Saturday, September 30, 2017

Take Care of Myself - Yeah Right

Yesterday I read an article about putting aside three hours for yourself every day and I was all like yeah right. And it was all like, we thought you’d say that. But then I was all like, ok, I’ll play along. And so I played along and did the math and laid out my schedule and even after only having 7.5 hours of sleep instead of the 8 suggested and having to up my commute time by an hour and a half because apparently the author walks and has a half hour commute to work or something, I only had 4.5 extra hours instead of the 6 he said you should have.
So I sat down and tried to divide up those 4.5 hours with the three things I should do each day for an hour to take care of myself.  Them being (1) exercise  or as he calls it ‘moving’- ok. I got that down. I had already scheduled that for an hour every day and some days an hour and a half, which is why I only get 7.5 hours of sleep because unless I got to bed at 8:30 pm, 8 hours isn’t happening. And I really don’t even get that 7.5 hours because even if I get into bed by 9 pm like I did last night, I’m not really asleep at 9 pm. I may be lying there, but then my husband comes in and we watch a little tv usually some movie that we’ll watch for half an hour or so, and then maybe I go to bed. I do usually fall asleep pretty quickly, so at least I have that going for me. The second thing (2) is learning. Now he says learning can be any number of things - reading, watching a documentary, listening to an educational podcast, taking a class. So yeah, I do that. I read on my commute, which obviously is a bonus since I get two things done at the same time and don't have to waste another hour on myself since i’m already wasting it commuting to work. The final thing (3) is create. So here’s where we get into sticky territory. Even if I did have this magical 6 left over hours - which as we know, I don’t - several of those hours are already spoken for. Yes, running takes up a big portion of my extra time, that’s why I get up at the ass crack of dawn to do it. Now, could I run less, sure. But still he’s suggesting an hour of ‘movement’ a day - and i’ve allotted myself two. So priorities. I prioritize exercise over a lot of other stuff because (a) it keeps me sane (in addition to the antI depressants - but you know, it helps, a lot) and (b) it means I can pretty much eat whatever I want, or rather, now that I’m 45, not have to worry too much about what I eat in a caloric way - so even though I eat pretty healthy, at least for the average American, which I realize is not a high bar, I still can have Ben & Jerry’s and carrot cake when I’m at knitting. So fine, now I have 2.5 hours left to stuff with. But, as I alluded to above, I read on my commute, so that’s one extra hour I gain. Problem is, my commute is closer to two hours total, but some of that is spent walking - which makes the reading hard - so there goes that extra hour. So now I have 2.5 hours left to do something creative, but also, have dinner, help my son with his homework, get my son in the bath and brush his teeth and into his pj’s and read him a book and then in to bed. Also I’d like to spend more than a few minutes with my husband. And then of course there is cleaning. So yeah, that seems like a lot to pack into 2.5 hours. No wonder I’m so tired every day. And why when I try to tell myself I will write everyday (clearly that’s my creative thing), I get so frustrated because where the hell am I supposed to find that time. And then I admonish myself because I guess if I can find the time to run for an hour or more a day couldn’t I use that time to write instead? But then, wouldn’t I get all fat and depressed, plus have like almost no social life, if I gave up running, so that doesn’t work.  But you know, maybe that’s why Hemingway was fat and drunk right? He never exercised, he just hammered out great american novels and lived with cats that have six toes and drank and alienated everyone he ever knew. So forgive me if that doesn’t seem like the thing to do.

I’ve been looking to the answer for this problem for a while now. I think a lot of us have. And as much as I appreciate the advice of these well meaning people on how to get your life together, or get more out of your life and be happier with your life, sometimes it’s just not realistic. And so in the end, rather than doing what you set out to do, help your readers take care of themselves, you’ve ended up setting up unrealistic standards they’re trying to achieve and probably getting stressed out about it. And that’s the opposite of taking care of yourself.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon

When you call it a miniMarathon it seems to me that you're making it sound like it is less than - which yes, a half marathon is technically less than a marathon, but mini sounds so tiny. And there ain't nothing tiny about 13.1 miles.

Now that I have that off my chest, here is the recap of this race that was at times totally frustrating, a lot of fun, hot, humid, rainy, thunderstormy, delayed and a whole host of other things.

Several weeks ago one of the running girls asked if anyone would be interested in going on a running trip. We settled on the Kentucky Derby Festival half marathon and 12 of us signed up for the race - we did have one late drop out due to life circumstances - so 11 ended up in an airbnb in a cute little neighborhood.

Leading up to this weekend, we all knew the race was going to be a hot one. Each day the temperature seemed to go one degree higher with the average being in the mid-80s. Since it's still in the 50s in Chicago, I wasn't planning on having a stellar run. I had wanted to try and PR but I gave up on that when it looked like the temperature was going to be 88 degrees. Added to that, the forecast was calling for thunderstorms - so we weren't really sure what to expect come race day.

In fact, the morning of the race sometime around 4 or 5 am the race director emailed letting us know that the race start has been delayed from 7:30 to 8 am due to threatening thunderstorms. None of us were too sad about the prospect of getting another half an hour sleep - but soon enough we all piled into the cars and headed downtown.

This is where we ran into our first snag of the day. With roads being closed and the GPS being wacky, we all ended up going the wrong way down a one way street. But a nice (or slightly annoyed) police officer helped us out and we found parking. We made our way over to the start line and took up residence on steps in front of a bank. The clouds looked pretty ominous and we weren't surprised when they delayed the start another half hour. The bank's awning was getting pretty crowded with people trying to get out of the drizzle, and we were starting to wonder if they would just cancel the race all together.

There was a massive storm system sitting just North of Louisville, and I'm sure the race directors didn't want to let loose a bunch of runners just to have the race called when it decided to make it's way further south. Of course, they couldn't just keep delaying it. Even though the temperature wasn't the mid 80s, it was still in the 60s and getting warmer. Plus, they couldn't keep the streets closed forever. I was beginning to hope they'd just cancel - though I did feel bad for the marathoners.

We finally started a little bit after 9 am in a mild drizzle.

Originally my plan was to try to stay with the fastest in our group, Aliza. But since I was no longer set on getting a PR,  I let her go and stayed with Staci and Suzanne for the first couple of miles. But in an effort to get past all the people going slower than me and the crazy amount of walkers I seemed to be running into, I lost them. Even still, the first couple of miles were a bit slow because the course was so crowded. Miles three-six I picked up the pace and ended mile six with an overall pace of 9:51. I knew maintaining this pace actually would get me a PR, and under my coveted 10 min mile 1/2 marathon pace.

