Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Skirting the Issue

On this beautiful winter afternoon, there was nothing that could hold me back from a stellar 5-miler along one of my favorite trail routes.  I was amped up and carbed up to tackle the miles after two full days of rest.  It was Christmas, after all, and I am pretty sure I broke every dietary law created.  I was going to burn up that trail and leave no prisoners...and I did it in a skirt.  A skirt?  Yep, a skirt.  You read that right.  I ran in a running skirt for the first time ever, thanks to a healthy amount of peer pressure from my fellow "sole" sisters Steph and Suzanne.  They are both fairly tough chics in their own right and they both are skirt enthusiasts.  My purpose was to prove them wrong once and for all that a dedicated running purist like myself would never convert to skirts no matter how much my buddies ranted and raved about them.

If the truth must be told, I bought the darn thing weeks ago.  My biggest fear was if I started wearing cute little skirts during my runs, my focus would shift away from the run itself and I would start agonizing over my appearance.  I have enough of those insecurities during a regular day, so I don't want to incorporate them into my workouts.  My pre-run prep time would shift to worrying about coordinating the cute skirt with even cuter tops, and match the cutest visors to match some really cute socks and shoes.  Cuteness would kill the burgeoning athlete in me.  How can one get sweaty and maintain cuteness simultaneously?  Isn't there a law?  If I wanted to be tough and kick some serious asphalt, then cuteness would have to be sacrificed.  I'm a badass marathoner and I leave the cute chics in the dust.  Next thing you know, I would start smearing lip gloss and mascara on my face before heading out the door for a run.  I shudder at the thought of makeup entering any part of my workout.

Most of the online catalogs and specialty stores had these flimsy things priced a little out of my budget anyway, so I thought I was safe.  However when my favorite discount retail giant starting carrying a brand of running skirts for as little as $17, I had run out of excuses to avoid buying one.  I bought it during one of my post-Thanksgiving shopping splurges and tucked it away in my drawer until today.  Of course I only decided to wear it today so I could report back to my running buds that not every gal is suited for skirts.  The objective was to run in it once and give them my less than satisfactory review later.  I expected a lot of riding up, bunching up and a scorching amount of chafing.  So what happened?  Nothing.  No riding up and no chafing.  The skirt felt like nothing at all.  I felt comfortable and free and barely noticed what was covering my lower half at all.  It stayed in place and kept all the, um, trouble spots concealed nicely. 

Yeah I still jiggled in the usually areas, but all the jiggling took place under the skirt and became my little secret that no one else could see.  Sweat still pooled and dripped down the middle of my tech t-shirt.  However everything about the skirt remained intact and dry.  The most shocking aspect about the whole experience was that I did not obsess about my cuteness one single time.  I still logged my miles and managed to do so with yet another new running tool at my disposal.  Mid way through the run I even contemplated investing in another skirt while all the after-Christmas sales were still at full tilt.  If I turn into some sort of obsessive running fashionista, we can mark this moment as when it all began.  I will try to refrain from placing too much emphasis on the skirt for doing anything more than outfitting me for my run.  After all, this may be the start of a beautiful (not cute) running relationship.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Back on my feet

This December rolls around to find me in a melancholy mood.  The past year has been a challenging one to say the least.  I am back to running after an extended time off due to illness. Not my own, but that of my husband.  (More on that story later.)  For now I will tell you that starting over with a running routine can feel just like running for the very first time.  It does not matter how many marathons you have to your credit or how much of an experienced bad ass you think you are next to the New-Year's-resolution newbies when the calendar lands in January.  Running that first three miles can feel like 103 miles.  Your body does not remember how to gracefully reengage in the running arts just because you decided to lace up your Asics after months of avoiding them.  Your knees don't stop aching magically once your legs knock off some of the rust.  Your shin splints don't stay at bay just because your starting pace matches that of the old lady walking to the neighborhood pond to feed her ducks.  The extra pounds you gained during your layoff don't stay out of your way, because every foot fall feels like ankle weights have been strapped to your lower limbs.  It just is not that easy, Tito.  And you aren't that lucky.

