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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

stillness in motion...

As race season starts to take off, I'm realizing I won't have much time to post and keep this blog current, so I'm taking some time away and offline.  

We'll see... as summer rolls around and I get my weekdays back, maybe I'll want to bring 'the adventures of tree and log' back online.  

Meanwhile - thanks for reading, and happy spring!

Michelle

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A tat, a new pair of sneaks and an email.

This has been an interesting week for me....my new tat "Stillness in Motion" is complete
and it was 3.5 hours of icky pain...wow felt like hot bacon fat splattering on my inner arm over and over again ugh....the end result though is beautiful and so worth the bacon fat torture.  This new design was done by Steve the owner of KingsInk in West Acton, MA.  His shop was clean and bright and so very comfy.  He had a big jar of candy and I eventually ate about half of it before I left.  The tat has a great deal of meaning to me(the truth is they all do).  This one connects to both my running and my yoga practice.  When asked the significance of the words I used the visual of water flowing under ice....I feel like that when I am involved in my yoga practice and it is a practice for me as I am struggling to open my shoulders and hips to these poses these fluid movements.  I have never been what you would call graceful, or at least I would never have used that word to describe myself but I am finding grace not just within but I am experiencing it through my body and I like how it makes me feel and how it has started to slowly affect the relationship I have with my body.  I think my body is less sharp and angled... less lean and sinewy...and now fuller more womanly.  This of course is something that I am still getting used to as yoga is not my only new practice so is a healthy relationship to food..that is a practice as well. I wish I had always been told to look at LIFE like a practice...I think I would have been kinder to myself...more forgiving....When things are defined as a practice you are allowed to learn and change and grow and when you fail to hold a pose, or you eat poorly and or mindlessly or you let stress and fear take a hold...you can remind yourself that it is not supposed to be easy and there should not be an "end".
A truly fulfilled life (I am beginning to believe) is one where we are in constant transition with the ultimate goal of trying to KNOW ourselves better and to be a better person (the definition of "better" is different for each of us)  Julie and I talked about this very thing the other day..she made the point far more eloquently than I but I will try...I am starting to see that it is not always easy to discover your groove but "life is all about allowing for Grace through your next transition" - Shann Vander Leek

So I seek Grace through practice and by doing so I am finally being easier on ME....

Balance is both emotional and physical.  This week I work on both.

I got an email from Steve P. today.  It came as a result of a rant I had with Kev the other day about people who truly love ultra running vs wanting to run races to "bag" them like for bragging rights....

I run the New England ultras over and over again.  I run 10 mile WMAC races over and over again even though the paths can now be run with my eyes closed.  I run them to surround myself with people of like mind, to feel these familiar trails under my feet..I run them because it was once and I hope it will be again, my bliss...

My rant? It was really at heart about my sadness at not being born 20 years earlier.... to have missed ultra running when it was ummm simpler?  That is the best word I can use to describe it...simpler....yes....I wish I could be part of the old guard, old skool, but I am not...some of my contemporaries are real DB and I hate that....they leave a bad taste in my mouth and so I am going to take Steve's advice and purge that bad taste from my mouth and search for a little bit of that old skool honey : )

Monday, March 19, 2012

TARC Spring Thaw or The Yeti almost made me pee my pants

Sunday was the inaugural running of the TARC Spring Thaw... RD Em "Kitten" Trespass did an amazing job putting on this race...as you can see from my prerace smile I was so very much looking forward to getting back out there with the Trail Animals. I had a pretty red flower in my hair, my new Salomons on and I actually took a shower BEFORE a race...that was a first for me.

After a tough Friday (what with being sick Thursday night and feeling like crap all day Friday and on top of that having to go to the doctors) I gave myself a pretty relaxing Saturday (just an am hot yoga) that included sleep, REI, school work, and reading my new book....so when my alarm went off at 5:30 I felt ready to take Log for a run.  I made a smoothie with my new fav "greens" powder, almond milk, greek yogurt, chia seeds, flax and dark cherries and packed a Greens Plus protein bar and my vast array of pills : ( I tried out a new powder for my recovery bottle this FRS stuff (did not like it) and I had my handhelds filled with cold water all of this in my cooler with a change of clothes, socks and my new minimalist trail runners I got at REI (I will wear them to the gym but not run in them as my monkey feet like support and cushion) and I was off to Andover.

RD Em and TARC volunteer of the year Bill
When I pulled into the school parking lot there were a good number of runners milling about.  I saw Paul L, Deb and Scott L(with their two cuties),  Jeff L, Justin, just to name a few.  The runners were getting signed in and the aid station was starting to come together.  It was so great to see so many familiar faces...it was like coming home and I was pretty much on cloud nine.

