Adjusted Reality

“Reality can be beaten with enough imagination.” – Mark Twain

Month: January 2010 Page 2 of 4

I Got Nothin’ Today I’m going to re-run an old post.  Originally from March 2009, titled “On Perfection”.  Look for happy fun italicised text explaining WTF I’m talking about in some places.  Have a lovely weekend!

Once again, Charlotte makes me think.  This post didn’t quite go where I thought it was going to – but I’ll try to tie it in a little at the end.

I am a recovering perfectionist.  I still fantasize occasionally what my life would have been like if I had shunned everything and decided to really try for elite gymnastics.  I wonder if I would have given it another 6 months of 100 hour weeks at my last job, if I could have finally turned it around and got the support and recognition we needed and deserved.  I wonder what fitnessy pursuits I could have undertaken in my 20s if I wouldn’t have been so anti-athletics and gained a billion lbs.  I wonder what life would have been like if I really dedicated myself to pursuing the acting bug that really caught me in college instead of being scared of being another diet-pill-addicted waitress in LA looking for her big break for the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my life.  Really.  Sure, I could pick out 10 or 20 little things I’d like to change, but mostly it’s the lazy stuff like more money, less stress from stupid shit at work that could be avoided by communication, a maid, a butler, a helicopter, etc.  I love that I have a stable job in an industry I love and I get to do amazing things like audition, cast, and then direct professional actors.  I love the wonderful Zliten I ended up with and nothing in the world could make me happier.  I am proud of taking this big lumpy lump of clay that was my body 2 years ago and molding it into a pretty darn nice sculpture (if I may say so myself), and it can do things like run races and lift heavy things and dance for 3 hours and keep up with anyone doing just about anything.  I have a group of great friends who are a hell of a lot of fun.  I have a house which I am still seeming to be able to pay mortgage, so that’ a bonus.

But, truth is, I am not a beautiful and unique snowflake.  I guess I’m lucky enough to have a variety of hits on my name that are actually me.  I’ve enjoyed some mild internet fame as Sapphyra the drunken barbarian being interviewed on gaming websites and participating in podcasts.  The pinnacle of my fame was a for real magazine distributed nationwide in the millions interviewed me and did a 2 page spread on my 3 year old game – which is actually a miracle.  However, I really had (have) this big huge desire to be famous in some way.  I want to leave my mark on humanity, and I want people to know my name as being truly excellent at…something.  This drive is what causes me to really dig into something I love and want to be good at, and can make me crazy because I WANT TO BE THE BEST AT IT.

Instead, I am not the best at anything.  I never got past level 8 in gymnastics.  I never even got to state in diving (argh, by one place, both years!) and didn’t get an athletic scholarship for college.  I had mostly bit parts in college theatre and sometimes didn’t even get cast.  I’m middle management instead of overlord of my own project.  I don’t have the fanciest car, best decorated house, and I can’t make it to all the cool parties I see and want to attend because I really enjoy my sleep in my old age.

After many years in life of wishing I could be really, really good at something and berating myself if I couldn’t, I came to a realization.  I found that to be the best in the world at one thing (or even attempt it), you have to also give up being even moderately good at mostly everything else.  Elite gymnasts have no lives outside the gym.  People who live and breathe their jobs usually end up burnt, unhealthy, and sometimes alone.  If you want to be good at something, you have to work for it.  Extraordinary results require extraordinary effort (or something like that), and effort = time.  Time is something we have a finite amount of, even if we are, in fact, perfect.

In the wisdom the comes with old age (yes, I’m going to milk this until it gets old…like me…zing! note: this was just after my 30th birthday, tee hee), it is apparent that I can only control what I do with the 24 hours I get every day, and just about nothing else.  If I want to become a better runner, guess what I need to spend some of those hours doing?  If I want to sell jewelry on Etsy, guess what I need to spend my time doing?  It’s certainly not zoning out to TV and laying on the couch for hours…

I’ve already realized that if I am NOT something, there’s no use dwelling on it.  Instead of saying that I’m a horrible person because I forgot to get my doctor visit in before 30 and I’m lazy and stupid and I’m now probably going to die because they didn’t catch a rare disease with no symptoms early enough (ok, now I AM starting to freak myself out so I should stop that…tee hee), it’s first on my list of things to do and I’ll get to it when I can (note: took me until November…).  Same with running a 10k (note: took me until April – see where my priorities are?).  Same with finishing 10 jewelery items and selling it on Etsy (note: never did this – maybe someday).  I’d say same with getting myself some new clothes/workout clothes, but I really don’t seem to have ANY problems with that.

