Friday, July 6, 2012

11 Random Questions

Hey Guys -

I was tagged in Gina's blog to participate in 11 Questions. I didn't follow the rules  - because I am a rule breaker, ya'll - so this is just answers to Gina's 11 questions.

It's my first vlog attempt (gotta love the spot youtube chose to freeze my face). I didn't have any editing abilities - I just kept stopping and restarting my camera, so there's no fancy bling off my super white teeth or general editing, so you get to hear my ums and learn a new word "enroached". :)


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Why I Don't Bake

I don't bake. Or cook actually. I occassionally grill, but not with like... stuff. Just the meat and the flame. I make cereal, toast, and pb&j. J does all of our cooking. The #1 reason for this is that I am accident prone.
Don't believe me? When I was 9ish, I was taking a chicken pot pie out of the oven to feed my brother and I dinner, and there was a hole in the pot holder. I burned my finger on the pan, and it made me flinch/jump so hard that my knee whacked the oven door, which then closed onto my arm - still in the oven. Then I went into shock. Luckily my 6 yr old brother came into the kitchen to see why I yelled, grabbed the oven door and ripped my arm out - skin still melted to the door. Ick. So I've been semi-afraid of the oven door ever since.

Then there was the time in 8th grade where I somehow stuck my hand into liquid sugar just as it was hardening, and in the time it took to flinch, had already hardened around my fingers. The principle's office was unfortunately right across the hall, and he had concerned parents wondering why a child was screaming primally in pain during cooking class. I was actually asked to not go back to Home Ec, and had to take a study hall.
The oven also once turned into a complete inferno when I attempted to CLEAN it. Then there was the time I was making myself eggs, when I accidentally sprayed the non stick stuff into the flame and my shirt caught fire. At one point, I was banned from everything but the microwave, and if J knew about the time the popcorn bag caught fire, I wouldn't have been able to use that either. The few attempts at dinner that I have tried have become epic failures only noteworthy for the story you could tell about them. In short, I don't cook.


This morning Melbs mentioned that she had attempted to make a chocolate chip cookie pie, which didn't go well. My absolute favorite pie (actually the only one I like - reason #2 for not cooking is that I'm a very picky eater) is Derby pie, a Louisville classic that is presented for the Kenttucky Derby each year. I like it so much that my mom makes it for Thanksgiving and Christmas every year too.

Delish! Also, source

When I found the recipe online, I looked over at the nutritional facts, and was shocked (in a good way) to find out that 1/8th of this pie is only 506 calories (I was guessing 2k+) and actually had 5g of protein. So I jokingly texted my brother with this information and told him I was going to bake one right now! (Bt dubs, he is actually an excellent baker - he had a cupcake bake off against 8yr old. Syd last summer and even SHE voted for his cupcake)

His response was:

Rob: Wait, hold on a second.... Go through the checklist before you bake:
Rob: 1) Is the bottom of the oven full of highly flammable turkey grease?
Rob: 2) Is J there to tackle you out of danger should something go horribly wrong?
Rob: 3) Do you have the proper makeup tools to draw your eyebrows back on in the event of a fireball?

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Bro! Based on his feedback I'm going to go make myself some... chocolate milk. And probably papercut my tongue with the spoon while I'm at it.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The spokesperson... but not the posterchild

The Spokesperson:

I promised I would follow back up on my experiences with Crossfit, and I’m shocked that 3 months have already gone by. To say that I love crossfit is possibly the understatement of the year. I don’t know what I did before it. The aspect that I like the most – and that I was least expecting – is the community. I’ve met a bunch of great people, and I’m enjoying the camaraderie. This weekend Crossfit Infernal participated in the “Crossfire Throwdown”, with Firebird Crossfit. So many people went just to cheer on the participants, and have a good time together (some of these pictures are of the event). There’s something special about watching people push themselves to their max, and being able to share the glory and the struggles with them. It makes you feel connected.

Competitors from Regionals cheering on the last competitor - I LOVE this!
I am still afraid almost every day, but I’m starting to relish the chances to challenge myself, and to get better. There is still an endless amount of work to be done, but I’m starting to see progress, and that makes me hungry for more.

3 Month Accomplishments:

- I have successfully met my goal of crossfitting 6 days a week, even though it meant giving up running for awhile. I’m starting to bake running back in, because I still want to run the Summer Series over the next few months.

- After not running at all for 6 weeks, I broke my 5K PR time again this year – 34:XX, and crushed my 4.2 mile time in 47:06. It also felt easy. @Autamday and I have decided that after the hurt of crossfit, everything else is cake!

- I Rx’d a workout – and it was a Hero WOD – thanks ‘Randy’!

- I completed the 100 Lunge Challenge – 100 Lunges a day for one month – next up: pushups and planks!

- I’ve increased my Olympic lifting weights to *almost* Rx capacity. I’m up at least 20lbs in deadlifts, overhead lifts, cleans, and even +10lbs in shoulder press (my upper body’s nemesis)

From the Crossfire Throwdown. In front, Vanessa. In red behind her, JRo. Both are Legit!
But Not the Posterchild:

J has a new joke that every day I come home with a new bruise/gash/injury. It’s unfortunately fairly accurate. As the least graceful person on earth in the gym, I assigned myself bandaid duty. I have been able to avoid injuring anyone else, but not so lucky with myself. Ejemplos:

- In one week I had all of the crossfit stigmata – torn hands from pullups, bruises on my wrists from KB snatches, collar bone bruises from cleans, bruised knees from burpees/lunges, and gashes on my shins from box jumps fails

- I have permanent blue bruises on my collar bones from cleans and front squats.

