Monday, December 31, 2012

The Quiz: version/366 days of fabulousness

The annual year-in-review.  2012 style.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
Ran a half-marathon, visited the Bahamas, shot a gun, did some freelance writing

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No resolutions for 2012=no resolution failures.  I want to run a sub 3:50 marathon, but we'll see.  I'll be happy to run/jog/walk/stumble across the finish line for #5. 
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Not this year.  Lots of friends and acquaintances preggo though.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Thankfully, no funerals this year.  A friend of a friend passed from cancer this year, but I dodged the death thing in 2012.

5. What countries did you visit?

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
More motivated running, a maid service, more time spent with friends (always a wish!)

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
September 4th--the day I started a new job after 8 years at the same company and my first 'real' job.  It was sad and exciting at the same time.  I loved working for WS and actually exclaimed many, many times how much I loved my job.  But some ugly stuff happened in the final months and I had to stop making excuses for being miserable and start being brave.  For the record, it was bittersweet, but absolutely the right choice.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Changing jobs

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not believing in the beauty of my dreams

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
A food poisoning incident in July that I actually left work early and missed a day for (ugh!!!) and a rolled ankle that kept me from running for a long weekend.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
An awesome vacation with my friends.  Plane tickets to Grandma's 90th birthday party.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My husband. Always. For putting up with my girlish drama, for making me laugh, for being ridiculously sweet, and for loving me unconditionally.  I didn't know you could love so much more after the butterflies subsided, but I'm pretty thrilled that I get to love more with each passing day.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Nothing changed from last year (or any previous year): "The rude and angry public that lack manners."  I'm too classy to name other names. Ha!

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, groceries, date night, the cruise bar tab.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The cruise, the epic rafting/shooting range/bowling/party weekend, a new job, Grandma's 90th, meeting a real live Loopster (aka Flying Tomato), running marathon #4/half-marathon #1, the Olympics

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
"Call Me Maybe", it' okay to judge me

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? H-A-P-P-I-E-R
ii. thinner or fatter? same-ish.  I dunno, not as toned, but not as girthy? who cares, except me?
iii. richer or poorer? richer--Adam and I got new gigs with mo' $$

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Not too much.  I don't have too many regrets about time spent in 2012. 

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Getting up at 4:30am.  Waiting for life to change me instead of me changing my life. Worrying, always worrying.

20. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Never fell out of love....

21. How many one-night stands?
Zero, that same guy keeps sleeping in my bed :)

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Parenthood, New Girl, 90210

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Yes, but classy broads never name names.

24. What was the best book you read?
"Born To Run", the Hunger Game trilogy

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Pandora streaming on my phone

26. What did you want and get?
A Vitamix.  It still is awesome almost a year later.

27. What did you want and not get?
A Dyson.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Yes, I'm 30 and yes, I liked the final Twilight movie.   

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude, it was epic.  I was on a Bahamas cruise with a few of my besties and my awesome siblings.  I ran a 30K for being 30 in the morning, chilled during the day, and had a crazy awesome evening with formal night and birthday shots.  I am pretty sure that it was the most fun one is allowed to have.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being at peace with myself about the choices I make.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
I finally bought a pair of skinny jeans and slouchy boots.  I bought 6 v-neck t-shirts in assorted colors from Target that are staples in my wardrobe.  Lots and lots of running clothes.

32. What kept you sane?
Running, shooting a gun, making new friends, wine

33. What political issue stirred you the most?
Oh my.  I'm just happy my candidate won.  The only other great things to come out of election year 2012 were the awesome Google chats/Twitter feeds.  I love technology!

34. Who did you miss?
Seeing my besties every day.  But that just makes our interactions that much sweeter.  Love all of you!

35. Who was the best new person you met?
Flying Tomato-he allowed me to be comfy with a running friend and coerced me into a half-marathon. 

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
“I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards.” -Alberto Salazar
Change is good.
Eat more kale.
Stepping away from what's familiar can reap valuable rewards. 
My brother and sister are siblings, but they are also great friends.  I'm lucky like that.
Each year, I do a lot of dumb stuff (it's fun!!!!!!!!!!!), but I also continue to gain a little wisdom with my age (wahoo!!!!!!!!!!!)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Loopster inspiration and I hope I got my cootie shot

Biscuitpusher's Christmas calorie contest has kicked my running into high gear this week.  Nothing like a little friendly competition to get me out of a funk.  I'm so far away from winning the awesome prize, but I am totally enjoying the daily posts.  Having the The Loop makes me relatively accountable for my running, like weekly-ish.  Loopville makes me think about it more often--I see it throughout the day on FB, but I don't feel the need to contribute every day.  This calorie contest is 'forcing' me to contribute every day and I definitely don't like the goose egg days.

I am normally a run every other day kind of gal.  Or 4 days a week if I am marathon training.  I just have never felt compelled to run each and every day.  I love running, but hey, I love rest days too.  Most weeks I run 25ish miles, always more than 20, but rarely in the low 30s.  However, this week, I am at 34 and I still have 1 more day left.  And I am still excited to run!!!!  I don't think I could get this excited every week in a contest as the novelty would wear off, but I am enjoying this novely.

Monday, I ran 16 miles on the dreadmill, or as one of my FB friends said, in the pain cave. It was thunderstorming all frickin' day.  Tuesday, I Christmas-ed (booze + caloric-laden food=no running).  Wednesday, I ran 3 easy miles.  Thursday, I ran a hilly 8 miler.  Friday, I felt sickly so I rested.  Today, I ran 7 miles.  And today's run wasn't that terrible--I felt sluggish on the first mile, but then I settled into a comfy pace and felt pretty good.

Tomorrow I plan to tackle the onerous task of taking down the Christmas decorations.  Ugh.  Although, I must admit, I really love getting my house back after the holidays.  It's just a pain because it takes a few hours and Adam is super busy this week with everyone trying to use their flex spending for eyeglasses.  He's working 2 6-day weeks and he's feeling sickly so I'll be the nice wife and let him off the hook for Christmas un-decorating.  Poor guy was all NyQuil-ed up last night and I had to sleep in another bedroom so I could get some peace and quiet.  Hopefully, the worst of it is over and he keeps all the cooties to himself.  Yuck!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Awesomeness might happen in the next 11 days

I see the 2012 recap bandwagon....and I am just going to lollygag behind it for another 11 days.  I mean, I still have 11 more awesome days of 2012 to enjoy and some pretty great things might happen.  Probably nothing earth-shattering, just mildly amazing, but hey, I'm a newfound optimist.  Only took me 30 years to become one, but being one is pretty rad.

I ran 7 miles Tuesday night, 3.5 miles last night, and 5 miles tonight.  Getting out of bed has been a struggle ever since I started enjoying my cushy new gig.  This time last year I was getting up at 4:30am on a regular basis to get to work by 6am.  Now I'm lazily hitting the snooze button 3 times at 7am.  Oh well, I suppose as long as I know the price I pay for evening running. 

It hasn't been that bad actually.  Tuesday night's run was great.  Yesterday was not too shabby either.  Tonight, I felt a little sluggish getting into the first mile, but then I started to feel good again.  The top of my foot is still sore from dropping a 150 pound artificial tree directly on the top of it a few weeks ago.  I think I must have bruised the bone.  Maybe.  All I know is that it is still nagging me. 

In non-running news, I must say that it is super weird to not feel overwhelmed and exhausted with the month of December at work.  I am actually getting sleep, not eating Peppermint Bark for meals, and feeling like I am not super stressed about getting it all done.  Look! I even have time to write a blog! 
The best news? I have Christmas Eve off! How great is that?? I cannot remember a time in the past 10 years that I have had both days off.  I will probably just putz around the house in my pjs all day, but whatever...  I'm just thankful that I took the leap of faith and stepped outside my comfort zone.  Sometimes the grass can be greener.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Strategy for #5, aka learning from my dumb mistakes

After my 12.12.12 run, I decided to just stay with the status quo this week.  I ran an easy 5 on Friday night and an easy 6 this morning.  Friday's run was meh, but luckily today's was a little better.
I'm still a couple of weeks away from official marathon training.  I get nervously excited about raring back up each January for the March race.  I am hoping that I continue to learn what works and what doesn't work with my training and racing.  As I've said before, I am going to work on 3 things: slower long runs (no more faster than race pace 20 milers!!!), hill training, and strength training. 

