Monday, December 29, 2008

The Year In Review

I think I might be the only person who is sad to see 2008 go. It was definitely a “lucky” year for me. I’ve been moved over to strategic planning in my job, something I feel I will enjoy and fit well in, the Celtics won, (the Pats came so close!), the Olympics were incredible, and we elected the first Black president of the U.S. My family and I have come through the year happy, healthy, employed, and looking toward the future.

Personally, this has been a great year for me. When I look back, I am so pleased with the progress that I have made – physically and emotionally.

This year I completed my first triathlon. I still feel the glow and the overwhelming feeling of success in completing it. I was so glad that my brother was there to experience it with me.

My relationship with my best friend has continued to grow, even with her man back from the War. I’m so pleased that we’ve stayed true to our commitments to ourselves and each other.

I also combated the bike/car incident and insane temperatures during the Chances for Children event, and finished dead last. I’ll never be more proud of a finish than that.

I overcame my ruffles and oreo addiction. I’ve lost 20 lbs since I stopped eating them.

I completed the Summer Series this year, and finished a respectable 20th place in my age-group, even after several frustrating races in the heat. By working through each race – the good and the bad – I was able to finish in the top 20% of my age group, and the top 22% of women overall!

I stayed healthy and injury free all year.

The first 10K of my career was done for a great cause (Women for Women) and reminded me of the blessings that I have in everyday life. I wrote 6 things that I was grateful for on my hand and remembered them through each mile – even after I got completely lost on the course.

I logged 38 miles of swimming, 1,076 miles of biking, and 332 miles of running from May to December. I consistently trained throughout the year!

Maybe the most important race for me was the Wondergirl, because it cemented my desires to be part of the Girls on the Run organization. By participating in that race, a whole world of mentoring, giving, and receiving has been shown to me, and I am so grateful for the experiences and for the people I’ve met.

In the next year, I’m looking forward to additional progress – mentally, emotionally, and physically. I’ll be running the P.F. Chang’s ½ Marathon, and focusing on building my training to maybe complete an Olympic distance triathlon towards the end of the season.

My new year’s resolution is to develop additional strategic thinking in work and life. Part of that is patience. Part of that is future thinking. Part of that is perspective. I believe that it is the next step in my personal evolution.

Happy New Year all – I hope that your goals, dreams, and desires lead you to a wonderful 2009!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Today is Winter Solstice. Throughout the history of the southwest, today was a “power” day. The dreamers, shamans, and sunwatchers had their biggest challenge today – to make Father Sun decided to not give up on humans and turn back to the south to start the beginning of the seasons again. The people would wear their ceremonial outfits and dance their hearts out all day and all night in celebration of LIFE and the hopes of being pronounced worthy. Somehow it always worked out. :)

This morning, when I went for my run, it seemed that some of that power was still resonating… there was feeling of being blissfully alive in the air.

Maybe it was the crisp and cool air in my lungs, the frost in the grass, running through falling leaves, the peaceful quiet of the park I was running in – normally full of shouts of little leaguers and metal bats striking balls - but it was serene out there.

This morning’s weather is not what I would consider “winter” weather. In Massachusetts, today’s weather would have happened in early September, and it would be “Fall” weather, but it was as close as I want to get to cold and snow. If I squinted, I could see the glimmer of the frost and dream that it was snow. I could feel the cold on my face, but it didn’t sting. It was beautiful. Fall was always my favorite running weather – when it feels better to run than to walk, because it keeps you warm – and today was exactly what I was looking for.

I got outside, I ran just under 4 miles, and I felt great doing it. I have to admit that through all of my training, I never thought that I would ever “feel good” while running. Even when I had successful runs, or embraced the running high after a run, I never felt good. Since I decided to modify my training plan and do the P.F. Chang’s ½ Marathon, I have never felt so great! When I start to run I actually feel strong and tall and powerful. It may not last the full ½, but my shorter runs feel almost natural! It’s an added bonus that I didn’t expect to happen, but I am even more grateful that I have stuck with it all this time.

Several years ago, I found the perfect Christmas cards. They were a deep and beautiful blue, with a bright and excessively sparkly snowflake on them. The message said “Once a year, everything becomes magical. Wishing you a season of wonder.” I hope that you all get to experience the magic of the season, and the joy of family time and peace!

P.S. Shout out to the Sole Sports folks who spent 30 minutes with me yesterday diagnosing my second toe numbness as Morton’s Neuroma, and gave me several easy and cheap solutions – tying my shoelaces differently, and a medical pad to put underneath the “metatarsal arch” to prevent pressure in that spot. I tried the shoelace thing first, and I can feel the difference already. No numbness. They really really rock at Sole Sports.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Out of Retirement

The last few months have been tough for me mentally. Not the workouts themselves, but I went back to weighing myself regularly as I slowly re-improved my diet (the ruffles and oreo kick really hurt me more than I realized). I’ve always hated the scale, especially since my body tends to “get stuck” at certain numbers. I start thinking about nothing but the Number, and forgot about how I feel, how I’ve improved in my workouts and races, and how my clothes fit. All I can get out of my mind is that I’ve lost minimal if any weight from week to week. It stinks. I also have to admit that working with four “perfect” athletes at GOTR did negatively impact my self-image, which is so stupid, because the whole point of GOTR is to get out of the girl box. Still, I’m glad that I was able to show the girls that you can be healthy and active, even if you are slow and fat.

Does the looming Wednesday weigh-in make me reconsider that second handful of peanut M&M’s, yes. Is it worth defining myself by a number? I’m not sure that it is. I’ve been so focused on the number, that I really haven’t noticed the changes that are happening to my body. How do I know that there are changes, even if the scale isn’t reflecting them? Funny you ask…

This year I haven’t had to do nearly the traveling, which means I’ve been basically living in my pj’s. I love pj’s. They are fun, comfortable, and colorful – and very forgiving to the waist line. Since I don’t get out a lot, whenever I do – it’s always a struggle to determine which set of clothing I’m going to fit into. You ladies know what I’m talking about – I have my “skinny” clothes, my “normal” clothes, and my “fat” clothes. Generally I start with the fat clothes, and only if they are really too big do I work my way down. Saves the heartache.

So the week before last, I had to go into the office on a Friday. It was pretty cold out, yet I didn’t want to get dressed up because I was traveling for the next two weeks, and would spend plenty of time in uncomfortable slacks. However, my staple skirts were really too big – falling off big - and it was too cold to expose my legs. Since I was just looking around the closet, I said what the heck? I’m going to try on those old jeans. The old jeans that were officially retired over a year ago… because I was about to split the rear-end.

Up and zip, no struggle. I couldn’t believe it! They were actually comfortable!! I called everyone I knew to tell them my retired jeans were working for me! I was so excited that I even tried on the “skinny” jeans (not to be confused with “skinny jeans” which are ugly) and they fit too! Rather than try everything on that I owned, I decided to leave myself glowing that something was coming out of retirement.

Well I packed for my trip, and honestly didn’t even think about trying any of my retired slacks on. I just grabbed my current pants, some tops, and threw them in the suitcase. It was when I got to Greenville that I realized my pants were way too big. Oh well, at least I was comfortable, right?

Well last night, even though I’m suffering through my bi-annual time, I decided to try on some of my other clothes. This was not because I thought any of them fit – it was more because I don’t have 4 outfits to wear into the office this week without repeating from last week.

Guess who is wearing her favorite pair of retired chocolate slacks? With a retired brown patterned blouse? Guess who will be wearing three pairs of completely retired outfits this week??!!

I guess sometimes the scale really doesn’t matter… because my closet is coming out of retirement, and this time I don’t think I’ll be going back to the fat clothes. A slow steady decrease done without serious dieting means that my lifestyle is successfully healthy as it is!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Volunteering - The Greatest Gift

Today was the Iron Girl race. This race means a lot to me, as I ran it with Mom , Lilac, and her mom last year. It’s a great race because it’s all about supporting women of all ages and abilities, and nurturing their desire to be active, healthy, and have strong relationships with other women.
This year, the race had a different, yet equally special meaning, because all of the Girls on the Run schools from Maricopa County were running in it as their big end of season race. It was a beautiful day, if a little chilly, and I just want to share some of the moments.

I arrived (first of course, damn my time issues) to a very dark, but quiet and peaceful Tempe Town Lake. All of the signage and staging that we had set up the previous day were still in tact, which we were nervous about, and so I had an opportunity to stand on our little hill, and serenely breathe in the early morning crispness.

Yeah, that serenity didn’t last long, but it was all the more precious because of it. Our first girl showed up 45 minutes early (and I thought I had time issues).

All of our girls came to the race, which I would have bet money against.

One of my Hannah’s (we have 4) mom came up to me before the race, and told me that her daughter just loves me, and that she appreciates the time and positive messages that I’ve taught her daughter. Her eyes welled up with feeling, and my heart rejoiced that I’ve been able to make a difference with even one girl.

I was in charge of GOTR tattoo application, which means I had the coldest fingers in the park – those freezing cold wet face cloths (and my hands) made the girls shriek and wince, but every single one of them told me it “wasn’t that cold” and I knew that they weren’t going to let the goon get to them today! Even the running buddies joined in on the fun.

Lilac came, and ran with a girl from Clarendon – someone who wasn’t a barnacle, which I think was good, and will build her confidence as a running buddy after what we’ll call the “Laveen Fiasco”.

The girls warmed up, did their favorite cheer (Dynamite), responded to a rousing speech from our head coach, and lined up to start the race. I went up to the Mill Ave bridge where I could cheer the girls on, let them know it was all downhill from there, and count off to make sure we got all of the girls.

