Friday, October 29, 2010

East Coast Will Go West Coast

A large Starbucks decaf Americano...Yes to many peoples surprise I do enjoy their coffee, although refuse to use the official lingo such as tall, venti and grande, but I am digressing.  This simple beverage after my 5:00 AM run helps me transition from play to work and on this day not only awoke my senses, but also my mind.  

What does it mean to commit to something?  Is commitment seen as a virtue anymore?  Is commitment something to be feared or something that illustrates ones strength and courage?  

The Way I See It #76
The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.    
– Anne Morriss Starbucks customer
Commitment ignites action and means not only doing things when you feel like it.  It is a willful choice and acceptance that it will not be easy all the time.  It requires persistence with a purpose.  There is no justifying excuses and you do it because you have chosen the endevor.  I have started to recongnize that for me it has become too easy to walk away from a challenge and it has even become a habit.  The critic inside me says hesitate, be "rational" and remain comfortable or what I call survival mode.  Taking a risk often requires calculation on my part; thinking, rethinking and running over possible scenerios.  I find that once I make an initial commitment and believe in myself things become easier.  Of course I do recognize that there are fluctuations in desire to stick with a choice, but I tell myself that this is human nature.  I hope that the for me the results of making a solid commitment that extends well beyond my comfort zone will be invigorating and empowering because I took a risk, stuck with my choice and saw it through.  

So here is my public commitment, I am going to do something that isn't easy for me (realistically public or not I know that when I commit, I do so in every regard).    I am going to make the commit to training for Western States this coming year.  There is a lot of fear and uncertainty that goes along with this choice, although I am comitting to try. I am commiting to seeing this journey through in a healthy way so to maintain balance within me and my life.  It has become too easy for me to shy away from things when they are beyond my comfort zone, but it is time to venture out from the box that I live in. Who knows what awaits me, but I commit to finding out.  

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Idea of Perfection is Imperphect

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. ~Harriet Braiker

Perfection is one thing that I strive for but never have obtained. The question that arises from this pursuit is what is the driving force that pushes me to think that I need to make everything perfect? Is it merely a game since I would argue that perfection is not obtainable for humans? With such standards I will always find fault in my doings. This leads me to believe there is no positive movement or conclusion to my game of perfection because it is a never ending cycle. Maybe I am lost in this cycle and actually losing ground, as my concentration is on unobtainable objectives rather than reality.

A good garden may have some weeds. ~Thomas Fuller

I now find myself backtracking and asking who or what in life is perfect? To me the highest level of concrete perfection comes from nature. I don’t feel like anything man made is perfection, although do ponder on whether man is a form of perfection since we were created by God.  I see abstract concepts as black and white; right/wrong, good/bad, pure/impure, war/peace, chaos/order and the list goes on and on. This leads me to my next thought of who created these concepts, God or man? Ok now it seems to be getting complicated, although many lessons already learned. Maybe if I join my black and white thinking then maybe I will make more progress rather than being on one side or the other. For example, what if I could accept that I have failed at something, but recognize that I was also successful because I took a risk?  This reminds me that balance is key, along with accepting that I am designed to make mistakes. Being wrapped up in trying to make everything perfect is tiresome, daunting and never ending. David M Burns said, “Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.”

How do you measure/evaluate yourself and does it entail perfection?  For now I am going to try to enjoy the journey, "chill the fluck out" and try not to get so wrapped up in black and white thinking.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Tis the Season"

Cross training- A way for me to improve my overall performance/experience or simply a way to spend money and get hurt?

Running seems to be what my mind wants me to do. I am like a hamster on an exercise wheel.

Run, Run, Run….
Run, Race, Run…
Race, Run, Race…

Running is what I am most comfortable with, it requires little equipment and I can get a good workout in even with little play time. Of course there is a downfall to the strategy of run, run, run. As we all know running engages a specific group of muscles and when I just run these muscles are continually called on. Yes as a runner I may become more efficient, but at the same time muscle imbalances occur along with overuse injuries (I think I keep Green Mtn Rehab in business during my race season). Also I know that during the running season I neglect my upper body and core whereas they, like my legs, are key components to my running performance.

