Archive for March, 2014

IMG_2931

IT’S RUN THE BLUEGRASS WEEKEND!!!! and of course, I’m procrastinating with the packing. Does anyone really like to pack?

I’ve already gotten 2 huge and heavy boxes of yoga mats out to the car. Thank you Miss Passerby who pointed out the irony that I was getting my workout struggling to get a box of yoga mats in the car – and didn’t offer to help.  *insert blank stare here*

The race isn’t until Saturday morning, but I’m heading out today to see if I can put in some volunteer time at the expo and generally contribute. Especially since I can’t run the race after all. So, if you’re there and you see me, SAY HI!!!

BUT – if you’re not going down to horse country with me…

Friends, let me tell you – this is a *HARD* weekend to be away from home. There are some AWESOME things going on about town. One of those weekends where all the events seem to converge into a whirlwind of too many places to be at once. First – there’s this!

I had the opportunity to see a sneak preview rehearsal of Bolero last week and I don’t think I’ve been more sad to miss a performance all season.  Remember when I said Victoria Morgan doesn’t *do* boring with her choreography? In the preview, there were several moments where I sat forward in my seat and said “HOLY CRAP” under my breath. (Holy Crap! being a compliment and my favorite exclamation of surprise.) My peeps – this is easily a “4-Holy Crap” rated show.  If you go, make sure you watch the corners on the exits – if you don’t you are missing some cool stuff. A few jumps and spins and lifts that I’d need to see in slo-mo to even begin to sort them out.  I’ll also add that after seeing Rodrigo Almarales as Mordred in Camelot, and noticing him again in this rehearsal – this dancer is having one heckuva season! Certainly someone to watch as a shining star in the coming performances.

Also – um, there’s this baseball thing – if you like baseball – BWAHAHAHA.  OPENING DAY is MONDAY!!!! BUT – if you can’t wait until then, there’s a Reds pre-season exhibition game in Louisville w/ the Louisville Bats on Saturday night.  You have no idea how I racked my brain trying to figure out how I could be at the run on Saturday morning, sneak over to Louisville to catch this game, and make it back to Lexington for the post-race party at the Griffin Gate Marriott on Saturday night.  Unfortunately, there’s only one of me. And that girl needs to be in Lexington – so if you make it down to Louisville for the Bats game, have a big ole popcorn for me and scream nice things for JJ & Sam if they get called to the mound. ‘K? (But keep it clean, I’m a nice girl.)

FINALLY, if none of that floats your boat, it’s Final Friday downtown again. Which means the Acro Yoga Jam at You Do Yoga is ON! If you’ve ever been curious about Acro Yoga, this is a GREAT environment to give it a try – lots of talented, experienced people that are happy as larks to show newbies how to fly. At the very least, it’s pretty to watch – so stop in, look around, chat up the studio peeps, then head down the lane to grab a bite at MOTR and listen to some tunes. It’s an excellent use of your time, trust me.

IMG_2307_resize

IMG_0637_edit

It’s one of those runner things, at least it’s one of *my* running things, and particularly for half-marathons, that all through training my focus tends towards finish lines. I think of times and goals and crossing the blue timing mats and if I’ll need to kick in the last mile and the beer afterward and what it’s going to feel like when I’m done and how bad I’m going to hurt afterward and and and.  I think of hard parts on the course and get myself in mental check to work through them, coach myself well. I consider any struggle points I might encounter. Then race week arrives and like someone clunked me on the head, my thoughts shift.  To the starting line. From the end to the beginning.

I have been up since 3:38AM, with the house quiet and no coffee, in a form of meditation. (Yes, I’m still on meditation as a topic – for another post.) It’s made me a bit stoic. It’s now approaching 9AM – which has left a lot of time for thinking and shifts in thinking – which is when I realized I was thinking of this photograph. I didn’t take it, though I did clean it up a bit. It’s one of Eric’s pics and I am somewhere in that line of people.  Almost a year ago I was gathering in that early morning mist with all those other people, in the shadow of Keeneland about to take off for 7-miles. I’d had the great fortune to run into some friends who I didn’t know were going to be there and we were chatting it up, trying not to squander the energy that excitement brings before the starting gun goes off. It was PERFECT race weather.

