Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gobble-dy Cluck

It started with a table. We have a beautiful table. Old. Really old. Long, wide, big planks, beautifully restored. Surrounded by some lovely Windsor chairs.

After a few years of living in small apartments, finding creative ways to pack everything I need in as little space as possible, I may have gotten carried away. We have a dining room. (I had a counter in my last apartment.) We have a driveway and a deck and a yard and a second bathroom. The ultimate luxury on a busy morning.

I may have gotten a little overconfident as we arranged furniture and realized we needed (still need) to do some stocking up in the curtains/rug department. I started saying things like “We should have people over for dinner.” And “Let’s have a cookout.” Drunk on something- (Fresh air from our backyard? Silver polish fumes? The glory of being able to walk more than 3 steps without hitting a wall?) I declared “We should host Thanksgiving. Let’s having Thanksgiving here.” And that’s how it happened.

All summer, all through September I kept telling people, inviting people. At some point in October, about the time they start stocking the Christmas section at Target, I started to get a little uncomfortable. I only have 8 dinner plates. I don’t own a tablecloth. Or a gravy boat. Or an ironing board. I have never roasted a whole chicken much less a turkey. (I mean, why would you? Rotisserie chickens are $6 already cooked and they are so juicy!) I haven’t made biscuits lately, but I have vivid memories of one failed biscuit attempt in which something (baking soda? Baking powder?) was forgotten and I baked some lovely golden crackers. It’s not that I don’t like to cook or want to cook, I’m just happy to let those more competent, capable, and possessing the correct equipment to do so.

But, here we are. It’s Sunday Tuesday. The yard is raked (give that 24 hours and you’ll never be able to tell it happened.) The bathrooms have been cleaned, the house dusted, and there’s 20 pounds of poultry thawing in the fridge. I’ve borrowed plates and tablecloths and napkins from my mother. Now I just need an ironing board and a turkey baster and we're in business.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


This race was different from the other races I’ve done. It was different because I was trying to race it. The goal wasn't Just finish and have fun this time. I was excited because that was exactly why I wanted to be a part of this team. I wanted to be challenged and aim for goals I would never push myself to on my own. 

I missed my goal. By a lot. From the moment I saw the goal I knew it was aggressive. Coulda, woulda, shoulda, I was nervous. I was nervous for about 11.5 miles. I didn't have any major cramps or walls or stomach issues, but my legs weren't sold on the pace. By 11.5, I was just pumping towards the finish line. I knew I wasn’t going to hit my goal and I focused solely on breezing down 5th street to the celebration where I got to stop moving. I looked at my watch constantly, checking my pace.

I could watch marathoners and read their stories/splits/workouts for days on end. I don’t know what it is about people who can run long distances at crazy fast speeds, but it just impresses the heck out of me. The thing that really intrigues me is What’s going on in their head? For me to run a consistent, aggressive pace, I need strongly prefer someone dogging me. A speed workout with a constant view of your coach with a stopwatch is one thing. Miles of road with the opportunity for your mind to drift and your pace to slide are another. Yes, it’s physically hard to maintain that pace for 13 miles, but my mind struggled to focus too. I shift into autopilot, following people, taking in sights, mentally counting dinner plates for Thanksgiving dinner. And suddenly, I glance down at my watch and my that mile was 45 seconds off pace. How in the heck do people focus for 13.1 miles, never mind 26.2?

Conclusion? I like to run. I haven’t made up my mind about racing yet. Yes, I want to run races and I want to run them faster each time. I want 8 min miles to feel comfortably hard, and I want to be able to do them without laser focus on my watch. I want to be able to do them relaxed, to enjoy the sights and crowds, to run with friends. I've never actually run a race with someone. Like, start to finish or even most of the race. I would really like to try that one day, but it's a little hard to convince the fast ones to take a race at your pace, and even harder to convince first-timers that this will be FUN.  

I will keep running. I will do more halfs, hopefully more fulls. There are more times to hit, more goals to achieve. Not just yet, but soon. A week after my race, it is freakin freezing and solidly in tights and mittens to run weather. The stiffness has left my lower body (took a few days) and almost all of the skin under my arms has grown back. I have thoroughly enjoyed hitting the snooze button for 40 minutes each morning, luxuriating in the warmth under my covers. I have run a little, gone to a few spin classes, and raked a rediculous amount of leaves the past two weekends.

