Happy New Year!

As we close the book on 2013 and lift the cover of 2014, it blows my mind that we’re at this crossroads once again, looking back at what was while looking forward to what could be. If you think about it, today’s a day just like any other. The moon tucked away and the sun rose, we woke up (albeit a bit later and perhaps a little hungover), and the day’s hours have been ticking along as they always do. And yet, there’s always this strange feeling on the first of January, this grandiose sense of urgency to make a resolution that will ensure the next 364 days will be profoundly better than the last. Buried in well wishes for 2014 to be “the best year ever” is that familiar “new year, new you” tagline that’s recycled each year, and everyone’s running around with a new sense of determination to change something about themselves and their lives. I’m all for goal setting, in fact I’m pretty gung-ho about it, but just as I was reflecting over what was “wrong” with 2013 for me and how I’d change to do 2014 “right”, I wondered if maybe we’re all looking at this new year from the wrong angle.

Last year was by no means story-book perfect for me. It was a roller coaster of a year, but it was through all of the downs that found their way up that I was able to learn, grow and accomplish everything I’d set out to do, and I came out of it the best version of me yet. In looking back, I realized it was in all the moments I stopped trying so hard to be something, to change or be more that what I am, when I let myself be a little flexible to let things happen, letting go of limitations or rules or anything that set my goals within the confines of what it ‘should’ be that I was the happiest and things fell into place. If 2013 taught me anything, it isn’t that I need to resolve to change anything about myself heading into 2014, but that I need to just BE myself. 

It’s easy to see what we don’t like about ourselves that would like to change in the coming year. We’re our own worst critics, after all, aren’t we? The real challenge is in letting yourself just be yourself. Knowing who you are and being brave enough to be it, now that is something to strive for! I can resolve to train smarter and harder to run a 2-hour 1/2 marathon, master a head stand or carve out my own 6-pack abs. I can set out to be more social, vocal and funny, to dress better or style my hair more often. That stuff is easy, and a quick Google search can give you step-by-step instructions to achieve all of that any time of the year. But the one thing I’ve always struggled with is just letting myself be me. It takes a lot of courage to recognize who you are and own it unapologetically. It’s the kind of thing that’s electric when you come across it in someone else.

So, instead of setting goals and resolving to do more, or to change something about me or my life as I head into the new year, I resolve to just BE. You always hear people say the new year will be theirs. Well, 2014 really will be, because that’s exactly what I’ll set out to be: ME.

Running is the pea to my pod so, naturally, I had to kick off day 1 of 365 magical days with a run! All month I’d been anticipating January to slowly ease myself back into running after my issues with my right achilles. Just over a month of babying, cross-training and (sadly) NO running, and the ankle’s doing much better! It’s not healed yet, but it’s good enough to run on just a little. By a little I mean 2-3 miles, TOPS, but hey I’ll take what I can get! I saw snow was in the forecast for today and couldn’t wait to head out for my first real winter-y run. All of my winter running gear has been sitting in my closet pleading to be taken for a spin, and I finally got to do that today. Once I was all layered up, I glanced at myself decked out in New Balance from head-to-toe. You’d think I was sponsored by them or something. And the windbreaker just so happened to color-coordinate with the 910 Goretex Trail Shoes, which is always nice :)

Enough words, let’s let some pictures do the talking for the rest of this post, shall we?

LOVE these shoes, they're awesome!!

LOVE these shoes, they’re awesome!!

Snow angel with my feet

Snow angel with my feet

DSC00234

My running buddy/angel. I never run alone :)

My running buddy/angel. I never run alone :)

Snow flakes gathering on my gloves. I think it's time for a new pair of Canada mitts...

Snow flakes gathering on my gloves. I think it’s time for a new pair of Canada mitts…

Happy New Year, Nonno! (he's the handsome fella at the top)

White out!!!

White out!!!

The pond by Nonno's plot at the cemetery.

The pond by Nonno’s plot at the cemetery, all snowed over.

How do you plan on making 2014 great? Any goal races on schedule? Will you resolve to axe the resolutions and just be YOU?

Here’s to another year of running! Cheers!

WIshing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

WIshing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Look no further than your beloved pooch to learn how to enjoy the holidays this season. Live in the moment, be liberal with your hugs and kisses for your loved ones, accept and enjoy all the treats, be goofy and fearless and enjoy every second there is of Christmas. The moments are fleeting, but the memories last a lifetime, so let’s make some stellar ones for 2013!

