Training Update & Whatever else

SO, I had to re-do my marathon training plan so as not to stress out my achilles tendon issues.  I haven’t felt anything in 2 weeks, so hopefully I’m not getting too aggressive with training.  It also means I won’t do as many long runs as I would’ve liked to prep for this thing–and if the ache comes back, it’s probably a sign to not run the marathon after all.  This bums me out, of course, but I know I’d much rather have a great triathlon season than run a marathon injured & be out for another 6 months.  But I have high hopes, new amazing running shoes (went for really light racing flats–the extreme cushioning & insoles in my previous shoes were becoming too much for me), and a revamped training plan that will hopefully get me to the starting line feeling great.

Instead of those annoyingly long training runs, today I went 35 miles on my bike–which felt great!  I’m still fairly new to the bike, which means gains in speed/endurance are still coming pretty easy to me.  30-35 miles seems like a decent workout, but 2 years ago I was totally wiped out from trying the distance (and it took much longer)–I couldn’t believe I traveled that far.  So I look forward to some great 40 mile rides this season (don’t need much more than that since my bike rides in the races are about 26 miles)–and those terrible hills.  My handling skills on the bike are much better, but man, those last 5 miles I could definitely tell it was a long ride.

I had a perfect workout week this week.  I don’t usually have a really regimented training plans.  Those don’t work for me because I’d much rather ask myself, “what do I feel like doing today? What do I need?” & that usually works out to a fairly balanced week.  But since I’m trying not to run too far, I really had to sit down and add up my miles per week, etc–& make sure that those runs don’t happen one after another.  So I wrote them up on my white board & somehow, all of them happened.  2 workouts in the gym with my trainer, 2 bike workouts, 2 run workouts.  The hardest part is getting the bike in on the weekday because I don’t like riding on the streets at night (even with my lights)–so I have to race home & jump on the bike–and for some reason, getting that motivation is insanely difficult for me.

Nutrition has been a huge improvement for me this month.  I did bring my lunch to work everyday–which meant healthy, unprocessed meals.  Now I’m still not great at it, so it also meant lots of rice & beans—but hey, it’s a big step.  And for the most part, I ate that way at home…adding in 2 snacks a day to keep me eating (never a problem for me, i eat ALL the time anyway)–and making sure to eat before and after workouts.  I still cheat all the time– chocolate, too much peanut butter, occasional chips, occasional alcoholic drinks–and so I’m not sure what the next “change” I would like to make to my diet.  I look exactly the same, which is fine–I’m mostly looking to FEEL better & have as much energy as possible throughout the day (at work and while training) & that has definitely improved.

I wonder sometimes why this training and racing excites me so much.  I get giddy every time my racing magazines come in (Runner’s World, Bicycling, Triathlete).  I never thought a hobby could be so engaging for such a long period of time, but it’s like this little secret community I’m in–sure people know I do it, but it’s still kind of private for me.  I mostly like working out by myself.  I have no problem traveling to races solo.  Sure, I love it when people become a part of it & are invested like me–but it’s not what gets me into it.  It very much seems like my own thing, and I like that.  Also, I of course have a secret desire to get really really good at it.

But what else?  I have been hibernating for a couple of weeks & have loved it.  I think this happens to me at some point after the holidays–because the whole month of December involves social activities, family, friends, travel, etc–and there’s nothing I love more in January than to retreat to my room with as many good books as I can find & just read read read–and nerd out on the internet (you know, hanging out way too long on the Runner’s World forums).  I almost have to pull myself out of this world because it is SO inviting (and gives me plenty of time to do things like…laundry), but tonight I return to the real world via karaoke night.  Ha, the only thing that could get me out of the house!!!

