The Long and Winding Road

Twenty-seven days. I am 27 days away from my next half marathon.

I am at an incredibly interesting juncture at this point, both mentally and physically. Going into any race both of these aspects are super important, and I’m finding that this time around has been an incredibly different journey compared to last time.

Mentally the whole thing has been a struggle. It’s somewhat fascinating, I suppose. I went into training knowing that I could finish the race. I’ve done it before, I will do it again. I’ll do it again at least three more times this year, actually. That knowledge, and probably cockiness, made the mental blocks I have faced/am facing so totally unforeseen that they’ve been some of the biggest challenges I’ve come across all year. I’ve been hit hard with some significant funks which have at times caused an inability to even make it off my couch, let alone out my front door. You all know this, as I’ve written about it.

This has shifted part of my focus, which has affected my physical training.

Physically there are parts of this running bit where I am still struggling. A lot. My long runs have either been nonexistent or cut down by a couple miles or delayed. My shorter runs aren’t anywhere close to where I’d like them to be. All of this has stemmed from mental blocks, and because of them I am not where I feel like I need to be physically. Not even close.

Today my girl Lo posted about how running is such a mental game, and she’s one hundred percent correct about that. This is going to be the fight I face for the next four weeks.

I have written and spouted and commented and tweeted about just how determined I am to look these challenges right in the face and overcome Every. Single. One of them. Yet I am still struggling with them. Looking ahead, I have three weekends to get my ass into gear. Those three weekends are as of now open enough to where there will be no excuses.

Finishing this race is my goal. Well, more accurately I suppose, finishing this race with a new PR time is my goal. Full stop. Getting to that point, though, is going to take me accomplishing other smaller yet entirely doable goals.

  1. Get all my workouts in. There is one day that I can see on my calendar coming up that this might be a challenge, but no more excuses. I feel like the entire past month has been LACED with excuses, which just makes me feel horrible. If I can’t even focus my energies and will-power towards training now, how on earth will I make it through this race (and Ragnar in June, and the halves in October and November, and the full in January)?
  2. Try harder at keeping a consistent and healthy diet. Earlier today I read a post on Workout, Eat, Repeat, and it was a glaring reminder that the way I’ve been eating (and drinking) lately has been so very much not conducive to, you know, HEALTH. It’s very easy for me to say “oh, I’ll run it off later,” but as Cheryl points out in that post, the stuff I eat is actually meant to be FUEL for what I’m doing, not just a way to make myself not hungry anymore. I always do better when I have a written out menu, and that’s what I’m going to be working on a lot over the next few weeks.
  3. Stop drinking during the week. Usually I don’t as it is, but I need to keep up with that. There will be one night (an all-inclusive Blues game at the beginning of April) where I know this will cease to be a goal, but other than that it’s time to stop. I know I’ll feel better because of it, and I know my workouts will be more beneficial to my body.
Three goals, four weeks, a world of improvement to be accomplished.
It’s all possible. It’s always possible. Right now it certainly seems like a long way to climb. It is terrifying. Yet I know when I get through all of this, I’ll be able to look back at this post and say, “I did this. I faced those challenges, and I won. Now, what else can I accomplish?”
I must believe.
Thanks definitely go to Josey’s mom for sending me this video. It was just what I needed.

Give Me Novocaine

Last week, I hit my limit. Well, slammed face first into the brick wall of my limit is more accurate. Done doesn’t even begin to cover just how I felt about many, many things.

The resulting breakdown Saturday night as I drove home at three in the morning was just one aspect of the aftermath of a combination of exhaustion, cynicism, pain, resentment, anger, frustration, and a sincere inability to give a single fuck about anything but not feeling that way anymore.

Over the past two days, I’ve been forcing myself to let go. I’ve had no other option. I recognize that it is not healthy to hold those emotions in. It’s not helpful whatsoever to just shove everything down further and further until it comes bursting out of my eyeballs, and let’s be real. Sobbing while driving down the highway is neither safe nor productive.

My long run this weekend was supposed to be eight miles. I’ve skipped it so far. Physical exertion only gets me so far when it comes to ridding myself of all of that negativity.

So Sunday I went to see The Lorax with my awesome friend Alison and her most adorable three-year-old daughter (who spent the movie bouncing back and forth between her mom’s lap and my own. My goodness, I love that kid). Just being able to giggle at an adorable movie and laugh at the giggles of the kid, as well as make silly references to the real people some of the characters looked like with Alison was refreshing and much needed. Simple. Happy.

