Monday Musings: on the return of relaxation and its enormous power

It surprised me how much weight I was carrying from this move. It wasn’t that we weren’t organized. It wasn’t that we didn’t have a lot of time to deal with it. It wasn’t that I’m not overly skilled at moving (because I am, care of 10+ moves as an adult. and that’s not even counting all the dorm moves in university). In my experience, moving is just one of those things that is all encompassing. It eats up your life for weeks on end as you fill your precious leisure time with unglamorous tasks like…

…purging junk you’ve been clinging to for a decade…

…trying to list shit to sell online to absurd bargain-hunting flakes…

…packing in waves so you aren’t living in an empty house for too long but not leaving too much til the end…

…and trying to clean years of filth from the darkest reaches of your home (hello, under the kitchen sink, I’m talking to you)…

As if I weren’t feeling enough like a shadow of my former self with the new job and the heinous commute, adding moving to the mix took my monster status to the next level.  There has been no fun, or at least no fun that hasn’t been overshadowed by nagging feeling that shit still needs to get done. Then, this weekend the clouds parted (literally and figuratively), and we were blessed with a true Sunday Funday and I had forgotten how significantly true relaxation alters one’s state of mind.

For the first time in months, we weren’t weighed down by the mental stress of feeling like we should be doing something else. We leisurely and carelessly strolled the streets of our new neighborhood without that nagging feeling that we should be packing or cleaning or organizing. It was glorious. We played at the local Pitch & Putt course, which ended up taking a full three hours thanks to many, many beginners slowing our roll (as a sidenote, never have I felt so good at golfing), and I didn’t once think “oh crap, this is taking too long and now we’re going to be f*$%ed later on.”

I cannot tell you how much lighter I felt without the stressful weight of the move. Relaxation truly is a miracle worker.  It didn’t take a major vacation or even wildly elaborate plans. We did what we always do: walked and golfed and drank some wine (not at the same time), but we did it without the burden of a million unfinished tasks. This feeling may not last long, but I’m going to enjoy the peace of relaxation while I can.

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TWIR #78: moving. ugh.

I know I told you on Wednesday that I wasn’t going to write a whole post complaining about moving. And I’m not. I’m just going to kick this post off with some bitter complaints and then move on. Moving sucks. I am tired, my body hurts, and I cannot believe we have to do this all over again in five months, albeit on a smaller scale. My workouts have not been great this week and I am 100% okay with absolving myself of responsibility and blaming the entire week of mediocre workouts on the move. Nevertheless, let’s see what I got up to.

Saturday
Activity: golf + packing
Relevant Stats: Official Last Day of Fun for the week (capitalization to indicate I am not kidding around)
Observations: I begged my better half to take me golfing Saturday afternoon after we spent the morning running errands and packing only to find ourselves staring into the face of hours more of packing. I needed fun, damn it! And golf is the last fun thing I remember doing this week. I knocked 3 strokes off my best score to date, hit some damn good (for me) shots, and got my putting back on track. Such a shame that the season is almost over and all my mediocre skills will get even rustier over the winter.

Sunday 
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: packing, packing and more packing
Observations: I didn’t plan to take Sunday off. Saturday’s golf wasn’t a workout after all. Between a farewell brunch with a good friend, trying to pack all kitchen non-essentials, and tackling the heinous chore of sorting my clothing, I knew a trip to the gym wasn’t happening. Unfortunately, my poor packing form (i.e. hunching over boxes) had left my back in such a state that running, my usually reliable back up plan, was not an option either. Workout fail.

Monday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: I am starting to think that I exist in some sort of alternate universe on Mondays, one in which my memory no longer serves me. For the second week in a row, I cannot clearly recall my workout. I know I did spin because I always do cardio the day before my personal training session and, since I’m still not running, that means spin. However, I am guessing at the time frame. I know it wasn’t a long workout because I was rushed for time between meetings. Does it really matter? All that matters was that is wasn’t for long enough.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations:  My most vivid memory from this session was the horrid return of prowler chest press pushes. I have no idea if that is the correct name for this exercise, but I can say with certainty that ‘horrid’ is an understatement as a descriptor. Still, it was my first good workout of the week, so I will try not to whine too much.

Wednesday 
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Hallelujah! I broke the 35 minute spin barrier! Thanks to carpooling, my options were to stay on the bike for longer or sit around in my office for my carpool buddy to wrap up her day. I should thank her for my best cardio session in a while. And by best, I mean longest, because I still feel like death any time I try to do sustained cardio.

Thursday 
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: I am a prowler fanatic. I loaded that bad boy up with 90 lb again and rocked some high and low prowler pushes. Sadly, my SI doesn’t appear to be a huge fan of this, but I am determined to beat it into submission. I was proud of this workout. I worked up a good sweat and my legs were dead at the end. Winning combination.

