Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Lunchtime bliss in 30 minutes, looking forward, and the Big Breakup

Two posts in one week, for real? Yeah. Pretty stellar, yo. Three topics in this one. Buckle in! Here goes.

1. Big jolt of awesome today, in the form of a half-hour yoga class. Just down the hall from me, a little flow and a little savasana and the rest of my day was really quite lovely. This will be a new routine; once or twice a week, a little break on my mat, just for me.

2. After the crazy-tough half marathon last weekend, I registered for the Soldier Field 10-Miler, which happens over Memorial Day weekend. It will be my last endurance-distance race for the year, I think, and I'm actually looking forward to keeping up my training in order to do my best. After that, it's triathlons as far as the eye can see - three, maybe four, by the end of summer. Five, if I shake down someone who owes me money. (Unfortunately, I don't have enough to loan, so this is highly unlikely.)

3. This is the big one, guys. I initiated the end of a relationship I've been in for about eight years. I broke up with my scale.

Those closest to me know that I put on a significant amount of weight between Thanksgiving and New Years. Between getting sick right before Thanksgiving and all the food-related trappings of the holidays, the pounds crept on unnoticed until I could no longer deny them. And metabolically, things have slowed down in Maggie Town, so the numbers became an obsession.

An immovable obsession.

So I moved Taylor (that's the manufacturer of the scale) to the closet, and never looked back. I'm watching what I'm consuming, but I'm not allowing myself to be consumed by it, and it seems to be having an effect.

Let me be clear: this is not about being thin. This is about being competitive. It's about trying to run a 10-minute mile, getting a new PR in a sprint tri. It's a little bit about great deltoids (I have 'em) and liking what I see in the mirror, but the truth is, I like what I see in the mirror so much more when it's not filtered by the number on the scale. I'll check in now and then just to ensure that we're trending the right way, but the truth is, my jeans will do that for me, too.

The truth is, right where we are, whatever that looks like ... that's beautiful. Growing strong, growing healthy ... that's beautiful, too. Take the time to appreciate where you are, because life is short.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

That time I ran pruney

For the second year, I traveled to Champaign, IL to participate in events from Illinois Marathon Weekend. No marathon for me; this year I did a Friday night 5K and a Saturday morning half marathon.

And lived to tell the tale.

See, while Friday night's weather was perfect, Saturday's forecast was fraught with peril. Rain pretty much from the starting gun through mid-afternoon. Plus lightening, and even a bit of "tornadic activity." (Sidebar: "tornadic" is just an awesome word.) Still, we forged ahead, and at first it wasn't bad. I ran the first full hour with just a bit of a mist and a few legit showers.

That's the point at which all hell began to break loose. The rain kicked in for real, and the entire field of runners just sort of slogged through the streets of Champaign.

Runners wearing rain ponchos is kind of a sight to behold, but there was really no way to keep warm and dry. (You know how they talk about Arizona being a dry heat? Well, here in the midwest, we have a wet cold.) I had contemplated taking off my outer layer (which is now in the trash, thanks to a winning combination of rain, sweat and what's left after having been used as an impromptu tissue for about four miles) and I am so glad I didn't, because my last hour was a chilly endeavor like none I've ever experienced.

Around mile seven, I got sick to my stomach from taking Gu without water. (Note to self: don't do that.) It quickly exited my stomach of its own accord, and I shook it off as best I could. My fellow runners and I made our way through the course, bolstering each others' attitudes as we went. I am convinced that many fewer runners would have gotten this far without the amazing volunteers and spectators who showed up. It was rare to go very far without someone there to cheer, play music or shout encouragement. There were plenty of water stops, and even one with fresh orange slices. Truth is, Champaign knows how to support runners ... even in the worst of conditions.

Nearing mile 11, I was passing a frat house with a porch full of cheering fans and a huge yellow lab. They were playing music, and it inspired me to try speeding up a little. Which was a huge mistake; instantly, my left quad seized up and I started to fall. This was it; my race was over. But wait! One of the porch cheerers was there, catching me before I hit the road. Runners asked if I was okay as my frat friend hoisted me to the porch. His girlfriend got me water, some gel, and showed me how to stretch it out. It wasn't working; they called for a medic, and my race was over. I was close to tears, but trying to be brave.

