Friday, July 11, 2014

A testing ground

This week has been long.  Exhausting.  Full of doubts, worry, and stress.  Today is my last day in my office before I move over to the main office and essentially "start over" with all of those little things that go into office dynamics.  Finding my office family.  Learning where the office supplies are, and who orders things like adding machines (apparently the stapler and adding machine in my new office don't exactly work).  It's terrifying for someone who values comfort and stability like me.

It's made staying on course with my workouts and eating challenging.  Our food is already off because we're eating what's in our freezer and pantry instead of following a meal plan, and then I'm having constant cravings for sugar and chocolate right now.  It's pretty rough.  My runs are feeling hard, too, even though they are significantly slower than normal.  I get that these are all normal, predictable responses to taking a week off of training, eating not so awesomely, and being under a lot of stress, but it is still impacting me to be performing below my potential.

None of this needs to define me today.  It doesn't need to be the factor that determines the outcomes
in my life.  This pressure, this stress, it doesn't ruin and undo the work that I have put in.  It can't take away gorgeous views from therapy sessions on the trail after work.

The only thing being defined right now is the strength of my will to succeed at work, at home, and in all of my endeavors.  This is a testing ground, and I just have to keep on plugging along.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

3 things I need to be better at [running edition]

Good morning and happy Monday!!!  Do you love Mondays?  I know I'm the super weirdo person, but I love, love, love Mondays.  They are always full of potential and promise, and nothing has gone wrong yet in the week... you get a clean slate.  Today, I'm training for my new position all day long.  We're going to be working on payroll, and it gives me a lot of anxiety.  I mean, what job is more crucial to get 100% right (in Accounting, that is), than making sure that everyone gets paid the correct amount on time?  Yeesh.  I am really glad that I am going to be a payroll back-up in my new role, and not the payroll point person.

Having taken the last week off of running, today is also my fresh start with that.  I definitely feel much better than I was, but I'm a little bit apprehensive.  I'm still having some shin pain if I overextend myself, but it seems to go away with a few hours of rest.  I have the feeling I'm just going to have to keep an eye on it this week and play things by ear.  This little mini-injury has really made me take some time to evaluate what I could be doing better with my training, though, and re-focus on what I need to be doing in order to be more successful.  The things I have identified so far:

1)  YOGA:  During my half marathon training, I religiously made the effort to make yoga a big part of my life.  In fact, it was the only cross training I chose to do for my entire program, and I did not miss a single run due to injury during that training cycle.  So far with marathon training, long walks with Gunner have dominated my cross training.  I'm going to venture out on a limb and say that this was a big contributing factor to how quickly and hard I got hit with pain.  My legs are tighter than they were, and stretching has been more intense lately.  I'm making the commitment now that for the rest of this training cycle, I will do yoga 2x/week.

2)  Detox baths and ice baths:  Another thing I was super into during my last training cycle were my weekly hot detox baths and my post long run ice baths.  I really think that both of these things go a long way towards my muscle recovery when orchestrated properly.  My ideal timing is to do the detox bath the night before a long run, and the ice bath immediately following stretching after a long run.  My detox baths consist of 3 cups of epsom salts, 1.5 cups baking soda, and lavender and eucalyptus essential oils.  If my legs need that sassy icy-hot feeling, I throw in some peppermint too.  It works like a charm on stubborn muscles and ligaments.

3)  Sleep:  This is something that I have worked on for years, and is always going to be something that I work on.  I am very sensitive to stress, and tend to have physical reactions, like illness and injury, when my stress levels are not appropriately managed.  Since I have the whole "regular exercise" portion of that equation handled, and I'm already working with techniques like baths and yoga to further manage that stress, I also have to pay attention to my sleep.  My personal ideal is 9 hours a night, which is a ton.  Lately, I've been getting more like 6-7, which is really affecting me.  I find myself sleeping way in on the weekends, which isn't like me at all.  So my goal is to be in bed no later than 9:45.  I know it's going to be hard to hit, and that most nights I won't make it, but it's something to move toward.

...And as I'm writing this at 9:57pm on Sunday night, I'm thinking that it's a good time to call it good for the night.  Gotta maximize my sleep and all that.

What things are you working at being better at this week?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

My left shin hates me, and new running shoes

Happy long weekend!  Did you all enjoy your extra day off yesterday?  We sure did.  And it was kind of awesome to wake up this morning and realize that I still have a whole weekend ahead of me.  3 day weekends are a necessity sometimes.
I haven't given you all an update on running lately, and I feel like that is bad.  Without a doubt, running is one of the biggest aspects of my life right now, right up there with family time and work.  However, because it's "just one of those things" that I do now, it seems... boring (???) to tell you about it.

For anyone just joining in on our adventures, or for those who may just want the refresher, I am following Jenny Hadfield's 20 week walk/run marathon training plan.  I used her half marathon walk/run program when I successfully PR'ed at the Lincoln Marathon in May, and I am all about sticking with things that work.  Currently, I am just finishing up my 6th week of training.