And so I made way too many plans (3 social activities! gag!) for tomorrow, but I’m actually excited about each (well–the last one is a date, so my only hope for that one is that  it isn’t as painful as my dreadful September Date–I don’t even remember that guy’s name, but man, I will never forget the evening)…and then some weekday plans & then a Big Bear trip next weekend–so jumping back into life & totally ok with that.  I used to worry about myself, staying home on weekends, not wanting to go out…but the truth is, I love my weekend mornings too much to sacrifice them to late nights.  And now that my sleep is more sound than it has been in 10 years (10 years! my goodness!), I don’t wanna go disrupting it with too much alcohol or staying up past my bedtime.  Boring, maybe?  Well, not if you were on that bike ride this morning.  2 1/2 hours of pure fun, adrenaline, beauty, etc (except for that one guy yelling “YOU’RE WELCOME!!!” after he stopped completely to allow me to go past him–though there was plenty of room for both of us–me and my aggressive bike-riding personality–said sarcastically “THANK YOU!!!”).  Anyway, getting older is not about becoming a dud who can’t stay up past midnight.  For me, it’s about allowing myself to be more of who I am–less of who I’m supposed to be.  And I didn’t know it would actually feel this great!  I’m a super nerd & now I am OK with that.  I have no need to be as cool as you.  But I’ll still occasionally put on some skinny jeans & high heeled boots & sing some Dolly Parton–it’s as close as it gets.

My adorable niece turns 3 next Friday :).  I need to plan a trip to Denver really soon!  Have a great weekend–go out and party if that’s your thing, but don’t be surprised to see me leaving the party at 9pm.  I have this book to read you know, and my space heater is so inviting.

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

I interned at Seattle Children’s Theatre 10 years ago, and I was there when they premiered a play called, “When I Grow Up, I’m Going to Get Some Big Words.”  (a quote from MLK,jr  when he was a little kid).  I loved it & saw it over and over again (not common when it comes to me and theatre).  I had to work at the desk on weekends, and they had all these MLK books there– I read all of them cover to cover.  The play itself included reenactments, speeches, etc & was brilliantly acted–but the reading is what gave me a new understanding of his genius.  His speeches were beautiful!  And some of them are of course so well known & those are great, but I loved coming across the sermons, letters, speeches I wasn’t so familiar with.  I highly recommend the book “The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr” of writing ,sermons, speeches selected by his wife.

His legacy is of course much more than a list of quotes, but here are some that stuck with me today:

“Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody.”

“The tough mind is sharp and penetrating, breaking through the crust of legends and myths and sifting the true from the false. The tough-minded individual is astute and discerning. He has a strong austere quality that makes for firmness of purpose and solidness of commitment.
Who doubts that this toughness is one of man’s greatest needs? Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.”

“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”

I hope you have the day off to celebrate, if not, your company probably hates black people! (jk, jk).

Three Day Weekend=training updates

This always happens to me on a three day weekend.  I plan to get up Sunday morning to do one of my long workouts as usual, and then I think–well, tomorrow is a holiday, why don’t I just do it then?  As many workouts as I do, you won’t believe how extremely easy it is for me to convince myself NOT to do one.

I had planned on doing a group run today, but I have social running anxiety (I just made this up).  At a party, you can pretty much get away from anyone you don’t want to talk to (or leave the party).  On a 16 mile run, you are pretty much stuck.  For hours.   At the same time, I would like to meet some training partners–some of my best long runs have been with someone along side me–but I would also like to know this person before we embark on this adventure.  I told myself instead I would try the shorter 3-6 mile group run that happens on Tuesdays.   But mostly, I just wanted to eat my yogurt, check my email & drink some coffee  all leisurly before I head outside…and that’s much more doable when I’m only running 6 miles instead of 16.

In good news, my achilles seems to be doing fine.  I went on a 6 miler this past Friday evening & it was such a great run.  I love when running feels effortless (I usually find out later that is because I was going slightly downhill–but I like to believe it’s because I’m an amazing runner).  I’m doing the same route today & hopefully tomorrow my 16 miles will feel equally as effortless (at least until mile 13 or so).

