April 2, 2012 § 20 Comments
When planning for a marathon there is much online content discussing the steps that can be taken to guide a runner to a successful finish; schedules, gear, injury prevention, pacing, speed work, comparable celebrity finish times. You name it you can find it!
In my experience post race, I was bemused to find that there was not the same abundance of advice regarding recovery. Once I’d heard my name come through that loud-speaker, I was essentially on my own.
It has been fifteen days since I ran my heart out meeting a lifetime personal goal. In retrospect, my physical training was successful. I am still proud of my accomplishment and less bothered by the fact that my time wasn’t within the range I’d had hoped for. I loved every minute, even the painful ones and the ones where I was consumed with doubt.
The mental challenge of going from full-blown training to restful observance of it is a tremendous transition. Recovery days one through four were brutal.
The old habits of emotional eating and anxiety appeared with vigor; they hadn’t been beat in training, only subdued. The fact that they were actually lying dormant was a blow.
On day five I laced up my brand new Newton’s, but the run was slow and hard. I clocked thirteen minutes per mile for a whopping 1.75 before calling it quits.
Figuring it was too soon to get back out there I tried not to be bothered, but my type A was showing and I was really beating myself up about it.
I tried again days later and ran a decent five, but the love wasn’t there. I was glad when I got home. I prayed that this was temporary.
By now I had searched and searched online for information to make sense of what I was experiencing and in my frustration turned to my friends in Internetland who were the first to show me some light.
After tweeting about my lackluster runs, one twitterer mentioned that she’d heard it took one day for every mile to be fully physically recovered. Easy math I could do; one month to give myself some leeway.
A commenter on my blog told me of her own depression that surfaced after her second marathon. It became so bad that she opted for antidepressants to get her through. This kind of honesty is what I wasn’t finding in my search. I was grateful for hers.
And then my sister arrived into town last Monday and I saw my nephew (whom I had helped raise from the time he was one until three), but had not had much communication with in the most recent years. Standing in front of me now was a teenage boy, all five feet nine inches of him. I swung my arms around his neck and the tears started to flow.
When I got home that night they continued.
I called my older sister and kept crying.
A full-blown panic attack followed. I’d never actually had one before, so I was surprised by its force. My heart was beating out of my chest and I had to take a Clonapin to settle down. It didn’t work, so I took another.
I fell asleep and woke the next morning feeling groggy, but better.
As if the fog had lifted, I was able to think with a clear mind and it became obvious that the pressure I was putting on myself to be as strong and powerful as I’d been before the marathon was suddenly gone; like all that training had never happened.
Seeing my nephew was the tip of the emotional iceberg in terms of the way I was managing. I needed a good cry. It needed to come out and I began to feel as if real recovery was finally going to begin.
So does it make sense then that I’d want to go through this again?
Yes, of course!
stubbornness and determination are a part of my gene pool and one must never stop learning in this life.
The next step is to move out of my comfort zone both physically and mentally.
With running taking a short hiatus from my schedule I’ve recently headed back to yoga.
Last week while standing in tree pose with my branches spread wide I straightened my neck to peer toward the sky and thanked God. The second tree pose on the opposite leg allowed me the opportunity to thank Him again.
Yesterday, after rolling onto my right side at the end of savasana I realized I was facing the sun. With hands folded at my third eye and with my other two tightly closed I could feel the warmth from the light. This time I thanked the Universe.
The overall experience of my marathon has not yet finished, though the race itself has.
Today I feel renewed, rested and peaceful,though a bit less physically strong and not quite ready to resume any significant running.
Most importantly I am grateful.
Grateful for the sum of the experience.
January 3, 2012 § 6 Comments
It turns out that one of the nicest pastimes for a mom at home with kids is blog surfing. It’s cheaper than Internet shopping and fills that lonely place inside that vies for adult conversation. I wished I’d discovered it sooner.
In honor of some of the fabulous bloggers who have inspired my own posts, made me laugh out loud, and sent words of encouragement based on things I’ve written, I decided I should list my favorites.
Here they are:
1. Acoursetothefinishline.wordpress.com Theresa writes about training for a marathon while working in education and struggling with infertility. We have a lot in common, since I myself survived the last two. It turns out that she is a bit ahead of me on the marathon training front (we both are using Hal Higdon’s Novice 2), so she’s been a real asset with tons of good advice! Also, I love love love her wit! As I continued to read and we began corresponding a bit, I’ve found that she is also a super girl. My first blogger friend! I think we should all send her positive sticky baby vibes…. she is ready and deserves one!
