Monday, October 31, 2011

Running Chronicles; 2011 Race Calendar

I thought now would be a good time to outline my 2011 races.  I did what I set out to do this year, which was to make this year the year of the 10K and increased distances.  I took it one step (well, many steps) further by running my first half marathon this past weekend.  I'm currently still on cloud 9 after the Monster half, and wish all my races could be that amazing.  Here is my 2011 race recap.

2011 Races
March 13 - St Paddy's Shamrock Shuffle 5K - time 28:07
April 10 - Chicago Shamrock Shuffle 8K - time 44:24 (with a 5K PR time of 26:54)
April 17 - Equestrian Connection 5 miles - time 49:16:5
April 23 - Egg Shell Shuffle 5K - PR!! time 26:03
May 26 - Chicago Corporate Challenge 3.5 miles - time 29:10
May 29 - Salute Inc. Memorial Day 10K - time 59:32:3
June 5 - United Run For The Zoo 10K - time 1:00:41
June 11 - CVS Run to Stop The Cycle of CVS 5K - time 26:03
July 3 - Frontier Days Stampede 10K - time 1:01:28
July 30th - Running in the Brook 5K - time 28:03
September 4th - Buffalo Grove Stampede 10K - time 59:37
October 1 - Itasca Oktoberfast 5K - time 26:10
October 16 - This Run's For Jack 5K - time *23:55
October 29 - Team Ortho Chicago Monster Dash Half Marathon (13.1)- my first half - time 2:05:39 {race report to follow soon}

In the pipeline -
Thanksgiving Day!  Long Grove Turkey Trot - 5K/8K {I will sign up for the 8K}
December 3 - Rotary Santa Run 5K {note to self; don't try to run this one for time}

For some reason, I thought I'd run a ton more races than this, but I guess by all the running I've done and since joining the racing team, it just feels like I'm always running!

*This race was sold as a 5K, but was not a certified course, and all of us Garmin users found the course to be short - about 2.8 miles rather than 3.1.  So, the time recorded is for a short race.  Estimated 5K finish time would have been just shy of 26 minutes, a big PR for me, had it measured correctly.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mommy's Project 52:13 Bathing

Two children bathing in a small metal bath tubNot Ethel and Fred
I am really enjoying being a part of Mommy's Project 52, and am pleased to have participated each of the 13 weeks since it started!  Some weeks are easier than others to find inspiration for an entry, and since I'm a mom, it would be so easy to write about my kids.  There is just so much to write about when there are kids in the house.  This week is no different, of course, with the subject of 'bathing'.  Kids get dirty, kids need baths.  Mine are no different.  And, at the tender ages of nearly 7 and 4.5, they do bathe together.  In the tub.  Together.  Yes, they do, and I'm totally cool with that, as are they.  But that's not what I'm going to write about today.  Nope, sorry.

In high school, I was a music geek {in today's vernacular, Gleek}.  I took more music classes in high school than any other class.  I played flute and piccolo, and I sang soprano.  Was I good?  Eh, I was OK, never all that great.  Still, I enjoyed the benefits of the vast array of instruction that lay at my fingertips and I loved every minute of it.  Except performing solo.

I have terrible stage fright, and deep down, I'm really shy.  Like, super shy and terrified of new situations, especially when I'm solo.  Back in junior high school, I adopted a coping mechanism to deal with all the teasing I got (let's just say braces and buck-teeth, a straight bob hair cut, thick eyebrows and huge glasses don't do much for the ego, but it's a feast for the mean kids), and the fear that gripped me just being with other people.  Eventually, I realized that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!  And so emerged the loud, funny, jovial personality that most people encounter when they are with me today.

You're probably wondering what all this has to do with bathing, aren't you?  Ya, I would be, too.  Don't worry, I'm getting to that.

So this shy kid (me, of course) decides to pick up an instrument, because her friend who has natural talent festering in her bones best friend at the time told her it would be fun for us to do together.  Figuring I 'should', I took the bait and picked the instrument my friend did, the flute.  We also joined the chorus together, and in the end, we shared music until we graduated from high school.

It was in one of my high school choir classes that we discussed, you guessed it {probably not}, bathing.  OK, now let's get real.  Choir and bathing?  You've got to be kidding me!  Well, young singers often try to mimic the sounds and styles of artists they hear, especially those they emulate.  It's an easy trap to fall in to.  Additionally, many artists have a fear of performing, or stage fright.  In general, people are rather hesitant to go outside their comfort zone.  They have patterns, rituals, routines, and you're hard-pressed to get someone to go outside their comfort zone.  Think about it.