We'll see if the combination gives me a PR or not.  At this point, I'm not really gunning for a PR on this course.  I think if I had good training and a good race on a flatter course, I could shave some decent time off my PR.  However, this hilly beast is difficult even under good conditions.  I'm hoping for good weather and for my body to cooperate.  Otherwise, I will just try to relax and enjoy the sweet reward of another 26.2 on the books.

Adam's birthday was yesterday and we celebrated by going to The Capital Grille.  We ate waaaaaaaay too much, but it was super delicious.  I had calamari, a blue cheese wedge salad, filet oscar (yum!!), creamed corn, truffle parmesan fries, and chocolate hazelnut cake (double yum!!).  We split a bottle of shiraz that both of us really enjoyed.  I've been drinking a lot more pinot lately, but I will always have a place in my heart for the full-bodies. On the way home from dinner, we cheesed out singing along with Christmas songs on the radio.

All that fatty, yummy food caused some serious snooze button issues this morning.  I was so groggy and did not want to get up to run before work.  I was really on the verge of not running, but I knew I would regret it.  Once I got going, I was (of course...) happy that I decided to get my lazy butt out of bed....

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

You runners and your silly peer pressure!

It only took me 10 minutes to get to the 'New Entry' button.  Stupd %*)$#* pluck! Gah!!

But now I'm here.

I ran 7 miles yesterday.  Easy breezy.  I felt pretty good.  About 7 on the body/mind cooperation scale.  I was running a recovery pace so I was hoping to just finish my run without issue.
Today, I was driving home from work and thinking, 'hmm, I could go for a run before Adam gets home'.  I thought if I ran a little tonight and a little tomorrow night, I could split my usual run up.  I decided that I would run 3-4 tonight and 3-4 tomorrow night.

And then I started looking at FB while I was waiting for the dogs to do their business.  All the runner peeps were posting about their 12.12.12 runs.  I didn't really think about it too much at the time.  I put my running gear on, plugged into Pandora's pop fitness station (oh yeah!!), and decided I would do a little speedwork session.  The original plan was 2x1600 with a 1 mile warm-up and 0.5 mile cool down with a 0.5 mile recovery run in between.  4 miles, math majors.

1 mile warm-up at 6mph (10:00/mile).  Then 1 mile at 8mph (7:30/mile).  I was feeling sluggish by the end of the mile so I changed my tune.  I ran the next half mile at 6mph and then another half mile at 8mph.  By this point, I had finished 3 miles.  I liked this 800 on/off thing and decided I could run longer than I planned.  6 miles sounded great and I started to cool down for less than a quarter mile. 

Too much thinking in that cool down led to me deciding that another mile and a half would be doable and I could attain the awesomeness of completing a 12K.  Sweet.  I felt pretty good at the end and I was happy I decided to go a little further.  Yay for good kinds of peer pressure!!!!!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Happy 90th Grandma!

My one and only alive grandparent turned 90 this past Saturday. For the past year and a half, my family had been planning to spend the long weekend in Salina, Kansas to celebrate her birthday. On Friday morning, Adam and I, my mom and her boyfriend Bobby, my sister and her boyfriend Tim, and my brother headed to the middle of America.

Grandma is still completely lucid and in fact, is quick to snap back with one-liners that can erupt an entire room into laughter. Unfortunately, she has weakened a bit physically and we finally convinced her that perhaps she was old enough to use a walker and have a Life Alert (help! I've fallen and I can't get up!) subscription. The first hour we were at her house we got her all set up with her new 'toys'. It was sad at first until we saw how much happier she seemed to be scooting around the house with her walker.

But I digress, the weekend was really fun and full of an appropriate amount of celebration in her presence. And a little extra for the 'kids'. cheers

Friday, Adam had to go to his favorite Salina establishment: The Cozy Inn. They've sold little onion-y slider-sized burgers since 1922 and are a must-stop on every visit. Or 3 times, if you are my obsessed husband. That's right, he at Cozy burgers on Friday, Saturday, AND Sunday.

We spent the rest of Friday afternoon visiting with Grandma and then giving her a brief respite while we shopping at the DAV and a couple of antique stores. In the early evening, she and my mom and aunt and uncle went to a wake of a dear friend while the kids stayed back home and sampled some local brews. It definintely felt a bit strange to be drinking beer in Grandma's living room while she was dealing with death, but in retrospect, I suppose the best way to deal with death is to live life.

The group convened at Carlos O'Kelly's for some Tex-Mex and margaritas (notice a theme?). Grandma seemed to be happy to out of the house and we sat at the table for quite some time afterwards talking and catching up. And emptying glasses....

Once we got to the hotel, me, my brother, and my sister and her boyfriend hung out for awhile longer drinking 1 more beer before bed. (If you are counting my lushness--the number is only 3 for Friday night.)

When I got up at 8am on Saturday morning, I debated on going for a run. I thought we were supposed to be ready to leave at 9:30am to begin the festivities. However, by the time I realized I actually had had enough time to run, it was too late. Oh well. I wasn't feeling great anyway with the beers/margarita, getting up at 5am, and eating nothing but delicious garbage the previous day.

We went to Brookville Hotel in Abilene for Grandma's birthday lunch. A couple of my mom's cousins met us and the group had a nice meal at one of Grandma's favorite places.

After lunch, we went back to Grandma's for more visiting and perhaps, a little napping. It was a wonderfully slow afternoon of just relaxing. My sister and I went out in the early evening to run errands. We were searching for Obama and Romney chia pets (seen at the local Kmart), a gluten-free dinner option for my sister, and Cherry Mashes. We found Romney chia pets and a tacos for her dinner.

Everyone else had Cozy burgers and later, we sipped on lime sherbert punch (some cups spiked with champagne) while enjoying Grandma's birthday cake again. Grandma looked pretty tired around 8pm, so the group let her rest. The kids reconvened in my brother's hotel room. We had a great time playing card games with M&M 'chips' and polishing off the beer. Lush count: 3 drinks.

Sunday morning, I was ready for my run. It was coooooold outside, but I was determined. I had in my head I would run 7-10 miles, depending on how I felt. I wore capris (probably should have worn pants, but I survived), a short sleeve, a long-sleeve, and gloves. The temps were in the upper 20s when I started out, but it was WINDY. 13* with the wind chill according to my weather app. Eek!

I ran north through a commercial district into the winds when I began. For about 2 miles, I tried to get my body and blood moving. Once I reached the residential section, I finally started to feel good and the houses blocked some of the wind. I got 'lost' for about 2 miles along some residential streets--a near impossibility when practically all the streets are on a grid. Once I found my way back to a familiar thoroughfare, I realized that I just needed to run one more mile north to make my run 10 miles. So I made the loop along my 'usual' route (I normally stay at Grandma's, but the group was too big this time).

I looped back on a much more familiar course though and ended up back at the hotel with just over 9 miles. And like any neurotic runner, I couldn't just stop at 9.1 miles. I ran past the hotel for another .45 miles and then came back for an even 10 miles.

I barely looked at my Garmin except to judge my distances and was surprised that I had a true progressive run with each mile faster than the last. I knew the last mile was fast because I was freezing my you-know-what off!!!! 8:11, 8:04, 8:01, 7:58, 7:57, 7:55, 7:45, 7:42, 7:40, 7:25.

After a really long and hot shower, we joined the family at grandma's for one final meal of Cozy burgers, leftover Brookville chicken, and of course, more birthday cake. Yup, my body was officially hating me yesterday afternoon....

My weekend by the numbers:

Cozy burgers: 12

Miles ran: 10

Pieces of fried chicken: 6

Alcoholic beverages: 6

Pieces of birthday cake: 3

Too bad I had to come back to reality today!!!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Smart Coach is smarter than me

1. I like to make lists.

2. I made a folder on my desktop today to organize my lists.

3. I keep a notebook in my car for random creative thoughts and/or list-making. 

4. I made three lists besides this one today: one for Christmas cards, one for Christmas gift-giving, and one for my impending weekend trip to Salina, Kansas.

5. All the organization on my desktop led me to clean out my email box (ugh!!!).  I'm not truly a type A as I stopped myself after 4 pages.

