a thankful season.

Feeling pretty healthy and feeling pretty pumped about running these days. Not at all in a 'I'm running faster than ever and PRing and breaking down records kind of way' but in a 'I absolutely love the way it feels when I'm running' kind of way. Like when I'm sitting at my desk and I'm thinking, "Gee, I wish I were running right now." Or when I'm at a stoplight and I'm watching someone running


I get a little jealous. My heart smiles and my legs really want to join in.

My running dates with friends have been priceless - my friendships have grown beyond what I could expect as so many regular runs have given me a chance to find confidantes, allies, and mentors. Whether it is running up mountains or just charging up Morehead... I find myself wrapped up in the laughter and the stories we tell each other. I never want to miss a run because I don't want to miss an opportunity for a kind of "fellowship" - a kind of something special - a kind of synthesis of things I love most: quality time spent with others and, of course, running. I'm even enjoying the times when it is just me. Just me and the road and the sidewalks and my thoughts and my non-thoughts. Coming in from running a solo 18 miler this weekend, I told my husband, "I have no idea what I thought about." I really couldn't remember - I was so zoned OUT/tuned IN that I just couldn't recall. I remembered snorting an energy chew (first time for everything) because chewing and breathing heavily are not two things I do well together. But as for the rest of the run... I was just running. Remembering the turns to follow the out and back... being patient and running easy.

I tried to say Good Morning or Hi or wave(or at least smile when the fatigue was creeping in) to all the runners I encountered. Even if I never get anything back (which happens more and more frequently these days) - I still try to acknowledge another runner's presence and efforts and passions. Maybe they don't even really like running - maybe they are just making up for eating too many donuts or drinking too much beer - I don't really care. I want to say good morning or smile or wave at them because they are running and I am running and that means we are sharing one tiny fraction of a moment in this very busy, very hectic, very full life that we all lead. Why not share a little enthusiasm?

My sister signed up for her first 5k in over 13 years - I've been so happy about it that I feel like I've been floating just a little bit. When she texted me that she was doing mile repeats the other day - I felt a grin just creep up and spread across my face. In a couple of weeks, after years of rollercoastering ups and downs before we settled into the loving and ever-supportive friendship we have today, I'll be standing there on the sidelines cheering for her. No where else I would rather be.

I've signed up for my very first 50k, the New River 50k, and I'm a bundle of excitement. I can't wait to be out there in the cool, crisp air - traversing the winding, gravel paths underneath canopies of hue-changing leaves. It will be beautiful even if it rains - the misty, eerie fog that dots a landscape like that is something to behold. I can't wait. I have some long runs to do before we get there... but other than that, I'm ready.

Until next time...


The Big Apple that Bit Me

So I usually write a recap. And I don't usually start a post with the word "so." It's just so... noncommittal. But I guess that's just my general feeling at the moment when it comes to running.

I have a distinct memory of talking to my parents a few days before NYC and telling them that this was just something I was meant to do. Run. I was made to do this, right? Something is compelling me to get out there in the mornings and whip myself into a semblance of shape and then go out there and run my legs off.

And perhaps that is true. Maybe I really am "meant" to do this. But at mile 20 when my legs are screaming unmentionables at me... I have the hardest time thinking about the whole "I'm meant for this" thing without laughing at myself.

And maybe that's the whole point. To not take everything so SERIOUSLY - enjoy the ride - see how it all pans out, etc. etc. etc. To let loose but not TOO loose is the difficult part. My running woes are kind of a microcosm of my life issues in general I guess.

So - a race recap.


You see - I've been having a hard time focussing lately. There is just so much excitement and overstimulation and anxiety and and and and... well, I just am so HAPPY. My life has been in overdrive lately... fell in love, broke 3 hours in the marathon, ran an ultra, broke a 7 year PR in the 5k, got married, PRed in the 10k, became an aunt for the 6th time, ran the "Greatest Marathon in the World," fell apart after the "Greatest Marathon in the World," got put back together and fell deeper in love, bought a puppy...

It's just kind of hard to focus with so much going on all the time. I'm not complaining... especially since 99.9999% of what I just mentioned was AWESOME. But I'm just not at my peak in terms of focussing on the task at hand.


