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


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?

Monday, October 20, 2014

How do you follow up a marathon?

I feel like whenever you accomplish a huge feat, there's this kind of... sadness.  Mystery.  Looming question.  You work so hard for something, and suddenly, it's all over.  What the heck are you supposed to do when that all ends?
 Other than lay face-down sideways on the bed for a long time.  That's a given.

The natural answer is to find a new metaphorical mountain to climb.  It's certainly not a bad answer, I do have some big fitness goals on the horizon, and I am excited to get a jump on those.  But at the same time, those big physical goals take up a lot of time, and require sacrifices in other areas of your life.  Less time for schoolwork, less time for friends and family, it all takes its toll, and then it's over, and it's so easy to fill that void with the next obvious to grasp for goal.  Obviously, it only makes sense to rest for a few weeks, and then start off-season training, so that when February comes along, triathlon training can begin in earnest.  It makes sense.  It is what I have said all along that I was working toward, and I truly believe that.  There is a butterfly in my stomach, the tri-butterfly, and it just won't quit fluttering around in there until I give it what it wants.

There are other goals, though.  Goals like finishing school, finding a grown-up Accounting job, becoming financially stable, moving across the country (have I not mentioned that in a while?  Yeah.  We still want that), and the big goal, the one that has been too scary to even mention.  The goal that I think about each and every day, and wonder if I'm a big enough woman to handle.  They're all worthy goals.  They are all things that I want, but they are less tangible than an athletic accomplishment.  Sure, with school I get a piece of paper, but with a marathon I get a big heavy sparkly medal, a t-shirt, and awkward race photographers taking my picture as I hyperventilate my way across the finish line.  You don't get that when you become financially stable, which is probably why so many Americans never attain that particular milestone.

But what about that goal that has REALLY been too scary to reach for?  That goal that changes everything about life?  The one that makes running a marathon seem absolutely insignificant.  THAT GOAL.  There's a tangibility to it that nobody can deny.  More so than almost anything I will ever do in life.  It's terrifying to me.  I don't feel "grown-up" enough yet, which is funny, because for years I thought I was plenty grown up enough to go for it, when I most certainly was not, and now the people around me seem to think that I'm ready, and I'm suddenly facing doubt.

It's a confusing time to be me right now, that's for sure.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Running a marathon: How it all went down

GUYS:  I ran a marathon today!

Holy crap that happened.  ALL of the feels happened.  It was not a sunshine and roses race, not by a longshot. I didn't anticipate that it would be, though.  Just as the half marathon was once a worthy opponent, now I turn to larger ways of getting my behind handed to me on a platter.  It did not disappoint.

The first thing you should know is that this was not the race that I wanted to be my "first" (and possibly last fora very long time) marathon.  There is a smaller marathon that goes right through the best parts of Boulder County that I wanted to use to pop my marathon running cherry, but the above pictured childhood best friend was on a cruise, so we picked this one.  And it's a good thing, too:  the awesome race in Boulder County was cancelled a few weeks before it was supposed to go down, and the organizer is looking at fraud charges.  Cool stuff.

The next thing you should know, or actually remember, is that I've been working away at this goal for 10.5 months now.  Remember this post?  It's amazing how many of those goals I saw come to life this year. 

My marathon morning was carefully planned to be as easy and stress free as possible.  It was mandatory that we pick up packets either Friday or Saturday, in order to avoid race morning chaos.  So I woke up at 5:15 on Saturday morning, and drove an hour to pick up my packet and get a picture that made me look awfully wide.  Professional photographer, my rear end.

Shae and her husband met me at the expo, and it was fun to get to spend some time with them.  The rest of Saturday was kind of a blur of regular errands, chores, and trying to figure out all of my marathon preparations.  You have to be really ready if you're going to run for that long, and I wanted to ensure that I was as ready as I could be.  So I staged all of my things in our office, carefully laid out to make life easy on my brain at 5:00am.  Garmin peacefully charging on the computer, clothes over the back of a chair, socks, shoes, even the headband I was going to wear.

Getting ready for the race is where things started to go wrong.  Why?  Oh, because that peacefully charging Garmin continued to stay plugged into my computer for the entirety of my run.  Oops.  So instead, I downloaded the RunKeeper app (free), and used its interval timer.  I had zero timing or pace data, but some random strangers I met in the port-a-potty line, Shae, and I all agreed that it would probably be good if I didn't spend my entire first marathon stressing out about paces, splits, and goal times, but instead let the race come to me.

