Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Purpose of Life

Funny the things you think about when you're up super early for a run and have some quiet time alone. In the quiet hour between the end of last Thursday's morning run and my commute to work, I was thinking

I don't often get too contemplative these days - I think I left a lot of that navel-gazing behind with my teens - but I had read this comic from The Oatmeal recently and I think it was lodged in my head:
This is just an incomplete snapshot of the entire thing. He goes on to write that the things he loves don't often bring him joy - sometimes they make him suffer but they are compelling. That's how I often feel about writing and running!
I hate the two ends of the "meaning of life" spectrum: the positive side that thinks life is meant to bring you happiness and that you should feel fulfilled always, and the nihilistic side that thinks we're all just existing and there's nothing more to it, and that life owes us nothing so if we're not happy who cares?
Although I do find the Nihilist Memes page on Facebook pretty damn funny if you're into dark humor.
Side note: There are a million articles online about how to find happiness in life, and I feel like if you're reading those articles trying to pick up tips, you're going about it the wrong way.

Then I was thinking, really, what do I think the meaning or purpose of life is? Because when I'm just living it, I'm not enjoying it, and when I'm enjoying it, it may all still be meaningless, but at least I'm not miserable. I came up with three things that, to me, speak to the purpose of life:
The reality of the world we live in is that we won't enjoy every minute of every day. We need to do some things we don't love or aren't passionate about in order to survive, and I think anyone who says differently has more privilege than I've ever known. But we do need to enjoy life if we want to thrive, and there's a difference between surviving and thriving.

When I'm satisfying my curiosity, learning new things, exploring, and experiencing the world around me, life feels a lot richer.

We need to seek out things that engross us and prioritize them in a way that makes them part of our lives on a regular basis. If you don't know what that thing is for you, it's time to explore. Take a class. Volunteer. Learn to cook. Read more. Take a day trip. Go to a museum. Try your hand at drawing. Go camping. Whatever. For me, obviously, one of those things is running. It doesn't always make me happy, but it compels me.
Life itself may not have a definite purpose (to paraphrase the Oatmeal: that's okay) but it feels better when we're engaged with living. It's like I used to tell my students: you have to be here, so you may as well make the most of it!

How's that for a marriage between blind optimism and nihilism?

Do you think there's a purpose or meaning to life?
What enriches your life?


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Surprise Races!

You all know I've been training for this 10k in October. It's my goal race for the season in the sense that my year of short/speed is coming to an end and it will probably be the last race I run in 2016.

Well, that was the plan anyway. But two races kind of snuck up on me this week and I couldn't say no!
Overused, always accurate. Fun story: when I first saw Elf I wasn't a runner yet, so I didn't get this line; now, I feel like he knows my soul.
The first surprise race is a nighttime 5k this Friday. As in, three days from now. The race is a bit of a drive for us, but I'm excited for it because 1) Sean (remember him?) loves it and swears it's great 2) the after-party/dinner is supposed to be fantastic (even though I won't be able to partake), and 3) this year is the race's 5th anniversary so there's a finisher's medal!
I plan to run it HARD and see if I've kept up my fitness from May's 5k; if I can keep paces in the 8:40s again I'll be totally surprised and stoked, but that's kind of my goal/hope.

The second race is after the 10k. The other CRT (whose office I share) and one of our 5th grade teachers have been talking about training for their first 5k. They've been excited to run it but I can tell they're also a little nervous. This week, they jokingly challenged me to join them, and I immediately agreed.

They hadn't signed up yet, even though they've been training since summer, and I had the feeling they might chicken out, so I signed up and forced their hands.
First races are a big deal and I know they can either hook you and make you love running, or they can kind of scare you off for awhile. I want this to be a good experience for them, so I plan to run it at an easy and fun pace (because it's a themed race and I'm not sure if it's worth busting my butt over, but we'll see how I feel!) and meet them at the end with big cheers and smiles.

