Are you really together if you are not side-by-side?: A running query

My husband and I have been half marathon training together for over a year now, but this was not a natural progression for us. When I signed up for my first half, back in February 2016, I assumed I would be on my own because we had always believed that we would be incompatible as running partners. After all, he is a natural runner whose pace is a full 2-minutes+ per mile faster than mine and I am not genetically engineered for running and have to work hard just to improve by the smallest of women-running-1increments.

 

I have always wished I could be one of those women who can run effortlessly with a friend and maintain a casual conversation all the while running a 7 minute mile. The reality is that I can barely breath, let alone carry on a conversation, and spend most of the time wiping my nose on my sleeve.

 

Additionbeerally, we have entirely different running goals. He wants to compete with his coworkers and break their running records, it does not faze him that these people are twenty years his junior! He is constantly trying to improve on his time (which is already pretty fast!) and, most importantly, get to the beer garden before all the cold drinks are gone.

 

By contrast, I just want to survive and it would be a nice bonus to be able to walk the next day. He is the hare that looks smooth and effortless while runninghare

and I am the sweaty, hobbled tortoise that is covered in bugs that have been ensnared during my 2 hour, self inflicted torment. So, when we tell people that we are running together they naturally ask how that is even possible.

 

We have all seen those wonderful couples that have found that perfect compromise between achieving their personal goals and encouraging one another without conflict. Vanessa and Nick are one of those great partnerships. Vanessa is a writer living in Denver, Colorado and hosts The Real Life, a wonderful lifestyle blog that catalogs her love of running with her boyfriend and running coach, Nick.

nick and vanessa

I have been following The Real Life for some time now and have marveled at their ability to balance their different running styles and goals. I asked Vanessa how they pulled off this seemingly impossible feat given that Nick might have a 20-mile training run while she may be doing a 9 that same day. They have found that by splitting up the mileage, or changing their pace to accommodate one another, has enabled them to coordinate their training so that they can run side-by-side for a good portion of their training, and it is obviously working-just look how happy they are in this picture!

Actually, the running blogosphere is full of stories similar to Vanessa and Nick’s experience. Partnerships where running side-by-side are apparently effortless. But, what about the rest of us? Those couples who are confident that an argument or resentful feelings are waiting at the end of every finish line and believe that to run together you must be willing to dramatically alter your goals. Surely these people cannot run “together”. As I said already, we were also two of those skeptics. There was no way I could speed up to run next to him, as I would not last half a mile at his pace, and he does not posses the patience to slow down to accommodate my speed.

He would rather have his fingernails pulled off with pliers than go that slow!Hare-and-Tortoise-300x156

Surly, this would end our marriage for good if we tried to train together, right?

Spoiler alert: we did figure it out, but not because we actively tried, we sort of fell into it.

Initially, I joined a local group that had formed to specifically train for the Seattle Rock n Roll half marathon.

redmond running group

The organizers had a 12-week schedule in place to get us ready by race day, so the distance ramped up pretty fast. Each week had a long run on the weekend with 2 or 3 shorter exercises during the week. My hope was to find a buddy with whom I could pace to pass the grueling time. My husband decided to join us for one of the long runs, almost as a second thought. He was still faster than all of us but decided to continue training with the group, periodically joining us when he could. As the weeks progressed we found that the two of us would spend more and more time together planning our workouts. As the runs increased in length we had to spend more time thinking about hydration, nutrition and gear. This was also a period of time where we were travelling quite a bit and were not able to train with the group.

We had to work together, just the two of us, to plan running routes in other states, in different weather conditions and remind one another to pack the training paraphernalia that we needed to be successful. After the run we would discuss what went well, what we needed to change for next time and how to plan our recovery. It turns out we had a lot in common!

green lake run

In short, we were spending a huge amount of time, together, planning our training. Never once did we run side by side, but we ran at the same time. We get to the trailhead, share a quick “good luck “ kiss and see one another at the end. We debrief and either reveled in the new PR or commiserated about the bad weather, this is Seattle after all. In fact, I rarely see his face when we run as he is always blazing past me as he turns into a fuzzy, distant spot on the trail.

 

A big reason why this works for us, and may not for others, is that we are both self -motivated in our training. I do know a number of people who tell me that this model would not work for them because they need that person, right by their side, to keep them moving through the tough times. I do understand that but what would you do if your training partner were sick or injured? Would you stop training as well?medals Pain and illness do happen and there have been many times my husband or myself would not be able to run. I do miss him when he is not out on the trail, somewhere, with me but I am also comfortable continuing to make progress toward my goals on my own. In this way, we are not too reliant on one another when we are unable to coordinate our schedules .

