becoming infinite

always learning. always growing. always lifting heavy things.


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my first DNF, and why it was worth it.

i’m still in my race gear, minus my sneakers and bib. i wanted to get this all down before i lose my nerve or get distracted.

this morning was the bluegrass 10,000. it’s a big local race, been going on for decades. i was a seeded runner – fancy – and had been training since taking a week off after the derby half. my training schedule was lighter than for the derby, since my legs had been feeling pretty beat up, and even then i didn’t feel any pressure to stick to it too religiously. i was just running and having fun.

i’m going to skip ahead to this morning. the race started at 7:30. it was drizzling, moving quickly towards steady rain. not cold, just wet. the gun – this obnoxious ‘murrica-style rifle that was completely unnecessary – went off and so did we. i was shooting for a 45:00ish finish, so about 7:25 pace. my first mile was 7:12.

i never got a second mile split.

we got through the first loop and were coming down vine street, and where it veered left to become main street…i veered right, clicked off my garmin, and walked the half mile to my car.

just like that, i decided i wasn’t going to finish. 35$ and ten weeks of training. and for what reason?

i wasn’t having fun.

not just that – i was fucking miserable.

now, i know that there are athletic purists out there who are sitting, reading this and thinking smugly, “well she’s not a real athlete. a real runner would have pushed through the pain.” so let me clarify something for you all: i didn’t stop because of my legs; they felt fine. i didn’t stop because it was hard; let’s recall that i ran a 7:51-pace half marathon ten weeks ago. i stopped because, quite frankly, i race for the fun of it. and when it stops being fun, it’s no longer worth it to me.

i’m a type A perfectionist. i don’t quit things, as a general rule. so i knew that, when i found myself jogging off the course and felt not the slightest bit of regret or uncertainty, that it was the right move for me at that moment.

i could easily tick off a laundry list of reasons why i “didn’t feel like” running: it was raining, my stomach didn’t feel well (thanks, uterus/ovaries), my mind has been all over the place with grandma’s passing and my pending trip home, etc. etc.. but honestly, that’s all irrelevant. i stopped – i DNFed my first race – for the very simple reason that this thing that i love was suddenly not making me happy. and life is too damn short for that.

so yes, i could sit here and think, “i’m a quitter.” or i could sit back and reflect on the fact that, for the first time in my adult life, i am learning to listen to my heart. could i have pushed through it and run the entire race? of course. would i have been miserable for the entire time? it’s possible, sure. would that have been the worst thing ever? no, not at all. but when i take a look at why i run, and why i race…i run because it heals me; i race because it’s fun. the running part is not always fun – speedwork sucks, long runs wipe out half of your day, there are blisters and sore muscles and black-toe to contend with. but that’s just part of the package, and it’s a part i don’t mind very much at all.

for me, racing has always been fun. i love the energy, i love the anticipation and the excitement. i love training for a goal. but when it is no longer fun…for me, it’s lost it’s purpose in my life.

today i learned a really great lesson. on a day that’s all about freedom, i realized that i am, and have always been, free to decide when enough is enough. i’m sure i’ll race again, maybe in the near future, who knows. and i’ll probably go for a run tomorrow. but today, it didn’t feel right. and that’s okay.

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recap and precap.

in a nutshell: my grandmother passed away on friday and i have had zero interest in the internet machine. on thursday i wrote her what i knew was going to be the last letter i would ever send. i mailed it to her, but also emailed it to my uncle, who read it to her that night, because we were pretty sure she wouldn’t make it until it arrived on saturday.

we were correct.

i have cried so much since thursday that my eyelashes have been falling out.

my uncle asked if i would speak at the funeral, which is next friday.

i’m driving home on tuesday.

i have a race tomorrow and it’s supposed to be a complete washout but i don’t care. i’ll run in a monsoon. i need to just lace up and go.

i’ll be back, and i might even write something coherent and possibly witty or thought-provoking. but right now i’m going to cry some more of my eyelashes out as i head to bed for my early race-time tomorrow.


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a tale of two loyalties (and why i can’t choose just yet).

this has been brewing for about a week and it’s been driving me crazy to not write about it – but i wanted to make sure it was a go before i got all excited and things.

if you’ve been here for a while, you know that since my surgery i’ve gotten more and more into strength training and lifting. since, ya know, i couldn’t run. (or walk.) and now that running has been safely integrated back into my life for the past six months, i’ve had a really hard time reconciling two very different training styles and goals.

running has been incredibly important to me, especially since my mom died. it’s how i work through sadness, grief, confusion, general malaise…it has, in many ways, been a lifesaver.

lifting, on the other hand, has been this crazy fun journey. every morning i feel like i’m going to the playground – what can i add to my plan? can i go up in weight or reps? how am i going to get stronger today?

