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!

Thankful for…

Here’s a list.  There are sooo many things.

I’m thankful for, in random order:

1)  Sharing a cool house with incredibly cool roommates.  I have a yard, a grill, washer/dryer, and roommates that make me laugh every night.

2)  Blasting country music radio (105.1 and 95.1) on my way to work in the mornings.  I love that I will know ALL of the lyrics to ALL of the songs.  Predictable= yes?  But it wakes me up & puts me in a decent mood.

3)  Mom and Dad.  of course…not only did they give birth to ME, but they continue to encourage me, entertain me, and cheer me on in life.  We sat through Bluegrass Gospel together last Christmas in a room full of 80+ year olds and what looked like some ex-convicts, and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my time.  I love finding out new ways in which I’m like both of them.

4)  The Brothers.  I’m the middle child, which sounds horrible, but I’m quite lucky.  I have the big brother to knock me around a little, protect me, & set the standard for sense of humor very high.  I have the younger brother to tag along with me on any adventure, laugh about anything with, and encourage in any way I can.  Best friends through the years, and that’s pretty amazing.

5)  My Mustang.  Yes, I got a little too excited seeing the new 2010 Mustangs that are out.  I have driven a Mustang for the past 10 years, and it completely suits me.  Although I’d like to have a bigger space to fit my bike, I can’t imagine giving it up.  I never get tired of driving it around.

6)  My days at work begin with kids smiling & saying big “Hi Kristy!!!” to me, flooding me with questions about what we are doing that day, and telling me all sorts of hilarious things.  I feel completely at home & grateful for the time with them.

7)  Thankful for my surroundings.  L.A. is beautiful to me.  Whether I’m running through amazing neighborhoods, biking along the coast, or hiking some random trails off the PCH–I get such a feeling of peace from all of it.

8)  7-11.  It’s a block away from me, and I have discovered my own iced coffee combo from all their various coffees.  Clif bars, yogurt parfaits, Diet 7-up…thank you for always being there for me.

9)  Dogs.  Moving in with roommates means I get to be an Aunt to a very cute dog named Effie.  We spend lots of nights just running back and forth down the hallway.  This erases any stress from the day in about 5 minutes flat.  She is also always hungry.  We have this in common.  I want one of my own someday, but for now, I’m a great Aunt.

10)  Sam and Sophie, the most perfect nephew/niece combo I’ve ever seen (besides maybe me and my brothers).  I can’t wait to see them for the holidays and DISNEYLAND in February!!!  Their smiles are the best.  I don’t really want any of my own, but I’m a great Aunt!

11)  work friends:  It’s great to have a sense of humor when working around kids (especially middle school kids).  I’m so glad I have a wonderful circle of teachers/ assistants that can keep it fun (or complain together when we need to).

12)  My best friend is back:  Chuck is my roomie again!  13 or so years of an amazing friendship.  He’s my best friend wherever he is, but it is great having him right next door (and like last night, knocking on the door with a cork screw telling me he poured me a glass of wine).

13)  Jeans.  I live in them.  I really don’t know what I wear if they didn’t exist.  I stopped buying really expensive ones.   These Levi’s are pretty comfy.

14)  My trainer.  It’s been almost 2 years now & I can’t imagine going more than a week without working out with him.  I totally lucked out here–a really smart, talented guy who has not only helped me build strength–he keeps me injury-free & works specifically on muscles needed for triathlons.  He asks about every race & pushes me in ways that I need it.  I sometimes wish I could go back in time and be a high school athlete with a really motivational coach—but I can’t, so this works.

15)  My G3 phone through T-mobile.  It’s mapping, searching, email, capabilities have helped me so many times in the past several months.  I am not in front of a computer most days, so it’s really great to be able to check my email on a more regular basis (ie: every 2 minutes).

16)  Triathlons.  I’ve participated in about 12 of them over the past two years, and I love them more and more as I get better at them.  I love everything about the sport:  the participants, the equipment, the transition from sport to sport, the training.  All of it provides such a rush and keeps me so entertained & engaged.  With the L.A. Tri Club being so huge out here–it’s easy to find training run/bikes/swims, so it really feels like a whole other community I’m welcomed into.  I’m especially thankful for my medals this year!!!

17)  Me Extended Family:  Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandma Edna–so great to see most of them on Facebook cracking me up on a daily basis & hope to see as many of them as I can over the X-mas break.  I feel completely grounded in this world–and my extended family has helped to make this so.  They are very much an extended part of what my immediate family has been to me.  Love and thanks to them all!

18)  a big new theatre to teach in.  You don’t see spaces like this in big cities…not the cramped, 100 seat theatre that’s falling apart.  This space is huge and open & clean & full of possibilities.  I love that the kids get to operate the sound and lights for the shows.  They feel such a sense of responsibility in the space, and so do I.

19)  Farmville.  Yes, I made fun of most of my relatives for joining this.  When I was guilted into it, I thought it would be a momentary thing.  I’m hooked.  I never thought I’d find harvesting my online crops to be so soothing, but it’s a great way to spend an evening.

20)  My health.  It’s been on my mind a lot this year for some reason–some people have to struggle through so much illness/disease on a daily basis & would be so thankful just to be healthy.  I hate to see this struggle, but I’m being smarter about valuing my own health and taking care of myself as best I can (though I know that ultimately, some things are out of our control).  I even got a physical last week!  Hooray healthcare (now let’s make it a universal thing!).

