Sauce Success and Frozen Flop

I have a love/hate relationship with cooking.  Mostly I love to hate it.  I have written about this topic previously in The Highs and Lows of Cooking and Eating – A Necessary Evil.  Perhaps the irony in this is how much I enjoy watching the Food Network and how impressed I am by people who create wonderful food without needing a recipe.  There are very few things I cook that don’t require me to reference a recipe.

I am guilty of saving a lot of recipes, particularly on AllRecipes, without ever actually making them.  On Mon. though I finally attempted this Tomato Cream Sauce.  One of the reasons I love AllRecipes so much is the reviews and feedback.  I often read several of them to get an idea of any tweaks other cooks invoke that may help me.  In the case of the sauce recipe I read many reviews that stated to puree the sauce in a blender prior to mixing in the cream and butter.  I chose to do this as well particularly after seeing how chunky the sauce was from the diced tomatoes.  I’m very particular about textures and will push large pieces of tomato out of my sauce even in restaurants.

I was excited after pureeing the sauce to see how much smoother it became.  I topped my penne pasta with it and proceeded to have one of the best homemade meals I have had in some time.  I could not get over how high quality the sauce tasted.  It reminded me of vodka sauce without the vodka and was better than any jarred vodka sauce I had ever used.  I was so excited for Jason to try it the next day (he works second shift and takes whatever I make for dinner as leftovers to be his dinner) and had hoped I didn’t hype it up too much that he would be let down.  Fortunately he found it equally as good and I plan on making a huge batch to take to my aunt’s Christmas party.

Tues. night I had to coach winter track after work and get a haircut.  Busy nights tend to result in crock pot meals.  I threw chicken breasts, catalina dressing and pineapple chunks with some juice together in my crock pot and set it on low to cook throughout the day until I returned home.

Despite hating nearly all vegetables I am on a constant quest to attempt to like more of them.  I am certain this will be a lifelong battle.  I had bought frozen Mashed Sun Dried Tomato Basil Cauliflower the other week in hopes of finding a way to like cauliflower.  I had tried a frozen cauliflower with cheese side dish in the past and wasn’t very impressed.  Coming off my Mon. night sauce success high I was more pumped to try a new food.  I took comfort in knowing even if I didn’t like it I had my pineapple chicken to eat.

I popped the tray in the microwave and as soon as I began to smell it cooking my heart sank.  The smell was unappealing and normally for me that means I’m not going to like the taste either.  When I pulled it out the texture perturbed me as well.  This was no comparison to the thick and creamy style mashed potatoes I was used to but rather a thin, somewhat runny substitution.  I did microwave the cauliflower for another 30 seconds which helped thicken it a little more, but mashed potato consistency it was not.  Still I couldn’t write it off before trying it.  I wish I could say I turned out pleasantly surprised, but I didn’t.  I have tried worse tasting foods (like escargots on my last cruise – that was spit into my napkin), but it certainly will not be something I buy again.  To my credit I did manage to eat my serving by mixing the chicken into it.  Jason, who likes most foods including cauliflower, echoed my decision to not buy it again after he tried it the next day.  I still have a frozen side of cilantro lime riced cauliflower to try and I’m hoping we like that one more.

So this week evened out in my cooking world.  One amazing pasta sauce recipe sure to be used again and one frozen flop never to be bought again.

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Happiness vs Contentment

This past week one of my running buddies mentioned that his wife was pestering him about how much he has been running lately.  I won’t go further into that beyond saying that of all the habits a person could have for their significant other to complain about, exercise should not be anywhere near the top.

We began talking about how running is a stress outlet for us, and he said if he wasn’t running as much he would likely be drinking more alcohol instead.  I told him that every time I wound up in counseling in the past it was during times when I wasn’t running as regularly.  That’s not to say I still wouldn’t have needed counseling if I was running regularly, but rather that when I am consistently working out I find my mental wellness fares a lot better.

