Nearly-Summer Exploration: Greensboro, Durham

On Friday, I’m heading to Atlanta for work (haven’t been there since a college track meet where I spent most of the trip trying not to get sunburned at Emory’s track), and I’ve been thinking about all the adventures on tap this summer. I’d like to write a bit about the rambling, exploring part of life (and running) that I love best. Nick and I also have a road trip planned for later this summer and are hoping to post photos and maybe some observations from the road.

While I don’t want to write about the kids I coach out of respect for their privacy, I did have a wonderful adventure two weekends ago at New Balance Outdoor Nationals. I headed down with my DMR and superstar 2-miler. I was a little bit worried about being tired from the flight/coaching/meet adrenaline, but as has happened so many times in my coaching life, the meet itself provided more than enough energy. Aside from successes on the track, some of my favorite moments from the weekend were connecting in a more adult-to-adult way with a graduating senior, talking about motherhood with one of my athlete’s moms, and getting to spend a half day with my Oiselle teammates in Durham.

Allison, Ali, me pre-run (thanks for your selfie-skills, Allison!)
Allison, Ali, me pre-run

I’m (obviously) not going to blogger conferences or meeting people through my blog, but I have met a lot of really thoughtful, dedicated, and kind women through Oiselle. Ali, Allison, and Ellen were no exception. Before we met up, I was a little worried I’d be slowing them down and that spending the morning with people I’d only ever communicated with in 180-character bursts might become strained before it was time to go to the airport. Since they’re fast, I’m particularly slow right now. I’m sure I did slow them down, but the 8-mile run we did flew by. I had my first biscuit (an egg sandwich on a biscuit is pretty much the most perfect thing a pregnant lady who just ran 8 miles could imagine), and we sat talking about coaching, competing, motherhood, moving, ice cream, goals, and even, strangely, mutual acquaintances for hours.

Durham is beautiful. Lush green, densely forested running trails, biscuits available at nearly every restaurant. I’d have loved to have more time to see Chapel Hill and Raleigh. Sometimes when I travel I get this antsy, nervous feeling that there is so much more of the place I’ve been still undiscovered. Having a rental car on this trip let me explore what Greensboro is all about a bit more than the track and the meet hotel/convention center revealed (on a side note: I came up with a brilliant plan to find a safe, if yuppie-filled, neighborhood while traveling: google the nearest Whole Foods), eat Krispy Kreme donuts for pre-run fuel (can’t be running on an empty stomach these days), and get nostalgic for family vacations of my youth. (Why, I’m not exactly sure since we never went to Greensboro and I don’t even remember ever going to the South, but something about the clean strip-mall suburbia of a lot of newer cities reminds me of the suburbs of Kansas City where I first lived, or of the towns we stopped in on the way to or from college visits all those years ago.)

In Atlanta, though I’ll be there with my boss and will be attending panels each day, I do anticipate having some time to myself to explore. I don’t mind eating alone (much prefer it to networking dinners), and hope to leave feeling like I’ve seen more than Olympic Park and the CNN Headquarters. Any suggestions on routes to run, things to see, places to eat? I likely will not have access to a car, and will be staying right downtown, but I’m resourceful and unafraid of either cab fare or public transportation if for the cause of thorough exploration.

Type A Pregnant Lady Support Group

One of the hardest–no, the hardest–thing about being pregnant has been feeling isolated from parts of my identity I didn’t even realize were parts of my identity. I figured not running as much and not jumping in twilight 5ks (followed by a nice cold beer–a perfect summer evening!) would be a little sad. I did not anticipate how tired simply existing would make me feel. Or how sad feeling tired would make me feel.

I’ve been working on a longer, more polished thing (essay?) about this, but what I realized last night is that the qualities in which I take the most pride all have to do with my ability to work hard, often quickly, and on little sleep. It is this willingness (ability?) that is responsible for most of the modest success I’ve had in life (as a good student, a productive teacher, a dedicated post-collegiate runner) and that has most often earned me praise and admiration (two things I must admit to loving somewhat rabidly).

I wouldn’t say (I hope) that I go around bragging about being an overly caffeinated ball of productivity, but deep down, I do take pride in my indifference to physical discomfort in pursuit of goals. I remember discovering that while it might be physically painful to wakeup for a 3am morning run before vacation, the pain was brief (really only those first moments of opening your eyes if you didn’t let yourself hit the snooze button), and the sense of accomplishment lasted all day. The sense of shame and guilt I’ve trained myself to associate with “laziness” is much worse and can’t be cured with caffeine. Sort of like a sleeping version of that stupid eating disordered aphorism “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels:” nothing is as relaxing as feeling productive and accomplished.

I have been thinking that there must be a lot of other type-A women out there, for whom the concept of relaxing isn’t very enjoyable, or at least whose ability to relax is deeply tied to a need to have accomplished quite a bit first. These days, though, I really am too tired to be my usual productive, zippy self, and instead of doing what I would have done in graduate school and washing down my second coffee of the day with chocolate covered espresso beans, I hydrate and do my pregnancy yoga breathing activities. And wonder if this will give me the energy to put the laundry in the dryer.

Some of the things about my normal life that I’ve missed during pregnancy are insanely petty: my favorite outfits, a nice glass of rose, the convenience of being able to run on an empty stomach. But to feel tired and low-energy has been not only hard but also alienating for me. I miss myself. I’ve still been running, and I can read about pregnant runners, but few of my other (many) type-A crazy friends who figure pain is temporary and productivity is forever are or plan to be mothers, and even fewer are nearby.

A lot of the symptoms of depression and of pregnancy overlap: inability to focus, difficulty sleeping, extreme fatigue. At my last appointment, I found out that I’m a bit anemic, which, along with the stress of the school year wrapping up, certainly has contributed to the knocked-on-my-back exhaustion I’ve been feeling. Knowing that there is a reason for these feelings certainly helps the logical part of me, but struggling to get through the day without a nap certainly doesn’t feel any less foreign just because I can understand why it’s happening. It is frustrating, strange, alien, confusing, not to be able to count on the certainty that I will plow through. It feels disorienting and scary not to know if I’ll have energy to do something that matters to me, and to know that I’m responsible for making good decisions about how much is too much and when growing scone needs me to relax whether I want to or not.