Attitude

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My half marathon training started last week, and it went well, for the most part. It did involve a long run fail, but that was because I forgot that old broads should REST on their rest days, not dust, vacuum, move furniture, and mop. Lesson learned. Running trumps housework. And, I got the long run in a couple days later.

I learned long ago that training is more mental than physical, and attitude is everything. I felt tired and sore over the weekend, but mostly what I felt was thankfulness. Thankful that running is still a part of my life, thankful for the calm and clarity that comes from a soul cleansing run, even thankful for the achy muscles and joints that snap, crackle, and pop when I walk. I’m thankful for those wicked hills on my neighborhood run that my man swears will build my character. I’m thankful that I can wake up each morning, put my feet on the floor, gulp my coffee, and head out for an early prayer meeting on the running path. Little things. Things I hope I never take for granted.

In addition to being a runner, I’m also an avid reader. I love books. And, not just in one specific genre. My reading tastes vary from C.S. Lewis to J.K. Rowling, from Greg Iles to Truman Capote, from Randy Alcorn to Pat Conroy, and everything in between. Lately, I’ve been absorbed in biographies and autobiographies. Without doing too much self reflection, I think my new love of people’s life stories may boil down to the simple fact that I’m nosy. I like to see how the other half lives, whether it’s elite athletes, First Ladies (Eleanor Roosevelt is a recent fave), or people who have changed the world through their art, in business, or technology (currently listening to “Steve Jobs” and reading  “Too Brief a Treat, the Letters of Truman Capote”).

Two books I’ve read in the last couple of weeks bear mentioning. I love reading motivational stories of people who have overcome much to excel, whether in sport, business, or life in general. Sometimes, I read them, mostly on my e-reader, even though nothing compares to the feel and smell of a new book. Other times, I listen to the them while I pound the pavement. I’ve run many miles with the likes of Harry Potter, Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan, and Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy to keep me company.

“The Secret Race, Inside the World of the Tour de France”, by Tyler Hamilton and Daniel Coyle (my review is here); and “Running for My Life,” by Lopez Lomong both absorbed me with their tales recently.  They are two wildly different books, one about professional cycling, the other about professional running; but both motivational in their own way. One is about athletes in a sport that became a “win at all costs” scenario, and the redemption of its heroes (and hopefully the sport itself); the other is the hauntingly beautiful story of a lost boy from Sudan who becomes an American citizen, who ran first for his life, then, later, for joy, just because he could. He realized that his gift was about something much bigger than himself or any sport. One reminds us of how badly things turn out when we allow the winning mentality to overtake our lives, the other is an uplifting reminder that we owe it all to God, and when we honor Him with our gifts, He blesses them exponentially.

I’ll be honest. “The Secret Race” pulled me in with its real life intrigue and gossipy secrets. Again, the nosiness in me rises to the surface. I was touched by the honesty with which Tyler Hamilton exposed his part in the drug scandal, and by the effect that it had on his life. I used to be an avid Tour watcher, and remembered the races as he described them, even recalling some of the more spectacular crashes. PED’s are not exclusive to professional cycling, and I think all athletes, even weekend warriors, could benefit from the lessons learned by Tyler Hamilton, et al.

“Running for My Life” was a horse of a completely different color. I purchased it, quite honestly, because it was a less expensive audiobook than many of the others I was looking at. Nosy and cheap. Not two of my finer qualities, I guess. Anyway, I’m looking for good audiobooks as my long runs start to increase, and this was one of the first ones I chose. And, wow, was it ever a good choice to kick off my training. It had me wanting to go out Saturday in the heat of the day and knock that long run on its knees. I didn’t, of course. Good sense prevailed.

I ended up listening to the entire book on Saturday, even after the long run fail. I simply couldn’t turn it off. It moved me to tears and made me reflect on how much we take for granted in our lives. The freedom to run, not out of fear for our lives, but out of joy and the love of running. The availability of good nutrition and clean drinking water, excellent health care, safe places to run, the ability to buy shoes to run in. It also reminded me of the responsibility that comes with that freedom.

One of the things I loved in Lopez Lomong’s book was when he shared his prayers at difficult stages of his journey.  So, I’m sharing mine as I enter this training phase:
Precious Father, thank You for allowing running to be a part of my life. For whatever length of time it is, and for each step, no matter how slow or painful, I am thankful. Thank You for reminders of your faithfulness in my life, for allowing me to be born in this country – with all its flaws, still the best place to live in the world. I ask your blessing on my body, my legs, and my lungs as I train, and I offer it all back to You, to be used for your glory in whatever way You see fit. May my attitude always be one of joy and gratitude.
Amen

feet-mind

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Lessons I’ve learned on my feet

1008971_594861103867484_1948854523_oAs a runner, I’ve learned as much about how to live life from training and racing as I’ve learned about running.

