chords and cadence

Another runner's writ

Archive for the tag “Relationships”

How I Abandoned a Relationship and How I Got It Back

Ever since I seriously took up running and racing in 2012, I’ve kept every single race bib on a safety pin. The older bibs are starting to fray and rip, but I’ve salvaged them with Scotch Tape like a mother saving her kid’s decade-old first art project (“Remember when you did this?”). In 2015, the stack nearly plateaued with the addition of only. two. bibs.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m a lazy monster.

Obviously, 2015 was a metamorphosis of sorts. Instead of running being my main squeeze, an actual human completely edged it out in my heart and soul (Aww. So corny. I had to. Hi, Jacob!). Also happening in my heart and soul were thoughts and ideas and realizations that resulted in me switching careers. So that took some attention and care too. Plus, I flirted with a lot of other forms of exercising that got me excited and feeling ripped. So, running got pushed to the side. “It’s not you, it’s me.”

Any runner will NOT think I’m crazy talking about my relationship with Running as if it were a real, warm, humanbody. When you know, you know. You know?

After I began feeling steady in The Changes of 2015 (a fiancé, new job, creaking in both my knees when I climb stairs), the ground thawed, tulips bloomed and allergies were blessing literally everybody. The sweet spring air and Daylight Saving Time successfully lured me outside more and more like sorority girls to a Luke Bryan concert. I started feeling the familiar butterflies I had at the beginning of my relationship with Running. Could we be starting anew?

With aplomb, I decided to test the waters with my maybe-rekindled relationship and signed up for the Moosic City Purity Dairy Dash 10k. The Fiancé would be out of town, so Running and me would have the time we needed (and he was totes cool about it).

I showed up to the Metro Center of Nashville on a bright, sunny, already-mid-60s morning. My shorts and t-shirt were comfortable, my shoes felt good. I left my phone in the car and just carried my I.D. and car key. No GPS, no Garmin, no music in my ears. It was FREEING.

Surrounded by all the runners – big groups, couples, women in tutus, anxious-looking teenagers- I felt energized. I wasn’t attached to anyone else there, but I certainly wasn’t lonely. I felt comfortable being back in a sea of other runners. “What chute are we actually starting in?” “Beautiful day, isn’t it?” “Good luck!, Thanks, you too” I tightened my ponytail, ignored the side stitch I just gave myself by chugging 24 oz. of water (dammit, I know better!) and loved the feeling of my heart beating in my chest with anticipation of hearing the gun go off.271087f7-d0c4-49cb-8499-307bef81e713

Running without a Garmin for the first time in forever, I counted the number of seconds between the gun and when I crossed the Start. Fifteen seconds.

I got into a groove pretty early on and felt on top of the world. I wanted to see how long I could maintain my pace, and started moving up pretty quickly. We passed the Tennessee Titan’s practice facility and I’m pretty sure I heard them yelling “1! 2! 3! 4!” as if doing jumping jacks. *cough*GO BRONCOS*cough* I was passed by a faster, smaller girl (hereby referred to as Fast Girl) who was friendly, saying “Thank you” to the cops standing by, protecting the course. She became my rabbit, even though I’ve told myself a million times to never compare myself to another runner (they could be having the best running day of their life or the worst. You do you).  The course took us up along the greenway that borders the Cumberland River and was as flat as all my jokes.

After Mile 3, the runner’s high started kicking in. I felt euphoric. My pace was strong, I was strong, and I thought to myself that who I was in that very moment was the best version of myself. It had come back to me: I am in love with running.  I am in love with who I am when I am running. Running is the best. I realized I had forgotten how much I loved this, but now I remembered and why.

At Mile 5, I caught up to the Fast Girl and we commented about how nice the shade was we were taking advantage of. We quipped how much we liked the flat course and encouraged one another on a great race. She told me to go ahead for the last mile, so I did. I crossed the finish with no one around me, but was cheered on by people at the finish line.

The clock said 50:45 when I finished, so I concluded my time was 50:30, based on when I actually crossed the Start line. I surprised myself, as I went into the race thinking I’d be satisfied with anything under 55 minutes.

About a minute later, Fast Girl finished and came up to me telling me I had a great race. We shook hands and told each other we pushed the other, and thanks for that.

I wandered around for a little while afterwards, nursing a cold chocolate milk and wondering when they would post the 10K results. Seeing when I finished made me curious to know if I had actually placed. After hearing too much “Cha Cha Slide” from the DJ, I decided to get my sweaty butt home for a shower and food. Thank God for the Internet so I could look up the results later.

I learned I placed 2nd for females ages 25-30, and placed 13th female overall. With those results, I know that Running wants me back, and I want it back too. I put myself out there and what I got in return was more fulfilling than I anticipated. So, we’re trying this again.

Tonight I have to add my bib to the stack…and maybe reconsider an upgrade to the bib-keeping system. I have a feeling the stack won’t be plateauing this year.

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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?

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.

Relationship status

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Enough said.

Four weeks (and a couple days) ’til the big day!

‘Til then, my tunes consist of:

Alt-J (My new jam, ‘Breezeblocks’)

The Devil Makes Three

The Eagles (Specifically ‘Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975′)

Dave Matthews Band ‘Away From the World’ album (This song)

run happy

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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