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Is running a marathon right for you? Can you really know before you’ve done it?

Some of us decide “no!” quickly, for a myriad of reasons. It takes too much time. “That’s insane!” It hurts to run (usually due to technique issues, which often can be corrected). The list goes on and on, sometimes driven by shortages of motivation, belief, openness, curiosity, awareness or desire.

Potential rewards? Empowerment, achievement, cardiovascular health, endorphin highs, cholesterol reduction and increased blood flow to our brains and other important body parts! Yay!

Since I embrace my running time as therapeutic meditation, I’m left with physical questions. Can I prepare my body without suffering life degrading injuries? How to really know? Am I truly in tune with my body’s signals? Is there more to learn and practice about awareness, refueling, recovering and stretching?

If I don’t try, will I fly as high? Is this a defining moment in my spiritual evolution? Are the forks in the road as pivotal as they’ve always been? Should I shrink or expand?

To run or not to run. THAT is the question! Where did I put those shoes…..

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Half marathon chick!

Half marathon chick!

Survival. Working parts. Yay! I finished the 2013 Tri-Cities half marathon in around 2:08, or about seven minutes faster than my goal time. I remembered the advice about setting achievable goals and blew off the part about making them difficult! ¬†ūüôā

For me, today, a half marathon is difficult, regardless of time. That became crystal clear later in the race, which is a time of discovery. Early miles are relatively easy and inspired. Later miles are tougher tests!

Annie and  I passed quite a few people as the miles rolled by, and our layers were peeled off. We were running each mile a little faster than the last, and feeling good.  The limits of my training began to appear after the ten-mile mark. I encouraged Annie to go for it; she had more spunk than I did today. She looked strong and youthful as she pulled away during mile eleven. My leg and groin muscles started to tighten up. I was determined not to walk, but my pace slowed. How much mental toughness did I have today?

As it turned out, people were done passing me, and I passed a few more, including the guy with a marijuana leaf shirt endorsing “Washington: the Evergreen State.” I wasn’t surprised to see him slow to a walk! Then a big guy passed me. Not fat, just big. After the last aid station, he was my inspiration. I needed a diversion from my mind’s games, so my new game was to race big guy to the finish. I guess I could have told him the game was on. But it was a race, after all! It turned out that he was more tired than I was.

I had to put on a decent show at the finish! Did they all really need to know how spent I was? Nope. I decided to show a little ending “speed.” I could have outrun every turtle I’ve met! Annie finished a few minutes ahead of me in her first half marathon ever. Way to go Annie! You’re the champion of the family! Just remember, there’s a 10k re-match in three weeks…..

Chocolate mousse cake

I often think of the Heinz ketchup commercial and Carly Simon’s voice!¬†“These are the good old days” is a philosophy I’ve embraced for a while. I wonder if this song helped place it in my soul? I’m not a prophet, any more than Carly is, but I do have now. When I’ve embraced the moments, I’ve savored many good old days! I’ve basked in true joy, contentment, wonder, appreciation and excitement. I’ve often anticipated interactions, relationships, events, challenges, trips, adventures, discoveries and celebrations. There is much to anticipate! But spending too much time in the future, in a sense, can rob me of the present. So I try hard to stay in the present as much as possible. Currently, my mind wants to anticipate how a 13.1 mile run will feel on Saturday! How will I feel? What will the weather be like? How to dress? What to eat? A bit of preparation is good, but today is here. I’d better not miss THIS good old day!

I had a good day at work. It came with some stress. I had a GREAT evening at the gym. It yielded a wonderful endorphin high! That’s only after pushing through five tough miles on the treadmill, with a progressively faster pace and an incline. The best things in life are not easy, but they are so very worth the effort! ¬†ūüôā

These legs are made for running! ¬†Lips? Must be for kissing! Arms? Hugging, holding, lifting, swinging, etc. Eyes? Beholding beauty, seeing the way. Nose? Smelling delightful foods, flowers, etc. Hands? A wide gamut, including massaging, cooking, recording, feeling. Tongue? Well, you get the idea…

Living fully is a broad topic. Perhaps encompassing all of our time and all of our being. It may be described by the intensity of the feelings it conveys. Born of faith, raised by curiosity, fueled by intrigue and married to love, fullness suggests discovery, adventure, challenge, risk, dedication, accountability, honesty, forgiveness, appreciation and flexibility.