So that is what I did:  I let the race come to me.  For the first 16 miles, my paces ranged from 11:30 to 12:45.  I felt really good up until mile 8, when my feet started to hurt, but I determined that finishing a marathon was going to hurt, whether I walked or ran, and one of those would get me to the finish line (and food) much faster.  So I pushed on.  Things started to get ugly around 16 miles, and only got worse from there to the finish line.  Longer walking breaks, fewer smiles and cheers for my fellow runners.  I knew that the marathon would be work, but I was surprised at how alone and isolated I was on the course - Denver Rock 'n' Roll maintains a strict 6 hour cutoff for the marathon, and I think that it discourages a lot of newbie runners or slower runners from even trying.  When we split off from the half marathon at mile 13, I went from being surrounded by hundreds of other runners to being out there with a small handful (on average, I could see 5-10 runners ahead or behind me).  It was okay for a bit, because we could see faster marathon runners going in the other direction, so there were still people to cheer for.  Then we entered the park of doom.

Duhn, duhn, duhn.  Seriously.  Ask anyone who ran about Cheeseman Park, and they will all say the same thing.  It was winding, and it was desolate, and it went on FOREVER (or 2 miles.  It felt like forever).  It was beautiful ,the park separates the Denver Museum and the Zoo, but gosh, it was tough to run by myself in there for so dang long.  Mile 16, the mile that signaled the beginning of the end took place in there.

By mile 19, I felt utterly demoralized and cooked.  That's because at mile 19, you have to run by EVERYONE FINISHING THE RACE.  That's right, there are people cheering, and there's noise, and finishers are being announced, and there you are, with 7.2 miles to go.  I tried reminding myself that that is just "a shorter long run", and easy to put in the books.  But I also knew that I was working multiple blisters, was exhausted, out of fuel (thankfully the aid station at mile 19 had some Gu left - I really needed it!), and over running.  I was trying to text Ammon to come bring me some fuel while I was running, which wasn't working out so well.  He called me at mile 20, as I was walking and feeling like I had made a terrible mistake signing up for a full marathon.  I knew that I could finish within the time limit at that point, and I told him that I was thinking about walking it in.  I then told him that I had to go, because I was "kind of in the middle of a thing".  This, by the way, is the best thing to tell someone when they call you and you're in the middle of a marathon.

The good news was, even though I was tempted, oh so tempted, to just walk my way to the finish line, I didn't give up.  I readjusted so that I walked for 4 minutes, then jogged for 1, a reversal of my usual run/walk interval.  It wasn't ideal, but it was my race, and I wanted to finish it on my terms.  That meant running as much as I could, even if it amounted to hardly anything.  I also set the intention to jog as many downhills as I could, figuring at that point that I needed to take every advantage I could.
 That's the only picture I took on course.  Mile #24 signaled hope for me, hope that I might not die out there.

Eventually, oh so slowly, the last .5 mile set itself up before me.  There was a bar that had tons of people on the patio, and when I came plodding by, by myself at this point, they started screaming and cheering for me.  I was so overcome that I started crying, and didn't stop.  Those people put some rocket fuel in my legs, because I was able to start jogging again, and made my way to the finish line, where Ammon was waiting for me with so much enthusiasm and excitement, that the Emcee asked if I knew that guy, and when I nodded through my sobs, she added that "It seems like he really likes me".  I think so too, Emcee lady.  

And that's the story all about how I became a marathon runner over the course of 26.2 miles and 5:49:11 today.  I'll take it with pride, because those miles and I fought and battled with each other.  In the end, I won.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

It's obviously taper time.

I am so over running right now.

This girl is faking it, while she just hopes to make it

Oh wait... am I allowed to be saying that with less than 2 weeks to go before my marathon?  Crap.  To be honest, my hear has just not been in it the last several weeks.  I feel tired.  My body is recovering slower.  My hunger is vast and endless one day, and nonexistent the next.  Essentially, the triple threat of work, school, and marathon training have defeated my confidence that any of this is possibly going to end well.

Why do I tell you this?  To tell you that I AM going to trudge through this, and I am not going to let these hard times win.  I'm too close to the finish to not forge ahead at this point.  So even though I had to skip my long run over the weekend, and even though I don't feel like I did a "good enough" (whatever that means) job of training, I'm going to push ahead, and let the outcome be what it is.

