Thursday, May 5, 2011

three things thursday (2 ridiculous, 1 regular)

1. I'm really bad at listening, and it keeps kicking my ass.  On Tuesday night, I went to the first Conte's hill workout of the season.  I'm feeling really tired and run down (2 solid weeks of high volume training will do that) so as I chatted with Emily before the ride started, we decided to do the "easy" crit loop - ride out on some rollers, do as many few loops of a .8 mile hill as you want, then head back.  I hadn't been on my bike in a few days, and I was surprised how nice it felt to climb back on, but was looking forward to an easy spin on a nice night.  Since I went on the ride so many times last year, I didn't feel the need to pay attention AT ALL during the pre-ride talk about which ride went where.  We headed out towards Military Road, and I was just spinning and enjoying the warm-up, and when we got to Military Road, a bunch of people stopped and a bunch of people turned left, so I turned left with them.  I thought Emily was behind me, but there were so many riders that it was tough to keep track.  I rode a minute or so before thinking, "Hmmm, I seem to remember last year turning right, not left."  And then I realized that we were about to make the big turn down and around onto Old Glebe, which I knew from the Monday night NCVC ride was a long uphill.  So I asked the guy next to me which ride this was, and he said, "rolling hills," which is the super-fast hill tour of Arlington, instead of the small crit loop or the back-and-forth on Military Road loop.  And of course it was too late to turn around.


Sigh.
I ended up doing a ride almost identical to the NCVC Monday night hill ride, but instead of riding with a pack of hammer-hungry drop-happy muscle men, I was riding with a group more mixed in speed and ability.  Don't get me wrong, this is still a fast ride that I wouldn't have dared to try last summer, but instead of totally kicking getting eaten alive, I chewed up all 1100 feet of climbing.  I was in the front pack most of the ride, and passed people on a lot of the climbs, especially towards the end, and averaged high 18mph for the ride.  Now, I know that this was the first Conte's workout and many of these cyclists were on their bikes for their first real workout of the summer (it was easy to tell which ones, they were wearing their "winter weight" in their "summer spandex").  I'm sure this ride will hand my ass back to me at some point this summer, but I've spent the past month feeling really really bad about myself and my cycling fitness.  Every Monday night NCVC ride I've gone to, I've left feeling like a complete failure - which is the result of riding with a group that is MUCH faster and stronger, and while I know I'll be a better cyclist for it in the long run, it sucks right now.  Last night was a real confidence-builder exactly when I needed one.


I was pretty sorry to have gotten separated from Emily, but we hung around afterwards for the first-Tuesday-of-the-month-food-festival, plus beer, plus cupcakes I'd brought to celebrate her birthday!



2. Race photos were finally released from the Earth Day 5K.  The next best thing to the worst race photo ever?  Playing with the photographer while zipping into the finish (trust me, you definitely want to click on them to make them bigger).


 

Also, not trying to choke yourself to a PR actually resulted in one of the better race photos I've had in a while, despite the massive heel-strike I'm rocking.


3. As an athlete, I don't have a lot going for me.  Don't argue with me, shut up and listen for a second.  I wasn't a competitive swimmer from ages 3-24 like many of my triathlete friends.  I love to run, but no matter how careful I am with my training and how many stupid planks I do, I get injured, over and over and over and over.  I have zero natural athletic ability.  I fall down.  A lot.  I am not, by nature, strong or fast at anything.  This past winter is the first time I've ever run even a single mile that started with 8.  It took me two years of regular swimming before I could do 100 yards in less than 2 minutes.  It took me TEN years of running to run a 5K faster than 29 minutes.  My sweet ass makes me a fast cyclist while descending, but that's a lotta honky tonk badonkadonk to haul up a hill.  And I'm okay with all of this.  At the end of the National Half, I said that I'm not really sure WHY I have to work so much harder for things that come so easily to so many of my friends, but it's my goddamn journey, not theirs.