If more people could treat themselves like their friends treat them (or like they SHOULD treat you if you have crappy friends), then we’d all be much better off.  Next time you start having perfectionist thoughts berating yourself for not being something you think you should be, start coming up with a plan to become it.  You can’t change the past, so it’s useless to lament over things that are there and will never be again.  Chances are, it will either seem silly once you start scheming about how to become an elite gymnast at the age of 30, or it will lead somewhere you never thought you could go.  I’m still working on it, but I’m not perfect.  And that’s becoming more and more ok with me.

Ask The Audience

So it was another loooooong day at work, then a 6 mile tempo at the gym (which I ROCKED even though I REALLY DID NOT WANT thank you Felice, THIS post was amazing), I’m beat.  Physically and mentally.  And I have that same deep-y thought post staring at me and I’m just staring back at it blinking with an empty brain.  Oh well, perhaps tomorrow.  I am going to be a cheater cheater bo beater (see, brains-no-worky) and make this a conversation and not me and my soapbox.  So, the dear happy lot of you, these are some things that I wonder about you.  Please feel free to comment answering any, all, or none of them.  I’m pulling this from my brain, so get ready for a technicolor ride.  Or something.

1.  Tell me one time that you were truly and completely happy.  I don’t just mean content, but full of joy.  Almost enraptured.  Like your heart was going to burst if you felt anything else.

2.  If you could eat one type of food for the rest of your life, what would it be?  For example, I might say “sandwiches”.

3.  How did your significant other propose?  If you’re not married/engaged/etc, what is your dream proposal?

4.  I see you at a bar, and I say next round’s on me, and the bartender has every beverage in the world.  What do you order?

5.  What is the sneakiest thing you’ve ever gotten away with (that you’ll admit to publicly)?

6.  Tell me about the most intense, ballsy, crazy, fear-conquering, superhuman, proud-moment thing you’ve ever done in your life.

7.  If you could erase ONE thing from your history, and make like it never happened, what would it be?

8.  Hey, hot stuff.  What are you wearing?  Like right now.  No cheating.

9.  Lady Gaga, awesome or overrated?

10.  If you could time travel back 10 years, and leave yourself a very short and cryptic note so as not to screw up the time space continuum, what would you say?

And that my friends, is a DIY post if I ever saw one.  But it only works if you comment!  I’ll add mine tomorrow in between the crazy.  But here’s the catch – I’ll answer ONLY the ones that someone else answered first.  So if you have a burning desire to know my opinion of Lady Gaga, you have to offer up yours first.  I dunno – sounded like a fun, fluffy post, so let’s see if this is a fun game or it sucks balls.  However, for now, I’m taking my tired legs to bed.  Deep thought tomorrow?  Looking unlikely.  But we can always hope.

Random Non-Obvious Half Marathon Advice

So I had a lovely, lovely *deepthought* type post planned for today and then today happened – a 2.5 hour dentist appointment, a super busy (and late) day at work, and I’m not in any capacity to do anything but shallowthought.  So hopefully tomorrow I’ll scoop out my brainpan and throw it all over.  Today, something a little lighter.

I’ve gotten a few requests for half marathon advice.  I’ve posted EXTENSIVELY on the training methods and emotions and play by plays of my runs and whatnot, but here are some random right before/during/right after the race advice I can pull together from the last race and both training endeavors. In no particular order and absolutely not inclusive of all advice – just what’s off the top of my head, I present my tips and tricks.  Not including having this chasing you (I know I’d get a PR fo sho…)

1.  Bring slippers to the race.  There is nothing like getting out of those shoes you just ran 13.1 miles in and putting on something fuzzy.  Bring a change of clothes too.  Generally you will be too tired to care, but if you’re exceptionally sweaty or it’s rainy or muddy or if you might just feel like NOT wearing what you spent the last 2+ hours running in, it’s nice to have the option.  Especially if it’s a long way home.

