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Morning Mourning

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I hate morning. Screw you, sunrise. I should not get up before the sun gets up. No, I should not. But today I did. And I did not like it.

To all you morning runners out there: How the eff do you do it??? You are superhuman. I want to be superhuman. I am not. I cannot be. What do you have that I don’t??? I am so insanely jealous.
Or are you all just lying?? Trying to sound like running at 5:30a.m. is no big deal. “A great way to start the day!” (insert cheesy thumbs up). There are so many things I hear about running in the morning:
It’s sooo peaceful.
It’s such nice “me” time.
I feel wonderful afterwards.
I just love being able to watch the sunrise.
Conspiracy!! Rumors!! All of them!! Hearsay!! Blech. You are all just plotting against me. What peace? It’s just dark. Dark and peaceful are not the same things. 6 a.m. is CRAPPY “me” time! I am like a zombie!! Literally, I feel like there is no warm blood flowing through my body at 6 a.m. It does not want to move coherently. I miss my bed, my husband, my jammies.

Generally, when I run I feel good. I feel strong and capable. I feel like I have amazing, ripped calf muscles. I want the world to see them!!

But, in the morning it is dark. People are missing out on my calves. Instead their bright headlights are shining right onto my contorted, miserable looking face. Sorry morning commuters, I’m sure this is not a good way to start your drive. When I run at 2p.m., I imagine I look okay. Red-faced and sweaty, but passable. It is clear that what I am doing is running. When I run at 5:30 a.m., my legs and arms and head and neck and butt and toes are confused and unsure where to go. I look like I am trying to stir wet sand with all four limbs and sit down at the same time. Take a minute to picture that picture.

This is why I hate running in the morning. I miss the strong, capable feeling, and I have to mentally overcome the incompetent, slooooooow feeling.

I did not want to get out of bed at 5:30 today.
And yet. I did.
And I hated every second of it.

Biggest. Longest. Deepest SIGH ever.

I am trying to become a morning runner. It might kill me. I kind of want to die when I am cramming a bar into my mouth at 5:30, and again at 5:40 when I put my shoes on, and again at 5:45 when I turn on my headlamp.

But there seem to be some real benefits to running early.
Like, maybe we will have leftovers for dinner because I am too knackered to cook.
That’s a sweet deal.

BUT, I am doing this because it will be good for me. It really will. I want to run in the morning. I really do. I need some more run time, and morning run time is prime run time. I want this!! I want to run in the morning!! ARGH!! Why is it so hard!!? Also, last summer, my 4 a.m. Ragnar leg did me in. I have a conquest to conquer.

I can get better at this, right? I really hope I get used to it. Please, tell me it is possible. Because this is my Year of Speed. I am going to get faster. I vow to get faster. I can do it. I know I can. And if falling out of bed at 5:30a.m. will help it happen, I will fall hard!!

But first, I will Google.
“why run early in the morning?”

I only get one result.

This is not a good sign. And perhaps a Google first.

http://www.nomeatathlete.com/running-before-dawn/
But, I agree with everything he says. Except: Getting an early start extends your day and allows you to get more done. When you don’t have to deal with fitting in your workout later, you’ll find a lot more time on your hands to deal with your other responsibilities.

Sure, you may have to go to bed earlier, but for many, late night is the least productive time of day anyway, so what are you really losing?

Umm…I am losing sleep. I am often super productive at 10 p.m. Regularly until midnight! Getting an early start does not extend my day, I will just be awake for different hours. Hogwash, Greg! I am not buying what you are selling.

But I want to, so let’s try again. Come on Google….don’t let me down.

“benefits of running early in the morning.”

YEEESSSSS!!!!

“If you don’t consider yourself a morning person, the good news is that you can turn yourself into one, says Dr James Mojica, a sleep physician.”

Dr. James Mojica, I have never met you, but you are my new hero. I freaking love you!!!! I love what you are saying!! Say it again!! Say it loud!!!! I want to hear more!!! DO YOU WANNA BE MY NEW ROOMMATE!!!???

Oh this Dr. James Mojica, he is good. He is speaking my language. He even gives morning routine options. And they’re realistic.

http://www.runnersworld.co.za/training/training-know-how/running-in-the-morning/

This is what’s going to make this work:

1. I have support: My husband is on board. We picked out days that work for our family, and I know I can count on him to enable me to run.

2. I have good company: No way am I ready to run predawn by myself. I know that if I am supposed to meet someone, I won’t let them down. If someone besides me is depending on me, I’ll be there.

