i found my chi

since the new bedford half, which you remember was pretty dreadful mentally, i’ve been focused on my brain. quieting or ignoring my negative thoughts has been my focus. i’ve been meditating using headspace (a fantastic app) everyday. so coach k requested i do a half marathon in whitinsville today and of course i signed up, although i wasn’t thrilled. my brain was already beginning to defeat me. but i didn’t have much time to over think it which was great. i had a pretty dismal couple of training days this week – attributed to greater volume, exhaustion and work stuff. wednesday was my breaking point. i went out on a 6 mile run and my brain began again. i ended the run in Pam’s office crying. and she let me have it. and deservedly so. i needed it. i had had a “fat day” where nothing seemed to fit and i spent the day uncomfortable in my body and very self conscious. before i ran i had convinced myself that the extra weight was from pregnancy (which it’s most certainly not from…I’M NOT PREGNANT) but my illogical brain doesn’t seem to care about facts. pam told me to get my head on by either swimming or going home. my gut response was to go home…but in the end i knew the swim would make me feel better. we discussed that maybe my nutrition wasn’t right and i needed to figure that out. she shared some things with me and i needed to hear the hard stuff. the swim cleared my head some but i still was nervous looking forward to sunday.

i told coach k of my “fat thoughts” and we discussed my need for increased protein consumption. i’m still trying to figure that out but i’ve got some ideas. she told me to track my food on my fitness pal where it breaks down the nutritional content of my meals so i can really see where i’m heavy on. the first few days were a bit hard because my workouts were lighter so i felt like i was overeating a bit. but it’s now balanced out and i see the need for it definitely. (of course she is right…she always is.)

yesterday i went to tri-mania and went to a chi-running workshop. i have read the book and watched the video and countless youtube videos. and i get the concept but i have never really felt in my body. i can see it with other people but i’ve never been sure how to get my body into the right place. and this workshop definitely helped with that. the cueing was so wonderful. i felt good in my body running yesterday. it is definitely something you need to practice but it was a great workshop. i also met and spoke with nancy clark (foremost nutritional expert for athletes) and ended up buying a book from her. i’ve read a bit of it already and the numbers and clear concepts mainly in regards to protein has clarified what kate has said.

sooo…onto today. today was the race. although in my brain it was just a run. i couldn’t think of anything except to go out and have a wonderful run. to have a run where i just felt wonderful. one of those runs that makes you love running. except when i woke up it was cold. like 23 degrees cold. and that kind of cold doesn’t make me love running. it makes me love being in sweatpants and under a blanket. and the roads were wet and bit icy. i was already kind of like ugh i don’t really want to do this. and to top it off, the past two nights i had been out late due to things i just couldn’t get out of. but i woke up and got going. i had my smoothie around 6:00 and puttered around a bit not doing anything in particular. i melted my feet and snuggled back with s in the bed. then i got dressed. and i was doing two things i don’t normally do – i was going to wear new pants and new shoes. the new pants were compression pants and the shoes were the same kind i have been wearing (and hating) but they were new (and they’ll be going back). but i just kept thinking this is just a run, it’s not a race. i also decided to mess with my fueling a bit. instead of doing 2 200 calorie bottles of tailwind in my fuel belt i did 2 150 calorie bottles. the taste was better, not as sweet. and i figured the temperature difference would be fine for this amount of fuel. i also packed my jellybeans – a new thing for me. yes i don’t want to fuel with things i don’t normally eat. but i would eat these – if i ate candy. haha. and they were wonderful last weekend on my long ride. on my way over to the race i ate a vega bar – which i discovered this week has 200 calories so it was a perfect amount. rather than a bowl of cereal.

i checked in, received my number (69, had a juvenile chuckle) and my shirt (super soft) and went back to the car. i ended up messaging with jess from newport. although i don’t know her well (or really at all) she’s a calming effect on me. i thought of her use of a mantra in lake placid and tried to figure out what could be a good one for me today. nothing really came to mind but i figured i would just focus on my breath and count.

i returned to the wcc and sat and watched folks come in. all sizes, all shapes, all types of clothing. the people watching always psychs me out a bit. seeing people in boston marathon jackets or singlets and shorts always makes me contemplate if i’ll be the last one in. at around 8:45 i went outside and jogged up and down the parking lot. i did some simple stretching and felt warm. and then waited, and got cold again. then folks started coming out and we went down to the start line. i figured i had no intentions of being caught in a pace group or getting my head out of this run so i went towards the back. no need to tempt my ego. coach k had told me the first 7 miles were uphill, the last 6 were downhill. so i prepared myself for up and slow. i also knew i needed my watch for data but didn’t want to see it. and then we were off. watch was started and shoved into my pocket. i was cold. my toes were numb and my ankles were frozen. my core and upper body were ok. so we went uphill. the first mile or so were uneventful, i was just trying to keep my posture and get warm. i saw kate and KERIN!! at mile 2 or so and was so touched to see kerin i teared up and then thought my eyes were going to freeze together. then the hills really began. i decided i would run to a certain point before starting the hill and then i’d assess my running and adjust when i reached that point. i ran almost all of the hills, not fast but solid. a few i ran the bottom but power walked the top. i remembered from yesterday that your arms provide 50% of the power so instead of walking with my arms down by my hips, i kept them bent and focused on power. and it helped. every hill that i covered i felt stronger. i saw people in the distance i said to myself just get to them and then see how you feel. not sprinting but just constant focus. as i reached the 7 mile marker i thought to myself, ok now it’s gonna start being downhill and my knees aren’t going to like this. but then i just knew i could sit back into my quads and glutes and they were strong enough to help out.

and then. i found it. i found my chi. it all clicked. i found my core and felt it being pulled by the string. it wasn’t a “lean” but a force. my feet were weightless and i was only lifting my ankles but could feel my legs behind me like wheels. my strides were large but not in front of me at all. as i ran i felt like i was flying. it was effortless and wonderful. and then i found my mantra. “follow your chi, follow your life-force” and yes it sounds silly. but it was easy and kept me focused. as the hills came i knew i could just focus on my chi and slow down to conserve energy. as i hit mile 9 and saw kate and KERIN!! again (and was wildly confused to see her again but so happy) i felt amazing. and kate could see it as she yelled at me “keep that pace”. i started thinking about my pace – should i look at the watch? i didn’t and thought ignore the pace, follow your chi. i felt so great i almost skipped my last fuel opportunity. my brain had a bit of an argument even – i was like oh i’m great i shouldn’t stop, but my common sense came back and said oh yes, take the time now and it’ll help in the long run. so i walked and ate some jellybeans. as i walked this girl came by and was crying. she said to me “you have to keep going, i’m following you, you’re my motivation to keep going.” so i chewed and then kept going. kept following my chi.

as i came upon the final .1 of the race it was a steep hill. and it was hard. but i ran up it. as i went down the chute i looked at the clock and it said 2:20. i had a moment of disappointment because that was the same time as new bedford. but then i heard jas’s voice yelling at me “you can never compare different races!!” so i didn’t. i was happy, thrilled really with how i felt. that i actually found it. that i felt it. it all clicked. now to bottle that.

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