Two good things happened at the appointment with my sports medicine doctor last week: I’m cleared to run again AND Dr. Holmes gave me this AWESOME t-shirt. His clever wife came up with the slogan.
For fear of this post sounding preachy, I should begin by saying that I am writing this to help me make sense of the overbearing feeling of shock and dread that is so easily sunk into during weeks like this. I blog. That’s what bloggers do, right? We feel compelled on some level to share our experience, strength and hope with the world, in hopes that someone finds it useful and inspiring; a platform to discuss our workout plans, our recipes and our innermost fears. Journals are nothing new, there’s just something inside some of us who feel the need to press the ‘publish” button and send our entries out into webiverse for public consumption and connection. That’s what this post is for me in this moment.
For me, today, it’s hard to fight the feeling that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. People do bad things; to each other, to the planet and to themselves. The chaos is undeniable. Has it always been this way? Are things getting worse everyday or are we just more aware of what’s happening in the world. Once upon a time, it would have taken days or weeks, or maybe even months to find out that a far-away country had been devastated by a tsunami or that a factory had blown up killing workers and flattening a small town. Or that an unknown person had taken it upon themselves to determine when and where innocent strangers would take their last breaths.
Today, thanks to 24-hour news coverage and the staggering ability of the Internet to connect people in different corners of the earth, we have instant access to the world’s disasters and tragedies. The world has probably always had its share of super storms and murderers; we now just have unprecedented knowledge of when, how and to whom they happen. Nancy Grace would have had a field day with Jack the Ripper. Anderson Cooper would have rowed his boat right out to the site of the Titanic sinking.
I wasn’t in Boston Monday, but I had friends who were. I spent most of my morning in a songwriting session incessantly and excitedly checking my phone for the athlete text alerts I signed up for so that I could track a friend’s progress in the marathon. That afternoon I was frantically checking my phone praying for some sort of communication from her so that I would know she wasn’t injured, or worse, dead. She had finished the marathon only fifteen minutes before the explosions. That gave her plenty of time to make it away from the finish line, but at that time it was still unclear if there were more bombs waiting and ready to explode. I was so grateful that she was able to send me a quick text after it happened and that it was clear she was ok. I know the level of anxiety that I experienced from the safety of my living room watching the CNN coverage and I can’t begin and don’t want to imagine the fear and anxiety of those who were actually present, injured or clinging to life. It’s not about me.
I remember having a conversation with a friend a few weeks ago about the world and how difficult it is to not think that it’s on the verge of going down in flames. This particular friend is a social activist and has taken part in many a social movement, including Occupy Nashville. We don’t agree on everything, but our differences make for meaningful opportunities to learn from one another. She, like me, is an empath to the point of occasional emotional debilitation. We talked about the animal rescue project that she was soon to start working on. We talked about the people who were dealing with the salt dome collapse and subsequent sinkhole that had swallowed 13 acres deep in Cajun country in Bayou Corne, Louisiana; and the apparent and confusing media blackout on the subject. She and I tend to have intense conversations. She asked me how I felt about the current state of the world. My immediate gut-reaction answer was that even amidst the seemingly endless bad, I still feel like there are good people out there doing good things. Even after Monday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon, I still feel that way.
For every coward who plants a bomb then hides in safety as it detonates, there are a hundred people running towards the blast; their immediate gut-reaction being the need to help the injured. For every person who is right now, abusing a dog or another human being, there are countless others working for little reward or recognition in order to bring them into safer situations. They’ll probably never enter into their own fifteen minutes of fame, but I would bet they’re ok with that. For every person stealing from their neighbors, there are thousands of others giving of their time, energy and resources to make the lives of others easier.
I find myself easily mired in the whys: Why do these terrible things happen? Why are there so many bad people in the world? Why is there so much evil?
One thing I know for sure today is that I don’t know much. I’m not capable of fully understanding the whys and I’m probably not meant to. What I feel in my heart is that this week’s events are an opportunity to see through the brokenness of the individuals who perpetuate evil and into the aftermath of their deeds where God is real and present and working in the hearts, minds and bodies of those people running towards the tragedy, not away from it.
