Sunday, November 30, 2014

Where's Your Mind When You Run? An "In The Zone" Moment.

Ten mile trail run today with my husband.  We ran along a section of the Deschutes River Trail where our dog Ashe could run leash-free and we could enjoy running along the river and up and over the rocky mountain path without trying to hold onto a dog that can likely run four times our speed and distance.  Ashe seemed to be the happiest about this about this decision --he ran in and out of the trees, ahead on the path and the occasional jump in the cold river to chase ducks --always coming back to check in before taking off again.  Ten strong miles for us and probably a good sixteen for him.  All of us, returning home tired, happy, and grateful for our time out there where we were able to expend our energy doing something we love:  Running in Nature! 

At some point in the middle of the run, I could no longer hear my husband behind me.  There was quite a distance between us, compared to usual when he's right at my heels pushing me on.  It was as if I was moving effortlessly up the hills and around the rocks.  My feet moved quickly on the downhills just like I have learned to do on these steep portions of trails.  Body leaning forward, feet landing softly. My entire body felt strong. Knees lifting.  Muscles firing. Mind present.  I realized my pace was much faster than a normal easy trail run.  But yet if felt as if I was floating. I was in a place with my running that would be best described by using the familiar term "in the zone".  I wasn't over thinking.  There were no emotions from the day clouding over me.  I was simply and powerfully: fully present in that running moment.

After awhile, I heard my husband say something to me.  I think it was something like, "Nice Push!" This kind of pulled me out of my zone-like trance.  Not in a bad way...just different. My mental chatter came back on and my mind wandered like it often does.  I could definitely notice a difference in my running effort and feel.

Where had my mind gone to where I didn't even realize that I was running this faster pace?  What were my thoughts?  

I thought a bit about this and realized that my thoughts during that time were in a place where I was envisioning myself RUNNING.  I was imagining what it felt like to run strong and effortlessly.  I was seeing myself in a race and doing tempo runs with a friend who had texted me about running just moments before I left for this run.  I was seeing myself with quick steps and a beautiful forward lean to my stride.  Remembering the trail running movie that I had watched earlier in the week and imagining myself as one of the runners on screen.  My thoughts were powerful in how they connected with my body and ultimately leading to my strong and comfortable pace that came so easily!

Obviously, not all my runs are going to be "in the zone" runs.  And I don't necessarily want them to be.  Every run is different.  When I need to process something that is heavy on my heart or when I'm stuck with an idea and need some creative flow, I want my runs to be about letting my thoughts wander so I can think while moving.  But when I'm dong a speed or tempo workout or racing?  I want to be in this place where my mind and body are focused on the same task.  I want to float.  I want to run strong and have it all come together in a way that feels like a fine oiled machine ...mind, body, spirt!

Running is different for all of us.  Some are super fast.  Some slow.  Many run for pleasure and race for fun. Others for personal bests, breaking records and winning.  No matter what kind of runner we are or where running fits in our lives, one thing remains the same for all of us:

Our thoughts are powerful!  Our minds are just as important as our bodies when it comes to running strong.  When we are focused on the moment and filling our minds with confident thoughts where we see ourselves running the way we want to run, it's amazing how our body follows suit.  

A moment like today is not a new experience.  It was a reminder though.  I was reminded of just how good it feels to be in this place where my mind and body connect so beautifully.  A place where my mind almost separates from the thoughts that are pressing and distracting and it goes to a place of its own where it connects with the running moment.  Legs and arms moving with the vision in my head.  Without even really knowing that this is what's happening until afterwards.  I love this!  THIS is how I want my races and workouts to be!

Today's strong run was a huge motivation for me as I get ready to kick off my Boston/Trail 50k training.  It was a run that made me want MORE of that "in the zone" experience.  I'm so thankful for a body and mind that allows me to run strong!  

1. Where's your mind when you're running?  
2. Have you found yourself in this zone-like state of running?  
3. Do you know how to get into this zone when you want?  If so, what do you focus your mind on?  

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Empty Silence After a Holiday Week and Recent News: Trail 50k Decision and #RunwithmeKids!

