Monthly Archives: February 2014
I’ve never been good at sitting still (Which is an interesting trait for someone who became so sedentary and overweight? Moving on…). Friday afternoons in college my roommate and I would put on a movie (usually Mean Girls) for “nap time”. She would immediately fall asleep and I would watch the entire movie…while organizing my desk. I’m the kind of person who claims I just want a weekend with nothing to do.. and by 10am Saturday I’m bored to tears. As exhausting as it can get, I secretly crave schedules and to do lists and structure. So it didn’t come as a shock when a few days into my “running vacation” I was regretting my decision. I saw this coming a mile away.
As exhausted and burnt out as I was, I’m missing running. And training. Maybe, just maybe, there’s even a part of me that misses those miserable track workouts. I’ve been thriving off challenges and accomplishments for such a long period of time that I’ve forgotten how to just be. I miss feeling challenged. Running for fun… without my watch? Without knowing my pace? Without my iPod? Without a plan? What’s that like? I understand that all “athletes” have an off season, but it’s still hard for me to comprehend what I should do and how I should feel. My poor fiancee has been dealing with one cranky and fire-y roommate for the past few weeks. PMS? Nope- this lady just misses her runs. What makes it even more frustrating is that it seems like no one understands what I’m feeling- or they think I’m crazy and just can’t make up my mind about what I want. Which is probably true. The grass is most certainly greener on the other side.
I know this sounds ridiculous but for every day that goes by without running and training I feel like a little piece of my “runner” title is slipping away. And it scares me. That title that I have been working so very hard for. I finally felt like I could rightfully call it mine, and now I can feel it slipping through my fingers like a handful of sand.
To try and counteract this feeling I’m trying to focus all this energy and confusion and pour it into my “athlete” title. I tell myself that for every day I leave my running shoes in their cubby my shins are healing themselves. Every pose I struggle to hold in yoga is stretching those muscles that have been so overused the last few months. Every lap in the pool helps me fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow. A workout is a workout.. even if my skin now permanently smells like Chlorine. I’m telling myself that everything I’m doing now is going to help me be a better runner in the long run.
And that’s where in the cloud of confusion and tears and bitchiness the smoke clears and one thing becomes very clear: I flipping love running. This break isn’t making it go away- it’s only making my love stronger. It is officially a part of my life for good. When my training plan and I finally reunite you bet your ass we’re gonna hug it out— and then we’re gonna work like we never worked before.
Until then I’ll be here… being impatiently patient.
Running can be like a drug. It’s addictive. It makes you feel good (for the most part). It’s habit forming… in all the right ways. So what happens when you take that drug away from your daily routine? I’m about to find out.
But before we get into life without running I should back track a few days. Before my official “running vacation” could begin I still had that damn 10 Miler. We had been talking about this race since October, I had been training for it for the last few months and yet -all I wanted was for it to disappear. I went back and forth contemplating if I should just throw in the towel and give up my number. But since I had put in the work (as half ass as some of it had been) I decided I should at least show up and see what I could do.
This was the race that was cancelled last year due to a snow storm (I was supposed to run the 5K) so when I woke up in the morning to several inches of white stuff on the ground and a two hour delay I should have known what I was in for. As we headed to number pick up rumors were flying that the 10 miler had been dropped to a 10K and sure enough- they were true. Just a half hour before the race the police had decided to shorten the race to just two laps of the 5K route. While most runners were groaning and complaining I felt a sense of relief. I may have shown up with my number on and a smile on my face, but I knew inside those 10 miles were going to be a complete disaster.
I unloaded my fuel and extra layers and got out of the 10 mile mentality. 6 is easy-peasy. As the gun went off and we headed out I realized that 6 is easy peasy… when you are not running in the frozen tundra. As I slipped and slid my way through the street trying to make a break from the other runners I realized that my watch wasn’t working. DAMMIT. I panicked and reset it, hoping that it would pick up a signal quickly. After a quarter of a mile I gave up and clicked it off, turned up my playlist and dug in. “Let’s get this over with”.
The impact of the unpaved streets was killing not only my shins, but the rest of my body as well. Every step forward felt like two steps back. I kept telling myself “As soon as you cross that finish line you’re done. You get your break.”Ahead I saw the 3 mile mark which you could cross and keep going, or turn in and finish the 5K. I took the turn. I crossed the finish line, grabbed my medal and walked away with my tail between my legs. That moment right there is why I am taking a break.
I gave myself a few seconds to pout and then something happened… I was over it. There was no sense in being upset about a race that was out of my control from the minute I got out of the car. It was done and over with. And looking back, I think that the events of that day unfolded in a way that proved once again that everything happens for a reason. Clearly the running gods knew I didn’t have it in me to run 10 miles that day. I took my medal and my race blanket (At least the swag made up for all the defective race) and I made myself cozy in the car. I told myself that the next finish line I cross will be without snow, or negative wind chills, and with a much better attitude.
And so running vacation begins. I’m trying to jam pack my next few weeks with more yoga, more bootcamp and a whole lot more swimming to keep myself active and occupied. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a shock because I know that it’s human nature to fill the void of one addiction with another. But so far I’m feeling good with my decision. It is however, only day 3.
We need to talk.
I want to start off by saying it’s not you, it’s me. You’re great. In the year and half that we’ve been seeing each other you’ve been nothing but a source of freedom, a breath of fresh air, and the kick in the butt that I so desperately needed. You’ve given me some great new friends, a new found confidence, and a pair of completely remodeled legs. You have proven me wrong time and time again.
Until recently. For some reason this thing that we’re doing: track workouts, tempo runs, long runs, easy runs… it’s not working for me right now. I’m burnt out, I’m not happy, and I know my performance has been less than stellar. You don’t deserve that. And neither do I. Which is why I think that it would be best for all parties involved if we take a break for a little while.
