November 23, 2012

I'm thankful for you

When my alarm went off yesterday for the Springdale Turkey Trot, my first post-injury 5K, I didn't want to go. Recovering from a stomach bug, busy with family and work, and pretty much dreading what seemed like the worst race course in the world -- out and backs on hills in the middle of cow pastures -- I was ready to hit snooze and forget the whole thing.

But then I thought of Jodi, a far-away cousin who says this little blog inspired her to start Couch to 5k. Like me, she was a self-proclaimed couch potato and running hater, and she's running her first race next weekend. And I thought of Chuck, a local Internet stranger turned friend who has sent me some of the nicest emails I've ever received in my life, telling me how my story gave him the confidence to run a half marathon. And I thought of Craig, my oldest friend, who called me a few weeks ago and said, "I just ran a trail race and it's all your fault. You make running sound all romantic, but this is hard!" And after blame was appropriately assigned, he started talking about his next race and dropping words like "half marathon."

I've said it before, runners are a special kind of people. We wave at each other on the road or give an understanding nod because we know each other's pain -- just like we know each other's joy when we do what we thought was impossible. We compete with each other, but never stop encouraging each other. I can't believe anyone would be inspired by my meager accomplishments and the kind words I've received from fellow runners, especially this year as I've struggled with injury, have inspired me more than you all could know.

So I got up and trotted myself a 5K, dragging along my favorite running buddy, and we crushed it. Trea and I finished in 31:42, only about 1:20 slower than my 5k PR. This is slow to a lot of folks, but I was just glad to finish. It was our longest run all year!

I had dreaded what I thought was an awful course, but the out and backs turned out to be really helpful in pushing through the pain. Even though we were on farm roads with nothing to see but cows, I was continually greeted by runners ahead of me or behind me, making their way to the turnaround. Even though I didn't know anyone, I was inspired to keep going. And at the second turnaround, I saw a tall stranger running toward me yelling, "Go Anna!" accompanied by a big smile and a high five. (My sincerest apologies to the girl who got smacked in the middle of that high five.) It was blog reader Chuck! We had only corresponded via email through the blog, and I knew he would be at the race, but I didn't expect to spot him in the crowd. He finished ahead of me and was at the finish line to cheer us on as we huffed and puffed to the end.

After we were finally formally introduced, he thanked me for writing about my story, and I felt so silly because I should thank HIM. Without accountability and encouraging words from folks like him, I might have given up a long time ago. So thank you, Chuck, Jodi, Craig and all my runner friends who haven't given up on me this year.

I'm humbled to know I've helped spread the running bug, but I can relate. I never thought I could run farther than a 5k until I read That Pink Girl, the Redhead and Chic Runner. Runnerds are an odd bunch, and I'm so thankful to be counted as one of them.

November 19, 2012

He's a crafty one

After you've been married for a while, you can feel like you know everything there is to know about someone. You've heard all their stories, you understand their quirks and you can almost finish their sentences. But occasionally, you learn something completely new and I learned this week that my husband's an artist! When did that happen?

I already knew he was a great cook...

And he's handy when I need a seam repaired...

But I had no idea he could paint!

When we were on vacation in Wyoming, we stopped in for dinner at a little restaurant in West Yellowstone. There was a painting of a blue buffalo behind the bar, and we both loved it. I snapped a picture of it with my phone, and Trea said he wanted to try to paint it sometime. I didn't think he would actually do it, and I had no expectations of how it would turn out. But last weekend, he painted a blue buffalo in one afternoon, and it looks almost exactly like the one from the restaurant!

So since he has discovered this new love of painting (and he's really good at it), I signed us up for date night at Painting with a Twist in Fayetteville. I haven't tried painting since 7th grade art class, and I fully expected our evening to be a total failure for me, but fun for Trea. It was kind of the opposite.

We were each supposed to paint one half of a nighttime city skyline on two canvases that can be displayed together. I did not have high hopes for us to actually pull this off, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that I'm not completely terrible at painting! (When given specific, step-by-step instructions.)

This place is more like a painting party and less like a painting class. They try to ply you with wine the whole time so you don't feel like a loser when your painting looks like a 3rd grader did it, but this plan did not work on us. We were serious and focused the entire three hours -- so focused that Trea rinsed his brush in his wine glass. He was stressed out like I've never seen him before. He was exactly this much fun until his last brushstroke:

In his defense, his half of the painting was more challenging than mine, so he felt a lot more rushed to keep up with the class than I did. This was his workstation not even halfway through the evening:

Aaand this was mine:

Though things got a little tense along the way, it worked out in the end. We went home with some pretty darn good looking paintings!

Our bridge didn't quite turn out the same color, but other than that, we were pleased as punch with our little artistic endeavor. Now, who wants a painting for Christmas?

November 13, 2012

Music Monday

Tuesday? Eh, what are you gonna do.

9 days. That's all that's left between me and my first post-injury race. Training has been a little dicey lately, while I was convinced I had re-fractured my hip. Turns out I was just out of shape and going through typical return-to-running misery, so now there's nothing standing in the way of my first Turkey Trot.

As soon as I got clear scans and was released to run to my heart's content, I jumped right back on the running bandwagon. I'm not even complaining about running in the dark and the cold! Yet. Since taking a couple of weeks off while I waited to hear the verdict from the doc, I was worried I wouldn't be able to catch up with my plan enough to run a 5K. But I think I can! So far, my training runs have been great, and I've done a lot more than I thought I was capable of.

On Saturday, I ran a full 2 miles without stopping for a walk break! I haven't done that all year! {So many exclamation points in this post!} Proof that half of running truly is mental. After running for almost 6 hours, 20 minutes doesn't seem hard in my head, so my feet don't mind complying.
Hard not to be motivated to run with this view.
Another exciting thing I did Saturday was meet with a personal trainer. I've been afraid of the weight room at the gym for years, and with my injured leg still not back up to full strength, I decided to call in the big guns and make some changes. I want to get stronger and prevent another injury, but I also want to lose a little weight and gain some muscle definition. I'll be meeting with Gary at least twice a week, and I can't wait to see biceps instead of sausage arms!

As for the music that's getting me moving, my favorite running song these past few weeks is a little gem from the early '80s -- Quiet Riot's Cum on Feel the Noize. I don't care for their spelling, but I dig their sound. I am bursting with enthusiasm now that I am free to get healthy, and this cheesy hair band hard rock anthem is perfect for making me push myself a little harder.


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