Honestly, up until the end of week 5, everything was coming up roses in my training.  I got in almost every training run on my schedule, my mileage was on point, and even my "not so great" runs were pretty okay.  And then week 5 happened...

During my Monday run that week, I noticed some pain in my hip flexors and shins, two areas that I NEVER have any issue with.  I was fairly sure that it was a shoe issue... while I don't keep track of the mileage on my shoes, I do try to be aware of how worn they are.  Somehow, my shoes going critical snuck up on me:  so fast, in fact, that I decided to run on the shoes a couple more times, just to make sure that it actually was the shoes, and not an off-day.  It was definitely the shoes, and by the time my long run came around (which I use a different brand of shoes for), my body had a few things to say to me.  I was hoping that simply by taking an extra rest day between my weekday runs and my long run, plus having shoes that are not worn out, I could get through my scheduled 8 miles without issue.

The good news is, I DID get through my 8 miles.  The bad news is, it was pretty slow going and miserable.  A lot of my longer runs have been like that lately, while my weekday runs have felt really good and faster than ever.  Lately after a long run I am able to stretch out and then go about my day pretty normally.  However, I felt completely wrecked after my run on Sunday.  I felt like my legs had just been taken out by a 2 x 4.  I decided then and there that I would be re-arranging my week 6 schedule to make it easier as needed, and then adjusting my week 7 schedule (a planned "easy" week) to compensate.  On Monday, I ran in my new weekday running shoes.  I told Ammon that I was only going to go for as long as I still felt good, and somehow I managed my entire planned 45 minute workout at a normal pace.  I think it had something to do with the difference in the bottom of my shoes.

I can't believe I got that much wear out of those shoes.  I'm pretty impressed with myself about that.

After the high of getting through my Monday run, I was sure that the whole week would come up roses.  Except that my left shin is still being a jerk, and now it's Saturday, and I haven't run once since Monday.  I decided to take some good rest for the rest of the week once I realized that I could rest for a week now, or for 3 weeks closer to my marathon.  Since next week was planned as an easy week, I'm just going to move my mileage to week 7, and then pick back up in week 8 as planned.  With any luck, this rest will be the only major time out from running that I have during this training cycle.

I'm also really looking forward to getting to run in a new place soon!  We are headed to Southern CA in a couple of weeks, and I'll be taking my running crap with me.  We're staying with my best friend, who lives in Santa Monica, and I've heard that they have some incredible recreation trails out that way.  I am hoping that it will be a major highlight of this training cycle.

And with that, I really should go do some yoga.  I haven't been doing enough of that lately, and I'm hoping that it helps.  Hope you all are really enjoying your long holiday weekend!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

So this is 29

I turned 29 yesterday.  It wasn't quite what I expected.  For many years, there has been this big build-up to my birthday, expectations, wants, needs, all colliding to make me this big ball of anticipation.  But for the last couple of years, birthdays haven't been as big of a deal for me.  It makes me feel awfully grown up to say that, I remember my dad shrugging his shoulders and proclaiming it "just another day" when I was younger, and that completely throwing me for a loop.  It's your DAY!  I would exclaim.  How could it be just another day?

Yet that's where I find myself now.  It's just another day.  My age doesn't seem to matter nearly as much anymore, now that most of the "big ones" are behind me, and now it's the decade birthdays that really seem to matter.  I did walk into some wonderful surprises at work that made me feel so blessed yet again to work with incredible people.  I am such a lucky person to have good people in my life on a daily basis.  
However, none of that made it "feel"  like I was officially one year older.  I'm not walking around proudly proclaiming that I have entered the last year of my 20's, although I am proud to share with those who ask.  I don't feel any different now than I did when I turned 28.  Marriage, and my time spent shaping that matters more now.  Milestones at work, and the accomplishments that I work hard for matter more now.  Cat and dog cuddles matter more now than the number of candles on any cake ever will again.  And someday, hopefully in the not too distant future, the sweet giggles of a baby or two will matter much, much more than the number I report in order to determine my age group at races.

 And this must be what it means to grow up.  To realize that "growing up" doesn't really matter unless you're filling it with things that are significant and meaningful.

Monday, June 30, 2014

So much change

Let's just try to gloss right over the fact that I haven't been updating this blog with any sort of regularity, okay?  I don't feel like I'm the only one who just isn't feeling 100% into blogging anymore, and I'm totally okay with it.  My life doesn't need any additional made-up stress like that.  Trust me, it's been busy enough without all of that.

I've been making a concerted effort to work through the tough stuff lately.  To face challenges, embrace change, and actively engage in life.  It's really, really hard though.  I feel like I am living my life on the breaking point every day.  So much change is going on for us.  Between moving, Ammon's company losing funding, and a big role (and office) change for me at work, there have been struggles and tears.  And while I'm putting in the effort to be positive and proactive about these changes, I feel like I'm floundering.