But it was not to be...because by mile seven I could no longer ignore the fact that I had to pee.

I had to go before we started, but I had already made a trip to the portapotties, and I figured it was just nervousness and would likely go away. But with the humidity, I certainly didn't want to skip any water stops and soon I was pretty sure I couldn't get through another five miles without going. So between miles seven and eight I stopped losing about three minutes.

While I felt better after visiting the portapotty, the heat and humidity was starting to take its toll. After we rounded Churchill Downs (which was way cool) around mile eight, we split from the marathoners and headed back. I was pretty much running from water stop to water stop. I took my last Gu around mile nine, which helped, but overall I slowed down to just above a 10 min pace for miles 8-10.

The last three miles I did manage to speed up a little bit, and even for a minute forgot that my watch was about three minutes behind my chip time (I have my watch on autostop for when I train, but forgot to switch it - so it automatically stopped when I went to the portapotty) and thought I still had a chance to get under 2:10. Even still, I did hold about a 10 min pace for the last three miles. Finish time 2:13:49, 106/523 in my age group, 1288/5010 women, 3145/8737 overall. Of course, my watch says I finished in 2:10:55 which is a 9:57 pace. If only I hadn't stopped for the bathroom I'd have written an entirely different post.

In the end, I did a lot better than I thought I would. I dealt with the humidity and delays and ran a good race. I'm still on the hunt for that elusive 2:04 half marathon that my speed in other distances seems to indicate I can run...but it seems that mother nature might be against me.

Support on the race was pretty good. Some of the water stops could have been better staffed, but they had plenty of stops and added a couple because of the projected heat. There were a lot more spectators on the course that I figured they would be since we were delayed so long. Afterwards they had lots of food, other vendors and of course a free beer. So now I can check Kentucky off of my list of states I have run at least a half marathon in. Not that I'm going for a 50 states thing, but you know, it is pretty cool to say I've run in Michigan, Texas, Illinois, Wisconsin and Kentucky.

And in a couple of weeks I'll be able to add Ohio to that list. I am running the Cleveland Marathon on May 21. It'll be the first spring marathon I've run. I'm not really sure what to expect and so I waver between having a plan and just going out and running to finish.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Good Life Race

Even though I look hideous in this photo,
that's fine because everyone who runs hard looks hideous.
I'm not entirely sure why they call this the Good Life Race - there must be some story - but it's not on the website.* Anyway, I ran this CARA Circuit race for the 2nd time. And, spoiler, I PR'd.

I thought I might be able to shave a little off my PR since I have been training well and am feeling pretty good. But I wasn't going for a specific time; I just wanted to go out there and have a good time - in both senses of the phrase.

Because I'm a doofus, I didn't sign up for the race in advance. So I went with my sister to packet pick up where I signed myself up for the 5k and the little guy for the 1 mile run. The only issue we had with packet pick up was that the website said it was supposed to be at Lively Athletics, which sister said it was at before, while I maintained that no it was (at least two years ago) at Fleet Feet. Anyway, we get to Lively and yep, the website had it wrong. But no matter, we totally spent time looking at all the cute stuff at Lively and I ended up buying a new version of a bag I used to have but then didn't and it's a really long story, so let's just say if packet pick up was correct on the website I wouldn't have gotten a new bag - which is both good and bad.

On race day, Mr. H. had to work the CARA tent, so we head out early, and get there around 7:30 am. The kid's 1 miler doesn't start until 8:45 so we have plenty of time to hang out, visit the vendors, say hello to the Lively Athletics ladies and let them know how much I love my bag, which I have with me. After 'helping' set up the tent, we head over to the packet pick up area because I noticed that they didn't give me a youth shirt for the little guy, but a small men's shirt. They let me know that they can't switch it out until after the race, which is fair enough, but I had thought they made a mistake when they gave me the larger shirt, but it was really because they weren't sure if they'd have enough kids shirts. In the end it didn't matter since we were able to switch out the shirt and they are super cute and soft and he wore it the rest of the day totally impressing his friends at the birthday parties (yes, more than one) he attended later with tales of his 1 mile run.

Since the kids mile was first, I ran with S. He ran for about an 8th of a mile before complaining his
back hurt, so we walked. After a minute or so, he decided to run again for a while, and we did this pretty much the entire mile. He didn't complain so much as just not want to run the whole time. Which I totally get because I often want to stop in the middle of my runs no matter how I'm feeling. He finished in slightly over 12 minutes and was X in his age group - 6 and under.

The women's race (they split this race between men and women for some reason) started a few minutes after the kid's race ended, so I was nice and warmed up for my race. I seeded myself with the 9 minute pace and waited for the gun to go off. Which it did without much fanfare and we were off.

My first mile I weaved in and out of people who either weren't running at least a 9 minute mile, and then those who were running a 9-minute mile but since I was running closer to an 8:30, I obviously had to pass. By the end of the first mile I was in a pack of similarly paced women and settled in. First mile: 8:31.

The first time I ran this race two years ago, I had a good first mile, and then a much slower 2nd mile. I tried to remember this as I paced myself to not slow down too much. Most of the 2nd mile is on the same street, so I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other, breathing and telling myself to not worry about going a specific pace. After turning west, we head up a slight hill with the water stop at the top. While I didn't 'power' up the incline, I make it to the top, skip the water and look for the couple of turns before we get to head for home. Second mile: 8:47.

So while I did slow down my second mile, it was no where near what I had slowed down to before (for comparison, I did somewhere around a 9:05 the second mile 2 years ago). They say that racing a 5k means you have to be uncomfortable the entire time. This is where I run into problems. I don't like to be uncomfortable - ever really. I mean who does? I got through the second mile being kinda uncomfortable and now it's the last mile. I figure I can do anything for a mile, even be uncomfortable.

The last mile has three turns, which makes it interesting. I try to take the tangents so I'm not wasting steps. My legs and lungs aren't 'screaming' but it's not like they're saying 'wow, this feels great - keep going!' either, and I figure I'm going to reach my limit any minute. But then in my 2nd to last turn I see the pig tails belonging to my niece. I figure it can't actually be her because she usually runs faster than me. But as I ever so slowly gain on her, I realize that nope, it's her. As we round the last corner, about half a mile away from the finish and for one fleeting second I have an image of gathering all my inner strength and whizzing past to the finish line. But of course, her legs aren't hurting anywhere near what mine are, so she see's the finish line and starts to speed up too. Oh well, I didn't really think I could catch an 11-year old. Third mile: 8:40

And then less than a minute later I am crossing the finish line with a new 5k PR of 26:55.5. And I finished in the 9th in my age group! (I just want you to know that I so rarely use exclamation points outside of work because 1. I am forced to use them at work for things that I do not agree need them and 2. Unless I am shouting, do I really need an exclamation point? But, I really do feel like a 9th place age group finish is worth it.)

