Sometimes the hardest part of a run is getting your sneakers on. You know, just finding the time and the motivation to get out and get it done. Often, that first mile just feels endless as tight muscles loosen and lungs gasp to find their rhythm. I’ve learned to endure these sensations, knowing that it’s going to get better, easier, less painful. And it does if I push through and keep going.
There’s a lesson in that which goes far beyond feet and pavement.
Many runs are less traumatic to the body. They’re just an opportunity to exercise your limbs and your muscles and they provide a certain sense of satisfaction and accomplishment upon completion. I have a lot of those runs recorded in my Runmeter app. I consider them standard.
Once in a while, though, you hit a run when everything is perfect. You’re with one of the few people in the world that you enjoy running with. The weather is ideal, with a light breeze, warm sun and shade just when you need it. The air smells incredible wafting around your head with the earthy smell of the Hudson softened by the fragrance of the last of the lilacs. The path feels flat and smooth under your feet and all you can do is smile as your legs and lungs unite to set a pace as one you feel you could maintain for countless miles.
I had that kind of run yesterday – all the way to Troy
I’m still smiling.
When Chrissy and I registered and participated in this race last year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. It wasn’t until after I committed to the event that I read online that this particular course is considered to be the most technical trail race in New England. It was probably best that I didn’t know that ahead of time because without a doubt, Seven Sisters is the hardest race I’ve ever run. My body literally hurt for days, including in previously unimaginable places like my forearms. (That was from holding my arms up at an angle to protect myself in case of a fall.) The course for those unfamiliar is absolutely insane. There are rocks to climb, trails covered in hunks of shale to maneuver and, thanks to all the recent rain, an impressive amount of mud to slide through. The morning started with rain, but by race time all that remained was a balmy humidity and quiet enthusiasm.
Unlike last year, I knew what to expect this time around. As I slipped and slid through a quagmire, I did so with a smile on my face. It struck me that this race was like childbirth – afterwards you forget how frigging hard it was and sign up to do it again. If you ever would have told me that I would willingly run 12 miles of muddy trails up and down mountains, much less pay for the opportunity to do it, I would have told you that you were crazy. Seeing that I’ve done this event twice now, I guess we now know who is crazier.
One of the more tame trails.
When you run trails as challenging as these, attention to the task at hand has to be focused. Seriously, you can not look around and check out the scenery because your concentration has to be on your feet. There are uncountable ways to break an ankle or take a finish preventing spill and I was lucky to escape with only a bruise on the top of my foot, an injury that occurred early in the race and was forgotten by the second mile. I managed to stay on my feet the entire race and believe, from the comments I received from my fellow runners, that had there been an award for grace and poise I would have been a contender. I certainly wasn’t in the running for any speed awards, but my goal time in this kind of race is “uninjured,” with a casual goal of beating our time from last year, which we did by 7 minutes.
On the top. Sort of.
Two days later, stairs are painful and I’m very much looking forward to my late afternoon massage. The intensity of the hills is beginning to fade, the mud has been washed from my clothing and I’ve joked that perhaps we need to do the race again next year with a go-pro to document how rugged the course is and what bad asses we are. Maybe we’ll even PR again.
I know there’s some kind of Jersey saying about gym, tan and something else, but I’m a New York girl, not a New Jersey one, so my trio of activities is a bit different.
First, I took a run. In all honesty, I wasn’t too excited about getting outside again not knowing what the weather was going to bring after a morning that included heavy, wet snow. I motivated myself with the knowledge that this very day might be the only day in my entire life that I would have this opportunity. I was rewarded for my commitment to living when the sky got blue and it became warmer than it had been in days. I hit it just right.
My plan was to follow the wall around the oldest part of the city. I went in a clockwise direction, which eased me into things by beginning in a downhill direction. Keeping the wall to my right, I circled the oldest parts of this beautiful city, pausing to pet a puppy or take a photo when I found it necessary. The route took me past the hauptbahnhof, through grassy paths and across water. It was a run that will stay with me even though my running app neglected to record it.
