25 Random Things About Me, Sports Edition

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Published on: February 17, 2009

Inspired by the 25 Random Things lists on Facebook, I finding myself itching to write more.  As it turns out, my mind works in spurts of random, unrelated thoughts.  Is that good?  Hmmm.  Not so sure about that one. Without further ado, 25 Random Things About Me, the SPORTS Edition!

  1. When I run, I always have to be on the right side, and I run so FAR to the right (even when I’m by myself) that I’ll oftetimes fall off the sidewalk.  Just like Shel Silverstein, it’s all about where the sidewalk ends.
  2. One of my favorite sounds in the world is the “BEEEEEEEEP!” that emits when a timing chip crosses a timing mat.
  3. I grew up always playing infield in softball — couldn’t judge a fly ball to save my life.  And then, after being shoved into the outfield, I have now fallen in love with it.  Every fly ball is an adventure!
  4. Until the end of high school, I played a LOT of tennis.  Since then, I’ve played a total of about 3 times. I really miss it!  And racquetball is a decent substitute (and fun in it’s own right), but not the same.
  5. When I was 12, I won the MVP award for a softball tournament because of a leaping grab of a line drive up the middle, which also allowed me to double off the runner on first.  My one time in the spotlight!  I was even written up in the local newspaper.  Want my autograph?
  6. I have fallen off my bike rollers while working out, but I haven’t (yet!) fallen off the bike trainer (almost, though it was the dog’s fault).
  7. My favorite jersey number has always been #5.  And I have no real reason for that, other than at some point in my early childhood I decided it was my lucky number.
  8. I’m one of those “not a pure runner” type of runners who’s very happy that the USATF reversed it’s decision on the use of headphones during races.  So, while I will oftentimes not even have it turned on (or the volume so low I can’t even hear it), I like having the OPTION of being able to listen to my iPod while mercilessly pounding myself into the ground during a race.
  9. BUT – I much prefer having someone to talk to rather than listening to music.  
  10. Another BUT – sometimes I’ll both talk and listen to music.  I’m talented that way.
  11. I gave up basketball in high school when I finally came to the realization that I was short, and probably not getting any taller.
  12. I quit playing softball altogether for about 6 years before I started playing recreational softball.  And I started back in the sport due to serendipity:  a colleague’s wife was trying to reach him in his office, and when she couldn’t, she hit # to get to the operator.  Both the main operator and the second operator in the office weren’t answering, so I picked up.  I told her that her husband wasn’t around, and with no other preliminary conversation (and I had never spoken with her before!), she asked, “Do you play softball and can you play at 6:30 tonight?”  And that’s how I started playing again. 
  13. Way back in time, I used to be very proud of the fact that I practically never sweat when playing sports. And now – my body is paying me back – double.  The older I get, the more it pours out of me.  And you know what? Now I love the fact that a 30 minute run will leave me drenched … it’s almost as though I judge the efficacy of a workout by how much I’m dripping by the end of it.  I know – ewww.
  14. Cold, rain, whatever – I can take it.  The wind?  I hate it.  HATE IT.  And I think I live in one of the windiest places on earth.
  15. During my first triathlon, I panicked in the water.  Like, needed lifeguard assistance panicked in the water.  Just as an FYI – it’s very difficult to swim and hyperventilate all at the same time.
  16. Three years later, I did my first Half Ironman.  Shocking the heck out of me was the realization that the swim was the best, most relaxed part of my day.
  17. My ideal vacations usually involve a race of some sort.  And if they don’t, they almost involve more hiking/camping/backpacking than most people find palatable.
  18. I not only love playing just about any sport, I’ll also watch just about any sport on TV.  And I’m also one of those rare chicks who actually enjoys watching ESPN SportsCenter.
  19. I have to admit, I’m a techno-freak.  I love the Garmin, iPod, HR monitor, CompuTrainer… all of it. Sometimes I don’t know what to do with all the information, but it feels so productive to gather it and try to analyze it anyway.
  20. I bowled a perfect 300 game this past October.  During league play and everything, so I get all the accoutraments that come along with the accomplishment:  jacket, pin, patch, ring.  I still feel like it was a bit of a fluke, though.
  21. When I run and listen to music that was recorded live, I pretend that the crowds are cheering for me.
  22. I love my truck for the weekend racing/training trips, though the back end squeaks a bunch now… which just might be a result of the Dukes of Hazzard-like way I took a set of rough train tracks on the way up to Wisconsin last summer (and my first worry after vaulting those tracks was to see if the bikes were still hanging on the bike rack!).
  23. I’m not sure that I ever want to actually DO an Ironman, but I know that I want to be able to SAY that I did an Ironman.
  24. I’ve never been skiing, but would like to learn (actually, snowboarding sounds like fun, too).  I *am* a little freaked out about the real possibility of breaking a bone, though.
  25. And speaking of which… I broke my arm (ulna and radius) in 2003 while playing softball.  My family’s first reaction?  They were surprised it took me so long to end up in the hospital with something broken.
So, I guess that’s my 25!  There’s more (there’s ALWAYS more!), but this is probably more than anyone wants to know anyway!  Anything anyone wants to add??  