I'm not registered for any races yet, but I'm not aimlessly floundering with no challenge in sight. This week, we host Thanksgiving and this girl has never cooked a turkey. (Or gravy.) Game on.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I'll give you the race day play by play soon. For now, this is all you really need to know.

 This is my team. Minus the coaches, minus one very spirited Lulu luminary. This picture captures it so well- the color, the smiles, the warmth. Calm and quiet (Justin), happy to be standing because he knows he couldn't stand back up (Richard). Genuinely interested and engaged in conversation (Sheri), politely smiling while privately thinking yogis are much more sane than runners (Nat), attempting to get us all to do the same thing at the same time and insisting on the importance of pictures (Theresa), (I think Molly is raising the roof?), Sanely choosing to not over-complicate things and just smile (Emma), openly expressing distaste for photo ops (me).

What you don't see is the prom-style line of coaches/significant others with camera phones, all instructing us to smile at the same time. What you might see is a level of comfort that comes from all feeling the same discomforts together. You can't see the tight hamstrings, the achy feet, or the missing skin (because it's missing! It's gone! Not there! Ahhh!!) What I see is a group that I'm seriously thankful to have spent 15ish weeks training with. We all did it. We ran the race, we pushed our comfort zones, we PR'd.

I can't remember what movie it's from, but I've always liked this one:
Beginning are usually scary, endings are sad, but it's what in the middle that really matters.

We met in August, not sure what to expect, not sure who our teammates were, if we were going to get along, what it was going to be like to be coached by Bob and Ruthie. Now, staring down the barrel of Thanksgiving, (I think) we're all feeling twinges of withdrawal, marveling that we actually aren't going to see each other at the track tomorrow night.

But it's everything in the middle- Theresa rallying us for pictures after every group run, Ruthie standing in the middle of a hill making traffic go around us, Richard making peace with yoga... that matters. The PRs and the victories from Saturday are pretty sweet too.

And if we get to feeling a little blue that it's "over", we can take comfort in the fact that what happens on Facebook, follows you around forever. ;)


Friday, November 15, 2013

I Worry

I worry a lot.

I worry that I've forgotten something. That I didn't complete the key paperwork and will miss a deadline.

I worry that I will eat the wrong thing, drink too little, drink too much, and my digestive system will rebel mid-race.

I worry that I will push too hard in the first half, believing I can hold a pace for 13 miles, and will smack into a solid, soul-crushing wall in the second half.

I worry when the woman on TV says left-overs are only safe 3-4 days after they were cooked.

I worry when Seth works through the night. By himself. With heavy machinery.

I worry that without a race or challenge on the books, I will gain weight, lost fitness, and have to buy larger jeans while my muscles atrophy from days of sitting in front of a computer.

All this worry is what wears me out, makes me long for a nap and a pillow over my  head to drown out my thoughts.

There are all kinds of clever sayings about how worry is like a rocking chair (gives you something to do, but never gets you anywhere) and how if you worry about the worst and it comes to pass, then you've lived it twice. These are nice sentiments to keep in your back pocket when you need to soothe a friend or give yourself a quick pep talk, but they don't offer any real solutions. "Don't worry." has got to be the most infuriating direction anyone can give.

Sure. I'll just stop worrying. Thank you for coming along with that insightful, well-thought out bit of guidance. I wish I had thought of that. Poof. I'm not worrying anymore.

I know there are things I can do that make me feel better, that help me worry less. I have allowed my schedule to become an excuse and stopped going to church in recent months. I miss that quiet time, that weekly reassurance that there is someone larger, older, wiser who has already done all of my worrying for me.

When I was still teaching, I was given a few childrens books based on bible passages and they give me infinite comfort. You may not like them, you may not agree with me, but I love them.

One of them is based on a passage from Matthew. To paraphrase it's message: Do not worry about your life. Look at the birds of the air. See how the lilies of the field grow.

