Monday, February 24, 2014

Run the Mile You're In

Much advice for running and triathlon is quite transferable to everyday life.  One recent piece of advice I heard, regarding my upcoming half marathon, is

Run the Mile You're In

In other words, don't psych yourself out by looking too far forward into a long race.  Don't let previous setbacks throw you.  Run as you are, in this moment, in this mile, until your race is done.  Easier said than done, no?  Even harder to practice in life overall.  Being present, not worrying about the future.

Friday's short run.  Great run whichever device you believe.

I had am amazing weekend.  I also had an incredibly worry-filled weekend.  My 10.5 mile long run was scheduled for Saturday, since we were going skiing with family on Sunday.  After last weekend's disastrous race, and despite a good run on Friday at lunch, I was nervous.  Strike that, I was terrified.  I got myself so worked up that by Friday night, while out at a painting party with friends, I had the glass of wine two glasses of wine I'd promised myself I wouldn't, just to calm my nerves.  Even though I knew I was heading out first thing in the morning.

When painting wine, is unreasonable
to not drink wine, no?
My anxiety was particularly stupid, because I was being joined by friends.  On Thursday, Hummingbird texted me and told me that for her own sanity she was coming out with me.  I'd have adult supervision!  Furthermore, we were picking up Gypsy at the 6.5 mile mark and I'd have TWO of my best buddies to carry me home.  I had a route planned.  My coach had suggested that I make my long runs mimic the course for the New Bedford HM as much as possible.  Given that the HM course is mostly flat, that isn't possible in my town.  The half has an overall elevation gain of 176 ft.  This run was 776 feet.  The best I could do....

Of course the weather for the run was perfect.  A beautiful day, despite the occasional icy patch that had us jumping and whooping between strides.  The miles fell away quickly while Hummingbird and I talked about everything under the sun, heavy on the race discussion.  Another pearl of wisdom?  Run in your own shoes.  Don't compare yourself to others, because you don't know their story.  True to racing, true for life.  We got to Gypsy's house a little later than planned, but still kept good pace.  Gypsy with her fresh legs pulled us home (up the biggest hill in town), with overall negative splits for the nearly 11 mile run.  
It was just about as perfect as you could ask for.  All that worrying the day before was wasted.  If I'd "run the mile I was in", I'd have enjoyed the painting party a lot more and saved myself a day of anxiety.  

We spent the rest of Saturday taking the kids to the botanical garden, puttering around the house, and in my case, curled up in a ball on the bed with stomach pains (my standard after long runs.  Still.  National Drink a Margarita Day was ruined).  Yet despite the lesson of the morning, I still managed to fit in plenty of worrying about the next activity - a family ski trip on Sunday.  

My reward.  PJ pants, kitty
and video games.
My daughter running laps
at the botanical garden in the
finally-warm weather.
And tho she be but little, 
she is fierce.
I learned to ski as an adult, and it's been six years since I was on downhill skis.  Jedi had taken my little guy skiing twice already this year, and it would be my daughter's first time.  We were meeting Jedi's sister, BIL and four boys up in New Hampshire.  I was anxious about my own ability to stay upright, my lack of ability to teach my daughter (I'm am not one of those parents who can ski with a kid between their legs.  Nor can I explain the mechanics of skiing, as I barely grasp them myself).  My son needs a helmet.  I'm gonna fall off the lift.  Oh my oh my.....  Once again, I really shouldn't have worried.  For one, my son needs zero help.  He is crazy good, fast, in control, and fearless for someone who is only three feet tall and been skiing three times in life.  My brother in law taught my daughter with patience and obvious skill - she had a great time.

My only rough spot of the day was when I took my son up the chair lift by myself.  He's a little guy, so he can't just sit down on the chairlift as it comes around.  You have to boost him up.  Well, between very very tired muscles, fumbling with my ski poles, etc. I didn't boost high enough.  Leaving him dangling by the armpits as the chair was lifting up for maybe two seconds, if that, before I got his bottom onto the seat.  He said to me, very reproachfully, "Mommy, you really scared me!!!"  I told him I was sorry, and he was fine now and of course I'd never drop him.  (On purpose, gulp).  He was quiet for a bit.  I asked him what was wrong,  "I don't think we should have come."  Is he tired?  No.  Upset he fell on his last run?  No.  Scared Mommy is gonna drop him?  Beat of silence.  Yes.  Oh buddy.  I tried to assure him we'd get off the lift just fine.  As we neared the tower I waved so frantically at the attendant, signaling that I wanted the lift slowed, that she nearly stopped it for us.  I was not gonna drop my kid - even if I had to face plant in the snow, I was gonna put him down ski side down.  We got off perfectly.  Even so, at the end of the run he said he was tired and retired to the snow pile to play. Until Jedi reappeared when he immediately demanded to be taken back out.  Clearly Mommy isn't to be trusted.

Lesson learned?  You are going to let your kids down sometimes, and you need to let it go.  
Second lesson?  While picking up a 40+ lb child onto a moving seat, ditch the ski poles.

Little buddy safely installed in the chairlift with Daddy
Aside from the obvious physical challenges of this weekend (long run plus skiing equals unbelievable pain in legs), it was a hard week as a mom.  Not hard maybe, but bittersweet.  I was simultaneously proud and sad watching my four-year old son streak down the mountain.  My daughter has recently really started to read well.  She read me "Good Night Moon" Saturday night.  Remembering reading that book to her as a baby made me cry.  It was only moments ago I was marveling that my baby son could roll over - now he's tackling summit trails with his 16 year old cousin.  How does this happen?  It's a pain that every parent knows... wanting your children to grow up and flourish, but hold them back against your heart at the same time.

Of course the answer is to "run the mile I'm in".  The mile I'm in is having smart, sassy little runner chick for a daughter and a cuddly little daredevil for a son.  The mile I'm in is working at a job that, if I don't 100% love, I mostly enjoy, has great benefits and serves our family very well.   The mile I'm in is being able to run long distances, but still feeling wrecked afterwards.  The mile I'm in only involves green level ski trails.  I miss my babies.  I wish I was a better runner and athlete. There are an infinite number of things that I look back on and can't have back.  There are even more things that I hope for in the future.  But for now, I need to look around, appreciate what I have, and just run.

Any other advice for me at t-minus 3 weeks to my first half marathon?

P.S.  Huge congrats to my coach Sheriff for PRing the New York Central Park Marathon yesterday.  There's nothing quite so satisfying as knowing your coach is just as sore as you are.  And also watching Downton Abbey to recover.....

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