Entries Tagged as 'By Foot'

LONG RUN: SHOWING UP

Friday, August 22, 2014

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I’ve found myself in a prickly situation recently – entrenched, but not in the position to untangle it.  In my more zen moments I can acknowledge that it is what it is and let it be.

I needed a bit of zen Tuesday night so I plopped down on my yoga mat – a place I haven’t found myself in quite sometime.  This isn’t a class with a soothsayer instructor (you know those yogis who whisper wisdom straight to your soul?), so I had tempered expectations.  My left hamstring has been tight since my long run on Saturday and I knew I could use a few deep breaths.

The instructor opened the class with this:  “You showed up for yourself tonight.

Sitting in lotus pose it hit me:  I’ve been waiting for a referee to show up and mediate this tricky situation – to apply the rules fairly and ultimately validate my position.  But, as my mother always said, “fair, my dear, is a term for the weather.”  And, good heavens, isn’t it exhausting seeking validation?  What a terribly useless pursuit.

I wrote recently about showing up – about the importance of presence and authenticity.  Last night I started thinking about how much easier it is to show up for a friend or an important cause than it is to show up for myself.  We sabotage ourselves with self-doubt, fear, judgment, comparison, the need for validation.  But, what if instead we showed up for ourselves like we (try to) show up for our friends:

  • Not to intervene, but to affirm.
  • Not to problem solve, but to be thoughtfully present.
  • Not in defense of, but on behalf of.
  • Not to judge, but to discern.
  • Not to untangle problems, but to generate space.
  • Not to point fingers, but to make peace.

The yoga instructor’s words stuck with me through the week.  When I didn’t feel like running on Wednesday night, they came to mind.  I went ahead and ran the miles, not because I had to or because I’d be disappointed with myself if I didn’t, but because I really want to run a great marathon this fall.  And showing up for myself meant lacing up and getting out the door.

Showing up for myself means having the wisdom to know where my energy is well spent and where it is not.  It is having the discernment to know when to intervene and when to let go, and the courage to believe that my position needs no outside validation or justification.  Showing up for myself means that the commitment I have to myself to do the best I can where I can with what I have is enough.

What might it mean for you?

STRANDED IN HONG KONG

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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I fell asleep as soon as I boarded my flight in Manila and awoke three hours later in a perfectly groggy post-nap state. It took me about three minutes to realize that we were not in the air. I double-checked my watch then looked out the window to confirm we were still on the ground. Ends up the flush lever on one of the toilets was broken and they were replacing the entire toilet on the tarmac. Thus began the biggest fiasco in the history of my personal travels.

I arrived in Hong Kong well after all flights to the U.S. and Europe departed so I was stuck for 24 hours. I was extraordinarily irritated and could not believe there was no option that didn’t leave me stranded for an entire day. I received a hotel voucher and hopped the shuttle to the Novotel. This is where things [temporarily] started to look up. The hotel was gorgeous. A glass wall separated the shower from the rest of the room allowing for sweeping city views from the bathtub.

The hotel is connected to a mall which is connected to the terminal for Ngong Ping 360, a cable car system between Tung Chung Town Centre and Lantau Island.   Now realizing that I had been given a free 24 hour excursion in Hong Kong, I dropped my bags in the room, bought a ticket and hopped into a cable car. Dense fog obscured the mountain and sea views on the ascent, but I had a glass-bottom cable car to myself and the trip through the clouds was peaceful. The cool, humid air was welcome after being stuck in an airplane for nearly ten hours.

I disembarked and walked around Ngong Ping Village, then through the Po Lin Monastery. It was extraordinarily quiet, save for the occasionally moo of the resident cows. The fog lingered and I wandered about aimlessly for a couple of hours.

I took one of the last cable cars of the day back down and the fog cleared enough to see the Tian Tan Buddha Statue, the world’s largest tallest seated outdoor bronze Buddha.

