Tag: Friday Five

Friday Five – Five Things About Me

The theme for this week’s Friday Five linkup, hosted by CynthiaCourtney and Mar, is Five Things About Me.

After you’ve read my post, visit the hosts’ blogs, read, enjoy – and find fun posts from many many other linkup bloggers at the bottom. Enjoy!

Readers may recall that I’ve written “Five Things About Me” posts beforetwice – on a couple past “free” Fridays, and I did one with summer movies.

But wait, there’s more!

I put out a call for questions on twitter, and the intrepid Thumbholes answered, with 3 thought-provoking questions that deserve posts of their own and 2 I’ll take a shot at here. Please take a look at her Small Change project before your next race – it’s such a great idea!

  • I am incredibly near-sighted – can’t see the clock next to the bed nearsighted – and at least in the past have had a significantly weaker right eye than left, which apparently is hereditary. Long after it would have helped, an ophthalmologist told me that I could have had that improved by wearing an eye patch on the stronger eye as a kid, to force the weak eye to work harder (no idea if that would have worked….the little sister of my next-door best friend had one, and it looks odd on a kid, glad I didn’t, I guess) Now I’m also experiencing age-related far-sightedness. Contacts with readers on top, yay! (too scared to get Lasik when I was a candidate, now too old)
  • The only fruit that I don’t like is grapefruit, and I never liked it. My mom’s parents did though, and I wound up having to eat it sometimes at their house, old-school style: half a grapefruit on a plate, sectioned and eaten with a grapefruit spoon. You couldn’t see the pink of the fruit for how much sugar I put on top. The grapefruit spoons in my house now are for de-seeding squash.
  • Hot/sharp things and my hands are a very bad combination. I’ve had a hand go into a window box fan and through a glass pane in a door. I have a scar from cutting cheese for a restaurant opening, have been burned by scalding cream soup serving it at a restaurant (can’t get it off fast enough due to consistency) and have been burned by a towel (misused as a potholder) catching the edge of an electric stove’s heat element. Watching the towel be licked by blue flame while it was still in my hand, and then watching my hands drop it before I even felt anything, was truly odd. I’ve been very lucky. One small scar from the cheese incident, and nothing from the 2nd degree burns from the towel incident (except a true appreciation for the serious pain meds and skin cream used to treat me).
  • From Thumbholes: If you could invent one energy gel flavor, what would it be? Well, as it happens, during my run today I came up with one and tweeted it to GU and their R&D person, ultrarunner Magda Boulet – “flat” cola (“Coke”) or cherry cola – let’s see if they run with it. I can’t think they haven’t tried it to develop it already given they are sponsors of Ironman and flat “Coke” is legendarily used by triathletes in races, but you never know. Maybe the Root Beer flavor was a trial balloon. (I’ve yet to try my one pack of it.)
  • From Thumbholes: All-time favorite TV show? I don’t know if this is what she meant by “favorite” but I went with “most meaningful/influential”…..The original Star Trek because it so influenced me from the very first episode I saw (in syndication in the early to mid 70s), which was The Empath. I saw it while staying in a Holiday Inn in Wisconsin when we went there for my dad’s father’s funeral. The universe of Star Trek – its message, its hope – really informed a lot of who and what I became and what I thought/believed.

Share something about yourself in the comments, or ask me a question for a future post.

Have a great weekend!

 



Friday Five – What’s in My Gym Bag, ATY edition

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,

Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and

Mar at Mar on the Run.

Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages.

Today’s topic is “what’s in my gym bag”.

I’m going to take little bit different tack with this topic, showing you my brand-new super-swag from Across the Years! (paid extra for it)

What you got if you registered for the race was short-sleeve tech shirt with the race logo (not pictured, explanation follows) and a race bib holder belt with the race organizer’s logo/name on it (Aravapai Running). I don’t like things around my waist, so I pinned my bib on my shirt, but it might be useful someday.

ATY/Aravaipa Running bib belt

ATY/Aravaipa Running bib belt

However, I bought the “extra swag” bag and I’m so glad I did. It was a bargain for the quality and items, with lots of cool stuff! Buying this got me a long-sleeved race shirt instead of short sleeved.

First – an actual BAG….bright yellow duffle, with shoulder strap (and shoe compartment) with the race logo on it. Very spiffy.