6. I then forced myself to decorate the interior of the house with the Christmas stuff. 

7. I got sidetracked dusting neglected corners.

8. Finally, 2 hours later, I called it quits and decided to do something fun: run!!!!!!!

And of course no good run would be without an epiphany.  I am fairly certain that at least half of my ephiphanies are like the ones I have when I am halfway finished with a bottle of wine.  Good ideas in theory....

But this one actually might have some merit.  I will begin training for marathon #5 next month.  I use Smart Coach for my training program.  I do the speedwork and run the distances exactly as they are written.  However, in my most recent 2 marathons, it occurred to me today that I have been running my LSDs waaaaay too fast.  I am dumb.  Smart Coach is smart. 

I was running them about 20-30 seconds faster than my goal marathon pace.

So it was like I was racing a 16-18-20 mile race every weekend.  Um, gee, I wonder why I felt so unmotivated last year on race day.  I mean, I had the prerace jitters and I was thrilled to be racing #4, but my body and mind were tired.   I had a 2-week taper, but I think the damage was done.

I realized that it was part of the reason that I felt so great for the half 10 days ago.  My body was rested.  My mind was not tired of agonizing over pushing my body to the limits every week.  Gosh, I thought I was doing something smart by thinking I could just do a dress rehearsal and feel fantastic.  Oops. 

So my marathon resolution is now threefold (oy!): more hill training, more strength training, and putting the kabosh on the kamikaze long-distance runs.  I'll be happy in I succeed in one category...

As for today's run--I hit start on the Garmin and vowed to not take a peek until the end of my 7-miler.  I had run 7 yesterday at a LSD pace and felt terrible.  I just let my mind wander and put forth a 5 out of 10 effort.  The last 2 miles, I felt pretty great so it was more like a 7 or 8 effort.  I was super happy to find that a medium effort was a sub 8 pace.  Yay!  Today's splits: 7:56, 7:53, 7:55, 7:51, 7:50, 7:45, 7:21.  

Friday, November 30, 2012

Christmas tree pain and pics from last week's race

Yesterday I spent about 5 hours hauling artificial Christmas trees out of my store.  The first 100 customers could buy a tree for $100 (normally $300-$800).  It was craaaaaaaazy.  I had sweat pouring out of every part of my body.  I drug 150 pound boxes to customer's cars like I did it every day.  Fortunately, most of the people played nicely and there were no major incidents.  The last 3ish hours of the day, I spent putting up Christmas trees to fill in some of the space of the sales floor. 
Adam and I went out for beer and cheeseburgers last night.  I had 2 Christmas porters that were higher octane. Um, I slept like a brick. 
This morning, I just threw on my running gear without a thought and ran 5 miles.  Took a shower, sat down to read the newspaper, and O.M.G.  What in the heck did I do to my body?  I felt like my body had been tossed in a washing machine.  My soreness had soreness.  Rawr.  I thought I was at the end of my good spell of running today.  But heavy lifting + bouts of intense cardio + 2 octane beers = not a recipe for successful runs.
I'll be working on redeeming myself for Sunday's run. 
In the meantime, enjoy the few pics from last week's race.  Flying Tomato and I were able to score a few serious BPs at the end:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cavewoman grunts + I made a graph for Santa

I am easily back into the groove of things after last Thursday's race.  I ran 5 on Friday, 5 on Sunday, and 7 today.  Friday and Sunday were treadmill days and I ran an easy pace just to make sure I stay injury-free.  Today, I dialed up the speed at the Greenway and felt happy to get my blood pumping.
The plan was to meet up with FT at the Greenway if it wasn't raining.  Unfortunately for FT, it was raining when he was ready to get his show on the road, so I ended up going solo.  And boy, was it solo.  On the way to the Greenway, it started pouring rain.  I had a rain jacket with me, but I waivered a bit as I drove.  I almost went to start my other errands, but decided to stay the course.  It ended up being a smart decision as it only truly sprinkled heavily for about 15 minutes of my hour-ish long run.  Not enough to soak me to the bone, but my shoes were soggy.
I saw exactly 5 other people during my run.  On a regular day, I usually see about 25.  On a beautiful weekend day, I usually spend my time dodging strollers, bikers, and (hopefully) other runners.  Today was definitely one of those days that I wanted to beat my chest cavewoman style and yell, "I AM RUNNER. I AM BADA$$. I RUN IN COLD(ISH) RAIN."  And frankly, I probably could have with no social consequences given that it was me and the squirrels today.
I dropped a Christmas tree on my foot on Saturday that weighed about 75-100 lbs.  Work hazard.  I thought I broke it when it initially happened, but after a few minutes of internalizing the pain, I realized I would just have a big, nasty bruise.  Of course, my biggest fear was that I wasn't going to be able to run well with a bruised foot.  Apparently, the fear of getting stuck in the rain far outweighed any lingering soreness on my foot.  Today's splits: 8:02, 7:56, 7:42, 7:37, 7:46, 7:31, 7:24. 
I've been busy working on my Christmas wish list.  I've finally reached a point financially in my life (for now anyway) that I don't really need anything.  Cool.  Except that it creates a new first world problem dilemma of trying to come up with new ideas for my family that are interesting and within a reasonable price range.  I'd rather just give the money to charity or spend it on a family experience, but my family is not really into all that.  So unless I want to get ugly Christmas sweaters, I must send out my suggestions.  All this got me thinking about how there I things that I really would use versus things that are just silly.  Geeky me loves a good visual representation in the form of a graph, so I decided to share this:

Friday, November 23, 2012

Atlanta Half RR--aka fun with FT for 13.1 miles

Best. Race. Ever.

Seriously, it was so great that I'm kind of afraid that no other race will be as awesome.  I guess I'll just have to keep testing that theory out...  I'm super pumped up about signing up for my next race!!!!!
Thursday morning started with a 5am wakeup call.  I actually slept really well once I fell asleep and didn't wake up 100 times thinking I had overslept.  I took out the dogs, got my race outfit on, ate breakfast, and we were off.  Adam graciously got up at the crack of dawn to take me to the race and stood in the cold for a few hours so I could run around the streets of Atlanta.  He rocks!

We waited in traffic for a long time to get a parking spot, but luckily there was not a line for the porta-potties and I made it to the corral with plenty of time.  Flying Tomato got there about the same time I did and we squeezed right next to the 1:50 pace group sign leaders.  We talked for a few minutes and then out of nowhere, the race began.

The first miles were at a nice easy pace.  The weather was perfect.  I felt absolutely pain-free and was really excited that it felt effortless.  FT and I chatted about this and that as we trotted along.  We were following the 1:50 pace group pack and discovered after a couple of miles that we could stop elbowing each other if we moved just ahead of the group.  8:20, 8:13, 8:18

The next couple of miles were mostly flat and we continued moving along rather nicely.  After mile marker 5, we climbed a bit on 14th street.  We went back and forth passing and being passed by FT's friends which was a pattern throughout the rest of the race.  FT and I would power up the hills and then be passed on the downhills.  For someone who does relatively little hill training (by choice), I actually did pretty decently on the hills.  8:07, 8:17, 8:20

Once we passed the mile 6 mark, we were headed into Piedmont Park.  I really started to amp up at this point.  I knew that I was racing great and that getting to the finish line was going to be breeze.  I collected a high 5 from a guy in a turkey costume, sucked down my 1 and only Gu (Mandarin orange, yum, yum!), and squeeled a little bit when I saw cute dogs.  Mile marker 7 began the series of rolling hills and mile marker 8 continued the hilly fun.  8:18, 8:17, 8:20

Mile 9 was where we picked up the pace a bit and tackled those hills.  We eased up on the talking and started working.  I still felt good, but I knew we were pushing the pace a bit.  Mile 10, we eased back a little bit and soon we found ourselves amongst the pace group again.  8:09, 8:16

The last 2 miles were me being a super obnoxious running partner and FT taking the entire brunt of my serial cheeriness.  The photos are not posted yet (so annoying, but I'll have to wait until my next post), but I'm fairly certain there is at least one picture of me yapping loudly in FT's ear while he is trying to run a $*@(*# race.  I talked him to death in those final 2 miles--I'm surprised he actually allowed me to finish next to him, haha.  I was feeling euphoric and clearly, oversharing.  Hopefully FT will let me run with him again.... 8:09, 8:04

I have no idea what the last .1 mile split was.  I completely forgot to stop my watch as I cross the finish line.  I was so busy trying to do an awesome double BP with FT (holy acronym Batman!), that I let it keep running for another 2 minutes.  Oops.