I got my Racing Weight book in, and I read through it in one sitting.  Most of it I already knew, but I appreciate the author really doing the research & compiling studies on different issues.  And also telling me what/when to eat–but more importantly WHY.  It’s important for me to hear how it will enhance my health or my training before I can really adapt new habits–otherwise, it just sounds like an arbitrary rule.  There is a number system involved which I may or may not try–basically every one serving of high nutrient food counts as a point, low nutrient counts as minus a point…and you keep track of your daily number to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients you need.  Or do it occasionally to see if you’re on track.  Kind of like a food diary, but less involved.

He really helped me to understand why you must feed yourself before & after a workout–immediately after if you can & even showed scheduled eating times if you’re working out morning, afternoon, evening–or double workouts.  I’ve been doing much better with my eating the past 2 weeks–went to the grocery store & bought enough stuff for an entire week…brought lunch to work everyday.  It’s much easier when I don’t have a full work schedule (screaming kids), but I’m pretty sure I can keep this up–especially with the motivation from the book.  I’m not yet concerned about weight/body fat percentage & measuring that…I’m not really a numbers person.  I figure let me get my healthy habits going & then see what happens to my body.  If I lose a few pounds, thank goodness–because those pounds add up when I’m climbing on that bike.  If I stay the same, I feel like at least I’ll have more energy and consistency when I’m training.  Anyway, I’m going to keep going back to the book because it’s the first one I’ve seen that’s really geared toward endurance athletes & their concerns.

Yesterday I tried my first hill repeat on the bike since September–rough!  It’s the perfect hill, though–it’s at West LA College or something that sounds similar–they have a circle drive that goes around the school & includes a pretty long, difficult hill (not short and extreme…you can climb the whole thing seated–but man, it’s slow).  The best is that there is rarely traffic–mostly just a few people jogging, so I LOVE it.  I just started doing this last summer, but now I’m going to start to include it as a weekly part of training.  It’s a short workout, so it’s great if I don’t have much time but still want to get on the bike.  It really helps prepare me mentally and physically for the hills.

I registered for Nationals in Alabama in September, so I guess I’m really going.  So exciting!!!  This whole triathlon thing feels like such a gift–just like when I discovered running for the first time (especially road races).  It sounds all rough and time-consuming & painful—but I wouldn’t do it if it didn’t involve so much pure joy (not everytime I go out, but a good 90% of it).

OK, enough talk about working out–it’s all sunny and warm out & I’m running in a tank & capris in January (so thankful to live out west).  Have a great three day weekend & just let me know when you get bored of me talking about working out.

Update:  Bummer, on my 6 mile run–the achilles acted up again around mile 4.  Looking back on the week, again I see that my workouts leading up to it did not allow for ample rest.  Back to the drawing table!  From now on, I’m going to be treadmill running (when I’m better), so if there is any pain–I can stop immediately!  On all the message boards, it just calls for cross-training, rest, & only running when it’s pain free.  I can tell it’s not yet a tear or anything–just tendonitis…so resting from the running again.  I’m facing the fact that my marathon could NOT happen at this point–but I’ll give it another month & see where I’m at then.

Online Dating.

So, I’m not a very consistent online dater, but I try it out when I’m not seeing anyone (and really put my best effort in this past  summer to pretty mediocre results).  I’ve never actually had a long term relationship that started online, so my heart is not fully in it–but now that most of my hours are spent working with 100% female teachers, I’m not sure where I’m supposed to find anyone…and it’s kind of fun to search through people, picking and choosing for the most arbitrary reasons.

But then it’s once contact actually begins that things tend to get discouraging real fast.  And this is not only on the guy’s side–sometimes I just forget to go online and check my messages, or I get busy in my non-virtual life & lose interest, or he disappears.  So most of this online contacts never actually results in an in-person meeting.

After visiting my hairstylist, she turns me onto a new free site, which I’ve been on for like a week now.  I’ve had a couple of good back and forth conversations, but today I get this email that is THE best yet.  I normally wouldn’t post such a thing, but it was pretty amazing:

“However, before this gets too far, I need to stop. My ex, who it took me a hell of a long time to get over due to her craziness and relentless obsession over me (which included stalking and suicide bs) shares the same name as you. I didn’t notice it til you signed your name, and I can tell you right now that although I’m past her, the name coincidence would be just too much and it would be better to stop at the very beginning than have either of us get hurt.