3. I have a plan. I am getting up the same days every week, and have routes ready to go. I know where they are, how far they are and how long they take me. I could probably close my eyes and let the dog lead.

Now, the all-knowing Dr. James Mojica says I need a mantra. Something to think as soon as I roll out of bed.

Let’s see….

Get up. Stand up. (too simple. i’ve gotta do more than just stand.)

This is fun! (snort!) (it’s gonna take more than that.)

I’ll sleep when I’m dead! (too morbid, can’t be thinking about death whilst half asleep.)

Get’er done. (forget it, this is not Cow Town.)

Okay. How about this. It’s not necessarily a mantra, but a memory, a familiarity, a comfort zone. For me, happiness is a state of activity. Happiness is moving and running, racing and flying. When running feels good, it feels really good. That feeling, knowing that feeling and seeking that feeling, that’s what keeps me running. Any time of the day. Or night.

O’dark-thirty, here I come.

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Core Repeater (wait two days before you thank me)

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I am feeling especially blog-dorky today. For some reason I can’t even find the editing tool that allows me to change font size. Sigh. I’d better go spend some quality time in the hammock with my daughter….Maybe we can zone out together and solve our problems in the cozy, rainbow comfort of a giant piece of hanging fabric. Sorry for my lack of words, but it’s a great workout – I do not lie. Do it once, do it twice, but don’t try it in a hammock. That’s not gonna end well.

Set1, 4 exercises, 30 sec. each, no breaks:

1. Jumping jacks

2. Russian twists

3. Push-ups

4. Sumo Squat

Core Set, do each exercise 10x:

Spider push-ups, 5 on each side. In a spider push-up  bring one knee to one elbow and hold in place while completing your push-up.

Tri-cep push-up

Push-up into side plank, back down into second push-up, then into a side plank on the opposite side

Plank walk 5 steps on way, 1 push-up, plank walk 5 steps the opposite way, 1 push-up. To plank walk, get into a proper plank position and walk your hands and feet to one side, one at a time. For greater difficulty move the same hand and foot simultaneously.

30-sec. rest

Set2, 4 exercises, 30 sec. each, no breaks:

Lunge Jump

Bicycles

Plank

1-legged squat (30 sec on each leg)

Repeat Core Set

30-sec. rest

Set3, 4 exercises, 30 sec. each, no breaks:

Fast feet (think Flashdance)

Matrix. To do a Matrix, kneel down with upper body straight. Bring your hands together in at your sternum. Holding your hands in place and keeping your back straight, lean back as far as you can, engaging your core, and then come back to the starting position. Keep your upper body stiff and straight.

Burpees

Dips

Repeat Core Set

30-sec. rest

Set4, 4 exercises, 30 sec. each, no breaks:

High knees

V-ups

Superman (hold it for 30 sec)

Squat jumps

Repeat Core Set

Aaaand, you’re done. Feel free to do the whole thing twice if you want 🙂

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Free-motional.

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Free-motional.

I am obsessing over fabric. And quilt patterns. Circles and Drunkard’s Paths. Things that have nothing at all to do with running, or physical fitness. Mental fitness? Possibly. NPR says yes, and I’m a fervent NPR believer, but often I am not smarter than my sewing machine, so NPR may have missed the mark on this one.

While I blog happily about running and circuits and Red Rocks and the occasional parenting, I’ve never blogged about something else I really love. Quilting. I even feel a little weird about saying I “love” it, because quilting and I only just started going together. Although, if we were dating, I probably would have jumped in the sack with quilting by the second date. I get all hot and goofy around fabric. Someone bring me a fan! And the actual act of quilting? Oh Mother! Quilting makes me giddy. Like slap happy teenage girl giddy. Like stalking basketball players in college giddy. Like I just chugged gallons of caffeine, then swam in it (wide-eyed without goggles), snorted it, then plugged it into the wall and had a techno dance party with it. I will stay up into the wee hours of the morning with my sewing machine, colored pencils and some batting; planning and doodling. So. Happy.

I have always, always, all.ways. had a creative outlet. I cannot survive without one. For years it was drawing and painting. Then as an adult it morphed into just general crafts. For a time it was knitting.