Friday
Activity: spin and…stuff
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 8 min. random strength(ish) stuff
Observations: I had nothing in the tank. Nothing. My legs were dead tired and all I wanted was to face plant into my lunch salad. I know, salad isn’t at all exciting. That’s how hungry I was, though, so much so that I wished every turn of my feet on the pedals was taking me closer to my giant lunch salad. But it wasn’t. Because spin bikes are stationary. This is my long winded way of saying that it’s a miracle I made it to 30 minutes on the spin bike. I then tried desperately to do some serious strength work but mostly wandered aimlessly between sets of random arm exercises because my legs hurt too much. The end.

I’d say happy Friday, but it will not be for me. As you’re reading this I will be meeting with new landlords or cleaning or loading up our cars with our temporary belongings. None of those things are fun. I do hope your weekends are looking brighter than mine.

Mid-Week Tangent: realizing just how spoiled I am

We are moving this weekend…before we move again in the new year. Yes, by the time next January rolls around, I will have moved three times in one year. No, this post is not going to be one giant complaint about how much I hate moving. I could write an entire post on that, but I’ll spare you since moving is pretty universally despised.

As I was saying, we are moving this weekend.  We are going into a furnished rental for five months, which means all of our real furniture and 95% of our belongings are going into storage.  We’ve been slowing packing away the non-essentials, but as we get closer to the move, our non-essentials are becoming bigger ticket items. Like the other night we decided to wash and pack our king size bed sheets and pillows, rendering our king size bed out of commission until the new year, and sending us to our guest room’s queen sized bed.

This didn’t seem like a big deal. We’ve had a queen sized bed before. Our temporary rental will have a queen sized bed. Actually, I’m mildly terrified that the rental might actually have a double, but I cannot allow myself to contemplate that reality for too long lest I spin into a ball of panic about how I may NEVER SLEEP AGAIN.

It has been two nights back in the queen sized bed and I have had the worst two nights’ sleep in a long time. The duvet cover is too hot, which is one small part of the problem. The bigger issue is: MY GOD HOW DID WE EVER SLEEP IN A BED THIS SMALL!?!? I feel like I am on the edge of the bed with no room to move. We are hitting each other with arms and legs any time one of us moves in the night. I am waking up constantly. This morning, convinced that this was just a matter of my better half hogging the bed, I reached to the other side of him certain I would feel a foot and a half of unused mattress. No. There were only inches to spare.

This is the exact moment I realized that I have become incredibly spoiled. By a bed. More specifically, by a bed that allowed us to sleep gloriously far apart from the other person’s night habits, be they kicking, rolling, deep breathing or otherwise. And though it is a total spoiled-girl thing to complain about being relegated to a perfectly good queen-sized bed (and a fine mattress to boot!), I am doing it anyway. I miss my king-sized bed. I want it back. If I could strap it on top of my tiny, little Hyundai Accent and take it to our rental, trust me when I say I would.

Told you. Spoiled.

Monday Musings: wherever you go, there you are?

It’s true what they say. Wherever you go, there you are. I have moved to new cities a few times, five times to be exact, and each time, despite new surroundings and jobs and friends and patterns and routines and sometimes my own best efforts, I come out on the other end as more or less the same person. Yet as I sit here one week from moving into our new and temporary rental in the city, I am hoping that for once this old adage won’t ring true.

I’ve been a self-proclaimed monster for three months now.  Imagine living with a monster for three months.  My boyfriend deserves a serious reward. I get up way too early (for me), deal with a commute that fills me with so much rage, spend my work days dragging my feet and soul and brain around like dead weights, and then try to cram all of my fun life activities into the 1.5 hours of free time I get before going to bed to do it all over again. It has made me a Royally Unpleasant Person (capitalization to emphasize how very deserving I am of an official moniker). I don’t like myself much these days so I can’t imagine that others are terribly enamoured with me either.

Next week, however, I will receive the gifts of sleep and time. I move closer to work, substantially closer in fact. And it has become my light at the end of tunnel. I can sleep in a whopping one to one-and-a-half hours longer (!!!!!!). I can start work at a normal time and leave work at 5 and still be home at the same time I get home now leaving at 4 pm.  I get 2.5-3 hours of commuting time back to myself, part for sleep and part for fun. In my mind, this surely has to make me a better human again. It simply must. I imagine myself as I used to be: quite sociable when I want to, able to get through a work day without feeling as though it’s all for naught, and maybe, just maybe, being able to stay up past 9 pm on a weekday. I imagine it to be glorious, and imagine myself as a ball of bright sunshine instead of the angry, brooding dark cloud of bitterness that I am these days. Dear God, people might actually want to spend time with me again!

