Friday, August 10, 2018

A Letter To My Younger Self

A LETTER TO MY YOUNGER SELF




Define yourself.  Worry less about what other people think.  Concern yourself with how you think.  You are your own worst critic anyway.  You will learn that you are stronger and far more capable than you ever thought you were.  

When asked to join the track team in high school, say yes.  You have no idea how deep your passion for running will be one day.  Some of your running achievements will be the best moments of your life. 

Don’t be afraid to enlist in the Army and serve your country.   Just because you don’t know how to work a washing machine yet doesn’t mean you can’t learn to become a heavy construction equipment operator. 

Go to college, and not just because mom said you had to.  Learn new things and grow.  You’ll later find you wouldn’t have gotten your job without this degree.  

Find a career that both excites and frightens you.  Something that keeps you on your toes every day.  Be thankful for your chance to serve your community. Work hard, it will pay off.  Keep the men and women in blue that served after you in your thoughts.  They put their lives on the line every day. 

You will kiss a lot of frogs, but one day you will find a prince.  The kind of guy that will buy a veteran lunch, hold open the door for ladies, and wave at dogs in the car next to you.  He will be the best thing that ever happened to you.  Remember this when you get mad.  

Love your animals with all your heart.  They aren’t always with us as long as we would hope, so cherish them every day.  Throw the ball, give them the extra cookie, let them sleep in bed, kiss and pet them every chance you get.  

Enjoy your friendships, but know that some may run their course.  You may lose touch with people you thought would be in your life forever.  Let go of toxic people, the ones that try to sabotage your life and your relationships. Don’t let them suck away your spirit.   There will be other people that will always be with you.  True friends that will go above and beyond any expectations.  Hold on to them as long as possible.  Those friendships are few and far between.

Embrace your body.  It will be thin and not so thin.  You will gain and lose weight many times over.   Your legs may be bigger than the next persons, but they will take you amazing places.  

Watch less TV and read more.  Although you didn’t like to read much when you were younger, it will be something you truly enjoy later in life.  

Save for the future but also live right now.  Don’t wait too long to travel and see the world.  Travel will add a whole new dimension on to your life. Fill your life with adventures and worry less about having things.  


Follow your heart.  You will need to make tough choices in life.If you know in your heart you are making the best decision, it will be the right one. 

Don’t be afraid to try new things.  You don’t have to be good at something to enjoy it.  Kayak in the ocean, jump out of an airplane, climb that mountain.  You’ll only regret the things you didn’t try.  It’s never too late to realize your dreams.

Spend more time outdoors.  Take the road less traveled, even if you get lost.  That is usually when we truly find ourselves.  


Laugh every chance you get, even if you are laughing at yourself.  Dance when your favorite song comes on.  Give hugs instead of handshakes.  Tell people you love them.  Remember that life is short.  Be happy and stop wasting your time on other things.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Be the Change: Blogging about Plogging

BE THE CHANGE:
BLOGGING ABOUT PLOGGING 

Last week my neighbor posted a video on Facebook.  It was about “Plogging.”  I’d never heard of the term but discovered it is a Swedish thing. It derived it’s name from “plocka upp” for picking up combined and the word jogging.   It started as a movement in 2016 and has spread to other countries.  I’m surprised it took this long for me to hear about it.  Apparently there is a similar movement in Tennessee called Trashercize.  
This post came at the perfect time for me because mother nature was kind enough to start melting off our snow and I was seeing nothing but litter along my running route. I run the same route often and I would think, “Why doesn’t they guy that lives here pick up this trash in front of his house?”  Well, maybe he doesn’t know it is there.  Or possibly it blew out of his neighbors trash bin.  But as I passed by on four out of following seven days last week, the trash remained in place. 
After a few days, I mentioned this to my husband.  He is used to my crazy ideas but he was actually quite happy about this one.  He was sick of seeing all the litter too.   I told him that for one week, I wanted to clean up as much litter as I could along my normal running and walking routes.  He thought it was a great idea and that he would help.  
Day 1: We took the dogs for a two mile walk along our normal route.  I took a kitchen sized trash bag with us.  I donned my rubber coated gardening gloves and he walked the two border collies while I “plocka upp” the neighborhood.  He would grab little things that didn’t look dirty as he wasn’t wearing gloves and I would pick up everything else.  I don’t think we were even two blocks from our house and the trash bag was already 1/4 full.  I picked up a ton of little alcohol and beer bottles along the path.  We live within a half mile of six stores that sell alcohol, it seems people feel they need to drink it and toss the bottle out the window along my street.  Thankfully, less of the packaging is glass these days. But we still see a fair share of broken bottles on the sidewalk, which I should mention is usually in front of the elementary school.  