Then, I moved from the UK back to the US. One child morphed into two, and being a stay at home mom was my life. No time to paint. Are you kidding me? You want me to get out oil paint and turpentine around toddlers? In a house we own? No thanks. And knitting? Waaaay too much time. It took me months to produce anything. And yes, I acknowledge that I am a slow-ish knitter. And slow-ish just doesn’t jive with life with kids. At least not mine.

Then, I tried to learn to crochet. I saw that it was faster and still produced pretty sweet stuff. (Mainly hats. I have a thing for homemade hats.)

But the weird thing about crocheters (at least the ones at my disposal) is that they don’t follow patterns. They can’t tell you what they’re doing – they’re just doing it. I tried books and YouTube, went to the library and craft nights. After two years I successfully made one Hello Kitty hat for Amelia. That was it. I couldn’t wrap my mind around those different stitches and pattern abbreviations. K1P1 is stuck in my head and I get it. But, FPdc??? WHAT???

So there I was. Lost in Crafter Land. Not knowing what to make, which turn to take. Didn’t know whether to cut or paste, knit or purl. All that glue and fabric, wool and needles and only indecisiveness would sit next to me. So. Sad. Definitely a hole in my heart.

Then…one day I met Katie. She mistakenly thought I could sew. She invited me over to sew. Actually, the first thing she ever invited me to was a weekend rafting trip! Isn’t that a great way to become friends!? Fyi: YES.

But 3/4 of my family totally went on that trip, our husbands having never even met, and it was fantastic. And then, still delusional about my sewing abilities, she invited me to sew. Repeatedly. I mean, this girl was in full-blown denial about my relationship with my machine. I don’t even remember what I did the first time at her house. I am not sure I knew how to do much of anything except coasters and no-slip headbands. Which I am pretty good at 🙂

And you’re damn right I showed up at her house every time she invited me. Sewing machine at the ready.

Let me digress a little. I have owned a sewing machine for 7 years. I have been purchasing fabric and patterns for things for more than 7 years. But pretty much before October 2013 my sewing history was this:

One day, I found a sewing machine for sale, bought it and made 200 coasters for Christmas.

The woman who sold it to me showed me how to make a place mat, right on the spot. We even made binding for it. Didn’t know what binding was; whatever! I was sewing!

So, back to Katie. This Katie; I love her. I told her I wanted to make a quilt and she didn’t even think twice.  She shared her stash. She shared her space and her books and her brain and her tools and her everything. She helped me choose a pattern, and schooled me in quilting terms. She held my hand, she was patient and it was good. Very good.

Oh no. Don’t be misled. My quilt isn’t that good. It’s all wonky and the seams do not line up, and 1/4″ means nothing to me, but I’ll get better at that. Right? Please say yes. I tell myself that at least 10x a sewing night. My first quilting experience was brilliant. Just BRILLIANT. And in the end this is what I made:

Well…whataya think?

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And more on the experience? Well, some things I learned about quilting:

1. Quilting isn’t just for grannies. And if you insist on believing that, you go right ahead. I’ll take your Granny and raise you two more little blue-haired ladies. Quilting is awesome. If your granny quilts, maybe she’s more awesome than you think she is. Maybe she’s more awesome than you and all along you’ve never known…..(you have a secretly awesome granny!)

2. Quilting isn’t the actual act of making a quilt, it’s the sewing that you do to a “quilt top” to make it all textured and snuggly. I’m not sure that definition is in the dictionary, but go with it. It’s mine.  And Katie’s, of course. Textured and snuggly. And quilting can completely change the personality of a quilt. It’s magical. Unicorns and flying broomsticks magical. Harry Potter ain’t got nothing on quilting.

3. Piecing = sewing together all the pieces to make the top of your quilt. Me and piecing? Not friends. Not even frenemies really.

4. A quilt sandwich is the top, the batting and the backing all together. That’s what you baste and then QUILT.

5. Lots of people don’t quilt their own quilts!!! WHAT??!?!!?

6. I have learned about two ways to quilt:

a. Stitch in the ditch. Quilting over the existing seems. Possibly I will never stitch in the ditch. Those are straight lines, you know. Me and straight lines are like two opposing gangs in Chicago. Bloods and Crips. Or however you spell it. I’m a stay at home mom. I should not know these things.

b. Free-motion quilting. Oh my. HELL! YES!!! now you’re talking!!! The first time I free-motion quilted I cried.

No really. I did.