So, this brought us to the subject of bathingBathing is a pretty routine task.  We do it almost on auto pilot, we don't even need to think about it.  We have our routine, we're comfortable with it, and we don't deviate from that.

I'd venture to say that most people fall in to the "wash hair, then body, then rinse" camp.  Others are in the "wash hair, rinse, wash body, rinse" camp.  Some stand facing the shower head, others stand with their back to the shower head, letting the water beat the back of their head.  How many people, do you think, are part of the "wash body first, then hair" camp?  What?  Wash your body first?  You're crazy, nobody would do that!  Of course not!

And so, we were challenged by our teacher, to bathe backwards.  Yes, we were instructed to deviate from our routine, change things up, and do it all backwards, or at least - out of order.   Or, depending on whether you face toward or away from the shower head, literally bathe backwards.

Have you ever tried to do something, something you do every day - probably the same way every time - out of order or backwards?  If not, I dare you to try!  I tried it.  I did everything out of order when I showered the next day.  It was a seriously strange feeling.  Not on the scale of performing solo, public speaking, or going to a party alone wearing a glittery dress (or worse, nude!).  Still, it was out of my comfort zone, it was different than my normal routine, and it made me understand how that feeling isn't really that bad afterall.

While bathing backwards didn't solve my issue with stage fright, and didn't improve my musical talent, it did point out the routine nature of tasks we do every day, including, at that time, singing.  We establish patterns very easily and it's easy to get into a rut rather than a groove.  When you find yourself just going with the motions, repeating the same tasks, moving along on auto pilot, I encourage you to bathe backwards.  Wash your feet before your face, shave your legs before washing your hair, clean out your armpits before you shave your face, just mix it up!

You may never think of bathing the same way again.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Running chronicles; I'm going to do what?

This time last year, I was preparing for my fifth 5K and running only weekly.  My hope for that race was to finish in less than 28 minutes.  I was kind of nervous. 

Today, I am three days away from my first half marathon.  13.1 miles.  I've barely put much thought into the race, the distance, the event.  I don't have a costume.  I am not nervous about running this race.  I am nervous because I'm not nervous.  What?

In April of this year I ran a 5 mile race which was paired with a half marathon.  I remember one woman saying something about the last half she did, and another woman saying she and her husband had done several halfs and they loved that distance.  I was about to embark on only my second 5 mile race, my longest distance race at that time, and wondering how anyone could actually do a half marathon.  13.1 miles was not yet in my running vocabulary, nor anywhere near my radar.  Heck, I'd set out in 2011 to do 10k's and that was a pretty big goal!

Here I am, just days away from running a half marathon.  I'm going to run 13.1 miles.  ME?

I haven't had my usual bout of nerves, counting mileage, self-doubt, questioning why I signed up, none of that.  That's what I did to myself last year with almost each 5K.  That's what I did before many of my races this year (5k's, 8k's, 10k's, 5 milers).  Why have I not started to freak out this time?

The weather seems to be cooperating thus far and is forecasted to be cold but not raining or snowing.  I don't really want to talk (well, write) about how I'm feeling physically.  Mentally, though, I'm oddly calm, confident, and collected.  This is quite unlike me.

Logically, I have no reason to question myself.  I really stepped it up this year.  I increased my mileage, started running more often, and joined a racing team, thus adding track work and varied my routes.  I've been stretching and rolling.  I've slowed down, I've gone faster, I've gone farther, I've gone better.  So why am I stuck thinking that I should be throwing up with anxiety and doubt?  Why am I telling myself I should be worried?  Why do I feel like a half marathon is something I should be taking so much more seriously?  Why do I feel like 13.1 miles isn't out of my reach?  I keep thinking, "It's just a half", as if it's something simple, like going up the stairs.  Not that it won't be a challenge - believe me, this will be a challenge - but I am not feeling like this is insurmountable.

I just put my bib, timing chip, and Nuun in my gear bag.  I will wash my race clothes tomorrow after tonight's track workout.  I've got everything where it needs to be so it's ready when I depart, and the last item on my list is my play list.

Wait, that's it!  I have always been focused on the tunes, the play list, the order of the songs I choose and what mile I should be at with each song.  I have recently decided, though, to go on shuffle for my solo runs, and sans music when I run with the team or do a group run.  Yes, freaky play list me, I've actually mixed it up, literally.  Now that I've said that, I know why I'm not freaking out about 13.1 miles.  It's because I haven't been focusing on 13.1, I haven't been mapping out when each song should start and end, I haven't had the chance to obsess about where I should be when, or what I should be hearing at a certain distance, or when P!nk will announce that it's time to raise a glass.  That's it, that's why I'm not obsessing about this race.

