The Off-Season Update: The Runner I Am Right Now

I don't have as much time to do this as I used to, but I love reading the blogs of my fellow tri-e-thletes.  One of my favorites is Bob, another native Floridian.

More misguided advice
 from Inspirobot
I popped on to check out her blog today and I found this gem. She pretty much sums up the entire year I had this year - trying to keep up with Me Circa  2013, even though so many factors are totally different.  The biggest of those things are that my chronic health issues, my 70-mile round-trip commute and wacky schedule have been eating away at me.  
During the latter part of my training for Chicago (Septemberish), I got to the point where I had a devil of a time completing my long runs.  I was so physically zapped that I couldn't finish more than 8 miles sometimes.  When I did the Volition Half, I also pulled my IT band. It was only 3 weeks before M-Day, so I did lots of pre-hab and re-hab and took my running volume down, swapping out sessions for yoga and swimming where it seemed logical.

That was not enough. By now you know that I was still injured and I knew it from the first step of the marathon, but yet still decided (foolishly) to complete the entire 26.2 miles. 

Welp, that injury was not an IT band pull. It was a femoral stress fracture.

I have been doing this for almost 10 years and I've never had a "real" injury.  I once had a tibial stress fracture so minor the orthopod allowed me to run a full marathon on it and even do speedwork. This is definitely NOT minor. No running, according to my ortho and my amazing PT (who, by the way, is the reason I figured out this was a sfx and not a muscle injury.) No cycling either - and no swimming if I kick off the wall. So all I have left is upper body, open water swims with a pull buoy, and trying not to walk or dance too much.

(Do you KNOW me? I am a one-woman dance party.  Trying not to dance too much is like most people trying not to breathe!)

I am super pissed at myself for being so pigheaded and setting myself back 8+ weeks by running 26.2 miles with a fractured femur.  B says I get "The Real Man" Award; I say it's probably more like the "I'm With Stupid" Award.

And here's how I got myself into this mess: although I've gained 10-15 pounds since my last 26.2 and have not felt well, I was trying to train at my old speeds as if nothing had changed.  I was trying to be, as Bob puts it, the runner I was back then and not the runner I am right now.  The runner I was back then was PR'ing a bridge-y marathon and winning sprints. And triathlon can be a peer-pressurey sport, and around me are all these fast people and Ironmen AND the ghost of The Runner I Was Around 2013.

The Funk is hard to dodge right now, considering I'm not doing much. I'd lost half the weight I'd gained, and now I gained that back so I'm sitting (very uncomfortably) where I started. I'm a little tiny person - 4'11" max - so 10-15 pounds is a substantial change.  Plus being without the exercise endorphins is very hard on my emotional state.

But I am actually having a pretty good time doing other things. Like going to the Dominican Republic and white parties and weddings of all kinds.  (Just trying not to dance too much.)
White Party!

Part of what got me into this mess was not accepting where I personally am - and knowing that it changes. I may be injured this year, but next year maybe I smash all my PRs.  Or maybe I don't...maybe I just get to waffle around doing unstructured training for half the year. 

I am a damn shark
There's no reason to think I won't be ready to start IMCHOO 70.3 training in January - I'm just saying that, no matter where I end up, I will figure it out.  And I will figure out ways to enjoy it.

Besides, this is the year of ESLSG.

And running 26.2 miles 8 times is pretty amazing. Every runner I've ever been agrees.

Forget The Pants

Case in point.
One of my greatest guilty pleasures is coming home from my work or workout and lounging on the couch while I read or watch TV, catch up with the B, and Inspirobot with my one of my best friends.
Inspirobot is an "AI" website that strings together random algorithims of inspirational and dramatic words and photos and generates . . . life advice? inspiration? insanity?  

Anyway, my friend and I will send each other the most astute and/or hilarious pictures we find all damn night and absolutely piss our pants laughing. 

It occurs to me that I like Inspirobot because I am all of the things that Inspirobot is.  A little wise, a little wacky, a little nuts, a little funny - and possibly not something that everyone would "get."

