Tag Archives: running

It isn’t always easy

Image:runwithjess.com

My body has been hurting and I’ve been avoiding running for the last few weeks. My mileage is down and I have two more races before June is over and I know it is going to be a struggle. My feet and hips have been really problematic, although generally not at the same time, and I’ve been trying to be kind to myself and accepting of yoga and long walks as a substitute for a run. It hasn’t been easy, though.

Last night, finally, felt different. I had done a fair amount of yoga over the weekend and spent every possible moment outdoors. My body wasn’t quite as achy as it had been and a late afternoon massage with a focus on those areas that have given me the most discomfort left me feeling loose. A drizzly rain on a warm evening beckoned, rather than discouraged, as I changed into exercise clothes and taking a moment to roll a little CBD oil on my hips.

I located a good playlist on Applemusic, using “Stormy Monday Blues” as my search term and scored with one that opened with Led Zeppelin and was jammed with Stevie Ray, The Allman Brothers and Albert King. I started to feel excited to get outside and the tautness in my quads feels finally like an itch to flex instead of a request to rest. I was ready.

I left my house in a light rain which eventually became steady and soaking. My feet felt pretty good in my old inserts and my hips hurt only enough to annoy me. The air smelled fresh and I realized I was smiling. Big. It isn’t always easy, but often it’s worth it.

How do you keep on track with exercise? What do you when your body protests against your efforts?

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Filed under Albany, beauty, DelSo, Exercise, musings, Observations, running, Spring

In Memoriam – holiday weekends and me

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Always with a cherry on top.

In the past decade there was a run of not so great holiday weekends in my life. There had been discoveries and recollections which had left in their wake a slight dread when a three or four-day holiday weekend approached. A good time for all was not guaranteed since unexpected and bad news seemed to arrive as reliably as holiday weekend sales on new cars and large appliances – and I’m not interested in buying any of those things. I’m good, thanks.

This recent extended weekend, though, was different. There was a loose plan for a quick overnight getaway in the Berkshires. Cocktails in a cool and semi-swanky bar bid adieu to the work week and hello to a mini vaca in a delicious way. Museum passes were borrowed from the public library for free admission to a museum that I’ve wanted to visit for some time. The forecast changed from rainy to sunny, a positive change that provided an obvious example of how things can also unexpectedly improve.

Strolling through farmers markets and sipping a Bellini on a sunny terrace are two of the most perfect things to do under blue skies. Especially with someone who treats you well and makes you laugh.

The weekend rolled on with a full morning on the deck with the Sunday NYT, followed by a party with interesting people and a fire which left my hair and clothing pungent with the smell of wood smoke. Spreading four bags of mulch and planting the flowers and herbs from Saturday’s market was Monday’s warmup to a five mile run – with an al fresco nap sandwiched between the more vigorous activities. The grill is definitely back in the rotation and I can’t believe I forgot how easy it is cook dinner when there are not pots or pans left behind to scrub. Ah, the almost summer vibe is strong…

I don’t know that I’ll ever completely forget the bad holiday weekends I’ve experienced, but I also don’t know that’s necessarily a negative thing. We should remember important things and lessons learned, especially when they help one to appreciate their current situation.

Memorial Day Weekend 2019 was, at last, a completely sunny, relaxing, fun, leisurely and most of all, happy, stretch of days. I hope yours was similar.*

*If it wasn’t, keep the faith. There’s always next year – or July 4th.

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Sacandaga Half Marathon

Working towards my goal of 25 half marathons by the time I’m 55 has me hustling and signing up for races beyond the Capital Region. Earlier this year that meant south to Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. and yesterday I went northwest to Northville, N.Y. for the inaugural running of the Sacandaga Half Marathon. While both were a bit of a drive, I’m really glad to have experienced each of them because they were just what I like in an event – small, community supported and scenic.

The drive Sunday morning provided an array of weather conditions- sun followed by rain and finally clouds, which ended up being ideal. Parking and bib pick up were as easy as I’ve ever seen. Small races really are awesome! At the 9:00 start Chrissy and I hung towards the back of pack of maybe 350 racers and committed to simply enjoying the journey. Goal set.

The course was pretty, particularly when the lake was in view. The hills were at times slightly more aggressive than rolling, but I observed that while we may not be especially fast on our feet, we eat hills. Seriously, neither of us really change pace when the hill is an incline and I was really proud of our strength. Running Muni all winter long definitely helps.

