Running vs. Racing – Pleasure or Prowess

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When I tell people I am a runner, they often seem to immediately assume that I am fast.  And for some reason, I am always quick to jump in and tell them just how not-fast I am. I plod along comfortably, breathing easy, taking in the world around me, and simply enjoying the movement of my body through space.

I think my explaining stems from the desire to let everyone know “yes, you can run, too” regardless of speed, just setting foot outside your door is wonderful, healthy, and it can be fun! For years I hated running.  Until my first high school cross-country meet, the fastest mile I ever ran was an 8:30 min/mile pace set when running one mile in third grade.  The faster mile I ran in cross-country was the first of a 5K race; Mile one was 7 minutes, Mile two was 10 minutes, and mile three was 13 minutes.  No consistency, and I certainly started that out too fast.  I have yet to meet the third grade pace and maintain it for over a mile.

I am not one of those runners who checks their pace on their wrist to see if each mile is coming in at the same pace.  I run by feel. If I am out of breath, starting to heel strike, or feeling uncomfortable, I know I need to slow down to be able to maintain energy levels for longevity.  My goal has not ever been to race.  It is to relax, keep moving, and enjoy…

The more running literature I read – blogs, articles, books – and conversations I have with other runners, I learn that I have a very different perspective than my peers.  In fact, I would call it an extremely abnormal point of view and desired outcome for Races I enter.

Sometimes I wonder, am I just content to be running at the same pace indefinitely?  Is there anything wrong with that?  

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Could it be that I do not have the motivation that others feel driving them to accelerate?  Or that I’m missing some gene that makes you want to push yourself?  I will admit, there have been only a few times that I have really pushed myself – and neither of those times was during the Marathon I ran last year.  Yes that was hard, and I ran a whole marathon distance of 26.2 miles, but as far as speed is concerned… I kept it easy.  I pushed myself to pass other racers in the last half mile stretch of the Pints to Pasta race a couple of years ago, and that was fun!

I guess, overall, I have never really attempted to race.  Not against myself or other racers.  Perhaps my delight in the well-known, comfortable easy pace is partially due to my hesitation to step foot into the unknown.  What if I lose my stride, and start to heel-strike, again?  What if I injure myself?  

What if… I CAN go faster?

What would that be like?

One of my greatest fears – throughout my entire life – has been succeeding.  Doing something well enough that other people notice.  Raising expectations.  Being authentic.  Being vulnerable.  Letting myself be seen, heard, and known.  So, I have always done well – but never really allowed myself to excel – at anything.  I stop before I move beyond good to really good.

I love dancing, and shortly after moving to Portland, I got quickly immersed in West Coast Swing and Blues – getting to the point where I taught a “Mini” Blues lesson (after knowing the dance for only three months!).  Less than two years later, I stopped going dancing.

I also love singing, and recently took lessons with some amazing teachers at the Transformational Voice Institute, and I have learned SO much, improved greatly, and then abruptly stopped taking lessons – and have not pursued any other singing venues since.

Now, I run.  A solo activity.  Running at my pace, there will be no comparisons with other runners.  I’m not fast enough to really compete.  I do truly enjoy getting out each day to do my duty pounding the pavement – my movement meditation, but I wonder if running is now my activity to help me hide from my other great loves, desires, heart callings by easily making it priority over the others.  What would my life be like if I could make time for all of these wonderful activities?

Do you find yourself choosing one activity over another that really calls to you?
How do you decide which to prioritize?

Tomorrow I have another five miles in the morning … Meeting a friend super early on the other side of the river, so I am off to bed before midnight for the first time in a week!  (If I were out dancing, I would not be home until after midnight – West Coast Swing Wednesdays go late!).

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Please, have courage to do what you love with gusto.  Feed your heart and your spirit with joy, and allow yourself to succeed!  This is SO important. To being authentic…!

with joy and heart,
~Alaina

Gratefulness and A Delicious Recipe

Sometimes, the only thing that really matters in life is your state of mind.  At the end of the workday today, I needed a little reminder of the good, so I started going through my ‘I-am-grateful-for‘s’ and felt my body relax, my mind clear, and the smile return to my face.  Today really was a great day.

Today is day six of the 30 for 30 push-up challenge, and I already feel stronger.  I no longer stop after ten and wait a while before going back for another ten, and then another ten.  Instead, I am completing two sets of 15 with a short break in the middle.  Makes a girl wonder why she didn’t take on a challenge like this earlier…?

