Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 = one for the books

We accomplished a LOT this year. A lot of running, a lot of traveling, and all of this with two busy jobs. I ran eight 5ks, four 10ks, one 15k, one 10-miler, two half marathons and 15 miles of a full marathon before it got called for the heat.

In addition we traveled to West Virginia (7 times), Pensacola, FL, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Green Bay, Chicago, Traverse City, MI, Boyne Highlands, MI, Maine (via a road trip), State College, PA, Mackinac Island, MI and Norfolk, VA. Later this week I'll head to Tyler, Texas to see my bestie rounding out a year that in retrospect I can't believe we managed to stay sane.

After one of my 5ks. I feel as exhausted as I look in this photo.
All of this challenge and business has almost succeeded in taking my mind off our nearly 10-month wait to adopt a child. I do know, however, that we need to travel as much as possible now before we have little ones. I don't plan to stop traveling, but I know it'll be a bigger challenge.

I've always heard that life isn't a destination - it's a journey. Our journey is such an adventure, and I wouldn't change a minute of it. Looking forward to seeing lots of vibrant places and logging lots of miles in 2013. Happy New Year everyone! 

Our official Christmas card photo. We make insanity look good.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Santa? Here? I know him!

Santa and I are BFF. And by Santa, I mean my husband. This wonderful man hates buying me running stuff, and yet I always get lots of it for holidays AND he indulges me on all my race trips. My Santa kind of rocks.

I have three big races coming up in the spring - the Winter Blast Half Marathon, the Cherry Blossom 10-miler and the Pittsburgh Marathon. My trip stocking runneth over. Now I am wondering what Santa will bring me to wear in those races. 

It goes without saying that I will wear West Virginia gear in the Pittsburgh Marathon. I have three pairs of WV shorts and WVU tech pants, so I need a cute top to wear with. I am partial to the Under Armour shirts I'd gotten on some of our trips, but I can't find a WVU one like it. Maybe Santa will have more luck.

I have dozens of tech shirts, so I'm always looking for cute bottoms. I've been coveting a colorful Brooks skort for a while. I also love Running Skirts gear.

My coveted Brooks skort
But in addition to just cute gear I am in need of a new foam roller. My physical therapist has this awesome foam roller, and it makes me realize how mine has gotten a little soft. It actually has an indentation from my hips...that probably minimizes the effectiveness.

I need one of these fancy black foam rollers.
Let's be honest - I have plenty of running stuff, and my race calendar is generally out of control. I am so blessed that we get to live this life where I can ask for running stuff because we have everything we need. This holiday season I am counting my blessings along with my miles.   


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Back to normal?

I wouldn't consider our life isn't exactly "normal". Maybe nobody actually has a normal life, but ours is consistently crazy busy. I sometimes look ahead through my calendar and wonder how we'll do it all. But even with the insanity that is our life, the last six weeks or so have just been insane. Insane, unmanageable, and absolutely exhausting. It was extremely ambitious to go out of town four weekends in a row. It's a lame duck session year for the Michigan legislature, and that meant very long days and nights at work for both of us. We even had to board our dogs at one point because we didn't think we'd be able to get home and let them out.

At the end of last week, after two straight weeks of working constantly and feeling tons of stress, the legislature adjourned for the year. That means a month or so of legislature-less bliss. Except we didn't really think about timing when we scheduled our annual Christmas party the same after the party THEN we could relax.

Through all of this not only has my sanity suffered, but so has my running. The one thing that really keeps me sane has been put on the back burner because I was just tired. My body was sore, I was stressed, and I did what I always hate - I made an excuse. Tonight I laced up my running shoes for the first time in a WEEK, and yes, I apologized to my shoes. And I apologized to myself for not being true to the one thing that keeps me sane.

I'm back at it, and I'm training again. I've got a half marathon in two months, and today I found out the fantastic news that I got into the Cherry Blossom 10-miler in D.C. in April. It's one of the nation's premiere 10-mile races, and I have finally gotten in. I'm so excited to run the race and visit our amazing friends in D.C. Look out world - I'm back! Back to running, back to traveling, back to being true to myself. You're welcome, running shoes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pulling out of a running rut

I admit it - I'm in a running rut. I like to pretend like that never happens to me, but it's happening now. It's been crazy at work, and my miles are WAY down. Last week I got up early to run one morning, and it was raining. Usually I just run in the rain anyway, but I though heck with it. I'm not training for anything right now, so I can do some cross training instead. On Saturday I set off to run 6 miles in the snow and ran half that. I wasn't tired, I wasn't injured. I just wasn't motivated.

