Finding the gem … and Changing a Motivational Pattern …

20 05 2009

journal 4When Doc (what we’ll just call my bud the Sports Psychologist) asked for all my journals and such for the last couple of years to see if there was a trend, I’m sure he wasn’t expecting the quantity that he got. He was probably assuming that he’d get a flash drive with everything on it, not several bound books and binders. I guess although I’ve worked with computers since 1982, I still don’t completely trust them. Probably has a lot to do with the nature of electronic media … I donno. Anyway, I sent him everything I had. That takes a lot of trust actually because I tend to flush out my brain through a pen … and, with any luck, seeing things on paper gives me direction or the potential of seeing how completely in error my viewpoint has been.

The interesting thing about what he did was he tallied up recurring themes and said that he was surprised to see such an even path … and a path that I’d already noticed in the personal journals.journal 1 Just the stupid stuff that I kept seeing as just out of my grip. He also noticed that there were many things that I obviously wanted to either streamline or just to feel like I had a “normal” life that I would increasingly be blown away by how they just wouldn’t materialize. The one that really made him laugh was my mailing address. I’ve had a PO Box downtown for years. It was OK when I used to take a bus nearby or worked downtown, but it’s gotten to be a bit of a drag over the years. In an effort to streamline home, I’ve been trying to shift bills and such from my PO Box to my physical address. This shouldn’t be a problem, right?

journal 2

In those journals, there are dates that things didn’t show … pre-race notification, bills etc … but it appeared things were getting better so I tried to have bills that *needed* to be paid *immediately* sent to the home address … health insurance, electric bill, etc … things that were not available on-line.  As things kind of exploded and I started really going through the copious piles of crap in the house, I didn’t think too much of it … that is until I got to the point where I was looking at finances carefully and noticed “Hum … did Kaiser ever send that direct withdrawal form?”

Heart sank. Called Kaiser this morning to find out that according to their records my mail had been returned. It appears that the postal carrier must have been putting it in the wrong box or something even though Kaiser, finally, had the address right. journal

What’s the definition of Insanity? Doing the same thing and hoping for a different outcome? Sigh. Ok … I know where I am with this now, and it is just a matter of regrouping … again. Of course, I’m concerned about getting re-accepted because of a lot of things, but most recently because I’ve actually been trying to be seen for my leg issue. I’m not sure if they’ll see that as a “pre-existing” condition and waiver it off. If that happens, I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do.

trainingAs Doc waded through my training journals, he noticed something really interesting when he mated the days to my personal journal. DMcG probably already knows this … as does everyone else BUT me … but my training is usually liked to how the rest of the world is going. When I was competing race->race->race, it was like the only thing I felt I could do right was race and it was the only time I felt alive … but I did note that there was a sinking feeling of almost anger and disgust mixed along with it. Where I’d once been able to just toss away the whatnot of the day and go out and enjoy even a mediocre training walk, I put so much pressure on myself to make everything work … and not really accept that training means TRAINING one’s body to be able to handle the challenges …

“Lizzy – you used to love your training simply because you could get away from stuff  and spend time with Bailey or exploring a new route. Time to get back there. As you well know, the rest of the crap is going to be waiting for you when you get back … so take it a piece at a time, and go forward. There’s only forward … backward is boring!”

training 2

Unlike paying bills or putting up with nonsense, training is something I get to do!!!!  I know DMcG’s been trying to plow this into my head … reminding me that training is my  time to spend time out, with the dog or whatever …. racing is something I get to do because I do have fun with it. I’ve never really set goals, I’m starting to get why … but part of my re-wiring situation is this … racing is the prize for training. 

Getting the finances straightened out mellows the house out.
Getting the masters in line starts the next phase of things.
Getting the crapola out of the house makes me comfy having friends over.

But … what I’m going with right now … is my new mantra … which I’m sure  DMcG will remind me when I don’t feel like training:

Racing is the Prize for Training!!!!!


Patching things right for life and racing … it’s in the mix … the “Grand” Catch-Up!

