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(Mis)Adventures in Public Transportation

(Found at the bus stop, and I have sooooo many questions.)

During this season where we save money for a second car I’m using the public transportation to get to my classes. I had this idealistic and romantic ideation about it before attempting… I’ve had three days of misadventures.

Friday:
I left my house at 8:50 to walk half a mile to board the 9 am bus to head to the southern portion of the city for my 10:35 am class. This was seriously the shortest commute option allowing me to arrive early/on-time for class. I was so excited about the opportunity to sit quietly and read my book for the duration of my trip. Well… I didn’t get my hydration schedule correct and about 20 minutes into the trip desperately needed a restroom stop. Oops. This led to feeling overheated and I almost felt nauseous. Well darn. So I did a lot of looking out the window and praying. Switched to the train and then had a half mile walk to the club. Fast-forward to the last five minutes of class and the power went out… nbd I thought. Until… I arrived at the train platform and realized power was out for a huge portion of the city. This meant no trains. At all. Thankfully Twitter conversations with RTD employees kept us posted about the possibility of a shuttle rescue. And I made friends with a momma when I gave her a lara bar to share with her hungry kiddos. I waited on the train platform for 1.5 hours before Jeremy rescued me. We took a detour to Costco since it was convenient and we arrived home somewhere in the 3:30-4:00 range because of our stop. So actual total commute time… unknown. But I’m guessing it will be at least four hours total travel time.

Tuesday:
For today’s commute I decided to carry my external battery pack so I could listen to podcasts on the ride in case of motion sickness- brilliant. I left my house at 9:17 am and walked half a mile to the bus stop to catch a 9:30 bus and everything went smoothly until… I couldn’t figure out how to let the bus driver know which stop I needed! Ugh. Missed my stop and ended up with a mile walk to get to the gym instead. Oops. This commute was made especially possible because the best arrival option for my 11 am class was 10:25 if I had figured out my stop appropriately. Since I didn’t I had all the time I needed to walk the mile route and arrive on-time/early. But seriously going forward I will be arriving 35 minutes early because that’s the best commuting option. Finished class, and snacked on some jerky as I walked half a mile to the train stop to realize I’d just missed the earlier train and would now have a 20 minute wait for the next one right next to the highway with all the noise and blowing debris kicked up by the cars. Gross and loud. The transfer to a bus went smoothly and was uneventful all the way home… by 1:15pm. Three hours of commute time for a one hour class.

Wednesday:
I again chose podcasts as my form of entertainment and this was again a good idea. I left my house by 11:40 am to catch a 11:49 bus… it never showed (or maybe it arrived at this stop early so I was SOL in spite of being there more than five minutes early). I looked on the live update system and realized that the next arriving bus would make me late to the train and thus late to class so I ended up running .75 miles to get to the train and arrived with one minute to spare. Nothing like climbing onto an air conditioned train when you’re literally a hot mess from having run in 90 degree weather carrying your pilates mat and a water bottle. Transferred to the free mall ride and then arrived to class on time/early. Whew. For my ride home I had two bus options I could use based on which one arrived first- so convenient. The ride home was uneventful and I made it inside by 2:40 pm. Two hours of commute time for a one hour class.

Y’all. Y’ALL. This public transportation stuff is not for the faint of heart! It’s wildly inconvenient, horribly inconsistent, horribly run and utterly confusing. I am a well-educated, intelligent, savvy individual and I’m finding that it’s HARD to use public transportation.

All of my commutes have me on the bus/train etc during normal ‘lunch times’ so I’m going to be navigating easy to eat, transportable meals that I can eat quickly while waiting on my bus or train because I can’t eat or drink on the conveyance. Mildly inconvenient, but in and of itself a reasonable problem to solve. Added in to these other challenges and frankly… using public transportation is exhausting. My need for routine and schedule is showing.

Each of my travel days requires using different combinations of train and bus to get where I’m going. I’m in the process of getting a crash course of 3-5 bus routes and 2-4 train routes to successfully get to and from where I need to go and arriving on time (but not insanely early when it can be avoided). I’ve learned that a variety of stops and transfers are also necessary to my commute. There’s this constant alertness required rather than a peaceful zone-out. My need for control is showing.

Also, people are gross. There was trash left at every stop in spite of multiple trash receptacles. Multiple pieces of trash left on conveyances… And then there’s the unwashed bodies, smokers, legal and illegal substance aromas and exhaust smells. My introversion is showing.

My privilege is showing.

I was hoping to be able to convey these things in a humorous way, but I’m finding it’s striking all these empathy cords in me for people who only have this option for transportation. There were people stranded on Friday that were seriously stranded until the train started again or a shuttle was provided. And RTD was giving NO ETAs on either option.

I knew that at any moment I could call a Lyft/Uber etc and get home. But I really wasn’t in a hurry and knew that if Jeremy needed to rescue me we could turn it into a moderately convenient run to the grocery store. He’d have to drive 20+ minutes out of his way to get to me, but we could redeem the trip. There were people there that didn’t have this option.

