Plants First, Fish Next

The original intent of this journal was to chronicle the trials and tribulations of the struggling twenty-something, as I searched for love and happiness in the small city-burb of ManchVegas, NH. Now, I'm thirty-something, I've found love in many forms, happiness in even more, and now the struggle is just... well... life. And finding time to do the million and one things I want to do- including writing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

5K Training - Running in the Rain

I'm training for my first 5K race scheduled for Thanksgiving morning. This is my first "training" run - previously I had been running just to run, or to warm up for hockey. For my first "training," I had planned to run two miles last night. Then, well, maybe 1.5. I barely made it 1.

It was POURING yesterday. I wanted to have the experience of running in adverse conditions. Of course I have no "gear" for running in the rain - just a gortex rain jacket (thanks, Smarty Pants!) and, well, clothes. My Runner has all this stuff - spandex underarmor, arm bands, tech shirt... I have yoga pants and a long-sleeved tee from Old Navy.

All day I had been ready to run. I was psyched about signing up for the 5K with Pocket Size, and she and I had made a schedule to run together before the race. I'm working on a training schedule - there's a lot of "couch to 5K" type programs that are easy to adapt. All my planning is based on the thought that I could go at least 1.5 miles on this run.

Even when the day turned as dark as night and the rain was coming down in sheets, I was ready to go. I was excited to get wet. It felt hardcore to run in the rain. Like, maybe now that I'm a jock, I can *also* be a runner. My Runner asked me, "You sure you want to run?" about eight times while we were getting ready. YES. I want to run.

We drive to the park where we usually run, but it's so dark the thought of running through the woods is kinda scary. Even though it's wetter, we decide to use the track. This was bad choice number two (bad choice number one happened earlier, but I didn't know it yet). There are three guys working on speed - THEY are hardcore. I am an amateur. But I'm ready to run. I'm excited to be here. We start running as we approach the track. About 50 yards in, it hits me: I don't wanna run.

My body is more than complaining, it's fighting me. Every muscle that I use to run is bitching that it has the day off. It starts cajoling me - just walk, it says. We don't mind moving, but not running, please, anything but that!!

I slow my pace, but I keep going. My Runner has upped the positive energy to help me through it. "How do you feel?" he asks a few times. "Fine." (Subtext - I don't want to think about how I'm feeling, I just want to finish and get it over with.) The rain isn't bothering me. The cold is there, but not with a mission, not with a vengeance. I just don't want to be running.

I know 1.5 won't happen. But I can't run less than a mile. I won't walk - I know this is something my body CAN do, and I know I'm not going to hurt myself running a mile. Besides, I'm here, I'm wet, and I've dragged another person with me. I tell myself these things over and over. I think about Sherpa and the fact that he did this for THIRTY SIX HOURS and I'll be done in less than 15 minutes.

Why is my body rebelling? I played hockey on Monday, ran a mile before that on the track with no problem. I didn't even drink the night before. I ate lunch at.... oh. There it is. The last thing I ate was a banana at 2:30pm, more than 3 hours ago. Mistake number one has reared it's ugly head.

I can't not eat. Well, I can, but it turns me into Mr. Hyde. My blood sugar levels completely affect me emotionally and physically. I've made this mistake before - most recently at a hockey practice where I became dizzy and sick after playing a hard 15 -20 minutes of 3 on 3. Now I carry the granola bars Mop bought me that night in my hockey bag - half of one will stave off any issues without filling me so much I don't want to move around. Tonight I have learned that lesson again.

We complete the mile. I have a little pang in my side and a pit in my stomach a mile wide. Smells from The Puritan Restaurant are driving me wild. When we get back in the car, my brain shuts off and I'm floating through the world. I need to get food now.

Home's not too far, food's heating up less than 10 minutes after leaving the park. I wolf down the fabulous smoked beef and local veggies My Runner cooked up and brought over, washing it down with a Gold Lager from Soudt's, I make my third mistake: food overkill. I stressed my body by exercising with no fuel, and it was not interested in the high octane it was getting. I kept eating, knowing that I needed it, but I was not feeling good, and it was all I could do to keep my brain on the conversation My Runner and I were having. Even then, I'm not sure I was all that successful.

So - lessons learned: 1. Set appropriate goals. 2. EAT, fool! 3. If you break a rule, don't overdue the fix.

Next training run: Friday. Plan: 1 mi, + up to .5 if I'm feeling it. Goal: distance.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Runner

It's possible that I loved crewing because I was spending time with someone that I'm completely head-over-heels for.

After 6 weeks, spending 36 hours straight in a truck together is a make-or-break situation. Luckily for me, it fell on the "make" side. It was awesome to spend that time with him. We worked well together as a crew, but we also had fun together. He's turned me on to the Free Beer and Hot Wings morning show - not my typical NPR fare, but mostly hilarious. We sat on the back of the truck and read books together. An aid station at the Antrim Rest Stop on Rt. 4 provided beautiful maples under which to play frisbee or lay on the grass and canoodle. Even when one of us was tired or cold or otherwise uncomfortable, it was helpful to have the other there.

It's scary and exhilarating to like someone like this again. And I think I'm doing things right this time. He's open and honest, and it makes me want to be completely open and honest with him. I think cutting through the bull (not that I ever gave much, but still) is opening up lines of communication I had forgotten could be there.

And not to kiss and tell, but man are things clicking in bed. It just.... I don't even know how or why but... maybe it's that whole honestly thing. Maybe I just trust him. Maybe it's chemical. "Some people... just smell like... home." yeah.

So, yeah, we started dating shortly after The Boy (wow… who knew how apt THAT descriptor would prove to be) and I broke up. And actually not long after My Runner broke up with his ex. But, it felt right, even from the start. And you know what? It still feels... really right.

