formats

Running and Sex: It’s Personal

Mind-blowing sex happens when two people are so in sync that they completely lose themselves in each other; both individuals temporarily free themselves of the endless to-do lists and frustrations from work as they fully give their mind and body over to their partner. It’s an erotic, intimate experience.
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-stones-do-not-disturb-image21257835
It’s no secret that married couples have sex, yet few married people talk about their sex lives. How often do other couples have sex? Share secrets on different positions? What do you do if you woke up at 5 am with a sick baby, were puked on all day and you’re just plain not in the mood when your husband comes home from work? I smirk as I think, Tell us! Tell us! The people want to know! But no one will—not one word—even though it is a shared, universal act. Why do you think that is?

Maybe it’s due to cultural traditions or proper etiquette to remain mum. Either way, the sexual experiences people have are incredibly personal, private and are considered sacred to many. Intimacy occurs when you expose the tarnished parts of yourself and are undoubtedly accepted by your partner. It is the rare occasion when you voluntarily reveal your raw, vulnerable self to another.

This discussion is not a foray into my personal sex life. In fact, it’s just the opposite. My sex life is private; meant for my husband and I. Sorry, not budging on the particulars there!

So, where does running fit in all of this? Allow me to explain.

 

The Perpetrator
A couple of months ago I met a young male trainer (early 20s or so) at my gym. We received our spin certification together and have bumped into each other a couple of times since then. Despite being a nice young man, every single time I saw him he criticized how I lifted, did push-ups and even jumped rope. Once he was on the second floor and yelled down to me (on the 1st floor) to negatively critique my jump squat. Then he just disappeared! If you are going to criticize me at least stick around to show me how to do it correctly!!

While these criticisms initially irritated me, I started to accept that this trainer was actually trying to be helpful and friendly—in a somewhat socially awkward fashion. I really believe that he means well and that I probably have been overly sensitive (wouldn’t be the first time). In short, all was forgiven—UNTIL that fateful day when he harped on my running.

 

The Scene of the Crime
I decided to jog around the track in between lifting sets: four measly laps for kicks. Nothing crazy. No fast pace. Just for fun. As I trotted along I looked up to see the little bugger staring at me. “Relax your arms when you run. You’re holding them too high,” he called. Oh no you didn’t! I fumed to myself. B**ch, puh-lease!

I totally got my panties in a bunch. Couldn’t help it! Four silly little laps and you are going to correct my form? What? But we barely know each other! In my mind I was going to round-house kick this kid to the curb, Kill Bill style right there and then. (Now would be a good time to mention that I was an overly emotional, estrogen-filled wreck that day.)

Disregarding the irate ramblings of my inner monologue, somehow I managed to calmly respond, “I’m a runner. This was four silly little laps. Please don’t correct my form.” He looked at me with a blank expression and said, “YOU? A RUNNER?” The steam started to rise again. Oh hell no, kid!!!!!! You are KILLING ME TODAY.

I thought to myself, YES—ME—a runner! Is it so hard to believe? The trainer’s statement was followed by another winning declaration, “Oh, I don’t run, but my friend does and he suggests to always keep your arms loose and lowered when you run.” My thoughts erupted into a sea of expletives. WHAT THE F*@K?!?! YOU DON’T EVEN RUN! Why am I still standing here talking to you! Bah! Go away!

DSC_0742

OK, so maybe my arms are a little high….

Lessons Learned
Before I spiral off into full blown rant I want to circle back to my point: how running and sex are similar. After “the incident” occurred, I spent the rest of the day thinking about this young trainer and what he said to me. Moreover, I spent most of my time thinking about why I took his comments so personally. Why did I care so much? (Aside from the obvious answer: I am an overly sensitive, overly emotional, hormone-crazed woman.)

Like sex, everything about my running is personal, private and sacred. Albeit strong, my running self is vulnerable and emotionally raw. Any critique against this part of myself feels like an assault against everything I strive to be. You have to earn the right to correct me about my running style. I have to invite you in, ask for tips and pointers and be open to hearing what I’m doing wrong or could do better. Anything new I want to try in terms of training has to come from my personal desire. My husband is the one I am open to hearing from when it comes to sex; this young trainer was not that person when it comes to running.

