Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Starting from scratch

I know. It's been a while. I'm not going to bother "catching up" or filling in the gaps. It's just been too long.

It's a new month, new year, so I'm starting from scratch.

My word this year is Consistency. I'm not training for anything right now, but I want to make sure that I am consistent in my running, my biking, my strength exercises, my water-intake, and pretty much everything. I'm a month into my new plan and I haven't missed a single day of running or biking--despite snow days and school delays. Today is yet another delay, which means no preschool, which means no outside run with my Happy Runner friend, which sucks. I'll get on the treadmill as soon as I am done here. I needed to write a book review first.

For the past couple of years I've run less each year. At the end of 2015 I slacked because I knew I was going to be having surgery. At the beginning of 2016 I had that surgery and it took a lot more out of me than I thought it would. My goal this year is to run more than I did last year--but to do it with fewer runs. Now that LightRunner is in preschool three days a week I had been running all of those days plus the long weekend run. I've decided to cut down to just two preschool days, leaving Friday open to meet friends, get errands done, do some book work, etc. But I still want to run more miles, so it's important that I am Consistent.

In addition to my running and biking, I am also making it a goal to get 10000 steps every day. That's pretty easy on my running days. On biking days I have to walk on the treadmill to get more steps. Rest days are the hardest. I had two rest days in Jan (the first week) when I didn't make it. But all the rest I have, even if it means pacing my house at 10 pm to get those final 1000 steps. I'm on a 23 day goal streak right now and that is the longest ever. I actually had to switch my auto-goal to cap it at 10K because I didn't want it to keep going up and up.

January 2017
Running: 65.87 miles
Biking: 45.3 miles
Strength: 3 days (goal is once a week)

I'm pretty happy with the month. I'm on track to meet my yearly goal. Even if I am avoiding getting on the treadmill right now.

Friday, April 1, 2016

New adventures

This is not a running post. I know this isn't exactly a running blog, but I feel compelled to say that because it's been all running for a while.

I'm doing new things. 

About a month and a half ago, my wonderful friend Felice (The happy Runner and Essentially Happy Living) messaged me to let me know one of her friends was looking for people to sell Usborne children's books. I immediately said no. In my defense, it was right after my surgery and I was tired. Tired from surgery but also tired of people assuming that I'm just waiting for LightRunner to get to school so I can go back to work. Tired of the jokes that I need to get back to work (because I've been vacationing for the last 7 years). Tired of people (and society) trying to make me feel "less than" because I am not earning an income. 

So, I said no thanks. But, it got me thinking. I looked into it a bit and I realized this could be perfect for me. I don't want a 9-5 job. I need summers off and flexibility during the day. I need to go to afternoon music performances and be a guest reader and be home when they get off the bus. I need homework done after school and not at 7 pm. Full-time employment is not an option for the kind of life we want to have. But neither is traditional part-time. Part-time in libraries means nights and weekends. I have 2 girls in Girl Scouts with monthly meetings, sports practices during the week and games on the weekend. Nights and weekends are not an option either. 

I need to work at home.

And here was an opportunity to do just that. I wasn't looking for anything yet, but what does that matter? The beauty of these work at home direct selling jobs is that they are completely flexible. I fit it into my existing schedule and when my schedule opens up more, I fit in more. So I reached out and decided to ease into it--I'd do some home parties here and there and some Facebook parties and then when LightRunner starts kindergarten I'd expand into schools and libraries. But then I got my "kit" of sample books and I was added to the Facebook groups of other Independent Consultants and something happened. I found myself excited. I started to see how I can really make this work for me. I'm doing reader's advisory and research and helping people again. I'm connecting readers and children's books-- high quality children's books! I'm doing most of it from my couch or my bed. I think this job was made for me.

I thought I'd wait to do schools and libraries but I wound up adding on the Educational Consultant kit. I had to take an online quiz before I could be certified to sell to libraries! I got one wrong because I misread the question. It's slightly odd to be on the other side of the library-book rep relationship... Particularly since I was often the one answering the phone and saying "No, we buy from reviews not reps." But these books speak for themselves and I already have one library account! 

