Monthly Archives: January 2014

Birthday lessons.

Today marks the first birthday of the Half Ass Bad Ass (The blog, not the person). I can’t believe I’m still here, a year later. In the beginning I gave this thing a lifespan of 4 months before I got bored, or ran out of things to say. But here I am today, 52 Wednesdays later, still rambling 🙂

More impressive than 52 blog posts is that this means I’ve survived a year “on my own”. I say that very loosely as I’ve had all the continued support, love, and guidance I could ask for.  But most of you know that I started this blog as I wrapped up my incredible 12 weeks as a Rockstar, and so this was a place for me to document life and hold myself accountable as I re-entered “the real world” as this smaller, healthier version of myself. The last 52 weeks have been about me… living life as I now know it.

In trying to figure out how to eloquently put together my thoughts about this last year I was reminded of the lessons I’ve been learning. Many of them I have yet to achieve, but they are things I am working on. I hear them constantly and I know that at some point, they will all click. So to celebrate the last 12 months of my life, here are my 12 biggest lessons:

1. For as many times as you say “I’ll never ______”-  chances are you’re gonna try it. And you’ll probably up liking it. If for some reason you don’t hey, at least you have a reason. For all the bitching I did about yoga … it is now one of my favorite parts of the week. Seafood and I, on the other hand, will probably never have a loving relationship. New things are scary. Challenges are scary. The unknown is ABSOLUTELY PETRIFYING. But I’m learning that the scarier the challenge, the greater the reward is. The only regret I’ve had so far? That I didn’t try these things sooner.
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2. You can’t always measure success by a number on the scale. There are SO many other amazing ways to measure progress:  When push-ups no longer require your knees, fitting into a dress you haven’t worn in 3 years,  when you run a mile further than you did last week. The most important measure of success? It’s how you feel. When you wake up every day comfortable in your skin, feeling confident, feeling strong… well there’s just no number that speaks louder than that.

3. DO NOT try anything new on race day. On that same note, don’t show up at a race barely fueled and expect to feel good at the finish line (if you even make it there).

4. Food is not the enemy. Food is part of life, food is what makes you strong. You should never beat yourself up over a meal. Life is too short to not enjoy a donut with your buddy every now and then.

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5. Trust your training. Trust your body. Trust all the hard work you’ve put in. Trust those who believe in you. And most importantly- trust yourself that you can do it. Because without that last part, none of those other statements matter.

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6. Find your balance, whatever that may be. It’s easy to get caught up in training, paces, numbers and goals. Take a step back and breathe when it gets overwhelming. Focus on something else. When you start letting it consume you is when it stops being fun.

7. Bad runs happen. Bad races happen too. You get the car ride home to sulk and then it’s time to pull yourself together, wipe your tears, and pick a new goal to work towards.

8. Respect your body- both with what you do to it and how you speak of it. Fuel it properly, listen when it is giving you signs that you need a rest. Get massages. Stretch. And when you stand in front of the mirror, stop picking apart your imperfections. Those thighs and legs that you think are big and bulky? Think about the miles of abuse they put up with.  For all the shit they take, they deserve a little praise every now and then. Those stretch marks that seem like they stick out? They are the battle scars of a fight you (and your health) won. Be proud of your journey.

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9. The only person you should be competing against is yourself. When you spend all your time worrying about who is running faster and further you have no energy left to focus on your own goals.

10. There is no set time that passes, or one qualifying act that deems you “a real runner”. When lacing up your shoes fills you with a happiness words can’t describe, when you feel the burning desire to become better… you are a real runner.  When a run kicks your ass to the curb, but you get up the next day and try again… you are a real runner. Don’t ever say it with a ? at the end, with hesitation. Say it boldly, say it proudly, hold your head up high … “I am a runner.”

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11. In yoga we’re often told to find something in the room to keep us steady. This goes for life outside of yoga class as well. Find that something or someone that steadies you. Keeps you focused. Is there to lean on when you start to feel wobbly.

12. Remember the reason behind why you do this, why it’s important to you. Take a minute every day and remind yourself why you’re inspired, what it is that lights that fire in your soul. What better version of yourself to be than the best one possible? 🙂

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Running in circles (literally).

After my mini meltdown/rant last week I’m happy to report that I’m in a better place- both physically and mentally. After almost a month of continuous cold and flu like symptoms I better survive the rest of this winter illness free. My energy is back, and I’m finally back to all of my regularly scheduled workouts. And just when I needed a little reminder of “Keep doing what you’re doing” I found myself talking with two people that I look up to and trust. Their knowledge, wisdom, and experience helped me defog a little bit of what’s been going on in my brain, helped me see the bigger picture, and brought me back some much needed focus and drive. I don’t say it enough how thankful I am to have those kinds of people in my life. Yes, I’m in a much better place.