ATY yellow duffle - 1

ATY yellow duffle – 1

ATY yellow duffle - 2

ATY yellow duffle – 2

Packed in the bag:

  • Black lightweight fleece gloves (pictured at end of post) – no logo, but useful
  • Fleece lined knit beanie with race logo (comes down well over ears with plenty of room in the head portion…liked it so much I bought one of their prior year ones, same logo a light blue fleece and have been wearing it almost non-stop since, including crewing and around back in NoVa)
fleece lined ATY knit beanie

fleece lined ATY knit beanie

  • Long-sleeved tech race shirt (only minor grumble here is placement of the different races – on the bottom back – men’s has it down sleeve, think that looks cooler) The volunteers were great and helped me figure out that the size I’d ordered would be too big and let me try on sizes till I found a fit.
race shirt - front

race shirt – front

race shirt - back

race shirt – back

  • My favorite! A soft shell jacket (think it’s the same company I got my Baystate jacket from). I was disappointed because the women’s had pink under the arms and lining the neck (I don’t do pink) and the men’s was a beautiful blue. After we went to the tent, DH suggested if it was really bothering me, I go ask if I could swap. I went back and explained my situation, and the volunteers turned to Jamil Coury (ultrarunner, one of the two Coury Brothers in charge of the org and RD’ing) and he said “if we’ve got spares that aren’t packed in bags to be given out, sure”. They had some and the volunteers helped me find my size among what was available (turns out men’s XS fits me well, better than my women’s Baystate jacket), so I have this beauty (the photo doesn’t do the slightly turquoise shade of blue justice):
ATY jacket

ATY jacket

But what I prize most wasn’t in the bag – the heavy glass finisher’s stein/mug! (shown with the black fleece gloves from the swag bag, for contrast). Somehow I hadn’t gotten one when I left after my race on Sunday, and I didn’t know I was supposed to get one – and then I figured maybe because I didn’t run the full 24 hours, I didn’t get one. The runner I crewed said “no, everyone gets one”. I went over to the timing tent where both Jamil and Nick Coury happened to be and asked “what’s the difference between who gets the mug and who doesn’t?” Jamil said “everyone gets one”; I said “no they don’t”; he said, “yes, they do” and I replied “no, they don’t” at which point he started to smile and he or Nick said, “you didn’t get one?” I said no, and they promptly turned around to a table and handed me one. Now perhaps they recognized me but at this point I wasn’t dressed as a runner, didn’t have my bib or anything to prove I’d run the race. They didn’t even ask me what my name was so they could check. They just gave me the mug. (again with the AWESOME!)

The mug and some other fragiles we picked up on the trip were shipped home via UPS in copious quantities of bubble wrap, all made it safely.

ATY finisher's mug - front

ATY finisher’s mug – front

 

ATY finisher's mug - back

ATY finisher’s mug – back

What was the best race swag you got with your entry fee?

What about the best race swag you bought? (other than the above, my Baystate jacket – but wait till April!)

Have a great weekend!



Friday Five – Holiday Traditions

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,

Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and

Mar at Mar on the Run.

Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week’s topic is Holiday Traditions. Warning, this is a photo-heavy post!

1) seeing the Capitol Tree aka “The People’s Tree” (this year’s from Minnesota) I always enjoy seeing the ornament themes and thinking of individual people, especially kids, making the ornaments and being so excited by the opportunity.

Minnesota ornament

Minnesota ornament

as the sun sets

as the sun sets

tree and Capitol

tree and Capitol

2) seeing the holiday exhibit, with trains running through it, at the U.S. Botanic Garden, which also simultaneously exhibits – in a geographically accurate layout – DC landmarks made from plant material. This year the special exhibit was lighthouses – also made out of plant material – very cool. The lights worked too, turning around in each little lighthouse.

Special for those who’ve run Shamrock – the old and new Cape Henry lighthouses from Fort Story were represented!

Old

old Shamrock lighthouse

old Shamrock lighthouse

New – funny story – I truly couldn’t remember the lighthouse looking this way, I thought the color pattern was different. But I looked up my race photos and confirmed that yes, this IS the new lighthouse and I DID run past it. Amazing what the mind absorbs and retains, or doesn’t, during and after the race. I plead wind-related memory loss.

new lighthouse

new Shamrock lighthouse

Other lighthouses

roof detail on a lighthouse

roof detail on Fort Tompkins lighthouse, Staten Island NY

Sand Island Lighthouse, Wisconsin

Sand Island Lighthouse, Wisconsin

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

Whaleback Lighthouse, Maine

Whaleback Lighthouse, Maine

Check out the “copper tile” roof on this one

Blockhouse Point, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Blockhouse Point, Prince Edward Island, Canada

Admiralty Head, Coupeville WA

Admiralty Head, Coupeville WA

There are some fun non-lighthouse plant pieces in the exhibit too!

dinosaur

dinosaur

A few of the DC landmarks, remember, this is all plant material. Check out the Lincoln Memorial (not pictured) with Lincoln inside.

