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Operation Valentine

I have been busy lately. Really busy. And for most people this is followed by a "woe as me statement" and a small pity party. Not here. I have been busy, but with things I LOVE to do. My family, my work (I work for myself and get to be creative, so yes, I do LOVE it), running, biking, etc. So I have been busy, busy, busy but loving it.

Fast forward to yesterday 3 p.m. I say to Ross, "I have to go run an errand before the kids get home." "What errand?", he asks. Not trying to be nosy, just making conversation. Oh no! BUSTED. Yes, today is Valentines Day and I have done nothing (read: NOTHING) for the man. The love of my life. Who gives SO, SO much to me daily. So I confessed. He admitted he hadn't gotten anything "big" for me either (although flowers were waiting for me when I got home n Sunday and who know what today brings). Regardless, I felt like a schmuck and instead of going to the store to get him a Valentine yesterday, I stayed home since the 'surprise' was gone. Now, I HAD thought ahead to at least ask Ross to get things for the boys, which he had, but no Valentine - which to me is what the holiday is about.

So when I said I was busy and loved it, let me explain. I currently get up around 4-5 a.m. just so I can start working and get a good flow going before the day even begins, then I see the kids up and off to school, get some training in, more work, etc. Yes, that is how strange it is. I start my day that early, just so I can get a lot of work in. It is like instead of a 'runner's high' I am getting a 'creative high' with some of the stuff I am doing. Weird, but good, I feel like. (Some of my latest creations here and here - keep in mind I am not a web designer.)

This morning I awoke at 4:45 just juiced to get going on the day. I roll over and Lincoln had left a valentine under my pillow. How sweet! I made my way down here to my computer and thought, "I have no Valentines for the kids or my husband". I sat down at my computer and started working and then forced myself to stop. Am I really TOO BUSY to get Valentines for my loved ones?

Surely, this work needs to get done, but does it need to get done RIGHT NOW? I went to my basement and pulled out some glue, cardstock and old valentines (think circa 1999) and got going.

Here's what I came up with:

(I made one for Ross, too. Not pictured for personal reasons. ;)

As I worked I contemplated my predicament and came to a few conclusions.
(1) I need to prioritize better. 

I feel like with training, I have a set schedule, so I get things done. But with life, there is no set schedule, so if I don't plan it into my life, sadly, it does not get done. Ross often jokes that we live and die by our planner... and he is right. I have no "set" schedule that says "you must make Valentines for your kids", "You must plan extra special things to do with them on the weekends", "you must blog (because that keeps you balanced)", etc. So, I need to apply those to myself.
Return of the multi-weekly planner
The best part is that it has space for all the aspects, so not one gets forgotten.
And that's the conclusion I came to this morning. 

Yes, I am busy, but at what cost am I busy? And is what I am busy with affecting the other aspects of my life? Just like with training, the time it demands can sometimes put other things (like family time) in jeopardy. Over the years I have come to balance that, so I need to be just as conscience of that as I do with my work. 

How about you? How do you keep your life balanced and sane? Please let me know, since obviously, I am struggling with it.

Chocolate RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What do you do when someone asks you if you want to run for Chocolate? RUN!!!!!

A couple months ago, I was planning a trip to see a dear friend from high school -- Allece. Here we are with Lisa, getting ready to go to a Halloween dance party.
That's Allece in the middle.
And that's her at the dance. Rock on!
 She's a crazy girl that I love and I hasn't seen her in 4 years, so I was planning a trip down to see her and we decided to plan it around something that our husbands wouldn't do with us... so we would do it together.So that's when she asked if I would want to run her first 5k with her and my answer was... FO' SHO'. Allece chose the Hot Chocolate 5k. Good choice for a newbie. Highly supported. Good swag. I was all in.
Here's Leena, her daughter, modeling the swag - a running jacket.
 I was happy to arrive in Dallas to hear from Allece how she had started running - something she never thought possible since she had asthma that has acted up ever since I have known her. I was so excited to hear how the running had started and evolved and so, so proud of her. We talked a lot about running and I tried to impart any bits of wisdom that I had, which I am sure at times was too much, but friends put up with each other, right?

Fast forward to the night before the race and one of my "race rules" was to get EVERYTHING ready the night before that you possibly could -- lay your clothes out, pin on your number, put your tag on your shoes, everything and anything you could do the night it! There are enough nerves on race day, you don't want to have to "think" about anything that you don't have to.
Getting ready for race day!
 The morning came and we headed out to the race. Good thing we headed early because the traffice was CRAZY... and I got my first lesson in smart phone gps'ing on side streets -- SUCCESS! (Or at least I will say that, I am not sure Allece has the same interpretation...)

But, we got to the race grounds on time and headed to our corrals.
Yay! Here.
In corral. With the sun coming up.
Allece ready to ROCK this race!
The starting picture. Look how fast she is going!!!!
We started off and got rolling and Allece was doing awesome. The route wasn't too scenic, so about mile 1, I was wondering if she would be annoyed if I took out my camera. Instead of asking, I jud took it out... and here's what I got.

Obviously, we were having fun and in good moods about the whole event.

