Moving on from the Marathon

It was pretty funny.  Last week I spent at least 3 days unable to sleep because the race kept running through my head (oh, remember back at 19, that was rough! oh but mile 24, that was a good one–etc, etc).  I visited the L.A. Marathon message board because I’m a dork and wanted to see what everyone was saying about the race (huge traffic issues getting there, tougher course than imagined with the weird elevation levels, but overall–a quality course).  I tried to focus on curriculum planning, laundry, socializing, but I wasn’t real invested in any of it.  And did I mention tired?  My calves were the only lasting soreness, and luckily that was gone by Wednesday–until my trainer killed me with a post-marathon-workout that should be illegal.

But, here we are, a week later, and I am moving on!  I had a weekend where I didn’t have to do a long run (probably couldn’t if I tried) or NOT drink because I was racing, or wake up super early.  While I needed a break from all that, you must realize that I actually enjoy all of that.  So it can be a bit depressing.  Unless, like me, you’re jumping immediately into training for future events.  I’ve found a way around the post-marathon-blues.  It’s called: triathlon season!

I found an amazing training diary that looks useful.  I mapped out my races for the next 6 months, labeled them in terms of priority, and determined a full season of training workouts in an hour.  I now have a goal (number of training hours) for each week–I don’t go so far as to detail the kinds of workouts…that will come later, but it’s so much smarter than just “training how I feel”–because it helps to keep me from increasing my training load too quickly & getting injuries and all that–but also challenges me to get better through the season & not stay at the same level.

My first race is in 3 weeks (yikes!), but it will get me back into the triathlon world–open swimming, transitions between events, etc–which is much needed.  It’s a sprint tri, too, so I should be able to go pretty fast.  I’ve raced the course before, so there’s a definite comfort level (though I remember a few rough hills on the bike course & the same on the 5k trail run).  Today I get back in the water–I haven’t been in the pool in a month, and I can’t wait to get all three sports going again.  Definitely feels like spinning plates trying to keep up with 3–if you don’t keep them all up, you feel like you’re losing fitness.  Did I mention I was excited?  Oh man, I am.

Classes were great this morning.  I sometimes can’t believe how lucky I am–that I can come into work kind of tired, kind of blah–and feeding off the kids’ energy, we wake each other up & they totally inspire me with their creative ideas & laughs & just pure fun.  They help me transform my curriculum.  One of the silliest kids says to ME after class “Kristy, you’re so sillllly.”  I learned it by watching you, kid!  We intellectualize it too much, but really–the heart of it has nothing to do with your lesson plan, objective, etc etc–it’s about your own willingness to be open to the kids & to the possibility of fun that is always there.   I’m not always willing, but man, when I am–it just feels like I’m completely in the right place.  I spend lots of time wondering about how to get to the NEXT place, always a bit dissatisfied–so it’s good to take a second and say, “It’s not perfect–but moments of it are perfect.”

The marathon always moves me in kind of an emotional way–maybe not as much as it did the first few times I did it, but it still reinforces some of my key beliefs about how I want to move through my life.  I want to do it with a smile on my face as much as possible.  I want my friends and family cheering me on.  I want to know that even in the worst moments, there is a downhill coming, there is a finish line.  I want to surprise myself with my own strength.  I want to have loads of patience.  I want to look around and see everything around me.  I want to challenge myself.  I want to take care of myself.  I want to say thank you to everyone, as much as possible.  The race is a reminder to treat every day this way–but also to be kind to yourself when you don’t get it quite right.

When I tell people I ran the marathon, I sometimes get “That’s crazy.  I mean, it’s amazing–but I don’t get it.”  A marathon isn’t necessarily “fun” for me in the typical way.  But it is much, much more.  It makes me feel alive, connected, part of something–yet still very much myself, my own journey.  Again, I feel in those moments that it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.  So moving ahead—guess it’s time to go decorate some eggs or something???

Marathon Sunday

So this weekend it finally arrived: RACE DAY!  I loved my attitude towards the race this time.  I usually put some kind of pressure on myself since it used to be the “big race” of the year.  But now with triathlons taking over the majority of my year, I could just see it as a day of fun.  I mean, I was still trying to come in between 4:15-4:45, but with my lack of training, achilles issues, etc–I would really just be happy with staying injury-free the whole time.

Mission accomplished!  I finished in 4:29 (yes, very different than 4:30)!  Here’s the mile to mile report.

1-6:  These miles were the HILLS part of the course, which was very easy to handle at the beginning of the race (but probably wore the legs out a little TOO much early on).  We ran around Dodger Stadium (and yes, I took a bathroom break after mile 1!) & then into downtown L.A.  We ran past Echo Park, which was just beautiful that time of day.  I was trying to keep on pace & not run too fast early on.  I listened to slow music to slow me down.  Yes, pretty much on pace!  Mom was there to greet me around mile 5, which was fun!

