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! 😀

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Stepping it Up

I recently had the pleasure of experiencing a face-first encounter with the brick wall of reality – and boy did it shake me up!

All this time I keep talking about the future, this summer, next year – and before I know it, it’s no longer the future, it’s now! I guess all I’m saying is that when you get so caught up in planning for the future, it can be easy to forget to recognize the fact that the future will, at some point, become the present. And when you fail to acknowledge that, it tends to come as a bit of a shocker when you look at your calendar and realize that it’s time.

It is at this point that the strong hands of reality grip your shoulders and shake you up like no tomorrow, and you wonder, “where have I been all this time, what have I been doing all this time that the time went by so fast?!”

It’s April, people!! That’s insane.

A year ago, I had planned to do my auditions right around…oh, now! Then I broke my foot, and I tried to figure out when was the absolute latest that I could do my auditions, in case that I wouldn’t be ready by now. By January, I was no longer worried about having to delay my auditions, because my foot was fine, and surely I had enough time to work on everything before April rolled around.

And then, time happened. And it happened so quickly! And now it’s April, and I am not ready for my auditions.

Training for YAGP certainly took a lot of energy and time that, arguably, I could have spent ‘getting ready’ for my auditions, whatever that means. But really, I don’t think that is very true – because YAGP itself, and primarily the preparations involved in it, was probably one of the best things I could do to help me advance and ‘get ready’ [if not specifically for auditions then for my overall future], especially after recovering from such a major injury!

But, allow me to clarify; yes, it is somewhat alarming that we’re already well into spring! At least in the sense that it took me by surprise just how fast the months seem to have gone by (and continue to go by). However, I’m not freaking out. Well…maybe a little. But not like a complete psycho…haha.

So, in light of this recent insight as to what month it is already, I’ve decided to revamp my training routine so that I can be ready as soon as possible. Oh, and as far as when I will do my auditions? I don’t know! When I am ready, I suppose? A few paragraphs up I mentioned that, when I broke my foot, I tried to see how long I could actually go before it would be too late to audition – well, I figured that August is generally the absolute latest I can push it. I REALLY wanted to do them now. But, honestly, I don’t want to do them before being ready, and ruining my chances altogether.

Right now, I’m thinking to just go with the flow. I won’t throw my plans in the trash just because they didn’t work out perfectly – and I won’t forgo giving myself the credit I absolutely deserve! I might not be ‘ready’ now, as far as ‘ready’ pertains to how I envisioned ‘readiness’ a year ago – but I am so much closer to being ready than I was then! I mean, I even surprise myself when I think about it! So I am far form unhappy; if anything, I have just gained an increased awareness of the high expectations I set for myself (which, by the way, I consider to be a wonderful thing).

Maybe I will do the auditions this summer, while away in Europe. I could do that, although I wouldn’t have my teacher with me and I really feel that I need her direct help with this one. So then, I could do them when I come back in August. My only issue with this is that I won’t know what my plans are for the year until the very last minute! Maybe it’s all the better, though, to challenge my slightly overbearing tendencies to over plan and my probably-too-enthusiastic need to know exactly what I will be doing, when, where, with whom…! And so on. It’s a bit intimidating! But it can be done.

I guess, if I had to guess now, that what will end up happening is that I’ll do some auditions in May, some in the middle of summer, and some when I get back form my summer program. Hopefully that will leave me in a good place with several options to choose from. And, of course, I can’t forget that my summer program itself has a couple opportunities for advancement of training into the school year.

Regardless of when I do the auditions, right now my priority has to be doing everything I possibly can do to be ready – whenever that may be! I just have to be ready at some point. 

So, I’ve decided on a few key things that I should be doing in order to be ready!