My chip time: 1:48:46

I'm super happy that FT PR'd and now that I have raced a half, I have a new PR to beat!  I know without the hills and with more training than 13 days, I could easily kill that PR.  Makes me even more excited to sign up for another race!!!

I was feeling so great today that I worked a retail Black Friday and came home and ran 5 miles. :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards

Tomorrow, if I am feeling productive after my half-marathon and gorging myself at Thanksgiving dinner, I will be posting a RR.  It's been too long since I did one of those.  And I really don't have a good reason why.  Perhaps I'll change my mind after tomorrow, but I'm not sure why I waiver so much between racing and running just for the heck of it.

In the past year, I've run 13.1 or longer 15 times.  That means that I'm running a half or longer every three weeks.  So I'm not sure why I have doubts about race day.  I guess because other people are watching.  There is always a fear of not living up to your own expectations or the terrible possibility of a DNF.  When I run by myself, I only fear letting myself down.  Sometimes that can be just as ominous as we all tend to beat ourselves up the most. 

But I take solace in the fact that I was given a sliver of enlightenment this week.  Flying Tomato lent me a book months ago with the short stories of Runner's World.  (Sadly, my Words With Friends addiction, while not kicking me off of airplanes, has grossly interfered with my reading time.)  I have been reading a story every few days for months.  This week, I came across a fantastic quote from Alberto Salazar that touched me at the right time. 

"I had as many doubts as anyone else.  Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards." 

And that made me feel, well, comforted.  Knowing that a lot of other runners have the same fears when it comes to the final moments before the gun.  There's that strange feeling of the first few strides of the race that I think, 'uh oh, there's no turning back now!'  It keeps us up the night before a race--multiple nights if we are extreme worriers.  And for us recreational folks, there is no other rationale than good old-fashioned fear.  Ok, ok, there might be a few butterflies reserved for excitement.... 

This will be my first official half (shhh..don't tell anyone I just skipped over that and dove into marathons) and my first race with a friend.  I plan to hang alongside FT for the race and the 1:50 pace group.  I know I have it in me to run closer to 1:40 if all conditions are good (flat, great weather, great training, great race day).  And yes, I'd love to run a great race tomorrow, I'd be a liar if I said otherwise.  But I'd rather spend 5 extra minutes on the course smiling like the big goober that I am tomorrow and save the competitive spirit for another day.  After all, tomorrow's hills might make that 8:24 pace brutal--I don't want to be eating a piece of humble pie for dessert.

Let's rock n' roll:

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankfully giddy and giddily thankful

A week before Thanksgiving (and a lil' half-marathon that I'm racing), I have plenty to be thankful for.  Sometimes I gripe and complain about this and that--I am human after all--but I pretty pleased with the turn of events this week.

1. Running: 10 miles at a sub 8:00 pace felt surprisingly easy on Tuesday.  I did an easy 3 on the treadmill yesterday morning where I forced myself into 9:00 pace.  The 5 easy miles today on the Greenway? I felt super relaxed and virtually no extra effort on this progressive run.  The only time I was panting a bit was on the final half mile where I just cut myself loose.  8:08, 8:04, 8:01, 7:52, 7:33.  There was a runner ahead of me for the first 2.2 miles and he held a beautiful 8:00 cadence.  I totally cheesed off of his pacing skills and gave him about 1/10th mile worth of room so I didn't seem like a creepster.  So I feel good about the race next week.  If if I don't feel 100% on race day, I still know I have it in me to run a decent race.  Plus, the lack of pressure I'm attempting to keep off of the race might actually make it really, really fun!!

2. Work: I started my new gig in September and so far, it's been everything I wanted it to be.  Aside from the annoying part of being the newbie and not knowing everything like I did at WS, I am actually getting to enjoy my life!  I work a 40ish hour workweek.  I get to see my husband for dinner nearly every single night.  I have a few more pennies in my pocket.  My boss's boss actually believes in me and my success.  And I received more good news this week when I discovered that we will not be doing anything super crazy for Black Friday or the holiday hours in general.  I won't be getting up at 4:30am to get to work by 6am.  I won't be working 12 hour days sandwiched in between a 1 1/2-2 hour commute.  This quality of life thing rocks!!!!!

3. 2013: I love, love, love the anticipation of things to come.  I have marathon #5 scheduled for March. We have our cruise to look forward to in April with friends and my siblings.  We are tentatively planning a special trip for our 5 year anniversary (Hawaii??!) with a possible layover in Vegas to have Elvis renew our vows.  It's a little ridiculous and may not happen, but a girl's gotta dream, right?  As for the rest of 2013, I think there might be some other awesome stuff thrown in there...just not quite sure what else.  I'll just keep dreaming big for now!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The last double digit before race day

The bad news is that the Loop is down.  The good news is that I post my blog to a couple of different places so I can actually write something up.  Multi-posting comes in handy at times like this.

I ran my last double digit run before next week's race today.  Since my 'training' has been all of 4 days, this is not anything special.  But I wanted to feel confident about hitting double digits in a decent time so I figured today would be do or die time.  I putzed around the house for a long time before I decided it was time to go running.  I drank my coffee, ate some breakfast, lingered over the newspaper (I did all the puzzles--even the mini sodoku), ate breakfast 2.0, 'researched' some mountain house properties, and finally put my running gear on.

I checked my iPod when I was getting my water bottle together and it showed 3/4 of battery life.  Cool.  When I got to the Greenway and put on said iPod, it was completely out of juice.  Doh!  Hmm...this was not to the plan.  I really, really, really prefer to run with music (or a friend), so I decided to just throw all I know about racing dress rehearsals out the window and strapped my giant Android phone to my arm using my iPod wrist band.  If it started to slip, I could always tuck it in my sweaty sports bra or ughhhhhhhhhh, hold it.  I took my chances and strapped that bad boy in tight.

And off she ran.

I felt light on my feet and had to consciously slow myself down the first few miles so that the last few wouldn't hurt.  When I passed the first mile marker, I saw 7:43 flash as my first lap.  Oopsy.  So I dialed back my speed and decided to look again at the 1.5 mark.  Still too fast.  I slowed waaaaaay down.  Mile 2: 7:56.  I can't decide whether to be annoyed with myself for running too fast (which could be regretful on mile 10) or elated that what felt slowish was actually fast. 

Miles 3 and 4 I tried to keep that same weird cadence.  7:56 and 7:44.  I stopped and took a picture after mile 4 so I plowed through mile 5 with my 30 second break.  7:39.  After that, I said to hell with trying to even come close to the planned 8:15 pace.  I am just going to run like the giddy goober that I am.  I took a couple of more pictures on the way back and that just added fuel to the fire.  7:41 for mile 6, 7:34, 7:30, 7:25, and for that last mile, a sweet lil' 7:07.

I am trying to not feel super confident going into the race with these splits because of 2 reasons.  1) Who starts 'training' 13 days before a race and expects it to be awesome? 2) The hills, the hills, the hills that I haven't been running on.  If anything will cause me to crash and burn on race day, it will be the hills.  So best not to get too big for my britches.  I will just try to enjoy the race for the first 10 miles and then see what sort of 5K speed I can lay down.  If there is no gas in the tank, no worries--this is not a race for great expectations and I'm okay with that. 

Because I never bring my phone/camera with me on a run, I decided to snap a few pictures of where I spend a few hours of my week.  As I finished my run, I decided that having my giant phone strapped to my arm actually was pretty awesome...

Friday, November 9, 2012

Peer pressured: I am now racing in 13 days!!

Sometimes the non-plan is the best plan.  Or at least that is what I am going to tell myself in 13 days anyway.  With a little bit of peer pressure from Flying Tomato, I have entered myself into the Atlanta Thanksgiving Half.

I have run countless half-marathons by myself and 4 full marathons with others, but this will be my first 'racing' half-marathon.  I have a personal PR, but since this will be 'official', I have will have my first official PR for this distance.

I'm not sweating making it to the finish line, but I know that I will not be racing my best given that I decided to do this so close to race day.  I have been training on exactly 0 hills lately so it could be a brutal morning.  But, whatevs, I just hope to have a fun time racing with my favorite running buddy.

