Thursday, March 26, 2015

Trust Fall


When I was in high school, about 20 years ago, I was in Drama Club.  For those who know me, this is not a shock.  I’m loud.  Wicked loud. I’m loud enough to overcome my lack of dramatic talent.

Regardless, talent or no, we used to do this team building activity called a trust fall.  This is where you would just fall backwards and trust the people behind you to catch you.

Now, in most situations, this is not a dangerous event.  Of course, this was high school, so in theory I was asking a bunch of teenagers to catch me.  Sketchy.

I never could perform those trust falls.  Not one.

Trust. I guess one would argue that perhaps I just did not trust enough.  They might say I have trust issues.  But I argue no, that was not the issue at all.

I trusted myself not to fall.

I still do to this day.

It's the end of March, and that means it’s the most celebrated time of year in Richmond.

It is the season of Spring Running.   At least some portion of my friends are out knocking back miles for Boston, while the rest of them are out training for the little 10K that takes over the city every year.

The 10K will be talked about at Water coolers, Break rooms, Nurses Stations, Starbucks and two hundred other places.  The question, “Are you running?” will be asked of me personally at least 50 times in the next thirty six hours.

I am. But, I hesitated to run it this year.

See, a few years ago I had my “The Best Day Ever” at this 10K, and I always wonder if I will possibly beat that time again.  It would be disappointing to try and fail.

But then again...

My advice to the runner getting prepared to race any distance is to trust yourself.  Trust your training, trust your decision to go ahead with the insanity of running a specific distance as fast as you can, trust your race plan.  Trust your race plan, and STICK TO IT, even when if for some reason it feels easy in mile 1.

Most of all trust the inner voice of reason.  This is not to be confused with the inner voice of doubt.

The voice of doubt tells you that your goals are unachievable..  It may even go as far as to say that you should give up running all together, and take up a new hobby.  Suggestions may include shuffleboard or curling.

The voice of reason tells you to read books written by Olympians,  marathoners, Moms who run, and Guys who run 500 miles a month.   The sensible voice says, “listen to the stories your friends tell you with a critical ear, question the sources of advice on the Internet, edit, listen, and do not follow blindly”.

The voice of reason says if you run your training runs at X pace, there is no reason to question your race pace.

That’s also the voice of reason that says if you run your training runs at X pace, there is no reason to believe you’re suddenly going to be minutes per mile faster on race day.

The voice of reason reminds you, this is not a 5K.  Unless it’s a 5K.

The voice of reason tells us to run the race we trained to run.

And most of all, the voice of reason says to heed the bell.

Heed the bell.  

In high school there are bells for everything.  Alarms to wake you, bells to tell you when to enter the halls, when you have five minutes until class starts, when class is over, when you better be in class again.  Bells. For. Everything.

Some of the best advice I ever got was from a teacher in 9th grade who advised us to heed the bell.  She said, "if you’re ever on a date, and things get to the point when you start to over think a ‘thing’, that’s the bell in your mind saying to put on the brakes".

“Heed the bell” she harped in her rich southern drawl.

I took that advice to heart, and apply it to many things in my life.  From dating in high school 20odd years ago, to riding the Metro to Anacostia.  I know it is wise to listen to the bell.  A few times I have over ridden it have had disastrous consequences.  See above note about Anacostia Metro Stations.

So when I say Heed The Bell, this is not me advising you to quit on race day.  This is me advising you race smart.

The bell might tell you to walk a water stop at mile 3 because there are cups everywhere and it’s a bit dodgy.  Go ahead and drink while you’re at it.

The bell might tell you to sip from your bottle, even though you’re not thirsty.

A bell might tell you to TAKE THE GUMMI BEARS from the volunteer.

The bell might tell you UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO YOU TAKE THE GUMMI BEARS from the volunteer.

A bell might tell you to fall in beside someone who seems to be running the right pace, even if it feels slow.

Your bell might tell you to push yourself to hang with someone through a mentally challenging part of the course.

Regardless of what happens on race day, listen to the most important runner on the course.  That’s you, incase you wondered. Listen and believe in that person. They knew what they were doing when y’all signed up for the race. That runner was there for every step of training. No one else but YOU really knows what you feel like.

