When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The heart of the difference is not ability or even talent, but desire

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Saturday, January 19, 2013

3 weeks into the year - are we ready yet?

Today was the day I had to fulfill my personal promise and run a  5k. Last night I was still not sure if I want to go, and yet realizing, anything and everything I could come up with would be simple an excuse - just like everything pretty much always is. So I set the alarm clock, calmly got up and drove 30 min North to where Georgetown Running Club puts their monthly $1 entry fee 5k races. The only good thing a the time was the temperatures - Austin has been blessed with 30F all week long (or is it the second one already? Either way I am loving it). I ran out for a couple miles to see if I can get my legs moving smoothly - and despite 40 minutes of plyometrics yesterday the responded. The race is local and on a smaller side, but gets anywhere from 200 to 400 runners (today was more of a former as Austinites are not big fans of frost on the ground). And then I put my i-Pod on, lowered my eyes down, looked inside myself - and set out for work.

It was new to me, when I didn't smile at others, didn't try to encourage, didn't even care who's around and what's happening. I just focused on 2 breaths in-2 breaths out falling simultaneously with the steps and ran, trying to keep good form. I had no goals, no ideas, no plan. I ran. For some time there was a girl in front of me who looked like a professional ultrarunner (if such image exists, but for me today she looked like Michele Yates who just won Bandera 100k). She was dressed like one too - and I was a bit bewildered why am I behind, but to my defense, I worked, and she looked relaxed and gliding. Before we hit 1M mark, she began her pull - and that was the only time I smiled inside. All is well in this world.

I clicked my steps and my breaths like a metronome, at times having glances "back" to my first 5k for some reason. I counted them, breaths and steps, and hardly brought my gaze a bit up when we hit a first turn-around at 1.3M - counted girls and I was 6th. OK, Miss Metronome, keep counting, keep clicking. At 2M 2 ladies passed me, but one struggled to stay ahead, and I slowly reeled her in, and another quickly disappeared. I wasn't breathing incredibly hard, and I wasn't panting with my staple of working at my limit - I was simply working. Another turn-around, head down, last half a mile and a turn onto a cinder track for the last push to finish. 24:24. Yup, I am putting it out here, and I am not ashamed. It is not my fastest even on this course in my "more adult life" (half a minute slower than last year's better of 3 times), but considering I didn't cough or bend over in pain gasping, and that my legs felt great, and that I didn't train since end of September - it was great. Solid. Felt right where it supposed to be...

And here I thought: it doesn't always have to be fun to be good. Sometimes it has to be work to feel like it belongs here, in this time frame of my life.

May be this is where I am right now in general. Just working through some stuff. I've been on vitamins and adrenal and thyroid supplements for 1 full month now, and I'd like to think I am turning a corner with my adrenal fatigue. I don't feel as sluggish - although I am as slow. A few days ago I felt to yell out to the world: "I am ready to train again!" I started dreaming races, seeing what else I can pack...and then I wore Larry's "toy" (he got himself Garmin XT-310 for New year, he wanted it for a long time, and I kept saying why waste a good run on numbers?) - and the reality hit. I am slow, and there is no cover for it. And this "toy" keeps you honest - finally I succumbed and seeked a used same device for myself right that day. Time to do something about it, besides measured intervals and a stop-watch. Time to do easy runs at "easy pace", not at "snail pace". Time to remember that I actually like to train almost as much, as to run free in the mountains, and since Austin is lacking said mountains, I might as well train - otherwise running here gets boring rather fast.

