Tuesday, June 27, 2017

9 : 1 and DONE

This past weekend, I finally did what I set out to do last year - I finished the 9:1 program with New York Road Runners.  Run in 9 races and volunteer in 1- and you qualify to run the following year's New York City Marathon.

After I got injured last August with just two races to go (just two!), and found absolutely no mercy or help within NYRR to offer me a chance to get those credits back, my running wife and cheerleader Laura sent me a sweet little meme that simply said, "Injury makes the comeback sweeter."  It feels so amazing to be on the other side of that journey and to feel that...yep.  Yep, that's true.

Would I have preferred not to have gotten injured and to have done it all in one go last year?  110% YES.  But it didn't work out that way, and I definitely felt ten times more emotional crossing that final stepping-stone finish line yesterday than I would have had I been able to achieve it last year.

These last two races were particularly meaningful just on their own.  The Pride race is one I've always wanted to participate in, but my Saturday morning classes always conflicted.  The turnout was low this weekend due to the crazy downpour of rain in the morning, but miraculously as soon as the clock struck 8:30 and it was time to start, it stopped.  By the end of the race, the sky was almost completely clear and the sun was blazing.  The spirits of everyone who made it out weren't dampened a bit, though - they even had cheerleaders on the sidelines for us!  My personal favorite was the guy who started singing "Turn the Beat Around" at the top of his lungs while struggling through the hills alongside me.

The Achilles race - Sunday's race, and race #9 - is one I've done about four or so times now, and is absolutely amazing.  It honors the Achilles organization which pairs disabled athletes - whether they are a veteran missing a limb or someone with special needs, a wheelchair athlete or a blind athlete - with guides to help see them through a race.  Seeing folks push through obstacles far worse than any I've ever had to face is always a humbling and heart-opening experience.  I usually spend half the race in tears, and yesterday was no exception.  Having Laura by my side - and it was her final qualifying race too! - made it a thousand times better.

Now we don't have another one on the docket until August's France Run (which I was so sad I didn't get to do last year), and we're both eagerly looking ahead to the Abbott 5K Dash to the Finish in November, the day before I'll be cheering on my friend Lu in the NYC Marathon (check out and donate to her fundraising page here!).  It'll be the first time I train for a 5K since my very first 5K over nine years ago, when 3.1 miles seemed an insurmountable distance.  This time, I'm training for speed and efficiency.  It'll be good for my body to have a race on the horizon to train for that's a shorter distance - I know it makes my physical therapist happy!  The rest of the summer I'm focusing on getting stronger - and running stronger.


Just shy of seventy weeks until the 2018 New York City Marathon.  I can't wait.

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Discipline of Restraint

I try to live my life as a disciplined person.  I have certain habits I work to maintain, I'm disciplined about my running, and try to be disciplined in my work.  I always think of discipline as more, harder, faster.  Working harder and longer, pushing yourself past your limits, going to that place of being uncomfortable and challenged.

This week, I discovered the discipline of restraint.  It took me much longer to get back to full health post-virus than I imagined - and truthfully, I'm still not eating 100% normally for fear of my body revolting.  As soon as my body gave an inch of recovery, I wanted to take a mile in jumping back into my normal routine.  I was desperate to go for a run again, especially since I have my final two qualifying races this weekend to gain entry into the 2018 NYC Marathon.  After last year's injury and coming so close - two races away, in fact - and not meeting my long-awaited goal of making this year's marathon, I am chomping at the bit to get these under my belt.

But - I needed a different kind of discipline this week to keep me from racing out of the gate and doing too much too soon, like I did on Friday night which led to a terrible setback...and then another setback on Monday morning.

I felt better - and then waited.  Rested.  Did the gentlest 15-minute YogaGlo possible instead of the strength-building workout I really wanted.  I wanted so badly to be better again, I wasn't giving myself the chance to get better again.

I'm thrilled to report that my self-imposed short leash has worked, and although absolutely wiped out from a 5-class day, I'm feeling so much better and stronger and like my normal self again.  I'm more than ready to tackle a busy weekend - races, family, a Moana-themed birthday party at Karma Kids, and hopefully - fingers crossed - a little wine?

Discipline is not always about pushing yourself.  Sometimes it's about knowing when to hold yourself back - and sometimes that's even harder to do.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Too Much Too Soon / Child's Pose

Nothing humbles you like a stomach virus.  Except maybe forgetting how humbled you were the first time, overdoing it on food and wine (I know!) the second you feel normal, and then getting the humbling smackdown again.  "Too much too soon" is basically my middle name after every single illness or injury I ever have.  You'd think I'd learn.