As all this was going on, the marathon course was being evacuated. Lightening was on its way, and the race was going to be over soon. I had no idea any of this was going on, so when a little rest and stretching seemed to be working, I let the sweet medics in a golf cart know that their services would not be needed; I was going to make it to the finish line, even if I had to walk.

I walked a lot. It took me almost an hour to finish the last 5K of the course, but I made it on my own feet. Entering the stadium, it was eerily empty and quiet. While the night before it had been teeming with fans, friends and fellow athletes, today it was empty and desolate. The stadium had been evacuated and everyone was being moved to the interior areas and to safety. The jumbotron, which the night before we had seen ourselves cross the 50-yard-line today just showed a message against a red background: Athletes, please pick up your medals and exit to safety.

It took hours to get the feeling back in my extremities. Every inch of skin was pruney and water-logged. I was so hungry I could've eaten Velveeta. But I did it; I finished what I'd started.

She who does not quit can battle demons, and that's how yesterday felt. For everyone who didn't believe in me, and for every time I didn't believe in myself, I chose to keep going. And damn, that feels good.

My results were not what I wanted. I was on pace for a new PR, but with all the troubles I had, I'm pretty proud to have at least bested my last half marathon time by a tidy margin. In truth, though, I won yesterday. I entered that empty stadium triumphant.

And I wore my medals to do laundry today.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prepare and plan, and then ... have a blast!

This year is very different from the last few years; the years since I became a runner.

In the beginning, I never met a race I didn't like. But these days, I'm having to be uber-choosy about my races. Time, budget and just trying not to exist in a perpetual state of burnout require me to be smart about my race schedule. Which means I'm days away from my first - and only - half marathon of 2015, and I'm as prepared as I'm going to be. I've planed as much as I can.

And I'm nervous. And excited. And ready. But mostly nervous!

It's been over a year since I laced up for a 13.1, and I know what I want out of it. I have a few pace and time goals, but I'm not sure I've trained to hit them. So I'm putting my focus and energies into one really big goal:

Have all the fun.

I've never done that where a half marathon is concerned. I've never gone out just for the joy of running, but this Saturday, that's all gonna change. I'm going to hit the starting line with a kick-ass playlist and an attitude that says "I came to play." Because at its heart, that's what this is supposed to be. Running, and working out in general ... this is the recess of our adult lives. Sometimes, I'm so busy training and planning and reaching for the goal, I forget that it's supposed to be fun.

While I won't be in Disney World, and my running sisters won't be there to cheer me on, I will have a fantastic finish line (Illini Stadium, anyone?) and a tribe of runner friends who will celebrate each other. I'm prepared. I'm as ready as I can be.

So now, it's time to have some fun! See you on the 50-yard-line.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Becoming

I've said it before, and I'll say it many times over: we are all in the process of becoming.

In 2007, I began the process of becoming healthy. (Also, divorced. Coincidence? I think not.)

In 1994, I began the process of becoming a college grad.

And a week from yesterday, on Valentine's Day (or as I like to call it, Independence Day), I will begin  the process of becoming a yoga instructor. (Disclaimer: I don't know if I will ever teach, but the training will surely take me deeper into my practice, and prepare me to share it, if I should choose to.)

The process of becoming is scary as hell, but so very essential. If you never grow - if you never become something you aren't today - aren't you mostly dead?

Go ahead. Do something that scares you. Something you're not sure you can do. Something you suck at, but you can learn from.

Dare yourself. What might you become?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Training, x3

I would  be lying if I said I'm not intimidated as I registered for Yoga Teacher Training.

I would be lying if I said I'm prepared for the rigors of training for the Half I-Challenge, a 5K/half marathon combo I'm registered for at the end of April.

And I would be lying if I said I am confident I'll be ready for my do-over on all three triathlons.

And yet, that's the plan. Training for three separate things, all extremely important to me, all happening at the same time. It's going to require discipline, really careful planning, and plenty of sleep.

Not gonna lie: it's the sleep part I'm looking forward to the most.

