Posted in Running

Planning for 2012

Are you a planner? Or are you a more spontaneous soul?

If you’re a runner, chances are you’re some sort of planner.

You may not have started out as a planner. You may have just gone out for a run whenever the mood hit you. You probably ran without a goal, running for as long as you felt like it, as fast as you felt like going. And you may have only run sporadically, fulfilling your need for cardio with other activities.

But once you enter your first race – however you were motivated to do so – a change begins to occur. For some, it’s a quick process. For others, the process takes more time. As a result of that first race, you start paying attention to things like running shoes, running gear. You start looking for running advice, like how to drink water without stopping or spilling the contents of that little paper cup all over yourself. And you start to wonder if you could have turned in a better time if you had trained properly. So you start thinking about your next race.

Your next race means a training program. A training program means planning – planning your runs, arranging your schedule to accommodate those runs, figuring out a plan B for missed workouts, planning your race day.

Eventually, you go beyond planning for one race at a time. Suddenly, you’re planning a year’s worth of races at the same time you’re figuring out your resolutions for the new year. You’ve become a planner thanks to running.

My race calendar has fluctuated over the years, going from a race here and there to a few years of a race every month and back down to a handful of regular local races with room to fill in other races depending on my schedule and fitness level.

Here’s my plan for 2012 so far:

  • Nike Women’s Virtual Half Marathon (January)
  • Together with Love 10k (February)
  • Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (April)
  • PAL Artichoke Festival 5k (May) – might finally do the 10k this year
  • Stevenson Run in the Forest 10k (September) – best post-race breakfast ever
  • San Jose Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon (October) – already registered
  • Nike Women’s Marathon (October) – only if I’m one of the lucky lottery selections
  • Big Sur International Half Marathon (November) – race registration opens 1 April

This leaves the summer months (June, July, and August) open and gives me flexibility. I’ve found that I enjoy having race-free months because there’s less pressure to run and I can run for running’s sake. Those months are when I rediscover why I really run.

What does your 2012 race calendar look like? Whether it’s packed full or wide open, always remember the joy you find in running, the feeling of accomplishment you had when you crossed your first finish line, and the camaraderie of your fellow runners.

Wishing you a 2012 devoid of injuries and full of PRs…

Happy running!

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Posted in Etiquette, Opinions and Thoughts

A Kinder, Gentler Twitter

Do you use Twitter? Do you actively tweet? Or do you lurk? When you tweet, what do you tweet?

Do you tweet only to promote yourself, your business, or your blog? Do you tweet every little detail of your day? Do you tweet every random thought that comes to your mind? Do you tweet your workouts via DailyMile or Nike+ or some other fitness website or app? Do you auto-tweet when you’ve liked something, pinned something, poked someone, dug something, or klouted something?

I’m a pretty eclectic tweeter, I think. My tweets include complaints about companies and people, quotes, jokes, business articles, fitness articles, some (not all!) foursquare check-ins, and random thoughts. I’ve not made a concerted effort to have a cohesive Twitter voice just like I don’t obsess about how many followers I have or how many tweets I’ve made.

These past few weeks, it felt like a lot of my tweets were angry tweets. I didn’t like that feeling because I love this time of year and it felt like my tweets weren’t honoring my true feelings for this season. It felt like I was always complaining about a work project or something else that was upsetting or annoying me.

I have gone back through my December tweets thus far and discovered that I wasn’t as whiny or complaining as I thought I was. Thank goodness.

Have you ever thought about what your tweets say about you? About how your tweets sound to your followers? About how your tweets sound to someone who sees your tweet via one of your followers or if it’s retweeted?

Twitter has made it easy – and relatively anonymous – to complain about a company, product, or person. It’s so easy to type out 140 characters and hit “send” or “tweet” that often we put our thoughts out there without thinking it through completely. Without stopping to think about the consequences of that tweet – for yourself or the person or company you’ve tweeted about. Without pausing for a moment to consider your own mental and emotional state.

Of course, all this applies to Facebook status updates, too.

So the next time you’re about to tweet or update your Facebook status, pause for a moment before hitting “send” or tweet,” read your tweet or status update, and think about what it says about you. I certainly will try to be more conscious of my tweets in the future.

And the thought processor churns on . . .

Posted in Opinions and Thoughts, Travel

Life Is a Grand Adventure

Hot Air Balloons in China
Up, up, and away!

