The Pressure of Success

I’m getting back into running slowly but surely. I’ve got a big stage race this weekend which will have me running 43 miles on my favorite trails over 3 days. I’m really not well trained and I don’t have the base I used to have as I slacked off SO MUCH since November, but I’ll survive and I’m looking forward to the confidence boost it will give me as I start to ramp up even more for my race in September.

But it’s hard. And you know why it’s hard? Because so many people celebrated my success with me before. So many people cheered me along as I got stronger and ran longer distances and beat PRs and conquered goals that I never even knew existed. Friends and family liked all of my race reports and congratulated me whenever I bragged on another hurdle jumped. I HAD SUCCEEDED and I had done it in front of an audience of people who I loved.

And then I faltered and my running faded and there were no more successes to boast about or goals to check off a list. And just in case no one noticed me missing at long runs and races, or maybe they just thought I was training privately instead of publicly – I put on 27lbs to act as proof that I had stopped training at the level previously. So now when those people who cheered me on see me, there’s no question where I’ve been…I’ve been medicating my depression and anxiety with donuts and beer while everyone pushed forward.

A friend of my recently discussed the pressure of being the “Fitness Story” – she too is struggling to get back what she had lost. You use those accolades, “Look at you! I can’t believe you went from Point A to Point B! You’re amazing!” to power you through continued success, but then you misstep. And the shame you feel over disappointing all of those people (Yes, we all know the disappointment is internal, but it feels external.) makes it really hard to get back up after that first stumble. And the next thing you know, you weigh more than you did when you started the journey back in 2009.

I always tell the story, “After my Dad died I weighed more than I ever had not pregnant…” and I discuss joining boot camp and getting fit which made me want to try running again and so one and so forth and look! I’m 20lbs lighter and I just ran a 100K!

That’s my story. But when I finally started trying to get back on track a few weeks ago,I was 10lbs heaver than I was at the beginning of that story. And while I’m chipping away at that slowly, I’m still heavier than I was when I started getting fit in 2010. And it’s hard to push every day when you’re realizing you’re starting further back than you were the last time. It’s like going to run a marathon – which you’ve run before and it wasn’t easy – only to find out at the start line that it’s actually a 50K.

But that marathon was so hard! And now I have run even further?!

But I trying to push past all of that. I’m trying to not compare this journey to the last one. I’m trying to recognize this as an entirely different journey with entirely different hurdles. I’m trying to look at past successes as proof I can do it, not reminders that I failed. I’m trying to separate the two journeys so that I can celebrate the past successes and then celebrate any future successes without connecting them with some months of missteps.

Because I need to allow myself missteps and not let them dissolve my successes. I have much to be proud of. Hell…the last couple months have been really hard mentally and I’m not out of the woods by any means…So while I’m not crossing finish lines, I’m fighting demons and those are more important battles to win than any medal from any race…no matter what the distance.

I mean, it’s like my brother’s #storypin says, The Journey Is The Reward.

The Downside Of Commenting On Weightloss

I’ve long said that I have this weird debate that happens inside of my head when I notice someone has lost weight. On one hand, I don’t like commenting on it because it implies the person looks better and 100% of the time I think they’re as beautiful without the weight as they are with it. On the other hand, if they’re working hard to lose the weight, then they may appreciate me recognizing it.

I usually don’t say anything, honestly. If I know they’ve been running a lot I find a relatable compliment to recognize THAT hard work, like “You’ve gotten so fast!” or “You’re not even huffing and puffing!” So that I notice their efforts without accidentally implying their previous body was less attractive.

This week two things happened and I realized why I’ll probably never offer unsolicited comments on someone’s weight loss (specifically) again. First? Someone on twitter mentioned that when her depression was the worst, she wouldn’t eat and people always complimented her weightloss and it felt weird because it was almost like they were happy she was depressed. Since I stress-eat I had never thought of that, so I considered that I shouldn’t mention someone’s weightloss unless I know it’s part of a healthy journey and not a side-effect of something difficult.

The second thing is that I was talking to my friend about weight gain and how these bodies we’re working to get lean again (we both are working towards the same race in the Fall) don’t bother us really as they are. But the weight gain has still depressed us and it hit me: I’m hung up on it because people comment on my weight when I’ve lost it, so I assume everyone notices when I’ve gained it and that they just aren’t saying anything.

I mean, we tell ourselves People aren’t as hard on us as we are on ourselves but what if people commented on my weight loss when I was training? This was my last “Race Day Body” – my 110K body in January 2016. As I was training I had tons of people compliment my weight loss and I loved it because I was working hard and it meant it was showing. And that body served me well on that race day and it was much easier to run with than this body now. That body weight – 133lbs – is my general race-day target whenever I’m training for something big because it’s easier on my legs and it’s a lighter body to run in.

This is my body now. I took this my first run at the YMCA last week and was trying to practice some self care because I was proud of myself. And I still am. I’ve been on track with eating and running for two weeks now and I can feel it all starting to feel right again. I did a hill workout this week. I ran 3 back-to-back double-digit days. I am feeling optimistic that training is ramping up and all is well. I’m feeling leaner already. But this body is very hard to run in. It was 159lbs the day I started back training, and I haven’t stepped on the scale since. I don’t really want to because I am having such a hard time with the weight I’ve gained, I don’t want to give those numbers more power.