First one in, Jamie – no surprise there. She ran a 27 min 5K. Only about 15 minutes faster that I can run one….Then came Megan, and I’m so glad she was smiling, because she had really put a lot of pressure on herself to do well. 33 minutes. Then came … Zora??!! No way! Then Maurissa - I was shocked out of my sneakers! Then Kiley came charging through, with Madison right behind her. Then Abby, Vivica, Hannah, Hannah, Hannah, Hannah, Lauren running her heart out on an injured leg, Sofia, Sedona, Ariana, Landry and Kayla, Alissa, Lissett, Noha way before I expected her, Marissa with her mom, Natalee looking proud, Breannon hanging in there while not feeling well, Gabby looking strong, Aly working it, Erin with her pink boa and crown (her running buddy was similarly attired), Lynsey looking for the finish line, Alondra – I’m so glad for her, she worked so hard! I had lost my voice halfway through, and still kept screaming and cheering. It was, as the girls like to say “Magical.”

“The love we give away is the only love we keep.” Elbert Hubbard

Every single one of those girls was smiling, and radiating vibrantly with a tremendous feeling of success and of accomplishment. It’s something that will stick with me and that I’ll keep in my back pocket when the goon is after me, and I need something to lift my spirits. Their smiles are etched in my memory.

And then there was Tiazhe… last on my list… and never crossed the finish line. Never. After about 90 minutes we started to panic, and had the race announcer calling for her. We checked with the computer guys, and we hadn’t missed her, she hadn’t crossed. Did she get lost in the 10 mile group? Did she and her cousin take off and go to breakfast? I still don’t know what happened.

One of the Bustoz coaches came up to me afterward, and said that she was glad that I was part of the program, and that I made a big difference. I have no idea what I did to deserve that, but it felt great to hear it.

Lilac and I went to breakfast, and there we saw the Hannah that most reminds me of shy, awkward, pre- ‘beautiful butterfly’ Lilac. Her mom mentioned as they were leaving that Hannah had come home right before Thanksgiving and said “Coach Eileen said her Dad puts different kinds of apples in his apple pies, and I want to try that with my pie this year”. The pie apparently came out great, and they’ll be doing it again that way. You can make a difference with even the smallest statements!

This program has taught me so much this season. I’ve learned:

- How to be an Indian, and hold back my inner-Chief, a struggle, let me tell you.
- That I’ve gotten back more than I gave, and that it came in ways I hadn’t expected.
- The ‘I feel, when you, because, I would like for you to’ statements. They really do work.
- There is more to life than whether or not my projects get implemented perfectly, and as much as it feels like it, the fire at my desk is actually not going to consume my life unless I allow it.
- That you can make a difference with every girl - maybe not in the same way, or with the same amount of impact - but every moment with these girls provides an opportunity to give them something meaningful.

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” - Maya Angelou

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Travel Time

Well just to make up for this fabulous year of not too much travel, we’re going to pack it all in during the last few weeks of the year. This might have caused a previous Eileen to panic because her training plan for PF Chang’s was getting interfered with (6 weeks!), but not this Eileen. This Eileen can roll with the punches, and will!

How will I compensate for the fact that I’ll be spending a week in Greenville, SC, and another in Chandler, but with all of my peeps here, requiring that I actually beautify myself for long days in the office (which definitely cuts into my gym time)? Simple. I’m going to do my long runs on Mondays, instead of Tuesdays. I’m going to give myself flexibility to do whatever I can while I’m in Greenville, and I’m not going to beat myself up about it – even if that means doing sprints in the parking lot , jogging around the hotel building, stair climbing, or getting that extra hour of sleep I so desperately need. There’s always plank and down facing dog. (Where is my Runnersworld magazine…it’s 12/3, it should be here by now!)

What about the 15 hour days I’m scheduled to work? Well I’m still going to work them. I’m also still going to take care of business after hours even though my work computer can’t connect to anything. I’m still going to go out to dinner with my team, and whatever else I have to do. And I’m not going to be freaking out about it. At the end of the day, it’s better for my body to get more rest if needed, and I’m not going to get upset about maybe not getting in that 110 minute bike ride I had planned. Really, it’s ok. I’ll survive.

Never do anything today that will keep you from running tomorrow… or six weeks from now. As long as I get my long runs in – which will not be a problem – I’m going to be fine. I have confidence in myself, and my ability to think clearly, and not do stupid things just so I can put it in my log.

I’ll use those 15 hour days as practice for my first Ironman challenge – staying awake that long!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Turkey Trot 2008

I’m thankful for 23:45!

OK, totally self-centered, but I’ll get into what I’m truly grateful for in a second! I’m also not going to do an actual race report for this one, because the day was about more than just a race.

For my second annual Mesa Mi Amigo’s Turkey Trot 2 Miler, I had to go it alone, because Lilac was having her first Thanksgiving at her house today. Since Thanksgiving is her favorite holiday, and has she has a family of 2 million, I decided to not give her grief for not following through on our life long plans to run every turkey trot until we can no longer run. There’s always next year.

I had checked that the race would be on rain or shine, since it was definitely raining today, and sure enough, it was, so I got ready to end my season with a beautiful run in the rain! (For Arizonans, a rainy race is a real treat, and something that we cherish during the blistering hot summer races).

I had a fairly good run on Sunday, and I was convinced that I could go 27 minutes (a 3 min PR)… until I had a truly horrendous run on Tuesday, which made me hope I could just get through it today. I got to the event, just in time, and enjoyed people watching all the extended families with kids and grandparents who run this race. It’s such a cool experience on a holiday morning to watch families getting out there and running together. Our collective main goal, as a field, was to run hard, and then eat hard. At least that was my goal!

Race gun went off, and I ran to the turn, walked to the light, ran to the turn around walked a bit, ran to the light, walked to the park, and ran it in. 23:45 – a 6 min 15 second PR, and it felt really easy! I felt like I was trotting along easily, except for the first time ever I was passing people even who were running, and no one passed me walking while I was runnig! I know the field maybe wasn’t the most athletic, but it felt pretty cool to pass other people running, I must say.

I grinned from ear to ear, called my entire family, and then went home to settle in to let J cook for me.

Except I could tell that he wasn’t really feeling like cooking, so I took over the reigns and made the meal (for those of you who don’t know, my cooking skill prior to today centered around making cereal and toast. I also make a mean dry pb and j sandwich, but that’s about all.)

And so for the litany –

I am thankful that the turkey, red mashed potatoes, yams, and gravy all came out ok – in fact, even pretty good!

I am thankful that I have a job, a home, and money in the bank.

I am thankful for J, for the easy camaraderie we share, the love that continues to grow between us, and for the ability to spend a nice quiet Thanksgiving together (my first one at home in a decade).

I am thankful that I have my brother in town, and that I got a chance to see Dad this year for a beautiful weekend.

I’m thankful that my relationship with my mom continues to grow.

I’m thankful for Lilac, and everything we get to share together. She’s my rock, and she rocks.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to share my words and thoughts with others, and get to learn about other people who train, and tri, and experience life through the blog world. You are all awesome!

And I’m thankful for a 6:15 PR, because it means that the 85 hours, and 291 miles that I’ve run since Tri for the Cure have actually paid off!

Woo hoo!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I’ll see you in 2012

So I’m not a huge fan of the standard 5 year plan. I get way too anxious for that kind of thing. Reigning myself into a standard 1 year plan is hard enough. However, this weekend I volunteered at the Ironman Arizona, and after watching athletes of all shapes and sizes, of all ages, from around the globe, I had a driving need to put something down on paper. I’m officially inspired!

I’ve said all along that one of the things that I love about triathlon is that you can slowly grow with it. I’ve also said that I wanted to enjoy every distance before pounding myself through the next distance, so this is the way I laid out my plan, retroactive to April 2008. obviously there will be other races, but this is the skeleton of my year selection.

- Sprint finish
- Sprint enjoy
- Run a 10K

- Sprint compete
- Olympic finish
- Olympic enjoy
- Run a ½ marathon

- Olympic compete
- Half Ironman finish
- Run a ½ marathon in the spring, another in the fall

- Half Ironman enjoy
- Half Ironman compete
- Run a full marathon in the summer

- Finish an Ironman

Now the only place I have to determine is where. I’m totally convinced that if I’m going to train for something like this, then I’m damn sure I’m going to go someplace outside of the US for it. For me, that’s a requirement. I’ve spent the morning looking, and here is my shortlist –

Goto, Nagasaki, Japan – This one got nixed because it’s Nagasaki. Sorry, I think nuclear bombs when I think of Nagasaki. Maybe it’s just me.

Haikou, Hainan, China – I nixed this one because I’m not swimming in the water in China. I’ve seen that water in person.

Taupo, New Zealand – This one is appealing because New Zealand is beautiful, and the population is small. However, I’ve been to New Zealand, and there are other places I think I’d rather go.

Florianopolis Island, Brazil – This one has serious possibilities. My only concern is learning to say “ice water” in Portuguese but I’m pretty sure I could manage it. It’s a serious contender.

Port Macquerie, NSW, Australia, or Busselton, Western Australia – If I was leaning in one direction, it would probably be on the Port Macquerie side, since it’s close to Sydney. However, the Western Australia one is in December, and I may need that time.

Now, I know that my “been there, done that” message from China and New Zealand should apply here, but to be honest, I really really loved the sportive and personality aspects of Australia when I was there, and there’s a part of me that would love to do an Ironman there – and feel the embodiment of the freedom that the Aussies represent to me. Actually, being completely honest with myself, I’d really love to do the Geelong 70.3. It’s in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, which is near Melbourne, and I just loved all of Victoria when I went to visit.

So really, from an Ironman perspective it’s basically Australia or Brazil for me. I won’t mention that I also looked at the state and national flowers for all of the locations, already envisioning my IM tattoo. Brazil’s water lily is the best. Yes, I get that detailed when I daydream.

