Running Ahead

Finally a grey Sunday with no plans. It’s exactly one month until we leave for Mozambique and I desperately needed a day like today to get organized, set up a calendar, and make lists of everything that needs to be done before we leave.

Work is a challenge right now because we are transitioning to a new software platform which is set to go live on January 1st. I’m in the first group of employees being trained on the new software. We had two days of computer training this past week and now we are left with the capability of “playing around” with the program. It’s different, and there are definitely some unique features that are not present in our current program, but we will all learn it eventually.

I’ve just plotted out the next 4 weeks of home visits and possible telephonic assessments. Barring any major issues I could very well assess all of my December members (patients) as well as many from early January. I’m not being negative when I say that it is wishful thinking that I will achieve this goal. I am being realistic.

Things that will throw off my goal are members being hospitalized and discharged before I leave, new enrollees assigned to me, and members I am unable to reach by phone. When a member is hospitalized we are supposed to see them within 72 hours of discharge. New enrollees have to be seen before the last day of the month. I have one for December so far. Typically we know the month before, but I have been assigned new enrollees during the current month. The biggest challenge with my members is the ever changing phone number. I have never seen people rotate through phone numbers so rapidly. Because of this I have now amassed a large directory of phone numbers for each member including relative’s phone numbers and anyone else they can identify as an emergency contact. In the event that I cannot reach someone by phone I will make an unannounced visit in hopes of finding them at home. It is likely that all of these things will happen so I’ve tried to build in a little flexibility into my schedule.

Holidays and birthdays…The next few weeks are full of them! All are cause for happiness so definitely worth making room in the schedule for a little fun. We begin with Thanksgiving this week. My sister and I have invited some new faces to Thanksgiving dinner. This time of year has been clouded by the sadness of losing my stepfather on 12/2/1996. Thanksgiving was the last holiday we all spent together and it was his favorite holiday. Needless to say it’s never been the same since and some years it’s been downright miserable. Carlos changed that a lot and obviously we are much happier with him in our lives. Last year I invited a good friend to spend Thanksgiving with us and I just felt that he breathed new life into the day for us. This year Orlando and I have invited a friend we’ve never even met before, but he’s Mozambican and studying in Boston. OK that doesn’t exactly sounds like grounds to invite a perfect stranger to Thanksgiving dinner, but we feel like we’ve known him for a while now. He was introduced to us in a Facebook Peace Corps Mozambique group and he and Orlando have spoken on the phone a number of times over the last year or so. We are really looking forward to finally meeting him in person. He will be staying with us from Tuesday through Friday. My sister’s husband’s cousin, wife and son will also be joining us. They are from Brazil so there will probably be more Portuguese than English spoken.

On Friday we leave bright and early on the train headed for NYC. My sister and I have planned the first annual post Thanksgiving holiday trip. I’m not sure if that’s the official name for it, but we have been determined to start a tradition. Unlike most families we feel as though we lack traditions. Carlos, Orlando, my mom, her husband, my sister, her husband, and I are going to the Christmas show at Radio City Music Theater, out to dinner and then we will sight see the next day before returning home Saturday evening. I’m not sure we will do the exact same thing each year, but we hope to do something all together as a family the day after Thanksgiving each year. We will see how this goes!

My sister’s husband’s birthday is 12/15 and my sister and Carlos celebrate their birthday on 12/17. Carlos’ best friend, Tyler’s birthday is in December too. Carlos’ “friend” birthday party is on December 5th. It’s a winter pool party at a local school’s aquatic center. My sister is turning 40 this year. Nothing is set in stone yet, but her husband mentioned getting together on December 12th. On my son’s actual birthday we have tickets for an advanced showing of the new Star Wars movie which is set to open nationwide the following day. We are going with his friend Tyler. The boys are so excited. Light sabers are encouraged!!

Carlos has his own iCal color because his schedule is often more involved than mine. I have to work in religion class, karate, skating, and play dates. We have a couple of school events including his birthday celebration in the classroom. They do a really special ceremony with the birthday child sharing photos of each year of their life and a healthy treat for their classmates.

