Friday, November 30, 2007

The Red Ponytail

so much depends

a red pony

glazed with blonde

falling upon a white

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Looking Back

Six months ago, my longest run was somewhere between 5 and 6 miles, with a fair amount of walking involved; my total running miles: 77. I rarely ran routes that had any elevation at all -- and had never run on a trail. In fact, I had probably only hiked trails a handful of times in my life and knew very little about the beautiful trails that were actually within 5 miles of my home.

Further, my self-discipline left something to be desired. I had little trouble accomplishing things when other people mandated the accomplishments (work, school, etc.), but had great difficulty prioritizing my personal goals and well-being.

With the goal of making running a part of my life (because of its mental, emotional and physical benefits) and improving my self-discipline, I decided to run a marathon for my 30th birthday. Then I realized a trail run would be preferable and settled on the Big Basin Redwoods 50k -- the scenery would be beautiful, it would be 30+ miles for my 30th, and travel would be accessible and affordable.

And so, my training began. I discovered mornings (real mornings 5 and 6 am mornings, not 10 and 11 am mornings). I discovered the necessity and importance of sleep and good eating habits. I discovered the incompatibility of a glass of wine at night and a good run the next morning or coffee during the day and a good run at night. Hydration and rest are critical.

At the end of May, I ran 10 miles. The first time in my life I had ever run that far. It was challenging and exhilarating. I experienced my first true runner's high.

Then, in June, I spent 21 days in production on a feature film, working 14+ hours a day; exhausted and caffeine-addicted, my training fell by the side.

When I got back on track after the film shoot, my running mentor stressed integrating trail runs into my training process since the 50k involved 6,000 feet of elevation. Out on the trail, I learned how different trail running is from street running and how inclines affect stamina, endurance and pace. Trails required more mental engagement, too, with rocks and roots sticking out here and there. They also offered much better views -- mountains, valleys, trees, streams. It was beautiful.

On race day last Sunday (the 16th), my 50k became a15k (thanks to the knee injury I had suffered 10 days earlier) and that 15 took longer and felt much harder than I expected. The trail was difficult with some very steep parts that my aching, swollen, stiff knee did not appreciate. Taking a hard fall during the run (and ripping skin off my hand and shoulder) didn't help much either, nor did capping off the run with a slight diversion from the trail (I was told to go the wrong way by some ill-informed and well-meaning hikers) and a twisted ankle. I had hoped to turn my 50 into 25 that day. I discovered I had to be proud of my 15 -- proud of the fact that I had learned to prioritize my health and well-being over a need to be superwoman, proud that I could tell the difference between sore muscles that can be pushed through another 10k and a swollen, twisted, injured leg that needed the 15 to be enough on that day, so that there would be more runs in the near future.

I may not have run 50k that day. But, I know that I can and will. My knee will heel and I'll be back on the trails for good. Running is a part of my life now. It is something I'm committed to. My longest run to date is an 18-20 mile run with 350+ miles under my belt this year, which is a major accomplishment for me.

The Good Long Road has truly been good and IS truly long. I am still on it. Running (and blogging) has been an incredible experience that has given me a new understanding of my needs and abilities. The support I received from friends and family was incredible, getting me through some challenging runs and a frustrating injury. On race day, I ran with a medallion from my father around my neck and with the knowledge that my mom, brother, boyfriend and a few other close friends were just outside the forest. I smiled when I looked up (perhaps 3 miles to go) and saw my brother and boyfriend, Ramon, walking toward me carrying Benedryl and water, concerned about bee stings, which other runners had suffered. I enjoyed a weekend of love and support. My uncle and brother were inspired to run the 10k next year. The fundraising had brought in nearly $5,000 and words of support from people I had never met. Friends had written to tell me how inspired they were by my blog.

The whole experience has been incredible and I look forward to continuing along the Good Long Road.

Thank you for your support.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

4 Days & Counting

So, the big run is now only four days away.

