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Hardcore or Hardheaded?

As I was huffing and puffing up the hill at bootcamp the other 85-degree morning, I couldn’t stop thinking about one thing:

Am I, as a runner, hardcore or simply hardheaded?

And then I realized that maybe my stubbornness is why running works so well for me:

  • Too stubborn to quit
  • Too stubborn to skip a run
  • Too stubborn to hide from the weather

You get the picture. (Some may say that translates to stupidity sometimes. But who am I to put words in their mouths?)

Take that hot morning’s workout, for instance.

Hill repeats. It was hot. And humid. Way too hot and humid to be running. Especially up and down the hills.

By the fifth trip up the hill, my body was ready to give up and I had to rely on my mind to know what to do. I do not like the heat. At all. I even threatened to take off my shirt and run in just my sports bra (who was I kidding, though, no way it was that hot).

  • 5.58 miles, 59 minutes (five trips up and down the hill; the week before I got in 6 trips in the same amount of time — still amazed how much near-90 degree weather and super high humidity slows me down)
  • Half-mile cooldown walk (though “cooldown” was more like walk while your drenched clothing sticks to you and salty sweat burns your eyes out)
hot and sweaty workout

I sure wished I’d brought a towel to put on Boo’s seat. She’s not ready to smell like a stinky runner yet.

Any normal person in her right mind wouldn’t have worked out that morning. But there we were, runners all, trudging up that hill, stubbornly tackling one repeat after another. Because we could — not because we necessarily should.

Then came today. A three-a-day kinda day. Not planned. But once it was in motion, I was too stubborn to step back from it.

So, yeah. I worked out three times today. Not because I should; because I could. Yes, I know my body needs rest and recovery. But circumstances beyond my control made this necessary. It is not a regular occurrence and (most likely though I can’t promise) won’t happen again. And, no, I certainly don’t recommend it. (Though, I can say I do feel a little hardcore tonight. That will most definitely turn into hardheaded regret when my DOMS sets in. I won’t say you didn’t warn me.)

Today, in a nutshell:

Bootcamp in the morning. One of my favorite sessions: Marathon Don‘s Obstacle Course. It goes a little something like this:

Six rounds each. Running between stations (total for each lap is just over half a mile).
-10 pushups (good form, proper pushups)
-Up and over climbing wall
-30 seconds abs (each round was a different exercise)
-Shuffles between the cones
-10 step ups on picnic tables (I add an extra knee lift after each step up)
-Up the ladder
-Down the slide
-Once down the hopscotch “board”
-Sprint to the next station
-10 reps various upper body exercise with dumbbells

Jump to this evening. I had promised a friend I’d go to an EcoTrek session with her tonight. It was meeting at a park very near my house. A park I was pretty familiar with — or so I thought. Who knew there was a giant sand hill the led waaaaaay up into the sky hiding at the back of that park? Apparently our fearless EcoTrek leader did — cuz she took us right up it. Twice.

What I love about EcoTrek is that it offers a full-body workout that people of all fitness levels can do. And it’s outdoors! And it’s fun! And you can push yourself really, really hard (if you choose)! And everyone is so encouraging! And you get to get all sortsa dirty!

dirty ecotrek feet

Dirty feet make me happy. A pound of sand in my shoes? Maybe not quite so happy.

After I dumped the sand from my shoes, I laced ’em back up and headed to the gym for a quickie session with T2.5. He got held up and had to miss last night’s session, so we rescheduled for today. I mean, he’s getting married this Friday, so we could hardly meet Thursday night. Right?

I wasn’t too worried about pushing myself too awfully hard after two pretty tough workouts already today. I mean, T2.5 was just walking me through my new weight program.

But, I should have known better. He wanted to make sure I knew how to do everything on the program. As well he should, though. Because, truthfully, I’m kind of a dunce when it comes to weight lifting. And I need a lot of reminders about and help with proper form. And, honestly, I need him to show me how hard I actually can push myself. I can always lift heavier than I think I can. (You probably can, too.) And just as a reminder, T2.5 put a very special reminder on the bottom of the program sheet for me:

If you can’t feel the heat, the workout’s not complete.

