August 14, 2017

Montreal: An Almost 50 mile week

The sabbatical year of travel was a joint project, but I was definitely the one responsible for the international travel bits. E always claims that if left to his own devices, he'd never leave the US.

So, I had a good laugh when a few weeks before we flew back to the US, E realized that there was a conference he wanted to attend in Montreal.  3 weeks after we got back to our house.  We booked the tickets -- we were leaving the country 3 weeks after our return home, and it was all E's choice.

View of the city from Chalet Mont Royal
Montreal in the summer is the best.  It's an amazing food town.  The weather is perfect.  And, just about everyone you interact with is bilingual in French and English.

We arrived and I realized that I can switch effortlessly between French and English for the first time in my life.  I didn't even realize when it happened, I'd just respond in whatever language made sense, as would all of the people we interacted with, and E would laugh at the back and forth, when he realized I couldn't tell him what language(s) had been spoken. 

Post-run Xiao Long Bao in Montreal's Chinatown (twice!)
Historically, I've had a huge linguistic wall between the foreign language I'm *trying* to speak and English.  If you are still in language acquisition mode, or if you are in a location with non-fluent English speakers, the wall is very useful.  But my French is (joyously, for me!) pretty decent right now, and most of Montreal that we interacted with is perfectly bilingual.  So, it was a very nice thing to be able to let down the wall and experience first-hand that effortless comprehension and response regardless of language that I'd seen fluent bilingual speakers do.  Right now, I am one of them! (Sadly, my French will likely degrade from disuse and I'll revert, but for this one week, I had a glorious time being one of those people.)

Much like Montreal, where it happened, week -8 of San Jose Rock 'n Roll training was wonderful.  49.36 recorded miles.  MUCH hiking and walking.  And overall, a strong, strong week on the return to some semblance of running fitness.

Hand-pulled noodles and Hunan Dumpling dinner
M: easy day, 6.15 miles of walking in old town Montreal and to and from meals.

T: 1 mile walk to the park.  3.11 super slow miles up Mont Royal (541 ft elevation gain) @ 15:12; 3 miles down at 13:32; 1.05 mile c/d plus 1.5 walk to lunch and dinner.

W: 3.99 miles walking sightseeing (including the botanical gardens); 2.45 walk to dinner and back.

Th: 1.57 jog w/u @ 13:35; 4X0.2mi @ 10K target pace with walking recovery; 1.32 jog/walk c/d; 1.15 walk to lunch/dinner

F: 1 walk to park; 2 miles up Mont Royal & 1 mile down @ 13:24 AVG; 1 easy jog down @ 13:37; 2.43 walk in town.

Sa: Gym workout. Treadmill intervals at 1%: 1 km @9kph; 25 bicep curls; 20 tricep extensions 10lbs; 1 km ladder 9kph-9.6kph 6+ minutes; 25 curls; 20 tce 10lbs; 1 km ladder 9kph-9.6kph 6+ min; 10 lb medicine ball abs 20 crunches; 25 reverse crunches; 25 side to side.  Total TM: 3.37km/2mi. Walk to lunch: 2.01 miles; hike up Mont Royal and back w/E and a friend the steep way, lots of stairs: 4 miles; 1.25 walk back to hotel

Sun: 0.81 walk to old port; 2.0 miles at the old port @ 10:27/mile w/E; 1.47 walk back; 2 miles walk to lunch and back in Little Italy.

Classic Montreal -- on our walk back
from the Italian Cultural Festival in Little Italy
Like last week -- nothing amazing in terms of running training, but 17 miles of actual running and 33ish miles of walking/hiking.  Progress.

And now, we're back in the US and looking forward to increasing the workout load in the coming weeks.

August 6, 2017

An Almost 30 mile week (SJ RNR week -9)

At this point in training (9 weeks before the first *actually* truly trained for race in over a year), I am very generous with myself.

Okay.  Let's be honest. I'm always very generous with my running self.  I like to cut her slack, encourage her, reward her, and do whatever I can to keep her going as long as possible.

For this segment, I looked up the 11 week, level 3,10K BAA training plan, and then modified it a bit to turn it into a 9 week program and put it in a spreadsheet to pretend for a day or two that I would do it all before I admitted that I wouldn't be able to hit anything close to what they recommended.

But it never hurts to have big goals.

So, here I am, coming off a year of lots of hiking and not so much running, with a couple slow 6ish mile pseudo-race efforts under my belt.  Finally starting to buckle down, and this week was humbling and great. 

My "big" goals resulted in this awesome basic return to running fitness week (note how I count the walking.)

Monday: 1.38 walk (lazy)

Tuesday: 4.01 easy run @ 12:07 min/mile (BAA recommended pace for my pie in the sky goal of a 1 hour 10k), followed by 0.73 walk cooldown; 1.57 walk to lunch.

Wed: Track Club (taking it easy and trying to hit the BAA recommended paces, which were slower than I'd usually go for):
   4X100 (25, 25, 27, 27);
   3X200 (56, 58, 62);
   2X400 (2:05; 2:09);
   1X800 (4:35)
3.27 miles total with drills, speedwork, jogging, walking recovery; Followed by an evening 1.5m walk to dinner

Thur: 1 @ 11:54;
      then walk/run intervals of 11X30s in the mid 8:00s/mile; with a few longer slower jaunts as well. 
      Total = 4.46m @ 17:37 AVG.

Fri:  1.7 walk in the afternoon;
      and 2.4 walk to dinner.

Sat:  5.03 "long" run & chat w/a friend on 5:00 run/1:00 walk intervals @ 13:10/mile average overall;
      0.19 walk c/d;
      1.27 walk afternoon.

