Thursday, September 29, 2011

Running Therapy

Last night, my mom called to tell me that my great uncle Lorenzo passed away. He was 81 and he'd lived a full life. He was quite a character and never could stay in one place for more than a few months. He used to send my grandmother letters to update her on where he was. We could go years without seeing him and then there he would be, on her doorstep, with nothing more than a backpack for his possessions. He'd stay for a month or two and then move on to his next stop. As a kid, it was always fun to get a visit from him because I didn't know anyone else who lived like that and it was fascinating to me. A little mind boggling too since I'm a plant yourself in one place kind of girl. Or used to be. His life on the road was an adventure though and I could only imagine all the places he' been, the people he'd met, and the things he'd seen.

My uncle Lorenzo was lean and wiry but had a little bet of pot belly – he loved his beer! He was quick with a smile and a laugh and when I picture him, it' sitting there, telling stories, smoking a cigarette with his trusty fedora tilted at a rakish angle. I hear he had quite a few girlfriends but my grandmother always shushed him when he brought them up. “Aye que Lorenzo” was one of her favorite expressions but she loved him. She' helped raise him after all.

I think this is hardest on my mom because to her it's like losing a brother. My grandparents lived with my great grandparents because my great grandpa was sick. My grandma was the oldest and almost all her brothers were still at home when my mom was little. When my mom was in the 1st grade, her teacher asked if she had any brothers or sisters and my mom told her she had 5 brothers. At the parent/teacher conference, the teacher commented to my grandma about having a handful with 6 kids and my grandma said “Those are my brothers, not hers!”.

I, of course, am sad but not overwhelmingly so. It's really hard to lose my grandparents generation one by one. We have a large family and I love that but it also means we end up losing a lot of loved ones. We won't get a chance to say goodbye either because he passed away in Mexico. There is only one brother left, my uncle Dario, and I feel more for him and my mom than I do for me. I just want to hug them.

The thing is…I'm doing okay. 10 years ago, I would have been a mess. I would be eating every donut I could find or scarfing down multiple burgers or sinking into depression. I think the thing that has made the most difference is my running and riding. It's made me much more even tempered, happier, and more able to deal with things. Instead of reaching for food, now I know that I'll feel better after my next workout and I'm okay to wait for it. I don't need a fix right then. I know I'll work it out eventually.

So last night, I went to bed knowing that this morning I had an interval workout and it would be hard, but it would be good. I ran 5x2's at 5K pace (7:42) with 2' rests. The “business” of getting the workout done helped me clear my mind. The running itself helped me feel better. I left the bad stuff I was feeling out on the road where it won't do any damage. And what do you know? That therapy didn't cost me a dime. Who needs a couch anyway? I am so thankful to be a runner.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Trail Running Intuition Edition

I went for my first trail run in my Altra Intuitions on Saturday. Oh sure, I've used them on the dirt trail where I live but it's more of groomed equestrian trail than a real "into the wild" trail. Saturday was a true trail test and they passed with flying colors!

What's funny is that when I bought them, I never even thought of using them on the trail. At least not until I went to the Crossfit Games back in July. I went there to meet Jeremy from Altra (@AltraZeroDrop) and Patton from the Natural Running Store (@naturalrunstore) since I am big fans of theirs and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. While I was there, Jeremy and I were talking and he mentioned taking them on the trail. I think he was insulted when I said I didn't want to get my Intuitions dirty because they were so pretty! ;) (Really, they are: I think the blue is a very happy color and they were just so shiny and new. Oh come on, new shoes are pretty!).

I was training for a road marathon at the end of August so I wasn't running trails this summer. Saturday was my first trail run in months. Ooh boy, it was good to hit the dirt again. I'd planned an epic morning: ride to the trail on my mt bike, run 11 miles, then ride home. I wanted my legs to be a little tired when I ran. I also only had about 400 calories for breakfast so I would be running mostly on empty. I wore my Nathan Hydration pack and just had water in it. I had one Gu half way through and then one more Gu when I got back to the bike. My legs were a little noodly off the bike but they did really well and I even did more than planned. I'd thought it would be 12 or 13 miles to the trail and then I got lost a couple of times and had to double back during the run so it turned into a 15 mile ride there, a 13 mile run, and then 15 miles home. I was one tired runner/cyclist but very happy with how it went.