Here’s the thing: wherever you go, there you are. So what if my commute and lack of sleep aren’t the real issues here?  I’ve blamed my work malaise and general lack of sociability on a crippling combo of exhaustion and commuter rage. But what if it’s the other way around? What if the job and the lack of sociability are the cause of the exhaustion and commuter rage? What then? It’s been a nagging little voice in the back of my head for weeks, one that I’ve been trying to sweep under the rug with reassuring thoughts that it just has to be better. Deep down, that little voice is still there. I haven’t silenced it and I am not convinced its voice shouldn’t be heard. I’ve been holding out hope that I’ll be a brand new, shiny me next Monday morning. But what if…whatever you go, there you are?

TWIR #77: if it’s not one thing, it’s another

I can’t tell if my SI is actually better this week or if it’s just been overshadowed by a really, really annoying neck issue that cropped up after my personal training session. Either way, I’m left wondering if my body has just reached the age at which it is going to experience constant problems like this. I feel too young for that so my preference is to believe that I’ve just been cursed with a body that doesn’t want to get back into alignment this year. With that upbeat preface out of the way, let’s see what this week’s workouts had to offer.

Saturday
Activity: hike(ish)
Relevant Stats: 4.4 km return
Observations: My SI was killing me all morning and I had no idea whether a short and steep hike would help or hinder the situation. It turns out that it helped my SI, but did not help my productivity. I had been a packing machine all morning before I left, but upon returning home was able to accomplish nothing other than eating chips and watching This is Us (by the way, totally don’t get what all the fuss is about on that one…).

Sunday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Still afraid to visit my local gym, I opted for an at-home strength workout. While some may say that can’t be a good workout, I assure you it can be. I don’t even have any heavy weights at home but I find that increasing reps per set and the number of sets leads to just as effective a workout as at the gym. Bonus of at-home workouts: watching Definitely, Maybe in the background. Who doesn’t love a cheesy Ryan Reynolds movie?

Monday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: unknown time
Observations: Sometimes I think “I’ll remember how long I worked out for by the time I write my post at the end of the week”, and then I realize that I give my memory way too much credit. I do not remember. I am not even 100% sure that I was on the spin bike, but I know I didn’t run and I know I didn’t do strength training three days in a row, so by process of elimination I am left to deduce that I spun.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: This was the beginning and the end for my neck. I don’t know whether the culprit was multiple sets of negative pull ups after weeks, maybe even months, of not doing them, or whether it was the stress of trying to keep my hands and legs in sync while doing backwards bear crawls. Let’s be honest: in any given training session there are a plethora of exercises for which my feeble body might try to overcompensate with random muscles, yes even including neck muscles. The only good thing about this week’s session was that I did not have to tow any weights behind me.

Wednesday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: avoided all snow in Edmonton
Observations: I had to take a quick trip to Edmonton for work, and not packing gym gear made for my smallest carryon bag yet. Even I was impressed! But that’s not the point. The point is that it snowed on Monday and was set to snow Wednesday evening, and I somehow perfectly timed my trip between winter conditions. I actually like snow, but I stand firmly in the camp of September being TOO SOON for it.

Thursday
Activity: spin
Relevant Stats: 35 min.
Observations: This was not a good workout. My legs and lungs had nothing to give. Maybe it was the fact that I woke up at 4:41 and had trouble falling back asleep. Maybe it was the wine on Wednesday night. Maybe it was just my general state of crabbiness and malaise. Whatever the cause, I did not enjoy the experience and couldn’t wait to get off the damn bike, thus only spinning for 35 minutes. Am I great at making excuses for my lack of exercise motivation or what?

Friday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Good God, pushing that prowler will be the death of me. I couldn’t find any 35 lb weights to put on the prowler today, so I went with the 45 lb weights. Let’s just say that trying to run with 90 lbs loaded onto a prowler is harder than I thought it would be.  These legs are gonna hurt tomorrow. All in all, though, today’s workout was an outstanding rebound from yesterday. I’m finding, once again, that my strength workouts are great lately while my cardio workouts are abysmal, which probably means I really should be focused more on rebuilding my cardio fitness. But I likely won’t, because who really likes doing what they “should” be doing.

That’s another week of workouts under my belt and a weekend of packing to look forward to. Yes, that was sarcasm. Happy weekend, and here’s hoping that I don’t somehow injure another part of my body attempting to push boxes of heavy kitchen gadgets out of the way. Seriously, I have a lot of kitchen gadgets and they are hella heavy.

