Friday, June 26, 2015

Working on the Revolution!


Last weekend, Paul and I had a busy few days of events with our Austin chapter of Democratic Socialists of America.  On Friday night, we were at Radio Coffee and Bar to talk about socialist feminism.  On Saturday afternoon, we were at Austin Community College’s Highland location to talk about raising the federal minimum wage.  And later that same day, we were at Sa-Ten (a local coffee shop) to talk about Bernie Sanders and democratic socialism.


It was a super fun couple of days.  I loved learning more about these issues and getting the chance to talk about specific socialist issues in more depth.  Maria Svart was a wonderful guest—it was a treat to have her in Austin with us to share her stories and her perspectives.

On the work-out front, I was less successful and didn’t complete my three running work-outs for Couch to 5K Week 3.  I’m actually repeating Week 3 this week and have completed 2 out of my 3 work-outs (hurray!).  Having a structure in place for my running has been really helpful.  I feel like even if I have a busier week and don’t complete all the work-outs, I can repeat the same week and not feel like I’ve fallen off the wagon altogether.  I’m still building my fitness and my ability to handle the heat.  Couch to 5K is exactly the kind of gentle, encouraging plan I needed to build a habit.

FLF_Week of June 14 cropped

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Me and Lu

FLF_Week of June 7 cropped

Hurray!  Another week of Couch-to-5K successfully completed.  I am a running goddess.

In other news, on Saturday, Paul and I drove out to Hippie Hollow in northwest Austin, a city park adjacent to Lake Travis in a beautiful, beautiful part of the city, all canyons and curvy roads and views of the lake.  Hippie Hollow happens to be a clothing-optional park, FYI.  After a long, hard semester, I wanted to go up there to relax and splash around in the lake.  It was wonderful: we went up in the evening, as the heat of the day started to dissipate and the sun began to make its descent toward sunset.  I went “swimming,” which was really just me flapping around ungracefully in the warm water and trying not to get smashed into the rocks by the tide.  The waterfront is very rocky, almost dangerous—let’s just say that flip-flops are not the ideal footwear for Hippie Hollow.  We didn’t stay long, since it was already evening when we arrived and the park closed around 8:30 PM.  But I’m glad we went—I’ve been savoring the memory of Lake Travis ever since.

As for this week: onward to Week Three of C25K!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

For Real this Time

Wildflower_Red and Yello

Stalks Reach for the Sky

Caution Sign

Oh Hello!

Annnnd I’m back!  Finally.  For real this time.  It has been too, too long.

Self-employment has been wonderful and overwhelming and very, very hard at times.  It’s been incredibly time-consuming.  The paradox is that I expected it to be time-consuming, yet it was still more overwhelming than I ever imagined.  But now, most of my high school students have finished their semester, so my work schedule has eased up significantly.  And that has opened up time to really, truly get back to running regularly.

I decided to be smart this year, as the weather is starting to heat up here in Texas.  I’m doing Couch to 5K to let myself acclimate to the heat and rebuild my running strength.  All I can say now is: why didn’t I think of doing this sooner?!?  It’s such a great idea, using a beginner’s running program to ease into hot (and potentially dangerous!) weather.

I’m being conservative, so when I didn’t finish Week One of C25K two weeks ago, I decided to repeat it last week.  Here’s what last week’s work-outs looked like:

 FLF_Week of May 31 cropped

In other news, life is good!  Paul and I are super excited that Bernie Sanders is running for president.  I’ve been obsessively following the campaign news for the last month, and Paul and I both donated to the campaign on the day that Bernie announced.  We believe he is the real deal, and we are getting involved to help get Bernie elected.  On Thursday, we went to our first Bernie campaign meeting for volunteers.  I’ve never been so excited about a candidate, but Bernie Sanders is truly special: not only are his politics progressive and inclusive, but he’s a man of integrity whose voting record reflects his values.  We love his work and everything he stands for, and we’re proud to be part of his campaign, starting on the day he became a presidential candidate.

