Monday, October 20, 2014

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Half-marathon training is upon me again.  Not surprisingly, I’m not prepared for it.  It’s the story of my running life.

A while back, I signed up for the Austin Half Marathon, thinking (and hoping, maybe even praying) that it would give me the fire and motivation to train seriously for a half-marathon.  The problem with being inside a series of long-term transitions as I have been for the past year is that it becomes exceedingly difficult to make long-term commitments.  I really want to make commitments—I’m not scared of them—but economic pressure and employment upheaval have conspired to drain much of the energy I used to be spend on athletic pursuits.  Over the summer, during the hardest weeks, going for a daily walk was the best I could do.  During the thick of our move to Austin, I didn’t even get my daily walk because we were so flattened by our to-do lists.

But now!  Ah, sweet now.  Our move to Austin is history.  Sweltering summer temps have come down into milder October days.  My work schedule is gaining a semi-predictable rhythm.  We’re finding our groove in the house, working and playing together.  I’m starting to imagine that maybe, just maybe, I can find the time and energy for my running life again.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle to find a running groove.  It’s hard.  If it weren’t hard, we wouldn’t spend so many words talking about “motivation” and “time management.”  Running inevitably asks us to sacrifice something: free time, sleep, chores, time with family and friends, maybe even work.  By definition, I think a sacrifice hurts.  It pains us to give something up.  To put it bluntly, I suppose I haven’t been too keen on additional sacrifices in the last few years.  My employment ups and downs robbed me of any notions of career or financial stability.  Finding that stability for myself has been my top concern, my top priority, the thing I’ve been chasing most obsessively.  Running kinda fell off my list of priorities, as sad as that is to admit.

Much like blogging, I knew, deep down, that running was something to which I would return.  Eventually.  I love the way running makes me feel: calm, powerful, capable.  I love the rhythm of my sneakers against the path.  I love the way running serves as a release valve for stress and frustration.  I don’t want the Detroit Marathon to be my first and only marathon (gah, I never thought I’d say THAT!).  Despite my lack of consistent running, I still feel like a runner, and I still feel like running is always available to me, even if I’ve been a disloyal runner.

Which brings us to the present moment: late October, with a half-marathon on the schedule in about four months.  If I decide to give this race my best effort from now to race day, I think to myself, what’s the worst that could happen?  I run the race more slowly that I would have if I had started training earlier and better?  Is that not an outcome with which I can live?  After all, I’d still get my chance to restart my training.  I’d get to reclaim my identity as a runner.  I’d still get to enjoy my race day here in Austin.  And fingers crossed, my friend JD will make it to Austin for the race, and we’ll get to enjoy his visit together.

You know what?  All of that sounds AWESOME.  I have every reason to say YES now.  What’s in the past is over.  I remember writing my thoughts on imperfect marathon training and feeling so happy that I had been brave enough to continue with my training despite all the reasons I had to ditch the marathon.

There is truly no better day to go for a run than today.  I know that finding time to run will continue to be a challenge for me because of my freelancer’s schedule.  But what is life but a series of trying, failing, and trying again?  If it were easy, there’d be no glory in it, no accomplishment at the end of the finishing chute.

So here’s me, trying again.  Here’s to a running life, defined not by a single training cycle but by the return to running, over and over again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to Work!

Hello

Well, well, well!  Guess who hardly took any photos last week?  That would be moi, so you get a close-up of Lu’s face.  Check out those pretty white whiskers!

The cold front this weekend brought some spectacular weather to Texas.  It was cool and rainy and we all just basked in it.  I went running twice, only to realize how desperately out of running shape I am.  Oh well—it comes back, right?

FLF_Week of September 8 cropped

On a different note, our lives are getting busier here at Feels Like Flying headquarters.  The academic semester is picking up speed; all three of us here in this house have tutoring gigs this week.  I completed 12 billable hours this week, which is only 8 short of my minimum goal of 20 hours.  That might not sound like a lot, but when you’re freelancing and still pretty new to the game, landing billable hours can be really hard.  Or maybe it’s not so much that it’s hard as it’s a game of putting your best stuff out there and waiting patiently to see if anyone wants to work with you.  The waiting is hard.  Being patient is hard.  Doing the work?  That’s a lot easier.

But all of that is to say that we are all feeling hopeful that our house will land on its feet, financially.  I’m writing about some of this stuff over at my other blog in a series called “Budgeting for Freelancers.”  Rather than rehash the boring generic advice that one can find via a simple search, I want to tell our story and what budgeting means for us, real people with hopes and fears and savings and debt and the unknown future, winking at us in secret collaboration.

