Autumn Whirlwind

It has been a busy and interesting summer and the same can be said for how the fall is going so far.

My pavement related and offseason training goals this past summer were all but shattered when I caught a severe cold bug from (presumably, not 100% sure) a friend who was in town to visit and the result was severe bronchitis – at one point we suspected pneumonia, but thankfully the X-ray came back negative – that kept me from training or even excercising most if not all of June.
I returned to basic exercise (i.e. anything that didn’t involve running) only the final week of June and running the first week of July. And this was after SEVEN weeks of not running – I had taken two weeks off after Broad Street and was planning on light training when I contracted the bug. So coming back in the thick of the heat after seven weeks of no running?

Ugly. Just it was hilariously ugly.

I struggled to even run quarter mile intervals on the treadmill and my first run back with City Sports was a nightmare in nearly every sense of the word. Thankfully keeping at it, by the end of July I was back to basic distance, but pace, I was still off (slower) by roughly a minute/mile pace, and I was slow enough to begin with by most people’s standards.

At the same time, with work burning me out, I had taken a few short holidays to recharge. I screamed for a European vacation, especially with both the pound sterling and euro falling dramatically, I could afford RT to Ireland for 550. Yes, you are reading this correctly. $550.

Strangely, at the same time, I was also concerned about my moving expenses going to DC – especially if I took on a new job, absorbing (in most cases) relocation costs. As a result, my longer holiday for the summer was spent in Quebec. Amtrak train trip was entirely free for myself, along with a few nights in a Marriott hotel, thanks to the points I’d accumulated from my own work travels. Canada was a double edged sword – it was an aggressive agenda, seeing both Montreal and Quebec City in 6 days, 2 of which consisted of the Amtrak ride through the Adirondacks. It was a scenic ride, but overall the trip meant we were constantly on the go. It was great for keeping me in shape, but my mother was more exhausted after that week (despite my multiple warnings about the agenda and pace of the trip – several times I offered her to prolong the trip to ease the pace, but she refused as she had a religious pilgrimage the days following our return). Still I thoroughly enjoyed the trip, the sights, the food and everything in between.

But breathers aside, it has been a busy summer. I visited my friend Caroline in NYC, who is training for the NYC marathon, spent a few weekends with other friends exploring the city and just overall doing fun stuff. But now a lot of the fun is slowing down – or stopping altogether – as the fall gets even crazier.

Thankfully I did not schedule myself for any half marathons at all this coming fall, between my anticipated job search, a wedding that is taking place abroad and a few other things I would have to tackle personally, scheduling my long runs for the Philadelphia Marathon was tough enough.

Training for the fall came slowly and steadily, and strangely enough, I’ve been training conservatively enough that the chances of injury to my shin are very small compared to what I encountered in 2013 when I tried to train for the half and the full and maybe leaving out a half and structuring around it might have been the answer here. Although I have been trying to keep my runs to no more than three times a week and only in excess of 14 miles for my long run do I increase to four, but never five times as my shins need longer time to recover from the longer runs. This still gives me a day to do weighttraining and a day to rest entirely. And so far it’s been fine.

My family continues to use my passion for running and travel – nothing new – as a lightning rod and sadly that has not changed. It has made things more difficult for me mentally as I cope with other issues and stress in general. Somehow, that passion will carry me through the finish, through the end of the marathon, and my time altogether in Philly. Ironically this is my last opportunity to ever run Philly and see the city in its utmost passion neighbourhood by neighbourhood – although Broad Street has done a pretty bang up job of that as well. Looking ahead to next year, I am slated for the DC marathon in March 2016, but after that, I’m looking at a general focus on my body strength and less so on endurance. I am thinking 2 races ranging between 10-13 miles – easier to train for and a much easier ability to adjust for, as personal priorities shift with my scenery.