Up next, the Kentucky Derby Festival miniMarathon. I'm all ready to set a new PR - except maybe not since it's supposed to be 85 degrees and possibly thunderstorming in Louisville on Saturday. So, you know, we'll see.

*Note: I emailed Good Life and their official story is: Years ago the title sponsor was an area hospital and the race was called "the Race That's Good for Life." We shortened it a few years ago to Good Life Race because it was easier to remember.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Lakefront 10 Miler

Before the race - I like to stand out in all pink!
I've said it before and I'll say it again, there is nothing stopping me from running a sub-10 minute mile half marathon except myself.

Once again I had a good race at the CARA Lakefront 10 Miler and 5k. I finished in 1:33:34 with an overall pace of 9:22. According to my good friend McMillan, I should be able to run a half marathon in 2:04:48 or at a 9:32 pace. That's great - but that's about eight minutes off my current PR of 2:12:12 which is a 10:04 pace. So clearly McMillan knows something my body (or head) doesn't.

The Lakefront 10 was a good race - even though it was a bit chilly - or maybe because it was a bit chilly. This year we once again ran up Cricket Hill twice. But in a new exciting twist, we finished on the Wilson track. Finishing on the track is run, it gives you that "I'm a real runner feeling" - it was also easier to know when to really start sprinting because you know exactly how far away the finish line is.

Before the race we all stood around on the infield. There were the usual pre-race pictures and discussion on everyone's expected pace. I didn't have a specific pace I wanted to run, I just figured I would run at least a sub-10. I've had some pretty decent mid-week runs these last few weeks, so while I wasn't setting out for a PR - I had looked at last year's time several days before the race, but of course I had forgotten what it was - I knew I should be able to run a good race. We made our way over to the starting corral on Wilson, which was thick with kids from Chicago Run doing the 5k.

As Aliza, Adrienne and I made our way past a bunch of kids the first couple of miles, I mentioned how cool they look in their matching sweats and then have the brilliant idea that our group totally needs matching track suits! We're working on a team name and logo now.

I assure you that is a grimace - not a smile on my face.
I managed to run the whole way up the hill - the first time.
We headed north first and then turned back south along the inner gravel path before swinging over to the path by Montrose. Up until this point, Adrienne and I had been keeping up with Aliza, but at a water stop around half way we decided to slow down a bit and let her go. The turn around is at Fullerton, and of course the minute we turned back north we feel the wind. It's not terrible, but it's there - a seeming constant this last few weeks.

At mile 9 we started to push a little bit, which was good because unlike Adrienne, I couldn't charge up the hill a second time. I made it about a quarter of the way before I started to walk. But once I got to the top, I sprinted to catch back up with Adrienne. As we made our way onto the field I realized that yes, we do have to go around more than once. As we are close to the finish line the first time, I saw a friend who I know runs faster than me just completing his second time around. He happily let me know that we have one more time around to go. But that's not what's on my mind - I was just astonished I was so close behind him.

I put it all out the last 100 meters - huffing and puffing my way across the finish line. My watch said I ran a 9:17 pace, but had the distance at 10.08 miles. Even with the distance adjustment, I was ecstatic that I ran a 9:22 pace - and set a new 10 mile PR by three and a half minutes.

Adrienne and I met up with Aliza and my sister and then cheered on all of our other friends. All in all it was a great race - even if we did have to go up that damn hill twice.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Whole Life Challenge Week Seven

I'm determined to get back on the wagon with this challenge.

Day 43 Saturday - not getting on the wagon very well, I went to a fundraiser and had a mini cupcake and soda. Did a 13 mile run and my stretching and my plank challenge. So that's better than nothing. It's amazing how quickly the sugar cravings come back when you eat some. I wonder how long I would have to cut out sugar to really no longer crave it or even think about it. Or be able to have a little and it not turn into a huge backslide.
Day 44 Sunday - Tried making a new 'compliant' cookie that didn't turn out too well, though I think I know where I went wrong. I made flank steak in the crockpot and then pulled it for tostadas. I toasted corn flour tortillas in the oven and they were pretty good - a little chewy. My son refuses to eat anything that isn't one of four foods even though we showed him how fun it was to make a tostada and heap a bunch of stuff on it. Oh well, his loss. No exercise or stretching though.
Day 45 Monday - We had an event at work and had a bunch of cookies left over. I ate four of them 😩 but also 😋. Had black bean soup I made in the crockpot which was good and compliant. Didn't run or stretch. Trying to find the motivation to get back on the wagon. I did do my stretching and planks before bed, so there's that.
Day 46 Tuesday - I believe I found the motivation - I have gained two pounds (I know the horror!). It's probably just water weight, but I was enjoying seeing the scale be under 120. I also totally realize that I am at a healthy weight and muscle weighs more than fat and I don't need to lose weight. But it's hard not to believe that cake and pizza and cookies didn't decide to just deposit itself right on my hips.
Day 47 Wednesday - Ran a good 6 miles today, up and over Cricket hill twice. Had a filling breakfast which I am hoping gets me to lunch and beyond. Trying to have a vegetable with every meal so I had an egg with spinach and avocado - not too bad.
Day 48 Thursday - The good - I ate compliantly and talked a friend into doing the challenge as well. The bad - I did not exercise, drink enough water, stretch or write in my journal (this week's 'lifestyle' practice). I don't know why it is so much easier to just sit on the couch. Maybe it's because first I had to come home and make dinner for the kid and myself and then figure out if we needed to finish his school project for Friday or for next Monday (next Monday - whew). And after all that and a day of working, I just want to veg out. So instead of doing 10 min of exercise and 10 min of stretch, I did half an hour of sitting on the couch next to my son watching Flip or Flop.
Day 49 Friday - Didn't get up to run because I was just too tired and when I looked at the temperature and it said 29 I thought - nope.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Whole Life Challenge Week Five and Six

short note: I'm catching up on my documentation of the WLC. I wrote a lot of this as I went along and then didn't and so had to catch up. So that's why this is several days behind.