- I recently dropped a 45lb barbell from over my head onto the middle of my back. Luckily just a scrape and a bruise, but there was a moment when I thought I broke my back – scary!

- I am the box monster’s bitch right now. After two painful falls, I’ve spent the last 8 weeks doing step ups until the scabs heal. One of the doctors who works out with me took pity on me and gave me a miracle patch that regrows skin, which was amazing, but I do have a 3+ inch cicatrix (you can’t call this baby a scar, as it’s one of those big wrinkly ones) on my left shin. The right shin is healing better – I’ll probably be able to call that one a scar, and it’s only 2 inches long. I will be wearing shin guards until further notice.

Coach Derek, with a cool 205 lbs over his head during the competition.
 Random Benefits of Crossfit:

- My 50lb luggage feels pretty light now

- I can now open the RV gate on the side of the house without assistance

- Carrying the groceries in no longer seems like a daunting task

- I received a (now revoked) free pass to buy summer training gear at Lululemon

The man who revoked my Lulu pass is in black. His partner George is in red. Yes ladies, those arms come home to me. ;)
Updates to 2012 Physical Goals:

- Complete a marathon

- Sub 29:24 5K – currently down to 34:XX. My plan is to do crossfit in the summer in the late afternoons, get acclimated to working out in extreme heat, and hope that the last 5 minutes just melts off. Much easier than doing sprint work and drills!

- Beat the Box Monster – I am going to slay this monster this year.

- RX a weighted workout

- Switch to guy pushups yo – I’m *almost* there. I think the next 30 days challenge will make the difference.

- Do an unassisted pullup – A long way to go on this one. If I get it done by the end of the year, it’ll be a miracle.
Julie Foucher at Regionals - that's a 70lb dumbell. She's also like 5'4.

Every day is a chance to improve, a chance to get better. I'm relishing the opportunities to grow!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Race Report: Pat's Run 2012

Note: Pat's Run is a 4.2 mile race that takes place each April in Tempe, AZ in remembrance of Pat Tillman, who played football for Arizona State University, and the Arizona Cardinals in the pros. He quit the NFL after 9/11, signed up for the Army, and was later killed by friendly fire. He was a renaissance man - a true intellectual - and I love that it's THE race of the year here. The majority of the 30,000 people who participate are not your typical athletes, and participate with their families.
I had planned to run Pat's Run this year with Autam, as her hubs is out on military orders, and mine runs at the speed of light. Seriously, it is absolutely no fun to watch your partner disappear off in the distance. Then our crossfit box asked for 100% participation, so I signed J and I up as members of their team. Autam waited a bit to sign up, and the race sold out this year (for the first time ever). J wound up giving up his bib, so that Autam could run with me *Aww, tear, melting hearts, best. hubs. ever!*

As part of my plan to not suck at crossfit, I've been going to Infernal Monday - Saturday each week (thank God they are closed on Sundays) and consequently I have not run at all in 5 weeks. This was planned, and it's been good to challenge myself in other areas, but I was a bit worried about the impact on my running fitness. So, I had a plan (shocking no one).

Goal 1: Have a good time, remember Pat Tillman, enjoy watching and encourage all the *new* athletes try their best. I knew I could ACE this goal, and be happy overall.

Goal 2: Suffer the heat (oh yeah, did I mention it was 100+ degrees on Saturday), suffer being out of running shape, suffer weaving through the huge crowds of people, and finish in 60 minutes or less. This would still be a PR, but it would definitely indicate a rough day.

Goal 3: (Secret goal) Run hard, push myself to run without a walk break (which I've never done for four miles), beat the heat, hope my fitness has not disappeared, and race at the same really hard pace as the Sedona 5K in February - Finish in 50 minutes.

Goal 4: (SUPER SECRET - wouldn't even admit to it, if anyone asked) Be better than the Sedona 5K speed, run 11:30 miles - Finish in 48 minutes.

This was after, but still the light rail station...

We took the light rail in with some buds from Infernal, and as we were riding the train, Autam mentioned that her knees were giving her a bit of a hard time. That meant that we were instantly on Goal #1 for the day - no need to suffer if there was possibility for an injury. We got into Corral #17, and the race began. We then sat for 35 minutes before it was our time to get to the starting line. We could see people finishing as we were approaching the starting line - and it wasn't just the gazelles finishing. Normal people were done with the race before we even started. I was annoyed for about 0.2 seconds before I realized that it was super cool that the entire course was full of red shirts and people challenging themselves to honor Pat.
We started our race nice and easy, without really making a decision on when we would walk, but just knowing that we would say something if we wanted to. We wove through the crowds of walkers, strollers, the Cardinals mascot and team (seriously, it had to be 30000 degrees in that furry suit). We saw military and police teams running with full gear on. We saw people running in shirts and honoring their own loved ones. Did I mention that the race course was FULL?
We just kept trotting along, checking in with each other, and enjoying the race. As we passed the second mile, I looked at my watch and saw that we at 22 minutes and change. My heart stopped. I mentioned to Autam that we were DEFINITELY PR'ing today, even if we walked the rest of the way. She told me later that my statement basically told her that we WERE running the rest of the way, and she sighed and settled in. That's actually not what I meant, but I'm glad her knees were up for the challenge.

We did stop briefly at the water stops, because they were complete chaos, but otherwise ran the whole thing. It was an easy, comfortable run. The 5K point was 34:51 - a new PR at 5K! As we entered the stadium and ran to the finish, we grabbed hands and ran through the finish line together.You know, with everyone else.

Finish Time: 47:06*
*Yes, that beat my super secret goal! It's a 13 minute PR. WOO!!!

