After a bit of a break, I seem to have once again found something resembling a rhythm. I ran on Saturday, biked on Sunday, did yoga on Monday, lifted on Tuesday, and did yoga tonight. I feel good. Yoga in particular has felt right this week. On Monday, I felt strong on the standing balance poses. Today, I was less balanced but still really good in that studio. I had to fight hard to leave the office in time to get to yoga, but I’m so glad I did. My body and mind are happy to be working out again.
If things had gone as planned, I would have been getting on a plane tomorrow morning to head to St. George for my second Ironman. If things had gone as planned. I’ve said those words a lot lately. If things had gone as planned, I would have spent new years in Hong Kong. If things had gone as planned, I would have done Canada last year. If things had gone as planned, I would have done Florida 70.3 last year. If things had gone as planned, I wouldn’t have experienced many of the changes of the last twelve months. If things had gone as planned…
I’ve always been a planner. I like having big goals for myself. I need deadlines. But lately, I’m finding that those goals and deadlines haven’t been enriching my life; they’ve been draining it. The pressure of constant training has been just that – pressure. As a result, I’ve been living less rigidly. I’ve given myself something of a break, and I’ve tried to just be more. And it has been working out. So although I’m sad to miss St. George and the chance to do a second race with Chris and a first race with Judy, I’m thankful to be home tonight, and I’m thankful not to be getting on a plane tomorrow.
I’m barely even looking at my calendar these days. The calendar doesn’t feel like the right guide. Instead, I’m getting up each morning and making one decision at a time. Lots of times, the day presents itself unexpectedly. Maybe this process of weaning myself off my planning has been a preparation of sorts. I’m leaving room for the unexpected. Sometimes the unexpected is welcomed. Sometimes its an intruder. Either way, I think I’m more prepared for it because I’m less planned. For that, I am grateful.
Yesterday morning, I slept in a bit. When I woke up around 9:30, I headed out for a short run down Creek Road. I hadn’t run in a few weeks, so I was easily winded, but it felt good to be out there. At my turnaround point, the rains came down hard. I normally don’t enjoy running in the rain, but I caught myself smiling as I got soaked. I felt calm yesterday and unphased by the rain. I think that had everything to do with my change of attitude this week. I’ve worked to limit my activities and reduce the pressure I normally put on myself by scheduling my time so heavily. I’ve cancelled some commitments and lightened my load overall. I think that had everything to do with my mood feeling light.
Originally, my plan had been to run a 5K in Austin at 8am, then clean up at my office, the go to a writing workshop from 10 to 11:15, then go to work, then pick up my friend Erin for lunch, then come to Dripping to bake cookies for a 5pm Toastmasters meeting, then go to my meeting, then go back to Austin for a fundraiser and then return home, probably around midnight. That kind of day would have caused me a bit of stress. Instead, I slept in, ran at home, picked up Erin a little earlier than planned, went to a farmer’s market with her, had lunch with her, hung out at home with her, and then went to my meeting. It was much less scheduled, much more fun, and a total pleasure of a day. I can’t ask for much more than time with friends, and I got a lot of that yesterday, much more so than I would have had I stuck to my originally scheduled programming.
I like this self care approach to living. I like it a lot.
Today ended my no workout streak, and it was time. Twelve days of no workouts was about five too many. Work and my other commitments have been so busy lately that I haven’t had much chance to do anything. And though I appreciated the workout break for a bit, I started to crave exercise. I got cranky, actually. I’m not a lot of fun to be around when I feel unexercised and overwhelmed. Right now, I feel a lot of both.
So can someone make it stop? I can. I can’t make work stop – nor do I want to, unless you know a sweet sugar daddy who needs some love. But I can make decisions about my non-work time that will make my life easier. I can decide to free up my nights – to cancel things, even good things, in the interest of taking pressure off myself. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m giving myself a break because I can and because I need to.
Yesterday, I had a coaching session with a life organizer who challenged me to take action to help myself before I hit crisis mode. In other words, for many of us, it takes illness or loss or the equivalent to force us to prioritize. Why wait for that? Why not reprioritize before something dramatic happens? Right now, my mental health is at risk. Rather than allow my mental health to collapse or risk making myself physically ill by pushing hard all the time, I’m going to scale back. She gave me two tasks. The first is to clear five nights between yesterday and the end of the month. The second is to take one of those nights and call someone after work to do something totally spontaneous with me. I’m up to both tasks. Frankly, I’m even a little excited about them. Scaling back? What a concept.
