chords and cadence

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Archive for the tag “Lessons”

#NotAllRaces: Music City Half Marathon Recap

Not all races are created equal. They all have the same bones: starting line, finish line, heartbeats, nerves, and an apparatus that times you. Everything else is a variable: weather, the course, the competition, how your body feels, aid stations (or lack thereof), gear you wear (or forget), the number of tolerable porta-potties (oxymoron?), and the post-race fuel available (I really don’t get why there isn’t chocolate milk every single time!)

Races are beautifully complex, and running one is a completely new experience each and every time. I love that and yet I wrestle with it. Last Saturday’s race was one I am still having some mixed feelings about. On one hand, I placed first in my age group by about three minutes and I didn’t pass out. On the second hand, it was a slower time than my last race that I didn’t even place in, it was one of the toughest races my mind has had to conquer (on a seemingly not-so-challenging course), and perhaps most frustratingly, I’m still sore in my hamstrings and lower calves, despite lots of time on the foam roller, lacrosse balls, and stretching.

It’s. Thursday.

Without much more melodramatic lamenting, here is how it all went down.

Race Day

I woke up at 6a.m. in order to get some fuel. I wasn’t hungry, but knew if I didn’t put anything else in my stomach then, I’d have to eat too soon before the race. So I choked down half a serving of oatmeal, stretched, gave myself a mantra (Run strong, run fast, run your best), and crawled back into my warm bed for 20 more minutes. After getting back up and guzzling a cup of coffee, I went on my way to Nissan Stadium in downtown Nashville, where the start and finish lines were. It was spitting rain, grey and ominous. I didn’t bring a hat to wear and I left my sunglasses in the car, dismissing any inkling the weather might change.

Within 15 minutes of getting out of the car, I found a comfortable spot in the middle at the chute. The excitement butterflies that usually visit my stomach at the start were there, but barely. I was disappointed; I love the pre-race butterflies. Did they sleep in? This worried me for a second until I got distracted by the gun going off. A symphony of watch beeps filled the air, and with no music, I set off with the crowd.

I felt good, strong and excited when I started. I charged up the first hill (a bridge) with ease and passed a few people. But then, within the second mile, I started feeling a twinge here, a tired muscle there, and is that a side stitch? Seriously? Way too early for me to be comfortable with. I told myself that this one was not gonna be as blissful as I hoped. Not all races can be the same. Run strong, run fast, run your best.

We ran through an industrial part of town before getting up alongside the Cumberland River on the greenway, which sounds nice, but it was kind of brutal. On one side, there’s a river…not exactly your soothing babbling brook. On the other side was the backside of office buildings and warehouses…not exactly your daydream vista. And we were running against the wind. I began digging deep in my psyche and convinced myself to get comfortable being uncomfortable, because with 8+ miles to go, this wasn’t gonna be a dream run. My splits were not indicative of how I felt, however. They were better, a much-needed confidence booster. Run strong, run fast, run your best.

As we looped back, we came into contact with runners still coming from the other direction. A runner coming from the other direction shouted to me, “You’re in the top 10! There’s one right in front of you!” What?! Despite feeling the burn, I felt a boost. Run strong, run fast, run your best. The sun had come out, did I mention that? Did I mention that the sun came out about a mile in, and I had foregone the sunglasses? Never doing that again. The sun beat into my eyes the entire way back, causing a dehydrated-induced headache. I had half a Honey Stinger waffle and water around mile 8, then took some PowerAde from an aid station at mile 10, to try and ward off the dehydration – knowing the damage was done. Run strong, run fast, run your best. My pace had fallen a little bit, and I struggled mentally and physically. I was not having fun. My mantra took a different turn. Run strong, run fast, run this b*+ch.

Woulda looked cuter with sunglasses on, but nope!

I tried to gain a little momentum coming back down the bridge, but as we ran around Nissan Stadium for the last .60, I knew I wasn’t going to make up for what I’d lost in the last 3-4 miles. Run…your…best. Seeing my husband about .10 from the finish gave me the kick I needed. 1:46:25 and I was DONE.

Post Race

I was so happy to be done with that race. Like, hallelujah. My mood changed when I crossed the finish line, got my medal and a water bottle. By the time Jacob found me, I had sat down and nearly finished the water, wanting more.

I felt disappointed not to have even beaten my time from February. My goal for this race was far from met – I wanted to run my original PR of 1:41. So, HA. HA HA HA.

