Friday, May 31, 2013

Rag Tag

So you've decided to participate in a Ragnar race... First question: What role do you want to play?

If the answer is "I just want to run it," then Congratulations!! Train well, be honest about your pace, and offer to help the captain if you can.

Here are the requirements to run a Ragnar:
~ be able to run at least 13 miles split into three smaller runs
~ come up with the $$ required (registration + van/gas money)
~ be available for the weekend of the race- including getting to your van and back to your car
~ a headlamp, blinking tail light, and reflective vest for night running

It would be nice if:
~ You had 1-3 friends who could volunteer at the race
~ You had another friend who could drive a van
~ You had another friend who owned a 15-passenger van OR suburban
~ You are creative with team-names or van decorations
~ You are type B enough to tolerate other people's issues

If the answer is "I want to be a team captain," then may God have mercy on your soul. And may your team be solid in their pace. And prompt with their payment. And effusive with their friends so you have enough drivers and volunteers.

Here are the requirements to Captain a team:
~ Collect $2,000. (They only accept one large payment.)
~ Know some people who want to do this with you.
~ Keep track of 11-16 people.
~ Interface with the Race Director about your team pace.
~ Pick a starting time based on team pace.
~ Find  more people to be runners/volunteers/drivers.
~ Be able to run at least 13 miles split into three smaller runs.
~ Be type A enough to keep all this straight.
~ Be type B enough to trust this will all work out ok.

It would be nice if:
~ You could find vans easily.
~ You live near either the start or finish line.
~ One or more of your runners can be a co-captain.
~ You could get team t-shirts cheaply and easily.
~ You have an understanding family who can take care of your pets/children for the weekend.
~ You know how to use Excel spreadsheets.

Other options:
~ Van drivers need to stay calm and put up with a van of runners, also directional skills are a plus.
~ Volunteers pick one location and do general race-helper stuff for 4-6 hours.
~ "Ultra" teams do all of this, just with 6 runners instead of 12. More miles, fewer people. Shenanigans.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ichi-go Ichi-e

(Aw, great. She's abandoned English altogether.)

In Japanese, "Ichigo Ichie" is directly translated as "One time. One meeting." It's a figure of speech that means that every time you meet a person you meet a new spirit- and that meeting is the only one that you've got. It's kinda like when they say "you never step into the same river twice" except with people. All people. Friends from college, spouses, kids, parents, coworkers, whoever.

It's a philosophy we cherish in our house. Since Stephan is a nurse and I'm a massage therapist we meet a lot of people. And we use this concept to deal with them. If you consider that you've only got this one chance to love this specific person right now, you become more mindful about how you treat them. Every encounter becomes something sacred. On a good day, we even remember to act this way with each other.

It's a concept that values that a person is ever-changing. Since I stepped out of the room and back into it, I've had 12 thoughts, done 3 things, and changed purpose 2 times. When I come back to the kitchen, I'm a different person (in time) than I was a few minutes ago.

But isn't it really hard to not carry in your mind all the things a person used to be? I suspect it's harder for women. We tend to keep a mental list of a person's characteristics and refer back to it all the time. Or maybe that's just me. Which is why I have to frequently remember Ichigo Ichie. It demands forgiveness. It demands second chances (and thirds, and fourths...). It requires Grace.

When I think back on all the moments I've had with people, sometimes I'm honored. Sometimes I'm ashamed. Sometimes I'm just confused. When I think about all the big relationships I've ever had, and then over-lay those memories with the weight of One Time, One Meeting, a song pops into my head. A lyric specifically:

Oh, but if you could, do you think you would trade it all? All the pain and suffering? But then you would have missed the beauty of the Light upon this earth and the sweetness of the leaving.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Overheard: In My Brain

Me: Hey Anna, how was your last day of therapy?

Me: Great! If you don't count the part where I bolted out at the end and cried in a stairwell for 5 minutes.

The awesome thing, though, is that I stood up after 5 minutes, got in the car, and did the rest of my day like a Boss. Sure, I could use a really long run right now. And maybe some rum (I'm skipping over wine). But all-in-all I'm confident that this is going to all be ok.

Friday, May 24, 2013

When Rags cost Riches

(hee hee. See what I did there? Oh, not yet? Hold on. You'll get it in a minute...)

