To Grow You Must Struggle

“Strength and growth can come only from continuous effort and struggle.”

I came across this quote and could not agree with it more.  Struggling stinks and it hurts but it is the key to being a better version of your present self.  I usually think of struggle as those workouts that just take everything out of you and you need to fight extra hard to finish it out..and you’re usually throwing in curse words.  But right now, the struggle isn’t a workout, it is accepting the unknown future of Boston 2 Big Sur and placing my continuous effort elsewhere; the struggle is not having a plan; the struggle is mental.

 I spent the first half of January having the biggest pity party and being a grumpy persona and version of myself that I really don’t like..and I am sure those around me don’t particularly enjoy it either. That has finally changed –  I am embracing the lack of schedule and having fun with all the things I can do and all the strength I can gain from this setback. Spin class..sure why not!!! Swimming..sure this could be fun! I have freedom to try a bunch of new cross training activities in addition to crossfit (granted they don’t irritate the hip).

I am not a typical runner in the sense that I do so much more than run. My passion is spread out across Crossfit, running and yoga.  This can be exceptionally hard when marathon training and trying to balance everything but it is tremendously helpful when I have running setbacks or lulls.   When I am training for a marathon, I yearn to get back to Crossfit and lift heavy. I get so frustrated having to scale workouts so that my running isn’t affected.  I always say, “As soon as this marathon is done, I am focusing JUST on Crossfit and I am going to see how strong I can get!”…but then I finish a marathon and that marathon high has me leaping to my laptop and signing up for another.  And the cycle continues…..training begins, Crossfit is scaled and the words “after this marathon..” come out knowing darn well that my post marathon high will most likely prevail.  Well, here I am, for the time being I can only do crossfit and cross training so why not capitalize on this opportunity to finally focus on all my Crossfit weaknesses.  But of course, the psyche has a tendency to fixate on all the things the body can’t do.  You always want what you can’t have.  Well I am taking what I can have and running going with it. I’ve been getting in the pool and loving the random workouts I have been doing.  I have been embracing every Crossfit workout and giving it 110%.  I have improved my form on different movements.  I have come to peace with what may or may not happen in the Spring and just reminding myself that comebacks can be pretty darn sweet and almost worth the setback.

Let’s flashback to 2014.  

I focused more on counting macros, losing weight, body building, HIIT cardio workouts and did little running.  I sometimes like to pretend this stage of my life never happened but sometimes I am glad it did.  It serves as a constant reminder of  how you can be so blind to how out of control you are being.  So maybe my abs look pretty nice in this picture, my quality of life was the opposite  I stressed out about food, workouts and the reflection in the mirror.  Spending time out was less about the people around me and more about how my abs would look after.  ANYWAY…despite little running I managed a 1:29 half marathon at the Disney Princess Marathon. (Feb. 2014)

imageI got increasingly focused on running and decided that maybe I wanted to do a summer marathon.  I signed up for the 2014 San Francisco Marathon in July but did not get far into training before I was hit with a knee injury.  I pushed off going to the doctors which was not wise because I found out from PT that it was just a result of tight quads and within 2 visits I was able to hit the roads pain free….but had only 2 weeks until the marathon! haha..

San Fran Finish

At the expo I made a last minute decision to drop the half.  Part of me wanted to see what I was capable of but pushed my ego aside and realized that a first marathon is very special and I did not want it to be a crawl across the finish line.  It was the best decision because I had so much fun running those San Fran hills and was pretty darn sore after 13.1! Around this time, my boyfriend urged me to start crossfit so I embarked on my running and crossfit journey in the summer of 2014.  I had a phenomenal fall….I was loving crossfit and clocked some crazy half marathon times…and some nice checks! 1:26, 1:27 and 1:29 in a span of 45 days.

