Saturday, April 23, 2011

And Now It Is Time For...

Have you ever noticed how many things in life are dictated or influenced or even spoiled by the element of time? We measure our days in increments named hour, minute, second rather than by how they make us feel, or what transpired to make it noteworthy in the first place.

My life these days is all about time, I'm afraid. Waiting periods, court deadlines, more waiting. And the running part of my life? Pace runs, speed work, long runs, just finding time to run. Graduate school, time for homework, time for research, time for class. And then there's work, as in "the job I get paid to do."

From time to time I get a case of the "What's the point?!"- itis. Like...these last few weeks. I'm not usually such a complainer, I swear I'm not. But there comes a time when a girl can't deal with all of the shit thrown at her. For instance:

1) Week-long business trip to Atlanta with seven- seven!- staff members where not only can I not get tickets to the Braves game, but my credit card gets nabbed, and we miss our connecting flight out of Minneapolis, causing an overnight delay.

2) Frantic planning of end-of-school year activities involving too much shopping (I cannot believe I just said that, but it was not *that* kind of shopping), and not enough support from other staff. I mean, after almost ten years of holding an event, dontcha think they'd be able to run it in their collective dreams? Yes, you would think so.

3) Realizing that my spring marathon is a mere three weeks away, and I have not yet secured a hotel room, much less made alternate plans for my daughter.

4) Waking up to 19 degrees in mid-April, starting my car, putting it into gear, and having the front end/wheel bearings drop onto the driveway when I am supposed to be taking my daughter to school.

You see? And that was just the span of one week.

And now, I look back on those events and have a different perspective. My bank has wonderful customer service. I only had to field one complaint during that big event, and it ran without a single hitch. Lunch on Good Friday resulted in catching up with a wonderful friend, who just so happened to have a hotel suite with an available pull out sofa sleeper marathon weekend.

And the car? Well, the car was never my choice, and I've always hated it. It was a piece of shit from the get-go, and I'm still a teensy bit bitter that it stuck around as long as it did. So, while there's no happy ending for that, the rest just kinda worked itself out.

Which brings me back to time.

With my race training and foray back to grad school, free time is as valuable as gold these days. I barely have time to shower, let alone find time for a quality run. My friendships have moved to the margins of my life, being reduced to rushed and fragmented text messages rather than conversations. This weekend- Easter weekend, a four day weekend- was my first real break from a schedule in I can't remember how long. My time has been micromanaged, and I have no one to blame but myself.

So, what have I learned from this? I have learned that I need to schedule my free time to be truly free from everything. I have learned that I cannot control fate. I have learned that if you take all of the bits and pieces, you can still see the "I love you and miss you" in the back-and-forth with your friends. I have learned that my running is an integral part of my life, and to ignore the twitching in my legs is to ignore a large part of what makes me, me.

As much as I have thought about how time is central to so much in our daily lives, I have come to appreciate the passage of time, too; I can do what I always admonish others to do: reflect, learn something from it, and move on. Evolve.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Transition to Spring

Once again, I've plundered my "From the Editor" pieces from my running club's newsletter, with this piece from 2009. Enjoy.

How do you know when something is over? I don't mean something like an event or a movie or a song; I mean something more abstract, like an era, a movement, a feeling? A season?

Don't tell me you haven't pondered this before. Everybody , at some point in time, has wondered "When will this be over?!" For us runners, we often find comfort in the concrete routines of our sport: the familiar local races year after year, the same runners crossing paths through the park or along the trail, the constant cycle of training/tapering/racing/resting for the marathoners in our ranks, and the smiling faces in the crowd, wishing us luck. Those things we can rely on, can't we? Take them one-by-one and mull over each awhile.

Local races: they seem to organize themselves, don't they? And yet anyone who has helped plan, organize, and direct a race knows this is most certainly not the case. Do we mourn the dedication of the race staff and volunteers when we search for a registration form, only to find a notice that the race is no longer being held?

What about the people we see along our regular routes? Or the same people we see on the treadmills next to us at the local YMCA? Do we notice when they don't appear around the playground at mile three, or do we only catch their absence once the run is complete? When do we realize and accept that they may have *gulp* stopped running?

I don't think I need to expound on the craziness that is the marathoner's life, but that constant motion is part of the collective memory we have in reference to certain friends, right? I mean, we all have a friend or acquaintance who qualifies for and then runs the Boston Marathon each year. What if...they stopped?

And those faces in the crowd! If you're lucky, you'll be running long enough to see certain shifts in the position of the crowd. The speedy middle-aged guy in front of you three years ago is now more comfortable pacing his buddy, and may even drop out of the race once he's confident in his charge's performance. Eventually he'll make his way towards the middle and then the back of the pack. Before you know it, he'll be relegated to collecting registration forms and fees and handing out race t-shirts.

Spring is a transitional season for runners: we move from bundled up freaks wearing face masks and shed our layers of gear to reveal the (hopefully) lithe runner's body underneath. Those bodies hidden in the dormancy of winter are just aching to go, to move, to be seen.

And then.

We are obligated to ponder the transitions around us, we are forced into the uncomfortableness of change. At what point does a runner become a non-runner? When does a passion become a chore? When does the relationship get so comfortable that it is taken for granted? When does the season really change? Who can pin-point that? Not I, said the cat. And yet, I'm not sure I'd want to know, lest I apply my runner's sensibilities to resurrecting something that just may be better off left to fade away.

Don't forget to give thanks for those daily markers in your life. Quick now, before they fade away.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Questions Needing Answers

1. Can I count all of the running around at work this week as cross training? Tuesday was an afternoon of bowling followed by dinner for 100+ people and Minute to Win It games. Watching people try to get an Oreo cookie from their forehead into their mouth and not being able to use their hands will always be entertaining.

2. Does the exhilaration of completing a really tough physical challenge ever get old? Man, I hope not. Wednesday was the day my department took kids to Northern Michigan University to climb the rock wall. While the kids shimmied like monkeys up the walls, I ran progressive 800's on one of the treadmills overlooking the wall area: 9:00, 8:48, 8:34, 8:20, 8:13, 7:53. THEN I went and conquered 1) my fear of heights, and 2) that rock wall. After that, I tried my hand at racquetball. Um...I *might* have some aggression issues; boy, it sure is fun to smack a small rubber ball around an enclosed room!

3. How much pride can you have in a group of teenagers before you explode? Thursday was my version of The Amazing Race . We had nine teams of two racing around the rez on bikes and then on foot completing challenges for the body & mind. Some of the kids are less than fit; some are obese. Everyone finished all of the challenges with smiles and high fives. No one even trash talked other teams- it was all about encouraging others and teamwork (ca$h prize$ help, too). It makes 12+ hour days worthwhile.

4. How horrible of an eater do you have to be- and for how long- before your insides fall out? Yesterday was quite possibly the worst food day I've had in awhile. I have posted before about my food/pickiness issues (go here and here for a primer), but yesterday my intake was just awful. I posted earlier about it on Facebook, but I will post my food diary here as well:

7 am Coffee with sugar free hazelnut creamer

11 am Banana

12 noon-5 pm Approximately 40 pieces of Laffy Taffy, or however many constitutes one third of a 5 pound bag.

10:30 pm One can (yes, the entire can) of Disney Princess shaped Spaghettios

5. When will my Spring Break with events & activities planned by and paid for by someone else start?

That last one is the only non-rhetorical question, and is geared towards all of my fabulously independently wealthy friends. Catch me on the celly, awwwriiite?