U.S. Botanic Garden

U.S. Botanic Garden

Library of Congress

Library of Congress

 

Smithsonian Castle

Smithsonian Castle

If you go, make sure to wander the rest of the Botanic Garden – in addition to beautiful plant life in collections or exhibits (with interesting facts well-presented), you’ll stumble upon an extra tree or two (and glass cases with “fairy” exhibits near the restrooms). The Garden is a treasure in all seasons, and it’s free.

hidden tree

hidden tree

fox at hidden tree

fox at hidden tree

3) walking the streets of Old Town Alexandria looking at the decorations, usually before or after going to the Alexandria Boat Parade (skipped this year though, it was nasty weather)

4) listening to and singing along with favorite holiday songs

5) watching The Grinch (gotta get this done before we head out of town!)

What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?



Friday Five – Favorite Winter Activities

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,

Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and

Mar at Mar on the Run.

Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week’s topic is Favorite Winter Activities. I might be stretching the definition of activities, but….

1) The rare outside run in my winter gear – makes me feel very badass even though I’m a weather wimp (or I’d run outside every day) – bonus of going for runs on holidays with DH

2) Cuddling up with a book, warm beverage, fuzzy clothing and electric blankets

3) Watching the snow fall and hearing the hush it imposes on the streets at night, going for a walk in unbroken snow

backyard in winter

backyard in winter

4) Drinking hot apple cider, making soup and other cold weather yummies – just seem “the thing to do” when the weather turns cold

apple cider

apple cider

5) Thinking about the year past and the year to come – planning, setting goals, catching up with friends

What are your favorite winter activities? Outside or inside? 

 

 

 

 



Friday Five – Friday Favorites

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,

Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and

Mar at Mar on the Run.

Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week’s topic is Friday Favorites. So many places I could go with this…..how about some recent favorites, told to you on a Friday?

READ

Running TideJoan Benoit Samuelson‘s memoir (written in the 80s, I’d love an updated version) Also loved “There is No Finish Line” documentary on/with her, parts of it around the 2010 Chicago Marathon.

Older, Faster, Stronger: What Women Runners Can Teach Us All About Living Younger, LongerMargaret Webb I’ve read it twice through now, and you can barely see the pages for the tape flags. Hoping my schedule allows me to hear her speak when she’s in town on tour. Also looking forward to the videos she’s going to post with some of the folks mentioned in the book. If you’re a Masters female (or close to it), I recommend this book!

EAT

Cranberry-orange relish and kale/butternut/cranberry salad, both from Whole Foods. I have two portions of the kale salad frozen for later enjoyment, and I’m already on my second container of relish, which I’m putting on my turkey sandwiches, on bread in place of jam…who knows what else I’ll do with it. I expect to keep eating it as long as they keep making it for the season (at least until we go to Arizona anyway).

cranberry relishes

cranberry relishes

kale, butternut squash, cranberry salad

kale, butternut squash, cranberry salad

And of course, kabocha! I think I’ll have eaten 4 kabocha all by myself from last Saturday through this Friday.

6 more kabocha!

6 more kabocha!

more kabocha

more kabocha

WRITE

I enjoyed writing my Gratitude post last week. It made me think (hopefully it made you think too). I’d like to do more posts that aren’t necessarily running-related or linkups. Still working out ideas.

RUN

I’ve had a couple of good runs this week, surprising myself in this 3rd week post-Richmond. One was after a night where I was awake for hours with stomach pain, the other on a morning I was groggy and a little sore (from some melatonin taken to help me sleep and from the earlier runs in the week, respectively). I’m so happy with those runs – both my physical performance and my mental performance – though it always takes me “too long” to get started in the morning. (always something to work on!) I was buoyed by the goodness of my run for the rest of the day.

What are some of your recent favorite things?