21)  Michael Jackson, R.I.P.  Although I hate to see the guy go, it was great to see little kids dancing to his music–many of them hearing it for the first time.  He used to be a joke, and finally is respected for what he brought to the world.  I hope it will help us change the way we tend to rip superstars apart.  Anyways, I’m thankful for all his music–it’s still a constant in my life and on my ipod.

22)  Sunshine.  This is almost an everyday thing around here, and it never gets old.

23)  Running.  This is a 10 year gift that I found & had no idea at the time how much it would help me in life.  Running, whether in the morning waking me up, in the evening calming me down, in a race going as fast as I can, or a slow run with a great running buddy–whether I come home from a run feeling tired & cranky, or revived and ready to go–each run serves a purpose.  I’m terrible with being able to focus on one thing at a time–but both running and teaching help me to really be in the moment.  When I’m running outside, my mind is there but not.  I’m not making lists of things do to, having deep thoughts, or anything like that.  It’s mostly experiencing things with my senses & one step after the other.  Also, I usually end the runs at 7-11, so what’s not to like?!?!

24)  My L.A. buddies:  These are outside of work friends, so we don’t spend our time talking about our jobs.  We spend most of our time laughing, planning activities, watching movies, partying, and sometimes doing Mud Runs.  Hanging out with them I feel totally at ease.  It’s probably the vodka.

25)  My grandmother & my Papa Tom:  I lost both of these grandparents (on my Dad and my Mom’s side, respectively) in the past few years, and they are on my mind a lot.  My grandmother is with me in every decision I make.  I think of what she wrote once to me–something about being myself & never letting anyone hold me back from being all that I could.  Of course, right after that she wrote that a woman president would be “for the birds”!!!  I miss her, but she is a part of me.  This will be our first Christmas without Papa Tom, but I’m sure he will be in all of our thoughts.  Grandparents are such a special gift, and you can look around at our  family to see how much of an impact they’ve had on all of us.

26)  Fuji apples.  This is a given.  I just bought some great ones at the grocery store today…the perfect food.

27)  People close to me who enjoy laughing as much as I do.  Sometimes I’m around people that don’t laugh much, and suddenly my own loud obnoxious laugh becomes painfully awkward and inappropriate.  I prefer to spend my time with great “laughers”–laughing with me, at me, at anything…I think it’s one of the best things about life, the feeling of laughter.

28)  Curb Your Enthusiasm’s current season with the Seinfeld Reunion.  Jerry Seinfeld–I have a massive crush on him.  I hope to see him to stand up again.  Larry David is also hilarious, so it’s great to see them together–along with the cast of one of the greatest shows ever written.

29)  NBA basketball:  This year found the Houston Rockets fighting the L.A. Lakers with everything they had & making a pretty good run for it.  Yao Ming, fix your foot.  In the meantime, Rockets, I look forward to seeing you in the playoffs again this next year.  TNT–thanks for covering it with the most entertaining sportscasters I’ve seen in awhile.

30)  Ocean swimming.  I used to hate it.  Fear it.  But at some point, I got over it & now there’s a thrill–especially when the waves are extremely high & the current is crazy.  Being in it has become increasingly fun.  And only a few miles away from the house.  Sweet!

31)  Avocado.  I hated them when I was a kid, but now I’m a California girl.  I want them on everything I order.’

32)  The view I see as I walk to my car on the rooftop parking lot at work–especially at night, the downtown skyline & the sunset= beautiful (at a moment when I’m usually dead tired).

33)  Virgin Airlines.  I hate flying.  But they have made it OK with their tv, free wifi, great steak sandwiches, awesome movie selection, & non-stop flights.  I have yet to had a bad experience with them.

34)  Self check out at the grocery stores.  I’m big into do-it-yourself.  I think I’m faster than the employees.

35)  Being able to see Tom graduate this year…go T!

36)  Happy Hour.  It’s a benefit of being a teacher.  I don’t indulge every week, but I will hit a happy hour at least once a month.  Margarita is the drink of choice.

37)  My ipod shuffle.  It’s not that fancy, but it’s so TINY!  I like that it doesn’t hold too much music.  It only has my workout tunes.  That being said, I would love to be thankful for an IPOD NANO next year!

38)  My fancy tri bike.  We’ve been together over a 1000 miles, and it’s corny–but when I’m riding it does feel like a part of me.  I’m much less clumsy on it than I used to be.  If you’re considering becoming a cyclist, I highly recommend putting some money into the purchase.  It’s a whole different experience than riding my crappy Target bike.

39) Rock Band/Karaoke Nights.  I love singing and being silly around my friends.  What a release!  I love that I have the kind of friends who are into this stuff.

40)  Single Lady.  You may here me complain from time to time about the L.A. dating scene (the one in which anyone will date you as long as it’s not “officially” a relationship), but I spent last Saturday having lunch by myself & thought “I am enjoying this way too much.  This is the life!”  As much as I would love to find someone, I really like hanging out with myself & the freedom that comes along with single life.  I’m sure some cool dude will change my mind (or accept me for my independent ways), but for now–I’m enjoying myself.  And I really enjoyed that Chipotle burrito I ate that Saturday.  It’s making me hungry just thinking about it.