We finally got to see each other after months of trying to get a free Thursday morning that worked for both of us.  I definitely needed an uplift in my running and I think it was good for him too after the NYC disappointment.  Getting excited about a race is something I apparently needed (more on that in a sec).  We had no pace goals or distance goals, we just chatted and ran and I pulled the plug at the 3 mile turnaround mark when I grew tired of slip-sliding on the icy Greenway.  It felt so great to run and talk--I was immediately refreshed by the whole experience.

I had been receiving emails from the Atlanta Half and contemplated running.  But I wasn't sure about my work schedule and how busy I would be this time of year in the world of retail.  I kind of forgot that normal retailers pick up a little bit, but that it isn't crazy busy like it was the week of Thanksgiving at Williams-Sonoma.  It occurred to me that I wouldn't be dreadfully exhausted come race day.  Just regular tired.  So when Tomato started trying to convince me to sign up, it took only a few hours to decide that this would be a good thing.

I told myself today that I would go for a run and if I felt really bad, I would give myself the okay not to sign up.  But good God, it was A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!! I felt absolutely, ridiculously high on running.  A perfect fall day of crisp air and bright blue skies and my turnover was fast and powerful.  I felt so strong.  If I could bottle this feeling.... wow!  My first mile was in 7:24 and I kept cranking out a ferocious tempo pace after that.  5 miles at a 7:25 pace, yes please.  Needless to say, the endorphins took me straight to the half-marathon website when I got home....

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Recruiting new members for our cult/running community

A dear friend of mine asked me in a text about how to start walking/running.  Since I am pretty sure I could talk for DAYS about running, I had to forgo texting back and respond via email.  So I shared my story about how I joined the cult and a few other informative tidbits.  I really don't have anyone in my immediate group of family and friends that are regular runners and it would be really great if I could create one convert.  Muahahaha! 
Anyway, if you read my blog, you are either A) on the Loop and already a runner or  B) a longtime stalker on my livejournal (I like to pretend I have stalkers to stroke my ego).  BUT, in my fantasy world, there could be a random reader out there who reads this and it becomes a catalyst to becoming a runner.  So.........I share the email:

Mmmkay, so you know I could blab your ear off on the subject.  I'm just sayin', this might be opening a can of worms as you know I'm a crazy runner girl and only wish that every other person in the world could feel the joy I do when it comes to my hobby.

But that being said, I will try to keep my enthusiasm contained.

The truth is, it's one of those things that took awhile for it to be a habit.  Sure, I did have a background of running in middle & high school, but I didn't become a committed runner until about 6 years ago.  And when I decided to try to make it a habit, it took probably a year of consistency before I felt as though I truly had formed the habit.  And the first time I realized that I wanted to run was the first time and couldn't (I think it was thunderstorming), I knew this could be a lifelong habit if I kept up my end of the bargain.

The first step for me was finding a way to not just walk/run one day and then forget about it for 2 weeks.  I needed to stay on track.  So I committed to myself that I would go every other day for a few weeks.  Every day seemed a bit too pushy, less than that seemed like I'd fall off the bandwagon too easily. 

The first 2 weeks, I just walked for 30 minutes every other day.  I brought my iPod full of dumb songs to the park and walked. 

By the end of the 2 weeks, I was feeling as though I could test the running waters.  I decided I would build up to being able to run for a sustained period.  So on subsequent runs, I walked for 9 minutes and 'ran' for 1 minute, then repeated.  It was more like a fast shuffle at this point.  But as long as my feet were leaving the ground simultaneously, I could call it running.  Over the course of the following weeks, I slowly transitioned to a little more running and a little less walking. 

Long ago, I had cut out an article from Seventeen magazine (yeah, that long ago) that helped me the first time I decided to start running back in middle school.  It took 10 weeks, but each week, you add another minute of running to the run/walk cycle.  i.e. week 1: 9 minutes walk, 1 minute run, week 2: 8 minutes walk, 2 minutes run, etc.   I didn't follow it exactly, but this was the premise of plan. The days I felt good, I would try the running segments for a little longer and on the days I felt yuck, I allowed myself to walk a little more. 

It took about 3 months before I was running for 30 minutes at a time.  And probably another 3 months before 45 minutes became comfortable.  After about a year, I could run for an hour every other day and amazingly, I felt good.  There are days that I still have to just put on my running clothes and pout for awhile until I decide that it is always better to do the workout than not.  There has never been a time when I've been like, "gee, I really wish that I hadn't just run". 

Getting the right shoes, clothes, sports bra, etc. definitely can make the experience more pleasant, but isn't necessary.  I'd highly, highly, highly recommend Fleet Feet Johns Creek and at the bare minimum get a good sports bra from them (and never put it them the dryer or use fabric softener on them--ggrrrr, wish I had learned that years ago!!).  I like music when I run so I treat myself to a set of new tunes every few months.  $5 can go a long way with my motivation.  

The first and last hurdle is staying on track.  I have had a few weeks here and there that I haven't run for various reasons over the past 6 years.  And I beat myself up a little about it (hello, Type A!) for a little while until I lace up and find myself with no excuse to not run.  I'm not going to lie--some of the time I think why I am compelled to continue this madness?   But I seek out the things that motivated in the first place--reading about other people running, eating that extra brownie, some time to clear my head without anyone to bother me--and remember why it is all worth it.

I liked writing this so much, I am going to post it to my blog. :)  Hope you don't mind.  And please, please, please, ask me any questions you might have.  I'd love to help if I could.  I'd walk with you on my days off if you need a buddy!

Friday, October 26, 2012

This time it's not my mind in the gutter

I hate when my body is in funkville, but my mind is ready to run.  The 3 runs I've had this week have been terrrrrrrrrrrrible.  I suppose the good news is that I ran and finished my runs.  But my body is just hating me right now.  And there is no I-can't-run-right-now kind of injury.  Just generalized ick.  My foot hurts a little, my legs feel like lead/concrete/deadweight of choice. 

The problem is likely twofold.  1) Running in the evening has always been my body's least favorite time to run.  2) My job is a lot more physically strenuous and lifting furniture all day long is likely not a good prelude to running after work.  The good news is that these are problems can be dealt with.  I can quit whining about running after work and get my lazy butt out of bed and run before work.  This is easier said than done, especially when Adam and the dogs are snuggling.  And hopefully the furniture lifting will pay off in dividends once my body becomes used to it again. 

I have been extremely lazy (re: virtually none) about strength training in the past few months.  I run and run and run and run without any issue of motivation, but I just cannot get my stupid self back into strength training.  It's easy to say....oh, well, I run 25-30 miles a week, I already exercise enough....I can just run a random half marathon any day of the week without training......but we all know that it's different.  Who am I trying to kid?

Here's hoping my body finds its mojo again soon.  This rickety body stuff is for the birds!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

It went better than I thought

I'll admit that I was kind of expecting a bad run this morning after my exhilirating 11-miler on Friday.  But it actually went better than expected.  4 miles turned into 5 just because I was feeling good.  I decided not to overdo a good thing and go any further.  I was running an easy 8:30 pace and fortunately did not experience much foot pain.

I am actually working a M-F workweek this week--odd for the retail slave.  I hope I can squeeze my runs in without too much pain.  Sometimes it is easier if I run fewer miles and more days on a week like this.  We'll see how I feel when I leave work tomorrow--sometimes Mondays dictate the entire week. 

My brother has been putting together plans for another cruise next April.  We are looking to do a Western Caribbean--Grand Caymen, Honduras, Belize, and Cozumel.  I've done this exact route before and it was a ton of fun.  The scuba diving in Honduras/Belize is amazing.  As part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, it is home to a lot of biodiversity.  Geeks like me appreciate all the cool stuff you can see with an oxygen tank strapped to your back.  I'm ready to pack already and it is still 6 months away!  Tropical drinks with umbrellas are always enticing.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Anniversary #4, Awesome Run #862

Oh what a week it was.  I enjoyed a day of doing practically nothing on Monday.  Mostly pajamas and slacking.  It was glorious.  Tuesday, I ran in the morning and caught up on my Downton Abbey addiction.  The second season became available on Kindle Prime so I am happily streaming new episodes regularly.