You are getting veeery sleeeepy…

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Published on: February 10, 2009

Yes, hypnosis.  All a bunch of hocus pocus?  Or are there real-life results to be gained from it?  That’s what I was there to find out.  I’ve been oh-so-curious about giving it a try.  I mean, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned throughout these last couple of months of diligently forging a healthier lifestyle, it’s that the mind is the driving force behind it all.  (And plus, I had a coupon!)

Think about it:  every moment of every day your mind is navigating you through the world without even so much as a conscious thought.  Things like driving and walking and talking are so automatic that you don’t need to think about them – they just happen.  Wouldn’t it be nice if eating healthy required as little thought as these other actions?  I’m sure it’s going to happen, but someday I won’t even be interested in seeing a dessert menu. Right?  Right??!

So last night was the big night.  This was my first time meeting the therapist, and we spent about 30 minutes before the session exchanging ideas, with her learning from me what I was hoping to get out of this whole experience and me learning from her what the session would entail.  She put forth a bunch of concepts that I’ve become very familiar with over the past few months, which meant that I was very comfortable with her approach.  Obviously, she’s a huge proponent of the idea of the mind controlling everything we do, and that the mind, much like other things, can be trained to do what we want.  Some of the other ideas she espoused:

  • The difference between “trying” and “doing”.  One involves action, the other doesn’t.  I’m sure you can figure out which one is which.  And which is better.  Git ‘r’ done, ya know?
  • Establishing neural pathways for any behavior that we want to implement.  The example she used: imagine you’re looking out from your front porch to your mailbox and there’s 2 feet of snow on the ground.  Now, that first time when you go get the mail, it’s going to be tough going.  Coming back into the house, though, you’ll take that same pathway and it’ll be a bit easier.  Over the course of a few weeks, as you keep re-using the same trail, the trek becomes all that much easier.  All behaviors are governed by a neural pathway:  establish the path, ingrain it, and it’ll be a habit that you don’t even have to think about.
  • The use of the “I am…” affirmation.  I am a healthy person.  I make healthy choices.  I am lean and strong and enduring.  You get the picture.  And “picture” is the right word – along with that, visualize your goal in as much detail as possible!
  • Self-talk should always be phrased with a positive slant:  instead of “I am not going to eat chocolate!” it should be “I am going to make healthy food choices.”  Stealing an example from a CD I’ve been listening to, it’s like the baseball coach who tells her player:  “Don’t swing at the low, inside pitch because you’ll strike out!” … and what’s the first thing the player will do?  Swing at the low, inside pitch.  Why?  Because the mind oftentimes doesn’t register the nots and the don’ts, all it hears is “swing at the low, inside pitch!”  So, keep a mental eye on how you phrase your goals and self-talk and keep it positive.
  • Set yourself up for success.  In other words, if I’m trying desperately not to eat ice cream, then I probably shouldn’t buy ice cream and have it in the house.  And then – YAY! – I didn’t eat ice cream tonight!  Go, me!  Make it easy as possible to succeed, whether that means cleaning the house of treats, or making plans to meet with a friend to train so you don’t blow off the session.  Each success builds towards the next.

While there was more dialogue about these ideas and others, this is the Cliff Notes summary.  So – then – onto the main event – the hypnosis session.

Improbably, it started with me getting comfortable in a lawn chair, of all things.  Sure, a high end lawn chair, but a lawn chair nonetheless.  I looked at it a bit skeptically, but it turned out to be fall-asleep comfortable, so I kept my snickering and smart-ass comments to a minimum.  We started out by doing a full-body relaxation exercise, from head to foot.  Inexplicably, this was pretty difficult for me — my mind kept thinking “YOU’RE NOT RELAXING ENOUGH!!” (my mind often shouts at me in captial letters) — but by the time she worked me down to my lower body, my mind was starting to cooperate (or submit, depending on what you think goes on during hypnosis!).

Then, there was visualization work:  visualize your perfect place.  What would it look like?  What would it smell like?  Sound like?  Funny thing, the absolute first thing that popped into my head?  Left field on a softball diamond.  That whole scenario seemed a little distracting though, so I went with my next choice … grassy field with a stream bubbling along, and mountains just waiting to be hiked in the background.  Then she had me visualize myself there, and what I would look like, how I would feel, how I would move around in the body that I had created for myself.  The scene itself was a little fuzzy and out of focus to me, but I could totally visualize what I would look and feel like – though this is something I’ve been working on, so that could be why it came more easily.

