October 29, 2012

CIM Week -5

I'm still in a bit of shock to realize there's only 5 weeks 'til CIM.  Kind of surreal.

This week, I decided to modify my approach for the marathon.  You know, switch training plans with 5 weeks left before the race.  Totally smart, right?

Okay, not smart at all.  But, I feel much better about my plans than I did before and sometimes you just have to go with your gut.

This week was a bit light, with only 27.66 miles total.

But, in addition to some quick speedwork at 7:30/mi pace and a return to Bikram, I got in a *great* 15-miler on Sunday.  The first 5 miles I did with L, at a nice 10:17 average.  The remaining 10 were tough and included quite a bit of climbing.  I did them at an 11:50 average pace, which sounds quite bad, but when I look at the elevation profile and factor in that I fit in a very slow very steep uphill mile at 13:23, I'm actually quite pleased.  I hit the track to check on my fitness/effort for mile 12 and kept myself at an even 10:05 -- slower than I'd like, but I'll take it, considering the 11 miles of work before it.  The biggest thing this run did for me was feel good and even for a long run without a dying *need* to rest.  Very few stops, and all of them quick (1 pit stop at L's house after mile 5, a quick walk-break for fuel at mile 6.5, and a quick stop to buy a lemonade to re-fill my water bottle at mile 8.5, and a stop to re-fill my water bottle at mile 12).

The average whole-run pace of 11:19?  Given the hills and the fact that some walking went into that calculation, I'm pleased. In contrast, last weekend's 17-miler was slower overall, was almost entirely flat, and pushing through for the last 5 miles was a serious mental struggle against the "oh, why don't you just walk" monster.

On this weekend last year, I did 12.63 up and down the hills of Sawyer Camp Trail (200 more feet of climbing than yesterday) at an average pace of 10:46 including about 5 minutes of walk/fuel breaks in the calculation.  Also that was in some scorching heat, whereas yesterday's run was lovely and cool in the morning.  In other words, I'm not in as good of shape as last year.

This may be why I'm more excited for this week's running and workout plans than I have been in a while.  With my modifications, I've got my first 40+ mile week, and I'm excited about it.  I've got some "just because" run days, a 20-miler (that incorporates the US Half to check my fitness), mile repeats, and my weekly run with E where we'll push to hit the 2.25 mark before taking a break.  By this time next week, I should have a very reasonable set of CIM goals.


October 25, 2012

Changing It Up

After last week's very difficult 17-miler, I did some soul searching.  It didn't bring me anything useful.

So,  then, I did some Internet searching and I found a local blogger who is also training for CIM and runs roughly my pace.  I reached out and she agreed that it would be fun to try to do one or more of the long runs together.

All of a sudden, my decision was made.  My FIRST plan is officially out the window (it had been halfway out for a while).  I do think that if I could have managed to hit all of the target workouts at all of the target paces, it is highly likely that I would have been very pleased with the results.

But I kept running into issues.  The pace goals were *very* hard for me on many of the runs.  The speedwork and tempo runs called for much faster paces than I'd regularly hit in any previous training and I often let myself lag.  Perhaps the biggest issue for me was that there was no room for bad days.  My slog of a 17-miler last week didn't look anything like the 9:39 pace required.  By the FIRST calculation, I was failing.  And yet, I knew from previous training, sometimes in the middle of marathon training, the long runs just suck and I'm egregiously slow.  For me, the act of struggling through a surprisingly tough long run usually means that I'm about ready to reap some serious mental and physical improvements on the running front.

Once I realized that thanks to a new blogger running buddy, if I was flexible, I wouldn't have to do either of the 20-milers solo, I was ready to make any and all modifications to the plan that I thought would bring me the most benefits.  So, here's the new running goals for CIM:

1.  I'm going back to Bikram once a week.  Starting today.  I'm a little scared as I haven't been in the hot room since July.  But, I *know* that the mental benefits of struggling to stay in the moment of the very uncomfortable practice will pay off in the marathon.

2.  I'm going to scale back the aggressive speedwork and pace requirements from FIRST.  Yesterday, I did about 1/2 of the recommended speed work (cut the intervals in half) but kept the recommended pace.  I haven't run at a 7:30 pace in a while, but I went ahead and did so for 4X400 (with a follow-on 800 at 8:00 and an easy warm up and cooldown). Today, I am super sore.  Not injury level pain, but enough to make me suspect that if I'd pushed longer or harder I definitely could have injured myself.

