Monday, April 14, 2014

The scooter is back! And thoughts on yoga

Oh hey!  Wow... what a weekend.  I knocked out my 9 mile run, took my first ever ice bath, AND my scooter was found by the Loveland PD.  All in all, a pretty big weekend in our household.  The scooter is in desperate need of love... those pesky thieves did an awful lot of damage to my pride and joy.  We're hoping that our local dealership can have her good as new for a reasonable price, though :)
 Like how dhe now only has one caterpiller-antenna style rearview mirror.  Womp, womp.

I could write a pretty expansive blog post about the scooter situation, and I probably will some other time.  Right now, though, I want to talk about an intangible gift that yoga has given me, and how I am still reaping the benefits of that gift today.

Way back before Ammon was even on my radar, I was really into hot yoga.  There was a studio in Fort Collins that I found, then fell in love with, that at the time was focused on this branch of yoga.  I started regularly attending, and steadily saw significant improvements in my body.  I had done a little bit of yoga before that, but nothing quite like this, or even half as regularly.

What struck me more than the poses, more than the changes I saw physically, were the things that the yoga instructors would say to us mid-pose.  Those little kernels of wisdom designed to help you work through the mental challenges you face during an intense yoga practice.  They struck me so much, in fact, that those same little nuggets whisper themselves to me whenever the going gets rough.  Little things, like:

Let go of that which does not serve you.

All things are cyclical;  sometimes you have challenges.  Without them, you can not fully understand joy.

Acknowledge all thoughts, and all emotions, because they come to you for a reason.

Obviously, nothing earth-shattering.  But at the time, while struggling in so many ways, these little things truly rocked me to my core.  They still do.  When I'm getting tired on a long run, when I'm ready to give up, when I'm not sure I can breathe through whatever it is I'm experiencing, these little sayings pop into my mind.  They remind me that everything is ephemeral, and this discomfort I am feeling is fleeting.  They allow me to process what's going on in my body and determine if I do need to back off, or if I can hold on just a fraction longer.  And when I'm at work, or studying, and things are not working out quite the way they should, they help me re-evaluate and effectively prioritize.

What little thoughts, sayings, pearls of wisdom keep you encouraged and motivated when you're facing a tough time?  I hope they help you today if you're facing the post-weekend blues!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Coffee date

Oh, hey there.  I just opened up my browser window, not 100% sure what it is that I want to write here.  Something "interesting" is bound to happen whenever I do that, right???  Interesting or insane, I suppose.  Meh.  So let's call this a coffee date post of sorts, where I just throw a bunch of nonsense at you in rapid fire, and you all nod your heads wisely and pretend to care about the mundanities of my life.  Sounds good?  I thought so.

If we were having coffee today...

...I would splurge and take us to the absolutely adorable coffee shop down the road from my place.  We would walk there, because the weather has been unbelievably gorgeous the last few days.  I would encourage you to get something with the house-made chocolate hazelnut whipped cream, and to try one of the breakfast burritos.  And once I had you all carbed up and blissed out, then I'd get to the good stuff.

I would tell you how running has been a struggle lately.  Not because I don't want to be out there running, either.  For the first time in a long time, I WANT to go run.  No, I am struggling because my body is at that point where it's sore, and it's tired, and I'm afraid that it can't take too much more, but I know that it only has to hang in there for a few more weeks before it gets a well-deserved rest.   I would go on to talk about how, finally, after the last 2 years of agony with running, I have found a running strategy that makes sense to my body, and is helping me have real results.  There is a confidence factor now when I approach long runs that hasn't previously been there, and that is a huge relief.  At this point, I know the miles are there, and the base is there:  I just need to be mindful not to injure myself right now.

Along those lines, I would launch into a diatribe about this My Fitness Pal Challenge I'm a part of right now, and how it's sucking an awful lot of awesome out of running for me.  I run primarily so that I can eat whatever I want, and this challenge doesn't allow the room for that, per se.  We are allowed to set our calorie limits and whatnot, but eating treats causes you to lose points, and there is money on the line with this, so treats are a no-go around here right now.  Alyx is my accountability partner through all of this madness, and the poor girl has to suffer through my texts about just wanting a damn cupcake.  It's getting to feel a little bit like the Shining around here, except that I am totally allowing myself beer.  And coffee.  So really, it's just the lack of cupcakes and fro-yo that is tearing me up.

