The first time I remember wanting to be a runner I was about 12 or 13. It seemed like such a cool thing to do – put your sneakers on and a pair of nylon, fluorescent colored shorts (it was the 80s) and just GO. I was infatuated with the idea, but, as I’ve come to learn about romantic infatuations, the reality didn’t measure up to the fantasy.
It was early fall and dark in the morning when I left my house to run down the dirt road we lived on. The air was fresh, but my gasping made my lungs feel tight not wonderfully expanded as I had imagined. The distance I attempted, perhaps a third of a mile, felt endless and I found myself walking, not running. I gave up. Obviously, running was not going to be my sport.
35 years later, I’m registered to run a trail half marathon this weekend. How did that happen?
- I learned that sometimes small steps, be it at a walking stride or a running pace, are the way to make progress.
- I realized that running is a challenge that I find satisfying. It feels good to push myself.
- I’ve accepted that there are some runs that turn into walks and that that’s ok. Life isn’t a race and I am committed to enjoying the journey.
- I have a posse of running friends who inspire and encourage me.
- I now know that for every step which feels difficult, there are 10 steps that feel amazing. I’m no mathematical genius, but that adds up for me in a positive way.
- Most importantly, while I didn’t initially know how hard running was going to be, I also had no idea how incredibly happy a good run would make me feel.
- I know now. I’m a runner.
Filed under aging, beauty, Exercise, friends, girlhood, musings, Observations, road trips, running, Uncategorized, upstate New York
I tried a new Pandora station for yesterday’s afternoon run – Alabama Shakes radio. It opened with an Amy Winehouse song and never looked back. Good stuff. When the first Alabama Shakes’ song, Always Alright, came on, it took me immediately back to Silver Linings Playbook, a movie (and book) I absolutely loved.
I started thinking about when I saw the Shakes back in June at Mountain Jam and how, as I was photographing the band for the Times Union, I was approached by a woman who requested that I share some of my photos with her. It turns out this woman, a hair stylist, had done the lead singer Brittany Howard’s hair that morning and was hoping to get some good images to help promote her business. Of course, I complied and emailed her a number of jpegs a few days later.
I wondered how I had ever created a life in which I occasionally get to take pictures of famous people. I mean, really? How friggin lucky am I? I thought about The Shakes, and the presence of their music in a Bradley Cooper/Jennifer Lawrence film, and considered how much I enjoy the talents of each of them. I shook my head in amazement that I could probably play Six Degrees of Separation and get to Bradley Cooper. It made me smile – despite the bag of dog poop I was toting.
Speaking of which, sometimes it feels like I’m closer to Bradley Cooper than I am to a trash receptacle when it comes to running my regular 5-mile loop. While I thoroughly enjoy the thought of having a connection to the very handsome Mr. Cooper, I think I’d be even happier if there were more trash cans available along Whitehall Road and New Scotland Avenue.
Seeing that this is probably my last free weekend for the foreseeable future, I decided to indulge myself. While there are times when that could mean shopping or a pedicure, Saturday it meant taking a run, and on such a beautiful day, with a trail half marathon coming in up in less than a month, a long one at that.
My original intention was to do a loop that I’ve done in the past. At about 8 miles, the route goes out Delaware to Whitehall to New Scotland into Slingerlands before getting back on Delaware and back to the DelSo. I really don’t care for the piece which goes along the by-pass between the traffic circle and Kenwood so I decided to run past the circle and jump onto the Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail for a bit to avoid it. But, once I got on the trail, and it was so nice out and the trail was so sweet, I just couldn’t stop myself – I took it to the very end (as in South End) and eventually back up McCarty for a total of just under 13 miles aka almost a half marathon!
The trail was pretty spectacular, especially on a fall day. The surface changes from dirt and grass to stone to blacktop over the distance and there were so many gorgeous views that I’ve never seen from that particular perspective, like the Normanskill with some real activity and the underside of both the 9W and NYS Thruway bridges. I can’t wait to get back on it with the Lunar Girlz, in part because there were a couple of parts which felt pretty remote, but mostly because it was so damn pretty. I think I’d only enjoy it more with some company.
The same day I’ll be running the After the Leaves Have Fallen, they’re taking on the Stockadathon. Here’s hoping for good, fun races to all. Any chance of seeing you at a starting line soon?
While my focus these days is on looking forward, I want to take a moment to reflect upon my success in achieving some intentions I stated months ago when 10 weeks of summer loomed on the horizon. So, let’s see…how did I do?
Well, 4 of the items I didn’t even come close to. I don’t know where the time went, but I never got down to Nine-Pin, nor to a Soul Kitchen dinner. I do hope to feature Nine-Pin at Lark + Lily, though, and now that there’s been a schedule change and the boys are at my house Mondays, maybe we can all go to dinner together. Let’s call it a work in progress.
The Catskills day hike is still a possibility. I’m sure it will be lovely in the fall and I could probably redefine that slightly into a trail run with my iPhone, right? I didn’t have dinner at 15 Church, but I did have a lovely glass of wine paired with some tasty tuna tacos on their gorgeous patio. It’s a start. Another A for effort situation would be my attendance at the summer trail run series. I didn’t quite make it to half of them (5 of 14), but I did do a Monday evening group run, bringing me up nearly to my goal of 50%. I can live with that.
