Wednesday, January 5, 2011

motivation: CHECK. determination: CHECK. . . well??

INSANITY: Doing the same thing over and over... expecting different results. 
- Albert Einstein 

Welcome to my life: January 5, 2011 and guess what? I have not run ONCE this year. How have 5 days gone by and I have spent absolutely no time running... oh, not to mention I have a 10K in less than 2 weeks. 6 miles, yep: SIX. It's not such an unattainable thing to do though. And actually, I have plenty of time... yea, totally.

OK, one thing you must know about me, and yes, here I am admitting this: I am totally a crammer. I've been this way since college... actually that's not true. This goes back as far back as I can remember! I remember back to the days when I used to play piano competitively, pre-teen and into my teenage days (I am 25 so you go ahead and do the math). I was good, I used to win competitions, play recitals, teach theory classes... yep, that was me. You saw the end result and it was always good. Now, if you could have just been present during my weekly lessons. THAT was an entirely different situation. If I was told to practice 6-8+ hours each week on my songs... that usually meant I put in about 2-3 hours of practice time. I mean sometimes more, but I used to get so nervous going to my lessons because I knew how aggravated my teacher was going to be with me! She would bang on the keys and leave the room sometimes. . . and she was a fiery musician. I would stress out so much at lessons... but for a few days before a recital I would bust it practicing and come showtime- you would never know I didn't spend months, days, and hours working on that piece. But was it really worth the stress I had to put myself through?? I could have really just consistently practiced for months, days and hours and just eased my way up to the show date eliminating all that stress. But in the end, it got done, right?? Studies show when information is repeatedly learned over a period of time not under duress it will stay in your memory longer. So cramming these songs into my memory.... in the end was it all for nothing? To be lost from my memory? I mean if i sit at a piano I can still play certain things... just a few notes here and there. Those were some great 8 years though of learning and appreciating SO much about music. I'm not gonna ever look back and regret any of it. That's just not how I live.

....now here I am today...  running. Yes, I have been consistently running and conditioning... but I can feel the same tendencies kinda creeping back into my system! I trained and conditioned for the last 1/2 marathon...did well,  and now I can feel myself sort of convincing myself that I don't need thaaaat much time to get myself ready for this 6 mile run coming up. One week should be enough... but WAIT...is this really going to benefit me in the long run? and literally in the Austin Marathon February 20th? Probably not. I'm going to end up stressing my body out for something that is meant to be fun! You know what it is? I think I have finally figured it out. I have figured myself out. **Shine the bright lights!** Every day that goes by, I tell myself oh, it's no big deal you still have 15 days left/ 14 days left/ 13 days left etc. Next thing I know it's 2 days before the race and my body will not be ready. THIS IS CALLED PROCRASTINATION RACHEL COY. Not a great life-skill to hone. I am so much better than a procrastinator.

hmm.... so now knowing all this about myself,  I know what has to change. I can't keep cramming for things and expect to have a better result than before. It's not like I cram for everything.... but I hope you are getting the gist of my self-struggle here, I just keep getting in the way of myself, and this-must-change. Imagine how much better of a pianist I could have been if I had really REALLY put in the effort over time instead of last minute...I am not going to make the same mistake with running.   

The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. BUT this is just a prediction. This does not mean that I cannot take it upon myself to change the way I go at something and do it BETTER the next time. I am in charge of ME. I can change MY behavior. I can and I will. A young priest from Nigeria once said in his homily,  "How you do anything is an indicator of how you do everything," and I don't want to sell myself short of anything. Even something extra-curricular such as running. The change has to start now. I have to stop myself from falling into these patterns that just leave me frustrated and totally feeling defeated. I cannot keep cramming the way that I have been expecting that I NOT get frustrated and defeated.

Step 1: self-awareness. Accepting where I am at today and what it is that I let get in the way of my successes: myself! awareness and desire to make a change. (put me here at step one!)


Step 2: make the change: nobody can do it for me, I can talk about it until I get blue in the face... but there is no better time than the present to make the change. People may doubt me, but the proof is in the actions. Talk is cheap. . .all around the world. Say what you mean, and do what you say. Otherwise, shut up and get out of my way please. 


