Tag Archive | goals

Just a Couple Little Major Announcements

You know that feeling when you have so much to do that the weight of it all paralyzes you from actually doing anything? So you spend way too much time on Facebook. The final refuge of the paralyzed. You shop on Amazon for things you don’t need. You read Buzzfeeds about Disney princesses re-imagined as rocks. Anything to keep you from activating your brain. That’s my relationship to blogging at the moment.

I have the single biggest announcement to make about running since I started writing here at Running to Tahiti. Everything has led to this. It’s huge.

Follow that up with the SECOND biggest announcement to make since I began running over 15 years ago. So yeah.

Each of these announcements comes with deep introspection, analysis, and reflection that maybe no one really cares about but I feel compelled to explore. It’s the whole point. So I feel I can’t make these announcements until I can adequately collect my thoughts and articulate them clearly.

Who has the time for that? On top of these massive colossal running milestones are the myriad other report type articles I’d like to write. Race recaps, tips, running news, etc. There’s a lot going on.

And then there’s my personal life. Running a marathon gave me 6 hours to think about things and well, oh…

Woops.

I let one out of the bag there. I guess I’ll just tell you then. I ran a marathon.

I RAN A MARATHON!!!!!

So yeah, that’s huge. What can I say? Nothing I can say in this moment can adequately capture the significance of crossing that finish line. I’ll try again later, but until then, here are Pooh and friends:

Pooh Friends FinishI know, it’s a proof. I’m sorry! I DO plan on buying some of the official race pics but I have to wait until a payday rolls around that’s not right after a trip to Walt Disney World. I’m broke and those pictures are about $5000 a piece. For serious. Here’s some more though.

So yeah, running for over 6 hours straight. You should try it sometime. No really you should. I finished 26.2 miles and I swear within less than one hour I was thinking to myself “When can I do that again?”

Runners are so crazy. I love it. It’s like how that one time, during the marathon, when I was thinking about how we made it to Tahiti… oh.

Wait…

Let another one slip there. Big announcement. We made it to Tahiti.

WE MADE IT TO TAHITI!!!!

I know what you’re thinking. “You’re not in Tahiti, lady. You just posted a Daily Mile run in Santa Monica yesterday.” You would be right. I am not currently in Tahiti. But clearly you haven’t been reading my blog for very long. That’s ok. Here’s the short of it. 4 years ago Brad and I picked a dream destination. Tahiti. We looked up the miles between L.A. and Tahiti, and vowed to run the equivalent distance no matter how long it would take. We put $1 in a savings account for every 1 mile that we’d run, and now we’ve got a sweet little nugget of change to ACTUALLY get us to Tahiti. Because we ran there. So it’s like we’re there. Get it? Running to Tahiti?

We reached the shores of Tahiti somewhere around mile 10 of our first marathon. How sweet is that? I tell you what. I had quite the little burst of energy for several miles after that fact dawned me. The burst of energy came only after I stopped crying from joy of course.

The perfect words elude me once again. It’s best I just blurt out these announcements because my mind is just mushy joy right now and can’t formulate thoughts. Just feelings.

Pride, joy, relief, disbelief, awe, eagerness, electricity.

When I started this journey 4,109 miles seemed like, not an impossible distance, but quite a distant one. The number is just so big. Like saving for a mortgage, you never really feel like that extra $100 you put in your account from your paycheck every month is going to amount to what you need but somehow, day after day, month after month, you just keep doing it and slowly it does. Little tiny efforts don’t feel in the immediate sense like they can ever amount to much, but if you wake up every day with renewed commitment and HOPE… If you believe in what you’re doing… You get what I’m saying here, the whole Rome wasn’t built in a day thing. But really think about that! I don’t like the Rome analogy actually. It’s too elaborate, tangled up in complex political systems and evil emperors. There are too many people involved in that metaphor. It took too many people to build Rome. Personal achievement requires a more solitary comparison. A single steady force chipping away at a rock. Something much more simple. It’s like… the Grand Canyon. Sweet, smooth, steady water trickling trickling then rushing and gushing over a loooooong time. Water, when combined with persistence, did THAT.

The-Beautiful-Grand-Canyon-by-Michael-Matti

Constant. Steadfast. Relentless. Most of all, patient. That water didn’t wake up one day and obsess about carving the Grand Canyon by dusk. It just thought about finding a way downstream. Ok it didn’t think at all. It’s water. You get me though. We knew we wanted to get to Tahiti but the day we started tracking miles we just went on a run. Probably 3 miles. Then the next day we ran again. I know, it’s so simple. I’m sounding so prosaic. I told you I wasn’t equipped to talk about it yet. I’m really not. But I just want to tell you this one more thing. I’m going to sound like Bill Murray at the end of Scrooged but here goes.