What I do have in spades is a ridiculous ability not to give up.  Some may call it stupidity, or just being incredibly stubborn.  Why continue to beat your head against that wall?  I've had to call on that a lot lately, in these last two high-volume weeks.  In the first NCVC workout, I talked to myself all the way up every single one of those hills.  I call myself "girl" when I talk to myself, isn't that funny?  And all I kept saying was along the lines of, "Girl, don't give up.  Not today."  And somehow it works.  Yesterday morning I needed to run 5 miles to keep up with my every-other-day schedule, and the only way I could do it was to be out the door at 6am.  When I looked out the front door at 6am, it was a torrential downpour.  I sighed and headed out.  I had to talk myself through every step of that run, and I have no idea how I even completed those 5 miles, especially when I ran back by my house at 3.87 and had to keep going.  It was a crappy day and a crappy run, and if I had cut it short, who would have ever known?  Would it really have made a difference, in the grand scheme of my training?  Probably not.  But I did it anyway.  Because I don't give in.  And when I got home, I changed my clothes and climbed on the bike and rode to work through the hellish weather because that run wasn't enough, I can't just slog through it and get on with my life, I have to fight back.  And I know that I'm going to need this next Saturday, when I show up for my 70.3 having trained to the best of my ability, but still hugely under-prepared for the last 13.1 of that race.  I feel confident that I will finish.  I won't be pleased with the time on the clock, but unless I drown in the lake or crash, I will cross that finish line.


I have a lot of fast friends, a lot of friends who regularly run 100 miles or get up on the podium or who can run 26.2 miles with a faster average pace than my 5K PR or who start cycling one day and are at the Olympics the next.  I love all of them and I cheer my lungs out for them, but I don't secretly envy them.  Because maybe I'll never be that fast, maybe I'll only ever be able to run for 5 months at a time before I get injured, but I will never give up.  The mantra I choked out to Amy last weekend as we were climbing the last hill somehow fits me, it's the rhythm of my life.  Your heart is a weapon the size of your fist.  What I do, what I'm all about, is the ability to never stop fighting.  It's gotten me through a lot of tough runs and rides, but it's also gotten me through a pretty bumpy life.  It's about being in the darkness and being able to rut through out into the light.  It's the only weapon I've got, but it's sharp and I've got great aim and I will kick your ass with it every time.  

35 comments:

  1. I'll admit it - I AM envious of those people. I wish I had been born with different abilities or that I'd started working at it sooner. And I know that they work at it too but it seems to come very easy to just about everyone but me...and I have to admit, to you. And you work MUCH harder than I do. I think my victories, however infrequent and slow and small (and definitely not on a podium) taste better.

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  2. This is an awesome post(and inspiring to those of us who, like you, are not natural athletes.

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  3. Love the pics (although I do have some photoshopping to do ;))

    It took me 20 minutes to run a mile when I first started running, I am NO natural athlete. But after 20+ years of running, you may wind up the victor over your body! ;)

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  4. Your elevation chart > mine. Next time I want in on the A ride. Congrats on getting revenge on that NCVC course :)

    Also, #3 makes me extremely happy and is so inspiring. I wish I had that kind of mentality about just about anything in life. I think that often hard work and pure determination trumps all. And I think you're right -- it is about your journey and not anyone else's. You motivate me, that's for sure!

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  5. I love you and I love #3 especially that part about your heart being a weapon the size of your fist! Totally just made my day!

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  6. This totally made my morning because I feel the same way except I struggle with jealousy of those who have a natural gift. Thanks for sharing :)

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  7. Mmm food and beer after a confidence building ride sounds like you had a perfect night!

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  8. LOVE IT. Totally with you and totally agree.

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  9. I love this post! It's easy to run (bike, swim, whatever) when things come easily. It's a lot harder and more impressive to push yourself through tough times and still come out better than when you started. It took me a while to figure that out and feel good about it, but realizing it makes everything I do that much better. I love that I get to do some of that with you!

    So excited for your race next weekend!

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  10. More fantastic bare your soul writing - it's why I love your blog and YOU.

    I was getting all choked up on #3 until I realized you have a tiny typo and I suddenly started giggling:
    "It's about being in the darkness and being able to RUT through out into the light."

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  11. i love this post. i feel like pretty much everything you said in number 3 is how i feel 99% of the time. i'm not speedy, i'm not a natural athlete, i have to work hard, even for the slow times i achieve, but they are mine. thank you for sharing. this post has left me feeling inspired, when i've been having an off week. :) good luck on your 70.3!

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  12. no, RUT is what I meant! and thanks, everyone. :)

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  13. That writing came from a heart much, much bigger than a fist.

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  14. love this post, particularly the last part. i think heart is just as important as the physical and mental part of it. we're pretty much the same besides the fact that you've been pushing yourself a lot longer than i have. :) keep it up!

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  15. I love the last part. Although I was a swimmer, and a lifeguard, I was never competitive. I played softball but outside of that, I have zero athleticism. I hadn't ridden a bike in over 10 years when I decided to do my first tri. I still dont have a "real" bike. I still can't run a mile that starts with an 8. I don't think I ever will. I get injured every year, more than once. I don't give up.

