We took a break from house stuff “during the holidays” and then “until the suberbowl is over”….

Well, our arbitrary deadline has come.  Make ready, friends.  We have armed ourselves with power tools and a vague idea of what we would like to do.

Our main “winter project” is replacing the crown molding, trim, and door casings (I did not know what a door casing was until a week ago).  Then, we are either going to replace or refinish our interior doors.  We must finish all of this before it is warm outside, because when spring arrives we have a full plate of overly ambitious outdoor projects to tackle.  We’ve done a lot of painting and such, but this is our first project that involves a saw.  It is a pretty big step.

And I am obviously qualified to be doing all of this.

So today we began prying the 70 year old crown molding off the walls.  It was a little stubborn, thanks to the 30 bazillion coats of lead paint fusing it to the wall.  And once you start, there is no going back.

Don’t worry.  I shan’t allow the kitties to snack on my paint chips.

Sunday is splendid simply because it is not M-F, yes? 

Three things I did on this fine non-work day:

1. I went for a run in the snow.

All week I have been pumped for outside running.  The forecast called for upper 40s today.  I thought surely the snow would melt and the sun would shine.

The snow did not get the memo, though, and we slogged along in slush.  I run in Nike Frees, which are basically slippers and do not repel any water whatsoever.  Ahhhh, winter.  I feel like it just started a week ago, but… is it over yet?

2.  I’ve been trying to grow out my hair.  I’m not very good at this.  When you are growing out a pixie cut, there is a point at which your hair looks like both a mullet and a fro.  I could not hang.

Farewell, pixie-mullet-fro.  Maybe next time?

3.  I am super stressed out.  And for the last few weeks I have been having some serious stress-related stomach issues.  I feel like having physical stress symptoms crosses some sort of line, so I’m trying to reduce my stress level.  If anyone has any tips, I’m all ears.  Flipping my desk and quitting my job, or disowning my entire family are not prefered solutions, though. 

Obviously, I try to get enough exercise.  I’m sorry to say that my stomach definitely interfered with my workouts this week, which is hilarious.  I’ve been too stressed for stress relief!  I’ve started trying to do a lot of house stuff on Sunday to free up more weeknight time.  For example, I’ve been making all of the week’s meals on Sunday.  I haven’t decided if I’m making my weeknights better, or if I’m just making my Sundays more stressful.  The jury is still out on this one.

I think my body is probably telling me I need to watch more bad TV.  No problem, body.  No problem at all..

 For your entertainment, I present… my resolution list.  Nine days late.  I guess they are resolutions, anyway.  I’m pretty confused about the concept of resolutions.  But… you know what I mean.  So, voila: 

1.  I must sleep more.  This has been on my to-do list for a decade.  I truly believe I could conquer the world if I were just well rested.

2.  Dvesha.  As you know, last year I struggled a lot with attachment (raga).  Lately, I recognize the role that aversion (Dvesha) plays in unhappiness as well.  I am a fairly pleasant person.  Really, it’s true.  But, sometimes some people and things ANNOY THE EVERLOVING BEEJESUS OUT OF ME.  Like, everyone in the grocery store on Sunday afternoon.  Colleagues.  Those family members.  You know which ones I’m talking about. 

Taking it a step further, there are some things and people in our world that are very worthy of hatred.  Poverty.  Murderers.  Dictators.  You get the idea.

I’ve read that the proper response to evil is indifference.  If you manage your reaction to evil, you are not tainted by it.  I have trouble making this happen in my own life, however.  To me, the proper response to evil (or, grocery stores) has been fuming hatred and annoyance.  Of course, the problem with fuming hatred and annoyance is that it sticks with you all the time.  It’s a lot of work.  Personally, this causes me to avoid things or people that I find irritating, which is….. wait for it….. irritating.  This is not happiness.

A wise Swami once said:

It is only the removal of the currents of Dvesha that will give you happiness. It is the Vritti or thought-wave that gives pain but not the objects. Hence try to destroy the current of Dvesha by deve loping cosmic love and Brahma-bhavana or Isvara -bhavana in all objects. Then the whole world will appear to you as the Lord in manifestation. The world or the worldly object is neither good nor bad, but it is your lower instinctive mind that makes it good or bad. Remember this point well, always. Do not find fault with the world or the objects. Find fault with your own mind.

If you cannot change the world, you change your reaction.  It is my goal to be untouched by these things.  This may be my loftiest goal, yes?

3.  I need to make some tough decisions regarding my career.   Aaaaaaand, I’ll leave it at that.

4.  I SHALL RUN.  I’m beginning a new training cycle this month.  I’m going to take it as far as I can and see where I end up.  I cannot proclaim that I will run a marathon in May or October or whatever.  I know too much by now to be that sure!  But I can say that if I do not make it, it will be for a good reason.  It will not be because I didn’t make it a priority.

