Friday, April 18, 2014

Surrender, Annie

Earlier this year, Ali at Hit the Ground Running asked what our word for the year was. I knew mine immediately: surrender.

It's actually something I've been meditating on for over a year now, knowing that I am more the person I wish to be exactly to the extent that I can surrender to the here and now, in all aspects of my life.

I find this so hard to write about yet it's the thread that has been running through everything this year and keeping me going...

Surrender to what?

The circumstances of my life. Being mom to two young children. Wife to a wonderful man, who has some considerable stresses in his life right now. Living in a major city. The work that I do. My past. All of these have their considerable joys and satisfactions but also impose their own limitations. I can butt my head up against those limitations, or relax into things as they are.

And, like water, flow towards that which is necessary for me to keep going.

Moments of silence. Of comfort. Of joy. Of longing.

("This longing you express is the return message." Rumi).

And always, of movement.

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But it isn't just about surrendering to, it's a matter also of surrendering up:
  • the idea of being "successful"
  • what I "should" be doing
  • my expectations for myself based on others
And thereby surrendering to myself, to who I really am.

Having children has forced me to spend my time on what I really want to do. Observing this - seeing what choices I make - has opened my eyes to seeing more clearer who I am and who I want to be.

A little bit painful (humbling).

A lot freeing.

The Dude and I had thought we might bear another child and then, last year, closed the door on that idea. I feel, in this 42nd year, as if I might be giving birth to myself.

A late bloomer, I know.

But better late than never.

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Some more Rumi for this Holy Friday (translation by Coleman Barks):

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


With love and peace -
Annie

Friday, April 11, 2014

Things I Think About While Swimming

The pattern of the sunlight on the floor of the pool.

How dirty the floor of the pool really is. Best not to think about that too much.

My form: chest down so my hips rise, reach long but then tuck my arm in close on the downstroke. Keep my head down and my neck relaxed.

People I'm praying for...

...and then others, and then work, and my schedule, and all the random things one thinks about while moving.

Imaginary blog postings that I almost never manage to write.

What the $%*# is this idiot doing, floating in the middle of the medium zone?!

Would it be unspeakably rude to splash water on him?

Ah, better just to swim around. At least there's only four of us in this zone right now.

Back to my form.

Is that a rubber duck on the side of the pool?

Why yes, yes it is. How cool. (And today that duck was joined by a second.)

Wait, what lap am I on?

Back to the sunlight.

At some point I always think about my happiest swimming memory: summer laps in the outdoor Olympic size pool in my Oma's town. The coolth* of the water, the warmth of the sun, occasional breezes, often just me in the pool, back and forth for ages. *This really should be a word.

Oh, coming to the end of lap swim. How many can I still get in?

Last lap: Relax, relax, relax.

And we're done.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Two Steps Forward...

After seeing some real improvement last week I was feeling hopeful that I might be able to run (a very little bit) soon. Maybe even run my 5k at the end of the month, instead of walking it?

Then yesterday came. I did a longer workout at the gym, which in itself didn't seem to be a problem. But then I spent another 5 miles on my feet running around town - visiting a homebound friend, taking Goo to the doctor, random errands. And in particular, dashing for a bus, lots and lots of stairs, dashing for another bus with the stroller... By the end of the day my leg was screaming at me. And it's still unhappy today. Nothing to do but reset that mental countdown.

So it goes. At least we don't have snow!

Grateful for pool and gym memberships -
Annie

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Evolution of an Injury

First, start with one truly exhausted mama.
     It's gotten better in the last week, but for nearly three months I had not been getting more than 6 hours of sleep a night, and that, interrupted.

Next, add in overly ambitious training plans.
     After my challenge went so well I continued with my plans to run an ultra in May, suddenly bumping up my overall weekly mileage as well as continuing my regular long runs.

Don't forget to underestimate the effects of running a marathon distance.
     With my previous marathons I had "hit the wall" by running out of fuel. This, oddly enough, had the effect of protecting my legs as I was forced to stop and slow down significantly. In last month's challenge I had locked in my nutrition which meant I was able to keep pushing - and even speed up - in the last miles. I truly had not expected, or previously experienced, the fatigue and wear that I had after this run.

