I’m quitting quitting

I’m a quitter. I freely admit it. I hope you have your reading glasses on, and don’t quit on me. Because this post is loooooong. What can I say? I have like 9 months to atone for.

It all goes back to my childhood. I quit trying to be an older sibling, so I ended up an only child. When I was a young swimmer, I switched events because my friend started beating me. I figured, if I’m not doing that event anymore, she isn’t really beating me.

Then in college, when I did horribly in Chemistry my first semester, I quit on my dream to become a doctor. Because it was too hard, and because I was no longer the best at schooling. I was used to basically just breathing and getting straight A’s. In college- not so much. So I just switched to a major that I couldn’t fail at. And I ended up in law school. Where all my greatest dreams came true. Ummmmm.

When I took up running, I was finally doing something that I felt I could succeed at again. Because I didn’t excel as a collegiate swimmer or a future doctor or even a future lawyer (though somehow I ended up with a JD and a job). I hadn’t ever run a half marathon before, so my first half was a PR. And then my second, and my third, and so on. Then I picked up marathon running, and that resulted in PR’s. Until one day it didn’t. One day, when I knew I hadn’t put in the work and I went out too fast, I saw a non-PR on the horizon. So I quit. I walked, and I jogged, and I walked, then I came up with some lame excuse. And promised myself I wouldn’t quit again.

Then motherhood came along. And I learned how you can’t quit. You can’t just stop waking up for your baby, you can’t lay down and cry when she is sick and needs you. You can’t stop going to work when it’s too hard, or let your baby stick her finger in an electrical outlet. It just ain’t gonna happen- unless you want someone to call the authorities on you.

I started training for a marathon when SuperGirl was about 7 months old. And guess what? I didn’t quit. I finished within about 5 minutes of my PR, which I considered pretty good for someone who had to pump then strap on two bras in order to go out for a long run. I felt like maybe my luck had changed.

But then I messed up my shoulder and had two surgeries in the first 18 months of SuperGirl’s life, and it all kind of spiraled down from there. I couldn’t get my groove back. Gosh, I so feel for Stella. I dabbled in stuff- bootcamp here, cycle there, running shorter distances. Then I got pregnant and it was like “YES, I have an excuse not to train as hard or an explanation for why I didn’t PR.” Can you believe that crap?

I ran a half when I was pregnant with SuperBoy, and it was so liberating running for a pregnancy PR. I had no real time to beat, so it was such an enjoyable experience. I PR’d a 10k at 28.5 weeks pregnant, because I had never run a 10k (that distance is the WORST bt dubs). I did not really run during my pregnancy with SuperToddler, because I was nursing a back injury and decided to take up Crossfit instead. Huh? That totally makes sense.

Doing Crossfit during that pregnancy was awesome because everything was so NEW! Double unders! Box jumps! Snatches! Thrusters (DEVIL!!!) Being pregnant, kicking ass and taking names- it felt so good. I was on top of the world again. I was THAT woman Crossfitting with a very noticeable baby bump, and everybody noticed my fat ass waddling around the building carrying a sand bag. It felt good to be the best at being pregnant and exercising. HOW DUMB IS THAT???

After having SuperGirl I was convinced I would bounce right back and finally do an unassisted pullup – because seriously, trying to learn how to do an unassisted pullup for the first time ever, when you weigh 20 pounds more than normal, it’s not that easy. I would crush my back squat and deadlift PR’s because those were pregnancy PR’s and everybody knows that you have to hold back when pregnant. Right? Well I let the proverbial cart get ahead of the horse, and injured myself again and again. Have we discussed where I can purchase a nice bubble to reside in? Preferably one made by Lululemon? I’ll even settle for Athleta. Or that Ivy Park crap from Queen Bey.

 

I’ve spent the better part of a year learning how to accept my body’s limitations. I’m not 25 anymore, I’m 29. Ok, not really, but the point is that I am no longer a nubile young 25-year-old. I am fairly certain that SuperToddler broke my body and she’s very VERY lucky she’s so cute and sleeps 13 hours a night, because otherwise I would be super pissed. My thyroid tanked, I am a good 15 pounds over my normal fighting weight, my other hormonal dealio things are whacked (I blame ‘roids- not the fun make you super ripped kind, but the “I have pneumonia” or “my neck is screwed” kind), and my spine is definitely a wonderland. So where do I go from here?

