Adventuring with Alia

Chronicles of a distance runner


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Back to the track

Anyone who read my last post knows that my 15k in Gate River wasn’t exactly up to my performance standards as an athlete.

My training in general was yo-yoing for whatever reason. I was frustrated. A little exasperated. I tortured myself by reminiscing on the splits that I was running in my fall segment of training. I briefly fell into what I call “post-breakup panic.”

Essentially, the familiar phenomenon that occurs when something in the present isn’t quite going as you had perfectly mapped out in your head, and you make some aspect of your past out to be better than it probably was…failing to acknowledge the pitfalls during that time, only seeing the good attributes somehow now enormously (and typically undeservingly) magnified.

You aren’t thinking rationally. All you know is that something in you wants to do anything to get it (him, her, etc.) back. This genre of panic often leads to some interesting choices.

We’ve all been there, or watch good friends go there.

Except in this case, I couldn’t sit by myself, get sloppy drunk on whiskey, and blubberingly hiccup myself through a phone call that I know I’d come to regret even through the thick liquor-induced haze.

That training cycle was gone. There was no getting it back.

The perfect training cycle

The Gate River race, and really the entire weekend, was a great wake-up call for me. I was training, but something wasn’t clicking.

I was out of the city setting, back to great trail running, a flexible work schedule, and nightly home-cooked meals. Not exactly what you call a charity case.

Essentially, it was time for me to pull up my big girl spandex and get back to work.

I had stupidly been waiting for perfect workouts, perfect training weeks, and was pissed that things weren’t snapping into place. I mentioned that I was missing my fall fitness, but I was failing to remember that that cycle hadn’t started so amazingly either. I had started in arguably the worst shape I’ve been in in years, post-Europe, aka post-five-week-love-affair-with-olive oil-and-sangria-and-occasional-running, at best.

Is there such thing as a perfect training cycle? Who the hell knows.

Swiftness of change

Coming out of Gate River, I wondered if it would even be a good idea to run at Stanford. The date was creeping closer, and I had felt so drastically under prepared for the 15k, that my competitive confidence wasn’t exactly soaring.

However, with a refreshed attitude, training started to turn around after Gate. I ran some workouts that surprised me, and left me actually excited to race, all within the span of a few short weeks.

I felt renewed.

Going into last week, someone astutely noted that perhaps my most significant change was that I had decided that I actually wanted to race that weekend at Stanford. So true.

I toed the line of the third heat, raced the 5k and pr’d by 26 seconds for a final time of 16:14.

The rest of the weekend was spent with my face hurting from smiling, feeling overwhelmed by the support and excitement around me, and humbled by how quickly things had taken a turn for the better.

Stanford 5k

Photo (and coaching) cred. to Mr. Gary Towne

I’m off to the SacTown 10 miler this coming Sunday. Yip!

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Return to racing and the day-to-day

I kicked off spring racing (and the first race after my marathon in December) with a 15k in Jacksonville, FL this past weekend. It attracted a ridiculously deep field, the deities of road racing yielded perfect weather, and I experienced possibly the most complete athlete-hospitality ever leading up to a race.

The elite women were ushered to the start area in front of an antsy crowd of other road-racers, and lined up for the equalizer timing.

The gun for the women’s start went off, and…meh.

Not my day. I’d by lying if I said that I wasn’t disappointed, but I ran a decent effort, and chalked it up to a good workout in the very least. It wasn’t what I had hoped for, but not every race can feel like rainbows and sunshine and fireworks.

…because that is, in fact, what the good ones feel like. Obviously.

On the bright side, I got to spend a weekend in Florida, meet a couple of gals that also run for SRA, and chat it up with other runners. The camaraderie was refreshing, and something that I often feel starved of in my solo training. Having the opportunity to connect with these other amazing elite runners was an amazing opportunity in itself, and inspiring to boot.

I’m turning my focus to getting in consistent work, listening to my body, and smoothing out some of the bumps that I’ve been encountering of late.

I want to keep evolving as a runner and overall athlete, and that requires patience and the ability to see yourself through the patches of training that aren’t so perfect.

I’m workin’ on it.

A New Old

On the “evolving” note, I’m adapting back to Santa Rosa, aka home.

Home is familiar.

Ok, duh Alia. That’s why it’s called home.

However, familiarity isn’t always synonymous to comfort. In my move home, I failed to recognize that the transition back is, in fact, still a transition. In a lot of ways it feels backward to be here, which in itself is something that I wrestling with.

Overall, I’m lucky to have the welcoming home situation that I do. My main quandary is striking a balance between accepting support without using it as a complete crutch.

As I figure life out in my own sporadic, chaotic way, I’ve been lucky to come across some work with a really rad lady by the name of Whitni Rader, who started pea.brain. She is a web designer goddess, works from her home in beautiful Petaluma, and wants my help! Whowouldathunk. I am soaking up whatever I can from her, and am excited to get moving on more projects.

She also makes really delicious stir-fry, and keeps me well caffeinated (new requirement of potential workplaces). What’s not to love?

Day by Day

A lot in my life right now is on a day-to-day basis. I’m not completely locked into a routine, for better or worse. On one hand, just thinking about the wrong kind of routine already feels suffocating. On the other, I’m still ironing out how to structure life myself. Work is helping, and will become more and more natural as time continues on.

Practice makes perfect, right?

Right.

Doing my best to embrace the transition, ride the bumps, and enjoy the day-to-day life that I’m in.