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Archive for June, 2009

It was 5:15am, slowly it was time to get out of bed.  My ride to the race was coming to pick me up at 6am. I grabbed a mini-bagel with peanut butter and my homemade jam a teeny bit of coffee and got dressed. I didn’t really know what to wear as it was pretty cloudy — with one horrible dark grey cloud over my neighborhood. I ended up no bringing anything warm but did wear my long running tights and a short sleeved shirt (not the race shirt itself, I never wear that until after the race). At the start it was perfect, I was chilly but not completely uncomfortable. We got to the start line around 6:30 (after waiting in stupid traffic) and I spent ages waiting in the portapotty line up. I don’t know if it was just slow, there were fewer available, or that being located farther away from the center of campus meant that fewer people could find bathrooms to use. But it worked out, I did my thing and got to my meeting point on time.

What on earth was I doing so early this morning? The Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon.  It’s a beautiful race, it starts up at UBC and takes us around campus a bit, down Marine Drive, along the beach, 4th Avenue, Point Grey Road, Past Kits Beach, Over the Burrard Street Bridge and ending up in Stanley Park:

Some call it the most scenic Vancouver Half Marathon. I’d agree with that! It’s a great race course, and I particularly love it because it’s part of my usual running neighborhood. They changed the course slightly so that we don’t loop as long on 16th as in the past — and we get more time at UBC before we head down the hill. I think this is a great change!

I run this race every year. This year, we started off nice and steady, I felt strong throughout the race — other than my foot bugging me near the end (I’ve had a nagging injury), I don’t think I pushed it as much as I could have going down marine drive but we had a rule — hills either up or down we keep running. As it turns out we only skipped one walk break, the rest of the hills were timed pretty well. I’d brought enough hydration for myself, and only got water once to dump on my head. By about 10k I began to regret wearing what I wore because it became a GORGEOUS day!  I was definitely wearing too much, but I wore the wrong bra — so I had on a standard sports bra rather than the more stylish kind that can be worn alone. Had I chosen the correct bra, I would have stripped down to it for the last part of the race.

At roughly 15k my running partner started to fade. She’d told me at the start of the run that her hip was bugging her and that if she decided to stop and walk a bit more that I should go on ahead.  So I did. I tried to keep up my pace, and I haven’t checked my garmin data yet, but I felt strong. I kept going but at around 18k my nagging big toe joint injury (dance related, I believe) I knew it was okay enough to keep going so I tried to push through it. 18k is roughly at the start of the burrard street bridge, and was exactly where I was standing for the Vancouver Marathon not that long ago. It meant the world. It was exactly that moment when my energy was flagging and I was digging deep to make it up that last hill.  They made me smile as they jumped and screamed for me!

I made it to the end feeling strong and happy with how I’d done.  I knew I was no where near my course PB but given the foot thing, the winter’s dislocated ribs and the 1000 other insane things that have gone on I was in a great position. My long term goal of breaking 2 hours is still far off.  But the coolest thing is this is the first time I’ve heard my name announced as I crossed the finish line! It made me find that teeny bit more.

You know, really, I have only one criticism of this race: the race fair. I love the fairs, generally it’s a chance to see what other races are out there, see different businesses in the running community. Sometimes organic or natural fuel (gels, drinks etc) are there — given my new no dairy thing I’m looking to change my fuel. But this time there were a couple of booths that are always there. I was pretty disappointed, because as much as I love Sporty Jewels, I wasn’t going to be buying anything this year. There was nothing there worth visiting.

But all in all it was a great race. After the race, I spent time with my running peeps comparing our days, and then we all went home to shower and change before our traditional post-race brunch. I spent the rest of the afternoon pampering myself and relaxing.

So today was a great day, even though my 2008 race will still stand as my course PB.

So what’s next?

  • Bootcamp — we’re doing another session of bootcamp. I’m hoping that I can get to that next level of fitness, break through a fitness blockade I think I have up and build more strength. This will mean being very diligent with my nutrition, and lots of careful planning — both for meals and for fitting in my workouts.  It’s going to be hectic, but I hope I will achieve my goals.
  • Marathon — I’m going to start training for my Second Full Marathon. The plan is do to the Portland Marathon on October 4th, 2009. It’s a bit of a challenge to me to train for this marathon, given summer and holidays and travel plans. But it’s important to me to be strong and healthy when the bend in the road happens. So, October is early, so it’s my first post-bend goal.  More about fitness goals later.
  • Yoga — I need to do more yoga. After bootcamp’s done I’m going to use yoga to complement my running.
  • Planning ahead — I need to spend some time planning my workout schedule from now until the end of the year. It’s going to vary month to month depending on schedules but, as a friend pointed out, I owe it to myself to make my health and fitness a priority. So I will sit down and have consistent goals. I may plan to run the half marathon in Seattle late November. But, that’s to be considered and planned.

