Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December challenge!

I am not gonna lie. This was hard.

I'm never worried about big numbers (well, maybe for my bench press), but limiting my time to 30:00 is a whole new ballgame. I am totally the one who takes looooooong rests in between sets. This one meant that I had to go in with a plan, and my plan had to include time constraints and working on much less rest than I am normally used to. (Also, I recently took a few days off from coming in for finals and yada yada, and I'm not sleeping well, and I'm having Lady Issues, so suffice it to say that I was not at 100% peak condition coming into today.)

As I said in my caption, I didn't even match my current bench press max (but I guess I was expecting that - I had such a hard time hitting it the first time!), but I PRed my squat and deadlift. They were not totally clean lifts, but I'm fairly confident that if I had attempted them under normal circumstances, they would've gone better.

That said, I still did them, and they still count, and I'm still pleased  about it :)

Happy holidays, errbody!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Asian strong!

At Anchored we have a group of Viet girls whom Steve likes to refer to collectively as "Fitnam." 
This could be because I live in the Bay Area, but at the two powerlifting meets I've attended, I've noticed that there are a lot of Asians. There are a lot of Asians in weightlifting, period, and there was a large contingent of Asians at the Crossfit box I used to go to too. (And I include South Asians and PI-ers when I say "Asians" here.)

I'm not going to pretend that I know the whole history of Asians and weightlifting, but what I can tell you is that it's at such odds with what the rest of pop culture/American mainstream media would show you about us.

Asian men are often portrayed in such emasculated ways. (Unless they're "kung fu fighting," right?) They're always geeks, sidekicks, comic relief - so rarely the hero who gets proper respect and the love of the audience. (There are plenty of cartoonish Asian villains.) Or the love of anyone, really - Steven Yeun's Glenn from The Walking Dead is one of the few examples I can think of of an Asian man on a major show being portrayed as a love interest, especially to a non-Asian woman. (Again, I'm referring to mainstream American media. Of course Asian media is different.)

And Asian women have the double-whammy of being, well, Asian and women. (See also: intersectionality.) Women are already hyper-sexualized and held to rigid standards of beauty. Women are already told not to lift too heavy, or we'll "get too big" or "look like a man." Asian women are also exoticized and fetishized. We're either docile, delicate flowers, or we're dragon-lady seductresses. Or mysterious/borderline-MPDGs token love interests. (I'm looking at you, Wes Anderson.) We're rarely athletes in movies, and definitely never weightlifters.

What Asian people are, and what we're so rarely allowed to be in the media are... total, utterly human beings. We too can be heroes (men AND women). We too can be strong. We too can make mistakes and behave in problematic ways, but we too can inspire and uplift.

THIS is what I see every time I go to the gym - I see the Asian heroes that I never got to see in TV and movies and books while I was growing up. I see strong, sexy, fierce, hardworking, fun-loving men and women who squat, clean, deadlift, jerk, walk on their hands, and run sprints. I see men and women with bulging muscles of varying degree, crushing a heavy weight or flying through the air for a muscle-up. I see spouses, parents, pet-owners, professionals, students, book nerds, and foodies, who are also athletes with each their own strengths and weaknesses, who show up day after day to hoist some barbells and have some good laughs while getting stronger, faster, and more agile.

We're not here to be your goofy sidekick. We're not here to "love you long time." (We're not your wedge either.) We have complexities and complications and triumphs and conflicts, and we are heroes (and villains) too. We have stories that so rarely get told.

American media is changing. These changes have been slow, and we still have a long way to go, but things are changing. And in the meantime, I can take comfort in knowing that I've got a great network of amazing Asian athletes at my gym and in the general powerlifting community whom I can look up to.

Source
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*I'm not ignoring how other races are treated by the media - I'm just focusing on one particular group right now, that I identify with. There are problems all around, and there are people who are in a better position than I am to speak about racial stereotypes for groups that I don't personally identify with, and I'm not going to attempt to speak for those groups here. But know that I'm aware, okay?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Confidence.


Is it weird that I'm more excited about this PR than my other ones?

I think it's because I really had to fight for this one - the bench press is my weakest lift, as it generally is for women. As you can see, I'm not even up to bodyweight, though judging by the weightlifting standards for the bench press, it's generally not expected anyway. But it's my goal all the same.

Part of it is that I'm just way stronger in my legs, and part of it is that I don't bench as consistently as I squat and deadlift, so I'm much less experienced and much less confident in this lift than my other two. I haven't spent nearly as much time on this lift as I have on the other two - I literally didn't start benching until this past January, so I've been at it less than a full year. (I mean, I'm technically kind of a novice at all of this, but I am especially a novice at bench pressing.)

Confidence is super important in lifting. Strength can take me pretty far, but it's confidence that will give me the aggression I need to really move that bar. It was something I learned long ago for my squat and my deadlift, but it's something I still need to work on for my bench.

I get nervous when I test my squats and deadlifts, sure - I have high expectations for myself, and I hate to fail. But when I'm standing on that platform, staring down the barbell on the rack or at my feet, I find my game face and I GO for it. You need to be aggressive coming out of the bottom of the squat, like you're trying to hoist it at the ceiling. You need to be aggressive pulling the bar off the ground in a deadlift. You have to attack these lifts, or you will fail (or at least, you will struggle). Or so Steve tells me.

I have some sort of mental block that keeps me from applying this to my bench press. I guess I've convinced myself that I suck at this, that I will always suck at this, and moreover, that I will drop the bar on my face or something irrational like that. I'm working on changing that. I'm trying to pay more attention when I see other people bench, so I can see what it's supposed to look like. I'm trying to figure out how to position my body that works best for me. I'm trying to incorporate all the muscles I'm supposed to be incorporating, and not just my arm/chest/shoulders.

And I'm trying to just do it MORE. More practice. More consistency. Ever since my competition last month, I've been trying hard to make sure that I dedicate time every week to benching, and as you can see, it's helped.

This wasn't the cleanest lift - I didn't pause long enough at the bottom, and my bar path was slightly off, but I'm surprised that I managed to push it up at all. I remember, in the moment, I just felt so stuck and I wasn't sure how to fight through, and it felt like I was under it FOREVER. But then I got my s*** together and figured it out, and was able to straighten my arms. It looks a lot cleaner than it felt, believe me.

So, I feel like I'm making progress. I'm excited. My total now stands at 1,026 pounds.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

33

Monday was my birthday!

It was a great day! I was absolutely flooded with messages, posts, and hugs, and even though it was a regular Monday (and not conducive to wild party celebrations), it was still a special day. Thank you to everyone who took even a moment of their day to think of me on my birthday :)

Special thanks especially goes out to my lovelies at Anchored for surprising me with cake and presents when I came in to work out!