I was in the book store yesterday and came across a title called Living the Jesus Resolution, a book about God inviting us to meet him in whatever it is we’re doing, whether it be doing the dishes, working or looking for answers to life’s troubles. I flipped the book open and landed on pg. 130, where the subject of the lesson was marathons. (There are no coincidences.) The author, Casandra Martin, discusses the preparation for and the sacrifices it takes to run a marathon and that it is also a perfect metaphor for the great “picture of life.” I bought the book, took it home and re-read the pages that inspired me to make it part of my collection. The following is a prayer Martin writes in the end of this section:
“My Jesus Resolution today is to run well. I am going to find joy in running with those who point me to Jesus. I am going to be thankful for the way each step brings me closer to His heart. I don’t want to get caught up in running for a prize that isn’t worth the race. I want to remember why I am running. He will be there when I cross the finish line to welcome me home and say, “Well done.””
She follows the prayer with a simple question that I’ve decided will be the only one I ask myself for these next twenty-four hours:
“How will you run the race today?”
“If I hadn’t been a woman, I’d be a drag queen for sure. I like all that flair and I’d be dressing up in them high heels and putting on the big hair. I’d be like RuPaul.”
Hell on high heels. That used to be me. Pretty red ones. Black and white lace Manolo Blahniks. 4-inch stacked platform boots. Yes, I was hell on high heels. I loved being able to instantaneously transform myself from an average height of 5’4” into a taller, more willowy version of myself. I loved seeing the world from a different, more elevated view. The ability to look someone in the eyes and not up their nostrils is a highly underrated phenomenon. I was always shocked when taking off my heels after a night out at the difference in height that a heel can make. A shoeless Cinderella, transformed back into a vertically-challenged pumpkin.
Lately, however, I’m less hell on high heels and more hell on ballet flats and Super Feet orthotics. Not sexy, but neither is the air cast I had to wear for two months last fall. After a failed attempt at stuffing the air cast into a pair of pumps, I dug deep in my soul and found the strength to follow my doctor’s no heels policy while my leg was healing. Believe me when I say I asked him repeatedly to confirm that heels were in fact, not an option.
The fall and winter months passed and I did nothing more than look lovingly upon my favorite heels as they sat on the shelves of my closet, pleading silently with me to take them out for a night. I said no, time and time again, but suffered a relapse the night of the Nashville Triathlon Club holiday party in December. I paid the price in pain for the next few days. Worth it? I wonder.
As much as I love heels, I am coming to understand that they actually pose a real threat to my bone and muscle health. I came across an interesting New York Times blog post written by Gretchen Reynolds, alleging that women who walk in heels are much more prone to strain injuries. Not to mention the potential for actual breaks and more serious injuries that could result from a night of dancing on table tops with the cute groomsman at your cousin’s wedding. I myself will admit to taking many a footwear-related nosedive. (Click here to read the full blog post. If you are a wearer of heels, it’s a must-read.)
Imagine my surprise last week when I read a news item regarding Bethenny Frankel’s recent promotion of her Skinnygirl Daily Stiletto workout at an NYC fitness studio. As an arbiter of all things healthy, wealthy and wise, I was surprised to see her endorsement of something that seems so, for lack of a better description, bat-shit crazy. Working out in heels? Call me old-fashioned, but I can say with complete certainty, that my participation in Bethenny’s class would have landed me in traction. My extreme clumsiness makes daily demands on my body and I can only imagine what tragedy would ensue while doing squats in Choos.
Ironically, I’m back in that air cast for a few weeks after a minor reoccurrence of the stress reaction that developed in my tibia while training for the Santa Rosa Island Triathlon last year. Just when I thought I might be able to treat my favorite heels to a romantic dinner and night out on the town, I’m back at zero heel tolerance for the foreseeable future.
To all my stiletto-loving friends out there, safe heeling!
For an interesting read on the history of high heels, read RandomHistory.com’s article, Dangerous Elegance: A History of High-Heeled Shoes.
“The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
The 5th annual Alpha Delta Pi-athlon was a short but sweet race held on March 24th in the cold rain in Murfreesboro, TN. (300m/16k/5k) On any other day, I would have enjoyed a cold, rainy Sunday morning. Those mornings are perfect for grabbing coffee and catching up with a good book or magazine that I get too busy to read during the week. This particular morning, however, I found myself, standing outside in the drizzle, later full on rain, with blue goose-bumped skin trying to quell the inner monologue that went something like this:
Me: Turn the car around. Go home.
