Sunday, October 14, 2012

Goals schmoals - it's all good!

"It’s all good. No matter what path you find, no matter where you end up, it’s beautiful. There is no bad path, no bad destination. It’s only different, and different is wonderful. Don’t judge, but experience." Leo Babauto

I love that quote! Leo's blog zenhabits always has a tidbit that inspires me to live happier.

Once upon a time, for many many years, I did what most people do and kept a To Do List, set goals, planned ahead, etc. But the list kept getting longer, and what I planned to do each day rarely happened as other more important tasks popped up. I would get depressed at the end of the day and feel like a failure because I didn't accomplish many of the things that I set out to do. I would be stressed in the morning as I re-wrote the list because it was overwhelming and impossible to accomplish all. About 2 years ago, I was assigned to a work project that would soon become overwhelming. My To Do List extended beyond the many lines on my Day Timer page. I was stressed beyond imagination and only had time to put out the fires of each day. Despite achieving the big picture items, and receiving accolades from my managers and co-workers, I still felt guilty for not completing all of the little things. It was all too much.

Then I took Leo Babauto's approach of "no goals" to heart. I quit maintaining a To Do List in 2012. The most important tasks that need to be accomplished stick in my brain without the need to write them down, and the lesser important ones can slip through the cracks if time doesn't permit. I worked hard; accomplished a lot without feeling like a failure for not achieving every single thing that I used to write down as a task to accomplish.

In November 2011, I ran my PR marathon. I trained hard that summer/fall but was burned out afterwards. At the end of December 2011, I did as usual and set new running goals for 2012 that would exceed the prior year. I was optimistic, but also knew that I needed a break. I have run in 2012, just not as often or high of mileage. The mileage and runs per week dwindled as I turned my focus towards my teen daughter that needed more guidance. And as the miles dwindled.. weight was gained, stress increased, life was less fun.

A few weeks ago I got back into the running grove. And life is soooooo much better! But.. the running log book that I use has a section at the top for "weekly goal". I felt a strong pull to fill in the blank. So my entry for the week of 9/24-30 was "build base"; an easily accomplishable goal. I ran 6 days that week for a total of 12.78 miles. The next week I became more ambitious and the goal that I wrote for 10/1-7 was "lose 0.5 pound, run 13 miles". I lost 0.3 pounds and ran 14.43 miles, so I felt like a partial failure, but looked at the glass as half-full and was happy to have lost a little bit of weight rather than gain. 

So for this week, 10/8-14, I set the goal of losing 0.1 pound and running 15 miles. My legs were sore and I was sick a few days so the daily milage wasn't up to the plan. However, I ran every day for at least a mile, but it ended up at 12.07 miles for the week. I also gained 0.2 pounds. I looked at the numbers and became depressed. I can't change the numbers on the scale, but I guess I could still go out and run a double for today to get in the other 3 miles to meet that goal. But like I said, my legs are sore.. I've run 16 days in a row now.. why in the heck would I go out and run again today just to meet a silly mileage goal?

As I mentioned earlier, I try to look at the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. I may have missed my pre-set goals for the week, but if I throw out the goals and look at the accomplishments, I can get excited and happy again. I may have gained 0.2 pounds and ran 3 miles less than goal, but.. here is what I accomplished:  run streak day 16, 3 weeks in a row of mileage over 10 miles/week, amazing trail run, new trail shoes, experimented with different healthy recipes, drank less soda.  

I still have the personality that will force me to write in that blank for "weekly goals" in my running log. So this week I'm going to make at something fun, such as Brooks philosophy of Run Happy!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

back into the groove

I ran a personal record (PR) marathon time in November of 2011 and then faded out. I was burned out.. I trained hard the prior summer and it paid off, but it also took its toll. My mileage dwindled in the following months.. I put in a few miles most weeks but switched focus to other things like work, motherhood, girlfriend, etc. A few times during the year I attempted a run streak to kick my butt into gear. The streaks didn't last long because I lacked true motivation. In mid-September 2012, stress was at an ultimate high. A close friend, that isn't a runner, boldly told me to go for a run. She has never been a runner, but has close friends that are runners and she totally gets that we runners are off-kilter if we don't run regularly. She knew it was the prescription that I needed.

