Sunday, January 30, 2011

Quieting the Noise

Everyone needs an outlet for their stress.  I’ve found multiple outlets through out the course of my thirty-three years: food, boys, partying, yoga and running.  Some, as you can see, were healthier than others.  Since I discovered running I used that as my outlet to release my stress.  I can be ready in less than ten minutes to unplug and hit the road.  You may think that I’m running from the problem, but the time is used to clear my head and oftentimes, sort out the situation. 

If I need to embark on a decompression run the distance matters; three miles won’t do the trick.  I need at least a good hour to get my mind in the game.  I’m baptized in my sweat, a cleansing feeling, while my ocean-like breathing sets the rhythm for my pace.  I focus on the horizon, briefly glancing at the landscape in my peripheral. 

The recent weather prohibits me from running outside.  Quite honestly, I’m fearful that I will fall.  I’d like to think that I’m still fairly balanced at five months pregnant, but I shouldn’t get too cocky.  There’s no way I can put in a good hour running on the DREAD-mill, so I log what I can, wishing for better weather.  But the junk inside my head is starting to cloud my vision…I need an outlet. 

Yoga works to weed through some of my stress, but I can’t physically move into the ‘good’ poses.  I’ve been reading Eat, Pray, Love and I plan on giving meditation some serious consideration.  Ha!  Sounds like I’m just wasting time.  But, I want to try this; not sure where to start.  I’ll give it some real thought after I’m done with my small bowl of ice cream. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Marathon to Couch: Guaranteed Results in Six Months

This is not the typical fitness program, but it has become part of my journey.  Six months ago I ran a marathon; today I struggled to run/walk six miles.  My mind wants to push my body, but the body is winning – it’s stronger than my mind, these days.

I’m just around the corner to hitting my fifth month of pregnancy and I can finally tell.  Most of my regular clothing is out the window, with the exception of my overly attractive tighter than spandex running gear, I started to give in to some indulgent cravings (like my Saturday night ice cream float) and the baby has increased the level of kicking. 

For two straight weeks there has been enough snowfall to make a mess of the roads.  The residual slush gets pushed to the shoulder and eventually ices over.  Ordinarily I’d hit the pavement and approach those areas with caution.  Not this time.  I’m afraid to fall, so I haven’t run outside in a few weeks.  I have, however, been introduced to the idea of cross-training.  Prior to being pregnant I never cross-trained; if there was time in the day, running was the only option. 

Today, with Ava in good hands, Gus and I went to the snowy-covered trails of the Parkway to meet some friends for a run.  The guys are training for the Tough Mudder in April and I was just along for the ride…only six miles of the ride.  I started my watch and Gus took off like a bandit.  The remaining three of us filed in a straight line to follow the less-snowy groove in the path.  Once the trail opened up, Dan took off.  And then there were two…

Brian and I stayed together for the entire six miles, finding comfort in dry pavement and our silly stories about work, dating, pregnancy and snot-rockets.  At times it felt as if we weren’t going anywhere, but expending a lot of energy.  The snow didn’t offer a lot of traction when pushing off, so we easily became exhausted.  Just shy of the three mile mark we decided to walk.  The run/walk pattern continued for the rest of the hour and twenty minutes.  

My mind wants to believe that I can go faster, but my body knows better.  It’s becoming increasingly difficult for me to come to terms with this natural progression (although I feel like I’m in a regression), but I’m slowly getting there.  It’ll be difficult for me to accept any time over an hour for the Super Bowl 10K on February 6th, but I just need to deal with that.

In the future, there will be plenty of time for me to fret over race times, losing weight, speed training and running at the break of dawn.  Right now, I’m working harder than ever to create a beautiful human being.  

Monday, January 3, 2011

Closing Out 2010

I was excited for December 31st this year: my employer observed this day as the holiday, I convinced a few people to run the Peeps 5K in Bethlehem that afternoon, the weather was going to be gorgeous and I would be indulging in king crab as my final meal of 2010. 

Since it was a Friday, I woke at 4:30 am to get ready for my 5:45 am yoga class.  It was a rough start, considering I only got a few hours of sleep after nursing a terrible reaction to a Ruben sandwich I had for dinner.  I managed to choke down a piece of bread and have some water.  I tripped back up stairs to try on three different outfits – nothing seems to fit anymore and I haven’t found any worthwhile pregnant fitness wear.  Spandex isn’t as forgiving when you’re 17 weeks pregnant.  Hoping to catch a quick snooze after class I tip-toed into my bedroom, careful to not wake Ava, but as my shoes came off I heard her call for me.  “Mommy?  Are we eating breakfast at Mommy’s house today?”  Awww, man. 