For starters, I have been channeling my inner competitor at Flywheel since last spring. There is this Torqboard that is fantastic/horrible for maniacs like myself. You can see how you stack up to your competition, or you can elect not to participate in the board, in which case you are only competing against yourself. That’s cool I guess, but I would rather see your name in lights (unless you are beating me). SuperDad is concerned that this is only further fueling the fire that is my competitive psychosis, but I disagree, sorta. Yeah, I get very wrapped up in my score. But I also try to learn new ways to improve. I listen to my body, and when it’s sore, I just do what I can. I figure out different ways to engage my abs, my hamstrings, my BOOTY, and even my feet! It has made me so much stronger in so many ways. There are SO many times I have wanted to quit, and I’ve only followed through with quitting like 20% 40% of the time. That’s better than 100%, right? Throw me a bone here.

Although the status of my neck is still up in the air (read: I may need another surgery. I know, I don’t want to talk about it), I have decided to give myself an attainable goal to work toward. I am going to Vancouver to run the Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon  this August. I will get to meet some amazing ladies that have helped me get through the past year. Seriously, some of the kindest, funniest, most incredible people I have ever had the pleasure of “meeting” in the way we 21st century earthlings meet. I can’t wait to snuggle them and braid their hair and spend alllll the monies on French pastries (do they have those in Vancouver? Because they should) and poutine and special edition Lulu goodies that we will camp out for. Because we are legit crazy.

And that is what is going to keep me from quitting. This is I want to experience so badly. Meeting people who I have laughed and cried with, running, partying, doing the yoga thang, shopping, and seeing THIS (that’s Vancouver right? Cuz I googled Vancouver and this image appeared)!

Van

Will I get a PR? Probably not. Will I quit? Nope. I’m done quitting. Which I guess makes me a quitter still.

 

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How to live in the present

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you ever heard these quotes? Or seen the Wikihow page on 7 steps to “live in the moment”? Gurus and philosophers, therapists and motivational speakers; they are always espousing the idea that you can’t live in the past or the future- you have to live in the present. That’s all well and good, but I can’t live in the present unless I can look toward the future.

I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately, as you may have noticed by my lack of activity here. Not being able to do all the things I like to physically has been emotionally taxing on me. I quickly resigned myself to a life of water aerobics, Instagram, and Words with Friends. But I found a way to live in the moment, by spending more time with my family, watching SuperBaby learn to do awesome new things every day, and helping Super Girl with her new blog .

My back isn’t completely fixed now, but it seems to be getting somewhat better. I have been trying to ease back into things but that never really goes that well for me because I don’t like to lose. Although I am not planning on doing any 50 mile rides or 15 mile runs in the near future, I decided that every day I would just try to figure out what I am feeling up to, and then give it a try (so long as it fit into the family schedule of course). For instance, a quick 18 miles on my bike after work last Friday. On Saturday, I did the same insane circuit/Crossfit-ish/bootcamp class that had all the jump roping last time. I know you all think I am crazy and did not learn my lesson, but I reminded myself that the class is different every week and I can modify. The most recent class had five stations, one minute each. After all five stations, you do one minute of shuttle runs, then go back to the first station. Repeat the whole thing six times.

1) modified handstand pushup. The handstand pushup is pretty big in Crossfit. I have no upper body muscles and little balance or coordination, so I did the version where your knees are on a box. No back problems there.

2) Russian Kettle Bell Swings with 20 lb kettlebell. I did more of a modified American swing, becasue the Russian version engages your core and glutes more, and I was concerned it would bother my back. However, with the American version, you go all the way overhead, which is not so awesome for my right shoulder, which I had operated on twice in 2011.

3) Burpees

4) Chest press with 20 lbs dumbbells

5) Wall balls with a 15 lbs. ball

By the end of class, my shoulders were toast.

I also got a spin class in on Sunday and a ride indoors on my road bike on Monday. My parents got me an early birthday present, this sweet Cycelops Fluid2 Trainer, plus some training dvd’s and other accessories. I have been eyeing this trainer for a while, but couldn’t throw down the cash to buy it because I spend all my money at lululemon am saving up for a minivan/the kids’ college/Disneyworld. So far, the verdict is that it’s a great trainer, but riding on it is soooooo boring. I didn’t watch the dvd though, so that’s probably part of the problem. The thought of going for three hours on it makes me want to fall asleep as I type.

Even though I have gotten some decent workouts in and have tried some new things, I just feel like I’m kind of in an athletic rut because I’m not really training for anything. It makes me live in the past, where I think about when I could just throw on my shoes and go knock out 8 miles like it was nothing. There’s no way I can do the Pinehurst Tri as I had originally planned for early October, because my back is not well enough for me to do more than 20 miles on the bike without me having complete foot numbness for 24 hours thereafter. I also haven’t run longer than 2 minutes consecutively since July. Finally, we don’t even want to go into the disaster that has been my swimming training, because once I realized I was not going to be able to do Pinehurst, I just completely sacked my pool time. Why smell like chlorine when you don’t have to, right?