3.  I'm going to add the extra 3.1 miles with E as an actual workout each week and incorporate it into the mileage goals.  I suspect what I'll do is add some miles in front or behind and treat it as an additional medium run to get the weekly volume a bit higher.

4.  I'm moving my long runs around so that I can do the big ones with company.  For me, this benefit is perhaps the largest one.  Some with my new running buddy, and some with L, a local friend who's recently taken up running and I look forward to running with her in the middle of my medium length long runs.

5.  I'm adding some easier random runs to get the volume up and to allow me to enjoy the runs where I'm *just* running.  Running just for enjoyment has been missing from my training for a while now.  That was definitely one of the things I enjoyed the most about my previous training programs that was missing from this one.  None of the FIRST runs were just "go out and do 6 miles."  I've missed that, and occasionally, I just let myself have it and blew off a FIRST scheduled run (which messed with my confidence).  So I'm excited to get it back at least once a week.

6.  I'll pick a pace goal when it gets closer to the actual date based on my performance over the next 5 weeks, but I'm more than willing to let the PR/4 hour goal go if that's what makes sense.  In it's place, I think I'd like to run an *even* marathon where I actually pick splits that are attainable and I consistently hit them instead of blowing up.  I'm willing to do this with the idea that I can improve my fitness slowly and safely and add a later race to the calendar (like PF Chang's Phoenix, Pacific shoreline, or something else where a goal of shooting for a PR/sub 4 makes more sense). 

Here's to flexible plans!

October 21, 2012

Long Overdue Recipe Post

So, tonight, E & I agreed that I made an awesome meal.


I mean, roasted brussel sprouts in olive oil and balsamic vinegar?

And Orecchiette from A.G. Ferrari tossed with slow roasted garlic salt and pepper garden paste tomatoes (recipe to come), fresh garden tomatoes, garden basil, and nothing else? (Note to self:  the lunch of panini and subsequent splurge at AG Ferrari is like marital money in the bank -- E is a happy Man!)

It was amazingly delicious and even *VEGAN* for crying out loud.  And E was happy.  Despite the lack of bacon or cheese or any other type of food awesomeness that the Vegans give up in their interminable lent, we agreed it was one of the better home-cooked meals I've made this year.

So, if you're looking for super healthy delicious recipes, here are two:

1.  Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprouts:

-pre-heat oven to 375F
-cut a bunch of brussel sprouts perpendicularly to the stem (e.g. visually, you end up with right and left brains, not top and bottom brains)
-place brussel sprout halves in baking dish
-drizzle with balsamic vinegar (such that it covers the bottom of the pan evenly, but not more than enough to see the film)
-repeat the drizzle with olive oil, same amount
-sprinkle with garlic salt and black pepper
-toss (see the vinegar and oil already soaked into the crenulations of the sprout halves)
-place in oven, cook 15 minutes, toss again, half of the liquid should be gone
-remove when tops appear crystalized, serve immediately and enjoy.

2. Orecchiete with slow-roasted tomatoes and fresh tomatoes and basil

-boil one box Orecchiette 'til al dente
-while pasta is boiling, chop 2 fresh tomatoes and 1 cup slow-roasted paste tomatoes seasoned with garlic salt and pepper and preserved in olive oil (bonus if the slow-roasted tomatoes came from your garden and were prepared according to your husband's family's recipe...)
-while pasta is boiling, julienne 1 cup fresh basil (garden bonus!)
-drain pasta
-toss pasta with fresh tomatoes, roasted tomatoes (and their residual olive oil) and basil


More Than Half Way There

Today, E and I enjoyed our third run together this year.

 (That's 200% more runs than any other year!)

In Hawaii, we substituted a gorgeous hike for the run. Those 4.5 miles in the heat and humidity took 2 hours and had some serious elevation change, so I think that was more than a fair trade for the 3.1 mile run/walk we typically do at home.

By my measurement, he's been "training" for 4 weeks now and improving each week.  The goal 5K isn't until the week of Christmas, so I think it's going to be quite easy for him to get to the point where he can run an entire 5K without a break.

