Small Victories

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Published on: December 28, 2008

This Christmas, I received a bracelet (because – as previously mentioned – I’ve been a good girl this year!).  A bracelet that has this saying engraved on it:  Celebrate Small Victories.

And it occurred to me that this wasn’t a bad way to go about things.

Many of us have the big dreams, the over-the-top goals, the grand schemes sitting out there.  And that’s not a bad thing — everyone needs something to shoot at.  But perhaps berate ourselves for not making it to those goals, or from falling by the wayside so often that it seems like we’re headed in the wrong direction. Sometimes we’re just too hard on ourselves.

I find that I do this to myself all the time.  I can’t even count how many times the “I’m going to lose 10 pounds” gets derailed because I have a bad meal … and then a bad meal turns into a bad day… and bad weeek… and bad month…. you get the picture (I know it’s gotten out of hand when the pizza people know my number and greet me by name).  It’s so easy to think that the end goal is unattainable because I’ve already messed up really badly – that there’s no recovery.

Instead, maybe it’s time I celebrate the small victories rather than allowing the small failures to steamroll.

For example, my current pie-in-the-sky goal is overhauling my body — trim down, lean up, gain muscle tone. That’s still a lot of hard work away, though.  But, while I’m moving towards that goal, I can revel in my small victories — training when I’m tired and unmotivated, drinking just one beer instead of five, doing those nasty core exercises even though I think they’re the handiwork of the devil.  There are dozens of decisions that I can make each day that if I have the right mindset, are all small victories.  Steps leading me in the right direction to what I want to achieve.

And when you think about it, once you start piling up the small victories, the larger victories start falling into place, right?  One training session, a good nutrition choice instead of a bad one, an extra set of crunches… that all adds up.  I mean, victory is a self-affirming kind of thing… once you get the taste of it, you just want more.

Small victories.  Little steps.  If I can keep the focus on “what next?” then the rest doesn’t seem quite so overwhelming.  And not only that, but I have to celebrate these victories.  Give a little “WHOOP!” or do a little victory dance.  At least smile a little, acknowledge that I am truly “da bomb” (side note: I actually had a colleague call me that once, so that one’s totally true).

So, that’s what I’m going to try.  While my mind’s eye keeps the end goal in sight, my main focus goes towards each decision.  And focusing on making each decision a small victory.  And celebrating each one and using it as a building block to my next small victory.

Just promise you won’t laugh too much if you catch me victory break-dancing.

Merry Christmas!

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Published on: December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas to everyone (or everyone who reads this… so, Merry Christmas, you two!).

Here’s wishing you everything you want on Christmas, whether it’s a 5k PR, or a slice of si:)lence amidst the chaos, or even that Mother Nature cooperates and lets us all get to and from wherever we’re going without cursing the condition of the roads.

Have a wonderful holiday!  And – my personal wish to you – have a cookie!  The calories don’t count on Christmas.

 

Newflash!

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Published on: December 22, 2008

It’s (officially) winter here!

It wasn’t official a few days ago (though you might not have known it), but now it’s come around, full force.

First, a little snow.  Then a LOT of snow.  Blizzard!  Then ice.  And sleet.  And freezing rain.  And MORE snow.

After that, came the arctic freeze.  The wind chill advisories.  The “DON’T GO OUTSIDE UNLESS IT’S AN EMERGENCY!” blaring in all capital letters across the TV screen.

And what does this mean to me?

This means that the regrets, the doubts, the recriminations about not doing the marathon – POOF! – gone in an instant.  Every weekend that passes without me having to do a long run just reinforces the feeling.

I looked outside at the 30mph winds and the -27* wind chill and was nothing but oh-so-happy that I was snuggled up inside by the fire rather than either freezing my butt off on the roads or wanting to shoot myself in the head from the boredom of a long run on the treadmill.

See?  For all those that ever wondered, everything DOES happen for a reason.

Happy holidays to everyone!  And – go have a cookie.  Santa said it’s all right.

Bring on the cookies!

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Published on: December 16, 2008

Yes, I’ve made my decision:  no marathon.  At least not this January and not in Phoenix.  So, let the off-season begin!

Despite being relieved with the decision — it certainly is much easier to not be doing the marathon — I still have some mixed feelings about it.  What it comes down to is that there’s a part of me that feels like I’m quitting, just giving up.  

I’m not injured.

