Sunday, November 23, 2014

Splits With Soul

I drop my warm sweatpants and top at the entrance to my corral, I stretch (kind of), my corral walks to the start line of the Philadelphia Marathon, and we go.

The first few miles are weird. The streets seem narrow and the race seems congested. I'm looking for 8:30's and I'm having a hard time hitting my goal pace. Around mile 5, the crowd starts to spread out and I do better with a little space to run and move. 

Right now, it's just about the splits. Hit your splits. Hit your splits. Hit your splits.

Just past Mile 6 is the first timing mat. I hit it hard. I have this thing about timing mats. Whenever I know people are tracking me and are getting text updates, I think of them when I cross timing mats. I see their faces. Hi Mom. Hi Dad.

At mile 10, I see a row of porta-potties. And no line. I scan for an empty one. I see green. Green means go. I hop in, put my iPhone shuffle and my gel between my teeth (this is weird, but really there was nowhere to put stuff down), and I get out. 

Mile 13 comes and, at 13.1, there's another timing mat. Hi Mom. Hi Dad. Time to bump up the pace a little bit. Negative splits, here we go. Running the second half faster is what I'm doing here. Hit your splits.

I fall into a really nice cadence at Miles 14-16. I am loving life. Just loving up all over it. Everything is great. Life is great. This marathon is great! While I'm a little punchy, I honestly didn't expect this groove. It's so good.

I read an article the other day about doing things on a "soul level." If I love something, I do it at 100%. But what about doing it on a soul level?

Soul level. Soul level. Soul level.

At Mile 18, I get a "battery low" warning from my iPod shuffle. What. I fully charged it. I have been running for only about two and a half hours. What. I make the decision to turn the iPod off for now, to save power for when I really need it. I am hoping it'll be cool, because I really, really like running with music and I always train with music. Now it's just me and my mind, heart, breath, and legs. Back to soul level, right?

I pass Mile 19 and a timing mat. Hi Mom. Hi Dad.

Manayunk is awesome. Just awesome. The crowd support is on point, I hear someone call out my name, the music is bumping. It's like a frat house. There's even beer (I'm not having any, though). I hit the turnaround and head back.

My legs feel like they just don't want to move. Hey legs, you have one job. Move.

At Mile 22, the earbuds go back in and the iPod goes back on. Miles 17 and 22 share the same cheer station; the mile markers are just on different sides of the road. I see super sassy, motivational posters from Lululemon and people wearing November Project grassroots gear. Oh hey, it's November Project - Philadelphia! My people! The words "November Project" spray-painted on a shirt may not mean something to you, but they mean something to me. Soul level.

I spend Miles 23 - 24 trying to maintain pace. I see 8:49 flash across my watch once or twice. Hit your splits. Hit your splits. Hit your splits.

Mile 25. I'm close. Only a mile. Let's go. Soul level. Soul deep. 8:20.

I get this weird feeling in my bicep. I don't know how to describe it exactly. It's a weird feeling - the best I can describe it is that it feels like electricity shooting through my veins, and not in a good way. Must be from pumping my arms for over three and a half hours. Shake it out, shake it off.

Mile 26. Sweet Jesus, we're almost there. The last .2 go by quick. 7:45.

Hit the finish line. Hit your splits. Last timing mat. Hi Mom. Hi Dad. I'm done. And when I'm just past the finish line, I see a face that looks a little familiar wearing a singlet that looks really familiar, a singlet from my alma mater. He ran on the same team that I did, the same year that I did. Soul deep.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Movement

There are big moments, small moments, experiences, peoples, places that make us stop. They get us out of real life and into something beautiful.

Like #MoreMovement last night.

We met up at Dewey Square at 5pm and there was that nervous, fun, jumpy adrenaline energy that happens when you don't really know what's about to happen. We ran a few miles, with some jumping jacks and burpees thrown in, following Brogan to our super secret spot for part two: yoga with Goldie.

We ran up and down side streets downtown and alleys in Chinatown and then deep into the South End. When we got to SoWa Vintage Market, the energy was up and the music was already jamming and we filled that old brick building with more energy and more noise and yoga mats and a whole bunch of sneakers.


I flowed with gravel on my mat (because, hey, it's an open market and there's gravel) and with my sunglasses on (because, hey, that strong summer light was streaming in). And something about the gravel and the light and the super cool DJ and the vinyasa was unreal. After a week of what I will call too much realness, #MoreMovement was unreal in the best possible way.

There are a lot of things that have done that for me. Running SeaWheeze. Colorado. Wyoming. Wanderlust. There are big, impactful, beautiful experiences that make me hit the re-set button in a powerful way.


But there have to be smaller experiences and moments in daily life too, and I am lucky to have them. There was last night. There was Saturday at Narragansett Town Beach. There is Boston. I don't have a backyard, but I do have every Boston sunrise and sunset. There will be tomorrow morning with the November Project.

And there will always be movement.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Humbled

Marathon training is tough. Marathon training at altitude is, in a word, humbling.