I guess you can chalk that up to a crazy “online dating story” you can tell your friends, lol.”

Wow–rejected for my name!  This is a new one.   I wrote him back a goodbye & signed it “Susie.”  Mom and Dad, thanks for naming me “Kristy” and by doing so, forever keeping me from being with my soulmate.  I will try to forgive you.  Hopefully that is my first and last post about online dating.

Triathlon Season Begins

There are multiple posts I want to write, but I’ve got to get on my bike before too many cars start showing up on the road–so we’ll keep it to triathlons for now.  But I promise there are more interesting entries in the works.

I’ve decided on my “season” for this year–it starts about a month after the L.A. marathon.  I’m doing the L.A. Tri Series for the second time.  I did it my first year of triathloning & it’s a great deal.  You get three races, each one month apart, & the distance grows each time…also it’s only an hour away from me & in a beautiful park with a LAKE (not ocean!) & nice trail run.  Mostly, though, it saves money and time–no pre race pick up, no hotel room to find, etc.  That takes me through June.

On my 32nd birthday in July, I’m going to do the Strawberry Fields triathlon in Oxnard, California.  It’s supposed to be a really great race, and I can’t imagine a better way of spending my birthday!  Really!

As of now, I’m planning to go to nationals in Alabama on September 25th (my brother’s birthday!), but the official registration info isn’t up yet–so I have to make sure I’m all qualified & all of that.

The major difference with this season over my last two is that I’m focusing on longer distance triathlons.  I’m pretty good at sprints, but I’d love to be better at longer races.  It’s a hassle to bring out & set up all your gear, etc, and be done with the race in an hour.  The only downside to doubling all the distances is that I’m considerably slower & medals are harder to come by!  But that’s the whole point of this year–I’m going to see if I can actually get competitive in this distance.  I like being competitive.  I used to just like to be able to finish, but that gets old pretty fast (except in the marathon, where this is still my goal).

It will require some longer workouts, but really nothing too outrageous (I’m not doing an Ironman…or even a half ironman anytime soon).  And if this season isn’t as fun, I can always go back to the sprints.  At the moment, I’m just getting back onto my bike & into the pool.  I took about 2 1/2 months off & focused only on running–so it’s actually really fun to add the others into the mix.

Once I’m back doing the biking/swimming thing more regularly, I’ll develop more specific goals for myself.  Last year, I totally turned my swim stroke around by taking private lessons & doing lots and lots of drills.  I’m thinking of attempting this ridiculous L.A. Tri-chicks hill series on my bike that starts up in February–it’s intimidated me too much the past 2 years.  They go out for like 50 miles & do hill climbs that make me think “ummm, I’ll just walk my bike up this one, thanks.”–but I sure bet it makes the bike portion of the triathlon a much smoother experience.

Oh, and I wrote earlier about nutrition.  I ordered a book and everything, only to find out the book was written several years back & focuses on carb-loading–which is totally different than what the author was talking about when I went to see him–he was all about the protein!  Anyways, that book involved too much number-crunching & food weighing–so luckily, my new triathlete magazine has another endurance nutrition book called “Racing Weight” or something, which I LOVE saying “I need to get down to my racing weight”–so I’ll order the book for that reason alone.

In injury news, I hurt my achilles tendon on my long 16 mile run last weekend.  It wasn’t the length of the run because the pain started in mile 9 or so.  I had to run/walk at the end, didn’t want to run through the pain–because that is NEVER a good idea (this has taken my stubborn self a lonnnnng time to learn, and I’m still learning).  Luckily, triathloning has given me two other sports to focus on, as well as weightlifting in the gym–so I can occupy myself while I allow any soreness or injury to repair itself.  I ran a mile on Wednesday & it felt OK, so I’m going to do a short 5 miler or so tomorrow & hopefully it will be all good.  These things mess with me more mentally than physically, but I have learned so much in the past few years about the importance of rest and recovery.  Thank you stress fracture!  Thank you foam roller, L.A. Sports Massage, trainer, etc.

