Friday, September 21, 2012

Coyote Running

Friday.  Sky was blue.  Sun was shining.  Day was HOT.  Perfect day for running, in my estimation.

Today I had the privilege of running with the Centennial Coyotes cross country team!  I love running (surprise) and one of the best things about this whole marathon craziness is when I get to teach, share it, live it with others.  And who better to share it with that a group of high school kids and their fearless coaches who are about to embark upon their very first cross country race of the year!

First.  I would be remiss if I didn't offer a huge shout out to the coaches of said team.  While it might seem that training for running is really just about going running, truthfully there is a whole lotta science behind it and a whole lotta energy that goes into leading these students in practices and in meets.  Centennial coaches, you are wonderful.  The extra time and energy you dedicate to ensuring these student athletes can be a part of a team like cross country is nothing short of admirable and so large cyber hug to YOU.  Yes, you, D-Ost with your moullet (that's French for mullet) blowing in the breeze and YOU Chaney with your incredibly coordinated running attire.  I love that you guys give your time to these students and to running.  Thank-you.

Second.  WOW.  Exactly one calendar year ago I ran with this exact cross country team and had the opportunity to run with one runner girl who shall remain nameless.  Remember her?  Grade 10?  Super, super talented athlete?  Exceptional student?  Loves running, maybe even as much as I do?  Anyhow, runner girl is now is grade 11, and, I can state, with confidence, that the world should look out for this girl.  That's right.  Look. Out. World.  Her tenacity and spark are amazing.  She has huge goals.  And she's going after them.  Not just in running, too.  In LIFE.  To me, this is the sign of foresight and maturity well beyond her years.  It was a privilege to see her and run with her again, and I hope that she is enjoying her running journey just as much as I enjoy learning all about it. 

Third.  This team has a boxer.  A fighter.  If that ever gets old for him, he should certainly take up distance running as more than a supplement to his training.  Huge hill in Fish Creek Park?  He killed it.  And killed it 5 times.  Just for fun.  And then looked at the rest of us as if to say, "That's it?".  INSANE.  And awesome. 

Hopefully, one of the messages I shared with these runners was clear; and that is running is an amazing life sport that can take you to places you never even imagined.  It might take you to a crazy race in a crazy place.  It might allow you to meet and run with people who will change your life.  It might open doors that you never even knew existed.  It just requires that you keep on keepin' on.  Feet into shoes.  Shoes onto pavement.  One foot in front of the other.  AWESOME.

And the best running advice an old gal like me can give?  Here it is!

Friday, September 7, 2012

So Close...So Far Away

Sometimes 2:59.59 feels like its a long way away.

From 3:07, that is.

Confused?  My current marathon personal best is a 3:07.  My ultimate goal, for now, is a 2:59.  This means I need to shave a whole 7 minutes from my time.

7 minutes.  This is the length of time it took this morning for me to: park my car and walk into Starbucks.  Order a grande Earl Grey tea with lots of room in my lovely new white re-useable cup.  Pour a healthy amount of skim milk into said tea.  And return to car.  All things considered, not that long of a time frame.

But when I'm thinking about those 7 minutes out there on the marathon course, I am very aware of exactly how those 7 minutes are going to feel.  They certainly are not going to feel like this morning's leisurely stroll into Starbucks to order tea.  Those 7 minutes are going to hurt.  Hella hurt.  Body telling brain to stop hurt.  Lungs exploding, feet numb, every muscle in my body burning hurt.  The sweat equity that is going into those 7 minutes is extensive...intervals, long runs, hill training, tempo runs, recovery runs, yoga days, stretching, stretching, stretching.  To me, there is something so simple and beautiful about this, the fact that with marathon training, you get out EXACTLY what you put in. And yes, no will. HURT.

However, I also have to remind myself that my philosophy on running and training parallels my philosophy on life, in which case it is never just about the destination but about appreciating the journey along the way.  And what a journey to 2:59.59 it will be. Along the way there is 3:02 and 3:03 and 3:06.  Those numbers are all fabulous in their own right and stand for me being just a little better than I was last time out.  Even before the finish line is crossed and there is a final time on the clock, there are so many amazing adventures to be had within this journey.   Great running to be had with even better friends.  Great running to be had at high schools sharing what I know with kids who are likely way faster but maybe slightly less disciplined than me.  Great meals to be consumed after long, long, LONG Saturday or Sunday morning runs.  So much great, in fact, that I get excited just thinking about it.  And during my 30k tomorrow morning?  I'm going to breathe deeply, appreciate the moment and relish every step of the way.

And where does this leave me?  I guess it leaves me right in the middle of it all.  Putting one foot in front of the other.  Again, and again.  Heading towards the finish line, which is also the middle point...and the starting line and all the places in between.  2:59...I'm comin' for ya!