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Eight Months from Now… Boston, 2015

Bravery is a word being repeated over and over again, and very loudly, in my head as of lately. These past few months have left me feeling stuck, uncertain, and at an uncomfortable place in my life. As I stood at the Eminem concert Saturday night, attempting to rap the lyrics, I became overwhelmed with a profound understanding as to just why I loved him so much as an artist, a a rapper, and as a person. There are few people in this world who have been through all that he has and come out on the better side of it. There are few people in this world who have demonstrated the grit, the determination, and courage that he has throughout his life and for those reasons, I have respect for what he represents as a human being. I want to represent those qualities.

The following night after the concert I had two very vivid dreams. One involving a flood and the other involving snakes, in that order. After a quick google search of the meanings of these dreams it seems that a flood can represent an overwhelming issue while snakes can represent a healing process. As I watched Eminem perform on Saturday that’s exactly how I felt. Overwhelmed with the past few months and done with feeling sorry for myself. There is nothing better than an Eminem song to make you realize it’s time to pick your ass up and move on. That’s how I felt then and I feel even stronger about it now.

September 12 is the day I can register for Boston. I’ve beat my qualifying time by 9 minutes and I know that my third chance awaits me. I met with my very aggressive, heavy handed, painful (but in a good way) sports massage therapist today and we discussed the possibility of running Boston. He says go for it, provided I have a plan and a coach to keep me in check. (Left to my own training plan, I might give myself a second hip fracture. I’m that hard headed.) I want to do it. I want to do it so badly it has become a constant thought in the back of my head. I know people think I shouldn’t do it and considering what has happened over these last few months, it doesn’t really make sense for me to do it. But do things always have to make sense? I think about all the times someone must have told Eminem he was crazy or out of his league, and he just kept on doing his thing. Following his path and his dream. I want to be that person too.

Tomorrow marks 8 months from the next Patriot’s Day. I have three weeks to decide if I’m going to sign up but I can already tell you my heart says yes. I want to do this. I want this to be my comeback story. Of course I realize that it may not be and that I may never make it to that start line, but I’ll be damned if I don’t give it a shot. I have to be brave enough to follow my dreams, my heart, and my path, wherever that may take me. I have to have the grit, determination, and courage to give it all that I have, because it’s going to take exactly that. And I’m ready for it.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

 

Thank You to my Awesome Support Team

Today has been somewhat of a whirlwind of emotions kind of day. It started off pretty crappy and has ended completely the opposite. I have a newfound appreciation of signs from the Universe and my soul feels happy.

I tripped last Thursday and my hip/leg were not very pleased with me. It hurt to walk, I was limping pretty bad, and even swimming hurt. I almost left the gym in tears this morning. It was depressing and I didn’t know what to do. In my world, I had just taken one giant leap backwards. Like 1 1/2 months of recovery thrown out the window. Visions of a second surgery kept entering into my mind and I was so sad. I came home and wrote about how I was crazy, how I couldn’t let my body heal properly because I was too obsessed with exercise, how I was letting this self-created identity of a runner take over my life, and how I was too hard on myself. When I went to hit publish, I was informed that my domain had expired. That post was never published and I actually don’t think it ever will be. Thank you Universe.

As I drove to physical therapy this afternoon I couldn’t resist the urge to listen to my favorite Eminem songs. Partly because I’m going to see him in concert this weekend and partly because his music makes me feel pretty bad ass. I only need to hear “Lose Yourself” one time and I think I can take on the world. Follow that with “I’m Not Afraid” and I’m pretty sure I’m the one in control of my destiny. That was exactly what I needed in that moment.

Before I continue to the next part of my afternoon, allow me to set the stage…. I had physical therapy at 1:30 followed by a doctor’s appointment at 3:30. After my unfortunate incident on Thursday, I wanted to see my doctor so I could be reassured I didn’t rebreak my bone. Now, I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to take a picture with my doc, for blogging purposes of course, but he’s kind of like McDreamy and I was too embarrassed. Fast forward two weeks later and here I am again, Opportunity #2 awaited me…

Physical therapy was a new experience for me today. Shawn decided to try dry needling and I was willing to do whatever to help my pain. Did I mention needles are the one thing I can’t stand? After four very uncomfortable needles stuck into my muscles, I allowed myself to breathe again and then to stand up. Sore, yes. Still in pain, somewhat. But oddly enough, it didn’t feel nearly as bad as it did when I walked into that office. Perhaps that is why I tripped last Thursday. So I could discover the wonders of dry needling. Why have we not been doing this more?