Whatever it is you want in this world, if you really truly want it then you were meant to find it. If your heart truly dreams of something, you CAN have it and you should. I used to think it didn’t make sense for EVERYONE to fulfill their dreams because the world just isn’t set up for it. Some of us have to work the jobs that others don’t want to work. Some of us have to pick up the trash and flip the burgers and crunch the numbers. Some of us have to be unhappy. I was wrong though. I believe we all have a story to tell, a destiny. Maybe your destiny IS crunching numbers or flipping burgers. You have to listen very closely to your heart to find out. To find your purpose in it and your accompanying joy. It may be hard to hear, but listen more closely. We all were meant to tell a story. To be a PART of a story, a big story. Something is whispering directions to us. Listen and follow. Trust it. You can do whatever you want to do in this life and you can be whatever you want to be. It WILL NOT BE EASY. I can guarantee you that. It won’t always be pretty and you won’t always be happy. Sometimes the universe will appear to conspire against you. It’s not. It’s actually helping. I don’t know what those hard parts are really. Tests? Helping hands designed as obstacles? Maybe something more mysterious. I don’t know. I just know that you can do it. Be patient. Work hard. Don’t give up. Believe in yourself. Lord knows I’m not quite sure what my personal legend is yet, but I know this has been part of it. I feel that Brad and I achieved something huge together and now there’s an omniscient voice in this cosmic video game saying to us Congratulations, you may proceed to the next level.

So there you have it. Mental blogger mush, this post is, but I had to get it out. I didn’t want to let another day pass without announcing to my dear patient readers that we made it. 4,109 miles.

WE MADE IT!!!

agents-of-shield-tahiti-its-a-magical-place

moon rocks

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No Time Like the Pressure

Whenever I talk to my husband about something I need to do, the conversation usually veers towards me finding a way to procrastinate. “Oh I’ll do it tomorrow,” “I’ll call them tonight,” “We’ll deal with it later.” This came up time and again throughout the wedding planning process. We’d talk about a vendor we needed to contact and I would say, “Ok we’ll call them tomorrow” and Brad would reply “How about right now?” He would almost always follow this up with the quip “No time like the pressure.”

Isn’t that so true? Obviously we’ve seen ‘No Time Like the Present’ plastered across multiple self-help platforms, but I love Brad’s little adjustment. Because the present is very beautiful, there’s nothing like it, I appreciate it, but the present is in fact accompanied by pressure where dreams are concerned. The present is lovely, but pressure is active. Do things right now.

This morning I ran 5 miles along the Venice Boardwalk; a route that takes me past my dream house. My ABSOLUTE DREAM HOUSE! I love it so much. It is everything that I am. It’s a two story craftsmen right along the beach, accented with a sort of Indiana Jones adventure vibe. Jungle flora fills the yard (there’s a yard!) complete with yeti-like footprints through the grass. Tiki torches and palm trees line the house. But it’s classy. It’s beach, mountain, adventure all wrapped up into one house. It is MY house. Today as we ran past we noticed the house had a For Sale sign out front. You’ve gotta be kidding me. It’s for sale! Damn! It is actually possible to purchase this house… if only I were someone else. After all it’s only 10 million dollars. Now, the point of this story is not that my life’s goal is to obtain a ton of money and a big house. Sometimes I wish that was my life’s goal because it would probably be easier, but it’s not. This house represents something and today that For Sale sign brought everything into focus. The house is a dream. I’ve run, walked, or biked past it repeatedly throughout the years and every time would dream to myself “one day…” with a sigh. “One day” is so safe. Kind of like saying “we’ll call them tomorrow.” This morning the universe gave me a gut check. It said, here you go, and I wasn’t ready. You have no idea when opportunity will present itself to you but one thing is for sure, you can be ready.

The truth is I will most likely never live in that house. No matter what I do I will most likely never be financially successful enough to justify the purchase of a two-story double-plot dream house along the sand in Venice Beach. So that will probably always be a dream, and that’s ok because I don’t actually believe that things like dream houses would make me happy. BUT, as far as metaphors go, message received loud and clear. Thanks universe. There’s a lot of other stuff I dream about that I’m realizing I’m not ready for. Real stuff that I could actually have.

Like babies.

