Let’s Talk About Balance

March 14, 2017

Before I started training for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, my typical week looked like this: Monday-Wednesday-Friday was a three mile run. Tuesday-Thursday was strength training. And generally, two or three days climbing, either after work or on weekends or both. Often I would do a hike on the weekends, the duration of which would depend on whether I had my kids with me or not.

Now? Four days a week, I run. The runs vary in length, but the shortest is four miles. I climb once or twice a week, because I can’t not climb. I don’t hike. I don’t strength train. It’s not just a matter of time. My legs are tired. I am arguably less active now than I was before I started race training. (Yet somehow eating more? It’s a mystery.)

It turns out you can’t have it all. I don’t know why I thought I could sneak in extra runs and longer runs without sacrificing something else. I’m super frustrated with how tired I was getting during climbing. Instead of six or seven climbs, I do three or four–but they’re harder, so there’s that, too. I’m seeing less muscle definition in my arms, and I’m not happy about that.

There are so many people out there who run much further than I do. People doing halfs and full marathons. People doing ultras. What’s the secret? Do you just let everything else go and focus solely on running? Are you happy with that?

The thing is, I like how much my running stamina has improved. I’m actually relieved when I see a day with “just” five miles on the schedule, and I never thought I’d say that. I don’t want to give that up, either. Why can’t I have both without quitting my day job?

For now, I remind myself that training isn’t forever. The race is over April 2. On April 8, you can find me outside, climbing.


How To Psych Yourself Up For A 7 Mile Run

March 7, 2017



1.   Try to talk yourself out of it. Ask yourself: Self, why the hell do you want to do this? It’s not for weight loss, because now that your shortest run is four miles, you eat all the food. It’s not for health, either, because quite frankly, three miles three times a week is plenty to keep your heart in shape.

2.  Procrastinate. Maybe fold some socks or something.

3.  Realize your current playlist is not long enough to get you through this run. Panic.

4.  Add new songs to playlist. “I’m On It” from Nashville; “Instant Crush” by Daft Punk; “Something Just Like This” by Chainsmokers; “Scotty Doesn’t Know” from EuroTrip (aka the BEST MOVIE EVER, other than Paint Your Wagon, because let’s face it, nothing tops Clint Eastwood and Lee Marvin singing duets).

5. Consider that instead of running seven miles, maybe your time would be better spent internet stalking Julian Casablancas.

6. Check fares to England. Sigh.

7. Clean the bathroom.

8. You are out of procrastination time, because you’re meeting a friend at the climbing gym tonight. Damn it.

9. Run.

10. Maybe it sucks. Undoubtedly part of it did. But there are also moments when you realize, hey, this actually feels pretty good. Your legs feel tired but strong, and you like that. You like the sweat dripping in your eyes, even though it stings a little. You finally have an answer to your question, and it only took seven miles to find it: You run because you like to do hard things. Sometimes it really is that simple.



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.


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.