So, yeah. I stubbornly — and knowingly — scheduled three workouts today. With barely a breather between the last two. Strong and hardcore or stupid and hardheaded? Your guess is as good as mine.

But one thing I do know for sure? I sure do feel better about things when I push myself hard. I like to think that every drop of sweat equals a drop of stress or worry or fear or sadness leaving my body. And today, I lost a lot of sadness and worry. And it felt so good; I feel so good. Better about myself than I have in a while, in fact. So if that makes me stubborn, stubborn I’ll be.

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Saturday Sentiments

In which I discuss five things that make me feel sappy.

  1. My Sister — Honestly, I am so overwhelmed with pride and joy for my sister that I really don’t know where to start. Maybe the beginning-ish? I started running and fell in love. I somehow talked her into jog-walking a couple of races with me. Suddenly, she was joining me for many of my races. We just ran a five-mile race today. Our rule is that if we start a race together, we finish it together. We line up at the starting line and each take off at our own pace. I run ahead, finish up the race and either do a cool-down walk or a slow jog back to wherever she happens to be on the race course. So, by the time I finished my race today and headed back to finish with her, I did just about 7.5 miles. But the sentimental part? When I rounded the corner and saw her coming toward me, I definitely got a little misty. Because there she was, jogging. And there I was, jogging. Meeting in the middle. We were doing it together, and it was stupendous. I love that woman. I am so proud to have her along for the ride/run/journey. She’s my support, my confidante, my cheerleader and my best friend. Sibling or no sibling, this is a woman I want to have in my life. No. Matter. What.

    Photo of me and my sister

    The lovely "Rosebud Sisters" after the Frozen Foot Five Mile

  2. Home — I’m a lucky girl. I have two homes: the one where I live and the one where my parents live. Mom and Dad live in the same house I grew up in. I never had to move at all while I was growing up. I still sleep in the same bedroom I had almost my whole life. So, it’s no surprise that this place is still my home. It always will be — even though I’ve built my own home, my own life, more than two hours away from here. It can get confusing because I leave home to go home, no matter if I’m heading north or south. But it’s sort of a wonderful, warm, fuzzy kind of confusing.
  3. My Niece and Nephew — I’ve been an aunt since I was 10. I’ve grown up around kids and have had a hand in raising lots of them. These days, I’ve developed a really cool relationship with many of my nieces and nephews. You know, now that they’re older and able to carry on interesting conversations and talk about “real” things. It’s kinda cool when these things you used to babysit, clean up after and change their clothes turn into adults with real interests and opinions and senses of humor. I spent much of my day today hanging out with one of my nieces and some of the evening hanging out with her and my nephew (they’re siblings). It was fun — even if we did have to play a game that was, well, not my speed. I realize that I am so lucky to have these cool people in my life who can make me laugh and teach me things I didn’t know I needed to know (like that a Shield of Ubiquity has really awesome powers). I definitely feel sappy just thinking about it.
  4. Progress — I think part of the reason that I get emotional when I finish a race — no matter what my time — is that it shows my real progress. Finishing a race is so symbolic for how far I’ve come. And every single race means something to me. It’s so, so much more than the time on the clock. It’s about signing up for a race when I used to say “I should sign up.” It’s about standing out in the freezing cold waiting for a race to start when all I really want to do is go to the bookstore and sit by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa. It’s about cresting that first hill, the snow blowing in your face (snot streaming out of your nose) and seeing a line of runners in front of you and knowing there’s a line of them behind you, too. It’s about standing at the finish line with other racers and feeling like you’re part of something that’s pretty darn cool. I hope I always have that feeling when I cross the finish line — no matter how long the race is. I don’t ever want to take for granted what a cool thing it is to just finish a race, knowing you left part of yourself out on the race course because, golly, you wanted it bad enough.
  5. Hellos and Goodbyes — I love hellos. I love seeing people you don’t get to see on a daily basis. That first hug from my parents when I walk through the kitchen door immediately warms my soul — even in cold northern Michigan winters. Meeting up with an old friend I don’t see very often always brings a smile to my face. Hanging out with my sister, rather than relying on texts and Tumblr messages, brings me so much joy. I think it’s because sharing a past with someone is sharing part of your life’s story. And it’s a truly wonderful thing, knowing that they’ll always be part of your life because they’re part of your memories. Being with them helps me remember part of who I am. On the other side of the coin is the goodbyes. I hate them. Always have. Always will. I’m (nearly) 30 years old, and I still cry a bit when I leave home to go home. I don’t think it’s because I’m sad, though. It’s more like I’m grateful for the time we got to spend together and lucky because I know I’ll be back to do it all over again. I recognize that I’m blessed to have such a close relationship with most all of the members of my family. And it turns me into Sappy Sue sometimes to think about it.