So I'm coordinating a Ragnar team for next month's Madison to Chicago relay. It's 198 miles, with 12 runners, 2 vans, and 2 drivers. Stephan and I signed up together. Which is awesome. We dragged his 19 year-old niece along with us. So we make up 3 of the 12 runners.

Ready for the total?
Registration is $120 per runner.
Van rental + gas is $50 per runner.
Volunteer payment is $10 per runner.
Gear (lights, reflective vests) is about $30 per runner.

This has GOT to be one of the most expensive running experiences out there. But? Are we doing this? Aw yeah- we are TOTALLY doing this.

Being the team leader is pretty stressful. It's taking a lot of coordination. But I can't wait to get out there on the road!!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Sawyer finished 2 year old preschool last week. I didn't cry. It was like school with training wheels. Or really short day care. And that's all cool.

But next week? Next week I finish therapy. No, I'm not cured. Yes, I still have a lot of work to do to stay healthy. But for me, for now, this part is over. I have a giant list of tools I've been practicing with for the last 10 months. I've learned how to recognize a mood shift, how to be at peace with it, and how to weather the storm. I've put together all the pieces that make a complete picture of my life without the gaping holes that depression used to leave- and without the shattering, shaking, mess that the hypo-mania used to make out of everything.

Of course, this is all very dramatic for me right now. I've been relying on the practitioners so heavily for the last year that it's pretty scary to think of having a go at this without them. I've been walking with crutches for so long that, even though I know- I know- I can do this myself (and with the amazing support I've found from my family and friends), I'll definitely miss the extra hands.

And like everything in my life, there's a playlist for that:

"You hold me without touch, keep me without shame."

"I let you see the parts of me that weren't all that pretty. And with every touch you fixed them."

"I don't wanna be hurt. I just wanna be little old me. I don't wanna have to think, 'who am I supposed to be today?'"

"You just sit on your hands and quietly contemplate your next bold move: the next thing you're gonna have to prove to yourself."

"She says she talks to Angels. They call her out by her name."

"When I said I'd take it, I meant As Is."

"There's a hole in my pocket that's about her size. But I think everything's gonna be alright."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2am PSA

Should you talk to your doctor about your breast-cancer risks (especially after the Angelina Jolie news)? Absolutely. But don't forget: 

"Over a lifetime, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, the most common cancer in women, other than skin cancer."

Sun. Block. Runners.

Monday, May 13, 2013

"How Many Pins do I Need?"

[A post in progress]

This weekend was amazing. Let's go on a mental trip for a minute.

Do you remember your very first race? Do you remember the very first time you did anything that you now do on a regular basis (i.e. stand in front of a classroom full of kids, cut someone's hair, touch a naked person for money)? Do you remember the swirling thoughts?

"I trained for this."
"I can do this."
"I've done this before- this isn't so different from those other times."
"What on Earth am I doing here?"
"I don't belong here."
"Can I change my mind?"
"That's ok. I can do this."
"Just start. You know it'll go fast if you just start (talking, touching, running)."

You look around and see other people gliding in around you, comfortable in their skin, in their work, in the task at hand. Maybe you look away, not wanting to be distracted from your own movement through time. Maybe you stare intently at them, watching for a clue that will help you fit in better, a hint at how to proceed. Or are you just focused? Tunnel vision to get through the uncomfortable moment. Do you think that these first steps are the first of hundreds? Hundreds of runs, hundreds of classes, thousands of people touched? Does your mind open a little to see the expansive nature of what you will accomplish in the next few years (decades)?

Friday, May 10, 2013

X-Training Like a Boss

Uuuuuugggghhhhhhh. MMmmmmmuuuuuuggggghhhhhhhh. Sssssssssssssssshhhhhhhuuuuuuuuuuu.

I don't cross train. I see it on the schedule when I'm training for events, but I just assume the X means "do nothing" on those days. And R means "rest a lot". But Stephan started training for the Tough Mudder in September. I downloaded a two page training workout and posted it in the basement. He headed down there one afternoon and I figured I'd be supportive and hold the stopwatch for him. Each exercise is done for only one or two minutes.

I also enjoyed reading ahead and being able to demonstrate the moves for a few seconds so he wouldn't have to figure things out on his own. After the first 10 minutes I started chiming in with encouragement like, "Why are you breathing so hard?" and, "You're almost done. You should pick up the pace." If he could have spoken I think he would have told me to get off the couch and start spider-web climbing myself. But I was in comfy clothes. I didn't want to sweat in them.