At first it struck me as a little simple and fanciful. It is a simple reminder, but simple because it's true. I have everything I need. Birds need food, air, and a place to rest. I have that. Flowers need water, sun, and place to put down roots. Check, Check, Check. And I have so much more than that.

I don't want to worry about this race. I know in my head that I have done the work and followed the plan. I know that this aggressive goal is something my coaches believe I can do- they have delivered it with such forceful insistence that it is something I'm capable of. (I 50% believe them that they got it from a calculator based on my workouts, and 50% believe it's a jedi mind trick to see if I have one of those major "mind of matter" moments where they tell I can do something that's actually outside of the reasonable realm, but if they can convince me, it'll validate all those The body acheives what the mind believes. memes out there.)

Either way, I will wake up tomorrow morning, delight in a beautiful day in a city I am so happy to call home, and I will run. I will celebrate with my friends, I will smile at the wonderful people who come to cheer, and I will be thankful.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Taper Talk. (Not Really)

Less than 48 hours to go time. There’s a lot I could say about this week.

I could talk about taper tantrums (There may have been some tears, restless nights, and general crankiness. I may have eaten pizza more than once this week. I may be slowly realizing that beans are not the ideal source for carbo loading.)

I could talk about baffling, unfortunate events this week. (My turn signal is possessed and refuses to stay in the neutral position. Constantly signaling right-hand turns is embarrassing. Our 7 year old dog who has never had issues, decided to mark the couch as his territory.)

I could talk about nerves. The goal time and the pace staring at me from the bathroom mirror. Race pace. I’ve never raced before. Woo-sah….

I could let my clothes do the talking (You’ve seen this commercial, right?)
I’m a go getter. I go and get it. And I bring it back. Possibly the best lines ever delivered in a clothing commercial.
What do my clothes say about me?
I try.
I know there’s style out there, but I didn’t actually look in the mirror before I left the house.
Beats a bathrobe.

I could talk about my extreme disagreement with architects and their insistence on positioning toilets directly under the window, against the exterior wall. Cold toilet seats are cruel, if not unusual, punishment. We live in a world where there are dog strollers and cars that park for you. Is a heated toilet seat so much to ask?

But, I’d rather not talk. Somehow it is Thursday night and the weekend is shaping up to be as busy as the week leading up to it. I’d rather just laugh for a few minutes.

Enjoy some laughs. Courtesy of Stefon.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Let's Talk About It. (Some More)

So I like to talk about things. Except when I’m mad or my feelings are hurt. In that situation, you better prepare for a silent treatment like you’ve never felt before. Passive aggression at it’s finest.

Today’s topics. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Which reminds me, why has SNL gotten so terribly unfunny? Do people like Sheri O’Teri, Kris Farley, and Mike Myers just not exist anymore? Think the fact that we use computers and smart phones pretty much from birth has depleted our ability to interact and be funny?

This morning in Richmond, it rained from approximately 5:40 am to 6:50 am. My run, the only 50 consecutive minutes of the day I was outdoors, lasted from 5:34 am to 6:28. Why? Why?

People who have phone conversations in public bathrooms. Yes, I seriously question this at least 3 times each week. It’s that moment when I hesitate to flush the toilet because I’m afraid of interrupting that always gets me. I mean, seriously. Is the person on the other end just completely ok with it?

Makeup. It’s a love/hate thing. I love that when I wake up to dark circles, red marks, and wrinkles (I’m ageing!) I have tools at hand to make some of these things less noticeable. I lack true talent and patient in this department, but I have enough good girlfriends who have at least taught me which spackle to buy and which mascara helps draw attention away from the pronounced lack of skill in applying concealer/eyeliner/fancy makeup products I don’t own. (PS- Why doesn’t spell check recognize the word ‘concealer’? We’ve added twerking to the dictionary, but standard computer software hasn’t caught up on this not-so-recent, essential woman product?) The hate part is the time it takes every. Single. Day. So repetitive. Always the same. I sometimes think about all the extra sleep I’d get in a year if I eliminated the 7-13 minutes it takes me to apply makeup. Then I catch sight of myself without mascara and hop to it.

