The Perfect Storm

 

According to Wikipedia, doesn’t every great blogger refer to Wikipedia when they need information, a perfect storm is “a confluence of events that drastically aggravates a situation.”  Or as a person who was raised in Oklahoma and have been around when the weathermen begin to go crazy weeks before storms come into the state, I begin to think of those moments when all the right things are happening to create a big weather event a perfect storm.

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Looking good for 44!  Happy Birthday to me!

Now I am not saying that this week was a “perfect storm” in the form of a weather event but more of a “perfect storm” for many moments of melt down in my life.  Okay maybe that is a little much but it was a tough week and this was the only way I could think of it.  (If you can’t handle any whining now might be the time to step away and come back tomorrow for motivational Monday! 😉  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

As many of you know I am training for my 6th marathon and have tried a new training plan.  This one had me doing up to 70 miles in one week.  I have worked harder than ever before to get better at this crazy marathon thing.  I have felt pretty good the whole time and have completed more miles in a short amount of time than ever before.  For the month of April alone I ran 286.17 miles.  That is more miles than I even drive in a month.

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My 16 mile bike ride from this week.

Anyway, things have been going well and I have felt very confident that this was going to be my best marathon ever!  Then on Monday morning of this week (the day after my last 20 miler) I woke up with so much calf pain in my left leg, I struggled to walk and my mind took over.  I started to doubt I could complete my marathon in 3 short weeks, I started to count my dreams out of ever getting a Boston Qualifying time.  (Can you say, Drama queen much, I know!)

This was one ingredient to my “perfect storm”.  In fact here are all the “confluence of events” that made this week my perfect storm.  One: calf pain, Two: taper time – basically time to reduce the amount of running to prepare for my marathon.  During this time I am usually very anxious because I start to visual the race and how I am going to handle it all and my expectations begin to really come into play.  Third: hormones!  For those that don’t have it, that time of the month is no cakewalk and for me I tend to be even more emotional during it.  Four: added work stressors, really no need to explain that one, we all have them.  Five: Turning a year older.  Not really that stressful but I thought I would throw it in because it was an added event that happened this week.  All the ingredients were present for the “perfect storm” in my mind this week.

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14 miles almost all pain free!

I am happy to report that I survived it!  I didn’t get the t-shirt but I made it through.  Thank goodness I work really hard to stay motivated and in the present moment. Here are some tips for how I survived:

  1. Slowed things down and tried even harder to stay in the present moment. Taking a deep breath when I felt overwhelmed with not only the pain but moments at work when I thought I couldn’t handle anything else.
  2. Went for a massage! I highly recommend them.  I go at least once a month so my therapist knows me pretty well and she was able to really work my legs and hips so I felt so much better.
  3. Spent time doing other things with my family. You know those people you don’t see when you are running 70 miles a week and working a full time job.  I find it is so much better to stay busy than sitting around feeling bad for myself.
  4. Slowly easing back into running and riding my bike more. Even though the plan called for a certain amount of runs and mileage, I was able to not run as much and realize that all my training will not go away if I take some time off or take things a little slower.  In fact, I might even feel better and more prepared for the race.  Plus I was able to take my bike out and go for a nice relaxing 16 mile bike ride, which I have not done in forever!
  5. Finally, looking at my last plans and results. I know this sounds weird but for me I was able to look through my running journal and my tracking miles and realize that I am farther along than I have ever been before and I am prepared (well as long as I don’t just sit on my butt for the next 2 weeks).  It was a great boost of confidence.
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Stretching and rolling while being protected from the winds and cold and happy that “I got this!” feeling is back!

So I guess what I am saying is that when faced with the perfect storm, if you are prepared you can make it through.  Your family me get tired of you for the week because there might be some whining, but if take a breath, take control of your mind, you can make it through.

Anyone else ever struggle with this?  How did you make it through your taper time?

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My second job…

 

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In the midst of my 18 miler a few weeks ago.

As I was leaving my work today and headed home to change for my workout/run the thought popped into my head that I was actually headed to my second job.  I don’t know about you but when you work hard all day the thought of going to your second job (that pays you but only with better performance and healthier life/not financially) I get a little overwhelmed because I’m tired.