Before I left for my doctor’s appointment, I wanted to get a picture with Shawn. He’s been so helpful during these past few months and in addition, it gave me practice for asking my doc at my upcoming appointment. (How old am I, seriously?)

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At my doctor’s appointment, everything came out fine. My x-rays looked great, I still had great range of motion, and there was no damage to my hip. Dr. Solic, told me I was fine and in the back of my head, all I can think is I have to ask for this picture. What’s the worst that can happen? He says no? And if so, so what? Well he was more than happy to take the picture and my ego remained in tact. And now I get to share it with you…

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And all of this has made me realize that perhaps that is the point of not publishing my previous post. Perhaps it was so I could say thank you to the two people who have helped me through these past three months. To say thank you to the doctor who put me back together and thank you to the PT who has shown me my body is so out of whack and so out of balance. If you had told me a year ago I would be where I am today, with a fractured hip and a titanium rod, I would have never believed you. But a lot has happened since my surgery on April 30th and I’m grateful for the two people who have helped me along the way.

It reminds me of a quote I read this morning… “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” I’ll get there eventually. I know I will.

Now I wonder if insurance will cover for them to come cheer me on at my next marathon…. ;)

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

 

PS: That dry needling worked wonders and I feel 100% better. For any runner suffering from sort sort of muscle issue, it’s totally worth looking into.

Update: Three Months Post Surgery (and lessons learned)

There is no greater teacher than life itself. For years, I thought I knew a thing or two about mindfulness, determination, willpower, the drive to push harder, etc. In fact, I knew so much about determination, that I walked 7 miles on a fractured hip. There is a thin line between how much is just enough and how much is too much. For some things in life, I believe I err on the side of too much. I’m not sure I ever really understood that about myself until this injury.

Throughout this entire recovery process, I always thought I could push harder and cross train more. I thought my successes were good, but not great, and whenever anyone questioned my ability to return to running, I’d use those words to fuel my fire. I never took the time to celebrate the small victories along the way, but more than anything, I wasn’t really kind to myself. My body is so weak. My yoga poses suck. I’ve gained 5 pounds. I should be doing more.

I’m hard on myself and I’m hard on my body. Even as I write this now I’m thinking that I should go for a short run, regardless of the fact that I already had an interval session this morning, which was followed by burpees, man makers (my new favorite exercise), and leg weights with my PT. Not to mention I’m juicing for the day, which has led to a pretty constant state of hunger. I try too hard. Last Friday, as I stood by the Whole Foods breakfast bar, staring at my spinach and eggs, I decided enough was enough. I picked up the biggest piece of creme brûlée french toast I could find and ate every single bite of it. Sometimes the battle isn’t worth it and you have to give in, embrace life, and stop fighting yourself so much.

Wednesday marks three months since my surgery. Today I had another follow up appointment, and besides being told I should never have that screw taken out (which I really want to happen), it was a very successful visit. My X-rays looked good, my bone is healed, and my range of motion has greatly improved. (Side note: I was going to ask my doc for a pic to go along with this blog post, but I couldn’t do it. He’s kind of like the cutest doctor around, in a McDreamy sort of way, and I didn’t want him to think I was a stalker. Maybe I’ll get over my embarrassment by the time of my next visit. If I don’t, click here.) In the three months that have passed, life has given me the opportunity to demonstrate lessons learned. And because I like lists, I’d like to share my takeaways from these last few months:

1) Celebrate small accomplishments. I’ve been focusing too much on the end goal: running again. It has distracted me from celebrating my small victories along the way. My first 20 minute run, my almost normal range of motion, my warrior 3 pose that didn’t involve me falling flat on my face, the ability to tie my shoes again, my swimming, even if I’m not that great at it. These are all stepping stones along the path and even if they don’t seem like much, they are. It’s important to celebrate the small things.

