Saturday, November 7, 2015

Blogging 2015: 880 down, 1135 to go

This was my first non-racing, non-vacation week of running in a while. I went back to work on Sunday night for a 4 day stint. Neither hospital was very active, so the nights were long, and I realize it will be more of a struggle to stay on track than I'd originally thought. It's possible that once I'm back in the regular routine of 7 on/7 off that I'll be better organized with respect to my exercise routine, but I think it's going to take a lot of effort to keep from backsliding.

Monday afternoon, fantastic husband and I took the smalls to CF and went for a 3 mile run while they were in class. We finished just shy of 30 minutes, which I felt good about considering we took 2 walk breaks (one of which was longer than it should've been). It was a lovely afternoon.  This time of year is tricky because it goes from GAH! SO BRIGHT! to umm...where is the light? in about 2.5 seconds. Since I work nights I don't worry about the darkness much as far as running goes. I'm almost always able to run when it's light out.

Monday night was long, so I spent most of Tuesday sleeping and then got up and was lazy. Wednesday I gave some thought to WODing while the kids were at CF, but it involved overhead lunging and squatting and I've learned that anything overhead is a shit idea when I'm tired (barbell to the brain, anyone?). So instead I went for a 4 mile run when I work up. Nice and slow, just enjoying the day. Until a dbag in a jacked up truck felt the need to comment on my shorts.

Thursday I came home and took a nap before hitting the box at 1230 for a workout that looked okay on paper, but ended up being ugly as fuck. Also I got videoed because I'm shitty at double unders and had the good fortune of being used as an example of what NOT to do. Then I laid on the floor and sweated for a while. I did get all my toes-to-rings. 6 pack, here I come.

Friday was a 3-a-day. I went to the #fiveonefive for the partner WOD. My hands were dirty from tire flips and bleeding from snatching when we were finished, but I can't say it wasn't fun. Highlight of the workout? When the coach asked if I could do burpee box jumps any slower and I said "Sure can, wanna see?", because I am an asshole. 

Fantastic husband and I went to noon yoga and sang along to the playlist. I'm hoping the instructor was entertained and not alarmed. It was a good stretch, but even so my shoulders and legs were heavy afterwards and I was a little concerned about running in the evening. Sometimes I get lead legs and even an 11:30 mile feels hard. That makes for a long 6 miler.

So. I went for a night run that wasn't on a Ragnar. I can't remember the last time I ran in true darkness that wasn't during an event. I've run in the early morning, but usually just as dawn breaks, so it's initially dark but gets lighter as the run progresses. Well, now that DST is over, it's dark at 5pm. Full dark. Since fantastic husband is at work today, my planned 6 either had to wait until Sunday or happen on Friday night. Fortunately, one of my gym buddies volunteered to go with me, so we decided to run the Fox River Trail with headlamps blazing. It ended up being a beautiful night for a run. Barely any wind, perfect temperature. I felt pretty damn incredible the whole run. My legs weren't heavy and my breathing came easily. We managed the 6 miles in 59:14 which is very respectable, especially seeing that at the moment I'm only supposed to be maintaining. Speedwork will begin sometime in late January.

My running companion. A gift from my husband.

Fits just right in my palm.

I don't think I could've run that trail in the dark without a companion. Parts of it are very, very dark, and for me the dark is menacing. It's funny. When my kids tell me they are afraid of the dark, I tell them "there's nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light", and in the safety of our home, in the confines of their rooms, that's true. Outside, at night, it's not true. I know that firsthand.

When I was in college, I was attacked. Most of my close friends (at least the ones I've known for a while) are aware of this. I've divulged it to others when it was relevant, but it's not something I bring up casually in conversation. That experience changed me. For the worse, and I think also for the better, but it changed me.

I've always felt somewhat invincible. Young people generally do, I suppose, but I had always been healthy and strong and I was always tall and somewhat imposing. People don't generally fuck with you when you're big and bitchy looking. Women in our society are trained to fear. To fear the dark, to fear being alone, to fear men. I never really felt that way. Until one night, in my 20th year, when I went with some friends to the West End bar on a Thursday night before my senior year of college was about to begin.

I wasn't 21, so I left my ID at home and figured that since I didn't plan to drink, just smoke and play darts, that the bartender would turn a blind eye. He didn't, and made me leave. I was hocked off because 2 of the guys with us were underage but had fake IDs and were allowed to stay. One offered to walk me back to the dorm, but I was pissed off and invincible, so I declined his offer and just left the bar. I was only about 3 blocks from my destination. The street I needed to walk down was well lit. I lit a cigarette and set off.

About a half a block away from the bar, I noticed footfalls behind me. I didn't think much of it and crossed the street into campus. I saw a man who remained on the other side of the street bend down to tie his shoe. I realize now he was casing me, and watching to see what route I was going to take. As I passed the biology building, I heard a voice shout "Hey, do you know what time it is?", and being invincible I replied "Sure, it's about 9:15." and kept walking. Suddenly he was in front of me, his hand on my shoulder and a knife point close to my jaw. And do you know what I thought? "Fuck. This is a new shirt and I'm going to get blood all over it."

What I said was "You've got to be fucking kidding me."