We felt like rock stars for the rest of the day, and it was a time I felt like I could actually admit to people and feel like they didn't think I was slower than a turtle. It also meant this:


Updated Fitness Goals:
  • Complete a full marathon - PF Chang's Rock n' Roll
  • Beat the box monster at 20" -  he's currently winning, but
  • Rx a workout - a named hero WOD with weights, no less! Thank you Randy!
  • Switch to guy push ups - almost....
  • Do an unassisted pull up - if this one happens in 2012, it will be a miracle.
  • Complete a sub 29:24 5K - current PR 34:51 from Pat's Run split

Plan for that sub 29:24 5K
- Keep doing crossfit in the late afternoon through the brutal summer. This will keep me acclimated to horrendous heat
- Run the Summer Series doggedly - keep pushing through each race, regardless of finish times. Know that a PR is probably not going to happen when it's 118 degrees out. Try for 2600 pts overall.
- Run with the girls at GOTR in the fall - use their enthusiasm for speed work training.
- Starting with Grasshopper Bridge 5K in late September, PUSH for the PR. Race at least once a month for the rest of the year in an attempt to get it.

Oh, for those of you wondering - I did check, and Adrienne Pollard didn't do Pat's Run. I'm still marking her for Summer Series!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

World Book Night!

If you're following this blog, you know that my first true love is reading. Don't let my office space fool you - it's library first, workplace second. I love the feel of a book in my hands, I love snuggling in for a good story, and I mostly love sharing a great book with friends.

I love to share books so much that I even had a stamp made.

I follow a bunch of book bloggers and bookish things on twitter, so when I saw a tweet about #WorldBookNight, "spreading the love of reading, person to person" I had to read more. You can too -

The idea is awesome. Basically, people write a short essay for where and why they would give away free books to non-readers. They select from a list of 30 available books, and if they are selected to be a giver, new pristine (FREE) copies of the books are sent to the giver's local bookstore to be handed out on UNESCO's World Book Day - April, 23rd. (In case you're curious, 4/23 is the date of Shakespeare's birth and death, and Cervante's death.)

I have 20 new pristine copies of the Book Thief. *Squeal*

The really cool part is that the 30 books selected this year were not your typical snorefests classics.  I've read about half of the books on the list, and I can tell you that they were all 4 star+ books. Some examples:
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
- Little Bee by Chris Cleave
- The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- The History of Love by Nicole Krauss 
- The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
- The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
*And the one I requested and was selected to hand out - The Book Thief by Mark Zusak*

I can't wait to give these books to the Child Crisis Center here on World Book Night. I think the coolest part of the whole thing is that these books were printed specifically for the event, so they have a very special message of the front cover:

I love the line "No one finishes a book the same person as when they started, whether filled with a new understanding of life or just happier for the hours lost in a good story" - what a great way for a non-reader to be introduced to the love!

Also, let it be noted that they didn't cheap out on this. The Reader's Guide is there, a conversation with the author, recommendations for other similar titles - it's a quality paperback book. I know that World Book Night will be a huge success, and I'm looking forward to many years of sharing the love of reading!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Kids and Electronics aka Why I'm a Bad Parent

The hubs and I have decided to get his 9 year old daughter a phone, to give to her when she comes out this summer. I understand that this may be a controversial topic, however this was not a decision that was made lightly, or rashly. The reasons for it are too personal for the interwebs, but for this particular situation we feel like it is the best choice for our family.

Not my stepdaughter. Also source.

I *may* work for a large wireless carrier, and I may have had a line of service that was collecting dust which helped the decision making process. I may also have been able to procure the device for free during the St. Patty's holiday sale, and it's not going to cost me anything extra each month. I am also painfully aware that every other customer service call that my company receives starts with "My kid went over their allowance, and now my bill is $10,000..." so as soon as I got the phone, I started downloading games (fun and educational ones) and then started to put it on complete and total lock down.


She can only call specific numbers that are currently programmed into her phone. If she attempts to add a new contact, or call a number not currently listed, she's going to get an error message. If anyone tries to call her from a phone number not on her special dial list, they won't be able to get through. This also goes for text messages - sent and received. Yes, I am a genius.

Her phone will actually stop working if she approaches her allowance threshold - voice, data, or text - and will not reset until the next bill cycle, so she physically can't go over her usage.

The phone is also set up so that she can't text or call even her special people during certain times of day - examples of where this would be important would be during school hours, after she's supposed to be asleep, etc.

She can play the games that I've downloaded for her, but she can't download any new games, songs, movies (even free ones) unless I temporarily unlock her phone for her - which I can do remotely, since she's generally in FL and I'm generally not.

Lock, meet Key. *evil laugh* Source

Here's where the 'I'm a Bad Parent thing' starts.
The final step was to add usage controls to the content she could see on the internet. The options were for ages 7+, 13+ or 17+. I started with the 7+, and tested it, and then the unbelievable happened.

The phone couldn't access Google.

Google is my best (imaginary) friend, people.

This was inexcusable! How would she be able to answer the thousands of inane questions that go through a child's mind on a daily basis? She actually used google last summer to teach me a math problem I was struggling with at work. I swear, she looked up "How to do weighted averages in English" - kids are brilliant. This usage control was going to take that away?! The horror. I couldn't fathom locking it down. I couldn't take that potential knowledge from her.

So I moved up to 13+, and I tried again. She could get into Google, but she couldn't get into Wiki.

Wiki is my back-up (imaginary) best friend.

So then I went to 17+, but she still couldn't access Wiki. So then I gave up. I removed the content usage control.

