Monday, December 14, 2009

2010 Goals

So. This past summer I came up with some running goals, but they were pretty elusive, mushy gushy goals like "have fun with running!" These were definitely goals that I needed to have at the time because I was not having fun and I just wanted to find the joy of running again. That pleasure has resurfaced mainly due to the Charlotte Running Club members and due toTheoden Janes' awesome blog. Keeping that in mind, I'm going on the assumption that the fun will naturally continue in 2010, so it does not need to be listed as a goal.

(Keep in mind that the Club has a social committee now with Charlotte's own Rebecca Thomason as the lead....what more could I ask for?!)

When I looked back on my races, I did not really have a way to guage my success of meeting my goals in the fall because I did not make any concrete goals that were specific and measurable. Nor were these goals long term. For this reason, I have developed some more tangible goals for the next upcoming year, which you can see listed below.

I'm looking to peak for the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, which works out perfectly since the majority of my running buddies will be trying to peak for Boston a couple of weeks later. I'm hoping all you people out there can help hold me accountable! :o)

2010 Running Goals

Sub 17:10 5k
Sub 22:50 4 Miler
Sub 29:30 8k
Sub 36:40 10k
Sub 1:00:00 at Cherry Blossom, Top 30 Women, Win Team Competition
Sub 1:20:00 Half Marathon
Run 1st Marathon sub 2:52
$1500 total race earnings

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Pacing into a New Perspective

In Charlottte's local Thunder Road Marathon on Saturday, I got to see a lot of amazing things - not from the perspective of a racer, but from a perspective of a pacer. Admittedly, I was quite nervous about pacing Théoden. I was self-conscious about whether or not I would have any entertaining stories, of whether I would stay on pace, of whether I would be motivational enough for him to keep going at a steady clip if he hit the wall, of whether I would see him in the crowd of runners....Of course, I had plenty of time to ponder all of these things while I waited for Théoden at the stadium because I had arrived over 20 minutes early – after all, I didn’t want to miss him in the masses or anything like that.

During my wait, I became a sociologist by taking in all of my surroundings and observing the behavior of both the spectators as well as the race participants. My favorite fan was a man wearing an awesome curly haired wig, dancing wildly around as he banged on his cowbell. Actually, his beat was pretty catchy and several of the runners took the extra breath to tell him so. Of course, people familiar with the SNL skit from 2000 featuring Will Ferrell would yell to him “MORE COWBELL!” and I am fairly certain that all the runners who got the joke picked up the pace for that 50 meters.

After hearing the cowbell player having produced beats incessantly for ten minutes straight, I was startled when I didn’t hear it anymore and turned my gaze away from the oncoming runners, back to him. The reason why he had stopped playing was because a marathoner had stopped running the race to ask him a question. The conversation ensued as such:

Runner: Hey – do you have a cell phone I could borrow?
Cowbell Player (digs cell phone out of pocket): Sure thing!
Runner (dialing): Thanks – hey man – I really dig the Cowbell.
Runner (in voicemail to his wife): Hey honey, it’s me….Just wanted to let you know that I would be at the finish a little later than I had expected…I have a little bit of a hamstring cramp, so it’s gonna slow me up a little bit. Don’t worry about me though, I’m fine! See you soon!!
Runner (to cowbell player): Awesome – had to make sure the wife would know where I was on the course!

…And then he jumped back into the street to attack the last ten miles of the course with a cramped hamstring.

Hearing this man leave a voicemail for his wife opened my eyes into a whole different world of running. It honestly has never crossed my mind to call my boyfriend in the middle of the race to tell him I wouldn't be there when I expected. Did this make him any less of a runner than me? Of course not. Was I a bit surprised? Of course. Had I ever seen this happen before? Definitely not. Made me wonder if I should re-post one of my earlier blogs that proclaimed that runners in the front of the pack don't miss out on anything...After Saturday's experience, I am slightly inclined to differ. Seriously, the winner of the men's marathon didn't even get to run through the imitation brick wall in NODA because it wasn't up yet.

Ah, but I digress.

After hearing the voicemail, I immediately turned my gaze back to the incoming runners because I had this sick fear that if I ever turned away from them that I would miss Théoden and have to sprint him down in frenzy and I definitely didn't want to be doing any sprinting.

However, I had plenty of cushion time and relaxed back into observing everything going on around me. In the next ten minutes, I saw friends pacing other friends, I heard people shout !Go Charlotte Running Club! to me, saw Boriana running a marathon for a “long” run (!!!!), and families cheering on their loved ones.

And, eventually, I saw Théoden.

