chords and cadence

Another runner's writ

Archive for the month “December, 2012”

Running back home

547531_10151349092791469_726117115_nI went back home for Christmas last week.

Back to 7,220 feet above sea level.

Back to thinner air and colder ground.

Back to Ponderosa Pines and granite rock and elk poop in the yard.

Within an hour of pulling into the driveway, I hastily pulled on my full-length spandex, added some YakTrax to the Pearl Izumis and hit the trails like I was back to see an old friend, which they precisely are.

The snow at Elk Meadow had been wind-whipped and the dry air had rendered a crunchy surface. In the places where it wasn’t a little iced over, it sunk up to my shins. It was cold and I was happy.

I didn’t really notice the change in elevation, not too bad anyway. I would later lie and say ‘oh yeah! whew!’ when asked, so I didn’t sound cocky. But those five hilly, snowy miles were the sweetest welcome home.

Fast forward to the next morning… I had an 11 miles ahead of me, per my marathon training schedule. I ran from my parents’ house down to the lake and around it twice, up by my old high school and around the track, up to Three Sisters, through a neighborhood and back down. In the almost 10 years since we lived in that house, I had never ran that route when I could have so many times. I mentally kicked myself (ya jerk!).

As a cross country runner in high school, I had run the same roads, trails, and tracks over and over, usually a little slower than expected by my coaches. My teammates and I had gossiping and flirting to do because we were in high school, after all.

I thought about myself at 15 and 16 and how immature I was. How I didn’t know who I was or what I was going to do about a math test I didn’t plan on studying for. How I had a crush on a guy who went to another high school and it seemed like the end of the world I didn’t see him every day. How I only did cross country because I wasn’t good at any other sports (choir geek right here, y’all). How I never would have believed it if anyone would tell me I was going to run a marathon…ever. The Taylor Eye Roll would have been all  over that one.

I thought about myself now, at 23-and-a-half. I thought about how I finally know who I am and (mostly) what I want. How much I’ve changed, how much I’ve seen of the world, and how much my fingers were freezing (but I wasn’t going to admit it to Mom who told me to dress warmer).

But no matter what I thought about myself, it always came back around to running. It’s been through everything with me, even when I didn’t want it, and especially when I did. It has stuck with me longer through all my ugliness, awkwardness, and biggest life changes.

Going back to Colorado after having moved 1,158 miles away confirmed what I already knew: Running and I are in it for life, you really can go home again, and always listen to Mom when she tells it’s gonna be cold.

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Old school rock playlist

During my run today, I listened to my AC/DC Pandora station for six miles on the treadmill. Only music with gritty guitar solos could get me through six miles on the treadmill. I mean, let’s be real.

Here were some of my favorites. Add them to your playlist, and tell me you don’t find yourself subtly air-guitaring and/or headbanging too. The verdict is still out on wearing a tie…ACDC-angus-malcolm-young-duck-walk-jaming-guitar

1.) Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne

2.) Feed My Frankenstein – Alice Cooper

3.) Paradise City – Guns ‘n’ Roses

4.) Cum on Feel the Noize – Quiet Riot

5.) Raise Your Hands – Bon Jovi

6.) Mama Kin – Aerosmith

7.) Panama – Van Halen

8.) Stone Cold Crazy – Queen

9.) Calling Dr. Love – Kiss

10.) We’re Not Gonna Take It – Twisted Sister

11.) Baba O’Reilly – The Who

12.) And any song on AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’ album, plus ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ because that is my jam.

And for those about to run/rock, I salute you.

Hey there, it’s me! Guest blogging for my best friend in the whole wide world. That’s pretty neat.

♡ LOVEknobbyknees

hellotaylorthis is my friend taylor. i’ve known her since kindergarten. from what i recall, we were in the same homeroom all of elementary school. if that’s not friendship, i don’t know what is. in the fourth grade we were in the talent show together. we sang “thank god i’m a country boy” and danced around in overalls with felt mustaches glued to our faces. in fifth grade we were in the talent show together. we sang a song from disney’s tarzan and wore felt monkey tails pinned to our pants. most recently, taylor took me to red rocks amphitheater for my birthday. we saw mumford and sons for their first night. they shot confetti into the air. we both wore cowgirl boots. my life has never been the same.

when deciding which photo of taylor i wanted to post, i could have chosen taylor with dierks bently, taylor with johnny knoxville…

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Transferable mileage

Running is a pretty selfish sport.406639_10151334848501469_159883029_n

You’re independent. There’s no teamwork. Your miles are your own. Your cadence affects no one else.

While I have been willingly captured by the independence and joy of running, I admit I have become a little lost in its naturally selfish nature.

I want to hit the trails early so I can run without too many others around.

I want the trails to myself.

Me. Me. Me.

This morning, I got up at 6:40am on 27-degree December morning for marathon training. My plan called for seven miles of hills, and like usual I was eager to tackle them. As I started my run, I felt so blissful, for the millionth time, that I actually got sick of myself.

How can I do something this often that makes me this happy? What have I done to deserve to experience happiness on this level whenever I want? Am I selfish to keep doing it?

To counteract this onslaught of guilt and mild disgust, I decided that I would pick people to whom I could dedicate my runs. I thought maybe by doing so, my sheer joy, and boundless positive energy would be transferred into their lives somehow; sick, injured, unmotivated, depressed- people who wouldn’t be able to experience the sheer joy of running as I was fortunate enough to be able to this morning, and every day.

I am on day 17 of a 40-day streak where I run at least 1 mile every day. So here’s my plan: For each run of the remaining 23 days I will choose someone for whom I dedicate my run.

It may be a group of people, it may be that stranger I saw in the parking lot who looked like they were having a bad day, or it may be a repeat if I feel like that person needs a little extra boost in their universe. Karma, Holy points, good vibes, you name it- that is what I aim to send out through my daily runs.