This isn't the first time I've said no to Felice and then changed my mind. Things tend to work out pretty well when I step out of my comfort zone and I have every reason to believe that this will too. 

I'd link to all my stuff but I try really hard not to keep my name off of this blog... So if you're interested in buying some books or joining my team, send me a message. When I confirm you're not a secret psycho killer, we'll talk.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Surgery is still sucky, but the Princess is not

I mentioned in my last post that I would be having some minor surgery. I've apparently had an umbilical hernia for the last 3 1/2 years. Oopsies. Because small hernias can lead to big problems in grown ups, they tend to operate rather than wait and see, so I agreed to have it taken care of now rather than later.

Last week, Thursday, was the day of the surgery. It has kicked my ass. I thought out-patient meant "easy". It was anything but for me (and now that I've done my research, a lot of other people too). The CO2 gas from the laparoscopy was excruciating. I got sick from the codeine. Nausea, vomiting, constipation plus pain was super fun. It's been a week and I think I am at the regular soreness that the doctors speak of. If I move the wrong way I can feel the mesh poking me. I have to be super careful and slow and deliberate with all my movements. Sleeping is difficult. What's interesting is that my incisions are fine--very little pain in that area. Most of the soreness is on the opposite side of my abdomen, not even where the mesh is. I'm kind of wondering if the camera bumped into an organ! I am using my oils and they are helping, but it's still pretty hard.

Anyway, this past week has been much tougher than I expected. I'm not anticipating even trying to run for a couple more weeks. I might start biking first. I made my bed today and wiped down the kitchen table and I think I'll be on the couch for the rest of the day, if that's any indication of my energy levels. 

I keep thinking about The Princess and her surgeries and how young she was and whether or not it hurt as bad. She seemed to bounce back pretty quickly. I am so glad that part of our lives is over. I've been thinking about her a lot lately. And how pleasant the last year has been. There was a time when we just bugged each other, pushed each other's buttons, brought out the worst in each other. I say "a time" but it was more like 5 years or so. She was so quick to anger and tantrums and we spent a lot of time yelling. 

I've worked super hard over the last year on myself. On not blaming other people for things that I'm feeling, on taking responsibility for myself and my happiness, on not worrying so damn much, on being positive and grateful. I'll be honest, I think the oils have helped a lot in this. As I've centered myself, I think it has spilled over to her. In the last year she has been calmer, saner, and all together happier. I call her my bright-sider because she is always looking for the bright side of whatever has happened. She is super helpful and loving with her sister. She will still get angry from time to time, which is natural and normal--but she's not throwing huge tantrums. Of all of them she has the most empathy. A little while ago I started doing compliments at dinner time. I compliment the kids and they compliment each other (and sometimes us). She has completely taken to it and puts thought into it and is the first to remind us if we haven't done it. She also listens to everything I say--all the inspirational motivational things I have said over the last year--she takes them to heart. When I think back to how unbalanced she was--how unbalanced I must have been--it is amazing how she has transformed. I'm not sure if it's a temporary reprieve until she's a tween/teen... But so far 8 has been pretty awesome. 

Monday, January 4, 2016

Looking back and forward... and up

I haven't been blogging much. I also haven't been running all that much. I took a nice long break after the last half-marathon. I continued to run, but felt no guilt at skipping runs to meet a friend for a hot beverage or to do my Christmas shopping or to simply avoid the cold. As such my stats fell WAY down (this is the first year I didn't go up in my yearly stats too).

2015 Running stats

But I can't say I regret it. I feel balanced and in control. I'm not running to lose weight or to make it to the Olympics. I'm running to feel better and to be happier. So if I skip a run here or there and spend that time doing something else that makes me happy? No guilt.

That's not to say that I'm done running or that I don't have future goals or dreams. But I was beginning to feel bogged down by them and I'm glad I took a step back and remembered why I am doing this in the first place.

I'm going to try to stay on a nice routine this winter for as long as I can. At the end of the month I'll be having a little surgery that will put me on the bench for a short time. I'll have to start slow and short and build back up from that.