Sun:  2.09 total in 24:31; AVG 11:43/mile;
      5 min jog @ 12:21;
      0.5 mile @ 9:42/mile pace;
      4:46 min jog @13:55;
      0.5 mile @ 9:47/mile pace;
      4:45 jog @ 14:38 and done! -- such a great workout!

You may wonder why I'm so enthusiastic about Sunday's efforts.  On paper, I might be too.  But in real life, I set an alarm, woke up early, and fit the workout in before 11+ hours of travel despite a crappy night's sleep.  Sometimes you just really need to pat yourself on the back for doing something you didn't feel like doing.

Also, this workout took just enough out of me that it felt super hard (no walking recovery, you have to keep moving in a semi-running motion on the jogging sections), and yet, when I was done, I was on a runner's high and happy and proud that I'd headed out instead of sleeping in an extra half hour before leaving for the airport.  It's kind of amazing how much joy you can get from such a simple thing as a solid basic super short race-pace interval workout.

August 2, 2017

Unpacking

When we bought our house (let's just round up and say 15 years ago), the carpets were pretty gross.  The prior owners had young boys and they'd done what young boys do.  E and I did a number on them over the years as well, and then, when my brother was living with us, he drove his wheelchair outside and then inside, bringing the outside in on his wheels every day.

So, before we moved back in, we figured we'd take the opportunity to replace the carpets since the house would be empty and none of the furniture would be in the carpeted rooms.  We moved everything to the house from storage, but the earliest the carpet installers can come is the end of the month.

This means, we are in a very slow mode of unpacking.  We found everything labeled for the kitchen and it is mostly all in its place (but, oddly, we still haven't found the silverware, so we're using disposable cutlery).  Everything else stays mainly in boxes and in the living room.

Note the walking path through the stuff on the tile...

It's so much stuff.

After a year of the same 7 days worth of clothes and very little else, it's shocking to realize just how much *stuff* we have when we live our lives based from home.  I have a medium sized moving box full of fabric bags (race bags, beach bags, gift bags, wine bags, etc.) that we primarily used as packing material.  I'll be taking it, along with another box full of T-shirts that we also used as packing material, and several other random things to Good Will. 

The reality is, we don't need most of what we have.  We did a bunch of purging as we packed up, and as we slowly unpack, we're doing more each day.

I've always had a compulsion to minimize my belongings.  But now, opening boxes to see a huge collection of stuff I haven't used or needed in a year, such as photos, shoes, or jewelry, actually weighs me down.  I left thinking I'd scan the photos when I got back.  Now, I'm seriously considering going through them once, limiting myself to 100 or so that I'll keep, and pitching the rest. 

Interestingly, because we'd remodeled the kitchen recently, very little in the kitchen feels like a burden.  The kitchen is probably the room in the house where I own the most physical objects (other than books) and yet, it feels like I will use almost each and every object that I unpacked in the next year.  For the most part I welcomed the unpacking of the kitchen -- I'd missed it!  I did find a set of bowls and a spice jar I added to the Good Will pile, but I also found a gorgeous wedding gift of a fancy Laguoile cheese knife set complete with gift card that neither of us remembered ever seeing before (11+ years ago -- I wonder if we sent a thank you?), so I think it evens out to zero.

It's not just the physical stuff I'm unpacking, of course.  I returned home to many tasks that I'd put off over the year.  Taxes, financial planning/management, administrative stuff for my law practice, a couple of family dramas that really need some focused attention, plus just general life management stuff -- they all have to be dealt with and addressed.  Preferably ASAP.  It feels like I'm reluctantly pulling a bunch of my life out of a dark corner where I hid it all year.  Most of it is stuff I'm not happy to see.  I loved the illusion that I didn't have it to deal with it that I was able to maintain.  Perhaps some of it is possible to outsource or ignore more than I have traditionally.  I will likely spend some time investigating that.

And then, of course, there are the habits.  I've completely forgotten how much work consumes me and distracts me.  How when I'm fully consumed by work, I have to keep lists for everything or it won't get done.  How I need to plan my day the night before so I can do all non-emergent detail management before bed. I'm slowly returning to the processes that keep me sane and on track when I'm working.  Again, perhaps I won't return to all of them, but many of them are actually necessary when I'm working, and I'm starting to realize that I was only able to shed them because I wasn't working.

And finally, there are the people.  If it's possible, I became even more of a true introvert this year.  This year confirmed that E is my favorite person and I love spending time talking (and not talking) with him.  My other close friends and family with whom I've reconnected since our return are the same -- I enjoy our long discussions and I feel safe if I need to be quiet. 

Socially interacting with groups of people I actually know and have relationships with is exhausting in a way I'd forgotten.  The second night in our home we attended a wedding and it was so great to see so many people we hadn't seen in so long.   But it was also so demanding.  Strangers with a foreign language?  I can talk to them with joy and exuberance -- fueled by the fun of learning more language.  Strangers who know my friends?  There's so much to think about and process and worry about when meeting and speaking with them -- I don't want to say the wrong thing or offend.  My close friends know that I often say things in a way that others wouldn't say them.  They know that harsh words from me may not actually be intended as harsh -- it may just be how my weird way of thinking works.  In a foreign language, these mistakes are forgiven as *language* errors.  But in English, at home, with acquaintances, they are nothing except impolite, insensitive, or awkward, so I have to work *really* hard to avoid them.

In a way, I'm glad we're stuck in this pseudo-unpacked physical state for a month.  It's giving me time and physical space to be thoughtful about how my old life was and how I'd like my new life to be after the lessons learned on the road.