Monday, February 25, 2013

Be awesome instead

So, Mother Nature is making training pretty tough this winter and with several inches of snow on the ground and no sidewalks or paths clear to run on , the forecast for last weekend called for 8-12 MORE inches.  As if that wasn't bad enough, work was extra stressful last week.  Office politics combined with incompetence of others and frustration with workload equaled a coworker taking their stress and frustration out on the next person to talk to them - ME.  I'm a big girl and I have been insulted before, but this came from someone I thought was a friend so it was particularly hurtful and upsetting.  I went on with my work and decided to be the more mature person and resisted the urge to respond.  Instead I dealt with it the only way I know how, I went for a run afterwork.

I ran 6 miles along the Charles.  It was ridiculously windy and I told myself the wind in my face was responsible for the tears that formed in my eyes, not the sting of the painful words thrown at me earlier.  It didn't matter at the end of my run, I felt better.  My mind was cleared.  The heavy feeling on my heart was lifted.  The wounds of the day will take time to heal, but I am confident, strong, and successful and I have overcome obstacles far greater than meaningless immature words used in anger.

Friday, the awkward aftermath of the exchange the day before hung in the air, but it didn't stop me from being very productive and continuing to kill it and get stuff done.  After work, I decided to treat myself to a little retail therapy.  The zipper on my favorite jeans broke in the morning, they are the jeans I bought when I first lost 100lbs., so they are kind of old and I am overdue for a new pair.  I headed to the mall straight from work.  First stop was Lululemon, dropped about $100 on a new running top and some crops (both on sale).  Then I went to Express to find new jeans.  They don't make the same pair I had, so I tried on every style they make in various cuts, colors, sizes.  Finally, found 3 pairs that fit like a glove and got a great deal - two pairs were buy one get one 50% off, that other pair was on clearance for $20!  All the trying stuff on made me hungry so I had to stop at Trader Joes on the way home to get snacks. 

Saturday morning I got up to do my long run, the snow was suppose to start later in the day/evening so I wanted to get my miles in before it got gross out.  I was on my own and in no rush really so I just took my time getting ready, sipping my tea and eating a little breakfast.  I stepped out the door to Eminem's 'Til I Collapse' pumping me up and motivating me for a good solid run.  Started out nice and easy, 12 miles on the plan, no need to sprint out.  I started thinking and reflecting on my training and race performances recently and just wishing that I could get back to my 4:30 marathon pace.  First three miles were a warm up and included my favorite big mile long hill, so I averaged around a 10:30 pace.  Then I settled into a comfortable rhythm and ignored my garmin and just ran.

It was cold out, but the sun was bright and warmed me.  I took my first gel around 4.5 miles and felt really good.  Legs were working hard, heart and lungs pumping in perfect harmony.  Took my second gel around 8.5 miles and hit the home stretch of the run.  Focused and completely calmed by the beat of my heart and my feet hitting the pavement, I looked up and just ahead of me there was a family of 4 deer slowly crossing the road right in front of me.  There was something so peaceful and beautiful about it that it brought tears to my eyes.  Moments like that remind me why I love long runs on back roads.  I see the most amazing things that no one else gets to see and other people might take for granted if they did see it.  Time stops, it's just me and the road and the sound of my breathe and the beat of my heart and the simple beauty of another creature out enjoying the crisp morning air.

I did the math in my head and realized my 12 mile run was going to be closer to 13 miles, on a bad day this would have been devastating, but on this day it was totally fine. I powered on and picked up my pace, determined to finish strong.  13.25 miles done, average pace 10:15 - just below a 4:30 marathon pace (10:18).  Hopefully, I can keep it up and run a great race in Big Sur. 