To put it frankly, aside from focusing on my new job – wherever or whatever that might be – I will place a much heavier emphasis on my social/personal life – at my age, it is very difficult to meet new friends, although in DC, with many people my age, single, adventurous and ambitious, I won’t feel as out of place as I ever did in Philly. I remain optimistic I will find a crew of people with interests similar to mine (fitness overlapping or not) and maybe a few developing closer connections with. A stronger support network that I never really had living in Philly, that’s for sure. And even more critical now with my brother taking a position in Minnesota, much further away and moving further away myself from my own family, even as fractious as our relationship can be sometimes.

Things are complicated, but somehow I’ll sort it out.

For now, the pavement brings me peace, a peace that still, little else and only a number of people that I can count on one hand, can bring. Even on the upswing, with my first slew of interviews in November, the pavement helps me to calm the nerves before the storm.

One thing at a time. For now, the pavement helps me digest both the good things and the bad. One step at a time.

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2015: A Crazy Winter

2015 has brought a number of things both running and non-running related to the forefront.

On the non-running end, is the realisation that my life is in need of a serious change and a lot of change simply won’t be happening until I get myself on the move literally to DC. The job search is underway and I’m open to a range of positions in both the private and public sector. As I’ve said to many of my friends, Philly was great the last almost 15 years, it’s great and practical for graduate students to live, but as a permanent place to live, no way. I’ve met a lot of friends over the years, but only recently have I made 1-2 friends that I could see myself forging long-lasting relationships with.

Even then, the ones that I’ve been extremely fortunate to know have introduced me to new adventures – skiing, travel, more cooking adventures, and ironically, the impetus to move on to DC.

instructor

The ski adventure in Blue Mountain was pretty scary – it look me a bit of time – a bit too much time to pick up the basics of skiing, and I think a lot of this had to do with the fact that I’m not used to moving with my hips and the motion of road running my body was used to moving in one direction. The lesson itself was quite aggravating as I continously was the one to struggle in the class. After the lesson was over though, a few hours later I was slowly getting it. I was fearful of injury though, so I didn’t take too many risks taking on some of the more complicated hills.

$90 was enough for us for a lesson, and access to the beginner and bunny hills. The more complicated ones required more expensive rates or passes, etc. Not that it mattered, the way the day went I was sticking to the bunny hills for quite some time.

ski shoes

The shoes were extremely uncomfortable and almost painful to walk in. Still all in all, a good day, and a good bonding experience. But unfortunately these memories have been a bit too few during my time here, and as I get older the lifestyle amongst people here is very different from the path that I want to take in both career and in life. So it goes. Happy hunting to me.

That said, my moving away has made my spring race schedule pretty solid, cut and dry, although courtesy of several running events, I’ve gotten the chance to secure complimentary entries to both the Love Run, which will be in NINE days…

Love Run free entry

and the Perfect 10 Miler in central New Jersey in October, courtesy of a Valentine’s Day event at Philadelphia Runner.

Perfect 10 free entry

Participation in the latter is VERY much up in the air as it’s in the thick of when I’m looking to move to DC. I had explored car rental, which would pretty much exceed what I’d pay for Broad Street, so it looks like I’d have to pray someone local is also doing that race and hitch a ride or I’d wind up passing my bib off to someone else who I know was at the event, which thankfully I know several people. Everything else aside, though, I do want to run the Philadelphia Marathon. Yes, all 26 miles.

I’ve lived in Philly for 15 years, and been running in Philly for the last six. Graduate school was largely to blame for being unable to run – the one year (2012) that I was slated to run the full, my body broke down under a crazy school load and I had only recovered in time to run the half that year.

I’ve kept up running with City Sports and I’ve had a number of awesome memories with this group. I definitely want to stick with them until I move for good, and seeing as they have 2-3 run clubs with their stores in DC, would hope that the same camaraderie exists with their DC groups.

candy

But most of this winter, my training’s been indoors due to the snow and my long hours at work. The Love Run half will essentially be a training run for my race in Lancaster on the 11th of April.

Broad Street is what I’m pumped for, as nearly everyone and their mother I know is running it. And it is most likely my last chance to be running this race, so I will enjoy every mile.

The training continues, onwards and upwards. And so I continue to work towards my goals, on and off the pavement.

