Thursday, December 31, 2015

Blogging 2015: Year in Review

I can't believe another year has gone by. If it weren't for the photostream on my phone I don't think I could remember anything that happened. What can I say? I had 3 kids and my brain is Swiss cheese.

I started this year with the lofty goal of running 2015 miles in 2015. I made around 1000 miles, which isn't too shabby. I'm not sorry I let that number go, as I ended up reaping major rewards by focusing on other areas of my fitness instead of just running, running, running all the time.

The year started out in Minneapolis with the Polar Dash 10K. It was a nice race, I'd do it again.

I fucking love this hat. I still wear it all the time.

This past winter was a freakishly cold one, but that didn't stop me from getting some outside miles.

Straight ninja, son.

Fantastic husband and I were able to get away on a cruise in February. Aside from some seasickness (for him, I don't get seasick) we had a great time. We got shitfaced on the beach, learned to surf, hiked the Pitons in St. Lucia, and swam naked in the ocean on St. Martin. It was pretty much awesome. We also got to trot out our matchy-match clothes for Valentine's Day.

So cute you could puke cartoon chipmunks.

I loved swimming naked in the ocean so much that I almost immediately booked a week in St. Martin for our 10th anniversary in May. Seven days in an apartment on the beach. Paddleboarding, hiking, kayaking, and skinny dipping in broad daylight. I can't wait.

In March we did the Point Bock Run, because we always do. I was a little slow, but I was on shift so that's not really a surprise. It was a nice day and we had fun. Might do this one again...even though I'm on shift this year, too.

I had a root beer, because alcohol + no sleep = coma.

I was on a yarn diet this year, which means I purchased no yarn and no tools. I joined a sock club at the end of 2014, so I got 6 skeins of yarn for that, but I knitted every single one of them into a pair of socks. I also made some epic shit with yarn I already had. I'm considering remaining on my diet through 2016 to knit up the remaining yarn in my stash. It's kind of fun to match projects with yarn. Like a scavenger hunt.

Why yes, I make my own socks.

I also finished this incredible shawl. It's a star chart of the Northern Hemisphere, with beads. It took almost 8 months to complete, but it is so beautiful. I'm as proud of this as I am of anything I've ever made.

The color is called TARDIS blue.

This year fantastic husband FINALLY agreed to join my cult...I mean CrossFit box. He's been resisting for 3 years, but finally caved. Mostly because the kids started doing CF kids and it's more cost effective to have a family membership. Whatever. 

He looks super happy, yeah?

We also went out to Utah in June to run Ragnar Wasatch Back. We only did one Ragnar this year because of some other planned racing in the fall, but it was pretty epic. Beautiful scenery and some of our favorite running people. Can't wait to see them again next October in Hawai'i!

Yay, medal!

I started growing out my hair this year in preparation for my 40th birthday hike in 2017. Sounds stupid, right? Well, my hair doesn't grow terribly fast and I want it good and long so I can tie it up in a knot and forget about it while we're walking across Scotland for a week. This was the first day I managed a ponytail. With like a million barrettes.


At the close of the school year, C managed to freakishly bruise his growth plate, so he was a tripod for a bit. Sucked for him to close out 4K that way, but he healed up just fine, no harm done.

He got pretty good on the crutches.

In May I locked down my diet and shed about 15 pounds. I've kept them off, and I'm proud of that. Here I am trying not to panic before heading to a wedding.

Fuck yeah, maxi skirt!

In July I had some sexy pictures taken. Ostensibly for my husband, but also for me. So I can look back when I'm old and decrepit and say "I used to be hot."

This one's my favorite. I love it.

I got back to a few things I used to do all the time this summer. Not as much as I would have liked, but I will, and this was a start.

Back on my motorcycle. Practicing in the parking lot.

Back in my kayak, on the East River.

In July I totaled my trusty Mazda.


So I got another one exactly like the old one and we took the kids on vacation to the Wisconsin Dells.

Paul Bunyan.