Some things were no brainers. Like, “don’t put sunscreen on your forehead,” or, “tape the toes whose nails you want to keep whenever you run long,” and “don’t leave your used running clothes in the laundry basket with your other dirty clothes overnight.” Yeah, real “duh” kinds of moments, but I’ve never claimed to be quick on my feet.

Other lessons took longer to sink in, but when they did, I knew they offered insight into how to live my life, not just on how to run for life.  Some carry deep, insightful lessons, others offer simple common sense.

Here are a few things I’ve learned along my journey so far:

Toenails will grow back, but they’re never really the same.

I learned: We will heal after heartache, whether it’s death, illness, broken relationships, or financial woes.  But, it will, and should, change us forever.

Wear sunscreen on any exposed skin below your eyes when you run unless you want to look 70 when you’re 30.

I learned: Take care of the body you have, you’re not getting another one this side of heaven.

Perseverance and discipline trump talent. 

I learned: You may not come in first, but you’ll always finish if you stick it out through the hard times.  And, sometimes finishing is the bigger victory.

A hard run cleanses and heals, ridding your body of toxins and clearing your mind. 

I learned: Hurt, heal, and move forward. Healing almost always means feeling the pain that comes with the hurt before it will begin to get better.

 Winning doesn’t always mean coming in first. 

I learned: Sometimes, the victory is just getting to the starting line, in running, and in life.  If you only feel victorious when you succeed, you’re never going to learn or grow.

Embrace discomfort.  Breakthroughs come in training when you learn to push through the pain and tough it out.

I learned:  We grow the most, learn the most, and mature the most during times of hardship.  We learn to call on our faith, depend on our reserves, and endure the tough times of life.  Most valleys are surrounded by mountains, or, at least, hills.  It’s just a matter of pushing forward to the other side.

You can’t control the conditions on race day.  A normally mild race may have a heat wave, or a snow storm.  Be prepared to alter your race plan accordingly.

I learned:  You can’t control life.  Sometimes, it really throws you a curve ball.  Be flexible and learn to make the best of bad situations.

 Injuries are inevitable, but just because you’re down, it doesn’t mean you’re out. 

I learned:  Life may not turn out exactly as you planned, but staying focused on finding the right path and being open to change will lead you to the best life you can live.

When you’re injured, take time to heal.

I learned:  After any major life event, slow down and take the time to lick your wounds before trying to move into the next phase of your life. We mere mortals want to get back to “normal” as quickly as possible following a life trauma.  Sometimes, we need to just be still, listen for God’s voice, and let Him heal us with the balm of time.

Don’t try to go too far or too fast too soon. 

I learned: In life especially, slow and steady really does win the race.

Know when to push it and when to reign it in.

I learned:  There are moments in life that we have to seize quickly lest they slip away, and there are times when we have to sit back and let them come to us.

And, one last, but VERY important lesson:

Always carry toilet paper.  :/

You know, because stuff happens.   🙂

What are some of the lessons running has taught you?

DC quick pics

Holy moly, air travel ain’t what it needs to be! Wednesday was a loooooooooong day, filled with aggravation, frustration, and exhaustion. We missed our ATL connection, were on standby for a 5:55 flight that left at 6:30ish, didn’t get on that one;  then, were confirmed for an 8:30 flight that actually left about 10:30 pm and changed gates at least twice with no announcement from Delta. Long day, but I did finally get to sleep in my bed the following morning about 1:30.

Up early on Thursday to go to the cell phone store (my man lost his in DC), then realized he also lost his debit card. Yes, I’m thinking of getting super glue for all the things he has to keep up with, but that’s a tale for another day. Finally got a nap Thursday afternoon and began to feel human again. Slept like a dead person last night, and got up feeling great today.

So, here are the pictures I mentioned in the last post, followed by the things I loved about DC, and the things I wasn’t so crazy about.

White House north lawn, night view

White House north lawn, night view

White House north lawn

White House north lawn

Capitol building

Capitol building

Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima

Iwo Jima and Washington monument

Iwo Jima and Washington monument

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon, from the river

Mount Vernon, from the river

Lincoln memorial

Lincoln memorial

Lincoln memorial

Lincoln memorial

Korean War Memorial, my favorite.  I went back multiple times, absolutely loved this.