"I was especially glad for my run today. And even more, for the time I had to sit here alone at a favorite spot along the river trail by my house --a moment to be still with my thoughts, listen to the sounds around me, and feel the cold air. Recharge. After a full week of family visiting, the house was eerily quiet last night when everyone was gone. It felt big and empty. Rooms, that just hours before were saturated in laughter, conversation, cooking, and the happy hum of family sharing their lives, were suddenly hollow. As much as my introverted side craved this silence and solitude, I was left feeling my house: a bit empty but yet a heart and head so full of thoughts and feelings...those that had collected and been put on hold during the busy buzz of a holiday week. I'm beyond thankful for the week of connecting with family and being surrounded by love and safe relationships. I'm also thankful for this quiet time to reconnect with myself."

What a busy week of family time!  Busy, special and fun!  We had family guests for most the week and every day was a buzz of conversation, playing, cooking, laughing, and catching up. On Thanksgiving day/night we had sixteen family members staying here. For the first time since we moved in, all the rooms in this house were being used! And I still felt like I could find my personal space if I wanted!  A good feeling.  My mom, brother and family, husband's family, nieces, nephews, cousins...

Family.  Love.  Gratitude.

Yesterday, after everyone left and it was just us, our house felt so empty and quiet.  Almost sad.  I was ready for some quiet time for sure --the introverted side of me was begging for solitude --but I wasn't prepared for how STILL and SILENT it would feel after hosting that many people.

At the end of my run today, I stopped at a favorite spot on the trail by my house (pictured above).  I sat for a moment with my thoughts--intentional about taking in the sounds around me and feeling the cool air on my face.  My craving for connection but yet overwhelming need to be alone.  As I was still in this spot and while running, I listened to the things that were most pressing on my heart and head and allowed myself to feel the emptiness and lull that can come after socially intense weeks like this.  Sadness mixed with the comfort of alone time. It's times like this that I am MOST grateful for the gift of running!!

In addition to family and holiday happenings, I've made some big running and racing decisions as well as taken the first steps with a friend to launch a new site for a project we are working on!  

  • I've decided I will run my first 50k at the end of May!  This one:  Trail Factor 50k on May 25th in Forest Park.  As many of you know, Forest Park is in Portland, Oregon and boasts some of the most beautiful PNW trails!  I haven't made up my mind for how I will TRAIN for this race yet but I do have ideas and friends to help me work on it.  I'll still run the Boston Marathon in April but now I will have a good month to recover in case I run it faster than a training run!  
  • As part of my training and a way to get the family involved in running, I have few races on the schedule for Mother's Day weekend in May!  Wanted to share with you in case you're looking for some spring events and an excuse to travel if you're not local!  I'm sure some of you have heard of Smith Rock here near Bend?  Well Go Beyond Racing is putting on races on Saturday, May 9th and May 10th!  On May 9th is the Smith Rock Ascent (trail) 50k, 15m, and 4m.  On May 10th is the Smith Rock half marathon and 10k (road, flat, fast, scenic).  Not only do these all sound like great races and an opportunity for the whole family to race on this weekend, but Moms run the 4 mile for FREE if they race with their kids.  Oh, and you get to make a weekend of it in Bend, Oregon and the surrounding Central Oregon area.  Might be some races you'd like to pencil in!  I plan to run the 4 mile with my girls (this will be fun to work towards) and then use the half marathon on Mother's Day as a training run.  I think I have some friends coming to run the 50k too!   
  • More to come but Tia  (from Arkansas Runner Mom) and I have been working on some research and other ideas related to family fitness and running with kids.  We have made some exciting progress over the last few months and we will soon launch a new site/blog: Run With Me Kids.  It will be a site that offers community, guidance, information and inspiration about making running (and fitness) fun for kids while fostering family fitness and relationships and helping kids build healthy habits for living.  Our site will include stories from the community (YOU) about family running experiences as well as posts about running, fitness, parenting, healthy living, and more.  I will post more on this later but for now, you can follow and read more about us on RunwithmeKids Instagram, RunwithmeKids Facebook, and RunwithmeKids Twitter.  Website design is one of the next things on our list to learn!  Let me know if you have someone you'd highly recommend.  Otherwise, we will find our way through techie land on our own!

