Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lots of Words and No Pictures, or 2014 Resolutions

I initially thought about preceding this post with one recapping 2013. Then I realized I don't have a generous stockpile of posts and pictures to make it interesting. (And whose fault is that? They should really get on it.)

I had some major fitness milestones this year - first half marathon, first race abroad, first triathlon, first relay, first marathon, and qualifying for the Marathon Maniacs. I also had some major life milestones - a full-time internship, accepting a full-time job offer I'm really excited about, and graduating from college. It's tempting to pretend to be deep and say it's hard to believe I'm the same person that was struggling to balance work with running 20 miles a week in January, but the reality is a year is a long time and I was going through a transitional period anyway.

I will say I'm very excited for 2014. Normally I hate people that section events and feelings hard-stop by year. For realz, if you start treating 2013 like a sentient being on Facebook tomorrow, I will probably unfriend you. Time does not actually care at which point you segment it. However, this new year is bringing me quite a few changes. Namely that I will be moving next week and starting my career in three, as well as supporting myself completely for the first time. While it's important to be able to start working towards goals other than at the beginning of the year, January 6th feels like a totally fresh start to me. I will be in a new town in a new apartment with just a soon-to-be-adopted cat and half of the Ikea catalog for company. I want to seize the chance to push myself towards some new goals. I thrive on routine, and I'm about to be able to create a whole new one.

I plan to check back in each month about my progress. 

Health
General Health
I have a few general health issues I would like to resolve, aka I've been putting them off for way too long.

1. Seasonal allergies. These are so bad I get about four sinus infections a year (one viral and one bacterial each spring and fall). Not only does this make me feel awful, I'm getting concerned about what permanent damage my sinuses could be suffering. Resolution: See an allergist and follow the recommended treatment plan.

2. Anemia. Every blood test I get confirms I'm anemic or borderline anemic. I sometimes wonder if my athletic performance would improve if I could get my iron levels higher in the normal range. However, I also tend to overdose on iron if I take a supplement full-time, so I need to find a balance. Resolution: Take a multivitamin with iron every other day. Follow up with a GP if problems persist.

3. IBS. I finally had my IBS symptoms well-managed, but they've changed, as is the magical way of IBS, and I'm still trying to determine the best course of action. (For the record, I've had Celiac's and Crohn's ruled out with blood work, so I know it's not something more serious.) Resolution: Try one new treatment per month until something works.

Diet

This is probably my murkiest category, and I'm ignoring a lot of the sage goal-setting advice, like be specific. Because mainly I want to clean my diet up, by which I mean actually cook and mindfully plan my meals and their timing. I think I've set myself up with the tools to succeed (a magnetic meal planner with room to add my workouts, an electric skillet, a crockpot, the Out of Milk app, and some healthy recipes). Other than a few very basic baking staples and 10,000 rice packets, my pantry is empty. I'm excited to stock in with everything I need to make healthy meals, while hopefully staying on my budget.

I had some blood work done recently, and the only real problem I had was high triglycerides, which I know I can reverse with a little work, considering I was in the middle of buttering three biscuits as a snack while I read my results. However, everything else was good, and my HDL was even high enough to be considered a negative risk factor for heart disease. Work won't require me to get another physical for a few years, but I'd like to go in next December to be able to compare my numbers anyway. I'm also hoping cleaning everything up while improve my running. (If not, I'll probably lay on the floor and dunk Oreos in a combination of milk and my own tears.)

The overall hope here is to eat nothing but homemade food for meals and snacks. I'll try some more specific resolutions to meet that broader goal:

Resolution: Set aside time each week to plan my meals, grocery shop, and do the bulk of my cooking.
Resolution: Plan to eat protein after my workouts.
Resolution: Plan to eat three fruits and two vegetables a day.

Swimming
I'm growing to love swimming more and more, especially as I'm starting to see some improvement. I'm still colossally slow, but I have dropped 10 seconds off my 100 yard time since July. Feel free to golf clap. I find swimming is a good time to do complex thinking; for some reason I think in full sentences when I swim, unlike choppy blocks like when I run.

Even though it doesn't seem like a triathlon is in the cards for me this year (out of choice), I want to keep up my progress, since I have a semi-secret idea of doing the half-iron distance at Ironman Steelhead in 2015.

Resolution: Swim at least once a week, unless I'm tapering.
Resolution: Compete in at least one open-water swim. 

