endorphins

A couple of weeks ago, Jenna (you should visit her blog…she’s hilarious) and I started running together in the mornings. What this means is that I am up every morning at 5:15 so I can get out the door and meet Jenna for our morning run. And by “run” I mean I run the 1.5 miles to meet her…then we walk and talk (sometimes we jog) for about 30 minutes, and then I run home. 

Initially, the getting up in the morning thing was a little rough. And Jenna, bless her heart, does not have to get up nearly as early as I have to, and yet she does. But now, it’s like my morning coffee (or Diet Coke, in my case). It wakes me up. It starts my day off exactly as a day should start…with a body pumped full of endorphins. And I get to work out all of my little issues (anxiety, stress, whatever the issue of the day might be) before I do anything else.
Jenna’s in Utah this week. I’m super sad. But I’m determined to continue the exercising, because not only has it benefited me in all the ways I’ve listed, I have found that my weird mood swings have stabilized quite a bit. And I have fallen in love with exercise again. I mean, in LOVE. And it has become my go to medicine. 
Case in point. Yesterday, I got back from a lovely trip to Rhode Island (same as last year with some new and different people, oh and a hurricane) and I was seriously depressed for a multiplicity of reasons. Like, lying on my bed, crying into my pillow depressed. Let’s be honest, I was pretty tired, too. Anyway, I was going to just lie there crying, but then I had this lovely vision of a bike ride and off I went. And two loops around Central Park later, I was fine. 
Now, I just need to not forget this. Somehow, when life gets busy and stressful and I need exercise the most, it’s the first thing to go. I’m hoping between Jenna and playing on two soccer teams this fall that this will not happen. The question is, will she still be willing to meet me at the butt crack of dawn when the world is freezing and covered in snow/ice. (I’m thinking probably not, since she basically told me as much, but a girl can dream, right…?)

fear

I started reading yet another YA dystopian fiction book a couple of days ago; Divergent by Veronica Roth. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m loving it so far. Anyway, there’s this great part in the book where Tris, the main character, is discovering what it means to be Dauntless (one of five factions). She had always imagined the Dauntless to be fearless, but the reality is different:

“I used to think the Dauntless were fearless. That is how they seemed, anyway. But maybe what I saw was actually fear under control.”

Recently, someone asked me what I was afraid of and there wasn’t really anything that came to mind, barring losing people I love. But as I thought about it more, in the context of the quote above, I realized that I am actually afraid of a lot of things. The difference is I don’t let it control me. Or at least I try not to.

A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for a running class in an effort to get faster. As soon as I did it, I regretted it. I know I’m a slow runner, but I don’t worry about it because I just go by myself and no one is paying attention to how slow I am. But then I had to go and sign myself up for a class that was going to put my slowness in the spotlight.

Last week was the first week. Work was crazy. I didn’t bring my running clothes with me because I thought I’d have time to go home and change. In hindsight, I think this was my subconscious way of getting out of the class. And as it turned out, I didn’t make it. I did the workout later. On my own. In the comfort of anonymity and solitude. And I was relieved.

Now, I’m an adult. I have a job. I pay my own bills. If I want to throw perfectly good money down the drain because I’m too scared to follow through on a class that stretches me way outside of my comfort zone, in theory I can do that. In practice, however, I can’t.

So this week, I made sure I was ready to go (it helps that my coworker is taking the class with me…it also hurts because she’s a much faster runner than I am). And it was every bit as scary and difficult as I thought it would be. And unlike soccer, I didn’t discover that my skills are actually much better than I anticipated. I was just as slow as I thought I would be. And yet, at the end of the class, I felt good for facing my fear and just doing it.

Does that mean I’m excited for next week? Of course not. But will it be a little easier to at least want to do it? Let’s hope so because I’m doing it either way.

exactly what i needed

This weekend I was supposed to be running a half marathon in Philadelphia with my lovely friend Anne. Sadly, neither one of us was really in a good place to do it…both struggling with various injuries. Thankfully, it would appear that my calf is almost back to normal, but running a half marathon probably would not have been the best idea. So, instead, I decided that it would be the perfect weekend to go visit Anne in DC before she and her husband move to Africa for the next two years.