I want you to know that this decision wasn’t easy. It brought me to tears (Which I know isn’t a hard thing to do but it means I’m emotionally attached to you). And I have to admit- I’m a little nervous to not have you a part of my daily routine. I’m scared that I’ll lose my endurance, that this base I’ve worked so hard to build will disintegrate, and there’s a big part of me that’s petrified the weight will creep back in your absence. I feel like a teenage girl going through a breakup even though I know this isn’t goodbye. I’m not sure how long of a break I need, but I’m confident I will know when the moment is right. And hopefully it won’t be too long. You and I have done some absolutely incredible things together and we’re going to keep doing those things. I want to do things even MORE incredible with you, I want you to blow all my doubts and insecurities out of the water. But if we’re going to keep making magic together I need a rest. My legs are tired, my lungs are tired, my heart is tired.
Part of me feels like I’m giving up, I’m letting it beat me. I feel like I’m letting myself and those who believe in me down, and that right there is a terrible feeling. This break certainly feels a lot more half ass than it does bad ass. But as hard as it is, I know that this means I am making my first real decision as an “athlete”. I know that in order for this to be a life long relationship we’ve got to go at it slow and steady.
So I’m turning the watch off for a bit. I’m tucking my training log book up on a shelf for now. I’m going to see other people – bootcamp, yoga and swimming. Let’s reconnect at the track again when the snow has melted and there isn’t a negative wind chill jeering behind me. Let’s talk about half marathons when I’m mentally ready for redemption. Let’s get back to that place where it was just you, me, a quiet street and a kick ass playlist. Let’s recreate that feeling of invincibility, of weightlessness, of joy that only you can give me. We’ll meet back up where we were first introduced: down by the beach where the angry ocean leaves sand on my path, where I feel like I’m the first person to see the sunrise, and where the salt air fills my burning lungs. I’ll be the girl in neon.
I’ll see you soon.
I wish that I was sitting here writing a post about how awesome “Operation Make Kathleen Faster” is going. As I said a few weeks ago, it’s much easier to write the good posts than the bad ones. It’s easier to talk about the positives, when you’re getting it done, when you feel on top of the world. Admitting how hard something is feels weak, whiny, pathetic. So I’m sitting here writing a blog post about how my training has been going — and it ain’t pretty. It sucks. It’s hard. There have definitely been some breakdowns and tears. I haven’t talked much about my upcoming race here or in person because to be quite honest, I’m not the least bit excited for it. I’m dreading it. I feel like my goal is completely out of my reach and I know how disappointed I’m going to be if I don’t make it. I also know that if you go into a race thinking you can’t do it you won’t be able to … but that isn’t helping me turn off the negativity switch.
Working to get faster sounded fantastic in my head until I actually had to put on my shoes and do it. I knew it would be hard but I guess I didn’t know what “hard” actually meant. I’ve never been an athlete, this concept of pushing myself towards physical goals is still vague and unclear. I will fully admit that I don’t think I had any idea of what I was getting myself into.
Even after two lessons at the track I was still apprehensive about attempting the workout on my own. After painfully watching the clock all day there was nothing left to do but quit whining and get it done. As painful as it was the first two times… it was 10 times worse on my own. The workout wasn’t in my watch correctly, and because I had to change the units to kilometers I couldn’t figure out my pace so I just ran until it hurt. I’d finish each lap gasping for air with no idea if I was doing it correctly and I kept saying to myself “How many left? I’ve got to be at least half way by now”. I don’t know what made me keep going-but it took every last ounce of willpower I had to not click off my watch and head back to the car. Finally the long awaited “Congrats- you survived!” sound chimed and instead of being proud that I survived I felt defeated and miserable. I wanted out. Tears hurt so much more when its 15 degrees and windy.
I don’t know why I can’t get out of my own head, why I don’t have that gene that makes me want to push through the pain. My brain is so quick to say “This hurts. This is hard. This doesn’t feel good. Let’s stop”. In the breakdown of my breakdown at the track I was asked the question “Why am I doing this?” (Trying to get faster, not why am I being a wimp). For the girl who usually has an answer and a wise ass comment to everything … I had nothing.
With some mild weather and some free time to myself I decided to head down to one of my favorite beach combing spots. As I hunted for sea glass and driftwood I thought all this over. My mind raced with a thousand thoughts and questions. Losing the weight didn’t happen overnight- it was hard and painful and yet I was patient (at least from what I remember). I worked through the pain because I knew the end result was worth it. So why is this so hard for me? Why can’t I be patient and work through this? Part of me wonders who the hell I’m trying to fool acting like I’m some athlete. I haven’t been one my whole life- why am I trying now? Why can’t I just be happy that I’ve picked up running and be content with my slow-ass half marathon time? Why can’t I just go for a run without a time or a pace in mind and just be happy running? What’s making me want to set these (what seem to be) un-obtainable goals? And what is making me get up and do this day after day? If I woke up tomorrow and decided to quit there would be no one to stop me. No one is forcing me to do this – it’s all on me.
I’m sure there’s a large group of you who were able to relate with me on being overweight, and parts of the weight loss journey. And maybe there are some of you who understand this “fine tuning”… but I totally understand if you don’t. You may be reading this and wondering why the girl can’t just shut up and be happy with what she’s accomplished. That’s okay- because I’m wondering the same thing. And you may be thinking that there are bigger problems than how fast you run and again- you’re absolutely correct. But at the same time I think we all struggle with some kind of internal debate. And this right here is my beast for the time being. If I could only find a reason as to why I’m holding onto it…