Go, Just Go! 1500 Miles by the End of the Year

milesFacebook reminded me of the highlights of my year yesterday. And from the photos selected, one might infer I did nothing but run all year. I know I did other things (school for one), but so far this year, I have run 1431 miles, more or less. A few months ago, I did some calculations and determined that with a little effort, I could eke out 1500 miles by year’s end. At the beginning of November, I was only 260 miles, or 130 miles per month, away from my goal. Since July, I’d been logging 130-135 miles easily, and I finished November with 134 miles, meaning I’d only have to run 126 miles in December. Piece of cake, no?

2015 so far
2015 so far

Why 1500 miles? It’s a nice, fat, juicy, round number. It represents five pairs of shoes—generally speaking each pair of running shoes lasts me about 300 miles. So far this year, I’ve gone through at least five pairs of shoes and I currently am rotating between three pairs: my Brooks Glycerin 12s for road runs, my Brooks Cascadia 10s for trail runs, and my new Brooks Ghost GTX (Gortex) for rainy days. Recently I’ve become pretty tight with the Gortex shoes—dry feet are happy feet.

Fifteen hundred miles represents about 577 laps around Lake Padden, my favorite route. Now, obviously I haven’t run all of my miles at Padden, but I’d venture to guess (oh, I don’t have to guess, my Nike app will tell me exactly) I’ve run 1105 miles around the lake so far this year or 425 laps. Damn. That’s a lot of laps! The rest of the miles have been sprinkled around a few other trails in Bellingham, in the Methow Valley, down the Oregon Coast, through Beaverton, and along the beach in Rincon Guayabitos, Mexico.

The view running along Netarts Bay in Oregon
The view running along Netarts Bay in Oregon
mexico
Running on the beach in Rincon Guayabitos, Mexico

Fifteen hundred miles signifies serious commitment and translates to over 170,000 calories burned at an average pace of 9:55/mile. I’ll admit, I’m a stats whore. Honestly, as a writer, and an English major, I wouldn’t have guessed numbers would be so important to me, but these numbers have gripped my imagination, and I can’t seem to not care about them.

Lake Padden Relay, ran solo. 10.4 miles.
Lake Padden Relay, ran solo. 10.4 miles.

So, here it is, December 17th, and I’ve managed to get in 68 miles. Last month I had closer to 75 miles after 17 days. But last month did not have gale force winds and driving rain nearly every day, all day, for weeks on end. Not that the weather has kept me from running. No, mostly it’s been a scheduling problem. Only twice have I chickened out and retreated to the warmth of my bed—but those two times represent the missing miles. What I’ve discovered is that running in the rain is never nearly as bad as I think it will be. But with Christmas coming up and some traveling in my future, I’m not sure I am going to make it. I’ve been doubling down on the miles when I can manage it, and I’ve been cramming in short runs when I don’t have time for long ones. Still. I guess the question now is, can I be okay with falling a few miles short of 1500?

Smelt Run in LaConner with April and Karen
Smelt Run in LaConner with April and Karen

I had the same goal last year and I came within 40 miles of 1500. I was fine because I know that 1460 miles is still a hell of a lot of miles, far more than I ever expected I would cover in a year. In fact, in 2012 I realized in early December that if I really applied myself, I would be able to post a total of 365 miles that year, or a mile a day. Admirable, I thought then. Until I sat in a writing workshop next to a woman who introduced herself as a marathon runner. I told her about my goal, and I asked her how many miles she ran in a year. “Two thousand,” she said. “If not more.”

Lake Padden, in full fall foliage
Lake Padden, in full fall foliage
Whatcom Falls, running low
Whatcom Falls, running low

“Oh,” I replied. “That’s a lot.” I did the math in my head—that’s a little more than five miles a day, every single day of the year. At the outset of 2015, I toyed with committing to running 2015 miles in 2015, but then a friend reminded me that would be about six miles a day every day, and I decided, as much as I love running and enjoy a challenge, I probably did not have it in me. No sense in signing up for something I was destined to fail from the outset. In fact, even though I had amassed so many miles in 2014, I did not have the confidence that I would be able to repeat my success the following year. I have this same sinking feeling at the beginning of each month when the Nike app sets the miles run back to zero and I have to watch them slowly amass, day by day, mile by mile.

