Okay, so some of you know that I have committed to run CIM (California International Marathon), which is held annually in the greater Sacramento area in the beginning of December.  This will be my very first marathon ever!  I think the longest I have ever run was a half marathon (13.1 miles) in March 2007– the Shamrockn’ Half.  To be completely honest here, I did not run all of the 13.1 miles… I ran about 10 of them and walked the last 3.1 across the finish line.  My partner, Sylvia, completed it with me, though I think she could have actually finished it, running all 13.1 miles.  I am always sure to add that .1 in there because, hey, we runners want to account for each every mile, down to the 10th of a mile!  It matters, okay 🙂 Since that half marathon, I had not really done much running.  In mid-late 2007, I had turned to cycling as my exercise outlet, while still occasionally going to the gym for strength training with the weights.  I decided to join the local Leukemia and Lymphoma Team In Training to do my first century– the Tour de Tucson (which actually turned out to be 109 miles, but hey, who’s counting, right? Yes, you know… ME!  Those extra 9 miles really mattered to my brain and my butt!).  That was a phenomenal experience, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Though I no longer keep in touch with any of my cycle team members, I recall each of them fondly as I reflect back on those training and fundraising days.  I really challenged myself on so many levels.  Even thinking about it now, I am still in awe that I raised over $3,700 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society AND I road proudly across the finish line, sore butt and all!  It was an experience I will never forget, and if anyone out there reading this is considering a challenge like this (there are others: Susan G. Komen 5K run for breast cancer and the NorCal AIDs Ride (cycling), to name a couple), I encourage you to do it.  You CAN do it!  You do not have to be a star athlete, or even athletic for that matter, to do it.  Just a little heart, soul, and some grunts and Gu and you’re on your way 🙂

Just after I finished Tour de Tucson and the hype and celebration had calmed down, I embarked on another adventure into real estate, where I bought my first house in Pollock Pines, which is at 3,980 ft. elev.  The story of this house will be saved for a separate blog, but pointing out the elevation is relevant to this post on exercise, running, and cycling specifically.  Moving to the mountains, albeit beautiful to the eyes and clean air to breathe, has not been too enticing to me in terms of exercising for the first few years we lived here.  I had done some cycling around the area in Pollock Pines and in Apple Hill (Camino), but to be honest, it was not enjoyable.  I mean, sure, the scenery is spectacular of course, and who wouldn’t enjoy a pit stop at Boa Vista Orchards in Placerville for some freshly made apple cider, a tri-tip sandwich, and/or fresh fruit?  What gets to me is the perpetual ups and downs of the ride.  It is nothing like the long rides along the American River Bike Trail, that’s for sure!  (plus riding up here makes the AR Bike Trail seem like nothing)  I will say that riding up here is good for hill and resistance training, but for everyday rides, no way.  Sylvia says she enjoys the hills.  I say, rock on, er, ride on, sista!  I will do it, but not often.  I’ll have to swallow the ever-increasing gas prices and just truck on down the hill to the Sac State Aquatic Center or old town Folsom…. which is fine with me.

As for running, well… recall that I have not done much running at all since March 2007.  I never did any running up here in the ‘Pines until last year.  But hey, it is a new year, now 2011, and I have begun a different kind of journey– the running kind.  After being inspired by my friend Carolina and her participation and completion of CIM this past December, I decided, that day, to commit to training and completing it in 2011.  For my birthday, Carolina, Tamara, and Liezel bought my entry into CIM as well as some essential gear for my training journey: a new water bottle waist pack with a place for my phone (I can now run with tunes and still not have to wear those stupid ear buds.. does anyone else out there despise those things? Anywho…), socks, and vaseline and blister band-aid thing-ies.  Now that I am all ‘geared up,’ my training has begun in earnest.  I started out slowly, doing my usual loop along Pony Express Trail, which is about 4 miles round trip (up and back).  I have now expanded that to 7 miles!  I even took Brady, our golden retriever, on my recent 7 mile trek this past Saturday, and it was a magical run…. He did so well, trotting along beside me and in front of me, and then he passed right out when we got home that night!  Sylvia wanted to know how soon we could both do that again.  We’ve been dealing with his nuisance barking for awhile now… another issue for another post.

This week, we’ll be having a lot of rain and maybe some snow, so the outdoors running will be a little tricky.  I am thinking I will have to go ahead and brave the elements and get out there and do it.  Considering that CIM is in December each year, one never knows what the weather will be like.  Some years, that day has been absolutely gorgeous: cool with sun; other years have seen torrential downpours.  It’s kind of like life: expect the best, prepare for the worst.

Probably the best thing about this whole running experience though has been how it has influenced my spiritual growth.  Running for me is meditative.  It takes me out of any mental rut I might be in and puts me into my happy place.  I can meditate on a mantra with each step, whether it be ‘Om’ or whatever, and the run just seems to zip on by.  Being out in nature also does wonders for my soul.  With each step, I feel God’s presence around me, supporting me as I move along my path.  I connect in Oneness with the trees, shrubs, everything around me.  It is a wonderful feeling.  I am feeling stronger each time I venture out, and I am enjoying my runs in the hills for now.  I truly enjoy the physical challenge each run brings, and I am looking forward to more.  Bring it!

Namaste, Sue