Saturday, August 18, 2018

Music Share - Aretha

Been playing this in my Prenatal and Mom & Baby classes since Thursday.  May we all have such strength and grace.

RIP Queen.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Music Share - A comforting trifecta

This past week has been hard.  Money, injury, health care, work, future, change, uncertainty, fear - all that scary adult stuff has been coming up in a big, big way for us.  It's been amazing to have Marc back home so we can help each other through it, but I think it also sort of caused an emotional dam to burst in me.  Pretty much as soon as I clicked "post" on the last entry, my perspective and growth was washed away by tears, anxiety, and a variety of exciting breakdowns.

Aside from the unmatched love and support of the amazing people I'm lucky enough to have in my life, my biggest source of comfort this week was music - specifically, these three songs I'm going to share today:

1.  Tender, Blur

Marc discovered this via the Benedict Cumberbatch show Patrick Melrose, which I haven't seen but have heard is great.  It's long and it's an interesting combination of soothingly repetitive but also lyrically jam-packed.  It's a song that heartens me and cheers me up without being aggressive about it.

2. Anthem, Perla Batalla & Julie Christenson

Like my all-time love Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen's brilliant songs often shine brighter when covered by other artists.  In this case, his unparalleled and beautiful Anthem is given an unparalleled and beautiful cover by two incredible female vocalists.  The harmonies are stirring, the lyrics are as resonant and gorgeous as ever, and it's a perfect sad-happy-inspiring song.

3. Come On Up To The House, Tom Waits

Saving the best for last.  I don't have the words to describe what this song does for me.  You know how sometimes when you're down, you don't really want to be brought back up?  I can listen to this during those times and still somehow be brought up.  It's quintessential Tom Waits - gorgeous and smart and poetic, yet unsentimental with bittersweet humor.  The music and melody, his roaring, rough, howling voice, the perfect lyrics - it does that thing that music does.  It transcends, and opens up a path for you to transcend too.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Addendum - Prevention / Recovery

It's been interesting (and also, of course, awful) to unpack the shame, blame, and anger I've felt over my hip injury and the journey of finally accepting the necessity that this year is going to look absolutely nothing like I thought it would.  I've been angry at my body, incensed at every person who has told me it's a sign I shouldn't run anymore, and awash in the seas of, "not fair."

That last one struck particularly because, ironically, my only new year's resolution this year was to make it to the starting line and finish line of the marathon healthy and injury-free.  I literally have a list that's still tacked up on my wall entitled, "2018 Mobility / Injury Prevention Plan!" and I stuck to it.  I foam rolled.  I drank vitamins and electrolytes.  I cross trained more than I had in years.  I took epsom salt baths.  I saw my PT once a month and the cheap foot spa in Ditmars twice a month.  I did everything right - and although I've been conditioned to despise the phrase "not fair," I have had a major, major case of the "not fair's" these last few months.

But as with all challenges large and small, with time comes perspective - and hopefully a teeny bit of wisdom.

Sometimes when I'm teaching a class and students aren't quite grasping an alignment cue, I have them do it "wrong" to feel what it feels like to do it "right."  Tensing your shoulders up by your ears to an extreme, for example, to feel the release of dropping them down again.  You felt your shoulders at their most tense, and you felt that release.  Maybe next time you'll have a little more awareness of when the less extreme but still problematic tension comes back again.

It's with that idea in mind that I started to think, as I was trying to think about what this is here to teach me, that my injury prevention plan was incomplete.  This injury is partly genetics (the shape of my femur and hip sockets and iliac crests) and partly years of hyper-mobility, hyper-flexibility, and insufficient stability.  They say rejection is protection, and my body rejected the way I've used it for most of my life, from my ballerina pelvis of my youth to my billions of butterfly poses of my adulthood to the many steps I've run thinking my form had been fixed when in fact it had only mildly improved.

So - although my resolution and my list of practices was completely well intentioned and laudable, it was incomplete.  I didn't know it, but the proof of that has been in the pain.

I still have a lot of fear and uncertainty about my recovery, but what I do know is that although this year has now shifted from prevention to recovery, the recovery in and of itself will ultimately lead to greater understanding, greater strength, greater self knowledge, and a capacity to come back stronger and smarter.  And that sounds like pretty good prevention to me.

Life is a cycle in that way, isn't it?  We're doing our best to protect ourselves against problems and suffering, but that's impossible, so we inevitably experience problems and suffering.  But it's what we do with it that determines our future responses to it.

Jim MacLaren, quoted here by Elizabeth Gilbert, says it much better.  Her full post is here, and it's well worth the read.


"But what I will always remember about Jim most clearly is when he told me, "Never waste your suffering." This was in response to a question I'd asked him about whether he thought that suffering makes us into better people. He said, 'Not necessarily. Not automatically. Suffering just happens, constantly and randomly, and if you don't make anything out of it, then it causes you nothing but harm — it happened to you for no reason. But suffering can also be the greatest possible invitation to transform — but only if you accept that invitation, and only if you go through a complete catharsis, and only if you actually change yourself because of what you've experienced. But that part is up to you. Only you can execute a catharsis in your own life. Suffering without catharsis is nothing but wasted pain. And you should never waste your pain, never waste your suffering. It's powerful stuff, the most powerful stuff there is. Use it. Transform from it. Learn. Grow. Be better.'"

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Decision.

Most of my runs in 2018 have been in absolutely terrible weather.  A few have been just your run-of-the-mill winter runs, and I actually like running in the cold.  One, maaaaybe two was unseasonably warm, which is always amazing.  But especially those few runs I went on post Costa Rica, right before my hip exploded, the weather was trying to tell me something.  Heavy snow, heavy rain, demoralizingly, polar-vortexingly-cold and depressingly overcast.

This past Monday marked 15 weeks until the 2018 NYC Marathon.  I hadn't gone for a run since April, and, although the writing on the wall implied that the marathon was almost definitely out, I wouldn't know for absolute sure until I took a little tester run.

I got up.  I warmed up.  I did all my PT homework like the teacher's pet that I am.  I walked and did drills.  And then I ran for one block.

Deep, intense pain, deep in my iliacus and psoas.  Impossible to ignore pain.

I walked two more blocks.  I ran a block.  It was there - but a little less?  Maybe?  Was it really less, or was it wishful thinking?  Or was I just adjusting to it?

I walked three blocks.  I ran a block.  You see where this is going.

To be clear, I didn't expect to feel good, necessarily.  I didn't expect to feel pain-free.  I didn't expect to run more than a block or two.  I didn't plan on or even want to go for an actual run-run.  I knew there was a 99.9% certainty I would feel some pain.  Some pain.  Not deep, intense, impossible-to-ignore pain.

The disappointment I felt was not so much about the race - that writing was on the wall, and I was always going to feel like I was playing catch-up with my fitness level, and walking on eggshells for fear of re-injury.  That's not a mentally or physically fun way to train.

It's more a disappointment and fear of - oh, we're still this bad?  Months later and this is still where we are?

Well.  Shit.

The good news is, I didn't have a sobbing nervous breakdown, although I did feel sad and scared and a little tearful at some points throughout the day.  Mainly I just focused on work and went to bed ridiculously early.

The good news is also that when I was completely done with testing and I was making the long(ish) walk home from Astoria Park that the overcast skies opened up and poured down warm, summer rain on me.  I went from slogging through humidity to feeling cleansed and even somehow weirdly cared for.  I know that doesn't make sense, and it's hard to explain.  The bad weather (and I actually like running in bad weather sometimes) I experienced the first part of the year almost seemed to be pushing me away.  This weather felt like an embrace.  It felt comforting, somehow.