Tulip Run
Tulip Run

I know I might seem a little obsessed with my statistics. I do love looking back and seeing the numbers: the miles, the times, the distance. It’s not about competition, only about how far I’ve come. How much I’ve improved. And lately, I’ve forgone races, realizing I don’t need the additional anxiety, tuning more into my own rhythms these days, running in order to feel good, to quell whatever anxiety I have in other areas of my life.

Sunrise from Taylor Dock
Sunrise from Taylor Dock

So, yes, Facebook. I have done a lot of running this year. And if I make 1500 miles, so much the better. If not, there’s always next year.

Cami and Pam at Whatcom Falls
Cami and Pam at Whatcom Falls

 

Y is for Yes!

Last November, Bellingham hosted its very first TEDx event, Here by Choice. Many terrific speakers made this an unforgettable day and though I didn’t plan ahead well enough to attend in person, I did watch most of it via live stream on the Intertubes. I was inspired, moved, educated, motivated.

One talk still resonates with me these many months later: Galen Emanuele’s Improv to be a Better Human Being which you can watch here.  I didn’t come away from watching Galen thinking I would make a great sidekick to Wayne Brady, Drew Carey, or Ryan Stiles. I came away with a newfound respect for the power of the word Yes.

Galen begins his talk by asking the audience a few simple questions: would you want to increase joy in your life if you could? Do you have someone in your life, who, when you tell them you are going on vacation, they say “aw man, you suck!” Is there someone else who shoots down every passionate idea you come up with?

Negativity, Galen tells us, sucks the energy right out of great ideas. Saying no halts progress and destroys an idea. According to Galen, the principles of improv offer a better approach. Improv depends on the principle of “yes, and” and operate on a handful of basic tenets:

  • Say yes
  • Make others look good
  • Be positive and optimistic

When I finished watching Galen’s presentation (back in November and just now, for a refresher), I determined that I would begin the New Year with a commitment to saying yes. I decided I would not let no be my default answer, the first response that crossed my mind and my lips.

Saying yes can be scary. The first thing I consciously said yes to was to The Haiku Room—Yes, I would accept the invitation offered and agree to write a haiku a day for the entirety of 2014. I’d never written a line of poetry in my life. I did not see myself as any kind of poet. What if I failed? What if the real poets laughed at me? I said yes anyway, in spite of my fears. Now, I cannot imagine these past four months without my haiku family, real and virtual. What a gift saying yes to haiku has been.

The next thing I consciously said yes to was an invitation from my friend Cami to run in a 10K race the first weekend of January. I hadn’t been running in four months as I was trying to recover from some heel injuries, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to jumpstart my way back into running with a 6 mile race. And Cami runs marathons—I’d never be able to keep up. She cajoled and then I remembered my commitment to say yes. I had a great race—I loved running with Cami, and that run launched me to another level of running. We finished that run in about an hour and 7 minutes.

My friend April is training for a half marathon next week and asked if I wanted to do her long training runs with her. I’d never run more than seven miles, but I said yes to a 9 mile run, and then I said yes to an 11 mile run. I just ran a 10K this weekend in 54 minutes because I said yes to running this year.

Not everything that I’ve said yes to has turned out to be amazing and awesome, but nothing has been awful either. I’ve had experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had. I’ve stepped way, way, way outside of my comfort zone and discovered that, huh, nothing bad happened. I survived no worse for the wear and maybe even a little wiser.

I’ve made friends. I’ve written more than 50 blogs (because I said yes to two blog challenges) and more than a hundred haikus. I’ve discovered that I can run around Lake Padden twice and even three times and that really, it’s not a bad run from Squalicum Harbor to Fairhaven Park and back again. I’ve learned that I can be honest, tell my truth, stand my ground and that the world will not crumble. In fact, just the opposite happens—I find renewed strength and support.