Running is a skill I have been honing for over 10 years and right now, with a toddler, it’s the only time I have to myself. It’s my happy place, and I guard it fiercely. Running makes me feel strong, invincible and free. I can be anyone and accomplish anything. When I run I let go of all my stressors and worries, and I become the confident, capable woman who usually only appears in my dreams. In many ways I view my running self as the best version of myself. This woman is driven, focused, passionate, strong and confident. The other 23 hours of the day are comprised of managing a household (laundry, diapers and cooking, oh my!); my mommy and wife selves draw strength from the resilient running alter-ego who resides somewhere within my bones.

Yes, running can be as sacred as sex.

formats

Sunrise Run Part Two: Running Report

Sunrise runs are more than just pretty morning jogs. Their powerful effects might just change you, inside and out.

Even though I run alone I enjoy sharing my stories with other runners and hearing their experiences in return. Most often, I tend to reflect on my long runs with my father. Soon after I finish my run I tend to call my dad to “report in.” I’d like to believe that he enjoys hearing about my progress towards the marathon and honestly, it’s really nice to have someone with whom I can share my experiences. I called my dad sometime in the afternoon the day of my sunrise run. Our conversation went something like this:

Me- Ran 13.5 in 1 hr 49 min.

Dad- Good time. You’re really cookin’. Try to run the second half of your runs faster than the first half.

Me- Will do. It was so cool. I was on the road by 5:30 and ran by moonlight. It was breathtaking…. (pause) Dad, I watched the world wake up. Just priceless.

Dad- I’ve watched the world wake up for 30 years. Pretty amazing, eh? (pause) [serious tone] You know Kass, I think my real running days are over.

Me- Come on, don’t say that.

Dad- (sigh) But I think they are. Been sick, been injured then sick again. Doing more golf, spin and elliptical. I haven’t been able to string more than a couple runs together in the past couple weeks. And even then, I’m running shorter distances…. [abruptly he changed his tone] Well, I have to go. Talk to you later. Love you, Bye.

Me- Love you too. Bye.

Even though this conversation was short, it stayed with me for days, weeks really. His words resonated with me “I’ve watched the world wake up for 30 years.” He discovered the magic of the sunrise run long ago. He knew exactly what I witnessed and how I felt: vacant roads that are usually lively, the arrival of a new day as the sun’s rays creep over the horizon, the sense of accomplishment on finishing a run before most people leave their homes and most importantly impatiently longing to do it all over again. The experience is enchanting. But nothing more needed to be said between us. He had lived and breathed the sunrise run for decades, now it was my turn. A sense of excitement immediately rushes over me as I say the words: it’s my turn.

My turn to feel the crisp morning air on my face. To challenge myself and face my fears. To log miles in the early dawn and uncover a hidden part of myself, a strong woman who hides within this anxiety ridden shell of a body. As I think about my future sunrise runs the edges of my lips curl up and I say it again- It’s my turn.

Our conversation left me with a sense of sadness too. Could his running days really be numbered? I slowly digested this information. The man has spent over 30 years of his life waking up to do something that brings him pure joy – and that could all be gone. My eyes begin to fill with tears. As I reflect on how happy running makes me, I am simultaneously faced with the thought of having it being ripped away from me some day. I still feel his pain. That’s why he hung up so quickly. He just couldn’t face it. Not yet at least. And I don’t want to face it either. In the meantime I am going to hold out hope that he’s wrong- that he has a ninth running life stored away somewhere within his strong legs.

While we are in drastically different stages of our running careers we are able to bond over our varied running experiences and how they affect our outlook on life. I have truly found a best friend in this new career of mine: my father. I told you before: sunrise runs are more than just pretty morning jogs; their powerful effects might just change you, inside and out.

 

formats

Independence Day 5k

Published on July 7, 2013, by in Race Recaps.