6-12:  These miles felt really fresh, too.  I loved going down Hollywood Blvd–the Kodak theatre wear the have the Oscars, Walk of Fame, etc etc–and loads of people everywhere along the course.  I was still right on pace & thinking “wow, this is almost a half marathon, and I’m feeling strong.”

12-16:  I start feeling around 14 like “OK, I’m tired” but as often happens, this feeling goes away & I get some energy from somewhere.  Still on pace, but I’m struggling a little to just sit back and enjoy the ride.  I’m tired.  And where’s my mom?

17-19:  I had to stop and use the bathroom again! WHAT?  This never happens to me, and of course having to wait in line is really stressful.  It puts me a few minutes behind my pace bracelet  for a 4:15 time (which tells me what time I should hit each mile marker), which mentally gets to me.  I bring out my pace bracelet for a 4:30 finish, put it on & try to tell myself “gee, you’re really ahead of your pace time!”–but there’s no fooling me, especially when I’m tired and moody.   I see my mom around mile 18.  She hands me the sunscreen I asked her to give me about halfway through the race, but I’m not having it.  “I’m totally soaked.  This is going to slide right off!”  I smeared some across my face and kept on running.  Mom must love my running mood swings.

19-22:  I see my roomie Chuck and dog Effie at mile 19, and all I can manage is “thanks for coming!” and “I’m real tired!”  After  I turned the corner, I thought, “Umm, I’m done with running.  I’m not going to beat my personal record, so I think I should walk.”  And just like that, I started walking.  By this point, lots of people are walking (peer pressure).  I’ve been forced into walking before because of injury, but this was NOT what was happening.  I just felt exhausted.  It may be because my longest training run was 18 miles.  Those final 8 miles seem like a ridiculously long distance to travel.  I thought “OK, I’ll have a 5 hour finish time.  That’s cool.  I’m hear to enjoy this thing.”  But then walking feels super slow and super boring & “a marathon is not supposed to be easy, Kristy!!!”–that voice overrode the rest & after Mile 22–welll…

Mile 22-24:  My mom and my roomie Amy were at mile 22, along with everyone else in Brentwood–super crowds down that street.  This, and the fact that finally there was some downhill (even if it was gradual) to assist me with moving my legs–got me running again.  I had this thing.  And looking at my watch, I realize I could actually have a decent time.  Not my BEST time, but better than most of my times–and I knew I was going to make it completely injury free.  No terrible cramps, bad blisters on the feet, —just that tired feeling that I knew I could sort of shake.

Mile 24-26.2:  I see my boss and her husband–where did they come from?  I was so in my Beyonce zone that I barely saw them, turned around & said hello–and they were yelling at me to keep going (stop hugging!).  They were right.  I was now determined to finish in 4:30.  Instead of a steady pace, though, I walked for a minute or so & then charged ahead–right when I hit 25, I did the same: walked for the first 200 meters or so–then knew I could bust it out for the last mile (breaking it down to 400 meter splits in my head…)—then, out of nowhere–it’s my dad calling my name, I rush over–photo op & when I hit 26 miles, I sprint to the finish.

Now, I was completely spent when I finished.  Part of me wanted to break down in tears for no good reason other than it was over.  But most of me was just thinking (or more likely–saying out loud) “Where’s the water?”  I located mom and dad & we booked it back to their hotel (luckily only a few minutes away from the race) & I ordered a quesadilla, which I never order (the cheese!  those calories will kill me!)–and a diet coke & it was EXACTLY what I needed.  I felt completely revived.  Sore, but healthy.  Me and the parents talked about our various race experiences–what I love so much from having people come and watch me–they get a totally different, equally as exciting viewpoint they can relay back to me.  “Did you see the guy dribbling the basketball the whole way?  What about the USC Trojan guy?”  I then made it out to a delicious dinner & home to pass out, though of course I still couldn’t because my general feeling of euphoria from the race.  Not cool that I had to wake up at 6:00 and put in a 10 hour day–but on the bright side, I got to take the day off from the gym!

Overall, I love the new L.A. course & hope it stays this way (they’ve changed this course nearly every year for the past several years).  There were some big problems with traffic getting 25,000 people to the race on time (we started 30 minutes late), but I think these are things that can and will be improved upon.  It really felt like I was running through so many classic L.A. neighborhoods–downtown, silver lake, hollywood, west hollywood, beverly hills, century city, westwood, santa monica–all with different kinds of crowds–but cheering crowds the entire way.  Sure, at mile 19, I muted the outside world for a bit (please stop telling me I’M ALMOST THERE)–but I never would’ve been able to do this if it wasn’t for all the people surrounding me, running with me, cheering for us, etc.  I love Los Angeles.  There is no other city like it & it gets such a bad rap–but this is one of those events that I feel lucky to participate in.  And proud to say I’ve run the L.A. marathon 4 times now!  And each time totally revives my sense of community in this town.