So I made the time to get in at least a tiny run each day to help with my stress level. And wow.. what a difference it made in my happiness/stress level. I ran every day this week and 6 days last week. My goal isn't for a streak but for improved fitness. All of my runs the past 2 weeks have been on purpose in zone 2, base building.

Accomplishments of the week? Lost 0.3 pounds (avg), ran more miles than last week, busted my ass on a muddy section of the trail, reconnected with great friends and kiddo (the blondie on the right).. The gorgeous brunette on the left is one of my boyfriend's amazing daughters that was 2nd runner up for the Miss Parkview pagent.

Life is grand.. Make the best of it despite your circumstances!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

name that shoe?

HELP! I name all of my running shoes.. My orange Newton's are known as Pumpkin; my purple Asics are known as Barney; my trail shoes are known as Tallulah (since my first trail run in them was at Tallulah Falls); my VFFs are known as Beachy since I bought them for runs on the beach. Any suggestions for what to name these new kicks?

I can't remember the last time I bought new running shoes.. I have been virtual shopping for the past few weeks. I decided to celebrate the last day of my work's fiscal year by taking the afternoon off and reward myself for accomplishing work goals by purchasing a new pair of running shoes. Minimalism attracts me, yet I need a little more cushion than the Vibram Five Fingers offer. So off I went to one of my favorite local running shoe stores. The girl that helped me listened to what I wanted and brought out four pairs of shoes for me to try. The Brooks Pure Connect were light-weight, have the perfect arch support for my foot, 4mm heel-to-toe drop, and fit like a glove without squishing my toes. Sold!

At the checkout counter I noticed sunglasses. I lost my favorite pair a few months ago. As I left the store, I smiled as I removed the tags from the sunglasses. Happy memories of my last sunglasses purchase came flooding back!

Monday, September 3, 2012

the big picture

I wuv U!
Thru the hearts of teens.. I haven't blogged in many months. I lost my running mojo when I was startled into reality and had to be a much more attentive mom. Which meant.. less time to run guilt/worry-free.. In the spring, my 13 year old daughter fell for a guy that was sweet and kind, but too many years older. His parents didn't approve.. Then I didn't approve when they were sneaking around to see each other. One lie too many caused parents to intervene and then it ended..

A few weeks later she met the guy of my dreams for her. I didn't know it at that moment, but within a week or so it was apparent. He is intelligent, athletic, ambitious, kind, honest, polite, a gentleman, opens doors for her, adored her, has great parents.. They were inseparable until.. school started.. they attend different schools.. he broke up with her because they wouldn't be able to see each other as often anymore.. Her heart was crushed. She didn't understand.. She thought they were going to marry and live happily ever after.

Within days she attached to the next boy that was attentive. I immediately didn't approve.. It's way too soon.. and this new boy was another girl's boyfriend. She said they were only friends, but as soon as his girlfriend broke up with him, my daughter thought it was ok to be his next girlfriend. I've heard bad things about this boy regarding smoking, drugs and gangs. She denies it all.. She's been secretive and sneaky, and after reading her after-hours Facebook chat with him about him being in a gang and how he got his nickname, I am truly appalled and adamant that he not be a part of her life. She says I'm being overprotective and irrational and don't know him and it's not true.. She says I'm not looking at the big picture because I've grounded her and forbidden her to interact with him. What she doesn't realize, is that I AM looking at the big picture.. It's just that she's blinded by his wooing and can't see the big picture herself.

It's been a tough 6 months with issues regarding her and her dad and boys.. Her spending less time with her dad and me feeling like I need to be hypervigilent and omnipresent, equates to little running. The past few days have been challenging with her.. We've had long talks and she has been quick to point out my faults.. she wants to please me but says I'm never happy anymore.. I woke up at 3 a.m. and couldn't go back to sleep with this weighing heavy on my mind. She's right.. I haven't been happy in a while.. I've been stressed with work, her, bills, pets, boyfriend-that-deserves-more-than-I-can-give, and a close friend moved away. Life is full of challenges.. It always has been..