At the beginning of 2015, I wrote:

I'm keeping my goals for 2015 simple:
1. Run 3 times a week2. Bike 2 times a week3. Cross train (strength, core, etc.) whenever I can4. Run with friends whenever I get the opportunity! 5. Be the best runner I can be
I'm not giving myself any time goals. I would like to PR at both the 5K and half marathon this year. I'll work damn hard to do it. But I'm not going to define myself by that. I'm not going to judge my success on numbers. I'm not an elite, not a pro, I'm just another Strong Running Mama trying to stay sane and be a good example to my kids. If I do the majority of my runs with a smile on my face (or at least in my heart) and run with friends and laugh, I'm doing pretty good. I am a million light years ahead of where I was 5, 10, 15 years ago. 
For most of the year I did run 3 times a week. I fell off the biking over the summer. It's hard to use an indoor stationary bike when your kids are outside playing. Someday I'll be able to add outside biking to the mix, but not quite yet. I did cross train whenever I could. And I ran with friends whenever I could too. 5:15 am runs are just not for me. I need sleep and if I don't have to get up that early to run (because I can run after preschool drop off), well, I'm not going to. But I have tried to run with Jen on the weekends as often as I can.

Running and biking combined. 

I did PR at both the 5K (and broke that a few months after) and the half marathon this year. I actually had a really good racing year and I think keeping everything in perspective helped.

Back in July (after that big birthday of mine) I bought myself a Garmin Vivofit 2. It's an activity/sleep tracker that works well with the Garmin running watch I have. Someday I'll write up a proper review but today is not that day. From July-December I racked up 2,452,591 steps. That's over 2 million steps in 6 months. Since I wear it 24/7 that number naturally includes all my running miles as well. But an awful lot of those steps are just me getting chores done in the house. I shoot for 10,000 steps a day and most days I do more. All the running in the world doesn't mean anything if you go back home and sit on the couch for the next 8 hours. I am a lot more conscious of any inactivity thanks to the Vivofit (it has a red line that gets longer and longer if you don't get up and walk. Long car rides kill me). This is actually one of the reasons I don't blog as much anymore. I hate to sit for extended periods of time now.

In light of the unknowns about the upcoming surgery (it's possible it will take me longer to bounce back) I am hesitant to have concrete measurable goals. It would be great if I could get my mileage back up but if I wind up needing more than a month off, it may not happen. I'm not signing up for any long-distance races (Ragnar not included). So this year, 2016, I'm going to challenge myself in different ways. I'm going to go outside my comfort zone. I'm going to run toward what I always run away from. This year, I'm going to embrace the hill. I'm not concerning myself with speed (yes, I know hills are speedwork in disguise) or overall distance or anything truly measurable. I am simply going to tackle the hill (really, all hills) and go forward and overcome it. By the end of the year I hope to conquer it and be able to say "yeah, I can run anywhere, any race" without stressing over elevation maps.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

If you buy a running picture, you'll probably want it framed

I never buy race pics. I usually have someone with me who's taking pictures and after spending money on races and running clothes and gear I usually can't justify spending money on pictures. But  how often do you cross a finish line holding hands with one of your best friends? So after Wineglass, Jen and I decided to order one of the pics and split the cost. 

And then I started thinking. Which usually isn't a good idea. 

What if I framed it for her (us)? From there it went to, what if I get a silly race-specific frame? I almost bought a Sole Sister frame but it was vertical and the picture I ordered was horizontal so that wouldn't work. In the end I decided to get a plain silver frame and have it engraved with the name and date. Cheesy, but classy. 

The frame came before the pictures. I excitedly opened it up... and it was vertical. Yup, the picture of the frame on the website was horizontal but I didn't check the tab next to it, so I ordered a vertical frame. Ack!! I researched how to "sand off" engravings so I could just get it re-engraved. I researched anything I could think of to repurpose the frames. 

I quickly realized I was stuck with the frames. So then I thought about the picture. I could scan it in and make it vertical, right? I *could* do that but while my printer is decent, it's not top of the line. So, I did what one always does when one has a problem of this nature. 

