Winter running and 2018 goals

It’s April 15th and it still feels like winter here. Today was the inaugural Fort Hill Brewery Half Marathon. Proceeds supported the town high school’s track and field and cross country programs. The weather predictions called for freezing rain and temperatures in the low 30s. Well Mother Nature was on our side. It was cold, but it’s afternoon now and still no rain. The cold I can handle. I was dressed properly and my hands were nice and warm. The wind coming right at us at various points along the course was not very nice, but no complaints because it was not raining.

My running partner, M, and I have been training for this race most of the winter. However, the last 6 weeks or so haven’t produced the best running. She was sick, I was away, I returned and have been feeling really off, and this winter just will not end. We stuck with our training despite some runs that felt downright awful. We maxed out at 10.5 miles and that was by far the most horrible run thanks to unexpected GI issues after I worked an overnight shift at the hospital. M kept me laughing though. We still made it 10.5 of the 11 planned miles that day.

The half marathon went much better than I anticipated. We ran, talked, and enjoyed the course. It was a route we have never run. The race was small and there were virtually no spectators. However, my dear friend Nancy waited at the end of her driveway to cheer for us around mile 5. She even had a sign for me! At the end of the race there was beer and pizza. I’m not a beer drinker and I don’t eat cheese. I sound like a lot of fun, don’t I?! They did have these amazing little energy bars and then, of course, we went for coffee.

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Last weekend, I ran a local 5K with Carlos. It was a benefit for the town’s high school music program. I went outside after I woke up and was slapped in the face with 20 something degrees of coldness. The Tiger Pride Trot 5K started at 9am and at 8:15 I finally decided we should brave the cold and run. I do not love 5Ks because I feel like I have to hold a faster than normal/comfortable pace the entire time.  Self-imposed nonsensical thought process, I know. Carlos ran with his friend and his friend’s dad, also his soccer coach. He’s an awesome guy who really tries to motivate the kids to stay active. I moved ahead of them early on because I knew Carlos was fine with his friend and might actually enjoy the experience a little more without me right there. I was by no means killing myself, but once I warmed up, I felt great. This teenage girl stopped about 3/10ths of a mile before the finish and I passed her. About a 10th of a mile before the finish line I could feel her coming up behind me so I decided to fire it up for a little friendly competition. We crossed the finish line at just about the same time. She did beat me though! I was just thrilled to be back to a sub-30 minute 5K. Seriously the bounce back from the Achilles injury and subsequent 10-15 lb (depending on the day) weight gain over the last few years has really slowed me down. My attitude about it has been very relaxed, but I am finally beginning to contemplate running goals again.

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Carlos crossed the finish line shortly after I did and he was all smiles. It’s the first race he has accomplished by running the entire distance without walking or complaining. I was very proud of him and secretly proud of myself for beating an 11 year old! Of course, I did not gloat. A couple of days later, my friend who also ran the race with her 11 year old and pushing her 4 year old in a stroller, texted to tell me I came in 2nd and she 3rd in our age group. OK that’s not saying much about the speediness of our age group then. My friend would have come in first and smoked the competition if she didn’t have the stroller. I ran with her once a long time ago and literally thought I was going to die after a couple of miles. She is fast! But I still say hot damn! Who the heck would have thought I’d be running 5Ks never mind coming in 2nd in my age group? I am quite proud of that accomplishment.

2018 is shaping up to be an exciting running year. I am registered for my 9th and 10th full marathon. On August 26th, I will run the inaugural New England Green River Marathon, a point to point course from Marlboro, VT to Greenfield, MA. After a few years of throwing my name in the lottery, I was finally selected to run the Marine Corps Marathon. I will run the 43rd MCM on October 28th.

I also signed up to work with a new running coach. My amazing running coach, Laura, suggested I talk with her friend, an accomplished trail runner, who also coaches. Laura thought she might be better equipped to coach me in running the back to back marathons. I was reluctant because Laura is amazing and has really guided me through the last few years. She assured me this was just a nudge to get me out of my comfort zone and try something new.