The last hour of the run was a challenge as the sun broke through and the humidity increased. Fortunately, water and Gatorade stops were plentiful and the oranges between miles 6 and 7 were a Godsend giving me a good burst of energy to tackle the remaining distance.

This was my first long run with my new inserts and my hips felt great, but the arch of my left foot was screaming. The thought of taking my shoes off was the motivation for my last mile.  I crossed the line in 4th place for my division, but honestly I think there were only 6 of us in that particular group.

Post-Race we hit up the Sacandaga Kitchenette where we had fantastic breakfast sandwiches with a side order of hand cut fries. My ham, egg and cheddar on a roll was in my top 3 of  breakfast sandwiches ever. It was absolutely delicious and the vibe in this ultra casual spot was great. We left town with hearts and bellies full. Next up – June’s New Paltz Challenge!

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Filed under beauty, breakfast, Eating, Events, Exercise, friends, Restaurants, road trips, running, Spring, sunday, upstate New York

March on

F6431F52-59E4-4115-8790-FCB55B7A6F15Time is such a funny thing. I don’t know about you, but my own sense of time has changed so many times as I’ve grown older. I remember, as a kid, thinking that seasons were seemingly endless, especially summer. Summer was so long that I would have sworn the flowering bush in our front yard bloomed two distinct times. Some months, too, seemed crazy long, particularly March. It obviously isn’t the only 31 day month, but it is one that has always had a tendency to drag. Until recent years that is.

This year, I saw March coming and I was equal parts excited and already exhausted. There were four concerts, a weekend getaway with a special friend, overnights with the girls, two public performances (a friend’s turn taking on the Vagina Monologues and my own storytelling event), some medical appointments, and a half marathon. Plus that full-time job and tending all the males in my life…it was pretty insane, honestly.

 

I closed out the month with a reasonably mellow weekend with only two commitments – Friday night dinner out with friends and a Sunday late afternoon long run with the Luna B*tches, two related items if you consider the enormous serving of pasta that I’m still working my way through days later. I’m feeling almost caught up in terms of rest and household tasks and just about ready for April and the adventures already on the calendar for this month. No fooling.

Getting ready for Helderberg to Hudson!

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, concerts, Dinner, Exercise, friends, Observations, running, Spring, sunday

The (Legendary) Sleepy Hollow Half

A few months ago I had a brilliant idea – I thought it would be really cool to have a new running goal because, you know, running 1000 miles in a year isn’t enough. I decided that I’d like to run 25 half marathons by September 21st, 2021 aka my 55th birthday. It must have been a moment of exhilaration and endorphins following my 10th ½ and PR in Syracuse or something. But, I’ve now said it out loud and written it down, so, I’m committed.

Number 11 was last weekend down in Westchester. The race sounded scenic (Hudson River views!) and challenging (hills and 5+ miles on trails) and I convinced a friend to register with me, a condition that always helps to keep me accountable. As the race run approached, I focused on working through the discomfort I’ve been experiencing, particularly in my hips, by committing to yoga and my foam roller. I think it was time well spent, but I hadn’t run any distances beyond 7 or 8 miles since November’s Syracuse event, which made me a bit nervous. I decided to do my best and just enjoy the view.

Saturday morning’s weather was wretched – cold, windy and grey. I had spent the night downstate with my runnergirl friend to minimize the drive on race day, but we still needed to be on the road by 7:15 for our 9:30 start time. That gave me a solid 90 minute car ride to kick myself with regret for registering for this race. I just wasn’t feeling it and if L. had even hinted that she wasn’t either, I would have happily turned around and done something much more fun.

We arrived in the picturesque village of Sleepy Hollow about an hour before the race and parked way up high in the Middle-High School parking lot. We walked down the hill, collected our bibs and climbed back up the hill, pausing to turn around and admire the fantastic view, and returned to the car to thaw out. Did I mention that the air was raw? And that I neglected to bring gloves? Yeah. However, the people we had encountered thus far were all friendly and warm and somehow that helped me to rally and land on the starting line to begin my run.

I knew the course was reputed to be hilly, yet beyond the opening climb the first 5 miles were a piece of cake. While we started on a hard surface road, we quickly transitioned to an absolutely gorgeous trail. The wind was kicking up pretty hard, but the Hudson River never fails to inspire me and I happily made my way as the miles ticked off. Annoyingly, my running app consistently marked my miles before the official race markers which meant I hit each mile twice but at least I was warm and my body felt strong without any obvious pain.

