Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Permission

I think I’m in a rut, a really long rut. I have been in a rut for so long that I’m not even sure it can be called a “rut” anymore. While I’m at it, “rut” is a weird word when used so many times in a paragraph, isn’t it?

In particular, I’m in a running rut ( < < see, weird word.)

I’m not sure when it started, but I think a couple of events were catalysts to it. The first was training for the Santa Barbara International Marathon with the intention to come in at or around four hours. I used a training program and stuck with it better than I had stuck to programs in the past, only to experience not one, but two, full-on cramps sometime in the second half of the race. I had some better performances in the next two marathons after that, training not nearly as much and using a run/walk strategy. However, that strategy failed me during my most recent marathon, which actually involved me properly training. Sadly, my frustration with that Santa Barbara performance was probably the early part of my downfall.

The second catalyst – moving out on my own. Ironically, I moved into an active community, but I was much more dedicated to my long runs when I lived in a neighborhood that wasn’t active and could get a touch sketchy. Part of this was because it took a while for me to discover the local paths, and I’m sure the second part of it had to do with the fact that I was enjoying my newfound freedom, including the freedom to sleep in, and exercise/eat on an unstructured schedule. While I’d still run, the mileage decreased – partly due to my Santa Barbara results and partly because I had a lot of races that were like forced long runs for which I had to rest/taper. I’d say that these results of these races were generally pretty good to mediocre. Then, I started doing Insanity (and other videos) and found that it seemed to get me just as fit in a fraction of the time. Summer came, and I started running even less, due to the heat that didn’t let up until around my wedding.

During the last week or so before the wedding, I (along with the other 25% of my building) was told that my job at work was being eliminated. I was told that I took the news really well – too well. I was so embarrassed that for a long time, I didn’t tell anyone about this except my soon-to-be husband, at the time. Also, I didn’t want people to pity me during a time that’s supposed to be joyful. So, that day when they sent me home early to “deal with it,” the first thing I did after people-watching at the mall was put on my gear and run. The first song that came on my iPod was “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson.

I’ve still been running several times a week, though lately, perhaps because I’m in heels all day at my new job or because I’m hiking through train stations and hills to get to and from it, my legs have been heavy and stiff a lot. Rather than keep pushing through that, I am finally giving myself permission to do other exercises, maybe even to take it easy for a bit. With all the changes over the past few months – marriage, new job/routine, future planning, etc., I have been working out just as hard from the get-go, and I think that was a mistake, when my schedule now literally comes down to minute-by-minute most of the time. Meanwhile, I’ve been eating out of stress, and my gut is paying the consequences.

I will always love running and will definitely continue to do so, as my marathon is coming up next month. The lack of “Upcoming” races on my sidebar is somewhat disturbing to me, but I’m convincing myself that I’ve just “been around” the local races and am a bit in penny-pinching mode. I’m giving myself permission to just go with the flow and stop being obsessed about “having it all,” because I can’t.

I can’t expect to have the same gusto for running that I did when I completed my first marathon at 21 years old, now that I’m 28 and have marathon #14 ahead of me.

When I found my new job, I set a goal to remain for five years. Yes, I've been in the real workforce for seven years and have held four? five? jobs. However, I can’t expect that I’m going to have some great career, no matter how much I think I “deserve” one after everything I put into my education; after all, I do want children, and I don’t think those things would be compatible for some time. 

I can't keep stressing out over the fact that we can't really afford the type of home in the type of place in which we would like to live, even if this is another thing I felt like we "deserved" because we have stellar credit, saving ethic, and have put a lot into our jobs. The market is a bit cut-throat and oversaturated (ahem, with foreigners wiring cash/carrying suitcases full of it, cough), so I have to grit and bear the smell of dog urine and the noise of neighbors at my apartment complex for a bit longer.

I can’t wish for better relationships with friends and family, and while there is always more I can do, perhaps love is truly unconditional. And the ones who are meant to be by your side are the ones who are willingly, well, there.

I can’t be perfect, whatever that means. I want my fries and sleep sometimes, and maybe I don’t want to be great company all the time. I will do what I can and enjoy, knowing that sometimes, going the extra mile isn’t quite worth it.

And if that’s a rut, then well… here I am.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Watching Boston Marathon

It was just a few days ago that I wrote this post, as my sister was getting ready to head to Boston for the marathon.  Once the tracker said she finished, I moved away from my phone, only to find out later that there was some sort of attack at the finish line.  I had a huge sinking feeling but knew that I wouldn't find out anything until my sister was able to get to her phone/a computer, so I waited.

Thankfully, she, and other family members who had traveled with her, is/are fine.  Yet I still have this deep feeling of sadness for everyone -- runners, spectators, volunteers -- whose days were pretty badly dinged by this incident.

Why someone would want to hurt people while they are in the middle of accomplishing a dream, an athletic feat, is beyond me.  Then again, why someone would want to hurt innocents at any time is always beyond me.

Some people out there today didn't get to finish their dream marathon.  Others might never get to run in the same way again. 

Marathoners, and the running community at-large, can sometimes be competitive and rude in starting corrals, but in times like these, they are some of the most compassionate flocks out there.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Review: Itzy Ritzy - Wet Happened? Bag

Where do you store your smelly gym clothes when you're on the go?

