Here are some photos from my recent trip to the desert. I’m already looking at the calendar for Christmas 2019. I need to get back there again to spend time with someone I dearly love and to soak in more of this beauty.
Tag Archives: running
The other afternoon I hit the hills for a hike/run. The sun was warm and I was comfortable in a tank top and capri length pants – a treat to someone who has been layering up in UnderArmour for the past couple of months.
I made it up the first long, steep hill without pause, using my technique of only looking up to the top of the hill once before training my gaze to the ground more immediately in front of me. I find this A. helps me to not get intimidated by how much farther I have to go and B. limits my likelihood of tripping and falling down.
The next hill leveled me. Hands on knees, gasping, I took a moment to look around. The San Jacinto mountains divided the horizon between sky and desert and I was struck by my incredible good fortune. I got to be here, right now, stretching my legs and challenging myself by running up a friggin killer hill in the sunshine. How lucky was I?
As my breathing evened out, I considered that in 2018 I’ve run surrounded by some pretty incredible mountain views – Vesuvius, the Austrian Alps and now these brown mountains dusted with snow in the distance. My eyes welled up and a tear leaked out before I burst out laughing. What a gift, what a life, what a day.
I took a deep breath and started running again.
Despite having returned in recent months to therapy, I still find running solo to be the best way to stretch my brain (and legs) while exploring my world, both inner and outer. It’s when I feel most able to release the leash I at times hold on my thoughts.
I’ve been reflecting, as one does this time of year, and I’ve been thinking specifically about the men I’ve loved over the years and how those relationships changed me and impacted my life. Without a doubt, each one has been unique. It seems that love, like snowflakes to go with a nearly-winter theme, is never quite the same twice. That’s probably what keeps us coming back for more – we often don’t immediately recognize it because it sneaks up on us just as often as it sweeps us off of our feet.
Some of the lasting reminders of a love affair are obvious (hello, children!) while others are only revealed cryptically to those beyond IRL friends. While there have been gifts and lessons and disappointments along the way, I’m starting to realize that the greatest impact on me from my romantic history hasn’t really been on me at all.
No, instead, it’s about how I’ve learned from each relationship, each love, how to be a better love-r the next time. I have an improved understanding of humans and how we each have our own unique needs, needs which aren’t always easily or clearly expressed. I’ve become more patient with another’s flaws because I can more clearly see my own. Instead of immediately thinking that someone’s behavior is directed at me, I’ve finally grasped that it just might be who they are without really having anything to do with me at all. I’ve certainly learned what I want from a relationship but, just as importantly, I’ve realized that being willing to learn what another wants, and finding happiness in being able to provide that to them, comes with its own measure of satisfaction.
Being someone’s girlfriend, partner, wife or lover has maximized my capacity to fill those roles. Understanding that love doesn’t necessarily come with a guarantee of happily ever after can be daunting, but knowing that there’s always another chance to be the best love-r you’ve ever been is its own reward. I’ll just keep trying. How about you?
Do I look like a desert girl to you? I said desert, not dessert, folks… As a fair skinned, half Irish person, I never imagined that I would be so captivated by the desert, specifically Palm Springs, but I absolutely love it there. There’s something about the dry heat, spectacular mountains and clear, cool nights that keeps me coming back for more and I’m excited to be visiting a close friend who lives there soon.
Have you been there? It truly is a desert oasis – gorgeous homes, beautiful people and a climate that during the winter and spring months offers fantastic running in the hills surrounding the city. Palm Springs is the place where I ate my first Mexican food and drank my first margarita, which obviously makes it forever special. I’ve also taken the aerial tramway to the top of the San Jacintos for a “hike,” spent a significant amount of time hanging out poolside, and, way back in the day, went as close to clubbing as I’ve ever been. It’s a fun, cool town and I’m looking forward to getting back there this winter.
Now, here’s where you come in – beyond the experiences I’ve already enjoyed in PS, what should I do when I’m there? I’ve been drawn to a mid-century modern aesthetic in recent years and am thinking that an architectural house tour might be fun. Have you ever done that there? The last time I was in Palm Springs I found a nice little hot yoga studio that I may hit up again, but maybe you have a recommendation for a place for a challenging class or two, preferably not Bikram? There seem to be hot springs in the area and I would love to soak outdoors in some hot and bubbly water. Suggestions? And, lastly, maybe you’ve been to the surrounding area? What else should I try to see when I’m there?
While I don’t expect I’ll ever be blasé about running 13.1 miles, I do feel increasingly comfortable with the distance. I won’t say it’s easy, but it a manageable distance that challenges without much post-race discomfort.
Yesterday, I ran my 10th half, an accomplishment I never could have predicted when I did my first in 2016. This particular race was scheduled perfectly for my life, in that it was in Syracuse, where my brother lives, and on his birthday, which made it the ideal weekend destination.