Today, our plan was to do 1.75 miles at around 10 min/mile and then to walk the remainder of the 3.1 mile loop home.

Instead, he set out at a 9:34 pace for the first mile, so I joined him. We walked a tenth of a mile (up the freeway overpass), and did another 0.80 mile at 9:39. Then we had a nice leisurely walk and chat home.  I'm very proud of him and look forward to when we can run 3 miles together without a break.

I'm finding that I'm enjoying my runs with E the most of all of my weekly runs right now. They aren't even on my training schedule. We just find some time to fit in a run of an increasing portion of a 3.1 mile loop and walk and talk the rest of the way home.

It was so nice have a social workout with my husband and to easily run at paces that should feel easy after yesterday's sub-optimal long run.

In other news, I'm giving myself until after next week's 20-miler to decide if it's worth sticking to this training plan or if I should make drastic changes.  I'm considering using CIM as a training run and shooting for a PR/goal race in January or February.

October 20, 2012

It Wasn't Pretty

17.21 miles today.  Slow and difficult -- average pace in the 11s.  Yikes.  It is hard to believe that just 2 weeks ago I did a half at a pace of 9:31.

A huge thanks to L for joining me for 5 miles in the middle.  It made it so much easier to head out at 7 AM knowing I only had to make it 'til 8:30 before I'd have company for 5 miles and then just 4ish downhill miles from L's house to mine and I'd be done.

As I've said before, I'm a bit skeptical of the FIRST program.  6 weeks before CIM and my weekly mileage is 32.37 and this is one of the heavier weeks I've done, in terms of volume, which just feels wrong.  Last time, on the Hansen's plan, week -6 was 47.53 miles, with a long run of 10.  I definitely felt that the lack of longer runs on the Hansen's plan was an issue for me on the actual race day.  But now, I'm just not sure that trading more longer long runs for less overall volume is a great idea either.

I was supposed to be able to maintain a 9:39 pace for today's 17-miler.  In theory, given my recent half, this should have been completely doable.  And yet, I struggled the entire time.  My digestive system was not happy with me, my stomach was upset, I needed two pitstops, and my legs just felt dead.

I'm hoping part of the issue today is the decreased mileage I subbed in while on vacation and that the benefits from this week kick in before next week's 20 miler.  If not, that is going to be an even longer, uglier slog.

October 15, 2012

A Place of Refuge

As promised, I got away for a true vacation with E.   I told the resorts it was the 10th anniversary of our first date, which I thought was true, but off by about 2 weeks.  Only once there, on the ground, at the restaurant and biting into the "Happy Anniversary" cookie, did E inform me that it was almost the 12th anniversary, not the 10th.  Go us!

To celebrate, for the 5th time in our relationship, Hawaii functioned as a true "getaway" where we can leave the majority of our worries and stresses in lieu of beautiful weather, views, and an island sense of time that helps to add some clarity on our everyday rush.  

In 2004, Hawaii welcomed me with open arms and let me experience cheap adventurous island living during my 1L spring break in both Oahu and the Big Island.  E came with me and we had a wonderfully romantic and awesome time.

In 2006, the island of Kauai gave me a week of space to fully relax in the much too short but hugely important week between the year of my dad's cancer, my wedding, and his death (all, obviously, very stressful), and the true beginning of my life as a big firm lawyer (also very stressful, but in a very different way).  Kauai & E get credit for filling the empty basin from which I was able to professionally execute that first demanding year as a lawyer despite how broken down and depleted I was.

In 2010, after a difficult year due to brother's health issues and subsequent recovery at our home, we headed to Oahu and started the trip with a sunrise hike up Diamond Head. Views of Waikiki and memories of our Japan trip were everywhere we looked in Honolulu. And then, we finished the trip in the blissful over-the-top indulgence that Maui seems to do best.

In 2011, due to a ridiculous work-life schedule and no joint vacations, E & I opted for an extended weekend trip to Kauai. It was only four nights, and we had to work a bit, but the ambiance, the waves, the weather and everything about it was immensely restorative.