This happens to me sometimes particularly in the winter, but this is the worst rut I've had in a while. I started running in 2006, and after three half marathons in less than a year I took about two years off from running. My IT band problems were significant and not healing, and I wasn't motivated. In the four years since that significant rut I've run another seven half marathons, two marathons, and dozens of 5k and 10k races.  I need to figure out where that motivated lady disappeared to.

December is a rough month because there are few races to do. It's dark when I leave for work, and it's dark when I get home. I'd rather lie on my couch than run on a treadmill - that is torture. So here I am in a running rut. My husband and I did a few miles last night, but my weekly miles are probably less than half of what they usually are when I'm training for something.

It happens, and I am registered for the Inaugural Portage (MI) Winterblast Half Marathon in February. It should be an interesting challenge to run a half marathon in Michigan in the dead of winter. I just need to keep my eye on the prize, suck it up and run on the treadmill if I need to and pull myself out of this running rut. It doesn't matter how many miles I'm logging right now as long as I get myself out there. Running is almost entirely a mental sport, and I've got to get some mental motivation. 

Speaking of, this is one of my favorite running quotes. This should help: 
"We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves...The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, 'You must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that.' The human spirit is indomitable."
-Sir Roger Bannister, first runner to run a sub-4 minute mile  

Friday, December 7, 2012

European vacation

In college I did two of my foreign language requirements in the form of a study abroad program in Bamberg, Germany. At the age of 19 my German became quite fluent, and I also pushed the boundaries of my European legal drinking status. In the process I fell in love with the history and sense of community of cities in Europe - the small, cobblestone streets; the vibrant downtowns; the walkability; the public transit. I took a public bus for the first time in my entire life in Bamburg (they don't have them in Hundred, WV). There's something about European cities that is so intimate and familiar. I didn't realize at that time I was discovering my love of place and community.

When my husband and I visited Stockholm in 2009, more than ten years after my first trip to Europe, I was advocating for communities and knew exactly what I was looking for in a place. Like the cities I'd been to in Germany, Stockholm was also rich in history, walkable cobblestone streets, and green space. We stayed a metro stop away from Gamla stan, Old Town, and the entire town was accessible by public transit. It had everything one could want in a community - at least in July when the weather was warm and the days long.

I'm talking my husband into a trip to Europe in the spring if we have not yet adopted a child. He's done several trips to Europe and has seen more than I, so I'm trying to think of a place where neither of us has been. Right now we're leaning toward Spain which I have heard is just amazing. I have a need to plan a trip especially during a stressful work stretch. Seeing placemaking in action is inspiring for us both.

So what do you think...Spain? Other suggestions? We're entirely open. Perhaps London even?


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hit me with your best shot

This morning I got up early and ran a hard, fast run. My legs were throbbing, my chest was burning, and it felt amazing. Had I known how stressful this day was going to be, I would've done a few more miles. I don't know how people who don't run or work out deal with stress - it's the best way to get ready for a stressful day.

My job can be stressful, and we're in that legislative lame duck session time when days are long, tempers are short and without squeezing in a run I fear I may murder someone. It's the time when I am trying to make heads or tails or 1,000 different legislative issues, and someone (generally me) is taking a shot across the bow. It's a time where everyone is punchy, adversarial, and we're all a little short with one another.

It's this time of year that running is even more critical. It gives me time to reflect on the trials I've had in my life, and to think bring it, lame duck. Hit me with your best shot. I deal daily with severe Crohns problems; this is a cake walk. 

This is why running and traveling to new cities is so good for my soul. Nothing eases stress like a good run, and having a plan to travel to new cities to be inspired is critical for my well being. My husband and I have agreed that if we have not yet adopted a baby next spring, we are going to Europe. A good tour of old, fantastic, walkable European cities is just what I need to recharge my batteries and be inspired for what we can do here.

Until that time I will log lots of miles, dream about traveling and take deep breaths. Oh and listen to lots of Pat Benatar.