Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Arts and crafts for runners

Boyfriend has been bugging me, probably since THIS post, about putting my medals somewhere they can be better displayed instead of on a giant hook next to my desk. I really like them there because I can look at them as I write, but he has a point, and for a while I have been just waiting for some genius idea to smack me in the face. And then it did.

Ok so I had some inspiration from Danica when she posted about her new room - but I had a little something bigger in mind. When I moved into my apartment after college, I had this screen print project I was in love with (although yes it is a little disturbing - but it was one of my favorite projects). It is a series of images of a young girl hugging her knees, printed on flattened fast food containers. From left to right the girl gets thinner and thinner as the ink gets lighter and lighter finally disappearing into nothing. It said a lot about my relationship with food at the time (something I have long grown out of) and the expectations of society especially in my field of fashion. But I digress. The awesome thing about this was the frame I had custom ordered to fit it all in. It is ridiculously long and skinny which is perfect to showcase all my medals in!

My original artwork in the custom made frame (yes some of the pieces should be straight but some started falling down)

So on Saturday afternoon, after my long run and after cleaning my apartment I decided I had some time I might as well tackle this project before it got away from me. I did this knowing that once I sealed everything up in the frame, the likely hood that I would take it apart to add more medals was zero. In another few years I guess I'll just have to start another frame.

There was no real plan. I opened up my box of race stuff and scattered my bibs all over until they looked good. The funny thing about my race bibs is almost all of them still have the pins on them. I never re-use pins. I can't say this is wasteful because I use so many safety pins every day at work they will probably end up making their way to the office one of these days. But I had to sit there tediously removing all the safety pins from every single bib! I forget how many races I've run in the past few years, from 5ks to 5milers, to 10 milers and beyond.

Medals scattered about

laying everything out - finally getting confident this is going to work!

Finished result!

My favorite part of this project was it really gave me the inspiration and motivation I needed for my last few weeks of training. Taking out my box of runing mementos and looking at all my medals I relived a lot of race moments and remembered all the pride and accomplishment I felt after crossing (almost) every finish line. It was exactly what I needed and now I am totally ready for the next four weeks, race day, and beyond. Bring it on Philly!

xx Sara

Monday, October 25, 2010

Running into trouble

The idea that we are safe one hundred percent of the time is a false sense of security we give ourselves so we don't have to feel vulnerable. In today's world, women are stronger, more capable and more independent than ever, and we don't want to think there is anything that can take us down. Even if we are runners. Even if we want to run alone. And even if our solo runs have to happen at night after dark.

I will be the first to admit I am stubborn, and having been transplanted to Philadelphia from small town Massachusetts for college I got really good at being independent. Almost too good it would seem. I was good at never needing a boy around to take care of me and even after two years of dating Boyfriend I forget that he worries about me so much being alone on the road getting my miles in. If not for him I would not be carrying my phone in a SPI belt that night and for that (and many other reasons) I am so grateful that he watches out for me.

It was a crisp and chilly Tuesday night, Boyfriend and I were out running together which was unusual but in a good way. I love when we get to run together and my training doesn't feel like something that keeps us apart but rather something that keeps us together. But Boyfriend had 3 miles on the calendar (per his wonderful coach - me!) and I had eight so at 1.5 out he turned around to head home and I kept going, ready to get into the meat and potatoes of the workout. Last weeks tempo miles were consistent but too fast, this week I wanted them to be perfect.

Everything about the workout was going perfect. I was dressed just warm enough to be comfortable but not too much to be hot. My pace felt right on, and after every quarter mile I would look down at my watch and see perfect numbers. I was right on pace, and couldn't be happier. And then I heard the voice behind me, "Hey Ma'am".

I looked back to see a man on a bike pedaling towards me. I was more annoyed than surprised, I had encountered this guy on this same trail before, but I had sped up enough and there were enough other people around for him to get distracted and leave me alone. From what I observed he seemed to be a bit mentally slow, and went up to various women asking their names. I guess it was nothing but harmless if he leaves you alone, but when you're running and he gets up close to you, it gets a little scary.

Ten fold when it's dark, and you are alone. I know I shouldn't have been out there alone (anyone want to be my running buddy for the next four weeks). But I was out there alone, and I was having an amazing run until this guy got right up next to me and asked for my name. This is going to sound crazy but my first thought was actually "this guy is going to totally screw up my pace!!" I wasn't answering him, I pretended I was too out of breath to answer his questions, but he wouldn't let up. I told him I couldn't talk right now and he asked if he could follow me. No you cannot follow me, and I slowed down hoping he would just pedal away. But he didn't, so I sped up, I told him to go away, and he said he wasn't following me. I tried to stay calm, I really did, but at this point I didn't know what to do. He wasn't going away, and he stayed so close I was afraid he would run into me.