I walked slowly uphill back to my apartment from 20th avenue.  It was raining hard but not windy at all.  When I got there, I didn't want to go back inside yet, so I stood outside my apartment, stretching my calves and just being where I was.  Trying to be okay with what is.

So.  This week I'll be pulling the trigger and officially deferring to the 2019 New York City Marathon.  We're now at 67 weeks and 466 days til the race.

I've got so much more to say about it, but for now I'll leave it there.  I'm grateful for the rest of my health.  I'm grateful I can defer.  I'm grateful for everything I'm learning through all this, about my body and how I deal with adversity for better and worse, even though I'd much rather just stay ignorant and run most of the time.  I'm grateful for the rain.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Deciding not to decide (a marathon update-of sorts)

The last time I saw my wonderful mother-in-law, she was sweet enough to loan me three books that Marc and I had gotten for her.  I got her into Anne Lamott a couple of years ago, and it's so nice to share a love for her and her brilliant writing.

I read a line that cut me so deeply I had to laugh out loud:

"Maturity is the ability to live with unresolved problems." - Anne Lamott

This is something I struggle with so much.  As a control freak, I like for things to get wrapped up in neat and tidy boxes, and I don't like loose ends.  I've written before about how much I struggle with uncertainty, and I know I'm not alone in that regard.

This spring and now well in to summer, this has obviously been manifesting itself in my slow-to-heal hip, and the question that no doctor or PT has answered for me yet - Is it realistic to think I could run the NYC Marathon this November?  That I could not just run it, but run it in good health and cross the finish line with a smile on my face and a happy hip?

I've had the time to grieve the possibility of deferring it to 2019, and I'm in a place while, though still bitterly disappointing, I can be more philosophical about it and keep perspective.  I don't want to just run it because I can, I want to run it knowing it won't be a stupid decision leading to me jeopardizing my ability to run for the rest of my life, which is much more important to me than any race, even this one.

What's been tricky, though, as I've lived in this space of uncertainty is this:  How do you bridge the gap between foolishly getting your hopes up for something unrealistic, and stubbornly believing in yourself with a relentlessly positive attitude against all odds?

Or to put it more simply:  Is it stupid to walk around saying "I'm definitely going to run in November" when the truth is that I don't know?  And that I might not be able to?

Or - is it defeatist to hedge my bets?  Am I being negative?  Am I not having the right attitude and sabotaging myself?

It's an intensely vulnerable thing to make a declaration, to set a goal - I'm going to run New York this November - that might not happen.  To put that out there with the chance of having to walk it back and say, "Actually..."

It's especially vulnerable if you didn't really grow up with ideas like faith.  I was taught to believe in myself and try my hardest of course, but I've never been a religious person.  As spiritual as I am, I'm firmly agnostic because I can't say for sure if there is a God or there isn't.  I'm a very literal person and I like to be (say it with me now) certain.

Putting a ton of blind faith in the notion that I will definitely, absolutely, no matter what heal in time - like Laura has done, which I could never express enough gratitude for because it has gotten me through so many rough days - isn't something I've been able to do 100%.  The truth is, I just don't know.

So, what can I say 100%?

I can say that I will do everything in my power to run it this year.  I will pull out all the stops.

I can't say yet if it will be this year or if it will be next year.  Or God help me, the year after that.

It needs to be about the larger goal.  Believing in my body's ability to heal in a larger and more general sense rather than tying my self worth to a time table.  We all know our bodies don't care about our plans - sickness and injury can and do strike whenever they damn well please, and the best we can do is take care of ourselves to the best of our ability.

What I'm really saying is that I need to let go of the result right now.  I need to let go of being certain and having the answer right now.  It's hard to do when the result is so deeply important to me and something I've been working toward for over two years.  Adding another year to that is not fun, and I'd like to emotionally prepare myself ASAP if that's what's going to happen.

Running is a passion.  It's messily and inextricably mixed up in my identity.  It's how I cope with stress.  It keeps me sane.  It's so much more than just a workout or just a hobby.  People who flippantly tell me I should stop running have no idea what a big part of my life it is that they're suggesting I cut out.  It's not an option.

All of this is to say - I'm deciding not to decide.  The next two weeks will reveal a lot.  I'm finally working out more in PT and at the gym.  The Astoria pool is (finally!) open so I can add to my cardio.

I'm deciding not to decide in the interest of keeping hope and faith alive, and allowing there space to be an acceleration in my healing now that I'm in far less pain and doing far more work.

I'm working on getting comfortable with uncertainty.

I'm living in hope, but I'm also fully embracing the possibility of deferring, and looking for all the silver linings therein.

And best of all - I'm getting out of dodge for a week tomorrow.  I blinked and my sister's 5-pound babies are turning four on July 16th.  Time for me to go down and soak in as much family goodness as I can.

So - I will see this ol' thang in two weeks.  And I will probably have an answer by then.

(But maybe not.)

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Book Report: Writing the Mind Alive & Hip Update

This has been one of those times where I can't quite seem to find the voice that I want to access and use for this blog.  Sometimes I've been too awash in a sea of self pity and "Why me?" injury despair to write anything that pretends to be inspiring, sometimes I've been too awash in a sea of complete and utter blackout rage over what is happening in our country, sometimes I've been too deep in the weeds of hard and scary personal growth to share any of it in a public setting.

So, first thing's first - quick update on the state of my hips and the state of my 2018 NYC Marathon.  Basically, I'm still in Marathon purgatory.  Some days it seems inevitable that it won't happen.  We are 18 weeks out from the race, and I not only wanted to start my training two weeks ago, but I wanted to have been building upon a rock solid foundation from having trained for the Brooklyn Half.  Instead, I haven't run at all since mid-April and I haven't run without pain since April 5th.

It's not impossible to train for and run a marathon in 16 weeks.  But it's not how I wanted to do it - not just in a "that's not fair, I didn't want it to be this way" sort of way, but in a practical, let's-keep-myself-healthy way.

But my doctor is still very much digging their heels into the "wait and see" party line.  He's not giving me a definite yes or no until probably about mid-month.  And of course, he could always give me an answer and then my body could wind up surprising us, for better or worse.

I still really don't know what's going to happen, and the battle of being okay with uncertainty, for this girl who likes to control and plan anything, has been humbling and unfun.  But, I know, it's good for me.  Ugh.  When will the world stop conspiring to help me build more character?


With all of this said, I've still been writing every single day, like I always do.  My mom started me on the habit of journal writing when I was a kid - and I'll never forget my first Lisa Frank journal she gave me at the beginning of a summer one year that was just for me and no one else to ever read - and I've kept it up my whole life.  I don't make any rules for it - sometimes it's a fairly shallow and uninspiring to-do list.  Sometimes it's a recounting of events I want to remember.  Sometimes it's hashing out stuff that's bothering me.  I don't strive to make it particularly stream-of-consciousness or anything - I just write.

This brings us to the book report part of things.  During an extremely well timed and much needed night with my best friend last week, she loaned me Writing the Mind Alive: The Proprioceptive Method for Finding Your Authentic Voice by Linda Trichter Metcalf and Tobin Simon.  It was published in 2002, but the writing method it describes was developed by the authors in the 1970's.

I devoured this book - it's a shortie, only 183 pages.  Lisa (aforementioned best friend, and also ps she's a talented superstar too) has been telling me for awhile about her Writes that she's done, and I always thought she just meant general journaling, or morning pages.

