Tuesday, April 30, 2019

No Earbuds Week 7

Day 43: Another rest day.

Day 44: Core and strength day. Finding a rhythm and not being distracted by what I should listen to even as I work out. Silence brings its own kind of focus. I can bench press about 65 pounds so its not like I need a lot of focus on my wee strength.  

Day 45: A new run for me- running the stairs at Jack Trice Stadium. Coach wanted me to hike up the stairs and then crush it going back down. An hour later I'm drained. I didn't know how it would be to do such a daunting workout and not have some music to motivate me. I stayed intense and know that had music been pumping through my earbuds, I would most likely have ripped them out. (But if I could have music blaring through the stadium sound system, that would probably be different!)

Just a typical training day
Day 46: Hello! Yesterday's run has left my calves and quads destroyed. I head out for an early meet up with Anne and Kristy and I feel like I can barely make my legs move. I can also barely make my mind move but I listen carefully to them. We each could go for an hour solid of airing our cares, concerns and crazies. Instead we spend time passing the mic back and forth. It's important to each of us that each of us are heard. For the rest of the day I prepare food for Easter dinner for us and Audrey and some of her friends. 

Oh the feast these people filled me with!
I don't remember if I explained this at the beginning, but when I chose to not listen to any music or podcasts during my run (and no podcasts whatsoever), it was in conjunction with observing Lent. And it was an unexpected choice. Both in observing Lent and with what I chose to fast from. One doesn't have to follow a religious tradition to practice restriction of course. I don't normally follow the liturgical calendar as it is but this year was different and I've learned to listen to the rhythms I am lead to.

All that to say this was a very good practice for me. I loved not having to mess with deciding which podcast or playlist to listen to, making sure to download it, messing with all the cords that become tangled the instant you set them down and then require stringing through my clothes. Getting out the door became a little bit simpler, a little bit faster because these steps were eliminated. I know this especially now that I'm on the other side of the fast. All theses choices are now mine to make again and they all take time. (Today I lost a glove because it wasn't secured during my run while I was messing with my earbuds.)
I am also missing out on what my brain is processing simply by having a distraction feeding into my ears all the time. This is perhaps the biggest thing I took away from the past 46 days. I might have said this before but the thinking time has been there but I've been busy cluttering it up. It took this practice for me to remember this and to embrace it. For the most part, I really like the white space.
That being said, I am sometimes too much in my head and would have welcomed a respite from the voices talking back to me. (I'm an Enneagram 1 and we come with loud inner critics) Having something to help me shut them down for a while is not a bad thing. 

During this time, I've given a bit of thought to the idea that we are more of an add in culture rather than a take away culture. We'd rather add a pill, drink a new magic elixir, follow a strict regimen than to reduce what we're consuming either in our minds, bodies or spirits. And we often deny obvious outcomes, saying something doesn't affect us when in truth, everything we take in does affect us. Simply said, we cannot consume and be immune. 
After such a break, I'm slowly navigating my way back. It is easier just to choose one way and do only that. Set it and forget it. But we were not made to live with fasting only or feasting only. We were made to do both. Learning to live that way, that everything is a choice, is a lot harder. Making space, margin and a lot of times saying no actually opens up opportunities and discoveries usually within us. We only have to learn to be okay with the quiet.


Friday, April 26, 2019

No Earbuds Week 6

Day 36: Rest days are important. As I slowly build up my training, I'm being mindful of building a healthy rest day routine. Today I took Kaci for a walk for a couple of miles, then I did an easy yoga practice and tried to be thorough in foam rolling. I think rest days should be easy but often I get caught up in making it more and it doesn't stay restful. 

Day 37: I made a beet smoothie after my workout today. Smoothies are eluding me at the moment. I used to make them all the time but for some reason, they currently wreck my system. I'm suspecting its because of the huge handful of greens I throw in. This beet smoothie doesn't have any greens in it but it does have chocolate in it and it tasted great!  

