Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Proverbial Question

When people meet me and get to know me better, they learn of the different mes. I wear alot of hats; I run in a couple of circles.

I'm in grad school right now. It's amazing how people (instructors, other grad students, administrators) see grad students as being very, and in turn, how singular grad students present themselves as singular- notice I didn't say they they are; rather, there's a fiction many grad students create, possibly to make themselves appear professional, possibly out of fear. I once tried to keep up this fiction, but it's difficult; in fact, it's damned impossible and frankly not important. The mes start surfacing. Someone in class learns I'm a mother. Then, funny, a week later three other mothers come up to me and say, I have a son too! Odd. Why would I be hiding that I'm a mother?

(My favorite people in the world! Why would I hide these guys!!)

In another week, someone learns I have a full-time (and a part time) teaching gig (most of the grad students are funded with TA ships that give them a stipend for teaching 1-2 classes a semester). Then's they start with the "wow," how do you do it?

But, as many of you know, we haven't even gotten to the crazy part. I'm an ultra runner. I train approximately 12 hours a week and run races upwards to 100 miles. First when people learn of it, I get the script of questions that people run through when wrapping their head around the idea of ultra running. Then, people start to put it all together think I'm crazy because on top of full and part time work, full time Phd student, and raising a child (with my BF who happens to work 70+ hours a week, meaning I'm the parent on call most of the time) "in my spare time" I run lots and lots of miles over terrible terrain and often in shitty conditions (re: summer heat in Phoenix). 

Then there's the proverbial question "how do you do it all?" It's the hardest question to give a full and complete answer to. I don't have a professional nanny nor is my son's father (my boyfriend) around a ton. I have friends that can help and do (and they are AMAZING), but I try to be careful when I ask them because I hate to feel like I've overburdened friends. Family members are around, but increasingly "unavailable" on the weekends (my parents have wage-labor jobs and work on the weekends) when most people put in their long runs. Seriously too, asking someone to watch my kid while I run sounds selfish, and there's that whole mommy guilt thing that goes into even getting up the nerve to ask someone.

As far as my work, I have a great schedule. I make nothing in my job, and in turn, I get a good schedule and am blessed with the ability to take/pick-up my son from school most days. My work, however, happens beyond the classroom. I'm a college instructor, so I may only be "on campus" for 20 hours a week teaching, but as we all know, teaching doesn't stop in the classroom. Then there's that who full-time grad student thing. 

Okay, I'm already tired of reading this, and frankly it sounds like I'm whining. That's not my intention here. This is the best response I have, though when people ask me that question because my other response, when truly thinking from a logical-logistical side, is "I don't know."

(grey hairs just thinking about this)
This week I zeroed out three days, and I'm in full on training mode. After beating myself up with WTFs? and OMGs? and doubting myself, I had to sit back and say shit happens. Shit happens in life, shit happens in school, shit happens in work, and hey, guess what if you don't think shit happens in 100 miles, then you are lying!!

Some of the best, most resilient ultrarunners are people who are able to roll with the punches. I've yet to have a perfect race or a perfect training week, nor do I think I ever will. Obstacles come up in all races, and it shouldn't be a reason to stop or quit or even stop trying.

I guess this is where sifting through my busy life helps. Living in the moment and deciding what to to about the task at hand is a good skill to cultivate. I'm faced with decisions and obstacles everyday, and this, for me, is all a part of the ultra training. 

So instead of getting all stressed out and reciting all my life commitments when someone ask me "how do you do it all?" maybe I should just say because "I have to, and because I want to."

(and come on, regardless of what's going on, the end of a run is deeply satisfying)

 (And at the end of every rainbow (running adventure), there's always coffee!! screw pots of golf)

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