It was SO fun I cried.  I’m sure if you’re an actual living human you’ve cried from joy, but have you ever cried from straight up fun?  It may seem weird, and sure, my heart was all inside my chest confused about all this glee and where it came from(?) and not prepared for it at all, and I had to let it out or I would implode! I couldn’t squeal – there were kids sleeping. So I cried. A little. Or maybe like a medium amount. Like I said; magical. Once I put that quilt sandwich under my needle and began to move it around I saw that I could create something amazing. And that, my friends, that knowing you can flat out make something amazing, is a feeling second only to feeling true love.

6. Loads of quilters who are absolutely amazing at other aspects of quilting are not okay with free-motion quilting. They are scared to death of it. I do not understand this. Who wants to miss out on fun that makes you cry? Not this girl. But that’s okay; the quilting community, or at least a (freaking awesome) little enclave of it, has accepted me, so I can most definitely accept them.

This is my free-motion practice piece. I did some meandering and then I made a little monster:

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To go with the little monster sleeping under these little monsters.

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And then, flying high on the success of my first quilt and just DYING to free-motion quilt something else…I made this:

 

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I am kind of excited about it. I mean, look at it!! It’s bright and colorful and happy and playful and I made those lines with my sewing machine!!! My little Huskystar C20. Good little machine that I still feel like I know nothing about 🙂

My idea for this quilt was inspired by a beyond amazing quilter, Angela Walters. I saw this on her blog and was inspired: http://www.quiltingismytherapy.com/2014/02/17/busy-city-quilt/

But I knew I wanted it a little different, and I knew I wanted to just quilt the heck out of some big chunks of fabric, and I also wanted to try a little applique.

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So there you have it.

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Ahhh. I’mma go snuggle some fabric now….

 

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Verbal Gold

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Before the summer of 2012 I had never run with anyone. I’m talking never. I didn’t want to. I had issues with running with others. I even simultaneously trained for a marathon with my husband, but never once ran with him. It is true that I rarely run without my dog, but as wondrous as she is, she’s not human. And I have participated in sports that running was a part of, but I hated it. Even when I ran XC  in high school, I think I rarely enjoyed it.

But I’m a horse of a different color these days.

For 2 years now I have been running on Tuesday nights. With others. Other moms, other women who live nearby. At first I was totally anxious about this. For a few reasons, probably none of which are radically different from any other person’s. Here’s my reasons, and here’s how it played out:

Reason 1. Speed. I’m not always fast, (possibly never) and I wasn’t sure if my running friends would run at the same pace. Or be willing to change theirs. Or that I would be able to change mine.

BUT I really, really wanted to meet some like-minded mammas. So, I sought them out. I belong to a MOPs group and at the beginning of the 2012 summer I got in front of the whole group and invited anyone who was interested to workout and run with me. Anyone. (it was a big group, I thought there had to be someone!)

Celeste was the first one to show up. She looked all sleek and strong, like a greyhound. She talked of longer distances, and 9-minute-miles, and I was totally intimidated. It was not love at first sight. But it was loyalty at first step. She and I have been going strong now for almost 3 years. At first it was tricky. Celeste and I are quite different. I’m loud and sometimes pushy. I’m excited and jump around a lot. Celeste is zen. She’s calm and peace, gentle and kind.

If I were a thunderstorm she’d be a rain shower. If I were a lion she’d be an owl. If I were a Toyota Tacoma she’d be a Toyota Prius.

Could someone so full of grace and patience and good gas mileage like me???? And I assumed she would have to like me a little in order to want to run with me.

Reason 2 I was scared of running with others: Do people want to talk to each other when they run??? Would Celeste want to talk?  Should I talk?? Would I be able to talk? (I’m usually too busy gasping for breath) What the heck?? I didn’t know!!!! It was a little scary.

But after a summer of Red Rocks circuits and trail runs I was sold. I wanted to run with her. Always and forever. Sure, we weren’t totally settled on how much or how little to talk, but it was working itself out. And our pace was good. I still feel like she can indeed run faster than me, but she seems happy to tone it down a little, and I am happy for the challenge.

There are SO many nights in the winter I’d never set foot outside if it wasn’t for her. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted the following: “It’s snowing….should we go? I really don’t feel like going…..”

And she says, “I’ll go if you go!”

And there we go.

And it works both ways. There are nights I’m dying for a run, and she’s not, and because of me she goes. It’s beautiful.