In August we went out to Oregon to run Hood to Coast. It was an experience.

Rain, rain, and more rain.

When we got back it was time for these weirdos to GO TO SCHOOL FULL TIME! FUCK YEAH! FREEDOM!!

Seriously, GTFO of my house.

I ran a couple of half marathons in September (totally half assed) and then in October we went to Pennsylvania to run 4 races in 3 days. It was pretty awesome.

So cute you could punch a bunny.

I also participated in a 30 day yoga challenge in October. Doing yoga 5 times a week completely reshaped my upper body. I am stronger and infinitely more flexible than before, and the challenge was the impetus for me to continue doing yoga 4-5 days a week since.

Tree pose. This photo was the first time I realized how much smaller
I am than before. Even at 160#

I discovered a deep love of striped leggings.

Fuckin' handstands.

I also started wearing shorts for running for the first time EVER. I decided that I don't give a shit who sees my bruises, spider veins, and cellulite. If the weather is fine, I'm in my lulu shorts and I look great.

And tall socks. All the tall socks.

My hair has been growing out for damn near a year and it was making me so bored I wanted to chop it all off. But I can't do that because I need a goddamn ponytail 18 months from now. So instead I got a little more vivid.

Crayola red. Much less dull.

I realized finally that the reason my squats are so shitty is that my glutes are lazy. I hauled out my bar and started adding weighted hip thrusts to my routine. In my fabulous home gym. Sigh.

This is why we can't have nice things.

This November I finally got the tattoo I've been designing in my head for the past 2 years. Now that it's finally healed I'm planning what will go on my left quadriceps. I'm thinking either a Darwinian tree of life, or the chemical formulae for carbon, hydrogen, oxygen etc and the words "I am made of star stuff". We'll see.

Fuck yeah medicinal plants.

So this year has been up and down, but mostly up as most years are. I learned a lot about myself. I got better at a lot of things...and realized I could be better still. That's what 2016 will be about. Incremental self improvement. This photo is me closing out the year in the salt mine. Another year older, another year wiser, another year better. People mourn the loss of their youth, but I don't. I feel like I've never been in a better place. So many amazing things are coming in the next few years. Goals, travel, exciting new experiences. I'm looking forward to watching it unfold.

38 years old. 10pm. No filters.
Suck it, Father Time.

I hope 2015 was good to you, and when 2016 dawns that you're ready to receive it with an open mind and heart. Fuck yeah, shiny New Year!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blogging 2015: 940 down, 1075 to go

So it's clear that I'm not making the 2015 in 2015, but overall I didn't do too badly. Considering that I barely ran this fall except to race, that is. I've only recently started running with any kind of regularity, and only casually (three times a week-ish). I've had a couple of email exchanges with my running coach and he assures me I'll have my training plan in my hot little hands this week. Good. I've already planned out my yoga schedule for January, and I can wrap my running schedule around it and then poke in some CrossFit.

I've been doing a decent job keeping my fitness level high. I've not been as strict with my diet as I had been previously so I'm up about 2 pounds from my lowest, which is okay. I love a shiny New Year for refocusing on goals. I'll be a good kid this week (for the most part) and then I'll get after 2016 with laser-like focus. Or not, because I'm basically a sloth. That's why I engaged a running coach. I'll do what people tell me to do, I just can't motivate myself.

My basement bar has been getting some use lately. By that I mean my Oly bar and plates. I've been doing my weighted hip thrusts at Kim's behest (working up to 135#, I'm at 125# right now). Overnights last week were pretty dull so I also got in a bunch of Bulgarian split squats and walking lunges. Sitting has been ouchy, but at least moving around keeps me awake when the orders aren't coming in.

Currently I'm participating in the "12daysofxmas" yoga challenge at Jenstar. One pose every day posted to instagram. Here's what I've done so far.

Downward facing dog, child's pose, low plank.

Wheel, crow, boat, warrior 2.