And that’s what I will have to do on Saturday when I get up and go for a run with my 30,000 BRFs.  I have to listen.

I have to Trust myself not to fall.

~ savor the run ~

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

waterproof mascara


I never heard anyone warn me about what it would be like as a nurse. I think they talked a bit, but I didn’t hear what they were saying.

Maybe if I’d read more, or studied harder in school, I would have known...?
Or
Maybe if I’d asked more nurses what I was getting into...?
Or more carefully picked my job...?

I never remember hearing anyone say that some days you will walk on air and own the universe.  Or that some days you will be part of the care team and other days you will feel like the only member of the care team.

I remember seasoned nurses talk about that deeply satisfying moment of being part of the team, or the bone crushing frustration of looking at a completely detached physician as he treats the patient like a pile of symptoms. But I didn’t hear them.

No one ever managed to communicate that sometimes the unit would be so full of total care patients that the Patient Care Techs would be running ragged and no nurses would be able to help each other. And certainly no one ever said that those are always the days where one of your patients will start circling the drain at 5 pm. Or that when you have 4 patients and one of them has a Lumbar Drain that needs draining Q1hr and it’s like watching GRASS GROW as it drips into the bag BUT YOU HAVE TO PAY EXTREMELY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THAT GRASS or YOU WILL KILL THE PATIENT that it would be excruciatingly frustrating to watch all your other patient’s meds get behind. But there are days like that.

In my entire time in nursing school, no one ever verbalized what it would feel like to be a nurse. That the emotions would sometimes be more draining than the 12 miles of walking and 2 tons of lifting that sometimes happens on a day at the Office. The emotional weight drags you into a black hole.

My professors were remiss. They never said that FROM NOW ON you must wear waterproof mascara, because you NEVER KNOW what will happen on your shift. There’s no telling which days will be regular days, and which days will be days where you hold the hand of your favorite patient while the MD tells her that the weakness in her body is cancer.  That there will be a moment in that conversation when she realizes what he is saying. She is leaving her husband. She doesn’t have much time. That they don’t know. That she needs to plan for what will happen after she is dead. That she is sick. They can’t. They can’t tell you what it will feel like when that patient grabs yours arms desperately and wraps them around her body while he continues to talk, or what her bones will feel like through her skin.

There is no way to warn you that her tears will make your uniform salty or that she will shake and shake with shame and fear after he leaves. That the words will stick in your throat when she gasps out the question, "But GBA...What does this mean?"

No one ever told me that there would be days when I would leave a patients room with mascara dripping down my cheeks.

They never warned me.  And while I wish I could tell the new nurses entering this field that the shared pain and suffering will be OK and WORTH IT and that the good days will outnumber the hard, and that IT IS OK TO CRY.... I can’t.

I can’t tell you, and even if I could, you wouldn’t hear me.

Just as I never could hear them.

Until now.

I think I'll go for a run.

~ respect the distance ~

Friday, March 20, 2015

Speed Work:Work Day


Training and being a nurse requires creativity. I’m coming to appreciate that more and more. This week though, I’m worried I may have crossed a threshold between Creativity and CraZy.

At least once a week I get up at 0425 to go catch a run down town. I run with a pack of badass mother (runn)ers who charge through the city like they’re being  chased by a bear.

But really they’re just being chased by me, because I am dead ass last.  Which is really a little cruel because I was running a 7something the other day and still f’ing dead ass last.

That said, I’m getting faster and part of that I attribute to my creativity in training.

~hypoxia – the birthplace of innovation and creativity ~

Y’all know that I started using the stairs exclusively in December of last year in an effort to strengthen my glutes? Well, some of my coworkers are also embracing the stairs...  only my “one to two flights a day” and sometimes “a random timed sprint” wasn’t enough for them. They started skipping lunches, or taking about 3 minutes every hour (it’s literally three minutes total) to walk down to Ground level and do lunges up to level 6.

Over this weekend we went up another level, and found that we were huffing about 4 - 6 flights in the course of a day.  It’s reasonably easy to leave your patients in the care of another nurse for 3 minutes so you can hit the stairs at the top of the hour, and my coworkers are a bunch of  badasses who think that’s a genius idea.

