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?

When life interrupts…

Ever have one of those weeks that is well planned out with a few things that might interfere only to have the things that might interfere actually take over and take control?  That pretty much describes my training this past week.

Today I actually had to talk myself down from some anxiety due to the fact that for the second time this week I would not be able to put in all the miles that my plan called for.  One of the thoughts that really helped was just telling myself that I am not sponsored by a company so I have to work and when work goes a little longer than planned I still have to pay the bills.  Also, I have been struggling with some shoe/foot issues so those needed to be addressed this week as well and a little extra rest will be helpful or at least that is what I am saying to myself.

In saying all that, I have still been able to run every day except my rest day and will still finish the week on Sunday with mileage in the 40’s.  Not as great as last week’s 68 miles but sometimes plans have to change when life interrupts….

Ever have moments/weeks like this?  What did you do to get back on track?

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

Slowing down and being resistant

resistanceI don’t know about you but slowing down is a struggle for me.  In everyday life, with everyday situations I work my hardest to get the outcome I want and know if I slow down I may not get it.  I work hard and want to reap the rewards.  But sometimes it takes slowing down to reap the rewards.

I know, I know, that does not make sense.  Here is my take on it.  We need to slow down to enjoy the journey.  We need to slow down and look around and appreciate what is there.  Appreciate what we are doing, the process.  Life is more about the journey than the end product.  And best of all I think the end product will be better because we have taken the time to enjoy the ride (Oh and life is a ride!).

Right now at our house there is a LOT of things up in the air.  One example is my house itself.  We are in the middle or mid beginning of remodeling.  Not quite sure how to describe it other than we have our living room floor in but plywood in the kitchen and bathroom, a toilet on our back porch and half my kitchen in my living room (which does make it easy to get a drink since the fridge is only 10 feet away from the couch!).   I want to speed this process up because it sucks to come home to chaos at the end of the day.  Also we have some transitions in jobs that are happening and that is a stressor I would much rather skip thank you very much!

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My local rail trail. What a beautiful place to run.

So how do I handle these things and not be so resistant to change, enjoy the change and the adventure.  Well for me, I try something new with running.  Why not?  It’s my stress reliever!  Today I began working on slowing down my running.  I know it sounds weird that I would try to slow down when most of the time we are all trying to speed up but I’ve been trying to figure out how to go father and keep a stronger pace.  All the stuff I have been reading has been talking about slowing down to be able to run further and actually in the end go faster.  I don’t know about you but I struggle to slow down and then by the end of my runs I am pushing myself to the extreme and then I am faster but at the expense of the rest of my body.  I’m exhausted, my old, tired body becomes more sore and struggles in the repair stage/rest stage.

Today I worked on trying to stay in a low intensity state of mind and time by running at what I thought was a low intensity.  You are supposed to do this with a heart rate monitor but I forgot mine so I went by feel.  I figured that if I went at least a minute slower than what I thought, I would be about 80% of my effort and hopefully in the low intensity area.  Not sure where I got a minute from but when I read about elite athletes they mentioned running some runs 2 mins slower than their actual race pace.  Since I am a weekend warrior, I figured one minute would be good.  The whole philosophy is to run most of your training runs at low intensity effort and the other 20% at high or moderate intensity.  Here is a link for a better description from Running Times.

I’m hoping it works.  Today it felt pretty good.

That brings me back to slowing down…

IMG_1475At first it was hard.  It was hard to wrap my head around being outside doing the 10 mile distance and it taking longer than usual.  It was hard to keep a slower pace.  It was hard to hold back.  But I started to get out of my head, look around a little more, just enjoy the fact I was doing something I really enjoy and feel each step.  It began to get easier, I started saying “Hi” to everyone on the trail, smiled a little more, and enjoyed the breeze at my back (then hitting me in the face on the return).  The benefit was that I enjoyed the journey.  When I got done, I was ready to be done, but I wasn’t hurting from pushing too hard, I wasn’t upset that it was in the 80’s and I should have gone out earlier, I was relaxed.  I felt like I listened to my body and my head was in a better place.  Overall I would say it was a success and I am looking forward to training for my next marathon this way and hoping that it will work.  And as far as slowing down and enjoying my everyday life journey, that still needs work but I think I learned some things to help:

1) Quit being resistant!

2) Change is okay and necessary.

3) I need to smile more and enjoy the journey.

4) Stay in the present moment embrace what is going on maybe even finding solace in the chaos.

5) The change will make you better and stronger!

It’s amazing what a good long run will do for your brain!  🙂  Happy Running!

 Anyone ever tried this plan?  Did it work for you?  How about slowing down in general, do you struggle with this as much as I do?

Quick snack after the run.  Cold pizza and a protein drink.  Probably should work on my diet next!  :-)

Quick snack after the run. Cold pizza and a protein drink. Probably should work on my diet next! 🙂

 

Holding on too long…

let-go-3First let me say that this is not something I’m struggling with personally right now but something I was thinking about.

Anyway, I was thinking that we tend to hold on to things too long.  Sometimes its jobs, sometimes its friendships, sometimes its other relationships.  Then I started to think about why.  Why do we hold on to things even when we are not happy?  Why hold on even though we know there are better things out there or at least we hope there is?  Why do we get stuck in the same routine and not push ourselves to change?  And most of all why do we hold on when the only emotional gain is only one of knowing you have the security but is that how you really want to live?

I feel like the biggest factor that keeps us stuck or holding on and unwilling to change is FEAR.  We are scared of the unknown.  We are scared of change.  We are fearful of how life will be if we let go and move on. let go

I have had many times in my life where I have had to face fears and brave the unknown.  Sometimes it went well, other times it was okay but most of all, it was never as bad as I made it in my head.  In my head I could imagine the worst possible thing and just knew it was going to happen.  But really much to my surprise it was never as bad as what I thought it would be.

