Sunday, January 27, 2013

Anxiety Meds

Play Soundtrack in new window: These Days, Jackson Browne...

I learned years ago that extensive endurance training rattles loose long-forgotten, emotional memories. Riding north of 100 miles on a bike I would grind home with swirls of high school nights flashing like planetarium laser shows. I'd conjure people, scenes and emotions I hadn't visited in years, hadn't thought I would ever resurface through the accretion of life and maturity in the years since.

While emotional, surprising, and totally not under my control, I came to savor the richness of the snowglobe effect distance training has on my brain. 

This past week I ran an early morning 9 in single digit degrees then went to work and came down with a touch of flu. Feverish for a day, I slept two days and kept still a third. 

I don't care what happens but I absolutely cannot keep still another. 

I don't know if the parade of nightly horribles keeping me from sleep the last two nights comes from the virus's last stand or the longest stretch of endorphin-less time I have spent in years.

You whom I have wronged, failed, inadvertently insulted or let down, who through inexperience and short-sightedness I have committed transgression against, all the jobs I haven't gotten or even applied for, the work not done well, the achievements I have through sloth or ineptitude, left for someone else, the daughter, partner, sister, parent, niece, aunt, cousin, friend, superhero I could - should have been...has all this and more haunted my recovery from this light brush with flu-like symptoms. 

The money I haven't saved, the money I spent, the cookies and candy I ate when I shouldn't have, the food I didn't eat when I should have, the donations I didn't make when asked, the non-sustainably sourced food I have consumed, the fuel burned on my account for reasons substantial and trivial, the food I have microwaved instead of prepared slowly, ... yeah, far enough overboard that even I eventually figured out that some rheostat up there went miscalibrated. 

I know, I am catastrophizing with all the shoulds, and all the slights I debit on your behalf against myself (I have really thick skin, so please don't worry  that I spend all my time tallying imagined, unintended hurts). And all the underachievement. If I were well I would consider the leadings a compass. My point is that the data coming through in the teeny hours was overwhelmingly absurd.

I have got to get moving again stat. Running does that for me, calms the anxiety, calibrates the rheostat controlling these racing, anxious, self-flagellating, wild insomniac thoughts. 

It finally dawned on me sometime after midnight the connection between the last few days of no moving around and this toxic, only partially honest, sludge causing insomnia and a racing heartbeat and composed mea maxima apologia at all random hours.  I so appreciate being well enough to move and am totally fine with facing the consequences if I false start and relapse for not sitting still long enough. I gotta get going.

Samaritans, for whom I am running, answer calls from brains like mine operating under a severe happy-hormone deficit. I am honored to support them. And getting my soccer shoes on for some cross-training. Join me!

"Don't confront me with my failures, I had not forgotten them." 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Metaphorical Monkey Bars or How I Get Through New England Winters

It's already getting lighter. By now we're getting about half an hour more sunlight than we did at winter solstice. 

Sunrise inches back towards 7am - this I know because the sky lightens before I've finished my morning run. Sunset inches back towards 5pm, this I know from the lingering colors up there when I get to leave work on the early side. 

What do I mean by monkey bars? Winter is so dark, and so cold, that I find myself holding my breath through certain milestones, I think of swinging from monkey bars to avoid the alligator pit underneath the playground structure. 

January 23: the first day our daylight increases by two minutes or more per day. 
Feb 2:  the date the average daily temperature in Massachusetts starts going back up, degree by degree. 
Truck Day (Feb 5, 2013)
Pitchers and Catchers (Feb 10)
Full Squad 2/15
TBD when I hear the first Grapefruit radio broadcast
March 20, first day of Spring. 

By then it might still be snowy and cold. Or rainy and cold. But it'll be light, and any cold that lingers is really expensive for someone. The sun by then totally has the advantage. And I'll stand down my guard against those alligators. 

How do you survive the winter?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Cold. Windy. Hilly. Late. Do I have to?

For the first time in a long time today's run took effort to get started. Off schedule, step back week, icy cold wind. Why bother. Only 10 miles. Other things to do. 

All the advice says go out for 10 minutes. Even if it's only 10 minutes.

I've read running described as an "undifferentiated" activity - it allows one's thoughts to go wherever they want while your body does its fairly repetitive activity requiring a minimal amount of mindfulness. I consider it like Tuvan throat singing (find info here), where the singers somehow emit two notes at at same time. My body does one thing, my brain (other than making sure I don't run into traffic) another. I cannot throat sing. 

Here's the rough trajectory my brain took as I ran all ten miles the doctor ordered: 

I head out into the 24 degree wind, uphill. Remind myself why I'm doing this Marathon for Shaira and everyone else in need of an ear in a time of crisis. How fortunate I am to be able to run like I do - some people would commit crimes to be able to run like this. Ok, it's not so cold out. 

None of the miles Team Samaritans run will bring anyone back, I get that, but at least two good things result: the money we raise will make sure that Samaritans will be there for the next person who needs. That's one good thing. This hill isn't so imposing. The other good thing? Keeping the memories of those we run in honor of front and center. 

I take it back about the two things. I wasn't expecting the third set of good things happening after I committed to run this race. I get to experience an enormous amount of support from everyone who sponsors me, asks me how training is going, asks me how to donate, offers to run with me, tells me where they plan to cheer us on. 

I am so blessed. And grateful. And humbled. 

And old, which brings on the other half of my thought process this morning's solo run, the other reason I am doing this thing, this marathon, this running. 

