finally, a runner

I went for a run yesterday in Carmel on the Monon trail in my new, expensive shoes (see yesterday’s post).  I had anticipated doing about five or six miles and waved goodbye to grandma at 7:40 saying I’d be back in less than hour.

…Ten and a half miles later…

I just didn’t want to stop!  This has never happened to me before.  I mean, I’ve really grown to love running and I’ve had my share of great runs, but I’ve never, EVER, just ‘kept going’ against my better judgement (hello Holly?  you’re wearing brand-new shoes…) for such a distance.  But this was EUPHORIC.  Seriously.  Despite my still paltry amount of sleep, I felt well rested and the weather was beautiful.  The shoes on my feet felt like pillows and I had all sorts of energy.

The Monon trail is about 1.25 miles from grandma and grandpa’s house, so by the time I got there and had done just a couple miles, it would have been time to turn around again.  But it was just so beautiful!  The trees provided almost complete shade, there were tons of people out running and biking and walking their dogs.  I even saw a girl wearing the same purple top as me–I called out “nice shirt” as I went by.  I also started paying attention to the mile markers that were counting down to the start of the Monon.  It was only a couple miles away.  I quickly did the mental math and figured out it would be about 10 if I made it to “0.0.”  So, the competitive side of me came out and I surged ahead, all the while feeling the most amazing runner’s high I’ve ever felt.

And the run just went so fast!  It was a combination of my actual speed and comfort (about 9-minute miles, I think–a pretty easy pace for me) and being so distracted by everything around me.  The quarter-mile markers just whizzed by.  This was especially nice on the way back, as I was starting to get a little antsy that the rest of my family might be worried I was taking so long, or (gasp!) up and breakfasting without me!  I was back to Main Street in Carmel before I knew it, and just had to chug back to the house.  I’ll be honest, the rising temperature and sun coupled with the very slight incline up the road to grandma’s house was enough to slow my pace a little on the last mile, but I still felt drugged I was so happy.  And God must have been smiling on me yesterday, since all I ended up with after a 10-plus mile run in BRAND NEW SHOES was a slight rub under one toe–praise God!

I have considered myself a runner for awhile now.  I started running in high school for fitness, then in college for ROTC, but never more than three miles or so.  My friend, Betsy, and now-husband, Andrew, introduced me to long-distance running and I challenged myself to do more.  Both of them had run cross-country in high school (I hadn’t even known it existed…) and continued running in college.  Before long I could do six miles slowly.  Despite completing a marathon (VERY slowly) my senior year of college, I still didn’t fee like a true runner.  It was still a chore.  Something to check off.

Fast-forward four years: I’ve upped my running, gotten a bit faster and completed another marathon.  I gladly ran at PT before work in the mornings and maybe some Saturdays as well, but I still didn’t LOVE it.

It wasn’t until I got out of the military and met Susy at the gym that I truly began to ‘find myself’ in my running.  She challenged me to go faster and longer than I ever had.  She is the most dedicated runner I’ve ever met.  She faithfully runs six or more miles every day but Saturday, her rest day.  Not that everyone has to follow her formula; I find running every other day works better for me.  She did the math the other day and figured out we’d run more than 2,000 miles together in the last two years…TWO THOUSAND!  Holy cow!  I just wonder how many words that was…

Both becoming a runner and feeling like a runner has been a struggle for me.  I’d been putting in the miles for years, but I hadn’t yet found any joy in it.  Part of that probably has to do with how “easy” running is at any point.  Part of it was my body.  I was a bit of a chubby kid and I’ve never really “looked” like a runner.  Even my dad said so once… that’ll scar you for life.  And no, do I look like the skeletal, fat-less, boob-less (well, that part might be true), muscle-less women in tiny tops and running underwear competing on tracks all over the country?  Not in the least.  But am I a runner?  Yes.

a (very long) list

I’ve been conspicuously absent these last couple days…things have been busy around here this last week!  So much to blog about, so little time…  So, in honor of efficiency, here’s the short version:

1.  We sold our house!  We got an offer last Saturday morning during the yard sale, spent two days going back and forth, and just signed our paperwork Friday.  Our packers and movers are scheduled for the 16 and 17th of June, and then we’ll drive away Sunday the 19th.  It’s not really enough time for me; I had wanted (and anticipated) being here through the end of June, if not into July.  Pray for me!

2.  I turned 28 yesterday.  While I realize this is not old, by any stretch, I’ve officially moved into the “late twenties” bracket.  The question “what do I want to do with my life?” rears its ugly head more and more.

3.  My friend, Emily, and I are “Irish twins” one year removed.  We celebrated Thursday by going on a three-mile trail run and then brunching (post-parking lot baby-wipe bath) at the Blueberry Cafe.  They’re famous for their pancakes and their muffins.  We split an M & M and pecan pancake and the spinach, bacon and sun-dried tomato quiche.  YUM.  Then the “muffin man” came out.  Seriously.  A giant black man in a painter’s cap wearing a shirt emblazoned with “The Muffin Man” on the back paraded around the dining room with a tray full of beautifully decorated muffins and stopped by each table to sell his wares.  I almost died because I didn’t have my camera.  Or rather, Andrew’s camera.

4.  We held Heather’s promotion to Captain at our house Friday morning.  While incredibly unconventional (no one gets promoted at their house…they do it at work or the club), it was exactly what Heather wanted: casual and intimate.  The house smelled of cinnamon rolls and everyone gathered was truly someone special to Heather.  We decorated with flags and red, white and blue ceiling hangings.  I was honored she wanted it to be at my house and so glad we did it just the way we did.