I began reflecting on the conversation with my friend today, and it made me realize just how much more content I am with my life than years ago.  I am a firm believer that there is a difference between happiness and contentment.  To me happiness is a state of emotion that can quickly change based on external circumstances.  Contentment on the other hand is a state of well being.  It’s the ability to live life in such a way that emotions can come and go, but the stability of one’s life and adaptability to life remains intact.  One can be content with life while not necessarily being happy or stress free all the time.

Depression is an epidemic in the United States.  A TIME article reported data from the National Center for Health Statistics that 13% of Americans take antidepressants.  While I’m sure there is a multitude of data with the reasons behind this, and I do recognize that some people have a biological/neurological/genetic component that plays a factor, I feel that an underlying source is that being happy in life as an ultimate goal is setting people up for failure.

We go through life constantly bombarded with images of what happiness is while being told counter information at the same time.  Buy the new car/house/electronic device.  Money can’t buy happiness.  Don’t settle for anyone, wait for the “right” person.  If you’re not married by a certain age there’s something wrong with you.  Spend time with family and friends.  Take time for yourself.  Set goals and reach for the stars.  Enjoy the little things in life.  Is it any wonder that people end up confused and discouraged and lost in life?

Not only are people inundated with conflicting information on happiness, but they are also given a false expectation of how to be happy.  Society portrays happiness as if it was a checklist of tasks to complete.  How often do we say that we’ll be happy once “ABC” happens?  Only to then say we need to have “XYZ” happen and then we’ll be happy.

For years I was guilty of this “delay of happiness” pattern.  Sure I enjoyed things in life, but felt that in order to achieve ultimate happiness certain events had to happen.  First it was reestablishing a friendship I lost for no explained reason.  Then it was transferring from one college to another.  Then it became getting back together with my first boyfriend.  Next it was graduating college.  Then it was finding a job.  And so on and so on.

I was blind to the fact that a person can find contentment in life while still being unhappy with certain elements and working to change those.  Instead I relied on short bursts of excitement to appease me which I falsely believed were the best that life could give.  This often led to me emotionally crashing deeply when even the smallest of things did not go as I expected and ruined those planned “top moments in life”.  I would mentally mood swing from elation to misery over sometimes very trivial things.

So what is different about my life now compared to then?  I would say largely a greater understanding of myself and what I need to truly be me.  It’s cliché but true that you can’t help take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself.   To find true contentment I believe a person needs to define himself/herself and seek out in life that which supports that definition.

Too often people follow a path that society dictates they should follow because it’s the “right way” to live or the way that “everyone else” goes.  I watch family and friends do this all the time; they continue down an invisible path to happiness believing that as long as they check off all the items on the “happiness checklist” that they are and/or will be happy.  It saddens me because I know while they may experience moments of happiness, they’re not truly content with life.  I wish I could help them, but the journey to contentment is a very personal one that takes a lot of self analyzing, self defining and above all, self acceptance.

I would encourage anyone who feels depressed, even if it’s at a very mild level like I experienced in the past, to seek out counseling.  Talk therapy can help immensely to change one’s way of looking at a certain situation or more importantly, the way they understand themselves.  Then they should find one activity that makes them feel connected to life, not even necessarily happy all the time, but something that makes them want to move forward.

For everyone else I would say take a step back sometimes and look at your life.  Are you living it based on how you define yourself or how others or society in general tell you to live it?  Are you wandering down the “happy trail” just because, delaying your life until you complete the “happiness checklist” or are you truly content with your life?  Don’t settle for fleeting moments of happiness; find the real contentment that makes life worth living.

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Spring Valley 4 Miler

I ran the second race in the York Winter Series yesterday, the Spring Valley 4 Miler.  After running the Dover 10 Miler earlier this month, the idea of running “only” four miles sounded rather appealing.  Stories about how hard the race course was though served to keep me mentally in check before the race.  I didn’t realize that the back way to Spring Valley County Park was only a 15 minute drive from my house.  My dad, two running buddies Todd and Armand, and myself arrived with plenty of time to warm up and chat with some fellow runners.