In my work we have anagrams for the letters of FEAR

F**K

Everything

And

Run

Or

Face

Everything

And

Recover

I think you can use the word recover to mean lots of things.  Recover from the emotional loss you have from hanging on to long, recover and figure out what you want from life, and recover spiritually and mentally in your life to make the most of what you have.  We are all on this planet for way to short a time to be stuck in fear and not learning to let go and move forward.  It’s time to make the changes you want to make in your life even if it means leaping out of your comfort zone to do it.  Believe me, it will be worth it.

How do you let go?  Sometimes it happens slowly by making small changes while others you will be thrown into the need to change by life.  But as much as you can, don’t be fearful, be planful (new word I just made up).  Take a deep breath, decide what you want, and make a plan on how to get from point A to B.  You might need options of C,D, or E but know that you have control and can make it work.  I didn’t learn how to run a marathon all at once and even still after running three and many miles under my feet am I even beginning to understand how to do things.  But I have a plan and I’m facing that fear very planfully!

Take the leap to let go and give a new plan a try.

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Sunday Fun Day = Long Run Day (Juneathon 8/30)

Hydrating, compression socks, light reading, and a watch cat!

Hydrating, compression socks, light reading, and a watch cat!

What does your Sunday bring?

Well my Sunday is usually filled with a long run and I am glad to say that I am back to keeping that tradition.  Today’s run was like yesterday’s run, HOT.  I even got outside almost two hours sooner.  What the heck!

This was more of a survival run (at least that is what I kept telling myself).

“Just  4 more miles”

“you can do this for another 3”

“you got this less than 2”

And

“finally, yippee, the end!”

Let’s not talk about the first 4 miles that sounded something like this

“what the heck, why is it so hot”

“shade, I need shade”

“on your left” (oh I was on a rail trail with bikers and walkers packing the trail and I did pass one or two walkers not bikers.  I’m not that fast!)

“I could make this a short run”

“please keep that dog from running out in front of me”

“glad I brought this water”

“wonder if I can get a ride on the back of one of those bikes?”

“I hope if I pass out, someone stops!”

All in all it was a good day, mainly because even though it was hot, it felt good to run and I am so thankful that I can.

Hope you had a great weekend!

 Juneathon update:

8 mile run (9:00 min pace, not fast but done)

 Happy 8th day of Juneathon!

Looking for Bling…

pretty cool medal to add to the collection

pretty cool medal to add to the collection

I have to admit, I look at the race bling before I enter a race.  I even sometimes don’t even enter a race if they don’t give away medals at the end.  Not sure why I do this but I guess it could be because I am wanting a reward for working so hard to get to the finish line.  (Please don’t say I’m the only one who does this)  There are some races I run because they were what I started with and they were the ones that pushed me to go farther, like the Lone Gull 10K in September.  I will never be in the top three who gets awards but my time has gotten better each race and I like to push myself in it because although it runs along the ocean it also has challenging spots that are very hilly.

But back to the bling….

The really cool medals!

The really cool medals!  Wine stoppers

I once signed up for a race the night before because the medal was so cool and I needed to do a long run that weekend anyway so why not do it with other running friends.  This year’s medal for the OKC marathon is huge and weighs a ton.  I didn’t realize how big it was until I put it next to last year’s while I was hanging in my room.  I guess it has lots of semblance too since it was the “Worst Best Marathon Ever” so it better be a big reward.

OKC marathon medal.  On the left is this years, in the middle is last years, and at the end is the year before.

OKC marathon medal. On the left is this years, in the middle is last years, and at the end is the year before.

As I prepare for this weekend’s half marathon, I find myself not real excited about the bling because it  isn’t that great.  Shame on me! I’m excited about the race because it is the same course as my PR in February and then I was still training for the marathon, now I’ve run the marathon and this should be a relaxing run by the ocean on what is supposed to be a beautiful weekend.  Not saying I’m going to PR but it would be ideal conditions.

Oh I get side tracked so easy….

Anyway the bling…. I started thinking after my short run at the gym today that really I get more than any race bling has to offer.  Through all these years (about 4 years) of training, I have gotten into incredible shape.  Not that I’m bragging but I found a couple of abs (which is nice, now I’d like to find the rest of the six pack), my butt is very perky, and I have great legs if I do say so myself.  Now I feel like I’m bragging but that is not what it is.  It is more I can visibly see the changes in my body.  For my insides, I make better choices when I eat (okay most of the time but I still enjoy wine and ice cream) and I feel healthier.  Then there is the mental aspect.  I am able to process things faster, have more energy even when my body says your tired my mind keeps us going, and I just feel nicer (most of the time).  There is also the race community.  Wherever I go there is someone who is a runner, training for a race or use to run who I have great conversations with.  That is so much fun!  This is race bling I never counted on but it rewards me each day as well as on the race course when I finish.

This is how I store my race bling.  I know very fancy.  Don't be jealous of my fancy $2 command hooks!

This is how I store my race bling. I know very fancy. Don’t be jealous of my fancy $2 command hooks!

So I will continue to choose some races due to their race bling because really I am a girl who likes to have some sparkly things but I will continue to remind myself that I wear my race bling every day and I am so thankful that I can be so healthy now in my 40’s and hopefully it will continue for many, many years.

How about you, every chosen a race because of it’s bling?  If so, what race are you planning on running, maybe I will join you!  What is the best race bling you have ever gotten?