After that exercise – by which time I was completely relaxed – she slowly took me a little deeper into the hypnotic state (she brought this about by telling me to visualize a book in my hand with 20 pages in it, and as I turned the pages, I would get more and more relaxed and open-minded… and then she started counting DOWN from 20, and I had a moment of panic when I realized I would have to read the book backwards.  I can be such an in-the-box kind of thinker sometimes!).

Once I was there, she began with the positive affirmations and suggestions.  “You will make healthy choices. Fattening and rich food will hold no interest for you.  You are in control of your decisions and will feel full and satisfied after a healthy meal.” … and more along those lines (she was far more eloquent than that, though, I just don’t remember the exact wording).  It was a slightly odd state of being; while I was utterly relaxed, I was also keenly aware of her voice and the suggestions she was making.  At no time did I ever feel sleepy or like I was dozing off, which I almost expected would happen seeing as how I was exhausted going into the session.

Once she had gone through about 15 minutes (or so it seemed) of suggestions, she brought me out of the hypnotic state, by counting up to 5, telling me that I would wake up invigorated, as if I hadn’t even been hypnotized at all.  I have to admit, I was looking forward to “awaking” (as it were) refresehed and re-energized, and that wasn’t quite the case.  Certainly I was relaxed, but I was more ready to go to bed than to take on the world (didn’t help that my left contact was practically welded to my eyeball).  I wonder if my 5.5 hours of sleep the previous night, along with my already 17-hour day had anything to do with it?

So – conclusions.  I’m definitely glad I did it.  Do I think that the suggestions given under hypnosis will “take” and produce real results?  Well, the jury is still out on that, but I don’t think it hurts one bit to have those thoughts kind of floating around my subconsious.  I do feel like now the healthy choice option is more appealing than it was, but that could be as much because I’m more aware of what I’m doing right now, trying to see if the urge to inhale chocolate, ice cream, cookies and pizza has lessened at all.

While this may or may not help in my quest for good food choices to become automatic, I think that there are a lot of areas that it could be put to good, practical use.  For example, it’s definitely something I’ll seriously consider doing before heading into the marathon this fall.  My well-documented struggle with the 26.2 has taught me the lesson that most of it is mental — even though the body is trained, if the mind says, “hell, NO!” then there isn’t a whole lot of success to be attained.  I guess after this whole experience, I’ll put hypnosis into my toolbag – something else to persuade my brain into listening to what I really want.

Of course, if I find myself pecking popcorn off the floor like a chicken, complete with flapping arms due to hypnotic suggestion sometime soon, I might reassess my opinion of the whole process… until then, though, put me in the “cautiously optimistic” group on this one.

I lied.

Categories: race
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Published on: February 1, 2009

So, sue me.  I’m going back on my word.  Wanna know what I did this morning?

I registered for the Chicago Marathon.

Yup, I am going to do one race this season and train for it in the right way, hoping to accomplish what’s been kept out of my reach so far:  my best effort at the marathon distance.

I’m coming back to do Chicago for a number of reasons.  First and foremost, though, is because of the incredible amount of local support – crowds line the streets throughout the entire course, cheering you on whether they know you or not.  And having friends on the sidelines is the best thing ever.  When I did Chicago two years ago, I spent the last 10 miles of the race doing nothing but looking forward to seeing a friendly face to boost my spirit and give me the kick in the butt that I needed to cross the finish line instead of just laying down on the sidewalk and napping.

(Maybe this time even my parents will put their cruise plans on hold for me!  Oh, I’m just kidding.  I would never ask them to rearrange their vacation plans just to be there for me on October 11, 2009.  Their oldest daughter. Their favorite oldest daughter.  No, I wouldn’t do that.  Right, Mom and Dad?  I mean, just because you guys are retired and could vacation ANY TIME you wanted doesn’t mean you have to be home for my marathon on October 11, 2009.  No, really, you don’t.  Really.)

And the second reason: I know everyone’s sick of hearing me talk about how I don’t like to do the long training on my own and since Chicago is not only local but HUGE, there are a ton of different training groups. Not only can I do my long runs with a group, but weekday runs, too, if I so choose.  After doing some research, I think I’m probably going to join up with Illinois Runs since they’ve got training groups out in the ‘burbs.  Not only will they be convenient to train with, but on race day they’ve got a private tent with THEIR OWN PORTA-POTTIES.  Wow.  Does life get any better than that?  

So, come mid-June I’ll be back at it again.  But, just one race.  And just running.  And then I can be done with this whole crazy marathon stuff.  Honest!

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