I tried my best to change the thought, get excited about the 9 miles I had ahead of me but no matter how hard I tried it was just not happening.  I went to the gym and pounded out 3.5 miles on the treadmill and then the sun came out so I decided to jump off the mill and head home to complete the last 5.5 miles.  I even stopped 3 miles in and helped an elderly lady with her trash bins since tomorrow is trash day (she informed me).  Always glad to help and take a break.  She was very cute in asking me how far I was going and how wonderful that is for me.  If she only knew I was really just trying to avoid the run by helping her.  I probably would have cleaned her house if it would have qualified as my 9 mile run.

I know we all have bad runs and not every run is going to be a moment where I think, “woohoo, I can’t wait to work out this evening, let’s do this.”  Today was definitely not that moment!

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Recent recovery run through the woods

I remember when my friend Judy was doing this training plan for the first time and her and I were chatting.  She mentioned that she was feeling tired and ready for it to be over.

I don’t think I am there, yet.  I think I am ready for the race to be here, to put this training plan to the test.  After my 20 mile race I feel pretty good and last weekend’s 22 miler was strong.  I already feel ready for the marathon but know that these last 7 weeks are crucial to keep this all going and then of course the all-important taper.

Tomorrow I have a 14 miler on the plan and I really need to get out of the mode of thinking of this running as my 2nd job. I need to change the thoughts to a little more positive.  Like what a huge accomplishment I have already completed this month with 113 miles completed in only 12 days.  May not be an actual 2nd job but is sure does take up a lot of my evenings.

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This weekends 22 miler

So my thoughts now are how thankful I am that I get to do this.  That I do have the time in the evenings to put in the time, the mileage and the effort to all this training.  I can hardly wait to get to that moment in the marathon when I cross over that starting line and know I am prepared.  I have done everything I need to do to get there and it will be only 26.2 miles to complete this path (well until the training for the NYC marathon starts).  No longer my 2nd job but something I “get to do” because not everyone has these opportunities.

How is your training going?  Any struggles?  Feeling ready?

It doesn’t seem to get easier….

LifeWe all know life isn’t fair, okay if you didn’t know, life is not fair.  Well life also has times in it that don’t get easier.  I had this epiphany while making dinner.  I know this is going to sound strange but bear with me….

You know when you are making chicken nuggets and you dip them in flour, then in egg and then in the breadcrumbs and your fingers get all covered and it actually gets a little more difficult to make instead of easier because you get in a rhythm.  So you have to stop clean up your hands and start again, sometimes you have to do this multiple times but in the end it is worth it.

I know, I know when did I turn this blog into a blog about cooking?  Really that seems to be the only time today I was able to process everything that happened so here goes with that explanation:

Let’s start with the running…. Today was torrential down pours when I left work so it meant off to the gym I went.  On the training plan today was 9 miles with 10/100m strides and it was to be done on the dreadmill.  Really it wasn’t that bad but it was not easy.  In fact, I was hopeful that it would be a little easier than the 15 miles I completed on the treadmill on Sunday (hey the windchill was in the double digit negative degrees, I didn’t want to freeze to death!).  My hopes of easier where dashed when I had to jump off for a pit stop at mile 3.25, then dropped my GU fuel at mile 5 but finally completed the 9 miles with a 9min pace.  Not too bad but really not any easier than the 15 miler the 2 days before.

The real moment of not getting any easier came from work today when I found out a client who I use to work with before I changed jobs to Program Director, passed away from an overdose over the weekend.  I know the reality of the work I do.  In my state alone 4 people die from overdose every day and I always say that I can’t save people but I can help them if they are ready to work their butts off to do the work to save themselves.  It just does not get an easier.  That is probably why I stay so passionate about my work.  I am always trying to make client’s experiences better, to reach more people, and to do the best I can.  At the end of the day, it does not get any easier to move past a death of a client.  But Dave reminds me to focus on those that are continuing to flourish, to make the changes they need to make and to face life on life’s terms.

So really I don’t want it to get easier, I will continue to work my butt off to run farther, train harder, and set new running goals.  I will also be thankful for these moments that keep me working harder for my clients and the reminder that all I can do is my best.