More Miles and More Friendships

The autumn has proven to be extremely busy for me, many miles clocked in various cities for business, and followed up with two weeks in cold London. I’ve been running everywhere figuratively and literally, seeing the world and the country…all whilst keeping up with my Philly Half training. I’ve posted pictures of my excursions on Pinterest for both my UK trip and the downtime on my business trips to Atlanta.

Note: More details on the trips to follow in separate posts…

Atlanta’s miles were brutal, the place is very hot and hilly (hence its nickname Hotlanta) and the drivers are so terrible that running can be a leap of faith unless you are near the Botanical Garden in Midtown. London on the other hand was colder (about avg 50F) and rainy half the time.

Upon return home, I attended more running events as I ramped my training. Somewhere in there, I’ve made more friends and built relationships through events held by City Sports and Philly Runner, two stores whose running groups have been key to my training discipline and sanity and social world. A few smattering of pictures:

Halloween run with City Sports:
halloween run

The “candy” we got post-run – VERY yummy, the caramel ones taste more like chocolate. No wonder they do, given the ingredient list.
supercandy halloween

Costume Run with Philly Runner, part of their Halloween tradition.
IMAG2664

Philly Runner’s 10 year anniversary party – congrats to Ross Martinson and his crew for boosting the running community in Philly the last decade. Even after I leave Philly, I won’t forget all the fun memories. I only wish my schedule would have allowed me to parttake in a training team for one of the Philly races, nearly everyone I know has greatly benefitted from it!
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Getting photobombed at the 10-year party:
IMAG2680-1

It’s been quite a busy yet fun time meeting more people and I’m happy that I will be celebrating an early Friendsgiving with them! Here’s to more awesome memories over the next year racing and training in Philly and beyond!

Have you travelled anywhere interesting recently? Where have you gone? How did you get the miles in?

Any questions about the destinations I’ve been to, just give me a shout!

More Wine? Yes Please!

stash

My last getaway was my trip to Walt Disney World for my full marathon back in January and since then, amidst my final semester of graduate school and then an uptick at work, I had not had the time to actually get away from things.

In the meantime I had booked a trip to the United Kingdom in October and am planning a Christmastime trip to South Africa currently, but as that is still far off, I felt the need to find a new place, regionally, where I’d find it interesting, close enough to warrant driving, and relaxing to some extent.

Enter New York State’s Finger Lakes and its multitude of wineries. There are 5-6 lakes in total but the three main lakes are, from west to east, are Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake, and Cayoga Lake. We stayed in Horseheads (yay hotel points!) at a Fairfield Marriott about 8 miles south of Watkins Glen.

Our trip started on a sour note – as we were about to leave, my dad had a mishap that involved breaking a thermometer – with that dreaded mercury. Cleanup delayed us by about 2 hours, but we were all sorted out. We arrived about four hours later and managed to make dinner reservations at Jerlando’s Pizza, which was a very good Italian place carrying a lot of the local fare – and local wines.

menu

We split a margherita pizza and had a few glasses of wine. My dad had a riesling from Glenora – which ultimately guided us to that place, amongst many other places.

The next day we got up and had breakfast, as provided by the hotel. Overall our hotel was outstanding and even more than expected for a Fairfield, which makes sense as they have to compete with all the B&Bs and private hotels in the area, and closer to Corning and up Watkins Glen. The service and quality is worth the drive, not to mention the hotel was in the middle of a shopping center which made getting any essentials or other things easy.

Monday was a good day to hit a load of wineries. What I failed to do properly was plan for the rest of the trip, as my parents wanted to go hiking in Watkins Glen State Park. I had little problem with this – other than my fear my heights, which I quickly overcame if only for that day – except it was not communicated how long she wanted to spend there. What would further compound the issue is that my mother is NOT a morning person and my dad and I were very much so. This amounted to getting out of the hotel a serious challenge in of itself, and getting an early start on the sights/wineries/hiking was crucial as many places closed at 5pm. It was not like the city where you had a few hours in the evening to see things.