If I could do Geelong in February 2011, then I could do Brazil in at the end of May 2012, and be totally happy. My wallet might not be, but who knows what will happen. Right now if I had to pick one, I’m picking Port Macquerie, NSW, Australia - April 8th, 2012.

See you then!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Change is the Essence of Life

Well, due to some family issues, which because of privacy concerns I will not be disclosing, it looks like the trip to Orlando in March has been cancelled. See that big red CANCELLED stamp on my ½ marathon dreams? I sure felt it when the stamp came slamming down, but I think it’s the right decision for our collective sanity, and sometimes you have to take one for the team. At least I hadn’t submitted my registration fee yet, since I’d really be upset if I had already sent Disney my non-refundable $150.

I’m not willing to give up my ½ plans yet, though nothing else perfectly fits my planning the same way. When I initially decided to try a ½, my selection requirements were:
- Make it a big race, so you’re not alone the whole time (see – Run for Congo)
- It’s got to be either a women’s only race, OR a rock n’ roll. A women’s only rock n’ roll would be ideal, but someone hasn’t decided to put that race on yet. Trust me, it would be a great time.

My first thought was San Diego, but they only do the full marathon. I’m never ever running in LA – I might wear the wrong color and be shot at. San Jose, San Antonio, and Virginia Beach just don’t call to me. Seattle is definitely an option, but it’s at the end of June. I’d love to do the Nike Women's ½, but it’s not until October, and it’s already sold out. Eugene would be awesome and beautiful, but it’s a little intimidating to go to Tracktown for your first ½. That leaves our own P.F. Chang’s ½, on January 18th, 2009.

By the way, that is less than 9 weeks away.

My initial thought was NO!!!!!!! I had previously done the math, and had planned on being at about 8 miles of weekly long run two weeks before the race. I did not think it was realistic to pound out an extra 5+ miles on race day, which is why I started looking at March races. However, a combination of a little bit more speed than I planned, and a really successful and injury free year has meant that I’m a little bit ahead of schedule.

I had also shunned the idea of doing a “1/2 marathon training plan” primarily because every training plan I’ve followed has gotten me nothing but injuries, and I feel like the plan I’ve developed myself - the slow and steady plan – has kept me healthy, and for most part it has kept me focused and engaged. So I looked at my plan again after the Cancellation Stamp slammed down, to see if there was any wiggle room.

After some thought, I’ve decided to:
- Up just my long run days by 10 mins per week instead of 5 (keeping to the ABC formula, except that I’d go A,B,C,recovery, D,E,F,recovery, versus my current A,B,C,recovery, repeat C,D,E,recovery.
- To compensate for the added stress that I’ll be putting on my body on long run days, I’m going to keep my other training days to 100 mins or under.
- I will use swimming time from now until February 1 as recovery and efficiency of stroke practice only!
- I will really really really do a better job with my stretching.
- I will do NO running for at least 1 week after the race.

Putting this together should have me at 10.5 – 11 miles for a long run with 2 weeks out. I feel confident that if I can run 10 or 11 miles, I can add that 5K on at the end.

I can do this. I have the confidence in myself. And there’s something to be said for doing your first ½ at home. I can eat the right things the night before. I can be totally mentally prepared. I can go home and sleep in my own bed afterward with my really comfy red velvet blanket that’s heavy enough to keep me dreaming safely.

If I can’t be a princess, I guess my next choice would be to run in a Chinese (food) race, right? I can wear my Xing Fu necklace for incentive too!

And so I leave you with the quote that I am going to embrace during this somewhat shortened training plan -

“Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender who you are for who you could become.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Red Letter Week

It has been an amazing week. I’m not sure how it happened, but I’ve had ups and downs, and it’s been a real week of learning about myself.

First, I promise I’m not getting political here, but as a bi-racial woman, I have to say that it was really cool to see Obama get elected. I don’t think I ever realized that there was a hidden ceiling in my mind about what I could accomplish, but if it was there, it crumpled on Tuesday night. I actually did stay up and watch it, and it was spectacular. I really wish that I had been in Chicago – I bet it would have been pretty remarkable to experience live. As it was, having MSNBC announce it at 9pm (my time) and then go straight to the crowds in Chicago, DC, and NYC, and see the celebration for 5 solid minutes with no voice-overs (yes I checked my watch) was pretty cool. We may never see that kind of joyous celebration of Acceptance again, and I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to see it – unedited.

It’s funny because Wednesday morning, for the first time in a LONG time, I felt a sense of rampant optimism flooding my veins, and feeling like maybe, just maybe, we had a shot again, and that things could eventually get better. I’m sure I flashed one too many smiles, but it wasn’t even about political feelings, it was a release of a feeling of oppression, and overwhelming negativity that I didn’t even realize was bogging me down.

From a training perspective, my struggle with focus has led me to actually try some new things. Trying new things is NOT in my lexicon, generally speaking. I took a test several years ago that told you your Chinese elemental profile. It was deceptively simple, but had profound thoughts on balancing yourself. It was supposed to tell you an element that you had an excess off (your main element) and an element that you were deficient in, to help you balance yourself out. Except, I was so metal (think strong, sharp, straight lined form, consistent, sparkling, penetrating, unbendable, unyielding, cold) that it just told me that I had an excess of metal twice. Apparently I’m deficient in everything else. The number one thing that the test suggested to balance myself was:

“Try something that you’re not good naturally good at. Take a yoga class, or try to cook something new. You need to be uncomfortable in order to grow.”

This has stuck with me since I took the test. I still park in the same parking spot, and I still do things in a particular order every day, and I still drive the same way, and I still prepare for the day the same way, but at least I know that I SHOULD be trying new things. It’s just really really hard for me to experiment, when I always want my end result to be successful. I know that my current path is successful, but who can say that the new one will be?? Failure can put me in a tailspin. So, putting the stationary bike on “Random” instead of “Manual” is a real challenge. This week though, I did it. I also mixed up my three event day, so I biked throughout rather than just doing them in order. I ran at the bike park, outside. I made a “chicken lettuce wrap” meal for dinner this week. I’ve been doing extra stretching, specifically plank pose and down-facing-dog sets. My iPod has been on random, rather than in order – although this is because of a software glitch, and I’ll admit is absolutely driving me crazy - but it’s refreshing to hear some songs I’ve forgotten about in a different order.

So far, none of these things has been a failure, and maybe it’s even added a little fun to my day, and allowed me to focus in a different way from the consistency that I’m used to.

No word on the job front, for either team. I did hear that Mr. Turkey Sandwich got an interview, and my initial reaction was to be completely and totally bitter about the fact that I’m going to get looked over for someone who has literally schedules his calls around Oprah. It’s a total slap in the face that I would be looked over for that clown. Of course I still don’t know if I’m going to get to interview or not, but this was just my initial reaction. I spent the evening stewing about all the work that I’ve done, and all of the Oprah I’ve missed out on.

This time, J exposed me to his wisdom, which was simple – who cares if I get a manager position or not? Really, will it define me? The truth is that it will not. If I don’t get one of the manager positions, I’ll simply get the opportunity to spend more time focusing on myself and my priorities. I can coach in the spring for GOTR, I can continue to focus on my health, I can not stress out about work, because I’ll still be a minion, and that will be ok with me. Success means more stress, more travel, a little more money, but a lot more crap. So I’ve come to grips with it either way. I will be at peace regardless, and I will be able to move in a positive direction regardless.

"Pleasure is always derived from something outside you, whereas JOY arises from within" - Eckhart Tolle

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haphazard Thoughts

A couple of random training topics…

Overall, I’m glad I took a full week completely off, and also glad that I took it really easy for the two to three weeks before that. I read a blog today from a world class Ironman, Elizabeth Fedofsky, and she reiterated the need for deep recovery in order to actually get harder/better/faster/stronger.

I did fall off the oreo/ruffles wagon – just for the extended weekend, but I got back up on it on Sunday. Sometimes you just need to indulge. I only gained 1 lb.

So far in this first week, I have successfully trained outside on the weekends. I went hiking with Lilac on Saturday, and it was so nice to get out there in good weather again, that I think this will be a primary weekend focus for me for the next 8 weeks. Even if we’re not running the trails (like as not), there’s still benefit – mostly some peace, and good conversation!

I’m also thinking about taking a day off and spending it on my bike all day. It just sounds like such a great time.

I’ve been beating the goon too – not thinking ahead or letting myself worry about how I’ll feel in 2, 5, 10, 20, 60 minutes, tomorrow. As always, it’s a work in progress.

I’m really struggling with coming up with a good plan for my swim – or more like trying to determine if my potential plan is a good one. Basically, I think swimming for 1 ½ - 2 hours is just ridiculous. There’s no need for it, when I’m doing sprints or olympic distances. There’s nothing that I can do in 90 minutes that I can’t do in 45. Or at least that’s what I think right now.

I feel like all that I’m getting from the extra time in the water is more wear and tear on my body, more fatigue, a bigger headache and more nausea. None of those things make me want to get in the pool, especially when it’s getting colder.

By the way – if anyone knows how I can prevent/avoid the headache and nausea, I’d really appreciate suggestions. I’m not flipping off the walls, or doing anything that should lead to those feelings, but about 45 minutes in, I start to feel very sick and dizzy (yes, I’ve been swimming through that, I’m a moron). Check all that may apply –
- Not eating before I go to the pool
- Not staying hydrated while in the pool
- Having hair that is too heavy when wet (it’s getting excessively long)
- A swim cap that is too tight with all that hair shoved under it
- Goggles that are too tight
- Something stupid I’m doing
- That’s just the way it is
Really, I’m open to any suggestions at this point!