Many people have been asking me for a reminder about the details of the race, so here's the details:

People have also been asking me how I feel - am I anxious, nervous, excited. I'm certainly feeling excited, but not anxious or nervous -- at least not yet.

Primarily, I'm feeling uncertain. Exactly one week ago, I set out for my final long run (an exciting 25-mile route I had designed just for that run). Three miles in, I could barely stand. Something had gone wrong with my knee -- painfully wrong.

So, I've been on an ice and rest routine and my trainer and chiropractor have advised me to "Show up on race day, start running and see what happens."

Hence, the uncertainty. I may run 30 miles on Sunday, I may 20 or even 10 or 5 -- maybe even less. Regardless, I've realized. It has been a good, long road. I have learned a lot, accomplished a lot, experienced a lot, gained
a lot.

I'm ready. No matter what the big day holds. I'm ready.

Thank you everyone for your support! Keep it coming.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Reprinted from my hometown newspaper, 07-12-81. The caption reads: "Jenni Fischer, just 3-1/2 years old, competed in the Shawnee Santa Fe Days Mile Run for Fun Saturday morning. Officials said Jenni was the youngest to run and finish the Fun Run. (Photo by Ed Blochowiak)"

Friday, August 17, 2007

this is what a good day's work looks like

Saving Yourself - Saving the World - Planting Seeds

I've been reading The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers.

Campbell puts forth, among other things, that one of the values of myths is their ability to illuminate truth and help us understand ourselves and our place in the world. They are not about the search for meaning, but about the experience of meaning.

For Campbell, changing the world requires changing ourselves. He imparts that we must save ourselves first.

"The influence of a vital person vitalizes...the world without spirit is a wasteland. People have a notion of saving the world by shifting things around, changing the rules and so forth...The thing to do is to bring life to become alive yourself."

For Campbell, by bringing life to ourselves and "following our bliss," we bring life to the world.
As I conquer new challenges, I reaffirm the necessity and power of change.

When I realize that I need to sleep differently, eat differently, drink differently, schedule things differently, exercise differently, think differently, interact with the world differently, I confirm the power of positive change to lead me along the Good Long Road. Changing myself is absolutely necessary if I am to bring vitality and energy to the world -- and if I am to save myself.

Plant some seeds of your own. Follow your bliss. Now is the time. 

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Conquering The Beast (A Running Meditation)

They call this trail “The Beast.” It is uphill the whole way, 4.86 miles to the top. When I first read about it, I was skeptical. Could it really be uphill for almost five miles? One Wednesday morning, as part of my training, I decided to find out.
As I struggled up the first three-quarters of a mile, which are considered the most difficult, I had already decided that its name and reputation were warranted. An absolutely unrelenting climb, it is a beast.
Yet worth all of the effort, I discovered, continuing upward. Further away from the traffic below, winding around different curves, I found view after breathtaking view. Beautiful canyon walls stood high on either side of the trail, gorgeous mountains rising up in the distance.

I stopped--simply to take in the view. Surprised not to find myself fatigued or cramping, I breathed deeply. Inhaling, I took in the clear beauty of the world around me. The magnificence of Mother Nature overwhelmed me. Being devoured by the Beast was nothing like I had imagined. I felt myself moving inside it, its unfettered beauty all around me.
My mind traveled to a place I had visited once in Thailand. I stumbled upon an inviting temple in Bangkok and ventured inside, looking to meditate. Seeing my attempt was not going so well, an observant nun invited me to join her for a “walking meditation.” She taught me to concentrate on my breathing, to be mindful of my body, to be present to the meditation as a process I was experiencing.
Returning my attention to the Beast, I drew on my experience in Thailand and sought to complete the run with a meditative focus--a “running meditation,” if you will . . .
right, left, right – breathe in
left, right – breathe out
left, right, left – breathe in
right, left – breathe out
right, left, right – focus in
left, right – breathe out (exhaling stress)
left, right, left – focus in (there is tension in my right shoulder)
right, left – release the tension
right, left, right – focus in
left, right – tension out
Repeat. Repeat. Climb.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rebuilding Hope, Rebuilding Homes

The Rebuilding Alliance is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization that rebuilds homes and communities in regions of war and occupation.

