September 20, 2016: Chasing boredom

This little guy kept landing on my arm.
This little guy kept landing on my arm.

I’ve been in Denver the past 4 days; this was a vacation for me, a business trip for my husband. I managed to get most scheduled runs done, staying in my HR zones and enjoying the beautiful and cool pre-fall weather here.

I don’t know what I actually expected from this trip. It wasn’t like I was dying to visit Denver. I just wanted to get away. In fact, I purposely resisted almost any trip planning whatsoever – very uncharacteristic of me – because I long to feel – wait for it – bored. Bored, with nothing to do, nowhere to go, no direction, no idea, no obligations, no stress, no anxiety, no house to clean, no laundry to do, no errands to run, no one to worry about. I wanted to luxuriate in the self-indulgence of hours-long day dreaming.

And when I finally had the opportunity to do just that, what did I do? I started looking for something to do. Next to the hotel was a butterfly habitat – naturally I had to check it out. After that hour was gone, walking back to the hotel I noticed there was a movie theater across the street. So then I contemplated watching the new Bridget Jones movie (because there’s no way my husband will suffer through that with me). I had my phone out, looking up showtimes, when the voice in my head gently but firmly said “stop.”

I reminded myself that the one thing I did NOT want to do was fill up the day with “stuff” to do. I plugged in my earphones and chilled. In the lobby, then the pool deck, and finally in the room. I meditated. I listened to a book. I painted (just on my tablet but still). It was actually pretty fucking awesome. I felt my creativity begin to stir, as if from a long, deep slumber.

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That’s me, determined to do absolutely nothing. Yah.

Now I’m headed home but not back to work right away. I’m hoping to continue my “thought” vacation for a few more days in my own environment. I need to learn to relax at home, instead of blaming my home environment for evoking feelings of stress (due to the fact that it is always in need of cleaning, in one form or another).

How do you keep the creative juices flowing?

Rest day: Daydreaming

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This is me writing. Like the mythical Snipe, it’s a pretty damn rare sighting.

Rest day for the body but not the mind! Instead: a day to daydream. Write. Create. Ponder. Remember.

Although I’ve never been poetic, I find myself drawn to reading poetry lately. With the recent passing of Gene Wilder, the phrase “We are the music makers; we are the dreamer of dreams” has come across my screens and I wanted to find out where it came from. Some quick searches revealed the lines to be a passage from Ode by Arthur O’Shaughnessy; you can read this wonderful poem here.

The full poem (which has 9 verses, not 3) includes the following passage:

A breath of our inspiration,
Is the life of each generation.
A wondrous thing of our dreaming,
Unearthly, impossible seeming-
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.

It’s a shame that the entire poem is so difficult to find (but you can read it here – you’re welcome). Because I find this verse to speak so closely to how I feel about the importance of the arts and creativity, and of day dreaming. (Day dreaming isn’t important you say? I would beg to disagree but these writers do a much better job and yes, each of those words are a separate link to a separate source – let the AP know I’m available for freelance work.)

Walt Disney said “all our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them” but if we never stop and give ourselves the space and time to let our minds wander, to dream up fantastic ideas, whatever will we have pursue?

Be sure to take time to daydream. Regularly.

 

 

Unguarded Thoughts: Don’t be gross

HR training journal: Today was a long run – 90 minutes. I covered 8 miles. I maintained an average bpm of 141. And I loved every step! Total mileage for the week: 29.5 miles. That’s my mileage for week 2 of a 20 week half marathon plan, folks!

This past week I’ve bumped into more than a few examples of gross human behavior. I’m not talking poop or blood. I’m talking…utterly disappointing. Mean-spiritedness for no real reason other than to assert superiority. I’ve seen it more at work than in my personal realm, but it feels like it’s everywhere lately.

I went on Facebook “hiatus” back in 2012. I remember it well; it was when President Obama was running for re-election, and after four years of his presidency, during which (thanks to Facebook) I was exposed to the “secret inner thoughts” of friends, family, in-laws, co-workers, bosses, etc., I found that I no longer wanted to know about 90% of them. For me, it was better to just go “offline” for a while. So I de-activated my account.

When I returned last year, it was solely to have a convenient communication forum for a Ragnar event I was part of. When I signed in, I cleaned up my “friends” list, whittling it down to just those handful of people I actually knew and loved, along with some long-distance friends and family for whom this would be a convenient way to keep in touch, and my Ragnar teammates. Gone was anyone even remotely related to the place I worked. And gone were those whose cruel vitriol left a permanent, painful impression on my heart and mind. The result: a nice, small friend list. One that looked more like my reality. I thought I’d created a well-curated feed.