Knife man was not amused. He instructed me to empty my pockets and remove all my jewelry. I had about $6 on me (I wasn't drinking, remember?) and 6 silver rings worth around $40. The fucking watch I used to give him the time was an $8 Wal-Mart special. I removed it all and gave it to him. He was mad. "This is IT. You fucking white bread Princess? Lily white with Daddy's money and this is all you've got?"

He stuffed my cash and jewelry into his pockets, spun me around, grabbed me by the back of the neck and started marching me back the way we'd come. He decided that I was lying, that he was going to teach me a lesson. He wanted to know if I'd ever "fucked a black man" and other assorted vulgar bullshit. He pressed the knife into my side as we walked past a campus security guard. He said "Go ahead and scream. You'll be dead before that fat shit can get across the street." He continued to walk me around the block, back toward the bar I'd left what seemed like years ago, the whole time calling me "Princess". To this day, hearing anyone called Princess makes my lip curl. At this point I started to get mad. What the fuck was this asshole's deal? Who was he to judge me? He didn't know me or anything about my life. The 3 jobs I worked to support myself. The crushing debt I was incurring to get my degree. My fucking broken family and jacked up worldview. So I started yelling at him. In hindsight that may have saved my life. We'd come full circle back to the bar I'd left. Apparently, a screaming bitch wasn't what this guy bargained for. A car pulled up in front of us and instead of forcing me into it, he shoved me down and jumped into the passenger seat. They sped away and I tried to note every detail of the car. Make, model, color, license plate. I'd spent the whole time under his power trying to memorize everything about him. His face, his clothes, his height.

I stumbled across the street and back into the bar. I screamed at the bartender to call the police, the whole time repeating the plate number aloud so I wouldn't forget it.

The police came. I gave a report. I went home to my dorm and spent the remainder of the night chain smoking with my best friend and feeling numb. I felt numb for a long time after. And then, I felt afraid. Cold, dark, stifling fear. I worked evenings at my internship, and often returned to campus after 10pm. This usually meant I had to park far from the dorm. Every time I got out of my car, my heart hammered and my hands went cold. I would shake the whole walk home. One night I got close parking, but when I got out of my car there was a group of men standing on the sidewalk between my spot and my dorm. I felt the fear rise up and clamp down on my lungs. I forced myself to walk past them and onto campus, the whole time fighting down a wave of darkness that felt like it would crush me. One of them called out to me, and I started running. I spent the rest of that night in my room, shaking, with tears sliding down my face.

I started calling campus security when I needed to walk from my car at night. The female officers were sympathetic. The male officers always made me feel like a child. I wanted to tear their faces off.

Then the nightmares started. Every night I was walking home from somewhere west of campus. Every night I would be accosted by a man. Tall, short, stocky, thin, white, black, latino. The man was different every night, but he always, always had a knife. A long, slender blade with a wicked point. He would rob me, then march me back to campus. Some nights he killed me. I would feel the knife slide between my ribs and I would fall. Sometimes I would crawl and claw my way into The Library (a campus bar) and someone would call an ambulance. I would choke on my own blood and die before it arrived.

I started to fear going to sleep.

Ultimately, I sought therapy for the dreams. It helped to talk it out. But my main method of dealing with the event was avoidance. I rarely left the dorm at night if I didn't have to. I tried to never go anywhere in the dark, and if I did I went with other people. I pretended to be fine when I wanted to scream and hide. For years I feared the dark. I feared isolation that didn't involve locked doors. I feared men.

I won't pretend that I'm not still afraid. I deal with it. I confront it as often as I can, and that helps. My first Ragnar found me running through Kenosha at 2am. I had my knife, and I had to pull it. Seeing my weapon made the man in question turn and go back the way he came. Possibly also when I hissed "You want a piece of me?". I'll remind you that I'm kind of big and ugly (well, I certainly am 3 miles in at 2am on no sleep). I was afraid, but it didn't shut me down. I've done many dark legs since, and I've only felt that crippling fear a few times. Each time I've fought through it. Every time I set off on a dark run, it's a big "fuck you" to the man who made me afraid of the dark. I see his face every time. I could still describe him to you, 18 years later.

When I pulled into the parking lot at the trail access point last night, it was very dark, and I won't pretend I didn't feel slightly sick. I locked the doors in my car and turned up the radio. It helped.

Last night I had my knife, even though I had a companion, and I was mostly fine in the dark. There were only a few places that made me feel the familiar tightening in my throat. I focused on the river and the lights and the conversation and ran through it. And it was fine. More than fine. It was fun.

Happy legs.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get over it. I might argue that I have. The fear that once crippled me is now fuel for the fire. People have told me that I take too many risks, running alone on the roads, on the trails, or through the arboretum. I've lost my sense of invincibility, as most of us do as we age, but I won't live my life fleeing from every shadow. I can feel the fear and embrace it. I can look it in the face and beat it back. I can let it sharpen my focus and my awareness without letting it destroy me. Isn't that what bravery is? Feeling the fear and doing a thing anyway?

What do you fear? How do you face it?

Would a knife help?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Blogging 2015: 865 down, 1150 to go (Last Day of Lurong)

So I'm sitting here drinking whisky, which is a total cheat. BUT, I did just spend 90 minutes walking around the neighborhood in the rain following Trick or Treaters. It's medicinal.

Scotch. Neat.

This is my Trick or Treating face.

Why is this neighborhood so LARGE?

