Archive for December, 2015

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It’s not as early as yesterday. The sky is already starting to lighten up, though it is not readily apparent whether today will be blue or gray. I am listening to the start of the day.

I’ve mentioned before that I like to write in the morning, but often times I’ve already been awake for at least an hour before I get started. There’s no specific reason for me to get up well before I need to do anything at all, except that once upon a time it started with a 5:30AM bootcamp and then it evolved into just liking the quiet.

Listening to the early time is like sharing a great secret with everything around you. I do not think anything is capable of denying it’s true nature in the first moments of waking up.

There are the normal routines of waking and tending dogs which occur. Every single morning I spare a second for tadasana about as soon as my feet hit the floor after the last snooze. I open my palms wide and sweep my hands up with a giant breath that looks like a yawn and stretch – but I feel it more deeply than that. It calibrates me somehow.

Eventually, though, on as many days as possible (there are still some days I run off to the gym at crazy-ass-early), all paths lead to a cup of coffee and staring out into space.

It’s my morning meditation.

Once upon a time, I used to watch the news before work. Catch glimpses of stories and traffic between putting on pants and putting on eyeliner. I felt very well informed when I picked up my carpool buddy. At some point the news no longer served me well and so I stopped watching it some time after 9/11. I’m not sure when or how related that is, but my brain keeps making that connection.

Now, I tuck my feet up under me, not in any formal meditation posture, but just a way I am comfortable, I cup my hands around my coffee mug, and I let my mind wander. It feels like a rebellion against the noise. Sometimes my thoughts go through the upcoming day. Sometimes a specific thing comes up, sometimes nothing at all. Today I observed that Fred already smells like feet again even though she just had a bath – courtesy of the deluge of rain in the past week. I don’t make pretense that my meditations are profound. Then I switched into thinking about some upcoming yoga studies and picked up a book. Which led me to thinking about meditation and the meditation which I chose for an online yoga group this week – “An Introduction to Sitting”.

As I sit and begin writing.*

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*Afterword: When I picked up writing the blog again, it was after a period of realizing that I wasn’t writing the way I like. I had tried to be formulaic and clearly define a more narrow focus on running & race recaps. I really don’t know what end purpose that was trying to serve – but it was an experimental failure in that it made me not want to write what I needed to write for the structure (as an example, I never wrote about Mohican 25k, which was one of my best running lessons in all of 2015), and it constrained me away from writing what I wanted to write about – which is essentially, whatever the hell I want. So, in picking this back up, expect more randomness and just as much running stuff, probably more yoga stuff, and my waxing philosophic about my coffee here and there.

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My friends, I am obsessing with the thistle in this damn picture (a trail at my office I try to spend my lunch on running once a week). I wanted to post a few close-up shots I took of it, except…I already did. A few posts ago – down there vvv.  In fact, the picture I am specifically obsessing about is that one. I have no idea why other than that there has been some type of monsoon hitting Southern Ohio and the gray and rain just. WILL. NOT. STOP.

This picture is not gray and rain. If I reach for it, I can smell the perfect weather air around this thistle. It smells like warm with that slightly dusty feeling. I run past the foreground at the top of this section of trail before turning a corner to go over the bridge you see. At far left, that hill is a steep set of stairs which lead up to an overlook before heading back into the buildings of our office complex. All in all, this section is probably just over a tenth of a mile, but it marks the usual halfway point of my lunch run. I always stop at the overlook. I like to breathe there and look for deer and birds down in that pool of tall grass. Remind myself for a moment that I am more than spreadsheets and cubicles. Then I turn around, head back down the stairs and return whence I came – back past the thistle and through the woods on campus back towards the building where waits my cubicle and spreadsheets.

It is early, on a Tuesday and I am with my coffee. I have a new coffeemaker – it has a “bold” button. A BOLD button. There is now a button with BOLD on it in my life. That I can push. And be made BOLD by dark beverage.

I am sore. And I woke up STARVING! which is annoying. I do not like waking up to my stomach complaining.

After an entire week of too much excellent food and missing workouts for work, my body was begging for movement. So yesterday lunch came with a treadmill and no thistle, because rain & gray. (Did I mention it just won’t stop raining?) A 30-min progressive run following by 10 more minutes of bringing it back down gradually on pace.  Then I hit up a Slow Flow yoga class after work. I needed that bad! But slow is a speed, not a skill level – so it was a good workout too. Today = sore, and probably a pool day this afternoon. I need to get back in the water too.