Yet again during my warmup I played the “Do I or don’t I” game when it came to wearing my winter headband and gloves.  The temperature felt fairly comfortable so long as the winds were still, but the moment they picked up I was chilly.  I’m finding the difficulty of knowing how to dress for these winter races to be just as much of a challenge as the actual courses.  I finally settled on ditching the headband but keeping the gloves.  One thing I did find is that after washing my winter running socks and pulling them as high as I can up my calves, they seem to be less apt to rub a blister.  They’re meant for women’s shoe size 5-7 and given my feet are on the smaller scale there’s just some slightly extra fabric in the corner that I need to make sure is pulled tightly against my foot.

Once again I didn’t have a firm time goal set for the race.  I knew I could run it under 40 minutes and possibly run a 36-something.  Never having ran the course before and hearing about the hills I didn’t want to set myself up for failure.  I’m finding this low key mentality to be the best approach to these races so far; I have general goals but nothing too drastic.  It keeps me motivated without allowing for easy discouragement and enables me to surprise myself as well.

At 1pm the race started and the majority of runners held back their pace compared to a lot of 5ks I’ve ran.  The reason for this is that upon exiting the parking lot the course turned left up a very steep hill.  I think it’s safe to say I hate starting runs on an uphill more than I even hate running in the cold.  When I map out my training runs I avoid staring uphill at all costs.  It’s hard for me to judge how long the hill was, but I felt winded by the time I reached the top and I passed a women walking it.  The course then reminded me of a rollercoaster as once I crested the top of the hill I began a steep downhill.  The road then turned left and descended an even longer downhill.  I opened up my stride, but ran with caution as I know constantly downhill pounding is one of the worst things for a runner’s legs.

I remember looking at my Garmin at the 1 mile mark but immediately forgetting the time it registered.  The reason being the course made a sharp right.  I, along with most other runners around me, were hugging the corner only to have the lead bicyclist come from the opposite direction telling us to get to the other side of the road.  The top runners were already heading in our direction.  I didn’t know how far the course went out the road until the turn around, but it was a little discouraging to see that people were already turned around and passing us.  The road was relatively flat, so I focused on settling into a good pace and looking for my dad and running buddies to cheer on.

The turn around wasn’t overly far out the road, so once I made the turn I tried to pick up my pace a bit knowing the last mile of the race would be the hardest and I would need to make up my time before that.  As I approached the two mile mark I passed a woman and her young daughter running.  As an athlete and a coach I have mixed opinions on elementary aged children running races.  Putting that aside, I told the girl how awesome she was doing and she thanked me.  My Garmin clocked an 8:48 at the two mile mark.

By this point the course was no longer on actual road but rather a gravel path through the park.  I could only imagine how beautiful the area was with fall foliage, but unfortunately I had only leafless trees in my view.  I definitely need to visit again next year earlier in the season.  The race became incredibly challenging physically and mentally around 2.3 miles.  I’m a fan of rolling hills – long gradual grades with plenty of downhill or flats to recover on before the next hill.  I did not have that at Spring Valley.  Instead the trail became a series of short steep climbs followed by very short downhills or flats.  I knew the race was halfway over so I felt compelled to push my pace.  It felt like my legs couldn’t recover well enough from each hill, however, to run any harder.

My Garmin clocked 9:33 at the third mile mark.  The slowdown, courtesy of all the uphills, had begun.  My overall time at that point was a high 25 so quick math said that depending on just how hard the last mile was I could still manage a final time of 36-something.  I spotted Armand up ahead; he normally can beat me but hills are his weakness, and I had a feeling I would reel him in until the race was finished.

The trail came out onto the long downhill upon which the first mile was ran.  I glanced at the top, swore to myself, and dropped my pace down a gear while keeping my eyes focused only a few feet ahead of me.  The mantra I had during the last portion of the Blue-Gray Half Marathon of “This isn’t Blymire” wasn’t going to work this time.  This hill, while possibly shorter in overall length to Blymire, was definitely harder.  Strength wise my legs were fine, but my lungs hated every step I took.  I was grateful those near me were continuing to battle the hill, slowly at times, but not walking.  I find it mentally discouraging to see people walk on hills as it makes me have to work harder to convince myself that I can reach the top without stopping.  I caught up to Armand and offered him words of encouragement before pushing onward and upward.