So, give Yes a try—commit to saying yes, to being positive, to building others up. I highly recommend it. Take 12 minutes and watch Galen Emanuele’s TEDx Talk—say yes. You’ll be glad you did: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhkcmN-CCYw

Argo F*ck Yourself!

The Little Woman and I decided to venture out tonight–big Saturday night, dinner and a movie at the new megaplex in town.  As is always the case, we left plenty of time to dine and get to the theater to secure decent seats. In the megaplex foyer, we ran into our friend Leslie and stopped by the gumball machines for a handful of M&Ms and some Mike & Ikes.  Nancy only got five Mikes & Ikes for her fifty cents, so as she went to complain to the manager (hey, money is tight for the grad student), I mosied on in to find us some seats.

I snagged a couple of new comfy seats close to the aisle and not far from the door. Not great seats, but good enough ones, where we got to enjoy the befuddled faces of the latecomers as they discovered a rather crowded, but by no means sold out, venue.

The woman next to me had her purse in the seat between us, and TLW had a single seat next to her.  As more and more Hamsters dawdled in late (Bellingham Time, five minutes after it starts), we could feel their beady little eyes staring at us and the empty seats next to us.  There were PLENTY of seats down in front, but somehow even the latecomers felt entitled to the good seats, the UP seats as opposed to the DOWN seats. Our seats, rather than the empty seats.

A sense of relief flooded over me as the previews started and no one had asked us to move. Bellingham is the sort of town where people kind of expect to be rewarded for tardiness, but I’d decided I wasn’t going to move even if someone did ask.  We always get to where ever we are going early.  Always.  Both of us, even separately, are perpetually early.  Sometimes it’s awkward sitting alone in an empty theater 45 minutes before the movie begins, but sometimes–like tonight–early arrival pays off.

So, smugness settled over me (and probably TLW as well) as we watched latecomers try to figure out how they could possibly rearrange us early arrivers to accommodate their late asses.

“I’m not moving,” I said to TLW.  She nodded her assent.  And so, when the first brazen late couple asked if anyone was sitting in the seat next to me I said “Nope.”

“Will you move over so we can sit here?” she asked.

“Nope,” I shook my head. “There are plenty of seats down there.”  I jutted my chin toward the front. “I planned ahead,” I announced. “I’m not moving.”

TLW nodded in agreement.  “Should have got here earlier,” she added.

The late couple kind of stared at us and turned in confused circles before settling into the “Reserved for Handicapped” seats right in front of us. Good move, I thought.  See, that wasn’t so bad, I wanted to say.

More previews rolled and more people trickled in, most of whom sighed and settled in to the seats closer to the front.  One entitled couple, however, espied our empty seats and headed for us.  I braced myself and gathered my resolve. 2013 just became the Year of No.

When the guy asked if anyone was sitting next to me, I told him he’d have to ask the woman who belonged to the purse.  He did.  She grimaced and moved her purse grudgingly.

He asked me to move over.  I shook my head no.

“Then we will sit on either side of you,” he said.

“Fine, go ahead,” we said.

“Fuck you,” he said and stomped away.

Meanwhile, the first annoying couple had turned in their seats to watch, as if this confrontation would turn out any better than theirs had.  I think they were disappointed.

These people certainly had some cajones, asking us to move. They weren’t elderly or differently abled. They were just freaking late. They should have said no to dessert or maybe driven their Subarus a little faster to get there on time.

I made a choice to leave early.  They can make the same choice  Or not. But their failure to plan does not confer any responsibility on me.

Like Alan Arkin said many times in the film:  “Argo Fuck Yourself.”

p.s. Good movie.  Two thumbs up,  Suspenseful, edge of your seat.  Great 70s outfits, great 70s technology.  Highly recommend you get there early.