How did I get here?

A year ago I found myself in tears frequently and in many inappropriate places: a bar, my part time job, on the metro. Reality would hit and I realized how few days and moments were left of my life in DC. The last time I was going to go to Happy Hour at a certain bar. The last time I would hang out with friends. I was unhappy about everything. I didn’t want to be moving to Wisconsin. I didn’t have a job lined up. I was moving back in with my parents, which was not something I ever imagined doing. I spent the end of 2010 in tears. I spent the beginning of 2011 in tears. I said goodbye to people that I consider some of my best friends. I moved into the unknown. I was starting over at 25 years old. This was not in my life plan. This was not something I fathomed.

It is almost the end of 2011 and I don’t know where the year went. I started a new job. I got a new apartment. I adopted a kitty. I met amazing people. I visited DC. I rediscovered my love for running, which was a much harder journey than I imagined. I visited my brother in France. I went to Oregon to visit my best friend. I went back to DC for my other best friend’s birthday. I went to Badger games. I went to Packer games. I spent time with my parents. I reconnected with friends in Milwaukee. I became a Half Fanatic. I ran from Madison to Chicago with total strangers and had a blast. I get to end the year with at the Rose Bowl with my best friend/college roommate. Something we have talked about since we met in the dorms as freshman. I raced with new running friends.

I am not afraid of 2012. I am ending 2011 on a high note. I am bursting into the new year with all kinds of fun plans. I will be going back to DC, but this time introducing my new running friends to my DC friends. I am running Ragnar Chicago again with all the wisdom we gained last year. So 2012, I welcome you with open arms. I am ready to take on whatever you throw at me.

Running, Crashing and Christmas

First off can I just say how much I love 4 day weekends. It was totally fantastic. I started my long weekend by running out the door at 3:01 on Thursday. I had no intentions of working later than I had to and if they were giving us 2 free hours I was certainly going to take them.

Friday morning was nice and leisurely as I wasn’t meeting people until 10:00am and Lapham Peak is 10 minutes from my parents’ house. Yay for lazy mornings. Just because my body hates me and I woke up at 7:05 does not mean I got out of bed. Stella and I snuggled. Silly cat seems to think that my days off meant I would sit around and pet her all day. I had 14 miles to run. I really didn’t think it was that cold, but it took a few miles for my hands to warm up. Once we got going it was quite nice out.

Now to the crashing part. A rock tried to kill me. Yes, I am serious. One minute I was running, the next I was sprawled out on the path. By some random luck I did not hit any additional rocks when I landed. My knees are pretty bruised. Several days later they are turning pretty colors. Thankfully I did not hurt anything badly. Just bumps and bruises.

After 14 miles on the trails we went our for our well deserved pizza. This is why we run, right?

Now my family doesn’t have a lot of specific holiday traditions. My dad has worked every other Christmas my entire life. When we were little we wrote notes to Santa. As we got older  we just became more flexible. If dad works the day shift Christmas is after 3. If he works PMs Christmas is before 3. I am so used to this I almost don’t understand when people think it is strange.

Starting a few years ago our neighbors invited us to join their Christmas Eve dinner with their extended family. This is always a good time. We have known this family for a really long time. Lots of good food, lots of wine, and fun times.

On Christmas morning we have those same neighbors, as well as some other friends over for homemade donuts and mimosas. These aren’t just any donuts, they are my great-grandma’s recipe. Fried and covered with powdered sugar. So tasty.

I snuck in a nice 5 mile run around one of the lakes by my parents’ house and then it was time to get ready to head to Green Bay.

Christmas with Mom, Dad and the Packers

We had awesome seats and were right by the end zone for 3/5 touchdowns. Aaron Rodgers awesome 55 yard TD pass to Jordy Nelson was caught right in front of us!

Traditions that are important: We spent time together. Levi may not have been home this year, but we got to chat with him for an hour on Christmas Eve. Of course I missed my brother, but he is working in another country and I didn’t cry when we talked to him!

I am ready for the new year, but that is a whole other post.

I hope everyone enjoyed their long weekends.

Learning to not hate the Treadmill

I have written many tirades against this evil machine. Turns out it is not completely evil. I mostly use it when the weather is unbearable: 90+ degrees and humid, sub zero temps, ridiculous winds, etc. I view it as a last resort.

I really haven’t tried to like this machine. I have run on it while cursing it. I have lost fights with it (cut workouts short) many times. I have chosen to not run.

Sometime earlier this year I did one of my speed workouts on the treadmill due to 50mph winds and rain. Turns out a controlled climate makes speed workouts much easier. (And yes, I had heard lots of people say this before. I just ignored them and assumed they were treadmill loving individuals). I realize there is a reason to use these machines.

