Monday Morning Musings

Hope you had a great weekend! More and more, I find myself on Sundays wishing for more Sunday. Hands down, my happiest day of the week. Neither of us has anything we have to do, anywhere we have to go, and we just get to be together and do whatever. Yeah, so this particular Sunday entailed lots of yard work, but that works towards our desire to have lots of backyard parties this Spring and Summer.

Friday night, I got in my last run of the week right after work. Last week was supposed to be my “cut back” week, where I scaled back my mileage and let my body get used to all the miles I’ve been putting on it. In a word, I kinda failed. Friday was going to be a nice 8 mile run, but at mile 7, my turn to head home, I wasn’t “done” yet. OK, maybe earlier than that I realized I’d kinda like to keep going. And so I decided that maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a nice 10 miler to cap off my week and keep my body used to running at least one 10+ mile run per week. So I finished the week with 27 miles, breaking down like this:

M-6 miles, easy

T-no run (spinning class and power pump class, with 35 mins on the ARC trainer)

W-6 miles, speed work

R-5 miles, speed work

F-10 miles easy (with TWO unexpected potty breaks. Boy, that stuff sneaks up on me!)

This post isn’t entirely supposed to be a recap, though I suppose that’s nice. Monday mornings usually bring Pensive Laura, where I reflect on things and generally process some major revelation I had over the weekend. It’s funny-I spend plenty of time running, but on the weekends lately, I go for nice long(ish) walks, and that’s when things seem to come together for me. This weekend, Jeff and I had a reaffirming talk about where we want to live for the foreseeable future. And it’s right here, in the house we live in. I’ve owned this house since May of 2008. It’s seen me through a LOT of tough times. It helped me make a clean break from a bad relationship. It was here for me to mourn the passing of my stepfather. It was mere blocks from where my mom and brother moved back to town to rebuild their lives, and helped me take care of them by proximity. I’ve done a lot of work on this house, and although I have dreams of building our own home with more than one stall garage, bigger kitchen, open concept…this is our home. And knowing that this will be our home for quite a while makes some decisions easier. Maybe I’m in a nesting phase, I don’t know. But it’s nice to have designs on making changes around this house, and knowing I’ll be here to enjoy them for years to come.

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Five Things Friday

1) If I sound cranky, I am! Had to call 2 large companies today to make some account changes, and they are notoriously terrible to work with. I must have said “no, please just cancel the service” 15 times. ARGH! 

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2) Ready for my 8 miler tonight after work, some homemade pizza for dinner, and the Wolf of Wall Street from Redbox. We were just asking when we became hermits, because we rarely go out anymore. Whatever, I’m kind of enjoying the homebody thing. 

3) The rest of the weekend are my “off” running days-but I plan on getting a few walks in, and a LOT of clean up in the yard. Doggie mess, some areas we couldn’t get to in the Fall, and some stuff we’d like to change…there’s plenty of work to be done. And it will FINALLY be nice enough on a weekend to want to spend time out there. Oh, Spring, don’t ever leave me again. 

4) Computer shopping for Jeff’s return to school is like car shopping. We need one, but the buying process…ARGH! NOT anyone’s idea of fun. 

5) THIS. It will probably be me when I get in the car after work today. It’s been a STRESSFUL week! 

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Think About it Thursday

I’ve realized I’m a bit of a whiny blogger-I really only write when I have something to complain about. It’s almost like I want to hold the good things close to my heart, and the bad things I share with the world to ease the burden. That’s a flowery, philosophically mushy way to make “whiner” sound like a good thing. 🙂 

Today, I’m just feeling kind of disappointed in the world. Overstating things again, but it seems like everywhere I look, lifestyle shaming abounds. Are you gay? Plenty of people to renounce your lifestyle and tell you why what makes you happy is WRONG. Not having kids? You don’t even KNOW what life’s about. Into plushies? Whatever’s your thing, man. It just seems to me like the internet gives passive aggression a platform. So much easier to spew your true feelings when you’re shielded by anonymity. 

