The ART of Growth
Being Comfortably Uncomfortable
This Monday I’m going to switch the blog up a little bit. One, because last week was filled with amazing teaching experiences and extremely little time at the easel. So this week’s “new work Monday” will invite you to join me in a section of my life that parallels my art world.
In addition to my adoration for color and paintbrushes…I also love physical movement and growth. Outside of my studio I am a CrossFit Trainer, Eat to Perform Nutrition Coach, and a lover of adventures. Including, but not limited to running, biking, swimming, hiking, skiing…you get the idea.
I love to paint my impressions of the places I go. You’ll see mountain ranges you recognize as well as colorful abstractions that reflect my inner self.
This week, I wanted to share an article that I recently wrote for the amazing gym I am a part of in Bozeman, MT (Altitude Athletics/Coldsmoke CrossFit). It is absolutly connected to my art musings, but it is specific to my recent race, the Monument Valley 50k trail race.
Enjoy, comment, share!
Next week, you’ll find some artwork that reflects these feelings as well.
By Allison McGree
“Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.”
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
“Believe in the possibilities you can’t yet see.”
“Starve your distractions, FEED your focus.”
“Breathe, trust, let go…and see what happens.”
“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.”
These are words I wrote in my journal BEFORE I ran a 50k.
…because running a 50k terrified me in such an all-encompassing way-
I had to do it.
Other entries from this past winter training…
“Shit. Those were some snowy dark miles.”
“Below zero, I can barely get air in under all of my layers and my hands are freezing.”
And my continual battle with recovery…“Just got coach’s orders, to rest… ugh, resting sucks.”
The miles were dark and long but they taught me a lot about delayed gratification, dedication to something big, and the importance of recovery. Recovery. Recovery. Recovery. (I’m still learning).
I can laugh now. Because now it feels so simple (and wild that I was terrified to some degree every moment before I started running the race). But that’s the journey I guess; finding something that scares you to your core, wondering why…and doing it anyways. Or, doing it because being scared means you’re growing, changing, evolving; a little bit of fear is great for the soul.
Looking back, it’s pretty overwhelmingly awesome and (again) so damn simple. Just do the work and, “Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.”
Literally HOW did I run a 50k (my furthest race to this point being a half marathon) I asked for help, from giants. Then, I put in the miles and recovered hard in between.
“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of GIANTS.” Isaac Newton
Two points to this quote, my PHENOMENAL (zero exaggeration) running Coach, Blair Speed, knows how to train the mental and physical…and she coaches both…because both are equally important if not the mental being more so. I was asked to contemplate my giant (to help me get through potential dark places that can come up in running 7 plus hours). In doing so, I realized one important fact above all else. Not one damn person is a super hero alllllll of the time. They/we are human. Human giants are who we stand on, who we learn from, who we lean on…and who we are friends with; they coach us, challenge us, make us grow. Cheers to the “Jane Doe” of Giants in us all.
Point dos (two). Human giants are freaking phenomenal. They have a gift, an eye, and a heart. If you were to ask me the two main factors of how I actually was able to (happily and pain-free) run 32 miles. Blair Speed and Shelli McClung.
- Speed was born to be a running coach, it’s literally her name. Coach Speed held me back when it was necessary (and horribly painful for me); she coached ME in a way that was amazingly ALWAYS exactly what I needed. It’s hard to describe in words; Blair has a gift. She can read people, push people, hold them back, empathetically understand them…and she can see greatness and potential in others that they can’t yet see themselves. She has an open-ended belief in the brilliance and limitless of the human potential. Her spirit is the same reason the four minute mile was broken, or why Ultra running ever started. We all have so much more in our wheelhouse that we think we do. She is a giant, and luckily, a great friend as well.
- Mater PT Shelli McClung freaking saved my body. If you have an ache or a pain or ANYTHING that comes up…she too has a gift. Without all of those damn mobilizing PT workouts to complete and her amazing eye helping me every step of the way (believing in me was key too, not once did she tell me not to run or that it was bad for me). She is a freaking PT giant and she helped my body move fluidly for the entire race.
I could tell you many, many stories about the funny mind games that I played counting up miles and down miles like I count down reps in CrossFit. Getting to a place where the work is a game and my mind was alert running a series of “mini” races was a blast. The odd elation I felt around 23 miles when I only had two more “mini” races to run was the same way I feel when I get to round 3 of 5 in a horribly amazing metcon. The biggest difference for me during the Ultra was focusing on enjoying the present moment. The beautiful scenery, the rhythm of my feet against sand, the views, the breeze, all of the amazing souls on the same journey; these things were my focus. Enjoyment over pushing my limits of power and speed helped me be part of the entire adventure. That is, until I saw Speed at the top of the last hill before the finish line…at that moment, I ran as fast as I could with every bit of energy I had left. ☺
To sum it up, my Ultra experience reminded me to be comfortable being uncomfortable, to believe, to focus on forward movement…no matter how slow it seems to be going. It also reminds me how important having an awesome community of support is. To everyone that I took with me on this wild run, I thank you for all of the amazing positive energy that propelled me every step of the way. Yes, it was just a race, but somehow it’s so much more than that too…
To quote Coach Speed- #thereligionofthelongrun
Now, let’s all start finding reasons how to do things instead of excuses as to why we can’t. ☺