I love these people so much! How am I ever supposed to say goodbye to them? :(

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Putting in the work

(Photo by Bobby Menbari)
After I started lifting last year, it wasn't long before some of my students - namely, my freshman boys who were hoping to make the football team - found my lifting videos on my Instagram. (It is public, after all.) It's a never-ending source of amusement to me - do fourteen-year-old boys usually look up to their female English teachers when it comes to weightlifting? I'm thinking not.

There's one kid in particular who pops his head into my room every now and then to ask about my numbers, and this week, after a particularly awe-filled shake of his head, he followed up by asking, "How do you DO that? How do you get your total so high?"

The truth is much more complex, but what I told him was: "I show up and I put in the work."

I mean, yes, my genetics plays a huge role. I honestly don't know where in my family this comes from, because if you look at my parents, my grandparents, and all my aunts and uncles, there is nothing that would jump out at you that screams "weightlifter." I don't know anything about my family history prior to my grandparents, but did I have some sturdy workhorse farmers in my ancestry? Warriors? Who even knows. But at any rate, there is some sort of Component X in my DNA. I've always been a stout, sturdy sort of girl - never in my life have I been petite or dainty.

There's also my own athletic history, which I CAN speak to, and which you are familiar with already - I've been a runner for over a decade now, and I also spent a good chunk of time playing roller derby. While I wasn't particularly great at either thing, it did mean that I needed a good amount of strength in my legs, glutes, etc., especially for derby, where you spend a lot of time in a squat.

And the last (but not least) thing, of course, is putting in the work.

I'm not the most consistent person at Anchored. That's the honest truth. I keep pretty busy, and sometimes I have to forego an afternoon at the gym due to being sick, having too much work to do, or tending to my family. But usually I try to lift about 3 times a week, and especially lately, I've been doing my knee rehab routine every single time I come in. Unless I'm particularly pressed for time, I'm there for about two hours for each workout.

People find my PR videos impressive, but in between testing weeks? There's really nothing to see. Watching me lift from day to day is probably really boring. It's not glamorous, and it's not fun. I mean, it's fun to BE there, because I love my gym family and we always have a great time together, but the actual workouts themselves are workouts. It is work. I have to struggle and fight my way through the reps and the percentages that increase weekly. I have to swallow my pride when my coaches ask me to do accessory work that often involves movements that I'm actually quite bad at. And then I DO it because I know it's good for me, and I know I will always be bad at them unless I actually put in the work to get better at them.

It's not exciting. Sometimes it even feels tedious. But it's necessary - if I want those GAINZ... if I want to walk out there at my next competition and know that I've done everything in my power to achieve my goals... if I want to protect my knees... then I have to put in the work.

Don't get me wrong - I love going to the gym. I love going to MY gym; I adore my coaches, and the community we have at Anchored is what makes all the work enjoyable. On days when my own personal motivation is lagging, it's everyone else that helps keep me going.

But what it really comes down to is the work. Day in, day out. It's hard to see it when you're in the moment, hard to see what difference just one more rep or one more set will make, but when I add up all the work I've been doing (or not doing) over weeks or months of training, everything counts. And suddenly the missed days feel like missed opportunities.

So I'm trying harder. I mean, I do try pretty hard, but I could always try harder, and I will. I've got another competition, a full meet this time, coming up in March, and I plan to put in the work, so I can go out there on that platform knowing that I've done the best I could possibly do for myself. My genetics can only take me so far (and it is pretty far, truthfully), but what it comes down to is putting in the work. (And showing teenage boys who's boss.)


Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A big post of thanks


I know Thanksgiving isn't until Thursday, but I won't have time on the actual day (because family!), so I'm writing this up now :)

Between this Thanksgiving and the last, it's been a big year full of changes not just for me but for my loved ones as well:

- I went from running my best marathon ever, to not being able to run at all.
- But then I competed in my first powerlifting meet this year, discovering strength that I never would've thought I had.
- My best friend got married, and I was lucky enough to be by her side for the big day.
- My brother-in-law and his wife had a baby, so I became an auntie.
- Jolie started kindergarten. She's just... growing so much, all the time. She's like an actual PERSON now.
- I finally made the decision to move to Portland, after many years of hemming and hawing about it.
- I am more than likely not going to return to teaching as well.

... and many other things, some of which are not mine to tell.

SO much has happened. There have been a lot of triumphs, as well as a lot of moments of frustration, but overall, I have so much to be thankful for, and I'd like to take the time to express that gratitude now.

I am so grateful to know (and to have been embraced by) so many awesome people. How many people are lucky enough to have, in addition to a blood family and an "in-law" family: a derby family, a school/work family, a knitter family, and a gym family? I've amassed a large crew of amazing individuals who build me up and help me succeed, but also keep my feet on the ground, who indulge my whims and fancies but aren't afraid to tell me when I'm being kind of ridiculous.

And there are a LOT of you. So many. I am so damn lucky. My support network is made up of teachers, derby girls, Crossfitters, weightlifters, runners, knitters, book nerds, makeup artists, and alumni from forward-thinking, liberal-minded schools, so you can probably tell that I know a lot of talented, strong, compassionate, intellectual, caring people.

I would not be who I am, would not have been able to do the things I do, without all of you. Thank you so, so much. A thousand times, thank you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

We're dead upon our feet / but there's joy somehow in me

These last couple of days have been rough. I'm not sore, so much as exhausted - I think I can say, more than ever, that I fully understand Mrs. Bennet of Pride and Prejudice when she keeps going on and on about HER POOR NERVES, because the combination of all the stress, the heavy lifting, the long day, being around LOTS of people (I'm a total introvert in the sense that I get drained really easily around people and I always need lots of alone time to recharge), and the late drive home on Sunday night... well, you get the picture. I barely made it through the school day Monday, and decided that I really needed the day off yesterday because I needed to recover - not my muscles, but my entire nervous system.

I went to the gym last night intending to stretch, foam-roll, do my usual knee rehab routine, and maybe do some light lifting, which we call de-loading........

"WHAT? No way. You're squatting heavy today," says Steve, incredulous that I would dare suggest such a thing. 

I sigh. I frown. But I do it anyway. When your coach invokes the Shia LeBoeuf "JUST DO IT" video, you obey. I'm mentally exhausted, but my body is otherwise fine, so why not? I have a major goal that I'm chasing.

