chords and cadence

Another runner's writ

Archive for the tag “Life”

Welcome, 2017!

Well, hello, 2017 and hello to you, reader. Sixteen days ago, a lot of people said BYE FELICIA to 2016. I wanted to, but couldn’t honestly. I can’t deny that it was an incredibly blessed year for me, personally. I married my best friend and love of my life, traveled to new places, stood by one of my good friends as she married her best friend, and was engulfed by so much love and support from family and friends, my heart still feels crowded in my rib cage. Not to mention, the Broncos won the Super Bowl, my husband’s team won the NCAA Men’s Basketball National Championship, and after a couple of years of lackluster running, I noticed the spark spring back in my shoes. So yeah, 2016 was good to me.

Predictably, I was prompted to reflect on what I wanted for the year ahead. The verdict: develop and practice patience, set more running-related goals, and be a good wife. Each of those focuses are complex in-and-of themselves, and I’m looking forward to diving into them.

Along with my running-related goals is blogging more, whether I feel like I have anything interesting to say or not. I’ve read and been fascinated by some of the most mundane stuff I’ve found strewn around the internet (Thanks, Pinterest) so maybe my words will be someone else’s late-night binge read.

Looking ahead: I have been training for my 10th half marathon on February 4th. I participated in the annual Runner’s World Holiday Streak and have been following an 8-week intermediate training plan that incorporates speed work.

I’m planning on posting my training schedule, just not tonight because my laptop is about to die and it’s past my bedtime. BUT, I needed to get back on the blog. Better than nothing, I tell myself!

More soon, thanks for reading.

How to Have a Happy Trail Run

Without warning, it hit me: I really, really needed a good nature fix. I was starting to twitch. I needed more than a weekly, leisurely nature walk that didn’t get my heart rate up enough. I need to be out there longer. Sweat. Climb a damn hill with dirt on it. Burn my quads. Do a snot rocket.

The fiance came out with me for a 4.5-mile hike on the Mossy Ridge Trail at Percy Warner park on Sunday after church. Not more than 50 yards on the trail, it gnawed at me: Where have you been? Why not here? for I am nothing if not a girl in her happiest place on Earth on the trails surrounded by tall trees.

Hill Bench in its glory

I like how they put this bench at the top of one hill and the bottom of another. #foresight

As previously posted, running and I recently re-kindled our relationship and that has included small appetizers of trail running on the safe 2.5-mile Warner Woods Trail. I was secretly ashamed of myself that a short run like that would wipe me out like it did, but only because I know how much I used to tear it up. I wanted to run more and get back to what I used to do, but fear and self-doubt was successful at talking me down. You can’t do what you used to do three times a week anymore like it’s nothing! You’re almost 27. That’s considered your late 20s… Remember the creaking you hear in your knees? Better do some downward dogs instead.

I decided I’d had enough of the negative self-talk; it was time to stick it to the man/myself. I decided to pick up where I left off with trail running and allowing myself grace, I went for a long trail run and bucked any comparisons to my previous altitude-trained, 23-year-old self. And while I had an undeniably awesome, transcendent time (per usual) I did forget some crazy essential tips that could’ve made the beforeduring, and after a little more enjoyable.

Here are my tips for a happy trail run.

Before

  1. Load your car with a fresh towel or two, and a bandanna to bring with you as a sweat rag. Sweat pouring into your eyes and stinging them as you try to dominate a hill is just salt on a wound. Preventable!
  2. Drink up well before the run! Seriously, hydration is and will be your best friend. I’m no scientific expert, but drink enough so that your pee is clear. K? I’d like to make note that this is the first time I’ve talked about pee on a running blog. If you’re a runner, you are so impressed with me right now. Bring along water for after your run, an electrolyte drink (I love Nuun when I have it, or zero-calorie Powerade), and snacks in your car for when runger takes over on the drive home.
  3. Wear an article of clothing with a pocket for your car key. Yesterday, in full rookie mode, I wore no-pocket yoga pants and I improvised. MacGyver skills, while impressive, shouldn’t be necessary when we have been blessed by the existence of pocketed active wear.
  4. Naïveté isn’t cute or safe. Map out where you’re going and check the weather so you know what you’re dealing with. Unless you’re adventurous and have your phone with you, are fully prepared for the elements and have a load of time on your hands, knowing where you’re going and in what conditions are a must.  And since this is trail running, if you can check the elevation gain on the trail, DO. IT. unless you like to learn the hard way that a 4-mile route gains 225 ft. in a quarter mile. Hey, depending on your level of masochism, that may be a picnic! It would be for me on a good day!
  5. Sunscreen and bug spray yourself. I totally remembered this yesterday… totally.
  6. Tell someone who loves you that you’re bad ass and going for a trail run. And/or bring your phone. The good and bad of it is: the world is unpredictable and anything can happen. Turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” if you really wanna feel like you’re unplugging, but still have a safety net.