By the way, the nuggets were worth it.  I like them better than the store bought ones that would have been a lot easier!

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Feeling Fearful…

fearfulI know this might sound a little crazy but this weekend I was not myself.  I woke up on Sunday morning with the expectation to go for a long run on a beautiful day.  But that was not to be.  When I placed my foot on the ground, my whole leg hurt so bad that I could hardly walk.  I still tried to rehab it all morning.  Foam rolled, had Dave rub my leg and some stretching with no good results.  Not only did this not help but I started to become stressed about my next half marathon which led me to “I will never run again”!

Wow, isn’t it amazing how fast fear takes over our thoughts?!

I was also in a very bad mood because when I get scared I go to a very bad place, not to mention I use running/exercise as my mood stabilizer anyway.  I was glad my family was away for the day because I spent the day struggling through and kind of moping.  It seemed like everything was going wrong too.  I went grocery shopping and when I got home I dropped a whole gallon of milk on the floor when trying to put it on the counter.  If you have ever heard the expression “don’t cry over spilt milk” and thought it was crazy, you have never spilt a full gallon of milk all over your tile floor, under the appliances and cabinets and need I mention the fact that my leg was killing me and oh yeah I had not run since Thanksgiving and I was under the impression I would never run again!

The fear was real…

On Monday, I still had pain.  It was getting a little better but yet I was still concerned.  I’ve worked hard for the past 5 years staying in shape.  Even on Sunday when I was struggling with pain I went to the gym and rode the bike and did some stretching.  Monday I also went to the gym and rode the bike and got my free chair massage which helped for a little while.

This morning I woke up and was pretty much pain free.  Not sure how that happened but I was really thankful.  I was able to go to the gym after work and run 5 miles, pain free.  Just like that the pain was gone!  It seems really strange.  My focus was back and now I can focus once again on my training for my next race.  (But I am still trying to figure out what happened in my leg that caused the pain)

Isn’t it crazy how things can change very quickly in our lives?  Isn’t it crazy how we can go from perfectly normal (okay I am not perfectly normal but normal for me) to a crazy stress bag overnight?  I can go from being very confident that I can complete anything I try to I can never do this again?

When we take a moment to step back and face the fear that is happening in our lives, label it, we are able to come up with a plan to overcome it.  But often we just get swallowed up by it.  We have a pity party in it, we don’t look for a better outcome, a positive solution.

I like to think if just like that my running days were over, I could find something I liked to do to stay healthy maybe some crossfit (I see a lot of friends doing that).  I usually can reframe just about anything into a positive solution.  Life is short and I don’t know about you but living in fear is not where I want to live.  Of course having a good run at the gym really did help my thoughts go from fear to “I can handle this.” fearful1

Half Marathon #11 – Wolf Hollow

IMG_2994I don’t usually do Half Marathon recaps in fact I’m not real good with many race recaps except those big crazy Marathons, which by the way I just signed up for Marathon #6 – Vermont City at the end of May, I am really starting to think I’m crazy but that is for another post.

Anyway, today was the Wolf Hollow Half Marathon.  What I thought was going to be a normal somewhat flat rail trail run (I run a paved rail trail all the time and it is mostly flat and paved) turned in to a jaunt through the woods where most of it was on soft surface/gravel/dirt/leaves/pine needles and it was mostly flat but had some killer hills at the times when we never really want them, which during a half marathon I believe is all the time.  This is not to say that it was not fun.  I really did enjoy it.  I went out with the intent to have fun.  In fact Dave asked me what I thought I would run and I said I wanted to keep it under 9 min miles and that is what I did.  Just 600 of my closest running friends doing a long run and getting a medal and t-shirt at the end.  My idea of how to spend a Sunday morning.  🙂

Near mile 9.5 I met Ian who told me that he had been following me for most of the race.  Usually we would call this person a STALKER but in the running world, somehow we are flattered that someone would pace off of us.  Made me feel good.  Since I was just having fun and quite frankly I needed someone to help me through the toughest part of the course which was two huge hills we began to chat.  Always fun is the conversation where we continue to tell each other that they can go ahead if they want to because I don’t want to slow you down and then we both realize that really we have been running the same race the whole time so why not finish together.

