Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Lazy Summer Day

The summer is moving right along. Already it is midterm, so the suck-the-marrow-out-of-each-day urge is filling me. I try to get up by 5:30 each morning as being up early does make me feel like the days are nice and long. I love the feeling I get when I look at the clock and see 3:00, knowing I've already accomplished many things and still have plenty of day left to accomplish even more.

After lunch today, we watched The Book of Eli. A very interesting movie, one that provokes much thought. We've watched a couple post-apocalyptic films in recent weeks, one being The Road, and of the two, The Book of Eli, in my humble opinion, is the better. I'm a sucker for hope, that humankind will find a way to rebuild, bring beauty back to a dark world. The Road didn't leave me with that feeling at all.

Now I'm trying to decide what book to begin. The choices are between scholarly work that will inform my teaching or a book of short stories. Perhaps a little of both to get the best of each world? Sounds like a plan. And when I finish reading, maybe do a little writing of my own.

This is what summer is all about.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Making Progress

Last week I was out of town, attending a conference. While there I ran each day, plugging away, determined to get faster. I also learned something key to improving: all movement comes from the core, and in order to get faster, the core has to be strong. Weak core, weak performance.

I've thought about this a lot and decided I'm going to go to work on my core. I've been doing some exercises specifically for core, but after talking with an individual who works with athletes about this issue, I learned I was going about it wrong. I was concentrating on crunches. I was told to scratch these in favor of doing other exercises that work from the inside out. These include breathing exercises while lying on my back, that isolate muscles. They include using a weighted ball and twisting while balancing with my legs raised. I've seen these done by others, but I've never been able to keep my legs raised while twisting. Tonight, though, I found I actually can. I was stunned. Somehow, somewhere along the line of running and working out, my core has been strengthening and I didn't even know it. I was able to do sit-ups with the weighted ball, as well. Talk about a rush.

All of the advice I received last week along with being able to do these exercises have inspired me right when I needed it. I was feeling kind of lost with the running and getting faster, but I really believe it's possible now. I know I can do a 5k under 30, and I found out I was closer than I originally thought at the du. I ran that 5k in 30:59. Yeah, yeah, I know it's 31, but seeing that 30 shows me I'm not that far away. I can do this. I have a little over a month to train for the next tri, one that we're doing as a relay, and I am the runner. At this tri my goal is to do the 5k in 29 or less. I'm hoping the core work over this next month, along with continued training, will get me to my goal.

Sometimes it seems nothing is happening with the body, the whole reshaping, trying to strengthen, and it feels so good to find out good things are actually going on. Progress is taking place.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fear #2 Conquered (At Least for Today)

I did it! I went up to two people today and introduced myself. The conversations weren't long, but I gave my name, learned their names, and made some small talk. And nothing bad happened! Imagine that.

So now the rest of the day is mine. I'm off to work out in a beautiful facility. I think I'll bike today since I ran yesterday. Maybe I'll use the weights. After my workout, I'll head to the store a couple blocks away to get some snacks for this evening. I think I'll stay in rather than go out. Some reading and writing sounds like a good evening to me.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

One Fear Down, Another One To Face Tomorrow

I conquered my fear of running alone in a strange city. At 6:15 this morning, with the sun just beginning to peek over the hills that surround the city, I set off, taking the route mentioned to me yesterday. I found the bike path without a problem and ran along the river and over to the minor league baseball stadium and beyond, to where the path went into another part of the city. There I turned around and headed back. When I returned, I mapped it to see how far I'd gone. Turns out I ran a 5k. And it actually felt good. If only the 5k from last weekend had felt as good.

I'll go out again in the morning. The route is pretty, at least along the river. The first three quarters of a mile are not so scenic, just sidewalk along a busy street and industrial buildings. But I feel like I really accomplished something by facing this fear while at the same time working on my running.

Tomorrow I'll face something else that scares me. I haven't quite figured out yet exactly what that will be. I'll know it, though, when I feel it. It might be something simple, like going up to someone at the conference that I don't know and starting up a conversation. I so don't do this. I'm a complete introvert through and through. Everyone here has been great ever since I arrived; I should put forth the effort to get to know as many people as I can. I truly do envy people who can go up to another and just strike up the chit-chat. That's a gift I wish I had. Tomorrow, I will face this fear of starting a conversation.

