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Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Goals

So it is the last day of 2012.  It has been a good year and I have tried to be a better person by bettering my health and important relationships.  This year won't be a lot different, except that after this year I know I can do more, because I survived the incremental changes I made last year.  So below are my goals for 2013.  I won't call them resolutions.  To me that means that you have to accomplish an end goal or fail or you have to completely eliminate something to succeed.  For those with legitimate demons to overcome, like smoking or drugs, a resolution is probably something to hold your feet to the fire.  For me I am looking for more meaning and balance in my life so hard and fast resolutions tend to fly in the face of that.  These are things I aspire to do and I know by working toward them I will be in a better spot next year than not working toward them.  Undoubtedly, some I will achieve and some I won't, but no one ever said I am a worse person for trying and a better person because I sat it out.

2013 Goals

Run my first 1/2 Marathon
Run 1500 miles for the year.
Run everyday
Strength train twice a week
Eliminate most TV (all pointless reality TV) - We changed our TV subscription to basic (hubby and I both see the need for this one.)
Write more - always a passion.  I only recently rediscovered it writing this blog.
Eat more variety especially new grains
Do more together - we can save $ on TV and spend it on actual experiences together
Listen more talk less
Read more.  I have read about 6o books on 100 Books to read before you die I hope to read all of them, maybe not all this year.
Cook more at home
Donate to charities I care about: Water related charities, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, and animal related charities.
Spend more time with the cats
Work as hard as I can at work and then leave it there and be fully in the moment at home.
Say yes to work projects I know I will enjoy and that will advance my field, and no to the time sucking activities that only frustrate me.
Tell people in my life what they mean to me

Seems like a lot, but none are too specific or too onerous.  I already found the 1/2 Marathon.  I am going to register for it and run it in April.  It is a women's half and is at Lake Lanier where my husband and I honeymooned in 1998.  It will be nearly 15 years and we are going to spend the weekend before the race in one of the Lake Houses so we can have couple time and I can accomplish a goal.  I am now on day 50 of running everyday.  Right now I feel good.  Setting this as a goal means I may not run everyday, but I will surely run more than if I said run 4 days a week.  Reading more is something we should all do; it transports you and keeps your mind sharp.  The others are really just about aligning my actions with my priorities.  I hope everyone has a safe and happy New Year and you make progress on your personal goals.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Coming Home

Vacation is great.  You get to see new things eat at new restaurants break up the monotony of the same old same old.  Coming home is better.  For me, I have  a good life.  I am pretty lucky: great husband, good friends, a job I love, and my health.  Vacation is not so much an escape from my reality but a chance to gain a new perspective and grow and explore with the person I love most.  It is always fun, but nothing is as fun as pulling in at home and seeing 6 little furry faces in the window with eyes that say "you came home again, no way!  I thought for sure this time you were gone for good this time."

Also nice to put on our running shoes and get out the door on a familiar route and run for fun and because we can.  It felt good today.  One of those effortless runs where everything just comes together.  Okay to be fair that is how it felt to me, hubby shared with me on our return home that he was not having the same experience.  I am sorry.  Sometimes that happens when you run together, and sometimes it happens if one of you is too wrapped up in enjoying your own run that you don't tune in to your partner.  Today that was me and I am sorry his first run back home suffered because of it.  I will do better tomorrow.  We have just a short pre-race run to keep our running streaks.  I promise to follow his lead and be a better partner.  Well I have 6 cats to make up to for abandoning them to a full time pet sitter.  They have a tough life!  The mountains were beautiful, but nothing beats coming home. 

Me at Long Creek Falls, a part of the Appalachian Trail.  As a water geek I had to hike to Falls.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Enjoying the Mountains

Taking an end of year break for a quiet vacation in the mountains with my hubby. Did a 6 mile run/hike yesterday on the Aska Trails. Dropped to 20 degrees at the snowy ascent. Back to blogging when we return to the ATL. Off to Appalachian trail and the Falls.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Whether you celebrate Christmas in the traditional way, or Christmas isn't really your thing.  It is a day where everything slows down, and given recent events, it is an opportunity to show those we love how much we love them.  It is not by what you gifts you bought.  The best gift any of us have to give is time and attention.  Today is a day to hold those you love a little closer a little longer and to listen more intently.  I have some goals for 2013 to help me to do this more and align more with my priorities, but today is not the day for that.  It can wait.  Today is a day to tell those you love how they have influenced your life and how different things would be if they weren't there.  Instead of looking at the mounds of gifts, look in the faces of the givers, for no matter how you feel about Christmas that is the real gift.  Merry Christmas everyone!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Year in Stupid

So it is the end of the year time for stockings, egg nog, enough wine to dull the sound of annoying family members, and another favored tradition a chance to enumerate so many things in those end of year countdowns.  There is no shortage of topics: best dressed, worst hair, celebrities lost, best song, top movies, most unforgettable wardrobe malfunction.  For me the end of the year is a time to remember the stupidity that marked it so we can try desperately to learn from this.

So here we go: 

1) Climate Change, Shlimate change.  What happened to teaching science?  How can anyone who has lived witnessing the last several years of ever increasing storm severity and widespread drought still believe this is the Earth cycling through these events, and everything will once again right itself?  So said the T-Rex, just ask him.  Oh yeah...he's extinct.  This is the epitome of see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  Super Storm Sandy is the proverbial "hawk in the coal mine" (because the canary died during Australia's 15 year drought).  This year 68% of the US was plunged into drought.  That is probably not climate change.  More than likely it is God getting back at us for removing prayer from school, or supporting gay marriage, or that blasphemous first step down the slippery slope of societal decay: letting women wear pants.  That is probably where it all went wrong, not an anthropogenic reaction to the increasing cost of life on a small planet with 6.5 billion people that pumps out Carbon like McDonald's make hamburgers.

 2) Let's Just call them the Less than Fabulous Rape Brothers.  Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin.  You want real entertainment in reality TV, put these two in a Science Bowl.  First of all Mourdock can't support abortion in cases of rape because that is what God intended.  Who is this guy's God and I hope I haven't pissed him off?  I guess the belief that a guy in the sky made that decision is perhaps more fact based than Todd Akin who somehow believes that a woman's body recognizes legitimate rape and won't allow implantation of a fetus.  Let's not even discuss "legitimate rape."  Did this guy take biology at that weird creationist amusement park?  Instead of donation letters, his Alma Mater sends him cease and desist notices to stop telling people he attended their school. 

Then we have this clown, Wayne LaPierre, vice president of the National Rifle Association who 90 minutes after the national moment of silence for the 26 Sandy Hook victims, 20 of them first graders and 6, dedicated educators who only wanted to protect their students, goes on National TV to say the solution to gun violence is more guns.  Not only is this his position he has to put it in the most terrifying context of "the next Adam Lanza is already planning his next attack."  Way to calm fearful kids and a terrified Nation WAYNE.  And by the way guess who is arming these freaks?  He had the audacity to call government officials jackbooted thugs for trying to pass gun control.  Well all I can say is as the Vice President of  Jackbooted Thugs, Wayne should know one when he sees one. 

I don't want it to appear that I don't appreciate stupidity.  What would this year be like if I could not both thank and apologize to Mitt Romney.  First thanks for the memories.  I don't know when I have laughed more than the Republican Convention watching Clint Eastwood yell at a chair that he thought was the President.  I hope all those guns he uses in the movies have blanks, because he is clearly one of those mental health cases that are slipping through the cracks.  Also who can forget the 47% of the US citizens who are only victims with their hands out.  Really, you laugh, but do you have binders full of women.  I mean I am a woman and I don't even have that.  As for the apology.  I underestimated Willard.  I thought he was the most boring man on earth, but I was wrong.  He is unintentionally hilarious!  He also apparently never wanted to be president.  Weird huh?  Seems like a long, painful, and expensive way to visit Iowa and North Dakota. 