Friday Five – Gratitude

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

Today’s topic is Gratitude. I think it’s particularly appropriate that we’re focusing on this topic the day AFTER Thanksgiving. Gratitude isn’t just for one day of the year, it is needed every day and some days more than others.

I’ve found that the more I can focus my thoughts, attention and energy on what I’m grateful for, the better off I am. I feel better, I have a better attitude, I’m more pleasant to be around, better able to support others and do good things. All this benefit to me from the relatively simple (though not always easy) practice of noticing and naming the good things in my life and the world, big and small – or even the absence of bad things, or just that it could always be worse – and allowing the natural feeling of gratitude that exists inside to swell to the surface for a moment and perhaps cause me to say or do something positive, which makes me (and perhaps someone else) feel even better. It’s a virtuous circle.

The list of who and what I’m grateful for would be pages and pages long. So here are just a few thoughts and other gratitude-related links for you.

I am so incredibly grateful for

  • My health & that of my family and loved ones
  • My running and all it brings/gives/teaches me, all the people and resources supporting me in my running in any and every way, including my tweeps and my blog readers. I have learned so much about myself through running. And in the last year I have realized dreams I barely dared to hope might come true, and achieve goals I might have thought impossible. Now I am (cautiously, eagerly, with fear, with excitement) dreaming bigger, faster, scarier dreams and goals, and planning my journey toward them.
  • People who love me and support me, laugh with me, cry with me, and put up with my quirks, both family and friends, near and far
  • The mind-boggling good fortune of my life – the country and family I was born into, freedom and safety, my job (present and many past), a roof over my head, indoor plumbing, safe and plentiful food and water, insurance and health care, the people who’ve taught me, encouraged me, helped me…..
  • Reading and writing, learning and connecting, curiosity, generosity and all the good in the world….there is so much good and beauty in the world, so much need, and so many working to make things better for others. There is always someone (or some cause) to support, someone who needs a kindness or a listening ear, and I’m grateful that I have the opportunities and the ability to help and serve.

Speaking of those who serve others…..I’ve mentioned Felicia before but want to encourage you to read her blog and support her efforts. This retired Marine Major (Wellesley grad, helicopter pilot!), daily deals with ongoing medical issues that would keep many of us from doing anything other than the minimum. But that’s not her way. Not only is this runner smart, tough, courageous, driven and determined, she is grateful, humble and generous.

While being the mom of two adorable small ones and studying for the LSAT – so she can better help others as an attorney – she is devoting tremendous physical and mental effort and time to her 12for12for1200 project. As she says “retired from the Corps, but not done serving”. She’s running 12 races, totaling 1200 miles, in 12 months to raise funds for the Semper Fi and Marsoc Foundations.

From her blog: The Latin phrase “non mihi, sed tibi, gloria” is my family crest’s motto, it means, “Glory to thee, not to me.” It is a phrase of service and giving, about assisting others to achieve and to succeed. I am raising funds to give back to two organizations which aid injured military personnel and in doing so, giving back to myself – by deciding that I will achieve what they said would no longer be possible.” 

A quote from a recent post: “There’s been some fun activity at the house this week, one munchkin sick for four days plus our downstairs heater conked out Wednesday evening, and yet, I wake up grateful every morning; I’ve no reason to be otherwise.” 

Even in accepting the decision of a military board so she can move on, she is grateful:

“I am grateful for the leadership and mentorship I received, the lessons I learned, the experience I gained and the people I have met and can call friends and family. I am grateful that there were those throughout this process who looked after me, who assisted me, from the medical and legal side, as well as those who continue to help me transition and move forward. I am grateful and humbled that I was given the opportunity to serve; I did my best to do so with honor, with courage and with commitment.”

 

Please take a look and support her in her efforts however you can – if not with funds, then with RTs and your best wishes. I am grateful for people like Felicia who go above and beyond to help others (but don’t think of themselves as extraordinary) because they inspire me and remind me not only that there is good in the world, but that there is always something I can do to serve.

 

One last thing from me:

If you are grateful for something or someone (or to someone) – say so. NOW.

Now is all we have, and it could mean a lot to someone to hear your words.

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Here are some posts on gratitude by one of my favorite columnists/essayists, Kristin Armstrong. I highly recommend her book Mile Markers, and her posts in the old Mile Markers column on Runner’s World and her new columns on their Zelle sub-site.