i started out barely able to bench an open bar; yesterday i pressed three singles at 105# comfortably. in november or so i deadlifted for the first time, at 65# – the bar and a 10# bumper plate on each side; last week i pulled 225#, albeit with the ugliest lockout in the world. i love conquering new things, new weights; i love seeing the growth and feeling strong and powerful.

one of my favorite parts of running is the actual training leading up to – my ultimate favorite – race day. i love getting to the start line and knowing that, at the end of the day, you’re competing with nobody but yourself and your PRs. and i love racing – the adrenaline, the high, the accomplishment, even the shitty finish line photos.

and i’ve started thinking – what about lifting? how freaking awesome would i be to get out there and compete in a powerlifting competition?

answer: pretty damn awesome, i’m sure. problem? (a) i have no clue if i’m doing this shit correctly; (b) my squat, ever since surgery, is beyond abyssmal; and (c) i wouldn’t have the first idea about how to go about actually competing.

which led me to my friend google. which led me to this guy. which led to a verbose and awkward email on my part, followed by a meet-and-greet this past monday. we talked all about my athletic history, my surgery, my goals. i told him i want to compete; we agreed to meet today.

he asked what i was concerned about; i answered that 156% that would be my squat. so of course, today we would squat.

in case i haven’t bitched about it sufficiently, my squat is a measly 130#. like, that’s my 1RM. poop on a stick. justin told me we would triple that today. i laughed.

i tripled 135# three times.

we worked out two kinks right away – bar placement (moved it down a smidge) and driving my knees out. i always thought i did, but when he told me to exaggerate it, 115# flew up like air. and then…135# happened.

we did a ton of hamstring and glute work and i’m not going to be able to walk tomorrow. but i couldn’t care less because i am THAT excited over my squats.

there’s a powerlifting meet in lexington on october 12th. and i want in. badly.

i love running, and i love racing…but i want to try this, i feel almost as though i need to. it’s not going to be cheap, by any means – running is about the cheapest damn sport you can find. powerlifting, not so much. but i’m frugal to a fault and have a nice nest egg built up. i’m okay with chipping into it a bit, and picking up as many extra classes as possible at the gym this summer.

i don’t know quite how to articulate it, but this is something that i want so badly to try out. maybe i’ll hate it and never want to do another one, in which case – it was an experience, and no harm no foul.

but maybe – and i feel like this is much more likely – maybe i’ll love it.

you can’t pass up an opportunity to try something you might love.


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all my excites; all my grumps.

i’m writing this post while sitting in barnes and noble. on friday afternoon. so yes, it’s queued. more on that later.

all my excites!

  • the semester is over!! i had a great semester, really – fantastic students, good coursework that wasn’t too extremely difficult, and i learned a lot about various things (teaching, research, academic bureaucracy).
  • it’s summer!! which means lots of things for me, all of which give me excites:
    • it’s the summer of the symphony. i have 18 months until quals, and this summer is dedicated in part to learning the major symphonies. all of beethoven, the major mozart and haydns, brahms, MAHLER!!, sibelius, dvorak, stravinsky, tchaik, prokofiev…score study and listening, come at me!
    • i just bought a cookbook on clearance for 2 dollars. i’m going to continue to not eat PB&J every day, guys!
    • revamped training and programming, which i talked about earlier this week. i made a training plan for the bluegrass 10,000 which is relatively low volume (max 23 miles/week) and has 800s instead of mile repeats. i’m also adding in hill repeats once a week, either after tempo runs or in place of them haha. since we know how i feel about tempo runs! i’m also committing to metcons twice a week, volume lifts over maxes, and all in all getting pumped to shock the system and do work!
    • sun sun sun i cannot wait for sun!! (yes i wear sunscreen. i have 3 gnarly scars from a melanoma/pre-melanoma issue several years back. but still…vitamin d!!)
  • i have a hair appointment in an hour. i love my hairdresser.

all my grumps!