I just sent the email officially withdrawing from St. George. It still feels right. Plane tickets are cancelled, which leaves me with a hefty credit to apply towards some other trip. Pittsburgh, perhaps, for Amanda’s wedding and some down time with the Vellas? Or maybe DC, either for the Nation’s Tri or Christmas? Oh the possibilities. I still need to cancel the hotel and car, but I’m tasking myself with one thing per night. Otherwise, I get overwhelmed by the details. Sometimes the details are just too much.
I still haven’t worked out. I’ve had my yoga bag packed all week, but I haven’t made it to the studio. Tonight, my evening plans were derailed by a dear friend landing in the hospital. She’s my neighbor, she is 92, and she’s the most charming woman ever. I went to visit her this evening and thoroughly enjoyed laughing with her and spending time with the family she’s created through her friends. She is a widower, but she is surrounded by people who love her and would do anything for her. I think that’s true partly because she is loving and selfless to others, but there’s also just a vitality about her that draws people in. It drew me in. I love hearing her speak her mind, which she does always. Even tonight, as the hospital staff was trying to get information from her, she was quick to remind them that she’d given this information to others over and over again. “They don’t seem to want to pass the forms from person to person,” she said. She doesn’t get frustrated or get obnoxious. She just speaks her mind. It’s refreshing. I feel a real comfort in her presence, and I hope to be like her as I get older. Hell, I’d give anything to be half as engaging now.
The great thing for me right now is that I feel like I’m doing exactly what I should be doing with myself. A friend of mine last night described her current state as traveling with a compass but no destination. That’s how I feel. There is no particular end in mind, but I’m traveling with due north consistently within my sight. I’m working hard. I’m working through the demons of last year. I’m working on giving myself time and space to just be. And I’m not working out. I wouldn’t always choose these things, but for right now, they are perfect choices for me. I’m happy.
Seriously? Six days straight? This feels so very wrong. And so very right.
Right now, I’m focusing on work and taking care of myself. I miss the workouts, but I’m glad for the time to take care of other things. I need that time right now. I need the time to catch up on my work load and figure out the details of my home life. And I need the time to write.
I’ve been doing a lot of writing. Specifically, I’ve been doing Janet Connor’s method of “deep soul writing.” She wrote a great book that I read in the fall as part of a workshop I took, but I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how to set an intention and write fast and let God speak to me through the writing. But now I do. It clicked for me on Saturday, and I’ve been immersed in it since. In fact, it was during a writing session that I got the message to give myself the grace to skip St. George. I’m thankful for her book and for the woman who introduced me to it. I’m thankful for the time to explore that method.
I’ll get back to the training very soon, but for now, I work and I write. Happily.
I have made the decision to skip St. George. And I will not beat myself up about it. The decision was made easier by my spot in Canada. I’m taking the month of April as a reprieve to catch up on the rest of my life. Then on May 1, I’ll hit the ground running and biking and swimming for Canada.
For about three weeks now, I’ve been considering bailing on this race. It’s strange to write that. I don’t bail. Normally, I don’t bail. So why bail now?
I just don’t feel ready. I’ve been great about running, as I’ve done two marathons this year. I’ve been good about swimming, as I’ve joined T3’s swim program and been a bit more regular about being in the water. But I don’t feel like I’ve spent enough time on my bike. I’ve done a whole lot of trainer riding, but my time on the road has been limited. I should have done an 80 or 100 mile ride by now, but I haven’t. That’s all on me. I just don’t feel ready, especially for a tough course like St. George.
I also am not enjoying the training right now. When I was training for Coeur d’Alene and even Canada to some degree, I was popping out of bed at 4:50 and making my workouts. Now I struggle to get out of bed at 5:15 to make a swim session. I even struggle to get up by 6:30 or 7:00 on the days I don’t swim. That’s not like me. I’m used to being driven by and engaged in the schedule. Right now, the schedule feels onerous.
I wonder – has my training suffered because I’m not having fun? Or am I not having fun because I haven’t been diligent about training? I’m not sure.
I’m thinking the right thing for me is to skip St. George and focus on Canada. I know what to expect with Canada because I’ve driven the course. I know the town. I know our hotel. It’s familiary territory, so it’s less stressful. St. George is not familiar territory. It’s stressful.
I hate to be a quitter. I missed Canada last year because of stupid gallbladder surgery. That was hard. I cried often about that loss. Now I’m considering voluntarily pulling out of a race because I haven’t done all that I needed to do to be ready. This, in some ways, feels like a bigger blow. I’ve got a list of excuses but, at the end of the day, they are excuses and it comes down to just not having put in the time I needed to have put in to have confidence about the race. I think I just answered my own question. I’m not having fun because I haven’t been diligent about training.
I’ll make this decision in the next few days. Right now, I’m going to sleep on it.