But I used to be happier.. What has changed? I haven't been logging the miles that in the past has kept me sane. So I decided to start yet another run streak on 8/27. I'm doing it the smart way and kept the first week to 1 mile per day with slightly farther on Sunday. 7 day run streak = 7.48 miles. This low of mileage isn't helping much with keeping the sanity in check, but is helping to develop an injury-free habit. I'll slowly increase the mileage and eventually regain the fitness and sanity that I've lost. The summer of 2011 included high mileage and lots of smiles. I look forward to returning to my happy place.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

helping over hurdles

I read a blogpost this morning from Becoming Minimalists and wondered if they were psychic. Their post titled "Why Helping Others Succeed Can Be Your Greatest Success" reinforced thoughts that had been running through my mind all week. The quote that truly hit home was "Our most lasting and fulfilling achievements are often earned by helping others fulfill theirs." I can totally relate to this; I give help/advice/encouragement freely and it is truly rewarding to see successes and/or positivity in others' lives coming from it. I have one friend that I made a silly bet with in order to encourage him to succeed. It cemented our friendship and brings back fun memories.

But the receiving end is where I struggle. People offer to help; sometimes I am overwhelmed and accept, but often I try to be strong and try to do it all. I hit a metaphorical hurdle that I couldn't cross by myself this week. I was hurt, angry, sad, disappointed, scared and desperately had no idea how to solve the problem that had been building and then exploded. I'm a pretty private person, so I've only shared the details with four people, two of which are related to the people involved in this dilemma and the other two are very close friends of mine. I was awed by the way each of them took it upon themselves to step in to help. They didn't ask if there was anything that they could do to help, but they took the initiative and acted in helpful ways that I had not considered.

Those actions helped me to confidently and happily cross the new obstacle that I found during my trail run yesterday. Give freely, reach out to others and accept their help graciously. Those are the true rewards in life.

Monday, February 27, 2012

white trash bunco night (wham-bam-thank-u-sam)

Upfront warning.. this blogpost is not about running (unless you count the sports bra and the heartrate monitor on the countertop), but instead it's about letting loose and having fun! In the fall of 2011, a close friend asked me be a sub for her bunco group. I've never played before, but she assured me that it was an easy game that was a good excuse to socialize. Kind of like our former book club but without the requirement to have actually read whatever book our friend had chosen. My daughter and her daughter are best friends, so what the heck. Later, one of the women decided that she wanted to start a "fun" bunco group because this one was too serious. And since I'm such a fun girl, I was recruited for this fun new bunco group. The first event was in January and the theme was a pajama party. That was fun, but now the creativity competition has begun.

February's theme was "white trash". All week emails have been exchanged amongst the group with all talking in "white trash" language. The buildup was hilarious! We were supposed to arrive with white-trash names. I had no clue what to pick so put out a quick plea on Facebook for suggestions. I wasn't completely sure how to dress, but thankfully my daughter had ideas that combined with mine created the first two images.. And after she helped me create my look, I knew that Mike's suggestion of a name was perfect.. I became Wham-Bam-Thank-U-Sam. You can't tell from the pic, but I'm also wearing a short denim skirt and camoflage slippers. Baby Wilson popped out immediately afterwards :)

The hostess and her family really got into the theme. We arrived at her home to find cars in the front yard with the hoods up, unshaven men wearing overalls and camo while drinking PBR, a clothesline across the front porch with bras and underwear flying in the wind, rasslin (wrestling) on the big screen TV, cardboard signs, and beer cans lining the mantle. One of the women in this photo lives over an hour away. She had so much fun that she wants to become a permanent member of our bunco group!

The husband of the host and his buddy had fun too. These fun men laughed and scratched and prepared a special treat for us ladies.. possum and vienna sausage to be eaten with shots of red bull/cheap liquor!

I felt much better about myself after seeing this poor, battered, pregnant mom with a cigarette dangling out of her mouth, a baby in her arms and a beer in her hand.