I run in a place called Bonelli which has a great trail system in it. It has a mix of roads, fire roads, double track, and single track. There is hard packed dirt, powdery dirt, sand, and rocky technical sections. You can pick rolling hills or steep climbs. There's even a stream to cross! You can tailor your run to fit your mood/run and there is something for everyone.

My main goal was to get in a lot of hills in preparation for my upcoming races. My secondary goal was to make sure I gave the Intuitions a good test since I'm planning to wear them in those races. Because of that, I decided to hit a little bit of everything (except roads). We haven't had any rain in a while, just fog/mist, and the trails were completely dry so the only thing I didn't get to test was mud.

The Intuitions performed beautifully! I had plenty of traction when I needed it. I didn't slip in the sand or on the rocky sections. The Intuitions gave me great protection in the rocky sections too. I could feel the rocks but they didn't feel bruising to my feet and I didn't have to dig any rocks out of my sole like I do in my other shoes. At one point, I stubbed my toe on a rock and almost tripped but it didn't hurt my toe at all. Actually, I only tripped twice which is a major record for me since I usually trip about a half dozen times on the trail, especially when I'm tired.

I have a pair of Saucony Peregrines that I usually run trail in but the thing I don't like about them is that they don't feel stable. I sometimes roll my ankle in them or feel my foot sliding to the side. It really annoys me and I thought maybe it was because they weren't tied tight enough but no matter how I tied them, they never felt secure.

The Intuitions, on the other hand, made me feel very stable and solid and I never rolled my foot once. I think it's because of how they fit and because they are zero drop. I have plenty of room for my toes to do their thing but the rest of the shoe fits exactly right. There's no slippage in the heel or anything. The Intuition's zero drop sole gave me a very stable base to work with and I never felt off balance. Basically, I felt like I was channeling my inner mountain goat and could concentrate on the section I was running and not worry about what my shoe was going to do. That felt awesome and was a great relief.

So, all in all, a fabulous trail run on Saturday: the morning was foggy/misty and cool, my shoes did great, I got lots of hills in as my quads could attest to yesterday, and my plan to run on tired legs worked out really well. I felt like I was a lass doing some fell running in the Highlands of Scotland, except for the fact that I was in So Cal...and I'm not Scottish. But you know what I mean. God, I love dirt and hills. I really need to do this more often. Every weekend!

Oh, and my poor Intuitions are plenty dirty now. Sniffle. Maybe I should have 2 pairs so I can keep one pair "pretty" on the roads. ;) groaning! :p

Make sure you check out these links if you are interested in trying out some Instincts (men's) or Intuitions (women's). Patton will treat you right!

P.S. I'll be contacting the winners of my give away today, all 3 of you. :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Taper & Recovery Are 4 Letter Words

Both of these are four letter words to me! Okay, they aren't actually four letter words, but they both leave a bad taste in my mouth. Like someone made me wash my mouth out with soap!

I don't know which worse: tapering for a marathon or recovering from one.

Tapering is hard because:

1. You've gotten used to a high volume and you're running less.
2. You've gotten used to doing sweet long runs and you can't do them anymore. :(
3. You're anxious/nervous/excited about the coming marathon and the thing you normally do to work those feelings out is run but you can't because you're tapering!
4. You've gotten used to moving and now you are supposed to be taking it easy. Hello, Lazy!
5. Carbo loading isn't really that fun. It makes me feel bloated so I don't really carbo load anymore. Bad?
6. You wonder if you ran enough/did enough but there's nothing you can do now. Like they say, the hay is in the barn.

But recovering from a marathon is hard too because:

1. There's a period after where you can't all!
2. When you do start running again, you have to run easy. Nothing fast or long.
3. It takes weeks to build your volume up again.
4. It takes weeks to get your legs back to feeling normal.
5. It takes weeks to feel like they have some speed in them again.
6. You might have the Now What?s where you feel a little lost about where to go with your running next. Another race? Just run for fun?

So if tapering before a marathon and recovering after a marathon are so rough, why do I run them? That's easy! I run them because:

1. They're fun.
2. You get a shiny medal and shirt.
3. You might get pancakes after! Mmmm, pancakes...
4. You get to see some great places and meet some great people.
5. The adrenaline rush is amazing.
6. You get to find out what you are made of!