A Write (always with that capital W!) is a period of about a half hour of writing.  The setting is important - the authors' recommended setup for this ritual includes a private room, a candle, wordless music (they recommend Baroque), and white, unlined, unbound paper.  The "rules" are as follows:

1. Write what you hear
Meaning, write your thoughts as they come in to your head.  This isn't necessarily stream of consciousness, and there isn't a rule that the pen must constantly be moving on the paper.  You can take it a little more slowly and thoughtfully than that - it's not a race.

2. Listen to what you write
From the book:  "The skill that's most actively engaged during a Write isn't the writing skill at all.  It's the hearing skill...To hear your own thoughts and to awaken your auditory imagination, you must develop within yourself your capacity to listen.  Thought can always be voiced, but to hear it requires a certain kind of intense, focused listening, a quality of attention:  curious, patient, even tempered...It never judges, edits, censors."

3. Be ready to ask the Proprioceptive Question
The question is the tool you use to develop your ability to listen to your thoughts.  It is, "What do I mean by ____?"  For example, if I write down, "I want to cede control of it all" and it feels like the concept of control needs more elucidation, I will follow it by writing out, "What do I mean by 'control?'" and then delving more deeply...until I feel the need to ask it again, and delve deeper, ask again, delve deeper - you get the idea.

Every aspect of this technique appeals to me.  I love the ritual of it all - the candle, intentionally carving out the space and the focus.  Often times when I write I lose focus so much that I might as well have not written a thing.  At first I hated the idea of loose and unlined white paper (as a leftie, I don't usually write in a straight line) but it's actually been great and feels strangely freeing.

I also find that having that one technique of the Proprioceptive Question is like turning on all the lights and unlocking all the doors in my brain.  My first few Writes coincided with some turbulent days and they were like free therapy where I went down some avenues of my mind I hadn't gone down in a very long time.

As I said above, I'm a lifelong, daily journal-writer.  It's really important to me and to my sanity (it's probably how I've been able to get away without going to therapy at this point in my life - not that it's going to be a substitute for it forever...) but it's also something that I truly love.  As evidenced by the obscene length of this blog post - I love to write and it's something I've always loved and been good at.

If you do not consider yourself a writer, or if you hated it in school the way I hated math, or you're just new to the idea of journaling, I think this is the perfect technique to get your feet wet.  You aren't writing for a grade or for anyone else's eyes.  Hell, you don't even need to ever read it again unless you really want to.  You could burn each and every Write you do for all anyone needs to know.  But the act of writing, the act of asking and answering that question, is an active step toward knowing yourself better.

The only thing we can really control and count on in life is ourselves.  We can't control what happens in our lives or our country or even in our bodies.  But the better we know ourselves and take care of ourselves, the better prepared we are to face whatever the world has in store for us.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

March, Get Mad, and Get KIND

Another quickie post today.  It's been a really emotional week for a lot of reasons that are just not quite blog-appropriate.

One of the reasons, though, is the fact that the US Government has neither the resources nor the desire to get their act together and reunite over 2,000 children with their families.  They are continuing to detain people seeking asylum, which is legal to do in the United States of America.

The government is taking a sharp turn down a terrifying road, but we are a nation of the people, and we can fight it.

There are over 700 protests happening today in all 50 states.  Go here to find one near you and let's put our bodies and voices on the line for what's right.

Once you do that, donate to my beautiful friend Laura's marathon charity, KIND - Kids in Need of Legal Defense.  Hopefully it will be mine too if I'm cleared to run, but even if not, I will be doing everything I can to work with Laura in her fundraising effort.

Click here to donate and learn more about Laura and KIND's efforts.

I'll leave this brief post with her words:

When I first saw the image of children in cages, my heart sank. As a runner, I couldn't get the thought out of my mind that all these children have as a protective barrier against them and the concrete, metal inclosure they found themselves in, were mylar blankets. As runners we know all too well that mylar blankets are uncomfortable and only used to shield you slightly from the elements, but yet this is what the children were given to comfort their poor, lost, weary, souls. I thought of the babies, stripped from their mothers. Babies, who, more than likely, were still breast feeding. Working with infants in my daily like as a post natal yoga teacher, I know all too well what happens when babies begin to wean from the breast, the challenges that can occur, and the hurdles both mother and baby face. I started to ask myself, "'did anyone think about this?", "whose changing the diapers on a regular basis?", "whose making sure the infants aren't allergic to the formula?", "whose taking care of the diaper rash and the heat rash and the neglect and the cries and the pain?" These are the questions that called me to action. No child deserves this abuse. Period. I make the calls and I show up to the protests, but if running has taught me anything, it's that I'm strong as hell, I'm healthy, I've got a voice and a mind, and I have no excuse to NOT do more for these children. My mother raised me to stand up for all children in need, and out of respect for her and the mothers who have been stripped from their children, I plan to do just that.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Together Rising.

I finally had gathered up the courage (a word which seems really stupid now) to write a little more in depth about my journey with my injury and how it's affecting my life and my goals, but it just feels too petty today.

I work with children every day, some of whom I have known and loved since their mothers were pregnant with them.  I have four nephews and a niece that I love more than life itself.

What is happening at America's border is breaking my heart.  The Statue of Liberty feels like a joke right now.

And not one person on the religious right seems to be thinking when they see these poor people, "There but for the grace of God go I."

So, please, take two seconds out of your day, and donate to Together Rising, where every single penny is going to legal fees to help these families and children.

Take five minutes out of your day to call your representative, especially if you live in a a blue or purple state, and tell them where you stand.  Let's make those phone lines explode.

Take one day out of your life and protest on June 30th, and wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.  You may be far from the border, but you can still physically show up against this.

Finally, and most importantly, VOTE.  Make sure all your friends are registered to vote.  Vote in primaries, vote in November.  The only way to stop this administration's myriad of ethics violations, illegal actions, and horrific policies is a Democratic Congress.  The "never-Trump" GOP does nothing more than tweet their disapproval.  That's meaningless.

Please take the time to make a difference.  And count your blessings, while you're at it, because seriously - there but for the grace of God go I.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Music Therapy

You know how sometimes you have a lot going on, a lot of which would be excellent writing / reflecting material, but you're too deep in it so it wouldn't make much sense to write about it?  I'm sort of in that place right now.

There's a lot I could say about patience, listening, certainty, hope, attitude...but I'm too busy trying to cultivate all of those with only the most fleeting of success to really write anything decent about it.

So instead, I'm going to completely cheat and cop out of this entry, and leave you with not a playlist, but one single song.  Why even bother posting this?  Because it will drive me nuts if I don't post something once a week when I don't have the excuse of vacation to get me out of it.

With all that said, this is a spectacular song to listen to if you're in any way feeling beaten down, broken, sad, or just having your run-of-the-mill shitty day.

This song has been such a touchstone for me for the last four years that I wouldn't be surprised if I've done an entry solely dedicated to it before.  Big heartfelt thanks to Dayle Pivetta, a spectacular yoga teacher, for introducing it to me - during my first yoga class after my marathon injuries.

Listen and try not to feel better about your life.  Just try. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Global Running Day

I didn't date at all in middle and high school until I was 17 and fell in love with my best friend.  I was single during almost all of college and after, until I was lucky enough to snag Marc when we were a month shy of 25.  So, I've had my fair share of Valentine's Days as a single girl, and honestly - I love Valentine's Day.  I've always loved it.  The elementary school years imprinted themselves firmly on me - this was a holiday that celebrated love (friends & family) and chocolate.  What's not to love?

