What its like to transition into unemployment

I’ve now been unemployed since the end of October now, and I can tell you it has its ups and downs. I had become part of something much larger than the work I was going in my community. As i’ve said before, Alaska is large in size and small in community. We became so very connected to people around the state doing the same work as me in their own communities and those connections made my work not only more valuable, but easier. We contributed to one another and each other’s work even from hundreds and thousands of miles away from each other in our very own state.

Then, I lost my job. At first, there are the “we would love your help in transitioning out… we want you to continue to be involved…” etc, etc. But the reality is, you slowly become pushed away and disconnected. The hardest part?

A piece of me has been taken away. The program I brought to Fairbanks feels as if its been taken away. Every day I regret not taking the steps to bring the program here on my own, but instead I feel like the piece of me that is lost is this one program itself. Being involved and volunteering is something I plan to continue to do with the program, but being ultimately removed from a role that I created is heartbreaking and has been the most difficult part for me.

People are easily replaced in non-profit. Even though my role was removed from the agency, some of that work has to be picked up by someone. I went from being part of the large prevention network in our state to feeling as if I might not belong there anymore because I am not longer in that “role.”

Your co-workers are not your best friends. When we work 40 hours a week, we become connected to many people who we begin to care about and consider our friends. But the reality is, most of your co-workers will not remain your friends or even check on you when you’ve gotten the big news that you’re no longer needed there. This is a reality we often don’t realize until this time. Now, mind you, that doesn’t mean that you won’t make lifelong friends at work, but everyone isn’t going to be that for you.

Now, what are the great parts?

Fitness. I can go cross-country skiing and swimming and running and crossfitting in the middle of the day! That is something I will miss a little (lot) since I am now officially training for a triathlon.

Sleeeeeeeep. I can sleep. I mean, really, nothing more to say about that.

House projects. Remember all of those little projects (I’m sure you have a list) that you want to get done but never have the time? Now you do. If you don’t have a list, you soon will.

Dinner planning is possible. Enough said!

Purging. Sounds weird, but so true. It gives you the time to go through and do your “spring cleaning” and downsize your life a little. Speaking of cleaning, I finally cleaned my bathtub.

So now that I’ve got all of this down, it’s time to figure out how to transition back into the world of the employed. But I can say I’m not nearly about distraught about that.

 

 

Surviving my first Triathlon

Lets start from the beginning, shall we? I have this friend, sometimes we are more like twins, and she is also my training partner. She convinces me to do these crazy things – like sign up for Triathlons. Well, now I can’t thank her enough. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have made it through training. But when I start something, I finish it. When the buzzer went off and I pushed off the wall to start my 500 yard swim, the same thing went through my mind during lap 2 – when I panicked.

Yes, my worst nightmare (next to drowning, of course) happened. The adrenaline of race day, the swishing of all of the people in the water (mind you this swim took place in a pool), and the fact that there were 4 people to a lane circle swimming hit me all at once. I can’t even tell you what exactly happened, but I no longer was able to breathe under water as I took each stroke. I tried and tried, even stopped 3 times during the swim, but once the anxiety hit me, that seemed to be it. I talked myself down, I tried to calm my breathing, but nothing worked. SO, I tried my backup – the breast-stroke. I still couldn’t get my breathing rhythm under control. So I just swam with the crawl stroke – without my face in the water, and it was exhausting. But I finished my laps, ran to my bike, and shook it off.

I cut 20+ minutes off my bike time from training and ran hard to SOMEHOW crush my goal time of 2:00 hours. I finished my first Sprint TRI in 1:56:42. I conquered those killer hills, had my transitions set up great for successful and smooth transition times and ran to the finish line to find my huge support system cheering me on and as tired as I was, I couldn’t help but sprint it to the finish. It was amazing and despite the swim, I am hooked on Triathlons. I know with different training, I’ll rid myself of that swim anxiety on race day and go on to set and crush more goals.

So, if you’ve ever thought about doing a TRI, DO IT. You can do it. I promise you. I trained hard for all parts of it and do you know what got me through that killer swim? My training and endurance. Surprisingly, my 8-week training (btw – I totally suggest Triathlons for Women by Sally Edwards) was a lot of fun. I didn’t have to find other things to do, because (duh) there is built-in cross-training! What’s better than that?

Set goal. Work hard. Crush goal. Repeat. #fearless2014  

 

Trading in racing shoes for running shoes

When I moved to Alaska, I knew one of the hardest things to give up was going to be drag racing. No, I haven’t had to “give it up,” but I was going from living in drag racing country, a place where were you could jokingly be told directions in sentences such as “it’s 3 drag strips, a left turn and 2 oak trees away…” to being 6 hours from the closest sanctioned drag strip. I lived in 1/8th mile central, could drag race most of the year and I loved it.

racing2 I love racing so much I had a christmas tree added to my tattoo collection when I was 21. Lets just say selling my race car and searching for a new adrenaline rush is much like searching for your soul.