I think I want babies. I’m not positive but I’m pretty positive. When you get married it’s funny that you do start to think about things like that in a more realistic way. At least I do. I fantasize about a growing family. No matter whether we end up childless (save two furry faced kitties), Brad will always be my family. I love our little family of four (the kitties of course), but I won’t deny that I dream about reading to my kids before bed, and trips to Disneyland with offspring, and Halloween costumes, and seeing Brad teach our kids how to snorkel, and rubbing the backs of babes with upset tummies, and bake sales, and soccer games, and all that jazz. It sounds appealing to me as a dream. Like a house I can’t afford. Just like my bank account prohibits me from purchasing that house, my emotional account is not ready for an extended family. I don’t know what’s going to happen to our finances. I hope they improve but who knows. However, if I feel like I’m really living the life I was meant to live, if I’m telling MY story, then I think I could be ready to help a little one into the world to tell his too. But I have to get my story ready first.

The past couple of years I’ve had a realigning of my personal priorities. If you’ve been reading my blog then you know I’ve become rather disillusioned with the industry of acting. Although I still do it, and I still love it, I don’t feel compelled to throw my heart and soul into “making it.” It would be nice if it was just, y’know, handed to me. That’s not how life works for most people. You have to work for your dreams and if they are the right dreams the work will pay off. Not sure acting is the right dream. I still struggle with this, and my split focus has me a bit paralyzed and discombobulated. What do I throw myself into? Whimsy Do? Acting? Writing? Or should I work my way up the ladder of non-profit administration? It’s important to have many interests but dangerous to attempt pursuit of them all at once. Success requires focus, so what should I focus on? I try to listen to the little God voice in my head about this and still she whispers to me about writing. She doesn’t seem to denounce the others, but writing sings a little louder in my heart.

So today I finished a story. It’s one I’ve been working on since my friend Scott McKinley passed away and although I have dozens of story ideas and rough sketches for manuscripts, this is the first one that feels really incredibly close to finished.

So there you have it. I wrote. And I feel a little bit more ready to buy that dream house, metaphorically speaking.

I leave you with this article I read on Huffington Post this morning. It’s a good-bye letter from a woman who died two days ago. She asked that the article be published posthumously. How odd to read the words of a ghost.

It basically broke my heart and lit my fire. There really is no time like the pressure you guys. Between my dream house being on the market and the words of this dearly departed writer, the message is clear. Let’s love each other, love life, “Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it.” Go get that house.

No time like the pressure.

Where we'll one day drink our morning coffee from the roof of our dream house. *le sigh*

Where Brad and I will one day drink our morning coffee, watching the dolphins play in the surf… *le sigh*

2014: The Year I Slay the Dragon

As much as I await and adore Halloween, as much as I relish and savor Thanksgiving, as much as I swoon and smile for Christmas, this particular portion of our 365 trip around the sun just might be my favorite. The potential, the ambition, the planning, the hope. A New Year. I’m reminded of my favorite quote from musical theatre:

“White. A blank page or canvas. His favorite. So many possibilities.” – Sunday in the Park with George

This is everything.  A clean slate. Potential energy. An annual invitation to become the person you were destined to be. If you missed the party last year, the New Year’s Fairy doesn’t care how many times you decline, the invitation arrives again and this time you RSVP. This year, 2014, I plan to attend that party. I am especially energized.

Maybe it’s because I say goodbye to my 20’s this year. Maybe it’s because I get married this year. These two rather significant rites of passage have me at once mourning a chapter of my life coming to an end: my roaring 20’s, my life as a bachelorette; and yet prepared to say goodbye as I embark upon richer seas. I look forward to the added accountability that comes with being thirty-something. I look forward to being taken a bit more seriously. I can’t wait to be someone’s wife. To have my own beloved. A guaranteed partner in life’s adventures. Brad and I have been together for 6 years and the past few of those years have felt pretty darn close to marriage, but they weren’t. It’s different. This is a topic for an entirely different post, but through being engaged and planning a wedding I’ve discovered that the piece of paper matters.

I want to be more truthful this year. I want to write more truthfully. I need to get at the heart of myself. This blog helps with that. I appreciate Facebook in that I get to stay in touch with people I care about who I otherwise wouldn’t connect with for months at a time due to geographical realities and my fear of the telephone. I also appreciate that it gives everyone the opportunity to project the ideal version of themselves out into the ether; but we must remember that it is just that: a version. Life is at times messy, complicated, and painful. We all log on to Facebook and get the impression that everyone else we know is doing just fine, great actually, thriving. We’re comparing ourselves, warts and all, to everyone else’s highlights; and rest assured they are doing the same with us. I respect a place that allows us to create an ideal picture of ourselves. There’s value in that. But it’s the messiness and the pain that bonds us in empathy and compassion, and Facebook isn’t the place for that. This is why we need art. It’s not perfectly manicured and edited. It’s a truth, warts and all. I need more truth, from myself and others. I plan to immerse myself much more creatively this year and I plan to articulate my life, messy parts included, either here on this blog or in my own personal journal. It will be documented so years from now when my great great great grandchildren research the life of Rebecca Marie Sigl, they’ll see all the truth that was underneath that Facebook page.

