Saturday, April 18, 2015

18 weeks to go...

No, I haven't fallen off the planet. I've been running, and visiting friends, and trying to survive the last little bit of this semester, and interviewing for jobs, and and and...

It's been hectic. Even so, I've managed to get in 35.6 miles this week, which brings my yearly total up to 418.1 miles. The icing on the cake: two of my runs this week were trail runs (YES!!!!!!) and I've been hitting my under 10 minute mile averages when I'm running on the roads. Running (for now, because what a fickle bitch it can be) is going well for me.

I have 18 weeks left until this race. My life is presently in a state of happy upheaval. I have no idea if I will find the time to train enough, but I'm loving my running (OMG Trail!!!!), and I feel like maybe it is loving me back a little.

As I was out on my run today, I had two realizations that I thought to share. First, one of my friends mentioned recently that running had given her more courage than she had ever had, and also more willingness to express her fire and passion (not her words, but I was a witness to that transformation). I started to reflect on my own experience with running after this. I have always been active. I was a fairly successful (and talented) equestrian in my teenage years and early 20's. I love the sport, I love the animals, I loved feeling competent.

For whatever reason, this never translated into the rest of my life. I didn't see myself as particularly smart, pretty, interesting etc. I dated guys who I knew liked me more than I would ever like them (for the most part). This sport that I loved and had so much confidence surrounding gave me very little in terms of confidence outside of the barn (maybe it was because I knew I always smelled vaguely horsey, which if you are an equestrian, is the best thing ever. If you aren't... it's fairly off putting).

When I started running distances, I found that running pushed me not only physically, but mentally. I started viewing myself as more capable in all aspects of life. At some point I realized how smart, pretty, interesting, and generally likable I am. I gave myself the space to be worth my own while in places other than the barn.

In a lot of ways, running has come to replace the horses. It isn't quite the same, but it really is something that if I dig into and commit time and energy, I will improve. I like seeing the improvement. Running has also taught me that I really can do more than I ever thought possible. It's pretty freaking sweet.

The second realization was far less profound: if you run with a back pack, people think you are a serious runner. I'm still not a serious runner. I'm just a happy woman, with some serious running to accomplish this year.

Get outside, go do something that you think you can't, and just watch how much you can grow.

PS- I start my internship at the Department of Community Health May 18. Wish me luck. It's my first real job in 3 years.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How do busy people do this?

I ran 6.3 miles last week! I'm awesome!

Seriously. How do busy people train for long races? Last week I had to travel to a city about an hour away twice. Leaving at 6:30 am each morning really cut into my run time. As a result. I did like zero miles almost.

So what did I do? I did some HIIT training and some other cardio based work outs, I did some push ups, some yoga...

Two things: this weather bouncing around between getting warmer and getting cold, it needs to stop. Second, I've got to start hitting higher miles.

But seriously. Busy people out there: how do you make time?

Monday, March 23, 2015

Keeping it (Mentally) Healthy

Last week I logged just over 37 miles, which was a great feeling.

I have a funny thing that happens: when I forget to be gentle or patient with myself, I see deer. Lots of deer. Deer when I drive, deer when I run, deer when I look out my backdoor. I haven't seen a lot of deer lately. One might argue that winter makes them more scarce, and the spring weather is encouraging them to emerge, but I feel like its an instantaneous form of feedback. If you look up deer as a spirit animal guide, you find they represent love, compassion, and gentleness, particularly toward the self. Tonight, as I sat here beating myself up about things beyond my control, the deer I had not seen in my backyard in ages just wandered through; it was an instant reminder that I deserve as much compassion as everyone else in my life.

Compassion and gentleness through this training process is the hardest part of the training. I used to be able to beat myself up, mentally and physically, in order to achieve my training goals. I can't do this any more.

