Strong + Able

One year ago this week I got my first tattoo. On my left arm in my own handwriting in bold sharpie-thickness cursive, it says “strong + able”. For years this is a mantra I would say in my head over and over during my long runs and half marathons when I was feeling particularly defeated or exhausted. “Your body is strong. Your body is able”.

I also just finished my summer “race” season. Race seems to fit better in quotes, as I never feel like I’m actually racing. More like “completing goals I set out to do and paid too much money for” season. I digress.

As I was saying, I also just finished my summer race season, which included an Olympic-distance triathlon, a 50-mile bike ride, and a half marathon. One crazy morning in May I registered for all three and that was that. It would be my third triathlon, my second 50-mile ride, and my 10th half marathon. To clarify: in my lifetime, NOT this year.

Let’s back up. In April I decided to do something I deemed a “movement challenge”. Move intentionally every day for the month of April. I made a movement board and started this blog as a way to hold myself accountable. This kick-in-the-butt came after roughly a year of being stagnant, inconsistent, and overall not my best self, all these things in so many ways, physically, emotionally, and mentally. Also, depressed. The first time I wrote this paragraph I did not use that word. But that’s what I was, too. Depressed. Side note: It’s amazing what you can do and show on the outside that would lead you to believe I was not all these things. I did an Olympic-distance triathlon last year too during this time, among other physical endeavors.

The movement challenge did exactly what I hoped it would do. It showed me that not only do I love to be (and need to be for my mental health) physically active, but I also can make the time no matter what. It helped me with my language around what movement meant to me and reinforced that it’s not a punishment (this is why I’ve more or less stopped using the word “exercise”). It made me feel healthy and strong, inside and out. It gave me something to feel proud of, and I really needed that.

Finishing the half marathon last weekend was very emotional for me. Last year I had signed up for the same race (and have done it also in years past), but decided not to do it. I was not prepared. Physically I could have finished it, but emotionally I was in shambles.

I have been looking at my tattoo all summer, using it as motivation during my long weekend training rides, swims, and runs. Reminding myself that I like doing this. Reminding myself that my body is indeed strong and indeed able. Reminding myself that I am strong, and I am able. When I got it a year ago, I don’t know that I believed it. I don’t know that I thought I could be those things ever again.

So, as I said, finishing the half marathon last weekend was very emotional for me. It was just a race, nothing particularly special, one I’ve done before. My time was slower than years past. But it was a completion of my summer races, the three events I signed up for. Three events I trained for. Three events that I completed, as I set out to do. And I believed that I was both strong and able, as is marked on my body forever.

People say time heals. Time has helped the healing process. Time has been essential in doing the work. But my hard work is what heals. Movement heals me.

Femme Road Ramblings: You Go, Grrrl!

The sense of joy and pride I feel when I pull up behind another womxn cyclist is the same every time. I don’t feel alone on the road. I feel empowered, part of a community, and I want to shout over the rush of traffic and car engines and bus brakes, “You go, grrrl!”

What is really happening, instead, is I’m simultaneously attempting to catch my breath, trying not to get hit by a car, and playing through the remainder of my route in my head. I’m hoping my timing is right so that I can shower or not shower and maybe put on the shoes I brought or just leave my Tevas on and hope I haven’t sweated enough that my helmet hair is obvious and maybe put a splash of fountain or mascara on depending on how many people I will be in contact with for the day.

When it makes sense, my internalized “You go, grrrl” is nothing more than awkward good wishes for the morning or afternoon or a passing comment about the weather or the bad timing of every traffic light or the particular aggressiveness and collective hurry on the road.

Sometimes the number of womxn I share the road with is three or four bicycles deep, and I feel lucky enough to have stumbled upon this convention of sorts. Often, though, I am the lone goddess, being passed by folx in spandex or “work” clothes, not carrying much more than a small knapsack or just a bike lock in their back pocket, if anything. I am often envious and maybe annoyed that their bag isn’t full of toiletries and a hair dryer or several layers of clothing and shoes and accessories. I have found that I have kept up my pedicures and shaved my legs more often because I have convinced myself it balances out my slightly disheveled, make-up free mornings after a seven-mile ride up and down the Seattle landscape.

I had fears and insecurities around being exposed on the open road, the same as I feel when I’m walking around the city. The difference being that while walking I use headphones to “protect” me from unwanted comments or interactions. On a bike I’m hyper aware of my surroundings and any words or horns or objects coming my way. It surprises me that words hurled towards me have much more often been a cat-call for my bike over my body. That, too, has felt empowering. My bike is an object being objectified, as it should be, my strong body is just powering it.

I once was walking out of my office building in a plain cotton dress, bike shorts underneath, helmet and sunglasses on, wheeling my bike out to end my day. “You must get a lot of attention out there”. No, actually, I am happy to report your assumptions are wrong. And maybe too little attention, as cars turn in front of me or ignore the existence of a bike lane. The funny thing about being on a bike is you want to be seen. Ache to be seen. Hope to be as visible as possible by the tons of steels speeding around you.