Best. Idea. Ever.

Anne texted me on Thursday to ask me what I wanted to do. My response was “Nothing”. I’ve been to DC before and done the tourist thing, but I live in the most touristy city in the US and the last thing I wanted to do was push through crowds of tourists to see sites I’ve already seen. Thankfully, she was on board with that. So, we suburbed it up all weekend, which included going out to eat, going for a walk to get ice cream, laying by the pool until it started raining, and a little window shopping. It was lovely.

I realize that my life is filled with girl time and I have the most amazing girlfriends, but there’s something that I really appreciate about my happily married girlfriends and the time I get to spend with them. I think sometimes it’s so easy being single and having a bunch of single friends to create this fantasy about married life. (I know all of you married ladies are laughing right now, but try and remember what life was like when you were single…try and contain yourselves.)

And despite what you all might be thinking, it’s not because it makes me realize how great my single life is…I generally appreciate that. I think it’s that it gives me hope and makes me realize that it’s worth waiting for that guy who really wants to be with me and appreciates everything I have to offer. My girlfriends have all married great guys. None are perfect, nor are my girlfriends, nor are their marriages, but they are good. And they are happy. And isn’t that worth waiting for?

Um, on top of all that, I just love Anne. She’s one of my favorite people. And while we weren’t able to run the half marathon this weekend, we did relive some great St. George memories and we made plans for our next race: Casablanca, Morocco in October 2012. My goal was to run another marathon next year and doesn’t that just seem dreamy? I’m trying to convince her to run the Great Wall Marathon after that, but I’m not sure she’s going to be having it.

Oh, and we also planned out the next 10 years of my life. But I’m going to go ahead and keep that to myself for now…but I’m kind of excited! Such a lovely weekend with such a lovely friend.

canyonlands pr

Last Saturday was the big day. I wasn’t sure what to expect. After the horrible run I had had the previous Saturday, I just wasn’t feeling super confident about the run. That said, I was excited to be doing and I was really excited to be running it with my brother and sister-in-law. And by “with” I mean that we would all be running the same course…

We had to be on the buses to get to the starting line by 8:00 am for the race which started at 10. Last year, this was MISERABLE. It was so cold I literally wasn’t sure I was going to make it. But this year…20 degrees warmer and it was totally manageable. The one concern was the wind. And it proved to be a serious issue.

The routine, pre-race, is to have this super yummy protein shake that Cherity makes and a half a banana. Right before the race, Cherity gave me some pills that are supposed to help with lactic acid build up or something. (It’s a good thing I was never a club girl because I’m sure if someone had handed me a pill and told me it would give me energy, I probably would have taken it.) I popped some ibuprofen, as well. Normally, I bring some with me too, but I just didn’t want to this year. In fact, the only things I had with me were Shot Bloks and a Red Bull shot…both of which zipped into my shirt.

The first two miles were misery. Seriously, I’ve never struggled with muscle pain, but my calves were on FIRE! I was really worried. And really frustrated. But then, somewhere during the third mile, the pain finally went away. Maybe that’s when the ibuprofen kicked in?

While the wind sucked (12 miles of headwinds with only the occasional–and very minor–breaks), the temperature was perfect and it was just a little overcast. Ideal. I don’t know if it was the Red Bull shot or the pills I popped, or just some will power, but during the first 10 miles I was able to keep a great pace. I was averaging exactly where I wanted to. At the 10 mile marker, I figured out my time should I continue to run at the same pace. And then I watched as that time slipped from my grasp.

By mile 11, my feet were really hurting. I knew I had at least one blister, and while it was manageable, I just couldn’t keep going at that pace. So I slowed down. And then I walked for a while. Then I ran some more. And so an so forth… My dad, sister, and my brother’s two kids were all still hanging out on the street outside our condo when I walked past (there was no saving face at this point…I had to walk for a while). It was so fun to have them there and be able to say hi.

