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Rat Race

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The abrupt 5:42 AM morning wake up.

The breakfast routine where the princess just can’t decide what she prefers on her plate.

The putting-on of the shoes, jacket, gloves and hat while moving at a sloth’s hasty pace.

The school drop-off where you’re sad to say goodbye, but must pry the child’s hands off your leg ASAP so you can squeeze in a morning run!!

The quick jiggity jog followed by chaotic locker room rantings when you realize you forgot to pack your skivvies for work. Yup.

The day job. No lunch break. No down time. 8 clients in 7 hours. Annnnnnnnnd GO!

The “it’s already dark out and I feel like a bad mom” after school pick up.

The making of the dinner you wish was an organic, free-range, hand-carved pheasant with a delicious side of slow-roasted potatoes and green beans, but really it’s just a pot of rice and beans. Fill ‘er up kiddo.

The washing of the dishes. The packing of the lunches.  The paying of the bills. The subsequent freaking out about the bills, your finances, your livelihood and how you’re going to have to work till your 90 years old. The doing of the laundry. The setting out of the running clothes. The packing of the gym bag.

The bathtime bubbles that go everywhere. The battle over brushing the teeth. The stories, lullabies and I love yous.

The boyfriend phone call to say goodnight that miraculously makes all the chaos feel manageable.

The passing out while doing coaching emails (job #2) sometime between 10 and 11 pm.

The doing it ALL OVER AGAIN the next day.

And the day after that.

And the day after that.

And the day after that….

Welcome to the rat race.


The Rat Race: where it’s not all bad, but it’s surely not always great either. Some days it just… well, it just is.

Calm down. I assure you, I love my life. In many ways I am very very happy and have much to be thankful for with Lillian, Christopher and my supportive family by my side.  Plus running, coaching marathoners and counseling add color to my life in ways I could have never imagined. Yet over the past four months I have noticed something gradually starting to weigh on me: the monotonous day.

I’ll be honest- I find it affably obnoxious that the very thing I routinely search for [consistency & balance] often leads to a sense of boredom and a feeling of complacency. Now maybe that statement isn’t completely right. It’s not complacency that ails me, but rather the humdrum nature of the day that sometimes leaves me wondering, “Is this it?” Like I said earlier, I love many facets of my life and yet the constant balancing of the check book is taking a toll. I’m making enough, but I’m working my bum off. Lately I have felt like I’m just trying to survive the to-do list of the day. Just make it though Monday. Then Tuesday. Then Wednesday. And so on. The concept of going shopping for new work clothes or taking Lillian to events around Boston just feels so far right now. I can’t be alone in this…. please say I’m not alone in this…. anybody?

Maybe it’s the rat race wearing me down or maybe it’s the fact that I’m a single working marathon mom and some days I’m just spent. Marathon or not… single or part of a team… working or at home… each path has it’s own strengths and struggles. It’s time to face facts: I really just want to become independently wealthy, move to Alaska and run mountain trails day in/day out for as long as my legs will hold me. Oh and there will be plentiful amounts of cookies, ice cream and cinnamon buns at my disposal. Is that really so hard to ask??

Alas, I am NOT independently wealthy. I AM a single working mom. And I AM training to run my third Boston Marathon come April 2017.

So I run. I keep moving forward. Never stop running.

 

The funny thing is that I don’t just run to train. What I mean is that I don’t spend my days thinking about the Boston Marathon or my goal pace etc. In fact it rarely enters my mind. As I mentioned earlier sometimes it’s hard to see past the day. While this can feel limiting, at times it is refreshing- like when I’m running. ESPECIALLY when I’m racing!! A little over a week ago I raced the first race of my training cycle: the SSYMCA Frozen 5k 2017. I stood at the starting line a smidge nervous as I eyed the other runners. I know enough now that just because you “look quick” doesn’t mean that you have the passion to push hard and just because you don’t have a “runners body” (like myself with my meaty legs and short boxy torso) doesn’t mean that you can’t hustle your bum into a place on the podium!

From the moment the race began my mind went blank. I kept my eye on the leading female and for twenty minutes (and nine seconds :)) I repeated to myself, “Keep pushing. Never stop running. Keep pushing. Harder. Cant stop, won’t stop, never stop running.” I found my manageable-yet-very-uncomfortable pace and held it strong for 3.1 miles. Not once did I doubt my own ability. Not once did I ponder if I would be able to manage. Not once did I complain to myself about the hurt.  For the first time in a long time I just…existed. For twenty minutes I didn’t worry about anything. My mind wasn’t racing. I didn’t feel overwhelmed, unsure or incapable. I just existed in the moment running and breathing, breathing and running, and it was GLORIOUS.

