1000 Miles for 2014: December

I DID IT! Today I completed my 1000 mile challenge and with 15 days to spare. It was an exciting and sometimes challenging  task, but I am so glad that I stuck with it and got all those miles in. You’ll see me listed in the #4 spot.

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I ran a total of 1001 miles to date in a total time of 132 hours, 1 minute, and 45 seconds. That’s an average of 7:55 per mile for the entire year! Whoo hoo!
While it would be fun to up the mileage for next year’s challenge,  I will hold off until New Year’s Eve to make that decision.
Happy Running!

Turning Down the Dream

I am currently a stay-at-home, non-income-earning mom and I have been for nearly four years now.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it.  There were lots of reasons why I quit my “part time” job to stay home with the kids, and there have been lots of reasons why I’ve played with the idea of going back to work several times since quitting.  The biggest reason, in all areas, has been boredom.  I was bored at my job.  Financial aid at a cosmetology school was just something I never really wanted in life, so the stresses of it just stressed me out more than it should have.  And, I’ve been incredibly bored at home; washing the same loads of laundry and wiping the same snotty noses day in and day out.  My personal dreams have yet to materialize because life just keeps happening.  Sometimes I get mad at myself over it.  Sometimes I get depressed about it.  I know I made a series of choices that have lead me to where I am now, and sometimes I am dissatisfied with that.  I know I SHOULD have taken that internship when I was in college.  I SHOULD have kept in contact with a whole bunch of folks that could have helped move me along.  I SHOULD have sought jobs in the field I wanted instead of just taking the first paying gig that came along.  I SHOULD have had more confidence in doing what I loved.

While all the shoulda-woulda-couldas get me down at times, I am well aware of the fact that I can still do all of those things.  I simply have to take the imitative and put in the effort.  Most days I am willing to do that.  I know I am not so far gone that I can’t make my dreams come true…eventually.  And I know I would not have the family I have now if I had done things differently.

Not working has been good for me for the most part.  I do love being able to home-school my kids and maintain my household.  I’m less frazzled and less depressed than I was back when I was trying to do it all.  And, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to pull it off on one income…sort of.  While Hubs does make a pretty decent living, we have been battling back our debt from our younger (and stupider) days, relaying on our credit cards a little more than we’d like, and having to suck it up and pay for two vehicles at the same time (not fun).  Things aren’t dire just yet, but a second income would certainly help.  I decided rather half-heartedly to put some feelers out to see what was available for work and signed back into CareerBuilder with a revised resume.

Of course there were a lot of spammy Emails that flooded my Inbox with positions that I would never accept or were down right pyramid schemes.  But, within a week I had landed an interview for The Perfect Job.  It was for an assistant producer position at a publishing company.  Despite not having worked in publishing, I still fit the criteria, which was why I went ahead and applied.  I was flabbergasted when they called me to set up a meeting, and I was nervous in the days leading up to it.  All of those should haves kept plaguing my thoughts and squashing any self esteem that I had.  But, I’m a decent enough actor and sailed through the interview with all sorts of faux confidence.  I left the place feeling great about the interview, about the job, the company, my potential employer…I knew I would get the job, and that was why I cried on the way home.

My dream job was an hour’s drive through mostly New England back roads from my house.  That would mean committing two hours (or more depending on traffic and weather) a day, giving me at least a ten and a half hour day.  That would leave a time crunch for things like dinner, kids’ homework, chores, etc.  But I knew it could be done.  With planning and a crock pot, with my husband’s somewhat flexible hours, with (hopefully) the help of childcare it could all be covered and I’d have income to contribute AND I’d finally be working in the field I’d always wanted.  It could be done. I could have it all; the career, the family, the house…

The day after my stunning interview I went for a walk through the woods with my two year old daughter. I kept thinking about how I’d miss not being able to spend this time with her and what that might mean.  Sure, she would adjust to daycare just fine and grow up being no worse off —  or would she?  Someone else would be there to help her discover the joy of the world while I was busy plugging away at a desk.  I nearly cried for the loss of my toddler and I hadn’t even missed a thing yet!  I felt so conflicted; it was important for my daughter to see her mother be successful, productive, and happy, but it was also important for me to be there for her and to help her grow.  Would I be able to find that special balance?  I felt like I was at a junction and didn’t know which way to turn.  I wanted both things, the stay-at-home-mom life that was going so well and the new adventures of being a publisher.  I wanted things to change, I wanted to talk to adults, to make a difference and do something special.  I also wanted to stay the same, keep the routine, and be safe.  Some moments I feared not getting the job, other moments I feared getting hired.

