Saturday, November 8, 2014

doubt creeps in

Do you ever have those times in your life where you just don't know how your life has gotten so insane and out of control?

I have to say, that's exactly how my life has felt as of late, almost as if I'm a runaway train careening down a mountain at breakneck speeds.  But maybe that isn't the right metaphor... I don't know.  Things are busy.  It's hard.  I'm stressed out, and tired.  I thought being done with the marathon would help slow me own, but school and work picked that exact moment to get much, much harder.  Working out, even short, restorative workouts has become nonexistent.  I haven't gotten home at my normal time in 2 weeks.  It's a time of testing and reckoning for me, a time when I have to woman up and decide what I'm made of.

Mostly, it's a time when I'm doubting if all of these sacrifices that I have made to pursue a career in Accounting are worth it.  I see my friends who are still on the Property Management track flourishing.  They are getting ready for some continuing education, but nothing like what I have been working on for the past 3 years.  While they all enjoyed a nice bump in salary at the beginning of the year, I took a chance, and a cost of living raise to switch departments and get some real world experience in Accounting.  Most of the time, I'm really glad I made that decision.  I have had so many good opportunities since I accepted my position, and I work with some incredibly talented Accounting and Finance people.  However, I took on some really challenging things when I accepted me position as well, things like personality conflicts, and not feelings of not being valued.  Feelings of intense overwhelm, and instability in my position, as it completely morphs into something new every time I blink.  A complete lack of recognition for the fact that I attempt to take all of the changes and challenges in stride, and that most of the time, I succeed.

On top of all of that, is school, and struggles there.  This semester has been very labor-intensive for me, for classes that I really could not care less about.  They're classes that I only found out I had to take in the spring, so that I could transfer in January, and so often I'm tempted to just blow them off, put in less than average effort, but in the end I don't, because that isn't authentic to who I am becoming as a person, and what my ultimate goals are.  Accountants are diligent, detail-oriented people who look for every lost penny.  Accounting students don't blow off their Marketing class (at least, in my world the good ones don't), because they think it's stupid and a waste of time, they try to find the value in the class, and get what they can out of it, even if it's just some clarity on how departments set their pricing and sales objectives, which ultimately drive budgets, or how they are justifying costs in relation to profits.  
 
I want to squeeze all I can out of this time in my life, school and work-wise, because I have a clear picture of where I want my career to go... Internships, and then being recruited by one of the top financial firms, working there while I earn my CPA designation, and then eventually taking a post with a company that has an outstanding culture, like a running shoe manufacturer, or any company in the outdoor/sporting goods manufacturing and retailing business really.  It's the culmination of everything that I have studied in my adult life... health, wellness, exercise, and Accounting.  I know your minds are all blown right now, that I have such a clear target, but without it, I probably would have given up a long time ago.  This path that I am on is really, really challenging.  It makes me uncomfortable on a daily basis.  Yet, it seems as though that is exactly how I should know that it's the right path, isn't it?  That it's hard?  That I still somehow convince myself each day to keep trying, and to keep striving?

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Some new running goals

You know how I've been talking about giving running a rest for a while?  It turns out that after putting so much time, energy, and effort into it, I now miss the heck out of it now that I'm no longer training for a big race.  It's the strangest thing, because I was so looking forward to getting to NOT run, and now the only thing holding me back is the ship time on my new shoes (aka saving grace for my legs).

Ad did I mention that I set some new running goals?  Woah Nelly, they are BIG ONES.  Like, I don't know quite what I'm thinking with these bad boys, because apparently, I want to try my hand at running fast.  Who knew?

I told Ammon that he wasn't allowed to let me register for another marathon until I had broken 2 hours in the half marathon.  I told him this right after the marathon, because I have heard that marathon running is a lot like childbirth, and women just have this nasty tendency of repeatedly torturing themselves.  I am recognizing that really building my skills in shorter distances, and working up to the longer distances could be a really beneficial thing for my running, and so I want to apply that across the board, starting with the 5k distance.  Once I hit my 5k goal time, I will take on the 10k, then the half marathon, and eventually the marathon again.  I want to be clear, these are stand-alone running race goals, not triathlon running leg goals.  That would just be crazy talk talking.  But anyway, how I set these goals:  I knew I wanted to be able to run a half marathon in under 2 hours, so I plugged that goal time into a race paces calculator, which gave me my target paces for the 800m all the way through to the marathon.  Neat.  So without further ado, I present to you my new running training targets for the next however long they last.