And to have both of my parents there with me–that they went through the trouble of coming out here–it of course makes me feel like a very lucky lady.  So thanks!

Finally, I am now so thrilled to NOT do any long runs for a very very long time & instead focus on the swim/bike/run triathlon world!  But first, a good night’s sleep.  Thanks to those who put up with all this training/race minutia.  I’d like to say it will stop now, but with my first tri coming up in a month, highly doubtful!!!

Saturday Errands

When I was younger, Saturday morning was for #1 cartoons and #2 weekend errands.  Sometimes the cartoons were partnered with quartered cinnamon toast stacked on top of each other (I took great enjoyment out of each and every piece) & my brother, both of us in pajamas for as long as we could get away with it.  But many times my mom had, you know, stuff to do on her 2 days off–so we would take off early in attempt to “get things done.”

I don’t have a very good memory about where we actually went (the dry cleaners seemed to be a frequent spot, I’m sure the bank or the grocery store or equally mundane places for an 8 year old)–other than, of course BREAKFAST.  I’m not sure what it says about me that my life is largely defined by food, but I think it’s one of life’s great pleasures.  Anyway–there were two options #1) donuts or #2) McDonald’s.  This was by far the greatest part of Saturday errands.  I desperately loved the donuts sprinkled in sugar–when a co-worker brought these in over the summer, I almost died from the sense memory of it all (but only managed to eat 1/2 of one–wow, that’s sugary!).  This coupled with milk or juice, and I was good to go.  Now, McDonald’s was the fancier of the 2.  Sausage biscuit with a side order of hashbrowns & OJ, pleassse!  That combo was brilliant.  Now, if errands started late–we got to grab some lunch at Rosa’s (still my favorite Midland, TX haunt…I would get 2 #16s–the classic bean and cheese burrito) & head over to aunt Becky’s to eat them.

I should ask my mom if this really was a ritual, or if we just did these things once or twice, and I turned it into one in my head.  But I can’t for the life of me ever remember the errands.  Maybe I stayed in the car?  But now, being a grown up and all, I find myself still clinging to the idea of Saturday errands.  You don’t want to leave them until Sunday, you know, because Sunday is the day for rest and fun and all that.  You are too busy during the week to get them done.  So Saturday is perfect.  Except I hate them.  Especially the grocery store.

I’m sitting at home right now, done with the workout, breakfast, the shower, getting ready, even cleaning my room, heck–even eating an early lunch–and still stalling.  Perhaps I should save my eating for when I’m out & create some of my own rituals (hopefully involving less sugar and fat).  I just don’t like crowds, crowded parking lots, buying things.  I still have that New Yorker mentality (buy what you can carry), so the idea of rolling around an actual cart is still difficult for me to grasp.  And I keep telling myself, if I save *enter random chore here* for a weekday, it will be MUCH less crowded.

Anyone reading have any suggestions for making there errands more of an adventure than an actual “errand”–a way to bring some fun into the whole thing?  In the meantime, it’s time for grocery store+car wash!

Tapering and New Focus

Ahh, the last long run is done.  Now it’s taper time!  This is good because I’m super un-motivated today & at 10:30am I haven’t headed out the door yet, so this is not a good sign.  Thank goodness it’s only a 10 miler!  But wait, it’s still 10 miles.  I chose a great route–I use mapmyrun.com  which is awesome (you can also mapmyride for bikes).  It is better at tracking mileage than any device I’m wearing.  Also:  I can design the course in advance & not have to think about where I’m going when I’m running.  Another cool thing about it is that runners can post their routes, so if you’re in a different city or just looking for new routes–you can search for them anywhere.  Running nerds unite!

Anyway, I went to bed too late last night.  This is a problem because without fail, I will still wake up at 6:25am.  Sometimes I can get back to sleep for a little bit–but never enough to make me feel rested.  So that’s why I’m cranky pants this morning.  The coffee is helping, though.

So let the tapering begin!  The marathon is in two weeks (!!!), and I’m so excited about my parents coming out & about the new course.  It’s funny–it’s supposed to be this huge challenge for the runner, but I look at it as a big show put on for me.  I mean, the roads are closed–I get to run through the streets, see performances at every mile, have people cheering for me throughout the course, hydration at every mile, people running beside me in case  I feel like making a new friend, crazy good playlist on the ipod, etc–and then when I finish people are congratulating ME & I get to go have a great meal (with dessert!)  Ridiculous!

