Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Run

10 years!  It has been that long since I've run anything more than 5 miles with a group of people.

As I laid down to rest on the eve of the run, I kept thinking about how the Navajo Green Commission was vetoed again.  Not again?!?!  Was very disturbing, trying to understand how our people, NO, our government could not fathom the need for this commission.  What will it take for our tribal government to understand that our natural resources will not always be around to save us.  We need to transition into a healthier business mindset for our children.  Our children's lives depend on the choices we make in being land stewards and we are not doing a very good job at it right now.  Was devastating to hear.

Even more annoying was this horrible sickness I had that began a few days ago.  I tried every remedy to quickly heal my body but nothing seemed to work.  Finally, a friend said to me, "a body heals when its ready to heal.  Your body will know if its not ready to go."  I say, "what if I can't do it?" She says, "can you do it?"  We laughed.  "Of course I'm going to do it!"

The countdown began after returning from the Bay.  I was excited and pumped to get the last week of training in before light workout for the final week.  It couldn't have been the excitement that did me in but the week of the run, I got sick.  Really sick to the point of night sweats, fever, coughing.  My last long run before the big run was 11 miles which didn't happen because my body ached and my throat was so sore that I could hardly breathe when I went outside.  Yet, I did a 2miler, still didn't help, then did a 4miler which I shouldn't have done.  I just needed my body to not forget what running felt like.

My goal was to finish the run in 2:30... It felt strange, this goal.

My fastest half was 1:50 and only once have I finished a run in over 2hrs which I thought was too long to be out on a course.  Little did I know what was in store for me the following morning.

 5 am alarm
cough attack
Stumble downstairs
Farina and coffee
2 hrs for food to digest
why didn't I set out running gear.
funny to dig in the closet for running wear
Stop, deep breath, smile
Check the temp
Layer running gear.
Ate my granny food (as my kids call it)

Amber was more excited for me than I was.  I doubted myself as we left but my kid said, "Mom, you'll be fine.  You will be ok."  She made me feel better.

We made it in time to park and walk up the hill to the start.  But first things first, the porta potty.  The line had started already so Amber and I parked in the line again.  It was very chilly.  We overheard a guy in the next line talking about the course.  All I heard was rolling hills, rolling hills, rolling hills.  Hmmmmm... that scared me!  No where did he mention a flat surface.

The call for the marathoners began and people started running ahead of the porta potty lines so they could make their start.  No problem to me.  Good luck marathoners!

We waited another 15 minutes before the called for the half marathoners.  That was me.  I didn't realize I was not at the starting mark until they said, "RUNNERS!  ARE YOU READY!"  I jumped from where we were standing and made it through throngs of people bunched together to stay warm.  The start was on the other side of where we stood.  I was one of a few people that began the race late!  HA!  I remember the last race in Tucson where I was 30 mins late but still ran it and caught up with many rnners at the half turn around.  That was a story to be told over and over, but I won't tell it now.

The first half mile was downhill, that made the final half mile to be uphill.
From half mile to about 2.5 miles, rolling uphill, I was mentally keeping track of when I can pick up speed and when I can just shuffle along.  The major climbs were at mile 3.5 and mile 6.  As I ran along, I would look around my surroundings but when you get into a zone, you forget the ad that was splashed all over the internet... the majestic red rock formations and what Good Morning America chose as the top 10 most beautiful cities in the United States.

Before the population grew in Sedona, my family and I would camp in the area and enjoy the beautiful landscapes.  The running creek that made such a beautiful sound at night while you're cuddled up in your sleeping bag.  The gurgling running water meandering through smooth stones and the night life singing in the background.  Today, we hardly ever visit Sedona.  I thought by running this race, I would have the chance to take in the beautiful scenery.  Who runs this many miles to enjoy the scenery?  I know for me, it was about where the next aid station was.  And to keep eyes on the road as if I were driving so not to run into anything.

I was more into making sure I didn't run too fast and that my cough would not start until I made it to the water aid stations.  I was fine until I hit mile 4.  I slowed to a walk uphill and had to bend over to cough for a few seconds.  People were kind to ask if I was ok, I would nod, sure, I'm fine.

I ran behind a couple ladies whose strategy was to walk uphill and run downhills.  Was  a good strategy. For them!  I couldn't keep up with the race walking uphill.  I lost them eventually.  Then, I decided I wanted to keep my momentum so I ran up the hills, no walking.  The monster climbs, I walked.  As we hit mile 6, the runners ahead of us were on their way back.  They would say, "you're almost there, up the hill."  I felt really good about it, knowing that I was half way there.  As I made it up the hill, we still had to run downhill for the turn around.  I felt misled!  hahaha...  The turnaround was uphill again!

I walked through all the aid stations with at least 2 cups of water and if there was electrolytes or gatorade, I took that.  Plus I had a couple packs of Gu which really helped.  They even had sliced oranges at some aid stations and I would take one, quick bite, chew & swallow.