Thought for Trot – this year’s Thanksgiving thought – you can see it builds on the ones below…..I echo her “turn a holiday theme into a life practice”

The List

Little Luxuries

Carrying the Weight – go further…when you make the list of what you’re grateful for, include the “why” – and when you thank someone, tell them too!

A post from Leo on 10 ways to show gratitude….and one on why living a life of gratitude can make you happy.

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Who and what are you grateful for, and why?

 



Friday Five – Favorite Fall Foods

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

Today’s topic is Favorite Fall Foods.

I doubt anyone who’s read this blog or my tweets will be surprised by the list…

  • Kabocha – I buy as many of them at a time as I can find, since they keep so well and I can eat so much!
kabocha

kabocha

  • Pumpkin anything – even pumpkin puree out of the can (sometimes spread on bread w/ jam, sometimes mixed with protein powder for a fluff, sometimes straight). Of course, Pumpkin Spice Arctic Zero, which didn’t really have any pumpkin in it, and which apparently they’ve stopped making (boo! I think they didn’t sell it well enough). Here’s a Triathlete mag post on ways to use canned pumpkin (I mixed it in with store-bought regular or lemon hummus when I used to eat that, quite good, and used in brownie/cake mix as well, back in the day.)
paleo bread with pumpkin puree, TJ's blueberry preserves and Penzey's pumpkin pie spice, warmed in the microwave

paleo bread with pumpkin puree, TJ’s blueberry preserves and Penzey’s pumpkin pie spice, warmed in the microwave

  • Sweet potatoes – some varieties like the orange Jewel and Garnet, as well as the Japanese sweet potato are available year round (Hannah seems to come and go) but so far fall is the only time to get my purple purples! (Stokes purple sweet potatoes)
purple sweet potato breakfast

purple sweet potato breakfast

  • Root veggies – beets (fresh and roasted by me, packaged, or canned – easiest, like the below), sometimes parsnips…I don’t like turnips as much and haven’t tried rutabaga. I think my fave Brussels sprouts count.
canned beets

canned beets

  • Fall fruit: apples – dried or in applesauce or in some way cooked like my cider reduction attempt, pears, and Asian pears 
Kuhn's applesauce, our fave from the local farmer's market

Kuhn’s applesauce, our fave from the local farmer’s market

apple cider reduction, from Kuhn's cider

apple cider reduction, from Kuhn’s cider

What are some of your fall favorites? Got any good recipes to share? Have a great weekend, especially if you’re racing!



Friday Five – Staying on Track and Healthy During the Holidays

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

November through January can be a hectic, stressful time – how do you stay on track and healthy during the holiday season?

Thanksgiving brownie turkey

Thanksgiving brownie turkey

US Capitol and The People's Tree 2013

US Capitol and The People’s Tree 2013

First things first…I’m no expert, I’m not any better at this than anyone else. I have a pretty simple life, being a DINK with a great job, family elsewhere (we’re not even visiting family this season, we’re racing), a great deal of choice in how I spend my time and only two people to satisfy (me and DH) with what I do and how I do it. I imagine most of you are NOT in that situation. What follows is what I’ve read, heard, learned, thought about, but don’t always apply. If it helps you, I’d be pleased. But if it makes you laugh at my naiveté, I’ll take that too – maybe it’ll lower your stress.

For those of you who don’t celebrate any of the holidays in the next few months, maybe these ideas will help you anyway, in whatever periods of your life are especially busy and filled with obligations and expectations on top of daily life.

PRIORITIZATION and PRAGMATISM

You can’t do it all at once. No one can. It’s just the way life is. (I know, I know…I don’t like it either) So be kind to yourself and others and prioritize. Pick 3 things that you’d like to “protect” during the season and focus on those, knowing that you’ll need to reduce expectations in other areas – your own expectations as much as anyone else’s. Clear communication of the priorities, once they’re decided (solo or with your family) will help you stick to them and help you politely say “Thanks for asking. “I’d love to, but I can’t fit that in. ” (that’s all you have to say….)

For example,

  • Got a race you’re training for? Getting your long and quality runs in may be one of your top 3. You might need to skip an easy run, a strength session or some other activity to fit them in.
  • Want to make sure you have lots of quality time with family you don’t see often? TV watching, internet time and some school/work/group activities (parties, bake sales, etc.) might need to be skipped. The DVR can help here, and we’ll all welcome you back to the internet when you return.
  • Are there traditions you want to share with family and friends, or ones you want to start? (making cookies, visiting an exhibit, or something like setting aside an evening for ordering pizza, playing carols – or watching Die Hard – and wrapping gifts?)