The first pic in 2 weeks post surgery and the second was taken last week. I never thought my knee would get that close to the ground ever again.

The first pic is 2 weeks post surgery and the second was taken last week. I never thought my knee would get that close to the ground ever again.

2) I don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations except my own. Having that runner part of my identity taken away has really caused me to struggle. I feel like everyone looks at me and thinks she use to be able to run this far and this fast. Now she’ll never do that again. This is a perception I have created in my own head and it is none of my business what other people think about me or my ability as a runner. Nobody else has to travel my path and therefore, whatever anyone else thinks has no impact on me. Only my expectations matter.

3) Negative self talk is toxic. I haven’t always said the nicest things to myself with regards to this injury. I’ve been hard on myself and I’ve sent my body a lot of wrong messages. These three months have taught me to practice a little self-love and to forgive myself when things don’t go as I expected. I should be my biggest fan. Period.

4) It’s okay to let go sometimes. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to eat that french toast from Whole Foods last Friday morning. It sounds odd but every time I go there, I always get a salad and eggs for breakfast. So many times I stare at the waffles or french toast and think how badly I want some. Friday I did, and it was the best feeling to savor every bite of that sugary deliciousness. And then, when I slept in until 7:00 am Saturday morning, I wondered what in the world had I been missing out on! I never knew it was so great to sleep in until after the sun came up.

5) Everything has a purpose. People always say everything has a purpose and I know this. But I’ve never really experienced something bad like this and had to search for the good in it. Every day I search for the answer and every day I come closer to seeing the good. Perhaps the most important and obvious thing this has taught me is that my body is completely out of whack and very imbalanced. My physical therapy sessions are a blessing. But I’m also finding a new level of mental toughness I didn’t even know I had. The first time I ever ran a marathon, I was certain I would cry when I crossed the finish line. I didn’t then and I never have. I believe that the next marathon I run is going to require a mental and physical effort like I have never known before. And perhaps that is the purpose of all this. To find out what I’m really capable of and how deep I can really dig.

Three months have gone by slowly, and quickly at the same time. I’m excited to see what the next three months will bring.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

There Are No Wrong Turns

I’m a Taurus and so is my husband. It’s the perfect zodiac sign for me and if you’re unfamiliar with the character traits of a Taurus, allow me to share the following, as it is relevant to this post:

“Taurus are not fond of change. In fact, if change is imminent, they get very nervous and worried. They do not like anything new because anything new is unknown and Taurus fears the unknown. Taurus needs order in their lives and when they do not have order, they get very anxious. Taurus will cut themselves off from the unfamiliar in order to avoid the feelings of insecurity that arise when new experiences and situations are present.”

Yep, that’s about right. Change up my routine and I might freak out.

Last week I wrote that I was a lazy ass who needed to step away from cardio and embrace a little strength training. Lucky for me, the Universe decided to see how serious I was about that statement and on Friday, my lovely friend Susan invited me to hot yoga on Saturday morning. Saturday morning!?!? That’s my long cardio day! When I got her message, my lizard brain kicked in. The part of my brain that hates change and risk. The part of my brain that, as Seth Godin puts it, is the resistance that says back off, go slow, compromise. Immediately I started rationalizing in my head how I couldn’t miss my bike ride and elliptical “run”. Saturdays are meant for long hours of sweating.

Seriously? Was I really still making excuses to do 2 hours of cardio after I JUST said I needed to do the exact opposite? Here was my opportunity and I was already trying to shut it down. Perhaps it is the Taurus in me.

Luckily, I made myself commit to Susan before I could talk myself out of it. Then I immediately signed up online and paid for the class in advance. That way there was no chance of me backing out. Saturday morning came and at 7:50 am, I was on my mat, ready to go.

