The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from…
(Til We Have Faces; by C.S. Lewis, Christian allegory writer)

So, I haven’t been writing much. In fact, I’ve largely deserted this little blog. Not entirely sure why, but I suspect it has to do with more time-consuming, mind-calming exercises. No, not my attempts at fast sprinting runs or humming swims, but long slow bike rides, languid walks, slow distance runs, and muscle melting hot yoga sessions. Wonderful, and when I’m through and finally home from a long day of out and about, my home computer sits sleeping, for yet another day.

It’s nice, actually. Wonderful, even, to have more time for reading and more time for cumbersome, but delicious dinner-making (risotto? conquered!), more time. Not that I throw so much into blog-writing that it takes that much time, but it quickly turns to time-suck, for me. One blog turns into another and another, and then I’m wondering why I don’t have a 100 dollar yoga mat or better fancier gear, cuter running clothes and why my lazy bum hasn’t finished a marathon, yet, I mean, come on.

Read that last bit with a playful tone. I love the realm of health blogs and whatnot, but it can be a little like a competition, in a bad way, for me, after awhile. Yes, I am beyond thankful for this blog and blogging community– I really don’t think I would have believed in possible for me (one who actively hated running forever) to train and race a 10-miler, and yes, I am so motivated to get to a marathon finish line, someday, but I also know that I put a ton of pressure on myself all on my own. Pressure that gets a little set on fire with added stories.

I guess, bottom line is, that plenty of times I’ve considered to come here to write a bit about a wonderful walk or a yoga class, but I felt a little selfish, wanting to relish more post-workout me time and more of the zen-ness that movement affords me without comparing myself, my active rest, to other people (though wonderful and total rockstars and achieving some dynamite fitness goals!)

Make any sense? I’m wanting to be smart about my own training, because I want to be able to run for many many years, not burn out because I know I’m oh-so-capable of burning out. So I’m taking a little rest, for now.

On a more plus note, I am signed up for a trail!!!! race, a 10k. Really pumped… I think it’ll be a little easier on the joints, but definitely a challenge to my muscles and my mind.

I must admit though, that I can’t stop daydreaming about certain race distances– half, marathon, tri… a certain longing. But ‘long’, as in still a long ways off for me. But I’m still so eager to get there!

recovery week

Intention precedes all action, it directs the body, speech and mind. We can
know we are going to move before we move, we can know we are going to speak
before we speak.

Took a couple of days off from any hard-on-the-body exercise after the race, and apparently blogging too, because phew! did I wake up with some sore legs on Monday morning. Yes, I am so glad that I pushed myself, but I don’t want to do too much too fast with running. I was searching out half marathon races and the like, but I reminded myself that it’s too soon to push it when I can barely walk from the last race!

That being said, I do have my eye on a half-marathon for the fall…! I think if I am smart about training this summer and reincorporating cross-training, it’s very do-able. I do have sensitive knees and legs (prone to injury, sadly), and I’d rather be able to run for years to come then peak out after one season. I have to remind myself that I’m so new to running… I’d love to do a marathon, but I should probably run more than 5 miles (outside a race, that is!)

All that– I’m bringing yoga back! Signed up for a mini-block of classes at my favorite Baptiste-yoga studio. I’ve been really awful at incorporating home practice yoga in my routine, and I’m hoping a few studio classes will encourage me to restart that (okay, more like start). Yoga classes are just too crazy expensive for me (I should do a fuller blog post on this– the affordability of access to exercise is something I’m really interested in), but I do love the warm, soothing studio I attend.

Good weekend, definitely quieter than the past few, but plenty of sunshine and relaxation. I spent a bit of time in the bike saddle– two 12-mile rides, one Saturday, one this afternoon. I can’t decide if biking is a good cross-train for running, since it feels just as hard on my knees as running– but it sure is fun! I feel like a little kid racing down hills and powering up inclines.

So eager to get back to swimming… I might have to break down and buy a couple of swim sessions. Just don’t think I can make it until Memorial Day! (outdoor swimming pool time!)


We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things and hope to be able to endure all things.

(Doctrine & Covenants; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints scripture)

Hello double-digit land, nice to meet you!

I did it!!

