Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Value of Silence

…… I couldn’t resist. :)

So the other day I read this article, “The End of Solitude,” by William Deresiewicz, which Jeff sent to me because it was pertinent to one of our conversations.

I’d wanted to think and read and reflect a whole lot throughout this semester, and already suspected that the way to do that for real was to turn off the outside noise. Not just the radio, but the news, the cell phone, Facebook, email, even reading other blogs, and just take some time to go inside my own head.

It was the best idea ever. I’ve made little changes like driving in silence, reading more of the Bible, copying down favorite passages and poems of mine into a notebook, and asking myself what my concrete goals are and then writing them down. It’s really incredible– how much my brain will do when I stop feeding ideas conceived by someone else into it. I’ve already made progress on a project I wanted to realize this school year, finished more books in the span of two weeks than the rest of the summer, and improved my self-discipline.

And that glorious recovery run I took on Sunday? Completely in silence. If my music had been blasting, I wouldn’t have been able to hear St. Margaret Mary chime, children laugh in the park, or the “hellos” of other runners.

I really recommend reading that article; it opened my eyes to all sorts of things that can be achieved in solitude, and in silence.

More to read that will make you think:

The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

The Jargon of the Novel

What about you… do you have music/texting/television going all the time or do you give yourself alone/quiet time? Is there a point when that becomes too much alone time?

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Yin and Yang

I did an easy 3-mile recovery run today, and it reminded me why I’m doing this and why I love it. Just being out, taking it easy, moving my body, and feeling the sunshine was so beautiful. This run made me appreciate the days when it does feel easy. And I wouldn’t have that awareness of ease if it weren’t for the pain, boredom, and exhaustion of my long run yesterday. There really is a yin and a yang to marathon training: three easy days, three moderate days, and one really effing hard day per week. When I look it like that, it’s totally manageable.

I think about my two best runs ever.

One was along the “lake trails,” a favorite seven mile loop along Lake Norman that I took with Hannah Marie and Olivia one evening in early spring. We got to the turnaround right as the sun was setting over the water, kicked off our shoes, and waded in. It was March, I think, and the water was still frigid. We were all wearing jackets in shades of pink or purple, and stood facing the sunset, holding hands, and let it wash over us. We still joke that it’s the best picture that was never taken. By the time we got back to campus, we were so energized and running at a quick pace that we frolicked and cartwheeled across Chambers lawn to celebrate the joy of the run, and all the love in our friendship.

The other was after finals but before graduation, when Paul and I were hanging out one afternoon (I was procrastinating on packing) and decided to do the cross-country trails. As soon as we got into them, it started pouring rain. We were both soaked and elated, splashing through mud puddles, racing (he always won), playing tag, slipping and sliding. It was so wonderful to be silly and carefree; there’s something about being all wet that releases other inhibitions and allows childlike play.

Those two runs would not have felt nearly so glorious if I hadn’t slogged through long, hot, parched runs that made me feel that doing house chores would be a reprieve. This evening was the yin to yesterday’s yang. Coming up over the pedestrian bridge (“the dragon”), I had St. Margaret Mary’s bell tower in sight, and coming down the other side, the low sun blurred everything in my vision except for the flower beds in Memorial Park, which it sharpened and backlit.

I know I’m waxing poetic, but running is poetry. I remember once, when Christine Marshall asked me how Poetry Club was going (my beloved Kathleen, Linda, and Jeff) and I sheepishly admitted to her that we didn’t read so much poetry anymore, but talked about pressing issues on our minds instead. She reminded me that talking about poetry doesn’t necessarily mean talking about poems. I’ll never forget the distinction again. But I digress.

Yin and yang… I was questioning Nate about love the other night. I asked him whether he believed in soulmates (I don’t, but still love Before Sunrise and Before Sunset), and then I questioned how we identify when someone is a right person, even if the right person doesn’t exist, and his ultimate conclusion is that you find someone who’s the yin to your yang. They just fit. As he put it, they complete your innate brokenness with theirs. I like that way of putting it.

Besides the serious stuff, hell, I wouldn’t appreciate my Mint Soy Lattes (or punkin spice! swoon.) if I didn’t usually opt for black coffee. I wouldn’t appreciate reading in a hammock if it weren’t for hours studying in the library.

I think a lot about balance and talk about it with my friends constantly, and I’m coming to think that real balance is swinging back and forth between focusing full attention on work, to relationships, to play, to hobbies, to exercise, etc. Going with the flow. And it works, as long as you circle back to each of those things that matter most. Balance isn’t constantly staying on the mid-line, because the mid-line is mediocre; it’s doing everything halfway and nothing fully.

So I’m going to remember that next Saturday, when I run eighteen miles. I’ll give it my all, then when I get a recovery day and a full rest day, I’m going to recover and rest with a purpose. Live the yang to its fullest potential– the fullest expression of the moment, as we say in yoga– and then enjoy the yin because you’ve earned it.