I watched Up for the first time recently. I enjoyed it so much that I watched it a second time before returning the DVD to Netflix. It’s about a boy who dreamed of grand adventure and met the love of his life who also dreamed of adventure and exploration. They got married and grew old together without ever going on their big exploration trip. A series of incidents after his wife’s death fills Carl with determination to fulfill their youthful dream and off he goes to South America to explore.

There are a lot of life lessons embedded in the movie – persistence, the power of dreams, good guys win in the end, unconditional love, heroes with feet of clay – any of which would be a good topic for reflection. The life lesson from Up that struck me the most is that life is a grand adventure. But all too often, we get caught up in planning for our adventure that we forget to actually go on our adventure.

Think about it. Were you one of those people who created a bucket list when the movie of the same name came out? If so, where is your bucket list now? How many items on that list have you checked off? How many more items have you come up with that you didn’t add to the list? How many items on that list are left? And why haven’t you done them yet?

Likely you’re waiting until you retire. Or until the kids graduate from high school. Or college. Or medical school. Or until you finish your degree. Or your graduate degree. Or until you’ve paid off your mortgage. Or until you get your dream job with months of vacation and a huge salary. Or until you meet Mr. or Ms. Right. You plan and plan for your grand adventure so that when the conditions are perfect and the time is right, your grand adventure will go off without a hitch.

Conditions will never be perfect. The time will never be right. Adventures aren’t adventures unless they have snags, hitches, hiccups, and the unexpected.

So stop planning already. Life is the grand adventure. Don’t let life pass you by while you’re planning for it.

And the thought processor churns on . . .

Posted in Opinions and Thoughts, Travel, Writing

‘Tis the Season

As I was running recently, I was thinking about how much I love this time of year. The crispness of the air, the smoky smell wafting from chimneys, the scent of evergreens inside offices and homes, the cookies, the parties, the decorations, the singing, the impression that everyone seems to be kinder – all of these are reasons I enjoy the holiday season. One thing that I really enjoy about this time of year are the Christmas cards.

Most of my friends have never been big letter writers. In the past, I was usually the one who would send regular letters. I always hoped for a response but never expected one. One time, I followed up with a phone call because I hadn’t received a letter from a friend who always responded and that was how I found out that he had died. His mom had been saving all of my letters for months – unopened – because she wasn’t sure how to break the news to me.

These past few years as life has become busier, my letters have devolved into postcards that I send when I’m traveling. It’s easy to jot a few lines on a postcard and pop it in the mail, right? Not always! Some trips, I’ve spent hours looking for postcards and post offices. When I went to Bali, I didn’t find postcards until my last day on the island so most friends didn’t even know I was in Bali until they saw pictures on Facebook. But I enjoy looking for postcards and finding just the right ones for certain friends.

I always hope for a return letter or postcard but I don’t expect one. But every Christmas, I look forward to amassing a stack of Christmas cards. Even if the card only has a signature and no personal note, it brings that friend to mind and I like that. The joy that I get when I receive real mail (as opposed to junk mail, bills, or bank statements!) has not diminished over the years.

Those Christmas newsletters that people rant about? I love them! In a couple of pages I can get updated on the happenings of my friends’ and their families’ lives. And I can do it on my own time, curled up in front of a roaring fire with a cup of cocoa at hand.

This year, I’ve gotten a couple of e-cards. And let me tell you, they don’t warm the cockles of my heart the same way a card in the mail does. They seem impersonal and thoughtless to me, more for the sender’s convenience than for the recipient’s pleasure.

But isn’t that what this season is all about? Thinking about others and doing kind things for them? So if you’re thinking of me this season, send me a real Christmas card via snail mail. I will appreciate it more than you know.

And the thought processor churns on . . .

Posted in Opinions and Thoughts

Power Lies in Possibility

The end of the year is often a time of reflection. A time to think about things you’ve accomplished during the year, milestones you’ve reached, crossroads you’ve come to, and directions you’ve chosen. A time to think about the goals you didn’t achieve, the choices you didn’t make, and the milestones you missed by a little or a lot.

While it’s a good time to reflect, it’s important to think about moving forward, about looking ahead. It’s a good time to think about lessons learned from the past but also a good time to begin planning for the future.

So after you reflect on the year that is just ending, spend some time setting goals for next year, making plans for the months ahead, and thinking about the tomorrows to come.

After all, the power is in the possibilities.

And the thought processor churns on . . .