OK, put off my bike ride long enough (by writing about my bike ride, awesome)…hoping my rear tire isn’t flat!

What I learned over my holiday break.

NYE dressWell, I was away from L.A. for a very long time.  Two weeks seems long, anyway.  I am happy to be back home.  I love being surrounded by people for the holidays, but I also crave my alone time.  So, I spent my New Year’s Day on a solo bike ride, followed by some internet fun, followed by some music listenin’ (outlaw country!), followed by some reading, followed by a nap, followed by a hearty meal of wheat thins and tuna & somehow it’s already 7pm.  I am happy for a new year to start, but I would like to take a moment to reflect upon what I’ve learned over my holiday break.

#1)  Recording vocals in a studio is as fun as I’d imagined–doing it with your Dad and your brothers is beyond hilarious.  Even our recording man Russ cracked a smile once or twice.

#2)  I can shoot a shot gun.  Not only can I fire one, but I can actually hit a clay disc & blow it to smithereens (I have the left overs on my desk right now, I’m thinking of calling it my vision board 2010).

#3)  Dresses can be made out of tissue paper.  I learned this from Grandma Edna and Mom, who should both be on the next season of Project Runway.

#4)  You should really double check the dates before you book any travel over the internet.  You may do something like choose the WRONG MONTH to return home & not realize it until you’re checking in.  This could cause you to lose hundreds of dollars & have to take 3 connecting flights to get home.  Your 3pm arrival can turn into a 10pm arrival.

#5)  Savor every meal you are fed by your family while on holiday.  You will recall those hearty meals when you forget to go to the grocery store & have only tuna and wheat thins to eat.  Oh, but it also turns out your roommates will get hungry, too, and will kindly order some thai food when you realize that the wheat thins didn’t do it.

#6)  Don’t assume you will enjoy long runs in the flat country.  You will be bored by mile 3 and desperately longing for gaudy houses to look at, traffic to dodge, Rodeo Drive stores to run past.  Also, don’t assume there will be water stops or restrooms or 7-11s along the way.

#7)  Whenever times get rough living many miles away from your nearest relative, you can recall the ample time you got to spend with them over the holidays: playing board games over a glass of wine, creating post-modern dance pieces with your niece and nephew, seeing a movie with your parents, scratching the dog’s belly, waking up without an alarm, being given the time and freedom that allowed for trips to the gym and runs with deer.  I’m totally rejuvenated!

So, that’s what I learned over my holiday break.  I have two more days of holiday break to enjoy, though my car doesn’t seem to want to start, I have no groceries, dirty clothes are filling up the closet, bills to pay/checks to deposit, etc etc.  I’m phasing back into the real world, but I’ll take these lessons with me into the new year.  I hope you had a great holiday, too & wish you all a happy new year!

Merry Post X-Mas to You and Yours and Mostly Me

Well, it’s the day after X-mas, and luckily, my vacation is only halfway over.  I don’t get to see ALL the family every Christmas these days (too many of us, too spread out), but I was totally excited to spend Christmas with my brothers, nephew, niece, and parents–and today a visit from more aunts, uncles, cousins & Grandma.  It is all in winding down phase now, but I’m happy to spend several more days in Texas seeing a few more people & getting a little ranch time in.  I’m happy to return to L.A. to celebrate the New Year, although I have no idea where that will be or what I’ll be doing.