I don’t judge. I don’t care what’s right or wrong, really-if you’re not hurting someone intentionally with your lifestyle, then do your thing. It just seems like hate has found its medium, and that makes me sad. Why do we care so much about what people do behind closed doors? Maybe it’s because our casual circles have gotten wider with Facebook. You know what that guy from math class 20 years ago is doing. You know what that girl from your hometown ate for lunch. It’s really easy to get judgey when presented with a million lifestyle choices of others every day. So how do we stop it? How do we learn to just let others live their lives? I imagine it’s a conscious effort to not engage in those discussions. To stop that kind of thought when it enters your brain. To know what kind of person you want to be, and then actively pursue being that person. What do you guys think? 

OK, I’ve gotten pretty deep today. To lighten the mood, here’s a picture of a new product I found and must have: 

Bathtub + Wine+Duncan coming over to say hi=Disaster. Bathtub+Wine+Suction cup hook? Life is good. 

Monday Musings

Monday, you’re here already? It seems like it was JUST Friday! This weekend was a busy one full of babies. Seriously. Friday night we threw a baby shower for my friend Jen, and Sunday we went to visit Jeff’s cousin and their new baby. In between that baby sandwich, I got in a couple of decent runs and got a little concerned about my knee. So today’s musings are pretty runner-heavy, but I need some advice, people: 

1) Inner knee trouble. Internet research makes me think this is more serious than outer knee stuff-that I relate back to my IT band. This inner knee pain is worse when I’m not running than when I am. Does diminish after some rest, but just feels different than my IT band issues. Hoping it’s nothing serious, I’m going to keep an eye on it. 

2) “Recovery Week”. I’ve had a few people tell me, as well as some internet plans corroborate, that after increasing mileage for about 3-4 weeks, you need a week of less mileage to let your body recover. Seems like a solid idea-how much less do I need to run? And do I sub in other exercise instead of running, or legitimately just slow down for a week to let muscles rebuild? I don’t know. 

Staying pretty busy at work lately, so that’s all I have! Help a sister out if you’ve got some advice! 

Five Runner Things Friday

Running. It’s a strange beast. Runners will gladly spend 80% of their runs chasing the other 20% that are just like floating on clouds. People who don’t run don’t always understand the pain we put ourselves through, why we continue to do something that seems to be breaking our body down slowly but surely, and why we endlessly rehash our last run or race for ways to improve. At some point this year, I made the decision to focus my fitness and training into running, with a few cross training sessions thrown in for good measure. The decision has been a good one-I’ve lost a few pounds and discovered that the more I run, the more I’m able to run. But I’ve learned some lessons lately-and we’re going to talk about them. 

CW-X Pants-Jeff got me a pair of these pants for my birthday. I started ogling them when we were at a sporting goods store a few weeks ago and got obsessed. They claim to stabilize your knee and hip joints, have targeted knee and core support, and are compression for an added bonus. I was understandably wary of the price tag ($100 for a pair of pants I “can’t” even wear besides running?) but I think they’re worth it. I’ve saved them for my long runs the last two weeks, and I was able to run them relatively pain free-and the mileage adds were no big deal. I don’t know that they helped me run farther, but if they’re holding my knee and hip in place so they don’t get out of alignment, they’re worth it. Plus…my butt looks kinda awesome in them. 🙂 

Gu-Also a new thing on my long runs. I’ve been a bit wary of gu over the years. Most of my workouts have been done with a focus on weight loss or at least weight maintenance, so taking IN calories always just sounded like the wrong idea. Obviously, with double digit runs that theory doesn’t work. Need fuel to keep going. With the StrideBox subscription Jeff got me for Valentine’s day (does he know how to treat a runner or WHAT?), I’ve had it right in front of me, so I figured I’d might as well try it. My first Gu experience was OK. I had a vanilla packet and ate it while running. I may have tried to take it in a few bits and got Gu on my hand. That’s pleasant when you have 5 miles left! Last night, I had the Salted Caramel Gu during a potty break. It went down easier, tasted fantastic, and kept me going. My attitude has changed and I may have to grab some for further long runs! 