Posted in Opinions and Thoughts, Running

Inspiration Is . . .

There is glory in winning a race, in being the first across the finish line.

There is glory in placing in your age group.

There is glory in racing and logging a PR.

But the inspiration is the last run/walker moving determinedly in front of the sweep vehicle, desperately trying to go fast enough not to be picked up and driven to the finish.

The inspiration is in watching those runners who put one foot in front of another, knowing that there are no prizes at the finish line for them but who know that the prize is self-satisfaction of finishing what one started.

The inspiration is in those runners who will still be out on the course, hours after the winners have streaked across the finish line, but who are determined to finish no matter how long it takes.

Happy running!

Posted in Race Reports, Running

Race Report – 2011 Big Sur Half Marathon

The 9th presentation of the Big Sur Half Marathon took place on Sunday, 20 October 2011. It was my 9th time running the Big Sur Half Marathon.

The weather was a bit of concern for people commenting on the Big Sur Marathon’s Facebook page but I was looking forward to rain as long as it wasn’t a huge downpour. As it turned out, the storm passed through overnight and we were left with some residual clouds and the occasional shower.

I left my car at about 0640 to head to the start line because the race day instructions said to be in our corrals by 0645. The corrals seemed to be half full and that made sense when they announced that the start time would be 0705 – instead of 0700 as the race day instructions had said – and that the corrals would go off in waves 3 minutes apart.

The opening festivities were okay. One of the speakers told the runners that we needed to hurt as badly as we’ve ever hurt during the race and that would give us an idea of how our military members felt when they were overseas protecting the United States. I thought it was a silly thing to say because race pain is quite different from the pain of being shot or having limbs blown off by IEDs. That aside, I always get choked up by the National Anthem unless the rendition is particularly horrible, which it wasn’t. I suppose it doesn’t surprise me that there are a lot of people – both men and women – who don’t take their hats off for the singing of the National Anthem. It bothers me but it doesn’t surprise me.

In theory, the wave start made some sense to prevent the congestion in the early miles. In practice, the wave start needs some work. When the gun went off, the volunteers in our corral immediately took down the barrier in front of us and so, of course, we all moved up to the corral in front of us. When my corral reached the start line, we stopped because we knew that our wave hadn’t been called. But the announcer told us to get moving so we started running. We had barely taken 10 steps when the announcer greeted our corral. Disorganized.

The main thing that I didn’t like about the wave start is that I missed seeing the elite runners on their way to the finish line. But I did enjoy having people with me throughout the race, especially at the end.

The race unveiled new mile markers for the race and they were amusing. I missed a couple of the mile markers but saw the majority of them. It certainly gave me something to look at – besides the gorgeous scenery – and to look forward to during the run. I like them much better than the old cello mile markers that the race has used in the past.

The bands that came out to play were really good sports to be out there despite the threat of rain. There seemed to be a lot more spectators cheering us along. The drum band just after the Aquarium is always upbeat and comes at a great time – just after a little hill on the way out and just before the same hill on the way back – but I think they were missing a member or two. The taiko drummers right before the turnaround were not present and that’s too bad. I love the sound of drums when I’m running. I definitely appreciate all of the bands that stayed out there for us slower runners and all of the volunteers who manned the aid stations for us slower runners.

My last couple of miles were run in a light rain. I heard runners around me cursing the rain but my mom has always told me that rain is God’s blessing so I have a very positive view of rain. I really think that the weather was perfect for the half-marathon.

2011 Big Sur Half Marathon Finishers Medal

All of the volunteers on the course were great – big smiles and lots of encouragement. The Team-in-Training coaches who were on the course were very different from the ones at the Nike Women’s Marathon because they offered encouragement to everyone, not just the Team-in-Training participants.

This year, the food tent was very organized because instead of having food that we had to put into boxes, the volunteers had already packed up goodie bags that contained fruit, a cookie, and a juice. Bagel halves were handed out at the rear of the tent. I will say that I missed having bottles of water to pick up because the cups of water are cumbersome to carry through the crowds.

I tried to get a cup of soup because I thought a cup of hot soup would perfectly counteract the coldness from the rain shower but the soup line was long and there was only one soup tent. So I chose not to get soup or beer and instead headed off to the parking garage to make my way home to a well-deserved warm shower and rest.

I look forward to this race every year. I hope that next year the race director will have something special planned for those of us who have run in all ten presentations!

Happy running!