The crow picture was a third attempt, and I needed an assist into wheel. I need to work on my shoulder and wrist mobility in the coming year. I have the strength to do wheel, but I lack some flexibility. It's funny, I always think about flexibility as being a legs/hips thing, but a lot of it is really your back and shoulders as well. I'm a lot bendier than I was a year or two ago, but I there are always improvements to be made. Flexibility is good. Nothing wrong with being limber. So many things to be better at, and nothing but time.

Yesterday I drank a great deal of wine and made cookies with the smalls.

Final stage. Sugar every-fucking-where.

I didn't drink entirely alone. A friend came by for a puppy party and she helped a bit. The kids had early Giftmas with their Aunt and were safely tucked into bed at 8pm. I was not far behind them. I haven't been hungover in ages, since I barely drink anymore. I wasn't exactly hungover this morning, but I definitely felt the after effects of the wine. No workout yesterday because kids/cookies and none today...felt too blah. I'll be back at the box for the five-one-five in the morning, though. Yoga at 1030 and more hip thrusts and split squats later on. Possibly a couple miles, too, but I have a lot of other shit to do. We'll see.

Favorite gift? Toothbrushes. I can't even.

Tonight we went to the Garden of Lights. The kids seemed to like it, when they weren't whining about being hungry (after having a sizeable dinner less than 45 minutes previous). 


You may recall that I had a Mirena placed in April (or not, it's not like you've memorized the life and times of my fucking uterus...and if you have, don't tell me, because that's weird as hell) in hopes that it would keep my internal organs from trying to kill me.  Well, it did not have the desired effect. I won't say it's been a nightmare, because that isn't true. It's been more like a really annoying dream. You know, one of those dreams that you have over and over and you wake up out of it thinking "What the fuck was that?" but you can't put your finger on what was so weird about the dream? No? Just me then?  Whatever.

So at the moment my uterus is pretty pissed off. She is annoyed as hell with the little plastic intruder and is making me pay for it. 

WTF is this thing? I don't like it.

My uterus has really gotten her mascara game together in the last 8 months. Kinda shit with the eyeliner, though.

So after waiting the suggested 6 months for shit to "even out" I basically called my Gyn and said "This is some horseshit. Yank this motherfucker and ablate. ABLATE ABLATE!"  My Gyn responded "No prob, how's 1/19? We'll burn some shit down." because he's cool like that.  Also I may have threatened to damage his home. 

So what's an ablation? Basically they jam a lightsabre up your cooch and burn out your endometrium.  

Lightsabre. Green, 'cause it's pretty.

Well, not really. It's a radiofrequency ablation, not an electrical ablation, but you get the idea.

Seriously. fucking die.

And then I go back to living life extra-hormone-and-chainsaw-massacre free. Hopefully. This shit is supposed to last 10ish years. I really hope that's the case. I'm so done right now. Apparently my doc likes to narc the shit out of patients before the procedure (which takes all of 5 seconds, so whatever) so I'll get to try some new and exciting drugs, including Percocet. I'm pretty stoked. The only controlled substance I've ever had was a few Vicodin after I got Frankensteined back together after my twins were born. I'm looking forward to this as market research.  I will apparently also get to try Celebrex and Xanax. FUN. I feel like that's overkill, but what do I know...I'm just a pharmacist.

With luck and baby dolphins I'll be back to normal activity the next day and running problem free into the spring.

And now it's time for bed. Early to bed, early to rise makes a woman...some inspirational shit that is usually attributed to Ben Franklin. 

Tomorrow some thoughts on the Solstice...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Blogging 2015: 923 down, 1092 to go

Well shit. It's been a whole month since I've been in the mood to spill random details of my life all over the internet. You're welcome, or I'm sorry...whichever fits you.

After having the better part of October off, I spent most of November in the salt mine. I picked up some shifts to cover for my alter making a 10 day stretch, and ended up working an 8 day stretch as Thanksgiving was my holiday this year and I didn't get my requested PTO the weekend after.