fullsizerender-4
Hartford Half Marathon 1:26
fullsizerender-3
Newburyport Half Marathon – 1:27
image
Monson Memorial Half Marathon – 1:29
I took a bit of a break from running due to a mild injury and spent the rest of 2014 and the start of 2015 focusing on Crossfit. My mom and I had the Disney Princess Challenge in February so I did my best to incorporate as much running as I could while treating my injury. It all worked out and I made it to Disney injury free and had such a fun Winter competing in my first Crossfit (in-house) Open.  The warmer weather and watching the Boston Marathon got me back on the running grind and I decided to try again with this whole marathon business.  I registered for the 2015 San Franciso marathon.  This time I walked into the expo with no doubts and a solid training base.

image

This Picture. This Day. This Race – THAT SMILE.  It was the best 26.2 I have ever run. I can honestly say that my first marathon was the best race of my life.  I have never felt more proud of myself. 2014 wasn’t my time and I am glad I didn’t force it.  I waited it out. Embraced the half marathon distance a little longer and came back when it was my time.

Maybe 2017 Boston 2 Big Sur isn’t my time. Maybe I have to wait it out.  But I can do big things in the meantime…and when it is my time…it will be fricken awesome.

So maybe I had an Instagram story of me in my MRI gown…whatever. Let’s not focus on that. Let’s focus on the fact that the last two Crossfit workouts that I did were repeats of previous workouts to see my growth and where I am at. On Thursday I did one from 2 months ago and today I did one from when I took part in the 2015 Crossfit Open (scaled). I crushed my previous time/reps in both.  Each time I get in the pool, I am swimming longer, doing more sprints and getting acclimated with the sport.  I am seeing growth but most importantly, I am having fun.  I can’t always say those words when I am marathon training.

On the food and health front….I am obsessed with 3 things at the moment.  Vital Proteins, Kombucha and Bonafide Bone Broth.

Every morning before 6am crossfit, I blend up a scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides, a teaspoon of ghee, almond milk and coffee.

img_5972

It is foamy, delicious and gives me the perfect amount of nutrients and fuel to hold me over.  After crossfit is mayhem – I am getting ready for work in 5 minutes and only have time to inhale a banana and some hard boiled eggs/egg whites.

fullsizerender

If I do have time to actually have sold breakfast after crossfit…aka Saturday. I have been boiling up almond milk and blending it with cacao powder and Vital Proteins (I choose the collagen with Whey for post workout).  Tastes like hot chocolate and goes perfect with a rice cake with almond butter and chopped banana!

Kombucha….I actually love it and find it thirst quenching even though some will disagree entirely.  Last night I had a wild Friday night and stopped into Whole Foods.  It got even more wild when I passed a sample booth that had Kombucha…alcoholic Kombucha. He gave me two samples and then I got carded when I bought my two bottle…I told you it was wild night! 😉  If you are not a fan of regular Kombucha, there is something extra delicious about the alcoholic ones and surprisingly the sugar is only 4g for the entire bottle so the better taste isn’t coming from added sugars.

fullsizerender-2

Lastly, bone broth has been happening frequently around here.  It is another drink that is interesting and the taste may turn some people away but I like the savory component to it and will usually drink it with a vegetable stir fry to add some protein to my meal.  I also like to add turmeric and pepper for added benefits.  My favorite brand is Bonafide Bone Broth which can be found in the frozen section of Whole Foods.

Well that just about sums everything up! I am happy to be happy again and out of my little injury rut!…don’t forget…

“Often times it is the deepest pain which empowers you to grow into your highest self”

Summer Vacation is Finally Here…for a few hours

Tuesday at noon was my official start to summer! WooHooo!…but of course, Wednesday at 8am was my official start of a summer statistics class.  It only meets 5 times over the course of the summer so I can’t complain…especially because 1.) I get bored so easily over the summer and 2.) I LOVE STATISTICS

image..and 3.) I love the juice bar at UMass and my brand new colorful pens and notebook 🙂

Before I get into all this summer vacation talk and the things I have planned aside from number crunching, I have to start off by saying I AM ONLY ONE HARD TRAINING RUN AWAY FROM BEING MARATHON READY!  I conquered the 18 miler last Saturday…by myself! image I am not going to lie, I was freaking out Friday evening because I couldn’t recruit anyone to run that final few/6 miles with me.  I really/obsessively questioned whether I could tackle the run by myself.  My boyfriend mapped out a new route that was the perfect distance, 12 miles through surrounding neighborhoods and then the final 6 miles in a beautiful and FLAT reservoir less than a mile from our house…also serves as a good meeting place if I had someone to run with.  I tried not to talk about my nerves and uncertainty too much because I know that non-runners are not a huge fan of listening to anything involving running let alone running a crazy 18 miles.  We drove the route the night before to make sure I had my roads correct, I put out water at mile 9 miles and was all set to conquer the run…unfortunately alone.  I woke up early Saturday morning to ensure that would I beat the heat.  Boy was I nervous.  I don’t know what it is about long runs that makes me anxious.  My theory is that ‘the long run’ is not just a normal run.  You (or maybe it’s just me!) have to mentally prepare for it. I have to pump myself up for it.  It is not one of those runs where you just get out there and just crank out a few miles.  You have to train your mind to not focus on the time, not focus on how many miles left, not focus on pace and to solely focus on taking in the world around you.  I think my nerves kick in because so much effort goes into preparing for the long run..the mental aspect, the water placement, the GU, the weather…and then there’s the thought of ‘after ALL this preparation, what if I can’t do it or my legs just feel terrible’.  There are days when I am rested yet my legs still feel horrible and then there are other days where I already worked out and yet my legs feel great.  It seems like I can never control how my legs are going to feel and that uncontrollable piece is scary especially when your about to conquer lots of miles.  I guess when you put so much effort into preparing for something, it’s natural to be nervous.  Nervous that the plan that is prepped and set in place could potentially fall through.  And the craziest part of all, is most of the time, it all works out..yet I still always get those nerves.  And even if it happened to not be my day for a long run, there are plenty of other days to try again! Thankfully last Saturday was my day and I had a great run at a solid pace 🙂

My legs were surprisingly not too sore on Sunday so I was able to get in a good yoga session and Crossfit workout.  As for Monday, I wasn’t sore but certainly not ready to take on the 100 burpees that they had on the agenda. No thank you!  I did a nice evening shake out run and a bike ride instead. By Thursday, my legs were definitely ready to rest up and thankfully my Compex muscle stimulation came in the mail just when I needed it the most! image I did not hesitate to use it! I hooked it right up to my hamstrings and let it do its thing! It certainly worked its magic because my legs felt great for Saturday’s (yesterday’s) 15 miler! image It is crazy that ‘scaling back’ this week means a 15 mile run.  A month ago 15 miles would have been my longest run in history and now it doesn’t seem so long.  It could of been because my wonderful mom jumped in and ran the last 5 miles with me to take my mind off that last leg!

I had to get to afternoon party but I certainly did not skip on a post-long run ice bath in my neighbors pool, a nice oatmeal cereal with fruit and nuts, and a quick stim session. image image

Next up…the 20 miler.  Nothing like kicking off the 4th of July with a light run 😉

Before I end this post, I have to show you all another accomplishment that went down this week…

image

 I successfully managed to create homemade spring rolls!  I used Brown Rice paper (soaked in warm water) and filled them with sliced cucumbers, carrots, romaine lettuce, avocado, kelp noodles, shrimp and a drizzle of homemade peanut sauce.  I could use a bit more work on my rolling skills but all in all, they came out great…and half the price of what I would pay at a sushi restaurant.

ONE MORE THING…my Timehop app reminded me that exactly 3 years ago I ran my first half marathon!

image

Wow. It is crazy to think about how much has changed/happened over these past 3 years.  I have grown in so many ways.  In those 3 years, I ran 14 more half marathons, earned my Masters Degree, started my teaching career,  started Crossfit and am now training/3 weeks away from my first marathon…oh and met an incredibly amazing person that puts a smile on my face everyday 🙂