Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Resolutions

I have been wracking my brain trying to come up with a good New Year's Resolution. The perfect resolution is tricky. It has to be attainable (but still something that requires work) and measurable. For instance, last year my resolution was to read 50 books. It wasn't crazy, 50 books is pretty attainable and it was a jump up from, well, probably every year of my life since I started reading "grown up" books. One year I resolved to learn to bake bread-- that one was trickier than it sounds, but I did it!

This year it seems logical that my resolution center around running. I immediately thought that it should be to run a 1/2 marathon but that plan is already in the works. It doesn't quite feel like the ideal resolution when I have been planning it for a couple of months. Then I thought it could be to run a certain number of miles. I know some people will try to run, say, 1,000 miles in a year (which is basically 20 a week). I think right now that is too many miles for me to commit to, but it could work if I scaled back some.

But it doesn't have to be about running. I will run regardless if it is a resolution! How about something else to help make me a better person in 2012? Or a better mother? Or I could learn a new skill? Or work a certain amount on my novel (that I am STILL stuck on!)? Or I could finally get the job I have been needing to get for a while.

It will be an interesting year, no doubt. I could have never predicted what 2011 would bring me! Such is the excitement of it all, no?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K

The other day on Facebook Mel from Tall Mom on the Run posted that a group was hosting something called a Home for the Holidays Virtual 10K (although I think the registration is closed now). It is a 10K that has to be run between December 23rd and the 26th. I decided to do mine today!

I was supposed to meet one or two gals from my running class at Starbucks on Alki but for whatever reason they weren't where I thought they were going to be. One of the gals was only running three miles so I figured I would do two-ish loops of the run she plotted, but no worries, I would do the run by myself! I psyched myself up to run my second 10K in a week, this time alone, and headed back to my car to plot the run on my phone. This was a tedious and frustrating process as it's hard to plot an actual run versus just get directions on google maps on my phone. I found something I thought would work and set off south towards beach drive. My turn-around point was the Menashe House.

 Photo Credit: West Seattle Blog

Of course, it was during the day, so the house didn't look quite like this (but all of the lights were on!)

It was a gorgeous day. Overcast, low 40's, a slight breeze but no actual wind . . . or rain! 

I headed back north towards the Starbucks and ate my peppermint Gu. I wished I had worn my water belt and had contemplated heading back to  my car to take a few swigs of water, but I decided to press on and finish the run. I had a general idea of how far I had gone, based on my mapping, but I decided to not worry about my time since even being a little off in my calculations could really skew my perceptions of my pace and it wasn't worth the worry.

After eating my Gu (can you really call it eating? It's not drinking, though. More like slurped, maybe?) I headed northwest on Alki until I hit somewhere around where I thought my turn-around point was. I paused for a moment and high-tailed it back towards Starbucks.

It turned out I actually ran 6.47 miles in a time of 1:07. Not too shabby, that was about what I ran my 10K last weekend in.

I stopped and got a cafĂ© mole for Matt and I on my way home. Nom nom nom. 

I asked Matt to snap a photo of me when I got home. This is my new running skirt! Yesterday I wore this exact same outfit just without my (heart) Delridge shirt over it. With my pink hat and pink accented sneakers I figured I looked like what Elle Woods would look like if she were a runner. Ha! 


The jury is still out on the running skirt. I loved it yesterday but today it felt a little too lose. I am worried I bought the wrong size. I got two identical styles and sizes but this one even fit tighter than the other one and I have to send that one back. 

Anyways, the outfit wasn't festive, in terms of Christmas, but it was still fun!

I am glad I got this run done today. Now I can set to work cooking Christmas Eve dinner and eat to my heart's content tonight!

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas break, part III

This morning it was time for "gingerbread" houses! I say it like that because no actual gingerbread was harmed in the making of the houses. We have been using graham crackers for the past three years because it is just so much easier. In the past I have bought gingerbread house kits, and those are even easier, but our version works when you are racing around at the last minute to every store in town and they are all sold out of kits (not that I speak from experience or anything . . . ). I guess you could say my procrastination three years ago led us to a wonderful new tradition! 


The girls and I picked out a few different kinds of candy. Every year it's a different assortment.