The latter half of Tuesday, I worked and did some final prepping for inventory.  We filled all the scanners with data so they would be ready to download on Wednesday morning saving us some extra time.  That being said, we were done by around 10:30 AM.  What????? My previous inventory at Williams-Sonoma in January began at 5:30am and ended around 10pm.  I was, of course, preparing myself for a long day.   So I was kind of shocked that we finished so quickly.  I had packed my running clothes in hopes to run with Flying Tomato in the evening.  But since I ended up leaving at 3pm and he wasn't going to be at the park until after 6, I had to run alone.

It was a bad run.  The first 5 miles were yucky.  The final 2 miles I really contemplated stopping to walk.  All because my feet hurt soooooo bad.  I can't figure out if I have a bout of plantar fasciitis or bad bunions or both.  I came home and took a long bath and iced the worse of the two feet.
Yesterday was me and Adam's 4th anniversary!!!! Yippee!!!  We celebrated by dining at Restaurant Eugene and had a ridiculously delicious meal.  I had a food-gasm, like, 6 times.  We split a whole bunch of appetizers. First was a grilled mixed greens salad with radishes, beets, sweet onions, and carrots.  Next was a fun take on a hoppin' john--black-eyed peas and rice with tender pieces of gulf shrimp in a delcious broth.  With our meat appetizers, we shared a pork belly dish that had sauteed apples and carmelized onions as well as an amazing sweetbreads dish that even Adam loved.  I had this stupidly awesome duck dish that had a sliced breast on one half of the plate and slow-cooked dark meat atop greens on the other side.  Oh. My. God.  Adam had a ribeye that he allowed me taste a piece of--it was meltingly tender for a ribeye.  The final course was a caramel chocolate thing that was the perfect portion of rich and sweet.  My belly was super happy when we left.

Wedding day memories:

I iced my foot this morning for awhile.  Then I downloaded some new tunes for the iPod.  Then I had the most awesome 11 mile run through the woods.  The leaves were falling like a light snow.  The sky was clear and deep blue.  It was in the mid 60s.  Um, I was in runner's paradise.  My new tunes were extra inspiring.  When I got to the cow pasture, I really wanted to hop over the fence and take off at full tilt through the field.  Or at least do a few leaps.  The endorphins were crazy good today!!!  My foot was a little tender on the final 2 miles again.  But I was happy to be feeling so great.  My 8:00 minute miles felt easy.  I'd like to keep this trend of happy and fast runs.  Especially followed by a great meal.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Jack Daniels and bacon>Gatorade and pasta

Life got a little busy and even though I had 1 good run last week, I had 3 bad/eh runs at the end of the week. 

Monday, I went to Fleet Feet to get new shoes.  I had a $50 Groupon and a $15 frequent buyer voucher so I ended up going home with 2 new pairs.  I got another pair of Pures in a half size bigger and I also got a pair of Adrenaline 12s (which I wore to run my last marathon).  I headed straight to the Greenway after my buying spree and put the Pures to the test.  The weather was perfectly perfect and I felt good and rested.  After 6 miles of sub 8:00 minute miles, I plowed out the last mile in 6:49!
Wednesday, I decided to run indoors after work and wore my new Adrenalines.  After about 3 miles in, my feet were killing me.  I changed shoes and the pain let up for about a half mile.  But the rest of the run was yucky.  Not enough pain to make me stop, just enough to annoy me and really ruin what I thought was going to be an easy run.

Friday, I wore the Pures from the onset.  But I just felt tired and achy.  Methinks part of it is the cyclical relationship I have with work shoes, running shoes, being on my feet all day, and the times I run after work.  I wore a pedometer last week to work and walked 16,000 steps AT WORK.  The new gig has a sales floor space of about 3 times the size of my old spot.  So I feel a bit justified in my inability to run well after work.  Most days.

Yesterday was the exception.  I was actually grossly hungover in the morning--more on that after the running blurb.  I didn't eat much of anything all day while at work and realized around 5:00 that I was finally hungry.  I wasn't walking very much yesterday--I spent the day standing in one section of the store doing pre-counts for inventory.  An onerous mind task of numbers and descriptions.  I was grouchy from being an idiot the night before so it was probably best that I was not assisting customers anyway....  When I got home and mustered my big girl pants, er shorts, on, I ran.  5 miles felt really great.  Perhaps it was because I was bracing myself for a bad run.  But I was pleasantly surprised that I was about to get 26 miles in last week.


There is the Carissa that runs marathons, writes letters to strangers, kisses her puppies, and tries really hard to be a good and positive person.  Then there is the one that likes to quash the rules for the night and gets cray-cray.  And when drinking with new and old friends, there is the common misconception in my brain that thinks that if I am having fun with 2 drinks, think of the expodential potential of 6 drinks (or more, let's be honest, at some point, I stopped counting).  Thankfully, I was in my own home and no one got hurt.  I just felt like death for a few hours the next morning.
But it was an awesome party if I do say so myself.  The snacks were on par with excellence.  I roasted a beef tenderloin, made potatoes au gratin with gruyere.
There was also a bacon macaroni and cheese appetizer:

A sweet pumpkin dip served in a hollowed out pie pumpkin with apples from the orchard, mini Nilla wafers, and Wheat Thins:

For the birthday cake, I made a chocolate layer cake with Oreo whipped cream frosting:

Later in the evening, after the majority of the food had been consumed, we got hungry again.  I made some microwave popcorn.  Then we decided to haul our popcorn cart outside on the patio (cause these are good ideas when drinking) and made *real* popcorn.

Then there was the hour that I got into a conversation with someone about the awesomeness of the Vitamix which lead to a presentation of fresh fruit margaritas.  At around the same time, we decided to make chocolate drizzled bacon.

The night was capped off with making a pepperoni pizza and stumbling my way to bed.  The dork in me exclaimed, "I'm not flossing or brushing my teeth before bed!"  As if anyone cared...

Sunday, October 7, 2012

While everyone was racing...

The good stuff had to catch up with me eventually.  I slacked off on Friday in lieu of sleep and had a yucky run yesterday.  I contemplated running tonight after work, but decided to push it to tomorrow because A) I was exhausted and B) I'm off tomorrow. 

I am probably going to get new shoes this week--my foot is definitely angry.  So either tomorrow or Saturday, I will head to Fleet Feet for a change.  I like the Pures enough, but I think I got them a half size too small.  This has made them feel constantly tight from the beginning.  At first, I thought I was being silly because it was such a different shoe, but I really think they are too small.

It was a crazy weekend of highs and lows at work.  We were really busy, but I finally felt like I knew (mostly) what I was doing.  I am still adjusting to a different way of doing things and hope that I will eventually feel like I'm 'home'.  It probably will be awhile before I feel completely adjusted.  The whole outlet mentality is a much different beast even though a lot of my customers are the same!

Adam and I are throwing a birthday party for our BFF Jeff this weekend.  Entertaining in the fall is as fun as entertaining in the fall.  We can hang out outside (comfortably) and fall food flavors are awesome.  It's always great to have something to look forward to, small or big.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

I peeked only twice and (always) a shoe question

All that suffering in the summer paid off.  I am LOVING fall running.  Or maybe I am just loving that the humidity is no longer standing on my lungs.  Either way, I am oh-so-happy that I am feeling a little pep in my step.  I ran my 7 miles today in an average of 7:43.  Sweet! 

The best part is that I only looked at my Garmin twice.  Once at the turnaround/water fountain pit stop when I kind of had to look at it to pause it.  The second time was when I was almost finished and I wanted to see how fast I was going on the final mile--I couldn't help myself.  But, I am pleased that an almost naked run still produces some nice speed.  It was definitely a tempo effort, but there were a couple quarter miles that I felt fully relaxed. 

On a separate note, I have noticed that my feet have started to do their I-need-new-shoes thing a lot sooner than I expected.  Normally, I get about 400-500 miles out of my shoes--once every 3 1/2-4 1/2 months I need a new pair.  But this is the first time that I have worn a minimalist style shoe.  I bought them on July 20th (I checked the receipt in the box), which means that I have only about 300 miles or so on this pair. 

I am thinking that it is fairly obvious that minimalist shoes will wear out faster simply because they have less cushion and are more flexible to begin with.  But just to make sure I am not crazy, I'm curious if other minimalist wearers noticed this.  I went from wearing a lot of the Brooks Adrenaline and Mizuno Wave Riders to a Brooks Flow.   