I’m also kind of nervous about the future because I can feel myself wanting to make bold moves and SOON.  There is something about security that is cute for awhile, but I’m so drawn to risks, challenges, climbing mountains– being still doesn’t suit me.  I recently finished an amazing read–Born to Run (which I highly recommend).  It got at the pure joy of running & in turn, the way it helps you to pursue the joy in life.  I can’t tell you enough how running has really helped me engage in life–with nature, with people, with myself, with my spiritual side.  And I’m not all uber-hippy or touchy-feely or anything–so it was great reading a book about people who felt the same way I did about running & didn’t seem too crazy.  Or they did sound  crazy, but really, more sane then whatever our “normal” life is supposed to look like these days (spending 8 hours in front of a computer, cell phone, texting, facebooking, hurrying, stressing).  It’s not that I run and make conscious big LIFE decisions while I’m running.  I’m much more in touch with my best self when I’m on a good run, though, and sometimes the same phrases keep popping up in my head run after run:  Forward motion.  Getting unstuck.

The weird thing is, propelling yourself forward into the unknown never seems to get less scary.  In fact, it used to seem much easier.  I could say “I’m young, I’ll be all responsible and boring when I’m older,” but now I’m older & so scared that my unwillingness to settle into a life will come back to haunt me in the end.

I can’t be a complainer.  I really hate to complain.  I hate the way it sounds coming out of my mouth.  I don’t even like writing this right now–I want to write it when the changes are made, when words are spoken, when dreams are being pursued.  Right now I’m sitting scared, but clinging to some kind of a faith that no matter what the next step is–it will only make me more of who I am.

It makes me sad, though, because sometimes pursuing something new means you have to leave things behind.  This is much easier when you already have something solid to jump into–when you won’t have time to mourn or think or remember or sentimentalize.  But one of the reasons I’m being so vague (the main reason is of course because I’m sort of private and this is the internet, and probably only my mom is reading this right now–but I really have no idea) is because this time it feels very vague–not just one area of my life but all areas of my life.  I know it will mean some quiet time ahead, time when I may rethink decisions, when I regret my actions, when I long for things to be like they were back when.

I had an end (well, I can never say ‘end’—that sounds dramatic) to a close friendship recently.  Well, more complicated than just a “friendship,” but the end came on suddenly and without warning–but not really.  I overreacted to something, but sometimes an overreaction feels like just a delayed reaction– I should’ve reacted like this a million years ago–but I didn’t and am now making up for it.  But of course the other person doesn’t know this, so they are shocked & deservedly so.  But what is there to repair of something that was never very healthy to begin with?  That’s the thing.  In some areas of my life, I need to go back to square one and do things differently next time.  And maybe I’ll never get that second (or third or fourth) shot with someone in my past, so what else is there to do but look ahead?  There is nothing but love for everyone that has ever been a part of my life, and all I can hope is that they know that to be the truth.

So things ending, ending, ending with a New Year totally beginning & I end this entry the way I began it–with reference to my family, who serves as my constant source of love and support through every move I make–who made a wall of medals honoring my races, who make me homemade meals every minute of everyday I’m home, who make me stronger and more comfortable in my own shoes so that I can go out and face the world willing to follow my heart.  They have made it another Christmas to remember.  I went to see Alvin and the Chipmunks–just me and my 5yr old nephew–tonight.  He is adorable defined.  There was one preview that seemed a bit dark in tone, and he kept both hands hovering right above his eyes–so if it was ever too much to take, he could hide behind his hands.  I glanced around, and no one else seemed to be doing this–but everyone else was kind of slouched in their seats, eating candy & impatiently waiting for the real movie to start.  Not my nephew, though–even though he was borderline scared, his eyes were huge & totally locked on the screen.  He may have been fearful, but he was totally invested & engaged & entertained.  This is how I want to be!  Merrrrry X-mas!

Day After Holiday Party and Working with Kids

Yes, it was our new home’s first big party!  Hooray!  I LOVE house parties, way more than bars, clubs, etc, etc.  I love the coziness of them, and a holiday party is my second favorite (I really love those summer bashes with BBQ & margaritas).  I have the best roommates ever.  We all pitched in, which made it really easy to host.  We had great lighting outside & the rain let up for a little while–so people could enjoy the fire pit and swing.  We have a big space in our garage, so we lifted up the door–I got a keg–and we played some beer pong (as well as “flip cup”–a relay game I was unaware of, but mostly enjoy due to the “chants” that occur before you start).  This was great mostly because I was fairly decent at the game.  I’m competitive, in case you haven’t noticed.