Until I figure it out, my plan is to swim between 45 – 60 minutes max, and spend a large portion of that time doing drills. Drills keep me mentally occupied, and will help with stroke efficiency. That’s my plan for now at least. We’ll see how it goes.

Finally, I was reading Kristin Armstrong today (one of m favorites), and she had this great list of rules to running trails and how it can apply to life –

Be light on your feet...choose your path wisely...someone else's path may not work for you...when you stumble, roll with it...relax in the midst of effort...concentration doesn't mean tension...a cold beer is a fine reward...dress the part...ask questions...go your own pace, if others need to pass, they will... make adjustments to remain balanced...pack smart...have options...refuel before you are empty...don't get sloppy just because you are tired...let go of time constraints...wait for those who are on their those who have been there before...return home a better woman for having made the adventure.

Almost all of these resonate with me, so I wanted to share them, and remember them myself.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Phoenix

While we were driving to San Diego, Lilac and I occupied ourselves with our usual road trip diversion – we sang the entire way to our favorite mutual and historical CD’s. We listened to Jamiroquai, Prodigy, a Girl’s Rule Mix that I put together several years ago, and definitely listened to Incubus – which is our road trip mainstay.

As we were listening to the Make Yourself disc, we started talking about the meaning behind the phrase “So pardon me while I burn and rise above the flame.” in ‘Pardon Me’. Lilac had felt that it meant getting above your anger, but I had always thought that it was more like a re-birth, and that the burn, and rising above the flame was like a phoenix coming alive from the ashes, and becoming new and better because of the experience from the burn. Maybe this has been because I’ve always felt that we learn far more from our mistakes and tough situations than we do from successes and positive situations.

I started thinking more about that conversation this week as I have been at a conference in absolutely beautiful Dana Point, CA. The resort that I’m staying at is on the cliffs looking over the ocean, and has a gorgeous park surrounding it. It’s been perfect weather, and I’ve had time both before and after work to get a great run in along the coast. So, guess how many times I’ve laced up my sneakers. No wait, guess how many times I’ve even looked at my sneakers and thought about going for a run? That’s right, zero. The best I’ve done is walked to the bottom of the cliff to get fast food each night, and then walk back up the cliff to get to the resort (at least it’s a REALLY steep hill). That and I have NOT dug into the free oreos sitting in my snack cabinet here. That has been a real challenge, but I’m not falling off the no-oreo wagon.

I’m not feeling physically fatigued as much as mentally burnt out – and for all of you training for SOMA, Ironman, or a marathon, I know you’re thinking – Get over yourself, you’re only doing sprints!! My only defense is the fact that I run twice to three times slower than most of you all – so for me running 6 miles is like a 12-18 mile adventure. I’ve been putting in 8 – 10 hours of training a week, so it’s not like I haven’t been working hard every day.

I’ve realized that I’m off the track mentally, and I need to get back on. In order to identify how to get back on and raring to go, I’ve felt like I need to identify what is pushing me off the track. To date I have:

- My immediate summer goals (first 10K, and Mission Bay Tri) have been completed, and there are no short term races on my agenda.

- My longer term goals (Princess Half, maybe an Olympic distance tri) are too far off to be urgent, and get me out of bed in the morning.

- I initially scheduled my training log for these dates back in April. I was so unsure of where I’d be that I actually wrote on it “Who the hell knows where I’ll be here”. Even though I’m quite proud of myself that I’ve basically followed the schedule for the last 6 months, there’s a part of me that feels like maybe I need to re-evaluate my goals and training – specifically with the swimming.

- I’ve really petered out the last 2-3 weeks, and it makes it harder to get back into gear. I start doubting myself and my abilities.

All of these things are manageable and correctable. I clearly need to find a race to motivate me. I need to re-evaluate the schedule, maybe backtracking to the 90 min mark, and working back up from there. I need to get back on the training horse. I’m not sure what I need to do with my swimming, but I need to do something that allows me to still use it for active recovery but not continue to be incredibly boring. I also need to recommit myself and remember why I am doing this. That list looks like this (yes, I think in lists):

- I am committed to a long term healthy lifestyle – not a flash in the pan or huge weight loss program.

- I want to be healthy and active when I am 80.

- Triathlon is a process to me. It is something that I want to build into over years.

- I feel great when I am outside experiencing life.

- My relationship with my friends improves when we share great running/tri-ing moments together.

- I am a more valuable person when I take time for and love myself.

With those things in mind, I want to take the next 8 weeks (the time between now and when I really need to dig in for ½ marathon training) and focus on two things:

1. Killing the goon.

2. Getting outside.

I think 2 will help lead to 1. On the weekends, I feel like I need to do more outdoor training, and that it will allow me to be more confident when it comes time to prepare for road races or triathlons. I still find value in spending time on gym equipment – not only because I have to work out very early when it’s dark during the week, but also because it helps me push myself to be getting feedback on a monitor while cycling or running. However, it can’t be all indoors. So, with that said -

- I vow that I will be spending my weekend bike/run time outside (weather permitting) – and if I’m swimming and biking/running, I will ride my bike to the gym, swim, and then ride wherever I’m going to be training.

- I vow that I will not allow the goon to consume me or change my plans in any workout, and that I will be ACTIVELY working on how to work through the goonage whenever it occurs.

This means toughening up, buttercup. There’s a feeling of satisfaction and confidence that you get from putting everything that you have out on the table. There’s also fear in totally letting yourself go too – and I’m someone who really struggles in letting go of the control factor. But I’ll be spending the next 8 weeks focusing on this.

- Reset schedule – check
- Remember WHY I do this – check
- Set specific training goals – check
- Enjoy the process of self-motivation and growth….
- Experience the burn, and rise above the flame, phoenix style…

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Race Report: USWTS, SD – 375m/6.2mi/1.58mi

Pre-Race: This race was in San Diego, so Lilac and I drove out on Friday night and stayed with my Dad. It was a great weekend overall – perfect weather, lovely day at Balboa with my Dad, nice and relaxing overall.

It looked to be the best organized race that I have ever done. When we went for packet pick up on Saturday morning, the entire race area was already set up, so we could identify bike in/out and run in/out for transition, where the finish line would be etc. Race day morning came and that organization continued. We got there with about 20 minutes before transition closed, got set up, and left transition to watch the first waves of the swim. Not only did they start on time (shocking), but the waves were sent at exactly the right time. It was so precise and ordered. The sound system and mic-man were perfectly prepared for the day.

As the 40-49 year old wave prepared to go down the ramp, the true spirit of a women’s only event took hold, and we saw 25 middle aged women in yellow swim caps and wetsuits start dancing and clapping together as a big group to Cindy Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. It was such a cool moment, and really got our “girlyness” going.

The Swim: Our race wave (#14) started on time, to the second. Unfortunately, they only gave us about 30 seconds to get into the frigid water, and ready to go. As I was getting into the water, I totally lost my breath from the cold, and as such, was still gasping and trying to breathe when the gun went off. Pictures taken during this time indicate that Lilac dove right in, and I did not. :) My plan was to stay in the rear, and try not to get kicked in the face and lose my goggles. This would have been a disaster because I absolutely cannot see without contacts and salt water and contacts do not mix. In reality however, the water was too cold for me to put my face in, even though I really tried. And not putting my head in the water meant I basically flailed along, rather than swam along. It also didn’t help that I don’t give myself enough credit for my swimming ability and I was caught in a mass of poorer swimmers that I could not get around throughout the entire race. Kicking was frequent, however, not really painful, and almost always followed with an “oh goodness, sorry!”, something I doubt happens when men are racing. The end result – Lilac finished almost a minute before I did – she said her experience was full of the same thrashing humanity that I experienced. Time: 12:04

T1: Luckily Lilac also needed to bring everything but her Mary Kay lady to the transition area, so she was busy using a mango and tea tree peal conditioning face scrub, as I came in wriggling out of my wetsuit. (I jest, she only put one moisturizer on). We took our sweet time in transition here, it wound up being 5-6 minutes, depending on whose time you’re tracking. We ran with our bikes out of transition, and took off. Time: 5:45

The Bike: I am soooo glad that we decided to ride our mountain bikes to this event. Not only was it so crowded that all USAT passing rules went completely out the window, but because it was at a beach, the road was somewhat sandy at times. Both of those issues would have led to a falling incident had I been on a road bike. I’m just so uncomfortable on that bike that I can’t relax. But you know what happens when you CAN relax? You ride two miles per hour faster in congested race conditions than you ever have at a race, and for the first time ever, you pass other people on bikes (even road bikes). Now granted, this isn’t about beating other people, but as the person who has only ever been passed, it felt good to at least pass a couple of people :)

Overall it was a pretty flat course, it was a gorgeous day, I was glad that I brought my jacket, and I couldn’t be happier with the bike segment. Though it was two minutes slower than last week’s time trial, my legs were in far better shape when I got off the bike. Time: 28:04

T2: This was much faster, even though we were still taking out time. We racked our bikes, deliberated and decided to take our jackets off, and then found our way out of the run exit. Time 2:11

The Run: The run was a nice course along the beach, but on the sidewalk on the way out, and the street on the way back. I felt pretty fresh, though Lilac clearly felt really fresh, because she seemed to want to take off. Generally this is the loneliest time during a tri for me, primarily because as a super slow biker and runner, most people have finished by the time I get on out on the course. However, because the race directors had the longer race start before ours, there were tons of women on the course with us, and it became a real cheering fest. We actually also passed some runners. It felt pretty cool!

On the way back I designated the run to the finish point in the distance, and even though the course wound up fooling me with an additional little loop around the parking lot, I didn’t give into the goon, and entered the finish shoot strong. As we were running in the shoot, people were cheering and hooting and hollering, and it felt great (people around the finish area is something I’m also not accustomed to!). Lilac actually turned to me and said “I have goose bumps!” We finished the race hand in hand, and strong! Time: 20:38 (two minutes faster than the time trial!)