*YAY Internet freedom!* Source

So here's where I want to ask you for your opinion. Do you think you should lock up knowledge to protect your children from accessing websites that could have foul content, or do you let them learn to enjoy learning, and teach them when they have questions about foul content?

All comments are welcome, but try to be respectful of the fact that people have different opinions.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Personal Feelings on Kony 2012

A little secret for you all - If I was independantly wealthy, I would become an active advocate for The Girl Effect. Since I'm not, I do what I can. I would not classify myself as a rabid feminist. I wear skirts. Even when I run. I love sparkles and pink. I don't think women should be exactly the same as men - we're not. But I do think girls should be given the opportunity to be educated. I do think girls can help their communities and economies with their own skills. And I do NOT think that girls should be raped and hacked up with machetes as a tool of warfare, and psychological domination. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.

My interest in the Girl Effect leads to a variety of subjects, and non-profits that I support. I was first introduced to Women for Women International in 2007, when I signed up for a local race "Run for Congo Women" (and yes, it annoys me that it's not grammatically correct). WfW focuses on helping women in war torn regions receive an education - learning to read and write, but also technical skills - developing a skill, learning to run a business, understanding legal rights.

I have a passion for Kiva, where letting someone in the world borrow $25 can help them with their business - which they pay back, and you can give to someone else to help with their business. I've helped 89 inidividuals and groups of women to improve their businesses in 45 countries. I loan to Christian women, and Muslim women. I loan to women in the US and Uganda. Their repayments go to new loans, so they are really helping each other. I LOVE that.

In addition to WfW and Kiva, I support Refuge Point. My SIL was one of the first people to come to the US after the Refugee Act was passed. She works for Refuge Point, who provide protection, health and community service to refugees and refugee camps in war torn regions of Africa.

Which brings us to Joseph Kony. Kony is a bad guy. He is the leader of the LRA, and has spent 27 years stealing children, turning them into soldiers, forcing them to rape and kill people, and has torn up several countries in Africa in his attempts at domination. The #Kony2012 campaign has one aim - to capture Kony, and have him stand trial for crimes against humanity.

The Kony 2012 campaign by Invisible Children is easy. All it's asking for is that you be a voice. You don't have to donate, though you can. You don't have to contact your senators, though you can. All that is asked is that you watch a video, and share it. Your job is to create chatter - and if you're reading this blog, you can create chatter.

Non-profit work is hard. It's often not as successful as people hope. If you want to see the good, bad, and ugly of grassroots work, I heartily recommend that you read Half the Sky, by Nick Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn. It shows how hard it is to do a good thing, even when you want to. There's been some backlash that this is too easy. That it won't really accomplish anything. People like to poke holes. They like to feel superior. They like to say that a situation is too complex, that something is too simple. That it can't work.

But sometimes, to conquer an enormously complex issue, you need to start small - otherwise the task is daunting and paralyzing. Kony 2012 is as small and as granular as this specific issue can get. Catch one man. It won't solve everything. But if it works, it can show that Humanity outranks Politics. It shows us that together we can do a lot more than we can divided. And it creates a beginning - a roadmap - that we can use to get better, and deeper, over time.

I believe in positive thought. I believe that we are all connected. I believe that if people push a positive idea, it can overtake a negative one. Some people call it collective consciousness. Some people call it group prayer. Some people call it hope.

My Dad told me when I was a kid that if I did something, I could assume that other people would do it too, but if I didn't do something, I had to assume that no one else would either. I'm choosing to do something. I'm spreading the message. Watch the video. Make a choice. Make Kony famous.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I'm still alive people, and I have a new obsession...

This post is about my experiences at Crossfit Infernal in Chandler, AZ. They are not aware that I'm posting this, and my opinions are completely my own. If you're interested, you can check them out at, or on twitter at @CFInfernal

OK, so about a month ago, I told you all that I was going to try Crossfit. Then I didn't post anything for a month, so I'm sure you thought I died attempting to do a hand stand push up, or something equally heroic.

Hint: I can't do this
Well I didn't die (yet). However, I absolutely love it, even though it still terrifies me, so I'm going to tell you why. (Did you hear @autamday just groan, because she's heard me talk about nothing else for the last month? 'Cause I did. I heard her groan.)

My first day at "the box" (which I'll admit always sounds a littly dirty)
  • I was immediately greeted by Will, in a very open and friendly way. He made eye contact, he didn't look at me and scoff. By the way, this is Will:
Will Howard
In case you thought that open friendly eye contact meant a lack of intimidation
  • He took me through a starter work out to get a handle on my (lack of) fitness. This included 500m row (cake), 400m run (I'm still slow at 400 m), 40 squats (surprisingly ok!), 30 situps (I was hoping for death about 15 in), 20 push ups (girly ones allowed, still stunk), and 10 pull ups (or as I like to call them, jumping up and down on a box while holding onto a bar)
  • He was very encouraging and nice. His coaching was constructive and positive. He made me feel like I did a good job.
  • I stayed for the real workout, which J attended. About 4 minutes into it J was trying to be supportive, and I wanted to die of humiliation. We left mad at each other, and determined (again) that we cannot work out together. We also determined that this was completely my fault - which it honestly is.
Day 2:
  • Where I met Greg, one of the owners. He was possibly even nicer, and very welcoming. He told me to do "only" 75 wall balls, rather than 150, and let me do every 3rd monster truck tire flip, instead of every other one.
Greg Santilli
This is Greg. Totally not intimidating, right?
  • My notes for this class said "I feel proud!"
Day 3: Greg again
  • The workout was 30 handstand pushups, 40 pull ups, 50 kb swings, 60 situps (remember when I wanted to die at 15?), 70 burpees
  • Eileen: So... I can't do any of those things
  • Greg: Give it a try. We'll scale if you need to
  • Eileen: *dies*
  • Eileen actually completed something along the lines of this workout in 22:15, which was approximately 12 minutes slower than her husband. She knows this, because the box has a white board where everyone's daily results are listed. This validated that they should not work out together, ever.
  • My notes for this workout said "My knees were down on the pushup, even with the blue band (the heaviest assister) pull ups are still impossible, kb swings were at 18lbs, sit ups meh. Burpees had horrible form, I don't even know how people can do these. This was really tough - but I will get better."
  • Coach Greg made sure to tell me after class that I had done a really good job.
  • Note: the next day, I was trying to make myself eggs, and I couldn't press the spray on the spray can down. True story.
Each class has gotten better, and I've been more and more confident that I can survive the class. I even attended a class with J last Monday morning, and I was not super self-conscious, and consequently we decided that maybe we can occassionally work out together. Yay!

