Running Back to Russia

Ok, so I’m not literally running to Russia. And I’m not returning until January anyway. 

But I am most certainly running! And when I think about it, I actually am running back to Russia, nonetheless figuratively.

Let me back up a bit so that I can start making some sense of this post 😉

For as far back as I can remember, I have always just known that I cannot run. There wasn’t even an inkling of a doubt in my mind – it was plain as the nose on my face that I simply cannot run, no way no how, nu-uh, not gonna do it. And it wasn’t because I didn’t want to, I just couldn’t run. It made my throat burn and left me breathless and coughing and I just did not like it at all. I wanted to like it, but at some point early on in my life, for some unknown, probably arbitrary reason, my mind declared running to be ‘just totally not my thing’, and out of my reach as something I am even capable of doing.

I believe the roots of my running complex, to give it a name, lies in my middle school days in California, where the horrible, awful gym class syllabus had as running a miserable mile once (or was it twice?) a week, an event that I remember dreading the entire day and passionately complaining about it at home. I have no idea why I got so worked up about it! Looking back, I don’t understand what I hated so much about running a measly mile, save for that it was no doubt difficult for me. That was before the days of my love story with ballet, and frankly before the days of even knowing what fitness, good health, and nutrition were. I was always athletic – I am told that from the very beginning I was always moving around and twirling and dancing and jumping and overall more comfortable being in a constant whirlwind of motion than sitting down and being calm. I see it in myself still now; in fact, it is partly due to this that I struggle to update my blog as often as I’d really like to – I have so much moving to do that the thought of sitting still for a good chunk of time to write, despite the great love of writing I have, makes me put it off in favor of something more active. I’m not complaining, though – we all know there is an increasingly critical problem of too little activity in the general population at the cost of our health. I know how difficult it is to force yourself into making something that does not come naturally into a habitual sort of thing. So, I am glad that at least I don’t have to worry about that 🙂

Speaking of my apparent tendency to be constantly in motion – and I’m going off on a short tangent here (as if I hadn’t already, right?) – I was amused just a short while ago by the discovery that my name, Noa, turns out to have a pretty fitting meaning for my personality. It means ‘motion’. Well, shucks 😀

/end tangent

Back to the topic of running. I just wasn’t meant to be a runner. It was something that was out of my reach because it was just too hard

Wait. Wait a minute. Too hard? 

Too hard?!


That’s a foreign concept for me, if there ever was one. I’ve never been one to turn down a challenge. I say that now, but apparently, as I’ve just realized, I had done it in the past! I believe that I never really realized that until now because I had decided I couldn’t run so early on – before I learned about the satisfaction of being dedicated to something and surpassing everybody’s expectations and your own in reaching ‘impossible’ heights and cherished goals – that it had become something I didn’t even think about anymore when it came to running. It was not up for argument, it was just ingrained in my view of myself that running is off-limits. 

And I had ways to justify it too. Subconsciously, if anything. After all, running is awful for ballerinas, isn’t it? Everybody knows that! Oh, the woes that await me as a dancer should I put that much strain on my knees and build the wrong muscles and, and, and…!

There is truth in that, of course, and as such I was more than happy to use that as justification for why i just cannot run. 

I am sure that by now you have gathered that something has changed and I am obviously now running. Nothing has changed, really, except for my mindset, which, to be fair, is actually probably the biggest/most significant type of change a person could go through. 

The bottom line is that I am out of shape. Coming home from Russia and taking over a month without much ballet (or anything at all, for that matter) in order to get better was obviously devastating for my movement-seeking self and, of course, for my ballet. I had gotten back up to reasonable shape as far as my ballet technique goes by the end of May (although still nowhere not quite at my best), and then the school year ended and I was confined to the limitations of summer break. While my technique had improved since coming back to classes after my rest, my physique itself is not how I like it to be, and I find myself back in the position of working toward a slimmer body and getting back to how I like to look! 

With both my aesthetic goals and my fitness and ballet related goals in mind, I went into summer break with a game plan in mind. Part of that game plan was to become a runner, to learn how to run. By the end of that summer, running would be part of my life, and seemingly from nowhere I was determined to make that happen! And I am happy to say that I seem to have made it happen, or am in the workings of it happening, anyway!