Unfortunately this was not something my mother easily understood or was willing to accept, culturally speaking, she takes things in a very relaxed manner. If I’d had planned for it, I would have avoided a lot of the problems we had on the trip. While I can adapt to sudden changes in schedule such as illness or poor weather (and we had plenty of that during our trip) or other things one cannot control, usually, there is some understanding as to what will happen in the time we had. But that said, it’s a good lesson learnt for future trips with others.

On Monday, we managed to squeeze in a load of wineries, all on the west side of Seneca Lake. We started off with Lakewood Winery, where I purchased a berry red win that would work for sangrias after their $2 tasting. Might I also add that nearly all the wineries’ pricing for tasting was quite competitive. The rest of their wines weren’t so bad, my dad and I had the dry lineup, whilst my mother had the sweeter lineup.

lakewood

We then headed off to Fulkerson, another place that my friend from Rochester recommended. I didn’t dig their wines, but my parents did. Dry wines were too flat for me, the sweet wines were way too sweet. 11% or greater residual sugar…no thanks.

fulkerson

Our next stop was Glenora Wines, where we clearly enjoyed their tasting the most. This is where I purchased a Gewerztraminer, nice and dry but still worked extremely well with spicy foods. We had our pick of six or seven wines here, though they had plenty of food samples.

glenora 1

After this, we stopped at Herman J. Weimer, another one of my friend’s recommendations. My mother sat this tasting entirely out as they had no sweet wines, but to their credit, she got one taste on the house, their sweetest at 5%. Of course, she is one to go for 10% or more.

weimer

Our last winery for the day was Fox Run Wineyards, where I purchased dessert wine for under six bucks! That never happens. A monroia, a dessert traminer. My mother got the same bottle.

That night, we hit up Wildflower Cafe, great fresh food at a reasonable price.

Tuesday, as mentioned before, proved to be an even more problematic day. Knowing that the weather would be an issue in the evening, we knew that we had to hike early in the morning and clear the park by midday so we could attack the cheese farms and more wineries on the East Side of Seneca Lake.

Watkins Glen State Park was overall a great place to hike with loads of waterfalls and plenty of shade. There was the option of a side trail but we all preferred the most scenic route out and back.

park

We cleared Watkins Glen State Park despite running late, but the day was ruined as on our way to the Lively Run dairy farm, we paid too much attention to our GPSes and not enough attention to the speed limit. We wound up getting dinged by a cop well after we passed the area in which the speed zone dropped.

Although I wasn’t driving, I was more than sour on the issue.

When we reached the goat farm, my mother took a stroll down memory lane herself seeing all the goats, as she used to raise goats in her homeland when she was younger. We had samples of the cheeses though, unable to preserve anything in the heat, had to move on without buying anything.

goat

We then took a jaunt along the East Side of Seneca Lake and squeezed in a few more wineries: Lamoureux, Wagner (along with the brewery) and Hazlitt with a 15-minute suicide squeeze.

At Lamoureaux, I found the riesling I so badly craved. Check. This was unfortunately for my mother, another place, which she sat out, as there were no sweet wines. Here you had your pick of five wines. My dad bought a Moscato from here.

At Wagner, I took to the brewery to also try their brews in addition to their wines, but I found I did not like the beer. Interestingly I had spoken to my friend who also said that Wagner beer was poor. At their winery, we had the option of their pre-picked lineup of seven wines, or any four we wanted. My dad and I picked the pre-picked lineup, whereas my mother went for the four sweetest wines possible. I wound up taking a semi-sweet red table wine for a cool six bucks. Not bad.

wagner

Finally at Hazlitt, my mother found more of her sweet preferred wines, which she took to purchasing a whole lot of. I purchased a few of the smaller bottles of wine, notably a Brambleberry and a White Stag. The Brambleberry in particular is FANTASTIC with dark chocolate.

After we wrapped up our wine tasting this day, the rain came pouring down again. We made it to a Mexican place on 4th Street, and had some very delicious food.

On Wednesday morning, we took a trip to Shtayburne Farm, where they were selling cheese. The cheese was very good, but with a six plus hour journey ahead of us, we would not be able to preserve any cheese in the July heat.

stash

Finally it was time to call a wrap down here. Didn’t want to leave, but had to.

