Monday, January 26, 2015

Filling up the tank

Having recently resolved to "beware the barrenness of a busy life," I've been focusing less this year on what - and how much - I am doing, and more on who I am being. Fewer items on the calendar each day. More space for spontaneous fun, creativity, and the occasional necessary dose of quiet. Less pre-registering, and more last-minuting. Now four weeks into this new year, I find that I'm making good progress at not making progress. There have been more movies, dinners, and good bottles of wine for no reason with my husband. Short-notice running dates, afternoons absorbed in art projects, and many happy hours curled up with books. I realized on January 10th, with exactly eight days of notice - and exactly zero training - that I'd registered for the Carlsbad Half Marathon a few months prior and then promptly forgotten about it. (How's that for evidence of an over-scheduled, stretched-too-thin existence?) But I rolled with it and made a happy long Sunday run of it with friends. And hey, since I had nothing else on my calendar for that day, there was time for a leisurely brunch afterward with my friend and running muse Kate! Last week's five-day cross-country business trip didn't even phase me. On the final leg home, I had a few hours of work I was planning to get done, but I didn't resist when the nice guy in the seat next to me struck up a conversation (like I usually do). Instead I gave him one of my free drink coupons, we chatted from Atlanta to San Diego, and I made a new friend. Less doing. More being. Nailing it.

What could possibly disturb this new blissful state of being? Nothing! I've nailed it! Nothing but balance and harmony, from here on out. Oh what's that up ahead? It looks like some kind of ... tornado? A swirling mass of sweaty t-shirts, spreadsheet entries, and protein bars, leaving a chaotic mess everywhere in its wake. Wait a minute ... I know what this is. I remember this! This is marathon training.

It started today. In 18 short weeks, I'll be heading to Boise for the Famous Idaho Potato Marathon.
A sack of potatoes for every finisher?
This one's been on my "list" for a long time, and I'm excited! This weekend I did all the things I normally do as I'm getting ready for a race. I sketched out a training schedule, looking at weeks that I know will be tough with work and/or travel, and figuring out the necessary adjustments. I bought a cute new pair of running shorts, and stocked up on my favorite training food. And as I contemplated how to integrate the additional hours that training requires into my newly pared-down life, it occurred to me: the hardest thing about marathon training (at least at the level at which I compete) is not the actual running or cross-training. The hardest thing about training is managing its impact on my life. And this time, I'm determined to do it better.

I've made peace with the need to stop working on a task before it's complete, or skip the occasional night out with friends in order to get to bed early. I know by now what those 20-mile training runs feel like, and that I need to plan ahead and block off most of the day for them. My husband is well-accustomed to my dietary preferences, and knows that there's a lot of whole wheat crust pizza in his future. I've got the essentials pretty well dialed in. But it's the interstitial "stuff of life" that often trips me up, and this is where I can improve, creating a little more time and space. I can spend a couple of hours on the weekend menu planning and shopping for the week, thereby avoiding my usual daily trip to the grocery store. I can fold the laundry as soon as it's out of the dryer, and spend less time ironing (and by "ironing," I mean "searching the closet and drawers for something that's reasonably wrinkle-free to wear to work, instead of ironing"). I can spend a few minutes each morning thinking through the logistics of the day more thoroughly, so that I leave the house with everything I need, and do less back-tracking.

This weekend, I practiced being the kind of person who gets themselves organized on Sunday evenings for the week ahead. I know you people exist. I'm related to several of you, so I'm hopeful that with some practice, I can coax awake its dormant genetic expression. I grocery shopped. I filled up my car with gas. I picked up the house, and ironed some clothes (for real). And when I left the house for work this morning, I had a full tank, literally and figuratively. These are the spaces in my day where marathon training can happen. I don't have to get sucked into the tornado. I don't have to give up the important stuff. So let's do this, Famous Potato. You're on.

My Monday morning armload.
Marathon training takes a lot of planning.
And it also takes a lot of bags.

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