    There's no place like a trail that smells like Jasmine

    Right here I had to stop and take a picture because I was breathing really hard but also because it smelled overwhelmingly like jasmine and I felt like I was not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

During

  1. Taylor’s Heaven on Earth = trail running with an eclectic mix that puts her back in Colorado. This includes, but is not limited to: Sam Bush, Infamous Stringdusters, Railroad Earth, YMSB, String Cheese Incident, Punch Brothers, Greensky Bluegrass, Grateful Dead. If you want my playlist, I’m happy to oblige. NOW: The important part of this that I MUST stress is keep the volume low enough to communicate with others on the trail. Guys, I was coming up behind this girl yesterday with her Beats By Dre turned up and although I was kindly alerting her that I was coming up on her left in plenty of time, she had NO CLUE I was around until I had to slow down and squeeze by her (and give her the stink  eye, because REALLY?). Not only for your own safety (hi, random attacker!) but also for the courtesy of others – keep your volume down so you can still hear what’s going on around you. Which brings me to my next point…
  2. Be kind and let people know you’re coming up behind them. Call out a little ways out with a friendly “Hey there! On your left!” Don’t whiz past them like they’re in your way – trails are for everyone to enjoy responsibly. Practice the Golden Rule here. Make friends. Be good.
  3. Pick up your feet! Trail running is not without things you will be challenged to negotiate quickly! Get into a zone and pay attention to what’s ahead of you. You will be amazed at how your brain works to anticipate what’s to come and how your body responds. If you find yourself timid to go too fast down a hill littered with roots and rocks, take it slow but prepare yourself for next time by doing some drills: running stairs, high knees, and butt kicks, or lateral exercises like shuffling and grapevine. Strength training helps, too. Now, give me 10 squats!
  4. HILLS – try not to look at what you have ahead of you too much for too long – it will mess with you mentally. Just take one step at a time as you ascend. Yesterday, I was halfway up a hill before I realized I was running up a HUGE one, and guess what? I had enough (mental?) energy to take me to the top! Then, at another hill, I sized it up as I approached it and didn’t make it up without psyching myself out. Trail running is a mental game, like anything else, and there are ways to hack it.
  5. Stop and smell the flowers. Don’t hold yourself to a strict time limit. Allow yourself to stop and soak in the nature and beauty around you. That’s what trail running is about! Recognize you’re blessed enough to be where you are, feel the burn in your lungs and the pulsing of blood in your legs. THIS IS LIFE! THIS IS WHAT IT IS ABOUT! And then keep going.

After

  1. That towel you packed? Sit on it and save your car seats. Wipe the sweat and dirt and mud off ya, if you got so lucky.
  2. Luxuriate with these. Especially if you want anyone to actually come close to you when you get home. Or, any baby wipe will do.
  3. Drink water, eat something. Avoid headaches, literally, and thank your muscles with carbs and protein.
  4. Check for ticks. Lyme disease ain’t no joke.
  5. Foam roll within a couple hours of your run so you’re not out of commission for the next three days with Icy Hot as your main squeeze. Foam rolling can really ruin a DOMS party in your muscles.

I won’t admit to how many of the above I had to re-learn yesterday, which was the real impetus behind this post. But that’s what I get for staying away so long!

Returning to the trails to run them made me feel more than ordinary; I was no longer a boring person with a desk job. I sank into my zone, listened to each and every note in my hippie music and didn’t do a whole lot of thinking otherwise. It was simple: I had a happy trail run, and after reading this if you go out and try it, I really hope you do too.8926bb1859448aa8bd7cdcc00995a5c6

 

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?