Earlier today I went for a puddle jump in the Arboretum. I know I've said it before, but I fucking love the Arb. I'll run it until it snows, and when the weather turns to spring I'll puddle jump again. It was about 50 and raining this afternoon. Perfect temperature. In the trees the wind was a total non-factor and the rain was intermittent except for the big drops shaken from the branches by the breeze. It was beautiful. I stomped or jumped in every single puddle. There were a few nice muddy ones. Not as many as in the spring, but it was deeply satisfying. I've been leaving my headphones behind a lot lately, and I haven't missed them much. Today's run called for some classical music. I actually listen to classical music while I run on a semi-regular basis. It has a mathematical precision that speaks to one part of my brain, and the ability to wring out deep emotion from another part. Sometimes that combo is disaster (PSA, don't listen to the Angus Dei while running after someone close to you dies-catharsis doesn't cover it), but most of the time it is uplifting in the extreme.  I found a version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons done by the London Symphony and played it through the speaker on my phone. It was like running to my own goddamn soundtrack, and it was fucking perfect.

I could smell the earth and the water today. The leaves muted my footfalls to the point where I could barely hear them. Even my breath cooperated, coming easily without that one mile of gasping that usually starts my runs. I crisscrossed over trails I know like the back of my hand, and a few spurs I've never been down. I didn't encounter a single other soul. That is rare, and precious.

Autumn perfection.

I love the bleakness of the Bay.

Afterwards I headed home and peeled off my wet shoes and socks. These Brooks are now my official puddle jumping shoes after last weekend's soaking and another go today.

Soaked through.

I go back to work tomorrow night. I honestly love my job most of the time, so I'm not sad to go back exactly. I will miss just doing whatever I feel like all the time. Having 24 days off in one go is a hell of a thing. I think I'll do it every October. 

My October challenge at the yoga studio came to a close yesterday, and the Lurong is over as of midnight tomorrow. Both of these things gave me a lot this month in particular. Lurong kept me on the straight and narrow from a dietary standpoint, and kept me at it in the CrossFit box for the last 6 weeks. I saw some serious gains as a result. My yoga challenge got me into the studio for 22 classes and improved my technique, strength, and flexibility more than I anticipated. My body has changed a lot (for the better), and my mindset has changed as well.

It seems silly to say that just thinking or saying a phrase to yourself daily can really change your outlook on life, but it actually worked (much to my surprise). I could feel myself becoming less afraid, less self-conscious. I practiced active self-acceptance...and I started accepting myself. Crazy, right?

My final affirmation for the month is this:

Only I define myself.

No one gets to say who or what I am. Only I can do that. What you see when you look at me does not define me. Whatever you think of me is your own affair. I can't change the way you see me, only the way I see myself. So what am I?

I am beautiful and powerful and sexy. I am outspoken and passionate and fierce. I am intelligent and talented and driven. I am impulsive and adventurous and spontaneous. 

I am also insecure and weak and self-conscious. I am anxious and impassive and afraid. I am single-minded and ordinary and apathetic. I am cautious and timid and inhibited.

I am all these things, and I accept that fact. Every day I have worked on accepting it. Every day I will continue to work on accepting it.  My body has done amazing things over the last few months. It will do even more in the months and years to come. My mind has done amazing things as well, and I will do whatever I can to keep that momentum going. 

This year isn't over, not even close. There are goals still to reach, and I will reach them. Buckle up, bitches.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Blogging 2015: 855 down, 1160 to go (Lurong Day 44ish)

This morning started way too early with the dog freaking the fuck out at 2am. She did actually go to the bathroom, so at least it wasn't in vain. I was standing in my backyard schmabs out in a sports bra and sweats under what was basically a full moon. Sorry, neighbors. Hopefully none of you were up late enough to witness that.

A little after 6am I started hearing stirring from down the hall. Fantastic husband was at work and went straight to training after his shift ended, so I was flying solo this morning. Got the smalls fed and off to school and made it home in time to enjoy some delicious, delicious carcinogenic bacon. Also a much needed cup of coffee. 

Last of the hash. Sad face.

I went to the box for 915. My running mileage was from this workout today. Backsquats, 800m repeats, and some pullups and ring dips since I can't (and never will) do a muscle up. I decided to use all 10# plates to make the math easier as the weight got higher. This looks pretty cool, so I took a snapshot, but it's really only 115#. What can I say, my maxes aren't very high. 

Still kind of a badass photo, though.

Originally I was going to go to yoga at 1030, but instead I rescheduled for tomorrow night and went home to shower as I was fairly disgusting and I didn't think it was fair to make the tattoo artist smell me for 3 hours. I pulled on my tattooing jeans (seriously, I wore these when I got my shoulder work done...they're a little bigger on me now, but still comfy with a nice wide leg) and crammed my feet into my $8 slippers. I've decided shoes are stupid. If I can get by all winter with cheap slippers then I win. 

Whoa. I am seriously knock-kneed. #slipperlife

So I spent close to 3 hours laying face down on a table. That makes my lower back kind of unhappy, but it's worth it. As I've said before, I don't find tattoos particularly painful, but the lettering at the top of this? Especially the outline? That shit smarts. Still, it's part of the experience. I earned this ink, and as sick as it sounds, I like to feel it being marked on me. This is a lifelong commitment, and the pain is part of the process. The outline is finished, along with the shading. All that's left is the color on 11/20! I love it.