First words out of Eloise's mouth this morning were "can we go make gingerbread houses now?!?!" We typically do the houses on Christmas Eve, but this year I made the decision to do them on the 23rd. Matt is home today and we have so much to do tomorrow, I figured it best to spread the festivities out a bit more.


The next two pictures are Matt and Iris's house. It is a boathouse. It appears there is a party going on, lots of gummy bears wearing marshmallow hats!




Oh, man. My stomach is killing me. I go absolutely crazy for candy. It is a problem.



 This year we built the houses in teams. In previous years we each had our own, but I like this way a little more. Lord knows we don't really need four separate houses full of candy sitting around!


 Below is Eloise and my house. It is a cabin with an ocean and a boat. 


Iris decided to connect them both.


My silly monkeys!



Merry Christmas Eve, Eve!

Christmas break, part II

On Wednesday the girls and I ventured out for some last minute (or at least, fairly last minute for my taste!) and then downtown to the Seattle Center for some ice skating. The girls had never been ice skating and as for me? Well, it's been yeeeeeeears. I honestly couldn't say for sure the last time I donned ice skates.



The rink was fairly small and packed with people, but we had a great time. Since the girls are both good at roller skating they picked up on ice skating pretty quickly.



Iris kind of looked like she was going to break her ankle. She said she couldn't keep her feet straight up and down, so I tried not to worry about it too much.



I am glad we were able to give ice skating a try. I know there are some indoor places in the area so we may check those out some day.

Eloise went back and forth between skating alone just fine and then wanting to use a "walker". The little girl she was next to became her new BFF at the rink. She  just went around and around with the girl and her mother, I couldn't get anywhere near her. I kept wondering if the girl's mom (the dad was there, too) thought Eloise was some random stray child who attached herself to them a wee bit too enthusiastically.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas break, part I

The first few days of our Christmas break have been partly really fun and partly kind of making me want to pull my hair out. It usually goes that I plan something for the girls and I to do and it works out pretty well until one or both of the girls decides they aren't interested in listening to pretty much anything I say. Ah, well.



On Tuesday we made sugar cut-out cookies. I realized as I was mixing the dough that it is my Great Grandma's recipe that was handed down to me by my Grandma and I made them with my Mom's stand mixer. And along the way, I was passing it all along to my own girls. Five generation of girls all a part of this tradition. Sadly, my girls don't have the pure joy of eating sugar cookies made by my Grandma. I am sure I will try my whole life and mine won't taste just like hers. My Grandma is also the reason that the only other holiday treat I made this year is chex mix, and of course I make it the same way she does. For several years she sent us a care package at Christmas of her baked goodies. This year she didn't, instead opting for a check. I will never be bummed about receiving money, but I would return it in a heartbeat for just one bag of her cookies.




As I was on the phone with my Mom last night I was telling her this same thing. How in my mind, the perfect gift from my Grandma is a box of her goodies. She told me while she was at the family Christmas gathering she would try to snag some treats and send them out to me. Yay!

My Mom was lamenting how much it cost to ship out the Christmas gifts they got (and made) for Matt, the girls and I. She explained that she didn't understand why she and my Dad didn't just order things online and have them shipped, instead opting for shopping themselves and then mailing them to us. I replied that I understood, buying online is totally the way to go these days.

But then, today I opened the boxes she sent. The packages inside were all wrapped by her and her hand writing was on the tags. My Mom and Dad made something for the girls and I could smell the stain on the wood. It reminded me of my Dad. In that moment I was so grateful they paid the arm and a leg for shipping the gifts themselves. Boxes from Amazon are always fun, but they certainly miss that connection to the person they are from.



So, anyways, the girls and I bakes and frosted cookies on Tuesday before heading out to explore the creek near our house. I love the creek, it makes me feel so removed from the city to hang out next to it, but I still feel a little uneasy about it. We are still in a not-so-nice part of town and I know there can be, shall we say, unsavory characters down there. Luckily we have never personally had any issues, but I always wonder.


The girls were playing an elaborate game of spies.



I spent most of the day messing around with a lens my brother-in-law loaned to me. I love the lens but because I have basically the lowest end model of Nikon's DSLR it doesn't auto-focus on my camera. Phooey. I tried to get some decent shots, but they are all at least a little blurry.