While the marathon training has been interesting for me, I’m already looking ahead to what my real focus is this year *triathlons*!  I’ve been thinking about focus lately–where it’s going–and I’ve been struggling with this for a couple of years now.  It feels like I’m trying to do about 100 different things–so of course–I’m doing them all about 20%.  I’ve always been a multi-tasker, a balancer of life–but I have way too many ideas & passions & desires (there are worse things!) to make it work without driving myself nuts.  Recently, I have thought–what if I cut everything out of my life but a couple of things & really put some effort into those.  There is a fear that if I stop putting time/energy into some of my goals, nothing will ever happen with them.  But I gotta say, trying to work towards all of them at once, I usually end up on Facebook farming my day away and avoiding things.

And it is strange.  I’ve always focused on my “career” as being the focal point, and for the past 10 years or so I’ve seen consistent growth & am actually doing what I wanted to do for so long.  Do I want to do it forever?  Of course not, there’s still more I’m capable of.  But what if I just took a break from becoming uber Dr. Drama/save the world/own my own businesses/etc  or IMustMeetTheGuyofMyDreamsNowBeforeIt’sTooLate Messer & put some energy into something that brings me crazy joy: triathlons!

I’ve been running for 10 years.  It started as an attempt to get in shape & within a few months, I knew I’d be running for as long as my body would let me.  There were times during the years where I switched things up–did speed workouts at the track, long runs, etc–but the bulk of my running was the hour long run.  And it stayed in that little hour compartment in my life.  I did it & then I moved on.  Even the majority of my races were finished in an hour’s time, so unless I was marathon training–I didn’t think too much about it.

But as you can see, my blog has become mostly a boring space for me to talk about training.  When I was sort of forced into triathlon training–and adding weights to my routine, I thought it was a fad until my stress fracture got better.  But little by little it won me over.  Everything about it was scary and challenging and rewarding and used my brain, my strength, my endurance, my courage, my sense of humor, my patience–and it all happened outdoors–in the ocean (!), going 40 mph downhill on the bike (!!), & then finishing it off running along some trail totally in my comfort zone.   Not to mention in the gym–where I spent some time yesterday squatting 100 lbs.–where as before I wasn’t confident enough to even step into the weight room.

I’ve been getting by on (in the triathlon world) pretty minimal training.  I put about 7 or so hours a week when I’m training (on a good week…and about 3 of those is on my bike ride, so pretty much nothing during the week) & I’ve still been able to show lots of improvement during races–and even somehow managed to qualify for nationals this year.  So, I can continue coasting by & still having fun–but my secret (or not so secret, if you read this site) desire is to make time in my life for more quality training & see how I react to it.  Do the things I’m supposed to be doing to support my training (nutrition, stretching, foam-rolling, etc) instead of running out of time week after week.

I usually have a reason for entering onto a certain path.  There’s a definite destination or goal.  But with this, I have none.  I still don’t care whether I “place” or not or what my times are.  I’m not planning on giving up my day job to attempt a quick rise to the top of the Triathlon World.  But I guess that’s the reason it’s so hard for me to do: it doesn’t make sense to me.  And isn’t it selfish to put so much time into basically something that just brings ME pleasure?  Aren’t I supposed to be helping others?

I also think about what I will lose if I do this.  I will lose a few happy hours with friends, I will lose some late nights out, I will lose time for random internet dating, I will lose opportunity for growth in my career, etc etc.  But then I think about how my attempts at both growth in my career and my dating life haven’t been going so well lately & how I don’t seem that passionate about either.  Triathloning does not have to be a solo endeavor, either.  I’m a member of the biggest Tri club ever & am always “too busy” (ie: too scared!  new people!) for their group training sessions/social events.  But maybe meeting some like-minded athletes is exactly the place I need to be right now.  For once, I won’t be the only person I know up at 7am on the weekend for a ride.

So, I think I will stop just typing about all that I want to do with my triathloning & actually just go out and do it.  Be at peace and patient with all other areas of my life–and as my mom told me yesterday “when it’s time, it will be easy and less of a struggle.”  Will my friends/ my work/ my dates understand when I say, “No, I need to go swimming.”  or “Not tonight, I’m cutting up my vegetables for the week.” or “I can’t.  I’m riding 40 miles this morning” ?  Maybe not.  They may think I’m escaping the world through cardio, but what they don’t know is that I feel most connected to the world and the people in it when I’m outside actually moving through it.

Look, a blog is a really self-indulgent kind of place for a lucky girl like me (healthy, great friends and family, full time fun job) to debate silly issues like this.  Don’t think I don’t know how completely blessed I am.  All of these are just thoughts moving through my head as I try to become a person that feels completely at ease in her life.  31 and trying to be a grown up.  Who knew that meant cutting things out of my life instead of adding things to it?