Friday, June 19, 2015

This is not the week you are looking for...

It was a really rough day. I found out a huge project I've been working on for 2 years is being cancelled with almost no notice, no chance to improve anything, and laying off 40 contract employees early. When my boss told me, I asked a few questions to try to understand the decision and make a last case for the project, but mostly I just sat there and sadly nodded while he talked.

When I got back to my desk, I managed to focus on work and complete the top item on my priority list. As I finished, all the sucky things of the past day, week. and beyond started hitting me. 
This day had sucked: starting with a tantrum from my 7-year old about hating all her shorts, and how I don't care because I buy too many pants (?). 
Yesterday had sucked: I found out there was a 70/30 chance a [different] project was going to be cancelled, which would result in me personally laying off 3-5 people after just renewing their contracts last week. 
This week had sucked: we finally took a few days vacation as a family, and we each took turns having a stomach bug. 
The past two months had sucked: my spouse and I have both been working insane hours. We've also been "revolving-door single parenting" due to work trips (divvying up which weeks we each need to be out of town, so someone could stay home with Princess A); we haven't both been home for over 6 weeks. 

While I have been prone to a negativity spiral into depression in the past, this was different. Just behind each negative thought were positive ones (we still got to Princess A's camp in time for the field trip, made the best of our little vacation, and had summer to look forward to). I wasn't distraught, but I couldn't stop my brain from ticking through the list of recent crap. A sort of inventory and explanation of how I arrived at this emotionally exhausted place. The current project was the ginormous and final straw that led me to crying at my desk at 5:30 pm on a Friday. 

I felt broken. 

Maybe a run would help. I decided to run downtown from work; I wasn't going to be good company to the family anyway and needed to complete a tempo run for my training plan. I figured I could just use the Strava app, but then I realized my Garmin was still in my work backpack from my recent business trip. Though, I'll admit, that barely registered a positive blip in my mood. I went down to the nearby YMCA to change and put my stuff in a locker. 

I went outside and navigated the never-ending construction and closed sidewalks, while my Garmin was searching...searching...searching... It was in a funk today, too (or just couldn't find satellite between the tall buildings, whatever :P). Finally ready, I began my loops of the park. I ran my 1 mile warm up, 2 miles tempo, and 1 mile cool down. It wasn't easy, but I finished. I had thought I might work through some of my feelings about the work issues, but it didn't enter my mind on the run. I focused on the music, the people in the park, and, during the harder sections, my breathing. 

When I arrived back at the Y, I remembered I had received the perk of free towel service for the summer. As I walked into the locker room, I felt like this towel symbolized the only thing that had gone right today. Overdramatic, I know. But I felt truly grateful to have a clean towel, that I didn't have to launder, so that I could avoid driving home all gross. On the sh*ttiest of days, the little things can be big. The shower felt amazing. It was like the last of the bulls*t washed away, and the feelings of accomplishment at having completed my run sunk in.

I feel human again.

Thirsty, hot, tired, and sad, but human. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Dumbo Double Dare - Half Marathon

Link to Part 1 of the trip

Set your time machines for: September 1, 2013

Supplies! (Not sure why there are two pairs of earbuds in this photo...)

My goal for this race was a PR. Some background on this very elusive PR: After three-and-a-half years of running/walking/racing, my half marathon PR (2:40) was still from my very first race. My knee pain was always my limiting factor. My leg muscles weren't ever overly tired, my breathing was okay, but at some distance between 6 and 10 miles my knee pain would get too severe to run through. In 2012, I went through several months of physical therapy for stability, piriformis issues, and IT band-related knee pain. No noticeable results for my fall race that year or in my marathon training. I followed up with a sports med doctor. I honestly just wanted advice to be able to get through the marathon. After an MRI, she recommended surgery to clean up the meniscus tears and remove the hardware (aka screws) that were still in there from my knee surgery as a teen. But on the plus side, she said there was no reason to stop running. It might hurt, but I wasn't doing any damage. So January 2013, I completed my first full marathon and then had knee surgery. That was followed by 7 months of physical therapy and building up my running again to get me to the starting line of the Disneyland Half Marathon.

I had a lot of factors that would seem to be at odds with achieving a PR: high temperatures, record humidity, extreme lack of sleep, and completing a 10k the day before. But I had put in the training and had a solid plan to try for the PR. I studied the course map to memorize where the turns were so that I could "run the tangents" and attempt to take the shortest route possible, minimizing any extra tenths of a mile. I also knew that after mile 4, we were done with the parks. I planned to stop for a few photos in that beginning part of the race, but just motor through the rest. 

Here's one of my favorites (with no editing or filters!):
A beautiful morning in California Adventure


Woody on a Woody 

Serious sun at Angels Stadium 

Up until miles 7, 8, and maybe even 9, I was feeling really good. I had no trouble keeping up my Run 1/Walk 1 minute intervals. Then the heat started getting to me. I was surviving the run sections, but the walk sections were slower than my usual. My head started getting chills from being so sweaty - it was a weird sensation. I was continually checking in with my mind and body to make sure I wasn't feeling crappy enough to be at risk for heat stroke or over-exertion or anything. 