Overall What I Love:
  • I love the coaches. They are all bad asses, but they ensure that the environment is positive, supportive, and community based. There's no egos in this place. I could see making friends here.
  • I love that scaling is a part of learning. No one looks down on me for modifying a workout to my abilities. The coaches do make sure that I'm challenging myself, but will never ask me to do something I can't physically do.
  • I love that it exposes your weaknesses, even the most unusual. For example, I am totally incapable of jumping with both feet at the same time. No, I swear, it's true. I cannot jump on a box with both feet. I can't jump rope with both feet. I can't frog jump with both feet. I can't jump through a tire with both feet. I always lead with one foot. Who knew that it was even possible to have that problem?! Still, now that I know this, I can work on it.
  • I love that every day I need to have a pep talk with myself, and listen to inspirational music on my way, and read off my tools for being mentally tough to get in the door, but I've gone every time, and I feel like a rockstar when I leave.
  • I love that they post the WOD's for the week, so I can youtube school myself on things like "What is a turkish get up?" and "What does AMRAP mean?"
  • Related - there's a website that has amazing amounts of detail for the maven in me.
  • I love that Bonnie (another coach) yells at my hubs, and he loves it. I also loved her face the first time I did a clean and jerk, and was so excited/amazed that I immediately dropped the bar and bear hugged her. I don't think enthusiastic hugging happens that much here.
Bonnie Atilano
She can also maybe lift more than he can...
Updated Pysical Goals for 2012:
  • Complete a marathon
  • Run a sub-29:24 5K, achieve 2600 pts in the Summer Series
  • Stay under 150 lbs
  • Do an unassisted pull up
  • Switch to real pushups, yo.
  • Beat the box monster at 20" - it's totally mental. I need to stop thinking and just DO it.
  • Rx a workout (do it as actually prescribed) - which will not be happening this week.
I feel great challenging myself at something I'm not good at. Every day that I attend class is a victory, and I feel proud no matter how much I blew up the workout!

Monday, March 5, 2012

11 Random Questions

Several weeks ago, I was tagged by the beautiful and talented Gina at This is Not Your Blog, and asked to answer several questions. Generally, these questions are a bit lame, but hers were Phenominally Difficult, and it's taken me quite some time to digest, and answer honestly. So, without further ado...

1. What was the greatest live music experience you've ever had?
My initial thought was the Incubus 4/20/02 concert, in So Cal - a home show, the kickoff to a new tour for Morning View, on a date important to some of their audience members (I've never smoked, but I get that it's a special day). It was awesome. They even played Certain Shade of Green, which is one of my favorites, and which they NEVER play live. Also, it was a great road trip with my girl @autamday.

But then I started thinking about it, and i realized that the greatest live music experiences that I had were when I was PLAYING the music.

(note: For those new to my life, I grew up in a very talented musical family. My brother is a world class drummer, and my father was concert master of the Boston Symphony Orchestra as a teenager. I was never as talented, but I worked harder so that I could 'hang with the fam. I played piano from 5-9, then quit over a disagreement with my piano teacher, who thought Jazz was lame. I started playing alto sax at 11, and quit when I was 18 because I did not want to access the parts of my soul that were grieving over some family stuff. I regret it.)

[Even more random note: I felt like Voldemort when I just said I regret it, but I actually do regret it, just in case it sounded cold and heartless to you too.]

So, I searched through the memory banks, and declared the most awesome live music experience as the Las Vegas band trip, when Jazz played Channel One Suite, the crowd went wild, and we felt like rock stars.

2. What was your worst date ever?
Guess who only went on one official date her whole life? To her husband? The worst part was that it started raining (people in AZ can hear the doom coming) and my wind shield wiper fell right off the car. These things happen when they only get used once every 600 days or so...

3. If money is no object, what would your dream vacation be?
I've already done my dream vacation. I scraped my pennies together until I could spend the better part of a month touring China. It. was. awesome. Everything I've wanted to see since I was 4 years old. My second dream vacation would be spending several weeks in one of those houses in the water in Fiji. Kind of of Isle of Esme style, minus the whole throwing up and being attacked by my fetus part. Destroying bedroom furniture optional. :)
4. Would you rather live in a crowded city or small town?
I would rather live within my budget in a small town (hello, Gilbert, AZ), but if money were no object, my dream place to live would be Cambridge, MA (part of Boston, so big city). Second up would be Solana Beach, CA (in between Cardiff and Del Mar/Torrey Pines) on the beach.

