Writing, Running, not pushing Post

The last few months have been pretty interesting for me. I spent a good bit of time nursing a running injury. The injury, which I have struggled with before, took way more time to heal than I originally anticipated. The rehab process, while doing much better now, was slow going. An unintended result of the extended timeline was a whole lot of time to consider my injury in a broader sense – were there underlying causes, what do I need to do differently, is it a natural consequence of age, is all this running just fucking crazy, should I hang up my shoes?

I came to a few conclusions. I have a very limited idea where this is going this morning so my conclusions maybe in some kind of cohesive flow and you may just have to shake and shimmy through them just like I am 🙂

writing monster

I run for the same reason I write. It keeps me sane. I have a tendency to pull towards the high and low extremes emotionally. When that happens, my brain tangles up and ideas get hitched. I am not always really sure what I think. When I am, I am not sure that I really think that. Maybe one day I will be able to explain that better, but for today, that’s just going to have to do.  For a while in the beginning, we worked on bringing that back towards the middle with meds. I won’t go into all that here, but suffice to say it was not optimal.  If fact, it became so counter productive that I ceased taking anything at all.

Writing has always been a great untangler of the brain snakes. I think we’ve discussed before the therapeutic benefits I experience in putting words on paper so I can consider whether or not they are mine.

answers four hour run

Running has the same untangling effect. Christopher McDougall has a great quote. “If you don’t have the answer to your problems after a four hour run, you ain’t getting them.” Folks have often asked me if I get a runner’s high. I don’t. I do get a runner’s level which, for me, is even better. Because I have high/low tendencies, running is a perfect tool. The endorphins keep my low end elevated and the run burns off the energy at the high end. It is a beautiful thing.

I have also fallen into the same mistakes running as I do writing. Most notably is ancillary work, consistency, and common sense activity.

I know I should stretch more. I know I should read more. I know I should should should….but I don’t. If it isn’t writing exactly, if it isn’t running exactly, it’s placement on my priority list goes way down. In case you were wondering, this is probably the worst idea ever. Okay, so maybe that’s overstated just a bit, but it’s a bad idea. Writing is hard. It is an emotional endeavor that leads to places I am not always ready to go and it changes me every time I do. As I look at that last sentence I realize I can say the exact same thing about running. It’s hard. It takes you places. It changes you. Shoring that up with the ancillary activities that support and care for that is important – maybe most important because it allows me to keep doing the main things longer with more effectiveness.

writing ink blood

I know I should be more consistent. I will go months without writing a word. Weeks without running a mile. Then I will explode into the gotta write every day and I gotta run 20 miles this week. This doesn’t work. The mind doesn’t function that way. The body sure as hell doesn’t function that way. It needs some warm up, it needs training. It needs consistency. Otherwise, the dormant / balls to the wall flip flop causes substandard performance with counter productive results.

I know that doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing. I know that. I know that. But I don’t always know that. I’ll look at my 20 minute training run and think, “Why in Sam’s hell am I even getting out of bed for 20 minutes?” Or I’ll look at the available time I have to write and think,  “There isn’t enough time to get this whole thought out and formatted. I just won’t write.” Or even worse is the, “I can’t post that so I won’t write.”

That’s probably the worst – I can’t do what I think is the natural outcome so I won’t start the journey. Maybe I can’t finish the race. Maybe that piece of writing will get too personal, too convoluted that I can’t publish it. So I don’t. The problem with that way of thinking is I never start and therefore never know what could have been…that’s no way to be.

2012 Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

So I took the plunge and registered. (FYI Registration goes up after the 28th)

As you may know, I fractured my heel Labor Day weekend. For those of you who aren’t runners, that kind of thing wrecks a training schedule – especially when the event you are training for is only nine weeks out. The silver lining – I hadn’t paid for it yet. The elephant in the room – that was the perfect excuse not to try.

I have spent the last 6 1/2 weeks hemming and hawing about whether or not I was going to register for this race. Why? Because I was coming off of an injury?

No. The truth is I hadn’t committed because the dumb bitch in my brain still has some sway when she whispers “you can’t do it.”

Screw her.

One of the best things about running longish distances is the time you get to spend alone with yourself. It seriously clears out the cobwebs. It is for sure cheaper than therapy. Today, I decided it was time to work through why I wouldn’t sign up for the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

1. I couldn’t finish due to my jacked up training schedule. Truth – I could walk the damn thing and still finish under the 7 hour course time limit. That is a 16 minute/mile pace. I currently average about 9. I can finish.