And let’s talk about Gail. I’ve been running with Gail for almost a year now. She whooped me in our first half marathon together last summer. I was smitten 🙂

Here’s what Gail gave me. A little over a month ago, there were 3 of us out for a run. Gail told Celeste and I that we were good at hills. It was a simple statement. Nothing poetic, intuitive or expert about it. It was not even a sentence with a large number of words. I can’t even remember the exact words. Are you ready for it?

“You guys are good at hills. You keep the same pace.” ~Gail Monroe, 2014.

No, Gail is not a Certified Master Hill Runner. She’s not even an apprentice. Yes, she can run hills just fine, she’s a great runner, but her words technically don’t have anything special backing them. But I have been hanging onto this one statement like it is pure gold. I can’t forget it. I won’t forget it.

Pure verbal gold.

24k, baby.

Literally every time I have started a hill since hearing those words, I think of Gail. I think that if she thinks I can do this, if she thinks I am good at hills; then I must be. There is no gray here, there is no doubt, there is no questioning her words. They are solid. They are right. They are truth. Gail’s words are immutable, irrefutable, LAW.

And if I didn’t run with others, I’d never have been given this verbal gold.

Worth the anxiety? Yes. Emphatically YES.

I’m holding Gail partially responsible for my recent half-marathon PR of 2:09:22. More than 15 minutes faster than 2 of last year’s half-marathons! So, what did I do different? Well, I decided to “run.”
No. Really. I think that’s it.
My usual strategy for a race over 6 miles is slow and steady. I’m always afraid I’ll just blow all my energy in the beginning and then be crawling across the finish line, shamed for life. For this race, don’t ask me why, but I decided to set a pace, much faster than normal, and just see how long I could stick with it.

I set a goal of 2:10.

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*How cool is that temp tat!!!?*

Last fall I *think* I did a half around 2:10, but my timing chip was on my shoe wrong and my Garmin didn’t start at the start…and blah blah; I was only guestimating my time. Because there was no visual proof of the 2:10ish time, I truly doubted it ever happened. And all winter my pace has been MUCH closer to 11-min-miles, reenforcing my doubt.  So, aiming for 9:55 min miles was a little risky indeed.
But I was feeling frisky! Risky!! I decided just to go for it. And I nailed every. single. mile. Even the 2-mile-long Holy Hill. And I felt SO good the whole time!! There was no dying, no crying and no crawling anywhere! When my cousin met me at mile 10 and offered to jump in to keep me going, I told her to wait for my other cousin because, and I can’t believe I am quoting myself on this, I said….”I got this!! I am SO on it!!!!”

I really said that.
At mile 10.
Running a minute faster than normal.
Who was I that day???

Mentally Tough Girl, that’s who.

And…this is the nugget: I was able to be mentally tough because of my running friends. Yep. I said that.

Those girls, the ones who hold me accountable, the ones who give me verbal golds, the ones who push me and cheer me on, the ones who intimidate me and run faster than me, are why I do better.

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The things music makes me think….

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There is one thing that many, many runners are very divided on. Running with music. Do it, or don’t? Me? I am a die-hard-must-have-music with me type of runner. I even listen to music when I am running with others. Music to me is like my magic feather. I am convinced I cannot run well without it. I know this is not true. In my heart of hearts, at the bottom of my belly where my endurance comes from, I know I am physically capable of just running. Running far. And my next post is going to in fact be about running with others. But today, I’m talking from where I feel most comfortable. On the trail with my headphones in.

I have a vivid imagination. At least I imagine I do. When I’m running by myself and my music is blaring in my ears, and I like BLARING, I think about all sorts of things. Sure, there are days when I have things weighing on my mind, and I’m thinking about serious adult/parenting/financial/life goal types of things. But there are also days when I just feel that music. Each song does something to me.

I never tell people, not ever, the fantasies that play out during my running playlist.

Well, I’ve been holding out.

I’m gonna give it a go. Song by song. For a few songs. Maybe it will make you laugh. Which is always one of my goals 🙂

1. Come With Me Now, by the Kongos. (put it on, and imagine with me)

“Whoa, Come with me now
I’m gonna take you down
Come with me now
I’m gonna show you how….”

This is a bushwhacking through the jungles somewhere in Rwanda song. Barefoot running. Feet thumping, toes splayed, sweat just dripping from every pore – because it’s humid as Hades in the jungle. And it is lush, and green, and bright. With giant insects both crawling and flying. I am running to collect gorillas; to protect them from poachers. I’mma gonna just lead them all to safety like the pied piper of gorillas. So, halfway through this song, it is me and 25 gorillas, 3 giant old-timer silver backs, just pounding over the gnarly tree roots to somewhere safe. And we just keep running. And I save them all. Brilliant.