Yeah, the benefits of running a marathon definitely outweigh the not so fun taper & recovery. Did I mention the pancakes part? Who knows? Maybe someday I'll be one of those people who runs a marathon every weekend then I won't have to taper or recover! I have a lot of states to get through and I'm not getting any younger! ;)

It's been almost 4 weeks since I ran the Santa Rosa Marathon. Yesterday's run was the first run since then that I felt like I got some of my speed back. I ran 6 miles with 2 of them at tempo (8:34 pace) and then ran 6 strides after and felt on top of the world. I had been dealing with a cold for a week and that, along with the recovery, made me feel as slow as molasses. No, slower. I was starting to think maybe I would never get back to where I was before the marathon. But then I remembered that I thought that after the other 3 as well so it's just a part of the process.

Now it's only 3 weeks until my next race - A Hurricane JEM 16.5 mile trail race - and I'm ready to kick it into high gear for that and the rest of the year.

By the way, that's how I deal with the Now What?s. I make sure I sign up for a race to do after the marathon before I even run it. That way, I know what I am going to do next and I don't feel lost. Some might say they need the down time after a marathon to rest and not think about running but I'm not like that. I need to have a challenge out there. Because I cannot slide backwards! I have to, no need to keep moving forward. That's all there is to it.

What about you? Do you like tapering & recovering? How do you handle it?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Ideal Running Lisa

Today's post wraps up my Running The Edge journey. Well, not really because it's an ongoing process but I wanted to post the final steps.

Okay, in the last couple of posts, I went through the 6 mirrors (Initiative, Responsibility, Determination, Adaptability, Integrity, and Person-ability) and graded myself on a scale from 1 to 10 in running and each of the five life stories. The next step is to look at running and the life stories and compare your Real Self to your Ideal Self. I did this with running and I'll share that in this post. This is my comparison of the two for running:

I'm not really surprised that my real running self and my ideal running self are so close together since I've dedicated this year to running. As you can see, I need to work on bringing the real and ideal closer together the most for the last 3 mirrors. I'm sure you also noticed that I want a 10 in Determination and Person-ability. Maybe that's not a realistic goal because no one is perfect but I would like to be the best Lisa possible in those 2 areas most of all.

So...I'll do this for each of the five life stories and then the next step is to pick one area/characteristic to work on each week. They suggest picking 3 things that are really important to you and work on those in the next few weeks. When those are done, you can continue to work on something each week until you've reached your ideal. The 3 things I want to work on in the next few weeks for running are:

1. Try to find a way to run with others. I do 99% of my running alone and I think it would benefit me to run with other people at least once a week. I've looked for running groups near me and there aren't any so maybe I need to start one! (Person-ability)

2. Be more supportive/involved with the on-line running community. I think my shyness gets in the way there. Also, the fact that I still consider myself a newb so I'm not sure if I can contribute meaningfully gets in the way. I need to trust myself and what I've learned more and share that. (Person-ability/Integrity)

3. Become more versatile as a runner. I need to get on the trails more! And not just fire roads but more single track. I need to become more balanced and I think going off road will help. It might also make me less of a slave to my Garmin! (Adaptability).

I think these 3 things will keep me plenty busy in the next few weeks. You have my permission to call me out on any of them if you don't see any progress. :)

Finally, Adam & Tim ask you to share your results and goals with those around you. By declaring them publicly, you are holding yourself accountable to them. Your friends and family can also help nudge you along on your journey if they see you stuck. And of course, it may spark one of them to start a similar journey. Luckily, I've done just that by sharing my journey on my blog.

I really enjoyed reading Running The Edge by Tim Catalano and Adam Goucher (who just ran an Olympic Trials qualifying Half Marathon yesterday! Woo!). I enjoyed the personal stories they each shared throughout the book and the contributions from other runners as well. Adam's stories are even more inspiring considering the journey he's been on with running. I had no idea he was planning a comeback and it was so amazing to follow him this weekend. I haven't read Running with the Buffaloes but this book made me want to. Truly inspiring!

More personally, Running The Edge made me look at myself and think about where I am and where I want to be. While it wasn't always pleasant to look at myself closely, it was also kind of fun. I'll leave you with my favorite quote (which is on my GoSport ID!) for now which fits perfectly with this book...
"It's never to late to be what you might have been." ~George Eliot

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Green Running Give Away

I was really blessed this week and was the recipient of some really cool presents & prizes so I wanted to share my good fortune by doing my first give away on my blog!

