Monday, March 17, 2014

Be Kind to Yourself

Be kind to your body; it's the only one you'll ever have.This is the phrase that was repeating in my head during the third hacking coughing fit I had during my long run last weekend. It was a phrase I was choosing to ignore. I'm terrible at being kind to myself. It doesn't really mesh with the overriding need to achieve the many accomplishments that are out there. It I stop, I miss something. I have tried, in small ways, to be kind to myself. Baby steps.

Let me illustrate with a story. I registered for the St. Patrick's Day 8k in Washington, DC a few weeks ago. Michigan has a veritable race drought in the winter, and I was itching for a solid race. I arrived in DC on Friday with a slight, relatively sudden cold.  I don't get colds very often, and I don't consider them much of a reason to slow down. Who has time for that? You ride it out, take some meds, drink lots of fluids, and colds go away. 

On Saturday morning I went to Pacers Running Store in Logan Circle to pick up my packet.  It was the start of a fantastic day with my bestie. We had lunch at Logan Tavern next to the store.  Any place where I can get a bloody mary with bacon, bourbon and sriracha and pulled pork eggs benedict is cementing itself on a list of favorites. Delicious.

Check out this work of art.
We walked around the Logan Circle neighborhood browsing cool stores and chic boutiques. It was a neighborhood I'd never been to before, and it was very charming. The neighborhoods are one of the things I love best about DC - there are so many of them, and they all have unique features. I've been to the DC area dozens of times, and I've never run out of new neighborhoods to explore. One of my favorite spots we saw was an old post office repurposed as a Mexican place. What a great use of existing architecture.

I love this.
We followed 14th Street with shoe shopping at Nordstrom and ice cream in Del Ray (another great neighborhood.) As the afternoon wore on, my cold got worse. It seemed to be defying cold medicine and my sheer will that it simply leave my body.  By dinner that evening I was so stuffy I couldn't taste food, and my cough was out of control. I was lying on my friend's couch in my pajamas by 7:30 willing the pounding in my stuffy head to subside. I was asleep by 9, and I made the decision that there was no way I was running early on Sunday morning. I pushed the guilt of not doing the race aside. Look at me being kind to myself.

I was in DC for a conference, and the work events started on Sunday afternoon, After I was dropped off at the hotel I promptly took a two hour nap. I woke up feeling significantly better, but I felt less better following a reception and dinner. 

One of the things I love about this conference is its location in the Woodley Park neighborhood near the National Zoo. The neighborhood is really hilly, and I love having the zoo all to myself in the early morning. The weather was a lovely break from our brutally cold Michigan winter, and my legs felt great. My lungs, on the other hand, did not. I was repeatedly bent over on the sidewalk coughing like a maniac, and it was certainly not the world's best run. I walked back to the hotel. Again, being kind to myself.

Tuesday morning I had a 7:15 meeting, and it was very dark and very early. I decided to hit the hotel gym and do a little biking to be kinder to my lungs. It was a fun challenge and prelude to my triathlon training that I'll start in a few weeks. I also kept from coughing which was the best part.

My schedule was crazy the rest of the week, and I didn't run again until Saturday. While the cold overall seems to be much better, the brutal cough is lingering. This morning I had a bit of a coughing situation in the pool. I'm sure the other swimmers loved it, but I'm also quite sure there are enough chemicals in the pool to kill any and all germs.

I'm working to be kind to myself. Baby steps. Even the recognition that it's better for me to not run a race is a huge step toward being a sane human who knows my limitations. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves...my sanity isn't exactly within reach.

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