5. Would you be willing to murder one innocent person if you knew it would guarantee an end to all world hunger?
Man here's where the tough ones started. I've been thinking about this for weeks. My answer is - Yes, because innocent people die from hunger every day. According to the World Food Program, 925 million people do not have enough to eat, and undernutrition contributes to five million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries - that's 13,698 children under 5 each day. So yes, I would murder one innocent person to save 925 million people from going hungry.
Wouldn't you?

6. When did you last cry in front of somebody (who is not your partner)?
I cried my eyes out when I finished the PF Chang's Marathon in January - for all to see.

7. Would you be willing to endure night terrors- every night- for the rest of your life if you were given vast personal wealth to use however you wish in exchange?
I have night terrors already, so where's my money b*? Honestly, I hate having night terrors so much that I tell myself every night before bed "Deep, dreamless, restful sleep" and I'm generally able to turn them off. If I forget though... bad night ahead. First night terror was when I was 4, the statue of Mary in my Aunt Mariellen's dining room turned into the Quik bunny, who chased me around the house with a knife until he had sliced off every appendage I had and went in for the final thrust (you can imagine the impact on my religious feelings) The nightmare I have most often is a plane crashing on me. Always happens on a very sunny day when I'm very happy and with family. It's slowly falling out of the sky, generally on fire, and I can't tell which way it's going to fall, so I keep running this way and that until it crashed on me. You're welcome for these visuals.

(note: I was going to put a picture of a plane crashing here, but when I googled it, my heart started racing. So... no picture.)
 8. If you could choose the manner of your death- but not the timing- what would you choose?
A way that would allow me to tell my family that I love them, but not prolong the agony for them (or me.) I can't get any more specific than that because I'm afraid I would test fate. Yes, I am superstitious, even though I'm not religious.

9. Would you rather switch back to black and white TV with only five channels, or no internet?
I would rather have no TV. I don't really watch it, and although I'd miss the Biggest Loser, and the Olympics, I could watch those on the INTERNET. Take my TV now, can we cure world hunger with that?

10. If you could use a voodoo doll to hurt somebody, would you do it?
So, funny story. I may or may not have used voo doo dolls for people in the workplace. There was this one guy, Gregg, who drove me insane with his obtuseness, so I had a voo doo doll for him. I'd just pin him in the legs, no big deal. It was cathartic. Then one day I was talking to a coworker in NJ, who was telling me that she was waiting for Gregg because they carpooled, and I said "GREGG?! Gregg ******? Uh, I wouldn't sit within 10 ft of that guy, he drives me crazy!" and then she mentioned that since they were engaged to be married, it made sense to carpool.
*Insert foot here*
So, I sent them his voo doo doll for their wedding.

I'm shocked by how many voo doo pics have pins in the eyes, not cool people. Also:

11. What if the voodoo doll was only able to annoy them tremendously (for example: causes pervasive itching of genitals while in public, causes slight ringing in ears at nighttime, etc), would you do it?
I absolutely LOVE this idea. My favorite local bookstore - Changing Hands - has voo doo doll notepads, which I'll admit I've been eyeing for quite some time, but now I HAVE to get them. This is the Best Idea Ever!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Doing Something That Scares Me

Several years ago, I stumbled upon a Chinese Elemental Profile test, which gave insight into personality traits, as they related to the five Chinese elements - earth, fire, water, wood, and metal.

The goal is to have aspects of all five of the elements in balance, however, no one ever really attains that. The test was supposed to give you the element that you had in excess, and the element that you were deficient in, and then give you ways to balance it. However, these were (and still are) my results:

You have an excess in Metal
You have an excess in Metal

Apparently, I'm so metal, that everything else is deficient. I've also learned that the rooster is a metal sign, and I was born in the year of the Metal rooster. Destiny?

What does Metal  mean?
Metal types are principled, disciplined, and structured, always striving to find order in chaos. Masters of inner meaning and ceremony, they love precision, and dislike conflict and disorder. By understanding the internal principles that guide outer reality, they create a world that fits their ideals. It is this ability to understand, deconstruct, and reconstruct high-functioning systems that is Metal’s gift to humanity.

When Metal is in harmony:
  • Methodical, disciplined, composed, honorable
  • Most comfortable working by the rules, within a principled structure
  • Able to find order in chaos, loving neat precision
  • Able to synthesize a lot of information to produce new systems of thought
When Metal is in excess:
  • Rigid, bossy and self-righteous (me? No one has called me bossy for at least 3 days)
  • Perfectionistic to the point that no one can meet their standards (guilty)
  • Distant and detached from others (true)
  • Resentful, judgemental, and controlling (yes, sometimes true)
Metal’s Lesson: The world is not perfect, and neither am I

*Record scratching to a halt* I'm not perfect?!

It gives a lot of great hints - things like surrounding myself with more colors and shapes (really, silver sparkly iridescent is a color!), eating cooling foods, exercising consistently, and the big one: trying something new. *shudder*

"Try something you have absolutely no idea how to do. By forcing yourself into uncomfortable situations where you are not in control and do not know the system, you can help to relieve yourself of Excess Metal."

My anxiety level is rising just thinking about it. I'm actually sweating just writing this.
Maybe this sounds like a good time to some of you, but this sounds like the worst kind of torture possible to me. Not be perfect? Be uncomfortable? Embarrass myself? Be uninformed? I don't do these things. I practice and practice and practice at home in private, until I feel like I can do well in the situation. Fear of imperfection can be totally paralysing.

Which is why I'm going to start doing CrossFit.

CrossFit is a public, group fitness activity that focuses on strength, explosion, speed, and competition.

I am kind of afraid of all of those things.