I started this running thing over 10 years ago as a challenge to myself. As a new mom strapped for time, running seemed the perfect activity for me as I tried to lose weight, become more energetic, and develop the ability to keep up with my already active child. I never imagined where running would take me. As I began to run longer distances, I have often suspected that I am holding myself back from my full potential. I am ready to dig deeper to find out what I am really able to accomplish. I have already accomplished more physically than I ever imagined was possible. I truly never believed this body could run a 10 minute mile or less than that. It seemed ridiculous at one time to think of myself running a mile never mind a marathon. I have proven myself wrong time and time again. So what if I stop saying I can’t for a little while and stop fearing the temporary burning in my lungs and legs? What will happen? I will never know until I try.

I am a bit nervous of this can of worms I opened in my initial conversation with this new coach, but it is part of the reason why I treat myself to the expertise of a coach. It may seem frivolous or ridiculous that I would pay someone to coach me for a marathon. I mean as someone kindly pointed out, I am not going to win the race! Perhaps I will never win a race, but in my opinion I win every time I cross a finish line or even complete a day to day run. Whatever crabby person. It is my gift to myself to work with a coach for both accountability and education. My goal is actually not to win the race, but to race better, run injury free, and improve MY skills.

I will be 45 in August. This is a tough birthday for me. I have never felt time closing in like I do right now. I wasted so much time before I had Carlos being sedentary and living a rather unhealthy lifestyle. I was moody and miserable. I’m none of that anymore, and I think only about embracing each day to make it more awesome than the day before. I want to do all the things, go everywhere, explore, engage with interesting people, learn new skills, try new activities, and live really live! My dream is to live to be a really old age, but with my mind and body intact. I feel like now is the time to start pushing myself again to see what I am capable of doing. I may never be able to qualify for Boston, but that’s not the only running goal I have.

Trail running and racing fascinates me as do ultra marathons. Running a faster 5K would be a huge accomplishment. The word triathlon swirls around my brain sometimes as does duathlon. For many years now, I have talked about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro when I turn 50. I want to be in good shape when I do (and I will). I want to be in the senior olympics in my 90s. I want to mentor senior athletes when I’m 100. Right now I really want to feel fitter and develop some much needed muscle tone and core strength. This just scratches the surface of my goals.

What are your goals, running or other goals?

2018 So Far

Cold winter

It’s cold here in Western Massachusetts. It’s winter, and we expect cold, but it’s been extremely cold. I’m talking too cold to run outdoors. That’s how I determine the force of the cold weather. Now I’m fine going for a run when it’s 18-25 with no wind, 20-30 with a slight breeze, but anything below 18 particularly when it’s windy is just brutal. Friday was crazy warm for this time of year. It was nearly 50 degrees. My friend rallied me to run with her late in the afternoon while it down poured. The rain didn’t bother us because it was so warm out, but we were soaked!! My running partner and I have been keeping a keen eye on our weather app. Yesterday we called off a morning run due to cold and wind. We decided to take a chance and wait to run in the afternoon. It was a good call. The temperature got up to about 28 and there was minimal wind. We snuck in 7 miles for our first long run of half marathon training.

Spinning, Boot Camp, Piyo, Strength, Indoor track

Since I’m not running outdoors so much, it has been a great opportunity to try new fitness classes. My running partner is adventurous and loves trying out new things as well. We participate in a free boot camp every Sunday morning. It is welcome to all, family friendly, and requires no equipment. The woman who runs it, Laura, began a running/fitness/health craze in the area after she took charge of her own health when her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia at a very young age. Years later her daughter is doing well, and Laura continues to inspire many with her commitment to teaching others how to take one small step towards leading a healthier life. A local Cross Fit gym allows her to use the space on Sunday mornings to offer this awesome boot camp to her Run Your Health community. Laura leads us through a fun warm up which often entails a partner activity or group activity. It’s challenging, silly, and sometimes feels embarrassing, but heck we are all doing it. Then we do about 10-15 minutes of ab work. The last 20-25 minutes varies. Often we have a series of 5 exercises, we do 10 reps, run for 30 seconds, then repeat as many times as possible in the 20-25 minutes. Today we did a burpee challenge. Here it is:

Minute 1 – 1 burpee, rest for the remainder of the minute

Minute 2 – 2 burpees, rest

Minute 3 – 3 burpees, rest

You get the point. When you reach your breaking point and cannot possibly do any more burpees in a minute you could switch to 20 air squats and 5 push ups until the end of the boot camp round. I made it to 12 burpees in a row.

