Words for Thought

(Sunset over Doak Campbell taken Monday night – too beautiful to capture correctly.)

I stumbled across this quote on Tumblr this morning, and it so eloquently words thoughts I’ve tried to express for years. Word to the wise: don’t allow toxic people to consume you and the happiness in your life. It’s ok to let go.

“Not all toxic people are cruel and uncaring. Some of them love us dearly. Many of them have good intentions. Most are toxic to our being simply because their needs and way of existing in the world force us to compromise ourselves and our happiness. They aren’t inherently bad people, but they aren’t the right people for us. And as hard as it is, we have to let them go. Life is hard enough without being around people who bring you down, and as much as you care, you can’t destroy yourself for the sake of someone else. You have to make your wellbeing a priority. Whether that means breaking up with someone you care about, loving a family member from a distance, letting go of a friend, or removing yourself from a situation that feels painful — you have every right to leave and create a safer space for yourself.”

Daniell Koepke

And so it begins again…

When I stopped running, I stopped blogging as much. I know, that sounds kind of ironic because you’d think with more time on my hands, some activity would increase. But it’s been a touchy subject in the cobwebs of my head. I’ve tried to distance myself from it because I thought what I used to know was over, and I had to move on. I know, that sounds dramatic but I have to give myself a hard truth to face sometimes, or I’ll convince myself otherwise. So back in April when I was hurting really bad, I took time off. I was trying to do it the right way, underwater running, other strength training, rest days, etc. I did it for the 8weeks, maybe even a little longer. And I eased back in and I was so slow, and it was so discouraging, but I was trying to just be grateful for the whole act of running itself. Then I ran a 5k on the Fourth of July. It was raining, and by that I mean it was more like hurricane conditions. They decided to do it untimed. I was like oh hey, I don’t care I won’t be competitive, but it’s impossible – it’s some innate quality that ignites when they scream “go!”

So, whatever, I thought I was back at it, slow as a turtle – but still moving. And then I started getting worse pains than before and I couldn’t really figure it out. It didn’t matter about stretching, or swimming, or rest days or what. I couldn’t get more than two tenths of a mile without having to turn around and walk (and wanting to cry.) So, lately I’ve just been trying to deal with that. Accept it for whatever it is, and think that maybe two-ish years of running started to take a toll on my body that was just now starting to appear? And I tried not to feel bitter towards the people trotting around the neighborhood, when Running Times showed up in my mailbox, when raceday photos appeared on my Instagram. And then something in me, one morning this week made me decide to just try again, lace up some different shoes and see how it went. Somehow I managed two miles, and the air was cool and breezy and it was so beautiful and perfect I wanted to scream with joy, after being so frustrated.

That’s where I am now. Just taking it one day at a time. And being infinitely grateful for every single run. Every step I take that doesn’t hurt. And I’m not exaggerating. I thought I’d be fine without it. But there’s something about that sport that has a strong hold on me. I can’t quit. I can’t let it go. I ordered new shoes, and I’m hoping that that might have been a factor, that my others needed to be retired. Before I had half marathons (like the Rock n Roll in Savannah) in my starry eyes, but now I’m just thankful for the recreational activity. Maybe one day I’ll go back to races.

I was thinking about it this morning. Tallahassee was graced with this incredible weather this weekend. Fall surely has arrived. The humidity has been low, the sun shining, a breeze in the air – just absolutely gorgeous. I forgot the mindset I get in with running, nothing else clears my head in quite the same way. (Like when I’m swimming? I’m concentrating on breathing and if I’m keeping a good form too much to be thinking about anything else.) Especially when it’s just me, an early morning, an empty neighborhood, clear skies, cool breeze, and some thoughts or dreams. I forget about the emotions, I access when I’m running. It’s like an inner layer pealed away that I leave covered up the rest of the time. Facing all my insides, ugly or not.  Anyway, maybe another day I’ll have to deal with it, but at least for right now I don’t have to because I don’t want to. I don’t know how yet to start over with something else. It’s an addiction, sure, but it’s the only good one I have. I guess I never realized how much it all became engrained in me. I need running for so many reasons. And sure, those PRs I reached, or finish lines I crossed brought a certain sense of accomplishment I’ve never experienced from anything else, but right now it’s not about that anymore. You know that part in “Wear Sunscreen” that goes “Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.” 
Well it’s true. It’s just an inner battle right now, (and for the record? Right now, I’m winning.)