Hot yoga and I go way back. There was a time when I did Bikram religiously for a year. I loved the discipline, the difficulty, and the structure of the class. When I got to class Saturday morning, I had in my mind that all would be fine. I was a former Bikram student who was pretty decent at the poses and could by all means handle the heat. Oh how life has a sense of humor sometimes. You see a lot of things have changed since then. One, I haven’t been to hot yoga in years and two, I now have hardware inside my body. In particular, a screw that I feel jabbing me in the hip joint with just about every step I take. And add to that a left leg that wobbles like jelly because the cut muscles have yet to heal completely. My visions of graceful transitions and smooth warrior poses went out the window with my first attempt at chaturanga, downward dog, hop forward, forward bend. I am not the yoga student I once was and it was a hard reality check 10 minutes into class.

There came a point in class, perhaps while I was shaking uncontrollably in warrior 3, when it occurred to me that I should stop fighting myself. I should stop comparing my poses to the girl in front of me and I should stop being upset with myself that I didn’t have the flexibility or range of motion that I once did. I felt like I was trying to be someone I wasn’t and it was exhausting. I was fighting my current place in this world, the current condition of my body, and there was really no point to it. Why was I spending so much mental energy thinking about how I used to be so much better? That serves no purpose.

Then at the very end of class, the instructor read the following passage:

“There are no wrong turns, only paths we didn’t know we were meant to walk. In the end, to be a success you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to remain perfectly capable of improving. Keep letting your mistakes strengthen you. Life is a series of little journeys. Allow each step to be a teachable moment. And don’t confuse your path with your destination. Just because it’s stormy sometimes doesn’t mean you aren’t headed for sunshine.”

There is a part of me that is still fighting my hip and my body. Every time I take a step, I feel the constant reminder of my 2014 Boston  Marathon experience. And ever since I started running again, just about every day has been an emotional roller coaster. But I’m glad I switched up my routine Saturday morning. I’m glad I went to that yoga class and realized how much I was fighting myself and my body. But above all, I’m thankful for those words shared by the instructor at the end of class. They were the perfect words at the perfect moment. This is my path right now but I know my destination is sunshine.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

PS: I ran my second full mile on Sunday. It was slightly less painful and 10 seconds faster.

I Am Lazy

One hundred seconds is a very short amount of time. In fact, there are few things that you can start and finish in just 100 seconds. It takes longer than that just to brush your teeth. And based on the fact that at age 31, I had my very first cavity filled this morning, it seems I should be brushing a little longer. But I digress…

One minute and 40 seconds was all it took for me this morning to come to the sound conclusion that I, although I thought I was and some people may disagree, am not owning my healing process. I want results but not to endure change. That makes me lazy and you are probably wondering what the heck I am talking about. I shall explain.

First and foremost, you must watch this profound message from one of my all time favorite people, Jonathan Fields. If you don’t watch it, you’ll be confused. Go ahead, watch it. It’s only one minute and 40 seconds and it’ll leave you pondering your actions as a human being and as a member of society. I’ll be right here when you get back.

Go. Watch. It.

Intense, right? And although I don’t agree with the term “nobody”, he brings to light a very true fact. People want things to change. Change is hard. Subsequently, people (generally speaking), don’t do the work to make change happen. People don’t like hard.

In the almost three months since my surgery, I’d venture to say that I’ve lost very little of my cardio fitness. Why? Because I am a lean, mean, elliptical going machine. I have simulated speed workouts, tempo runs, and long training runs on the elliptical. Tabata intervals are my favorite and I pride myself on my sweatiness factor when I leave the gym. Yes, I am that person you do NOT want to be beside at the gym. But see the problem isn’t my cardiovascular fitness. I’m pretty certain that has a solid foundation and even if I stopped exercising for a month, it would still be solid.. The problem is my strength and I really don’t like doing strength training exercises. That’s why I’m cardio queen, as they call me at the gym. Not iron queen. But here is what that short video made me realize this morning: by avoiding what I obviously need to do, I’m refusing to own the process and I’m refusing to endure change. I’m being just like everyone else in the world who wants things to change but who doesn’t want to do the work. In other words, I’m being a lazy ass.

