07 September 2014

ANUSTART, Geek Love, and Monotonically Decreasing Functions

Apologies if you are not a die hard Arrested Development fan. In Season 4, Tobias gets a vanity plate to commemorate his "new start," but in typical Tobias fashion, the end result is a little, well, unexpected.

At any rate, I'm making all kinds of new starts.

My last day at my old job was this past Tuesday. I'm starting my new job tomorrow and I couldn't be more excited. No really, I couldn't be. I'm pretty unexcitable. But I am actually borderline effusive about this opportunity. I'm going back to ux design for geeks, which is my passion, professionally speaking. For the past year I experimented with doing ux design for a retail website. It was not for me. Making it easier for people to buy shit? Not my thing. Enabling nerds to blow shit up -- or cure cancer? Better.

But forget the boring work talk. Let's have some boring running talk!

I was in a bit of a running rut before Bird Camp. My goal of earning monotonically decreasing 5k times in 2014 was out the window as of May, when I ran a hillier race and failed to better my April time. Maybe the hills weren't to blame; I was also just tired. My half marathon in July was a bit of a nightmare because I struggled to control my legs after mile 7 or so. I wondered if my MS was taking me downhill. I was scared.

To combat MS-related fear, I like to pour tons of energy into self care. It takes my mind off being scared, and it's probably good for me. So I started eating better. A lot better. We're talking no caffeine or dairy, very low sugar and gluten, and a lot more fruits and vegetables. I felt more in control of things, and maybe a little less tired. Then Bird Camp happened I started feeling even better. I started playing guitar again and I kept eating well. I decided there was still time to run a 5k PR in 2014 if I focused.

Then I did something that was way out of my comfort zone. I asked for help. Specifically, I asked someone I respect and trust to coach me. It was definitely a reach -- she is in high demand in all sorts of ways, and she typically works with much faster people. But she said yes! Hanging out on a limb never felt so right.

Remember this if nothing else - if you want something, ask for it! Go after it! Crazy awesome things can happen if you put yourself out there.

I've just finished my first week of training with New Coach. I'm wearing a heart rate monitor for the first time, and I'm working harder than ever. I did two tough workouts this week: a tempo interval run, and 12x400 on the track. They were brutal but I've learned so much already. On Tempo Tuesday I underfueled and ran out of steam during my last segment. New Coach schooled me on how much I should be eating before a workout (way more), so on Thursday I was calorically ready for the track and I nailed it. I've never done 12x400 before and certainly not at that pace. My confidence soared.

My goals - to break 24:00 in the 5k this year and 23:00 in 2015 - are crystal clear. I'm focused and I feel great. Even better, I'm more excited about running and training than I have been all year.

My legs are still not 100%; they still get kind of jellylike towards the end of a 6+ mile run. But I am taking really good care of myself and working hard. I trust myself, I trust my coach, and I trust that these symptoms, like so many I've had before, will go away eventually.


  1. Right on, Portia!! Congrats on the new job, especially because you get to help nerds blow stuff up (or, cure cancer!). Glad you're putting your working energy into what you're passionate about. That is a true privilege that I can tell you don't take for granted. Thanks for the reminder about eating healthier. I'm in desperate need of cleaning up my diet. I think because I don't have a chronic illness I take my health for granted, but I work in healthcare- if anyone should know about prevention it should be me! I'd love to see you post on something that a lot of people don't talk about- how do you stay focused, committed and goal-driven? In general? What makes you wake up and decide to run, even when your body is telling you to sit this one out? What fuels your drive for staying on-plan with anything? This is my biggest piece of work. Getting out of my head! Maybe I need a therapist- OR- an analyst. Didn't Dr. Funke have a great work for that profession as well? ;) LOL!!!

  2. Hey Portia, I just came across your blog on Athletes Fighting MS on FB. I love your story and it is inspiring to hear your ups and downs and persistence. I was just diagnosed in Feb and am a 40 year old mom and triathlete working through the mental and physical crud that comes with having MS. Thank you for blogging! I'm at and would love to connect.

  3. Portia, congratulations on the article I saw on Athletes Fighting MS. Very cool! And exciting news about working with a new coach. My money is on you achieving those 5k goals this year and next!