One moment for a slightly tangential rant: Third shift the night before the holiday being counted as the holiday? Is some bullshit. Basically for 7 years I don't get to celebrate any winter holidays. That's what I get for being essential.

So I was busy in November. Busy making that money. Which I promptly spent on workout clothes, because that is my life now. If I can't do it in leggings and a tank top, I'm out. I have utterly lost the ability to dress myself in normal people clothes. Although I do fit into a pair of jeans I'd written off, so there's that. I'm wearing them now as a matter of fact...with a race shirt from 2 years ago. Because I can't clothes.

I've been fighting the demon virus from hell for the last eight-ish days, and I'm fairly certain it's making the flip to bacterial as evidenced by the fact that I can't hear. Or rather, I can, but in the way you can hear when you're under water. That makes it easier to ignore my kids and dog, but it makes other things (like obsessively listening to my new favorite album) decidedly more difficult. I took 3 days off of working out, and I felt even shittier, so I went back to 3-a-days and now I still feel shitty but at least I don't feel guilty.

Today I got up early and made myself some coffee, then nuked a breakfast burrito that fantastic husband made this week. It was tasty.

Egg, cheese, sausage, and a (gasp) flour tortilla.

Fantastic husband and I had kicked around the idea of running 3 miles before heading to the box, but my massive quantities of medication hadn't kicked in yet so we opted out. Good thing, too. We got to CF and face a box jump pyramid (with fucking burpees again) sandwiched between two 800m runs. That would've sucked waaaaay more if my legs were already tired. As it was, I managed a box jump PR (by 2 inches! woo!) and finished with a respectable time. I also did 50 GHDs...I could only do 30 unbroken before my fluid filled ears started protesting. I had to do the last 20 as sets of 10. Afterwards I was dizzy. I hate being sick. If I ever get a chronic illness I am going to make everyone around me miserable. 

Then I jumped in the car and headed over to yoga. I ate this apple on the way. 

Honeycrisp. Mmmm.

When I got to the studio I got to listen to a woman tell me how she spent $400 at Costco because her family eats ALL ORGANIC OH EMM GEEEEEE!!!!! I was sort of tempted to say "I have no clue where this apple came from I didn't even rinse it OH EMM GEEEEEEE!!!" But I didn't. Because while I'm an asshole, I can sometimes successfully keep my mouth shut. Sometimes. So I did the stretchy bendy and then came home to find my "grab bag" tank top from INKnBURN had arrived.

So pretty. Ermahgehrd.

I also thought maybe some food, but while I'd love to show you a picture of a pretty plate of salmon and asparagus...I actually ate this energy bar. Win some, lose some.

Two servings my ass. ONE. ONE SERVING.

Then I went for a run. I had 3 on the calendar, but I did a full mile at CF so I went out for 2ish. It was warmish today but also weirdly humid and kind of windy. The miles felt good, even though my legs were cashed. I could've skipped it, but I'm glad I went.

Totally smiling on the inside.

Fantastic husband and I arranged for the kids to go to daycare after school so we could have some adult time. Before we had kids we used to just hang out all the time. I miss that. I suppose we get to hang out child free a lot more than most people because of our bizzaro schedules, but there's always some thing that needs to be done. Laundry, shopping, food prep, dishes, cleaning, get the picture. Today we just spent a few hours being together. It was lovely. 

Then I swallowed another handful of pills and went back to drinking motherfucking tea.

I'm so fucking sick of tea.

Dinner tonight was a rotisserie chicken from Festival and some frozen beans. Serviceable. And yes, that's a Diet Coke. Sometimes I drink a Diet Coke. Get the fuck off me.

It's food.