Step 3: don't give up. stay patient and consistent. And by this, I gotta tell myself every day that the only person I am letting down is myself. Nobody is going to accomplish my goals for me... and it's up to me to keep myself mentally strong and in the game. And no cheating! If you are going to do something- do it well. Do it right, and reep all the benefits of your actions and hard work. Don't cheat yourself. 


Life is not so easy that you can just snap your fingers and get from point A to point D-E-F or G... you gotta work through each obstacle and persevere. Keep your eyes on the prize and see the value in your efforts. It will not be for nothing. 


So to tie all this mumbo jumbo together.... I am digging deep down to find that motivation inside me to get back to training, eating healthy, and pushing myself to do things I have yet to accomplish! The next 6 weeks it is on ME to keep myself motivated, and I am determined to run the 6 miles with ease and move onto the Austin Marathon 1/2: 13.1 miles.

** this year, I am full marathon bound!



Tuesday, December 28, 2010

keep it movin'


I love a fresh start: it's like a breath of cool fresh air. I love a new beginning. It's almost like how I can never start a new routine on any day other than a Monday. That's just the way I am. I think I have really been waiting for the year to end so I can close this chapter in my life. Officially. Like, put it in the archives! Life is what you make of it.... even what you did not make of it. And I don't think I really made much of 2010.. . I mean I did, but not what I was capable of. Somewhere in between a horrible job taking up way too much of my time, trying to make sense out of a bunch of nonsense, getting myself out of debt, and other obstacles that seemed to find me- I really kinda just got off track!

It's crazy to look back and think about where I was mentally and emotionally this time last year, and see the growth in myself up to this point.  ... and now it's about to be a whole new year! You definitely don't get any of that time back. Everything that happened this year- good and bad has lead me to where I am at today. Emotionally I am more mature, stronger, and in control. Mentally, I am stronger, wiser, and I have a lot more clarity. I have seen how deceiving and untrustworthy, and just flat out lame people can be. I know that I am not that way and I will never allow people's thoughtless behavior to change who I am as a person. I know who I am, what I stand for, and what I expect of myself. This next year I am ready to push myself outside of my comfort zone and really get places. I have to stop trying to accommodate everyone else, and make sure I take care of me. Selfish? maybe...

The idea of 2011 being so close excites me. I've never been much of a 'new years resolution' kind-of girl, and I really don't feel like starting now. But I do know, come 2011 there is no looking back. I plan on steadily improving my running, my focus, and just keeping a positive outlook on life and staying true to myself. I'm serious- by the end of the year I WILL be running a full marathon. I know that not every day will be easy, fun, enjoyable, but I DO know that I can make each day the best it can be and make the best out of every situation. There's not much more to say about 2010, well there IS, but I will just keep it to myself. Great memories. Great experiences. Big ups, even bigger downs.... But I am hopeful and optimistic that life can only get better from here on out! I decided a long time ago that I would not let people into my life that did not positively impact who I am as a person, or add any sort of positive energy into my life... and, well, that is something that will not change! I had to let go of a lot of people who were heading in a direction that I knew I wasn't gonna follow. I am thankful for those that are in my life and inspire me and influence me every day. I am thankful for who I am today, the strength that I have found within myself and the energy I am going to take into this new year.


Cheers to a future full of peace, love and experience.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

livin' for the good Run.

recovery: -noun. restoration or return to any former and better state or condition.

It's an interesting concept: recovery. Until recently, it was just another word that pops in and out of normal vocabulary. Usually the word is in reference to being injured, or often in reference to someone recovering from an addiction. But recovery is chapter 2 of every runners manual (chapter 1 is: RUN) and is probably one of the most important aspects of life. And yes, here I go again... referencing life through my running! But I'm confident I can make sense out of my little connection.   

Check it out:  I just ran a solid 13.1 miles in 2:08:40. 2 days ago I was finally feeling strong enough, after a week, to put in a solid 4. Talk about frustration! It almost made it feel like the event I had just run was a dream. How can you only run 4 miles on a treadmill Rachel Coy?!... it's not like hitting pavement for 2+ hours or anything. Doesn't make sense.... actually, it makes complete sense. 