I feel like I continue to try and fail at this an embarrassing number of times.  I don’t care, though.  My failure is not nearly as lame as not doing something that I want to just because it is not a slam dunk.  So here we go again.

(KRISTI GAVE ME A SHIRT WITH THUMB HOLES!!)

5.  I read a lot.  And, since I finished school, I READ WHATEVER I WANT.  Yeah, it has been a wild few years, folks.  But, lately, I feel like I have no focus or reason to read anything different.  I read things I know that I’ll love and I don’t try anything new.

I’ve created a little challenge for myself.  This year, I’m going to read two books from each decade of the 20th century.   I will choose these from a list of bestsellers and historically significant books from each decade.  This only adds up to twenty books, so there will still be pleeeeeenty of time for other reading.  Also?  I bet there is no wait for these books at the library.  Join me, fellow book nerds!

So, that is it for the list.  I’m really looking forward to this year.  We have so many house projects and fun things planned.  Things are looking up.  I really feel like these are some of the best years of my life.  I feel super lucky to realize it, too.

Friends, I hope you are having a tremendous holiday season.

(Maybe I need to ask Santa for a new camera next year?)

My blog has been woefully neglected, but there has not been much to report.  Three weeks ago, I face planted while running outside.  Aside from minor hand scrapes, the only thing I did was bang up my knees and badly scrape my right knee.  I feel pretty lucky, but it turns out that not having skin on your right knee sort of puts the kabosh on running and yoga.  So, I’ve been waiting for that to heal and doing unexciting exercise at the rec center.  That is why there has not been anything blogworthy on the running front.  It is healing nicely, but part of my right knee is numb.  Weird, yes? 

Oh, and that all happened in broad daylight too.  On the sidewalk.  While all my neighbors were putting up their Christmas decorations.  But, like I said, aside from pride and my only pair of  running tights, nothing was permanently damaged!

The rest of our energies this month were spent airing grievances, completing festivus feats of strength, working, traveling, shopping, eating santa-shaped chocolates, and merry-making.  Looking forward to some blissful, unplanned weekends after the holiday crazy.

First, who is well-outfitted but too old to be enjoying herself this much at a vampires-werewolves romance?

 

This girl.  Also?  My intern from last summer gave this shirt.  Interns are the coolest.

Moving on. 

My least favorite room in our house is probably the bathroom.  It is small and needs some upgrades (when our toilet was installed, Kennedy was president!)… oh, and it has black and white tiles.  Retro.  Oddly enough, I’m not so into retro bathrooms.  I’m into really fancy modern bathrooms that only LOOK retro because of the giant claw foot tub.  Someday I will have such a tub, people.  I will have that tub and Mike shall have one of those bowl sinks.  Count on it.

But if I’ve learned one thing in my house adventures thus far it is that things look much better when you don’t try to make them something that they are not.  This is not a modern house.  Such a bathroom would be out of place.

And so I shall not tear out the tile.

Anyway, this is “phase one” of the bathroom.  We will have to gut it in a few years when we run the plumbing upstairs for a master bath.  Mike took the before pictures, so they are a little random.  Please note how inappropriately beige this room was.

All neutrals = sad Laura.

Also, towel racks everywhere.

The obvious thing to do was paint it all alien green, right?

We added a cabinet.  Installation took Mike  a solid 90 min of swearing.  Oh, plaster.

We eliminated towel bars in favor of hooks.

So, there you have it.

a more tolerable bathroom 🙂

Oooooh, it’s getting colder out there!

Also?  The most unsafe night-running outfit ever.. especially with the addition of the ipod.

I think it is time for a (bright) winter running wardrobe upgrade!

I’ve been yoga-ing more than running lately, but I am craving a good run.  My heart is in it, but I’ve had dead legs for weeks now.  My muscles feel stiff and weak.  So exhausted and bleh!  I don’t know if my thyroid levels are too low or if I’m just depressed because I hate my job… but I am in a serious funk.  Also, it is dark…all. the. time.  I go to the doc on Friday, so maybe he will give me some more of the good stuff!

Speaking of good stuff, a birthday shout out to Z. Koodles.

YEAH, I know my cat’s birthday.  She is 8.  That is distressing (to me.. she is rather indifferent). 

Don’t get old and unkempt, Zoe.  I like you the way you are.  Stay gold, Zoecat, stay gold.  😦

Last night, this happened:

 

No, no, that isn’t a ghost or a fairy or a vampire, or anything paranormal at all.  That is just my beautiful porcelain complexion.  Happy 1st 29th birthday, Jennifer! 

