Monday, July 23, 2012

Releasing your crappy run...

As I mentioned in a previous post, there are times when I feel that running is just not my calling. Or perhaps the truth is I want to run but it's hard and I am just not good at it...and therefore should pick up a more suitable hobby like watching the sun move across the sky or reviewing the new flavors Pringles has come out with. Both of these sound like awesome endeavors which would require so much less physical and emotional exertion than running 13 miles on a ninety degree day.

Working from home and setting my own hours has given me the freedom to stay up late (thanks to the hubby's schedule) and in turn, wake up late. I'm not just means I am now too lazy to wake up at the crack of dawn to go running before the heat sets in. In admitting this I get to question my intention and commitment to running. I'm an over-analyzer...what can I say.

There was no escaping the heat this day.
Yesterday I drove to Benecia (about 30 miles west) in an attempt to escape the 100 degrees we were experiencing at home. I had two options...try to run my scheduled 14ish miles on a treadmill at the gym without losing my mind or sacrifice some gas money to drive to a more suitable (read: cooler) location. So, off to Benecia I went where the temperature at the start of my run was a pleasant 90 degrees. Just a little tip: when checking the Internet for current temperatures be sure to check more than one site, especially if it promises you that it will be a comfortable 20 degrees cooler with fabulous scenic vistas to make your long run the most fantastic run of your life.

Benecia State Recreation Area
Fortunately, the scenic vistas were pretty fabulous but it was hard to appreciate them through the sweat and later, the calf cramps. I tried to be careful and of course I listened to my body (watching for signs of heat exhaustion and also taking it easy) but at some point my desire for cold water over took all rational thinking and I found my lips almost permanently attached to the water fountain drinking more than I should at one time.

The Benecia Bridge, blackberries ripening and Mt. Diablo in the distance.
 I struggled through the last 5 miles...physically my calves were locking up, I was chafing in places I didn't know chafed (my belly-button?? that's new) and my feet were hurting (I had tried to run on the trail/gravel as much as possible which kinda tore up my tender nubbins) but emotionally I was suffering even more. First was the ridiculousness of having driven so far to run only to still be in the heat, then was the nagging Runkeeper voice that kept repeating my snail-like pace and saying things like 'obviously you must have meant to hit walk not run on the settings, you slow-ass idiot' and then I started wondering what had possessed me to sign up for another full marathon (the Half Moon Bay International Marathon on Sep 23). At mile eight I was wondering if I should drop down to the mile nine I really thought the 10K would be a better mile ten I contemplated 'retiring' from running starting that instant.

So here I am, a little sore with a bruised ego and yet still kinda proud I got my run in, even if it was slow and miserable. I realize I need more compassion in my life and that includes compassion for myself which is something that I read about last night.
"If we are willing to stand fully in our own shoes and never give up on ourselves, then we will be able to put ourselves in the shoes of others and never give up on them." ~Pema Chodron Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
I know this is deeper than running...but it still flipped a switch for me...that it is okay for me to have a bad run, feel a little sorry for myself, show myself some compassion but also to not give up. It's about being okay {a little bit} with the self-doubt, acknowledging that it is just a thought, the same as thinking the a flower is pretty or that a particular perfume smells bad. It doesn't identify me nor does it mean it's true so I can just let the thought go...just like the passing thoughts that cross your mind during meditation or yoga.
"Affirmations are like screaming that you're okay in order to overcome this whisper that you're not." ~Pema Chodron Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living
This also rang true to me. After all, I've done the affirmation thing, I've spoken about my goals in the present tense and then I blogged about how we are always telling ourselves that we aren't good enough...and thanks to the whole self-help industry, apparently we never will be. But what if we take a softer approach, allow a moment to acknowledge the shitty feeling and then let it float away (like a fart in the wind). Then maybe we can get back to what we were doing...finishing that run, editing that blog post, submitting that article, applying for that job, etc.

As I sit here and nurse my sore legs (with a foam roller and stretching) I know that come September 23rd I'll be running my second full marathon having trained through the good runs and bad and that I will be proud of my accomplishment no matter what happens. This doesn't mean that I don't have a goal for this race but simply that this is a race a choose to run, a challenge I set for myself and that there is no pressure to define myself as a success or failure because of this event.

Cattails and Sunshine
It's like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders releasing myself from some of the expectations I placed there...that every  run should be fast and magnificent and that it all gets easier and fun over time (sorry but going for a two and a half hour long run at 90 degree by yourself may offer some nice alone time...or may drive you to delirium...either way you end up with a nausea hang-over while simultaneously feeling like you haven't eaten in 4 days). They are just long runs after all...running one mile and then another after that until you're done. But you can be certain that this will be my last full marathon. =)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dog Days of Summer...