I'm sure by this point, you'd probably ask me about Ammon, because I would have spent 45 minutes going into exacting and excruciating detail about my workouts and food stuffs.  And I would tell you about how he is doing well.  He's back to working out at the gym, and he's making 30 look pretty fly, if you know what I mean.  Then I would drop the bomb that has weighed heavy on both of our hearts for a few months now:  His work runs out of funding at the end of May.  They have submitted a grant proposal, but we won't know the results until late June, and then the money won't be in until later in the summer.  We had hoped that he would be able to find something else, but there's been no movement on that front, so now we're settling in for a fiscally conservative summer while he works for no pay and we wait for the funding and a very happy back-pay check.  It's caused a lot of stress and anxiety for both of us, and we think we have it all figured out, but only time will tell.   I can say that, given every other financial crisis our relationship has survived, I have faith that we will weather this storm pretty well too, we'll just have to buckle down a little tighter.

For me, a conversation isn't complete anymore without bringing up Gunner at least twice.  He is pretty much one of the best things to ever happen to me.  So I'd probably share with you some of the training struggles we have had recently, and how I feel like I can't do anything right with him.  I imagine that everyone looks down their noses at the way we manage our dog, and I can't blame them for that.  I would judge me too.  We are trying so hard, though.  Every stinking day we try with him.  I am convinced that it has to stick, and he'll start to normalize soon.  

I mean, look into those eyes and tell my that they are the eyes of a vicious dog who likes to attack other dogs.  It isn't possible.  We just need to work through the trauma and the fear he's holding onto.

Around this time, you'd be shifting in your seat, giving me those subtle cues that you're ready to go.  So we'd walk back to my place, and in that 10 minute walk back, you would finally have your chance to fill me in on your life.  I'd realize that it's far more interesting than what I had to say, and feel bad for wasting so much of our precious time together on my petty concerns.

As we parted ways, I would be so thankful to have had a few moments with such a dear friend to catch up and caffeinate.  So thanks for reading, and being a part of this today.  It helped tremendously.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

7 things bringing me joy right now

It's truly the little things in life that make me want to jump for joy.  You know, like running PR's, the ideal parking spot at the store being available... those little intangibles bring me so much joy in life that it isn't even funny.  There are a few things that I know right now are going to, or have already made my life awesome.  I'm sharing them in list form today, because I'm lazy, and I like lists.

1)  My work is offering lunchtime yoga on Tuesdays now.  For free.  I'm so happy about this, you have no clue.

2)  I wore makeup yesterday.  I was hoping to review the foundation that Influenster sent to me, but it's the wrong shade :(.  Never fear though, once I have procured the right shade of peach for my cheeks, I'll be all over that.  But since I never ever wear makeup, I took a picture as proof.

3)  I don't wanna jump the gun, but I DID try the pen that those nice Influenster folks sent, and that right there might be a new long-term relationship.  If (and only if) I can find it in blue ink.  This one is a black ink, which makes my lease-loving heart cry.

Handy tip, you will almost never see companies that do legal-type thingies using black pens, because it's too difficult to tell the difference between originals and photocopies.  Blue ink all the way!  Oh, and I do still use a paper calendar at work.  It's handy and awesome, and I totally adore it.

4) I called my mom after work, because it had been almost a week since I'd last talked to her.  She started telling me about how in her exercise class the instructor does a yoga segment once a week, and how all of the ladies like to remind each other to "engage their amoula bahndas".  I'm sure I just butchered the Sanskrit there, but for those of you not in the yoga know, these ladies giggle over reminding each other to engage their kegels.  I straight up snorted I was laughing so hard about the thought of my mother and all of her cancer-survivng friends using the "pretty term" for reminding each other of their pelvic floors.

5) Ammon's installing a new towel bar in our bathroom right now, since our old one ripped out of the wall over the weekend.  As it turns out, our old one was only into a stud on one side, instead of on both.  Fun.

6) My Julep Maven box arrived.  It has the most perfect hot pink and tangerine nail polishes, plus a really pretty, subtle peach colored blush, which I'm actually sporting in the above picture.  I'm thinking that I prefer Julep's makeup to their nail polishes, as every single makeup item they've sent me has been craze-amaze.

7) It hasn't snowed for at least 3 days.  Winning.

Uhhhhhhh.... I really wanted to try to think of 10, but considering I decided to write this after no longer feeling capable of doing my linear regressions homework for Cost Accounting, I should have known better.  7 is good.  It's a lucky number, and it's a prime number, so I'll go with it.

What little intangibles make your week totally awesome?

Monday, April 7, 2014

My hips don't lie.... they are grumpy

It may not have been the best idea to chase down that 2 minute 10k PR on Saturday.  Holy cow my hips, glutes, and IT bands are talking to me about that decision a bit.  Like, to the point that sitting was uncomfortable yesterday, standing felt exhausting, and the 40 minute hike we did to "stretch out" my legs made me think I was going to die.  Not the best idea, perhaps; worth it, absolutely.  As I was feeling sorry for myself for feeling so blah, all I could do was simultaneously try to remind myself that I had accomplished something big personally, and that it was reason enough to deal with the soreness.