Ian and I finishing the Half together!

Ian and I finishing the Half together!

It was great to get through the tough hills pushing each other (sometimes physically because around mile 11 and 12 when you are going up hills running in a straight line is optional).  Also nice is to have someone pushing you when you think you are giving it your all and the other person says, “I think you can do more” and out of the blue you find that extra gear.  It was a great race.  As we crossed the finish line we exchanged hugs, told each other congrats, oh and I introduced him to Dave so there would be no crazy questions about why I am hugging this random stranger.

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Getting for the race. A little chilly and a little rain, perfect for running! 🙂 One happy girl!

This is why I love running.  I love going out for a race, enjoying the run, facing new challenges and meeting people along the way.  My new friend Ian and I talked about races, running, family, work, and why we run.  For him it’s a stress relief from being an Assistant principal at a local middle school.  Gotta keep up with those crazy middle schoolers under control.  For me we all know it is therapy.  I know when I don’t exercise I am a bear and really I am shocked about how much time I spend at the gym and out on my runs but I know if I don’t do it, everything else suffers.

Since today was a essentially a trail run and trail running is a lot different then road running, I know that there will be muscles that hurt tomorrow, probably because I can already feel them.  Here is hoping I can move.

If you are in New Hampshire in November, I would really encourage you to run this race.  It’s a double loop so you get to see the trail the first time and then the second time around you get to dread the hills but find a friend and you can make it through the second loop!  🙂

Ever find a friend during a race?  Dave says I always do!  What can I say, I’m very social.  🙂

Enjoy some more pics from today:

The beginning of the race.  So happy to be moving.

The beginning of the race. So happy to be moving.

Mile 8, this is the last big hill you do at mile 12 too.  Such a pretty area to run in.

Mile 8, this is the last big hill you run at mile 12 too. Such a pretty area to run in. (the pic is a little blurry because I’m so fast or Dave was cold and shaking.  I’m going with my speed.)

Happy to be done and starting to get really cold.  What you dont see is me shaking!

Happy to be done and starting to get really cold. What you don’t see is me shaking!

My new turkey running socks.  Seemed fitting for the race right before Thanksgiving.

My new turkey running socks. Seemed fitting for the race right before Thanksgiving.

The final results.  Not to bad.  I was 57th out of 316 women and 14th out of 92 in my age group.  I will take it!

The final results. Not to bad. I was 57th out of 316 women and 14th out of 92 in my age group. I will take it!

 

Aha Moment

This week I had one of those moments.  One of those moments when you feel like you might actually be understanding what the world/universe or in my case my higher power (I call mine God) is trying to teach you.  This is how it happened….

Daily I post a motivational type quote on my facebook page.  I have been doing this now for about 2 years or more and usually it is because the quotes are something I need to be reminded of or need to think about for the day.  On Wednesday I posted this quote:

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This was to remind me as I embarked on my 12 hour + day of meetings to just take it slowly and you will make it through or at least I thought that was why I posted it.

Then while in my first of four long meetings a colleague gave a presentation and at the end of the presentation she had this same quote.  That was when I felt like it was much more than a perseverance quote I posted on facebook because what are the odds.  I had never even heard this quote before I posted it on Wednesday morning.

I really began to think how does this quote apply to more in my life?  Over the past couple of days I have been thinking about it and trying to figure that out.

In my job which can be very overwhelming right now because I am basically learning how to run a million dollar business while running a million dollar business, I need to learn to take things slowly.  Set up the right procedures and policies and not just try to put a temporary fix on the problems because that will not work.  Also I need to not be so hard on myself.  In reality, I have only been the Director for 2 months and the facility has only been open for a little over 3 months.

In my running, especially my marathon training, there is so much to learn.  Yes I have completed 5 marathons, 10 half marathons and numerous other races, but I am nowhere close to where I want to be as far as how fast I want to be.  I hope to get there but I know that it might happen in time or it might not.  I need to enjoy the pace.  It might be happening slowly but as long as I don’t stop at least I am making progress.

Ever have one of these (as Oprah calls it) Aha Moments?