Caught in the Hustle

 

Hustle:

(1) To have the courage, confidence, self-belief and self-determination to go out there and work it out until you find the opportunities you want in life.

(2) Work hard, usually towards the common goal of creating income.

– Urban Dictionary


As a runner, it is easy to get caught up in the hustle. Run fast. Win Races. Get Money.  This is the process. Typically once you no longer depend on this cycle, you are considered to have “made it.”

It sounds simple: Run Fast. This season in my hustle as an 800m runner, I let the measurable numbers cloud the healthy dialogue in my head. Steeper standards, cost of living, pacing money, World rankings, IAAF point scoring, number of likes and followers, race sections, lanes, contracts, race time, heart rate zone, dates, body weight, splits, ferritin levels. Unintentionally, I started focusing on these “measurables.” The numbers. I tried to know them. Understand them. Organize them. Control them.

The problem was, I reached a point where I thought the numbers defined me as an athlete. I was unsatisfied being referred to by my times instead of my name, so I made a plan to achieve the numbers I thought would earn an outsiders respect; to ultimately be known for me, Adrea. I was healthy, my season was rolling, I was ready. I was able to get to the halfway mark in the previously defined “hustle” because this year I had opportunity. I was accepted into meets. I ran PB times. I was on the start list next to some very talented names, had good weather, sections, and fast tracks.

The problem was I let myself fixate on the numbers. Despite my steady improvements, I thought about the numbers more. I wanted to look better on paper and feel like I could be taken seriously and competitively. I did not see, that people already were taking me seriously despite the mispronunciations of my name. More opportunity races arrived but this time I lost. I didn’t run to my capabilities. The result times reflected this. The frustrating part was I knew I had all of the pieces ready to fall into place and I couldn’t figure out why they weren’t. All I could see were the numbers, and they were not changing how I thought they would. I wasn’t understanding them and I didn’t want to admit some were out of my control.

Unfortunately it took me a series of races, and a number of failed attempts to identify what was going wrong. I continued to run slower, I felt homesick, I started having hamstring restrictions, and went to bed even more disappointed and frustrated. To top it off I overheard negative gossip suggesting I was lazy, I was hated, and I needed to prove myself. Hearing this, I felt hurt, and wasn’t able to just brush it off. I unintentionally made another mistake to wonder if the gossip was true.

But with the help of my brother, I caught myself. I recognized I was in a downward spiral. I tried to flip it, because I knew this is not what I wanted, nor was it who I am. I finally asked myself, what do I want? What does it look like? Getting out in nature and literally changing what I was seeing helped bring some clarity. But it did take me some time to genuinely answer. When I did, I realized I had lost sight of my Why. Why do I run?

As I reconnected to my Why, I found I had unintentionally replaced my Why with doubt. Doubt that came at the cost of my self-confidence for longer than I would like to admit. As I  continued unravelling the narrative, I had the aha! moment. I saw clearly that I had lost focus of my true goals to the hustle.

The final lesson? I realized the hustle is the process, not the goal.

So how did I realign my mindset to my goals?

1) I went back to my fall journal, and made time to consider my real goals and intentions. “Be the best version of myself – both on and off the track. “ and “Be and pursue greatness!”

2) Connect with my people. I am lucky to have such an amazing group of family, friends, and supporters who are always a short phone call away. Thank-you! You know who you are!

3) Understand the hustle is a changeable process. Remove what isn’t working. Confront the gossip with truth, and spend less energy on the “numbers”.  Do what you already know works, and trust. In most situations, it is important to remember people are normally, inherently good- not malicious.

4) Know that actions speak louder than words. Daydream the big goal, but more importantly DO something to achieve the big goal.

Final thoughts:

If you find yourself caught in the hustle, it’s okay. You most likely put yourself there, which means you also have the ability to take yourself out. In my situation, knowing your Why is a big help in shifting back into your best self. Other times taking the time to go back to your roots and grounding yourself is always helpful.