Before I get to the good stuff though, a little back story...

As you probably know if you read my blog, I bike commute to work. In fact, I made a vow that I would ride/run more miles than I drive in a year and I try to take my car out only one day a week, usually on the weekend to run errands. I started bike commuting to lose weight and save money but now it's more about trying to live green. However, I ran into a little conflict when I started running and racing.

When I started running, I decided to use that as the impetus to explore our beautiful country & see new places. I decided I would do either a half marathon or a marathon in every state and so far I've raced in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and New York and I'll be adding Utah next month! But traveling does not exactly leave the best footprint on our planet so I made 2 rules for this venture.

1. If I can drive there in less than a day (8 hours max), then I can take my car since that mileage will be included in my yearly mileage goal.
2. If I'm going to a race that's too far away to drive to, then I will fly but I have to pick a race where public transportation is abundant and easy to use so I don't have to rent a car. That way, I can get around by foot or public transportation and still keep to my rules/goals with regards to driving.

As I started racing, I also decided that I would try to be even greener and always carry my own water/drink so I wouldn't use the cups at the aid stations and contribute to the trash from the race. So far, it's worked out really well. I've carried my own water bottle in every race since my first marathon except for races 10K or less. For shorter races like that I don't usually drink during them so it's not an issue.

I have a pretty large water bottle collection but the two that are my favorites are my Ultimate Direction bottles. For shortish runs (up to 13 miles), I use my Ultimate Direction Fastdraw (at right). It holds 10 oz of liquid, is comfortable to hold and has a pocket to stash money, keys, a gel, etc. I used it both days of the back-to-back half marathons I ran in April and it was perfect.

My favorite for long runs is the Ultimate Direction Fastdraw Plus (at right). It's a 20 oz bottle and it has a larger pocket. But the real kicker (yes, pun intended - see below) for me is the valve! It totally rocks. It never leaks, lets me drink without having to pull the top up, and let's me take the right amount every time. The finger loop lets me hold the bottle various ways so I don't get tired. In short, I absolutely love this bottle! They now have the Fastdraw Extreme which is insulated and I may have to get that for next summer. Here's a little more information about the Fastdraw Plus:

The only issue is that since I usually carry Gu Brew in my Fastdraw Plus, I sometimes wish I had a way to carry a little bit of water. And what do you know...a company called HydraPouch did just that! I just ordered a few of these to try on my runs and see how they go. I've heard nothing but good things about them so I have high hopes. You can check out a review of it here.

So, here's the deal. I am going to give a way two hydration systems:
1. A Fastdraw Plus w/a HydraPouch
2. A Fuel Belt R20

Don't worry, the Fastdraw Plus is new! Like I'd give away my favorite bottle, sheesh. ;) And the Fuel Belt is the Revenge R20 and it is new too. It's like the one shown but in blue and it's adjustable. I bought it but never used it because I ended up buying a Nathan Hydration Vest too and it works better for me. If I could have gotten the Fuel Belt to stay around my hips like Halle Berry's utility belt as a Bond Girl Jinx, then that would have made me happy but I couldn't make it work. ;) So someone gets to try it out!So...I'll pick two lucky readers for this give away. All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me what you do to be a "green" runner/cyclist/triathlete. You can also specify which one you would like to receive the bottle/HydraPouch or the belt and I'll do a separate drawing for each.

The contest ends on Sunday, September 25th and I'll announce the winners on Monday, the 26th.

By the way, I found 2 bonus advantages to carrying my own water/drink in a race:
1. I don't have to worry about what the race will provide.
2. I don't have to worry about navigating aid stations and I can save time! I just say "Nothing, but thank you." as I breeze through the aid station.

Here are the links to the websites for UD, Hydrapouch, and Fuel Belt if you are interested in checking out their other products:
Ultimate Direction
Fuel Belt

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Adaptability, Integrity, & Person-ability

Today's post covers the last 3 mirrors that I looked into from the book Running The Edge by Tim Catalano & Adam Goucher. These 3 mirrors are Adaptability, Integrity, and Person-ability. I found these 3 kind of hard to look into but I did it. You can check out the first 3 mirrors in this blog post.

