#17. Seattle, WA: “Here is now and now is where I wanna be.”

June 23, 2012
Age: 29

Occupation: Key Leader at lululemon athletica
Residence: Chicago, IL
Time since last race: 4 months, 4 days
Conditions: 56-65 degrees, flat for the first half, some hills near the end
Official time: 03:48:53
_______________________________________________ 

Wait, what’s that sound?

I’ve never heard it like this before. I can’t Google it, I can’t repeat it to anyone, I can’t find its definition or use Shazam to identify it. It’s loud in the morning and quiet at night. It’s soothing and sweet like Bon Iver and I could listen all day.

The sound is silence. I’m enjoying every note of its sweet reverie.

Complacent vs. Contentment
When things slow down and there is silence in my life, I am always reflective on my level of appreciation towards it. This usually leads me to realize I’m being complacent (re: an unsettled feeling related to not living my full potential). However this time, I have a contentment like I’ve never known before. I am content with things that I didn’t even know I could have happiness towards and that surprises me everyday. Content meaning I am totally signed up for what’s going on in my life right now: the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful function of the dysfunction.

In very recent years past, I have felt my wheels spinning so fast I can barely keep up. At this moment, I don’t necessarily feel that familiar pulsating rhythm of “do more be better,” but rather just “do” and “be.” None of this means I’ve lost passion or fire, in fact it’s the exact opposite. Where before, my fires were burning down forests and causing mass devastation, they seem to be steady, focused, effective. In what is this contentment, you wonder?

Health, Work, Life and the Seattle Marathon.

This being the last year in my twenties, I’ve somehow created the space to let all my learnings soak in and take shape. For once I’m not DYING to make changes or force things to go my way or convince myself I should be feeling a certain way when I don’t. Happy to recognize challenges and act on them. Happy to enjoy the journey without focusing too much on the destination. For once I am happy to just be.

There have been times in the last couple of months (like sitting around a table, twelve bottles of wine deep at Cafe Sushi laughing with nine of my running girlfriends) that make me want to pause life, float above it, stare at its beauty, protect and cherish each person and each moment.

Friends as Family

If you remember in February, I wasn’t quite feeling this way. I still felt lost and unsure of my footing. I do not know if I can pinpoint the moment my perspective changed, but it did. Maybe it was as simple as a choice, maybe it was something else.

Health
Let’s take a trot back and pick up where we left off after the Austin Marathon. I left out one small detail from the last recap: I ran the whole thing with a stress fracture in my right foot.

I didn’t tell anyone I was in pain that day, in fact, I kept quiet about it still for two weeks after! Once I fessed up to the pain at the beginning of March, I found myself in a walking cast with orders of no physical activity for at least two weeks and no running until pain free, however long that takes.

Silence. Watch as I dramatically crumble to the floor as if my life is over.

I didn’t run for 40 days (insert second dramatic crumble) and by the end of that, I was ready to fly down State St. with a loaded rifle and unleash on anyone in my way. It was bad. I was depressed and I could not shake it. I know, I know, 40 days is not that bad in the grand scheme of things but I didn’t like it one bit. I am a much happier person for my friends, family and especially work if I’ve released a few physically-induced endorphins each day –> shocking.

April was filled with physical therapy and a 30-day yoga challenge that left me so zen’ed out I started doing CrossFit in May. If I had to hear “Now you’re just somebody that I used to know, somebodyyy,” one more time, I swear I was going to lose it! Doing a 30-day yoga challenge has always been something that’s been a bucket list item of mine and I never quite got around to actually making it the full 30 days – except this time. Done and done, moving on to the next challenge: CrossFit.

Silence.

Wait what?! The girl who doesn’t lift weights? Who hates the way she looks when she picks up a two pound dumbbell? Who takes Julie’s weights classes and doesn’t use the weights? Yes, that girl.

Completing the yoga challenge left me thirsty for more. Thirsty for a kind of grit and hard work I’d seen depicted in CrossFit videos and caught glimpses of on TV. At the end of the day, I want to run 26.2 miles as fast as my body is physically capable of completing it and I’m willing to try any number of projects or challenges to get there. I knew that my stress fracture and subsequent plantar fasciitis were a result of a weakness in my body (likely in my hips) and the only remedy for that is to get stronger. However first, I had to get over my 2.5 year old story of, “lifting weights will make me bulky” and just go for it. Turns out, I’m not half bad at a lot of the skills and I LOVE picking up the weights, getting sweaty and pushing myself to do one more box jump or one more burpee. I had a misconception that it was all about lifting the heaviest weights possible and getting shredded to the point of gender confusion but it’s not. It’s quite beautiful, actually.

Me doing some lift I forget the name of. I’ll learn it all eventually…

I started going to CrossFit three times per week for 6 weeks leading up to the Seattle Marathon. Because of my injury, I wasn’t running a lot and I didn’t want to over do it. Between March and June I did one 15 mile run and really kept my paces slow. I gave of myself to the CrossFit experience without judgment and with an open mind. I left for Seattle still unsure of how I felt about it but somewhere in the middle of the race I found myself daydreaming about WOD‘s and noticing that my steps felt light and my hips felt strong. Here’s my promise that I will stick to it through the next race and will evaluate outcomes in October.

Better watch those times get faster!

