Thursday, May 5, 2016

BANG MY HEAD AGAINST THE WALL

Running has been a roller coaster since the Trials. I left that finish line unsatisfied. I wanted to jump right back in, prove I wasn't a flash in the pan. Use the fitness I knew I had. The next week handed me a big life change as I transitioned out of Oiselle HQ and began working for myself. And last night I found myself signing loan paperwork as we look to buy a house in Tacoma, and leave behind the city I've called home for nearly 10 years. The longest I've ever lived anywhere.
Hey, mama, you alive? Barely.
So to correct my first sentence: LIFE has been a roller coaster since the Trials. And running is part of it. 

As I talked this over with my (new) friend and ultra runner Sarah Bard, I realized that most of the competitive runners I know share a similar "flaw". We don't appropriately account for life stresses affect on our training and racing. We tend put our running and racing in its own box, as if it simply can't be touched by anything else. We think our heart and determination should be enough! Even if we aren't sleeping, or are working long days, buying a house, or just ran two marathons in 8 weeks. We think we just need to "want it more", or "work harder". 

 15 miler followed by too sick to get out of bed. #rollercoaster
This is a valley in my training. I'm still going through the motions, doing the workouts. But truthfully it just all feels hard. The ah-ha, hooray moments are weeks apart. I know from my years of running that this is okay. But there are moments it's hard to remind myself of that. That it will get better and the work that I'm doing now isn't for nothing. It's money in the bank, even if it feels like pennies rather than hundies. And recovery is just as important a deposit as the work.

Or simply maybe I should take it from Sia and bang my head against the wall. Within reason of course...

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What's next? I'm jumping in local races this spring to test the wheels. First up, Beat the Bridge 8k on May 15th. And you can always check out my race schedule here.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

GET STRONG - GO LONG | TEDIOUS WORK

When I visited Steph in April a big goal was to meet with her PT and develop a plan to deal with the weakness and imbalance I've been ignoring for years since I broke my back and since my pregnancy, c-section and diastasis recti diagnosis. I reached a place in my training where I felt like I was a beat up car with the bumper and muffler duct taped on, rattling down the highway at 80 MPH when it was clear I shouldn't go over 30. 

I've dealt with my share of injuries and I feel a visceral repulsion to PT diagram print outs. The tedious extra work is so boring, I get hives of impatience just thinking about it. Words like "engage your core" are like sedatives. But I really want to run faster and I know the little tiny, never break a sweat work is key to getting above this plateau. And even more important to me, it's key to running healthy for a long time. 

In case you didn't pick up on it, I'm really bad at actually doing the work. So I make chart and stuck it by my front door to keep me honest.
Yes, there is a back side. Yes, it looks similar.
Clearly I didn't knock it out of the park, but I did consistently berate myself ... I mean... I did consistently do the work. At least 3 x a week. Which is a baby step in the direction I need to go. 

I drew another chart today. Blank slate! Added some bonus exercises just to keep it spicy. Here's my public proclamation to you, 7 readers of my blog, I will fill in every.other.day. At least.


Feel free to needle me about it on Twitter! Or join in yourself! It's the Get Strong --> Go Long plan of attack.

CONTRADICTION, TRUTH AND POOLSIDE PHILOSOPHY

I just got back from Palm Springs* where I was enjoying my longest getaway since… I don’t even know. It was a girls’ trip, which isn’t something I’m fluent in. The girls I got away with were some of my first roommates when I moved to Seattle on whim nearly 10 years ago. I met them at the pivotal (and let’s be honest volatile) time of my early twenties. Which I guess is to say … I met them in my early twenties. 


Your twenties are a time that is, by nature, completely contradictory. For many of us we’d just graduated, sat in a large auditorium and had someone tell us about our endless potential and how this was the first day of the rest of our lives. And then hand us a bill and kick us out the door.

Because it *was* the first day of the rest of our lives, but so was the next day. And the rest of lives was now up to us. Luckily, if you graduated with a liberal arts degree (raises hand violently) you were equipped to ask the big questions. However, you weren’t that equipped to make career decisions or file your taxes.

Ten years later here we were lounging by pool, smile lines, cancer scares, c-section scars, stretch marks, fur babies and husbands (or not) and five girls between us, mortgages (or not), but all still paying off our college loans. We relived our lowest (and often most hilarious) moments of our early twenties and talked about life now. Which is still sometimes just as unclear and messy as it was back then.