I decided that a reasonable goal would be to do the last Rex Wellness Sprint Tri on October 13. It is super short and a good compromise because it gives me a goal I can look forward to, but I won’t have to kill myself to get the end result of another triathlon under my belt. It also gives me an excuse to carb load on October 12. Plus, even though I have not been swimming at all, there still should be no more than a minute difference between myself and the top female swimmer (my sister-in-law). She has been doing masters swimming, which involves yardage that I would only do if you held a gun to my head. So yeah, if you put us head-to-head in a 1500, she would be showered and blow-dried by the time I got out of the pool. But a 250, I can handle that 🙂 It’s also a short enough bike and run that it shouldn’t be too taxing on my back. I say this now, but I’ll potentially be walking with a cane on Turkey Day.

So there you have it- all it took was me realizing that I just kind of flounder without something on the horizon that I can look forward to (vacation, birth of a baby, Christmas, a race). You may say that I’m not living in the moment, but I need the promise of the future to help me live in the now. Is that cheesy? Yes. Massively queso-fied. But it’s true. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to need goals to help us enjoy each minute of every day, to understand what the purpose is of each workout, or realize that one day your child will start kindergarten so you may want to work on him/her giving up the pacifier at some point before age 5 (not my kid). What are your goals? Do you live in the present, past, or future?

Temporary insanity

I haven’t run in a week. The downside: it’s making me a little crazy and unmotivated to blog because I don’t get the same satisfaction from just riding my bike. The upside: I am spending more time on my bike, which is clearly my weakest of the triathlon disciplines.

Why haven’t I run in a week? Because for the past several weeks, my left calf and foot have been getting that weird numb and tingly feeling that you get right before or after your leg falls asleep. And my foot has felt swollen to the point where if I wear a shoe that’s at all constricting, it really hurts. I thought that it was just an issue with how I was lacing my shoes, as the weird sensation would kind of go away after an hour or so. But over time, I have noticed that I have that numb and tingly sensation all the time. I asked a friend, who is the world’s greatest orthopedic physician’s assistant, about my symptoms via facebook. He immediately pointed me to this article on the interwebs about chronic exertional compartment syndrome. The symptoms fit me pretty much to a tee, which is not atypical when I google physical ailments. But since I did not initiate the googling in this case, I think I have legitimate reason for concern.

My PA friend suggested I take one two weeks off of running. I thought I could slide by with one but he called me out on it on facebook. That’s what you get when you overshare about your exercise habits. This feels like an eternity. I really felt like I was starting to make some headway improving my speed and stamina, but I’d rather lose a bit of ground that have my calf cut open. Or pay the surgical and anesthesia fees associated with said calf cutting. So far, I have not had any abatement of my symptoms.

I decided to push my international distance triathlon to October 5. It will be in Pinehurst, which is much hillier than White Lake, which I had originally intended. I want to give myself plenty of time to recover from whatever is going on with my left leg and foot, plus with all the hill training here in the Triangle, I should have an advantage over any flatlanders who come from Wilmington. Right? Right?

Instead of running, I have decided to concentrate on my cycling, and have done a 34 mile outdoor ride. It was my first ride over 25 miles so I feel a little better about doing 30 miles during my next tri. I think our average was 18.5 mph including stops for traffic lights, and I was not at all tired afterward, so I can’t complain. I am really just trying to figure out what gear I am most comfortable in while on the flats, and how hard I can push myself for 20 miles, 30, 40, etc. I finally had a professional fit me on my bike, had aerobars put on, and got new carbon pedals which I am in LOVE with. A tri bike is not in my immediate future unless someone would like to generously sponsor me, so I am doing the best with what I have. At least it’s not a mountain bike!

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Last night I did Insanity at the Cary YMCA. That workout seriously is very appropriately named. What kind of lunatic would/could do this every day? I seriously wanted to quit after warmup. No weights involved other than your body weight, but very little rest. I had such a massive puddle of sweat beneath me, I almost slipped and busted my face open on the gym floor. It was really attractive. This morning I could barely get out of bed I was so sore. I think it will be a nice little cross training activity that I will try to do every other week, after I have tapered for like 3 days. I just need to make sure I bring lots of towels next time. An an oxygen tank.

