Rhythm

I 100% agree with all these reflections and so often feel the same way. Thanks for the reminder that running is in fact a journey, and a lot will happen along the way – we just need to enjoy every step.

Reflective Running

One thing running reminds you of or teaches you is the rhythm of life. Yes, running is metrical in its own cadence, but for most running is just a smaller piece of the larger compositions of our lives. Without trying to get too prosaic, running is a great reflection of the whole journey/destination twosome conundrum. Running is a journey with some sort of destination.

Now the danger and issue with the question of whether it’s the journey or the destination that matters is flawed in its expectation of a set answer.The answer is both.

People’s answers exist along a spectrum. Take the example of running. For some, the journey of running is less important than the destination of reaching a certain time or competing in a marathon or beating a record, etc.. For others, like me, it’s more about the act of running itself as an escape. The destination is a…

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Time to heel.

Once upon a time there was a girl who’d only had one running-related injury (and not even from running directly, just spending too much time barefoot and then … well, okay, too many miles pounding on a funky foot), had run well in high school (“the glory days”), and was now running in college, trying to keep up on schoolwork, enjoy the independence of college, and adjusting to the South. That being said, she was running in an entirely new program and was able to run new/different events than in high school now that she was a big bad NCAA athlete. Fast forward through her whole freshman year (I keep saying there will be a recap, but I’m keeping up the element of surprise, okay?) and into summer, now I’m she’s working, has an internship, and still running … okay, “training,” as Coacher wants us to think of it.

Sounds great and perfect and pretty cool that a girl with a passion for the sport could continue to the next level of competition and that all her first year of running would be setting PRs and winning championship races, right? *cue button sound* ERRRRRNT. Wrong. Gaining weight during the first year of college, less sleep, more running, more school stress, all of it = my running (secrets out, that girl is/was me!) just isn’t at the same level that it used to be, or where it needs to and should be. I ran the steeplechase this spring a few times, but ultimately it was the hurdling and non-stop running that has led to some heel pain. Plantar fasciitis, nothing special.

Wake up in the morning = ow.

Standing up and walking after time sitting down = ow.

Trying to roll out the knots in my heel itself = OW.

Running on a “bad day” = ow.

So yeah, months of pain = ow ow ow.

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A play on words, but also a title that means exactly what it’s supposed to. Heel (with a double E, but not my excited sound “EEEE!”) as in my literal left foot, and also a focus on needing time to heal, just like you might have read the title and guessed. Time to heal my heel. Get it, got it, good?

Merriam-Webster gives the definition of heal (verb): “to cause (an undesirable condition) to be overcome.” As little as I like being in pain or even saying the word “injury” or admitting to not being 100% healthy, I like that definition! Any type of injury, even as a non-runner or athlete, is totally undesirable. Last time I checked, most people don’t like being in pain, and definitely not if they can prevent it. Being so, any running related pain I’ve had in the past (& heck even now!), I always put off seeing the doctor or taking time off from running – they’ll just tell me to take some time off & I can’t do that!! (No, I’m not stubborn. Why would you think that?)

Plantar Fasciitis 

“It involves pain and inflammation of a thick band of tissue, called the plantar fascia, that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes … Plantar fasciitis is particularly common in runners.”

Okay, stop there. The trainers at Emory along with the certified doctor/podiatrist himself all agreed that my heel is the issue. Since I’m stubborn (who knew?) and have gone to the same doctor with any/all foot issues, he knew that I couldn’t (more like wouldn’t) be open to taking any time off of running, and especially not while training for cross country this fall – when Coacher says he’s going to cap your mileage at 70 miles/week, you believe him and run as hard as you can to get in shape for those weeks to come. So finally to the “healing” part of this story (if you know me, this rambling should be expected, whoops), that’s where we’re at now.

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“Didn’t you know? PT stands for pain and torture. I was supposed to keep going from my foot after surgery, but I only went a few times then stopped.” – my mom

“You can maybe try and do a short run afterwards.” – Doctor Wright

Just a couple of the encouraging things I’ve heard so far about starting physical therapy for the fasciitis, along with the fact that (apparently) I also have very poor ankle range of motion because of my tight calves. Not sure what all that foam rolling does then, sir. Not to have attitude, but just to play it off that I’m nervous. As if my days could get any busier, and since my cute small town is really that small, I have to drive about 40 minutes to be tortured. Somehow my life is always busy and seems to be on the go – not sure who’s plan that was, but not sure that it’s always been mine!

