winter nights

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The New Year is off and running and so am I. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get waaay more miles on my running shoes and I am laying down my base. I usually get to run 3-4 times a week so I’m trying to do a tempo run, an interval run, and an easy run and do more strength training. So far, the only event that I have on my radar is the Betsie Bay Frozen 5k which is in my parent’s neck of the woods (and my favorite place on earth) but I also have plans for a duathlon and a half marathon later this year.

The weather has been dicey, vacillating between precipitation of all kinds (we had thunder and lightning at Jax’s house Wednesday) and cold and then unseasonably warm for a stretch, so the best course of action is to plan indoor activities. Knitting and reading and watching Netflix & Amazon are my fallbacks. I blew through “The Night Manager” and now have a huge and uneasy crush on Tom Hiddleston – uneasy because he has a quality that reminds me strongly of the fellow I dated before Jax – and then started immediately on “The Kettering Incident” which takes place in Tasmania. My ex husband & I spent a strange week driving around Tasmania in a camper van and parts of it are exceptionally otherworldly and odd. I would highly recommend both shows.

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I completed my first hat for the Pussyhat Project and am working on a second one – the first one it seems shall be worn by yours truly at the Lansing march and the other will be worn by my bestie. 


I also finished a pair of mittens with some alpaca mill ends that I bought over 10 years ago during my first and only visit to Rhinebeck. I’m thinking I may need to revisit Rhinebeck this year…my stash can always use an infusion.

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I also got some yarn and needles in the mail and I know I purchased them for a specific project but after sifting through my bookmarks and Pinterest board I cannot for the life of me find what I had in mind. Sigh. I’m getting old.

Lil has been getting her “make” on too and took delivery of the bowl she made at a birthday party before the holidays. I am really thrilled with how it turned out and think she might have a future in ceramics. 🙂

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I hope all of this making is enough to distract me from the inauguration festivities this week. I am still truly sickened by our President-elect and his cabinet nominees and feel a lot of pain that a large segment of the American people felt that he was the appropriate choice to lead our country. I am engaging in principled dissent against this regime and won’t be watching any of it. I’m not alone in this…our Brownie troop leader pulled the moms out in the hallway during the most recent meeting and told us about an “Inauguration Patch” that the girls could earn if they watched the ceremony and answered questions about it. Our troop looks like the United Nations and the moms are a pretty diverse and outspoken bunch. We looked at each other and one mom, who belongs to an ethnic group that our President-elect has mocked and maligned on many occasions, immediately looked stricken and said, “I don’t think T. needs that patch, we can skip that one. You guys go ahead.” There was no hesitation from the rest of us when we told her in no uncertain terms that our girls didn’t need that patch, either.

The troop leader loves patches and I could sense her distress at the conflict between having to skip a patch and having to watch the inauguration. Then she brightened and said, “There’s another patch we could do instead. How about a White House patch? The girls can learn about the history of the White House instead.”

We all agreed that this was a great alternative and our girls came out from the meeting where they had (ironically) learned about bullying, how to avoid and address it. We went out to the parking lot, cold and dark under a sky full of stars, and I wondered uneasily when our girls would have to learn about the concept of speaking truth to power.

dieting.

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lunchtime run + meditation time at the botanical gardens; treasure the weather while it lasts.

So I’m back counting calories and steps with my trusty My Fitness Pal. I launched quite a diet & exercise offensive earlier this summer, in order to be able to wear a bikini on our vacation in North Carolina, but with several weeks of tracking, I really only lost about 3 lbs. I was relieved to give it up after vacation and go back to eating and drinking whatever I damn well felt like. Unfortunately, this has resulted in the 3 lbs coming back on, as well as a little extra.

I’ve always had a good metabolism and weight was never much of a worry for me until about the last year and a half. When I started running a lot in 2010, my body changed, became much leaner. Then, after several years, everything evened out  my body got used to all of that running and exercising, and adjusted accordingly. I’ve gone from, at my lowest, most unhealthy point, about 20 lbs under my ideal weight to about 10 lbs over that ideal weight since I turned 40.

Well, I thought to myself, training for my half ought to help this situation. Turns out it hasn’t.

