On Milestones and Toothpaste

To say that this was one of the biggest weeks of my life would be an understatement. It was a week of goals and milestones; nothing dull or ordinary about it. Some of them were excellent; some of them were depressing.

None of them were insignificant.

On Monday, I was still flying high from my first road race. On Wednesday, I got my first PhD rejection letter. Unfortunately, it was from the school I really wanted to attend. There are lots of things I could say to sugar-coat my disappointment. As anyone who has ever applied to a competitive program (grad OR undergrad) will tell you, it isn’t about the school YOU pick as much as it is the school that wants YOU. I have been working a full time job plus 1-2 teaching assistantships plus 1-2 research projects every single term for two years, and knowing that I didn’t get recommended for the school I’ve worked so hard with was a bitter pill to swallow. I can’t say there weren’t tears. But, within an hour of the news, despite my tummy still aching, I was moving on to plans B, C and D (yes, I have that many).

On Thursday, I had my regular 3-month visit with the endocrinologist. My TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels are up, which is usually not good, but my thyroglobulin and antibodies are down, which is very good. This means I don’t need a full body scan with the thyrogen shot and the fasting and the whole nine yards – just an ultrasound. So my medicine got adjusted once more, and I go back (as always) in 3 months, and then schedule the ultrasound from there. Couple more years to remission.

Saturday was my first 5k since 2009, and I was originally supposed to run with a friend, but she was unable to race as planned. The race was my baseline for the season; I wanted to see how much faster I’ve gotten since my last 5k. The answer was – despite all the craziness of the week, the stomachache, last week’s tough times, and racing two weeks in a row – a LOT.

Previous 5k PR in 2009 - 31:47
Training 5k PR this year – 29:xx
Super-Lofty Goal Time: 25-28
Saturday’s Result – 28:34

Don't get offended; I'm not promoting cigarette
use.  This pic was just funny.
For the record: 5ks hurt.  Like a bitch.  I still believe 5ks are harder than marathons.  Marathons don't make you see blurry-eyed and nauseous, and they don't hurt as bad.  Also for the record: my 61.7-mile training ride for The Tour de Mom did not hurt the next day as I suspected it might.
File this under: you've come a long way, baby.

Today I got an e-mail with my official results recap. I was 27 out if 196 in my age group; 259 out of 1837 total runners; the highest I’ve ever placed in a non-tri race. It was only then that I realized something: even though I am still not what you can really call “fast,” I have finally succeeded in moving myself from the bottom 15-20% of the pack to the top 15-20%. I have also succeeded in regularly maintaining a single-digit per-mile pace in short races. These were two of my three biggest goals.

6 years ago, when I started this racing nonsense, if you had told me I would do this all while (happily) working what amounts to 3 jobs and fighting cancer, I would have slapped the shit out of you for being such a liar.

The accomplishment embodied the dichotomous spirit of the week: on one hand, it’s time to celebrate. On another, you can’t stop thinking what next?

One of my tri coaches says that making progress in the sport is like a tube of toothpaste.  When you first buy the tube, you can squeeze anywhere and get something out.  But, once you've been doing it for a while, you have to start rolling the tube up and squeezing it from the bottom just to get a little out. 

Well, my toothpaste tube us starting to get rolled up, so what’s next is a big enough topic to fill a post of its own.  For now – we will celebrate. But, just like my moment of anger on Wednesday, the celebration won’t last for too long. Because whether something is good or bad, a milestone always has two basic steps: first you celebrate, or mourn, or whatever the case may be - then you dig in.

And once you dig in, you get The Week in Song Lyrics.

(Like you didn't see that coming.)

The Week in Song Lyrics: Dig In (Lenny Kravitz)

It's time to face it
Come on in and join the party
Life has been waiting for you to care
Don't try to fake it, jump on in and get it started
There's so much lovin' for you to share

There is nowhere to run
There is no way to hide
Don't let it beat you
Say "Nice to meet you" and "Bye"

Once you dig in
You'll find it coming out the other side
And once you dig in
You'll find you'll have yourself a good time

Wake up and shake it
You didn't make your contribution
There ain't no time for you to spare
If you ain't part of the game
Then how can you find a solution?
Nobody said that it would be fair

When the mountain is high
Just look up to the sky
Ask God to teach you
Then persevere with a smile

And once you dig in . . .

1 tidbits of wizdom:

Molly said...

GREAT job this week. Fingers crossed that plan B comes through for school!!