Friday, January 30, 2009

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

So as of late, with all the chaos and stress in my life, I am finding solace in mind numbing activities. How do I define mind numbing? Anything that requires my complete attention to stay on task, but actually need me to think. A lot.

For example, swimming. I love swimming. Not only does it feel great, but I have to focus so completely and entirely on keeping track of the number of laps I have done that I cannot think about anything else. As soon as my mind wanders from what lap I am on I find myself repeating laps, skipping laps, and all together confused. So instead I swim back and forth, and back and forth. Its very Ground Hog's Day, but in a good way.

Track running is the same thing.

And when I am at home "relaxing" I opt to knit. Now knitting is something people of all ages, genders and levels of eyesight are capable of doing. But for me, it requires my complete undivided attention. As soon as I answer the phone or get sucked into tv, or heaven forbid, think about anything other than knitting, I'm purling when I should've knitted. Or I've dropped a stitch. Or other things that annoy me and make my scarfs look unpretty.

I love my long runs for similar reasons. Especially when my "long runs" actually have some distance to them. The longer the run, the harder I push, the more it twinges, the more I have to concentrate all of myself into pushing through that wall. And when it comes down to mind over matter, I need to put on my mental blinders and focus everything I have at the task at hand.

Goodness me do I need to learn to function better under stress. But until then, I will swim and knit and run til it hurts.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Like a caged animal....

......I swim!

So I mentioned previously that I recently joined a gym finally.  Well it certainly wasn't the gym of my choice, but it was the gym I could afford.  And let me tell you, finding some place to swim on a shoestring budget is not easy.  And you have to give up A LOT.  Like cleanliness.

I went with the local family oriented, scholarships and discount rates for everyone, pee in the pool establishment.  Awesome.  And should someone who is connected with this national string of fitness establishments stumble across, I hope they will take heed.

Where do I start.  How about the locker room.  Okay, the "Women's" locker room doesn't even have bathrooms, or showers, or its own door to the pool.  But if you'll go through the adjoining door to the Girl's locker room you will find all this amenities.  Oh, and there's only maybe 50 lockers to be had in this bathroom free locker room.  So if you are lucky enough to find an open locker, and make your way through the adjacent child filled Girl's locker room, you are blessed with the newly remodeled pool.  Uh-huh.  When I think remodeled I think clean, new, improved.  If that is the case here, I am terrified to think what the old one was like. Ick, ick, DOUBLE ICK!!

Through the locker rooms, into the pool, now to find a lane.  At one end of the pool there is 8 starting blocks, count 'em people, 8.  But somehow the pool is only divided into 4 lanes MAX, even at the busiest of times.  In fact on multiple occasions there is only 2 lap swim lanes because there needs to be at least half of the pool for saggy swimsuited old foggies and pool peeing kids.  But should you be lucky enough to be 3-5 of the people crammed into one of the lanes, you can now submerge yourself and put your face into the same water that has random floaters and what seems to be dirt and or mold stuck into every grouted surface.  Sweet.

Now let me back up here.  I purposely wear my glasses, not contacts, when I head to the pool to swim.  Usually its to make me rely less on track the bottom of the pool and more on spotting the things around me (hey, visible is far from great in the open water segment of a tri).  But here, at my new swimmin' hole, I keep hoping that if I can't see I won't be able to notice all of the ick floating in the water.  But there are soooo many and some of them are so big and nasty, even blind, I still see them!!!  Yuck, yuck, DOUBLE YUCK!!

So let's say I am lucky enough to stumble across Adult Lap Swim.  Please note, I said Adult Lap Swim, because that is what the schedule specifically says.  It even qualifies this as continuous lap swimming and that no other activities will be allowed.  Sweet!! I mentioned that there are at best 4 lanes designated in the 8 lane pool.  What they failed to mention, is that during Adult Lap Swim, it is perfectly acceptable to walk or bounce in a lane.  I'm sorry, what?  Since when is bouncing in place or walking til the shallow end drops off continuous lap swimming??? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!!!  In fact this morning, the lifeguard went as far as to tell me, the swimmer, that maybe if I ask nicely the water walkers will let me swim in their lane.  uh huh.  I'll get right on that.  So, in this instance, I did, and those blue haired saggy suited water walkers were none to happy when I would "splash" them as I swam by during Adult Lap Swim (and ps, I stopped kicking every time I was in the vicinity of them and merely pulled, but even my hand entering the water was too disruptive to them).

