Creating a Deeper Self-Trust

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My friend Jacqueline took this photo while she and her husband Reese were treating us to lunch at one of their regular spots in Taormina. Le sigh – I have friends with a “regular spot” in Taormina – who knows where life will take us next!

Week Two of marathon training was a bit…um…different than Week One. I’m gonna call mulligans or shennanigans or whatever golfers call when they want a do-over (I’m not actually going to do anything over, though). I was overwhelmed by circumstances, but still got through the week feeling strong and capable of continuing forward in my training.

Here’s the recap:

1. 3 mile easy run: Hilly route with MariBeth and Dan

2. 5 mile hilly run: Not so hilly Duomo run, pretty good incline on the return, but not all the way to a “hilly” run.

3. 6 mile easy run: Round around base – reminded how boring it is to run without Sicilian traffic and hills while simultaneously happy to have the opportunity to tune out and let my mind wander as it tends to do on long runs.

4. 7.5 mile run: My long, slow run this week – it ended earlier than scheduled in order to accommodate the heat and humidity that crept back into our weird Sicilian summer weather. I am allowing myself more “easy outs” in the first 4-6 weeks of my training for this marathon. My previous training patterns show full motivation at the beginning, when I force myself to overcome circumstances in order to “get tough” – but I never allow for practicalities or realities to interfere with the training as prescribe on the paper. In other words, I previously gave all power to the training plan established by someone who doesn’t know me and who isn’t here, but who wrote down a course of training that they *predict* would lead to the results I desire. To achieve different results, I must take a different approach – thus, I am allowing myself to pay attention to how I am feeling and how I am responding to the training schedule in the first 4-6 weeks – and to make modifications accordingly. If I need to skip a run, or cut out early, then I will do so. I’m upping my mental game in this way and creating a deeper self-trust that I am hoping will carry me through the panic attacks I felt around mile 20 in my October 2013 race.

I am also re-instituting my rule of thumb to complete any run prior to 10am. It is just too hot under the strong Sicilian sun after 10am in the summer months. We have been having cool evenings (mid 60s F), and even some strong thunderstorms, so the weather this year is quite different than the blazing heat that lasted through the nights last summer. Our most recent thunderstorm left a significant amount of snow on Etna’s southwestern face – it was really strange to see a snow-covered peak on the drive home in July. We’ve been enjoying the mild temperatures in the evenings and happy to still get outside on the weekends. But, there’s always August and September to accommodate the typical Sicilian heat. We’ll see what comes next.

This weekend, I will take my phone and do a photoblog of my long distance run!

Ciao!

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Running on a Dream

Ciao a tutti!

I’m still hanging tough in good old Sicily, and have recently been out and about in mainland Italy (pictures at the end of this post). Equally as exciting, I completed Week 1 of marathon training and am dedicated to posting once a week about my marathon training. I hope you’re looking forward to the next 16 weeks as much as I am!

Recap of Week 1:
1. 3 miles easy: Canal-side in Venice – saw different parts of the city and several cruise ships

2. 5 miles hills: Substituted the 4.5 hours of hiking from Vernazza to Riomaggiore – one of the most beautiful hikes of my life (and that’s sayin’ something after several memorable beautiful hikes in Ecuador, Glacier National Park, western Washington state and Alaska)

3. 3 miles easy: Substituted 2 miles HARD of an attempted run in Vernazza – steep inclines seemed to defeat the “easy” nature of this run

4. 5 miles easy: Intended to tack on the last mile from the previous run, and instead, got a little carried away in Rome. Started out easy and relaxed as I was leading our travel crew on a run from our airbnb to the Villa Borghese and over to the Tevere. I kept stretching the run another half mile here and there, to accommodate the Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps, and we ended up at 7.6 miles

5. 5 miles easy: Back at home – Duomo “Plus” route

6. 10 miles long & slow: Ran the flightline on base for easy terrain – have to admit, it was a little boring compared to the Rome run

Something that’s been on my mind is my footwear at work. A recent Runner’s World article addresses the extra foot stress that comes from wearing high heeled shoes:

“One study found that women who regularly wear high heels had calf muscles that were about 12 percent shorter and Achilles tendons that were about 10 percent more rigid than women who regularly wear flat shoes. A different study showed that basic walking mechanics were different (in a bad way) in women who wore heels at least 40 hours a week compared to women who wore heels less than 10 hours a week. Note to men: The heels in this study were only 5 millimeters high, so this might apply to you as well.

