Sunday, May 15, 2011

Who Says You Can't Go Home

One of the perks of my amazing job is the almost constant opportunity to run with different people in new and exciting places. Because I happened to be traveling this week to Texas and Oklahoma--the former being the state where I grew up and the latter being where I spent a summer with Jordan a few years back--this week's running was made extra amazing due to the amount of familiar faces I had the pleasure of seeing.

My first stop, Austin, brought
90+ degree temperatures and, not coincidentally, several days of pre-5:30am wake-ups. On Tuesday morning I hosted a wear test run at Luke's Locker and enjoyed some miles around the Lone Star capitol and Town Lake with some store staff and customers. Wednesday morning found me at the same place, same time for a track workout at a nearby high school. I was fortunate enough to tag along with several of the aforementioned Luke's crew who were also planning a trip to the oval, and though their workout was neither the same pace nor the same rest as mine I still benefited from their presence and encouragement as I pushed through the palpably humid air. On the jog over to the track I met a Luke's runner who shared her incredible story of losing over 100 pounds in the past year, solely through the old-fashioned method of drastically changing her diet and training for her first half-marathon. 100 pounds--can you imagine?! She said she went to pick her dad up from the airport a few months ago and he literally walked by her without a sliver of recognition. This young woman was eager to talk to me about my training and my Trials preparation, but I was quick to assure her with complete sincerity that her progression was much more remarkable and inspiring than mine. Stories like hers make me fall in love with the running community all over again.

Speaking of the Trials, however, while in Austin I also had the opportunity to catch up with Allison Macsas, my roomie from Houston Meltdown 2011. Allison, who runs for Team Rogue Elite, missed the Trials standard by a heartbreaking 30 seconds on that day but just last week redeemed herself with a sub-2:45 in Vancouver. Team Rogue Elite coaches Ruth England and Steve Sisson (who is also the head women's coach at Texas) graciously invited me into their home along with the rest of the female Team Rogue Elite contingent for an evening of delicious wine and food and conversation. As is inevitable with a group of runners, the conversation eventually drifted back to training, and I remained mostly quiet as I listened to Steve espousing his own pearls of wisdom. The one sentiment that stuck with me the most was his notion of "checking off all the boxes" every day. He rightfully believes that one day or one workout isn't any more significant than those that come in line before it or after it, but rather that the sum total of continued consistent training ultimately moves mountains. If you go to bed each night secure in the knowledge that you've "checked off all the boxes" of that day's training--whether it be running, stretching, core, weights, fueling, massage, whatever--then you can rest easy knowing you've done everything you need to do in order to add one more drop in your fitness bucket. For someone like me, this perspective is both challenging and comforting. Challenging because my work and travel schedule often means the only box I check off is hastily stretching a hammy or calf muscle while hurrying through a frantic post-run shower, but also comforting because it means that greatness can be achieved in small increments and gradual accumulations.

As my trip brought me further north to Ft. Worth, the influx of familiar faces continued in earnest. Thursday afternoon I took in an easy afternoon double around the Rivercrest Country Club with my friend and former training partner Cindy. It was just like old times--plus one small addition, as
on this day I was also pushing her almost-two-year-old daughter Ellie in the baby jogger. This was my first baby jogger experience, one that left my upper arms sore for several days, and I finished the run absolutely awed by people like Mike Beigay and Mike Kahn who can click off sub-6 miles with their kidlets in tow. Friday morning found me once again running on the familiar Trinity River Trails, only this time with another old training buddy Megan Skeels. A former high school stud (her Texas Relays two-mile record stood for over 15 years) and Arkansas standout, Skeels also went the motherhood route and put her running on hold for a few years before returning to the sport with the marathon Trials in her sights. After a disappointing finish in Houston (noticing a Houston pattern here?) and an agonizingly close 2:46:30 in Eugene a few weeks ago, she may re-train her sights on the half-marathon qualifying time this summer. Whichever route she chooses, I have no doubt she'll be toeing the line with me in Houston in 2012.

Ellie showing off her new Karhus (and her undies...oops!)

At this point you're probably thinking my week of reunion runs must be drawing to a close. Hardly! I was borderline giddy on Friday afternoon as I continued northbound toward Norman, OK and the famed OK Runner shoe purveyors. Jordan worked at OK Runner for almost three years while he was in grad school, and we both consider the entire crew (including Luna Bar-loving pup Lance) to be family. Returning to Norman brought back a flood of memories from the amazing summer that Jordan and I spent living in a crappy apartment above Mr. Roberts Furniture on Main Street. Back then our days consisted of little more than running, slinging shoes, running some more and savoring warm and windy evenings of laughter with friends. (Come to think of it, that's pretty much what our lives are like now too. Sweet!) Norman might not be many people's idea of summer vacation, but the company we kept made every moment enjoyable. I was lucky enough to spend some time with a few of those people this weekend--Scotty, Jerry, Jason, Kristi, Aja, Craig and Jenny, to name a few--and even put in some miles together around town. On Saturday afternoon I experienced what I might consider to be the singul
ar most random encounter of my entire life, during which I ran into my mom's former college roommate in the bathroom of Jason's Deli. The randomness was further compounded by the fact that neither of us live anywhere remotely close to Norman and have not seen each other in about five years, so needless to say it was quite the pleasant surprise! (In the course of our hasty catch-up conversation--which, yes, also took place in the bathroom--I learned that Tina actually reads this blog. Since she is quite an accomplished writer this means I will have to take measures to step up my prosaic game going forward.)

Lance the OK Runner guard dog hard at work

Though every single one of the moments described above made my heart happy, the run on this trip I enjoyed the most took place this morning with my dad. For the final leg of my trip I met my parents in Plano for a post-Mother's Day dinner and hotel sleepover, and this morning I took my dad on a tour of the crushed gravel path on the Frito-Lay campus that Jordan and I discovered a few months ago. At the tender age of 62, my dad ran a blazing sub-22 minute 5k yesterday after hovering in the 22's and 23's for the past year or so. Even more remarkable, we averaged right around 8:15 pace for his long run today, which meant he ran just over a minute per mile slower than his race pace! I hope I'm still running when I'm his age, much less still improving, and it was fun to catch up as we clicked off the miles together.

So that pretty much sums it up--only not at all. It's not exactly possible to articulate how blessed I feel to be able to reunite with so many friends and family in the course of a week, all while getting paid to talk about the sport and the brands I love every day with fellow runners and athletes. Home is where the heart is, as the axiom goes, and this trip brought the realization that I am lucky enough to have several homes and many companions with which to share them.

It's a good feeling.


Samantha Winn said...

Hello Meagan!

I used to be a piano student of your dad's. I'm now a runner (albeit a really pitiful one, recovering from a hip injury) in Tyler. I love your blog! Glad to see you're still doing well and excelling in your sport. I would love to get in touch with your dad, if he has an e-mail address.

Take care,
Samantha Winn (Siverling)

Meagan Nedlo said...

hi samantha, thanks for the note! i'm sure my dad would like to hear from you. his email is good luck with your injury recovery and training!