For the next few days though I’m going to be taking it easy, hot yoga tomorrow, easy jog Tuesday (if I have the energy to wake up early in the morning), long slow run Wednesday morning (if my legs feel okay). Then it will be hours and hours of dancing in Austin, Texas! For now though it’s time to sleep and rest well from today’s race as I dream about the future and think about my future plans — in all areas of my life.

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A to do list…

I’ve been talking a lot about organizing and planning, and I suppose I’ve hit the 10 week countdown to the bend in the road. These next 10 weeks are weeks that I want to enjoy. Austin next weekend will be fantastic, traveling to visit friends later this summer will also be great.  But right at the moment, I’m thinking about what I want to do before the bend in the road arrives. So what’s my to do list?

  • Sort Kitchen Cupboards — I want to remove my shelving unit so that I can buy a portable combo washer/dryer (see this post for the math behind this plan) but before I can consider if the W/D is possible I need to have the space to put it, so this means things that I have stored on my shelving unit either need to be tossed or stored.
  • Entry Hall Closet — this is reasonable, but I need to go through it again as there are things that I think can be tossed. I went through it a few months ago, but I think there’s more that can be tossed. Perhaps some kitchen things could be stored.
  • Linen Closet — this is chaos. I need to go through it, get rid of old sheets, figure out what new linens I need (if any, it’s been FOREVER since I’ve had  new sheets).
  • Cleaning Closet — I got my grandmother’s almost new vacuum cleaner recently but need to clean it out and make sure I have all the needed attachments. I do still have my old (IE 35 years old) vacuum cleaner but I need to get rid of it.
  • Clothes Closet — Enough said. I need to go through my closet, it’s time to go though it and toss toss toss.
  • Bookcases — overflowing and there are boxes of books. I think I need to get rid of many of them, and streamline.  Some can be stored for the future, many can be donated.
  • Storage Locker — Oh the scary scary place. I need to go through that. It’s got all my aquarium stuff, old books (childhood even), boxes stored. It so needs to be sorted and most of it should be tossed.
  • Bathroom sink — under my bathroom sink I’ve fairly regularly organized it so it’s not that bad, it just needs to be tidied.  I should go through it though along with the hall closet.
  • Under my bed — it’s a storage area for me but it shouldn’t be, so I need to go through the things under it.

This is a fluid list but as I go I’ll be crossing things off this list. Slowly I hope to get it all done… Along with training for the marathon. Oy.

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    The countdown is on. One week until I go to Texas. I am realizing just how much I need a vacation! This week has been nuts. I woke up and the only thing I wanted to do was crawl back into bed. I didn’t want to deal with the crap waiting for me at work.  Thankfully I have friends to whom I can rant to about what’s gone on. It does give me pause though as I look towards the bend in the road. I’m going to keep my options open, of course, but for now I’m going to think and consider my options.

    Today I made a bit of headway into my paperwork, part of not being organized can mean that a person forgets to pay bills on time. I try not to do this and have calendar alarms set to ring so that I pay them on time. But sometimes, the opposite happens — like my cable bill — I paid it twice last month so I have a credit on my account for this month. I still have a pile of receipts to sort and shred but that will work for tomorrow. Tonight I did little else, other than that. I needed to decompress. I’m so glad this weekend is almost here. 8 hours of work until this weekend. 24 hours of work until I get a vacation. This time next week I’ll be dancing in Austin Texas! I cannot wait!  Thank god!

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    I’m thinking a lot about what’s next. It’s the end of June and things are going to be changing very soon.  I know this. It doesn’t mean I’m stressing any less about finances. In fact, it’s probably why, yesterday, I was stressing about the work-related stuff. Okay, to be honest, I would have been stressed anyhow. But, I’m thinking a lot about the next few months. I really wish I could be open about it here, but for privacy reasons (since this blog is find-able), I can’t yet. Soon, though, I’ll explain it all.