Just when we thought all this nonsense would be over: we survive the Mayan Apocalypse.  Now what about all those who were convinced the world would end? Crawl out of the bunker, donate the canned goods to the food pantry, pay your Visa bill, call your boss and apologize.  A whole new stupid year starts in a little over a week!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Late to the Party

So my hubby and I enjoyed a little easy 10-K this AM at the Silver Comet Trail.  The weather was beautiful around 39 degrees and sunny.  It was fun we were just talking and running like we do on weekends.  Running together is great couple time if you are looking for something to do together with your spouse, plus you will feel better and have more energy.

I have been amazed as I hit day 37 of my RW Holiday Running Streak.  I have been feeling pretty good and I expected to have a much tougher time.  Today hubby asked me again if I was going to continue my running streak after New Years Day.  I was thinking when I started this that New Years Day I would be running the Resolution Run with one thought in mind I don't have to run tomorrow.  Instead I am kind of bummed thinking that the official reason I committed to run everyday is over.  I am seriously considering joining hubby and continuing my streak at least for a while.  I am not sure, like him I can press through when sick or injured, but I am thinking of at least having the mindset that I plan to run everyday. 

Both of us had the same thought today as we started off the run.  My husband said "I can't believe I only started doing this 3 years ago.  I missed so much time." It was so weird, and maybe proof that we spend too much time together, but I had the same thought when I got up this morning.  Of course I can't claim 3 years of running.  I ran for the first time in February 2011, I can tell you it was not a pretty sight.  See below, sight has probably not improved much, but it is something I love instead of some weird form of pay back from my husband for what I imagined was some huge betrayal on my part, because why else would he make me run!  Now I am that girl. I talk about tights, and races, I have two sticks of body glide in my bathroom, and stand before my running shoes seeing how my feet feel before choosing a pair.  I get up at 4:30 most every morning because is there a better way to start your day than banging out a run?  I am grateful to my hubby for pushing me to run and pushing me past my doubts "I am no runner" and comfort zone.  Now I just need to make sure his greatest fear is never realized...I can't chick him since I owe him for even being able to say that!! 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Probably My Last Post

So since the world is ending tomorrow I am left with a few burning questions for which there may be no answer.  I am not talking about ridiculous questions.  I mean essential questions that can change the universe.  Like:

If the world is ending tomorrow, what time is it ending?  If it is like noon, do I still need to get up at 4:30 AM and get my run in? I mean it is  going to be cold and I could sleep in it's been a long week.

How is the world ending.  You would think in the age of Twitter and Facebook I could at least be able to download a program of impending Armageddon.  I mean what time do the locust arrive?  Are we talking about one big explosion or something more theatrical like a modern day reemergence of the ice age?  I heard it is going to be in the 20's in Georgia.  Who knows?  Are we talking a mammoth volcano?  Mayans seem particularly fond of volcanoes.

If this is happening is it happening in stages?  Will I have time to film or instagram some part of the world's utter demise and put it on Facebook and Twitter before everyone is gone?  I mean 6 Billion is a lot of people to wipe out. 

Why does the end of days have to precede my two week vacation?  I mean have we really checked that calendar, it is pretty old?  I can't even read the stuff on my office calendar I wrote in January of this year.

Lastly, possibly the most important question for all woman kind, if the world is ending tomorrow why didn't I have the birthday cake at work?

So on the off chance you are still around tomorrow and we find out that Mayans wrote Apocalypse on the calendar but that was only the name of their dentist, I will see you later.  Happy day before the end of the world!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Random Observations

Sharing a car is much more difficult when you are a grown adult used to doing what you want when you want.  Boy have I gotten selfish!  When I was a kid sharing a car with my sister was easy of course we both wanted to do the same things: shop, hang out without our friends, and pick up boys.  My husband isn't much up for any of those.

Wal-Mart may be the crossroads of America, but there is something off putting about the whole experience.  It always takes me at least a day to recover from what I see.

At Kroger if you want to buy an Amazon gift card for $30.00 your only option says Happy Birthday!  So before Christmas I need to etch "Jesus" in the same font and color.  Fortunately, I don't have anything else to do.

The closer to vacation I get the less actual work I seem to accomplish at work.  In theory I should be working double time to make sure everything is up to speed, but I find I might have adopted an it can wait until 2013 attitude.  It also could be that my boss spent much of the week talking about my future that involved no increase in pay but a huge increase in work.

Multi-tasking by picking up your husband and having a cellphone conference call with a state regulatory agency will probably make your spouse edgy.  "Okay, okay you can drive to the mechanic."

I don't miss having a Christmas tree.  We have 6 cats and having a tree is more like being a zoo keeper in the monkey exhibit.  The whole effort was exhausting and it is difficult to enjoy the relaxing ambiance of a Christmas tree while untangling a cat from a string of Christmas lights and sweeping up the 5th star of Bethlehem to crash to an early demise. 

Sometimes the best run you take is when you stop focusing on all you know about running and just run.  Did that today.  Decided to run like a first grader to honor the little Sandy Hook victims.  Now I remember why little kids like to run so much.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sometimes Things just Suck...and Other Holiday Greetings

I think my cat Mo is elegantly expressing the holidays so far this year.  I mean let's see how the week before Christmas has been rolling out. 

So Friday my husband, the Elementary School teacher, comes home and I just start bawling. Because I know somewhere in Connecticut there was a spouse who was at a fire station realizing when they kissed their spouse good-bye and had the mundane morning chatter of who would run what errand, who's parents to see over the holiday, or the ever important debate what to serve for dinner they did not realize they were having the last mundane conversation they would ever have.  But walking in my door was my husband, because Friday it wasn't his school. 

Sunday we take my husband's car to have the fuel pump replaced, and here we are on Tuesday night still no car.  They replaced the fuel pump but it is still having some problem they can't find.  Since we are carpooling, Monday morning allowed me the rare pleasure of dropping my husband off at school or as we now refer to it, the demilitarized zone, because there are cops permanently stationed there until school is out for the holidays.  I mean I don't know who doesn't dream of dropping off their husband, the elementary school teacher, and feel relieved to see cops in the parking lot.  I also got to try out a new salutation "Good-bye I love you.  Oh yeah don't get shot today."

Then Monday my boss decides it is a good time for career counseling, but it sounded more like "since money is not your chief motivator I have decided we should keep you at your current salary but we want to eliminate two manager positions and give you their duties."  I explained I would be returning that gift, though I really appreciated the thought.  I was also mostly alarmed when my boss followed up today with "thanks for yesterday, that was a good talk."  Wow that was a good talk, I wanted to kill myself but you know "different strokes for different folks." 

While all of this is going on, my oldest cat, Frankie went for his check up and he has a heart murmur, dental disease, and kidney disease.  We are just beginning the many steps to get him back on the road to health.  It will be a little bit of a long road for him but I think he has few more of these stellar Christmases to go.

Then today our Water System suffered a loss. An employee of 19 years who had come back from a devastating illness was found dead in his apartment.  Mike was a tough, private guy.  He always joked because I am so fast and he  is so slow after his recovery that we were the tortoise and the hare.  Even Friday, the last time I saw him, he said, "remember Kathy the tortoise always wins."