While I do wish I was home with my family, this trip has been good for me. It's pushed me out of my comfort zone in several ways. Plus, I've gathered lots of great ideas for the sports lit class I want to put together and teach in the spring. The only downside to today was the local minor league team losing their game. And from the scout's demeanor at the end, some of the hopefuls most likely won't be getting any offers anytime soon. Ah, well, que sera, sera.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Strange City, New Run Route

This week I'm away from home again. I'm realizing I don't like being away from home anymore. I want to be where my family is, and that is definitely not where I am right now. Though there are times I really need a break from all the activities we're a part of, I've come to the conclusion that just closing the door to my bedroom for an hour or two is all the break I need.

But for the next five days, I'm in a strange city for a conference. The upside is the conference is all about sports literature, and if today is any indication about what's to come, it'll be good. Lots of fun people. One individual came from Paris and is quite interesting to talk with. Another came from Australia though he is originally from Scotland, and the Scottish brogue is delightful to listen to. He's one energetic guy, too.

Though I wasn't able to run today, I did learn of a route that should be good to take. It goes along the river and into the city proper, so the landscape should be scenic, enjoyable. Tomorrow morning, before breakfast, the plan is to get up and run. I do feel a bit intimidated, though, running in a new place, a city I don't know anything about. But that's the biggest reason I want to go out and run. I want to get over this fear I'm feeling.

I can't remember what I was reading the other day, but the last page said just one thing: "do something that scares you every day." Today it was flying; I'm not a huge fan of flying. Tomorrow, it will be running in a strange city.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Run PR But Not 30:00 Or Less

Why do I let the run get in my head like I do? I'm such a wuss it's not funny. I told myself over and over all week long I was going to do 30 or less. I finished in 31:00. While I'm disappointed in myself for allowing the little voice to do me in, I'm happy with taking 2:00 off my last run time. I went from a 33:00 to a 31:00. I know that's good.

The bike was slower than I'd hoped for, too. I thought I'd be closer to 40:00 for the route, but I finished in 45:00. I'm okay with that. What I'm really, really happy about with the bike is how I was one of the last one's on the course (because of my slow run time), but I was nowhere close to being one of the last one's to finish. I passed upwards of 12 or 13 people during the race. I ended up being the third woman in out of around 20 or so women. I'll take that.

Being on the bike is so different from running. Where my mind is constantly negative during the run, it's constantly positive during the bike. I set my sights on someone and gun for him/her. I don't let up until I pass the person and am a good distance ahead. I don't know why this is because my legs are burning during the ride, but I don't care. I enjoy it. Why don't I enjoy it during the run? What makes the difference?

I sure wish I knew the answer to getting past the running mind trap. I'm not going to give up, but I'm at a loss as to what to try. Maybe listening to music will help. Maybe ramping up the interval training will translate to better times. Maybe finding someone to train me is the answer. I'll keep at it and maybe the next race I'll post a sub-30 time.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New Mantra

It always amazes me how when something put on the calendar months in advance is suddenly right there in front of me, and with each day it gets closer, the more hectic my thinking becomes. I constantly question if I'm training enough, eating the right foods, improving in any way that will translate into a satisfactory race. In two days, I'll know the answer. In the meantime, I'm trying to only think positive thoughts.

When I run now, I don't allow myself to focus on any fatigue I may be feeling. I don't allow myself to acknowledge the heaviness in my legs when I first begin. I focus only on my newest mantra: is what I'm doing getting me closer to my goal or farther away? I really, really like this question as it applies to so many areas of my life, not just the training and eating. With my writing, each day I sit down at the computer and when I go to surf the internet or hang around Facebook, that question spurs me to pull up my current work and spend time on it. I go for adding at least 1500 words, and when I reach that goal, I give myself a five minute break to check out my favorite websites. So far, this new routine has worked wonderfully for me. I've even suggested it to some of my students during workshop days in class. I know how hard it is for me to sit for any length of time and try to write a page, so I try to show them that even I have to give myself rewards. A couple of students are using this method and are actually finding it works for them, too.

In two days, this mantra will definitely be at the forefront of my thoughts. The run is first in the duathlon, which I'm happy about. I think I'll have a better time of running first then getting on the bike. My goals are threefold: not finish last, run under 33:03 (my sprint tri 5K time), and complete the 12 mile bike under 40. I really don't know what I can do the 12 miles in since I've never done a time trial for 12, but in going out with Hubby and doing our loop, me always slowing down for him, we can complete it in 45. I'm hoping with a steady pace and me trying to catch people in front of me, I can actually do it in 40 or less. We'll see.

The butterflies are flitting in the stomach as I think about all of this, but I kind of like the feeling. And by 9 a.m. Saturday morning, it'll all be over with and time to find another event to work towards.