Monday, February 16, 2015

Things and Stuff

This year has started out great! I just have to keep moving in the same direction for the next 10 months. That's doable. Right? Right?!?

I've been taking the occasional day off, which has been fantastic and amazing and I don't know why I didn't try this sooner. I'm just generally happier when I get a day off from work now and then to rest and recharge. I'm not exhausted all the time, and I'm not staying up all night trying to get basic chores like laundry finished. March is going to be terrible when it comes to getting days off - we are going to be both short staffed and busier than usual at work in March, so I'll be back to working seven days a week. I have an agreement with my jobs, however, that I'll be able to start getting a day off again once April rolls around. I just keep reminding myself that although March will be exhausting, I'll be making good money.

In other news, I'm still digging this whole yoga thing. I'm not afraid of it anymore, and I'm even considering giving some other activities a try. If I can summon up the courage to go to yoga class by myself, then why not try spinning or take a dance class?

In addition to physical activity, I've been trying new foods and recipes (mushroom and spinach empanadas = delicious) and getting back to healthy eating. I had fallen into a black hole filled with junk food, but by focusing on real food and preparing my own meals and snacks, I've managed to climb out of that hole. I've finally kicked my soda habit, I have more energy, my skin is better (not great, but better), and I've lost six pounds since the start of the year.

I also have a lot on the horizon when it comes to running, and all of it terrifies me. But it is the good kind of terrified. The kind of terrified where the terror is mixed with equal parts excitement and anticipation. I have a bunch of races on my schedule, which helps keep me motivated. Here are some of the highlights:

  • I'll be running the Shamrock Shuffle this year. I'm not sure what to expect. This will be the biggest race I've ever run. I mean, come one, 40,000 people is nothing to sneeze at. That's a lot of people in one place, so I'm preparing for the inevitable panic attack that will hit as everyone converges on the corrals.  
  • I'll be running the Soldier Field 10 Mile and training for the race with Chicago Endurance Sports. It isn't cheap, but I was able to save enough money to sign up for the race AND the training program. I like that the training program will force me to stick to a regular schedule, and I think it will also be a good way for me to meet other runners. It will also get me back outside. I've been spending too much time inside the gym, and I tend to get a little too lazy at the gym by choosing the elliptical over the treadmill and going slower than I should.
  • I'm running the PAWS Run for Their Lives 8k again this summer to help raise money for PAWS Chicago. I adopted Hannah from PAWS, and I'll always be thankful that they brought us together. I believe that Hannah saved me more than I saved her, so I'm happy to help raise money for the organization initially saved her life. If you are able to donate, then please do so. Any amount, even $5, helps homeless pets in Chicago. My fundraising page can be found here.
  • I'll be running the Chicago Half Marathon in the fall. I have never run that far at one time before, but I know that I'll be able to do it with the right training. I'm not really thinking too hard about the race or training just yet (beyond the excitement to committing to a new distance) because I need to take things slowly and focus on one race at a time.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Half Marathon Excitement

I'll keep this short! I signed up for a half marathon today! YIPPEE!

I'll be running the Chicago Half Marathon on September 27.

I'm excited and terrified.

Maybe I'll Like This Yoga Thing

Tuesday night's yoga class was good. In fact, it was exactly what I was looking for.

We had a brief introduction where the teacher introduced herself and went over what we could expect in class. She asked the group a few questions to get to know everyone's previous experience with yoga. This was the absolute first ever yoga class for the vast majority of the class. There are a couple of folks who had taken one or two classes in the past with mixed results (including myself). There was also one person who just wanted to brush up on fundamentals and use the class as a way to get back into yoga.

We spent the remainder of class going through a handful of basic poses, with the teacher taking her time to make sure that everyone understood not just how to do the pose correctly, but also how different poses worked different parts of the body. She offered tips and variations and welcomed questions. In fact, what I appreciated most about the class was the emphasis to listen to your own body, going at your own pace, and making adjustments if needed. She offered variations on some of the poses and made a point that it was our choice which variation we chose. There was no right or wrong, and everyone's poses would not look the same, and that was okay.

Yoga doesn't seem so scary anymore. In fact, I think I might like it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Yoga 101

Tonight is my first yoga class. I've signed up for Yoga 101 (a four class workshop for beginners) at Bloom Yoga Studio. Yeah....I'm a nervous wreck.

(Image Source)
With running, I generally know what to expect. And if I don't know, then I've found that the friendly faces at my neighborhood running store are usually happy to answer my questions and provide me with information. Yoga, on the other hand, has remained a mystery to me.

I've tried yoga a couple of times, but I always felt as though I out of place or in over my head. I've walked into one of the "All Levels" yoga classes at the gym on several occasions (they claim these are great for beginners), only to discover that I'm the only beginner in the class and everyone else is an advanced student who has been doing yoga for years.

I keep hearing about how important cross training is, so I figured I might as well try to find some activities other than running that I enjoy. And one of my goals for 2015 was to try new things. Why not try yoga? I've always wanted to give it a real chance, and now seems as good a never as ever. If I hate it, then at least I'll know I hate it and won't feel the need to try it anymore. And if I love it, then I have another activity to enjoy. Maybe next month I'll give spinning a try. Or learn how to swim. There are so many things I could try! But first, I have to make it through Yoga 101.

I bought a yoga mat. I don't own any "yoga clothes", but I figure my regular running tights and shirts should work just fine.

I bought this one because I liked the green color.
Oh, and I had a gift card a friend sent me, so it was pretty much free, which is always nice. (Image Source

I just keep reminding myself that this is a class for beginners, so I'm not supposed to know how to do everything. Trying new things can be scary, but it is good to go outside your comfort zone from time to time.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy February!

Well, February started out with a bang! And by bang, I mean blizzard. Yeah...I used yesterday as a rest day and stayed inside as much as was possible. I only ventured out to walk to and from the train when I had to leave for work and then again when it was time to go home after work. And I'll be running on the treadmill at the gym tonight instead of attempting to run through the snow and the slush. I'm really thankful that I can afford my gym membership and have a warm, slush free place to work out when I can't or don't want to be outside.

This is what my commute to and from work looked liked yesterday.
But February is still an exciting month, even if it did start out cold and snowy and generally a pain in the ass. I'm still working on my goals for 2015 and am specifically working on taking days off and trying new things this month.

Starting this month, I'll have one day off from work each week. That's right! No more working seven days a week, every week! I'm also continuing to try new things. I really enjoyed trying a new recipe every week in January, so I'll be keeping that up in February (if you have a favorite recipe, then let me know).

And on the fitness front, I'm going to give yoga a try. I've signed up for a beginner yoga class that will meet once a week for four weeks. I've tried yoga a handful of times, but even the "All Levels" yoga classes my gym offers have proven to be too advanced (I just couldn't keep up and didn't know the names of the various poses and just felt out of place), even though they claim that these classes are great for beginners. Luckily, most yoga studios offer some sort of introductory or beginner class, so it was easy to find a studio near my apartment that had a reasonably priced class specifically for beginners like me.