When I signed up for Heart Rate (HR) training, I was invited to join a closed FB group created for all of us who had signed up for this training plan. For the most part, it’s been really positive. I mean, overwhelmingly positive. Seriously, a mostly amazing group of women who inspire me daily.

Which is why recently, as I was quickly glancing through some posts, I was so strongly struck by the negative tone of person who posted a “pet peeve.” And several others who joined the herd, pitchforks in hand.

The pet peeve? So stupid it isn’t worth explaining. Except to say that “I” have totally done this. And it has ABSOLUTELY NO IMPACT ON A SINGLE OTHER LIVING BEING WHATSOVER.

It was a “behavior” that they witnessed, that they didn’t understand, and rather than ask the person “why are you doing that” they instead jumped to (possibly erroneous) conclusions, and deemed the behavior to be riduculous. Dumb. Stupid. Suspicious. Deceptive even.

As for those doing the complaining? Well, THEY were such BETTER human beings for NEVER engaging in such strange behavior. They were superior. Their way was better. SUPERIOR.

Holy fuck did this strike a nerve. To think that as I’ve gone about my business, doing my workouts, keeping to myself, that there might have been some asshole sitting nearby observing me (rather than minding their own damned workout) and thinking about how “irritated” they felt. All because I was engaging in an activity that had absolutely no impact on them? The fucking nerve of me, right?

I posted a reply; it went something like: Hey peanut gallery, it turns out that “I” do that same thing too. And the reason is too long to post here (not to mention I don’t actually owe you a damned explanation). But there are legit reasons. And just fyi, I do try to reserve judgment when I see something I don’t understand because there might be a completely rational explanation that I am unaware of. 

Oddly, just this week I’ve run into similar encounters at work (possibly made worse because I was face-to-face with said peanut gallery). And it can only be described as: Gross. Fucking gross. The need for people to find ways to assert their superiority is out of control. I know it’s real; there are studies that show this phenomenon to be absolutely real. Coupled with the need to control the behavior of those who have absolutely no impact on their lives in any way, shape or form, simply because they do not understand the behavior (therefore it must be not only inferior to their own, but it must be eradicated)? Gross. Fucking gross.

It reminds me of people who are opposed to gay marriage; who themselves are not gay, nor do they have any gay people (that they know of) in their circles of friends and family. Yet they will assert with passionate fervor their opposition to gay marriage, and throw down their religious texts as proof of their righteousness. It’s so fucking gross. Why do you even care?

I should not have posted any response at all. My rational brain knows that. I’ve come to understand an important truth about Facebook. For the most part, by the time someone has posted something – a personal opinion, support of a “thing,” opposition to a “thing,” whatever – their position on that “thing” is final. Nothing anyone posts in response will sway their opinion . And the more extreme that “thing” is, the stronger their resolve to stand by that opinion. It’s pointless to offer an opposing view; no matter how much kindness, how much logic, or how much evidence you offer; once a person has declared their position (on Facebook), they won’t be moved (by replies on Facebook).

Still, I wish people would just mind their own business. As I type that, I realize that Facebook is, quite literally, the opposite of minding your own business. So live and let live? Or better yet – don’t be a dick? Really, just don’t be gross.

June 10, 2016: I need to care about my stink

After Mountains2Beach I took a week off from work and spent ALOT of time on the couch with various icepacks covering my many broken parts. I didn’t go out. I didn’t see anyone. I mean, my husband and kids were home, but we are all on the introverted side so we all tend to find our own quiet little caves to hide out in.

So I’ll just say this; showering (or bathing) just wasn’t high on the list. I wasn’t running. I wasn’t exercising. I wasn’t exerting anything at all. So rather than a daily bathing ritual, I went 2, sometimes 3 days before hitting the shower. I guess I also want to mention that during this time, my husband was painting our bathroom, and it put that room out of service for 4 days. (He’s not a fast painter; thorough, but not fast.)

Yes I had two other options; my sons’ bathroom – which I won’t even enter to clean. I make them clean it. And our guest bathroom, which, ever since our oldest stopped using it, is so nice, and clean, and pristine, that I don’t want to use it. But I did. Sparingly.

Dirty socks on the desk. And a red nose. So what?
Dirty socks on the desk. And a red nose. Because so what?