2. Losingweightinthecity.com Theodora is one of the first bloggers whose posts I ever read. She had me hooked from the beginning with her story of initial weight loss while living in New York City to her running adventures, most recently with the New York Marathon. I love her writing and also live vicariously through her, since my own time as a young woman in NYC ended over 12 years ago. Scary how time flies!
3. Littlebittybakes.com Liz is adorable! A runner and a baker, she blogs about her life and her recipes. I love her pictures and her passion for what she does. For me, a true disaster in the kitchen, I feel like her recipes are do-able; not too hard for the average bear, like me. I am dying to make her Chai Spice Oatmeal Crispies. Also, could her URL be any cuter?
4. Monicarodgers.wordpress.com Monica is one of two bloggers (on the list) that I actually know in real life. We grew up together during our Summers in Maine, but I put her on my list because I love her voice, her writing, and her take on life. She is incredibly talented in so many areas, most especially as a mom, which is evident throughout her blog. Check out her car seat covers, her photography, her musings. She’s amazing!
5. Examiner.com/running-in-new-york/lora-johnson How could I not include Lora? She is the main reason my readership has gone up and writes her own terrific blog full of really great running information. A lot of her information is regarding area specific (Brooklyn) races, but she also has written some terrific pieces about helping women runners stay heathy and (one of my favorite topics) cool running gear.
6. Aliontherunblog.com Ali’s writing cracks me up. She is a runner who lives with Crohn’s disease and has raised money through Jack Rabbit Sports’ organization called Run For The Rabbit. She was chosen to represent them and her charity is the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America. One of my oldest/dearest/bestest friends in real life lives with Crohn’s, so I feel strongly about Ali’s cause. Plus, she sells adorable I Heart Sweat running shirts, with the proceed’s going toward the charity!
7. Cleaneatingchelsey.com Chelsey has the most positive and healthy relationship to food that I’ve found in a blog! As her URL proclaims, she eats clean, but her good habits were spurred by a corn/gluten/lactose intolerance. Despite it, though, I never get the feeling that changing her diet was/is a chore. She loves food and doesn’t eat stuff out of a box! One day I hope to be more like her. Until then I’ll keep reading her blog for motivation and hope that one day her philosophy might rub off onto me and my not so great eating habits.
8. Cafeganesh.com Jennifer is the second blogger that I actually know is a real person. She is a yoga teacher in Raleigh and a Lemondead (Lululemon girl to my non-Lulu obsessed readers). I have been lucky enough to attend two of Jennifer’s classes, but haven’t been to more, solely because this marathon training is a real time sucker. When I saw her last (at the store) she reminded me that I really should come back, and she is right. Until then, I’ll keep reading her blog which is filled with fantastic posts like Pull Your Head Out of Your Asana! She has a great voice; knowledgable about her work and hilarious, too.
Hope you enjoy these writers as much as I have.
December 28, 2011 § 2 Comments
Usually at bedtime I read the girls their two books of choice (each) and then give them time to read them themselves. Sophie typically rolls right over, closes her eyes a couple times, and drifts off to dreamland. It always makes me grin to watch my first-born wild woman settle into sleep.
Sophie isn’t quite as much of a book lover as her sister. Often she chooses the shortest story with the fewest words or a picture book that we can get through fast. Her ultimate goal is sleep, which I can appreciate.
Grace on the other hand has a book reading ritual. She starts at page one and recites the story in her own words. Since she can’t yet read, she remembers the words that I had moments ago spoken to her and sweetly gives it a go. Sometimes she puts her finger under the words and pretends that she knows what she’s reading. I love to hear her quiet voice and marvel at the imagination that goes into her story telling.
To be honest, most night’s I stand by the pink lamp with my hand on the knob giving her the countdown to finish up.
But last night she was reading The Night Before Christmas and The Nutcracker with illustrations by Mary Engelbreit. How could I hurry such beautiful examples of children’s literature?
While she read I listened, but instead of standing with hand on lamp, started some yogic stretching.
I began in a forward fold and felt my spine lengthen toward the ground. An unforced sigh pressed through my open mouth.
Since I have a rather bendy back, I swung gently back and forth feeling the space between the disks release in the most delicious way. With arms bent and hands holding opposite elbows to pull myself lower, then fingers around big toes, and finally palms placed completely under foot, I was ready to straighten back up.
