Saturday, March 28

Ride Sally Ride (Run Sallie Run): Ten Things I Learned About Life, Love and Running

For last week's post, I created a list of 10 things I learned. As I've pondered about what to write this week, I kept thinking in bullet points, so I thought perhaps the list would be fun again. So here goes:

Ten Things I Learned About Life, Love and Running at the Monument Avenue 10K

10) After about a five year break from the running community, I had forgotten that runners can be a seriously wacky, neurotic bunch of folks. There were people in costumes...people wamring up by running... people stretching... people waiting in line to use the port-o-potty... everyone moving through their pre-race routines hoping for the best possible outcome... a personal record. This being my first race since 2004, I was beyond ecstatic just to be running again!

9) In races these days, you're literally running your very own race. In a race of nearly 33,000 people, unless you're at the very front of the pack, there's no way to even compete, except with yourself. What I mean is this: from my starting point (about halfway through the crowds of people) it took me more than 13 minutes after the official start to even get to the starting line. But new and innovative technology gives each runner/walker a disposable microchip that tracks your specific time from the time you cross the starting line to the time you finish. The chips have been around for a while, but you used to have to return them. Now, they're paper thin, and you just throw them away. See this picture of mine on my shoe.
8) Running is a great way to see a town. For the first time ever I finally passed this restaurant that I'd read about in a magazine over five years ago called Sallybell's Kitchen. This was cool to me because it's what my family always called me growing up... if I'd thought about it, I would've name my daughter that too... I saw lots of other things along the way, including: thousands of volunteers (BIG FAT THANKS TO YOU ALL) and spectators (THANKS TO YOU TOO), beautiful homes, flowers blooming and well, lots more... you just had to be there.

7) Something about hordes of folks going out for the pleasure and challenge of a 6.2 mile run brings out the best in SO many people! I have run lots of races in my life, but I have NEVER run one with spectators lining every inch of the course. And these weren't just any spectators. They were festooned, be-ribboned, decked out with elaborate sinage, some strolling babies, others walking dogs, some with noisemakers, others with microphones. It was truly wonderful. Of course, the rock star in me loved this and I hammed it up for every photo op, waved to everyone's eye I could catch and danced to all the music. Which brings me to my next point...

6) I am, I am, I am Superman, and I know what's happening... friends of mine will all recall that familiar REM chorus, and know how much warm fun that it incites in the heart. When I heard one of the oodles of bands playing this song on the back side of this (practically) out and back course, I remembered that music can play such a role in one's mood/performance. When I heard that song, I felt completely overwhelmed with joy of where I was, what I was doing and how much fun I was having while doing it. Thank you mystery band! You made my day! I started the race off with a terribly moving rendition of Mustang Sally. Nothing like a little personal inspiration!

5) A friend and I have been having a philosophical discussion about running lately. We've been questioning why we do it. Why do we run? What pleasure is there in the pain? I believe that the challenge of something new, something so physically challenging yet healthy, is just inspiring.
When I want to think of something that I can't do yet want to do, something that is worth doing, something that will make me a better person for the struggle, then I want to take that challenge, so when the next struggle comes along in my life, I will know that I can handle it because I will know just how strong I am. Embrace the struggle.
4) I began running when I was 20 years old just to help manage my weight. It was a great way to get to know my friends and to see the beautiful city where I was living at the time - Freiburg im Breisgau in Germany. Then my senior year of college, I somewhat flippantly joined my college's Cross Country Running Team. I started off last place on the team and ended up in fourth place. I was hooked on running. After college, running continued to be my favorite form of exercise, and I kept it up for years, even after I had children. My running "career" crescendoed to finishing the Richmond Marathon in 2004, and then it came to an abrupt halt. Running had started hurting more than it should: smarting knees, aching back, bunions. I have mourned the loss of running, feeling real jealously as I passed happy joggers on the street on beautiful, sunny Saturdays. Well, I wouldn't be writing this at all if I hadn't been recommended to try Chi Running. This is just a technique that has changed my life by giving me my running back! I'm now running pain-free, and feeling so joyful, grateful and strong. When I'm running, I feel like I can do anything. I just love to run. One million thank yous to my parents who gave me the workshop for Christmas... the workshop that changed my life.

3) Based on this quote by Oscare Wilde, “Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not.”, I don't think I could ever be caught wearing these, albeit useful, compression socks (read about what they're supposed to do here,) unless they made me win the entire race. But hey, each to his own.
2) Some people still haven't learned that it doesn't help, and can sometimes hurt, to stretch your muscles when they aren't warm yet. These runners stretching pre-race haven't learned this yet.

1) Who would've thought that after a a 4 1/2 year hiatus from running that I could finish running 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in only one hour? Not very fast by some standards, but at least I was running! And I can't wait for next year...