We found out on Wednesday of last week that in 2.5 weeks, I will be moving to the main office of my organization and taking a more active and challenging role.  It's everything that I have been wanting and needing for the past few months, but it's also sad and terrifying at the same time.  I have been with 2 of my co-workers since my first day in that office 3.5 years ago, and I am afraid to let go of that comfort and security.  I'm thrilled about the positive changes this will bring for my career, but I'm so worried that I won't live up to everyone's expectations.  They're pretty typical fears for me, despite how unfounded they may be.  I don't want to mess this up in any way, because it feels like it's "my chance".  I have been blessed that the accounting department has offered to let me into the club in the first place, and my supervisor has now created a new job for me, and promised that if I decide to stay after I get my Bachelor's degree that there will still be challenging work for me.  It's humbling, and it makes me wonder if I'm worthy of the position that I have.  I never want to take for granted the gifts that they are giving me.

Also, please keep Ammon in your thoughts today.  While the company lost funding, the owner put in some of his own capital so that Ammon could continue to work a reduced schedule for a while, until they (hopefully) find more funding.  However, we both feel that it is the right time for him to move on, and to that end, he has a phone interview for a new job today!  Fingers crossed that this is a good strategic move on his part right now.

And with all of that, I'm out to try and make sense out of all of the chaos my life has turned into.  Have an awesome Monday!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It's unintentional

I've been in a kind of a daze for the last few weeks.  For whatever reason, life always seems to just get more hectic in the summer.  Last year, it was the wedding, and this year it's moving, marathon training, and having a dog for the first time (and if you don't think that complicates life, get one and then reconsider).  Not necessarily bad things, just things that take up time, so much in fact that by the end of the day, I am bone tired.

We took my brother to Denver Comic Con on Saturday, and it was such a fun time.  Ammon and I chose to do this with him as his birthday present, and I think we were all so glad.  It was a very long day, but it was worth it.

I don't think I've gotten to hang out with my brother like that in years.  We don't have a lot in common, and we aren't particularly close.  It's a bummer, really.  I see/hear people talk about close relationships with siblings, and I really can't relate.  However, I feel like I did a dang good job with this birthday gift, and managed to get my brother something that he will remember for a long time.

Sunday morning I woke up tired and with achy legs.  I knew that 7 miles was not going to go down nicely, especially after the massive amounts of walking that we did at Comic Con.  My legs were not having any of it.  I reminded myself that the workouts you least need to do are the ones that you most need, and I dragged my sorry little self out the door around 8am to get business done.  In an effort to increase mental toughness, I picked the hilliest, hardest route by my house.  Because, you know, that's fun.

I wish that photos accurately depicted how much this hill sucks.  It was insanely slow, and I was cursing every other step, but I finished it with plenty of time to shower and get ready for brunch with my parents for Father's day.  You know what's better than brunch?  Brunch after running a whole mess of miles, that's what.  You get to eat all of the things without feeling the least bit guilty about it, and so I did just that.  Afterward, we made our way over to my parents' house where they ceremoniously gifted me with 2 of my all-time favorite pairs of sunglasses.

Those neon sunglasses are my favorite cycling sunglasses, and are sooooooooo comfortable.  They are Oakley's circa 1989 or so, and they are perfection.  I don't care who might make fun of them... and many people have over the years.  They're my jam.  Also, I think it's safe to blame my love of big sunglasses on my parents.  I mean, look at the sunglasses that I've been wearing my whole life, versus my current sunglasses... not a whole lot of difference.  Case and point.

Well, wow.  That just turned into an unintentional weekend update.  I had meant to write about other things, but sometimes that is just the way things go around here.  Oh well.

What kind of sunglasses do you love?

What is the hardest running route in your area like?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My dog is a danger to my health

I never thought my dog would actually be BAD for me, yet somehow, this is exactly what has happened.

Doesn't he look so sweet and innocent?  I mean... how could someone with a face like that be a toxic entity in my life?  However, Gunner has now managed to pull me over not once, but twice now while we were out.  Once on a walk when he saw a sweet widdle cuddly bunny, and the other time last night while we were out on a run and a punk on a skateboard rolled on by.  For whatever reason, Gunner HATES skateboards with an unholy passion.  I'm amazed that Mr. Punk didn't end up on the concrete right along with me.

Yet when we get home, and we both plop down on the ground, equally worn out and equally happy from our evening run, I tend to forget all about what a terror he was going after every single dog we see, and how keeping him focused is more challenging than getting 70 sorority girls to agree on a t-shirt for a philanthropy event.  All of that goes away, because we both ran hard and got a good workout.

Then again, I look like this after a run with Gunner, so that might be written off as delusion.  I'm not 100% sure.  I just know this will probably not be the last time that Gunner knocks me over in pursuit of one thing or another.