Poor kid was embarrased to witness the winner of the wet t-shirt contest! We eventually played Bunco and the prizes were equally hilarious.. bottles of Boonesfarm wine, fly swatters, cans of spam, etc. She really set the bar high for future Bunco hosts.. My month to host is June. My daughter suggested that I pick the "ghetto gangsta rappers" theme. What do you think? Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

reset button

I hinted about it in my last post.. Work stress has been insane and it was brought to a head on Thursday evening. We had scheduled a "planning session" with key citizens on one of my work projects and they had other plans. They invited the local TV news and went on the attack. If the TV camera had not been there I would have walked out of the meeting. The allegations were mostly against other co-workers that weren't present; people I admire and respect. I had a gut instinct earlier in the week that they were scheming something and my gut was right. We endured it, and laughed about parts of it later while we decompressed at one of the few late-night restaurant/bars. I had decided on Wednesday, that I was going to hit the "reset button" this weekend.. Time to leave work at work and focus on family, friends, and self on nights and weekends rather than checking email after hours. Apparently my pets feel the same way! I made the mistake of leaving my work cell phone on the kitchen counter last night; the cat batted it off the counter for the dog to destroy..

Today I ran the "Run the Reagan" half marathon. This is my favorite local half marathon and I've run it many times. I haven't trained as much as I should have, so I decided to treat this as an EASY long run to wipe away the insane stress of the week rather than as a race. Minimal soreness hours lager (can easily walk up/down stairs with no pain) and have another medal to add to the collection! Best part was getting a hug from my daughter-from-another-mother who was running the 5K; I saw her a mile from the end when the later starting 5K merged with the slower half marathoners near the finish. We stopped and hugged, not caring how it affected our times. It was also great seeing her mother, brother and other friends after the race.

I came home with the plans of taking a shower, eating lunch and taking a nap. All things that contribute to "hitting the reset button". After I showered, I was putting on comfy jeans when I heard the text tone that always makes my heart skip a beat. Did I hear right? I've assigned different/special text tones to my favorite peeps. Obviously we have a psychic connection because every time I either decide to forget about him or have a strong urge to talk to him, he re-connects :). And boy did he reconnect today.. Most of our chats during the past few months have been short, but today we texted throughout the afternoon and into the night. I thought my boyfriend and I were going to go out tonight since we made plans last night, but he didn't answer my phone call and has not replied to my texts and it's after 10 pm. I am disappointed. Oh well, at least I've had a smile on my face all day from texting with Mr. Sexy! Reset button has truly been hit!

Monday, February 13, 2012

the vow

Regaining control. I've been under a LOT of work stress the past few months. Have worked long hours, sacrificed time with family/friends/fitness/sleep, with very little reward. Don't get me wrong, my managers are very pleased and offer praise. I've put in many hours and feel good about my accomplishments. But I am a government employee and there are some citizens that are on a vendetta. No matter what good I do, a few will continue to berate me and my fellow co-workers. I recently took a stand in an email and said that one person's bullying tactics wouldn't work on me. I let the chaos of a few direct my energy. I awoke at 3:30 a.m. this morning (and many others), insanely stressed, and couldn't go back to sleep. I wallowed in the stress for an hour or so and then forced my mind to focus on something zen-like.

My daughter climbed into my bed at some point during the night so I first focused on her sweetness. I then looked at Facebook and observed the new photo-shoots of my favorite pro-athlete/friend as he begins training camp. I reflected upon our last conversation a few days ago. I make a conscious decision to make him my rock in this chaos of my current life. He is so far removed and pulled me through many challenges last year. He is the pentacle, but others will make up the foundation, which include the amazing guy that I'm currently dating, my daughter, Angela, Carter, Terri, and my other close friends/co-workers.

I have an App on my iPhone for zen motivational quotes. The quote for today was "Each problem has hidden in it an opportunity so powerful that it literally dwarfs the problem. The greatest success stories were created by people who reconginized a problem and turn it into an opportunity." (Joseph Sugarman). This can be interpretted in so many different ways. But I chose today to turn this problem into an opportunity to redirect my energy to the people that are supportive, rather than caustic.

I saw the movie "The Vow" with a close friend today. I connected emotionally on so many different levels. The theme was impact. The instant attraction/connection they had brought one person to the forefront of my mind. The mother's "choice" to stay with her husband that had an affair reminded me of a very painful part of my life. The music by The Cure at the end brought back a spectrum of memories that the prior ones had already hit on. The entire movie brought back memories from different time frames of my life; all that have shaped me into who I am today. Some were painful, some were ecstatic, but all were reaffirming about what truly matters.

