Archive for the 'Reflections' Category
I remember the moment I denounced Perfectionism in my life. During my first term of graduate school, I was sitting on my sofa studying, feeling excruciating stress over a paper I needed to write. I was struggling to understand what the professor wanted, wondering how other students in the cohort would approach the material—worrying about whether I could write the BEST paper in the group.
My living room at the time looked out over Lake Whatcom—still, serene, and sure of its place in the world. I had a sudden thought that went something like this: Wow, I’m stressed out—but not because I can’t understand this stuff I’m studying. I’m stressed over proving myself. Over meeting a standard, like if I don’t get an A on this paper it will mean I’m objectively, truly, irrevocably stupid.
The realization that I was trying to prove to myself (and the world) I was smart, hit me hard. I took some time to look back over my life at the evidence on both sides. Sure, I’d done a stupid thing or two in my life, but by and large the proof pointed toward “smart”—not brilliant, but smart. I didn’t really even know where I got the idea that I wasn’t bright and that I needed to compensate for my obtuseness by getting perfect grades, but somewhere along the line I’d grown to believe it.
Right there in that moment I made myself a promise that I would finish my graduate program striving only to fully grasp the material and suck the experience dry of everything it had to offer me. I would throw myself wholeheartedly into my studies and let the grades be whatever they would be. My heartfelt effort would have to be good enough!
I’m thinking of this now because of my race last week. When I wrote that I was disappointed I hadn’t been able to reach my 10 minute per mile goal, a handful of friends who had read my book wrote to me worried. “Are you being hard on yourself? Are you becoming one of those runners who isn’t happy with running unless she beats her last time?”
Don’t fret, friends.
I wanted to write a word or two about the difference between disappointment and self-loathing. I think disappointment is a natural emotion. It’s not so awfully painful if it happens now and again and is handled with self-compassion and care. Not reaching my goal last weekend made me feel disappointed that my training was still incomplete. I suspected that was true before going into the race, but had hoped perhaps I would have an especially energetic run.
But rest assured that I didn’t delve into Perfectionism’s dark hole of self-loathing. Not for one minute did I feel like less of a runner or fail to feel proud of myself for finishing the Kirkland Half Marathon. I NEVER forget that I come from a family of non-athletes and that the very fact that I run is a victory. I’m loving Brene Brown’s term “wholeheartedness” lately because it describes the abandoned joy with which one can approach something—anything—without the voice of the Inner Mean Girl beating the crap out of us.
I ran the Kirkland race wholeheartedly. I didn’t phone it in; I gave myself to the experience. And my finishing time was quite good enough. It just wasn’t what I’d been training for. And this week I’m back to training so I can do the next one at my goal pace of 10 minutes a mile (because you know, there’s ALWAYS a next one). I know you approach your running with wholeheartedness, too. Sometimes being wholehearted means you feel glee and pride; sometimes it means you feel disappointment and sadness, but it always means you suck an experience dry of all it has to offer.
This week in training:
Carol and I have been talking about how to balance pace training for three different distances at the same time (the 10 K, the half marathon and, eventually the marathon). She suggests that I follow some pace work at my slower paces with a few miles at the faster pace to begin to train my body to put greater energy out at the end of a longer race. My training will reflect this in the weeks to come.
Monday: A walk. No speed work. I was sore (in spite of not reaching my goal pace last week, I ran hard on the course’s many hills so I was more sore than usual).
Tuesday: A walk. Still sore.
Wednesday: Pace work in Carol’s group. We did “the ladder,” in which we ran at our 10 K pace for one minute, then two minutes, three minutes, and four minutes (with a two minute recovery break between each segment) and then worked our way back down.
Thursday: A walk.
Friday: Six mile run.
Saturday: Pace work at the track with Bill. Two miles at my half marathon pace (10 mins/mile), recover briefly, and then two more miles at my faster 10 K pace (9:30).
I didn’t get much training done this week, so I’ll skip the training report and get back to it next Friday. Here are some additional thoughts about the events in Boston:
Last night we all got the news that the second of the two suspects in the Boston bombings was apprehended. Like everyone else, I experienced a rush of relief and slept a little better than the previous few nights. And then today, while I was driving to meet up with a group of writing friends so we could spend the day together in retreat, I felt a wave of grief so strong I wasn’t at first sure what it was.
I’ll try to put it in words if I can, even if it comes out a little inexact. The loss of innocent lives—four in all at the current count—is, of course, part of what I am (we are) free to grieve now that we don’t have to hold our collective breath waiting for the perpetrators of the chaos to be caught. But I’m also feeling a loss related to the two young men who committed the crimes. Stay with me for a moment if you will. It isn’t exactly FOR them that I feel the grief; it’s more for an essence of humanity that they lost somewhere along the way.
As the story of their lives unfolds, it seems clear that they took a fork in a road at some point, that they stood looking down two paths (or even several possible paths) and chose one—this one, the one we’ve watched on TV all week.
These two young men were not raised in a culture of extremist ideology. And given that they participated in bringing their horrific plan to fruition together, I think we all doubt their actions are the result of a psychotic break like we sometimes see in those who execute heinous crimes. Instead, unless we find out that they really were framed as their hopeful parents say they were (which we all very much doubt), we see two people who could have chosen a positive path in life and who didn’t. We don’t know why yet, but they sold their souls to violence. And I feel sad for that.
