Saturday, October 25, 2014

On The Road Again

Well, after a break of maybe four years (and my license expired), I drove the car again. Got a call from The Dude saying Buddy's bike had broken down on their way to soccer practice and could I drive down to where they were with a screwdriver. After trying to think of all the different ways they could possibly manage without my doing it, I got the Goo dressed, found my keys, grabbed the tool kit, screwdrivers, and diaper bag and headed to the garage.

I don't think I have ever been more freaked out in my life.

And then I just did one thing at a time. Turned on the light in the garage. Got Goo in the car seat. Put the other stuff in the front seat. Sat down. Adjusted the seat and the rearview mirror. Put on my seat belt. Checked the emergency brake. Turned on the car (keeping it in park) and tried out the pedals to remind myself which was which. Opened the garage door. Put the car in reverse and backed out into the alley. Closed the garage door. Drove the 3/4 mile to where the boys were waiting for me on the side of the road.

And then after they fixed the bike, I loaded up the car with tools and toddler again and drove back home. They continued to soccer.

And you know what?

It felt good.

It really does come back to you. Just like "riding a bike" (something else I don't want to do in Chicago but with more reason, I think).

I can't wait to get re-licensed and be officially (ahem, legally) on the road again.

Bravely,
Annie

Friday, October 24, 2014

Still Slugging Away

As you may remember, I was given a gift certificate for a month-long small group class at my gym, and I chose to use it in May for boxing. And promptly fell in love with with the sport, so much so that I quickly signed up to take the class again in June.

I knew I would not be able to take the class in July, so I asked the instructor for suggestions for training on my own for that month. I also went ahead and found an instruction book for women from Gleason's Gym (yes, that Gleason's Gym).

During July I mostly trained at my gym in their open studio room, following a routine similar to what we'd done in class (minus the heavy and double-end bags and partner work). So, shadow-boxing, drills, jumping rope, and boxing-specific strength training, with some cardio work before and afterwards just to make it feel like a full workout.

August came and we knew we would be moving and that life would be too busy (and funds too tight) to take another class. I also knew I would be losing my gym membership once we moved. I knew if I were going to continue with boxing I would need to find a way to do it truly on my own. 

Of course I asked myself whether it made sense to continue at all. Do I need to be doing this? What for? Especially knowing that it may be a long time before I can work with a trainer again and longer still before I would be able to spar. And then one night I had a dream... and when I woke up the answer was clear. Yes. Pursue this.

And with renewed dedication, I found ways to motivate myself for those times when it's hard to continue on my own, and worked on finding a way to fit this into my life. I spent September practicing routines and habits so everything wouldn't be new once we moved. 

So where am I now? Five to six days a week I get up early, make my tea, put away the dishes from the day before, say my prayers, and then head downstairs to the basement. I work on strength-training for both running and boxing for about 10 minutes, switching up my exercises each day. Then I start my drills and shadow-boxing. I started at about 45 minutes over the course of the week, am now at 75 minutes, and am working up to 90 minutes per week. How much I do in any given day depends on what's going on in my day overall and what other workout I have planned. I don't jump rope right now - the ceiling in the basement isn't high enough and I don't have time to go outside and then back in again, every minute in the morning matters. That's fine, I have confidence I can pick up jumping rope again easily enough. I would love to have a heavy bag or speed bag in the basement - maybe as a Christmas present?

And then I stretch a bit, go upstairs and get myself and the kids ready for the day, and get my run in after dropping The Goo off at daycare.

I do plan to find someone I can work with on an intermittent basis, and eventually I'd like to find a gym I can work at regularly. I've looked into the Park District gyms and there are none near me that offer boxing but perhaps that will change. And next year I plan to attend the Chicago Golden Gloves tournament so that I can connect with the women's boxing community in Chicago - there is a Masters level at the Golden Gloves so there have to be other women my age out there doing this!

Life is good.

Contentedly,
Annie

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Running Updates

You may remember that I was just a wee bit worried about how I was going to continue my running as our commute got longer (moved further west) and also more complicated (kids in two different locations).

I'm very happy to report that it's been okay. I have primary commuting responsibility for the Goo, and he's still in the same location, so my runs into work haven't been impacted at all. Those days when I want to run home first I have to be more mindful of time - a lot more mindful, as it takes longer to get him there in the first place, and longer to get myself to work once I'm back home. So those runs have been made shorter, or sometimes scheduled for my lunch break instead. That's fine for now, as I'm currently training for a 15K and don't need to put in a lot of mileage. Once I start training for my next half I'll probably start run commuting into work twice a week (right now I just do once a week, for my long run). But I've done that before, and enjoyed it, so I'll be fine with doing that again.

