Ritual de lo Habitual

So, it’s a relaxing weekend. We all get 3 days off to honor our veterans, grill things over hot flames, and generally enjoy life. I’m certainly taking advantage-it’s amazing I managed to get a load of laundry and all our grocery shopping done today, because other than that I’ve been a bum. But the weekend in which I’m pretty much relaxed the whole time, it got me thinking about the little habits we have that get us through the less relaxing times. 

We all have rituals, habits, routines. I get up in the morning, let the dogs out, pour my coffee, etc. But what do I do when I’m stressed? Jeff will tell you I have a habit of pulling my ponytail when I’m stressed, thinking, or just plain hot. I have been really enjoying a workout schedule in which I run over lunch, so most nights when I get home from work, I’m also getting home from a day in which my only break was to run anywhere from 4-12 miles. I’m tired, I’m sometimes stressed, and I’m usually still a bit gross from my workout. So the first thing I do most nights when I get home is take what I like to call a “shath”. First I shower and wash my hair, then I plug the drain, wrap the towel around my head, sprinkle in some epsom salts and take a soak. It’s helped with muscle soreness as much as it has mental health. For a long time, my bathtime ritual involved a popcicle. I don’t know why, maybe it’s the hot water/cold treat juxtaposition. But lately, I’ve taken things to the next level. It started by Jeff innocently bringing me a glass of wine in the tub. Then, gradually, most baths involved a glass of wine. And now, when I get home most of the time, I’m pretty darn hungry. So I’ve taken a virtual snack plate in the tub with me. It’s currently a healthy serving of carrots, a couple of baked chips, and a few pieces of turkey pepperoni. Don’t ask, it’s just my jam. 

I’ve got plenty of other strange habits. I love having a big bowl of popcorn for lunch and a nap on Saturdays. I reliably eat the same things in the same order every day at work, only the lunch changes (oatmeal, dry rice chex, banana, lunch, apple & pistachios, popcorn, watermelon). I have to have a fan on every night when I sleep and can’t fall asleep without the TV on anymore. It comes from my years as a single lady who heard too many bumps in the night and wanted to quit looking for things that weren’t there. These things are reliable. They’re always there, unless I forget something or routine changes. I love spontaneity,don’t get me wrong, but there’s something that feels like home when you’re following your routine. 

So, what do you do? Tell me I’m not alone in the comfort of a strange behavior. 

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You’re fooling yourself, and you don’t believe it…

Many thanks to the epic band Styx for my blog title. Seriously, this week my runs were once, twice, three times a moron. My week went like this: 

Monday-6 miles total, 4 outside and 2 inside. It was windy as HECK and my legs weren’t having it. Defeatedly headed back to the gym to finish on a treadmill, which was STILL tougher than I thought possible, and then I got home and tried to pull weeds. Eureka! I’d done about 3 hours of that Sunday, and my hamstrings were shot. I apologized to my legs for berating them earlier and promptly soaked them in some epsom salts.

 

I imagine I looked like this while running.

Tuesday-4 miles treadmill. Still blah, but I made it. 

Wednesday-6 miles treadmill. See Tuesday. 

Thursday-10 miles awful. It was cloudy and around 60, so I thought “whee! I don’t want to wear my water belt, and I don’t want to carry a bottle, so I’ll just go without! I’ll be fine!” and after a stop at a bathroom around mile 3, I spent the other 7 miles actively looking for a water fountain. I was dying. I finally came upon one at mile 8 and without it I would not have been able to finish. I always think I can go without water, and I’m always proven wrong almost immediately. Which leads us to…

 

Friday-5 miles. Should have been 6 but I had to cut one today. It was 80, it was breezy, and I thought since I was only going 5 miles I didn’t need water AGAIN. Seriously? It was terrible. By the time I got back to the gym, I learned what a mouthful of paste tastes like. Ugh. It was horrifying. I slunk back to the office and chugged a gallon of water. 