Mile 2 came with its own challenges. Mainly a hill. But, I was proud of Allece for taking it in stride and actually making up more time on the downhill than she lost on the uphill. Good girl.

We plugged and plugged through the third mile.

Our pace slowed and I could tell we were hurting. About a half mile from the finish, I told her where we were (helped that I had a Garmin) and to think of all the times she had run a half mile and that she could do it now. And she knew she could. So we pushed on to the end.

At this point, we could see the finish and had a short time to finish it in.
End in sight -- look how speedy she is
And we crossed! 35:04. Just what she had been hoping for! It was fun to see and hear he interpretations for the race and what she had thought, liked and found challenging. I was so proud of her for running it. There are many times where we will not push out of our comfort zones to get what we want, but she had done so. Not only had she pushed beyond her emotional comfort zone, but also her medical one. For me, I was so happy to share this experience with her 5k with her. I am a big advocate for making your "first" whatever monumental and I was so happy that I got to be a part of her first 5k.

And what could top off better first experience than the post party... or more important the post party food. And being a chocolate run, well, you can't really go wrong.
What we were about to dip in our yummy, yummy chocolate.
Yum! Fondue platter!
Race - check. Post party - check. Onto recovery and relaxation...
Recovery drink. Fyi, not race associated, but HIGHLY recommend the Palamor in Dallas for their blood mary bar.

In front of art museum.
And what better way to top off a race with my old friend than hanging out at an art museum? Totally un-race related, but in my head it is. Something only Allece may get, but that's ok with me.

If you can't beat it, join it.

It's no secret that Denver has had its share of snow lately. 
That's 18"  in our back deck after the last snowfall.
 And, to be honest, I don't really mind it. It is fun to get snowed in every once in awhile. Considering that we have a sled hill in our back yard, and two ambitious, little men to entertain, we tend to make the days quite fun around here playing outside, skiing and sledding in our backyard, building igloos, drinking hot chocolate and chilling with books and board games when we are all tuckered out. Not to mention, when it is all over, we head to the mountains and take advantage of the snow that way, too.

That's us exploring the Mary Jane side of WP.
I give them till the end of this season till they totally
out ski Ross and I.

The fun never ends in the snow...
BUT today, today I had a busy day planned. I had a lot of goals to meet (in part to make up for the snow day and ski days we just took), BUT I figured out how to play "catch up" and meet all of those goals by following a certain schedule I put forth for myself. Even with the 1" of snow possibly predicted, I was all good. I had a plan. I was actually really proud of myself that I was going to achieve everything I wanted to and I was going to make it all happen.

Until I woke up and saw this...

See that my backyard bike path?

Yea, I don't either.

I got to my computer and got an email from my coach pertaining to a ride later that week (since the roads wouldn't be cleared) and he stated how "sometimes the weather doesn't cooperate with us". Yes. This would be one of those days. I think that what got me the most is that I had planned for what the weather peeps had said and was still SOL.

So what's a girl to do?

Most of you would say "hop on the treadmill". Not just because it's the obvious, indoor alternative to running, but also because I am known to be a little obsessed with the treadmill (running through the winters in Green Bay will do that to you. That is, if you aren't Alicia or Brad or Jim or some of the other crazy GB peeps).

But running on the treadmill wouldn't fit in with what I was planning for the day. If I did that, I would have to either give up (a) time with my kids before school or (b) a Crossfit workout... and I wasn't prepared to give up either.

I reassessed my plan. I had originally wanted to run bike paths to Crossfit - I could make it the perfect 7 mile route, allowing me to leave when the kids got on the bus AND give me a good 3-mile stretch in the middle of the run to hit my tempo goals for the workout. Now, I thought about how I could safely and effectively get to the gym, considering the weather and traffic, and came up with another route that would be mostly on sidewalks and side streets that would have been cleared from the last storm (or so I thought) and only fresh with a little new snow where my yak traks would come in handy (I have learned that yak trax are effective, but only in some terrain).

Off I went...
Running through my neighborhood, still a little unsure of things.
Once I got settled in, it was really fun. Mad props to the neighboring HOA who continually clears their sidewalks. Not so much props to mine... But, I ran and ran. It was slow, but fun. Frustrating not to be hitting the paces I normally hit, but I also thought about how I was creating power in my legs by working so hard tromping through the snow, instead of speed.(Yea, Crossfit was going to be fun after this.) I got to the point where I was supposed to start running "fast" and realized that running "fast" in the snow (and at this point uphill) was another definition of "fast". I let go of my expectations and just focused on enjoying the workout.
This... this was nice (and short-lived).
 Then there were parts that were totally uncleared. There were parts where I had to run on the street for a little bit. And there were parts where I was totally entrenched in the snow. But I looked at it as all a part of the adventure.

Cool down and last stretch. Fun stuff.
 I got to the gym was tired and ready to recover... before working out again. I was really proud of myself for not letting me let the snow get me down. I know plenty of others who roll with the punches much better than I and today was one more step towards being like them.

To me, training this year is more about making it part of my lifestyle and not giving up the other things in my life - family, friends, work - that I truly enjoy as well. I want to participate in triathlon, not let it overtake my life. And today, getting out there and running in the snow was the perfect (read: only)  way to do it.