41)  Movie of the year (so far) UP!=  I loved that movie.  Beautiful to watch & incredibly touching.  Hopefully I’ll see some good movies in December, but I continue to be thankful for really wonderful films!

42)  Magazines.  I love them.  I will read almost anything, but my favorites are Runner’s World, Triathlete, Bicycling, Oprah, and Entertainment Weekly.  It is a happy day anytime I get these in the mail.

43)  Road Trips.  This year I made it to San Francisco, Palm Springs, Vegas, San Diego…and I’m sure some other random spots I’m forgetting.

44)  My Hair Stylist.  We’re going on a 3 year relationship, and I totally dig her.  We have the same birthday!  She is a surfer girl who is really great at highlighting hair.  And the cut is amazing–she’s so good, I only have to see her every few months.

45)  My NYC friends.  I don’t get to see you guys nearly enough anymore, but I so look forward to the times we do get to spend: weddings, Disneyland, brunches, skee ball, etc.

46) TV watch.  These are basically recaps of some of my favorite shows: Big Brother, Amazing Race, The Office, Curb Your Enthusiasm.  I don’t really need the recap (since I watched the show), but it’s the opinions & comments that follow that I’m into.  It makes T.V. a much more social endeavor.  Plus, mostly they are pretty hilarious.

47)  My space heater.  I have cold hands and cold feet, always.  No, not a cold heart.  Stop saying that.

48)  Jeff’s amazing Clippers season tickets.  It’s the best seat at Staples Center.  I LOVE going to basketball games.  Mostly for the pretzel and beer & to be that close to that many really really tall guys.

49)  Facebook Friendships.  I’m a constant status updater & I’ve found friends who I never hang out with, but I LOVE their status updates & we comment on each other’s.  This is such a weird phenomenon, but I’m so into it.

50)  Darius Rucker as a country singer.  I love his cheesy “everything is all good” kind of songs.  The next Charley Pride!

51)  Being an early riser.  I complain about not being able to sleep in, but I love being up and out in the world before most people.  Life is so….quiet!  Coffee helps.

52)  on the same subject: Sleep.  I’ve struggled with getting a full night’s sleep for oh um…like 10 years!  Only in the past 6 months or so have I consistently been getting good sleep.  I am SO thankful when I wake up & it is light outside!

53)  Funny texts.  I love when just looking down at my phone, one phrase or sentence or picture can totally crack me up.

54)  my foam roller.  Have you used one of these things?  Has totally helped keep my injuries at bay & is like getting a free massage.

55)  Blog readers (mom!)= are you STILL reading this?

56)  My Texas roots.  Always thankful for that (and that all of my roommates are Texan, so basically better than most people).

57)  My grill.  I love outdoor cooking–the smell, the grill marks, turning the meat over.  I’m so easy to please.

57.  That’s a good number.  This is my favorite holiday.  I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving & have a list 3 times this long of great things in your life (though no need to show off & post it like I did.  I mean, we have parades to watch.)

Race Report: Boston 1/2 Marathon & San Diego Mud Run

I think this is officially the year of the organized races for me.  I need to cut down–these things get to be expensive!  But luckily, they continue to be fun.

I took off last weekend for a quick trip to New York and Boston.  I got to see some friends (very quickly) and drive to Boston to run with my running buddy Aransas.  It’s always great running with her because we seem to be on the same page with running & are usually into running similar paces (sometimes she can be a speed demon, and so can I…but luckily not so this past weekend).  Our half was basically our way into training for the year.  It forced us to build in some long runs, which I’m really bad at.  They always seem so daunting, and because of that–I’ve never really trained well for any marathon.  Sure, I’ll get in a couple of long-ish runs–but nothing like what my initial training calls for.  I’m trying to change that this year–mostly so I don’t end up injured on race day.

Anyway, it rained the 24 hours before the race, so I was a little worried about a soaking wet run.  Luckily, it stopped for most parts of our run–and cloudy and 50s is perfect running weather.  This was outside of Boston–Newton, MA, where we got to run the 13 miles around beautiful, colorful houses, a small lake, fall foliage, etc…and I got to talk to Aransas and catch up the entire way.  I probably shouldn’t be traveling across the country for a long run, but I do have to say it mixed it up a bit.  We ran slowly, which is good–I’m not into being speedy quite yet (I have a few months to get there), but we got the miles in with little pain/struggle.  I’m way excited about the marathon in March now.

Yesterday I drove out to San Diego with three of my friends for my first ever “mud run.”  There are apparently lots of these events around (people are weird like that…we like to jump in mud), and all I can say is—register me for ALL of them.  I really loved it.  It was a 5k, but there were lots of obstacles thrown in throughout the course–hurdles, tunnels, hay to jump over, walls to climb, “snow” to trudge through, and lots and lots of mud pits.  Hilariously amazing!  My teammates did not ALL love it, but that was due to lack of training.  Next year team, we’ll get it together!  There are a couple going on next year, and I can’t wait to do one.  This one was sponsored and held at a mega church–a bit odd, but actually really well run.  Plus we got to stop at Sonic on the way home.  Cherry limeade=yes!!!

I’m keeping the races going with a Turkey Trot 5k on Thursday morning–burning off calories in advance!  It also just helps me to focus on the holiday at hand–giving thanks that I’m healthy enough to run these races & see all the beautiful scenery that surrounds me–this one thursday is around a lake/park, so I’m sure I will enjoy both the crowd and the sights!