So eventually I get to 365, which is just above 95%, when Steve has me add on a few more of the small metal plates to get me to 390, my actual PR from last time. As I'm chatting with Steve and tightening my belt for the lift, Atsushi comes in and takes off some of those smaller metal plates and replaces with some larger bumper plates. I'm not really paying attention because I think he's just tidying up my barbell (when you consolidate plate weights, it takes up less space - one 15lb plate is narrower than a 10 and a 5), but apparently he was up to something...


I feel like both my coaches were conspiring to get me to 400 yesterday, and I love them for it :) It is not something I would've have chosen to do at the time (I would have eventually but not yesterday), but that's the good thing about having two people who really know you and believe in you - they see things in you that you don't necessarily see in yourself, and you can accomplish things that you wouldn't have thought of for yourself.

Like squatting 400lbs on very tired legs.

Like breaking 1,000 on my powerlifting total (squat plus bench plus deadlift).

I had made that my stretch goal months ago, when Steve had said to me offhandedly that for a woman to have a total around 1,000 pounds is a REALLY BIG DEAL. And so then, of course, I wanted it - I set my sights on that number the same way I once held "26.2" as a distant goal so long ago. It gave me something to aim towards. I wasn't sure at the time whether I'd ever get there or not, but I was going to try my level best.

And now I've done it.

There's a lot more room for me to grow, and there's a lot more work for me to do, but for now... I'm going to pause and reflect on this giant milestone, let it sink in. I'm feeling pretty great. I mean, I'm exhausted, and I feel like I could sleep for days, but... yeah, pretty great :)

Edited to add:
The blog post title comes from this song, which is my post-workout victory song that I blast in the car on the way home. :)

Monday, November 16, 2015

Recap: Norcal Powerlifting American Championships in Concord, CA


Yesterday, I participated in my first-ever weightlifting competition. I didn't do the full powerlifting meet (squat, bench, deadlift), but I did the deadlift-only event, just to get my feet wet. I've observed a powerlifting meet before, but of course, watching is not the same as doing. I decided to sign up for my favorite/best lift and see how things go from there.

How did things go? Gosh, I don't even know where to start.

Maybe we'll back up a little bit: last week, the week before my competition, was a pretty lousy week:
  • The cold/sore throat that had been developing finally decided to hit, and I wasn't able to go to the gym at all for pretty much the whole week. (I finally made it in Saturday morning for some light stretching and knee rehab.)
  • Progress report grades were due. 'Nuff said there.
  • This is totally MY fault, but I didn't even think to look at the Norcal Powerlifting rule book until Gabe, my fellow Anchored member who was also competing, reminded me of it and pointed out that they had specific requirements for gear/equipment and clothing... which sent me into a complete panic that resulted in my crying in the Sport Authority parking lot on Wednesday night because I couldn't find any belts that were legal, and even online, I didn't have enough to shell out for one of the expensive approved brands and the rush shipping it would take to arrive. And you know me, as a runner, I don't like to go into an event with stuff I've never practiced with before. So, to say that I was FLIPPING OUT and losing my s*** over not having a belt and possibly not having an approved sports bra and other stuff would not be overstatement. For a second I even considered scrapping the whole thing, but I knew how many people I would have to make apologies to, and that just sounded like the worst, so I couldn't bring myself to chicken out and disappoint so many people. 
  • I finally found an affordable, regulation-looking belt on Amazon, and since I have a Prime account, I got cheap one-day shipping, so it was supposed to arrive on Friday. IT DID NOT ARRIVE ON FRIDAY. In fact, as of Saturday morning, it was still in Tennessee somewhere. I still haven't received it as of the writing of this blog post. 
At this point... I was too tired, too worn down, to freak out anymore. I finally just accepted the situation for what it was, and would just take things as they came. Tom, president of Norcal Powerlifting, had assured me that lifters borrow belts all the time and that they would have a stash of belts available to use, so... you just gotta do what you gotta do, right? It wasn't ideal, but... nothing ever really is. You just gotta roll with the punches.

The view from my (indoor) window.
Crowne Plaza, YOU FANCY!
So I drove alone to Concord on Saturday, blasting my HELL YES playlist on the way up. After checking in at the hotel (I was staying where the meet was going to be held), I drove over to RAW Center for Performance and Strength to weigh in. Like with other sports, you're divided into weight classes. I weighed in at 204 (and no, I'm not ashamed to share that), which made me too heavy for the 198 class, but on the low end for the 220 class. It turns out that it didn't really matter anyway - I was the only female lifter in my weight class doing the deadlift-only event. In fact, I think I was the only female at all doing deadlift-only -  all the other female participants did the full meet. (There were some men who did single lifts only or the squat-bench combo.)

So as it turns out, I wasn't competing against anyone but myself. But really, isn't that the hardest person to beat anyway - that little voice inside your head that fills you with doubt and anxiety?

I got very little sleep for the couple of days leading up to the meet. Even though I was staying in the actual hotel where the meet was, I was already up at 6am on Sunday morning for the 7:50am rules briefing, because my heart has been pounding like a trip hammer for days, and it wasn't willing to let up.

Too anxious to sit around in my room any longer, I headed down to the meeting at 7:30, and saw the set up - it was smaller and more intimate than the other meet that I observed a few months ago, and I was actually glad for that. I was still nervous as hell, but at least I wasn't in a giant auditorium.

Single platform
Awards - not gonna lie, was hoping I'd get one
So here's how it works: lifters are grouped by gender/sex, and then organized by their projected lift attempts (which we had to provide at weigh in - we wrote down the numbers that we planned to lift for each attempt of each lift, and we can adjust upward as needed). There were five groups - two groups of women, and three groups of men. Each group would cycle through and complete their three attempts for the squat, and then the next group would go, and so on and so forth, and then do the same for the bench press, and then the deadlift would be the last event of the day.

I was the last female lifter, lifting only in the last event, which meant that I had a VERY long day of sitting around and waiting and being nervous. To be honest, that probably wasn't the best thing. I am a full believer in the merits of "Just get it over with," so having an entire day to run through scenarios in my head and just be generally tense and anxious was... not fun.

What made things okay was that we had a crew of people from Anchored who came out to cheer for me and Gabe (who did do all three events). PLUS one of my besties, Lisa, and it was just the BEST. I could not have gotten through this day alone. Some of them, including my coach, Steve, came out really early to watch Gabe do all his events. It was really comforting to have them around the whole day so I wasn't just sitting around by myself feeling like death was imminent. And then a couple of hours before the deadlift, more people showed up, and while I was still nervous, I felt a lot better having friendly faces there.
Family <3
When it was time for me to warm up, I dragged Steve back into the area with me. It's not that I don't know how to warm up, but I was super nervous, and I was in a new environment, using equipment that was not my usual equipment, and we had to time things right so that I was ready, but I wasn't ready too early. I don't know - as I told him, I didn't want to have to do any math or decision-making; I just wanted to lift.