Even when I wasn't happy about being single, even when I was lonely and felt like the only one in my circle without a boyfriend, I loved Valentine's Day.  I always thought of it as a choice - you can mope about what you don't have, or you can embrace the love that you do have in your life, and write cards for all your friends just like in the good old days.  And enjoy all the chocolate.

People who don't like Valentine's Day, single or not, tend to say it's a made up, commercial holiday.  They aren't necessarily wrong.

Today, June 6th, is apparently Global Running Day.  I'm not sure who made this global decree, or for how many years it's been the case, but I have been faced with a choice today.  My love of Valentine's Day never felt like a conscious choice or decision.  This, however...

I had fervently hoped two weeks ago that my two whirlwind trips away - to my sister's for Memorial Day and to Philly for Marc's show - would be the break from reality and the rest that would finally cure my whatever-is-wrong with my right side.  I made a fantastic training plan that started with two weeks of "test run's" - running for only a minute at a time, coupled with a ton of other strength and mobility work, to see how I feel - to begin today.

Unfortunately, I forgot that air travel, train travel, suitcase hauling, toddler hauling, and high-heel wearing were not exactly restful.  My magical cure of leaving town didn't work.

I finally saw a doctor this past Monday.  Probable diagnosis - a partial labral tear in my right hip.  I have shallow hip sockets (who knew?) and the repetitive movement of external rotation in yoga and just my own habits have likely caused a form of impingement.  Groin strain - that one wasn't news, it's just so damn slow to heal.  Hamstring strain.

So, no, I'm not running today.  And I could so easily be bitter about it.  There is a part of me that straight up is bitter about it - bitter, angry, resentful, self-pitying...you get the idea.

But that doesn't help.

Instead, I had my first ever chiropractic and acupuncture treatments at the wellness center that gave me such great care (and x-rays) on Monday.  I'm packing my bag for PT tomorrow morning.  I'm starting a journey not just to heal pain or an isolated injury, but to finally, once and for all, fix my form.  Not just my running form, but my biomechanics in every possible facet of my life and movement and all of the repetitive and everyday activity I do as a teacher, as an athlete, and as a human.

It's not what I want.  But I have to choose to take what I can take out of this journey and of this arbitrary Global Running Day.  I would much rather be able to just post a selfie of a sweaty tomato-face after a four miler (this morning was perfect running weather!), but I have to trust that what I'm doing instead will ultimately make me stronger.  Luckily for me, when I can't find that trust, I have enough positive cheerleaders out there who trust for me and remind me and encourage me and make me dinner and get me chocolate.  (Laura Frye, I'm staring at that card you gave me right this second.  You are the best.)

I don't just want to run for a day, or for one race, or for one season.  I'm running for life.  So, first thing's first.

To all of those blessed enough to run today, I hope you ran with your whole heart and treated yourself to something cold and delicious afterward, and took a moment of gratitude for the gift that running is.  I'll be back out with you soon, and I will be seeing you at the New York City Marathon this November.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Shift

This past Saturday was the Brooklyn Half, and good lord did Mother Nature have it in for everyone.  Cold, driving rain, gusty winds - absolutely miserable conditions.  The runners gutted it out impressively and I'm very grateful to whoever gave me the weatherproofing advice for m poster, and even more grateful that Laura loaned me her raincoat.

It was really hard to be there and not be running the course.  It was even more disheartening when I broke into a jog to be sure I caught Laura before she passed by and I still still still felt the pain in my hip that sidelined me in the first place.  It's been plaguing me since April 7th and healing so slowly that some days I really can't tell if I'm making any progress or not.

But it's always gratifying to cheer for runners and to be inspired by them - and I was even more inspired that Laura set a PR for the course!  I assume she just wanted to run the damn thing as fast as possible to get warm and dry.

Now that it's done, now my attention is turned toward November and the full marathon even more than it was.  In a perfect world, I'll be starting my training in four short weeks.  We'll see what my body actually has in store for me.

One of the most important things I took away from the day came up in conversation with Laura on the long (looooooooong) train ride home as we talked about how she made it through.  We had planned to talk on the phone a lot - Laura loves company on her runs - but the rain and the madness just made it too hard to do anything but focus on what she was doing.  She told me she talked to herself, reminded her that her quads are strong, reminded herself of all her training, reminded herself that she was capable - and, surprise surprise, it was incredibly helpful.

It got me thinking that because I love running so much and I miss it so much whenever I'm sidelined, my mental state with injuries is usually one of panic, worry, paranoia, and being so overly in tune and in my head that there's no room to think about anything else.

I need to remember to have faith, hope, and the hardest one of all, patience.  I want this over now.  I want to be back now.  I want to feel strong now.  Well, I'm not getting what I want, and certainly a negative or fear-based attitude isn't going to get it to me any faster.

So as so frequently happens, I'm taking a cue from Laura to try to choose my thoughts more wisely.

I will also, very happily, be headed out of town for two fabulous short trips over the next two weeks - first, to spend the holiday weekend with my family in SC, and second to Philly for Marc's opening night and another long weekend.  The distraction, the break from the day-to-day, from the stress teaching can put on my body, and from my awful mattress, will hopefully get me out of my own head, and allow time to do its thing and heal.

Which means, dear blog, that I will see you again in June!  I hope everyone who is able to has gotten outside today, because oh my goodness it could not be further from Saturday's monsoon.  Spring is back on track.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Quick Restore

It's one of those weeks where I'm feeling sort of uninspired to write - I've already written loads about my mystery injury, pulling out of the Brooklyn Half, and all the emotion and uncertainty that goes along with that.  To save you from more pontificating on the same, I just want to share a restorative pose that I've been loving lately.

Having this sharp in my adductor/groin area, I'm having to pull back a lot from demonstrating in my classes.  I'm trying to avoid lunges altogether, which is challenging to say the least.  And since I'm pulling back from demonstrating, I'm definitely not doing yoga for myself - I can't remember the last time I took a class, and I think the last time I practiced on my own was in Costa Rica!  While that makes me sad and I continue to be uncertain of what's safe to do to aid in my recovery and what's not, I know that I can always count on restorative yoga poses to help both my body and my brain in this weird and frustrating time.

Restorative Bridge pose is something you can do so easily - all you need is something to place under your sacrum to elevate it while you lay down.  Traditionally it's done with feet on the floor and knees bend, and either with a yoga block or a bolster - but a thick book would do the trick just as well if you don't have any props.  As long as your prop is a comfortable height and as long as it is placed on your sacrum - not your tailbone, not your lumbar curve, but in between - then you should be able to rest comfortably in the pose.  Comfort is what restorative yoga is all about.

Since I've had such hip funkiness going on lately, I've really loved this variation of it, pictured below, with legs straight.  It's a passive way to open up the hip flexors without putting any weight, pressure, or strain on it.  It's an amazing stress reliever no matter what is going on in your body or your brain.  I recommend staying in it for as long as you possibly can, starting by breathing deeply and slowly, and then allowing yourself to relax into it and let your breath flow without worrying about manipulating it further.

Picture courtesy of Kelly Collins from her lovely post,
6 Restorative Yoga Poses for Adrenal Fatigue

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Change of Plans - Running to Cheering

Earlier this week, in my ongoing text chain with my mom and sister, we had a conversation about the accident prone-ness of our family.  My sister's joints pop in and out at will, my nephew Atlas apparently get through a meal without biting his own lip or tongue, and my mom and I often have the weirdest and most random of physical/medical issues.