Day 29 - Saturday - So it's the day after my birthday. I have saved up all my indulgence points so I can eat all the food. I start out the day with a 15 mile run. I'm no longer feeling sluggish during my runs, which is nice. Once I get home it's running around all afternoon cleaning to prepare for the housewarming/birthday party we're having that night. I did do some snacking, but generally I didn't actually deviate from compliant food until the party where I proceeded to have cake and mini corn dogs and wine and other things. The cake was super sweet and I ended up eating only one small piece even though I totally thought I would end up eating half the cake. So while I enjoyed my small break from the challenge I really didn't go hog wild like I thought I would.
Day 30 - Sunday - Feeling VERY tired after yesterday. I don't know if it was the 15-mile run, running around after the run before the party or the crap food I ate or a combination of all three. But it is beautiful outside so I went out, had a pedicure with a good friend and then walked over to Lincoln Square with the boys, stopping by the library on the way home. My back was hurting a little when I got home so I did some stretching! Good for me right. Of course I forgot to put my points into the system in time so I lost all the points for the day.
Day 31 - Monday - Yeah President's Day (excluding the current one) and yeah for four-day weekends! Again, fairly tired. But went out to the park and got some good exercise with the kid, a friend and her kids. Ate well and got enough water. Of course I managed to not stretch again today. I was lying on the couch watching John Oliver thinking I could just get on the floor and stretch and get those points, but it was easier to just lie on the couch. Gotta work on that.
Day 32 - Tuesday - Back to work means more structure around my meals which is a good thing. Had an egg and banana for breakfast and salad with leftover steak for lunch along with fruit and yogurt and nuts. I think breakfast and lunch will be easy for me to continue past the challenge - dinner, not so much.
Day 33 - Wednesday - Flew down to Oklahoma for my grandmother's funeral. Traveling means things kinda get thrown out of whack. I got a latte at the airport because I always get coffee once I go through security. It's my treat for dealing with TSA. When my sister and I landed in Oklahoma we stopped at Slim Chicken's for lunch. I had a salad with grilled chicken. It was pretty good and compliant. But then we had desserts that come in mason jars because. I ate about half of it then and then saved the rest for later. That night for dinner we went to a place that actually had a 'dieter's plate' which was a burger on a plate, no bun, and veggies for sides. So at least I was good there. Did manage to get a five mile run on the treadmill at the hotel as well.
Day 34 - Thursday - Had planned on getting up early and running a few miles before the funeral, but slept in instead. Went and got coffee and then went to the funeral. The thing about funerals at a church is the church ladies want to feed the family. I kept mostly compliant, eating salad and ham, but then I couldn't pass up the homemade brownies.
Day 35 - Friday - Since I didn't get back home until later on Thursday night, our flight being delayed an hour didn't help, I didn't get up and run on Friday morning. Friday night had pasta for dinner for the first time since being on the challenge. I passed the garlic bread though.
Day 36 - Saturday - Long run 13 miles. Felt pretty good but after several days of warm weather, winter decided to come back. After my run and stretching, we headed to Windy City Ninjas and I watched my son train to be a Ninja Warrior.
Day 37 - Sunday - Pretty much just hung out on the couch and knit and watched TV with my son all day. I did make some "cookies" that weren't really cookies - but they were good and compliant.
Day 38 - Monday - Didn't get up and run and had just an OK day.
Day 39 - Tuesday - Found out I got a raise today. Treated myself with a latte. Why do we treat ourselves with food? It was partially a treat to just get out of the office as well. To take a break.
Day 40 - Wednesday - Had book club after work. Dinner at book club is usually pizza and salad. I could have had just salad. Or planned better and brought something. No one would have cared. But I just ate the pizza instead. First time I've had pizza since the challenge begun. Tasted pretty good. Started a 30 day plank challenge today.
Day 41 - Thursday - Didn't do my planks today - can't even go one day!
Day 42 - Friday - Got up and ran 4 miles. The pace for the shorter runs has started to pick up, which is nice. I don't mind going slower, but it's also nice I can do a 9:30 for four miles if I want. I had a big bowl of oatmeal with some nuts and fruit in it for breakfast, but the rest of the day I just felt hungry. Or I just wanted to eat things. I had my salad with fruit and nuts for lunch. But I also went out and got a bowl of soup. It's been cold lately and I wanted something warm for lunch. By the time I got home I was in a 'screw it' kinda mood regarding this challenge, so I ate two cookies. I then went over to my sister's house and had pizza and birthday cake in celebration of my niece. So yeah, the nutrition went down the drain today.

Overall thoughts on this challenge - it gets tedious after the first five weeks and life starts to get in the way. I've liked that I've felt good and lost a couple of pounds and noticed that my pants are a bit looser, but I've not really embraced all of the different parts of the challenge. Only a couple more weeks left of this insanity.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Whole Life Challenge Week Four

NOW it's been four weeks.

Day 22 - Saturday - Ran 13 miles in the morning. Have to tell you I enjoyed the chocolate gu. It was my first time as a group leader - even though my group consisted of one other person. But it was nice to have someone to run with. Did my stretching and meditation - even though this week's lifestyle challenge is not eating with electronics - as in no reading your phone while you're eating. This one will be fine for me when I'm at home, but at work is going to be a challenge since I usually work while I eat or I look at Facebook or something. Made chili for my block's chili cook off tomorrow. I'm determined to win this year.
Day 23 - Sunday - Didn't win the chili cook off, but did have fun eating compliant chili. Wished I could of had some of the ice cream for dessert, but oh well. Walked to the park to enjoy the warmer weather - even though it was really windy. Spent a lot of the day making cookies for a work bake sale. Didn't eat one cookie (OK tasted a tiny bit to make sure they taste OK before I sell them to people). The cookies look really pretty, which makes it a little better not to have one of the finished products.
Day 24 - Monday - I managed to not eat one thing from the bake sale today which I take as a testament to my will power because there were some really yummy foods. Read a book during lunch while not paying attention to my computer. Even though I was sitting at my desk, it was nice to 'unplug' for a few minutes.
Day 25 - Tuesday - We got a free indulgence point since it's Valentine's Day and I didn't even use it. I was actually a bit scared to. Like I thought what if I go crazy because I eat sugar!
Day 26 - Wednesday - Used that free indulgence point to eat one of my cookies. I don't know why I didn't win the bake sale they were delicious and very pretty. I'm 0 for 2 on cooking contests. Maybe I should have made some compliant cookies and seen how those went over ;)
Day 27 - Thursday - I'm having a difficult time with the stretching every day. I don't know what it is. I exercise, even if it's just going for a walk, but I can't seem to make myself stretch.
Day 28 - Friday - Today is my birthday. I have the day off, but I'm saving up all my indulgence points for tomorrow. Ran 4 miles in the morning. Did a bunch of shopping in prep for the party. Had an almond milk latte in the afternoon. All in all a pretty good day.

