Just Say No to Netflix

Soooooo. How many times have YOU thought about the Resurrection this week?

Lent this year for me has been a personal oasis. Let me tell you why.

I’m not sure how to say this without you judging me, but: I haven’t done super well living by myself this year. I’ve sort of developed some bad habits…. including, but not limited to: silencing all cries of boredom and pain with media and food.

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My bad habits also include generally ignoring a specific request that God has asked of me—to intently seek Him for the next year-ish (that’s a long story, but it’s a very specific thing I know He wants me to be doing right now).

Back in January, I attempted to address a few of my bad habits through my New Year’s resolutions:

1. No social media until after school.
2. Run a marathon. (Already nixed because of my up-coming surgery this summer.

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But I decided that Lent would be a time where I could push even harder. For Lent, I decided to give up Netflix/Youtube/movies, plus snacking!

The reasons for this were two-fold. I knew that the amount of time of I was spending watching shows was not allowing me the time I needed for personal meditation and sorting out life. Second, watching shows plus snacking basically ALL THE TIME sent me on a suspicious trip to the scales. My heart sank, but I finally admitted what I had known all along: you just can’t say “Yes!” to whatever you want!

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So I decided a little discipline and fasting were in order. Plus, I really, really LOVE celebrating Lent! For one, it is my personal agenda to increase all hype around the Easter holiday because it is excruciatingly under-celebrated in most Christian circles, which in no way relates to the God-created fasting and feasting tradition of Old Testament Judaism, nor to what I imagine God intends for healthy faith communities today.

Anyway, Lenten fast = easier said than done! The first week was PAINFUL. I didn’t grow up watching TV, but in the past couple of years, Netflix has made it really easy to get addicted to shows, and a quiet house plus a solo dinner makes it easy to watch a show (or two, or five). (There you go again, judging me.)

For the first week, I whined a LOT. To my family, out-of-state. If you find yourself having the same withdrawal symptoms (irritability, grouchiness, general laziness, mild anger), call a loved one. They will be more than happy to deliver a swift verbal kick in the pants, tell you to quit your griping, that you DO have bad habits, and good riddance to them! (My sweet family.)

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Despite how hungry I was the first week (me: “You mean I actually have to cook decent MEALS?”), I admitted (only silently to myself, of course), that I suddenly had so much time for cleaning! Dishes, dishes! Scrubbing the sink! And, since I was banned from social media, I had time to listen to a couple of apologetics debates during those dishes!

I learned I needed to eat better meals, and then just gulp water if I was feeling hungry. Not related to Lent, but more related to that scales trip, I also decided to hit the workouts hardcore. Again, these were SO SAD. The first week I was literally crying while lifting weights because of how much I did not want to lift! (Oh, Esther. It’s just one small little death.) However, it’s great to already feel results after just two weeks of weights, cross training, and core. Not to mention a few runs here and there because: spring!

I also found that even though I chose to do Episcopalian style Lent (you can cheat on Sundays), I found I didn’t want to! I had carved a new groove in my behavior, and my body and mind initially didn’t WANT to snack or watch shows on Sundays, when the time came around. This was invigorating for me!

(But I mean, I still had ice cream.)

I’m still working on that intentionally seeking God bit. But the beauty of it is, I still have 17 days to figure it out.

Through discipline, and learning to say no, I, for one, am feeling my heart and mind slowly thaw from its winter slush, and I feel a small green shoot pushing through the thick, dark mud of mindless yes.

 

Eyes on the Prize

Hello friends! Just a little update on my birthday-present marathon!

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So this year I turned 26 on the 26th, and following a very magical golden birthday celebration, I planned an even more epic celebration: running a 26.2 marathon!

And this post is announcing that….

Last week, I dropped out.

ALL THE SAD FACES.