Day 2: In the morning we headed out to walk the dogs.  I got to the end of my own driveway only to see a McDonald’s bag in the middle of my street.  Someone obviously tossed it out of their car window while driving by.  It was like a slap in the face, why would you possibly need to throw your fast food bag out on my street?  On our two mile walk,  I picked up more trash.  Apparently all the people in my area run out of cigarettes at the same time and toss their empty packages along my route.  And I’m not sure what all the tin foil is from either, hopefully it’s not drug related-but glad I’m wearing gloves to pick it up.  Later in the day I ran the dogs six miles.  I ran through a subdivision where the cheapest house is probably a million dollars.  I picked up an entire grocery store shopping bag of trash here.  I suppose they have have a crew of people that keep their property looking nice, but if so they aren’t doing a good job.  In the evening we went for another two mile walk with the dogs.  I filled up yet another kitchen sized garbage bag.  I found one syringe today, thankfully the cap was still on it.  I’ve also found a bunch of plastic bags on the side of my path filled with dog poop.  Honestly people.  Why bother putting it in a bag and leaving it?  You are actually making more litter by bagging it than if you left it alone.

Day 3: My glutes are pretty sore from all the squatting to pick up trash and my back is feeling the workout too.  But my dog Kirby needed a run to burn off some of her crazy.  On our five miles, we covered some of the same streets that I have previously cleaned up.  I was hoping it was starting to look clean, but three doors down from my house I found a water bottle on the sidewalk.  I took two plastic grocery store bags with me on this run.  I filled the first one on my way out and the second one on my way back.  I could have filled four more if I had them, but it gets hard to carry them and run.  I can manage two, but I probably look pretty silly running while I carry them running.  I stopped at home, dropped off the trash and traded Kirby for my other dog Zuzu.  We went out for two miles and I took two more bags with me.  I filled them up incredibly fast.  Nothing by energy drinks, beer cans, liquor bottles and such along this route.  There is no way this stuff is being dropped by accident or distributed by the wind from trash cans.  At one point I saw about 30 free newspapers left by a delivery person in front of a house that is for sale.  You’d think they’d get the hint that if they hadn’t picked up the last 20, you don’t need to keep leaving them.  I did not pick those up as I’d need an entire bag just for them.  By the way, if you’ve lost one glove in my area, its mate is in my trash can.  I think I’ve picked up a dozen single gloves.  

Day 4: My husband took the dogs out with us on a different two mile route.  I picked up an entire kitchen sized trash bag of the usual assortment of litter.  There again was an alarming amount of liquor bottles.  I also stopped at a vacant house that is close to mine and picked up all the newspapers and phone books (I can’t even believe they still print those things) that had accumulated in the past few months.  I’ve stuffed everything I’ve found so far into my own personal trash can and recycling bin.  I told my husband that the bin is so full that you couldn’t fit a fart in there.   


I have been thinking of a way to express how I feel about this project.  As I said my glutes are sore and it kind of was a pain in the butt to clean up after everyone else.  I won’t pick up trash on my runs every day in the future.  I will do my best to keep my neighborhood clean, while that effort may only be appreciated by my husband and myself. I’m not huge on quotes but I’ll toss this one out there.  Ghandi said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”  I just got fed up of running by the same trash every day.  I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t that guy pick it up?”  Well, if he wasn’t going to, I guess I had to be the change.  

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Why Do I Run?

Why Do I Run?




     If you ask why I run, I will ask you why you breathe. That sums it up for me, but sometimes people need more than that to really get it.

     I run to connect, with my friends and with my dogs and with random people I meet at races. 


     I also run for the solitude.  To be alone in my thoughts, or to not think.



     I run because I enjoy being outdoors.  I love the sun and the breeze, and at times the rain and snow.  But I don't really love the cold.  You lost me there.  



