Monday, October 25, 2010

Finding Respite in Lost Maples

We escaped the urban life this past weekend and headed to Garner State Park.  We absolutely love it there!  While there, we also ventured over to see Lost Maples again, this time, with a camera.  The leaves are about 10 days away from being in their peak brilliance.  I will be back in the area next weekend, and if there is time, I will try to see if I can sneak a brief trip in to see them again. 

The time away was exactly what was needed.  I didn't miss anything electronic.  I was ecstatic to see that my phone still doesn't receive service out there.  I hope it never does.  I saw many people with their phones working, their lap tops out, ipads humming, etc.  I was happy to leave all of that behind for a bit.  I read a line from Thoreau the night before our trip.  It resonated with me all weekend even into today.

        "Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify, simplify."

I am working to continue to simplify, to strive to live in the moment, and to cherish the memories made within my real-time relationships. The rest of it doesn't seem so important anymore.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The First Step

After much hemming and hawing, praying, discerning, questioning, checking, double checking, triple checking, changing my mind back and forth, back and forth, back and...well, you get the idea... I took the first step.

I registered.  Rocky Raccoon 100.  February 5, 2011.  And the madness has just begun.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Busy and Busier

This week will probably be one of the busiest I have had in many a moon.  The real challenge will be getting in the mileage for the week as this is the last "big" mileage week before I begin my "taper" of sorts for Cactus Rose.

I lost 10 miles last weekend whilst tending to my lovely grand daughter.  Something I didn't mind at all!  How can I when she is as cute as can be!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Lady of the Rosary

Today is the beautiful feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.   Only a few years ago, that would not have made an impression upon me because I really didn't pray the Rosary unless someone started one and it would appear rude for me to exit the scene.  I know, not very classy, but it is truth.

Over the last several years, I have gained a new found respect and love for this beautiful expression of prayer.  Perhaps it was through working closely with the teens in LifeTeen and hearing about how the Rosary changed their lives or brought them closer to Christ.  Perhaps it was listening to our youth minister describe his experience of praying a certain mystery while having a sort of metaphysical experience placing himself within the scene of a particular aspect of the mystery that converted my heart.

Whatever it was, it worked and I am forever grateful.  It has changed my prayer life, my heart, my focus for my life and my family.  It has opened my heart to a deeper level of Marian Devotion and though I am new to it all, I can see how drawing closer to the Blessed Mother is really drawing closer to Christ.

It is through the praying of the mysteries of the Rosary that I am able to place myself into the role of mother.  Trying to imagine being Mary, looking for my Son who was left behind at the Temple.  Or as a mother watching her Son being mocked, beaten, and eventually crucified.  As the mother holding her newborn Son for the first time.  Bringing Him to the priests to be consecrated to God.  All of these experiences do not focus on Mary, rather, they bring the very real human emotion into the scene.  I can experience the love, the pain, the sacrifice in a truer sense because I can relate to the occurrence as a mom.

I am currently reading True Devotion to Mary.  It is a bit over my head most of the time, but I am beginning to comprehend the message within the text.  Love of Our Lady does not take away from the love we have for her Son.  It only magnifies it.   Christ gave us His mother as He died on the cross.  She was the first Disciple of Christ.  She was the one who knew how to love Him perfectly.  How can we not learn from her example.

I invite you to delve into the Rosary.  Start with one decade a day.  Take baby steps.  Allow the love of Mary to move your heart and guide your soul towards her Son.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Making the Switch

My objective for the last several weeks has been to transition over to morning runs.  With the school year in full swing, our evenings are being quickly swallowed up by a variety of activities all of which leave little time for running and other forms of training.

I am a reluctant morning runner and have fought this change off for as long as possible, but it could no longer be avoided.  So, I've begun my morning runs again, and they are not too bad!  I guess what I dislike most about the morning time slot is the cold start to the day.  I am not a cold weather person, not even a little bit. 

Cold and sunny is acceptable, but cold and dark makes me want to curl up under the covers and rethink the whole running thing.  You'd never know I was born a Yankee! 

I don't look forward to running on those soon-to-be-here winter mornings.  I think I officially am a Texas girl now.  Not sure what to do when I get home and my running gear isn't soaking wet with sweat.  Makes me feel like I haven't worked hard enough!