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Drag Racing has never been and will never be far from my heart and soul. The last time I was home in Virginia, I raced a friends street car in the street class – just for that bracket racing rush. I can’t help but love dialing in a car and being chased down just to whomp whomp someone at the finish line – its what I’m good at.

But alas, in 2012, I began searching. I decided I may want a career field change and to make that change, I had to meet fitness standards. One of those standards was running 1.5 miles in under 15:12. At the time, I could barely run a mile in under that time without wanting to puke. But in time, it came. Then I started running 5Ks and 10ks and training for a half marathon. Then, I ran a marathon relay on a 3-person team. I fell in freaking love with running.

Now lets talk about runner’s high. Have you never experienced it? Well, I’m not sure if everyone does. But I didn’t until after I started running longer distances. I’m not talking about marathons, but you have to get out there and not quit after a mile. The first time I felt it, I was brought back to the first time I saw a win light bright as a sun on my side of the track. Yep, I was in love. I was in love with running. I had hung up my racing shoes and laced up running shoes to fill a void that I didn’t think I – very much an adrenaline junkie just like my Dad – could ever fill.

I started training for different distances, different types of races like this Triathlon I’m racing in this weekend. I found my sweet spot aka my favorite distance to run. Its the distance that any day, any time, I can lace up, step out the front door, and go run (mine is 5-6 miles, by the way). It’s the distance I love to go out and think, vent to myself, enjoy the sunshine, maybe I get to say to myself “you’re tough because you’re running in this cold a** weather,” or get out all my aggression for the day.

But it gets better. The runner’s high gets better. RACEDAY. You train hard and you think “this is what’s going to happen and this is my goal.” Then adrenaline kicks in and it feels so freaking good. It brings me back to moments in a racecar on the starting line. That rush coming through me, waiting for GO. Its an incredible feeling. It’s what keeps me going, It’s what got me green lights then and gets me my PRs now. It’s what makes me love racing. It always has been and probably always will be.

I’ll never forget the feeling I had when I got my first win light and I’ll never forget the feeling I had the first time I crossed the finish line during my first race – the Beat Beethoven 5k. I might not get back to those racing shoes anytime soon, but these running shoes sure are treating me good.

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Self-Care During Training

self-careI am less than 2 weeks from my first TRI and yesterday, I did my first swim/bike transition workout – finally I got my bike off the trainer and on the road! Today, I’ll be doing a dry run of my TRI and after yesterday’s workout I feel completely confident for the first time in my training that I CAN do this. Last week, I had hit a wall in my training. I wasn’t paying attention to how I was eating and I was overwhelmed with everything else going on. By the way, training gluten free is not an easy task to overcome, but you can do it! Life gets away from us. Don’t let it. I just spent an amazing weekend in the city (Anchorage) regrouping and regaining energy. Even though I was still training there, I was relaxed and taking time for myself. Shopping, eating out on my own and without the stress of someone else’s schedule and then I spent a couple days with a friend hiking in the mountains. Without a weekend away, I would still be hitting my head on the wall.

So to everyone out there (my readers and friends) that are in training, providing direct-services to clients/consumers, those traveling and always on the go, I am telling you to TAKE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.

Feeding my TRIathlon training

It’s hard to believe that I just finished week 3 of my Triathlon training, which means 5 weeks from tomorrow I’ll be competing in my first TRI. The encouragement of my good friend (great, actually) April is probably the whole reason I signed up. Swimming is not my strong point and I hear her yelling in my ear to just do, jump in, swim your laps and “I promise, it’ll be easier and you’ll feel more confident.” This week, I hit that point in my swimming. She also gave me this awesome book:

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Adding in training for the first time this year also means finding a balance in fitting everything in. Today, I sat debating on doing a 15k or so XC ski with some friends or using a rest day wisely so I could go on a leisurely ski tomorrow with my friend April. I have always been an advocate of rest days, but now, they are becoming much more restful and around the house. My body sure knows how to tell me how to spend my days. So I started off the day right with some oat pancakes (see recipe: https://akgirlruns.wordpress.com/2014/03/19/gluten-free-oat-waffles-one-awesome-accident/).

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Why not enjoy a homemade paleo latte?

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Paleo blender latte

2-3 cups organic coffee, brewed (I like dark roast)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
dash of vanilla extract & cinnamon (optional)

Blend all ingredients in high speed blender for about 30 seconds. Pour in your favorite mug and add dash of cinnamon. Mmm! Coffee Tip: If you use a Keurig (like I do), I use a reusable filter and brew my own coffee as a small cup, and run it through twice (so, run two small cups). It makes the coffee stronger.