Then, joy of all joys, one of my best friends in the entire world, Nic, who I haven’t actually seen since August…..of 2010… here. I actually cooked a legitimately kick ass dinner (roast and garlic mashed potatoes and gravy and vegetables and oh my god I’m drooling again), we had wine, we had the world’s best catch-up session, and then we got to see American Idiot at the Peabody. The show was actually really fun and entertaining.

You know how you can have the best of intentions and sometimes all of that gets blown out the window? That was today. I took today off and had planned to get up and run my eight miles before doing anything else. Nope. It started with passing out on my couch last night and then subsequently sleeping until nearly ten this morning. Apparently last week wore me out. Those eight miles get to wait now. Instead of running, Nic and I went and got a pitcher of margaritas followed by nearly $40 worth of gourmet cupcakes. No, we did not eat them all at once.

This, all of this, was so precisely what I needed. No stress about how well my training is going. No work. No guilt over the stupid amount of calories I’ve forced into my body today. These past two days have been my Novocaine.

The thing about Novocaine is that it wears off.

The result is not the same feeling as before, but similar, deadened. This is the difficult part. The things that bothered me last week are still there, still sitting and patiently waiting to see if I’ll go ahead and succumb to that which would leave me stupidly depressed and incapable of any sort of positive thought. I can see them, but still being cupcake drunk (twisted pink velvet….oh yes), I can’t feel them.

I don’t want to feel them.

And so comes the active fight against that sinking. So come the days of faking it if I have to, of finding those things that will distract me to the point where things that bug me, that hurt, don’t anymore. Now is the time of consciously deciding to just, quite simply, let things go. Sometimes anger honestly isn’t worth it.

On Sunday I got the newest Kid Cudi album. The two before this have come out at incredibly poignant times in my life and have surprisingly enough gotten me through some really rough patches.

I wonder what Cudi has to say this time around.

I’ve Got to Keep on Moving

It has been a rough motherfucking week. This week’s not even over. Yikes.

You’d think that a week started with such a glorious Sunday, wherein I skipped all chore-like activities and went over to Ali’s to drink on the patio instead, would lead to an even gloriouser week. I think it was the awful run that snuck the bad shit in.

Fucking bad run.

You see, since Sunday I have been trying really hard and failing miserably at not letting things get me down. I am still beyond devastated that I am not going to Boozefest this year, but it was made official when I had to message two fantastic friends and tell them I wouldn’t be there.

I struggled mightily with not doing any sort of physical activity on Monday, even though I knew my knee would be better off for it.

I’ve been taking things the wrong way and have been overly sensitive to how coworkers talk to me, and that has made it incredibly difficult to keep a positive attitude when I’m there.

Weeks like this make me wish I still had my roommate Sarah, because I’d be able to come home and get a hug, and then we’d sit around eating chips and watching awful TV, and I would feel better. I could still do the chips and bad TV thing, but really, as is oh so usual, I just want the fucking hug. Sarah gives the best hugs.

This afternoon I have tried to pull myself away from this less than stellar feeling I’ve got going on and focus on the positives. It’s kind of working. Slowly.

Positive: I got my tickets purchased for the Cardinals home opener. I’ve been in STL five years. This will be the fifth consecutive home opener I’ve been to. Tradition, thy name is baseball.

Positive: My run today was pretty sweet. I felt good, no knee twinges, and I was able to run really hard. My time doesn’t so much reflect how hard I did run because stop watches cannot measure twenty-fucking-five mile per hour head winds. Up a hill. That was fucking DIFFICULT. However, the fact that my time today was identical to the time I got on this same course a couple weeks ago when I WASN’T battling monstrous winds is such a good thing. I’ll say one thing about how windy it’s been here lately. I’m going to be really fucking ready for running alongside Lake Michigan during that Ragnar.

Positive: Mini Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Positive: This upcoming weekend. I’ll be spending Saturday driving to and from CollegeTown because one of my very good friends from college is getting married, and I couldn’t be more thrilled for him. He is genuinely one of the best people I’ve met. After that, and even more exciting, one of my bestest friends Nic will be here. Here. To see me. I haven’t seen her in I can’t even remember how long, which I hate, but she will be HERE. We are going to see American Idiot at the Peabody, and I really cannot wait. Having Monday off totally helps that excitement.

