Tuesday, November 22, 2011

goin' off the rails on a crazy train

They say life is what happens while you're making other plans...these days, I can't help but agree. As gung-ho as I was to start my Couch to 5K training, it seems like I keep tripping (no pun intended) up on other obligations.

November's calendar kind of blew up with appointments and plans, so I've been stuck on Week 1 for going on two weeks now. Not intentionally, mind you! I had already decided I would repeat Week 1 since I was still trying to get over a nasty cold/sinus infection. My first attempt at Week 1 was at a much slower pace because of the illness, but I sped up for the second try.

(If you're wondering about all of the jargon surrounding C25K, check out www.coolrunning.com.)

In any case, I am committed to continuing to plug away at it, even if I do get stuck on the first few weeks over the holidays. Some of my other girlfriends who have also planned on picking up the 5K circuit again are looking at the Youth Villages 5K in April as our "debut," so I have time. That's one of the things I really like about C25K; it's a program that allows you to take a significant goal, like running 3.2 miles nonstop, and break it down into bitesize bits. So as you're building endurance, you can still celebrate little milestones along the way and feel like you've accomplished something. It's a perfect mindset for someone like me who tends to take a large project and immediately create stepping stones. Even when I'm on the treadmill, chugging it out, I think to myself, "Just make it through the next 30 seconds" or "Get through the next chorus of the song and you'll have made it!" Little victories - often - keep me coming back for more.

Things aren't going to get any easier now that I've lost my dogsitter! Now, O and I will have to split up days we go to the gym after work since someone will have to come home to let the pups out. But as my running idol Jeff says, "No excuses." Looks like I'll be dragging the dogs along for a run around the block to try and keep up with my C25K schedule from now on!

The holidays are upon us...I wonder how much the rich food and time off will affect my schedule. And my midsection!

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Adventures in Running (Or How Chubs Learned to Pick Up the Pace)

I have always hated running. I detested it in elementary and high school when we were forced to circle a dirt track during P.E. class. I loathed ending up in a cross-training or boot camp session where sprints became the main activity. It hurt and didn’t provide any enjoyment to me whatsoever. As a 16-year veteran of the dance studio, I’d much rather try and burn calories in a kickboxing or some other choreographed cardio class. I just never could tap into that joy and determination that avid runners seemed to thrive upon.

My opinion of running has changed in the last three weeks or so. This is, in part, due to my participation in the local Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure® in honor of one of my cherished friends who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. (She’s since undergone surgery and is steadily kicking ass each and every day – my hero!) Having no prior experience in a 5K race, I was not exactly cognizant of the actual distance. I mean, I know 5 kilometers equals roughly 3.2 miles. But I didn’t know what 3.2 miles really felt like. So in an effort to satisfy my curiosity prior to the race, I hopped onto one of the treadmills at my gym and walked/jogged the distance. I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised at the end…it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. I was even able to alternate a brisk walk (usually around 3.3-3.5 mph) with 3-minute intervals of a light job (4.5-4.8 mph). No crazy cramps or side stitches. Yeah, I broke a sweat and managed some heavier breathing…but nothing out of the ordinary from what I experience in some of my workout classes.

Had my increased stamina from the last few years of maintaining a somewhat decent fitness/gym routine helped me turn the corner? Could I possibly learn to enjoy running?!

I can tell you for certain that my experience in the actual 5K race both helped and hindered my decision. Again – I had never done one before, so my expectations were nil. I was fairly excited that Saturday morning, hoping I could somewhat recreate my pace from earlier in the week on the treadmill. Boy, was I mistaken. Unless you’re one of the first ones across the start line, keeping any sort of decent pace in a crowd of almost 20,000 people on smallish, neighborhood streets is nearly impossible. My first 5K turned out to be less than a road race and more of a suburban off-road/cross country adventure as I bobbed up into people’s yards and jogged on tip-toe along curbs and gutters in order to try and weave around those who were only interested in walking. Honestly, it’s a wonder I didn’t crash and burn as a result of a dewy lawn or collision with a mailbox. But I was able to maintain a few spurts of jogging and whatnot along the route nonetheless.

I have no idea what my time was; I can’t remember when we crossed the start line. The clock read 59 minutes and some change as I crossed the finish line, so at least I know I did it within an hour. Not bad, all things considering, I guess. But I finished. And that in itself was a pretty neat realization.