(One unexpected benefit from running during the workday is that I've started heading north, into Lincoln Park, and exploring that area more. Which includes the amazing boardwalk at Lincoln Park Zoo! So that's been a real treat.)

All this needing to be super mindful of how I spend my time has led me to decide that I am not going to run a marathon in 2015 either. I want to wait until I can really train properly for it, which will involve getting weekday runs in before the kids need me in the morning (so Goo needs to get a bit older) and also doing my long long runs on the weekends instead of on the way to work (I've learned I can manage up to 14 miles as my commute but more than that takes too much time and too much effort from my workday). So here's to 2016!

And here's to keeping my runs in! Next week I'll update about the whole boxing business.

Gratefully,
Annie

Friday, October 10, 2014

Back Again

Let's see, what have I been up to in the last SIX weeks?

Ran a half marathon. Yes, I owe a race report. Looking back at the year, I owe several. They will all get done, I promise.

Got my oldest started in kindergarten. He loves it. We love it too, but not the new double commute (one kid at school and one kid at daycare, in nearly opposite directions). Hunting for EASY and FAST dinner recipes these days because bedtime has gotten ridiculously late these days (and then the Goo gets horribly cranky to boot).

No need to recommend slow-cooker recipes to us as we would just have to prep them the night before, and that, my friends, ain't happening. 

Daycare issues have pretty much gotten worked out. New interim director, new slate of teachers in the toddler room (good ones, too). Thank God, because we really didn't want to pull the Goo. And just in time, because the Goo has morphed into a full-out MONSTER, what with all the changes going on (and just being almost three years old and all). And he's a SMART monster, which makes it extra challenging. Thankfully when he's not being monstrous he's wickedly cute and funny and charming and helpful. Right up until he's a monster again. We need his teachers to be good excellent more than ever these days.

We closed on our house right after school started and moved in at the end of September. LOVE IT. Until we can't find the salt / cold medicine / fall pants / you name it that is somewhere in this space. Or haven't left enough time (again) for the morning commute. Or want to, say, actually work at a desk instead of out of a backpack. Our bedroom needed to be painted and we couldn't get it done before moving in (a sick Goo took all my scheduled painting days off for himself). So that's had a cascading effect - those boxes are in one room, which means the stuff for that room is in another room, and so on. But I got the bedroom painted this week so this weekend we should be able to start moving boxes back into the right rooms, and maybe even unpacking some of them. Though we also need a fair bit of storage containers / shelving since we are missing storage space on the first floor and in the bathrooms. Plenty in the bedrooms and basement, but we can't always be heading back into the basement to get towels or toothpaste.

But life is good here and we are blessed.

Thankfully,
Annie


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Getting Ready

I'm running the Chicago Women's Half Marathon tomorrow, and, as has been the case with a number of races lately, the last couple of weeks I've been of two minds about running it, and even toyed with the idea of skipping it. Thankfully I seem to have found my enthusiasm again, and have been getting ready:
  • Organizing my playlist
  • Deciding to start with a pace team
  • Mapping out my transportation schedule
  • Prepping my breakfast today (since I'll have to leave pretty early in the a.m.)
  • Thinking through my hydration/nutrition strategy
  • Figuring out my racing kit
  • Setting my goals
No joke, it's going to be hot and humid, even more so than the two I ran last year when I was preparing for the marathon (and therefore had more of an endurance base than this year). So I'm not looking to PR tomorrow. If I'd been able to stick to my training plan over the last three months I would have had a chance of that but that just wasn't in the cards for this summer. I have my eye on a January half so maybe then... But I do think I can run close to what I did last year, maybe in between the two times.

And what I'd really like is to have an experience that combines the best of last year's half marathons - to run it the way I did my second half (strong and smart), but have the event experience of the first (fun and well organized and with good energy).

It's going to be so hot I'm tempted to wear the race shirt that we got (a light grey singlet), but I don't know how that will go with my race vest. Guess I'll go try them out together! My only other sleeveless tech shirt is black and a little heavy, I usually save it for the gym when I want to feel tough. Or maybe I'll just wear one of my marathon shirts, those are the most lightweight ones I have. Though I don't like to wear shirts from longer races at a shorter race, that just seems rude somehow, as if I were bragging. Silly, I know. In the end I'll probably wear one of those since I'm hesitant to race in a shirt I haven't run in before, especially one that's a different cut than I'm used to.

