Sunday, June 22, 2014

You have to taper- so taper like you mean it!

“Rest and be thankful.”
William Wordsworth

I hear it all the time:
"I just can't taper, it makes me crazy."  
"I don't know what to do with myself if I can't run (ride, swim, workout)"
"Tapering is for sissies.  Who needs to taper?"  

I love the taper.  Damn- it reminds me that I actually have a life!
I sleep past 4 a.m. for shorter runs and replace that 2nd daily workout with a nap.
I cook rich foods and eat until I am full and satisfied.
I call and catch up with friends, or set out to the porch to finish those half-read books.
I watch bad "Teen Disney" movies and snuggle with my kids. 
I give the extra 30 minutes my massage therapist has been begging me for,
and allow my body to receive much needed repair time.
I write, and plan, and paint mental pictures for each mile.  

And when all of  that extra energy builds to a paramount climax -
the horse gets let out of the barn for an epic race day.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Get out and play! The Joy and Meaning List

"I thought that I heard you laughing
I thought that I heard you sing
I think I thought I saw you try"


I can't get enough of Brene Brown lately.  I think we must be soul sisters  because her books speak to me as if she were sitting across the table, chatting it up and drinking Merlot.

Recently, while reading her book The Gifts of Imperfection I was struck by this quote: 
"If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating sleep and play, about letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity of self worth."  

What does "cultivating sleep and play" look like?
Do you even know?
Renee suggests we make a "joy and meaning" list to answer this question.  When things are going really well in your life, what does that look like? 

My personal "joy and meaning" list looks like this:

More Free Time.
Time to savor my morning coffee, linger at the Farmer's Market, run that extra mile or take an afternoon nap

More Connection
Pancake Breakfasts with my kids.  Happy hour with co-workers.  Meditating alone or group workouts.

More Travel
Mountain climbing, waterfalls, barefoot walks on the beach and winery tours.
Snow, sunsets, visiting old cemeteries and river rafting.

More time outside
Sunshine on your shoulders.   Maniacal downhills on your bike.  Swimming in lakes where you can't see shit. Exploring that cave.

More smiling
Silliness.  Laughing.  Kissing. Singing.

What does your list look like?  Are you willing to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol?
Live wholeheartedly.  Get out and play.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

Bring it on darlin'!

"Life is a headlong rush into the unknown.  
We can hunker down and hope that nothing hits us 
or we can lean into the wind and say 'Bring it on darlin', 
and don't be stingy with the jalapenos.'" 
Red Spicer

Here I go again clinging to the edge of the unknown.  This time I am hooked to another human who I completely trust will pull the chute that will keep me from plummeting to my death from 13,500 ft in the air.
But lets start from the beginning. :)

I signed the waiver.

Being single and 43 I had no expectations for anyone to throw me a birthday party, so I decided to create my own epic adventure.  Committed to my "get out and play" summer,  I put it out on Facebook that  I was going to go skydiving for my birthday- on Friday, June 13th.   My ex-husband John thought I was nuts, being that 15 years ago I was the girl who wouldn't even go close to the railing when we visited the Empire State Building.
But as you know, a lot has changed since then.

Blessed to have adventurous  running friends who wanted in on the excitement,  we soon found ourselves in a box of a room watching a video on how to do your first tandem jump.  Nervous energy permeated the air, and we giggled like teenagers as the sexual innuendos flew on how we should arch and bend while strapped to another human being.

Next we met Alan, our strong and handsome (aka: dreamy) jump instructor who explained our three jobs.
1.  As you sit on the edge of the plane before the jump, put your head back on your jump partners shoulder, cross your arms and curl legs back on the plane.
2.  When we jump, arch your back.  Arms come out like wings at 90 degree angles and legs are bent at the knees. 
3.  During landing- GET YOUR FEET UP.  We will be landing on our butt.
Simple enough right?
We practiced these steps showing that we could indeed do the motions, gritting our teeth because as runners we all have the flexibility of a pole, but are too stubborn to admit it.  We all passed the test and got into groups of 3.  As birthday girl, I insisted I got to go first.  :)

Gordon, Abraham and I (in that order) along with our tandem jumpers packed ourselves like sardines in the small plane.  I gave my best fake smile to the camera and we were off, down the bumpy grass runway and into the sky.  I sat between Alan's legs; my nervous hands resting on his shins, my concentration on my breath as we climbed to 12,000 feet and they opened the latch door for "air."
Seeing the landscape below was both terrifying and awe-inspiring.  I snuggled in with serenity, focusing completely on this humbling moment and we climbed to 13,500 ft.
After making sure I was securely attached and a round of "Happy Birthday,"  it was our time to go.

