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Archive for July, 2012

I just read a lovely post from Anna Pulley about her Ashtanga practice. I know Anna a little bit through her ex-girlfriend, Ellie; Ellie is a good friend from high school who is now a yoga teacher, and when I’m home in Minneapolis I make it a point to take her Ashtanga class, a yoga practice that is far and away one of the most challenging forms of exercise I’ve ever undertaken. (Weirdly, the fact that I only attend once a year has not helped me improve at ALL. What kind of BS is THAT?)

One of the interesting things about Ashtanga practice – for me, at least – is that it is intended to be daily. Most people scoff at that and consider it ridiculous, which I get – who among us has time to include 5 days a week of intense yoga practice? – but is it, really? When I was Ironman training I trained seven days a week, and five days a week at Crossfit is something I do without even thinking. Why should an intense yoga practice be any different? 

I’ve been thinking about this today because Anna’s post about quitting Ashtanga really resonated with me — the words she uses to describe why she practices daily, and why she wanted to quit, are all things I’ve felt before about the sports that I have been devoted to, the running and the triathloning and the crossfitting. And while I lack any sort of religious vocabulary for my day to day life, when I read posts like hers, I’m not sure I see a difference in a strong religious faith and that type of daily practice.

What has stuck with me though, long after my relationship with the yoga teacher ended and I was forced to make my own damn coffee in the morning, was the subtle, yet insurmountable joy I felt from the practice. When people would call me crazy or ask what on earth compelled me to get up at stupid o’clock and sweat and grunt and cry in public for two hours a day, six days a week, I would tell them, in all earnestness: “Because it makes me happy.”

It’s not easy for me most days. But I show up. I do the work. I do it even though somedays it feels like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I do it because it’s the only way I know to live.

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Parental Failures

It has come to my attention that my stepdaughter has never seen season one* of The O.C. or  Dumb and Dumber.

We are FAILING this child, you guys.

(In the ‘Things We’re Getting Right’ category: she’s firmly Team Stefan, she does love to cook (made us dinner on Friday!), enjoyed going to Crossfit with me so much on Saturday that she wants to go every day this week, and seriously enjoys Tana French. So, you know, we haven’t like, ruined her, or anything. We’ve just been lax in some very important pop culture areas)

*I concede that The O.C. fell off quite a bit in terms of quality, however season one was a hugely enjoyable experience that everyone should watch.

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I was up in New York last week for Ironman Lake Placid. My husband and three of our very good training buddies were all competing in the race. In 2010, the same crew got together when we all did Ironman CdA, and I remember it as one of the more enjoyable vacations I’ve taken, despite the fact that there was a grueling triathlon taking place smack in the middle of it.

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2012 IMLP Crew (racers in the middle)

Sunday night, as we gathered around the table post-race, the finishers telling war stories of what had happened that day, my friend Chris asked me about the difference between spectating the race and doing the race.

Obviously, they are different. With one, you are triathloning for 12+ (in my case, ++) hours, getting sunburned, living off manufactured sugar and sweat, and in the other, you are drinking champagne in the middle of the day in the shade. They are not really comparable experiences. I can say that I felt fine with my decision to not register for IMLP last year, and had no delusions that I would be doing this race (I’ve swum probably four times all year, and let’s not even discuss when I was last on my bike), but it was still hard to see my friends go off and do something without me, something that used to very much include me.

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2010 IMCdA

Having said that: I enjoyed spectating. I like being around the race atmosphere. I was so proud of my husband and friends, each having a great day on a tough course, and I liked that I knew exactly how tough their days truly were, having ridden that exact bike course myself, and having gutted out 26.2 miles on my feet after swimming 2.4 and riding 112. I get it, and I got it that day, and I was so happy to be there with them, even if it was on the sidelines.

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Watching athletes come up “Mama Bear” – one of the harder climbs of IMLP

It was hard, though. I didn’t register for IMLP last summer (you register for Ironman races a full year before the race) because I was quite certain we’d have a baby this summer. At the very least, I was sure I’d be pregnant during the 2012 race. So it was hard to be there, no baby, no pregnancy. While catching up with our training buddies this week, I was surprised at how little moments of anger would creep in, how broken I felt, being there as a former Ironman with no “good” excuse for not doing the race. Which is silly, of course. There are many good excuses for not doing an Ironman. Hell, “I don’t wanna” is a perfectly good excuse for not doing an Ironman. But that wasn’t my excuse, not really, and, well, I was pissed about it.

