Saturday, February 18, 2017

Looking Up

I'm sitting here, my desk (at home) a complete mess of papers and pamphlets with everything from a Dick's credit card application (no thank you), to a list of houses we're viewing tomorrow (yes, please), a Ragnar "Race Bible" (eeeeek!) and a lovely card from my aunt in England (I miss you!!)...and I can actually tell you that I'm excited.

It is odd and weird and hard to say that. I have mixed emotions about being happy like this, kind of like I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop (again...), but I'm feeling more like myself. I'm happy and nervous and excited for these next few months.

This week started out as a total struggle for me, and as dorky as it sounds to say it, Valentine's day turned that right around. I took the day off due to a cold, but it was also a much-needed mental health day.

I lounged around, did laundry, had lunch with my cousin and this adorable dude (in his awesome narwhal-as-unicorn shirt!):

...and then Anthony surprised me with flowers and a picnic-in-bed-with-Netflix-and-cuddles. The cuddles were extra needed. I am more than lucky to have him, and I don't know what I'd ever do without his support!
That smile!!!!!!!!!! 😍
The week is ending nicely as well. Tomorrow, Anthony and my mom and I go to look at some houses that actually have me excited. Not just one, but SIX. Six of these places actually look good, which is a breath of fresh air.

On top of that, tonight I get to meet most of my teammates for Ragnar Chicago 2017. Team 38, (The Team That Must Not Be Named!) is getting together for a potluck and discussion about all things Ragnar, hence the mess of papers on my desk!

There are a lot of moving parts with Ragnar, and though I'm "captain" of mine, I've had the help of two amazing women along the way. Tonight we make the bulk of the decisions that will affect each runner (mainly what legs we'll each be running), so there's a lot to do and go over! After that I'll sit down and see what kind of training I might have to supplement in addition to my training plan for the Lake Zurich tri, and I'll make sure all of that will work.

But really, I'm just excited that things seem to be looking up after how stressful and bleak and heartbreaking January turned out to be. Maybe it's just the break in weather we go here in the midwest (it's sixty three degress out right now!!!), but seeing the sun is uplifting and has put me in a can-do mindset!

Anyways. That meetup tonight. I have brownies made, meatballs prepped, my mom cleaned the kitchen floors and bathroom (thanks, mom!), and now it's time for me to hit the pavement for the six miles on this half plan. So off I scoot!

And if you've stuck around for all that, check out this picture that my aunt sent me with her card. When I was in England in September I got to help close the door on a lock, and she took a picture of me doing so. Totally dressed for the occasion! (It's pretty obvious that guy was not thrilled about the photo op!)

Have a good one, and here's to things looking up ;)


Monday, January 30, 2017

What does 2017 have in store?

I don't even know where to start. I think I'll just let January go down as the worst month of my life (if you would like to pretend this is hyperbole, go ahead. It's not.) and leave it at that. Yes. Worse than the month my dad died, as awful as it is to compare. But true.

I don't know if I'll ever post all of the things that happened, but I know there are a few people sitting out there who know and you're probably nodding along, and you understand why I'm saying that.

That's part of why I haven't posted almost all month. Because of all this stuff going on.

But anyways.

To that post. Something slightly more positive. The post I've been saying I'll post about races and goals for the year, because what better to distract me than preparing for race season? Here you go.

2017 'Goals'
I use the word 'goals' loosely, because really I'm not trying to break any records. Not even my own - although it will be awesome if that happens by accident.

I can tell you the races I've signed up for, and I'll be honest, there aren't a ton of them. Because of the whole house-buying thing I have to be really careful about money right now, and I can't go tossing it all at races.

I'm looking at you, Half-Ironman.

I won't lie - that was going to be my A goal this year. Steelhead 70.3. But nearly $300 to register, not including any lodging, travel, or time-off expenses? Well, that's probably not going to happen. I have a while to make up my mind, but let's be realistic. Planning for a half IM would cost just as much as having a house inspected and appraised, and I can't be throwing money like that around right now.

