End of Days

Today, I am running a 20 miles.  Six on my own, then 14 with Kim, if all goes as planned. And Kelly will be out on the trail with me, but she will finish her 20 miles an hour before I will, so I don’t expect to see her out there at all.

I put no stock in the whole “end of the Mayan calendar” apocalypse thing, but it is fun to joke about.  However, if the world is going to end today, I would personally like it to end before I start my run, because if I run 20 miles and don’t get to run my marathon, I will be very angry.

Do you hear me, apocalypse zombies?


Take Care of Yourself

During the holiday season, it’s easy to let yourself get run down.  I’m pretty much the poster child for running my body into the ground, though during 2012, I made a conscious effort to not do that, and I’d say it worked out pretty well, even with running 6 half marathons this spring and a myriad of other races.  I stayed relatively healthy, and even when I did catch a cold, it never really turned into a full blown cold.  Mostly just sniffles.  Not fun, but not too bad.

Sometimes, that meant making tough decisions.  More than once, I had to cancel plans because my body was crying out for rest.  I should have planned ahead better and maybe lightened my workouts so that I would be able to go out with friends, but now I have a better idea of how my body handles certain stresses and what I need to do better next time.

It also meant that my workout log makes it look as if I was a total slug last week.  The only workout I did was running a five mile race on Saturday.  Of course, I also had three long choir rehearsals, two choir concerts, a week of 9+ hour days at work, and all the commuting that goes along with all of these things.  I was barely home last week.  Getting home after 11 and then leaving for work before 7 doesn’t leave for a lot of free time.  So instead of getting up an extra hour (or more) early, I opted to sleep.  I was still struggling, and the nights without choir, I cooked a few meals so I would have food to eat over the coming days and then I went to bed early.

But I came out of the week healthy. Tired, but not sick, which is what I wanted.  So the lesson is to make sure that I find balance.  Do what I have to do, then figure out when I can do what I want to do.  Workouts fall on the line between things I have to do and things I want to do.  They’re not quite as important as sleep and healthy eating, and unfortunately, I have to choose my job over working out (it’s how I pay for my running habit, after all).  But they come first after all the “have tos” are done.

So the lesson here is to make sure that you take care of yourself during this busy time – and during the whole year.  Try to eat well, or at least eat balanced.  Get plenty of rest.  Drink your water.  And workout when you can.

Race Report – Celtic Solstice 5 Mile Run

This was my second year running the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler and every year, I’m surprised at how cold it is.  It is the end of December.  Of course it is cold!

This race really loves it’s theming, and I love the race for it.  The run is held at Druid Hill Park and is always run right around the time of the solstice.  It felt a bit early this year, but I’m not complaining, as that meant it fit well in my schedule.

I don’t know the director of the race, but he is a hilariously sarcastic man.  The emails that go out before the race are a riot, and included things like “Please do not urinate on the building and scare the people inside.”  At the race, there were even signs with an icon of a man peeing and then a big no symbol atop it.  Ridiculously funny.  And yes, the portapotties were plentiful, so no worries there.

At the race start, there is a lovely tent setup with coffee inside, and food and other goodies afterward.  Definitely a nice perk and a good way to get out of the cold.

The race begins with a bagpiper leading a small parade through the crowd of runners, starting at the back of the pack.  There is also a drummer (this year in a hybrid Bravehart/Baltimore Ravens costume) and people with Irish Wolfhounds.  They are then followed by the people who have run the race every year, a pack that shrank significantly after the race was all but snowed out – only people who could walk to the start were able to run.

And then the run begins!  It’s not the world’s easiest course – it’s definitely got hills.  But what goes up must come down, right?  Betsy and I ran this one together, and it wasn’t my fastest, but we did okay.  She was coming off of a cold and I was coming off of a week of exhausting rehearsals, so neither of us was in top form.  So we just ran and chatted and had fun.  At least I had fun.  I hope she did too.