I was only three miles out, one mile left to go before I turned around but two extra miles wasn't worth dealing with this. I figured if I just turned around he would keep going and I would be fine. So I made a quick switch of direction and headed home. For a second he kept on course and I almost breathed a sigh of relief. Almost. Because then he turned around and got close to me again. All calmness and rationality in my brain left me and at that moment all I could think about doing was yelling. So I yelled "stop it, STOP IT" and at a last minute thought I pulled out my phone desperate to do anything to feel safe. And it worked. He turned around and headed away but the damage was done. I was completely freaked out.

Its funny how in a matter of seconds you can go from feeling invincible to feeling helpless and you can never go back. I know that this guy never did anything to really threaten me, but knowing I had no control over the situation and I didn't know what his next move would be left me shaken. I was comforted by the fact that two others out that night heard me, a runner and a biker, and stopped me to make sure I was ok. And on the way home I saw a cop and stopped to report the whole thing to him. We live in a scary world where you want to believe everything is going to be ok, but at the same time you want to do everything to protect yourself. You don't want to have to be paranoid, but you want to be prepared.

This is a large part of what kept me from running last week. I was just plain not ready to run at night, and was hating that my only other choice was the treadmill. I wish it didn't have to be this way, that we always have to watch our backs and be afraid of the dark. But it is, and we do. Be careful out there, wear light colored clothes at night, reflective gear if you have it. No headphones either and carry your phone with you. Right now I'm looking into carrying pepper spray with me - but I think it scares me just a little to know I may have to use it. Who knows what will happen in the next few weeks as I finish up my training for Philly. Maybe in part I am glad this whole thing happened so I can wise up and watch out for myself. Often times it takes something happening before people will change their stubborn ways. I just hope that by sharing this at least one person reads won't have to wit until something happens to change.

xx Sara

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall off the horse, get right back on and keep riding

Ever notice how there are times in your life when the words flow freely from your finger tips, thinking faster than you can type, wanting to record every second in the perfect words? And then there are times when nothing comes at all. You sit and stare and words float around in your brain but cannot choreograph themselves into anything you think is worth reading. Or suddenly you find yourself consumed by the busyness of life and don't want to waste a single second of living recounting every detail. But then again maybe you don't want to share with others that things are not going well. You already think you have let down the people closest to you, do you really want to tell the rest of the world you skipping almost three workouts in a row?

I guess my life lately has taken me on a combination of the last three. Busy + not knowing what to say + being in a running funk has me left with a big blank spot in my blog for the past two weeks.

I didn't want to write about how I was frustrated with running, or how I felt like it was sucking up all my time. I didn't want to write about my encounter with a crazy guy on a bike on one of my runs. I didn't want to write about how I hate the cold, I hate the dark, and I hate the treadmill. Even though my asthma is about ten times worse in the summer, I love that the daylight lasts so much longer and I look forward to my mid distance week day runs instead of dreading them. I didn't want to write about how I was so consumed my social events, weddings, bachelorette parties, trips to Manhattan that I almost completely skipped my long run last weekend.

But it wasn't long before I realized I was in a funk, and the only way out was to tell Jack about it. Not because I wanted someone to rant to - but because I knew it would make me own up to my slacking and figure out a way to make things worse. I was terrified that Jack would be mad, that I wasn't doing everything I was supposed to, but I wrote the email anyways. And of course my fears were irrational, and he told me not to worry missing a few workouts wouldn't kill me.

My major goal for this marathon is not a time goal. It is not to qualify for anything, it is not even to PR. I want to enjoy my training, and that means sometimes putting my friends or my work first, and putting running on the back burner for a day or two. Although I love to add up the numbers of my mileage and the times of my splits, I want to live that well balanced life in which my friends, my relationship, my work and my running. So I skipped a few workouts last week. But I went to Team Challenge Practice Saturday morning for a nice 8.5 miles, and then another 8.5 miles afterwards brining me to 17 miles total and I was feeling great the whole time. I was even feeling great afterwards as I spend the afternoon dancing around to some excellent old school boy bands while cleaning my apartment.

The Philadelphia Marathon is in exactly four weeks. In fact four weeks from now I will be recovering (hopefully well) on the couch with Boyfriend snuggled under a blanket or maybe even sleeping. I know how much I want to run this race, I know how much I want to run a GOOD race. Four weeks. It's going to take some planning and sometimes some sacrifice but I know I can make it all work out.

Four weeks.

xx Sara

Monday, October 11, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Monthly Mileage - October

In September I was ecstatic to find I had crossed the 100 mile mark for monthly mileage in August. Today I was excited for one of two things. My free 40 hours of Pandora reset. . . AND counting up my monthly mileage for September!

drum roll please . . . . . . 133!

Holy my goodness.

Today I kicked the month off with a nice five mile run at lunch. It almost didn't happen but I am pretty determined to stick to my schedule. It helped that my boss wasn't in today.

xx Sara