: As we left the finish area, and walked back to transition (trying to find my Dad, who had been furiously taking pictures with his super duper manual camera for us – and did an outstanding job of it!) the DJ started playing the Shake Shake Shake Senora song by Harry Belafonte, and the post race party started for me. We danced our way over to our bikes, and packed our stuff up. A wonderful glowing breakfast with Dad and our medals finished off a great morning!

: 58/62 20-29 year olds, 251/303 women overall, 1:00:04 sans transition (our goal was an hour!) 1:08:40 total time. A great triathlon with your best friend? Priceless.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Taking Control

I have to say that writing about my Goon did help me clarify some of my frustrations and allowed me to pick myself up and start moving in a more constructive direction – so thanks for letting me take a blog to clarify inner-turmoil.

This past week I have decided to take control back from the Goons – the Work Goon, and the Athlete Goon, at least. Before I get into how I’ve managed this feat, just know that I am extremely superstitious (I was the kid who had to stay in the bathroom for the rest of the game if our Patriots scored a touchdown while I was in there) so I will be trying hard not to jinx myself with regards to possible future opportunities. :)

First the Work Goon –
For the last six months, I have been waiting along with everyone else to see how the new org structure will be put into place to determine how and where I wanted to fit within it. There were many reasons for my forceful patience (not one of my natural virtues). Basically, when you know that there’s going to be a reduction in force, you don’t want to be the big mouth that keeps asking questions. Also, I’ve never worked with the new director of my group and I thought it would be kind of obvious if I started talking her ear off, and all of my questions were about this new planned org that we knew nothing about. Furthermore, I believed that many if not all of the positions would be posted (don’t you love having to apply for your own job?) so I didn’t think there was a need to stir up the waters before the postings came out.

However, once it was determined that some positions would map, and others would post, and it was also announced that people who work on new world work today (me) could be mapped, I decided that I needed to take matters into my own hands.

I set up a meeting with my director, and nicely told her that although I have successfully done work in all of the 5 silos, I was most passionate about the Strategy workstream. I also told her that I saw this re-organization as a good opportunity for my title to reflect my work, and that I would be eyeing strategy manager positions. I believe that the meeting went well (knocking on wood). At least now I know that they know what I want, and can make a decision based on that, rather than just continuing to sit on my hands and hope they can read my mind. Take that Goon! Since I set up the meeting, my director has actually asked me to attend a strategic planning conference in Laguna Beach, and it’s going to be a fascinating meeting. I just bet that I wouldn’t have been asked to attend had I not had the gumption to ask for the initial meeting.

I also decided to not just wait and see what the future would hold, and applied for a Strategic Planning Manager position for a different department – the newly created Customer Experience team. The fact that one of the projects that I’ve spent the last year working on is going to be transitioned to this new position was one of the main reasons that I applied. The posting closes today, so we’ll see if there’s any traction on it in the next few days. Haiiiii yah (karate chop) Goon!

It seems that things are starting to move quickly with the org changes, so we’ll see what the future holds on the work front, but for now I’ve knocked the Work Goon out!

Now to the Athlete Goon –
One of the interesting things about keeping a ridiculously complex training log is that you begin to see patterns where you wouldn’t necessarily have seen them otherwise. I have mentioned that I’ve been struggling with a tired body and a tired mind, and after writing my Goon Blog, I decided to take a look at my log, and see if there was any pattern in when the tiredness (is this a word?) cropped up.

Well low and behold, it’s like freaking clockwork – every 12 weeks I either get sick, or start to fade significantly, and need to take the better part of a week off to recharge my batteries. Makes you realize that all of those “12 week plans” are 12 weeks for a reason. Other than realizing that I may need to make every 3rd recovery week a REAL recovery week, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. I did mark it in my future logs, so that I know to be aware of it. I think sometimes just being aware that your body will feel a certain way during a part of the cycle helps combat the Goon, because you have expectations for how you should feel, and how and when to fight your battles with him.

Another way to beat the Goon is to practice race day situations. With the upcoming Mission Bay Tri (this is actually called the U.S. Women’s Triathlon Series San Diego – which is too much to type every time, and it’s taking place at Mission Bay) just a week away, Lilac and I decided to do a time trial to get a feel for putting the race together, practicing transitions, and having me spew out rule after rule to Lilac, which bless her heart, she just accepts and goes with. Since this will be her first race, I wanted her to talk through the process with her as we were doing it, so that on race day we wouldn’t have a meltdown somewhere because I hadn’t discussed why you needed to leave the bike transition with your bike in easy gears even though you don’t feel comfortable in them… etc.

We rode our bikes to the gym, nice and easy. (Wow was is beautiful this weekend? I swear the temperature dropped 40 degrees overnight, and it was absolutely gorgeous out! Still, it was a little chilly in the morning, so we got in the indoor pool.) This is the part of the race that we are both most nervous about – for separate reasons. Lilac is concerned because she thinks she’s not a very good swimmer (she’s made HUGE progress this year) and I’m afraid of getting my goggles kicked off because I cannot see without contacts in, and if the salty sea brine gets into my contacts, well I’ll need to be tethered to Lilac for the remainder of the race because I’ll be blind. We did our 375 meters, and she felt better because she wasn’t even half a lap behind me. We also practiced “beach entrance” because Lilac isn’t the kind of person who normally dives into cold water to get the shock over. She felt much better about the swim afterward, so it was worth it to get in there. She also had about 13 skin products that she decided she needs to bring to transition. (Momo – you’re not the only one who apparently needs to brush your hair in transition – and this for a sprint!)

Our time trial for the bike would be interesting, because we were going to be making 2 ½ loops (6.2 miles) of the paved portion of the Orchid Canal, to see where we were timewise on mountain bikes. Lo and behold, I am actually faster on my mountain bike than I am on my road bike. It’s probably because I’m not frantically trying not to fall off of my bike the whole time – and maybe being able to sit comfortably helps as well. I think I pushed it a little bit too hard on the bike, because my legs were not cooperating when we locked the bikes to a sign, and started the run portion. Good practice though – now I know how hard not to push it.

The run was more of a shuffle, stop, shuffle, stop, but 1.58 miles goes by quickly. We were actually chatting about wedding plans (for her) when all of a sudden our stop line came up on us. I was totally unprepared for it. I guess that means I can tell the Goon that it will be shorter than I think it will, and that might give my legs some extra juice.

Overall, I feel completely confident in our ability to get out there on a beautiful SD morning, and have a great time. So take that Goon!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Run for Congo Women - 10K

Pre-Race: I’m just going to say it – I hate the name of this race. It should be Run for Congolese Women, since that’s what they call people from the Congo. It’s the same as saying Run for America Women, or Run for China Women. I’ve thought many times about just changing it, but since it’s a really good cause, I wanted everyone to be able to actually find the website – . However, since it drives me crazy, it will heretofore be mentioned only as “the race”.

Before I get into the actual event, I do want to mention what a great cause this is, and how grateful “Cassandra” and I were that this race was being held in the Valley. It was a $20 fee, and all proceeds went directly to the support of the Congolese women who are being systematically desecrated and killed in a land war with their men. 54 million women and children have been killed. My $20 will feed and house a woman and her children for a month.

OK now to the event. Cassandra and I were planning on doing this race last year, until my alleged stress fracture happened in July. Also the fact that I had double-booked it with my trip to China nixed it as well. But this year we were healthy, so we decided to go!

It was at Kiwanis Park, starting in the “Sister City Gardens”, which was an apt location. It was a very small race – the highest bib number I saw was 133. It was my first 10K, so there were definitely some nerves, but I’ve been running 6 miles on my long runs for the last couple of weeks, so I was confident that I was going to be able to finish. I also looked at this as a trial for signing up for the Disney Princess 1/2, if I could keep myself at a sub-16min pace. I absolutely do not want to go all the way to Florida, and then get picked up in the loser cruiser for not keeping pace.

The weather had miraculously cooled down this weekend, so we were only in the low 90’s – way better than the summer races, however the race was scheduled to start at 8, then 8:45, and finally at 9am. Frankly I would have preferred to be done by then, but at least it wasn’t too hot.

Race: 9 am, go! Cassandra and I decided to go with 6/4’s, with me dictating pace, and her dictating any additional required stops (I’ll save you the suspense and confirm that yes, in the end I dictated additional stops as well). We had looked at the course map while we were waiting for the gun, but it was… rather convoluted, and I don’t think either of us had a clue what we were supposed to do. They confirmed it was marked, so we assumed we’d follow the signs and everyone else. The course started running down the canal, which we did brilliantly, and then cutting down to go around the lake. That’s when things got interesting – because the marks had us running straight through park areas, and not running on the sidewalks, which is the standard process. It almost felt like cheating, and cutting corners, but we were following the marks and people so we kept on going. We found the first water stop, and went over a hill. Then we lost the trail.

We kept following people, so we felt good. We went around the park area, where the indoor pool is, around the soccer fields, and got back onto All American Way. We saw lots of people coming around the other way, so we assumed there was a turnaround - only we never found it. We did find ourselves back at the water station, so we asked for directions. Too bad the water station lady didn’t know the course. She told us to lap around the lake, so we did. About this time we started getting passed by guys who were yelling to each other that they were on their “last lap around the lake, then going up to the canal and then done”. From that we assumed we had to loop the lake at least one more time after our current loop. We had a plan! We were also really starting to be by ourselves out there. There was a mother/daughter team near us – just as lost as we were – who took turns playing leap frog and navigator with us. Once we completed the loop around the lake, and made a pit stop at the bathroom, we were back at the water station. Keep in mind we have no idea how far we’ve gone, as there were also no mile markers (actually maybe there were on the real course, and we didn’t see any because we weren’t on the real course…). The water station lady now had the same confusing map that we had see prior to the start, which frankly did not help us at all. She told us to go back around the park, and come back around the lake, so that’s what we did.