25 Thoughts on my 25th Birthday

birthday-cake-sliceWell, I turned 25 yesterday and while I always tend to over-think EVERYTHING, this milestone was looked at from all angles thrice-over, and inspected with a fine-tooth comb. The night before, I was up late thinking about my life and my goals and my past and my future and how I’d better get to sleep cuz I signed up for Hot 26 at 6am.

When I was a (more dedicated) runner (over a month ago), I felt like I had plenty to share when it came to running and life as the two related to each other. Now that I’ve taken some time off from my addictive habit and jumped into some other ones (hot yoga, namaste), I’ve been contemplating other things to write about. I’ve suffered a bout of dreaded writer’s block.

But then the big 2-5 comes into view. Cue the contemplations, the ponderings of life – finally giving me some fodder to feed my creative needs – for now, anyway. I won’t promise it will be even all that exciting, but for me it works, and that’s more of what I’m going for these days.

I give you: 25 Thoughts on my 25th Birthday (or: Taylor’s Stream of Consciousness As She Tries Not to Think About Birthday Cake)

1. Find a partner to stick with who appreciates the finer things in life like you do. Like ice cream.

2. A good pen always extracts better verbiage.

3. Why haven’t they invented a way to eat popcorn or dry cereal without it getting all over your lap/the floor/your keyboard/in between seat cushions?

4. Let’s spread the word about providing basic recycling bins and sustainable materials everywhere, k? It’s 2014. Enough of this let’s give you a separate plastic bag for each of the 20 items you bought at Kroger today nonsense.

5. Talking to yourself has a stigma that it doesn’t deserve. YOU TELL ‘EM, TAYLOR!

6. Walking through the rain – not running – is a great exercise in vulnerability.

7. I don’t care if it’s expensive and high-maintenance: Pedicures are essential for runner-yogis.

8. Never think badly about who you were in the past – you’re pretty awesome nowadays.

9. Fresh basil can turn anything into magic. Except maybe coffee, which is magic enough thankyouverymuch.

10. I fully trust that drivers everywhere would be more relaxed on the roads if more people used their blinkers. But especially the drivers in Nashville, Tennessee.

11. You should sweat every day by making your body move somehow. Our bodies were designed for movement, and the stigma with sweating should also be wiped out. Pun intended.

12. It’s never too late to say “I’m sorry.” There is no statute of limitations on genuine apologies.

13. Playing phone tag is better than not trying.

14. Say ‘no’ when you have a feeling your brain will heave a sigh if you say ‘yes.’

15. There should be a requirement for disconnecting from all technology for at least at least five hours a week for all people with smartphones.

16. While I’m at that: America needs to make like France and tell people it’s illegal to check your work email after 6p.m. C’mon, Obama!

17. If we all learned about what it takes for a single flower to grow – the miraculous science behind it – we would not take so much for granted and we’d all probably move our offices outdoors and be a happier human race. Probably.

18. You can have multiple places you call home and you don’t have to justify them to anyone.

19. Long, silent drives are cheap therapy. Long, silent night drives are practically sacred.

20. Tell whoever you’re thinking about that you are, in fact, thinking of them the very moment you do. Don’t miss a chance to make someone’s day.

21. If we couldn’t laugh, we would all go insane.

(Alright, I’m gonna give that one to my boy Jimmy Buffett. I didn’t really say that. You can quote me on everything else.)

22. There should always be room in the grocery budget for fresh flowers, especially if your favorites are available. And men: don’t tell me you don’t have a favorite flower. Don’t be a pansy! (har har)

23. Never take anything personally. It’s easier said than done, but with practice you’ll find it to be quite relieving.

24. Why isn’t there a service that delivers wine 24/7? Don’t steal that. I’m on to something.

25. Always save room for ice cream.

 

Struggles of seriousness and self-identity

I started training for my first half marathon a little over two years ago. By the time I crossed the finish line of the Horsetooth Half with a New Belgium beer waiting for me, I had already caught the running bug. I shopped at Fleet Feet. I wore running clothes when I wasn’t running. I subscribed to Runner’s World, learned about Plantar Fasciitis and how to pronounce it, and gleefully discovered a whole big world of sweaty, carb-scarfing people who loved running as much as I did. I began to identify as a runner, and quickly many who knew me did too, and I was really proud of it; I wore it like a badge of honor. Heck, I created this blog because of it, essentially.