I noticed a fellow passenger wearing a Garmin watch and then saw that she had on an Ironman t-shirt under her raincoat. When I asked her about the race she looked very surprised that I recognized the logo. We spent the next fifteen minutes trading race stories and discovered that we had both been at the Chicago Marathon last year. She gave me a few tips for running the New York City Marathon. She was from Mexico and was also traveling alone – backpacking through Asia at the end of a graduate school study abroad experience, an extended vacation before jumping into her next Ironman training cycle.

I wished her good luck at Ironman Cozumel then disembarked feeling restored and grateful to be stranded.   As I walked back to the hotel I thought about the endurance sports community and how unique it is to feel instantly connected through sport – what a gift to be able to recognize a kindred spirit even while traveling all alone in a cable car in Hong Kong.

PALMS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Monday, August 11, 2014

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palm-trees-over-blue-water-philippinesAnd because palms are so in right now, this is a gratuitous photographic dose of palm trees from the Philippines.

 

KAWASAN FALLS, PHILIPPINES

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

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Entirely blissed out after swimming with whale sharks, we get back in the car and Rodi says, “ma’am, sirs, you would like to see a waterfall now?”  The answer is an obvious yes.  I saw a sign for a waterfall as we drove into Oslob and I remembered reading on Trip Advisor about some nearby falls that could round out a day trip itinerary to Oslob from Cebu City.  I didn’t remember the pictures being particularly impressive, but I am never one to turn down waterfalls.

A few minutes down the road I realize we have turned and are driving away from the falls.  Suddenly I am very, very excited.  I ask Rodi if we are going to the falls with the bamboo mats, he nods.  Doing a bit of trip research on Pinterest I came across an image of Kawasan Falls.  Situated on the opposite side of the island from where we are staying, I write it off as something that isn’t going to happen on this trip.  Our time for leisure is short and the priority is whale shark spotting.  Rodi notifies us that it is nearly two hours away, but he doesn’t mind driving.

We open packages of dried mango and coconut and pass them back and forth.  Time passes easily as we wind our way up the coast through the vibrant green landscape.  We pull into a church parking lot, pay 100 pesos to park and are immediately swarmed by “guides.”  Rode says that he will be our guide and we proceed to walk down a trail for about a kilometer.  The trail was a horticulturists dream.  As a fern lover I could not believe what I was seeing.  It was like strolling through the tropical plant section of my local nursery:  maidenhair ferns, croton, bougainvillea, birds of paradise, palms.  A bridge crosses the water and a few little boys are playing on a rope swing.

We arrive at the falls and they are utterly surreal.  The water is an almost milky blue and there is a large bamboo mat empty and waiting for us.  We pay 300 pesos to rent the raft and three men use ropes tied across the pool to pull us into, under and behind the falls.  The water is freezing cold – I mean take your breath away cold.  We lie down on our bellies and the water pours down on our backs.  The pressure is intense, like a human car wash and I come out on the other side feeling slightly battered with hair covering and plastered to my face.  We laugh and do it again.

We get back to shore and are harassed for an additional 300 pesos for each of the men who were “guiding” us on the raft.  We are all vaguely irritated, but hand over the cash utterly disinterested in engaging any further with the fact that we are getting taken advantage of.  The day had just been too good to worry about getting ripped off for $5.

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BEACH WALK

Monday, June 23, 2014

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Savoring spring evenings on the beach.

LONG RUN: CALM

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

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A friend of mine had to drive over a bridge each morning on the way to high school.  He said that the conditions of the bay in the morning foreshadowed the type of day he would go on to have.  Rough water, rough day.  Calm water, calm day.

The weather has turned and we are getting our first glimpse of winter.  The thermometer hasn’t risen out of the 30s in the past couple of days.   After spending the better part of the last month traveling, this feels rather abrupt.

Last night I layered up and set out for my favorite running trail.  Cold weather is a great motivator to pick up the pace.  The first mile I could feel myself trying to outrun the chill.  I was warm enough on my way back in to stop and watched the sunset.  The water was as calm as I’ve ever seen it – so still it looked like glass.