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Much love,

Adrea

 

 

 

 

 

 

April Altitude

In April, my training group moves to Flagstaff, Arizona to do a 3-week training block at altitude. Specifically, we train at 6910 feet above sea level, in a dry desert of ponderosa pines. The idea is training our bodies while they are in a hypoxic state will stimulate a natural increase in the mass of red blood cells and hemoglobin. As an endurance athlete, this is a good thing and there is ample research available to support this claim. In my experience, the key is implementing a smooth acclimation period to avoid burn out or inability to recover. Additionally, every year the echoed advice for going to Flagstaff is: Respect the mountain. Respect the altitude.

As I write this today, the camp has since come to a close and I find myself reflecting on the overall experience. What went well? What could have been improved? Did I learn how to respect the mountain? If so, how?

Luckily, we have a thorough Sport Science team from CSI Pacific collecting data and monitoring protocols that make measuring most of these answers factually based.

–> Yes, I perceived the camp went well because:

I was consistently able to put in quality workouts and reach PB paces. My before and after Hemoglobin Mass testing results reported an increase. I performed my best race result post-camp. Based on the reduced quantity of naps in comparison to previous years, I concluded I had higher energy levels. Finally, I am most grateful my body is and was healthy throughout the camp. This final consideration is a luxury in itself!

–> Yes, I perceived I could have improved the camp by:

Paying closer attention to hydration levels. Increased emphasis on being proactive with recovery techniques. Incline/Hill workouts still have a lot of opportunity for growth. The simple act of applying sunscreen thoroughly. Being less afraid when the body has aches and pains before and during workouts.

Overall I am very happy and confident in concluding this was a good camp for me. Even further, Yes, I believe I learned to respect the mountain.

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Visiting the Grand Canyon – April 2018

 

–> The real question, is what and how did I learn from the mountain?

The events that lead to this answer came unexpectedly from my brief encounters with some running celebrities.

The celebrity encounter I’ll discuss here, occurred while I was waiting at Hypo2’s Athlete Services for an appointment that had been delayed at another clinic. I had almost two hours to wait and with permission, was planning to pass time in the side room with a nap on a heated massage table. Naturally, I replaced the fluorescent ceiling lights with a dimmer side lamp. Then I plugged my dying cell phone into the corner outlet to charge. I closed the door so it would be dark, then returned and crouched down to the floor-level electrical outlet to ensure the alarm on my charging phone would be loud enough to hear across the room. While I was in the dark with my phone in a LOTR character Sméagol stature, someone knocked on the door and in walked celebrity #1. The look of confusion on his face to see me in a corner on the floor when he was expecting to pick-up his paperwork in a normally lit room was priceless.

Unfortunately for me the light switch was across the room, and I was instantly starstruck seeing him in person. I soon learned this meant I would become tongue-tied and forget that I had legs that could have tried walking over towards him to turn the light on. Due to my incapacity to move, I was still kneeling, in the dark with my phone in hand. I tried combining a normal hello with why I was there,  but I did this in a way that did not make any sense. This was evident in the ominous silence that followed. The little voice in my head kept whispering,  Be cool, Adrea. Just be cool. Don’t be a fangirl- act like you don’t know who he is. Even though I obviously knew who he was.

We both just stared at each other and eventually I remembered how to speak. My cheeks were rouged with embarrassment and my first coherent sentence ended up being, “Sorry, who are you?” After that he laughed and without detailed introductions I was able to direct him to the correct room for the paperwork he was picking up. As soon as I knew he was gone I closed the door and covered my face with my hands (Face Palm) while I replayed the last five minutes, which were probably only 30 seconds. I couldn’t believe I just did that. Why was the veil of stardom completely immobilizing to me? Why was I instantly awkward? Why would I act like I didn’t know who he was? Why didn’t I turn on the lights?… More importantly, why did I care what he might think of me?

After laughing the story off with my roommates later that day, I found myself grateful I reached a point where my embarrassment became a reason for laughter.  What I really wanted to know was what did I learn? Asking this question eventually led to the conclusion, I fear being vulnerable; likely because it it uncomfortable and requires putting my true self in a position to be judged or possibly disliked. It took recognizing there were two sides to this, instead of only one; option a) I could be disliked, or b) I could be liked. Previously fear was in control and only saw the opportunity to be disliked. Fear aside, the possibility of being liked is something I am new to considering. I honestly don’t know which one would be worse (or better), but at least now I had options.