We also seek to create alliances and to bring together individuals around the world to build peace and community.

Our projects are symbols of hope that help rebuild shattered communities and offer people around the world immediate ways to make peace, starting with the tangible support of a family's right to a home.

We are currently working on the 2nd home in The Rachel Corrie Rebuilding Campaign in Gaza. I am asking you to join me in rebuilding homes and hope as Palestinians, Israelis, Americans and others come together to create change.

Join me in celebrating possibility as I approach my goal of 50k, $2000 (for The Rebuilding Alliance) and 30 years of life! I want no gifts, just a lot of giving. Simply go to to make a donation.

Every amount helps. Here are a few suggestions.

Over $50 - You Rock My World Gift
$50 - Run With Me Gift ($1 for every Kilo being run)
$30 - Birthday Gift ($1 for every year of my life)
$5 - Every Gift is Important Gift

There are many wonderful organizations out there making a difference -- just give, if you can.

Donation FAQ

"I want to give! BUT....

"I don't wish to be added to any group's mailing list or receive any email or mail appeals to give more. "

When you donate through The Rebuilding Alliance (TRA) site (for instance via the link here in my blog), you can specify in the comment box at the bottom of the page that you do not wish to be added to their mailing list. I am in direct contact with the Executive Director of the Rebuilding Alliance. Feel free to email me as well, and I will reiterate your wish not to be contacted.

"I would prefer not to give online for security reasons."

You can mail a check directly to:

The Rebuilding Alliance
457 Kingsley Avenue
Palo Alto CA 94301

"I would prefer to funnel my donation through you."

That's OK too. Send me an email, and I will give you my mailing address. You can mail me a check in my name and I will make your donation for you. I can even send you a receipt if you like! But be aware that U.S law will not permit you to write off your gift for tax purposes if the check is made out to me.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Powered by Peace, Sponsored by Belief

“The Good Long Road.” It was my brother Kyle that came up with this title for the blog. For the last week I’ve been asking myself, “What exactly is the Good Long Road?”

For our purposes, it is the 50k (31.3-mile) Redwoods Basin Trail Run I’ll make in September. It rises to over 6000 feet in the beautiful California Redwoods. The journey marks my 30th birthday—taking stock, conquering new challenges, and celebrating with friends, family, and fellow runners in the process.

My training is a means of taking care of myself. In taking care of myself, I find I have more energy to care for others.

I run because I believe that peace exists even in the Middle East, where war has waged for "thousands of years."

I seek the peace for myself that I see in the world, believing that there is a nonviolent resolution for every conflict.

I believe this because I see it in my work every day as a peacemaker. I see it in the town of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam, the "Oasis of Peace" where Israelis and Palestinians live, work and raising their children together.

I see it through the conviction of Craig and Cindy Corrie who helped rebuild the home their daughter, Rachel, gave her life to defend in a land far from home. Rachel's work continues now through the Rebuilding Alliance.

I see it through the resourcefulness of small nonprofits/non-governmental organizations--delivering on promises through their will and determination, on small budgets and slim resources.

Many, even those who seek to inspire us, would have us believe that peace is a destination to be reached, at the other end of a “road less traveled.” For me, that’s not true. Yes, the journey may sometimes seem lonelier or more difficult than I imagined. But then I realize that this is only because I have been looking over my shoulder, or at my feet.

When I raise my head - to answer the call, to ask for help, to remember who I am and what I do — I find I have always come to an amazing place. Surrounded by good people, I come to a new understanding. Every arrival is an intersection. I am grateful that there is always more to do.

So to my friends, family, and fellow runners--
May we all raise our eyes together and recognize the journey we share. Peace is the path, not the destination. The road need never end. Join me along the way.