I'll be honest, this challenge is getting a little tedious. Again, I'm not really bothered by the nutrition part. Sometimes I wish I could eat whatever I want, but I like knowing that I actually have the ability to cut out foods that aren't as healthy. I look forward to having a regular latte, but having a dessert only every once in a while doesn't sound like I'm depriving myself of anything.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Whole Life Challenge: Week Three

First off, I thought I had already completed four weeks not just three. So apparently this is dragging out a little. I won't lie, this last week wasn't great.

This shows the daily score of the challenge. Look how good I was the
first week. Not doing so great later on.

Day 15 - Saturday - I don't know why this thing starts on a Saturday. It always confuses me. But whatever. I missed stretching despite the fact that I ran so should have stretched afterwards and I didn't do my lifestyle goal of meditating. Since I have been trying to meditate even before this challenge, you would think I would see this as an opportunity to really focus on it and make it the habit I would like it to become. But nope, still just has hard to find 10 minutes to sit by myself. Went to brunch with the girls after running and had a almond milk latte and some bacon and eggs. Not a bad way to start the weekend.
Day 16 - Sunday - Not a bad day. Went for a walk to get exercise and did some mild stretching. Somehow didn't manage to get enough water. Had chili for dinner.
Day 17 - Monday - I missed stretching, water and meditating today. Oh, I also didn't run, but didn't lose points for that because I had a gimme day.
Day 18 - Tuesday - No exercise again, but did 10 minutes of yoga right after getting out of bed. Another day with no meditation.Went to Kopi for knitting and had the nachos without cheese (are they still nachos without cheese) or sour cream but did get some guacamole.
Day 19 - Wednesday - Determined to get back into the swing of things. I hate seeing my chart not filled up with 5s. Did do some meditation despite the fact that my son was yelling for me and/or his dad the entire 10 minutes.
Day 20 - Thursday - Well my resolve lasted all of one day. Nutrition was fine, but I didn't exercise, I didn't stretch and I didn't drink enough water. There was nothing stopping me from doing any of these things, I was just not motivated enough to actually do them. Plus I feel like I think about food all the time. When I can eat next. What I'm going to eat. What I can't eat. This has definitely made me aware of what's going into my mouth.
Day 21 - Friday - I got up and ran today and so stretched and drank enough water and ate well - basically I did all the things I'm supposed to do for this challenge - so you know, that's good. I don't think I actually got enough sleep but I had another gimme so it didn't count against me. Put my headphones in to listen to my meditation app when I got into bed. I don't think I technically finished the full 10 minutes, but something was better than nothing.

So another long week of being aware of what I'm eating and trying to stretch and exercise everyday, plus drink enough water. You really think the hardest part would be the food. Which is it for some people. I have gotten into a pretty good routine for breakfast and lunch. I have been eating an egg in a cup with a banana or some spinach a few days a week or making smoothies. For lunch it's salad with carrots and tomatoes some nuts, maybe some raisins and some yogurt with fruit. Dinner is harder because with two other people in your house that aren't doing this, you have to work around what they are going to eat as well. Plus the short one half the time doesn't want to eat what we're eating anyway, so it's possible we have three different meals going. Sometimes we have the same dish, or I modify what they are having to fit the guidelines. Like the other day we had burritos with re-fried beans. The meat and the beans are OK, but not the tortilla. So I made a salad with some corn chips with meat, beans and salsa. It was pretty good. And honestly I don't really need to eat that tortilla anyway - and since burrito night is common in our house - I may now just be having taco salads for those nights. Sometimes I'm having something entirely different. On Friday nights we usually have pasta because we do our long runs on Saturday morning. This last Friday I had spaghetti squash with butter. I would have put pasta sauce on it but their was sugar in the jarred variety and I didn't make my own. So while this challenge will change my eating habits in some ways, I'll probably go back to pasta and garlic bread on Friday nights once this is over.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Whole Life Challenge - Week two

Day 8 - Saturday: Ran the Icebreaker Half Marathon Relay let myself have a latte on the way up to Milwaukee. Didn't count the snacks I ate during the race since you need energy yo.
Day 9 - Sunday: Did nothing but sit around. Didn't drink enough water. Ate compliantly but didn't stretch so didn't get full day points. Oh well. Pretty tired after the race.
Day 10 - Monday:We closed on our house today so I worked from home in the morning. Tried one of the weirdo recipes that i found on the whole life food blog. I totally thought it would be awful, but it was actually kinda good - an egg and banana mixed in a cup and cooked in the microwave for a couple of minutes. Sounds totally gross - totally not. To celebrate closing we went to the Daily Bar and Grill (yeah, we live the high life). I searched for compliant food and ended up eating steak tacos on corn tortillas. Pretty good. Looking at a menu of food I can't (not supposed to - I guess technically I could) eat isn't a lot of fun.
Day 11 - Tuesday: Didn't have that great of a day - at least not whole life challenge wise. Nutrition I was OK, but didn't manage to exercise or stretch. I had a 'rest' day for exercise so I didn't lose any points for that though. I also didn't drink enough water.
Day 12 - Wednesday: Got all my points  - woke up and ran 4 miles with the girls, ate a good breakfast, stretched i even wrote for a little bit before I went to work (which has nothing to do with this challenge but still made me feel good). I have a sneaking suspicion I am doing something wrong. Like I feel like I should be much hungrier, or craving more sugar or bread or pasta or cheese or something. I mean sometimes it's annoying that I open the refrigerator and i see the baby cheese and I want one but then have something else or more likely just close the fridge. I just don't miss it as much as I thought I would. You know what I do miss - milk and half/half. I've basically given up coffee because I can't drink black coffee. I tried a coconut milk latte from Starbucks and it's just not the same. Why pay extra money for something that doesn't taste as good as the real one?
Day 13 - Thursday: So i'm probably eating too much fruit than I should. technically it says in moderation. i mean i'm not eating fruit non-stop but so far today I've had a banana, applesauce (homemade no sugar!) blackberries and raisins. While good, still higher in carbs than what the 'ideal' is. Maybe i'll try to cut back on my fruit intake a bit and see if anything changes. Totally didn't feel like making dinner so we ordered Chinese. Tried to find something that stayed within the guidelines but i'm sure there's stuff in there that isn't 'compliant'.
Day 14 - Friday: Got up and ran but didn't stretch afterwards. I don't know why stretching for 10 minutes some days is so hard. Had a small box of chocolates on my desk that I get every year from a vendor at Valentine's. I just shoved them in my drawer and went about my business. I'm sure they'll taste good when this is all over. Made a chicken dinner that someone from our group suggested. Pretty simple, but tasty. I wish I had more time to cook. I do enjoy it, it's just time consuming.

