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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Running Sucks until it Doesn't

So this week in running was probably a lot like yours.  I loved it on Monday, made myself on Tuesday, enjoyed it Wednesday, vowed to quit Thursday, reconsidered Friday, and met a new friend while out today!  That is why running sucks, until it doesn't.  It is always there for you, only sometimes it is there for you like a nagging zit you can't rid of, or a hemorrhoid ( a very real pain in the $#$).  This was an up and down week.  That happens, the further you get into a streak, oh yeah until it doesn't, because the streak has made routine running...well routine.  The consistent inconsistency of running is one of the things that keeps me coming back. 

Thursday my run just sucked.  I knew it would the minute I got up at 4:30.  My legs were heavy, I had eaten like crap Tuesday and Wednesday and I had this very weird, pretty painful toe cramp.  As I moved into the run, add GI issues and I was pretty sure I had put up my running shoes for the last time.  Except that out of habit I put mine up and pulled out the pair for Friday's run to set them out.  Mind you I don't want to seem uncommitted to quitting.  I put them in the bathroom but I made little snarky comments to them the whole time I got ready.  I just wanted them to know, just because they were out, was no guarantee I would put them on Friday.  I mean I am in charge here. 

Well, Friday came, tired legs rested and cramp went away, as they do.  I had concentrated on making nutritious, light high on veggie meals.  You know back on the wagon.  Friday those shoes were right; we went for a run and lo and behold it was fun again.  Friday afternoon I even made myself go to the gym to get in my third strength training workout of the week.  Even though I drove 1/2 way home before looking at my gym bag on the seat of the car, feeling guilty and turning back around.

Today something really cool happened.  Hubby is sidelined still with injuries he received in a highly competitive elementary school teacher kickball tournament.  You may laugh, but my husband's team plays kickball like they think they are in Brazil playing for the World Cup.  Three of the four men on the team ended up injured, but they won their region and the championship!  All worth it; I am sure.  So I am still on my own as he has exiled himself to a mile a day slow run to maintain his streak until his injury is rehabbed.  I went down to Silver Comet for a four miler today.  I was about 2.5 miles in when I heard a guy say "hey nice pace you got going" (around 8:30 mile).  "I need to run that pace can I join you?"  Voila!  The other thing about running, it bonds you to relative strangers.  Sure why not.  He was running further, but I told him I had 1.5 to go and he could join me.  Turns out he worked at GA Tech, now retired, and worked with some folks I know in water resources.  What could be better?  Unexpected company, a beautiful day to run, and chatting about one of my favorite topics.  Ken quit smoking and started running.  We had a nice chat.  As I said "there's my stop," I shook his hand and thanked him for joining me.  He said look me up on Runner's World "Runner who stopped smoking."
I did.  How cool is that. 

Today I am grateful for the random things that happen to me because I run!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Can I do this or Am I crazy?

So there comes a point when you are streaking, and I still am streaking, entering a full 30 days of running everyday and adding some serious gym strength training...yeah I am bad.  Back to my point, where you lose perspective or shall I say gain a skewed perspective.  One that is something like, "If I am doing this; clearly I can do anything."  So while I am still in the glow of delusion brought on by tired legs and nagging abs, I am thinking of registering for not just my next half but my next two halves.  They are only two weeks apart. 

I am thinking of doing these two for very logical reasons, stick with me if you stopped reading after 2 halves. I have some very sound, almost engineer like, reasoning.  The race on October 25, 2014, is the Silver Comet Half.  I live off Silver Comet so I already anticipate less travel hassles than the Soldiers Half in Columbus, GA.  See nothing gets past me!  It is home turf, flat and I am hoping if I stay healthy and train hard it will be the half where I get my 2 hour time, missed by 59 seconds in Columbus.  That race makes a lot of sense.  I think you can see my reasoning. 