Then came the issue of childcare.  My oldest, a Kindergartener, is in school for a full day, but my middle child, a Pre-schooler, has only a half day from noon to three and there isn’t a bus service available for him.  My oldest takes the bus to school in the mornings and they are both picked up at the same time in the afternoons.  If I needed childcare, then my middle son would have to drop out of Pre-school since there wouldn’t be a way for him to get to and from the school.  In our area, this meant that daycare would cost $110 per day for the three of them, more for the days that my oldest wouldn’t be in school like holidays or summers.  Late pick-up fees would also have to be added on at $10 per child per hour after 5pm.  There wouldn’t be a way for either Hubs or myself to get back before then, so it would be, at best $140 if we didn’t get hit with traffic or any reason to be kept at the office past 5.  The cost would sky rocket during summer vacation.

I quickly realized that between taxes, gas for the commute, and childcare, the paycheck from my dream job would be depleted before I even got to buy a latte.  I would be working to work, and possibly not break even.  It just wasn’t going to pay for me to go back to work, even if it was for a job I really, desperately wanted.

I was still conflicted about what I wanted.  I still wanted to find a way to make it work so I could take the job.  I really wanted that position with that company and I wanted to work for that woman.  I wanted to do it.  But I also wanted to be home with my children, especially my small daughter.  I wanted to wash their clothes every day and make their dinner every night.  I wanted to fight with them over showers and clean up and struggle to make everything fair.  I couldn’t decide which one I wanted more and I was heart broken when something as dumb as money went and made the decision for me.  Perhaps if it were closer, or paid more, or it was another time it could all fall into place, but not now.  It hurt to turn down my dream job.

I knew not taking the job would cut off potential contacts.  It would put even more of a gap in my work history and further me even more from the industry I was trying to break into.  I could sacrifice a lot and take the job to better my future prospects, but leaving my kids in the lurch seemed selfish.  I know I did the right thing by staying home and possibly looking for something part time around town, I know I can still write and publish in the future.  But doing the right thing doesn’t always take away the sting of walking away from something before you even got a chance to try.  I didn’t reach for the golden ring because it’s not my time yet and there will be more opportunities, I just have to be patient.  I’m trying to not be bitter about it because I know I will get another chance, but for this week, and until those bills are caught up, it’s going to be hard.

1000 Miles for 2014: November

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979.8 miles!! I’m so close to my 1000 mile goal! I completed 96.4 miles in the month of November,  pulling me up so I’m a mere 20 miles from the finish.  Woo! This just may be the only New Year’s Resolution that I’ve ever actually stuck with.  There’s a first for everything,  isnt there?

1000 Miles for 2014: September, October, and a last minute half

I accidentally skipped September’s post, but I am proud to say that I logged 108.0 miles that month,  pulling me well away from the pace bunny.  October has been a little more difficult in getting runs in because my husband is in fire school which is every other weekend. He leaves at 6am and gets back around 6pm. And it’s been getting darker, causing me to skip runs in favor of safety. Still, I did manage to pull out 90.9 miles for the month of October.

I also learned about a local half marathon that was held on the Airline Trail about three weeks ago. I decided at the last minute to do it.  I was a little nervous about not actually training or preparing for it, and the fact that I could only pull off long runs every other week, I still went for it.  I calmed my nerves by trying to tell myself that it was an up tempo long run that I would be doing anyway…I would just be doing it with other people. As much as my competitive side wanted to win, I knew that having never raced a half marathon before would be difficult.  I decided that my goal time would be an hour forty,  with an ideal time of an hour thirty. My strategy was to go fairly easy for the first ten (around 7:30 mile pace) and kick out the last three.  The course was advertised as being flat and fast since the trail was an old rail road bed.  Should be easy, right?

Weeelll…..I started out comfortably near the back of the front pack. I was a little boxed in, but felt fine. I blistered through the first mile marker at 6:30.  Oops. I tried to slow down. The second marker came and went at 12:38.  Agk! I got through the five mile mark at exactly 35:00.  I still felt fine, and it was flat, so I we t with it. But just has the sixth mile marker came up I lost my footing on a rock and yanked my left hamstring.  I felt it all the way up into my back.  Then at mile seven the hill started.  It was a hill that took me all the way up to the finish line! So much for flat and fast!  Despite my soreness and fatigue, I was able to pull out a moderate kick and finish strong.

I am still waiting for official results to be posted online but I came through with a 1:35:47! Not too bad for my first time. I believe I finished 28th over all, and as the 5th female. I was 3rd inthe female submasters group and got a nifty wooden train whistle as my trophy. 

RACE RESULTS
Overall, I finished 28th out of 256.
I was the 5th female out of 130.
In the 30-39 age group, I finished 3rd out of 39.