The only thing new this week other than really being surprised I wasn't having more cravings is that I am having more gas. I'm sorry, but what can I say. It is what it is. I've added a probiotic to my morning to help ease digestion. Apparently I am not the only one because when I asked this question on the team board I had several people chime in that they too were feeling the same and they were glad I asked.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be feeling health wise yet. I don't feel as tired in the afternoon. But I'm waiting to decide whether that's the placebo effect or not. I do feel back to normal when working out - so I got over that hump. Otherwise it just seems like right now, at least food wise, there are a bunch of things I'm not eating and I'm either eating vegetables or fruit or making my food. None of those things are bad things. I still miss coffee with cream.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay with Oiselle Team Frozen Flock

All of the Oiselle teams.
So instead of running the F3 this year, I made an impulsive decision to run  the Icebreaker Indoor Marathon Relay with my sister. I had already decided i wasn't going to run the F3 and was thinking of working the hydration station for CARA when my sister texted me and asked if I wanted to run this relay. With four team members, I had to run roughly 6.5 miles. No big deal right. Plus the race, while in Milwaukee, wasn't until 1 p.m. so I didn't have to get up early and stand around in the cold. And it was inside, so that was a plus. Of course, it was inside an ice rink so it wasn't actually warm.

We didn't run on ice, because that would have made it next to impossible and a bit stupid. Apparently the Pettit National Ice Center is this crazy ice rink that has two hockey rinks on the inside of an ice track which is surrounded by a three lane running track. Like I said, crazy! So here's how the day goes:

Wake up. Lay around while deciding what one wears to an race at an ice rink. Get picked up by my sister. Stop at Starbucks because Whole Life Challenge or no, I am having coffee I enjoy if I have to travel two hours to a race. Drive to Wisconsin. Meet up with the other Oiselle team members - there were maybe seven other Oiselle teams all with cute names like Frozen Flock and Frozen Flight and Birds of a Feather. Put sleeping bags, blankets and what not on the ground next to the track and watch the end of the half marathon. Figure out our order, put on the cute socks that Jackie bought so we all match and try to stay warm.

Not drawn to scale.
Runner C not necessarily a short person/child.

At 1 p.m. Jackie takes her place at the start line and does her first 800. We, like most teams, have broken up our race into 800s. You can technically do it anyway you want to. And you don't have to have four people on a team. You could have just two, but no more than four. 800s sounds about right to us, so we get into the groove of doing two laps around the track and then switching the timing chip on our ankle (it had to be on your ankle, not your wrist, not your head, not your neck, your ankle. They made this very clear) to the next runner. This is a complicated maneuver where the runner who is going next (runner b) waits for the current runner (runner a) to come in. The runner who is going after runner b (runner c) is in charge of taking the velcroed timer off of runner a's leg and placing it on to runner b's leg. It's an awesome responsibility and one that you want to do quickly but securely. I was the third in the order, and the first time I switched the timer I was sure I hadn't put it on securely enough and it was going to flop off and we'd end up dead last reliving my most painful running memory when I came in last in the mile race back in grade school.

After Jackie came in from her first set, I switched the timer and then Jackie gave me her singlet. Because as I was a last minute replacement for someone who couldn't make it, I didn't have my own Oiselle singlet. My first 800 wasn't too bad. I took off as fast as I could making sure not to run into one of the other 99 runners on the track (there weren't really 99 others - there were 100 teams signed up, but only 87 teams finished). Anyway, I keep to the outside since I know I'm pretty slow compared to a lot of the runners and just try to go as fast as I can. I make it to the far side of the track before my lungs begin to burn and I slow down a bit. But then I'm coming back around by the group of Oiselle teams and they're all shouting for me, and so I speed up again. By the time my lungs are hurting again on the other side of the track I realize I'm almost back to the exchange area and there is no reason to slow down now so I keep going.

And this is how it goes for the next 3 plus hours for 12 sets. In 8 minuteish segments, I switch the timer, I run, I recover, I cheer, I switch the timer, I run, I recover, I cheer. I'm not entirely sure how far I ran because the track was slightly more than a quarter of a mile (443 meters apparently) and the start and finish weren't full laps. But if we say I did a quarter of a marathon - which is 6.55 miles, then my overall pace was a 8:56. Overall our finish time was a 3:31:54 (definitely my fastest marathon time ever!) with a pace of 8:06. So my speedy teammates helped me a bit, but I feel pretty good about running sub-9's over and over again, having just enough time to cool down and then actually cool down necessitating the need to warm up again on my next go around. Not really the best way to run speed drills. But it was fun.

What was really fun was watching the fast guys and gals running on the inside track blaze past you. The winners ran a 2:10 marathon which is insane. Normally you don't get to see that kind of speed when you're a middle to back of the pack marathoner. Also, it was kinda cool as people finished to gradually be the faster person on the track. The big downside was being inside in the cold, dry air. By the end of the day my lungs were burning and it sounded like I was coming down with bronchitis.

I would definitely recommend this race. It was fun, fairly well organized but also low key.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Whole Life Challenge - Week One