  1. Sleep. I am making this my priority now! It influences my ability (or lack of) to do everything else well, how efficient I am in doing all of it, my moods – it’s just so important! Definitely more important than staying up to watch Game of Thrones with my family, no matter what the impulsive part of my brain tells me when I’m ‘in the moment’. I have Tivo, and my family will still be here on the weekend, so I can sleep comfortable, knowing that I will have a chance to watch it with them on a day I don’t come home so late.
  2. Pilates. I don’t know what sparked me to want to start this, but I know it’s supposed to be good for ballet dancers. I will admit I am a little intimidated by it. But I’m going to be a big girl and get over that, and start pilates! I will be satisfied and proud of myself if I do it even just once a week. My reasoning as to why I am ok with only doing it once a week? I am trying to make lasting habits, not temporary efforts to change my routine, so I need to make it manageable and enjoyable! That, as well as the fact that my schedule does not offer me the flexibility to fit in more than one class a week – even that one class is a real stretch!
  3. A better warm-up routine that I am comfortable with. I have a problem: I always try to do too much. I want to improve my arabesque, and my turnout, and my arches, and my pirouettes; and, like a good little girl, I turn to my ever-knowledgeable friend The Internet, determined to find exercises that will help me do all that and more! The determination fades a little – ok, a lot – when I print out the list of the aforementioned exercises and it is two pages long. At this point, I am usually scratching my head trying to figure out when I can fit all those exercises in; five minutes later I will give an exasperated sigh and abandon all hope of ever being able to do my exercises reap the glorious benefits. Or, I do find a way to fit it all in, but it is so impractical that   the frequency with which I do the routine declines rapidly! It’s awful, because I need my warm up before class. I used to have a solid routine down, but – and I realize this sounds stupid – I lost the paper it was written on, and I can’t find the file on my computer where I saved it! I did have it memorized, as anyone would after doing it every single day for years, but after the recent chain of injuries, time-offs, schedule changes, getting a job, starting college, yadda yadda yadda…the routine got abbreviated and shifted and messed around with and now it’s just not the same. So I made a new one. One that I think will last and serve its purpose well. But this time, I am going at it with a more reasonable approach – one of embracing an attitude of ‘go-with-the-flow’-ness. I won’t fret if I see that I need to adjust it. I will do what works for me. But at least now I will have a warm up routine I can count on!
  4. Lose weight. Well, this is the biggest one, really. But I put it last because I don’t have anything to say about it, because I don’t need to change anything I’m doing. I’m doing everything correctly because I’m not doing anything special at all, which is just the way it should be. The reality is that my body will only lose weight as quickly as it wants to lose weight, and it didn’t want to be at my goal weight by the date I had hoped it would. So I’ll just keep going and working toward being ready – and my body will be ready…when it is ready!

Today is the last day of Spring Break and so I thought it was the perfect and most appropriate opportunity to post this. I like the idea of finishing this break off knowing that I am going back into my training much more well-prepared and with goals and ways to achieve these goals. I’m excited!!

A Speech to Myself

For the past two days, my thoughts have been focused on nothing else besides these next few months. I will admit – it is all a little bit overwhelming! This spring (and later, this upcoming summer) will be filled with opportunities that will shape my career and my future. First on the schedule is a possible performance in February, in which, should I end up performing, I will be dancing the Talisman; a month later, on March 9-11, I will be traveling to the South Carolina YAGP semi-final to compete with this same variation. Then, sometime in April or possibly May, the time will come to do all of my audition videos, send them away, and hope for the best! In between all of these, I have three different photo shoots scheduled, one in February, one in March, and one in April. All of this is great! It is beyond exciting, and I am thrilled at all of these opportunities!

But it hit me yesterday – I have only two months to get ready for this; one month if I perform in February. And while I wouldn’t give these opportunities away for anything, I wish so badly that I had more time. There is only so much progress that can be made with my body in such a short amount of time. But, such is the life of a dancer! Worrying about any of this won’t do me any good and will probably do a lot of bad! So now it’s time to stop analyzing, stop planning, stop calculating what is and isn’t possible for me to achieve in the next two months – now it’s time to go and do and figure out what I can achieve in two months by putting my best foot forward and proving to myself what I am capable of! After all, what else is there to do?!

This is my time, my chance. And I’m taking this chance all for myself, because I need to succeed! 

You see, until now, I have always talked about all the stuff I have to do this spring as if it was in the future; well, that’s completely understandable – it was in the future! I had planned this all out, made a timeline, and all along I have known that “later this year” I will do my auditions, compete in YAGP, and really start my transition to a professional career. Granted, I never planned on breaking my foot and subsequently losing two whole months (which is a significantly large chunk of time to lose; I feel this now more than ever as I continue preparing with only that same amount of time left)! But alas, some things cannot be planned for, and are entirely beyond my control.

And now, well…it’s now! It’s no longer “later this year”, now it’s “at this time of year.” And it’s not in the future anymore; it’s right now.

After a year of anticipation and planning this all out, I am sure you can imagine how I might be feeling just a little distressed now that it’s actually happening. I hope I’m not giving you the wrong idea – I am more excited than anything else!

So now it’s all up to me. I’m done planning, now I get to start living it all, actually carrying out my plans, and seeing what happens. Will I lose all the weight I need to by YAGP? Let me put it this way – whether it’s considered possible or not – I really have no choice! And that’s that; questioning myself and questioning whether I will lose enough weight in time or not is neither productive nor helpful. I will not question any of this any longer, because there is no need at all – I will instead answer these questions by doing and seeing what happens.

By the way, I will say that I am less stressed and more relieved now than I was yesterday before rehearsal. During rehearsal I decided with my teacher that I have enough on my plate, and so I will only be taking Talisman to YAGP semi-finals. One variation is enough for now, and this way I can really have it perfect! Not having to prepare a whole other variation has really let me breath a sigh of relief at all of this! And Talisman is going to be perfect 🙂 Yesterday during rehearsal I did triple pirouettes – and now my coach and I expect nothing less! We’ve set it to three of four pirouettes, and that will really wow the judges. And I am proud of myself, too!

I guess today’s post was more of a motivational and reassuring speech to myself than anything else, wasn’t it? Well, it helped me, that’s for sure!