Germantown Gem 13.1 is in less than 2 weeks and I need to get my ass moving if I’m going to feel even remotely ready for that. Eric & I joined ORRRC for 2016 – which is RIDICULOUSLY CHEAP for membership. So add those to the races I’ll be doing regularly.

It’s also time to start training for Run the Bluegrass 13.1. I’m pretty excited to be run-ambassadoring for that again for 2016 and leading the yoga classes at the hotel the next morning. Every time I think Eric & Rachel can’t possibly come up with anything new to add to race weekend, they add more. This year, a big addition is Running Nannies – people who watch your children while you go run. How awesome is that?!

The Topo Winter Series has already passed race #2. Race #1 was back at East Fork. After some rain earlier in the week, it was muddy but WARM.

Friends, some day I will run East Fork when it is not a muddy mess.

Can you even believe running a trail race in Ohio in December in short sleeves?! 60-degrees! I’m proud of how I did on it. Eric took Fred’s leash and started with her at the very back, then quickly caught up to me. We ran most of the 5.2 mile loop as a family, with me setting pace and finishing together. So that was really cute. When I looked later, I’d beaten my Summer series race time on the same loop by more than 6-minutes!

Topo #2 was at Big Bone Lick State Park in Ky. We bagged that one because of rain and gray and weather radar that looked like Pac Man was about to gobble up the course. Friends who ran said it didn’t start to rain until the last mile, but photos tell me it was still a mudpit of a run.

We’ll miss Race #3 because it conflicts with Germantown. 😦

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It’s like a weight-loss commercial – before & after.  Toes take a bit more than the usual abuse when running trails.

Cynthia Running Rule #1: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS take care of your feet.

Topo Series kicks off in 2 hours. 

It is just before 7am again, with coffee and snoozing dogs. I like to write in the morning. Mornings set a precedent for the rest of the day in that way that they come before everything else.

By 10am, I usually know whether or not I am going to kick that day’s ass.

My body is sore this morning. An ache across the neck and shoulders, and what feels like a sense of phantom fatigue through the ankles and shins. That’s after the chiropractor and a full day’s rest on Monday – other than training work with Fred, which involves numerous climbs of stairs at the moment. Some walking and yoga yesterday.

That’s the result when you venture into a 7-mile trail race after two months of slacking in the 3-to-4 mile distance range.  Fact: you can’t cram for a race. It just doesn’t work. And it makes your training-run-skipping ass sore.

On Sunday, Eric and I had put a race on the calendar. Eric a 13.1, me the quarter at 6.55 miles.

The day dawned pretty enough – a chill 28-degrees when we left the house with “freezing fog” that was starting to burn off. The sky looked like it was going to go blue, and eventually it did. As we picked up packets and got settled, big drops of water began to fall from the trees as the frost melted, slicking up the trail a bit.

My friends, when you’re short-cutting through foggy woods, and sunlight begins to stream through the fog, sending big droplets of nature down onto your head, it’s like the universe is telling you a pretty awesome secret. Most people don’t get to see things like that.

The run was at East Fork Lake – which is GORGEOUS – but has also brought me my WORST, MOST AWFUL, I HATE ALL THE RUNNING THAT IS MADE OF RUNS run earlier in the Summer.  At another trail series, I did an 11.8 miler there in calf-deep mud that about broke me. Thinking about that, and the slick below my feet, I had to shake off some negative head shit – a dullness from 2 margaritas at dinner and a migraine starting up – remind myself that I was only going 6.55 today. I’d survive.

Wave start put Eric on course 10 minutes before me. The first mile was on pavement to let people sort themselves – I really would’ve like less pavement time, but I can’t argue that it kicked off my first mile with a solid split.  Then it was off into the woods. East Fork rolls. Few flat spots in it. Several kinda challenging uphills which are offset by long slopes of down-hill. It’s a GOOD course for making time if you can handle the uphill consequences that go with those long downhills. I heard some people talking about what a rough course it was, but I guess after Mohican and Rugged Red, my definition of a tough uphill is altered.

I was still keeping good time through mile 2, but into mile 3 the wheels started to come off in the form of nausea. The migraine was starting to up it’s game. I backed off to a 3:1, then let that go to a ‘do what you can do’ after stopping to help a runner that twisted her ankle and then wiping out myself.  East Fork is also mostly single-track, so once the fast marathoners started lapping me, I had to keep stepping off course to let them pass.  It’s a courtesy. And also, you’re kind of an asshole if you don’t.