1.  Did you host family for Thanksgiving or travel? 
2.  Did you run a Thanksgiving Day Race??  If so, did you run with your family/kids?  If you'd like to share your race day/run with kids story, please send to runwithmekids [at] gmail [dot] com or tag them #runwithmekids
3.  Have you run in Forest Park in Portland, OR?  
4.  Moms, don't forget to check out the 4 mile trail race at Smith Rock during Mother's Day weekend (see blog sidebar at the top right).  Moms run free with their kids!  Really excited for this!


Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Random Bulleted Thursday Post. And Winner of Dog Leash Giveaway!

My head is full of many random thoughts but nothing that would warrant one fluid blog post.  So, a bulleted post it is!
  • I ran six slippery snow miles with my friend Marci today. Up until now, I haven't minded the snow running but today was just downright slippery and hard to move in. But as always, it was nice passing the time with a running partner.  I've come to greatly enjoy this girl! It wasn't too long ago when Marci (elite runner) invited me on our first run.  At first, I felt intimidated by her invitation and figured she must have not really meant it.  Um, her marathon time of 2:35 is run at a pace that I can't even imagine running ONE mile at these days!  But I finally took her up on her invitation and now I always look forward to our trail runs together! They are easy paced (really really easy for her!) and full of good conversation topics ranging from competition, goals, writing, travel and more.  Marci has become a friend that I never would have expected to have and I'm so glad to know her.   She's wise beyond her twenty something years, humble as ever, and so kind hearted!  I came home today just so thankful for how running brings people together. Thank you for inspiring me Marci! Check out her blog: Runner Marci.  
  • Apparently, it's only a little over 20 weeks until the Boston Marathon!  I guess it's time to figure out my plan of action.  Will I train for a marathon and then try to tack my first 50k on weeks after Boston as an after thought.  OR train for the 50k and use Boston as a training run and save my punches for the trail run? Decisions Decisions.  It's time to make a plan and STICK WITH IT! I will have that figured out by Monday.  
  • I've never seen so many Patagonia coats in my LIFE!  Seriously, Bend, OR is a bubble of sorts.  One big Patagonia wearing bubble.  At least this time of year.  And not just adults wearing Patagonia.  Babies, toddlers, grade school kids and probably even dogs.  Hmmm, I'm resisting this trend for as long as I can!  For one, my kids are perfectly happy with their Costco knock-offs. As for me?  I'd rather spend my money on running clothes, race fees or plane tickets! 
  • I read through some of my stacks of running journals today. It got me excited to keep a running journal again!  I've journaled off and on over the last few months but now that training starts up again, I'm excited to grow through my reflections and thoughts on my daily runs!  I'm such a believer in the power behind journaling like this!! Nothing new for me but a rekindled passion of sorts.  

    • We took the kids to see Big Hero 6 last weekend.  It had been forever since we took the kids to a movie in the theaters.  And what a good flick!  We all left wanting to use our brains!!  My electrical engineer husband spent the next day building robots with our kids and the neighbor kids.  It was fun to see.  The picture below is of my middle daughter working her robot creation.  Pretty cool! 
    • Building a snow fort with this little guy in the picture below?  A highlight of my week. 

    • I was pulling books from my shelf yesterday and found Scott Jurek's Eat and Run.  I looked at his signing for my husband and it caught me for a minute.  You know, made me think.  "Do THINGS Always."  Hmm, what exactly did he mean by that?  As I started reading the book, I gained a deeper understanding into his mind an ultra runner and his message became clearer to me.  Do THINGS Always.  What does this mean to you?  Positive resonation?  Negative resonation?  Or nada.  You've got no resonation at all?  

    • Just a random black and white snap shot of my "right this second" last night when I was invited to post a black and white picture.  This is where I write, read, make messes with paper, pen and words.  I love this space!  I'm actually writing here now....candles lit, Nora Jones playing, a beer on the side.  I think creative and inspiration space is so important for some of us.  
    • And a snow picture and caption from earlier this week.  For those of you sick of my snowy trail pictures?  Well, if it makes you feel any better, I'm sick of the snow now too.  I'm especially sick of driving (or floating, sliding, slipping all over the place) in it.  Ready for my DIRT to run on again!  Oh, it's going to be a loooong winter in the Central Oregon Mountains if I feel this way already!  Here's the caption: "My run today was one where I cleared my mind and ran with the intention of being present with my moment...with the life and beauty surrounding me.  Present in my steps.  Not one step ahead and not resisting where I am...simply and powerfully present with now.  With life as it is.  A good feeling.  I can't adequately describe the beauty out there...with each mile, I wanted to take ever bit of beauty in...the steam rising over the Deschutes, rocks capped with snow, heavy trees, white branches, packed snow trails stretching out for miles.  All of it, lit up with sunshine and deep blue skies."  