Plymouth Finish Logo

Who could turn down a road race in Plymouth, Massachusetts on the 4th of July? The race is directly followed by the highly celebrated Plymouth parade with spectators visiting from all over New England. Did I also mention that you run the parade route so you have tons of people cheering you on? Yea, it didn’t take much to convince me to randomly sign up for this awesome 5k race!

Plymouth_Firetruck

Before The Starting Line
If you’ve ever ran a road race then you’ve probably seen them doing a series of sprints to warm up pre-race. They are calm, yet focused at the start, wear super short running shorts and have the long and lean build that screams runner-they are the serious, competitive athletes. These are the people who laced up that morning to run a race in which they hope to either a) win or b) PR.

I noticed her at the starting line-Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra, short black shorts, ripped midsection, long, lean legs. She was one of them, and that means she was there to race. It didn’t matter that she was at least 15 years older than me;just from looking at her I knew in my bones that this woman could run. Competition? No sir (not today at least). She was in a league of her own. Oh, and there she goes doing her practice sprints. Good grief, I’m impressed (can we say girl crush?).

One Hot Race
The temperature was 80 degrees and climbing before the race had even began. I have never raced in the heat and I was nervous on how it would affect me (heart rate, breathing, time). I thought to myself, “Between the heat and the knee issues you are not going to PR in this race. With the amount of serious athletes here you probably won’t place either. Today with be for training. Today will be for fun. Just run your best.”

I powered up my Garmin and noticed that in the minute before the race start my heart rate skyrocketed from 90 to 140 BPM. I wasn’t even moving and my HR was 140! (Is that normal!?) Adrenaline? Nerves? Probably both. It’s as if the jump in heart rate was my body’s way of telling me that it knew what I was going to ask of it in just a couple of seconds.

The sound of the fog horn broke the silence at the starting line; I pushed the start timer button on my Garmin, reminded myself to breath and began sprinting alongside the other runners. Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra was nowhere to be seen but I was sure she was in the lead pack, probably duking it out for first place with another speedy lady runner.

Today I was there to run, not race. I let go of any worries I had about how many people were ahead of me or who might be behind me and focused on finding a pace I could maintain. The humidity made it hard to breath and my heart rate maxed out at 187 (yikes).

My favorite part of the race was the spectators who lined the race route to cheer on the runners: they clapped, cheered and proudly waved their American flags. The energy surrounding this short race was invigorating and almost charismatic. This is why I run. So, run I did.

My music was on pretty loud, but I’m pretty sure I just heard the stout man with the grizzly beard belt out across the crowd, “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about! Another woman! Go get it!” Wait-was he talking about me? I must have misheard him. Just keep running.

Plymouth Run

I rounded the last bend to reveal the finish line. Just before I crossed the finish line the announcer stated that the second woman was about to finish. I looked around to find her only to realize that he was talking about me. Holy crap-I have no idea how that happened, but I’ll take it!

I looked up and I saw her again-Mrs. Neon Yellow Sports Bra. Obviously, she came in first. Her time? 19:33 (A 6:17 min/mi pace). Can we all say a collective ‘Dayum woman!” in her honor. That’s smokin’ fast. She must be a pro, or ran in college or be on some super protein shake that I’ve got to get my hands on! Clearly I went home and stalked her online. Typed in her name and it was all there laid out for me-a walk on at Yale’s track team back in the day, currently owns her own personal training studio, and the ringer-2008 Duatholon World Champion. Whooped by a Duatholon World Champion-I’ll take that any day! Oh, and her typical 5k time is in the low 18’s, but the heat clearly “slowed” her down (now I have a serious girl crush-whoa!).

A second place finish, a gift certificate to Bayside Runner and had a ton of fun- that makes for one happy redhead! My official finish time was 21:42-no PR, but nothing to be ashamed of either, especially in the wicked heat!

Plymouth_Husband and  Daughter

The best part of the race was having my husband and daughter waiting for me at the finish line. It’s amazing to finish a race and see O (my husband) cheering me on and Lillian there waiting for a hug. After the race we stayed in Plymouth so that Lillian could see her first parade! Plymouth’s first annual Independence Day 5k definitely delivered as a ton of fun!

Plymouth_Family