Stories from my youth: Volleyball

I haven’t always been a runner. Heck, I joined the track team in high school,because I had a crush on my older brother’s friend and he did it. Shout out to Mike, who I believe is married now so you know I picked well. He actually ended up dating my friend but I’m not bitter at all…

Anyway, my main sport was volleyball. I grew up playing it, taught by my mom, and cannot remember a time I wasn’t either waiting to play on the school team or actually playing on it. There were not all the young teams for 6 year olds where I grew up, yet I think I started going to the older kids practice at that age.

It was simply fun though, I was not training to be a child prodigy.

When I entered 7th grade, I was allowed to play on the junior varsity team. I was tall for my age and had been coming to practice for a while, so the coach took a chance on me. I took to the sport and soon learned how to actually play.

I loved it! Playing with other girls (older girls!) who treated me like an equal, like a friend, was so fun! Middle school is an awkward time, I was gangly, chubby and just felt weird in my body. Those girls made everyday fun. They knew so much more than me. They had boyfriends! They were in high school! It was all very exciting.

I think what I remember most were the bus rides. After I got over feeling shy, sitting with someone new was something I looked forward to. They liked to talk to me, to tell me things. I was really naive and innocent (relatively speaking) and they both liked to share their stories and also see what someone who had limited knowledge of relationships, boys or life things thought. 

I guess I should have known that this would continue all my life. Not only do I love to talk, I love to listen. 


When I got older, our team got better. My peers in school became my teammates and our senior year we won the league. Again, what I remember most was singing on the bus. My friend and I sang is this really vulgar song each ride both to shock the younger kids, but also because it was hilarious. The bond we all had was the one thing I miss about team sports.

The one thing.

After high school I was recruited to play D2 at Daemen College in Buffalo, NY. However, by that time, my heart was waning. I would love it one moment and then just not want to be there the next. I ended up transferring schools at the end of that year, so that ended my volleyball career.

I now work with a woman at the gym who plays on an adult volleyball team. I enjoy listening to her stories but am glad that part of my life has passed. I will always enjoy watching the sport, it’s so beautiful. However I know that I would not want to play again. I do not regret my decision to stop. 


Give me beach volleyball and Olympics though, and it’s the most patriotic I will ever be.

See you out there!

Bumps In the Road

Sometimes, I do everything right and still hit bumps in the road. I have been trying to be smart this training cycle. I gained weight and have kept it on. I foam roll. I do mobility work. I stop runs short to have more time for stretching or form drills. I bike instead of run longer miles. I eat more than enough. I have taken steps to de-stress my life. I prioritize relationships over working out.

I am happy with everything and what is happening in my life.


Yet, I hit a snare a few weeks ago after 0SPF. I mentioned this in my Escarpment race recap. I hadn’t run for the two weeks leading up to the race. My foot simply hurt. I don’t know what I did, I did not go to a doctor. I took the advice of my coach and did what I normally do when I feel niggles, I took off.

This sucked. I was finally back in my city. The town I love and where I learned to run. Yet, I was stuck on the elliptical for two weeks trying to maintain some semblance of cardio and making sure I didn’t do anything worse so I had to DNS Escarpment.


I was being overly safe and still hit a snare.

Sometimes I think, because I am running smarter than I used to, that everything will be sunshine and rainbows forever. That is simply not the case. I could step off a curb wrong and twist my ankle. I could eat expired food (like yesterday) and get a stomach ache. Just because I’ve worked on certain areas and fixed things holding me back does not make me super human.

Sure, I’ve come a long way. I no longer feel like I am about to break. I do not have the stress I had this past winter. I have a team of people I let in to help me run smart and healthfully. I spend time with loved ones and friends simply because I want to, not because I feel I have to.

This does not mean I don’t have to struggle to run my best. Figuring out life issues does make my body less susceptible to burn out, but I still break sometimes.


That’s ok. I am still a human. I still live a full life when I am not running. It was the things outside my running that have blossomed, so even though I may need to take weeks off, I don’t feel as empty anymore.

Hitting rough patches is part of training. In order to appreciate the good, I am someone that needs to go through the bad.

See you out there! (finally!!)

Back Home

Well, I moved!

I currently reside in Newfield, NY which is just outside Ithaca until the end of the month at which time I will move to an apartment downtown. I am staying with my coworker and her boyfriend and three dogs.

Three adorable, energetic labs that have made my life quite exciting.

Maple likes to eat all the fruit and vegetables I leave on the counter.


Aspen is the most chill puppy ever, but is naughty when she spends too much time with Maple.

Yeti is the oldest and the one that behaves the best. I left a whole batch of cookies on the stove all day and she didn’t eat a single one! What was she thinking?