The task at hand on November 6, 2011 was to run the ING NYC Marathon at 6:50ish pace and break 3 hours in order to convince myself that last March was not a fluke. My training was great, I was uninjured, I tapered, I got my massage, I ate a safe meal the night before... I even ate a real breakfast. I hopped in a cab in the morning and took off on an adventure!

I had applied to the Sub-Elite start and two weeks before, I was surprised and extremely excited to learn that I had gotten in. I met up with a caravan of 6 buses in Manhattan and climbed up the steps to be greeted by a busful of excited runners ready to pour their hearts out on the streets of NYC. We rode over to the warmup tent and all talked about our goals and got to know each other as we mulled over which layers to wear up to the starting line and which items to leave behind. We enjoyed being a little star-struck as the elites and professionals warmed up around us.

We were walked up to the Verrazano-Narrows bridge to start our warmups up and down the bridge... some of us sneaking off onto an open bus to make use of the pitch dark bathroom on board. Gotta love nerves. After a series of strides and nervous shaking out of the legs, we lined up behind the starting line - just us and 47,000-odd people (Odd People?). Finally... after hours of build up - the literal starting cannon went off and the race began.

Up up up up and away we went over the bridge. The water below shone gorgeous and bright as the sun hit the surface and bounced back at us. A helicopter hung suspended, catching the action as the runners charged ahead. I started to hear people whooping and hollering and looked to my left as the Professional Men (who had started a good bit further back from us on the other part of the bridge) came racing up beside us. I was shocked at how close they were and how quickly they were moving and just how beautiful and special this moment was - how incredibly quick but potent it would be in my mind forever.

I felt compelled forward, even when I passed the first mile mark in 6:30 - I felt pushed by the surging crowd around me to move ever faster. To move with them. To be part of this mass of human strength and ability overflowing down the bridge. My legs moved like this was nothing. My breathing felt calm and easy. I felt the flush of excitement in my cheeks as we rounded the corner and pulled into the 2 mile mark. My split read 12:20/30ish and even my poor mental math skills very quickly determined that this was not a good thing. I took stock of the situation and tried to reign things in a little as we moved into a boulevard of people screaming for us. I hit the 5k and knew it was quick, I hit the 4 miles and knew it was fast, I hit the 10k and knew I was cooked. Second fastest 10k in my life at the start of a marathon? This cannot end well.

I remember thinking to myself as I tried to slow it down and get out of the way of the onslaught of faster/smarter runners - these cheering crowds sure aren't helping me put on the brakes! Their encouragement was so loud, so all-encompassing that I couldn't shake it. For the next few miles, I just focussed on easing up my speed - I laughed at the signs, I slapped high fives to outstretched hands, I actually listened to bands on the sidelines.

By the halfway point I had regained control of my pace but already knew it was going to be an interesting battle to the end of the race. I expected to see the boy around mile 18 so I started counting down the miles until I would see him - even if it would be ever so briefly. Mile 15 marked the first real dark (literal and figurative) part of the race for me. I finally was away from the crowds and was able to be somewhat alone in the hurt that was building up in my quadsnhamstrings but I was also trudging upwards in the dark tunnel of a bridge with over 11 miles of the race to go.

At 18 I was looking around, fiercely hopeful that I would find my husband among the masses. Amazingly, I caught him out of the corner of my eye and my spirits were revived by the look on his face. He looked exuberant, so proud, so happy - I realized that he didn't know that I was pretty much out of gas already. I focused on that for a mile or so and tried to push any negative thoughts out of my head but I at some point I realized something...

I wasn't being negative... I was being realistic. I still had 6 miles or so to go and my muscles were starting to cramp pretty badly. I walked all the water stations and slowed down significantly in between them. Going into the last 4 miles - I switched into survival mode.

Throughout it all, I was smiling despite my deep frustration with my lack of control at the beginning of the race - the spectators were just THAT good. I pushed all the comparisons with Chicago from my mind (I would deliberate that later) and thought about how happy I was going to be just to have FINISHED no matter what the clock said.