Cardio is easy for me. I’d do it all day, every day if I could. That’s why I like marathon training so much. But I don’t need more cardio in my life. I need strength. And based on my movement patterns, I’d say I need a little muscle memory retraining as well. As Mr. Fields so eloquently puts it, people want to own the results but nobody wants to own the process. I want the result of a stronger body and a stable hip. I have yet to own up to the process to get there.

To successfully endure change is to be one step above the rest. Today I will leave my dear friend the elliptical and introduce myself to the weight room. However, no worries. I’ll be back tomorrow. I could never leave my favorite machine completely. My intention is to not to leave cardio all together. That would be a really sad day. My intention is to gradually shift my focus from all out sprints to deep squats and weighted lunges. It might not be so bad after all. Even if I don’t like, I still have to do it. The result I’m after is to run another marathon. I have to face the fact that in order to get there, I need to get stronger.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

PS: I recently discovered the bad ass Neghar Fonooni. She’s pretty freakin’ strong but her workouts are metabolic workouts. In other words, she incorporates strength training and endurance training. That is a workout I can appreciate.

PPS: I ran my first full mile on Monday. It took 13 minutes but I made it. And I hurt afterwards. I don’t think my bone has quite taken to the screws in my hip just yet. Lovely.

Today I Ran

It’s been two months and 17 days since I last ran. Seventy days have passed since my hip surgery and I’ve had 17 physical therapy appointments since May 7th. Half of my birthday was spent in the hospital and the other half was spent on my couch. I have felt helpless, unable to do basic things such as shave my legs or tie my shoes. I have spent nights in pain, stuck on my back as my leg throbbed persistently. I’ve had to rely on others to help me up stairs and to bring me food. Small accomplishments have become huge victories and I don’t think I ever really stopped to internalize all of it until today, the day I ran again.

I have been looking forward to this day for a long time. Part of me has been looking forward to this day with excitement and the other part of me has been looking forward to it with fear. How bad would the pain be? Would I even be able to run? Would I fall and break my bone again? Or would it be way better than I ever expected? Would the pain disappear and the running return to me as if it had never left me? I had no idea but I did know, as I got ready for my PT appointment, I had better bring my running shoes.

When I walked out the door this morning, I thought to myself, maybe I should wait another week. Maybe the end of July would be safer and my hip would be more ready for the challenge.. Part of me was actually afraid to even try running. Shawn, my PT, and I had never actually discussed me running today. I just knew this week marked 3 weeks since my last doctor’s appointment and when he said I could try running again in three weeks. Shawn knew this and I’m glad I showed up prepared to run.

As I was warming up on the elliptical, Shawn walked by with a big grin on his face. “Tracie, we’re going to jog today!”

“Shit,” I told myself. “You can’t avoid it now. Just be ok with whatever happens.”

The majority of my PT session was spent doing leg strengthening. Walking lunges with weights, squats, single leg dead lifts, side lunges, etc. According to Shawn, my form and range of motion was great so I was ready. He said he couldn’t wait to see my face glow. I was certain it would be wincing in pain.

I hesitated to get on the treadmill. As crazy as it sounds, I knew this moment marked a new low for me. Up until this point, recovery has gone great. Everything has been smooth sailing for me but once I stepped on that treadmill, reality would set it. I was going to be starting from ground zero and there would be a long road ahead of me.

For some reason, I had in my mind that I would only be running for a few minutes. Test my hip out, see how it felt sort of jog. Shawn had a different idea. I got on the treadmill and he said he was setting the timer for 10 minutes. 10 freakin minutes!!! I was to run at whatever pace felt comfortable but it had to be fast enough to get that pounding motion of running. Sharp pain was bad but dull aches were okay. If at any point, I felt a sharp pain, I was to stop immediately.

Those first few steps felt actually very easy. Nothing hurt and it was like running had never left me. Then, at a pace of 4.6 mph on the treadmill, I felt exactly what I expected. Not a sharp pain but the dull ache of a screw in my hip and a rod in my leg. Some steps would be easier and some steps would be harder. I fidgeted with my form, focused on relaxation, anything that would help. But the reality was this was my new normal and I needed to accept it. Shawn had mentioned that my ability to run would also be attributed to my ability to tolerate pain. Again, not sharp pain but a pain that comes with a foreign object inside the body. I was trying to tolerate the pain as best I could.