This day was different.

This day wasn’t a rat race.

This day was MY race and it didn’t feel so humdrum after all. 🙂

The female lead tugged me along to push harder, run faster and put every morsel of my being into that race. I may have come in second place but I ran 11 seconds faster than the previous year and put in a much harder effort. Did I mention that IT FELT AWESOME?!?!

It may be Monday night where the rat race is in full swing but this feels different- something lit up inside of me last weekend. The race, the competition, the giving it everything my body had and the 20 minutes of empty, calm bliss that enveloped my brain. Pure perfection. There’s only one option: I NEED TO RACE AGAIN, and SOON!!

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Some of my east coast athletes and I at the Quincy SSYMCA Frozen 5k on 1/22/17

 

UP NEXT:

MV 20 Miler on 2/18 as a training run

Black Cat 10 miler in Salem 3/11 as a RACE

Eastern States 20 miler  3/25 as a training run

 

Never stop running… or racing <3

Kass

 

 

 

 

 

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The Secret Life

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With my piping hot coffee in hand and my leather booties click-clacking their way along the pavement I power walk my way from the gym to my office. Just an hour earlier I was focused and running hard run along the cool, still waters of Wollaston beach with Boston’s skyline peaking out in the distance. And now? Clickity-clack I go in my red blouse, navy blue slacks and my fancy shoes into the parallel universe known as my day job.  Careful to not spill coffee all over myself in true Kass fashion I hold my arm uncomfortably erect in hand and far from my body. I will not drip coffee on this blouse. I repeat- I will NOT drip coffee on my new blouse. I vow to avoid doing dry cleaning for as long as humanly possible because #1 that shit’s expensive and #2 last time I did dry cleaning I left it there for over a month. 

 

I arrive at the counseling center a mere 3 minutes before my 10 am client arrives. Typical. I maximized my Lilly time, my run time and my shower time to minimize my time at work. Don’t get me wrong I like work, actually I love it, but I love my daughter, the rush of the road and a relaxing hot shower just a wee bit more. Is that weird?

 

My days are spent in back-to-back therapy sessions from 10 until 5:30 pm. What do I really do during this time? I listen with my heart open to those around me.  An emotionally charged position and yet incredibly fulfilling career in so many ways this is what I  have been searching for for so many years. I listen, validate, advise, reflect and reframe the thoughts and feelings of my clients. I hope that my presence helps take some of their pain away, much in the same way that running takes mine away. Funny how they only see my therapist side: a true facet of my being and yet only a small sliver of my persona.

 

Running often feels like my secret life; it’s a window into a world where life feels manageable, peaceful and balanced. Running is the deep breath in my busy day.

 

My clients don’t know that I ran 9 miles this morning HARD. I nailed a 2 by 2 mile tempo at a 7:10 minute/mile pace across all four miles. YESSSS!

They don’t know that I woke up at 5:30 am to finish off my athlete training plans before I went for my morning run.

They didn’t see me with my hair tied back in a high pony, my face flushed bright red or the sweat dripping down my forearms and off of my elbows.

They didn’t see my focused fury on the road.

They didn’t see me fighting for every second.

They couldn’t hear me reminding myself that YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE!! 

They don’t know that I always find my way to the coast to run by the water. The backdrop of the rising sun over the boats in the still water relaxes me.

They don’t know what it is like to watch the sun rise from the road and to feel the crisp morning air fill your lungs.

They don’t know that running is when I feel at peace. Running is when I feel alive. Running is when I feel strong.

They don’t know that running reminds me that everything will be okay.

They don’t know what running changes me, inside and out.

They don’t know that running is my therapy.

 

In so many ways my clients and colleagues don’t know the real me.

I suppose they don’t really have to know. They don’t have to get it.

I run for me.

 

…random thoughts by yours truly.

 

Never stop running,

The Lone Runner

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What is it about Winter?

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If I wrote this post on Saturday I would have been on cloud 9, top of the world happy and feeling damn good about training. I had completed a 7 mile easy run followed by a bootcamp so nasty that it leaves you curled up in the fetal position begging for mercy and yet somehow simultaneously smiling. How is this possible? I have not a clue.  Naturally, I bought a 10 pack to the class.