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Friday Fears

In which I discuss five things that scare me:

  1. Being Alone — For the most part, I like my solitary time. I like spending an evening with a good book, a cup of tea and no one to answer to or take care of. I like being able to do what I want when I want to do it. But, when I come home from a trip or a visit to my parents’ house, I’m always a bit nervous when I open the door to my apartment — unsure what who I might find waiting for me behind the door (or, more likely, under my bed). And if I go to bed, read my book and then happen to accidentally think about The Dogman or murderers hiding just outside my bedroom window or angels watching me while I sleep, it freaks me out for just a few minutes before I fall asleep. (I know, I know, no more “NCIS” or “Law and Order: SVU” or “Criminal Minds” before bed, right?)
  2. Angels — Yeah, you read that right in #1. I’m a little scared of angels. Really, it’s not angels so much as it is the idea of an invisible being (spirit, essence, etc.) watching me and I don’t know about it. Sometimes I can feel a presence that makes me uncomfortable. I guess I prefer that it’s angels over the other things it could be, but it still scares me a little.
  3. Failure — I am scared of failure and the many forms it could potentially take. I wouldn’t say I’m a perfectionist, but … I’m kind of a perfectionist … in most areas of my life. I like to do my best and be the best at as many things possible. I always worked really hard in school — and my grades and the knowledge I gained show it. I give everything I’ve got to my job and put in the hours whenever and wherever I need to. I try to be the favorite daughter (heck, who am I kidding? I’m totally the favorite). Maybe it’s really a fear of disappointing people more than it’s a fear of failure. But I guess those two things are pretty deeply intertwined, though, too.
  4. The Dogman — Honestly, just going to the website long enough to copy and paste the link really scared me. This is a Northern Michigan legend started by the DJ at a country music station. It’s a “song” that the station typically only plays during the Halloween season or in the seventh year (read about the legend at the link, and you’ll see why the seventh year is significant). My very, super mean brothers always teased me and said The Dogman was real and was going to get me if I went outside at night (one of the verses of the song took place very near my parents’ house). But then I moved south and never had to hear that song again! Until … this year when one of the DJs at a local station visited my hometown and heard “The Legend of the Dogman” and started playing it on that station in my current town. This is one reason it’s a little hard for me to run/walk/EcoTrek at night. I’m scared of the stupid Dogman. But I’m working through it.
  5. Death — Not my death. Honestly, that doesn’t bother me. But I’m legitimately afraid of the day my parents die. I can’t imagine not having them around in my life. I fear that I’ll not have them at my wedding or see the joy on their faces when they play with my children. I fear that one of my siblings will die before they really know how much they mean to me. I don’t know who I am without my family. And I am afraid that one day I’ll have to find out.

Note: My sister reminded me of another fear as I was typing this entry. But, I don’t consider it a fear as much as I consider it a strong dislike: Ladybugs. I really cannot stand them. They’re gross and they mob windows and they leave a stinky little bit of yellow juice behind them wherever they go. They also land on you and just stick around. They’re totally gross. GROSS. Spiders I can handle. Snakes are no big deal. Worms and bugs and caterpillars — fine. But please keep the ladybugs away from me. Icky sticky.

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Thursday Thanks

In which I discuss five things that make me grateful.