I still haven’t completely planned out my marathon training.  It will probably involve a few longer road races between now and March–but not so many that I’m exhausted.  I’m training using a “3 day a week” plan, which involves only 3 runs a week (though all of them highly focused and pretty fast)–the others can be rest and cross-training–so I don’t have to totally let triathlon training slide.  And hopefully, don’t burn out on the running that way.

My trainer and I worked out together on Friday–he’s trying to get me to sign up for more sessions, so I got a freebie in there (it worked).  I’m not able to sign up for many at a time & don’t know if I can do it for very much longer–but we are both out of town on and off, so it will be spread out over the next few months.  It is one of those expenses I can’t seem to give up because having a trainer really helps me bring focus to every single one of my workouts.  I push myself 3-4 workouts a week, I get to let someone else push me the other 2!  I’m also going to find at least one run a week with a club just to help me keep my pace up.  So that’s my training for now.  My big focus over the next month is going to be nutrition, which I hate.  I don’t eat crazy bad foods, but I don’t put nearly as much time into nutrition as I do to exercise & I really do want to be a complete package kind of athlete.  So the goal is just to put more time into thinking about food–weekly shopping, cooking more, etc–especially now when the training isn’t so overwhelming.

So, soon I promise–I will lay off these race reports!  Unless you wanna run a mud run with me?!?!  Sooo much fun!

Post-Halloween Weekend: How to manage without a costume

Halloween week was a big distraction for me.  It also happened to be the week our students are not in session, so I spent most of my time at work working on my Halloween costume and props.  Halloween itself was fun, but I was asleep by 11pm.  It was great because I was still able to make my 9 mile run on Sunday (let’s hope I can make my 11 mile run tomorrow!).  The only downside: my costume was so glittery that I STILL have glitter on my face and all over my room (not to mention my Mustang).

So I will do my best not to get lost in Thanksgiving planning.  I’m staying in L.A. this year, so I expect that will be a low key celebration, but I’m still making a turkey if anyone wants to stop by.  Can I bbq that thing on the grill?  Thanksgiving is a holiday I totally believe in= ummm, giving thanks?!?!–that’s a universal thing.  A holiday for optimists!  I am already planning to host a holiday party at our house (ok, half the reason I wanted to move into a house was so I could have at least 2 parties a year), but I need some ideas re: how to make it unique–a holiday party you actually WANT to go to.

I am coming down from my triathlon high.  Last month was a month of great racing, but I’ve really enjoyed the past two weeks of not racing & not having a set training plan.  Now it’s really all about making sure I get a few long runs in before the marathon in March, but it’s still early.  I’m leaving for the East Coast on Thursday to run a 1/2 marathon in the Boston area.  I’m mostly excited for the scenery (fall foliage!) & for the running company (my running buddy will be with me) & not really caring about the speed.  Speaking of speed–unfortunately, my personal training sessions are about to run out.  This is one reason  I wish I made a bit more money.  I don’t really buy lots of expensive toys except what relates to my working out…and personal training is my favorite.  It makes me feel like an athlete with a real coach!  But, I also know I’m pretty good at being my own coach & can make it work.  And I hate telling my trainer no because he’s really good & we both know I’ve become stronger and faster with him pushing me.  Two sessions left…boo!

I’m trying to utilize my non-training time on social and business endeavors, but I’m easily distracted by the entertainment found in my own room (computer, a new book, the T.V., etc).  This weekend is pretty empty, though, so I have high hopes.

I’m about to jump into the dating scene again, after a tragically bad date back in September that left some scars.  (Not real scars, please, I can run fast &  I know Tae Bo).  Maybe this week?  I’ll report back.  In good news: it’s bound to be better than my last date.

I’ve been trying to work out in the a.m., but it’s been a hard shift for me to make.  I’m asleep, so I don’t wake up til the end of the workout.  I like to be fully aware and fast the whole time.  So this morning, instead of slipping on my running shoes, I slipped into my hoodie & went into the kitchen for some bacon, eggs, and coffee–convincing myself this was all protein to give me energy for a workout later on in the morning.  Unfortunately, now it’s after 11am & I’m still in the hoodie with no signs of working out.  (it will have to be a late afternoon thing because I should probably eat lunch soon, right?!)

I’m not good with the time change.  My commute home from work is usually 20-30 minutes.  This week, it was 1hr 20 min!  NOT COOL!  And it’s dark the whole time.  Soooo depressing.  There were no signs of wrecks and someone mentioned more cars were on the road because less people were riding the bus and on bikes in the dark…why do I not remember this happening last year?  I am grateful for some cooler weather…with no A/C, I’m no good in the heat–can’t sleep.  So right now, my hands and feet are freezing, but I still prefer it to the constant sweating.  I think I need a space heater though.

I went to dinner/movie last night with my roommates.  We went to Islands, which if you’re not from California, is a cheesy burger joint that I adore…we all got “exotic cocktails” that cost about as much as our burger, but yummmmy.  And then a movie at one of my favorite theatres to see Precious.  Uber-depressing (just slightly inspiring) but really well done.  The character Precious writes “why me?” in her journal, and it made me think the same thing.  Why some people in this world have to face horrible abuse at the hands of others, poverty, disconnection– while I was blessed with a happy home life & don’t have that sort of baggage following me around.  I can walk light on my feet & am easy to smile, trust, & believe in love.  It of course reminds me of the population I work with (how can it not?)–the middle-schoolers who give me endless amounts of attitude, rolling their eyes at this white girl trying to do my best (shouting at me: “This is boring, miss!” “When will this be over???”) & rarely being able to get through a lesson as planned.

