My brother recently wrote a really good post about conquering fears. Even though he was relating it to running, it really could apply to so much in life. Please read it here on the blog: Coaching, Training and Motivation.
One of the things I love about my brother is his willingness to help others, and even though he has an amazing running ability, (one that most of us would pretty much die for), he always seems very low-key about it. When I told him that one of my very fast runner friends thought my brother was ridiculously fast in comparison to him, I could tell I made him blush over the phone. He said, “you know I spend so much time talking to people about speed, I just seem to take myself out of the equation.”
I love people like that – people who could be all “big about themselves” for a variety of reasons, but they choose not to. People who dig down deep and face their fears. People who follow their heart. (FYI, clicking on this picture of the elevation chart will blow it up for you.)
Elevation Chart for Leadville 100 course, which is an out-and-back, so what goes up must come down, and vice versa.
My brother has come a long way in a few years. He made a career change that took him from one of constant stress and anxiety attacks (literally) to one that he’s so devoted to that when he comes to visit, he always has his laptop out so he can communicate with his running clients. When he was on a bus enroute to come see me last fall, he asked if I could give a client of his a call, to let them know he’d be sending an email as soon as he got to me, telling them final strategy tips for their marathon race the following morning. When I contacted his client, he said that my brother was an awesome coach, and so dedicated. It was no surprise to me, but I think it might have been to my brother. That’s just how he is.
A few years ago, he barely seemed to have the energy to train for marathons. Now he’s training for the Leadville 100, and signs his emails about it, by using the phrase “Crazy Train.” [At least he knows he's nuts. ] I like the fact that he’s pushing himself to another level (figuratively and literally, as the Leadville Race has some mileage that will be run above the tree line.)
In case you are wondering, yes, a longtime friend of his and I have already volunteered to pilot the Medivac Helicopter for him when the race is over. We’ve watched him run the marathon at Philadelphia a few times, and always wonder “Why do we drive all this way [from D.C. and Boston] to see him fly by us for just a few seconds during the course of 2-3 hours??” LOL
Brooks ST Racers, image from Amazon.com
I’ll never have my brother’s speed (6 repeat 800s at 2:45, anyone?) but I’ve been thinking of ways to challenge myself too, running and otherwise. On my brother’s advice, I’ve just bought a pair of racing flats to try out this year: the Brooks ST Racers. (This link takes you to the new model, 5, but I think mine will be the 4, pictured at right.)
I never thought that they were for people like me, before. By that, I mean people who tend to run in the middle of the pack. However, Ive seen my times improve over the past few years. So, now I want to see if having less physical weight on my feet, and the added mental boost of knowing my feet are lighter, will help speed up my times. (Even though they will clash with all of my running clothes, color-wise…)
I’ve been meeting new people and reaching out to others more than I used to. I’ve tended to move away from people or situations that are not right with me, and doing so lifts a heavy load off of me, mentally. Sticking with them just tends to make you look backward, and I don’t want to do that anymore. (I’m not saying it’s bad to remember everything, I think you need to learn and grow from past experiences, and not always dwell on the past. It won’t change it.)
I’m also toying with the idea of learning how to rock climb. People who have known me my entire life know how terrified I am of heights. So, I’m thinking more of learning what they call bouldering, because with that type of climbing, it’s more about the challenge of forging a route to the top of a, say, 30-foot high piece of rock that others might not see. Or, it’s the challenge of finding handholds or footholds that work, while others might find them impossible. (At least, this is what I have read about it.) You don’t have to be 100 feet off of the ground, or trying to scale the flat faces of Yosemite or Zion out west. I’ve always liked reading about people who challenge themselves physically and mentally, such as the mountaineers who climb Everest, or any of the other 8Kers (mountains taller than 8,000 meters). I’m thinking that maybe I should experience some of it rather than just reading about it! (Although, don’t get me wrong, I have no desire to actually climb an 8,000 meter peak!)
So, who knows? I may go to a class or two and find that “yep, I really do not like heights” or I’m so clutzy as to find the endeavor totally laughable, and feel like a complete and total jackass. I may end up in a class with a bunch of under-10-year-olds. But I will never know until I try it.
p.s. A friend suggested I find a half marathon to run this spring, after having run 10.2 miles (walked about .2 of it) on the treadmill yesterday. I am considering it. Some days, you just feel like running long and zoning out, and I’m just trying to go with the flow these days, in so many ways. I’m trying to make a concerted effort of keeping my workouts fun, and even think I’ve found a new good friend to run with now.
Things are coming together, slowly but surely.