A Simple Saturday Morning

So some days the weight of frustration is like an elephant sitting on my chest, and it’s been holding me down for so many hours that even when I finally move out from under the crushing impact, it’s still hard to catch my breath. It takes a little longer to let the bird out of the cage, to feel my wings spread and the breeze wash over me again. But when it does, I feel a wave of gratitude. It’s easy to neglect the simplicity of carefree breaths sometimes, when your brain doesn’t feel like it short circuited and you’re left with all the frayed wires to make sense of the mess. On this simple Saturday, I’m thankful for exactly that.

Really what’s better than a group of people sitting around a table in the evening, with good food, good drinks, and plenty of laughter? And my days have been full of that lately. Whether it’s in my kitchen, or my parents’ kitchen, or a restaurant. There are few things I love more than laughter, (and music.)

This morning I went for a little run. It’s overcast, the sky is full of gray clouds, but the air isn’t too heavy yet. (For a Saturday morning post sun-rise in July in North Florida.) It’s nice to have those moments again, where my own time is carved out from the world, this little piece of solitude. It used to be about time, and distance but not lately. Lately it’s just about enjoying the whole activity, getting to do this thing that’s my instant ticket to clarity – no matter how short lived.

Maybe today will see some beach time. Maybe it’ll see some crafting. Who knows? But I hope your Saturdays are sweet, and simple and your hearts are full of carefree easiness of summer.

Georgia Roads Bring Us Home

Passing somewhere through the middle of Georgia, after we finally found a rest stop. Bonnaroovians padded slowly down the same sidewalks, sleepy eyed and dazed after days of adventures. I watched a dark haired boy reach his tanned hand through the bars shielding the vending machine, attempting to retrieve some kind of snack. The moms dragging their toddlers across the slick restroom floors, didn’t know how odd it seemed to be using a bathroom with lights and flushing, and running water in the sink. We’d grown accustomed to the plastic box life of portapotties, and keeping a roll of toilet paper in your backpack, and following the path to a dusty street in early morning light. This early morning light was different. We were still alive with possibility, but sleep was battling for my brain waves and all my thoughts started to get hazy in the struggle to resist. I may have nodded off for a few minutes. I may have surrendered to the dreamy thoughts, not ready for all our beautiful moments to start the transformation into memories, a distance that can’t be crossed once it’s been created. I could only think of this land, a paradise carved out from the rest of the world where worries can’t reach you, and every stranger is a new friend to be made. The stories of these gorgeous people, and their journeys and their exquisite passion for life resounded in my ears lulling me to sleep. When I awake, my dreams weren’t real dreams, they were revisited thoughts of the same things I was pondering before I took that snooze. My mind is littered with the sensation of wet grass beneath your feet, moonlight bathing an open field in a soft glow, and the ease that accompanies life and the people you entwine yours with when you are absolutely, positively yourself. Love in its purest form because there’s no space for anything else.

Wanderlust Wednesday: Tennessee Edition

Remember when I promised I’d share a few pics from my trip to Tennessee? Well, I know I am a total slacker but here I am with photos to share!

I just love airports, so I had to snap a shot of the “Welcome to Knoxville” sign.

And my view from the adorable row of rocking chairs, located across from a Starbucks. I sat and drank coffee, and chatted with my mom, and skimmed Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like.

The title of my Facebook album was appropriately “Tennessee Stole My Heart.” Because my goodness, it did. Even the dog park was gorgeous!

Codey got to play with lots of other dogs.

One of my favorite parts was this gigantic used book warehouse called McKay’s.

Nerd heaven, I’m telling you.

This wine bar called Drink. is one of the coolest ideas ever.

Could we have asked for more beautiful scenery on the roadtrip to Nashville?

This angle makes it look like a short distance across, but that was not the case. The rock I landed on was not very sturdy and into the water I went.

Relaxing on the deck in the sun, airing out my shoe, munching on Dill Pickle pork rinds. (I recommend!)

Playing tourist in front of the Loveless Cafe sign.

