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.

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Hartford Half Marathon 1:26
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Newburyport Half Marathon – 1:27
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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”

Hello from San Francisco!

Hello from San Francisco!

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As the race gets closer (2 days!!), I find myself more and more excited. I thought I would be super nervous, anxious and a bit stressed but surprisingly I am the exact opposite (for now!) I feel confident, calm and ready to tackle this challenge. The training is done, the work has been put it and at this point all I can do is mentally prepare myself by staying confident, excited and…

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GRATEFUL!

I don’t know what Sunday has in store for me but I do know that I already feel like a winner. Ever since last year’s race where I ended up dropping to the half marathon due to an injury, I have wanted to come back to ‘finish what I started’..and who can pass up a vacation with your best friend from college. Once it was definite my best friend from college was going to be working in San Francisco the same week as the race, I was sold. I had to go back and spend a nice vacation with her and tackle this race injury free and in its entirety.

However, I certainly had my doubts even though my body was healthy and strong.  When I logged on to register, I played around with the idea of just sticking with the half marathon because I truly felt that even if I did register for the marathon, I would just end up switching back over to the half simply because I was scared. I was scared of those high mileage runs in marathon training. I don’t know what it was about the thought of them that just made me scared and convinced I was incapable of doing them. I ended up fighting my first fear and registered for the full. My game plan was to just continue my training after the Boston Run to Remember Half Marathon at the end of May. However, I took a wee off from running after the race and focused on Crossfit. I had a 14 miler planned for the weekend after the race but I wasn’t mentally ready to get back to running. Once I skipped that 14 miler, the mental game really hit hard. I was convinced this whole marathon thing wasn’t going to happen. Not only was I already feeling defeated by the fear of those long runs but I was already bailing out on my first real long run of official marathon training.

8 weeks later from that Sunday that I skipped my 14 miler and was convinced the marathon was not going to happen, I am in San Francisco ready to take on the big 26.2.  So yes, I already feel like a winner before even making it to the start line simply because I conquered my biggest of this whole thing…the training.

Having competed in sports and races all my life, I have accomplished many things I am proud of, but accomplishing this training is definitely one of the biggest accomplishments of them all. I really owe it to a couple amazing females at my Crossfit box. I watched in amazement as they trained for the Boston marathon this past winter. They ran long runs on treadmills, on snowy roads and in the bitter cold weather. I just couldn’t believe it. Not only did 16 miles sounds like a scary and unfamiliar number to me, but IN THE SNOW or ON A TREADMILL! That’s like another level of fear right there. I was just so amazed. Every week I was utterly impressed andI admired what they were doing. When they ran Boston, I was proud but mostly jealous! They were achieving something that I so badly wanted to achieve. When I talked to them a couple days after the race they just kept saying, “Trust me Mel, you can do it!.” The more they said it, the more I believed it. And finally I was able to say it too – you’re right, I can do this. I can’t thank them enough for that and I truly believe that their support from the beginning is what allowed me to conquer my fear and is why I am doing this.

..I think this whole taper thing is also getting me excited for the race. Hell, I just want to workout! Taper week will forever the hardest training week for me. I am someone who just loves to workout and exercise. Whether it be the adrenaline from Crossfit, the relaxation from yoga or the ability to just think and sweat on a long run…exercise is my way of keeping me relaxed and stress free. Of course there are bad workouts that just fuel frustration and stress but good or bad, there is no better feeling than finishing up a workout.

Saturday was my last Crossfit workout before the marathon, Sunday I did a 10 miler and so far while I have been in San Francisco, I did a beautiful shakeout run along the pier..

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..and some great yoga classes!

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I wholeheartedly believe in the taper process and I know my body will be thankful for doing it come Sunday, but it’s no easy task!

On the plus side of this tapering, I get to relax and just enjoy my beautiful surroundings here in San Francisco!

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Off to the Expo!  Everyone have a great day 🙂