I recently had a short conversation with a very young grandmother whose granddaughter turned 15. "When I reached 15," she said, it was the first time I was aware of growing old. It is half of 30!" Which echoes what my next birthday has me thinking (it is not a round number), that it is half of an absurdly big number. It's time to take all that public health aging stuff seriously. I'm pretty healthy, but not perfect. I'm hoping really hard that the physical challenges I put my body into will help me live healthier for longer.... 

Thinking of 15 put this song in  my head. Hmm. How old was Al Stewart when he recorded that song? Probably half the age I am now. Oh, I bet the internet will know - and because the internet will know, and because I am going to figure it out, it is what I will leave you with. 

Also, I will leave you with the suggestion that I might be convinced to do a stand up comedy set at a fundraising party I'm planning for the middle of March. Bring your phones and set them to record!

Time Passages album released 1978 (; Al Stewart born 1945 (wikipedia). 1978-1945 = ok, not half my age now but pretty damn young. And I am older than I look, people. Besides. What would a 33 year old singer songwriter have to be nostalgic about?? 

I wonder whether I would look older if I stopped running or younger. Which finishes my blog post, and my ten mile run. 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

...and then I got up and ran again.

One of my favorite aphorisms goes something like "Fall down N times get up N+1 times." Well, not that nerdy, but along those lines.

I didn't get out to run until lunchtime, and I was kinda nervous about how things would feel after the crash landing yesterday, but I was fine. I set out on a route that I could easily limp home from and then kept going. And going. Approximately 2:20 (two hours and twenty minutes) and approximately 14 miles, touching into three towns and then back home, with my Heartbreak Hill proxy coming into play at around mile 12.

Thought about posting a picture of my scrambled knee but thought the better of it.

Have had a tetanus shot within recent memory, but wondering if I need to worry about that (I worry about everything) after the near puncture wound of unspecified origin that I got when I fell.

Now where are those cookies, I'm hungry!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Before you got up this morning I went splat...

While running, not biking, thankfully. I suppose the upside to a klutzy childhood is knowing how to fall.

Before 6, I was running and chatting away. Then I was falling, unable to right myself, then I was sliding about a foot on my stomach before coming to a stop.

If it is icy, I run slower. If I know there's a hazard or I'm in the woods, I run slower. Today there was nothing to worry about. Except the uneven sidewalk obscured in the streetlamp shadow. Wham. I was not running slower, as evidenced by the long skid on my belly.

Banged and scraped knee, gouged elbow. I have plenty of vitamin I with me and will be fine. Finished the run and gently rode my bike into work.

I missed my calling. Shoulda been a stunt woman.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Six Saturday, 14 Today...

Following a reasonably aggressive training schedule, I plan to run three 20 milers before Boston. Last year, I ran down to the aquarium, to the beach, and to Walden for my three long runs. This year, without a steady running buddy, I think I will set up a water stop on her porch and do big loops around town. It's not the sightseeing, it's the running. Which I would probably even be happy doing on a treadmill. No complaints. 

So this is my first 20 mile weekend. One of my jobs is to pay attention to what hurts. I need to be intelligent about training, and committing to the marathon. I have to be able to tell injury from annoyance in order to train smarter. Last year, I bested my marathon of ten years prior by 20 minutes, how's that for smarter? Not running Boston for time, necessarily, but I do want to run the thing. Pain is temporary. One's finish time on the Internet: forever. 

Got a new, really ugly pair of running shoes from Marathon Sports (Hi Brian). With my orthotics, they think I can run in neutral rather than stability shoes. The neutral shoes are lighter, and screaming loud enough not to get lost in the snow. 

Assessment: so far, my left heel occasionally feels dimly like plantar fasciitis coming back, but even after runs north of 12 miles the fascia seems to be holding. So it may be a symptom of new running shoes, or wearing stiffer winter shoes/boots. For now I'm not concerned enough to check my training.

My right hip - dunno which part - is back making noise, but several times over the last several years I have been able to stretch it into submission. (adds stretching back into the mix). 

Left glute, which still echoes the major hamstring pull of a couple years ago. I feel it, but I have felt it and still run well. I hear it. (adds stretching back to the mix)

Rule of thumb: while running if it hurts for more than a minute it is an injury and stop. If it requires, pay attention but you do not have to stop. For now, nothing hurts while running. 

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The end of bike season

When one path is blocked, I use another...As I plan my training routes, one morning I get to run by the lake, the next morning I can't. Like some big mechanical board game, my running life changes with the snowfall. As did my commuting life, temporarily. 

I started this post just after we'd gotten about 8 inches of snow. I so love my bike commute - the two-a-day workout, but also the timelessness of flying down the road on a bike, the self-sufficiency of not having to wait for a bus or pay to park. I once heard someone talk about the euphoric state that set in after surviving a near-fatal attack. I wonder if the high I get from biking comes from the biking or the surviving?

Anyway, it was time to put the bike away, just after a thorough tune up from UrbanAdventours. And then it wasn't. One single-digit morning that froze up public transit where I am stuck standing in front of a misanthrope no better than any of the rest of us but not as far as he could tell, and I'm back on the bike. 

I don't have snow tires, so the next snow will put me off, but not completely. This coming week brings promise of 40 degree + days. I rode in yesterday in 20 degrees, with wind, so I'll  be fine, and not annoyed by my fellow man. Plus I have to figure out how to  work in running mileage with my biking mileage and not overdo things.

As for running, where there is plowed road there's a way. I will look forward to running the unplowed paths again later in the spring.