So how funny and fitting that on the morning I'm drafting a blog about the consequences of my sudden and seemingly out of nowhere injury, I bruised the absolute living hell out of my foot.  How, you ask?  By stepping up on my step stool in my kitchen.

Just so typical.

As far as the actual subject of my blog - as I mentioned earlier, in the middle of my 5 mile run at the beginning of last month, I suddenly started feeling pain around my right groin/psoas.  It was a sharp pain, but seemed to spread out as dull pain all along the right side - my right lower back, glute, and hamstring.  The pain has been with me throughout these last almost five weeks - improving, but soooo slowly, and not without setbacks.

I've officially had to come to the conclusion that's been slowly turning inevitable these last couple of weeks - there is no way I can safely run the Brooklyn Half on Saturday, May 19th.  I physically could do it - but it would be very dumb and very painful, and motivated by nothing but pride and stubbornness.

This is incredibly disappointing, but I feel so loved and supported by my running partner and Marc, and I'm reminding myself that I don't have to run, I just love to run.  My leg isn't broken, I still have both of them, and I will eventually heal (right?).  This year will just be my turn to give back to a race I've run three times already by offering love and support to the awesome runners from the sidelines - and talking to Laura on the phone as much as I can during the race so she doesn't go crazy by herself.

My true focus, my major goal, is the main event:  my first (and probably only) New York City Marathon.  There are 178 days until November 4th, and I intend to use every last one of them to get healthy, strong, and prepared.

I'm lucky to be in the amazing care of Fabricio, my top notch physical therapist, and his fantastic new massage therapist Izzy.  They are top notch not just in their expertise, but in how much they truly care for their patients.

Again - I'm really disappointed.  I definitely didn't come to this realization dry-eyed.  But there is no way I'm jeopardizing the marathon - and more importantly, my long-term running health - for this race.  And besides, my absence will probably push Laura into her best half marathon time by a long shot. 

So anyone getting ready to run Brooklyn, I wish you the most amazing race and race day conditions - I'll still see you there, but this time I'll be cheering myself hoarse on the sidelines!

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bite Sized Yoga from Laura

A quickie today - my beautiful friend Laura has a fabulous YouTube Channel, Laura Runs and Eats, on which she chronicles her runs, has a running book club, and now offers weekly mini-yoga/Pilates sessions to target specific troublesome areas of the body.  I did her Upper Body Flow class last night before bed and it was the perfect way to end the day.

Check them out and happy May!




Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Unconventional Training

When I look back on my favorite phases of running, up at the tip top is definitely right around when Marc and I got married - the October before, I trained for and ran my first half marathon with my sister.  I was shocked at how great the race felt and how great I felt afterward.  The following May, I ran my second half - my first of many Brooklyn Half Marathons, and I've never felt as good after a half as I did after that one.

It's probably no coincidence that I was feeling amazing running at the time when I was at my lowest body weight of my adult life - and I was cross training like crazy in an effort to fit into my ridiculously tightly corseted wedding dress with Refine Method, a fancy boutique-y workout class that I had gotten a great deal on thanks to my association at the time with Athleta.  It focused on a variety of weight lifting, bodyweight training, TRX, and cardio - it was a full-body workout that left you flat on the floor by the end, every single time.

I got in the best shape of my life, I felt strong and amazing - and then I stopped going, because it was expensive and my discounted deal had run out.  I don't even know if I noticed a decline in my running performance at the time, but I think random aches and pains became more prevalent.

Ultimately, when I ran the Disney Marathon the following January in 2014, that marathon pulled back the curtain on every point of weakness and consequence of bad form that there was.  My right hamstring, left knee, left foot, and overall running and fitness really suffered.

Finally, in the fall of 2014 after fits and starts of trying to get back to running post-marathon injuries, I discovered my incredible physical therapist (and if you need help with anything ever, you must go to him!) and have been on a journey ever since to learn more about my weaknesses, strengths, running form, and how to handle it all.

I haven't been injury free by a long shot since starting physical therapy, but each issue that crops up has been a tremendous learning opportunity and experience to get smarter and stronger.

Fast forward to two and a half weeks ago, and in the middle of a five mile run, as I excitedly got back in the swing of running post-Costa Rica to train for this year's Brooklyn Half, my right hip flexor started feeling a little weird and tight and sore.  I kept going, taking more walking intervals and trying to figure out the exact right way to stretch so I could access the weird pain I was feeling.  Was it inner thigh?  Hip?  Psoas?

It's weird, it's off-and-on - but unfortunately, running turns it back on.  I've been going to PT twice a week and after a couple of attempts to run afterward, I've finally been hit over the hammer with the fact that I need to completely stop until the pain goes away (it always takes me so long to learn that lesson...).

And yet - the Brooklyn Half is in 23 days.  And I've yet to do a long run beyond a couple of 6 milers before Costa Rica - back in early March.  And I've now gone a week without any running at all.

My one saving grace:  I'm back to really spending time getting my butt kicked and getting stronger in a cross training class, this time with my local gym, The Rock in Astoria.  It only took living five minutes away from it for nearly four years to finally join.  I'm stepping up my strength training game - modifying movements that bothers my hip - with a TRX class taught by the incredibly fun and tough Dorothy.

Now that I'm stuck in a situation where I need to train for a race and I can't run to train, I'm hitting the gym as much as possible without overdoing it.  Instead of an 8 mile run this past Saturday, I took a HIIT class with Lizette, another fantastic trainer, and I was a puddle of dead muscles and sweat by the end.  Adding to that some long walks so I can tire out my legs without upsetting my hip, throwing in shorter, harder bursts of cardio through jump rope and biking, and foam rolling like a monster, and I really feel like I'm doing everything I can to get my body in better shape than it was the day before - which is pretty much the point of training for any athletic event.

Even though I'm feeling very under the gun by how quickly the Brooklyn Half is approaching, I've ultimately come to accept that if my body's telling me it's not up for it, I have to bow out and take to the sidelines, cheering on the runners.  As my partner in the Bk Half for the last two years, my work wife, bestie and running Sole Sister Laura keeps reminding me - All roads lead to November.  This year is the New York City Marathon which I have striven to be a part of for over two years with blood, sweat, tears, and miles.  If this injury is here to teach me a lesson, I think I'm learning it.  And I will walk that damn marathon if I have to.

To be a runner, running can't be the end-all, be-all.  It needs to be a part of a larger puzzle that respects your body's limitations, needs, biomechanics, and the weak parts that are telling you they need to be made stronger.  For someone like me who likes to make a training plan and rigidly stick to it, whose favorite thing is running above all else - it's a hard lesson, and it takes a lot of painful repetition to stick.  I think, though, that I'm finally getting it through my head, into my body, and hopefully that will translate to my hip.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Book Report: The Confidence Code for Girls

Another book report?  I know, it's crazy.  This is a short and sweet one - The Confidence Code for Girls by journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.  Kay and Shipman previously authored The Confidence Code, geared toward woman in 2014.  They broke down tons of research, interviews, and social science to discuss all the ways in which women struggle to build confidence and the ways in which they can overcome internal obstacles to build more.  They came out with their second version, targeted toward girls 8 and up, just this year.

I read this book after my friend & boss Shari loaned it to me - we both teach Girl Power Yoga classes at Karma Kids Yoga, and this is absolutely perfect for that and for pretty much any girl anywhere.

