Running

There Will Be Weeks Like This

February 28, 2017

 

I’m up to seven miles on my long run now. It’s not pretty. There’s an embarrassing shuffle involved, and sometimes I even slow to a walk.

I’m in a weird place with running right now. According to my running plan, I should be improving. I’m certainly adding mileage every week. But, honestly, I could already do 10 miles–at a walk, anyway. I’m not sure I’m running any farther than I did the prior week; I’m just adding some walking time. Once I hit five miles, things stagnated.

I don’t know how to fix that, which is frustrating as hell. I’m afraid the answer might be time, and I simply don’t have enough of it. Maybe I should have given myself twelve weeks to train instead of ten, or better yet, sixteen or twenty. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

This is not to say I’m dropping out of the race, or even thinking about it. I can do 10 miles in the time allotted even if I walk half of it. I just really, really, REALLY want to run the whole 10 miles and it’s hard to come to terms with the realization that maybe I can’t, yet. Then again, I still have four more weeks of training. Who’s to say where I’ll be in those four weeks?

Plus I got new shoes, and they’re pretty. So there’s that.

 

Climbing, Life

I Suck At This and That’s Okay

February 21, 2017

 

Have you ever been to the bouldering section of a climbing gym? Allow me to set the scene: It’s often a cave-like area, where a handful of people actually climb and dozens more cluster in groups and stare at the climber while waiting their turn. It’s horrifying.

Not for the climbers who are easily finishing a V5, obviously. Or even the climbers who fail on the V8, because hell, it was a V8. But a late-thirties mom might look at those fit twenty-somethings with their man buns and pre-baby abs and worry that she will look foolish trying a V1 for the first time. Or the fifth time, for that matter.

And she would be right.

It’s hard not to care that I am a decade older than 99 percent of the climbers in the bouldering cave. In the top-rope or sport-climb area, it’s less pronounced. Sure, twenty-somethings are the majority, but there are plenty of climbers my age, and at least a handful or two who are well into their fifties and sixties. Not true of the bouldering cave. Here, I feel like I don’t belong, like I’m in one of those “spot the difference” pictures on a diner placemat: One of these things is not like the others.

Maybe I shouldn’t care what people think. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about looking old or foolish or what have you. But I’m shallow and vain, so there you go. I care.

Until I’m actually on the wall. Then I’m not thinking about who is watching me. I’m thinking about if I do this crazy move, will it get me where I need to go, not whether my ass looks weird. (I’m sure it does; but I’m not thinking about that.) I’m also thinking don’t fall don’t fall don’t fall, because falling is still scary as fuck. Most of the time, I’m also thinking, holy shit, this is fun.

And so I do it again.

Running

I Ran Five Miles Today

February 14, 2017

I ran five miles today, which means I officially reached the halfway point of training for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler. Over the next six weeks I’ll add a mile to my long run. Next Friday I have six miles on the calendar. I laugh every time I see it, because really? Six miles? Me? No way.

But I thought that about five miles too, and today that’s what I ran.

Last week was kind of rough, fitness-wise. I upped my strength-training, hoping it would make running easier. I did dead lifts for the first time ever, and I could barely walk the next day, but I still went for a three-mile run. I also went climbing twice instead of just once, and I pushed hard both times. All in all, not the smartest plan for the week. It made the five miles more painful than it should have been.

Still, I got it done. And next week I’ll get the six miles done, too. Or I won’t, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get seven the next time.

I wrote the headline for this blog before I actually ran the five miles. I just figured I would have something to say about it. At mile four, I wasn’t having much fun, but I didn’t want to change that headline. Changing the headline would mean admitting that I failed at something I knew deep down I could do. So I kept running.

Maybe that’s the trick to it. After a certain point, I’m always going to want to stop running. I just have to want something else more.

Outdoors

Embrace Your Inner Adolescent

February 7, 2017

It was my first time skiing.