After that, though?  I'm taking a good long break from running.  Probably until January, unless I get some crazy inkling to run again, but really, I doubt that will happen.  My current plan is to take 2-3 weeks off after the marathon, and then start PiYo after that.  Yup, another Beach Body program.  I haven't had great results with their programs ever, but I'm hopeful that a low-impact program from them might just do the trick.  Also, I think that the core work is long overdue, especially since...

Once PiYo is done, I'll be starting triathlon training!!!  I've mentioned before, but completing an olympic distance triathlon has been a dream of mine since I was 15 years old.  Even training for one fills me with such joy and anticipation that I can hardly stand it.

I am clearly in taper mode... hating running, feeling anxious, sore, and in need of recovery.  This could not have been better timed had I tried.  Please excuse me as I'm over here hydrating, taking hot baths, and trying to figure out my hunger signals...

Saturday, October 4, 2014


For the last year, I have really felt like someone stole my mojo.  Full on Austin Powers style, just drew it right out of me with a giant syringe.

While it probably is a little passe, I'm just going to come out with my excuse as to why this happened:  I had a VERY creative, labor intensive, crafty wedding.  And it left me feeling drained.

The only thing that we're wearing/holding in this picture that wasn't crafted was my necklace, which is a family heirloom.  However, my mom crafted a coordinating bracelet and set of earrings.   It is pretty magical to look back and remember picking out all of these things, and ushering them through each stage of development.  I'm obsessed with the dresses, even still.  I want to make myself one of the bridesmaids' dresses someday, I had originally picked out the pattern to be my rehearsal dinner dress, but decided that it was the perfect "vintage picnic" look for my gorgeous bridesmaids.  And I'm not sure if I mentioned before or not, but the bridesmaid's jewelry was another of my mom's creations, based on a design that I dreamt up.  The three strands are all able to be worn separately, braided together, or twisted, as shown, and my mom made them all 3 different sets of earrings so that they could mix and match the jewelry in the future.  She is crazy talented.
Truly, I would not have had my wedding any other way... unless it was a destination wedding on a beach somewhere with only 10 guests... but for the big family wedding that was asked of us, it was exactly as I wanted it.  I never would have anticipated though, how long I would feel uninspired after the fact.  Maybe part of it has been how thoroughly I threw myself back into work, and running, and school, or the fact that Gunner came into our lives, and I'd rather chill with him than get out the glue gun and glitter.  I don't know.

I do know that I woke up this morning, and I did some reading and research for my Eastern religions class, and found myself getting inspired again.  I find myself longing to create, to manifest positivity.  It's incredible to feel even a hint of this creative spark again.  I have felt so... dead inside without it.  I kept trying to fill that hole with other things, but it just hasn't worked.  A sense of joy and peace washed over me, just as I felt the urge to paint again.  Painting isn't something I do often, and it's certainly not something I am good at, but it is something that I enjoy doing.  So I'm going to go dig out my painting supplies, browse pinterest for the easiest possible painting project out there, and I'm going to do it.  I'm going to revive my creative soul

It feels so good to finally be re-inspired.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Grown-up thoughts

I was just thinking, literally a minute or so ago, how much I miss using this as the place where I process all of the nonsense in my life.  Things have been overwhelming to say the least in the last year and a half for me.  Every time I think I have a handle on life, on where I'm going, and what I'm doing, I get a dodgeball thrown at my face.  It feels pretty intense.  So maybe I should talk about it a little bit, because, you know, that's what I used to do, and it used to work pretty well, so maybe it will again.

Work.  OMG, work.  Remember how I mentioned back in June/July that my position was being reconfigured, and I was moving offices?  That happened, which made life spicy for a while.  It was all starting to settle down and be manageable when **THWAP** a dodgeball in the form of a co-worker being terminated hit me in the solar plexus.  This co-worker had a pretty big job, and now we all are going to be filling in the gaps as we can until the position is re-filled.  Oh, and they decided to reconfigure her office so that it seats two people, and I will be moving in there.  That will make office #7 for me since my old company sold to this agency January 1, 2013.  My work mantra seems to be "Embrace the change".

Remember office #5?  I miss that one, and its space to do yoga.  That was an incredible 5 months.

