Reading in the Spring

It’s like clothes.

In the winter you settle down in thick, gray and black sweaters with a thick and small-black worded novel. The coffee pot is on, the soup is souping on the stove and the darkness outside is matched within the dark characters of your book.

For me, the winter was composed of Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, and a scary horror/sci-fi manuscript my co-reporter is working on and wanted me to read and edit.

By the time March and early April rolled around, I needed some light and when I mean light, I mean girly, happy, and flowery, I guess is what you could describe my desire by.

Once April came I switched it up. Big time.

From Stephen King’s “Gunslinger” to L.M. Montgomery’s “Anne of Green Gables.” And, to a row of audio books in the feminist genre: Caitlin Moran’s “How to be a Woman” and “How to Build a Girl” Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Committed” and currently, Roxanne Gay’s “Bad Feminist.”

When I started “Anne of Green Gables,” it took me awhile to get past the simple writing and the notion I was reading a “children’s” book.

anne

 

However, that soon went away. I loved it. The book was just what I needed to get out of the winter slump. Anne is bright, fun, energetic and loves the outdoors. Montgomery’s descriptions of the springtime at Green Gables was perfect, especially while reading with the sun shining down me and the cool breeze whistling through.

I started the 375-page book just a few days ago, but it was a slow start. Then, yesterday I read every chance I could get and read nearly 90% of the thing. My goal was to  finish yesterday night and stay up late if needed be, but if you know me, you know staying up a minute past 10:30 p.m. is not possible. Sadly, my eyes drifted shut, and by the third time I knew I had to give up.

Instead, I woke early this morning and read some and finished it during work today. (Don’t worry I had all my other work done.)

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, yet there is one thing I still cannot get understand:
How did I NOT KNOW there was a series of 8 books? This bothers me, almost as much as recently learning that Cinderalla’s name was given to her by her step-sisters because of all the cinders she is covered in. Mind blown on that one.

I am starting on “The GoldFinch” now by Donna Tart, but I guess I have my summer reading ready to go now!

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The dream of an Insomniac

A non-running post:

Every night I look forward to the bed-time ritual. The sweatpants and baggy t-shirt on, hair in some sort of ponytail, that really does resemble the hair on a horse’s ass. Maybe my teeth are brushed, and maybe there is some applying of lotion so when I get old, my skin doesn’t look like I really did spend my entire childhood lying at the beach with 4 percent sunscreen on. Yes, they make it that low.

The heated, probably going to give me cancer, blanket is cranked up to 9 and the nightstand is littered with chocolate pieces and tea and water-either from that day or five days ago.

Yes, I enjoy my bedtime. 9 p.m. I start to feel it, that droopiness of my eyelids, the fatigue in my muscles, and the blood shot eyes I get – the sure giveaway that Jessica is tired.

I snuggle into bed, prop open the book and bam! I am snoring with my mouth open, lying on my right side, arms outstretched and there’s no waking this corpse until 2:30 when all that water and tea makes a comeback.

5/6 a.m. blares on the iPhone alarm clock and I’m up. Rise and freaking shine.

Still groggy, still feel like my muscles have turned to jello, but the act of falling back asleep for another one or two hours is beyond a no-go.

Its Saturday morning, on a Saturday I don’t work or don’t have to go run.

Its times like these I wonder, “Why even sleep?” Yeah, yeah sleep is your body’s resting period, it helps recover your muscles, and gives your brain time to recharge… Trust me, I am sure I can lounge around a few hours during the day to give my body those exact things.

No. Sleep is what keeps me from doing all the things I say I am going to do in the day. Read 50 to 100 pages of this book, so I can jump to the next one.

Start knitting again and finally finish that other leg warmer, because really, my other leg is cold.

Listen to more music, watch more classic movies.

When I attempt these, one thing usually happens: I fall asleep.

I fall asleep thanks to my tired body going through work all day and then running as many miles as I can before the treadmill stops me at an hour, or the darkening daylight warns me of the predators that stalk the bike trail at night. Don’t worry, they are usually just squirrels.

Some nights there are dreams, and that’s nice. Like running an ultra where I start late and end up in first place-I have had this one many times and each time I win, it’s pretty remarkable.

Or the one where I finally kiss the boy next door who I have been crushing on since he began driving me to swim practice.

But what I want to dream about, what I wish in that, “that would be nice but get real” kind of way, was to be an insomniac.

When I say insomniac though, I don’t want the bad habits, the horrible health effects from not sleeping, and the weird connotations that come with people who say they are insomniacs.

I want to be the Cullen vampire who doesn’t sleep and like him, (Edward..yes I’ll admit I was an Edward fan) achieves hours of reading, exploring, and learning how to play the piano. Or like the coupled vamps who spend every night fucking each other instead of just sleeping peacefully in each others’ arms. I’m sure my boyfriend would go with that one.

Without sleep, my list of books to read, “Books every 20-something Should Read before they grow up” or the 300 or so books mentioned in Gilmore Girls, or hell, I will even take a stab at reading the entire Bible, would all be ticked off.

I would run, lift, plank those abs, and stretch and do yoga like I was training for the Olympics.

I would read every book, watch every movie, write everything that goes through my mind during the day. I WOULD BE SUPERGIRL.

But I write this while looking at my screen with droopy, tired eyes and glancing down at my journal planner, where there are several things not checked off.

How many times does my journal have a To-Do List task that doesn’t get done? How often does a simple 300-page book take me two more weeks than it should have to read? How often do I fall asleep during that classic movie?

Will insomnia fix it? Sure, things would get done, but then what? Of course, the answer: More things will come up.