And now that I’m feeling back up to speed I’m ready to focus on some goals. I’ve been slowly putting together my race calendar for the year. It’s turning out to be a nice mix of some repeat races (the competitor in me wants to destroy my newbie times from last year) as well as some new ones to look forward to (to challenge that inner badass, of course). Oh and did I forget to mention that somewhere in that mix I’m getting MARRIED? Clearly I have a hard time sitting still.

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My first order of business is a 10 Miler next month.. with a time goal. Just saying that out loud raises my heart rate slightly. Now let’s be real here- when I say “time goal” don’t let that lead you to believe I’m gonna bang this out in 45 minutes. I’m not attempting to perform any miracles. But it’s definitely a goal that’s going to push me for last inch of those ten miles. Any races of substantial “distance” I’ve run have been purely survival. In fact, if you happened to be that poor person stuck with me for those last few miles of my first half marathon you might refer to it as a painful crawl. I’ve just come to the acceptance that my body can actually run 10 miles and now you want me to do it …faster?

In preparation of my new goal, and the overall theme of “Operation Make Kathleen Faster” something new has appeared on my weekly schedule… TRACK WORKOUTS. I was both giddy and panicked when I saw it written on my training plan for the first time. Giddy because I’ve always envied the friends and runners with their workout of mysterious numbers. (Side note: never imagined being a runner would require so much math?) And panicked as all hell because I knew this meant this was going to be of those “time to get uncomfortable” events.

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A beautiful day for a workout… right?

We headed down to the track for my first workout in the pouring rain. I took it as a sign from the running gods that they were either tears of sympathy for the pain I was about to endure, or tears of laughter at how bad I was going to mess this up. The first lap made me want to curl up in a ball by the chain-link fence. My lungs felt like they were bursting out of my body. That feeling of “isn’t being a slow runner so nice and comforting?” filled my head. Before I could get my breath back to a steady pattern the watch beeped signaling that my recovery time was over. You’ve got to be shitting me.

And we were off again. I didn’t talk, didn’t cough… I tried not to even BLINK so that I could focus all my energy. With each lap that I finished I felt a little more accomplished. A little stronger. Maybe even a teeny bit faster? On the last one I was tired, so sick of my lungs burning, so ready to be done. But I saw the line ahead of me and knew that I couldn’t quit now (Mostly because I feared the wrath if I stopped). As we headed home I felt absolutely exhausted, but in a good way. First track workout… done. Now let’s make me a faster runner.

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soaking wet but so damn proud of myself.

A balancing act.

If you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all.

We’ve heard this saying over and over again our entire lives. As much as I try to practice it let’s be honest- I’m a girl, and sometimes I can be a total bitch. So what happens when you write a weekly personal blog and quite frankly, don’t have anything nice to say? What happens when things get personal, and you realize you’re writing to an unknown audience (Or even worse, people you know!)? Do you just skip a blog day? Post an empty page? Or do you make up some sunshine-and-happiness-bs, post an inspirational quote, and pretend like you’re fine?

Ever since my first post I’ve tried to write in the confines of “keeping it nice”. I never want this to be a space of doom and gloom, whining, and looking for sympathy. But at the same time- I made a promise to myself that I’d always keep it real. I’m not going to tell you how glorious I feel if in reality I just want to crawl in bed and eat my weight in mac ‘n cheese. Trust me- you’ll know.

So I’m getting personal here. Spilling my deep dark thoughts. I’ve been feeling pretty half ass lately. Definitely not working to my full potential. My workouts have been off, but with reason: I’ve been sick (yes, the same god damn cold that I’ve had since Christmas Eve), my shins had been really inflamed, and the Polar Vortex struck earth. All logical reasons as to why I haven’t been able to do what I normally do. But in my head, they sound like a bunch of excuses. And excuses landed me where I was two years ago. I can’t tell you the amount of times I’ve heard that I’m never going to get better unless I slow down, or that I need to let my shins recover, or that I just need to take a rest day. But in my twisted head, rest days are a sign of weakness. In my mind a day off is going to spiral into the Kathleen who used to go to the gym on Monday, take Tuesday off, and by Wednesday was back at square one. I can’t stop, won’t stop, because quite simply I’m terrified of what will happen when I do.

So while I pushed through the sickness, and the shin pain, and the freezing cold, I could see the spiral happening. When I quit my swim workout in frustration that I couldn’t even make it a half mile without a break, I knew something was wrong. And when what was supposed to be a 4 mile tempo run put me into crying hysterics, the red flag came up. This isn’t okay, this isn’t normal. But what do you do when the thing that you love and is your de-stresser in life.. is stressing you out?

