Monday, April 6, 2015

... just that something so good just can't function no more ...







(or - why I broke up with running for a month)

You guys, I love running. I hate it a little bit sometimes, but running really brings a lot of balance to my life.

Pencil on paper drawing. Inspired after a tired run, falling over and getting a bloody knee. :) I love running but....some days it hurts.

Running brings structure. Running is an outlet for all of the anxiety and feelings and worry I carry with me daily. Running helps me feel confident in what my body can do, and in what I can do in other areas in my life. Running squashes anger. Running eases the blues. Running gives me time to process. Running helps with adult ADD. Running makes my stressful teacher/grad student/landlord/mom to chronically ill cat/secret perfectionist life more manageable. Running, frankly, helps me feel proud of myself. Which is a huge thing for someone who almost never feels proud of themselves. It's cheaper than therapy and better for you than wine and doesn't put you at risk of tipsy texting.




But alas, running started letting me down in late February/early March. I got the flu (eased somewhat by having the vaccine) at a critical point in my training cycle. I tried to train (and taper) while sick. The weather was horrible. Work piled up, Grad school got harder. I wasn't making the gains I wanted in pace/strength. I didn't 'look' like a runner in my mind's eye. I ran my marathon - my first ever - on a day when I had been fever-free for about 72 hours and took DayQuil the morning of. I probably should not have run, but I did anyway. My time was crappy. And sometime between crossing the finish line and eating pizza I had a moment when I thought running and I should see other people. After a moderately good 5K time just a week after my marathon, I felt it in my bones - it was time to take a break.

Why?

Some of my issue was due to poor coping after a bad race. To be fair, this was my first BAD race experience. Other complicating factors included me being a perfectionist, and what happens to your body in the last leg of training for such a long race. The taper crazies are real, and include weight gain that I find to be mentally derailing. And there is such a thing as PMS - post-marathon syndrome. You think I would have read about this earlier on. Symptoms include the following - 

  • Sudden, unexplained feeling of sadness - CHECK.
  • Feeling of a lack of aim/purpose in the immediate future - CHECK
  • Negative thoughts accompanied by low energy levels and loss of appetite - CHECK
  • Extended sleep hours where you sometimes sleep for hours at a stretch - CHECK
  • Feelings of anxiety, irritability and hopelessness - CHECK
  • Difficulty in concentrating on day-to-day tasks - CHECK
  • Yikes. But when you use running to deal with ADD/anxiety/whatever-the-hell-else time off can be difficult. And when running and I broke up, my post-marathon blues turned into unbalanced craziness and sleeping for what felt like days.

    It was not a good look. And it took a while to recover.

    I think I am finally back in a good place and willing to admit that while I could have done better, I am pretty darn proud of myself. I am proud of my body. And I am glad that I was able to learn more about how my body works and the role exercise plays in my mental health. I learned who helps in my training, when to stop, and when to keep going. I finished a marathon. I didn't poop myself, die, or get picked up by the struggle bus. One more thing I can cross off the list of things I never thought possible for me to accomplish.

    Did @fabletics #positivitypinsweeps

    One of these days I want to run another marathon, I actually have one kinda picked out. And I also have another I dream of finishing. But those are goals I am putting on the back burner as I ease myself into a more mindful training cycle for summer races - and I'm setting goals that will help me stay on track and away from PMS - for good! Right now I am training up for a half marathon in Asheville, another in Greenville, and possible races in Savannah and a possible birthday half. I want to train well and give my body what it needs to recover and bounce back from training. I also want to keep up with my 2015 in 2015 challenge.

    So true....this is how I felt with my first half-marathon in 2013. Hoping for a full marathon in 2014.

    Running is an essential part of my self-care, and a big part of my life right now. Taking some time off and seeing the (drastically) sucky effects on my day to day lead me to believe it is a habit I will continue to indulge in. 

    Excuse me - gotta put out my tights for tomorrow morning!

    QotD - What makes you better/stronger? What happens when you don't 'indulge' in that for a while?

    Monday, March 30, 2015

    ... the door is locked, I turned off the coffee pot, running late as I back out of the drive - I feel like I'm forgettin' somethin' ...


    This month, really, this whole  new year, has been hectic and full and packed to the brim with things to do and people to see. I have been working on pausing to think, and sometimes thinking a little too much.

    But trust me, I haven't forgotten to blog - I just haven't!

    I actually had a few draft posts up and ready to go - but hadn't approved them to post because something just felt wrong, so I let stuff slip and focused on other things.

    What was I focusing on? The parts of my life I actually can put my hands on and work with right now. I felt overwhelmed, and when I feel that way I typically I may pretend like I'm pretty carefree and willing to go with the flow, but really I want to get stuff DONE so it stops piling up when I am overwhelmed. So, lately I have -

    1. Gotten new furniture (I got the white sofa, and I still love it) for the living room, I own a TV again, and I'm working on framing some art I picked up in Asheville to go with the new paint (and by stars, it's a neutral wall color!). I still need to assemble a shelf from IKEA and mount it, as well as getting some new curtains/window treatments and toss pillows. But hey, it's progress.