At mile 8, my cough got really bad.  I ran into a porta potty and just stood there and coughed.  I felt horrible but I knew I needed to keep going.  I only had 5 miles to go.  Someone from the aid station walked up and asked if I needed medical attention.  "No, I don't."  I walked out, grabbed some more water and picked up the feet and started jogging.  There were times I wanted to stop but I didn't.  I knew as long as I made it up this last climb, it was all downhill baby!

From mile 10, I felt the pain, breaking down mentally.  Beginning to ask myself, why?  But not for long.  I put my mind in another gear that I knew was there.  I started counting to 100 repeatedly.  If I desperately needed to walk, I counted to 30 or 50 then pick the pace up again and count to 100. With 2 miles to go, downhill. I picked up my pace and picked off runners ahead of me.  So determined to finish.  At the half mile to go point, it was uphill and thats when the first marathoner passed me.  But I pushed uphill as I passed a couple of ladies, I wasn't going to walk to the finish.  Adrenaline pushed me through the finish.  As I pushed my way past the finish line, all I wanted was water and to lay down... This was the most punishing thing I've ever done to my body from head to toe.  But also something I needed to do to pick myself back up.  I've always been mentally tough, but lately, it was in break down mode and this run came at the most pressing time when I needed a kick in the ass!

I felt the pain, the agony that I just put myself in.  The commitment that made me do it.  I have been working on moving a Green Initiative for the past year and half and things have begun to move.  Even though we have our opposers, they will began to understand the purpose of the Green Economy.  When we bring awareness to the communities, they embrace the understanding of the movement and say, "but we've always been green."  The elders understand it even more because thats what they were raised on.  On living off the land.  That is nothing new to them.  Their pain is that the younger generation will not survive if they don't begin to learn what the elders have gone through in the past by living off the land.  When push comes to shove, our children will not know how to feed themselves with what they have if they don't begin to understand the meaning of planting a seed or conserving water for generations to come.  Stop feeding into the machine of capitalism, stand on your own two feet and stand up to the corporations that threaten our livelihoods.  These really are the words from wise elders, NOT, our tribal government.

A story I heard about chinese bamboo that has made me more patient and attentive.

  • It takes 5 years from seedling for a chinese bamboo to sprout.  The reason is, its root system is stabilizing itself so it takes 5 yrs before it sprouts.  When it sprouts, it doesn't take long before it shoots to 22 ft, sometimes, overnight.  It is then ready to be harvested.  You can make sturdy products from bamboo that will last a lifetime.  From homes to furniture to flooring.  

Be that chinese bamboo.  Be patient.  Things don't happen overnight.  Even though, I rushed at running a race of this caliber.  My root system, base running, had been stabilized a few years ago that mentally, I knew what I could handle.  My finishing time wasn't the best but I finished, knowing that I can still do this.  A good friend always said to me, "you are a born runner.  It doesn't take you a lot of training to go out and finish a race."  That was another thought running through my head while out on the course.

I do hope, our children will begin to understand our cry for sustainable living.  Whatever word it takes for us to get back to living sustainably, that will be the best thing we've done for our children and their children.

May we all come back to balance and harmony!

Hozho nahasdlii

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hills, hills, hills

Week 8 consisted of sitting throughout the day and more sitting and eating in the evening.  Hardly any running was completed and I felt so guilty thinking about, possibly, not able to finish the half marathon which is due in a couple of weeks.  So nerve wracking!

I was in Berkeley, CA for our organizations strategic planning for the year.  So much clarity was happening yet, my running was a bit flurry.  I love to run in the rain but I didn't seem to be able to get out on the street to run.  I would look up Bancroft west to the Berkeley campus wondering if it was possible to put in a run.  I'm not use to running on the streets in a city so I did feel a bit nervous and scared.  Until, I realized, I needed to put in another long run before the half marathon showed up on my doorstep.

On Sunday, I donned the layers of clothing and headed out on Bancroft toward the campus.
No vehicles.
A couple walkers

I had googled before hand to make sure I made it to the Fire Trail not realizing how many hills were involved.  Which is a good thing, otherwise I wouldn't have made it out the door.  The landscape was gorgeous and it being at sea level, I had enough oxygen to last me 10 miles throughout 2 hours.  I was the only person out there until I saw feline paw tracks, fear rippled through me.  They were fresh tracks and I lost focus.  I began to focus on the outskirts of the tree line thinking I might get jumped so I picked up a couple of sticks, not sure how that would have helped me but I think it would have.  :)

Until, finally, I ran into a couple of ladies walking.  They instructed me to turn around if I wanted to get back to where I came from so I listened and as I admired the view again, I forgot where I was, just that it was an awesome day for a 10 miler!

Yes, I'm ready to complete the first half marathon in over 7 yrs!!

Run Claudia Run

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Piling on the mileage ...