What To Do About It: Walk around the house barefoot. As much as possible, wear flat shoes with a toe box that allows your toes to spread. If heels are unavoidable in your profession, do the best you can to minimize the time you spend in time, such as wearing other shoes when commuting. Also be diligent about calf and Achilles flexibility exercises if you have to wear heels for work.”

Although I prefer to wear flats for my foot health, it is fun to wear heels sometimes; and, some days I just want the extra burst of self-confidence that comes along with the additional burst of height. Reading the whole article renews my yearning for a job that balances physical activity with desk work – the article points to long commutes (mine is 35-40 minutes each way) and long hours at the desk with poor posture (guilty) as two other major contributors to running injuries.

I would love to incorporate more motion into my work routine. Already, I am lucky to have two projects for which I collaborate with a colleague down the hall from me. I take advantage of the proximity to trek down the hall for the majority of our work – rather than use the phone or email. This gives me the opportunity to stretch my legs and spend 10-15 minutes standing while we hash out the next detail of our project. I also try to incorporate a stretch session into each work day, a habit I nurtured more religiously during my winter marathon training. I plan to return to this habit. Do any of you have suggestions for ways to incorporate movement into a desk job? Let me know in the comments section!

See you next week…

p.s. A few favorite pics from my recent trip to Venice, Vernazza (in the Cinque Terre),Rome and within Sicily! I traveled with my husband Dave, and his sister MariBeth and her husband Dan. We also had great trips this spring with Michael and Dan – pics below, too!

View from the hiking trail leading away from Vernazza toward Corniglia – you can see the balcony to our apartment rental.
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Venice from the vaporetto (public transportation barge on the canal)
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Venice from the Rialto Bridge
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The Mediterranean Sea from atop the Turkish Steps in Realmonte (near Agrigento)
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Dave, me and Michael – awaiting performance of Antigone
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Scene from Antigone – performed in Italian at open-air Greek amphitheater in Siracusa
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Another view of the amphitheater in Siracusa
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Windmill at the salt flats in Trapani with Dan – we had a whirlwind trip filled with dynamic foods and sights
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We also had world-class arancini (say it “are-on-chee-nee” – this is the plural) at Bar Giageri in Piano Tavola. Here’s a photo of the arancino di pistacchio (arancino is singular). Dan declared this arancino his favorite Sicilian food of the trip – risotto wrapped around a pistacchio, cheese and ham filling, lightly battered and fried.
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Ciao!

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Mm is tasty.

Or it might be better said it makes you go “mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm”

Mm or Mm! is the name of a favorite seafood restaurant in the center of Catania.

Today, I’m going to defer to the story-telling prowess of my friend Nick.

Click this link to check out his description of Mm at his blog, Sicily Ciao.

Buon appetito!

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A Mixed Bag: Runner Lauren Fleshman, Running Gear, Thoughtful Consumerism, and Mt. Etna

Lauren Fleshman is my new running inspiration. She wrote this amazing opening post in her new column on Runner’s World.

I’m checking out her company Picky Bars; and the company who sponsors her, Oiselle. The Oiselle brand seems geared to elite women runners, or women with the body type of elite women runners. For example, their running bras don’t provide support for anyone over a C cup (that’s me). If you’re searching for a great sports bra and you’ve got some great body to work with, check out Moving Comfort’s Fiona model, I love it.

I’ve recently been struggling with my spending choices – the Bangladesh factory collapse reminds me why I avoid consumption of mass-made goods as much as possible. Yet, a lot of my running gear, including specialized running fuels, are part of that mass-made industry. I’m still struggling with that one – if you have insights or recommendations, hit me up in the comments.