Cross training can help solve all my problems! Ok not all of them, but I do believe it can certainly help. I have an extremely nice mountain bike, a cross bike, a gym membership (during what I deem the cold months), skis (backcountry, telemark, skate and classic) so what is my excuse for not using this stuff on a consistent basis?

Yesterday I struck out on my mountain bike, which called for biking shorts, jersey, knee warmers, arm warmers, gloves, helmet, sunglasses, shoes, multi tool, water bottle and bike. Geo and I rode a few miles to where we were meeting our friends to ride single track, beautiful colors in the woods, great single track (thanks to Fellowship of the Wheel) and nice conversation. I was actually riding well and setting the pace.  I felt confident, maybe too confident. We started downhill and came to a technical section and once I hit it I knew I had too much speed and too much front brake. I ended up riding my front wheel and only my front wheel as I headed for a tree.

I cleared the handle bars, hitting the ground and tree head first with the rest of my body and bike following behind. The boys were way impressed with my feat, I guess in terms of falls it was a solid one. Now with a headache, dizziness and pain when I tried to breath I decided the day of cross training was to be cut short.

Cross training and the benefits I see/imagine…

Tighten Up – Use different muscle and become strong like bull.
Reduce Impact of Old Age – Reduce the physical impact on my body.
Master the Mind – Partaking in things that don’t come as naturally and comfortably.
Kick It Up a Notch – Variety (a word that isn’t really in my vocabulary)
Loosen Up – Improve flexibility

Cross training and the downfalls I see/imagine…

Injury – Moving at high speeds on a bike makes for harder falls, ski poles with sharp tips can impale me, etc.
Equipment – Bikes break, skis need to be waxed whereas my running shoes may just come untied.
Time – Cross training seems to take up more time and much more planning, heck I even hurt myself at Boot Camp last winter.

So am I cool or a fool for cross training?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dog Haiku - Timber

"Howling through the woods…
Crossing rivers on a hunt…
A dog dreams of wild!"

Once the summer temperatures dissipate my four legged running companion Timber joins me on a regular basis. The fall is what I consider my off season and the time when Timber starts training for backcountry ski season.  As soon as I pull out my running clothes or running shoes he is circling and whining, while also throwing in a downward dog. The excitement further increases when his orange scarf and bell are pulled from the coat rack.  The scarf is intended to keep Timber from being hunted and the bell to give wildlife a fair warning so not be hunted by Timber.

I have heard people say "he is just a dog" and yes that is true, but he is a smart dog.  So smart in fact that he is selective about what he is smart about.  Timber has found me before when I was lost in the woods at nightfall and numerous occasions he has helped me find the trail when I lost my way.  On the other hand he will not sit, shake, lie down or stay unless he wants something.

For some reason when Timber and I run together there comes an understanding. We both seem to thrive in woods in a similar way. I watch him leap and bound, change speeds and enjoy what is around him. At times he leads and sets the pace, while at other times he runs off my back heel. It brings me ease and peace and we both head home with a mutual understanding where nothing needs to be said, it is just understood.

Dog Haiku-Lily to follow at later date.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Where I am From

I am from Vermont and peaceful woods with no name; from a small town between the hustle and bustle where neighbors are cows. From the tiny farm house with a green tin roof, rooms filled with open air along with light and darkness.

I am from carbs, blackberry jam and home-made granola; from a colorful salad bowl to temph and tofu. From water and Starbucks to whole wheat veggie pizza cooked on the grill. 

I am from wagging tails, cold noses, family dinners and breakfast at the windows; from I love you, I promise, to I love you more.

I am from living in the present times of my life, to the anxious worries of my future; from dark days to moments full of laughter and inspirations to be me.

I am from flip flops, trail shoes and running clothes; from an outdoor wardrobe that would astonish the astonished.

I am from short strolls to long endeavors; from laundry, clothes pins, adventure and repeat.

I am from a place that no matter how hard one tries they can never take it away from me.