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

Monday, July 21, 2014

Least Favorite Thing?

Making phone calls.

Especially business-y ones.

So my job for today?

Calling prospective attorneys to find one for our house purchase.

And I kinda need to complete this today because the clock has started ticking on the contract.

Bleah.

I cheated a bit, I emailed everyone on my list first with the spiel our realtor gave us to use. So far that's netted me one conversation and one "not taking on new clients at this time" return email. So that's good, that's two off my list of six.

I'll give it another hour and then start calling the rest directly.

Sigh.

Do you have a least favorite thing?

Anxiously,
Annie

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Grief

This is so overdue, it's embarrassing.

Let's see, in the last month we've gotten to spend time with my parents (visiting from out of town), gone to Ohio to visit The Dude's family, spent more time with my folks, and celebrated The Dude's birthday.

And while this has been going on, we've also been house-hunting (put down an offer today) and dealt with daycare drama of a truly disheartening nature (it looks like all may work out well, but it's been a really rough month of it).

So not much time for writing, and now I need to arrange an attorney and inspector and oh yes, start packing? Or at least start purging.

I will say I'm hugely grateful for the mild summer we've been having.

I'll try not to let so much time pass going forward...
Annie

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

If The Shoe Fits

You know you might be an athlete when...

On hearing about a friend losing a trainer/boyfriend your first comment is, "Wow, that's rough, good trainers are worth their weight in gold." (To be fair to myself, I didn't realize until afterwards that he was also her boyfriend.)

When fantasizing about playroom space in a possible new home you start thinking about exercise equipment and a dedicated workout space... when others in your household are thinking about musical instruments or building/dress-up materials.

You realize when reviewing your spending and schedule that all your spare funds and free time go towards your athletic pursuits.

Someone calls you one.

Lately I've gotten a number of compliments about my youthful appearance and about my organizational ability. While I certainly appreciate such comments, these are things that are just part of me, without any particular effort on my part. Just lucky, I know. But I have worked, I am working hard to become the athlete I always dreamed I could be... even when I couldn't admit to myself that's what I wanted.

So thank you.

Gratefully,
Annie

Friday, June 6, 2014

Out in the Open

I wrote after the recent holiday weekend how I had to change my plans for training that week around. Pretty much the story of all my serious athletic endeavor (excepting one period in my life I'll come back to later) has been like that, because it all has been after becoming a mom. And, you know, things happen. Your life is no longer your own.

Which, for me, is a very good thing. And in some very surprising ways.

So, after that intense holiday weekend I decided to take it easy on my Tuesday run, so that I would be more refreshed in the evening for my boxing class. Good thing, too, because it ended up being a private lesson. Talk about intense. And I got to ask my questions, one of which was what I should work on in practice between classes.

And then last Friday, I went to the back room of the gym, and I practiced.

And then I did it again yesterday.

I don't know if I can sufficiently convey to you the importance of this to me. The back room of our gym is an open space. There's a rowing machine and some bikes against one wall, a mirror the length of one wall, a cabinet with audio/visual equipment in one corner, and then one wall has an assortment of various gym equipment. Jump ropes, kettle bells, stability balls, slider pads, yoga mats, other stuff I haven't paid too much attention to. Mostly in the past I come in there to row and maybe to stretch a bit. Other people come in there to work on drills or fitness exercises, by themselves or with a personal trainer. So it's a place where people come to do private stuff (no classes) - but it's a wide open space, and the mirror means everyone can see everything that is going on.

So that's where I practiced. I started by rowing for 5 minutes, then jumped rope, then worked on my footwork, then on combinations. No bags there so I couldn't really hit, and I felt way too self conscious to really shadowbox. But I could work on technique, making sure I kept my head down and hands up, that I didn't cross my feet over each other, to lean in when I ducked and not too far when I slid. When I didn't know what to do or felt too stupid doing what I was, I jumped rope until I regained my composure and decided what to work on. I did this for twenty minutes and then rowed for another five.

And sure enough, people came in while I was practicing, and left, and new people came in. And they had their thoughts about what I was doing, or didn't (I always have thoughts about what I see people doing in there, though they're always good ones, I just like watching people and seeing what they're up to). And I didn't spontaneously combust.

Last Tuesday ended up being another private lesson for me, nice, but I can't make next week's (The Dude has a gig) so I'll be going in to the Sunday class instead. I'll know at least one person there but don't know what it will be like otherwise.

Oh, and my hand wraps came in, bright red. Trainer said it may take me a while to get used to them but they felt like part of me right away. Though I don't fully remember how to put them on and every guide I can find online has different instructions. So I'll just have to ask again. I do need to remember not to throw them in to the wash unless I want everything I own to be bright pink.

I've been reading The Boxer's Heart: A Woman Fighting by Kate Sekules, and it's really helpful on the philosophical question front, basically because she had the same ones I do. But the piece I've been really moved by is the documentary Shadow Boxers, which gives a brief overview of recent women's boxing and then profiles Lucia Rijker, a world champion and my new hero. She is an amazing fighter but also very articulate about the dangers of it and why she goes into the ring.

Oh, and all this makes me think about lots and lots of other stuff, and I've been looking into other gyms and classes since I can't afford to do this every month (which was another reason why it's important that I be able to work on my own)... though mostly my investigation has shown me that I was really lucky to stumble onto what I have, so I may end up sacrificing some other things (that trail race?) to keep going.

Now if only Mexican boxing would come on random late night TV again...

Infatuatedly yours,
Annie


Friday, May 30, 2014

And This Is Why I Don't Mind

So, those changes to my training schedule I mentioned? Continuing in the theme of surrender, I've found that to the extent that I can go with the flow, good things follow...

That trail hike we took on Sunday had two purposes (besides just being, you know, a hike). First was to practice getting out of the city and to try out a new book I picked up, 60 Hikes within 60 Miles Chicago.

The Dude and I have deliberated for years about whether to move out of the city, either to the suburbs (ack) or to a different part of the country altogether. The last time this came up for serious consideration we decided to be deliberate about planning a move... and started with our bucket list for Chicago. When we came back together a few days later to discuss our lists we realized they were so long there was no way we could ever accomplish all of them... so why were we thinking about moving? Aside from the obvious (affordable housing, a good school system) the main thing we miss about this city is easy access to hiking and camping. So Sunday's hike and this new book were the first steps in our new program of find (and get to) some good outdoors activities.

Oh, and the book was dead on in its descriptions of the trail and how to get there, etc., so now we're a lot more willing to try some other ones. Maybe even one recommended for kids...

Then the second sneaky purpose to this hike was to suss out the conditions of a race I want to do in October, on this trail (the Des Plaines River Trail). All signs were good and on Tuesday I went online to look at the schedule again. And found that what I thought might be my first 50k... was actually 50 miles.

Whoa.

Not ready for that.

Well, shoot.

And then I thought, no, this is a good thing. 'Cause I'll be taking on a couple of other challenges with this race - driving myself there being foremost among them. (Did I mention that my license expired and I have to go renew it? As in, retake the written and driving portions because so much time has passed between it expiring and now? And that's because I don't drive?!)

But our trip out there was an easy drive, and the trail conditions are as good as one could possibly get, and the start time for the marathon is late enough in the day that I can just drive out there, instead of having to go out the night before and stay in a hotel, etc. etc. So, all good things.

Speaking of good things, exploring the trail was only the first of many good things that happened "outside the box" over the last two weeks...