IRCT: Injured Runner Circle Time

Circle time was always my favorite as a kid, when the teacher would instruct us to sit criss-cross applesauce in a circle on the carpet for story time or other fun activities that were all inclusive and left you with the feel-good fuzzies in your tummy. Well, gather ’round, friends, it’s circle time! And if you’re nursing an injury like I am, be extra careful with the criss-crossing and scooch in a little closer, this one’s especially for you!

Every runner, at one point or another, becomes injured. It’s inevitable; the body takes a beating after a big race or training period, maybe went out too fast or too far and too soon, or you just got unlucky on a patch of ice – whatever the case may be, where there is a runner there is, or has been, an injury. Of course, injury isn’t exclusive to runners, everyone suffers from a boo-boo every once in a while. The human body is both ridiculously strong, and extremely fragile. How’s that for a conundrum? It’s also a really big pain in the toosh!

You know that moment you reflexively roll your eyes as you overhear someone sputtering cliche’s like “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” or, “we always want what we can’t have”, in an attempt to impart some philosophical wisdom that’s supposed to make us feel better? Then you’re probably also familiar with that irritating twitch that takes over the eye-roll road when you find yourself in a situation where those cliches slap you square in the nose with their truth. When I was training for the marathon, I had just about had it with running all the time. I looked forward to the post-marathon break and a return to running just for fun. I was anxious about winter running and wondered if I’d chicken out and put myself through an entire season on the boredom-belt. I took a week off and eased myself back into running again, and during November was actually doing pretty well. Then a 13-mile city adventure killed some of my joints and is what’s put me out for the past 3 weeks or so.

It’s been bittersweet. At first, I embraced the chance to get back to my old loves of lifting and spinning. I made a return to Torture Tuesday, with classes being over and my Tuesday mornings being freed up. I’ve been lifting heavier and making strength gains, which is always exciting, especially in my upper body where I’ve got about as much strength in my arms as a warm piece of cheese string. As I got into the second week off, I started missing runs. I’d wake up in the mornings as if I were going for a run, only to plop down, sip a coffee and leisurely eat breakfast while reading the paper. My whole morning ‘me-time’ routine was thrown completely off. I ran half a mile on the treadmill during the second week of my running hiatus, which I thought was just the bee’s knees and that I’d be back at it by the following week, only to still be sidelined. I did make some progress yesterday, running a mile at 6mph and a 2% incline and surviving despite some slightly painful tightness afterwards. Still, I’m in no shape to actually go running.

So, here I am, with a justifiable reason to skip the discomfort of winter running, and it’s pretty much the only thing I want to do! I was so prepared for winter running this year, too. I got myself some cool new gear, even a pair of Goretex trail shoes so that I could tackle the snowy trails without a problem, and a spiffy glow-in-the-dark windbreaker from New Balance. I’d be unstoppable! Er…sort of. The one thing I didn’t prepare for was an injury. Thank you, uneven city roads and shoes that clearly had too many miles on them to be any good, especially for a 13 miler.

Week 4 of my injured runner status is underway, my ankle is carefully wrapped up in KT Tape, and my foam roller has been getting some extra loving. Sometimes, as I’m rolling out all of my kinks, I’ll think back to moments during my marathon training where I’d ask myself, “am I even cut out for distance running? Why am I doing this to myself? This is so long! Maybe I’m just not a runner…” and laugh because right now I would love to be able to lace up and run for hours. There’s so much I want to explore, especially right now with beautiful lights up everywhere for the holidays. I want to go for a romp with Charlie in the snow, running and jumping and having a ball. I miss the release of a good run.

For now, I’ll be patient. Or at least as patient as I can be, and hope that I can get back to running soon. Until then, I’ll keep fondly remembering what I had before it was gone, and wanting what I can’t have, knowing that with time I’ll have it again. I’m determined to rehab the crap out of my ankle and get myself back in the game!

Are you nursing an injury or have to take time out from running for some reason?

How do you keep yourself sane when running isn’t an option?

Why Do You Run?

“Why do you run?”

If a quarter of a second were shaved off of a runner’s average race pace each time they were asked this question, they’d have the Kenyans eating their dust in a triple-Ultra Marathon.

The answer should be a piece of cake, and yet I often find myself chewing on it, especially during long runs when I have plenty of time and miles to kill and I start asking myself “why on Earth am I doing this in the cold at the butt-crack of dawn?” Of course, by the time I get home, having gotten through the scheduled miles and getting to work on a scrumptious batch of gluten-free pancakes, it all makes sense. To me.

There’s the simple answer that running is one of the best things you can do for your health. FromRunner’s World, “Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions. What’s more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life, and even helps you live longer. “

But there’s more to running than casual health and fitness.