In the past few years I have been dancing around a sleeping dragon which I alluded to previously. In 2013 that damned dragon woke up and it was fight or flight. I’ve been fighting. The battle isn’t won yet but I am pretty damn close to slaying that dragon. I apologize for speaking entirely in metaphors but details will come. Let’s just say the dragon is almost lost and I look forward to exploring the castle beyond. What riches might it hold?

2014 is going to be quite a party. How does one plan for such an event? With resolutions of course. They are the party dress we wear out into the world. The rate at which resolutions get thrown out the window by February 1st has many people poo-pooing the entire notion, but I for one am entirely pro-resolution. This year I take a different tack. In the past I’ve focused on one main goal but my sights are bigger now and I can’t repress them. I’m just so damned excited about the future that I’m going to set as many resolutions as I want and I’m going to kick their butts. Because I am taking 2014 by the horns, damnit, and I am going to mold it into the life that I want to live. And I’m going to start right now. So here they are, my myriad of resolutions for 2014. I plan on doing every single one of them. I’ll keep you posted.

  1. Be more creative
  2. Read 52 books in 52 weeks
  3. Paint monthly
  4. Take a drawing class
  5. Never leave dirty dishes in the sink
  6. Make bed every day
  7. Clean kitty box every day
  8. Purge unwanted clothes/things
  9. Run 4 times a week
  10. Write one new story a month
  11. Don’t give up on strength training
  12. “Do” my hair at least once a week
  13. Save money for the future, build up that nest egg
  14. Make my lunch for work 3 times a week
  15. Eat breakfast everyday
  16. Pay off credit cards
  17. Lose 15 pounds
  18. Be kind to everyone
  19. Say no to fear and anxiety
  20. Write in my blog at least once a week!
  21. Acting. Decide what I want to do about it.
  22. Be efficient at work.
  23. Reduce time-sucky Facebook usage
  24. Clutter clear and clean our apartment
  25. Run 4 half marathons
  26. Sign up for a full marathon
  27. Make one new Whimsy Do creation a week
  28. Get married
  29. Breathe
  30. Have faith…
Skiing in Colorado just one week ago. Cross that off the resolution list! Pretty sure I made that one when I was 12. Doesn't matter how long it takes, goal achieved.

Skiing into 2014 via Monarch Mountain in Colorado just one week ago. Cross that off the resolution list! Pretty sure I made that resolution when I was 12. Doesn’t matter how long it takes, goal achieved.

 

What are your new year’s resolutions. What is your outlook on the new year? Please share by commenting below.

Happy Places

I recently had a revelation while pondering what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve spent countless hours pondering that question when in fact I believe the answer has been staring me in the face.

Do you have places in the world that you would describe as your happy places? I do. And I don’t mean a metaphorical happy place wherein you imagine yourself surrounded by bluebirds as a warm light washes over you. No. I mean a real, tangible, physical, happy place. Places you go where, no matter what, you feel instant glee. Not just cool places. Not just places you enjoy or find fun or pleasant. Places that have something special. Places with a magical power to transplant you from the dullest of dolddrums to the utmost place of hope and contentment. I have some.

Libraries/Book stores

Sports supplies stores (especially running stores)

Craft and art supplies stores (Michael’s, Utrecht, even Home Depot fits into this category. Places where you can get stuff to build other stuff)

Disneyland

Museums/Observatories

The woods

Office supplies stores

The ocean

On my couch with my fiance and my cats

London

I would say that pretty much covers my happy places. I could get more specific (The Griffith Observatory, The American Museum of Natural History, Northern California redwoods, etc.), but these are the main categories. Kind of a weird hodge-podge wouldn’t you say? I’m kind of weird.

As I’ve been mulling over what I should do with the rest of my life, I can’t believe it took me so long to realize that my happy places might be providing me with an answer.

How did I come to this realization? I thought about the things I’m currently doing that I don’t make a living off of, but that I love doing, and I realized there is potential to make a living off of them if I put my mind to it. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I write this blog. I run. I go to Disneyland (ok so maybe there’s not potential to make a living off of going to Disneyland but I have a point, which I’ll get to shortly). A light bulb went off as I realized that these things directly correlated to my top happy places.

  1. I own and operate Whimsy Do. I’m instantly happy in art and/or craft supplies stores a la Utrecht or Michael’s.
  2. I write. I write this blog and I write stories. I’m instantly happy in a book store or library.
  3. I run. I’m instantly happy in a running store and on the running trail. My blog is also a running blog so 2 and 3 tie in together.