I chatted with two of my girlfriends after the race. One has completed a local women’s running clinic and several 5Ks before. The other has run in the Chicago half-marathon…a fact which continues to inspire awe and amazement. They’re not avid runners, but they are interested in it and continue to work at it as part of an overall fitness regimen. But they’re not built like those marathon-hogging Kenyans…they’re just like me, i.e. full of curves and boobage. So if they can do it, I mused, so can I!

And just like that, I decided to give running a fair shot. I’m always looking for the next project; the next adventure. And since the runners’ culture is becoming extremely prevalent here in the area and among my peer group, why not try running?

I’ve decided to follow the popular Couch-to-5K method, but I’ll save that story for another entry. Suffice it to say that maybe there’s a running somewhere inside me after all. You’ll just have to hang in there and find out with me!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"rockin' robin"

To tweet or not to tweet? That is the question today. I'm definitely not an early adopter when it comes to technology. Being a spendthrift at heart ("coupons" is one my favorite strategy games), I usually wait until the price comes down and the hoopla is over. For example, I didn't get an iPhone until AT&T started offering refurb models for $100 on their site.

And so my curiosity turns to Twitter. I recently found out that A-State's football head coach Hugh Freeze has started a Twitter feed. Let me pause for a moment and tell you how incredibly excited I am that this man has taken the pigskin helm at my alma mater. Without trying to sound like a crazy stalker lunatic, I think he's freakin' genius. He possesses the right attitude, the right plan and is coming in at the right time. I don't propose that we'll ever be that relevant in the world of football, but it's my team and I love 'em just as much as any fan loves their own.

Anyhoo...so Freeze has a Twitter feed and I've looked at it a few days online. I'm always interested in what the man has to say. But I haven't decided if it's worth it to set up an account to follow. I honestly don't know a whole lot about Twitter except that a ton of celebrities use it and a good handful of them get really bad press when they exercise their First Amendment rights with it. (Otherwise known as diarrhea of the mouth.)

So anyone with a strong opinion or references to a good place to begin Twitter U, please speak up!

Friday, March 18, 2011

"i'm a loser, baby..."

In the interest of full disclosure: I suck at blogging. I'm sure that comes to no surprise to many of my friends and family. I didn't used to be so bad at it...in fact, I believe the words "obsessive" and "overshare" were probably attributed to me on more than one occasion. But that was back in college and shortly thereafter. You know, before that so-called real life crap with it's career, responsibilities and all that came into play. I am still very firmly convinced that if I wasn't employed in an industry that demanded so much creative writing, I wouldn't find it such a chore to do it for pleasure.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way...

Can I just say that so far 2011 hasn't been all that kind to me? Stomach flu, sinus infections, pinkeye (seriously...pinkeye!) and other health hazards have been coming at me nonstop. Now it seems I'm having run-ins with household appliances, such as my water heater. Never underestimate the importance of hot water availability. An ass-kickin' workload and the additional freakazoid stress of wedding planning haven't exactly helped. I've always been a big believer in the adage, The will of God will never take you where the grace of God will not protect you." Which basically means that He knows what you can and can't handle, so if the cards are dealt your way, you should assume He has that much faith in you...have some faith in Him, too. That's easier said than done when standing underneath an icy morning shower with eyes reminiscent of Natalie Portman in Black Swan. But I'm hangin' in there and celebrating small victories wherever they may appear.

And big victories, too, like the fact that after I weighed in this morning I officially hit the 50-pound mark. That's right - I am now 50 pounds lighter than I was at my heaviest point. I've learned throughout my "stop being such a fatass" journey that weight loss is very rarely ever completely downward. You'll have some small gains here and there, and that can't be helped. You have to look at it from an overall perspective and if, in general, you're losing weight over time, then that's a wonderful thing! Fifty pounds is a pretty substantial milestone, and although I'm frustrated that none of my clothes fit (too big) and I can't really afford to supplement my wardrobe with ones that do (too broke), I'm happy that I can look back at old photos and say, "So long, Chubs!"

Speaking of weight loss, I decided to give up desserts, i.e. cookies, cakes and pie, for Lent. Nine days in and I would seriously clobber someone for a cupcake right about now. Lucky for me that Lent ends approximately six days before my wedding. So don't be surprised when I take a flying leap at the monstrously large cake we ordered...at that point I'll be in monster mode. I've supplemented with sugar-free pudding cups and fruit. Sooooo not the same, I'll tell you.