I celebrated the strong run with friends at a wine tasting in New Hampshire.  It was hosted by a friend and former colleague and many of the attendees were former colleagues that I hadn't seen in years.  It was really great to catch up with everyone and enjoy some delicious wines and cheeses too.  I had a great time talking and hanging out with everyone.  Many laughs and long stories later, it was 9:00pm!  Considering the wine tasting started at 3:00pm, I was impressed I was even still awake.  I drove home and the snow was starting to come down, but not nearly as heavy as predicted.

Sunday I spent the day relaxing on the couch and doing laundry.  We got a dusting of snow, but it mostly turned to rain and slush, not enough accumulate, just enough to make a mess.  I went to the grocery store and ran some errands, but pretty much spent the majority of the day in my PJs watching movies.  Finshed out the weekend completely relaxed and refreshed, ready to take on another week at work.

OH, I have been so busy I almost totally forgot all the other things I have worked on accomplishing outside of work and running.  I'm trying to chip away at my 'to-do' list this year and check off as many things as possible.  So, I bought a slack line so that when the snow melts I can try 'funambulism' - aka tight rope walking.  I registered for Boston Trapeze School class in a few weeks.  And I purchased a glass blowing class deal.  I'm also working on trying to get a ride along with the Andover Fire Dept. in exchange for winning the bet at the Stair Climb a few weeks back.  That's on my list too.  I'll have to remember to take pictures of all these adventures so I can post them.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Blizzards suck

Ok, so it's been two weeks since my last update and we've got over two feet of snow in the area.  After the stair climb I was all ready and motivated to start getting serious about my training for Big Sur, then the blizzard of 2013 (aka - Nemo, yes they named the storm) happened.  It started on Friday February 8th and snowed straight through Saturday evening.  I measured 18 inches at 6am Saturday and I'm pretty sure we got at least another 6 inches after that.  Kind of ruined my plan to run 10 miles.
There was actually a driving ban in place from Friday afternoon to Saturday afternoon to let the plows clear the roads so I probably could have run right in the middle of the roads with my yaktrax, but I've already been hit by a garbage truck, I didn't want to add plow truck to the list.  I gave up completely and accepted the idea that I would not run at all that weekend.  Luckily, I had a back up plan, on my way home from work Thursday night I stopped at REI and bought myself some snow shoes.  I've been meaning to try it out for a while.  It's on my "to-do" list so I figured with a record breaking storm on the way, why not take advantage and try something new in the crappy running conditions.

Friday I stayed home from work to avoid the roads and the possibility of being stranded on 93N in my car (did that in college one February because my alternator died, it was NOT fun).  I parked my car overnight in a nearby garage to keep the road clear and to try and save myself the effort of clearing a mountain fo snow from my car.  So, snowed in, bored, couldn't run, I decided to start cooking and baking.  I had a ton of frozen super ripe bananas in the freezer so banana nut muffins were first.  In the morning before it started snowing, I went to breakfast with my Massachusetts parents - Ann and Jack.  Jack works for the town next to mine and would be driving a plow for the next 36-48hrs.  I gave him the first batch of muffins, still warm right out of the oven.

After breakfast I continued to bake and cook.  Cleaned my house a little.  Watched some movies.  Read a book.  Did laundry and dishes.  I guess snow storms make me extremely productive.  I had made about 4 dozen muffins and given the first batch to Jack.  Then as if they read my mind (or someone called them) the Lowell Fire Dept. showed up outside my house.  They were responding to one of my neighbors, I think their carbon monoxide detector went off.  Anyway, they were in and out pretty quick, but not before I slipped my boots on and brought them a bunch of the freshly baked banana nut muffins.  I told them I was going to walk them downtown to them, but they saved me the trip.  They were extremely appreciative and even honked and waved as they pulled away.  Mission "feed the emergency crews for the blizzard" - accomplished!