After 8 minutes, Shawn came by and said he would save me from the 2 remaining minutes. I was relieved. According to the screen on on the treadmill, I ran .6 miles in 8 minutes. Shawn said I was cleared to start running again and although I held my emotions back inside the doctor’s office, I couldn’t help it when I got to my car.

I don’t know why I cried. Was it because I was so happy to run? Was it because I could only manage .6 miles at a 13:00 mph pace? I don’t know. And then I started thinking about the last two months. How much I had desperately been clinging to other forms of exercise, when all I really ever wanted to do was run again. How I had begrudgingly spent my mornings inside on an elliptical, swimming laps in a pool, or staring at a wall as I biked to nowhere. How I’ve tried so hard to not lose my aerobic capacity. As I sat in my car, feeling both proud and sad at the fact I just ran .6 miles, I realized just how much I want to run. It’s the place where I feel most like myself and it’s the place where I feel most present. It’s the place where I feel most alive and as tired as running can make me, it gives me the energy to do just about anything. Every mile brings a sense of accomplishment that spinning and the elliptical never will. The more I thought about these things, the more emotional I became. I just want to run.

A little over two months ago, I was told I wouldn’t run again for 6 months to a year. At the time, I was okay with it because I just wanted my hip to stop hurting. Now I know that I’m not okay with that. Even if I start out with half mile jogs, I realize it’s what I must do in order to get to where I want to be. I look forward to those mornings when I can watch the sun rise as I run along my favorite running routes. I don’t know when that will be exactly but today was the first big step to getting there.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

A Paint By Numbers Life

The art of telling a good story is a true gift. To relive a personal experience in front of a group of people while being vulnerable isn’t for everyone.  Add to that a story with fluidity, emotions, and a life lesson and you’ve got yourself a special person. Perhaps that is why I like The Moth podcast so much.

I first listened to The Moth a few years ago but for some reason or another, I did not subscribe to it. Last week I revisited the podcast and have since gained a new appreciation for story telling. As I rode with Mario to The Parlour in Durham yesterday (amazing ice cream by the way!), we heard stories of a young girl fleeing Afghanistan to come to America, a 16 year old teenager taking her brother to the 1983 All Star baseball game with practically no money, and a crazy journalist tagging along with a group of herpetologists in search of a 22 foot python. We laughed, I cried (good stories do that to me), and we were left with a few life lessons to think about. What it means to live in the moment, to be adventurous, and to live a paint by numbers life. I love good stories.

Last night as we finished our second episode of House of Cards, the lifestyle of Frank Underwood brought us to the discussion of what it means to lead a paint by numbers life. I haven’t seen a paint by numbers kit since I was about 10 years old and Mario has never seen one. Apparently they don’t exist in Cuba. In trying to explain this ready made picture with predetermined colors, the image of what Tom Bodette was trying to explain in his story became very clear.  A cookie cutter type lifestyle lacking novelty, straying from adventure, and more of the same, day after day, week after week. That is something I never want.

Today I started with my own little dose of “adventure” and although it was nothing grand, it was a big step for me. As I mentioned last week, I recently switched gym memberships so I could start swimming. (I see an Ironman in my future, even though it’s a very distant, distant future.) Unfortunately parking isn’t the easiest to come by at a college campus gym and it usually results in a parking ticket or a $4 charge for the parking deck. Solution? Bike there! Now I still don’t own a bike so I rented one for a week. I needed to know if I was okay with biking alongside cars. Saturday morning, bright and early, I tried my route before there was any traffic. Last night I packed a backpack with my swimming gear and told myself no matter what, I was biking to that darn gym. Sure, it’s not far and biking isn’t a big deal. But I’m slightly terrified of getting hit by a car, my hip is still a little tricky when I stop and go, and the rental bike is only a single speed. It makes for an excellent quad burn on any type of incline.