     I run for adventure.  To see new cities, states, back roads and forests all over the country.  And I also run because I like being a hamster on a wheel- running the streets near my home that I know like the back of my hand or the familiar six mile run around the lake at the metro park, that one time I ran 50 miles around.  

     I run to lose weight, but that never happens.  So, I run so I can enjoy pizza, burgers and beer.

     I run long distances because it is fun to do things I thought I could not do.  I run them again because I forgot how awful they were the first time.  There is magic in the misery.


     I run to burn the crazy off my border collies.  Wait, that isn’t possible.




     
     You want to know why I run?  I want to know why you don’t.  I won’t judge, acceptance is the key to happiness.  And I prefer to be delusionally optimistic that one day you will understand me.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lost

LOST


Winter in Michigan can be a trying time for runners.  There comes a point where you get tired of bragging about how cold it was when you ran.  The photos of the ice encrusted eyelashes stop being funny.  You just get sick of it and start losing your sense of humor with mother nature.  Right now, that is exactly where I am.  

My training plan for my next big race started at the end of January. My first week of training was wonderful.  The temperatures were in the 50’s and all the snow was gone.  On my rest day I walked the dogs and fell on a patch of ice.  I banged up my knee and needed to take a few days off.  The next week we were treated to 14 inches of snow in under 24 hours.  I put on my Yaktrax (traction for your shoes) and took the dogs out trekking on the snow covered streets to log some miles.  White it was good time spend with my furry friends, I can’t say that I enjoyed the weather.  The following week I wound up at the doctors office to treat a sinus infection.  As an added bonus, the next week I started physical therapy to treat the lingering injury from my fall on the ice.  My mojo is hanging on by a thread.  I’m trying to salvage what is left.  I’ve googled the heck out of “losing my running mojo” and this is what I found.  

Here is the nonsense:
 Count miles, don’t count miles, challenge yourself or don’t put pressure on yourself.
 Run with friends. Run with faster ones or slower ones or just get new ones. 
 Eat better or run someplace to eat. 
 Run in a different place or different time of the day or just take a total break.
 Take a break or sign up for a different type of race or get a coach.

Here is what I did like:

Address stress and get better sleep- these two go hand in hand.  If anything causes me to lose sleep, it needs to be addressed the next day. 
Take an electronic sabbatical. These days we are so attached to our phones and Facebook that it is hard to be out of touch.  Turn off and tune into your life, even if only for the duration of your run.
Forget about comparisons and be happy with who you are and where you are. 
Embrace the five minute rule.  Get dressed for your run and get out there, even if just for five minutes.  If after five minutes you still aren’t feeling it, then go home.  But more times than not, you will get your groove back and keep running. 
Run someplace new.  Although I’ve run every street in my city, I’m sure I can still find new places.  New cities and new countries.  Heck, maybe I’ll just run to the moon. (just checking to see if anyone is reading this...)


It has been a while since I lost my running mojo.  It’s odd to think about that since last year at this time I couldn’t run at all and I was dealing with some serious running depression.  I know this is temporary and that once the weather turns my spirits will improve. But for now, I am slightly lost.  I am desperately hoping my next post is called “Found” 





Monday, December 25, 2017

Satan's Sidewalk

SATAN’S SIDEWALK



     After finishing up my latest project of running every street in my city, I was challenged to run 100 miles in my basement on my treadmill.   It was a virtual event that 41 people participated in nationwide.  All proceeds from entry fees would go directly to the Alzheimer’s Association.   The event was called the Dreadmill 48 Hour Endurance Challenge.  

     There was only two ways this could go. It was either going to be horrible or great.

     I thought with a generous 48 hour time limit I could certainly finish it, since I’d finished a few other 100 milers in less than 30 hours.  But little did I know that my trip down satan’s sidewalk would be way harder than I thought.  

     I made my basement into a deluxe aid station with everything I could possibly need.  My husband (also known as my Sherpa) crewed me via a walkie talkies.  If I needed anything extra, I just called him on the radio and he brought it to me.   

     Our basement tends to quite warm.  So we turned the heat down, opened up the windows and set up some fans.  I wore my Skirt Sports sleeveless tank top and Gym Girl Ultra Skirt in a pattern aptly named “Tantrum.”  Since I’d likely have one of those later in the day.  

