Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Old Me

I've had a pretty wild week, filled with travel, old friends, art, music, and lots of running. Fast running. Life's been handing me opportunity after opportunity to reconnect with people that I've loved in different ways through the years, with people I haven't seen in far too long -- most especially, with my former self.

I turned 41 last month, which makes it official: squarely, solidly middle aged. In the wake of a major career transition this year, my running, along with several other areas of my life, has changed. As I've spent the last year creating a new version of myself that is less engulfed by the demands of work, I've let go of a lot of the ways I used to push and challenge myself. I resigned from some volunteer service and board of director positions, deciding that I would take a one year break, and then reevaluate what "extracurricular activities" would best feed my soul. I didn't plan any major travel, stopped over-scheduling my weekends with social activities, and instead learned how to enjoy a quiet day with a good book. I never stopped running - nor did I even stop running marathons. But during this time of transition, I consciously stopped training. I haven't done any strength training or cross training except when I felt like it (which, it turned out, was basically never), learned to ignore my pace, and just ran when and how I wanted. It was a break that I very much needed. But I'm coming out of hibernation ... and I'm hungry.

I know two spirited local coaches here in San Diego, Sheri and Teresa, who write a fun blog called Gals Who Run. In September, they issued an October challenge to "find your fast this fall," a four-week program of speed training, online coaching, and group accountability. Still quietly in the slumber of my period of hibernation, I scanned their posts and then happily ignored them. Even with a December marathon on the horizon, I was perfectly content to plod along, get in a few long runs, and just show up on race day and see what happened. And then Sheri reached out to me personally, and with a gentle poke of her coaching stick gave me the nudge I needed to shake off my lethargy and sign up.

We each started with a one-mile speed test, to establish our baseline, and then worked a four-week
program of speed training, tempo runs, long runs, cross-training, and of course rest days. I was disappointed to realize in my pre-test that I could barely run an 8:00 mile anymore. (I struggled for a 7:58.) Hibernating in my 40s, it turns out, is a bit more consequential than it was in my 20s and 30s, and I had really lost a lot of strength and speed. Although the challenge ran through four very busy weeks, between my organization's two largest annual fundraisers, my family being in town for a weeklong visit, and a jam-packed trip to the east coast, I'm happy to report that I didn't skip a single workout. Guilt accountability is very effective! Last night I did my post-test mile, and was thrilled to knock out a 7:17 mile in (reasonable) comfort. It's been a long time since I've seen a mile at that pace, and it feels good to be back on the upswing.

While I was in New York City last week, I got to spend a day with one of my oldest and dearest friends. (We met on the school bus, on the way to our first day of junior high school, and have been close all our lives.) I watched Blur - a band I've madly adored since I was 16 years old - play Madison Square Garden. I visited with friends from my early adulthood - a fellow graduate school survivor, and friends made at my first "real job" - and went on a long Sunday morning run with a favorite former colleague who runs a care management business in NYC similar to the one that I recently sold. A few days ago, the happy occasion of an old high school friend's book launch in Los Angeles brought me together with him and several others, some of whom I hadn't seen in over two decades. Having lost my stepfather this summer, who has been drowning in the depths of dementia for many years, I found it powerful to be with old friends who remember him. It is a very important thing indeed, to be known. To oneself, and by others.

It's been a great week of putting my current self into context, through a good look at my former self. I'm now seven weeks out from my next marathon, and inspired to give it an honest go, and see what I'm capable of. As in running, so too in life.

Come back baby
Fight off the lethargy
Don't go quietly
Combat baby
Said you would never give up easy
Combat baby come back
- Metric, "Combat Baby"

1 comment:

  1. Go Amy!!! That's a fast mile! This is so awesome.

    You have had quite the transitional year. I can relate in my own (smaller, less drastic) way.

    Now that you've "found your fast" and have ended your hibernation, you should come up to Encinitas for a weekend Winter coastal run with me! This is my favorite time of year to run! Or we can find a trail somewhere and run/hike (since I'm pretty terrible at those inclines).

    Miss that face of yours!