Me: No, I’ve trained and I’m going to do this.
Me: It’s in the 40’s and raining, idiot, turn this train around and go home.
Me: I can do it. They give out medals at the end. I want one!
Me: I’ll buy you one online, now get in the car and go home.
I came close to following up on the advice given me by the negative voice in my head, but decided instead to treat it like an episode of Survivor and muddle through the best I could. People climb mountains and boat solo around the world so I figured I could make this happen.
The swim went by super fast. I came within a millimeter of getting kicked in the face, but managed to avoid that. I know the day will come in which that will probably happen, but I didn’t need to add insult to the list of imaginary injuries I had compiled while inwardly whining about the weather. Running out of the MTSU swim complex in a wet tri suit wasn’t great and I wondered if the spectators were inspired by us or if they were thinking we definitely drank the Kool-Aid somewhere along the way and should maybe take up a different hobby.
T1 took me a bit of time. Having watched the weather forecast closely the previous week, I hit the cold-weather clearance sale at Sun & Ski on Saturday for gloves and a jacket to throw on for the bike ride. I ended up leaving the gloves behind, not because I’m some sort of bad ass who can bike in the cold rain without them, but because I couldn’t get them onto my wet hands and ended up cursing and throwing them after struggling for an entire minute to get one only halfway on. The rain really settled in during the bike portion of my race. Rain came in every direction. It fell from the sky. It spat sideways at us from the cars (the roads were not closed for the race) and it shot up from the tires, which were kicking up water and dirt. My entire body was soaked and my feet went numb at some point during bike, but I actually had fun and went as all out as I could, safely, given the poor road conditions.
About halfway through the course, I saw a woman with a coffee cup in hand watching the racers from her front porch. I could see smoke coming from the chimney of her house and it did cross my mind that having coffee and a chat by her fireplace may be more fun than what I was doing, but my inner monologue had taken on a more positive tone, so I didn’t stop to bum some coffee and warmth. My favorite part of the bike was the chachki cemetery we passed along the course. I’d never seen anything like it and wished that I had a camera to document the two acres (approx.) of strategically placed fake flowers, lawn gnomes, wheelbarrows and farm equipment turned art pieces. Amazing.
T2 took me about a 3rd of the time T1 did. I just wanted to be out of the weather at that point. I can honestly say that I couldn’t feel my feet for the first third of the run. The rain had stopped at this point, but it was hard to avoid the puddles of water on the course. I just wanted to finish. I was cold, wet and pretty hungry so I cruised across the finish line, thankful to have made it through the first race of the year. My time was 1:24. I figure that my time will improve in the future with better conditions. Happy Tri-ing!
In my last post, I mentioned that my shower gel slowly leaked all over the contents of my gym bag. I spent half an hour or more wiping off the contents of the bag and then unsuccessfully, the inside of the bag. It’s a good thing that the gel has an appealing scent because it’s going to be there forever. I must invent a gym bag that has removable insides for easy washing.
I hadn’t cleaned out the bag in a while, so it was a good opportunity to do so. Apparently Mary Poppins is missing her special bag, the one she can magically pull lamps and birdcages from, because it is now sitting in my kitchen in the form of a black lululemon gym bag. I was stunned at the amount of stuff I pulled out of this bag, which is no bigger than an extra-large size women’s purse.
Who cares about what’s in a gym bag? I do. I’m intrigued by the most random of things. I adore the “My Stuff” column in Vanity Fair magazine, in which they poll people of international stature on what products are in their purses, desks, closets, etc. Here is what I found in mine:
-2 beach cover-ups
-a guitar pick
-Eucalyptus oil (I use it in the steam room. Put a few drops on a hand towel and bring it into the steam room. DON’T absent-mindedly wipe your face with the towel. I can assure you, from experience, that it is not a pleasant experience.)
-Zum Bum Bidet In A Bottle (Don’t ask. Just get yourself some.)
-3 bottles of sunscreen/moisturizer
-brand new pair of unused Yankz! laces
-my bike gloves
-my iShuffle and headphones
-unused timing chip belt
-4 swim caps (Apparently I need choices.)