My legs had long ago given up and I had resigned myself to a possible walkyjog joggywalk into the finish when at mile 25 I saw one of the girls from the Sub-Elite bus pass me. I so badly wanted to go with her and somehow found my legs again - for ONE last mile. I decided to run the entire last 1.2 miles no matter what. I could feel a numb, vibration of pain with each and every step as I ran through the true final stretch - I felt like I was f-l-y-i-n-g.

Crossing the finish line was somewhat anti-climactic despite the huge importance I had put on it in the hours, weeks, and months leading up to the race. I was impressed with the wonderful volunteers and the sweet woman who stopped me and ceremoniously put the medal around my neck. But as my mind started to register what had happened and how far away I was from my goal, I think I was amazed at how life just went ON. I was stunned that it was just not that big of a deal.

I found my husband on the sidewalk and he walked/carried me when we couldn't get a cab and staggered the 2 miles to his sister's apartment on the upper East side. I let the emotional toll of the marathon take over me as I stumbled block after block... tears rolling away... and yet, it was ok. The only thing that wasn't ok - was how much my legs hurt. And that I couldn't reach my feet to take off my shoes. And that the edge of the bathtub was like scaling a mountain. I was not ok with not being able to step off the sidewalk or into a cab. That was not ok.

But when I sat back and looked at it all and thought about my sister running an 8 minute PR on such a difficult course and I thought about her contribution to the $34 million raised for charity that day... it was ALL ok. I thought about all the emotions that well up in someone throughout a marathon. The incredible urge to cry even when everything is fine. I thought about the thousands of people running for someone they loved and lost. I felt it all coming together like a mass of helium balloons... billowing up above me and lifting me out of my self-imposed, frustrated, disappointed little hell and into the beautiful heaven that is the true spirit of marathoning. I felt released. I feel released.

But I still can't really walk right. And I still can't really focus right now. And I still want to do it all over again and do it right and stick to the plan and be a good little runner. But we'll see - maybe someday.


finally. a 5k.

So the boy and I had been kicking around the idea of pacing a friend of ours in a local 5k so she could see just how fun they really are. Greek Fest seemed like an opportune chance since it is supposed to be flat and lots of fast people are out there posting some great times. Sounded inspirational to me… unfortunately the timing didn’t work out but we had already signed ourselves up. This meant I had the option of actually racing the race, doing a tempo, or hanging out just running to run (nearly impossible to do in a race but hey, it was worth a thought). The boy picked a goal of breaking 20 and kept making fun of me all morning for imagining that I could hear the gun go off and just hang out for a while on the roads…
We did a pretty killer hill workout on Thursday and before my legs got sore from that, I asked the boy for a circuit type workout to do at work that ended up really busting up my hamstrings… glutes… legs in general…

Friday was interesting as I hobbled around the office with my super sore legs. I thought to myself, I certainly can’t RACE with legs like this?! And then when we did our warmup on Saturday I said (out loud) to the boy “This is clearly not a race day for me.”

I ended up surprising myself because something must have gotten into my legs and I ran my fastest 5k ever. Pretty cool considering that I would have quite literally sold my soul to run the same time in high school or college. I texted my old teammate and said – what do you think, are we aging like fine wine? She agreed. I kept wondering if there had been a mistake but I ran with the roughly same pack of people the whole time and I saw all the clocks so… it must have been real!

I had so much fun seeing everyone out there and catching all the energy and the high and euphoria of racing a good race. The boy broke 20 with ten seconds to spare so he was definitely pleased… it ended up being a great morning for us both and success is always best when shared. We’ve been training so much more together as we gear up for New York and it was kind of cool seeing our hard work start paying off. I still find it hard to believe that I can run better now when I just love and enjoy running than when I was doing hard workouts twice a week on a sweaty golf course under the stress and torment of trying SO HARD all the time. It took me stepping back, taking off my watch, and just letting it roll. Just letting my feet pound the pavement. Just breathing through the first mile. Just talking myself through the tricky second mile when my legs start to question my sanity. Just convincing myself that 1 mile is not that far and then 1200 meters is really not that far and that half a mile is surely less than 4 minutes and that if I can see the finish than I am almost done and that if I can actually hear the beeps of the finish mats… I am home. I am safe. I am DONE. It is all in my mind and it always has been. I have been out of my mind with all the planning and details involved with our wedding in two weeks… that I think a real, concrete, focused, in-this-moment experience was exactly what the doctor ordered.

