Saturday, January 26, 2013

How yoga made me cry (but not because it hurt)

I've found a new love in my life, and it's bittersweet.  Yoga.  I have been taking classes and practicing daily for the last 2 weeks.  I'm in love.  Total and complete knock-me-on-my-ass love.  Which is why it's bittersweet.  My newfound love of yoga has left my running shoes pretty still the last two weeks.  I  mean, I've run, but only 3 times.  Three measly times.  Pathetic.  I'm just loving the yoga and stretching SO much more lately.  Maybe because it's new, maybe because it feels so damn good, maybe because it's winter and yoga is inside where it's nice and warm?  I don't know.
Whatever the reason is, I'm yoga-ing more and running less.  I need to figure out how to balance this out better.
I have taught a yoga elective to 8th graders for the last 3 semesters (this is the 4th semester I've offered it).  The class always fills up, and the kids are eager to learn and practice.  I've really enjoyed it for lots of reasons: the kids get to experience a different non-traditional form of exercise, they get to experience a meditative/quieting/non-competitive form of exercise, and they are learning coping mechanisms to help them deal with stress.  All of these things I love very much.   I also love that I get to practice regularly twice a week and get paid for it. Not too shabby. I also love the environment I get to teach the class in.  It's in my library at school.  There is a huge wall of windows looking out into a courtyard and the space is big and inviting.

We have plenty of room to spread out and practice in a calm and peaceful place.  Occasionally a student from another grade comes in to check in or out a book, but they are always quiet and respectful of our class.  This semseter my class is all girls.  We read from a daily devotional before class begins, then we work our way through some sequences which are sometimes led by me, sometimes led by a video.
It's very relaxing and calming for all of us.  We always end with about 5 minutes in savasana (corpse pose) to settle ourselves down.  I think they like that the best.  I'm not sure if that's because they like to drift off to sleep, feel the deep relaxation, or just get in touch with the calm inside.  It doesn't matter to me what they experience during that time (even if it IS sleep), just that they take the time to quiet themselves and relax.  They get so little of it in their daily lives.

Now, back to how yoga made me cry.  This morning I blew off my long run in favor of a 2 hour gym session.  One hour of pilates class followed by one hour of power/hot yoga.  I needed to run long, but I put in a long day at work yesterday setting up for the Book Fair next week (12 hours on my feet is something I'm not accustomed to) and my lower back and feet were complaining so I opted for the yoga instead. 
I'm SO glad I did.  I might have been jelly for a few hours afterward, but it felt SOOO good on this old body.

Back to the crying: Last night I had a lovely dream about my father.  He's been dead for 14 years now and to say I miss him terribly is an understatement.  I'll always wonder what could have been.  What I missed out on.  What kind of friends we could have been as adults.  The usual what-if stuff.
It was a wonderful dream. We met up after a wedding and he was telling me about it.  We sat and talked and then we danced.  We danced just like we did the last time I ever saw him (on my wedding day). It felt so real.  I woke up crying.  A sad cry, but a happy cry at the same time.  A peaceful cry. 
I haven't dreamed about him in a long time, and just recently I was upset because I felt like I was losing his memory and forgetting him; how he looked, how his voice sounded, how soft his rugged hard-working hands were.  Even tho he looked different in my dream (he was young with no wrinkles and wore a thin beard), I knew it was him.  He told me he was OK.  I knew he was OK.  I felt a connection again.
Like I said, it was beautiful and peaceful.
So I headed off to yoga class not even thinking about it.  We did our practice then laid down in savasana.  The lights were off, I was falling into a deep relaxation, I was breathing and then a song started playing.  I don't know if it was the song in my dreams (proably not), but it was a beautiful melody.  The kind of song that makes you want to dance with someone you love.  And I started crying.  Tears began to flow no matter how hard I tried to keep them in.  I unashamedly let them fall.  I composed myself before the lights came back on, but it was difficult to gather myself back together.
I don't know what it was about savasana today (the relaxing, the song), but it made me cry.  Tears are good cleansers and I think I needed a little cleansing.  Like I said, the dream was beautiful and I really felt like my dad was next to me, but it was both beautiful and sad at the same time. 
And that's how yoga made me cry.
Tomorrow yoga might make me cry for a whole other reason.  I got my ass kicked in class today and I'm surely going to feel it tomorrow.
But I will run. I promised myself I'm going for a long run no matter what!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Random Thought Monday