So I've made my way into a lane with, on a good day, 2 other swimmers.  I've left my gag reflex and contacts at home.  Its time to swim.  We're circling each other like caged animals.  But I love it.  As I crank out my couple thousand yards, maybe with a twist of kickboard time or a pinch of pullboy time, I love it.  I love the mind numbing laps.  The monotony.  The feeling of having been there a time or two or seventy before.  Its awesome.  I swim until my arms ache.  And then I wake up at 5am the next day and I do it again.

Now that the PINK's out of the way...

Where has the time gone....

I feel like I have been on a forced hiatus from my online world.  Like I was unplugged.  There's barely been enough time to sneak a peak at a blog here and there and catch up on my non-work email, let alone spill my guts here.  Too long.  So much to say.

Running at work has been pretty great.  There's only so far I can go with the roads and time I have at hand, but I've found that it is a much needed stress buster regardless.  And spending that hour a day out of the office is just what the doctor ordered.  But the next time a coworkers says "woah, did you know you are red in the face? are you ok?" I might smack someone.  Yes, I know I am red in the face.  Its 10 degrees out and I was just outside hauling hinney to stay warm.  Yep, I'll be radioactive red in the face for a while so feel free to stop staring.  And asking.  

Work has been crazy lately, and well, last week was insane to say the LEAST!  Potentially certifiably.  In fact I have no idea what happened or where I was before last week.  All of our Regional Managers flew in last Monday for a sales meeting.  Which meant the running buddy was in town all week (woo woo!!) but busy in meetings and playing host to all the out of towners (sad).  And this sales meeting meant that I spent a good portion of my week in meetings and wining and dining with the out of towners.

Oh, and let me tell you my dislike of laser tag.  Our boss had a great idea that everyone should do some team building.  Awesome, I'm down.  But my idea of team building does NOT include a gun of any kind.  I never even played with squirt guns as a kid.  I think I played a round or two of Duck Hunt on the original Nintendo, but I was far from capable of actually hitting anything.  But I decided I would man up and give it a go.  I strapped on the big flashy target-esque vest and donned my laser gun and went into the arena.  And that's when it got ugly!  All my coworkers are running around like maniacs shooting one another in this barely lit, black-light trippin' maze.  I. HATED. IT.  I managed to get through the first round, came in ranked 12 out of 12, and tried to convince people not to make me go back in.  But they told me it would be fun now that I got the hang of things.  Riiiiiight.  So back in I went.  The more my coworkers ran around like madmen, and shot me and each other, and the more I wandered into corners and had no idea where I was, the more I started to FREAK OUT!  Pretty soon I was starting to hyperventilate and cry.  If it hadn't been for my coworker Andy jumping out from around the corner and shooting me, to realize I was geeked to the max, and escort me out of the maze, I would probably still be rocking in the fetal position is some black lit later be found curled up outside on the sidewalk by the running buddy.  They decided I didn't have to go back in after that.

But the laser tag day was not a complete lost.  After the that debacle FINALLY ended it was off to the local brew pub for bar-lympics.  That's right.  There were complex brackets and scoring and other things way beyond my comprehension.  But there was also beer, beautiful, delicious, much needed beer.  And shuffleboard!  I learned to play shuffleboard.  Not well, but I totally dug it.  And at the end of the brackets and games and beer, my territory and team represented!  Go South!  We are a pretty serious trio to reckon with.  And the running buddy's territory came in last.  Hehehe.  :)

So other than work, dinner, beer, repeat, last week was pretty much a bust.

There were a few key work day runs.  And it all ended with a gym membership and swim workouts on the schedule.



That's right, here's a picture (not a good picture, but a picture) of my new singlespeed 29er frame!  Ok, not a new frame as its a hand me down from the running buddy, but new to me.  No, it wasn't pink when he rode it, he pink'ed it just for me!!  And its too soon to safe for certain, but I think it may very well be tricked out with some serious butt kickin' pink components in the not so distant future.  I am in LOVE with it to say the very least.  If I knew how to write a haiku honoring the frame, I would.  And there will be plenty o pictures to come as it reaches completion.

Oh running buddy, how wonderful you are!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Resolutions....a bit late.

Let me start by saying its not like I magically wake up January 1st of a year and expect a clean slate and a brand new me. I wouldn't say that these are "resolutions" so much as a continuation of things I am trying to do.

Better manage my money. That's right kids, its time I grow up and learn to save. At least a little.