Oh, if only we had snow! The weather has been in the low 40's and sunny for a few days. That sounds nice, but it's so unbelievably boring. Seattle hasn't even really had the trademark Fall rains. Just slightly more and less amounts of cold and sun or clouds. I want snow. Heaps and piles of white, fluffy snow!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Something other than running, perhaps?

So I realized that I have inundated my blog with posts about running lately. Many apologies to those of you who come to read updates on something other than that! I have wondered if running deserves its own spin-off blog, but I just don't have the energy to set that up right now.

Saturday marked our official first day of Christmas break. I have such a love/hate relationship with school, both at home and at public school so I usually really look forward to the breaks so we can sloooow down.

Iris has been cruising right along in her home school curriculum and we have both really enjoyed having everything so mapped out for us. Our fancy pants math curriculum is a little to, errr, fancy for me to figure out right now, so I am just working through a more basic one for now. When I ordered it I don't think I realized what a steep learning curve the curriculum would have just to start using it. Yeesh.

Eloise received her first ever report card (awwww!) so that was kind of fun. For her age they don't grade the children with the typical A, B, C in subject areas, but rather they assign them a number that corresponds to their level of momentum in certain areas. Like a 1-2 if they just can't seem to grasp a concept or a 4-5 if they are just flying along past expectations. Eloise is doing solidly average on everything expected of her, which is what I would have thought for her. Apparently she is still working on her "classroom civics" or something like that . . . again, exactly what I would have thought for her!

A couple of weeks ago Iris and I went with friends to visit our "local" American Girl store (I love that they call it the Seattle store when it's like 15 miles north of the city!). It was a pretty rotten visit, as it turned out Iris was sick, but we did get a cute picture of her in front of the store with her Felicity doll!


I promised her we would go back again when she didn't feel so terrible. AFTER Christmas. Good lord, that place was an absolute zoo!

It is all about American Girl in our house right now. Kind of a racket, but you know, I am sure I would have loved them when I was Iris's age, so I understand it.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa Runs Tacoma 10K

Little did I know that TODAY was going to be the best run yet! I did it. I ran my 10K! My time was 1:02:58, which I am pretty darn proud of. I know that I want to run a sub one hour 10K, so I did have that time in the back of my head, wondering how close I would get to it. I am definitely within range to hit my goal soon, soon, soon! First and foremost, though, is that I loved every minute of the run. I felt great the entire time. I only stopped running to get water at the 5K turn-around point, which was a goal I was hoping to attain. I didn't know if I could run the whole thing. I also ran faster the second 5K than I did the first, which is considered to be a good thing (at least, according to my fitness coach!) I placed 20/39 for the females running the 10K in my age group, as well.

I thought I was going to be dying the rest of the day, but I feel fine. I was/am tired, but I had to get up pretty early, so I am no more tired than I would usually be on an early rising day.

The other really fun thing is that I finally got to meet some of the awesome, inspirational runners that I have been stalking following online. I am also in a facebook group with these ladies and was happy to be sorta part of their group for this run by wearing a matching outfit. I met Mel from Tall Mom on the Run,  Kerrie from Mom vs Marathon, Zoe from Run Zoe Run, Kim from (Just) Trying is for Little Girls, Tiffany from Musings of a Runner Girl and Alma and Karla, who I think have blogs but I can't seem to locate them right now. And I hope that is everyone I met-- I found the group just after I crossed the finish line so I was a wee bit out of it! Three of the ladies posed for this picture with me later:

That would be the race director who photo bombed us! ha!

And here is my bib (interesting how it looks white with red numbers in the photo above!). I love that I got 2012 because that is going to be MY year!


Can't wait for the next one!





Friday, December 16, 2011

Getting ready for "the big one"

Tomorrow I will be attempting my longest run to date-- a 10K. Or 6.2 miles, for you American readers. But doesn't 10K sound nicer? I think henceforth I will report all of my runs in kilometers, as it sounds so much . . . more. So, yeah. A 10K. I waffled back and forth on this until only a few days ago. Since I was hit with some recent set-backs I had no idea if I would be ready. But I think I am. I suppose we will find out! Today I am feeling kind of awful-- really starting to wonder if my recent issues are the same I got rid of when I booted gluten out of my diet for a year. I think after Christmas I will try to eliminate it again and see how I feel, because I am tired of almost daily nausea/stomach pains once again.