Not feeling the holidays this year, but in the face of all of this I have to look at what I do have: my husband, friends, family, my cats, a home, a job, my health, and food on the table.  In the face of what so many have lost maybe the Christmas spirit is still in there somewhere.  At least when I run I feel lighter and more centered.  It is also where I think of those who have lost so much and try to cling to that gratitude I know I need to hold dear. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Running Catharsis

The holiday season is a busy time and usually I am not that delightful to live with during this time.  This year I decided to do the Runner's World Holiday Running Streak.  I am on Day 32 of running everyday.  I have to say that I was doubtful that fitting in running in a hectic time of the year would be beneficial, but I have to say it has been.  It is amazing how running helps me stay centered, how even with running shoes and cute outfits, it is so much cheaper than therapy.  I have also been amazed about how universal it seems.

With the tragedy of Friday in Newtown, so many of my runner friends have said they had to go out and run, because it is on the road or on the trail that they come to grips with things or have time to contemplate. Some even said let me go out three miles so I can cry for those victims and then run it out.  Running is cathartic and it is calming.  I hope you have your thing to get through this or to get through a stressful holiday season.  I for one just felt fortunate that when I looked to my left this weekend on my runs I saw my best friend, life partner, and running buddy.  Days like Friday help you realize that having those you love beside you, may just be enough.  The Christmas gifts we went shopping for this morning after a rainy run just seemed frivolous, doing it together priceless.  Amazing how quickly you can gain a new perspective.  Why does it have to be in the face of so much loss?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Saddest Day

Today everyone in this country feels like a part of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  For me, I see my husband and his colleagues and those little students he talks about every night, only today I see them cowering in a corner and begging for their not yet lived lives to be spared. 

A friend of mine posted on Facebook "Today I have no Words."  I thought that was profound but then I thought I have three "Gun control now."

I am not a religious person I think of myself as more spiritual.  I do believe in the spirit and I believe in some hereafter though not sure what form it takes. A friend sent this poem.  I leave it here for any who read this.  I don't know what lies beyond here but I hope the Peace described here is what greeted those  teachers and students today. I hope that the family left behind is successful in finding comfort in whatever they believe and the compassion of a heartbroken nation.

This morning I woke up,
looked at the Connecticut sky.
I had a good feeling
I can't tell you why.

I kissed Mommy goodbye,
and told Daddy I love you.
And before we separated at the sign,
I told sister see you soon.

The bell rung,
we all rushed inside.
It was warm and loving
like a campfire light.

The teacher smiled,
my friends waved hello.
We started class,
but before you know..

The door busted open,
a man with a gun.
I was scared and broken
I looked at the sun.

The same sun I saw
with so much love.
Now brought me worry
but I'd stay tough.

I felt a pain
go through my whole body.
I saw a light
and an awful goodbye.

I saw Mommy's face,
her beautiful, soft lips.
I kissed her this morning,
she was something I'd miss.

I smelled Daddy's cologne,
when he hugged me today.
He left for work,
not knowing what life would take.

Sister was only a few blocks away,
in a classroom, I could see
I'll never get to say
how much she means to me.

My 6th birthday was coming soon,
I was dreaming of ponies
and shoes.

Then I felt a hand
touch my face.
I was overwhelmed
in an amazing grace.

God said to me,
"don't be worry, child.
you've been here before.
it's just been a while."

I looked on my back,
where I found wings.
I felt a halo
and clouds under my feet.

With me, when I looked,
were my friends by my side.
That man sent us here,
but I"m alright.

Maybe he was sick,
maybe he was crazy.
Maybe he hurt us
because he was hurting, maybe?

I watch the tears
all over the country.
Over the few years
their pain because of me.

I watched my family
break apart.
but they knew
I was in their hearts.

I don't know much,
but I know this;
my mommy should've never
had to bury her own kid.

Although it's tough,
although it's hard
I think God would want us to forgive
the killer in our hearts.

What you don't know,
but what I'll tell you,
is I'm just fine.
in this heaven of mine.

Maybe this will teach you
to never regret a thing.
Be happy with what God gave you,
because you could've been me.

Now, maybe I was young,
maybe I didn't deserve it.
But maybe I taught a lesson,
now please...learn it.

Love with everything,
always smile a lot.
Remember this lesson,
that I taught.

Wipe the tears,
enjoy the years.
Time goes by fast,
you don't know which day is your last.

Pray for my family,
for my friend's family, too.
I'm sure they'll be grateful,
and thankful to you.

I'm an angel,
all brand new.
I came up here
this afternoon.

I would be 6 years old,
but God has a plan.
Remember this feeling of distraught,
remember this lesson that I taught.

Written by J.J. 12/14/12
Edited by S.Z. 12/14/12

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

What Kind of Person are You?

There are tons of articles about what makes you a certain kind of runner.  I think you can learn a lot about the kind of person you are by the way you run.  I think this is particularly true if you look at the way people run hills.  Using this carefully crafted hypothesis, that I have been developing the entire time it took my windows PC to boot, just so you know it is well thought out, you have uphill runners, downhill runners and flat runners.

First you have uphill runners, I will raise my hand and admit "I am an uphill runner."  Even running this morning with my husband, he does what he always does on the narrow sidewalk to home that is straight uphill.  He slides behind me relinquishes the front spot and says "you go first, I know you like the hills."  It is true.  I see a hill and I know, because every article and running book I have ever even glanced at says, I should slow down.  I can't help it.  I see it and my feet just automatically take off.  I am flying up the hill with all the effort and determination that sounds like it might take.  What does that say about me.  Embarrassingly quite a bit actually.  In this hypothesis, uphill runners would share a few common characteristics like a love of making things more challenging. I have to say I am that girl.  If someone suggests I take on a project I like to, not only say yes, I like to play some weird version of the Name that Tune game where they had to guess a song by betting how few notes.  "Kathy would you take over that report?"  Before I even realize it I am saying "yes, but I think the way we have done the report in the past does not go back far enough and review original data points and aggregate the change coefficient adequately.  Would it be okay if I did the report and studied all the past reports and compiled that data into a historical review and then completely redesigned the process to make sure we are capturing as much information as possible?"  I can Name that tune in 1 note!  See for the uphill runner it is not enough to get up the hill or finish the project, you have to leave a little bit of yourself.  You have to give until it hurts, I like to use the term skin in the game.  Pushing to the outer limit is how we roll.

Now the downhill runner they are the coasters, both on the course and through life.  Where the uphill runner is in the woods trying to beat the brush down and create a brand new path and and have all the cuts and bruises to prove it.  The down hill runner took the marked path that landed right at the State Park Lobby Bar.  They read the map and realized the red trail had no hills and was full mile shorter.  They find the uphill person in their office and ask if they want to do the annual report, because it will be a great opportunity.  I personally envy the easy breezy downhill type.  I am as far from it as they come.  Even when I run.  When I run down hill my husband always asks "are you all right?  Your face looks weird! Why are you running like that?"  I always think why does this feel so easy I must be doing something wrong.  So I tense up and "look like that."

Lastly you find my husband, the flat runner.  I noticed this about him when I saw him running a flat stretch by our home yesterday as I drove home.  He was flying along on the road just one with himself and at peace.  He was enjoying the pride of a run, but without the need to actually inflict pain in order to feel like he was accomplishing things.  This is the nature of my husband.  He is a hard worker, but he does not make everything he does a blood sport, like his wife.  He finds the efficient and direct route.  He makes rational and reasonable decisions.  He says yes to the project, works hard, but does not have to revamp the entire process.  He is in for the long haul and he knows how to conserve his strength.  When the hills come he is able to modulate and meet challenges and he is able to coast and enjoy vacation and down time.  I admire that.  I hope to one day find myself on the flat road.  Maybe if I keep running with him.  For now I'll fall back on flat and watch him surge ahead and he will fall back on the hill and be ready with water or CPR when I get up there.  Maybe that is what makes it work.  What does the way you run say about you?

