Do Something Everyday That Scares You

I was terrified. Every time I thought about doing it, I started crying. When I thought of others, giving it their all, I cried more.

There was NO WAY I would participate.

Then my sister said she was going, and taking her daughters, and immediately, my hackles went up and I thought “I must go to protect them.” Fear had me in its grip, and I was reacting to the situation.

The day before the event, my darling sister also started to feel the fear, deciding it wasn’t the best idea to go with the girls, and she and I planned instead to go for a run in the morning while her daughters played at Grandma’s house for an hour or so.

This morning, I woke up from terrible nightmares, and knew – I had to go march.

This may be the biggest event I will ever see happen in my lifetime. I needed to be present, and support my fellow feline feminine goddesses

Further influenced by some very important women in my life (all starting with dear sister’s desire to STAND UP for our rights), we went together – my nieces safely at Grandma’s and found our way, in the pouring rain, to the Women’s March in Portland.

I have never been political here, and to be clear – this is truly not about politics, this is about Human Rights. This is about life as we know it to be – NOW – In America as women, men, queer, of all religions and all nationalities and races, and keeping the momentum moving forward. 

The March was full of love, peaceful protests, comedic signs, uplifting words, and really,
SO MUCH LOVE

As we shuffle-stepped our way, holding hands, into the crowded street to begin our slow procession through the city, I found myself giggling at many of the signs that touched my heart, and my eyes were constantly welling up with tears.

This is what matters. Supporting one another.

This past Tuesday, I found myself at the Library, to check out a book for the first time in my new city, and drifted over to browsing the movie titles after picking up my book in “holds” section. Suddenly, Suffragette was staring at me from the shelf marked “S”. My first thought was “that’s an appropriate movie to watch, now,” as I have started fearing my rights may be taken away from me under this new administration.

Today and tonight have been eye-opening.

I know that the movie is not exactly historically accurate, but I learned how naive I have been about the struggles women have suffered. And how much effort, sacrifice, and strength it has taken to get to this point, our present.

I have so much respect for the women who have come before me.

To all my elders: please accept my belated gratitude for all that you have done for me, and every woman, so we can live our lives more freely, working toward the equality that should be the born right of every person.

And so help me, I will do my damnedest to help keep those rights for each and every woman in this country.

I am not a confrontational person by nature (this introvert does not like conflict), but I can tell you that today, a part of me was awakened that I often try to hide, even from myself. I have only once in my life – before today’s march – been involved in any activism (2000 Election get-out-the-vote campaign – anyone else jump on that wagon?), and I generally have side-stepped political conversations (or confrontations) in the past.

But now is the time to take action.

I am no longer a sidelines person. I have decided this evening to find a local organization to join and get involved in for (at least) the next four years (open to suggestions from those of you who are more plugged in than I). The Women’s March is a good start, but we have a lot of work to do, and many more days of truth-speaking to do, and I intend to lend my voice to this cause.

Because women [and everyone] are worth it.

I know this post may be controversial, and I hope that, no matter your party affiliation, you can see the truth in the purpose of today’s Global Women’s Marches:
The people’s peace movement for the rights of all.

I pray that we can all continue to lift each other up, find levity in each day to stay positive, and stand up when we are called to do what is right.

with – so much – love for all, Goodnight.
~Alaina

Early Mornings – Catching the Sunrise

The past month, finally (nearly) finished with the painting that needs to happen in my home (yes, there will be a before and after post), I have been able to muster the energy to get out and run before work. (Less late nights with a paintbrush in hand). My-oh-my the glory of moving.

And not a moment too soon!

There is only about a week and a half of running days left until the Peterson Ridge Rumble, and three of my friends and I will be tackling the 20 mile distance.  After running 19 miles on Sunday, I have no doubt we will all finish.  It is likely to be a gorgeous race day.

I have been putting so much effort into my home (yes – an apartment) that I have been neglecting not only my daily moving meditation (running), but also my written outlet – as well as providing fabulous city pictures to all of you (I am not trying to bribe you into moving to Portland, but seriously.  It’s pretty great here).

Here are a few from my most recent running adventures:

Stillness in the early hours of dawn on the Waterfront.
Glassy river reflections of clouded skies…
The view from a run up Terwilleger some weeks ago…
The only clear shot I got on my birthday morning, 10 mile run. Mt Hood in the distance!
The white-out fog, enveloping the city on my way home from the 10 mile run.
Beautiful sun rays peeking through the trees on this Sunday’s 19 mile training run. (This is about two miles before I did a Superman due to some unknown tree root or rock).