On Tuesday mornings at 5:30AM, my running partner and I go to an indoor track at a local high school for a monotonous run around the 10th of a mile loop above the basketball court. We usually squeak out a little over 4 miles in an hour. Sometimes we get dizzy because the loop is so short so we walk a couple of loops! It’s slow going, but we chit chat away and the hour goes by quickly.

Other mornings  during the week we have been going to spinning and strength classes at a local studio not far from my house. I bought a 12 class pass for the month. Our schedule this week:

Monday – 5:45AM Piyo

Tuesday – Indoor Track with possible parking lot loops if not too cold

Wednesday – 6AM spinning; possible 7:30PM boot camp at studio

Thursday – 5:30AM express spin; 6AM express strength and sculpt

Friday – 6AM Turn and Burn (half spin, half strength)

It has been such a fun change for me. I’m still running when I can. Sometimes I go to the gym and do the elliptical and a short treadmill run. I don’t like the treadmill. I still associate it with my Achilles injury so I am a bit reluctant to do it for longer runs. I’m feeling good with this new routine right now.

Yoga with Adriene

It’s January and that means a New Year 30 day yoga challenge with Adriene. I love her and her at home practice that she shares with the world. It’s manageable and beginner friendly. This year is the True – 30 Day Yoga Journey. Do it in 30 consecutive days or do it when it works for you. The classes range from a little under 20 minutes to 40 minutes. They are all different. Don’t care to do the challenge, check out Yoga with Adriene or her You Tube channel for so many different videos. There is a yoga class for every ability and every need.

Books

I’m taking a little break from grad school right now. The timing of the next eight week session runs into my trip to Mozambique. Since I’m not bound to read anything for school, I am elated to be reading for pleasure again.

Two recent reads:

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover – just read it. It’s a quick read, seems like a light breezy romance novel to begin with, but then there is an interesting twist. Great for a cold weekend indoors or a long plane ride.

This is How it Always Is by Laurie Frankel – I just finished this and my mind is blown. I loved the characters. I was touched by the outcome. It was a sweet, somewhat uncomfortable at times, and well-written story. The topic of this book could not be relevant to our society than it is right now. I am reminded of the invaluable advice Atticus imparts onto Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” While we can’t quite go that deep into another’s experience, this story offers the reader an opportunity to see a timely issue through the eyes of those living it even if they are fictitious characters.

Indoor soccer, friends, snow fort, electronics

Winter soccer season is in full swing. My son has been enjoying lots of time with friends during Christmas vacation and on weekends. He’s officially a pre-teen and I’m taking a back seat to his budding social life. He has good friends and he enjoys spending time with them. They are active and play outside more than inside. Carlos and his friend, Tyler, built a killer snow fort in our yard last week. He was so bummed that it only took one slightly warm day and rain to destroy their hard work. Electronics abound in our house, but as we try to find a healthy balance, the rule is weekends only for fun, and laptop during the week for school work. It’s a constant challenge to find the right balance between allowing Carlos the opportunity to learn how to properly use the technology and to remain physically active and attentive to his school work. I’m always open to suggestions or advice. I am the first to admit that this is all new to me and I have no idea what the hell I’m doing. I’m just trying to do my best to keep my child safe and healthy.

Mozambique travel plans

My light at the end of the winter tunnel is an upcoming visit back to Mozambique. My house is nearly complete though devoid of furniture and kitchen appliances. I am hopeful a refrigerator will be installed before I arrive. I do not care about a stove or living room furniture. We do have beds. Most of the time I am outside so indoor furniture is really unnecessary. We will get it at some point, but this home has been a labor of love for Orlando. It has taken many years and extra work to earn the money to build the home. We have taken it one step at a time because there is no mortgage or home loan. This time around the bathrooms are tiled and equipped with a shower, sink, and toilet.

We are planning a family road trip up the coast to Ilha de Moçambique. It will be a first visit for all of us. This tiny island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was used by the Portuguese as a trading post en route to India. Though in disrepair, many of the original architectural structures remain and speak to the integrity of the building materials and quality of workmanship used so long ago.

Other than our road trip, I am really looking forward to visiting with family and friends, reading as much as possible, eating mangos and papaya every day, and taking long leisurely walks through the fields at sunrise.