I went into the race feeling ok about my conditioning, but not necessarily as well trained as I was for last month’s Newport Half. I anticipated some hills, which would slow down my pace, but hadn’t imagined the picturesque snow falling from the sky and completing the pretty, nearly winter conditions. It was cool and appropriate for snowy Syracuse.
The route began and finished at the OnCenter. The miles in between were primarily residential neighborhoods with some business/commercial areas thrown into the mix. The crowds were fun and supportive, especially in the early miles. For me, the last couple of miles were less than spectacular in terms of scenery and performance, but I pushed through and crossed the finish line in 2:14:17 – a new PR to best my Newport PR of 2:17:01.
I had kind of given up on ever completing a half in less than 2:15, so I’m thrilled with my time and super proud that I seem to be getting faster, not older.* The yoga class I took on Saturday, before we headed to Syracuse, definitely helped me physically and mentally. During the times when I felt most tired, I worked to release tension or tightening in all of my muscles which were not being put to use to propel me forward. Gripped fists? Let them go. Facial grimace? Smile. Weight of the world on my shoulders? Shrug it off. Thanks, Samara!
My race calendar is, sadly, pretty blank other than next month’s Last Run, but I’m looking at a few new events for 2019. Any favorite 1/2 marathon courses you might recommend?
*Credit for this wise statement goes to a special friend who joined me for the weekend. He’s smart, right?
The weekend has been the quintessential October weekend in New York’s Hudson Valley, by my definition. There were chores and errands, sports, a couple of movies, and a home cooked meal or two that featured intensely seasonal food like squash and pumpkin. It felt restorative.
The sports were a balance between being a spectator and a participant, and both were exciting. Saturday night, Albany High’s Varsity Falcons took on Niskayuna in sectional soccer playoffs and it was a nail biter. The game was a slow starter and went to 14:53 of the second overtime period before being decided 3-2 (Nisky). It was a flawless goal and there was no shame on that field for the home team. Those kids pressured and played their hearts out for nearly two hours and I was proud to witness their efforts. Bonus to run into friends with benefits – umbrellas and a butt blanket for the metal stands, that is.
Today was my turn to exert myself as I continue to “train” for one more half marathon (Syracuse) and work towards my goal of 750 miles for the year. It was Squirrelly 6/Hairy Gorilla weekend, but I wasn’t feeling it this year and opted instead for HMRRC’s 7.1 Town of New Scotland road race. The combination of closer to home/later start/cheaper entry fee, and an appealing distance, prompted me to go low key with this beautiful
I last ran this maybe 2 or 3 years ago and it was just like I remembered – a good mix of rolling hills, lightly trafficked and absolutely pastoral. It seems that the foliage is a bit wan this year, but there were some bright spots where the burning bushes were showing off their new red coats and the air was crisp. My hat and gloves came in use for the first few miles before I stuffed them into pockets and yanked my leggings into capris. When the sun was shining, it was heavenly and when the wind blew, most usually in my face while I was climbing a hill, it was pretty hellacious.
The race starts and finishes on Swift Road, a route I’m familiar with from cycling. The finish comes after a climb followed by a decent descent, and a piece of trail which goes across fields and through woods. Absolutely lovely. Next year this race will be run for the 40th time and I’m going try to remember to incorporate it into my calendar. It’s an ideal outing right in the middle of two half marathons (or maybe pre-Stockadathon?) and I’m so glad I made the effort to get there.
It seems like there have been a lot of Good Fridays recently. A visit home, my birthday, the annual union picnic, a couple of galas… I’ve lost count of how many there have been but, it’s safe to say, it’s been quite a few Fridays since I’ve been home, wrapped in my favorite bathrobe, by 8:00. And last night, it felt pretty damn good.
The week has been draining. A cold is kicking my ass, our world feels increasingly out of control and I can’t seem to find the time to take care of everything in my usual fashion. After a really physically active week (26 miles and 2.5 hours of yoga)last week, I’ve been too exhausted to exercise in recent days and so I’ve felt sick and sluggish. Not a good combination for me mentally, to be honest.
So, last night I decided to push myself and take a run for the first time in a week. I figured if I couldn’t run consistently because of the hacking cough I’m currently victim of, I’d walk. I just needed to try.
It was nearly dark when I hit Delaware Avenue and I wondered if maybe I had underdressed. Should I have worn gloves? A hat? The thermostat said it was a moderate 55 degrees, but my body has been struggling to maintain an even temperature and I felt a little chilly. I found myself, surprisingly, running a bit faster than usual. The miles started to add up.
As always, my thoughts ran with me. I reflected on memories recently made and how different my life is from last year, from even six months ago. Letting go, and making the changes necessary to open myself up to something new, has been difficult for me. It feels like a combination of walking, running faster than it seems I am, and not necessarily being prepared for whatever lies ahead. And worth trying, of course.