We’re left to find our own ways. The clues are everywhere. How does it make me feel? When do I feel truly ALIVE? Not just short-term feelings, but long-term healthy vigor. Wellness of spirit, mind and body. What steps lead to a path of fulfillment? Which sacrifices pay us back in overwhelming abundance of energy, strength, vitality, endurance and passion? Which roads lead to the person we’re truly meant to be? Who am I? When I find me, will I then find my truest and deepest joys? I am convinced the answer is yes, as the joy along the way has been tremendous!

Where does this path lead? I don’t know, but the view is amazing!

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It’s an exciting time to be alive! We read and hear so many interesting things. I sense that the biggest challenges give rise to the most amazingly inspirational people! Sometimes life seems surreal, or fantastically unbelievable. Feeling love, in its many forms, for people, activities, God, beauty, nature, achievement, adventure, excitement, creativity, music, food, meditation and more, can be awe-inspiring. It leaves me happy, peaceful, satisfied, invigorated, inspired, challenged and amazed, at various times. Perhaps this is the meaning of life: finding, enjoying and sharing these loves. Can there ever be too much of any of them? Perspective pollinates the blossoms of our souls. We get it from each other, when we’re ready, willing and able. Openness is beyond ego, greed, fear and blame. It’s kin to willingness and humility. It’s the best way to go. Thanks for being in the know and inviting me to the show! Let’s show God how grateful we are!

Just before Bloomsday 2012

Just before Bloomsday 2012

I choose to be young at heart! It’s not the easiest path, but it’s the best one I’ve found. It’s so much better than lethargy, resignation, settling, etc. To me, it’s choosing living over dying!

I’m grateful for my amazing daughter Annie, who’s my accountability partner. We share a common goal of running the Tri-Cities half marathon in 13 days. Yesterday was a big test. Are we ready? Will we be able to run the entire race, or will some walking be mixed in? So a week ago we planned a ten-mile run for yesterday. It was intimidating and exciting for both of us. We are in good condition, earned by persistent commitment to regular exercise, in many forms. But we’ve emphasized variety in our workouts, rather than focusing on distance running. Running has always given me my best endorphin highs, but in recent years I’ve noticed more aches and pains. Life has been busy. I’ve done more weight-lifting, bicycling, stair-stepping, elliptical machines, walking, hiking and eating. I love the variety of life. But I’ve also gained ten pounds since my fastest running days. ¬†More weight to carry around. Additional weight is not the best thing for distance running, even if it’s in the form of upper body muscle (okay, belly fat too). It’s been over five years since my last half marathon. My spirit is willing, but is my body able?

Hell yes! The realities of aging show that speed declines over time. This is a lame excuse to not fight back! I’m getting my run on!

The sun was shining, so I savored the hour-long drive to the Tri-Cities. Annie was ready to go. There was some wind chill and I really hadn’t brought the best layers; my mind had locked in on sunny and warm. So I ran with heavy sweats as outer layers on top and bottom, which I had brought for pre-run comfort. No excuses!

We followed our plan and kept the speed down. The miles rolled past as we talked, agreeing that the first hour was easy. We followed the Richland trails along the Columbia River, starting at Anthony’s and heading upriver. Though we planned on five miles each way, we went to the WSU campus before turning back; we were gifted a bonus mile!

Around six miles in, my groin started to tighten a little, and around the seven or eight mile mark we agreed that our legs were tiring. Accountability partnering would help us press on. Each mile becomes harder than the last.

Quitting is the easier, softer way. Our minds can dream up plenty of reasons to stop. ¬†You’ve already gone eight miles; that’s plenty! Going farther could lead to injury. Moderation in all things. It’s time to rest!

So it takes mental toughness to press on. I know we have some, based on past experiences. One foot in front of the other. Focus on form, to avoid injury. Find the softest path. Breathe. Keep going.

Eleven miles! The last one felt brutal. Annie suggested stretching it out for the last few hundred yards, so she did. I was down to one speed. Just like the bicycles of my youth! She waited for me, and we hit the finish together. Drinks have never tasted better!

