Posts tagged commuting
Posts tagged commuting
Work, travel, time, stress… did you know that PR pros currently have 7th most stressful job in America? True, for me leaving the office isn’t a life or death situation, because it’s inevitable that Big Tobacco will still be there to fight in the morning, but my afternoons are often cluttered with last minute meetings or reporters calling to make news deadlines… In general, living in DC can be tough – you can easily lose yourself in the day-to-day hustle, a sort of type-A rat race comprised of commuting and commitments.
In the past year I’ve really struggled to find and figure out my work/life balance. I felt broken and stretched for time, trapped below the florescent glow of my office lights long after everyone else was already at the gym. Amongst missed metro trains and deadlines, there were many nights of trudging home in the dark leaving a small trail of tears in my wake. My stress quota would fill and my little world would explode into a thousand pieces.
Exercise is extremely effective in helping to manage stress and cortisol, I know this – for me workouts are therapy, going to the gym is like going to church… my time to unwind and decompress… tune in, soul search. I crave it, need it, feel lost without it.
I’ve written a few times about forcing myself into the darkness and pounding out miles alone on the city streets… running away the day… having a healing session with the stars. I hated missing my afternoon workout happy hour. And the more frustrated I became, the longer the workout plateau felt. Nothing was getting better, just stagnant or slow.
I forced myself to reframe my thinking. The action of holding myself accountable was more important; I stopped worrying about times or pounds or miles. I re-built from the inside. Small wins. Day in and day out. My 366 photos helped me do it. I was forced to find a piece of fit every day, whether I wanted to or not… whether here in DC, or on the road, I was on the hook for doing something… so I made my way to yoga studios, and found Crossfit gyms in the craziest of places. I ran with friends and sometimes just walked through the woods with my family and the bulldog.
I had fun. I tried new things and learned from new people. Through my adventures I re-discovered and renewed my enthusiasm. In the end, the rumpled routine helped me approach life a little differently. Life happened and I learned how to fit it in… I implemented survival strategies, achieved better balance.
Waking up early sucks most days, but since I can’t control my afternoon mayhem, I’ve learned and adopted morning workouts. Sure, I feel weaker, and sometimes I feel left out and miss the camaraderie of my afternoon workout crew. But my changed schedule equals reduced stress and a re-set mindset - I’m not needing to quick-change on the way from commute to class. My own time table. My own course of action.
Along the bumpy road, boom! I got my groove back.
There it is. The last one. 366 days of finding fit. I survived.
My intent was to document my life in photos for a year (a leap-year)… challenge myself to think about health every day by finding focus and fitness in places that I normally wouldn’t, and in some that I would. Be it Crossfit, or the high school track, or eating right, or remembering to take the stairs at work… The photos have held me accountable, pushing me out the door and into the darkness on nights I just didn’t want to run, and encouraging me to register for races I hadn’t researched. All for a photo? Perhaps sometimes, but most often… for myself. Figuring out exactly what the picture would be each day was just part of the journey.
In 2011 – I ran my ass off, raced until I couldn’t race any more. So at the start of 2012, I filled my life with intentions and promised that it would be a year of self-discovery – looking in and learning more about how far I could push, if I could find balance, keep myself engaged and continue to press out of my comfort zone. I realize that this year I’ve hit my stride, settled into my 30’s and finally feel comfortable just being me. In doing so, I’ve stumbled upon a deeper understanding of self-awareness and strength. Sometimes parts of the journey have been bumpy, but along the way, I decided to edit my definition of success, proving that: “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” And, I’m in this for the long-haul. A lifetime.
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel at the end, but I have to admit that I’m pretty emotional looking back through the pictures. It’s pretty cool to see a year’s worth of work… each moment is a memento…. a snapshot capturing a day or a workout or a race or a memory. The photos don’t only represent personal dedication or accountability for my actions, they each have a full backstory. An adventure. A day along the road to building a better me, figuring out my course for life. Behind them are friends, and coaches, and family members… wins and losses and firsts… achievements and rest-days… exploits and escapades. Whether it was Monday night rec hockey or the Tuesday night ‘run-for-fun club’… Skiing at nearly 13,000ft, finding myself in the midst of a Cold War or crossing off bucket list item #82, they each mean something special and I hold them close to my heart.
I’m sure that anyone who sees me daily would tell me that they are ready be done with me saying, “waiiit… I need a picture for today.” But taking the photos and remembering to share them became a part of my routine – a window into my world. Over the course of the year a few themes seemed to emerge, so I figured I’d list them here along with a few of my favorites.