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2. Happy, by Pharrell Williams.

“It might seem crazy what I’m about to say
Sunshine she’s here, you can take a break
I’m a hot air balloon that could go to space
With the air, like I don’t care baby by the way…”

It’s really hard for me to not break into a super-high skip when this comes on. Really hard. Sometimes I fail. I have to smile, because I do feel happy. Feeling this song isn’t so much imagining as it is recognizing. It makes me take stock of all the things in my life that make me happy, not least of which is a great run. Thinking happy things makes me just want to tip my head back and grin up at the sun. I get you Sun, I’m just as bright as you. But realistically this would probably throw me off-balance, so instead I just look forward and grin at whatever is out there, and people probably think I’m a weirdo. And since I’m running chances are my smile looks more like an evil grimace….so its better to just focus on the song. Yep. Don’t worry about the rest of the world.

3. Umo the Powerful, from Visions of Kenya.

I do not know how to spell a single word in this song, so just bear with me. It is a little tribal, a little playful, and very Kenyan.

This one is fun. I am long, lean, barefoot and black, running faster than fast across the Kenyan savannah. I have been to Kenya. I have seen Kenyans run; not the ones who are trained to run, but the ones who just run for the practicality of it. They’re amazing. I want to look that amazing. Shit, I DO look that amazing!!! Me and the cheetahs!! We are muscle and speed, and grace and agility, and gorgeous, lithe and,

I could carry on forever. I am pretty sure there isn’t even a hint of gorgeousness when I’m running (trust me, I’ve seen my race pictures), but it is totally worth it to imagine differently. I do run just a little faster…

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4. Wrecking Ball,  by Miley Cyrus.

“I came in like a wrecking ball
I never hit so hard in love
All I wanted was to break your walls
All you ever did was wreck me
Yeah, you, you wreck me…”

I am mortally embarrassed to say that I love this song. And I have seen the video. I sought  it out. I think I turned fire engine red just typing it into Google. This song makes me determined to go home and just shove my husband onto whatever surface is there and do the heck out of him. Yep. I just said that. If I lop off a cotton tee and slap on some workbooks and lick the faux stainless steel dishwasher will that totally turn him on? We don’t have any wrecking balls readily available.

5. Cleanin’ Out my Closet, by Eminem

“Where’s my snare?
I have no snare in my headphones – there you go
Yeah… yo, yo”

I am never as bad ass, as hard-core, as tough and ballsy as when I listen to Eminem. I am pretty sure I can take on anything; man, beast, nasty porta-potty, anything, when I hear this white man rap. And when he swears, I swear. I grit my teeth. I growl. I should take up professional boxing…Shit! I am SO freaking tough….No one should mess with me. EVER. I can’t believe I am living in the suburbs, married to a mortal man, an engineer!!! F*CK!!!! I am so tough I should just keep running until I get to a ghetto somewhere. And when the residents of the ghetto see how ridiculously, undeniably, fierce I am they will make me the ruler of the ghetto. Oh snap. I gotta get outta Lakewood.

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Tonight, by Hard-Fi

“Tonight, tonight I’m gonna take whats mine,
tonight, tonight under that bright neon light
And if I ever find a way right out of here,
Tonight, tonight I’m gonna disappear.”

This one begs me to seek out hills in the dark. It is one of my nighttime favorites. Dressed in black. Black beanie. Black gloves. Running. Slick black tights, no socks (I don’t know, its my imagination!), black shoes with silver lightning bolts on the side. I might steal something!! Where is the rain? This is an awesome song to run in the rain to. Forget breaking and entering, let’s race. In my all-black speed costume I win every race. No one even comes close to me. I win every competition, conquer all hills, collect every medal. Leaping off rocks. Taking up parkour and free running. At night. In the dark. Always the dark. No moon at all. Love it.

All You Got, by Tegan and Sara

“The kind of girl who laughs and says
Get up off your knees
Oh yeah all you need is me
Oh yeah all you want is me
So you come and so you go”

I have a lot of old boyfriends. I have also never been dumped. Is it totally wrong of me to occasionally think that they (yes, all of them) might possibly think of me as “the one that got away?” When this song comes on, I practically line them all up in my head, and they take turns begging me to give them a second chance. They swoon over me, gaze longingly at me, and yearn for me. It feels awesome. Sometimes I choose one and imagine that he just drove by me on Morrison Rd, and he’ll be at the stoplight waiting for me at the top of the hill. He’ll have love letters he’s been saving over the years, and they’ll be in his glove compartment, just waiting for me. He’ll ask if he can give me a ride somewhere. And I (super-cooly) say, “No thanks. I’m good.”

and then he just watches me run off, strong and not his.

