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.