chords and cadence

Another runner's writ

Archive for the month “April, 2013”

Race recap: Country Music Marathon (or: Crazy is as crazy does)

It has been brought to my attention that I might be crazy.6c5e08deaf2e11e2bcc022000a1fcf26_7

But crazy is as crazy does, and crazy runs 26.2 miles in pouring rain and would probably do it again.

Please don’t commit me yetI’ll explain.

The Country Music Marathon (Part of the Rock ‘n Roll series) was my second marathon in seven weeks. In between Asheville and the CMM, I had several hot dates with my foam roller, yoga-ed my heart out, had an affair with the stair master, and toyed with Hal Higdon’s prescribed in-between-marathons training regimen. As the assigned mileage on my calendar ticked away without being fulfilled, I became increasingly anxious about finishing another 26.2, and uninjured at that.

But then.

On the day most celebrated in the running world, our sport and its loyal supporters were targeted and attacked. People lost limbs and lives, and spirits sunk, to say the absolute least. But in the aftermath, a great quote started floating around:

“If you’re trying to defeat the human spirit, marathoners are the wrong ones to target.” 

You’re damn right.

Calf problems, a pulled butt muscle, an anxious psyche, unfavorable conditions… I became impervious to all of it. This was a race I had to run, because there was now a bigger picture.

Saturday morning, the rain made its crescendo as we filled the corrals and did own little weird pre-race rituals. I found the East Nasty group, with whom I started training at the beginning of the year. We all had a sub-4 goal, and planned to stick together. It was four other men ages 25 to 50-something, and another girl my age, and me.

Appropriately, there was a chilling moment of silence for Boston and everyone held up a peace sign. We sang the national anthem, and they played ‘Sweet Caroline’ to which everyone sang along like you would in a bar at 1am: With gusto. It was awesome and I just got goosebumps thinking about it again.

The details of the next 26.2 miles are nothing less than soggy. I stuck with my light-hearted group and caught back up when I had to tie my shoe, and again when I had to pee. I fueled up around mile 9 first with some GU blocks, around mile 15 with an orange slice and some raisins, and at mile 20 with half a GU pack. My legs started feeling heavier around mile 15, and by mile 19, my IT bands were on fire. My quads were tensing up, and I knew finishing was gonna take guts.

At mile 25 (a nice long incline), it was me, our fearless pace leader Daniel, and Ariel, the other East Nasty lady runner- a couple had gotten behind. We decided we would finish together and hold hands at the finish for Boston. We pushed each other that last 1.2 miles and when we crossed the finish, I saw the clock at 3:59:50, yelled awkwardly out of emotion, and almost cried because I was happy/so relieved to be done. But, guts. I didn’t cry.

It’s funny how hard exhaustion just slams you after you stop running for ~4 hours; I hit a wall and wanted nothing more than to be dry, off my feet, and reassured that I was indeed badass/I’d be okay/there was a hot shower waiting for me somewhere. We took some pictures, I wolfed down a PowerBar and some Gatorade and limp/walked back to my car as fast as my post-marathon legs would let me.

After all was said and done, I know I wouldn’t have gotten my goal if it hadn’t been for my group. They made me laugh, pushed me, reigned me in when I was feeling overly-ambitious, and generally kept my spirits up. Like the sense of community running richly fosters, together we were cold, determined, and hell-bent on not letting the rain, acts of terrorism, or chafing skin get in the way of our goal, for the bigger picture.

3:57:46 chip time, y’all. 

And yep, I would do it all again.  I’m owning it: I’m just crazy.

Huge shout out to my amazing city and its people. All of the spectators, volunteers, police personnel, and race organizers in Nashville blew me away with their enthusiasm and loyalty on such a yucky day. Humanity won. It will always win.

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“On the Run” by Isabella Lauf

In college, my best friend had a foreign exchange student for a roommate for one year. She was German, which was good, because we were learning German. Needless to say, we became great friends and share many fond memories.

Isabella Lauf is a student in Germany, working on her thesis. She recently asked if I would answer some running-related questions for a piece she was writing.

She did me proud, and taught me a few things. I am happy to spread my love of running, and happy it could help a friend in need.

You may find it by clicking here.

Bella and I at the Grand Canyon on our way to Vegas for Spring Break.

Bella and I at the Grand Canyon on our way to Vegas for Spring Break.

 

What taper temper?

Marathon number two is in five days, and let me tell you:

This taper ain’t got nothin’ on me.

