Wednesday, June 15, 2016

NE BIRD CAMP | GOTTA GET WITH MY FRIENDS


What to say about NE Bird Camp? Honestly, this moment sums it up for me:

Rec hall, concrete floors, no heat. It’s the last night. It’s dance party night. Someone figures out how to kill the overhead lights and fire up the twinkle lights strung slapdash on the sides and ceiling. And the entire dance floor is women singing at the top of their voices to Spice Girls Wannabe. The speaker keeps cutting out so that 90-ish voices clearly carry the lyrics acapella every 30 seconds or so. And no one is worried about how they sound, or look, or what they have to do the next day. We give 0 effs.


The last time I was on the dance floor at Camp Foss it was the 90s and I think it was my first slow dance. My friends were hugging the wall whispering. I was dancing with some guy I didn’t even want to dance with, but felt too awkward to say no. I was probably beet red. I had a black eye from earlier in the day when I attempted to pass people in the swim section of the running camp triathlon. Needless to say, at 32 singing my favorite song from that year surrounded by amazing vibes and even more amazing women and friends, everything felt like a huge upgrade. Even though life isn’t as clear as that black-eyed kid might have thought it would be.


NE Bird Camp was far and away better than I'd imagined, and my exceptions were high. It was also some of the coldest nights I’ve survived. I wish I could write LOL after that. But A. I’m a cold weather wuss. And B. it was cold AF. But you know what really makes people bond? Minor common miseries. Like cold weather and no heat anywhere when all you packed with spandex shorts and tanks. Honestly I think it helped ease the awkwardness of summer camp flashbacks. Well that and sharing dirt road miles, and Oiselle's woman up mission, and all the great swag, and Shacksbury Cider, and the speakers and demos, and the amazing food…



The entire weekend just had positive, shimmering energy. It was so fun to finally meet some of my favorite humans IRL, and find out that they are just as rad as our online conversations suggested they were. From dancing with sparklers on the dock under a sliver moon to laughing our way through some tough drills with Mike Silva, my face is still sore from smiling. And my abs are sore from laughing. Thanks slow-mo Snapchat and all the women in my cabin.


All I can really can say is thanks. Thanks to everyone who made this weekend possible. Oiselle for creating this team and sending me to camp, Rebecca (Trax) for believing and building this beautiful framework, every sponsor who supported us, Camp Foss for such a wonderful setting and food and shelter, and most of all everyone who showed up with a sleeping bag and an open heart and made that camp come alive. Thanks for creating this space to feel like a kid in the summer again, when all you think about is the moment you're in. Especially if that moment is belting out ....

"If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends! Make it last forever, friendship never ends"




Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I'M NOT SORRY

PJ loves to play mama. She pushes her stroller around, and shushes her babies to sleep; she asks if they’re hungry or if they have poopy. But lately when she plays mama she says sorry…a lot. In her little higher than normal mimic play voice she says ‘sorry’, ‘sorry people’.

That shook me. Do I say sorry that often? I listened to myself. I do. I actually do. I say sorry when I mean excuse me. I say sorry when I start a request at a coffee shop. I say sorry when I mean nothing of the sort. I’m not sorry. Or am I?

Lately I’ve been sorry. For not being able to push through. For getting sick over and over. For not being the shining Haute VolĂ©e human that is fist pumping her way to a finish line. Or crushing 50 40 mile weeks. For just being a average 30 something, who’s trying not to use wine as a crutch and keeps snipping at her husband. Who’s losing sleep over houses and sewer lines and why my kid keeps saying sorry.


I was planning to race the Rock n Roll Seattle Half. But I’m not racing it anymore. I wrote the coordinator last week. It was really hard for me to do it. I beat myself up over it, why couldn’t I get it together? Why not just race? Even after spending the day throwing up. Or accurately, spent the day throwing up and forcing myself to walk through 5 houses in Tacoma, as the black of sickness closed in tighter and tighter and I could barely walk. I still thought "maybe I’m being a wimp".

Because when the going gets tough, the tough get going. If it were easy everyone would do it. No days off. Just do it.

Saying no can be harder than saying yes.

No. I’m not sorry.

Monday, May 23, 2016

ONE SQUARE NOT SQUARE ONE

Different day - same slog.
I warmed up for my steady state workout yesterday feeling like steaming garbage. My legs were heavy, my breathing rough, I was hungry, my right shoe was too loose, I was exhausted... I felt like I couldn't hold my warmup pace for eight miles let alone a pace two minutes a mile faster.

But I had asked my husband for the time. It was on my workout schedule. I am signed up for Rock N Roll Half Marathon in like 20 days. And I don't bail on work.

The warmup was two miles of slogging and internal conversation and mental arguments on the toddler level.

"I'm going to eat so much sh*t on this workout."
"Stop it! You'll be fine."
"These shoes are shot."
"I'm so hungry, I should eat and then try again later."
"I could just do this tomorrow right?"
"Seriously, who do I think I am. I should quit."
"Get it together, do you want this!? Do you? C'mon let's go, yay!!!"
"Shut TF up, cheerleader."

Then I hit the Starbucks bathroom, did halfhearted drills for :45 seconds and then told myself to stop stalling. I hit the lap button and started my workout. Eight mile steady state at 6:20s, which is 9 seconds a mile slower than my marathon PR.

First mile, I still felt like hot garbage. I started in on myself again. Berating myself for (probably) not  even being able run eight miles at a pace slower than I ran 26.2 just months before. I told that voice to shut up, I reminded myself to relax my shoulders, focus on my form and that it takes me at least four miles of any run for me to feel good. Marathoner problems.

Second mile, an older man in head to toe Gortex pulled up beside me on a bike and asked how far I'm going to go that fast. I reply, eight miles. He's shocked and says good job and pedals away. I thought, well now I have to do it.

Third mile, I hit a headwind and start to work hard to stay on pace. But over all start to feel better, at least like fresh garbage. And the headwind means I'll ride a tailwind in a bit. I started to look forward to that. Then reminded myself to stay in the moment.

Fourth mile, I started feeling like I'd finish the workout. Just one more of those. Remind myself again to stay in the moment.

The next four miles I stayed in the moment. I focused on the step under me, the breath I was taking. This is the workout groove that can be hard won. Every once in awhile I'd ask my body if I could work easier and stay on pace, found the answer was yes. I stayed under pace, felt smoother, but never great. And the cool down felt like an eternity of slogging boredom but I forced myself to do the full two miles.

It was one square on the calendar. It wasn't square one. It was a deposit into the running bank.

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...

--

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.