What are your yins and yangs? How do you keep a balance? Do you believe in soulmates? Let’s discuss!

xoxo Jane

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Long Run Stats 8/27: Sweet Sixteen!

Ehhh. During the actual thing it wasn’t all that sweet, haha. But such is la vida when you decide to do insane things like run 16 miles on perfectly good Saturday afternoons. Afterward, though, such was my feeling of accomplishment that I couldn’t resist the impulse to post “16 miles FTW!” to my Facebook status. Yeah…

Instead of running 16 miles, I would rather have been…………

Riding a tandem bike! Preferably not alone ;) Spotted this one outside Second Chance Antiques. Wanna buy it.

But before I do the recap, I want to share that a young man by the name of Mitch W. is CANCER FREE as of today!!! I don’t know him personally, but he’s Paul’s close friend back in Dallas, and I was there for Paul during much of Mitch’s chemo process and I feel like I as good as know him. I cried tears of joy when I received the text with this beautiful news. God answers our prayers, folks.

I have to tell you– I got Paul’s text just as I was completing seven miles and nine more was looking like a lot. But then I became so thrilled for Mitch that finishing a long run no longer looked like any obstacle. I mean, this guy fought off freakin’ cancer, the least I could do was complete my run for the day. So thanks, Paul, and congratulations and love to Mitch– you two made it a great run.

Distance: 16– 7 outside and 9 in the gym, which gave me a 15-min break while I drove over there

Time: like…. a long time. Okay, aprox. 2 hours and 40 minutes, not including a couple of breaks. Prob came to 3 hours for the whole experience. See what I meant about taking up a perfectly good Saturday afternoon? Mrg.

Difficulty: 8/10 but I completed it, and survived.

Soreness: Knees started talkin’ to me for about the last 4-5 miles. Calves and feet are a bit sore now, and I bet hips will be tomorrow. We forget about our feet, y’know? They tote us around all day and barely get any thanks. Why is it only pregnant women get foot massages? Haha… I’m gonna give myself one tonight; my feet did hard work for me today.

Before: A marvelous bowl of oats involving PUMPKIN puree for the first time since last winter. Not sure how prevalent pumpkin’ll be in Italia, so getting my fix now. But once the leaves start to change over there, I’ll likely go into punkin withdrawals, and you’ll hear about it. ;)

Also before, community yoga class with the gorgeous Lina Lander… she’s been a new friend this summer, a lovely Canadian lady who teaches public health at UNMC. I lurve anybody who appreciates research! I’ll post a picture of us soon.

During: buckets of water (ducked into the cupcake place for a cup of water twice during my run outside and got dirty looks from the cupcake eaters, haha. wanted to tell them I’ve had more than my share of cupcakes this summer…) and a Pure Bar (choc. brownie goodness, of course) on the drive from the park to the gym.

After: after a short period of thinking I was going to die of hunger (I missed lunch) my parents and my aunt and I tried out a new restaurant at Midtown called Crave… it was great! I had some hummus and pita, a seaweed salad, a caterpillar roll (sushi), and split a peach/blackberry crisp with fried vanilla ice cream with the other three. Dinner success. I normally don’t like feeling full, but after being so exhausted and so hungry, finally feeling full after a huge dinner was bliss.

That’s it!! The run itself hurt for much of the time. I was probably strong for 4 miles of this one. It’s weird how that works, isn’t it? The day I ran 14, I was basically strong for the whole thing! But I’m getting over a mild cold (I’ve pretty much ignored it and hoped it would go away, and it did!) so that could play a part.

If you’ve stayed with my rambles this long, I definitely want to hear about your life…. How was your weekend, friends? Any fun/funny stories? Any good restaurants? Interesting thoughts? Do share!

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A Cloud Lifted

I was having one of those days yesterday.

Sick of the heat, feeling useless sitting around the house waiting to leave town, down about various other things, and majorly missing this place:

Even looking at those photos to put them in the post makes my heart twinge. :(

But! I turned my depressed mood around last night. My sweet father reminded me that life, like my project, is a marathon, and not to lose track of the forest while staring at the trees. Then today I took action and began working on some projects that will put me in touch with people at school and make me feel more connected.

I’ve never really missed anything as deeply as I miss Davidson this week. But I know it won’t be the same as I know it because all my friends are dispersing to other countries, too, and soon I’ll be deliciously sequestered in Florence, too busy exploring to pine away.

And besides, missing someplace is a sign that you love it, and a sign that you’re alive.

So yesterday’s cloud has lifted and today was the most productive day of my summer. I’m happy. :)

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1/3 of the Way There- Thoughts

I’ve been training for 6 weeks (and into my 7th) so since I started a 16-week plan two weeks early, this is the one-third mark.

