Sunday, September 29, 2013

It's totally happening...

Crazy how two small words could make such a dramatic difference.

Another week of training behind me and another week of a gloriously quiet head.  Only two weeks remaining until the Qualifier and finally we have some decent breakthroughs! Check out the changes in only one week, now that I no longer walk at any point on the qualifier course:

Tuesday's - Start Line to Gate Repeats:
9/18/13 22:30, 24:28, 25:27 
9/24/13 20:41, 22:15, 23:12 

Thursday's - Horse Trail Loops - Yes, I still power hike the majority of climbs, but I now jog parts too:
9/20/13 12:27 (from trailhead to Tollroad), 23:32 (complete loop), 27:19 (complete reverse loop) = 50:51 
9/26/13 12:03, 22:49, 25:47 = 48:36 - Solidly under 50:00.  Yahoo!

Saturday's - Qualifier Time Trial:
9/22/13 20:31 (to gate), 34:44 (finish) 
9/29/13  19:45, 33:52 - this is the first time I've ever been under 20:00 or 34:00 when running alone! 

Granted a lot can happen in two weeks and there are a number of challenges to still surpass... like I'll be out of town this Wednesday through Sunday, on a very promising rural adventure, so this week's training and eating are going to be off kilter.  But, I'm taking my running shoes and plenty of protein and fat, so I'm not overly concerned.  I'll try to blog when I get home Sunday night.

One thing I know for sure, come October 12th...

And leave the results up to a Power vastly greater than myself!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Silence Is Golden

At least when it come to my head!

For the last week, my head has been completely quiet through ALL of my training sessions.  If that's not a record, it's darn close.

Why is that so important?  Because it means that my training can just be training and not a character judgement... either good or bad.

And why is that important?  Because then I can have a good session without glorifying it and I can have a bad session without throwing myself to the wolves.

Translated, that all means I get to work as hard as my body can tolerate (by perception) without my brain sabotaging the effort.

How has all this played out last week?

Well, in CrossFit, it means I thrived in every class and performed respectably.  That's good enough for the time being considering it's not my primary emphasis.

The real showing happened out on the field, which is where my head predominantly tends to explode.  For the last five weeks, I've been doing the exact same runs.  Here are the stats from the first week and this last week.

Tuesdays - three repeats from the Qualifier start line to the turn around Gate. - Goal: 19:30
8/13/13 - 22:05, 25:06, 26:56- I walked EIGHT times that first evening
9/18/13 - 22:30, 24:28, 25:27 - ZERO Walks

Thursdays - Horse Trail Loops - Goal: 40:00
Up the Horse trail, down the fire road, past the bridge, back to the start line... repeat second time, in reverse:
8/15/13 - 14:30 top of horse trail, 27:18 1st loop, 10:00 REST, 31:10 = 58:28 total
9/20/13 - 12:27, 23:32, 27:19 = 50:51 (ZERO Rest)

Saturdays/Sundays - Qualifuer Time Trials - Goal: 32:45
8/17/13 - 22:18 split, 38:28 - TWO Walks
9/22/13 - 20:31 split, 34:44 - ZERO Walks

These may not seem like big differences to you, but eliminating all walking is HUGE because it finally opens the door to speed development.

Why did it take so long to eliminate the walks?  Because my head kept telling me that I was faster power walking than I was jogging.  I was so intent on the finish time, I would drop into a walk just to rush.  The problem was that I plateaued within weeks and wasn't able to drop the time any farther.

Last weekend when I sent Coach yet another crummy result from the Qualifier time trial. I got back a text yelling at me to STOP walking.  So I did... finally.

This week will be a good opportunity to see how quickly the gains come. Will it happen fast enough to get me back on the team on Oct 12th?  We'll see, there is enormous power in a group and it's been a long time seen I ran with my peers...

Oh, for those curious... why is my head quiet finally quieting down?  Three weeks of a minimum of 30 minute daily meditation, non-negotiable.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Body Dysmorphia and Real Change

This week is all about my fitness goals and what prompted last week's post...

I have a double goal.  I want low body fat (19% ideally) and I want to be fast enough to run comfortably with the Arrogant Bastards.

As of Friday, my body fat % was down to 29.58%. It's the first time it's fallen below 30% in at least five years. Just three months ago it was 35.26%... that's a reduction of over 5.5%!  I should be overjoyed and celebrating the achievement!  

So why do my thoughts keep drifting back to the fact that the reduction progression has slowed down in the last month?  That it may only be 1% a month going forward and that I may actually have to stay on this specific eating plan for another 9-10 months?  The fact is I miss eating the way I used to and I don't like having to take the long hard road to real and permanent change... See how easy it is for me to focus on the negative and wallow in self-pity? 

That's why the other half of the goal is just as critical...  Getting stronger in the gym and faster on the trail. 