5.  Later that same day, we held our “Bon Voyage Bash” at the house for Heather and ourselves.  At the time we planned the party, it was intended it to be a joint celebration but we hadn’t yet sold our house.  Glad we did!  We’re going to be out of here before we know it!  (sniff, sniff)  The movers and packers are scheduled for 16-17 June and we drive away on the 19th!  TIME FLIES.

6.  I had to throw away a whole batch of lemon bars and start over.  Not to toot my own horn, but this does not happen to me very often.  If ever.  I don’t even think I remember anything turning out so badly that I had to throw it away, except for those cookies I made in high school with a bad stick of shortening…  Anyway, I should have listened to the voice in my head that said, “hmm, this crust doesn’t look quite right” when I took it out of the oven after the pre-bake and it was unevenly cooked and cracked all over.  But no, I proceeded with the lemon curd-like topping.  Again, when I heard and saw it bubble all over the place, I should have known I was in for a big disappointment.  The next morning, after allowing them to cool overnight, I realized what had happened.  Because of all the cracks, the topping leaked UNDER the shortbread crust and cooked there, so the next morning I basically had an upside-down lemon bar mess.  I decided I needed to master this. Gosh darn it, we were going to have lemon bars at our party!  I attempted the same recipe again, this time paying special attention to crust preparation.  Unfortunately, after checking on it during the pre-bake, it had already started to crack!  Ihad  thought we were home free!   Thankfully, Heather is a whiz and helped me push all the cracks back together and quickly pour the topping.  I ended up with awesome tasting (and looking), if not a little underbaked, lemon bars for the party.

7.  Andrew and I are in Carmel right now visiting with his grandparents and his immediate family, who came down for the long weekend.  I forgot my running shoes.  There is a great paved walking trail here on which I love to run, and I need to keep exercising!  I’m taking these couple days off of calorie counting since it’s my birthday and it would be impossible, really, so I at least need to do SOMETHING to mitigate the extra calories in cake and ice cream and who knows what else I’m taking in…  So, I bought new shoes.  Yup.  A bunch of us piled in the car and headed to the local running store.  I’ve been wearing ASICS Foundations for the last four or five years (not the same pair, just the same style), so I’d actually been thinking of getting re-fit and trying whatever else is out there that would fit my feet and pronation.  After watching myself run in a neutral shoe first, then again in each of five mild-stability shoes, I decided on the Saucony Pro Grid Hurricanes.  Very happy with them.  NOT with the price tag.

8.  I.  AM.  SO.  TIRED.  Heather and I have been staying up so late and getting up so early.  I don’t require a lot of sleep on any given night, but after five days (or weeks!) of this, I get grumpy.  Sorry Heather 😦

9.  Andrew helped out and dropped Hadrian off at what we call “puppy camp” Friday morning before Heather’s promotion.  I wrote him a list of directions, phone numbers and everything he needed to bring (food, bowls, leash, bed).  We crossed paths on the road as I was returning from the gym at 7:15 and he was driving out.  When I arrived home, I noticed he’d forgotten the food and the bowls.  Later that afternoon while we were in the car together, he popped the trunk (of his rental Civic), and realized there was a dog bed in there.  Good grief!  I’m amazed he made it with the dog himself! 

10.   The end.  More to come, and some photos from our party, next week when things die down just a bit.

sushi newbie

The other night I went to a local Japanese steakhouse for a friend’s goodbye dinner.  I’ve never been a huge hibachi fan (I know, I’m majorly in the minority here); I feel like it’s a lot of show, but come on, it’s all the same.  They all do the steaming volcano of onion rings, the egg toss and fancy knife tricks.  I don’t want to pay more for my teriyaki because someone is lighting things on fire just inches from my plate.  Maybe I just don’t like strangers at my table when I’m out trying to enjoy dinner with someone…

Anyway, ahead of time I decided it would be a great opportunity to order sushi since I don’t go places that have it very often and I’m attempting to broaden my horizons.  I’ve probably had it on only five or six occasions in my life.  I also didn’t work out that day, so I wanted to make sure I had something light for dinner anyway.

Photo courtesy of Nicole

Three of the six of us ordered sushi platters!  I’m still what I’d consider a “sushi newbie,” so if I get any at all, it’s typically just a roll with my dinner.  I figured this might be a good way to just jump right in with both feet!

The wasabi was HOT!  Not that I didn’t know that already…  I usually don’t even touch the stuff, but I figured with all the “non-rolls” (is that what you call those?  sashimi?) on my plate, I’d want a little extra flavor.  Whew, no!  This chick can’t handle wasabi.

Thankfully, my friend Nicole was sitting next to me and is much more knowledgeable about sushi, so she was able to help.  I definitely prefer the rolls that have fish plus an assortment of other things, as opposed to the plain fish on rice.  I ate almost the whole platter and still wasn’t uncomfortably full.  (If I remember correctly, I think Heather and I probably munched on chips and dip when I got home that night, so to heck with the “keeping dinner light” idea.)

Bottom line:  If you haven’t tried sushi yet because you’re freaked out, or you aren’t a big fish-eater to begin with, start with something cooked.  Look for the word “tempura” in the name.  Or shrimp or crab.  You can always just stick with California Rolls (rice-coated pieces with crab and avocado near the top of the plate) for awhile–that’s what I did.  I’ve really gotten a taste for it, although I don’t love it or have to have it that often.

Here’s to my trip to Thai 9 tonight with Heather and her mom!  I’m thinking that because I had a whole platter of sushi a couple days ago, I’ll stick with my usual: Pad Thai ZERO HOT!