Five weeks ago, I suffered an injury in my right foot which I have yet to identify as either a slight sprain or plantar fasciitis. Two days after my 18 mile long run (which I can only describe as exceedingly exotic, one of the most perfect long runs I’ve ever had), I went out for a short run on a route I don’t normally run. Two mistakes: I didn’t stretch out properly, and I was running on uneven ground. The following day I was experiencing noticeable arch pain and bruising on the right side of my foot. I immediately R.I.C.E. ed and quit running for two days. Foolishly, I went out later that week for six miles, running at normal pace. I was able to endure the tightness in my foot. By the time for my next long run, I could barely pound out four miles, and I limped home, collapsing in my laundry room like a tipped-over bucket of tears for my roommates to clean up. Determined not to give up, I resolved to stay off my foot for a solid week and a half. I turned to biking and circuit training to maintain my physical fitness. I wore a brace, iced religiously, and did stretches and therapy daily. (Though I fought the urge to throw in the towel and simply eat copious amounts of baked goods.) Instead of running my last long run of 20 miles, I opted to bike instead, after a morning workout. This was a very low day for me. I was quite upset about not having the chance to run 20 miles. (Yes, I understand not very many people can relate to this!) I slowly returned to running by first walking several miles, then slowly increasing mileage over the next week. My next mistake was thinking I could throw in a longish 13 mile run the same week. I felt the need to run that distance because I had missed my last long run, and I wanted to test myself to see if I could expect to finish a marathon distance in two weeks. I finished 13, but I was grimacing the last three miles. An ice bath and stretching didn’t amend the pain I was feeling in my arch. With two weeks til race day, my hopes were slowly fading. I eased up on running again and focused on stretching, icing, and easy balance exercises. However, the closer it came to race day, and the more reading and research I did, I realized that it was wisest to drop out, heal up, and focus on healthy running, rather than a defiant finish that could have finished my running career forever.

So this weekend, instead of running 26.2 miles, I celebrated four solid months of valuable long-distance training by skipping town with this chica, a running buddy and very dear friend.

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We began our day with retail therapy at IKEA,

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before consuming allllll the steak at a the very delicious Wildfire restaurant in Oak Brook, just west of Chicago.

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I enjoyed the Basil Hayden’s Bourbon Tenderloin Tip with grilled red onions and wild rice, and I will spare you the details, which is really just me saying, “OH MY GOODNESS IT WAS THE BEST MEAT I HAVE EVER TASTED.” The benefit of running is learning to eat good protein, and I’ve certainly branched out in this area due to training.

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The sun shined brilliantly as made our way from shop to shop, leisurely browsing some of our favorite stores, and discovering new favorites (including Anthropologie, which I’ve never had a particular fancy for, until this Saturday, when I found these cunning blue coasters, each one featuring an extra-large, drab bird perched atop an ugly, crooked horse creature.) The find of the day.

It wouldn’t be the end of marathon training without a significant dessert, which I chose to be the Cheesecake Factory’s chocolate tuxedo cream cheesecake, topped off with Starbucks coffee.

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It was a very happy day indeed, despite the disappointment of a missed goal.

I really do hope to run my race sometime. No matter when I finish, it will be significant, but as thethingaboutchange says, “just less poetic.” Yet I refuse to look at this as four months of “wasted” training because I’ve learned so many lessons, and, additionally, I simply just feel great! Yay, fitness goals!

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For now, I can turn my attention back to the classroom, and relish in all those little moments that make my day-job worthwhile. Like pointing out to my students that I actually HAVE descended from a witch (my mother’s maiden name matches that of one of Salem, Massachusetts condemned witches), like watching tenth grade boys laugh hysterically while listening to stories about apostrophes in Lynne Truss’s Eats, Shoots & Leaves, and, at our school’s annual open house, convincing students and parents alike, that, yes, you actually CAN eat cactus, and isn’t it nice, and doesn’t it taste like pickled peppers?

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So long, everyone!

A Running Commentary

Favorite running moment this month: meeting this huge Spanish-speaking cycling group on the outskirts of Nappanee. Leading the group of 50+ cyclists was a pick-up truck carrying a huge image of a saint and a giant vat of red flowers. (?) I couldn’t cross the country road where they were passing, so I turned left and started running against them yelling “Buenos dias!” like a hacienda was on fire. One cyclist gave me a high five, and I heard one man say, “Sabe que no es un señor.” (“She knows she’s not a man.”) Hahaha! #runningskirtsforever

Summer is winding down! From hiking the Rocky Mountains, to relaxing with my family, to enjoying a quiet month at home (my roommates were gone for the month of July, so it was definitely quiet around here), I definitely feel refreshed.

Even though I’ve been taking time to rest, I’ve been working on a few goals. This month my goal is: perfecting my long run.