Add those stairs to the 5-7 miles of walking during our regular job, and you quickly realize that these intervals are becoming a legit workout.

So let me clarify that the bada**es I work with are FREAKING galactic.

And late in this week... “the ante” was severely “upped”.

One of my corworkers in particular, The Gazelle, took the pride I expressed in my badass time of 57.3 seconds for 12 flights of stairs as a challenge. She is literally one of the most graceful people I've met. 

Me next to her is like...
Me.

My Co-Workers on the stairs
well. 

basically...

imagine a footrace between a Gazelle versus Barney Rubble?

That's us.

“Gauntlet Down”, she said.

And so, the 6 foot tall beauty I work with set about kicking my a**.

And she did. She beat my personal best by 4 seconds.

FOUR.

I did not imagine shaving off four seconds, but because I am an idiot who can be baited into almost anything athletic, especially by a younger hotter woman, I went ahead and asked her to sprint with me.  I knew I could not beat her, but I hoped like hell that if I used her for a rabbit I would run faster.

And I imagined that if she had me chasing her, she would run faster too.

So... at the beginning of our lunch break we walked down to the ground floor and waited until we heard no one else on the stairs.

It was quiet. We were giggling a little at our ridiculousness. Because let’s be clear. This was level 10 ridiculousness.

And it was epic.

On your mark... that was the longest 12 flights of stairs in my life... I wanted to die. When I got to the top my legs were shaking and I leaned against a wall. And then sat on the stairs. And saw spots...

We made some CODE BLUE jokes.

And I chuckled because I have never felt closer to having a Code called on me than I did in that moment... or I would have chuckled, but I couldn’t breath. Or move. Or think.

But aside from all that, it was wicked fun. ~craZy~

I did not take off 4 seconds. I took off 7.3 seconds. 

Of course, what happened next is exactly what you’re all imagining. I was still gasping (with pleasure?) from an intense 50 seconds when I rounded on my patients... And a family member wanted a complete explanation of Acute Kidney Failure... or something like that...  

uh

“Well...(gasp).... the physiology (breathe Ginny breathe) of the Kidney (*air*) is built around (omg) the idea ...” and so on and so forth. Eventually my heart rate normalized and I wasn’t shaking anymore and I was able to give him a solid answer.

And he didn’t seem bothered at all that his family member’s nurse was a bit, shall we say, breathy?

For the record let me be clear – my companions smoked me and ran it in :42...

And you know what I’m thinking?  I’m thinking that my work day speed work is a legit.  Yes, it’s 4 minutes of intense cardio in 13 hours, but it’s a well needed mental break, a blast of endorphins, and if nothing else, my HR is elevated for 10 minutes an hour for 4 hours a day.

50 seconds is going to be hard to beat. I will have to work hard to get a new PR.  And I WILL work hard to get a new PR, even though I know that when I’m racing the Gazelle I will STILL be dead ass last.

~savor the run~

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Real Runners Believe


Am I a running snob?

Am I one of Those People?

Recently I was talking to The (washed-up) Mayor and he said something that really startled me...

He implied that he was not fast enough to be considered in the same league as me and my running peeps.

Um, WTF? That’s insane.

Are there some sick athletes among us? Hellz to the Yeah.
Do I consider myself one of them? Not really.
Does speed define one's BadAssery? B*tch Please.

I’m just a runner who runs for the love of the sport. I am not particularly athletic. In fact, I was once told that what I Lack in Speed, I make up for in my expertise on the "Running Psyche". 

I’m a run Guru; I’m not a BQ.
But yeah, I'm a Galactic BadAss and I OWN THAT SH*T.

Still, though, when he pointed out that he wasn’t as fast or as athletic as the running crew I chase every week, and that he wasn't a "runner" like me, it made me question whether or not I come off as a running snob or something.

Do I? Am I the runner girl version of Draco Malfoy? Am I coming off as an elitist?

I hope not, because if I am, I have not represented myself very well lately.

My personal belief is deep rooted in the idea that for every runner there is a (race distance)(trail)(non-race)(route) that will meet their particular needs. That is one of the things that makes running SO great.