As the time nears for our {permanent} departure from California I feel a new panic...notsomuch of the unknown routes or how we are going to live off of just the hubby's retirement but in squeezing in all of the things we haven't done yet or want to 'do over'. I mean, I know we will most likely be back as we make lap after lap of the United States but I still feel like I might be missing out on something.

So, much to the husband's chagrin, I've been trying to plan about a hundred things for us to do in the next 3 months {while we are also working, planning the first leg of the journey, getting paperwork in order and getting all of our dental, medical and eye exams done before our insurance changes}. Oh, and don't let me forget that I am trying hard to maintain this blog and contemplating a second blog for our full-time RV adventures.

Here's just a few items on that list:
  1. Safari West
  2. The Ropes Course at Squaw Valley
  3. Fern Canyon in the Redwoods
  4. Climb/hike Mt. Diablo
  5. Climb Mt. Shasta
  6. Climb Mt. Whitney
  7. The Navitat Zip-Line at Wrightwood
  8. Kayak at Fallen Leaf Lake in Tahoe
  9. Camp on Angel Island and then ferry over to the Ferry Building for the Farmer's Market
  10. Golf at Mare Island
I know I can't convince him to do all the things on my wish-list but, much to my surprise, he did agree to go to Rodeo Beach in Marin last weekend.

Rodeo Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
The 'sand' at Rodeo is more like tiny worn pebbles...mesmerizing.
Source: Flickr
Thanks to an email from Weekend Sherpa, we took a very spontaneous trip to the coast. As the temperature was climbing in our little campsite we call home I casually mentioned the perfect way to escape the heat...and the clinker...we could take Cleo the Wonder Dog!! Besides, it was the last weekend the Hubs would have off after having surgery 3 weeks ago.

As soon as I heard the word "Okay" I was printing directions (which I then left sitting on the printer), throwing on the bikini, packing a fruit salad, some Steinbeck {Travels with Charley, of course} and, as an after thought, some pants and a long sleeved T. The Hubs packed the cooler, got the dog leash and then made sure I didn't forget my sunglasses (he's a Saint).

We didn't hit the road until 1:30 p.m. which is not typically the time beach-goers head out but, well...we like to go against the grain. On the way we "Yelped" to find a deli to stop at for a little picnic lunch {this is mandatory for a beach visit} and found a 5 starer in Novato.

Well...let me just tell you, if there is a special place we want to try...a cool spot we remember from a few years ago...or something different and new...that place will inevitably be closed or out-of-business and we proved this theory once again. The deli we had longed for, stomachs growling, blood sugar dropping...was closed.

But do not despair Dear Reader...we happened across another deli just 2 blocks away. But this wasn't any old was a real, authentic Italian deli called Tagliaferri's. Even with display cases full of salame, mortadella, prosciutto, soppressata and capocolla they also had a beautiful Italian Vegetarian sandwich with marinated portabella mushrooms, sweet red peppers and fresh, homemade mozzarella. My husband, who is Italian, was in heaven.

Tagliaferri's deli case.
With our sandwiches safely stowed we hit Highway 101, took the Sausalito exit and ventured over to Ft. Conkrite to find the fogged in, but beautiful, Pacific Ocean.

The Golden Gate Bridge...75 years old this year!
Fog creeping over the hills surrounding Ft. Cronkite and Rodeo Beach.
Rodeo Beach unveiled itself and the fog lifted enough that we didn't quite freeze to death. This beach is a mecca for dog lovers and boasts breeds from Goldendoodles to a trio of Corgi's to the cutest, scruffiest, ball-chasers you've even seen. Our dog you ask...well, we may have found a fabulous dog friendly beach but do not have a beach friendly dog.

Cleo with her Mohawk at half mast...always on alert.
Cleo & me...pretty much all of the other dogs were off leash and very well-behaved.
Cleo the Wonder Dog hated every minute of it...she pooped, she growled, she made her Mohawk stand full mast, she shivered and then she proceeded to be digusted with everything about the beach. We asked her lay down...she stood up. We asked her to walk...she laid down. We offered her a taste of salame and mozzarella...she turned her nose up!! If there ever was a question as to why we call female dogs bitches it was answered last Saturday on Rodeo Beach.

Kites at the beach...I love them!! One day I shall have my own...

Cleo refusing to look at the camera.

Cleo and the Hubby...

Now I better get going so I can plan our next adventure!!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lies my Demons Told Me...

Photo: source
Sweat is dripping from my elbows. It's hot...I want to eyes burn with the salty sting of more sweat at my brow...the demons start their chant. "You're not built to be a runner"..."You're slow, too slow"..."You're going to fail"..."Just quit already". I start to believe them, these demons, and while my legs fight to keep moving forward my mind tries to justify quitting now...4 miles before my scheduled 10 miler is supposed to end. I want to throw up or throw in the towel...or both.

