August 3, 2015

Rediscovering My Old Hobbies

While working on some of the talks I’m going to be giving at our senior associate training this fall, I’ve been going through the story of how I went from someone who couldn’t run a mile, to doing my first marathon, to a world record. However, my speech coach has been encouraging me to point out something I honestly hadn’t given much thought to before: that just because I picked up the new hobby of running didn’t mean that I changed who I was, or gave up my old hobbies.

In this case, I was a musical theater nerd when I started running – and when I first started running, that didn’t change. I spent the summer before my senior year of college learning to cook and learning to run… but then I went back to school that fall and plunged headfirst into rehearsals for Little Women, and also continued taking ballet classes. However, over the next few years, running definitely did crowd out some of my artsy-ness. While living in NYC after college, I didn’t go to the theater nearly as much – even though I loved it every time I went. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time in the day for everything, but that doesn’t mean I love the theater any less.

This Sunday, though, I felt like it was just the best day ever because I got to do so many things I loved. Adam and I woke up, had a leisurely breakfast, and then lazed around watching a bit of HGTV. We love House Hunters, Love It Or List It, and Flip or Flop (okay, that one might be a bit of a hate watch), but I haven’t had any time for TV lately, and I’ve missed getting to watch with Adam at our respective houses when we can’t be together. Getting to watch an episode on Sunday morning while cuddled up with him was perfect! And then after an episode (perfect amount to enjoy it but not feel like a sloth), we got dressed in our swimsuits and headed to the pool.

The last time I swam laps was probably ten years ago, when I was living in Sarasota, Florida for a summer internship. It was the same summer that I trained to run a mile, and at the time, I got bitten by the triathlon bug… at least in theory. I alternated workouts between run-walking (a mile), swimming (a half mile or so, with lots of breaks holding onto the side of the pool), and biking (30 minutes indoors on a stationary bike). Oh, and lots of Jazzercise “cross-training” with the retired women who lived in my neighborhood. Obviously, that regimen is how the real pro triathletes train, right? Ironman, here I come!

Finishing my first 5K, back when I thought completing a 5K meant you were a “serious athlete” and should show that with race attire of cotton shorts and a cotton sports bra.

So given that it had been so long, I was kind of nervous about getting back in the pool for laps. What if I was too slow? What if I couldn’t swim in a straight line? Although I had a ton of fun at the pool a few weeks ago, it took until Adam was back with me for me to go attempt laps. But as nervous as I was beforehand, the verdict was that I loved it! I’ll admit that I’m incredibly terrible with pacing, somehow going all-out and getting out of breath no matter how slowly I try to glide. However, I was able to successfully share the lane and also swim in a straight line, so I think that means I can graduate from mid-day on a weekend to going at 6am when the serious swimmers are there daily before work. I am psyched to have a new form of exercise that I really enjoy!

And as luck would have it, Ironman Boulder was happening this weekend – so when Adam and I finished lunch at the Rio on Sunday afternoon, we were then able to stroll just two blocks away and be at the finish line. Thanks to our late lunch, it was only about a 30 minute wait and then we were able to see the winner… and I have to admit, I teared up a lot when he came running down the final stretch. How amazing must that be to have been working your butt off for eight hours and 140 miles and finally see the finish line in front of you?? I continued to be all sappy and emotional even as nothing was happening while we waited for the other finishers… it was just so exciting to think how many athletes were going to be making their dreams come true that day!

I don’t know this guy but I am still so happy for him and his accomplishment. YOU ARE AMAZING!

We only stayed at the finish line for about thirty minutes, but on our way back to the car, we passed part of the run course. Ironman Boulder has a double out-and-back run course, so at the point where we were, the runners passing us were at mile 11, 13, 23, or 25, depending on which way they were going and which lap they were on. And I was enthralled to stand there for over an hour, clapping my hands like crazy (they got chapped from all my applauding), and trying to cheer for as many athletes by name as I could. It was pretty hot, with temps in the 80s, and I was so in awe of what those athletes were accomplishing. They had already achieved so much even before undertaking that marathon, and yet they still kept going. I was beyond impressed… and it made me want to sign up for an Ironman myself.