Mid-Week Tangent: over-analyzing Wheel of Fortune

Have you ever discovered that you have a completely useless skill set for everyday life? I have. I am outstanding at hangman. I see words quickly. My mind can fill the space between letters at the speed of light.  How did I discover this? I am embarrassed to admit it’s because I’ve been watching Wheel of Fortune, regularly and (gasp!) on purpose. I am good at it. Like, I am really, really good at it.  And that’s despite the fact that they barely show the damn puzzle screen to at-home viewers. I mean, seriously Wheel of Fortune, can you just implement a screen in screen so I don’t have to wait for minutes on end while you pan over to Pat Sajak making awkward small talk with contestants? Is that too much to ask?  If you think my rage is in jest, I assure you it is not. I take this seriously.

I’m convinced that I would walk away a wealthy lady if I were to compete on Wheel of Fortune. Actually, let me make a correction: I would walk away a wealthy lady IF, and this is a big if, I could keep my largely uncontrollable facial responses in check during any and all of the following:  a) Pat Sajak’s inane jokes and slightly lascivious manner with female guests b) the wheel’s wrath (i.e. its tendency to stop on ‘bankrupt’ just as you’re getting greedy by wanting one more spin) and c) not getting my way.

I actually believe that one’s ability to successfully garner a spot on this game show is only partly based on her word wizardry. The bigger part, I’m sure, is the ability to be a good sport, to clap when the person next to you solves the puzzle that you essentially solved for them if only you hadn’t gotten greedy and decided to take one more spin.  I watch contestants closely…mostly because I’m forced to when they pan away from the puzzle board to here about Jean’s three brilliant children and supportive husband. Ugh. Seriously. Okay, moving on. As I was saying, I watch the contestants.  They smile when they hit bankrupt. They say “way to go” when someone else solves the puzzle. They look like they’re about to say “aw shucks” when they call out a letter that isn’t there.

Are they robots? Are they simpletons? There is money on the line here, people! I would be a seething ball of rage when Jean from Wisconsin solves the puzzle after I spent minutes carefully filling in all the critical letters. I am rarely the bigger person in any situation, but when money’s on the line I’m certain I would lose it. I’d drop an F bomb, serve some serious stink eye, throw near temper tantrums, and I sure as hell wouldn’t clap for my fellow contestants. This is why I’d never get onto the show in the first place, and why I will also never win 80 grand for thirty minutes of hard work despite my knack for solving puzzles.

It is a bitter pill to swallow, realizing that you have a skill whose only chance to earn you cash is on a game show for which you lack the other required skills. Maybe one day I will find my inner zen and you’ll see me up there dazzling even Pat, rarely impressed after 30 years of hosting the Wheel, and winning every cash and trip prize in view.  You just better hope that I don’t win a Ford Focus on the final puzzle, because even the zen version of me can’t handle that kind of slap in the face.

Monday Musings: on having what started as a running blog when you can’t run

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how this blog was created to write about training for an ultra, and yet these days it has nothing to do running let alone ultra training Instead, I write a mish-mash of anything and everything that comes to mind.  That’s not necessarily problematic, except for, you know, the name of the blog and all, which is a daily reminder of the fact that a) my blog’s name doesn’t at all reflect its content and b) maybe it never will again.

Did you see how I snuck that in there? That was my sad sack moment. I’ve started to question whether I will ever be a real runner again. At times, my body seems fiercely committed to SI instability, perhaps as a highly effective avoidance technique. I don’t even really like running, after all, but I equally dislike not being able to do things when it’s not my choice not to do them. Regardless of the reason for my prolonged injury and its impact on my running habits, what seems clear to me is that having a blog about training for an ultra when one can no longer run at all is a major contradiction.

This leads me to a series of hard-to-answer questions, such as:

–Do I change the name of the blog? Or is that giving up hope that I might never run again?

–Do I continue on as is? Is that my way of sending the universe a small sign that I’m committed to getting back to running so that the universe might then return my ability to run?

–Do I even fundamentally believe the universe works that way?

–If I were to change the name of the blog, what would I even change it to? It’s not like I have a clear topical narrative that screams out a new potential name, unless I were to call the blog “Mish-Mash of anything and everything that comes to mind”. That would be perfectly fitting, but not at all catchy.

–Does anyone even care what the name of the blog is when I have such a small followership (totally not a word but I’m using it anyway)? This is the most existential of questions, and I cannot help but be reminded of the “if the tree falls in the woods…” comparison.

I clearly have more questions than answers. I also realize that I’m still wrestling with more than just the blog name itself. The real issue is my concern that I will never be a runner again. The good (and bad) thing about this little writing space is that it forces me to come face to face with these larger issues surrounding my injury. After a year and a half of dealing with this injury, I am still shocked when I am surprised by the realization that a seemingly cosmetic issue, like the name of my blog, is in fact not a cosmetic issue at all, but rather something far deeper.

And so I will continue wrestling with these questions in hopes of finding peace of mind. As I do so, maybe this blog name will change or maybe it will stay the same.  In the meantime, I welcome any suggestions on alternative titles because, as it turns, not anyone can run an ultra.