Monday, December 10, 2012


This morning my cats were going rogue.  Running around jumping each other, smacking the fat slow ones in the head and generally causing the ruckus that one might expect living with six opinionated little cats.  I was about to tell each of them how much they will be enjoying their trip to the humane society, and how if I was them I would start grooming now to make their best impression, when I thought how many people I know recently lost a beloved pet. 

So instead I gave them Temptations and considered temporarily drugging them with catnip.  This time of year people always recognize those who have lost someone special (parent, spouse, child, or any human loved one).  But just briefly I wanted to say I am sorry if the loved one you miss is of the four legged variety.  We know.  We have loved and shared our lives with many feline family members.  I miss each and everyone of them; their deaths were a real loss and caused us real pain.  I miss everything that made each of them unique, and for those without pets you may not know but every one is unique. So in honor of the cats we loved and for my friends missing their family members I remember our beloved babies that have past on.

Avery I remember your bravery and how you protected me when Daddy worked out of town.
Taz I remember how you could play ping pong even when you were 28 pounds.
Kali I remember your sense of humor and the way you loved laying under the Christmas tree.
Alex I remember how difficult you were, but mostly I still feel your eloquent body draped over my side at night.
Cammie I remember your spirit and your mischievous stealing, and of course Daddy remembers your soccer playing prowess.
Elspeth I remember the little monkey who could get anywhere and your passion for veggies that I never understood.
Baby I remember you as Daddy's girl and that soft white coat.
Jasmine I remember the "circle" and the way you purred and chatted with excitement when we came home.

You made our house a home.  When you passed on you left a void and you made room for some new cats to go rogue and be loved.  Even if they did all not know you: Frankie, Mo, Georgia, Pablo, Jazzy, Lena, and of course Mommy and Daddy always love you!  We miss you.  Hoping where ever you are there is a giant cat nip Christmas Party like we used to have.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

What is Improvement?

So on November 14, 2012,  I started the Runner's World Holiday Running Streak.  I am on Day 26.  I have to tell you I expected to be mainlining Ibuprofen at this point.  In spite of my outward 'I got this' bravado I was pretty sure I wasn't the kind of runner that could really pull this off with out the assistance of some major medical intervention.  I had tried, at my husband's urging, to do a month long streak to begin last year.  At that time I had only been intermittently running since March of 2011 and only regularly running since October of 2011.  Needless to say January was a month I would rather forget.

In the last 6 months or so running shifted from "I have to do it because it makes my relationship stronger and I am middle aged now and need to kick up the cardio to maintain a semi-decent appearance" to something I love.  Running is now something I move things around for and change plans to accommodate.  When did that happen?  Well for another day.  The point is I had noticed improvements: better PRs, running longer distances without effort, normal training pace was quicker.  I guess I had not put them all together until I started the Holiday Running Streak. 

When I put on Daily Mile I was going to do this, it was a way to hold myself accountable.  I also got a lot of feedback like "good luck, but I need a rest day."  When I read that I immediately thought, "Yeah, me too.  What am I doing?"  Oh well I was ready for the pain and sacrifice.  What I actually found is I haven't been in pain and my desire to run, which I naturally assumed would decrease because now I had to run, actually increased.  I am now a runner who can run for days on end and get up at the crack of dawn and fit in my run.  Feels good.  As to the question my husband asked today, "hey, are you going to continue your streak after the New Year?"  I have 4 weeks to decide.  I need to find out how much Advil we have first. 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Running and The Holidays

Today we went to our running store for a group run and holiday party.  It is the time of year that, tell the truth ladies, we dread.  The holidays full of warmth friendship, cheer, Peace on Earth, and goodwill.  Right! As long as you are a child or a man, that is absolutely true.  If you happen to be a woman it is actually the season of: baking until midnights, covered dishes, crowded lines, parties you never wanted to go to, let alone plan and organize, fights over the last new and improved Furby, shoes that crush your feet, but match your red sequined holiday dress, endless greetings, Christmas cards, family animosity, and a total lack of gratitude for what effort it took to bring this magical season to life for all the people in your life who matter most. 

Hey but who is complaining? I mean after all, I am happy to be a woman and enjoy all of the perks that come with it.  Having random strangers open the door for you, having men at work carry heavy boxes, have someone cut your grass, have gallant men take down the oil from the top shelf in the grocery store, and the ability to order your husband to untangle the Christmas lights because "well it is that time of the month, you still haven't found a gift for his mother, and does he really want to go there."   It is not like being a woman has nothing positive to offer.  In fact today, at our female owned running store, hubby was lamenting that all the clothes on sale were for women. 

I have a theory, actually.  One I am currently testing.  I think that the women's running clothes are on sale now because this is the season we need running more than any other.  I joined the RW running streak for just this reason.  Every holiday I find myself one angry, walking, talking to do list.  I am just moving from task to task checking boxes and noting nothing.  Today is day 24 of my running streak and I have to say I feel less overwhelmed, even as Christmas closes in around me.  I have a sound plan and I feel calm and energetic.  What major changes have I made, just running everyday.  When I get up in the morning and it is crisp and cool, it feels most like the holidays. I get to run around my little neighborhood and take in the Christmas decorations and the stars.  It is a moment of quiet reflection.  It has been a good time to think about the fact that really the holidays are a time to enjoy who is in your life and not worry about filling it with stuff and packing every moment with experiences.  It would be hard to find an experience that beats the reverence of that quiet early morning run among the cold air, stars, and Christmas lights. 

Don't get me wrong.  I am still organizing the family gift exchange, still baking all the cookies, and of course buying all the wine (can't leave that to chance when spending quality time with the family).  This time I have a moment everyday of reverence, a place to breathe in the now that is my life: a job I love, a small group of caring friends, the most amazing husband, 6 crazy feline family members, and my husband's and my extended families all for the most part healthy, safe and happy.   Enjoy the holidays: it is okay you deserve to have a good time too.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday - Just in Time Musings on the week

This has been the longest week, but I am proud of myself because I pushed through and kept up with my running streak for the holidays.  Today was tough!  When I saw it was 4:30 and time to get up I was like, really? 

That is why I lay my clothes out in the bathroom so they look at me first thing in the morning and guilt me into putting them on.  Once the clothes are on what are you going to do just get back in bed in your good running clothes?  It hardly seems appropriate to make breakfast in them, so off to get my shoes and start my morning off right.  What is the saying?  "You only regret the run you did not take."  It was true.  Got out there and felt good as soon as I hit the pavement.  I know I thought of killing fewer people today because of that run.

Yesterday spent the day in scenic Macon about 2 hours South of Atlanta.  I am on a road show teaching utility professionals how to complete the newly mandated Distribution System Water Audits.  It was a long and frustrating day.  The class went great.  The providers are really into it.  Would you assume a water plant would have electricity all the time?  Well yesterday you would have been wrong.  We kept losing power and telling our students we had a great slide here.  "Close your eyes and imagine."  It was ridiculous.  Then of course we head into downtown ATL at 5:15 PM.  Anyone familiar with Atlanta knows exactly what that means.  So Macon was 2 hours away at 5 AM and it was 4 and 1/2 hours away at 5 PM.  That is just the way of ATL traffic.

Then I have to stop and get one item at the CVS drug store.  One item!  The person in front of me has their "Extreme Couponing Binder!"  I was like really, today?

