Race Schedule

2018 Races…TBD!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back, But Mostly Looking Ahead

This time last year, I was closing things out with 2,140.6 running miles and 403 hours.  This year, I didn't have a particular goal in mind, other than shooting for averaging 200 miles per month for as long as I could.  I somehow managed to do that for 9 months this year.  Booya.

Soooooo, the final numbers are…2,227.8 running miles and 403 hours, highest yearly mileage to date.  Same amount of time, but 82.5 miles more?  Hmmmm, definitely did not think I ran faster this year, but I suppose I did after all :)

I like to keep track of these numbers here so that I can look back and remember that I wasn't as lazy as I managed to feel.  We barely raced this year (relatively speaking), but I stayed very focused on maintaining fitness and getting out to run most days, especially once school started up.  I'll pat myself on the back for that.

Looking ahead to this coming year…I can't believe tomorrow is a new year…I am changing my running focus.

I'm laying down the gauntlet.

Rather than focusing on distance I am going to focus on speed.  With school taking up as much time as it does, and then clinical rotations beginning late spring, I'm not going to dedicate the kind of time I'd like to dedicate to training for long distance.  BUT, I can certainly handle short distance and speed work.  I'm setting my sights on the half marathon distance.  The prospect of training for a short race has me positively giddy!  I've only ever run one half marathon race, back in 2008 (right before running my first 50k), arriving at the finish line in around 2:01.  Then I PR'd the distance in 1:46 while running my PR marathon (3:39) back in 2011.

I can do better than that.  And I will.

I'm setting my sights on a 1:35 half marathon.  I have written down a list of possible races, and once I decide on one I will post it here for accountability.  That's the only way my goals become reality.  Accountability.

While discussing it with Geof during dinner last night, he threw down.  "You can run faster than that; shoot for 1:30!"  I think I originally proposed 1:40, which would, in retrospect, be a garbage and easily attainable goal (too easy).  I bargained, and we agreed on 1:35.  It's just enough outside of my comfort zone without being anxiety-inducing :)  It'll hurt just enough to let me know I'm doing something, but not so much that I hate it.

Always set goals just a teensy bit outside your capabilities; those are the goals that make you work and push you to new limits.

I love this!!  I've been feeling pretty meh about running lately and I came up with this idea during yesterday's run.  I'm a person who needs a focus, a goal.  I know this about myself.  If I let myself go too long without a focus I begin to drift and then it's really hard to get back on track.  So the powers that be threw me a lifeline and offered up this idea.  I began doing fartleks halfway through my short run yesterday, feeling the drive and excitement creeping in as my idea grew upon itself.

I love goals!

In an effort not to overwhelm myself, that is the only solid racing goal I will be setting at this point.  I figure it's good enough for now.  We have other plans that will hopefully fill the year up... :)

Ahhhhh, that feels good to write (i.e. type) down.  Now I just need to formulate a training plan…

I hope you all have a fabulous last day of 2013, and all the best to you in 2014!

Happy New Year!

Paige, out.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Genius Of It All

I actually hesitated before posting this for the first time in my five years of blogging.  That's how I know I needed to post this.

Years are funny things.  They happen no matter what you do (e.g. I've been blogging for five years??  When did that happen?!).  Time moves by you sometimes in an instant, and other times it crawls at a crippling pace.  Sometimes we can move in stride with our time and other times we feel as though we have stumbled, tumbled, fumbled and fought to just brush our fingertips against it.

This last year has been about a lot of things, but the first half was mostly about getting into my program.  And the second half was mostly about staying afloat.  When this first semester ended I could literally and figuratively take a step back and examine the new ground gained in the battle, in addition to the wreckage left behind.  Sorry, that was a little dramatic :)  In the last year I have transformed into a new version of myself.  The vigor and hard work that I put into my running the last few years has been transplanted into my education.  My running is but a whisper of its former self, but I feel that I am better for it.  This blog is but a whisper of its former self as well :)  And for that, I apologize.  It weighs on me, but I know that this is a temporary lifestyle.  One year left and then I will begin the transformation into the next phase…re-entering the working world, and being the person I've wanted so badly to be.  It's going to fly by.  

Looking back on the last year, it has been rather exciting and profoundly satisfying in an extremely appropriate way.  Appropriate because it is exactly what I was hoping for and working towards.  While we didn't get out and race as much as we would have liked, the races we did run went very well and we enjoyed each experience.  Speedgoat 50k was hands down my most favorite of the lot because I was able to parlay hard work into a satisfying outcome, and I hope to head back there again in 2014.  Antelope Island will hopefully be in the cards again, as well as BoSho trail marathon and perhaps a few other shorter races.  I'll be scaling back considerably on the expectations for racing in 2014.  Once clinical rotations begin, I will be at the whim of that schedule and won't be able to manage much outside of that.  And that is okay with me.  It's just another 12 months.  I can do anything for 12 months :)  Plus, the end-goal achievement far outweighs the small sacrifices along the way (i.e. racing, bits of sanity, a proper diet, sleeping in, a restrictive budget) and I look forward to that day next December.  However, there is a whole lot of living to be had before then.