31 miles for the week. Respectable, but not ideal. I’m going to need to retool my weekly schedule-we’re obviously at the time of year where running at high noon is just not going to fly anymore. Not unless I can deal with a LOT more treadmill time. And some days, that’s going to be OK, but I’m afraid I may have to start getting up early. I HATE getting up early. My stomach hates morning exercise, with or without food. So we’re going to have to mess with things until we get the schedule right, because I still fully intend to keep up my 30 mile weeks-I’m happy with this level of fitness and it’s doable for me so I want to maintain it as long as possible. 

Happy Memorial weekend everyone! We’re having a charcuterie party tonight, where everyone is bringing their favorite cured meats and cheeses and we’ll have a hell of a time. Then we have not a heck of a lot else planned, and I love it that way. Can’t wait to sleep in and spend time with my bookworm-he’s been studying a lot lately but has the whole weekend off! 

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OK this just made me laugh.

Big Easy Recap

So, I’m really a slacker. Like, BAD. I just haven’t felt much like blogging lately, so it’s taken me quite a while to sit down and write the recap of my trip. But I teased everyone with it a week ago, so it’s time I make good on my promise! 

Getting to the airport and flying into NOLA was nothing to speak of, so I’ll start with our cab ride to the hotel, in which we saw the Superdome, a few intriguing cemeteries, and lots of drunk people. My aunt, though not drunk, managed to leave her laptop bag in the cab, which was scary since it was her business trip and I’d imagine a computer to be a pretty integral part of that. As we were frantically trying to think of the cab driver’s name, the cab company, or anything identifying at all, he came running back with it and saved the day. Thanks, dude! We got cleaned up a bit and headed down to our hotel’s bar for the meet and greet of the conference. After sitting down and getting our drinks ordered, I noticed something strange was going on-we were moving! Turns out, the hotel we were staying in has a pretty famous carousel bar. 

So we had some wine, debated and decided not to start the trip with absinthe, and then made our way out to find some dinner. We ended up at a fantastic seafood place on Bourbon St. I can’t remember the name, seriously, but we had some delicious crab cakes, a mussel platter with potatoes and corn on the cob, and some more wine. We were lucky enough to be seated on the balcony-one of the things I’ll remember most about NOLA was all the balconies and architecture. It just has a unique feel to it that you know to be New Orleans. However, this is the view that balcony gave us:

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blurry lady of the night. Eek!

 

We wandered around a bit more, saw a few cool things: 

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Church from a block away, complete with creepy statue.

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You’ve seen my dog enough to know that apparently he’s famous in New Orleans, because that’s him. Only red. Or blue.

And we ended up for one last drink at a really cool bar that seemed to be only lit by candles. Turned out to be Lafitte’s blacksmith shop, which is the oldest bar in NOLA, claiming to be the oldest bar in the US. They qualify that by saying it’s been the same named bar the whole time so they win. Having visited NYC, Boston, and Ireland, I’ve noticed that lots of places like to claim to be the oldest whatever, and just qualify it however they need to. Whatever, it was still pretty cool: 

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My aunt had one of their famous hurricanes, and I stuck with wine. Let me tell you, people, hurricanes are nothing to mess with, and it doesn’t matter if they’re coming from the ocean or from fruity booze. Stay. Away! We got back to the hotel and settled in with some Forensic Files to fall asleep. Sleeping in hotels for me goes one of two ways-like a rock or not at all. These beds were either made of the softest feathers known to man, or-and more likely-not having to share the bed with 2 snuggly dogs and a husband let me actually get comfortable. I slept so hard most of the trip, it was awesome. 

The next day, I got up later than I’d hoped to and headed out for a quick run. I was hoping to get in 6 miles, but let me tell you-it was humid already at 9, and I had a hard time finding a good safe place to run. I ran along the waterfront, and that was awesome but windy and it was a pretty short stretch. I ran some through the French Quarter, and then finished up the last of my miles on the hotel treadmill. I decided to just grab some snacks from the Walgreens next door and wait to eat real food until lunch. I walked down St Charles a bit and ended up at the Confederate museum. Normally I cheap out when it comes to sightseeing on vacation, so I was proud that I actually went in. It was a fairly small museum, which was probably a good thing since I started getting hungry. I learned a few things about Civil War history and found the inspiration for all the hipster facial hair I see at our local pub-it’s all Civil War Flair! 