Fast forward, and sparing you details, I injured my foot during marathon training with 7  weeks to go before my third marathon this spring. I took 11 days off of running and jumped into cross training: cycling, swimming, yoga and strength training. What shocked me was I didn’t miss running. My familiar, neurotic don’t-miss-a-training-run self was out to lunch in China.

I missed out on a few weeks of crucial mile-building for the marathon while waiting for my foot to get back to normal. As it stands, about a week out, I have decided the smartest thing to do would be the half marathon instead. I know better than to fight through 26.2 miles, even if my foot feels fine-ish now, without having built up the mileage the right way. Plus, to keep running healthy for the rest of my life without a prolonged injury is ideal.

The struggle doesn’t lie in the fact that, for the second time now, I’m switching from the full to the half marathon. I’m secretly (or not so, now that it’s on the record) relieved. The struggle is in how I self-identify.

The more I’ve cross-trained, the less I’ve wanted to run. The more I’ve explored cycling HITT workouts and shakti kicks and chin-ups, the more interested I’ve become in pursuing fitness goals outside of running. As a result, I feel like less of a runner, like I’m betraying my sport.

If I don’t self-identify as a runner because of my own subjective definition, then who am I? (Okay, anyone else picture Zoolander looking up at the stars and asking the same question before his matchbook-size cell phone rings?) I know there is more to me than my PRs and mile splits, but everyone is proud to self-identify somehow; it’s personal, and it can mean a great deal.

Recently I had a wake-up call through a conversation with my mother. She was giving me a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and I was coming up with a thousand and one reasons why I should. She finally said it, casually, but it was like a light switched on: “I think you take things too seriously. Your dad and I have talked about it,” she said. Instead of getting butt hurt, I laughed because I knew it was true. And not only true, but something so easy and relieving to change. I gauged the notion of taking things too seriously with my boyfriend too, demanding he not spare my feelings, and tell me honestly. He agreed with my parents. Confirmation received.

As a result, I’ve been (trying) not taking this whole not-feeling-like-running thing too seriously, but there is a little part of my brain that is knocking: “Whooooo are you?!” I know it’s silly to structure my self-identity around a certain number of weekly miles on my calendar, but I have for the past few years, and breaking away from that, like any habit, isn’t easy.

Next week, I will be thrilled and excited to run the Country Music Half Marathon. I will miss running with those I’ve trained with, and not being able to say I have three marathons under my belt. I’ll be excited about the carbo-loading, the celebrations afterward.

I may just do a cartwheel over the finish line or something fun and weird. That wouldn’t be taking things too seriously now, would it? Maybe I could find a new identity in just that.

Remember Two Things

I’d like this post to be void of mention that I haven’t written in a while. But cat’s already out of the bag.

I’ve not written in some time. I’m sorry about it, moreso for myself since writing is like therapy. Whether or not other people read my writing has little effect on why I have a blog in the first place. But I do, so here I am, and now that we’ve addressed this, I’d like to move on by saying:

Happy March!

Instead of slogging you through the last 8 weeks of marathon #3 training, I’ll just update you with the biggest stuff:

1. I ran 119.65 miles in February, teaching myself to count the extra mileage every time! By the time I calculated it, I was already dressed up to go out to dinner with my boyfriend on the last day of February. I lost Dedicated Runner points (those are real things.) when I decided not to finish the last .35 and instead go eat a bison burger. I’ll keep in mind that every little bit adds up this month.

2. I am a “wimp” and I’m okay with it. January sucked, okay? It just took one big blow to my tough runner ego when it decided to be ugly and freezing and utterly merciless. I bundled up a few times but mostly gained mileage on the treadmill. The thing I’ve found hard to deal with is the lack of snow; I would gladly bundle up for snowy runs more often. Like this:

snow

February was a little better, and I enjoyed the outdoors a little more. But yesterday we were iced in, so I took my run to the treadmill again. What I’ve learned is that adjusting to what fits for you (and not comparing yourself to others in the process) is a success in itself. At the end of the day, I ran, the miles counted, and I still got better.