I emailed my Daddy. 

I still didn't have the prints but I decided if I wanted true high-quality I couldn't just scan them in. So I bought the digital version and sent it to my Dad to work with. He was able to convert it but because of the nature of the picture the cropping was just too tight. He suggested adding text at the bottom--like the race name and date. Which was exactly what I had engraved on the frame. So, I decided to just suck it up and buy new frames. 

Except the horizontal frames were out of stock.

So, I went back to my Daddy. He filled the bottom with purple--a favorite color Jen and I have in common--but it needed something else. Then I figured if you're going to be cheesy, be cheesy. This entire year I've focused on one word. I had just bought Jen a mudlove bracelet with that word. It's as cheesy as you can get. So, after all of that: 

Center stage of my "running" desk.

The moral of the story is two-fold. Always double-check before you order. And you're never too old to have your Daddy save the day.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mondays or how time works differently with kids

This is not a running post. I have a few of those on the back burner, but today I need to just mind-dump. It's been a long time since I've done that here. I've been caught up lately in the "busy" trap & thinking there's not enough time to get everything done. I reread my There's Totally Enough Time post and that helped me a bit, but I was thinking about it more today when at 1 pm I felt like my day was over and all I had done was gone food shopping.

With a 3 year old.

And there's the rub. There's the normal time-space continuum that civilized people have agreed upon and then there's the one that happens when you throw a kid--a toddler/preschooler--into the mix. Time doesn't work the way it always has before. This is my day thus far:

  • Wake up around 5ish to the sound of the treadmill. Barely fall back to sleep before waking up to kids in the kitchen and husband shaving his head. 
  • Hear alarm at 7 and groan. Lay awake and contemplate ear plugs. 
  • Groan more when 3 year old jumps on me--and my full bladder-- and kicks me with his cold feet. Argue over taking off his pull up. Finally get out of bed at 8.
  • Make breakfast for myself while 3 year old cries over yogurt that does not magically appear in the fridge. Offer him yogurt we do have. Finally accepts. Sit down to eat my breakfast & 3 year old cries because he wants mine, not a little of mine in a bowl, but all of mine. Muddle through breakfast and wish I liked coffee. 
  • Do the dishes left from the early people who think dishes magically get done. 
  • Remember to go through the coupons and the shopping list. Listen to 3 year old yell to stop cutting the paper. Pick up all the coupons the 3 year old stole. 
  • Get dressed. There's no showering with crazy 3 year old.
  • Argue with 3 year old over which toothbrush is his, which toothpaste he can use, and whether or not I can even brush his teeth. Wipe the yogurt off his face while he cries at the injustice. 
  • Attempt to get him dressed. He manages to simultaneously have jelly legs and yet also be completely stiff and unyielding. How is that possible? 3 days later I finally have him dressed. Now we argue over shoes and jackets. It is after 10 am. 
  • Go to first store for just a few things not available at main store. Turns into more when 3 year old flips out over needed totally unhealthy smoothies because of the cool picture on the bottle. Screw you world. 
  • Go to second store and argue over whether or not he should get out of the car. Reevaluate getting groceries delivered. 3 year old desperately wants to go to Panera for lunch. We are not near Panera, nor do I have the money to keep taking him to Panera. Finally convince him we need to go inside and finish food shopping. Manage to get all of our stuff without further incident. It is now 12:00 pm
  • Get home and have panic attack when I can't find house keys. Realize the last person who had them was 3 year old. Have bigger panic attack. Luckily, the keys are in his pocket. Unload groceries while he steals the change from my car. Get everything put away so we can have lunch. 
  • 3 year old needs the ridiculous smoothies for lunch. I don't even care. Helps himself to two, sees my english muffin and needs one. I make him one. He sees my yogurt and he needs yogurt now too. I make him a small bowl. He rips the english muffin and while banging on the island, all the pieces fall on the floor. He cries that he needs a new english muffin. He gets them himself and nearly grabs two before I can intervene. I relent and let him have a new one. He eats neither the english muffin nor the yogurt. 
  • I do the lunch dishes and he helps himself to cereal. 
  • Realize I still need to make bread so I get that going in the bread machine while he runs to the bathroom and tells me he's pooped. Argue over washing hands. Argue over whether or not the safety flashlight is a toy. 
  • Decide I need to blog while he helps himself to tomatoes. 2 minutes until the big kids bus is here and then it's homework and refereeing and snack time and then I have to think about dinner before basketball practice. 