Walked back towards the Quarter, and that’s when “disaster” struck. And by disaster, I mean indecision. I’m not a huge fried food person, but I also wanted to get some traditional Cajun food, and somehow I got stuck on having a Po Boy for lunch. I walked and walked before I was finally like “just pick somewhere or end up killing someone out of hanger!” So I ate at the Bourbon House and it was delicious. 

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I decided I was ready for a bit of down time at this point, so I headed back to the hotel to chill out for a bit. A nap may have happened. Then I got an email with a list of places to go/see/do and I decided to scope out my possible running route. While I did not see the aforementioned plantations and architecture, I did see hobos and a drunk guy fall asleep standing up, so there’s that. I decided to speedwalk back to where there were happy drunk people vs the angry drunks I was encountering. Shopped a bit and then headed back to see what Lynette was up to. We ended up going to her work function together at the Union Oyster House, so I got to sample some oysters, delicious catfish, jambalaya, red beans & rice, and some delicous coconutty desserts. Here’s the view down towards bourbon st from their balcony: 

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the tiny people in the corner are in a parade!

After dinner, we walked down to Bourbon St for some mingling and they all stopped and got drinks at one of the many fruity drink stands. I abstained-I just find that sugary alcoholic drinks don’t work well for me. We took them to Lafitte’s for a drink and ended up at the hotel at a pretty respectable hour. 

Thursday, I decided to be a bit smarter about things-I walked a LOT each day but Thursday was a bit lighter. I ran on the hotel treadmill and then cleaned up and headed to the famous Cafe Du Monde for some beignets and coffee. It was adorable and I lingered a bit longer than they probably would have liked. 

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After breakfast, I hopped a street car and rode it back down to the cemeteries we’d seen on our way in. Call me morbid, but I really enjoy seeing super old cemeteries, as well as just the different burial methods across cultures. New Orleans has to have everybody “above ground” due to the high water table, so everyone is in crypts and almost these locker-type thingies. Here’s one of the many shots I took of the crypts: 

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Without anyone to marvel about the architecture and ornateness though, I got bored and wandered back toward central town. I had a haunted history ghost tour lined up for 3 in the afternoon, and I snacked on some more walgreens food, grabbed a glass of wine, and joined my tour. We learned so many little things and I was really glad I went.

 

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One of the places was the famous LaLaurie house, where they found that Madame had been experimenting on slaves by sewing body parts to one another, cramming them in small boxes to see what happened, and the like. Very interesting. I stopped by the hotel, but I saw that Lynette was taking a nap and I didn’t want to disturb her. It was pretty early for dinner, but I’d had some cheerios and an apple for lunch so I was getting hungry. Some friends who lived previously in both Thailand and NOLA had said the best Thai food they’d had outside of Thailand was in walking distance from my hotel. I walked by, debated, and went ahead and had my dinner there. I got their seafood drunken noodles-mussels, crab, scallops, shrimp all in spicy noodles. It was amazing. 

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I wandered around walking a bit more and decided I didn’t care if I was being lame, I didn’t really feel like drinking, especially doing so in a town like NOLA all by myself. So I chilled out in the hotel room, read my book, and just relaxed. It was nice. Friday morning, I got up early for my last run (still on the treadmill) and then headed out into the rain for some breakfast. Found a little cafe called Nosh and got talked into their sweet potato pancakes-a good call. They were great! Stopped into a fantastic antique shop-Jeff’s still mad I didn’t bring him the dueling pistols I found. Then I went to Swamp Dog and Friends and fell in love. They have awesome prints of dogs in typical New Orleans settings. I debated hard about getting “Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder”-it’s not on their website, but is a dead ringer for Foster with a colored glass of absinthe and a few other items. It’s hard to describe, but I kept thinking about getting it and/or a print of the famous “blue dog” since it looked so much like Duncan. I’ve been in contact with the shop and will be getting a copy of Absinthe mailed to me. It’s more than I’d normally spend on an unframed photo print, but I loves it! I’ll add a photo when I get mine-the owner sent me a photo of the print but it’s not very good quality. 