I had never heard of and still haven't read the adult version of The Confidence Code, but having read their book for tweens I both really want to read it - and almost feel like I don't have to, because this book is so thorough and still completely relatable, even for those of us out of those middle school years.

Through clear and relatable writing and impressive illustrations, comics, and graphics, the authors break down what they see as the three top elements to a confidence code - 1. Risk More 2. Think Less 3. Be Yourself.

It's that second one that definitely resonates the most with me - and also at first glance, sounds like the opposite of any advice we would ever want to give our kids.  We want them to always be using their brains, learning, and thinking more, right?  What the "Think Less" key actually addresses is the over-thinking and catastrophizing that so many women and girls do about so many things every single day. 

As women, we can so easily get in our own heads and get in our own way and hold ourselves back from doing the things we want to do because our high emotional intelligence has a way of seeing a risk from every angle, sometimes emphasizing the scary parts.  When we just do it - as opposed to overthinking and psyching ourselves out - we take the action necessary to gain more confidence.

I highly, highly, highly recommend this book to basically everyone - men, women, parents, kids.  Everyone is someone or knows someone who can benefit from the keys and fascinating research outlined in this book.  I know I would have devoured this book as a kid, and I think it would have really pushed me to be more of a risk-taker.

Check out a news segment on the book here, and happy Monday - especially a happy Marathon Monday to everyone out in Boston this morning!  Fight through this nasty weather and make it a beautiful day!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Book Report: Rising Strong by Brene Brown

Last year, I wrote a blog that wasn't quite a book report because I was too overwhelmed by the book to fully write about it.  The book was Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection, and it remains something I feel the need to turn to over and over and over again because it's just so chock full of wisdom.  I felt the same about her book Daring Greatly.

In Costa Rica, one of my missions was to do little else besides read in the sunshine.  I'm very proud to say that I accomplished that goal, and the only book of the stack that wasn't fiction or memoir was Brown's Rising Strong, the next of her works.  I wasn't sure if I was even going to read it at all, because I knew it would be a lot to digest and I was on vacation, after all.  Hardly the place you feel like delving into such topics as fear, vulnerability, shame, and failure.

But in typical Brene Brown fashion, once I picked the book up, I could. not. put. it. down.  The combination of her academic research and credentials and her gift for storytelling and Texan wit makes her books the kind that you know you should read slowly but you just can't stop.  I feel like highlighting the whole damn thing.

When a book makes you feel that way - and makes you feel like maybe you should start therapy - it can be hard to write about it a simple bloggy book report-y "I liked it!" kind of way.  I'll do my best to briefly summarize some of her key points, and leave you with some of my favorite quotes.

The cornerstone of this book is the idea of dealing with our failures or simply those moments that trigger a deep emotional response in us by slowing down and getting curious about what we're feeling and why - instead of whatever our typical reaction might be, such as lashing out or blaming others or wallowing.  She breaks this process down into the 3 R's - the Reckoning, the Rumble, and the Revolution.

The Reckoning is that moment when you know something needs to be addressed - maybe it's a very obvious and big failure at work, or maybe it's just a smaller moment where something emotional gets triggered by something seemingly innocuous.  The Revolution is applying what you learn in the rumble to live more wholeheartedly.

The book focuses on the middle part - the Rumble.  She writes, "The goal of the rumble is to get honest about the stories we're making up about our struggles, to revisit, challenge, and reality-check these narratives as we dig into topics such as boundaries, shame, blame, resentment, heartbreak, generosity, and forgiveness."  Part of the work of this is writing our "shitty first drafts" of what we're feeling when we're feeling it, a term borrowed by the inimitable Anne Lamott.  Not looking to be right, just looking to be as honest as possible, even if that brings up less-than-lovely qualities in ourselves or total irrationality.

This book much more than her previous two includes a ton of stories - both her own and those of people who have given her permission to share them - about struggles with work, family, relationships, and more - the big face-down failures and the small day-to-day frustrations.  She uses all of these different stories to illustrate how we can use the process of the shitty first draft and of delving deeper into learning the delta (or the difference) between what we initially think and feel versus what the reality of the situation is.  Are we assuming the worst about other people and ignoring our own share of the blame?  Or are we stuck in a shame spiral, when the reality is that we're being too hard on ourselves?

This book covers BIG topics.  I just finished reading it again, a little slower (and with a highlighter) after devouring it in Costa Rica, and I still feel like it needs a couple more rereads to get all the way into my heart and my brain.  So I'll simply insist that you get your hands on a copy ASAP and read it cover to cover a minimum of two times, and leave you with some of my favorite quotes:

"When we stop caring what people think, we lose our capacity for connection.  But when we are defined by what people think, we lose the courage to be vulnerable"

"Choosing to be curious is choosing to be vulnerable because it requires us to surrender to uncertainty."

"They [compassionate folks she interviewed] assume that other people are doing the best they can, but they also ask for what they need and they don't put up with a lot of crap." (most compassionate people I interviewed had most well defined/respected boundaries)...I lived the opposite way:  I assumed that people weren't doing their best so I judged them and constantly fought being disappointed, which was easier than setting boundaries.  Boundaries are hard when you want to be liked and when you are a pleaser hell-bent on being easy, fun, and flexible."

This last pull quote is actually not from Brown, but from a passage of Desmond Tutu's book that she quoted.  This hit me very, very hard - for most people, I think forgiveness is one of the hardest topics to grapple with, and she writes beautifully about it.  My favorite excerpt, though, is the Tutu passage:

"To forgive is not just to be altruistic.  It is the best form of self interest.  It is also a process that does not exclude hatred and hanger.  These emotions are all part of being human...However, when I talk of forgiveness, I mean the believe that you can come out of the other side a better person.  A better person than the one being consumed by anger and hatred.  Remaining in that state locks you in a state of victimhood, making you almost dependent on the perpetrator.  If you can find it in yourself to forgive, then you are no longer chained to the perpetrator."

This book came out three years ago, in 2015, and I still have to catch up to Braving the Wilderness, her most recent book which came out last year.  I'm so thrilled that someone with so many powerful messages is getting the success that she's getting, and I really think this world would be a better place if we all dove into the hard topics she covers in her books.

**Edited to add - check out her SuperSoul conversation about Rising Strong with Oprah Winfrey!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Back from Heaven

This morning, I had a three mile run planned, as being back in NYC means being back to my training plan for the Brooklyn Half this coming May.  And naturally, it being April and spring, there were at least three inches of snow on the ground waiting for me.

So, thanks for that welcome home, New York!

Today is our first day back at work after a beyond heavenly time in Costa Rica.  One of the most important things about breaking out of your regular routine, aside from resting and recharging and getting a tan, is removing yourself from your routine.  Our lives go through so many stages and phases, and it's important to remove yourself from your current identity - your job, your schedule, your apartment, your goals - and reconnect with that part of you that is not your current phase in life. 

We're trying to take back lessons and fit them into our crazy NYC life as best as we can - lessons you know intellectually are true and learn over and over, but are harder in practice than in theory.

Do less. Read more.  Doing nothing is not just okay, your brain needs it sometimes.  Sunshine is everything.

Nothing humbles you or brings you closer together as a couple than eating bad produce and dying of the stomach plague together.

Catch sunrises and sunsets whenever humanly possible.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Music Share - Spring + Love

Two (!!!) days until we leave for our first just-the-two-of-us vacation since our honeymoon, and there is too much to do and not enough time to do it.  Plus it wouldn't be the lead up to a vacation without a minor work crisis to make the last 48 hours exciting.  How on earth did I ever deal with stress before running??