This be the tastiest beet smoothie

Day 38: I was able to run with Anne and Kristy and after they finished their miles, I did hill repeats. One trick I'll be practicing in this new training phase is to commit to run as many repeats as is the number of the month. So I did 4 repeats on each hill until I got the mileage I needed. I did not dress warm enough for the wind and temperature combination and started to feel really bad by the end of the run. I got home and immediately started shivering. Weather in April is weird. 

Day 39: Another early morning run. This time to meet several friends at Jester Park for a complicated loop around the flooded park. We're hoping the flood waters stay away this summer. It has damaged so many of our trails already this year. 

Somehow I became the designated group selfie taker
Day 40: Light yoga and stretching and a good soak in the tub. I'm trying to determine if a weird spot on the bottom of my foot is a callous of some kind or a wart. (hard hitting blogging right there)

Day 41: I'm constantly amazed at the changes a few days can make. Taking an easy pace and letting the mind wander. 

April creek
Day 42: On the plan for today, I was supposed to hit certain paces on specific miles. About mile 1.2 I was on the struggle bus. My diet the night before and leading up to it hadn't been great and I could tell. I remembered a little piece of advice I had heard from ultra runner Sally MacRae and that was to keep my heart up. So on those miles when I was hurting, I just thought of keeping my heart up. For one, it kept me focused on something. And secondly, it pointed my attention to positivity. Eventually I found myself on the last mile and still hitting the pace I needed to even though it hurt. Keep your heart up!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

No Earbuds Week 5

Day 29: I spent this rest day buddying up with the foam roller and doing an extended yoga session. 

Day 30: I am so stoked that this training block has a day specifically for strength training. You know I continually refer to my wee arms so by no means will I be bulking up but I will be hitting the core strength hard and adding in weights to build and balance me out. My body responds better with some weight-training added. I started my session with a 10 minute row. Some of you may recall I had a not-so-great experience the last time I tried to use a rowing machine and have avoided it ever since. But after reading Boys in the Boat, I was motivated to get back on it and have had success so far. It could easily become my favorite workout machine beside the treadmill because it is so body complete.

Day 31: The red-winged blackbirds are out but have not started nesting yet so thankfully they only squawk from the branches instead of flying with an overhead attack. The sheep at the farm north of town are ready to lamb so I stopped in the middle of a timed mile to take a picture. 
Loving this v-ewe for as long as I can
Day 32: It was an early start for the three of us. 6:00 AM at this time of year still requires a headlamp for almost an hour. A few neighbors had stirred but for the most part it was us running in the dark talking about everything but mostly about puppies. Melinda has had her puppy for a couple of weeks and Julia was going to pick hers up later that morning, hence the early start. 

So early we're delirious 
Day 33: Off day of running but when for a walk with Kristy and took Kaci along. Kristy and I talked at length about community. She and her family are moving in June and my heart can hardly handle it. She knows what she'll be looking for in their new place. I'm learning to listen for what I need in community, fellowship.

Kaci says Kristy's neighborhood has good dogs.
Day 34: I spent most of this run thinking about the egg salad wrap I had eaten for lunch that did not sit well with me. I like egg salad. What I don't like are wraps. I've tried. I think they are a bad pitch for a sandwich plus you don't get as much sandwich filling as you think. Get a sandwich with bread or no bread at all. It was also almost 80 degrees with 20 mph headwinds for most of my run and I became overheated, dehydrated and sunburned in 6 miles. Today was not a good day but I didn't quit.

Day 35: Bill was headed to Cambridge again to ride so I snagged a ride with him again to run the same trail I kind of don't love again. Compared to yesterday, it was barely 60 degrees, overcast and only a slight breeze and I took water with me.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

No Earbuds Week 4

Day 22: Today I learned about frost boils. It's a thing I guess where the frost heaves up the ground, turning it very soft and underneath a hole is left and vehicles and people can sink. Or at least this is how Anne described it. Initially we had seen a hole in the gravel road where a culvert had washed out and then it lead to the discussion and examination of frost boils. Tell me this is what you talk about with your friends.

Hole in the Road- band name- called it

Day 23: Today was Kaci's first run in a long time. I took her out for about a mile and a quarter, dropped her off at home and finished my run. Later, as I was doing a bit of yoga, she was conked out next to me. However, she's really good a downward dog.