Somewhere between the water station and the hill to the park, we lost the mother/daughter team. We didn’t see anyone else who looked like they were racing until we hit the same patch where people were going the other way. At this point, the frustration was mounting, and the goon was starting sneak in thoughts of helplessness and wasting time. We decided since we had no idea where we going to cut across the soccer field, and continue on. We went back to the water station. We looped the lake again. Then we got to the canal. At this point we knew where to go!

We went up to the cone, turned around and ran to the finish line – where my mom met us with Sprinkles cupcakes! Yay! Even more exciting was the official clock (about the only race item out there) that said 1:28:31!! However, the fact that we had no idea if we had actually completed the course kept me from being too excited about a successful 10K, and a possible PR.

The best part of the race for me was the mantras that Cassandra and I exchanged at what we assumed to be close to mile markers – that we were grateful for our health, our successes, our friendship, that we didn’t have to walk for war-torn miles every time we needed water, and that we were able to participate in such a good cause.

: I don’t know why I was expecting my actual position and race time to be listed on a website anywhere. There was no chip, or finish time on my bib. I did go home after the race and map out (via satellite map, so I could see the actual sidewalks and paths) the course we took. Counting the soccer cut, and the extra mileage to the bathroom, we successfully completed 6.08 miles. That’s 14:34 per mile, which IS a PR for me for this distance, and is definitely under the Loser Cruiser line, which is great news.

It was a successful race in many ways – completing my first 10K race, our ability to somehow map out our own 6+ mile course, the opportunity to share a morning with a great friend, a PR, confidence towards the Disney Princess ½, and most importantly, giving assistance to women just like us who are in serious need.

John “the Penguin” Bingham said it best: “So many of us have changed our own lives through running that it makes sense we would want to change the lives of others the same way. We can take the drive, ambition, and dedication we used to transform ourselves from couch potatoes to athletes and channel that into making a difference for someone else.”

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Beating the Goon

It’s been difficult keeping my focus positive the last few days (week). My mental Goon has been working overtime to try to keep me down, and I’m tired of fighting him. Part of it is work related, part of it is the juggling, part of it is the nervousness of Run for Congo Women, and part of it is the fact that I feel almost over-prepared for the Mission Bay Tri, especially since I just found out they changed the distances - and made them even shorter!

I’ve alluded to the work thing a couple of times, and since this is my biggest kill joy, I think (hope?) it will be cathartic to write out my frustration, so feel free to skip the whining!

Basically, I love my job. I love my work. I am very well compensated, I have a great boss, I get to work from home, I’m not curing cancer – basically I have nothing to complain about. I actually am really fascinated and enjoying the research into some of the deeper level of the unconscious and how it impacts decision making, which makes design even more fascinating to me. The problem is this: Six months ago they announced that there would be a re-organization, and there would be reduction in staff redundancies – and we literally haven’t heard a peep since then. As the only person in my organization who received an Exceptional rating on the most recent performance appraisal, I feel pretty confident that I will come away with a position. The problem is everyone who’s not confident (which is everyone else) has basically put a big bulls eye on my back, and spent the last six months arguing with me about absolutely every little teeny weeny thing, and it’s starting to get exhausting. Tell me, what does a green square with a checkmark mean to you? What about a yellow triangle with an exclamation point in it? What about a red circle with an x? Well according to my five “peers” (who by the way have no official background/certification in design) these things are “hieroglyphics”, and they think there are “too many colors”. Well I’ve travelled the world, and these are all internationally understood symbols. I just have to fight against 5 Shit-for-Brains to try to get simple efficiencies added to my system, and it’s pissing me off. The good news is that in the future this won’t be the case. There will be one direction, and we’ll move forward without dragging 5 weights around. The bad news is that after six months of no discussion, I’m starting to think the future won’t be here until 2012!

This constant negativity that I’m receiving is creating a feeding ground for my mental Goon. You know, the guy in my head who tells me I can’t run for 90 minutes, or do sprints, or that it’s ridiculous to swim for 2400 meters, when my race is only 375. He tells me that I’m tired, that my legs hurt, that I have a race on Sunday so I should take it easy. Basically the Goon does everything he can to keep me fat, unhappy, and sleeping all hours of the day.

Generally I can fight him. I have tricks. I meditate before bed, and then visualize every single moment of the next morning, and how I’m going to “wake up at 4am refreshed, and ready to go”, get dressed, grab a granola bar, run out the door, go to the gym, start on the bike at level 5 for five minutes, etc etc etc. Generally this works well. For my scariest workouts on Thursdays, I remind myself that I “don’t make decisions while I’m sprinting”, and focus on positive self-talk while resting between sprints. Things like “I can run at 6.6. I’m capable. I have an iron will” that sort of thing. Lately though, none of this stuff is working.

Tuesday was a really tough day. We were told that the announcement was officially coming. There were all these rumors that went against everything I’ve heard to date, we were in full panic mode all day – just to find out that the announcement actually had ZERO information in it, but maybe they’ll have some specifics for us by around the end of October. I had a great practice at GOTR, but it ended on a bad note, and I was physically tired from having run 6.4 miles in the morning, and being out with the girls in the sun. As I was cleaning my bedroom, one of my dogs absolutely attacked the other – going for the kill. I went to bed, and got woken up several times, it was just a long day full of high anxiety. So I woke up Wednesday morning, and didn’t want to go swim. I just had no desire to swim at all. I forced myself to get up because it was weigh in day (no change, really glad I got up for that). I got in the pool and I swam half-heartedly for about 35 minutes, and then the Goon came up with a sneak assault- “Why the hell are you swimming for 90 minutes today? Your race isn’t even going to take you 10 minutes in the water. You could be sleeping right now.” And sadly enough, I had no counter-argument, so I got out of the pool, went home, and went back to bed for another two hours. He also convinced me to make chocolate chip pancakes when I woke up - and they were good.

Some days I struggle with listening to MYSELF, and listening to the GOON. Sometimes I can’t tell who’s talking. Is it me, really strung out and tired, and really needing some extra recovery? Or is it the Goon trying to make me lazy? Wednesday I couldn’t tell, and I frankly didn’t have the energy to fight with yet another negative attitude – even if it was my own.

Today I had a new plan to beat the Goon, who was forcefully telling me that I couldn’t do 2/2 sprints for 55 minutes, and run at 6.6 (I know, everyone else thinks this is a normal pace, but it’s really really fast for me). However, I knew I could do 1/3’s at that speed, and I would focus on my sprinting form instead of length of time. So ha! The Goon was unprepared for my tactical transition and confidence, so he let me be for once. I had a whole workout (biking 12.26 miles, and then running 3.79) without him. It was great! I wish I had thought of it last week...

Sometimes we need to balance between where we “should” be, what we “want” to be, and what we “can do” on a given day. It’s a tough balance, and sometimes we get too comfortable, or we get too strained. We need to learn how to listen to us (my calves are definitely tight) but not listen to the Goon (I maybe felt a twinge when I was getting out of the car). However, I think a little flexibility allowed me to be successful today, and even more important FEEL successful – even though I did less sprinting than last week. Today I beat the Goon by being willing to play the “I’m not feeling it game”, and I’m glad I was willing to get up and do something that still made me feel good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Moon Valley Grasshopper Bridge - 5K

Pre Race: It’s been six weeks since Lilac and I had a race. It was starting to feel like forever, especially since we were going to races every other weekend over the summer. This also starts a four week span of a race every weekend, and some of them are big ones, so I was starting to get a little anxious for the fun to start.

The Moon Valley Grasshopper Bridge 5K raises funds for the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and since PCH saved Lilac’s sister’s life from a 5% chance of survival many years ago, it was something that her family wanted to participate in. Lilac’s sister, “Vibrant”, and her mom, “Larue”, decided to come. Now Lilac’s family is chock full of gorgeous women. At a svelte and willowy 5’11 – 6’0, the girls would be totally comfortable on the runway. And Larue displays how nicely they will mature. I’m grasshopper green with envy over her 50 year old legs. However, since I’ve been a part of their clan for 10 years or so, I’m over my jealousy of their amazing metabolisms and bone structures (mostly). :)

I had fished at Lilac a couple of times to see what the expectations were with the ladies running with us – were we running straight through? Run/walking? Walking? She didn’t seem nearly as concerned about it as I was. I was waffling between being terrified of those long legs taking off and leaving me in the dust, and annoyed that my “prep” race for Run for Congo would become a nice leisurely walk, and I wouldn’t be mentally ready for that first 10K.

Race: The race takes place inside the Coral Gables neighborhood, which is built up against the mountain that creates Moon Valley (Moon Mountain?). It’s relatively flat however, and has many, many, many turns. We set off at a trot (immediately after a picture at the starting line – Larue cracks me up) and Vibrant quickly established that we’d be running landmarks. As a former track star, she said she couldn’t run if she couldn’t see the end of where she was going. Worked for me! So we started the “we’ll run to that corner”, “Ok we’ll start running at that white car, no that’s too far, at the blue trash can, and then we’ll stop at that yellow sign”. We just went with it. They were shorter intervals – maybe 3/2’s, but it was good to be moving.

During our walk segments we talked about how much nicer it was outside (it was almost cool) and how great it was to be supporting Children’s Hospital. Vibrant decided that when we do this next year (wow, we should probably finish this race before we start about next year) she wants to make t-shirts for us that say “Miracle Girl” to commemorate the day she made the front page over Barry Goldwater. Interacting with the girls reminded me that although my relationship with my mom has gotten much better, we still just don’t have that unbelievable connection that Larue has created with her daughters. I could not even innumerate the great Frederick’s panties, and “girl discussions” that we had openly and willingly that would NEVER have been discussed with my mom. It was great to be included and open and girly with the girls. Sometimes I need that more than I need a PR.

