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Archive for April, 2012

Old Voices

No worries, it’s fine: you don’t have to take me up on my advice to Kristin Armstrong’s blog in Runners World, because I’ll just keep posting excerpts here.

(Apparently.)

From her latest:

I read something about how elephants are trained.  When they are young they are tied up by one ankle with a heavy chain.  No matter how hard they struggle or pull against it, they cannot escape.  Over time they accept this condition as their destiny and full grown elephants are able to be restrained by a wimpy little ankle chain.  Anyone with eyes could see that with one tug of their mighty leg the elephant could instantly break their tether, but the elephant has no idea.  The strongest animal on land dreams of freedom.

How often are we like the elephant?  We are restrained by the old voices that used to define us when we were young.  The heavy chains are nothing more than twine, easily snapped, if only we knew we had the strength.

Somewhere in Middle School or High School I got this idea in my head that I was terrible at math. I didn’t even both taking it my senior year in high school, and when I started college, I signed up for the easiest looking math course that would get me out of the math requirement (it was “Intro to Statistical Computing’)

I ended up teaching statistics for the next five years. It paid for grad school. What the hell did I know?

Somewhere in Middle School or High School I got this idea in my head that I was terrible at sports. Then I spent my twenties running marathons and doing Ironmen triathlons. I didn’t want to start Crossfit because I was no good at lifting, and now it’s one of my favorite things in my life. What the hell did I know?

I loved that part of Kristin’s last entry — a nice reminder that who we think we are might need an update, every now and then.

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Lucy

I met Lucy in … 2003, I think. No, that’s right: 2003. I was started grad school and moved into a house in an “up and coming” section of DC (which up and came right after I left, and now I can’t afford to live there, ha) that housed five girls, Lucy being one of them.

I’m not sure the exact moment we became friends, but over the course of many many many weekend nights spent in studying until 9pm and then making a frozen pizza, cracking a bottle of Rene Junot and going crazy watching West Wing DVDs, we became quite close. So close, in fact, that she belongs in the exclusive club of “women who are like sisters to me, so much so that I do not have a single picture of us together.”

Along the way we graduated, moved far, far away (she moved all the way to SILVER SPRING, you guys. That is in Maryland. Yes, technically we’re only talking about 6ish miles from my house in DC to her house in Maryland but believe me when I tell you IT WAS FAR. A WHOLE OTHER STATE.) She had a baby, I moved to Colorado, life goes on, as it does. We don’t get to spend weekends hiking together (as we did the entire summer of 2004, when we were both single, broke, and really sick of DC), or nights “treating” ourselves to frozen pizza (see above re single, broke), but we’ve got IM, we’ve got email. We’re still in each other lives, even if over the years our lives somewhat rotated out of each other’s daily orbit.

(Actually: cool story that isn’t the point of this post: when Lucy moved out of our grad school house to move in with her boyfriend (before you go all whoremongering – which apparently is acceptable again in 2012– she married him, so like, cool your jets, moral authority /sarc), he gave me a stuff dog named ‘Lucy’ as a replacement for my real life Lucy roommate. I still have this dog and get the pleasure of drinking wine with Lucy nightly. Ha.)

Anyway. I came home yesterday to find an out-of-the blue piece of mail from Lucy – a random print she thought I’d like that she sent on. I’ve been smiling since I got it, not just because I like it – which I do – but because I’ve spent the hours since receiving it mentally reliving good times with my old friend. Lucy, if you were here, I’d crack us a bottle of cheap white wine, cue up some West Wing, and happily settle in for another great evening. Miss you.

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– I spent a lunch hour a few weeks ago coping with a bad day by registering for running races. Here’s what on tap:

  • Trail 5k April 21st
  • Greenland Open Space 8 miler (trail) on May 5h
  • BoulderBoulder 10k on May 29th

And possibly the 10 mile Tough Mudder in Beaver Creek in June. I mean, why not, right? I think I’ll be a little bummed at Greenland that I’m not doing the 50k option (“after all” says the me of 5 years ago “why race if you’re not going long?”) but I’ve no interest in actually doing long training runs, so! Thereyago.