19 05 2009

Where HAS May gone? Okey Dokey:patchbay 2

I didn’t really realize how much so many things had drained me until April 23rd. I finally had to throw up my hands and start sorting in a very big way. When I started doing that, however, I saw how a lot of things fit together and could, together, be taken outside my personal “house” and dropped on the sidewalk waiting for the free garbage pick up in a steaming bag. Of course, clearing out the drek of the past and present aren’t quite this easy, but I see it all as personal house cleaning and it’s going to make it a more fun place to be … and me a stronger person … competitor … friend … etc.

It’s been coming for a long time. Several of us are doing a “me” year. It starts at different times, and has different lead ins. Mine was an insane year for 2008 and 2009 starting off being one of a heck of a lot of clean up … and learning about myself.

School: I was in a class that had an associated group project. Long and short, it’s done now. Want more information, I’ll tell ya privately. I know my part in the negatives and positives. I am, however, having to spend the summer doing the private parts of this class to clear an Incomplete. I’m not too worried, really, just find it all rather sad.

Finances: Such a special bit of hell.

Training: Well … another special bit of hell. Let’s face facts: for the first part of 2009 my training has spectacularly sucked. I took the requisite time off, and healed a great deal, but not completely. Every time I’ve gone out, it’s been a crap-shoot. This doesn’t help the old noggin when you’re not sure if you’re going to be able to get back from a training walk. I still train by myself. My times are so slow that I’m embarrassed to keep people back. I’m working with a friend of mine (next paragraph) who is trying to understand me and, more importantly, help me understand myself. My head is wired right now telling myself that I’ve done nothing well since San Jose – and when I look at my times and training … it’s right. Of course, somehow I blip over the variety of injuries I’ve had … because I see hiding behind an injury as a cop-out … and get reminded of that by not-s0-good-for-me people when I admit that I’m injured. Kind of a Catch .22 …

peacefulRedwood 50th: My high school turned 50 and there are several posts that will be finished soon about this. I really connected with some amazing people and realized a lot of things that I was probably ready to “get”. I also had the amazing fortune to meet up with a very old friend who is doing a great deal of study in the area of sports psychology. Through coffee, long drive and now e-mail and telephone, we’ve been trying to tease out my motivational issues. Interestingly enough, we owned some of the same reading material. He needed another case study, and in the case of me – he has one who is very interested in understanding not only her own motivation but lack of motivation.  The fact that I’ve had only a small handful of truly satisfying  workouts since before Disney, we had a lot to go forward with. The progress is really interesting mainly because, unlike those who just want to be told things to placate them, I demand understanding them. I’m so fed up with how things have been and being in my own way.  Since I’m more than remotely comfortable with trying things, but have the nasty ADD compulsiveness … we’ve got our work cut out.  A couple of really amazing insights have been made and they’re going to take time to weed out. Do it too fast, and it comes back 3-fold and do it too slow, and I’m not doing diddly! (I’m inherently lazy.)

I’ve said it before, and everyone knows it — sport is a mental thing as well as a physical one. I feel like I’ve had that Doubting Devil spending more time with the megaphone than the Actual Angel. Before June hits, my goal is to rip out as much of the crappy wiring as I can and patch things together creating internal harmony … from which to take on races, training and the rest of life. Ok- that’s an audio analogy. I was nicknamed the Princess of Patch Cables because I could not only quickly figure out what the problem was, but once I knew the lay-out of the patch bay – get signals around the room, through all sorts of effects boxes and the like, and back again quickly … thus making things more groovin’ withthe tune. If that still doesn’t make sense, I’m down with that … not many analog audio engineers out there anymore.

patchbay mess

Ok- this first picture is of a patch bay coming out of a unit. Simply put, the purpose of a patch bay is to get signals from one point to another and back again. The “off board” units are wired to holes on the patch bay. Life is made a great deal easier when not only is the patch bay properly labeled, but when things are being patched, they are easy to see. Now, I’m sure if you or I (or both) stood over this long enough, we could chase down how each cable was plugged in and figure out what’s going on.