May I suggest that regardless of your “3 things”, get as much sleep as possible to help keep you healthy, sane and in good spirits. This benefits both you and those around you and makes everything else easier.

PLANNING and PREPARATION

One of your priorities is probably keeping physically healthy, which includes what you eat. It’s very easy to go off your normal eating pattern at the holidays – so much temptation combined with fatigue, stress,  being off schedule or away from home, attending office or school events. If you’re concerned you’ll eat in a way you don’t really want to or would regret later, don’t go into the situation without a plan. Spend some time thinking about what you really enjoy and (assuming you’re a moderator, not an abstainer like me), decided ahead of time what to treat yourself to. Perhaps foods or beverages only available at the holidays, whether homemade or otherwise? One cookie, three bites of something, or some other small portion of a beloved food won’t make too much difference, as long as you balance it out with healthy eating the rest of the time. If you know you’re going to an event where there’s just too much good stuff to pass up, some of the tricks you’ve read about actually work, like planning those calories into your daily budget, eating salad and drinking water just before you go, taking enough for one bite of everything and then stopping, etc. Decide ahead of time what you’re going to do, and consider telling someone else who can help you stick to it.

Keep the kitchen at home stocked with healthy food – even if you need to buy it pre-made or spend some time prepping it. Make a list of things you might want to make sure you have on hand for quick dinners and packable breakfasts and lunches (don’t forget healthy snacks) and do one massive run for non-perishables, picking up perishables weekly. Protein shakes, healthy “bars”, fruit, cut up veggies, salads, soup/chili (frozen, canned or a pot/crockpot version), potatoes or sweet potatoes that can be microwaved, eggs or egg whites for quick scrambles, etc. You may get bored eating the same thing a lot, but at least it’ll be healthy, and you’ll probably be getting enough variety and treats elsewhere.

If you know that you’re going to be around people who make you crazy (families often contain such people along with the ones you dearly love seeing), come up with strategies to cope. Take a walk, tell funny stories in your head, do what you need to do to get a break for yourself and be able to enjoy what you can while trying to accept everything else as part of the deal. Create a code for “get me out of here” with a sibling or significant other. Or try a new approach – engage someone who makes you crazy in discussion, try to see them from a new perspective. (none of this means hang out with any toxic folks – that’s to be politely avoided as best you can)

Make plans and schedules for November and December. This can actually be kind of fun, planning all the things you’re looking forward to doing! Post them where all in your household can see and make sure to take a little time daily and weekly to review the schedule and communicate what everyone is doing when and where. There will be conflicts, whether of obligations or desires, and misunderstandings or mistakes. At those times, go back to your priorities and think for a moment “in January, or next year, how will I wish I handled this” and then respond.

FUN and FLEXIBILITY

Keep going with a beloved tradition, choose to make a new one (seek out unique events or activities) or let one emerge “organically”. If you get a goofy impulse for something fun or generous, go with it! Try something new or do something really old…when was the last time you made paper chains of red and green construction paper strips held together with glue stick and used them to decorate? (I’ve done it – in the last 5 years!)

All the prioritization, pragmatism, planning, and preparation is a setup, a framework to help you enjoy the good stuff, keep going what needs to keep going (regular exercise, healthy eating, enough sleep), and stay at least as “sane” as you are the rest of the year. But things will get messed up, plans will change at the last minute, good intentions may meet their match in homemade Spritz cookies and eggnog, and the cat or dog or child will destroy something fragile or important to you, possibly even something irreplaceable. When it all goes awry, take a breath, cut yourself some slack, and laugh. It may make a funny story for future holiday seasons. Try to keep the perspective that if everyone’s ok, that’s all that matters, the rest is just stuff.

PERSPECTIVE

There are likely to  be those of you going through the first holiday season after the loss of a loved one. From my personal experience, keeping things the same can be either comforting or incredibly painful as the missed person’s presence is so deeply felt. For the first couple of holidays after my mom died in September of 1992, I tried very hard to keep up the family traditions for me, my Dad and my mom’s mom who lived close by. But in some ways it made things worse for me as it was just so obvious that she wasn’t there. The hole in our lives and hearts was wide, gaping and raw. I learned I had to stop trying to make everything the same because it never would be the same, and that was only right. I held on to some small traditions, made new ones, and found ways to honor and remember her that allowed me to move forward.