I feel rusty here, trying to blog after so many months of silence.  But I’m hoping that as with running, writing will get easier with practice.  And how about those beautiful photos up there!  Those were all taken at my park, the wildflower preserve that’s just down the street from me.  I love it there and do most of my runs in that park.

Happy almost summer, my long-neglected readers!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Snail Running in Austin (Shell Yeah!)

Snail Running Team cropped

{Source. Cute, right? Found via Pinterest}

I wanted to write an update on my current half-marathon training cycle.  I’m undecided on how to update this blog more regularly, but I’m not interested in closing it down.  How to write a running blog when I barely have time to run?  Maybe when I answer that question I’ll write a post about it!

Anyway, the 87-mile Project is keeping me inspired to get some miles, any miles, under my running shoes.  I’ve been running 2 miles every 2-3 days, and I even ran 3 miles yesterday!  Miracle of miracles!  And most of those miles?  Are hard.  They feel very hard to me.  I am not in good running shape, but I’m proud of myself for returning to running.  I am on the Snail Running Team, but really, it’s better to run slow miles than to not run at all.  Really truly.

I’ve made a few observations about my return to running and this current training cycle.  In bullet-point fashion:

* Even when the miles are hard to run, I still feel really good after I run them.  This fact keeps me going and makes me excited to continue my running.

* Yesterday, I ran 3 miles by warming up, running 2 miles, then walking for 5 minutes and running another mile.  What was great is that my third mile felt so much easier than the first two.  This, I think, is my reward for pushing myself to do a slightly longer run.  The miles do get easier, so eventually I know that a 2-mile run will feel easy and refreshing, not hard and kinda demoralizing like it is now.  (Note: I know that sounds really negative, and not all of my runs are demoralizing.  I’d be lying if I tried to paint this situation as all or nothing.)

* Austin is a really tough place to train.  There are hills in every direction from my house, so I have no choice but to run up and down hills if I want to run outside in one direction for more than 200 meters.  I think the hills are part of what makes me feel so out of shape.  It’s not just that I’m out of running shape, but that in trying to get back into running shape, I have to do it on really challenging terrain.  I trust that the hills will get easier with time and dedication, but damn!  So demoralizing!

* I’m getting better at working running time into my crazy freelancer’s schedule.  My days typically have a chunk of time in the early or late afternoon when I can run after lunch and before I have to leave for my evening sessions.  I’m really proud of myself for taking more control over my time and doing what I want to do.  This is a big accomplishment for me.  I’m also learning to trust that my tutoring schedule will always be an evolving process—it’s up to me to make sure I’m honoring my commitments to my health and happiness.

And on that note, I’m going to head out for an evening walk before the sun is gone for the evening.  Happy Saturday, friends!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The 87-mile Project

FLF Graphic 12_30_14

Here’s the thing.  I paid good money to run a half-marathon on February and yet my training efforts have been practically non-existent.  If there’s one thing that motivates me, it’s the fear of wasting good money, and spending money on a race that I can’t or won’t train for is definitely a waste!

Race day is in 46 days (thank you very much, website counter!), and I’m challenging myself to run 87 miles between now and the start of the race.  That’s one mile for every dollar I spent on my race registration.  (Holy COW, that’s an expensive half marathon.  Thank goodness that running, as a sport, is pretty cheap.)  87 miles divided by 46 days means I need to average 2 miles a day from now until February 15.  Considering that I am basically starting from running 0 miles a day, that feels like a lot.

Will I get there?  We shall see!  But I’m going to try.

Here’s my log that I’ll be keeping to track this project.  (I heart data!)

Day             Miles Run

12/28/14           3

12/30/14           1.2

12/31/14           0 (sick)

1/1/15              0 (still sick!)

1/2/15              0 (still sick!)    

1/3/15              0 (getting better…)

1/4/15              2 (whew! finally went out for a run!)