At the end of the day, we are individuals. But that doesn’t mean our human spirit isn’t dynamic or transferable. I hope to gain a little more connectivity to the universe as I lace up and step out, not for myself, but for those who deserve the utmost happiness I am blessed to feel with every stride.

My aunt has been in and out of the hospital recently, but she has never really been able to be an active person. Because of her condition, she will never experience the runner’s high I feel almost every day. That is tough for me to think about. So today, I dedicated my eight miles to her.

Here’s to you, Aunt Julie. Hope you don’t mind the sweat.

That’ll work

Last week during East Nasty‘s Wednesday run in Nashville, I found myself running strong in a pack of dudes, which has been kinda typical lately. I can dig it.

There are old dudes with hairy legs and short shorts (the older the age, the shorter the shorts?), young bros in frat tanks (it’s December y’all!), and normal dudes about whom I can’t find anything witty to retort. We get along.

But I wasn’t the first lady to finish. I was second behind a leggy, blonde Victoria Secret model (probably) in too-hot booty shorts (even I couldn’t stop staring). When she ran, she didn’t jiggle. At all. No cellulite. In fact, she was still pretty tan, and it was dark, and it’s December. Barbie.

I tried to pass VS Model because I saw her as my competition. As the only females running in one of the fastest pace groups it would seem pretty natural to want to beat the other. We weren’t friends, we weren’t necessarily there to support each other. It irked me that I was thinking this way, because it isn’t my normal motivation when I run with a group. But this week, it so was.

She kicked my butt and looked like hot stuff doing it. I’m pretty sure I had a lougie on my sleeve that somehow missed the ground.

As we got water from the orange Gatorade troughs, VS Model asked no one in particular what our time was. Four miles in 29:forty-something was the answer. Just around a 7:30 pace.

“That’ll work,” said VS Model coolly sipping water and unbuckling her reflector belt like yoga had just ended. I guzzled my water, wished I had a cool reflector belt to coolly unbuckle, wiped the sweat from my forehead/eyebrows/neck, and I envied her. Not only was she a model, clearly, but she was a fast one. And she beat me. She had won.

Later that night after online shopping for my own too-hot booty shorts and at-home spray tans (Dear Santa…), I realized something.

I beat the boys, too.

I have blonde hair, too.

I can rock a 7:30-minute mile and take names, too.

And you know what?

That’ll work.

A date with the Rocky Top Trail Half

67670_10151318839106469_2133823999_nWhen it comes to me and running, I prefer the dirt. I prefer roots and twigs and steep declines. I’d take snakes over stop signs any day. Dirty, rocky hills are my milk and honey.

So why, oh why, have I not done a dang trail race yet?!

In November, after asking myself the same thing for the last time, I signed up for my biggest challenge yet: A half marathon trail race in Kingsport, Tennessee. Challenge = accepted. (and OMG, hills.)

So last Friday, I packed up my stick shift with an overnight pack and double-checked I had a fresh tube of Icy Hot. I queued up the tunes (Foo Fighters, AC/DC, and Radiohead) and drove 4.5 hours to the northeast corner of Tennessee and anticipated the upcoming event like a first date.

What will it look like?

How nice will it be?

I hope I don’t trip and fall.

I had butterflies! My first real trail race. I had been a trail hound for the past year, but this time was going to be the real deal. I was crossing my fingers for a hill or five to really test me. Bring. it. on.

I woke up to 38 degrees in the Smokies with the familiar pre-race jitters bouncing around in my stomach and the adrenaline idling in my veins like it knew what was coming. When I drove to Bays Mountain Park where the race was, I originally missed the exit because I was too distracted by distracting myself with singing ‘Banana Pancakes’ by Jack Johnson to ease my nerves. Thanks, Jack.

When I got to the starting area, the line for the single bathroom was pretty long, and was inside the Bays Mountain visitors’ center. There was a dummy dressed up as a moonshine man, holding a Mason jar of what was probably supposed to be moonshine, but looked like Gatorade. Solid, I thought. This will be legit.

The course started on an incline and we were warned: Jockey for a position from the get-go, because it turns into singletrack where you can’t pass anyone for the first two miles.

There were plenty of switchbacks and inclines in the backwoods. Leaves blanketed the trail, making it that much more thrilling because you weren’t guaranteed to not land on a tree root or in a ditch when you came down around a turn. At one point, we ran across a one-lane, rickety wood bridge with the pond water so high up, one false step and you were soaked and cold and probably wouldn’t finish. Fun with a capital F, folks.

And oh my goodness, guys: The hills. I passed full grown men (well, and full grown women). I kicked ass and took names on those hills; they seemed to give me more energy than drain me of it. And I was happy to notice I didn’t completely tire out at the top. I was able to keep a consistent pace, which was probably around a 10-minute mile.

The solitude of running through the woods let me focus on my breath, which I hadn’t ever done in a race before. To focus on deep, cleansing breaths that matched my cadence was soothing and powerful. I would like to credit it to the yoga I’ve been practicing lately, so Namaste to that!

My playlist ended about .5 miles from the finish line, which bummed me out; I had wishfully predicted finishing with ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ but noooo, the playlist quit before I did. I muttered a couple German commands at myself like a drill sergeant (SCHNELL!), and it worked well enough.

I finished in 2:08:37. I placed 2nd for women ages 20-24, and 3rd for women overall. I got a pint glass for my efforts, and plan on buying my favorite beer, and drinking out of it, like, tonight.

My legs felt oh-so-good, and oh-so-sore. The race was everything I wanted. I was alive. I was uninjured. I was the kind of happy that only comes from running a great race.

So… I’m really, really hoping for a second date soon.

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