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See?

Happy as ever.

No soreness, no fatigue. Ready to tackle hills, spills, and anything else that may come up.

Looking forward to crossing the finish line for so many who can’t.

Looking forward to going for a little run with 30,000 other runners.

Country Music Marathon: I’m ready for you!

((in the headphones: Chris Thile: ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’)

 

Shower the people

I wanted to take a long walk on Monday after hearing about the events in Boston just to think and be. So I parked at a trail head, left my phone in the car, and didn’t even predict when I’d be back. Okay, I know this sounds a little ‘Into the Wild’ but c’mon, I would at least take snacks. 

Usually when I’m here, I am running. I’m usually trying to crush the hills, cruise the downhills, pass the slow people, and sweat. I often don’t pay attention to the detail on the sides because I’m looking straight ahead.

Percy Warner is gorgeous right now, and I will shout it from the rooftops until everyone in the 615 goes there (preferably one at a time so it doesn’t get crowded) and agrees with me and smiles and says ‘thank you’ to whomever deity they believe.

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I MEAN LOOK AT IT.

But instead of going fast like usual in this place, I knew slowing down and smelling the roses was probably the best thing to do because it would center me in the most needed way, and hopefully help me to realize how I could just be better. Because couldn’t we all just be a little bit better?

When I tried thinking about what I could do better in life (a topic all too often occupying my brain), these things kept popping into my mind incessantly:

Be compassionate. 

Listen.

Forgive.

Be patient.

Slow down.

Smile.

Tell people whom you value that you value them. 

Say thank you.

Give.

And then this song popped into my head after, and I knew my lesson from slowing down, thinking, and being had been realized.

Things are gonna be much better if we only will.

Pray, run, repeat

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After yesterday’s events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, my sport changed.

After a tragedy like this, there’s so much to say.

But actions speak louder than words.

In 11 days, I will run 26.2 miles, just like I signed up to.

Just like thousands of others did yesterday, some of  whom did not finish.

I will run for those unable to finish, and who will never be able to run again.

I will pray, run, repeat.

Rewind: March (Or, where running tells me: ‘Let’s Stay Together’)

Mileage: <60.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Yes, I ran a marathon… but I also technically started training for my next one.

Yes, I stretched and took time off and cross trained. (I had an affair with the stairmaster but it was just a rebound).

In short, I was humbled by a stupid minor pain and got stuck in a non-running rut. I blame calf problems, but it was also mental (what isn’t?).

Saturday I visited my happy place, finally feeling fresh, optimistic, and ready to tackle at least five miles outside -something I hadn’t done in two weeks, which is for-ev-ER in Taylor World. I strapped my iPhone armband to my right gun bicep, hit Play on the Chris Thile Pandora station, tightened my new kicks, and went.

But… the headphones weren’t happy in my ears. My jacket sleeves felt restrictive. Mile one felt like mile 18. My headband was sliding off. I had a persistent wedgie and I really had to pee (sorry, this is real life).

By mile 1.97 (I assume; I purposefully didn’t track my mileage thank GOD), I just felt off. I was easily distracted. I felt slow.

Squirrels are stupid. The flowers aren’t blooming fast enough. I look dumb in purple. Who told Darius Rucker he could cover ‘Wagon Wheel’ and who decided it sounded good? Why don’t pancakes have zero calories? Does my butt look big in these spandex? Rolling Stones or Beatles? Coffee.

Yikes.

Well, they say relationships take work. So running and I were about to have some alone time (or therapy or counseling or whatever couples use these days to fix their problems).

It was decided that by completely disconnecting from music and numbers (caloric burn, pace, mileage, heart rate) we could get back to basics.

It felt weird and naked, like when you leave your phone at home, or leave clothes in your closet. But then I liked it. (I’ll let you at it on the naked jokes).

I became completely in tune with my stride, breathing, and all-over form. The sun felt warmer on my guns arms. The birds chirping were a welcome sound. I felt more inclined to smile at others. Pace what? iTunes playlist who?!

Mile six showed up before I knew it and I wanted to keep going (like the normal Taylor). But having just fully recovered, I thought it best not to push it. The road would be there tomorrow.

And that’s when I got it: No matter how long you decide to stay in your stupid little rut, whether it’s two silly weeks or 22 not-so-silly years, the road will always be there. The trails will always be there.

Running doesn’t go anywhere unless, of course, you do.

I guess couples’ therapy does work after all.

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