*Have I mentioned how much I absolutely ADORE the Grand Canyon?  No?  You missed that one?  Well, words can't even describe how I feel about it.  If I could marry it, we would have been joined in holy matrimony years ago.  If I could live in it, I would have built a tiny little cabin and gone off the grid forever by now.  If I could eat it, I would have it for every meal for the rest of my life.  If I was an animal, I would fly/crawl/run/hop/slither my way there, hunker down, and never leave.  If I could breathe it in, I would wear a mask apparatus and enjoy having it fill my lungs every waking moment. 
Some may say I'm obsessed with it, but I don't think it's an obsession per se.  It's this connection to the planet, to God, to my primal ancestors that I can feel in my bones. I've never been anywhere else where I feel so whole and complete as I do when I'm in that big damn hole.
So yeah, I love the GC.  I miss it.  We haven't been since June of last year and I'm beginning to ache for it.  Long for it.  Yearn for it.  Dream about it.
I don't know the reasons, but when I'm there my soul is complete.  It's indescribable (and yet here I am trying to describe it).  I walk to the rim, look out over the expanse and immediately my blood pressure drops, my pulse slows down, and all stress and tension immediately leave my body.  When I hike down inside it's vastness, I feel it envelop me.  I feel so full when I'm there; spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically.  When we climb back out of it, I know a piece of my soul remains down in there, and the only way to get it back is to return and borrow it again for a short time.
I need to go back soon.  My soul is aching.

*I'm trying yoga today, in an actual class, for the first time ever.  I've been doing yoga for a few years on my own, in the privacy of my own home (or in the comfort of my classroom with my students), but I want to try a class.  With real people.  Much bendier people than me, probably.  I hope I don't pass gas.  I hope I don't make a fool out of myself.  But if I do either, meh.  No biggie.  It's not like I have to go back, right?
*Why do I pop out of bed at 7 am on the weekend, but when it's the weekday I can't seem to drag myself out of bed at 6:45?  It's not like that extra 15 minutes is a critical component of my sleep needs.  Ugh.. so frustrating.
*Why does it take my body an hour to warm up on a run?  I never start feeling good until I'm AT LEAST an hour in?  Maybe it's because my body knows I'm never going to be fast (why bother trying?) or maybe because it knows that if I go long I will burn more calories (hey lady- you need to work off that hummus you downed at lunch).  I don't know, but there is no such thing as short runs for me.  A 30 minute run is a waste of time.  By the time I get started I'm stopping and I still feel like crap.  I guess it's why I love the long runs on the weekend, and tend to want to skip the short ones during the week.  Maybe if I did more of the shorter runs I wouldn't hate them as much. 
Nah- that's not it.
*If I could bottle cuteness I would.  Sleepy kindergarteners coming to the library crack me up.  They're like little drunk people. 
That's all I have. 
Run on!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sandy Hook Memorial Virtual Half Marathon report- and a brief history of FatAss and Virtual runs

When I found out about this virtual half marathon and 5K, I was pretty excited about doing it.  When you signed up online, you got a link to print your bib, and then you could run your distance all at once or spread it out over a few days.  I was intrigued, so I signed up and then created a FB event and invited all my friends (both runners and not).  The money is all being donated to the United Way Sandy Hook Victims fund.  I felt like this was one way I could help out, being so far away from Newton and not able to offer any help in person.  Plus, I figured they could use all the money and prayers they can get to help them deal with this horrible tragedy.

So I chose today to run the race because it was the day before the month anniversary of the tragedy (and also 1-13-13 sounded pretty cool).  I had about 12 people say they would come, and I was pretty excited about that.  I have put on 3 FatAss events in the past. 