Okay so what I’m saying is I got really used to living in my stink.This is where not having daughters hurts me. Because I’m sure a daughter would have said OMG MOM YOU STINK GO TAKE A SHOWER. But my husband and sons? They just sort of accepted me, stink and all (ok, for the record, I wasn’t that stinky, just, you know, kinda ‘ripe’). I even  put off a PT appointment to avoid having to take a shower that day. That’s how, I don’t know, uninspired to shower, I was feeling.

When I returned to work I returned to my daily morning shower. That’s fine. I started some light running this week, so it was necessary. Today is my day off. I ran, let’s see, 7 hours ago. I ran for 60 minutes. It’s hot, windy and dusty outside. It felt great to get sweaty and salty and gritty. The problem is. I am still sweaty, salty, and gritty. I went to the grocery store in all my grit. Why? Because who cares? That’s why. I don’t know those people. And if being a little smelly and gritty keeps strangers away, I feel like that actually works for me.

But now I’ve been trying to get some work done and I just got a whiff of myself; have you ever done that? Like, doubled back on yourself in the space/time continuum and gotten a whiff? So…when I say “just got a whiff” I mean, like, an hour or two. Because even then, I found myself falling down a lets-try-100-different-themes-for-my-blog rabbit hole.

I swear, I’m going to go take a shower. Right. Now.

March 6, 2016: 12 weeks and counting

Training Log for 2/28 to 3/5 – 44+ miles

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Why is it still cold??

 

  • Sunday: Pacer for Hot Chocolate 15k (9.3 miles)
  • Monday: 7 miles
  • Tuesday: 3 miles
  • Wednesday: 4.24 miles (5×800 plus warm up/cool down)
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 7 miles – 3 miles at GMP
  • Saturday: 14 miles – with 4 short fartlek interval

I won’t lie – by the time I showered yesterday morning, after the 14 miles, I was totally spent. It was a tough week – I haven’t done speed work in months, and my legs/shins/ass sure felt it the rest of the week. I wish I could say something funny, or clever, or inspirational, but I’m just not feeling it this morning. Sometimes, to get to a goal, it’s just about getting the work done. And you don’t always have rainbows and unicorns flying out of your ass while you are staring down a big goal.

 

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Running in 90+ weather and longing for the 20s. Be careful what you wish for!
I was looking at my “run selfies” from last summer, when I was training for Santa Rosa. How did I remember feeling during those workouts? Miserable. Hot. Slow. But when I look at those pictures now, as I emerge from a chilly winter season, I see them much differently. I look triumphant. I look tough. I look bad ass. But that’s how the memory works right? I’m freezing, so hot weather running seems wonderful. In a matter of weeks I’m sure I’ll be longing for freezing cold weather. Or…maybe not.

So to get through these mentally challenging, physically taxing weeks, to get the work done, I start doing countdown math. I’ll often do the same during a race, but for training the countdown is spread across weeks instead of miles:

I have a super-early (read sorta-long run) morning tomorrow. Seven more super-early Monday mornings until Mountains2Beach.

I’ve got a midweek hill workout. Four more hill workouts until Mountains2Beach.

I’ve got a long run at the end of the week. Six more runs of 16 miles or longer until Mountains2Beach.

You see, those numbers: Seven, Four, Six – they are much easier to stomach, right?

January 24, 2016: Tapering and what happens after

Miles run today: 0
Miles run 2016: 135.5

January has been busy yet I feel I’ve accomplished very little. Without getting into the boring minutia of my life, let’s just say I’m very grateful to be in a taper period for the next three weeks. It’s definitely a time to start planning for the rest of the year in terms of running goals (as well as life goals).

After LA Marathon in February, I’ll be digging into my next attempt at a BQ. That will be Mountains2Beach. I just put together my training plan, and it’s a bear. Luckily its only 12 weeks long (I only feel like I can get away with a 12 week marathon training plan because of all of the marathon training I’ve been doing over the last 18 months). It includes speed work, hills, and even optional trail workouts. All the workouts that I know have made me stronger in the past. It gives my husband, who is my training partner, an opt out of the longer miles. And it only makes me wake up ridiculously early two workday mornings.

I’m also going to try to do strength training; I say this all the time, but I end up dropping it because it leaves my legs so sore. But this time I have a different approach; I’ll be doing strength AFTER hard workouts, not before. I’ll also be limiting my alcohol intake – absolutely no drinking the day before a scheduled run. That’s mostly because waking up dehydrated really hurts my workouts. I’m also hoping this will help me shed a pound or two. So adios Tequila – but just for a while.