And then don't make any accommodations for those effects in the days and weeks following.
     All good marathon training plans would have you rest for a least a week and take another two weeks to slowly return to your regular mileage. 

Then, right before you have a long run, eat poorly.
     I wrestled with Girl Scout cookies and sadly, they won. Not only won, but smacked me down and dragged me all around. And then sat on me.

Oh, and get woken up by a youngster for several hours in the middle of night.

But don't change your plans based on how you're feeling.
     No, I was regretting those cookies and made the equally poor decision to "run them off".

And don't change your plans mid-run, no matter how you feel.

Even if you start experiencing shin pain two-thirds of the way through.

Sigh.

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The verdict is out on what this is. Shin splints? Stress fracture? Inflammation? I've seen my doctor and had an x-ray done, which neither of us expect will tell us anything useful, but has to be done so that insurance will agree to the more useful MRI. We're waiting on the results (or rather, non-results) of that. In the meantime, how to treat it? Rest to the extent that I can. Icing seems to be helping. Waiting on ibuprofen (which would help with inflammation) until we can rule out a stress fracture, since ibuprofen impedes bone healing.

I haven't been taking anything for pain (at least, not since those first two awful days) since I have a pretty high pain tolerance and often just don't think to take anything. And honestly, the pain I do have is useful. Does it hurt when I do this? That? It gives me guidance on what I can do since the other option - not doing anything - goes against every last bit of my being. I mean, I will if I really have to, but if I don't really have to...

I am grateful that both of the races I have already registered for are meaningful to me beyond an opportunity to race. I'll be able to take each of them as they come and enjoy them at whatever state of fitness I'm at. And I want to keep that in mind with all future races.

My mother asked if it bothered me to have to reduce my training. I'm feeling really grateful right now to be able to say no. This is just what is going on right now. I'll swim more than I have been and have switched to more strength training, especially leg exercises so that I don't lose too much there. (Hello, squats!) I see this as an opportunity to start over again, correctly, for the long-term goals I have in mind. And as an opportunity to assess more realistically what some of those goals might be. (No worries, Ali, I still want to run an ultra someday.)

And maybe in the meantime I'll work through my stack of mending and actually get started on my next quilt.

Ever optimistically.
Annie

Monday, March 24, 2014

What's Up, Doc?

Note: I don't normally repost from my Facebook groups here, but I just haven't managed to write a post for a while - too many thoughts swirling around when given unlimited space to express them. Sometimes shorter really is better... or at least written. 

Apologies to anyone reading this a second time.

Okay, this is for accountability. I have been doing too much, running-wise, especially since my birthday challenge last month. This was borne out by a sucky long run last week, where I ended up with shin splints.
And it's not just been physically too much, it's been too much in terms of my peace of mind and ability to be fully present with my family. We have a lot of changes coming our way this year and I need to be more ready to flex with them.
So, I'm changing my plans for the year. I've got some fun races lined up (two 5Ks, a half, 15K) and will look to slo-o-wly build up my running base to 25-30 miles per week so that next year I can be in a better position for another marathon and an ultra. And no more personal "challenges" for myself. It was an awesome day and I'm really happy I did it - but it also took more of a toll on me than I was expecting and I tried coming back too fast afterwards. I don't need to do anything more like that this year.
If you hear me coveting my neighbor's ultra, please, smack me. There's always next year.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Marathon Madness

Registration for the Chicago Marathon lottery was supposed to have started this week (yes, that's right, not registation for the marathon itself,  just the lottery for it) but has now been delayed a couple of weeks.

I had not been thinking of doing the marathon again this year and then I was sort of approached about being part of a charity team. (I won't go into why this was "sort of", it's convoluted and involves work.) But of course that got me wanting to run it again, and looking into options. Cue a couple of days of crazy obsessive marathon thinking.

I think I now know what I'm going to do, but I will sit on it for a few days (and talk to The Dude) to be sure it feels right.

Those of you who aren't runners, what gets you obsessed?

Yours,
Monkey Mind Annie

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Back in the Pool, Again

Hmph. I went all winter, running on all kinds of crazy snow and ice without any injury, and then in this last week as things start to thaw I slip on a little ice while leaving work and have pulled my lower left calf muscle. And some combination of lugging groceries/child have left me with knots in my shoulder and neck.

So, back in the pool it is!