Monday, June 11, 2012

Being a Runner: It’s Time


In the few months since I’ve been a member of Team Run Flagstaff, I’ve found myself saying again and again, “I am not a runner.”

I’m just here to run, I tell whomever is listening. It’s part of my weekly workout routine. And maybe I run on some Sunday mornings, too. But I am not a runner.

The conviction is a deep one. Running, like math, found itself on the wrong side of my attitude when I was still just a kid. Over decades of activity, then atrophy, then a renewed commitment to fitness, it has remained there.

When I moved to Flagstaff a year ago, I started walking and biking—even running—a few flat trails. But somehow that wasn’t enough. I saw runners emerging from the trees who clearly had been up there, somewhere, at higher elevations. Maybe it’s my attachment to the natural landscape, but seeing them filled my mind with romanticized visions of loping along twisting trails through the forest.

So I’ve tried. Reality, though, quickly claws my visions back to earth. A few hundred yards and my legs feel like bags of sand. My mind, never having been through—maybe even to—that runner’s wall that I hear about, begins the chant: Give up. Right now. I am not a runner.

I’ve done OK on Tuesday nights with TRF, hiding pretty well (I think) among the sizeable group. But now comes a twist. Run a timed mile. Yes, I get the point. It’ll help me understand and make better use of R pace, I pace, T pace. But I can’t lose myself in the crowd. There will be a time, and it will be attached to me.

And it will be slow.

For the past week, I’ve told myself simply to accept the number, whatever it is. The information can help me. At nearly 54, I need realistic goals. Heck, I need to figure out how I’m even going to set realistic goals.  

I could skip the timed run. I could just keep being a guy who shows up to get some exercise. Yet something tells me that I want more. I want to feel that I’m getting somewhere, to make some progress along that tricky trail in my mind that leads upward from failure.

Somewhere out there is a run that isn’t waiting for me to finish—it’s waiting for me to start.

Eric Dieterle is a member of the Team Run Flagstaff communications committee and public affairs coordinator at Northern Arizona University.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Growing Up

TRF Assistant Coach Stephanie Rothstein
gets serious.

I'm not sure when the moment happened, but a few weeks ago I realized I am an adult. Growing up, I assumed being an adult meant having a 9-to-5 job, raising kids, and maintaining a sense of balance in my life.

The past few months I have learned the true meaning of balance. By definition I have none of the things I thought an adult had. No kids, no 9-to-5 job, but still trying to maintain balance. Over the past seven weeks I have traveled to Boston, San Diego, Palo Alto, Spokane, and Las Vegas to race six times, entered the realm of a first-time home owner, co-managed the growth of our company Picky bars, attempted to plan my wedding, and, of course, have a presence helping coach TRF the weeks I am in Flagstaff.

Training and competing is a full-time job and requires a ton of physical and mental energy that can sometimes take away from other areas of life.  I have learned that being an adult doesn't have to be restricted to a certain lifestyle. For many, it does mean getting up at 5 a.m., squeezing a run in before kids are up, packing lunches, and heading off to work while playing through the zillion things you have to do in your head. It means starting your week already looking forward to the weekend bike ride, golf game, or movie you've been meaning to see. For me being an adult has meant setting my own deadlines, putting training first, thinking about others and how I could make a difference, preparing mentally for life with kids, and taking ownership for mistakes I might make. 

Enough with the serious talk, who's ready for some hot summer days, sunrise runs, iced coffee, and a Flagstaff 4th of July Downtown Mile? I leave town for the next month to race and prepare for the U.S. Track & Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR. I'll be running the 10,000m on June 22nd with the pride of Flagstaff on my shoulders. Thanks for being a great home to me and letting me hold the stopwatch on Tuesday and Thursday nights!

Stephanie Rothstein is TRF assistant coach, runner for Adidas, and co-founder of Picky Bars.