At that moment, my insecurities were pushed aside once I saw him running towards me around mile 16.5 near the stadium. I raised my hands, let out a welcome howl that no one heard but myself, and ran towards him. I immediately pointed out the man dancing wildly and pounding the cowbell. Within the first ten steps, Théoden was already moving to the right side so that he could greet his family and show his love and appreciation for their continued support.

In the next ten miles, I was amazed at the amount of conversation that Théoden participated in. I was impressed at Théoden’s ability to raise a hand and say “Thank you” to literally every single police officer we passed along the way, even at mile 25. I was awed at how obvious it was that Théoden appreciated every second his family braved the cold to support him in an activity that has potentially taken precious minutes away from time spent with them.

I walked away from my pacing experience having seen things I never would have imagined occurred in a race. I learned some new things about pacing: get out of the way when people want to slap the hands of the actual racer. I was mad at myself for taking away some of the hands that Théoden could have slapped. I also was disappointed that I didn’t start counting all the people we had passed until the last mile. In the end, I was elated to have taken part in pacing a man who has worked so hard in the past year to beat his previous PR. I was happy to see Théoden accomplish this task without even hitting the wall, while partaking in conversation, and with a studly last mile at a full minute ahead of the pace he had been carrying over the other 25 miles.

Most of all, I realized that running truly is something that brings friends and family together in a magnificently healthy and fun way.

---Great job to everyone out there on Saturday---The common theme for the day was PR, as I have seen those two letters stamped all over blogs on facebook.----

Friday, December 11, 2009

Diversity Matters!

I'm a huge fan of diversity. Until this picture of a birthday party I attended when I was younger resurfaced, I had almost forgotten about my childhood. I forgot about how when you are a little kid, you like anyone who is nice or who shares or who plays with you. Color, background, financial status, and everything else in between doesn't even cross your mind. At what point in our lives do the stereotypes begin to creep into our mind and prevent us from potentially meeting someone who could be fabulously wonderful because we deemed they weren't rich enough based on the ripped jeans or that they weren't open-minded enough because they were wearing pink J-Crew pants with the ugly whales imprinted on them?
I've always kind of prided myself on the fact that I tend to have a pretty open mind, and also tend to be accepting of people no matter what their background may be. When it really comes down to it though, I am still fall victim to making preconceived notions about a person based on their appearance - albeit not often. However, in those few times, I feel like in some part I have failed the people I grew up with or my parents, who both shared a true and deep passion to teach their children the principles of equality - and really giving everyone an equal chance. I'm not saying that I don't treat people equally, but I am saying that I definitely could have prevented myself from meeting some pretty cool people in college because I made some assumptions based on their preppy clothes.
It is good to look into the world from the lens you looked through as child to gain back that perspective and realize sometimes adults need to go back to the basics and stop worrying about the mundane.
All in all, this resurfaced picture makes me appreciate Unity Point School for the diversity and open mindedness it offered to its students. It makes me appreciate Carbondale, the college town and home of the Southern Illinois Salukis, for the international student body it attracted. In high school, all I wanted was to get out of that town and did not see the beauty in everything it had to offer. While I still do not want to move back, I can still look back on it's redeeming qualities and smile to myself - knowing that it played a huge role in who I have become today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fun in the Slow Lane, Fast Lane, Any Lane!

After reading numerous posts on Theoden's Blog and other links on his Facebook page relating to slow marathon run/walkers, I decided to research the topic a little more. I found a great New York Times Article from the Times Topic on running. You should definitely bookmark the Times Topic on your browser because it constantly updates with any articles they write on, well, running.

Much of what I have read focuses on two main things:

(1) People in the back of the pack are getting in the way of the faster runners
(2) "Plodders" get to see things that people up front would tend to miss because they are supposedly blazing by everything unnoticed.

These articles also seem to pick at the "fast" runners, assuming that we are all the ones saying plodders are getting in our way. I would like to reject this assumption. Plodders don't get in my way; instead, they inspire me. In fact, I know that the person who is running 6 minute miles and the person who is running 10 minute miles in the marathon, or whatever race, are all feeling the same pain. After all, we are all running the same race, with the same distance, and the same weather conditions. I have never heard someone win a huge race and tell the media or their friends "Wow, that didn't hurt at all." Instead, their energy stores are just as depleted as the honorable woman who finishes third from last to raise $12,839 towards the cure for Breast Cancer.

While running the Army 10 Miler Race, I ran by several soldiers who had lost a leg in the line of duty. Yet, here they were, running 10 miles with a prosthetic leg. Quite possibly one of the most humbling moments and inspiring races of my life, I realized as I passed the first amputee finisher minutes before the finish, that if he can run 10 miles missing one leg, then anything truly is possible. Technically, these men could be considered slower runners, but really, they were people going out there to enjoy what every person in America is free to do: run. By doing so, they were inspiring so many other runners, including the ones that they beat.