Anyone can find a way to make this sport THEIR own personal FLAVOR. It just happens that right now my flavor is the kind that comes with wizards and a coffee shop.

Of course, this is a running blog. I love running. I could wax poetic about why running is the Cat’s Meow all day long.
 For years.
 I have, in fact, essentially done that. 
               For years.

When he said it my gut response was to say, “But that’s silly. You are athletic. You run for your reasons; I run for mine. That doesn’t make one of us a better runner, it just makes us unique in the way we practice our sport.”

Right?

amiright?

After all - my “running peeps” and I don’t necessarily run for the same reasons, even though we run together. And by together I mean I chase them and they come back for me. Or something like that.

Even runners training together for a BQ are not running for the same reason. Everyone has their own story that makes their BQ dream unique.

All the contemplating made me really consider the Why behind my run these days?

My answer is varied and complex.  Why do I run? Primarily because my children will sell me on ebay if I don’t... and also I’m obsessed with it... and because it’s the “thing that gets me high” instead of illegal drugs. I run so I can drink Starr Hill and not look like I drink Starr Hill. 
Oh, and I like running... even when I hate it. And I like the anticipation when it’s about to start. And I like the feeling of finality when it’s over. And most of the time I like the steps in between where I wrestle with my pace and my self-worth does battle with my self-doubt. 

Ultimately my run is my hobby, my therapy, my therapist, and my drug. ~ like a love sick crack head ~

I run for 10,001 reasons. And maybe they’re similar to yours, and maybe they’re not, but at the core, if you believe you are a runner, then you are a runner.

~savor the run~

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Right Turns


It happened again.

I was praying for the end of my run by mile 2. At 2.68 I had checked my watch at least twice. I started wondering if there was something wrong with me. I showed up to run rogue, and instead I wanted to run away.

Why was running so hard today?

My legs were dead and my heart felt as though it was going to erupt from my chest. At some point I was struggling just to put one foot in front of the other, and all I could say to myself was, “Just try to hang on to Dead Ass Last and you can turn back with the group that is running 5 miles instead of 6+.”

So, I made a new goal.

I would hold on until the turn, and run the shorter distance. In fact, I got a little cocky with the new plan and I ran side by side with Harry Potter for a few strides. He mocked me gently, I pushed back, and then he dropped my sorry a** like I was standing on the street waiting for the bus. I pushed myself to try to catch him again, even though I know I can’t do that. I pushed myself because I knew I would be running the short route.

The pack bifurcated at an intersection.

All I needed to do was turn left and I would be Dead Ass Last behind the shorter distance pack. A right turn ensured an extra mile of torture.

I stood on the dark corner and watched everyone run away from me.

Head lamps and blinkies were the only thing I could see, though I could hear snipits of conversations. “...said so... Shamrock will be... was fine... elbow now... retirement plan...” FYI~ runners are weird

I had about 3 seconds to choose or I was going to find it excruciating to catch either group. Left for 5, Right for 6.2ish.

3

“Run Short!” my mind screamed.

2

I stepped left...

1

...and turned right.

My spirit sighed in relief even as my legs complained. I dug deep and caught the two women who represented the Dead Ass Last crew.

Why (the f*ck) did I turn RIGHT?

Chasing the group for an extra mile sounded like a terrible idea almost as soon as I did it. It became even more terrible sounding as we started the first in a series of climbs. Yet, I was elated by the terrible decision.  As further validation, one of my companions pointed out that being Dead Ass Last at Rogue is still faster than the average runner, by far.

In other words, we don't suck.  

The last climb was horrible, I might add. I almost quit. I dry heaved about a block from the end, and stumbled to a walk. One of the People I Don’t Know grabbed my arm – “NO! You DID NOT RUN THAT HARD TO QUIT NOW.”

I ran side by side with her to the end. And I appreciated every bit of energy she shared with me for those last steps. She was amazing, and positive, and all the things we need to be for each other on days like today.

Some days are harder than others. And in that way, Running once again proves that it is just like Life.

Today I further clarified my personal distinction between the pain of an injury, the pain of general fatigue, and the deeply satisfying pain of a hard run.

Running is hard. If it was easy they would have named it something else.

Like, “napping”.

~ savor the run ~