The second race is the Alien 13.1 in wait for it...Roswell, GA get it?  I want to do this race because it is still in metro Atlanta.  Still no travel, but it has a key component that ties back to my New Year's Resolution to push outside my boundaries.  The Alien takes place at 5:30 PM on November 8, 2014.  If you have ever read the blog then you will know I run at 4 AM normally.  Not because I am some crazy sadist, well maybe a little.  Ask me tomorrow when my alarm goes off, but because I am a morning person.  Yes one of those...bouncing into work greeting the day and dazed co-workers with  a sunny "Morning! how are you?" Complete with animated Snow White bluebirds on my shoulder. Now stop by my office after 3PM  and you are likely to meet my favorite dwarf, Grumpy.  If I had a poster like Garfield it would say "I Don't Do Afternoons."  The idea of running 13.1 miles at 5:30PM and still be running after 7 PM seems like someone just asked me to qualify for Boston. 

I am thinking I can do my goal race and run Alien just to survive.  No time goals.  Just experience the course and the atmosphere.  If I complete it without an ambulance being involved I will have stretched my boundaries so much that that may never look the same.  So I guess I am wondering am I crazy to target 2 halves 2 weeks apart?  Is my thinking reasonable? Now remember judge reasonable by the standards of a woman who gets up to run at 4 AM everyday.   So don't get too wrapped up in reason or sanity.

Today I am grateful for beautiful weather and a healthy body!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week In Review

So true, but this week was probably close to that except for the running all day part.  Sorry I was a blogging slacker this week, that's the epic fail part of the week.  But in breaking news, I managed to keep two current goals and work on one New Year's resolution. All this while traveling for a leadership retreat for a professional organization I volunteer with regularly.
So big news the streak continues.  In spite of nights spent having a little more fun than usual, who am I kidding?  A lot more fun than usual.  Not a surprise to regular readers I am not know for my carefree, wild side.  Definitely evenings that involved a lot more drinking, not drunk drinking, but more than my one glass of red with dinner.  I still managed to get my run in each day.  Admittedly, the overall mileage was less. We will consider that a break for the legs.  I also made the most of my gym membership and made it there Sunday, Tuesday, Friday, and was back today for full body strength training.  I have missed the gym; I have been excited to get back and even though it has only been a short while I can feel the benefit during my runs. I especially feel the core and it is really helping my running.  Not only that, if I keep up the gym and running I will look great at the family wedding coming up in July.  We have not seen his family in 5 years so it would be nice to go back looking like I have been working out. 

The resolution I worked on was stepping outside of my comfort zone.  I am actually pretty quiet and shy in my personal life.  My job is pretty out front and I do speak in public for a living, but I am actually pretty introverted. I enjoy exercising alone, hanging with my husband and cats, reading, and writing.  Normally when I travel for work I am so ready to go hibernate in my room, but because this was a retreat to build relationships and plan for the future of the organization I fought my instinct to dash off to my room right after dinner.  I hung out and enjoyed the companionship of my friends and colleagues.  Then on Thursday night I took a giant leap outside of my comfort zone: Karaoke.  This may not seem like a big deal to you, but I not only am I not known to be wild, I am known as super reserved.  I thought I was going to pass out when one of the girls leaned over and said "we are almost up all of us are going to do 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.'" 

"Excuse me all of who?"  I asked thinking I would immediately need another glass of wine.

"All off us, the girls." 


"Yes you are going to do it." She reassured me.

I don't know if it was the extra glass of wine, the comfort of my 7 friends, or the thought in the back of my mind, that 2014 was supposed to be about me getting out of my comfort zone.  I got up there and we actually did "wanna have fun" and I think we succeeded.  Suffice to say there was a breakfast the next morning where our male counterparts kept making the 'rock on' sign and apparently there is a video floating around somewhere.  There are also a couple of fun memories that I would not have if I did not stay out with my friends past my written in stone bedtime. 

Today I am grateful for opportunities to stretch myself.  It seems they are everywhere.  Just need to stay open.

Have you ever done anything against type or outside your normal boundaries?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Ouch...Back at the Gym

Okay so after talking about and blogging about my need to get more serious about strength training; we pulled the trigger and joined a gym again.  This time we went with just what we need.  No more being dazzled by the pool we won't use, the squash court we don't need, the hot tub that creeps us out because who knows who was in it.  We went with Planet Fitness the benign neglect, no muss, no fuss, no lunks gym.  For those anti-social workout fans it is Gym Nirvana.   Everything is spread out, no one is offering you constant personal training, no one is standing over you, no one even talks to you, and they aren't blasting their own music.  I can actually hear what is on my own IPhone. It is truly just plenty of cardio machines and lots of strength training equipment.