We believe we’ll be able to finish the race, anticipating that our bodies will recover and come back stronger than before. We may eat energy gels earlier on race day, and perhaps add another. There will be even more excitement. How tough will we be? How fast will we be? With some luck, we will see! ¬†ūüôā

It’s really fun to keep on trying to find my way! This amazing gift of life feels more precious than ever now. No doubt it always has been, so what’s the difference?

My need to surrender grandiose illusions of control is spotlighted regularly.  So is my wish to passionately live the fullest life I can muster. For now, I reconcile the two by searching my soul for ways to live well, then practicing release of the pull to control results.

I’m striving to serve co-workers, balancing priorities and accepting that the bureaucracy will often go against my wishes. C’est la vie!

I’m engaging in regular exercise, signing up for competitions and listening carefully to my body. It will tell me what it can do. It tells me when to mix it up, take a break or hit the gas!

I read blogs and books to expand my thinking. I don’t know how enlightened I’ll become. It’s a fun journey!

I like waking up from a recent recurring dream: I’m throwing a long pass in a football game. Did I throw well? Will it be caught? Does it really matter? I’m throwing deep! Yay!!!

Belief.  Spiritual centering via faith.

Acceptance.  Honesty, letting it be, without spiritual disruption.

Love.  Emotional maturity, embracing the beauty in others.

Adaptation.  Accepting powerlessness, optimizing our power.

Nurturing. Ourselves first, via diet, rest, inspiration.

Commitment.  Intellectually, spiritually, physically, emotionally.

Exercise. ¬†Today = 70 minutes level 9 intervals = 305 floors. ¬† ūüôā

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I found my best way to prepare for a Super Bowl: a run in the sun! ¬†As usual, I got some funny looks from the parka clad people as I ran shirtless today. ¬†Doesn’t everyone get hot when they run? ¬†Most folks were walking or riding horses or bicycles. ¬†I was jump starting my tan, since summer is just around the corner! After Annie smoked me in hill climbing yesterday, I was determined to get back to training! ¬†Today’s 7.7 mile run boosted my confidence and filled me with joy in the bountiful sunshine! ¬†I’m even more excited about running! The Stick that Heather sold me yesterday is the best thing since shoes! It is amazingly effective at self-massage, especially for leg muscles. What a gift for a runner! I think I’m feeling young again!!!

Annie and I hiked up Badger Mountain yesterday. We were considerably later than expected, as we should have expected. Isn’t that the way life goes? All of the reasons we were late were awesome! ¬†We had great fun picking out shoes and “The Stick” with Heather at REI; she is so helpful and fun! Then a delicious Thai Spice lunch, with green curry and spicy chicken and vegetables:

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Then we restocked at COSTCO. Ever try racing through a crowd? So it was 4:15 before we left the car to tackle the mountain. ¬†Here’s how fun it was:

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The mountain adventure fired our spirits! I’ve been getting increasingly stoked about running and other adventures! Thank you Heather and Annie! Annie was much stronger climbing the mountain than me; I was breathing hard trying to keep up. Then she started RUNNING up the mountain! She may be a little more ready for the Badger Mountain Challenge than I am, but I’ll be there and I’ll be fired up about it! ¬†Here’s what adventures like this do for my spirit:

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The view just gets better as you climb the mountain, of course.  If you are blessed with delays, you might even get smiled upon like this:

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The sunset was magnificent! Pictures can’t begin to do it justice. We made if off the mountain, in the dark, around six o’clock. ¬†Going with the flow gifted a wonderful show!

What if I soar, right out that door?

What if I fly, all across the sky?

Why should I miss such a delicate kiss?

Why pass by another endorphin high?

Perhaps I will smile at Ms. Grumpy-head;

maybe it’s time her spirit is fed!

Shall I serve Mrs. Pain-in-the-ass?

Provide her with help, in lieu of more sass?

How to get through to Mr. Know-it-all;

what if he’s me? ¬†Can I take that fall?

If pessimism rears up and darkens the day,

what will I do?  What will I say?

What about dismay?  What of despair?

How will I become a breath of fresh air?

Will I bring joy?  Will I spout love?

Riding a spirit sent from above?

I’ll try, yes I will, it’s the best plan I’ve found!

If I miss it a bit, I’ll do better next round!

frankoshanko

I love health, humor, adventure, exercise, romance and competition. Well, I just love life! ( :

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