So, my answer to the query is yes, you are running and training together, even if you are not physically next to one another. We feel very connected by our training goals, as different as they are, and are definitely here to tell others that this can be done.

planning

The Blue Sky Tag

BeaFreitas has nominated me for the Blue Sky Tag! If you, somehow, don’t know about her blog then you need to click on over right now and check it out! She is a fashionista, quote guru and all around marvelous human being!

Rules for the award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions
  • Tag 11 people
  • Give nominees 11 questions to answer.
  • Acknowledge Waves of Awesomeness in your post who created the art.

 

Bea’s questions for me:

  1. If you could only eat 3 foods for the rest of your life, what would they be?

This one is easy, coffee, chocolate and cheese!

2. What is your favorite time of day?

First thing in the morning (with that cup of coffee from question #1!)

3. What are your pet peeves?

Oh so many! But the worst is people who lie.

4. Who is the kindest person you know?

My mother in law!

5. What is the worst thing you did as a kid?

My sister was 5 years younger than myself and always wanted to be around me, or play with me. I was not very patient with her, so not a nice big sister!

6. What do you enjoy to do?

Exercise: running, rock climbing and the occasional yoga class.

7. What is your favorite quote?

ooh, tough one! There are so many! This past year I have been thinking and reading a lot about character, morality and integrity and how the personal choices we make effect those we are supposed to care about. So, today my favorite quote is:

karma quote

8. If you could choose your own nickname, what would it be?

Your Highness!

9. What is your favorite childhood book?

This is really old but my favorite book when I was 5 years old was Mr. Popper’s Penguins.

10. If you could time travel, where would you go?

I would like to see into the future, maybe 100 years from now. I definitely would not go back in time to before the discovery of antibiotics! Too dangerous!

11. What is your favorite scent?

Vanilla!

My Questions to you:

  1. What is your favorite color, and why?
  2. What was you favorite childhood TV show?
  3. Who is your celebrity crush?
  4. If you had the opportunity to travel into space would you take it?
  5. What was the best pet you ever had, past or present?
  6. If you could go back in time, which of your past mistakes would you fix?
  7. You can only eat breakfast, lunch or dinner for the rest of your life-what do you pick?
  8. What is your dream job?
  9. What one world problem would you solve if you had that power?
  10. Would you rather go skiing or snorkeling ?
  11. When was the last time you laughed so hard that you peed a little bit?

 

Nominations

What A Female Mid-Life Crisis Looks Like

mid life 2

 

Working women experience a different mid-life crisis than men. -Marcia Reynolds, Psy.D.

As I explore this question of the female mid-life transition I have attempted to consider all possible scenarios. Of course, being human I often find myself drawn to those friends in similar circumstances. Specifically, the woman who is educated, career oriented and actively balancing the needs of the family with the demands of advancing in her chosen profession. I have also searched for meaning and guidance in literature where I have found a variety of definitions in numerous books, articles, blogs and musings. Each of these poignant and well meaning interpretations often center around the loss of purpose a woman experiences as children launch into the world. But, I personally know of many talented, intelligent, strong, amazing women who chose to focus on their careers and to remain childless, and they are not immune to this phase of questioning at this point in their lives. Conversely, I have rarely seen writings about the male mid-life crisis where child rearing is the main topic of angst. Of course, for many men the family is a tremendous concern for them but the main question they wrestle with is what do to with their careers, should they retire, or change avocation and the sterotypiccal dealing with the inevitable loss of youth (is this all there is?). It is not often that I come across an article that specifically focuses on the women, whether they have had children or not, addressing the question of “what’s next?” with respect to their lives and careers. In What a female mid-life crisis looks like, by Marcia Reynolds Psy.D., she says,

These women have not faced a crisis, but they are facing a mid-life quest for identity.

Reynolds postulates that for the educated, goal oriented woman, this is a particularly difficult time as one tries to first define greatness and then searches to achieve it. Woman are not interested in reclaiming their lost youth, but fear missing out on what they could have accomplished with the time they have left. This resonated for me as I know many women who want to use this next act for more than just the job, being the mom or care giver for those around her.

Most importantly, Reynolds provides the reader with permission. Permission to have these feelings, permission to explore these questions and permission to spend the time and energy on finding what is right for you.

Above all, don’t let people tell you that you have no right to be unhappy with your life.