Last weekend I made hand pies with the kids. I make a lard based pie crust and we cut out circles and fill them with fruit (cherry in this case). The kids get a charge out of dishing the filling and crimping the crusts with a fork. It's fun, as long as I have a shitload of wine before and during. I'm not exactly Type A, I mean, if you've seen my house you know I'm an ambitionless sloth when it comes to things domestic. But I do like things done a certain way. The right way. My way. That makes things like baking as a family profoundly un-fun. But if I have a few glasses of fizzy wine? I am fun mommy. Fun mommy is patient and kind, she explains things 87 times and doesn't give a shit if you're mashing the hell out of the edge of the pie crust for nogoddamnreasonstopitstopitstopitomgwheresthewine. Fun mommy ignores all that stuff and enjoys the moment. The pies turned out great, and P took a bunch of them to school for classroom snack. They were well received. Just 2 left tonight, so I had one.

I do love this crust recipe.

Tonight I have to go to Walgreens to get Sudafed, because I'm out and I'm under water without it.  I have to wait, though, because having spent many years working behind the counter during the 5-7pm hours? I wouldn't go in there now if you paid me. Plus I'm not wearing any make-up and I let my hair air dry today. So I look like this.

I'm going to get treated like a drug addict.

Tomorrow I'm going to attempt the heretofore unmentioned 4-a-day. I'll likely be comatose by 8:30 tonight (fuck this fucking virus). CrossFit at 0515 tomorrow. At 9am my friend the personal trainer is going to come over and help me figure out how to work my ass. That sounds stupid, but basically I have lazy glutes...I do everything I'm supposed to do with my ass with my quads instead. That's why I can't squat for shit. So she's going to help me figure out what's up with my lazy ass so I can squat more. And look better in leggings. I also have a 4 mile run planned which will probably happen right before noon yoga.

And then? Then I'm going to meet fantastic husband out for Indian food buffet style. And I'm going to fucking stuff myself full of samosas. And chili chicken. Mmmmmm....chili chicken. 

So yeah. I remain boring as shit. I was going to toss in some clumsy drawings of my uterus for funsies, but that will have to wait. 

I can already taste the samosas...

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Blogging 2015: 880 down, 1135 to go

This was my first non-racing, non-vacation week of running in a while. I went back to work on Sunday night for a 4 day stint. Neither hospital was very active, so the nights were long, and I realize it will be more of a struggle to stay on track than I'd originally thought. It's possible that once I'm back in the regular routine of 7 on/7 off that I'll be better organized with respect to my exercise routine, but I think it's going to take a lot of effort to keep from backsliding.

Monday afternoon, fantastic husband and I took the smalls to CF and went for a 3 mile run while they were in class. We finished just shy of 30 minutes, which I felt good about considering we took 2 walk breaks (one of which was longer than it should've been). It was a lovely afternoon.  This time of year is tricky because it goes from GAH! SO BRIGHT! to umm...where is the light? in about 2.5 seconds. Since I work nights I don't worry about the darkness much as far as running goes. I'm almost always able to run when it's light out.

Monday night was long, so I spent most of Tuesday sleeping and then got up and was lazy. Wednesday I gave some thought to WODing while the kids were at CF, but it involved overhead lunging and squatting and I've learned that anything overhead is a shit idea when I'm tired (barbell to the brain, anyone?). So instead I went for a 4 mile run when I work up. Nice and slow, just enjoying the day. Until a dbag in a jacked up truck felt the need to comment on my shorts.

Thursday I came home and took a nap before hitting the box at 1230 for a workout that looked okay on paper, but ended up being ugly as fuck. Also I got videoed because I'm shitty at double unders and had the good fortune of being used as an example of what NOT to do. Then I laid on the floor and sweated for a while. I did get all my toes-to-rings. 6 pack, here I come.

Friday was a 3-a-day. I went to the #fiveonefive for the partner WOD. My hands were dirty from tire flips and bleeding from snatching when we were finished, but I can't say it wasn't fun. Highlight of the workout? When the coach asked if I could do burpee box jumps any slower and I said "Sure can, wanna see?", because I am an asshole. 

Fantastic husband and I went to noon yoga and sang along to the playlist. I'm hoping the instructor was entertained and not alarmed. It was a good stretch, but even so my shoulders and legs were heavy afterwards and I was a little concerned about running in the evening. Sometimes I get lead legs and even an 11:30 mile feels hard. That makes for a long 6 miler.