    2. This week I am putting down new wood floor in my third floor bedroom so that I can add a new renter in May. At this point only 'old floor' in the condo is in the kitchen, bathrooms, and my bedroom - BECAUSE I GOT NEW CARPET. That ordeal took about a month, ya'll. But I am SO happy with it.

    3. I am in my second class of my second M.Ed. and trying not to be a terrible student - I got a little hung up at work last week and turned in an assignment just barely on time ... I forgot how stressful that can be to other group members, Ooops. I spent many a day in undergrad bewailing the slackness of fellow groupies and need to shape up. In better news, I made a 4.0 in my finance class - which I didn't expect!

    4. I'm teaching a class where I get to design the curriculum more - and I am trying to be as engaged a teacher as I know I should be.

    5. McEngineer and I built a doghouse! Although, really, it is large enough to be a child's playhouse (due to the size of the dog). The dog is very proud of it. And we both fit it it!



    6. I finished a marathon. It was a thing. Blog entry to follow - no worries.


    7. I stopped running for a bit. Partially due to how much Daylight Savings time messes me up in the springtime (loads!) and partially because I got slammed at work just as my training cycle was over. So this week will be getting-back-into-running-week, if all goes according to plan. I have to be a morning runner, and mornings are starting to get easier. Hopefully I can start getting the miles back in.

    8. I did some traveling and some racing (and have planned some travels and some races). Prepare to get your ears yapped off about them.

    9. Quit coffee/caffeine temporarily, partially to fight Daylight Savings nonsense and partially because I felt like it.

    10. Tracking and minimizing my cellphone use! It has helped with SO many parts of my life. It began as a part of NPR's Bored and Brilliant challenge, but I kept the Break Free app on my phone and have been loving how it helps me unplug a little more every day!

    There's a long list of things I *need* to do, and another list of things that I *want* to do, and then another list of things that I *need to want to do* ... but at the moment I am happy that I have completed what I have, and I and gaining momentum to do more things.

    And now that the frost has killed my first round of plants ... I think I may plant some more -

    QotD: What have you been doing lately? What are you planning to do next?

    Wednesday, January 7, 2015

    ... where's the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds ...


    Almost Wordless Wednesday ...

    Wishing you a - 

    Happy New Year
     or a
    Happy Do-over
    or a
    Happy Blank Page
     but most of all I wish you 
    Happiness
    True!

    Saturday, November 29, 2014

    ... if I knew you were comin', I'd've baked a cake ...

    I am a closeted holiday fiend. I love holidays - I love the opportunities to show people I love them and usually do that through baking way too many things.




    Pies are my favorite.



    I become slightly obsessed around this time of year and plot the kinds of pies I will make. My co-workers just sigh or giggle, depending on how many times I've talked about it that day.

    And now that I am ALL UP ON the Pinterest, inspiration abounds.

    Like the crust from this pie from Momofuku Milk Bar. As usual, can't follow a recipe all the way through and get to plotting alternate versions.

    Momofuku Milk Bar Crack Pie | browneyedbaker.com #recipe
    http://www.browneyedbaker.com/momofuku-milk-bar-crack-pie-recipe/
    I ended up with a peanut butter chess pie with oatmeal cookie crust, a cranberry sage pie I made previously and loved, and one that the New York Times apparently thinks all South Carolinians eat at Thanksgiving. I am from SC, and no one that I discussed this pie with, including the people at the three gatherings I attended, had ever heard of this pie.



    Overall, I made 6 pies (two of each) in as many hours and had two folks show up to pour me wine and moonshine  partake in the creative process that helps ease my stress by trying nibbles and making me laugh at myself. The cranberry sage was my favorite (I've been making it for three years now, so even if no one else likes it, it's getting made) and most adults liked the tartness. The oatmeal/PB monstrosity was a hit with the non-fruity pie crowd. Sadly, the NYT reviewed and raved pie was the least popular and was also the biggest pain to make. Not likely to try that one again.

    In other news, the boots that I ordered from Target (even though I probably shouldn't have) came in and I am SO in love with them. Seriously. They fit my wide calves, support my arches during long school days, survived a muddy Lake Hartwell shoreline hike, kept my feet dry and warm in the rain, and accommodate skinny jeans and/or legwarmers. Is it wrong for me to consider getting the tan ones in addition to the black and brown pairs I just bought? They are on SALE, ya'll!

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    An important picture, and some fun links below -



    If you're feeling like entering to win a little bling and some fitness gear, feel free to click here!

    Looking for gifts for a teacher? Here is a great place to start.

    Tuesday, November 25, 2014

    ... when we get home our hands are bleeding - so we go to church ...


     

    I spent this past Saturday night exploring my fair burg's blossoming art scene at a nifty space called The Artistry. This spot/gallery participates in Greenville's First Friday series and has several events a year. It is a little removed from the rest of the galleries downtown, which may be why I was unaware of the fact that this gem existed until I learned of the event coming up.

    to start at the beginning - one of my cool friends introduced me to a band called Wasted Wine a little while back. I liked their gypsy/rock sound and the group they preform with - Discordia Arts. They put on quite the Dia de Los Muertos show at The WARD.