I was so happy to see Bill and Em and Steve so I got my number and my art work (Em (an artist) made these gorgeous prints of the TARC yeti for every runner) and spent some time yucking it up  with those three and then I saw Streph which was AWESOME as I have not seen him in ages and then Rob ran up and we had a bunch of the original Tuggers there so I knew it was gonna be a good day.  I talked with Clint about Nipmuck and t-shirts and then headed to grab my stuff for the start.

I had not spent a great many miles on trail with Log as I have been focusing more on Tree and hiking as of late.  Running with Log is very different than hiking with tree and it is not just the weight.  It is the hiking versus running.  Running with a log on your shoulder makes you run differently as you need to compensate for not having the use of your arms to aid in your forward movement.  Log eventually comes to "burn" your shoulders and back literally (I have scabs after a run) and not so literally but a more beneath the surface of the skin muscle burn that keeps you sore for a few days.  The course was a 3.3 or so mile loop.  I ran the first four loops pretty quickly and took plenty of time between loops to gab and take pictures and just chill.  I wanted to get in at least 6 loops for the day and enjoyed this race as more of a training run than competitive race...even when I run "competitively" it is only against me.  There are some races I like to try to go for a PR like Speed Goat in July, and there are some races like McNaughton that I am obsessing about (in a good way) and I want to finish come hell or high water, but most of the time I see my races as training for the few races I choose as my personal competition races.  This race was awesome because I just went out there and had fun, gabbed with friends and worked pretty hard.
Me Em and the "Yeti" oh I wonder who was in the suit?
The day was just so well run and low key...I felt like I was running all day with a goofy perma grin on my face...at one point I was coming out of the woods near the start finish and the Yeti jumped from behind a tree and scared the living shit out of me..I screamed like a little girl....later in the race about 10' from the turn around start finish I tripped over nothing banged my chin with log threw log on the ground and twisted my ankle..such a horrendous display of goofiness and in front of quite a few people very typical of me as I am a huge dork.
Melanie was helping Em out at the start finish so I talked a bit with her before grabbing some chocolate covered almonds (the volunteers and the food were exceptional..they always are at the TARC races.  Back on the course I saw Marcy and she was running strong as was Brenda and so many G.A.Cers I can't even begin to name everyone (G.A.C. is another local (an most excellent) group of runners who put on the Stone Cat trail races a fav New England ultra).

The highlight of my run was a loop with Rob where we had such an awesome talk...it made Kev not being there a bit easier because Rob and I talked about things I would usually gab with Kev about (Thanks Rob you Rock!)

.  He was great and we gabbed and come to find out he buckled at VT and did Stone Cat in like 8 hours!!! holy crap that is fast in my book : )  All in all it was a PERFECT day.  When i got home I actually went out for another hike in Callahan with my weighted vest just to stretch my legs..I met up with Keith and his friend Guy and we hit Halfway for drinks, popcorn and good (bad for you) food.  I slept like a baby and I am so excited that trail running season has officially begun : )
Mike Mark(won Biggest Loser) and I at the finish with Log

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I once read the following...

I have no control over the things that thrill me...

I fell immediately in literary love with the author of those words....

I have been wondering about balance (as usual) as it is what I am seeking..what I yearn for...but I am realizing that my "state of balance" may just be very different in terms of how I define it then others...so  how do I balance my impulsive compulsive anxiety crap with what thrills me (in a positive sense) and my slightly off beat way of living my life and thinking about the world around me? Now that I have opened myself up to the people closest to me they feel more inclined to give their two cents about what is good for me...ugh and I have to admit I hate that..but it comes with the territory I guess...opening up = more scrutiny = more unsolicited advice.

So I have to deal with the scrutiny as I brought it on myself...but at the same time how do I advocate for the specific things (those things I KNOW I am passionate about, love, adore...things that thrill me and make me smile BIG)

One major example is DR. Some times I think I should just stayed focused on ultras.. the fact that they are making a reality show at DR this year (I had no idea this was the case until Keith told me the other day while training at Callahan as I thought this show was going to be located at some crazy remote place of the world and be filmed after DR) Truth is I am enjoying my training and I am looking forward to seeing old friends there and have fun and challenge myself..  Some believe the filming of a show will undermine the racers ability to focus on the tasks at hand and it will become a three ring circus.  My answer is as long as the filming does not effect the participants who want nothing to do with it I am ok with the fact that it is happening ....

