen the direction to walk down a path, choosing to feel my reaction and to literally go with my gut has been a challenge.

On the other hand, freeing my mind and following my body’s response has been extremely liberating.  I can still see my mind go into analytical mode, and I am nowhere near as good at this as I would like to be, yet, I am getting better at acknowledging the thoughts, and letting them go.  The physical response to words, actions, ideas, thoughts, anything introduced to your surrounding is always present.  

Since making the choice to live this way, I surprisingly have more time in each day.  Being less in my head has freed my hands to do other things, and my mind can better occupy time with thoughts of the here-and-now, rather than floating off into the oblivion of the unknown future questions and hypotheses.  I feel relieved and happy to have time to write more often!

Have you felt yourself shift?  Do you notice a difference in space and time when you stay present?

One of the side-effects of staying present is not having the time to prepare and protect.  One is forced by nature to remain vulnerable in each setting because nothing else is important.  We are able to truly experience our feelings (feel the gut reactions!) and process them in real-time, not wondering what may come next or how that will affect us.  We are free to Be.  What a wonderful way to live!

Now, I’m no Guru, but I have listened to the advise of a few of these knowledgable people, and hope I have gleaned enough to start making a difference in my life.  When I want to talk with someone, I will call them.  If I am pulled to respond to a text in a longer format to convey that I care, I will.  

Most importantly, I have learned, when someone has significance in your life, to let them know.

This holiday season, I am going to take a cue from a good man, Evan Sanders at The Better Man Project, and write to my loved ones.  Writing is a much more expressive, and eloquent, method for communication for me, and I want to let each and every special person in my life know that I appreciate them.  Because you really never know when your next opportunity will come.  (Thanks, Evan, for the brilliant idea, and reminder).  

Today’s top three:  Be present with those you love, wear your heart on your sleeve, and follow your intuition.  

with love, light, and delight,
~Alaina

Resuming the Ritual: Saturday’s Long Run

20131115-234916.jpg

Tomorrow will be the first time I have been able to join the group of ladies (and sometimes a gentleman) I run with since the big move. I am very much looking forward to returning to my Saturday standard ritual, but also nervous! With all that has transpired in the last few weeks, from moving, traveling for work, learning a new (and longer) commute, catching up after returning to a crazy work-week, and starting to date again, I have been unable to get myself to make time for running.

I am a little ashamed to admit I took two whole weeks off, and while I do not feel so terrible about the lag in my running calendar, part of me is disappointed in my inability to remain committed to training.

How do you deal with excess stress and over committing to keep on pace with your training regimen?

So tomorrow, I’m stepping back on the bandwagon. I know I have lost some of my conditioning, and it will take a little time to re-build what I have lost. But I am confident that with a little perseverance, I can get back to where I was before.

Happy running!
~Alaina

Reflection: (a.k.a. Personal Learnings From the Day-Job’s Annual Review Process)

IMG_7781

That time of year has come once again, the self-review stage at my place of work, and I have been agonizing about filling out my form for two weeks.  Tonight, I finally buckled down to complete my side of the process, and while filling out information for each category I felt blocked, uncertain, and like a certain amount of information needed to be provided (and uncertain I was meeting those expectations), when finally, with a sigh of relief, I reached the bottom.

At the end of this form, there was a space for “Employee Overall Comments”.  The first thought that occurred to me was that it was not necessary for me to fill anything in that box, I had clearly spent the last three hours thinking and writing a sufficient amount about my experiences, work ethic, and examples.  But then I felt compelled to write.  So I started, and thirty minutes after submitting that form, I cannot tell you exactly what I wrote.  But I can tell you this: the words that sprung from my thoughts to my fingers and into the world were strong, confident, and filled with emotion.

Filled with gratitude.  

I am so grateful to be working in an environment where I am able to use my knowledge, express my opinions, and be so appreciated.  I want to say thank you to all my co-workers; I do not have the words to express the great impact you have had on me over the years.  I value every moment working with each and every one of you, and thank you for all you have taught me, and for the encouragement you show me every day.

I knew I liked my job, but until this moment, I did not realize the full scale of how much I really enjoy going to work every dayEven amidst all the chaos, change, and uncertainty.  I know that I will be challenged, respected, and get to do good work.  I am So Grateful!

Have you been surprised by the joys you find in your work?
Is there something you have suddenly and unexpectedly learned about yourself?

with joy and gratitude,
~Alaina