Home.  We are finally starting to settle in, after some false starts.  This place has some big issues with it, but we know this is more of a transition home for us vs. a long term home.  The price was right, it has the most amazing yard in the world, and a place for Ammon to putz around in with his woodworking.  Also, we bought a Washer and Dryer about a week ago, which was magical, except that the dryness sensor in the dryer seems to be malfunctioning, since it takes a good 3 hours to dry clothes, because it decides that clothes are dry after 20 minutes, and switches over to air tumble only.  Thank goodness for warranties, right?

Love.  Still in it, with that husband of mine.  He's pretty great.  I think I'll keep him.  Glad that this relationship is NOT throwing things at me.  That would be rude.

School.  Totally over it.  This semester is an amalgamation of classes I've been putting off.  It's labor intensive, and stressful, but surprisingly interesting.  Looking forward to having my Associates degree in December, and transferring to a 4 year University (Professional studies division) come January.  I'm impatient with the entire process, and ready to go out and get a "big kid" job in Accounting.

I have other thoughts, you know, baby thoughts, animal mother thoughts, runner thoughts, but I'm too tired to translate all of those right now.  So I guess this post is just some of my grown-up thoughts and feelings.  Bo-ring.  Hopefully I can rally with something more interesting next time.  But let's be honest... This is 3 posts in as many days from me - given my recent track record, it might be another month before I get to those...

Monday, September 29, 2014

A 20 mile run by the numbers

Well, it happened.  I had my 20 mile run, and I finished it.  It was hard.  Brutally so.  As I sit here writing this up on Sunday night, my body is still aching and moaning at me.  But I did it.  The last "big" run before the marathon.  In 3 weeks, I will be a marathoner.  Eek.  For those of you who like the numbers, I thought I would share some interesting figures with you from my Saturday long run.

39,030 - the number of steps my Garmin Vivo fit recorded over my run
76 - the number of ounces of fluid I consumed
49 - the number of times I reminded Ammon that I had just run 20 miles on Saturday (approx)
20.04 - my actual total mileage
12:25 - my average pace (in min/mile)
10 - the number of minutes that I took as a break in the middle of my run (I did 2 different routes, and stopped at home for more water and food in between)
5:35am - the time that I left the house Saturday morning
5 - number of snacks consumed during my run
4:08 - my total running time (hr:min)
3 - total number of selfies taken
#1 at 5:30 am - first time running with a headlamp!

#2 - 11 miles in, still smiling!

#3 ... and I'm spent
2 - number of bathroom stops
1 - pair of Hanes box briefs seen on the side of the road

Do you have any fun stats from your weekend?

Ever seen anything ridiculous on the side of the road?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

An update on my Eastern religions class

Lately in my Eastern religions class, we have been discussing Shinto and Hinduism.  It's pretty awesome studying these religions, there is so much culture and history wrapped up with them, and it feel really cool to gain some additional perspective on ancient religions that still exist today.

It's really sad to me how so many people are closed minded about religion, or about understanding other people.  I study religion, because I want to understand people better.  I want to comprehend what they believer, and why they feel that way.  I feel like this is especially true with Shinto and Hindu, because these traditions have been around for such a long time - there is a really rich sense of tradition, and importance around religion.

I've actually studied aspects of Hinduism for years, and have a deep, abiding respect for Hatha Yoga, a practice that actually has its roots in Hinduism.  I would say that my own personal new-agey form of spirituality is most closely aligned with Hinduism.  I believe in a communal divine, that every thing in this world has a divine spark within it, and that when we do wrong against someone, or something else, we are doing wrong against ourselves, because we are all linked through our divine natures.  Hinduism makes a compelling case for understanding, and for peace, a message that seems to be overlooked all too often.

As for Shinto, it isn't necessarily a religion I feel any calling to.  It's an interesting religion, and I can see the draw that it holds in Japan.  However, it is uniquely suited to Japan, and doesn't really translate well outside of the Japanese culture.  Some practices, such as the remembrance of ancestors, and Zen, make sense to my Western mind, but are not really practices that I see myself personally undertaking.  I think that, for me, Zen would just be a giant exercise in frustration.

Has studying these two religions changed me?  Yes and no.  It has expanded my mind to the cultures of other people, so that I can better understand and accept their views.  However, my own views on life and spirituality have not shifted in a tangible way as a result of learning about them in a class.  I think that religion is too personal, and requires deep exploration and consideration that extends far beyond what a class can teach in order to move the spirit.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Is it crossing a line?