I reached the top of the hill only to turn right and run what felt like a few steps before having to push up the final last hill.  The young girl who I had complimented earlier in the race passed me, her youthful energy driving her up the hill.  I attempted to keep up with her but couldn’t actually catch her.  I was happy that the final hill was short and once I started down the other side I opened up my stride as much as possible.  I kept up the speed as I turned back into the parking lot and towards the finish line.  I heard my dad cheer for me (a perk to him being faster and finishing ahead of me) and I crossed the finish line in 35:47.

I’m still trying to figure out just how I broke 36 minutes in that race.  I know I kept a fairly consistent pace despite the hills, but other than the finish I can’t say I truly felt fast at any point during the race.  My first mile must’ve been a lot faster than I realized.  The course honestly reminded me of my high school cross country course.  It had a very fast first mile downhill (though the cross country course didn’t start with the sharp uphill) and kept climbing the rest of the way so that runners could never really recover during the race.

I actually enjoyed the Dover 10 miler more than Spring Valley despite it being a longer distance and dealing with the blister.  The course was just more up my alley in terms of what I enjoy running on as well as what I excel on.  I know my dad and friends have ran Spring Valley in much colder and icier conditions.  I already stated there’s no way I would run it in ice; the downhills would be too treacherous for someone as clumsy as me.  I would never recommend it to someone who doesn’t incorporate hills regularly into their runs.  Even the hilly 4 mile loop I have in my town doesn’t compare to the difficulty of Spring Valley.  That said I would run the race again in the future, and I do think I could run it a little faster now knowing the course.

The next race will be the Wildcat 10k which will be another brutally hilly course.  The perk of that race though is that it’s in my town and one of the hills is Blymire which I tackled many times during my half marathon training.  I’m actually more concerned with the 9am start for that race than I am the course; here’s hoping for some warmer than normal temperatures December 16th!

 

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31 Randoms for 31 Years

Today is my 31st birthday and in honor of that I’m sharing 31 random facts/personal thoughts for the fun of it.

1 – My 21st birthday fell on Thanksgiving.  I didn’t get to go out for it though because I worked retail at the time and had to be up at 4am to work Black Friday and none of my friends were 21.  I did have a Dairy Queen ice cream cake with a turkey on it though.

2 – I still own my high school track spikes from senior year.  They serve absolutely no purpose but I can’t throw them out because the last time I wore them was for the District 3 championships.

3 – I dislike reading newspapers online and much prefer the paper version.  The same goes for actual books vs ebooks.

4 – I met my husband, Jason, through an online game.  Our first date was to the circus and out to to dinner.

5 – My birthday is Nov. 22nd.  My sister’s is March 22nd, my aunt’s is Sept. 22nd and my grandfather’s was Feb. 22nd.

6 – I have visited Ocean City, MD every year of my life except 2013 when I went on my first cruise.

7 – The first book I ever read aloud in school was to my kindergarten class and it was Dr. Suess’s Marvin K Mooney Will You Please Go Now.

8 – The previous fact is evidence that I remember a lot of really random things – both factual and personal.  This is both a blessing and a curse.

9 – I like the taste of peanut butter but hate the smell of it on my fingers.

10 – I fractured my left elbow in 3rd grade rollerskating in a friend’s basement.

11 – No amount of alcohol has ever, nor will ever, get me to karaoke.

12 – In general I am not a people person.  The people I do like, however, rarely get me to stop talking.

13 – I think Elon Musk should be president.  That man is a genius.

14 – The first writing I ever had published was in the York Junior Dispatch in 2nd grade.

15 – I am two teeth short of a full set.  They were cut out because my mouth was too small to accommodate all my adult teeth prior to getting braces.