Then I get to the office today and I have a stack of issues on my desk, everyone a disgruntled customer and notes from various staff.  Can you handle?  We don't know what to tell them.  I got to spend 8 hours explaining the various reasons behind "our ridiculous bureaucratic policies, highway robbery water rates, and total staff incompetence."  This afternoon I am scheduled to finally get the wild mane tamed with a trim and herd thinning.  Can't wait.  It will no doubt be one of the best thing that happened all week. 

The other two were my new Skechers Go Run shoes, and hubby and I broke down and invested in a deal that was featured on Runblogger.  See pic below.  Now when we open the door to our laundry room it is like you hear a choir "awww" and see light streaming out like in one of those resurrection movies.  There are all our running shoes! 

Here's hoping everyone had a better week than me.  Most important in two weeks hubby and I will be taking  a two week vacation for the holidays!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Good Things and New Shoes

Today was a good day.  I came home early from a dear friend's retirement party. She was lauded by many for her dedication to water and a long career in public service.  I was one of the fortunate people who was asked to say a few a words about her.  When the event was over I went to say good-bye to her and she squeezed my hand and said "what you said, really?  You really felt that way?"  I immediately said "of course.  How could you not know that?"  Then I realized maybe she did not know it because in all the many conversations we had and meaningless chit chat about nothing...Um, I never told her.  Today I got to tell her in front of about 200 of her co-workers, her grown daughters, and her husband.  I am grateful I got that chance.  If I hadn't been asked to speak maybe she would have left today and thought Kathy was fun to work with, but she never would have known how she shaped life and my career and how I value her as friend.  If you have those people, we need to be more vigilant in telling them.  Guess what?  They aren't mind readers after all.

So following that I came home and last week's cyber Monday purchase was on my door step.  Brand new Skechers Go Run Shoes!

Today was supposed to be my 1 mile rest day on my running streak, but you see the new shoes right?  So we all know that did not happen.  Home early, new shoes, the universe is saying "take them out for a test drive."  I don't know what it is about new shoes but when you get them on you have to test them out.   Might have gone a little crazy.  Last mile under 9 minutes and the last 1/4 mile under 7  minutes.  Today was supposed to be a rest day.  Oh well we can rest tomorrow.  Did I mention that it is December 4th and it is 75 degrees out?  Who can resist that?

Of course there is no such thing as me or my husband getting something new.  Anything new that comes in is now part of the cat cooperative that calls our home mission control.  Jazzy was particularly intrigued with my post run new shoes.

To be fair Jazzy is obsessed with all my post run clothes and shoes.  Unlike hubby, Jazzy loves how I smell after run!  Now that is true love.  I enjoyed the Go Runs and they are particularly good for someone like me who is always a forefoot striker. 

Hope everyone is having a wonderful day!  Who do you need to tell how much they mean to you?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lessons Learned about Marriage

Marriage is one of those great teachers that you will have in life.  At first you meet them and you think "why does this bleep have it out for me?  I never did anything to her."  At first marriage feels a little like that.  But you have to hang in there.  Remember when you finally got your yearbook at the end of the school year, it was that teacher you went to first to sign your book.   You wanted to see what words of wisdom they had and you wanted to see if they thought you lived up to their expectations.  Marriage is like that once you get through that first couple of "classes" and realize it is  only pushing you because it knows that you better as part of this couple than you are alone.  Once you surrender to that and embrace the lessons marriage can turn out to actually be a great way to spend a lifetime.  I know it has been for me so far.
Lessons I Learned about  Marriage
1) Some things are worth fighting for those include: making sure you don't lose yourself to someone's idea of who you should be, your own feelings,  your self-respect, your morals, and your dignity.
2) A lot fewer things are worth fighting for than you think.  Some of those: what he wears, where you vacation, who folds laundry, who feeds the cat, who sweeps the floor, who forgot to call and say they were late.  You get the idea and the painful memories of the times you forgot this wasn't worth the fight.
3) Compromise when the issue is more important to your partner than it is to you. 
4) Have a sense of humor.  If you don't laugh at the same things try to find the humor in what they think is funny.  A lifetime goes by a lot easier with a side of laughter.
5) Sometimes it is not about you.  They get to have bad days, be sick, lose jobs, hate parents, lose loved ones, and you get to play the supportive strong shoulder for them to lean on.  Do it for them they will do it for you.
6) It is not a sporting event, don't keep score.  Do for each other with an open and happy heart and everything balances out in the end.
7) Sometimes it is just about the sponge.  This was the wise advice my best friend gave me right after my husband and I got married.  We were having a heated argument over whether to use a sponge or not, husband believing it was full of germs, me saying it was fine.  I was certainly not going to put him in harms way or doing anything unsafe.  My best friend at the time called in the middle of the argument.  I am fairly dramatic by nature, this was no exception.  I am explaining the argument and as embarrassing as this will be I said something like, "See this is why I never wanted to get married.  This is the beginning of the subjugation that I worried about."  My best friend took less than a second to pass on this wise advice "I think it might just be about the sponge and him being creeped out and not a statement on the subordinate role of women in society."  It is moments like that where you actually have to hear someone say something back to you before you realize how really out of hand not heeding lesson 2 can get.
8) Never use "never, always, every time" when you are discussing something.  Really?  Who has that kind of consistency, even when they are pissing you off?  Avoid hyperbole.  Deal with the issue that is currently pissing you off.
9) Share something you both love.  That way while everything else is growing and changing in your world you have something you can grow and change together.
Marriage is an ultra-marathon, but though there are some tough hills there are some sweet flat stretches and some nice areas to coast downhill.  Also the scenery is beautiful and you always get to run it with someone you love.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Recognition...or Self Satisfaction

This is my husband Dung, as some of you may recognize when I take his picture while running he automatically assumes the pose of Superman.  Well today was his big day.  The close of the Atlanta Track Club Season.  My husband was one of 13 people out 19,000 members who completed the full Grand Prix Running Series, 14 races.  The day had a fun 1 mile prediction run that I have to admit I blew our chances to win.  My husband had carefully planned a 9:30 finish and I had repeatedly promised to let him pace.  Of course we got out there, I saw other runners I was feeling good, I wanted to pass them, we finished :22 seconds too fast.  I am still in the process of making it up to him.

It was a great day; the 1 mile was followed by a breakfast and informal awards ceremony where ATC thanked members and volunteers.  They recognized achievements like age group winners and point leaders, dedicated volunteers and "Energizer Bunny" runners like my husband.  Following that we went over to the Atlanta Beltline to get a real run in and ran the 10-K course an hour before the official race.  This was great because we could then watch the racers and cheer those folks on like others have done for us.

All of this was great and then we get back home and we always like to visit ATC on their Facebook Page and either thank the volunteers or staff or see how everyone felt about the event or race.  That is when we saw several folks who were recognized at the event in a couple of ways, but apparently not the way they wanted.  The Facebook page wasn't full of great job, or enjoyed the day.  It was full of complaints that they should have received a plaque or should have been called out and recognized for their volunteer efforts.  It may be true that ATC might have missed thanking someone. They did repeatedly thank all volunteers and all members for making the club a success.  I should mention they also have 12,000 volunteers.  I guess I really question 2 things.  If you have been a satisfied member of the club and a dedicated runner and volunteer why wouldn't you just contact ATC in private and not splash it all over the Facebook Page for all too see?  I can only guess the idea was to embarrass ATC,  really acts like this only result in embarrassing the people who do them. 

Lastly, I have a bigger question.  If you are so upset that your volunteer efforts went unheralded are you volunteering for the right reason?  The reward in volunteering is selflessly helping someone else by using a skill or resource you have to help someone or something improve.  Isn't the self satisfaction of knowing you helped someone find their love of running enough?