I have lost track of the number of starting lines at which I have stood.  And to be perfectly honest, when I think of starting lines – in general – I do not think of this one.

I think of concrete, and long lines for porta-potties. 25-30,000 people jostling to find the right spot to launch their run. The last time I did the Flying Pig, the crowds were so thick – even on the sidelines – that you had to move through them single file. SO. MANY. PEOPLE. It’s hard to stay with your friends. It’s exciting and fun, too – don’t get me wrong – but also claustrophobic and tedious and it can feel like it takes days to get the race started as the waves creep forward, pause, creep forward, pause. For me, all I can think about is how to simultaneously get the heck away from all of these people – find a pocket of air, room to move – and not get swept up by the crowd pace as I try to find my race lost in all these other races.

I do not think of green space – wide, well-manicured lawns. Or room to stretch while in the corral chatting it up with my buds. I do not think of having  all the air I can breathe and that there will be plenty of time to take care of all the things I need to do before start. I don’t think of the after-party, where it will only take me moments to get a beer and the line to get stretched out by a physical therapist is short. I do not think of how Eric is able to be chatting it up right there with me and taking pictures until he steps out of bounds just before race start. There are 5000 people here and it never feels crowded or uncomfortable.

The start feels like an awesome parade and the end feels like the best lawn party ever thrown at my neighbor’s house.

It strikes me again how different this run is.

Run the Bluegrass is in ONE WEEK. The forecast is about identical to the day that happened in the photo above.

I am so completely excited that so many of my running friends are coming this year – it is going to be an AMAZING WEEKEND!

An interesting part is that I can say that, even having found out that I won’t be able to run it this year. The knee thing.  Doc says it’s a no-go – not even to walk it. Yoga is helping, so I can still do all of that, but trying this race would not be a good idea. The paradigm shifts again, from end to start, to how to not start. DNS. Grrrr. But it’s the right thing.  This is another thing that speaks to this run and these good people – I cannot think of any other race that, knowing I was DNS, I would still go spend an entire weekend on the race.  And it’s not about the yoga class. And it’s not about the friends I have going – they would understand. It’s that this race is bigger than a race – it’s an experience. I don’t want to miss it. Even if I can’t run it, I can still be there close to the start line and finish line with my friends, I can do the tours, I can take pictures, I can party at the Griffin Gate. I CAN CHEERLEAD MY MF-ing ASS OFF FOR ALL THESE RUNNERS!!

I will not be lost there in a sea of people and concrete. I will be around 5000 people that I consider friends. This race is so very different.

Marr & Rachel tell me that my first yoga class on Sunday has sold out, and so we added a second. I have been writing, rewriting and tweaking again this yoga class in my mind for weeks – months – now.

It boggles me that this is actually happening.

 

IMG_3286_resize

Another pic from the Run the Bluegrass course. If I remember correctly this sign is harbinger of a nice downhill slope that continues for just a bit. The sign is just before or at the crest, and far enough after the rolling part of the run has started that you realize you’ve started really working. Though not nearly the first downhill on the course, it’s the first one for which you feel truly grateful. The sense of charging the course like a bull starts to temper back and listen to that little voice that says maybe you oughtta pay a little more attention to your pace, you aren’t even at the hardest parts yet, you need to slow down a little and breathe more. Always breathe more.

I have a *thing* about birds and so I like this sign, and I like the birds on the mailbox, and I like that the birds are yellow. I have a *thing* about yellow too.

It feels balmy outside this morning at 60-degrees. And it is raining. Dark.  It smells like Spring rain outside and the picture above comes to mind. It was taken in October, but sometimes rain does a funny thing where it can make an October day smell like March. Being a human barometer, storm systems coming in often give me a headache and I went to bed last night with a doozy of one. Once the rain starts, the headache usually fades, so I am glad that it started raining overnight, and I am glad that my headache is gone though I am still very drowsy and fighting a case of the crankypants. No reason for it. Just woke up that way.

Eric tells me that it will be 30-degrees & snowing before I leave work today.

This has been the most confusing set of seasons I can ever recall.