My first tattoo is on my back and it's a thorned vine that I drew at the end of my college career. I was feeling like a thorned plant at that point in my life-untouchable. I was getting ready to graduate, I'd just lost 65#, and I wanted to commemorate those life events. My second tattoo on my shoulder/back/arm references my children. All 4 of them. The 3 that remain with me and the one that never was.  This tattoo refers to my professional life. I'm a pharmacist, and I got to thinking about alchemy and the first pharmacists...and the plants they used to help or harm that we still use today. So I came up with this idea, and Steve brought it to beautiful life.

I have always been fascinated with tattoos. Some of them are fucking horrifying, but so many of them are astonishingly beautiful. I like the ones with a story the best. If you're just decorating yourself, power to you, go flat out. But the ones that have hidden significance intrigue me, and that's how I choose to decorate myself. I find having ink (especially big, undeniable ink) extremely powerful. It is my armor and my litmus test. Are you going to judge me and make assumptions about my character based on the artwork on my body? They you can fuck right off. I have enough friends. Fortunately, I most often find that these pieces open people up. They want to know the story, and it starts a conversation. From little kids to little old ladies, they all want to know about the pretty flowers. 

And sometimes? A huge tattoo makes you look intimidating as hell, which can be a very good thing.

"All things are poison, and not without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison"

Foxglove, opium poppy, deadly nightshade, and willow bark.

At some point in all this I ate a couple of apples. How's that for a segue.

During my session I got a text from a co-worker informing me that the bossman was freaking because the deadline for our mandatory flu shots is tomorrow. I've been on vacation for three weeks. I didn't get my shot. So when I finished up, I hustled over to Employee Health to get stuck. The nurse said "You're going to feel a poke!" and I thought Yeah, probably not.  Arm is sore as shit now, though. Can't even feel the calf.  I will once I unwrap it. It'll feel like a sunburn for a couple of days.

This is how I was dressed going into the hospital. I've noticed something about this shirt. It makes men stare at my chest. About 20 guys just blatantly stared as I entered and left the hospital. Including a couple of really old dudes. I think this one will be relegated to the gym in the future. I guess I should be grateful it's not a V-neck. It's not that I'm averse to an appreciative gaze, but come on. I'm not trying to X-ray vision your package, you know?


Today's affirmation is:

I do what I want.

Sounds kinda hashtaggy. I've used it as a hashtag. But it's really true. I am very, very fortunate. I have always been encouraged to walk my own path. Sometimes it diverges pretty significantly from the paths of those around me, but it always leads somewhere interesting. Now that I have the obligations of a home and family, sometimes my choices are limited. But they are still choices-my choices-and ultimately I do what I want. I won't pretend I never let myself get dragged down by the expectations of others, but whenever I've made a decision based on what I truly wanted it has turned out remarkably well. I need to remember to trust myself to do what's right for me, and by extension, my family. 

Life is too short to conform to some cookie cutter idea of what I should be. I am what I am, and you can take it or leave it. I do what I want, 38 years running.

When was the last time you did something you truly wanted, and damn the torpedoes?

Monday, October 26, 2015

Blogging 2015: 853 down, 1162 to go (Lurong Day 43? I think?)

I was going to recap the Fall 50, but since I didn't take a single photograph it's a little hard to make it interesting. Also it was my sixth year. So been there, done that in a way. This year we had a friend come up to join us from Alabama, and we conned our neighbor and a fellow rugby wife into joining us for part of the day.
Extra blingy for the 10th year.

The Fall 50 has shit weather about once every 3 years. Shit weather defined as torrential rain, extreme wind, or irrational cold. 2010 was a rainy year. So was 2015. I only got rained on a little, but fantastic husband got pretty well drenched on both of his full legs. He and I split one of the shorter legs later in the day, which was a blessing in disguise as the regular exchange was a total clusterfuck.

Over the years I've had the opportunity to run every leg of the Fall 50, so this year I just picked 2 kind of at random. Some of our friends had a team that was starting at the same time we were, so we paced along with them for the first 2 legs. I'm generally a solitary runner. I listen to my music too loud and go away in my head for the duration. Sometimes I daydream about vacations in Scotland or on an island somewhere. Sometimes I rerun scenes from my favorite books in my mind's eye. Sometimes I sing to myself, or have long conversations with my inner sloth. It's not that I never run with people, but doing so makes me nervous. Am I going to slow? Too fast? Am I talking too much? Not enough? Am I breathing like I'm going to die? Am I even making sense? What if I start farting? It happens.

Leg 2 went fine, I definitely ran faster than I would've on my own. And since my pace was better than anticipated for that leg, I pushed myself to run harder on my second-into-third leg. I passed a lot of people on Leg 8, and it felt good. I didn't listen to music this year because I've been using my phone and I didn't want to risk it in the rain. It's harder to stifle the urge to just walk or slow way down when I don't have a beat to run to, but I didn't do too badly.

Ultimately we had a fun day, got to hang out with some fun people and have some beers, and still made it home to bed by 9pm. Not too shabby. I don't know if I'll Fall 50 again. I won't be buying teams in the future, but if someone needs a runner to whore on, I'm likely game. I should probably mention that "whore on" is a rugby term meaning to jump on a team in need of players. I'm not offering my services to your Fall 50 team as an actual whore. You couldn't afford me.

It was back into the usual swing of things this morning. Got the smalls up for breakfast and assembled lunches while they ate and I drank copious coffee. I ate breakfast early as I was going to 8am yoga.