Tonight I have a swim/spin brick on tap. I have not been in the pool at all since the Triangle Tri, unless you include holding Super Baby in our community pool and trying to keep him from submerging himself underwater repeatedly. The kid thinks he is either David Blaine or Michael Phelps. I am not sure. For my heart’s sake, I hope he is the latter. I am giving myself the excuse that most people who do tris are just barely able to stay afloat, so I have that natural advantage. But when it comes down to it, 1500 meters two months from now are really going to suck if I don’t buckle down. Plus, the women who are beating me in my age group are super hardcore and are legit in the water. I am hoping they train at least five days a week, so that once I start swimming more than twice a month, I will start destroying them. Ha.

Getting back to my temporary insanity (Insanity workout unrelated), I am really just trying to listen to my body because if I am going to complete almost 3 hours of activity in October, then I need to be close to 100%. Granted, I have run for over 3 hours in my marathons in the past, but this is a whole new ballgame. Being unable to run, even if it is only temporary, takes away my security blanket since running is something I know how to do, and I can do it pretty much anywhere, regardless of what is going on with the weather. So I need to know what you triathletes do when you can’t run? What are your favorite cross-training activities? And how much strength training do you do? I feel like I am really dropping the ball in that area and don’t know if I should be just going to the gym and lifting or if doing a class with high reps/low weights is enough.

Hope everyone has a good weekend. I am planning to ride FIFTY miles on Sunday, just for fun, so I will let you know if I survive!

I suck at yoga…

I also suck at anything involving balance. For instance, a balanced diet, balancing my checkbook, balancing home life versus work life (I am not entirely to blame for this one, as Super Dad and I work at the same place), balancing on my road bike well enough to merely lift a hand to signal to my other cyclists that there is a pile of glass or a pothole they should avoid, and the biggest balance issue facing most runner/triathlete moms: how do I balance my bizarre exercise needs with my family’s schedule? I don’t want our family schedule to revolve 100% around me- 75% would suffice- but I also want us to have some flexibility to enjoy the pool or go out to dinner just because.

DISCLAIMER: This is a REALLY, REALLY, obnoxiously long post. It’s not for the faint of heart. I have 7 months worth of venting to do, so grab some Nuun hydration and read on if you like.

Ok, let’s back this train up. When willrunforbiscuits started, I was all about running. Otherwise the blog name wouldn’t make much sense. I have been all about running pretty much since I graduated from college and decided I would be done with swimming FOREVER. I was that burned out on the sport. I dabbled in some kickboxing and pilates, but realized that my diet of biscuits and gelato were probably better suited to fuel a long distance runner. Cue five marathons, zero swimming, zero triathlons, zero cycling.

I made it a goal to run a marathon between each baby. After Super Girl (formerly known as Super Baby) was born, I ran the Kiawah Marathon in 2010. But then I had the shoulder surgeries mentioned in previous blog posts, which basically left me in the shape I was in freshman year when I quit swimming for 6 months. Round, floppy, and out of breath. I was no good at balancing recovering from my surgeries with finding appropriate but challenging workouts, so I just gave up.

I finally started getting back into shape with the help of my beloved Athletic Conditioning class at the Y. Those were my people. Some of my closest friends that I have developed over the past several years. Check them out, they are a good-looking group.

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Finally, I was ready to start training for “something.” I hit the greenway with my friend Kevin for long runs, and he would join me for interval work on the indoor track at the Y. I would push Super Girl around in her jogging stroller, which definitely helps gain strength and speed. I finally felt like I had the balance thing down. You can be a mom to one kid and still find the time to train distance.

Then I got pregnant with the new Super Baby, and I kept running. All the books I read about exercising while pregnant were totally common sense. “If you have been active, then it’s okay to stay active.” And “listen to your body.” What does that mean???? I need real answers. I was very bad at balancing logic and emotion during early pregnancy. The basic takeaway from everything I read is this: If you are at least moderately in shape and NOT an idiot, then just keep doing what you’re doing, keeping your heartrate in check and taking stock of any other warning signs like cramping, chills, obvious signs of dehydration, etc. If you have jogged one 5k before, probably not a good idea to sign up for you first Marathon, set to take place when you are 34 weeks pregnant. Having already been doing long runs upwards of 9 miles when I got pregnant, I went ahead and signed up for a half marathon which I completed in January 2012, when I was 15 weeks pregnant. It was a really pleasant race because I was able to balance my baby’s safety against my desire to be the fastest pregnant runner out there. I ran a 5k at 24 weeks and a 10k at 28 weeks. It is fair to say that by the end, I had gotten really good at balancing my fluid input/output because there are usually no porta johns on a 3-6 mile course. Yikes!

After new Super Baby came along, surrounded by much drama that I would talk about if this were yet another birth story blog, I initially dove back into the group exercise thing that I so loved. I was unable to balance my desire to train for another marathon with my desire to hang out with my friends and go to classes which I knew would push me and leave my on the edge of vomitus, just the way I like it. So I fell into a bit of a rut.