(Small tangent here- in case you don't know, FatAss events are not named for the figures of the people who race them, they are generally trail races governed by three rules: no fees, no awards, no whining. Distances are typically 50 kilometers or 50 miles, but vary according to a race director’s whims.  My whims for the past three events have been 13.1 miles.  We did the Ho Ho Half, the Winter Solstice Half, and the New Year's Run (which I missed because I was sick, dammit).  Most people use them as a training run and it's just really neat to have a bunch of people show up with snacks and run together for a few hours with no rules- just fun.  Here's the story of how they came to be named:
In San Francisco, a runner who couldn’t find a race decided to fake one. Joe Oakes needed a 50-mile qualifying time to apply for the Western States 100. He tried to sign up for a 50-mile relay, but solo runners weren’t permitted. So Mr. Oakes entered seven times under seven different spellings of his name. Team Oakes pulled it off, and from identity fraud a movement was born.“There is so much greed and so much money in sports these days,” Mr. Oakes later explained to Ultrarunning magazine. To rebel against ever-escalating entry fees, he created the “Recover From the Holidays Fat Ass 50-Mile Run.”  
And so a movement was born.  Now, with the internet at our fingertips, there are virtual races.  Hundreds (probably thousands) of them all over the country.  The idea is that any profits will go to a charity.  You sign up and are given a bib, possibly a medal, and maybe even some swag.  You can run the race on any day that is good for you, and you don't even have to do the whole distance in one fell swoop.  Finishing is based on the honor system, and since most runners are pretty honest people, it works out well for everyone.) 

This brings us full circle back to the Sandy Hook Memorial Virtual Half Marathon I did today.  I wanted to be a part of it and somehow give something to the victims. My husband and I, and another runner friend, ran it on a one mile paved loop near our house.  It's a pretty loop- with lots of trees and a few small inclines (maybe you'd call them hills, maybe not so much).  It's a wonderful place to run because you don't have to carry water or nutrition since you pass your "aid station" every mile. 
We started out at 9 am, and it was brutally cold.  Temps were 21F and the wind was howling, making the wind chill somewhere in the 5-8F range.  Brrrr... The loop runs north/south, so the north portion was tough, but you got to thaw out a little heading south- so it all evened out in the end.
For some reason, I can't upload images from the computer at this time, so here is the link to the album on my FB page. 
Sandy Hook Virtual Half Marathon
We ran and ran.  Each half mile I would look down at my bib and say the next name on the bib in my head to the beat of my footstrikes and my breathing.  Each victim got to run a half mile with me.  I imagined each of them running along side me during their half mile.  I did the children first, then the 6 hero teachers, then the shooter's mom.  I still think she's a victim of this horrible tragedy- no matter how she was as a parent.  It was peaceful and beautiful.  I didn't listen to music (a first for me).  I just listened to my breathing and to my footstrikes and to each name rhythmically chanting in my head.  For each child, I imagined they were running alongside of me.  Happy, healthy, free of worry and sadness, and home with their Father.  It was the most beautiful half marathon I've ever run.

Hope your Sunday was as lovely as mine. 
Run on, my friends!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

13 in 13

Today I signed up for a challenge to do 13 races in 2013.  I love the prospect of a new adventure, and being accountable with a group always makes thing a little more enjoyable.  There will be prize giveaways throughout the year, and there's even a FB page for group motivation and encouragement.
Registration for the "event" closes tomorrow, so if you're interested in joining, head over to 13 in 13 and sign up.  You have the option of choosing from a few options: 5K, 10K, 13.1, 26.2 or Variety (in which you can do a variety of distances over the course of the year).  Since I have everything from halfs to a 100K planned, I signed up for the variety option. 
So far I don't have 13 races on the calendar, but it shouldn't be a problem to get in that many.  With the option of doing any distance, it will be easy to throw in a shorter race.  Plus, the organizers are doing 6 virtual runs throughout the year to help everyone achieve their goals.
Join me if you'd like.  It should be lots of fun!! :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Visions for 2013

As the new year approaches, I always break out the calendar and start planning my race schedule for the upcoming year.  Some years I have a lot of little things planned, some years it's a few big things.  Last year at this time I was just hoping and praying that the stress fracture I was suffering would heal enough for me to be able to do ANY running in 2012.  It turned out to be a fantastic year afoot for me. 