In audio, a signal can be lost because of how it’s patched. Plugging in the wrong hole and whoops! Pot-Hole. Your signal is lost. The more patches there are, the messier things become … and if the cables aren’t easily chased … you lose a lot of time trying to figure out what in the blue blazes (could someone explain to me what a “blue blaze” is?) is going on.

AND that takes a lot of time … frustration … thought space … and such.

Even more interesting is as things are teased out, all sorts of other problems mask the very simple one … usually that someone messed up and no-body’s willing to say anything about it. It happens.  I know that I had pissed folks off in the past by walking up and saying “Ok – you want me to fix this?” and then pulling ALL the patches and starting over … I prefer not to do that … I prefer to learn from each mistake and not make it again.

The thing is this … sometimes we can’t learn from each mistake, because of extenuating circumstances. We think we’re the ones who really botched and can’t figure out how to get it straight …. and sometimes it truly is something someone else did … not when we were trying to patch but when the box was initially being wired.  Oooohhhhh!!!!

Once things are starting to make sense, then how do we make it work for us?patchbay Well – it takes being willing to look at the hard stuff and not be ashamed, but remember it’s a part of the whole being. Those things that we don’t want, but are in the wiring … well … the beauty of the patch bay is being able to get rid of things … just send it off to a place where it can’t hurt anymore … but make sure that it’s dealt with.

We can’t go and do a re-take. You truly can’t unlearn the hurts from others … whetheror not they had malice in their hearts. There are people who just want to put others in places where they can deal with them. I re-watched Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Dolores Umbridge kept yelling “I WILL HAVE ORDER!!” as she went along bringing all of Hogwarts (and if she could the Wizarding community) under her personal umbrella … truly believing that she was doing what was “right” for everyone … she was an evil old bat, but she truly believed in what she was doing to be right and there’s no changing that.

People do what they believe to be right and will bring the world under their own control … then enter people like me and many of you … we’re the “misfits” and dang the world would be a lot less interesting without us! I know that I spent a great deal of this life listening to others and trying to conform, but this amorphous cloud isn’t going to fit neatly in any box … been there, done that9-consumerrack … got the e-ticket ride!

The cool thing about a patch bay is that you get to link all sorts of cool things together and create an amazing sound. It might look complex, but it’s really simple. You don’t have to use absolutely every box … sometimes the simplest combinations work the best. However patched, everything works together to create harmony. That’s what I’m after. Like everyone, I’ve got a boatload of good and not-so-good life experiences, but they’re what make me up. I need to pull things together and bring it in to harmony … and good friends w/a lot of understanding … heck … I learn from all of you.

A friend of mine called me “brave” because I’m doing a lot of these changes in public. “Aren’t you afraid it’ll be used against you … your frailties and fears?” Yeah. And it’s not like it’s not happened when I was completely shut down. It’s not like it didn’t happen when I masochistically handed things on a silver platter. It’s not like it didn’t happen when I was angry and camping out on my pittypot. What is different now is that I’m bound and determined to keep moving forward and bring as many people along with me!

Where am I as May is coming to a close? Well … I’m realizing that it’s impossible to rip out all the patch cables, but it is possible to see where things are wired … and to patch around them. It’s going to take a lot of patience and hard work … and although I’ve been told I’ve got the patience of a saint at times (I’m afraid to ask which Saint!), I have little to none with myself. A Tibetan Monk friend of mine wrote from India saying that my lesson from Buddha is patience and my second one is accepting myself.

We all have our lives — things that get me, you might think “easy peasy” … things that get you, I might think “no sweat, Dude!”  I’m just done with the stuff that just seems to keep coming back like bad pennies (what is a “bad penny?” I don’t see any pennies as bad but things to make friends with since 100 of them make a dollar and that gets me closer to a cup of coffee or a treat for Miss Bailey Boo!) … so … it’s patch … or EQ them out … (Ok … for those engineers … patch out –> Graphic EQ –> return … did it work? more or less? Ok Graphic EQ –> Parametric EQ and NOTCH THAT PUPPY –> Return and hit the starting line of the race) I’m getting geeky again, hu?