I think about all that they go through at 12 that I could never understand at 31 (their school life is even unstable–changing locations, teachers leaving).  My job–it is something anyone could do (contrary to what society says, certification, degrees, none of it matters as much as you’d like it to).  I think what makes people in the teaching field special is that they continue to show up.  It’s not intellectual or all that deep.  Being there.  I think it matters, although I have no proof–it’s only a hunch.  I taught one kid “Heart and Soul” on the piano after class last session, and after trying it over and over again, he got it right once & we both looked at each other.  I could see how proud he was of himself, and I was, too (what i haven’t told you, kid, is that Heart and Soul is the ONLY song I know…so our lessons are over)!  Arts education folks think we need to be able to articulate why what we do is powerful, but they don’t see that it is powerful because there is no way to articulate it.  I show up.  I try new ideas.   Sometimes I’m horrible at teaching, sometimes I’m good, some days are disaster, some days are a success simply because they weren’t disasters.  The best days are when parents show up to watch their kids perform.  The worst days are when students are focused on how many spitballs they can shoot at me.  They all balance out & the job is just a job, but there are moments when it feels like more than that.  All that to say, Precious was good.  It made me think.

And with that, it’s about lunch time & I’m gonna need some energy if I’m going to make an afternoon workout.  Have a great weekend!!!

Running Report: Nike Human Race 10K & Running Goals

Well, triathlon season is over, so why not celebrate by…doing a 10K 5 days after my last triathlon?!!  Ok, I’m not famous for having the smartest ideas–but it sounded fun at the time.

My last few triathlons have all ended with a 5k, which meant that my long runs haven’t really exceeded 6 or 7 miles…not much need with a 5k.  So, I have not been training for 10ks…but luckily, I’ve been racing for the past 10 years or so, which means my legs have lots of “muscle memory.”  This memory sometimes forget how FAST I’ve run before, though!

Midnight is not a good time for me.  I’m usually in bed by 10:30, and almost all of my races have been early morning–so this was definitely different.  I ended up having a Diet Coke and a Balance bar at around 9:30 or so to give me a little bit of a boost.  I was running with my friend Ryan and his friend James–running with guys is different, because they could care less if you actually run WITH them.  Girls, we can chat on our runs–with guys, you just listen to your music and run…much like when I run by myself, except we get to carpool and talk about the race together.  We had to be out there an hour early, which is ridiculous–we literally had to stand at the start line for an hour, so I was definitely ready to get this thing started!

There were pace markers to start the race (7 min miles, 8 min miles, etc) to help create a smooth start, but they did not work.  It was obvious right away that my group was not only composed of 8 min mile runners, but also 12-15 min a mile runners.  I don’t hate on slower runners (I am a slower runner to those who run 6 min miles!), but run with your pace group!  We spent the first mile trying to get through runners–but it was packed (L.A. traffic on a bad day)…so spent most of the mile jogging.  This is OK at a marathon because you have 25 more miles to speed up to your pace…but in a 6 mile race, it is a big waste (and you have to give up the hope for a personal record).  After awhile, I felt claustrophobic, so I left Ryan & sped up & maintained a decent pace for the remaining miles.

I could definitely tell it was midnight: 1) are those prostitutes out on these sketchy roads, high-fiving me?, 2) the smell of fast food messing with my mind and my stomach in mile 4-5, 3) drunken boys along frat row at USC, 4) my legs, my stomach, my breath–instead of getting better towards the end (I can usually finish a 10k pretty strong…like I’m waking up), I felt myself wanting to go to bed.  I was able to sprint at the end, but my shoe lace came untied–I got yelled at for stopping right at the finish line to tie it, but being yelled at really doesn’t affect you when you’re tired, it’s 1am, and you just ran 6.2 miles.

It was a good start to the next several months, which will focus on longer distance races.  I’m running a half-marathon in a few weeks–which I haven’t trained for, but will add 2 long runs to my training before then…and then L.A. marathon in March.  I’m sure I’ll throw in another 1/2 & a 10k in there, too, but mostly excited to try my new program–which has you running only 3 days a week–but at a faster pace, which I definitely need for a decent marathon time.  There’s still cross-training to do, so I can bring out my bike on the weekends.  It’s going to be fun.

In Summary= I will not be running at midnight again.

Triathlon Race Report: Playa Del Rey Triathlon

I’m a little late to report on this one.  It happened last Sunday, and it was the last one of the season (probably won’t race again until April or May).  I’ll have running races–but I sigh a big sigh of relief that I don’t have to manage all of the different workouts required weekly for the triathlons.  They are fun and add variety, yes, but also much more time-consuming than putting on my running shoes and out the door!  But what a way to go out.  I had an overall great race, and can’t think of much I could’ve done better (besides being faster, but that’s for next season!).