My 2012 running highlights weren't many, but I'm proud of them:
  • April- OKC Memorial Marathon 1/2 (decided to run this only two weeks prior. I did it on incredibly little training- and I paid for it).
  • June- RT. 66 Olympic tri- did the run leg as part of a relay.  10K in 100 degrees.  It was lovely.
  • June- Grand Canyon.  Was supposed to be a Rim-to-Rim hike, but a pipe burst and washed out the trail and we had to change our plans. Instead did a S. Kaibab/Tonto/Bright Angel 14 mile loop.  I'm quite convinced my soul lies somewhere deep in the Canyon
  • June- Midnight Madness.  Was planning on a 50K, but had knee trouble so stopped at mile 27 (I know, I know...)
  • August- 2.5 mile open water swim challenge.  My first open water swim race.  I came in almost DFL.  Almost, but not quite.
  • September- Do Wacka Do 25K.  My first real trail race.  LOVED it.  Again, almost DFL, but not quite (I totally smoked that old dude at the end).
  • September- Rough Creek Trail 1/2.  The hardest thing I've ever done (that Rusty Crown almost did me in), but one of the most fun races ever!
  • October- Palo Duro 30K.  Again, was supposed to be a 50K, but stepped off the trail for a faster runner and fell hard, seriously bruising my hip.  Temps were above 100 when I stopped.  I was unprepared for the heat...and for running 20 miles on a bruised hip.
  • October- 24 The Hard Way.  My first 50 mile race!!! Woo hoo!!!  It was everything I dreamed of.  Including the painful feet and the smile that I couldn't wipe off my face for a week.
  • November- Ft. Worth Marathon.  2 weeks after the 50 miler I did the Ft. Worth to become a Marathon Maniac.  MM#6109.                                                                           
  • December: Turkey Mtn. 1/2.  Seriously fun and difficult trail race.  Loved it!!

I also put on 2 free half marathons for friends locally.  They were fun, non-competitive, and a total blast.  At the Ho Ho Half  in November we said goodbye to Hostess snack cakes, and at the Winter Solstice in December runners brought 300 canned goods to help our local food pantry.  I'm planning more free events in 2013.  The first will be on the 13th as a remembrance run for the victims of Sandy Hook (proceeds going to the United Way).

After planning and plotting, it looks like 2013 is shaping up to be a good year.  This will be the first year I haven't been to the Grand Canyon in 5 years and I'm not sure how I feel about that.  Well, I'm really sad about it to be honest, BUT I promised my hubs we would spend a vacation elsewhere and go see something new instead.  You better bet that in 2014 you're going to find my little legs wandering around the Canyon again, tho.

So far this is what I have planned for 2013:
  • January- Sandy Hook Virtual 13.1 in rememberance
                   Tulsa river trails race- not sure if I'm going to do the 25K or the 50K
  • March- Post Oak Challenge.  50K trail Saturday and marathon on Sunday
  • April- OKC Memorial Marathon.  Thinking of doing the full.
  • June- RT. 66 Olympic tri
  • June- Yellowstone hiking and running galore
              Angel Fire Endurance Run 50K
  • October- 24 The Hard Way.  Not sure what I'll do this year.  I'd like to best my distance in the 24 hour race.  Possibly 100K.
I know other things will pop up along the way here and there.  I don't bother doing races that are under a half marathon, because I just can't justify the expense of running for only 3.1 or 10.2 miles. I'm not a distance snob, I just don't have as much money to race as I'd like.  I'm excited about the upcoming year and look forward to challenging myself to go farther than I've gone in the past.  Can't wait to see what's in store.