My heart was definitely pounding, and I was breathing hard, and everything was blurry - literally, because I don't lift with my glasses on, and after wearing them all day, I couldn't see too far around me. So as I warmed up, all I could really do was just focus on the ground in front of me and on Steve and Gabe, who was also back in the Lifters-Only area with me.
Usually the heavier lifters go last...

It took me a few minutes to notice, but I was getting some stares as I was warming up. I could see (blurry) people pointing at my bar on the warm-up platform and whispering to people next to them, but you know me, I'm totally in my own head at this point and I feel a little bit like I'm underwater, until a couple of guys (who were doing the pointing and whispering thing) finally asked me, "Hey, what's your opening attempt going to be?"

As I said earlier, you get three tries at each lift. Conventional wisdom states that you want your first attempt to be a little below your current max; your second attempt should be right at (or slightly above) your current max; and then your third attempt should be the GO FOR IT YES YES number. And btw, you have to give them your numbers in kilograms, so I had decided to go with 190kg (418lbs) for #1, 200kg (440lbs) for #2, and 205kg (451lbs) for #3. (I wanted my 2nd attempt to be technically a PR in case I missed the 3rd one - a consolation prize, if you will.)

So I told them my numbers, and they were... SUPER impressed. Which felt nice :) One of them pointed at this HUGE, hulking guy walking by and said to me, "HIS opening attempt is 405. Just telling you, for some perspective." Which was kind of cool. :) And I got a bunch of other nods and encouragement from other lifters, especially guy lifters, while I was waiting for my turn to come up. (If I had known that this was all it would take to get some male attention, I would've started lifting ages ago.) (That was a totally facetious comment, by the way.)

I stepped out onto the main floor and waved to my posse across the room as Steve left to find a spot to record my lifts. And then I was on my own, and it was time.

I want to issue a disclaimer that while everything I say from this point on may sound like not-so-humble-bragging, the truth is that I don't feel cocky about my lifting at all. I get excited and proud of myself for making my goals, but as far as my actual numbers and where I stand in comparison to other people, I try not to get caught up in that. Because you can't control what other people do. I take pride in continually improving - a PR is a PR, no matter where you start - and so, please take everything I'm about to say with the absolute minimum of arrogance.

As nervous as I was about the situation, I wasn't nervous about this number. I've practiced this, exhaustively. I knew I could do it - I just needed to make sure that I followed the commands properly. (You can't put the bar down until the official signals you.) I didn't make it this far to miss a lift on a technicality.

I remember still feeling underwater and blurry as I stepped up to chalk my hands and then walked out onto the platform. (I still hadn't fully adjusted after removing my glasses, which is just as well.) Focusing only on what was right in front of me, I knew I was golden as soon as I wrapped my hands around the bar and found it was the perfect slim circumference for my hands, the grip new and rough under my palms.


All week, Steve has been saying, "GET READY TO TURN SOME HEADS!" and again, I just kinda brush off comments like that (nice as they are!) because worrying about what other people think of me makes me lose focus. I've got to be in this for me, you know? I don't have headspace to factor in other people right now.

That said, that was exactly what happened. My first lift was the highest opening lift of all the female lifters, and it was probably higher than their final lifts as well, and as a result... I definitely got some attention. There was cheering and whooping the second Tom announced the weight in pounds (we are American, after all), and I got tons of high-fives and fist bumps afterwards on my way back to the lifters area, where I got more kudos from the women and especially the men (who were back there warming up, because they were going next).

And so it went.

As I said earlier, I wanted this one to be SOME sort of a PR. I knew I wasn't going to be happy with myself unless I beat 435 somehow, and even though usually I feel like a 5lb PR isn't much to get excited about (unless it's my bench press), I also didn't want to get too ambitious for my second attempt and sabotage myself. A 5lb PR is better than a failed lift. So 440 sounded good to me.


Again, more cheering, more high-fives, more stunned, astounded faces. But it wasn't time to relax yet. I still had one more to go, and this one was the one I WANTED.

I remember back in March when I hit 385lbs as my max, and I was incredulous at the idea of breaking 400lbs, let alone even getting NEAR 450. But when I reached 435lbs a few weeks ago, I realized that it was actually within my grasp - I remember thinking afterward, "I might actually be able to do this. I can hit 450." And I dared to hope that I could do it at this meet - a nice, large, impressive number, "on stage" in front of a big crowd including my gym family... I was thinking that this could be one of the EPIC moments of my life, and I wasn't wrong.


I've been saying this all over my social media posts - this was one of the more surreal moments of my life (second only to childbirth, probably!). I've simply never experienced anything like this, that I can remember. Like, I know this blog post has gotten really long at this point, but in truth, I just have no words that can truly describe how this moment felt for me. :) It was incredible.

I stepped off the platform and immediately hugged Steve and all my other lovely friends, and I was greeted by this onslaught of congratulations from all these people - I got hugged by a woman I didn't know, who was just so excited for me, and one of the officials even came over to shake my hand! Someone stopped me in the bathroom to tell me I was her hero! Tom himself shook my hand and said that he'd never seen a woman lift that much before! As I walked back to the lifter area, it kind of turned into a victory lap with other people offering me more high-fives, handshakes, fist bumps, and congratulations, and IT JUST. FELT. AWESOME. Like I said, it was absolutely surreal, and I was still feeling a little muddy-headed (but in a good way), so the whole world kind of took on a dream-like quality for the minutes following my third attempt.

Oh my god, what a day. What an incredible day. And to top it off, I got a medal! You KNOW how I am about medals!



I mean, okay, the certificate says 1st place, but technically, I won by default because I was the only woman doing deadlift-only. But I'm not dwelling on that too much, because I'm seeing it as recognition for getting out there and meeting my goals. I did exactly what I set out to do, and despite all my anxiety and stress leading up to it, I survived and conquered. And I had a hell of a time doing it.

So what's next? Well, I got several people telling me afterward that they would like to see me come back for a full meet next time, and I'm seriously considering it - I know this is going to sound ridiculous, but I have one big race on the horizon next spring, and it might be a struggle to train for two big things simultaneously.

At the same time... I really want to give it a try. As many kudos as I got for my deadlift, I think more credit should go to all those lifters who were doing two or three events in one day - that takes strength and stamina, you guys. That's something I haven't done yet, and it's something I will have to work really hard at (especially with my bench press which is pretty dismal compared to my other two lifts). So all my awe goes to them. I sat around all day and then gave it my all for one event - they had MULTIPLE events where they needed to give their all, so... dude. They get all my admiration. What I did was nothing compared to all those other lifters.