Just a reminder, I had to score myself for running and for each of the five life stories. I had to rate yourself on a scale from 0 to 10. Zero being a "reactor" (passive, a puppet) or a "distance maven" (an actor, a doer, the puppeteer).

The first mirror is adaptability. They list these traits for this mirror:

This is how I rated myself in each area:
Running - 6
Education - 6
Family - 8
Friends - 7
Career - 6
Passions - 6

I think the only area I'm truly adaptable in is Family & Friends. I have no problem re-arranging my schedule for the people I care about. And changing what I need to for them. The other areas, not so much. I've mentioned a few times that I'm a creature of habit and that pretty much covers running, my career, and passions. I have a routine and I stick to it. Even the way I load the programs on my computer at work! Yes, I'm that bad. But...I have been working on this already so I'm not as bad as I used to be. I do think I am flexible in that I'll move a workout if I need to or use a work around at work. Still, there's room for improvement in this area.

The next mirror is integrity and these are the traits they list for it

And this is how I rated each area for this mirror:
Running - 7
Education - 5
Family - 7
Friends - 7
Career - 6
Passions - 6

This was another hard one for me. It's not that I lie to people about any of these areas. The hard part was determining whether or not I've been honest with myself about where I am in each of these areas. Sometimes, you go along thinking you're doing a great job and totally oblivious to what other people really think. What I have a hard time with is knowing for sure that what I think I'm doing is really what I'm doing. For example, I think I have great endurance. But do I really? I'm a total newb to the endurance world so maybe I don't really. Is running 4 marathons enough of a test? And I also think I have potential to get faster. But how much faster I don't know. I haven't figured out at what point I resign myself to "this is as good as it gets".

I also know that I haven't been completely true to myself in the areas of my career and education. My job is one that I fell into, not one that I chose. Don't get me wrong, it's a good job. I'm a numbers geek and I work in Accounting so it seems right. I long for something different. Something with meaning where I can make a difference. But the money is good and I get 4 weeks of personal time a year and that lets me travel and race and it's hard to give up, you know? So I sometimes feel like I sold out. Sigh. It's hard being a grown up.

The last mirror for today is person-ability and these are it's traits:
Sense of humor

And this is how I scored myself for this mirror:
Running - 7
Education - 7
Family - 8
Friends - 6
Career - 5
Passions - 8

This mirror wasn't too bad. I think I've improved a lot here from the shy, introverted girl I used to be. I've worked really hard to nourish my family relationships, especially my mom. I need to work on that with my dad now. We never butted heads like my mom & I but we aren't close. I'm hoping the road trip we are taking together next month will be a big step toward that.

I think I'm doing okay with this in the running world as well. I try to be a part of the community on Twitter but I'm not sure if my sense of humor comes across very well! ;) But I'm trying to be supportive and helpful and give back to the community that has given me so much.

The two areas that I know I need to work on our Friends and Career and this one will be hard. You see, I used to be a Yes Girl. I never said no to anything that anyone asked of me and I eventually got to a point where I felt like a door mat for some friends who took advantage of that and some coworkers as well. So I became a No Girl and I became very, very good at standing up for myself and anyone else I felt was being used or abused. I know a lot of people didn't/don't like that because I didn't bother to finesse it. I just said what I felt and if they didn't like it, too bad! I know that I need to work on doing that better.

So that's the six mirrors. It's been interesting to say the least. Was I too easy on myself? Too hard? Just right? At least it's given me a starting point to what I want/need to work on. It will be interesting to see how they have me put this information to use.

But before I get to that, I'll be posting a give-away on my blog on Friday. It's about a topic close to my heart and one I try to live by. There will actually be 2 giveaways! So check back on Friday for the details. See you then!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Iniative, Responsibility, and Determination

I didn't do a whole lot of reading while I was sick. So I have a little catching up to do! The next 6 chapters in the book Running The Edge by Adam Goucher & Tim Catalano are about mirrors that you can use to reflect on your life. I'll go through 3 of them in this post and the other 3 in the next post.

In this blog, I'll be looking into the mirrors for initiative, responsibility, and determination for running and each of the five life stories. They ask you to rate yourself on a scale from 0 to 10. Zero being a "reactor" (passive, a puppet) or a "distance maven" (an actor, a doer, the puppeteer).