1/5/15              0

1/6/15              2

1/7/15              0

1/8/15              0

1/9/15              2.2

1/10/15            0

1/11/15           1.5

1/12/15           0

1/13/15           2 (13.9 miles total as of today—more than a half-marathon!)

1/14/15           0

1/15/15           2

1/16/15           0

1/17/15           0

1/18/15           0

1/19/15           2

1/20/15           0

1/21/15           2

1/22/15           0

1/23/15           3

1/24/15           0       

1/25/15           0

1/26/15           0

1/27/15          2.5

1/28/15           0

1/29/15          2

1/30/15          0

1/31/15          0 (woke up sick today)

2/1/15            0 (sick AGAIN!)

2/2/15            0

2/3/15            0

2/4/15            0

2/5/15            0.9 (run/walk: 1 minute run, 1 minute walk, repeat 8 more times)

2/6/15            0 (ugh, still sick…)

2/7/15            0

2/8/15            0

2/9/15            0

2/10/15          0

2/11/15          1.7

2/12/15          0 (I think?)

2/13/15          0 (drove to and from Dallas today to pick up JD) 

2/14/15         1.5 (short riverside run!)

2/15/15:        RACE DAY!

TOTAL:      31.5 MILES

Price per mile: $2.76

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Life Lately by iPhone + Runner’s World Love

It’s true that I’ve been quiet lately on the blogging front.  Life is good these days, but I’m still finding it so hard to carve out time for any creative pursuits.  This weekend, however, I had a slowdown from work, so I’m taking advantage of the time to write.  Looking back over my photos from the past two months, I found a few highlights. 

The View from the Trail

On the Bike Along the Riverfront

On my way home from UT’s campus the other day, I stopped along the riverfront trail to take these two photos.  I love living so close to such an awesome biking/running trail—what a treat.  One of my running goals is to get into good enough shape to run down to the trail, do a few miles, and run home.  That would require that I can handle an hour of running again, so it’s a great half-marathon training goal.

On that particular day, Paul and I rode together to UT”s campus.  What a fun ride to do together!  It certainly wasn’t the first time we’d been downtown together, but it was the first time we’d ridden from our home through downtown and over to UT.  Seeing familiar parts of Austin by bike makes them feel new again.  I love the feeling of exploring a city by foot or bike—it feels like I make a deeper connection to place when I am able to do that.

Gorgeous Flowers

Paul and I went camping a few weeks ago, and we passed through Whole Foods to pick up some food for backpacking.  The roses looked so luscious and beautiful that I had to snap a photo!  But then when we headed out to backpack, I left my camera in the car!  So I have almost no photos from that camping trip except…

Deer at Dusk

…this deer who visited our neighbor’s campsite the first night!  We were tent/car camping that night, and I was so amazed and amused by this wonderful creature that I had to document it.  Can you see him poking around the fire pit?

We had no deer at our fire pit, just a Paul who built us a fire on which to cook dinner.

Paul Building the Fire

Some members of our family chose not to go camping.  Such as Lucy the Cat:

Looking Up

Sleeping Kitty Showing Off Her Pumpkin Patch

Can you see the brown on her otherwise white belly?  I call it her pumpkin patch and think it is endlessly adorable.  Lucy continues to be my faithful companion.  She’s almost always in the room with me whenever I am home.  I like to say that Lucy is like a dog wearing a cat suit!

* * *

Do you read Runner’s World?  Have you noticed lately that they are putting out some seriously inspiring content?  They recently did a feature article on Deena Kastor (she of bronze medal marathon Olympic fame), and now when I go out running, I imagine myself running as easily and joyfully as I imagine Deena to be when she runs.  Also, she loves cooking and inventing recipes, so we have that in common too!

I feel like Runner’s World is slowly lighting a fire under me.  I flip through my newest issue and I remember: I used to be a runner.  I used to run.  And then I think: it’s not too late for me! 

