Tag Archives: schedule

Overthinking.

16 Mar

The feeling of spring outside has me reminiscing on the good old days when I lived up in Boulder. There were so many wonderful trails to choose from. If I wanted to run by a stream, I could. If I wanted to run on dirt, I could. If I wanted to run by a crazy group of middle-aged hippies, I could.

I had one 4-mile loop that was my favorite. I even labeled the route “My favorite loop on greenway” in MapMyRun. I don’t why it was my favorite – perhaps it was because one early morning, I was just running along and thought, “This is the absolute best feeling in the world.” I can actually remember exactly where I was when I thought that. And still, there isn’t much that beats a great run in the early morning, when the sun is just peeking over the horizon, the ground is wet from dew, and the air is cool. It’s that feeling that reminds me why I’m a runner.

{That picture is surprisingly accurate for how mornings look in Boulder – maybe it was taken in Boulder?}

The thing that made those Boulder runs so memorable was that I was running just because. I decided which route I wanted to run while getting my running clothes on. I ran without a watch. I ran with a watch. I ran alone. I ran with Travis. I ran with music. I ran without. I didn’t have a purpose, or a reason, or a goal. I just ran. 

On my 4-mile run last night, I was thinking about my experience with learning to swim freestyle. I read so much about the correct technique and positioning, and tried so hard to swim “correctly,” that it actually made doing the freestyle stroke harder. Once I stopped overthinking it, though, I got the hang of it.

And I realized that I’ve been doing that with running. I’ve gotten exhausted and stressed out by constantly thinking about running form, cadence, foot strike, pace, tempo, intervals, hills, repeats, miles, training schedule, weight workouts, arm swing. Sure, I’d like to run faster, but am I willing to sacrifice my love of running to do so?

So yesterday, instead of focusing on leaning slightly forward, and maintaining a fast cadence, and running a tempo pace, I just ran. I ran comfortably fast and averaged a 10:48 pace. A good tempo run in the books.

I’ve also been overthinking recovery. Since my legs have felt so tired and heavy lately, I was starting to get worried. “Can my body not handle this mileage? Should I cut out the strength training? Did I do too many hills? Is it because I’m eating too soon before my workout and my body doesn’t have time to convert the food into fuel? Is it because I’m not getting enough sleep? Is this the beginning of the end?”

During my Tuesday night speed work with Travis, I had an epiphany: I should wear my 2XU compression pants for recovery! So I wore them to bed Tuesday and Wednesday, foam rolled an extra time, and my legs felt (almost) great yesterday! Definitely TONS better than they had been feeling. Silly me.

So I’m still plugging along with the plan. This week, I’ve done all my runs on their proper days, although the strength training has been scrapped bumped. Tomorrow, I’ll tackle 9. And instead of overthinking, I’m just going to run.

New Job for Him, and Hills for Me

17 Feb

Thanks for the encouraging comments on my post yesterday. I was having a rough day all around – mostly because I was absolutely exhausted. I may or may not have slept through an hour-long conference call… and then slept for 10.5 hours last night.

After work, I went to a going-away happy hour for Travis and one of his co-workers because… Travis got a new job! Next week is his last week at his current company and he’ll start his new job the following Monday (2/27). He’s pretty excited. He’ll be doing the same type of engineering (hydraulics and hydrology – what they call H&H) but he’ll be with a smaller company (1 of 2 full-time employees) and will be working from home. He’s also getting a fairly significant pay raise, which will definitely help us be more aggressive in paying off our mountain of student loans.

The thing I’m actually most excited about with this new job, though, is that the dogs will no longer have to live 80% of their lives in our laundry room. I’m really hoping Katy will mellow out – she kind of went berserk when I started back to work after being unemployed and hasn’t gone back to being her regular self.

After sleeping in until 7:00 this morning, I feel more human but I’m still planning on not doing a workout tonight, and on going to bed at a grandma time. Last night, Travis and I both went to bed at 8:30, no joke. He had stayed up really late the night before playing a hockey double-header and I had gone to bed too late all week long. No shame. I’m taking full advantage of blowing off workouts while I can because for the next 18 weeks, there will be none (or very little) of that ::knock on wood::.

Speaking of the next 18 weeks, I got inspired today and updated my training plan with intentional hill days:

After looking more closely at the elevation profile of Mayor’s Marathon, I realized that its hills are similar in length and climb to the ones I ran during the Ralston Creek Half. So… I have to start training on hills, and real hills, not the wimpy little things I was calling hills. Lucky for me, Colorado is full of them.