I ran a few local races at the end of 2012, with my eye on a marathon in 2013.

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But then we moved to Raleigh. So the months of late December to late February of this year are a total blur of boxes, tears, more boxes, house hunting, eating garbage (not literally), and not running. No balance could be achieved in that phase of my life. And quite frankly, it has taken about four months to get back on track.

I really wanted to find balance in my workout regimen upon moving. As I have mentioned a thousand times, I had such a great group of instructors and friends at the YMCA in Charlotte. I wanted to try to replicate that here. I toured probably 6 different gyms. I was like Goldilocks. This gym was too expensive. This gym was too dingy. This gym too far, this gym too boring.

So I decided that instead of trying to achieve in Raleigh what I had in Charlotte, I would create something new. Like a Phoenix rises from the ashes, so too did my new training goal. I decided to sign up for a triathlon. It is definitely a symbol of balance- having to balance your time to train for three different disciplines. My goal race is the White Lake Olympic Distance Tri in September. Before that race, I have a sprint distance- the Triangle Triathlon- this weekend! And I really have no idea what I am doing or what to expect, so it won’t be that different from becoming a mother.

In order to get in triathlon shape, I have spent less time in group exercise classes and taken more initiative to find group runs, go out on long morning runs before my kids get up (which I never would have done before), find group cycle rides, and swim just to get my shoulders stronger and hopefully wake up some muscle memory that’s been covered in cobwebs for the past 11 years. I have finally been able to strike a balance in all the three disciplines, and I am actually having a lot of fun doing it. The issue is just figuring which workouts to do in the morning before Super Girl and Super Baby wake, which to do at lunch (too much work involved in getting re-coiffed for work) and which to do after work, as that calls into play either taking the kids to the Y or SuperDad piling up the parenting points so I can go on a bike ride after work. We haven’t quite figured out how to make it work, and we have to take it on a week-by-week basis, which is difficult.

Raleigh  Trail Runners at Umstead Park.  They look fast.

Raleigh Trail Runners at Umstead Park. They look fast.

Which leads to the final straw that led me back into the blogosphere. My family may be done with 2 kids and 3 dogs, but we may expand- ya never know, we could add a guinea pig to the mix. Whatever size our family ends up being, we will have more and more commitments as our kids get older. Super Girl is in gymnastics and will likely start ballet and music lessons in the next year. Super Baby will probably be entering eating competitions so we need to balance those commitments into our family schedule. My exercise also needs to be balanced out against my family’s needs.

Last night, I planned out this week’s workouts. I planned to do an easy steady-stead 7 mile run before work. Well, off went the buzzer this morning, and I said “let’s get serious iPhone, you know I’m not getting out of this bed.” End of discussion, no agonizing, just went straight back to dreaming about Robin Thicke.

The result of this 100% selfish decision was that I completely threw off our family plan for the day. The morning routine went fine, as I would have been back from my run and showering at the same time I ended up rising. Because we are so earth-conscious, Super Dad and I decided to carpool. Then I would pick up Super Baby and take him to the Y while Super Dad took Super Kid to gymnastics. After my quick little swim and run, I would swing by to get Super Girl from gymnastics. Wrong. As I checked my phone post swim and run, I notice that Super Dad has called and sent an urgent text, something to the effect of “my darling wife, I forgot to remind you that my car is at home because we carpooled to work. As such, our beloved daughter is stranded at daycare, I am stranded at work, and she will not be able to get to the gymnastics class she was so looking forward to. In no way are you to blame, but I wanted to let you know that I will get this taken care of in the approximately 6 minutes before daycare closes. Love Always, Super Dad.” As you can imagine, the text was not quite so polite. Oops, mommy messed up. No really, mommy threw off our family’s balance today in a big big way. One that inconvenienced many people, including Super Daddy, Super Uncle and Super Neighbor, who let Super Girl borrow a leotard. When I got home, Super Girl had a MAJOR attitude. Our conversation:

SG: That was NOT COOL mommy! You don’t leave Daddy at his office. It’s not cool to leave people at their offices. He was lonely.

Me: I’m sorry, I messed up.

SG: Yeah, you did. Now Daddy and I are going inside, but you can stay out here with Super Baby.

…proceeds to lock me out of the house. [end scene]

Moral of the story: if you are going to be lazy, which is warranted every now and then (unless you are Shalane Flanagan and you’re trying to win Olympic Medals) try not to upset your whole family. I need to work on balancing my obligations to my family with my training. Anyone else have trouble with this balancing act?