Grace was finishing up The Nutcracker. On the last page, when Marie is grown and her prince has come back for her, Grace’s only comment was about her pretty long hair. It’s a really beautiful illustration on that last page, long haired Marie and her grown up prince surrounded by candy. She closed the last page and moved onto her second book of the night.
I carefully tightened my abs and with flat back did a reverse swan dive with arms open wide. The energy around me helped pulled me back up. Arms raised overhead, I thought about my Vinyasa teacher Jen and how she always presses her hands together once overhead, reaches them into a slight backbend and then pulls them down through the third eye to the heart center. Most yogis press hands overhead, but the addition of a slight backbend before settling at center heart is the perfect finish to a round (of folds). And also, Lord knows I love any excuse for a backbend.
The energy I was pulling felt grounding and palpable.
Forward fold again.
Grace continued to read. I heard her say, “His face was round, his cheeks like apples, his nose like a red cherry.”
I straightened my back to lengthen and peeked up to see her on the page with Santa’s picture.
Back down into a fold I hung myself heavy and my spine lengthened more. Swan diving up, eyes closed, gathering energy, hands pressed into prayer back above my head, back gently bending, down through the third eye, center heart, and face to knees again, hands to toes. Two more times I found myself back at center heart, where I stopped still and felt myself breathe.
That stillness within myself has been absent as of late.
I reveled in it until I was ready to move again.
I folded forward and twisted my right shoulder toward my left knee. Then the reverse.
The act of twisting brought up the truth; I have been neglecting this practice that gives me so much.
I widened my legs and twisted into a reverse triangle. With right arm up to the sky and left arm holding tight to the opposite ankle. I felt the familiar opening of my heart that a good twist can provide. While not as open as a good strong up dog with shoulders pulled back and down, chest pressed forward, this small twisting action let the side of my heart peek to the sky.
I turned to raise the left arm to the sky, right arm to left ankle, and attempted a bind, by wrapping the left arm around my hip. The bind wasn’t working for me, so back went the hand, yoga fingers to the Gods.
Soon, I found myself back in tadasana, hands pressed in prayer, my breathing slow and steady. I opened my eyes and listened to Grace.
“And he decorated the tree, and he rode out of sight, Merry Christmas night.”
She took her books and rolled over so that they could be laid on the floor next to the bed. Grabbing her woobies, she pulled the covers up over her head and closed her eyes. The part of the bedtime ritual, which happens a moment before I switch out the light, occurred without her saying a word. I counted out loud, “One, two, three,” and the room went dark.
I crawled into bed with my girls, Sophie already far away and dreaming. Grace said, Love you Mom,” and “Sleep with D angels.”
The next thing I knew it was morning and the sun was almost up.
The three of us slept for a full 12 hours. Was this my Christmas wish coming true a few days late? Maybe.
It’s more likely, though, that my short yoga session facilitated the much-needed and greatly appreciated long winter’s nap.
Beginning tonight, my lamp standing ritual will have a new pre-cursor to light’s going out. I can barely wait.
November 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
My attempt to run zen-like yesterday turned into a 9.6 miler. It occurred to me, while on the road, that running and yoga only have so much in common. One of the biggest differences is with yoga, if it hurts, you stop. As I hit 5, and then 6, parts of my body spoke out to remind me that they were there, and they needed a little attention.
I like the pain. I often think that people who run long miles must be masochists. When my right hip said, “OH, HI!” I was forced to acknowledge that familiar flexor who is usually the first to scream. I always slow down a bit when a new pain surfaces and am surprised when said pain subsides.
Pain when running happens (unless of course it’s an injury, which is totally different). I haven’t read a single marathoning blog, book or magazine article that suggests one can run that far without some discomfort.
As soon as I noticed my mind moving onto other things, and that my hip wasn’t so bothersome, I wondered who was next?
Throughout my 9.6 yesterday I was reminded that I had toes, a right shoulder-blade, quads (Holy quads), a left calf, and a left inner thigh (who says I must never run long miles in a skirt again).
The funny part that I have learned to love, is that as I keep going, as the pain in the parts subside, it turns into strength that helps to motor my body forward.
Yesterday I accepted (what for me is) a new truth. Yoga and running are way different. And like my children, I love them both for being exactly who they are!
November 20, 2011 § 13 Comments
I’m meeting my Grandparents this week.
It’s as crazy as it sounds.
Since I was adopted as a baby it’s taken forty years to meet my biological kin.
Just last February my mom got a call from Gabrielle who said she thought she was my birth sister. Thanks to Facebook and all of her uploaded pictures, there was no doubt she was right.