With all of that going on how could I even imagine training for anything? I’m not technically training right now. I have a fun run 5K on 12/6 that I’m doing with Carlos and friends. No pressure, no time goals, just fun and hot chocolate (maybe a soy latte for me!). Aside from that I’m feeling really loose about my fitness goals right now. I’ve been focused on incorporating a daily yoga practice into my life. It’s been going really well. I am up around 4:15 each day including this weekend and I have begun each day with 20-30 minutes of yoga. What I wouldn’t give to have the absolute freedom to become an accomplished yoga student. It is challenging, makes me sweat sometimes, my muscles feel the burn, and yet I always come away with this sense of calmness and serenity. I want so much to be good at yoga, to have the time to really master the postures, and maybe some day the skill to teach others.

I’ve also been throwing in some kettle bell swings after yoga and whenever I can throughout the day. Since my work is very sedentary it’s a good way to get the blood flowing and add a little impromptu strength training for whatever it’s worth.

Now to the real point of this post…running. I’m still running, not every day and with no plan. I just run when I feel like it and either however long I have time to run or however long I want to run. I have been consistently keeping an average pace of under 10 minutes/mile. Some days that pace feels smooth and other days it feels like I’m sprinting.

Overall this lack of structure was exactly what I needed post marathon, but I’m feeling ready to bring some focus back to running and begin setting some goals. I am definitely not planning to run a spring marathon. I didn’t enjoy training through the winter especially given the conditions we had last winter and the one before it. However, I do want to keep my eye on fall marathons and I don’t want to have to build my mileage from the ground up come July. So I’m hoping to use the next few months to begin working on increasing my speed and improving my endurance on hills. Nothing like a hill to warm you up on a cold winter’s day! My tentative race plans look like this:

December through February Snowstorm Classics – alternating 5K and 10K races every Saturday morning at a local park. The “race” are $5 and very low key. I’m hoping to do as many as possible as a means to improve speed and gauge my progress. I think it will also be a great incentive for getting outside to run when it’s cold.

February – Jones 10miler

March – St. Patrick’s 10K

April – Oleksak Lumber Half Marathon

June – Lake Wyola 4.8 miler, Vegan Power 25K trail race

August – Shelburne Falls 10K

September – Half Marathon (not sure which race yet)

October – Full Marathon (Wine Glass possible, but not my first choice)

Peppered in throughout the races I will be including as many 5K races as I can afford. There are local $5 Thursday night races and a Summer Sizzler Series similar to the Snowstorm Classics. I know the 5K races will be beneficial to improving my speed.

However, I don’t want to just run. I recall from my training for Montreal, the year I PR’d every race, it is important to include strength training and regular yoga to help avoid injury. One more thing I am going to add to my calendar this month is a return to the gym for a more structured strength training session.

Ideally my fitness schedule would include strength training twice a week, yoga 15-30 minutes daily, and 3-4 runs a week with one being at least an hour or more. This week I will run my annual solo 10+ mile turkey trot on Thanksgiving Day. There are no turkey trot races close by so for the last 4 years (maybe more) I’ve been running at least 10 miles on Thanksgiving morning.

It’s 2:30pm on Sunday and I’m still in my pajamas! I haven’t done this in ages. I suppose at some point I should consider going to the grocery store and preparing dinner.


One thought on “Running Ahead

  1. Thanksgiving sounds wonderful, it’s so nice to have new people join in. In my mind, that’s a big part of what the day is about. And it sounds like you’ll have a fun and busy Dec before you leave.

    Re: running, I’ve always thought that even for our relatively mild winters, it’s an awesome time to work on speed. I usually do speed work at a track, so that has the benefit of letting me wear 1 billion layers (or whatever it takes for me to feel warm enough to leave the house), then I can drop and add layers as needed at the track. It’s seriously the only way I can bring myself to run in the cold sometimes. When I’m doing a workout on the streets, I am usually miserably cold for the first couple miles, or miserably hot the last few. The track eliminates all that. Hill repeats would likely be the same. Will you be able to run in Mozambique?

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