Yesterday in Jackson Hole, I went out for my long run. There was something about 7200 feet that got to me. My legs moved slower, my heart beat quicker.

I ran two miles downhill around curves and switchbacks towards Jackson and I sent up thanks to the running gods when I hit four miles of straightaways. The straightaways were perfect. I tacked on an extra half mile, because the straight road felt that good.


But, running uphill, back the way I came, was next. Moving tired legs and pulling oxygen into tired lungs became harder. I was hot, so hot, and I kept swallowing reflexively because I was thirsty. As I went up, up, up, I moved slower, slow, slowest.  

I thought about walking the last half mile. But walking is even slower than running, so I kept running.  I made a bargain with myself: Just keep running.

That was it. That was the bargain. No reward, no pay-off. Just keep running.

Let’s be reaI: I was barely moving.

Later, I did the math. Jackson is at 6200 feet, and I started my run at 7200 feet.

Meaning: I descended 1000 feet and then ran back up 1000 feet. Holy sh*t.

I was humbled. I was completely humbled by the Tetons. I was humbled in more than one way. Guys, the Tetons are really beautiful. They are very tall and very majestic and, to state the obvious, we don’t have anything like them in Boston.


And isn’t it a good thing to be humbled once in a while? Humbled by our bodies, by the physical challenges we put ourselves through. Humbled by the potential in the opportunities that exist before us. Humbled and inspired by others; humbled and inspired by nature.

It is not so far a stretch from being humbled to being grateful.

So here it is: I am grateful for my body, for my legs, and for my lungs and I am grateful for those very hard, very hot miles yesterday. I am grateful for the spectacular beauty of Wyoming and for the simple fact that places like that still exist.



And I am grateful that I live at sea level. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Highlights, High Fives, and Volume on High

The week is over. Let's recap.

Started Monday with the November Project. Casual 8 mile run, 5 minutes of wall jumps and planks, 7 minutes of burpees. BG said to be impressive. I think we nailed it.

I also nailed my shin. See that wall below? I left some skin there. It's cool. No tears allowed. Just high fives and good vibes.



Bought these Lululemon tights. Black mesh panels? Come at me. I will wear them to yoga and I will wear them to the office (yup).

Walked Memorial Drive to Meadhall. 7:30pm looked phenomenal. Boston, you are phenomenal.


Ate hyper-local kale (ugh I feel pretentious just typing that, ugh I'm the worst) at The Sinclair with new friends.

And found this remix. Very much a summer Sunday long run jam. 10 miles down, volume up.

 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Practice Makes Radness

Ever heard the words yoga and practice in the same sentence? What's that all about? What's a "yoga practice"? Let's be real: It sounds just a wee bit pretentious (yikes) and the word practice also holds connotations of work. Working at something, working through something, getting better at something. Hard work.

But, when we use the phrase "yoga practice," I think we are hinting at something more, something very rad. Something very significant, and very, very hard to define.

All pretensions aside, yoga is important to me. It makes my running better, and there's something to be had on a yoga mat that I can't get elsewhere. That undefinable something.

But I would turn around and say the same thing about running, or the November Project, or learning to surf and swallowing an ocean-ful of salt water, or paddle boarding, or barre, or hiking, or kayaking. Or, all the rest.


It's not about any one thing for me. So, what is it?

It is the practice of being active. 


Today, it was back-to-back yoga and a 7 mile run. Tomorrow, I'm trying to figure out if I can make it to November Project and back in time for work (I think I can do it. And you should come.). And tomorrow evening, we will be paddle boarding with the sunset.

My active practice is fundamental and it is core. And, to me, it is rad.

There is a Zen proverb: Move and the way will open. 

A simple but very impactful phrase, with so many meanings. Shift, change, work hard, dig deep, transcend. But maybe it's just move. Move. Move more often, move big, move strong, move fast. Move. And the way will open.

I didn't always feel this way. But I do now, and I can't imagine my daily life, my weekly life, my forever life, without this practice.

So I will move and I will practice. And then? I'll stop and take it all in.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

S'mores and Sand Castles

The weekend was bookended by s'mores and sand castles.





You can't get any more summer than that. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Wanderlusting

Wanderlust Oahu. Yoga with Eoin Finn, surfing and swallowing an oceanful of salt water, more yoga, more salt water. We watched the sun set over the North Shore cliffs every night, all eyes on the horizon and the last surfers in the water.


Four months later, back at Wanderlust, this time in Stratton. Three buddies and about 300 miles round trip. We road-tripped, stacked our wrists with bracelets and silvery tattoos, flowed on yoga mats and paddle boards, and road-tripped back.


So, tell me... when's the next Wanderlust?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Layover

A 24 hour layover in San Francisco treated me exceptionally well, and so did the weather.

6am sunrise, jet lag, + three cups of coffee.


Yoga + a view at International Orange.


Palm trees + sunshine on the Embarcadero.


Taking photos + buying no souvenirs in Chinatown. 


Afternoon light + skyline delight.