Y’all it has been A WEEK. And by that, I mean it’s been more emotionally than physically challenging, which should tell you something given that I had 29 miles and 6 workouts on the calendar.
So strap in folks, because this ride is on its way….
My training plan called for 3 miles at tempo on Monday. I missed my normal 6 a.m. group run due to a power outage in my neighborhood the night before and workers making noise late into the evening so I found myself doing this workout later in the day on my own. Whether that turned out to be a good thing or not, is still unclear but here’s what happened.
After last Friday’s decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, I hadn’t been able to articulate or even organize my thoughts. Monday came around though and I finally realized: I had moved on from disbelieving that it actually happened and severe disappointment that this is our reality to anger. Pure, unadulterated anger at the fact someone else thinks they have the right to control what happened inside my body.
Anger then turned to rage, which is wonderful fuel for running fast. So that’s what I did. Rather than stamp out my rage and try to talk myself down, I let myself feel it and channeled it into the workout I needed to get done.
Contrary to what some may think, I don’t always want to run when things get hard. However, in wonderful adult fashion, I have learned that what I want and what I need are two different things. I may not always want to go run, but I can just about guarantee I always need to and so I did.
I ran hard. Harder than I really should have given I had 6 miles of speed drills coming next on Tuesday, but I accepted it and kept going. My head needed the speed and the physicality of doing it on hills. I needed to feel like I could control something because when it comes down to it, this ruling doesn’t feel like one about saving “lives” but rather having control.
I know I definitely felt like I lost a lot of mine.
Scarlett O’Hara’s Approach to Life
Over the last few years I have found great solace in Scarlett O’Hara’s approach to life, or at least her approach to boundaries. When she got overwhelmed she’d say:
“I can’t think about that today. I’ll think about that tomorrow.”
Girlfriend had it right! So after a very draining day on Monday, I applied Scarlett’s approach to Tuesday and joined my group for a structured speed workout.
2 mile warm up
10×1 speed intervals (i.e. 5k speed for 1 min, walk/light jog for 1 min, then repeat 10 times)
2 mile cool down
I have learned that I need to do these speed workouts in a group or I will never push myself as hard as I should to get those long-term marathon goals. I have also learned that getting faster relies on more than just showing up to do the work, but doing said work with people who are already faster than you!
Case and point:
The 5k pace I ran today was NOT my 5k pace during those first 7 intervals. It was the pace of the person in front of me who I refused to let get too far away. She gave me a rabbit to chase and that pushed me to work harder.
Add in the “We can do anything for [insert whatever time interval we have left]” mentality that another training partner preaches and those 10 intervals got knocked out strong from start to finish. Though I admit I did those last three intervals closer to my own 5k pace, which is about 60+ seconds slower than I did the first seven. Nonetheless, done is done!
While the idea of a 2-mile cool down at an easy pace sounded great, after about 3-4 minutes we got to chatting and speed crept up again. So much for an easy pace🤦🏻♀️ Closer to my tempo pace.
What that means:
I can talk in short sentences but I’m keeping a good clip and have to split my focus to ensure my legs are working efficiently. (i.e. foot strike, turnover, active core)
During that last half mile, or maybe the last full mile, my legs definitely felt the result of the work they had been putting in for the 50+ minutes. My quads and hamstrings felt both huge and amazingly sculpted, whether they are in reality or not but they felt that way. They felt used – in the best way. Like I had put them to a test and they had a chance to do what they are meant to do – propel me forward.
Funny enough, when the watch finally clicked 6 miles, the goal distance for the workout, I had the same reaction I did after crossing the finish line of my first marathon:
Everything from the waist down hurts.
And by that I mean, my glutes, lower core and every muscle of my legs felt like they had been spent! They did their duty, pushed hard and now needed a break to recover.
As I drove home, I kept mulling over how good I felt. It wasn’t even 8 a.m and I felt like a champ, a grateful one at that. Grateful for friends who train with me and push me to become a stronger runner, whether they know they do or not and grateful to have running to help me center my head.
When I feel physically strong, I feel mentally stronger and after the rollercoaster of emotions I felt on Monday, I needed to feel stronger.
Training for Ambiverts
I once again found myself with two workouts on Wednesday, strength and cross training in the a.m. and miles in the evening. Seems this will be the new schedule, which despite its physicality is suited for me from a mental perspective more than anything. It provides the perfect balance between solo time and social time that I need as the true ambivert I am, something many are surprised to hear given the extroverted traits they seem to see most.
It’s taken years to learn that while I LOVE to be social and talk to strangers, to truly be at my best I need an equal amount of time alone. I need quiet days (and workouts with just music) to have the social time be effortless and fun rather than emotionally taxing.
For years I have structured my workweek to account for this with Mondays and Fridays as no-meeting days where I can just sit and work. Often I talk to no one but the dogs during these head-down workdays and am a-ok with it! The respite from being “on” gives me the recharge I need to be the energetic, creative, resourceful and (hopefully) funny person I bring to all my work – and its marketing content.
Rest and Recommitting
Thursday morning as I scrolled through the morning digest of PR opportunities I received, I found one in particular that stood out to me.
“Writer seeks women in trigger states to discuss how they’re coping with overturning of Roe v. Wade”
Since Monday’s run I had been thinking a lot about how I felt living in a state that no longer allows me to make my own reproductive decisions. And by “thinking” I mean, struggling to wrap my head around it.
Simultaneously I had a job to do that required a lot of creativity so despite my efforts to process how I felt about the SCOTUS decision, I had continually been tapping a lot into the Scarlett O’Hara mentality and going about my day one task at a time.
This writer query though seemed like my opportunity. A chance to share the thoughts I had been grappling with, and the coping tactics I had been using, on a platform that could reach more than my own currently can. So I wrote out my response, read it over two-three times to make sure I would be 100% happy with every word being printed and sent it over with this conclusion:
“So there you have it. How am I coping? You tell me.”
I knew it would be a risk to put my thoughts on such a public space, but even so, I wanted to be true to a decision I made years ago:
After my heart attacks I committed to sharing my story any chance I had in the hope that it might just help someone else avoid living it themselves. For 11 years I have stuck by this. While I may not be at the same cardiac risk, the commitment to openness of my life experience (albeit when I am ready and on one else’s timeline) to the potential benefit of others remains the same.
Turns out my risk taking was worth it as I ended up with a followup phone interview. The story should be live on July 11 and I’ll be sharing it then. Stay tuned…
Closing the Week Strong(er)
With the emotional weight I had been carrying the past week finally starting to subside, I found myself more excited than intimidated by Friday and Saturdays training. The former called for 6 miles at race pace, which I have now set and would give me a 15 minute PR if I can accomplish it, and 11 miles on Saturday for pure distance.
I struggled to remain consistent with my pace on last Saturday’s long run so that is what I focused on yesterday. As per usual, I had the first stretch alone with a fun new playlist allowing me to relive the early 2000s pop hits and daydream a little about lighter subjects than the ones that had plagued my mind earlier in the week.
I picked up Casey and another friend around mile 6 and we knocked out the final 5 in good form, with hills, right on my pace target.
I felt a rollercoaster of emotions this week and ran through all of them. One foot, one workout and one task at a time. This approach doesn’t always make the training (or the life issues) easier, but it DOES keep me moving forward and let’s not forget:
Forward is a pace.