Day 24: Yoga and foam rolling 

Day 25: I had on schedule a long run but time only permitted me a shorter run. The wind was howling and the temperature didn't feel spring-like at all. The Barkley Marathons is this weekend and I spent a lot of time obsessively checking Twitter for updates and a lot of time wrapping my mind around the athletes mind sets. 

Day 26: I decided this would be the year I attempt a challenge I came up with and have spent a long while tweaking it. I have a small forest preserve near me and I've run hours and hours in it since it is my nearest trail. I decided to run a loop of my design for every month. In January I ran one loop. February is the second month so I ran two loops. Today being the very last day of March, I had to run three loops. Amber joined me and having her along helped pass those not quite 6 miles total much more quickly.

Flower in the Forest- art piece- called it

Day 27: I was up very early to join Anne and Kristy for a run. If you heard three women chattering away at 5:15, we're only a little bit sorry we woke you.

Day 28: I'm officially on training for a fall race that I hope I get into. I will tell you more about if it happens. Bill took a long lunch today so he could ride for a short bit so I threw on my running gear and ran from Cambridge to back home. It was a decent run for me although this short, flat section is always mentally tough for me. I'm not quite sure why. I can remember almost all of the times I've run it and what I was thinking and feeling. On this section was the first time I had ever heard of the Barkley Marathons and I remember being fascinated. It is only by coincidence that I would be running this stretch so close to this past weekend's race.
Training for the Unknown- book title- called it


Friday, March 29, 2019

No Earbuds Week 3

Day 15: You've probably noticed by now I don't run every day. I had intentions of running today except for my body really wasn't having any of it and I decided to rest. 

Day 16: It's the end of March and we desperately want Spring. I want the sun to be a warm sun and feel betrayed when I step outside to have the wind chill me and the shadows still piled with snow. Bill asked if I had time for a run and there was no way I was going to turn that offer down. We haven't gone for a run together in a long time. It was great to be with him.

Hello, sunshine!

Day 17: Rest day/grocery day/Audrey came home for supper

Day 18: The trails around here are starting to dry out but not quite enough so Melinda and I hit the gravel once again. We took a new route around here and had quite a bit of fun for Iowa gravel roads. She's reading a long biography about The Beatles and I just finished a book about the 1936 Olympic gold medal men's rowing team titled The Boys in the Boat. This book unexpectedly resonated with me and will stay with me for quite some time. 

With delirium setting in after 15 miles, we called him the lucky caterpillar

If you haven't seen hay bale creations, have you even run Iowa gravel roads? 

Day 19: It was race day for the boys, so I recovered by walking trail and standing for nearly all day watching them race.

Day 20: An easy three miles with Anne turned into an easy 4 because we had parenting things to work out. We solved approximately none of our problems.

Day 21: My plan was to go for a run but my body is begging for me to take care of it.
Body- You should take care of me today. Instead of going for a run, how about you do a bit of yoga, hit the foam roller, maybe a bath and definitely work on a callous or two.
Me- Nah, I'm good. I haven't really been training for anything so I'm fine.
Body- No, you're not fine. That weird thing on the bottom of your right foot hurts even when you stand on it. Both of your hip flexors cramp up when you sit sometimes and your lower back is tight.
Me- Listen, I just switched to a 50k plan and I want to knock out the first day.
Body-You're not going to knock it out if you're injured.
Me- I'm fine. 
Me- Fine! You don't have to yell. Sheesh. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

No Earbuds Week 2

Day 8: off

Day 9: Aach! This weather! The past days of rain plus warming temps are thawing everything out which is great. We have to get to Spring somehow. But it is a grey and dirty mess to get there. Very similar to my mop water (dog, boys, dirt bikes). Which is what I decided I would do when I got home- mop while I was still in my running clothes. 

Day 10: off

Day 11: Went for a run with a friend on the Neil Smith Trail since the dirt trails are thawing and drying out. I love being able to run with my friends to begin with but as I practice this time of silence, shared run are really highlighted. 