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I do have to say that the race management was amazing! The towns of Hebron, Colchester, and East Haddam were fantastic. All along the trail, at every street crossing, there was police presence,  flashing lights, stop signs, yellow vests…everything to keep the runners safe.  There were also a ton of spectators that I wasn’t anticipating.  Whistles and bells, hand made signs, water stations….it was very encouraging.  There was a great post race party going on a thte finish line as well.  The finish line was at the East Haddam elementary school, so the kids got to play with my dad while I ran. The  when I crossed the line, we went to the big tent where they had a DJ, snacks & Gatorade, and hot dogs & chilly for all!  I even got a wicked cool day glow long sleeve (IN A SIZE SMALL!).  It really doesn’t get any better than that.

All in all the race was a great experience and I’m excited to come back next year to do better.
I’m also excited to be so close to the end of my 1000 mile goal! I’m currently at 896.6 miles with two months to go.
Keep on running, friends!

A Mother’s Curse

We have all been cursed by our mothers.  You know the one, when, as a child we’ve tested the edge of her patience and she’s blurted out angrily how someday we’d end up having children just like ourselves.  And then we would roll our eyes at her (because we were never having children, duh!) and maybe utter a half apology.  Some of us grow up to indeed have kids just like ourselves; bratty, emotional, stubborn, or tantrum prone.  But some of us grow up not to necessarily be cursed by the kid, so much as a thing.  For me, it is the curse of a spare plate that has been handed down.

It was the late 1950s and my grandmother had a set of sunny yellow melamine dishes.  She also had a single blue plate.  It was an ugly blue plate and no one knew where exactly it had come from.  But, grandmother also had five daughters, which meant that her setting for six in yellow wasn’t enough to set the table with.  Every evening someone had to use the awful blue plate.  Which ever sister set the table that night would place it in front of the chair of the girl she had the most beef with at the moment.  Then of course arguements would ensue.  No one wanted the hideous blue plate and night after night, my poor grandmother had to listen to the squawking and wailing of her daughters fighting over it.  One day she was able to replace the blue plate. I’m not sure if she was able to get another setting of yellow dishes or what, but I’m sure whatever she paid was worth the peace at meal times.  The blue plate was slipped into the trash can, never to be fought over again.

When I was a child, around 8 or 9 years old maybe, my mother had a set of Corelle dishes.  They were cream coloured with a sage green ribbon that ran around the edge.   They were strong and practical.  She also had a few odd pieces from an older set that we no longer used, including one stonewear plate. It was white with a scalloped edge.  The three of us kids called it the Up And Down Plate.  It was a special plate.  It was a coveted plate.  We fought like cats and dogs over this plate. We whined about how unfair it was or pleaded that it our turn to use it.  Which ever one of us that got to set the table would always place it by our own chair, only to be stolen, swapped out, and reset at some other kid’s chair.  It was downright torturous to watch a grimey little brother eating off of it.  That up and down plate drove my parents bonkers, too.  No matter what they said or how vehemently they threatened,  we wouldn’t stop fighting over the dumb plate.  One day my parents finally snapped.  It was the sudden crash that brought my brother and I downstairs.   Then it was the eerie,  gleeful cackle from my mother that made us stop.  My father had smashed the plate in the middle of the kitchen floor.  I’m pretty sure he had done it on purpose because my mother was jumping up and down on the pieces. After they swept it up, the special, beautiful up and down plate was never spoken of again.

My husband and I bought our dishes from Ikea.  We got a nifty set of charcoal grey ones that looked cool and hip on our high top table with the white table cloth and red napkins.  But, as a plate broke here and a bowl smashed there, not to mention going from one kid to three, we had to go back for more dishes.  Unfortunately, Ikea has stopped carrying our particular charcoal grey dishes, so we got a set of standard white.  They are plain and practicle and actually look really awesome when mixed and matched with the grey ones.  Except, now we are down to three small plates.  Those are the ones the kids use for dinner, and one of them has a chip in it.  It is called The Broken Plate.  My children love the broken plate!  They race to be the first one to request it and sulk if they don’t get it.  Every single meal time is a fighting-pleading-whine-fest over someone else having the plate and at least one kid declaring a hunger strike over it.  Last night my oldest got the plate and my middle child began that painful high pitched scream that makes you sure your ears are bleeding.  I asked him very nicely to quiet down.  I explained that it was just a plate and his fish would still taste just as good.  I begged my eldest to give it up, however the mere suggestion nearly caused a tantrum.  I demanded my son to stop screaming.  At this point all three of my children were crying and no one was eating.  I lived with the ear piercing noise for eight and a half minutes before I calmly slid my son’s food onto a plastic plate that was stashed in the back of the cupboard.  Without a word, I stepped into the middle of the dining room and let the chipped plate drop.  Ah, what a satisfying sound!  The smash was liberating and the immediate silence from my stunned children that followed was delightful. The rest of the meal was eaten in peace.  And during tonight’s dinner, which was served on all white plates, no one felt the need to mention it.