I did this race last year & it fits me well–first off it’s close to my house, it’s a smaller race so I don’t have to show up as early, the race isn’t all packed the entire course, and it’s my training route (on the bike)–so I know it well.  The bike is fairly flat, which I’m good at.  I wasn’t feeling so great over the weekend, so I was questioning what I was even doing racing only 2 weeks after my last triathlon.  I really wanted to get my run right, though, and had one more shot to do so!  I was sleepy that morning & it was dark when I got there–but as the sun came up, it was obvious the waves were being nicer to us than my last race–so I was good to go.  We ran a little late, but still I was in the water by about 7:30am–a nice early race.

The swim was longer than I expected–600m & it just looked FAR…so I really paced myself.  I’m still pretty new to open water swimming & am never really sure how fast I can go…but was just happy to be swimming an actual stroke & focusing on technique–a year ago, I was still freaking out & my breathing was a mess.  I had no idea where I was in the mix because I could see swimmers all around me.  I felt good coming out of the water, though, and thought it was pretty smooth.

Most of the bikes were still in my transition area, which is a good sign.  For whatever reason, I was extremely calm during transition–I’m a clumsy, clumsy person, but somehow managed to glide out of my wetsuit as if I was a pro.  I got on the bike & man, two hills right away (I was imagining this course to be totally flat, oops!)–one pretty short and steep & the next, a slow climb–but once I got past those, turned the corner, I was zooming.  I passed some folks but quickly I was pretty much alone.  It was hard because it’s my training route, so sometimes I would forget I was actually racing!  I was a little confused because I was going really fast & yet usually I’m passing at least a dozen girls.  Either I did great on the swim or everyone else is super fast on the bike as well.

It was cool coming in for the run because hardly any of the bikes were back in transition–meaning I was doing great & most likely going to place.  The run is incredibly boring–an out and back on a wide sidewalk path near the beach.  I prefer runs with a few twists and turns to keep it exciting–I hate that we can’t listen to music during the run portions of triathlons (against USAT rules)…it is SO helpful in keeping me motivated and my pace up.  Instead, I’m singing to myself–songs from my ipod Shuffle that I’ve heard hundreds of times.  I also can run faster when there are runners all around me–I have runners to chase, runners to run with, runners that are chasing me–but again, I ended up sort of alone–having to manage my own pace.  I felt great, though, and ended up speeding up the last mile or so.  A smoooooth race.

I ended up 1st in my division and 14th overall–I didn’t even think to look so high up in the rankings, so for 1/2 an hour  I searched–thinking they had misplaced my running time chip or something.  Ha!  They give great prizes at this race, so I ended up with a medal and expensive bike helmet.  Sweet!  It was my first “first place” finish in triathloning—sure, it completely depends on the size of the race, the competition that day, etc–but who cares–it’s a first!  I’ll take it!

Next season will be all about refining some of my skills–finally, I feel at least competent in the race, so I can work on speed!  I still have no urge to do a half-ironman or Ironman…these are the really long distance, takes all day kind of races.  I’d rather spend much less time training & just focus on getting better at the shorter distances.

In the meantime, I’ve got three events coming up in the next month (yikes!)–but all of them fun…tonight at midnight is Nike’s Human Race 10k with friends, 3 weeks I’ll be running a 1/2 marathon (that I have not trained for at all!) with Aransas, & in a month–I’ll be doing the Mud Run in San Diego with a hilarious team we’ve assembled.  Then I’m taking it easy–trying for the L.A. Marathon in March, depending on how my body is feeling about those long training runs!

Thanks for reading!

Catching you up…

I’ve realized I forget what to say in this longer format–I have perfected the Facebook status length sound bites, and now the idea of an actual post seems daunting.  Don’t worry, I’ll get over it.

So Friday is here–I’m so happy because I’ve been working on a work project after hours and weekends for the past couple of weeks & it’s nice to have that all over and done with & a full 3 day weekend in front of me.  We just had our work fundraiser gala last night–Inner-City Arts 20th anniversary, too.  It went smoothly–lots of guests & people being pretty generous in the live auction.  It’s a strange balance all the time with non-profits–constantly raising money in order to survive while also remaining true to their original vision.  I think ICA does a great job of that–I mean, an arts education center not only surviving–but growing–for 20 years!  That’s pretty cool, and if you come visit us, you will see how unique the site itself is.  I’ve been doing this for the past 10 years or so in several cities, and except for Seattle Children’s Theatre, I’ve never seen a space for art education like this.  So I was happy to work at the dinner, and even better, score a free meal!

I’m itching to do something completely on my own, too.  I feel like it’s the next step for me.  I want to be a business-woman.  My mom reminded me of my various attempts at businesses I tried in my youth–selling refreshments to our family “performances,”  setting up a “ham and cheese” shop in which I sold slices of ham and cheese through the window of my puppet show stage, displaying my entire collection of records on our coffee table for sale–marking each one with a permanent 99 cents label, the obligatory lemonade stand (to which I added popcorn balls, cookies, etc)…and who knows what else.  I like selling things.  I like turning a profit.  I follow in my dad’s footsteps on that one.  So, I’m trying to work on side projects right now, which will challenge me in brand new ways.  I’m always up for a challenge.