Because that’s what it’s all about, right?  Our stories.  Generic advice is meant for a generic audience.  But you, my dears, you are the ones to whom I tell my stories.  And even though I’m totally rusty at this writing thing, I’d like to start writing again more regularly.  Why is routine so hard at some points in life?  I’d like my routines back, please.  Or maybe I just want my writing time back.

Things may be getting busier, but they are starting to feel more like a routine.  Slowly, surely, I’ll get back to my running and writing routines, right?  Right.

Happy routine-following, my dears.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let’s Do This

First some art…

Spider House

Good Advice

…and now something funny!

ORLY

Hey, hey!  Happy September!  Even though my last post was on September 3rd, today’s chilly temperatures feel more like September than the close-to-100 temps we’ve had lately.  My friend Emily and I were joking that today is the day to do ALL THE FALL THINGS, like buying a pumpkin, eating an apple pie, and wearing every scarf you own.  We Northerners share a longing for the autumn we once loved.  Texas may win a prize for its spectacular springtime beauty, but autumn here is nothing to invite your friends to see.

My roommate Courtney (whom you can see poking out at the bottom of the semen donor photo) and I have been running around town putting up flyers for our two businesses.  She recently launched The Austin Writing Shop, a coaching and editing business for writers.  And I of course have gone full-time as a biology and chemistry tutor.  Together, we’ve gone out on three field trips to advertise our stuff around Austin; the photos above are from our trip to the University of Texas’s campus, where our first stop was Amy’s Ice Cream.  That was a good choice, as we needed fuel to keep us going for countless blocks of city walking, ducking in and out of shops to see who had bulletin boards and who did not.  Visiting that part of town made me really excited to get back to Spider House, a place I visited once with Matt.  It’s quirky, artsy, humming with a creative vibe.  It’s lovely, really.

On a different note, Paul and I had to abort our Sunday morning bike ride along the river trail after he fell off his bike.  We had just arrived at the trail and were about to start the scenic part of our ride when Paul was trying to mount his bike and it slipped out from underneath him.  He landed so hard on his bike frame that we think he broke a rib; he’s had some pain this week that would be consistent with a hairline fracture, I think.  He had some scrapes and bruises elsewhere too.  So this week he’s been recovering from that.  We probably won’t head out on our bikes tomorrow, which is super sad, but if he needs to heal, then it’s the right decision.

As for me, it was a pretty good fitness week!  I had forgotten that I ran twice, which is really good for me these days.  I’m still feeling really challenged by my lack of running routine; just how DOES one go about starting a new routine?  Between the heat, no consistent work routine, and my love for walking, running feels like something I used to do, not something I actually do now.  I’m kinda thinking about trying a streak for this upcoming week, just to break my own running stasis.  Run EVERY DAY?!?  It’s so crazy, it just might work. 

FLF_Week of September 1 cropped

Hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow with another update from this current week.  Until then, happy trails to you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Slow Finish to August

First, a few photo highlights from last week!

Six Kinds of Quinoa

“Go buy some quinoa from Whole Foods,” Paul tells me.  I oblige, only to find that Whole Foods sells six (SIX!) different kinds of quinoa.  I buy the cheapest one because, starting at $4.99/pound, quinoa is much more expensive than rice or tortillas.  Still, the number of options was impressive, so I had to document them.

Yeah!

August has been a really nice balance of working at home and exploring Austin.  The mug above, featuring Austin’s best slogan, is from Book People, a wonderful independent bookstore in downtown Austin.  (The mug belongs to my roommate Courtney.)  I’m pretty sure that I myself am not weird enough for Austin, but I love the mug nonetheless.

Moving on to last week’s work-outs…

FLF_Week of August 25 cropped

It’s still, of course, beastly hot here in Texas, so I finished up August with more walking and a bike ride with Paul.  I promised myself that once September arrived, I’d get back into running, but I’ll save that story for next time.

After a pretty stressful summer of working and moving to Austin, we definitely took advantage of the slower pace of August.  I feel like my walking routine is symbolic of the ease that August gave us.  But now that August is over and we are getting down to business in Austin, I feel ready to run and maybe to even log more than 10 miles in a week!  Hey, that would be novel! 