I am looking forward to adding a couple of races between now and Fall.  I think I will sign up for the Portland Marathon this year for the first time, so October is filled.

Any suggestions for Spring and Summer NW area races that you have loved within a few hour’s drive of the Portland Metro area?

Many thanks for your input!

Happy Running, friends!
~Alaina

Attachment

Portland 1/18/15Tonight is my last night in this beautiful building, and as I look out the window and my glorious city view through the pouring rain… I realize, I have no attachment to this place as my home.  I never did develop a sense of solidity here.  

Its funny.  The more I learn through the teachings of yoga, we are taught to move toward non-attachment in many aspects of our lives, and I find myself being more able to separate from having a hope or desire for outcomes to be a certain way, yet … I almost feel that it is a very odd thing to not be somehow … perhaps, emotionally? … connected to the place where you rest your head at night.  To where you sleep, eat, keep prized possessions, and find sanctuary from the world outside.

Something in me never … bonded with this home.  This apartment truly is beautiful.  And it has this lovely, fantastically cozy bench in the kitchen with a radiator under it, so it is (almost) always warm.  And the view.  (Have I mentioned the view?)  I mean, really.  This is kind of unreal:

IMG_2564 IMG_9571IMG_9914IMG_9977IMG_9973

And so cozy.

I will miss the vintage golden-yellow of the building that while standing in my kitchen made it almost possible for me to imagine I was standing in Italy…  Almost.  (I think it’s time stop almost imagining, and take a real trip to Italy).

I am excited about my new home.  I somehow feel grounded in that space.  I wanted it two years ago when I first discovered this building, and now I have achieved my home in this wonderful place, where I hope to find some peace and contentment.

with joy and happiness in being where we are…
~Alaina

First Run on the Second in 2015

After a long break from running and exercise – any serious movement – after being sick for a whole week, I was thrilled to have a cool, clear, crisp morning to get outside and Run!  With this new year, I am starting at square one, so I went out for a two-mile run.  Short and sweet, and absolutely stunning!

Frozen Pond
Tracks
Frozen!
Broadway Bridge
Boat
Fremont Bridge

It was such a beautiful morning.  I couldn’t have asked this fair city for better sunshine, temperature, or reflections.

I am so happy to be running again!

Tomorrow commences Saturday runs with my running buddies.  It has been far too long since I spent the mornings chatting and laughing and pounding out the miles with those lovely ladies.  I look forward to another beautiful run, and a few more miles, tomorrow.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, enjoying your exercise of choice!

Happy Running!
~Alaina

Fabulous Stormy Weather – and My New Favorite Capris

Sunday, the forecast called for 91 degrees and sunny.  Arguably, this was a great day to get out early and run it out to beat the heat.

But I wasn’t really feeling all that ready to pull on my spandex and running shoes when I woke up before seven am.  I loligagged, checking email. perusing Instagram, making coffee, eating a light breakfast, and finally, after nine o’clock, feeling ready enough to walk out and get some miles under my belt, a deep, rumbling growl came from the sky, ending with a loud Clap!  Thunder!

When I looked outside upon the threatening storm, I only had one thought:

“Is it a bad idea to go run in the forest when there is a storm coming? … Or a really good idea?”

Fortunately for me, after a few sprinkles, and some laughter-provoking bellows from the sky, the sun broke through, providing great glimpses of gold along the wooded trail in the forest.

Half-way through my run, I met the top of the hill at the Pittock Mansion, a wonderful historic home that was celebrating their 100th year with cake at 2pm!  I was about three and a half hours early, so instead of eating cake, I took in the view of the city.

Due to the heat we have been having, the sky was pretty hazy, and the cloudiness only contributed to the murkiness of the air.  Despite those factors, it was still gorgeous!

I made it back home in record time – apparently the repetition helps with trail navigation when it comes to anticipating rock and tree obstacles – and not a moment too soon!  The clouds once again took up their song, singing in that lovely, rumbling bass…  And soon erupting with rain and large chunks of hail.  Timed that run perfectly.  By accident.

On this particular run I wore my trusty trail shoes the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger  (I am loving them, and it’s not just me!  They got a great review from Runner’s World, as well!)  I love how comfortable they are: supportive and flexible while being a low-top.  Not to mention the great color (Dark Chino/Light lucid Green-Black-Turbo Green combo makes me happy to strap in).