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Currently I’m working toward a long distance running goal that’s been a dream of mine. To be honest, I haven’t been *exactly* diligent in my training due to my relaxed summer schedule, but now I’ve got my regimen down, I’m halfway through my training schedule, and I’m currently working on perfecting my long-run ritual. It’s a good idea to follow a ritual when planning long-distance runs. That way there are no surprises on race day, and you are confident that your fuel and gear are appropriate.

Okay, so now I am going to go ahead and geek out about running.

In case you were wondering, right now I’m working out about four times a week. Two workouts are short runs (4-5 miles), one workout is circuit training, and one workout is biking. On the weekend I complete my long run distance (currently it’s 14 miles). This distance will increase by one mile every week (up to 20 miles). One of the terrifying things about running your first marathon is that you never actually run 26 miles until race day. Many training schedules only take you up to 20 miles before you decrease mileage for two weeks in what is known as a “taper” period. Decreasing activity and resting during that period, followed by drinking a lot of water and eating a lot of carbs means that your body will be more than ready to conquer the full marathon distance on race day.

Maybe some of you are wondering how it is possible to run 26 miles without stopping. Well, it’s not. Most marathoners take short walk breaks every now and then. We newbies typically take short walk breaks every few miles, especially when we come to water stations.

During my weekend long runs, I’ve been working at perfecting my hydration. It’s been really tricky with the heat we’ve been having. I finally decided to buy a fanny pack hydration belt.

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(One of my friends said it should be called a chastity belt. Lol.) I really like this design by Nathan which can hold several different kinds of liquid. It’s comfortable, holds A TON of liquid, and has great little pockets for storing gels and my keys. Now I can easily take a sip every now and then when I’m feeling thirsty. Or at the end of every song. Whichever comes first.

I’ve also been trying out a new source of fuel. (“Fuel” is runnerspeak for EATING WHILE RUNNING, which is totally a thing. Runners simply burn too many calories not to refuel mid-race. So we eat and jog at the same time. And no, it’s not very glamorous.) Last year for my half marathon, I used protein gels, which weren’t so much for energy, but rather for muscle-building. This year, I’m focusing on using fuel as energy. I’m also exchanging gels for gummies. I find that energy gummies are so much easier to consume, and they feel better in your stomach rather than that full yogurt-y feeling after squishing down a whole gel pack.

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Besides hydration and fuel, I’m learning about my mind.
NERVES. All the nerves! These last few long runs have been nightmares! I wake up in the morning feeling queasy, sick to my stomach, and a nervous wreck! Two weeks ago, it was so bad that I put off my run for two hours, laid on my couch, called my mom, and wailed to her that “I can’t do it! I can’t run that far! I feel SO SICK!” To which my mom sort of giggled and said, “Well, I mean, isn’t kind of mind over matter? Just go out there and run it! You’ll be fine.” So I did. And I was.
My. Mom. Basically the best running coach ever.

Anyway, it’s a really weird feeling to know that your body is strong enough to do something that your mind is not. I’m finding that one thing I canNOT do is think about the run, or dwell on race logistics the night before. Eating pizza and thinking about something else is about the best thing.

Running is such a crazy mix of emotions. Strange feelings of anguish, uncertainty, and euphoria can all characterize the same run. The crazy run that I thought I couldn’t do? I had this nervous stomachache for like 3 miles, but mile 8 was totally insane, and these crazy endorphins had me smiling ear to ear, and I felt like I wanted to jump into the swimming pool of happiness that is the world. And these are the things that keep you running. Rustling corn. Warm sun. Rolling fields. A town’s rhythm.

Yes! I’m SO EXCITED for October!

Half Crazy

Taking a break from my regular teacher-type reporting (if you need funny teacher bits, go here) to give you an update on the Indianapolis Half Marathon!

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The only teacherly comment I will make about running is that it really is important for teachers to have Other Hobbies besides teaching and learning. Otherwise you will go insane and poke your eyes out with Office Max thumb tacks. The latter is to be avoided, so I have taken up long-distance running. I’ve enjoyed running as physical exercise for several years now, but only last year did I get the idea to start racing. Last October, after training for three months, I spent my “first” half marathon on the sidelines, in bed, nursing a nasty case of strep throat because (a) first-year teaching gives you all the germs, and (b) I didn’t take vitamins or get enough rest.

Now I eat vitamins for breakfast, and I guard my sleeping hours like… a kind of lazy watch dog? Anyway, today I ran my first half marathon. Let me tell you about it.