Last night, I tried doing laps at the track with no jacket or sleeves – some bare skin showing to the sunshine. Today, I put on wool socks and was wishing I hadn’t left my gloves in my car – no time to get them before carpool shows up. The clothing feels too warm right now and I am trying not to sweat before I spend the day in my cube. A girl can’t stink up the joint like that.

The internet connection at the house is moving PAINFULLY slow. A relatively recent development, and I am lucky that Eric already knows what the problem is and it doesn’t seem difficult to fix – or he doesn’t make it sound difficult. I was hoping to get this post up & another thing or two done before my ride shows up, but nothing on my computer is cooperating.

The dogs are still tussling too – when I need them to settle down before Fred goes into her crate for the day. I hate to crate her when she’s in a high-energy phase. It just seems mean. I don’t think I would like that very much if I were in her place.  Between the computer and the dogs and the need for gloves and wool socks, I can feel myself getting irked. Also, I need a haircut.

Wednesday is not. being. cooperative.

It would be a good time to stop and remember to breathe, but there’s no time for that.  Nor will there be any and within another 30 minutes I find myself telling myself to stop looking at an email that has simultaneously irritated me and creeped me the hell out. Impressive. Crankypants doesn’t get creeped out easily. I have a list of tasks – and I tell myself to dive right on in – get the first thing done and I’ll feel better.

Except that those yellow little songbirds are still tugging at me – they have no tolerance for Crankypants. And they were the first thing on my list of things that aren’t on my list which I still want to get done. I want to look at the unwritten list first. The written one will make far more sense after I take care of the unwritten one.

It’s a good time to remember to breathe.

IMG_2470_resize

Put this one up on Twitter last night and just wanted to move it over here too. Ya know, for posterity. Or some such thing.

Bits of tedium today – gotta pick up my taxes from my tax guy. Happy to have those done. Less happy to write the checks that go along with them – though in the balance of 3 returns, I usually end up on the green side.  It’s the first time I’ve hired someone else to do them. We’ll see. Work beckons. Vacuuming needs done. That kinda jazz.

Not what I’d like to be doing. But necessary. Life things. Aren’t they all life things, though?

On the calendar for this week – an invite to the 2014-2015 season announcement party from Cincinnati Ballet – pretty excited to know what’s coming up for that! – and the Heart Mini 15k on Sunday. Scored a free entry to that – not one of my favorites by any means, but a free entry is a free entry and it’ll be a good check-in on where things are at going into Run the Bluegrass. My knee = not happy. More about that later too.

Also on the calendar – taking a few moments to write more about the mediation questions I posed last week. Been filtering and processing the responses I’ve received on that, along with my own thoughts on the matter. Sometimes what’s most interesting about a thing isn’t the actual question or the answers – and that’s caught me a bit by surprise on this one.  In fact, I woke up thinking about it some more – along with a dream I had about Devin Mesoraco staring in ‘Mesoraco on Ice’  which was more roller derby and less Disney than what probably comes to mind.  He was pretty good – in that way that people are good at sports that you’ve dreamt up and have no idea what the actual rules are. Go Devin!

Is it baseball time yet? *sigh*

wpid-20140222_084050.jpg

In case you didn’t know, I have an extraordinary ability to take pictures of my thumb. Okay, so maybe there’s a weird toy and a dog in there too, but still. Thumb.

We’re having one of those weeks in our house where Fred has been simultaneously amped up and bored out of her mind. Mischief ensues. The kind of mischief where I chase her through the house 3-4 times in the same morning following the sound of my shoe being chomped on while she runs. *sigh* She is having a Shakespearean love affair with my favorite fleece-lined Merrells.  So I stop and ask her ‘where are all your toys?’, then I realize they’re in shreds all about the place. My living room floor looks like a squeak toy massacre.  Fred *NEEDS* toys to keep her focused on not-destructing things.

Apparently, to a puppy, all it takes to make Xmas happen is to tie a knot in an old toy. Or in this case – tie knots in the shreds of 3 old toys. That there masterpiece is part ‘squeak skunk’, ‘braided bear’ and fleece tug toy. Isn’t it lovely? At least it’ll buy me 5-10 minutes to hide my Merrells. Better. Hide them better. Or maybe pee without a creature biting my toes.