Non-specific type eating disorders and exercise disorders are tricky and easy to disguise. I've told countless people over the years that my training requires a strict diet, a strict training program, a strict mindset. Half the time I wasn't training for anything, but if I told people I was, they wouldn't worry about my compulsive behaviors of tracking food and exercising to exhaustion. I've worked hard to stop these behaviors. So how do I know if I'm crossing the line back into to disordered habits and patterns?

I've learned a few things about my body: it often tells me what it needs if I shut my mind up and listen to it. My mind likes to should me: "You should run ten miles today because you ate rubens this weekend and someone asked if you were pregnant today (I'm not)" "You should eat only 1600 kcal a day" "You should lose weight to get faster"
My mind is actually a pretty boring place when I think about training. I know I'm approaching the line between healthy and disorder when I start listening too carefully to what my mind says. My mind thinks the only reason I run is to lose weight.

My body tells me so much more though. Like I ran 37 plus miles last week, and my body is a little tired this week, so maybe taking a few days to rest and do some restorative yoga might be a nice gift.
My body tells me how much I need to eat; it will gently prod me to notice I'm hungry. My body knows so much more about itself than my insistent mind. My body knows I run because I like the strength and the clarity that come with engaging in the sport.

Tonight, my deer reminded me that listening to my body and not my mind is what helps me keep this training healthy, and forgiveness, gentleness, and compassion for myself are the necessary tools for being ready to run this 50 miler in 5 months.

I am not perfect, but I am still worthy. I am not going to win this race, but I will finish it.

Monday, March 16, 2015

300 Miles

You know that accomplishment that you should celebrate, but you're just too overwhelmed to do anything about it?



I hit 300 miles for the year on Sunday. I think I hit that mark halfway through a nine and a half mile run.

This sense of missed accomplishment is a theme in my life right now. Like I'm hitting marks, but they are buried among other things, so I don't notice them until long after I've hit them.

There is a point in celebrating those marks though. I'm feeling blah about it this week, but I know once I settle back into my normal routine, I will shout my 300 miles from the mountain top.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Outside... Finally!!!!

Friends: I'm way behind where I hoped I would be at this point. I'm at 259.35 miles for the year. Which if you think about it, we are only 8 days into March. That isn't too shabby.

Thing that make me crazy: My husband's dryer doesn't actually dry stuff. Which makes life a little difficult when you need your outdoor running jacket, and it is still damp, and now smells slightly funky because it was left damp overnight. I don't mind my own funk smell, but I hate damp laundry funk.

But you know... running jacket! Because we are finally getting some weather that will not cause me to die if I run outside in it!

So... while I'm waiting for my laundry to finish drying (and hopefully stop stinking), things to contemplate today:
I'm grateful for this shift in weather, and the time outside it brings
I'm grateful to be sharing this long run day with my husband
I'm grateful to see the sun shining
I'm grateful everyone has their puppy dogs out of the house and running

Thursday, March 5, 2015

March: No more passes

I'm logging my training miles, I promise. I just haven't bothered to count them up for the last week. I'm at like... 19 miles for the week or something. It's not great, but hey. I'm doing something.

Yesterday, I mentioned that since it is no longer February, I no longer get a pass at (insert what ever I was referring to here. Running, research, joy...), and the general consensus was that the weather still was crap, and what difference does it make that it isn't February.

It's MARCH. Simply put, even if it is only (barely) 5 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, it's NOT February. I even ran outside on Sunday because it was above single digits. I only made a few miles because I was still really effing cold, but I ran outside.

Even if the ice floe I've been stuck in hasn't started to break up and start moving yet, I'm feeling like the ice is starting to make those tell tale groans that indicate a breakthrough.

I was seriously considering giving this race up a week ago.  I couldn't see myself ever making it through. Maybe I still will. This is one of the nose-to-the-grindstone-est years of my program, and I'm supposed to start looking for a job, and I'm staring down the possibility of a relocation. At least I feel like maybe it's a possibility again, and the endless Michigan super cold winter will come to an end at last. With the end of February, and the possibility of spring, my optimism seems to have return as well.