I should not have to explain DR to anyone but I have now set myself up to HAVE to explain DR when I invite people into my life and share these things with them. I want to do DR because last year I had a blast with Jay and Dennis, I met great people like John M,  Johnny, Pete S.J., Erika, Jason and after the race I got to know the Tire Guys, Ryan B and Margaret and I have many people I am looking forward to meeting and or getting to know better (Grace she was just too fast to cross paths with last year!, Lisa, Kat, Lynn and so many others). I want to do DR again because I will force myself to learn to swim better, I have had to work on my wood chopping skills (I still suck) and I will be face to face all weekend with my own fears, inconsistencies and weaknesses and  I will get to know them intimately and by doing so I can find a way to over come them...
they say.
know thy enemy
in terms of DR the enemy is within me 
it is the fear we all have deep down inside of us
the fear of the unknown, the fear we are not good enough, strong enough
this is the enemy I must face...

So I guess the only thing I can say about DR is...

I have no control over the things that thrill me...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Breathe


I have questioned what I want to share on this blog..back and forth I go.  One moment I want to revert to what I was like before and the next moment I see the blog as just letting go of the past and putting it all out there so I can move forward...I talked with Kev last night and he reminded me that the writing of my blog is not really just for me...that I don't get many responses to what I write...I am not going to win any bloggie awards in fact most people who read it don't respond, but I have had a few responders and based on what they wrote and or emailed it has helped a few people. This journey is at times painful, embarrassing and most often silly and pathetic but those words pretty much describe some major experiences in my life..it does help me to share all this crap..it helps me to slowly peel away years of shame so I can feel lighter...so for now I am gonna share a bit more....I may pull back again who knows but for now it is time to open the door a little bit more...

I am learning new things about myself every day.  It is funny because I spent years ignoring any part of my emotional and or mental well being and focused only on the physical…..what my body was doing and or feeling in the moment….and now I am starting to take a new path...to look for a cause and effect in terms of my emotional and mental well being….

The first thing I am realizing is there is a relationship between the seasons and my emotional states as well as female hormonal fluctuations and my emotional and physical states. Now I know this is nothing new and most of you will be like "uh duh Michelle..you mean people feel sad and tired on rainy days and women are known to become slightly manic or lunatic like when they have their period? That explains sooooo much…thanks for your genius insight….gosh your brilliant (said very snidely as they knock me over)”   I know that those things are common knowledge but me taking the time to try to understand how they effect me....why I react the way I do to these outliers or how  hormones or weather or stress do play a role in terms of my bad days can help me to be proactive and try to stop them from occurring. I know that is a tall order... to try to have control . I am asking myself to control something that is by definition out of control... For those of you reading this who experience your own "out of control" moments (whether it is due to drug use, alcohol, food, sex, shopping...whatever) well you know it is easier said than done in terms of controlling the freight train that is bearing down on you and usually over takes you and then just runs you the F over....it is hard to try to stop that train, but I believe anything that is worth doing in life should be kinda hard... ya know?

So you see giving myself the opportunity to slow down and think about how I am feeling in the moment. It is funny how hard it is at times to relax, slow down and take a breath…I have always HATED being told to relax and I guess I am beginning to realize why it has always been a pet peeve of mine. I understand now that I have been told that since I was a child from family, friends and even strangers.   I am just starting to be aware that when anxiety gets a bit over the top I start to talk fast…REALLY FAST....one long run on sentence kind of fast with a bit of manic thrown in for good measure.  I also do not breathe and although I am unaware that I am doing it…everyone else must have been VERY aware of this....as looking back I have heard over and over again from childhood on..."stop holding your breath Michelle...or take a breath Michelle".   It kind of embarrasses me to think about it now.  When people tell me to relax or breathe or whatever the first thing that I always felt is shock as in "why are they speaking to me like that?"  and then I always felt hurt and then finally It would make me feel angry.

 I realize I need to be more "in the moment" and this will help me to pinpoint when I become a bit manic in my conversations.  This only happens with the few people I truly am close to (family, and a handful of others) but with everyone else I interact with I don't feel the need to be understood..I don't really care if someone thinks I am strange or doesn't get where I am coming from..  It is only when I really care about someone and have shown my real self that I want them to truly see me and hear me and know where I am coming from otherwise I just bop along as my silly little twitty self and don't really share much of anything. 

So I guess I am learning that when I open myself up to loving someone it is very important for me to have that person truly LISTEN and HEAR what I am saying and finally to UNDERSTAND.  Kevin and I have talked about being emotional loners where we may put up walls with the majority of people but if you do let someone in you have to feel understood.  I remember many times Trooper Dave staring at me funny when I was talking and him saying in a real calm voice "relax Michelle".  

So my goal now is to "realize" when I am doing this and to just stop talking and breathe.  Breathe until the need to explain myself passes by.  It doesn't matter if the few people I truly love misunderstand me...they still love me and that is all that matters in the moment.  I need to focus more on understanding myself.