Lu Likes Vegetarian Times Too

Finally, here’s Miss Lu, sitting in one of her favorite spots in front of the balcony door.  She loves the sunshine we get in the morning and will even wedge herself between the blinds to sunbathe.

Happy day to you, dear reader!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

You Are Here

You Are Here

On the Bike Trail

Tonight I’m taking a break from genetics to catch up around here!  I know that blogging isn’t real work in the I-get-paid-for-it sense, but I always feel a tingle of accomplishment when I catch up on the just-for-fun writing that I do.

Paradoxically, we are settling into daily life in Austin as our schedule is about to become much busier with work.  I did well with my exercise last week, getting outside for some movement six days out of seven.  On Monday, we took the bus to downtown Austin, theoretically to buy me some study/tutoring materials for chemistry.  We checked out Book People, where they keep the college study references in just the right place: next to the incense!

Incense and College Reference 

They didn’t have any chemistry references for me, so I settled for a votive candle and Paul bought a new journal.  (We’re big on journaling in our house!)  From there, we headed over to Whole Foods to buy a few groceries, then we caught the bus home.  Note for the record that we did NOT go into Anthropologie because I’m saving it for a special treat: when I hit 100 tutoring hours on WyzAnt, I’m giving myself permission to buy something from Anthro if I want.  It’s a store that is, I think, generally out of my price range (and I don’t have the patience/desire to stalk sales the way other people do), but I’m happy to use it as a reward now that there is a store near me.

On Sunday morning, we headed out on the riverside bike trail for a LONG bike ride in the sunshine.  (The photos at the top are from our ride.)  This time, we didn’t get any flat tires, so we were able to enjoy our bikes all the way back home, where the uphill was so steep that I had to hop off my bike and walk it.  My legs were trashed by the end, but it was a deliciously tired feeling.

FLF_Week of August 18 cropped

And that brings this blog officially UP TO DATE!  Hurray!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Work Hard, Play Hard

At home, working…

She's Done with Her Homework

Study Time

…and out on the road.

Dallas

En Route to College Station

Another week over and another week closer to the start of the fall semester!  The week of August 11th was a good “work hard, play hard” week.  I made good progress on my tutoring work, and oh, Paul and I had our interview that week!  More on that soon if we get hired.  On Thursday, we headed north to Dallas to see friends and so Paul could go to a concert with another friend of ours.  I love the Dallas skyline and wish I could better capture it with my camera.  Alas, that third photo down (a rather mediocre shot) will have to do for now.  The fourth photo down is a photo of the sunrise as we made an early-morning drive to College Station to finish up some work there.

I did well with my exercise before we went to Dallas, but I didn’t keep up with it while we were on our mini-vacation.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: August is such a punishing month in Texas.  I miss being outside more often and can’t wait until we start seeing cooler temperatures again.

But hey, how cute is my work-out summary this week?!

FLF_Week of 8_11_14 cropped

Monday, August 11, 2014

The First Week in Austin

Out and about…

From the Passenger Side

Out on the Bike Trail

…and at home in Austin.

Hard at Work_Selfie Break

Big Belly Boo

Hello, hello!  I’m so ready to get back into weekly updates on this blog.  We’ve been settling into Austin quite nicely, though I’ll confess that much of my time here thus far has been spent at my desk.  It’s a good busy, a happy busy, as Paul and I get ready for the upcoming semester and try to get our names out there so that students can find us.  When I work at home, Lucy sprawls out behind me or she sneaks into the closet and sleeps on my slippers.  It’s pretty adorable.

When we sneak away from our desks, it’s often on bike.  On Saturday, we headed down to the bike trail by the river and enjoyed the sites, like the one in the second photo from the top.  Unfortunately, Paul got a flat tire on the trail, and we had to walk our bikes all the way home.  Since then, he’s done a bunch of work on his bike and on mine, which is fantastic.  I love dating someone who is so handy and caring.

If I head out of the house without Paul, I usually do so on foot.  I’ll tell you more about my future running plans in my next post, but suffice to say that I’m taking advantage of the newfound stability in my life to start training again.  I got two short runs in last week and I went out tonight for a longer run.  To illustrate, I present the following:

FLF_Week of 8_04_14 v3

Paul and I bought digitizer tablets for tutoring!  They’re like electronic notebooks that you can use for sketching, drawing, or, in our case, lots of problem solving with students.  I’m still getting used to the tablet, but I’ve decided to do my weekly work-out log on the tablet.  I like its hand-drawn quality!

How is your week going, dear reader?