Overall the trip was something I would not regret. Despite the bumps on this trip, I’d definitely come back here to celebrate a bachelorette here, or just spend a weekend her with friends or perhaps in the future, a significant other. Well someday, I suppose. It’s extremely peaceful and I love wine and I can see this being a nice retreat area for me on a long weekend. At the end, I not only learnt a lot about wine but a bit about travel planning and that can’t really be a bad thing, now can it?

My biggest regret though? Not buying enough bottles of wine.

You can view a full gallery of pictures here as well. Any questions on recommendations, feel free to ask.

Any wineries you recommend, either in this region or elsewhere in the Northeast?

What Race Weekend Means to Me

2 blue seas

With the Rock n’ Roll Philly Half Marathon just 4 days away and the expo set to kick off Friday, I can hardly stop thinking about it. It’s given me something to look forward to.

However it goes beyond the tangibles.

The freebies, the ability to try new products, the panels and speakers are nice. Don’t get me wrong. We all paid for a product, an experience, one way or another. I still plan on reviewing the entire race weekend experience as I’ve done in previous years. The race itself has given me goals and kept me in line and that finisher’s medal is looking very shiny.

That will help make my weekend but it’s not the main reason I’m excited. Not by a country mile.

In a world of social isolation, sheer human interaction and connecting with people has become critical for me. It has become a saving grace for me psychologically.

I made the choice to go back to school. I made the choice to pursue a demanding career. I have long accepted that it will have a significantly detrimental effect on my personal life.

What I did not anticipate however, was the inability to relate to others around me because of my life choices. I’m seeing it more with family, old friends from university, my current crop of classmates in graduate school and colleagues and it is terrifying.
And I live in a very large city too.

Conversations with friends, family, classmates and colleagues often break down into celebrities, TV shows, activities and/or home life with significant others, children and/or wedding planning from the perspective of the bride. Given my lifestyle, I couldn’t touch on most of those topics with a ten-foot-pole. In some cases I wind up completely embarrassing myself (case in point: I had no idea what Breaking Bad was until last month). On my end, I admit I focus more on the intellectual, but even that aside, I love talking travel, current events, sports (particularly hockey, soccer, baseball and running), general fitness.

What does this all mean? It’s insane work to forge or break into conversations and mission impossible to build friendships when you feel you are on a different planet from people.

Running has helped me belong again. A common group of people with common goals, and somehow even when the focus is away from running, I’m still able to relate to people. Even if we lead fundamentally different lives. I can be myself without encountering ridicule, I can talk about nearly anything of interest without feeling I’m losing control in the conversation, and I’m even learning new things.

4 back porch

Case in point, my first sailing trip last weekend. I’d never been to a yacht club, but was invited to a party by other runners on my team. We went down to the Corinthian Yacht Club of Philadelphia, which borders the Delaware River. It is in the southern suburb of Essington right by the airport.

6 boat row

Here, we kayaked, paddleboarded, and yes, sailed the open Delaware River. Everyone seemed old hat to the yachting and sailing experience, but for me, this was my first time ever in a sailboat. I’ve kayaked before, my last time being three years ago at my cousin’s wedding in Chestertown, MD, along the Chesapeake Bay.

9 way back

We spent most of Sunday afternoon and evening along the river and as our hosts found themselves caught out on the river after dark, we had a grand time chowing on typical barbecue food and carrying on.

10 sunset

I met other runners and plan on returning for more social events. I find that even within the running community I find we have a lot more in common than just running, and that’s a good thing.

11 moonlight

This weekend – race weekend – gives me a prime opportunity to meet with runners I know locally and those who have since moved out of town. It’s the weekend for run clubs to really bond over common goals, even if not all runners run the longer distances. (Our club has a mix of both sides, but even those that run shorter distances are very social.) These are people who despite fewer time spent with in comparison to fellow students or colleagues, have made a huge impact on my life. We push each other, catch up with each other, tailgate after the race and strangely, in some ways, the real me comes out of her shell.