I have one more triathlon left this year–it’s on Sunday & only a few miles away.  The bike course actually takes place on part of my usual bike route, so it’s a fairly easy race for me (if these things can be considered easy).  While I love the triathlons these days, I love even more that there is a “season” to them, so you don’t feel like you need to train year round.  I’m seriously pondering what life would be like if I really dedicated myself to becoming a better athlete…making more time for training, taking my diet seriously, etc.  I was at the gym yesterday working out with my trainer (who I will unfortunately not be able to afford for very much longer).  It was the plyometrics/speed/agility workout that I love:  I’m going through the ladder on the ground in different patterns, hopping over hurdles, etc— meanwhile, the folks on the treadmills get a good view of this (funny stuff when I knock cones over, curse my trainer, am forced to do push ups, etc).  Yesterday’s workout was challenging for me because I had done a swim just beforehand & was already a little wiped.  But I made it through, and at the end this woman comes up to me and says “You are just the most amazing person I’ve seen working out here.  Do you compete?”  She went on to tell me over and over how inspiring I am & I see her reading my trainer’s bio on my way out.  She has no idea how this completely made my day.  I don’t do any kind of training/racing for outside approval (not even for medals, though those are always nice).  Honestly, they keep me sane, allow me a different focus in life, keep it exciting, etc…but turns out, it does make a difference when someone thinks that I must “compete.”  I love my workouts more than ever, and so we’ll see what next season brings.  As it gets darker earlier, though, it will be nice to get off the bike and out of the pool & just return to running and weights.  Mostly for dress reasons–triathloning requires way too much forethought when it comes to packing my gym bag for the end of the day.  Yesterday I think I had 4 outfit changes throughout the day.  I’m looking forward to just putting on some running shoes for awhile.

In other news, I’ve moved into a house (in August) & am just loving it.  I have roommates again.  I’ve heard the “I’m too old for roommates” bit from several folks, but I enjoy the mini-family I have out here now.  I love living on my own, too, and I guess at some point I thought I’d be moving in with the man-of-my-dreams & do that whole thing–but instead I keep finding guys that don’t have that same goal (these guys are easy to find in L.A.).  Oddly enough, I don’t feel bitter or stressed by it–other people tend to bring it up more than I think about it, which in turn makes me question myself (“what’s wrong with me?”…ok, mostly i say “what’s wrong with these guys?”).  People  give me sad faces when I tell them about my latest crazy adventures & they try to think of friends they could set me up with.  I would of course love to have a boyfriend, but I’m not interested in having one for the sake of having one.  I really want to love someone, have them love me back, and basically–just have a great time traveling through life together.  I don’t wanna be dragging someone through life or have to chase them either.  Those are really my only guidelines at the moment.  I don’t have a plan, or a scheme, or any idea what I’m doing really.  All I know is that I’ve led an incredibly full, entertaining life for the past 30 years, and I plan to do the same as long as I’m lucky enough to be around, whether I’m single or in a couple.  But guys, in the future, please wear a shirt in your profile pic.  Let’s keep it classy!!!

But back to the new house and roomies.  It’s lovely.  We also have a dog (Effie) that makes me very happy.  We play games together–she loves me hiding and jumping out to scare her.  At least, I think that’s love.  Maybe I’m scarring her for life.  She’s tiny & I never thought I was a tiny dog kind of person, but she totally won me over.  Oh–and the yard–I’ve grilled half a dozen times so far & I really enjoy having a backyard space.  I also really enjoy that we’re just renting, and the landlords hired a gardener that comes weekly.  Hello!  Not sure if I’ll ever be able to afford to buy property in L.A., but I will be talking about “my gardener” ALL the time.  He is not the Desperate Housewives kind, though, ladies, don’t get excited.  We have a washer dryer–it’s been a decade maybe since I’ve not had to save up quarters for that sort of thing.  It’s the luxury life out here in L.A.

And Chuck is back in the mix, which is as cool as I thought it would be.  He is like a brother to me, and my brothers like him so much they wouldn’t be offended that I say that.  And being that I have no family out here, him living here makes me feel like I’m home.  OK, really, he laughs at ALL my corny jokes, so that’s a huge part of it.

I’ve spent my morning typing away on this thing.  Gotta get moving.  Have a great weekend!

Triathlon Race Report: L.A. Triathlon 2009

My fancy tri bikeWhat a race!  This is my favorite triathlon so far for many reasons: #1 It was my first tri two years ago, so it’s all sentimental and stuff. #2 It takes you right through the middle of the city, #3 It’s a big race where the pro athletes come, so I get to see the best in the sport.

Since I’m just starting up with my race reports, let me start by a run down of my “season” (in triathlon world, that usually lasts from May-October).  I raced in Newport Beach on two different courses, San Francisco as part of the Anchorman series, and Las Vegas at the Irongirl again.  Races are expensive, so I’ve learned to really limit it–I was really challenged this year with HILLY bike courses, so my finishing times weren’t always the best.  It’s caused me to really focus on hills at the end of the summer, and I’m really improving.

L.A. tri is perfect for me because it is relatively flat (not completely, there was some definite gear-shifting going on for sure).  The run is downtown & I feel really comfortable running downtown as it is where the marathon usually starts and/or ends–I work there, so I know the streets pretty well, too.  The swim: ugh, the OCEAN.  I’ve discovered that Venice is relatively rough compared to other beaches, so this is not the part I’m dying to do.  But, I was pumped for the race.  The past 2 months have been pretty spot-on in terms of training, so I knew I could potentially have a great race.

