Thursday, August 14, 2014

Newer, Faster Jeff

Most days, I'm an optimist. 

The glass is half full.

What will be will be.

Everything happens for a reason. 

But when a dark cloud is cast over your training program early in the season, it's a fight to stay positive. 

The ever-so-dark injury cloud. 

For the number of times I've fallen, sprained my ankle or worse, I guess I should have known I was bound to have to throw in the towel for a big race at least once. As luck would have it, that happened to be this year.

Not running IS weird. 

Though I find I miss running a bit in general, I miss running with my running partner more.

Jeff and I meet, rather religiously, at Montrose Harbor shortly after 6am each Saturday morning between June and October to run side by side for six to twenty miles. We have done this for the last few years. We moved up a pace group two summers ago. After our PR success, we talked about getting quicker to make another pace group move this summer. 

Unfortunately, when the time came, Jeff had to make that decision on his own. 

But there is a silver lining in every cloud. Even the injury cloud. 

Jeff has moved up not one, but two pace groups. He's running a full minute per mile faster than he was this time last year. During the week, he is meeting up with another friend to do speed work. In addition, he's following his wife's advice and doing the proper physical therapy strengthening exercises. 

2014 is going to be Jeff's big, massive, PR year. 

I can't wait to cheer him on, followed by a celebration of his marathon retirement complete with craft beers.

One Decision

Oh, decisions. We make them every day.

Most are not memorable. But some have a lasting effect on your life. 

Last night I got to thinking about one decision I made in 2008. 

That one decision was the first step in a journey of millions of steps down a new path. 

That decision was to join CARA's marathon training program. 

Deciding to register for a marathon is a decision very few make, To train for a marathon is a monumental decision that prepares you to stand at the start line on race day. 

Looking back, I supose I could have trained on my own. Maybe I would have succeeded. But in the end, even after my achievement, I wouldn't have something - a whole new group of friends. 

I was 27 that summer. I had friends from childhood, family, grade school, high school and college.  If someone were to ask me that summer if I planned on becomng close with my training group, I likely would have said no. Maybe I would small talk with a person or two, like some of my recent grad school courses. But to meet people who would become my good friends? I didn't see it then. 

But maybe that's why it's so special now. 

Fast forward six years later. 

That summer, I made some great friendships. And the next summer, I made a few more. 

These friends aren't just people I run with. 

We brunch. We meet up for drinks. We barbeque. We talk about running (when we aren't running, of course). We make dinner and Netflix dates. We talk each other into running desitination races. We then travel with each other to said race destination. We console each other when one of us goes through a break up. We celebrate another's engagement. We are regulars at each other's birthday parties. We attend each other's weddings.

True friends. 

One decision paved the way. 

Pretty incredible, isn't it?

Friday, August 01, 2014

Festival Survival Guide

In the spirit of Lollapalooza weekend, I'm going to take a break from the normal topics of running and yoga and instead talk about another subject I know a lot about - music festivals.

Over the years, I've been to a lot of the big ones and some smaller, local ones too.

In the end, regardless of location or climate, I pack the same items in my festival bag each time (and shared this information with some co-worker festival newbies who are venturing off to Lolla today):

A small drawstring bag or backpack The lighter, the better - you'll be wearing it most of the day. You'll need to pack some stuff in it, but nothing you care too much about.

A water bottle (if allowed) Check the event's website to see if it needs to be factory sealed or empty. Water is expensive in festivals. Refilling water saves more money for beer.

ID, Cash and one credit card  Ditch the wallet and put these items into a zip top ziplock bag. Less weight and easy to see. Take a credit card over your debit card. That way, you have some protections if you lose the credit card.

One Key Hotel key card, car key, house key...whatever it may be. Think only of the process to get "home" for the night. You don't need to bring your entire keyring. It's heavy and you could lose it. It's not like you're not going to be stopping off at work or going to your storage locker after the festival. Put it in the ziplock bag with your ID.

• Cell Phone, Pocket Charger & Cord Put them into a small zip lock bag. Leave for the festival having your phone fully charged. Pull your phone out of your bag sparingly -You are at a music festival with a bunch of your friends. Very few things are cooler than that. Work and Facebook can wait. Plus, the less you pull it out of your bag, the less likely you are to lose it. If you've kept to this rule, your phone won't be dead at the end of the night. But just in case you couldn't resist filling your IG feed with cool festival photos, you've come prepared with a pocket charger and cord. Set your phone up to charge inside your bag.

• FOR THE LADIES: Small flashlight, TP and hand sanitizer Put these items in a small, zip top ziploc bag. Festivals are fun places. They also have extremely disgusting porta-potties. As the day carries on into the night, the ports-potties will run out of toilet paper. Don't be that girl begging for TP in the bathroom line. Show up prepared. The small flashlight will be your savior to survey the ports-potties condition before stepping foot into it. Don't use your phone for this. Keep it in your bag where it can't end up on the floor or in the port-potty. Don't lose your phone to the port-potty. That would be no fun.

Cheap Sunglasses Preferably purchased at a gas station or the like, you have zero attachment to this pair of shades. So when they fall of your head or you somehow crush them in your bag, you're not going to care. However, they do provide protection from the sun and cost $250 less than your pair that's safely at home.

A travel sized portion of sunscreen lotion Some festivals ban the aerosol sunscreens, so bring lotion. Cover yourself in it before you leave for the festival, then a small travel sized portion to go will be perfect. You'll need just enough for one or two more applications before the sun will go down for the evening.

Garbage Bag or sheet of plastic This can be used to sit on or cover you from the rain. Your choice depending on weather conditions. Or, maybe you'll find you need a garbage bag at the end of the night. Who knows. If you're fancy, you can bring an old bed sheet to put over the plastic for something to sit on. But remember, you are at a festival. Nobody cares what you're sitting on, and neither should you. In the end, you're more likely to throw this stuff away then lug it home with you.

• Ear Plugs I get it. You love loud music. Ear plugs are for whips. Fine. You're going to be listening to music for 7-12 hours today. Bring them with just in case. Better to be safe and have hearing when you're 60.

A lightweight, long sleeve shirt Assuming it's summer and you've left for the fest with a t-shirt and shorts, you might be chilly when the temperature drops 7 hours from now. Roll up a long sleeve shirt and put it in the bottom of your bag. It may be your salvation this evening.

Gum Ya got any gum? Gum is a key festival item. It's a conversation starter, a lifesaver and has been curbing stinky beer breath for hundreds of years. Just pack it. At some point in the night, someone (if not you) will be really happy your brought it.