The holiday weekend was a fun one here in Mammoth. I always enjoy seeing the trails and roads busy with families running, biking and hiking. I like to offer encouragement or a “good morning” when I see people being active. In fact, last week I noticed a transition in what passersby were saying to me. I started running again three and a half months ago after having a long pregnancy hiatus. Since then, I always seemed to get the “enjoy your jog”, “you are tough to be out jogging in this weather” or “great day for a jog”.
Last week on two occasions I received more uplifting words. The comments were “nice pace” and “Wow! You’re fast”. I was elated to finally make the leap from jogger to runner. Most of us recoil to hear the word “jog” when we are out there pushing our limits. We are fast, or at least faster than our previous selves or faster than last week. We are making progress and we want to be noted for it.
But I’m not sure I need to feel the slightest offense. In this context, isn’t it the same thing? It would be insulting if someone commented on me “jogging” my 200’s at practice, but when I’m out for a 10-miler, I don’t really need to know the line between jogging and running. I can’t even think if swimming or biking has a similar word for a leisurely (insulting) cadence. Swim, bike, run. Tread, pedal, jog? Not sure. I am still secretly hoping to maintain runner status as people pass by…I mean, when I pass by THEM.
Mammoth is the training grounds for a lot of elite distance runners. For some of us it is “home” and others come here to incorporate an altitude training stint during their season. It was a particularly fun week to have Desiree Davila visiting. After her stellar 2nd-place finish in the Boston Marathon this April, she took some downtime and is visiting my Mammoth Track Club teammate Amy Hastings, who finished an amazing 2nd place in her marathon debut at the LA Marathon this March. Amy, Desiree and I enjoyed some runs together. I felt as though I was chasing them down the dirt roads and hoping their recent marathon mojo would rub off on me.
One of our non-running highlights was taking a gondola ride to the top of Mammoth Mountain and watching my husband Andrew and Desiree’s boyfriend Ryan ski. The five of us enjoyed lunch on the sunny deck at the base of the slopes. It’s been a great year for skiing as we have had over 600 inches of snow. Whereas so many people are enjoying the early sprouts from their gardens, we still have 15 feet of snow in our front yard.
I am typing this on Sunday evening and I’m tired. It has been a great week of training, not only because I had good company on my runs, but because I included some higher quality workouts to my weekly mileage. The inclusion of 200s, a short tempo run and a long run with pick-ups has me wrapping up the week with a combined sense of elation and exhaustion. I am overjoyed with the fatigue from training and to have seen such great progress in my running. Whereas a lot of progress is gradual, this week proved a good-sized leap forward.
Due to terrible side stitches, my running has slowed to a walk, but hopefully not for the remaining two-plus months I have left in this pregnancy. I went for a walk the morning after Thanksgiving and was thinking of all the things for which I am grateful. It was a continued thought from the previous evening when the house was full of overly-stuffed, happy family and friends.
During my walk I found it ironic that I can be both insatiable and grateful at the same time. Both of these words I feel define me. Is it possible? Could I really be happy while at the same time be nagged by the possibility of being better? I didn’t think so at first.
For long as I remember, I have strived to improve on every aspect of my life, whether it in running, cooking, communicating, housekeeping or something else. With this attitude, how can I also be grateful for where I am?
Toward the end of my walk, I came to the conclusion that I really appreciate the steps taken to reach goals. I honor the work, I like the journey, I cherish the results, but I always find something in the end result that enlightens me. In every preparation there is a lesson to be learned. With every lesson, I’m inspired to try again for a better result. Sometimes it isn’t about working harder, but resting more that brings better performances. Sometimes it isn’t about creating something fancy in the kitchen, but using more quality ingredients that makes a dish more delicious. Sometimes it isn’t about solving a friend’s problem, but merely listening that has them feeling better. And sometimes it isn’t about buying a new piece of furniture, but taking away the clutter that adds to a room.
With each endeavor, I use the knowledge I have, but in the end I always end up wiser. As I walked back into the house, I realized I am most grateful for this insatiability. Grateful for using newly found knowledge to create a better outcome the next time around. When it comes down to it, I only nurture the things most important to me, so why wouldn’t I be grateful for committing to improve them. As we head into December, it is a great time to reflect on the things we cherish most. After that, we should find ways to improve these areas of our lives, knowing they won’t be perfect but can be perfected. It is wonderful that life continues to challenge and define us, great that there is always more to strive for and assuring that we will always grow from these experiences so the future will be better still.
This is the time of year when the temperature is supposed to be cooling off and the leaves on Aspen trees turn yellow, orange and red. I happen to be at the beach to escape bad allergies in Mammoth. And although I hear Mammoth has been warm, here at the beach it was already 90 degrees when I set out to run at 8 am this morning. I even wore my bathing suit under my clothes so I would be ready to play in the ocean and cool off afterward.
I ran on the shore to catch what little breeze was there. After an hour run I jumped in the water and played in the waves for a bit. Since I didn’t have a towel, I dried off by walking the coastline and collecting sea glass. I can still walk in my bathing suit without anyone thinking I am expecting though I hope to be showing soon.
Sea glass is really just broken glass that has been smoothed by sand and rocks polishing it in the ocean currents. There is truth in the saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I romanticize the sea-glass story by thinking this rubbish is really broken bottles from pirates far out in the distance, and not just trash being dumped into our oceans. This morning I found my very first pink piece of sea glass. Foreshadowing a girl? As I walked back up to the house with my fists full of rounded glass I couldn’t help but appreciate the way my day had begun.
Running in the morning has me appreciate all the choices that come later in the day. The choices I make after running seem healthier, wiser and kinder. This morning felt leisurely like a weekend, but in truth I have a busy and hectic day ahead. Before my run I felt a little overwhelmed with my to-do list but now I feel blissful enough to achieve it all. To put one foot in front of the other seems so simple, yet the rewards are deep and infiltrate into every aspect of our being. I almost passed up my morning run because of the heat and a million things to do. I’m sure glad I didn’t, because it put a silver lining on the rest of my day.
It has been over a week since we lost Aspen and I am still having grief-storms at the most inappropriate times. The UPS guy had a bone for Aspen and I had to decline it. A neighbor asked where my “shadow” was. A piece of Aspen’s hair was folded into a clean shirt. Her favorite stream is running high this year. I’m finding it difficult to make up any sort of daily routine without her, but I’m trying. I’m immersing myself in the fact that summer has arrived and my favorite trails are finally free of snow. I’m excited that distance runners are choosing Mammoth to train this year. I have been showing Wesley Korir, two-time winner of the LA Marathon, my favorite places to run. I just got word that Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000 meters Derartu Tulu will be coming up to train later this summer. (continue reading…)
Aspen is truly Andrew’s and my best friend. So much that we fed her the bone from the leg of lamb I made last week. I was too late to notice that with her powerful jaws and teeth (coupled with her insatiable appetite), she ate part of the bone. What followed was one of my more stressful weeks. She was throwing up for two days, had blood in her stools and was clearly not feeling well. Although the vet didn’t seem too concerned, I sure was. Seven days later, she is still working herself back to normal. With most of the drama behind, I can reflect on the minutes in between hovering over our 14 year old Chocolate lab. (continue reading…)
With the New York Half Marathon behind me, I am now focusing on the Virgin London Marathon. I have two more weeks until I leave for the UK and another week of tapering in the beautiful city hosting the event. With the confidence of a couple more long runs, tempo runs and interval sessions behind me, I am hoping to perform well there. (continue reading…)