Friday, February 21, 2014

Photo Fridays: Mayan Splendor I

Temples Xunantunich, Belize. (2013)
As a kid growing up in Southern California, there was semester of 5th grade that covered the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. To say I was fascinated is an understatement. I promised myself if I ever was in country that contained ruins of any of these people, I would try to get to see the ruins. Last year I found my in Belize for a wedding. While we were staying off the coast on Ambergris Caye, a 90 minute ferry ride back to the mainland, I convinced a few of my friends to go with me to the temples. We let the owner of the ferry company arrangements. Early one morning the ferry came to collect us. The adventure consisted of the 90 minute ferry ride and then 2 hour car ride across most of Belize to near the Guatemalan border to Xunantunich. During the trip out to the temples my friends looked concern as it was taking longer than I guess they expected. All concern evaporated when we finally made it to the temple complex. To say it was amazing is an understatement. For me it was a highlight of the trip (a close second was swimming with sharks and stingrays). The white stone, in the foreground of the shot, is the ledge of the largest temple in the complex.   

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Lightening up to Hit a Goal

On March 30, 2014, roughly six weeks from now, I will be lining up to start my 16th Half Marathon, The Love Run in Philly. Due to an extremely cold and snowy last several weeks with a side of the flu, my training program was seriously derailed. I mean seriously derailed. This is not helped by the fact that I have a love hate relationship with the treadmill. Meaning I love the concept of getting training miles in without having to brave the cold, ice and wind, but after about four miles I feel like a hamster. At some point on my treadmill runs the Oingo Boingo song “Running on a treadmill after you” starts playing through my mind no matter what music I splaying on my iPod.
As one week of not training gave way into another week of not training and so on until I was looking at almost four weeks without any solid training. I began to feel depressed about losing all the off-season ground work I had carefully laid down in preparation for my winter training. The seeds of doubt were germinating and taking over, dark storm clouds were closing in on my training horizon. Yes, after completing fifteen half marathons and one marathon over the last eleven plus years, I was doubting myself. I toyed with the idea of bailing on the race, even checked out the deferral policy.
Somewhere from deep down within me a voice said “oh not so fast kiddo! You are not bailing on this one! Get your butt back on the training program and make these six weeks count.” So Sunday afternoon I found myself pulling into the gym parking lot and stepping back on the treadmill. The first mile was tough, my legs protesting by triggering aches and pains from nonuse to throw me off. Eventually muscle memory took over and the next three miles became smoother, not easy but smoother. I still run up against a wall at about the four mile mark on the treadmill, but I will take it. Monday’s workout went even better. I guess by acknowledging the fact that I got off course was enough to get me out of the quitting funk.
I posted on Facebook that I was feeling determined, with the status of “It is buckle down time... 6 weeks out until the half marathon... And I am behind in my training. Love Run I will be ready!!!! The encouragement I got from several sources was just enough wind to fill my sails. My cousin, who is a seasoned marathoner, provided encouragement and the verbal smack I needed to eliminate those seeds of doubt, “You have so much experience that you'll ramp to where you need to be very quickly.” and “You just get back to routine and you'll start feeling better quickly. Good luck. I'll be cheering you on.” I like to think that I am a pretty good lone warrior, but I am slowly realizing that yes, even I, sometimes need a village to remind me that all is not lost and if I lighten up a bit, the goal may just come back into to focus.
My goal you may ask? Originally it was to break the sub three hour finish mark (I generally power walk the half marathons). I have been inching closer and closer to doing that with each half marathon I complete. In order to bust through the 3 hour finish mark, it means adding running into the mix. The transition from power walking to running is not as easy as one may suspect.  Now that I am making my way back on track and feeling happier, I have lightened up my goal. My goal now is to complete the half, have fun (not injure myself) and set a personal best, even if it means that my first sub 3 hour finish must wait for the next half marathon on my schedule.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Quotable Monday: The Ultiamte Lesson

"The ultimate lesson all of us have to learn is unconditional love, which includes not only other but ourselves as well."
Elisabeth Kubler Ross

Sunday, February 16, 2014

My Snowy Valentine (Special Weekend edition of Wordy Wednesday)

As I posted on a Facebook status earlier in the week before a Nor’easter hit the east coast, “More snow….sigh. Not that I am a snow downer, I actually like snow. It is just that I grew up with it always being up in the mountains and we could visit it, not live in it.

As the storm hit there were the normal news reports all about the snow. About midway through the reporting day when the talk of snow no longer seemed novel, the stories than turned to how all the snow was going to impact Valentine’s day. More like how it was going to affect sales of Valentine’s related items. Sigh, got love our capitalistic culture. One reporter while interviewing one man, asked him if he had his valentine’s day shopping already done? and the man replied that he was single with no one to shop for… and then there was an awkward moment of silence before the reporter changed the topic back to the snow.

 Ah the joys of being a singleton around certain days, namely Valentine’s Day and New Year’s eve.

A well-meaning acquaintance asked me, as we waited for the metro train, what I was going to do tonight since it was Valentine’s day and I was single. I took a slight breath, smiled and said I am doing what everyone else is doing, I am enjoying the evening, picking up flowers, having a nice dinner and opening up a little special gift. She said “Oh, so you are dating someone?” I said “No, but there is no reason I have to sit this holiday out, I can be my own Valentine!” I smiled as the metro train pulled to a stop. Where we were happened to be standing was between two train cars, as she turned to head to the car that stopped ahead of us, I turned on my heel and walked to the one that stopped behind us. 

 Now I could easily grumble about how insensitive she was being or how these holidays are stacked against singles. I could have said I am boycotting Valentine’s day and be done with it… but that bad attitude leads really only to turning a lovely day into a bad one. Although, I will admit it wasn’t that long ago I was a negative nelly about the whole Valentine’s and New Year’s eve being single thing. I almost sat out this past NYE, perfectly content to be holed up in my apartment with my bad mood. It was not because I did not have any options, it was that whole “you are single on NYE (poor you)” thing looming over me like a dark storm cloud. I did go out and had a fabulous time. What caused the change in my perspective? A new tube of lipstick and lip liner.  Yes it is true… something as small as a new lipstick can change one’s perspective. I am very much an optimistic person, when I am in a bad mood all that is needed is a glimmer of a positive light and my bad mood starts to retreat. I really can’t explain it beyond that I think my being likes to be happy and positive, so when I am not the second something happy or positive happens….BOOM the bad mood begins to recede. For me on NYE, the happy thing just happened to be a new lipstick.

It is probably the change of perspective I needed for a long time. I am working on this “love thy self” stuff or what it really is the “trying not to be so hard on myself.” So heading into this Valentine’s day the only storm clouds that darkened my world were the ones that left several inches of snow. In case you are curious, yes I did buy a new fabulous lipstick and lip gloss, not because I was in a bad mood or needed a “happy” heading into the holiday. I bought them simply because they were fabulous.