Have you guys had enough?? Do you want to download some new music, or go running? Or am I just TOO weird now?
Before you decide, just think about how much fun it is to think about gorillas, ghettos and hot husbands. As opposed to planning menus, Costco shopping trips, and which kid gets a bath tonight.

Come on Spring! You’re Killing Me.

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Sigh.

I am wistful for Spring. I want to see sunshine around the corner. Yep. I got it bad. Feb. 18 is actually a little early for me to be feeling this way. I quite like cold weather. Usually I am not wanting heat until mid-March. Cold is so much more snuggly than hot weather. I like that. The snuggly bit. I like all the different kinds of snuggly; soft clothes snuggly, knitted hat snuggly, snot-nosed kid snuggly, hands around a hot cuppa snuggly, on the couch with the mister snuggly; all of it I deem wonderful. BUT, not this year. I am ready NOW. Right now!!!!

Why? Well……

It’s Winter Mark. He’s getting to me. In fact, he’s killing me. I might be ready to snap. I might be ready to ship him off, duct taped to his bicycle, to somewhere warm and sunny if it doesn’t get warm and sunny here pronto. If he comes home from work and glares at the crock pot, and then me, one more time, I might…..I might….well, I don’t know. Hurl the white chicken chili at him at the very least.

It’s gotten so bad, I really didn’t want to make him a valentine. See, it is our tradition every year to make valentines. Out of whatever. It is legal to go to the craft store for supplies, but that is it. You can’t actually buy a valentine. It must be handmade. Usually this results in some fantastic valentines. Like one year I got handmade Tibetan prayer flags – with straight from the heart verses on them. Last year I made Mark a bicycle out of hearts. Another year we made Top Ten lists. Hilarious. I totally recommend you stop buying Valentine’s Day gifts and get inventive instead. It is well worth the effort. But this year it was sooo much effort I actually asked if we could exchange valentines a day late. Yes, I did.

Hey! That’s pretty big for someone who keeps a notebook of craft ideas in her back pocket.

So, who is Winter Mark, and why is he so difficult? Well, it is the cold-weather version of my generally lovable husband. He is a cyclist. A cyclist who LOVES hot weather. I mean, he’s practically a heat-seeking missile in spandex. If he can’t spend some time on his bicycle, and a decent amount at that, he gets über cranky. And whilst I may be more of a glass half-full person, he is definitely the opposite. And in the winter he is convinced that not only is the glass half-empty, but it is cracked and leaking. It is only a matter of time before the glass is drained of anything beneficial, and he is about to freeze and wrinkle away in a wet pile of snow. I know this about my husband. I know he needs the sunshine and 90 degrees. I am usually pretty adept at handling this seasonal malfunction of his. I bake, I give extra attention, I plan fun dates, we do everything remotely possible: outside in the cold, in the snow, in the wind, with and without our kids.

But this year, as many of you know, has been a little bit colder than the usual. Cold and frozen enough to keep him off his bike much more. Usually by now he’s had at least a half-dozen bike-cleaning and tuning sessions in the living room to prep for the spring. This year he doesn’t even want to take his bike out in the crud that is all over every street corner. And this reluctance is coming from a man who rode to work in the British weather backwash for 3 years. He is not afraid of dirt and wet and sludge and farm animal detritus. He just wants to pedal hard.

So, Mother Nature, I need a  break and my husband needs a bike ride. Can you ease up on the snow and subzero temps? And I think I am not the only wife feeling this way right now. I have heard from others….be strong ladies, be strong.

This workout below is for anyone suffering from enough winter. Enough for you, enough for your kids, enough for your spouse. Enough is enough! Blow off some steam with this little number, entitled:

Come On Spring!

50 sec. on/10 sec. off (if you’d like to make this harder because you’re an even bigger glutton for punishment than I, plank for your 10 sec. rest)

1. Double crunches: Crunch your knee to your opposite elbow, go back down, and up again; this time hand to opposite toe with a straight leg. Repeat. To make this harder, never let your feet touch the ground.