     The first two hours went by quickly.  I ran and walked at intervals and watched the movie 13 Going On 30. Then Netflix started acting up and wouldn’t load my shows.  After 20 frustrating minutes, I finally got it going again and proceeded to watch the series Friends from the beginning.  

     During long distance events, I prefer to eat more solid food and less gels and energy chews.   I was able to keep fueled well with Tailwind drink, fruit, peanut butter on cinnamon raisin toast, salty and sweet snacks and a McDonald’s cheeseburger.  

     I had my runner’s high, but it only lasted for a half a mile. 

     By the marathon point, my feet started to feel really hot.  At the 50K mark I stopped and changed my shoes and socks to try to stop the heat from building up.  It never seemed to get any better and by 38.1 miles I knew my journey was at an end.  

     Everything else on my body felt fine and I was in great spirits.  But my feet would just not let me go on.  Every step I took I could feet the water in the blisters moving around, as if I was stepping on a gel pad.  I have run through some agonizing foot pain at the end of my 100 mile races, but I’ve never had blister problems like this so early on.  I would have liked to have pushed through the pain, but I have a marathon scheduled in South Carolina in three weeks and couldn’t chance that.  It will be a new state on my 50 state marathon quest (#40.)  The last time I attempted to go to a race in South Carolina, it was cancelled at the last minute do to a hurricane.

     The race director posted on Facebook that a lot of people dealt with blister problems like never before.  A friend told me that there is a lot more friction on your feet when you run on a treadmill, and even more when you walk.  I guess that explains some of what went wrong.  My husband thought that the motor on the treadmill may have given off some heat too.  Regardless of the event, I could not go so far that it would take me a month to recover from foot injury.

     Even thought I didn’t finish the event, I was glad to have challenged myself to try something crazy and different. I got in a good long run, made a donation to a good cause and the next time I need to run on a treadmill - it should seem far easier.  Would I try this event again?  You bet!



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

I Run This Town (Part 9: Week 22) The Final Chapter

I Run This Town (Part 8: Week 22)
The Final Chapter

Week 22: November 25-December 4, 2017 (slightly longer than a week)
     I typically check the weather before I head out on a run.  I like to be prepared and have the right clothing to keep me warm and dry.  Today, the weatherman played a cruel joke on me.  There was no rain on the radar. Fifteen minutes into my run, I saw a very dark sky to the west.  I wasn’t too far from my car, so I sought cover there until it passed.   Heavy rain and hail started. I laughed when I saw the radar on my phone, the only bad weather in the city was where I was currently.  




     On my next run, I kept seeing random clothing items scattered next to the curb.  First I saw two winter hats, then a sock, a few blocks later I saw a pair of socks and a shirt.  I was afraid eventually I’d run into a naked person, but thankfully that never happened.  

     On my way home I stopped to run streets that were not yet on the map.  I had run past these areas months back and noted that new subdivisions were being built but the roads weren’t poured yet.  Since I’m nearing the end of the project, I needed to check these streets off.  

     I used a pink highlighter on my map when my dogs came with me.  They ran quite a bit of the city with me. I’d guess they ran at least 25% of it.  Kirby came with me today.   She loves to pick up sticks and run with them.  She doesn’t care if it is a three inch stick or a three foot stick.  A few times she’s grabbed small tree limbs and dragged them with us a few feet.  




     I spoke with the mayor tonight, he accidentally called me while he was getting his haircut.  We will finish the project on Monday and he’s bringing a camera crew.

     This week I had a phone interview with a local paper.  The article was printed on the front page, which I shared with the other headline about Santa accepting Christmas wish lists and where to deliver them.  I’m beyond flattered. I’m sure my mom will put the article on her fridge and it will be there for years.  The paper also gave information on how to find this blog.  I’m sure I’ll gain tens of fans from it.  


     I was thinking I’d be finishing the project in the snow, but all I’ve seen lately is rain.  The light mist turned to a downpour as I ran today.  I found eleven cents, a nativity scene that substituted a gazebo for a manger and a street sign with my name on it. 





     On the way home I stopped to run another new subdivision that was not yet on the map.  The street doesn’t have a sign up yet.  There were no houses built yet, but it was cool to see it all progressing over the past few months.  There was a house up on blocks here that had recently been moved to make room for this new subdivision.  Some construction guys sat in their trucks watching me run down their practically deserted area in a downpour.  