The first mirror is initiative. They list these traits for this mirror:

This is how I rated myself in each area:
Running - 8
Education - 4
Family - 7
Friends - 5
Career - 5
Passions - 4

Right now, Running and Family are the areas where I'm putting in the most work/initiative. I tend to immerse myself in something when I'm learning about it, as I'm doing with running. I gave myself this year to concentrate on running so I'm not surprised by these ratings. I definitely have to become more balanced once this year is over!

The next mirror is responsibility and these are the traits they list for it

And this is how I rated each area for this mirror:
Running - 9
Education - 6
Family - 8
Friends - 8
Career - 8
Passions - 7

Once again, I'm not surprised by the high score for running since I'm focused on running this year and motivated to do my very best at it. I am only accountable to myself for running and luckily, I'm a hard task master! ;) I do think I scored pretty well in the other areas because one thing I believe in is keeping my word.

The last mirror for today is determination and these are it's traits:

And this is how I scored myself for this mirror:
Running - 8
Education - 4
Family - 8
Friends - 8
Career - 7
Passions - 6

Surprise, surprise...running scored high again. :) But so did family & friends. I could use some work in the other areas, especially education but overall, I think these are good. I think my stubbornness helps with this area. Once I set my mind on something, I chip away at it until it's done.

It's been interesting to really think about where I am in each of these areas. I am not happy about how low Education scored in these 3 mirrors but I already knew I was unhappy with how I left things there...not having a degree. I may have been a little harsh on myself because of that because I do do research whenever I need to learn something, whether it's for work, photography, my bike, running, etc. I guess I'm thinking more of a formal education instead of the street smarts I have. And I think it's because I did so well in math & science when I was in school and my family had high expectations for me. And I had them for myself as well.

Still...I sometimes wish for a job where I didn't have to think about technical/computer issues and deal with politics, etc. Something laid back like working in a bike shop or a running store. Where I could start late and do lunch runs or rides. That's why career scored low too. I don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

Well, I do know I want to be a fast, ultrarunner. ;)

Remembering 9/11

I remember waking up 10 years ago and turning on the tv as I got ready for work and just sitting on the couch in shock as I watched the events unfold on 9/11. I remember calling my mom and my sister and we just couldn't comprehend what was happening. How could this happen here? Would it happen anywhere else?

I remember somehow getting ready and going to work. Because I didn't know what else to do. I think that was the hardest part for those of us in other parts of the country. We felt so helpless to help or comfort those that needed it.

At work, it was the same...we all huddled around the tv watching the coverage until they sent us to be with our families.

It took a long time to get over the horror and the grief of that day, but we Americans...we're made of steel and we showed those that would terrorize us that our lives would go on and they WOULD NOT make us live in fear.

Last year, on 10-10-10, I ran the Mohawk Hudson Marathon in Albany, New York. I'd never been to New York before. I flew into New Jersey at dusk and I remember looking at New York and thinking about how I was sad that the first time I saw New York, it was with the Towers gone. The view of the city and the Statue of Liberty was wonderful though. When we took off for Albany, it was dark and my second view of New York was all lit up. Beautiful!

The day after I ran the marathon, I went sight-seeing. I visited a few of the old cemeteries around Albany and then went to the New York State Museum. I expected to see the history of the state but what I didn't expect was the 9/11 exhibit.
I don't know why but I felt like I was hit in the gut. I was not prepared to see the displays and it all came rushing back. To see the fire engines, beams from the towers, helmets, and other memorabilia in person was hard. And the display of the notes and posters that people posted to find their missing loved ones...incredibly sad. I cried the whole time I was in the exhibit. But I'm glad I got to see it. I needed to see that. For closure and so that I felt less helpless when thinking back on that day.

I wasn't a runner when 9/11 happened but because I run now, I was able to visit New York for the first time and pay my respects to those that died that day and honor the heroes that made us proud. I am thankful for that.

Run free, run proud, run for those who are gone and to thank those who gave their all that day.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

On The Edge

"As for accomplishments, I just did what I had to do as things came along." ~Eleanor Roosevelt
The next task in the book Running The Edge by Adam Goucher & Tim Catalano was a fun one. The task requires you to come up with a list of the 5 difficult things you accomplished with running and with life. It's always fun to brag a little but I think their idea for this task was to remind you of other hard things you've done so you can remind yourself that you have what it takes as you go through the book.

