Tunnel Vision

When I was little my Dad would tell me to always try my hardest.  If I came home from school with a C, but I stayed after, got help and did everything I could a C was ok because he knew that I tried my hardest.  Now, if I came home with a C and I was not doing all of those things there would be hell and fury to pay in the form of wood stacking.  This “always try your hardest” has stuck with me throughout my life.  However, lately this has begun to backfire on me.  Apparently, there is such a thing as working out too much.

In the course of re-checking my thyroid, to ensure the meds are working, Doc also checked a bunch of other things too.  One of the things he checked was my CK level which showed that things are not all happy happy joy joy on my insides.  We kind of already knew that given my lackluster performances as of late.  There is no reason why my levels should be this high.  I haven’t been doing anything I deem out of the ordinary, or red lining.   As of right now Docs orders are to take it easy for a while.  Dad laughed when I told him those were Docs orders.  You’ve never done anything half-way.

With all of this in mind I scheduled an ‘exercise playdate’ with a friend for an aerial yoga class.  It is low key enough to be on the ‘allowed’ list of activities and neither of us had ever done it before which meant my brain was going to be happy.  Having never done aerial yoga before I wasn’t sure what to expect.  What I got was an amazing set of super juicy stretches.  Being super flexible sometimes it’s challenging for me to get into specific muscles. The silks enabled me to get into those really hard to reach areas.  It was totally fun, too.

I’ve been on a journey to find happy in working out again.  Maybe this is the way that the Universe is going to help me along that path.


Inflammation: long term vs. short term

When you are an runner with an inflammatory disease (asthma, RA, Crohn’s, etc) you (eventually) accept your limitations or accept the consequences of going into the hospital (or death).  In my case, I am incredibly lucky that I have a supportive pulmonary doc that enables my running rather than put me in a bubble.  While she will draw the line occasionally (see: Spartan Races) overall she supports me.

What does this have to do with running? When you do any kind of workout you create micro tears in your muscles which then get inflamed in order to heal them.  (See video here) The problem is when your body is already inflamed working out has a tendency to make your disease worse.  It’s a vicious circle.  The trick is finding the balance between working out to improve and your disease.

This week I had a very frank discussion with the Wonder Woman of PT.  We’ve been working on fixing some underlying chronic physical issues which. We’ve made so much progress, but I have been noticing as I’ve been ramping up my training for Twisted Fork that I’m already having some pretty massive swelling going on.  I’m not even to the hard weeks yet.  She’s not your typical PT.  She understands the impact of my asthma (inflammation) and allergy shots (more inflammation) combined with the increased impact from training (even more inflammation).  Notice a trend here?

I made her promise me that as we go along that if I start breaking down (beyond the normal level) that could potentially impact my long term running that she would tell me.  The last thing that I want is to sacrifice my long term running for the short term goal of the race.  She wholeheartedly agreed.  We then made some changes to my training plan enabling me to swap out one day a week of running for either swimming (resistance/cardio) and spin (speed work).  The hope is that if we swap one day of running that we might be able to continue to push training  without actually increasing the inflammation in my body.

While I will always envy those people who can throw down massive miles week after week and never experience any issues I know how incredibly lucky I am.  I hold every single mile close.  I am an asthmatic trail runner.   That I will be forever proud of.

Silence can be deafening

“Those who cannot sit in silence have dragons they are wrestling with.” -My Dad

When I was growing up my Dad and I spent a massive amount of time in the woods.  As a kid it was torture.  With bread bags on my feet between two-three pairs of socks we would hike, ski, and log firewood.  I didn’t understand then how it was that he was so happy out there.  Thile smile on his face as we pushed through pristine backcountry snow on cross country skis was almost perverse in my mind.  Was he enjoying torturing me?  As I grew older and wrestled my own dragons I began to realize the wisdom in his words.

IMG_7205I was in a Vetoga class recently that had a dedicated nidra meditation.  For those unfamiliar with it; basically, it’s a super deep guided meditation.  I went to this place in the mountains in my meditation not because I was purposefully going there, but because this was a place and time in those mountains where there was some healing that I had to do.  It happens like that when you meditate whether it be in yoga, running, or hiking.  You go to where the healing must happen.  Sometimes it sneaks up on you and sometimes it rolls through like a military jet flying low to the ground.

Last weekend before ECSUT #TeamCaboose, Batman and I went out to the Uintas.  We hiked up to Trial Lake.  The first real snow of the season had hit the ground.  If you’ve never been in a National Forest it’s quiet.  If you’ve never experienced snow it muffles all of the sounds.  Combine being in a National Forest and snow the silence is absolutely deafening.  It is the most quiet that you may ever experience in your entire lifetime.  If you aren’t comfortable in the silence it can be unsettling.

Now, however, I welcome the silence.  It’s like a warm pair of jammies straight from the dryer.  I call that progress.


Flying and inner peace

Over the years yoga has been in my life.  At my heaviest (200+ pounds) I did yoga. Granted I hid at the back of the class but I did yoga.  At the very beginning I remember how hard just going through Sun Salutation A was.  I huffed and I puffed.  Holding Downward Facing Dog was nearly impossible.  However, there was this feeling I had after every yoga class that I just couldn’t shake.  It’s magical.

Right before my divorce in 2005 I hit my first Sirsasana or headstand.  It was an early Sunday morning class in Annapolis.  We were given time to practice flying.  When I actually got up into it I squealed and then promptly hit the floor.  I remember it like it was yesterday that is how profound it was.   Balance and flying poses are always a tell.  The more out of emotional balance you are the more challenging (if not impossible) they are. I never hit another one.

Over the last year or so I found an organization called Vetoga.  They are an organization created by a former Marine who wanted to share yoga with the veteran community as a way  to deal with stress, PTSD, and other anxieties.   There is something profound about being in a room of people who regardless of service, age or gender are family even if you’ve never met them before.

IMG_3506Then this past summer during a WOD at CrossFit Park City they had us attempting headstands as a precursor to handstand pushups.  From the CrossFit perspective it’s simple: you use your core and you should be able to pop right up into a headstand.  Now as a practitioner of yoga I know better.  It is not as simple as core strength then pop up.  In order to obtain a headstand you have to have inner peace.  Sure, core strength is part of it, but without the inner peace, even momentarily, you will never fly.  Since 2005, I had tried headstand many times, often met with me slamming to the floor in the most ungraceful like thud.  With all of the mountains and clearing of my mind I had had over the summer I figured why not try a headstand.  This was as far as I got, but hey it was progress over the previous 12 years.  While it is not a true Sirsasana which is suppose to be done on forearms, it was still much closer.

A few days ago at Trident CrossFit I was feeling much less pressure.  My internship was over, the paper was almost complete, and a host of other things in my life had fallen into IMG_4218place.  There are still stressors, but I am mentally at peace with the major decisions I have made.  I decided to give it another try.  What’s the worst that could happen?  Sure, I could fall on my face, but I’ve done that plenty in my lifetime.  Then this happened.  Again, I’m not on my forearms, but I’m up and I held it.  This is the truest sign I can have that the path that I have chosen is the right path.

What path is that?  I have decided to go through the Vetoga teacher training.  I have wanted to go through teacher training for many years, but the time was just never right.  Despite being in grad school, despite the stresses from work, despite every reason in the world why I shouldn’t do this, this just feels like the right time.  I don’t handle change well (I know that this comes as a surprise) so the fact that I made this major decision and I am at peace with it means I am on the right path.

I’m very much looking forward to the learning process.  Most of all, though, I’m looking forward to helping others find their moment to fly.  It truly is glorious.

If you want to help me reach my goal, click here, and donate to my teacher training.