Paddle boarding, a small party on the deck and destination Hudson all were achieved. I’m working my way through The Sopranos and made it through season one of Girls, so I’m catching up with the rest of the universe culturally, I suppose. There was an excellent, albeit scorching hot, getaway with the girls to the city and I most definitely enjoyed this last summer of having all three of my children around. Success!
The backyard became my middle son’s opus and he did a remarkable job cutting down overgrown weeds and vines and filled bags and bags with the evidence of his labor. We now have a clean slate to work with – next summer. It s a similar situation inside my house in the spare room. I’ve eliminated some items and can now repurpose the room as a true guest room/office, but it really still lacks an identity or any style.
My biggest fail is the lack of effort on my part to help with a meal at the Ronald McDonald house. This is something I really want to participate in, but I just haven’t put any attention into it. Not to make excuses, but, my focus for the last 2 months was on an item which wasn’t even on my list – putting together a restaurant. That’s getting closer every day. I hope your intention is to come and enjoy a glass of wine and a bite to eat!
Swag that glows in the dark? Yes, please!
Driving through 3 states to bring one’s child to school would probably constitute as a full enough day for most, but, you know me, always looking to kick it up a notch. The four-mile Moonlight in Vermont race provided the perfect opportunity to extend Saturday right into Sunday, and got me into my 4th state in 24 hours. That sounds like a win, right?
I rendezvoused with the other two lunar b*tches in a random Troy parking lot (naturally) at 10:30 pm, which gave us plenty of time to get to the starting line by midnight. Yes, I said midnight. Doesn’t running 4 miles in the dark in the middle of nowhere in Vermont sound like fun?
The drive actually took less time than we had expected which left plenty of time for us to pick up our swag, wonder if we were dressed warmly enough (we were) and run into the aforementioned Grace, a woman I had worked with many years ago at Yono’s. If you had told me 20 years ago that Grace and I would both be running a race at midnight in Vermont, I would have called you crazy. Who’s crazy now?
The run was fabulous! The first two miles seemed to be entirely downhill on a combination of paved and dirt roads. There were luminaria lining our path, along with runners in tricked out bling, to add to the light of the gorgeous moon. The scenery, even in the dark, was beautiful like a black and white photograph with random colorization. The hills up were brutal, and the limited light demanded a cautious pace, but the air was fresh and there wasn’t any other place that I wanted to be.
It was the perfect way to both end and begin a day. Check this one out for next year!
It’s funny how sometimes two beloved things just don’t work together. For instance, I love ice cream and I love chocolate but I just don’t care for chocolate ice cream. At all. This weird contradictory condition, I’ve learned, also holds true for two of my favorite activities – yoga and paddle boarding.
Earlier this week I headed out to Provincetown for a 9:00 a.m. SUP yoga class at Provincetown Aqua Sports. I had booked and paid for the class online the previous evening and was excited to try something new. Provincetown is lovely in the early morning with plenty of available parking and I arrived at the business in good time. I paid my (petty) $2 fee to rent a locker, got my (mandatory) life vest and joined the other 3 class attendees and the 2 instructors on the beach behind Commercial Street.
There was a brief stretch/warm up before we launched along with general instructions for those inexperienced with paddle boarding. A short time later we headed out into the harbor for class. The tide was fairly low, but the current was swift moving us quickly from east to west. The approach was to paddle to the right and work on our poses as we were propelled by the water to the left. It was somewhat challenging, but I guess I like to work out a little harder. I probably need to just relax a little, right?
I’ve played around with yoga poses in the past on a paddle board and have always dumped when attempting a one-legged downward dog or a side plank. This class did give me a technique to avoid that, specifically moving my foot to the center of the board to maintain balance. That alone made the class worthwhile and I will continue working on my practice on my own board, in my own time. While this class wasn’t really for me I did enjoy my post-class breakfast – a coffee and cinnamon roll from the Portuguese Bakery.
Have any of you taken a SUP yoga class? How did it add up for you?
Since I first became infatuated with Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) last year, I’ve sought out opportunities to indulge my urge to be on the water paddling to my heart’s content. In July I had a great time in my hometown with friends tooling around the lake on a windy afternoon in kayaks and on board. This month I got on board in Cape Cod and experienced entirely new conditions and scenery. Let me tell you about it…
On Friday I picked up two paddle boards (along with leashes, paddles and a life vest) from Jack’s. Although they originally couldn’t commit to renting them to me for three days due to scheduling conflicts, ultimately they extended my one-day rental into a three-day at a cost of $127 per board total. We spent two days paddling around at the beach at the end of our road on Lieutenant’s Island. At high tide the tidal marsh fills in and it was quite an adventure to paddle through the tall grasses spying on birds and taking random turns going deeper into the marsh.
On the third day, we put in at the bridge down the road a bit. Again, the tide was high and we actually launched from the side of the road a few hundred yards before the bridge. As Quinn and a gang of other kids jumped from the bridge, we paddled to join him. Going under the bridge took some attention, but the allure of the bay made it a worthwhile effort and we enjoyed the peace of the open water. We headed towards “our” beach but turned around as I had a moment of feeling the need to check in with my jumper.
Assured that all was fine, we again went under the bridge (easier the second time around) and explored the salt marsh taking advantage of the unique view of the island. Aloysius and I then went our separate ways, he heading back towards the car and me ducking under that bridge one last time to take the long paddle to the beach.
I love the independence of being out on the water, pacing myself and feeling the sun on my shoulders and the salt air in my face. If you haven’t already, try it. Stand up paddle boarding – it is what’s up!