Saturday, October 29, 2011

This white girl has finally found her soul

“The wheel is turning and you can't slow down,
You can't let go and you can't hold on,
You can't go back and you can't stand still,
If the thunder don't get you then the lightning will.

Won't you try just a little bit harder,
Couldn't you try just a little bit more?
Won't you try just a little bit harder,
Couldn't you try just a little bit more?

Round, round robin run round, got to get back to where you belong,
Little bit harder, just a little bit more,
A little bit further than you gone before.”
The Grateful Dead

When my friend Mike died a year ago, I felt lost.   I didn’t know what I was going to do without my coach, amazing friend and confidant.  What I didn’t realize at the time is that I wouldn’t have to live without him, and although I no longer receive excited emails from him after a particularly good race, or hear his jovial voice on the phone; his presence has rung loud and clear over the past year. 

I felt his energy during a particularly good run in Huntsville where I swear that he laughed in my ear and asked me “isn’t this fun?” 
 I shed bitter tears at the Grand Canyon as the red rock left me awestruck and breathless.  
When I was exhausted with frustration at mile 76 of Big Horn, he talked me out of quitting. 
He helped me coax Fred to a stunning finish at Wasatch, and even tried to get me to enjoy the day as my race performance fell short in Palo Duro. 

He has coached me through the pain and despair of grief and continues to encourage me to “let go.”
He’s shown me that life is to be lived in the present, and that we are here to appreciate our humanity. 
He’s taught me to listen to my intuition, to trust and to believe. 

I still miss Mike, but having a friend on the other side of the veil is actually pretty cool.  This white girl has finally found her soul.   

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Defining Moments

"No, you can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
And if you try sometime you find
You get what you need. "
The Rolling Stones

Sometimes I have to be reminded that running is my hobby, not my all-encompassing being.  A humbling race shook me awake this weekend. 

As I started loop 3 (18 miles into the race) the temps were in the 80’s, my IPOD died, and my stomach was going south.  I gagged down a raspberry chocolate GU and headed out of the aid station with heavy legs.  I tried to keep up the 11 min goal pace that I carried through the first two loops, but then I did it- I decided to let go.   I made the correct decision right?  I would slow down and enjoy the rest of the ride.  I would take in the scenery and enjoy the company of those around me.
But I didn't do that.   I beat myself up for the rest of the race, and into the next evening. 

I lay in bed the night after the race playing the day’s scenario over and over in my mind when I remembered what my coach Mike told me after a particularly disappointing Boston Marathon a few years ago.  “You are not defined by your running- you are defined by who you are as a person.”   It’s just like Mike to keep reminding me of what really is important.  J
So, it is with gratitude that I remember the beauty of the red rock, appreciate my 2nd place masters finish, and celebrate the wonderful accomplishments of all of my friends. 

For me, I’m going to take it easy this week.  I’m going to rest, recover and take some time to redefine myself as a person, not just a runner. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Athletes- stop throwing your sh*t on the ground!

In a short span of two hours today I acquired an excellent collection of gel packages, Gatorade bottle caps, cliff bar wrappers, even a broken headlamp!  The litter reeked of us athletic types, and frankly made me a bit sick to my stomach. 

Today I participated in a “trash bash” run held by the North Texas Trail Runners.  Now, the last thing I’m trying to do here is to come off as self righteous.  This is my first time making it out to the annual event, and my participation was long overdue.  This year however, the event tugged at my heart and I felt like “I owed it” to the trail since it has provided me some quality mileage over the past year. 

I know that many people find refuge in this trail.  We are so fortunate that it is available to us in our community filled with skyscrapers, strip malls and parking lots; so it’s a bit hard for me to understand why someone would contaminate this sanctuary. Most trail runners or bikers carry some kind of pack with them, and even hydration packs have an extra pocket for trash.   Why toss your garbage on the ground?

Is it by accident?  Do people not know the affects on our environment (or care)?  Is it  too much to carry it all?   If such is the case, I’ve researched some ways to make “packing it out” easier.

1.        Gel packets- when tearing your gel packet, don’t tear the top completely off.  We found many more tops of gel packages on the ground than bottoms.  If you tear the top half way, the whole package leaves with you. 

2.        It is possible to leave most potential trash at home if you take the time to properly repackage food supplies. Reduce the volume of trash you have to pack out. Save weight by repackaging solid foods into plastic bags and liquids into reusable containers.

3.       Follow the old Nike adage and “just do it!”  Stash wrappers in your pockets or hydration pack.   Many trail races will actually disqualify you if they see you throwing trash on the ground. 

4.       Stop and think.  Every little piece of trash makes a difference.  Here are some common trash items and their decomposition life:
  • Banana Peel: 3-4 weeks
  • Paper Bag: 1 month
  • Cardboard: 2 months
  • Wool Sock : 1 year
  • Tinned Steel Can: 50 years
  • Aluminum Can: 200-500 years (But if recycled, it can be reused within 6 weeks!)
  • Disposable Diapers: 550 years
  • Plastic Bags : 20-1000 years
  • Plastic Jug: 1 million years
  • Glass : 1-2 million years
  • Styrofoam: 1+ million years
Don’t be a “trashole”.   Stash your trash.