Under heavy skies (that thankfully held up for the most part), after a sluggish 10k (believe me, it felt very far from strong especially at the end) the week before, after a long (but amazing) weekend…

10 miles. And I am not exaggerating when I say that every single one of them felt wonderful and I finished tired but completely alive and energized. I guess somewhere in there, I hit a runner’s high (first time!). I am (still) positively grinning. Yes, my knees are making themselves known and my poor feet are screaming. But I’m so energized and so so proud of myself, body and mind.

See, I’m not a runner. I’m not. I’m a swimmer, yes, and have always thought of myself as rather athletic, but running has always alluded me.

And even as I have started logging runs, I still had my ruts, my limits, 95% self-imposed, psyching myself out limits, and to race 10 miles strong, heck even to run 10 miles at all, when for so long 2 miles and 5ks and finally 5 miles seemed daunting on the other side.

10 wonderful, challenging, empowering, soggy miles. In 1:35, with a couple of walk-through the water stop breaks. Well under the nose of my secret 1:40 goal (which I revised after last week to: uhh, finishing would be awesome. Maybe under 2 hours? Maybe just finishing, period)

Like I said, after last week’s race, I like the challenge in my body and mind after mile 5… and this race has me curious to discover what’s beyond 10.

Yep, curious… not scared, not anxious, not overly in awe of… curious and believing in that possibility as something to be realized.

Hope all things, believe all things. Today, I have to thank running because it has been challenging me and inspiring for these last few months in ways I never thought possible.

I have endured a few races and challenging runs this month, and I am so eager to try to endure many more…

In short: 10 miles; 1:35. Goodness. (I “forgot” my watch for splits… on purpose because I didn’t need to get anxious about it. I stayed pretty steady in pace across the miles according to the race clocks)


surprise strength

I am larger, better than I thought.
I did not know I held so much goodness.
(Walt Whitman, "Song of the Open Road")

Or at least, a bit stronger. Four days since race day, and two strong runs:

Mile 1: 9:20
Mile 2: 9:06
Mile 3: 8:55
Mile .1: 8:35 pace

Ran this on Monday, and I actually had to walk for a tiny bit at around .9. I felt a little tight in the calves, which I usually don’t have as a problem. Aside, running a race made me sore in the strangest places… my right upper arm was really sore, I guess I was holding some tension there? Nearly stopped running but kicked out a pretty speedy 5k (for me!)

Mile 1: 8:55
Mile 2: 8:50
Mile 3: 8:15
Mile .2: 7:55 pace

Can we talk about this… where did this speed come from? Honestly, it might not be the best idea to do sprint-y (yes I know that it is relative, but these runs felt fast to me!) runs when I’m coming off a 10k and running a 10-miler this weekend (still TBD.. but I must say, wearing the 10-miler tech tee I picked up from my packet is SO inspiring!).

I think I tapped into the whole running is fun outlook. It really is. I am putting up these times and talking about how I felt…. but truthfully, the whole thing was just plain fun! Yes I was exhausted, but I am just starting to look forward so much to my runs because the sheer physical challenge of it is … fun!

Maybe it is just the outlook… having extra confidence. Completing a distance that frustrated me when I first started running, barely lapping the track once. 10k seemed like the perfectly out of reach yet totally sensible distance. Marathon? Okay, that’s crazy, even to many long-time runners. A 10k to me always seemed doable, yet I could never do it, never come close.

I guess surprising yourself with strength is the best sort of fun!

10k recap/opening up

This opening to the life
We have refused
Again and again
Until now.

Until now.

(from a book on meditation)

What an incredible weekend–I’m highly exhausted, in a really good way though of course.

10k recap! So, I didn’t sleep that well the night before (kept waking up, nervous I’d oversleep), and I went to a bed a little late when an innocent happy hour outing somehow sprawled through to late dinnertime. Whoops, not the greatest pre-race preparation, but rather innocent and turned out fine.

Got a little lost on the way to the race (although it was 5 minutes from my place, I am highly prone to getting lost everywhere I go in this town), but eventually found it, and was ready lined up in good time. It was actually kind of good because I was distracted with nerves about getting there on time and forgot the whole running 6.2 miles part.

