Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner


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Return to racing and the day-to-day

I kicked off spring racing (and the first race after my marathon in December) with a 15k in Jacksonville, FL this past weekend. It attracted a ridiculously deep field, the deities of road racing yielded perfect weather, and I experienced possibly the most complete athlete-hospitality ever leading up to a race.

The elite women were ushered to the start area in front of an antsy crowd of other road-racers, and lined up for the equalizer timing.

The gun for the women’s start went off, and…meh.

Not my day. I’d by lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed, but I ran a decent effort, and chalked it up to a good workout in the very least. It wasn’t what I had hoped for, but not every race can feel like rainbows and sunshine and fireworks.

…because that is, in fact, what the good ones feel like. Obviously.

On the bright side, I got to spend a weekend in Florida, meet a couple of gals that also run for SRA, and chat it up with other runners. The camaraderie was refreshing, and something that I often feel starved of in my solo training. Having the opportunity to connect with these other amazing elite runners was an amazing opportunity in itself, and inspiring to boot.

I’m turning my focus to getting in consistent work, listening to my body, and smoothing out some of the bumps that I’ve been encountering of late.

I want to keep evolving as a runner and overall athlete, and that requires patience and the ability to see yourself through the patches of training that aren’t so perfect.

I’m workin’ on it.

A New Old

On the “evolving” note, I’m adapting back to Santa Rosa, aka home.

Home is familiar.

Ok, duh Alia. That’s why it’s called home.

However, familiarity isn’t always synonymous to comfort. In my move home, I failed to recognize that the transition back is, in fact, still a transition. In a lot of ways it feels backward to be here, which in itself is something that I wrestling with.

Overall, I’m lucky to have the welcoming home situation that I do. My main quandary is striking a balance between accepting support without using it as a complete crutch.

As I figure life out in my own sporadic, chaotic way, I’ve been lucky to come across some work with a really rad lady by the name of Whitni Rader, who started pea.brain. She is a web designer goddess, works from her home in beautiful Petaluma, and wants my help! Whowouldathunk. I am soaking up whatever I can from her, and am excited to get moving on more projects.

She also makes really delicious stir-fry, and keeps me well caffeinated (new requirement of potential workplaces). What’s not to love?

Day by Day

A lot in my life right now is on a day-to-day basis. I’m not completely locked into a routine, for better or worse. On one hand, just thinking about the wrong kind of routine already feels suffocating. On the other, I’m still ironing out how to structure life myself. Work is helping, and will become more and more natural as time continues on.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Right.

Doing my best to embrace the transition, ride the bumps, and enjoy the day-to-day life that I’m in.

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Uptight Laid-Back

A friend once told me that I was the most uptight laid-back person she had ever met.

For better or worse, the seeming oxymoron of a description of a person seems to fit me all too well. It also seems to describe my current situation.

I went from feeling suffocated by the strict scheduling of my work/training/life juggling act in San Francisco, to not knowing what the fuck to do with myself in this floater phase that I’ve found myself back in.

I don’t have a regular job, but I don’t necessarily feel relaxed.

For now, I’m trying to strike a balance between allowing myself to be present (aka, chilling out), allowing myself to enjoy the perks of being in-between work, and keeping my eyes on the future.

On taking advice

I’m in a space of life where I’m receiving a lot of advice. And here’s the thing: I truly want to talk to everyone and explore the plethora of options that life has to offer. But, I have to say, the responses have been kind of all over the place.

Why don’t you just get a full running sponsorship? (Ha!)

You should look into a career in computer programming.

Isn’t journalism dead anyway?

You should pull on your spandex, walk into a gym, and demand a job as a personal trainer just based of athleticism.

You’re batshit crazy for even thinking about leaving San Francisco.

You’re batshit crazy for even thinking about living in San Francisco in the first place.

You’re just batshit crazy. Period.

Through all of this, I’ve drawn one conclusion: I am the only one who is to make my life decisions.

SHOCKING, I know. Is this what growing up is?