So to do this I have been trying to get a better connection with myself….trying to become more aware of triggers and or outside influences that lead to episodes of anxiety, disordered eating or just that sense of overwhelming sadness I get once and awhile.  Yoga was the first step in this process and that has helped me enormously. This has helped to remind me to breathe…I have always preferred to hold my breath as it is a way to combat anxiety...I have always found comfort with this feeling..I imagine that when I actually take the proverbially "plunge" and put my head under water I will be able to hold my breath for ever.  Yoga has also helped with my running.  I have always been comfortable with ultra running as my cardio endurance is pretty strong, but sprinting and or explosive stuff has never really been my forte. Yoga is helping with this so that is an added bonus : )

I realize that I take more time to just be "in it"... to be in the moment.  I have been told that I sometimes "go away" as in one moment I am there interacting with a person or people and the next moment I am just gone..zoned out so deeply lost in thought that I am unaware of what is going on around me.    I have been told that there have been numerous times when I am talking on the phone and one moment I am in a conversation and the next I have drifted off..that I do not say goodbye but just kind of end conversations in mid stream as if I  snatched away..he jokingly states that I am an alien and I need to periodically return to the mother ship. I think it has something to do with being an introvert as I find comfort and energy from within.  I mean I am pretty comfortable with my own foibles and my own special brand of crazy me.
So to do list for today
breathing and living in the moment
check

Sunday, March 4, 2012

5 reasons....

So I got off my blog for a few weeks just to ground myself...to figure out what I wanted to really do with my blog....I felt that all the sad things that were happening in my life were taking over my blog and the picture I was painting through this blog was one of a achingly sad individual with no joy who took herself WAY to seriously...so this past week a few things have happened to make me feel like I want to write again : )

First I got some yucky news in terms of my health... and yet I felt renewed by it and not devastated...just another challenge and I do really well when I am faced with a specific thing to deal with.... so instead of feeling sad...well it just made me meet with my new tat guy Steve to start the design of my sleeve : )

Second I had a really great visit with R over the vacation...and I am again back to writing letters to him....

Third I have four visits with S under my belt and you know what?  I am feeling like there is a light at the end of the tunnel...it is small but visible...

Fourth I ran the Peak snowshoe race..and I DNF'd AGAIN!!!!  I finished 50.3 miles  based on the GPS I borrowed from the cute young guy (sad when you see a cute boy and you realize with dread he could be your son) I honestly could not do the extra miles past 50 due to the tootsie pain... I could not handle the awful pain the snowshoes placed on my Achilles and I was so scared I would mess up my feet for McNaughton...but the good news is I got to do a loop with Margaret and get to know her better (I found the more you know ..the more there is to like and respect about her) I ate really well and felt no guilt over the intake of food (saw food as fuel people..seems like a noabrainer but for a person with an e.d. that is not always easy) in fact in 22 hours I ate one chicken sandwich and one turkey sandwich, seven protein bars, and orange, a banana and some sport beans! Also a big success for me was the fact that I was never cold!!!!  My fuel and my gear were perfect..if I could have run the other 50 with sneakers and micro spikes I would not have dropped at 50 but then again I entered a SNOWSHOE race not a trail race...let me tell you  Courtney who I spent time with on the trail is a tough dude as he continued on to a finish.  I think it may have been smart to actually use the snowshoes at least once before committing to a 100 miles race : )

Fifth and the thing that makes me smile was finding this email from Kev....
If this is how he sees me I feel the need to take a step back and really look at myself...
maybe it is time to give myself a break : )

I will end this blog post with his words....

Michelle Roy is my best friend.  Wicked intelligent and
self-confident, selfless, and among the most compassionate and
strong-willed people I've ever met.  I know this not just from
personal experience over the years, but from the stories others have
shared with me.

These attributes are each positive in a vacuum, though situations can
present themselves where she will exude them to a fault.  I've seen
Michelle's compassion for others and selflessness come back to haunt
her - causing her to become compromised physically, and question what
more *she* could have done, or how else she could have given of
herself to help - even when she'll incur guilt or stress in the
process.  And her strong will can cement thoughts or perceptions
(right or wrong) even before she has a chance to vet them with others
/ in the real world.

Michelle is also the happy-go-luckiest person I've ever known…
formality is a curse word to her most of the time, in a very
refreshing way.  I believe that as introverts we keep ourselves
charged up with personal time, so that we can go with the flow of
others when necessary/desirable.  When the social occasion/group suits
her, she's as sassy and outgoing as they come - and is proud to show
that self-confident part of herself.  When she's focused on
'something' she wants, she won't rest until the world knows as much,
and she's gone about making that 'something' hers.  Fortitudine
vincimus.