And then a big breakfast. And a long run with a chocolate milk recovery the next day… a good weekend in the books.



I do so despise neglecting this blog. But sometimes life catches a hold of you and it does not let go. Sometimes, YOU have to let go. I cancelled a run for this morning before I fell asleep last night... full well knowing that it wouldn't be happening. When my alarm went off and my head was "spinny" and I still felt like I was drowning... I sent a critical email and checked out for the day.

I slept until 11:30 am. Off and on of course... but still. When I finally did drag myself out of bed... I immediately went to the refrigerator to see what there was to see. Eggs. Lots of them. Herbs. Lots of them (hiding in blankets of damp papertowels incased in plastic baggies). Leftover jus, dressings, barbecue sauces... hmm. Pork. Lots of it.

And so I pulled myself together and made my first meal for myself in a while (besides the avocado-tomato migas I made the boy for breakfast a few weeks ago). Took out the gorgeous nonstick all-clad frying pan and marveled at its non-stickiness as I scrambled myself some eggs. I added shredded leftover pork that had been stewing in some juices late last night and scrambled some more. I topped it off with a drizzle of the boy's bbq sauce and used the zester to quickly "zest" some cheddar cheese on top.

Simple. Tasty. Good.

Then I did all the things I should usually do... I did some laundry and put away dishes... then I was tired so I took a nap. Tough day. Took a shower and went to work on some shoes I have been crafting.

Then I read some blog entries I hadn't been able to read in a long time... and then I read my own. And realized how very very far behind I am. My running and outlook on running is still simplified the way it was going into Tobacco Road but perhaps even moreso now. The boy and I ran a 12 hour race at the Black Mountain Monster in Montreat, NC back in June. It basically kicked the living crap out of me but I didn't really know that for a bit. We ran 16 laps around a 5k course starting at 10 am and finishing at 9:44 pm. We ran a total of about 49.6 miles - a lot of this was walking up predetermined hills and then walking almost the entirety of the last lap as it was pitch dark and we stupidly forgot our headlamps. I think part of the problem with packing was we didn't really believe we could make it to dark. But we did. Oh we sure did. We stunk to high heavens, had sweat literally crusted to our bodies and clothing, I burned myself with both icy hot and melted body glide... it was a bit of a shit show. But so very worth it. We ran every single step together. Nearly 50 miles side by side. I would say that is a good initiation for us. We are preparing to spend the rest of our lives together... not a bad way to start such a journey if you ask me.

Since the 50 miler... we took a pretty big step back. I took a full week off and ran my first run back along the streets of NYC and in and out of Central Park with the boy's sister - an accomplished runner herself. You can pretty much fill in the ending of that story... ended up running 15 miles at a decently quick pace, most of which I seriously thought my legs might catch fire and internally combust or melt from searing agonizing pain... but I smiled and plodded along trying to pretend it was all good... and then I crashed and burned and we took a cab home. Yea... so I took a couple more days off.

And now I think I have been running the lowest mileage I have done in a long long time but I need this time to breathe and sleep and rest and catch up with myself. My mind has been racing a million miles a minute as the boy and I nail down final plans for getting married in September. We've been increasingly more involved with social engagements with friends and family as the big day approaches as well as a number of plans we've had going on for quite some time. In June we attended a Farm Dinner hosted by the Poplar Ridge Farm - a farm in Waxhaw in which we are enrolled for our CSA box that comes every other week. The chef from Barrington's, Jamie, prepared an out of this world meal for us using ingredients exclusively from the farm. The experience was priceless. We spent the past weekend with a wonderful friend of mine from college, working on a build for Habitat for Humanity with our book club, and celebrating our engagement with so many friends and family... it has been so busy that I quite literally had to be SICK to have the time to finally write this post.

Hopefully soon I will have more meaningful and more exciting posts to write... Boston honeymoon should call for good eats AND good running along the Charles River!!!


Tobacco Road Recap

Not sure where to begin on this post. After Chicago I had so much to write because I was so full of frustration. It is true that it is easier to write when you are angry or frustrated or depressed... the words just flow out of you in rivulets of rage, disappointment, or despondency.

