Friday, January 28, 2011

Stress Busters

I'm thinkin' I need to log a little hammock time. But seeing as I'm planted firmly in the state of Wisconsin and the calendar still says January....its not gonna happen.

Its not just that its cold and snowy and I'm sick of winter....I have been seriously stressed out lately. There is just too much bouncing around inside my head. Usually, I'm Conductor Extraordinaire of all those thoughts and ideas and responsibilities. Most days, to-do lists and project deadlines dance around each other almost effortlessly. I am the Master Multitasker.

But, lately, all those things in that head of mine just seem to be running into each other and getting lost in the nooks and crannies. I am completely drained and still don't get everything (or anything!) done.

Clearly, I'm not dealing with stress well. I'm certain my body is producing cortisol by the gallon. Of course this doesn't help my runner's physique any. And I haven't been sleeping well either. And, when I do sleep, its not that deep, restful, kitten-in-a-cloud, kinda sleep. So when I wake up, I'm still tired.

So rather than gripe about it, I'm acknowledging a problem and trying to find ways of coping. I even started using a yoga DVD again. Its not my favorite thing to do, but I have noticed a marked difference in how I feel when I use it. Now, for readers who may remember, I did NOT sign back up with Little Miss Yoga Chick from the Lessons in Contortion post. Instead, I used a kindler, gentler yoga instructor that was recommended to me. Her name is Megan Garcia and she is a plus-size model. She understands that some people don't just bend in half. And that when fat women bend in half there is usually a significant amount of boobage in the way.

Anyway, I'm making a conscious effort to manage the stress in my life. But all I can come up with is yoga and extra-long hot showers. I have one of those rainfall shower heads....its heavenly. I'm convinced if I could just set up an office in the shower I would probably be the leader of the free world. 'Cause I am all sorts of brilliant in the shower.

But, for the sake of my water bill, I need some more ideas. What do you guys do to manage stress? Any tips for sleeping better at night?

I totally have the Ghostbusters theme song in my head.


Now I'm never gonna get to sleep.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Surprised, Humbled, and Re-energized!

I am just all sorts of surprised!

A fellow blogger over at Big White Granny Panties (don't you just love the name!) wrote a post today about my little ol' blog. I was a little taken aback that I had enough to say to actually warrant such a thing. I'm very touched by it and quite humbled that she singled me out.

She told me she went back and read my blog from the beginning. Which inspired me to do the same. (Partly because I was a little stunned that someone would care enough about my ramblings.) I found that re-reading some of the older posts helped me to relive those moments of clarity I had in the beginning of my journey, remember the struggles I faced along the way, and feel that sheer determination that allowed me to keep going when I thought I couldn't.

I know my new friend says I inspired her, but she has also returned the favor. Her actions and kind words have stoked the fire that has been smoldering over here for the last few months.

I started my blog because I knew I couldn't reach my goal without some accountability. But over this past (almost) year I've made some great friends and gotten helpful advice from people who were once perfect strangers. And who knew I would actually inspire someone along the way?

Big White Granny Panties is a fun, new blog. I still chuckle when I remember one of the lines from her  first post. (She is talking about getting a physical in preparation for a weight loss plan.) She says: "....and [the doctor] let me know I have the body composition of a Butterball turkey." Funny stuff :) Go check it out.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Off Topic Football Rant

Okay...when I started this blog I decided to only include running-related content. I didn't want it to become a place where I would discuss my personal life, or politics, or the ten best chicken recipes. Not that there is anything wrong with those blogs. I read some of them. But I like to keep my distance a little bit. Sure, you guys have shared some emotional times with me, but I'm usually not shoving my personal opinions at you or igniting any sort of debates.

However, I must deviate from the plan for today. Then, I promise, I will get back to the matter at hand - training for my first race of the year (in less than two months!) and, ultimately, for the marathon in November.