So instead of my planned entry, I'm doing a copout quickie music share!  I get nostalgic at the start of each spring since our wedding thinking about that incredible day, and created a playlist filled with music that reminds me of the spring we got engaged and the spring we got married - plus a new favorite, Oh My Love by Bearfoot.

It's a mix of eras and artists, from Billie Holiday to Carole King to Jason Mraz.  Enjoy, and I'll be back on the blog in April!!!


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Guide to a Hungover Monday Run

I absolutely, unapologetically love awards shows.  Despite how trite or arbitrary it might be, I just love them - I'm a sucker for someone overwhelmed with emotion thanking their family.  So for me, the Oscars are very, very exciting.  And also often an event where I completely lose track of how much I'm drinking.

While this year was nowhere near as rough as last year (don't ever switch to tequila after red wine...or was it the other way around? - either way, DON'T), I still had stayed up too late, ate too much, drank too much, and of course had a blast.  Although at least I stuck to wine exclusively this year.  Baby steps!

With a training run on my schedule for today, though, there was absolutely no question of skipping it.  I did try to keep drinking water throughout the night, and I made sure to pound a glass before bed.

It's not exclusive to hangovers, of course - a sleepless night or just not feeling it can potentially derail your training.  So here are the steps I took to survive - and dare I say thrive? - a run after a night of too much fun.  Obviously it's hangover specific, but these are great for all kinds of less-than-ideal circumstances going into a run:

1. Lots of water and 3 Advil before bed.

2. Sleep as long as you can get away with  - 6 hours at least if you can.

3. Slowly transition to the waking world with restorative yoga.  I borrowed heavily from this wonderful sequence - Yoga Poses for a Hangover - and just tweaked it a little for myself:
--Legs Up the Wall with my head on a block and two Yoga TuneUp balls under my head to put soothing pressure on the base of my skull
--Child's Pose with my head on a block - keep your head level with or above your heart.  And for the love of God, do not do a Downdog!
--Get moving with a little cat & cow, squat with a twist, and any seated forward fold that floats your boat.  I did Diamond Pose with my head supported by the block on its highest height.
--Supta Baddha Konasana.  AKA Reclined Bound Angle Pose.  AKA Heaven.  I use props for mine - lay back on two pillows to mimic a bolster and roll a blanket into a skinny roll to go around my feet and under my thighs for support - plus my trusty eye pillow.

4. Dissolve a tablet of Nuun in a big glass of water and drink every last drop.  Hydration, electrolytes - that stuff is magic for distance runners and for folks with a hangover!

5. Light and dry pre-run snack.

6. Depending on what your workout plan was, change it!  Go from 3 miles to 2, from 4 miles to 30 minutes, whatever you need to do - but cut something out so you aren't overdoing it, especially in warmer months.

7. Warm up - bridges, clamshells, and theraband work on my ankles to get them awake.  Some light mock jump rope - nothing too crazy.

8. No music, no headphones!  Stay as connected as possible to breath and body.

9. Run easy and walk at regular intervals - walk breaks are beneficial all the time for many reasons, but especially when you aren't operating at 100%.

10. Be restored by the fresh air, and filled with pride and gratitude that you stuck to your commitment to yourself! 

Finally, after stretching, take a delicious, hot shower...and then right at the end, torture yourself with a minute of ice cold water.

Voila, you are awake and ready to tackle anything!


Obviously, if you're hungover the point of being barely mobile...maybe just stay in bed.  But this all works for me - what do you do to get yourself into gear after an ill-advised night?

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Music Share - Calm, Folk, Indie Bluegrass & Love

Early quickie post this week, due to our thrilling Monday morning meeting with our H & R Block tax professional tomorrow!  May the Gods of freelance and 1099's be with us...

I also happened to have finally finished a yoga playlist I started a zillion years ago.  The inspiration / missing musical pieces of the puzzle were brought to me a couple of weeks ago when I had the absolute privilege of attending a friend and doula client's birth.  She and her husband are musicians, and music played a huge part in the labor and birth.  We have similar (and similarly eclectic) tastes and we had a great time figuring out the "push playlist" or the right song for any particular adventure of the induction process.

So this list is a mish-mash of a few favorite love songs, some covers, and some beautiful music from that incredible birth experience.  It runs about an hour and is great for background to Sunday chores or a mellow yoga practice.  Enjoy!


Monday, February 19, 2018

The sound of silence (sort of)

A lot of runners, particularly runners my age, can't imagine running without listening to something - music, a podcast, a book on tape.  Some actually prefer to only ever run without anything in their ears, using it as their opportunity to escape from the endless, endless input of information coming at us at all hours these days.

I fall somewhere in between.  If I'm not putting any particular thought into it, there's always a playlist I'd like to listen to (it helps me keep my pace up) or a podcast in my endless queue to be heard.  I have to remind myself that I actually not only like to run with nothing, but it's so unbelievably good for me and necessary for my brain. 

My word for 2018, Listen, is partly because in lieu of listening to my own brain (which is quite interesting all by itself), I feel constantly compelled to listen to something.  There is so much incredible material out there for consumption, and it's so easy to just let your headphones be glued to your ears for every single commute, every errand, every chore, every time you're not interacting with another human being (and even sometimes when you are).

As a result, I have a hard time remembering the simplest things, and when I suddenly stop all this input to do something like, say, meditate, my brain jumps at the chance to have a little free space, and that's when the planning and the processing of memories and the, "Remember we're out of apples!" all comes flying at me at once.

Running unplugged is unbelievably freeing.  Having the chance for my mind to wander - and yes, it spends a big chunk of the time planning and organizing and predicting - is so valuable to sanity.  I can keep my breath in a steady rhythm, pay deep attention to my form and to any little pains that might pop up, and it also gives my brain a chance to come up with brand new mantras for myself to push me through.  It may not have the relentlessly driving beat of Eminem, but it has something so much deeper.

If you aren't a runner, try an unplugged walk.  If you live in the city, you won't be treated to the sound of silence (unless you have fancy noise canceling headphones) but you'll be treated to the sound of something so much better - total, unfiltered you.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Beginning Again (and again and again and again)

For a yoga teacher, I'm sometimes a very inflexible person.  I can get extremely agitated, impatient, and ridiculously bent out of shape when faced with obstacles and detours in my path.  Injury, illness, obligations - these things have come and knocked my plans off the shelf many times. 

I always seem to have a sense that someday they won't - similar to the arrival fallacy in happiness research. (I'll be happy once I...fill in the blank).  It's that sense that someday I'll get to my starting line, and it'll be the last starting line I ever have because I'll go on a smooth, uninterrupted, lifelong streak of good health and complete control over my schedule.

I'm almost embarrassed to write that because it's so unbelievably laughable.

Life is interruption, chaos, disappointment, and adapting to what gets thrown at you.  It could be something profoundly huge and life altering like cancer, or something not so profound like a temporary injury or illness.  Pregnancy and new parenthood is a great way to introduce utter chaos and throw your expectations out the window.  Achieving your goal can be what sends you back to a place of beginning again - unless you're a professional athlete, you're probably not going to pop back up and run 18 miles the week after completing a marathon.  You back off, recover, and if it's still your passion - you begin again.

Even something like a work, family, or friend emergency that takes up time that you'd previously blocked up as yours will throw you off your best laid plans, your carefully drawn path, and in my case, your painstakingly OCD race training plan.  Time passes, fitness gets lost, and you're back to square one.