I thought this article was really helpful about defining the different types of hill work and several articles (including that one) say that because hill workouts are so intense, they should only be done once or twice a week. I went for once a week during the first half of my training, and then once every 2 weeks for the last half. I didn’t want to be too ambitious because this is still only my first marathon.

As with everything, I’m going to continue to play things by ear. If I’m feeling strong, I’ll incorporate some more hills. And if I’m feeling tired or injured, I’ll back off. Adding the hill designation to my schedule was just to get the hill workouts on my radar and give me something of a strategy with timing.

And the most exciting part of my day… it’s Friday and I get a 3-day weekend! Glorious.

Do you get a 3-day weekend?

 

Training Recap: 1/23 – 1/29

30 Jan

Thanks to my lovely cold, my training last week was pretty measly.

Monday: 30 Day Shred Level 1; 25 minutes yoga; 1.15 mile dog walk (20 min)

Tuesday: Rest (laziness)

Wednesday: Rest (started feeling sick this day)

Thursday: 1.97 mile dog walk (32:55)

I had been thinking about going to the gym to do cross-training but when I got out of breath on my walk from the chest congestion, I decided that would be stupid.

Friday: 3.04 mile dog walk (55:14)

Saturday: 1.7 mile dog walk (30:00)

Sunday: Rest

I was planning to go to the gym but when I got home after a baby shower, I was exhausted, had a headache, and my chest congestion had been so nice as to move to my nose. So instead, I watched a new episode of Bones that had somehow passed under my radar. So glad I didn’t delete that one before checking if I had seen it!

…………………………..

I am feeling much better today – my headache is gone, my cough has almost completely gone away, and my nose is clearing up little by little. So I am planning to attempt my first run in over a week – and I’m pretty pumped about it. It’s almost 60 degrees out today. When I got out of my car to walk into work this morning, birds were singing and it felt like spring. I am so ready for spring. I always say that spring is my least favorite season because I hate when the snow melts and you have to deal with dirty, dirty puddles everywhere. But in Colorado, I think spring is my favorite season. Which is good because every other day in January is a taste of spring. 😉

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Travis and I had a “conference call” last night with his parents to talk about our plans for Alaska. At this point, barring death or illness, I think it is 95% safe to say that I am doing the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska on June 23.

Which means that after the Ralston Creek Half Marathon on 2/12 and Snowman Stampede 10 Mile on 2/18, I will completely restart my marathon training plan:

Considering my sickness this week, I am glad to have the time to start over! Hopefully I won’t get sick again during training.

In the next two weeks, I plan on researching more about the marathon course so that I know how to tailor my training. Luckily, I don’t think the hills will be an issue. Here is the elevation profile:

It looks bad but note that even the biggest hill is only a 300 foot gain from the very beginning (and less so in the individual climb) and after mile 16, it’s pretty much completely downhill. Since I’ve read that part of the course is on a gravel/rocky trail, I am aiming to do at least one run a week on a trail, and in Colorado, trails usually mean more hills. So I think I’ll kill two birds with one stone there.

Also, as I was walking the dogs the other day, I discovered a staircase on one of my favorite running routes. How I have run past that staircase 2,000 times and never thought about running on them for stair work is beyond me. But no more! Next week’s speed run will be there.

It’s exciting to finally know (almost for sure) which race I’m doing!

………………………….

Finally, I went to the grocery store (aka SuperTarget) on Saturday night and bought 25 tubs of yogurt. Ok, not really but I did buy a big tub of plain non-fat yogurt to use in recipes, smoothies, sour cream, etc, as well as 6 new (to me) Chobani flavors I had to try after seeing every blogger in the US talk about them, plus 6 Yoplait Lights for Travis so that he wouldn’t steal my Chobanis. 😉 I just ate the Blood Orange Chobani today and it was really good – a little sweet but I love how Greek yogurt is so much thicker than regular yogurt. I do not, however, like the price.

I told Travis how much we’re spending on groceries every month (from what I can guesstimate, since we’re not doing the Dave Ramsey envelope system anymore and I haven’t checked our bank account online since… 5 years ago) and he was a little surprised. Sooooo… I will be looking for ways to cut down our grocery bill in the near future. (Goodbye Chobani.)