Someone please check in with me along about 6:30pm Mountain Time to find out if I'm still feeling that way after a 50 minute run.  That will be a good indicator.

I had intended to do yoga in addition to our hike, but food shopping and prepping took an awfully long time to complete.  I think I'm going to try to get some in on my lunch tomorrow instead.  Yoga really is the best thing in the world for me.  It can take my hyperactive type-A high strung self, and make me calm and relaxed pretty much instantly.  It also helps me be able to touch my toes, which is pretty hard for me to do sometimes  (for real... I am crazy inflexible).  Oh well, we will be eating like bosses this week... the more that I plan ahead, the more likely it is that we actually eat the things I've planned out.  We've been using the weekly meal plans that Jess has been co-creating, and so far, so awesome.  It's a big change for us, because the plan has me making different dinners throughout the week, but we've actually spent about the same on food as when I was making the same thing every night, and in the long run we're saving even more because we aren't eating out out of sheer boredom with our dinners.  I'm not the best at creating meal plans that maximize the combinations of dinners you can make while also minimizing ingredients needed, so that has been really great as well, because I don't even have to think about it, I just follow the plan and the work has already been done for me.  This is awesome, because my brain is addled with all kinds of Cost and Spreadsheet Accounting Principles lately, and I just don't have it in me to try to be creative in any aspect of my life.

As evidenced by these blog posts recently.  Hmmmmm...  Oh well, that's too much thinking about non-running or Accounting based topics.  Maybe someday I'll get my free time and my creative energy back.  I'm not holding my breath, though.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

4 weeks

I keep breaking blogging "rules" right and left.  It feels really good.  Don't wanna post for a few weekdays?  Not gonna do it.  Decide to post on Sundays instead?  Sure!  That sounds cool.  I'm resigned to the fact that being a successful blogger is not really in the cards for me, and that instead, this space will always be exactly what I want it to be, how I want it to be, when I want it to be.  It feels freeing to make these kinds of decisions, and to just go with the flow.

What made me want to post today is the fact that today is 4 weeks from the Lincoln Half Marathon.  How the heck are we here already???  It feels like Alyx and I were JUST talking about signing up for this, JUST registering, JUST discussing our training strategies, and suddenly we've both completed 8 mile weekend runs and are about to turn a serious bend in our training.  The next two weeks my training volume increases pretty substantially... all of my weekday runs increase by 5-6 minutes each, and I have the 9 and 10 mile long runs to look forward to.  This week was a recovery week for me, and it was much needed.  Yes, I scaled back quite a bit the previous week, but I still ran 4 days and got in physical activity every day.  This week, I took 2 legitimate rest days, only had 3 scheduled runs, and my long run was a 10k.  That's a pretty big break for me at this point, which feels weird considering I know that most people would consider it a fairly reasonable training load.  I guess it really is a matter of perspective.

This week's long run was just as awesome as my 8 mile run the week before, which really surprised me.  Awesome for completely different reasons.  My 8 mile run was incredible because I paced it out right, I didn't have tummy trouble, nothing hurt, I didn't feel like I was going to die, and I didn't need a 3 hour nap afterward.  My run yesterday was incredible for the following reasons:

1)  The 10k is actually my favorite running distance.  It's long enough to not hurt like a 5k, but you don't have to start so slow that you feel like you're never going to get to the finish line.  You can take a snack with you if you want, but it isn't as if you're going to die without that extra sugar-boost.  And it's long enough that you don't feel too guilty about splurging later on at dinner just a little.

2)  My hair.  It's finally just long enough that I can put it into pigtails on my runs, instead of just pulling it back with a headband.  I was so excited that I had to take a picture.

Gunner likes to be in all of the pictures.  Also of note, I had to completely change my running outfit, because it felt cold outside.  It wasn't as cold as I thought, and I ended up wishing I was in my original outfit.  Oops.

3)  I ran someplace new.  This has been really important to me this time around, varying my routes as much as possible.  Ammon was headed to his gym for a yoga class, so I caught a ride with him and ran along a really popular walking/bicycling trail that I'd never tried before.  It helped me stay entertained and present in my run, instead of zoning out.  I've been throwing my phone at the bottom of my Camelback for my long runs, so there's no pictures from my run, and it wasn't even really that pretty of a run... it was just nice to try something new.

4)  It was FAST.  I started out much faster than I had anticipated, and was worried that it was going to bite me in the butt.  However, I decided to go with it, and see how long I could maintain my pace.  I was averaging 10:40-ish minute miles for the first 4 miles, and my last 2 were only a little slower. This is only a few seconds slower than my 5k pace was a few weeks ago, and I definitely felt stronger yesterday than I did at the 5k.  Not only was it fast though; it was a new PR for me!