Chaffing-Yeah. I forgot about this one. Last week, wore a tank top for my long run, and by the time I got home my left arm and corresponding torso area were a bit raw. Gotta ease back into distance while having exposed flesh so I can build up my runners callouses! 

GI Issues-I’ve felt a bit frustrated lately because a lot of my runs have an element of danger to them. I never know when the tummy gurgles will come, but it’s almost a given that I’ll have a scary moment on almost every run. Between that and the fact that after my surgery, I cannot seem to run as far without a potty break as before, it’s been a bit disheartening. My longer routes have to be planned with a public restroom I can stop at in mind. I’m a stubborn person, and like to just keep moving until I’m done-having to stop makes me feel like the run was less successful. But I’ve come to realize that it’s just biology and doesn’t really reflect on my abilities or diminish the run. I still ran 12 miles last night, and the fact that I had to pee and stop at a few stoplights doesn’t change that. It’s been kind of nice to go for a long run lately and realize that most of the “problems” I encounter have nothing to do with my leg strength, cardio capacity, or ability to run the distance but are instead simple biology and mechanics issues that happen to the best of us. 

Toes-I told Jeff last night that when we got in bed, I could feel each time the sheet moved over my “bad toe”. Second toe in on my right side is notoriously bruised and threatening to fall off pretty much any time I’m in a good running phase. It gets blisters on the tip too, so that’s fun. Got a pedicure for my birthday last week-I’ve already pretty much destroyed the polish on my middle toes. I know pedicures for lady runners are a mixed bag-some of us like them, some girls don’t like to alter the natural callouses they gain by putting in their training. I’m definitely a girl who likes to get pampered, and the magic massage they do on my shins is worth a million dollars to me. 

I’m on my fourth 30 mile + week in a row. That’s just unheard of for me. Last night was supposed to be 11 miles, but my technology failed me and I ended up running 12 to make sure I covered my distance. I don’t really know where I plan on stopping the increase in mileage. I’ve never thought I’d be a person who could run a marathon, but it’s starting to seem attainable. I’m just going to keep going until it stops being enjoyable or the distance gets to be too much. If I’m able to ramp up to 20-22 miles on a training run, well then I’ll hop online and find an upcoming marathon in our area that I can do. But I don’t want to sign up for one and set myself up for a bad experience. If half marathon distances are my jam, that’s cool with me. I learned during that last 10k I ran that I do better when I’m confident that I’ve run beyond the race distance so I know when I can push and when I need to slow down. With my next half marathon scheduled for May 4, I’ve got plenty of time to get used to the distance. And hopefully I’m going to crush my PR-but if I don’t…well, yeah, I’ll probably be disappointed. But there’s always next time! And good news-my Mom and I are running another 10k together! Last weekend in April-and this one sounds hilly! 

I hope that one day this is true.  The part about running because I already eat a lot..

My question for you this week is this: Those of you who run long distances…what’s your feeling on having to take a potty break or a stoplight break during a long run? What’s your favorite mid-run fuel? How do you combat soreness after a long run? Last night, we had to run and get supplies for tonight’s baby shower, and Jeff kept laughing at how sad and pathetic I looked trying to walk fast. 

Wednesday Eats-WIAWish

So, last Friday was my birthday. You probably knew already, I’m kind of a big deal. Anyway, I decided to take a 4 day weekend and reset myself-I’d been a bit grumpy lately at work. It was a GREAT idea, and I think I’ve recentered my perspective. I spent my time running, napping, eating, and got in a nice, relaxing, head-clearing walk Saturday afternoon. 

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Bad photo, but also the best in motion shot I’ve ever gotten. I’m a talented gem.