Is it the end of the world?  Of course not.  But for me at least, it is a lesson that needs to be learned over and over and over again, and a mental resilience and adjustment that constantly feels new.  I can get so rigid in my desires and expectations that I sometimes fall apart in the face of these adversities instead of sitting back and surrendering to circumstances out of my control - riding out the wave until I can grasp the reins again and take back over, at least for awhile.

I'm about to officially start training for what I hope to be a year of racing triumphs - the Brooklyn Half Marathon on May 19th, and my long awaited shot at the New York City Marathon on November 4th, both with my work wife and sole-sister Laura Frye by my side (check out her awesome YouTube channel to follow her running adventures!).  More than in any previous year, I'm building in injury prevention strategies to keep myself strong, mobile, and on top of any nagging issues before they become bigger issues.

This bout of the flu I recently recovered from pushed the start date two weeks, and it also (re)taught me the invaluable lesson that applies not just to fitness but pretty much everything - life requires the serenity prayer.  We need the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and most importantly, the wisdom to know the difference.  We need wisdom not to push ourselves when life is stepping in to tell us to take a different path, and we need wisdom to push ourselves when we're perfectly capable of hopping over an obstacle that shouldn't get in our way.

Life is a series of starting lines.  The closer I get to accepting that - with all due reverence to the holy Indigo Girls - the closer I am to fine.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Flu 2, Me 0

I was sooooo inspired and ready to go...

I've been knocked out of commission the last two weeks by a flu that just won't quit.  It wasn't the scary strain, I don't think - no hospital visits for me - but my last two weeks has basically been a cycle of sleep as much as possible, work, collapse on the couch with Breaking Bad, cough throughout, repeat.

Needless to say, it hasn't been a great breeding ground for blog inspiration - or inspiration of any kind, really, except for how freaking inspiring it is to watch the best show of all time again.

I'm still not 100%, but I made my first foray back into the land of the living today with a chill yoga class that was just my speed.

I'd really love to share the semi-restorative class which was the only thing I was able to bring my sick, exhausted body to practice the last couple of weeks - but first, get yourself a free trial of Yoga Glo - it's worth it!

This class, Get Grounded When Deeply Fatigued and Depletedis an absolute must for this flu season.  So sleep, hydrate, and wash your hands.  And if it attacks you - the only answer is to surrender to it.

Here's hoping I'll be back to my inspired and energized self soon!

Monday, January 15, 2018

Running Inspiration

This morning, I finally went out for a cold-weather run in the cold cold weather - wind chill of 8 degrees.  I think my mildly asthmatic lungs have finally adjusted to the absolute bitterness of the cold, and last week's brief holiday into the 50's finally swept away all the dangerous snow and ice.

Adding to that the burst of energy from being nearly halfway through Whole30 (and inspired by my husband's first time doing it) and the general optimism that flows through a New Year, and there was no way I wasn't dragging myself out of my warm bed for a run this morning.  It was freezing cold and the bottom part of my face felt numb by the end, but my God it also felt fantastic.


Aside from those things taking away any more excuses to get out there, I have been so deeply, deeply inspired recently by four great runners and people, all of whose praises I have sung on the blog before.  But it's my blog and I get to sing them again if I want to!

For starters on the running inspiration front, my beautiful friend Laura achieved her crazy goal of completing not only her very first marathon but the Goofy Challenge - aka a half marathon on a Saturday and a full marathon the very next day.  Check out her video recap (which I'm going to catch up on for myself tonight!) here, as well as a ton of other fun and inspiring videos about her running journey.

Then, my favorite podcast of all time, Two Gomers Run for Their Lives, came upon a momentous occasion yesterday!  One of the two Gomers finally achieved a goal they've had their eyes on for many years - to run a sub-5 hour marathon.  These guys have so deeply inspired and entertained me over the years, and their completely open and unselfish love and support of each other is a truly beautiful thing to behold.  They're also hilarious.  If you haven't already jumped on board the Gomer Nation, you absolutely have to listen to this podcast.  They're truly incredible people.

Finally, this weekend I saw my friend Lu give an absolutely thrilling performance that still gives me goosebumps when I think about.  She wrote and produced her own live Cabaret - The Big C Cabaret -  all about what she's gone through the last three and a half years from being ready to pursue her dream of acting in NYC, to being diagnosed with cancer, through treatment and side effects and obstacles I can't even begin to imagine overcoming - and overcoming them.  She has survived and is thriving.  She crushed the NYC Marathon this past November, as well as her fundraising goal for Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and on top of it all, her singing voice is out of this world.  She was luminous, and getting to experience her triumphant performance next to my wonderful husband and her wonderful husband, one of my oldest and most precious friends, just brings me to tears when I think about it.  Read Lu's beautifully written blog and follow her adventures here.


I think one of the most important lessons that I continually learn over and over about running and life is that you're usually just one inspiring story away from a better outlook, a better mood, and the ability to pick yourself up off the floor and move.  We have so much power over our own mood and health, even when we feel powerless with regards to other circumstances in our lives.  Sometimes we just need a little help from our friends.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Listen (2018)

The last three weeks feel like an eternity!  It's amazing how time never quite passes normally over December / early January for me.  The time in the city leading up to my visit down south seemed to fly at warp speed.  Being down with my sister and her kids was like heaven.  Exhausting, draining, heaven.  Each day is a billion years and two seconds long.

Coming back to the city, our first week was packed.  Work, in-laws visiting, New Year's celebrations, Whole30 prep, work, a snow-ish day, and finally - the absolute gift of a weekend.  A real, live weekend - two whole days just for me and for Marc, being productive on the stuff we needed to be productive on, and relaxing for a change.  (And also taking our very first boxing class, which was one of the most fun and brutal things ever)

So now we are back to reality, back to the blog, and having finally found time to catch my breath, get centered, and re-calibrate, I'm ready to tackle 2018.  We are on Day 7 of Whole30 - my fifth round, and Marc's very first.  He is rocking it so far, and already he's feeling and seeing changes in himself.  As anyone who's ever done Whole30 knows, it's a huge commitment and upheaval, and he's been 110% with it.  I'm really proud.

Although New Year's Day was just last Monday, it feels like it's been an eternity since then.  This morning, however, is flying by, so I will keep this New Year's inspired entry short and sweet.

For the past nine years, I've chosen one word or phrase as an intention for the year.  They've run the gamut, and had various degrees of success sticking in my consciousness throughout or having the sort of effect I hope.  I wasn't 100% confident in this word, until it was mentioned in my all-time favorite podcast, Two Gomers Run for Their Lives which you MUST check out now, in their New Year's episode when they shared their listener feedback for listener words of the year.  (They choose "one word"'s too) Hearing my podcast heroes affirm the value of my choice set it in stone.  Shallow and insecure?  Perhaps.  But whatever - I'll take it.

My word this year is Listen.  As I explained it in response to the Gomer survey:

I need to listen better to others rather than just waiting for my turn to talk. 

I need to listen to my body (hello injury prevention)

I need to listen to what I truly want and need instead of numbing with constant media consumption.


So there you go.  We'll see how I do, how it shapes little day and and day out actions and decisions, and what effect it may or may not have.  Anyone else do "one word" or "one phrase" intentions for the year?  I'm pretty sure I cribbed the idea from America's Queen, aka the one and only Oprah.

Happy 2018, everyone.  May it be better than the last!

Music Share - Aretha

Been playing this in my Prenatal and Mom & Baby classes since Thursday.  May we all have such strength and grace. RIP Queen.