Lovelies, I hope today brings as much success as it has promise (I'm proposing my thesis today, so wish me luck). It's March. No More Passes. Go out there and do something that scares the shit out of you.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Staying Safe

Weekly milage: 30.2
Yearly total: 212.45 miles

It's been friggin cold in Michigan the last few weeks, and it will continue in this vein until at least next weekend. Yay! Running outside has been nearly impossible. Yesterday it warmed into the teens by mid-morning, so my husband and I took advantage of this.

There are two things on my mind while I write this. First, cold weather running requires a lot of thought, layers, and willingness to accept you just can't be outside for long periods of time, especially if you are a sweater like me. Not a jumper type of sweater, but like sweat dripping off my face in spite of it being 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Long runs outside really are dependent on a little bit of cooperation from the weather gods (and this true in every season, I suppose). Staying safe in the cold requires one to plan an outfit that allows for the addition or removal of layers, wind speeds or chill, and the willingness to accept the days where the treadmill might be the better bet for staying healthy and uninjured.

The second thing on my mind is a very different type of safety. Yesterday, as my husband and I were running on the bike path close to my apartment, some kids thought it would be funny/clever/smart to pull an Airsoft gun on us from a railroad trestle and shout "Give me all your money!" These kids had removed the orange tip that helps indicate the gun is an Airsoft; it looked like a scary gun. Was I in any real danger? Probably not. Even if I had been alone, and this pack of 12 year olds decided to try to beat me up, I probably could have fended them off. As soon as I realized the age of the kids, and the fact the gun wasn't actually capable of hurting me beyond superficially, I immediately became frightened not for myself, but for these young men. What if they had done this to an off-duty police officer, or someone who carries while they run just because? What if, what I view as, a REALLY STUPID prank turned into a REALLY HORRIBLE situation? What if one or more of those young kids ended up on the 10 pm news as the most recent victim of gun violence gone awry?

Runners on the whole tend to be kind, nonviolent sorts. The reaction of the running community to violence that occurs in or around it seems to trend to surprised and saddeness that someone would attack runners, because what on earth would a runner do to deserve that?

This is how I reacted: I screamed and froze (stupid, right?). One of the young men said "Lady, this is just a joke, it's not serious!" I think he was scared of getting in trouble. I realized all of these young men were either Black or Hispanic, and I realized right then and there that there was a good chance if they pulled this again, the result would not simply be a slightly freaked out 30 something year old runner. My husband looked pissed. I almost waved it off and started to run again, but I stopped, turned back and spoke to the kids. I don't know if anyone has talked to them about the state of violence in this country, but I begged them to not do this again, and to please stay safe. I told them to never pull this stunt on the wrong person (whatever that means). And please please please stay safe. I don't know if they heard me. I don't know if they made fun of me after the fact, but at least I said something that might make them stop and think about consequences of action in the future.

Which brings me to where I am now: worried about the violence these young men could elicit by pulling a really stupid prank, and worried that I haven't been concerned about the possibility of violence to my own person while running. I'm not a stupid runner. I avoid the places I know I'm supposed to avoid after dark, and I wear bright colors if I'm running somewhere hunting is allowed. I've never felt unsafe when I run. Is this naivety? Is this a stupid one off thing that I never need to think about again? Should I get a giant dog for a running partner (actually, I think this is a good idea any way... but there are several reasons for this)?

Two things I wish I had done: demanded the kids go home and tell their mothers how much they love them, and demanded each one of them hug me. That's the runner in me, I think. Hug it out. It will be okay.

In this cold weather, promise me two things: you will dress in layers if you go for a run, and forgive yourself for not being able to be outside as long as you would like to be. As for violence, what can we do? Do our best to be kind, and hope that our kindness will always win out. A weak suit of armor, but something I still feel like I can stand behind. And maybe get a big dog that needs a lot of exercise.