Indoors, the food and drink was also a success.  Amy made her Dad’s crazy good chili, and I baked and iced some sugar cookies–along with the traditional nuts, chips, dips, etc.  Mostly, though, I was just happy to see several of my friends together in one place (it doesn’t happen much in L.A…lots of little circles of friends).  I am SO lucky to find a second family of people out here on the West Coast.  I find myself giggling around them most of the time, which is exactly what I do with my actual family.  It of course helps that at least 10 of the guests are from Texas, including all of my roommates.  My favorite is when people I adore & am constantly entertained by meet one another & get along well.  This also allows me to sneak into my bedroom while the party is still happening & go to bed (without saying a word to anyone).  They’ve got this without me!  Goodnight!

So, I’m headed to Texas next Friday, and I am sooooo excited to be home.  The end of the school semester always comes with lots of loose ends to attempt to tie up–videos to edit, costumes to finalize, dvds to burn…so this week will be mad busy–but when it’s done, it’s done–and I have 2 weeks off!  It’s actually my favorite time to work with the students because they get to show off some of the stuff they’ve been working on for weeks.  When I’m in the moment of teaching, I don’t think much other than focusing on the production, making sure the kids are engaged, getting it done.  But I had one student that came up to me on Thursday…we’re doing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and she is playing an Oompa Loompa (and also is the costumes person).  These are 4th graders we’re talking about—young.  She is completely sweet–and comes up to me & says, “I don’t want to be an Oompa Loompa anymore.”  We’re in the final stretch here, so I’m like, “well, what do you want to do?  Just costumes?”  “No, I want to be Veruca Salt.”  Me, “Umm, but we already have a Veruca.”  Student replies, “Can she have a sister?”  Ahhhhhhh, I LOVE it!  I LOVE that I can say “Yes, that’s a great idea, but make sure it’s ok with Veruca.”  The next day she comes up to me: “Veruca says it’s ok!  I can be her sister!!!  Me and my mom were thinking about names….maybe Veronica or Vela?”  I love this about teaching theatre–it means more to some of these kids than I even think to realize.  They take it totally seriously, and so do I–even though I know it’s a 4th grade performance…I invest in it completely & sometimes, I get to see the ways in which it pays off.  The production enters a conversation at a dinner table between a mom and daughter.  The students have such pride in what they do, and it makes me proud.  It reminds me of when I was a kid & my creative/performance desires were completely serious to me (my brother and cousin can tell you all about it…), and as silly as it sounds, as cheesy as it is–I see myself in these kids & I do all I can to make their ideas come to life.  The kids ideas are valued, & they start to value themselves more…not in huge ways, but in ways that become huge as they grow up.  This is why I love working with kids.  I don’t think I’m particularly talented when it comes to putting on a show, but I do know how to listen.  They are creative problem-solvers, which is the key to a better future for our country & our planet.  Sure, it’s about reading, writing, math, science, but it’s about more than that.  Theatre allows for the kids to become a community working towards a common goal, one in which problems arise & they must come up with solutions that work for the group.  In our case, that means we will have two Veruca Salts, both of whom will have the joy of being attacked by miniature squirrels in front of an audience of proud parents next week!

OK, that’s enough for this Saturday…already afternoon & it’s still pouring down rain (we’ve NEEDED it for so long)!  Have a great weekend.

End of Year/Holidays/New Year

It’s one of my favorite times of year (besides the months of May-August, oh those long summer days…).  I welcome the holiday cheer for one month out of the year (about as much as I can stand).  I’m a fan of all things holiday decor, and I’m really excited to actually have a home this year to decorate.  You don’t want to see my sad decorating that occurred in the studio apartment.  It was a sad metal tree with one ornament: a picture of Nancy and Ronald Reagan from my museum visit.  My roomie Amy is picking up our REAL TREE this afternoon, and I can’t wait to see it covered in lights.  I’m planning on doing some outdoor lighting as well.  And we’re hosting a holiday party next Friday, so I can indulge all my baking desires without having to eat all of it by myself.  Mostly, though, I love that I have a good week and 1/2 to spend in Texas visiting family & immersed in holiday warmth without a bit of irony–but still with lots of laughs.