I was wrong. I admit it. The treadmill is not out to kill me. It is not completely evil.

Speed workouts are a great way to make it so you are not concentrating solely on the fact that you have X number of miles left. It gives you something else to think about. Not only that, but it gives allows me to control my workout. I am forced to go faster than I would outside. I can keep my pace much more steady. And I’m actually getting my speed workouts done at paces that I am supposed to be hitting. I can be speedy. Yay!

I still don’t like the treadmill, but I no longer hate it.

Winter Running Wonderland

Snow. I love it. This is no secret. I prefer snow running to summer running. People tried to call me out last summer when it was 80 bazillion degrees and humid when I said I prefer snow running. Well, now there is snow and I still love it.

Sara and I had plans to run Saturday morning. Nothing unusual. Until I opened twitter and it was full of excited over snow and running. It was like we were all little kids seeing snow for the first time. It even felt that way. We live in Wisconsin. It is mid December. There is supposed to be snow. I slowly peaked out of my shades and saw that there really was snow. I bounded, and by bounded, I mean scurried over the cat who wouldn’t move to get out of bed. I had set out an outfit the night before, but became very indecisive about layers. It was 24, sunny and snowing! What an amazing morning.

Once ready I went and sat in the doorway of my building just watching the snow. So pretty. As I got into Sara’s car we were both still giddy with excitement over getting to run in the snow. When we got to the park there was one other car and only two sets of tracks on the path. It was just an amazingly beautiful morning to be out running. We ran south by Lake Michigan and as the sun came out once the snow stopped it was even more beautiful. We had to slow our pace so as to not slide and injure ourselves, but it didn’t matter. I wish I had lots more pictures from the run, but well then, I wouldn’t have gotten such a good run in.

I love snow running. And to do an unofficial half in the snow was a perfect Saturday morning. We rewarded ourselves with eggnog lattes, which was a brilliant idea. Once again, thank you to Sara for a great run. I’m looking forward to surviving winter in Wisconsin together.

Three Things Thursday

1. I haven’t done my speed work in quite some time. Oops. Tonight I did. I have a feeling I will soon hurt. But it did feel good to really push myself again. I’m trying really hard to get back into 4 solid runs a week.

2. I am super excited for this weekend. It’s gingerbread house decorating! This is a tradition my mom started with us 20 years ago or something like that. When we were little my brother and I did one together, then as we got older we got to do our own. I think we have missed maybe one of the last twenty years. Last year Levi and I did one together again. I love this activity. This year Levi won’t be here, but dad said he wants to help.

3. I am done Christmas shopping. I do not enjoy this task. I don’t like the mall in general and this time a year it’s insane. I did do a lot of my shopping online, but made more trips to Mayfair than I wanted (one was for a return), but I survived it and I’m done. I’m also quite happy with the gifts I found for my parents.

Why am I afraid of the Dark?

The cold doesn’t bother me. You just put more layers on. People may think I’m crazy, but I run outside until it’s close to zero degrees. I have tights that have a wind layer. I have mittens that are too warm until it is under 20 degrees and even then if it’s a long run I switch to my lighter gloves 6 or so miles in. I have more cold weather running tops than I care to admit. I know how to layer. I have been doing it my whole life. It’s no different than staying warm while out snowboarding all day. The cold, not a problem.

The no daylight. This is a problem. I seemed to have developed a fear of running in the dark. I have no idea where this game from. I have been running in the dark for years. My fear isn’t there when I run with Sara or a group. It is there when I am supposed to run alone. Monday night I was planning on running outside after work. It was 43 degrees so I figured even after the sun went down it wouldn’t be cold. Instead of changing into my running clothes at work and driving to the park I turned left and went to the gym. I HATE the treadmill. Why on earth did I choose running on the treadmill.

And then Tuesday morning I am able to get out of bed at 5:00am, put on my layers, and pound out our 5.5 mile run. I have Sara with me on that loop. I would never ever run that part of the trail in the dark by myself. Maybe it was the years living in a bigger city, maybe it is the years living in the country, who knows? But really, I need to not be afraid of the dark. I can’t run with Sara for every run. I ran by myself last winter. What happened? There was no bad experience that happened between last winter and now. I just became a wuss. I don’t run with headphones outside in general and would never ever do it at night. I started that years ago. I have a headlamp. I have a reflective vest.

Do you run outside in the dark? How do you make yourself feel comfortable? Any advice to help me get over my completely irrational fear? I can’t take a whole winter of running on the treadmill or sitting on my ass.

Help save me from myself.