  1. EcoTrek — Something’s going on this winter: I’m loving it! I’ve fallen in love with Michigan all over again, with a new sort of passion I’ve not felt for the state in the cold, dreary winter months. And, I’m pretty certain I owe a lot of that to EcoTrek. EcoTrek gets me out of my apartment and into the woods — rain or shine, day or night. I love the workout I get, as it introduces some really nice variety into my routine. But even more than that, I love being out in nature. Last night’s session was bitterly cold (my mouth froze so badly that I couldn’t move my lips to talk), but the sky was full of stars and the woods were crisp and fresh. I wouldn’t have traded it for the warmth of my couch.
  2. Good Books — I’m an avid reader. I’ve loved it since I was a wee tot. But my reading had taken a backseat to my “fitness” for awhile. Well, I’m rediscovering my love of literature through my 52 in 2011 book challenge. Honestly, there are some times I find it hard to peel my eyes from the pages to go to work in the morning or to bed at night. The power of a good book should never be overlooked.
  3. Family Time — I love my family and miss them dearly. Most of them live in my hometown, and I live about 2-1/2 hours south. So, I don’t go home super often in the winter. And, even at 30 years old and having lived away from home since I went away to college, I get homesick. Every time I have a trip home on the horizon, there’s a bit more pep in my step and joy in my heart. Because I know that — even at our most stressed — my family is the best group of people I’ll ever have the pleasure of spending time with.
  4. Hard Work — I’m thankful for hard work and for knowing that it pays off. I work hard in all I do, and I’ve benefited from that. And, yes, if people ask if I’d take a magic get-thin-quick pill, I’d say “no thanks” and get back to my workout. I think that through hard work, perseverance and making our own mistakes, we learn the most. We become better people by working hard. And there’s no substitute. So, I guess what I’m really thankful for here is that my parents took the time to teach me what “work ethic” really is and to have pride in all I do.
  5. Blood Tests — As much as I despise/fear/cry about having my blood drawn, I really am thankful when it’s over. I finally got the results back from the blood tests I had a few weeks ago (checking all the normal stuff plus my thyroid cuz I’m a coldie). My doctor said I’m the “picture of health” and that if she didn’t know me, she’d never have guessed that I used to be “extremely overweight.” She also reminded me that “women just are colder than men” and it’s something “average-sized” women just have to learn to deal with. So, picture of health? Oh yeah! Freezing all the time? Yep, that, too.

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Wednesday Wishes

In which I discuss five things I’m wanting:

  1. Balance — I’m working on finding a balance between losing weight/focusing on health and fitness and the rest of my life. To do this, I’ve started a 52 Book Challenge for 2011, so I have other goals unrelated to losing weight. I’ve also decided to start seeing a therapist to talk through some of these feelings/issues. In addition, I’m working on putting more focus on developing some social circles and refocusing on some of my friendships. I’m hoping these small steps will add up to something big.
  2. Romance — Yeah, I’m a big, sappy girl. I just want a little romance in my life. Candles, flowers, music, homemade dinners, dancing. I believe that, like magic, we can create our own romance. And I try: bubble baths, soothing tunes, cuddly blankets on the couch. But it’s almost always better with company.
  3. Play Day — I want a snow day so I can gather up a group of friends and family and go frolic in the snow. I want to wear snowpants and mittens and have cold, rosy cheeks. I want to build a snowman. I want to have a big bonfire. Oh, and there will definitely be hot cocoa — with marshmallows.
  4. World Peace — Now hear me out. I know this is lofty (and cliché), but it’s important. I am deeply saddened/ashamed/shocked every time I hear of another hate-filled occurrence somewhere in the world. Everything from bullying to war and random acts of violence to hate-filled speech. It’s disturbing and disgusting and it makes me sad for the state of our world. I believe in the power of love, of kindness, of respect, of understanding. And I believe that it starts with the individual.
  5. A New Purse/Bag — Yeah, another lofty “want” with some deep meaning. But, hey: my list, my rules. I’m wanting a purse that’s big enough to hold more than my wallet, my glasses and my small calendar. I want to be able to throw my book in my purse so it’s with me wherever I go. Oh yes, and I want it to be the super cutest.