    But, yes, I was stressing about work, salaries, my “worth” and where my career is going and how I’m going to get there.  I’m still frustrated about that, to be honest. But, I can’t focus on that, all I can do is look forward towards what’s next. I realize that I’m working through paying off debts as much as I can before my life’s path turns the corner. But, I wont be debt free by then.  I realize this, and the truth is I’m just going to have to suck it up, get over the hang up of ‘never being in debt’ and move forward with the plan. Challenges and lean times in the near future will ultimately lead to growth towards my Perfect Day (yes, I’ll be vulnerable and I unlocked the post for people to read… 😛 ).  And I need to practice being financially as frugal as possible.

    How are you streamlining your finances, whether due to budget constraints, the recession, job cuts, school, long term goals or just to be responsible?

    Here’s what I’m trying to do:

    1. No buying coffee out on my way to work. This is TOUGH as I’m a coffee addict. But I make it most mornings, and if I don’t then I suffer with my office’s coffee (sometimes it’s fine, sometimes it’s nasty).  Coffee is bought out for social reasons — after my Saturday run (it’s tradition and I cherish it) when we do our post run coffee/breakfast at The Granville Island Market, or with friends on other nights during the week.

    2. I’m bringing my lunch, my goal is to bring it every day this week. Last week I bought lunch once in the week. This week my goal is to not eat out at all for lunch.

    3. Expanding on the eating out subject, I know I eat out more than I should.  So I don’t want to eat out again this week, and in the future it has to be ‘special’ somehow. I had dinner out on Monday with a life-long friend and it was special because we haven’t seen each other, well, since my grandma’s funeral.  So I’m glad we got together and I cherish our times we manage to get together. But this idea also means that I need to think ahead. Friday night it’s a friend’s birthday dinner before a dance. I plan to go. But, I’m going to go later and stop in before my volunteer shift.  It would be nice to go longer but I know I’d feel obligated to buy something.

    4. Face my finances more. When I was laid off, I focused constantly on the numbers to make sure everything was ‘okay’. But, lately, because I’m angry at being undervalued (career-wise) I’ve avoided the numbers.  That’s a horrible habit to get into and especially with the bend in the road coming I need to face my finances at a minimum of once a week.

    5. Somehow, somewhere, I need to connect with Mel to talk about our finances. People talk about money groups, and while we both are private about actual numbers with most people we have known each other well and for many years (it will be 9 years this Summer! WOW!!) we have talked about being totally honest with each other. But it’s hard to figure out how.  Maybe this will eventually evolve into a ‘Money Group’ but for now it is going to be a money pairing. I can see it being much easier in September when schedules will open up. But for now, to get to September, I hope we will figure out how/when to chat.

    6. Finally make my decision about streamlining my laundry: should I buy a combo portable washer/dryer, or not and if so, where will it fit?

    So so far, this week has been alright. I’ve not bought food out, but I will admit to buying chocolate out a couple of times (BAD for the finances and BAD for the health, fitness goals I have) — it’s been a bad week, chocolate’s comfort (yes, yes, I know another can of worms) — and I did buy a travel sized bottle of contact lens solution for my trip next week. I’ve made lunch all week. Tonight I’ve got Sweet and Sour Chicken ready to go into my crock pot for dinner tomorrow (and lunch on Friday). I still haven’t addressed looking at my numbers.

    But planning for the bend in the road takes more than just organizing my finances. I need to be better organized about my life. For that I’ve got a mental “to do” list that I should probably detail more specifically. Because the reality is I am going to need to have things well organized if I expect things to be efficient. Some of this goes back to financial planning — should I spend the money to buy a combo washer/dryer or should I just keep using my building’s laundry? Numbers matter, but to fit it in my apartment without my place looking like a ‘clutter queen’s apartment’ I need to re-organize my kitchen.  I talked about this recently here.  But organizing my home goes beyond that. There are bookcases, closets, storage lockers, kitchen shelves and other nooks and crannies that need sorting. I need to implement the 15 minute rule: Do something every day for 15 minutes.

    Today I put my computer table area back in order, and tomorrow my coffee table (which is currently holding my financial paperwork) needs to be sorted (especially now that my shredder is emptied and I can shred the pile of receipts I’ve got sitting there).  There’s even my laptop! That really needs to be organized and better set up for what’s next.

    I’m thinking alot about what’s next, and now as time ticks along, it’s time to ACT. Today feels good, I feel like I took one step. And that’s good.