That's right, I managed to finish that 10k in 1:07:56... a whole 2 minutes faster than my previous fastest 10k.  Unlike last week, I did feel like I was going to die a little bit when it was over, but that was alright.  About mile 5, I realized I had a shot at a PR, and I decided to go for it.  It hurts to push it like that sometimes.  However, so worth it when you get to the end and you've done something that makes you feel strong and empowered.

5) I tried out some new compression socks.

EVERY running blogger on the planet seems to be on the ProCompression train.  I had a 40% off coupon code, so I decided to give them a try.  The truth?  They're so-so for me.  I definitely prefer my Nabee compression socks over the PC's, but I'm glad I gave them a shot, and they will continue to be worn in the future... If you guys want a more detailed review of both compression socks, let me know and I'll break it down in better detail sometime.

And it didn't hurt that I got to eat all of the popcorn at the drive-in last night after my run, either.  That was straight up delicious.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I have a marathon back-up plan... sort of

One of the hardest parts of running, for me at least, is comprehending the distance that I am asking my body to cover in a given amount of time.  5 miles feels like nothing in a car, but suddenly when you're mapping out a run, you realize just how far that 5 miles might be.  However, that is nothing compared to how it feels once you are out on the open road actually DOING 5 miles.  Then, you learn just how long the 5,280 feet that make up a mile truly are... times five.

When I first decided to fall in love with running, I was under some grand impression that once I got into the swing of things, running "xyz" distance would become a piece of cake; that it somehow would not seem as long.  I was so incredibly wrong.  I still feel every single step of my weekday training runs.  I still obsessively watch my Garmin or the screen on the treadmill, ticking down those miles.  And every time I'm shocked at just how many footfalls happen within the space of one mile.

So, imagine with me how long a half marathon is for a minute.  13.1 miles.  Sheesh.  How do you even begin to comprehend that???  For me, I know that from my parking lot to my office I have to go 12.5 miles, and that in no traffic, this takes just under 20 minutes.  I know that on my bike, provided I don't have a flat, it takes about 45-50 minutes.  No big deal, right?  Except, that my long running pace is such that a run like this, still 0.6 miles shy of a half marathon will easily take me at least 2 hours and 20 minutes.  I think about this every morning on my way into work, and it absolutely terrifies me.  And this is after having "run" two half marathons.  That distance is still so vast to me that it's incomprehensible most days.  I try not to think about the full marathon too much, it tends to make me reach for a paper bag to hyperventilate into.  Nothing good comes from thinking about running that far.  Ever.

I made the questionable decision to check out what the distance between my house and my parents' house was last night.  They live about 35 minutes south of us, but I never knew exactly how far that actually was, just that it's far enough without being too far.  I was shocked at what my friend, the google, had to say.

You read that right.  I took out my street number and my parents' street numbers so that you all couldn't creep on us quite so easily, and that shortened things just a hair, but yeah... how about that.  If something happens and I can't make my marathon, I can always enlist family and friends to play sag support while I run between the houses.  Clearly, this is a terrible, no good, very bad idea.  Who in their right minds would do this?

Oh yeah.... apparently I would do this, as I've already paid to do so with several thousand of my closest friends in October.  Balls.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Got it from Influenster

It's Monday night at 9:35pm, so basically already past my bedtime.  I apologize in advance for what might happen here as a result.  Consider yourselves warned.

I got a VoxBox from Influenster in the mail.  It's always just like Christmas when that happens around here.  This one was the UniBox.  Since I am [once again] a college student, I wanted to take full advantage of the fact, despite being closer to 30 than I am to 21.  I've gotta say, I have mixed feelings as far as first impressions go...  however, I think that's to be expected when you send a box curated for a 21 year old to an almost 30 year old.  But let's look at the goodies a little bit really quickly.  I would love to hear if you've tried any of these things in your own life!

So far, I'm stoked about the foundation, the lipstick, and the pen.  I already use the unscented version of these tampons, so I can already tell you that I dig them.  And I'm disappointed about the nails.  Maybe if they weren't so... bold.  But truthfully, I can't stand wearing fake nails, so the greatness of this product may be somewhat wasted on me.

Real talk, I LOVE bright pink lipstick.  Truly.  This is so up my alley it isn't even funny.  Back in the day when I sold my soul debt free existence to Mary Kay, I learned a lot about makeup, and how to rock some really fun looks.  I think Ammon and I are going to be having a date night soon so that I can give this a test drive.

I'm most curious about the tea drop thingies.  I've used Mio a little bit in the past, and I'm assuming that it's the same type of concept.  Generally I drink lots and lots of straight up tap water, so getting 64 oz in each day is no problem.  But this might be a great option for those days when I can't stand thinking about one more drop of plain water.  It happens every now and then.

Anyway, that is all that I can engage my mind with right now, as there are puppies howling outside my living room window right now.  Joys of apartment living, people.  Oh the joys.  Have a wonderful day!