One thing I think will help is to stop buying processed food (like mac ‘n’ cheese in a box, frozen pizza, cans of soup). Every couple months, I buy those things more often than I should because I just get lazy in the kitchen. But I realized yesterday that making my own little pizzas on whole wheat pitas isn’t really that much more work and it’s way healthier; it’s really easy and healthy to make soup from scratch with low-sodium ingredients (dump everything into the crockpot!); and it doesn’t take much longer for me to boil whole wheat or brown rice noodles and add real cheese than it does for me to use a pre-packaged box. Not only do I pay more with my wallet for the convenience, I pay more with my health too.

I just get lured in by the pictures of creamy deliciousness and liquid gold – I never knew I was such a sucker for Mac ‘n’ Cheese until I was paging through my binder of printed recipes the other day and had 4 or 5 different versions of it. Heh.

What are your tips for keeping the grocery bill down?

Training Recap: 1/9 – 1/15

16 Jan

Can’t believe it’s Monday already!

My Saturday was pretty standard: grocery shopping, house cleaning, long run, watching the Broncos get slaughtered.

Sunday was also pretty typical: church, lunch with friends, laying around watching TV. I was also productive in the kitchen for the first time in a while – I made banana bread using this recipe. Because of the altitude, I baked it at 325 for 1 hr 30 minutes (thanks to a note I had written on the recipe from last time I used it) instead of what they recommend and it turned out delicious.

I also made this zucchini soup that we’re going to eat tonight for dinner and boiled some eggs for salads this week thanks to the wonderfully precise and helpful instructions from Reluctant Entertainer. The eggs turned out well and they peel really easily, which was always the thing that prevented me from boiling eggs in the past. (Who has 10 minutes to spend peeling an egg?)

After a only-mildly-unpleasant dentist appointment this morning, I have been looking over my workouts from last week and am completely baffled. I took three rest days last week? I only ran 10 measly miles? 7 of which were during my long run on Saturday? No wonder it felt like crap.

Seriously, has this ever happened to you? I have no idea what I did last Monday night. My heart rate monitor and mapmyrun.com both say that I didn’t run. But why? And if I did take a rest day on Monday, why did I also take one on Wednesday and Friday? The ironic part was that our Wednesday night commitment was canceled so I even had an extra free night!

Apparently, the light upstairs was burnt out last week.

But I will say, I was exhausted last week. Probably because the week before, I had a record week – my total workout hours reached almost 5 and I burned 2,500 calories. I don’t think I’ve spent that much time training even for the Olympic triathlon. So maybe my body deceived me into resting?

Whatever happened, here is last week’s training.

Monday: Rest day?

Tuesday: 3.22 mile hill run (38:12, 11:51/mile)

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 20 min spin bike, 15 min incline walk on treadmill, 15 min walk with dogs outside

For my 20 minutes (and 2nd time ever) on the spin bike, I alternated 1 minute easy, 1 minute hard, 1 minute easy, 1 minute RPM over 100, etc. Got out of the saddle a couple of times, which brought my heart rate over 170! Great workout. I would like to try a spin class but haven’t really made the effort or commitment.

On the treadmill, I started off at 4.0 mph at 4.0 incline, worked up by .5 increments to 6.0 incline, alternating between 4.0 and 4.5 walking pace every minute. Also a good workout!! (But now I realize that I did two hill workouts in a week… aye aye aye).

Friday: Rest (although I did do some light strength training at my PT appt and my hip flexors were still sore Saturday)

Saturday: 7.11 mile run (1:21:17, 11:26/mile)

I actually took the dogs with me for 5 miles on this run. I was hoping it would wear them out for our football party and it sort of worked (they tuckered out sooner, I think). My legs were sore and tired from the PT exercises I had done Friday morning and my legs were ready to be done after 4 miles – although I felt it a lot in my calves and they didn’t get worked at PT.

I think I also went out too fast because I did the first mile in 10:56. It was hard to tell how fast I was going with my sore legs so I was trying to just go at an easy pace. All that said, I’m satisfied with the run overall. If I kept that pace for the entire half marathon, I would still PR!

Sunday: 30 minute Tabata workout

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This week, I am aiming to be more diligent about going to bed on time. That means I will have to do my workouts either at lunch or right after work, instead of eating dinner and then going to the gym later. Whenever I do that, I get to bed too late. And when I don’t get enough sleep, I feel like a zombie who wants to eat every refined carb in a 5 mile radius. That’s what happened Thursday night. Not pretty.