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My morning runs are short and sweet this week – 5 miles: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday in preparation of the 20 mile long run this weekend. Due to my sister’s Baby shower (omigodImgoingtobeanauntie!) Saturday, I will be modifying my schedule to do the run on Sunday.  I haven’t covered this much distance since last year’s training prep for St. George in September, and although I am a little nervous about the distance, I no longer harbor any fear of not finishing.  I know I can, and that mind game is finally over.

In the interest of getting a little more sleep tonight than I have in the last five (consequences of starting a blog post at 10:45pm), I am here to share my absolute favorite made-up (Baked!) dish.

As the Farmer’s Markets return to the neighborhood parking lots, I find myself craving the end of summer already, if only to have some lovely yellow squash again!  You are getting this recipe (well, a list of guidelines to create a dish – recipes are more scientific and precise than the list that will follow below) well in advance of the availability of the vegetable, so you have plenty of time to prepare.

Squash Dish

Baked Delicata Squash:

– De-seed and cut 2-3 delicata squash into small pieces
(seeds may be soaked in sea salt & water and baked for a great crunchy snack!)
– Place squash pieces in baking dish
– Chop onion (to your desired amount – maybe 1/3 onion?) Spread over squash
– Sprinkle a handful of raisins (plus or minus) over squash
– Sprinkle with a handful of almonds
– Sprinkle with cinnamon (as desired)
– Dash of Nutmeg
– cut butter into slim tabs and place on top of the squash (this may be substituted with EarthBalance or other oil substitute)

Cover dish with foil and bake in oven at 350 degrees until squash is soft.
I kid you not, this will taste like dessert.  So.  Good.  This squash is so naturally sweet, no sugar is needed.

What is your favorite way to prepare Delicata Squash?

Happy eating, training, and nourishing – I am so grateful to be able to write this and share with like-minded people.  🙂
~Alaina

Day 27 of NaBloPoMo: Daily Writing is Coming to an End!

I have a hard believing that I have been posting almost every night for twenty-seven days for NaBloPoMo (I admit I have missed two, or possibly three).  This is the most frequent posting I have ever attempted, and it really hasn’t been easy.  Getting the time in each day has been a challenge, and usually, I end up in front of my computer, late at night, trying to hit the “Publish” button before the clock turns over to twelve o’clock am on the following day.  And I succeed… about half of the time, the rest are posted a few minutes late.

To my fellow NaBloPoMo-ers, how do you work this event into your day?

Admittedly, I am starting to enjoy the frequency and find it a nice way to wrap up my day.  Sort out all the thoughts and happenings and how I want to think about things is the main point of repeatedly sitting in front of this computer.  I have finally decided that an earlier attempt during the day can be very beneficial.  (and I have yet to start that practice).

Overall, posting this often is like learning to drive a car.  You do not just go out for one lesson at two o’clock pm during the daylight and then finish all other lessons at nine o’clock pm in the dark.  Your attention span, observational skills, and sight will all be impaired just a little due to how tired you are.  As are my blog posts; they’re short, not as well-written, and rushed to meet the deadline.  After this month is done, I know I will need to focus on a plan for blogging at a rate (and time of day) more reasonable for my lifestyle.

I’ll leave you with a running quote that so applies to this subject:

 

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to all, have a good night, and happy running!
~Alaina

A Moment in Time; A Little Rhyme

The past few days of NaBloPoMo, I have found myself reviewing old drafts and stumbled upon this (rather long) poem I wrote on July 11, 2012.   Some of you may know that from time to time I will write a little prose.  In fact, poetry is the reason I started a blog three and a half years ago.  By no means am I studied or practiced at the art, but from time to time I find myself typing words without thought, and often, the jumble that comes out seems to have some sense hidden in the layers and somewhat simple rhyme and meter.

Having an outlet to truly share these words was what I thought I needed at the time, yet here I am, stumbling across a bit of writing that I chose to hide in the “Draft” archives of this website instead of letting it be heard.  So, belatedly, here it is, now for public reading.  As much as I try, I cannot remember the inspiration for these words, yet in reading them now, they create a rise of feeling in me.

Please feel free to express your feedback on this writing.  Constructive criticism is also welcome.

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Renew

For every day lived and each sweet breath released
For moments bombarded with noise, and those in peace
For times in oppressive loneliness, and those in open oneness

For each opportunity to turn a leaf
For that final release of heartfelt grief
For genuine clarity and heady acceptance

For everything that has ever been
For the unknown we have kept within
For time I spent away from you…

This time I will start anew.

A brand new day to bring the sun
A new life to express joy and have fun
A time to be who I have meant

A chance to bring the world new light
A time to observe like birds in flight
A day in this life is not just a day

We choose to lead the way.