So. I went for a night run that wasn't on a Ragnar. I can't remember the last time I ran in true darkness that wasn't during an event. I've run in the early morning, but usually just as dawn breaks, so it's initially dark but gets lighter as the run progresses. Well, now that DST is over, it's dark at 5pm. Full dark. Since fantastic husband is at work today, my planned 6 either had to wait until Sunday or happen on Friday night. Fortunately, one of my gym buddies volunteered to go with me, so we decided to run the Fox River Trail with headlamps blazing. It ended up being a beautiful night for a run. Barely any wind, perfect temperature. I felt pretty damn incredible the whole run. My legs weren't heavy and my breathing came easily. We managed the 6 miles in 59:14 which is very respectable, especially seeing that at the moment I'm only supposed to be maintaining. Speedwork will begin sometime in late January.

My running companion. A gift from my husband.

Fits just right in my palm.

I don't think I could've run that trail in the dark without a companion. Parts of it are very, very dark, and for me the dark is menacing. It's funny. When my kids tell me they are afraid of the dark, I tell them "there's nothing in the dark that isn't there in the light", and in the safety of our home, in the confines of their rooms, that's true. Outside, at night, it's not true. I know that firsthand.

When I was in college, I was attacked. Most of my close friends (at least the ones I've known for a while) are aware of this. I've divulged it to others when it was relevant, but it's not something I bring up casually in conversation. That experience changed me. For the worse, and I think also for the better, but it changed me.

I've always felt somewhat invincible. Young people generally do, I suppose, but I had always been healthy and strong and I was always tall and somewhat imposing. People don't generally fuck with you when you're big and bitchy looking. Women in our society are trained to fear. To fear the dark, to fear being alone, to fear men. I never really felt that way. Until one night, in my 20th year, when I went with some friends to the West End bar on a Thursday night before my senior year of college was about to begin.

I wasn't 21, so I left my ID at home and figured that since I didn't plan to drink, just smoke and play darts, that the bartender would turn a blind eye. He didn't, and made me leave. I was hocked off because 2 of the guys with us were underage but had fake IDs and were allowed to stay. One offered to walk me back to the dorm, but I was pissed off and invincible, so I declined his offer and just left the bar. I was only about 3 blocks from my destination. The street I needed to walk down was well lit. I lit a cigarette and set off.

About a half a block away from the bar, I noticed footfalls behind me. I didn't think much of it and crossed the street into campus. I saw a man who remained on the other side of the street bend down to tie his shoe. I realize now he was casing me, and watching to see what route I was going to take. As I passed the biology building, I heard a voice shout "Hey, do you know what time it is?", and being invincible I replied "Sure, it's about 9:15." and kept walking. Suddenly he was in front of me, his hand on my shoulder and a knife point close to my jaw. And do you know what I thought? "Fuck. This is a new shirt and I'm going to get blood all over it."

What I said was "You've got to be fucking kidding me."

Knife man was not amused. He instructed me to empty my pockets and remove all my jewelry. I had about $6 on me (I wasn't drinking, remember?) and 6 silver rings worth around $40. The fucking watch I used to give him the time was an $8 Wal-Mart special. I removed it all and gave it to him. He was mad. "This is IT. You fucking white bread Princess? Lily white with Daddy's money and this is all you've got?"