Yes, I will admit that at the Army 10 Miler, Matt and I had to dodge around several 10 minute pace runners in the first mile, but it didn't slow us down. In fact, it gave me something to focus on and made the first mile really seem like an obstacle course, which definitely put some spice into the race strategy. When it comes down to it, if there are not corrals based on pace, then why should I get a closer pick to the starting line? We all are going to finish at some point or another, and I'll have nine miles to make up for the five seconds I had to slow down to dodge a runner or two.

For the second claim, that the faster runners tend to miss out on their surrounding, this is not always entirely true. I assert that there are moments when every runner of any pace sometimes just takes moments to focus solely on themselves. Suddenly, you don't hear any people cheering, or the wind gusting at your back. All that is left is your breathing and the pit-pat of your feet as they rhythmically hit the pavement. At that moment, every runner is not aware of anything but that. Once we snap out of that momentary lapse, suddenly everything comes back, louder, bigger, and more real than ever. For instance, while running the Outer Banks Half Marathon, I was alone practically the entire race. Sure, I focused on my race strategy by my mind wandered.

As I went into the runner's mentalsphere, each time I came back to reality and my observations churned: the crowd is louder than, that was nice of that family to come out and watch us from their porch so early in the I on a golf course right now?....oh, that building is beautiful and, gosh, the ocean sure does look pretty, i really should just jump off this bridge right now to swim with the fishies....okay, focus on the hill or did I just see a man in a Pirate costume?...the cops never cheer for runners when they block, there are more people cheering at the finish this year than last year!

And then they all stopped when I crossed the finish line. Perhaps if I had been running slower I would have observed some more, but I do believe that there are two parts to running a race: the personal, introspective part and the outward, observatory part. Can't all runners participate in both pieces? While the elite runner may be observant of the other super fast professional around them, and the slow runner is observant of the cityscape, isn't it all the same?

Finally, do not forget that all fast runners will someday be slow, so we'll come back to you....Aaron, I am hoping that old age will get to you and that I will beat you eventually. Watch out.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Charlotte Running Club's First Social!!!!

I have been counting down for the Charlotte Running Club’s Social since I got back from the OBX Half Marathon. The main reason why I’m so excited is because there are so many people in the club and in the entire Charlotte running community that I haven’t even met yet. I’m excited to finally put a face to the name of a person that I emailed welcoming them to the Club, or a name that I perused over while searching results in Theoden’s blog. I hope everyone that can make it comes out and has a great time! Looking forward to it!!

Techie Irony

Today I ran across a New York Times article titled “Is There a Method in Cellphone Madness?” that explored the cellphone craze going on in America. Not only did it show us that an economist wouldn’t even agree with the billing plan logic, but it also showcased the skyrocketing average texts sent per month. You can read the article for yourself if you would like to learn more about how cell phone companies truly are ripping us off, and how the Europeans are using a much more economical model.

However, the point of my blog today is not to recap this article, but to discuss where the line should be drawn on how much time we spend using technology gadgets like our laptop, cell phones, illegal TV downloads, and the list goes on. Mainly, I got quite scared at how vastly different my life from when I was 12 varies from how it is now in terms of my internet consumption. Back when I was younger, I was outdoors all the time. I played in the woods or in the stream with Willa or my brother when he wasn’t mad at me. I swung on vines (sometimes they did break) or I walked to groom the horses in the field across the way. My parents made it a regular event to go hiking at one of the local nature preserves every so often on the weekends. If I was not outdoors, I was caught up in a book, and as soon as I finished that book, my nose would already be in the next book.

Now, it’s a different story. Granted, I do have a full time job that requires me to be connected wirelessly for at least 9 hours a day, but even when I get home, when I’m not running, I choose to spend the rest of my personal time on the computer. It’s rather pathetic when I think about all the other ways that I could be intellectually stimulating my mind, such as reading a book or studying for the GMAT. This past weekend the weather was 70 degrees outside and I didn’t even go hiking. I did go outside for a walk around the neighborhoods, but it definitely is not the same as being surrounded by a mass of beautiful trees that could quite possibly be 343934 times my age. If I actually tracked the amount of time that my computer or cell phone is in front of my face, it could quite possibly add up to 13 hours during the weekdays, and even more if I was feeling extremely compelled to facebook stalk even more people that I have not seen or talked to in over eight years.

Perhaps I should take notes from Garrett, who happens to despise most technology. In fact, I’m quite certain that he only uses such devices because it’s mandatory in this day and age, and, not to mention, his girlfriend would have a conniption fit if he threw out the cell phone when he was away in the minor leagues. To get by, he texts sparingly (only in response to me to keep me satisfied), uses his email account that I created for him mainly to figure out his private pitching lessons or to send me cute youtube videos, and only talks to about three people on his cell phone regularly.