BTW-though I have been doing more strength training I received a memo from every muscle above my hips after the gym workout yesterday.

 "Dear Running Slacker,

We are muscles too.  We deserve as much attention as your legs.  You are 45 now and batwings are a very unattractive reality.  To remind you that we have value we will send a subtle reminder all day Monday every time you try to do anything strenuous like write, cook, or eat.


The rest of your Body"

Well, message received and ouch!  I am glad to be back at a gym.  There is something about being surrounded by all that equipment, and nowhere near my couch, that makes it much easier to commit to strength training. 

Is it bad that when the membership paperwork asked how you heard about them I said drive by instead of Biggest Loser?  I love the Biggest Loser, but I did not want them to think I was a potential contestant. #gymdilemmas. 

Today I am grateful to be getting serious about strength training.  Oh yeah still streaking.   

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Streaking Again

Boy I hope that is true.  So it is going on the blog so you know it must be true, and you know I must need you to keep me accountable.  I am running everyday from May through July.  July will be tough with two trips planned, but I am going to find a way.  The goal: at least one mile a day.  Most days will be more when there is a time crunch or I am not feeling it, I will do one mile. 

Having a treadmill at home makes it a little more realistic. I like to do these streaks from time to time.  They help me refocus, keep my mileage consistent, and teach me and my body to push through.  I am both looking forward to it and dreading it, that is how you know it is a good idea.  A little excitement mixed with fear.  So far so good; I have been running everyday for the last 3 weeks.  So If I don't overthink it I should be fine.  I don't have many races coming up so this will be a good challenge for me.  Sometimes you just have to do something to get out of your box. 

I have been pretty consistent with strength training 3-4 times a week, not for hours, just a few minutes after my run but I can tell the difference.  It is also good to be back at a more normal life and schedule.  That should help.  I do notice even if I am not into it at first, the day is usually better if I run.  I am definitely nicer.  So heres is to me being a joy to be around for the next couple of months. 

What is your current challenge or goal?  Today I am grateful for Mom.  Mine and all of you out there who choose that tough job.  Happy Mother's Day everyone!!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Comfort in Routine

Do you have a routine?  Not just a running routine.  Do you have a routine way of doing things a scheduled sort of life?  I really do.  I get up at 4:10 AM run, stretch, do strength training every other day, shower, get ready for work eat breakfast head to work, etc.  I would say if you asked anyone they would say, I am regimented.  If you ask my husband he would say I am pathological.

I bring this up because of the recent experiences with my family and because I started reading Running Away by Robert Andrew Powell and he talks about his dad.  How he realizes he accomplished his goals by having a routine and a schedule.  He is amazed at the discipline and the results and he says, what I have always secretly thought, he get more done, because of his routine.  I have always believed that the power of habit and preparation sets you up to achieve.

Also just from a practical standpoint, it gives you more time.  When I finish my run in the morning I put my shoes up and pre-select the pair for tomorrow's run.  Tomorrow at 4:10 there won't be time wasted deciding on shoes or going to the garage to get them.  When I get home from work I pick out my running clothes and work clothes for the next day.  In the morning both sets are ready and waiting.  No idle time in front of the closet or tossing T-shirts looking for just the right one.  I also pack my lunch for the next day when I get home.  I eat better and save money bringing my lunch but morning time is crowded.  I might decide I'll just pick something up.  That does not happen if you already have it packed.  I am as committed to my bedtime as my 4:10 wake up call.  I go to bed at 9 PM so I get enough sleep.  I have tons of other plans and routines I adhere to, but not everyone needs to know exactly how crazy I am, so I will stick with health related.  The routines do give me more time and they do set me up to achieve my healthy goals. 