Korean War Memorial, my favorite. I went back multiple times, absolutely loved this.

Korean Memorial, with reflections on wall

Korean Memorial, with reflections on wall

Thomas Jefferson quote

Thomas Jefferson quote

More from Korea

More from Korea

Iwo Jima, Marine memorialIwo Jima, Marine memorial

Medical Corpsman carving, Navy Memorial

Medical Corpsman carving, Navy Memorial

Navy memorial, for my dad

Navy memorial, for my dad

Navy Memorial

Navy Memorial

North lawn of White House, early morning

North lawn of White House, early morning

Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Castle

South lawn of White House

South lawn of White House

Washington monument, covered in scaffolding due to repairs from earthquake damage

Washington monument, covered in scaffolding due to repairs from earthquake damage

The Potomac river from Arlington bridge, taken on our night bike ride to Arlington cemetery
The Potomac river from Arlington bridge, taken on our night bike ride to Arlington cemetery

There may or may not have been some serious deviation from my diet here.

There may or may not have been some serious deviation from my diet here.

Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin

Jefferson Memorial across the Tidal Basin

A little Mississippi at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

A little Mississippi at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

Braves/Nats game

Braves/Nats game

Things I loved:
1) DC is very walker friendly. We saw most of the sights by walking to them. Renting bikes was fun, too, if a little nerve wracking.

2) It was easy to plan our trip online before we got there, purchasing metro passes, tickets to Mount Vernon and other attractions (we did). It’s a tech friendly city, you’re even able to order food from your seat at the Nationals ball park using your cell phone (we didn’t).

3) The Smithsonians are all free admission!  Loved that!

4) The metro/rail system was pretty easy to figure out and was cleaner than others I’ve used.

5) The Braves swept the series.  🙂

Didn’t love:

1) Wi-fi was a little wonky everywhere.  Almost enough to make me a black helicopter girl.  Well, even more than I already am.

2) Nats fans.  (See #5 above)

3) Crowding on subway leaving the ballgame.  Of course, my man has a “show no fear, take no prisoners” way about him, so I tucked in behind him and moved forward on his slipstream.

4) Scaffolding, scaffolding, scaffolding.  Great images were hard to come by with so much repair work going on.  Of course, I realize this is necessary & that summer is probably the best working time, but it sure put a crimp in my style.
5) Crowds on the National Mall were epic, but I think that’s to be expected. It wasn’t too bad early in the day.

A very nice trip overall, but I’m not sure I’ll go back anytime soon.  Would love to have had a few more days in the National Portrait Gallery & other Smithsonian art museums, but maybe not enough to plan another trip around them.  Bottom line, I think everyone should visit our nation’s capitol at least once.  It’s a beautiful city with a lot to offer.

Exhausted in DC

So, I’m sitting in Reagan National, feet propped up on my carry on, sipping hot tea and looking forward to sleeping in my bed tonight. Nice trip, but I’m beat.

We arrived in DC on Saturday, and set out immediately to see the sights. The White House, National Mall, and dinner at Old Ebbit Grill. It rained on us, but it was a warm, easy rain, so we just enjoyed it. I brought my pro camera (Big Bertha), who weighs about 6-8 lbs all decked out. That may not sound like much, but she gets heavy after a couple of miles. I was game, though, and got some nice shots. Over the last 3 1/2 days, we put roughly 30 miles on our feet, and cycled another 11 or so.

The weather was spectacular, and we rented bikes on Sunday to spare my back a little effort. The bikes were tanks, nothing like my sweet little road bike, but I got used to it fairly quickly & we set off. Traffic was tough, pedestrian tourists were worse, but it sure eased the strain on my back. Walked most of the day, though. Trying to avoid pedestrians became tough as the crowds got more congested.

After dinner Sunday night, we got back on the bikes and headed up to Arlington Cemetery to see the Marine memorial. Excellent. I was hesitant about the night ride after the traffic issues from earlier, but I’m so glad we did it. Perfect weather, perfect ride.

Mt. Vernon on Monday, Braves/Nats game Monday night, Smithsonians on Tuesday, Braves/Nats game Tuesday night, and this girl is wiped out. Tired, but happy.

I was going to upload some of my favorite iPhone pics, but a spotty wi-fi connection has worn my patience thin. I’ll upload a picture post, along with my favorite and not so favorite things in DC when I get home, hopefully later this evening. Our flight to Atlanta has been delayed an hour, so I’m hoping we make our connection to Jackson. Oh, the joys of airline travel.