  • I feel good! Not too physically exhausted, except on long run nights, and generally in good spirits, except for bouts of homesickness for Davidson and friends. And, I guess, long run nights I’m pretty emotionally drained, too, because all my willpower and positive self-talk gets channeled into the run. I thought it was weird how I was feeling irritable the night after a long run (and my parents were getting really frustrated with me), but then I remembered how drained to the point of illness I was after the half-marathon in April. I’m going to accept feeling out of sorts for an evening as part of the process, and just be aware of it in my interactions with people.
  • I’m generally decked out like this (with a pair of colorful Nike shorts or black leggings and my Brooks):

Fashion has officially been set aside for the summer.

  • The physical act of running has come to feel automatic. At the beginning of a run, it feels like the most basic movement, putting one foot in front of another, easy and thoughtless. By the end, especially on the BFH (translation: Big Hill) leading up to my house, the motion still feels automatic but it’s as if all nature’s forces are dragging me backwards with weights around the ankles and knees rather than allowing me to float.
  • Running heightens my senses. I notice the gentle physicality of cool wind, the perfection of a small boy silhouetted against the park sky, different layers in the smell of the air: rain, cut grass, car exhaust, another jogger’s cologne.
  • I’m tired a lot of the time; I’ve gotten a ton of reading done as a result.
  • I’m hungry about an hour before mealtime, regularly, and getting lax with myself about sweet treats again. Gotta stop that. I hate how sugar feels in my system and love how I feel without it.
  • Christine Marshall, an adored professor of mine, was right (as always): training for a marathon makes you live in the moment. I’m following a schedule, and it’s hard not to look ahead. But if I focused on the fact that my weekly mileage nearly doubles over the course of three weeks (yipes!) I would totally psych myself out and not feel appreciative that only three miles were scheduled for me today. During the run itself, I’m really zoomed in to my senses in each moment, and above eight miles or so, I slip into a sort of daze that makes my sensory observations seem really far in the distance.

And I’d just like to say thank you to my subscribers and readers, friends, and family who cheer me on in *real life* and on this blog! I couldn’t get motivated without you– I love you all.

That’s pretty much it! 12 weeks to go! Runners, do you share any of these experiences, or have any reflections on running to add?

xoxo Jane

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Banana Bread and Long Run Stats 8/20

Because it was a short one as far as ‘long’ runs go, I’ll keep this brief, and then get on to the fun stuff.

Distance: (only!) 10 miles. Never thought I’d use that modifier on a ten mile run.

Time: 97ish minutes (?)

Difficulty: 6/10. I had a weird stomach ache the last 4 miles.

Fuel: lovely salad beforehand with Lydia, Meaghan, and Samira; chocolate Zico during (officially my new fave flavor of Zico– it tasted like chocolate milk!) and a Pure Organic Bar after– brownie flavored. Guess I was craving chocolate, cause both those snacks really hit the spot.

That’s really all there is to say about the run. Unfortunately most of the time I was wishing for it to be over. Afterwards I got takeout of the indulgent Hawaiian Roll from my favorite sushi spot downtown, and settled in on the outdoor patio of Aromas with a pot of mint tea to read Saturday. I got a slow start on the book since the whole story takes place on one day and there’s a lot of detail, but the pace is picking up and I’m really into it.

So here’s a treat for you, what I’m going to call…

Disappearing Banana Bread

It’s called disappearing because two loaves went in two days at my house. I’m pretty sure my brother is responsible for one of them, and the rest of us split the other. :) Recipe from the Private Collection Cookbook of the Junior League of Palo Alto.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 6 ripe bananas, mashed (aprox. 3 cups)
  • 4 eggs, well beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • With electric beater, cream together sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add bananas and eggs, beating until well-mixed.
  • Sift together dry ingredients three times. Blend with banana mixture but do not overmix.
  • Pour into two lightly greased loaf pans. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, until firm in the centers and the edges begin to separate from the pans.
  • Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from pans. These freeze beautifully.

Today my parents took a day-cation at their golf club and Dan worked brunch and dinner, so I was left to fend for myself. I always start off days like this lonely, but then settle in and enjoy doing exactly as I please. Here’s what went down:

  • Took an easy recovery run of 4 miles
  • Headed back down to Aromas to finally reply to Jeff’s email (and search for my sunglasses which I lost yesterday, argh)

  • Tucked in at home this evening with vegan curry couscous salad from Whole Paycheck and a bunch of strawberries. This little guy (above) and I are now hanging on the porch while I blog and read and my bread rises.

It’s been ideal!

Something to talk about: how do you like to pass your alone time, especially if you have a lot of it? I’m looking forward to my time as a single laday after college but somewhat apprehensive about an empty apartment every night (except for the inevitable puppy) and possibly living across the country from my fam.


Have a gorgeous night,

Jane

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Words to Live By

Because I love words. And pretty images containing them.

via Wit & Delight.

via Wide Open Spaces.

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