Funny how a man never worries about this, only women feel guilty for putting their needs above others, for taking time to consider what is best for themselves. Men instinctually believe they have the right to self preservation, yet a woman has to be reminded that she too is worthy of self reflection, respect and consideration.

mid life image

What Would Carl Jung Say?

book

Carl Jung was the father of modern analytical psychology. He was heavily influenced by Freud and shared his belief that the unconscious mind holds the key to unlocking repressed memories that define our past and help shape our future aspirations. Jung did split from Freud on other matters, such as the Oedipal complex and the over sexualization with respect to dream analysis. Jung’s cornerstone concept was that of individuation, where the self evolves from its two main components, the conscious and unconscious elements. This life long process is achieved by recognizing and blending these repressed memories with the aspirations and wishes for the future. There must be a balance for self actualization to occur or we will feel a disconnect from our authentic selves.

This all leads to a whole lot of dream analysis as dreams are the only source of unconscious knowledge that can be brought to the conscious surface. And this is where I have a hard time with a number of the premises brought forth in James Hollis’s book, Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life, How to Finally, Really Grow Up. Hollis is a Jungian psychoanalyst who uses multiple examples of how dream analysis can unlock what the mind is truly longing for in life. As a biologist I believe that dreams are a direct manifestation of neural connections that have been stimulated, perhaps without your conscious knowledge, to trigger memories, fears and anxiety responses (hence more dreams associated with negative emotions are remembered in greater detail than those associated with pleasant stimuli). Dreams are simply a processing mechanism required for the brain to function in the face of constant visual, auditory, taste and touch stimulation in our daily interactions. I do not ascribe spiritual or religious meaning to dreaming any more than I would any other biological function. I do not urinate more during the day because I secretly hate my parents!

The first half of this book spent a great deal of time outlining the problems we face moving into our mid life. Dealing with parents and their dreams for our lives and the difficulty we have in wanting desperately to assert our individualization without disappointing our progenitors. I did not find this part particularly helpful. I don’t know too many adults who, at this point in their lives, have not already dealt with this issue in some way they deem resolved. Either you have decided to disappoint those family members and let the chips fall where they may, or you have come to terms with the life you chose and the path taken. Either way  the bigger issue is “how do I move on from here?” The past is exactly that, done and done.

The second half of the book is where Hollis is helpful. He addresses the specific issues of many of us who ask “what is happening?, why have I lost my sense of purpose?” He points to Jung’s own memoirs:

I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking. Such people are usually contained within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning. If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears.   -Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections p. 140

In chapter 7, career vs vocation, Hollis points out that the choices and paths that worked for the first half of our lives will fail us when we have achieved those early set goals. We need to keep our minds active and moving toward something more fulfilling. Of course, finding that something is hard to do! A vocations is a calling, not just a career, it is from a deeper need than just paying the mortgage. It is what you believe you were meant to do, not necessarily how your current talent is defined.

It is better to do your own duty badly, than to perfectly do another’s: you are safe from harm when you do what you should be doing.   -Bhagavad-Gita, III, 35

It is common for us in this midlife transition to become overwhelmed with the enormity of finding your calling, especially at this point in our lives. We have children and aging parents, spouses and community commitments to consider. Wouldn’t it be selfish to put ourselves first and to ignore those relationships to focus on ourselves to find that calling? I struggle with this everyday. I am a mother, wife and child myself and take those responsibilities very seriously. How can I tell my family that I want to go into the peace corps and help others. Leave for months to “find myself”, would that be fair to them? So, instead what do we choose to do with our unhappy realities.  Self medicate, have an affair, ignore those children. Is that a better choice? How is staying nearby but making disrespectful, hurtful, selfish choices that very well may tear the family apart be better than taking those six months to help others who are less fortunate in a third world nation? All the rest is just distraction. Eventually the drink is gone, the fantasy of the affair is broken and the children move on and you are right back to the original question “What’s next”? and the very people you were trying to accommodate are no longer in your life.

The final two chapters are worth the price of the book, if you read nothing else. They are powerful and everyone will find something relatable. Hollis posses thought provoking questions and encourages the reader to take responsibility for his or her own healing. I am a strong believer in that you cannot control other peoples actions, but you can control your reaction. I have been disrespected, deceived and hurt more than I ever thought possible, but I am not a victim. quote-2

 

 

 

 

Mystery Blogger Award

The creater of the Mystery Blogger Award is Enigma, here is her page.

mystery-blogger-award

I am so honored, once again to be recognized by BeaFrietas, for an award. She recently posted a list of great gift ideas for guys, which I really appreciated! Do be sure to click on over and get some great ideas!