This year, after an even busier work year, we realized that other than a quick weekend date for our wedding anniversary, we'd failed to schedule any trips in the last year where the purpose of the trip was just for us.  Work? Family? Friends? Races?  Yes, we'd done plenty of travel for all of those.  But travel together with a primary goal of relaxing?  Nada.

I'm coming to terms with the reality that I'm unable to relax as much as I wish I could at home, but I can when I spend the time, effort, and money to create a true "getaway" for myself that is physically removed from the majority of my obligations.  This says some very strong things about my inability to structure my life on the axis that I claim to respect in favor of values and goals I'd like to relegate to a lower status.  No matter what I say, the things I do on a regular basis show that I think working, being responsive for clients, and doing a good job as a lawyer are more important than having a well-balanced life.  I feel I should take long term steps to address this...

In the meantime, for this year's short term fix (E suffers from a similar problem), we went back to the sure thing and repeated the extended weekend trip to Kauai. Hawaiian hotels/airports/car rentals know their audience.  The service is fast and efficient, the Wi-Fi works perfectly, but the weather, nearby attractions, and failing that, the views from the balcony and the drinks delivered beachside are all strong disincentives to minimize the time logged in.

5 days (including flights) and 4 nights of surefire relaxation -- something about this place and minimizing work reminders just slows time down, allows me to read, relax, sleep and focus on the moment.  Maybe it's because the moments of each day in Hawaii are often so visually or auditorily stunning that I feel I have no choice but to focus on them.  The air... it's so clear.  The light...it's so beautiful at each changing hour of the day.  And the sound of the surf?  Well, that's my favorite noise.  Period.

This morning's hike on Nualolo Trail? Empty. Just Kauai, me, E, and finally, a quick good morning and goodbye to a Swiss couple as they headed into the trailhead and we stepped off.

Now that I understand exactly how effective 4 nights in Hawaii is at modifying my stress levels, I may find it entirely too easy to justify additional future trips.

This could be dangerous. Or Good.

October 13, 2012

A Unique Perspective

I've listened to many of my friends try to strategize the optimal time to have a baby (assuming you have some control over the situation via the luck of fertility).

 All careers and life paths have issues that make it more or less optimal to have a child at a certain point in time.

But I've never thought about the professional female athlete's perspective before.

Thanks to Lauren Fleshman's honest account of her thought process on this topic, I have a very new perspective.


October 10, 2012

Why, Hello!

It's been a long time since my Garmin clocked a mile (without stopping) with a 7 in the minute place on one of my runs.  But tonight's 7:59 before 2 @ ~9:20?  I'll take it, Thank you!

I checked my records, and I haven't recorded a full mile at this pace in the last two years.

Memory lane claims the last time I was in this good of speed shape was either:

1. back in June 2011, when I did 13X400 @ sub8 (including a few 7:0X paced offerings) with 200 jogging recovery each interval plus some warm-up and cool-down for a 6.92 mile workout at an average pace of 8:07/mile.

or maybe, if I 'd tried a little harder to go for an even workout, this would be the equivalent of:

2. November of 2011, when I did a 3 mile time test @ 8:22 avg. pace.

In any case, I don't have data for a mile on any run that was sub-8 for a recorded mile in the last 2 years.  And, as a middle-aged lady, I'm not gonna lie, that's seriously enouraging. Woo Hoo!  

I'm doing a FIRST-inspired training plan for CIM this time around.  I'm skeptical.  But I read the studies and the book.  Despite my doubt at the low mileage, the very targeted training segments supposedly work wonders for people like me (who can't afford to re-arrange their life around running).  That's why I picked it and scheduled it 6 months ago.

But, my doubts tell me it can't be possible that I can hit my goal of sub 4h on a maximum running mileage of less than 35 miles per week and only running 3 days per week.

I've been following the plan somewhat less than religiously (adding runs when I want them and decreasing the paces when they seem too aggressive), and even so, I'm faster than I've been in a long time in terms of my ability to just run fast and feel comfortable.

Given that comfort, I decided to try to hit 9:09 miles on my half this last weekend.  Typically, at this point in my marathon training a 2h (9:09/mi) marathon would be reasonable, but then again, I'm also usually hitting well above 35-40 miles per week in my training, whereas this time around, I've barely cleared 30.  FIRST claimed I should shoot for 13 at 9:39 and that I'd still be able to get to 4h at the marathon if I continued to follow their plan.  But, I've been so much faster on the short painful efforts, I figured I could go for 9:09, which I've hit so easily before at this point in the cycle.  Final result?  9:31/mile.