I am tired of it…get it?

I am tired of being tired.

I am tired of trying so hard to get everything done.

I am tired of trying to be perfect, because honestly, why should I be?

At the end of the day, does it really matter the book isn’t finished? That movie isn’t watched? That leg warmer will stay single?

No, because to me insomnia means perfection.

And, insomnia, from what I have read, really doesn’t work. And, perfection, as I have tried myself and I have many quotes to back me on this, really doesn’t work either.

So, I guess I’ll go get some sleep now. I’m not even going to bring my book with me.

 

 

 

Marathon Training is hard

I knew what I was getting into when I began this training right? I started the training weeks with one goal in mind: to run a marathon in under 3:15. Seemed do-able, yes. Physically I believed (and still do) that I can run this time, yet it was always the mental aspects I knew I was going to struggle with.

I am five weeks out from the Cleveland Marathon on May 16. It is a Sunday race, something that I just like about the weekend and thought I would throw in. I am so excited to run and so excited to be done.

Five weeks out, and I just finished an easy 4-mile shake out run Monday morning. And, it was not that easy.

Last week was a rough one, both in running and just in life.

Monday was an off day, which I usually take after the long run on Sunday. Then, Tuesday came around….Instead of the 8-10 miles I was planning on doing, I left the house for a night at Barnes and Noble. The weather was decent, not great, but I got home and the thought of putting my running shoes on was unfathomable.

Honestly, the thought of just changing my work clothes into running clothes, I just couldn’t do it.

It wasn’t even the feeling that once you get started on the run, it would be okay. I knew my body needed to NOT RUN.

Looking back, I wish instead of running, I went to swim or bike, but again the feeling that I just needed to do something other than work out or work was too strong to overcome.

I grabbed Ken, my bf, and we headed to the best place ever, Barnes and Noble. We stopped by Lemon Tree, a Mediterranean fast food restaurant, to grab some dinner, then settled into B&N. With a chai tea and a dark chocolate, hazelnut granola bar for dessert I spent the evening finishing up my article for my freelance gig and getting talked into buying a new laptop.

Tuesday ended with a new MAC Book Air, a brand new journal, so that I could begin bullet journaling and a happy mood.

The rest of the week was spent indoors on the stupid treadmill while the outside tried to decide if it was snowing, raining, or sunny.

I ended the week with a cold, easy 6 miles in the trails in preparation of a long 20-miler on Sunday, the 20 miler that turned to just run for two hours on the treadmill, to just run 10.5 miles and then finish the workout with 30 minutes on the bike adding another 10 miles. Hey, I got in in 20 miles right?

Sunday night, I was done. I was painfully icing my ankle, which has been bothering me and feeling like I got hit by a car and waiting to get hit again.

So when this week started, which it is now Tuesday, so I may be premature in this, I wanted to get a fresh start.

I climbed out of bed Monday morning to run an easy 4 miles in the beautiful 46-degree weather! It was not the best run, since my legs still felt pretty heavy, but I was just happy to be outside.

Tuesday was another outdoor run, but still a bit chilly. Ended with 9 miles, through the local bike trail. Again, legs did not feel 100 percent fresh and peppy, but the mindset was back.

The mindset of what I was doing was back, what I was trying to accomplish, and how important my goals were back.

And, once I realized: marathon training is hard. It is hard to always be up for a run when the weather sucks and the last thing you want to do is put your shoes on. It is hard to get in 50-60 miles with a 40-hour a week job, freelance work, a weekend gig at the local running store, and future work on its way. It is hard to out 50-60 miles on your body, particularly on an ankle that was once cut up in surgery less than two years ago.

Yet, you have to admit it is hard and move on. You have to admit to yourself why it is hard and try to overcome each obstacle in a smart way. For me, I have to acknowledge my limits with my ankle, and realize that weeks of 50-60 miles may not be the best thing for me.

But, you have to admit and realize that you train for a marathon, or any race, because it is why we do it: because it is hard. It’s that saying from “A League of their Own.”

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t, then everybody would do it.”

blog-a league of their own

Why do we put our bodies into this pain, this fatigue? For most it is the outcome: the goal time, the act of finishing a race, etc.

But what I realized a long time ago while in swimming, I like the pain of training. I like being sore and tired and famished from a hard workout, because I like knowing that I am pushing my body to it limit. It is the mental side where the hardness is too much for me. I have never been a good racer. I used to make myself sick before big meets and would end up choking and crying afterwards.

With running, the nerves were there but never as bad because I believed it was the long-distance ultra thing that allowed me to tell myself, “All this is, is running. Running and eating. No one watching you race 7 other people in a pool. This was just me.”

This is what helped me place third in my first 100, and first in my last two races. The pressure was never there.

But, then the HUFF 50k race came in December and the pressure was back. Back with tough competition, a nagging foot injury, horribly freezing weather.

The ankle made me stop physically, but mentally the race beat me. It was back in high school and I was swimming next to some freshman and watching her feet flutter away from me.

That feeling of not living up to expectations, which were usually mine, was back and was not ready for it.

I am really trying to keep these thoughts from entering my mind, now with five weeks to go until another huge race.

Yes, the competition aspect of the race wont be there, but the time pressure will. I am going for a time and many people know it. Some say, ‘oh that will be easy,’ and after a good interval or long run workout, I believe them. But after other days, like every run from last week, those doubts come rushing back in.

This is normal right? It is right to doubt oneself sometimes, because that is what makes training hard. It is the fact that the months of working out beyond anything else is, knowing there will be obstacles and will be triumphs, is what makes the hard become softer as time goes on, and you, the runner, much stronger with each step.