So, how are my January goals going? Not bad at all.
1. The Whole30.  I knew from get-go the results will be tremendous for Larry and so-so for me, because he, as he admitts easily, is a true born and raised sugar and flour addict (or was), and I had eaten cooked from scratch foods with an emphasis on veggies and meat since I was a baby (comes with territory, though more often than not "veggies" meant white potatoes). Not to mention I was "near-Paleo" for 2 years now, and had gone through one Whole30 already. With that said, Larry sees exactly the outcomes (already, less than 3 weeks in) program describes: mental acuteness, no slumps, even energy, less hunger (to none) between meals, better sleep (no snoring too), disappearance of joint and back pain...and he tightened his belt on already almost 3 notches. For me, the idea behind mostly is health-concerning (my digestive that is). I do react on many vegetables, as I knew that before, but now that I eliminated dairy and grains, I am certain which one (sadly, my options are limited in the future to only zucchini and sweet potato, because broccoli, all cabbage, bell pepper, eggplant, pumpkin, and every kind of squash gives me problems). I don't see changes in my body (we haven't stepped on a scale or taken measurements yet as we're trying to "play by the rules" of 30 days focus and no distractions). My sleep is sporadic, and my joints don't hurt as is (thanks to Bikram). So, bottom line, we are on it, we like it, we're sticking to it more long term, but the jury for me is out there whether or not I get healed - and the result of "turning on" the fat metabolism during long races will only be tested in February's 50k race at Mt. Cheaha (although come to think about it, may be my 5k fluid sailing was having something to do with it?). 
2. That home variation of CrossFit was one thing that, while didn't completely fall off the wagon, surely got seriously adjusted to fit my life. First week was fine, until school and early schedule kicked in, and it got reduced to "something", a.k.a. crunches and some push ups after a run, and on Thursdays, when I run to work (10M commute), it is non-existent at all.
3. University (work) gym is going great. 4 times, 30 minutes, loving the break from the desk and focus on splitting workouts (previously done in 2 days) into 2x upper body and 2x lower body (with 5 min abs at the tail for each). Life is good. Once I even hit a sauna!
4. I am running every day, yes, I am. And I am liking it. A few times (4?) I did 2 miles only, but the act of getting out the door before work and moving is really beneficial - if not for my overtraining, then for my mind:)
5. Water is also a hard one, just as I thought it would be. At work I am forcing those 2 bottles (often with 30 minutes before catching the bus), but at home, on the weekend, it is sporadic at best. But I am trying.
6. I am taking care of my aging face - and along with it of my cracking hands and feet too. Almost like a real adult woman!
7. My knitting is going well, and I would have been done by now, but I decided to re-do the front of a jacket I am making to perfection, so it'll be delayed now. But, I am on it, last project till new yarn comes in (and I got 3 other done), and I am also reading some books too (when have time).
8. That "kids" situation is better for my benefits - I told them where I stand, and it's up to them to act knowing the consequences. I am calm and it's out of my hands what they do - just how I react. I actually fall asleep a little faster now.
9. I ran a 5k - see above, and-
10. The attic is done!

I won't be re-capping these goals again, I have no problems seeing them through, but I will post the numbers for Whole30 when we officially get the scale and measuring tape out. But in a meantime, I am already thinking how can I make my life keeping moving in the right direction. I'll need to add stretching to my evening routine, 5 min I all I need. Try and hit Bikram twice a week regularly, not from time to time. Sleep (!!) at least twice a week for 7 straight hours, and once for 8! This would be so beneficial to my recovery from the funk I got myself into - and so hard! But I got once 8 hrs recently (by turning in at 9 pm no matter what the family was doing) and it felt awesome. And - I want to continue resolving my IBS (digestive symptoms), staying on top of vitamins being absorbed (not simply consumed) and to pick some racing goals later in a year. What the heck, I like challenges!

And I want to make sure I see friends (not for runs) once a week, one or another, to simply catch up on life. Larry's best bud from high school came and visited. Made me miss my friends. Friends are precious. I need to figure some things out and find time.

And last but not least - I stumbled upon a great blog post that made me think quite some. Who knows. I might even synchro-post with those few people without invitation:)

Monday, January 14, 2013

The year of moving forward.

It's been quite a whirlpool of a time since the year began. With Stephen back from his Europe trip with his dad and work going full speed, and the house projects galloping, we've been busy.

I had a presentation at work - my "once in 3 months" thing to show the boss I should still be kept. I am still hired.

My massage business picked up quite some, with some awesome clients. Here is my latest blessing:
I have a lady (originally from India) who is a new mom and gets massages weekly. Her mom is visiting right now, and has a severe back pain, so they asked if I would "look". The older lady doesn't speak much English, and was quiet the whole hour. Then she got up, insisted on making me tea, set down and said: "Body is light, no body. I feel good. The pain is gone, no pain in the back. My daughter appreciates you, now I know why." I almost cried. I don't do miracles, but I strive as much as I can...

