i woke up this morning with the memory of a vivid dream dribbling slowly away from my mind. in an effort to capture it, i rattled it off to todd in broken sentences as soon we were both awake.
the dream involved running. not away from anything, not out of fear. i was just out on a regular run, outside on a dirt road in the woods. while everything else seemed normal, my legs felt like they were moving through jello. each time my feet would hit the ground, they would quiver and then sink into the road a few inches. eventually i surrendered to the challenge and continued to trudge clumsily up the hill. at the crest of the hill, i found myself ocean-side with impossibly high cliffs looming overhead. this is when i became aware that i was dreaming. the realization rushed in like cold draft under the door, gently knocking me back into my senses.
while it’s jarring to remember a dream so vividly, this dream in particular sent me reeling a little. it reminds me of a time before i started running. as a fairly idle person in my mid-thirties, i’d paralyzed myself into thinking i couldn’t be a runner–i was too old, too busy, too out-of-shape, too broke to afford all of the fancy gear, too tired, and too insecure. there were too many too’s!
this morning, instead of relenting and sinking into the ground, i hustled up that sticky hill in my dream because (through hard work and patience) i’ve overcome those too’s. what a tremendous, waking-life realization that is.
i’ve never been a morning person. i thought i would grow out of it, and eventually love waking up at dawn, chipper and ready to kick serious ass at 6am. i’m almost forty years old, and i love sleeping in, so…nope–thats a negative, my friend. if left to design my own schedule, i would sleep in until noon, and i would eat breakfast for dinner. this isn’t to say that i haven’t tried waking up super early, and regularly. when i first started running in 2013, i would run in the morning. before i had coffee! this baffles me. if i remember correctly, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t awesome. after logging in the miles over the last year or so, i’ve evolved into being more of a mid-day/night runner, and it suits me just fine.
i often bundle up and run home from work in the evenings. the first part of the run is a westward mile across the dense, kinetic sidewalks of 26th street. i break my rules by making this mile the fastest one of the run, by dodging and darting around people, dogs, ice puddles, poop, and taxicabs. it’s not the most graceful mile of the run, either. i look as though i’m hotfooting it across piles of garbage, my arms flapping like a chicken, but i like the challenge. i like to turn the street into an obstacle course that nobody knows they’re taking part in, except for me.
at the end of 26th street, the west side highway hums predictably with evening traffic. here i can run easy because it’s just me and a few other runners and an occasional cyclist.
there’s two ways to deal with bad weather as a runner. you either stay inside, or you lace up and do it.
when you do, you’re probably one of the only runners outside. if you do see other runners while you’re out suffering the elements, you can take comfort in the fact that there’s other people that are just as batty as you are. solidarity!
when you stay inside, there’s the internet and snacks. you’re all alone. also, there’s the sun that is shining through the window, tricking you into thinking that you should have gone outside. the lackadaisical inert part of you (who forgets in the moment how ambitious you can be) thinks: who runs outside when it’s windy and cold with slush absolutely everywhere?
since the snow storm, the face of city has taken on a sickly pallor–icy, salty, and peppered with mild disappointment. because of my hip flexor strain, and because i prefer to run outside when the sidewalks are clear of bone-shattering obstacles, i’ve dialed it back and have been doing everything else but run outside.
i turned 39 last sunday. that’s also a thing. i’m not worried about aging. i’m in the best shape of my life, and i’ve got many more years to run, jump and roll around the planet. i mean, shit. this amazing person is EIGHTY and runs a 2:13 PR in the half!
speaking of amazing people, every morning last week, on my walk up the avenue to grab the train to work, the same woman would run past me. on the very same block. every. damn. day. that’s commitment and consistency! the look on her face is that of someone who is locked up tight in thought, yet in total control of her body. i hope to get back to a regular routine soon, what with half marathon training starting in two weeks! in the meantime, i’ll mind-high-five her the next time she zooms past me.
to cope with the winter doldrums, i’ve been looking up new recipes on the world wide web and surprising myself by cooking up some pretty amazing soups. i found this delicious, vegan coconut curry lentil soup recipe from vegangela. this weekend, i’m going to make it again, but making a double batch for freezing as well as vegangela’s mushroom soup.