Woke up Friday morning when Jeff’s alarm started going off for work-mind you, that’s around 7:30 so it was probably time. Sat around and nursed some oatmeal and a cup of coffee for a while and perused the interwebs. Decided to tackle my run for the day around 10-10:30, and it was a rough one. I’d worn my new CW-X pants for my long run Thursday evening (10 miles-yay!), and they kept my stupid knee pain free for the whole run. Friday? Oh, around MILE 1 it started hurting. My knee has but a few degrees of feeling-kissed by angels, what’s that twinge, and poked by devil’s trident. I can usually tell how bad things are by how quickly the pain radiates up into my hip. Hip pain came in around my turn around point at 2.5. However, stubborn Laura doesn’t back down. I wanted 2 things: my third 30 mile week in a row, and to have Saturday and Sunday “off” or as my rest days to properly enjoy myself. So I made it. Got home, cleaned up, and headed out for a pedicure. Excellent decision. All my runner girls can surely relate to that feeling when a pedicurist is working when you actually wonder if your nail will come off in their hands. Had a couple close calls (in my mind, I’m sure nothing was actually moving) and then came out with some delightfully smooth feet and pretty purple toenails. 

Met up with Jeff and Lynette for some Indian style lunch. I cannot find a photo of my food, so I guess it was good. I had a bowl of muligatawny soup and chicken tikka bread. It’s basically like an Indian pizza, and it’s awesome. I showed enormous restraint and ate only half of the bread, with the intention of stopping at the fro-yo place nearby on my way home. Turns out, no more fro yo place. Bummer, but my tummy was probably OK without it-though I now have a fro-yo craving I’m going to have to take care of soon. I don’t know what was the matter with me, but I got home, tried to hop on the couch and watch Scandal, and promptly passed out for about 90 minutes. HARD. I was so sleepy, even though I’d slept in! Guess the 15 miles in like 18 hours drained me. Got up and ran a brief set of errands (do I know how to party on a birthday or WHAT?) and then it was time to get ready for birthday dinner! 

One of our favorite restaurants in town is Henry’s On South. I called on the way home from lunch to get a reservation, and was totally crushed when he said they were full! Shame face-I totally pulled the “oh, no, it’s my birthday!” card. Um, we got in. 🙂 Their menu has a few staples and a few rotating spots each month. The feature this month was crab cakes and slaw, and it was AMAZING. 

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So good, we may have to make another trip this month before they get pulled from the menu! Another awesome thing about Henry’s is that they keep bringing you a little bowl of olives to snack on in between courses. Yeah, we had two-OK, I had most of 2. After dinner we found room for my favorite dessert: Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart. 

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Had a few drinks with friends and then headed home to these guys: 

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If you see two dogs and a netflix screen, you’re right! Monday capped off my birthday weekend with a swedish/deep tissue massage hybrid, and yesterday I could still feel all the little sore spots in my back where she had to work out some knots. She also did a lot of good, painful work on my IT band, and yesterday’s 5 miles was pretty pain free. 

*So, does anyone else sing to their pets? Or is it more like does anyone NOT sing to their pets? I take a little container full of dry rice chex to work every day (yeah, it’s weird, but whatever), and the dogs always beg for a piece when I’m filling it at night. The sound of them crunching cereal cracks me up. It may have it’s own theme song. 🙂 

*Any good Netflix suggestions? We’re running out of bedtime TV shows we can agree on. 

Travel Log Tuesday: A Tale of Two Cities

Good Afternoon! I have a lot of catching up to do, since I was MIA for the weekend. I’ll get to my birthday soon enough-WIAW is pretty much the best way to explain how I spent my birthday, since it’s all about the food anyway, right? Today, we’re going to talk about an important decision we made this weekend. 