     It’s hard to believe that the final day is here.  My friend Dani decorated my car with streamers, paper flowers and window paint.  Mayor Bryan Barnett brought a film crew with him.  My friends Geneva and Lori came out to run in the last four miles with us.  The mayor interviewed me on camera before we started my last run on this journey.




     My last few streets to run are dirt, but don’t let that fool you.  This area has some of the largest homes in the city.  Lucky for me, the mayor knows all the details.

     We passed a house and the mayor told us that it was one of the largest homes in the city. It was massive.  The taxes alone for that house in 2017 were $132,539.  It has been used in several films, The mayor told me that the previous owner of this house was the person that brought the UPC Code into mainstream use.


     A half mile north of here (but not in my city) you can see Eminem’s former home.  It’s 17,500 square foot. He bought it for almost $5,000,000, and sold it last month for nearly $2,000,000.  I drove by it a few weeks back, but you can’t see much through the front gates.  The new owners were leaving when I drove past and I think it freaked them out that I was looking at their house.  But if you bought the house previously owned by Eminem, you have to be expecting people to drive by and look now and again.  

     The final run is hilly, but since we know the film crew is out we run up all the hills.  One of the dead end streets we ran down was probably the prettiest street in the city.  It is loaded with tall pine trees on both sides and it makes you feel like you are in a forest.  At the end of the street the mayor showed me a house where the previous owner used to have a pet lion.   These little bits of information he is sharing makes me wish he was with me the entire time I ran this town.  

     We turn into another dead end street and it is a gated subdivision.  The gate is open.  I said to the mayor, “Thankfully the gate was open, or you’d have to go get your keys to the city so we could get in.”  Our four mile run lasted around forty minutes but it felt like it went by way faster than that.  We had fun getting to know each other and sharing laughs.  There is something about running with someone, sort of a bonding experience.  I’m glad he joined me for the last leg of my journey.  

     We ran the dirt road through the historic district.  It was the last mile and it was the fastest for the today.  I like to say when I see the finish line, “I can smell the hay in the barn.”  Kind of ironic since we were ending at Van Hoosen Farm.  





     At the finish, my coworkers Melanie and Anne-Marie strung crepe paper across my path so I could break it as if I was the winner of a race.  My best friend Ronda (who is a puppy raiser for Leader Dog For the Blind) came with her new puppy, Pawnee. The one and only Slow Joe Burns brought donuts and cider from a local cider mill.  It was so wonderful to have these people there to share in my joy at the finish line.  Thanks to you all for making my finish so special.  


      I used my blue highlighter to color in the streets we ran today and now I’m finished.  Twenty-two weeks and nearly 500 miles of running.  



Weekly stats:  28.65 miles 
Total miles since start: 493.2 miles
Square miles completed: 32.91
Square miles left: Zero!

     The video produced by the mayor’s camera crew can be see on youtube.com.  You can view it by clocking on the link below:


     (I also posted it on the blog, it is the post just before this one.  It is called, “Sandy Stiner Runs This Town.”  It was published on December 4, 2017. )

     Since the video has been released, I’ve heard from a lot of people that are going to do their own “I Run This Town” project.  Nothing feels better than inspiring others.  


     Now that we are at the end I’d like to take a minute to thank a few people that made this possible.  First, Heather Croy, who ran every street in Royal Oak a few years back and gave me the idea.  Secondly, my husband who should have thought I was crazy to do this.  Instead he dropped me off and followed me in high traffic areas, ran or biked with me in areas he didn’t want me to run alone, and supported me in every possible way.  Third, by border collies.  Kirby and Zuzu, my best buddies on this journey.  Zuzu even saved me from being attacked by two dogs.  



     Special thanks to the companies that I am an ambassador for: Skirt Sports, Feetures! Socks, ChafeX and AfterShokz Headphones.  You all kept me fashionable, safe and comfortable during this endeavor.  Also thanks to my friends at Clint Verran Physical Therapy for getting me back to running so I could do this! (Amazing last year at this time I couldn’t stand without a walker.  And last but certainly not least, Bryan Barnett.  The mayor of my town, the guy who at first thought when he saw that I called this “I Run This Town,” that I was planning to run against him for mayor.