Positive: Because Ali is such a rock star, she has offered to help ease the pangs of my not going to Boozefest. During the Boozefest weekend, I’ll instead be spending time at her house day-drinking with my STL crew, people I have come to wholeheartedly and unabashedly love. Our Sunday night dinners have come to mean so much to me. My weeks just don’t feel right if I haven’t played beer pong on Sundays.

Positive: Officially signing up for the Rock and Roll half in October.

Positive: And related. My marathon/Ragnar training buddies across the country. They hold me accountable. I am inspired by them.

Positive: Looking forward to St Patrick’s Day in Chicago. I’ve already been promised that I WILL see that green river. St Pat’s has always interfered with Boozefest. Lose one, gain the other. And I just really, really fucking love Chicago. It has been FAR too long since I’ve been up there, and I know that once I’m there I won’t want to leave. As per usual.

Positive: Running motivation pictures from Pinterest. I am not a member of Pinterest, but that does not stop me from going on there every once in a while and finding new things that keep me going, that push me harder, that make me want to get better, get faster, get stronger. I am helped in this endeavor by my dear friend Miranda who has emailed me these motivators at least three times over the last week. This morning’s post was one, and today’s addition is another.

Positive: That niece/nephew that’s on the way. I’m still beyond giddy. I can’t wait to snuggle the crap out of that little one. And then turn her/him into a Cardinals fan, because that’s the way it’s done in my family.

Positive: Writing. It might seem like gibberish to you, but it’s therapy to me.

It’s Just One of Those Days

Mincing words, I shall not.

My run yesterday fucking blew. A lot. Not by timing standards as I finished 7 miles at a 9:04 average mile pace, but guys? It fucking sucked. The whole thing.

I’ll not sit here and list the reasons it was horrible, but suffice it to say a little over half way through my run, I stopped. Flat out stopped. Shut off my stop watch and stood there. That will get me all of nowhere when I get to the day of the half marathon.

This is one of the frustrating things about working out is that sometimes? Sometimes workouts just suck. In retrospect the workouts that I put myself through on Thursday and Saturday probably had something to do with the exhaustion I felt, so I made the decision to take today off.

Well, tweaking my left knee helped make that decision too.

It’s rough when a day that FEELS like it’s going to be great then ends up beating the shit out of you. It’s demotivating, it’s frustrating, and it certainly puts up a mental block. I KNOW the type of training I have heading for me in these last few weeks, and after yesterday there’s a part of me that wants to throw up my hands, shout “fuck it,” and not even worry about it.

Every once in a while I have to remind myself that I AM human and these bad days are going to happen, but it will be worth it in the end to make sure I keep going.

I have to keep going.

I will keep going.

Tomorrow. Heh.

Oops I Did It Again

It’s late. I should be sleeping. I can’t sleep. Thought vomit.

–My little sister is pregnant. Holy crap, my little sister is pregnant. I have a niece and a nephew who I adore to the ends of the earth and beyond, but this one? This one could look like me being that we’re genetically related. Baby watch 2012 is officially ON.

–Relatedly, the number of pregnancy announcements on facebook has been UNREAL lately. At least six within the last week. Mazel tov?

–I pissed a lot of people off on Twitter the other day by ranting about how diet pills were never going to be as effective as a healthy diet and consistent exercise (this coming from an article I saw about a pill for obesity heading towards an FDA approval board). I stand by that statement, but the tone and the timing, being that it was a day or two after the article on Aerys that I wrote about how much I love my abs probably didn’t help my case. Ironically enough, I got to work this morning with an email in my inbox from WebMD and the CDC about how doctors are increasingly prescribing their patients exercise. In a nutshell, I really wasn’t trying to be a dick about it, and would rather be there to support any and everyone in their fitness goals rather than piss them off. My girl Lo and I messaged back and forth a little bit after the firestorm, and she decided to start her own blog about her journey through getting back into working out. Check her out!

–So that full marathon thing? Yeah, it’s been decided. January 13, 2013 in Walt Disney World, my friend Steph and I will be running a full marathon. Um….yikes? Yeah, I’m fucking petrified right now, but like I said on facebook, three half marathons and a Ragnar til I get to it, so focus goes to those first. Seven weeks til my next half. Ragnar’s at the beginning of June. Fuck yes, let’s do this.