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    Have you ever had one of those weeks? It’s the week where everything seems to go wrong. Yesterday and today at work have been incredibly frustrating, but as I choose to keep my work out of this blog I wont go into it in too much detail.  Some of it relates to the reality that it ‘comes with the job’ some of it relates to work-related finances and all the stresses that finances can bring.   It was also frustrating that my medical appointment request for yesterday’s Upper GI Xray and ultrasound was forgotten, so my manager was surprised when I sent out a reminder email. I ended up not getting the time off, but had to make up the time later. Working late bites!

    The cool thing, though, was that at my appointment yesterday — which was to try to determine why my stomach hurts — the ultrasound technician showed me some of my organs. I got to see my spleen, my liver and one of my kidneys. It was also amazing, the technician offered to show me my heart — she hadn’t looked at it while she was taking photos. I was excited by that possibility and it was really cool to see her reaction. Her first reaction was to say with a voice full of awe ‘wow you must be fit’. When I let her know that I’ve done a full marathon, and am running a 1/2 marathon this weekend, she was very impressed. As a 10k runner she understands training and has a concept of how much work goes into training for any distance let alone a marathon, or a 1/2 marathon.  It was amazing to see how strong, slow and relaxed my heart was. She left the room to consult with the radiologist and as she left she said ‘wow, today’s a great day, I got to see the heart of a marathoner’.

    The Heart of a Marathoner

    What does that mean? Training for a race — whatever distance — it requires dedication, persistence, emotional and physical strength. Training for a marathon takes time, it requires establishing priorities and being willing to work through the aches and pains, it takes willpower and a lot of emotional strength to get through the long miles and to push past even tears of frustration. On race day it’s often pure guts that gets a runner through the long long miles and past “The Wall”. But the rewards are plentiful: physical strength, emotional strength, great legs (GRIN) and a level of fitness that is unachievable by most.  And yes, it gives you a marathoner’s heart.  The marathon is truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically, but it is also the most rewarding physical challenge I have faced (to date). Yes I can say that even with my love of amazing dances. Quite honestly, if I had to choose, I’d choose running over dancing. Well, most of the time (except perhaps between those, fleeting, AMAZING dances, those are hard to match).

    Sometimes I think that the challenges of life are like that, they build the persistence and the strength needed to live life well, with integrity and purpose.  The challenges of life strengthen the emotional heart; they build the character of the one undergoing the trials.  This year and many recent years, have been like that — they are years that have been a hard marathon and I felt at several points like I hit that proverbial wall. Today, I can acknowledge, without the agony of previous days, that my life is not on the path that I expected to be on at this point in my life.  But, I’m a different person than I was in previous days.  The marathon built the strength of mind and body to get me through the long miles, past that wall and on pure guts, to the finish line strong and confident.  The emotional marathon I have been on in recent years has done the same for my life’s path — building the strength and persistence needed to live life well.

    So, yes, I’m not where I thought I’d be at this point. But, for once, I’m okay with that. Yes, those heart dreams that I’ve always carried still exist, but for once I can look at my life and be thankful that I didn’t marry when I was younger because I was not who I am now.  Perhaps, I would have avoided challenging all my perspectives and world views (which is another blog post, but the evolution of my world view is perhaps why I’m not the same person now as I was); perhaps these would not have evolved as they have. For the moment, at least, I can see how, had I gotten those heart dreams at a young age, it may not have been the happiest path. Yes, I’m in the middle of a marathon full of aches and pains — but maybe, just maybe, I’ve broken through the wall that many marathoners have either experienced or train hoping to avoid.

    I know that even with my moment to moment stresses about finances, the fall, future plans, and how they will all play out, I am on the right path. I have broken through the wall and I will persist, because I have the heart of a marathoner.

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    It’s a small consolation for not going to a blues party in Portland tonight. I’ll admit that driving 10 hours for a short party (there and back) is not my favourite idea of fun — especially with not sharing the driving.  But I was prepared to go, but my gut said ‘BAD IDEA’ this morning. Fortunately my passenger felt the same way so we called it. Instead today, after my last long run before the Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon I came home and relaxed a bit and convinced myself that a $0.50/Ib savings is worth it to drive to Langley for Strawberries rather than staying closer and going to Richmond.