So, yeah. A 10K! I am wearing the same outfit I wore last weekend for the Jingle Bell Run since this is another holiday themed run. I am currently making sure my ipod playlist is up to par and trying to figure out the best way to watch my time while I run. Since I *think* I am getting a fancy running watch for Christmas I put off buying one, but now I really, really, really wish I had one. It's going to be a little tough to run this without being keenly aware of my pace. My mantra will just be "go slow!" Most of the runners tomorrow are going to be running a 5K so the first half of the run everyone will be speeding past me. A sort tortoise and the hare scenario, if you will. If I try to keep up with them, I will wear myself out instantly.

Last night my fitness/running class buddies (most of the gals overlap the two classes, which are taught by the same instructor) gathered for a holiday party and gift exchange after our last class of the year. Man, I adore these ladies so very much. They have pushed me and supported me and run beside me, literally and figuratively, for the past few months. I can't wait to see what the new year holds for our group!

The classes are taking a break until the new year and I plan on taking it easier over that time. Not totally off-- if only because it is so crazy hard to get back in to it after a complete break.

After the break, though, I am jumping in to training mode. Back in October I signed up to run a half marathon in June 2012, but I have a sneaking suspicion I might be ready before then. Planning to maybe think about possibly running The Lake Sammamish Half in March (shhh!) if training in the new year goes well. I like the idea of my first half being, well, much smaller than the Rock-n-Roll Half. We will see.

It depends very much on whether or not I keel over and die tomorrow at the 10K.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jingle Bell Run 5k

Today I, along with 4,000+ other people, ran the 5k Jingle Bell Run in downtown Seattle. I was looking forward to this run for lots of reasons, it was a chance to run on downtown streets, I was supposed to run with friends (unfortunately I wasn't able to find them before the run started), I got to dress up cute in my Sock It To Me red and white striped pirate tights and my Team Sparkle red sparkly skirt, AND I was going to rock this 5k with a zooming fast pace.

My husband and girls came along for support and to run the kids 1k. As I surveyed the swelling crowd I told Matt that I had a feeling it was going to be packed and this might not be the race to get my pride-soaring PR (personal record).

Feeling good pre-race!

I have had a few runs on Alki recently where my pace was sub-9:00 for 3-5 miles and I knew that the energy of a crowd is always good for a little extra stamina.

But then I showed up on the starting line, with allllll of those people. I stood near the 8:00-9:00 min pace marker. My running/fitness coach, who I was hoping to trail, was nowhere in sight (remember, I didn't find my peeps before the race?) and I had no watch, no way of tracking my progress at all. Of course, none of that really mattered because the course was SO packed with people that I very rarely ever felt like I was just cruising. Instead I bobbed and weaved and slowed behind strings of walkers, dogs and strollers and hopped on and off curbs to make my way through and . . . . I made it out with a time of 30:00 on the nose. I was/am so disappointed. I knew I could have had a 26:00 or 27:00 finish if I had been able to actually RUN. It was annoying because the waves of runners were supposed to go according to how fast they thought they would run -- so there shouldn't have been walkers/kids/strollers lined up in front of the 8:00-9:00 min pace marker in the wave I left in. Ah, well.

I wished that I either could have just run what I wanted to or have been able to relax and let go and realize this was not my run to garner my PR and enjoy the crowd. Unfortunately I did neither.

I have another run coming up next weekend and am curious if it is going to be as crowded. I haven't decided yet if I will do the 5k or 10k, either. I signed up for the 10k but am not sure I will be ready. If I do it, the goal will be to finish my first one and feel good about myself. If I do the 5k I will probably secretly hope to get the 26:00 or 27:00 finish I wanted today. We'll see.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Zzzzzzzzzzz.

The other night I got a notice from Goodreads that I have read 46 of my 50 book goal for the year. CRAP. I remember a time in the year when I was on track to easily read 75 books. Then, what happened? Well, this school year and my new fitness routine happened. So that means when I fling myself in to my bed at night I am so tired I can barely randomly punch buttons on my phone to check Facebook, let alone read and process a story line. It's kind of sad, really. I do have three books in my pile that I can put on my Goodreads list, but they are all non-fiction running references. Interesting (at least, to me), but not really in the intended spirit of reaching a reading goal.