So why does it feel less internally volatile? I think the difference is that as you grow older you become more comfortable with contradiction. Even, and especially, contradiction within your own spirit. It’s something I still struggle with and is the number one thing I admire in those I look up to.

Live your own truth. It’s a phrase I heard a lot this weekend, but not one I’ve ever thrown around. I think it means the same thing as keeping it real. It’s accepting the “you” that you are. Even the parts you sometimes really don’t like. I don’t mean falling back on the excuse to be a human turd by saying ‘that’s just how I am’ but don't rake yourself over the coals for your flaws either. Instead address them with empathy and determination to live more like your truth. 


So here’s to friends that encourage us to live our own truth, and challenge us to keep growing while still accepting and loving ourselves for who we are right now at the same time. 

* I'm accepting the me that wrote this blog three weeks ago and finally hit publish today. Insert guilty smile emoji.

Monday, April 4, 2016

THEY SEE ME STROLLIN'

In my new life there is a more stroller running. Like a lot more. I used to run her around the lake on Saturday once in awhile. Nothing over 4 miles. Last week I did 3 runs pushing PJ. I am lucky enough to have a really good running stroller, the Mountain Buggy, but it's still not my #1 choice over running solo. 


If you’re new to stroller running I will say this, it does get easier. I could barely crack 9 minute pace when I rarely ran the stroller, now I run 7:30s just fine. I think a lot of my struggle was because my tires were pretty flat. Tip number one: pump up those tires! 



STROLLER RUNNING SURVIVAL TIPS

PUMP UP THE TIRES
Can’t say it enough. Bring your run stroller into a good bike store, they will help you make sure the pressure is just right.

BRING ALL THE THINGS
My checklist

  • Cookie Monster 
  • Elmo Goes Potty book  
  • Cheese
  •  Cheerios 
  • Water for PJ 
  • Water for me 
  • PJ’s sunglasses 
  • Second running watch for PJ  
  • Jacket and pants for park after 
  • Phone 
  • Headphones
PRAY TO THE GODS OF GOOD MOODS
Sample prayer:
Please let ____ be in the mood to sit and watch the world go by at a blazing 7 miles an hour. Please let there be many doggies and birdies to look at.  May the sight of each fill her with joy and the will to keep sitting on her bum. On her bum!

PRAY TO THE GODS OF THE SKY
Sample prayer:
Please let the sun shine, but not too bright as it bothers my ___’s eyes and will make him/her scream eyes! Eyes! Eyes! Until her/his sunglasses are on or we go inside. Please let no water fall from the skies or blustery winds blow. And can you go light on the mud puddles?

Mud kickback is legit

ADJUST YOUR WARMUP
Toddlers are perfect for weighted squats. However their patience is low and you have to cheer them on, which takes the wind out of my sails. Or lungs. Any banded exercises results in PJ trying to climb all over me to get “into the band” and isn’t worth attempting. Lunging with toddlers … mixed reviews.

So I guess I’m saying if you’re used to some elaborate (or any) warmup routine, forget it.

Positive Note: I have found that a Sesame Street Spotify dance party can serve as a good warmup and is also good for shaking toddler sillies out before they are asked to sit for 45 minutes.

MAKE LIKE A DUCK
And let the glares and occasional verbal assaults roll right off your back. Running with a stroller is the equivalent of driving a mini van on the highway. Even if you’re going 85 MPH everyone assumes you’re slow and need to be honked at and aggressively passed.

I am constantly being hurried across the five way stop by drivers, “C’mon lady!! Go.” Um. I think I’ll wait for the SUV to cross the other lane if you don’t mind. And getting glared at for getting “too close” when passing on the run, even when the glarer is at the end of a four across chat-fest on Green Lake. I’m still the same width essentially. They on the other hand are FOUR PEOPLE WIDE. Step off ME!!! ARGH. Eh hem, I mean let it roll. Right off your back.

BRING BEYONCÉ
Having a friend makes stroller running much easier. And if you can’t recruit a friend, bring Beyoncé. One headphone in can make all the difference. The challenge is commenting in a sing-song voice on all the duckies and doggies while in your head you’re all, “Legs movin' side to side, smack it in the air…”
 

WAYS TO MAKE TIME GO FASTER
  • Keep a tally of all the bros you pass. 
  • Yell out duckie, doggie and birdie when you spot them. 
  • Play knock-knock on the stroller visor. 
  • Pay attention to your form, unhunch! 
  • Beyoncé (see above). 
  • Challenge yourself to get Cheerios, water etc without stopping the stroller. #skillz 
  • Teach your toddler to cheer for you on demand.