16 – If I ever wanted to live in a city I would move to Portland, Oregon or Halifax, Nova Scotia.

17 – I believe in reincarnation.  Read more about why here – My Spirituality – Why I don’t fear death (Part 1).

18 – I am a hypocrite in that I advocate for wellness and healthy lifestyle habits, but I hate green vegetables.

19 – I have always been fascinated by Christmas lights.

20 – I have an unofficial goal of writing a novel someday.  I have yet to start it.

21 – I hate clowns, even the happy ones.  They’re all creepy.  The trailer for IT sent chills down my spine.

22 – Sea salt, caramel and dark chocolate are the most amazing combo of dessert flavors.

23 – I am a Joseph Gordon-Levitt fanatic.  I’ve had at least two friends text me before saying when they see him they’re reminded of me.

24 – I have a working theory that when we dream we’re crossing into parallel universes.

25 – My dream car is a Ford Mustang.  I could buy one, but it would serve no practical purpose thus I haven’t.

26 – My favorite era of literature is 19th century European.

27 – I watched LOTR – Return of the King in theaters by myself.  I cried when I thought Frodo had died.

28 – Jason and I have partially domesticated three squirrels that visit our yard.  Their names are Peepin Tom, Henry and Scamper.

29 – I am an environmental advocate.  I rant anytime I receive “doggie bags” in styrofoam containers.

30 – I firmly believe every event in a person’s life happens for a reason and that a person will always end up where he or she is meant to be.

31 – I would not be sane if it were not for running, writing and reading.

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Dover 10 Miler

I had heard stories about how tough the Dover 10 miler’s course is, the first race in the York Winter Series.  I was told it was all downhill out and all uphill back.  Knowing that I still wasn’t overly concerned this past Sun. as I got ready for the race.  I planned to just run it how I felt with no specific time goal planned.

As I pulled into the elementary school parking lot where the race was to begin and end I was excited to see a large US Road Running archway setup; it made the race feel like more of a big deal to me.  I parked and spotted my dad across the parking lot as his signature “doo rag” makes him easy to identify.  I picked up my race bib and we did a warm up jog.

I think I spent at least 10 minutes debating on whether or not to wear my winter headband.  This winter racing thing is new to me and given I tend to always be cold I’m apt to overdress.  I finally settled on keeping it on figuring I could always pull it down around my neck if I became too warm.  I was excited to wear my new UnderArmour leggings, a birthday present from my mom, though that too is new for me.  I have always worn shorts over my running tights ever since high school and despite changing fashions I have continued to do so.  To not wear them I feel is an invitation for people to stare at my butt.  This is despite the fact that nearly every female runner as well as some men runners seem to wear theirs without shorts.  Sunday’s race was the first I have worn just the leggings, no shorts, and that was mostly because they’re printed and I felt I would look sillier wearing the shorts.

I was happy to see my running friend Todd arrive as he had ran a marathon the Sunday before and wasn’t sure if he would be running the 10 miler or not.  I did another warmup lap around the school with him and we waited as the 1 mile runners raced.  Once they were all back it was our turn to line up.  The York Winter Series chose to use chip timing this year which while expensive is something I love because I don’t feel pressured to be near the front of the pack to ensure the most accurate time.

The first 1.5 miles of the course was already familiar to me as I had ran it several times in the past as part of the Double Creek 5k.  It definitely is a fast start with a lot of downhills and my first mile beeped on the Garmin at an 8:48.  Reaching the 2nd and 3rd mile marks actually felt longer than I expected.

On the way to the 4th mile mark I spotted two kittens in the middle of the road.  We were running on country back roads so the traffic was minimal, but I heard and turned around and saw a car approaching behind us.  I veered towards the middle of the road and scooped up the kitten and dropped it off in the yard of a farmhouse, telling it to stay in the yard.  Another runner who was farther ahead did the same for the second kitten.  Fellow runners told us how nice it was that we did that, but all I could think was that I hoped I wouldn’t find any dead kitties on my way back.