2.  Mentally prepare and visualize a perfect race day, and then realize it’s going to be anything but.  I was so late to my first half marathon my warmup was a half mile all out sprint to the start line and I had to haggle with the race officials to let me cross the timing start since they were taking it down.   Not a graceful start at all.  I’ve run 5ks in pouring rain and one course had sticks in part of the path.  Yeah, it’s as uncomfortable as it sounds to run on.  Shit is going to happen.  Whatever it is, you are a rockstar and you can recover from it.  Don’t let anything shake you.  This is your damn day.

3.  Don’t plan anything after the race.  You might be totally rarin’ to go and that’s cool, but you might also be so drained you can barely walk.  My first 10k, I was so pumped after we did a big long bike ride that same day.  Same after some of my double digit runs – I do believe I did a 11 mile run and a 20+ mile ride in the same day.  After the half?  WIPED the fuck out.  Just wanted to eat massive amounts of food and then go home and spend the evening with my butt planted on the couch.

4.  DO NOT DIET the week of your race.  I know you’re running less.  I know the scale might get angry with you.  Make sure to ingest lots of awesome healthy food and ignore the fact you’re only running what feels like a warmup.  Whatever was working for you before, keep it goin’.  Also, splurge after the race.  You don’t have to eat the moon, but definitely take the opportunity to have something yummy.  I mean, you just burned over 1500 calories if you ran a half marathon, and even if you ran a shorter race – you just ran the hardest you ever have in your life!  Get THAT THING that you have been salivating over.   This is THE DAY for it.

5.  Speaking of eating, eat something the night before that you know is not going to bother your tummy.  My meal was steak, fried shrimp, mashed potatoes, a loaf of bread, and salad.  Nothing spicy, which is difficult for me, and nothing from a questionable food cart.  I went with a chain steakhouse I’ve eaten at dozens of times.  Most people say stay away from so much protein and fat, but it did me great.  For me, it was VITAL I did not wake up hungry because I won’t get up early enough before the race to eat anything substantial (grumble grumble stupid early start times grumble grumble).

6.  Even if you’re not going to eat a full meal in the morning, eat something.  A protein bar or a normal AM type snack for you is good.  Something you’ve eaten close to working out and been ok.  And make sure to hydrate.

7.  What does eating lead to… hmmm?   Yeah.  Try to #1 and #2 as many times as you can before the race, #2 mostly.  It disturbed me I could not do the later for about 24 hours before the race and I was SO EFFING scared I was going to have to stop during the race but my body did me alright.  But make sure you give yourself the chance.  Once you get going the sweat should balance out the need to pee so just make sure you go before the race and you should be fine.

8.  Don’t get to the end of the race and don’t get your time reported because you went the wrong way!  Or, you might feel like this guy above.  If you have questions while running, ask the race officials.  I don’t know how many people got DQ’d on the last race but it was quite a few… it was definitely a confusing course.  The officials are there to help, don’t worry that you look stupid.

9.  Do whatever feels good after the race.  Sure, you’ll recover faster if you keep moving.  But honestly?  Who cares!  You just blew your load.  You ran your big race.  You’re probably not going to run for a few days, so don’t push yourself.  I collapsed about 100 feet after the finish line, rested, got up, hobbled to the water cooler, collapsed again, drank about 10 glasses of water, hobbled to a bench, and stretched.  I tried to do the post race thing but what I really wanted was to sit, so I left.  See #3 about not planning anything.

10.  Give yourself a break.  If you push yourself to the limit and give 110% (or do some other cheesy sports cliche phrase type thing), it’s going to take a while to get your mojo back.  Do some easy cross training  the next week.  Maaaaybe some really easy jogging-like runs.  It is going to take a WHILE to want to go either FAST or FAR.  You just spent 3 months doing some really intense things with your body.  Give it the recovery time it needs.  Go swimming.  Ride your bike.  Take up dancing.  These are the things I did for about a MONTH before I started running again.  I wondered if I would ever run again like I did before that month.  But a few months later, after resting a bit, I shredded my 5k time by almost a full minute (and more in practice).  And you know how strong I’m feeling lately.  So no matter how weak you feel shortly after, know you WILL recover.  Chill out and do some active recovery.

Other little tidbits?  Smile during the race.  You love this.  This is your day, and you are carpe-ing it.  Run hard, leave it all on the course, and have fun.  Enjoy the course (personally, I DON’T study courses which is so all against my controlling, type-A ness, but for some reason, I like the surprise that day and rolling with it).  Cheer other runners on if you get the chance.  Double knot your laces so they don’t come undone.  Carry at least one 100-calorie pure sugar source.  Don’t train with any sports drink – it’s so much better to be able to use it as your ace in the hole.   Lift your hands and celebrate wildly when you cross the finish line – it’s unlikely anyone will get a proper picture of it, but they’re cool when they come out.