How does being tired affect your workouts/training?

ColdGear my butt.

9 Jan

So I mentioned that I got my Under Armour Compression Tights and my new Nike (Golf) jacket in the mail. I tried them out during my chilly run on Saturday and I have mixed feelings.

First, let me say that I absolutely LOVE the fit and feel of the compression tights. I seriously would wear them all day long and never take them off because they’re so comfortable. I wasn’t sure that I would like the weird men’s-underwear-looking elastic band around the waist (you can see it in the video on their website) but it is seriously comfy. No muffin top action there. And my favorite part – they’re actually a little too long. Not like my 2XU compression tights.

I have perfected the awkward picture in one try.

But unlike my 2XU tights, these don’t feel like recovery compression tights. My 2XU tights are so tight, they’re almost like getting a wetsuit on (you should see how small they are!) and I can actually feel them doing something to my legs when I’m wearing them. The UA tights are a good tight, but I am skeptical about their muscle-fatigue-preventing powers. Thoughts?

 

Anyway, I wore my new duds out my run Saturday morning at the butt-crack of dawn. Seriously, the sun was just beginning to rise when I went out. It was about 25 degrees and I wore a long-sleeve tech tee, my new Nike jacket, and a fleece vest on top. On bottom, my UA tights and SmartWool running socks (seriously the best socks ever for cold runs). I also wore a fleece ear warmer and fleece gloves.

Katy didn’t understand why I was bending over and not petting her

Why did I head out so cotton-pickin’ early? I was supposed to run with a friend at 8 am and figured we’d do about 3 miles. Since I had 8 on the schedule and wanted to be done after running with my friend, I got up to do the 5 before meeting up with her.

So, I got geared up and after a breakfast of instant oatmeal (that I’m trying to get out of my cupboard) with raisins, I set out with the pooches for 3.5 miles, after which I would drop them at the house and go do another 1.5 before driving over to D’s house.

Immediately, my legs were cold. But maybe the tights work on some kind of heat exchange so I just need to get moving for them to warm me up, I thought.

Not so much.

My legs froze. My butt froze. I was not enjoying it.

But I kept going because I had to. I dropped the dogs off and gritted my teeth for another 1.5 miles. Just a few more minutes until I can warm up, I told myself.

I got back and grabbed my stuff to head over to D’s, when I found out that she wasn’t feeling well and didn’t think she should run. So I was on my own to finish out the last 3 miles. Crapit. My legs had just thawed out and I had to head back out into the cold. But I wanted to be done more than I wanted to be warm so I did it. It wasn’t pretty but after a spoonful of peanut butter and 3 Shotbloks, I did it.

Luckily, for those last 3 miles, I brought Harry Potter with me (on my iPod) and for some reason, having mental stimulation like listening to a book or sermon makes time pass a lot faster during a workout for me than listening to music. So the cold wasn’t as bad during the last 3 miles (but it was probably mostly that the sun was out by then too).

All in all, I ran 8.27 miles in 1:32:40, an 11:12 pace. I feel pretty good about that, considering I was running with ice legs.

So unfortunately, while I like the UA leggings and am definitely going to keep them, they’re not going to be appearing on any more 25 degree or colder runs. I told Travis that I think my problem is that I’m too cheap to buy the actual leggings made for those temps. I saw some at Boulder Running Company when we were buying our shoes – they were a lot thicker but they were also something like $120. In Minnesota, I think I could justify that because it’s a lot colder there, and for longer, than it is here in CO (except for this winter?!?!). But by February, I’m going to probably be wearing shorts again so…

About the jacket, since I wore a fleece vest over it and it wasn’t raining or windy, I don’t really have an accurate assessment (not that you probably care, since I’m most likely the only one cheap enough to buy a golf jacket for running) but it did keep my arms warm (and not too warm)!

Here’s the back of the jacket if you’re interested:

And the stretchy side:

Also a sad little side note: the jacket has a cinch at the bottom and the little plastic thing rubbed against my UA tights, so now there’s a fuzzy spot on my tights. ::tear::

What do you wear on your legs for cold runs? Help a girl out!