Overall, I have felt the best this training season than I ever have. I feel myself getting faster each week and my endurance is elongating (is that right? I say so). Although my training diet derailed around NFL Playoff Time/Super Bowl/Post-Super Bowl depression/cruise vacation, I got back into fighting shape.

I’m running my first race of the year this Saturday, the Tom King Half. I’m shooting to PR by hitting a 1:45:59. It’s a flat course, and I’ve heard very PR-Friendly.

How have YOU endured this season running in the Polar Vortex?

Do you laugh in the face of -3 windchill?

When’s your next race?

run

A post obligatory: Recapping 2013

End-of-the-year reviews are EVERYWHERE on the Internet right now.

Miley Cyrus. Obama. Twerking. Progress and lack thereof in Congress. Music. Twerking. Lists of bests/worstsGIFs. Politics. Twerking. Food porn. Selfies. Bad fashion choices. Ridiculous feats of viral social media. 

Honestly? My guilty pleasures. Maybe I’m just a sucker for looking back on things and reminiscing. Okay, not maybe, definitely. I’m loud and I’m proud about it.

Luckily, since this is my blog, I get to self-indulge and do my own end-of-the-year review, but not in twerking (other blog), for RUNNING, races and milestones. What did you expect?

Without further distraction from this very important post, I give you:

THE 13 RUNNING-RELATED THINGS THAT MATTERED IN 2013.

1. I ran my first marathon.

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Sometimes you shamelessly gotta be a fan of photos of yourself. I’m a fan of this one.

The inaugural Asheville Marathon in Asheville, NC, took place a day after my dad’s birthday on March 3. The race was tough and cold and beautiful and went through the Biltmore Estate grounds. I finished in 4:02:50 with frozen snot on my face and some great moral support at the finish. I’ll never forget finishing and just wanting to sit down SO BAD that I was irate about it. I guess you have the right to be cranky after running 26.2 in 25-degree weather. Brrrr.

2. I ran my second marathon 7 weeks, 5 days later.

Crossing the finish with Daniel Hudgins, Ariel Schwartz, and myself. All wrought with emotion.

Crossing the finish with Daniel Hudgins, Ariel Schwartz. All wrought with emotion.

This marathon was cray cray. I had high hopes for a warm spring marathon after Asheville, but the rain gods decided to throw the party of the year right on the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. Lovely. It was raining from the start and didn’t finish until it was too late to even matter. What kept me going through this race was who I ran with. Shout out to my East Nasties! Heyo! I would not have made it in 3:57:46 if not for their grit and encouragement. We sang/gasped “Eye of the Tiger” at mile 23. I felt like I was running in a wet suit and wondered when I’d get to see Shamu. We kicked it in on the last mile, and held hands as we crossed the finish line for Boston.

3. The Boston Marathon bombings.

It wouldn’t be right not to acknowledge the impact this tragic event had on my sport. On one of the most celebrated days in running – the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013 – we all know what happened. Three lives were lost, and 170 people were left with life-shattering injuries. Our nation was struck again with tragedy, but out of it came resilience and hope. The running community here and all over the world came back stronger for it, proving: If you’re going to weaken the spirit of anyone, marathoners are the wrong ones to target!

4. I joined Girls on the Run as a practice session volunteer and running buddy.

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On our December 7th race at Percy Warner! 28 degrees.

Giving back to your community should be on your list of priorities, or “New Year’s Resolution” if it isn’t, k? I kicked off 2013 deciding I finally needed to get involved in helping out my world in whatever ways I could. I was blessed to find Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that fosters self-esteem, confidence, and strength in the hearts, minds, and bodies of elementary school girls through a 10-week program and training schedule with a 5k race at the end. I completed two semesters helping out, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The girls have shown me what it means to be inspirational, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from them. DID YOU RUN A 5K WHEN YOU WERE 10-YEARS-OLD IN 28-DEGREE WEATHER? THEY DID! I mean, dang.

5. I ran the Bolder Boulder on my birthday with my mom.

Sun. Mom. Boulder. Running. Birthday. Happy.