Here's how it works. Our bodies are built to withstand a certain amount of intensity. When you push past that level, getting out of your comfort zone, it's taking yourself to a level of shock. But this is not a bad thing, it's just a new thing. That run took my body to a level of intensity that I needed a little over a week to bounce back from. My muscles were literally in recovery from the beating I just gave them! Every runner knows that the day after a long run is the day you need to take it easy, relax, let your muscles heal and breathe. Some people need a day, some people need a week. . . I was one of those week-needers apparently! And although it has been quite frustrating to be back on my training schedule and struggle to get through 3 and 4 mile runs, I am beginning to understand that this is my body rebuilding and working back up to being able to go 13 again- hopefully MORE! Obviously, I was able to push myself to a level I didn't know was possible once, I totally can do it again. Through the process of recovery and rebuilding I know I will get back to that place; so, why wouldn't I try to get farther? I can, and I will. 2011 will be the year I run a full marathon. I'll get there. Just watch me.

Life: a series of events that we learn to adapt to, grow from, experience, etc. We fall in love, fail, succeed, become complacent, get bored, break down, make changes; you name it- life brings it. Look, I admit I cannot run 13 miles every day: some days I can run a bunch of miles, some days I can barely run 2. It happens. And seriously, these life events are just like races. You would like to think you are always gonna be prepared for what's to come on the course, but reality is you can never be 100% prepared how you will respond to any new variable that may present itself. Just stay positive. You won't succeed if you are holding onto anything negative. You won't have a good run if you have negative thoughts in your head. Fact. So whatever it is, find a way to get over it. Learn from it. Move forward. Nobody runs backwards, you run face forward- head held high. When something knocks you down in life. . . you gotta get back on the move and work your way back up. Nobody can do it for you, and it's not always gonna be comfortable. Yes, people can encourage and help you, but ultimately YOU are the one who has to get yourself going again. It's not always easy, in fact- it's never really easy. But you gotta start somewhere and you just gotta do it. Get yourself ready for the next big event. One day at a time just accept where you are at that day and time! 


Running is teaching me a lot about myself. Through this obsession I have created for myself I am discovering just how strong I am and can be. I have been through a lot this year. And although many times I felt pretty destroyed and broken down, I can always pick back up and get myself back in the game.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

life.

patience: -noun. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay.

Do you ever catch yourself in a quiet moment wondering "how did I get here? what am I doing with my life? how has ALL this time gone by and I'm not really doing something I love?" Well, that moment for me- now at age 25 has been existing for quite some time. I am totally restless, and just annoyed with where things seem to be stalemating for me. Where I am now is not what I am built for. And I am SO over it. 

It will be 2 years this month that I have graduated from TTU. 
730 days/ approximately 17,520 hours/ 1,051,897.53 minutes, actually. 

I moved back home with no idea as to what direction my life was heading in. I had no job, I was pretty dang broke- actually I was WAY broke. I had always had an idea of what I wanted to do, but I just wanted to be back in my city, with my family, and see what happened. Plus, I was tired of school and wanted a break. AND I've never really been one to plan that far in advance for myself, I like to wing-it. Wise? probably not.. . but oh well!

College was a great time for me. I was fortunate to study abroad, and that was the greatest thing I have ever done for myself. When I lived and studied in Spain a few years ago, I went there thinking I was going to learn how to speak Spanish better. I didn't know I would be learning to live life better. Not in a I have to make a million dollars and have all this nice stuff kind-of-way, but in a personal fulfillment-personal growth, what really creates happiness kind-of-way. I hope that makes sense. So then welcome back to America where people work 80 hours a week, have nannies to raise their kids, order take out 5 nights a week...pretty great right? Those 6 months overseas taught me how to appreciate life, people, culture, language, food, family, and music among many other things. And how to just BE. Living and Loving. Open minded. If you don't know how to love, chances are you don't really know how to live. Those words are synonymous. A good life is created through good love. If you can't open your heart and your mind to new experiences and and opportunities then expect yourself to be pretty miserable. And hey, when you let your mind and heart open up only to be let down, don't worry, you bounce back. What is that cheesy saying: "it's better to have love and lost then to never have loved at all". . something like that. 