Training Recap: 1/2 – 1/8

9 Jan

My weekend was very relaxing – Friday night, Travis played broomball with some friends and I just stayed home. I made a frozen pizza for dinner, went to Target and bought some binders/scrapbooks to create a new picture album, a memory book for races, as well as a memory book for holidays, vacations, etc. Then I organized my scrapbooking tote and watched The Wedding Planner.

Saturday, I got up at 6:15 to eat breakfast and feed the pooches before heading out on a run at 6:50, right when it started getting light outside. I ended up doing 8.27 miles at a 11:12 pace, which I’m pretty excited about (that pace would give me a 4 minute PR in the half). After my run, I did 2 things I hadn’t done in a year: used Photoshop (tried to teach my friend how to use it for basic things) and got my hair cut. No, I hadn’t gotten my hair cut in over a year. Whoops.

But really, it’s because my hair only grew this much:

Maybe 6 inches?

Anyway, after my haircut, I took a nap while Travis hung this up in our guest bedroom:

This makes you want to come visit, doesn’t it?

Now you can understand my hesitation to let him put it up anywhere in our house – it’s HUGE. But supposedly this is just “temporary” until we can take it back to Minnesota to his parents’ house. I actually don’t hate it. I just think it looks awkward because of how big it is, and how small our house is.

Here’s a victory pic:

After I was done lamenting about what he had done to our lovely guest room, I worked on my race memory book, and then we went out to dinner at Namiko’s, a sushi bar near our house. We tried a couple of new kinds and found one that we loved – it was called Gemini and was a tempura roll with tuna, crab, and salmon inside. Delicious.

After that, we read and went to bed around 9:30. We lead such exciting lives, don’t we?

The next morning, we both slept in until 8:30! I can’t believe we got 11 hours of sleep. I got up at 6 to let the dogs out and feed them. But then I put Charlie back in her kennel and Katy crawled in between us on the bed for another 2 1/2 hours.

When we finally did get up, we went to church, grocery shopping, and then over to some friends’ house to watch the Broncos game. What a great game! We were all totally pumped that they won, and in the way that they did. Amazing. Go Tebow!

After the game, we went home, worked out, finished doing laundry and dishes, read for a while, and went to bed.

And now it’s Monday again! That means it’s time for a training recap.

Monday: 3.5 mile run (40:04, 11:29/mile)

Tuesday: Half mile repeats (total of 3.3 miles, all 4 around 4:30); 20 minutes strength training

For my strength training, I did the exercises I learned in physical therapy. The hardest one to do is backward lunges off a high step or box (this time I used a step with 4 risers, but I’ve also used a box jump before). Stand on your right foot with your left foot off the step. Slowly bend your right leg until your thigh is parallel to the ground and then step down on to your left foot, concentrating on keeping your right knee straight forward. Start with 1 set of 12-15 times and switch sides. Work up to 3 sets. Major butt soreness.

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 3.04 mile tempo run (31:15, 10:17/mile); 35 minutes of easy yoga

I did my usual tempo formula: 0.5 mile warmup, 2 miles tempo, 0.5 mile cool down. The tempo miles were 9:55 and 10:20. I think the second one was slower mostly because I had to pick up and throw away two poop bags and I didn’t stop my watch. My total time was still 7 seconds faster than the same run last week. Improvement!

Friday: Rest

Saturday: 8.27 mile run (1:32:40, 11:12/mile)

I’ll give details about this run in another post, since I wore my new Under Armour tights. But for now, I’ll say that it was a tough run, but I’m very pleased with my pace.

Sunday: 45 minutes of Denise Austin’s Ultimate Fat Burner

An oldie but goodie. I’m not sure how smart it was to do this video – it involves a lot of lateral movements and plyometrics and now my right knee hurts a bit. But I sweated a lot and got my heart rate up to 173 so it was at least partly a success. I think I’m going to forego the run today though and do some cross training.

When was your last haircut?

What do you think about head mounts of animals? {I won’t be offended if you say you hate them… although Travis might be.}

Sleeprunning and Knowing When to Cut Your Losses

15 Dec

I just read this in an article about elite runner Tera Moody’s insomnia:

Sleep experts say adults should snooze about one hour for every two hours awake. Conventional training wisdom says to add one extra minute in bed per night for every mile run during the week. Not getting enough sleep builds up a so-called “sleep debt,” a term that also has its own rule: Every hour of sleep you lose is like a brick added to a backpack you must carry on the next workout.