I guess I’d consider this a small race. It was a combination 5k/10k and was raising money for a school, so there were a lot of little kids doing a fun run after too. So, lots of people, but not too many runners, definitely only a handful of 10k runners. No chips for timing (which I was a little bummed about), nothing too fancy. Thank goodness for crazy big GPS timer watch!

Mile 1: 9:08 (oh self, too fast for you)
Mile 2: 9:18 (better… but, still); the turn-around for the 5k was in this mile…I was a tiny bit tempted, especially since nearly everyone turned around here)
Mile 3: 9:20 (entirely too fast, given that I stopped for water)
Mile 4: 9:40 (this mile was a straightaway, but I felt really pumped up, until the turnaround and discovered no one behind me!)
Mile 5: 10:00 (refocused. I’m really proud of this mile because it’s farther than I usually run and it was very uphill and I passed a couple of people)
Mile 6: 11:20 (I started to get a really awful stitch in my side. I tried running through it, but this made it worse. Downhills were really really painful. I was really beating myself up over my lousy race prep… clearly I was dehydrated/not properly fueled!)
Mile .25: 9:55 pace (I felt like I was hobbling through my cramp across the finish… but whatever, why do all race courses end uphill anyway!)

Overall, I am rather proud of myself. First race I’ve run by myself entirely, new distance, great pace for me (even with the walking bit at the end). There wasn’t a lot of spectator support along the course (okay, none) and for most of the race, I was running by myself and couldn’t see other runners, so I feel good about a strong race without the typical race hype that adds a little adrenaline.

Honestly I’m just a little in awe that I did 10k. I remember when a mile was so difficult, and honestly, sometimes it still is. I love all of the miles that I log, but there is something about miles after 5 miles, that I find really interesting, very challenging to the body. Rather, maybe it is when you push yourself past a wall, a wall that you built up and that you believe in so thoroughly, and when you’re able to strongly move past it… that’s when you learn new things about yourself. Even if I didn’t have the strongest finish possible, I felt a lot of new emotions and new appreciation for my body’s capabilities surface with each stride past mile 5. Just, was a very interesting race for me. I’m really eager about moving ahead with my running… I don’t know if that means faster pace at the current distances or trying new distances or what but I like the feeling of pushing myself in running.

On a practical note, I definitely need to take race prep more seriously next time (this coming weekend, if I’m feeling up to the 10-miler I’m signed up for!)

The crazy thing was that I drove down to alma mater right after the race, did a ton of outdoor stuff (picked tulips at an organic tulip farm, how cool!), went to a lacrosse game (sadly we lost!). My legs were screaming sore at the end of the day, but I’m feeling better today.

Anyways, must get my Monday rolling. Hope ya’ll have a good start to the week!

quick 10k recap

And if you run, you will not stumble. (Hebrew Bible; Proverbs 4:12)

Here’s a recap of my last 12 hours:
Beer for dinner (carbs, right?)
Sleep… wake up, thinking I overslept…repeat
10k for breakfast

I survived! Despite my poor, yet fun, pre-race preparation, I finished under an hour (a secret goal of mine for this my first 10k race). And felt strong (minus that pesky side stitch around mile 5.5). And had fun!

More after the weekend… off on a little weekend getaway!

Cheers and enjoy the sunshine!

Because I’m busy icing my knees and flipping out about upcoming races… guest post!
Bryan Allain is a wonderful author and blogger who writes mostly about faith and popular culture. Key aspect: he is hilarious. Enjoy his guest post, and then hop over to his blog and add him to your reading list. Thanks again Bryan!

Cheers! I’ll be back later this weekend with a race recap!

Since this is a guest post for the SwimSutra, I figured I had to tackle one of the most divisive issues i my life: my love/hate relationship with water.

They say your body weight is made up of almost 70% water, but honestly, who really believes that? I suppose they want us to believe that 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water too? Sorry, I wasn’t born yesterday Mr. Wizard. But no matter the numbers and the theology, you can’t avoid water in your life. And for me, that can be a really good OR a really bad thing.

Let me explain…

Drinking: When I’m really thirsty there’s only one thing I crave: cool (not cold) water. Forget beer, soda, milk, or iced tea. Water quenches my thirst like nothing else. In high school we’d play neighborhood football games up the street and I’d always forget to bring water with me. 2 hours later I’d come back to the house, parched like a sponge stuck on a cactus. I’d fill up a huge cup with water and I’d always pause right before I started gulping because I knew I was about to experience a little bit of heaven. In those moments: Water is GOOD.