Training is going well.  My base mileage has managed to creep up to a comfortable 50 miles/week.  I find this amazing still.  I distinctly remember not being able to run around the blocks just four years ago.  I recall the first time I finished running an entire mile without walking.  I stopped and cried for joy!  I never, ever, ever, in my wildest dreams, ever thought I would run for exercise, and to see what my body can do now is quite surprising. 

The most difficult aspect of training is the strengthening I am doing outside of running.  Core, arms, push-ups,etc.  I just don't like doing it.  But, it is necessary to support the goals I have for my running.  I've had to change my attitude towards this training.  And there is one person in particular that has helped me to do this.  Abi Meadows.  Mom of 7.  The most incredible abs I have ever seen.  And I want them.  Yep, I covet them.  Hope that this only inspires me to stay true to my training and doesn't put me in violation of the 10th Commandment! 

Cactus Rose is right around the corner.  I am hoping to do well in this race, not merely finish it.  This will be a great challenge for me.  The way my training has been this year, I should be able to do well, as long as I don't let the mental game get in my way. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

New Paths

Last night, I ventured into a new type of run which will from now on be affectionately known as the UGH run. 
UGH because that was all I could mutter out of my mouth by the time I had reached the top floor for the tenth time, and UG because, well, it wasn't the prettiest run I've ever been on so this run helps put the UG in UGLY! 

Because I live in a fairly hill-barren area of Texas, hill training, unless you have access to a treadmill, is difficult to attain without weekend trips away to the Hill Country.  Obligations to family and church tend to keep me close to home for most of my training, yet I understand the importance of hill training if I am planning to run anything hillier than Rocky Raccoon.

Several seasoned ultrarunners have recommended parking garage workouts, lunges, and stairclimber workouts.  I had not yet attempted the parking garage, so last night became the night. 

It was a nice 4.5 mile run to the college campus.  I do believe I had a red and white bullseye mark painted on my shirt as it appeared that the drivers along 242 sped up with each attempt to cross the highway.  I was happy to find a much safer route home which I'm sure was much to the dismay of the blood-thirsty urban hunters. 

The stair well run was not one that will ever be listed as a top ten experience, but I am hopeful that if I can commit to completing these runs, the benefits will be forthcoming at Cactus Rose. 

I was half-expecting the security guard to ask me to leave the property, but he never did.  I am thankful for that because of all the parking garages available to me to run, I feel this one is the safest.  The stairs are clean as they are brand new. The campus police station is housed within the parking garage.  The stair well is completely open with very few blind spots in which a character of ill-will might decide to hide.  I honestly do not know who in their right mind would approach me after a few miles of running, though.  The stench is fairly unbearable. 

I am still going to continue with the lunges, as they seem to provide the most level of pain on any given day.  I have increased my weights while performing them and I am feeling the effects in all the right places.

What I am lacking most of all right now is my core and UE strengthening.  I am consistently inconsistent, completing the routines approximately once a week.  This is not going to serve me well.  If I could get it in twice, I would feel much stronger and much more prepared for the race. 

I do feel generally stronger overall right now.  My running is strong, not fast, but strong.  My legs are definitely stronger than they have ever been, but legs are not what is going to keep me upright in the late miles of the 50/100.

I seem to have been able to  fix the problems with my iron levels.  I am trying to take in more calories to keep my energy up as well.  I remain vegan MOST of the time.  I have had salmon twice in the last 4 weeks.  I find that the fish is nice, but honestly, it seems too greasy to me now. 

Running alone has become the predominant occurrence of late.  I love when I am able to meet up with a friend to run, especially on a long run.  This is not always possible though, so for the good of training, I run alone if needed. 

Looking forward to the fall season of running.  The long hot summer is hopefully behind us and all of those runs in the grueling heat will give way to pleasant runs in low humidity and welcome cooler temperatures.

Found this quote today to pass along to a friend who will be running her first 100 this weekend in Arkansas.  Thought it might be a good point to ponder for the weekend!

                           "What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"
                                                                                                     - Vincent van Gogh

 So get out and make your own new paths this weekend!  Happy Trails!