Preparations for the trip include:

  • obtaining visas for entry to Mozambique – send passports to Mozambican embassy in Washington, D.C.
  • Travel Medicine for vaccines and anti-malarial medication. I am always given a prophylactic prescription for antibiotics just in case we get sick.
  • Carry on: healthy food for the flight, compression socks, herbal tea bags, toiletries, tooth brushes/paste, vitamins, chargers, notebook, pens, iPad with tons of books loaded, etc.
  • Pack Carlos’ Birth certificate in carry on for entry and exit to South Africa
  • Arrange snow plowing service for our time away in case of a storm
  • Put mail on hold
  • Clean the house top to bottom so I come home to a clean home
  • Order Peapod to be delivered the day after we return to save me a trip to the grocery store

 

A unicorn birthday

I am turning another year older and feeling very reflective as I typically do on my birthday. The years are going by more quickly now, or at least they feel as though they are. It’s not my age that bothers me, but the vast amount of experiences I hope to accomplish before I am unable. There is just so much I want to do and the time seems to be closing in around me. I truly want to live life to the fullest every day. I am proud to feel younger today than I did 20 years ago when I was living a rather unhealthy, inactive lifestyle, eating horribly and smoking. I definitely did not embrace life back then. Now I feel as though I am playing catch up in many ways. I could fill pages with my bucket list, but for this post I will discuss only one running dream.

I’ve been hesitant to say this out loud because once I do it will become real. I have a running goal that is so far-fetched it seems absurd at times to even consider it. However, it has become clear to me in the last few years that I am capable of much more than I give myself credit for, and I am without a doubt not working up to my potential. It makes me wonder if I was committed to putting in the hard work might I be able to achieve this seemingly unreachable goal? They don’t call it chasing the unicorn for nothing.

I am a Massachusetts girl. I was born and raised in Western Mass. I have lived here most of my life.  I cheer for the Red Sox, Pats, Bruins, and Celtics. I am a terrible driver.  I say wicked, but without the accent because I’m not from Boston. Even before I became a runner, I would watch the Boston Marathon and cry as the winners crossed the finish line.  Then I would continue watching and crying as I listened to the touching stories of the regular Joe’s running the infamous course. In those days, I had no desire to join them. After running my first marathon, I understood the significance of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Of the many things that make Boston special in the world of running, personally I think qualifying for Boston is the crowning glory for the average runner. Getting into Boston after qualifying is still quite complicated, even impossible for some, but to say I achieved a qualifying time will be vindication enough for my own personal running goals.

And so the chase for the unicorn may begin very soon. I have no plan in place yet. I am very far from a qualifying time. If I wanted to qualify within the next year I would have to run a 3:45 marathon, but if I wait a year until I turn 45 that time goes down to 3:55. I will then have 5 years to achieve that time.

This dream is only known to a few trusted people in my life and has been on a shelf until now. I work hard when I train for a race, but I feel like I hold myself back from really unleashing my true potential. This extends to other areas of my life as well. I can be pushed out of my comfort zone and rise to the challenge, but I have never set really big goals like this one. I read inspirational stories often of people who overcome the most unbelievable circumstances and I think if they can do it why can’t I qualify for Boston.

In 2013, I ran the Montreal Marathon in 4:16:35.  It was a huge PR for me and currently stands as my marathon PR. The next marathon I trained for after Montreal, resulted in injury and months away from running. I am still fighting to get back to the paces I was running that year. If I did it once, I can do it again, and if I could get my time down to 4:16 then why not 3:55? The infinite wisdom of running has taught me that I am more capable than I think I am, and consistent work yields noticeable progress. Regardless of the outcome of my pursuit of a BQ, I am excited to push myself in a very different way while tapping into strength and determination I know exist, but have yet to be uncovered.

Bridge of Flowers 10K 2017

Morning came too quickly. I got up hoping to see a message from my friend, Michelle, informing me she couldn’t run that morning. It wasn’t there. The sun was out, but the air was cool. I knew we would be running. I have run the Bridge of Flowers 10K six times since 2010, missing only 2014 after injuring my Achilles. My heart and body did not feel in it this year. I began the summer killing my training plan. I was feeling amazing. I had a specific pace goal and I was nailing my training runs. Then it fell apart.

The downward spiral began with a dental procedure at the beginning of July. I needed to have skin removed from the roof of my mouth to graft to the gums below my two front bottom teeth. I am no stranger to dental surgery, and I pride myself on being able to tolerate discomfort and pain to a high degree. When my dentist described the aftermath as akin to what it feels like when you burn the roof of your mouth only much worse. Well that was an understatement.  For two weeks, I was unable to eat or drink anything except a well-blended smoothie and tepid water out of a straw while tipping my head to the left side. Even that  caused me to cry. After a week of excruciating pain, I returned to the dentist certain something was terribly wrong. He assured me I was healing well, but was experiencing heightened sensitivity due to the exposed nerve endings.