For most of my life, that has been something I have not quite liked about myself.
For most of my life, I’ve been trying to shove myself into a certain role the way many of us try to squeeze into our pants from high school. 
You know which pants I’m talking about. Those pants have been out of style for 20 years, but we still want in them damn things. So we pray and hope and cross our fingers and lay down on the bed and suck it all in, but no matter what we do, most of us will not be wearing that same pair of pants ever again.

Every week, the pants are the same size and shape – and, every week, I can’t quite get into them. Some weeks they don’t even go up over my thighs; other weeks they almost zip. Those weeks, I am filled with a panic-like excitement that maybe TOMORROW will be the day that I’ll get into them, and my ENTIRE LIFE is about to change! 

Inevitably, tomorrow comes, and the pants still don’t fit, but for some reason, I keep up this tired routine of trying to be something I’m really not.
I’m sad to say my perceptions of myself have been colored by the idea that we, as women, have to be graceful and quiet and calm and dainty and sexy (and a whole bunch of other things that I am NOT) in order to be wanted or useful or worthy.  I’ve been sitting on pins and needles, holding my breath, trying not to burp or break things or spill something on myself or fart or eat too much or be too loud or too fat or too frizzy or too ANYTHING to fit this image.  I have mentioned that I’m a lot heavier than my racing competition – and, when it comes to racing, that’s something I almost relish.  But, in my non-racing life, it’s often excruciating.

Trust me – there are plenty of things I love about myself. To name a few: I have great legs (gymnastics, figure skating, triathlon), a really unique eye color that no one can ever agree on (green? grey? blue?), a ton of energy, a positive attitude, loyalty for days, a greater-than-average problem-solving ability, and a wicked good sense of direction. 

But I’m also a lot of things that this “ideal” woman is not: overweight (no one can see by looking at me how fit I am); frizzy-haired; loud; clumsy; sassy; insecure at times, brash at others.  I’m the friend who’s going to blurt out something inappropriate like a frat boy, have the messy hair, show up dressed completely different than everyone else, and awkwardly say something that silences the entire table (often while intending to do the exact opposite). I am not, nor ever will be, the “Hot Chick.”
If life were a film, I would never be cast as the Leading Lady.

As much as we hate to admit it, most of us want to be the Leading Lady. She wins at life, she gets the money, she gets the dudes, and her hair and clothes look great even when she’s hungover as a mo’fo’ or just crossed an Ironman finish line.  But most of us will never be the Leading Lady.  And that’s not fatalistic or hyperbolic; it’s just that she does not really exist.  
Not so fast, Inspiribot
You know who DOES exist?  The role we make up for ourselves.  Or no role at all, if you're not bound and determined to label everything in your life, like I am.

As much as I advocate reaching for the stars and trying to do the impossible, there is a time and place where you just have to be what you are, where you are.  And I'm inching closer to that.

Last week, we went on vacation to the Dominican Republic for a friend's wedding. As a rule, I hate beach vacations.  Shoving myself into a real-life swimsuit is about as hard as shoving myself into those theoretical pants. I hate how I look.  And so many of those things have to do with shit beyond my control: my thyroid acting up, my natural shape, my other health issues. Other things I’m trying to work on: the frizzy hair, the weight, making sure my clothing choices make me feel comfortable in my shape and size.

But we went with a great group of people - a group I feel like I can be myself with for the most part. And, although there were times that I felt a little like a nut job or a fatty or an outsider or whatever other label you want to put on it, that's my shit and not anyone else's. All in all, I was able to just let loose and have a great time with them. I felt like I really "belonged."  I felt like I didn't have to mask or cover up who I really am.

The coco-nuts
I'm finally embracing my role in life: the Zany Sidekick. And I think I'm going to have a great time.  I may even be better than me.  But brace yourselves for the ridiculousness that shall follow, because before I was at least trying to mask the crazy.

And forget the pants.  You look better in a skirt anyway.
The girls
The crew
Before the clothes came off
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