AWARD RULES

  1. Display the award logo on your blog.
  2. List the Rules.
  3. Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
  4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well.
  5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.
  6. Answer five questions from the nominee.
  7. Nominate anywhere from ten to twenty bloggers.
  8. Notify the bloggers by leaving a comment on their blog.
  9. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, including one weird or funny question.
  10. Share the link to your best post.

Three things about me:

  1. I have a BS in general biology and  a Ph.D. in molecular biology, so I love science especially all things DNA
  2. I ran my first half marathon and began rock climbing last year at the age of 49, and have plans to keep going farther, faster and higher!
  3. I am still on my quest of “what’s next in life” and would love to define that path soon!

My answers to BeaFrietas’ questions

  1. If you were a squirrel for a day, what would you do
  2. What is your funniest memory?
  3. What music artist could you listen to forever?
  4. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
  5. What is your least favorite household chore?

 

  1. I would spend the day raiding those anti-squirrel feeders. It looks like a blast to be spun around like that!
  2. All my funniest memories revolve around my son when he was little. He wore a batman cape for about 3 years and said and did the most hilarious things! Little ones are exhausting to be sure, but they are also a tremendous source of joy and those are memories our family still enjoys reliving.
  3. 80’s rock (see my answer to #2 in “three things about me above” to remember why 80’s rock is appropriate for me)
  4. My favorite thing about blogging is this community! I have met so many interesting people and really enjoy interacting with all of you!
  5. Our house is 11 years old now, the perfect time for things to start breaking down. I have replaced sink faucets and currently have 1 toilet that keeps running and a dripping shower head. Instead of fixing the plumbing I am blogging-so plumbing issues are my least favorite!

My best post

I guess I will go with the one that had the most likes. It was a post that was run on the psychology website, MakeItUlta. 6 remedies for a midlife crisis

My Nominees:

 

My Questions for the nominees:

  1. What is your favorite topic to blog about?
  2. Which foreign language would you like to speak fluently?
  3. If you had to pick, which leg of a triathlon would you prefer? (bike, swim or run)
  4. Do you have a tattoo? Why did you pick that image?
  5. What is your favorite TV show, past or present?

6 Remedies for a Midlife Crisis

Make it Ulta, a psychology blog posted an article that I wrote on coping strategies for midlife. If you are interested, you can read it here:
https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/49689215/posts/1306563942
I really respect this blog and its mission, I am honored to be a contributor as they address a number of important issues. Be sure to check them out!

Real Neat Blog Award!

real-neat

This community has been so kind and welcoming to me since I started blogging just two months ago! I have been so blessed to meet so many of my awesome fellow bloggers. I have learned so much about how to navigate this corner of the blogosphere and one of those amazing people is BeaFreitas! Her blog is gorgeous and you really need to click on over and check it out! If you have not done so yet, you are probably the only one left who hasn’t visited her site, so go now!

 

Rules:

  • Put the Award logo on your blog.
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blogs, etc.)

Add your own 7 questions for your nominees to answer.

 

Questions from Bea:

  1. What are your top 3 favorite cartoon films?

Little Mermaid, Lion King, Hoodwinked but honestly there are a whole bunch I love!

  1. What genre of film do you prefer to watch?

Mystery and I love a good robbery (like the Ocean’s series)

  1. What do you enjoy to do on a cozy rainy day?

Either curl up with a good book and a pot of coffee, or watch Harry Potter movies and drink a pot of coffee!

  1. What is one thing you’d like to improve about yourself ?

I would like to be a faster runner, I am so slow and it takes me forever to finish long runs. I am working on it!

  1. What are your favorite TV channels to watch?

Ok, this sounds weird but I watch the NFL Network A LOT, and FoodNetwork.

  1. Have you ever tried to go skiing or snowboarding? Would you try it?

I have gone skiing, and was not very good at it. I didn’t start until I was 35 and that did not do me any favors!

  1. What is your favorite childhood memory?

My favorite memories center around the 4th of July-generally blowing things up is a lot of fun!

 

My Questions to you:

  1. What was your favorite childhood pet?
  2. What was the title of the last book you read?
  3. Would you rather visit Antarctica or Tahiti? Why?
  4. What was your favorite subject to study in school?
  5. If you had the opportunity to travel into space, would you want to go?
  6. What is your dream job?
  7. What is your dream vacation?

 

 

I nominate:

With love, from me to you

The one that travels

And she went on and on….

Confessions of a struggling mom

Sorting through the shit!