Lifting
I've blogged about it before, but I really love lifting weights. I wish I had figured out sooner that it was cool to lift to build muscle. Knock on wood, but I haven't had any injuries since I've started going to the gym.

Resolution (Part One): Complete the New Rules of Lifting for Women program.
Resolution (Part Two): Develop a long-term lifting plan after finishing NROLFW.

Recovery
The only other area Goofus neglects more than diet is recovery. Other than wearing my compression socks around, I don't do very much. I've been taking my holiday hiatus to mentally rest from running and do recovery activities, and it feels great. I tried foam-rolling for the first time, and it changed my life almost as much as my socks.

Resolution: Foam roll on my running days.
Resolution: Do at least an hour of yoga a week.

Running
I sat here and racked my brain for 20 minutes (which I know because it was half-time in a football game), and I honestly couldn't think of any specific resolutions. I want to complete the six marathons I have planned for the year (Crossroads of Northwest Indiana, Fargo, Hatfield-McCoy, Paavo Nurmi, Monument, and Stone Bridge), but to me that's more of a done deal that would only be derailed by catastrophe. I'll talk about my training in a different post, but I also have no specific PR plans. As long as I'm a runner a year from now, I'll be a happy camper.

Giving Back
I volunteered all through college, and I don't want to give it up once I start working. There's a couple 
different ways I want to give back to my community.

1. Volunteer at races. I've only volunteered once, but I know I should do it more. Resolution: Volunteer at a race once a month. 

2. Volunteer at blood drives. I've donated blood twice, but both times I could not pass go and instead cuddled with an ice pack on the recovery cot. I'd love to give, especially since there's no medical reason I can't, but my body can't handle it for whatever reason. Resolution: Volunteer at a blood drive every two months.

3. Find other ways to give back. I don't want these to be the only ways I volunteer my time. Resolution: Find a unique volunteer opportunity each quarter.

Personal
I'm not quite interesting enough to put these into separate categories, so I won't.

1. Blog more! I have to admit I can be lazy about blogging because I worry that my writing isn't perfect (obviously it isn't, so I don't know why I angst) and that I haven't developed my own voice yet (which can't happen unless I practice).
Resolution One: Put up race and travel recaps within one week of the event.
Resolution Two: Write two non-recap posts a month.

2. Explore! I tend to turn myself into a homebody, though I always wish I made myself get out and do more things. I have no problem doing things alone, so nothing's holding me back but myself. Resolution: Find one local event a month to attend.

3. Read more. I can fall off the reading bandwagon easily, even though I love it. Now that I'm done with school and can essentially read solely for pleasure, I want to dive back into it. Resolution: Read one book a month.

4. Make new friends. As a major introvert, moving to an area where I don't know anyone is definitely frightening. When I make a new close friend, it's super exciting, but the social events leading up to forming a bond that allows for one-on-one interaction can be extremely draining for me. Luckily, I'm an expert at recovering by watching Netflix. Resolution: Attend one social event per month.

5. Do some creative projects. I'll be very liberal with creative here, since I'm the least artistic person ever. However, I do okay in some aspects, like when I have directions to follow. I have some puzzles and knitting needles calling my name. Resolution: Set aside an hour each week to work on a fun project.

Career
I saved career for last, since I really don't know what work is going to look like for me. Based on what I know, personal performance is well-rewarded, and I'll have strong ownership of my work, which is why I'm so excited to work at my company. I don't know how to set any specific resolutions, but I would like to determine what goals are used to assess my performance percentage for my year-end bonus and create an action plan to meet them. 

I've also been told it will take about six months to feel comfortable at my desk, so I want to remind myself of this fact and accept the transition period for what it is.


While this post was overwhelming and more than a little draining to write, it's made me really excited to start the next chapter of my life. College was great, but I'm definitely ready to move on. Now I'm off to be a good accountant and convert my goals into an Excel workbook. Is there any other way?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wicked Halloween 10K Recap

A month and a half after this race, I've finally gotten off my lazy butt come to terms with it enough to write about it. I guess you could say this race report is wicked late.
Red and White are Canadian colors. Text is made to look like the flag.
The Wicked Halloween 10K was the last in a three part series. (I ran the ShamRock n Roll 10K and Kona 10K before I started blogging.) I learned about it when I ran the Wicked Halloween 10K in 2012. That was only my second 10K, and I thought the distance was pretty fun. Then I found out you could just run longer and slower instead. Running three 10Ks spaced throughout the year seemed like a fun way to test my fitness. The special medal for completing the series didn't hurt either. Only, there were two major problems:

1. The series uses two different courses: the ShamRock n Roll and Wicked Halloween races share a course in downtown Plymouth that is mostly flat but uses approximately 500 turns, while the Kona race is extremely hilly (for southeastern Michigan). Therefore, times from all three can't easily be compared.