I typically focus my blog posts on running-related topics, so I'll close with this. Groundhog day 12 runstreak complete :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Groundhog Day take 2

Last year I attempted a Groundhog Day runstreak. I needed a kickstart, a motivator, during the winter months when my running motivation naturally wanes. Brrrrr... baby it's COLD OUTSIDE! The goal was to run at least one mile a day. I made it through 2/27/11. Several of those runs were done in drudgery on the hamster wheel because I was too wimpy to venture out into the cold.

This year is different. My treadmill is dead so I'm forced to run outside (except while on biz trips that require hotel stays). It's also different because I met a pro athlete last summer and he continues to inspire me. Every time my mind comes up with an excuse to not exercise, the other half of my brain chimes in claiming that if I had pursued my childhood dreams of becoming a pro-athlete, instead of a rocket scientist, that I would get my lazy butt out of bed and go for a run. But the reality is.. my profession is as a scientist, not an athlete, and I'm a mom too, so I won't belittle the one-milers when that's all I have the time for.

Happy Groundhog's Day! General Lee, the groundhog in my town, says spring is just around the corner :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

someone who is busier than you is running right now

Life is insanely busy right now and I'm failing at finding the perfect balance between work, parenting, exercising, house keeping, sleeping, and spending time with friends. And guess which activity got pushed to the back burner this week.. Yep.. running.. logged a whopping 9.19 miles in 3 runs (and swam 1000 meters). Didn't meet my weekly goal, but eh.. there's always next week! Think I'll tattoo the saying in this picture on my hand as a reminder ;-) 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

inspiring by example whether you realize it or not

I'm happy to say that my first "long run" of 2012 marathon training didn't involve episodes of Law & Order! Thanks so much to my Daily Mile Secret Santa for the cool gift! LOVE IT! I haven't had a decent long run in over a month. Either the long run was horrible or I wimped out or was too busy. But finally made the commitment to "JUST DO IT!" today. I set myself up for a win.. I strapped on my heart rate monitor and set my goal of LSD (long slow distance). I kept my heart rate in the 70-80% range and it was EASY! Slow.. but EASY.. until the end when I couldn't handle going so slow any more and picked up the pace for a happy finish!

You never know who you may inspire by just being you.. There were several mountain bikers on the trail today. On my last lap, a lone rider slowed as we passed and said, "you must be running 20 miles today" (we had passed each other at least once or twice already). I replied, "nah.. only 11". And he said, "my god.. I can't even imagine running that far.." and at the same time I was thinking that 11 miles is less than half the distance of my longest runs. Lesson learned is that what seems easy to you may be impressive to others.

So get out there and inspire someone today!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

parking lots are much more fun with grocery carts

Although I swore no "resolutions" for 2012.. I did resolve to try something new this year.. and thought about a few goals in order to make 2012 better than prior years. I registered for a few triathlons for 2012 for fun new adventures. My big goal is a half IM in October. And since I've never tried a tri, a lot of people suggested that I start with a sprint so I registered for a sprint triathlon in May, and an olympic distance triathlon in August so I will be better prepared for the half IM.

I thought about a goal of "streaking" in 2012.. but couldn't decide if it should be simply to exercise each day or run each day or are both insane because my body will probably perform better if I take occassional rest days? I started the year with the "A" goal of running every day, but that ended yesterday due to an insanely busy work/personal crisis day. However, I realized early into the day that I wouldn't have time to run until maybe midnight so I shifted to the "B" goal and made a point to walk/jog the 11 flights of stairs (each way) at work throughout the day. I think I covered the distance 4 times, so that's certainly better than not doing anything.

I ran my planned 5 miles on my favorite trail today and then added a "fun, unplanned, naked (without a gps watch) run" tonight as I ran while pushing my teenaged daughter in the grocery cart, and then chased her (while videotaping) as the cart rolled down the sloped parking lot. She said several people were staring at us like we were crazy teenagers, and we both laughed. I told her that her life would be so much more boring if I were an obese/sedentary mom and she thanked me for being a fit/fun mom instead. Life is great! Live like you're a kid when you can because it is so much more fun!