Thursday, May 23, 2013

Practice in Patience

If running and riding hasn't brought on enough frustration and injury in the last five years, I've found a new avenue. Yoga.

There are many positions in yoga that require one or both feet to leave the ground. Here's where it gets complicated.

Though yoga classes are called 'practices' I tend to think them more as the show.

Practicing is done in the confines of my condo with very few witnesses.

For weeks, I practiced side crow for ten or fifteen minutes in the evening. Over time, I started to stick it. In between, I fell.

For a number of evenings, Dave was amused both by what was on TV and my side show. I fell. We laughed. I hovered for a split second. He played along that he saw it to pacify me. I used my iPad to film my arm positioning and figure improvements. The cats watched with confusion.

Once falling had dissipated in side crow, it was time to move onto something I'd not yet gotten a grip on. Something more dangerous, or, at least in my unbalanced and bruised world.

Last week I came home from work late with a few things to wrap up for the office from home. My planned 4 mile run did not happen that day, though the beautiful weather drew just about every runner out onto the lakefront.

I rolled out my mat and watched a few YouTube videos on crow. Though I didn't stick it that evening, I felt I'd gained some valuable ground. Over time, I hope one day it will come with ease and look something like this:

As Dave says to me often, "Patience is a virtue."

Patience is not something I have much of. I better keep searching for it through yoga practice.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Man with the Flag

This morning I ran the Chicago Spring Half Marathon. The weather was a complete 180 from last year - warm and sunny.

Jen and I met Sara and a few others at the Universal Sole tent before heading over to the start line.

My runs have been slow and labored lately. Going into this race, I didn't have high hopes for a PR. In fact, I had given up on the thought weeks ago. Note to self, PR's can't happen if you keep doubting.

As Jen and I started, the 2:10 pace team came along side us. We decided to try to keep with them, at least the first few miles. Walking through the aid stations gave me a chance to catch my breath, then continued on. All along, I kept my eye on the flag.

As Jen and I had headed to the start line, we saw a man, a participant in the race, carrying a large flag. I remember reading a post on Facebook about a man running with a large flag at either another race or out on a trail in the burbs. I wondered if this was the same guy.

The flag was a good distance ahead of us. We saw it heading back before we hit the turn around point. It was right around then that Jen pulled ahead and I tried to maintain, staying just in front of the 2:10 group.

The second half was particularly challenging. I've not been training the way I was this time last year. Overall, I'm slower. But yet there I was, attempting to stay within a few minutes of my personal best time for this distance. So I pushed on.

Between mile 11 and 12, I came up to the man with the flag. I wondered if he was having a tough second half too. Though i imagined the sheer wind resistance from carrying such a large flag must be fierce. I thought of the symbolism of him carrying a flag on Armed Forces weekend. I thought of my brother.

As I passed him, I gave him a thumbs up and said "I love it." He smiled and replied "I love it too." I immediately got goosebumps. For a moment I thought I was going to tear up. But that moment provided newfound inspiration that carried me to the end.

Thank you, man that carried the flag today.

Thank you, all of you that serve(d) in our Armed Forces.

Thank you, Dan.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

First Morning Run

I've been thinking it was about time I switched back over to weekday morning runs. The days are getting longer. The weather is getting nicer. Work is getting crazier.

So last night, after I missed an opportunity to run in the 80 degree weather due to a later night at the office, I decided to do something about it. I set my alarm for an hour earlier.

This morning, I headed out shortly after 6am for an easy three mile run. I'm not sure how many times I've run this route, but I'm sure it's in the hundreds.

I jump on Sheridan heading south until I hit the lakefront path's northerly end at Hollywood Ave. I stop briefly at the drinking fountain at the bike turn around and head back home.

I doubt I know any stretch of road better than this mile and a half.

Many people complain about the congestion on Sheridan Road.  It can be hard to navigate in a car. Vehicles bob and weave around others turning left and buses making frequent stops. They honk and cut each other off.

Then there's the sidewalk on the east side of the street. It's my running route along with so many others. It's possible to run from my house all the way to my turn around without having to stop at a streetlight. A unique feature in a city founded on a grid.

This morning, as I eased into my morning routine, I paid special attention to the sidewalk and things around it:

A chalk drawing on the sidewalk by Loyola - Congratulations, graduates.  Well that's nice.

A few seconds further, a pool of red liquid, questionably blood, next to the Red Eye newspaper vending box. Hm, seems questionable. 

A lone empty bag of Cheeto's. Eh, nothing unusual there.

An empty bottle of Yellow Tail next to an empty pack of Camel Menthol's. Looks like someone had a one man party with those items. 

As I was heading back thinking of blood, Cheetos, Yellow Tail and Camel Menthol's, I came upon a familiar face. It was Glen.

Glen is not his real name. It's the name I've given him as he lives at the corner of Glenlake & Sheridan. I see Glen on most of my morning runs. I smile and he waves. He greets me with a 'Good Morning' sometimes. Little does he know, he is often the first person who talks to me in a day.

I wondered at the end of last season if I'd see Glen again this year. He's getting up there in age. I couldn't help but smile when I saw him this morning. He was wrangling his small dog as I passed by, so I don't think he saw me. But I know I'll see him out there tomorrow morning.

Hello again, morning summer runs.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

The Wrath of Heated Power Vinyassa Yoga

In the last year, my coworker and I have been doing a sort of citywide yoga studio tour. Though we've fallen in love with The Lab, we're continuing to try out others as well.

For the last week, I've been going to yoga studio #5. It's located in Streeterville which is quite convenient to work and the train. The studio is in a nice sunlit and spacious place. Our first class was a Friday evening candlelit vinyassa flow class. Just challenging enough for a Friday night.

Last week, I tried my first heated power vinyassa class. Though the class proved to be challenging and warm, I didn't feel like it defeated me.

Last night, I took the same class again. I was expecting the same experience last last week, hoping to build on poses that proved particularly challenging.

But this practice took a different turn. Instead of on-the-verge-of-uncomfortable warm, the room quickly turned into sauna-like temperatures. The teacher flowed between positions quickly. My mat couldn't keep up with the sweat it was given.

I looked around the room. Everyone was sweating, but no one seemed to be sweating as much as me. I continued through the class as best as I could. As we stood in mountain pose, sweat ran from my temples down my face and off my chin. As we moved into forward fold, the sweat reversed directions. Big drops of sweat plummeted my mat as I rested in downward facing dog. As we caught up with our breath in child's pose, I looked for a place to put the crown of my head that wasn't already soaked.

I stopped frequently to drink water and wipe my face on my shirt. I found myself wondering how running 26 miles was possible for this body but not 70 minutes of heated power vinyasa.

As we moved into balancing poses, I struggled to find a place to place. After all, slip and slides weren't meant to let one defy gravity. I stepped off my mat to see the immediate area wasn't much safer. Now this is just embarrassing.

Class wound down and the teacher thanked us for coming. Another student commented about the warm room. The teacher admitted this wasn't her usual class. In fact, she hadn't taught a heated class in some time. As we walked out of the room, I caught a glimpse of the thermostat. It read 120 degrees.

I rest my case.