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.

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

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.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.

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

Phase 2 – starting a little late

Earlier this month, I was kind of on a roll with the blog and run and blog about it habit, and it seems that I have dropped away from the “face” of the Internet. And that is absolutely true. Looking at my personal email, I had nearly 200 messages to weed through this morning dating back to July 14th, when I am usually quite prompt at reading my emails, checking them 2 or even three times a day. The only time I spent in the digital world since about early-mid July has been while at work, or short moments spent on my iPhone here and there. The past three weeks have been a whirlwind of packing, painting my new home, moving, and now, the last bits of unpacking, picking out draperies, and trying to figure out how I’m going to organize myself in this new, yet familiar, space.

And I am finally starting to feel settled. (sigh of relief!)

So, I admit, maintaining my constant running schedule was definitely thrown off track. And I have been running less than I wanted, but I’m still getting out at least twice a week, and I ran five miles last weekend with no issue! That, I believe, is still progress. My massage therapist told me for the first time that my back is starting to feel better – from her perspective. I was already starting to feel improvement myself, but to have her confirmation puts a little skip in my step.

Sunday I ran around 2pm, after the sun was up and heating the air. It’s been quite a while since I did an afternoon run, and the heat, while a relatively mild 77 degrees, made me feel sluggish and running was a challenge. The fact is that I chose a route that was 2.66 miles in total, fairly modest in length, but the first 1.5 were a long, slow uphill (gaining about 275 feet), making the heat no easier to take. Fortunately, and to my relief, the last mile was a swift kick downhill to home, and very satisfying. Also knowing I averaged 10 minute miles going up that hill gave me grinning rights.

This run was markedly different than in all my previous years of running. I chose to do what my body could do, and ignore my mind for the first time ever. Running up that hill, my brain kept telling me to stop and walk; “the heat!” it said. But I’d listen to my body and know my breathing was even and only slightly labored, I didn’t feel faint, my feet were still moving, heck, I was even smiling! So, I didn’t walk. I picked up my pace because my body could do it. It was a marvelous exploration of my self and my ability.

I’d like to leave you with a quote I received moments ago from Runnersworld.com’s “Daily Kick In the Butt” email, which is quite timely and very appropriate:

“I’m glad to be here right now, poking at my threshold. I need to do this. I need the hurt, the understanding, the work and the metaphor. I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because something isn’t easy. I want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can. Maybe that spot is called I will.”
-Kristin Armstrong, Mile Marker’s blog, Runner’sWorld.com

Will you push back? Let go and say, “I will”?
There is freedom in exploring the things that make us uncomfortable, learning our limitations, and when to push through what our mind tells us is where it needs to stop. I look forward to this continued growth and exploration!