I’m creating, writing, running; but I’m not currently making a living off of any of these things. I could though. I could invest more time and energy into Whimsy Do. I could actually get my stories published. I could turn this blog into a source of income with the right strategy and determination. And here is how Disneyland ties in. Disneyland Half Marathon weekend is one of my ultimate happy places (and training starts this week!). I could work for runDisney. Running and Disneyland, two happy places combined. If runDisney ever starts up a California office, I’m there. I could, and I should, and I would. Somehow.

I know what you’re thinking. If you make what you love your job, you run the risk of not loving it as much. You might ruin it. What a sad thought. Think about what that means for a moment. That means we are not only willing to, but deliberately choose to do things we dislike for the majority of our waking lives (8+ hrs of every day!) because we’ve somehow bought into the notion that work = something to be tolerated. I say we change that presumption. I say it’s time for a paradigm shift. It’s time we spend the majority of our lives doing things that feel right in our bones. That feel meaningful and make us, yes, happy. And will we feel happy all of the time? Of course not. Will it sometimes feel like work, even though we supposedly love it? Of course. Anything worth doing is hard. Marriage, parenthood, career aspirations. All challenging. All worth it. Because there is meaning in the challenge. You think it’s easy to climb Mt. Everest? I guarantee you the people who do it aren’t doing it for the paycheck. Passion is hard, but there is a payoff that directly feeds into our core, our selfness, our most precious part of ourselves that generates love and spirit and hope and life. It’s the right kind of hard work. Most of us spend our lives doing the wrong kind of work. The kind that makes us stare at the clock until 5:00. The kind that makes us steal as many Facebook minutes as possible throughout the day. Anything to distract us from that paperwork, right? The kind that makes us live for the weekend. As if two days make up for the other lost 5.

So idealistic right? I know. It’s easy to talk about. It’s hard to do. There are bills. There are mortgages. There are children to send to college. There are debts to pay off. I hear ya. I’m in a version of that boat myself. But it doesn’t stop me from believing that it’s possible. It must be possible to honor our fiscal responsibilities while the work we do gives our life meaning. We just spend too much of our lives at work for that not to be possible. 33.33% of my life is spent sleeping, 33.33% of my life is spent working, and 33.33% of my life is mine to do with as I please. That tiny third also has to include laundry, cooking, cleaning, bill pay, errands, etc. It’s not enough. Life is too precious. I want more than a third of it with which to make a difference. I want more than a third of it with which to accomplish something magical and more importantly something meaningful. I want to love and not to regret more than a third of my life. I know it’s possible. Because I feel it happening. 4 years ago I left an office job I didn’t like and I turned my back on the restaurant business because they were sucking my soul. I took a leap of faith, and a week later I got a call to work for a non-profit that is changing lives. I have a great job. I don’t love it every day, and I don’t believe it’s where I’m meant to end up, but my days aren’t wasted. I’m grateful for that. And because I took that leap, the next stepping stones are becoming clearer and clearer.

If you’re lost, floating, drifting, unsure of what move to make next, first of all you’re not alone. Maybe think about a happy place. They really are quite neat. As if the universe gave them to us, as to whisper in our ear “This. Do more of this. You were born to do this.”

I’m genuinely curious. What are your happy places? Universities? Science labs? Boardrooms? Churches? Kitchens? Let Tahiti readers know by leaving your happy place in the comments below. Maybe you’ll inspire someone else!

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Mountains in the snow. Happy Place.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

Brad and I touring the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Happy happy.

20130420_163806

On our beach. Happy.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

The Los Angeles Public Library. Happy place.

Michael's (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Michael’s (especially at Halloween). Happy place.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can't you tell by our faces? Happy places.

Running the Disneyland Half Marathon. Can’t you tell by our faces? Happy places.

A Friday night with my boys. Completely perfect happy place.

A Friday night with my guys. Completely perfect happy place. Although Sharky doesn’t look too happy 🙂

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that's going to be one helluva happy place.

And of course, Tahiti. I have a feeling that’s going to be one helluva happy place.

RTT Book Club: Haruki Murakami’s “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running”

Welcome to the Running to Tahiti Book Club! I don’t intend to actually start a book club. I’m already trying my damnedest to get momentum going on a book club in the physical world. Lord knows I don’t have time to start one in the internet world. So I suppose this is more of a Book Corner. A corner of my blog dedicated to books pertaining to the journey of running. There are so many great ones out there! I will read them. Hopefully some of you will either have read them and start a dialogue in the comments section, or you will be so inspired by my brilliant reviews that you will dash out to the library and get a copy for yourself. I wrote about this idea several months ago, and I’m picking up the mantle, as I just finished one of the books on the list. 