    So I did went and got a flat of strawberries, grabbing another bundle of Rhubarb while it’s in season too. Maybe I’ll make more Strawberry Rhubarb muffins like these from last week:

    Strawberry Rhubarb Muffin

    There are a few places to get berries around the lower mainland. I’ve done some pricing. It’s always cheaper to do U Pick but that’s pretty time consuming and more fun to do with friends. So I just bought a total of two flats. Besides my time is worth more than the $0.50/Ib savings it is to do U Pick. So I’ll have just under 30 Ibs of strawberries frozen which will hopefully be a wonderful treat in the dead of winter while I’m busy and stressed (I’m not going to make Strawberry Jam this year — I still have lots from last year — not to mention blueberry and blackberry. I think this summer I’ll plan to make two batches of raspberry jam. I think that will get me through, at least until next summer)!  Plus, buying these local berries is much cheaper than the individually quick frozen berries sold at Costco (my fallback if I run out before this time next year), so I think in the interest of planning for what’s next, this is a fantastic way to save money. I’m trying to stock up right now so that I have a deep freezer full of basics I can use. Frozen local fruit (in season), chicken, veggies, and lots of soups and freezer meals. I want to be ready for the busy-ness of the fall, the inability to find time or the energy to cook — and I want to be ready to keep myself from eating out too much.

    My strawberry adventure took me to langley — last week’s flat was from Krause Farms, this weeks from Driediger Farms. It would have been delightful to share that with friends and make a fun adventure out of it, but alas, this time it was just me. Quick in and out, but this farm had a lovely picnic area, a place to get fresh fruit smoothies, the chance to get tours of the farm and it was very pretty!! I’ll be going back for blueberries and for raspberries later this summer (blackberries I’ll pick at the cabin as always), and hopefully the upcoming Blueberry and/or Raspberry Adventures will be shared.

    Speaking of eating out. Yesterday I ended up eating out twice, and need to nip that in the bud. It can’t keep happening — I need to limit that to special occasions, there have to be other inexpensive ways to hang out with people that don’t involve restaurants!  So I’m spending a lot of time thinking and planning and am trying to find tips and techniques that will help me to save funds. What are your tips and techniqes to save money and reduce your budget? What do you do with your friends that are cheap or free so that you’re not constantly spending money to be social?

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    Today at work was certainly better than yesterday and after work I headed to the salon and got my hair cut — it feels fantastic to have crisp healthy hair. I felt very pretty and confident after the appointment. I realize my hair will look better and be healthier if I didn’t wait a year between hair cuts!

    After the appointment I met up with a girl friend and we chatted about guys and life etc and dancing was a blast.  So why am I feeling blah? I know I’m tired. I know I’m stressed about finances, the future, plans and goals — how to get there without being swallowed up in the stress of debt and changes. But I was having a great time dancing, and I know that the future and those stresses are coming and it will work out — So why as the night ended did I fade into the ‘blah’s’?

    I know it’s partly because I’m weary and feeling lonely. I realize there’s nothing I can do about that, but it makes me wonder, yet again, why I attract and am attracted to ‘unattainable’ guys? If it’s not a guy who takes me onto an emotional rollercoaster, it’s a guy who gives off the impression that he’s been hurt badly and wont step up, or it’s a wonderful guy who lives far away.  None of them in a position to step up and be ‘my boyfriend’. That’s quite frustrating and it, and things people have said in recent weeks make the situations I’ve been in, especially ’emotional rollercoaster guy’, somehow less valid. This brings up a tangent — does having a label really mean anything? Yes, specifically defining eachother as ‘boyfriend’ and ‘girlfriend’ clearly defines responsibility and a level of commitment.  But does it really mean anything? The guy who is far away has treated me with a great deal more consideration and respect than ‘rollercoaster guy’ ever did. Rollercoaster guy will never be a friend again — dance acquaintance, yes, but not my friend. ‘Distance guy’ will remain a friend, even if we don’t get the chance to explore dating beyond the casual thing that it is.

    To me, if there is, or is the possibility of, a breakup, then for me it’s just as valid as labels, and being treated with respect is just as important!

    Anyhow, I guess that is it, I’m a bit lonely. The nice thing is, I’m thought of, treated with consideration, and missed. Plus, unless I have the worst luck, I’ll get to see ‘distance guy’ AKA ‘distraction’ in two weeks. That will be great. Time to think positively and look forward to good changes in the future.

    But for now, I’m going to sleep. That will do wonders to improve my blah and grumpy mood.

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