    • Last but not least...the winner of the dog leash giveaway from a few days ago:

    Happy Thursday Night or Friday morning!  What are some of your Random Bullets from your life? 


    Thursday, November 13, 2014

    Run Oregon: What a Difference a Week Makes! From Wet Forest Trails to Winter Wonderland and a Few Pics From the Weekend.

    Well, Oregon wasn't kidding around when it warned us that winter was coming!  Yesterday we awoke to temps in the single digits and today there was a good six inches of snow on the ground!  Talk about excitement in our house.  The kids were GIDDY!  Why can't adults stay this exuberant about life? Having kids around certainly reminds me to find joy in the little things.  They put on all their snow gear immediately and spent the first 45 minutes of the day running around outside before school.  These kids really aren't used to this much snow.  The climate in Portland is quite different.  The biggest difference between Bend and Portland when it snows?  Well, it rarely snows in Portland but when it does, school is almost always canceled.  This is because of how dangerous the roads can be with the wet climate. Freezing temps after a week of rain means icy icy roads!  In Bend, we are in the high dessert mountains where it is mostly dry and sunny.  Even when it is single digits, the sun is likely shining.  The city of Bend is also equipped road-wise for lots of snow so the kids had to go to school!  Ha!  Poor kids.  Lucky mom!  I enjoyed the snow falling out my window all morning while I got lots things checked off my lists.  Then I ventured out into Narnia and did the best I could at trail running.  It was more of a walk, hike, jog.  Really, I could have used some cross country skis or snow shoes!  I think I will invest in some.

    View from my window today.

    This post is short and sweet. Not a lot of time left to write much but I will include some pictures from this last week of running and visiting with friends.  I love how just this last weekend we were running in the wet McDonald Forest in Corvallis, OR (testing out part of the McDonald Forest 50k) and today I was running in falling snow and through snow-covered evergreens.  It was so hard to leave Asheville, NC and took me a good two months to snap out of my sad slump and missing my Blue Ridge Mountains but now that I'm settled, I'm more and more thankful to call Bend (and OREGON) HOME! Change takes time.  

    From this on Sunday (Corvallis, OR):  

    Around mile 20 of the McDonald Forest 50k trail race.  

    To this Today (Bend, OR): 

    If you look down along the river on the left, you can see the foot bridge that many of you might recognize from the Deschutes River Trail.  

    My dog tried to take me on our usual back trails.  Nope, wasn't happening! 

    I was thankful for this back road that leads to the trails (still a trail)  because of the road tracks left for me to run on.  Thank you city of Bend.  Ha!

    This last weekend we drove to Corvallis to visit some of our closest friends for my birthday.  Corvallis is where Oregon State University is.  This is where my husband went to school and Corvallis was where we met during the summer of 2000. It was so special to show our kids some of the places where we first fell in love!  

    So neat to see our kids sitting in American Dream Pizza.  This was where I ate my very fist night in Corvallis after driving myself from Colorado to Oregon.  I only knew one person and she was gone for the weekend so I went to eat with my new roommate (also a stranger) and our neighbor who turned out to be the love of my life.  

    14 years later and I'm sitting here with our girls...we never would have known from that first dinner together.  

    And this was the beautiful soul that started it all...a simple phone call from Iowa (me) to Oregon (her) one random spring night and the rest is history.  I agreed to move to Corvallis with her for the summer!  Crazy how that decision opened doors to the rest of my life.  This girl was at the birth of all three of my kids (and I hers), maid of honor in my wedding (I was in hers too), the reason for why I met my husband, and has been a constant in my life over the years.  Love her!  Thankful that I could spend my birthday with her.  

    1.  Does it snow where you live? Do you run in the snow? 
    2.  Best running shoes for snow and winter running?  
    3.  Have you taken your kids to a special spot where you and your significant other fell in love or met?  
    4.  If you want to read about and win a hands-free dog leash, check out my last post:  Hipster Leash