"The Attic" project took more than we thought, but isn't it always like that with house reno's? The company removed the old insulation - and left some here and there, and then Larry decided to pick some boards randomly drilled on top of attic floor, and found more ugly dusty insulation he had to scoop (in mask), and lots of squirrel nests and poop and random other junk (some of which was huge). So, he worked tirelessly on making it tidy (and my job was to get rid of that mentioned junk for disposal). Then electrical guy came and tied up some unsanctioned wires - and Larry, again, had to do a lot of it as well, to cut down the costs. He (Larry) also installed 2 bathroom fan/lights with vents outside, and a vent from the kitchen fan (which was going straight to the attic). Finally, the new insulation people came and did their blow-in, but not up to standards. So, it's not over - but hopefully this week it will be. Now we also need to rid of all the boards and 200 lb wood door we dragged from the attic - and thankfully Austin has a free "big item" removal in February.

Both Larry and I are firmly on Whole30. What means there is more thoughtful cooking for me, which takes time. I don't see drastic differences in my body's shape (always a hope:)), but my belly is not as bloated all the time, and when it is, it's not painful, so that's good. With the additional veggies I mince via Vitamix and drink during a week, and with some supplements my doctor recommended for my adrenal fatigue, low thyroid and vitamin deficiency, I think I am slowly turning a corner. At least I prefer to believe that:) Larry shows a lot of self-restrain - and his body pays benefits. His energy level is more throughout, even if he is hungry and still dreaming about pancakes. He's got some shift in body composition as well, but we are not measuring or weighing in yet to not focus on the wrong thing.

We are running. In fact, last week we threw in some short intervals and going for a touch longer this week, to get back into things cautious and wisely. I put 40 miles in last week, and that is with the fact 3 days I had to resort to my "2M minimum". 

Speaking of that, one time it was on Saturday, as I got up at 2:30 am and drove to Bandera to volunteer at the trail events put on by Tejas Trails. As last year, I was patching some "holes" and going where Joe sends me. Taking 50k to the start and sending them off (from Grady Reed: Olga King should be a motivational speaker. Best pre-race pep talk ever for the 50k).
Working first AS with Cris Strong and 2 kids (and a couple folks helping out) for 2 hrs, then packing it in, milling around star/finish to see leaders come through the first loop of their 100k (and winners of a 50k). Then walking up to Last Chance AS lead by Roger Davis and helping him get through the heat of the day (another 3 hrs), and then working/hanging out at the finish line for another hour. It all ended up with a surprise award Joe had given me - Dano K.'s "Be who you are and keep inspiring, we appreciate you" (or, as he added, "to the meanest volunteer", and the jury is out if it meant it is one who means something to runners and race organizers, or one who is mean:)). I felt honored (and one day I'll tell the story of a man who was himself, lived life to the fullest and inspired, and then even as he was fighting ALS he still was a true warrior and an man to look up to). I get to keep this award for a year!
With that said, I am going back to work - and to keep living my busy year. And to be myself. And if I happen to inspire - more power to y'all! :)

Bandera photos

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Welcome to 2013.

At midnight of a New Year we got sick...

Well, come to think about it, we didn't feel all that good on December 31st. And no wonder. That "Last Supper" at Russian place was following a 90 min Bikram yoga class, a shower, and a 30 min wait at the MonoRail station, wet, off hot room, at 30F and in North wind - and with no good clothing worn. It was bound to happen, and I would have been really surprised if it didn't.

We didn't meet the new 2013. And not even because we didn't feel all that wonderful. With both of our kids being away, we planned - for the first time for me in my 43 years - to not sit and wait till midnight, and rather go to sleep. This holiday, which had been THE most awesome and important one since my baby-hood back home (don't you love that a number on a calendar has no attachment to neither religion nor political affiliation or race or gender and so on?), and the most FUN too, had gotten away since the times I am not surrounded by Russian friends and family. Here it seems to be celebrated by young adult population, and some others who manage to get together and sit through the ball drop in Big Apple. So, we figured, might as well...

At 12:45 am, on January 1st, I woke up because I couldn't swallow, my throat hurt and my nose was stuffed. It took me a few tries to get sarcastic with myself (I knew I had to be sarcastic, but couldn't remember why off the sleep): "Happy birthday? Merry Christmas? Oh, yeah, Happy New Year to me!". Eventually, I fell back asleep.

The morning of January 1st wasn't much better, add on Larry's illness and the fact that he was into Whole30 and having sugar lows all around.

I was determined not to let it rule my entrance into new year.

I went for a run.