I recently went through a literary drought. It was awful. The problem was, I started to read a book that, truth be told, did not captivate. I love the author so much that I couldn’t bring myself to quit the book. I felt I owed it to him to stick with it and give the book a chance to measure up to the author’s previous brilliant works. It never did; and it took me almost 6 months to finish! So awful. I just didn’t want to read, but I also didn’t want to start a new book until I finished the current one. Long story short, I finally finished this book that shall remain nameless, and breathed a huge sigh of relief. Finally I could get started on my running book list!

I decided to start the RTT Book Club (or corner) off with a bang and picked up a copy of What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. I have so many things to say about it, the most important being that it was fantastic and you should read it.

Murakami I believe Haruki Murakami might quickly become one of my favorite writers. I say “believe” and “might” because I’ve only read one of his novels, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and this memoir. His writing is whimsical, yet concise. His ideas are fantastical, yet stark. There is a sub-conscious to his writing; an underbelly like a nihilistic wonderland. I could not say that I “liked” The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, because I don’t particularly like to feel unsettled and morose; but it made me feel those things in such an understated, subtle, and inviting way that I felt compelled to investigate the darkness it welled up in me.

But this isn’t a review of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. I only give that back story so you have a little bit of an idea as to what kind of writer Murakami is. He’s not generally a first-person memoirist. Certainly not in the traditional sense.

Let me start you off with the biggest selling point. This book is short. I read it in one day. I believe it’s only 180 pages (not exactly sure of the printed count as I read it on my Kindle), and it’s a quick read to boot. 

Murakami is honest. He begins the book by stating that he doesn’t really know exactly what he wants to say or how it will manifest, but he feels compelled to write down his thoughts about running. Running has been a huge part of the author’s life for 30+ years and he feels he can’t really talk about himself without talking about running. How many runners out there feel this way? Raise your hand. Am I right?

If you’re looking for a time-lined account of the author’s life, this isn’t it. This is a lovely patchwork quilt of running anecdotes and musings on the greater implications of endurance sports. Murakami runs 6 days a week, usually 6 miles a pop. He has done so for decades. One of my favorite aspects of this book is how he illustrates his running discipline as an active metaphor for his accomplishments as a novelist. He points out how people always ask him, how does he keep up that running schedule when he gets so busy? His response is so simple and true, it hits me in the gut. He points out that if he used being busy as an excuse not to run, he would never run. He requires the same discipline as a writer. He has to write everyday. Even on the days he doesn’t feel like it. Even if he just sits in front of his computer and doesn’t type a thing. He has to sit there. He has to be present. He learned that discipline from long-distance running.

How many of us can relate to that? How many goals in my life could I substitute for running in that sentence? If I used being busy as an excuse not to paint, as an excuse not to write, as an excuse not to eat healthy, as an excuse not to be creative. If you let being “busy” get in the way, you will excuse yourself right out of living. It’s not a valid excuse. There will always be obstacles that get in the way of the things you love in life, the things you want to do. You have to jump over them, or run through them. Being disciplined enough to run everyday (or run to Tahiti) is not easy, and some days I don’t want to do it. But you must, and if you do, you will reap the jewel-encrusted rewards of your hard efforts some day. 

This is the kind of metaphorical-speak that Murakami does SO much better in his memoir than I am doing right now. I think the best thing about this memoir is that it’s not flowery. He’s so conservative and blunt with his prose. This book inspired me deeply, and yet is the farthest thing from self-help or motivational speaker type fare. It’s a practical no-nonsense love letter to the sport of running, and to the value of setting aside time for yourself to reflect and to make plans that will take you in the direction of your destiny.

Highlights of the memoir stick with me, like the time he ran a 62-mile ultra-marathon in the very northern tip of Japan. Imagine running for 12 hours straight! His experience was transcendental and not altogether inspirational. Another highlight was when he decided to run a solo marathon in the place where marathons were born, the road from Athens to the town of Marathon. We all dream of such a trip to “Mecca.” However, my favorite images from the memoir have to be his stories of running along the Charles River in Boston. A month ago I would have said that this was simply a personal treat; a nostalgic jog along the running path of the dirty dirty Charles that I frequented so often; but after what happened last month I think we could all appreciate his passages about running in historic Beantown. This book was published several years ago, long before runners had to worry about explosives going off during a race. Murakami resides in Boston when he’s in the states, and talks a great deal about the city and its running paths. He talks briefly about the Boston Marathon specifically and what a carrot it is for so many runners all over the world. I read this book very shortly after the Boston bombings and my heart broke to read his comments about what the marathon means to that city. It made me want to fly back there and run from the Boston Harbor all the way to Brookline, via Boylston Street, like I used to do 7 years ago. It’s a privilege to run in such a beautiful city. 