Photo: source
I'm sitting at my computer, the cursor blinking at me, tauntingly. I am working on a story to submit to an online journal...except the story won't come and so the demons start their chant. "You're not a writer"..."They will reject your story and tell you never to submit again"..."You're going to fail"..."Just quit already". I start to believe them and I close my page thinking I'll just check Facebook or my email for a bit...maybe read some blogs for some inspiration.

“Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it's always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” ~ Neil Gaiman

These little bastards have an insatiable appetite devouring my best intentions and gulping down my self-esteem like a college kid doing a keg stand. And it seems they have made themselves at home somewhere in my psyche. Squatters...because they don't even pay rent.

I have a wonderful friend, Heidi, who always tells me how good I am at everything I do. I have a love/hate relationship with compliments. On one hand they are a welcome surprise because I often feel no one notices and it's nice to be noticed {sometimes} but on the other hand I feel like an impostor. There's no way those words can be used to describe me...obviously I have her fooled. I think, 'perhaps to satisfy my own Ego I have exaggerated my activities a bit?'...because, as the demons point out, I am not worthy of such praise.

When my father died 2 years ago from a head-on automobile accident, I came across a journal he had started. Although I felt like a was betraying him to read his words...words he intended only for his own eyes, I also felt that I needed  to read them. I needed a connection, I needed an explanation, I needed to hear something, anything from him.

My dad in 1952, he was 5 years old.
In that little book I read about my father's own insecurities. I read that his biggest disappointment wasn't me {as most children of alcoholics might feel at times} but himself. This coming from the man I thought was brilliant...having earned a Master's Degree after dropping out of school in the 8th grade. Yet here were his words...echoing my own demons, saying how much he hated his lips {which were beautiful and full...the same lips he passed down to me} and felt that he had disappointed his family and failed in his career.

At any given time I am questioning my ability or dismissing my accomplishments. And while it's possible I inherited this trait from my father, who got from his father, who probably got it from his father it is time to end the madness. It's time I own my accomplishments, no matter how small or insignificant they may first appear, because they are born of my sweat, blood and tears...they are what make up my life.

Life can be hard, we never know what's going to happen in the next 5 years or the next 5 minutes. Success can be hard, things that come easy...that don't scare the hell out of us or test our limits or make us question our sanity aren't the things that have the ability to change our lives or perspective. I've questioned my sanity AND my limits during a Hot Yoga reduced me to tears, not just because of the physical aspect but the emotional one as well.

Running is hard. Running a marathon is really hard. It should be...only 1% of the population has done it. Writing is hard and the world is full of critics. It exposes us in a way that scares us. It's worse than being naked because it's reveals our true soul...not just the flesh and blood.

 “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~Thomas Mann

This from my friend Lauren, sent to my FB wall just today.

This from the Crazies' Manifesto at Rebelle Epoque.
As I was finishing up this post, a friend of mine (a fellow runner) posted this on Facebook, which couldn't have been more timely:

Running isn’t a sport for pretty’s about the sweat in your hair & the blisters on your feet. It’s the frozen spit on your chin & the nausea in your gut. It’s about throbbing calves & cramps at midnight that are strong enough to wake the dead. It’s about getting out the door & running even when the rest of the world is only dreaming about having the passion that you need to live each & every day with. It’s about being on a lonely road & running like a champion even when there’s not a soul in sight to cheer you on. Running is about having the desire to train & persevere until every fiber in your legs, mind & heart is turned to steel. And when you’ve finally forged hard enough, you will have become the best runner that you can be. And that’s all you can ask for.

 ~ Paul Maurer (The Gift - A Runner's Story)

Monday, July 2, 2012

Facebook & Farm Tours...when Social Media takes you outdoors...

A nice spot to rest on a hot summer's day.
Believe it or not, I know of some Facebook hold-outs...seriously. These are fairly educated, professional people with friends and family in other states and countries who (I think) could benefit from connecting on FB. People who, regardless of their claim to 'keep in touch the old fashioned way' (and then don't), complain about not knowing what I'm up to, which is pretty funny considering all of the comments I get from acquaintances who claim they always know what I'm up to (thanks to FB). And while I can acknowledge the time sap the internet provides many of us, I see these same people spending countless hours playing games on their cell phones or watching trashy reality TV...I mean, if you had any talent you could Facebook while watching Mob Wives and never miss a beat!

But this post isn't about those friends who refuse to embrace what clearly isn't going away. It's about a local Farm Tour that I went on thanks to a post on, you guessed it,  Facebook (see...this is how people find out about things to do these days, it isn't all about hooking up with old flames!!).