2. Well, I CAN finish, but my time would be embarrassing. Truth – ego is a dream killer. Embarrassing? To who? People who will ridicule me for not finishing 26.2 miles(!) in a time they deem appropriate? Why on earth would I even care about those people? Nope, I mean embarrassing to me. And that my friends, is just stupid.

3. I will seriously re-injure myself and I won’t be able to run in Savannah’s first Ultra Marathon, the Rails to Trails 50k. The truth is, I could do that anyway. My last injury happened on a training run. I have a sweet friend who is recovering from an injury that happened via car wreck caused by a texting driver. Anything can happen. People have been telling me for 14 months that I am on the verge of killing my knees, hips, back, ankles, feet, baby unicorn – whatever. And the truth is my body will not be able to do these things forever. But it can do them now. It can do it on November 3rd.

So, I ran up the drive, fired up the computer, and I registered. For 2 seconds I considered the half (which, by the way, is an amazing respectable feat for all those brave enough to try it).

Then I remembered that I wrote this. And I sure as hell don’t want to write it again…

Gearing Up and Walking the Dog

If you have not read this, (I will tell you…but we have to talk about this first) please do that first. Seriously. Thanks 🙂

It is true that I should have been writing about this all along. When Lisa says it, it is almost always true. But I didn’t. And I know why.

I didn’t know how it would turn out. Truth be told, I still don’t. Who in the world wants to embark on a journey of such a personal nature in a public way without knowing the end? Well, I don’t know who would, but I can tell you who wouldn’t. This girl.

Fear is a funky thing. And we will talk about that maybe. Not now I don’t think. I don’t really feel like giving it any play right now. But, just know, if you are fearful, frustrated, failed before – you are not alone.

In 2010, I looked like this ~ and that ain’t so bad. 30 something Momma of four. Busy woman, limited schedule. A little extra weight, a little soft. But my clothes fit poorly. My energy was down. My blood pressure was up. And Karen Handel still looks great.

However, in the middle of the summer (swimsuit season!!) this happened. And you can read all about that “AH Shit” moment here.

And I was over it. Sort of…this picture was taken in May…it will take me THREE more months before I actually DO anything.

Battling self-esteem issues, depression, stress, and general mental and physical pissed offedness (<< should SO be a real term), I needed to get to where I loved to be – outside. But the phone and the kids and the chores and the world follow you outside. The dog needs a walk…so that’s what I did…

On August 12, 2011 at 6:41 a.m., I laced up my shoes, leashed up my dog, turned on my Nike+ app and walked. Ka’nani and I covered 6 miles in an hour and a half. It was amazing. So I walked some more. (I switched trackers a few times…I don’t use Nike+ anymore. I am on Endomondo and you can friend me here.)

And I just walked…nothing too serious. And don’t let the high mileage fool you. I was poking along pretty good. There were walks where I averaged more than 17 minutes a mile. Towards the end of the month I had picked up some speed and started jogging. But that was only because my body said it was time and it was okay. Even then, I never broke the 11 minute mark. That 8 mile stint that you see on the 24th took me nearly 2 hours. And what a mind clearing two hours it was!

By the end of the month, these were the numbers I had accumulated. But let me tell you a few things about them.

I had lost NO weight. None. Nada. Read that again…the scale DID NOT move.

And that pissed me off a bit. And I had to do some soul-searching about that for a minute. Because while the scale reflected nothing, my personal well-being was starting to reflect a lot.

I felt stronger. I felt stronger. Yep, I typed that twice. Why? Because that one change changed everything. It wasn’t about being skinny or fast ~ it was about being better today than I was yesterday. It was about mental fortitude and physical ability. I didn’t have to compete against anything but my own challenges. And I was winning!

And I was just walking the dog…

Ka’nani August 12, 2011

Little Bit of Accountability and Hopefully Some Fitness Fun

I love new stuff…and the 1st of the month is like getting new stuff. Kinda gives you some mental permission for a mulligan. At the very least, I can feel justified taking a deep breath, pulling in all the new and breathing out all the past (with a little does of kiss my ass for good measure).

March was BANANAS! April was a bit wild. May will probably be the same. But today, she isn’t. She is a calm and good girl with tons of potential and so I will treat her that way. My calendar is up to date, my to do list is sparkling clean, my goals are set.