I scooped her up out of bed and headed downstairs.  I was absolutely exhausted, so my idea of breakfast this morning was a few dry bowls of Frosted Flakes.  Yup, it’s a junky cereal that I typically don’t buy.  For one reason or another, it’s hidden in my pantry.  I grabbed the box, two bowls, my decaf coffee (pregnant, remember?), a sippy cup of milk and shuffled to the family room.  Disney Playhouse was kicking off an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse while I poured the first (of many) bowls – one for me and one for Ava. 

Over the next two hours, and in between catching a few zzzzz’s we each housed about three bowls.  Marcus woke around 10 am to find me sprawled out on the couch, Ava in a corner with her hand in the cereal box and bits of Frosted Flakes all over the carpet.  Since we were planning to head out the door for 11:15 am, I hopped up off the couch and headed to the shower.   We dropped Ava off at my Mom’s house close to 11:30 am and hit the road towards Bethlehem. 

Oh, we have plenty of time.  Race starts at 1 pm. 

We picked up a mutual friend and stopped at WaWa for a few beverages…and I needed a snack because all those empty calories were a distant memory.  The most direct route to the starting line was halted by a waste management truck, taking their good ‘ol time, and an eventual road block to the start.  Parking a fair distance from the start (maybe five blocks) we jumped out of the car to get ourselves together.  I handed out pins and started to jog down hill.  The men quickly followed suit and within 3 minutes we were at the back of the starting line.  I found two more friends and two minutes later we were off. 

If you race, you know…it takes a while to get into your groove.  Typically, the first 1/4 mile is spent trying to weave yourself in and out of the herd.  It’s quite exhausting and sometimes frustrating.  Thankfully, the road opened up sooner than I thought and the field spread out.  The temperatures, that afternoon, hovered around 45 degrees, sun SHINING; it was a wonderful day for a road race.  As I kept pace with a friend, just back on the running wagon, I occasionally looked around to see how my husband and other friends were doing.  I love being a bully, but didn’t want anyone to hate me afterwards – just making sure that everyone was okay. 

My friend took off as I caught up to the hubby to check in with him.  The knee was good and he looked great.  Good.  Just pulling up on the right was another friend.  The three of us kept pace until we approached a hill along the back side of Bethlehem’s library.  I pulled my shoulders back, took a deep breath and pushed up the hill.  Once I hit the crest I pulled my pace back and leisurely ran down the gradual decline of Church Street. 

Another friend, a newbie to organized races, pulled up along side of me and we stayed together for the rest of the race.  I’d like to say that I held back to stay with him, but I’m not so sure.  In talking with him, he sounded worn down, but he really looked good.  I talked most of the time, hoping that he’d forget the pain and actually focus on our conversation.  Maybe it worked, maybe he was being nice.  I don’t really care.  At the end of the race, I accomplished my mission.  I have run five races in which I have maintained another’s pace for the sake of having them finish the race.  I’ve told jokes and ridiculous personal stories to bring their mind to another place.  My job is to motivate.  I’d be a terrible motivator if I left my friends in the dust. 

We must have been about 3/4 from the finish when I compulsively looked at my watch.  Wow.  I think this is going to be a good time, a good time indeed.  “We’re almost there,” I said, “you’re breathing, right?”  From previous conversations, I know his goal was to finish at 35 minutes.  At the pace we were going, this was going to be smashed.  I told him that I usually kick it into high gear right at the end to finish strong.  He didn’t wait for my queue on this one.  We rounded the corner and saw the finish line in the near distance.  He took off, close to a sprint and I followed closely behind.  All 5’2” of me, with a 17 week protruding belly (because spandex is unforgiving) chugged to the finish line.  He crossed about a second ahead of me – only because I’m pregnant, yeah.  That’s right.  :)

I reflexively stopped my watch.  The larger than life timing clock read just under 30 minutes and we were thrilled while waiting for the rest of our friends to file in behind us.  With smiles on our faces we high-fived, chatted about the ‘glory’ and walked to the tent for some much needed hydration.  What a great day! 

Oh, I almost forgot, the time on my watch.  29:48  There’s his PR.