Physical illness, mental illness, grief, pregnancy, existential stress at the state of the news (and as always, there's so much to rail against) and so much more can shake you off your foundation.  Luckily, yoga is infinitely adaptable - it's not all sweaty vinyasa classes in lululemons.

Meditation, restorative yoga, and my all-time favorite, Child's Pose, are just what the doctor ordered when the doctor has you in a humble ball on the floor.  And it's there for you when you're ready to - slowly - build back up.

So - child's pose today.  Back to the resistance next week.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Life Time

Whenever I come back from my sister's, I'm acutely aware of how much downtime I have.  Even on my busiest of busy days, I have a little time to myself in a way that just doesn't exist for her anymore unless she works hard to schedule it in - and luckily, she makes that self care effort as much as possible.

Being down there, I couldn't help but be acutely present for a majority of the time.  When three kids under 3 are up and running, you have to seriously be on your toes, because Kai will find a ladder and climb it all the way to the top.  I was also super disconnected from the news, which was glorious.  I checked in every so often to make sure I wasn't missing the impeachment (alas) but I let all my podcasts go off to the wayside and the world continued to turn.

This entry's title is taken from a quote I saw a long time ago, posted by a friend whose music taste is vastly different than mine.  I saw the quote before hearing the song (Shine by The Rollins Band), and having just listened to it thanks to the magic of Spotify after all these years of the lyrics floating through my memory, the song sounds nothing at all like I imagined!  All the same, I really love these lines.  And although as an introvert, I have a deeply jealous need for spare, free, and downtime, it's a reminder that time is really all we've got - and no one knows how much of it we have.

It's a reminder to make every moment count and to be there for every moment, no matter what you're doing.  It's also a reminder that there's always someone in this world who manages to do a lot more than us with a lot less time, and we can always push ourselves to use our time better - for ourselves, for others around us, for the world.  When I see how much my sister accomplishes in such little time, it pushes me to live my life better, make fewer excuses, and get on with it.

No such thing as spare time
No such thing as free time
No such thing as down time
All you got is life time
Go!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Where You Are

I'm going to lay it all out there right up front - I am about to write a blog post that is inspired by lyrics from Disney's Moana.  Mock if you wish - but hear me out!

First of all, if you think you're too cool for this movie, I'm here to tell you that you are not.  If anything, this movie is probably too cool for you.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's glorious, perfect music has been swirling in my head since Laura started playing the soundtrack in her kids' classes before I had even seen it.  Like Hamilton, it's dense with driving beats to the point where it will get stuck in your head, and you will have trouble falling asleep when they are stuck in your head.

This past week while visiting my sister (who needs a new title besides SuperMom, because she's even more incredible than that - I'm open to suggestions) and her amazing family, I got to finally watch Moana with the kids.  I've been looking forward to that forever, especially since my sister posted Atlas watching it.  (If you're Facebook friends with my sister, you can spend the next 3 minutes of your life experiencing this cuteness.  If not, I will show you on my phone literally anytime)

Best/Messiest tea party companions ever
It was hilarious and adorable (and ultimately abandoned for playing trains, because - 3 under 3) and once again got the music stuck in my head.

We left that night, which was extra heartbreaking because they're finally old enough to say, "I don't want you to go."  The next morning walking to work, I decided to skip my usual news podcast (yet another parenthetical - I hardly paid attention to the news at all last week, and it was glorious) and listen to something that would cheer me up and get me in a better energy and frame of mind for the first day back to reality post.  Naturally, I went straight to the soundtrack and selected Where You Are.

The song in its entirety, especially in the context of the movie and the story, are obviously very different from my life and emotional situation, but the idea of this one line - "You must find happiness right where you are" - resonated so powerfully to me as I walked the city streets that are at once familiar for being my streets, and iconic because it's New York City.  Sometimes, especially after a much-needed getaway, I forget how lucky I am to be living here in this city that I love and grew up watching on TV, movies, on the news - in awe.

The idea of finding happiness where you are, no matter where you are or what your current circumstance, is fairly yogic.  Yoga focuses less on the idea of happiness and more on the idea of equanimity, contentment, and presence, but I think it's safe to say most of us who practice yoga get a big happiness boost out of it.  The only constant in life is change, and if your happiness is solely dependent on exterior factors, you will eventually be out of luck.  Adaptability and a strong sense of self - while cherishing those outside circumstances that bring you joy - I think are keys to lasting happiness.

I miss and love and adore my family and the south, but I love and adore my life and home up here too.  It's important to remember that both can exist at the same time - the bitterness of missing what's not here right now, and the sweet of finding happiness right where you are.