Week 21

After being in a funk for most of the week, I do feel like my mood has improved a bit and I’m back to investing some much needed time into myself. I held my planks at 2:10 and (almost) faithfully did my push-ups, still at two sets of 8 reps.

As for stretching, I dropped it down to just once, and I can tell you my hip flexor/thigh/knee/whatever the hell is bothering my left upper leg is starting to feel better. Perhaps over-stretching it really is the problem. I did a 5-mile run on Sunday (my first since March 28th!) and even though it was reeeeaaaaally slow – even for a slowpoke like me – I was able to complete it without a ton of pain. The weird thing about my injury is that it hurts for about the first half-mile and then goes away, only to show up later again. At any rate, it wasn’t feeling great when I got home, so I grabbed a bag of frozen green beans and iced it up.

Today, I could hardly believe my luck… almost no pain at all! Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that cutting back on stretching, and adding in some ice and heat every once in awhile, is enough to keep this demon back in its place.

Carefully Constructed Fantasy Worlds

I’m guilty of living in them. From the first moments I can remember, I’ve preferred to live in my own imaginary worlds rather than the world I was born into. I enjoy going to toy stores and even buying toys because it helps me remember the hearty imagination I was born with, especially when I’ve started to forget about it.

I live in a rich world filled with villains, heroes, damsels in distress, princesses, frogs, kings and queens, critter friends and soulmates. It’s easier to believe there’s good in the world when you can assign basic characters to people: if he’s a nasty old troll, then there must be a knight in shining armor coming along soon. If she’s a spoiled, self-centered princess, then somewhere there must be a kind, generous peasant girl waiting to be my friend. Yin and yang.

I’m delighted by tiny, magical worlds I find when I’m out hiking, or even hanging out in my meager yard. Something with little rocks, covered with moss, and baby fungi sprouting through becomes a natural habitat for plastic toys to dwell in. I curse the fact that it’s not socially acceptable for an adult human to lay on her stomach, playing with toys outside in the dirt.

Worse than social shaming is the fact that even if I were to lay on my stomach and attempt to play, I’m not sure I’d remember how. The adult in me would think the words that came out of my mouth were stupid and clumsy.

What was it Alison said in The Breakfast Club? Something along the lines of, “When you grow up, your heart dies.” (Indeed, I just Googled it and that is the exact quote.) You forget how to play, or you don’t have time anymore. Playing looks completely different: people cheat on their partners, drink too much, shoot up drugs. Not all adult playing is so sinister, but in my opinion it’s more boring than creating fantasy worlds all day long with your friends.

I don’t suppose I’d have any desire to write if I didn’t have some fantastic beings dwelling in my brain. The very thing that has kept me immature has also helped to protect the creativity I’ve been capable of in my adult life.

So yes, there’s a pink and red striped hippopotamus named Gilbert that I sleep with at night. I received him for Valentine’s Day this year and we hit it off instantly. A few weeks later, Erik commented, “I never thought you’d get so attached to that thing.” Every night when I climb into my decidedly adult, king-sized bed I cry, “Gil-berrrt!” and tuck him under the covers with me, where he sleeps under my chin all night. Sure, I suppose a 30-year-old woman sleeping with a stuffed hippopotamus can be a little creepy, but I reassure myself with this logic:

I like toys and stuffed animals. There are much worse things I could be into.

Back on the Horse

After beating myself up for the past few days, I stumbled across this article this morning and it made me feel a whole lot better. Perhaps I’m just not cut out to be a speed runner. Perhaps the 5k is not the distance for me.

I like that this article had an easy-to-understand quiz (nothing about VO2 max and all that jazz) and follow-up steps based on your score. I scored 22 (mid-distance runner) and lo and behold, what training should I be doing? Tempo runs, my arch-enemy!!! Apparently tempo runs should be in my toolkit as empowering, not something to dread. Time to get back on the tempo run horse and stop being afraid of them. Running them slower will help (15 to 45 seconds slower than my 5k pace, as the article suggests).

One more 5k to complete in a couple of weeks before I give myself a break and then start training for a 15k (September 19), then a half-marathon piggybacked on (October 25). The great thing about the rare-to-find 15k race is that it’s roughly a distance you’re supposed to run at that point in half-marathon training. I had no plans to run a half this year, but it magically worked out with the 15k training plan. Funny how that happens.