However, the road back to the running regime is predictable thank goodness.  I can usually expect to feel like a pathetic poser for the initial four or five weeks back.  After that things start to feel natural again.  My back of the pack shuffle begins to resemble some shadow of a running gait once again.  My schedule starts to shift to accommodate some weekend miles.  My running buddies start to include me in the "night before" texts to scope out who's in and who's out for the next early morning running event.  I start to feel whole again and my mileage slowly increases.  Before you know it, I start scanning the race calendar to give my running routine some focus.  When I start considering the weeks of training needed to complete a particular half marathon, then I know I am officially back in the saddle again.

My little group of running divas always picks one big destination race for our fall calendar.  We train and run our heavy mileage in the thick Houston humidity during the relentless summer months.  Our reward that keeps us focused is the fact that our destination race always takes on the characteristics of a grown up girls weekend.  We work hard, love hard, and train hard during those summer long runs.  However when that fall race weekend rolls around, we take everything out of gear and just enjoy the time for what it is.  Time with our best girls is always the best part of the trip.  This year's fall trip was to the Philadelphia marathon.  Because my layoff fell right smack in the middle of the training period for Philly, I was unable to actually run the race.  It was heartbreaking to come to terms with the fact that of everyone in your running group, you are the only one that won't be rewarded for months of hard work and discipline.  You will be the only one that won't have the delicious satisfaction of seeing a goal through to the finish line, literally. 

Not being able to run Philly with my girls sucked royally.  It felt like crap to be the one left on the sidelines.  I still made the trip, thankfully, and had a really good time cheering everyone else on to some of their best racing times of the season.  Still, I wanted a medal and leaving Philly without one hurt a little bit.  Instead my first race of the season came in the form of a half marathon relay just last weekend, in which I ran the second leg with my uber sassy pal Dora.  It may have only been 6.5 miles of asphalt, but it might as well have been the final 6.5 miles of a marathon stretch.  I loved being a part of the racing festivities.  It was no replacement for Philly, but it was a decent enough consolation prize and I relished it.  I kept a silly grin on my face like a goofy kid for hours after receiving my medal.  It was not a finish time worthy of being on ESPN's highlight reel, but it was mine and that's all I needed.  I was back on my feet and felt cocky enough by the time I got home to sign up for another half marathon.  No relays for this one.  Just me doing the entire 13.1 miles on my own.  I plan to make it worth the long wait.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Hello Sole Sisters!

Welcome to my blog as I take a stab at sharing life lessons I have learned along the journey of motherhood,  marriage and the occasional marathon.  In all honesty, I must disclose that I am not a world class or even an average runner.  If you judge by my complete lack of speed, you could barely classify me as a runner at all.  The term "jogger" would technically describe my 11:00 minute (sometimes 12:00 minute) per mile pace better.  I have gotten much slower with age and laziness.  Of course my slight 20 pound weight gain over the last few years might have some impact on my performance as well.  However after completing nine full marathons and who knows how many half marathons, calling me a jogger would feel like an insult.  If I am able to stay on my feet and remain in forward motion for over five hours straight, then I want to be called a runner, damn it!  Okay, I will stop the whining.

I never claim to have all the answers to anything on any level.  Most of what I have learned in my short time on this planet is rooted in common sense.  Although common sense should rule our actions and reactions, most of us need a reminder from time to time.  My method is to go for a quick run to clear my mind when I need time to figure out the difference.  I promise to keep things clean and as close to PG-13 as possible on this platform.  Sarcasm and dry humor go hand in hand in my world, so expect a healthy dose of both when you visit this blog.  Most days I am in need of good laugh as well, so hit me up with some witty one liners when the spirit moves you.  Happy trails!