These are my lists...

5 Running Accomplishments
1. Running back-to-back half marathons at the Love Me Two Times Challenge in April 2011 and running easy enough the first day that I had plenty left in the tank to win the second day!
2. Running the entire marathon for the 1st time at the Lost Dutchman Marathon in February 2011.
3. Setting a marathon PR at the Santa Rosa Marathon in August 2011.
4. Running the Buffalo Run Half Marathon on Catalina Island in January 2011 and not walking any of the hills.
5. Running a 24:59 at the Freedom 5000 on a hot & muggy July 4th.

I chose these for my running accomplishments because I didn't take the easy road for any of them. I had to push myself in each of them for different reasons (goals, stubbornness, heat) and I proved to myself that I was not a quitter.

5 Life Accomplishments
1. Paying off $35,000 of debt.
2. Losing 150 pounds.
3. Bike commuting for more than 3 years through rain, shine, heat, cold, winds, and hail!
4. Joining Toastmasters and getting over my fear of public speaking.
5. Submitting my photos in a competition at the Los Angeles County Fair to deal with my fear of rejection.

I chose these life accomplishments because they are long term accomplishments. They all taught me that if I chip away at something, that I can accomplish anything. They also taught me that I can face a fear and beat it into submission. Sure, I still get nervous speaking in front of people and I'm sometimes nervous showing my photographs to people but it's manageable now. My life is a lot better because of each of these accomplishments.

Oh, and #5 in the Life Accomplishments...I submitted 5 photos and this one won an Honorable Mention! I was invited to a reception for the winners and I was able to take my mom & Grandma with me. My grandma gave me my first camera and it was so awesome to share that with her!

I named this photo On The Edge and it's a photo of a tree at Bryce Canyon in Utah. It's one of my all-time favorite photos because I love how tenacious the tree is. The ground has eroded away beneath it but it's still hanging on. It always seemed like it was dancing on the edge of the canyon as if to say "Ha, you don't scare me!" I thought it was kind of appropriate for the Running The Edge posts.

At Run The Edge, Adam and Tim talk about the edge being about "our limits and maximum potentials" and that "Running the Edge is a dedication to pushing those limits both in running and in life." It's kind of exciting to think that I am nowhere near my limits/potential yet (I hope). I can't help but wonder what they are. Almost makes me wish for a crystal ball but that would take away the fun of discovery, wouldn't it?

But enough about me. What are your top accomplishments in running and life? Do you have a list? I think it's a good thing to do every now and then so when things get tough, you can remind yourself that you are tougher!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


This is my second post based on the book Running The Edge by Adam Goucher and Tim Catalano. You'll find more info on this book in my post here.

In the next section of the book they talk about self-actualization and peak experiences. Self-actualization being "...the desire for self-fulfillment, namely, for the tendency for him to become actually what he is potentially." Psychologist Abraham Maslow believes that only 1% of us ever get there and the rest of us can hope for peak experiences - "moments of intense joy, wonder, awe, and ecstasy". These are the experiences that inspire us and transform us.

They have a pretty long list of characteristics that make up a self-actualized person and they ask you to go through the list to determine which you already have and which you would like to have.

I picked out 8 that I would like to have and these are two of the ones I would like to work on:

-"are spontaneous and creative, appreciating all experiences, both good and bad"
-"have a sense of humor and can laugh at things beyond their control"

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before that I'm a creature of habit. I think a lot of runners are. We get into our routines with our running and forget or don't want to change it up. I'm like that and not just about running. I have tend to do that with food as well. I've always been the "if it ain't broke, why fix it" type.

Although I find comfort in routine, I know it can make me stale and complacent too and I don't want that in any area of my life. So I want to be more of a fly by the seat of her pants kind of girl. Signing up for the 12 Hour race on New Year's Eve was a part of that. Ooh boy, is that scary. But I also know that it will push me out of my comfort zone and that can't be a bad thing. And if it goes wrong, I'll just have to appreciate the experience for what it was and learn from it. However, I hope that by the time it rolls around, I'll have trained creatively enough that I will be fine with it. ;)

But seriously, I really need to explore my creative side more. I've been neglecting my photography and arts & crafts projects since I started running. I miss them. Not enough to give up running but I need to find some balance to do both. (speaking of peak experiences...this is a photo I took in Maui of Iao Needle on the infamous 40th birthday trip that started my transformation)
And finally, I hope that I don't take myself to seriously during this or any other project I take on. Not that I won't give them my best effort but I'm sure there will be a few stumbles along the way, especially, when I become more spontaneous! I hope I can laugh about them instead of getting frustrated and throwing in the towel.