Sun. Mom. Boulder. Running. Birthday. Happy.

To ring in year 24 with some pizzazz, the fine folks at the Bolder Boulder (dubbed by Runner’s World as America’s best 10k) decided to hold the event on my birthday and welcome me with a free race entry and a parade in my honor. Just kidding. That would have been too much. But it DID happen on my birthday, my amazing mother ran it with me, I was back in my happy place (Boulder), AND two great friends came to surprise me. Bliss didn’t even begin to describe it.

7. I ran three trail races.

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This hill was featured in the Music City Ultra Trail 10k and 50k. It was a you-know-what.

I didn’t get to hit the trails as much in 2013 as I did in 2012. I guess that’s what happens when you 1.) move from Colorado to middle Tennessee and automatically have less options, and 2.) get a bonafide J-O-B that doesn’t allow the flexibility trail running kinda needs. Thankfully, the racing community in middle Tennessee is strong and adventurous, and I found three great trail races: The Nashville Running Company Peeler Park 10k, The Music City Ultra 10k & 50k (did the 10k), and the NRC’s Bell’s Bend. I loved all three, but the Music City Ultra was probably my favorite. It was so untamed, I got a little lost, it was brutal, and I won 2nd place for females. Trail races are opportunities to dig deep, get a little unconventional, and experience something totally different. Not to mention, you get a little more dirt on your legs, which I’m always a fan of.

8. I dropped running my 3rd marathon, and ran a half instead – and PR’d.

Bling bling.

Bling bling.

With my new job, I had a lot on my plate during marathon training for Chattanooga 7 Bridges. I had a lot of stress at work and wasn’t able to train properly for my third 26.2 of 2013. I flip-flopped on what to do, finally deciding to do the half and enjoy the lesser risk of getting injured or not finishing. I ended up with a PR of 1:46:07, felt fantastic, and had a great supporter in Chattanooga resident, and my world-travel partner Dorothy. I decided that half marathons are my jam and I want to do more in the future.

9. I PR’d in the 5k and ran it with friends.

East Nasty running crew. Blasty blast.

East Nasty running crew. Blasty blast.

Each year, East Nashville is home to the Tomato Festival, where tomatoes come together with art and it is a big love fest for a weekend. There’s also a race. I ran it with friends from East Nasty and PR’d with 22:18. I ran a 6:51 mile, which blew my mind. We drank beer before 10a.m. and I was so happy.

10. My parents indulged me on a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Denver.

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Bill and Trudee rock.

Before cooking up our non-traditional Thanksgiving meal of homemade manicotti and smoked ham, my parents ran the Denver Turkey Trot with me. My sister and our dog cheered us at the finish. I loved getting to re-visit my old stomping grounds in Denver, and loved being home. My parents are the coolest!

11. I found THE shoes.

Pearl Izumi N2 road. Shoes are a girl's best friend.

Pearl Izumi N2 road. Shoes are a girl’s best friend.

You know when you find THE ONE? You get excited about their arrival. You can’t stop staring. You don’t want to be apart? Yeah, that’s what I felt this year when I discovered Pearl Izumi’s N2 road shoe. The ones pictured above are my second pair (I go through shoes fast). Thanks to Nashville Running Company, and my bff who works for Pearl Izumi, I was introduced to these babies and was able to get them again even under a tight budget. Score!

12. I pledged to streak again.

Yes, as part of the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak, I pledged to run at least one mile each day from Thanksgiving Day to New Years. It’s Day 21 right now, and I’ve still got it!

13. I ran in six states in 2013.

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Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Colorado, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. From trails to the beach, my obsession with running took me lots of places I never would have gone.

So what’s up for 2014? I am scheduled to run the Country Music Marathon again in April, with high hopes that it will not rain at least the whole time. I’m looking forward to training with my East Nasty group again, and build my speed and endurance.

2013 was an epic year in running for me. As for twerking, well… I’ll leave that up to the other ubiquitous “Year-in-Review”s.

32 reasons I run (and I’m not getting over it)

I really don’t want to do this. But as a runner, and a writer, I simply must.