I know what I am talking about because I am a volunteer, not with Atlanta Track Club.  I prefer to do all of my volunteering in my professional field of water.  Believe me or ask anyone I know I love to volunteer.  I spend after hour time and weekends working on these projects and activities and I have never once thought when a fellow volunteer was recognized or I did not receive a special thanks: "what is wrong with them?  Don't they know how much I did?"  Instead I know they know what I do, because they keep asking me to help.  The satisfaction of knowing I helped further my profession seems to fill any need I have to be singled out.  Why do you volunteer?  Is the payoff  someone will give you an award...or that someone you helped will be recognized for their achievement.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Reasons to Love Running in the Cold

To be fair I am hardly an expert on cold and this is probably a pretty disingenuous post if you live anywhere above that much maligned Mason Dixon Line.  Who do I think I am? I live in Georgia and I post "reasons to love running in the cold."  Let me clarify.  Cold, like running, is a wholly individual experience to each person.  Ask someone from Tampa when they pull out the sweaters and they will say 75.  To be fair we have seen snow a few times in the 30 or so years I have lived here.  Probably would not run out of fingers counting those, given the good fortune to still possess all 10 of mine.  Cold weather, and let's go all out inclement weather, is more fun here.  I mean they don't name every snow or ice storm in Pennsylvania.  Not true in Atlanta.  Did you live through Snow Jam 1993?    Anyway, cold being highly interpretive, I enjoy the relief from the oppressive heat and unbelievable humidity that marks summer in the south.  Also for the record the whole thing about thinning blood is an absolute scientific fact so what is 50 to you may well be 37 to a long time resident of the south.

Why I Love Running in the Cold

1) Long sleeves and running tights means my nearly translucent Irish skin is fully covered.  No reason to explain that it is not a white reflecting body suit shining off the headlights in the morning: just my skin.
2) Compression gear.  It compresses, I am a woman, enough said.
3) Breathing, you totally undervalue this skill until May in Atlanta.  Then you really miss it until around October. 
4) Finally being able to sit through a meeting without having to run to the bathroom every 5 minutes.  There is hydrating for everyday running in the cold.  Then there is hydrating, as a survival skill so your post work 3 miler isn't actually the last time you will ever speak to your husband, even though the humidity dropped to just below 155%. 
5) Less people.  Let's face it a lot of folks are wimping it out on their treadmills.  Come on toughen up.
6) Running faster.  I need to rev my metabolism to warm my body up so I got to kick it up a notch. Plus see breathing above.  It turns out, if you can breathe you can actually run faster. File that under learn something new everyday.
7) Cold weather happens to coincide with the holidays and holiday eating so if I want to continue to look like this I better love running in the cold.  Among great philosophical questions should be: "Would I rather run in the cold or run fat?"  No need to ask right, Ladies?  That's why they make winter running clothes so cute.
9) I sweat less.  If this does not seem like a big deal, then you do not sweat like I do.  In fact in the winter my husband does not even run away from me when I come in from my run yelling "take a shower!"  And rarely has to pick up my running clothes with tongs.
8) This one is very important! Apparently cold helps you age more slowly.  So I could be warm on my treadmill but looking 10 years older or I could put on my cute winter running clothes and give myself nature's free botox. 

Hopefully all of this reminds you why you need to lace up and head out into the "spa" provider by old man winter.  That name is kind of ironic, huh?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

When did you first say...I'm a Runner

To people who don't run it seems like a stupid concept.  If you run... you are a runner.  Ever owned and laced up a pair of running shoes and taken them for a spin around your neighborhood?  Voila! You're a runner.  Ask the question of helpful runners every where and they will say "the first time you run you are a runner."  Intellectually all of that may make sense. 

Relative newbies to the sport  know the truth that lurks just below that surface.  Other people will call you a runner long before you claim that title for yourself.  I know.  Last year I was in a meeting planning a race for water at work and several people around the table were asking me questions.  So that seemed like as good a time as any to stop reading my e-mail on my phone and pay attention.  As I tuned back in, I caught "ask Kathy, she's a runner."  At first I scanned the room looking for the other Kathy, the one that would be in infinitely better shape than me because clearly she was a runner.  Then I realized I knew everyone in the room and I was the only Kathy.  "Oh, I'm not a runner," I quickly corrected.  Also an unwritten rule, you need to do this fairly quickly and adamantly before the Running Gods who control all running hear this and think you are being way too cocky and suddenly on your next recreational outing you twist your ankle on that meter box that lazy water company never fixed.  Sorry long day of "satisfied" customers at work. Anyway the rest of the meeting was spent grilling me on number of days I run, how many races, membership in Atlanta Track Club.  All of this mind you to sway me into believing I had somehow morphed from someone who detested the idea of running to a runner.  I can assure you if the Running Gods are reading this I in no way took the bait.

Since in previous posts I have identified myself as a runner there must have been a turning point.  You may imagine a run where like in a movie, or Ryan Hall IPod ad, the road gives way to a meadow and there are beams of light and the title of "runner" is bestowed upon you so you can rightfully claim it with no worry of being smote by a vengeful and judgemental force.  How fortunate for most of us that no one is more vengeful or judgemental of ourselves then,  It was nothing so miraculous or "ad" inspiring.  For me it was when I wanted to run more than I wanted to do something else so I made a decision and altered my schedule for "running."  For me it was the day I decided it is just too hot in Atlanta in the summer to run at 5:00PM so I decided to set my alarm and run at 4:30 AM.  This is now my habit, but 5 months ago it was a big step or let's face it a real commitment to the sport.  All the other things my friends listed, it wasn't that they weren't true.  They were.  I became a runner in my own mind when running was in my heart and I needed to do it because I loved it.  Hope you found your moment.  If not keep at it.  "I'm a runner" will slip out one day and you won't even look to the sky out of the corner of your eye!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Addiction Gets a Bad Rap

Today we have a way of categorizing everything.  I am pretty sure prior to say, the last 15 years or so we just called most of these things "life."  Or when something went wrong in "life" my very philosophical father would say "that's just tough apples."  I don't think people think like that anymore.  Nothing is tough apples.  I no longer see people  "walk it off."  When is the last time you saw a kid's soccer game where a kid comes running up crying and the parent says "rub some dirt on it."  Now we dissect everything. 

Nothing is just "life" everything is a syndrome, a complex, or at the very least a disorder.  That brings me to my point; I heard someone talking about Addictive Personality Disorder.  Really? They weren't talking about alcohol or drugs.  They were talking about exercise.  You show me someone who isn't addicted to something and I will show you someone with a complete lack of focus.  Don't get me wrong I am not condoning drug addiction, alcoholism, smoking,or the host of other unhealthy choices to which this "disorder" tethers us.  And I do believe the addiction to alcohol and drugs is a serious disease.  It is the concept of an addictive personality disorder, that labels everyone who seems to have an iron dedication to an activity like work or running or who uses it as an excuse not to stop doing something that is clearly not a biological compulsion like shopping.  Ask a known addict of one of these unhealthy addictions, that made it to the other side, and they will tell you they replaced an unhealthy addiction with a healthy one.  They did not cast spuriously aside the concept of addiction, but rather chose to work with it. 

Oddly enough if you have ever noticed, when you work in concert with an addiction to something healthier you are no longer addicted.  You are forming a habit.  I say give addiciton its due.  If it is to be blamed for all that is wrong and self-destructive, then it should receive the credit when one has a singular addictive focus that leads to greatness, say Michelangelo.  Not all addictions come in a one size fits all nor are all clearly addictive to the naked eye. 