-swimmer’s ear drops
-my ymca card
- 2 bottles of body lotion from the Marriott hotel bathroom
-7 ponytail holders, clips, etc.
-a water bottle
-a roll of Tums
-a spiritual vitamin from the YMCA (little strips of paper with verses and inspirational quotes typed on them.)
-make-up products with questionable expiration dates
-garage door opener
-two pairs of goggles that are not mine
What is the most random thing in your gym bag?
“The path not taken will lead you nowhere.” -Me to Myself
I’m almost a month back into my training and today, after a painless 1200-meter swim last night at the Y, feel GREAT! Can I get an AMEN for heated pools? It just doesn’t seem right to walk out from a swim to a flurry of snowflakes. On March 5th. In the South. Mother Nature seems a bit addled. Bless her heart.
Now that, like Stella, I’ve gotten my groove back, there are a few things that I’d forgotten over the past four months that I would like to point out:
Number 1: The laundry. Training really adds to the laundry pile in a way that I had forgotten about. The workout clothes, the swimsuits, the towels, the bike shorts, the skanky socks. Bigger picture: So worth it. I don’t know if it’s the manual labor involved in laundering all of these items or the fact that I’m a month into training that has propelled my pants into a state of fitting better.
Number 2: Accountability. Being back with Coach Caroline has snapped me back to attention. There is a quote that I like by Pamela Theresa Loerstcher that promises a clarity and vision about life by simply knowing oneself. “Know thyself and all will be revealed,” she says. I have a long way to go in the journey of self-discovery, but I know myself well enough to confirm that having a coach and a training plan that requires me to log the details of my workouts is the level of accountability that I need to accomplish my triathlon goals. Bigger Picture: If asked, my recommendation will always be, especially for the newbie’s, to find a coach to work with one-on-one or with or one who offers a group-training program. So worth it!
Number 3: Small goals are ok. Last fall at my first meeting of the Nashville Triathlon Club as a board member, I remember distinctly feeling like an utter charlatan. The board members are all seasoned athletes with amazing race resumes. Then there’s me. At my first meeting I remember a discussion between some of the other members regarding the use of salt sticks in a long race. Thankfully the universe (God) slapped his hand over my mouth before I blurted out my first thought, “I love Pixie Stix!” Ugh.
I left the first meeting feeling like I really didn’t belong, but after some time and getting to know the other members a bit better, I was better able to remind myself that everyone was a beginner at one time or another. It’s ok if my first and second races of 2013 are super sprints. Who says I have to be an Ironman to call myself a triathlete? I understand that sentiment may induce palpitations in the purist heart, but my goals are steadily increasing and who knows what races I will be able to accomplish this year! Bigger Picture: For some people in the world, finding a place to sleep at night and food to eat are the goals of the day. Being able to afford the luxury of competing in an expensive, time-consuming sport is ultimately exactly what I characterized it as: a luxury.
Number 4: Man I forgot how an hour on the bike kills the sit bones. Ouch. Bigger Picture: My sore behind will look so much better in bike shorts because of my training.
Number 5: I still look like a swimmer in distress when attempting flip turns. Bigger Picture: I still look like a swimmer in distress when attempting flip turns.
Number 6: It’s not fun when the shower gel explodes in your gym bag. Bigger Picture: Not sure there is one, but if pressed, I would say it was a good and much-needed opportunity to clean and organize my gym bag.
Number 7: Nudity in the locker room will always and forever skeeve me out. Bigger Picture: None, zero, zilch, zip up your pants fellow YMCA members.
There are 18 days left until my first race of the year! I’m excited, motivated and missing the bottom half of my tri suit. Must find the missing pieces.
On a final note, I wanted to share an article that I found called “Tips For Getting Motivated to Run,” written by Christine Luff in the running and jogging section of About.com. The title suggests that this is about running, but insert whatever training goal is looming out in front of you and put these steps into action. I was already putting some of these into practice and the ones I wasn’t, I’ m going to give a whirl, especially the “cut yourself some slack” part. Here are the steps:
For the real explanations of the suggestions on the list, click here to read the article.
It’s been over two weeks since I last shared about my upcoming show at the Bluebird in Nashville. In that time, I’ve been back with my tri coach, written some songs that I’m excited about and, now, officially have one month to go before my first tri of the year. I am beyond thankful that it’s a super sprint!