I'm not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  Either way, one thing I am totally looking forward to, which sounds kind of silly, is putting that little oval sticker on my car, announcing that I can go the distance, 13.1!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mommy's Project 52:12 Time Out

Time, the 80's version

Time out.  Time out can be a form of discipline for a child.  Time out can be time spent outside enjoying a walk, the park, a bike ride, or anything outside the house.  Time out can be time spent with a friend, significant other, or alone.  Time out takes on new meaning once you have children.  That's not to say that you can't benefit from some time out if you don't have kids, of course, but honestly, there's nothing like the feeling of time away from the house, kids, pets, dishes, laundry, and sticky floors (OK, that last one might be just me).

Time out is one thing I didn't get enough of my first few years as a parent.  Finally, in 2010, I began enjoying a morning out once a week for a mere couple of hours.  It made a world of difference.  Seriously, two hours isn't much until you sit back and realize that you've spent the majority of the past few years just slightly more social than a hermit.  That's not to say that Hot Dad and/or I had not gotten out of the house those first few years, but the time we did spend out wasn't really spent on ourselves, or on us as a couple.  Instead, we each had our own things to do, our own softball teams to play on, and our own social interactions with different people, and it was rare that we took time out to recharge our own batteries, or reconnect with each other.

Everyone needs a break from the rigors of life.  Work, home, rent, mortgage, family, friends, it's all enough to drive someone insane if they don't get a break once in a while.  Whether it be weekly, monthly, whatever, we all need to take time out from all that we have going on every day and do something for ourselves.

I spent a great deal of time scrapbooking, which was one awesome way to get out of the house, see my girlfriends, and walk down memory lane as I scanned through piles of pictures that I'd printed out in hopes of creating some sort of amazing display on paper with which to showcase them.  It was just the start for me as I searched for something that would allow me to feel like an adult, an individual, something resembling the person I was before kids, and not have a small human attached to my hip at the same time.  It was great, and I was able to showcase the first year or so of my first born's life.  Not much, but, it's a start.

I play softball.  What used to be three and four competitive leagues each summer has turned into one league at work, about as non-competitive as they get, which involves probably more beer than ball.  Weekly, though, I get to enjoy time with coworkers and friends outside the office, away from home, and in a setting of semi-competitive drinking softball.  I happen to also run the league, which affords me the opportunity to change gears and do something other than the tasks required by my job and my home and family.  It's challenging, but not entirely unlike being a mother.  Adults, despite what you might think, are really just children in larger bodies.  They still need to be reminded to use nice words, to follow the rules, be nice to others, and to listen to directions, among many other things. 

It wasn't until last year that I realized that I really had not been spending time on ME.  Sure, I got out of the house and did things, but, I wasn't paying attention to ME, to the person who ultimately needs me most.  And so began my Me Time Sundays.  I spent the majority of the wintry Sunday mornings at a local coffee house, taking time to enjoy the quiet around me, the feeling of not being called for, of not tending to the needs of small people, of not worrying that I wasn't getting enough done or when I'd be able to get a shower and dry my hair or when I'd get the house clean finally or when all the laundry would finally be done or when the kids would just fall asleep for their naps so that I could manage to do anything without them underfoot.  Those Sunday mornings helped me in countless ways.  I got photos sorted on my laptop.  I read a couple of books.  I drank coffee that I didn't have to make (with free refills).  I responded to e-mails from friends, and even sent some of my own.  I kept my calendar up to date.  I relaxed.  I came home energized rather than exhausted.  I also gave Hot Dad and the kids some time to establish their own Sunday morning rituals.  Most importantly for Hot Dad, I gave him the chance to be a dad without a mom being there to sabotage his efforts (knowingly or otherwise).  Those Sunday mornings were great for all of us.

As summer approached, those Sunday morning outings were a little more difficult to squeeze in, and this Hot Mama picked up on a new love.  Wine.  Running. 

OK, so wine is another joy in my life, but running is my true departure.  It's this Mommy's Time Out.  I have noticed a huge change in myself since I began running, and I almost don't recognize the wife and mother I was before.

I began running to appease a friend who wanted me to run a 5K.  Once I finished that race, I started running weekly, then three times a week, and now I'm often hitting the pavement four or five times a week, and I race like it's going out of style.  To say that I am hooked is really an understatement.

Running is my time out.  It makes me feel like I can simply do anything I set my mind to.  It gives me time alone, doing something that only I can do for myself.  It's time I can spend letting my mind go wherever it wants to go.  It's given me confidence that I didn't have before.  It's given me new appreciation for a hot shower.  It's also given me a new appreciation for my husband and my kids.  And that, in a nut shell, is what I call Hot Confidence.

Running is this mommy's time out.  What is yours?

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