New Years Resolutions

I'm not positive, but I'm pretty sure that Mitchell from Modern Family just walked into the coffee shop I'm sitting in.  I've been trying to figure it out, looking at him through the corner of my eye, but he keeps catching me looking at him.  And two hipsters beside me seem to be co-writing a paper or book or something about Jesus.  Weird morning, but lots of good creepish eavesdropping to be done.

In unrelated business, it's the time of year for self-reflection, and I got called off of work because of low census on the unit, and I have finished all of the chores that I can at the moment, and I haven't written much here in the last several months, so I'm going to write an end of the year post.

I just read a book called The Longevity Project by Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin, which is a popular-audience report on some of the results of something called "The Termin Studies", which was an 80ish year study on health, development, behavior and other health and social science-y kinds of things.  It turns out that exercise and happiness and meaningful community connections are great, but the thing that really helps you live a long time is being conscientious and maybe a little bit neurotic.  And smoking and eating bacon all day are probably bad, but the character quality that is most closely associated with an early death is being a Chicken Little, "the sky is falling!" type.  Folks who can make it through challenges confidently and reasonably tend to do better.  Nature favors those who plan meticulously, minimize risk, and don't freak out every time something little goes wrong.  Those are my New Years resolutions.

The thing that's tied this year together more than anything has been my and Angel's newfound obsession with distance running.  We were running last year, but pushing ourselves up to marathon distance (and soon past it) has added a new dimension.  Speaking for myself, with the distances under 20 miles, I would always be really tired and sore at the end of runs, but pushing up into higher mileage has meant sometimes also getting to the point where my body literally wouldn't let me run anymore.  My legs have occasionally seized up, and I've had to stop and figure out a way to recover and start moving again.  The physiology behind it, as I understand it, is that your muscles store an amount of glucose (their primary fuel) and other electrolytes that is generally enough to get you through 18 - 22 miles worth of activity at a moderate pace, and once you move past that, if you aren't refueling properly, you'll hit the proverbial "wall" and have to stop.  That happened to me at our first marathon in Rome around mile 17 - 18, and has happened a couple of times in training runs.  The key to overcoming it has been to eat the right foods before the run, to eat and drink more than I feel like I need to starting early during the run, and to make sure that I have enough salt and potassium along with enough sugar/glucose.  And to do training runs that are as long as, or longer than, the race so my body is trained to burn its fuel at an appropriate pace, and so I can predict how I'm going to feel at various stages so I'll know when to push through and when to slow down to recover.  When I have crashed, I'm proud of the fact that I've been able to push through and figure out ways to make it - in Rome, I punched myself in the legs and cursed at myself until I calmed down and realized that I was really dehydrated and hadn't eaten enough, so I had a meal and a couple bottles of water at an aid station at about mile 20 and was able to finish out the race running.  That is, the key to distance running has been to plan meticulously, minimize risk, and not freak out every time something little goes wrong. 

I think that's been the key with my second go-around in school this year too.  Historically, for some reason nothing stresses me out more than school.  Before I started I made a deal with Angel that I wasn't going to freak out this time around.  That I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggonit people like me.  So I convinced myself early on that it's stupid to worry about grades when you don't have anything riding on it, and when you can learn what you need to know without a 4.0 gpa.  The sky doesn't fall when you get a C in nursing school, and hospitals don't ask about your grades in pathophysiology.  And I decided I was going to have a really organized life, I was going to figure out what was important in school, and in life, and I was going to focus on those things and let the other stuff take a back seat.  And I wasn't going to let this crap get me freaked out.  So this quarter I spent a ton of time on the hardest class, which I'd been told was generally the only reason that people flunk out of my program, and a lot of time on essential pass/fail kinds of assignments, and not much at all on assignments that weren't weighted heavily - especially if they weren't in my area of interest.   And Angel and I figured out that running was something that we could do together, and that would help both of us stay sane in our various levels of stressed-ness.  So I spent a lot of energy on Sundays doing long runs – 2 – 4 hours, plus food and beer and a nap afterwards, and I’ve kept up my goal of maintaining marathon shape during the hardest quarter of school, and I've started trail running regularly, which I've wanted to do for a long time.  We’re doing 2 trail/road marathons over break – one’s finished, and we’re doing another tomorrow – and we’re signed up for our New Years Resolution really hard 8000ft gain 50k.  If things go well, and neither of us gets hurt, we might be in 50 mile shape by the end of school.  That’d be awesome.

The plan, in recreation, as in life, is to be a bit neurotic, minimize risk, plan meticulously, and not freak out when things go wrong.  


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