Hopefully, these characteristics will lead me to have many, many peak experiences in the years to come.

P.S. You can read their blog here (lots of fun posts), and follow them on Facebook here.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Me, Myself & I

"Running is my private time, my therapy, my religion." ~Gail W. Kislevitz
I ordered the "Running The Edge" book by Adam Goucher & Tim Catalano of Run The Edge a couple of weeks ago and I just received my signed copy on Saturday. It's a pretty interesting concept for a running book: "Running The Edge offers a direct challenge to cast off the chains of normalcy, average, and good enough. By looking into the six mirrors of the distance maven, you will discover how you can reach your maximum potential in running and life..."

The basic concept is that by becoming your "ideal self", you will get more enjoyment out of life and running. You can read the book and enjoy it for the stories/ideas or you can work through it as a workbook to improve some or all of your life stories (education, career, family, friendships, and passions). Adam & Tim share some very personal stories so they are working through the same lessons you are. I thought I would work through the sections on my blog and share the journey with you.

The first section is not so much fun: they ask you to list your worst qualities and your best qualities. Oh, I have a pretty easy time coming up with my worst qualities. It's the best qualities that are hard to come up with.

My worst qualities:
*I have a bad temper
*I procrastinate
*I tend to hide my head in the sand when things make me nervous
*I don't have a lot of patience with my coworkers
*I'm stubborn
*I have a tendency to shut off my emotions when things get intense (good or bad)

My best qualities:
*I'm loyal
*I'm curious
*I'm empathetic
*I'm supportive
*I'm artistic
*I'm giving
*I love fiercely
*I'm stubborn (this can go either way!)

Am I happy about my worst qualities? Heck no. Especially the bad temper & the lack of patience. I try and work on them but I also cut myself some slack when I mess up. I'm not perfect. No one is. I'm kind of impressed that my best qualities list is longer. Not that I have them, but that I was able to give myself a pat on the back about them. That always felt wrong before but I'm good with it today.

In the next section, they talk about self-actualization and some concepts of it from various sources. They ask you to go through the list and identify the attributes you already have and those that would make you your ideal. I'll go into this more in the next post but one of the attributes that I think I already have is "value independence and solitude and need time to focus on developing their own potential".

This is what running does for me. It gives me time to be alone and really think. That's why I don't run with music, even on long runs. Especially not on long runs actually! Running is the ultimate me-time for me and there's nothing I enjoy more than being on my feet for hours at a time, thinking, and enjoying moving through the world.

Someone once asked me how I could stand the drive to Arizona (4 1/2 hours for me). Didn't I think it was boring? Tiring? Long? I said no but I thought to myself "I've run that long with nothing but myself to entertain me, road trips are a piece of cake."

The thing is, there was a time in my life when I didn't like myself so I couldn't imagine spending that much time alone with just my thoughts. I always had to have noise (the radio or tv) as a buffer between me and my thoughts. There were days when I was so depressed, I was afraid to be alone. Afraid of what I might find out about myself. That I would have to admit to my worst qualities. Hey,'s me sticking my head in the sand!

But now I'm in a place where I find that I'm not such a bad person to hang out with. ;) A little crazy, maybe. But not a bad sort. Now, I have no problem being alone and independent. I no longer shy away from self-reflection. It's not always fun, but I can do it. And I seem to do it most often when I'm running. I'm not sure why it doesn't happen with cycling. Maybe because the bike is a part of it and I'm always aware of the mechanics of cycling (steering, pedaling, shifting, braking) so it's not a natural process like running and I can't zone out?

Anyway...running has become my meditation. Where I find peace. Where I solve problems. Where I am finding the real Lisa. Where I figured out that being alone and independent has it's advantages. That's one of the reasons I love it and that makes me want to be the best runner I can be.

P.S. That quote at the top is one they posted on their Facebook page today. I really enjoy their writing and their running philosophy. You can order a copy of their book here, read their blog here (lots of fun posts), and follow them on Facebook here.