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The good news train wasn't quite finished

When I embarked on this thing called marriage, I had no clue what I was doing.  I mean, I had this fantasy in my head about rainbows and puppies and happily ever after, but I really didn't see the big difference between boyfriend/girlfriend, living together, or marriage.  It all seemed kind of the same at the time--loving someone is all about loving someone right?

But in my 4 short years of marriage, I've learned that there is a lot more to this partnership.  Especially when you ultimately want both parties to be happy, healthy, and prosperous.  The ebb and flow of each partner's contributions seems to be cyclical.  Sometimes we are lucky enough that they sync on the high spot for awhile, but most of the time it just moves up and down.  Gosh, I can only be in awe of the couples that have 20, 30, 50+ years under their belts!

Now that I've waxed poetic, I can happily announce that my better half is starting a new job with a better salary, better benefits, and a better commute in two weeks!  With both of us starting new gigs this fall, we'll increase our salaries by 30% and go from 108 miles of commuting to 50 miles.  Woot!

It's funny how much more excited I am about Adam's new job than I was about my own.  Maybe because it was sad that I was leaving a huge chunk of life behind? Or perhaps I feared the change? But I'd like to think that it is because I am genuinely thrilled for him. 

These first few years of marriage have definitely had a lot of really fantastic moments.  Great vacations, creating new traditions, adopting (another) dog, etc.  But there has a been a lot of tough stuff too.  Adam's diagnosis with MS and job losses have been some pretty big sources of stress.  That whole "if it doesn't kill you, it'll make you stronger" mantra really kind of makes sense when you've dealt with some tough stuff. It makes the good times that much sweeter though--perhaps why I feel so over the moon about all the happy stuff.

On Thursday night, after Adam found out the great news, I kind of couldn't stop pinching myself.  It was a lovely night to have tickets to a Braves game. I bought a couple of splits of prosecco to toast in the parking lot with--we were highbrow tailgating! We upgraded our seats through the magic of technology, 25 rows behind Chipper Jones.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  The cutest family with the best behaved kids sat in front of us.  The beer stand had pumpkin beer (score!).  Adam won a free shirt and his name was on the scoreboard (I was too slow with my camera to take a pic, oops). The Braves won.  I mean, I can't make this stuff up!  

Cheers to the love of my life!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Tale of Two Runs

Some are deliciously fast.  Some have a lovely cadence that allows the mind to slip in and out of the present.  I was lucky to have both this week.

Tuesday night: After a drawn out day at work, I rapidly changed and stopped at the Greenway on my way home.  The days are getting shorter and my after work runs will soon be limited to the treadmill.  Tuesday was perfectly timed to the sunset.  As I ran, the temperature continued to drop and I relished in the great conditions.

I started out with a sub 8:00 mile and keep going.  Definintely another kid-on-the-playground kind of day for me.  I kept my stride short and fast and gobbled up the "I'm free!!!!!" feeling.  No nagging pains, no tiredness, just pure adrenaline.  I chased down a dude just past the 5 mile mark and stayed right behind him for about a 1/2 mile, enjoying his 7:45 pace.  However, when he stopped to walked, I had no choice but to fly past him!  Splits: 7:55, 7:41, 7:51, 7:55, 7:38, 7:44, 7:15. 

Thursday AM: Oh, I think I'll just strap on the sexy fanny pack water belt, pack a few gels, and see where the morning takes me.  I ran to the end of the Greenway and back which is 13.5 miles.  I had to get my extra .5 miles, so I looped back at the end.  Listened to some ridiculously cheesy music (hello Amy Grant!) along the way.

It was a quite lovely run.  I was going a little too fast for awhile--I tend to get excited when I feel good.  But for the most part I skipped merrily along and got lost in my thoughts.  There's a lot of happy in my life right now that I forget to be thankful for sometimes.  So when the endorphins were all flared up and the cheesy music was blasting, I had no choice but to smile to myself.  Splits: 8:13, 8:08, 8:10, 8:03, 8:15, 8:12, 8:19, 8:07, 8:14, 7:52, 8:12, 8:19, 7:56, 8:26.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Circle of Life: Food and Running

I fought the urge the other day to walk into Fleet Feet and buy fancy new fall running clothes.  Once I step inside that glorious store I immediately feel the need to reward my healthy habit.  I don't really need new shoes quite yet (maybe I can squeeze another 100 miles outta my Flows?) and I don't really need any new clothes for fall.  After all, it is still inching into the 80s in the afternoon.   

But the mornings have been awesome!! Perfect running weather in my book--50's, low humidity, and lots of sunshine.  I heart fall.

Adam and I love to go to the apple farms this time of year and I am hoping to get a free weekend day so that we can go together.  Then I can make apple pie, apple butter, apple stuffing, and all sorts of other apple goodies.  Plus, there is this hole-in-the-wall BBQ place that serves amazing smoked meats near the apple farms.  MMMmmmm....  Definitely a good idea to plan for a long run in the morning to adequately enjoy the foodfest.

Of course, being a member of the 48oz club, any food fest is usually no problem for this girl.  It's okay to be jealous of my eating skills. ;-)

Food and running. Running and food. My favorite circle of life.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My stream of consciousness pooped out this post

For someone who has been rehashing her life with words for 20ish years, I find it odd and amazing that I still have things to talk about.  I began journaling on paper pretty religiously in middle school (circa 1993) after my mom got me in the habit of writing down the day's events in elementary school.  Boy woes and frenemies took up the all the lines on each page.

In 2001, I started blogging on livejournal--installments of that portion of my life are exemplified by this jewel of a post.  As running took over my life and I became addicted to the idea of connecting with complete strangers, I started blogging on Runner's World.  And since running is like flossing my teeth (it's good for me, I never have regrets doing it, but a few times a year I allow myself to be lazy), I find that writing about running and life keeps me wanting to do good things with both.

Q: Where am I going with this post?

A: I sometimes gets so enamored with ideas for blogs that I find it hard to choose.  Some of them are about running, many of them are not.  So I am writing 3 posts today.  Like A Christmas Carol, I am going to visit the past, present, and the future.  Kind of.  Trust me, in my head, it all makes sense.

The Past (Losing My Religion)

The background: I grew up in a home where my brother, sister, and I were baptized in the Methodist church.  Our family went to church regularly on Sundays.  The kids went to Sunday school and sat through Sunday service.  My brother and I were confirmed.  After my parents got divorced, I went through a pseudo-religious phase where I found comfort in the rites and long history of Christianity.  I can still rap (yes, rap) the books of the Old Testament.

But as I became a gnarly teenager, I fought going more and more.  Eventually, my mom stopped asking and I all together stopped going.  And haven't found a good reason to go back since.  I haven't pooh-poohed my spirituality all together.  But I'm not in a place where I want to be a part of organized religion.  I believe in a higher being.  I am fully aware that blogging about religious beliefs (or non-beliefs as the case may be) is a potentially dangerous sport, but I also feel like I have to defend my agnostic stance anywhere I go.

Why do I bring this up?

I happened to be in a weird situation the other night.  Some newfound acquaintances were discussing their church and their pastor.  I had been an active part of the conversation the entire night until then.  And while they delved into this part of the conversation, I became a lot quieter.  It was like co-workers talking about work when you don't do what they do.  There really wasn't much for me to add, but I listened and just enjoyed being in their company.

Then one of them asked me if I went to church.  And while I should feel as though I am allowed to say 'I'm agnostic' just as one says 'I'm Jewish' (like my husband) and expect to provide no more explanation, I suddenly felt like I needed to defend myself.  It was awkward.  And no one tried to talk me into going with them or even suggested that I was 'less than', I just felt that way.  Being in the minority made me feel like I had an inferior life choice. 

Later, after I was alone with my thoughts, I realized that I was being ridiculous. It was just a natural part of conversation for them to ask about church as their spirituality is an integral part of their lives.  I am 30-freaking years old.  I should be able to tell another adult that I'm agnostic and not feel ashamed.  So I'll be working on pulling on my big girl pants as I try really hard to stop caring what others think--easier said than done!

The Present (Living Well is the Best Revenge)

I said it a couple hundred times before, but I really prefer to run every other day.  Unless I am marathon training, I find that it works better for my body and my schedule.  But this morning, I decided that I wanted to finish watching the rest of a movie, so instead of laying on the sofa, I would just run.  There was no goal for time or speed.  I was just going to enjoy my movie.