I say pick your addictions to suit your personality and lifestyle.  For me running gives me the sense I suppose some find in church.  I feel centered and relaxed and I feel possibly stronger and better than I really am in the middle of those great runs.   Addiction has its place and diseases and disorders have their place.  I just question our desire to label everything that might actually just be "life."

Monday, November 26, 2012

What is it about New Shoes?

So today was Cyber Monday and I promised myself I would ignore the onslaught of e-mails beckoning me to spend my lunch hour browsing the specially selected, offers for Cyber Monday.  Imagine my surprise at the ability of the Internet to know more about my preferences in goods than my spouse and partner of 20 years.  To be fair he does not have the capability to track my cookies nor does he posses a binary code that deciphers my web history to discover gasp...I am a runner and have a predisposition to buy running gear, over say the latest microwave oven.  Frankly he would be happy if I just baked more cookies, no need to track them he would be the destination.

So I did as I planned; spent my lunch hour going to replenish the food source for our four legged children.  Sometimes proximity to your job, home, and errands is just the devil's workshop.  It was today.  The food fetching took only 30 minutes.  I know what you are asking yourself and the answer is of course I have work I could have been doing in that extra 30 minutes.  Sure I should have selflessly given that time to the Water System, but as a friend of mine pointed out as we roll into 5 years without a raise.  Those goals seem pretty ambitious, in fact they seem like the goals of someone getting a raise.  In fact if this trend continues, of increased insurance and retirement payouts, I might end up making less than when I was hired 2 promotions and 11 years ago.  Fingers crossed; I am secretly hoping to be the first person with a job that often requires 60 or more hours a week where I actually pay my employer.  I digress. 

So Needless to say, and sarcasm aside I did not donate my half hour.  Instead my mind turned to my sad and recently departed Saucony Kinvara 2's.  The upper finally gave up ripping across the top.  These were my recovery shoes.  I usually run in really minimal shoes with little to no cushioning.  If you are a runner you know that there is always that run you want to take, the one your feet and legs say you should not, but the road say "you know you want to, I won't tell."  For that run the Kinvaras had a forgiving cushion that let you run without guilt.  Still minimal, but it lessened the pounding and stress.   Since the passing of my Kinvaras I have loved my NB minimal shoes.  I am now doing a running streak for the holiday and I foresee a need for the cushion of an occasional recovery shoe. 

Like crack to an addict Cyber Monday offered no limit to options.  I was at first committed Kinvara has been good to you, a faithful friend, but like most runners newness and curiosity always wins out.  I found the Skecher Go Runs on Amazon for $40.00.  They are a 4 mm drop and force a mid foot landing.  I have been curious about these shoes and curiosity, a free half hour, established and well used Amazon Account, and discount prices have a new pair of Skecher's Go Runs winging their way to Smyrna.  They are black and wait for it...bright pink of course, my signature running color.  I hope they will be the place of refuge for my feet after long hard runs in my great very minimal shoes.  I will let you know how they are.  It is only since running that the idea of new running shoes is so reminiscent of the way I felt on Christmas morning as a kid.  It is not just tearing open the box.  It is the unique feel of the first run, the way the shoe feels and moves a brand new experience.  Well that is enough for now.  I have new shoes coming and I probably have some work I should have been doing at lunch.  I should work on that while I still make enough for new running shoes.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Why Run?

So there are a lot of things we can spend our time doing: watching TV, eating, hanging out with friends, enjoying the heat we pay for and all the modern conveniences of a home, but still a portion of us lace up our shoes pull on our winter running gear and head out the door to run. 
So why do a portion of us ignore all common sense that says there is left over turkey, a good book, a blanket, a purring cat, heat, and some very nice Merlot all saying you should hang out here for the day? Instead we say but today is day 11 of my holiday running streak or well today is Saturday and I always run on Saturday even when all common sense should be echoing back: why?  

I tried to be one of those reasons for about two years. I fought my husband every morning he slipped out of our warm bed and put on a pair of the shoes he loves so much more than me, though he won't admit it. I could not understand the pull that running had over, what seems to so many, a more attractive choice.

Then I became a runner and I admit there might still be days when I am still in the warm house looking at the cat who is cocking his head just slightly in the judgemental way that says "hey do you know it is 22 degrees out there and 70 degrees in here.  Plus we get canned food this morning."  It is also fair to tell you, this runner at least, only thinks that while still in the house.  Once I am out the door and my running partner, my music, or that cool outfit I bought just for this weather beckons I forget all about that smug cat and start doing what I do.

All of that said does not really answer why.  I think the unique thing about runners is the answer to that is "it all depends on the runner."  I don't know what drives my husband to run everyday and be closing in on a two year running streak, especially when in that two years I have seen him in tremendous pain from injury and still get out to do his mile or even more impressive run a race.  I guess the question is why do I run?

Because no one thought I could, especially me.  I feel incredibly strong when I run and I feel like I can accomplish things I did not think I could, like say: running.

I would say even if your thing isn't running you have to have a thing.  Something that makes you ignore the cat and get out the door and feel like you accomplished what you and everyone else thought you could not do.  Find it and be like my husband; fight the pain and inertia and just get out and do it.  I am trying to be more like that and it is not as hard as my cat thought it would be.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Blue Friday

While everyone rushed to the mall today and enjoyed "Black Friday" and a day off, most people probably recognized that retail workers were busy at work and police and fire never get a day off.  Maybe yesterday while giving thanks we may even have thought of those folks.  The employees of Wal-Mart have certainly been in the news as not getting to enjoy the holiday, and I can't disagree.  But as I enjoyed a day off with family and friends, I said a silent thank you to an often overlooked group of people who also operate 24/7 rain, snow, sleet, hurricane, super storm, drought, or flood.  It is not the post office.  It is the water and wastewater operators that made sure your holiday was free from any considerations when you visited the restroom during your festivities or stopped to get a refreshing drink from the water fountain at the mall.

These folks don't spend the holidays with their families, in fact many of them spend the day doing something you would not imagine doing, even on a regular work day.  They do it because they know one simple truth.  The lifestyle we depend upon, and the beautiful resources we know that improve our neighborhoods and make a place a home, and not a geographic location, need to be manned and protected even as most of the country stops to celebrate holiday.  So as we begin to close the books on another Thanksgiving and you think of those Wal-Mart workers who are just now making their tired way to their cars, also think about the water and wastewater professionals, who spent the holiday season making sure you never had to give water and sanitation a second thought.  I often ask folks when I am talking about the industry and representing my utility: have you called up the water system to thank them for delivering clean drinking water and providing safe sanitation?  It may seem like a small thing, but I promise you when people say a developed country and an undeveloped country they could just as easily be talking about the state of their water and wastewater infrastructure.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Crossing 1,000 Miles

As 10s of thousands of Atlantans got out to Gobble Jog, Turkey Trot, and get their Thanksgiving Half Marathon on this AM at the crack of the holiday morning, Hubby and I joined the host of amateurs out deciding that a day dedicated to gratitude and gluttony in equal portions, is also the day they will lace up those brand new "tennis shoes" and get moving. 

The Silver Comet was jam packed with folks sparkling with the new found optimism that this purposeful walk, arms at full swing, is the first step to embarking on a healthier lifestyle.  He and I were doing our own Happy Thanksgiving 5-K and my personal odometer was rolling over the 1,000 mile marker.  Yeah me and thanks running shoes!