Apple carrot sausage hash. No egg. Couldn't be bothered today.

I've never gone to this particular yoga class before. It's a style called Yin yoga. Done in a cool room, almost every pose on your back, and you hold them for a reeeeeeeeaaaaaaalllllllyyyyyyy long time. It's pretty much the opposite of "flow" style yoga. I think we maybe did 8 poses over the whole hour? It was oddly intense. Definitely a good stretch, but with a lot more introspection than I'm used to. I don't like spending that much time in self reflection. I'm too much in my head as it is. It's uncomfortable. Which is probably the point. I don't know, it was my first time. 

After yoga I ran some errands and chomped down an apple before heading over to the box to repeat the initial Lurong WOD. 

SweeTango, purchased in the midst of a rainstorm at the Fall 50.

Can I just say I crushed that WOD today? It was hard, and I was tired afterwards, but satisfied. Thrusters can still suck it, but all the rest of my bar work was leaps and bounds better than 6 weeks ago. I was elated to see the improvement. One week left to finish strong. I'm fighting the self-sabotage dragon pretty hard today, as the end is so near and I'm so close to so many of my goals. Send me your stay-the-course mojo please. I need it. 

I stopped over by my tattoo artist to take one last look at my drawing before heading home. I'm in the chair at noon tomorrow! I'm so excited!

Then I came home and cut down some brush in the front yard. Fun times, since I could only find one of my work gloves. I still have more to do, but tomorrow is a new day and I'll have some time before CrossFit. After getting covered with thorns and Russian Sage, I treated myself to a bubble bath. It was lovely.

I didn't feel much like making lunch, so I just had a few meat cookies. I wish I'd gotten a shot of the dog. She was sitting at my feet just vibrating with excitement. I tossed her a few pieces.

Fall 50 leftovers.

I picked up the smalls from school, got them a snack and settled down with a cup of coffee to watch Ellen. I never watch Ellen. It wasn't half bad.

Yep, those are slippers, and I absolutely wore that shit as shoes ALL DAY.

It was CrossFit Kids day, and since they missed last week while we were travelling and picturing, they were stoked about going today. They did KB deadlifts, rope climbs, and running. P finished first, C second. Even L finished strong, doing more than I thought she would (I knew she could, but wasn't sure she would). They were so proud, and I was proud of them. They also fell asleep on the way home from the gym, so I gather they will sleep like small corpses tonight. Win-win-win.

I had leftover chili, because it was a chili kind of a day. Fantastic husband made it yesterday. I even watched him make it and I couldn't tell you what's in it. I'm not even sure he knows. It's never the same twice, but it's always delicious. No beans this go to stay Lurong legal.

As my mom is so fond of saying "You better to everything in your power to hold on to that man." So when I get arrested for some sort of public sex act, you'll know who to blame. That's right. My mother.

Always better the second day.

At the moment I'm supervising homework and trying not to eat cookie dough. Well, I guess I'm succeeding at not eating cookie dough. For now. 

Tomorrow is the box at 915, yoga at 1030, then quickly cleaning up so I can hustle over to Artrageous so Steve can make my right calf pretty. One good thing about having big calves? Big tattoos! I've been contemplating this one for 2 years, since I got my sleeve. I get compliments on my shoulder piece daily (really, almost every day for 2 years and from some very unexpected sources) so I'm very excited to see another one of Steve's masterpieces take shape.

I'll probably need help getting a photo of it...taking pictures of the back of my leg is a yoga move I haven't mastered.

My foray into Yin yoga provided me with today's affirmation.

I will not participate in my own diminishment.

This spoke to me today. I've always tried to be an outspoken advocate for myself. In an academic setting or a professional setting, I am a force to be reckoned with. But I diminish myself in other ways. I let prevailing standards of beauty dictate my happiness. I downplay my talents. (For example, did you know that I can play the piano and the guitar? Also that I am a trained vocalist?) For many years I was literally diminishing myself by trying to weigh less than 140 pounds, and I put many things on hold waiting until I was small enough to "deserve" them. That is some horseshit right there. If you're waiting until you're "thin" to be happy, do me a favor and stop that shit right now. Be happy now. I'm not going to judge anyone for wanting to look their best, but for fuck's sake don't wait to be happy.

I'm done diminishing myself. I am going to take up some motherfucking space. I'm going to mark my body with beautiful colors and call as much attention as possible. I'm going to be bigger and better than ever. Stronger. Faster. Vibrantly, passionately, vigorously happy. And I'm going to do my damnedest to stop others from participating in their own diminishment. Not one of us is "just" this or "only" this. 

We are all capable of remarkable things. Don't forget it. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Blogging 2015: 837 down, 1178 to go RW Fest Race Report (Lurong Day 37)

Big jump in mileage there, yeah? That's what happens when you do 4 races in 3 days, then come home and run your dog for a bit to make your mileage a round number.

Last Thursday night fantastic husband and I embarked on a 1908 mile road trip to Bethlehem, PA for the Runner's World Festival and Half. We drove through the night, taking turns so we could sleep at intervals. Fantastic husband started out and drove us to Indiana. I drove across Ohio and a chunk of Pennsylvania.  It wasn't too bad, as we happened upon a good Google Play station (Awesome Sing-Alongs) so we had a good mix of music to listen to.

