Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Appreciating the Season

The way I feel this holiday season likely isn't drastically different than I've felt in the past, but the older I get, the more I notice myself appreciating the season. You know, that special feeling you have just walking around doing errands, feeling the brisk air on your face, planning meals or dishes for family and friend gatherings.

When I'm out and about or going for a run in the cold, I feel especially thankful to be able to jump in a car or come home to a warm house, something I know not everyone is as lucky enough to do. I wish that every month, week, day of the year I could feel as lucky. So lately, I've been thinking about how I might be able to extend this feeling of thankfulness throughout the year.

Ice trees from my run on Sunday - a balmy 27F!

Right now, I've been thinking of it as a gift just to be able to get together with friends and family. In fact, if it were up to me, I'd like to seriously rethink the gift giving situation. I find that gift giving feels very stressful because I never know what people really want or need and therefore get overwhelmed trying to find gifts that people will truly use and appreciate.

One of my biggest pet peeves is letting something go to waste and I surely wouldn't want to give something that is just going to sit on someone's shelf or get tossed in a donation pile. Anyway, that's all to say that I like in theory the idea of gifting, but not how it actually plays out.

But I hopped on here today to talk about the Christmas spirit I've been feeling and hope you are feeling a bit of that too. Even as an adult, the magic of Christmas still holds true.

A few of my favorite things this time of year: Sitting by a twinkling tree, cuddling up with a hot mug of tea or cider and watching a holiday movie (Christmas Vacation, Grumpy Old Men, Love Actually), reading the Polar Express, baking cookies, the anticipation of Christmas Eve & opening stockings.

I really enjoyed this post from Cup of Jo about holiday rituals. I spent a good 10-15 minutes reading through the comments of what others do on Christmas/Christmas Eve. So many fun traditions.

What are you doing for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Is there a specific meal or food you eat for either day? Some of our friends here in Eugene go snowshoeing and I love that idea!

Happy Holidays and I hope you're staying warm and healthy! 

Friday, December 9, 2016

Race Recap: Turkey Stuffer 2016, a Surprise PR

A race recap and a blog post? Two things you haven't seen around here in a while. I don't race much these days, but I do like posting these recaps if only for my own reminder of how I've done over the years at various races and to see how my running ebbs and flows.

I don't know about you, but I don't have all of my PR's memorized. I know my half and full marathon PR, but not my 10 or 5K. So, when I started writing this post, I had to do a little digging. From what I can tell, this year's Turkey Stuffer 5K was a PR by 2 seconds. Who knew?! When I crossed the finish line, I certainly didn't think I had just PR'ed.

In 2011, when I was doing a LOT of running, I clocked a 22:18 at a local Oregon Track Club 5K. My official finish time for the Turkey Stuffer 5K was 22:16, a PR. Whoop!

Here's a run down of past Turkey Stuffer times that I could round up: 2007 - 24:06, 2008 - 24:05,  2009 - 23:07, 2014 - 26:36 (3 months pregnant) and 2016 - 22:16!

I don't have any action photos, but here's how the race went. It started at 8:30 a.m. and is a good 20 minute drive from our house, so I left around 7:45. I got parked and ready by 8:05 a.m., grabbed my bib, crumpled it for best fit (moves much better this way) and went for a short 10-15 minute easy jog. 

In my experience, the slower, longer warm ups for 5Ks do me well. In fact, I would have liked another 5-10 minutes to warm up and do strides and stretches, but I left a bit late for that. 

I lined up with ~5 minute until start time, took off my long sleeve and we were off! This race weaves through neighborhoods and loops you back so you get to see other runners and walkers once you've hit the halfway point, which is always nice for a tired mind and body. 

Per the usual, this was a painful race (as 5Ks should be). I didn't press the start button correctly on my watch, so didn't start clocking it until .4 miles in and then just used the Garmin for current pace. I was running around 7:00-7:20 pace most of the race, which I knew I could sustain just long enough. 

Mile 1 hits and I think "Okay, just get to mile 2." Then, I think "Oh, lord. One more mile. Not sure if I can do this. It hurts so bad."  And before you know it, you're rounding that last neighborhood corner and heading down the last straightaway before ducking into the parking lot finish line. On the home stretch, I push it just enough that I wonder if I might hurl at the finish line. Thankfully, I don't. 

I definitely felt fast, which was fun. I had been doing weekly speed work for the last 5 weeks or so prior to the race, so it felt good to see the fruits of my labor. 

These days I'm wearing and loving my Mizuno Wave Inspires, which were recently updated and made much softer and just seem to fit my foot well. If you'd told me I'd be wearing and loving Mizunos previously, I wouldn't have believed you. But working at a running store has sure changed my view on running shoes. I no longer stick with the same brand and model of shoe because there are several that feel good and work well for me. 

After the race, Pete and little H joined me for some pool time. The race is a fundraiser for the local parks and rec department, so they let participants and their families swim free at the pool where the race starts and ends. Henry had a great time and of course didn't want to stick to the warm baby pool, but required we take him into the deeper, big kid pools. 

Did anyone else do a turkey trot? Tell me what fun things are on your Christmas/holiday 'to do' list.