Not far from the turn around point was a water stop which despite the cool temperature was still needed and appreciated.  A group of young kids was outside of a house not far from the turn around point cheering us all on which always boosts one’s spirits.  By that point I was needing the distraction.  My new cold weather running socks, while doing a wonderful job at keeping my feet warm, were also rubbing a blister on my right pinky toe.  Of all the races I’ve ever ran I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen, or if I did it certainly wasn’t with the same intensity and annoyance.  I kept wiggling my toes hoping to shift the fabric enough to provide relief.  Sometimes I was enjoying the scenery enough to forget about it for a few minutes, but it kept returning.  I was running a good pace, but didn’t want to push much harder and risk rubbing the spot raw and making it bleed.

One reason I love out and back courses is because I can watch all those ahead of me; I find it energizing.  The first male had a huge lead over everyone else.  I spotted Todd and my dad running together and cheered for them as well as two other guys I had ran with in the past.  Besides the blister I felt rather good after the turn around.

I had told my husband I would probably run a 1:30 though I realized during my run that was a faster pace than I meant to tell him.  At the mile 7 mark I realized that time was possible but not probable given the number of hills remaining to climb.  I did pick up my pace despite there being a gradual climb and clocked a 9:09.  Mile 8 felt long for some reason; it wasn’t the hills that phased me as the course was very similar to my training runs, but I think I was just ready to be done.  Mile 9 seemed long as well despite my knowing it was almost finished.  I spotted the half mile mark from the mile fun run and opened my stride as much as possible, if anything to just get done so that the blister would stop rubbing.  I had a very strong finish, more kick to it than my half marathon and my time was a 1:31:31.

I joked to others after the race that I probably would’ve ran a 1:30 had I not needed to rescue a kitten (who by the way was on the porch of the farmhouse on my return and not out on the road again).  I also learned from Todd that running socks, like shoes, should be broken in prior to wearing them for a race.  It seems no matter how many years you are a runner you can always learn something new.  I was rewarded for my efforts with a pumpkin whoopie pie which was well worth running 10 miles for.

Overall the Dover 10 miler was not as hard as I had feared.  Granted it would be very challenging for anyone not in decent shape or who hasn’t done training on hills.  For me though it continued reinforcing how much stronger I have become.  I’m starting to think that other than when I was in high school and college I’m in the best running shape of my life.  My first (and longest) winter series race is in the books.  The Spring Valley 4 miler will be next, the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

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The York Winter Series

I have not been a cold weather runner since high school.  Even back then I don’t think I truly enjoyed it but seemed to at least tolerate it.  Maybe it was because I was young.  Maybe it was having friends on  my team to distract me.  Maybe it was because I didn’t get a say if the team was going outside or not; if we were then I just went.

The older I get the more I hate winter.  So much in fact I was inspired to write a poem last year about it – The Cold.  I would gladly sweat my butt off in 90 degree temps than freeze it off running in sub 40 degree temps.

To date my hatred of winter weather has always ruled out the possibility of running the York Winter Series.  Whenever I was asked if I was going to run it, my response was “What part of getting up early on a cold winter morning to go run long, hard races sounds appealing?”

I had attended quite a few of the races years ago to watch my dad compete.  I would bundle up and see him off at the start and promptly return back to the vehicle to keep warm until the runners began returning.  The cold wasn’t the only deterrent in joining my dad; when I saw portions of the courses as well as heard their descriptions my immediate thought was “No way.”

These races are loaded with hills.  One in particular, Spring Valley, begins with runners exiting a parking lot and immediately turning left to run up an incredibly steep hill.  That race finishes with runners climbing the other side of the hill.