Every runner has a story. The reason for running changes, grows and multiplies until there isn’t one specific answer that really captures the heart of why we run. It’s for that reason that I’ve often struggled with answering that question.  What started as a step in the healthy direction transpires to something much bigger, one of those transcendental things that you can’t explain but just have to experience for yourself. It’s why celebrating a runner’s rite of passage like having to pee in the bush during a race would be less well-received by a non-runner, until they’re the ones using their socks as toilet paper for the first time.

I decided to consult the most accredited source I could find on the topic: The weekly Twitter #RunChat. Every Sunday night, runners from around the world dial in over Twitter for an hour-long question and answer period to gush over everything we love (and sometimes don’t love) about running.

http://twitter.com/joannedeluca/status/399720815555801089

Replies came pouring in, and each one was worth a million bucks and a lifetime supply of GU!

whyruntwitter1

I was so inspired that I began writing a trilogy with multiple spin-offs on why I run, but managed to narrow it down to this spiffy list:

1. It’s the only way I know of that lets you get high and addicted without breaking laws, going to sketchy crack-houses, blowing all your cash and needing to go to rehab. And it’s free! Sort of…shoes don’t count. Everyone has shoes.

2. I run to blow off steam and recuperate my sanity. Sometimes even the perkiest of folks gets pissed off, and nothing feels better than imagining that irksome thing beneath your feet each time they slap against the ground. Running turns my frown upside down.

3. I run for adventure. I’ve seen and experienced more of my town on my own two feet than I ever could have imagined. It takes me places I never would have thought to go otherwise. Those ‘no trespassing’ or ‘do not enter’ signs at the end of paved roads and into dirt paths? Irrelevant. I get to explore like Columbus and be a rebel like Dean, all at the same time. Plus, it’s gotten me outside enough to introduce me to my neighbors after living here for 14 years. Better late than never!

4. I run to be a runner with other runners. The running community is a brilliant group of individuals, where strangers feel like family. Each race is like a reunion, and the talk in the car on the way home afterwards is nothing but positive as you look forward to the next one. When people remark on how runners are insane (particularly long distance runners) it brings on the warm fuzzies to be able to say “yup, I’m one of them!”

5. The race cred and the bling are pretty neat! So are the bragging rights – just sayin’!

6. I run for the super cool gear. Nothing like shimmying into those black tights, feeling like Catwoman, cutting through the wind like a speed demon in my multi-colored glow in the dark running shoes.

7. This.

beforeafter

8. I run to eat. What can I say, I’m a foodie at heart and I love my carbs. What’s not to love about shoving a generous piece of birthday cake into your mouth when it’s not your birthday and being able to justify it as “fuel” for your long run? It also means pancakes. Lots of pancakes, and still maintaining my weight. Score!

9. Six packs. Abs and beer can happily co-exist when you’re a runner. Or wine, if wine’s your thing. A Guinness or a lovely Merlot with your 10K, ladies and gents? There’s a reason for the popularity of races at wineries and breweries correlating with a spike in runners hitting PR’s at these events. You’ll get to the finish faster when you know there’s free alcohol waiting for you at the end!

10. Because it’s awesome. And it goes on and on my friends. Even when it sucks, it’s still bloody (toenails and popped blisters) fantastic because you endured the suckage, and you won! I run because I’m a champion all the time, even if it’s just to me, myself and I.

Phew! I think the better question here is “why not?”

Happy First Blog-a-versary!

Ladies and Gents, this calls for a celebration! Cheers to the freakin’ weekend A Runner’s Pursuit’s first year on WordPress!

Exactly one year to the day I decided to step into my big-girl-blogging pants and make the move from Tumblr over to WordPress. It also just so happens to be my own birthday, which is why I chose to launch A Runner’s Pursuit on December 6th – because if I didn’t, I’d be like the terrible husband who forgets it’s his wedding anniversary until the wife starts acting all kinds of crazy waiting for an especially romantic surprise that was never transpired, and has to be whipped together like a bad last-minute paper mache volcano for science class. Plus, it’s kind of poetic, non? Sharing your birthday with your blog? Either way, all I know is there will be cake!

There’s no question this past year has seen me go through many changes. I was taking a look back in the archives, and it was like reading about another person. I’ve certainly taken leaps and bounds since then, from being in a running rut and having never run farther than 13 miles to becoming a marathoner, to being diagnosed with celiac, back when I tried to go vegan and failed, when I was scared to run in the city, and was in an odd place trying to figure out this whole healthy living post-weight loss thing. In other words, I was in a completely different state of mind, but it was because of those moments that I was able to learn and grow into the person I am today. I’ve finally reached a place where I can honestly say I’m happy, and in the end it’s all anyone is ever in pursuit of, isn’t it? Now if only I could snag me that runner boyfriend, then I’d really be on a roll! Are you listening, Santa? I’ll settle for a new pair of runners, if the boy is out of the question.