I also like a year end because I’m reflective like that & also forward-thinking (a NEW year, a NEW start).  Since I’ve been obsessed with triathlons the past 2 years, I’m really into future racing goals.  I realized I qualified for the USAT Age Group National Championship next August (my 1st place finish at Playa=woo hoo!), so I have something big to train for.   I’m also realizing that I need to know why I’m doing the workouts I’m doing & what is best for my body/performance.  Runner’s World used to be my only guide to any training plan I had.  Now I’ve attended workshops, read more books, found a great trainer, and listened to more professionals talk about why they do what they do.  Last year I spent some money on some one-on-one swim technique lessons that totally changed the way I swim (and feel about swimming).  I learned that there were different types of bike workouts & mixing it up really helped my performance (and my comfort level on the bike).  Working out in the gym has taught me how my muscle strength can improve running, swimming, and biking technique and speed.

So my training/racing goals for 2010–1) following a nutrition plan that’s suited specifically for endurance athletes.  This would be huge for me, because my current diet is pretty much “eh, eat 4-5 times a day, pretty much whatever you want, usually leaning towards healthy but very few veggies.”  And every typical “diet” I read doesn’t account for the 1-2 workouts a day I might do or the 3 hour run/rides on the weekends.  I can’t simply limit calories.  I don’t care about body fat, measurements, etc (well, I do because I know losing 5 pounds would make it a lot easier to bike up those hills!!)–mostly it’s about maintaining a certain level of energy throughout the day.  Eat to fuel.  I went to a great seminar a couple of months ago, so finally went to the guy’s website today and ordered “Nutrition Periodization for Endurance Athletes”–a year round nutrition plan that fits my training schedule.  Definitely the most pretentious sounding nutrition book yet!  I will keep you updated on how this works for me.

Race Goal #2—I’m trying a new training plan for the L.A. Marathon this year.  I know I really haven’t reached my potential with that distance yet.  I like running it slow & having a good time…but can I at least make it under 4 hours?  Finished in like 4:07 for Vegas, so I’m pretty sure it’s a realistic goal.  9 min miles.  Anyway, i want to train for it without injury & without giving up my other sports–so I found a 3 day a week plan.  It’s tough, though, because those 3 runs don’t include my favorite “easy run”–today I’m headed to the gym for a really challenging speed workout.  I just hope I make the first mile split without flying off the treadmill.  But I love a plan, and I love that each workout is building something: endurance, speed, & putting them together.

I’m sure I’ll have more triathlon-ing goals when I start that training after the marathon is over (March 22), and I imagine that the main one will involve: hills+a bike+more milage.  I haven’t been on my bike or in the pool in over a month, and it’s been great to mentally take a break from all those workouts & just get out and run & do fun races.  But I’m soooo eager to jump into it again.

In non-racing news, what a year 2009!  I have to admit that spring was a rough time for me this past year– several things bringing me down at the same time (though not necessarily any different than typical struggles one faces any given year)…& my inability to deal with it in my usual (controlling) ways.  I know those times force me to make changes in my life that will hopefully make me a more grounded, fully-realized, humble person.  Easier said than done!  I don’t know quite how to describe myself in this world–only that I feel every nuance (which is GREAT when I’m running out in the mountains, or laughing with a good friend–not so great when it’s a more stressful time).  Soooo sensitive yet so guarded about that sensitivity (it’s the John Wayne in me).  But there’s nothing I love more than a triumph story, even if it’s a tiny personal one.  So yeah! for painful growing pains–now I’m almost like a real grown up.  Except I’m having a holiday party with a keg & beer pong.

All that to say I’m looking forward to 2010 with a more relaxed & more open attitude.  Have a great holiday!