Does it suck to realize that? Yes. But I'd rather get a mortgage with a good rate than have someone asking me what I'm dropping that money on when I'm trying to buy a house!

I also want a new bike before attempting a half, so there's that to factor in.

The good news? Races will always be there, so I'll come back to this one at some point.

2017 Races
All that said, I have registered for a few races. Here goes;

The Lincoln Presidential Half (April 1)
Again, no real goal. I'm running this with my friend Steffi (from 2016's Shamrock Shuffle and the Hot Chocolate 15k). It will be her first half, and she'll probably school me at it since I've spent the last few weeks sucking at training.

BUT...the fun things about this race??

  1. We get to stay with Mama and Papa Bender since they live near Springfield.
  2. Race with a friend, and my stalwart Sherpa (that'd be Anthony!) accompanying us.
    1. We run through all the hot Lincoln spots in Springfield!
    2. 13.1 miles of fun, educational sites
    3. You can wear top hats.
    4. Either Jennie will come to spectate or I get to guest blog! So for the first time ever I promise course pictures!
    5. The medal is a giant penny. If that doesn't sell you on it I don't know what will.
    6. Oh yeah, it's affordable. I registered today and it was $50.
I can't wait. I am quite excited. Here's to my second half!

Ragnar Chicago! (June 9-10)
This is a big one. I'm preparing for this to be the most fun race of the season because people who do Ragnars always say it is.

If you don't know (and I don't expect you to if you're not a race-nut like yours truly), a Ragnar relay is a 200 mile, 12 person relay race from point A to point B. Ragnar Chicago starts in Madison, WI and we will run in relay fashion to Chicago over two days. Each person runs three legs during that time, and each leg is between three and twelve miles long, totaling 11 to 22 miles per runner for the two days.

You run during the day. You run at night. You run in whatever weather you're blessed or cursed with, through hills and bluffs and flats. You just run your leg, and pass off the snap bracelet at exchange points. When you're not running, you're driving/riding between exchange points, supporting your team and other runners.

For me and my team, we initially came together through the Hogwarts Running Club Midwest chapter. About half of us are die hard Potter fans, and we recruited the other half of our runners elsewhere (though we still love them just as much). #TheTeamThatShallNotBeNamed is getting ready to crush Ragnar, and we're all stoked.

That said...organizing a Ragnar is another beast to tackle. I'm technically Captain of my team, but I have to say I have some amazing ladies who have helped me while my life got flip-turned-upside-down last month. I owe them everything, and I wouldn't trade them for the world.

So...that's all happening.

Lake Zurich Triathlon, Olympic distance (July 9)
I registered to LZT shortly after it opened, and I'll start training soon-ish.

To whine for a second: For the first time in months I actually want to swim and I can't. Why? Because swimming is solitary. You can disappear in the water and be alone and no one is going to bother you. But as soon as I want to do it I can't. Yay.

Anyways...I don't know if I'll change my training plan from last year (last year's had so.much.swimming). I'll probably switch it up, tbh. That's a decision for a later date though.

I do have a goal with this (even though I'm not in a goal setting mood) and I'm going to put it here: I'd like to beat my Chicago Triathlon time. My official time for Chicago was 3:21:21. How will I do that?

  1. Admittedly transition was HUGE for Chicago, but I spent 17:26 in transition. That's so.long. Transition for LZ is way smaller (and doesn't include a half mile run to it), so I'm hoping I can bring all that down and firm up my transition times to scrape a good 10 minutes off that time.
  2. Run more. I feel like the run for Chicago was such a weak spot for me because of the heat and GI issues. It will still be super hot for LZ in the middle of July, but I'm hoping all of the running I'll be doing for the half and Ragnar will even the playing field for it a bit more.
  3. Steady bike. Just like last year for Chicago I'll do my bike workouts and aim to excel like I did last year.
A three pronged approach. What could go wrong? (I'm saying that super sarcastically. Everything could go wrong. I have learned from January that life likes to suck like that.)