Cars. Deeply, deeply unsatisfying use of money. I mean, is there anything more demoralizing than realizing you absolutely cannot wait any longer to replace the tires on your car and that it takes you 9 full days of work to earn that much money? Takes a little piece of my soul every time.

How do parents do this? At least once a week (typically Thursday, because that’s when we have yoga, which ends at 7:30, which puts me home at 7:47, 13 minutes before I (try very hard to) leave the house for work.) I screech into work with my ½ dozen bags of essentials, feeling flustered, and wondering what I can possibly have done with the 4 hours since I got out of bed. I have gotten progressively slower about being able to get out of the house in the morning and I’m mystified as to why. Perhaps it’s the addition of wrinkles to my face that call for more makeup time (see above), maybe it’s the affection I’ve developed for the Today show as I’ve matured. I don’t want to point towards my disinclination to get out of my bathrobe and put on actual clothes, because that sounds lazy. Ok, so maybe it’s not so mysterious. All I know is, I have very clear memories of snoozing in the top bunk of my college dorm room and my friend standing in the doorway, using her loud mom voice: “Leigh, it’s 7:53. We have to leave NOW.” Skipped the ladder, got some pants on- ready for action. Bio class across campus by 8am. Heaven help me (and everyone around me) when I have children to add to that morning routine.

Good talk. I feel better.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sustenance and Spice and (almost) everything nice.

They say variety is the spice of life. If that's true, you can color me caliente. You'll find variety pretty much everywhere except my wardrobe. (2 pairs of running shorts, 3 pairs of work shoes, and 1 striped sweater that finds its way onto my body pretty much daily.)

I love variety- I crave it. I don’t want a big plate of my favorite food, I want 4 little plates of 4 different foods. I am happiest when I have four different beverage options in the fridge. Some of my favorite days are the ones that start with a group run, proceed to work, then wrap with a HYPE meeting or Chamber event. I love the variety of groups because it allows me to be the different parts of myself.

Process manager, project manager, volunteer coordinator, trainer. Runner, yogi, Groupon workout deal stalker. Went to school to be a teacher, employed by corporate America, supporting small business by doing the books and marketing. I am a mentee, committee chair, and wannabe community activist. In some groups I am opinionated, sarcastic, and outspoken. With other groups I listen, observe, and contribute little.

Some days, when I list it all out (because who doesn’t love a good list?) I feel slightly bemused as to how I got to this place where harvesting collard greens, VP panel discussions, learning QuickBooks, and 400 meter repeats all happen in the same week. But recently I have come to appreciate the variety that has gradually infiltrated my whole life. There are still days when I walk into work with 4 different beverages, but now I can point to 4 different “me’s” to go along with all those beverages. (Ok, so it isn’t a direct correlation, but you get my drift.) After a morning of being personable and engaging and collaborating with people, I sometimes welcome the monotony of transferring data from spreadsheets to story cards. The tedium of collecting 34 documents from 17 people is soothed by the opportunity to work with a great nonprofit that’s teaching me my strengths when it comes to minor construction. (Measuring and holding whatever is being cut/drilled steady.) When I’m feeling overwhelmed by making sure all the right agencies have been paid and the house is properly maintained, I can log into my Training Peaks account and follow a simple command. No thinking or decision making required, just do what it says.

When I think about the ways all my different roles and circles challenge me to tap into different aspects of my personalities, develop different skills, and maybe learn to work through certain tendencies, I start to think that, for me, variety is actually sustenance. It feeds my soul, makes me grow, and sustains me. Yes it's tasty. Yes it keeps the flavors new and interesting. Variety also keeps me going, keeps me excited about the new opportunities ahead, the possibilities in every new person I meet, and the element of surprise, wondering how this week/project/group is going to be different, how they are going to change me.

I am thankful for the variety in my activities, in my friends, in the people I talk to. I am thankful for the diversity of thought, the knowledge of different trails, and the chance to uncover a 'new to me' idea. More than anything, I am appreciative to realize that just because one group of people knows you as one thing, just because you’ve been a certain way your whole life, is no reason you can’t wake up tomorrow and be something completely different to a whole new group of people.