Any silly or random race tips to share?  Any more serious specific half marathon or race questions you want me to answer – I mean – I’m not an expert, but this will be my 7th race in a year, so it’s not my first BBQ, so I’ll be happy to share any biased and twisted wisdom I can.

Injuries – Then and Now

Today is brought to you by the I-word.  Yeah, injuries.  No, thank my lucky stars, I don’t have another one.  I’m actually feeling pretty great, thanks, minus a little fatigue from walking 6 miles yesterday which should hopefully subside as I sit on my ass all day at the office.  If it were a normal week, I’d be taking today off, running Tu/Thu/Sat, but life got in the way.  I’ve got a dentist appt and an industry meetup tomorrow, and lunch with the ‘rents Wednesday, so if I don’t run today I will have to get up WAY WAY too early to squeeze it in, so that makes the decision a done deal for me.

Now the reason that I’ve got injuries on the brain is THIS POST.  Mizfit captures my awe for 1) being so type B to my type A that she can just go run when she feels like it without a specific goal/race/program/etc and 2) she says she has never been injured.  Holy crap, woman, that is an accomplishment!

I’ve spent most of my life being a walking injury.  Only NOW am I realizing how abnormal that is and should be.  My excuse for everything used to be my weak ankles (if it wasn’t my size, heh).  This guy is pretty abnormal too.

When I was a wee thing I fell in love with gymnastics.  I loved the flipping, twisting, adrenaline rush associated with running full bore into something springy and propelling myself up into the air.  But as we all know, what comes up must come down.  And it doesn’t always come down quite as planned when you’re doing this over and over 5-6 times per week for 4-7 hours per day.

It’s worth mentioning that I was a fairly large gymnast, both height and mass-wise – even with all that training I was 5’3″ (I must mention that I grew 2 inches at age 16 when I quit – within probably 3 months…) and 115-125, so a fairly average weight/BMI.  I don’t look scary skinny in those pictures, I look like a normal human.  This is great for not being picked on in school, but rough on the joints.  Oh, I got pretty far because I was determined/stubborn, and I was pretty fearless, but it got to the point where to advance, the cost just seemed too high.

You see, for about the year before I quit, I had a routine.  Every day when I was getting ready, I would pop 2-4 advil, completely tape up both ankles, pull braces over the taped ankles, put on special slippers that provided a little more stability/support, and off I went.  I mean, any sane person would realize that it was time to take a break and let myself recover, right?  Well, not me, because I was a stubborn ASS and I had 2 years left before recruiters would be looking at me and I needed to get better so I could get a scholarship or life would fall apart and and and… yeah.

And my coaches never helped much – I remember the day before I came down with chicken pox I was fevery and shaky and I was almost in tears because I felt SO AWFUL but it was two days before a big meet so I was trying to push through but kinda failing.  I was yelled at, called a baby, so I got up, did what I had to do, then went and pretty much passed out on the floor while stretching.  Same with injuries – if it wasn’t in a cast, they didn’t believe it hurt enough to stay off it.

But ya know, I found a sick satisfaction in working through injuries.  That I was tougher because of it.   That I was going to overcome.

Now I know how stooooooooopid that is.  Not that I don’t have the urges, but now I have science and logic backing me up. Y’know, the knowledge that pushing through workouts when you’re sick actually makes you LOSE fitness and not resting an injury makes that body part WEAKER, not stronger.  And the only coach I have calling me a baby is the one in my head – and I’ve got some good control over her.  I just say “SCIENCE” and she shuts the hell up.

Pic unrelated, but cute!  Anyhoo, I also train much smarter now.  I don’t RELISH the strength training, but after the AMAZING gains I saw in my running post 30-Day-Shred, I am a believer.  I wish I remembered where I saw the quote, but you have to earn your right to run by strengthening and maintaining your body. In gymnastics/diving, it was just the icky I had to look like I was doing so my coaches didn’t yell at me.  For some reason, I never put two and two together that if I really ROCKED the conditioning, then I might get better.