I also ate about 3 pounds of grapes in an attempt to stay awake. Ordinarily I'm a constipated traveler. Let's just say that wasn't an issue this trip.

Bethlehem is a lovely town. I said at one point on the drive "I'm not sure what the population of Bethlehem is, but I don't think it's a huge town." Fantastic husband replied "So you're saying it's a *stifled laugh* LITTLE TOWN? Bethlehem is a LITTLE TOWN?"

He waited 900 miles to make that joke. I probably should've laughed. What can I say? I'm an asshole.

We couldn't check into the hotel because we arrived too early, but we needed to change for the trail race. Fortunately, our HTC connections came through for us and we had a place to get situated before going out to South Mountain Park. The trail race was 3.8 miles of ankle breaking loose rocks and tree roots with some grass thrown in. I've never run a technical trail before. It was...challenging. But honestly, it was fun. I finished in 55ish minutes, which I was pretty proud of. No falls, no twisted ankles.  Also? Instant PR.

The aluminum water bottle was our race swag.

After surviving the trail race and waiting for our friends to finish, we went over to the race expo and got our stuff for the official Hat Trick. I was wearing a pair of capris that I don't usually wear, and they were practically sawing my legs apart at the calf. I tend to puff up on long car trips (and plane trips, etc) and that combined with too tight cuffs (seriously, Nike, some women have thick calves) left me with slight edema. I needed compression socks, so I bought myself a pair at the expo.


It was chilly on Saturday morning, but sunny. I opted for shorts and short sleeves for the 5k. The race went really well. I finished in 31:10 and felt strong throughout in spite of the hills. In a way I wish I would've pushed harder for the sub-30 (you know, since we were there with the sub-30 club), but I didn't train and I'm fine with a 10 minute mile. I was cold, though. Note to self: wear an extra layer for a short race.

The races started and ended at the Steel Stacks.

They were dominant in the skyline. Mammoth.

This decommissioned steelworks has been turned into a historical monument, with a catwalk lined with plaques. They are at once eerie and beautiful. Most of the buildings left from the works have been allowed to go elegantly derelict (fenced in for safety). They are haunting, with the trees already beginning to reclaim them. A stunning backdrop to be sure. 

Post 5k selfie. How cute are we? I'm surprised more people don't want to punch me in the face.

Race 2 of 4.

Fantastic husband sub-30'd but didn't PR. After the 5k we had about an hour to kill and a handy jar of moonshine in the car.  I might have gotten a teeny bit drunk before the start of the 10k.

Breakfast of motherfucking champions.

We ran/walked the 10k with a friend from HTC and a random lady we picked up around the 1 mile marker. Her name was Wendy and she was from the area, so we basically got a walking tour of Bethlehem complete with restaurant recommendations. Hashtag winning. And I didn't barf in spite of my drunken state. Hashtag double winning. 

The post race food was great. They had the standard runner's fare of bagels and cookies and what have you, but they also had fruit. And raisins. Holy fuckballs do raisins taste incredible after a (sort of drunk) race.

Hey baby, whassup?

Obligatory post-race selfie.

Goddamn we're adorable.

After the morning's races we went back to the hotel for showers and some chill out time. Later on we went back down to the stacks for the Editor's dinner (don't ask-it was less than satisfying) and walked around taking pictures in the dark. This place is especially poignant at night. I could almost hear the voices of the workers who lost their lives here before unionization and safety standards. Or I could if I believed in that kind of supernatural bullshit.

Lit pink, I'm assuming for the October of it all.

Sunday morning dawned clear and quite cold. No snow as there was in northern PA, but below freezing. I had packed ALL THE SHIRTS, so I pulled out my pink Nike windshirt. I brought along a pair of muppet legs from last year's Fall 50 and combined with everything else, I was extremely very very pink. I wish I had counted how many people on the course and before and after the race had something to say about these silly party-store leggings. I was photographed, people petted me, and an old lady hugged me. It was a weird race.

There were a lot of hills, and I was untrained, but I only finished 4 minutes off my usual "untrained half" pace, so I was happy. No soreness, no blisters, just happiness. I finished with a couple of awesome ladies and was run in by the sub-30 group flag. It was a great day to half ass a half.


After waiting for the very last finisher in the half (dude, wait until the very last person finishes sometime-that shit is inspiring). We headed straight to a Thai restaurant for lunch. Then showers, and then we got very drunk. Well, I did. Very drunk. At something like 3pm. You go ahead and judge. It was fucking fun. Also I made $20 for kissing a chick. Toll money, bitches. 

Monday we drove home. It took 13.5 hours. Fantastic husband and I have been on super long road trips before. We decided to live together during the first one. That's right. We spent a week in a car together and at the end decided we should move in together. You can talk about a lot of shit on a long road trip, and we always do. Sometimes we just sing along to the radio, we laugh a lot, and we explore odd topics and our personal histories. It is never dull. 12+ years in and we're still learning about each other. Plus there are conversations like these:

Me: No. No guns. I have my rage.
Him: You're against gun violence.
Me: Yes. Guns are wrong.
Him: But you'd run him off the road.
Me: Yes.
Him: No shooting, but a little tap on the bumper and...
Me: Straight into a ravine, yes.

He gets me.

Him: One day I'm going to get to a crash to find a woman with a broken pelvis from putting her legs on the dash.
Me: Try not to hit anything, m'kay?