While all of this is good, i am going to shock some you (ok, none of you) when I reiterate that I am, in fact, a pretty social creature. While it is true that, as I get older, I find more value in my time alone, I am still, by my hard wiring, and extrovert. I like to do stuff with people. These kinds of things are no different.

I started running walking in August. It was good. It became great when I picked up the pace and met folks like Marc, Dan, and Victoria and discovered the #runsav hashtag on twitter (which is a bit dead right now until RnR training kicks in). It was fun and social (and it made my butt look fantastic!) I have run a half marathon since and have plans for a full in November.

I started eating better. Motivating messages and tips came from folks I know on facebook and twitter. It was easier to do when you knew there were other folks out there doing it to.

I got a workout buddy…life changed. (that’s her at the beginning :))

Now it is May…and what is more fun than winning? I don’t know (there goes my Type A). So we are going to try to put my competitive, love to win, ain’t gonna punk out in front of you, not afraid to die on a treadmill tendencies to good use.

It is May 1st. The brand new start of a Health Month. And I joined a team (courtesy of the wonderful Lyman Reed) of Fitocracy users. So now there are 2 point keeping systems tracking my progress and showing me that progress in light of other people while promoting an amazing atmosphere or grace and support.

Oh yeah, this is Momma’s game 🙂

So, I have seven rules for May

  1. Exercise for at least 60 minutes at least 5 times a week
  2. List things that I am grateful for at least 2 times a week
  3. Drink at least 42 glasses of water a week
  4. No fried foods
  5. No red meat or pork
  6. No soda or energy drinks
  7. Limit dairy to 2 times a week

There are a whole bunch of other rules you can adjust for your own situation. And you only have to have 3 to play.

So this could be fun. I am looking forward to it. I invite you to join me. Text me if you feel like it. If you are a group kinda person, we could all use a little more support 🙂

Super Pissed at Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Savannah 2011

Ok, so maybe I am not pissed at them…maybe I am super pissed at me.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in Savannah was this past weekend. However, it has been sold out since August. I didn’t even run my first under 10 minute mile until mid September. It wasn’t on my radar.

Ok, so maybe it was on my radar. I get lofty like that. I had a bunch of friends that were running it. Some were doing the full and lots were doing the half. I can do a half. 13.1? Sure, why not? I had already scored a 10 mile run (it was slow, but I finished). Yeah, too bad it’s sold out. Because I could so do that. Yeah.

Then came the day I logged an 11 mile run at a 9:43/mile average. That was cool. Then came the tweet from Bigbie (one of the best running buddies. Ever.) saying there were some spots that had opened up. As in not sold out. As in Cinderella can go to the ball. As in me. As in 13.1. In front of people…really, behind people.

Yeah, no. Quick brush off about registration fee and work and volunteerism…blah, blah, blah. End of subject.

I mean really, those things are a big deal. And who wants to run a race they have never even seen before, right? And really, isn’t it more responsible to not hurry these kinds of things and just make sure you are super prepared? Right?

Whatever. I chickened. Worse – I self sabotaged. I worked so hard to convince myself that this was a great decision that I had almost convinced myself I wasn’t really a runner. My run log last week was seriously lacking. Why? Because maybe I would never be prepared and maybe I started too late and maybe there are all those folks out there who really are runners and won’t that be embarrassing…

Now it was Saturday afternoon…Sunday…reports, stories, pictures are coming in. It was great, it was fun, it was wonderful. And none of them got handcuffed by the imposter police because they didn’t score a 6 minute pace.

And I missed it. Worse than missing it. I chose not to do it. I allowed my brain to jack up yet another wondrous capability that is mine.

So this morning I said screw it. I laced up my shoes and went for a run. Some where around mile 2 I felt better. Somewhere around mile 5 I thought about when I would turn around. Right around mile 6 I realized – I am going to run 13.1 todaybecause I can!

And that is exactly what I did. In under two hours.

I didn’t get a medal or a picture to post on facebook. But I did get a front row seat at life lesson reminder number…well, it’s a big one.

Forget fear. Forget brain jacks. Forget made up lies about inability and substandard fortitude.

Guess who will be there November 3, 2012 ready to eat 26.2 for breakfast. Until then, I have some new words to remember.

“Do it for fun…even if it is Monday.”