Studying for class, I mean life…

Lately, I’ve found myself gravitating toward literature and film/video relating to living life, for lack of a better description.

Here’s what I’ve intellectually consumed within the past couple months, for anyone who wants to follow the made-up class that I’ve haphazardly constructed for myself.

  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  • Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler
  • Happiness (a documentary)
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey
  • The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferris (in progress)

I’m not running to the self-help section of the bookstore and sobbing in a hernia-inducing manner or anything. I’m merely insatiably fascinated by the different ways that people have found to live, the different ways that people find fulfillment on a regular basis.

I’m confident that I’m exactly where I need to be right now, and I’m determined to explore the different ways people make the jigsaw puzzle of life work.

*Disclaimer: For anyone who hasn’t read Bossypants, you may actually be putting yourself at risk for a hernia from laughing too hard.

Right meow

I’m back in Santa Rosa, soaking up the absurdly beautiful February weather, the red-dirt trails of Annadel State Park, and trying to prove my worth as a daughter by doing dishes and dropping my mom off at work in the morning.

That should do it, right?

My first real race of the season will be Gate River on March 9 in Jacksonville, FL for the USA 15k Championships (I admit, I didn’t know there was such a thing as a USA 15k Championship before this…but why the hell not?!). As the date creeps closer, it is becoming apparent that the volunteer elite coordinator Richard Fannin does a hell of a job pulling in athletes. The field is going to be ridiculous, and I can’t wait to be in that atmosphere, surrounded by badasses. AND three other ladies that run for SRA will be there, making a team score possible.

In the meantime, I’m working on getting work, and picking up freelance jobs on the side. My hope is to find some type of part-time work that will allow me to continue pursuing my freelance and running bum ambitions simultaneously.

Why not?

Yip!


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Hobo Problems

As I continue to perpetuate the now over five months of constant movement, I’ve come up against two issues that a self-proclaimed hobo, like myself, should have mastered by now.

I’m not sure if it’s plain stupidity and/or stubbornness, but I have failed to actually address these until semi-recently.

So, without further ado, here’s my first attempt…

Goodbye-ing

Ah, goodbyes. I am god-awful at them.

I also realize that the style that I’m living in calls for an inordinate amount of goodbyes. It requires me to essentially be doing as much goodbye-ing as hello-ing. Which is why sometimes I just don’t do it. I survey the goodbye scene, and decide just to bow out before many really notice that I’ve gone.

Maybe it’s because I have somehow inherited a similar view to legitimate goodbyes as Peter Pan…?

“Never say goodbye, because goodbye means going away, and going away means forgetting.” – Mr. Pan

I’m adopting a loose interpretation of that quote, to help me explain my sentiments. I also find it slightly amusing that I’m finding great meaning in a quote from a character who refuses to grow up.

The truth is, every person in my life owns a certain amount of me. They’ve shaped a certain part of me that will never be undone, and I could never express that in a simple “goodbye.”

However, I’ve given this some thought. Though my lifestyle perpetuates an ordinate dose of ‘goodbye,’ by default, it also gives me just as much ‘hello.’ So, I’m trying to choose hello, to my best ability. It’s difficult for me to really wrap my head around a legitimate goodbye. In my head, we’re going to meet up in the future sometime.

Goodbyes have changed in meaning for me, perhaps merely as a coping mechanism. They’re best made with a hug, and a knowing smile. They’re more like a strategic or necessary pause than a complete severing of lives.

However, some people don’t make it easy on me.

Yes, that’s my leg that she’s holding on to. Sure makes it a lot more difficult to put my peacefully philosophical “goodbye” to practice.

Selfish bitch.

Kidding…kind of.

Packing

This topic is quite a bit lighter, but in all seriousness, packing is my kryptonite. I avoid it at all costs.

Part of it is because I have this constant fear that whatever I bring will never be quite enough. I usually end up throwing as much as I can into my car in the limited time I’ve left myself.

Example: I need to be leaving to Folsom (my first post-collegiate race is tomorrow morning-yip! More on that later…) in less than two hours. And here I am, writing a blog post. Yep.