What I Talk About When I Talk About Running gets 5 out of 5 running sneakers. If you’re a long-distance runner, and if running means more to you than just exercise, if it’s a part of your DNA, your fabric, I highly recommend this book. I’ll finish by sharing a few of my favorite passages:

“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you think, ‘Man, this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The ‘hurt’ part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand anymore is up to the runner himself.”

“For me, running is both exercise and a metaphor. Running day after day, piling up the races, bit by bit I raise the bar, and by clearing each level I elevate myself. At least that’s why I’ve put in the effort day after day: to raise my own level. I’m no great runner, by any means. I’m at an ordinary – or perhaps more like mediocre – level. But that’s not the point. The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday. In long-distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.”

“So the fact that I’m me and no one else is one of my greatest assets.” 

“People sometimes sneer at those who run every day, claiming they’ll go to any length to live longer. But don’t think that’s the reason most people run. Most runners run not because they want to live longer, but because they want to live life to the fullest. If you’re going to while away the years, it’s far better to live them with clear goals and fully alive then in a fog, and I believe running helps you to do that. Exerting yourself to the fullest within your individual limits: that’s the essence of running, and a metaphor for life — and for me, for writing as whole. I believe many runners would agree”

“Of course it was painful, and there were times when, emotionally, I just wanted to chuck it all. But pain seems to be a precondition for this kind of sport. If pain weren’t involved, who in the world would ever go to the trouble of taking part in sports like the triathlon or the marathon, which demand such an investment of time and energy? It’s precisely because of the pain, precisely because we want to overcome that pain, that we can get the feeling, through this process, of really being alive–or at least a partial sense of it.”

“I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.”

murakamirunning1

the man himself

 

Have you read Murakami’s memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running? If so, share your thoughts in the comments below! Also feel free to share recommendations for the next book we should read in the RTT Book Club (or corner :))!

BIG announcement, like, big

Last weekend I watched my friend not only finish the L.A. Marathon, but kick it in the butt. Brad and I drove him to the starting line at 6:00 am. The sun continued to sleep soundly somewhere past the horizon while Dodgers Stadium overflowed with 20,000+ eager and excited runners. As we pulled into the drop-off area, inspiration filled my lungs. I couldn’t believe not only how many people took on the challenge of running a marathon, but how many of them were in the same physical condition (and maybe even a bit worse) than me. I couldn’t help but excitedly think if they could do this, I could do this. And I can.

With no further ado I have an announcement to make. I will run a marathon in 2015.

In case you weren’t sure, that’s 26.2 miles.

I’ve been toying with the idea since about one week after I finished my first half marathon. Immediately after finishing I thought that running that distance twice in a row sounded like the most insane idea I’d ever heard of, and I couldn’t believe ANYone actually did it. But it only took about a week to forget the pain before I started thinking not only of running another half as soon as possible, but entertaining the notion of greater challenges. I imagine it’s a bit like having children. During childbirth and immediately after I think most women curse their spouse’s name and swear they’ll never do this again. Doesn’t take long before that cuddly little bundle wipes away the memory of the pain and you start prepping another baby’s room. So yes, I’ve been thinking about it for years, (the marathon thing, not the baby thing) and I’m done thinking. The only way I’m going to find out if I can actually do it, is to just frickin’ do it.

So I’m going to do it.

Why wait until 2015 you ask? Well I’ve got this little thing called a wedding to plan. Brad and I are getting hitched in July 2014 (BRAD AND I ARE GETTING HITCHED JULY 2014!!!!!) and I don’t need to add to the stress of wedding planning by trying to squeeze in 15 mile runs on the weekends. 2014 is the year ‘o’ love. As soon as we get back from our honeymoon, let the training begin.

The goal right now (and I hope I hope I hope I can make it work) is to run the Walt Disney World Marathon. We’re talking about a marathon people. My FIRST marathon. It’s a big deal. You want your first time to be special, y’know? Whether or not we’ll have enough money leftover to fly to Florida for a running vacay after saving for a wedding and honeymoon remains to be seen. If it doesn’t happen, then it’ll either be the LA Marathon or the California International Marathon that takes my marathon V-Card.

So there you have it! You heard it here first. Accountability officially in print on Running to Tahiti.

I will run a marathon.

special idiots run marathon copy

new year, new RUNNING goals

Hello there faithful readers! Been awhile. I need to force myself to get back into the habit of writing more often because when I don’t, I miss it, and I feel all ooky and empty inside. Just like anything else it takes discipline to sit down and write everyday which is exactly what writers need to do if they are serious about their craft. I guess I just haven’t been feeling particularly inspired lately. The antidote to that problem is certainly not to spend hours in excess on social media while ingesting multiple episodes of The Walking Dead, although if you guessed my logic to curing writer’s block based on recent behavior, you may think so. Nope, the couch is a killer to creativity and I’m getting off of it. Today I want to talk about the opposite of laziness that is currently permeating the running community. Goal setting time!

