The first speed work of the season – the first time I really try to push my running in a specific, measured way – knocks me to the ground. I accomplish most of the workout, and then drag myself around for the rest of the day and sleep 9 hours and wake up still tired. I wonder how I, or anyone else, could ever do it. But by the next week, I’m ready to try again. And sure enough, I am able to complete a planned workout better at that time. I’m tired afterward but not dead on my feet. By the third or fourth week of track workouts, I can sort of take them in stride. They’re hard but a good hard.
As you know, my running’s been in the tank this whole year, but I found myself on a track yesterday after dropping Zoe off at camp, and had the above-mentioned experience, and can’t WAIT to do another one next week, for the above-mentioned reasons.
Mercifully, I can recover much faster on the oboe than I can running. Which is why I’m not a professional athlete.
On Monday I tried a run-through of the recital I’ll be performing next week. And it was SO awful. I have a lot of reasons for this – reeds too wide and flat, a few days off practicing due to Oboe Reed Boot Camp, a super hard recital – but I couldn’t get through the program and I felt horrible and I just knew I would fail in front of every oboist in the world, and I hated all the time I’d spent on my transcription* when I probably should have been playing the oboe. You know. All the mind games that come in when things aren’t quite going well.
But I just knew that things could get better. I forced myself to the end of the painful run-through and took a much needed break. I marked the spots that needed particular attention. (The ENTIRE Bach, for example!) Then I came back several hours later and tried to reset myself. I knew that diving back into the recital repertoire was a recipe for stress and disaster, so I pulled up some Ferling etudes. Lovely, satisfyingly tonal pieces, rangy and technical but not actually difficult. Familiar. And I spent an hour, on the oldest, safest reed in my case, working slowly through these pretty tunes just looking for the quality to come back into my playing. And it did begin to come back.
That night when I came back to the oboe for a third time, I worked slowly and gently through the passages that had given me the most trouble. I used a reed that felt comfortable, and strove for the highest quality playing that I could manage. In performance, by the end of an hour of HARD repertoire, I am in survival mode, but in my practice room late at night I had the leisure to play the last few pages of Mendelssohn feeling fresh, and solve the technical problems without the extra onus of panic. Granted, the end of the recital will feel difficult, but that’s not an excuse to not BE ABLE to play all of the notes well. Because I’m better than that.
Anyway. Tuesday morning when I again attempted a run-through, things were better. So much better. This morning was OK, too. I am starting to think that this performance might be fun. Or at least not humiliating. Fingers crossed, and I’ll keep practicing…
*I have finally finished my Mendelssohn transcription, and I’ll have it available for sale on my website soon.