I live near the Wisconsin/Illinois border. I am, without doubt, a Packer fan through and through. And I couldn't be happier that my team is in the Superbowl! I have a lot of friends who are Bears fans. And even though I have participated in years and years of Packers/Bears rivalry, I am surprised at the amount of mean-spiritedness going on these last two days.

Admittedly, I have seen some Packers fans going a little overboard with the smack-talk. I have a couple friends (Packers fans) on my FB feed who certainly crossed the line and made things uncomfortable for those of us trying to enjoy this. But the number of Bears fans being just downright mean is startling. I understand what its like to support a losing team. I've been there for plenty of years. But, seriously people...its a game.

Do you really "hate" the other team? Do you really "hate" their fans just because they wear the wrong color? That whole gang mentality is a little dangerous if you ask me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not talking about all Bears fans. I have some friends who have been incredibly classy and proudly sport their Bears jerseys in support of their team while congratulating the opposition. Some have expressed their sadness and nursed their wounds quietly. But then there are others who have grown horns and fangs and, frankly, scare me a little right now. Some have even turned on their own QB for not playing through an injury. Its like football cannibalism. If there is a bright side for the Bears fans it has got to be that they discovered their third-string QB can hold his own.

But I point is that if you are a football fan aren't you a fan of the game? Are you a football fan first and then a Packer fan? Or are you a 'insert team name here' fan and then a football fan? I have certainly seen folks who are a fan of their team, above and beyond anything else. So your team loses and it feels like you have nothing left to cheer for. I agree that I'm not nearly as excited for a game if my team is not there - but I still enjoy the game. So, I guess that makes me a fan of football first. And a Packer fan second. I don't think it makes me less of a Packer fan. Anyone who sees the decor of my office or the licence plates I sport on my truck can see where my loyalties lie. But I think the game is bigger than any one team.

I'm thankful I get to watch my team play a few extra games this year. But when it comes right down to it, no matter who is playing - its all about the game.

To bring this back to the intended topic of this blog - I'm super excited to run the Soldier Field 10 miler in May. Finishing on the 50-yard line at Soldier Field is an amazing thrill for me! That stadium has a rich history and, being a football fan, I appreciate the tradition and history of the team that plays and practices there. Although, after the goings on of this past weekend....I'm not so sure I should wear my Packers NFC Champions shirt for the race :)

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Has anyone noticed any of the changes on the right side of my blog?

I didn't think so. But since I'm still in planning mode and won't yet move into training mode until tomorrow, I really had nothing else to write about.

I had to cancel the Rock n Roll half in Chicago. I had a conflict that I couldn't really work around. I guess that one will have to wait until next year. But, I promptly added the Madison Mini Marathon in its place for the following weekend. I'm not so sure I'm in love with the course though. Anyone out there have experience with this one?

I also snuck the Bunny Dash in there. That one sounds harmless enough, doesn't it? My bff even said she *might* be convinced to hop through the Bunny Dash with me. That would be so much fun! I'm already waiting for them to get Easter stuff in the stores so I can hook us up with some bunny ears. Okay.... we won't actually hop through the race....well, not the whole thing anyway. Does anyone else hear the "Bunny Hop" song playing in their heads now? Oh! Is that just me? Lovely.

Another change - I will be adding a real live running buddy to my training.

Now, since beginning all this craziness it has just been me out there solo, schlepping through the miles. Sure, I eventually got Gary to tag along. And now I can't imagine heading out the door without him. But by new running buddy actually has a pulse!

I'm excited about this. Especially since its my 14-year old son! He asked me if he could run the Wine and Dine half with me this year. Of course I said yes. (He will be 15 at the time.) I was quite surprised at his request though, because he kept making fun of me throughout my struggles last year. Not in a mean way, but asking "why are you doing this if you are sore afterwards?" and "its not like someone is making you run all the time." I guess he thought I had lost my mind a little. But now the boy is intent on getting his own finisher's medal. I suppose there is just something about that bling that makes a person a little less rational.