Later in the evening, my neighbor Annie came over and we hung out drank some wine and chatted.  We were both home alone so it was nice to catch up and have someone to hang with in case we lost power.  I went to bed before the storm got really bad, I think there was only 4-5 inches on the ground.  Then when I woke up Saturday there was 18 inches.  I had to push the snow drift away from my front door and shovel off my porch to get a broom stick into the level section of snow in front of my porch to measure.  I thought for sure it would have been closer to 2 feet, but it was still snowing really hard so, 18 inches was enough.  One of my neighbors works for the city and he had just come in to rest after plowing all night so I got dressed and went outside to clear a path for him in case he had to go back out.  And as much as I hate my neighbor upstairs from me and his dog, I thought about the poor animal getting up in the morning and having to pee, so I shoveled a path for him too.  Shoveling that little section of path took me a good solid hour.
I went in ate breakfast, dried my clothes and continued to bake.  Made brownies and cookies and more muffins.  By mid-day, snow was still coming down, but not nearly as heavily as earlier.  Time to try out my new snow shoes.  I grabbed a back pack from my closet and loaded it up with all the baked goods I had made.  Layered up warm clothes and put my boots on, then headed out on a little adventure.  Snowbanks were easily 5 feet tall, streets were not totally clear, sidewalks were covered in 2 feet of snow, and with no cars or people out really it was really quiet and peaceful.  I made my way downtown to deliver my treats to the police station.  Some people were venturing out to start the process of shoveling out their cars or driveways.  Some people were walking around just surveying the massive amounts of snow everywhere.  For the most part, downtown Lowell was a ghost town:

The police station is a little over a mile from my house, I made it there and back in under an hour.  I didn't really keep track of the time I spent getting my snowshoes on and off or how much time I spent unloading my baked goods at the police station and chatting with the officer (that I think I woke up when I walked in).  It was definitely a good work out though.  I was drenched when I got home and my legs were a little sore.  I got some lunch and then it was time to start shoveling. 

Even though I emailed and called all the people that live in my condo building and told them to park in the FREE garage, the idiot upstairs and his wife still left their cars on the street.  And there were a few other random cars parked in front of our building just to make the road a huge friggin mess for everyone to deal with.  One side of the street was almost completely cleared by the plows, but the other side was a mess.  People got out lawn chairs and tables and step stools and random items to save their shoveled out spaces in the street.  My idiot neighbor neatly snowblowed his car and his wifes car and left the rest of the street a huge mess.  So, because I'm nice and thinking of the other residents and of course my own car that would have no place to park, I started to clear the remaining snow in the street.  One of the random cars parked in front of our condo left this giant mountain fo snow behind when they left:
I worked for about 4 hours to move it off the street and clear the road so that someone could use the space to park.  One shovel full at a time, I moved a mountain.  I had a little help from my neighbor's grandson, but he mostly complained the whole time about how big the pile was and how impossible the task was.  I just kept shoveling and assured him it would get done, it might take time and effort, but it would get done.  And finally around 7pm.  We had cleared the road:
Needless to say I was exhausted and really sore the following day so I spent the entire day on the couch.  I didn't even go grocery shopping.  I did absolutely nothing.  Which was probably good because the week ahead at work was going to be pretty busy and very stressful.    After being snowed in for three days I was actually happy to go back to work, but we were having an audit and I was the scribe for the week so that meant I had to take the daily notes and try to keep up with my regular responsibilities too.  I worked 12 hours each day Monday through Thursday, then we wrapped up early Friday and I left before lunch.  I hadn't run in almost 2 weeks.  I made plans to do a long run the next day with Kim so I used my free afternoon to do some shopping.  I got my tax return and I've been eyeing a buffet table at IKEA for my dining room/accomplishment wall/craft storage space.  I went straight from work to IKEA, then home to assemble my purchase.
Looks good right?  All my scrapbook stuff and race photos neatly stored in the cabinet and vegan/vegetarian cookbooks on top, then shadow boxes and race certificates displayed above.