I couldn’t sleep the night before. I was too excited. I packed my bag: snow pants, an extra pair of socks, sunblock, chapstick. I forgot gloves, like an idiot. I laid out my clothes and programmed my coffee pot for 5:30 am. Then I laid awake, pondering deep, existential questions. Like how big is the bunny slope, exactly? And how does one get on and off the ski lift with what amounts to sleds on one’s feet?

It didn’t matter that I forgot my gloves. My friend brought an extra pair, along with things I hadn’t known I would need. A bank robber mask, for example, to keep my face warm, and goggles to keep the snow and wind out of my eyes. This wasn’t her first time skiing, thank God.

When we got to White Tail I took a lesson while she headed for the non-bunny slope area. I learned how to turn, how to stop, how to slow down, and how to get on and off the ski lift. The bunny slope was much bigger than I thought it would be. At one point I ended up skiing backward, and that was an interesting experience. I don’t recommend it, actually.

After my lesson, we hit the bunny slope again. I was pretty excited to show her that I could make it all the way down the hill without running over any kids. We cruised off the ski lift and I turned right, just like the instructor had shown me. Unfortunately, someone was already standing there, exactly where I wanted to be. I managed to stop a centimeter from his skis.

“Sorry,” I said, and since I was so close, it was more like I whispered it into his ear. But he just laughed and said it was fine. “Look!” I said, turning back to my friend. “I didn’t hit him!”

That was when I fell down. Somehow I forgot the skis were attached to my feet and I tried to turn my whole body. Obviously, that was dumb. I was laughing like crazy, which made it hard to get back on my feet.

On our last run, she decided I could graduate to Sidewinder, which was still a beginner, but not the bunny slope. By this point I was tired and the slope was icy. We spent a lot of time falling down and giggling like school girls when we couldn’t get on our feet again.

When we finally got down the hill, we were both done for the day. I turned in my gear and we ordered pizza.

“I’m tired. I was too excited to sleep last night,” she told me. She looked out the window. The snow was kicking up again, big fluffy flakes making the world look like a Norman Rockwell painting. “I don’t ever want to stop getting excited about things, just because we’re getting older.”

Because that’s what they tell us, isn’t it? Act your age. I suppose they mean don’t laugh so much or shout Whee! quite so loudly and go to sleep at a decent hour.

But what would be the fun in that?

 

 

Running

Race Training Begins Now(ish)

January 31, 2017

I’ve probably said this before, but I’m a mediocre runner. I run to keep my heart healthy, my mind sharp, and my stress levels at bay. It also keeps me in shape during the off-season for things like hiking, and when I have writer’s block, nothing clears my head faster than logging a few miles. All of this, I have found, can be accomplished in three miles, three times a week.

But sometimes I wonder how far I can really go. If I actually tried, could I run five miles? Ten? A half marathon? (Let’s stop there, because there is absolutely no part of me that wants to run a marathon.) Every year, I ask myself this question as I register for the Cherry Blossom lottery. And every year, I register for the 5k instead of the full 10 miles.

Except this year.

I’m a little scared, to be honest. It took me forever to build up from one mile to three, so building from three miles to ten in only ten weeks is daunting. But it’s possible, right?

Hal Higdon says it is in his Novice 15k plan, and that’s the training plan I’m following(ish). I’m skipping the first two weeks of two mile runs and starting at Week 3, with the first bump to four miles. Then I’ll probably add a week at the end with the final bump being nine miles. I’ll also probably add an additional two-mile run every week, which makes it four days of running instead of three. There’s no speed work, which is fine, since my goal is to simply finish, preferably second-to-last or better. What can I say, I’m competitive.

I’m going to try to stick to the schedule and not think too much about it, because when I do think, I start to panic. I’m pretty sure I can run four miles or even five, but beyond that? Six miles is going to hurt. I can’t even imagine seven miles, and at that point I’ll still have three miles to go. Eep.

And there are hills on the race course. HILLS. Which means I’m going to have to suck it up and start running outside, where the hills are.

So. I’m excited. And also terrified. But mostly excited.