My teacher told me, some year ago, of a friend she had who was running a lot and lost a lot of weight. Before summer, she told me of another ballerina who was running 35 km a day while in the off season to stay in shape during her breaks. I think it was this, along with some other things and a general renewed sense of energy and motivation in me, that spurred me along to start running myself. And so, I did!

it’s been a month since I started running, give or take a week or so. I’ve lost track of it – because it just feels like something I’ve been doing all along, by now! It comes to me much more naturally than before, and I am stunned to say that I actually enjoy it. I shouldn’t be surprised, but considering my history with my lack of affinity toward the sport, I am. Well, that’s quite alright – one of my favorite feelings is the experience of being pleasantly surprised with myself for doing something I am proud to have done that maybe I didn’t realize I had it in me to do 😉

Almost two weeks ago I decided to run my first 5k with a good friend of mine. I had been training for a measly two weeks but was excited enough to take the plunge as I always tend to do, and it was so much fun! I’m not so concerned about time, not at all, actually. I just want to run! Maybe in the future that will be something I am driven to work on primarily. Not for now. Even without running on a competitive level, I am obviously tracking my times because…well…it’s just what you do! Anyway, we finished the 5k in just about 39 minutes, which I was happy about 🙂

Then a week and a half ago I found myself in a situation of being offered a number for the Peachtree Road Race, which is tomorrow! For those that don’t know (don’t worry, I didn’t know either until, er, a week and a half ago), the Peachtree is the biggest 10k in (I think?) the world, or maybe it’s just the US, with 60,000+ runners and many, many spectators, taking place on the 4th of July every year. I’ve heard it’s a really fun event! So many people register for a number, that they had to make the selection process a lottery-based one. Because of that, you are never guaranteed a spot just by registering. Knowing that, and playing a little bit of the devil’s advocate, I had absolutely zero hesitation upon saying, “YES, give me that number NOW!” And so, tomorrow morning I will rise at the crack of dawn (or possibly earlier), and head toward Atlanta to run the Peachtree! I happen to be in start wave F, which means I am ‘stuck’ with the faster runners, but I am so up for the challenge! My game plan? Playing tag! I think I’ll try to ‘tag’ onto someone and try to keep up with them. I am looking forward to it!

Oh yeah, one more update. I’ve settled on a major. I’m now officially a biology major, with a concentration in Physiology and Pre-Med! The dedication and ‘consumption’ mandated by ballet life, plus the rigors and equal lack of time for much else as a medical student?! What can I say, I’m one ambitious little lady. I can’t help it! I just cannot find it in me to ignore the few things I have a real passion for, and so I have succumbed to my eagerness and decided that I will take whatever difficulties arise in stride because, gosh darn it, if I want to be a ballerina AND study medicine, then I WILL!!

And I have to say, it’s refreshing and very satisfying to realize there is more to me than just ballet. I suspect I’ve known that all along, but it’s just clear as day to me now, and I couldn’t be happier about that! Ballerina. Doctor. Runner. Not yet, obviously, but on the path toward them all. And I have a feeling that in the future I will realize this is just the tip of the iceberg. That should be fun to see! 😀

Advertisements

Winter Break at MCB; Big Decisions Ahead

Wowowowowow!! Major apologies for the huge delay in sharing my exciting winter break at home with my family. I’ve been kept busy with some personal issues and, of course, my return to Russia.

Personal issues aside (I’ll touch on those later), I hope you are all enjoying the new year as we get ready to see January off in only a week and half’s time! 

Playing catch up with blogging has it’s consequences, as I suppose it should…it’s punishment for not keeping up with my duties! Haha. Probably the consequence I’ve come to dread most, other than keeping my readers waiting, is that so much happens every day and by the time I finally get around to blogging, I don’t even know where to begin since I have so much to share!

In light of this overwhelming predicament, I’ve decided to share with you what I consider to be the highlight of my winter break back at home (at least in so far as ballet is concerned). Funnily enough, I wasn’t actually at home for this – my family was visiting in Miami. But same thing anyway, isn’t it? Ha!  

Image

Some of you may know Dance_Reader from twitter. If not, I’ll tell you now – she’s a lovely, very kind, very caring, and extremely friendly lady! She heard I would be in Miami after we got in touch on Twitter, and very generously arranged a visit at Miami City Ballet for me while I was there! Not only that, but I had the opportunity to actually join the company in class the day I visited! Can you say WOW?!