Self-sabotage? Naw. This has got to be pure mental and physical laziness.

I’d love to prolong my ramblings, but I should probably go pack now…or take a powernap.

More wanderings brewing, and some recent past to share still. Stay tuned!


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23-year-old Youngin’

For anyone that read my last post and didn’t conclude that I don’t exactly want to be living at my parents house, well…I don’t want to be living at my parents house.

I spent a good amount of high school lusting after my college years, my association with freedom at that point. So, it doesn’t come as a huge surprise that I’m not completely stoked to have come back to the nest after I thought I had fled for good.

But, my current life and financial situation necessitates it, for at least a short while. And I’m finally accepting that. That doesn’t mean that acceptance hasn’t come with my “adult” version of a temper tantrum, kicking and screaming the whole way. That’s definitely a part of why I’ve been so overly zealous of seizing every and any opportunity to move my physical location lately.

Past Hobo Attempts

Anywho, a strangely parallel situation from my youth has actually popped into my mind of late, running alongside the temper tantrum theme.

As many children threaten to do at some point, in my 7 years of wisdom and severe identity crisis from associating with Shirly Temple because of my hair (kidding), I democratically informed my parents one night that I was running away from home.

Mom and Dad, I’ve come to the conclusion that your ice cream rationing is bullshit. I refuse to live in this dessert dictatorship any longer. I’m leaving to find frozen-sugar-and-dairy freedom on my own. Screw you guys. I’m out.

Apparently I started cursing at a young age.

The point is, for whatever forgotten reason, I decided that finding alternate living accommodations would be the best solution to my exorbitant life problems. I was a complex kid, what can I say.

However, as I began gathering my most precious belongs for the big move, I started to realize that while freedom of ice cream consumption was extremely important to me, I had failed to consider the small detail of where else to actually go. Other issues arose as well. Who was going to pack me a sack lunch for school in the morning? Clearly my plan had some slight shortcomings.

So, I revised my previous statement, went to my parents and asked if I was allowed to run away to my playhouse in the backyard.

Way to stand your ground, kid.

For those of you a little slow on the uptake, ice cream is code for way of life, philosophical bullshit, blah, blah-de-blah, blah, etc. (For the record, I still hold my past sentiments about the aforementioned issue pertaining to ice cream.)

What my long-winded-point is, in all this temper tantrum business, I’ve failed to recognize that home ain’t all that bad. That I want to be an adult, and I have confidence that I’m getting there, but there are still these small adulthood things to sift out, like rent, car insurance, health insurance and money for food (ice cream).

To point out the obvious, I’m not quite there yet.

Clearly, independence has held a certain allure for me from an early age. And clearly, I still haven’t quite broken the habit of sometimes wanting to jump a little prematurely.

It’s more than a little chaotic at times, but the only thing that scares me more than my personal fears  is the fear that I’ll let them consume me in such a way that I forget to actually live and enjoy the beautiful life I’ve built for myself.

So, I’ve been running with scissors, so to speak. And I’m going to keep sprinting with those motherfuckers.

I couldn’t be happier.

Rediscovering Home

In the meantime, I’ve discovered that there are worse places to bide some time than Sonoma County. I’m lucky enough to practically have Annadel State Park as my backyard. In fact, I rarely have to drive to trailheads for my runs, as I’m able to hit dirt in just over a mile from my front door.

Late afternoon on the red dirt trails of Annadel. 

A semi-view of the lake I spent four summers lifeguarding. Holds a special place in my heart, and it’s generous pay checks definitely made these last four months of travel possible. 

And there’s been a slightly endearing nature to rediscovering my family’s quirks, like my mother’s habit of jumbling her words and wishing me “goodnight” every morning that she leaves for work.

…they’re adjusting to me being back as well. I already discovered two precious sleeves of thin mints hidden in the back of the freezer and Ghirardelli chocolate chips in the crevice of a cabinet.

Nice try folks. Time to step up your game.