Day 1 - Saturday long run day, stretched and rolled after. breakfast was eggs - miss coffee with cream. made 'muffins' with coconut flour, coconut oil and blueberries. VERY dry. End up crumbling into my yogurt cause I hate for food to go to waste.
Day 2 - Made chili which is a normal Sunday night meal especially during winter/football season. realized i wasn't going to be able to have crackers, or cheese, or sour cream on my chili - booo
Day 3 - starting to feel a little weird, sluggish, went for a run and felt like we were going really fast - but then looked at my watch and realized we were going fast(er than we normally run). at least i was tired for a good reason and not because my body hasn't gotten used to not having carbs as a ready fuel source.
Day 4 - my body has not gotten used to having carbs as a ready fuel source. really wanted coffee so had a soy latte thinking soy milk was compliant, it's not, oh well, i had one 'indulgent' point. went to knitting which is at Kopi which is a vegetarian restaurant, which means no meat. they do have tuna, and i was feeling like I needed some protein. so i had a salad with a hard boiled egg and tuna. realized the tuna probably had mayo which i assume isn't compliant. there goes another point. first day not getting full points on nutrition.
Day 5 - starting to get the hang of this. tried the butter, coconut oil in my coffee thing and wasn't bowled over. didn't use the grass-fed butter like people recommend. is Kerrygold going to make that much of a difference? worked from home so had a weird lunch of walnuts, almonds and raisins. dinner was plain chicken breasts and salad. i'm eating a lot of lettuce these days which is good because usually i buy a bag of lettuce thinking i'm going to have salad every day for lunch, and then I don't and it goes bad and then I feel bad and I give it to the worms in the basement (I have compost worms, not just random worms, in my basement).
Day 6 - breakfast - yogurt and fruit. lunch, leftover chicken and salad, four mandarin oranges. dinner turkey tacos. first day i was actually hungry. i came home hungry and then hubby said we had to do our exercises before he made dinner. WHAT?! realized again that while I was eating a 'normalish' dinner, i wouldn't be able to put cheese and sour cream on my tacos. cut up an avocado and red pepper and put that on there. was pretty good alternative to my salsa from trader joe's that has lots of good stuff in it (beans, corn, tomatoes) but also has SUGAR because of course it does.
Day 7 - am i ever going to stop thinking about food?

So clearly all of my energy is focused on the nutrition portion of these 7 habits. However, there are other habits I am tracking and accomplishing. I have managed to workout at least 10 minutes as well as do 10 minutes of mobility each day. Sleep never is really an issue for me. If anything, it is making myself get out of bed that's the problem. The only day I didn't get at least 8 hours was Monday when I woke at 4:30 a.m. to run. Hydration has been something that I do need to work on and, except for yesterday when I was chugging down 20 ounces of water right before I went to bed, I managed to get my full 41 ounces before the end of the day.

The last two, Lifestyle and Reflection are usually the last things I do before going to bed. My Lifestyle goal this last week was to write down, each day, three goals, one long term, one medium term and one short term. My short term goal was to write a blog post. I've done that. My medium term goal was to be able to do a pull up. I don't really know why I put this as a goal because I don't really care if I can do a pull up. But everyone around me assures me that I will be a better person if I can do at least one, unassisted pull up (not really, no one else really cares either). I only worked on this goal once this last week, so that probably either needs to be more of an immediate goal, or I need to give up on the idea that my upper arms and back will ever manage to pull the weight of my body up several inches. I guess if I get stuck hanging off the edge of a cliff i'm just going to fall because lord knows I won't be able to pull myself up back over the edge. That's the only real reason I can see for being able to do a pull up. If there are others, let me know.

Speaking of weight (which I did about three or four sentences back), I have actually lost a few pounds and I can see the definition in my stomach a little bit. But I also know that the weight loss is mostly water. I didn't really do this to lose weight but to cut out some bad habits in my diet (sugar). But I won't lie, seeing the scale go down a few pounds has been a nice side effect.

My thoughts on this week are:
- I thought I would miss bread more
- I thought I would miss cheese more
- I miss ice cream

Friday, January 27, 2017

The thing that will change my life

How many apps/challenges/systems does it take to motivate and improve oneself? Well if you’re anything like me, every single one of them. I feel like I’ve tried, or contemplated trying, pretty much every app out there. I have drooled over every planner from Day Runner to Moleskin to the cute one the Chicago Public School system gave my child at the beginning of the school year. I have tried micro-journaling and just plain ole journaling. I have a journal in notebooks, in a Google word doc and on my cell phone.  And clearly I blog.

This need to improve myself, quantify the things I do, I’m not sure where that comes from. Clearly I am not the only one afflicted with this, otherwise all these products and apps wouldn’t exist. I suppose it’s a combination of a need to get things out from inside my head, remind myself to take time for reflection and the little things, and a desire to improve. While a lot of it may seem like navel gazing, I know that I need to be happy with myself to make the changes I want to see in the world - and boy do there need to be some changes in the world (but that’s another blog post).

Here are all the things I am currently doing to improve myself:
1.    I am using a new journal/datebook called the Ink and Volt. It grew from, where else, a Kickstarter campaign when the designer went on a quest to create the perfect notebook. It has a place for weekly, monthly and yearly goals. It has monthly and weekly calendars. It has space for you to reflect on what went right that week or doodle ideas or whatever.
2.    I am using - sporadically - an app called the 5 minute journal. Each day it prompts you to add three things that you are grateful for; three things that you will do to make today great and a daily affirmation. At the end of the day you are prompted to write three amazing things that happened that day and three things you could have done to make the day better. You can also take a picture for each day.
3.    I joined an 8 week challenge called the Whole Life Challenge. This focuses on 7 areas: Nutrition, Exercise, Mobilize, Sleep, Hydrate, Lifestyle, and Reflect. The nutrition is probably the hardest thing for me. It cuts out a lot of food. And even though I was already working on cutting out processed food, this eliminates almost all dairy and all grains, all sugars. So it’s basically a paleo diet. It’s only for 8 weeks, so we’ll see how it goes. Exercise is just exercising for 10 minutes a day - so that should be a no brainer since I should be doing something like that anyway. Mobilize is adding movement such as yoga and breathing exercises. Again, it’s just 10 minutes a day. For the Sleep requirement I set an amount of sleep that I want to get each night, same with drinking a certain amount of water a day for Hydrate. Lifestyle are challenges they set each week. Like this week it is writing down three goals each day of the week, the same goals. The intent is to focus on the goals and keep them top of mind. Finally, you end your day with a reflection.
4.    I am tracking some tasks via an app called Coach Me. Not unlike a lot of people, I get a certain amount of satisfaction out of checking off my to-dos each day. And some of my to-dos are mundane, but for some reason I have a hard time doing them every day - like flossing my teeth. So I set up my basic to-do list - read for 10 minutes, exercise for 10 minutes, floss, write 500 words each day etc. I try to remember to go in there each day to check the things off. I probably need a task to check off my tasks, but that seems a bit, well, crazy.

There have been a myriad of other apps and systems I’ve used to try to fix my life, get my life to where I want it to be, to be the best me I can be - whatever. All of these things probably seem like overkill. But so many of them actually overlap. It’s not like I have to exercise twice to check it off both the whole life challenge and coach me. And now that I’ve written this, I've written more than 500 words so I can check that little item off my list too, as well as the write a blog post weekly goal I have. See, they’re working already.

