Let Us Toast To The New Normal

My New Office, Spring Break Mom/Kid Boot Camp, and a Half-Marathon! WOOT. WOOT.

My New Office, Spring Break Mom/Kid Boot Camp, and a Half-Marathon! WOOT. WOOT.

To say last week was a bit insane is a HUGE understatement. Not only was I trying to start working from home while my kids were out of school on Spring Break (read about that challenge here), but Donnie was also out of town on a business trip. The week was exhausting both physically (I had extra boot camp sessions with my kids for a “Spring Break Boot Camp” that we signed up for) and emotionally (Single Moms do NOT get enough rest).

He came back Friday night and then I had to be up early Saturday to run 20 miles, 13 of which were part of a semi-local inaugural half-marathon. And then we had an Easter Egg hunt. And then date night.

And then Kim died from exhaustion.

I am actually writing this from the great beyond. Here are the answers to the questions you’ve been pondering you’re entire life:

  • Mork from Ork killed JFK and the Black Dahlia.
  • Boats go missing in the Bermuda Triangle because it’s a magical portal that delivers the occupants to Hogwarts. They’re all very happy there. Stop worrying about them.
  • The moon is actually made of cheese. The government is trying to hide this from us because, well, we all love cheese. It’s a total no-brainer that we’d find a way to eat it (With Nachos! MOON NACHOS.) and totally screw up the Tides and the rotation of the planet causing the demise of our life as we know it. DON’T MAKE ME REGRET HAVING TOLD YOU ABOUT THE MOON CHEESE.

Anyway. So I was tired. Long week. Killer Saturday. Today I’m hoping to catch up on a few things (PLEASE LET THERE BE A GROCERY STORE OPEN ON EASTER SUNDAY) that I’ve gotten behind on in hopes to start this week off on some sort of level, even footing. I’m looking forward to fine-tuning the Work From Home routine and looking forward to getting back into a normal rhythm.

I am NOT looking forward to sharing the bed again. Donnie and I have such opposite sleep habits and patterns that this week totally spoiled me. I mean, I love my husband, but if there were two people least cut out for sharing a bedroom? It’s us.

Here’s to the new normal! And hoping my husband never finds out I ate ice cream in bed while he was gone!

Testing The Waters In The Middle Of A Hurricane

I’ve had some work come my way, a type of freelance web development situation that will keep me from crying myself to sleep every night! YAY!

The downside is that this work came my way during the worst week possible: SPRING BREAK.

I was a bit desperate to get some work done so I basically gave Nikki and Wes the run of the house while I locked myself in my bedroom (the WiFi signal in my actual office is a bit untrustworthy right now) and hoped for the best.

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This is how Wes came in and talked to me at one point in time. That bar in his hand? A towel rod from the upstairs bathroom. He and his sister both had one. Eventually they would both end up covered in packing tape.

NO. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY.

Of course, I’m not sure that is any worse than what Wes showed up wearing after his bath when I insisted he dress himself.

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Yes. It was snowing a bit today. Definitely below freezing at times. Yes. He’s wearing shorts and short sleeves. BUT HE HAS TALL SOCKS ON. Jeez. Get a grip.

When I would periodically leave my bedroom to feed the kids or put out a fire, I refused to look anywhere but at the ground in front of me as I walked to where I needed to walk. I didn’t look behind doors or in rooms, I just ignored everything outside of the necessary area that I needed to occupy to complete my task.

Finally, at the end of the day, I put on my big girl panties and explored the blast zone.

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That’s the destruction in FOUR DIFFERENT ROOMS. I mean, this level of chaos is an acceptable condition in the playroom. Or even the periodic bedroom. But in both bedrooms, the playroom, AND MY SITTING ROOM?

Of course – that’s not the only failure of the day. I also ate about 4000 calories just trying to figure out some widgets. You know I cope with stress by eating, right? Well – I come with roadblocks in web design by eating as well. It’s like some sort of brain fuel. The more bloated I feel, the better I can hack a content management system.

I know…go figure.

So! Between the disaster area that is my house and the gluttonous feeding frenzy of the day, I’d say I have a lot of work to do on mastering the “Working From Home” situation. I’m hoping this pans out to be a bigger thing, so I really need to figure out some tricks of the trade.

Like…I think I’m going to invest in some deadbolts. Now – will I use them to padlock the fridge, or my children in their rooms – that’s all for you to decide.

Surprising Myself – A McKay Hollow Madness Race Report

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I’ve done the McKay Hollow Madness 25K two years in a row, now. I’m a much different runner in the second photo, than in the first. Between those two photos there have been two marathons, two 50Ks, and one 43-mile run. I’ve learned so much about running and about myself and yet…

YET…

I was still surprised at my run on Saturday.

Here’s the thing. Right now, I’m slower than I was this time last year. Once I started training for my marathon (almost immediately after that 2012 photo) and increasing my distances, my speed seemed to be sacrificed. Mainly because I stopped doing speed work, but also because I stopped caring about my speed.