After the run, I gave Quinn the secret code word to gain access to the hotel room, grabbed my swimsuit and went to the sauna. God, I love a sauna! That dry heat just does it for me and even though I was decidedly overdressed, I thoroughly enjoyed stretching out and taking a little time to relax. Someday I may get beyond my American puritanical sensibilities and go bare, but I’m just not there.
My final stop was the hotel bar for a beer to bring to our room. The Franziskaner Weissbier provided the perfect buzz and I’m feeling remarkably mellow. Vacation and its magical combination of getting away, yet being in the moment, is really working for me. Life is good and I know how lucky I am to have this life. Next up, yet another S – soccer. Go Bayern Munchen!
Sleeping like a baby, post-ski.
After a couple of lackluster seasons of cross country skiing, March has been redemptive and the timing couldn’t have been better. For me, that is. On Sunday, March 10, I ran a half marathon under challenging conditions. The next day I recovered with a 90 minute massage and the day after that we received 20″ of snow. I haven’t run since, choosing instead to step into my skis and explore Capital Hills with Jeter. It’s been phenomenal.
Skiing the golf course is one of my favorite ways to spend a couple of hours and I’m pretty confident that I know that land better than a lot of people. Over the years I’ve explored much of the course and have some favorite trails. I’ve also learned which parts of the course get the most sun at different times of the day and know to expect icy conditions under the evergreens. I think of Capital Hills as my winter backyard and I just love it.
The skiing last week was epic. While the depth of the snow immediately following the storm prevented Jeter and I from going too far, as the week went on, we began to extend our treks. Thanks to the clock change, daylight extended into the evening and Jeter and I enjoyed the outdoors until nearly 7 p.m. The wooded trails have been particularly scenic and I found it completely possible to forget that I was in a city as I glided through the untouched forest solo. Magical.
Jeter loves the snow, but it was so very deep that I was concerned about him overexerting himself on our first couple of outings. As the snow became more packed over the week, we began stretching our loops out covering more ground. There was a new trail that beckoned, a number of comical falls and more than a few moments of absolute exhilaration. The almost spring sun made the snow sparkle and glitter, dazzling me into near blindness.
There wasn’t a single second that I wished I was anywhere else. While I welcome spring, I’m going to miss winter.
Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, Exercise, favorites, Local, Normanskill, skiing, snow, Spring, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
We got a lot of snow last week, more snow than I’ve seen in a few years. As I got ready for bed more than 48 hours after the snow first began, I could still hear snow removal happening – blowers and plows and trucks battling the nearly two feet of powdery whiteness. It was truly awesome.
On Tuesday evening, the first night of the storm, when I cross-country skied from the DelSo to Center Square, it was much more quiet. There were few cars on the road and I was able to ski right down Delaware Avenue, switching from side to side as the occasional vehicle approached. The skiing was great. The powdery snow offered no resistance and the wind failed to live up to its reputation. I was smiling at least as much as the people I encountered along my way. For some reason folks always seem amused by the sight of a person cross-country skiing on city streets.
Less amused were the drivers of the cars (and buses) that were stuck along my way. I’ve never seen so many vehicles stuck – it was unbelievable. Without exaggeration, there more than a half dozen cars being pushed on Lark Street alone. It was a mess.
There have been a lot of complaints about the snow removal, or lack thereof. As a city resident who lives on a street that seems to fall pretty low on list of priorities, I understand the frustration. Arcadia Avenue was barely plowed and even now, nearly a week later, parking is compromised and we’re voluntarily still leaving our cars on a single side of the street.
There are claims that some streets were given preferential treatment, I understand there’s even a video supporting that claim. I don’t know. There was a lot of snow. No matter how many plows there were, there weren’t enough. People worked really hard. The snow was relentless. It was definitely snowverwhelming.
Filed under Albany, Delaware Avenue, DelSo, Exercise, Local, skiing, snow, Uncategorized, upstate New York, winter, x-country skiing
Yesterday was a day I was not looking forward to – the forecast for frigid weather, the loss of an hour, the long bus ride… I had a few moments when I even considered bailing on the half marathon I had committed to running, but I dug deep and found the motivation to get my a** out of bed and over to East Greenbush to meet the bus that had been organized to take a couple of dozen runners to Rock Hill, N. Y. for the Celebrate Life Half Marathon. I’m glad I did.