I pointed out to The Dude that he was treating this race as if it were just any other long run (he'd been asking if I were going to be back in time for church, and if not that, then in time to go to family swim - that is, going about the rest of the day as if it were any other Sunday). His response?

"Aren't you the one who just ran a marathon on your own and then went into work, without telling anyone about it?" (My birthday challenge.)

Me: "Well, I took the rest of the day off, I didn't go into work."

Him: "But you didn't tell anyone you were planning to do this, and you barely told anyone afterwards, right?

Me: "Well, yeah."

Him: "Hmm. I think you reap what you sow."

I have since negotiated a somewhat reduced post-race schedule, though, plus going out for dinner. I think perhaps I just needed to take this more seriously.

Now to try out outfits and finish up my playlist. I'll cook my oatmeal later today, when it's not so hot.

See you on the other side!

Excitedly,
Annie

Monday, August 18, 2014

On the Track Again

Have I mentioned that everything will be changing soon? Buying a house, changing neighborhoods, our oldest in school? (Have I mentioned that all this is causing me great stress?) And with that all my own personal routines will have to be reinvented as well. Such as, oh, I don't know, WHEN I RUN?!?!?

Gah.

Today I was presented with a foretaste of all that. I needed to enroll Buddy in kindergarten, and the school has limited office hours during the summer. I couldn't take a half day for this due to my work schedule this week, but then that meant I couldn't figure out a way to go running. I meant to go to the gym yesterday and just couldn't get it in - but if I didn't do something today it would be three days of no activity, and that means a seriously unhappy mama.

So what to do? Why, turn to an old solution, one I relied on when Buddy was first born and I was bringing him downtown for daycare. Head out during my lunch hour and run on the track at the park a half mile from work.

What with this, that, and the other at work I didn't get out until mid-afternoon - not ideal for me any day, and not ideal today with the weather (hot and sunny). But I loved it. I'd forgotten how much I enjoy track workouts, and running on this track in particular, how the temperatures and winds and smells change as you go around, in the sun and then next to gardens and then nearer the lake. And how much better a speed workout is on the track than on the treadmill any day. I've had kind of a crummy week thinking about my future with running and with boxing and with any kind of athletics (and I'm having a weird foot pain thing going on so that doesn't help), but getting out on the track today just restored my spirits tremendously. (Made me hungry for more speedwork too.)

And made me very grateful for a renewed sense of possibilities. The changes that are happening in our family life are good ones, great ones, and I know this and am excited for them, but it is also, oh, very hard in the transition time (and in anticipating the transition time). So I will take any small hope I can.

Anything challenging your sense of equilibrium right now? My word of the week has been "unmoored".

Cast adrift and out to sea,
Annie






Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Running Update

I'm three and a half weeks out from my half marathon, and my training has been completely haphazard. I've been running long, yes, and I've been throwing in surges and even longer lengths at speed on some of my commuting runs, but I haven't been keeping to any kind of serious schedule or training plan. Earlier this week I decided on the spur of the moment to make my run a tempo run - so four miles at a significantly brisk pace - and was feeling pretty good about it until I compared it against the tempo runs that in theory I would be doing, if I had actually been keeping to the training plan I started with two months ago.

Yeah, that's not what I ran that day.

I do still feel good about that run. And it's not too late to get a bit more focused on what I'm doing between now and the half and to make my runs have a bit more purpose to them. While the goal set out in my training plan is not achievable now, for sure, I have to say that I always thought it was kind of over-ambitious (a sub-2:00 half). I've been finding with time that I just do not have the motivation to run long AND fast. My 5k times, when plugged into the various racing calculators, keep predicting faster half marathons and marathons than I have been able to do, and I've realized this year it's because I just don't care enough to put in the kind of work I need to do to make those times happen. Or, more accurately I think, there are just too many other things I want to do, to have the kind of focus I would need. Things like boxing, for example. Or Scary Movie Month (coming up!). Or spending time on the weekend with my kids.

So I have a new goal for my half at the end of the month, and have mapped out my remaining training accordingly. And I have a 10k on the calendar for November and I will train seriously for that. And I think next year I'll run a couple of halves for fun, and a couple of shorter distances for speed, and sprinkle in some other ones just for a heck of it.

And maybe see if I can still convince The Dude to let me do this one this year still (oh I want to do this so badly).

In focus,
Annie