Some days I struggled to find something worthy to share. Some of the pictures aren’t the best. The album may or may not have inspired others, but the comments that I got along the way fueled my fire and kept me posting. Kept me working. Kept me smiling. So thank you! And thank you to everyone who forced me to add 5 more pounds, go for a run, do one more rep, sign-up for a crazy race, keep jumping on that silly box or squeeze myself a little deeper into triangle - you know who you are and I wouldn’t have made it without you all as an inspiration, you are just as much a part of this as me.
I’d be joking if I said it won’t be a little weird not taking a picture tomorrow. It will be… I might have to take one anyways, just because. But the adventure doesn’t end here, it just begins in a different form. So I’m excited to see where I land on day 367 and then on day 731… 365 days from now. And I promise to post (a few) photos along the way.
Because I’m a sucker for a challenge and, as I’ve mentioned before, can get peer pressured into almost any adventure. My friends sign up for marathons and road races, and instead of joining them, I sign up for a special-ops death march called the GoRuck Challenge. Reading reviews of the ‘team event’, before pressing the submit button on my registration might have been smart. But, I mean team event? I’ve done those…Ragnar, Odyssey… they are all about teamwork, exhaustion and overnight survival… Couldn’t be worse than that right? Wrong! Think backpack and bricks and running through the night… add in Potomac river swimming, lunges, pushups, drill sergeants… this race may just push me way out of my comfort zone. The thought of how I’m going to feel on the evening of June 15th, gives me both jitters and goose bumps all at once… this will be an exercise in survival and will… perhaps that is why I was so eager to sign on the dotted line.
I found myself at Home Depot last weekend in the outdoor plant section, surrounded by couples buying bricks to build patios and decks. While most of them were deciding on what type of foliage to add to their suburban backyards, I was carefully selecting four boring red blocks that would be my best friend for the next few months.
As handed over a few dollar bills at the check-out counter (surprisingly bricks are pretty cheap), I could see the guy at the register pondering: why exactly is a little short blond girl buying just four bricks?
“I can carry those, you don’t have to put them in a bag.” I offered.
“No, ma’am, let me have someone take them to your car for you. They’re heavy!”
I was in a bit of a hurry and didn’t really want to go into full disclosure mode, but as he fumbled to try and double-bag my bricks, I realized there was no way not to.
“No, it’s okay, really. I’m planning to run a race where I have to carry them. So if I can’t make it to the car, I’m in big trouble.”
I’ve been borrowing bricks for a few weeks… so now that I had my very own, upon arrival home, I dusted off the day pack, and loaded in three of the four bricks wrapped in old race t-shirts. I figured that I’d start with just three… see how the pack and the knees hold up. What exactly do bricks weigh anyways? I can guarantee the pack is heavy across the shoulders and a tad awkward to run with… incentive enough to stay under 150lbs for the next few months. Side note for people who don’t know about GoRuck: Persons over 150lbs have to carry 6 bricks for the duration of the challenge.
As we pushed through five miles last Tuesday, I realized that I’d never have been able to do this two years ago. First, I’d never have even dreamed of signing up for a race where carrying bricks was part of the fun, but… second, I remember when running was a challenge in itself! Now, I’m lugging what could resemble the weight of a child, or a few bags of flour or the freshman fifteen while running and commuting. I can almost hear my mom calling me nuts with every foot fall.
Every morning on my way to work, I pass a guy who runs back and forth up my block wearing a weight vest. It makes me smirk. Little does he know, I’m carrying just as much as he is… my brick loaded backpack is my little secrete. I look around the metro and realize that people probably think I’m toting lunch Tupperware and water bottles… no one knows that on top of all that, I’m also slinging a whole bunch of extra weight up the escalator which is why I’m left gasping for air at the top. Promise, I work out. But, carrying these puppies back and forth 3 miles a day is enough to get anyone in shape. Add my regiment of CrossFit and running and boom: Fit finding at its finest.
If I can run miles with bricks, running my off-road half two weeks before GoRuck without the extra poundage should be cake. If I’m not in shape by then, I’ll never be.Time to add mileage, brick four and whole lot more yoga. Let the insanity begin
Day 37: These boots are made for walkin… Almost 3 miles to/from work each day!
Day 15: Metro: some days balance board, some days bane of my existence.
Day 8: Commuting counts, trust me. DC has a lot of broken escalators.