The Bluebird show was amazing! I can say with complete certainty that is was my favorite experience on stage in Nashville EVER. The standing room only crowd was so supportive and appreciative of the music and stories my cohorts and I shared with them. Here are some photos from the show taken by my family. Enjoy!
Listening to one of my favorite co-writers, Chris Roberts, of Warner Chappell Nashville.
Taking it all in.
My ukulele, Pepe, making his Nashville debut.
Listening to Heather Longstaffe of Sony Toronto do her thing. Love my Canadian peeps.
Chris Roberts, Me, Georgia Thomas and Heather Longstaffe
Next: Back in the training game: my first two weeks back with coach Caroline of TriSuccess Multisport Coaching, a training recap, tips for getting back to it and things about tri training that it only took me 4 months to forget.
“If you give it good concentration, good energy, good heart and good performance, the song will play you.” -Levon Helm
Running through songs and rehearsing before a show are a lot like training and running in the traditional sense. The elements are the same: tempo, good form, consistency, proper breathing. Even dietary considerations are similar. Stay hydrated. Don’t eat too much or too little before the race/show. Dairy? No good.
The mental hype is also the same. There is a date on the calendar circled in red. You tell all your friends and family about it. Nerves and excitement converge in such a way that it becomes hard to tell which is which. Down to making a checklist of things to bring, it’s the same. Swim cap? Check. Running shoes? Check. Guitar picks? Got ‘em. Tuner? Uh, oh.
The pep talk I give myself before anything that makes me a little nervous is the same no matter what I’m doing: Practice, show up, do the best you can and let God do the rest. Simple. A friend reminded me the other day of why nerves are ok. His simple text read, “Nerves mean you care! You’ll do great!” So true! Being nervous or stressed means you give a crap about what you’re doing and that is a blessing, to be doing something that you love. Anything perceived as a negative can be harnessed for good. Nerves can be used to one’s advantage. I find that a little bit of the jitters gives me the edge I need to perform.
So tomorrow night, I’ll be getting a check off my musical bucket list and playing a show at the Bluebird Cafe. Here’s to remembering the words to my own songs and remembering to bring my tuner.
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s your choice.”
Eight weeks to go until the first triathlon of the year and I haven’t seen the inside of a pool in many, many weeks. There is something in me that finds the thought of jumping into a pool in winter incredibly offensive. Yes, it’s an indoor pool, but the mind is a powerful thing and I can’t fight the feeling that it’s going to be as miserable as I think it is. There is no Nashville chapter of the Polar Bear Club that I know of and I’m happy to stay unaware. It may take me being pushed into the pool. Tough love. Any takers? I’m open to it.
Not helping matters is the fact that Mother Nature has lost her marbles and dropped them all over Nashville in the form of erratic weather. In the past few weeks, we’ve had 70 degree days (which I did take advantage of with outdoor workouts,) ice storms, rain showers and as of this very moment, 38 degree temperatures. Make up your mind, girl. Your crazy behavior is seriously affecting my training chi.
The only base building I’ve done in the last week was constructing the wheat-free sugar cookie crust I made for a pan of lemon bars that I polished off in less than 24 hours. In my defense, I did bring half of them to a friend. The lemon bar situation further exacerbates my lack of desire to get myself into a swimsuit and into the pool. Like I said, I’m willing to be pushed in, fully clothed and all.
I am, in general, highly skilled in the self-motivation department. One has to be to be in the songwriting world that I work in. Today, however? Not so much. I’m currently accepting all forms of advice and welcome any tips regarding this winter workout issue.
Thankfully, my first race of the year is a super sprint with distances of 400 meters in the pool, 10 miles on the bike followed by a 5k; great distances if you’re new to the sport like me and looking to get in some practice before bigger races.
Motivation. If only it tasted like lemon bars.
“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.” -Oprah Winfrey
The temperature was in the 50′s on Sunday, so I took the workout outside. A pain-free run/walk through the 12 South District in Nashville. Beautiful!
Note: To my left in this picture, out of range of my iPhone camera is Mafiaoza’s, home of the best gluten-free pizza in Nashville. Too bad I had no money with me. Who’s afraid to run through Nashville with a pizza box in hand? Not me.