I’m all about new experiences and learning from them, and trusting that if I put in hard work then things will be okay and all that, so maybe I should listen to myself. It’s frusturating to have this nagging, often sharp pain all the time. For months. Even when NOT running. So, it’s time to heal the heel. It’s time to enjoy running again because I haven’t for so long and most days I hate it, it feels like a chore. It’s time to be more positive and motivated. It’s time to enjoy the opportunities in my life, the people around who so often offer their support and love to my grumpy/stressed out/tired/busy/etc. self, and move forward … pain-free. Because I owe it to those who want the best for me.

Oh, and according to Urban Dictionary (obviously the most trustworthy source), heel: (n) In professional wrestling, a “bad” guy. So maybe if the whole running thing doesn’t work out, it’s time to be a heel. ;-)

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Until next time,

Gabby

Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.

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Meet Andrea.

Don’t let looks deceive you. At first glance she may just seem to be a goofy teenage girl wearing a unicorn bike helmet, but in reality, she is much more than that.

Since this blog started, Andrea has shown up in pictures and the “teammate” that I often mention, is her. Since we both like to run … okay, we’re kind of obsessed … we spend A LOT of time together. From cross country practices, track practice, band functions, and seeing eachother at school everyday (in high school that is), team camp, White Pass cross country camp, going on dates (we’re a “sismance” – similar to a “bromance” ;-), and all other adventures along the way.

I started this blog post over a year ago, and since falling off the face of the blogging planet, didn’t ever finish it. Maybe I’ve introduced a lot of people on the blog recently, but it might be better to get used to that fact … I haven’t even started to recap my first year of college running. ;-)

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So, yeah. You’ll generally find us in running clothes, sharing super healthy/yummy recipes we find online, obsessing over cute runners who range from boys on the local track team to professional athletes (we met Andrew Wheating and even got a picture with his tall wonderful self *melt*), complaining about running or different aspects of school, and now that a year has passed since I graduated and we will BOTH college students this coming fall? I’m sure there will be many more adventures to be had, talked about, and memories remembered.

Since I’ve been back from college this summer, she’s finished high school and (officially, with grad cap, billowy gown, grad party filled weekends, and all) GRADUATED this past weekend. *cue celebratory cheers* We will still be on opposite sides of the country next year since she is attending the University of Washington, but after a year away, I appreciate my partner-in-crime more than ever. Listening to her speech at graduation (because she’s super smart AND attractive AND nice AND involved AND the list goes on …), I appreciate her sarcastic wit and fun self all the more. Sometimes you meet people and connect with them on a level different from anyone else. We haven’t talked a ton this year, but with the help of different social media sites and texting, I’ve kept an eye on the girl who’s NOT eye level anymore. #tallgirlproblems

Maybe this blog post was supposed to center on a certain memory or trait of Andrea when I first had the idea and started to write, but now it’s more of a rambling “you’re the best/congrats/good luck/have a good summer/thank you for being an awesome teammate, friend, other half of our “sismance,” Tweedle, fellow adventurer, competitor, and teacher” post. Oops.

To sum it alllllll up, for even those of you who haven’t met Andrea (you’re missing out, let me tell ya), or maybe stumbled upon this blog and don’t even know ME (not missing out, let me tell ya), then just think of this … all of the people you’ll meet in your life, whether it ends up a good or bad experience, whether it’s a random introduction at a restaurant with a waiter to a long-term relationship, and no matter how you feel about someone in the moment or your connection with them, you can learn from each and every one of those individuals – learning about them or, most often, yourself.

Since leaving for college I’m so much more grateful for those people that I’ve known for a longer amount of time who are my support system, those people I’ve met for the first time and have gotten closer to, as well as those people I’ve briefly spent time with, but have had a profound impact on me. Andrea is a perfect example of someone who I’ve been blessed to get to know, spend a lot of time with, and am always learning (on both sides of things) from. Thanks for everything (since I know you’ll actually read this). :-)

P.S: Don’t forget … You’re #1!!!

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Until next time,

Gabby

What’s up, Doc?

Never been a huge fan of Bugs Bunny, but I love his one liner and honestly? It fits this blog PERFECTLY. Maybe you’re thinking that I’ve been to the doctor this past week (this IS a running blog & I do actually need to go to the doctor – more on that later), but you would be wrong on that! Using this blog like it was first created for, to share experiences I’ve had through running. Readers (if there are any of you out there besides my grandma), this is one story that you have to promise not to report to the police click away from before reading about the groundbreaking (*ba dum pshh*) opportunity my teammates and I had last track season.