  • i submitted a request to windstream to get interwebs. on april 20th. “we’ll be in contact in 48 hours,” they sez. “if you don’t hear from us, call us,” they sez. two days go by and so i call. “you submitted your request on a saturday,” they sez. “you have to give us 48 hours of WEEKDAY hours,” they sez. “call back wednesday,” they sez. wednesday i call. “the soonest we can get somebody there is may 3rd,” they sez. i huff but agree. today (may 3rd) i call in the morning, juuuust to be sure. “oh we had to cancel that,” they sez. “WERE YOU GOING TO TELL ME?!” i sez. “…” they sez.
  • the regional manager was supposed to call me to give me an ETA on my interwebs. it’s 5pm on friday and i have gotten no call. i’ll go ahead and assume i won’t hear anything until monday, and only then if i’m extremely lucky. until then…web-less.
  • i’m working on regaining flexibility (boo, surgery) and the last couples of degrees of flexion in my knee. the joint isn’t stopping me; it’s my damn gastroc head that keeps seizing. so every morning after i finish lifting, i’ve been forcing my sorry self to sit on my heels for 1-3 minutes. it sucks. but it’s starting to suck less. but i’m super sore for the rest of the day. ::grump, grump::
  • my credit card bill is going to be out of control this month due to this godforsaken surprise move across town. like…out of control. plus my tuition bill just hit (yes, in the last week of the semester. go cats.) granted i’ve got full funding so i only pay a couple of hundred every semester for mandatory fees and things…but it’s a couple hundred on top of all the shit necessities i got for my new place.

now i’m going to go purchase my 2$ cookbook and chat up the guys at complete nutrition, which is right next door to my salon. because it’s the first friday of summer and that’s how i roll.


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one year off the table: a surgery no-love story.

today is my surgery-versary. one year ago at this moment, i was sitting (okay, laying) in pre-op, getting teased by the nurses about my black toe and blisters while my advisor sat in the corner of the room laughing.

she reminded yesterday about something i had forgotten: the day before my surgery she asked me who was taking me there, and i said, ‘eh nobody, i’ll walk.’ …’and how are you getting back?’ ‘i’ll call a cab.’ to which she responded that, no, absolutely not, she would bring me. and bring me she did. and stayed until i went into surgery, during which time she went back to my apartment and stocked my fridge. she was there when i came out of anesthesia, brought me home, and got me subway for lunch.

the first eight weeks after surgery were, for all intents and purposes, an absolute disaster. nerve block disaster, an unresponsive quad, and my personal un-favorite, the muscle spasm from hell. not to mention, of course, the mysterious way the nerve block didn’t flush out of my muscles, the ridiculous muscle atrophy, the 30-lb weight loss and subsequent chicken leg.

i slowly learned how to sort of walk. and how to sort of go up and down stairs. it took until almost september for me to fully straighten my leg when walking; until october for there to not be a noticeable gait difference.

in november i ran a 5k in 22:07.

that month i also started deadlifting and squatting regularly.

i ran over 100 miles in december.

i worked like a dog. not that working out was foreign to me to begin with, but it took on a whole new meaning. i became focused – fiercely focused – on getting stronger.

in march i pulled a 200# deadlift.

and just last weekend i ran a half marathon. in 1:42:54. a damn respectable time. in the top 2.5% of the 6600 female finishers.

this year has taught me a lot about patience. about listening to my body, and knowing when to push and when to back off. it’s taught me that sometimes working harder isn’t necessarily working smarter – bodies need a break every now and again.

my weight is right back to where it was pre-op. although, my body looks completely different – i’ve never had traps and shoulders like this before, that’s for sure! my quads and calves are still slightly different in size, but it’s hardly noticeable. my squat may still be abyssmal, but all in all i’m stronger than ever.

and i appreciate everything this body does, much more than ever.

so a very happy surgery-versary to me! thanks, Knee, for teaching me some important lessons while you were being a turd.


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short circuit.

as usual, i have three partially-written posts in my drafts and no energy or mental capacity to finish any of them right now, because they’re all relatively thought-provoking and emotion-laden.

instead, let’s talk about the fun stuff: training and running!!

i took my first post-race run yesterday, and it felt glorious. legs were a bit heavy – i had also done some light squats and deadlifts the day before though – and i kept it to 3 miles, easy pace. i was so glad to get out there again. and having trained for the derby forcing myself to calm down and run slower, and then smoking the race proper, i have much more trust in that training style now. i’ll spend the summer being okay with being slower on those easy days!

i’ve taken pretty much this entire week easy, training-wise. no big lifts; mostly high volume stuff.

and then last night i thought, “i want to do something different!” i only had an hour at the gym this morning because i was proctoring an exam for a colleague, so i had to get creative. which led to…jenn’s foray into a quasi-metcon/circuit.

