Running


While I was out for a run yesterday (no, this is not a running post — those really are all over here), one of my neighbors stopped to introduce herself and chat with me. We ended up talking for about 15 minutes, during which time she gave me what seemed like her life story. She’s lived her for 15 years and loves the neighborhood but wishes she knew more people. She said she only knows about 5 families in the neighborhood, even after all this time.

I told her how the possibility of not knowing our neighbors concerned me when we moved here and that I’ve been trying to meet people and be friendly. And she said, “Oh, yeah, you’re very friendly. We’ve waved to each other several times!” At that, I laughed and said something about how people must think I’m a big dork, waving to everyone. She just laughed with me (at me?) and did one of those little “oh, no” type hand waves.

But she didn’t say that people don’t think I’m a dork.

So, that left me wondering.

We finished our conversation and I headed out to finish my run. As I crested one of the big hills in the neighborhood, a couple and their dog was walking toward me. We’ve waved before — they in their car, me running or pushing Conal in the stroller. As we got closer to each other, I decided to see if they would wave before I did. Because I was thinking that maybe people do think I’m a dork with all the waving. Maybe they find it annoying, who knows?

The couple waved, and I waved back. Then the woman said, “Good morning,” and the man said, “Great morning for a run, huh?” Huh, is right! I gave them a cheery, if breathy, “Good morning!” back and followed it with a, “Sure is!” and off I went.

And then I saw another woman, whom I’ve chatted with before, and we exchanged a few “Good mornings.”

Now, I’m wondering what I can do to take this friendliness to the next level. How can I really get to know these people? Owen has suggested that we have a party and invite all the neighbors, with the sole purpose of getting to know them. That seems very counter to my personality. But, it might work.

I’m looking for ideas. Do you have any? Will you share them?

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The Mommy needed her space. And, in reality, the Runner did, too. Two months into this thing, the Runner had started to take over. She was always hocking the Mommy with her pleas of, “Let me write a post! The readers need variety. They need to read about something other than toddlers toddling around, doing all those toddler things that toddlers do.” The Mommy disagreed and tried to stand firm. This was her blog and the Runner needed to step aside. And she told her so. But then, the Runner would keep at it — hocking, hocking, hocking — and the Mommy would give in.

Once the Mommy gave the Runner a post, the Runner wanted another one. And another. Soon, the Runner was asking to post everyday but the Mommy fought hard and wouldn’t let her. “No,” she’s say. “You can’t post again. The readers don’t come here looking for stories about how idiotic you were when you raced in your 20s. They want to read cute stories about adorable toddlers. Maybe another time.” The Mommy, after all, had things of her own to say.

There were arguments. Some days, the Mommy and the Runner stopped talking to each other. The Mommy would post and the Runner would sulk. And then the Runner would start in again — begging for just one post. Or just one paragraph in one post. A sentence! The Runner begged for just one sentence!

Finally, the Mommy decided she’d had enough. “That’s it!” she shouted. “I don’t want to hear about your silly little runs and how happy you were with your “time” in your damn race! You have to leave! Just, go! Find your own blog, Runner!”

Then, being the Mommy that she is, she felt a little bad. Felt that maybe she was being a little harsh. She looked at the Runner and waited for her to ask the Mommy to let her stay. There was no way, the Mommy thought, that the Runner would go. No way that the Runner would venture down the information superhighway all by herself.

The Mommy was wrong.

The Runner considered the Mommy’s words and decided that they made sense. Maybe it was time for the Runner to move on. Had she been mucking up the Mommy’s site? Taking away from its focus? It seemed so. “Well,” the Runner thought, “I need my own focus.” And so she stood up. “I will go it alone.”

The Runner started to walk away and, as she did, a smile came over her face. She was going it alone and she was happy about it. So, she picked up the pace, and began to run. She was now The Happy Runner.

Along with 3400 other running gals, I ran the Freihofer’s Run for Women 5K yesterday. It was my first race in about 8 months and it was fun! I finished in 24:16, about a minute faster than I ran my last race.

While I was busy running the race, Conal found some new pals to hang out with:

But, he and Owen were waiting for me after the race and it was great to see them after I crossed the finish line:

We had some errands to run in the afternoon and while out and about we saw Janis, Chet and Ava at Target. Conal loves to see his friend, Ava! Of course, Conal loves to see most kids — as we witnessed when we went out to dinner to top off our day. There was a little girl about Conal’s age sitting at the table next to ours and Conal was quite excited about that. He and the girl waved to each other, said “hi” (repeatedly!) and just generally communicated in that toddler way that only seems to make sense to other toddlers. It was very cute.

So, it was my birthday and starting it with a race and spending it with Owen and Conal was just perfect.

PS: Owen and Conal were “seen” by the Times Union!

*This post is part of the Runners Lounge Take it and Run Thursdays series.

I have a love/hate relationship with running in the heat. My other relationships are more straightforward: It’s all love/love with running in the cool, the crisp and the warm; same for running hills. And races? Monster crush.

On the other hand, it is hate/hate with running in the cold and the rainy.