I also wore a new pair of Nike Capris: The Nike Legendary Tight in the fantastic Turbo Green/Obsidian/Black color (which nicely matches the shoes).  These tights have a super high waist and fit phenomenally.  They are incredibly comfortable. I honestly felt less jiggle, there was no muffin top over the waistband (there is no elastic band at the waist – just great fabric), and, at the risk of sounding completely silly, it almost felt like I wasn’t wearing any pants.  

They’re that comfortable.  I suggest you give them a try.

For any of you wondering, these are my own words, I am not sponsored by Nike nor was I given free product.  I bought these items, and truly love them.

Do you have a favorite shoe (past or present) that you cannot live without?

Here’s to happy running, staying cool, and avoiding getting hit by lightning!
~Alaina

Hitting the Trail – A New Perspective on Running

Sunday, day two of weekend workout 50k training, I decided to use my “short” run wisely and head into the hills.  It was a double-whammy of hill workouts, this weekend; time to change it up, strap on my new trail shoes, and head out the door for some real, butt-kicking, rock and tree-toe obstacle-full muddy trails of fun.  In my brand-new shoes.

Nike Zoom Terra Kiger – my first pair of “real” trail shoes.

The soles of Nike Zoom Terra Kiger have an amazing sticky rubber.  When I tried them on in the store, I sounded like I had just come in from the rain with rubber sneakers on – Super squeaky!  On my mile and a half trek over pavement to the trail, running in these was mildly difficult.  On the one hand, they offer tremendous light support, and on the other – it is SO much more support than I am used to, as I generally wear the Nike Free Flyknit (which may almost feel like being barefoot in comparison).  The girl working in the shoe department was aghast that I ran marathons in the Free – apparently it is not designed for that kind of work.  I like taking the ordinary and making it  extraordinary.  I love my Free’s.

As much as wearing the Terra Kiger on the pavement was giving my calves and hamstrings a stupendous workout, as soon as I hit dirt in these bad boys, it all made sense.  They have enough support to keep your foot solid on the ground, and they feel incredibly stable, yet the sole is light and flexible enough that you can still feel the rocks and dips and bumps in the trail.  My first run in these shoes was eight miles long, five and a half on trails, and I came out of this test run completely unscathed: No blisters, raw spots, or extraordinary soreness.

Yes, I do believe the Nike Zoom Terra Kiger will work for my 50k (Siskiyou Outback, here I come!)

Although the day started out overcast and with a slight chill (which I was grateful for near the end of this run), the forest was gently bathed in a wash of soft, cool light.

The view from the top of the hill at the Pittock Mansion gave me a pleasant reprieve – a place to catch my breath, take in the city, and stop to smell the roses.

The descent down the hill was, of course, much quicker than my climb up to the top.  (This is the stuff negative splits are made of, right?)  51 minutes up, and 43 minutes down.  I was cautious, and took more care to watch for obstacles on the downhill leg of my journey, especially after the warning from my 50k running-mate that morning, complete with a picture of her bleeding knee, offering sage advice: “do try to pick up your feet.”

Overall, it was a great insight to a different type of running.  Trail running is so much more active.  I tend to get in a zone on my daily run, pleasant smile on my face, looking around, observing my fellow runners, saying good morning, and generally feeling at peace, quietly plodding along with joy.

On the trials, the “zone” is a totally different place. It requires focus, constant attention to detail in your surroundings, and persistence.  Less than halfway up my climb, I was out of breath, quads and rear burning with the effort, pulse beating, and my heart beating at my breast as though it was going to jump from my chest in a fit of agony and lay panting on the ground.  I effectively learned on Sunday that I might be a little out of shape for a race that takes place on trails.

But you can bet that I’m not going to let that little fact deter me.  

To all my fellow runners anticipating your next race: Here’s to hill training and working through the pain, because on the other side of that discomfort lies a greater level of fitness.  And satisfaction!

How do you train for a trail race?
How many of your work outs per week do you devote to hills and trails?

with joy in running (and breaking through past limitations),
~Alaina

The Long Up-Hill a.k.a. Running from SE Portland to the Zoo

Saturday my friends chose a challenging run full of hills.  Or one really long hill.  Starting from the flat lands of the close-in East side of Hawthorne across the bridge, through downtown, up Washington Park, and finishing (the first half of the run) at the top of the Portland Zoo parking lot.  The morning was surprisingly cloudy and cool.  I had been watching the weather forecast all week, anticipating the weekend’s delightful sunshine, but the little yellow ball of glowing happiness kept moving to the right, just one more day… every day.  As a native Oregonian, I suppose I should not be surprised by the peek-a-boo sunshine, especially since we have not yet reached the glorious Fourth of July after which Summer officially begins in Portland.  (We’re almost there!!!  Can you feel it??)