I’d like to take a step back and learn from my technological-disconnected boyfriend, but at the same time…I sure do love to send 300+ texts a month or facebook stalk one person for more than one hour or even “blow up someone’s facebook wall” so that they get a ton of emails with my name in it from Facebook. Even if I just put Facebook on timeout for one hour every day, then I would get more sleep, read more, run more, eat more...I used to think that someday I would “outgrow” facebook, but now that my parents are on there, and it is the main way to “keep up” with my friends and family, I highly doubt that will happen.

Of course, here I sit, writing this blog on my computer, and after I am done, the blog will be automatically imported to Facebook for all the world to continue our craze with technology.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Beautifully Painful

The Outer Banks Half Marathon came and went in less than 1 hour, 20 minutes, and 24 seconds. Of course, if you account for the warmup, cooldown, and awards, the time would actually span from 5am to 1030am, for a total of five and a half hours of anxiety, excitement, exhaustion, pain, fulfillment, excitement, and every other emotion few and far between.

In the end, I came away with over a two minute PR and $650 richer in my third half marathon of life. I was also lucky enough to be considered as an "elite" athlete, even though I did not make the qualifying time coming into the half. Forunately, the race director was kind to let several of the Charlotte runners into this category because Megan and Ben submitted all of us as a very large group (thanks, guys!). I know that Bill and I will definitely be back next year to enjoy in the fun again!

The best part of OBX is the beautiful scenery coupled with the sound of the waves crashing onto the shore. There are some great places to check out - Garrett and I went to the Wright Brothers Memorial, which was absolutely astounding and inspiring all in one. Except for the moment when Megan's car got hit in the driveway, the weekend was relaxing, enjoyable, and exhilirating.

In a brief race recap, I was alone for the entire race with the exception of the first two miles, when a Russian was running alongside me. This proved to make things a little bit tougher on me mentally, but I still managed to run right on my target pace for the first 8 miles. Once I got to the bridge around mile 9, my pace began to drop, the lowest point reaching a 6:33 mile on the atrocious hill. By the time I got my pace back under control, I only had one more mile and, at that time, I really just wanted the finish line to be migrated to the 12 mile mark because I was spent. The finish was pretty ugly as I could feel my form falling apart in the last 800m.

As I now relfect on my race splits, there are definitely race items to improve upon and focus on for the upcoming training cycle. For 2010 training, I need to run some more tempos as well as hill repeats. It would be ideal to have the Bueana Vista hill from when I was in college moved to Charlotte. If anyone knows of a good 800m hill in Charlotte near Dilworth or Myers Park, please let me know!

Now that OBX is over, it is back to running base miles for the next two months with minimal workouts and continuously easing back up to higher mileage to peak at 75 miles in late January. I'm not sure what's on the plate for next year's spring races, but the main goals are:

1) Foster the growth of the Charlotte Running Club.
2) Have fun.
3) Enjoy the company.
4) Achieve one new PR
5) Win at least $2000 in race earnings for the year.

Should be some good times ahead!

PS So proud of my sister who is getting back into running and training for her first half marathon!

PPS Proud of Molly N for making a tough, but smart decision during the race this past weekend. You can get your goals in the next one!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

2009 Training comes to a close with OBX

This Sunday is the Outer Banks Half Marathon, a race that I have had my eyes set on since March of this year. Coming into this race, I need to look at my 2009 year in running to see how I've prepared for this race, the pinnacle of my training for the past four months.

The first half of 2009 was almost a complete joke compared to the second half. In the spring, I couldn't break 18:15 on the flattest course for the life of me. I struggled with low iron through the South Park Race Fest Half marathon. My calf got strained in May...and the list goes on.

After that calf strain, a string of seemingly magical events unfolded that led to a turn around of my training. Aaron, Jay and I teamed up to get the Charlotte Running Club rolling, and suddenly I had five guys to run with. Then I had 10 guys to run with...and the there were 20 people on our long runs at Davidson in the summer. The next magical event was that we started doing things after runs at the Hepp-Hovis Training Facility after long runs...taking a dip in Lake Norman with some great company.

I also took a step away from the track, and instead focused on building my strength again, by increasing my mileage steadily without doing workouts. Aaron and I completely transformed our spring training plan, making it less track-centered and more quality-centered. Most of our runs were based on feel, and we cared less about the distance, and more about the effort (following the Kara Goucher plan). Instead of doing mile repeats, we ran hard for 6 minutes.