I must have been carrying a 10 lb backpack during my sleeprun this morning. My legs felt like they would barely move, my eyes were watering, my feet were shuffling, and I zoned out several times, bumbling along in a daze. When I had a rare thought, it was, “Yeah, it might have been more productive to take today off.”

But my anal-retentive self won’t let me take a day off. In fact, I’ve been more dedicated to this training plan than any of my triathlon plans. I have fit in 95% of my workouts and even kept up with strength/weight training and stretching.

There’s a point in your training (and in your life), though, when you’re simply just trying to do too much. And by blazing ahead without heeding the warning signs, whether of being burnt out or on the verge of injury, you’re really just setting yourself up for a fall.

The hard part is that cutting back feels like weakness. It’s tempting to look at how many miles other runners run each week and think “I should be able to do my measly 15.” Or to look at all the activities and plans other women juggle and suddenly feel pathetic for struggling to hold my little life together.

But this is the trap I fall in to, time and time again: What I think I “should” do. This is what prevents me from being realistic about what I can handle. Some people thrive on busyness; others do not. I fall more into the latter. Whenever I am busy, I fight against the feeling with all of my being. I don’t like being busy. I’d rather be bored (and actually, I’m one of those people so good at entertaining themselves and finding things to do that I never am bored – well, unless I’m at work).

I find it somewhat amusing that so many people (myself included) complain about being so busy and stressed out, yet we’re the ones choosing to be busy and stressed out. After I said how exhausted excited I was about our holiday plans, and proceeded to schedule another dinner and New Year’s Eve plans, I took a step back and thought, What the heck am I doing here? I keep whining in self-pity about being “so tired” and “just exhausted” and wanting to do “nothing but lie on the couch all day” and then I go and MAKE MORE PLANS!

WHY? Why do I do this to myself?

It goes back to thinking that I “should.” I should be busy. I should have something to show for myself at the end of the day (no thanks to you, job). How often do you ask someone (who was not just on vacation!) what they’ve been up to and they say, “Oh you know, just a lot of reading and relaxing with my kids. A lot of sleeping in and going to bed early. Not much of anything productive.”

This is something that I’ve had to learn many times over the past couple of years (and am obviously still learning) – I don’t have to be productive to be a worthwhile person. Just like a person’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of their possessions, it also doesn’t consist in the abundance of things they do. Busyness =/= worth.

So what am I going to do about this in my own life?

I am cutting off 4 miles from my long run on Saturday, taking Sunday as a rest day, and canceling my entire week of training next week too. If I feel like working out, great. I’m not making a rule that I can’t work out. But if I’m busy with other stuff, perhaps watching cheesy Christmas movies and eating sugar cookies, I’m off the hook. After Christmas, my real marathon training starts so if I want a break in the name of mental health, I should take it now.

The other thing I’m going to do is Stop Saying Yes. Yes, I’ve read this in a zillion self-help articles and magazines. But I never identified myself with “those people-pleasers who can never say no” because the things I was saying yes to were 1) good things 2) things I wanted to do and 3) things I was good at doing. Why would I say no to something that seemed so perfect for me?

Because I go insane with a busy schedule, that’s why.

Joanna Weaver wrote something profound in Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, something I am just beginning to truly understand:

…While there are many things that need to be done, things I’m capable of doing and want to do, I am not always the one to do them.

Ability and Desire do not mean Do It. I have to accept that right now, I am running on empty (unless you count all those bricks in my backpack). In my heart, I do desire to serve others, spend time in fellowship and volunteering, in addition to maintaining my household, working, and training. But right now, God is calling me to an empty schedule. To turn things down in the name of rest and relaxation. I feel like I am on the verge of self-destructing and that does not benefit anyone.

So after Christmas is over (and I guess now New Year’s too), I am going to guard my evenings and weekends. I am going to feel complete freedom to turn down requests and invitations in the name of my sanity – especially since I’ll be spending more and more time training for the marathon. I will end the Madness by telling productivity to take a hike and all other obligations to leave me the h-e-doublehockeysticks alone.

But until then, I am praying for grace and trusting that God will provide the energy and joy I need to enjoy the full schedule I have planned. 😉

Do you ever bite off more than you can chew? How do you fit in time for rest?

Life Is a Glorious Mess

13 Dec

For two or three weeks before my parents came out for Thanksgiving, I had gotten into a routine. Life was good. Predictable. Tidy. Organized.