Okay, fine.  Maybe they know what they are doing.

So, I've decided to stick it out, finish their plan as best I can and see what the results show.  I'd love it if I actually broke 4 hours in the marathon on their plan (which is what I originally designed it to do).  At this point in the training schedule, emotionally, I just can't believe it would be possible.  I underestimated how strong the knowledge that I'm *always* running over 40 miles/week at this point in the training schedule would make me distrust this plan come week -7.  Everything I know about running (which is not much) says I need to run many more than the prescribed miles on this plan.

On the other hand, there are only 3 running workouts I have to do in any week, and I've noticed that I'm much more committed to making sure they are quality workouts and that I make them count, even when I'm mucking with the suggested workout (which is almost every week).

I even occasionally skip a work-out day and move the run to another day to make sure I can do it at something bordering on the suggested pace.  On other programs, I wouldn't have that flexibility, so I'd just head out and do the prescribed mileage or the prescribed time, in either event, often at much slower than the target pace.

So, I'm a doubter, but I'm curious.  I'm going to do my best to follow the FIRST (modified for my life) plan and head out with the 4 hour pace group at CIM.  Once I have my finishing time and actually true training data (because, of course, I'm me, and life gets in the way of the ideal training schedule), I'll evaluate my next steps from there. I'm leaning towards getting a customized training plan for my next marathon, but we'll see.

Either way, I *loved* seeing the 7:59 mile in the middle of this afternoon's run.  It's been a long time since I saw that type of evidence of fitness and it's helpful in encouraging me to hold on and trust the FIRST folks.

October 7, 2012

San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon Review

The Good:

-Super fast, flat course.

-Nice black schwag/drop bag with red logo.  Tech t-shirt.  Cute cassette tape medals (many of the participants probably didn't know what they were, man I'm getting old).

-An out and back section that put me running directly opposite the leaders when they were surging and trying to jockey in miles 11 and 12.  It was very inspirational and entertaining to watch that portion of the race.  Given the time spread for the men and the women, this lets the particpants in the middle to the back of the pack see some of the action from the leaders.  Today, if you didn't get to mile six by 53:50 (8:53/mi or slower) and so long as you made it to mile 4.5 by 1:18 or so (17:33/mi or faster) then you were guaranteed to see some of the action of the top ten men's and women's finishers.
-The event was very well organized with separated corrals (but changing corrals wasn't difficult), pace group leaders, a very easy to use bag drop, and an awesome selection of post-run refuel options, plus tons of medical, crowd, and volunteer support on the course.

The Bad:

-RNR races are notoriously big and expensive.  This one was no different.

-The Expo was an annoying maze where they had traffic control to try to force you to run the gauntlet through all of their various sponsor tents.  Grumpy runners who have time commitments don't make good consumers, guys.  Also, I can walk whichever direction I'd like unless it's against the law.  Just saying...

-The 2:00 pace group was so big and bulky that it didn't really seem to ever string out in a way that would allow its members to run the tangents.  Given the number of turns on the course, this probably cost the pace group members some time.

-No Gu except for one station at mile 9.6 and no other fuel besides Gatorade and water on the course.  I definitely could have used a Gu or other carb source around mile 6 or 7.  (To their credit, the map made this clear, so I should have brought my own.)


Despite missing my time goal, I very much enjoyed today's race. The weather was a bit warmer than I'd ordinarily expect at this time of year, but even so, it wasn't too hot (~55F at the start and ~64 at the finish).

This is a *very* fast course, with the possible exception of the crowds causing issues with missing tangents and slowing for the aid stations.  Great PR potential, almost totally flat with a few small rollers.

My time splits show that as soon as we left the section where I could watch the elites sprint towards us and the finish, my motivation took a severe hit. If I could change one thing it would be to put a refreshment station after this corner (perhaps on the opposite side of the tangent) to encourage runners to fuel up and buckle down for the remainder of their race.

