Many months ago, I stated my intentions to run After the Leaves Have Fallen, my first half marathon. Now I know there are some people who don’t follow through on intentions, but, that’s not my way. I said it, I meant it and I was committed to doing it, despite the fact that I recently bought a wine bar and was now working 60+ hours week, a situation which really impeded my ability to run (or sleep) with any frequency.
Last Sunday, at the reasonable hour of 11:00 a.m., I found myself at the starting line in Minnewaska State Park, along with presumably 349 other runners. Yes, it’s a small race with only 350 entrants accepted. My personal preference is for small races and this one certainly met that criteria. I also don’t like spending a lot on entry fees, and, again this race was on point with a more than reasonable $15 price, which included a really cool pint glass.
While I’ve never officially run this race before, I have spent a little time on the trails and I kind of knew it was going to be a challenging run. There are some intense hills with significant elevation, and I was feeling undernourished and fatigued, even though I did remember to bring my handheld water bottle and a stash of jelly beans. Ultimately, though, I’m kind of stubborn, so I muscled through knowing the pain, which primarily radiated from the ball of my left foot, would definitely be offset by the incredible beauty of the course – which it absolutely was. If you’ve never been down that way, be it to walk, ride, run or ski, you really need to make it a goal destination. It’s spectacular.
So, I ended up walking a little along the way, but eventually finished in about 2:25, a decent enough time. The afternoon was enhanced by the presence of my friend, James, who always seems to bolster me through arduous events with his assertion that “this isn’t an easy race.” Next year we’re doing it together.
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.
The last time I ran up, and I do mean up, at Thacher Park was over the summer during ARE’s trail series. The weather was fine and the people were nice, but the course began with a murderous hill which made me a bit cranky. I don’t mind hills*, but, please let me work up to them!
Last Sunday’s Squirrelly Six caught me a little unprepared. You know, the week you open a restaurant and work 6 consecutive days/nights may not be the right time to register to run six miles through the woods, but there I was, nonetheless, at 9:30 in the morning at the starting line. The weather had been a concern since rain was in the forecast and I was worried it might be kind of cold. We (my Lunar Girls were there, too!) totally lucked out with a mostly dry run through some fresh mud from the previous night’s showers in an almost balmy 50’ish . Mud is fun, though and I nailed it when it came to running attire, luckily selecting layers which kept me comfortable for the duration.
I’ve done this race, I think, 3 consecutive years and the course which debuted this year was my absolute favorite. The trails were mostly fairly wide with limited hills and the vista was spectacular. No, really – it was a stunning morning with peak foliage and a mood enhancing layer of fog in the valley. I was unable to resist stopping twice to snap a couple of pictures because it was that scenic. It was an absolutely beautiful run and the perfect personal reward at the end of a long week.
Next up – After the Leaves Have Fallen in early November. It’s a bit more than twice the distance which means it should be at least twice as fun, right?
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!
I’ve been going through a Stevie Nicks/Fleetwood Mac phase. It was prompted by the book I’m currently reading, a Stevie Nicks biography. The book is no where near the quality of the music I’ve been listening to on my Fleetwood Mac Pandora station, but I have learned a few new things about one of my teenaged music heroines.
My fondness for Stevie and “The Mac’, as the author insists upon calling them, isn’t a recent thing. Rumours was my very first favorite album and I recall both Bella Donna and Wild Heart getting a lot of play on my Walkman. It was definitely about the music initially but over the years, the lyrics have made an equally strong impression upon me.
Running today, the songs went directly to a place deep inside me. I thought about what’s going on in my life and how sometimes we need to hear that it’s ok to go your own way. Time keeps moving and sometimes we need to change directions. Love is only one fine star away.