I headed to yoga Sunday morning hoping to quiet my mind and soothe my tired body. But I found myself fumbling through warrior pose, and that quiet time at the end when you’re supposed to lie all still and relaxed? I am surprised the entire room couldn’t hear my thoughts.

For the past year and a half I’ve been on a whirlwind of a journey, there’s no denying it. My body is different, my mindset is different, even my soul feels different. Before I even finish one goal I’m thinking about the next. It’s no wonder I’m exhausted. I’m sure the trained professionals and those who read my blog but can’t stand me (I know you’re out there…I’m a bitch too remember?) have been waiting for the inevitable crash.

I have to keep reminding myself that I’m still new to this world. Still testing my little runner legs. There’s so much out there I want to learn, and do, and prove to myself and I’ll get there eventually. But I need to find my way, find my balance.

So here’s to a new week. Clear(er) lungs. Shins that are frozen not from the Polar Vortex, but from the ice massages I’ve been faithfully giving myself. Here’s to taking it one step at a time. To listening to my body when it needs a break. To trusting those who know best. Here’s to finding my balance so that this world I’ve discovered lasts me a lifetime.

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New year, new challenges

Ever since “Operation Make Kathleen Faster” was put into effect I’ve been feeling like I have a lot more pep in my (running) step. A new driving force. An end result to strive for. While I’ve been getting to know this “new self” of mine I’ve come to learn that I am a much more productive (and happier) runner when I have something I’m working towards. It gives me something to visualize when I want to stop. I like having a schedule of workouts, I like carefully transcribing them into my log book, I like counting my mileage and being able to check things off…. I just really like training. Is this normal? Do most runners? Am I just in the honeymoon phase? Guess we’ll find out eventually.

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Favorite part of the week… adding up my miles.

With this surge of energy I was pretty excited for the first race of the year. It’s just a small, local 5K but last year I set a pretty big PR for myself that even today, I’m still not sure how I managed to pull off. A year later, some actual training, and I figured I’d cruise across the finish line hours ahead of my previous time (Slight exaggeration, obviously).

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Fiancee thinks he’s funny and decided to add his own artwork to the picture he snagged at the race last year.

And then the week prior to the race life happened… of course all at once. I got sick- nothing life altering but enough to have me checking to see if I threw a lung up after every run. (I still managed to get my long run in while sick, and in the freezing rain/snow. Dedicated? Bad Ass? Mentally insane? Verdict’s still out on that one). Simultaneously we were hit with some of those charming New England features of black ice patches, negative wind chills, and a decent sized snowstorm. Oh and the icing on the cake? Those lovely shin splints have decided to grace me with their presence again. Between the weather, my constant hacking, and my nagging “shin bumps” I was forced to take a few days off. And it. was. TORTURE. There was a day when I would get angry that swimming or bootcamp made it onto one of my “rest days” and suddenly one day of complete and total rest threw me into a frenzy. When did that happen?

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Womp womp. Go away shin splits, you’re not welcome here.

So while I shouldn’t have been expecting miracles on race day there was still a teeny part of me that wanted to impress myself. I’m still trying to learn that not all races can, or will, end in PRs. Not every race can be your best. And while in my head I was hoping I would fly like a little Kenyan it took not even a mile for me to realize that wasn’t gonna happen. Between the cold, the wind, my cough, and my shins I was pretty miserable. It was an out and back and it seemed like only seconds before I saw the first runners heading in (How was that even possible?). They made it look so easy, like they were just breezing by. I eventually hit the turn around as well and told myself I just had to make it back and it would all be over. I passed the walkers who looked so happy chatting and laughing as they went and for a split second- that looked so good to me. As quickly as the thought entered my head I shut it out. I remembered that burning desire of wanting to be better. “Shut it and run” I growled.

The course ended up being super short (barely over 3 miles) so on paper it looks like I flew, but I can’t rightfully claim it as a PR. It was however, a very real and painful reminder that this is going to take a lot of work. And it’s not going to happen overnight. Suddenly, I’m reminded of being overweight. I remember all those diets and quick fixes that seemed ideal at the time. I remember spending 10 minutes on the elliptical and expecting to immediately be 10 pounds lighter. I remember looking at the overall amount of pounds I wanted to lose and feeling incredibly overwhelmed at how long it was going to take me. But I did it. It didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of hard work, every single day. Same concept, new goal. I’m not going to wake up one morning and be a better runner. It’s going to take time. It’s going to be hard, and it’s going to hurt sometimes. But as the saying goes, nothing worth having comes easy. I’ve been here before. I’ve worked hard for what I want. So I’ll do it again. One lung bursting step at a time.

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Oh MilePost, it’s like you know exactly what to say at the right time.