My sister reviewed this bag a while back, though at the time, I was pretty happy just stuffing my "used" gym clothes in plastic bags until I got home and then airing out the bag before re-use (yes, I re-use things to the point of no return, including plastic bags).

Now that I commute by train to the gym daily, I have decided that plastic bags aren't really the best storage anymore.  What if sweat leaks into my giant turtle-shell of a backpack?  What if it smells terrible?  All legitimate concerns, right?

So I "splurged" on Amazon for this bag (they come in different sizes), and I've been using it for a month and a half.

My sweaty gym clothes go right in there, and after a couple of weeks, I usually throw it in the wash.  However, I've noticed it does not accumulate odors over time.  So far, I haven't experienced any leaks, smelled anything bad, or had really any issue with it whatsoever... and... it's environmental.

Supposedly, this will even keep on-the-go diapers contained... not like that's pertinent at this point, unless I wind up taking my niece out somewhere.

I intend to use this for bathing suits and other such "wet" things, and I know it will work well.  No more plastic bags for me!  I may get the snack-sized bags....


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Going to Boston

Not me, of course... but my sister, M.

I was going to write this post next week, thinking that the Boston Marathon was next weekend.  However, it was brought to my attention that it was THIS weekend.... shows how much time (i.e., little) I have these days.

This is me, in Boston, this past June.  I even ran around the Logan airport so that I could say that I "ran in Boston."


Back in the day, M and I had finishing times that were in the same realm.  She was the one who encouraged me to start running races in the first place, after I had spectated quite a few of hers.

Our first half-marathon!!  (circa 2006)

After doing it enough times, we both learned about running and training, and we both started improving.  Well... I improved somewhat, but she totally had her eyes on the Boston "prize."  To me, it seemed totally out of the realm of possibility for most people, but she has proven that enough dedication can get you there.  She BQ-ed at Ojai2Ocean last year (though I never updated my post to say that she actually did BQ, as it was uncertain at that time).

While not all of us will get to that start line, I'm sure we all have that "Boston" goal in our lives.  At one point, that goal was running a half-marathon... a marathon... finishing school... etc.

To follow along her Boston journey, go over to her blog!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Pro Compression Socks Review

I purchased these (on Active GearUp) for $25, which is half of the conventional price.  Having seen a lot of buzz about this brand, I decided to get a neon green pair.  If you’re new here, green is my favorite color (even if I have to settle for neon shades of it).  I used to have a green cell phone and laptop, but these days you can still see me with a green iPod case, Nalgene bottle, and commuter tote bag.



As you can see, I wore them to LA Marathon (to go with the St. Patty’s Day “green” theme).  It was not my first time wearing them, as I had done a few training runs in them.



I like the tightness, which is very similar to CEP’s (the Zensah argyle one I have is not nearly as tight, though I still use it).  What I don’t really like is that it seems way too long for my calf.  I have to fold the top seam down, and then pull it over my knee when I get tired of that.  I think this may had adversely affected my calf during LA Marathon, but I will never know for sure.

Overall, I do like these, though I think I will be using them for recovery from now on due the the length issue.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Catching Up (I'm a Horrible Blogger)

It appears that I have not been keeping up here as much as I’d like.  This is not really like me at all, so shoot.

Blogging:

Since the marathon, I’ve been totally, as they say, “flying by the seat of my pants,” and I generally don’t fire up the computer at home anymore.  The downside of me finally having a smartphone is that it has eliminated the need to use computers as much.

Workouts:

Despite the schedule, I’ve managed to keep up with my fitness routine.  Besides the extra movement I get from all the walking between transit lines and during the mandatory hour-long lunch, I’ve been doing a little Insanity, elliptical trainer, weights (mostly of the upper-body nature), and running 3-4 days a week, usually for about 40-50 minutes.  Yes, I’ve been running by time now, as I only have 55 minutes of gym time (yes, it’s that calculated) – plus, I usually opt for an indoor track over the treadmill.  Said indoor track requires 14.5 laps/mi, and the air is pretty stale for most of the lap, though still more bearable than the treadmill for some reason.  Also, for the most part, I’ve been working out Saturday and Sunday if time allows.  One would think that all this activity has made me into a super-ripped person, but in order to keep up with everything, I think my lunches and dinners have grown in volume, and not always nutritious volume.

As you can see on my sidebar, I have another marathon next month.  Actually, it’s more like two months away, but it IS technically in the next calendar month.  I’m not going to worry for a couple more weeks, when I assume the fitness I got from training for/running LA Marathon has faded.


Bread:

I randomly decided to make this bread recipe from Jacques Pepin, and I must say, it was pretty easy (albeit a bit long, waiting for rising)!



Other:

“The Ukrainian” and I have also been pretty busy with “project get out of apartment.”  Although I have to wake up pretty early now, the lead-footed folks upstairs always seem to wake up even earlier, weekends included, vacuums included.

Birthday:

I haven’t really been out of town since November, when we went on our honeymoon.  Summer is going to be super-busy at work, and my new-employee status means no vacations until Fall.  Thankfully, I get a day off for my birthday, so we have a little getaway planned in a couple of weeks.  On a related note, I remember feeling “old” when I was in my early 20s… looking back, I have no idea why I ever thought that.   About to hit 28, married, calling a day off a “getaway,” getting excited about bread and monetary paperwork… yeah, now I really feel old.  I’m sure I’ll take that back in the future, though.

Random cat photo!