Today Dung and I were shoe twins.  We both have a pair of minimal NB 730's they are both super comfortable and super affordable.  It is fun to wear the same thing as my husband since that is his pet peeve...couples who dress alike.  I can't help but point out that no one could ever tell they are the same shoes unless he starts where bright pink running shoes and he cuts off half his foot.  My foot is so small my running store has to special order every time I buy a new pair. 
Today is officially Thanksgiving and we have officially run and are now ready to descend on my sister's house and enjoy turkey and all the trimmings and of course the wine that will make dinner with my family more of a holiday experience.  I always volunteer to bring the wine. 
I already told you I am most thankful for hubby.  No way I would have crossed the 1,000 mile marker without him.  We also have six family members that share our home and our heart.  I am so grateful they are healthy and happy. 
Jazzy and Lena
Happy Thanksgiving.  Hope everyone is spending it with someone they love!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude is an Attitude

Thanksgiving is almost here.  My assistant at work was discussing how disheartened she is about Christmas taking over Thanksgiving.  She was saying it is a perfect holiday.  What other day is designed so you can eat and sit around and watch TV all day without any guilt.  I never thought of it that way, but she has a point.  Of course I won't be sitting around eating and watching TV until I have earned it by running with my hubby tomorrow.  Have to work for the dressing and gravy (my favorites).  Ties right in to my passion for bagels.  People who give up bread are seriously disturbed.  Anyway I think Thanksgiving is really designed for us to slow down take a breath and for one unamerican second stop wishing we had what someone else has and be grateful for where we are right now.

Speaking of grateful for where we are...see what I am most grateful for:

This is my husband Dung.  The light makes him look like a super hero or something.  Well he may not be to everyone, but he is to me.  Also he is a dedicated elementary school art teacher (where does he get the patience) and a great a runner which should be obvious from the picture.  Today we both had the day off.  Even though it is nearly December it was one of those 70 degree days that keep driving folks to live in the South.  We headed out about 40 miles from home to run the Big Creek Greenway and then play at Fowler Park.  I am grateful for my super hero hubby and for the ability to bang out 7 miles in beautiful weather along an area of protected wetlands. I am a water geek by profession so that kind of thing always makes a run even better.

I wish I looked like my hubby when we stopped 5 miles in to take this picture, but again I am not quite the skilled runner he is.  Also I was more interested in capturing the beautiful wetland than my 5 mile sweaty self!

See how I get him to take in the whole scene to make me look really small.  It really is a beautiful fun place to run.  It was not that busy so it almost felt like we had the whole place to ourselves.

What else am I grateful for:

My 6 cats, even though today they were out of control and I drugged them with catnip (totally legal)
My job in water because even when I want to quit (like yesterday).  I know what I do everyday makes a difference and no one can really ask for more.
My relatively quiet and calm life (also again a shout to the hubby for being instrumental in that).  All I really wanted growing up was a relatively stable, quiet and drama-free life and I think we have achieved that.
My sense of humor (I left off my modesty but that seemed too obvious).
Good food
Good wine
Great music
Great books
Traveling with my husband
Everyday, even the tough ones (remember that tomorrow many of us are spending the day with our families). I will be rereading this list before I go.

Happy Thanksgiving...enjoy a day sitting around watching TV and eating after your morning exercise.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hug Your Toilet!

I don't mean that the way we used to when we were in college and partying.  Today is World Toilet Day!  The toilet, so simple, so necessary, so neglected.  What has saved more lives than any other invention...the toilet.  Yes it has brought sanitation and public health to nearly 2/3's of the World.  Sadly today is a day to celebrate how far we have come and take note of how far we have to go.

Though we have the luxury to flush our not only functioning toilets.  They are sophisticatedly designed, match our decorating scheme, come with heated seats, auto closing lids, and  the capacity to be ultra high efficiency toilets using less than a gallon a flush.  In the rest of the world there are 2.6 billion people who don't have access to this modern day miracle.  In fact they have no access to safe and consistent sanitation. 

What is the big deal?  It is only a toilet.  Oh if only it were just a toilet.  Ask a 13 year old girl in Pakistan what a toilet is and she will tell you it is an education.  Girls' educations are ended once they become "mature" and have no facilties for maintaining feminine hygiene.  It is a lower infant mortality rate in India because the rivers they bathe in, wash clothes in, clean livestock in, and draw their cooking water from would not also be the waterway by which they convey waste away from their homes.

Everyday 5-10 times a day mindlessly we flush away waste.  We don't ask where it goes.  We don't take time to marvel at the sophisticated wastewater system that cleans that water pristine enough to be returned to the environment or in some water stressed areas cleaned well enough to drink.

Every day in the world the number one killer is water borne disease.  Every 24 seconds a child dies from lack of access that we take for granted.  Unless we are asking why we have to pay so much for water and sewer service. How many children died while you read this?

Just once on World Toilet Day when you flush it and forget it think about how lucky you are.  If this meant anything to you and you feel grateful for all that our sophisticated water and sanitation systems afford us...hug a toilet!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Random Thoughts on Running and Women

I have to admit I am not a professional runner.  I don't break the tape as the first woman in the races I run and I am relatively new to the sport.  Soon to cross 1,000 miles a secret milestone I have coveted since I got serious about running this year.  My husband would laugh because prior to 20 months ago when he asked me to run with him my usual answer was "why would I one is chasing me."  Then I realized as a 41 year old woman at the time something not someone was chasing me...middle age. 

You can convince yourself with the best hair dye and most expensive eye cream that you will be young forever.  But the reality is what you see in the mirror everyday is Newton's dream come true... living proof gravity exists and it is a cruel mistress.  So it is fully armed with awareness that as a birthday present to my husband I slogged and silently prayed my way through my first 5-k in March of 2011.  All the way saying "hope you enjoy this because I am never running again" adamantly stated by a soon to be Atlanta Track Club member who now springs out of bed on the Saturday of a race and waits patiently for the family runner to get ready to join me. 

All of this running has taught me that running is different for women and there are a few universal truths in such an individual sport.

1) A female runner's best friend is a good sports bra.  It is also the best friend of everyone who has ever watched a female runner without a good sports bra.
2) When you run a certain number of miles a week you should get a pass and be allowed to wear running tights to work.  I mean you earned those glutes, thighs, and calves and it hardly seems fair that all that work has to be kept hidden.
3) Body glide is never too expensive.
4) You are running for something or from something.  Women, unlike men, never do anything for no reason at all.
5) No matter what it is it will taste better after a run.  For me that would be a bagel. 
6) You can't out run middle age.

But after almost 2 years nearly 1,000 miles I do feel like I wink at Newton and say not quite yet. Have you seen me in my running tights?

Saturday, November 17, 2012


So today my husband convinced me I too can run everyday, at least through New Years.  I have now signed up for The Runner's World Holiday Running Streak.  For me that is equal to signing a blood oath.  Once I have committed to something I will actually have to die or be forcibly restrained in order not to finish that commitment.  I have some self-discipline and control issues, but hey nobody is perfect.

I also thought this was a good time to start a new blog.  I had an old blog but I decided I never used it because I never really committed to it.  This blog will be a little more flexible and kind of deal with my actual life which is like everyone else's life, constantly in flux.

It is really a journal for me and hopefully a way that I can say what I want here instead of inappropriately saying it out loud at a meeting or something like that. Not that I have ever done that.  Well actually it might also be a fault I have sometimes.  You know the phrase call a spade a spade well my adapatation would be more like call an idiot and idiot.  Not always the best policy.  Sometimes on this blog I will be highlighting the peak of idiocy.  I also hope to share thoughts on things that are very imprtant to me: running, water, books, travel, my hubby and my cats.  A small world but I have learned if you value everything you actual devalue everything.  Sounds deep huh?  No, just lazy!