The origin story, for those of you who are not daily in my life, will eventually be told in small or large detail.

Oh, and if you want to read about the RANH (and see some pictures) from the perspective of the guy who actually RAN it:
RANH Part 1
RANH Part 2
RANH Part 3
RANH Part 4

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Monday, October 19, 2009

What do you need?

This is a question I asked about 8 million times this weekend. "What do you need? Fluids? Banana? Chips? Clothes?"

This weekend I was crewing for Sherpa and other various runners for his Run Across NH (RANH). Actually, this weekend My Runner and I crewed together. Any Ultra Runner (crazies who run for really long distances - like, longer than marathons. Did you know they had races longer than marathons?) will tell you that CREW stands for "Cranky Runner. Endless Waiting." They're not terribly far off. As Crew you essentially are waiting at pre-arranged points for your runner(s) to get in, you get them what they need, pack up, and move to the next point. You then wait for a few hours until the runners show up again, rinse, lather, repeat. And you know what? I kinda love it.

This is the second time I've crewed - the first being for My Runner at the VT50 a few weeks ago. That felt harder - I wasn't sure if I was doing things right, I'd never even done it before... but according to him I did great. Yay! This time I had My Runner to help, and his years of personal experience Ultra Running really helped me understand what a runner needs and when.

Why did I love it so much? All I hear is that it's a thankless job, crewing is hard, it sucks, etc. But I have to disagree on at least two of those points. Runners *constantly* thanked us. And perking up a runner who's tired or hurting is a great feeling - you just helped! This guy's already run farther than you've ever walked in one stretch and YOU helped him do it! That's not small.

Some things do suck about crewing. If it's cold, or rainy, or both, yeah, that sucks. But as crew you're just standing around in it, or better yet sitting in the car waiting. The runners are OUT in it. Thinking about it that way makes it really hard to complain about the weather. Crewing in a group is also WAY BETTER than crewing alone. You always have someone to talk to, plan out the next stop, etc. I met a lot of people at VT50 crewing alone, but I got to know some great people crewing in a group for the RANH.

It's really not that different from some of the work I do in the theatre. Actually, running an aid station was a lot like working costume changes for Beard of Avon (where actors play multiple characters dressed in Elizabethan costume, some playing both men and women). There's a certain amount of pre-planning crew needs to do to get things ready, then there's a rush of activity when the runners come off the road/actors come off the stage. It's all about them, their needs, and they are trusting you to take care of them. Then, they're off again, leaving you to pick up, pack up, and get ready for the next round.

I like the adrenaline rush of the moment, the planning and re-planning and going over the plan. I know I like crewing because I like helping people, but I think I love that element of trust. It's really teamwork, in a very pure form. In everyday life people don't place themselves in your hands like that. It brings us closer as humans, reminding us why we're on this planet together.

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Monday, October 05, 2009

Trapeze, part duex

Went to my second trapeze class this Sunday and it was just as awesome as the first. Unfortunately Pocket Sized and G. couldn't make this one, which was a bummer. My other classmates were pretty great, though. There was a dad with his two kids, all of whom were outgoing and friendly. The kids gave me hugs at the end of class and told me I did a great job. How awesome is that? The other classmate was a woman who had been taking circus classes for about ten years. She's an actuary in real life, so I'm sure the fun and thrill of trapeze and silks is a big draw. She was working on a twist trick that looked like a lot of fun, and made me even more determined to keep up with it.

I only learned one new trick this time - the Slip Split. Ultimately you end up with one leg against the bar and the other leg hanging forward in a "split" (which was not very split-y with my inflexibility). You then launch yourself off the bar to be caught.

Launch is definitely the appropriate word. After practicing the trick a few times and only mostly getting it right it was time to work on catching. EVERYONE told me not to go too early - wait for the catcher's "hup." EVERYONE. The catcher, the spotter, the launcher, all of them. And I was determined to listen - don't let go too- whoops. I let go too early. I'm sure the catcher was anticipating it, though, and while it was messy, we landed the catch. The next and final time we did the catch I waited for the "hup" and the timing was pretty perfect. All in all, I'm happy about my progress and can't wait for the next class.

Posted some pictures and my mom reminded me of a piece of my childhood - we had a swing set in the back yard in NJ (over a concrete slab - I credit the nightly glass of milk for my miraculous lack of broken bones) that included two swings, a "tire" swing, and a little trapeze bar with some ring handles. I spent 95% of my outdoor time on that swing set, and the trapeze bar was a favorite. I *loved* hanging upside-down, swinging, flipping on the rings. Later my dad added gym rings (no bar in between), and I (ever wanting faster, higher, spinnier) added a little jogging trampoline. ::bounce, flip, bounce, flip:: repeat ad nauseum.

I think I like the sense of being out of control but in control. Sending the world topsy-turvey, feeling the air rush around my face and body, the joy of motion whipping around me like my mane of hair....

I'm so happy to have found a place in my adult life where I can regain some of that. And I like the added challenge of learning tricks. As happy as I am to be sailing through the air, the adult in me likes to justify it with learning. The challenge of 1) getting all the steps right and 2) making it look good feels so familiar - like theatre. Well, it *is* theatre in a way. Especially since my classes take place in the lobby of a rather large shopping center. You know, I think the audience is part of the fun, but that's just me. :-)

I have one more class that I've paid for, and then I think I'll be looking to take a 10 or 12 week class. That's a pretty big commitment both financially and time-wise. Classes are 2 hours each, and the location is 45 minutes (on a good day) away. I think the sacrifice will be well worth it.

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