They all go to puppy training, so I’m optimistic about Maple…

I moved in last week and already have had some fabulous runs. I’ve also gotten lost once when I tried to run in Newfield. I got 6 miles out after taking a wrong turn…then hitchhiked home in the back of a truck. My hair was crazy!


I’ve run with friends a few times and it’s like nothing has changed.

These are my people.

I’ve spent the week working for my mom at her boutique and getting my paperwork ready for CTB and the fitness center. My mom and I have had some really great days together. No matter what food I bring for her, she still tries to eat half of mine. Like mother, like daughter I guess.


I start back to work at CTB this week. I have already eaten there everyday since being back. No shame.

I don’t have a set schedule nor will I have weekends off, but that’s ok. I enjoy my job and my coworkers, so being with them is not a chore. Just have to remember to take time off for races. My Saturdays will be spent working the morning at the fitness center and then working for my mom in the afternoon. I’ll plug her Instagram when I create it and you all can look at the clothes and buy them if you want. Whenever I am in a dress, it is from her shop.

My days are all different, but part of that is really cool. I’m teaching myself to go with the flow. Running will come, I just need to be flexible.

It’s all good down here.

Naked.

One morning a few days ago, I was getting into the shower. I had some time before going to the next thing, so I paused and looked at myself, sans clothes, in the mirror. 

It’s been a while since I’ve done that, like months. 

I took a second and really saw myself.

I look different.

I am not overly toned to the point of looking unhealthy.

I have more cushion in my stomach and hips.

My boobs are fuller and do not just hang off my rib cage.

My love handles spill a bit over the waist band on my spandex.

I look appropriate for what I am doing. I look more like my mom (who is healthy). 

I do not look like I did when I was marathon training, nor how I did when I started running ultras.

I look fuller, stronger and not like I have a problem.

The training I am doing, the way I am resting, the food I eat is doing what it’s supposed to. I’m turning into a trail runner.

The thing is, the 15 pounds I’ve gained in the past few months have not really distributed yet. It’s still mostly on my mid section. But that’s ok. I sometimes get uncomfortable when my shorts are tight. I don’t have definition there. My belly sticks out.


I’m in love with this. 

This process. This path that has taken me so long to embrace. The changes necessary to both enjoy my life, let go of control and run well. 

I enjoy not having a routine. I enjoy spending time with friends and family. I enjoy impromptu bon fires and s’mores after a huge dinner of fried rice. 


I enjoy being cooked for by my friend’s chef boyfriend. I enjoy milkshakes and bagels at 3PM with my mom. I enjoy not worrying about training and just letting it come. I enjoy working around other people’s schedule and not making them work around mine.


I enjoy the feeling of being able to say this is enough. I don’t have to hit some quota of miles. I trust my training plan.

I now also trust my body. My beautiful naked, un-toned, strong, stubborn, silly body.


I trust you. I love you.

Thank you so much.

Fatass

A fatass race is one with no admission, limited or non-existent aid and no medals.

A fatass race is usually done on a looped course, in a remote area and few people.

A fatass race might be my new favorite way to run.


[photo: Michael Valone]

This past weekend I was able to participate in my good friend Michael’s second fatass race. I have really been enjoying travelling to run on the weekends, and this weekend’s trip was needed in a big way.

I was scheduled for 15 miles easy paced and the mile loop trail set up for the 8 hour event was picture perfect. There was one “aid-station” at the start/finish area and you could run as many or as few loops as you wanted.

The premise of this style of race fits in with how I view running. I started the sport because it was cheap, fun and a way to connect with myself and others. I didn’t need to be rich to participate and I get out of it what I put in.

Michael’s races basically mark a set distance loop (this was 1 mile) and the course is open for a set amount of time. The winner is the person who completes the most loops however you can come and go as you please. The winners of Saturday’s race ran the whole 8 hours (!!!!) and completed over 40 miles each. I did my 15 loops and then hung out the rest of the day.

I enjoyed seeing people all over the course and feeling like you were running with, rather than against anyone. I do enjoy running with people and these races give me a chance to do that without having to be at anyone’s pace other than my own.

The only part I was a bit worried about was that I lapped people (who were running a lot longer than me) many, many times in my 15 miles. I never want to demoralize runners, so I asked Michael afterward about that concept in looped courses. He assured me that, coming from his perspective, most people are running their own race and like to pass and be passed by all other runners. They understand, as I do, that we are all training for different things and so our paces will all be different. That put my mind at ease, because if I were running a fatass with someone like Devon Yanko or Yiou Wang, I would be the one getting lapped and I would totally not care!

That’s the beauty of a race like this, no medals, no glory, just running and being together.


I look forward to the next one.