Cook! Anyone that knows me knows this is a HUGE things in my world. I am just not kitchen compatible and I don't really enjoy it. At all. But the fact of the matter is that I get tired of non-homemade food, or worse yet, fast food. Oh! Let's not overlook how learning to cook and eat better foods is healthier either. And then of course there is the whole better manage my money thing. So what better way to attack both than to take on the task of learning to cook. Maybe there is a domestic goddess just hiding in me waiting to get out....

Swear less. Sounds silly, I know but hanging with the boys, working with the boys, riding and racing (or trying to...), they're habits rub off. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it! Heck, in a former life I worked with children. Its time to return to more Pollyanna days.

Avoid the gossip. Its so easy to get pulled into the talk. And once you're listening to the chatter, its even easier to fall victim to contribute and perpetuate the rumors. Admit it, it happens to the best of us. But really, I scowl at those who meddle in my business so I should stay out of theirs.

Be nicer. I could also call this my "if I can't say anything nice, I won't say anything at all" resolution, but that was way too long of a title. And its much more of an addition to the above ban on gossip. I'm sure those who know me are shocked by this statement. I am a sweetheart. Sometimes. But I have a streak of sass in me like none other, and frequently it comes out. Especially when stressed (see below).

Better manage my stress. A friend and I are looking for a yoga joint in our neck of the woods. My mid-day runs go a long way to overcome the workday stress. Take more deep breaths. All in all, just breathe and reboot!

Race harder. That's right, I've got a BIG season ahead of me. All culminating in Ironman Wisconsin (now 9 months away to the day). Its not so much about the time, or even the end result, but rather the process of getting there and finding out what exactly I have in me. I think I will be pleasantly surprised.

Get hurt less. I play hard, I get hurt. Hard. Sure, accidents happen. But if I play smarter I think can manage fewer trips to the ER this year. You know, where shoes (not sandals) when hiking the bluffs, stretch more frequently, avoid "bears," no snowboarding without wrist guards...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

All in all, I'm looking for a healthier 09. That's what all these "resolutions" add up to.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Holidaze, Take 2.

Let me start by saying it is going to be rough being at work a FULL WEEK this week after two blissfully short holiday weeks….

I have to say that I had an absolutely wonderful couple of weeks. To follow up on the last week, this week was a rockin’ continuation of the last. Not only did I only have to work 3 days (always a reason to celebrate) but the days off were well spent.

NYE we got all dressy and went out for an “adult” nice dinner with friends at Restaurant Magnus. (I have to interject here that I had a little bit of a wardrobe meltdown early in the evening. Bryn patiently and superheo-esque-ly came to my rescue and talked me off the proverbial ledge.) Once that was squared away, and dinner was underway, it was a wonderful evening. Delicious food, good company, a cocktail or two, dancing on a bench….eh, right. I’ll stop there. All in all, it was a pretty darn great night (followed by a much needed lazy day on Thursday).

Friday we headed out to the hill for some quality snow playing. First things first, I broke my snowboard binding. Niiiice. I have to say that I am quite proud that I managed not to have a complete meltdown over this, and would even go as far as to say that I stayed calm during the whole quest to repair the binding. And it was totally worth it. Despite the brrr-tastic temperatures once the sun dropped, the snow was great. And for the first time since my epic attempt of a front flip (also known as my painful wipe out a few weeks ago) it actually felt natural, date I say good, to be on the snow. By the time we headed out, however, I was a complete Katie-sicle that even the largest bowl of the Weary Traveler’s most delicious chili couldn’t defrost…

Saturday was dinner with the running buddy’s family (eek!!). At the time, terrifying!! In retrospect, not really scary at all. I would even say it was pleasant as the family was pretty wonderful, the food was tasty, and I got to see enough embarrassing childhood pictures to fuel me for a while. J After dinner we ventured out on the icy death trap sidewalks to Jolly Bob’s for some chilling with Geoff and Jenn (and Jenn’s sister Kate). These kids are some of my favorite people to hang out with. So grreat. The mile+ walk was chilly and slippery on the way there, but the walk home was a jillion times worse! I however thought it would be a great idea to run and slide on the ice-laden pavement. There was even some pushing of others into snow banks (and I’m not sorry for it at all). As I was frolicking on the ice, I kept getting farther and farther in front of the running buddy, who didn’t appreciate this one bit and even yelled at me to slow down. I ignored his warnings, until we witnessed AND HEARD the complete wipe out of a pedestrian. It was quite possibly the most skull cracking thwap I have ever heard. Ick ick ick! After that, the running buddy used his adult voice and I listened (especially as a block and half later the wiped out pedestrian was still laying on the ground, surrounded by friends, not moving). That was until we found a wonderfully icy parking lot to slide around in…