I’m going against myself to give MORE attention to an inane article (and poorly written at that) published on the Wall Street Journal titled “OK, You’re a Runner. Get Over It.” Basically, the writer makes an outcry about how people who run, like to run, and like to express it via social media, their bumper stickers, or choice of clothing. (Ha!)

Instead of inciting anger or rendering me doubtful about why I do what I do, the article made me laugh and pity Couch Potato Chad Stafko. Good thing there are programs for reversing that…

Not ones to sit down and stay quiet, the running community went a little vocal when this came out. Instead of writing an argumentative piece counteracting all of Chad’s statements, however, I’d like to thank him first. His article did make me feel a little nuts for loving running so much, but you know, I’ve been looking for what sets me apart from all the other blonde 20-somethings working in the bluegrass music industry. Being nuts is a good identifier. So thanks for the exercise in self-identity, Chad.

I appreciate his article, too, because it made me contemplate the reasons why I run, and why I love it. So in our list-driven world, I’m contributing mine: 32 reasons I run (and I’m not getting over it).

1. It’s free

2. I get to shed femininity and spit and snot rocket and other non-feminine things

3. I genuinely enjoy working up a sweat

4. Post-run beers

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A nice Highlander after my first marathon in Asheville, North Carolina.

5. I have witnessed more beautiful sunrises and sunsets than I can keep track of or Instagram

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At my favorite place, Percy Warner.

6. Getting my nature fix. Because nature is neat.

7. The opportune moment when you pass another runner and give each other high fives

8. Hills

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Real live hill on a 6k trail race course. Brutal. Badass.

9. Stairs

10. Views

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Chattanooga, Tennessee

11. Heroes, and chances to meet them

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Olympian and CU Buff Alum, Kara Goucher and me at the Country Music Marathon Expo, April 2013

12. Weight loss/management (special note: Since I seriously took up running, I’ve lost 30 pounds.)

13. My Garmin

14. Free swag at races

15. Free food and drinks at races (pshhh race fees. shhh!)

16. Running friends who like to talk about running with you, and you don’t feel like you’re boring/confusing them

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These are my awesome East Nasty friends after we just finished a 5k and were looking for beer and food, but we were so fast that it was still so early and nothing was open yet.

17. An excuse to wear a headlamp

18. More showers

19. Exploring new places

20. IT’S THE MOST FUN THING TO BRAG ABOUT EVER, so deal, because I’m not gonna stop

21. Every month I get Runner’s World in the mail, which isn’t bills, bills, bills.

22. Tech t-shirts

23. New shoes every few months

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24. Empty streets early in the morning

25. Running past graduations, circuses, parades, food truck festivals (a lesson in always carrying cash!), proposals, breakups, and many very nice and vocal homeless citizens. Been there, done that

26. Jamming out to music like Foo Fighters, Neil Young, and Tom Petty, and learning all the words because you never rotate their “Greatest Hits” off your playlist

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Dave Grohl, whom I adore.

27. Playlists

28. Athletic wear, because I wish I could get away with wearing tights and Oiselle ALL the time (something of which Stafko totally doesn’t get, which must really suck for him)

29. It gives me something to write about (ahem, hence this blog)

30. I have to do something better than my boyfriend, because he’s really good at a lot of things

31. Two words: Foam. Roller.

32. I really enjoy pancakes, and I also really enjoy being a size 4

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Best ones in Nashville are at the Pancake Pantry, mark my word!

Sorry I have to stop there. I could go on. But if you’ll excuse me, I’ve gotta run.

Views

I like views.

I like starting at the bottom of something, and looking up ahead and thinking, for a split second, that I need to come up with an excuse to turn around.

I like convincing myself that there is no valid excuse at the moment, that moving and going will erase the lazy desire for said made-up excuse. (You are dumb, you made up that excuse last week. Time to get original.)

I like picking up the pace.

I like slowing down when there’s a slight change of environment so I can enjoy it.

I like saying hello to others.

I like getting to the point where I feel grateful.

I like the feeling of “almost there.”

I like pushing through the last few challenging maneuvers.

And then I like the views.

There’s no denying that views are spectacular, pretty much wherever you go. The word ‘view’ automatically implies an aesthetically pleasing scene. Sometimes thrilling, sometimes just…nice.