Anyway, once I got to the airport I had plenty of time to walk around, both in NOLA and on my 4 hour layover in Denver. Looking at my pedometer, each day I walked roughly a half marathon in addition to the 5-7 miles I ran each day of the trip. No wonder I was sleeping so well! Once I got home, the dogs were pretty excited. Duncan is our nervous spaz who usually isn’t shy to tell you he missed you-whether you were gone for 4 minutes or 4 days. But Foster…he’s usually aloof. He played it cool, but the rest of the weekend he didn’t let me out of his sight. It was a great trip, but spending most of my time on my own was a blessing and a curse. I’m not great at decision making, and keeping so many sarcastic thoughts in my head without anyone to spill them to was torture! My next trip will definitely involve Jeff-but for now, there’s no place like home. 

Mileage Monday-a New PR!

What could be better than a Monday which is also your Friday? Well, not having a Monday at all, but hey-this rocks too! Tomorrow morning I’m hopping a plane for New Orleans. I’m planning on some relaxation, some running, and so much good food! But before I can get to New Orleans, lets recap last week’s running-including my half marathon! 

Monday: 6 miles, race pace. This was pretty interesting-I had my first major bathroom emergency and had to stop and veer about a half mile off course (and over my lunch hour, gah!) to get to a grocery store and use their restroom. Everything else felt pretty good though! 

Tuesday-4 miles on the treadmill. Not fun, but necessary. 

Wednesday-5 miles on the treadmill. Again. Ugh. 

Thursday-last run before the race-5 miles outside. It felt really good and set a good tone for the half marathon. 

And that brings us to yesterday. Depending on the course, my garmin, or mapmyfitness, I ran 13.1, 13.27, or 13.54 miles. Gotta love technology, right? Anyway, here’s my splits: 

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My official time was 1:49:32. I’d hoped to come in under 1:50, and I barely made it! Races are getting interesting for me, because for so long I’ve run them to finish. Now that I’m more comfortable with distance, I’m running with time goals, which is more stressful to me. It’s one thing to repeat my old mantra “just run until you’re done”, and another to constantly stay on top of my speeds and crack the whip when needed. I can clearly work on some more consistency for next time, but overall I’m really happy with how I did. A few highlights on the course: seeing Jeff at mile 4 cheering me on, lots of my friends and class participants from the YMCA, seeing a wonderful runner pushing his father in a wheelchair for the full marathon, lots of Star Wars related signs (race was on May the Fourth be with you day). After the race, I walked up to meet Jeff for some big ole pancakes and bacon, and our friends Carrie & Troy met us. When we got home, I was very ready for a nap-had the crappy night before the race sleep that seems to be a common theme for me. Took off my shoe to once again discover the bloody toe of doom. I took a photo, but it came out all blurry, so I guess you’ll have to use your imagination. 

Aside from all the race talk, we really did have a fantastic weekend. FAC with coworkers after work, followed by dinner at a place in town who recently revamped their menu. I had mussels, Jeff had pork belly, and we shared an order of brussels sprouts which were delicious. Met up with some other friends for cocktails, and then I headed home and Jeff was about to go have a bonfire with them when it started raining. Saturday, I spent a lot of time in the yard dealing with some tree sprouts that have been the bane of my existence for a long time. 3-4 hours digging and pulling roots before my hamstrings let me know I’d better knock it off or the race the next morning would be exponentially more difficult. Went and got my hairs done and spent time with Allison & Angela, then we made some homemade pizza and turned in early since we both got up pretty early Sunday morning for the race. Last night, we had a cinco de mayo party with friends and I couldn’t stop yawning at 8:00 so we headed home early. I’ve just been super tired lately-hoping this vacation rejuvenates me.

And on that note, that’s a wrap! I’ll see if I can scrape together a post or two while I’m on my trip. Here’s where my brain is already: 

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