Swimming: I’m not sure if you’ve seen my nose or not, but the combined circumference of my nostrils is longer than a butter knife. This meant that I was the teenager at the pool who was jumping in with his nose blocked. I hated pool parties, trips to the oceans, and all the horse play that went along with water activities. Everytime I went under I’d have a gallon of water rushing into my brain. Heck, I even put off being baptized for a couple years because I was afraid of getting water up my nose. In those moments: WATER is BAD.

Golfing: I’m not the guy who’s scared to hit golf shots over water per se, it’s just that i hate losing golf balls in “the drink”. Every golf course should have a collection system at the bottom of their lakes that collects the balls and gives you one back for every one you hit in. Losing a stroke is bad enough, but keeping my $3 golf ball after I just paid $50 to walk around your lawn? Why don’t you just spit in my face. Again, in this case WATER is BAD.

Tea: Nothing I love better on a winter night than a cup of loose leaf tea. I prefer a white tea or a rooibos, but just about anything is good. And as we all know to make tea you need 3 main ingredients: Tea Leaves, Water, and finely ground crack cocaine. When it comes to my favorite relaxed evening refreshment, WATER is GOOD.

Washing the Car: I am not a big believer in washing the car. To me the outside of the car is equivalent to the outside of a house, and both should be washed with the same regularity (maybe once every 5 years). My wonderful wife Erica, on the other hand, believes the same thing that everyone reading this probably believes: that the outside of cars should be kept clean. She’s right,of course, but hey it’s marriage and it comes with the terrain. And just because she’s right doesn’t mean I have to like washing the car, because I don’t.Water = bad.

In the end, despite all the problems water has brought into my life, I’d still have to say I can’t live without it. Mostly because, well, I can’t live without it. And for the record, I have since learned how to jump in a pool without looking like the nose-blocking moron that I once was.

(I’m still a moron, of course, but just not a nose-blocking one.)

You can find more reasons Bryan loves/hates water, as well as his daily musings about the humorous side of life, faith, pop culture, and living among the Amish at his blog, BryanAllain.com. You can also find him on Twitter at twitter.com/bryanallain.i

steadier footing

You are not here to sacrifice your joy or your life. You are here to live, and to be happy, and to love. If you can do your best in two hours but you spend eight hours instead you will only grow tired, miss the point, and you won’t enjoy life.
(The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz; story of Buddhist monk to practitioner)

Two runs to document. One was Saturday, and my legs felt so very much like bricks on Sunday, that I had to rest. (Okay, so I’m the worst at resting, and I did do a tiny bit of cross-training and a short bike ride, a little long but very gentle).

4 miles; 36.11
1: 9:05
2: 9:01
3: 9:03
4: 9:02

(I can’t remember the specific breakdowns of miles as far as thoughts. Looking back on it, I’m really proud of myself for consistency in pace, especially since it was my hilly route–both ups and downs. Look! No crashing during the last mile!)

This evening’s run:
3.29 miles;
1: 9:07
2: 9:21
3: 9:15
.29: 8:55 (mile pace)

Only felt like a 5k tonight, because I think I pushed my legs too much on Sunday. I have a race on Saturday (!), and although I want to get some good runs in this week, I’d prefer to keep them a little shorter.

I’m feeling a lot better since last post about my running. Being more intuitive, going a little gentler at the start made a really marked difference for me for both of these runs. Something I don’t usually mention is that I am rather spent at the end of the runs. Not the case for either of these. I finished tonight and just felt solid, like my legs felt better than when I started and my lungs and heart felt the work, but didn’t feel like they shorted out early on and had been struggling to keep up the rest of the length.

So, yes, I do occasionally get “runner envy”, seeing fellow runners out with their marathon tee-shirts, absentmindedly being hard on myself, thinking I’m not a “real runner” because I’m not at that level (yet?). But, tonight I remembered my “running priorities”. I don’t need a certain split. I don’t need to race a certain distance. I am happy to see these gradual, but definitely progressing changes in so much. Not just speed or distance but in mental clarity and mood (I’m so much happier when I’m active!) and just the challenge of running. I consider myself fairly athletic, but pure running is so challenging to me, and I love it. But I also know that my body isn’t ready for logging miles and miles and maybe never will be. If I can achieve the benefits of running at my current level (at this steady incline)… why should I compare myself to people who get out of running what they need only at those more intense levels?