But the other thing I’ve decided about this next training phase is that this will be my last attempt at a BQ for the foreseeable future. Honestly, I barely want to go for it right now; I’m really at peace with my 3 BQ times, even though they didn’t make the cut. One

Smiling on the outside - beating myself up for the bathroom stop on the inside
Smiling on the outside – beating myself up for the bathroom stop on the inside

thing I do know is that running with that kind of intensity is sort of ruining running for me. Example: I ran the Star Wars Half Marathon last weekend. Now, I didn’t really have any goal for that race except to run my best race for the shape I’m in. Did that happen? No. I didn’t follow my normal pre-race routine, ended up with 2 long bathroom stops (ugh) and then I felt compelled to “make up” for those stops by beating myself up along the course instead of enjoying the awesomeness that is that race (seriously, the Star Wars Half Marathon is awesome).

My mental game has shifted; when I’m racing, I’m not having fun. Instead, I’m pushing myself and pushing myself, even when there is no reason to, because I’ve spent so much time learning how to push myself during a race. Its a bummer beating myself up during and after races, and I think, I mean I really think, I’m done doing that.

So when I run LA next month with my best friend (yah, still my husband), who himself is a reluctant marathon runner, I’m DEFINITELY not going to beat myself (or him) up about anything – our pace, our time, nothing. I might even throw in regular walk breaks. Why not? The week after we have a Color Run, then I’m pacing a Hot Chocolate 15k (both events scream HAVE FUN KIM right)?? Then I’ll dig back in for 12 months and whatever will be, will be.

January 1, 1016: Deconstructing dreams

I know, I know, it’s New Year’s Day, 2016. I should have a list of goals I want to accomplish. And in particular, running goals.

So far I have one: Qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon.

I have been really struggling to find a new goal to work toward. Boston was last year’s goal, after all. And I did qualify. But I didn’t make the cut. So I’ll try again. And in trying again, the Boston goal has all sorts of mini goals, such as:

  • Strength train at least twice per week.
  • Eat a clean diet; cut down on alcohol, up the water intake.
  • Slim back down to 130lb; try to race at 128lb. (I ran the Wine and Dine Half Marathon and literally ate my way around Epcot for a week; I have yet to drop that weight.)
  • Get plenty of sleep.

But I haven’t gotten anything new. And I know why.

The real problem, (it’s nothing exciting), is that I find myself smack-dab in the middle of a bonafide mid-life crisis.

I know, right? Big deal. Everyone goes through it. Having just turned 48 years old, I probably should have gone through this a few years ago. But I was too busy. And now I’m in the middle of this big, fat, ugly crisis. It has manifested itself in the form of a metaphorical, 10,0000-piece Lego world. A world I constructed over the course of the last 40 some-odd years, one Lego brick at a time; a world that represents my dreams of the kind of contributions I wanted to make in this world.

In one part of that world, I constructed a dream where I was a writer – there was a fiction writer area, a journalist area, and even a technical writer area.

In another part of that world, I constructed a dream where I was an attorney – I built little areas where I brought justice to unjust situations.

And in another part of that world, I constructed a dream where I was a programmer – in this section of my masterpiece I wrote code that made people’s lives better.

And like any world, there were small corners scattered here and there, representing short-lived bursts of passion for this or that. Photography. Graphic Design. Academics. Even running.

Well I “woke up” recently, and I realized this world just isn’t going to happen. And I’m really okay with that. This is not a self-pity party, I promise. I can look back at my life and see where I made mistakes and bad decisions, didn’t properly prepare myself for opportunities, and at times simply ran into bad luck. And as a result of these things, I won’t be saving the world.

But that’s okay.

If my contribution to the universe consists solely of raising three healthy, happy, educated, compassionate, productive young men, being a loving and supportive wife, and being a kind and dependable friend (and citizen of the world), that will be a life well lived.

But in the meantime, I think I owe it to myself to give myself the space and time I need to deconstruct my old dreams, to carefully take my Lego masterpiece apart, and to put the pieces away.

So you see, surrounded by thousands of these bricks, it’s difficult to think about setting new goals. After all, these bricks represent goals and dreams that will not come to fruition.

But once each brick has been put away, I think it will be very important for me to hone in on a new goal. And without all of that mid-life crisis clutter and it’s accompanying emotions (and that would include ALL the emotions), I think I will be able to wrap my mind and heart around a new goal. Or two.