When I got to the last mile, I was determined to run it. And then that determination just went away. I was exhausted. But I managed to pull it together for the last quarter mile or so. Yeah. It was rough. But I finished. And I finished at exactly the time I had said was the maximum I would be happy with. Exactly 10 minutes faster than last year. And a PR for me on this course!!!

And, by way of information (and because I was curious and couldn’t remember) I looked up my time for the fastest half I’ve ever run; 24 minutes faster than what I ran this one at. This is my new goal for the third half I will run this year. I’m not sure when or where I’m going to run the third one, but that’s my goal and I really think I can do it. As for the number two…it is eight weeks away in Philadelphia and I will be doing it with the lovely Anne. My goal for that…cut 10 more minutes. I know that sounds ambitious, but I have a plan. Wish me luck!

ETA: A quick shout out to my brother and sister-in-law. Cherity cut 13 minutes from her time last year (beating my all time PR)! And Justin cut 29 minutes off his time!!! Talk about super stars! I’m so glad that they were willing to do this with me last year and I’m so proud of my sister-in-law who I remember saying at one point in time that she never had any desire to run that far. She’s amazing!!!

running fail (or "my need for high achievement is ruining my life")

On Thursday I was lucky enough to get an hour with the head of HR at my company. This is kind of a big deal and one of the reasons I chose to come work for this company. He is just a really great man and even with all he has going on he’s willing to make time for me. Anyway, not the point. The point is that during this conversation, he told me about an article one of his friends is writing for HBR about people who have a high need for achievement. We discussed this at length as it relates to work and life, etc. We talked about the need to achieve vs. actual ambition. Two very different concepts, and not the point of this post, but I will say that I am motivated by my need to achieve and not actual ambition (i.e. if there was no one to tell about my running, I probably wouldn’t do it). And “motivated” is probably too positive a word to describe what is actually going on. I’d almost call it a disease…like my other diseases this one is in my head and all about behavior.

So, what does this have to do with running? I will tell you.

I decided, since I had run 12 miles the Saturday before and now mentally know I can finish a half marathon this coming Saturday, that I would only run six miles on Saturday, but that I would actually push myself to run those six miles like it was a race. My mentoring schedule got switched, so I got to sleep in, and didn’t end up heading out the door until about 1:00 pm.

When I left my apartment, something felt off on my hands. I checked to see if I had rings on (I wear rings every day, but not when I run…I’m kind particular about such things). No. No rings on my fingers. I figured maybe it was that. When I got to the park (remember how “the park” is “Central Park”? I wonder if that will ever stop being special for me…) I realized what I had forgotten. My watch. I debated for a couple of minutes whether to walk back home and get it. I decided it wasn’t worth it. While the park is only a couple of blocks from me, those are Avenue blocks, not Street blocks (ie about 1/2 a mile in total) and I had a feeling if I went home, I wouldn’t leave again.

I told myself this would be good. I could run without the pressure of a watch. I could just run to run. And that lie worked for about 2.5 miles. And then sheer willpower kept me running for the next 1/2 mile. And then…I just gave up. I stopped caring if I was running or walking. If I wasn’t going to be able to say how fast (or slow) I’d done it, what was the point? And that’s when I realized that I have a serious achievement issue. I knew this when it came to jobs. It’s not likely I will ever be an entrepreneur because it’s the competition factor that makes me work as hard as I do. I like being compared to people…when I know I will win.

You might be asking yourself how that works with running if I’m so slow. It’s a good question. The way it works with running is this. I know I can’t beat anyone else, so I just run against myself. And if you’ve ever been running with me, you’ll know that unless we pace similarly, I will just quit and let you go ahead. I can’t stand to be the one holding someone back…and knowing that I’m holding someone back…and knowing that I’m not as “good” as someone else. This is a serious flaw. And it’s not news to me, but it was seriously so hilarious (read: sickening) to see it play out like this so soon after my conversation with the big boss.

Needless to say, my watch is at the top of my packing list for my trip tomorrow. And here’s hoping that my total lack of running on Saturday (I get that three miles is still something, but when you compare it to 13.1, it’s kind of small beans) will not kill me in Moab. And with that, I must go pack. I have to be at work early tomorrow and I head to the airport straight from the office. Wish me luck!!!