I am extremely competitive, but I have serious deficiencies in upper body strength, explosion, speed, and in enjoying group activities.To give you an idea, I just ran my fastest 5K ever this weekend - in 35 minutes. That would be like 11+ minute miles, and I was working my tail off. My legs are very strong, but I cannot do a pull up. I can't even do a real push up. I also don't wear bikinis.

The scariest part of CrossFit is that it's not like I can practice at it and get better every week, because every. single. class. is. different. They never do the same workout twice. That means I will be totally uncomfortable EVERY TIME I GO.

And yet - I'm intrigued by it. I know I could be stronger. I AM competitive. I have recently found that I am much stronger in endurance than I thought possible. I am feeling healthier than I've felt in 10 years, now that I've given up on procreation and let my body be post-menopausal. I feel a debilitating amount of fear excitement in challenging myself in a new way. It could lead to building confidence, pride, and hopefully some definition. Best of all, for the first time ever, it's a physical activity that J and I can do together.
 What I like in this picture is not her thinness, or tanness, or perfect hair, but her look of confidence. I want that. So I'm going to try it. I'll let you know how much I shame myself, and how long it takes me to trip, fall down, or hit my head. I'll also let you know how great I feel when I conquer my fear!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cultivativing Laughter, Song, and Dance

If you know me personally, you know that I am a huge fan of Brene Brown, and you have probably been tied down and forced to watch her Ted Talk. If you haven't seen it yet, watch it. It's 20 minutes, and you can listen to it while you're cooking. It. changed. my. life.

Brene is a shame researcher, and to steal from the blurb on the Ted Talk she"studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share."

I've read all of her books (shocking no one), and actually took an online course on vulnerability that was amazing. There are many aspects of her research that have impacted me, but possibly my favorite has been re-introducing myself to cultivating laughter, song, and dance. Basically, letting go of being cool, and always being in control. (If this topic interests you, I also strongly recommend her book The Gifts of Imperfection, which is not self-helpy in any way).

I used to be someone who was "free" in every sense of the word. If I thought something was funny, I would laugh out loud, and possibly smash my eye into a music stand, causing a black eye for high school graduation (true story). When I played, if I was into the music, I danced around on the stage, even if it was a competition, even when I was getting the stink eye from my loving music teacher. I danced on tables at rest stops (not in a kinky way, just in a full of exuberance way). I sang loudly and poorly. I was connected to my feelings, and I had a rare ability to be an emotional catalyst - if I was "feeling it" the whole room would start to feel the same sense of joyfulness. I was pretty hard to ignore.

*note - in unrelated news, I had horrible teeth, which after 8 years of braces were eventually fixed. Unfortunately, I had pictures of these events, but I destroyed them all because I thought my teeth were ugly. Sigh. So, this is a pictureless post.*

The sad thing is that my superpower emotional catalysm worked just as effectively on the other side of the spectrum. If I was pissed, the hairs on the backs of people's necks would start to stand up. If I was brooding, not only was it totally obvious, but it could get ugly. I went through a rough patch or two, or many. I didn't want to feel the pain of those experiences, so I stopped playing music - my connection to my own emotions. I didn't want to color the atmosphere with my own negativity, so I stopped projecting. I stopped tapping into myself.

Eventually, I got over my rough patches, I found some peace. However, I continued to censor myself. I told myself that my emotions were too powerful, that I was a grown-up now, that people would think I was weird. But the reality was that I was afraid to feel. And by numbing the bad emotions, I was also numbing the good emotions.

Then I watched this Ted Talk, and read this book.

I've spent the last year working on my vulnerability - my willingness to feel in front of the people I care about, and not just in the shower by myself. It's been a remarkable process.

I've reconnected with a friend who I missed dearly by choosing to reach out, to apologize for something that happened 13 years ago, even though I was terrified of being scoffed at, ignored, or derided.

I've been able to establish a great connection with a new friend, who I allowed to enter my personal bubble about 5 years before admission is allowed, normally after rigorous testing, and development of trust. It's been wonderful, and fulfilling.

My hubs and I have been able to talk with complete honesty and openness about huge topics that would change our lives forever, without worry of being judged, deemed unfit, or selfish.

I've worked with a counselor, and been able to work through my relationships with my family, with my sense of self, and my fear of having to solve impossible problems.

I danced, laughed, and sang publicly during a race when everyone around me was suffering, and I know I connected with at least that guy running in the hoola skirt, and the belly dancers. More importantly, I connected with myself.

Do you ever let yourself dance with abandon? Do you sing out loud in the car, even when the people you love are in it? Do you allow yourself to feel the good stuff and the bad stuff?

Seriously, watch the video.

Monday, January 23, 2012

My First Marathon - The Long Version w/Pics

The race was awesome! The weather was perfect – started a little chilly and cloudy, and stayed that way throughout the race – which is huge when it’s AZ. There was no sun beating down the entire time. There was not a 40 degree difference from start to finish.

I had a great time throughout the race, but it was the people who really made it. I met my Mom at mile 8 (the race went right past her house), and she rode her bike throughout the rest of the race with me. She carried water and electrolyte for me, since I was afraid that as a back of the packer, the race would run out (they didn’t). She also had snacks, lip gloss, sunscreen, body glide – things I wasn’t sure if I would need, but didn’t want to carry.

I cannot make this picture go right side up, no matter how I save it. Ahh, technology.
She also met me at basically every mile to cheer me on, which was great.

The race ran past my friend KJ’s house at mile 15, and then again at mile 17. She and her husband were out there cheering me on, and made me an amazing sign.