It may help you to help someone else; I know it did (and does) help me. I helped out one evening at a church packaging food for a food pantry. You might want to wrap gifts for people at a homeless shelter, visit a children’s hospital or nursing home, or other such important activities. You can even dedicate the time (or a donation if you’re not up to the actual doing) in memory of your loved one. If you’re not affiliated with an organization, you can look on the web or in your local newspaper for opportunities, or call around to the types of places I mention. Another resource is the organization OneBrick (in many areas of the country) which offers one-time volunteer opportunities with a bit of a social event feel to them – no long-term commitment required.

However you grieve and deal with the season only has to be right for you, not anyone else. Be kind to yourself. Seek solitude and silence or the comfort of friends and family as you feel the need and feel able. Don’t be afraid to say “I just can’t” but try not to isolate yourself from people and events that might bring you little bits of pleasure or distract you even for a moment. It’s not a betrayal or diminishment of the person you’ve lost or of your love for them to feel pleasure or enjoy yourself. That’s what they’d want for you. Just keep breathing and letting yourself feel however you feel, and as time passes, your feelings will evolve and you will feel differently. I send you my best.



Friday Five – Halloween Edition

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week is the Halloween edition!

Of the three traditions below, my family always “celebrated” Halloween with trick-or-treating, I’ve read about Samhain as I had friends who celebrated it, and over the years I’ve become more interested in Dia de los Muertos, or at least what it represents and tries to accomplish.

Halloween/All Hallows’ Eve

It initiates the triduum of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed believers.Within Allhallowtide, the traditional focus of All Hallows’ Eve revolves around the theme of using “humor and ridicule to confront the power of death.”

Samhain

Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset on 31 October to sunset on 1 November, which is nearly halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice. Along with Imbolc, Beltane, and Lughnasadh it makes up the four Gaelic seasonal festivals. It was observed in Ireland, the Isle of Man, and parts of Scotland. Kindred festivals were held at the same time of year in other Celtic lands; for example the Brythonic Calan Gaeaf (in Wales), Kalan Gwav (in Cornwall), and Kalan Goañv (in Brittany).

Samhain is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and is known to have pre-Christian roots. Many important events in Irish mythology happen or begin on Samhain. ISamhain (like Beltane) was seen as a liminal time, when the spirits or fairies (the Aos Sí) could more easily come into our world. 

Dia de los Muertos

Assured that the dead would be insulted by mourning or sadness, Dia de los Muertos celebrates the lives of the deceased with food, drink, parties, and activities the dead enjoyed in life. Dia de los Muertos recognizes death as a natural part of the human experience, a continuum with birth, childhood, and growing up to become a contributing member of the community. On Dia de los Muertos, the dead are also a part of the community, awakened from their eternal sleep to share celebrations with their loved ones. 

The most familiar symbol of Dia de los Muertos may be the calacas and calaveras(skeletons and skulls), which appear everywhere during the holiday: in candied sweets, as parade masks, as dolls. Calacas and calaveras are almost always portrayed as enjoying life, often in fancy clothes and entertaining situations.

Favorite things from past and present Halloweens:

  • Candy – As a kid – ok, and older than that – my all-time goodie bag fave were the little Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. But as I got older, candy corn and mellowcreme pumpkins were always what appealed to me (made by Brach’s, a local candy company where I worked as a temporary secretary during college). The sweetness is nicely offset by a strong cup of coffee, and a few candy corns post-run will perk you right up! And then someone invented pumpkin kisses….and a few years later, I mostly stopped eating candy. Go figure.
  • Pumpkin carving and putting a candle inside – my mom had a talent for this. I can picture her at the kitchen table with the pile of pumpkin innards on newspapers next to the gourd. As I got older, I got to draw on the pumpkin and she’d carve. Then I was old enough to carve. Then we went back to just drawing on them with markers – easier and they didn’t rot as quickly!
  • Skull stuff – like this marshmallow candy DH picked up
sugar skull candy

sugar skull candy

or this InknBurn sugar skull tech shirt that I own – It’s great to run in or just wear! Always gets noticed. (I put it under a sweater for work.)

sugar skull shirt

 

or these mash-up Halloween/Dia de los Muertos decorations painted by Endurance Planet’s Tawnee Prazak (multi-talented woman, an artist as well as triathlete, coach, podcaster….)