It’s all the more heartbreaking in contrast to the other choices being made this week—with the utter, overwhelming, almost unbelievable good faith and kindness everywhere else in the story as it unfurled before our eyes. Boston is, without a doubt, an extraordinary place. The sense of community that oozed from every report, from every word spoken by the governor of Massachusetts, from the conscientiousness of the law enforcement and the homeowners in Watertown was exemplary and beautiful.
I don’t really understand how so much grief and beauty can exist side by side—it’s a mystery a little like how at the end of a marathon you can feel exultant glory and hellish exhaustion all at once. But here we are: Sad and grateful and angry and proud at the same time.
The beauty of community was brought home for Bill and me as we experienced all the welcome home hugs, virtual and in person, this week. We have both appreciated all of them.
Also, if you haven’t read it, there’s a wonderful short article by a Bostonian in the comments below my previous post. I love the way the local Boston runners are thinking about finishing their race. Take a look at it below or find it here.
Well, I ran the best I could yesterday. But the 2013 Honeywagon Half Marathon will not go down as my personal half marathon record. Sigh.
Bill and I drove up to Everson yesterday, grateful for a break in the rain. I was excited to try out my new Luna Moving Comfort Bra (because I’ve been in search of a sports bra that would prevent chafing and thought I’d found the magic trick with this one). Just before we left the house, my Garmin 110 stopped working, so I borrowed Bill’s 205, which is set to give the average pace rather than the one-mile “lap” pace. I was bummed about the loss of my own Garmin because I’ve grown to depend on the minute to minute feedback about my pace to help me hold my speed, but there wasn’t much I could do about it.
The first 7 miles, I stayed on target with a 10 minute mile average, but gradually, between the 7 and 10 mile markers, I slowed to a 10:25 average (which would have been fine if I’d been able to keep it there). Then in the last three miles, I was tired, tight, and much slowed by the headwind. For the second week in a row, I found myself feeling like I was running in place for at least a full mile as the wind beat against the mass of my body like it was an ocean wave against a piece of driftwood. I have to admit to fighting with some discouragement as I watched my average pace dip and dip.
Bill met me at mile 12.5ish and said, “Wanna try to push it for this last bit?”
“I am pushing it,” I said, knowing that I must be puttering along at five miles an hour. But seriously, I couldn’t go any faster. The wind had blown all my energy away.
Finishing time: 2:22 (according to the Garmin). I felt frustrated for sure, but I want to remind myself (and everyone else who misses their mark–in running or in life) that shooting for a target time is just a grand experiment. There’s nothing at stake here that will make or break life; it’s all for fun to see what can be done when we’re trained up well, nourished appropriately, and adequately rested. In my case, I can see that I held my goal pace a mile beyond the distance I’d trained at that pace. In other words, I haven’t extended my mile repeats beyond six miles. So that’ll be my next step. Also, while I can’t blame everything on the wind, I would love to run a race without it sometime soon. It’s tedious.
So, I’m back to the track and trail to train until I can beat 2:15 in a half marathon. There’s always another chance (I think I say that a lot).
And just in case you were wondering, the girls did fine in the new bra, although there was a tiny bit of chafing from the straps on my shoulders. Nothing’s perfect I guess.
Hope your races this weekend were great!
Hi all. I’ve got a free offering I’m hoping you’ll let your friends know about. Between the dates of Saturday, February 16 and Sunday, February 17 (this weekend for 2 days!), my co-author (Carol Frazey) and I will be giving away free Kindle downloads of our encouraging and inspirational marathon training manual: 26.2 Life Lessons: Helping You Keep Pace with the Marathon of Life. Readers will be able to download the book for FREE for two (2) days!! And we’d love to get the word out. This helps us move up the ranks on Amazon.com AND gives readers a great tool for achieving success in their running lives. The book can be downloaded on either a Kindle device or on another device using a Kindle app. Just go look up the book in your Kindle store and tap the download button.
Below is a description of the book. If you’re comfortable doing so, would you be so kind as to post the link to our book during our FREE give-away period on your blog/facebook/twitter/pinterest? We would be so grateful.
Description of 26.2 Life Lessons
Are you looking for an easy-to-use step-by-step marathon training guide? Do you need inspiration and motivation to help you get your training done? 26.2 Life Lessons: Helping You Keep Pace with the Marathon of Life is the running partner you’re looking for. Cami Ostman, author of Second Wind: One Woman’s Midlife Quest to Run Seven Marathons on Seven Continents, provides inspirational writings and insight on the “marathon as metaphor” for life, while Carol Frazey, running coach and nutrition consultant, provides a full 26-week marathon training program. Whether you’re a beginning, intermediate, or experienced runner, this book will encourage you, push you, challenge you, and get you ready for a marathon in six months.
Structured into weekly sections which provide training advice and encouragement, 26.2 Life Lessons will take you from two miles to 26.2 in the space of 26 weeks.
Thank you friends!
P.S., We’ll be tweeting and posting on facebook ourselves throughout the weekend to remind people to get their FREE download. Forgive us in advance for pestering those of you who follow us on several networking sites.
Check this out friends,
I’ve put together some of my most inspirational writings with a full 26-week training program created by my trainer and friend Carol Frazey. This magazine sized book (68 packed pages) will encourage you, push you, challenge you, and get you ready for a marathon in six months. Carol and I have been hard at work on this during 2012, getting it prepared for our clients and friends and we’re more excited than we can express to tell you it’s READY!!
And you can order it now! Right here: