I wrote a couple years ago about my five-minute journal practice. It’s a morning check in (with optional evening one) that’s short enough not to be too burdensome every day. (Confession: I don’t do it every day.)
I made the changes in response to an interview I heard with Evie Serventi on the RunnersConnect podcast. She is a sports psychologist and has her clients do a number of things to get mentally prepared for races. One is to have them check in with themselves each day and write down how they feel physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
I decided this is something worth doing for me. I’m a 3 on the Enneagram, and it’s easy for that type to get focused onproductivity and achievement, to the point that we lose touch with our own inner life.
So here is my new five minute journal. (It still only takes about five minutes!)
Been wearing my running shoes around the house as I rest and recover.
This Saturday I’m signed up to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon here in DC. It will be my third time running it.
Or… it could be my third time.
It might be?
I’m having trouble with the verbs here, because I’m not sure whether I’ll be at the start line. And if I get to the start line, will I get to the finish line?
Last Tuesday I went out for a six-mile run. Half a mile in, I started to feel a dull ache in my shin, disturbingly similar to the sensation I got eighteen months ago.
Back then, I didn’t know what it was, but little aches and pains happen all the time in running, so I kept going. I logged at least another 25 miles before I ultimately got diagnosed with my tibial stress fracture.
But when you know better, you do better. Last Tuesday I stopped immediately, walked slowly home, and haven’t hit the pavement since. I’ve been icing and rolling, and I’ve done two pool runs (a great non-weight-bearing activity) and a little strength training, but that’s it. I need to rest it if I have any hope of running RnR on Saturday.
It’s an example of the hard thing being the easy thing. It’s really hard for me to put my training on hold and rest, when I really want to run, try it out, or do the hop test to see how things are healing. But the harder thing in the short term is much easier than taking 6-8 weeks off because I couldn’t leave well enough alone.
So I’m doing all the good things I know to do.
But it may still not be enough. I will find out tomorrow, when I go for a test run. And even if tomorrow goes well, 13.1 on Saturday might still be too much.
I was training for a personal record, a PR. Now I’m hoping I don’t get a DNS or DNF–did not start/finish. I’ve had a few DNS’s, most of them when I was injured. I’ve never had a DNF.
Experiences like this can bring to light deep spiritual clutter we didn’t know we had. As a pastor and spiritual companion for all kinds of people, I’ve spent a lot of time with the question, “What did I do to deserve this?” Most of the time, there’s nothing the person did. I don’t believe that if we behave well we’ll get rewarded with a cancer-free life. Kindness to animals or paying our taxes on time doesn’t inoculate us from a job loss or a divorce.
Yet I think deep down, many of us do believe we are rewarded or punished based on our actions. We just don’t realize we believe it until something happens to us and we start casting about for explanations, or maintaining our innocence.
Eighteen months ago, I did a lot of things wrong. It was a perfect storm of ignorance, slightly worn out shoes, too many miles, and cambered streets. So yes–sometimes we suffer as a result of our actions. No denying that.
This time, I didn’t do anything “wrong” in my training. I’ve gone over it all in my mind and am fairly confident I didn’t make any egregious errors. Besides, I came back from an injury, stayed injury free, and ran two half marathons, a marathon (which I PRed) and a Ragnar relay. That’s a success!
Rather than be comforted by the fact that I did everything right, it annoys me that I may be injured anyway. (My annoyance is compounded by mildly injured runners all over the Internet who do stupid things, and yet somehow their bodies let them get away with it more than mine seems to.)
But ultimately, what does any of that matter? Would the fact that I did everything right change anything? Tomorrow’s outcome is gonna be what it is. Sometimes stuff just happens. Things go down that are out of our control.
I hate this, by the way. But it’s reality. I study and write about improv, not because it comes naturally to me, but because it doesn’t–I fight the unforeseen every step of the way, and denial + bargaining is a favorite tool. I did everything right, universe! Shouldn’t that count for something?
No, it doesn’t count for anything.
The only thing that matters in the end is what we do with the stuff life hands us. Where is the Yes-And? That is my question, or will be, if tomorrow doesn’t go well.
If RnR is off, I get to attend a workshop on Civic Engagement with some friends.
Instead of the sprint triathlon in May, I’ll sign up for the aquabike (which sounds like a fun contraption but is just a swim + bike event).
And I’ll take several weeks off, and I’ll start over. Again.
You may have heard that “Defund Planned Parenthood” protests are in the works for February 11. Planned Parenthood has asked supporters not to counter-protest, but to stand with them through donations and other shows of assistance.
I’ve gotten together with a group of friends who know one another primarily through running. We’re showing our love for Planned Parenthood by asking people to sponsor us as we run purposeful miles over the next couple of weeks. Some of us are scheduling a training run especially for this purpose. Others are doing a Valentine’s race the weekend of the protests–I’ll be doing the Love the Run You’re With 5K, and trying for a PR (because why not?).
We stand with Planned Parenthood, and we run for Planned Parenthood.
I’ll be running in honor of my friend Kelly Gregory, who has been kicking cancer’s butt for five years. She has written many times that Planned Parenthood saved her life, and that’s no exaggeration. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s a fierce dame. If I were cancer, I wouldn’t want to cross Kelly Gregory.)
Muffin Maven is back in action! We had some house guests this weekend for the Women’s March on Washington, and I decided to make these to grab and go. Then Robert ended up making pancakes, which will always win out over muffins. But these are quickly disappearing too.
The march was a profound and positive experience. The logistics were a bit crazy, mainly because the turnout way exceeded expectations. Which I love.
I had many friends who wanted to march in DC and couldn’t–though many of them marched elsewhere–so at their request I wrote their names on my stole. More than 100 by the time it was said and done.
Why did I march, along with some 3 million women, men and children, in more than 600 events spanning all seven continents? Well, contrary to what people on Twitter might say, it wasn’t sour grapes over the fact that my preferred candidate lost. I’ve experienced that plenty of times–many of us have–and we didn’t take to the streets over it.
Yes, I have profound disagreements with the incoming administration’s stand on any number of things, and I plan to resist attempts to roll back our progress on health care, climate change, civil and reproductive rights, and any number of other issues.
But it’s much deeper than that. Mr. Trump could match me issue-for-issue and I would still think he is catastrophically unfit to be president. His narcissistic personality, dearth of curiosity, disdain for science and basic facts, and lack of humility make him dangerous, I believe. As I often say when people try to reduce this to partisan squabbling, “This Ain’t Mitt Romney.”
Plus he’s mean.
If you see it similarly, I don’t need to say any more. If you don’t, no recounting of his many statements will change your mind.
Please enjoy the muffins though; they’re good, and have no partisan ingredients whatsoever!
These muffins are easy as can be–the only tricky part is putting a dollop of jam in the half-filled muffin cups, then covering it with the rest of the batter. So, not really tricky at all. I used leftover strawberry refrigerator jam we made and froze over the summer.
RESISTANCE IS FRUITFUL MUFFINS
(from the Williams-Sonoma Muffin cookbook, where they are called Jam-Filled Muffins)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/4 cups sour cream
1/3 – 1/2 cup jelly or jam
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare 12 muffin cups with spray or paper cups.
In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another bowl, whisk melted butter, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts, and sour cream until smooth.
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients and stir until just moistened. Batter will be slightly lumpy. Do not overmix.
Spoon a small helping of batter into each muffin cup–enough to coat the bottom. Then add a heaping teaspoon of jam/jelly to the center of each muffin. Cover with remaining batter.
Bake until golden and springy to the touch, about 20-25 minutes. Let cool on a rack for 5 minutes, then unmold and cool further.
Last year, my friend Jen suggested a bunch of us do the Bermuda Triangle Challenge for our birthdays (a milestone year for a few of us). I’m not sure whether she really expected anyone to take her up on the idea, but eight of us ended up making the trip this past weekend–four members of Springfield Moms RUN This Town; another running/triathlon friend, Marianne; and three spouses, including Robert. Four of us went for the full challenge, which is a one mile run, 10K run, and half marathon on successive days.
Two of us ran the half marathon only: Sophie, who is currently 18 weeks pregnant, and yours truly, whose body continues to reward me for not running two days in a row (exception made for Ragnar Relays). Plus, I wanted some sleeping-in mornings. Marianne was going to do the full challenge but her knee was talking to her after the 10K, so she wisely took it easy and went swimming instead. I told you she was a triathlete!
We all had a blast, and if you have the inclination and means to do an international race, this is one for your bucket list.
We did not throw away our shot!
