It's supposed to feel like that

I have a confession.

After I finished the marathon last fall, it took me almost a day and a half to appreciate my accomplishment. The first and strongest emotion I felt after I finished? Disappointment.

I was disappointed in myself. 

After finishing my first marathon.

Not the usual reaction people have, but I couldn't get that lingering disappointment out of my mind. For weeks afterward, when people congratulated me, I always felt a bit bashful, not quite sure why they thought what I had done was a big deal. I didn't feel like I lived up to my expectations for myself, and didn't feel like I had done a good enough job.


Because I had taken walk breaks (although I always reminded myself that they were really fast walk breaks, and my walking was, at most points, faster than my actual running.) And because I had hit a wall. Around mile 16 or 17...or 18.... it got really unpleasant. And I just assumed that meant I hadn't trained hard enough, that I hadn't done enough to prepare myself. And maybe it was, to a degree. I had been beating myself up for hitting the ubiquitous wall. In my first marathon. After about five months of training. I didn't realize how ridiculous I was being until after the NYC Half in March. For the half, I stepped up my training, and absolutely would not let myself take any walk breaks. And yet, around mile 10, things got pretty difficult and I felt like I was falling apart mentally for the last few miles. 

Again, for a couple of weeks afterward, I had this nagging little inner voice that kept going over what it could have been that had gone wrong, when I thought that I had done so much of my training right. How had I managed to hit the wall yet again?

And then it dawned on me. It's supposed to feel like that. 

The wall is not the barrier to what you want. The wall is what you want - to find it, to push yourself up against it, and to overcome it. I had come from a place of such self doubt last spring, and I thought that all of a sudden, now that I had finished, and accomplished my goals, that doubt would dissipate. But it doesn't work that way, and that's the beauty of the marathon. That wall is always going to be there, and odds are pretty good that physically, you'll hit it more often than not. But knowing how to expect it, understand it, and embrace it, it seems, is the real challenge. It's not really something you can train for, or even prepare for - you just have to experience it, let it happen, and use those experiences to build your own corporeal weapon of destruction. 

I imagine it's the closest possible experience to being a Transformer. 

And as I realized this, it dawned on me how much more I could really push myself. Yes, I had taken on some decent challenges last year. Yeah, I did a pretty good job. But that nagging feeling of disappointment made me realize that I had so much more. Not just in races, but in my training - every day - that I had been okay with mediocrity in whatever capacities in which I defined it. 

I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's disquieting, realizing just how much I let excuses dictate the choices I make. And it's remarkably uncomfortable sitting in a constant state of choice - conscious knowledge of the easier route suddenly makes it less appealing, but fear and uncertainty hold me back from the challenge. 

And it's not a choice you make that's one and done. Those choices present themselves every day, all the time. And the only way to break through that wall is to hit it, over and over, and know exactly how strong you must be to get through it.

I'd hit that.


Patience, Grasshopper

I think TLC needs a new reality show called American Pickers: Curbs of New York. Curb finds are a secret gem of living in the city, because people will toss all sorts of things out that are in remarkably good condition and ripe for young, broke, 20-somethings to haul home and pretend that they didn't just pull it out of someone else's trash. I'm willing to bet that every New York apartment (at least the ones without doormen) has a minimum of two curb finds being used as regular furniture. And odds are you can't tell which ones they are.

Last Friday, Christian was sick of my moping around and whining about my foot so he packed up some adult beverages in a thermos and dragged me to the park a couple blocks from our apartment. After a much-needed bottle of wine and some vitamin D (and a pretty impressive tree-climbing expedition for him) we headed home. And came across the GREATEST CURB FIND EVER. 

An exercise bike.

Zoe is enthralled with this new torture device.
It's not too big and completely silent - perfect for our tiny apartment. Just what I needed to get back into an exercise routine.

I definitely didn't expect my first few workouts on it to be so difficult. At this point in my life, I'm in decent aerobic shape, so I thought  - half an hour on the bike, bump up a couple levels, no big deal, right?


I have zero experience with bike riding, stationary or otherwise, and it was a huge shock to me how much slack I needed to cut myself to start working out on this thing. It was pretty humbling, and a very good wake-up call to remind me that I can't just dive right into something and expect to be able to go all out without hurting myself and/or burning out right away. 

