When "Doing You" Turns Into "Doing More": The Seattle Marathon and the 2014/15 Send-Off

It's been several months, so I'll try not to be long-winded.  (Luckily, all of my thoughts really do begin and end in the same place.)

First of all, Seattle (my 7th marathon) came and went without a real race report.  I can summarize it in a few lines: the day was cold (it snowed the day prior), Seattle was the most beautiful place I've ever seen, and the race was a lot harder than I expected. I had big struggles with dizzy spells and didn't have a PR, but managed my 3rd-fastest marathon yet.

Perhaps I'll chat more about that later, but I have a lot of catching up to do.

For one thing, we have a brand new year ahead of us, and there is nothing I love more than a fresh, clean start.  (Although this year I felt like my fresh, clean start began in August.)

Since graduation from grad school in August, this is the first time since I was 15 that I haven't BOTH worked AND gone to school.  So I've spent the last 4 months doing whateverthefuckIwanted.  This has been both good and bad.  (For one thing. I've gained a few pounds for the first time in years.)

It is odd to just be working (not working 3 jobs or working AND going to school), but I've been busier than ever before.  That's because I decided post-graduation to just say YES to everything I really wanted to do.

And that is what brings me here and what most succinctly summarizes 2014 - and, in some ways, this entire blog.

A little history. This blog began in 2006 on MySpace.  It came over to an actual blog-space in 2008 when I began writing regularly - and, in those two years, I discovered a few things about myself.  The first was that I was going through some really hard times and needed to find a way to reconnect with my natural Panglossian mania for insisting that everything is good (aka optimism).

In 2009, I began giving each new year a theme in my annual old year recap/new year post.  I didn't do one in 2010or in 2011, but those were some special years.  2010 and 2011 were the years when I began to experience some epiphanies that ended those hard times. I REALLY began to realize I could make it.  2012 was the year of reinvention and I brought back the themes, this time with MAJSicle 2012, but I can tell you that I really wasn't ready to make the full transformation just yet.  Nonetheless, 2013 was full of promise and I dubbed it "Lucky 13" - the Year of 40 Good Things.  I didn't get much chance to work on those Good Things as I experienced some substantial illness within my family.

So that brings us to 2014: the Year of Do You, Boo.  As tough as Lucky '13 was, 2014 was also a doozy.  There was more hardship and loss, and training took a back sit to mourning and studying.  For the first time since I started blogging, I REALLY, really, simplified: I only trained and socialized as much as I actually could, and I cut out absolutely everything that didn't contribute to school or my health or my financial recovery.

And then August came, and I graduated, and another theme recurred.  Once I graduated, I didn't have to do anything but work. I was so excited by all this free time that I was really not sure whether I want to go use it to work out for 2 hours or go to dinner with a friend I hadn't seen in a few months.  The challenge for me was that obviously, I can't do both. I have always known that I can't be all things to all people, but I desperately want to have little bits of everything I love in my life on a regular basis.

You see, there was a second, more enduring reason I began blogging (because, in my mind, hard times are never enduring).  That is that I am on a constant search for balance. I feel like I have to reconcile two MAJes: the social butterfly who never sits still and wants to make all my non-work choices based purely on how fun they sound; the brainy, knowledge-thirsty introvert who really just wants to be seriously fit and educated and have lots of alone time.  I have always been keenly aware that when I do something with my time, I am choosing to forego whatever else I could be doing with it. (This contributes highly to my FOMO.)

Over the last 8 years of blogging, it has become very clear to me that the key to feeling content with my life and life choices relies, in large part, to the reconciliation of those two MAJes and the answer to the looming question how can I fit it all in?

I mentioned that having time to do whateverthefuckIwanted was both good and bad.  The bad: I definitely trained a little less and ate and drank a little more (and, as aforementioned, my weight is up for the first time in 3 years.  That's not pleasant, so you can imagine that 2015 will be partly about getting back on track there.)

But I haven't mentioned the good: even though I didn't feel GOOD, I wasn't as sick as I have been previously, so unfettered by both school and near-crippling illness, for one of the few times in my adult life, I really said yes to everything I wanted to do.  Yes, I was ultra-busy, but this taught me that I really COULD balance it all: the days I don't feel good, the days I just wanna have fun, and the days I want to work out like a machine and train for a PR.  I have managed to "manage" it all while still maintaining a healthy, race-ready level of fitness without becoming completely obsessed with triathlon or marathon.

I used to think that I could either have fun with my non-race friends OR be a badass fitness nut but NEVER both.  Now I know that I can really enjoy a little of everything in moderation.  In 2014, I went to all the parties I really wanted to go to (some of them mine), but I also finished my 7th marathon, saw Seattle for the first time, and logged both half marathon and 15k PRs.

Yes, there are still two MAJes. But I now know that they can not only live happily within the same mind and body, but that the many different facets of myself compliment each other really, really nicely. 

After a full year of really being ME and doing it ALL, I've managed my first real reconciliation and I feel more at home within my own skin than I have in my entire life.

Of course, I have professional and personal goals (in-field work, lose the few pounds I gained, etc.).  I have also already started crossing back over to tri training, since my goal is to have a much shorter "off season" after such a light year.  But I decided that 2015 is the year to really turn my focus outward and use some of that balance and positive energy more and more to help others.  

Get ready for 2015: The Year of Getting Involved and Giving Back.  

To kick off the #getinvolved and #giveback, I'll be helping "coach" some tri newbies in my tri club and I'll be volunteering with the local Coalition for the Homeless.  This starts right away next week and the week after.  In March, I'll be raising diabetes research and awareness funds again for the ADA, and I may do one more cancer-stomping marathon for the ACS (we'll see.) But I'm really, REALLY excited about the chance to share some of my regained energy and optimism with my community.

Here's to 2015, and whatever it brings you!

Break On Through to the Other Side

It seems like just yesterday I was too busy to really blog because I was finishing grad school.  Every time I'd have a thought or two to share, this song would play in my head:

Break on through to the other side

Then I would think, Sure, I can write about this.  I can blog more when I Break On Through to the Other Side.

Well, about four weeks ago I broke on through and it's taken me four damn weeks to write.  I finished grad school, my degree posted to my transcripts and now I'm just waiting on my diploma. The hard work and isolation paid off, because I finished with almost a 4.0, too. And I pretty much instantly started working on my list of Shit to Do Once I Graduate. I applied to volunteer a few different places (and am already doing an event in a few weeks), I started working on some mini-consulting projects, I went on a celebratory cruise and had several celebratory parties and dinners (remember, this was the first graduation CELEBRATION of my LIFE), I have seen lots of friends, and I started working on ways to see more live music (and have already seen some live sporting events.)

Yes, I've still been feeling crappy on and off. The allergies being under control has made a huge difference.  There are still some pending tests, but I've reconciled myself to the idea that I'm back on the Health Roller Coaster for the time being, and that it may not end until after I've hit clinical remission this coming April, if then.  I've learned to be ok with that again.
 
And now I can't seem to find the time to blog because I'm busy doing all. Of. The. Things. 

All of The Things also includes training, although as you can imagine the training hasn't been as focused as it has been previously.  But I'm ok with this, too.  The fact that I'm still fitting in 15-20 miles of running a week at this point and doing All of The Things makes me happy. It's a good balance.  This is a good time for the running volume to increase and some of the celebrations to die down.

I'm enjoying life on the other side.

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