These hot biscuits with homemade preserves? Worth the wait.

Southern Biscuit Sampler with hashbrown casserole. Ohmyword.

Goo Goo Cluster pie that I saved for a “midnight” (more like 3am ha) snack.

Your guess is as good as mine and what exactly this means? Dentist convention?

Happy hour at the hotel where we made new friends.

Love this pretty lady.

This is a classic Leah/Megs photo.

Canadian money from our new friends.

We decided it was a must to go to Jack in the Box since neither of us had ever been. Forget the fact that we had just eaten breakfast.

Someone needs to get Florida involved in this deliciousness. Mini churros!

Grand Ole Opry woo!

Shoutout to Blake!

Gorgeous flowers!

Delicious portobello eggplant sandwich at Fido.

Windy walk to explore Vanderbilt campus.

Seriously beautiful.

How cool is this bike rental system?

Mmm Whiskey Pecan and Salted Caramel icecream with a shot of espresso from Hot/Cold.

So there ya go! I am a little bit (and by that I mean a TON) in love with Tennessee now, and believe you me this will not be my last visit. I can’t tell you how many sweepstakes I’ve entered for country music festival/award show tickets in Nashville this past month, haha. Fingers crossed 😉

Friday Favorite

Okay, okay I’m trying to scale back on the Maroon 5 coverage. Tumblr is awful for obsessive habits, but last weekend since I couldn’t get up and run in the morning and I need a few more minutes to be able to get ready to go to the gym (where you actually have to bring stuff and can’t just hop out the door) I laid in bed for a few minutes. Of course I found myself perusing YouTube and of course I started watching all these Maroon 5 music videos. Wellll, I just wanted to share with you the one for “Daylight.” This will be my Friday Favorite. Look, I’m able to be concise today! Also, who really cares if the radio plays this song like multiple times a day? Not me! Every time I go, “oh! This was just the song I wanted to hear!” haha. So much for “overplay.” Anyway, this is a really great project – kind of in the vein of the “It Gets Better” campaign. It made me smile, it made me feel feelings and get all emotional, but it’s just really cool and totally worth 9 minutes of your time. Yeah, yeah I’m a little behind the times but better late than never:

Trail Run Thursday Week 3: Joy of Community

Hello, hello! I know I’ve been on a bit of a blogging hiatus lately, but bare with me. I come and go and you’d probably much rather read an enthusiastic post than some dribble that rolls out because of obligation. No obligation here, alright guys? So! First & foremost Happy Thursday! As you might have noticed I’ve rolled over from Throwback Thursdays to Trail Run Thursdays where I ramble a little bit about running. Coincidentally, it’s not always just running – it turns into a story about life too ya know?

Well, my running ‘schedule’ got a little crazy with my travels and all of the adventures of life last week, but I managed to get in some runs Wednesday-Friday, so I’d feel somewhat prepared for the Palace Saloon 5K on Saturday. This is a race I’d been looking forward to since my very first 5K last August. All through college I saw the t-shirts around town, and when I “became a runner” I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. Well, as it got closer it held a new significance in my mind because from what I’d read, it’s one of the fastest (and oldest) 5Ks in Tallahassee. I had a goal for myself to break 25 minutes in a 5K this year, and I knew if I worked hard this could be the one. As it got closer and all that craziness went down, I decided not to put too much pressure on myself because I wanted to enjoy it and there would be other races if it didn’t work out. Well, Saturday was a cool morning and I met up with my cousin Tim and his group and we did a couple warm-up runs. We met at the bank by McDonald’s and the rest of the group hopped in the truck to drive over to Messer Fields. We jogged there. At the crosswalk Tsige was standing there and I got so excited I screamed! At that point, I didn’t have her phone number, so it was the first time I’d seen her since our last trial run and her husband had been running Boston and I had been dying to talk to her! We hugged and dove into conversation, it was really nice and somewhat of a relief. We hung out at the fields for a bit and then went on another warm-up run. I was feeling good and excited (plus it was cooler than I thought it’d be because the sun wasn’t shining, so it definitely helped with that!) I ended up racing with Tim for the first 1.5mi and that really helped me hold onto the pace I needed. At the hill, I just told myself – if I wanted it bad enough, I could make it happen. I ended up finishing with a new PR of 24:40 and it was such an exciting feeling. I found people I knew during the race, and I love that too. I might have my goals, but I don’t ever take it too seriously – it’s too fun for that! I saw and talked to a sorority sister, a friend from Gulf Winds, my running buddy Tsige, my boss’s wife, and the list goes on. My cousin Sara lives right by the Palace so she came over with her dog Darla, and we all hung out for a bit. It was just a really fun morning, I was on that high of endorphins and adrenaline, mixed with that excitement I had for achieving that personal accomplishment. Plus it was exciting to see all the blue and yellow ribbons in support for Boston, (and the really awesome banner they had made for everyone to sign to send to the Boston Athletic Association!)