About halfway into the race, Larue’s hip started to tighten up, so we cut out the running. That was fine with me – I was having such a great time with the ladies that I didn’t want the race to end. We went over the grasshopper bridge (another picture opportunity) and when we saw the finish line, we ran in as foursome screaming and cheering like we had run the whole thing!

Post Race
: 54 something, no idea where I placed and I don’t plan on looking it up. Today was about enjoying a good time with a great family, and supporting a cause that means a lot to them. I can worry about PR’s and placement next week!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Juggler

A million small things can add up! At some level, many of my small things make me happy – I’m extremely excited to be volunteering and working on the Ops committee for GOTR. I’m also feeling really good about my training on all three events – they are coming along and I feel totally confident for the Mission Bay Tri.

At other levels, small things can take a toll. There’s work – which is a major juggling act on it’s own – with flaming tennis balls that keep trying to light my hair on fire and make me run around screaming for about 12 hours a day. And to top it all off, I’ve decided to implement the 30/5 plan, where I actually try to complete more house work than the daily dishes and laundry, feeding the dogs, and making J’s coffee for the next morning. My plan is simple: There are five rooms in our house that we actively live in – our bedroom, our bathroom, the living room, kitchen, and the house bathroom. So, I’m trying to spend 30 minutes a day on one of those rooms during each day of the week. Hence 30/5. My thought is that eventually I’ll get through the standard mess, and be able to handle things like window shutters, and baseboards. And yes, the 30 minute time constraint is to keep me from going off the OCD deep end, where I find myself ironing my shower curtain and wearing toothbrushes out on corners and tile grout – help help!

I’ve got to tell you, it’s not as easy as it sounds. As someone who absolutely cannot procrastinate, I find myself constantly anticipating the cleaning that I have to do that evening. I drive myself crazy thinking about what needs to be done, even though the actual process isn’t as terrible as I always remember it to be. You’d think that I could tell myself “You know you’re going to do this at 5pm, and not a minute before, so stop worrying about what you have to do!”. Somehow it doesn’t relieve my stress.

I try to keep it fun by clamping my Shuffle on my shirt, and dancing around as I clean – loosen up the hip flexors, and get myself moving after a long day of mental fugue. Every day I tell myself that it wasn’t as bad as I anticipated, and yet the next day (like today) I’m stressing!

Sometimes I need to step back and look at things a little bit more realistically, though. I recently read one of those chain emails that turned all of your “stressors” around and showed you how truly blessed you are. Yes, I have agreed to work full time, volunteer, attempt to manage my house, and train – but I am lucky that I have a job to be stressed about, that I have the opportunity to make a difference, that I have a house (that I have no fear of losing, like so many right now) to clean, and that I am healthy and motivated to train! It really made me realize that things could be a lot worse!

I’ve been trying to use a personal litany to remind myself to calm down – especially the way things are at work right now (to be another post) and not letting anxiety take hold.

Here are the top 5 things that I say to remind myself to chill:
- No matter how this project goes (good, bad, or ugly) I’m still not going to cure cancer with the end result.
- I am grateful that I have the ability to train without pain, and the wisdom to enjoy the process and not just the results.
- I haven’t had to deal with snow on a daily basis for 10 years.
- Chances are likely that regardless of whether or not my cleaning happens, the sun will shine again tomorrow.
- I have people who love me, and an opportunity to make a difference, what more is life about?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Decision Time

OK so the bike issue.

Basically, prior to starting up my “tri” career, I hadn’t ridden a bike in about 15 years – and I’m not even 30, so it had been a LONG time. I rode my bike almost everywhere as a kid, and loved everything about it – except trying to get it into our 2 feet above the ground raised shed in the side yard. I must have ruined more derailleurs trying to pull my bike up into that shed… fortunately we didn’t care! We were just having fun.

When I bought my lavender road bike, I did it the wrong way. I said “well I’m not sure I’m going to be much into this triathlon thing, so I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a bike at first.” I bought it online. I didn’t know what size I was, and all I looked at was “Well Lamborghini is a good company, and European, they must make decent bikes” and “Ooh I really really love that lavender one!” $250 later… I had a road bike.

A completely useless road bike, that is. Although I loved the color, I soon learned that I should have stuck with a name brand I knew – provided of course that I knew the names of any bike companies, which I didn’t. Basically, I couldn’t do anything with my bike. I could put in a trainer, but I couldn’t get a training wheel, or tire, oh or replace the tubes in my tires because they were some weird long schraeder (sp) valves, and I couldn’t put aero bars on it because of the location of the shifters, and I couldn’t change out my pedals. Oh, I also couldn’t ride the bike for 5 minutes without my hands going painfully numb, and I couldn’t reach the breaks, and I couldn’t reach the ground, and I couldn’t grab my water bottle. After I was run off the road I basically lost all interest in ever touching it again.

Whew, it felt good to get all of that out!

So my options were –
1. Ride my totally unsafe bicycle until the tire tubes pop, and then quit the sport.
2. Buy a new geeked out road bike, at a small sum of $3K+, which I’ll be freaked out about because I already HATE my current road bike
3. Go back to basics, and buy a decently priced mountain bike to build riding confidence, leg stamina, and enjoyment back into my biking life, and let the future happen as it will.

In actuality I debated on #2 vs. #3. I really thought that I “should” go with option #2 – it was the right option if I was “serious” about triathlon. I was going to need to get used to the geometry of being uncomfortable 100% of the time. If I spent enough money maybe I could get over most of that, at least I’d be able to customize it. I even had it all planned out – use my bonus in February, deal with my current bike until then, work hard to build endurance and speed as I could using alternative methods (spin and stationary bikes).

The problem was that I really struggled with the idea of throwing around big money (for me at least) on a bike that was so similar to the one I hated and felt so uncomfortable riding. I had never ridden a road bike before the lavender one, and frankly, those tires are pretty thin. I couldn’t ride that on the road without fearing a fall – even without cars driving at lightening speeds.
Then I went for trail ride with my brother in law on the Cape, on rented mountain bikes, and it started to change my feelings about the options. When I was on the Rail Trail, I felt the uninhibited joy that I felt as a kid riding my bike around my neighborhood. It was natural, it was free, and it was totally comfortable. We rode 20 miles, which was WAY longer than what I was riding on my road bike, and I felt great afterwards. I can honestly say that it was the best part of my trip this summer. I wanted to feel that way every time I got on my bike.

So, I started weighing my options – are mountain bikes as expensive as road bikes? Not hardly! Are they slower? Yes. Are they heavier? Yes. Do I really think I’m ever going to be a “fast” cyclist? No. Will the extra weight make me fitter? Yes. Will I feel confident enough to actually ride on the roads and the canals? Yes. I asked my family what their opinion was (I was afraid to talk to the “real bike riders” because I thought they would unanimously say road cycling was the only “real” option). Lilac bought a bike to use to train for the Mission Bay Tri, and it was a mountain bike. She wanted to ride with me – and I didn’t want to touch my bike. Then Lilac and I went to a women’s only bicycle clinic at Landis on Sunday (highly recommended if you need leverage to do things like change a tire) and talked to Stacey about my dilemma, since she knew about my bike issues – she had been there when one of the Landis guys said “Just buy a new bike Eileen. This one is useless.”

She surprised me a great deal by telling me to go with what I’m going to enjoy, and not to worry about what kind of bike it is, but if it makes me want to get out there and ride. She even told me that she had done triathlon for many years, and that she spent most of her time riding her mountain bike, because it made riding so much more enjoyable for her. I went and saw her today, and she spent a lot of time talking to me, counseling me, listening to me, and finally letting me ride a couple of bikes around to see if she could find something that would fit my uber long legs, with my rather short torso. As soon as we had the right mountain bike we both knew. She actually told me as I was swinging my leg over that all of a sudden it looked totally natural – like a kid swinging her leg over, rather than a nervous and stressed and uncomfortable adult. I took that bike for a spin, and it was amazing how great it felt! I got that exact same feeling, I could zig zag with ease, I could go no hands again. It was a pretty amazing transformation. I also think she was genuinely happy that I came in there so frustrated and left feeling absolutely great – which made me feel even better. The coolest part about my new bike (being assembled today) is that the color is brushed silver – which means I have great options for names – Sparkles? Shimmer? Speeding Bullet? It will name itself before long.

I am so glad that I made this choice, though I know it’s not the one that most people make. I can always by a super duper road bike down the road, but for what I need right now, this is the perfect fit. I want to get out there and ride right now! That’s not something I’ve felt in a long time. I tacked up my Maricopa bike route map on the wall, and I feel ready to GO!

Here’s hoping for many enjoyable miles on the road and the trail!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Becoming a Princess

For the last few months, I have been thinking about my continued training, and what my semi-long term goals are - i.e., beyond the Mission Bay Sprint Triathlon, and the Run for Congo Women 10K, which are my current training goals. They both occur in October, and I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go from there. I’m thoroughly enjoying both running and tri-ing, and as my training plan progresses, I’m starting to move to higher distances. The question is really what I want to focus on next.

I’m all about slow and steady progression. I don’t make outrageous goals, and train like crazy to get there – because all that I’ve gotten out of that path is injury and frustration. Rather, I try to see where I will be if I continue with my current training plans, and see what might be an option at some point in the future. I want to still be running and tri-ing when I’m 80 – so why should I rush to run a marathon this year? I want to enjoy the process that comes from training for each level, and enjoy the success of completing each level – without saying “well it’s only a sprint” or “it’s only a 10K”. Each one of those milestones is a big deal – and I want to celebrate each of the successes.