While this was going on, work issues escalated for the nursing team and we were put under an enormous amount of pressure to clean up messes that we did not create. I was hungry, exhausted, and frustrated. Some personal issues crept into the mix as well. My stomach was empty and tangled with worry. I worked sun up to sun down while trying to be sure my son’s summer vacation was not affected. Running all but stopped. I tried to run a few times, stupidly in the high heat of the day because it was the only time I could go, and inevitably the runs were demoralizing.

I emailed my coach and told her I had to stop.  Something had to give and this time it had to be my training. I didn’t want to stop moving my body. I just wanted to stop the structured training plan. I was walking daily and doing some yoga at home when I could fit it into the day. Instead of being tied to a schedule I began doing whatever I felt like with my own self-imposed goal of moving for at least an hour every day if not more. I took a Barre class, did two OrangeTheory classes while visiting family in Florida, ran without pace goals, walked, rode my bike, and I swam. It was refreshing. My mouth eventually healed. Work is still insane and a bit unhealthy. I don’t want to say too much because the obvious response from people seems to be “if it’s so bad maybe it’s time to find another job.” I can’t argue with that point, but it’s never quite that black and white. Personal matters ebb and flow, but through the teachings of Sharon Salzberg, meditation and self-reflection, I continue to grow, accept responsibility for my own short comings, and in the end I will emerge a stronger, better, and happier person. I know things will be ok, but my patience and ability to give space to the issues is being tested. Historically, I am not a patient person. I like quick resolve, but that will not help things this time. Deep breaths!

My training fell apart for Bridge of Flowers. In the week leading up to the race I had the most horrendous work week of the summer. My hormones were also wreaking havoc as I retained water and felt like my body had become as wide as the Goodyear Blimp. I was in absolutely no mood to conquer Crittendon Hill this year. My friend, Michelle, texted a few days before to make a plan for race day. I knew I would run the race, but I wouldn’t like it! Race day came and surprisingly I woke up feeling better than I had in previous days. I did all my pre-race rituals. The weather outside was perfect. I was relieved that we would not have to deal with the stifling heat and humidity we experienced at last year’s race.

We arrived in Shelburne Falls with 45 minutes to spare, but the road to the parking area was already closed for the short 3K race. We waited in a line of vehicles for the road to reopen.  People were getting antsy, but I felt calm. Even if the race started without us, and I knew it wouldn’t, we would be joined by everyone in the car line. We eventually parked, picked up our bibs, and used the bathrooms before walking about 5 minutes to the starting area. As we left the packet pick up area, I heard a volunteer signal to someone on her walky talky to hold the start 10 minutes.

We took our time to the start on the Iron Bridge.

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As soon as we settled into middle of the pack, the national anthem began, the gun sounded and we were off. I knew instantly that I would run the race with my heart and soul. This is my race. I know this course better than any other. I know the tangents. I know the hills. I know where I can let it all out and I know when to hold back. The old familiar feelings welled up inside and I knew I made the right choice to run.

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Bridge of Flowers is my current 10K PR though it is a pre-Achilles injury feat. I am far from running that kind of pace right now. I wanted to run it in under an hour and my A goal was to beat my 2015 time in an attempt to begin working towards getting back to that 10K PR pace and beyond. I ran hard and pushed pace more than I thought I would be able to, but it wasn’t enough to meet either goal. I finished in 1:00:23. I finished the last mile with gusto. My feet were on fire. I was neck and neck with another woman, and I made a private competition out of it, pushing myself above and beyond my comfort zone in the last half mile. I pulled ahead of her so far she couldn’t catch me. It was exhilarating. This was all in my head obviously, but it made for a fun and fast finish for me. As I rounded the corner back onto the Iron Bridge my feet felt as though they were lifted off the ground. I was beaming. The bridge is always lined with spectators cheering wildly. It’s my favorite part of the entire race. I paused my headphones so I could hear my name being announced as I crossed the finish line. I get a charge out of it every year.