The Cheerleader in shortsOh yeah – this is me in a high school cheerleading outfit I bought … when I finish the back post about Redwood, you’ll get the whole story. When I was at Redwood, I would have been petrified to have gotten in to a cheerleading outfit and run around at a huge event … but friends there said “Same old Lizzy Shepard! You’ve not changed! Always making us laugh.” Hu?

Well … my friend Mary, who had just gone through a terrible tragedy, was laughing … and REALLY laughing. As I was leaving a friend said “Lizzy – you got so many people laughing and smiling … with you! Only you could pull this off! Thank you!”

You know … Maybe I’ve already started re-wiring my patch bay. I’m starting to see that maybe life is how you patch it … and getting the mix right takes trial-and-error, and willingness to take a few risks … I’m up to the challenge …

What do you think?


Time to take off the training wheels

5 01 2009

It was a dark and stormy year …. (ah! Snoopy and Peanuts reference!)

I’ve been thinking over the last four or five months about how dependent I’ve become on my Garmin. Since I train alone and have been getting bored/depressed easily, I depend on it for straight distance. Whatever it says, I usually go about 1/8 mile further (unless I’m somehow back at the car). It’s only been about 1/10th of a mile off so …

I have, however, found myself depending on it screaming at me to get my pace where I’ve set it. This isn’t terrible some of the time, but I realized at the Turkey Trot, when I was using my everyday Timex, that I probably can hold pace better than I think I can. In fact, I don’t really hear it … and being that it beeps when I’m over or under a specific pace … beeps on the kilometer … beeps on the mile … but if I’m truly where I want to be – clicked into my own space … I don’t really hear it!

It’s nice to have on the track so I can pay attention to what my feet are doing (or not) and check in with myself and let the watch let me know the time or distance between intervals. There is, of course, a danger here if I wasn’t in the habit of counting every interval. My habit of counting intervals is a good one for counting laps and trusting the lap-counter in my head. The one on my wrist has usually been spot on, but it’s always nice to have a double check … and it keeps me, at least in the case of lap-counting, with a good habit installed.

I got this Garmin for the Heart Rate Monitor aspect of things. I’d like to learn more about this because it’s important. The thing about the Garmin, however, because it has so many bells and whistles, the battery does die with regularity … and at the wrong time. In fact, I was having so many problems charging my 205 that I was wearing 2 watches on my first marathon! The second watch was my Timex … and there was a problem with the chronograph on it, so it’s a good thing the Garmin didn’t die!

The problem I had with the Timex was that I had a lot of trouble seeing the time … ok that and the buttons were in completely different places than I’m used to … so I’m looking at another HRM investment … Probably the Polar w/o GPS. Why would I need another GPS? I already have one that works! I have no problem measuring out with the Garmin.

So – it was another Polar. Yes … I did say “another”. I have a one attached to my bike for when I was toying with doing double century rides. Yes – I truly am easily bored. The reason I stopped riding was after the last head injury, my balance has suffered. I shall, probably, have the clipless pedals that are on this bike replaced and get “lessons” from riding friends – but, let’s face facts … I hate changing tires on high pressure road bikes and Colorado is awash in goat heads just waiting for me to ride by. The only problem with my ancient Polar is that the HRM strap might never have even made it to Colorado when I moved out here and it’s a complete pain to get a new one.

Bailey got me a new Polar HRM for my Christmas Present. Gotta love the dog when she notices Runner’s Roost is having a 25% off sale! I’ve not really looked at it because of other things going on, but it should be interesting.

I’m still easily bored, however, even at the beautiful Englewood Recreation Center I’ve been going to. After a year of injuries, I’m having to behave myself. I do think this will be a good place for me, however, because I can walk in the pool to re-hab the ankle, knee and hips. The no-excuses ruling is in play here.