Favorite sign of the day

In the last 2 miles, I also made a friend. A petite young woman in a Snow White costume asked what paces I was doing and if she could tag along with me. We ended up finishing together. :)

I got my PR! I finished in 2:36.  

Inaugural Dumbo Double Dare complete!



Friday, February 20, 2015

Try a New Thingy: Episode 2

It's another week and another new cross training experience. Yesterday I took a class at my Y called BodyPump.  I didn't know much about the class other than that it was strength training with barbells, and suitable for all levels of fitness. I had noticed it was on the schedule a number of times per week, and I had previously walked by the class on my way to the indoor track. I was interested to add more rigorous and organized strength work to my running training. I already do some light strength training, but not quite enough minutes or times per week for my current running goals. And I hate lunges so much, a group class was the only way I'd be doing those!

I was a little nervous about what weights to pick. I eyed what items other class members had grabbed and walked over to the weight rack. I couldn't tell what weights would be right for me, so I watched the woman next to me pick hers. She looked pretty strong so I rounded my picks down from hers. Good thing, she turned out to be the instructor!

The class was challenging, but not overwhelming for a first-timer. Today, my quads are a little sore and my upper body is really sore. There are tiny muscles in my armpits that I didn't know I had!

I really liked the musicality of the class; the movements were timed to switch with changes in the music. I got the feeling that the playlists are kind of standard for these classes, which makes me wonder if it will be the same music next time I go? 

Another positive is getting an intense workout without getting intensely sweaty. It's a great lunch break exercise option since I can go back to work without a full shower.

The only negative was that the focus seemed more skewed towards upper body. I'm happy to strengthen everything, but legs had a much shorter set than everything else. It could be this instructor, this day, or just my perception, though. I'm definitely interested in giving it another try. Maybe making it a regular workout once or twice a week. Looking forward to getting even stronger! 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Way Back

I was an athlete from a very early age...

Although I think this was the only time I played racquetball!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Dumbo Double Dare 2013 - 10k Day

Since I'm writing this more than a year after the race, I don't have much to write in the recap. But I can say I would love to do these races again. :) I love running through the Florida parks, but Disneyland has some kind of extra special magic for me. 

In the slow lane through Radiator Springs

I love the Red Car Trolley!

These guys had the longest line - at least 10 minutes.

I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!

I really was running late. Despite doing a good speed of run/walk intervals, my character photo stops put me over the official pace of a 16 minute per mile average. This was my first Disney 10k, so I hadn't really thought in advance about how it's difficult to make up the waiting-in-line time over just 6 miles, as compared to the Disney half marathons I've done. Luckily I was never close to being swept, so finishing 3 minutes below pace wasn't an issue.

After finishing, I joined my family for breakfast at Storytellers Cafe. We enjoyed spending most of the day in California Adventure. Princess A spent a lot of time at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Later in the afternoon we visited Disneyland. Dinner was at Steakhouse 55 - delicious! It was a fun filled and exhausting day - Princess A even fell asleep before dessert!

Try a New Thingy: Episode 1

During Goofy marathon and a half training, nearly every day of the week was filled with a specific workout: short run, cross train (bike or elliptical), tempo run, walk, long run, strength train, rest day. Near the end of training I was starting to long for a day when I could try something different. I joined the Y at the end of November, which contributed to my feelings of workout wanderlust. The long list of group classes, the pool, and ooh, a rowing machine! On lap 34 of the indoor track, anything looked good. I sometimes circled around envious of the lunchtime yoga or spin class. 

It's not that I couldn't do other workouts during marathon training, it was more about how I prioritized my time and not wanting to jeopardize training with something brand new. Today, I had the chance to try something new. 


It's called the Lateral X, and it's an elliptical style workout with more of a side-to-side motion. It was easy to get started and definitely worked my quads, but I had assumed it would give more of a glute workout. The pictures on the machine indicate a few different motions one can do, so maybe I need to do a little research online to see how to optimize it's use for my training. 

Looking forward to my next new cross training day!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Twenty Miler Poem

From December 21, 2014

Zero to One
Catching snowflakes on my tongue. 

One to Two
Ate my first Gu. 

Two to Three
Gah, that pain behind my knee. 

Three to Four
Snowplow! (and I lost my ability to rhyme...)

Four to Five
Nothing special, just keep moving

Five to Six
Lemonade Honey Stinger chews (these are pretty tasty!)

Six to Seven
"Trail not maintained" = soaked feet

Seven to Eight to Nine
Am I seeing things? Yoda made of leaves and a wombat went by

Nine to Ten
Gu and on the main street again

Ten to Eleven
Ooh! Hidden park and disc golf course

Eleven to Twelve to Thirteen
I've really got to pee!

Thirteen to Fourteen
Running by Princess A's school

Fourteen-point-five
Bathroom at the Y

Fifteen to Sixteen
Shortest day of the year for real 

Sixteen to Seventeen
Eat some Swedish fish 

Seventeen to Eighteen
iPod and me recite Alfie the Christmas Tree

Eighteen to Nineteen
Second wind! Finish strong!

Nineteen to Twenty
Joy to the World!