I make sure my running has periods of ebb (running 5k distance 2 times per week and lots of cross training) and flow (last week’s mileage? 30.5 miles).  Also, I’m very in tune with my body and try to listen when it whispers so I don’t get knocked the fuck out when it shouts at me.  I know that I’ll never be immune to acute injuries like tripping and spraining my ankle, but adequate warmups and cooldowns, rest, stretching, and incremental increases in mileage/pace instead of leaps will keep me from those evil chronic overuse injuries.   It’s odd to say that I hurt myself less at 30 than I did at 13, but it’s true.

So, internet-ians, what do you think?  What’s the worst injury you’ve ever had?   Have you ever just tried to “rub some dirt in it” (or slap some tape on it in my case) and just keep going?  How bad do things have to get before you cancel your workouts and just rest?

p.s.  I don’t usually do this, but Chocolate Covered Katie is a very cool chick, a runner girl, and actually makes vegan eating look awesome.  She is also giving away a vita-mix, so please never ever visit her site because I want to win it.  Okie? 🙂

Second Half Marathon Training: Week 9

Well, this week was the week of almosts.  Of getting about 90%.  Of testing my limits and finding them.  Of just not quite having the juice to put up rock solid times, but close enough that I feel good about it.  The saying is close only counts for horseshoes and hand grenades, but I think it works for training too.  When close is still putting in the miles, and still feeling pushed to the limit, I’ll take it.

Monday’s run foretold a lot.  As I complained about here, I was just not recovered from my long run + epic night of drinking + crap food.  I’ve done that same workout before minus a mile, and I’ve never felt so bleh during a sprint before.  I made it through the first two, and *probably* could have held on during the third, but since I had four to do, I went ahead and slowed from sprint to tempo pace.  I was a little disappointed, but overall, it was not so bad.  I put in the miles, and just barely missed the mark.

Wednesday was the run I was super excited/nervous about.  I totally prepared, did everything right, and then I got to mile 6 and had to slow down or I was not going to make it.  On that day, I was simply unable to run that pace for that many miles.  6 miles or 7 miles?  I could have done it.  Not 8.

Saturday’s 11 mile run, I made the awesome decision/mistake to tackle the hill that fucked me up last week TWICE.  I just didn’t recover well after it, and most of my latter miles were either just under or just over the 10 min/mile pace.  I did finish the run at a 9:57 pace, and considering miles 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 were uphill, I”m calling this a win.  I think I’m going to pick something a little flatter for my 12 miler to see if I can hit the 9:40 pace.

So that being said, I’m feeling like I did what I could, though I am definitely starting to feel some muscle fatigue that isn’t recovering in my days between runs.  So – this training method is MUCH better than the run-more one, but it is not impervious.  Oh well.  The good news is that now my tempo runs start to taper, and two weeks from now, so does everything else.  So I just have to tell my stumps-for-legs that they just have to hold out a LITTLE longer, and then we can start getting rested for the race.

I still feel badass, I still feel strong, but I don’t really feel untouchable anymore.  Which is ok.  I was getting to be a little Cockypants McGee and while confidence is good, having some runs that don’t go your way helps you learn.  I learned a lot from the runs this week.  And though I could certainly have hoped for a little more out of all three, I definitely refreshed my memory on how to recover a run that’s not going my way and still kick about 90% as much ass.

By the numbers:

Monday: 4x 1600 sprints @ 8:25 pace  – check (did 2 @ pace and then 2 @ 8:50)

Tuesday: DDR circuits – check

Wednesday: 8 mile tempo @ 8:55 pace – check (ended up at 9:07 pace)

Thursday: DDR circuits – check

Friday: off

Saturday: 11 mile run @ 9:40 pace – check (ended up at 9:57 pace)

Sunday: off – actually cross trained (6 mile hike around the hood) for next week due to a) beautimous day and b) weekday shenanigans, so I can have an extra day off.

So, next week.  This week and next week, and then it’s taper.  Getting close!  Less than a month away!

Monday: 6×800 sprints @ 8:10 pace (4:05 per 800)

Tuesday: DDR circuits

Wednesday: yoga/off

Thursday: 6 mile tempo run

Friday: yoga/off

Saturday: 15k race pace (shooting for somewhere under 9:40)

Sunday: off

So a little less mileage, but 3 super intense fast pace runs.  If I can get through Monday’s on not-completely-rested legs, I think I will be alright.  Send good, happy, zippy thoughts!  What do you do when you’re partway through a run (or workout) and don’t think you’re going to make it?

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