Today, this is going to happen:

Bulb planting!  A certain Snaggler gifted me these puppies.  So nice to have a surprise package that is not bomb or anthrax related!

After reading the instructions, I am aware that I should be slightly concerned about critters eating my bulbs. 

Of course, I thought they meant chipmunks…. not house cats.

I should probably also do some raking.  Our house is under major leaf attack.  Guard cats are on high alert.

It is very alarming, indeed.

Maybe also…. a run??  Big day!  Huge day!

spoiler alert:  we finished the half and all my limbs are intact.  You can stop holding your breath.  🙂

I had been feeling slow and unprepared and blah about the race leading up to it.  Finally, a couple of days beforehand, I got over myself.  Lots of friends were coming into town for the race (from as far as Texas!), people were coming out to cheer for me, and I am healthy and able to participate.  These are good things.  I let myself get excited,

The expo was lame except that we ran into our friends Matt and Jenn as we were on our way out!  Also, I bought a yellow bondi band.  I’ve wanted a bondi band for a very, very long time.On race day, we got up at the delightful hour of 5:45am (ugh) and battled the Sunday morning marathon traffic downtown.  We walked at least a mile to the start, but it was a good warm-up.  I decided to wear my compression sleeve on my right calf.  Placebo effect.

A couple got married at the start line.  Some band sang “Born to Run” (I felt like this was sort of an awkward moment, but I’m a pretty awkward person).  There were fireworks and then we were off.

Well, we were off after we hopped the fence into our corral.  Too many people to fit into the corrals!  The first few miles were fine.  We were doing 10 min miles, which is kind of fast for me to maintain for 13 miles so I started to feel sort of fussy around mile 4.  I decided I needed some ipod action BUT THE DAMN THING WOULD NOT FUNCTION IN MY HOUR OF NEED.  Seriously, it would not work.  Devestating.

Just when I feel really desperate, I spot my friends Stacey and Stu.  They were running the full marathon like rock stars.  We chatted a bit, then they took off.  I also saw some familiar faces in the crowd, which gave me such a boost.  I had a Gu at mile 4 and mile 7.  I tried to have a little water at most stations, but I almost felt like it was too much.

At mile 7 we were passed by a man wearing a full gorilla suit.  Some people had been yelling “go gorilla!” for awhile, but I thought they meant “go ape!” or something.  I did not realize there was an actual gorilla man behind me!  Miles 8-11 were the worst.  There were less crowds.  I saw 4 people collapsed and getting oxygen (so awful).  I don’t know what the deal was, but I felt like I saw a lot more people go down during this race than any of my others.  By mile 11, I was really glad to see Kristi.

OH MY GOD SHE MADE ME A SIGN!  I FEEL FAMOUS!

When you are slow, time becomes irrelevant, and there is no reason not to stop and chat with a friend.

The last few miles were about what you would expect.  At mile 12, I was passed by THE EXACT SAME old man speedwalker who passed me in my half marathon last August.  I am happy to report that he passed me much earlier on in the race last year.  Progress.

Alas, we completed 13.1.

The post-race food was super lame.  I can’t eat much after running anyway (and when I do, it is a mistake), but where were the bananas here?  Gatorade?  You can’t feed runners generic cheetos and snack cakes.  That is disgusting.  I’m sure marathoners don’t become marathoners by eating that garbage.  Rant over.

We met up with Matt & Jenn & Matt’s parents to watch our marathoner friends finish the race.  I got to see Katherine, Stacy, and Stu finish!

Now, I think I have been downplaying the half marathon distance in my head lately.  It isn’t the distance I want to be running (marathon), but it isn’t easy.  This race reminded me that 13.1 is tough.  It almost makes 26.2 feel impossible.  It almost makes me want to give up.

Do you know the best place to go when you start to feel like you should give up on ever doing 26.2?  The 26th mile marker of a marathon.  Everyone is so incredible–first time marathoners with tears running down their faces, marathoners finishing their 30th marathon, just really incredible people.  It is the kind of club you want to join.

One of the things that I don’t like about running is that I’m not very good at it.  And sometimes it is hard to keep doing something that you aren’t very good at, especially when people are timing you and discussing those times.  After every race I sort of feel down about being so slow, after all this running I’ve done.  I can run about an 11min mile for long distances, and when you add water breaks and spectator chats… that is pretty slow.  I know I’m running faster than all the people not running and all that, but.. nobody is asking them about their race times either, you know?