BUT! I’m in better shape overall. I have a better endurance (the day of that race, that distance was the longest I had ever run) and I’m stronger than I was then. So, I thought – at best – I could finish in the same time that I did last year. 4:26. But, because I’m slower overall, I was leaning more towards a bit slower of a finish.

Then I was awoken at 3am by thunder the morning of the race. That course is my favorite, but it is filthy/sloppy/muddy on the DRIEST day in the BEST of conditions. Then, when 100+ people run it in front of you, it gets even worse. THEN, add rain? And “miserable” may be an understatement.

The actual storms passed before the start of the race, but it was still drizzling and wet and yucky and COLD. And I was considering backing out. My only “goal” before had been to MAYBE beat last year’s time. But add extra mud and water on the slick technical trails? And I’d be lucky to even finish under the time limit of 5 hours. Or so I thought.

But my friends were there, and several were doing this amazing race for the first time. So I sucked it up and decided my new goal would be to cross the finish-line in one piece. After about a third of a mile, one of the guys in our group said, “Okay. This has already stopped being fun.”

That was exactly the line of humor I needed. I cracked up. We were cold, wet, and not even a mile in and yes — I was already kind miserable. So, I needed that laugh and the commiseration of others in the same boat.

We got to the first downhill which is where I figured I’d lose a lot of time, trying not to break bones. And it was bad – don’t get me wrong. I ended up modifying my goal to the following: When I Fall, I Don’t Want To Take Anyone Down With Me. Because the trails were so muddy, you would just start sliding and not be able to stop, it was crazy.

But somewhere along the way I started getting a groove. And the “rain” was more of a foggy drizzle. So, I was cold, but it wasn’t pouring like it had been right before the race started. We made it to the 5-mile aid station at 1:30, and I had read the cutoff at the 10-mile aid station was 3 hours, so I started to panic a bit. I killed the next downhill section, as it’s one of my favorites, and made a friend for a bit on the flat part of the course in the middle. But then she and another running friend pulled ahead right before we got to the 10-mile station and I started feeling a bit down. I was afraid I was going to cut the 10-mile stop too close to the 3-hour mark. I was cold and was having trouble getting my shoes tied or my camelback nozzle open. I was hitting my typical middle-of-the-race blues. I don’t know why I always succumb to them because I always get past them, but still. Every longer race, somewhere in the middle I start feeling depressed.

I ended up rolling into the 10-mile aid stop at about 2:40 which was faster than I thought I’d make it. This gave me a bit of a confidence boost. Then I started thinking, Wait. I might be able to still beat last year’s time! And suddenly? My spirits were lifted and my drive was ignited.

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I did the third leg of the course in 1:38. Last year it took me almost 2 hours to do that leg. And I can tell you EXACTLY why I was able to do it so much faster. BECAUSE I EMBRACED THE PUDDLES. I had been dodging puddles and opting to run around them in the mud. But I kept slipping! And the mud was caking on my shoes! So, I tried just running straight through the 100s of puddles and it was the key to my success. I didn’t slip as much, AND I kept my shoes cleaned off.

So, even though I was cold? I was moving at a much faster pace than I would have moved otherwise. And I felt good. I felt strong. I even passed two guys at the very end who told me later that they cursed me, and then sprinted past me before we got to the finish line because they, “Didn’t want to get chic’ed at the last minute.”

And there I was – beating my last year’s time – when hours before I had thought about just going home. I felt great at the end, finished strong, and I’m not even sore 24 hours later. (Last year my quads were so sore the next day I could barely walk.) I don’t know why I continue to let the self-doubt creep in. I know how much of this is mental, I’ve learned that lesson time and time again, and yet I still fall in to the same traps. I still get worked up because I’m still “slow” compared to the rest of the runners out there. I get stressed because halfway is always such a shitty place to be. I get upset because my hands are cold. I start to wish I had brought my chapstick.

100 different things cross my mind trying to bring me down at every race. And yet…YET…I still end up getting that Finish-Line High about 5K from the end of every long-distance race. I start to feel euphoric. I start to feel proud. I start to feel badass. I start to feel accomplished.

And every race I finish with a smile on my face and pride in my heart.

And every race it surprises me how low you can get, and still rise up to that high at the end.

As long as you don’t give up.

Follow Me To The New RSS Party!

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First off? We’re having internet issues in our house. This is why my presence here and everywhere else online has been a bit sporadic. I apologize for this. Without regular blogging my left eye starts to twitch and I acquire an unexplained limp. If I don’t solve these technological issues soon, I’ll be rotating around the “Free Wi-Fi” locations around here.

Secondly? Did you hear that they’re shutting down my favorite RSS feed reader in July? I mean – FIRST they took away the ability to share and comment on the thing – and now they’re getting rid of it? All together? Kim is not a happy camper.