You see, I had some goals set for the month of January. I know, we are too old and too smart for all that "resolution" stuff, and yes, I don't really believe we should make a whole year's worth of resolutions. I don't think a normal person with normal life can keep a resolve going un-wavered for the whole year. I was reading a blog of someone and that person for last year had goals for each month. I thought - brilliant!

First of all, making through 30 days is not scary at all, anybody can do it. Secondly, since I always seem to want to do lots of things, but feel overwhelmed, focusing on a smaller number of new additions (or returns to old things) seems to be wiser. And then, practice shows that it takes 30 days to develop a habit - thus there is hope that if you achieve something in a month as a resolution, may be you carry it on to the next month(s) and just keep on adding new things. Or, at least, you get a chance to try something and see if it fits you.

That said, one of my January goals was to run every day (pre-set as 2 miles minimum). It might seem silly (not like I am just beginning to run or something, and even though my training suffered for the last few months, I never stopped shuffling), but I had never "ran" as a streak, regardless of effort, just for a pure reason to run as a streak. And since January I (we) have entered a Whole30 (second cycle for me), and I already knew it would mean some energy sag for a bit, I wanted to run for a different reason - a.k.a. silly reason of a streak.

So I ran, while trying to draw air into my scratchy throat or through my running nose. And with temperatures in Austin at night and in the wee hours of the morning in low-30's, it's kind of not the smartest idea to be running sick, but it makes it some kind of sick (no pan) fun.

Still sneezing and coughing, I ran on on January 2nd, and even went through the motions of hill repeats this morning, January 3rd, all 10 of 1 minute hills (which I am certain on a normal day can be done in 40 seconds). Don't worry, if you know me, I won't fall off this streak:)

What are the other silly things I came up with for the month of January? Lets see.

1. Run every day (already discussed)
2. Do home-set "Almost CrossFit" every day for 5 minutes (a set of 8 weeks exercises stolen from some other blog I stumbled upon, something like 5 rounds of 10x push ups, sit ups, squats type of things). I am not sure why I am doing this stuff either, but after completely not doing anything for 2 weeks in regards to weight training, all those things left me sore on day 1.
3. Gym 4 times a week. Here is why. Both Larry and I got a bit fed up with 24 hr Fitness gym where we'd spend lots of time, and we quit. I did sign up for the University gym, but since it's during work hours (and I despise being at work any more than 8 hrs total), I can only commit 20 minutes to the gym. So, I thought a combination of that 4xweek and my daily "whatever exercises" will keep me somewhat fit enough before I figure out if I need it or want it or want more or less.
4. Whole30, of course. Now, with Larry (a world-known sugarholic) on board, I actually cook more or less complicated meals. When I did it in October, since I am a very simple person (and not a foodie), I could just go on eggs and bell peppers non-stop, throwing some chicken and tomatoes in there from time to time. My man will not sustain on it, and I want him to succeed in this experiment. So, I am using all the gadgets I was so lucky to get as Christmas gift from my in-laws and husband. So far it's been fun.
5. Drink 40 oz of water a day. Yeah, I am really bad at it. I don't drink water. I don't drink much, period. And that includes drinking while exercising amounts, even in Bikram yoga class! Unless it's summer in Texas, I don't carry a bottle on the runs. So, I set a 20 oz bottle at my work desk and drink it through. If I take a few sips over that (at home, after a run, after dinner) - it's a bonus.
6. Put a cream on my face and hands every day. You know, aging is no fun, and I need to take some kind of care of my skin (I don't do sun protection either). That will be a start.
7. Finish all my knitting projects with yarn that's already in the house (one is done over break, one will be done by the weekend, but the last one has been sitting since last Spring, so I need to get on it!).
8. Let go (some) of trying to control my two sons. There are things I can't do and they will do anyway, and I don't like it, but trying to pull my hair out is not doing good to anyone - neither them nor me (or my husband). I had already gotten on this wagon in December, slid a bit over the holidays, and need to recoup back.
9. Run a 5k race (again, from the series I did last summer), despite not being prepared. Just because of the fear I have of 5k races.
10. Help Larry with attic project.

Umm...seems like more than I thought it would be when it was just in my head. But at least not as much as already swirling in my thoughts for the reminder of the year.

Lets make this year happen.

"There are Two Types of Pain in this World: The Temporary Pain of Discipline, or the Permanent Pain of Regret". Navy Seal quote.

If you want to stop a habit, or begin a new one, stop feeling sorry for yourself. Just deal with stuff and keep moving forward.