I'm happy to have my son with me on the trails. It will be far less lonely. And perhaps it will help me to stay more positive since I will be encouraging him along the way. There is a little part of me that will miss the silence of my solitary runs in the Wisconsin countryside. But I'm way more happy to have inspired the boy to back away from the PS3 controller and lace up his shoes.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Travel Planning

One of the benefits of all these races is that I get to plan for all the fun that surrounds them. I am Planner Extraordinaire and I LOVE any reason to map out a vacation or research hotel rooms. Its all great fun for me. So much fun, in fact, that I spend more time planning for the race than I do training for it. Oops!

Plus, I have several other non-race related travels happening this year. So its a delicate little puzzle to make all this work. There are two conferences I'm excited about. One is in NYC. That deserves a little extra planning so I can fit in a Broadway show or two. Don't you think? And there is a cruise in October after the Wine and Dine Half Marathon: Take 2. And there is a music festival crammed into July somewhere that the kids and I are looking forward to. I am in Planner Heaven!

I got kind of wrapped up in my spreadsheets and folders of printed course maps this week. Then I came across another printout....its the training schedule for my first half marathon this year - on May 7th. (See how I have to say first half marathon this year. Since I've already run a half marathon. I mean, I would hate to confuse anyone and have them think this is my first one ever. 'Cause I actually completed that first one last October. Isn't that so cool?)

So yea....that training schedule....I guess I missed a couple days on that already. Not such a great start. I suppose I need to take that bad boy out of the folder and stick it somewhere I can see it. But, to make myself feel a little better I have gathered a few excuses to lob at you. 1) Its 4 degrees outside. 2) It was the first week of classes of my 'almost' last semester of college. (I still have to take three classes that weren't offered this term. I'm hoping I can get those done in the summer so it doesn't interfere with lots of travel plans this fall!) 3) Its 4 degrees outside.

That's all I got.

Even I can agree that those aren't great excuses. I need to plan around my schedule better. And suck it up about running in the cold. I suppose I also need to plan how I'm paying for all this.

But vacation planning is just so much more fun!

Friday, January 14, 2011

For the Bling of It!

I know you guys haven't heard from me in awhile. I've been quietly gaining back 30 of the 60 pounds I lost last year. The combination of going back to college, prepping for the holidays, and picking up dinner through the drive thru each night has taken its toll.

After running my first half marathon in October I wasn't sure that I would ever do something like that again. It was tough for me. But then I ran the Hot Chocolate 5k with my daughter, Courtney, and had the time of my life! I walked most of it since this was her first race of any type and she had not really prepared. It was an accomplishment for her just to finish the distance. Walking with her under the beautiful Chicago skyline I realized I wanted to just take off and run. But she wasn't up for more than a jog, so I held back. It was then that I realized I missed running. Of course I stayed with her and loved sharing each moment with her - this was not a race for a PR. It was much more important than that.

Afterwards, I had no upcoming race. I had no goal other than finishing my semester at school with the aspiration of maybe, someday, getting to sleep eight hours in a row. I didn't run. I didn't exercise. I ate dinner out of a paper bag. And I fueled myself with a delightful combination of coffee and M&Ms. So, in three months, I managed to pack on weight like a Sumo wrestler trying to make his weight class. I did finish my classes with my GPA intact though :) So all is not lost.

Now that I've had a few weeks to catch my breath, I'm giving into this nagging voice inside my head wanting me to update this blog. I've been a little perplexed as to what sort of goal to set for myself this year. I know I want to return to the Wine and Dine Half Marathon. I want to be better prepared so that I can enjoy the experience more. I want to have time to stop for pictures rather than using up the only precious minutes I have at the bathrooms. But - I also wanted something more than that. Running my first half marathon was a BIG deal and I didn't want my goal for this year to just be a do-over.

Thankfully, Lesley and Sherry over at came up with a challenge for me! So I will be running 12 races this year and writing race reports about each. In addition.....

wait for it.....

I'm attempting my first FULL marathon in November. Ambitious? Perhaps. But some people didn't think I could do 13.1 last year either.

Of course I'll need to actually start exercising again and back away from the M&Ms....