I want Elizabeth to run either race with me, but I really wish she could run the first. She's never run a a race before, and it would give her a race experience before our 10k (she's not sure how she'll be in a race atmosphere, understandably!) and because there's a finisher's medal, I think it would really make her feel excited and accomplished. Either way, I'm still (gently) working on her to join!
I want this to be EVERYONE'S reaction after their first race!
I've missed running 5ks; I can't justify running a race every weekend like I used to, but I'm really glad these two races popped up on my radar so I can fit in a few more before 2016 draws to a close.

Do you have any last-minute races coming up?
If you're a more discerning racer, how do you decide if you're going to participate in a race?


Today I linked up with Erika @ MCM Mama Runs for Tuesdays on the Run!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Workouts 9/19-9/25

Monday: Rest.

Tuesday: Elizabeth and I ran 5.3 miles over the bridge. It was really humid and warm, and I felt completely useless. I had to walk a lot and just felt really sick and lightheaded. The run took us an hour, which was much longer than I had counted on for the mileage, and my right calf was tight the entire time.
We ran up the bridge both times and then walked at the top before the descent; I also needed a walk break in mile 4. Obviously our splits speak for themselves. 
If Elizabeth hadn't been with me, I would have quit early. This was one of those days where having a workout buddy really paid off. I think my issue was partially low blood sugar (I had a Coke as soon as I finished the run and felt better.)

Wednesday: Wednesday I was still having some weird lightheadedness. I went home after work and did this video...
...followed by lots of stretching and some planks, etc. I was really just focusing on getting my calf feeling right.

Thursday: We had to run in the morning because I had another 5-8pm training. We did 3.4 miles at 5:15am and I felt really good. I took a salt tab before the run, and I think that made a big difference! I need to remember this and keep taking salt pre-run until the weather breaks.
I like that morning runs are all about fitting in as many miles as I can before I have to get back home...there's less pressure for mileage and more of a focus on time.
Friday: When I got home from work, there was constant thunder but it didn't quite look like rain. I got changed and went outside to run around 6:30, but literally made it five steps before lightning streaked across the sky directly overhead. NOPE.
LOL...that quick turn-around!
I really was excited to run and was feeling really good, but had to take my workout inside. I did some core and ab work, then squats, lunges, and some pushups and kettle-bell swings. Just a general full-body workout. It felt good, but I wish I had a treadmill!

Saturday: Rest.

Sunday: Elizabeth and I took a new route and ran 9.5 miles. The run felt awesome. It was 75 degrees with 91% humidity, but I felt great! My calves were still tight for the first 2.5 miles or so, but once they warmed up my legs felt strong. Considering I have a few little races coming up now, I need to figure out how to warm my calves up so they're not tight early in the run.
The one thing that sucked about this run is that our tracking failed at the very end. The Nike+ app has been going through some changes, and it's been awful. It glitches all the time. Today, it was working on my phone and watch without trouble, and I saw our splits about halfway through and heard the voice feedback at the end as it gave us our final pacing updates, but when I went to turn it off, it froze up and completely deleted our splits! I know early in the run we were at a 10:58 pace; at the halfway point we were at a 10:45; and by the end we were at a 10:35 overall pace, so I know we had some good negative splits. I'm pissed that the app ate my data.
I've contacted customer service and I'm glad I'm not the only one having issues - usually Nike is pretty good about changing things when many people complain.
I'm not the only one having this issue; the comments on the support pages and app store reviews all reflect that the new update is garbage. I've used Nike+ since 2009 and am comfortable with it; I like it better than using a Garmin. But if they don't clean up the new app, I'm going to have to stop using it.

Other than that, this long run was perfect! Again, I still need to figure out what to do about my calves early on during runs - if it takes 3 miles to warm up, then I need to bear that in mind on race days. Still, this was an improvement to how I felt Tuesday, so I'm happy! It was a great way to end the week!