When I got a print-out of my data, I saw that I was 1 of 15 for females, 25-29. I was shocked. This couldn’t be right. But it was! My mood lifted from there, and standing on the podium felt pretty nice. The race organizers, Team Magic, had nice prizes for those who placed and I appreciated the cup, new socks, gift card to Nashville Running Co. (my favorite) and some weird-looking things you put in your shoes after you run so they don’t smell. They’ve already been tested and given a thumbs-up!

Three things in common with these people: We just ran, we’re between the ages of 25-29, and we just were told to put our hands up over our heads for a photo-op. I had time to run to my car and get the shades.

The Takeaway

Not all races are going to give me the warm fuzzies. Since my last race went so well and filled up my soul so much, I had expectations that this race would do the same. When I struggled (and so early on), the warm fuzzies fizzled into doubt and disappointment. I fought hard to keep those feelings far, far away.

Races are all about struggle! Despite placing, I wasn’t fully satisfied with how I did, and that’s okay. I can learn from it. I take running seriously, but when my brain voluntarily changes Run your best to Run this b*+ch, I guess it’s telling me that not all races are considered equal; lighten up, sign up for the next one, and don’t you dare think you can live without your sunglasses. B*+ch.

 

SPLITS + DATA

8:16 // 8:02 // 8:07 // 8:18 //8:05 // 7:53 // 7:45 // 7:50 // 8:02 // 7:56 // 8:08 // 8:19 // 8:07 // 1:32 (.20) = 1:46:25

301 elevation gain

What the road has taught me

da3ab7ebadf0159a5a5b581358844d64I’m in my mid-twenties. Like college, these are formative years – just with a lot less house parties and homework and more routines and early nights. And a big girl job. And insurance payments. And #responsibilities.

Relationships, careers, health… they’re taking shape for me right now and setting me up for the rest of my life. I pay for car repairs with money I forlornly look at as a woulda-been weekend getaway vacation dollars. It’s how it should be, I suppose, as I get used to life as a grown-up person. It happens, right?

Being a contemplative, reflective person (hence, writer) has rendered me thinking about lessons and growing up and what I’ve learned lately. This proclivity guides me to lessons I’ve learned from roads, trails, and sidewalks, fields, bridges, and other places I’ve stretched my legs.

What the road has taught me (so far):

1. There are potholes, detours, fallen trees, bee hives, and crazy stroller runners. Adjust your route accordingly.

2. Calves that don’t fit into skinny jeans because of mileage are exempt from following fashion trends, and should therefore legitimize yoga pants as acceptable everyday wear. I’m sure I can get some guys to back me on up this, right, fellas?

3. I’m tough. I can fight. I’m a bad ass. And I rarely let myself believe it. I should believe it more.

4. Listening is best. Don’t waste your breath.

5. The sun can shine your entire run, or you can get caught in a rainstorm. Keep going.

6. A little mud never hurt anything. Actually, mud is best.

7. Sometimes you have to follow the rules; they’re there for your own good. (Stoplights, amirite?)

8. Pushing yourself gets you further. Every. Time.

9. Snot rockets, farts…sh!t happens. Laugh at it. Laugh at yourself.

10. Bringing people with you can make it a lot more fun than going at it alone.

11. At the same time, it’s necessary to have your alone time with the asphalt under your rubber soles, the clothes on your back, and your thoughts. It can be scary, being left alone with your brain. Go to that scary place anyway.

12. Squats, lunges, stretching…preparation for the road is important – don’t ignore the fundamentals.

13. The best views have the most brutal ascents.

14. Run the mile you’re in. Be where you are.

15. Never compare yourself to another runner. They could be having the best – or worst – running day of their life. Withhold judgement.

16. Take care of yourself. Rest days are necessary, and the road won’t disappear if your shoes aren’t on it.

Any runner can atest that the road and its lessons are akin to life; it’s ridiculous the metaphors and similarities. Maybe that’s why so many follow the road. It’s not just cardio. It gives more, and it takes more.

I still have a lot of lessons to learn from the road, from life. I’m in my mid-twenties, so that damn well better be true! I’ve got my alarm set for tomorrow morning and I’m gonna go out on sore hamstrings and see what I can learn from the road tomorrow, even though I’ve ran it a hundred times or more. It may be that I should always carry an extra hair tie (ok, I already know that) or it may show me what I’m really supposed to do with the rest of my life, or at least the next few years (crossing my fingers). Either way, the road has taught me many things so far and I’m grateful for the road.

What’s it taught you?

New eyes

I’m on the plane going back to the only other place for which I’d leave Colorado. I wish I could say it with more eloquence and have it carry the same conviction without a hint of embellishment, but I just had one of the single best weekends of my 24 years.