Midway through there was a stretch that was on one lane of a two lane highway and that piece felt pretty damn long. Fortunately, the wind was at my back for the hardest inclines and once I reached the turnaround, I knew I was beyond the midway point and on my way to the finish line. But, first there were miles 12 and 13 which kicked my ass and forced me to pull off to the side of the road for a quick pigeon pose as both hips were beginning to scream. My feet joined in and there was a brief chorus of aches and pains that necessitated an increase in volume of my playlist to drown out the discomfort. The last hill was a bitch, and I couldn’t find my usual finishing kick, but I was happy enough with my time and the sunshine that was finally peeking through the clouds. Number 11 is complete. Next up – Helderberg to Hudson in April!

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Telling the story of A Fire, a Phonebook Page and Finding My Father

Photo credit: Jamie Thompson

I’m finally sobering up after a night that was intoxicatingly special. Friday night I was one of 6 storytellers at a public event held at the Linda Auditorium. The occasion was a celebration of the 8th anniversary of our local take on the Moth Story Hour, The Front Parlor Series, which occurs monthly in two locations; Albany and Troy.

Telling a story, without notes, in front of an audience is a nerve-wracking experience. I’ve never performed on stage or addressed an audience like I did on Friday and I wasn’t certain how to prepare for it. I knew the story I wanted to tell, the one about how I found my father’s family 30 years ago. It’s a good story, made better by the fact that it’s true. Obviously, I know the chronology of the tale and the important players, but it was challenging to decide which details added to the story and which might merely distract from the overall recounting. I began working it out on “paper.”

It took me a couple of weeks before I nailed down the segments that I wanted to include and the basic order in which to share them. I practiced in my head, honing and editing, during runs and walks and drives. I revised. My biggest concern, besides completely choking, was that I would forget a certain episode or anecdote that I knew was important. I decided it made sense to count paragraphs and associate each one with a word. That way I only needed to remember 12 things. I could do that! On Wednesday, I printed the story for the first (and only) time and made 12 flash cards, for rehearsing.

Friday afternoon, I went for a run (shocking!) opting for my usual 5 mile loop. I passed the remains of a house that had been destroyed by a recent fire. I inhaled and the scent of fire damage immediately tweaked my memory. I knew that smell. I showered, grabbed the last can of hard cider from my fridge and headed to the Linda with a couple of talismans.

The first photo I ever saw of my father, the page from the Dublin phonebook and a stone from my father’s grave fashioned into a pendant.

Somehow I imagined there would be space there for me to actually run through my story out loud. There really wasn’t, though, with 5 other performers and an increasingly full auditorium. I drank my cider, flipping through my index cards, scanning the paper copy of my story and periodically checking the crowd to see familiar faces who had promised to come. I peed three times. More quickly than seemed possible, I was being introduced and made my way towards the stage. My last thought was this – “If you get nervous, just imagine you’re just telling the story to me. You got this.”*

I exhaled, deeply and slowly, and stepped up to the mic.

*As always, thanks Aloysius

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Filed under Albany, Aloysius, Events, family, friends, girlhood, Ireland, Irish, Local, musings, Observations, stress, upstate New York, writing

Yin yoga at The Hot Yoga Spot

A perennial goal in my life is to practice more yoga. There’s no part of my life that isn’t positively impacted by my taking some time from the day to get on my mat and I am trying to remain cognizant of that, despite my impulse to eliminate attending a class when my schedule gets jammed.

Yesterday afternoon I took a class which featured a style of yoga of which I was unfamiliar – Yin Yoga. This fairly modern variation of yoga focuses on remaining in asanas or poses for extended lengths of time, like 2 – 5 minutes. Since my hips have been screaming particularly loudly recently from running and not stretching, Yin sounded like exactly what I needed.

One of my favorite instructors, Aaron, lead the class and he had us begin with a breathing exercise which provided the perfect foundation for what followed. Inhaling slowly, holding for a couple of beats and then exhaling very slowly, reset my mind and body for the practice and gave me focal point to revisit when holding a pose became most challenging. The poses were mostly done while on our mats with few standing asanas. Props were limited to a blanket and a bolster and the room was warm rather than hot.

This style of yoga isn’t what I typically go for – I mean, it’s all about being still and that is not my strength. But, yesterday? It was exactly what I needed and I left that class feeling incredibly centered and balanced. Because the asanas are held for such sustained periods of time, the practice becomes very meditative in a way only possible for me when I’m moving slowly yoga-wise. As I mentioned, I’ve been experiencing a lot of discomfort and I think Yin might be part of the solution as I work to be prepared for 3 1/2 marathons in 3 months. Have you practiced Yin? Had hip issues.

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