For now, I'm going to bask in my warm and fuzzy feelings for just a little longer. And then it's back to the gym for me. We've got work to do.

Many special thanks go to:
- Tom Pete, Norcal Powerlifting, and all the staff, officials, and volunteers for making this a great first experience
- All the loaders at the meet yesterday - the dudes who are in charge of putting plates on the bar for each lifter and removing them. Especially for my weights! As someone who hates cleaning up all her plates after a heavy lift, I totally understand how exhausting it is. It's like an extra workout.
- My entire Anchored family, especially those who came out to see me (Ngoc, Raymond, Tim, Christian, Carola, and Cat) and Gabe (who also put up some great PRs yesterday at his first powerlifting meet and who has been putting up with my freakouts and incessant questions over FB messenger), and ESPECIALLY ESPECIALLY my coaches Steve and Atsushi, without whom I never would've gotten here.
- My FAMILY family, including bestie Lisa (who recorded the first two videos above - the 3rd one was recorded by Steve), for supporting me, for being patient with me, for holding down the fort while I spend hours at the gym pursuing excellence.

<3

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Race recap: Mermaid Run SF 5k

FINALLY. It feels like a million years since the last time I posted a race recap.

I wasn't even sure that I was still going to do this one (because of my knee), but I realized that this might be my last chance to do this race (at least for a while), and also, Jolie really wanted to do this run with me. She's never run a 5k before, and she has also never been to San Francisco or seen the Golden Gate Bridge, so I decided just to throw caution to the wind and show up with the intent to walk.

Okay, I didn't TOTALLY throw caution to the wind - I dug out my hefty knee brace that I used to wear as a gasket under my knee pads for derby, think that extra stabilization would help, right? Mind you, I haven't done any walking or running for a while, and the last time I attempted it, 10 minutes of treadmill walking made my knee ache for the rest of the day. Even walking from my car to my classroom every day results in me limping a little, and especially this past week, my knee has been bothering me extra.

Well, the brace definitely helped, because it's been a few hours since we finished, and I feel fine so far. And guess what? *whispers* I even ran very short spurts here and there! *looks around furtively* My cardio endurance is shot to hell right now, so it wasn't a lot, and it wasn't fast, but it was pain-free. Which is just about the best thing ever. Of course, I may feel differently tomorrow or the next time I try to squat, but for now, it feels like a victory. I feel relieved - I survived this one, and even though I'm not the runner I used to be, this means that I don't have to live a life devoid of running and races. I just need to make sure not to get too overzealous jumping back into the fray.

As for the race itself, it's the same 5k course that I remember - this is my 4th time running the Mermaid SF (I've done the 5k before, and the Sirena 10-miler twice), and it was beautiful and the weather was perfect, as it has always been.

How did Jolie do? She actually took off running with my friend Catherine and completely left me behind for the first mile! But then I eventually caught up, and then her tiredness took hold, because she did that thing that kids do when they get OVER-tired and got really cranky and upset, and she was full-on crying and stomping through the sand. But by this point we had already turned around, so it's not like we could just quit and go home, since we still have to walk back in order to get to the car, right? So I tried to talk her down as best I could, letting her rest and even carrying her for a few stretches at a time. (So, essentially, I got a good upper body workout too!) She eventually calmed down and cheered up, and by the time we got back to the race tents, she had decided to take off again with my friend to run through the finish chute, and of course, the crowd was cheering her on and the announcer called her name over the loudspeaker :) I was so proud of her! She finished with a big smile on her face.

I ran the finish chute too, and I felt a little bit like my lungs might burst, but I was just so happy for Jolie and happy about my knee that it felt more like exhilaration than exhaustion.

I feel like things are looking up for me :)




What's on deck? I've got my deadlift competition in two weeks, and then after that, I'm going to make a concerted effort to get back into running. This will probably be my last race for 2015 though. I'm thinking about signing up for the Hot Chocolate Run in January :)

Friday, October 23, 2015

The importance of a female-friendly gym

That awesome moment when you squat 390lbs as a girl, and
everyone is happy and proud instead of feeling threatened or resentful.
(Photo credit: Bobby Menbari of Tabata Times)
I've waxed ecstatic about my gym, Anchored Strength & Conditioning, before, and as you could probably tell from my lifting videos, things are going really well for me on that front. I've found a place where I belong and I've found a sport that I can excel at.

This isn't everyone's story. At least, this is not every woman's story. I've read more than my fair share of comments and blogs from women who get bothered (at best) and harassed (at worst) when they go to the gym. And that sucks, for many reasons. Women are expected to be attractive and sexy, which includes being fit and thin, so that often necessitates going to the gym. And while they're AT the gym, working hard and trying to achieve their goals, they also get treated like objects and eye candy. Or, if they're not considered attractive and sexy, they are objects of ridicule. Or, they're told that they're going to be get "too big" and look "like a man."

Do we not deserve a place to be ourselves, a place where we can shut out other people's opinions of us? A place where we can let OUT all the toxicity we've been taking in, instead of being forced to take in more?

This is why I'm so lucky to have my gym.

Just because a gym lets women through the door, it doesn't necessarily mean it's female-friendly. I mean, let's face it, money is money, right? Of course they're going to let you in. But that doesn't mean that women are always welcomed in the weight room as equal participants.

So what does it mean to be a female-friendly gym? I'll tell you what it looks like to me, based on my experiences at Anchored:

It means that weight loss is a goal only if you want it to be, for your own reasons. (So no one's pushing you to shed pounds in order to get hot.) And that weight loss advice is grounded in common sense and safe activities for your body and fitness level. It means that you receive workout advice based on what you can do, right now, with the body you've got, being celebrated for what you can do, and not derided for what you can't do.

It means that no one, male or female, is warning you against "getting too big" or "manly," and in fact, being told that that's a myth anyway. And it doesn't actually matter how "big" you are - people care more about how you're doing rather than how you look.

Along those same lines, it means seeing a variety of body types, and all those people look content and focused, which tells me that they're all getting equal amounts of attention from coaches and encouragement from everyone. It means that one body type isn't being privileged over another, and that no one is being left behind, no matter their body type or gender or age or whatever.

It means that the men are supportive and encouraging of the women, rather than being resentful, intimidated, condescending, or just plain objectifying. And it means that the women are supportive and encouraging of each other, instead of seeing each other as competition. It means that we can all learn from each other, admire each other, and respect each other.