–Why is it that dating comes in waves? The guy from a while back got cut because he fucked up REALLY badly (red flag after red flag after red flag). Then there was the one who I thought I had the mutual feeling thing with, but for some reason he shut down on me, which of course caused me to shut down on him. I said I’d leave him alone, and I have, though I’m still not entirely certain what happened there, which is a bit frustrating and disappointing, but there’s nothing else I can do. And finally there’s the one I’ve seen twice, maybe three times now who on paper is extraordinary but in practice? There’s something missing. Let me tell you just how much this makes me feel overly picky, and, like Ali said earlier, like I’m trying to find something wrong. I swear I’m not, so maybe there is something wrong with me? I say that mostly in jest, but on dark nights it’s difficult to convince myself otherwise. I suppose it doesn’t so much matter given that I’m sure I’ll be right back to the perpetually single life (and subsequent depressing posts) once again in short order.

–I can still taste the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake shot I took earlier. That will probably come back to haunt me. Probably some time in my lifting session that starts in six hours. If not then, I’d say definitely on the run I intend on going on after that. Seven weeks. Here we go again.

–According to this, I am a freak:

Makes Me Work a Little Bit Harder

Today a rather interesting question was asked on a forum I belong to.

What’s your coping mechanism?

If you would have asked me this question a few years ago, I probably would have said drinking and writing. After some less than desirable outcomes from the drinking bit I made damn sure, and still make damn sure, that when I’m upset I don’t go drinking.

Sobbing, drunk Ann is neither attractive nor desirable to be around. Hungover, still upset Ann is even worse.

Clearly I still write, but I have found that though the release is desirable, more and more lately my words are getting caught, stuck in my brain and unwilling to be coaxed out, forcefully or otherwise. It’s requiring me to take time to process rather than just opening up a blank document and writingwritingwriting until I feel marginally better.

So I work out.

I have mentally gone over the last two years or so and have tried to pinpoint what I’ve done at a few certain less-than-pleasant junctures.

Unexpected and somewhat cruel breakup followed by subsequent heart break? That was when I decided I was going to do the Hundred Pushup Challenge. I was well on my way, too, and then there was the broken finger and surgerizing and being told I was not allowed to do pushups with a pin in my finger.

Round two with the aforementioned breaker upper (because I am apparently a masochist)? I joined the gym and started lifting on a regular basis.

Losing That Friend’s family from my life and then very consciously, even if entirely painfully, removing him as well? I signed up for a half marathon.

The abrupt departure of one of my best friends as such and within minutes (unfortunately) walking right by the stack of pictures she and I had taken together over the past few years? I ran so hard I nearly puked.

If I have bad days at work or get frustrated working with my budget or any other number of things that have pissed me off or hurt me, I work out. I push myself until I physically can’t do any more because it makes it all go away.

The endorphin boost brings my mood if not up to good, then at least to neutral. It gives me something to be proud of even if I’m feeling like a failure.

It usually hurts, but I’ve done that to myself. Adding a little extra weight here, sprinting up a hill there, forcing myself to lift more, run faster, try harder all brings that inevitable soreness to the muscles that are angry with me for doing so.

Physical pain is so much easier to deal with than emotional pain.

Not only that but working out is one of the few times where I can actually get my mind to just stop. All my attention, all my focus is shifted towards good form or the beat of the music I’m running to or timing my breaths with my strides or getting one more good rep on that lift. And then another. And then another.

Focusing that much on what I’m doing forces everything else out. There is no room for the chronic over-analysis. No room for the residual sting, for wondering what I possibly could have done wrong, for driving myself absolutely out of my mind insane because I can’t get my subconscious to just SHUT. THE. FUCK. UP.

Is coping like this healthy? Maybe. Maybe not. This, however, is what works for me. Lately work’s been crazy busy and kind of stressful which, on top of some other stuff that’s been on my mind, has pushed me really damn hard. It was a REALLY rough day at work today, and all I could do was count down until the instant I was free so I could come home and change and immediately rock the shit out of six miles.

In those 52-ish minutes, it all went away. It was kind of chilly, and it was windy as hell (head-wind in all four directions type windy), but I pushed through it. Nothing but keeping my legs moving one in front of the other existed for nearly an hour. I haven’t thought about work since. Actually, the majority of what I’ve been thinking about is how much further along I am this time around with the training.

See? It works.