The cascade of Twitter messages from others psyched up for race weekend only reminds me of all the excitement to come, both on and off the pavement. I enjoyed meeting up with people at prior races, and it won’t be any different.

Of Love And Running

Can they coexist? Can they coexist for me?

Recently on Twitter, Runner’s World alerted me to an article that brought up this topic.

For me, a middle of the pack runner at best, it brought up memories of my first group run, that I would hold up the group and irritate everyone because I was too slow. I couldn’t imagine annoying my partner on the run, I imagine most men who run would outrun me easily. As it stands I do run with a full group of people once or twice a week, and I am one of the slower ones in the group, but oh well. I have loads of fun and if last Thursday’s run club was of any indication, got to chat with other runners over beer and refreshments offered by Mizuno, who was sponsoring.

Miztable-blog

Mizbeer-blog

It also didn’t hurt getting to try on some Sayonaras either. Mizuno raffled a pair off, but unfortunately I wasn’t the lucky one.

Sayonaras-blog

If I ever met a runner, found him compatible as a runner, I’d probably approach it the same way. Figure out why he runs, whether he does it for fun, to lose weight, whether he runs races, whether he has a particular distance he enjoys, whether he prefers trails or the road, and whether he enjoys running with other people, or entirely alone. Even if our running preferences totally diverge, I imagine race weekend could be something that could bring us together. At the very least he would hopefully be understanding of a passion of mine, and I imagine like anything else, I could make my love of running work out with another runner. There’s a part of me that wonders if I could isolate any (generically speaking) partner potentially because of my running habit, but at the same time, we runners have the potential to inspire.

Case in point, my colleague Sergio broke the news to me that another co-worker was slowly developing the urge to run a 10km. And for many months he had kept telling us he had no desire whatsoever to run.

Shocking indeed.

But in any case, I’d treat a running partner (whether romantically involved or not) like any other potential partner – figure out our goals, likes, what is important to us in running, and then take it from there.

We don’t have to run everything together…but there are some things that could help us grow together – running or not.

It’s up to us to sort them out.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Negative Nancy?

We’ve all heard it before. The Negative Nancy. The quips that our non-runner friends may say to us. They might support us…or they might think we’re obsessive. It’s relatively straightforward (albeit not easy) to deal with those individuals whether the topic is running or another goal of ours.

What do you do when you have a loved one or a significant other who not only doesn’t support your love of running, but actively discourages it and pressures you repeatedly to stop because she doesn’t support the benefits or the belief of what running can bring? What if that person makes it the central point in holding your relationship hostage?

The above is just an example, but honestly, I’ve seen countless tweets about cutting out the negative people in your life – and that I have already done to some extent – but that strategy can also backfire significantly when it comes to a spouse, partner or immediate family being the negative one.

And when I say negative, I define it as someone who will consistently and actively discourage you from your goal, not someone who is simply absent as a source of support.

Last week, I told my mother on the phone that I was going to arrange to travel to Florida after the coming holidays as I planned for Walt Disney World Marathon. It would be my first true vacation in almost nine years (yes, nine) and a much needed break as I balance a full-time job with part-time schooling, my life for the past nine years.

Now given the trouble I got from running Marine Corps over a year ago, I should have known better. Then again she also has criticized me for – among other things – not adding her on Facebook and not telling her everything as a daughter. I cannot block her because as her daughter I am not allowed to block her out.

This would lead me to believe that she’s changed her attitude towards my running if she tells me I should trust her right? It’s been a goal of mine to try to repair our relationship, so maybe this is a start right?

Wrong, dead wrong.

When I mentioned Walt Disney, her reaction was…well I don’t know where to begin.

I would like to just block her out. It is a good train of thought. But avoiding her would mean avoiding the rest of my family.

This spreads over to the trust dilemma that I have. I say nothing to her relating to running, though I bring up other goals. One solution is not talking about running at all, but at some point a conflict of sorts will arise.

Should I really lie about flying to Florida on holiday? I tried to bring that topic up sans marathon, her next sentence was asking why January and not in the thick of summer.