I'd never actually *raced* an RNR event, so I wasn't sure what to expect. I ran-walked a friend through the half in Seattle in 2010, but when I'm supporting friends, I don't pay as much attention to the execution of the race as I do when it's just me, so I didn't have any strong opinions one way or another. But, I had heard horrid things about last year's Las Vegas event from friends who'd done it and RNR are known for their super expensive, huge, and full of difficult to navigate crowds and marketing madness.  Since I generally prefer smaller, less commercial events, I was somewhat skeptical.

But, it's a flat local race that's perfectly timed for my CIM training schedule. So I was in.

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that RNR definitely maximizes the size of the event in a good way.  Yes, this is an expensive and large event, but because of that they have an abundance of resources and they make them available to you.

The staff is professional and knows what is going on.  It's so nice to stop and ask for directions or help and to get a clear, correct answer.

They handled all of the things that can go horribly wrong with large crowds very well. They've made certain it's a well thought out course, that's well managed, with plenty of port-a-potties, parking, bag drop, and post-race fuel and rest options (I could have easily had a free 2,000 calorie lunch of awesome fruit, Gatorade, mini Jamba Juices, bagels, bars, chocolate milk, and other goodies not to mention the Miller Lite post-race beer tent, if that's your thing).

Today's race was nothing like the ridiculousness I heard about with respect to last year's Vegas event and I hope that the organization at both the San Jose event as well as the ever growing list of RNR venues only continues to improve.

Yes, this was an expensive race. But, I registered early and it was local.  I didn't have to pay for a hotel. There was free parking if you were willing to show up early enough to deal with the crowds waiting for access at HP pavillion (7 AM, as they recommended, should have been plenty of time). I wore my jacket until the conveniently located and fast bag drop off right by the corrals (by last name *and* bib number, efficient!) and then, cold, I settled into the body heat of my corral.

Roger Craig (a race co-sponsor that I sometimes see when I'm running on the trails in Portola Valley) spoke (and proceeded to kick my 2:06:27 ass with a 1:51:35).

Maybe my goal for next year should be to keep up with Roger.  In theory, it's doable, as my half marathon PR is 1:49:20.  But that was 4 years ago.  So, it may be a relic of the past...

Either way, this race did exactly what it was supposed to do.  It allowed me to run hard and as fast as I could manage for 13.1 miles without a break at this point in my training.  The data shows that I mentally wussed out a bit from miles 7-10, as I slowed there but then picked it back up and finished the last three miles much faster.  So, in addition to the much needed fitness check, this race showed me that I need to work on my mental game and inspired me to train hard for the remaining 8 weeks before CIM.

October 6, 2012

Vacation Anticipation

I have to work today (Saturday) and tomorrow, too, most likely.  Sometimes working on the weekends frustrates me, but today, I'm comforting myself with the thought that E and I leave soon for Hawaii.

It will be a quick, but necessary, get away.  I will turn on my out of office and do as little work as possible while getting in great runs and lots of reading and beach time.

E and I have traveled together quite a bit this year.  Add in the solo travel I've done, and my existing reservations put me on track to acquire Delta Gold status for next year (despite the fact that my international travel this year wasn't eligible for Delta miles).

Traveling for vacation with E is one of my favorite things in the world.  We can leave the day-to-day stresses of our lives behind and relax or share adventures.

This year, other than a quick weekend getaway for our anniversary, all of our joint travel has been either a) related to work; b) related to family; or c) related to an out of town wedding or race.

So, this upcoming trip to Hawaii will be the first time in a year where we're getting on a plane to escape and the only purpose is for us to enjoy ourselves.

The last time we did this, it was a almost a year ago.  Also to Hawaii.  Kauai has become our go-to guaranteed relaxation and restoration location.

And I'm excited.

October 5, 2012

Zoom Teeth Whitening Part 2

I went back for more.

Despite the unpleasantness last time, I felt the benefits were worth it.  Also, I'd paid for it.

So I used Sensodyne every day since my last appointment and I took 2 aspirin before heading in.

This time, I made it through 2 full 15-minute sessions (and finished the movie I'd started the last visit).  The zingers were not remotely as frequent as the last time during the treatment.  Whether that is due to the deep cleaning, the Sensodyne, the aspirin or some combination, I have no idea.  It didn't hurt that I had experience on my side and I knew that the zingers typically only lasted 3 or 4 seconds.  I could count through them.  I did, on several occasions towards the end of the second treatment.  Thankfully, even the dental assistant recommended stopping, saying "Look how white they already are!" 