So what exactly possessed me to be crazy enough to sign up for the series this year?  A few things actually.  The first would be that I’m still riding the high of breaking 2 hours in the Blue-Gray Half Marathon.  I had felt so strong during my training for it and even stronger during the actual race that I want to keep that momentum going.  The next would be the belief that I can actually do it.  Years ago my mileage and consistency of running would tend to drop off by October so I never felt in shape enough by the first race in November to even attempt it.  I’ve overcome the knee issues I’ve had in the past, so they are no longer a barrier to cold weather running.  I am slightly fearful of making my chilblains flare up worse, but after last year’s awful bout even during a warmer than usual February I don’t consider the condition a good enough excuse to not try.  Finally there’s good old peer pressure.  My dad has been after me for years to do the series.  Knowing that he as well as several of my other running buddies are doing it makes me not want to miss out.  When I asked my husband his opinion on if I should sign up he said yes – that extra boost of confidence sealed the deal.  Besides it’s 8 races for only $40 – where else can you race so cheaply?

First up is the Dover 10 miler this Sunday.  I have only ever ran the Rail Trail 10 miler as far as 10 milers go.  Dover promises to be colder and hillier than the Rail Trail.  I’m fortunate in that it’s an afternoon race so I won’t have to be up early in the cold at least.  I haven’t set any goals for the race as I plan to play a “wait and see” game on how I feel then decide during the race if I’m going to treat it as a workout and just get the miles in or actually race it.  History leans toward me racing it by the end.

I have conquered distance goals and surpassed time goals.  Now it’s time to conquer the cold!

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My Garmin

I have always been old school when it comes to technology.  In middle school I was likely the last kid to convert from VHS tapes to DVDs as well as from cassettes to CDs.  In fact when it comes to music I still play CDs in my car and I still use a second generation, 2 GB Ipod.  I grieved the downfall of MySpace, AIM and Xanga and cursed Facebook each time it changed its layout.  I shun Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.  I only gave into buying a smart phone when the keys of my beloved qwerty keyboard began to stick after 3 years.

For nearly my entire running career I stuck to an anti technology mindset.  If I was forced to use a treadmill I would relent and play music to cure boredom, but if I was running outside I heard only the noises around me or the voice inside my head.  I wore only a regular sports watch when running road races as I couldn’t always be certain there would be someone at the mile splits calling out times.  I relied on my car’s odometer or the amount of time a run took to determine the distance I ran.

When I worked at Bank of America years ago we could earn rewards which could then be redeemed for prizes.  One of the prizes I picked was a Garmin watch to give to Jason.  I thought I would possibly use it to determine how long a new running route was but never anything beyond that.

Fast forward a few years.  My Garmin watch has helped me to map my mileage through my town, determine the accurate mileage of all the old routes I ran in high school and college and mostly importantly, help me train for my 2nd half marathon.  I always thought I was rather good at internally knowing my pace while running, but in June my Garmin proved that I wasn’t quite as fast as I thought I was and that I had some work to do.

My Garmin humbled me while also assisting me throughout the summer to ensure that I wasn’t starting out too fast or slow.  My Garmin kept me honest on the number of miles I completed.  My Garmin encouraged me when I saw my mile times get faster as I grew stronger.  My Garmin frustrated me when it showed that I had only .1 mile remaining and forced me to run around a parking lot to finish the full run.  My Garmin showed proof of my running accomplishments and my Garmin made me panic when it would beep that its battery was low.

When my Garmin showed 1:31 at mile 10 of my half marathon it set into motion the physical and mental push that resulted in my breaking 2 hours for my 2nd half marathon – the Blue-Gray Half Marathon.

I have gone for two runs since completing the Blue-Gray half marathon.  Both were routes I had ran previously so I knew the mileage.  I knew my body needed recovery time, so I chose to not wear my Garmin as to truly run a pace that felt comfortable without any pressure.  It felt very strange both physically to not have something on my left wrist as well as mentally to not have something holding me accountable to a distance or a time.

I completed my first half marathon in September 2013 without the use of a Garmin.  I am still proud of that accomplishment.  After using my Garmin to train and complete my 2nd half marathon though, I can say that I never want to train for another without it.  My Garmin has earned its place along with my Brooks and sunglasses as an essential piece of running gear.

 

 

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