Don’t get me wrong. We all have plenty of detractors in life when it comes to our goals, and chances are, most of these individuals aren’t too close to us, either strangers at best, or flat out rivals or adversaries. The ones that are close do it out of fear (rational or irrational) or ignorance.

The start line. 16 Sept 2012

The start line. 16 Sept 2012

To look at both sides of the coin, there are a variety of reasons people may object to our hobby. Let’s name them.

– time spent on training
– money spent on race fees and/or equipment
– threat and/or occurrence of injury
– time away from a partner due to the activity in question (though this can vary if the partner is a runner)
– running is a distraction from other goals (i.e. career, family life, see above)
– unhealthy obsession with diet and/or weight

I’m not defending or advocating on any of the above, but these are the common zingers I’ve either gotten myself, read about as a common problem, or heard others have gotten the same.

The specific reasons my mother has given over the last three years have changed but here are the issues she has thrown at me – and I warn you, some of these are shocking, but you cannot make these up:

1 I’m not spending my money on something worthwhile or saving for the future (similar to the generic money argument above)
2 Running shows my lack of goals and shows I don’t want to get married or raise a family
3 Running puts me at a greater risk for injury compared to simple workouts at the gym
4 You aren’t going to make a career out of it so why do it?
5 The cultural argument: that women don’t have to and should not engage in athletic activity.

Brooks Ravennas. 3 July 2011

Brooks Ravennas. 3 July 2011

Now for the common rebuttals that I have given my mother.

1 The money issue. I’ve had to attack this on two fronts. One in terms of my career and the second in terms of tradeoffs.

First, we all know that in relationships money is a sensitive topic. But my mother knows what I do for a living: I work in finance and I even have my CPA.

Now granted, does this automatically make me Suze Orman? No. However, being a financial advisor in any capacity (which is part of what I do), to not be responsible with my own money (and then advise someone else) is hypocritical at best. If I wanted to make something a priority, I’d budget accordingly.

My common retort to her is quite simple: “If I cannot afford it, without sacrificing another goal, I will not do it, end of.”

The second argument that I have is what I have sacrificed because of running from a behaviour standpoint. Running has forced me to get my diet in line. I eat out WAY less, always pack my lunch, and I rarely, if ever, drink at all. I’ve also gone out less because I need more rest on days around my long runs. Am I okay with that? Yes, I can deal. Guess what that also means though? Savings, even if that’s not a direct objective.

I love my veggies. 2 July 2012.

I love my veggies. 2 July 2012.

The bottom line? I run and make the respective sacrifices because I WANT to. Not because anyone is making me. The second I stop enjoying it, cannot afford certain things or find it impeding other important aspects of my life, is when I will stop.

When I lay these arguments in front of her, she comes up with the excuse that she is my parent and can say anything to me she wants.

That’s fine the first time because she does have a right to her opinion. I DO acknowledge her concern. Unfortunately she wants me to accept it and change. Repeating that opinion (beating a dead horse) does not fly on a perpetual basis, however.

Spinach, baby bella mushrooms, corn and goat cheese. 4 July 2012.

Spinach, baby bella mushrooms, corn and goat cheese. 4 July 2012.

2 Lack of desire to marry or raise a family. Where do I even begin? First off, I didn’t even know this was an either/or issue. I cannot even count the number of people that have some combination of family and active lifestyle and some of those people have those AND their careers.

This argument comes out of ignorance, but again, we are from a culture that promotes family and procreation, so this is a problem I would have even if I was not a runner.

My first defence will be to cite the number of people and the names of those who are doing it all.

Her argument: This is my concern for you as a parent.
My response: That’s fine and dandy, but at this point in time, that’s not a priority for me. School is.
Her response: Well look at all your friends from high school, all married and having families, and look at you.
Mine: There are many you know who can do it all and still run. As for me, children is not a path I want to take in my life. My lifestyle decisions are made irrespective of running. Right now, school is the biggest responsibility. If my grades dropped, I would have stopped ages ago.
Her: You can be in school and get married you know.
Me: Your point? Runners do not sacrifice everything to run. Some do, but the vast majority do NOT. I feel you are missing the point here.
Her: I’m keeping quiet while you are in grad school but we are going to hammer home your lack of family and hope the message gets through to you after you graduate.