Portion control, meal preparation and planning, and careful assessment of my nutritional mix plus daily exercise – that’s what works for me. I use Map My Run and My Fitness Pal to track my calories and plan my meals. I like seeing my daily food diary laid out so I can ensure that I am getting what I need – protein, whole grains, fruits & veggies, and enough water. Map My Run syncs with My Fitness Pal so when I log workouts, I see the calories come off my day, and I can make adjustments.

The problem with all of this is that food equals happiness and comfort and satisfaction for me. I don’t eat a lot of junk food. I don’t eat fast food more than once every couple of months, I don’t drink soda, I don’t eat bags of potato chips or cookies. But I do love cheese, and if I want to smash up an avocado and eat it on toast or with crackers, or mixed in pasta with red pepper flakes and pesto and olive oil, I want to be able to do that. I love red wine and pizza and bread, and after I run at lunchtime, I like wandering down to the cafeteria and having the chef whip me up a veggie and cheese quesadilla with a big handful of thick kettle chips. I like ice cream and pie a couple times a week. I feel like my mental issue is that I’m not a terrible eater – by and large I like healthy things, but I like them ALL THE TIME. In order to succeed in losing weight, I have to change my mindset from seeing food as self-love to seeing it as fuel, which is extremely dissatisfying.
But things must be done and so for the foreseeable future I will be packing lunch for myself (I don’t love processed food, but a Healthy Choice or Lean Cuisine at lunch helps keep me on track – typically I only choose the vegetarian options, and actually a couple of them – these and these – are pretty good) and planning my meals on my little phone apps and trying to move more and drink more water and not turn into a shrieking harpy because I can’t have my Dove chocolate or large pour of cab sav.

why i run

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this picture doesn’t have much to do with the substance of this post except that in about three weeks I will be running past these lakes and no doubt wishing i was dead.

I’m a little over three weeks out from my half and have a 10-miler under my belt. At this point in my training, I am sick of running and my 10-miler did not improve my outlook much. At mile 7, it was a struggle even to keep to an easy pace and Jax, who hasn’t run more than five miles in the last two years, finally got tired of my pace and glided ahead to smoke me by over a minute per mile.

While up north over Labor Day, we drove my race route and I remembered / noted the fact that the entire first half is uphill.  I will likely miss my long run this week, and will finish up my training with a 12-miler, followed by a 10-miler, then a taper. My paces are slower, my endurance is less, and it’s certain that this race will not be a PR. In fact, I honestly don’t know if I can ever come close to that magic number again. Every year, it gets harder to hit those marks.

Regardless, I am keeping a positive outlook. Coming back from my stress fracture has forced me to reframe my reasons for running and to try to focus on the silver linings rather than my deficiencies. Why do I run? I love being outside; I would never get out and see as much of the world if I didn’t run. I like the warm afterglow of accomplishment. I love events, the running community; I love strong legs and having time to myself, alone. I love the little victories where I improve. I will no doubt be incredibly disappointed in October if I can’t break 2 hours, but I am also trying to tell myself that it’s better to run and have room for improvement than not to run at all.

flesh wounds

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miss l left foxy at jax’s house and this is what greeted me when i showed up to ride bikes.