And just like that my day is over.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Catching Up

Seriously nice bling

It's been a while.

First things first. The stats.


Total 103.4 miles
Running: 91.3 miles
Biking: 12.1 miles
Cross Training: probably none
Races: 1


Total 76.2 miles
Running: 76.2
Biking: 0
Cross Training: Ha
Races: 0

August was a great month. I ran a lot. Vader and I raced a 5K together again and I broke my PR again. 27:05. Second in my age group. Just prior to that race I helped my 5 year old nephew run his first 1 mile race. That was awesome. As was having my sister at the finish line to watch me break that PR. It was a great day.

September was full of back to school nights and kid sports and birthdays and while I did my running I didn't do much else. I really felt the stress of the plan this month.

The plan that ended yesterday.

Yesterday was the Wineglass Half-Marathon that I have been training for these last few months. I had originally aimed for a sub-2 time but as the summer went on I let that goal go. My speed work was good (and clearly helped my 5K time) but the weekly tempo runs were sucking the enjoyment out of me and I decided I didn't care enough about a sub-2 to keep doing them. There was also the issue of my BRF recovering from mono and I switched my focus to just finishing the race with her.

We had a bit of a drive to get out there and stayed in a crappy Days Inn for the few hours of sleep we were able to get. The half-marathon started at 7:45 but we needed to take a bus there and the last bus left at 6:30. The weather was iffy all week--we weren't sure if the predicted hurricane would be bringing us rain--but as we lined up for our final portopotty time the sun started to peek out and I was glad I stuck with my tank and arm-warmers instead of a long sleeve.

A couple of weeks ago we decided to switch our run-walk ratio from 1 mile/ 1 minute to 4 minutes run/1 min walk. We planned on doing that for the half and it definitely worked well. We started the race really strong--maybe a little too strong--but we felt good. We settled into a good relatively consistent pace after the first few miles.

Mile 1: 9:47
Mile 2: 9:24
Mile 3: 9:44
Mile 4: 9:51
Mile 5: 9:51
Mile 6: 9:55
Mile 7: 9:56
Mile 8: 10:03
Mile 9: 10:05

I started to lag behind Jen and she actually missed a couple of walking breaks because she was running so strong. At mile 10 my calves started to really tighten up and it was painfully difficult to keep running. I couldn't catch up. Jen saw and slowed down enough for me to get closer, but I just lost it at miles 11 and 12. I can't remember exactly when but the 2:10 pace group passed us and that kind of broke my spirit. We had been running so strong and I just totally lost it.

Mile 10: 10:20
Mile 11: 10:35
Mile 12: 10:37

Jen was up ahead and she was flying. You would never have guessed that just a few months ago she had mono and couldn't even get out of bed. She looked so strong and powerful and I thought there's no way I can catch up to her and finish with her. But I really wanted to. I rallied and pulled it together the last mile.

Mile 13: 9:55

The finish line was in sight. My legs were protesting every single step. I thought about just laying down and rolling over the finish. But when I needed it most, Jen went off to the side, slowed down, and reached out her hand. I had to get there. I busted my butt, caught up, and we finished holding hands. I wasn't breathing very well because I'm pretty sure I was sobbing.

Mile 13.16 8:38

We finished at 2:11:17, 10 seconds away from my PR but a big PR for Jen and that was awesome. I felt pretty bad that she could have done even better had she not slowed down for me, but I know that I would've done the same for her. (But oh the irony! For so long she was afraid of slowing me down because of the mono and here it was the opposite! I think I saw smoke coming out of her shoes!). I didn't run my best race and there are a number of things that probably contributed (fueling, water), but I will never ever forget this one. When it gets tough you need your friends to help you through and I am so grateful to have one like her.