Big confession, I bet you will be surprised "I am planner."  I am not a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl.  This can be good.  I am a rock.  I can look at a situation and break it down into a very efficient, deadline sensitive Gant Chart.  It also means when things happen like the last couple of months: unbelievable work obligations, robbery, moving, pneumonia, my brother's death things can seem out of control.  I have to say sticking as closely as possible to those routines during the chaos was a touchstone for me.  I also realized that people who plan, and live by the plan have a hard time adjusting to a group of people who wait for things to happen and then react off the cuff. 

For me routine and planning is a comfort.  It allows me to make room for what is important, my health, career, and husband.  I am sure it does not work for everyone, but for me routine and discipline are a girls best friend.  How about you.  Are you a routine fan or a go where the wind blows you type? 

Today I am grateful to be back at my routine and regular life. 

Sunday, May 4, 2014


So I have not written in a while.  Part of the reason is I did not know how to write about the last couple of weeks.  Was I going to write how grateful I am that running has proved to be a mental and physical release during the last two weeks?  Was I going to write about how sometimes things can happen to other people that make all your excuses fall away?  Instead I decided to write about choices.  How everyday, in every instance we have dozens, if not hundreds, of choices to make.  Some good.  I am glad I signed up for that race.  Some bad.  What was I thinking with that pixie cut did I forget how big my ears are?  Some life changing.  Yes, that guy.  He is the one I am going to marry and spend the rest of my life with.  Some meaningless.  I think I will choose the purple sticky notes today; I feel adventurous.  Sometimes we make choices by making no choice at all, my family's specialty. 

On Good Friday I was out for a run and my phone went off.  It was my sister.  "Mom says Kevin (our brother)  is in the emergency room.  Are you back in town?  Someone has to pick her up.  So she can run home and take care of our aunt." Important to know, everyone in my family suffers form major medical and health problems, except for me.  I was back in town.  I did pick her up, I helped with my aunt.  I dropped her back at the hospital and I was heading home when my phone rang again.  This time it was Mom.  "It is stage 4 cancer: colon, lung, and liver.  I have to go he is headed to emergency surgery."  Late into that evening my small family sat in the surgery waiting room to have a macabre discussion with the Dr.  "Understand this is grave.  His liver is completely covered in cancer.  He can't live without a liver.  I don't mean to be harsh, this isn't curable."  On Monday, April 28th at 6:03 AM my 46 year old brother, my Irish twin, died. 

In my 45 years, my brother and I probably never agreed on anything.  We may have been Irish twins, but we were polar opposites.  He never worked, I recently recovered from pneumonia that most of my close friends attribute to my being a total workaholic.  He was scared of everything and paralyzed by any choice.  I try to live fearlessly, I don't always succeed but I give it the old college try.  I make all my own choices and stand beside them good or bad and learn from them.  He never made a good choice about his health.  He never exercised, never ate fruit or vegetables, only ate processed meals and fast food.  Choices, we live and die by them. 

I make lots of choices everyday; we all do, even when we are too scared to make one.  My mother asks fruitlessly "why didn't he tell anyone he felt sick, before it was too late."  It was a choice.  I would be the last one to know the thought process behind it.  I have made a lot of tough choices in my life, especially about my family, not everyone's family is a healthy for them.  Things like the last few weeks demonstrates that there is a cost to every choice;  Kevin's was severe.  Mine was more subtle.  The obvious separation between me and my family, most of whom have made similar choices to my brother's.  When I returned from the service on Thursday, feeling estranged and awkward.  My husband helped me see my choices in a different light.  "Just look at your whole life: your marriage, career, health, and friends as it is now.  Knowing what you know would you make a different choice?"  The answer, I think he confidently knew, was no.  I usually choose optimism.  I choose health.  I get up and lace up and do strength training, and eat right.  I choose a happy life, not free of stress, but not welcoming additional chaos.  I prioritize my husband and career.  I choose peace and harmony, I choose honesty and reality. 

I can mourn my brother and the choices that brought us all here.  I can take away that things like this are a reminder to hold those you love closer, to push the envelope, to try the difficult, new thing, and to continue to make the choices I have. 

Hoping all of you have healthy happy loved ones to share your life.  I am very grateful for my husband, a true life partner and the good friends that reached out and provided so much support for me the last couple of weeks.