I woke up at 6am, had some coffee (i usually do half caff, but went full force this morning!), banana, energy bar & biked about 5 miles to the start of the race at Venice Beach.  I set up my bike stuff, put my wetsuit on, and had an amazing view of the pro athletes coming in from the swim to transition to the bikes.  It is so awesome that we get to race alongside of the best in the world, although they got to start about 3 hours before me–so were finished before I began.

I slowly made my way to the sand.  I avoided it because once your there, you will stare at the ocean until your wave starts.  You can’t help it.  You will watch each wave (there are about 15 or so waves of age groups, etc, going, so there is a lot of waiting) group to see what happens–what the current is like, how the waves are swelling, etc.  Today was the worst I’ve seen for a race.  The waves were huge, but more than that, they were never-ending.  No lulls, no small waves…it was scary to watch.  It doesn’t help that everyone is getting scared all around you.  There was also a really strong current, which meant when racers started–we ran along the beach 100 yards or more past our first buoy because the current was pulling people so fast and far.  Several swimmers went out into the water & returned back to shore when they couldn’t get past waves–giving up on their race.  I’ve never seen this happen & really hoped it wouldn’t happen to me!  When you see the lifeguard boat look like it’s about to topple over, that is a bad sign.  The lifeguards were smart and increased the time spent in between group starts–so one group completely finished before a new group of swimmers went out.  It did mean that we started almost an hour late–around 9am.  Luckily, it was a cool day, so I didn’t worry too much about the heat during the run.

So–it’s my wave’s start time.  It’s like night and day how I feel now compared to how I felt two years ago.  Even with the scary conditions, I wasn’t that nervous.  I knew once I got past the waves, I would be fine.  We ran way past the first buoy–I couldn’t believe the current would take me back–but WOW–did it ever.  The waves themselves were overwhelming.  We dive under them, but as soon as you dove and came back up, there was another one–so powerful it took you almost back to shore.  I’m sure people who have spent their lives in ocean water could feel comfortable in this situation, but it was pretty freaky.  Pretty soon, I look up, and I see I’m headed directly towards the buoy–the water pulled me all the way over in just a couple of minutes!  Crazy.  But lucky for me, I was able to stay in a straight line until I reached buoy #1 and turned (the course was a rectangle)–and pretty much stayed on course the entire way.  My swim lessons have helped calm me down in the water & be able to focus on technique/my stroke–instead of worried about other racers.  The crazy waves actually split us up more, so I didn’t have to worry about many arms or legs in my face–which was awesome.  The way back to shore was harder than I imagined–instead of the waves shooting you to shore, they would take you and pull you back–so it was a bit hectic.  But I felt pretty great coming out of the water and excited to be getting on my bike.

The transition went really well–found my bike quickly, saw that many of my neighbor’s bikes were still on their rack, which was a good sign–and I was off on Venice Blvd.  It takes several minutes for me to transition from one event to the next, to get my breathing down–but I started fast and kept the pace.  I love this bike course because the road is so wide and entirely shut down.  Some races are so crowded with bikes that the whole race you spend passing and being passed, but here the passing rules are not as strict because there’s so much room.  I passed several girls on the bike–two who had passed me, but I caught them around mile 9 (of 15), passed them & didn’t see them the rest of the bike.  My goal was to stay between 16-20 mph as much as I could–and it turns out I averaged around 18 mph, sweet.  This was the best bike split I’ve had–I felt really great going into the run knowing I had really worked hard & excelled on the bike.

The second transition went smoothly, too–though right away during the first mile of my run, I had stomach cramps.  I knew it was because of the gatorade I had been downing late in my bike ride.  I thought I learned this lesson in Vegas–but I figured I needed something besides water and an energy gel.  WRONG!  I wanted to run 8 minute miles, nothing crazy–but I swear my first mile took about 12 minutes.  Terrible!  There’s nothing you can do with that horrible cramping, other than run through it.  I wasn’t feeling great (but better), so picked it up more in mile 2 and then in mile 3 I was running a respectable pace & even sprinted in (but where was that in mile 1?!?!).  I was a little bummed because running is my strong suit–but even with my slow run, I didn’t see too many girls pass me (and passed about 5 in the last mile).

I finished with my work buddy and her daughter cheering me on at the end–went to get my bike, checked my time–and a 3rd place finish in my divisi0n–I was pretty shocked given that I think I could’ve easily done the run 5 min. faster.  I stayed for the awards (and the free goggles!) & was on an incredible high the entire time.  I was most proud of this medal because 2 years ago I was 12th, last year I was 5th–it’s good to be able to see improvement.  But the best part is how comfortable I feel with racing now.  I don’t over think it or get overwhelmed.  My race today was always steady–even when my run started to fall apart, I walked for  a minute–had an energy gel & pushed along, telling myself it would get better later on.  These moments encourage me to really see myself as a capable athlete, not just in it for the fun (because= yes, it is SO much fun!!!)–but also in it to be competitive, to have big goals, to take my training seriously–because I love every aspect of racing.

I’m back!

Me, deep in thoughtHi everyone!  While I had fun on my mac site, I found iweb to be easy to use but lacking in any kind of creativity or originality.  I’m hoping this will end up being a more unique endeavor & will slow down my addiction to facebook status updates.  It’s a blog for now, but there will be more to come in the future.  Thanks for visiting!