Monday, July 18, 2016

A Little Bit of Everything

Over the past two weeks, I have experienced what I would like to call a little bit of everything in my running.  Here's how.

Last weekend, I did what turned into an eight mile tempo with my Wednesday training partner.  Haven't done that in a long time.  My coach usually had me run progressions rather than tempos and that is further than I've gone at anything sub-8 since the Gettysburg Marathon.

Then on Sunday last weekend, I did my first real trail run.  Nine miles.  Slow but good.  Seeing a different aspect of running.

This Saturday, I ran 14 with Lauren, with whom I've put in tons of miles in the past four years, and her mom.  Including Dee led us to an easier pace than we would otherwise have taken, but I also got to see a route in the city I'd never run before.  That was fun.

Yesterday, I ran 3.2 with my dog (long for her in this heat) and then finished 4 total making this the first 18 mile weekend since Comrades.

Today, I ran 6 miles in "three acts."  I switched my Wednesday training partner to today because I want to participate in a Back on My Feet event on Wednesday.  She wanted to do only four and the heat and humidity were just as present as ever in the past three weeks today.  So we opened with 7:43 and 7:45.  Quick, but not too fast.  Then, as we returned from just past Little Havana in Federal Hill, we picked up the pace serious and ran 7:26 and 7:23 for the last two miles.  After that, I ran 8:45 and 8:30 as cool down to finish out my six for the day.

A little bit of everything.  Some same paths.  Some new.  Different people.  Different days.  Different paces.  

All challenging.  

All making me feel alive through running. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Trail Running

There is a fellow blogger at So What? I Run whose writing and spirit I have admired for years.  And for years, I've loved my city and well-kept-trail running.  Today, I had my first opportunity to join Sandy and two of her other running friends to see what this trail running was about.

It was a truly amazing experience  It was so different.  Slower.  More deliberate.  A lot to concentrate on so that running in autopilot was basically not a possibility.

Cooler.  Shady for the most part.

Streams to pass.  Logs to get over.  Pieces of tree root sticking up to watch out for.

Rocks.  Deer.  The reservoir.  An overlook.

And all the joy of being "in the wild."  Yes, it was a trail and not just romping over a new path.  But it is as close to nature as it should be as I have gotten in a run in a long time.  Being close to nature gives a certain peace and serenity that it is not always easy to get in city running. It allows a time and space to think where the hustle and bustle of the world is not there.

Additionally, running with a group of others provides validation.  I contrast running alone, running with one, and running with a group.  Alone is me time or with a focus on my fitness.  With one is a time to have a meaningful conversation or just enjoy one other person's presence.  A group, however, is special in a different way.  A part of the "running tribe" coming together with a shared goal, a shared interest, a shared end result that we are looking for.  A shared willingness to be there for each other.  A shared passion.

And that sense of sharing means a lot to me.  It helps me to make me feel like what I am doing is worth more than just the calories burned or the cardio fitness gained.  It makes me realize how many people out there share what it is that I think makes running an amazing component of life.

It makes me realize how much of a gift being part of the running tribe is.  And the fact that I can cross between the sub-tribes of city runners and trails and fast and not so fast is a gift as well.

It lifts my spirit.

Not that running alone or with just one other person does not.  It is just different to feel the power of a group moving together, working together, being there for each other, that gives it power.

And while I may not often be able to dedicate the time to trail running if I want to keep up my distance, I do look forward to now having another part of my running repertoire that I can turn to, so that I can continue to explore and seek and try new things.  

Monday, July 4, 2016

My Breakthrough Running Moment

I saw a contest to describe my breakthrough running moment.  For a variety of reasons, I decided not to enter the contest but gave myself the gift of thinking through what that would be.  What emerged surprised me, but shouldn't have.  In many ways, this is a 200 word summary of my Ignite Baltimore presentation.  

The quality of a run is sometimes measured by how fast or how far I’ve run, but it is always measured by how much meaning the experience provides.  Thus, my breakthrough running moment was not based on a distance or time.  I can recall events like my first three miler in which I kept up with teammates and my first half marathon, marathon, and ultra.  I can also recall times like my 1600-meter PR in 1987 (4:41), my BQ in 2012 (3:14:25), and my marathon PR in 2014 (3:09:49). However, my breakthrough running moment came on an otherwise non-descript running day in 2011.  I joined my first Back on My Feet circle and recited the Serenity Prayer before running.  It didn’t matter what the time or distance was that day.  That day, one idea finally crystalized in my mind: running is about more than personal fitness and competition.  Running is about community, deep friendships (like my running daughter, running sister, and running guardian angel), giving, sharing, expressing faith, and mentoring. Since then I’ve viewed running as an opportunity to learn more about myself or someone with whom I run. My runner’s high comes from what I learn rather than endorphins.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A "Connecting the Dots" Kind of Post--Why My Relay Team Might be Called Amicis Animalium

Back on My Feet as an organization likes to run events that offer a variety of ways to get from beginning to end.  Sometimes there are multiple options for relays.  Sometimes it is alone or relay.  I participated in 20in24 back in 2011 and don't recall the name of my relay team for that one.  I am about to participate in another Back on My Feet relay (this time in Baltimore) called Sneaks Come Out at Night--or just "Sneaks" for short.

The team will be one of my training partners, Lauren, and her mother, Dee.  I've known them for over five years, run consistently with Lauren for more than four of those, and participated in one relay with Lauren before.  When we ran a two person marathon relay, we called ourselves Running Family.  We have developed a friendship close enough to be family.  And that is what we had in common.

I'd run another two person relay with a former student of mine.  I mentored her about public health and some things about life in general.  She was the better runner and mentored me about running and service through running.  Our commonalities led to Who's the Mentor?

So, as the Sneaks race is now less than five weeks away and we formed our team, Lauren asked if I had any suggestions for a team name.  I didn't at first, but commented on how the themes of our love of animals and the importance of family are commonalities.

Despite having no idea at first, it stayed in the back of my mind.  One day this week, a colleague asked how I keep up with current events and professional development.  I gave an answer and then pondered aloud whether I should include reading Chronicle of Higher Education given my career goals.

Later in the week, I was skimming over the online version and found something that caught my attention about people who like academic administration.  I read the entire opinion piece.

In this piece, the author cited Harry Potter and talked mentioned who Professor Sprout's teaching led to Neville Longbottom becoming the next Professor of Herbology.  The author referred to this as a popular culture example of the behind the scenes work that administrators do.  I liked that.

In thinking about Harry Potter for a bit, it occurred to me that the spell names sounded like Latin.  So, I thought about how I could turn our common love for pets into a team name in Latin that might sound cool.

I tried a translation for animal lovers but even I could recognize that what it first gave me had potentially sexual connotations.

Interestingly enough with a quick search online, someone else had posed a similar question about translating "animal lover" into Latin.  (Although it did not seem to be related to a relay team.)

The answer to the earlier question had been to try "friends of animals" rather than animal lovers to capture the intent.

So, I looked it up and back translated leading to "amicis animalium".  And with that, we will see whether the whole team agrees or not.

Makes me wonder what other names I'd come up with if I run on any more relay teams.  My guiding goals is always to try to find things that reflect on the group's commonalities while sounding in some way, "cool".

And while I'm posting this in 56 Frickin' Miles, this is definitely an interesting "dot connecting" exercise.