Slow Foods Solano hosted a tour of the local farms in our little city of Vacaville. I was excited that fellow blogger and friend, Lauren, wanted to go so I tagged along with her and her 2 friends, Melissa and Dave. One of my favorites, Soul Food Farm, was the jump off point for the tour.

The hens are always around greeting their customers.
I don't eat eggs often but when I do this is where I buy them. Knowing that the chickens are free to roam around and do the things chickens do means I am getting the best nutrition out of each and every egg without all of the guilt that comes with buying the factory farmed variety. And just for the record, buying "Free Range" may make you feel better but it means nothing to the poor hens who really never get to enjoy their short lives.

Mmmm, lavender!

The next stop was Morningsun Herb Farm, a local nursery that also hosts classes on things like gardening, essential oils, soap casting, candle making, aromatherapy and medicine making (or what my husband likes to refer to as "Hippie Classes"). This is where I buy all of my starter vegetables, especially tomatoes. The farm hosts several events throughout the year where you can sample foods and drinks made with the herbs grown on the premises. It really is amazing how much better iced tea can be when made with lemon verbena or how the subtle flavor of rose geranium can make a second slice of cake almost impossible to turn away.

Future Cabernet vines.
Our next stop was Mercier Grapevines. Any one who is interested in wine should take a tour of this facility. Mercier takes root stock and grafts the varietals onto the stock to create disease resistant grapevines. The process is really fascinating and our host, Sebastian, walked us through every step.

Root Stock
Sebastian showing us how the grafting machine works.
The varietal (light colored) grafted onto the root stock.
The grafted root stock is then placed in a sterile growing medium and placed in a humid room to form a 'callous'.

The greenhouse...wall to wall baby grapevines.
Sebastian and his wife hosted a wine tasting with at least 5 different wines...and they were very generous with their pours.

Now that we had a pretty good buzz going, we headed over to the much anticipated Be Love Farm. Owned by Matthew and Terces Engelhart, Be Love was started to supply as much as 50% of the fresh produce for the couple's California based organic, raw and vegan restaurants Cafe Gratitude.

Veggies growing at Be Love Farm.
Sunflower sprouts

The 21 acre farm includes a large greenhouse for raising wheat grass and sunflower sprouts, 7 acres of nut trees, and several fields of vegetables. My husband might have actually had a cow here because this is an uber-hippie, commune type set up...although I was completely intrigued. The couple lives on the premises which has 2 yurts (one for them and one for guests), an outdoor kitchen (which is the only kitchen), and outdoor pizza/flatbread oven, composting toilets (which smell better than any outhouse I've ever been in...and even better than a few indoor modern bathrooms), a fresh water pool, sauna and bathhouse.

Matt (in black) speaking to our tour group in front of the outdoor kitchen. In the foreground is a fabulous pumpkin seed brittle fresh from the oven.

Matt and Terces' yurt.
Regardless of your level of hippiness, Be Love has a lot to offer for someone looking to decrease their carbon-footprint and/or raise their own food (even the back yard gardener can benefit). Matt and Terces show a real appreciation and connection to the land that feeds them and to slowing down and enjoying each moment. It was a reminder that with all of the luxuries most of us are afforded, sometimes unplugging from the computer, turning off the TV, leaving the comfort of the air conditioning and going outside to feel the sun on your back and the soil between your toes is what really connects us to the Earth and to each other.

After we left Be Love, our quartet decided to head back to Morningsun Herb Farm to enjoy the picnic. A lovely late afternoon chat over hummus and rice crackers under a giant shade tree was the ultimate way to top the day.

The perfect shade tree for a summer picnic.

On a final note, the one thing that really surprised our little group was that we were the only ones from Vacaville (remember this tour was held in Vacaville). While our city seems more like a small town, it is just shy of 100,000 people...and 4 of us showed up. The remaining attendees came from places 40 or more minutes away. Perhaps the citizens of Vacaville already know what is available to them in their own backyard? Perhaps, like much of the U.S. the conveniences of corporate America over-rides the desire to help support, or even get to know the, local farmers (several of my friends at least attend the Farmer's Market in town)? Perhaps they were too busy with Facebook, tending to their own Farmvilles to experience the real thing?
Sometimes I find myself struggling to find that balance between my cyber life and real life so it's nice when these world collide. You can find the beauty of social media when it encourages you to do something new, explore, act. I read an article on Elephant Journal yesterday that pointed out this need to not just 're-post' things (inspirational quotes being all the rage right now) but to embrace the words and what they mean, to go out and live. Trust me, the keyboard will wait patiently for your return.

Morningsun Herb Farm

Be Love Farm

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