But this post is about running in the heat for Runners Lounge TIART. So, what about the heat? For me, since I hate running in the cold, the heat is preferable. My muscles warm up easily so I can get into the groove of a run quicker than I can on cooler days. And once you get used to running in the heat, it isn’t as bad as you might think. But problems can arise if you are not prepared for the heat. I learned this the hard way back when I was a novice (read: pretty dumb) runner in the mid-1990s.

I was living in the Big Apple and had recently started running again after not doing much of anything physical since college. A co-worker talked me into running in the Corporate Challenge. As it happened, the race took place in the middle of the summer on the hottest evening ever. Being NYC and all, there were a million runners in the race and all the body heat raised the temperature on the race route a good, I don’t know, let’s say 30-40 degrees. So, not only was it the hottest evening ever, but the race route was on fire!

And, I was a novice. I ran and ran and tried to pass people I thought I should run faster than and I didn’t take water at the water stops — I just kept running until I started to get the chills right before the third mile. Feeling a little funky, I kept on running, figuring it was just that I was pushing hard. I was a speed demon! And then I looked at my arms and they were covered in goose-bumps. But I pushed on — I was flying! And then the chills got worse. Soon enough, I didn’t think I could really feel my legs.

I gave in and started to walk. I walked until I could see the finish line and then I ran again, so I wouldn’t feel like a complete jerk for not being able to run the 3.5 mile race. Once across the line, I booked it toward the refreshments and sucked down water and, if I remember correctly, some oranges.

While the worst of the bad feelings passed fairly quickly after re-hydrating, I felt awful for the rest of the night and still felt off the next morning. Looking back, I think I felt so bad because I realized just how stupid I had been for a) obviously not training enough for the race, b) running beyond my abilities and c) not respecting the heat.

OK, so what have I learned about running in the heat and humidity? A few things:

  1. Don’t run a race that you aren’t prepared for. That’s probably not a good idea in any conditions but it is definitely something not to do on hot days.
  2. Don’t let your loose muscles lure you into running too fast — whether you are on a training run, in a race or just out for some easy miles.
  3. Respect the heat! Sure, you can go out for a run in warm weather and feel great and start to motor. But, the heat will get you if you run too hard, too fast and without properly hydrating. That’s not to say you shouldn’t run fast in the heat; you should go for it if you’ve trained for it. Just don’t run outside your abilities. Take it from someone who has done just that and suffered the consequences.
  4. Wicking works! Invest in clothing that wicks moisture away from your body and steer clear of cottons.

If I hadn’t had the bad race experience, my relationship with running in the heat would probably be love/love. But, that memory remains. Hopefully, I never forget it or the lessons learned.

I found Runners Lounge a few weeks ago and, after reading several of the Take it and Run Thursday posts, I have decided to take it and run (thus the TIART in the title).

So, this week’s topic is cross training. For runners, obviously. Let me just say that I’m a lousy cross trainer. For me, it’s all about the time. I don’t have enough time to run as often as I’d like, never mind try to fit in some cross training. Plus, I love to run so when I exercise that’s what I want to do.

When I was pregnant, however, it was a much different story. I didn’t run. I don’t know — I just didn’t feel right running. I know that it is perfectly fine to run while pregnant, provided everything is going well, and I look at pregnant runners and I’m impressed and happy that they are still out there. For me, taking the time off was the right thing to do. And, it was the perfect opportunity to cross train. I walked, practiced yoga, did low-impact aerobics, stretched and strengthened all those muscles I needed for giving birth. It was wonderful.

The yoga and stretching helped me to regain some of the flexibility I had lost over the years. The walking made me appreciate my neighborhood and provided me with plenty of alone time to think about what I was getting into with the whole pregnancy thing. It also prepared me for the many walks to come after Conal was born. Which makes me think that I am doing some cross training: I walk with Conal several times a week. Huh!

Anyway, the pregnancy cross training. I worked out with light weights to tone up my arms and did enough plies to prepare me for Swan Lake. I followed along with the ExerciseTV stars through sun salutations, leg lifts and more grapevine steps than I care to admit to. All of the exercise that I did helped keep my pregnancy weight gain in check and made my eventual return to running much easier. In fact, I started running again 3 weeks after giving birth and felt terrific. My first post-baby 5K time was the same as pre-baby. And since I’m not getting any younger, that was quite an accomplishment!

I guess that, for me, cross training isn’t a regular priority but I do see its benefits. When I can’t run, sure, other exercise options seem worthwhile. But, when I can run, I run. It works for now and until that changes, I’ll just keep running.

I am all signed up for the Freihofer’s Run for Women on May 31st. My second race since Conal was born.

I write this not because I am proud. Or because I am fishing for race route fans to cheer me on. No. I write this because on the day before the race, the organizers are collecting running shoes and t-shirts for the USATF to donate to runners in Third World countries. I’m planning to drop off some sneaks and tees. Leave me a comment if you would like to add your running shoes and t-shirts to my pile. I promise I will donate them. You need not worry that you will see me dashing around in your old Boyz 2 Men t-shirt. I just wouldn’t do that to you.