I blame the song “Kokomo” for my ignorance of Bermuda’s location–it is nowhere near the Caribbean, nor any other island, really. But it’s super accessible from the East Coast. Bermuda is an easy country to visit and navigate. The people are warm and helpful and buses and taxis are plentiful. Businesses take US currency, so logistics are a breeze, and even in the off season, there’s plenty of stuff to do, or beaches on which to lounge and stroll if you don’t want to do much. Robert was super bummed that he was not able to scuba with Jen’s husband Fred because of some fleeting chest congestion. But the guys all went snorkeling on Sunday and on Monday and saw tons of colorful fish, old cannons, and a gigantic elusive grouper fish that became the inside joke of the weekend.
Some people have strange reactions to so-called runcations. Why would you want to run on a trip like this? Why exert yourself so much? Sounds stressful. Just lie on the beach!
My favorite kind of foot photo.
Well… People should do what makes them happy. But I think runcations can be more relaxing than trips in which you cram a bunch of sightseeing into a few days. Our group was up early each morning to run, which meant afternoons were for relaxing, and evenings were festive but finished up relatively early.
On a runcation, you may end up at the grocery store for a favorite pre-race snack or sunscreen, which gives you a glimpse of a place’s local culture. And hey. Running burns calories, so you can indulge in food and beverages without coming home with 10 extra pounds. (More like 5.)
Most importantly, there’s nothing quite like seeing a place through the power of your own two feet. No, you can’t tick off as many sites as you do from a bus or on a hectic tour, but you see them in a deeper way. You see and smell flowers:
You get a good look at real local living, like homes…
Businesses… (I’ve always loved this verse)
Even cemeteries. Running by cemeteries always reminds me to embrace the experience of running as the gift it is. I get to do this:
Better to be running past it than buried in it!
And you get a flavor for the local population, at water stops and along the course. The crowd support was fantastic all weekend. People sat in lawn chairs in their front yards, clapped, and offered high fives and many a “Well done!,” my new favorite term of encouragement. I love when races put the runners’ names on the bibs, and here, people actually used them. There’s something powerful about total strangers cheering for you by name.
As for the half marathon–it was an excellent race. Spectacular course, excellent support, great logistics (mostly).
We stayed at the official run hotel, which meant we ran into legend Bart Yasso the morning of the race. He complimented us on our skirts. But really, how could he not:
These are Sparkle Skirts, and I do believe we sold a few out on the course.
The start/finish line was modest but with all the amenities, including actual flush toilets (and soft drinks at the end, along with the traditional Gatorade and water–our group was elated). I had plenty of time to pee twice before the race, which is about right for me.
It was a beautiful morning:
Sporting our MRTT “Be Amazing” shirts! We got a lot of attention for them.
Had time for a photo with the town crier, who also led us in a moment of silence for a fallen runner whose name I didn’t catch.
Then we were off!
This is my fifth half marathon, and I wasn’t running for time. I’m trying for a personal best (PR) at the Rock n Roll DC in March, but for this one we all wanted to be leisurely, take in the scenery and get lots of pictures:
Lots of mirrors for driveway visibility on these little streets. Couldn’t resist this one.
Temps were in the 60s, but the ocean breeze kept things pretty comfortable. There was also a good bit of shade.
Here was the moment I knew I’d never forget. Crashing surf and party music:
The marathon is a double loop of the half marathon course, and we laughingly wondered when the leader would lap us. It was at mile 10. Mile 10!
I’m notorious for fading out in the latter miles of long races, which is something I’ve been working on. So around mile 11 I decided to take off and see if I could pick up the pace. I was assisted by a nice downhill in that! When I had about .2 left I stopped and waited for the group so we could cross the finish line together. They were only a couple minutes behind me.
At that point our stomachs were all growling. An 8 a.m. start is very civilized–and the 10K the day before started at 9!–but brunch was definitely calling. We passed a froyo place with just a tenth of a mile to go, and I’m now kicking myself that we didn’t go in to get some, because that would have been an awesome finish line photo. But it was still pretty wonderful. (And there’s video!)
I mentioned that the logistics were mostly great. The big buzzkill was that they ran out of half marathon medals. That was a bummer. We were all looking forward to medal photos on the beach. And Jen, Stephanie and Todd (Sophie’s husband) had completed three races and were supposed to receive four medals, and we’d been laughing about wanting to get a picture of all of them on the “medal rack” in the hotel room (OK it was a tie rack, but still). I never did hear what happened, but they’ll be mailing them to us. Ah well.
Stephanie and Jen are holding teeny pics of our friends Sara and Tish, who were with us in spirit.
Finally, I need to say a big thank you to my mother, who kept the three amigos safe and entertained so Robert and I could get away. We couldn’t have done it without you.