He stuffed my cash and jewelry into his pockets, spun me around, grabbed me by the back of the neck and started marching me back the way we'd come. He decided that I was lying, that he was going to teach me a lesson. He wanted to know if I'd ever "fucked a black man" and other assorted vulgar bullshit. He pressed the knife into my side as we walked past a campus security guard. He said "Go ahead and scream. You'll be dead before that fat shit can get across the street." He continued to walk me around the block, back toward the bar I'd left what seemed like years ago, the whole time calling me "Princess". To this day, hearing anyone called Princess makes my lip curl. At this point I started to get mad. What the fuck was this asshole's deal? Who was he to judge me? He didn't know me or anything about my life. The 3 jobs I worked to support myself. The crushing debt I was incurring to get my degree. My fucking broken family and jacked up worldview. So I started yelling at him. In hindsight that may have saved my life. We'd come full circle back to the bar I'd left. Apparently, a screaming bitch wasn't what this guy bargained for. A car pulled up in front of us and instead of forcing me into it, he shoved me down and jumped into the passenger seat. They sped away and I tried to note every detail of the car. Make, model, color, license plate. I'd spent the whole time under his power trying to memorize everything about him. His face, his clothes, his height.

I stumbled across the street and back into the bar. I screamed at the bartender to call the police, the whole time repeating the plate number aloud so I wouldn't forget it.

The police came. I gave a report. I went home to my dorm and spent the remainder of the night chain smoking with my best friend and feeling numb. I felt numb for a long time after. And then, I felt afraid. Cold, dark, stifling fear. I worked evenings at my internship, and often returned to campus after 10pm. This usually meant I had to park far from the dorm. Every time I got out of my car, my heart hammered and my hands went cold. I would shake the whole walk home. One night I got close parking, but when I got out of my car there was a group of men standing on the sidewalk between my spot and my dorm. I felt the fear rise up and clamp down on my lungs. I forced myself to walk past them and onto campus, the whole time fighting down a wave of darkness that felt like it would crush me. One of them called out to me, and I started running. I spent the rest of that night in my room, shaking, with tears sliding down my face.

I started calling campus security when I needed to walk from my car at night. The female officers were sympathetic. The male officers always made me feel like a child. I wanted to tear their faces off.

Then the nightmares started. Every night I was walking home from somewhere west of campus. Every night I would be accosted by a man. Tall, short, stocky, thin, white, black, latino. The man was different every night, but he always, always had a knife. A long, slender blade with a wicked point. He would rob me, then march me back to campus. Some nights he killed me. I would feel the knife slide between my ribs and I would fall. Sometimes I would crawl and claw my way into The Library (a campus bar) and someone would call an ambulance. I would choke on my own blood and die before it arrived.

I started to fear going to sleep.

Ultimately, I sought therapy for the dreams. It helped to talk it out. But my main method of dealing with the event was avoidance. I rarely left the dorm at night if I didn't have to. I tried to never go anywhere in the dark, and if I did I went with other people. I pretended to be fine when I wanted to scream and hide. For years I feared the dark. I feared isolation that didn't involve locked doors. I feared men.

I won't pretend that I'm not still afraid. I deal with it. I confront it as often as I can, and that helps. My first Ragnar found me running through Kenosha at 2am. I had my knife, and I had to pull it. Seeing my weapon made the man in question turn and go back the way he came. Possibly also when I hissed "You want a piece of me?". I'll remind you that I'm kind of big and ugly (well, I certainly am 3 miles in at 2am on no sleep). I was afraid, but it didn't shut me down. I've done many dark legs since, and I've only felt that crippling fear a few times. Each time I've fought through it. Every time I set off on a dark run, it's a big "fuck you" to the man who made me afraid of the dark. I see his face every time. I could still describe him to you, 18 years later.

When I pulled into the parking lot at the trail access point last night, it was very dark, and I won't pretend I didn't feel slightly sick. I locked the doors in my car and turned up the radio. It helped.

Last night I had my knife, even though I had a companion, and I was mostly fine in the dark. There were only a few places that made me feel the familiar tightening in my throat. I focused on the river and the lights and the conversation and ran through it. And it was fine. More than fine. It was fun.

Happy legs.

Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever get over it. I might argue that I have. The fear that once crippled me is now fuel for the fire. People have told me that I take too many risks, running alone on the roads, on the trails, or through the arboretum. I've lost my sense of invincibility, as most of us do as we age, but I won't live my life fleeing from every shadow. I can feel the fear and embrace it. I can look it in the face and beat it back. I can let it sharpen my focus and my awareness without letting it destroy me. Isn't that what bravery is? Feeling the fear and doing a thing anyway?