Everything I anticipated happening, happened: quality family time, patio sitting among pine trees, drier skin, altitude headaches, and then some. I was appeased to no end (save the headaches and dry skin), rendering me lying in bed at night, reminding myself that I have it all.

Growing up in Evergreen, driving the same narrow and curvy roads, seeing the same trees, waking up to the same encompassing mountains, and breathing the same thin air never seemed special. It was just life. It was frustrating to always wait until your parents could drive you to your friends’ because it was too far and mountainous to walk or ride your bike (and face it, you were too lazy anyway and your parents were probably frustrated, too). It was normal to wake up to elk in the front yard, go for a walk around the lake (not the mall) and talk about life and complain about boys and confess secrets and cure hangovers (note: not discovered until this trip #toolate).

While we took a hangover-easing walk around the lake (thank you, Little Bear), I told my best friend that I felt like I was seeing everything through new eyes. She nodded and knew, which is why we’re so solid.

It’s not as relevatory as I’ve made; I’ve had an affinity for the mountains for quite some time. This time was just different. And it wasn’t just that I missed the elevation, the laid back mountain lifestyle, or the ridiculously beautiful scenery, it was something internal, too. I’m still trying to figure it out…probably something along the lines of discovering what my “spirit animal” is or whatever. I’m sure a trail run this weekend will bring some clarity and there will be a new blog post next week (so stay tuned?)

photo (1)

As serendipity would have it, I came across this quote when I was bored and browsing through Pinterest on my phone, waiting for the plane that would take me back to Nashville, my other beloved home, and it solidified:

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust.

Oh, indeed, Marcel. Indeed.

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.

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.

Finding it

Dark grey skies illuminated into lighter grey skies when I woke up this morning. I poured my thermos of coffee, ate half an orange because I was apathetic (read: running late) to peel the rest, and totally spaced taking my pre-packed chicken breast and spinach salad lunch (danggg it!). Mick Jagger’s croon and Keith Richard’s riffs shook me awake (I was born in a crossfire hurricane…) as I drove down I-65 to the suburban elementary school where I volunteer twice a week.

The bright lights of the gym and the squeakiness of wet running shoes on waxed floors were my final wee jolt of energy before greeting the gaggle of 3rd through 5th grade girls who are part of Girls on the Run. They smile, yawn, stretch, and finally saunter to the middle of the floor and sit cross-legged in a circle. Today we learned about expressing how we feel to people who aren’t treating us very nice (I feel…when you…because…I would like you to…). And then we went outside.

Still grey.

I was sidelined this morning (a slight tinge in my left calf has rendered me super cautious), so I watched the girls run as I counted their laps, gave high fives, and caught their high-flung jackets in mid-air. I watched their faces as they passed, and I noticed they all had it: Confidence.

Some had it from the get-go (that girl needs a lesson on PACING). Some it grew with each lap. With others it didn’t completely shine until the end. But by the time it was over, when some had racked up 12, 17, 20 laps, each of them visibly felt better about themselves than before their hearts started pumping. Hands above their heads, catching their breath, and straightening their wind-blown ponytails, they all glowed.

Walking back to the gym was better than walking out; they smiled, giggled with each other, and weren’t complaining about how their shoes didn’t work right this morning so they just can’t run today so, sorry Miss Taylor.

Yes… I thought. This is what it’s all about. Dear Mick, you can get what you want, sometimes.

The reminder came from girls who have no idea who Mick Jagger is (except for maybe I’ve got the mo-o-o-o-oves like Jagger, which, ugh): The hardest part is digging down and finding it, but once you do, it’s a cure-all.

So find it. Hone it in, and use it until you can’t anymore. It will give you everything no self-help book, talk show host, or weekend seminar could ever give you (that’s all bologna anyway).

These little girls found it on a grey morning with the threat of raindrops in the sky and a lunchtime with no recess.

Your turn.

Rewind: February

Seriously… March is tomorrow? As in, the-month-when-spring-happens March?

As in I’m-running-a-marathon-in-March March?

I just got butterflies. That could also just be coffee on an empty stomach, but optimism favors the former.

There’s been a song stuck in my head this week (unoriginal or not to a runner): Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born to Run.’

See his passion? His utter raw energy just erupting? His rad, plaid cutoff shirt? (so awesomely ’80s…I want to go to there)

I mean, woah.

I know his proclamation is not about the actual act of, say, running a marathon, or running recreationally at all. It’s about runaway American dreams and Carpe Diem and breaking out and seizing love. It’s a bold anthem and powerful prose that unifies the most diverse of ears, exclaiming that we are all battling races of our own, and we’re all meant to win them despite brokenness and hardships that weigh us down.