Most importantly, I began having more fun. Running because the social highlight of my day and I enjoyed practically every step that I pounded out there with Megan, Ben, Dan, Val, Danielle and Chad, Thomas, Jay, Aaron, Matt, Jocelyn, Kylee, Mike, Bill, and whoever else that may have joined us all. It's been a blast getting to know everyone, and it's cool to think that we're all helping each other in the same endeavor: to beat our latest PR.

Good luck to everyone this weekend!!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Born to Run for the Best Time of Your Life

Some say that high school is the best time of your life. Others will assert that college is the best time of your life. I used to go with the latter – college was the best time of my life. Wake Forest was a place where I found my own new family, completed challenging academic courses, and, of course, ran at the NCAA level. In case you hadn’t noticed, the key word here is “was.”

I’ve decided that while college was a great and memorable experience, my Wake Forest memories are just that – a conglomeration of images and conversations captured in a closed chapter in my book called Life. Of course, the friends that I made during this time will continue to be a huge part of my life, but we’ve all closed the Wake Forest chapter and have moved on to create a new life with new careers and new cities we call home.

Since I am a runner, I put more of my life thoughts together on my workout this morning with Bill and Megan. Megan and I were running alongside each other, stride by stride in lane one of the track. In a way, my legs had carried me back to my glorified memories of Wake Forest, of track workouts done with Merry and Michelle. Suddenly, I was also flashbacking to high school, watching myself run my first track workout of life, with Coach Holda yelling in the background. Before I knew it, another memory flashed before my mental eye: I was running my first Grace Race Fun Run with my dad alongside me to cheer me on every step of the way. The last glimpse into my past was of my tiny legs scurrying to keep up with my parents as they ran point-to-point on a cross country course to cheer on my older sister in the Carbondale Invitational.

For the most part, the best times of my life have always been a direct result of the presence of running in my life. I say “for the most part” because there are times when running seems to make life completely miserable, but this is usually when injury prevents running from even happening. Most of my happy memories have to do with running, whether it is how I met five of my closest friends, or that it’s the reason I still fit in my tight skinny jeans, or that it surrounds me with fellow weird and eccentric people. Running extends itself into all aspects of my life in a way that brings light into my every day.

For this, the best time of my life was the moment that running was intially exposed to me. The most promising part is that the best times continue to come. Thanks mom and dad for running marathons when I was baby because it’s been with me since I was in the womb. :o)

Note: I would also like to point out that you could swap out running and insert any of your favorite sports into this blog. Mostly, I think of Garrett Bullock, aka boyfriend, who quite possibly loves baseball more than I love running. He's been throwing baseballs since he was about two and he continues to pitch in the minor leagues for the Houson Astros organization. Anyone who knows him would know that baseball and his family are the two best parts of his life. I feel lucky to continue to learn from him.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Unleash the Wild Things!

On Friday night I decided to bring one of my favorite childhood books to life by going to the movie "Where the Wild Things Are." The main character Max is, to be quite honest, somewhat psychotic and out of control; he is so wild that he makes even the "wild things" seem tame once he gets to their remote island. I walked out of the movie thinking that kid needed some major attention, otherwise he would be a complete wackjob by the time he made it to high school.

Flash forward to the next day when I was exuberant that Garrett was in town for some quality boyfriend/girlfriend time. In the middle of washing the dishes, I would let out wild screams, cat calls, or meows. Random bursts of excitement would echo out through my strange sound effects, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After I did these things that Garrett barely even noticed (this is a common practice for me, so it no longer seems strange to him when I cry out random sayings to nobody in particular), I realized that I was acting a bit like Max. Max loves to run around wildly, flailing his arms, and without notice to his surroundings.

The main reason I bring this up, is that despite the fact that "Where the Wild Things Are" is meant to show that sometimes being a family is hard, a completely opposite meaning resonates with me instead. My take-away from the movie is quite simple: you should let yourself be goofy sometimes.

With this main message resonating through my head, I could not stop thinking about running. Think about it...Aren't most of the runners you know a bit on the quirky side? Most of us have one distinguishing feature when we let our "wild side" come out. Take, for instance, some of the antics of our very own from the Charlotte Running Club. Aaron Linz lets out a tribal scream accompanied with a clap of the hands after almost every repition during workouts, even if he is feeling like absolute crap. This definitely keeps my spirits upbeat if my legs feel like garbage. On the other hand, Jay Holder likes to make a noise with his lips when he is either confused or surprised that sounds much like "bluh-blub-blub-blub." Matt Jaskot wears hand-me-down soccer shorts from his co-worker's eleven year old son...and the list could go on and on...What are your quirky ways???

In many ways, I believe that this wild side needs to be released every so often in order to keep life sane and also exciting. Wandering through the house, I'll break into a dead sprint and stop abruptly before I hit the fridge. This is me letting go of all social conventions, letting my soul out to fly openly and freely, shining in its brilliance. The same thing happens for me while running.

