Saturday, July 14, 2012

"Put a smile on your face...

make the world a better place." I love running to this song by Vitamin C. But the other day, when temperatures reached 90 and the humidity was thick I tried a simple experiment. Rocking out to Italian hip hop, I was still struggling, my legs were heavy and I was not a happy camper. But I started to smile as I was climbing a hill, a shit-eating grin, and probably looked a little strange, but that smile was enough to shift my attitude and I kicked asphalt. I started to smile widely as I prepared for a sprint. The heat no longer affected me. It was magic, but it was just a smile. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


I look a wee bit pained!
The other day an SUV passed me while driving on the Mass Pike, the woman in the passenger seat was giving me the thumbs up. I didn't know why until they pulled in front, but saw the sticker on the bumper, 26.2. While this means nothing to anyone who doesn't run, for those of us that do, this is a major accomplishment and source of pride. I began running 7 years ago, near the end of my marriage. Running saved me, relieving the major stressors that come with the break up of a marriage. It took me a while to be able to run a full mile, my lungs had been clear of smoke for years but still didn't function as well as a non smoker's. Flash forward five years, I am ready to race and I choose a full marathon for my first (probably not recommended.) I had never run that far before and my training runs were at the longest 20 miles. But that day in October, in  Hartford CT, I did it. I completed 26.2 miles. I am not a natural athlete, I skipped gym class in high school, smoked and drank throughout my early twenties, and when I hit 35 ran 26.2 miles. So I have the sticker on the car, and only a runner knows how much work those three little numbers mean. So when I pass a car with the sticker I always smile to myself. We are connected through our commonality, our love of this sport, the work and dedication it takes to be able to place the sticker on your car. We can be from completely different walks of life, but there is a connection. Thank you for that connection.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

It's Better with Two

Today was gorgeous. Spring-like weather in February, a mile into the run my coat was tied around my waist. Today I ventured out with a friend for a 6 mile loop through some of the most beautiful countryside (I think) in the Berkshires. This run had it all, rolling hills, flat stretches bordering cornfields, shaded areas, brooks, and farmland, complete with a flock of geese crossing the road. The geese would have been featured as the stars of this post had my cell camera not been full. Running with a friend keeps me motivated, not only to get started, but to keep going. Neither of us had run this distance in a while, and I know I had my doubts, but most of it went by with conversation and scenery. We passed a farm, home to a large flock of sheep, and stopped for a moment to say hi to the babies. With temperatures in the high 40's, this was a perfect late winter loop. I got my vitamin D and had the time to catch up with a friend.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paying Attention

This winter has been a strange one to say the least. I have been running in long sleeve tee shirts for most of it. This warm again cold again weather pattern has created havoc on the dirt roads on which I run, giving my ankles an extra tough workout. There were frozen ruts this morning and I had to make sure and slow my pace, zigzagging across a road not traveled by many (closed for the season) and really pay attention to my footing. I do use running as a sort of moving meditation, many ideas or solutions to problems come within the rhythmic cadence of foot on pavement and attention to breath. This morning I was made aware of more than just the pounding of pavement and labored breathing as I ascended yet another Berkshire hill. I needed to watch the ground carefully as I traveled, lest I twist an ankle. This made for slow going but paying attention always brings rewards. First is a safe and healthy return, second a greater connection with my body. Although I enjoy experiencing those "Aha" moments during a run, running for me is more than merely meditation. It affords me opportunity to be here, on this earth, in this body, creaky ankles and all. It affords me the chance to feel those lungs that were, for so many years filled with cigarette smoke, and now are filled with country air. It allows me to propel myself through space, and ending with a sense of accomplishment. I did it, I can do it, I am here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Loops

I just moved to a new town. At first I was scared that my running would be disrupted. How could I find a loop that was as perfect as my old one, the route I had been running for years, past a brook and through beautiful farmland. It took a while but I finally discovered a new run, a five mile loop that follows a dirt road now closed to traffic because of the winter. I see a hawk nearly everyday and the terrain is just perfect, part trail and part pavement. Now I realize that I can always find a perfect place to run, wherever I move.
Laura Gross
January 2012

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Southern Berkshires

I had been sick for two weeks, two weeks without running and the first few days back were difficult. But it was this day, as I crested a small hill in southwest Massachusetts, near the Connecticut border, that I remembered why I ran. The air filled my lungs and the road spread out before me. The steady rhythm of my footfalls lured me into a meditative state and the music kept me going.
I was back, I was running, I was alive.
Laura Gross
January 2012