Bitch Run

It was a crappy race, and I guess that just happens sometimes. Still, it never becomes easier – not for me, anyway. I have a tendency to be hard on myself.

I usually go into a race with a regular goal and a back-up goal. Goal One was to come in under 31 minutes (considering I came in under 30 last time, I thought it was a lenient goal). Ha. Nope. It was my fifth slowest race. Yeah, as in 5/8.

My Back-up Goal was simply to have fun. Nope. Not even close. I nearly cried all the way home as I chastised myself for being fat and slow. I desperately tried to find just one nice thing to say about myself, but I couldn’t think of even one. I just kept swearing at myself and wondering where I went so wrong in my life that I can’t even run 3.1 miles in a decent time.

There’s a great insecurity that comes with running. They say that the running community is friendly, but I don’t think it’s true. All I ever hear are runners who complain about their times. And when those times are sub-8:00, it’s hard for me to stay motivated. I cringe when people call me a runner. Maybe those people – most of whom are not runners – think I’m actually doing something amazing, but for the real runners in the world, I am just a slow blob who gets in their way on the road.

Sigh… just a shitty race, just a shitty day. One thing I know for sure: after the next 5k on June 6, I’m done with speed work. It’s too damn disappointing. I’m going to work on building my mileage instead, and to hell with how slow I am. I’m sure my first half-marathon will be something ridiculous like 3 hours, but oh well. It’s the best I can do at this point. I quit.

Week 20

Week 20, can you believe it? I can’t believe I’ve been at this for 20 weeks!

My body seems to be stalled on 2 sets of 8 push-ups. A lot of mornings, it’s all I can do to get them all in without stopping. So I’ll keep trying and eventually I’m sure I’ll have the strength to get to 2 sets of 10 – and maybe even beyond.

I held planks at 2:05 all week. I can hold a forearm plank for the whole time, but more times than not now I find myself breaking it up with side planks. I think that was a good solution for me so I’m sticking with it.

As for stretching… well, I went on a run last week with four other women, two of whom are experienced runners. While we were waiting to hit the road, I talked to them about the groin/thigh/overall upper leg pain I’ve been feeling. They suggested I was over-stretching my hip flexors! I had never considered that possibility. I backed off on my stretching and noticed an improvement. I know I’ll still need to give my hips a good stretch every once in awhile, but I think I need to back it off to once or twice a week and see if this improvement is really related.

I Learned Who I Am

I have two questions in life: what do other people think of me, and what do other people see when they look at me? I was privileged to learn the answer to one of these this week.

I went to Principles & Practices, an intensive three-day training for YMCA professionals. It was outstanding, and I learned more about myself than I thought I would. It really was focused more on us than on our careers.

Anyway, the final group activity we had to do was interesting. They gave us each a blank postcard and asked us to write our name in the middle. We then had to pass the postcard around our table and each person in our group had to write a word or brief phrase about you. We had been assigned to these people for all three days, so they had plenty of time to form opinions of us.

I wrote my name and passed the postcard, being intentional about the words and phrases I used to describe others. In the meantime, I was scared to death about what would be on my card when it came back. Here are some words I would use to describe myself:

Self-centered
Stubborn
Loud
Bossy
Goofy
Obnoxious

My card came back and the answer was in my hands. I visibly relaxed as I glanced at it and saw what others thought of me:

Unique
Creative
Positive person
Happy
Nice
Engaging

05-14-15 007I suppose I could argue with the exercise and say that of course people wrote nice things, regardless of what they really thought of me. But that wasn’t the point of the exercise. It was supposed to demonstrate to you what type of leader you are.

I’m Joanna, and I’m unique.

TBT: I Won’t Throw Out My Costume!

I don’t know why I keep last year’s Halloween costume. It’s like a formal (or even semi-formal… OK, fancy in the slightest!) dress that you swear you’ll wear again. It won’t happen, but you can’t seem the part with it. I look over my shoulder at the harlequin costume hanging in the closet and I can’t bear to donate it.

Harlequin Honey, it was officially billed at the store.

Harlequin Honey, it was officially billed at the store.

That harlequin costume accompanied me to a 5k that was a blast – complete with delicious breakfast afterward – and to my first downtown Estes Park bash, which was everything it was cracked up to be. It was also the first Halloween that Erik and I have dressed up for.

Chillin like a villain.

Chillin like a villain.

How can I donate a costume that has so much memory woven into its fabric?

For the same reason most of us don’t get rid of our wedding dresses.