I have to admit, one of the big perks of this race is the shirt.  This race always has the best shirt (or sometimes jacket, I believe).  And the cost of the race is typically the retail cost of the shirt.  So to get some great new running gear AND a great race experience makes for a worthwhile day.  I hope the race fits into my schedule again next year.

We Need a Change

I try to not make this blog overly political.  In fact, I don’t like politics at all.  (Funny that I work in our capital, isn’t it?)  Mainly because it seems that everyone has an opinion and no one will allow that opinion to be swayed (which would explain the deadlock in Congress).  Of course, one of the great things about this country is that we have the right to our opinions.  But something’s got to change.

There have been a lot of conversations on gun control after the horrible tragedy in Newtown.  I don’t know where I stand on that.  I grew up in an area where hunting was the norm.  No one in my family hunts, but I have no problem with it.  I don’t want to go hunting, but if you do, go right ahead.  I knew families who relied on that deer for food for the winter.

I don’t know how I feel about handguns, but all I can say is that if you feel the need to have one in your home, then that’s fine.  I don’t think I want one, but I don’t know what I would do if I were dating someone who kept a gun in his home.  I just don’t know where I stand.

Assault rifles though… why do we need them?  Something that will fire multiple bullets that quickly and make it easy to kill?  What purpose does that serve?  Obviously, I understand why they belong in the military, and even though I hate the implication, I understand why they exist for law enforcement.  But why do we need them in the home?  Clearly you’re not going hunting with them.  And if you are, you really need to rethink why you’re hunting.

I’m open to opinions on this one, mainly because I just don’t understand.  If you have an assault rifle or support the right to have one, explain to me why.  But don’t use the slippery slope argument.  I see that one and I think we have to get past it.  I understand the belief that if “they” take one type of gun, next they’ll take all the guns.  I just don’t think that will happen.  And don’t give me the Constitutional argument.  That gives us the right to guns, not the specific right to assault rifles.

Interestingly, I didn’t set out to write about gun control in this post.  Gun control is the big discussion right now, and I wanted to focus on the other discussion that is getting less attention – mental illness.

I recently read a post from a mother of a child with serious mental illness.  (If you didn’t click that link, do it.  Trust me, it’s worth the read.)  Now, we don’t necessarily know the details of the Newtown shooter’s situation, but there have been comments made that he exhibited signs of mental illness.  (Unfortunately, he was also allegedly diagnosed with Aspergers, which has no specific link to violence and this situation is just going to add to the stigma for those with Aspergers and other diagnoses on the Autism spectrum.)  Personally, I think one of those signs of mental illness is the fact that he went and shot up an elementary school classroom.

We don’t understand why he did it.  We can’t understand why he did it.  And we probably never will.  But we need to do what we can to prevent it happening again, and that solution does not just deal with guns.

We need to have a serious conversation in this country about mental illness.  We need to figure out how to help these people.  (Michael Schofield has a daughter with schizophrenia and wrote a great post about this over the weekend.)

Now, I’m not saying that people with mental illness are violent.  Frequently, they aren’t.  And so we can’t lump everyone together.  Heck, I’ve struggled with panic disorder.  Does that lump me in with someone like this?

Keeping guns away from those with mental illness isn’t a solution.  How would we do that in the first place?  In this situation, it seems that the killer took his mother’s guns, and she owned them legally.  A law preventing people with mental illness from owning guns would have had zero effect in this situation.

We need better services for the mentally ill.  States are closing facilities.  Insurance programs are refusing to cover treatments.  Families without insurance have incredibly few options.    And I’m not just talking about situations where the person is violent.  I’m talking about options for people with all types of mental illness – depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, even eating disorders and everything else in between.

We don’t like to talk about mental illness.  It’s one of those things that people whisper about.  There is such an awful stigma attached to it, possibly because of situations like this.  But it’s a description that encompasses a wide variety of symptoms and diagnoses and it’s time we stop ignoring them.  Would this have prevented last week’s tragedy?  We will never know.  But that shouldn’t stop us from making a change so desperately needed.