Castle Island, South Boston, Autumn 2010. Loved the blue tones of the sky and water.
I remember our great plan for picking my brother out of the crowd the first time he ran the Boston Marathon. Just look for his yellow racing flats. They’d stick out because they were so bright, right? Of course…. How little did we know, it was laughable. Imagine our faces when we saw the lead pack with Kenyans and Ethiopians come flying through. In yellow racing flats. And the first numbers of the 1000s and 2000s. Many in yellow racing flats. And my brother was right behind them, as he had started in the corral with the 3000s. (The following year he moved up to the 2000s.) Yep, the boy has some speed and endurance, that’s for sure. (Speaking of speed, be sure to read his most recent blog post on Coaching, Training and Motivation. You’ll see what I mean. Just goes to show how attitude can help you out so much, and hold you back.)
I used to always think that racing flats are only for the elites, or people like my brother. You know them. The Super-Fasties. As I was running on the treadmill today, I thought that my shoes were feeling a bit heavy (the balls of my feet always hurt at 4 miles, so no matter if the display is covered, I know how far I’ve gone at that point) and that if I were racing, it might be good to have something a little bit lighter than my trainers. So, I’m hoping to get some advice from my brother as to what would be good for me to try. I wouldn’t be using them for a marathon distance or anything, just 5Ks and 10Ks, so hopefully they wouldn’t help me incur injuries. Who knows, maybe the lighter shoe will help me break into the 23 and 49 minute ranges this year? All I know is, I’m willing to give them a try. Any advice from any of you out there for a good racing flat, if you’re usually a Brooks Adrenaline (stability) kind of girl??
My mainecoon, Chloe. Usually she looks pissed in pics because of her colors. In this one, she just looks, well, perplexed.
As to the other places I’m creating room for improvements in my life, well, this weekend I just felt like getting rid of a bunch of stuff. The totally-dead sneakers I saved to use in the garden? GONE. The “librarian skirts” my friend Liz (aka the Fashion Nazi) always didn’t want me to wear because she thought I looked like a moving piece of clothing (I thought they made me look thin if I wore a form fitting top with them)? GONE. The two briefcases I had from when I was a law student and then lawyer (please don’t hate me)? SOOOO GONE…….. My bar exam scores from Pennsylvania and from the CLE classes from New Jersey? WILL BE GONE WITH THE SHREDDER AT WORK TOMORROW. And, some of my grandmother’s things with which I never had a connection, but always felt like I needed to hold onto them, because throwing them out=throwing her out?
That last part was definitely hard. But, I realized, I’ve still got my memories of her, and no one can ever take those away. No one can ever take away that feeling of a special connection I always felt with her, and they can’t take away any dreams I occasionally have of her. And, come to think of it, I still have the clothes she wore on that Easter Sunday which was the last day I saw her before her major stroke and heart attack. I don’t think anyone has ever known I’ve been holding onto them all this time. But I think it’s time to let them go too. They no longer smell like her, and they’re literally, just clothes.
Quite possibly, the largest flower I've ever seen. Grown across the street from where I work, August 2010.
One other place in my life I realize I need to declutter is all the guilt and self-loathing I’ve put on myself over the past 7 months. It’s not helped anything.
My therapist helped me realize last week that I tend to look for forgiveness from people but at the same time, keep jumping forward to take the blame for everything onto myself. When I start thinking that I’ve completely ruined Ruthie’s dad’s life, I start to make myself feel worse and worse. I need to remember my friend Lis’ advice (she’s always given me good advice since we trained for the marathon, even though I didn’t always agree with or listen to it at the time.) She said that I did us both a favor last summer, and now he (Ruthie’s dad) can find someone else to be happy with, just like I can.
Some people, like my mom, may never understand why we’re no longer together, or how some people can drift apart. Sometimes it just happens. Things change in a relationship and people may need different things. I’m not trying to sound cavalier at all – believe me, I’ve thought long and hard about it.
Ruthie’s dad has told me he is no longer mad at me, so I’m starting to not be angry with myself either. Otherwise, I’m not going to move forward, and to stay in place is just not an option. My running times are not the only thing that’s going to improve this year.
I’m smiling again…
Rocks at Rockport, August 2010.
p.s. I did 9.01 miles on the treadmill earlier today. For what reason, you ask? Yeah, I have no idea other than now my slow but steady pace is in the high 8s or low 9s, and I wanted to see how long it could last. I read through some old posts and saw how excited I used to get when I could run a whole *4 miles* at 9:30. If you do put the hard work in, it really can change things, in more ways than one.