For those of you who don’t know what RSS is or a feed reader, let me give you an easy summary. RSS is – literally – “Really Simple Syndication”. Basically, any website that creates regular content, creates RSS feeds of that content without any bells and whistles. Just the basic HTML of the content itself. Then, “Feed Readers” like Google Reader allow you to subscribe to those pages, and it funnels those RSS feeds all into one location. So, if you read a lot of blogs/news/magazines type sites, you can read all of their updates in one location. You don’t have to keep bookmarks or remember links.

Google Reader used to let you “share” out items you really liked. I loved this feature because my “shared” items also displayed on my blog. And then any of my friends in Reader could comment on those items. So, it gave us a little community to discuss articles and entries. And then? THEN? Google took that function away. And a small part of my soul died.

But now? NOW? They’re taking away the entire reader. Basically they want us all to use Google+, which we won’t do simply out of spite now. So…where do we all go? WHERE DO YOU GO?

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On Twitter yesterday, some key peeps decided to start using The Old Reader. Evidently you can A) Share items and B) Comment on those shared items. Which I have already done with this entry.

What are you waiting for? GO JOIN! FOLLOW ME! I’LL FOLLOW YOU BACK! These type of communities ONLY work if we all go. We need to ALL go over there and start following each other and start sharing items and talking about them and creating what we used to have on Google Reader. PUH-LEASE? If you read more than 5 blogs or websites a day, you will love having a feed reader. It means you only have to make one stop every day to see all of your favorite websites. And their entries ONLY show up if they have new content. So, if they don’t update regularly you can still follow them without stopping by their site constantly for updates.

If you’ve never used an RSS reader before and have any questions/confusion – just post a comment here and I’ll help you out. If you have, then you may be like me and appreciate the excuse to start over with your subscriptions. Don’t you still have those blogs on your Google Reader that you don’t know why you still follow? You don’t ever comment or even read their entries anymore. Why are you still subscribed? Well, now you can just start over with the ones you actually want to read!

Or – if you want – you can import your subscriptions from Google Reader. I did not do that because I knew I needed to prune my list a bit, but if you like your list as is? Easy as pie!

Come join the party! We’re leaving Google Reader before they shut the place down, and we’re setting up at The Old Reader, I can’t wait to see you there!

Something New: BodyPump

bodypumpSince I have a well-documented habit of coping with stress with eating, I’ve tried to counterbalance some of that by hitting the YMCA during the day a little bit. Sometimes I just hit the treadmill, but I finally braved a BodyPump class last week.

First – I AM TERRIFIED OF FITNESS CLASSES. I’ve been a member at the YMCA for about 7 years and have NEVER gone to a class before. The only classes I’ve ever attended was a Zumba class at a church a few times and my boot camp. And both times were TERRIFYING. I mean, obviously I survived since I’m still going to boot camp 2 years later, but still…TERRIFYING. I get so worked up about embarrassing myself that just GOING is a huge step, much less going back.

So – I decided to try BodyPump because it’s not a class that requires rhythm. That’s one of the things I fear the most, having to watch myself in a mirror looking like a FOOL. BodyPump is all weights/strength training stuff so I figured I could handle watching myself do that. I got there 15 minutes early so I could watch people get set up and see what they did. I had a bit of a bad experience at first, with someone who may naturally be snarky and making me feel dumb, but once I made it clear I was new there were two girls who helped me get everything I needed. Which is actually a lot. You don’t just walk in and do a BodyPump class. There’s benches and bars and plates and mats and dumbbells.

THAT’S A LOT OF STUFF.

Those type of situations are especially stressful for me because I have separate anxieties for EACH item. Basically each of those items represents a different way I could humiliate myself. Why didn’t I choose a class that involved only MY BODY. I mean, there’s tons that could go wrong there too, but that’s only ONE THING.

But I did it! I got all of the stuff together. I found a spot on the side, in the middle – not in the front – not in the back. And I braced myself for the new experience!

It was basically a weight-lifting class. The tricky part was knowing what weights to use. I found a few girls in the class that looked about my fitness level and followed their lead. Some of the choices were too light, some were too heavy, but it was a good place to start. I think you definitely have to go to BodyPump a few times before you make a judgement, just to give you time to find the right weights for the right body parts.

My favorite thing about the class? Was that I loved watching myself in the mirror! Can you believe I just said that? But seriously! Watching myself lift weights was fun because I could actually see my muscles in use…which I’ve never done before. It turns out that it’s easier to ignore the flab around your midsection when you are watching your quads or shoulders flex under the weight of a barbell with 16KGs on it as I did several reps and sets of the different exercises.

(I’m such an American. I found myself very frustrated in the KG labels on the plates instead of LBs. It hurt my brain to translate.)

Overall? I loved it. It didn’t have the humiliating “dance” aspect of some classes and it allowed me to see my muscles in use which gave me a huge confidence boost. It didn’t have any cardio, which is fine since I get that in my running. I’ve gone twice now and I’ll keep going back as long as it fits into my schedule!

Have you done BodyPump? What do you think.