I actually had dreams about biking to the gym. That’s how nervous I was. But I told myself biking, swimming, triathlons – these are all things I’ve wanted for a long time and the only way to start is by biking the 1.5 miles to the gym, swimming, and then biking home. When I finally made it back home and Mario met me at the door, I greeted him by saying “I didn’t die!”. And I didn’t. I didn’t get hit by a car, nobody laughed at my stellar swimming technique, and I even passed the guy in the lane next to me. It was such a small feat and a simple workout, but it left me feeling all sorts of excitement. I ventured away from my hour of intervals on the elliptical, my pre-determined paint by numbers workout, and tried something a little outside of my comfort zone. It made my Monday morning amazing.

I’ve never thought of myself as living a paint by numbers lifestyle but I see how it happens. Today was another step in the direction of making sure that I always try to add a little adventure along my path.

Maybe I should get a bike like this!!

Maybe I should get a bike like this!!

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

Injury Update: According to my doc, I can start working back into a running routine this week!!! I’m nervous and my hip still feels a little weak so I will see how it goes with my PT on Wednesday. Perhaps I will wait another week or two. It’s crazy to think about where I was two months ago and where I am today. Life just keeps on going. :)

 

A Runner Trying to Swim

Do you know what it’s like to be pretty decent at something, be proud of being decent at that something and then venture over to something somewhat similar and suck at it? It can put a real damper on your spirits and leave you with quite the feeling of inadequacy. That’s how I feel about swimming.

I know how to swim. I’m in good shape and I like pushing my body. I thought swimming should be a breeze, right? Wrong. I hate it. Like I’d rather spend hours on a stationary bike staring at a wall hate it. Like I’d rather run continuous 400 meter repeats on an asphalt track in the middle of July with 100% humidity hate it. I don’t like it and I don’t want to do it.

So why do I have this aversion to swimming? Well, for several reasons.

First, it’s hard. It’s not running and I have yet to develop my swimmer’s lungs. When I’m running, I can take in as much air as I want, whenever I want. It’s all around me for the breathing. But, with swimming, with your face staring at the bottom of the pool, your only hope of air comes every three strokes. And you better be quick about it because you’re going right back to the face down, zero air zone in .5 seconds. Then add some type of speed work and you’ll be gasping for air in no time. At least that’s my predicament.

Second, swimming in a pool is boring. Just plain boring. One of the things I love most about running is being in the outdoors, seeing new scenery, smiling at the people passing by. Swimming in a pool is a completely different story. I always start out my workouts with a positive attitude. This is going to be fun type mentality. Then 30 seconds later I hit a wall. Flip, turn around, and bam. There’s that damn wall again. This goes on for about 200 meters and then I’m done. I’m ready to get out and call it a day. But I can’t because 200 meters isn’t even the full warmup. Great.

Third, I’m bad at it. I’m use to being the decent athlete, or at least the decent runner. But in comparison to every other swimmer around me, I’m the worst. And that’s a hard reality to swallow. It’s like being the smartest person in your high school and then attending Harvard. You’re not nearly as cool as you thought you were.

But I have made the decision that, even though swimming is a thorn in my side, I am going to love it dearly. I am going to embrace swimming as a new runner would who hates running. Every day I’m going to show up to that pool, put on my really unattractive goggles, ignore the extremely fit swim team practicing beside me, and swim. From one wall to the other. Again. Again. And again. And I’ll ask my swimmer friends for help. I’ll learn why I’m so bad at swimming and I’ll work to change that. It’s like failing at something time and time again, but then one day, after enough hard work, things get better. I’ll work towards that better day.

Every morning I spend about 20 minutes reading and studying a little philosophy. This morning, in the Analects of Confucius, I read the following, “There is one single thread binding my way together…the way of the Master consists in doing one’s best… that is all.”

Swimming, I will do my best.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,
Tracie

I’m Not 20 Years Old Anymore

It hit me last week like a ton of bricks falling right on top of my head. It was a fact that, by some way or another, I had avoided for the past several years, and when the truth was staring me right in the face, I struggled to accept it.