After that, it will start to break down, but that’s the premise of my rebuttals.

At one point, I was advised by someone else on Twitter to tell her what I am doing to help my social life: meeting people through running events and/or graduate school. As good as that sounded, that also failed.

Her response: You can meet others who don’t encourage that [running], look at where your friends met their significant others.
Me: And some of them run together. Again look at (fill in examples of married runners).
Her response: Are you going to be running for the rest of your life? What is wrong with you?
Me: Nothing’s wrong with me, unless the doctor or trainer says so.

Smart-alecky on my part, I know, but I’m running out of options.

3 Injury. I have been running for our years, competitively (in races) the last three. Number of self-imposed injuries I’ve had? ONE. July 2010. Nothing since.

I focus on injury prevention in my training through my stretching exercises and an appropriate amount of weighttraining focusing on my core and quads. I rest 1-2 times a week depending on mileage, change and rotate my shoes accordingly.

Within my control, I have been fine. I pick up a few knocks here and there, but nothing that requires nothing more than RICE and possibly an extra rest day.

Outside of my control – two impact injuries sustained during races – have not occurred since MCM (October 2011). I’ve learnt from my mistakes and potential hazards. Does this mean I can prevent everything coming up? No, but I can read up, take advice from the veterans, and I reassure them that I clear everything every year with the pros.

Finisher's Medal, 30 October 2011.

Finisher’s Medal, 30 October 2011.

In this case, she has no rebuttal. She is not a physician and she herself is reluctant to argue with a doctor. As a result, she usually switches off to one of the other excuses.

4 Career Importance. The fitness career argument is relevant if I want to make it so. Plenty of people have had second careers as fitness professionals or personal trainers. I’ve kicked around several times wanting to be a spin instructor on the side, but this won’t be feasible until I graduate and don’t have to commit to schoolwork.

Overall though, this is irrelevant. It is a hobby that plays to my strengths and interests. People have hobbies, I tell her. Unfortunately, it rotates to the same argument given in #1 or #2, either I’m wasting money on something where there is no benefit or that I should be focusing my time on having a family.

“Your family will and should be your main focus. No need for a hobby.” she would say.

I’m not against family values, but last I checked, I thought mothers even tried to forge out some “me” time?

5 Culture. This is not something she explicitly states to me but many women of our culture emphasize physical relaxation and that sedentarism is the way to go. Thin women are seen as unattractive, and the diet is drastically different. She does not lecture me on my diet as she has lived in the States for a considerable amount of time however and also because I was raised on sports in my youth.

I have told her in the past that American culture is different and that my career requires a fast paced approach to living. The problem is that when I bring up culture, she either straight up denies it or goes back to the “I am the parent and what I say to you goes” mantra.

The reason finding a solution here matters is because unlike other “naysayers” I particularly cannot avoid my mother nor can (or should, really) I kick her out of my life. I also have a very good relationship with rest of my family that could also be an issue if I do truly kick her out.

At the very least I’d like to get her to leave me in peace, but even that seems like a big ask at this point.

That all said, I know it’s hard for some people to envision or discuss family matters or anything negative about family. I fully understand that in many cultures, family is and should be always numero uno.

Unfortunately not all of us were born with the same deck of cards and we’ve got to play what we have the best we can.

What are some of the ways you cope with a family member that does not support your running or other goals?

It’s a real kick in the teeth for me, because I vowed I would try to repair an increasingly frayed relationship with her. It is looking less and less likely now, this year, or even ever. My values, hopes and dreams are ever divergent from hers.

Your feedback is much appreciated. Post, tweet or email your observations, it’s all good. That’s all I’m aiming for – not a bashfest, not even a pity party. I am only looking to solve the problem at least with respect to the running.

Hopefully I can run the Walt Disney World marathon in peace, that’s all I really want. It’s a tough topic for many but one I felt I had to put out there.

Thanks for your understanding and I look forward to reading your responses.