while my fourteen year-old son is not vegetarian, he loves these recipes (and every vegetarian and vegan meal i make at home). i’m either lucky, or an extremely good home cook. maybe both!
another doldrum-beating coping mechanism is to go to class. barre burn class! last night, some friends and i went to lindsay’s barre burn at equinox in soho, and then to temple bar for an end-of-work-week cocktail. we call it Bar(re) Fridays™.
weekend workout plans: a short trot to the brooklyn bridge today and then a long, slow run on sunday through the park. also on sunday i’m going to start a two-month yoga program through dailyburn (where i work). i was never into yoga. maybe briohny will change my mind. maybe you’ll see me pulling the pungu mayurasana pose like it’s NBD by the end of the year. maybe not. all i know is that i have the flexibility of a steel post and that’s going to change! i’ll keep you…posted. har har.
nothing like a blizzard snow storm to slow this runner (who hates the treadmill) down. it’s a good thing, though. i’m keeping it easy, remember? and easy it has been!
on saturday, todd and i went out for a 5k run around the hood. i dialed it down this time, and lo! my hip was like, thanks, dude! i don’t feel a thing! we did negative splits. the last mile’s time ended up being what i would have normally run for the first mile. not bad. good job, us!
because of the snow storm, i’ve been working from home the past two days, watching the snow fall from the comfort of my dining room table. oh boy, having that extra hour of sleep in the morning is awesome. no commuting! no having to pay attention to my appearance! the only drawback? looking down this afternoon at myself and realizing that i’ve been wearing sweatpants since saturday. the same pair. by night i looked pretty much the same, except i wasn’t at my dining room table, but on my couch across the room eating panic-pringles and sipping on fear-booze while watching movies. j/k about the panic-food and fear-booze (kind of), but man did NYC go nuts on monday!
tomorrow’s a new day (and an opportunity to wear real pants and some kind of intentional hairstyle). my dull of commute in the morning will be brightened by some of the songs i just added to my running playlist.
i’m stoked about this one, for sure:
i hadn’t heard this song in almost 20 years until a few nights ago. i have to warn you though…only listen to this one track because the rest of the songs on this album reeks of 90s jam band. that being said, this song really is lovely and reminds me of my junior year in high school (1993). this was a time when jeans only had one cut/style. this was a time when i tried (and failed) to hide my botched at-home nose piercing from my mom. this was a time when it seemed that my full-time job was to hide in my room, wear pajamas, stare out the window, and dream of leaving my small town for the city.
last week i did something pretty awesome–i registered for the brooklyn half marathon! i wasn’t ready to do it last year (nor was it on my mind at the time) but now i’m ready.
running this half is almost a no-brainer because:
i live in brooklyn
i’ve been running longer distances in the past 6 months
i’ve got friends and todd running it with me!
the start of the race is less than a mile from my apartment so i can just roll out of bed and trot over to the starting line
prospect park is my regular jam (we get to complete the loop for the first part of the race)
the only obstacle in the way of finishing this race is the fact that my hip flexor has been bothering me. i strained it while sprinting like a maniac on a treadmill before the holidays. since then, the nagging pain in my left hip has been off and on. if do any speed work, or start out with cold legs, after the third mile my hip will suddenly blurt out curmudgeonly obscenities like grandpa simpson. i limped home on christmas day, guys.
friends have been urging me to slow-it-the-heck-down. i have a hard time doing that. every time i head out for a run, i tell myself that i’ll have a slow and steady one. nope! i find myself pushing low 8’s and 25 minute 5ks with my hip hurtling toward a real injury. the struggle is real (within the struggle)!
i assume that at this point, i just have to stay out of trouble until february 21st. that’s around the time when i should be starting some kind of 12-week half marathon training program. until then, i’ll be strength training (pilates, barre and weights) and running (short distances at a forced, cartoonishly slow pace).
i also have to pick an actual training program. there’s so many!! thanks to the internet, you can find at least 56,984 plans out there for novice runners, and at LEAST 54,092,009 plans for beginning runners. once i find a plan, i’ll lock it in, but for now i’m going to ask around.
so…do you have any recommendations?