And today, again, if necessary I could have requested a Lyft/Uber to get downtown, but dang it. I really want this system to work. I want the peaceful commute where I read or listen to a podcast while someone else transports me. I’m just finding there’s a bit more angst in my heart over how this is going than originally anticipated. And I’m finding that it’s a much harder system for people to rely on than originally anticipated.

How do people who rely on public transportation systems out of necessity full time survive? Maybe no one else is using as many combinations of buses and trains? Or maybe it’s only Denver’s system that is this bad?

Basically my newest part-time hobby is commuting to my pilates classes. And a season of growth that I wasn’t expecting. Please Lord Jesus can we have a second car soon?

Waves of Grief

Recently I encountered words spoken over someone that were cruel and unkind and it made me miss and long for my mother-in-love. I deeply miss Hope’s sweet words and kind encouragement.

Can we all just speak life into the lives of people around us? Can we just encourage each other and build each other up and be kind? And if we’re not there yet, can we just be silent? Words are so powerful. So. Powerful.

#ridingthewavesofgrief #missingHopefiercely

Preparation for Richmond Half Marathon 2016

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In August of 2014 I realized there was something not right with my left knee. I received a tentative diagnosis of Patella Femoral Pain Syndrome and some exercises to try to relieve symptoms. At this point I was about eight weeks out from the Richmond Half Marathon…

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Rewind to 2010 when I ran the Richmond Marathon and it was the worst race of my life…

Fast forward to the Dismal Swamp Stomp 2012 with a half marathon PR…

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And then let’s resume our story in 2014… with the fact that a huge group of my running partners also signed up to run either the Half or the full Richmond Marathon and there were a lot of feels about running this race in 2014.

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TL:DR I ran it. Not horribly, but not well. I’m sure I wrote a race report (the race report). After the race I took a month off running and went to a doctor. PFPS confirmed, dang it. I started PT and my journey to becoming a stronger more rounded runner began. I deferred my 2015 entry for the Half because when August of 2015 came around I was barely running three miles and walking 30 seconds after every six minutes of running and I was super slow.

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The summer of 2016 Jeremy and I signed up for the Half training team with Sports Backers. They provide a training plan, coaches, organized and supported long runs on Saturday (or Sunday). And a photographer almost every weekend. (YAY!) It’s seriously a great program. We signed up as novices in spite of the fact that we’ve both run half marathons and feel like we’re seasoned runners. The novice plan worked out very smoothly for us because it kept me grounded and moving cautiously through training.

I tried to run the plan but my body just wasn’t ready for it. They suggested three weekday runs with a long run on the weekend, by the fourth week I was running two weekday runs and the long. I did my walk/run routine on the weekday and ran the weekend runs straight through.

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I felt awful I wanted to die and quit running on the Saturdays where we ran our seven and eight mile runs. I mean rolling stomach, feeling weak, not able to move faster than a ten minute mile and just rough. I experimented a bit and realized my body and nutrition requirements have changed and I now have to eat before I run, at least runs longer than three (or six?) miles.

The eleven mile run almost knocked me out permanently because I was in pain for days after the run that following week. I had to rest and aggressively ice until Thursday so I ended up running only once and it went horribly. Turns out the eleven mile route was the only “hilly” route (for Richmond) and my knee just doesn’t like hills anymore.

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Fun experimenting note: I tried my HammerGel Montana Buckleberry on this (eleven mile) run. Note to self, cut a better starter slit in the package before the run. Trying to open that was a pain while running. Also, the way I had to take it to not freak out my stomach required that I carry water. I started ‘sipping’ it at mile six and chased every ‘sip’ with a sip of water. Honestly, nutritionally it was fine, but I had to carry an open package of sweet gooey stuff the entire run, and that wasn’t cool. I decided against using this on race day and went back to my honey stinger chews.

I met a PT here in Richmond who offered to teach me how to tape my knee to reduce the pressure on my cartilage. Magical. Simply magical. I’m now taping for any run over six miles.  The eight mile run while taped went so well that I was re-energized to complete the race. Full disclosure: I walked A LOT on the eight mile run, every hill up or down, just to be safe.

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On our twelve mile run Jeremy and I ran the first six miles together with an average pace of 9:20. This felt fast to me , but I felt strong so I kept going. At mile seven I bonked and both 7 and 8 were slower than 10:20 min/miles. I was able to pull my speed back up but I finished with a 9:53 pace. I seriously believed that if I hadn’t gone out so fast those first six miles I wouldn’t have bonked in the middle. (But who knows, running is so mental sometimes, ahhh!!)

Over the next few weeks I practiced my mantras, “beautiful girl you can do hard things,” “you’re stronger than you think,” “kick your butt, swing your arms,” and counting steps to twenty on repeat until I sped up.

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Prior to the start of the race I reviewed my long runs during the training time. I decided a 9:40 min/mile pace was probably conservative, but it would still let me meet my goal of a sub 2:10 (two hours and ten minutes) finish. If I had enough energy left at mile 9 or 10 I would have enough time to speed up to meet my secondary goal of 2:07 (beating the NY Marathon winning time of 2:07:##).

With my race plan made all I had left to do prior to race day was: packet pickup, parking plan, race day plan, outfit plan, throw away clothes purchase, drop bag packing, pre-race meals, race day nutrition, and hydration. Next post… race recap!