Springsteen has won over 20 Grammys, sold millions of records world wide, and has been named in Rolling Stone as the 23rd Greatest Artist of all time, 96th Greatest Guitarist of all time, and 36th Greatest Singer of all time. I *think* he may know a thing or two we could learn from.

What I’m saying here isn’t anything new, but maybe it’ll at least inspire you to listen to a little bit of The Boss at work today and ponder your own Carpe Diem scheme and therefore, you’re welcome.

Courtesy of Rollingstone.com

Courtesy of Rollingstone.com

((switching gears))

Last month, I logged 204 miles. It was pretty awesome. I pretty much felt like a rockstar.

This month was shorter and my taper began right smack dab in the middle of it, so my numbers won’t be near as impressive. I didn’t feel like quite the rockstar I was in January.

(As I’m writing this, I haven’t even added them up for fear of too-low a number. I’m competitive with myself, what can I do? Okay… whipping out the calculator)

Alright, it was 152. Better than what I anticipated; I’ll cut myself some slack.

My first marathon ever is this Sunday, and I cannot believe how fast time has flown. So I guess the moral of the story is: if you want time to fly, sign up for a marathon. And, boom.

Look forward to a race review sometime next week. I’m still taming my taper temper, but looking forward to eating a little more carbs than usual, oh- and being in a new state: North Carolina!

We gotta get out while we’re young/’cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Pancakes, balletone, and boundaries

One day a couple weeks ago, I woke up and really wanted pancakes. Like, bad. So, I took myself on a date to Cracker Barrel who, as we all know, has superb buttermilk pancakes. What, you don’t know this? …Go. This’ll be here when you get back. Did I mention bottomless coffee? Bacon? Go.

Anyway…

I’m as comfortable going somewhere and eating by myself as I am pretending I’m Carrie Underwood while driving around Nashville. That is, to say, very comfortable. (Jesus, take the wheel!) I hardly think twice when I answer “Nope, just me” when the host asks if someone will be joining me. I ride solo, y’all.

So there I am throwing guilt of gluttony to the wind, writing down some thoughts and making a “to-do” list when the girl who sat me timidly walks up.

“Are you here all by yourself?”

“Yup. Just me. Just wanted some pancakes.”

“What are you writing in…a journal?” …Regular nosy Sherlock Holmes over here.

“Yup. Just writing stuff.”

“Wow. Do you go eat by yourself a lot? I would be so scared. I always need someone with me.”

“Yeah well, I do it all the time. I take myself on dates, you know? It’s pretty awesome.”

“Maybe I should get a journal!”

“Yeah girl, do it! Do it up! Treat yourself.”

“Maybe I should go take myself on a date!”

“Go! It’s really nice not arguing over who wants what appetizer, really. And it’s cheap.”

She was so excited to think about taking herself on a date. She walked away without another word, and a smile on her face. Boom! Life. Changed.

Taking myself out for pancakes isn’t a big deal. I take myself on dates all the time because that is what you do when you’re single. But for this girl, sitting somewhere by herself was something she only did in the bathroom. Maybe. So I’d like to give myself a little credit for at least making her think about leaving her comfort zone.

Moving to Nashville on my own was a big deal, sure. But now I’m here. That part of putting myself out of my comfort zone has happened. Never one to sit still, I have to keep going out of my comfort zone.

In an effort to keep pushing my own boundaries, I decided to try a new class at the Y called “Balletone.” It’s like a ballet class that’s supposed to tone your muscles. I do not, and will never, have a stick-thin ballet body. I haven’t taken a dance class in years. I was hesitant to go, but once I realized I was hesitant, that’s when I knew: Go. Do it. Gotta ‘Balletone’ it up.

I discovered very quickly (as I’m sure the other girls did, too) I wasn’t as graceful as I (thought I) used to be. I was the most awkward-looking girl in class. I was wearing shorts when the rest were wearing yoga pants. Ugh. But I did it. I didn’t leave early. I stayed and felt awkward the WHOLE time, in my Soffe shorts and they in their hip yoga pants. And today, I’m sore. So, it was good. I probably won’t go again, but it was good.

Hesitation is one strong indicator of something that will push yourself out of your comfort zone. I mean, always consider your own safety (physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, blahblahblah). But ask yourself if you have anything to lose. If the answer rhymes with ‘snow’ you need to look at the man in the mirror. Ask him/herself to change their ways.

More good things will come out pushing your own boundaries. I can promise you that. And if not, at least you know now to not wear shorts to a ‘Balletone’ class. You’re welcome.

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