So, yeah, my days are busy. Well, maybe not always busy, but definitely always exhausting.

Speaking of exhausting, I'm just going to say it: I kind of am starting to be annoyed with Christmas. It feels like everything is being jam packed in to a few short weeks. Money, time, patience, energy, you name it, it's in short supply right now. Kind of driving me crazy. I think about all of the stuff we "have to" do before Christmas-- and it's all awesome, fun, wonderful stuff-- but it just stresses me out to think about doing it all in a limited amount of time. I wish we could save some of this activity for the doldrums of February! Of course, I sound like a jerk complaining about it, because how lucky am I to have my biggest complaint be that I have too many amazing things in my life taking me too many directions at the same time?

Thankfully Matt has been taking off Fridays all month long so that has been immensely helpful. Today he was Iris's "substitute" teacher and it was such a weight off my back to know she was getting her lessons done without me even being at home. AND he took her on her field trip this week . . . to see the Gingerbread Houses!

The girls will be on their winter break from school starting on the 19th and can I just say that I am so very excited for it? I honestly am. I like having them home and having free time with them to just do whatever, even if that means sitting in our jammies all day watching Phineas and Ferb. In fact, I think that will be exactly what day one of Winter break will hold for us.

Day two will be reading my last few books to hit my goal for 2011.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Hitting our stride

Finally things on the home school front are turning out wonderfully day after day!

Check out The Schooling Bridge for more on that topic.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Running and weight loss

I started my fitness kick with only one goal in mind: lose weight for Maui. Maui came and went last May (and yes, I am still sad that we couldn't stay there forever!) but luckily the fitness bug seems to have stuck with me.

Since I have begun running am I still concerned with numbers, only now they aren't on the scale, they are how many miles am I running and what my times are. Do I still get on the scale? Yes, but I quickly check the number and that's it. To be honest, I am not watching what I eat *that* closely, so the number on the scale tells simply confirms that I am not out-eating my fitness efforts.

This week something incredibly exciting happened, though. I had to get an outfit to wear to my husband's work Christmas party and strolled in to the first store I recognized at the mall: Banana Republic. I admitted to the saleslady that I am woefully inept at dressing nicely and asked for her help in picking something out. She grabbed handfuls of clothes and hung them in the dressing room for me. I quickly scanned the picks and began trying them on. Eventually I came across and adorable skirt that had a size 8 tag on it. I paused, and decided to try the skirt on, just for giggles. Maybe the skirt would slide up to my thighs, I thought.

I pulled the skirt on. It went all the way up. The zipper? It zipped. It. Looked. Awesome. Now, I am well aware that all clothes are sized differently and a size 8 skirt at one store might be the same size as 12 in another, but still. It was a fun moment. I ended up leaving the store with a dress and a shrug, both in sizes smaller than I have worn in many, many years. Probably should admit that I came home and ordered the skirt online-- lord knows what I will wear it with, maybe everything? Who cares!

After my muscle injury and fall last week I have struggled with getting back in to running the last few times I have been out. On Sunday I went to watch the runners at the Seattle half and full marathon and is was incredibly inspiring to watch everyone giving it their all despite the cold, wind and rain. I left the race to go running myself on a trail along Alki, which is on the Puget Sound. It was a rough, rough run with the awful weather. However I did four miles in my fastest time yet, so that is something to be proud of! At the end of the run I sat down in my car to make a phone call to my sister. As I stared out at the water while chatting I saw several heads surface and slip back in to the water-- it was seals! I screamed in to my poor sister's ear and jumped out of the car. Five seals were swimming by right in front of me. What a treat! I have lived in Seattle for just over ten years and have never seen seals. I hear them all of the time, but have never seen them. I also have never seen whales, but that is another story for another day.

A low-key running class on Tuesday where I had a lot of one-on-one attention from my instructor helped me reinvigorate even more. I got some pointers on my form plus some great stretching and exercise ideas to help stave off any more injuries. Hopefully the upward trend in my training continues.

Now I have to gear up for a couple of holiday runs-- I signed up to do a 5K and a 10K, though I still am not 100% sure I can do the 10K, I may change it to a 5K. I will probably know within a week or so if I will feel ready.