Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Onward, ho!

Credit: runDisney
How do I follow up last weekend? There's really nothing that can top that. I have to apologize to all my friends on social media if I keep talking about last week's meet - I'm still on a high from it, and it was such a fabulous moment in my life, that I'm going to hang onto it as long as I can.

But what next? Well, my next big event on my radar is the 2016 Tinkerbell half marathon... but I'm not JUST doing the half marathon, I'm doing the Pixie Dust Challenge, which also means that I'm doing the 10k the day before the half marathon. 19.3 miles in two days. I've done it before, but I was in better shape then.

To be honest, I'm nervous about this too. I've done dozens of half marathons before, but this will be my first - and only - big race since my most recent knee injuries, and it will be my last Disney race for the forseeable future, so I'm feeling extra pressed to be in shape for this race. And so far, I haven't been able to train for it because I've been focusing so much on training for my meet, and that itself was riddled with knee issues.

What now? I only have enough time left to really make sure that I train the distance. Trust me, I'm not planning any PRs this time. I just want to finish on time. I've gone into half marathons with far lower levels of fitness, but the one thing I can't fake is the toll the distance takes. Literally, whenever I haven't trained the distance, the bones in my feet will start hurting by mile 9 or 10, even if I'm just walking, without even trying to run. At this point, I need to prioritize the distance, and just make sure that I go a fast enough pace to finish on time. No heroics - just FINISH. That means I need to be hitting that mileage no matter how long it takes, whether I have to walk, tiptoe, or crawl.


This might very well be the end of my long-distance running "career." Depending on how this goes, I might have to strike half marathons from my list as well, and just focus on getting good at 5k's and 10k's. But for now... I have this one LAST big goal, and I'm determined to see it through.

Send me your good vibes, you guys. I need my knee to hold out just a few weeks more.

Faith, trust, and pixie dust.

Monday, March 21, 2016

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite:
Norcal Powerlifting Regionals, March 20, 2016

I wasn't just nervous going into this meet - I was stressed. As I'm sure you could tell from my previous posts, especially my most recent one (where I mentioned that I was crying in my car), it's been a really long, grueling journey getting through the months of training leading up to this meet: it was the hardest I've ever trained in the history of my training, which meant that I was constantly feeling the effects of it - soreness and aching to keep me up at night, back spasms, hobbling everywhere I went. And my bench press is my weakest lift, so I was legitimately worried that I would bomb out and disqualify myself and not get to move on to the deadlift, and I feel like I've been struggling with this lift every step of the way (probably because I hate doing upper body work).

And then about two weeks before the big day, I injured my already-bad knee not during a workout, but walking around my house on tired legs - I took a sloppy step, there was a sharp pop behind my knee cap, and it hasn't been the same since. I couldn't really bend my knee for days, and I couldn't even do full air squats (bodyweight squats, no barbell) until a few days before the meet. Considering how my planned opening attempt for my backsquat was over 400 pounds, to say that I was nervous would be understating it by quite a bit. I mean, yeah, I was crying after my workout on Wednesday. Visions danced in my head of my knee giving out on the platform, plates crashing down around me, my limbs askew. (I know that wouldn't actually happen, because there are spotters, but I have an overly dramatic imagination, which often works to my disadvantage.)

I wasn't just nervous. I wasn't just stressed, even. I was actually afraid - afraid I would either fail or I would hurt myself severely. Afraid I would let down everyone who has been supporting me and believing in me. Afraid I would let myself down, knowing that (due to other life things) I won't get another chance to do this for a while. The voice in my own head is always the meanest and the most severe.

I was in pretty bad shape, mentally and physically. I wasn't going to quit or anything, but I was seriously considering adjusting my numbers down or dropping to just push/pull (bench and deadlift, no squat). BUT... I knew I would never be happy with myself for it. Even if it would've been the right decision medically, could you be happy settling for less when you know that you're truly capable of more? I could accept it as necessary, but I could never be happy about it.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

"Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear."

I had a really rough day yesterday, emotionally, and then I happened to see these tweets today, and the last one especially so perfectly encapsulated what I went through.

It starts with small thoughts that are nothing out of the ordinary, but then it just piles on, and the weight that each one adds to my mental state grows exponentially - I'm stressed out lately because of my knee injury not healing fast enough and my competition coming up. I'm also feeling a general sense of "battle fatigue" because you know how I feel about racism and sexism, and I feel like, with social media and this being an election year and everything, there are just a lot of disgusting headlines. These have been battering at me in recent weeks.

Then add my stress and guilt about moving to Oregon and particularly about leaving teaching, which I was feeling pretty strongly after sitting through my department meeting which was particularly focused on some stuff that is happening for next year (when I won't be here). Don't get me wrong - moving is still happening, and overall, I'm more excited than anything, but it's hard to shake the guilt of being The One Who Leaves, even though I know that it's the best decision for myself and my family.