But it’s hard not to remember all of the people who complimented the weight loss before, and to think: So they probably notice they gain, too. Right? And then I get depressed. And it’s dumb and illogical and I’m in a good place talking myself back from that self-criticism, but it’s there.

So I think I’ll focus on different ways to compliment people if I notice they’ve lost weight. If I know they’ve been working out or running maybe we’ll focus on that. If I don’t, then maybe I’ll try to think of some other way to compliment their hard work if they’ve been trying to get healthy – but if I don’t know anything at all? If I’m not close enough to them to know if this is a journey the’ve been on? I’m not going to offer my comments because it’s none of my business, really.

But most of all? I’m going to tell my friends they’re beautiful more often for no reason. Because I am surrounded by beautiful women in my work life, my family life, and in my friend circle. I mean – BEAUTIFUL – women full of life and love and kindness and joy and I want to make sure if I’m handing out compliments, they’ll stand the test of time no matter how much this beautiful person weighs.

Ouch.

So, I did survive the DizzyMonkey. I crossed both finish lines in decent condition. But since I was woefully undertrained and since I might have made a bad sock decision, I have feet that look like ground beef they are so beat up and I can’t walk very well and also my stomach is screaming at me, “WHAT IS WITH ALL OF THE WEIRD STUFF YOU PUT IN YOUR BODY THIS WEEKEND?”

Sometimes during a race something looks really delicious. Like a peanut butter bagel. Or a handful of peanut butter pretzels. Or vanilla oreos. Or sugar wafers. Or donut holes. Or…

You get the point.

You eat things you don’t normally eat because something inside of you sees it and say: THAT! I MUST HAVE THAT IN MY BODY RIGHT NOW!

And none of it fought me in the moment or during the races (Thank God) – I think your body kinda makes you eat what it wants: Sugar, Salts, Fats etc. But this morning? My tummy is all sorts of…UGGGGGG…

I did draw the link at the shots of whiskey though.

Yes. There were opportunities to do shots of whiskey. I will not tell when or where…but it was offered and some people I knew took advantage. I decided that since I hadn’t done a shot of whiskey since I was – like 23? I should probably refrain during a weekend of ultra running.

I’m sticking around the house this morning and going into work late to try to maybe sleep a little but mostly to let my stomach settle down a bit. Also hoping to spend some time with the kids since I didn’t see them at all this weekend. I’m glad this week is Thanksgiving. I don’t know if I could pull off a full work-week after a weekend like this.

Thanks again for cheering me on. It was truly a great weekend where I proved I always have more potential then I believe I have.

Maybe the giant celebratory beer last night wasn't the best thing to put on my stomach either...

Maybe the giant celebratory beer last night wasn’t the best thing to put on my stomach either…

Woefully.

My friends and I often say we are “woefully” undertrained for things we still show up to do. And so I feel like maybe the word has become cute and I need you to understand that this weekend: IT IS ANYTHING BUT.

I have run about 30 miles in the last 3’ish weeks.

Which could be just considered a long taper if my training had been GREAT up until then.

It had not.

It had been decent at best…severely lacking at most.

Why is all of this relevant?

BECAUSE I HAVE TO RUN 57.2 MILES THIS WEEKEND.

31 today.

26.2 tomorrow.

LUCKILY. I have a bunch of crazy friends doing it too and we are all at varying levels of “trained”. My friend Chelsea is probably close to where I am (she’s running on Sunday) except she’s had serious injury and illness as her excuse. I JUST CAN NOT GET MY SHIT TOGETHER.

Should be fun.

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A For A Different Kind Of Therapy…(SHOT!)

11182720_10153748071728496_3882568604493266364_oToday is the start of THE third as well as MY third Grand Viduta Stage Race. My friends Chelsea and Colleen have also both done it every year and our goal is to be the first (maybe only if our plan to knock out the other contenders works) (just kidding) to the 10-year jacket. And if there is NOT a 10-year jacket we will make them ourselves. WE LOVE THIS RACE, is what I’m saying.

Three days of running all over our mountain. Huntsville has more than one mountain, but this one (Monte Sano) has two different groups managing areas – the state park and the land trust – so there’s the biggest collection of trails and therefore the mountain we run on the most. Most of these trails we know mostly in ONE direction (because of how they are run for whatever race we are training for) but this race does a great job of making us go the OTHER direction on most of them. Running the opposite direction on a road doesn’t disorient you but running the opposite direction on the trail? You’ll be like, “WHERE IN THE HELL AM I?” because everything looks different.

It’s also currently very green and everything also looks different for that reason. Of course, this is also why this will be my last long trail run until October. I don’t like the green stuff. It usually contains poison ivy (of which I’m highly allergic) and snakes (of which I’m deathly afraid if they’re poisonous). This is like the party at the end of the school year, the last time we’ll all be together in one place until Fall.

Because it’s three exhausting days, I have opted to always just try to have fun and not stress about PRs or time goals. It’s nice to have a group because you can kinda hold each other up when one of you is feeling down and – luckily – we tend to alternate those moments. Until the last day when we’re all just delirious and tired and taking selfies with Powerbars at the aid stations. It’s so fun.

I was telling Colleen Wednesday night, this weekend I have two cups. One representing my physical energy and one representing my emotional energy. This weekend as I drain the one representing my physical energy, I’ll be refilling the one representing my emotional energy. Three mornings in a row of seeing the faces of some of my favorite people first thing, running through the woods with my friends, soaking up the energy of Spring and playing in the mud.

See you on the other side!