But having out of town guests was just the thing that upset my routine and now 3 weeks later, I’m still not back on track. Too many nights of staying up late trying to get things done. Too many mornings of caring more about sleep than getting back on track. Too many days of trying to catch up on things that I bailed on in the name of relaxation (hello, house cleaning!).

{source}

I woke up yesterday morning wanting at least 4 more hours in bed. Instead, I got up to make coffee – an hour after my alarm went off the first time. The kitchen counters overflowed with dirty dishes; the table drowned in Christmas presents, mail, and other things used over the weekend but not put away. The cupboards were conspicuously bare from my lack of grocery shopping. The fridge held potatoes from our garden and spinach from the store, wilting and rotting before I could use them. The dogs wagged their tails in hope of a walk. A temperature of 63 degrees revealed that the furnace wasn’t working again.

I was frustrated. Mad. Why is life so hard?

I do better when life is organized. When things are in their place. When I’m on top of what I need to be on top of.

I could have been there this morning – except I chose to relax and watch Christmas movies last night instead of doing chores.

And I’ve realized that my affinity for order and perfection has a price tag – it costs me Life. Joy. Peace. Patience.

When I admire people in movies (like J. Lo in The Wedding Planner) who have every piece of their life in place with predictable schedules and unvaried routines, I fail to realize that they’re paying for that perfection – with human relationships. I mean, how often do those same perfect people have an intimate marriage, loving kids, and open their homes to others?

To truly embrace the presence of others in my life, I have to let go of perfection. Because a life filled with relationships is messy. As Emily Walker wrote in her post The Messy Table:

My table is not perfect, but it has done the job it was meant to do very well. Life has been lived at it. Lessons have been learned at it. Memories have been made for decades, right there at that table. It tells the story of lives being lived, not life missed out on in the name of perfection.

That. Exactly.

When I think about what kind of mother I want to be someday, do I want my kids to remember how well-kept our house was, elaborate our dinners were, and how we were always running around doing stuff?  Or do I want them to remember how I played with them in our backyard, dropped whatever I was doing to listen or laugh, and didn’t get mad when they trampled little dirty footprints all over the carpet? Obviously, I want to be the latter.

And here’s what I’m learning: I don’t become the peaceful, patient, loving woman I want to be by being perfect and on top of things. Rather, I grow to be that woman as I learn to let things go. If I expect the house to always be orderly, I get frustrated when something is out of place. If I map out my schedule for the day and a wrench gets thrown in, I’m mad.

People who exhibit the fruit of the Spirit aren’t isolated from problems and frustrations. They have just learned to embrace the messiness of life. Be content in chaos. See each moment for what it’s really worth – not a time for getting things done, but a time to connect with and serve others, and to be filled with the joy of knowing Christ. Instead of running around checking off my own to-do list, I need to walk through each day with God, trusting that His grace is sufficient – He will provide the energy and wisdom to work when I need to, and to rest when I need to.

A comforting idea I’ve had in my head for several weeks now is that God is more realistic about my abilities than I am. Like QuatroMama writes in this post, I tend to set up my own (perfectionist) standards and then beat myself up when I fall short.

But God is realistic. “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” He doesn’t ask me to be Mega Woman. He understands that I only have so many minutes in a day and if I spend time doing this thing, I don’t have time for that thing. If I’m exhausted and want to veg instead of clean, He doesn’t accuse me of laziness and not being productive, like I do to myself. Unlike me, He is full of grace, understanding, and patience.

This is where the Gospel makes all the difference. The Gospel allows us to admit that we fall short of what we wish we were, but reassures us that we’re loved anyway. And God’s love for us isn’t despite how we’ve disappointed Him, or failed to live up to His standard. Because when He sees us in Christ, He sees perfect beings. We are completely and utterly righteous in His eyes. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgression from us.”

He doesn’t mutter “I love you” through gritted teeth while trying to not be mad over all the things we’ve done wrong. God’s love abounds for us. He lavishly pours out grace upon grace into our lives with delight.

In the words of John Piper, remind yourself, “I am holy and I am loved.” Even when life is messy.

Do you struggle with perfectionism? How do you remind yourself of God’s unfailing love?

Christmas Festivities!

10 Dec

I tell ya, even when you try to not get too busy during the holiday season, it happens anyway.

Here’s our December lineup:

Nov 30: Operation Christmas Child (Ok, not December, but it’s related to Christmas!)