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I’m not disappointed with my time or my performance. Running is not just a passing phase in my life. It’s a part of my life and has been for many years now. I love running. It brings me peace and clarity.  I also love training for races. I enjoy the challenges running goals create. However, one crucial thing I learned after being injured a few years ago is that when my body or mind signal that I need a break it’s imperative I listen. I have come to trust that taking a break from running does not mean it’s the end. When I am ready to return, I do it gently and from a place of love. I don’t watch my pace or the minutes I’m out running. I simply run.

This won’t be my last Bridge of Flowers. It is my race. The course may be the same each year, but it challenges me in a different way every single time. It frustrates me sometimes. It makes me smile too. It takes me out of my comfort zone. No matter what my time is at the end, I have always run my best race and each finish makes me proud. Until next year!

El Clásico Miami

We have kept a huge secret from my son since April and this weekend it was finally revealed. Carlos is a soccer player, FC Barcelona fan and soccer trivia buff. His favorite player is Leonel Messi from Argentina. Carlos wears soccer jerseys most days. He plays soccer fall, winter and spring. This summer he and his friends have taken any opportunity to practice together. Xbox game of choice is FIFA.

Soccer has also been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. I played briefly as a child, but my sister made it all the way to her college team until a knee injury took her out. I lived in Mexico and Mozambique where soccer is undoubtedly a national pastime like baseball is to the US. My husband is an avid soccer fan. I’ve gone to many games over the years and watched a number of them on television as well.

I have always enjoyed soccer, but as I’ve watched my son develop a natural love of the sport it enthuses me all the more. Carlos has played since he was four years old. He enjoyed playing with other children and just loved running around. Carlos undoubtedly loved the social aspect of soccer more than anything until about two years ago when he became very serious about it. However, he continues to play for a local travel team, not a competitive team. There are no try outs required. His coach is committed to sportsmanship, team building, and communication. It’s a really good group of boys. The team has struggled though. They are no strangers to losing, but they have learned to lose gracefully.

My sister called me from her home in Florida this April. She was so excited she could barely speak. She had just secured tickets to the final game in the International Champions Cup featuring Carlos’ favorite team FC Barcelona and my sister’s favorite team Real Madrid. My sister studied abroad in Madrid during college and has returned a number of times on vacation. My sister and Carlos share a very special bond. My sister has no children and Carlos is her only nephew. Carlos was also born on her birthday, a complete surprise to all of us. My sister now loves to surprise Carlos. For months the entire family has been in on this secret.

I did have to tell Carlos we were coming to Florida because he really wanted to attend a soccer camp with some of his teammates last week and I had initially told him he could probably go. He was a little disappointed to find out he wouldn’t be going to camp, but he always loves spending time with my sister so it was a fleeting disappointment. He eventually got wind of the International Champions Cup schedule. He never actually considered that he would be able to go to the game in Miami even though he knew we would be down here because I told him the game was sold out and we would be watching it on television with my sister, brother-in-law, his cousin and family, and my dad. Carlos was just excited to be close to the action.

The International Champions Cup culminated last week with four days of El Clásico events in Miami. As if seeing the game weren’t enough, a couple of days before heading to Florida we found out we could go to the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami to watch the teams practice the night before the big game. It was a really fun event. There were tons of kids. Carlos still didn’t know he would be going to the game so he was absolutely thrilled to be this close to his favorite soccer team and player. I loved watching all of the joy in the faces of the children there especially my own.

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My sister finally spilled the beans shortly before it was time to leave for the game. She presented Carlos with two new Barcelona jerseys and asked him which one he would rather wear to the game. It took him a minute to understand what was happening. He was stunned! Then he started jumping up and down.

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The night was incredible. We hit virtually no traffic on our way to the stadium. The storm from earlier in the day had subsided. The energy inside the stadium was positively electric. Soccer fans are passionate! The game started with a bang. FC Barcelona scored two goals in less than 7 minutes. Carlos went wild!

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Real Madrid scored a goal before the end of the first half. Barcelona fans weren’t too worried though.

Halftime was a treat for me. Marc Anthony played a short halftime set. I absolutely love salsa music!

FC Barcelona scored the only goal in the second half and it led to a stunning win not only for that game, but the entire tournament. I was thrilled for Carlos. It was the perfect end to a terrific night.