Those are post Palace pics!

Later, I’ll fill you all in on my Orlando concert experience of seeing Andrew McMahon on the Beacham on Saturday night, but that doesn’t really have to do with running. It does have to do with how awesome the weekend was though, and how much got packed in, and how I think it caught up to me since I went to bed at 930 on Sunday night! Following post-race hangouts, (and a little bit of beer and a taste of bloody mary because it was the Palace after all) I went home and showered and ate breakfast and headed on over to Orlando. Sunday morning after a great visit with JD and Tony I got back in the car and came back. I changed into my running clothes at a rest stop in Madison, and I arrived over in Southwood just in time for the 5.2 at 5 for Boston memorial run. I am so glad! There was an incredible turnout (more than 1,000 people!,) and it was a really inspirational experience. We sang the national anthem together, and “Sweet Caroline” and it was really touching. Tim and I ran together again (he slowed his pace down for me.) It was a hot, muggy run (because I wouldn’t normally run in the sun at 5pm) but it was wonderful. We hung out in the parking lot chatting for a long while afterwards, and like I said – I was exhausted! I didn’t even feel like making dinner, so after picking up a tuna sandwich from Jimmy John’s, and taking a shower – I crashed.

Tim, me, and Carson post-run in the parking lot.

Someone had a remote control helicopter flying over the crowd, and it turns out it was a video camera! My friend Brian sent me this video – it’s pretty cool, check it out!

Monday, the events of the weekend kind of caught up to me. There was so much excitement, and activity, and driving! I was feeling kind of sluggish (I’m sure my off kilter eating habits weren’t helping me out any.) Part of me was thinking I might  not go to the week three meet-up of Trailblazers, but by the end of the day I was like no! I was disappointed I missed last week, and it’s such a good start to the week! Plus, Tsige called me and having a running buddy is so encouraging. Of course, then I got stuck in awful rush hour traffic on my way to the trails and there was a disabled vehicle making the road I was on one lane, with one of those trade off deals, so I was late. BUT because life is awesome – there were people waiting at the crosswalk, to run with the “stragglers” through Forest Meadows. So, I made two new friends and we did two laps through the woods together – talking about all sorts of things. Central Florida, Mexico Beach, kayaking, cycling, motocross, (those last two I listened intently obviously not having experience in those areas haha) how we got into running – all sorts of stuff! After we made the loop two times, we were back at the entrance and mingling for a minute and then the group Tsige had been running with finished up. She was so nice about how she’d been worried I’d get lost because I was late and she kept an eye out on her phone in case. Running friends are awesome friends. I joined that little group and we did one more loop! (So much for “taking it easy” on Monday, I had planned on doing 2.5 or 3 miles, but that turned into 5.) But it was awesome because it gave me a new surge of energy, and those trails (of course!) were beautiful.

It just made me extra grateful for the community I’ve found in running. All of these days. At first I thought it might be a bit ambitious, or taking too much on pushing myself a few days in a row – but it was totally worth it. (And why I took two rest days this week, so I’ll be in shape for the Rose City 10K on Saturday.) It just filled my already full heart with an added appreciation for these people. I am just very content with where I am in life right now, and it has been a long time since I could say that. The fact that it’s not very conditional is so key, and important, and extra exciting. These new relationships I’ve formed (and older ones that were strengthened) just give me a new perspective on life. It’s been a really cool experience to get to know new people of different ages from different backgrounds, and to see support of each other in action. Picking up running changed my life, but I’ve seen it change even more as I’ve built relationships with people through running.