Monday, December 28, 2009

happy new me!

Or well, that's what I like to think. There is something trite and repetitive about new year's resolutions: lose weight, exercise more, more quality time, yadda yadda yadda. So .. well, doomed to failure. No?

However. However. I am not a natural cynic. I know that, as we get older, we should be getting more cynical and I have, truly, gained some cynicism, mostly I am still pretty gullible and skip into life like a lamb with amnesia. As a result it takes me forever to learn life lessons. Forever. Truly! I was overweight for about 12 years before I figured out I had to exercise AND eat less. Every time I would go on some whacko diet, lose a few pounds, and then give up. How long, for example, can a person live without carbohydrates? To prove my point - when moving house this past summer I realised I actually have three - yes 3! - exactly identical copies of the Atkins Diet Revolution. Good lord! It clearly didn't work when I tried out the first copy, then like a goldfish I must have walked into a bookshop filled with self-loathing and excess weight, thought "hey! That Atkins diet looks like a great idea!", bought a second copy, failed again, and then walked in a third time and thought "hey! That Atkins diet looks like a great idea!".

So. That actually proves two things. One that I'm not cynical, and two that personal growth for me is slooooooooooow.

However. I did, finally, at some point when I was very very low, very very heavy and very very filled with self-loathing, decide "no more excuses". With insight that had eluded me for years I realised that I had made myself fat and unhappy and that I had to stop making myself fat and unhappy. Once again I went on a diet. WeightWatchers online this time. And I started to exercise. Most importantly, I chose to ignore the voice of failure in my head that told me I was incapable of losing weight and exercising with any success and I made myself go round a .9 mile circuit on our farm. Walking or running, struggling to get round. But, as so many of you realise, after a while you do get round without stopping. And after a while, the combination of a healthy diet and exercise do create weight loss. And more than all of this - after a while it finally penetrated through my very thick and learning-resistant skull that I can lose weight and exercise.

And so, before like a good protestant I contemplate all the areas in which I can self-improve, I am patting myself on the back. For, at some point, turning the supertanker of destiny around and getting onto this road. Initially I did it to lose weight and get fit. But it has brought me so much more than that. Self-confidence and inner strength (no small things, really). Not to mention some amazing friendships. But the biggest thing it has taught me is that I can change who I think I am. Someone as fat and incompetent as I believed myself to be 6 and a half years ago has now qualified for Boston. It is, of course, not at all about Boston qualifying itself, but about the fact that I would not have ever believed that I was ever going to be capable of something so seriously athletic as that. 6 and a half years ago I would have ruled myself out of that for life because that sort of goal was not for people like me. I have, bit by bit, learned that I maybe am not just the person I thought I was at 31. I am capable of much more than I thought then. And when I find myself assailed by the challenges of life I think of this. Change is possible, however hard it may seem. And however slowly it comes.

So now I try to take the attitude that I have to keep on trying. Maybe not bang my head into the same wall three times (see above) but still.

So my goals for 2010?
- I have athletic goals. Continuing to strive to achieve is good for me. I am scared of being accountable to others and myself and to put myself out there, athletically. I still have a struggle thinking of myself as someone who should even be out there at a sporting event. So for me racing is being very accountable. I can't lie. So I am going to carry on racing.
- I have strategic goals. I want to run Boston well. I may have BQed in Berlin but I ran it badly. I ran too fast, messed up my nutrition and lost my strategy. For Boston, my goal is not a time-based one but to see whether I can begin to work out a race strategy that will work. Ideas welcome.
- I have personal goals. These are the tricky ones. I could be specific but really - the overall goal I have is to try to spot the ruts in my life when I can and to shake myself out of them. When I am stuck, I have to do whatever I can (the opposite of me, anyone?) to move out of the rut. Not until I am out will I be able to see what I need to do to move on.

Finally - a quick update on running life. I have managed to maintain most of my running schedule over Christmas, despite wine drinking and snow.

Thank you Yaktrax!

My snow angels ;)

I hope that 2010 brings you all you hope for and that you too will be able to make changes where you want to.


15 comments:

jen said...