Variety is my sustenance and my spice, and yes- it always comes back to food.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Status Update. Also- I'm extremely long-winded.

I have started 4 different posts this week. Finishing them feels daunting, so I am going to skirt the issue and give you something much lazier: a post in Facebook updates.

Yes I know, Facebook is the epitome of what is wrong with our society. We don’t feel the need to pick up the phone and call people anymore because we know what’s going on in their life from Facebook. We see who they’ve married, where they’re hanging out, and probably know a thing or two about what races they run/animals they hunt/Sunday night TV shows they’re obsessed with. Facebook is the root cause of the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) phenomenon, first cousin to “Everyone is having more fun/happier/healthier/better off than I am” syndrome. Facebook timelines aren’t real life, they’re highlight reels. With the exception of your highly-opinionated college classmates who feel obligated to make a public service announcement about the decline of society’s intelligence/manners/taste on a regular basis, most people post their high points. Weddings. Reunions with friends. Nights out. Costume parties. Delicious dinners. Kitchen wins. Race PRs. Most people don’t post the other stuff: the meal they put in the crockpot but forgot to turn on when they left the house. Their worst race time ever because something about that second Gu just didn’t sit right and they were forced to take the scenic route by every porta potty on the course. Nobody Considerate people don’t post about their average Wednesday when they went to work, got three bills in the mail, and realized they’ve gained 4 pounds since the last time they stepped on the scale. They don’t post pictures when they go out to dinner at Panera wearing an average outfit or a less than stellar ponytail. Who wants to tell the world when they’re at anything less than their best?

Where is this tangent going? I meant for this to be quick.

My point is, I try to be selective in my status updates. Really great pictures (Like when Buster takes up residence in my lap alongside my laptop as I work. Go find that one, it’s adorbs.)   Or when Kaija is in town. (Because, really, my niece is by far the coolest/cutest/most interesting member of my family at the moment.) Sometimes I post when something extraordinary happens to me and it simply has to be shared with people other than Seth. (Like the time I found my jewelry in a moving box from when we moved. 4 months earlier.)

I try not to post about vacations or being out of town because 1. We don’t go on vacation. 2. If we did, should I tell the whole world my house is empty? I also try not to post pictures of my meals (Cliché. Boring.), my run stats (Because no one cares), or about the fact that “OMG it’s dark so early!” (If you’re old enough to be on Facebook, you’ve experienced the Daylight Savings Phenomenon a time or two.)

You know what I do like about Facebook though? (Aside from the fact it relieves you of any obligation to attend high school reunions because you already know who has gotten married/fat/skinny/pregnant/extremely religious/extremely successful…)
Random thoughts. The ability to mass inform people in your peripheral circle about milestones without having to call/group text a ton of people. The ability to promote small businesses and make connections in your community. The opportunity to share brief deep, or not so deep, thoughts.  Here are some of mine that I didn’t share in the past few weeks. I sometimes think in statuses these days, but if I posted them all, people would think all I did was hang out on Facebook all day.

Day 5 of wearing men’s deodorant. Seriously need to go to the store.

The leaves are turning! Fall weather is the best for running! I love Richmond!

All my clothes stink. I’m tired of sweating.

Welcome to Groundhog Day, where all you do is shower, blow-dry your hair, and apply makeup. Over. And over. And over.. And over. Again.

I’m not ready to think about Christmas shopping or outfits for holiday parties, but I am PUMPED to decorate this house for Christmas. #wehaveamantle

Seth impresses the heck out of me. He works on furniture all day, most nights, 6-7 days a week, then comes home and reads books about furniture. Huge books. And he’s not just looking at the pictures.

Many runners get all antsy and anxious when taper time rolls around, bewildered by all the extra time they have on their hands. I’m all like “No alarm clock!” and “Can I still eat candy every day and button my work pants?”

This week is Seth’s birthday and the 4-year anniversary of our first date. Cause for celebration. Also cause for wondering how is time possibly moving that quickly?!

And that concludes possibly the most pointless blog post I’ve ever written. Thank you for reading. You may now resume scrolling through Facebook.