Instead of taking time to look back on the past year, I thought it would be fun to look forward and celebrate what I love, and the reason this blog even exists in the first place: Running. Last month I was assigned a project for my Writing Hypertext course to create a blog. Instead of using A Runner’s Pursuit, I decided to create ‘Once Upon a Fartlek’ and wrote a post on ‘Why I Run’, where I asked YOU to tell me why you run, and I share my reasons for running. Think of it as the complimentary party to this post. Celebrate with me, celebrate the run and celebrate each other.

Stay tuned for that post later on. In the meantime, party on people!

Runner Confessions: Post Race Let-Down

Oh Heavenly Runner, (the speedy, ripped, white-bearded man burning up the track in the sky), it has been 41 days since my last race and 8 days since my last run. Forgive me, for I have sinned. I’ve run too much, too hard, too soon, and now I’m paying the price. 

I’ve been MIA the past month, since marathon training and the marathon itself came and went, and life got busy with school and work. After a week off, I got myself back into running, trying so hard to slowly get back into the groove, trying so hard not to over-do it, but also not to under-so it. One of my worries post-marathon, besides the post-race blues, was falling off the band wagon and losing the endurance I’ve built. Hey, the marathon’s over, why run anything more than 10-12 miles for a long run, right? I thought I was doing great, running every other day, usually 10K, then a long run on the weekend. The Friday before last, I decided to do a 13 miler. It’d been a month since the marathon, and I figured I was up for it. I ventured into the city to take in a new route and new sites. It was great, mentally, to get out of my usual surroundings. But the uneven sidewalks, the stop-and-go, eh well it wasn’t all that great for my feet. I ended up really hurting my right achilles and some weird issue is going on with my left pinky toe joint. At first I thought it was just a blister or a callus, but it’s not going away and I’m starting to think I did some other kind of damage. Anywho, I attempted a long run last Friday, only made it 5 miles and had to stop because of my ankle. I knew it would be best to take time off now, than run through it and be side-lined longer later on when it counts. It’s ‘off-season’ anyway, right? Or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself to ease the no-running pain…

There was a great article published in the Body&Health section of the newspaper this past Thursday on ‘Post-Race Let-Down‘ by my favorite columnist, Kelly Steele (Kelly, I want your job…juuusssttt sayin’). She completed her first Iron(wo)Man recently and has come down with what all of us know as the post-race blues. I thought back over the past month, reliving that amazing feeling only to be shoved back into regular life and wonder if any of it even happened at all. All of that work, months of training, the early mornings, passing on nights out with friends, revolving everything around when I need to get my runs in…it seems almost fruitless because it leads up to one day that just sweeps by you. After my rest week, when I got back to running again, but this time without a race to train for, it just felt different. I didn’t care to be out there, because I didn’t have to be. And it’s strange because during training, I started to dislike running because I had to, looking forward to when I could run ‘just because’ again. Here I was, running just because, and it just wasn’t doing it for me. 

Eventually I found my groove again, and of course right when I did, I up and hurt myself. Story of my life. 

What’s worse is, because of the rookie mistake I made, I’ll have to sit out of the race I’d been looking forward to for months: The Santy Paws 4K, a race with dogs. Yup, today would’ve been my very first official race with Charlie. It was to take place downtown during the Winter Festival before the Santa Claus Parade. I even skipped the annual Santa Run earlier this month because I was planning on this one with Charlie. 

Another confession? I’ve eased the depression by eating like I’m still marathon training. In my head I’m like, ‘well I’m going to do another one, eventually’. I’m still keeping it clean and healthy, but extra calories are extra calories and I’ve developed some fluff. It’s not a big deal, and in a sense I’m okay with it, but when you’ve come from a life of obesity anything associated with ‘gains’ is scary. it’s funny, I didn’t gain during marathon training like people typically do, but I’m getting that weight gain afterwards. Just in time for the holidays! 

Anywho, i’m hoping to be back and blogging regularly, especially with the holiday season being my favorite! Plus, I think I could really use some runners-support during this limbo-time I’m in. In the mean time, I’ll just read about running, and lust over running gear to add to my Runner’s Wish List!

Did you fall into post-race let down after a big race? How did you handle it? 

How do you tackle training post-race?