I'm pretty sure that I mentioned it before, but one of my classes this semester is an Intro to Eastern Religions, and one of the assignments this semester is to record our personal spiritual thoughts and journey in a creative and meaningful way.  Naturally for me, it seemed obvious that I would just choose to blog about it, as the whole thing just feels like one big exercise in self-experimentation, which was the point of this blog for me in the first place... a space where I could share my self-experiments.

I told Ammon about this assignment not that long ago.  I could have sworn that I had mentioned it to him sooner, but if I had, I didn't really explain it well to him, because when I brought it up to him this time, he seemed to grow very annoyed at the instructor for assigning something like this in the first place.  And I totally see his point:  I attend a public, state funded community college.  To ask students to talk about their personal religious experiences, and then be graded on it seems... like it's in a gray area of what could be considered acceptable.  I don't mind taking religions classes, because I find the scholarly study of religion to be fascinating.  I love finding out about what people believe in, and how that affects the way they live their lives.

I never expect that in a religion class, that microscope will be turned back on me, and I will have to share the thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that I am bringing to the table.  I don't like sharing my personal story of my ups and downs with faith and religion.  It feels too intimate, too stripped bare for the whole world to see and judge.  I study religion outside of school to help me understand people better, and to help me understand myself better.  I look for myself, and my heart in religions, and sometimes I can see it there, and other times I can't.  I study religion in school because it's required.  I am transferring to a private Catholic University in January, and they require 12 credits of religious studies.  It feels like my two worlds are colliding, and I'm not entirely certain about this convergence.

I am trying to keep an open mind about this experiment.  Until Ammon brought up his concerns, I wasn't thinking too deeply about the parts of this experiment that would challenge me, or make me uncomfortable.  I just thought about the fact that maybe I could start to organize and clarify my own position on faith.  Every time I think I have it figured out, it changes.  That's okay, I think.  It means that I'm changing too.  Change is good, right?

Monday, September 8, 2014

Adorable running tan lines, and the run that owned me

Quite simply put, my run yesterday owned me.  It owned me hard.

If you can't tell, I had to sit down in my car just to take a picture of my feet after it was over (because obviously, it's the only logical thing to do).  I mean... you would think that bending at the waist would not be a big deal, but oh gosh, it is right now.  It so is.  Also, a fun fact:  I have a tan line this year that starts just below my knees, and ends on my upper thighs from wearing compression socks and running shorts on my long runs.  It's adorable.

Here's the thing that nobody tells you about "running" 18 miles.  It's just straight up hard.  Your body starts feeling each and every step you take, you've been running for hours on end at that point, and you are just ready for it to be DONE.  However, you also learn a lot of valuable lessons when you run that far:

I ran out of water 3.5 miles from the end, right as it got crazy hot outside.  I could go back a half mile to a water fountain, but that would have meant adding an extra mile to my run.  I decided it wasn't worth it, and that  would trek on.  Looking back, it was a poor decision, but I'm glad to be learning now that I will need a TON of fluid between miles 12 and 20. 

I also learned that I need to adjust my fueling based on my running time, and not take fuel at certain distance intervals.  I ended up under-fueled on my run, because I was running a lot slower, but taking in fuel according to my distance traveled.  Another hard lesson learned.

I remembered that there is no shame in walking.  A lot.  Sometimes, your body just needs the break so that it can get back in the swing of things a few minutes later.  And it beats the alternative of being curled up on the sidewalk, because you tried to be the tough lady, and pushed beyond the limits of safety.

I also experimented with using Honeystinger waffles as fuel, and had some darn good results.  They aren't as sweet as chews and gels, which is really super awesome, as that much pure sugar can really get tough to bear.  I'm going to keep working with them, and hope that they will continue to be incredible.

I got to remember how awesomely comfortable it is to lay on the floor.  I refuse to lay on my bed or the couch when I am that sweaty/disgusting.
I learned that I am capable of running too hard at a half marathon, and then turning around 6 days later and finishing 18 miles.  HOWEVER, I learned that this is probably not the best idea for people not accustomed to these type of back to back long runs.

I learned that REI employees are extremely understanding when you are standing in their store a few hours post run, and you can't find something that is right in front of you.  And that they will also be very encouraging when they find out how far you just ran, and that you have an upcoming marathon.  They praised me for being upright and walking without assistance.

I learned that glacial is an actual walking speed that I am capable of acheiving.