Well hopefully this binge session of blogging will ease my mind about the long dry period since my last entry. Given the short amount of time left between now and the wedding, though, I won't hold my breath.

Monday, February 07, 2011

"our house in the middle of our street..."

It was when I found myself knee-deep in a pile of leaves and dead chrysanthemum branches yesterday that I realized we are "those neighbors." You know the ones I mean - usually the first ones to put up/take down holiday decorations, pull the trash can away from the curb or begin landscaping. The neighbors who, because of their eagerness to play in the yard, forces the others on the block to get out and do their landscaping, too, because no one wants to be the other kind of neighbors, i.e. the trashy ones.

Now it's not like I really wanted to be out doing yard work on big game Sunday. Although the welcome sunlight and temps in the mid-50s did help exponentially. But the best gardening advice my grandmother ever gave me was to always cut back the flower beds on the first weekend of February, especially the roses. She told me that even if I did nothing else, pruning on the first weekend of February would almost guarantee a full and healthy rose bush come spring. I've always adhered to that rule and I've always had very successful rose bushes, even when I was growing them in pots on an apartment balcony. She also told me to be wary of marrying a conservative, but that's another story for another day.

So I cut, trimmed, hauled, and otherwise played in the dirt on Sunday afternoon and now all of the flower beds look much less like a spooky Tim Burton creation. I'm concerned about the lily bulbs that have already sprouted, as well as the mums which have greened at the base, especially since today we've accumulated about an inch or so of snow. Mother Nature is apparently not a gardening fan this year. I did learn that gardening and pyromania do go hand in hand when pruning pampas grass. Simply cut back as much as you're comfortable with and set the rest ablaze. It will burn down to a lovely, ashy stump and when warmer weather comes the new growth will pop right through. Now that I've been saddled with this bit of knowledge, I probably won't ever plant pampas grass so closely to my home ever again...I went ahead and burned it, but was terrified the entire time of the house catching on fire, too!

So while busy with all of this, I became very cognizant of the dirty looks from neighbors who I'm sure would rather I'd stayed lazy for another few weeks or so. Thus, the realization that I have become "that neighbor." Perhaps I'll leave the trash can at the curb a few extra days this week as penance, lest my mailbox flag get ripped off again. Damn hoodlum kids.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

"signed, sealed, delivered..."

Leftover Chinese food and streaming updates from national signing day. I am such a dude sometimes.

From the sound of things, Freeze has done a damn good job in the short amount of time he had to recruit for A-State. The sad thing is that now I really have nothing to look forward to except the random spring practice update. The football offseason is truly depressing.

Winter's grip is still quite strong and everyone is miserable. We had a brief respite this past weekend with a gloriously sunny Saturday in the mid-60's. I'd wager over half of the Facebook updates were in praise of the weather. Everyone was absolutely starving for a chance to feel the sunshine and take in a breath that didn't freeze the windpipes. Unfortunately that damn jet stream is having its way with us once again and all I can do is dream of the spring days yet to come.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"if you steal my sunshine..."

Winter is the pits. Period. I've never had strong feelings one way or another on SAD (seasonal affective disorder), but I can undoubtedly say that the lack of warmth and sunshine is wreaking havoc with my life right now. We've had two, albeit crappy, snows thus far this winter, but mostly just gray, cloudy skys filled with weak rains and cold, soggy air. I am craving sunlight and the chance to be outside without feeling miserable. I'm tired of layering up just to be comfortable while at home. See what I mean? Winter = whiny.

On an utterly different note: someone is going to have to explain a recent Target commercial to me. Target has always been one of my favorite advertisers - I think they're witty and they've really manage to develop and remain consistent with their branding as the Wal-Mart for hipsters and yuppies. Now I get the latest commercial linking the peanut butter, jelly and bread. But I am stumped when it comes to finding the common bond between yoga, happy hour and mascara. Here's the clip:

Now if someone can figure that out and enlighten me, perhaps I'll get to sleep tonight.

Speaking of television, there are an alarming number of shows on right now that capitalize on the "WTF Factor" of human abnormalities: My Strange Addiction, Hoarders and the like. I can't stand to watch that stuff. I'm doing all I can to keep my life on track these days and spending my time watching other people who aren't even in the same time zone as their track depresses me. You know what else depresses me? In a few weeks after the Super Bowl (which I probably won't even watch because I have absolutely no vested interest in either team) comes the football offseason. *sob, tear* You'd think I'd be happy to see it go...the 2010 season wasn't exactly a good one for me.