With the holidays fast approaching, I took this to be a good omen.  Perhaps a calm holiday season is ahead?

While that seems an almost laughable possibility, the water’s stillness was a much needed reminder that it is possible to create my own “all is calm” moments in the midst of holiday (or any manner of) craziness.  So here’s to bundling up, lacing up and getting out the door.

PETRA

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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I traveled to Jordan five years ago and wasn’t able to fit in a trip to Petra.  I’ve regretted it ever since.  I arrived at Petra in the late morning, dropped my bags at the hotel and headed straight to the entrance.  I knew absolutely nothing about Petra and, uncharacteristically, I invested no time in learning about the place in advance.

The air of mystique of this ancient city was magnified by my lack of understanding.  I had no explanation for why there were Hellenistic-style buildings carved into red rock faces.  I didn’t have any idea why there were columns topped with elephants or a carving of Medusa.  I was mystified to find an 8,000 seat coliseum in this isolated mountain valley.  Not knowing allowed me to walk around in an almost constant state of wonder, interrupted only by pushy donkey owners offering a ride and children selling post cards.

I walked and walked and walked.  I expected Petra to be the one iconic building from Indiana Jones and perhaps a few other crumbling columns and porticoes.  I was dead wrong.  Petra is a city, a no kidding city – several miles from one end to the other with buildings nestled around the floor of the rock canyon and homes scattered all the way up the rock face to the top of the mountain.

After seven hours of walking, my shoes were full of sand and my legs were tired.  I ran out of water while I was still a few miles from the exit.  With the temperature nearing 100 and feeling the onset of dehydration, I knew it was time to start the hike out.  I reached the exit, purchased a coca cola and plopped down on the sidewalk, absolutely exhausted.  I woke up the next morning feeling like I had run a marathon.  My joints were sore and my legs ached, but I couldn’t get wait to get back in and explore some more.

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SMALL MOVEMENTS

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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The truth is I haven’t been running.  Somewhere between a weekend in Boston, a trip to DC, camping in Shenandoah National park and time on the eastern shore, I just stopped.  I had a few great runs during a family vacation in North Carolina, but after that nothing.  If I’m honest, I haven’t wanted to run.  There it is, I said it.

September arrived with the smell of freshly sharpened pencils in the air and I found myself looking for the newness and fresh start that comes with the beginning of the school year.  We had planned to move this month, but with a few big life decisions still unresolved, we’ve decided to stay put for now.  It feels a bit like limbo; not fully integrated in or committed to life where we are, but not yet ready to take the next step.  What I’m really wishing for is some punctuation – a clear movement from here to there – but I’m learning that is so rarely how life works.  Instead, Ryan and I talk and think and wait.  In moments of clarity, I can see the uncertain pieces starting to come together.  I’m not quite sure where things will end up, but I sense movement and unfolding, sort of like clouds on a windy day.  I trust that this process will result in confidence to take the next step.

Until Sunday, I had mistaken my averseness to running for not wanting to be active.  That was a mistake.  It felt good to admit to myself that I simply do not feel like running right now.  There are times to push through and lace up anyways and there are times to let it be.  I felt no need to dissect these feelings and I did not allow myself to self-impose any guilt.  It is what it is.

I did a quick internal check and inquired as to whether there was anything that I did, in fact, want to do.  The answer was yes and so I’ve pursued new forms of movement.  I’ve been walking and taking barre classes.  I feel strength in a way that differs from a post-run high.  Barre classes focus on small movements – little leg lifts and microscopic crunches – undertaken with intention, focus and the hopeful expectation that they are producing results.  These teeny tiny movements make my muscles shake almost uncontrollably and at the end of 60 minutes my legs are wobbly and trembling.

Small movements producing results, that’s what I’m focusing on these days.  Trying to release the need for a defining moment, a sudden possession of enlightenment, a quick answer on our next step.  Right now, there is no clean transition like the first day of school; instead there are small, thoughtful movements and confidence knowing that they will take me where I want to go.  Little by little towards strength and stability and clarity and growth.