Last week I made the decision to do an alumni membership at NC State’s Carmichael gym. It’s cheaper than my current gym and it has more equipment, pools, classes, and amenities than any gym lover could ever hope for.

Thursday morning I met an old friend there at 6:00 am and as we were stretching and chatting in the new cardio room, I had the profound realization that I am not 20 years old anymore. As I looked around at all of the young, tan, fit college kids, it dawned on me that I don’t look like that anymore. Somehow I had deluded myself into thinking I hadn’t aged a bit since I was in college. I’m 31 now and I now know that to be a false reality. Perhaps it was because at my previous gym, the average age range was 35-50. In comparison, I was the young, tan, fit one. Well maybe not tan, but at least young and fit.

So young, my 20th birthday

So young, my 20th birthday

Then yesterday I decided to go for a swim during the afternoon. I figured it would be the least crowded time at the gym and I could swim in peace. (By the way, I hate swimming. It is exponentially harder than running and I suck at it.) As luck would leave it, a high school team was practicing in one pool and the NC State diving team was practicing in the deep end of the other pool. Seriously, have you seen a college swim team practicing? Abs, legs, shoulders, and arms of steel. Note to self: must try harder.

I admit it… I struggled to accept this fact. When people say they are no spring chicken anymore or that their body is falling apart because they are getting old, I think to myself, not me! I’ll forever be known as cardio queen at my gym and my body will continue to get better and better every single day. Who am I kidding? I have two screws and a rod in my hip! I think that automatically puts me in the “my body is falling apart” category.

I get it. Age happens and there isn’t really much you can do about it. (I do admit that when I got home last Thursday I started researching age defying veggie juices.) We can’t all have six pack abs forever, although I never really had any in the first place. I’ve accepted that fact and I’m now okay with it now. But I’m not going to let it deter me from still pursuing my athletic dreams. Sure, I may not have the stamina and abs of those 20 something year olds, but you better believe I’m going to try my hardest to swim, bike, and run as best I can. And if I start drinking Swiss Chard Kale Juice, it’s only to help me swim faster. Promise. ;)

 

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

(In the other picture, I’m 19 years old holding my sister’s dear cat Oscar.)

Be Nice to Strangers

I can’t write about running right now. It’s unfortunate but it gives me an opportunity to write about other things. Today’s post – a life post.

Age 21, year 2004
It was my favorite post long run ritual. Run XX miles, nap, go get a really large coffee drink, and then go to work. I could tell you everyone’s story at Gloria Jean’s Coffee. I asked. I knew their names, their weekend plans, and a thing or two about their family. I always smiled at them and 9 out of 10 times, I never paid for anything. Although it was never my objective to get free drinks, it just happened. Strangers who made a connection at the mall and my dear friend and coworker was always amazed. How do you do it? she would ask.

Simple, I responded. Care. 

Age 31, year 2014

Today I ventured into Starbucks to do a little work. One of my favorite songs was playing and the barista was jamming along. Singing, dancing, and having more fun than most people would while making drinks. I may or may not have done my own little dance too while waiting for my drink. I told the barista how much I enjoyed his dancing. His response? Oh, have you tried the new fizzio? I’ll make you one. And he did. It was delicious.

I love people. All sorts of people. It fascinates me to think that there are over 7 billion unique stories in the world and every time I meet a stranger is another opportunity to be a part of one of those stories. Over the years, I have found the incredible importance of a genuine smile and a kind word. When you take notice of someone else, step outside of your own world, and make the effort to connect, you break down the invisible wall that exists between you and your fellow human being. And in return, a whole new world opens up. One of loving compassion that shows you how awesome human beings really are. Just as you are trying to find your way in this world, so too is every one else. We are not the strangers we think we are.

Make a new friend today. Be a part of someone else’s story.

Happy Trails and Happy Running,

Tracie

Injury Update: According to my doc, I can start working back into a running routine next week. I have to be honest, I’m slightly terrified. I try jogging around the house and the result? Serious aching in my bones caused by that damn screw in my hip. My recovery has gone fairly well. However, I believe when I attempt to start running again, it’s going to be way harder than I ever thought. Oh well. One step at a time, right?

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