The path of great gains in elevation lead us past the well-known International Rose Test Garden, wherein visitors can gain a pretty perspective of downtown cityscapes while filling their noses with Eau de Rose Varieties.  (These roses smell so good!)

View from the International Rose Test Garden

We learned that bunny rabbits have a strong affinity for the rose petals, as well, but they find them much more edible than most of us humans.

The cool, long down-hill
The prettiest grate that you ever-did-see.
A brief appearance of Sun Beams at the end of our run.
Set-up beginning for the Blues Festival weekend, with blue tents popping up on the waterfront.

Crossing the Hawthorne Bridge back into the SE Industrial area.

I am so grateful that we went out and trekked our way up this never-ending hill.  It inspired me to endeavor to conquer more aggressive hills, on trials, with rocks and tree-roots, and mud (more on this soon).  I have resolved to make at least one of my weekday run adventures on dirt, with many hills.  With the Siskiyou Outback quickly approaching, I need to get a little more serious about proper true hilly trail running.

Does anyone want to run around Timberline with me?  🙂

The last few months have been a little frustrating.  I have found myself both loathing running and relishing the time spent solo, pounding the pavement.  My body has definitely adapted to the increased mileage on the weekends, yet I still find myself lacking the energy to get up and go on weekdays.  My new secret weapon for the long run is major carbs Friday night.  I tend to have a fairly simple diet of protein, fruits, and veggies, and over the last few weeks have found in order to keep up energy and stamina, I apparently need to add a few more calories than my normal diet provides.  (Who am I kidding?  When you burn an extra 3000-5000 calories per week, of course you need to eat more!)  

I guess there is an adjustment period to learning exactly how to eat MORE food.  (As I write this at 10:30pm, my stomach is growling…  Time to have a late night snack!)  Before the Newport Marathon I was baking bread for snacking on, and I think it may be time to do so again.  This coming weekend is conveniently another 36 mile weekend, and our famous fireworks holiday.  I plan to go to bed very shortly after all the loud popping noises cease.  🙂

To my friends: I hope you are adjusting to summer training, feeding your body well, and finding joy in the everyday…!

Happy Running!
~Alaina

Taking the Top Deck on Saturday’s Run

Saturday morning was one of those, when you just don’t want to drag yourself out of bed and hit the road… A morning when the desire to pull the covers over your head and turn off the alarm and just sleep until you wake up naturally from thirst or hunger is all you want…

But despite your reluctance, you get up, get out, and run.

And it was a beautiful morning, full of dynamic clouds, catching up with friends, and taking a trip across the top deck of the Steel Bridge on foot for the first time in my Portland life.  Turns out, the view from up there is pretty nice.I am so grateful to live in such an inspiringly beautiful city.   She makes early morning long runs… easy.  🙂

Happy weekend long-running!
~Alaina

The Effects of Running Long: Reflections on Life

When I decided to run 20 miles, I knew I would be out and in the world for a few hours, running circles around the city.  Last Sunday when I set foot into the sunshine of mid-afternoon, I encountered masses of Portlanders navigating the waterfront path getting their weekend physical activity: Running, Walking, Biking, and I even spotted a family on roller-blades!  As a side note, I choose to run without musicMusic is super distracting, and because half of the time I happen to be on city streets where there very likely will be traffic, I decided it was the safer bet to keep earbuds away from my ears, and I can keep myself from becoming roadkill.

Consequently, ears open to listen for squealing breaks, a honking car, the click or ring of a bell on a bicycle, I end up accidently-on-purpose eavesdropping on many bits of different conversations.  If the conversation is relevant, and heading in my direction, I may jump in and chat a bit with my stranger runner-buddies.  Sometimes, as I found out yesterday morning, I may be in more of a chatty mood than the runner next to me, and she may say, “well, I think I’ll turn here” turning right as I continue straight… and after she already declared her destination, and I knew we were headed in the same direction…  Well, she apparently was not interested in a new buddy, and prefered to get back to her solitary run.  Which I totally understand.  (Note to my runner friends – Please just ask for some peace if my chattiness is just too much for 6am.  I will still enjoy my time running with you).  🙂

Last Sunday, as I was rounding the East waterfront on the long stretch which normally is quite desolate, I was surrounded by people.  And as two bikers came up from behind me at a steady, yet not too fast, pace, I was able to hear the gentleman telling his friend: “I wonder if someday I’ll have kids, and, like, be boring.”