Part 1: Planting the seeds (not literally, not yet)

So, to start. It was a rainy week in the beginning of May (haha I’d say the exact day but I’m still not sure if we can get in trouble) and track season was winding to a close with a few weeks left. I’d say don’t ask me how the idea came to us, but let’s just assume that the post-run or post-workout endorphins got to our heads, and my distance teammates and I started thinking about silly things having to do with the track and football field. Somehow it came up that we talked about farming and planting flowers or different vegetables in the green, luscious, fertilized, well watered, perfectly sunny (and shaded, mind you) patches of the football field. Can you see where this is going? The idea of coming back the track on a summer day for a run only to  … “lo and behold! A patch of sunflowers beginning to show by the goal post – how beautiful!” Yeah, that was pretty much the coolest thing ever to think about happening. I mean, who says I had anything to do with it? Maintenance could just mow them down anyway.

[Sidenote: Whenever it rains a lot, the grass field ALWAYS floods. Did I mention that the field is unevenly sloped? Since we live in western Washington, that seems to happen a lot, too … go figure. I remember one time it when the drains got clogged (so bad that there was standing water all the way out into lane 4 on the track!) that one of our track coaches had to wade through it all & try to clear the drain with a rake that’s usually used for the sand in the long jump pit. Hahaha best. thing. ever.]

Part 2: Planting the seeds (literally)

It didn’t take too many little comments, jokes, and conversations before we realized that planting seeds in the football field could potentially be the best thing anyone from our high school had ever done – assuming we were successful of course! Maybe the fact that it was my senior year, I graduated in less than a month, and there was no punishment that could keep me from my diploma was extra incentive too, but who knows now. We really had no clue what would happen if we got caught or anything like that, but just that the distance track team and cross country kids would always be remembered for having planted some type of vegetable on the football field. Epic.

All we needed now was the seeds! Within a few days, we had them! None of us knew about the growing seasons for different vegetables or plants, so our decided team botanist (who will not be named here for sake of privacy *cough Andrea*) came back with packets of CARROTS! Again, see where I’m going with this?

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Part 3: Planting our literal carrot seeds (& all the while not getting caught)

I think it was the day before a meet, or some sort of practice that was pretty relaxed and allowed us to goof off a bit (or maybe it was a normal day, not sure). Either way, giggling the entire time, we managed to grab the packets of carrot seeds and give handfuls to each of our teammates. As we ran barefoot around the track we would drop them, “tie our shoes” (“wait I thought you just said you were running barefoot?” – exactly, my friends. We were really good about not being suspicious), and randomly inspect the sides of the track and in the most UNSUSPICIOUS OR WEIRD way, dig little holes and plant carrot seeds into the football field. I mean, we thought we were being sneaky about it & looking back at it? I’m sure that the other track kids and coaches thought that whatever the distance kids were up to wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Obviously the reputation we had for ourselves was to be a little strange, but I’m not arguing with that. How can I?!

Part 4: Waiting for out little carrots to grow (so we could snack on them after running track workouts)

For the next few weeks of the season we would occasionally go the spots we planted out seeds and dig a little, thinking we saw sprouts and growth – that we were making our way into the record books for our amazing idea. Once track season ended, I continued to check the grass before leaving for college later that summer. No little green sprouts that I saw. No carrots. Sorry Bugs.

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Whether any carrots grew or not, even just a centimeter or two, I guess we’ll never know … but I like to think we had some success. I was reminded of this awesome day of planting and my wild teammates a few weeks ago when I heard that my high school’s field was being replaced with turf. The real grass is now gone (along with any future chances to plant anything). We took hold of the opportunity while we could and like I said, as far as I’m concerned, some construction guy was probably pretty confused to see a few carrots piled in the dump trucks as they pulled away with the last of the old field & the old memory of the Monte distance runners who just wanted a bit more Vitamin A in their lives.

Until next time,

Gabby

Thanks to “Kevin.”

   

Remember this guy? His name is Kevin … Or at least that’s the name he would use when spamming my blog with comments! He’s one of my closest friends & teammates – showing up on the blog a few times when cross country & track were in full swing. We’ve had our share of memories over the years from summer runs turning into allergic reaction emergencies, getting lost & having adventures (MOST runs with him involved were always exciting – examples: stuffing a mini vacuum cleaner in a mailbox, forging new trails, carrying a watermelon around town), participating in the first ever Monte XC chocolate milk mile, singing loudly to popular songs on the radio, stalking our track crushes (or rather he made fun of my other teammate & I for that!), & the list truly goes on forever. 

Right now, and for the past 2 years, “Kevin” has been on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was called to serve in Nashville, Tennessee and has had so many incredible opportunities & experiences as a missionary. It has been challenging, humbling at times, and a life-changing decision to be of service to all those around him and share the gospel. Since he’s coming home in September (YAY!!!!!!!), I asked in an email how he was doing as this special time in his life was coming to an end. His response was perfect: a runner’s perspective on enduring hard things. 