Saturday, it was snowing AGAIN!  Kim and I delayed the start of our long run hoping the snow would stop.  It took a break just long enough for us to get in a strong 10 miler.  Along the way somewhere in Ayer or Shirley we met up with this guy out for an 18 mile training run for Boston and started chatting.  We ran about 6 miles with him and learned he also worked in the biotech industry in Cambridge.  We had run a few of the same races and turns out he has an Ultra team for the Reach the Beach relay in Massachusetts and needs a few more runners.  So we exchanged emails mid-run and just like that I'm signed up for an ultra relay.

Anyway, after the run, I headed home and it started snowing MORE.  We got about another 6 inches.  It was a long weekend and I could have run again, but instead I relaxed, napped, baked a little more, made some vegan lasagna, watched a movie and then Monday went to my favorite running store Whirlaway Sports Center in Methuen and got some new shoes.  Got some new underarmor tights and a free book, because I guess I won some online contest. 

Back to work Tuesday and I even squeezed in a short 5 mile run after work.  I brought my gear to run again today because according to the forecast, we may get another storm this weekend.  Mother Nature is really making it challenging to train for a marathon right now.  I have a 12 miler on the plan for the weekend.  Could be dangerous and I will most likely be running in the road with reflective gear on, but as long as we do not get a significant amount of snow I should be ok.  Oh and then I have a 3 mile race Sunday.  Almost forgot about that.  67 days til the marathon (87 days til the ultra relay).

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A little disappointed, but moving on

Last weekend was the Race Up Boston Place stair climb.  I was registered to climb twice again.  I got my start times emailed to me Thursday and I knew it was going to be rough.  I had about 10 minutes between start times.  My first climb at 9:32 and my second climb at 9:41.  It took me 8:30 to do the climb last year and I was in better shape and did a little training for it.  This year I had no training and a little extra weight to carry up the stairs.  I figured I would do the best I could and just see how it went. 

Friday after work I went for acupuncture and facial rejuvenation.  A little pampering and preparation for the big day ahead.  It was nice as usual and I had a few magnets strategically placed on points for lung capacity just for a little extra help.  Got to sleep early and tried to rest.

Saturday morning I got up, had some tea and breakfast, and headed to Fit Lifestyle Studios to meet up with one of the two teams I was climbing with.  I think if they had a trophy for best looking team we would win it:
I'm in the middle wearing the running skirt.  It was freezing cold out, but I wanted to look cute.

Drove to the financial district in Boston and parked next to the building we were about to scale.  41 floors, 82 flights, 789 steps - and I was doing it TWICE! I must be crazy.  But my answer to anyone that asked me "Why would you want to do this twice?" was simple, life is short.  I want to cram it full of crazy fun challenging experiences and not waste a single minute.  I think I do a pretty good job of accomplishing that, but I want to try harder in 2013 and really get a lot done.

I got my bib numbers, which was a little confusing considering I was on the list twice with two different numbers, start times, team names.  Eventually the volunteer got it and pulled both numbers for me.  I went up to the lobby and pulled a sign out of my bag so that the rest of my team could locate me.  I knew half of the members, but the other half were from different parts of my company and I had never met them.  One of the girls I know was standing with me and noticed there was another group of people standing nearby with sequential numbers right after ours.  BINGO!  The rest of our team!

So, a lot of the teams that do the stair climb have matching shirts made up for the event.  That's expensive!  I can't afford to buy everyone a shirt.  I came up with an alternate idea.  I found stick on mustaches at target and thought that would make for a great team photo.  We all put them on and put our game faces on and in an effort to intimidate the competition here is what we looked like, pretty bad ass if you ask me.  Hahaha

8 of the 10 team members were first timers so I tried to give them a little pep talk before the start and tell them to start slow and just keep going.  Before we knew it, it was time to go.  I checked my bag and got in line.  I got to the front and the woman told me to go.  I started out and right away it felt harder than I remembered.  I looked up and saw that I was only on the 3rd floor and I was already dying.  Pushed through it and just kept moving.  Got to the first water stop on the 16th floor and saw people stopping, my chance to pass them.  Kept climbing up and up and up.  Volunteers in the stairwells this year were a lot more enthusiastic and pretty great.  There was a guy on the 23rd floor giving high fives!  AWESOME.  Water stop at 28th floor, pass, kept going.  Before I knew it I was at 30 and then 35 and 40! The girl at 40 was pretty annoying.  She had one of those clacker things and was just making noise and not cheering.  FINALLY, made it to the top.  Bypassed the water and headed straight for the elevator to get downstairs to go again.