Circuit A (3 rounds, 2:00 rest between rounds):
–> 15 wall balls (16# ball)
–> 10 burpees
–> 10 box jumps (18″ box)
–> 1:00 plank (with 10# plate on back)

Circuit B (3 rounds, 2:00 rest between rounds):
–> 65# front squat (10 reps)
–> 65# barbell row (10 reps)
–> 40# strict overhead press (10 reps)
–> parallel-grip pull-ups (3 reps)

thoughts upon completion: i’m obsessed. i love this kind of stuff and need to do it more frequently. the first circuit was mostly cardio and hip drive/leg power (with the wall balls and box jumps). i’ve never done box jumps before – like, ever – and i’m duly surprised i didn’t faceplant at least once.

the second circuit was barbell movement-focused. the OHPs were supposed to be clean and presses, but i was arching my lower back a ton so i just made them into OHPs, and they felt super light. so next time if i do this i’ll just stay in the squat rack, pull the plates off the bar i use for the other two, and OHP an open bar.

i did high-incline ‘mill walking for 5 minutes before and after, and the whole thing took me about 45 minutes. i was wiped out and sweating like crazy.

this summer i’m going to revamp my training a bit. i want to focus more on high-rep, hypertrophy-type lifting (with some max days thrown in because…max days) and developing more power. i’m strong, just not very explosive. hence the box jumps today. also incorporating hill sprints once a week and 800s should helps develop some hip drive and more explosive legs.

i’m going to run some shorter races this summer – a 10k in july here in lexington, and maybe a 5k or two. i’d like to still keep a long run day, but it’ll probably be a 10-mile max.

anyone have any other suggestions? favorite circuits or exercises you might throw into a circuit?

ETA: also, here are some gems from saturday’s race. i updated my racing page and included one, but the best shots will be below…

KDF 1

exhibit a: finish line. i almost don’t look like i’m about to puke. almost.

KDF 2

exhibit b: ca we just look at the dude in front of me for a hot second?! there are no fewer than a dozen finish line shots where he completely blocked my face/body because he threw his arms up as he crossed the line. what we see here is immediately post-arm-throw. so while i’m flailing int he background…he looks like an irish step dancer.

KDF 3

exhibit c: and finally…i am a short person. however, when the camera manages to catch me JUST as i’m rebounding from the pavement, i instantaneously shrink another 6 inches, rendering me the spitting image of a weeble. a weeble in pink sneakers, with a sickled back foot.


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derby half marathon: what went down.

we all know i was going into the race with a moderate goal of a 1:50:00 finishing time. i also was REALLY sticking to my guns about not going out too fast. the course is relatively flat, but the only hills come in the last four miles. the first three miles are net downhill, in fact. but i made the mistake of running a sub-23:00 for my first 5k split last year, and that did NOT bode well for the next 10 miles.

i had been placed in the A corral due to my time last year, and i hung out waaaay in the back. the gun went off and i trotted out nice and easy. my legs felt really good, and the pace felt super comfortable. i guess-timated i was running a mid-8:00; when i looked down at my garmin i was really surprised to see a 7:58 looking back at me.

i kept chatting with myself to keep it easy…but my pace felt really comfortable, and my HR was nowhere near alarmingly high, so i just kind of rolled along. miles 2, 3, 4, and 5 passed in 7:49, 7:45, 7:46, and 7:43. it was perfect running weather, and for the first race in my life i wasn’t trying to “beat” anyone. i barely noticed the people around me, in fact.

at the beginning of mile 6 i walked a water stopped and shoved 2 juju fish in my face lol. chewing and running is a bit of a struggle, and it took a bit to get back into my rhythm, but that mile clicked by in 7:57. miles 7 and 8 were both sub-8:00, as well.

it was about here that i thought – “holy crap, i might run this in 1:45:00!” my legs felt great; my fueling plan was working out (i also walked a water stop during mile 8). we got to chruchill downs right at the start of mile 9 (great scenery; nothing like the smell of horse poop to get you moving!).

i literally almost cheered out loud at the beginning of mile 10 because we were finally in double digits and i still felt awesome. the last couple of miles on the course are where the uphills generally exist. i started mile 10 with a little bit of a kick, which i started to regret about halfway through that mile. i started to fight a little bit around mile 11, and that was my first (and only!) super-8:00 mile, at 8:02.

i inhaled an orange slice at the beginning of mile 12, and from there on out it was just all out. i hit the mile 12 marker and realized that i was not only going to run sub-1:45:00, but i was going to come damn close to my time from last year.

my last 2 splits were 7:49 and 7:50, and a 6:28 pace for the final tenth haul.

i clocked 1:42:54. just 2 seconds slower than last year – with a surgery, rehab, and a 30-pound weight rebound in the middle. i have never had runner’s high like that before.

i have never run such a smart race before, either. i took 30+ seconds off my mile time from the railrunner early last month. my splits were unbelievably even, and only slightly positive. (contrast to last year, when i was about as positively-split as i could get).

my feet fared well – only one teeny blister – and my knee was only minimally stiff yesterday. today my legs were a bit stiff and sore, so i made today shoulders and back instead of squats and deadlifts.

i have other stories to tell from the race – one in particular from while i was in churchill downs – and other things to talk about. but i wanted to right about the race while it was in my mind, and because i’ve spent the past four months boring you all with my training!

hope you all had a splendid weekend!  : )