Not feeling well at all, I decided to focus on enjoying the scenery, get the demons out of my head. Even with the slickness – it’s not very technical in my opinion. A few spots for tricky footwork, but not a lot of climbing over things or navigating rockbeds. There are moments when the sun breaks through the trees, hits the mud on the ground and reflects that slick surface as if the trails were made of gold. Nature can make mud dazzling.

Nothing impressive on the finish. On the whole, it wasn’t an awful run – more in line with numbers I put up when I first started trail running than the ones I’ve been putting up lately. Slow. SLOW. Amazingly I did not finish last. I knew there was at least one person behind me, but frankly, there were a few more people back there than I knew about – so that made me feel better when I checked results. After the run, I pulled the car closer and got changed into warm clothes while I went to wait on Eric’s finish, hang out with my Team RWB peeps and listen to my head pound. My entire focus shifted on getting some migraine drugs and going to bed.

The good news, is that I get a second shot at it this upcoming weekend. Hopefully without the migraine, and definitely without the pre-race margaritas. Topo’s actual trail series kicks off back at East Fork on Saturday 12/12.

The Topo Adventure Winter set is a series of trail runs going through some of the more interesting trail systems in the area. It starts with a signature marathon, with a 13.1 and 10k option, that has all the frills of shirt, medal, pint glass, timing but still manages to keep it cheap at $40 for the 13.1 and $25 for the 6.55.

After the marathon, there are six (6) no-frills trail races – $15 a pop regardless of distance, no swag and hand-timed. Most offer 5-or-10 mile options. The first one is back at East Fork Lake this upcoming weekend.

One for fun. One for work. One because I have too many beads in my house.

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Continuing ed yoga class on the afternoon agenda. Did you know yoga teachers had to do continuing ed after a certain level? They’re supposed to. Many don’t.

Shakeout run for tomorrow’s trail race before that. 

Right now, coffee and a book. Or 3.

It’s just after 6:30AM Cincinnati time, which means I’ve been awake about an hour already. And done absolutely nothing productive – which is more rare than you’d think. As I was snuggling coffee and settling into my couch, it occurred to me that today was the first day in over a month that I didn’t have something to do almost immediately after my eyes opened -discounting the dog-related tasks (that’s every morning). I mean, like get on the computer and work kind of stuff.

So of course, blog.  🙂

It also occurred to me that my bed is a perfect little cocoon and that Friday was a complete asshole for dragging me out of it. I wish I could blame it on the alarm, but truth be told, it’s not unusual for me to wake up anywhere from 10-45 minutes before my alarm – at least long enough to notice the clock time and go back to sleep. Which, because, and probably only because it’s 6:40AM now, I have a profound question:

Absent some biological calling (bathroom, hunger, thirst), why do we wake up at all?  I know about circadian rhythms, so that’s the boring answer.  But seriously, why do we need to get up and go do? From a cognitive efficiency standpoint, wouldn’t it be much easier on the brain to only wake us up to serve a biological need, then put us back to bed?

I could really use a few more Z’s.

Again y’all, it’s early in Cincinnati. When I am caffeinated, I probably will want to delete this.

ANNNY-WAY – been thinking about this place. What to do with it. Why I haven’t been writing in it. Feeling like writing again, but also like I need to clean some things up, so change is coming. Not too much ’cause I still like the paint on the walls, but change. Re-invention.

In full disclosure, I had 2 other blogs before this one, which for reasons I felt right about at the time, I retired, locked down and forgot about. One of them came back around at me a few weeks ago and I stopped to peruse – realizing there were some things I’d like to keep. But I don’t want to keep them where they are. The other fucked up thing, is I logged into WordPress this morning and signed in, and wrote this entire post into a blog I didn’t remember having.

Friends, I WROTE THIS POST IN A BLOG I DIDN’T EVEN REMEMBER and then had to move it over here.

So maybe there are 3 out there, or maybe I just don’t remember the name of the second one correctly. Oops. Probably a result of trying to clean up some Google Account stuff the other day.

In other words, if someone has some tips on bringing shit from Blogger over to this blog, can you help a girl out?  It’s time to consolidate. And dust. Fucking dust. Having more blogs out in the world than I can keep track of is a problem. A creepy, creepy, dusty problem.

I suppose it would help if I could remember the web addresses and passwords to those blogs, too…sheesh, you’re asking a lot. Wait, that could be me that’s asking a lot.  All that to say that if you start seeing some weird pictures of my feet from 2010 in here, be alarmed. Pictures of my feet were a 2011 thing.