My schedule isn’t so hectic that I can’t fit the long runs in.

The weather – while nasty at times – isn’t bad enough to keep me from running.

So, what’s the problem?

Basically it came down to two things:  me not wanting to go out there by myself, and my exceptionally well-developed sense of laziness kicking in.  Neither of which should have stopped me.

But they did.  But like a wise friend told me, it is what it is.  I’ll let go of this, and move on to bigger, better, more exciting things.  As the long run weekends go by without me actually DOING the long runs, I suspect that this whole thing will get easier.  My laziness gene loves being satiated.

See, one thing I learned this past summer is that while I kind of fell into this solitary sport of running/triathlon, I’m really much happier doing these sorts of things with people.  Which is why I love playing team sports like softball, or even competitive sports against someone else, like racquetball.  Just more fun to share the experience.  So, it occurred to me that when I made the commitment to run the marathon, maybe I wasn’t commiting to the distance as much as commiting to the trip, and to the people I was going with.  Another very wise friend told me that a marathon isn’t something you do half-assed, it’s something you have to dedicate yourself to (I have a lot of very wise friends!) — and now that a big piece of what was motivating me was gone, the dedication I would need to carry me through the training and race wasn’t really there.  And if nothing else, it provides logical rationale so that I don’t feel quite as guilty being lazy.

Which is not to say that I won’t ever attempt this distance again. Even though my motivation – having others around to laugh, joke and commiserate with – isn’t necessarily the same as what gets other people moving, it still works for me.  Sometimes I think it makes me sound needy or desperate for company, but – again – it is what it is.  From the beginning, even with the triathloning and running I’ve always tried to bring other people into it (just ask my poor friends who I constantly drag into my half-baked race schemes).  That’s always been my plan of action.  More people = more fun.  Just call me Ms. Social Butterfly.  Or something like that.

So, for my next marathon, I’ve got some ideas.  Perhaps my “2009 – The Year Of Not Racing!” might have one exception.  Perhaps.  I’m going to leave the door open and see how I feel about it later on.

But until then:  bring on the cookies!  The holidays have started, and there’s nothing like an off-season to celebrate them with.

Going the distance?

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Published on: December 11, 2008

So.

I’ve got this January marathon on the schedule.  Hyped it up as kind of my last “Hurrah!” before strolling into the triathlon/racing sunset for the 2009 season.  A fun day-in-the-sun trip to warm weather Phoenix with some friends, pounding out the 26.2 miles to finally say that I’ve conquered this distance.  

Up to this point, the training has been going along okay, at least.  To be fair, though, I hadn’t yet hit the “REALLY LONG” long runs.  I had worked up to 16 miles, but still had 18, 20 and the mother of all long runs — the 22-miler — ahead of me.  In the back of my mind, I knew these runs were out there on my schedule, and I was nervous about them – almost dreading them.  But also knew that as awful as they might be, I would complete them with a certain sense of accomplishment.  “What did you do this weekend?”  “Oh, I just ran 22 miles in the snow and cold.”  I mean – how awesome would that conversation be?  (and yes, I understand that I’m a little bit warped)

But now, due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, I’m the only one from the group that’s still able to head out to Phoenix to run.  So, the question:  do I forge ahead on my own and run the marathon, or do I abandon the challenge and start my off-season, effective immediately, celebrating with holiday cookies and eggnog?

I’ve got to admit, from the beginning I wasn’t completely stoked about doing a marathon.  For whatever reason, when a run goes longer than 12 or 13 miles, I start hating it.  The length of it, the pain of it, the boredom of it, the difficulty of it.  It’s HARD!  And as I mentioned, I was dreading the idea of the long runs — and while the run is time-consuming, there’s so much more to it:   not only is it the 3+ hours spent on your feet, but it’s eating right the day before, getting enough sleep, getting the nutrtion right, mapping out a route and then time afterwards recovering — recovery meal, ice bath (one of the finer pleasures in life – try it sometime!), post recovery meal snack, shower and clean up, additional post recovery snack, and then the most important recovery task of all… the NAP.  One long run can legitimately tie up an entire day (or weekend!) by the time all is said and done.