1 mile: 7:28 (is this real life???  OMG that's freakishly fast)
5k:       25:55
10k:     53:50
Half:    2:00:00
Full:    4:12:33

They feel totally out there and unrealistic right now.  Like I said, a 7:28 mile seems freakishly fast and impossible to me.  However, finishing a full marathon seemed freakish and impossible to me 2 years ago, so there you go.  I can hit these goals.  It's just going to take some time, energy, sweat, and devotion to do it.  I've got all of those things.  There's nothing like giving yourself the goal of dropping 6 minutes and change off of your 5k time to make you feel well and truly dedicated to a sport.

And here we all thought that Kristen the triathlete might have something more interesting to talk about than running...  I guess that's not entirely accurate.

On the bright side, speed work and 5k training is short, so there's at least a minimal chance of me having a life outside of training, school, and work...

Monday, November 3, 2014

My apple tree likes to eat people

So, I literally just opened this window with no idea what I should write about, just the notion that I need my written therapy back in my life in a real and meaningful way again.  This should be fun, right?

Last week, Michelle wrote an awesome Stream of Consciousness post that reminded me of what blogging used to be.  Back when we were all super into it, and we had lists of blogging topics, and people were sending hundreds of emails back and forth every day.  It was a darn magical time.  I look back, and I wonder how we came to the spot we are at now.  It makes me sad.  I flipping love what blogging used to be, but I'm glad that it isn't quite as labor intensive anymore, either.  Because really, it was a blast, but an exhausting, time consuming blast, and I met some of the coolest, funnest people.


Like Alyx.  Quite possibly one of my most favorite people ever, and I never would have met her without this blogging thing.  I might get to see her next week, and that is just the best to me.  I'm pretty sure we would be besties if we lived next door to each other, and I'm trying to figure out how to make that happen without actually having to move to Utah.

Speaking of Utah, that always makes me think of Mormons, and Mormons make me think of the party we went to on Friday night.  Which, if you went to the same party I went to, you wouldn't understand at all, so this is going to be interesting to explain.  Last Saturday (not 2 days ago, but 9), I was on our brand new ladder, literally being eaten by my apple tree, trying to liberate some apples from the branches when my neighbor called out to me.  She is quite possibly the cutest, sweetest person in existence.  Anyway, she wanted to give us a flier for a Halloween block party, with the admonishment that "it was time we got out and met some of our other neighbors".  Point taken, awesome, sweet neighbor with adorable children.  We will go forth and meet the block.  So, we went.  What we were not expecting was that we were actually attending a party hosted by one of the local not-quite-a-mega-church-but almost's small groups, which are apparently organized geographically?  I'm not quite sure, but that's what they all alluded to.  But anyway, they were super nice, and we had a great time drinking cocoa and cider, eating s'mores, and sitting around a fire pit.  Ammon, who is not a big fan of church, liked everyone so much, he was tempted to go see what their church was all about.  It was pretty crazy.  Then I was seeing something online about freezer meal exchanges, and now I think I should ask all of those cool ladies to do one with me, because it seems right up their alley.

My problem with crockpot meals right now, though, is that they aren't always the healthiest things, and I kind of gained some weight marathon training.  Like, 8 pounds.  It's not awful, but it's also not awesome.  So now I'm eating to lean out again.  I'm following the meal plan included with PiYo, except that I increased my daily caloric intake from what they recommended.  There is no way I want to try surviving on 1400 calories ever, that just sounds awful.  And let's be real, cleaning up your diet after you're allowed all of the donuts, and all of the carbs is already sucky... throwing in some serious calorie restriction on top of that, nope.  Hail no.


I know we saw this picture yesterday, but you need to know that it's really hard to eat healthfully when you are making french pastry that is chock full of butter and cream cheese.  Also, I took this to the party Friday night, and it was a huge hit.  I like to buy my friends with fat and sugar, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.

Which brings me back to internet friends.  You should come visit.  I will make goodies for you, and they will be delicious.  And I won't even make you run 13.1 miles with me, unless you want to.  I will, however, make you snuggle with Gunner and/or Beckham, because they're the best snugglers ever.


Just imagine your head where that pillow is.  Yep.  It's pretty much how things go around here all of the time.

Don't you wish we were neighbors?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

That's what I'm doing these days

2 weeks ago, I became a marathoner.  Wow.  It's still one of those things that I'm absolutely shocked I was able to finish.  I have said it before, but it bears repeating:  I am not athletically gifted, and I fought on every single training run for every iota of fitness that I gained over the last 10 months.  For me, that made my accomplishment even more sweet.  Everyone starts at a different place, and with different odds stacked against them.  But I am a firm believer that anyone can do anything they want, if they are willing to put the time in.