And again, I'm really lucky that I've found a place like this for myself. This isn't something you can necessarily engineer, especially at a commercial gym (which Anchored is not, and I know that makes a difference). It depends so much on who's in charge, the staff and clients they choose to take on, and the atmosphere they create through their expectations. And you know what? It depends on the example set by the trainers and coaches too. Just like how kids in a classroom are absorbing behavioral cues from their teacher, I think that we as clients are watching our trainers and coaches as well, and the way they behave sets the tone for everything else. So when your coaches are constantly like, "We have such strong girls at this gym!" and "The women are what make this gym!", it means something. When your coaches do not use shame or humiliation as motivation tactics, it means something. When your male coaches are not threatened by strong women, it means something.

Why does it matter? Because it's hard enough to be a fat girl walking into a gym. Actually, it's hard enough being a fat girl, period. Being a lesser-privileged gender and body type (and race, for that matter) means constantly being at the edge of your comfort zone for various intersectional reasons, and existing like that day-to-day is hard enough, period.

And so, in addition, walking into a gym to exercise pushes you even more out of your comfort zone. Because contrary to what the magazines tell you, fitness isn't pretty. The glossy professional photos make people look really awesome, but if you've ever watched someone run, lift, swim, etc. in real life, it's not a "pretty" sight: you're sweaty and red, and maybe your hair's plastered to your forehead, or your face contorts, or you smell bad. Being unpretty (translation: making yourself vulnerable) out in public is a legitimate concern for a lot of people, especially people who are already heavily scrutinized for how they look, so yes, it does take you out of your comfort zone.

Finding a place to work out where you feel comfortable, respected, valued, and even loved? It's priceless.

So here's to all the truly female-friendly gyms, trainers, and coaches out there. Please keep up the awesome work. Please keep treating your women well, in addition to your men, because we all deserve a place to go where we can feel safe and empowered and strong.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The opposite of a bucket list

A quick search on Google tells me that the opposite of a bucket list is a F***-It List, a list of things you have absolutely no desire to do before you die. And while I do have certain things that meet this criteria, I ultimately feel like making a list like that, for me anyway, would come across as more negative than liberating.

Instead, I'm reminded of a blog post I read a while ago (which I can no longer find), where instead of making a list of awesome things she wants to do before she dies, the writer makes a list of awesome things she has already done, that she is proud of and happy about.

I really like this idea. I've been feeling pretty down lately about my knee and about not being able to run. It's easy for me to get stuck in this downward spiral of sadness and despair. And really, I shouldn't because in truth, I'm a really lucky woman. I've had many amazing opportunities in my life, and I've done a lot of cool things.

So this list is not meant to be bragging, humble or otherwise. I didn't make this list to rub anyone's nose in my privilege - rather, it's to remind myself to check mine, and to tell myself that no matter what happens from here on out, I've already led a very full life. (So I should shut the hell up and quit feeling sorry for myself.) I plan to revisit and reread this list anytime I need reminding of that fact.

Awesome Things I've Already Done, No Matter When I End Up Dying (in no particular order):
(There needs to be a better name for this type of list...)
  • I've been platinum blonde. Heck yeah!
  • I've run three full marathons.
  • I lettered in a varsity sport (swimming). In college. After never playing sports ever in high school.
  • I got to yell "GOOD MORNING JOHN, IT'S FRIDAY!" for a Vlogbrothers video. (You can't see me or anything, but I'm definitely in the second crowd with my friend Jeannie.)
  • I've run (or walked) 31 half marathons, thirteen of which were in one calendar year.
  • I was on a Buzzfeed list once. That was pretty cool.
  • I've played roller derby! For an actual league! I even helped my team win a championship trophy one time!
  • I've been to Rollercon, twice! And took classes from my derby hero!
  • I've completed a duathlon and a triathlon.
  • I'm super, super close to hitting 1,000 on my powerlifting total. I'm about to compete in my very first weightlifting competition.
  • I've run a lot of Disney races, including one at Disneyworld and including the Star Wars Rebel Challenge (19.3 in one weekend).
  • I've run a lot of Nike Women's Half Marathons.
  • I've run Bay to Breakers and also a Rock 'n' Roll half marathon.
  • I've also volunteered for a race and cheered others on!
  • I've had posts of mine featured by major beauty bloggers and written book reviews that evoked heartfelt thank you emails from authors, which was also really cool.
  • I've read a lot of books. A LOT OF BOOKS. 
  • I've had a baby, who is growing up to be an amazing person thanks in part to her father, who is also an amazing person, and I love them both so very much.
  • I've earned a Master's Degree.
  • I was awarded the science department medal when I graduated from high school. Even though I didn't end up pursuing science, it's still a major honor to be recognized as superlative among a graduating class full of amazing girls. 
  • I've had a long-ish, rewarding-ish career as a teacher, which has allowed me to reach hundreds of students and hopefully make a difference in at least some of their lives.
  • I've done some awesome Halloween costumes, like making a wig full of Play-doh snakes to be Medusa, or sewing my own 20s-inspired dress for a Gatsby-themed costume, or dressing up in a black and white and red Victorian garb for Erin Morgenstern's Night Circus
  • I can knit, crochet, spin (using a drop spindle), and cross-stitch. I can even sew a little bit. And I'm super handy with my makeup brushes :)
  • I used to sing and play bass guitar in a band. At some point, I've also played piano and regular guitar.
  • I'm about to move to Portland, which is something I've always wanted. 

It's been a good life so far, and it's not over yet. 
Credit: EMM, not Emma

What would you put on your list? I'd love to know! Celebrate yo self!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Nostalgia can really trigger FEELS sometimes.

2001/2015
Dear Teenaged Me,

What would you say to me if you could know what our life would be like now?

What if I could show you that things were not going to turn out how you planned?

Would you just shrug and say "Okay"? Or would you be disappointed in me?

What if I told you that you're not going to be a doctor like you've wanted since you were 6? You're not going to do anything even remotely sciencey, and you're definitely going to be doing anything "glamorous." And that even after ten years on the job, you will still have doubts every single day about whether you made the right decision. Every. Single. Day. The extent to which you will experience Imposter Syndrome wrt your job will be staggering.

And also: you had wanted to get married by 25 and to have at least one kid by 30. Well, the kid part happened. And you're not going to get married, but you're still in love with the same shy boy whom you met when you were 15. And that sounds very sweet and all, but things have been about as far from "happily ever after" and "high school sweethearts" as you can imagine.

What if I told you that while he will be your only partner, he won't be your only heartbreak?