About 3 miles into the run, I realized I had forgotten I was running.  For 25ish minutes, I was easily trotting along with no pain or care about what I was doing.  And I was so overwhelmed that my body is capable of doing amazing things.  I get frustrated at the minor twinges or lead legs, but I can honestly say that I've had very few physical struggles (knock on wood) while running over the years.
I may sit around in my shorts for a few extra minutes procrastinating the inevitable, but once I get two feet off the ground simultaneously, I know I am only letting myself down if I stop.  This mental strength is something I feel like I am allowed to brag about a little bit.  Because any nutjob can train to run long distances, but to truly enjoy it takes a special kind of nutjob.  And as long as I keep enjoying it, I have to keep thanking my body for allowing me to enjoy it.

The Future (Shiny Happy People)

The third piece of the puzzle comes from too much endorphins from my majestic run. My dad, who moved back to Atlanta after living in Charlotte for 17 years, was in a minor car accident yesterday.  His car is totaled, but thankfully, no one was hurt.  He recently went back to work after a few years of being in retirement and is working about 10 minutes from my house. 

When I spoke to him yesterday, I saw a twinkle of a guy I hadn't seen for a long time.  He was telling me about how he had to go to court for a case yesterday and how he really enjoyed the adrenaline rush.  I had no idea.  I knew he sounded different now that he's been back at work.  He could feel accomplished again.  Glad to know that the competitiveness can be subdued, but it never goes away.  He just never seemed happy or himself when he was retired and now I know why.

Why is this the future? Because I feel really happy that my whole immediate family is now in Atlanta.  My kids (when they are made & born) will have the ability to truly get to know at least part of their extended family.  It never seemed to be a big deal that my dad was 4 hours away, but I realized since he's been here how much better it is to have him close.  Now if only I could convince the in-laws to move here...

So that's today's saga.  I feel better about releasing my stream of consciousness.  Life's too interesting to make every post short n' sweet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A girl power playlist

I listen to the radio in my car and Pandora at home.  Most of my iTunes folder is dedicated to running music.  There are snippets of the Napster years still lingering around, but the majority of the music that I have purchased for my iPod is for running.  Every few months or so I go on a buying spree with new songs or old favorites and treat myself to some new stuff.

I don't claim to have great musical tastes.  I like what I like.  It's mostly sugar and spice pop and Top 40 with a little bit of techno-y stuff.  The past few years I have added country into the mix.  My 15 year old self would think I was so lame.  But I had blue hair and a black bedroom back then.  It's a good thing people evolve over time, right?

Two separate sparks of inspiration lead me to a new girl power playlist for my run today. This morning I read a really great article about Pink in the USA Today.  Later, I watched the last 30 minutes of Bridesmaid which included a song by Hole.  The wheels started churning and the credits for Bridesmaids played, I conjured up a few new songs to finish out my run.  I was so enamoured with my selections that I ran an extra mile to enjoy the songs.

For the final couple of miles of my 8-miler, here's what I rocked out to:

Veruca Salt-Seether
Garbage-Only Happy When It Rains
No Doubt-I'm Just A Girl (I forgot how much I LOVE this song)
Eve-Let Me Blow Ya Mind
Christina Aguilera/Lil' Kim-Can't Hold Us Down

Besides the fact that I was pumped up by my music selections, I was pretty happy to run in just double socks for 2.5 miles.  The last 5.5 miles I wore my Flows.  I have been experiencing some bunion pain and decided to see how my feet felt sans shoes.  It was pretty great for a few miles--I definitely have a more relaxed stride without shoes.  But I do think it is time for new work shoes and probably couldn't hurt to get a new pair of running shoes too.  I'm thinking minimalist shoes don't last quite as long as stability shoes...for obvious reasons.

Lastly, I am greatly enjoying a book that Flying Tomato lent me.  It's the Runner's World book that features the long stories compiled by the magazine.  I have been reading a story each night before bed and feel freshly inspired with each read.  I have a feeling I am going to really sad to finish it so I am trying to savor each story.  And I am such a sucker for human triumph sagas--I love a happy ending.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Patience: Not my favorite virtue

I cannot believe it's been more than I week since I've blogged! Oops!

I've been busy with the new job, running, and writing some more stuff for  Plus, Adam has been hogging the downstairs laptop when we've been doing our evening sofa time...

ran a 14 miler on Wednesday.  Just 'cause.  It was okay.  I wore my old shoes thinking that I would
benefit from the cushioning when going long, but I don't know that it really made a difference.  It definitely wasn't a great run, but it wasn't too bad either.  I am still dealing with some soreness in the ankle I rolled over 2 months ago when I do 10+ miles.  It won't be bad while running, but it will be pretty tight after a few hours of completing a run.

skipped my run yesterday because I went straight from work to date night.  I ran 3.5 miles this morning even though I slept terribly for the last few hours of sleep.  The first mile I felt like a slug.  It took all kinds of effort, but thankfully I felt better after I warmed up.

I was kind of hoping to get 30 miles in this week since I had a 14 miler, but I am just trying to listen to my body.  Having a new job is always a big adjustment.  I'm sure my body is stressed and doesn't even realize it.  Hopefully I'll start to feel more settled soon.  I just hate not knowing how to do everything--it's a very frustrating feeling.  Especially because I felt so ultimately comfortable in knowing how to do it all at my previous job.  It'll come.  I just have to be patient.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Run a race for charity?

Running has been a going through the motions kind of thing this week.  I laced up on Tuesday night and again this morning because it is part of my routine.  It's a good thing that it is just part of the routine because otherwise I probably wouldn't have done it if I had to think about it much.

My head has been swirling with thoughts of the new job.

The new job is going, well, it's going.  It's really hard to do something else after working for the same company for 8 years.  Not that the job itself is hard--I'm confident I'll get the systems and learn the product eventually.  A lot of the aspects of my old job are fully translatable to the new job.  But I'm yearning to feel settled and in love with what I'm doing.  I'll stay optimistic that this can actually happen.  The people are nice though and that is a big part of feeling happy in the workplace. 

Work, blah, blah, blah, work....

I have recently completed a set of articles about charity racing.  I got a lot of great information from the charities themselves.  It definitely inspired me to try it some time.  I really wish that the MS society sponsored more charity runs because this hits particularly close to home.  However, I have other ones to consider like the APSCA.

Anyone have any charity runs do's/don'ts? I'm pretty certain that if you are able to raise the money that this is a fantastic way to race, but I'm just curious about others' experiences.  I am moreso curious about the charities that do the 'all-inclusive' packages that include travel, transportation, etc.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Cryfest cure: dip Oreos in Bailey's

What a week. Let's talk about the emotional rollercoaster of life I've experienced since last Monday.

Let's begin with the lowlights so we can appreciate the highlights:

-Adam had a terrible injection site reaction on Tuesday night.  He started to feel achy, weird, and had a crazy spell of chills in the middle of the night.  His body actually felt cool to the touch.  This has happened a few times before, but it is a shocking reminder of how unpredictable MS and its' medications can be.

-Our oldest dog Josie has had countless accidents in the house this week and I'm fairly certain she is clueless to her bowel movements.  Poor pup. Getting old sucks.

-I hung up my apron at Williams-Sonoma for the last time after 8 years.  I had no idea that quitting a job could bring me to tears.  Multiple times.  As I was leaving the store for the last time, I was so choked up that I could barely speak.  As soon as I got in my car, I started sobbing.  Who cries over voluntarily leaving a job? I blame my coworkers--many of them ridiculously kind and ferociously loyal.

Thank goodness there were more highlights than lowlights:

-28 easy breezy miles this week AND I finished August with only 5 fewer miles than marathon March. Woot!

-I finished an article series for about charity racing.  Guess who is freshly inspired to consider the idea of racing for charity??

-Dinner with good friends on Friday night and dinner with my family tonight makes me feel complete. I'm lucky to have awesome people in my life.

-After the cryfest in the parking lot last night, I drove home and began to remedy the situation.  Adam was out with friends so I crawled into the bathtub, fired up the jacuzzi jets, drank wine, and finished a fabulous book.  Later, I shamelessly ate a grilled cheese and dipped Oreos in Bailey's.  Sometimes a little gluttony soothes the pain.

-I am anticipating the good stuff of starting a new job on Tuesday: better hours, better pay, and a better commute.  Crossing my fingers that I made the right choice.