Unfortunately I was unable to take part in the class myself, as my hip was really acting up and I wanted to give it as much rest as possible before going back to Russia. But the visit was wonderful nevertheless, from the behind-the-scenes look at the costume workshop as they prepared last-minute costumes for their upcoming premier, to meeting the Delgado sisters and also Kara, a friend of Dance_Reader who is also a ballerina with MCB, to getting a new perspective on the Balanchine influence in ballet (and admittedly learning to appreciate it much, much more). 

Image

Image

I am not too familiar with the Balanchine style at MCB, NYCB, SAB, so on and so forth; I’ll admit that up until now I’ve been rather narrow-minded about my preferences in ballet, dedicating my attention almost exclusively to – you guessed it – Russian ballet and the Vaganova schooling system. I’m really happy that I gained this desire to be a little more open-minded in how I look at ballet; I most certainly credit this new-found open-mindedness to my visit at MCB, and I profusely thank Dance_Reader, her family (after visiting MCB, my family and I met her father for lunch), and all the people at MCB who made my visit possible!  

Now, I said I would address some personal issues. As you all know, my winter break has ended and I am now back in Russia. I’ve been here a week tonight, but already I’ve been facing some major decision-making as a result of several big issues that have popped up, or that were already existing but have increased in magnitude as of late. The first is my hip – both hips, actually, although my left one in particular – which has been bothering me for a long time now; recently it has gotten to the point where I feel unable to do much in class; or, at least, what I am capable of doing is nowhere near my potential, and it’s aggravating to not be able to push harder when I know “I can”. There are some other factors at hand that are playing into my dilemma-of-sorts as well. Going home over the winter break and then coming back to Russia revealed a side of me that I was completely blinded to before! This break was really a new experience for me; until now, I dreaded school breaks – a break meant that there would be no ballet classes, and I would have to just wait until the break ended. On top of that, since I was really trying to get myself ready for this school (in Perm, I mean), I felt like I did not have permission to rest, anyway. So while ‘patiently’ waiting for ballet, I also felt like I absolutely, no-questions-asked, no exceptions, had to do stuff on my own each and every day of my break. And not just floor barre or just some cross-training or just some stretching every day – no, I had to do all of it, every single day! Of course, such ambition is good, but the tasks I had set up for myself were impractical given that they also clashed with the nature of the break itself, and with my body’s desire to take advantage of the break and rest; this left me feeling guilty each time I didn’t do what I had planned, or didn’t do it fully. As a result, breaks were never something I particularly looked forward to, which is a real shame! 

This time, I was relaxed. I was already a student here: dream accomplished, goal check-marked off my bucket list; I was tired and my body was more than ready for a rest and my mind was, too, and I was more than willing to give it that rest, since I felt like I had already achieved what I had set myself up to do from the very beginning. And so, I came back home for the break with no intention of doing anything other than enjoying myself and enjoying my time with my family – and this is exactly what I did. And it was wonderful! 

And as it turns out, I have a lot more on my bucket list than I was aware of before. Ballet – studying at a Russian ballet school – was always at the top of the list, so big and in bold and with neon flashing lights around it; it was so dominating that it almost ‘distracted’ me from everything else I want in my life! But distracted feels like the wrong word. It was legitimately dominant, and I would never had wanted it to be anything less, because…hey, look at me! I’m in a Russian ballet school. I’m living my dream. 

And all of a sudden, I started finding other dreams I have, other goals I want to accomplish; one of the things I realized I want, for the first time in my life, is family. That might sound like a given, but I honestly never thought about it to this degree before! Going home and then coming back to Russia made me really feel the weight of being without a family by my side; and some day, I want a family of my own, as well. 

Anyway, it just got me thinking. My hip has left me thinking about what else I want to experience in my life. I feel like I have accomplished so much already – I feel successful! – but I am not satisfied yet, I still want to accomplish so much more. The recent events, and the realization that I have accomplished my dream, have woken up my appetite and I am now hungry to explore more, to learn more, to do more. 

And so I’m weighing my options now and preparing to make a big decision. It seems that the condition of my hip might warrant more than just ‘going easy’ during class if I want it to get better. And I might just take hold of that opportunity to see what else life has to offer.