April Challenge, Day 29

Today’s Movement: Cycle & Flow

Another Saturday morning at Live Love Flow. I gave my cycling shoes a first run, and they were more fun than I imagined. I’m interested to see how they change my work effort.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw AND I loved: Seeing lots of “new-to-me” folks in class. Saturday mornings seems to me a different crowd than during the week, one that I can more identify with. They are all badass in their own ways, but usually a crowd that feels like more of a “I don’t spin every day” or “I’m just trying this out because my friend made me” or “I had a ClassPass”.
#RealTalk: Seriously with the sweating this morning. I was dripping profusely all over my mat during yoga. I could see the beads on my freshly shaven legs.

April Challenge, Day 27

Today’s Movement: Running

Ahhhhh…that’s a relaxed “ah”, not a screaming “ah”.

Today was my first staycation day. I had a nice morning cuddling with my coffee, then a mani/pedi at Apollo Nail Salon, a cycle shoe fitting (and buying) at REI, another coffee at one of my favorite places (Espresso Vivace), a stop by Whole Foods, making Nom Nom Paleo’s Wonton Meatballs, then a speedy run down at the lake. Seriously, one of the best days off I’ve had in a long time.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: Rabbits! Because there weren’t a ton of people out when I went for a run, the rabbits seemed brave and were hopping across the path.
I loved: Everything about today, including my run.
#RealTalk: I was loving on myself with some selfies by the lake after my run. Seriously, I was feeling myself and my hair looked radiant with the sun bouncing off of it.

selfie

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April Challenge, Day 26

Today’s Movement: CrossFit

I woke up looking forward to the day, as it’s my “Friday” (I took a couple days for a staycation). The little met-con this morning after lifting was harder than it looked. Mostly just the double-unders. One minute of double-unders feels like an eternity. Mine was more like 25 seconds of double-unders, then just jumping rope. Either way, I was a sweaty mess.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: I realized through all of this that I don’t notice a ton in the early morning running to and from the gym. It’s more of a let’s get there/let’s get home. I’m sure there is a lesson in this…
I loved:
 Doing cleans. It’s a good lift – Not as technical as the snatch, but all about some fast elbows and a good squat.
#RealTalk: The jump rope marks when doing (missing?) lots of double-unders…

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Thanks, Rocket CrossFit!

April Challenge, Day 30!

Today’s Movement: Cycling (outdoors) & Stretching

Thirty days of movement – I made it! It seemed fitting to end as I began with a bike ride. I jumped on the light rail for a few stops then cycled another five miles or so to meet my spouse (her first ride of the year!) and a good friend and their toddler (her first ride ever!). We did a leisurely seven miles on the Burke-Gilman, all of us having our own challenges for the day (ask me about falling over in while still clipped into my bike…THAT’S going to take some practice), but enjoying the morning and camaraderie.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: The city waking up and being active on a Sunday morning – Cyclists, divers, runners, kayakers…
I loved: Being part of a toddler’s first ride and also being out the bikes for the first time with my spouse this year.
#RealTalk: Did I mention that clipless pedals / cycling shoes are going to take me a while to get used to? Ouch.

 

A multimodal morning!

 

April Challenge, Day 28

Today’s Movement: CrossFit

I got wild and crazy today and went to 7:00am class instead of 6:00am! Apparently this is what you do when you’re 32 and have another day off of work.

Don’t worry, after quite a productive day off yesterday, I spend the rest of today on the couch, watching fit people on TV and snacking on whatever I could find in the fridge.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: People going to work. But not me! (I feel like a “nanny-nanny-boo-boo” belongs here).
I loved: 
This workout. I mean, the bench was whatever, but the EMOM (Every Minute on the Minute) was made for me.
#RealTalk: 
If you would have told me six years ago that I would be throwing around barbells, I would have thought you were crazy.

April Challenge, Day 25

Today’s Movement: CrossFit

I woke up well-rested and ready to go this morning! Class was hard and sweaty, and when I got home I took a little longer than usual to get out the door to catch transit to work this morning. Sometimes doing emails in a bathrobe is just much more appealing than being at the office early.

ON THE MOVE:

I saw: One of my 6:00am CrossFit buddies on the light rail on the way to work. We both had to do a double take, as we both showered and not in workout clothes.
I loved:  That our coach was playing dance music this morning. It spawned a discussion about attending Daybreaker. (Briefly, it’s a morning yoga/dance party, which is the only kind I’m likely to attend these days, since I’m hard-pressed to stay up past 9:00pm).
#Realtalk: Ya’ll, I didn’t even mean to take that picture, but I saw it and decided it perfectly depicted how I’ve felt about getting my movement in last week.

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Thanks, Rocket CrossFit!

April Challenge, Day 24

Today’s Movement: Walking

Another Monday, another walk to the office through this beautiful (and very grey) city!

ON THE MOVE:

I saw:  The other day it was an eagle with a fish in its talons. Today I saw a little birdie with a worm in its mouth (the worm was still wriggling around)!
I loved: Making an impromptu decision to walk to work. The rain stopped, and I was sure that I wasn’t going to feel up for getting my movement in after work, so I just made it happen.
#Realtalk: Impromptu walking was great, but walking three miles in my boots was not ideal.

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Another angle of the downtown Seattle Library. I think this building is really beautiful, especially against the grey skies.

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