Beautiful post, Petra. I am so amazed and inspired by your journey. I'm proud of who you've become. The biggest change I can see is the improved confidence, and that is everything.

Re: smart racing strategy, let me know when you figure that out. I've ran a "smart" marathon exactly once out of 7 races when I lucked out with a great pace group. I've never replicated that. You can do it though!!

Love the photos, you are stunning! I love the contrast of your blue eyes against the snow.

Happy New You!!! :)

Katie A. said...

Awesome post. As someone who had also struggled with weight for years, I can totally relate. But I love the new me and I love that we are always capable of change.
Great job on the run, and I love the YakTrax!

Meg Runs said...

As always, I loved your post. Your thoughts on loving yourself as an athlete are beautiful really, as women we spend so much time focused on weight and beauty yet athletes are focused on strength and endurance and these are the things that get us through life happily and healthfully. These are definitely the traits in others that inspire me and cause me to push on too. You must feel great getting to that place!
Petra, rock on, you're getting ready for Boston and in the process, getting stronger and fitter. So cool! Let's meet when we're there if we can!!
Please blog more!!!

Paige said...

Rock on Petra P, lot of love and thanks for the JFDI!!

Marathon Maritza said...

Someone commented on another of your posts about your honesty, and I have to say that is my favorite part about your blog. I think you have some great goals for next year, and no doubt can achieve all of them if you set your mind to it. You are awesome!

The photos are fabulous, especially the one of the kids! Hope you had a great Christmas, hope Felix had a fabulous birthday and have a great New Year's! XOXO

Irish Blue said...

Petra,
Great post...I laughed out loud when I read "skip into life like a lamb with amnesia"...ok, I'm laughing again. It's definitely your honesty that makes me love you so much!!

You've accomplished something most people never do - you've conquered self.

“The first and best victory is to conquer self; to be conquered by self is of all things most shameful and vile.”

~Plato

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Road Warrior said...

Happy new year, Petra! What you have accomplished this year is truly inspiring.

Like you, I see my previous self and can barely recognize it. You have become a newer, more streamlined Petra, and you're never going back to the old one.

Besides, I'm banking on seeing the new Petra when I meet her for drinks after she runs the freakin' Boston Marathon!

marty said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog, Petra and as you say running teaches us that we can surmount any challenges in our lives (and qualify for Boston along the journey). Wishing you and your family all the best for health, wealth and happiness in 2010.

Drusy said...

I'm always blown away by your insight Petra. How you manage to balance everything and achieve so much!
Sometimes I feel like I've got all drive and no direction so your turning the supertanker really hit home. Thanks and have a great new year! I hope to see you at the Swift Half again!

chris mcpeake said...

great post. Good luck in the new year

jacobsoliva said...

All the best my dear friend.May you achieve all that to desire and deserve.Wish you a very Happy and a Prosperous New Year.
cheap holidays to greece

aron said...

great post as always and awesome goals too! 2010 will be another amazing year!

the smart race thing, its hard, but i know exactly what you mean. somehow i got lucky and it clicked with the bq race, so i got the package deal. i felt like that was the best race i have run, and stuck to fueling, etc - it all went according to plan. i think it just takes time, practice, sucesses and failures, because there isnt one right answer and it will always be changing depending on the race, the person etc. you will get it though!! cant wait to follow your boston journey :)

runningcommentaries said...

I love that you're striving to get yourself out of ruts. So much that I may actually steal it :) Good luck and keep us posted!

ShirleyPerly said...

Wow, look at all that snow!!

But, more importantly, look at how far you've come. It's like night and day reading your post compared to some of the ones a year or so ago. Your words, whether you believe it or not, seem to have much more wisdom and confidence to them. It's also very apparent that you love yourself more, which is good.

As for Boston strategies, having run it twice, the biggest mistake to me would be going out too fast early on. It starts out with some good downhills which will hammer your quads and leave little left to climb all the hills in the second half, most notably Heartbreak Hill which lies mile ~20, and finish the last few flat miles feeling good. My recommendation would be to shoot for an evenly paced race, which means actually starting out fairly easy early on and then increasing your effort level on the hills to keep up that pace all the way to the finish.

Best of luck!