I have really enjoyed this trip. However, I did not do much running due to the heat and humidity. Even at 5am the air was uncomfortably thick. Instead of running I took this opportunity to change up my workouts. I experienced Orangetheory Fitness for the first time and I loved it so much I took another class. I really wish we had one closer to home. I took a long leisurely walk through nearby Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and on the beach. I also swam almost every day. It felt amazing to be back in the water. I have always been a strong swimmer, but I do not do it nearly as often as I should. I was reminded of how important it is to get outside of my comfort zone once in a while. Running is great and I love it, but my body needs a little jolt of change once in a while.

I have a few hours to sleep before it’s time to get up and get ready to go back home.

 

Finding balance

I have half a dozen unfinished posts. I’m days behind in paperwork for my job. I have taken a hiatus from grad school already and I have only completed three courses. I have no marathons on the calendar for the rest of 2017. I haven’t had my eyebrows threaded in too many weeks. My pedi is almost overdue but hanging in there. My house could use a scrubbing. And the list goes on…

I certainly haven’t been relaxing on a gorgeous beach letting my life fall to pieces. It’s my job. It’s sucking the life out of me. No details needed. They would bore you and frankly they don’t matter. I’m an employee through and through. I do what I’m told even when it’s simply too much for one person. I learned a valuable lesson years ago when I complained about a situation at work. I was scolded and told that if I was going to complain I better have some solutions to improve the situation. 

I don’t have any suggestions on how to make this situation better or more manageable right now. I’m not alone in how I feel. I know my colleagues are feeling the burn too. We work independently and rarely come in contact with each other. Venting via work email is not a good idea because we are positive big brother is watching. 

I listen to podcasts when I’m in the car or while I’m doing mundane paperwork. I love how many of these people advocate for others to leave a job that isn’t fulfilling or meaningful and follow their dreams. They never mention practical things like financial aspects of up and quitting your job to start a smoothie stand on a touristy beach in Mozambique (I beg Orlando everyday to let me try. I’m bringing my Vitamix next time we go!)

So how do they do it? Do people not care about having money to retire? Or for those with children are they not concerned about giving them life experiences which often cost a little bit of money? How about health insurance? Interestingly I work for a health insurance company and my husband’s package is much better than mine so we use his insurance. Do these people not pay car insurance, excise taxes, utility bills? They all have social media so they must have to pay for at the very least a smart phone. Those are not cheap. Do they eat or do they all grow their own food? I have so many questions none of which are ever answered in the podcasts or in blogs. 

The truth is, I’m not really sure what my dream job is, but I know for sure it’s not what I’m doing now. I’m a nurse case manager for a senior care plan for a large national health insurance company. Basically I help low income elderly obtain healthcare services so they can stay at home as long as possible. I love visiting with them, but that is the smallest part of my job. The majority of the time I am dealing with mountains of documentation and tending to compliance issues. There seems to be a new issue daily. It’s mind numbing and frustrating, but… and this is why I can’t just quit, I work from home, the job is flexible, the other benefits are decent, I get a fair amount of vacation time (though I tend to do paperwork because it’s portable), and I don’t have to worry about finding to watch my son on snow days or if he gets sick. 

In all honesty I’m not brace enough to quit. I’ve worked since I was 15. I am a hard worker. I’m very dedicated even if I don’t like my job. When I worked full time at the hospital I only called out sick three times. Once was when I broke my ribs. I took two days off for the broken ribs. My co-worker broke her toe and was out for a month! I am not advocating this work ethic because you don’t win any awards for it. If you’re not feeling great physically or even mentally and you have sick time take a day off to decompress and revive your soul. It’s right to take care of yourself. I am not great at practicing everything I preach. 

The Slow Road from Monterey to San Francisco

It was so nice to run a marathon and have time to relax after before heading home. We planned to spend the week in San Francisco. The day after the race we took our time driving up the coast from Monterey. We stopped along the way to explore the beautiful beaches. Carlos braved the cold ocean at every stop. The weather was gorgeous. It was sunny, a little breezy and very warm. Below are some photos from our pit stops.

Natural Bridges State Beach
Natural Bridges State Beach


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The colors were amazing in person. We pulled over and just stopped to watch.

 


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My photos do not do the landscape justice. Northern California has a special place in my heart now. I am so grateful that we had the opportunity to explore it. I may not return anytime soon, but I know it is a place I would love to see again. There is so much more to do and see. There is a half marathon through wine country from Napa to Sonoma that is definitely calling my name.