The Run Happy Formula

With my yogic river guide out of town (no Saturday yoga for me), I took the opportunity to hit the open road after a month of being sidelined by too much stress and a nagging quadracept injury. Luckily for me, the formula for a happy run was in place.

Here are the components, for which (even hours later) I find myself grateful:

1. Running in the cold (this morning’s thermometer hovered around 37 degrees) allows the lungs to fill with crisp fresh air. To say I felt more alive than I have since March isn’t dramatics. It’s the truth.

2. The right gear is essential for cold-weather running, because freezing is never any fun. I left the house wearing my thick, lined running pants, a long-sleeve shirt and jacket, and a headband to cover and protect my ears from the wind.

3. Going slowly, though not walking, there is no hurry and no pressure. As I amp up the winter running, I’m sure I’ll hop back over to the Galloway method, but my favorite way to run is at an easy pace, for as long as I like. Today’s four miles felt right; authentic, focused, strong.

3. Wearing ear pods is controversial. Galloway doesn’t allow it. People say it is dangerous. But the beauty of having music in your ears is that you not only hear, but feel. Choosing the iPod shuffle-option is like an extra step toward total surrender. The last song as I rounded home was James Blunt’s, Best Laid Plans. The man is a poet, and his words made my heart grow wider.

4. A familiar loop doesn’t hurt when you’re busy following your nose. There’s no chance in getting lost and you’re close enough to home if you need to call it quits (earlier than anticipated).

5. A good run always prompts thoughts of the next race. Maybe it’s the endorphins at work, but I’m thinking that the timing is right to train for March’s Tobacco Road Marathon (or at least the half).

A happy run is the foundation for my happy life.

What’s your formula for a happy run?


P.S. I questioned whether to publish this ‘happy post” as it’s a disappointing time for many running friends unable to race New York; monumentally more difficult for the people trying to recover from Sandy’s destruction. New York and it’s people have lived in my heart since I left almost twelve years ago. I wish I was closer to physically help …

Mad, Mood, Cake

I needed to run so badly this morning that had I not gone I would have ended up in the Whole Foods parking lot bingeing on a dozen of their mini cupcakes while crying and blowing my nose on brown paper napkins. Mad can do this to me.

My mad always makes me run faster and so I wore my Garmin to monitor my pace.

My index finger scrolled the iPhone past Britney and Colbie, landing on Eminem. His aggression mixed with my mood made for even faster running and release of negative energies.

Sweating out the mad made room for the glad.

The glad and the happy started to flow as fresh blood was pushed through my heart. It was released through a toothy smile, flying hands and some serious public rear end shaking.

4.73 miles later and I almost felt totally better.

I went to my afternoon meet up with the pre-school moms I love. Sitting on a sunny playground and sharing our lives with honesty and compassion made my hurt feelings dissipate. Shared experiences will do that.

Though the cause of my mad is currently working in his office around the corner from the dining room, unaware that he still must be careful with his words or I might just bite him, my frown has actually been turned upside down.

I still might bite that big meanie if he can’t grab hold of that wicked tongue fighting from inside his mouth, but thus far I have not done any biting of husbands or real cake.

In my estimation that’s a pretty successful day.

Wouldn’t you say?

Cake Cake Cake Cake Cake Cake
Cake with three layers and pink frosting. If this was in the house it wouldn’t have a chance.
Chocolate Volcano Cake
Chocolate Volcano Cake. When I lived In NYC I used to order nachos and choclate volcano cake for dinner from the Mexican Place on East 28th and 3rd .They’d deliver and I’d sit on my bed having food conniptions!
pretty pretty cupcake.
Almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

Stubborn Gene Necessary For Marathon Running

Yesterday I ran 11.86 miles. I know this thanks to the new Garmin. I don’t know how I ran without one before. It was much more relaxing to not have to worry about tracking my mileage and pace time in my head. Math after five or six miles is really hard!

My itouch was in dire need of new music, so I downloaded some Eminem. I’m sure it seems funny that I’m singing Miranda Lambert’s praises one day, and downloading Eminem the next, but I like all kinds of music. I like anything that speaks to my soul.

If you can get past the shock factor, Eminem is pure poetry. His writing reminds me how it felt to be young, and wild and free. Now that I’m 40 (is that considered middle age?) hearing all that cussing and aggression mixed with pain and love, fun and danger, reminds me of the girl I used to be; the stubborn teenage me who knew it all and liked a challenge. That stubborn streak is still a part of me; I learned this year that it’s genetic. Clearly I still like a challenge or I wouldn’t be training for Tobacco Road. I realize more and more, though, that I’ll never know everything. I have a different perspective. Aging will do that.

My first nine miles couldn’t have been better. I left the house excited for my long run, and excited for the race that is now fourteen weeks away.

By the time the Garmin said 9.2, I realized why they say that thing they say; when you run a marathon, you should relax and enjoy the first ten miles. I now understand. It’s because the next 16.2 are going to be horrendous and painful and you/I will wonder why the heck are we doing this? Mile 10 was when things got tough.

To keep my mind occupied, I took off my earphones, listened to my breathing, and started to name my hills.

Swan Lake Hill was hit earlier and I ran it pretty well, so it got to keep the name that I gave it months ago. Sawmill toward Lead Mine, which is actually quite beautiful (but also a monster), became F F F Hill. There was meaning to the F’s, but I was too tired to sound them out, so I just repeated the letter until I made it to the top. Forum Drive, which is the road that passes my orthopedist, became Annoying Forum, because it rolls steeply up and down for a  good 3/4 of a mile. The hill at the end of Harbor, which is a breeze to go down, became I’m Almost Home Hill as I climbed it the other direction, with a mile left to go. Ashley Hill (named for my friend Ash, who helped me see I could run long distances thanks to her husband’s Garmin and her sparkling conversation), was run slowly, but with affection.

When I finally got home, I huffed and puffed my way up to the playroom. My mom was here and I heard the girls playing. While I was gone, Brian coughed (or something) and his back went out. He was laid out on the floor and Sophie had to get him the phone. I don’t happen to run with my phone (like I need another thing to carry), but had just been thinking it’s probably a good idea (I do run with an i.d.). Apparently, Brian called my mom who rushed over to help the poor guy out.

I spent the rest of the day on nursemaid’s duty, taking him food and microwaving the heat pad. This morning I woke to his cries for help. I was sleeping in the girls room when we heard him yell. The three of us immediately rushed in and found him lying on the floor. He had gotten out of bed to get his laptop, but the pain in his back made it impossible to get back up. I put my arms under his and used all my strength to pull up his 200 pound body. I could barely get his chest up onto the mattress, but once he was stable, I lifted his legs and covered them in blankets. I have a feeling there’s a hospital visit in my near future. There isn’t anything worse than back pain, though I imagine running 26.2 might be close.

My head keeps telling me that all this marathon training is going to pay off and everything will be great. My heart tells me I can do anything I set my mind to. My legs are protesting the mileage I’m putting on them, and my husband laid out in bed makes me question the lengths to which my own body can be pushed.

My stubborn streak is going to pull me through. Instead of being the thing that makes me, “difficult,” it’ll be the quality that makes a marathoner.