Saturday, September 28, 2013

floating to recovery

The past couple weeks I just haven't been recovering. Like I said, it's been some solid days of garbage meat.  I've been stretching, sleeping hard, eating well and still not turning the corner. So on Friday I tried something completely new. I booked an hour to float inside an insolation tank.

I've been curious about Float Seattle ever since the first day their A-board appeared on the sidewalk near Oiselle HQ. They promised among other things: enhanced muscle recovery, stress reduction, improved sports performance, world peace... you know, the basics. I walked in trying not to give in to my skepticism. I wanted to give this a real go. I mean it was $40, that's like a good meal. A new sweater. Half a week in groceries. A sketchy massage.

In fact I did very little research (also known as compulsive Googling) on Floating before I tried it. I wanted to find out what I thought, independent from what I was supposed to think. I read a couple drop downs on the menu, but then directed my Googling to pace calculators and taper theories. All I knew was that I would be floating in a solution of highly concentrated Epsom Salt, in an enclosed tub, in complete darkness and silence.

I arrived before my appointment. The front lobby smelled like lavender. Two men, who looked more like firefighters than the hipsters I had envisioned, sat waiting for their tubs. I signed a waiver (if I'm trapped in the isolation tank and boiled alive due to heater malfunction... kidding) and was shown to room 3. Lucky number, score! The entire Float studio has a clean modern design. Exposed concrete with minimal ivy and mossy details. In the room there is an open shower, a bench and hooks by the door for your clothing, and the tank.

Although the lobby is feet away it felt like my own private room and experience from the minute door number 3 closed. I was given earplugs and a towel. Instructions to shower, get in, and close the lid and lay with my head at the far end looking up. The float facilitator (?) suggested arms at side or bent elbows with hands above head.

I showered, a quick scrub down (with the provided Dr. Bronner's lavender soap, of course). I stepped into the tank, sat down and pulled the lid shut behind me. My tank had no light inside. So it was completely dark as I found my way to the back and laid down. I knew I would be floating, but it was still unnerved how easy it was! I could lay my head into the water support, and my entire body just lay buoyant.

There is no concept of time. But I would guess for at least the first 5 minutes I fought back some intense and unexpected claustrophobia and fear. What if my lid was stuck? What if there was an earthquake? What if the water level suddenly filled and filled and I was asleep? I counted my breathes in and out and told myself to let go of the fears. I breathed out the word 'calm'. Like I do when I panic in races.

The rest of the hour I swung back and forth between trying to zone out of my body and envisioning the Chicago course and my game plan. When I'd accidentally hit the side of the tank or start obsessing about how the water on my forehead just wasn't warm enough I used a breathing meditation from yoga, in: I am, out: here now. Until I came back.

What was unexpected was how heavy my legs felt. They felt like they were 300lbs each. Like they weren't mine. Like they weren't human. I imagined feeling weightless, I mean they were obviously floating. But in the cartoon of my mind my legs were giant statue versions of themselves. When I'd go to wiggle a toe I couldn't. They were blocks of frozen granite.

After the hour is up music plays into the tank. I didn't think I was that relaxed but when the music came in I about hit the ceiling. Like being abruptly woken up. I should have laid back and let myself come back slowly, but I sat right up and got out of there. I was spinning but I was nervous they needed the room right away. Another shower and then out into the post-float room.

After that it's out into the world. As I walked home, I couldn't believe it but it really felt like my legs had some pep. The next morning when I ran, they felt just normal tired. NOT like the epic exhaustion I'd been fighting. And on Sunday my 18 miler with fast middle felt pretty darn good. My legs could actually move. Of course I've been fighting to recovery on all fronts, but I really believe floating made the final flip for me.

I booked another float after my 18 miles on Sunday. I found my way to calm and quiet faster this time. My legs didn't feel like concrete either, which was interesting. I'm out for a recovery run this evening, I'm curious to see if I feel a difference.

Have you ever tried floating? Other alternate recovery methods?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

garbage meat of this epic sandwich, or something like that...

We are three weeks out from the Chicago Marathon. Don't ask me what day of the week it is or which month we're in. I have a very loose grasp of anything outside of this 26.2 tunnel I've entered.

Last week I had the second hardest and first worst week of my training cycle. And it doesn't take a genius to figure out why. Because, as you'll soon see, I'm no genius.

In the 7 days before garbage week I had the most epically awesome/crazy week. I PRed in the half marathon after a 60+ mile week, flew to NYC the next day, slept a collective 14 hours and ran 30 miles over the course of my 3 days/nights there. On Wednesday I walked the runway at Nolcha for Oiselle, followed by a 8.5 mile run with 8 x minute pickups in 92ยบ heat, followed by dancing until 2am fueled on Rockstar and a bowl of oatmeal. Spent 11 hours attempting to get from Newark to Seattle during huge thunderstorms. After a day in the office, and a 13 mile run I packed my entire apartment and the next day moved it to our new house in Green Lake.