I went out the other day for a 20-minute run (2 miles or so).  And it was really lovely, so nice in fact that if the rain lets up today, I’ll head out for another 20-minute run.  I have learned this year that guilt is not going to motivate me to return to running.  But a nice run, and then another nice run, and another, and another?  They will motivate me to keep running.  Also, and this is my newest secret weapon: laying my running clothes on the bed early in the day.  They are waiting for me right now, just as I am waiting for a break in the rain.  But if that break never comes, I’ll lace up and head out in a raincoat.

After all, I’m sure Deena Kastor has done more than a few of her runs in the rain.

Happy day to you!

Monday, October 20, 2014

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Half-marathon training is upon me again.  Not surprisingly, I’m not prepared for it.  It’s the story of my running life.

A while back, I signed up for the Austin Half Marathon, thinking (and hoping, maybe even praying) that it would give me the fire and motivation to train seriously for a half-marathon.  The problem with being inside a series of long-term transitions as I have been for the past year is that it becomes exceedingly difficult to make long-term commitments.  I really want to make commitments—I’m not scared of them—but economic pressure and employment upheaval have conspired to drain much of the energy I used to be spend on athletic pursuits.  Over the summer, during the hardest weeks, going for a daily walk was the best I could do.  During the thick of our move to Austin, I didn’t even get my daily walk because we were so flattened by our to-do lists.

But now!  Ah, sweet now.  Our move to Austin is history.  Sweltering summer temps have come down into milder October days.  My work schedule is gaining a semi-predictable rhythm.  We’re finding our groove in the house, working and playing together.  I’m starting to imagine that maybe, just maybe, I can find the time and energy for my running life again.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle to find a running groove.  It’s hard.  If it weren’t hard, we wouldn’t spend so many words talking about “motivation” and “time management.”  Running inevitably asks us to sacrifice something: free time, sleep, chores, time with family and friends, maybe even work.  By definition, I think a sacrifice hurts.  It pains us to give something up.  To put it bluntly, I suppose I haven’t been too keen on additional sacrifices in the last few years.  My employment ups and downs robbed me of any notions of career or financial stability.  Finding that stability for myself has been my top concern, my top priority, the thing I’ve been chasing most obsessively.  Running kinda fell off my list of priorities, as sad as that is to admit.

Much like blogging, I knew, deep down, that running was something to which I would return.  Eventually.  I love the way running makes me feel: calm, powerful, capable.  I love the rhythm of my sneakers against the path.  I love the way running serves as a release valve for stress and frustration.  I don’t want the Detroit Marathon to be my first and only marathon (gah, I never thought I’d say THAT!).  Despite my lack of consistent running, I still feel like a runner, and I still feel like running is always available to me, even if I’ve been a disloyal runner.

Which brings us to the present moment: late October, with a half-marathon on the schedule in about four months.  If I decide to give this race my best effort from now to race day, I think to myself, what’s the worst that could happen?  I run the race more slowly that I would have if I had started training earlier and better?  Is that not an outcome with which I can live?  After all, I’d still get my chance to restart my training.  I’d get to reclaim my identity as a runner.  I’d still get to enjoy my race day here in Austin.  And fingers crossed, my friend JD will make it to Austin for the race, and we’ll get to enjoy his visit together.

You know what?  All of that sounds AWESOME.  I have every reason to say YES now.  What’s in the past is over.  I remember writing my thoughts on imperfect marathon training and feeling so happy that I had been brave enough to continue with my training despite all the reasons I had to ditch the marathon.

There is truly no better day to go for a run than today.  I know that finding time to run will continue to be a challenge for me because of my freelancer’s schedule.  But what is life but a series of trying, failing, and trying again?  If it were easy, there’d be no glory in it, no accomplishment at the end of the finishing chute.

So here’s me, trying again.  Here’s to a running life, defined not by a single training cycle but by the return to running, over and over again.