Did you learn anything interesting about yourself this weekend?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Slowing it down

I slowed down yesterday.  Way down.

Well, not in everything.  In running, really, but it felt like a huge deal to do so.  I'm in that place where I see other runners who are much faster than me, and it is hard to swallow the notion that I might never be a 7 min/mile runner.  That is so far from the realm of my realities right now, and thinking about it really brings me down.  It drives me to push too hard in my training, and to be "let down" by runs that aren't quite as fast as others.  I just want to be good at sports, dang it.

This is what happens when a tired, burned out wanna be marathon runner just can't take it anymore.  The selfies get EXTRA fun.  But this is a great demonstration of what I do after I run too hard. I collapse sideways on the bed and refuse to move for anything less than donuts.

So, all of that to say, it is hard for me to just go slow and enjoy my running journey as it is right now.  I'm an almost 30 year old who took up running, because that's what all the other bloggers were doing 2 years ago, and I had a dream of being a triathlete.  I accidentally grew to like, and maybe almost love running, even though it doesn't always seem to love me back.  It's now time to accept that there is nothing wrong with running slower than everyone and their 90 year old great aunt Betty.  So what if I don't get a sub-5 hour finish at Denver Rock 'n' Roll???  I'm pretty sure that nobody at the finish line is going to start pointing and laughing at the slow chick who is plodding her tired booty towards that finish line.  And even if I were to have the worst day ever, and get swept when the course time limit is met, well, I will have tried my best.

So I slowed down my running pace.  You know what?  It felt amazing.  I finished my run feeling better than I have in weeks, which is shocking, since it was my recovery run after a half marathon that I pushed myself way too hard in.  I keep trying to make my race paces my training pace, and that doesn't seem to be working so well for me, but darn it if I don't really just want it that badly.  The amazing thing is, that when I slowed it all down, and just let my body do its thing SLOWLY, I found those things that had been missing from my runs lately.  The joy, the clarity, the peace, all came flowing back in, almost as if they'd been there all along, just waiting for me to slow down enough to grasp them.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Oh, I have a blog???

It seems like an awful lot of work to blog lately.  I mean, I have to open a browser window, and then type?  And add pictures?  This is crazy, and obviously too much for me lately.
However, one of my classes this semester is on Eastern Religions, and the instructor wants us to document our own spiritual journeys in a personal, meaningful way.  Writing a blog about it was one of the main options, and I pretty much decided that since I 1) already have a blog, and 2) have a blog that is sort of close enough to that specific topic, I would kill two birds with one stone.
Poor birds.  Cheep cheep. 

Some thoughts on life lately, then.  It's been moving too dang fast, and I haven't taken enough moments to stop and take everything in, just as it is right at that moment.  We got to go out to one of Ammon's favorite places in the whole world on Saturday, and I was reminded that I am moving too fast.  I'm not soaking it all in and appreciating the good that is all around us.  It takes the perfect sunbeams that would make Thomas Kincaid weep in order to remind me that slowing down, even stopping isn't counter-productive, it's soul enriching.

Adventures add so much to life.  Cajoling my mom into going stand-up paddle boarding with me was a highlight of my summer.  Neither of us was very good at it, and it was a serious challenge, but we had a lot of fun, and did something we don't normally do.

When in doubt, the answer is always more donuts.  Ammon mentioned donuts on Sunday when we were on our way to lunch, but then would not buy me any.  After my half marathon yesterday, I bought some dang donuts.  It was an outstanding decision.

Also, it's the first business day of the month, which means that it's rent time.  Good thing I'm keeping this short and sweet (hence the donut picture).  What are your current thoughts?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Being happy for others

I had a dream about one of my sorority sisters the other night.  It was a sister that I was relatively close to when we were in the house.  We rode on bike team together, and she was my "older" Diamond sister.  "Older" only because she joined as a freshman, and I joined as a sophomore, because we were in the same grade.  I wish I could say that we were closer... we just never clicked that way.  But she is a good person, and I do still care about her, and so after having a dream about her, I decided that now, 7 years since we've had a real conversation, would be a good time to reach out.  Sure, we've interacted a tiny bit on Facebook, and we're connected on LinkedIn (are you on LinkedIn?  I'm kind of obsessed right now with it), but I haven't asked her how she's doing in 7 years or so.

A throwback pho-to.