Dec 4-5: Minnesota trip

Dec 10: Christmas tea at church (set up in morning, tea in afternoon); baking sugar cookies, putting up Christmas decorations, and watching A Christmas Story (I’ve never seen it!) with Travis

Dec 11: Christmas party after church

Dec 17: Christmas Carol 5K in the AM; Dinner with friends in the PM

Dec 18: Going up to Evergreen as a birthday/Christmas/done-with-grad-classes celebration to go ice skating and have a nice dinner; hoping to watch another Christmas movie I’ve never seen like It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street (I know, it really is tragic that I haven’t seen these classics.)

Dec 20: Zoolights at the Denver Zoo after work with friends

And then it’s Christmas! Since we’re not going to be with family, I’m voting for just staying home to do a whole lot of cookie eating, movie watching, and game playing on Christmas instead of going to any big gathering. Relaxing sounds absolutely wonderful right now!

Even though we have lots of fun stuff planned, for some reason, it’s been harder for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year than others. It just doesn’t feel like Christmas and I don’t know why. It’s probably something to do with feeling exhausted from being on the go and also the fact that we still don’t have our Christmas decorations up! I’m really hoping to get that done tomorrow. In the midst of the frenzy, though, I am striving to keep my focus on experiencing and savoring this season, not just viewing it as one giant to-do list.

What fun things are you doing this holiday season? 

And the marathon winner is…

9 Nov

Since work is still pretty slow, I used the majority of last Friday to compare, via detailed spreadsheet, every marathon I could find in the months of March, April, May and June of next year that fit my criteria of being either a big race (5,000+ marathoners) or well-supported by spectators, and being in a location that could double as our 5-year wedding anniversary trip. So I looked up airfare, race reviews, course information, number of participants and local attractions. The (most likely) winner?

The Eugene Marathon on April 29.

Eugene, Oregon, is about 2 hours from Portland and even though it’s a smaller marathon (about 2,000 finishers last year), the race drew 8,000 athletes with the other events and since running is so popular in this city nicknamed Track Town USA, a lot of spectators come out to support. The course is flat and beautiful from what I’ve read. And Oregon is a state that neither Travis nor I have ever been to, but always wanted to visit. I mean, how can you not get excited about the food cart craze?

So I have adjusted both my base building and marathon training plans (updated on this page), since this race is a month earlier than the one I thought about doing in Minnesota. It’s a long {and boring} story about why I decided against the race in MN but it involves a wedding, a bunch of hills and a lack of both runners and spectators.

But I’ve encountered a little hiccup in my marathon goal: a lack of motivation.

It’s a bad sign when I can barely muster up enough willpower to force myself out for a 3 mile run. What is going to happen to me when I have to do 8, 9, even 10 miles on a work day? I’m serious. How am I going to manage that?

I’ve thought about running during lunch (although the max there will be probably be about 5 miles, since I’m slow and lunch can’t last forever). I’ve thought about doing 2-a-days and splitting those long runs into morning and evening runs, or lunchtime and evening runs (I think that would work fine because I’d still have my continuous long run on the weekend). I’ve even thought about breaking up the mileage between the track and the dreadmill treadmill at my gym. Because I don’t think I could stand to run a full 10 miles, either in 100 circles or in place.

I need to dip into my reserve of this:

I’m trying to not think about how much I don’t want to go on a 4 mile run after work today. I’d rather go lay on the couch and stuff my face with leftover corn bread. But that’s what I did last night so… I should probably go.

The deal I’m making with myself is that I have to at least get all my planned mileage and weight training in. If I want to skip my cute little cardio workouts, fine. But no skipping runs. And no skipping weights. Because I am not going to get injured this time. Remember?

The cupcake image reminds me of a shirt idea I had for the marathon – Will Run for Cake. Which turned out to not be such a unique idea after all… I’ll have to change mine to say something like:

That’s a million dollar idea right there.

I like this shirt too (from gypsyrunner.com):

I saw a girl at the Malibu Half last year that was wearing that shirt and I immediately thought, “That’s the shirt I need!” But until I saw them at the Denver Rock ‘n’ Roll expo, I had only been able to find the shirt in cotton. Apparently, those who run like turtles don’t sweat.

Remember that you still have time to enter my 400th blog post giveaway!

How do you stay motivated to train or exercise?

Have you ever done 2-a-days?