I love that it was pink, covered in sparkles, had my name, and most of all – that she made it for me. She loves me for who I am (even if I am a person who sings Come on Eileen at the top of her lungs, in an incredibly sparkly skirt as she’s cheering me on).

Autam and J were scheduled to meet me at mile 24, and Autam was going to run the final two miles with me – which was actually quite a sacrifice, as her knees need to be rescoped . Instead, they surprised me at mile 22, which may have been the best surprise ever. I may or may not have been running in place at this point, but unlike most of the people around me, I wasn’t hobbled in pain, or stumbling around.

J hightailed it to the finish line, and caught me as I completely lost it after the race. He was so proud, and that actually made me feel proud of myself. He’s been so supportive of the entire process, and seeing him at the finish line was awesome. It was also great that he actually posted on facebook about the race – something he never ever does. Just showed me how much he cared.
I *may* have had to photoshop the "cold" part of this picture.
What went well:

- My training: I started training with a good base – about 10 miles as a standard weekend long run for 6 months or so. I was diligent in following my plan, but I also was willing to be flexible to account for colds and travel. I did all of my scheduled long runs, and I felt great the entire time. My food intake was deliberate, and I focused on making sure I was getting enough protein and some fats (which I actually struggle with).

- The right clothes: There was a big part of me that wanted to wear some other clothes for the race – accessorize appropriately, wear my @Runprettyfar blossom top that speaks to me with it’s “Find Your Bliss” message – but I was training in this outfit, and I knew it was going to work. I wound up having no chafing (which may have been a result of coating my entire body in body glide, deodorant and/or sunscreen) and I didn’t even have a blister. It was the right choice.

- Enjoying the moment: For me, the training was the hard part. The race itself was the celebration, and I wanted to make sure that I fully enjoyed the experience. I danced with belly dancers, I was chased by cheerleading wild animals who shouted things like “You look tasty!” I sang at the top of my lungs, and played air guitar as I ran around (possibly annoying the other people on the course). I fully allowed myself to BE present, and enjoy the good stuff, knowing that it would carry me through the bad stuff. Then there really wasn’t any bad stuff, and I was glad I had taken the time to enjoy it all.

- Listen to your body more than the experts: I may have read every single possible article, book, blog, and tweet about running your first full marathon, and I also sent out random questions on the interwebs, and got quick responses from very supportive people. It was great to have that info, but the running community said over and over again – listen to your body, do what works for you. For me, the smartest move was to not gorge on pasta. I had a little, and I did it two nights before, rather than the night before. However, the leftovers were possibly the best thing I’ve ever eaten AFTER the race.

What I learned:

- Body glide is way better than Vaseline , and doesn’t stain your clothes.

- Wear the right sized underoos - just trust me on this one. If your undies are too big, it’s going to chafe in the WRONG places.

- I’m much stronger than I thought I was – there was no wall, there was no agony. It almost seems surreal because it went so well. There were several training runs on the tready, where I finished and then questioned myself – did I do my math right? Did I really just run for 5 hours? Cause I swear it doesn’t feel like I did… I am strong, and healthy. I am powerful. I always felt like I was strong and determined, but now I KNOW I am.

My favorite race photo – of the finish! It’s hard to tell from the back but I was crying hysterically because the medical tent people were cheering me on so enthusiastically. They were also jumping up and down and doing YMCA, which for some reason was a very emotional song at that moment.

Of course my favorite picture won't load correctly either.
Opportunities for Improvement:

- Start the race on time. I was supremely annoyed that they were going to delay the race by 30 minutes because one light rail train was running late. I was even more annoyed because they didn’t bother to tell us this until we were all lined up and the gun was about to go off. I could have hit the portapotty.

- Don’t have the final miles of the race be the hilliest. There was one hill… one hill that was in the Papagos around mile 23, where I had the following conversation with Autam:

Eileen: As long as we aren’t going up that hill in the distance, I’m going to be fine. This is a piece of cake.

Autam: You’re doing great!
(5 minutes later)
Eileen: Please tell me we aren’t going up that hill?
Autam: …
Eileen: No, please tell me the course doesn’t go up that hill?!
Autam… um…
Eileen: Shit! We ARE going up that hill. *&%$#@@%&I)(&%
Autam: ….

- When the cheer teams are more tired than you are, it’s a problem. Seriously, watching cheerleaders really dragging ass, and hardly waving a pom pom as you trot by does not energize you in any way. I would have preferred no cheerleaders to tired ones.

And finally - These are the signs that my family made for me, that my mom used to cheer me on throughout the course. She then bullied J, Autam, and three random people to hold the signs up for a picture, making sure that they knew she did NOT want their faces in the pic! :)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Marathon - The Short Version

I'm going to be writing a longer post about the good, the bad, what I learned, that will be too wordy and longish, but for now, I will tell you how it went just by this short(ish) story.

One of my new years resolutions was to score 2600 pts at the Summer Series races. In order to put down a number I needed to do some extensive research - shocking no one - and while I was reviewing each of the 2009, 2010, and 2011 races, there was one woman who seemed like a good target. Her name is Adrienne Pollard (I don't actually know her, but this is the beauty of online results) and I decided to mark her this year. She's the woman I want to beat - or her times are.

Note: I'm very competitive, but I'm actually quite nice while racing. I always cheer people on, and try to be encouraging when people are suffering. I'm not like "Oh YOU'RE Adrienne Pollard? I'm going to eat you for breakfast. And then eat some breakfast." Really, I swear.
So I was just looking up my official time, which is about 15 minutes better than I was expecting (#winning!), but what made my day was the name directly below me on the results in my Age Group:

I have a feeling that 2012 is going to be a good racing year!