The running store had to special order a 26.2 sticker for me, because they only had one left, and it was light pink, and my car is cranberry red.  That just isn't a good combo ever.  And then I was so excited, I set it on my binder for microeconomics, and took a picture of it at a stoplight.  Being cool is overrated.

So what have I been doing since the marathon?

1) Not blogging.  But not really on purpose, just because life has been busy.

2) School, school, school.  I was really looking forward to life getting a little easier after the marathon, but school actually got harder.  I think it's a conspiracy.

3) PiYo.  Yeah, I broke down and bought another Beachbody program.  I started it last week, and I like that there is a lead-in to the harder stuff, with the first few weeks being easier.  My legs are super locked up right now, so I'm doing more stretching than strengthening in the workouts, but it's totally fine by me.  I'm not really feeling the pressure to get all crazy with my workouts right now, just keep my body moving.

4)  Buying new running shoes.  Yup.  I wasn't going to, but at the marathon expo, I had a barefoot running gait analysis done, which identified that I have been running in the wrong category of shoes (stability) for 2 years, and it may be causing some of my running-related aches and pains.  So last weekend, I went to the running store with the goal of getting the above-shown sticker, and ended up trying on and run-testing 10 pairs of neutral shoes.  I found a winner, one that just so happened to have the last model-year on Zulilly at a ridiculously good rate, so I came home and put in that order.  The best thing is that since it takes so stinking long for product to ship from Zulilly, the chances of me running again before my body is 100% ready are slim.  I'm really hoping that these shoes are like purple unicorns for my feet.

5)  Trying to figure out how I am going to approach triathlon training.  Y'all, it's so complicated.  Every discipline has so many approaches to training, and then you multiply that by 3 disciplines, and good gravy...  I am pretty overwhelmed right now with the choices.  I have heard though that it is safest on your body to push your cycling training hardest, then swimming, and do the least running, which is honestly what my body would prefer.  But then I also hear from other people that you should focus on your weakest discipline, because your body is likely more efficient in the other two disciplines, which would have me running more, then swimming, then cycling the least.  Or there's the beginner's approach, which is to do each equally-ish.  Or... Yeah.  There's just a lot of options, and I have no idea what's going to work, because I've never tried to balance the three before.

6) Processing and eating apples.  They just never end.  Plus, there's a house on our cul-de-sac with 2 large apple trees, and we just got permission to pick their apples, which are quite possibly the tastiest apples I have had in a long time.  Ammon is building a fruit grinder, just so we can make apple cider with all of these apples.  If we're lucky, we'll have enough to ferment... let the good times roll.  In the meantime though, I am making apple sauce, apple cinnamon bread, apple crisp, and these pretty apple galettes:


What does your life look like these days?  I think everyone could use a little french pastry in their lives, don't you?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Appletopia

When we first rented this house, we had no idea that the tree in the backyard was an apple tree.  We just thought it was a crabapple tree, because there were a profusion of small green apples all over it.  And then we moved in and got the surprise of a lifetime:  those little green apples were destined to become real apples.

I had every intention of thinning the tree heavily, so that we got a sold crop of large apples come fall, but with work, school, moving, and marathon training, my attempts at thinning out the apple tree were rather limited.  Suddenly, it was fall, and the branches on the tree were literally bent to the ground, they were so heavy with fruit.  And thus began the state of appletopia.

The apple tree is entirely organic, and so little critters have had their free reign to nibble on apples to their hearts' content.  At first, I thought this would mean that 80% of our apples would be headed directly for the compost bin.  Imagine my surprise when one day, I picked all of these apples that were fit for human consumption:


Then 2 days later, I was able to pick these as well.

We still don't have all of the apples off the tree, either.  Most of the ones left are really high up on the tree, and we don't have a ladder yet, so they are out of range.  The ones that are lower are pretty much no good at this point, and headed for the compost bin.  I'm not sad about it, though.  This is a lot of apples to find good uses for.

So far this Autumn, we have made 2 batches of apple crisp, 2 batches of applesauce, 5 loaves of apple cinnamon swirl bread, and an apple galette.  We've also been eating apples like they're going out of style, and giving them away.  It doesn't seem to make a real dent in our supply.  Hopefully tomorrow I'll be making some apple butter and more applesauce, which should (fingers crossed) dwindle our supply... just in time for us to buy a ladder and finish getting all those apples off the darn tree.