The Chicago Marathon (October 8)
The list is short and this is the last thing on it but... The Chicago Marathon is happening again this year. For me, I mean. It'd be happening with or without me.

The 40th anniversary is on it's way, and I'm running for #TeamRMHC again. I'm not-so-secretly hoping that there's a giant medal and huge crowd. I can't wait.

Also, though not all about goals, it'd be cool to cut 20 minutes from my time and come in under 5 hours. Just throwing it out there. Guess it's time to up the speed work I do.

Stay tuned to this space for more on that, because I hope to make a bigger deal out of fundraising this year than I did last year. So yeah. Watch out.

So there you go.
2017 races and goals, out there for all of you.

I'm not on my game today so I'm sorry if all of this seems lackluster. The lust will come back, I promise...I just need some time. Thanks for understanding

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Running: Your Knees

So in the midst of all the crazy things that have been happening around here (house buying and more!) that have distracted me from writing in my good ol' blog, I did get an article from my company's health newsletter that I thought would be cool to share.

When I got to work on Tuesday I had this article in my inbox. It was very well timed, given that the day before I had someone telling me I should stop running 'because it's bad for your knees and I knew a guy once who (fill in ailment here).'

I'm sharing a screenshot of the article since I'm fairly certain the link won't work:

I think the last sentence is interesting: "...this study suggests exercise can be a type of medicine."

I don't really think this part is news. I think it's something a lot of people - particularly those of use who are routinely active, including logging hours and hours at the gym every week - will verify, at least anecdotally. I have no qualms talking about how I use the gym as a "crutch" to help my mood, just how much better I feel when I run or lift (or whatever), and that I really start to get grumpy if I don't.

But anyways, back to the main point! Running may not be bad for your joints!

YES it is high impact exercise, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad for someone who's healthy, and I think it's great that this is being studied.

To throw in my own anecdote: After getting the MRI of my knee (just before my half marathon at Thanksgiving) Dr Gent told me my knee looked great. All parts of it. Bone, cartilage, ligaments, etc...everything looked just how it should and perfectly healthy. And that was after a season of triathlon and marathon training. The verdict? Muscular imbalance, easily addressed with PT exercises, stretching, rolling, and perhaps crossing my legs less at work. *She says as she uncrosses her legs...*

This doesn't mean you can just go and run miles and miles with no consequence. You still have to take care of yourself. Stretching and strength training are an integral part of running, and throwing in an ice bath after a long, hot run is a good idea too.

I guess my whole point with this is not to let some random people with their uninformed opinions detract you from doing something you want to do. I like running, I want to keep doing it as long as possible, and I'm fine ignoring people who tell me I shouldn't keep running marathons because it's "bad for my knees".

You know what else is bad for your knees? Sitting all day! (Don't get me wrong though, I do plenty of that too :P)

Another anecdote to go along with that: At the end of December/beginning of January I was sick and very tired, so I took almost two weeks off from everything. Not being active made my other knee start hurting! It felt like a strain behind my knee and in my hamstring, and a bit like I was hyperextending when activating my hamstring (bending my knee). So weird.

When I started running again I babied it a little. I did yoga for a few days up to my run, including a lot of stretching and foam/RockBall rolling, which I continued before and after runs once I started up again. By the time I finished my third three-miler, all of that strain/pain was gone. It still amazes me the amount of pain and discomfort we can end up in from not being active! No more two week off stints for me! Active lifestyle is the way to go!

I know I don't often ask for opinions and comments here, but I would really be interested in what anyone has to say about this! Have you ever had someone tell you to give up a hobby because it's "bad" for you? What was your reaction? I'm curious!


PS...I promise to post an actual update about stuff at some point. I'm honestly waiting for some stuff to go through with the house so I don't have to knock on wood every five seconds!