I started this post after coming in from a completely not satisfying race. Since then, I’ve had two more ice related slippage injuries and realized I’m headding into the Goofy in a position where I’ll have to power through it. I’m wanting to learn more about how to become more efficient with this sport that I’ve become addicted to and to power through my own laziness! Yes – I did say Laziness!

I’ve had a life-long problem with putting everything and everyone else before me. As I stare at me credit report (and grow incredibly depressed), I see how I’ve just been riding in the back car of the rollar coaster in so many ways. The back car is the one where people just get whipped through and have no idea what is coming along. The front car, however, is the fun one where you can see where you’re going and have fun with the ride. All it takes to move from the back car to the front one is paying attention and putting myself first … and taking off the training wheels that guide me from one place to the other.

So – the first step was to admit that I’m an Athlete – with a capital A. This means making the time for my workouts, training properly for my races and having fun with it all. This requires me putting me first, getting my life somewhat in order, and realizing that 90% of the people out there aren’t going to ever understand that I live below the poverty level and prefer to spend $80 on a pair of racing slicks that might last 400 miles if I’m lucky.

So – I’ll be wobbling around a little until I get my bearings … but there will be no stopping me once I do.

Then – Boulder Backroads Photo Late September 2006

24 09 2008

Ok – So … I just found this photo. It is from when I started this adventure in walking. I haven’t scanned on the initial photo that got me to get off my everloving butt and into a pair of sneakers – but I was about 10 pounds heavier than this photo shows. That photo is in my bathroom and it shows how heavy my arms had gotten.

I’ve got a problem with my weight … goes to a lot of things. A lot of the work I’ve done – wildland fire suppression, stock room, audio engineering, roadie, mover – have been body punishing. Seeing how out of shape I’d gotten due to injuries bummed me out! I do have to remember that I was a very heavy 200 pounds when I was doing wildland work … and drinking a lot of beer and snarfing 2 to 3 large pizzas myself!

When I signed up for this gravel infested 1/2 marathon, I was pretty fed up with myself! I was hovering around 190 and couldn’t get lower. I’d signed up to walk the Disney World Marathon with TNT January 2007. A friend asked me to give running one more try even after I said I wanted to try walking fast. I decided on walking after realizing that 2 miles running on a treadmill was tantamount to death! I was working at the coffee shop in a job that I really didn’t like. I had to get up at 2:30 a.m. and got off around 1:30 p.m. I was trying to get through a semester of classes and seeing little point to a lot of things (hum … some things haven’t changed, hu?). The hardest thing for me was staying awake enough to train! I was surrounded by kids who partied all night and came in hung over … and who smoked continually. I was seeing the chiropractor 2 to 3 days a week to try to limit the pain I’d been living under since the 1994 car accident. I was a complete disaster after this race … but smiling. I’d walked the entire thing … kept myself going … 3:12:45 … Not bad for not training … had to work the next morning … was moving … slowly! I was afraid to ever do another long race at altitude after this as I was such a mess – sore, asthma, chafing in places I didn’t know existed …
What’s changed? I have taken myself in to hand and started to go through that hard process of weeding out all the crap and finding the gems. It’s been a real chore this year – but I know that in order to feel more confident about my racing and life, I’ve got to get through all the nonsense which has held me back for an excess of 40 years. I’ve also moved from reading (and giggling with) Dave’s Marathon Walking (still my favorite book – just needs updating) on the train to a job I truly hate … I’m now one of his ‘coach-ees’. I’m probably driving him into therapy … but it’s been an interesting ride for me to get through the depression … and all the stupidity that stemmed from coaching I’ve had from previous sports; coaches that didn’t give a fig about me or my ability to maintain my athletic growth in the long term … but there for short term gains … as I say … I think I owe Dave either a bottle of something … or at least the large size of Tired Old Ass Soak! 🙂

Where are things sitting these days? My latest and greatest 1/2 marathon time was Georgetown to Idaho Springs – 2:43:55 … I just don’t have a photo!

First 1/2! Boulder Backroads 1/2 Marathon September 2006

Surf City 1/2 Marathon - February 2008