11/24/2014 Leggo my Ego

Monday. My last post was my one thousandth post to My Journey of Fitness. I started this blog in March of 2005 as I began training for my first Marathon (NYC 2005). 1,000 posts later (one thousand! That’s like a Diana Gabaldon novel) — I am training for another marathon (LA in March) and yesterday was day 1. I can’t count the number of first days of training at this point. Too many races. Start lines and finish lines overlap. 1,000 posts and in March it will be ten years of blogging about workouts, diets, meditation, confidence and motivation (or lack thereof). Even more bizarre is the fact that one or two people have been reading since the beginning. Now THAT’s loyalty (or a need to self-inflict pain)! What a milestone and what a chance to really look back and see how far I have come (or not). Here’s a hint — it’s a spiral.

Here’s my nutshell of the last 10 years. This journey really started in May of 2003 with my first Olympic. (Some might argue it started earlier with Tennis but we have to draw a line somewhere). Two Olympics quickly after the first. Then 2005 is when I upped it and started to train for the NYC Marathon, did a bunch of half Ironmans, trained for Ironman, crashed during Ironman, came back and finish Ironman, did another marathon, ran 150 miles across the Sahara in the Marathon des Sables, got thyroid cancer, did some more triathlons (barely), tended to my parents in their final years, dnf’d a couple of Ironmans, finished another Marathon, dnf’d my second ultra and then basically hung up my shoes. Countless 10k’s, at more than a dozen half marathons (oh yeah more), another half dozen half Ironmans, same number of Olympics, throw in some swims and long rides too. A garage full of finisher medals to show for it. There that’s ten years of my Journey in a nutshell.

So what’s different? I think the biggest difference is I am not longer scared of long distances. I know it will hurt. I know I have to train. But I see that pretty much anything is doable if you are willing to put in the time and effort and not lie to yourself. Most of my changes I feel on the inside. I’m a little kinder and a little more patient with myself. (Underline that “a little”.) I’m not so impressed with my accomplishments and I’m not so hard on my self about my incompletes. We discuss Equanimity a lot in my study group. There is no place better to explore equanimity than in the world of sports. As Rudyard Kipling said it best, “to Meet with Triumph and Disaster, and treat those two impostors just the same.”

I decided to do my first workout (which was just a 20 minute foundation run) on my treadmill. I know it sounds silly to be nervous about doing a 20 minute run but I really wasn’t sure if I could do 20 minutes without stopping. (Respect the distance). When I was last training I was always doing the Galloway method and I was doing run 2 minutes walk 1 minute. And it has been over a year since I have done any kind of run training. I was prepared to get on the treadmill and have to walk. Happy to report that was not necessary and in fact it was quite pleasant. I was really pleased that I just got on, started running at an easy even pace for 5 minutes then picked up the pace for 15 and then I just cooled down for another 5. I didn’t do anything over a zone 2. I could comfortably sing along with my songs and nothing, absolutely nothing hurt but I was doing a nice little pace. Psych! Of course I wanted to stay on and run until I couldn’t but the older and wiser me said “get off now and bask in the dellusion for a bit.”

To say I haven’t been running would be a misrepresentation. I take Higgins to the woods most days. I’d say 4-5 out of 7 days we do several miles (2 when we are rushed, 4 when we have time) but my focus is on exercising and engaging Higgins, not myself. So we start out with a short brisk climb up the mountain. That usually gets my heart pumping and I consider that my “workout.” Then we do about 2 miles on the trails and I follow Higgins’ pace. He usually starts out sniffing everything, digs under a rock or two and then takes off for a short spurt (I jog to catch up), he stops, sniffs, digs, spurts — repeat. It can take us about 45 minutes to get 2 miles in. If we have time we go for more. Then I usually haul a few rocks for my labyrinth while he runs around in circles. All in we put in about 90 minutes one way or another.

I would say my real workout these days comes in on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I do my swim workout. Today was particularly hard as the coach tossed my workout plan and set me to kicking. Holy Kickset Batman! I kicked about a half a mile and then some other stuff but really it was all just excuse to kick some more. I kicked so much that I popped my knee out and kept going and it popped back into place. I hate to admit it but by the end I might have improved a smidge. I think the master’s swimming has really given me the jump start on my training that I need. What I lack in speed I make up for with wisecracks. Somethings never change.

I also met my new cycling coach last week. Practice starts Monday Dec. 1st. Practice will be on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30-7 with possible core workout and stretching afterward. Group outdoor rides will be on the weekends. The good news is my group is about my age range (the younguns are doing the Tuesday/Thursday workouts — the middle-agers are mon/wed.) Although they are my age group I have a feeling I know who some of these people are and they are not in my fitness level — they are much more advanced. They are all on the Biker’s Edge cycling team (which I am nowhere near fit enough to be on — I spent Tuesday nights chasing the back of the Women’s social ride). But these new workouts are on indoor trainers so I can pretend to keep up? I really liked chatting with my new coach. He’s is a competitive cyclist and respected coach and takes this training very seriously (so I got the no missing practice speech and already the Power to Weight ration talk — geesh let me at least let me show you how out of shape I look in spandex before you comment on my muffin rides!).

So that’s going to be my winter training schedule starting Dec 1st (which is Monday holy tomato!)
Monday a.m. short run
p.m. cycling and core
Tuesday master’s swim
Wednesday a.m. short run
p.m. cycling and core
Thursday master’s swim
Friday a.m. short run followed by Yoga class — I really like the yin yoga so hopefully it will be that.
Saturday long run
Sunday Day off (Higgin’s choice)
I will not be counting my walks with Higgins as “workouts”

I think this is going to be a great plan to get ready for the LA Marathon in March. WHEN I complete the marathon, then and only then can I sign up for my next event (which I would love to be the rock the ridge 50 miler). My new rule is I don’t get to sign up for any events until I have successfully completed the current one. And if I miss the deadline, too bad. I have several ideas for my next big event but not until I finish this marathon in March.

The biggest difference between this marathon and my first is I’m not scared. I was really scared back in 2005. It’s funny to look back on those fears. Why? So what if you didn’t finish? It all comes down to being afraid to be embarrassed. AKA Ego. My fear of failing was so great that it spurred me on. I don’t have a fear of failing any more. I am intimate with failing. I’ve failed all over the place. And I know I’ll fail again but I’m okay with that as long as it was while giving the best I had to give. (Sounds like a Hallmark card, I know). Just find some dignity. Had I not set out to try, I would have missed out on seeing a lot of places and meeeting a lot of interesting people from around the world. I know that I actually like the feeling of pushing myself and completing the training whether or not I complete the race. Insert as many platitudes as you wish here.

Ten years later I’m still here. Still signing up for events (events not races). When my cycling coach asked me how old I was my first reaction was “that shouldn’t matter.” He said “but it does, we have to take it into consideration.” So I said “a very determined 55, but it shouldn’t matter.” Then he asked “when did you do your last ultra event?” I had to think about that one. Sure the Grand to Grand would technically be the one a year ago September. But moving from NYC to CT? That was an ultra event. Helping my parents transition? That was an ultra event. Thyroid cancer? That was an ultra. Maybe that’s why I’m not scared of the Marathon anymore. It just isn’t that big of an event. Sure my legs will be killing me and my lungs will be burning and I probably won’t be able to walk for 3 days, but as long as I finish with my ego in check, I’ll consider it a victory. Ha, that sounds like a cop-out. I’ll just train harder and let my ego take a beating like the rest of me! It needs a workout too!



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