For me, low body fat is meaningless if my body isn't also strong and fast.  In the last seven years I've learned that what I see in the mirror is rarely real. Almost every time I look in the mirror today, I see the same body I've always seen, yet I know intellectually that my body looks different.  It's called body dysmorphia, so I've learned to just ignore the mirror and focus on the performance metrics.

Tomorrow morning I'll be running the fourth qualifier time trial in a month.  So far, I've been getting progressively faster to the gate, but giving the gains back on the return.  This weekend my focus is to hold my ground on the way out and be relentless on the return... and keep my head quiet throughout.

Enter the tricky part... For the last month Coach has had me training alone on the trail three times a week, repeating the same grueling drills over and over again.  He wants me training alone specifically to force me to push through my default negativity and self-defeating mindset.  (It's an uphill battle and the few times friends have been on the trail at the same time has been a very welcome respite from my head, even though I am rarely able to run with them.)  To keep my head quiet and prevent the negativity when I'm alone, I use music, prayer, meditation, affirmations, etc. Sometimes the tools work and sometimes they don't.  I am still trying to figure out what tools work best under what circumstances.  

Remember the onion peeling...  I always thought I just needed to fix the body and the brain would fall in to place.  I am learning the hard way now that not only is my brain harder to fix than my body, it takes a whole lot more time. By comparison, it was easy to just stop the physical behaviors of drinking, smoking and eating sugar.  But, how the hell does one stop their head from thinking?  Or force it to think only good thoughts?  My mentors say it's just going to take time and patience... and the willingness to just feel feelings without medicating them away with drink, drugs or food.  Eventually they say my brain will be retrained.  

So, while I keep learning new tools, I will keep applying the tools that have always worked so far...  I will stay on the long road, listening to my experts who know me much better than I know myself and just take it One Day at a Time letting the time pass and changes come as they will, trusting that the solutions are in the journey.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Peeling the onion...

Before you read this post, you should know it really has nothing to do with my running, crossfitting, or nutrition. Those are all well on track and I'll post an update next weekend.  So then, just what is the point of this post and why am I putting myself so far out there?  

It's expressly because I am a leader in my communities and there are so many of you will identify with these words I've written.  It's for you; to know you are not alone in your personal brand of craziness and that if you keep persevering, you too will have the opportunity to uncover the layers of who you really are, so that the true healing can happen.  As for anyone using this post for judgement and gossip, enjoy the fodder!

Layer by Layer...

There was a time when I thought the root of my happiness was challenged by...

My mom
then it was my husband
No, really it was my dad
Duh, it must be no girlfriend!

Eventually, I grew to realize that people were all just outside influences and my problems really originated within me...

First my alcoholism
then is was my smoking
No, really it was my nutrition
Duh, it must be my sugar addiction!

In reality, all of these areas are very important, but they are just physical factors, they not the root cause.  How do I know this to be true?  Because each time I peel away a layer, another layer is revealed, and as soon as I adjust to the new vision, another layer becomes visible, so I peel it away too, and guess what?  Yup...  Welcome to my world today.

At least for today, I live clean and sober, eat properly, train consistently, sleep sufficiently and am far more disciplined than at any other time of my life.  I have spent a lifetime focused on creating certainty in my life.  Certainty that as long as I keep all my ducks in a row, my health will be excellent and my life fulfilling and happy.  ( odd thing about those ducks is they've somehow kept multiplying through the years!)  Talk about a thousand forms of self-delusion.

So, now that I have all my adorable little ducks nicely lined up, how can I possibly still be experiencing even occasional bouts of depression, irrational fear, shame and self-loathing!? Seriously, WTF! Sure, these bouts are few compared to even a year ago, (and nothing compared to what they were like ten years ago!) but I was positive that cleaning up the food and getting off the sugar would eliminate the last of them and I was truly shocked to find that I was wrong.  It seems another layer has been revealed, and boy is this a painful one.

Thankfully, when I'm obviously over my head, I've finally learned to quickly seek out the advice of those I trust...

My physical mentor essentially says the roots originate in my mind and can only be resolved with the tools of expert assisted introspection.   Sounds clear and like a very good idea for peeling away lots of ugly little layers I'm sure are still nicely buried.

While my spiritual mentor completely agrees that expert assisted introspection can be invaluable for uncovering layers and applying tools for healing, she believes that it will still prove insufficient to provide lasting peace of mind.  The root of all my unrest, she says, is actually caused by a spiritual malady and that I am far from unique and alone in my suffering.  In fact, she pretty much guarantees that my serenity will only ever be as stable as is my conscious contact and reliance on God.   She followed that by saying the best way to maintain that contact and reliance is with constant diligence dedicated to prayer and meditation, along with regular application of the tools for introspection and healing.  

In my heart I've known this for a number of years and while I've definitely made huge inroads in the process, I've still always felt that the outside world needed the most attention.  In one sense, I can see the necessity of this path because the outside influences have always thrown up a serious noise barrier to the silence.  But now that I've pretty much eliminated all other factors, it seems that both of my mentors are right, which means that the real work is still ahead of me...