I spoke to Gabby that night and to my birth mom the very next day.
It was the first time I’d heard the story the story of my birth; the giving up of me.
In the months that followed Gabby came to visit twice and on my birthday surprised me by flying to Raleigh with her children, whom I had yet to meet.
Being with Gabby is easy. We look and talk (a lot) alike.
We’re both stubborn, love clothes, eat too much ice cream, and needed each other in our lives more than we realized in that first conversation.
We’re different too, but meeting Gabby answered many questions that unadopted people take for granted; knowledge about nationality, siblings, body type and personality were finally confirmed.
My birth mom died last August. She was suffering from cancer when Gabby found me and passed away six months to the day after we first spoke. I had been nervous about meeting her in person, but Skyped her a few weeks before her death. It was sad, but I was glad to have a face to face even though she was so sick.
My birth mom had never told the family about me. She kept her secret her entire life only sharing my existence with a couple of people that she trusted.
Gabby only learned that she had a baby sister by the slip of the tongue (she then searched for 14 years).
Not only am I meeting my Grandmother and Grandfather for the very first time as a 40 year old (they are 89 and 90), I’m also meeting aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews (my other sister Danielle’s children), spouses, and (I’m certain) friends of my biological family. Once my birth mother died the secret slowly came out. The grandparents were the last to learn.
Adding to my anxiety about the whole thing is figuring out what I’m going to wear?
I actually do know what I’m going to wear, but the Libra in me will probably change her mind that morning and try on everything else in the closet, before settling on the first thing I’d chosen. It’s my way.
The whole thing is an overwhelming experience and it’s going to take a lot of processing. I hope they like me. I hope the experience is not painful for them.
When my husband awakes I’m going to get ready to run.
After my last run on Friday, I got a lot of feedback about listening to my body and being kind to myself. Instead of going out determined to do the 10 miler that’s on the plan, I’m going to attack my run like a yoga practice; go in with no judgement, setting my intention at the start. It’s not exactly tough marathon training where I must complete a certain mileage, rather a kinder way of being that will help me manage the uncertainties of this coming week.
November 15, 2011 § Leave a comment
I haven’t run since last Wednesday; almost a week. I also haven’t done any other type of movement, which is a big mistake.
Inactivity is detrimental to my well-being. Our human bodies need movement, fresh blood pumping through the system, to keep us healthy and strong. Sometimes I forget, though, how exercise benefits my mind too.
Truth be told, I have lapsed into, “mommy eating,” the past two days and I feel a little down. I firmly believe that perception is reality. When the perception needs adjusting then, just do it, the Nike way!
As soon as I hop off the computer and take the heat pack off my ankle, I’m going to throw on some gear. I think I’ll start on the yoga mat. My girls love to get out theirs, so we’ll light some incense, put on some music and play. When that gets old, I’ll put on either a Pilates or upper body video. I imagine that by this point I’ll be feeling warm and the fresh prana (blood flow, breathe and life energy in yogi terminology) will be flowing.
I already feel better just thinking about it! Gotta run (so to speak)!
November 10, 2011 § Leave a comment
Sophie woke up at five complaining that her ear popped. Sure sign of an ear infection, which requires an early morning trip to the pediatrician.
Today is a rest day and I’m glad. I myself woke up feeling a little weary. I skyped with my sister Gabby last night and told her about my day. She worries that I’m pushing myself too much and doesn’t quite get the whole, “training for a marathon,” thing. I hope she’s not right. I have a tendency to, “burn the candle at both ends,” but training for a marathon is supposed to be taxing, right? Especially living in Mommyland, right?
After our talk, I went back to look over my training plan and I’m pretty sure I need to adjust. I like the Hal Higdon Novice 1 because it seemed “do-able,” but Novice 2 looks closer to where I am. Novice 2 bumps up the mileage about week 7, which is a concern because I’m trying hard to adhere to the 10% rule. This leads me back to Gabby’s question, “Am I pushing myself too much?” I’m in a quandary.
I think I’ll stay on target for the rest of this week. Tomorrow I’ll run 5, vinyasa yoga on Saturday, with Jen at Evolve Movement, and an 11 mile (long) run on Sunday. My weekly total will be 27. I’ll see how I feel on rest day Monday and then change-up the training plan if necessary.
Today I’ll take care of the girls, maybe do some laundry, eat right and try not to dwell on the uncertainty that comes along with this endeavor.