As some of you know, travel is a big deal for Jeff and I. When I had to undergo hysterectomy last Fall, one of my mental trade offs to definitively cutting off the having kids thing (at least biologically, effectively making it a decision we can make when the time is right, not rushing to beat nature) was that we’ll get to travel and see the world. That’s a big deal to me. Some good friends and family members have gotten to live abroad, visit exotic locales, and that’s one of the things I want most for my life. I want to see the world. I want to eat my way across Europe. I want to see things I thought I’d only read about in books as a kid. Our tentative plan for this year was France, and we’d thought that the air travel prices would be similar to when we booked our honeymoon to Ireland last year. 

Wrong! Turns out, flight prices were nearly $1000 more this year than last year. And it wasn’t just France. I started trying to make compromises. Greece, Germany, Spain, all of them were within $100 of that same too-high estimate. We were faced with a decision: overspend on this year’s trip and have to take money out of savings to supplement our tax return/bonus money we’d budgeted, or scale down our plans. Jeff’s made a really big decision this year to pursue his degree, and to take a turn in his chosen path and study something he’s dreamed about for years: astrophysics. That’s going to take tons of focus and dedication on his part, and I’m already proud of him even though classes haven’t even started yet. But keeping that in mind, as well as the fact that we both need new computers, new smart phones, and our house has a few things on the wish list that would make daily life at home much better. I’ve been watching WAY too much HGTV lately. Love it or List it, Property Brothers, House Hunters if I’m in a pinch. It all sucks me in and makes me want to remodel the crap out of our house. So you can guess what decision we made. 

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We’re going to stay in the states this year. We’re thinking with a slightly decreased budget we can still make 2 nice trips in the US this year. We’ve got a list of places we wanted to go together, and in just throwing suggestions out there, we’ve come to a few tentative destinations: Savannah, GA (as seen above-gorgeous!) and Portland/Seattle. The dream of the ’90’s is alive in Portland, right? Still up for debate and depending on the financial situation, we could potentially end up in Chicago, NYC, San Francisco, or Austin, TX instead. I think that although it makes me slightly grumpy to give up the Parisian dream for the year, it makes sense. Trading off to make live at home more enjoyable the other 350 days of the year we’re still at home and NOT on vacation makes it worthwhile to adjust our expectations for the few days we are on vacation. 

So, while I’m pretty excited about our destinations, nothing’s set in stone yet. Jeff can’t really travel until September-his busy season at work starts now and won’t let up until the weather does. So, have you taken any Fall trips you’ve simply loved? Anywhere else we need to put into consideration? 

I’ve got plenty of fun stuff to talk about the rest of this week-review of my Stride Box, the awesome new CW-X pants Jeff got me for my birthday, awesome eats, and silly puppy dogs just to name a few. For now, I’m going to get back to my Tuesday-take care! 

ThrowBack Thursday

Mike over at Running Around the Bend had been talking about his running story-how he got into the sport, the twists and turns it’s taken over the years, and naturally it brought me to my own running story. I didn’t start running until I was 27. My mom had been a runner most of my life, and was living in Colorado while I was in Nebraska at that point. She convinced me to take a trip to visit them and run the Bolder Boulder 10k. I was so new to the sport back then, I grabbed a clearance pair of running shoes from Kohls, hopped on a treadmill, and started my plan in January to run 10k by Memorial Day. I remember it being very tough, and wanting to quit a lot. Treadmill running is no fun, and I think my aversion still comes from those days. 