The start of a new year brings a wave of eagerness and optimism. We runners sit down and set our running and racing goals for the year with enthusiasm and gusto. We reflect on goals missed and/or met in the previous year and make plans to either exceed those goals or to do better to accomplish them. It’s a time of high expectations and while it may be easy to write down in a journal that “I’m going to run 15 miles per week,” the reality sets in quickly that it’s far more difficult to actually accomplish. So how do we avoid this trap? How do we not only make running goals for the year but take action to meet them? Some runners simply have the discipline needed to do exactly that. They say they’re going to do something and they do it. I need more accountability or the couch and my favorite television shows slowly but surely suck me in to their grasp. May I offer my favorite tool for accountability as a tip to all you runners starting off the new year with a long list of goals? Sign up for a race. And one that happens soon.

Ideally I would have posted about this a few months ago and advised you to sign up for a race that happens in January. This is the first year I’ve done just that and man has it helped me to start the running year off right! Normally in January I’m slowly easing out of holiday mode and maybe getting in a few 3 mile runs a week if I’m lucky. This year I’m signed up for the Tinker Bell Half Marathon on January 20 and I need a lot more than 3 mile runs to get ready. Admittedly I’m behind on my training but I knew that coming into the New Year. I knew that I would need to make these three weeks before race day count. The challenge would be to put in enough miles to be ready for the race without injuring myself. So far, I’m kicking butt.

The reason I say either run a race in January or one that happens as soon as possible in the new year is because if you don’t, you’re not really avoiding the trap. Don’t get me wrong, taking that step to sign up for a race and challenge yourself is always a good thing but if the race isn’t until October then you’re not really lighting the fire under your butt to get out and run NOW. Don’t allow procrastination to present itself as an option. Immediacy is everything. Don’t get me wrong. I certainly don’t think you should sign up for a distance you’re not ready for. You can’t go from holiday slug to marathon runner in a month. If you’ve been sluggish the past few months, sign up for a 5k that happens in February. Not quite a slug but still emerging from a slow holiday pace? How about a 10k before March 1st? You know your limits and your abilities. The most important thing right now as we start the new year is just to get out there and run, and for me a countdown to a race that I’m excited about really holds me accountable to that.

There are other ways to hold yourself accountable if your bank account is a little dry after the holiday shopping season and those entry fees are just a bit too much. Why not get a running partner and schedule runs together? You’re more likely to get up out of bed when that alarm goes off at 6:00 am if your friend is waiting for you outside. There are many ways to creatively motivate yourself. The most important thing is to figure out how to make your running goals a priority. For me, accountability comes in the form of pixie dust.

I can state with almost certainty that I won’t be setting any PRs at the upcoming Tink Half. The relief is that I’m totally OK with that. This is another important New Year’s lesson. Not every race has to be a record-setter. Sometimes it’s more important just to finish than to finish first. That’s my goal for this Half Marathon. I want to have fun. I want to finish. I don’t care about my time. If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile you know that’s a strange thing for me to say. I’m just excited to get 2013 off to a running start! 🙂

Speaking of running at Disney, it’s an exciting time of year for we runDisney fans! Not only is the Tinker Bell Half Marathon coming up in just a week and a half, but bigger news is that the 20th Walt Disney World Marathon is happening this Sunday! I still haven’t found it in me to sign up for a marathon but I know that when I do I want my first to be the WDW Marathon. I love connecting with all of my runDisney pals on Twitter and it’s been very cool to see the feeds exploding in excitement for this weekend’s upcoming events. I’m thinking of all of you! Especially everyone running the Goofy Challenge. If you don’t know what this is, check it out: if you sign up for the Goofy Race and Half Challenge then you run the half marathon on Saturday AND the full marathon on Sunday. It’s called Goofy for a reason! Have fun out there and I can’t wait to read all of your race reports in the blogosphere!

One more bit of quick business about the upcoming Half Marathon. I need a costume. Now, it’s called the Tinker Bell Half Marathon so there is an obvious costume choice built right into the title. I’m certain there will be literally thousands of Tinker Bells running the race. My instinct is twofold. On the one hand I want to do something different to stand out from the crowd. On the other hand, HOW CAN I TURN DOWN AN OPPORTUNITY TO DRESS UP AS TINKER BELL? Yeah, I don’t care if I’m one in 10,000, I gotta dress up as Tinker Bell.

an afternoon in Neverland

an afternoon in Neverland