So we got home, kissed the kids, put our clothes immediately into the washing machine, and waited for it to be bedtime. Incidentally the kids were happy to see us for like a millisecond, then scuttled off to watch cartoons. I felt the love. 

I wasn't precisely off the wagon the last few days, in fact I stayed pretty well on course aside from the alcohol. In retrospect I didn't even drink very much, I was just tired and (let's keep this between us) I'm a serious lightweight. I used to be able to hold my liquor (for real, I drank a guy named Wild Bill under the table and I have witnesses who will attest to that). Now I'm fucking Two Drink Amy. One glass of wine leaves me a little silly. Two and I am the happiest person alive. Three? I'm kissing chicks for a twenty.

This morning the kids were off to school and I was back on the straight and narrow with a good breakfast followed by a WOD and an hour of yoga. One of these days I'm going to get arm balance. I will.

The usual.

After yoga I picked up the dog from the kennel. She was ecstatic to see me, and was so happy to be in my lap. Might have had something to do with the peanut butter I gave her.

Am not dog. Am baby. LOVE ME.

I spent the afternoon just sort of putzing around the house. I gave myself a manicure and knitted a bit on my October sock project. I picked up the smalls and made dinner. Only L was willing to try the shrimp dish I made, so I got to eat all the shrimps.


My affirmation for the weekend comes courtesy of a gentleman named Marcus that I met at RW Fest. 

You don't have to be the best to make an impact. Your best can be impactful.

I really love this. I don't write this blog to inspire people. I really don't. I write it because I need a place to dump my crazy, and I do better with accountability (real or imagined). Lately people have been telling me that I inspire them, and honestly that feels strange. I don't think of myself as particularly worthy of admiration. I'm kind of a jerk, actually. But I feel that Marcus is right. Just because I'm not perfect doesn't mean that my little corner of the internet can't speak to people. Maybe watching me struggle with my (many and varied) demons is enough. I screw up a lot, but I try to always do my best...and if that is making an impact? That's pretty fucking great. I am inspired by so many of the people around me. To be a kinder person. A more patient parent. A better athlete. A harder worker. A worthy friend.

Two more weeks of Lurong and my October challenge at the studio. Both have made me stronger in more than one way. The next 7 months will be spent chasing a goal I've let slip away for too long. I've enlisted the help of a professional and some friends to keep me on track. I'm going to give it my best.

I hope it makes an impact. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Blogging 2015: 808 down, 1207 to go (Lurong Day 31)

Yesterday was a long one, starting with CF at the #fiveonefive and ending with warm dynamic flow at 8pm. I used to workout at 0515 all the time, but with the job change, I simply can't be there 50% of the time. I miss my early morning people, but I do like getting to play with other friends at various times of the day. As long as there's halfway decent chitchat, I'm good.

Today has been rough for me. I slept funny last night, lots of strange dreams and wakefulness. I normally sleep like the dead and the last few nights of disturbed sleep are starting to fuck with me. When my twins were small I lived in a constant state of mental twilight. My concentration was shot and my temper was frayed. I haven't had a bout of insomnia for a long time and I'm hoping this isn't the start of one.

I'm feeling self-destructive today. I got on the scale this morning and saw a number that means I've cleared a hurdle that often feels out of my reach. And then I immediately started thinking about ways to fuck it up. Not so concisely, mind you. It's more of a tightness in my chest that makes me want to do destructive things. Eat a whole pie, or smoke a pack of cigarettes, or drink a bottle of wine. I am the mistress of self-sabotage.

I fed the smalls and fought the urge to indulge in blueberry waffles with them. Instead I made this.
You will NOT fuck this up. YOU WILL NOT.

Made it past the breakfast hurdle. Then I went to the box to do the Lurong workout for the week with a friend. Sometimes a hard workout will snap me out of self destruction mode. I had an apple on the way there, and another after the workout.  Nope. Still feeling destructive. I did wear my new pants today. Are they white with black stripes or black with white stripes?!? Who knows?!? But everyone who says wide hipped women shouldn't wear horizontal stripes can go fuck themselves. These pants are cute as shit and I looked awesome in them.

The optical illusion will confuse you into seeing smaller thighs.

Then I went to yoga, thinking maybe I could quiet my mind a bit. It worked for a little while, then my fallback for self-sabotage was thwarted. No agave coffee syrup at the market, so I couldn't have that little indulgence today.  Ragey once again. I listened to angry music and bitter bitchy chick music all the way home and contemplated stopping for smokes. Ye gods, I miss smoking. 

After washing up and getting the smalls squared away with a snack, I started working on my October sock club socks. The whole time I had the chest tightening, I want to fuck shit up feeling. I took the kids to CF kids and continued on the sock, but I couldn't shake the self-destruction. I kept myself from yelling at the kids for no reason by listening to loud angry music all the way home. The boys now know all the words to Imagine Dragon "Monster".  I wanted pizza. So. Bad. Also much wine. Instead I made leftovers.

Not pizza.

I poured one glass of wine.


Today's affirmation must be:

I will not give in to self-sabotage.

I always, always do this. I'm doing too well, so I have to fuck it up. Not today. I don't care how ragey I get, I'm not going to succumb. I clearly can't go out for smokes (kids), I can't drink a whole bottle of wine (kids), and I will not eat my weight in peanut butter or other bullshit.  This feeling will pass. And I'm not getting on the scale again until the end of the Lurong when I have to. 