Unfortunately it’s not Saturday. I’m not visiting my boyfriend in Connecticut. And I’m not recovering from an awesome two hour workout. In reality it’s 8 pm on Wednesday night and I’m sitting at home alone (kiddo in bed) while begrudgingly petting the needy cat that I desperately love and I had one of the cruddiest runs that I can remember this morning.

Right now- in this moment I’m feeling off. I’m feeling not myself. I’m down about my running and my pace. My conversational paced runs have been hovering around an 8:30 pace (a far cry from my 7:50-8 pace of yesteryear). I’m doubting my ability to throw down in a race. I’m frustrated with my weight and my body- which really means I am mad about what I am actively choosing to feed myself each and every day, shame on me. I have no idea how the next 5 months of training are going to go. Right now the notion of training through the bitter cold day after day just plain scares me.

On Monday I actually felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I looked at myself in the mirror and recalled the immensely toned body that attacked New York and Chicago Marathons just a few years ago.  Where did that woman go? Did I like her? She was physically strong, but was she healthy? I have no idea anymore. In the face of a failing marriage she escaped to the streets and the gym. Her body was well put together while her heart was slowly breaking. And now? My heart feels full of all the warm and fuzzies in this new relationship while my running focus is moderate at best. And my nutrition focus? Good grief, we won’t even go there.

What is wrong with me?? These are not the words of a passionate, motivated, strong woman. This is not me. Guys, I think I’m in bit of a slump when it comes to my training. And the first step of un-slumping myself has to be simply admitting my slump-like tendencies.

 

And when you’re in a Slump,

You’re not in for much fun,

Un-slumping yourself

is not easily done.

 

I’m well-aware that my plate is full. I just started a new, full time job as a therapist…. and I’m coaching 16 one-on-one athletes… and I’m a recently divorced single mama… and I’m in a long-distance relationship (hehe yay)… and now I’m training for the Boston Marathon. On a day to day basis my plate feels VERY full. But honestly I’m not sure it’s my full plate that is causing the slump because EVERYONE has a full plate. Every single reader out has a to-do list miles long. So what is it? Honestly, I’m not sure but I’m blaming it on WINTER. Yea, you heard me right :).

Winter. This Godforsaken time of year when the days are shorter, the wind whips off the water and the streets can be slipperier than expected. How the hell did I do this last year? And the year before? How did I train though winter??? And why am I so slow right now?? Enter slumpy-slumperson.

Well that mentality stops RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW. I am writing this post to hold myself accountable because here is what I know:

 

1. Consistency is key. Progress is made through small, daily successes. Focus on making the right decisions in the moment and the small success will add up to a healthier lifestyle.

2. Focus on eating well and executing the daily workout as best as possible and THAT will lead to successful training. Don’t worry about tomorrow’s workout, or this weekend’s long run – just focus on what I need to do TODAY!

3. STOP EATING TREATS SO OFTEN. Treats will be saved for long-run days. Boom. Done.

4. I will never, ever stop running. Giving up is not an option. Never was, never will be.

 

Every marathon training cycle represents a chapter in the book of my life. This chapter represents my return to officially training while juggling many, many responsibilities. If I have learned anything from the work I do it is this: many people live life one day at a time. Honestly, I know that it’s pretty damn normal to feel overwhelmed. I know that it’s normal in winter to prefer to stay in the warmth of my home over the cold of the streets. But I also know how running makes me feel inside and out- strong, accomplished and capable of more. As much as I want to sleep in most mornings or watch late night tv with a bowl of bon-bons the end results of those decisions isn’t a happy me.

I am stronger than I think I am. I am strong. I had to write that again to just remind myself of that fact that I throw to the curb so easily in times of stress. I can be a full-time working single mom who marathons. YES I CAN. I WILL. I AM. I’m here and I’m committed to giving this training everything I’ve got. It’s going to be hard, but then again- everything worth doing is hard. Holy shit- I’m pumped!!!!! It’s time to get ready to Boston!! And away we go!

 

** Base building**

I have spent the past month of November focusing on building back a base mileage of about 35 miles/week to kick off my official Boston training this past Monday December 5th. This past month my runs have been very straight forward- zone 1/conversationally paced runs 4x a week with 2 days of strength. The idea behind base building is that I can run 35 miles a week very comfortably so now I will incorporate intensity (speed) without taxing my body too much. In theory this means I should be able to go harder!! Tomorrow I start back up with more challenging runs- I have my first structured tempo run since last April!! Whoa!! It’s been a while since I’ve really truly trained for a race. It’s time to refocus, recommit and get ready to BOSTON.

 

xoxo

Never stop running,

The Lone Runner

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