I am contacting Picky Bars for the details on where they buy the ingredients for their gluten-free, dairy-free, preservative-free bars, I’ll let you know what I hear. The ingredient list includes which ingredients are certified organic (it’s most of them), but as my good friend Megan recently reminded me – the organic certification does not indicate anything about the labor practices of a farm, orchard, or other food-producing entity.

Oiselle puts these details right out there on their FAQ page:
“Where is your apparel made?
Everything you see on our website was designed and tested by real women athletes in Seattle Washington. 80% of the spring 2013 line is USA made! The other 20% is responsibly manufactured elsewhere. Each product page will tell you where that particular product was made.”
My brief shopping experience brought up several pairs of running shorts made in china and all the t-shirts I clicked on made in the usa. Neither ensures great labor practices, but the usa is a better bet.

Otherwise, enjoy this photo from Mt. Etna’s most recent eruption, last night:
April 27, 2013
Mt. Etna Eruption
Acireale, Sicily
from our terrace

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When it Rains, it Pours

Unfortunately, this week, when it rains it pours meant that death and devastation ruled the headlines, followed up by missed opportunities in Congress, and accompanied by historical anniversaries of tragedy at home and abroad.

Here in Italy, they say “Piove sempre sul bagnato” (It always rains on the wet).

But I say the rain is finished for now! Next week will be different! Stories and attitudes already show the resolve and power of responding positively in solidarity with Boston. Runners are a tough crew and I repeatedly read the same thread of steely determination that I feel in my heart in their comments and actions. Find strength within the running community. Get out on the road and run despite the rain. These are things we do while training, and it is part of the allure of training for long-distance runs – there is some urgent, instinctual need to push yourself and discover the hidden capabilities within you, both physical and mental. Push a runner to her edge? That runner will extend and redefine her edge.

“Are we saddened, and am I personally crushed by what happened today? Absolutely,” Havens said. “It would be easy to lose all faith in society and mankind and ask ‘Why did this happen?’ But I’m not going to change who I am, and all these people aren’t going to change who they are. People who do harm, one of the things they want is for people to become low and morose, and if you let them do that, they’ve won. We still have to service the customers, the runners, and we can’t put on a sad face for them.”

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Sunday Gratitude

Living simply is a goal of mine since my young days of wanting to live off the land. During my consumerism teenage years, I let those ideals fade in the reality of cheap jewelry and clothes that let me mimic fashion trends on a part-time job budget. I loved pretending that I was developing skills to one day put into use on designer clothes with a professional career budget. Life gave me a few twists and turns along the way, and after befriending a wonderful family during my sojourn in Ecuador in 2003, my worldview was never quite the same.

Since that time, I have been working to draw back my consumerism, and to explore my desires: desires to buy more, to fit fashion trends, to buy cheap products, to consider the labor practices that support such low prices, and more. Without having the same motivations, many of us are trying to simplify our lives – for a plethora of reasons. If you seek simplicity, I recommend you check out the blog “Be More With Less.” It is a low pressure sell on simplicity and it features frequent guest posts, in a series called Simplicity in Action, so you can get a sense of the wide range of approaches out there for striving for a more simple life.

Here’s a great post on Be More With Less, the Simplicity in Action series, Simplicity in Action, and my favorite quote:

“If I’m going to be extravagant, I want it to be in my giving, not my possessions.”

A little Sunday Gratitude for ya.

Ciao

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Happy Tax Season 2013 Mom!!!

My mother grew up on a farm. She did chores, missed out on social outings, and was in the middle of eight children who were all trying to hoe a row of their own in this crazy world. She happily said “no pets” while we were growing up (i.e. no pet related chores) and my allergies to anything with fur helped keep that policy in place.

She was slow to warm to the furry family members Dave and I added when we adopted Maki and then Panther. But now she loves them like they are her grandchildren. Just ask her!

Mom, this post is for you. Maki is showing you how to relax, just in case you forgot during tax season.

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