And it's true.  My teeth are noticeably whiter (enough so that I'll actually follow the directions and skip the coffee for close to 48 hours, which is a huge weekend sacrifice on my part).

After the aspirin wore off, I definitely have been experiencing intermittent zingers.  Now, almost 12 hours later pain-med free (I didn't take any more after the initial dose, perhaps this was an error?), I can say that two sessions definitely cause more residual nerve pain than just one.

Even so.  I like my white smile.  I'm pleased.  And most importantly, I'm dead-set on avoiding the dentist at all costs for at least 6 months, and likely more, because I'm a procrastinator like that.

Happy Friday

We had friends over for Mandarin night last night and I was able to catch up with L and G.  It felt like I hadn't seen and caught up with both of them for a very long time.  I'd missed them both.

While the end of the evening was a wonderful feast of Thai Food, the start was less than stellar.  I made a calendar mistake and left G sitting on my porch while I raced home from a client to open the door -- I'm a terrible hostess.  Thankfully, she likes cheese and avocado, which I immediately plied her with in an effort to apologize for my mistake.

This morning, I woke up to an empty email inbox despite doing my last check at 6:40 PM last night (before frantically speeding home).

Even better, our weekend looks like a fun collection of gardening, a birthday dinner for a friend and the San Jose Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon for me.

Happy Friday!

October 3, 2012

Goals: The Signposts of Life

How is it already October? Also, what is going on with the weather?

Everything feels like it is moving entirely too fast for me.  Like I can't keep up. And yet...

I'm actually doing fairly well when it comes to my arbitrary goals for the year.

I've written about this before -- I strongly endorse the setting and adherence to goals for their own somewhat arbitrary sake. The structure they create builds life experiences and character (particularly when you realize you don't even have the space to own or acknowledge meaningful goals while you are trying to set them), and if nothing else, they make for great stories.

Of course, sometimes, I don't meet the goals I set at all. Fluent in Spanish? Hah!  Good one!  Right angles in the house I live in? What did I think I was going to be, a gadgillionaire?

But this year is different.  This year has moved so much more quickly than any year I've ever lived.  This year, my goals are filling more of a time-keeping role than I'd historically realized.  While the majority of my social cohorts have children with life-development milestones to mark their days, I have things like *pages read* or *words learned* or *miles ran* or *places or people visited.*

So here I am (as compared against the goals I'd set in January):

On reading and books, I killed it.  I have already read 9,356 pages of self-elected not-required reading, blowing past my goal of 9,000 pages this year (and the total doesn't even include my new addiction to audio books, which, in my opinion is totally cheating because I can multi-task, but I still can't help but include the audio titles when I think about my year as a whole because I feel as if I haven't been this *well-read* in any year since before law school).  Back to actual visual reading... This is the high point of page count since I started keeping track (meticulously, because I'm insane about data like that, in 2005).  What do I think this says about me?  I think, for one, when I look at the historical graph, it says that reading for pleasure is becoming more and more important to me as I age. Goal, met and vanquished.

My Chinese study is going extremely well.  I am thankful to live in such a multi-lingual environment and for all of the locally based native speaking people who are willing to indulge me in my studies.  I love that I can say basic things and even read a bit.  This goal is returning tons of value in terms of day to day pleasure.  I can't wait for our trip to China next year.

Race weight:  Well, let's just say this one is not going well.  I'll check back in after CIM, but without some major lifestyle modifications in the next 9 weeks (which are unlikely to occur), I'll have to acknowledge this one as a bit of a failure.  Over the course of the year, the numbers have been going up, not down.

2 Marathons:  1 down, 1 to go. On track. 

52 healthy days with E:  As predicted, this is where I've fallen the furthest behind.  It should be interesting to see if I scramble to meet this goal or abandon it.  I like the idea of staying with it, but I also like the idea of a spring marathon in 2013 after CIM, which if I want to do it well will require strong lifestyle sacrifices and I'm not sure I have the marital clout to prevail on both accounts... only time will tell.