 

“First, how am I? Haha, You know how at the final stretch of the last lap of running the mile, there’s this constant battle between your heart and your body, where your heart just wants to give every single ounce of what you have to finish strong, and you know that you will feel the absolute best when you are done if you give it your all, but yet you still have to really fight this little voice in your head that tells you to just let off the gas and cruise at the end? I hope that just made sense. I think that’s what I kind of feel like right now, I just have to keep good form, and make every second count!”

What else can I say to that? The last lap of the mile, that fight within yourself? I totally understand the feeling. That being so, I always ask when we talk, if there is anything I can do to help in anyway. His response, yet again, was running related, personal, & very telling of the person “Kevin” is, and has always been. 

“… If I remember right, you told me once that you really disliked the most of the general shouts of encouragement from random other people when you were nearing the end of a race because it didn’t do anything to help your ability to run harder. I’m with in agreement with ya on that, except for when the encouragement came from the select few of those people that knew me well, then it really helped me keep finishing strong.”


Well “Kevin,” I guess I’ll just have to remember to keep my form, relax, and breathe as I continue missing one of my best friends and teammates. To remember your advice as I face college cross country training, working a part-time job, volunteering, being a loving & hard working daughter, helpful research program mentor, pen pal, friend, & all other roles in my life this summer. Oh, and what was that last bit?

Make every second count! :-)

  

Until next time,

Gabby 

They’re MINE.

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Every day of the week of every month in the year. Every season and every temperature. Covered by snow, frozen by ice, sloppy with mud, and overgrown. On days I feel fast and fit, they challenge and push me to be better than before. When I’m tired, or just out of shape and sluggish, the tight turns and hills are the best training partner.

These are the trails I always talk about.

I’ve prayed more in the shade of the trees than any other holy place. More tears have been shed, arguments remembered, and feelings of fear than any bad news, fight, or event could cause. Sometimes I talk out loud to myself, a little embarrassed at first that someone will hear me, that is, before I remember where I am … (although I’m sure there are some hikers out there who think that I’m crazy). The trails and I have shared more inside jokes, heart-to-hearts, angry rants, and frustrated questionings than I have with even my closest friends. They make me happy, and help me to relax, vent, etc … Every. Single. Time.

These trails are my best friend.

Over the years, the trails have changed. From old growth trees cleared by logging, various fallen trees to climb over, puddles that are shin deep (Sidenote: I took off my shoes and socks to wade through this one, haha!), and even the addition of larger pebble gravel over the old … the changing of the trails is often random, swift, and without my approval. I’m not happy about the new lack of shade, changing of the terrain, or anything different than what I’ve known before. Call me nostalgic, but I cherish the memories of my trails from the beginning, as I knew them: covered in roots, single-track, incredibly green and lush, quiet, shaded, and a sanctuary that moves with you for miles.

These trails are my home.

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I can run forever without seeing another person. Sure there are cougars, geese, snakes, bunnies and the like, but most of the time it is just you and the path you’re on. There is something special about being alone out in nature. Those days when you don’t want to be seen, and even the streets of a small town seem too busy, the single-track loops are always open and waiting. So many times have I reached a point in my run where I have to stop, not because I am too tired to go on, but because where I am is so beautiful and still – where you can see trees reaching endlessly, untouched and perfect wilderness, in every sense of the word.

These trails are my definition of beauty.

I’ve never listened to music while running – how else would I hear nearby hikers, birds, the squish of wet and muddy shoes, or the rustling of brush as I run by? Instead, my mind is free, to be free. Instead I’ve written blog posts, scholarships, letters, poems, and rehearsed conversations. Talked to myself, or really, to my trails.

No, they’re not lawfully mine. I don’t own the land or the trails in any legal way. And ocourse I want others to use the trails and experience them, I just choose to be selfish and call them my own because the personal experiences I’ve had over the past 6 years as a runner, the trails have become so important in my own life. Truly. I’ve given each route a name based on my teammates and own crazy mind, I know the exact times it takes for me to run a route, I think about them when bored of running pavement loops and out and backs, when I run what other people consider “trails,” and on any day that my shoes look too clean – always having the memories of running the trails on rainy, perfectly gray, and utterly miserable Washington days.

These trails never get boring, no matter how many times I run them. The same way with my body, there is always some way for me to become stronger over the hills and across tricky footing.

Cokeley loop, C500, X-Line, White Gate, “Over the Hill,” Ridge, Campfire loop, Watershed, “that run with the yellow gate, incredible view, and the extra hill I like to add,” West Fork – that’s where you’ll find me.

These trails are my training partner, sanctuary, best friend, my home.

These are my trails.

 

(And yes, I ran on them today.)

Until next time,

Gabby