Either way, I felt enlightened recognizing there was equal probability to be liked as disliked. The aha! moment to shift perspective. In the above scenario I felt startled and know I let fear takeover in the form of being starstruck. As I’m sure others can relate, I went home and was able to create at least 100 other ways I could have handled the conversation in a “cool” way. Most of these scenarios escalade to a point where there is a hello, and a brief introduction of who I am. Maybe with this new found perspective,  I will be less afraid to be vulnerable, and give myself the chance to be liked by including an introduction.

In hindsight, this reminds me of first dates. First dates and introductions are hard because you have to be vulnerable. You have to share who you really are, without the barriers, filters, or makeup to a complete stranger. The consequence? They either accept or reject who you choose to show them you are. The moment of truth in waiting to know their opinion is beyond uncomfortable. Not a physical discomfort like workouts on the track, but an emotional discomfort; giving someone else the power to decide if they like you. The important conclusion I came to is regardless of the other person’s opinion, it is still only an opinion. As long as you can look in the mirror and be genuinely happy with who you are, awkwardness, and all is what really matters.

To end on a less embarrassing note, throughout this camp, I ended up running into a handful of other running celebrities. I am proud to say, I was able to speak to them without turning into a starstruck mess. I was able to grow from my previous encounter and realize, at the end of the day, they are just people. Yes, they are extremely talented in their specialty, but they share a humanistic life just like you and I.

In conclusion, in my efforts to respect the mountain and altitude, I was able to learn the above lesson; respect myself enough to be vulnerable. No matter how accomplished some athletes are, it’s the ones who say hello or smile in passing by that seem to have the most impact. I might still be on the verge of running world class times (for now,) but it is not too soon to begin displaying a world-class attitude both on and off the track.  I am grateful to have had this mental shift in perspective, even if it meant a few minutes of embarrassing myself.

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Flowering Cactus

“Like a wildflower, you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would” – E.V.

Much love,

Adrea

** P.S. As luck would have it, I ran into this celebrity again at a recent race. Relief poured over me when there was no recognition of who I was from Hypo2. Instead I managed to pull of a quick smile and head nod as we passed each other. I received the nod and smile back. Redemption! It feels good.

Thanks for reading!

 

Tulips

today

tulips.

soaked in warmth

let their leaves down

peeled their petals open

as they rouged in the sun.

finally naked

beautiful ,  free  ,

dancing with the wind

patiently waiting-

            for the bees.


before

two lips.

there was yours

there was mine.

they shared kisses

whispered truths

held onto secrets,

an-other flavour

you needed more.

that’s when mine sealed,

two lips turned to three.


 after

to (the) lips.

soft and gentle

guarding a smile

tricked by the

Cheshire cat

they curl, they heal

they felt the heart fall

they trembled when it broke.

they learned, they sang,

now they hum.

They know love.


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This post is possible because of the people who helped me navigate heartbreak. I’ve found myself again, and am writing because of so many wonderful people. Via kind words, phone calls, messages, gestures, time, lunches and patience; this compassion did not go unnoticed. There were many days I was afraid to feel how awful the loneliness might be on a day off. Instead, I found myself overwhelmed with the gracious amounts of unconditional love I received.

To everyone, thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Your warmth and tenderness in handling the scattered and broken pieces of my heart while it was strewn across the floor is why I am able to feel it beating stronger today.

When my trust was broken I explained it as: Imagine a porcelain plate. Now imagine dropping it from a 2-storey building. My heart is that plate. Does that make sense? In hindsight, the flaw in this logic is it fails to see a solution in which it comes back together. After some time has passed, and amidst the devastation, I managed to find a solution.

Along my healing process, I came across the Japanese term kintsugi (alt. kintsukuroi): “The Japanese art to ‘repair with gold’; the art of repairing pottery with gold or silver lacquer and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.” My heart will never be what it was before, because it has been reassembled with a gold lacquer mixture blended from the unconditional love of my people. The outpouring of kindness has allowed my heart to evolve into an example of the art of kintsugi. Thank-you for everyone’s contribution towards healing, and helping me feel beautiful again.

It feels so good to be back!

Much love xoxo,

Adrea

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