Sunday, March 22

Kiss Me I'm Irish... well, not really...

Now my friends all know that I'm not Irish. While I'm sure it's back in my roots somewhere (I am from Georgia after all, and I do have a child with gorgeous hair the exact color of the morning sun), being Irish is something that never identified my family. As a teenager, I used to envy my "Irish" friends who played hookie, sanctioned by their parents, just to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and, how? Well, I never knew.

Now I know because this year, I finally got to be Irish.

You see, I'm play the fiddle in this Irish band called The Donnybrooks. As husbands and wives (well, wife), parents, teachers, workers and all mild-mannered around normal people, playing in a band together is our chance to let loose and act like the heathens we really are! Singing about whiskey before breakfast, drunken sailors and good old-fashioned Irish revenge is just fun! And we love it! And this week, we did lots of it too! Nine gigs in eight days!

Being the silly Protestant that I am, I never knew what fun all of those Irish Catholics were having on St. Paddy's Day, nor did I realize how much they enjoyed sharing in the fun! With St. Patrick's Day falling on a Tuesday, the band was called celebrate this special saint's day for longer than one solid week. We've played and sung and driven and tuned and loaded and unloaded and set up and torn down, and it has been about the most fun I've had in sense I realized just why having so much fun is usually reserved for the young-uns, under 25.

So to end up this post, I'm going to leave you with a list of the Top Ten Things I Learned About the Irish and St. Patrick's Day. After you read it, go on over to where you can hear some of our music and see a (teeny-weeny)clip of us on the news.

10) People celebrating St. Patrick's Day (March 17, the anniversary of dear old St. Pat's death) don't really care if it is the actual Saint's day at all, as long as they're within a week of the actual day, or really just some time in March... no need to be gettin all picky about the details.

9) While I never saw a pot 'o gold, four leaf clover or a banshee, I did see several leprechauns: mostly those giant inflatable kinds that people sit in their yards. But they were leprechauns none the less.

8) The Irish love their music, especially songs about whiskey before breakfast, ye olden days, people dying in the steerage section of great ships a 'sinking, making whiskey in the hills, fighting the English for their dear land and drinking whiskey in the evening.

7) Those beautiful folks who do Irish dancing are straight-up, hard core athletes. The only people stronger and tougher are the Irish rugby players... and the dancers are much prettier!

6) St. Patrick's Day is the one, church-sponsored chance celebrators get all year to imbibe before lunchtime without incurring hot wrath, gloomy judgment and loud condemnation of their mild-mannered spouse, who is for once, likely joining them!

5) Irish folk, in general, do not like American lite beer any better just because it has been dyed green. This is something gimmick-y created by slick marketeers to help the "Irish for a Day" types feel more comfortable about consuming beer before lunchtime. The hard-core Irish-types only want the black stuff.

4) I don't know if it's true what they say about what men wear under their kilts or not, but when you're faced with so many, singing, piping, drumming and drinking all day long, it is certainly an entertaining thought to consider. And the flesh of their knees look cute too, just sitting their mindlessly between the hem of their tartans and the wool of their knee socks, just barely concealing the dagger.

3) While I did enjoy some truly delicious traditional Irish food this week, the Church Hill Irish Festival management isn't scared to have more traditional fare, including a Dublin Dog, Irish Burger, Mac 'o Cheese and Ital- oops, I mean Irish sausage... and of course Miller Lite.

2) The Irish people must be the happiest, music-lovingest bunch of people I've ever met. There were so many fantastic musicians at each venue we visited this week that my head is spinning! Inspiration for a new fiddler!

1)Last but not least, no one can resist the surly charm a a sweet little red-haired girl!

See more fun photos of the week here!

Thursday, March 19

God Keeps the Wild Flowers Blooming

I saw these this morning on my run and couldn't resist stopping to take a snap! Want to see what else is blooming? Click here to see What's Beautiful!

Thursday, March 12

Magical Mystery Tour

Welcome back to Swestie! After much pondering, picking apart, padding, papering and procesing, I'm back at it! I originally took a break from Things that Inspire because I was having trouble with the format I was using (it was crashing people's computers!), and then I enjoyed the break so much, I just kept taking it! But every now and then, I've done something that I really wanted to share with you, my friendly readers, so here I am.

Now, if you know me personally, you'll know that it is just my style to suddenly scrap everything and start over completely, and I'm doin that today. So my former blog that I could never quite figure out what it was about is becoming a still indiscernably topic-ed blog with an even wider array of subjects, including health and wellness, exercise, art, living large, music, books, other blogs, and well, anything else cool that inspires me!

So come with me on this Magical Mystery Tour, Step Right Up! Add me to your RSS Feed and start coming back on over to Swestie!

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