    I think the ability to never give up, is the best atribute to have. I feel lucky to have. I am glad you do too!

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  16. You go girl! And that which is gained by working that much harder feels even sweeter.

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  17. Oh good, I really LIKED the "rut" image. Way better than "run".

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  18. A lot of good stuff in #3, Katie. Keep it up!

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  19. Never say never ... on my 31st birthday, I had never in my life run a single mile faster than 8:30. Not one. I'm only 36 now and you know how I'm doing. Biggest thing is to stay injury-free. Not sure what's causing it for you, but staying healthy and getting a little bit better every day is what will get you there ... "there" is where you think you can't go, but you really can.

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  20. I love this post. Thanks for sharing I feel like I am in the same boat, but am always jealous of the "fast" atheletes.

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  21. LOVE LOVE LOVE this post. thanks so much for sharing this...I relate so much to this because I am not by any means a natural runner but I love it and I am out there doing it which is most important :) and I agree...I just don't ever want to give up!

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  22. Came to you via Lauren's blog. Thank you so much for posting. I have no athletic ability either and been down about being injured so much. That was so what I needed.

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  23. Laugh all you want about those muscle pics, but that's exactly what I did when I crossed the finish line for my first marathon. That bitch is framed and hanging on the wall.

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  24. I just got so choked up reading #3 - you my friend, are amazing, smart, beautiful, strong and one of the best cheerleaders out there. If I had half the grit and determination you did, the sky would be the limit. Your strength through everything is something I think about a lot, you never cease to amaze me...this amazing day. So god damn proud of you - those pics are awesome! And I KNOW, KNOW that you are going to rock that 70.3 - I just wish I could actually be out there screaming my lungs out for you instead of stalking your splits on the interwebs. Enjoy graduation, enjoy the celebaration and ENJOY your taper, you have this! LOVE YOU!!

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  25. As with so many other posts of yours, I could have written much of this myself (and I don't mean just the part about our photos being awesome). None of us here is a professional athlete. That means that we're all in it for something besides a pot of money at a finish line—increased mental toughness, determination, self-confidence. When it comes to those traits—the ones the "rest" of us are after—those of us who aren't "natural athletes" are way ahead of the game.

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  26. That last paragraph... I felt its punch. Awesome, Katie.

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  27. Girl, (used intentionally) you PREACH!
    I, and many others, are drawn to your honesty and your ability to lay it all out there. You really have a gift in your ability to articulate what is in your heart. And you speak so eloquently for ALL OF US.

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  28. Well, I got the chills with that very last paragraph. Just so you know, your writing is powerful. The way you keep going, despite many set-backs that many of us can't even imagine, is all YOU. Own it, and forget about the numbers or the way you get to the Start AND Finish line of the 70.3. It's all yours!

    p.s. those race pictures are awesome. We've joked about playing with the photographers before, but never actually done it. Ha, this makes me want to do it. Who needs to look glamorous?! PSH.

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  29. On #3, lot of athletes define themselves and other athletes based on their accomplishments rather than their traits and characteristics as an athlete. You hear "I'm a 3:40 marathoner" or "I'm a :59 100 freestyler" all the time. But that's not what defines you as an athlete. It just means that you happened to run a 3:40 marathon that day. Maybe you really have it within you to run a 3:20 another day. So defining yourself that way is silly. It's better to define yourself in descriptive terms like you did here. Like "I'm a determined athlete" or "I'm a smart racer" or "I'm an athlete who takes on any challenge." It's more about who you are than what you've done. And THAT is what is important.

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  30. that's it katie. you are my official girl crush. (don't tell red, she gets all jealous and stuff!) ;) seriously though - AMAZING post. i'm with you on the work hard and fall down stuff. i read about people BQing on their first attempts and i'm like wth? but the will to go on and push harder no matter what make the finish line all that much sweeter. super excited for your race.

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  31. btw, that photo of you flexing is awesome. i may copy that move if you don't mind.

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  32. really really love this. and something I needed to read right now. thanks.

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  33. I'm way behind on my reader, so I just got to this, but I love #3. You have an amazing ability to voice what so many of us feel and why we keeping running/swimming/cycling even when we are winning races or BQing or setting PRs.

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  34. Love this post (I know I'm late to the game on commenting, sorry). It's so easy for me to get caught up with what me time is and how it stands up against others rather than realizing what getting out there and trying my best really means. Sports are about so much more than getting a better body and winning...they are about creating a better sense of self. Thank you saying it so well.

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