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ARIZONA: HIKING IN THE SUPERSTITION WILDERNESS

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

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We left the Grand Canyon and headed back to Phoenix.  We caught up on work and then, on the recommendation of a friend, we drove to Apache Junction to hike in the Superstition Wilderness within Tonto National Forest.  We were instantly enchanted by the name, and the allure of this aptly named wilderness continued as we drove past an abandoned gold mining town and turned into Lost Dutchman State Park.  By 10:00am the temperatures were hovering in the high 90s.  We spoke with a park ranger, selected a route and hiked towards the rock formations.  After a mile or so we found ourselves scurrying up the rock between two of the formations.  I stopped to rest feeling dizzy and overheated.  I sat and sipped water, watching a lizard sun himself on a nearby rock.  Phoenix was just barely visible on the horizon — a hazy little collection of sky scrapers jutting out of the desert landscape.

Within Lost Dutchman State Park, two mountains rise out of the desert landscape which is otherwise punctuated by nothing taller than saguaro cacti.  But, the word “mountain” doesn’t quite fit here.  The rock formations seem more like desert spires or craggy outcroppings than mountains.  It’s as if someone set up a huge crystal growing kit in the middle of the desert, but didn’t get the recipe quite right.  While the shape looks like a giant chunk of amethyst, the composition is that of rock and not a translucent, jewel-toned stone.

In reality (read: forgive the geology lesson), the rock formations were  created in the aftermath of volcanic activity:  first the eruption, then the crumbling and crashing of the volcano walls into  newly emptied lava chambers.  The impact of the crashing within the largest calderas caused an up-thrust of lava which resulted in the rock formations seen in the park.  They are quite literally splashes of lava frozen in time.  Hikers sometimes report hearing a thunder-like sound while on the trails in this area– apparently the reverberations of ongoing seismic activities within the rock walls.

Ghost towns, frozen lava spires, phantom thunder — an aptly named wilderness, indeed.

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GRAND CANYON: SOUTH KAIBAB TRAIL

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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I am not what you might call an avid hiker.  Neither is Ryan.  When hiking we rely entirely on translating and applying running endurance, basic first aid knowledge and general know.  Our logic being, “If I can run twenty miles, then I can certainly hike for 6 hours over 8,000 feet of elevation change. Right?”  Sometimes this approach works well, sometimes it doesn’t.  Like the time we nearly got stranded without water on a trail in Yosemite National Park.  We really should’ve learned our lesson by now, but whenever we find ourselves in a beautiful locale and we hear a tip about a difficult trail that we “just have to see,” we give it a whirl.

When we arrived at the South Kaibab Trailhead and saw a sign warning against dehydration by depicting a 27 year old 3:20 Boston marathoner who died on this very trail last year.  The warning seemed directed right at us — I mean, the sign may as well have been addressed to us by name.  Nevertheless, we descended onto the trail and hiked out to Cedar Ridge.  We had planned to go further, but feeling spooked by that sign and ever aware of the midday heat, we made a smart decision and turned around with plenty of time (and water) to get out of the canyon by night fall.

All the cliches about the Grand Canyon apply here:  vast, awe inspiring, sweeping panoramas.  This was our first time venturing into the canyon and seeing the red rock up close was incredible.  The warning sign at the trailhead provided a bit of foreshadowing, as our hike quickly introduced us to the harshness of the elements within the canyon.  The sun was unrelenting and as the wind picked up during our descent we quickly found ourselves with covered in a coat of red dust.  One gust of wind was so strong that we had to lean against the rock face for fear we would be knocked over.  Once the wind died down, we hiked up and out of the canyon.  The trail ends with a series of switchbacks which we were not sad to see end.  Once we reached the top, we plopped down in the shade of a tree and sipped our camelbacks, feeling glad to have heeded the sign’s warning and vowing to be a bit more conscious on future hiking endeavors.

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