Although I am very biased, runners quite possibly could be the best at letting themselves act freely and without thought. After all, once we get into a running rhythm, our legs and arms flow freely without thought for hours every week as we mechinically go through the movements to create stride after stride. This is the true characteristic that runners eventually possess after running for years, no matter what your pace may be. For this, we should all rejoice in the spirit that we know how to let loose and just live life.

Feel free to share some of your strange antics!!!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Vegetarianism and Running

One year ago my dad sent me a Vegetarian Times article on Scott Jurek. The article highlights the benefits of being an elite athlete with a vegan diet and how such a diet has attributed to his successes as an ultrarunner. His on-the-run diet consists of bean burritos or homemade bread slices with hummus spread instead of the artificially sweetened energy gels. Outside of runs, Scott focuses on eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible.

With this natural vegetable protein, his body absorbs enough protein to sustain his energy levels and then some. At the time, I read the article and almost forgot about it because I thought that it would be too much effort, not to mention money, to mimick Scott's eating habits.

One year later, Scott Jurek showed up in my life again.

Garrett (boyfriend) was given a Men's Health article about the Tarahumara people in Mexico and how Scott Jurek went down to run with them back in 2006. This article covered how this ancient tribe living in the divets of canyon walls have mastered the art of long distance running, minus the injuries and minus the well-cushioned-hundred-dolla-a-pair shoes. Somehow an ultra race of 50 miles was set up to put up America's best - Scott Jurek - up against the Tarahumara, who run more miles in a day than some people drive in a day, since the age of five.

I felt like the article was meant for me because the Tarahumara live on mostly vegetables and the land, and also run. Now I was beginning to be inspired. I wanted more. I wanted to know more about Scott Jurek, what compelled him to go down to the Copper Canyon, risk getting shot by drug cartels, and then run on trails that, with one misstep, could propel a person off the cliff.

Of course, boyfriend came through again. He found out that there was actually a book on the Tarahumara and the race that Scott Jurek came down for. Boyfriend Garrett figured I would be enamored with the book immediately. I was a little perturbed that in the Mens Health article they didn't actually notify readers of this fact, but all is well. I found "Born to Run" by Christopher McDougall (same author of the MH article) on for $14.58 and it arrived the next day.

I'm not going to summarize the book for you (go buy it for yourself!), but I'm going to recount what it has inspired in me.

Scott Jurek is my hero. Not only for his vegan diet or his running, but for his character and peace of heart.

As course record holder of practically all of the major ultrarunning races, Scott Jurek clearly has a gift for long distance running. However, in my mind, Scott's most enlightening characteristic is his simplicity, humble nature, and compassion for seemingly all people. After trekking across levines and switchbacking up mountains to win 100-mile races, instead of returning back to his hotel room to bask in a steamy jacuzzi, he stays vigil at the finish line (McDougall 125).

There were only a couple of chapters in this book but about him, but one thing was clear to me: he cares compassionately for all people and truly does treat them all with the respect and consideration that they deserve. After he was beaten by one of the Tarahumara, Scott bowed to the winner. I believe that this immense and genuine compassion for people, food, and life in general translates over to his success in running. I beleive that Scott truly runs for love.

Sigh. I want to go to Seattle and shake Scott's hand. Then I want to discuss the advantages of being a vegan while chomping on one of his black bean burritos. After that, I want to watch him run an ultra race, win, and then cheer on all the others who may be hours behind him.

Until then, I'll try to carry over my compassion for running into my compassion for other people. This book made me reflect upon how I treat others and how I should definitely be showing more compassion for everyone that I am lucky enough to have in my life.

Despite the selfish nature of this sports, maybe long distance running can make me a better person.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Content in Charlotte - FINALLY!

I went to Mexico with Garrett who happens to be one of my best friends and also my boyfriend. It was awesome. I had a blast. It was nonstop fun, relaxation, and bliss, all rolled into one.

So why was I craving to be in the know as to what was going on with all my Charlotte buddies? Usually you are not supposed to want to leave an all-inclusive vacation because you miss your life back home. Obviously, I had a blast in Mexico, but by the fifth day of vacation, I was feeling separation anxiety from the social base I have formed here in Charlotte. I even caved in to my addiction and paid 15 USD for all day internet, that was only accessible in the hotel lobby, and logged onto gchat to catch up with family and friends. I even used Skype to call Aaron because he had such a huge PR in the VA Beach Half Marathon that I could not stand to wait and not get the race recap in his own words.