So, by Sunday night I’m all exhausted and feeling sort of discouraged about whether I can ever whip myself into marathon shape and whether I’ll ever be able to put up a decent time in any sort of race whatsoever.  I’ve been reading Meditations from the Mat lately.  A passage about avidya really spoke to me:

The fear that drives us away from ourselves is rooted in our spiritual ignorance–we do not know who we really are.  If we did, we would realize that there is nothing to fear.  We would know that we are everything we have always hoped we would be but never believed we could be.  It is this never believing that is the problem, for with it comes an endless array of compensations.  And with each action that stems from this misinformation, we are ensnared more deeply in our illusions.  

The good news is that we are who we are.  We are an aspect of the divine spirit, and this will always be true… I believe that those of us who practice yoga have been sent to yoga by our pain. . We have grown tired of our perfectionism, our unhappy relationships with our bodies, our endless resentments or sorrows, our sense that we could become greater but are somehow blocked.  Many of us have considerable good fortune.  We were blessed with the nice smile, the right education, the right opportunities.  We may have loving partners, good work, healthy families.  Yet we’ve found that arranging our externals in just the right way doesn’t bring the happiness we hoped it would.  The resting place always seems to be just over the next hill.  And we have grown tired.

We come to yoga in the grip of avidya.  We come to yoga having forgotten where we come from and who we are.  On our mats, we find the truth.  We are of God and there are no problems.  We are the solution.

Amazing little book, by the way.  I recommend it for calming before-bed reading and thinking.  So, reading this it becomes obvious that I am viewing my running entirely as a problem that needs to be fixed:  I am slow.  I get injured a lot.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to run a marathon.  My feet are flat.  I have asthma.  I have electrolyte issues.  I AM SO FREAKING SLOW.

There is so much more peace in saying:  I am exactly who I should be.  I am exactly where I should be.  11 min miles is the perfect pace for me right now.  I will run a marathon exactly when I should.  If I listen to my inner voice, then things will turn out exactly how they should.

I imagine this inner voice, the “truth” as its called, would certainly not guide me to run on a broken leg.  It would also probably also not tell me to quit running just because I am afraid of being slow.  The truth is probably very sensible.

So I trudge on.  Well, I WILL trudge on.  There hasn’t been much trudging this week.  I came down with cold/fever/awfulness one day after the race and spent a couple days in bed.  My body is pretty sure I am trying to kill it, I think.  I am much better now.  Rest and fun this weekend–trudging to commence next week!

OH AND SNAGGS AND MR SNAGGS ARE COMING TO VISIT!!

We are a few days from the half and I maybe less than thrilled.  Maaaaybe I am even nervous.

You see, I didn’t really follow a training plan so much this time.

And, I’m REALLY a plan type of person.

I think I’m okay with long runs, but I stopped running so much about two weeks ago when my leg started acting up.  I’m not injured, but I could be if I pushed it.

This is obviously way different than my run-until-something-breaks approach that I’ve used in the past.  This is a new, more cautious me.  BUT, what I’ve gained in healthy muscle tissue I have lost in confidence.

What works best?  I have no idea.  Maybe we’ll know after Sunday?!

In other news, there are lots of things going on around the house.  This week, I am working on the bathroom’s sugared lime facelift.  Also, Mike finally let me spray paint something sparkly blue (OHMYGAWD I WANT TO SPRAY PAINT EVERYTHING), young house love style (a table).  We also have things on the walls now.

And mike added a finishing touch to his favorite room.

As a wise man once told me…  the party is in the basement.

Yessir.

… like the doodah man. 

Or, the doodah couple..?

(PS: I hope you have that song stuck in your head all day now.  You’re welcome.)

(PPS: Woah, sweaty.)

We’re still trudging along in our half training, despite the lack of running updates on the blog.  We are out there, burning up the trails at a slow to moderate pace.

Instead of giving a tedious recap of our most recent training run, I will let you draw your own conclusions based on the following numbers.

Number of miles run: 10

Number of times I quit the sport of running out loud in the first mile: 1

Number of times I thought about quitting the sport of running in the first mile: Infinite.

Number of times we had to stop so Mike could pick a bug out of my eye: 4

Number of times I had to stop to spit out the bugs in my mouth: 3

Number of times I should have stopped to spit out bugs but did not have the energy to be bothered: 2

Miles run before I sweated off my body glide and began full body chafing: 6.5

Percentage of the last 2 miles that was uphill: 100%

Number of post-run cookies: 3

Number of post-run glasses of water: 4

Number of post-run glasses of “recovery” wine: 2

Number of staircases in my home that I am finding rather difficult to climb today: 2

 

All in all, feeling pretty good today.  I’m a little extra hungry, but I’m always a little extra hungry when I run over 5 miles.  A little sore and stiff, but that is all..

Get thee to a yoga studio!