I don’t know when I started to get blasé about running 13.1 miles, but somehow it happened. When my Lunar B*tch Karen asked if I was interested in running this particular race, I don’t think I even looked at the course or hesitated. Bundle in the fact that the race is a fundraiser to support those struggling with cancer and I was all in.
The weather forecast for the race changed at least three times in the week prior to the run – from rain to cloudy and finally, to plain old cold. Like, really cold. Single digits cold. The morning of the run I dressed in a single layer on the bottom and 3 layers on the top, and boarding the bus with an assortment of additional UnderArmor items in a bag. Can I tell you how different activities are when you have the right clothes? There’s a reason I troll Marshall’s for running gear, people!
The bus ride was great – a pleasant ride through beautiful scenery and well worth the $25. As we drove along in our warm bus it was easy to forget how truly cold it was outside those windows. Once we were parked, though, the bitter temperatures slapped me in the face and reminded me what I’d be facing for the next couple of hours. I picked up my race packet and started layering up eventually going with 2 bottom layers, 4 layers on top finished with a vest, 2 pairs of gloves and a fleece hat that velcroed under my chin that I am so glad I tossed in at the last minute. I was as ready as I was ever going to be!
We started at 10:00 a.m. I didn’t know it at the time, but the temperature was 5 degrees. The wind chill brought it down to -4. My ignorance was bliss. The first mile was brutal – the wind was blowing and my nose was running like mad. My face hurt and I was almost overwhelmed by the thought of another 2+ hours in those conditions, but that first hill warmed me up a bit and my playlist was great. I settled into a comfortable pace and started to enjoy the challenge.
The course was beautiful, circling around a couple of small lakes and reminiscent of my hometown. There were some hills for sure and the lakeside pieces were definitely cold, but the sun was shining and I eventually warmed up enough to unfasten my hat’s chinstrap and remove both layers of gloves for a short time. The body is an amazing thing.
Towards the end of my run, as the hills continued unrelentingly, I started to think of people I care for who have struggled with cancer and I ran for them. When my phone died at 12.89 miles, I kept running without music, but with heart, eventually finishing in 2:25 with a deep sense of satisfaction and sore feet. Like life, it felt like something to celebrate.
Yeah, you. My reader. It’s been more than 7 years, 2 domains and a divorce since DelSo was born. Over the years I’ve shared a lot of my life and self here, in print. You, as a reader, have come to know me on some level from my words. What makes you return here (assuming you’re not new around these parts) and read what I write? Let me remind you of some of what I’ve related to you in the hope that you might feel inclined to share with me – who you are, reader? Why are you here?
There have been so many miles – more plane rides than I could have ever imagined, along with runs and races and road trips. I’ve explored cities with my boys and my girlfriends and solo. My feet have run in a half dozen different countries and probably about the same number of states.
My home has evolved from a house with two full-time parents to one of three part-time children. There have been physical improvements, rooms repurposed and painted, new rugs and furniture rearranged. It feels different. After a refinance or two, I know it’s mine.
I’ve written about books I’ve read and movies and concerts I’ve seen. Increasingly, politics and my dismay with our current leadership have been topics I’ve felt compelled to write about.
My children and the challenges of being a parent frequently provide fodder for posts. While the joys outweigh the frustrations, parenthood remains a roller coaster ride that keeps me on the edge of my seat with a scream threatening to escape. It’s a heart racing ride.
Sometimes I cook or bake and post recipes and photos of the fruits of my labors. Food and wine are a big part of my life and I’ve happily shared my experiences with you. Oh – and there’s that wine bar that I own.
There have been times when I wrote with sadness or anger, but I think I mostly write from a place of understanding and acceptance. Balance and moderation are woven throughout much of what I write.
Health and wellness have been covered and the miracle of menopause has been mentioned. The heartbreak of addiction and the threat of cancer have been present. I’ve learned to ski and have found bliss in pigeon pose in a room heated to 100+ degrees.
It’s all here – my life. Not perfect, not necessarily what I ever imagined it to be, but a life that I feel grateful for in a city that I have come to love.
Will you tell me why you visit my life?
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