So I took up the challenge myself yesterday, albeit, with a custom playlist of 1 and 2 minute songs spaced perfectly so I would know when to change exercises. And guys, I can't move. First of all, I barely survived the workout. It seemed insane that 60 seconds could hurt so badly. But holding a 60 second squat? Fire. Two straight minutes of shoulders-up-only jumping jacks? Puke-inducing. My calves are so tender right now, sitting in a chair is causing cramps. Don't get me wrong. I love it (see previous entries about mental illness). I just didn't expect something as simple as a 45 minute interval workout to so totally kick my ass.

Well played, exercise. Well played.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Overheard: Preschool Pickup

"Yeah, I like jogging. But I only do it for a month at a time and then I quit."

Let's review why this sentence was notable to me:

1. Jogging. No one jogs anymore. We run. Even if you're running a 13 minute mile, you're RUNNING. Joggers find dead bodies in parks. Runners collect t-shirts and medals. KEEP RUNNING!!!

2. One month of running. That's a warm-up. In 4 weeks you have just about established the groundwork for some serious mileage. After 4 weeks you can start speed work. Or start adding distance. After 4 weeks is when the magic happens. KEEP RUNNING!!!

3. Quitting. You're not quitting something if you keep doing it over and over again (i.e. drinking or smoking). You're just taking a break. Breaks happen. Sure. I don't have a problem with breaks. I take breaks all the time. Just don't quit. KEEP RUNNING!!!

Preschool mom and I don't run together. She's offered. But I've never run with a stranger before, and I'm nervous about being too slow. But this morning I handed her a pamphlet for the DetermiNation team. I told her that if she ever wanted to run a distance race they could train her to do it. Running for a charity adds a lot of things to a run. It keeps you accountable to people. If you quit, you let people down. It gives meaning to the miles you log- you're running to do some very real good in the world. And finishing the race is that much sweeter when you have an awesome fundraising total next to your name.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Different Type of Relay

Imagine two suburbans packed with Cancer survivors, and their friends, on a 198 mile journey. Where are they going? Back for yet another round of testing? To explore a new treatment center? A prevention study? A support group? Rehab? What are they wearing? Medical dressings? Wigs? Paper gowns? What are they talking about? Side-effects? Surgical scars?

No. These suburbans are packed with survivors DetermiNated to fight against cancer. DetermiNated to relay to Chicago. DetermiNated to celebrate the American Cancer Society's 100th birthday in a BIG way. DetermiNated to help Finish the Fight. They are all wearing DetermiNation Red, White, and Blue. They are talking about their next races, their fundraising activities, and their supportive friends and family who have been with them the whole way.

Team DetermiNation 1 is made up of 12 people- both survivors and supporters- who are committed to bringing awareness to the fantastic efforts of the American Cancer Society and its DetermiNation endurance running program. Watch for the vans with the In Memory Of ribbons floating in the breeze, and the Survivors charging down the course, celebrating yet another birthday.

Click the link to find out how you can help use my 5th year cancer-free to make some amazing contributions to an amazing charity:

This is the Link. Click here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Why? Run?

Buckle up. I'm going deep.

People have a lot of reasons why they run...
Maybe you've always run.
Maybe you wanted to try something new.
Maybe you admired a person who was a runner.
Maybe you saw a stranger running and felt a longing to do 'that'.
Maybe there's a dress you want to wear and figured running would help you fit into it.

Maybe you go out for a run because it's the most effective way to shut your brain off.
Maybe it helps you sort out all the thoughts rolling around in there.
Maybe the endorphin rush has become as much of a habit as a morning cup of coffee.

Maybe there's something deeper.
Maybe you're out there to prove something to yourself. You can do this. You can finish that last mile. You can put on that extra bit of kick to hit your goal pace. You can slow down enough to add the distance you look for. You're strong enough. You're tough enough. You're good enough. You are enough.

Maybe it's someone else. There might be someone out there whose face you picture as you put your shoes on. Or when the run gets hard. Someone to who you can't wait to casually mention, "aw, yeah, it was just a 4 mile shake-out run. No big deal." Someone who inspires you because you want to prove something to them. That you aren't who they think you are. Or that you can be who you want to be when you're with that person. Like you're fooling them. But if you're fooling them to the benefit of your own health, then it's ok. Right?

Something is inspiring your run. Does it even matter why you're out there, as long as you are out there?