2. Jumping Burpee: Take one giant double-footed jump forward, then do a burpee with a push up. When you do the final jump on your burpee, make it a tuck jump; bringing your knees up to hit the palms of your hands. Jump two small jumps back. Repeat.

3. Dive bombers. Add a push-up if you need this to be harder. They are in this video at 2:15: http://youtu.be/DnpWdG_KbVQ

4. Spider-cross push ups: in the same video at 3:25

5. Crab Touch: at 4:20

6. Jump overs: Find a box or a step, place hands on the middle and jump over from side to side keeping your legs together.

7. Elbow to knee step-up:  Step up onto a box or step, bringing your knee up to touch the opposite elbow.

8. Box Leap Frogs: Using the same box or step, stand with one leg on either side. Place your hands in the middle of the box/step and jump forward with both legs (like you’re playing leap-frog over the box)

9. Dips

10: Side plank with toe touch. Choose a side to start on in a side plank position on your hand. Kick your top leg forward and touch your toe with the hand that is not holding you up. Repeat on opposite side after :50.

When I was writing down this workout Winter Grumpersaurus saw the video of Lisa Marie doing the spider push-ups and says, “Are you and your moms going to do THAT?” I told him, yes of course 🙂

So get going!

I Haven’t Heard From the Groundhog, Have You?

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So. Yeah. It’s cold. Like, so cold I am worried about our chickens getting frostbite. So cold our garage door tracks constrict and we have to help the door all the way up. So cold that snot freezes. And let me tell you, it really stings when you try to chip it off. I tried that BEFORE realizing I could just go indoors, let it thaw and then wipe with a tissue like a normal person. Ah, the things that escape me. Ah, the things that motherhood has done to my brain. Poor nose. Poor brain. Where is Punxsutawney Phil when you need him????

Whatever! There is no whining in parenting!! At least not from the parents!! At least not more than once a month! If I can help it!!

Aw, crap. Phil saw his shadow.

It will get warmer. Not soon enough though, because my computer is in the basement… it is really freaking freezing down here and my fingers are so numb I have to retype every sentence six times. Sheesh. Maybe this will be a short post. I wish Amelia could make me a hot cuppa….

Okay, enough daydreaming about steaming tea…..Image

My favorite slippers are on and so is a second shirt.

Since it’s so chilly out, and chilly makes me crave cozy, I thought I’d share a few things that will cozy you up for certain.

Of course the first is a workout! You didn’t doubt for one second it was, did you!!!

Monday Madness HIIT Workout

Repeat 3 times. In between rounds do 2 minutes of double high knees and :30 of fast feet.

Each set is :50 of exercise and :10 rest. One minute rest in between rounds.

1. Box Jumps

2. Jump Squats

3. Jump squats with kick out (Jump forward, and land softly in a squat. Stay down in squat, kick one leg out to the side; alternate legs)

4. Dips

5. Push-ups

6. Reverse Plank

7. Plank around the clock (holding plank position, walk hands and feet around, one at a time. i.e. move one hand 5″ in one direction, follow with other hand. Move one foot 5″ in one direction, follow with other foot)

8. Double v-ups (sitting with legs raised about 6″ off the ground, do an oblique crunch, touching opposite elbow to bent knee. Lower down and do an oblique v-up.) I know. That’s a terrible explanation. Check out this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k1m0Ad9-I0

I know, her boobs are scaring me too. Just look away when she does high knees. The Double V-ups are at 5:08.

9. Toe-touch crunches (lay on your back with legs in the air at a 90-degree angle, crunch up, reaching towards toes)

10. Superman/roll/v-up

And now, for a warm snack. I made these last night for the SuperBust. My kids loved them. I loved them. The only person who didn’t love them is my weirdo husband who somehow manages to have a natural, and very strong,

disdain for anything unhealthy. I don’t know where he comes from.

http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2011/02/chewy-pretzel-bites.html

Chewy Pretzel Bites

A wonderful friend of mine has talked about Mel’s Kitchen Cafe for forever now. I resisted for a long time (I don’t know why), but I have succumbed to the culinary genius and realistic recipes that make her blog what it is. Delicious and doable. Do it.

And lastly – because my hands are still freezing – a pattern for a lovely pair of fingerless mitts. So practical. So cute. And really, not that hard to knit. Just do it after dinner, after the kids go to bed, while you’re all snuggled up to somebody (or the dog, or cat), possibly watching Jimmy Fallon, who I love ever so much.

                  http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/toast-2