When I heard this particular gentleman in all spandex-y bike gear riding at a mild (yet quick) pace with a lady in similar garb, I laughed.  Chances are, this man will never be boring, and my guess is, having children would only increase the level of his interestingness.  True, he may have a little less time for his favorite activities, but from what I have learned from friends having children is that they are so incredibly taken by their kids – so incredibly fulfilled having these little people in their lives that I can only adore and admire them for the journey they have chosen.

After my initial giggle at my eavesdropped glimpse of a conversation, I started thinking…

What if I never have kids and I’m … unable to ever connect on that level with my friends or my sister who have embraced motherhood?  

Truthfully, I have never felt the gnawing pull of “the biological clock” to have children as many of my girlfriends have experienced.  And at 32, I am beginning to wonder if I have a clock that will tick and someday make me crazy for kiddos, or if I will just glide through life happy as a clam, happy as I am.  The cool aunt-to-be.

It’s a funny thing – discussing Motherhood and having babies with family and friends, they’re always quick to reassure you that you will one day have your own kids with the classic line: “not to worry, you’ll meet someone someday, and have kids of your own.”

Well… what if I don’t?   (anyone else hear the crickets?)

Would that make me boring?  These days many couples are choosing not to have children or even adopt, these days.  Living life free, and free from worry of procreation in order to carry on the family name.  They can travel, work crazy hours, have many hobbies, move to a different state or country, and not feel tied down or have to uproot a child from their life at school.  All of these variables can make a person start thinking crazy.  I mean, really, I’m not even sure I want a baby.  Ever.  Is that bad?

If I let myself ponder the idea… I am captivated by one thing specifically: there is that bond. That special recognition that you see between a baby and her Mother.  They just have that … something.  The twinkle in the eye as that slow, wide mouth grin spreads over that little one’s face and he reaches toward Mama’s face… It’s enviable.  To have someone in your life to love and be loved by so unconditionally…  And to be able to show that little person the world, nurture them, and teach them that their dreams really can come true… Wide eyes full of possibility.  Simply awe-inspiring.

At this point, who knows what my future brings.  I know there is something about having this relationship with a tiny person, and I am very happy to get to explore it (a little) vicariously through my friends with babes, and in my new adventure as an auntie.  Today, I am content as I am: Single, childless, pondering life’s possibilities, and free to stay up until midnight writing a blog post and get up early with the sun to go for a run.  🙂

Happy running!
~Alaina

Trains, Bridges, and Bicycles, Oh My!

This morning as I headed out for my morning run (one whole hour later than I usually step outside), I felt good.  My legs certainly needed some shaking out, the sun was bright in the sky, temperature low at about 50 degrees, and I just had that positive feeling in my bones that makes you feel light and joyous.

Everything was perfect.  Until I got to the tracks, and there was a train.  And the train was not moving. I have had a few encounters with this train in the last few months, and one would assume that I remember it will be there right around seven o’clock every morning!  But I have yet to remember this mildly important fact, and frequently find myself on an adventure to “get around” the train and down to the waterfront.  Today, I decided I would go over the Broadway Bridge Ramp at Lovejoy, and back down onto Broadway for a little variety.  The lights were not in my favor, so I ended up crossing the bridge.

And apparently, I was on the wrong side, as herds of bikes passed me… I was going upstream.  Possibly an annoyance for the many people on wheels pedaling their way to work, but I was overjoyed – I had the best view:

I ended my run back in the neighborhood – cutting it short at 4 miles instead of 5 (tiny pangs of guilt for not doing my planned number of miles, and truthfully –  overall, I’m happy I got outside!).  I walked the last couple blocks to my favorite coffee shop.

This morning was so gorgeous; I feel like it has been weeks since I was able to capture a few great photos, and today… I feel like I got my Mojo back.  🙂

How do you deal with road blocks? Do you wait for them to clear, or stride out on a new path?

Here’s hoping tomorrow’s potentially adventurous route brings another batch of beauty to behold.

with joy,
~Alaina