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So, how bad will my kids have it when they become parents?  Will the curse of the plate continue for them?  A part of me really hopes so.

Delete the Facebook App

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Two weeks ago I deleted the Facebook app from my phone. There were several reasons for it, #1 being my phone just flat out wasn’t working properly, #2 being Facebook was addictive and dangerous.

For the past several months something was terribly wrong with my smartphone. I could almost never send or receive calls or texts, but voicemails would come in just fine. Even though I would have full bars indicating a decent reception, I would continually get “out of network” errors. I also noticed that my phone kept trying to wake itself up.  It would be sitting on the kitchen counter while I’d be doing other things and I would see the screen light up and try to unlock itself. Sometimes when I would attempt to unlock my phone I would be forced to wait because it had already had 10 incorrect attempts to open the screen. Contacting T-Mobile didn’t help either; they suggested I upgrade my device since my warrenty was up. Sorry, not doing that! When my phone’s memory was used up because of my picture taking addiction, I had to clear out some space. After emptying out my gallery, I then looked into apps that were taking up space but didn’t really need. Since I don’t have games,  Facebook was the only one left.

I thought about the time I spent on Facebook and how desperate I was for time. Even though I tried making “black outs”, periods where Facebook was off limits like meal times or while the kids were awake, it was still so tempting to check it. I checked it constantly. I found myself getting annoyed at the kids for interrupting me while reading “just this one article”. I kept catching myself thinking of how I’d caption a particular photo, even if I didn’t even take the picture. I was always coming up with witty status updates, or even wishing something would happen so I could update about it. I wasn’t exactly glued to my phone, but I knew it wouldn’t be long until I was. I had to break the addiction before it got worse.

Aside from the ridiculous amount of time spent on the app, I was also concerned with safety. There was a big hullabaloo over the Facebook Messenger app and I could only assume the same questionable security issues were a part of the regular Facebook app. I had already downloaded and removed the messenger app before everyone made a big stink about it simply because I hated the constant pinging updates from people sending me messages. I simply didn’t have time to text-chat all day, and found it annoying.

I went back into Google Play to redownload the app to check out what permissions Facebook actually asked for, and sure enough, they request access to everything. 
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However, if you check out their terms of service, they require you to agree to protect other user’s security, identities, and information yet they don’t even do that themselves. They also request you to agree to not use your timeline for financial gain (authors, you can’t self promote, and moms you can’t peddle your Avon stuff) yet they surely gain financially by feeding you advertisements based on your profile and browser search history. You also have to agree to use your real, legal name and to keep your contact info accurate and up-to-date.  Why?! I just can’t agree to this kind of a relationship.

Now, I didn’t completely ditch Facebook. I was using my account through the web browser, but I can no longer upload pictures, so I’ve added the app to my tablet, yet log out when not in use. Sure, it’s a pain in the butt, but the inconvenience of it helps to keep me off of it. Also, my phone began working properly almost instantly after the app was removed. Calls come in like they should, the network is always accessible, and the camera no longer spontaneously turns on. Coincidence?  Perhaps. I’ll keep an eye on my tablet to see if anything strange starts happening there. If it does, I’ll probably delete my account altogether.

1000 Miles for 2014: August (and a win!)

Ok, I’m two days late, but I’ve got good news: I’m ahead again!  I finished up the month of August feeling really good with 116.4 miles.  That means that after my trail run on Sunday morning I was at a total of 684.6 miles out of the 663.9  Eat my dust Pace Bunny!

I also had a 10K race earlier in the month.  I was super excited to participate in the Hop River Run here in Andover, CT. At first I was a little nervous because I hadn’t been training at all and was afraid that I would either a) take it a little too easy and end up disappointed in my finish or b) take it too hard and end up hurting myself.  There was an option of a 5K, which was run last year and the previous year’s results looked like I’d do well, or a 10K which would be a first time race. I had a hard time deciding; do I opt for the shorter but faster race or the longer but slower race?  In the end I went for the 10K and I’m glad I did!  I easily set out with the lead pack and before the second mile had pulled away from the crowd.  Two men were ahead of me in sight until the turn around.  I remained in third place, running all alone, until the finish.  I held a solid pace the entire way.  I finished third over all and first for the women.  I was about 30 or so seconds ahead of 4th place and about a minute to a minute and a half ahead of the second female.  My time was 44:26.  Not great, but a solid run and not bad for a first time event.  It certainly boosted my ego and reignited that fire to get me out the door and running.  I needed that more than anything. I also won a nifty running cap with LED lights in the brim in lieu of a trophy.  Super cool.

It’s been hot, it’s been humid, but I’m going to push on through the rest of this year and complete my goal.  Only 4 more months to go!