I almost forgot to pass in my timing chip before I got on the elevator.  I got to the lobby and got right behind the next person to go.  Still hacking and breathing hard.  Time to go again.  The timing woman started to do her little speech about when to go and what to do and then realized she had already seen me.  And off I went to climb again.  OH. MY. GOD.  It was so much harder without any recovery inbetween.  Holy crap.  I was instantly spent and dying.  I made it to the top again, but it took me a lot longer.  My official finish times were 9:21 and 11:17.  A lot slower than last year.  Guess I should have actually trained for it.  Oh well.  It was fun.  Here is Team One More Flight at the top inbetween coughing fits:

A few of us went for brunch afterwards and stopped along the way for a cupcake at Sweet.  A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  I told the guy he should offer a deal to the people that climbed because he would make a killing.  I had a buttermilk pancake cupcake with blueberry preserves and maple infused buttercream frosting!  That counts as breakfast right?  It was so yummy.  I got his contact info so that we could make arrangements for some sort of deal next year.

After brunch, we went back over to the building to watch the fire fighters climb and hopefully to watch Portland Fire defend their title.  It always amazes me to watch all of the fire departments climbing in about 50lbs. of gear.  It's hard enough without the extra weight.  And a lot of them climbed faster than me!!!  Super impressive.  I was tempted again to climb in gear, but after disappointing times in the morning without gear I decided against it.  Maybe next year.

After Portland and Andover finished climbing, we hung out for a little bit and then made our way over to the bar for the after party.  I don't drink much, but the beers tasted pretty good after shredding my lungs all morning.  We ended up drinking with my friend's husband and Andover Fire dept.  I won the bet I had with him, Portland Fire beat them by an average pace 20 seconds faster.  Although they did have the fastest fire fighter overall on their team.  That made me a little nervous as they were reading the results, but I knew PFD wouldn't let me down.

The rest of the night is kind of a blur.  There were shots ordered, drinking from the fastest fire fighter trophy, moved to a different bar, got hard cider in a free frosted glass, then someone suggested another bar and as we made our way there we got separated and while trying to figure out how to get to the bar we met this very well dressed man in a cowboy hat who happened to have a limo and he offered to give us a ride FOR FREE.  We made it to the next bar and in case no one believed us about the free limo ride we took a picture:
We finished off the night with some dancing and very expensive appetizers.  I paid the tab and apparently it included some drinks that I didn't know I was paying for.  Oh well.  Grabbed a cab to the parking garage, which turned out to be the wrong one and we had to walk a ways to the right one which wasn't the one MY car was in so the group gave me a ride to the one my car was in and I eventually made it home around midnight just before I turned into a pumpkin, just kidding.  Needless to say Sunday I was complete junk.  Spent the day on the couch drinking lemon ginger tea with honey.
Monday I kicked off the week with a 6 mile run along the Charles and Tuesday I did a deck of cards workout at home (Hearts= squats, Diamonds=dips, Clubs=burpees, Spades=Sit ups). Each number card is it's value, face cards are 10, aces are 16.  Going through the whole deck equals 100 of each exercise.  I was dripping sweat by the time I finished.  Time to get serious about my training and get back on track.  FOCUS!  About 80 days til Big Sur and then it will be triathlon season before I know it.  Enough of this being lazy BS, I'll rest when I'm dead.  hahaha