Clearly, my social circle that is mainly comprised of members from the Charlotte Running Club has become a strange addiction. Upon any separation that exceeds more than one day, I begin craving the facebook logon to read all the status updates, reading the "Weekly Runner" e-newsletter, and can't help the itch for the next long run to get caught up on the latest gossip regarding area runners.

It's a good thing that all of my other friends are pretty good facebook stalkers as well. :o)

The whole point of mentioning this addiction is that while some people may think it is unhealthy to think about your life back home while on your vacation, I think it is a clear indicator that I have formed my "third" family here in Charlotte. My second family would be those people that I met at Wake Forest, who hold an especially dear place in my heart. :o)

Some people have that itch to get out into the world and move somewhere completely new, and I definitely consider myself this kind of person. I'd like to include myself in the list of friends I know that have taken that risk to move very far away from everything that they have ever known to embark on an entirely new life experience where you can build your life from scratch.

1. Kylee just moved to Colorado to be in the West since she had never been.
2. Matt is going on a cross country van trip until he runs out of money
3. My brother Joey moved to Phoenix without a job and now loves it
4. Merry took the leap and moved to Boston!

For those that know me, I have always stated that I really would love to live in California at some point in my life, and I still see this as a dream I would like to turn to reality...but not quite yet. Obviously, I love my sister and would love to be out in the West very much, but at this point everything has finally fallen into place for me here in Charlotte. The running club has really taken off, my job is getting better, and I have friends that I can depend on. I don't want to go through the whole process of making friends and finding running buddies all over again!

It is great seeing how so many of my friends who have pounded out grueling mile repeats or long runs all together have improved dramatically over the last four months. Together we are all truly a team, dedicated to helping each other achieve in all aspects of life - running, life, job, whatever.

Keep up the good work!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Garrett Bullock and the Greeneville Astros

The day I posted my blog, my mom sent me a text that said "I love the idea of your blog Caitlin...but what about Garrett? I want to hear his updates!" It is an ongoing joke between Garrett and I that my mom loves him more than me because he helped her mulch the garden when he came to so ill for a visit. Once I told him about the text, he of course rubbed it in some more. :o)

Mom, this is for you then.

Garrett was notified on Saturday, June 27 that he was to report the next day in Greeneville, Tennessee, for a spot on the Greeneville Astros minor league team nestled in the TN mountains. After weeks of uncertainty and perhaps even doubt, Garrett showcased true mental tenacity as he continued to fine tune his pitching mechanics through bullpens with high school catchers, to run track workouts in the sweltering Carolina heat, and to lift weights that nearly tripled his own body mass. He did all this without even knowing what the fate would be for his baseball career, only assuming for the best: that he would get picked up by a team.

Garrett has always amazed me because he has the mental strength and endurance of that of a distance runner. He truly can use his mind to overcome any physical pain or weakness. The mind usually triumphs the body in his case. Perhaps this is what got Garrett to Greeneville, Tennessee, or maybe it was just in fate's (or God's) hands?

Regardless, he has made four relief appearances and has allowed one unearned run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings pitched. His padres both got to see him throw a perfect inning of relief last Friday night (on July 17) against Johnson City, striking out two of the men he faced. You can read his box score online since I don't know that much about it (even though I bought a book on baseball for stupid girls).

To sum it all up, he is super happy, loving baseball, and excited for what is to come.

Be sure to keep checking out the website!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Charlotte Running Club

I tend to meet people in random ways. This is how I have met most of the people who have started the Charlotte Running Club.

To understand how the Charlotte Running Club was conceived, it is important to first understand how I met most of its original founding members. Matt was the first runner in Charlotte that I met. I purposely ran the Hog Jog 5k with the sole intention of introducing myself to the guy that ran the time closest to my goal times.

At the end of the race, in the post-run-party-tent, I waited for the announcer to present award to the third place male. After he walks away with his trophy, I immediately went up to him and said, "Hey! Do you live uptown?" He kind of looked at me all crazy and was not sure I was talking to him. I said, "Hey, I'm talking to you!" And then he said "Oh, Hey! yeah, I live uptown." From there I gave him my name and cell phone number to call me so that we could link up for some runs. Luckily, I did not scare him too much because he texted me a couple days later to schedule a "running date."

About a month after meeting Matt, I got a random email in response to a Craigslist posting that I had forgotten about. Right when I moved to Charlotte in July, I posted an ad for a running buddy that could run 760-730 pace per mile for long runs. Three months later, I decided to check my email account and someone had responded! I got excited and immediately responded, and after the email exchange got longer, I found out that this strange man also worked uptown and was willing to run from work in the evenings.

Of course, I put on my safety first hat, and was genius enough to google-stalk him first before I actually agreed to meet him. It was afterwards finding his personal webpage that proved he was not a creeper when I received an email from him, stating that he had a personal website to prove he was not a stalker. Clearly, we were both thinking of the same page. I found out later that he, Aaron, had also google-stalked me and found me on the Wake Forest Sports webpage.