We scooted to the edge of the open door.  I put my head back on Alan's shoulder and crossed my arms.  1... 2... 3....
We jumped. 

The first 10 seconds were fucking terrifying, mostly I think because my brain could not comprehend what falling 120 mph was supposed to feel like.  I forgot to do job #2, lifting my arms to 90 degree angle, but Alan pulled them up for me and I regained my senses.
What a CRAZY  rush!  Its like the runners high on speed (as I imagine).  The adrenaline surged through every part of my being as we fell to the earth at 120 mph.
 A feeling hard to put into words.
I tried to lift my head and smile at the camera, but all I really wanted to do was take in the world below me with complete mental focus.
Alan pulled the chute and there was a sudden quiet and calm.
A silent stillness I have never experienced before.  With complete peace and ultimate clarity I was humbled at the smallness of my existence.  "Holy shit."  I said.
Alan laughed.  "I love taking people on their first jump."

My feet came up for the perfect landing as I heard my friends cheering me on.  Honestly, when I landed I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the experience.  So many thoughts and emotions swirled through my being.
 And then I puked.
 Grounded again :) 

After we all jumped and still buzzing,  my friends and I agreed that the coolest part was that we shared this experience TOGETHER.
We toasted that "We said we were going to do it, and we did it."
Cheers to us!

Brene Brown says that "you have to be brave with your life so others can be brave with theirs."
Today  Robert, Mike, Gordon, Abraham, Megan, Monica and I claimed a title beyond runner, parent, worker or friend. 
We are now badasses who jump out of freaking airplanes.
"Bring it on darlin', and don't be stingy with the jalapenos."   
Forever changed.


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Get out and Play: Simple gifts

Its a gift to be simple, Its a gift to be free,
Its the gift to come down where you ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
Will be in the valley of love and delight. 

 Shaker Hymn

Adventure can be subtle. 
Trying that vegan recipe, meeting new people and exploring untrodden territory.
Punk Rock Music, hair shaking and snoopy dancing.
Sunburned cheeks, reunions and picnics.
Long conversations and spiritual connections. 
Sweaty hugs and perfect smiles .
Simple gifts of adventure are calling us everyday.
Your only risk is in the acknowledgement. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Feel again

"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."   Friedrich Nietzsche

A hazy sunset settled in the horizon as my tribe and I gathered at the Boyscout camp trail head.   Armed with headlamps, hydration vests, flashlights and gels we stormed the trail; a train of adventure seekers ready to explore what this night had to offer.  

It is said that when a person loses a sense, their other four become heightened.  I believe that is one of the reasons that night running is such a thrill.  Because it is dark, you are forced to listen.  You get wind of the snake first, only to see it slithering away in the beam from your flashlight. What sounds like someone throwing a bowling ball in the shrubbery it is probably just an innocent armadillo, but  beware of the constant mocking sound of the frog.  It can be truly maddening
The ripe smell of the swamp becomes more pungent in the musty night, and my friend even announced at one point that many animals must be hanging out in the brush, as the stinging scent of urine blew in.

With your sight taken away, your dance with the trail becomes dependent on your intuition for foot placement, and the sensations of your body moving in that space. You must trust that your light, quick steps will not fail you, weaving in and out with your partner
You can't see the sweat, but you know its there, salty in your eyes and trickling down your legs; and  the bitter taste of the thick, humid air requires respect.  

At 1:30 a.m. with 4 miles left to go, a fog of fatigue sneaks in.  I take one last gel and choose to dance the last call, running as fast as my breath and the terrain will allow.  A smooth shot of adrenaline takes me home as the trail and I tango together with sweaty tempestuousness.

Coming into the finish, spent and satisfied- I am renewed.  For putting all of myself into the risks of this run has reminded me only of not of the true bad ass I am capable of being, but also what I am capable of FEELING if I chose to tune in and hear the music.