Friday, January 14, 2011

My new survival strategy: run away!

Around New Year's time, I joke around with my friends that I don't make resolutions, as I am constantly striving for self-improvement. If there is something you see about yourself or your life that needs changing, why wait until the New Year to go for it? I'm thinking most of it has to do with procrastination or with the new year being the time for beginnings, but personally, I take a "no time like the present" attitude. So when I needed a way to step up my workout routine last November, I didn't put it off until January 1. I just dove right in and started the Couch to 5K program.

Now I have never been a runner. Like most pudgy smart kids, my least favorite part of the school day was Gym. Running around the track for 20 minutes was not my idea of a good time, mostly because I hated running. First you start panting, then your legs start complaining, then you get that "my tongue is bleeding" sensation in your mouth until you finally have to stop because you are gasping for air. I've never had a problem walking; stick me on a treadmill and I'll go until next Tuesday, but I have never ever been a runner.

Which made my secret adult goal all the more unobtainable. Because I was always so lousy at sports (or really any physical activity), I have never been able to run a mile. Since so many of my friends consistently participate in 5Ks, marathons, and even triathlons, this wasn't a goal that I went around sharing. After all, it's embarrassing--never in my life having been able to run a mile. But when I started working out a lot last April, in the back of my head I always had a little voice saying, "wouldn't it be nice if I could one day run a whole mile?" So when my friend Andi suggested that we start the Couch to 5K program I was up for it. I needed to up my game, and maybe, just maybe, I could get myself to that mile mark.

Those first few weeks were hard. When week 3 demanded that I run for 3 minute increments, I thought I would fall right off the treadmill. But slowly, my body began to build up its endurance. Soon I was running for 5 minute intervals, then 8, and then, this week, I did the impossible. I ran for an entire mile! Sure, I'm not going fast (it took me 13 minutes), but you know what? I don't care! A year ago, I never would have thought I would be able to go that long, and the weird thing was, I felt strong. As in, physically strong. I have NEVER had a lot of confidence in my body's strength, it's always been my brain that I relied on, but at the end of that mile (despite sweating like crazy and doing the panting thing) I felt good. I felt strong. It's always great to achieve a goal, but for some reason this feeling of accomplishment is one of the best ever.

Next up: getting off the treadmill and running that mile outside. Let's just say that hills are not my friends, but hey, no time like the present, right?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The case of the missing iPod

Well, I thought things were off to a good start. I had remembered all the usual important things: federal ID badge (a must when travelling for work), rubber fingers for flipping through page after countless page of the claims files, my phone, my sleepmask and ear plugs...I thought I had everything I would need to make my week-long work trip in Waco, Texas go without a hitch. But I had forgotten one thing.

My iPod.

I know what you're thinking. "Oh, what a tragedy," you say with your eyes rolling. "To be without your iPod for an entire week. How will you possibly survive? Might as well just go back home and give up since there is no way to function an entire week without an iPod." And it's true that an iPod is not really one of the basic necessities of life. Not like water, or clothing, or chocolate. But as soon as I realized I had forgotten it (it was still sitting in my living room inside the bag I had taken down to the gym), I started thinking of all the things I needed it for. Listening to podcasts at the airport and on the plane. Keeping my brain entertained while running on the treadmill. Cutting out the ambient noise when I spent 8 hours a day briefing cases in a windowless room at the Regional Office all week. And without my iPod, I was also missing the most important accessory: my headphones. All that careful planning to bring my netbook and an attachable DVD player...for naught. For one cannot watch movies on an airplane without headphones.

I responded by taking the action any thirty-something yuppie would--I posted about my problem on Facebook. Within a few minutes, my friend Moe had replied that at least I still had Pandora on my phone. And all of a sudden, my situation was not as hopeless as it seemed! I could still listen to Pandora (an internet radio station) and then I remembered that I had moved my workout mix over to my phone so I could listen to it while using the Couch to 5K app. Things were looking up! Add in a quick trip to the airport store where I procured a pair of purple headphones and we were back in business.

Except the headphones didn't work. Well, I should clarify. One of the ear buds worked, but from the other? Nada. I couldn't get the volume up loud on the netbook enough to make it audible out of the one ear bud, and OF COURSE the shows I was trying to watch didn't have captions. Which is really ridiculous when you consider that they were both British and you would think they would assume us yanks would have no idea what they were saying. Stephen Fry, I am most disappointed in you.

I also thought that perhaps there would be headphones available on the airplane, because it's an airplane, but nope. Apparently American Airlines doesn't bother to equip their flights from DC to Dallas with any kind of audio or video entertainment so that was a no go.

So here I am, at 25,000 feet, composing a blog post (in Microsoft Note Pad because my netbook doesn't have Word), trying to kill the remaining hour of time until we arrive in Dallas. Soon I'll go back to reading my bookclub book (The Help, which is actually quite good), but for now I will just keep typing in the hopes it will make the time go by faster. Look at that, 12 minutes gone by without me even trying.

This is going to be a long week. Also, I want my money back for these damn jacked up headphones...but I'm not really sure how to go around it. After all, I'm about 4 states away from the airport store by now. And I just learned that it's snowing in Texas. Snowing. IN TEXAS.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Simply having a quiet Christmas time

Come closer, gentle readers. I am going to tell you a secret of blogging that most people never learn.

Seriously, come closer.


Ok, that's good.

The great irony of blogging is that to have something to blog about, you have to go out and do fun and awesome things. But if you are out doing fun and awesome things, you are not blogging. You see? Catch-22. I suppose you could have a blog that is about sitting at home on your ass watching Netflix movies through your Wii and drinking $5 wine, but how many people do you think really want to read that. Answer: none.

So my blog has basically gone dark for a few weeks, but the reason is because it was the holidays and I was, you know, out with my friends and family. I can promise that you that I was not sitting at home watching Netflix movies and doing nothing. No, that's only what I have done since New Years.

So how was my Christmas? It was nice and quiet, thanks for asking. My brother and sister-in-law were not at home this year, so it was just us local folks. The holiday followed its usual schedule: Christmas Eve with Dad and the Rileys and Christmas Day with my Mom. My Mom chose not to do a tree again this year, so we had Christmas at my place. We tried to class things up by making cinnamon rolls from scratch and drinking pumpkin martinis, but really it was just hanging out all day. Until the evening when we went out to dinner with my friends Chris and Kent.

And before you ask: no, we did NOT have Chinese food. We went to the Chart House in Old Town and defied the Jewish stereotype thankyouverymuch.

The real highlight of Christmas this year owes a thanks to the wonders of technology. Even though Bill and Amanda couldn't be home, we all signed for Skype and were able to open presents and hang out a bit over the internet. If you haven't used Skype, it's really quite amazing. The other person can be on the other side of the world, but it does feel like you are sitting together chatting. Except for the whole not being able to hug them part, which is kind of a bummer. But it's better than nothing!

So that sums up Christmas. I might do a post about New Years, because there were many shenanigans, but I've been feeling the midwinter blues lately so we'll see if I get around to it. But I do promise to post about adventures in making cinnamon rolls since I took pictures and everything!