But today I write without regrets. I write without saying, well, if I could change that one thing. Or, if I had done that one thing differently... suchnsuch would have happened. Because what happened at Tobacco Road was exactly what I was looking for. This is not to say there are not huge opportunities for improvement (as always) but I am content. Satisfied. Sleepin' easy so to speak.

After Chicago, I made a definitive list of all the things that had held me back and made a PR race still a "disaster" in my memory. Chicago's energy is incredible and the race was an unforgettable experience that is added to the pile of miles that make me the runner that I am. I'm still not even sure what kind of "runner" that is... all I know is that I love that there is a particular scent of cut grass that forcefully pulls me back to oval upon oval on tracks all over the carolinas, or a hot humid morning promises trails and overheated gasps for air, and a certain crispness to the air that sends a chill up my spine as the fall reminds me of nerves and jitters and anxious gun starts. All I know... is that I love running. I love every tiny moment that defines it as separate from any other sport that incorporates the movement. I love the culture of running. The 5 AM political discussions over asphalt. I love the 6 PM rants about work as our legs flail beneath us... I love it all.

In the months leading up to this past Sunday's race, I decided to get back to that sense of love and freedom that running provides. First, I struggled with an injury as I tried to up my mileage and tackle high volume workouts. I got disillusioned and temporarily forgot why I was doing any of this to begin with. I took a huge step back. After a severely painful 16 miler on a random Thursday night, I admitted to myself that I was a little off my path. I stopped counting the mileage I wanted (needed?) before the week began and decided to let the miles add up on their own. I went back to basics. Easy Run. Workout. Recovery Run. Long Run. Run. Run. Run. JUST RUN.

The last few weeks were good weeks of training. I started to feel confident again... I jumped in on a few workouts with friends and ran a 21 miler completely solo start to finish. I continued to think of Tobacco Road as a tune-up for the rest of the season and a "let's just see where I am" race but my mind started to wonder if my ultimate goal was still in reach... I allowed a little teeny sliver of hope in there.

I tapered the week before and mimicked the week before my first marathon in Charlotte where I felt on top of the world in the last 10K. I wanted that feeling again. I hashed out a plan to run easy, 7:00-7:10 for the first 6 miles or so before stepping it down to "race pace" of 6:50. I made a skeleton of a plan of how I would run a sub 3:00. And then I threw a whole new monkey wrench in it... I would leave my watch at home.

This didn't seem like that big of a deal because I rarely wear one while I'm training... but as the race approached it started to feel like a big deal. How was I going to know if I was on pace? How would I know if I went out too fast? How could I possibly know if I wasn't running fast enough? But my faithful copilot in life just told me to relax. The boy convinced me that this would be a meaningful experiment. Funny... he may have run only one marathon, just started seriously enjoying the sport, and has no coaching background whatsoever... but he knows ME. And he knows the ins and outs of my thoughts and hopes and dreams... he knows my anxieties and my frustrations... he knows where my head goes when I'm off pace. He knows it all. And so I listened. And when the air horn blew at the start of the race... I just ran. I didn't press any buttons. Didn't hear any electronic beeps of acknowledgement that it was go time. I just... ran.

The first 3 miles were fast... too fast. I had apparently thrown my skeleton of a plan out the window as well. We averaged 6:36 for the first 7.5 miles according to the splits generated by the electronic timing chip. At 6 miles or so I decided to step it back. I had to literally slow myself down even though the adrenaline had this pace feeling easy peasy... I had to watch the company I was enjoying put distance between us. I had to close my eyes for a minute, and just say to myself, run your race. I watched them run away from me. And I was essentially alone for the remainder of the 20 miles to the finish. I never again had a group to run with on the long stretches of trees and gravel ahead of me. The race became a mental game. I focused. I thought of nothing but one foot in front of the other and gauging distances between myself and the other runners whose time goals I had noted in my head. I was so thankful every 2 miles to have a small but fun group of people cheering us on... but as soon as the water stop was over... I was alone in my head again. At mile 17 I went back to the 21 miler alone and the never-ending nature of a long stretch of Providence road with only cars and fumes for friends. The turnarounds were great opportunities to get my mind off my own running and cheer for all the marathoners and half marathoners along the route. I also was able to get an idea of how far behind the other ladies I was.

