Sunday, November 4, 2012

We can’t plan life. All we can do is be available for it. —Lauryn Hill

Spartan Shape-Up, Day 474:

Today was the day of the All Women and One Lucky Guy Half Marathon in Newburyport, MA. I've been registered for like 6 months, had a countdown going, was training hard...... then, as you know if you've been reading along... life happened. Shin splints have me on a no-run path. ESPECIALLY not 13.1 on pavement. Yeah. Having to not run that "big" race that I'd been planning on for so long, having to be sidelined while so many of my friends were running races today, and generally feeling completely incapacitated without my legs, left me in something much less than a Good Mood.

In fact, in all honesty, I was downright mopey.

I was working on some projects around my house (because it was a beautiful day and I couldn't be out running or anything...), sighing and stomping around like a 5 year old. I was unsatisfied with everything. My breakfast didn't taste good. The floor was cold. I rearranged stuff I was organizing like 12 times. I was in a state of complete dissatisfaction, as a result of frustration factor that had taken over my brain.

It was a weird feeling, because on the opposite side of it, I was SO excited - particularly for my running buddy, Stacey, running her FIRST half mary - to keep up on how everyone was doing... and yet, wanted to tune it all out, pout and pretend I wasn't missing anything.

Now, yes, I know (intellectually) that not being able to use my legs for activities like I am accustomed to is not the end of the world. It just means I can't run, lunge, walk, etc. It does not mean this is not a GREAT time to focus on my nutrition, work on my upper body, strengthen my core... you get the drift. I KNOW this. Most days, this is my positive thought process more than anything; a problem solving outlook. But today, thanks to the face that it should've been an adrenaline charged "Race Weekend"... and it wasn't... I was not in the greatest head space.

So, I did what comes naturally - I reached out to my community of supporters and posted my whining on FaceBook. There, after a plethora of positive bitch-slaps and motivational words, a challenge rose to the surface from a fellow Spartan, Susan:
"I know... While ambling around your house WEAR ALL THE MEDALS YOU HAVE EARNED since you started your journey... That should add significantly to your workout and help you focus on all you have done and not what you are " missing" ! Okay, Super Woman? Go!"
Fine. Challenge Accepted.

... and it was exactly what I needed today. I donned ALL the bling I've earned this year and posted for a sassy pic with my pull up bar (I'd already instituted a rule for myself today; every negative thought train will be derailed by 10 pull ups.).

The exercise, while it made me laugh at the silliness of it (ever vacuumed wearing all your bling? It's noisy. hehe), really turned my mood around. Not only was it a REALLY tangible reminder of all the things I HAVE accomplished this year (and these were only the ones I have medals for!), but it took the focus off the fact there are things I can't do right now. To paraphrase another comment I got - I've had a very full season, I've earned this "down" time.

Also, I spent a little time wearing my medals and thinking about what each one represented. So here they all are, with my favorite stand-out memory:

  1. Zombie Run 5K: Spending an awesome Saturday morning getting my mud on, running from Zombies with my Best Friend Forever and Ever, at his FIRST mud run, which also happened to be his birthday!
  2. Spartan Race Trifecta: This one is a little more abstract, but represented this year, the best of all. While the Spartan Shape-Up rages ever on (did someone say Ultra Beast next year...?), putting this around my neck, at home alone, after receiving it in the mail, made me tear up, as I really felt like -just then- I had become a Spartan version of former self. 
  3. Spartan Race World Championships: The Beast: While there were MANY memorable moments in this 14 mile, multiple mountain crusade, nothing beats the last one. Coming down the last stretch, cold, muddy, sore, totally exhausted, with   a great friend, Spartan Chick Jess, and seeing a cheering mass of support for ME, was indescribable. My family and several friends had waited LONG after my expected arrival time, in the darkness, afraid to wander too far, lest they miss my arrival. 
  4. New Jersey (Tri-State) Super: Conquering this "mini-beast" with training buddy, Stacey, and sliding into the finish line to receive our medals (right after getting my favorite race picture to date, taken!), as the festival and race was shutting down around us, thanks to an imminent severe thunderstorm. (Also, no small awesome: I conquered the monkey bars, for the first time in a race, EVER.)
  5. Pennsylvania (Mid-Atlantic) Sprint: Getting to run this one with long-distance Spartan Chick Friend, Adriane. Thanks to the Spartan Chicked forum, we've been friends, at a similar point in our fitness progress, for about a year now. PA Sprint was the first time we got to meet, and we DOMINATED her first Spartan Race ever. 
  6. Mont-Tremblant ("Montreal") Super: This was my first "international" Spartan... which I ended up doing quite by accident. I wasn't planning on doing the Super, I had come up to volunteer and run the Sprint the next day (I wasn't ready for a SUPER?!.... was I?). But I got talked into running it 20 minutes before I hit the start line. Best Memory: Standing waist-deep in a cold lake, cooling off the legs, after traversing many miles of Canadian Mountains. 
  7. Mont-Tremblant ("Montreal") Sprint: Crossing the finish line of my second Spartan Race in ONE weekend (who knew I had it in me!?) and getting to turn around and watch my crazy-training buddy, Stacey, cross the line of her first Spartan Race, beaming and muddy. Also, Canada, your slightly electrified barbed-wire crawl, over ICE CUBES, was an inventive touch...
  8. Tuxedo, New York (Tri-State, NY) Sprint: I had a raging good time running this race with my Spartan "Guru Trainer" (GT), Chris. Highlights of this race? Who doesn't love the World's Longest and Rockiest Barbed-Wire crawl EVER? I STILL have scars on my elbows from those badges of honor. 
  9. Hurricane Heat 013 (Tuxedo, NY): An experience like no other (incidentally, where I met one of my favorite Spartans, on team No Quit!, Sam!), burpees at 6:30 in the morning in the pouring rain, hearing Tommy tell us to bear crawl DOWN the hill... then carry TWO sandbags up it... but basically, a Hurricane Heat can not be explained. You had to be there. I was. I earned my dog tags.
  10. Colorado Military Sprint: From this, my first ever Spartan Race, so many memories emerged. From the infamous epic Fire-Jump picture, where I think I officially left the old Aja behind and came out Aja 2.0, to getting hosed off in the middle of the steamy Colorado desert by a random lady with a garden hose, to sitting almost-paralyzed with fear at the top of an obstacle and getting talked down by Spartan Sara and a Marine.  Oh, and lest we forget, the most notorious Spartan barbed-wire crawl to date. Through clay mud. With an M-16. In three sections...totaling an incomprehensible distance. 
  11. Santa 5K: This is the first medal I ever earned. Although I do remember it as the first race I ever ran alone - no buddies, no cheering section - I had 5K to realize that I was doing it for ME. I didn't need buddies. I had my sneakers and a road in front of me. My favorite moment was, thanks to Spartan Training, chugging up the substantial hill - still running! - past most of the other runners, who'd dropped to a walk. And hey... I was mandated to run in a SANTA SUIT (which I recall being hot as HELL.), who doesn't love THAT. 
So there you have it BlogLand. My 11 medals and memories that picked me up from an ugly mindset today. There's been so many other races in between and in the future.... but there was something very solid and grounding about having all that hardware around my neck today. 

Tomorrow, we hit up the X-ray to check on these Shin Splints (say No to Stress Fractures?!), so I can be on to earning my next medal - and mountain of awesome memories - at Fenway Park!!!

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