There are so many things about an Ironman you can’t control. You can’t control the weather. You can’t control other people hitting you during the swim. You can’t stop your bike from getting a flat tire or a wheel from blowing a spoke. In fact, one of the most commonly repeated motivational phrases in the days leading up to an Ironman is “The only thing you can control is your attitude.” I found myself, this past week, being reminded of that. Of the multitude of things I cannot control about getting and staying pregnant (which is…basically everything), I can absolutely control my attitude about it. When I look back on this year, I don’t see it as a waste. In many ways, it’s been one of my favorite years of my life. And I don’t want to look back at the spectating experiences of IMLP 12 as a waste of race. It wasn’t. It was a great week with good friends. The gang is signing up for another IM in 2013 and I’m looking forward to that, too, regardless of whether I show up to race or spectate. Either way, I’ll be smiling.

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I do not go church or practice religion personally, but I have friends that do and I from what I understand, they take a great deal of comfort, satisfaction and community from doing so, and I’m glad for them. It’s not something we discuss on the reg, mind you; it’s not my thing, and while I’m happy to hear about it if they want to share a highlight or a tidbit, for the most part I’m cool just knowing that they’ve got something that’s positive in their life, without, you know, daily updates.

I would assume that this is the same way they feel about my Crossfit/Triathloning/Paleo Eating/What-have-you-ing. At least, I try to remind myself that when I feel the urge to preach the Gospel, as it were, to those who are not part of that world. I take an enormous amount of personal satisfaction from my lifestyle – hell, sometimes the most fulfilling social part of my day is at the Crossfit gym – but I’m taking care to remind myself that the fulfillment I get from this is not something that I need to discuss, in detail, all the time. (Well what the hell are you doing with a blog, then, Liz? Fair question, fair question.)

In other words, I’m trying to limit my fitness douchery, and thinking about it context of religion is helpful for that. The satisfaction I get from this lifestyle is not from convincing others it’s the right way to live, but by just living it for myself.

(Of course, having said that: this is my blog and the reading of it, as I understand, is entirely optional, so it’s highly likely that if I ever actually do a muscle up or end up running again, you can count on the fact that I’ll be rambling on about it in this space for quite a while. )

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I turned 31 last week. It was lovely, even though the 4th of July (my birthday) falling on a Wednesday is completely worthless from a long-weekend standpoint, it was very nice to a have paid day off in the middle of the week where I a) slept in, b) read a book while leisurely drinking coffee, c) went to the gym for my birthday WOD and worked out with good friends, d) napped by a pool with said friends and enjoyed the lazy sunshine, and e) had a surprise visit from my brother and sister in law in which dinner and gluten free birthday cake were provided. It was a lovely, lovely day.

Related: when my parents called to wish me a Happy Birthday, my immediate response was “Thanks for going for that 3rd kid, you guys!”

Related related: my brother – the one who doesn’t live here – just got a temporary teaching job at the University of Wyoming, covering for a  professor who is out on sabbatical. This means my brother will be a short two hour driver away, and my Denver-based brother and I are super excited that he will be so close. I think it says something really nice about the way our parents raised us that the three of us have all made efforts to live near each other. Nothing lasts forever, and I’m sure these living arrangements won’t either, but for now, I’m smiling, thinking of my brothers and I getting to spend another year within easy hangout range.

Related related related: years ago, my good friend turned 31 (ok, not THAT many years ago. I was …27, maybe) and I remember her sitting on her couch in her kitchen going “You know, the 30s are… nice. It’s just easy.” And, you know, Yeah. I feel, in many, many ways, that I’ve kind of … hit my stride. There’s things I’d change, but not many. I have husband I love and would choose again (and again and again), family nearby, a stepdaughter I love to pieces, a job in my chosen profession located in the place I want to live … life good, y’all. My 30s, so far, are treating me well.

Back later this week with actual, you know, content, which is what I am told is the point of blogging. Until then, please to enjoy a pic of the husband and I in Kiawah Island last week. Two weeks ago. Whatever, this month, we were there. It was lovely:

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