Just like every New Year's Eve, this year I had a long list of "resolutions" which included stuff like
- Find the good in everyone
- Take a picture a day of something that makes me happy
- Blog once a week about what I love about my job
- Race once a month in costume
I was going to be so Pollyanna optimistic and happy and never have a moment of anger or frustration or irritation about petty things that really didn't matter.
Well that didn't work. I think it was 5 minutes into the New Year when I had my first pissy conversation with a woman I didn't know at the party I was at about something totally inconsequential. As for blogging about what I love about my job (a resolution that got me in the company newsletter, by the way)... I feel like the Universe (or whoever it is that holds you accountable for resolutions) is testing me or something. I have had more work stress in the past couple of weeks than I've had in the whole previous year! OK, so I'm not Pollyanna after all.
But, if the first 18 days of the year were not exactly as planned, the Universe is making up for it by giving me the perfect January weekend in Phoenix, Arizona.
I bought the tickets last Fall... "Winter getaway to Phoenix" is a "regular" on my resolution list, but I also have a long list of reasons why it rarely happens. Well this year, the stars were aligned and there was a cheap flight that would get me here for MLK weekend -- the same weekend as the Rock'n'Roll marathon / half-marathon / (and this year, the one I ran) "mini-marathon."
Just the fact that they're having a mini-marathon (5.4 miles) was pure luck. I don't think they've done that before and I'm in no shape to run any farther than that... in fact, I haven't been training at all. But I'm trying to make this year's running more about having a "good time" as in "fun" rather than "speed." Even running 5.4 miles isn't usually "fun," but it's more "fun" than running 13.1 or 26.2, and I still get all the other perks like the pre-race expo, post-race party, bands, swag, and of-course racy atmosphere.. full of excited, sweaty, in-shape runners. Another big bene of the mini-marathon is that it was only $40, as opposed to the $100+ price tag for the longer races. So I get all the "good stuff" (party, etc) for less than half the bad stuff (running) and at a much better price. I don't want to call anyone a sucker here (after all, those longer distance runners do have bragging rights and are in better shape) but the cheapskate in me is definitely celebrating the mini-marathon option.
OK, next there was the problem of going alone. Bonnie, my neighbor and running partner, surprisingly has been "all in" on the idea of racing once a month in costume. However, she was not keen about flying to Phoenix only to run 5.4 miles. (She apparently doesn't have the same logical mind as I do in thinking that races are about getting the most fun for the least pain.) (By the way, we did run the Quicker Quaker 5K in our "oatmeal" costumes last weekend in eight degree weather. Hence, I am revising my resolution to "Run 12 races in costume" and I'd just like to note to the resolution-accountability-Gods that I am ahead of schedule with two down in January.)
Going to a race alone definitely can put a damper on the "fun factor." In fact, traveling alone is not something I normally do. But, now in this new empty nest phase of my life, I'm finding there can be an exciting freedom in starting out an adventure alone and finding out who you meet along the way. So rather than the usual frenzied attempt to try and find someone to go with me, I decided to see how a short trip alone would work out.
I did, however, check OKCupid to see if I might possibly find someone who would be willing to meet me for lunch or dinner while I was out in Phoenix. My search revealed someone with a picture from 2011's Rock'n'Roll Half-Marathon, so I sent him an email and found out that he was indeed running again in 2013. Not only would he go with me to the race, he said he'd be happy to go to the expo with me, show me around Phoenix and take me to dinner! Jim was like my fairy Godfather! Handsome and gentlemanly he couldn't have been more perfect. Neither of us was looking for romance, so there were no expectations in that department, and instead an easy friendship immediately developed. If only all my online dates could be so easy. I suppose the "safety" of knowing there were no expectations made a big difference. And it was great having someone else to share the fun of a big race and the post-race feeling of accomplishment.
It turned out I ran at a much faster pace and finished stronger than I ever would have imagined! This low altitude really makes a difference. Or maybe, again, it was the lack of any expectations for a fast race that gave me such energy. Yeah, I felt a little like a cheater for only running 5.4 miles, but Wow! It was really a good 5.4 miles. Lots of people commented on my cool rock-n-roll sunglasses and sparkly top. Even though it wasn't a super-creative costume, it definitely added to the fun-factor and has motivated me to keep up the effort of finding theme-related accessories for future races.
I still have another day here in Phoenix. The weather has been absolutely, positively perfect -- Highs in the mid 70's. I was out at the pool yesterday soaking in the sunshine. They say this is unusual, even for Phoenix, so I lucked out again. I'm going out with a Realtor this morning to check out town homes Maybe some day I'll do the snowbird thing and spend my winters out here.
Tomorrow I will be back at work, trying again to stick with all my resolutions. I've come to realize that no matter how much I try to be happy and optimistic I'm going to have my ups and downs. Life will throw me curve balls and I'll get hurt or mad or stressed. But I know that just around the corner is that unexpected home run like I experienced this weekend, when all is right with the world.