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Tuesday Tensions

In which I discuss five things weighing on my mind:

  1. Therapy — I start my therapy/counseling/what-have-you on Thursday. And, while I’m looking forward to talking to an “outsider” about some of the issues weighing on my mind, I’m a bit nervous. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big “talker” when it comes to talking about me (surprising, I know). Plus, there’s that whole getting-to-know-you phase that’s always awkward.
  2. Work — Yeah, I love my job. But, there are days it can be stressful. This week is one of those weeks where my to-do list is growing faster than my got-it-done list. It’ll pass. I’ll work through it. But it’s one of those weeks.
  3. Family — Well, really, when isn’t family “stuff” on people’s minds. We all have our own battles and our own struggles — just as every family has its own challenges. My family is very close and can work through any issues that arise. But that doesn’t keep them from weighing (sometimes quite heavily) on my mind.
  4. Friends — I need to do a better job finding them, keeping them and staying in touch with them. It’s been bothering me lately that I don’t have a close-knit circle of girlfriends — which I recognized after spending some time with a group of women the other night who all were very close. It’d be nice to have that.
  5. Age — I would be lying (totally lying) if I didn’t say I was a little stressed about turning 30 next month. I know, I know, age is only a number (I’ve said it myself multiple times). For the most part, I believe that. I really do. And when I hear people complain about “being old,” I think how lucky we all are to have one more day on this planet — even if that means we’re one day older than the day before. I guess what stresses me out about 30 is the symbolism of the number. It just sounds so much older than 29. And I remember when my (much) older siblings turned 30 — it seemed so … well … old. I’ve accomplished a lot in my personal and professional life for someone who’s “just” 29. So, to a certain extent, I feel more mature than the age on my driver’s license. But that whole crossing-decades thing freaks me out a bit.

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Monday Mentionables

In which I discuss five random things about me:

  1. I’m a Country Mouse in the City — Born and raised on a generations-old fruit farm in northern Michigan, I will always be a country girl at heart. It’s just that my career has led me to live a city gal’s life. Well, kind of a city gal’s life — my office is located in Michigan’s “apple capital” and part of my job is agriculture-based. I enjoy the luxuries of city living (museums, lots of book stores, tons of things to do, delicious restaurants) but miss the things I used to take for granted in a small community (knowing most of the people you pass on the street; wide, open spaces; acres and acres to run and jump; the closeness of family …).
  2. I Believe in Love — I’m not particularly religious or spiritual, but I believe in the power of love. And I believe that if people filled their lives with love, things would be better. This means love for themselves, love for others, love for the earth, love for — well — everything. Be love. Do love. Give love.
  3. I’ll Never Stop Learning — If I could make a career out of being a full-time student, I’d be all over that so fast. I love school. I always have, and I always will. I get so jealous when I read other people writing about going back to classes, having homework (yeah, I’m a dork — I love homework), learning new things, reading textbooks … I double majored in journalism and anthropology in undergrad because I fell in love with the latter while studying the former. I earned my master’s degree while working 40-plus hours a week because I loved learning about integrated marketing so much. I’m even considering going back to school for something. But until then, I’ll always have my books.
  4. I’m A Mutt — I’ve always longed for some sort of a cultural connection, a shared community story. But, I’m pretty “American” by most standards. I am a mix of so many different cultural stories that there’s no one true heritage with which I identify. Polish? Yup. German? Yup. British? Yup. French? Yup. Dutch? Yup. Irish? Yup. Native American? Most likely. You name it, I got it. I love my family’s history — of coming to the U.S. and finding its way to the same farm we’re “settled” on today. But sometimes I long for more.
  5. I Love My Job — Even on the most stressful days (and in publishing, there are a lot of stressful days) I love my job. I love what I do; I love the audiences we cover; I love the products we produce; I love that I get to grow right along with the industry. Mostly, I love that this job allows me to challenge myself every day (see item #3). It also lets me combine my talents and my passions. Sometimes I feel like the world wants us to be miserable in our jobs and not happy where we are. But I will not make apologies for being happy with my present career.

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