This post is going to take a slightly different route than initially intended.  I thought it was going to be about the last year and hopes for next year.  Sometimes free-form writing just does that…has a life of its own.  It has to do with disappointment, success, and perceived failure.

I think that I probably am viewed in a slightly inaccurate light by those that don't know me well.  I have a pretty good idea how others see me and I just want to take this opportunity to let you in on a secret: I have had many a failure and many a disappointment in my life, in addition to the successes.  

I was rejected by not one but two PTA programs before landing a spot in the program of my dreams.  Those were blessings in disguise.  Good luck telling me that back then, though.  I felt crushed and like a total schmuck.  I was downright embarrassed.  Am I not good enough? what did I do wrong? what could I have done differently? whywhywhy??  If I had gotten into either of those programs I would have been just fine, life would have worked out fine.  But then I wouldn't be where I am and who I am today.  It took another year and a half before I would finally land squarely on my feet (or my bum, as it were), sitting at our desk in the second bedroom of our new home in our new city, clicking on an e-mail typed in the most beautiful font I'd ever seen: the font of acceptance.  I felt redeemed, astonishingly grateful, emotional, and completely at a loss of words.  I squealed like a child, in an unearthly pitch that I didn't know I was capable of.  I did it!  It was a difficult process, but my hard work paid off, finally.  Five years of hard work to get to that moment, opening that type-written letter.  I'm seriously considering framing the official hard-copy letter I received a day later.  It was such a hard battle, and so seriously rewarding.

I was told by my 9th grade honors English teacher, in front of the entire class, that I was a 'bad writer' (her words, not mine), that my only saving grace was that I could come up with "really killer titles", and that was it.  I was a painfully shy kid.  That could have crushed me.  And it sort of did.  That comment followed me all the way into college when I finally had an instructor who convinced me I had a knack for the written word.  It was my middle eastern politics professor…she wanted to frame a paper I had written on Bosnia.  I took that as a compliment.  But that 9th grade teacher let something out of me that I didn't know was in me.  I was on a mission to prove her wrong, and while she will never know she was wrong, I know she was wrong and I'm better for it.  If only math instructors could have done the same thing for my lacking in the numbers world ;)  

I was once a radio DJ.  Did you know that?  I was, for five years.  Two and a half in Central Illinois, and another two and a half in Eastern North Carolina.  I was navigating the choppy and unsure waters of media fairly well and had my own midday show on a hard rock station, in addition to a gazillion other job titles within the radio group of six stations.  

I had never actually hyperventilated before.

One early spring day, when I was told that I was losing my time slot to an unsavory duo threatening to leave if they didn't get what they wanted, and that I would be pushed to nights, I accepted the news as diplomatically as I could muster.  I'm talking the whole nine yards: smiling, good posture, head-nodding, lots of "I understand"s and "thank you"s, blah blah blah.  I'm talking Oscar-worthy performance.  I then walked calmly outside and around to the back of the building which butted up against a grove of tall evergreens and a busy road.  I steadied myself with both hands against the concrete wall, and then I unraveled.  I was hyperventilating.  I didn't know that that was what was happening at first; it was slightly terrifying.  I crouched down, hands on knees, and I sobbed between gasps of air.  Holy s***, what just happened?  I felt like a complete failure, and a complete idiot.  Thankfully, I was alone out there and was able to feel the full force of the emotions rolling in like waves rather than trying to muffle them.  Maybe 10 minutes passed and then I gathered myself, went back inside and finished recording the commercials I was voicing for production.  Two weeks later I received a phone call in the on-air booth that completely changed the course of my life, and I suddenly knew the reason for things.  Everything happens for a reason, it just takes some time for the reasons to shake out and present themselves to you. But always trust that things happen for a reason and that everything will work out.

Four weeks later, I was packing up a moving truck with my mom, preparing to make the 21-hour drive to Chicago to begin my new job at a radio station I had interned at during college.  While creating a new position in the station, the General Manager remembered me and my work during my intern days and somehow managed to find me way out in NC.  I was offered the job and the rest is history.  

Obviously, I am not in radio anymore, and that's a whole 'nother story of disappointment followed by another phoenix-rising-out-of-ashes type thing.  Like I said, things always manage to work out.  Life is definitely like a choose-your-own-adventure book.  When you get to the bottom of a page, or end of a section, you are directed to choose between two options, each sending you off in different, unexpected directions.  If you were to trace the course of my life, for example, it would in no way represent a straight line.  It would look more like a tree, with a definitive beginning (the trunk) topped by layer upon layer of branches branching into new branches into new branches into new branches, going in all directions.

There are plenty of examples I could continue on with here, but I think you get the point.  I think I put off the vibe of being charmed or 'lucky', when in reality we are all one in the same.  I've worked my butt off to get to where I'm at; few things have ever just landed in my lap.  I've put in the time and the sweat and some things have paid off.  Sometimes things didn't pay off as I had hoped, but ultimately even those 'failures' have helped to pave the way.  I am who I am because of where I have been.  I regret not a single experience I have had because every experience I have had has gotten me to where I am now.

"Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together." ~Marilyn Monroe

The PTA program I am in is the hardest thing I have ever done.  A lot of the last four months is  a blur as a result of the tunnel vision I had to have in order to do well.  I've honestly never worked so hard in my life.  I'm guessing I made it look easy judging by comments from peers, but trust me, it has been anything but.  Not everyone fared so well and as a result we will be short a few of my classmates next semester.  I do not know if they read this, but I want them to know that while it feels like crap and really, really sucks, everything happens for a reason.  Just give it a little time and the reason will become apparent.  Then pick yourself up and do the thing you know that needs to be done, whatever that may be.  

"Sometimes life is going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith." ~Steve Jobs

I know that if you truly feel you are on the path you want to be on then you will find a way to make it work.  And one day you'll look up and realize that it's been working all along.

Disappointment comes in all forms and creeps in at generally unexpected times.  The key is to not lose faith that things will work out.  Allow yourself to feel the weight of it, but then refocus and decide what needs to happen next.  It's the sucky times that allow us to fully appreciate the unbelievably awesome times.  Generally, we get out of life exactly what we put in.  Do good, do right, pick your path and eventually it will come to fruition.

Not everything works out exactly as you hoped it would, but that is the genius of it all.

We can't know exactly what to expect every time.  What fun is that?  So be open to the possibilities and be ready to run with it.  We can't possibly plan for everything, nor can we expect that everything will fall into place just as we had imagined it.  Not every trail is marked perfectly, in fact many are not marked at all.  It is in these times that you must trust your gut and take the path that feels most right.  Even if it means going off trail a bit, you will eventually find your way.

"You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life." ~Steve Jobs

So I think that that is enough reflection for a Christmas Eve day.  We had a really good run this morning and I'm hungry.  I made some wicked delish peppermint bark and I think I need to go make some of it disappear! :)

Paige, out.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Free Time, You Are Mine

Ahhhhhhhhhh (that's me exhaling deeply and happily).  I survived my first semester of PTA school (physical therapist assistant…not parent/teacher association :))!  I'm not gonna lie, it feels really good.  I remember being warned by no less than five PTAs, that graduated from the same program, that the first semester could possibly kill me.  One particular class, therapeutic modalities, would be the hardest class of my career.  That one particular instructor's exams could be the end of more than a few people.  I laughed these warnings off.  Until I was fully submerged in the hardest semester of my entire life.  And then I remembered their warnings.  PTA school ain't no joke, and it's not for the faint of heart.  Or the lazy.  I still can't believe everything we did and learned.  My brain aches.  But it's a glorious, smart ache.

So, yes, it feels so freaking good to have that semester behind me, and to have made it through so victoriously.  I just aimed to keep my head above water, not lose sight of the end-goal, and not forget how much I love running.  I gave myself permission to sleep in more and rest the body after finishing Rio Del Lago 100 the first weekend of November.  It was a little hard at first, and I felt a little guilty, but now I'm really glad I did.  I've just been running when I feel like it, and keeping it pretty short.  The inversion has settled in a tad early, so the pea soup air is an easy excuse to stay in.  BUT, I've got a little bit of a challenge going with myself…run every day of winter break.  We'll see.  I'm not totally married to it yet, but I did push myself out the door this morning in the 10 degree chill and the worst air quality I've seen so far.  But I only did a couple miles, and I had my nose and mouth covered :)  Then I did some serious netty potting when I got home.  (Yes, I boil the water first.)

Anywho, so I gave myself permission to ease back, and after reading THIS article yesterday afternoon I suddenly felt completely okay with it :)  Sometimes there are just bigger priorities than running.  These last 3-1/2 months were a true test of my ability to serial task, prioritize, manage my time down to the minute, and breathe.  Once our goal race passed, I had a month before finals, and for the first time I put others things, a lot of other things, before my running.  And it felt good.  They say not to worry about grades now, just to make sure we're passing, because it's a professional program and no longer a competition.  But I'm just not wired that way.  I'm going to work hard and do my best.  I'm also not going to lose myself over it.  So I balance.  I feel like I did a pretty good job of it most of the time…not always (Geof can attest :)), but a heck of a lot better than I ever used to balance things (which is to say, not at all).  I don't feel like I've lost myself, or forgotten what I love to do.  I feel like I've shifted focus to other important things…my husband, school, good health, sleep.  It's pretty sweet.

Mental proprioception :)

Ski season is fantastic already.  A lot of great storms up at Alta since November, and we got season passes this year…so the slopes and I are going to be very familiar with each other over the next four weeks!

Next semester is supposed to be "less insane", but I'm thinking it's just because we are so used to the insanity now that it won't seem so bad.  We'll see.  I'm not holding my breath ;)  I absolutely lovelovelove what I'm doing and feel so fortunate to be on the path that I am on.  It's pretty amazing, and I am grateful to Geof every single day for all of his support and overall greatness.  Boom!

We have a weekend of holiday happenings, and a delicious stew (and homemade bread!) that I finally had the time to create for dinner.  Oh sweet free time!

Paige, out.

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