From a triathlon perspective, the Mission Bay Tri will be my fourth sprint distance. Although it seems like most people move from the sprint to Olympic distance within a season, I feel like I still have a lot of opportunity for improvement here. I specifically want to improve my cycling speed which is atrociously bad (and becoming unafraid of my bike would be a good start). I’d also like to do a bigger race, maybe tackle Tempe Town Lake, and participate with my tri club in a club race. I don’t really want to move up in distance until I feel like I can get through the sprint and it’s a piece of cake. My training has me very confident for the Mission Bay Tri, because I’m doing longer distances than the event is basically every day, including stringing all the events together on Saturdays. The bike thing is a problem though – something I’ll probably be blogging about at some point soon.

Since I’m running 6 miles on my “long” runs now, I’m fairly confident about the Run for Congo Women event as well. I have complete confidence that I’ll be able to finish the race and feel good about it….which is probably part of the reason that I’m starting to look beyond the race to think about where I want to go from there. We all know what the next step is – the half marathon, but it’s a big leap, and in order to prepare myself for taking that leap, I’ve thought a lot about when I think I’ll be nearing that point in my training and what would inspire me to keep growing my distance.

My first thought was the P.F. Chang’s 1/2. I mean, if you’re going to get out there, it helps to have a zillion other slow runners, bands at every mile, and cheerleaders pushing you forward. However, the race is in January, and I think it would be too much of a stretch physically. According to my calculations, I’ll only be at about 8.5 miles for my “long” runs. Because I know myself, that will make me panic, and I’ll start pushing the mileage buildup, and will wind up injured.

If I couldn’t do P.F.Chang’s, I wanted to get involved in a charitable organization that meant something to me, and would give me the incentive to train for a ½ marathon that would be out of town. I knew that programs like Team in Training come with HUGE price tags, and although I wanted to support a charity, I did not want to go door to door to beg for money, and I certainly did not want to put a credit card number down for $3,000 - $5,000. I was thinking that I wanted to personally donate somewhere between $200 - $500, and feel good about why I was running the event. What I found was that even local charities have four digit fundraising requirements. I was pretty shocked by it. You’d think non-profits would be looking for money wherever they could find it… but apparently that’s not the case. I have a lot of respect for anyone who is willing to do fundraising for something they are passionate about – I just haven’t felt strongly enough about an organization to make that kind of commitment.

And then I found Team Tiara.

Team Tiara is actually the fundraising leg for Girls on the Run. I found out about them during my coaches training last Saturday. 80% of donations goes directly the the Maricopa County chapter, which is great. Even better, their minimum donation is $262, with incentives for raising higher dollar figures – which means I can do it out of pocket, and actually SEE the results directly. My company has a matching incentive program, so even with the minimum donation I’d be able to help 5 girls join the program on full scholarship next season. They also do not have an official race, so you can participate in ANY event for them – any distance, anywhere, on any date. I like that kind of flexibility. It took me about 12 seconds to decide that this was going to be my charity. The only thing to find was the right race.

I got home from the coaches training just buzzing about this opportunity. I was telling J all about the training, the lessons, and Team Tiara as I started mindlessly flipping through the new Runners World that had come in the mail – and within the first 5 pages, without even looking for it, I found my race: The Inaugural Disney Princess ½ Marathon. Is there are better event for Team Tiara?

Although I’m not really a big Disney fan (I don’t dislike them, I just also do not particularly identify myself with Snow White, or Tinkerbell), this ½ is perfect for several reasons:
- It’s a women’s only race
- It’s a perfect event for Girls on the Run and Team Tiara, and getting in the spirit of why I’m running the race
- It’s in March, at which point I’ll be consistently around the 10 mile mark (knocking on wood), which I think is close enough to push through the end on that day, without stressing too much beforehand
- My step-daughter, Little Tova, lives in Florida, and we’ve wanted to take her to Disney forever – she’s all about Disney Princesses!
- There’s a kids race where she’ll get a t-shirt and a medal for a 200 yard dash
- It would be good for her to see women celebrating their activity and healthy lifestyle

If all goes well with the Run for Congo Women, I’m going to sign up for this race. And when I finish it, I’m going to feel great about the accomplishment of stringing 13 miles together, of being a good role model for my step-daughter, and of making a difference for girls in AZ who could benefit from Girls on the Run. Oh, and for becoming a Princess!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Girls on the Run

As I alluded to over the weekend, I’ve recently gotten involved with an after school program called Girls on the Run. I’ve participated in the program as a Running Buddy (see Wondergirl 5K race report to laugh about that experience), but I wanted to get more involved with the program.

Basically, the program is for girls from 3rd – 5th grade, two days a week, for 1.5 hours per day. Though many of the activities revolve around running, the program actually uses running/walking/skipping/activity as a way to promote self-confidence, teamwork, friendship, and success in girls before they enter the dreaded teens, and all of the emotional and physical changes that come with it. One of the crazy stats that I learned in training class on Saturday was that 90% of kindergarten girls consider themselves confident when they enter school. By 5th grade, it’s down to 60%, and by 12th grade it’s down to 5%. Every woman reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about. This program works with girls of all shapes, colors, and backgrounds, and instills in them the confidence in themselves and their social skills. At the end of the 10 week course, all of the girls race at the Iron Girl 5k – and they are all winners once they cross that finish line.

My father raised me, and though he was absolutely excellent at keeping me focused on school, getting involved in music, teaching me the rules and the joys of watching football and baseball, and creating a loving home environment, we had neither the time or the money to participate in group activities (other than playing in the neighborhood) or team sports. And, as much as I love him, when it came time to learn about periods, makeup, style, and how to interact with other girls, I was woefully behind schedule. Unfortunately, I was also sensitive of my father’s feelings about being inadequate as a parent, so I didn’t even bring home the permission slips for “girl’s video day” or “health class” – to save him from feeling like his parenting wasn’t enough for me.

We all go through those things, and as an adult I have found the love of running, racing, and tri-ing. These sports have given me so much! Not only am I fitter and healthier, which were my initial goals and reasons for getting into sport, but I radiate confidence. My relationships are better because I not only spend these awesome moments with my good friends, but also because I’m no longer tightly wound. I’m calmer. I’m more centered, and I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I even feel like a girlie-girl, and I love it – thank you Running Skirts!

I think that because of the awkwardness that I felt as a teenager, the lack of relationship that I had with my mom, and the unbelievable and almost indescribable benefits that I have received from running, I want to give back. I want other young girls to be exposed to the peak experience of having a dream, working hard, and succeeding at something that sounded impossible just few months before. I want girls to get outside of the “girl box” and not always evaluate another girl head to toe before even saying hi. Most importantly, I want to give an opportunity to the girls who really need some extra love and support from a mentor. I want to be able to be that person for someone who needs it.

I’m even looking forward to interacting with the 5 other female coaches for my school – and that’s progress!

Girls on the Run is so much fun! Girls on the Run is #1! Woo!!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Just Checking In

For those of you who are interested, my lack in posting this week was not due to a successful holiday disconnection - I did make it to Saturday morning though. I was traveling for work this week, and adequate sleep and some semblance of training was more important than posting the “I’m Tired” blog, which was all I could wrap my head around. :) Thankfully, next week's trip has been cancelled due to all of those hurricanes which are potentially going to hit the Carolinas, so I’m already on the road to recovery!

I will say that I had a great speedwork session on Thursday, and it must be time to take it up a notch, because I felt more comfortable than I should have - which is a great feeling!

I have an all day training today (Saturday) for a volunteer program that I've commited to - Girls on the Run. I'm extremely excited about this program, but I'll save it for another day, because my jet-lagged brain needs to be on point for the long day of knowledge absorption.

Have a good weekend all - I'll be back in form next week!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Disconnecting for the Holiday

I wonder why it is that we fight ourselves so much. Why do we work so hard (professionally and personally) that we don’t even feel comfortable taking a day off?

I plaster my desktop with fantastic beaches, great forest retreats, and majestic wonders of the world – and almost every picture has footprints, or a trail or a sidewalk that I use to imagine that I’m actually running in those beautiful places. When it comes right down to it, though, I spend all of my time in front of this computer, connected to it in a way that is more binding than a physical restraint. I’ve convinced myself that the whole world would erupt in flames if I didn’t check my work email every 5 seconds - and good thing outlook has that little mail envelope alert, otherwise I might not get the email the second it pops into my box - oh and I’m glad that I have my blackberry pinging away next to me, or I might miss the envelope alert.

I know what my body needs to be able to progress – and a day off once a week, and a recovery week once a month are both requirements to a healthy me. They are non-negotiable. Yet somehow, every Thursday afternoon, when I start to prepare for the next morning, I think to myself “Maybe just a very slow swim….” or “I really didn’t get as much biking done as I wanted to this week” or some other excuse crops up into my mind, that makes me actually feel guilty for sleeping in until 6:30am on Friday morning. It’s not like I don’t have a 7am conference call on Fridays to get me out of bed anyway – I actually still feel guilty for sleeping just a little bit longer than most mornings.

Well this week I’m not allowing it. I’m taking Friday off, with nothing to do, and no plans to make it “acceptable”. I’m not going to look at my blackberry, and I’m certainly not getting on the computer. I’m not going to feel guilty about it either. I’m going to get a pedicure, and I might even buy something new for myself that’s not budgeted, and that I don’t need. I’m going to take a nap at least once, and I think some chocolate chip pancakes are in my future.

I’m hoping this disconnection with my checklist, clockwatching, budgeting, email self can last all the way through the long weekend to Tuesday morning. However, I will be satisfied if I can truly try to relax for one day.

Wishing you a safe, pleasant, and disconnected holiday weekend!