Sooooo, I’ve gotten some interesting responses to my first 2 questions about mediation and they gave rise to a 3rd quandry. Which, since I posted it on FB, I’m going to bring it over here –

At what point does an activity that is simply relaxing become meditative? Are there specific factors that make it cross the line from being one to the other? 

Again, meditation is unique, so there are no wrong answers here and I’m not grading these. Even if you don’t meditate, I’m interested in gathering perceptions of meditation, so please share your thoughts. I’d love to hear them.

While I’m still gathering feedback on the mediation questions I posed yesterday, I thought I’d add a little humor to the day.

Here’s a shot of Rosie Red fundraising for the Reds Community Fund –

IMG_2743_resize

Rosie – you’re so funny! Yogis have no money.

___________

(Okay – really she’s helping with a headstand. But seriously, doesn’t it look like she’s trying to shake the money out of her pockets?)

IMG_3302_resize

Another shot from the Run the Bluegrass route. On my drive around the course last Fall, somewhere between Blackstone Farm and the turn onto Redd, it started raining *HARD* and as my wipers struggled to keep up, there was this tobacco barn that caught my attention. The water sheeting over my windshield with that in the view reminded me of an impressionist painting, though I don’t think Monet spent much time painting tobacco barns.

Once again, I’m waking up to the world covered in ice – which is what brought this photo to mind – even though it is rain in the picture, the ice sheets outside look just the same over everything. They are cold and vicious, but somehow still so beautiful.

I have a white-knuckle grip on the idea that at some time today, I WILL get 6 miles done. I NEED to get 6 miles in however they happen, walking, hiking, running – however. This is my mantra. But it’s a side point –

I was in yoga teacher training over the weekend (for the 500-hour program). These weekends we spend 20+ hours in the studio from Friday-Sunday, usually with some new, some review and one specialized topic. LOTS of movement practice and LOTS of meditation. As part of our weekend, our Saturdays start at 8:00am – IN SILENCE. It’s an unspoken agreement that even if you see each other in the parking lot coming in, you don’t speak – we do 25 minutes of Yin practice which is self-guided – and then for the next 50 minutes we “sit Zazen”. The interpretation of this is that we sit as still as we can, in a seated position – facing a wall – for 50 minutes with the idea of achieving a stillness, as much mentally as physically. It’s a discipline. I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners.  On Sundays, we explore different other methods of meditation & breathing, but our Saturdays are dedicated to Zazen. My yogi brain understands the discipline of Zazen and does find a benefit from it most days – but to my runner’s brain –

THIS IS INSANE.

And is as wont to happen in a weekend where you spend 20 hours with the same group of people, a lively discussion about meditation broke out between myself, my Buddhist friend & colleague (who leads the meditation) and another trainee/teacher who struggles with the meditation but is giving it her best shot (as am I, though I don’t really struggle with it beyond the discomfort in my legs that I have to ignore).

First off, I’m going to tell you – and I say this with full love in my heart for their beliefs – if you’ve ever debated a well-versed Buddhist on anything, I feel like I should just give you a hug right now and we should call this post done. Seriously –

THERE NEEDS TO BE A SUPPORT GROUP FOR THAT.

It’s very frustrating to debate with someone who ends with “all these things we do aren’t really meaningful anyway because we’re all dying and that’s okay because we never really existed anyway”. I paraphrase. But you see my point? HOW CAN YOU ARGUE WITH THAT?  So anyway –

There was this discussion which left me with two big ponderances which I’d like to pose to you. I’m posting them on FB & Twitter also in the spirit of gathering a variety of thoughts on the topic –

First – WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF MEDITATION? One of the things that has become apparent to me is that there is a gap in understanding about what practitioners of meditation experience or expect to experience from their discipline (a function of expectation) and what others perceive as the purpose of meditation (a function of perception).

Second – DO YOU HAVE TO SIT STILL TO MEDITATE? I’m sure you can guess that this is the bigger hotbed topic.

So, I’m interested in your thoughts. There is no right or wrong answer since meditation is unique to the individual. And I’m still interested in your thoughts even if you don’t meditate – what do you think it’s about? what do you think people who meditate are trying to achieve? I’d love to hear you comments.