The funniest thing happened too.  She told me how she was doing, and when she bragged about how awesome and amazing her life is, talking about having absolutely everything I have been pushing forward to find in life, I only felt jealous for a minute before I was over the moon happy for her that she is at such an outstanding place in her life.

A year ago, I wouldn't have been able to feel that way.  I would have been overcome by that jealousy.  I would have responded politely and then gone about my business for another 7 years or so.  I mean, she's throwing in my face everything that I don't have!  It's like she knows that she has it better than me or something!

...She doesn't have anything better than me.  She has a great job that she loves with room for advancement.  So do I.  Not only that, I'm still in school for my new career, and I have further to grow.  She has a husband she loves, and who thinks the world of her.  Me too.  And between us, mine is much more handsome.  She has an adorable little boy who she thinks is the smartest, cutest little boy in the entire world.  I get a full night's sleep every single night, because I don't have to wake up with a little one.  And when my baby comes, like my husband, it's gonna be cuter than hers, because they are mine.

This little life of mine, however imperfect it is, is a great, beautiful, spectacular Kristen Lehnig life.  And it deserves to be cherished as such.  And her life is a great, beautiful, spectacular life too.  Yes, I want some of the things that she has for myself, but overall, I couldn't trade this life, or my journey for the world.  Instead, I'm just going to keep on with my life, and do the best to celebrate the lives of those around me too.

What can we all celebrate you for today?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Nothing of importance

I don't really know what to talk about today, but not because I have nothing to say... more because I have too much to say, and it is all word vomit on top of word vomit.  I feel like if I start talking about one thing, a volcano of something else is going to spew all over it.  Maybe I should try, though.  Yes?  Sure.

1)  Running has been all about embracing the suck lately.  It's been hot, and humid, and I feel tired almost every time I go for a run.  Nothing feels truly good or natural about it, but I'm pressing onward, simply continuing to seek that golden zone that I was in during half marathon training where running felt magical and incredible.  I just keep telling myself that these runs are engaging my mental toughness, and my ability to persevere.

I'm obviously smiling because I'm done.  Not because my 7 mile run on Sunday inspired joy and happiness in my life.

2)  I have had an awesome blog post bopping around in my head for weeks now about how runners are exactly like small children.  I really should write that dang post, it has all of the makings of being funny.  But I'm concerned that I haven't been a funny person (in my writing) lately, and I've forgotten how.

3)  Along those lines, I haven't felt like myself for the last year or so.  I feel like the crisis mode version of myself... all the time.  Just going from one big thing to the next, without taking the time to find joy, or be happy... let alone live a Radiant life.  I feel like a phony.  Like I should be bigger, better, more somehow than what I've been recently.  It makes me sad, because I don't know how to get back to that place.  Life doesn't appear to be slowing down, and I'm not sure that the problems that started to bring me down in the first place are ever going to go away.  It's going to take a lot of work and a lot of action to become that person again, and I'm honestly terrified of the entire prospect.  I do, however, know that the way I am living right now is not good enough, and that I deserve more than this.  My family deserves better from me.

4)  We are nesting!  After getting all of our junk moved out of the old place, we totally stalled out on getting everything unpacked and set up over here.  We definitely made progress with that over the weekend; We moved the curio cabinets into the house from the garage, we got the dining room table and chairs repaired and set up, I think Ammon unpacked some other stuff, and then he putzed around in his new "shop" for the rest of the weekend.  Oh!  And he re-wired a lamp, and got our hand me down lawnmower running.  He was in beastmode this weekend.
To reward all of Ammon's accomplishments, I made homemade pizza, and it was our first meal on our table in its new home.  He remarked on how fancy it was, so I had to break out the candlesticks and take the drama up a notch.  You can see the curios behind him, because we live in a "cozy" little home.  Also, boxes, because when I say we got back into it this weekend, I mean it's still just the tip of the iceberg... still so much to tackle.

5)  While he did everything and more, I did exercisey things, grocery shopped, and cooked/prepped a mountain of food.  And I tried to read some blogs, but at this point, it's pretty much a losing battle to read blogs, I'm so behind.  Oh well.

6)  School starts again tomorrow.  Eeep.  This is my last semester at the local community college before I transfer to a 4 year university in January.  It feels sort of like I just started working on my Accounting degree, but it also feels like I have been working on this forever.  I'm just ready to be a big girl Accountant already.

Well... OINTB is on, and that feels important right now.  So I'm going to leave off.  Have an outstanding day!