Deep breath. I can beat this. 

I can! 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Blogging 2015: 805 down, 1210 to go (Lurong Day 29)

Yikes, almost 30 days into Lurong. Doesn't seem that long, somehow. Maybe that means I'm better at making good choices than I was a year ago. I meant to weigh myself this morning, but I forgot, and I guess it doesn't really matter. I did measure my waist. 30 inches on the dot. I have 3ish weeks to get that measurement below 30 and make it fucking stick this time. That might be a stupid goal, but my waist was 29" in high school and I thought I was a fucking cow. I see now how ridiculous that was, and I sort of want to hit that 29 so I can look in the mirror and tell my 17 year old self "See? Not a cow."

Yesterday I did a shitload of laundry and cleaned my room. Sounds silly for an adult to say that, but it had seriously reached hoarder proportions.

No cats were killed in the making of this mess.

It took me 2 hours to get it all cleaned up. It's like a whole new room now.

Daaaaang. Floorspace!

I then took the smalls to the pumpkin patch during the Packer game. Hashtag winning because there was zero traffic and the patch was sparsely populated. We did the corn maze, and pumpkin bowling. P discovered that ducks bite. You know, family fun. Got home in time to go over to the box for Broga, which was loud as shit with a boatload of kids running around. Whatever. They ran around for an hour and got tired out. After dinner and showers they fell asleep immediately fifteen whole minutes before their bedtime. It was like a Saturnalia miracle 2 months early.

Last night I slept with the windows open, which was pleasant from a temperature standpoint, but something woke me up at 2am and I couldn't get back to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time for the rest of the night. Not cool. I went to bed early, so my net sleep was still okay, but I hate a broken night's sleep. Unless what wakes me up is sex. That's okay. I was sleeping alone last night, though, so I'm pretty sure that wasn't it.

Since I wasn't sleeping, I got up at 5:45 and let the dog out. I made myself some coffee and packed the kids lunches. They slept until 6:40! I had to wake them up! And then they complained because I woke them up so early. Welcome to my world, motherfuckers! I think the morning darkness is messing with their internal clocks, and I'm totally okay with it.

Breakfast this morning was a lazy one. Paleo "cereal" with a handful of dried cherries and a swirl of honey.

Believe it or not, it's pretty convincing.

I opted to hang out at home with fantastic husband this morning and go to a later workout at the box. I went to core flow yoga this morning and it was a proper ass kicking as usual. I feel as though sneezing might be painful tomorrow. Fun fact about me, I get nosebleeds a lot (or used to, it's been years since they were a serious problem) and I got a doozy right before yoga this morning. I did the whole class with half my nose packed full of tissue. And that? Is a sexy look. On the way to yoga I had an apple.

Honeycrisp perfection.

After yoga I had about 45 minutes to kill before the WOD, so I visited CVS for some stuff to tame my not-quite-long-enough-for-a-ponytail hair. CVS's are weird. The low shelves creep me out, and I don't like the diagonal aisle running from the front door to the pharmacy. It makes me feel like the world is tilted on it's axis. That's a tad melodramatic, but there it is. I had a protein shake for lunch because that shit is portable.

Stock photo.

The WOD was But I got a little chitchat from my friends in the 1130, so all was not lost. I sat on the floor for a few minutes after we were all finished up. When I got up I had sweated an assprint. Awesome. I'm pretty sure I smelled amazing. Got home in time to chat with fantastic husband before picking up the kids, then I washed the gross off and trekked back across town with the kids for CF kids. Why don't I just WOD while the kids are doing their thing? I don't want to. I don't want to monitor them while simultaneously trying to keep myself from either crying or peeing on the floor. Call me crazy. 

We threw some steaks and asparagus on the grill tonight, and fantastic husband made jicama faux-tato salad. I have to say, it was pretty convincing. I also enjoyed a delicious glass of Cabernet. That's right. CABERNET. Not Cab. Say the whole word people. Maybe even say Cabernet Sauvignon. I have faith in you. 

Get in mah belleh!

I'm still enjoying my wine, to be honest. 

Today's affirmation is:

I will celebrate all progress, no matter how small.

I have a tendency to overestimate possible progress and underestimate actual progress. I think we all do this to a degree. We think we can lose 20 pounds in a month, or learn a skill in a couple of days, and we get disappointed when it doesn't happen...then give up on the goal entirely. And while we do this, we ignore the small steps forward. Sometimes it's the small changes that make the biggest difference. When I walked onto a rugby pitch for the first time, I changed the course of my future. When I decided to channel my grief at losing our second pregnancy into running a half marathon, I changed my body and my perception of my own abilities. When I walked into a CrossFit box on the eve of my first marathon, I changed my definition of fitness and gained a new circle of friends. Every day can be progress. Every workout, every meal. Every decision I make that moves me forward instead of back. They are all worth celebrating. It is the culmination of small steps forward that achieves the loftiest goals. It's important, especially for someone like me with a penchant for all-or-nothing thinking, to realize how far we've come...and be excited for how far we can still go instead of dreading it. My 2015 in 2015 challenge is a prime example. Am I going to hit 2015 miles? No, certainly not. But I continue to move towards the goal, and celebrate the miles I have come, and the miles still to go.

My PRs in the gym, on the mat, and on the road may be small, but they are progress, and they are worth celebrating.