From them, you can see what you can’t when you’re living your normal life.

People and cars look like ants.

Things like clouds and trains and rivers and airplanes get more and more lethargic the farther away they are. The world is suddenly big and there and opened up, like it always is, but just especially in that moment for you to notice.

At the view, I like knowing what it took to get there.

I like looking forward to a different perspective during the descent.

I like the challenge of not looking at the same thing the same way twice.

I like seeing the same thing again, and finding confirmation I’m going the right way.

I like getting back to the start, knowing I have another experience under my belt, and another story to tell.

I like views.

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Rewind: May

Lots happened in May, guys! Lots of really great things.

I ran, I went to the beach, I ate well, I drank well, I saw live music, I danced, I saw mountains, I saw my family, I flew, I laughed a lot, and I ran some more.

Total mileage: 75.5

My mileage decreased because I didn’t have any marathons, nor was I training. I was just running for sprints and grins (but still keeping track of mileage because I am just a tad OCD. We’re all a little weird).

Within this Rewind, I have a race recap! (TA-DA!) of the Bolder Boulder. I’m still pinching myself because it was so dang’d awesome.

I flew home to Colorado for a super quick weekend…needed to see my kick-ass family, mountains, and friends. Since I was back, I wanted to soak in all of the outdoor goodness my higher elevation home offers. So, I ran stairs with a friend at Red Rocks, hiked 6 miles, biked ~20 miles from Frisco to Breckenridge and back. Then I turned 24 and ran the Bolder Boulder 10k (America’s All Time Best 10k!) with my awesome mother. I know. I sound like Iron Woman. I wasn’t always like this, but I’m glad I am now.

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The Coughlins take a photo op in Breckenridge

The past couple races I ran were grey, squeaky, and wet. The sun decided to peace out on me for those races. But as we drove into sun-kissed Boulder on May 27th, the sun wasn’t peacing out anytime soon, and the sky was blue, speckled with white clouds. The Birthday Gods and the Race Gods supposedly had a little get-together and agreed that there would be nothing but sunshine for my day. Thank you, Birthday and Race Gods. May I see you working together in the future!

My mom and I took places in our given time waves, and as I slowly moved up to the starting line at 8:15am, my adrenaline started pumping and I had a shameless shit-eating grin on my face. I will never get sick of that at-the-starting-line feeling.

Throughout the 6.2 mile course, I ran with men painted like tigers, Teletubbies, firefighters, fairies, hippies, dads and daughters, moms and their moms, kids, superheroes, and wheelchair racers. I ran past belly dancers, the first house I lived in as a sophomore at CU, a slip-n-slide, and friendly college kids on summer break offering tempting cold cans of PBR. I was beyond thrilled to run in Boulder on such a beautiful day with such happy people. It was just a dream for me, guys. It’s how I want to spend my life: Outside, being active, and surrounded by happy, active people. I wouldn’t complain about free PBRs either.

My time was 52:50, which I wasn’t thrilled about, but I wasn’t looking to PR anyway. Plus, I figured the slower starting time held me back a little. And the altitude. And the walkers. And being tempted by cold PBRs. But as much as I try to just run for joy and whatnot, I still am a perfectionist when it comes to running and yes, times DO matter. We’re all a little weird.

What was really, truly the icing on the (birthday) cake was not running through Folsom Field (oh, the memories!), and not seeing the thousands of people cheering on the sidewalks and lawns and street corners, but being surprised by these two girls (the sister and photo-bomber excluded).

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Ashlee (far right) and Maddie behind her. Kara (sister) is on the left, and Photobomb King.

Ashlee and Maddie have been such strong, positive, solid friends (I wish Emily and Erika would have been there to complete our group!). We’ve laughed about boys, shared beds in hotel rooms, and have many great pictures and stories that we will never share outside of us. We are that group of girl friends and I am blessed to have ’em.

I hope to do this race again, but I know it’ll never be as good as the first time (insert ‘that’s what she said’ snicker here).

Ashlee, me, and Maddie having some fun at the Boulder Creek Festival after the race.

Ashlee, me, and Maddie having some fun at the Boulder Creek Festival after the race.

And that, my readers, was May.

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