Note: I have not received any compensation by any of the above products. These are just things I’ve run across in my never ending journey to get my shit together. What I will do with all of it when it is together...well I guess there’s probably an app for that.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Healthy Cooking

One of the things we're trying to do this year is eat healthier by cutting out as much processed food as possible. This means that we either have to give up, find replacements for or make our own for some of our frequently eaten foods. This last week embarked on making our own waffles and bagels and ice cream.

Now waffles are fairly easy; people make them all the time. The only thing I needed that I didn't already have in my pantry was a waffle iron. I subscribe to the Alton Brown philosophy of kitchen gadgets - I try to not have too many single-purpose items. I occasionally look at the Cuisinart waffle/griddle/panini maker on Amazon as this incorporates my desire for both a waffle iron and a griddle - I have no read need for a panini maker. I will be all ready to buy it and then I read one bad review and I worry that I'm just going to end up hating it and I move it in to my 'keep for later' part of my Amazon cart. Good news is my sister has a waffle iron and so I just borrowed hers.

Frozen waffles are one of the primary breakfast items for the kid and while my homemade ones still have some sugar in them, at least they don't have as much sugar as the store bought ones. I buy blueberry (or blueber as they are called in this house) frozen waffles from Trader Joe's and they already don't have preservatives or artificial colors, so in the grand scheme of things, they aren't terrible. But the homemade ones smelled wonderful and looked great. I even took some frozen blueberries and added them to a couple of waffles so they'd be even more like the store-bought ones. S helped me make them and he seemed pretty excited. Way more excited than I was back in college when I worked in the cafeteria at Augustana and got stuck working the Belgian waffle iron for awhile. I would stand there reading a book waiting for someone to decide that today was the day they wanted a waffle. I didn't have to make the batter. I just had to scoop some on to the waffle iron, let it cook for a minute or two, flip it, let it cook for a couple of more minutes and hand it over. I've got to believe that the waffle iron had some sort of beeping system when it was done otherwise I'm sure I would have been making burnt waffles - of course that would have stopped people from bothering me when I was trying to read.

Luckily, my sister's waffle iron does beep when it's done so I knew when to take them out - no burnt waffles. Unluckily, S decided that he didn't like the blueberry waffle. We gave him a regular one, and he didn't like that one either. We've had this reaction before. We make something from scratch and he decides it's just not as good as the store bought food. But the next day we tried again and this time he ate it, so hopefully that continues because we only have a few left of the Trader Joe's frozen waffles and if he decides he doesn't like homemade waffles (a) we won't be needing to buy a waffle iron when my sister wants hers back and (b) S is going to have to give up waffles for breakfast.

Unfortunately for him, one of his other breakfast staples are bagels. The Trader Joe's raisin & cinnamon bagels have even more sugar in them than the waffles. Mr. H. also eats a bagel each morning, so figuring out an alternative to store bought bagels is important. At first we figured we'd just eliminate bagels all together, it seemed ridiculous to actually try and make bagels. I contemplated finding a bakery that makes their own bagels and grilling them about the ingredients. But then I looked at a couple of bagel recipes and it looked pretty easy. So today we set about making bagels. As the photos show, we did manage to make them, we even made some with raisins and cinnamon. It remains to be seen if S will actually eat the bagels. I do not have high hopes because frankly they look nothing like the bagels he normally eats and if we know anything about the way a child feels about food - it is all about what it looks like - unless it's candy. If it's candy it can be the most disgusting looking candy ever and they'll put it in their mouth. 

He had no problem eating the homemade ice cream we made however. Yes, I already had an ice cream maker. I know what I said about single-use kitchen gadgets, but this is different. This is for ice cream. Actually, had I had my Kitchen Aid stand mixer when I was buying the ice cream maker, I would have bought the attachment that goes with that rather than a stand alone one. But I didn't, so I broke my (fairly flexible) rule for an ice cream maker because it makes ice cream! Anyway, while I am trying to cut sugar out, I know that I'll want at least some sweet things and I'd rather have the kid eating homemade ice cream rather than crappy candy or other junk for dessert.

Of course, it's not just waffles, bagels and ice cream. We have plans to make pizza from scratch next weekend - including the sauce, as well as making pasta sauce - which I have never done. I don't know  how far we'll take this. Maybe I'll be churning my own butter soon. Of course, I can't have a cow, so I'm going to have to settle for store-bought milk. But I can have chickens....just kidding, that might be a step too far.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Cozy Cups

Yesterday I went to pick up my son from Pump It Up - which by the way is located in the most inconvenient place in the world, Halstead and North and Clybourn (that's him making it almost all the way to the top of the climbing wall). After battling my way through the traffic and finding a spot to park and then figuring out what room him and his friends his class were in, I chatted for a few minutes with some of the moms and was asked if I would like to join them for pizza. I declined because Tuesdays is my knitting night and just to make sure they know that I don't think of myself as a cool hip person who knits, I added a self deprecating remark - because I'm old. 

Now of course, lots of people knit and not in that cool ironic hipster way, but because they like to knit. I've thought about giving it up, not because I don't enjoy it, but because I don't do a whole lot of it and it takes time and I always seem to never have enough time to do the things I want to do so why add another item? To top it off, it's not like I usually knit for myself. I usually knit for other people - such as recently I knit my running crew cup cozies. I needed wanted to get them done to give for Christmas gifts, and while they don't take that long individually, I needed to do nine. And so therein lies the problem. My hobby that's supposed to be relaxing has become a chore - one that I enjoy, so less of a chore - but something that needed to get done. 

Cups all cozy.
To recap, I like to knit, but feel the need to make sure people know that I know it's a 'stupid' hobby, and it sometimes becomes a chore when I put pressure on myself to finish things. I have thought of giving up knitting all together. I could get rid of my yarn and needles, and the ball winder and all the other bits and bobs that comes along when you've been knitting for a while and spend more time reading, or writing, or exercising, or cooking or one of the other things I like to do but feel like I never have enough time to do because I'm doing all the other things that have to get done. But you know I wouldn't. It wouldn't matter because there's always dishes to be washed, and floors to be mopped (mine for example have needed to be mopped for the last several weeks, instead I just keep telling myself I will mop them tomorrow and never get around to doing it). 

But...but, I did actually enjoy making them. And I got cups to put them around and then I put cookies that S. and I baked inside the cups. And unless all my friends are lying to me, they liked them. And that's why  I knit, and bake Christmas cookies - because it means spending time with my family and doing something for someone else, even if it is just a cup cozy. Plus, if I quit, I wouldn't have a reason to go knitting on Tuesday nights and I'd miss my knitting friends.

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