in the meantime, i’ll be eating delicious pizza and putting together a new playlist in preparation for the miles i’ll be logging in this spring.
i have to say, i totally surprised myself by running almost every day during the holiday break. maybe it was all of the baked mac and cheese, chips, dip and whiskey that motivated me to get outside and run fast and far (both as a reward for and repentance from). perhaps it was all of the awesome new gear i got.
cold weather running requires way more accoutrements than warm weather running does. gone are the days of sunblock and running tanks. getting ready for a run in the nowadays feels like i’m preparing for a five day survival excursion out on the tundra. thick socks? check. gloves? check. wooly hat that looks like a tea-cozy? check. long insulated pants with reflective thingies on them? check. skin tight, moisture-wicking base layer top? check. windbreaker? check. chapstick? snot rag? check!
lately i’ve been running in brooks running shoes. both the glycerins and the pureconnects have been oh-so-supportive of my forefoot striking on the cold hard pavement of brooklyn and on the squishy trails of beacon.
so yeah, todd, nolan and i spent half of the holiday break in brooklyn and the other half upstate in pine bush. while up there, todd and i worked remotely during the day, noshed on delicious home-cooked meals by night, and inserted a bunch of chilly five-mile runs in between.
this is one of our favorite local five-mile routes. it has a combination of picturesque rolling hills winding through farmland and about a mile of flat road where at any moment you could get clipped by a semi going 60 mph. i love a challenge!
in brooklyn, you have to slalom around uncurbed dog poop and errant trash, but in pine bush you get to dodge a rotting roadside deer carcass and a flattened cat in a ditch! who said the rural life was boring?
we wrapped up our time upstate with one last run up in beacon. as beautiful as this picture is, it was probably the worst and weirdest run of the week. let’s just say i drank too much water before we left the house–a grim realization i made while we pulled into the parking lot. there are no public restrooms on the riverfront of beacon. the only restroom i know of is located in the boathouse by the docks. the restroom is located at the top of the stairs outside of the building and is usually locked by a padlock. i was relieved to see that the padlock wasn’t there, but when i went to open it, it wouldn’t budge. i figured i didn’t try hard enough the first time, so i yanked on the door again. turns out it was locked from the inside because the next thing i knew, the door knob rattled on its own and a gurgling voice behind the door yelled “GO AWAY!” my legs went weak with terror. i clumsily trampled back down the stairs to todd, unaware of what was happening because he had already put in his headphones. confused by my frantic gestures, he followed me as i scurried away from the boathouse. i’m laughing now about it, but i really did get quite a scare. what the heck was in that bathroom?!? i’ll never know. probably a good thing.
since coming back from upstate, i’ve been busy with work. january is a very intense time for the fitness industry, so it’s been difficult keeping up with the miles. only 30 miles run so far this month. i can’t be too hard on myself. i was just thinking this morning about how far i’ve come, and how much has changed in the last two years. i went from nothing to something great within a short period of time, really. can’t wait to see what the next two years will bring! but for now? i’m in a good place. just need to keep moving is all. and i will.
when i’m not running, i think about the fact that i’m not running. a sour twinge of guilt washes over me each time i think about it.
it’s a drizzly, cold december weekend in brooklyn. while i would normally just up and go to the gym, i have no desire to go today–twinge.
i have to give myself a bit of a break though. i’m coming off of having been extremely ill–i passed out on the floor just two weeks ago!
i haven’t been completely inactive. once i felt better last saturday, i pushed all of my courage into a pile, laced up, and went out for a run. i ran with mild caution throughout. in the middle of the run, i felt a little pukey and had to stop for a few seconds to collect myself. surprisingly, i ended up running a sub 30 5k. the following thursday, i went to my regular spin class at the gym and felt pretty good. i gave it 80%. not bad.
this afternoon, todd and i peered grimly out the windows of our apartment at the outside world getting rained upon. for a hot moment, we thought about running outside in the rain, but after seeing that the cars down below had their windshield wipers on at their highest settings, we decided to nix the idea.
fine. no running today. twinge.
but you know…i have to remember that i didn’t run for 37 freaking years! it took me no time to become a runner, mid-life. i guess taking two weeks off from running isn’t the end of the world.
in the meantime, the world has a billion other things to offer.