What do you fear? How do you face it?

Would a knife help?

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Blogging 2015: 865 down, 1150 to go (Last Day of Lurong)

So I'm sitting here drinking whisky, which is a total cheat. BUT, I did just spend 90 minutes walking around the neighborhood in the rain following Trick or Treaters. It's medicinal.

Scotch. Neat.

This is my Trick or Treating face.

Why is this neighborhood so LARGE?

Earlier today I went for a puddle jump in the Arboretum. I know I've said it before, but I fucking love the Arb. I'll run it until it snows, and when the weather turns to spring I'll puddle jump again. It was about 50 and raining this afternoon. Perfect temperature. In the trees the wind was a total non-factor and the rain was intermittent except for the big drops shaken from the branches by the breeze. It was beautiful. I stomped or jumped in every single puddle. There were a few nice muddy ones. Not as many as in the spring, but it was deeply satisfying. I've been leaving my headphones behind a lot lately, and I haven't missed them much. Today's run called for some classical music. I actually listen to classical music while I run on a semi-regular basis. It has a mathematical precision that speaks to one part of my brain, and the ability to wring out deep emotion from another part. Sometimes that combo is disaster (PSA, don't listen to the Angus Dei while running after someone close to you dies-catharsis doesn't cover it), but most of the time it is uplifting in the extreme.  I found a version of Vivaldi's The Four Seasons done by the London Symphony and played it through the speaker on my phone. It was like running to my own goddamn soundtrack, and it was fucking perfect.

I could smell the earth and the water today. The leaves muted my footfalls to the point where I could barely hear them. Even my breath cooperated, coming easily without that one mile of gasping that usually starts my runs. I crisscrossed over trails I know like the back of my hand, and a few spurs I've never been down. I didn't encounter a single other soul. That is rare, and precious.

Autumn perfection.

I love the bleakness of the Bay.

Afterwards I headed home and peeled off my wet shoes and socks. These Brooks are now my official puddle jumping shoes after last weekend's soaking and another go today.

Soaked through.

I go back to work tomorrow night. I honestly love my job most of the time, so I'm not sad to go back exactly. I will miss just doing whatever I feel like all the time. Having 24 days off in one go is a hell of a thing. I think I'll do it every October. 

My October challenge at the yoga studio came to a close yesterday, and the Lurong is over as of midnight tomorrow. Both of these things gave me a lot this month in particular. Lurong kept me on the straight and narrow from a dietary standpoint, and kept me at it in the CrossFit box for the last 6 weeks. I saw some serious gains as a result. My yoga challenge got me into the studio for 22 classes and improved my technique, strength, and flexibility more than I anticipated. My body has changed a lot (for the better), and my mindset has changed as well.

It seems silly to say that just thinking or saying a phrase to yourself daily can really change your outlook on life, but it actually worked (much to my surprise). I could feel myself becoming less afraid, less self-conscious. I practiced active self-acceptance...and I started accepting myself. Crazy, right?

My final affirmation for the month is this:

Only I define myself.

No one gets to say who or what I am. Only I can do that. What you see when you look at me does not define me. Whatever you think of me is your own affair. I can't change the way you see me, only the way I see myself. So what am I?

I am beautiful and powerful and sexy. I am outspoken and passionate and fierce. I am intelligent and talented and driven. I am impulsive and adventurous and spontaneous. 

I am also insecure and weak and self-conscious. I am anxious and impassive and afraid. I am single-minded and ordinary and apathetic. I am cautious and timid and inhibited.

I am all these things, and I accept that fact. Every day I have worked on accepting it. Every day I will continue to work on accepting it.  My body has done amazing things over the last few months. It will do even more in the months and years to come. My mind has done amazing things as well, and I will do whatever I can to keep that momentum going. 

This year isn't over, not even close. There are goals still to reach, and I will reach them. Buckle up, bitches.