Right now I'm building up to 30 minutes a day, and stay mostly at level 1, but I try to throw in a few intervals at level 2 and try to maintain the same RPMs. It's a fantastic workout and I had forgotten how much I enjoy a good workout. Actually, that's a lie - I have never really enjoyed a good workout and I'm pretty sure aliens have taken over my body and convinced me that this fitness thing is fun. Regardless, I think the pity party is over (thank god) and I hope that by the time I can run again, I'll be able to get back to where I was mileage and fitness-wise without too much difficulty. But if not, getting on this bike has reminded me that any sort of meaningful progress and development will take time. It's so hard to be patient with yourself when you want to see results, but it's a good reminder for me that that patience, and that journey, is the most important part.

After all, the freaking bike IS stationary. It's not like it's going to magically take off and start moving forward if I pedal hard enough. So yes, the journey...


Giveaway winner and the Foot.

First off, the fun stuff: The winner of the Words to Sweat By™ giveaway is Emily! Congrats!!!

Second, the not-so-fun stuff. I've been having some ankle pain since mid-February when I was training for the NYC Half. It would show up about halfway through my long runs and by the end of 10 or 12 miles, my right foot seemed a little swollen. I've had a couple ankle sprains on that foot and it felt like the joints were a little loose, so I RICE'd it up  and hoped it would go away. It didn't, and actually felt like it got worse, to the point where I was barely able to put weight on it. I continued to RICE and took some time off from running after the half, but the pain never fully subsided. After last weekend's disastrous Scotland 10k, where I was in sufficient pain to merit a number of walk breaks and grimaces, and saw splits on my watch that I haven't seen since my run/walk days, I decided that it was more than just a tendonitis issue, which was my previous hypothesis. I had an inkling in the back of my mind that it might be a stress fracture because of the nature of the pain, but I didn't think I had done all that much to injure myself to that degree. I've always been cautious about my mileage increases and pay pretty good attention to my body, but I guess I got overzealous with training for the half, making my goal time, and getting faster that I discarded that little voice in the back of my mind that kept reminding me to rein it in a little and not get overexcited. 

If you saw my ridiculous/upset posts on facebook yesterday, you know that I was significantly more upset than I thought I would be about the diagnosis (and the terrible fail of a doctor I saw). It hit home how much I have really come to enjoy running - something I never thought I would say in a million years. So I think that this injury has a definite silver lining: it has shown me how important having physical activity is in my life, and I know that once I'm cleared to run again it will become significantly more prioritized. I guess that sometimes we have to have something taken from us to realize how valuable it is, but I know that I'm going to definitely not take my physical conditioning that I've built up in the last year for granted. Besides, I have to fit into a wedding dress in six (!!!!) months so I can't let myself go too much. So on that note, here is a picture of a cat with cheese on its face. Cause that's about how I feel today. 


Words to Sweat By™ giveaway!

I'm so excited to announce the first Journey to the Center of Manhattan blog giveaway!

The amazing people at Words to Sweat By have generously agreed to give the winner her choice of either the "Healthy. Strong. Happy" and "Exert. Hydrate. Repeat" mantra tees.

A little bit about Words to Sweat By:

For those who are lacking that exercise high, or are left craving the workout rush, Words to Sweat by™ helps us reach out, read it, and feel the burn! With catchy mantras such as ‘There will be no jiggle in my wiggle,’  Carpe Dumbbells’ and ‘Squat is a four-letter word,’ printed on each towel in colorful appliqu├ęs, you will never be short on workout fuel or fitness fashion.

The Words to Sweat by mantras help remind people why they work hard in their quest to stay healthy in a simple, useful way and because the towels are one-size-fits-all, they’re great for active people at every stage from the workout novice to the hard-core athlete.

Popular Words to Sweat by mantras are also offered as t-shirts, reusable snack bags, key chains, and notecards.

In order to enter, you must "Like" Words to Sweat By on facebook and leave a blog comment here with your favorite workout mantra.

You can also retweet this info once a day for an extra entry - just leave a comment below each day you retweet it. (I can be found on twitter @em_runs_mnhtn)

A winner will be chosen at random on the evening of Wednesday, April 11th! Good luck!