Yes, I would be so proud to run in a marathon someday. But I also know that I have sustained injury from trying for too much too soon. And I have never ever enjoyed running this much (hell, I actively hated it), and I know that my more informed training is so influential to that.

I’ll get there… one gradual mile at a time.

P.S. Congratulations to my lovely roommate and everyone else who did amazingly at the Cherry Blossom 10-miler this weekend. I volunteered at the race, and the weather was just perfect! Now if only some of the trees had stayed in bloom…

vanishing doubt

The twenty-five years I had lived since then, tapered to a palpitating point, and vanished. (Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov)

Well, first, smidge bit too dramatic, second, not yet 25, so doesn’t even make too much sense.

Let’s replace with, “the four miles I had just ran since then”.

(Hey, Nabokov would totally appreciate the slight mocking)

5 miles; 46:15; (9:13/min pace average)
1: 9:06 (so, I didn’t feel too much like running. More in a walking mood, decided to stick it out, and try but go slower)
2: 8:45 (just started to feel a little lighter in the legs; got more into speed)
3: 8:46 (honestly should have eased up and been more diligent about mindfulness in pace because….)
4: 9:56 (something happened… just nearly quit… I’ll detail more below)
5: 9:31 (I feel really proud of this because I persisted, I was running uphill and into head wind. Rock!)

During mile 4, I very nearly lost it. I had been feeling so solid prior… honestly, I was feeling a little too full of myself on mile 3. I can’t pace that fast when I’m trying for more than a 5k. Just cannot. I didn’t even initially want to be going that fast. I had an intention of reasonable pace from the start (for some reason 8:40-9:00 is the hugest jump for me. One is sustainable; one is not)

Started thinking about upcoming races (!! next week!!) and felt down on myself that well if I can’t even run a 5k, how am I going to do 10-miles. I really psyched myself out. Walked a bit. Sigh.

Realized I was being very ridiculous and hard on myself. Started a gentle run, tried not to let the head wind or the solid incline get to me. Ended feeling really great… but like I couldn’t run anymore.

I’m still nervous about these distances coming up. I just need to be a little more gentle on myself. Proud of what I am able to do, but humble enough to stop, walk, take a few breaths, when I need them. It makes me stronger! For me, the doubt is ever present (I just don’t feel like a runner), but I am learning to let it vanish.

as insurance

"the night is far gone, the day is near" (Romans; Christian Bible)

Anyone else biting their tongue, wishing for a little sunshine and warm weather, and being completely blown away with the hot, hot, hot?!


At least it is pretty clear that spring/summer has arrived. New life, maybe finally shaking off some of those lingering winter blues and heartache.

Felt a little blue to be trapped indoors, when the sunshine was so bright, yesterday, so I took the train after work to do a proper city run.

Mile 1: 8:47 (whee! So, I set up an alert on my watch to stop me from running faster than 9:00/min pace… needless to say I shut that off pretty quick)
Mile 2: 8:53 (pretty sure the tourists found me absolutely mad… My very pink cheeks and bullish determination)
Mile 3: 8:55 (…hello, I do not run this fast… ever. Crazy)
Mile 4: 8:56 (full disclosure, took train home after mile 3 and did mile 4 home, I am not that awesome at speedwork)

I was a little bummed out Monday evening, because the weather was gorgeous, but I didn’t have anything planned outdoors, so I went to bed early, bummed. Tuesday… I realized how absolutely silly I was acting. So, life isn’t as bustling at times as I might wish for… but that’s the time to make your own adventures. I loved my little self-indulgent train ride/run. It was wonderful, like a midweek treat to myself. I’m usually very content with doing my own thing, should the day find me without something structured to do; I just needed a reminder.

Not to mention, the 10k on my calendar for next weekend…and a 10-miler shortly after that… a HUGE reminder that a few quick miles make for perfect summer-y evening plans!