And what if I also told you that you're still going to be heavy and thick, even in adulthood? You will not suddenly blossom into a goddess in your 20s and have men fall at your feet like you're some sort of Carrie Bradshaw. In fact, you will go through some dark times wrt your body and your self-esteem, possibly even worse than in high school, because you had always assumed that when you reached adulthood you would've had this crap all figured out, and the fact that you haven't yet will make you feel extra guilty.

And what if I told you that you will still constantly feel awkward, out of place, boring, and generally unworthy? Those feelings will never go away. You will get better at managing them, but deep down inside, you will always wonder if people actually like you or if they're just being nice. Or like, they think they like you, but if they knew just how dull and mundane you feel 90% of the time, maybe they wouldn't think you were so likeable.

What if I told you that you're still in Milpitas after all this time? I think this would piss you off the most. You always wanted to get out of here. You even went to college out of state because you wanted out of Milpitas. But you will end up spending a lengthy chunk of time in this town that you've never really liked.

But...

What if I told you that, you probably already knew that you'd be happier with literature in your life, regardless of career path? After all, you were already in love with Pride and Prejudice and vampire YAF books back then anyway. That part hasn't changed a bit.

What if I told you that your daughter will be one of the coolest people you know, thanks in part to you and to your really cool partner? And that no, things won't be perfect, and sometimes you will want to tear your hair out, but to quote Taylor Swift, you will come crashing down, but you will come back every time?

What if I told you that your best friend in high school is still your best friend now, and you have also added more amazing best friends to your posse, and that you will learn how to be less judgey of people who are different from you?

What if I told you that, as an adult, you will discover a side of you that you had never, ever considered before? You grew up the fat, nerdy kid, and you will still be a fat, nerdy adult, but you will be athletic and strong anyway. What if you could've known back then that there would be roller derby and running and powerlifting in your life, and that your body would be capable and that you would really love being an athlete? And that some of the most amazing people you have ever met will be people you met through "being a jock"? How would you look at yourself then?

What if I told you that, while you will still feel awkward and out of place and all that, that you will at least find many other people who feel the same way, so at least you won't be alone?

And what if I told you that things can still change for you, even now? That life is never set in stone, and that if you still aren't happy with how things are going, that you can still do something about it?

What would you say to me? What would you think of me?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What happens now?

Thanks, Kaiser. :/
Last week I finally went in to Orthopedics to have my knee checked out by an actual sports doctor. I'm pretty sure my knee issues have been widely chronicled on my blog - I haven't been able to run for weeks because I just keep getting pains in my knee, and it's clear that it's not a bone or ligament issue.

The ortho advised me to get an MRI so we could see if it's a meniscus issue (which is what Steve thinks), and she also told me that I'm developing osteoarthritis that my knee, besides. This means that I can "jog lightly a couple times a week," but I should stay away from marathoning, because my knee will not be able to handle that type of high-volume training anymore.

"It's not the happiest news I can tell you, I'm sorry."

Sigh.

So I'm not doing much of any running right now. Nor will I for the forseeable future, as I've got a lifting competition in November, and I don't want to risk messing anything up for that.

But never running a marathon again? NEVER? I know I've only run three, but I feel like a little part of me just died hearing that.

The second she said that, my mind started immediately going through all my failed attempts to train, and all my missed opportunities. What if I had tried harder those other times? I would have more than three under my belt. What if I had stuck through my training earlier this year? What if I hadn't taken those two months off during the summer?

I don't know how much I can actually run. (I suppose I'll know more after my MRI.) Like, okay, yeah, I can't run marathons anymore, but I can run half marathons, right? Is that okay? Or do I have to stick to 5k's the rest of my life? (And believe me, I don't knock the 5k. Doing it well is an art form.)

First I've had to give up derby to salvage my knee for running. Now I have to give up running. Two things that were a big part of who I am are no longer allowed to be a part of my life (at least, the way that they were). So what does that make me? Who am I now that I can't do these things?

I'm sure things will be fine, and I'm sure I'll find my way. But right now... I'm sad thinking about my running shoes collecting dust in the corner at my house. I miss running. I didn't realize how much I missed running until I realized I couldn't do it anymore.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

So yeah, this is happening...



I'm entering my first competition!!!!!

My coach is even more excited than I am :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Existing in the In-Between

I have at times been thinner, but I have never been thin.
I've been talking to my freshman students about the idea of identity and fitting in and all that, and what I haven't told them (yet) is that you never stop trying to figure out who you are and where you belong, even as an adult.

My whole life, I've grown up believing I was fat and ugly. I got teased pretty mercilessly (by family members even more than other kids, though that happened too). I used to hear all the time how, even as a baby, strangers would stop and stare at me in my stroller because I was just so... globular.

Yeah. People laughed about me being fat even at this age.
I was always a stocky, thick-limbed child, and as a teenager, I dreamed of being as thin as my friends and being able to shop at Contempo Casual and other mall stores. I always dressed slightly older than my age because I couldn't fit junior sizes. I got into fitness in my 20s, but not in a healthy way, and it wasn't until I joined roller derby that I started to see myself as more than my weight.

But even then, and even now that I've accepted my weight for what it is, I'm acutely aware of it. I'm aware of it every time I try to buy clothes online. I'm aware of it every time I try to do a bodyweight exercise and my body feels too heavy for my arms to support. I'm aware of it every time I turn on the tv, look at advertisements, or even shop for yarn to make a sweater for myself (because I have to buy more yarn than someone who is smaller than I am).

So, I'm fat, right? The numbers say so. Society says so.

And then two things happened within the last few months that have made me see things differently:

#1 - Someone on my FB said something to the effect of, "Your before is someone else's after." Which really made me careful about how I talked about my own body after that.

#2 - I was in a group that used the word "Fatties" in the title (in a reclaiming, empowering sort of way), and there was a huge, HUGE discussion about how there were women in this group who were totally not fat, and how their being in the group could be considered infringing on a safe space. And while no one was willing to take the step of drawing a line to indicate who was allowed to describe themselves as fat and who wasn't (like, is there a minimum size requirement?), but the point was that for the women in the group who were larger, it was an affront to see those of us who were smaller using their word to describe ourselves.

These two things made me rethink who I am and where I fit in.

Sure, I've had a lifelong battle with myself, and the casualties included my self-esteem. Sure, I've felt ashamed, excluded, and just plain ugly.

But my experiences are nothing compared to what other fat people have faced. I've never been accosted by strangers. I've never been straight-out told that I should die. It's inconvenient and frustrating shopping for clothes for myself, but it's not impossible.

So... am I... NOT... fat?