So then, that being said- what am I doing here?! Why am I stuck here at this desk, in an old boring office bored out of my mind?! I feel like I have somehow lost sight of all that I learned about how to live a life worthwhile. . .

What matters most is family, friends, and doing something fulfilling. My absolute fear in life is to become an old lady not able to say I lived a life and did something that mattered. Something that helped someone else. I would hate to say I lived a life, made a ton of money and that's it. WHO CARES. I realize money is a necessity, but I figure when you do something you enjoy- the money will come. And what feels better? A wad of cash in your pocket, or being able to go home at the end of the day with a smile on your face and a sense of worth and accomplishment. I dream about the latter . .  . patience. . .

Now, please do not believe I make a lot of money here, because NEWSFLASH: I don't. But this job I have now is merely a lame source of income. I'm a grown girl, with some grown bills. I would be just fine being broke and happy, and well that's not really responsible is it? But I can't seem to shake these bills following me around. . . maybe you know the feeling. So here I am two years later, finally with a fire under my butt, a goal in my mind: ready to put in the work and get back into school. I think about all the time I am going to have to put in before I will be able to have a job doing something great, and I'll probably be around 28-29. I can't bring myself to say 30 yet. . . WOAH. But seriously, I have to keep myself mentally strong and practice patience here, even though I just want to be THERE! So far everything in my life has led me to this point: like a sling shot. you gotta pull it back and hold it there for a minute before releasing it. and it goes far. I'm gonna go far, no more holding back for this girl. This 2 year delay will seem irrelevant in respect to the rest of my life.    
 

Monday, December 20, 2010

just GO.

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it."
-Oprah Winfrey

Not too long ago I ran my first 1/2 marathon here in Dallas. 13.1 miles: thirteen point one. On paper, 13 is not a big number... on a map, it doesn't even look that far. I mean, you can drive 13.1 miles in less than 15 minutes on a good day. But running such a distance with my own two feet for the first time is something I will never forget, and probably the most ridiculous and rewarding thing I have ever done.

Those 13.1 miles gave me a new perspective on life, MY life, and I learned so much about who I am and what I am capable of. So, WHY in the world did I decide I wanted to run 13.1 miles in the FREEZING cold, up-over-and around downtown Dallas? Honestly, I still don't even know, I guess I thought it would make me feel cool or something lame like that, and besides I wanted to get myself in shape. I signed up for an 8 mile race on Thanksgiving and figured well, if I can run 8 miles, I could probably add on 5 more. I ran 8 miles in 1:20:00 (not the best time, but I beat my goal of 1:30 and didn't stop to walk). that felt SO good. I was kind of in shock actually when I realized the distance I had covered. When I finished that race, and looked back at the highways and streets that I had run across I knew in that moment- I WAS HOOKED. I felt so accomplished. To set a goal- and beat it is one of the most self- rewarding experiences in the world. I wouldn't have ever really thought my body was capable of holding up for that amount of time and distance. A few weeks later- it was 1/2 marathon time.

After exceeding my own expectations for the 8 mile, I set a goal for myself to finish the 1/2 marathon in 2:30:00. Really?? Running for over 2 hours- pretty insane if you ask me. But, I really felt determined to do it, yet always in the back of my mind there was that self doubt that I was going to have to stop to walk and the proof is in the timing- you can't lie and tell people you ran a certain distance when you didn't. . .and also, it's totally embarrassing when you are kinda bragging to people you are gonna run a half marathon and then you don't do well. Nobody likes to look like a fool. So there was a bit of pride involved here. And also, I'm new at this, so I wanted to do it right. . . **I finished my race in 2:08:40.