But that particular voice in my head won't stop whispering "You quitter," and there's another voice in my head that whispers back, "Well, you were never really that good at teaching anyway. Everyone is better off without you." And keep in mind, as they duke it out inside my head, there are still the first two things stressing me out, the first two voices telling me "There's probably something seriously wrong with your knee, and even if you're fine to lift on Sunday - which MIGHT NOT HAPPEN - maybe whatever you did last week did some PERMANENT DAMAGE!" and also "This world is full of horrible people, and it's all going to hell anyway!" *cue evil laughter*

So I already was in a somber mood by the time I got to the gym, and then I barely made it through my bench press set - even though I know logically that 90% of your max for any MORE than 1 rep is a lot to handle, I still beat myself up for not being able to complete the set, and I was exhausted, and my 90% deadlifts felt way heavier than 90%, and I couldn't do anything else listed for the workout because of my knee.

Oh, and I had started my lady times yesterday too, so... there's that. I mean, on the plus side, it started a few days in advance of my competition, but on the down side, it means I'm definitely not pregnant, and that is something I am hoping to be in the near future. Even now would've cool, universe.

I just... I cried in my car on the way home from the gym. Hell, I cried in the parking lot, walking to my car, and then cried in my car on the way home from the gym.

Damn.I am a MESS.

I know logically that I will be fine no matter what, and that in the end, things will all work out for the best, but once you're sucked into that spiral of bad feelings, it is really hard to stop that onslaught of despair and panic.

Who knows why this happens? Exhaustion? Hormones? Every now and then, things reach a breaking point, and the pot boils over, and then after that... numbness.

I'm still waiting for the numbness. Because after the numbness comes clarity, and I could use some of that for sure.

But for right now? Mess. A big spirally whirlygig of mess.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Leave the couch potatoes out of it

<--- This slogan right here -

It's thrown around a lot. I fairly confident that whoever originally said it, as well as whoever has shared it since, was operating from good intentions and was trying to be encouraging to us slowpoke runners. I'm sure even I've said something like it a time or two.

But what I've come to realize is that... we're throwing the couch potatoes under the bus, and that doesn't sit right with me.

I get it - we want to reward effort. Especially effort from beautiful, athletic people. And if you're not beautiful and athletic, you will at least get rewarded for trying to be beautiful and athletic. Or something like that. Society only seems to be okay with fat people if they're trying not to be fat anymore.

I know this sounds funny coming from someone who has essentially turned into a gym rat, but I'd like to introduce the radical notion that it's actually okay to be on the couch. It's okay to decide that you don't like running or lifting or yoga and to just not do it. It's okay to prioritize other ways of managing your health, or to prioritize other things period.

Maybe you work three jobs, and it's all you can do to make sure your family eats well and still get 6 hours of sleep. Maybe your job already requires intense physical labor and your joints ache when you get home every day and you're downing anti-inflammatories like candy. Maybe you have a chronic illness that keeps you from exercising. Maybe you have been berated/bullied for your weight your entire life, to the point that you have intense anxiety about being seen exercising and the idea of setting foot in a gym or out on the sidewalk scares you to the point of tears. Maybe you are what society calls "lazy" and you're perfectly okay with that.

The point is, it's your body. It's your body, and therefore it's none of my business, and therefore I'm not going to throw you under the bus just to make myself feel better about being a slow runner. I'm not inherently better than someone else just because I go to the gym. My life doesn't hold more value or meaning just because my goals and deeds are athletic.

Because you know what? I was somebody on a couch once. Hell, I'm STILL somebody on a couch much of the time (and if I'm not on a couch, I'm often wishing that I am). I've spent so many years of my life internalizing that BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER message, that these days when I'm actually forced to be "on the couch" (due to injury), I beat myself up for it severely. And it kinda sucks, because clearly, I'm injured and I should be healing, but instead, I'm feeling depressed about "doing nothing."

So, again, I understand the point of the message and what its intent was, but sometimes you can't just consider intent - you have to consider impact too. And whether intended or not, using people who just don't have the means or the inclination to prioritize exercise as your own personal motivation... it just doesn't seem very nice to me. Each and every one of us moves through this world with our own baggage, our own set of obstacles, and to quote the great Atticus Finch, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

So, I beg you, find your mojo some other way - maybe look to athletes who are at a level that you hope to reach; maybe look at your own numbers; maybe just walk around yelling BEASTMODE. I don't know. Just maybe... leave the couch potatoes out of it?

Thursday, March 3, 2016


I have just over two weeks left until my meet, and I'm really starting to feel it. Literally - I've been training harder for this than I've ever trained before, and I feel like all the extra work is taking its toll on my muscles, because I'm constantly achy and tight. But I am trusting the process, and I'm doing the best I can, even if it means that I have to modify/scale sometimes.

As much as I've been griping about how tired I am, I am actually quite proud of the work I've been doing, and this is probably the longest stretch of consistent gym attendance I've had in a while. For fun, here are some highlights from recent weeks of training:

I'm excited, I'm sore, I'm nervous... This is my first full meet, and it's also going to be my last one in California, since I don't think I will be able to fit in another one before we move, and then who knows what will be going on in my life for a while? So while any number I throw up there will be great, I know deep in my heart that I won't be satisfied unless I meet my goals, because it'll be a long time before I have another chance to try. So the pressure is on, even if I'm the only one applying it.

T-minus 17 days...