Over the next six months or so, I'll do my best to chronicle the journey here. It's going to be scary as hell. But I also think it will be amazing. YTT starts February 7; it's time to buckle in and take the leap into 2015.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2015

I ended 2014 pretty much the same way I ended 2013: frustrated with myself, having put on a suitcase full of holiday poundage. But there's one thing that's really different this time around:

I'm giving myself grace.

Am I disappointed? Yeah. But the truth is, before Thanksgiving I got sick, and it was two weeks before I was able to really work out again. So by the time I was able to get back on track, the holiday season was in full swing. Parties took precedence over training runs. Meeting girlfriends for a cocktail meant I wasn't necessarily tracking my intake. I got on the scale last week and it was pissed.

But it's okay. I know how it got there; I know how to take it off. And I'm honestly considering not worrying about it at all, because maybe what I need to do is gain muscle and quit concerning myself with the weight at all.

So this year, I have three goals:

  • One half marathon, in April. 
  • Yoga teacher training (which scares the piss out of me and has me SO EXCITED at the same time), running February - June.
  • Three triathlons (the same three as last year - Esprit de She, IronGirl, and the biggie - Chicago, at the end of summer).

Training for the half begins in earnest tomorrow. Tri training shortly after that. And yoga teacher training will be an ongoing pursuit, every Saturday for the front half of the year.

I'm not going to be crazy about logging calories (although I will do my best to eat wisely.) I'm not going to kill myself to get workouts in (because I don't exercise; I train). And I'm not going to give in to the shoulda/coulda/woulda that often comes with not taking the best care of myself. No, I'm just not going there. I'm simply going to take each day as it comes, doing the best I can. And I'll try to be a little better at updating the blog, because it really does help me to stay honest.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The starting line

It all started with a text message to my friend Diane.

"Do you think," I asked, "that I could do that Hot Chocolate 5K thing in November?" It was late summer 2010, and I had an inexplicable wild hair. 

"Yes," my friend said, "you can absolutely do this, and I will help you." The next weekend found me out on my first-ever training run, panting, praying for sweet death, with Di running up ahead of me, talking the whole time in a manner that made me envious and hopeful. I registered for the race, not knowing what was about to happen.

I was inspired to try running by my sister Kathie. My sisters and I, we've never been particularly athletic, but I admired Kathie's gumption, and truth be told, I wanted some of my own. But I wanted something else, too. For years, I'd seen runners around town, doin' their thing. Solo, in groups, in the morning, at night ... I wanted what they had. I wanted that wind-in-your-hair freedom. I wanted to see if there was an athlete anywhere inside me. 

That first race took place on Kathie's birthday, and I will never forget watching her finish the race. While I ran the 5K, she ran the 15K, and I thought what she was doing was absolutely otherworldly. Hollering to her as she approached the finish line, I couldn't hold back the tears. 

I have never seen her look so strong. 

Today, I ran my fifth Hot Chocolate race. To date, I've run the 5K twice, and the 15K three times. Today's race wasn't my best time, but it wasn't my worst. I covered 9.3 miles at a pokey pace, and I finished in a little more than two hours and 15 minutes at a pace of 14:31 per mile. But contrast that with four years ago, when I ran 3.1 miles in 49:56, at a 16:05 minute mile. This is what progress looks like. 

But it's so much more than that. It's friendships forged, goals set (and occasionally crushed but often missed, yet celebrated anyway), breakfasts eaten, photos taken, challenges offered and confidence built.  It's the blisters and the black toenails, the smelly sports bras and the unmentionable chafing, and it's chasing something bigger than you are.

For a long time, I was chasing a sub-40 5K. For a lot of runners, that's incredibly slow, but for me, it's a huge accomplishment. And I've done it. Twice. Now I'm chasing a sub-35 5K, and a sub-3-hour half marathon and yeah, a sub-2 15K. And I'll get there, eventually.

But for tonight, I'm achey and accomplished. My feet are really pissed at me, and there is this raw spot where my trusty sports bra and I clearly did not see eye-to-eye. I'm ravenous and euphoric, not because I made it to the finish line.

No, this incredible feeling comes from believing in myself enough to make my way to the starting line, time and again, with the absolute knowledge that, one way or another, I will finish.

I am so grateful for the love and support of everyone in our tribe. May we only cease to run when our bones are too brittle to risk the impact. I love you with everything I am.