As the date got closer, I got more and more nervous that I wasn't going to do well. Seriously, it was like flashing back to when I used to perform piano recitals and would get so nervous about screwing up in front of everyone. Looking like an idiot. I wasn't trying to win the race, by any stretch of the imagination. I just wanted to get a good time, and beat my goal. Oh, not to mention it was for a great cause. But still, I kept thinking, what if I don't make it? What if my body shuts down and I get kicked off the course for taking too long. . that would be humiliating. As I became aware of all these self-defeating thoughts I started to realize how hard I am on myself. Why was I having negative thoughts about myself when this is supposed to be something for FUN?! I tend to do that a lot.... I am capable of a lot, just when things get challenging or uncomfortable I try to find an alternative route or just let it go. And sometimes you find little ways to cheat in life that you think nobody will notice. With running, however, you can't cheat anyone but yourself. And if you can live with selling yourself short- that's great, but I cannot. I will not. Challenges are temporary. And without challenges nothing would be worthwhile. You can hide from them for a while, but they won't go away. When life gives you obstacles you figure out how to work around them and get to where you want to be. You do what needs to be done to get where you want to go. Period.

As I became aware of how these negative thoughts about myself would creep into my mind, I realized that not only was I training my body, but I was training my mind as well. I would say that running is about 80% mental and 20% physical. Your body will go if you tell it to go. I mean yes, at a certain point your muscles will give out but we tend to stop as soon as that feeling of discomfort hits.. . push through it! Until you physically fall over, you are not done. You have to believe it though. Once I put it in my mind that I CAN run this distance- even though it won't always feel good, I CAN AND WILL run this distance. The morning of the race I woke up early to drink a shake, and just chill out. I spent about 45 minutes stretching and taking my mind to a really positive place visualizing myself running and crossing the finish. I was so excited. Who gets pumped up to run 13.1 miles at 8AM on a Sunday morning in the freezing cold?! ..... obviously me and 25,000 other people!

I started the race and I just set a good pace for myself. .  . Didn't want to go to fast and burn out or hurt my knees. (i have a history of odd knee problems). Before I knew it, I saw the 4 mile marker. It came pretty quick! Next thing I knew, I looked at my watch as I was crossing the 8 mile sign- it was about 55 minutes into this event. I had to look again because I killed my time for the last 8 mile run I did. I decided to slow my pace a little. .  I was making good time, so I just needed to watch my breathing a little and vibe out the rest of the run. Once I got to mile 10 I was pretty shocked. That is a long way to run, if I do say so myself. By this time I could feel every muscle in my body from my toes, to the back of my neck, to my stomach, to my chest, through my arms down to my fingertips screaming at me to just stop running and start walking while at the same time my mind was saying uhh-NO. Like, i gave it a thought- stopping would be so easy, just walk for a minute... then my mind said NO again.When you experience something like this, you become aware just how profound the saying 'mind over matter' really is! I remember thinking: "WOW I just ran 10 miles, 3 to go, if I stop now, I am going to regret it forever- this is what I've been working for, it's just a movement. Keep moving those legs Rachel Coy. Breathe, this is only temporary. I am not done yet. My mind is stronger than my body and I'm not done." You may laugh at the fact that I was actually talking to myself, more like fighting a battle against my own body, but it's true. I could feel my body just pulsing with pain from being outside of my comfort zone, but mentally I was not done, actually- as funny as it sounds, mentally I was about a mile ahead of my body pace-wise. So I just kept moving. I think this is what they call in running- lingo 'the wall'. Your body wants to shut down, but your mind knows it's not an option. I started to think about other things too, my family, my great-grandmother who is 100, barely 5 feet, probably 80 lbs or less, and can still climb up and down a flight of stairs. I was going to finish these miles no doubt about it.

I was just moving my legs at this point. I couldn't really speed up or slow down . .  . I was coasting for lack of better description. I could see the finish. . . when I saw the 13 mile marker I was elated. That .1 was like a terrible tease because you knew you were SO close, but not there yet. Seriously??.. how far is .1 mile!? TOO FAR after running such a long distance! When I saw the finish line I sped up. Not sure how, but I just kept thinking 'finish strong. finish strong.'

So Miss Oprah said it right, what you put into running- is what you get out of it; in the same way as in life- what you put into it, you get out of it. But also and most importantly, life is a mental game. Get your mind right. Mental strength will take your body places you never thought it could go. It will get you through challenges you never thought you would overcome. What the mind can conceive and believe, it can and will achieve (lightly quoted from Napoleon Hill). So anyways, even though I'm fairly new to the world of running, for me it has been a confidence boost, a reality check, and a source of balance in my life.