To the top of the hill, to the crest on the breast
To jump from the cliff, to leave all the rest
We know not the calling, no need to ask why
We simply choose to know we can fly

Light shows the way, light brings us home
We no longer need all that space to roam
With a unified voice, we lift our faces toward the sky

Out pours the song, “now hear our cry!”
The world is not ending, that is not yet near
It is a new beginning for all that will hear.

Listen: Do you hear those notes?
The song in the distance?
The thrum in the throats

Of thousands of people not willing to sit
Waiting for those who would put fire to the pit
They ignore the present and look to the past

See how it spins them round so fast?
They’re blind to all the truth to be seen.
So lost and scared, they know not a thing.

They repeat what they hear, and it’s all lost in fear
No one is out there helping.

So hear my call, dear friends on the mound,
We are needed, we must now sound

Our voices together, unified and light
To diminish the hate, and stop the fight.
We are one, we are, we are!

Knowing this; we can go far
To bring peace, administer joy.
So jump in, and join our ploy.

“We are the world”, he once sang
We are the future, their voices rang,
Here in the present we are, I say.

Do not fear this simple state.
In every moment there is a gate
Which lends us to authenticate.

Be as your heart calls unto you,
It is the only thing to do!
We are. Forever. Faithful. True.

by Alaina Shea 7/11/12
(last two verses added 11/25/13)

Living Life, Minding the Present; Be-ing and Vulnerablilty

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Many of my years as a child, growing into adulthood in my teens, and pressing further into my life as a career-person, aware and contributing to society, have been spent in a constant commentary with Ego.  It has taken a lot of reading (my large collection of self-help novels is yet to be unpacked in my new apartment), listening to motivational speakers, and connecting with others to finally recognize this aspect of myself.  I used to identify my “logical, critical thinking” with reasoning, and I am beginning to see this as the opposite.  This past year, I have been un-training myself to trust “reason” and let go, attempting to learn to listen to my subconscious and intuitive thinking.

Man, is it hard!

For someone who has always analyzed every situation, weighed the pros and cons, and rationally chosen the direction to walk down a path, choosing to feel my reaction and to literally go with my gut has been a challenge.

On the other hand, freeing my mind and following my body’s response has been extremely liberating.  I can still see my mind go into analytical mode, and I am nowhere near as good at this as I would like to be, yet, I am getting better at acknowledging the thoughts, and letting them go.  The physical response to words, actions, ideas, thoughts, anything introduced to your surrounding is always present.  

Since making the choice to live this way, I surprisingly have more time in each day.  Being less in my head has freed my hands to do other things, and my mind can better occupy time with thoughts of the here-and-now, rather than floating off into the oblivion of the unknown future questions and hypotheses.  I feel relieved and happy to have time to write more often!

Have you felt yourself shift?  Do you notice a difference in space and time when you stay present?

One of the side-effects of staying present is not having the time to prepare and protect.  One is forced by nature to remain vulnerable in each setting because nothing else is important.  We are able to truly experience our feelings (feel the gut reactions!) and process them in real-time, not wondering what may come next or how that will affect us.  We are free to Be.  What a wonderful way to live!

Now, I’m no Guru, but I have listened to the advise of a few of these knowledgable people, and hope I have gleaned enough to start making a difference in my life.  When I want to talk with someone, I will call them.  If I am pulled to respond to a text in a longer format to convey that I care, I will.  

Most importantly, I have learned, when someone has significance in your life, to let them know.

This holiday season, I am going to take a cue from a good man, Evan Sanders at The Better Man Project, and write to my loved ones.  Writing is a much more expressive, and eloquent, method for communication for me, and I want to let each and every special person in my life know that I appreciate them.  Because you really never know when your next opportunity will come.  (Thanks, Evan, for the brilliant idea, and reminder).  

Today’s top three:  Be present with those you love, wear your heart on your sleeve, and follow your intuition.  

with love, light, and delight,
~Alaina

Why I Run

On an especially gorgeous day like today, it is hard to imagine why someone would even consider the treadmill.

This is why I get outside:

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Green space…

 

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Incredible knobby trees.

 

Sweet scents.
Sweet scents.

 

Luscious light.
Luscious light.

 

Fabulous filters for sun-gazing.
Fabulous filters for early morning sun-gazing.

 

A world a-wash in hues of green.
A world a-wash in hues of golden greens.

Knowing that each and every day, even if the route I choose to follow is the same path I’ve pounded for several consecutive work-outs, I will see something new worth noting is a marvelous motivator.  A moment, a shadow, a bloom, a highlight previously overlooked will trigger a pause, a moment of admiration paying my respects to nature, saying ‘thank you’ then continuing on, is enough to get me out of bed each day.

What motivates you to get out and start your day?  

~Alaina