I've been, mentally, preparing for it all week.  9 miles!  Pile on the mileage!
This week was a very good week by sticking to the training plan, except my long runs had to be adjusted.
So, yesterday, I mapped out the route to complete the 9miles.  There were 3 routes that I considered and I stuck to the one that was more secluded and I'm so happy that I did.  I hadn't run this route since 2004 when I last trained for a half marathon.  Wow!  The many changes in landscape.

There is now an auto mall that sits on this route and a shopping mall.
As I passed the auto mall of Hondas, VW, Jeeps, Toyotas, I thought... hmmmmm.. wouldn't it be great to visit these places and see if any of the dealerships would showcase their energy efficient vehicles at our Green Awareness Days.  That would be great education in itself and marketing for them as well.

My runs, I've noticed, have turned strategic planning on ways to educate our communities about sustainable, green living.   People really just need to become aware of the many ways to live sustainably.

Then, my thoughts went wandered over to the City of Flagstaff electric bus.  Wouldn't it be great to utilize that transportation by picking up people along the way to one of our events?  We could provide snacks and such for the riders and they could donate some cash to our cause.  Wow!  I was on a roll!

But, my body was not acclimated yet.  2 miles into the run, I wanted to turn around.  My shoulders were stiff and my posture was not right.

Come on Claudia
You can do it.
Don't think about the miles
Look around at the beautiful sunrise
You haven't experienced this in a long time
Isn't it nice?

Yes, solo running prepares me mentally on the challenges that I face on a daily basis.  I always think, if I can train my mind and body to complete such a task, as 9miles?, what have I got to complain about.  The wind is at my back now and I can feel the chilly air at the nape of my neck.

3 mile marker and this section of the route is downhill.  As I come into a clearing, I see a herd of deer.  Their heads pop up as they sense my arrival.  I'm far away from them but they see me.  They stand, staring, I'm sure wondering if I'm a hunter.  Oh no, I'm just a crazy solo runner and I yell out.. Hello there deer!  hahaha.. Am I already delusional and I'm only at 4 miles.  The closer I get, they start turning toward the outline of the ponderosa pines.  They trot into the woods and leave me all alone shuffling down the road and guess what!  I"m at the 5 mile marker!

This is where I turn around and head back towards the same route I've come.  O dear, the daunting task of uphills.  I tear open a strawberry banana gu, slurp it down and wash it down with some gatorade!  I hope my tummy remembers this stuff!  By the 6 mile marker, the left knee begins to ache but I'm not thinking about it.  I'm thinking of all the many community members that now approached me to hold one of the Green Awareness Days in their community.

I'm thrilled that people are becoming aware.  Aware of the situations and issues relating to our environment.

I'm thinking a big juicy steak!
Some beer too! haha
Most importantly, a massage to work out the stiffness in my neck

The last 1/2 mile was an incline and I have never worked so hard to keep my legs moving.  This is always the toughest part, knowing the end is near.  I pushed to the stop light at Empire and Hwy 89 wondering if I can cross the street, if I stop... then, its still another 1/2 mile to my home.

It was an excellent day!

Water, Ice, bananas, oranges and hoping for a nice juicy steak later this afternoon!

Until next time, enjoy yourselves and think about doing some exercise, physically or mentally!  It keeps us healthy.


Run Claudia Run

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

unraveling the mindless into being mindful

The temperature...
It's chilly...
It's like 10 degrees! ..
5 miles
4 miles
3 miles
hit the snooze button..
This is how my training is thus far but I'm not giving up.

As I ran my usual loops at the Buffalo Park, I became mindful of my environment.  Looking at the lightest brown roots of the plants as they seemed to shiver in the chilly air yet, the chirping birds in the ponderosa pines make things seem more like Spring is around the corner!
Oh, how I can't wait for spring but quickly I'm reminded again of why the ground is frozen right now as I listen to the crunch of the snow under the soles of rubber that has carried me for miles now.  I go back to when I was having a conversation with my mother about what that crunching under my shoes mean .... Yas nil tees .. she was describing it to me as the crunchiness of winter but I thought of it as ..'Snap, Krackle, Pop' the slogan for the rice krispies cereal.  I smile thinking how quickly my mind shifts back to   this generation of convenience.

In the distance, Doko'oo'sliid, the sacred San Franciso Peaks loom beautifully and I think of our beloved people that have been working against snow making with reclaimed water to bring economic development to this border town.  I don't understand why, even our own Dine' people don't stand up to this desecration of our sacred sites.  I send prayers and positive thoughts to the Save the Peaks Coalition for always speaking out and that I stand with them as well, in spirit and prayer if not in person.

I have learned with this challenge of winter training what it means to fully commit to a plan.  Honestly, I have yet to fully commit because of my lack of confidence in fending off the cold and letting the warmth of my home be my security.

I've made that first step of unraveling the mindless into being mindful...
Commit to a plan!

9 miler, here I come this weekend!  Be ready!  :)