Going into mile 20 I was feeling fatigued but still in it. I kept remembering how terrible I felt at mile 20 in Chicago... when I hit mile 18 in Tobacco Road, I forced myself to take my Hammer Gel even though my stomach was saying Hell No. I opened it up and took it without water. I made myself squeeze the revolting paste into my mouth and swallow it down. Chicago was seared in my memory and I wasn't going to let my nutrition trash my race again. At mile 21 I started counting down. 5 to go. 5? What is 5 miles? I told myself I had 5 miles.

Two guys came up behind me and I was thankful to have someone to run with. I urged one of the guys to stay with us as I tried to keep in step with them. I kept the one guy in my sights as we came around the corner to mile 23 where we were back on the roads and the homestretch was ahead of us. The wind and the pain hit me all at once. I upped the intensity in my mental battle. I reloaded the cannons and hunkered down in the trenches. It was not over yet. Mile 24 came and I took to little whimpers and grunts here and there as my legs started to tighten and cramp up. I had passed a few of the guys I had been running with early on in the race and we shared a moment - our legs were cramping, we had all started too fast. Mile 25 came and I just told myself over and over again that one mile was not going to bring me to my knees. That I could run ONE mile. That this was just one mile of many and how angry would I be with myself if I left anything out on this course? I told myself that in one mile, I would be able to celebrate the ending and I wouldn't even remember the pain. I said any amount of pain would be worth it. I fantasized about the finish line... a little oasis of hope in my sea of hurt. I turned the corner and saw the 26 mile flag waving in the breeze... I noticed that I had surprisingly gained significant ground on the 2nd place female and she turned at the .2 to go to look at me. Delirious and completely out of it, I yelled for her to GO and kept pushing. The 13 mile flag waved up ahead, signaling the .1 to go for the half marathoners and full marathoners alike... I was on it in no time and took over the second place spot as I rounded a very tight corner (swinging wide to narrowly miss a couple of half marathon walkers) and sprint-hobbled into the finish. The time on the clock clicked by 2:59------- something. All I knew was that I had it. It wasn't until the final stretch when the red numbers registered in my brain that I knew I had done it. I knew it was over. I went immediately into the defensive, spent runner stance - hands on knees, head toward the ground. I stood up, congratulated the 3rd place girl on her amazing first marathon and found my way to the love of my life. And he held me while my body went limp and I sobbed like the emotional person that I am. Exhausted by the effort. Exhausted by the joy and relief. Exhausted by the pain coursing through my legs.

The watchless race proved to me that I am capable. That this is what I should be doing. That running is still pure and still meaningful and still necessary to me.

Later on that day I got to look up my splits and for the first time ever, they were a complete surprise and mystery to me...

Final time: 2:59:22
Final place: 2nd Female, 27th overall



It is 5:27 in the morning. I am actually early.

Imagine that.

I went through a period for a month and a half or so where I really despised running in the morning. I would wake up groggily, rub my eyes, scrunch them tightly closed again, curl deeper into a ball in bed and wish away my alarm. I would end up squeezing a run in the evening and then a cycle would start - I ran late at night so I wouldn't necessarily want to run early early in the morning and so on and so forth. I am trying to put this little period of procrastination behind me for a while. as my running partner put it this morning, "At least it's not freezing, if it were cold I would have told you no last night."

Yea... that's the other problem. I still have a certain fear of running alone uptown in the dark. Therefore, I need to reach out and establish some running partners as early as possible to ensure I will not end up on the treadmill the next morning.

So last night at 10:43 pm I started looking around for anyone needing miles in the morning. I had almost resigned myself to the gym when I got a text back:

"When & where?"

Love it. Truly.

We settled on Old Bell entrance to McAlpine - the old tried and true.

I got out of the car when the headlights flooded my side mirrors... looked into the car at the little white, wiry furball popping it's head up in between the seats. The jack russell was joining us for this early morning jaunt and just the sight of her perky little ears and bright, beady eyes made me smile. My running partner told me she woke up at 3:45 am wondering why on earth she had made that commitment at 11 o'clock at night... but by a minute into the run, she knew. And I knew. And the dog definitely knew.