  • Seeing little kids in adorable costumes carefully making their way up the stairs to take a piece or two of candy in their chubby fists before making their way back down, step by step….usually prompted by their parents to say “thank you” – we’ve had some real cuties show up!
  •  It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! 

What are some of your favorite things about Halloween, Samhain, and/or Dia de los Muertos?

Have a happy – and safe – holiday, whichever you celebrate – and happy Friday if none of the above!

 

 



Friday Five – 5 Favorite Fitness Tunes

Welcome to the Friday Five Linkup, hosted by my blog buds/local tweeps

Cynthia at You Signed Up for What?!,
Courtney at EatPrayRunDC and
Mar at Mar on the Run.
Make sure to stop by their blogs for their picks and hop along to the other bloggers in the linkup, featured at the bottom of their pages!

This week’s theme is: 5 favorite fitness tunes. Flashback to old playlists, new race playlists….Too bad podcasts don’t count!

I train with podcasts but race to music (though I’m thinking of running Richmond with podcasts to keep it as a training run in my mind). My trusty shuffles are below (the blue is older, and smaller – the yellow I got for Shamrock and it’s now my “race” shuffle whereas I currently tend to train with the blue one).

my iPod shuffles

my iPod shuffles

Over time, my taste in music hasn’t changed too much, which is why there are a lot of older songs on my playlists. The selection certainly dates me a bit! Some are from when I was running at a slower pace than what I go for now.

I had to add a lot of songs for Shamrock, trying to keep closer to 180bpm – also figured out that I can tolerate some dance/electronic music and that some of what people think is 180bpm really isn’t. I won’t listen to rap, hip hop, or songs with misogynistic/violent/depressing lyrics, which narrows the set of fast songs with a strong beat quite a bit. I can’t just block out the lyrics (though I don’t remember hearing some of the songs at Baystate!) so I make sure the lyrics are mostly words I’m okay with my brain hearing during training/racing.

I’m adding a Taiko drum piece to my Baystate list, should be interesting. (Richmond has a taiko drummer early on – wish they’d move them later in the race), and I think Big Sur does too. I heard Lucho on Endurance Planet talking about using taiko music to get into kind of a meditative state when he runs, which sounded helpful. I was also thinking about a Native American drum piece but haven’t found one yet I wanted to try.

The list below – in no particular order – is a mix of old and new, favorites for different reasons (some for lyrics, some mostly for the music, some for both). Yes, there are more than 5, bonus for you. Some I’ll be running with on Sunday at Baystate, some are just songs that make me smile when I think of training to them. Enjoy!

  • Best Day of My Life – American Authors
  • Unwritten – Natasha Bedingfield (a good one for very early in the race playlist as it’s slower and reminds you things are possible)
  • The Middle – Jimmy Eat World
  • Wild Wild West – The Escape Club If you recall, I played this song a LOT during Shamrock. When I start it up now, I immediately am taken back to those miles and the picture in my head.
  • Never Gonna Stop – Rob Zombie Thanks to UltraRunnerPodcast for this one (it’s their theme song).
  • Synchronicity I – Police H/T to DH for this one, good pace.
  • Raise Your Glass and Get This Party Started – Pink The first one because it was re-made (so to speak) for a conference I have fond memories of, and the second because it’s just such a great “let’s go” song.
  • Don’t Look Back – Boston
  • Beautiful Day – the original from U2, though I’ve added a remixed version rec’d by Deena Kastor to my playlist and like it pretty well too. 
  • Footloose – yep, the Kenny Loggins 80s movie theme
  • Thunderstruck – AC/DC
  • We Will Rock You – Queen
  • Head Over Heels – the GoGos
  • Single Ladies (my only Beyonce song) Great beat and peppy, easy-to-sing lyrics.
  • A 30 second or so clip from the Marathon Talk opening theme is placed at multiple points through my playlist (unfortunately, the clip includes the word “talk” which is a bit jarring but oh well). Don’t know where they got it, but since I listen to their podcast first (and only) on my long run, the music kicks my brain into “we’re running long now” mode. This is similar to using the Ultrarunnerpodcast theme, but more than once. I’ll be a week behind on their podcasts after race weekend (and it looks like a good one), possibly 2 since I won’t be running much in the first week post-race. That means I’ll get backed up on other podcasts too. Just have to run more to catch up, I guess.

What are your 5 favorite running or fitness tunes?