Do you stroller run? Are you one of the super humans pushing a three wide (I seriously can’t even fathom)? Tips?

Sunday, March 20, 2016

RUNNING DOWN A ... HMMM

This January I sat down to make my goals for the year, but in the area of running I kept coming up with nothing. I had just qualified for the Olympic Trials. Realistically, for a runner of my ability, wasn't that the top?

Five weeks ago I walked away from the Marathon Trials in LA fired up after a unsatisfying race, but without aim. I needed to take time off and recover. I took two weeks off (except for one burn-it-down-5-mile sanity run) and have started back slowly under Steph's coaching. It's very much felt like the off-season. Wine, staying up late (watching TV) and all the loafing around one can muster with a huge life transition and a toddler.  

Whiskey and theater, our one night out
This weekend capped off my interest in the true off-season mentality. Always important to get it out of the system. I'm ready to start training. My first goal is to get solid. To deal with nagging little pains and imbalances. To get a solid base to push off from. But the next big scary goal? I haven't sharpened the focus on one yet. 

Stroller running, feel the burn
PJ and I are making the pilgrimage to visit Steph in Flagstaff this Saturday. I'll be seeing her body work guy for treatment, assessment and to build a (much needed) strength plan. And I imagine we'll sit down and discuss what's next.

I can't wait to see what this Flagstaff life is all about and hang with Steph and her boys. Ben will be off racing, so it's just us and the tots...#flagstaffsisterwives! Hashtag needs refining. I have a feeling Riley just might be PJ's spirit animal. Tune in to all social media channels for the unavoidable cuteness/insanity overload that only three kids under two can bring. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

HERE'S TO THE UNKNOWN

Monday, February 22nd, was my first day in over five and a half years that I didn’t walk into Oiselle HQ. I woke up and scrolled through IG like every morning. I had to stop myself from taking a screen shot of a fashion post that gave me an idea for a campaign. I took the screen shot anyway, saved it for myself.

My mother was in town, by luck of the draw. She was going to be in town anyway. Owen was traveling for work and thought I’d want the help. Our basement room is cold in the winter, so she stayed a few miles away at a hotel. It was the perfect transitional week. My mother allowed me to create a mix of being alone with PJ but also swooped in to give me breaks to hustle. 



Hustle. This is a word I use a lot now. You might call it ‘non-billable’ hours. But I prefer hustle. It’s the networking, the who-knows-who who might need copy or strategy, the LinkedIn and personal site building, the coffee with smart people time. It’s the hustle. And I’m remembering quickly the hustle a lot of the freelancer’s day.

I started work with one client that first week. And have added a couple since. It's feels good to have my feet under me already. The unknown does weigh more with PJ in the picture. 


I have worked for myself before. I actually started a t-shirt brand. Way back in 2005, back when Threadless was starting and I considered them our only competition. Back in the days when cool graphic shirts ruled the land and American Apparel wasn't porny or bankrupt, I started The Zoo with two good friends and rad designers. I started The Zoo to learn everything I could about marketing. 


And it worked. I learned a lot. We had three years in the market and two years in the black. My designer friends graduated and wanted to work steadier jobs. I moved to Seattle. But I love those years. Those are some of the best.



If you are 23, be poor (or not) and chase your dreams. I worked four jobs to support myself during The Zoo. I made pizza dough at 2am, unloaded a million pounds of Performance Fleece at 4:30am at Old Navy, served sandwiches and beer, and delivered pizza three nights a week. And in between, I drank a lot of coffee and grew The Zoo. And it taught me that if you love what you do, it’s not work.

It also taught me that you can’t live on minimum wage and run a start-up tee shirt company. So when I moved to Seattle I got adult jobs like 'accountant' and 'content strategist', 'digital marketing specialist', 'marketing manager' … and then I worked for myself again until I met Sally and fell hard for Oiselle. Oiselle was The Zoo in a way, but all grown up. And I loved every single day there, until it was time to close that chapter.



So here I am 10 years later, and 10 years wiser (more like 25, because we at 'The Nest' have decided Oiselle years count triple) working for myself. I texted my friend, Paul, designer at The Zoo and now an artist living the dream in Denver* about my recent career move and asked if he had advice. He texted back, “Welcome to the chaos! May your crippling self doubt and insecurity guide you... just kidding. You’ll love it. Believe in yourself and enjoy the unknown.”


So here’s to the unknown! And to crippling self doubt!

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* Paul's work is very much some of my favorite. Check out Mountains Versus Plains now!