Day 12: I am a little sore from yesterday's run so I took Kaci on a quiet walk. Normally I catch up on a short podcast or two when taking her out but it was nothing for our mile and a half walk. I'm starting to enjoy to decluttering of my mind. 

Day 13: Today, I took care of Anne's dogs and spent the rest of my run thinking up a story from the dogs to text her while she and her family are on vacation. The real backstory is that yesterday they escaped and I had to chase them down. Today they hadn't eaten their food from yesterday so this is what I came up with.
Today we protested with a hunger strike. We've tasted freedom and we want it. We're inspired by Alexander Hamilton and Lafayette, the famous Frenchman, and so our cry is "Freedom for America! Freedom for dogs!"
On the day of their capture, they expressed no remorse, declaring this the best Spring Break ever

Day 14: "Can you go for a run at 10:00?" Yes! And so we talked, ran, walked and got some feelings out, both of us feeling a little less crazy at the end of it all. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

No Earbuds for 40 Days

I have decided to give up listening to anything on my runs for the next 40 days. It's time for a break from this habit for a little while. I do this often, particularly after a big race when I go out to quiet myself and ground myself to what I'm about and to reflect on where I've been.  

I mostly listen to podcasts during my runs in the winter and in the summer I listen to music. It’s kind of a weird thing I’ve noticed about myself. Perhaps its the stories that get me through winter and the motivation of the music that moves me in the summer. And I don’t listen to anything while racing. I’ve tried before only to find myself more engaged with the race than whatever is pumping into my ears. I used to run without listening to anything when I first started trail running. I was very busy learning how to run on a new surface. Now I'm revisiting this practice and bringing you along. 

So excited, can't you tell?

Day 1: I didn't run today. Crushing this goal.

Day 2: I jumped on the treadmill with Spotify pulsing through my earbuds. What the heck? First day and I’ve already blown it? I’m not even disappointed with myself. Because it was snowing again and I needed to run. A combination of listening to James Bay, watching Bill workout and some dirt bike video he was watching got me through. 

This is the best view I've had in a while. 

Day 3: Today’s run was outside.The weather has cleared for a brief time before more precipitation tomorrow. Out I went, sans headphones. I did notice right away it streamlined my prepping and leaving for my run. I didn’t have to untangle a mess of cords or thread them through my clothes. I didn’t have to debate which podcast to listen to and wait for it to download. I simply stuffed my phone in my pocket and that was it. I cannot say I had any lightbulb moments. I thought about a lot of things, as I normally do, even though as I write this now it feels more like a shower moment where you’ve had something brilliant come up and then can’t remember it five minutes later. 

Day 4: Treadmill time again. This time I was determined to not listen to anything but instead of being a quick transition out to the garage where I will stare at the same pull-up bar that taunts me, I was thorough with my running prep and did a few odd tasks around the house before finally getting going. Procrastination is real. With my workout on a post-it, I got started and once pass the warm-up, I found I was involved enough in each part of the plan, I could get through an pretty intense workout without music. Plus, I paid attention to the tension in my body as I pushed the pace, working to let it go while keeping my form in check.

Duct tape formally used to attach iPad to console but also workout sticky notes. Workout sticky notes because math.
Day 5: When Sunday night kinda goes to crap and Monday turns out sunny and dry and you get a text from a friend needing a long run, you go for a long run. You listen, you talk, you  get a little sunburned. 

Day 6: I thought of everything today and was amazed at the space my brain needed to wander. I spotted a Cardinal tucked back into the woods, catching only a flash of red. As I was wondering how I saw him, my ears picked up a call that started singularly but turned into to stereo the closer I got. I thought maybe it was some sort of electrical pinging or kind of construction noise. I stopped and listened to the stereo performance, first my left ear and then to my right. Carefully I scanned the trees, trying to locate what my ears had found. By luck, I came to rest on a Blue Jay. I could have missed his performance.

Day 7: No run today. 

I’m willing to let my mind and spirit wander where it needs to go. I’m curious to see what happens in the upcoming days.