And then there’s the doing this all on my own.  Now, being single I’ve done a fair amount of traveling by myself, and it has it’s pros and cons.  For certain trips, I don’t mind it at all (and actually prefer it!), other trips, I really enjoy having someone to travel with.  And where do races fall in this spectrum?  In my mind, that’s definitely more of a group event.  What’s the fun of going to someplace new and exciting, racing 26.2 and then not having anyone to dissect the post race party with afterwards?  Not having someone to agonize with the night before over which restaurant will serve the best (and blandest!) carbs?  Or missing out by having to wait in the pre-race port-a-potty lines all by your lonesome (or – I suppose – with 30,000 of your new best friends…).  While I’ll socialize with people along the way – I’m pretty friendly and chit-chatty when I’m on my own like that – it’s just not quite the same, either.

All that said, there’s still a part of me that wants to chase this marathon.  Sure, the toughest part of the training is still ahead of me, but that doesn’t mean that what I’ve done up until now has been easy.  With the exception of needing to drop a little holiday poundage (yes! already!), this is about as good a time as any for me to be training for this.  Life has slowed down enough that I’ve got time in my schedule to get everything in, and it serves the purpose of keeping me focused throughout the holidays.  And anyway, I’d hate to throw away all the work I’ve already done!  It’s not like I can come back to this at some later date and start where I left off.

I really want to be done with this distance – but “done” meaning that I’ve run a successful marathon.  I’ve done two previously, and both were disasters:  the first was 16 miles that weren’t so bad and then 10 miles of running port-a-potty to port-a-potty (try squatting when you’ve already got 20 miles on your legs!) and the second was the infamous 2007 Chicago Marathon — the one that was cancelled due to the heat (when I was at mile 22) and declared a “Fun Run” instead.  (“Fun”??  I think not!).  So, I’ve got some revenge to take on this distance.  I want to do it one more time, and I want it to be done right, to be able to consider it a success.  And this isn’t completely measured in finish time, either — it’s being able to go the 26.2 miles and finish knowing that I gave it my best shot, that my best effort was left there on the course.

It’s funny, I read what I’ve already wrote and if I were looking in from the outside, I’d say there’s a very clear case for giving in to the relief of just having it be over with now — and a relief it would certainly be! And yet…  I just can’t seem to quite let go of it, which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to the rational, non-crazy, why the hell would anyone want to run 26.2 miles side of my brain.

So, here’s my tentative plan:  this weekend I’ve got my 18 mile run.  Perhaps I’ll suit up for it and that’ll make my decision for me.  If it’s agony from start to finish?  Bring on the cookies!  If it goes well?  Then I’ll put the decision on hold until the 20 mile run.  And then rinse and repeat until I’m either stuffing my face with pumpkin pie or toeing the line in Phoenix.  Sound like a plan?

 

My Christmas List

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Published on: December 4, 2008

For those of you who want to start shopping for your friendly, neighborhood blogger, here are some ideas to get you started:

What I Want For Christmas… The Top 10 List…

  1. The ability to shut my inner voice off during long runs.  If I have to hear that whiny “… but I don’t WANT to…” with every step after 12 miles, I’m going to hurt someone.
  2. A new bike.  One that makes me FAST.  You know, without me having to work at it.
  3. A new season of Dancing With The Stars!  Okay, I’ve said it… I’ve outted myself… I LOVE this show. Drama! Injuries! Dancing! Sequins! All rolled into one big Tom Bergeron wisecrack lovefest.
  4. Unlimited vacation time.  But not in a got-fired-for-spending-too-much-time-online kind of way. Mucho vacation time + weekly paycheck = what I want.
  5. Ice cream.  In some ways, I’m so easy to please.
  6. A high-powered metabolism to match my extraordinary appetite, so that “off-season weight” just means that I’m strength training through the winter.
  7. A love for swimming.  No matter how hard I try, I’ve only been able to muster an “eh, it’s fine as long as it’s warm outside and I’m floating around with a drink in my hand” kind of liking for it.
  8. Warm weather.  ‘Nuf said.
  9. An iPod with psychic ability.  Volume up!  Next song!  Play only this artist!  All done with the power of my mind.  I mean, really – how cool would that be?  Steve Jobs?  Did you hear me?  No?  Let me think a little harder then…
  10. World peace.  Too much to ask for?
So, in the event that you want to make my day and get me something from my list, I can assure that I’ve been a very good girl.  In fact, the rumor going around is that I’ve cracked the top 10 on Santa’s Nice List every year since 1977 (of course, that’s all very highly-guarded information, so I can’t reveal my sources).  Go on, now – get shopping.  You know you want to.
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