Work
I used to desperately try to convince myself say that my work will never be who I am, it will always be what I do. I think that was my early 20-something year old way of saying, “I’ll never find passion in my job, it will always be a chore, it will always just be a means to an end.” I tried three different careers I was only slightly interested in because I thought that slight interest could mean full interest if I just worked hard enough. If I just kept trying. Wow have things changed.

When I gave in to myself and recognized that, 1. I can’t hide my passions and 2. they end up taking over every time, I was able to sit and enjoy the silence that comes from not fighting with myself over what I think I “should” be doing and just keep doing what feels right. I sort of feel like around March or April, someone took my shoulders, turned me in the right direction and pushed me forward saying, “now, go this way.” Lindsey? Shenna? Hill? Jacki? Dad? Was it you? Did I do it to myself? Whomever the instigator, I am grateful for everything but mostly the support. Because of this, nine times out of ten I walk to work with such happy anticipation I think something might be wrong with me. I get to wear yoga and running clothes and talk about people development and hang out with athletes and help people live happier more fun lives. Not just sometimes, every single day. EVERYDAY! It’s a contentment I had always hoped existed but wasn’t sure of until now.

I work with these people everyday. It is nothing short of awesome:

Life and the Seattle Marathon

I was about as laid back about this one as I could get. I broke so many of my cardinal rules when it comes to preparation:

  • I didn’t bring any race nutrition/gels with me.
  • I ate fried oysters for lunch and thai food for dinner the night before the race.
  • I tried a gel I have never used before because I couldn’t find the brand I liked.
  • I didn’t have coffee in the morning.
  • I didn’t run for a week before the race and did bikram instead of a shakeout run.

It’s not that I didn’t care, it’s just that it’s mentally exhausting all the time to be so overly prepared and regimented. I wanted to go to Seattle and have fun with my sister (and her fiancé who live there) – check off a list of restaurants I had to try, do fun touristy things, bike around the city, eat Molly Moo’s ice cream and take my picture in front of Pike Place Market while standing in the rain. I just didn’t want to put emphasis on the race.

Bike ride with sister, stop at Gas Works Park:

Pike Place Market in the rain:

Dan and Alicia on top of the Space Needle:

Screw the shakeout run, I’m goin’ to Bikram!

Always a joy, these packet pick-ups. #17 here I am!

Then it was race morning and I was so nervous! You would think after 17 of these I would know what I am getting into. It was emotional driving to the start and walking amidst the other runners. Seeing the Space Needle, taking in my surroundings and questioning whether or not I had paid enough respect to the training time leading up to this race. I spent the first three miles scolding myself. “You didn’t do enough. You didn’t do enough long runs. You didn’t pay enough attention to your diet. Your foot isn’t really healed. You’re not going to feel good later.”

And suddenly, silence.

I hadn’t started up my music yet so when I finally shut up I was able to listen to what filled the silence: “You broke your foot, didn’t run for 40 days, completed a 30-day yoga challenge and did six weeks of CrossFit. You’re prepared, dammit.”

I know I smiled because I remember the feeling. I remember the moment, I remember what I did next: Grabbed my iPhone, put on the Lil Wayne Pandora station and partied on through the remaining 23.2 miles. You can see it on my face in every picture my sister took of me along the course that day. Appreciation. Perseverance. Contentment.

Running around Seward Park, an out and back over I-90 and crisscrossing around downtown Seattle near the professional sporting arenas were definitely highlights of this race. So were the Honey Stinger gels I tried and the surges of energy I continued to get, especially after mile 20. I wasn’t even mad I had to stop and take a bathroom break at mile 23. Last night’s dinner from Thai Toms = worth it!

I crossed the finish line and I was content.

#Proof:

Dan, me and Alicia:

Proud of my performance, happy with how I felt and oh SO ready for my burger and a beer. I showered, ate and flew back to Chicago so that I could do and write about this:

Then run, coach and talk with him:

Then relax, reflect, rejoice with them:

And now, I have no more words. It’s just silent. In my head and in my heart it’s silent. I would be naive to think it will stay this way, in fact I both know and hope that it doesn’t. So I will see the beauty in this silence. I think I will sit here and I will listen all day.

9 thoughts on “#17. Seattle, WA: “Here is now and now is where I wanna be.”

  1. Fantastic, G. Thank YOU for giving me a little bit of “silence” this morning as I read about your #17. You are a rockstar.

  2. Gina,
    Loved reading this…I’ve been fighting a nagging IT band injury and feeling so frustrated….in fact a bit depressed. Just recently started doing more pilates and yoga and I am feeling so much better. I love the way you put words to life experiences: marathoning, injuries, love, work, finding inner peace, and more! Thanks for being an inspiration once more!

  3. Beautiful, GG!! Love that you are in that happy, peaceful place right now!! So very proud of you!! Thanks for sharing your marathon day with me. Wish I could have been there too!! Love you!!!!

  4. I can so relate to this post. The end of last year while training to do Bay to Breakers in San Fran, i fractured my femur from over training. No running for the next 4 months and sunk into depression and crankytown. Now that i’m back to running im not beating myself up for mileage and speed, just enjoying that my body can do this again and at peace. B2B is still on my list for 2013!

  5. Sounds like Seattle was AWESOME for you. Yay! I am so so sad I was out of town for it. ungh. Terrible timing! But, so happy to hear you’re doing so well.

  6. Pingback: #18. Indianapolis, IN: “They don’t do it like my clique.” | Walk to the Mailbox

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