I think most people would be overjoyed to NOT be fat (which is a clear result of our society's collective fatphobia), but for me, it was... really confusing. Because now I have no idea what I am. Because I know without a doubt that mainstream society looks at me as someone who doesn't "fit in," but now the group I thought I belonged to also doesn't think I "fit in" either.

And let me be the first to say that I recognize that there are different levels of privilege at work here. I know that. Of course I do. And that that's a big part of what the "fatties" discussion was about.

But for the first time, probably ever, I was questioning which side of the line I fell on.

And this isn't a unique thing - people exist in the in-between constantly. My partner, for example, is biracial, and he's always had issues with how he sees himself vs. how other people see him.

So what does it all mean?

I can tell you what it doesn't mean. It doesn't mean that I don't have struggles, and it doesn't mean that my struggles are invalid. But also, it does mean that I need to take the time to check my privilege, and it does mean that I need to do the work of being a good ally.

Am I fat or not? I wish it didn't matter. And to be honest, most of the time, it doesn't - I don't walk around constantly thinking about it. But sometimes it does matter, and usually, those times occur when other people want to make it matter. And in our society, people care about fatness way more than they should, their own or other people's. As someone who exists in the in-between, I'm going to do the best I can to change that, for myself as well as for everyone else.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Life, lifting, and the pursuit of happiness

So, this is my first written post in a while! I know I've been sharing a slew of PR videos mostly.

School has started again, and that's been taking up most of my time. Between doing all the prep work and then vegging out at home at the end of a long day, I don't have much free time. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things, but there's always an adjustment period. And even though it's my 10th year, I'm still trying to find ways to do things better and to keep myself from getting bored, so even if I'm teaching the same texts, I still have lots of work to do.

So far, my kids have been great. Things are never without hiccups, but I've got a nice mix of kids, and they all seem like good kids. Hopefully things will stay that way.

Outside of work, I've been trying to get back into my groove, workout-wise. I'm no longer training for CIM, thanks to my knee injury flaring up again, and I've been working hard with Steve to rehab it. But by the time I can even start running again, it'll be too late to train for a full marathon, so... I'm sad that this will be my first year not running a marathon in three years, but I know even the average person can't say that they've run three marathons in three years, so I'm trying to console myself with that. I do fully plan to get back to running again when I'm well enough, and I know I'm going to have to start from scratch. It feels disheartening, because I know what I was once capable of, but it won't be my first time starting over. *shrug* That's life, right? You do what you gotta do, for the things that you love.

In the meantime, I've been getting more into lifting.I've finally decided to enter a powerlifting competition in November, after receiving overwhelming support from... pretty much everyone, even people I don't know very well. It's always been an idea in the back of my head, a seed planted by Steve, just as something to consider.

Here's the thing... I don't know much about the sport of powerlifting as I do about other sports. I can tell you names of elite marathoners and I know that their mile time is less than half of my best pace (which I can't even run anymore). I can name some of the biggest names in roller derby, the ones who consistently make it to WFTDA championships with their A-level teams, and I know where I used to stand in relation to them. (That is, very far down the line.)

But what do I know about powerlifting? I know how to do the lifts, but I don't know anything about the sport. People tell me I'm strong, but it doesn't really sink in. I'm used to the sliding scale of running, where my PR is like, someone else's easy pace, but that's okay, because I'm really proud of my times. I guess in my head, I see lifting in the same way. Like, hey, I'm doing pretty well for myself, and I'm really proud of myself, but I'm no one special. I just show up, go through my workout, and then I go home and make dinner. I don't mean to make this sound like a humblebrag or anything, and I apologize if it does - but since I literally don't know anything about what's "pretty good" and what's awesome, I don't really pay attention to where I stand. I mean, really, I just know what's good for me, and that's good enough.

And then stuff happens where I start to think, maybe what I'm doing IS kind of a big deal? Earlier this month, we had an open house/celebration sort of thing at the gym because we recently expanded into a larger space (and it is AWESOME), and usually these functions are the only time where I get to see such a large number of members all at the same time, since we all usually keep to our own schedules.

It's surreal to me every time, when I meet someone new at these things, and they've already heard of me. "Oh, you're THE Thu??" I don't think I'll ever get used to that. I think I'm pretty safe in terms of letting it go to my head, because I totally don't know how to process it when people react to me that way, and then I turn into an awkward turtle. I'm serious - I have a hard time dealing with attention (except for when I'm teaching, of course), so it's not like I'm sitting here patting myself on the back or anything.

I'm bringing this up not because I'm trying to brag, but because actually, I'm in awe. I'm in awe at the absolutely overwhelming amount of support I've been getting from my coaches, fellow gym members, and family/friends at large. I guess I am bragging a little - not about my accomplishments, but about the fact that I've got an amazing network of supporters who boost me up and keep me going. I'm so lucky to have so many people in my life who believe in me.

So, I am going to do this. I'm signing up for a deadlift-only event, because it's not enough time for me to train all three lifts, but I am going to rock the hell out of my one lift because I really want to make you guys proud.

I don't know if I'll ever get around to doing a full competition, because I have some major life changes looming on the horizon (which I'm not ready to share about yet online, but will gladly discuss in person with my real-life friends), but I definitely wanted to get at least this one thing under my belt before those life changes happen.

Because life is uncertain, right? And we've got to carpe that diem before the opportunity passes us by. I don't know where this little foray into powerlifting might lead, but I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Running rut?

I came here ready to post about how I haven't gone running in well over a month, and I feel like I'm in a rut, but I suddenly realized just how many of my posts might say very nearly the exact same thing, and oddly, around the same time of year (summer break).

Going over old posts, I'm realizing that there's a pattern to my "ruts," and they usually occur during summer break and deep winter (like, January/February). And I suddenly thought... What if I'm not actually in a rut?

What if this is just my natural "off-season"? Running is one of those sports that you can do year-round, and the available races each month can attest to this, but maybe that just wasn't meant to be my thing. Maybe (I realize, years into this sport) I need to take long breaks. Focus on other things for a while, and keep myself from getting burnt out.

Or maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better. I don't know.

In the meantime, I've still been hitting the gym. I've been lifting on and off (mostly ON! Yeah!) since November, but I still feel like a newcomer to this sport. I started lifting to support my other sport (running), and along the way, it kind of became a sport for me all on its own. So I haven't been totally inactive, though I've taken a few days off here and there from the gym too, due to life stuff.

So maybe I need to chill out about this. Maybe I need to tell myself that it's good to take some time off, purposefully, and the more pressure I put on myself about getting back to running, the harder it's going to be for me to actually get back to running. So I should just relax, and it will happen.

Right?