Seriously, it's like an apple orchard threw up all over my house.  I'm not sad about it.  I just wish we had an applejack press so that we could be making cider with all of this goodness.

What is your favorite way to eat an apple?  We keep hearing about the same apple recipes over and over... I need some fresh ideas!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

For my best guy

As I sit here typing this, it's his birthday eve, and he's fixing my driver's side window on my car, which randomly broke on my way to the store on Monday.  Tomorrow, on his actual birthday, when you all are actually reading this, I'll be going to class, and won't get home until late.


But it would be super, duper, uber rude of me if I didn't take the time to tell the cheese in my nachos (metaphorically speaking, dear), how how I puffy heart love him, and think that 31 has never, ever looked so sexy.

Yes, even when you're creepy, or you make the strange faces that I don't like so much.


Basically, you're just my favorite, end of story.  And you keep walking in while I'm writing this, and it's getting kind of weird, so I'm just going to be done now.

Oh wait, Happy birthday, love of my life.  There, now I'm done.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Marathons: the upsides

I really feel like my recap of the marathon was kind of a downer, which is sad to me, because while the day overall wasn't perfect, I actually had some really spectacular moments on Sunday, and some outstanding days of training over the last 10.5 months.  So today, I really want to celebrate the best parts of the marathon with you.  Does that sound good?  Yes?  Great.

1)  Doing the race with my childhood best friend.  I legitimately would not have shown up to the starting line were it not for her.  She's the best.

2)  Seeing people who clearly get the senior discount at Denny's kicking my hiney when they were at mile 18 of the marathon, and I was at 13.5.  That was indescribably cool.

3)  This one takes a little back story.  Long time readers may remember that Ammon and I went to the zoo for my birthday a couple of years ago.  While we were eating lunch, we were sitting next to these guys in their mid-20's who looked like meat-headed frat boys.  We kept hearing them saying "solid" and "Dude", and looking up stuff on their phones, and at first we thought they were really into the St. Louis Cardinals, because we kept hearing weird phrases like, "That Cardinal, he's a great guy, totally solid".  No no, it turns out they were both in seminary to become Catholic priests, and were debating the finer points of their favorite religious leaders.  Using words like "Bro", and "solid", and "dude".  It is by far one of the best and funniest things to have ever happened to me.  Until Sunday, when I SAW THEM AGAIN!  We ran by a Priory, and standing out in front were 3 priests in Cassocks, totally decked out, and cheering on runners!  As I jogged by, I could hear them, and it was obviously them, and it was the best thing ever, because they hadn't changed one bit, and still seemed as meat-headedly frat-boyish as ever.

4)  The signs that said "If running a marathon was supposed to be easy, it would be called your mom."

5)  As I was running through the winding park that never ended, I passed a guy who'd made his own shirt.  It said, "If Britney Spears could survive 2007, you can survive this race".  It was amazing, and when I told him that, he said that he was glad it could give me hope.

6)  Seeing Shae still going strong when she was at mile 24, and I was right around 20 (I think).  I yelled loudly for her, but she was in the zone and didn't hear me.  Everyone around her did, and they all told me that they were glad I was so enthusiastic.

7)  The people who are suffering as much as you are, and their attempts to help you make it to the finish line in one piece.  The number of times I heard, "let's just shuffle together for a little bit," was humbling, because that was all we could do at that point, shuffle together for a couple hundred yards until one person fell back to walk again.

8)  The strangers on the patios of bars and restaurants that dutifully cheered for all of us as we trudged along.

9)  Hearing people along the course reminding us runners that our marathon was just the victory lap to all of the training we had done to get to that moment.

10)  When an ambulance driver cheered for me at mile 17, and told me that I looked strong.  Out of anyone, I believed him the most.

11)  At mile 25.8 when I had to slow down to let an ambulance come through the intersection, and the race photographer right in front of me told me, "they aren't here for you, obviously!"

12)  When I got into the world's longest finishing chute, and I could see Ammon waiting right by the finish line for me with the biggest smile in the world on his face.

13)  When I stopped running, and I was sobbing, and the nice lady put the medal over my head, and told me that I had truly earned my medal.

14)  When Ammon actually hopped the barrier in the finishers only area to give me a hug and congratulate me

15)  Getting to take my shoes off after running so many miles.  It was a special moment.

Have you ever had a really random and awesome thing happen to you in a big event?