    Based off of my awesome experience at the previous show, I went to Vulcanalia 2014 in Greenville.
    It looked like it was going to be cold (at least by SC standards), so I bundled up. I was needlessly layered as they had bonfires, heat-lamps, and people dancing about most of the evening.

    I arrived fairly early, so I was able to see some people working in the studio - one person was grinding down some sort of metal sculpture, and another artist was making things that looked like peace lilies by flattening and hammering thin pieces of metal affixed to dowel-looking metal rods. It was really fascinating. Had I not heard the announcement that the fashion show was about to start, I would have just watched them work most of the evening.

    The fashion show featured several of local shops, and was awesome -
    Photo property of John Gillespie Photography LLC - http://www.johngillespiephoto.com/


    Photo property of John Gillespie Photography LLC - http://www.johngillespiephoto.com/


     After the fashion show, it was time for Wasted Wine's set with performances from Discordia Arts. There was fire hula-hooping, and fire dancing, and belly dancing, and just plain awesomeness. for a little sample of what the music and dancing looked like - check these out!


    Wasted Wine



    Discordia Arts

     
     After the set, a wood sculpture was set on fire and some people did some acro-yoga. I decided to try out the Good to Go Mobile Kitchen food truck. I had Low Country Hash - which was just like frogmore stew but chopped into forkable pieces. It was just what I needed after a long run that morning and a late-ish night out.

    All in all, this was quite the amazing event and I was thrilled to have been able to go! I am looking forward to another show The Artistry is giving in May, featuring one of my favorite Greenville artists - Emily Clarke!

    Saturday, November 22, 2014

    ... from your feet up to your hair, more than anything I swear ...

    Ladies, let's take a second to consider our foundation garments. Skivvies. BVDs. Panties. Intimates. Drawers. Jockey shorts. Bloomers. Smallclothes. Pants. Lingerie. Briefs.

    Underwear.

    Underwear can be pretty and girly. I like lace and satin just as much as the next girl. Underpants are also functional - we all have our granny panties and our girlboxers we lounge in. And did anyone else's mom tell them to always wear clean, decent underwear in case you had to go to the hospital? I highly doubt that will be the thing nurses are discussing if I was in a wreck.

    There's the no skivvies crowd, the thong club, and everyone has their favorite style or brand. There' s the lucky underwear, the date panties, and the ones with holes that need to get thrown away. When your favorite kind of underwear is discontinued, it is truly a tragic day. It's worse than no longer being able to find your favorite bra or jeans.

    And you guys, I can no longer find my favorite underwear for running. I'm not usually underwear elitist or really have a strong opinion about underwear. But now that I have started running, the correct layers are essential. When you start moving fast and you're afraid that your thighs are going to catch fire and weird things start chafing ... the right underwear becomes crucial.

    Thankfully, most of the year (in the South, anyhow) we can get away with athletic shorts with built in liners. Underwear and pants are a package deal! Also, sport skirts with built in boy shorts. Done and done. No need for added tighty whiteys.

    But there doesn't seem to be a solution for what to wear with shorts like these.



    And what about with capris and leggings? You have to deal with VPL or the danger of your crotch catching fire due to chafe if the fit isn't 100% perfect. Even tried and true capris can turn on you. This has happened to me before. It is NOT good/pretty.

    So I am considering (perhaps, maybe) trying some fancy-pants running undies if I can find my preferred backup drawers soon. These are even super cute!



    But guys, there is just no way in heck this is going to happen ...


    I mean, seriously.

    Advice? Tales of woe? Horrified? Tell me about it in the comments.


    Thursday, November 20, 2014

    ... when you start to get confused because of thoughts in your head - don't feel those feelings, hold them in instead ...


    If you have the chance (and are not easily offended) you need to get out to see The Book of Mormon. My cousin and I were able to see it recently at The Peace Center and even though it made for a late night and was a bit of a drive ...

    IT WAS PERFECTION.

    I am a big fan of Broadway musicals, and have seen several over the years and each has their own place in my heart. Oklahoma is just plain fun and full of romance, The Sound of Music is like soul food, and Phantom of the Opera just makes you want to cry from how beautiful it is. The Peace Center puts on an amazing show, every single time.

    And this musical? It is the perfect irreverent, sassy, skeptical comedy. Tap-dancing Mormons? Check. Foul language? Check. Sassy characters and satirical comedy? Double check.

    Do yourself a favor and go (or watch these two videos).

    Before the show, we were able to have a long catch-up at Chicora Alley. She loves this place and we used to eat there frequently when she was in school in Greenville, If you decide to go - know this - the portion sizes are generous! A half nacho was more than enough for me as an early dinner with and sharing and I don't think I have ever seen anyone clear their plate during a meal there. All of the funky salsas and home-cooking touches like the fried mac&cheese make this an excellent choice for a dinner out in downtown, Go early and go hungry!