To say the least, I introduced Matt to Aaron, and then as the months went by, Aaron met Jay, another local runner from Run For Your Life. With this core group, Aaron was inspired to launch a running club to bring together the masses of the CLT running community into one scene.

Now, two months after the inception, we boast about forty members, two sponsors, a newsletter, a webpage, and even a logo. Together, Aaron, Jay and I have truly made some big strides of making the club into a reality with the hopes of organizing what was once a disconnected conglomeration of runners that had no central place to find out where people got together to run.

Furthermore, it has been great to be surrounded with a group of people who are truly invested in running and share the same passion as my own.

This post was practically a marathon so I better stop here. Essentially, I trust that the Charlotte Running Club will continue to grow!!

Welcome...Life Goals.

I started this blog for a couple of different reasons. First, I feel like I get dumber with each passing day as my graduation from Wake Forest moves further away into the distance. Instead of honing on my writing skills, I feel like they are slowly slipping past me and I know that the fact that people could potentially be viewing what I write will serve as a motivator to perfect my sentence structure and my word choice, as well as to make my explanations more elaborate and coherent (as opposed to my verbal stories which seem to branch off into ten different directions).

The other main reason I am now writing publicly is because I am horrible at talking to my parents on a regular basis and they deserve to see and hear into some of my inner thoughts since they don't have the luxury of being within driving distance to their youngest daughter. Finally, more and more of my friends and family seem to be all over the country, and even the world with two of my closest friends in Sweden and in London. Hopefully I can still feel connected to them via this route.

With that said, my first topic was discovered while I was lying in bed this past weekend at 1:23am. I realized that this is the first time in my life in which my next goals are not going to be just thrown at me by outside sources.

To elaborate, in eighth grade, it was a given that I was going to enter high school and join the cross country and track team. I pursued honors courses and did not really do anything else besides run and do homework. I had the final goal in sight the first day of freshman year: to get out of Carbondale, Illinois and go to a college that was not within a day's driving distance to my hometown. I knew that I would develop so many important life skills by learning how to make new friends and find myself completely independent of my parents and everything else that I had known. Clearly, the next goal in life was also a given: graduate high school and go to college.

Once I got to college, the goals were handed to me again. My coach told me what times to achieve and gave me the workouts to help me do that. My professors gave me homework with the expectation that I would complete it. Needless to say, I completed all the steps that would allow me to graduate and then suddenly I was thrown into the real world, with no one there anymore to tell me what the next steps were. At that very instant, I became the luminary of my life, with sole ownership and responsibility for my future life path.

This got me to thinking that I better start writing down some goals before I get to my life five years from now and think "I have no direction, no goals, and have not moved forward at all with my own development since I graduated. Eek!" That scares me, so I obviously am beginning to take the necessary steps by acknowledging it is time to take charge.

With that long explanation, I've split my goals into three different categories of what is most important in my life right now: career goals, running goals, and personal goals. These goals are oriented for my four year future life path. I figured that since my life before this was split into four-year segments, I might as well keep it at that.

Running Goals
1. Sub 18 min 5k road race
2. Sub 1:20 Half Marathon 2010
3. Focused diet and nutrition to keep iron levels at a maximum level.
4. Run sub 3 hr marathon debut 2014

Personal Goals
1. Read at least 12 books a year (would be fantastic if i could get 24!).
2. Take a digital photography class.
3. Take a class at local community college that interests me, to keep me feeling intellectually stimulated.
4. Travel somewhere exotic and see the world.
5. Enjoy my time living with John and continue to build stronger relationships in my "for now" home of Charlotte
6. Move to California whether for school or job by the time I am 25 years old. Target of 2011. It is a goal to live near my sister at some point during my life.
**Personal goals are dependent on how much time I have outside of work and how much I dedicate to volunteer activities**

Career Goals
1. Increased participation in Charlotte Running Club as Vice President.
2. Become a bigger player at the Charlotte Flights Youth Track Club. Make relationships with Coaches, Parents, and Athletes.

3. Work on current team at Bank of America for one more year, get a new title of Change Consultant 2009-2010
4. Find a new role in Marketing at BOA in either Bank of America Marathon role or as a marketing associate for the Olympics. 2010/2011
5. Summer 2011/2012: Application Essays for MBA school for entrance in Fall 2011. Top Schools: Stanford, Northwestern, UCLA, Texas, UC Davis, UNC
6. Study for MBA to improve test score to above 700. Target test date Summer 2011

That's all I've got for now, but any feedback is completely welcome. I have always been an advocate for constructive criticism, so speak your mind!