Adam and I have been discussing the possibility of an Ironman ever since we saw the course barricades going up in Boulder on Saturday. Now, don’t get me wrong; I am not ready to commit to that yet. As Adam pointed out, I’ve just barely made it past step 1 of swimming a few lap; step 2 is the very basic “buy a bike to ride.” And both of those definitely come many, many steps before “sign up for an Ironman,” not at the same time and definitely not after! But, I do know that I’m going to start trying to swim, bike, and run a little bit more to see how I really like doing those – and then maybe someday I’ll do a sprint or an Olympic-distance. This morning, we both signed up to volunteer at this year’s Ironman Arizona, which I know will be an amazing experience whether I ever decide to do a triathlon or not.

Realistically, the bike is what would keep me away from doing triathlons, since downhills make me terrified of crashing. See: Den Grand Fondo 2014.

But even with all that sporty tri stuff all day, Sunday night reminded me that I still haven’t lost my passion for the theater. Adam and I went on a double date to see Avenue Q at a local theater, and I think I was grinning the whole time. Avenue Q has been one of my favorite musicals ever since I saw it on Broadway during freshman orientation at NYU (yeah, Tisch had some pretty unbelievable orientation activities!). Over the years, I’ve gotten rush tickets to go back and see it a whole bunch of times when I had company in town and wanted to take them to a surefire Broadway hit, and I’ve loved it every single time.

Avenue Q is clever and hilarious, with lots of inside jokes about NYC and modern life. (Or not-so-modern life now that it’s fifteen years later… I think the Gary Coleman jokes might be a bit outdated.) But it also has some really beautiful melodies that get stuck in my head for hours – I woke up singing “There’s a Fine, Fine Line” and now I’ve been singing “Mix Tape” in my head half the evening. Last night definitely didn’t disappoint – the cast was much more talented than I would have expected for the caliber of theater, and some of them I thought did an even better job than the original Broadway cast! (I’m looking at you, Christmas Eve… though I’ll admit that the writing of that character leaves a lot to be desired.)

The upshot was that at 10pm, I left the theater reminiscing about how much fun I used to have acting and performing… and looking up auditions for more local shows. Luckily, the next one at that particular theater is a children’s show, so that’s a no-go… which gives me a bit of time to think about whether I really want to make that kind of commitment. Between that and the Ironman, I’m finding that it’s easy to get swept up in the fun of something and want to commit, but I’m trying really hard to be intentional about the commitments I make. (See: telling my friends I’d do a Fantasy Football pool before realizing it wasn’t a one-and-done pick like NCAA basketball. I’m still trying to get out of that one!) There are so many demands on my time that I don’t control; I’m trying hard to make sure that anything I can control, I think long and hard about doing.

But whether I decided to jump back into theater or start training for a triathlon, I love that all my old interests are just tucked away waiting for me to resume them. Time off may mean I get a little rusty, but it doesn’t have to mean that my passion is gone. Now, I just need to figure out how I can enjoy the activities I love in small doses even if I’m not willing to go all-in with a commitment.


8 thoughts on “Rediscovering My Old Hobbies”

  1. Your speech coach is smart! Seems like that person understands the spiritual idea of ‘becoming’…:)

    Is it not that music, dance, running, leaping, throwing, swimming, biking are all (human) art performances? (OK, biking might be debatable…)

    I think it is natural for an arts focused person to also find happiness in other arts. If we define art (in one way) as the expression of ourselves, then a 5K Race (with fancy short shorts, singlets, sports bras and bun-huggers) is like a sculptor putting a finished piece in an exhibit! Or maybe not…

    I don’t think you, me or anyone would necessarily have to flip through the yearbook for the IAAF (the home of world athletics), but when I have the opportunity to soak up the freeze frame photography of the world’s greatest athletes no one can tell me their world is not a performance art.

    1. I think arts and sport would just be classified as types of play. And the people that figure out how to do either one long into their lives are the lucky ones (even if they don’t get paid for it!!).

  2. My Calgary runner friend Leana (blogs at Runner Leana) did IM Boulder last year and dang! Anyone who does that is truly amazing.
    I waver on wanting to buy a bike and start training for a tri. I swam competitively so I have this belief I’ll remember how to swim (I hope?), I just need to get over my massive fear of riding my bike on highways, and I think I might do one? Gah.

  3. Going to Ave Q was fun, watching you watch Ave Q was AMAZING. You had a certain sparkle in your eye that I hadn’t seen in quite some time. Believe me, I haven’t forgotten what that looked like… I plan on replicating it again very soon. 😉

    My challenge to myself still stands… If I can run 3-4 miles by IMAZ, I’m going to sign up. Honestly? that seems like SUCH a longshot that I’m not even worried about it.

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