I started beating myself up less after solving this mindbending lifeload equation. Especially after I added the bonus 8th day of crazy, Sunday, when I ran 22 miles ending in 4 miles under 6:10 and 2 miles under 6:00. I gave it to that run. I pushed hard. But that wasn't the end of my day. I ended the run in West Seattle where I scrubbed down our old apartment with Owen for the next 3 hours.

At least I capped the day off like this. Who needs bedsheets? Photo credit Owen.
I took Monday off, and ran an easy 10 on Tuesday. But there was nothing easy about the last two miles of that run. I couldn't tell I was hitting the bottom until the next day when I finally blew up. My coach had me head out for a steady 8miles at under 6:15. I was feeling cocky and hitting 6:03s. Until mile 3 out of nowhere, I was seriously going sh*t my pants. My legs were falling off, my entire abdomen was on fire with cramps. I was blowing up on the Burke. I had to race into a coffee shop bathroom. Then tried to finish out the workout. I made it another mile before my pace was dropping off, hard. When my watch beeped 4 miles I was done. I hobbled back home barely hitting 9:45 minute pace.

Since then I've been dangling just above the land of the defeated, trying not to fall all the way in. I keep reflecting back on the email exchange I had with my coach before aiming at Chicago. When I told him I wanted to try to go under 2:43, even though it might kill me, even though it means an 11 minute PR and he wrote back, "I will coach you to run sub 2:43. If you can handle the training, you can run the time." Every workout I reminded myself of this. And I hit every workout. I know it's not logical, but this workout-fail feels like a shadow over my training.

On the plus side I did maintain decent mileage during garbage week, it certainly wasn't the peak week I'd planned but I kept my sh*t together. Yes, my slow pace feels hard. My IT band is pissed off. This Sunday, my side stab decided to jump in on all the fun I was having. But I do feel like I'm starting to get my legs back under me. But it's not the instantaneous, triumphant 'Aha! I'm fine! It was nothing!' I wish it was. I am fighting with the doubts in my head BUT I'm still focusing on the finish line clock bright with 2:42:__. Because it's just one week and one workout. And if epic weeks are followed by garbage weeks, garbage weeks must be followed by epic weeks. By that logic... I'm just in the garbage meat of this epic sandwich.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

NYC Fashion Week - Oiselle Bird Machine

Next Monday I head to NYC to for Fashion Week! I can't believe I'm writing that. This has been a bucket list item for years and years. And I'm not just going to people watch. Nope. I am walking a runway.

Oiselle is debuting our S14 collection at Nolcha Fashion Week. Nolcha is a show for up-and-coming collections. The runway show will be at 1:30pm on September 11 on Pier 59! I am pinching myself. Catwalk here I come!

Of course I'm not the only real runner hitting the RUNway. JJ, Lesko, Fleshman and Kate will be strutting too!

Yesterday we started our model training, hard. With instruction from Miss J, naturally. Check out the Behind the Scenes footage:

And follow along as I hit the big apple as one very amatuer model!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

6, 5, 4, 3, 2, run

Six weeks out from Chicago! Three days from a tune-up half marathon, four days from jetting to NYC, seven days from strutting the catwalk at Fashion week, ten days from getting the keys to our new house (renters for life)...

Numbers are ugly little monsters as far as I'm concerned. I have no interest in tracking them or putting them together to see create another number. Perverse! And there is nothing more hideous than this shape: 2. But as a runner nearing a goal race they begin shouting for attention. I think about 2:42 and 6:11. I think about how over sleeping by 1 hour on race morning would be like lighting 12 weeks of my life on fire. Man, numbers just get so bossy!

Then I think about the weeks ahead. The next two weeks of life are out of control. How to fit 80 miles into 6 days, 8 hours of sleep, 10 hours of work, 2 hours of commute... into 24? Growing up I was busy too, and I would literally freak the F out all the time. I was a huge stress bundle kid. My dad would come into my room as I tornadoed around in complete despair and he'd say, write down everything you have to do and how long it will take. Then work backwards from your deadline. So my afternoon would look like:
2:35 - 2:45 get ready for practice
2:45 - 3:15 warm up/stretch
3:15 - 4:15 run
4:15 - 4:35 free time/pack homework
4:35 - 5:00 come home
5:00 - 5:15 shower
5:15 - 6:00 dinner
6:00 - 6:45 study for history quiz

You get the picture. It's slightly OCD, but if you have a lot going on and you have any shred of ADHD you know how calming a list can be to take all the swirling BS in your head and pin it down so you clear some space to think up there. Obviously my list isn't quite so basic these days and it's a lot more exciting. But I try to find the time to write everything out, how long it will take and work it backwards.

Actually I should probably be doing that right now...

How do you keep yourself afloat when your schedule is slammed?