2. I had run two marathons in the weeks preceding the Wicked Halloween 10K.

The result of my final 10K "fitness test": my legs were tired.
http://www.quickmeme.com/img/ac/ac473c31418ef03a75086e3c00d029d9feb421cdc9c9d5922b343613f9ec12af.jpg
Carrying people during races sounds like a good business opportunity to me.
Michael ran this with me, and we hid in the car until the last minute. We were extremely tired, and it was extremely cold outside. I was sad we missed the dance company that puts on a Thriller routine before the race start, but I had seen it last year, and I hate being cold with a passion. So mad props to those kids dancing in just their leotards.

This was my third time on the course, so it was frankly pretty boring. It has a small downtown section, but most of it is through the neighboring subdivisions. This is really too bad, downtown Plymouth is very nice and relatively large. It would be nice if they could expand this section. (The place I worked in high school put on a race in downtown Plymouth, and the permits were insanely expensive, so I assume this would be too cost prohibitive.)

The one thing I really don't like is all the turns. There's way too many to remember, and the course is crowded enough that it can be really hard to run the tangents, not that I'm particularly good at that anyways. The ending is also strange and was awkward my first time on the course: runners don't come out of the subdivisions until .2 from the finish, so it can be hard to pace the final mile. I was more prepared this time, but it's hard to start a finishing kick (read: try not to slow down even more) when the finish line isn't in sight.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-snpwkL4QPo8/TwdCr5AMPkI/AAAAAAAAAJQ/tR3F6OnJR6k/s1600/wheres-waldo1.jpg
I don't understand it, but it seems relevant.
I do enjoy the holiday theme of the race. True fact, I'm a sucker for holiday-themed races. Besides the dance we missed, they had kids in costumes at a few cheering stations in costume. They were older (maybe young high schoolers) and really into it. 

I felt awful for this mom in the first half-mile of the race. She was running with her daughter (maybe mid-20's) and suddenly pulled up lame. She was grabbing her leg and slowed to a hobble. Once she got her daughter's attention, all her daughter did was tell her to suck it up and keep running. I'm no doctor, but this didn't seem like a medically safe decision.
Mom, just...why do you have to suck so much?
It was also at this time eating a Luna bar 15 minutes before I started turned into a bad idea. My stomach was not a happy camper at all. After some initial panic, I remembered there were port-a-potties a little before the halfway point. I always scoffed at needing them. Who has to stop during a 10K? Suriously. However, when I got there:

There were no port-a-potties.

I almost cried. There's probably an important lesson in there about judging people less.

As I have IBS (overshare whoo!), I managed to persevere for quite some time from habit, but sometime during mile five I finally had to slow down due to the awful discomfort. I spent the extra time formulating all the ways I could kill people if there was a line at the bathrooms at the finish.

At least I was able to distract myself by laughing at the beer aid station someone had set up. He seemed really disheartened no one was stopping, so I hope the slower runners and walkers paid him a visit.

Time: 56:41

I was very pleased with my time, considering my fatigued legs and GI issues. I was only 31 seconds slower than my PR, which bummed me out. I think if I hadn't had to slow near the end, I could've matched or slighted bested my PR.

If I had gotten the fairy wings memo, we would've be complete twinsies.

After I finally took care of my stomach, we got in line to get my Triple Crown Medal. This line wrapped all the way around the park, although it did move reasonably quickly, and everyone seemed pretty patient. I really appreciated that the volunteers took the time to say congratulations and put the medals around our necks, instead of just giving them to us as quickly as possible.

Theoretically there is a photo with me and my medal, but the link just takes me to photographer's less than stellar website.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-igtFomR__AE/UR-57SlDW1I/AAAAAAAAJ6E/9iQQGPPCX08/s1600/MDC300C-kona-tri-crown-13-VER5.jpg%5B1%5D.jpg
So here's one I stole. I really like the icon from each individual race at the top.
Unless I become an elite runner and get comped entries (2014 is going to be my year!), I don't think I'll do any of these races again. They're pretty pricey, and the courses aren't anything special. The organization does a really good job, I certainly don't want to make them sound awful, I just didn't always feel I was getting my $45's worth. puke

Better go plan which marathons I want to spend $100 on this year instead.