Because this is what we long for. This is what makes us human and whole. Running does not rule our lives with an iron fist - but it guides us and nourishes us with friendship, challenge, and discipline. It teaches us about priorities, dedication, and the fine line between passion and obsession.

We were running back down the long straightaway towards the cars and the night was beginning to think about lifting. The moon was looming round and full, encircled by a pink haze - an island in the deep dark horizon. We respectfully turned out our headlamps to soak in the beauty of the moment and I knew this was just one more reminder of why I do this - why I put one step in front of the other when most of the world is still snuggled close to blankets and sheets or their loved one or the rascal of a pet that lulls them into a lazy morning trance.


it continues.

It has been a while.

I just spent the last half hour reading through my running log from a year ago. I realized that things are somewhat the same and yet somehow so much better now. On paper (or, on screen) I look so much stronger in February 2010. My weekly mileage is up, my pace is quick... but I was on a slippery slope and I was dead before the ship even sank.

It is a full year after I struggled through one of my first REAL injuries... one that put me back for months on end and played a heavy role in my weakness at Chicago last Fall. I am still struggling with days of not being able to run for this reason or that reason - but I am not injured. I have the whole year ahead of me. I have a marathon in 4 weeks and have done slim to none long tempos... but I am injury free.

My running partners and I chatted at length last night while cruising the streets of Dilworth about the merits of running for running's sake. And that the true goal of a training plan should be to NOT get injured because it defeats the whole purpose.

This I am taking to heart.

You can skip this next part if you'd like, as the boy would say, who are you trying to convince? Me? Or yourself? I am stepping back and yet I feel like I am stepping forward at the same time - I never have been one for high mileage and I don't expect this to change. I may want it to change. There may or may not be a part of me that secretly longs to have at least a 65 mile week in my books let alone 80. But there is a huge, overwhelming majority of the other parts of my body that never allow this to happen. Maybe someday. But for now - I am really and truly going to focus on keeping my body fresh and pouring quality upon quality into my mileage. I want to do more workouts - less junk miles for the sake of miles. I would believe I should take a full day off when I need it rather than push myself through a mediocre 8 mile run that leaves me frustrated and angry (frangry for short).

With that out of the way, I have some exciting prospects for this season. Running and training with the One2Tri team with some fantastic training partners. Completing my first triathlon (albeit very short). Getting back on some trails in the River Bound series. Racing one of the most loved marathons in the whole big wide great huge small world - NYC in November. I have many miles to go before I sleep and I am actually looking forward to them.

As far as my palate goes - the true reason for me beginning this blog in the first place... well. I have been climbing that nonstop mountain of JOY for quite a while. The boy's cooking continues to amaze me and I am finally settling into a place where I feel comfortable in our kitchen behind the stove as well. We've come up with this kind of rhythm in our lives... his cooking and our kitchen at the heart of it all. People always ask how it is possible that we do not have television. And I just can't fathom when we would actually watch it. The little "cooking noises" that wrap me up and rock me into a kind of sweet serenity - tongs snapping, oil spitting, the oven door opening and closing, water running, feet moving, the spoon hitting the spoonrest - these sounds are my music. My backbone to my day. My spine of love.

His soundtrack is my voice. He promises he loves it. It all started with my usual, "Oh, you've got to hear this." And it has organically grown into something of its own. We first read Same Kind of Different as Me from Ron Hall and Denver Moore. This inspired us to get in contact with and support the Urban Ministry of Charlotte which coincidentally is not more than 10 minutes from where we lay our heads at night. It encouraged us to engage in discussions with friends and family about the situation of Charlotte's homeless and to truly open our eyes and hearts when encountering these men and women on the streets. Then we started Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. When a new one comes in, we catch up on the global news from the latest publication of The Economist. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle has made quite an impact on our thoughts on everything from American agribusiness to the merits of dinnertable discussions. We finally stopped being lazy and checked out the local farmer's markets (of which, there are plenty in Charlotte). We have now found local oyster mushrooms that pair perfectly with pearl onions, pickles that are a nice addition to the usual cheese plate, yogurt that beats the bacterial pants off chobani, and spinach that makes harris teeter's supply look like child's play.

As for my running and eating life in a nutshell/clamshell/baked shell - I am in heaven.