A colleague saw the pictures of my duathlon on Instagram, and congratulated me. I demurred and told her about the bike, and was overheard by another colleague. It turns out this colleague’s wife is a cyclist, and had an old road bike she wasn’t using any longer. Long story short, I was able to purchase a great Cannondale for an absolute song. It’s 18 years old, but it’s been completely rebuilt, and looks beautiful.
Last week, during a minor break in the killing heat, Jax got out his road bike and we went for a spin together. Jax has done several triathlons, and in general, is a superior athlete. He picked a 14 mile out-and-back paved bike trail, which was blessedly quite flat and smooth, and he proceeded to push me pretty hard to keep up with him.
My duathlon mph was pretty shoddy, so Jax set a pace that was more aggressive than that. We determined that I could have taken about 10 minutes off my time if I’d been able to keep that pace. At this point, we were clipping along between 15 & 16 mph and I could barely hear him when he spoke to me. I kept abreast of him until we came up on others on the trail, at which point he would move in front so I could draft and catch my breath.
We reached our turnaround point, where the path ran between two small lakes. It was lovely, rather isolated, with the sun setting over the trees, and Jax apparently called back over his shoulder that he was stopping at the next bench. Unfortunately, drafting behind him as I was, I didn’t hear him. And, accustomed to my mountain bike, where the brakes are in a different position on the handlebars, when he slowed to a stop in front of me, my reaction time just wasn’t there.
I shifted to the left to avoid hitting him and lost control. I went down more or less on my right side, with my hand out in front of me. I felt the impact on the outside of my knee, hip, shoulder, and hand, but the crack of my helmeted head hitting the pavement was the stunner.
I lay there for awhile looking up into the sky, turning rose gold with sunset, and evaluating. Jax extricated me from my bike and I came to the conclusion that although my head hurt, and I was bleeding from several scrapes, nothing was broken. There was a rough moment when I thought I might throw up, but after a few moments I recovered enough to turn around and head back.
Seven miles with a bruised hand and blood running from various skin rips and tears isn’t fun, and I felt slow and sorry for myself for the first few minutes. Then, anxious at the impending dusk and the lack of streetlights along the path, Jax said, “You’re going SIX MILES AN HOUR. It’s going to be dark by the time we get back!” and I got mad and upped my pace. Although he raced ahead at 22-23 mph for a mile or two, I held steady at around 19 for the last few miles, and by the time we got back to the car, I was feeling the endorphin rush and more than a little impressed at my wounds, as well as the fact that I hadn’t cried.

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We stopped at the local gas station for celebratory Slurpees and it was the best thing I’d ever tasted.

sentence per picture- up north Independence Day edition 

the water around frankfort is finally warming so that no one’s lips turn blue after swimming.

a few old beautiful things.

after cake and ice cream, we walked the breakwater to the lighthouse in the slanting glare of sunset.

miss l & jax descended the steep dune to swim in the waves fully dressed

of course, then they had to climb back up!

the beautiful glen lakes as seen from pierce stocking in the sleeping bear.

no idea what a chub is but the smokehouse in frankfort’s got them.

Happy 4th to all. xoxo

There aren’t many good quotes about Omaha.

  
The two hours that Miss L and I spent manning a Girl Scout cookie booth this weekend seemed to swell and fill up THE ENTIRE WEEKEND. When we got home all we could do was nosh on turkey chili and talk about how much our feet hurt and then go to bed.

All too soon it was Monday and I was on a flight to Omaha. As usual, I ended up between someone who was too large for their seat and so had to take up half of mine (I don’t judge or hold a grudge; anyone who is tall or big-boned is ill-suited to the third world conditions of domestic air travel) and a sick person who did not bother to disguise the non-stop mucus clearing on her side of the armrest. Nor the fact that she was bored and blatantly ogling my Mah Jongg game.

But we landed safely and I made my way to my hotel. I actually really like Omaha. I am a Midwest girl and being in such a place is comforting. The space, the old architecture, the mellowness. Unfortunately the difference between EST and CST always creates a bit of havoc so I inadvertently scheduled a meeting at one of our facilities (an hour and a half away) for 8AM tomorrow.

First, though, before collapsing into am anonymous scratchy hotel chain bed, I ventured to Old Market for chow. Q had nearly strong-armed me toward a weird hipster bar, whilst making his measured restaurant recommendations, and in the face of my demurrals, at the last minute crossly gave me a lower-key secondary option. So I Ubered to Plank Seafood. Oysters are the specialty but I went with fish tacos (really nice). 

Then, feeling that dissatisfaction in my tumicular region, I asked the waiter for a dessert rec. It was between raspberry cobbler and Bananas Foster bread pudding. He made the call.

  
I don’t even like bananas all that much and this dessert was utter perfection.

I love Uber and on the way back to the hotel, I was picked up by my all-time fave (now) driver. He was a tatted, muscled young stud with a sleek BMW. I got in and he instantly confessed that it was only his second night driving. He’d signed up to be a driver while his partner was deployed- Air Force. He was a little lost and after a few minutes getting straight where I needed to be, he showed me a ring and said happily that he had proposed to his boyfriend and the wedding was set for September. Ahead, the bright lights of my hotel loomed and we beamed at each other in the rear view. 

“I wish you and your partner a lifetime of happiness!” I said, clambering out, full of camaraderie and bread pudding.

“Thanks Sara!” he said, and it made me feel like traveling is a very good thing indeed.