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The Event
The Indianapolis Marathon and Half Marathon is a mid-size event, with a little over 2,000 participants. I would describe the race as quiet and serious. I’ve had friends tell me about crazy race atmospheres with high-fiving camaraderie, crazy cheering onlookers, and live bands along the road. This is not that race. Beforehand, participants gather around fire pits, or calmly wait in extremely long lines to use the port-a-potty. Only one runner wished me good luck. I guess we had our fair share of funny spectator signs, but the cheering was pretty half-hearted. Except for the girls at the mile 8 water stop who cheered my name (from my bib number) as they handed me my Gatorade. My favorite sign was this one woman’s sign held high: “You think your legs are tired? What about MY ARMS?” Sarcasm = my favorite. It’s a great race, though. The event staff make everything go smoothly. And the post-race cookout is worth eating.

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The Location
Indianapolis’s Hilton North hosts the Indianapolis Marathon’s Friday Packet Pickup and Expo (where you pick up your shoe chip timer, runner’s bib number, and free shirt). The hotel also hosts the Friday evening pasta dinner, which I passed up because I am VERY religious about pre-race rituals. I always eat Pizza Hut pizza the night before a long run (so many carbs). So that’s why I spent an hour driving around Indy the night before the race trying to find pizza, rather than enjoying my really nice hotel room. The event staff also coordinates morning shuttles to take runners from the Hilton to the race site. And I, ever the late one, arrived at the last second to get on the last shuttle, which was actually, a giant school bus, only to find out that I was the very last runner needing shuttling. So a very nice bus driver drove me, all by myself, in the giant yellow school bus to my very first half marathon. I sat quietly in the middle of the bus, sipping my Irish breakfast tea, quite amused. (Tea for caffeine. I had downed my ritual protein and carbs (peanut butter and honey on bread) back at the hotel).

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The race loops through Fort Harrison State Park. October weather affords some very nice scenery. When I wasn’t freaking out about randomly over-heating or how to eat protein gels while running, I happened to notice some very pretty yellow tree leaves. There are two “significant” hills on the race, one at mile 3 and one at mile 10. Some guy told me the one at mile 3 was no big deal, and he must be certifiably insane because, because it was a killer hill. After I made it up the hill, I started overheating in a way that I never do. I couldn’t cool down, and I was freaking out. I actually threw my gloves in a trashcan because I was so hot and I didn’t want to hold them anymore. Then like two miles later, I cooled down and my hands were freezing. Anyway, the mile 10 hill wasn’t bad at all (but then, I am a careful runner, and I save a lot for the end, so I still had plenty of energy left).

The End
Miles 3 and 4 crawled by, but miles 10-13 went so quickly! It was almost over too soon! I collected my medal, my race results, and then my calories.
I spent some time by the finish line, and I got to see some really great finishes, including the first-place full marathon winner, a couple holding hands across the finish line who were celebrating their 34th wedding anniversary, some runners representing World Vision, and a soldier running in full military gear. (I also saw a guy dressed like a Bavarian, complete with lederhosen and a feather in his hat. Not sure what that was about.)

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Racing
I’m so grateful to God that I maintained my health until race weekend. I also had an injury-free training, which was another improvement from last year. I set a very moderate goal, and due to a bit of discipline, I was able to achieve it. (Yay! Met my goal time!)
Racing is very different than solo running. Running, for me, is a very solitary hobby, one that I do to clear my mind. I normally run by myself. Racing with thousands of other runners was a very different experience. It was kind of cool to see how running can be a community sport. I mean, I took up running because I saw it as an individual sport, something to do by myself. I’ve enjoyed running alone, but now I’m thinking that at some point, it would be really cool to have some running buddies.
So, 13.1 miles later, by the time the other marathoners had returned home to rest in their beds and watch the Notre Dame game, I rested too went car shopping (because someone needs new wheels), and then drove to school to pick up books for lesson planning (because I really feel like staying awake right now). Rawr, my life. Amazingly, Grande Caramel Macchiatos, extra-hot, can do a miracle for one’s productivity. 😀 Actually, I’m feeling great! I’m barely sore at all, and I’m already thinking about my next half marathon. Yes, the next one. During the race you think that long-distance running is the stupidest thing in the world. You tend to get emotional. Mile 6 I literally had tears streaming down my face, and I was thinking, “I just want to be at home with my Mom!” But as soon as you finish, you think, “That was fun! I should do that again!”

Hee hee hee. What’s YOUR favorite race?