– I loved doing the Incline and the subsequent run down the mountain and all, but hoooo boy did it KILL me. My quads and stabilizing calf muscles are dead. DEAD. I have spent this week whimpering every time I’ve stood up from my desk. Walking around corners is painful as my ankles no long want to work to stablize me, so much so that I legit wore compression socks under my work clothes this week, just to make it through the day. Awesome. To say that I’m not in peak running shape would not be a particularly slanderous statement.

– I’m not particularly awesome at running or Crossfit – I mean, I show up, I try hard, but let’s be real, it’s not like I’mwinningor anything. I’m OK with this because I like the effort and I like subsequent results it has in my mood and jeans size (what?), but I have to tell you: I made the leader board* for my gym’s Daniel* workout, and well, that feel pretty fantastic.

* Leader board: fastest times for a given workout are posted on a white board, including the date and name of when /who completed it

* Daniel: Complete the following exercises in order, for time:

  • 50 pull ups
  • 400 m run
  • 21 thrusters @ 65lbs
  • 800 m run
  • 21 thrusters @65lbs
  • 400m run
  • 50 pull ups

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And with that: Happy Friday, y’all. My stepdaughter’s spring break starts today and we’re heading into the mountains to see if we can find ANY snow left. (unlikely, but worth a shot.) (Oh! Which reminds me! The other day my stepdaughter texted me, all: “Have you ever seen Titanic?” and I was all “Girl, PLEASE.” I mean, seriously! Who hasn’t seen Titanic? (Um. 15 year olds who were not alive when it came out, that’s who.) This is just like the time she looked up from a Friends re-run and was like “Wait? Ross and Rachel dated?” and then I died, because, honestly, KIDS THESE DAYS and their COMPLETE DISREGARD FOR CULTURE)

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Manitou Springs used to have a “Scenic Incline Railway” – a cable car that would take people the eastern face of Rocky Mountain, to appx 8500 feet. This railway shut down in 1990, but the track (the “Scar”, so called because the mountain looks scarred with the tracks were laid) is still there. The track is about a mile long, and gains just over 2000 feet of elevation.

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This would only be moderately interesting except for the fact that this is Colorado, a state filled with sporty people in a state of constant oxygen deprivation, and so when they see something like this:

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They think: “You know, I bet it would suck to run up that. We should try it.”

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Apparently I am one of those people:

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(Sorry about the ass shot, y’all)

This past Sunday we met up with some friends and climbed The Incline. It was so hard, you guys. I know that’s kind of a “no duh” statement, but: it was really hard. {/whine} I lagged behind my friends and huffed and puffed up, having thoughts similar to those I had at the end of the Ironman, which can be summed up as “This sucks bad idea stupid stupid stupid suck suck suck.

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(That’s Mike, not me. It was hot. He’s wearing Lululemons. What? Just the facts!)

Eventually, of course, you do get to the top:

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(I’m including this to point out that Kate – in the pink – has four kids AND those ridiculous abs so basically if I didn’t love her I’d hate her)

And lo, it is awesome. And – dare I say – worth it.  

Now, you could go down the way you came up, but that would be stupid. (Um. Stupider than following through on the initial impulse to climb it at all, that is.) Luckily, there is a four mile switch back trail that goes down the other side of the mountain, the infinitely safer and saner way to descend (and likely ascend as well, but… that defeats the point of doing something stupid just for kicks.)

That run down the mountain was one my favorite runs of my whole life. To be fair, it ALL downhill, making it a leeeetle more of a “controlled fall” than “run” (related: my quads and stablizing calf muscles no longer work, OMG) but oh, it was amazing. While going down it I remember thinking to myself “THIS. This is why people move to Colorado, THIS is why people love living here, THIS is amazing.”  (Aside: Kate ran down the whole thing yelling “PARKOUR!” as she launched herself off boulders and trees on the way down. Heee.)

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It’s been a hard month, you guys. Things are fine, it’s just been hard. I needed to take a day to make things purposefully harder, as counter intuitive as that seems. I need to struggle to get up, so I could embrace some joy in coming down.  Climbing The Incline is absolutely an idea born of a mass of oxygen deprived individuals, but it was exactly what I needed.

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