Race day came, and boy was I nervous. That race has 42,000 finishers. That’s a LOT of people. The race is super well organized, and has plenty of water stations, as well as fun bands and cheering sections the whole course. My only real race memory aside from the singing elvis, blues brothers, and the dude out in his bathrobe and coffee was rounding mile 4. There’s a few pretty serious hills on that course-hello, mountains-and I’d just finished a doozy. As I round this curve, I start hearing “Eye of the Tiger” pick up. Now, I’m aware how absolutely corny that is, but in the moment-I’ll be damned if I didn’t pump a fist and speed up! Mom and I finished that race in JUST under 1 hour, 12 minutes. I was always a chubby girl in my childhood and teen years, and finishing that race felt like I’d climbed Mt Everest. I cried. And then promptly stopped running until it was time to do the race the following year. I think it wasn’t until I was 30 and bought a house directly across from the city’s bike path system that I really got to a point where I’d run even if not actively training for something. Sometimes I wonder why I run-it’s hard, there’s aches and pains galore, and I am certainly disgusting at the end of a run. Then I look at the weight it’s helped me lose, the stress it’s relieved, the troubles it’s helped me resolve, and I realize it’s totally worth it. 9 years ago, I ran a 10k in 72 minutes. Last weekend, I did the same distance in 52. That’s quantifiable success. 

Oh, yeah, the throwback. Here’s the only race photo I’ve ever bought. That’s my Mom in the red, and the original unimpressed girl on the right. I look at myself, and think nothing’s changed, and everything’s changed. Guess that’s what life is like. 

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How I feel lately

I TAKE A NAP! RIGHT HERE! Yeah, I’m feeling a little burned out.

Thanks for all the feedback and kind words yesterday. I know an opportunity will come up for me sometime, and for now I’m determined to make the best of my current position. You MAY already know this, but Friday is Pi Day! 3.14, that’s right. It’s also my birthday. As an adult, I always feel a bit weird taking my birthday off work, like it should be just another day. But you know what? I don’t have kids, so my vacation time doesn’t get ate up by as many sick days, no daycare days, or family trips, so if I feel like not being at work on my birthday, I have the option. Then I realized I have an appointment at 2:00 on Monday, and gee-it’s a massage, wouldn’t it be nice not to get all stressed out and undo her magic right after that? Of course it would! And I mean, at 3:00, is there really a point in going back to the office? No! So I now have a 4 day weekend for my birthday. It’s the gift that keeps on giving, really. I don’t think aside from lunch with Jeff & Lynette Friday, the massage Monday, and tentative plans to go to Omaha and gorge on wine, cheese, and meat Sunday that we have much lined up for the weekend. And that’s how I like it. 🙂

Taking Stock Tuesday

Wow, this week is a tough one! So far, each morning has been extremely difficult to get out of bed. I have this Friday off work, and I think the anticipation is really making the other days seem tougher in comparison. 

Part of my problem is that last week, I got some tough news. Found out on Thursday (immediately after my 9 mile run btw…what a way to kill that endorphin high) that I was out of consideration for the wellness position at work. Given my credentials, they declined to even interview me or speak with me about the position. My friends and family are of course telling me not to take it personally, and I was aware that with a company of our size, competition would be fierce. But I’d really hoped to be able to present myself and explain why I was ready for the challenge. Work has been tough for me the last couple of years. I had been in the same position for so long I felt stagnant, and when I was encouraged to take a position in our data integration department, I did it. But I’m finding that although I get along great with my team, my personality and brain are maybe not the ideal fit for the job. Luckily, my boss seems happy with my work, but I can’t help but feel like I could do more. Use my talents. Really enjoy being at work instead of just watching the clock for the next time I get to eat. 

I know that there are people out there that would kill to be in this position. That would kill have a job, period. And I get that I’m lucky. My job is making it possible for my husband to go back to school and pursue a lifelong dream of his, and I’m so glad to be able to help him do that. I am trying to make a conscious choice to appreciate my job for all the things it allows me to do, and the fact that I’m pretty happy with my life outside of work. It’s OK if I want to take a long lunch sometimes so I can squeeze my long run in during the day. There’s never a problem if I want to take a day off. The management is always asking what they can do to make me happy. I’ve got it pretty good, really-I just need my brain to make better sense of some of this tech-speak. 

So, that’s my rambling attempt to make myself feel better for losing my dream job. Life will still go on, I will still run, and dinner will still be on the table tonight. 

Enjoy the little things quote via www.Facebook.com/BecomeBetter and www.BecomeBetter.tv