Sunday, June 27, 2010

Running to the Finish Line

If you would've asked me about a year ago about running a 5K, I would've scoffed at the very suggestion.

Me, a runner? Not likely! Of course I was having a few health challenges last year, but still running was NEVER something I was interested in doing.

Only a few months later things changed. I started wondering what the big deal was with running, and I was impressed with several friends who took up running and were having great success with it. I started wanting to know for myself if running was something I could ever do.

Smirk found a program online that's basically designed to help you prepare for a 5K (even if it doesn't specifically say that), and I started following it. Unfortunately, the commitment wasn't there, so I was unsuccessful. After Christmas I decided I wanted to try it again partially because there's a certain power that comes from conquering something you've always disliked and partially in honor of my niece, whom I knew could never run with her bad heart.

I did great at training for the first two months of the year. It was only running around my basement, mind you, but it was still running, and I was proud of myself. But after my niece died, I lost it for a couple of months, and several things fell by the wayside, including running. By the time I was ready to take it up again, it was May and I was doing a walking challenge for work. I incorporated my running right into that and discovered a strength and endurance that I didn't know I possessed. I (gulp) discovered that I was beginning to not hate running anymore, even if it still made me anxious whenever I started preparing to go for a run.

Then Smirk asked if I wanted to do a 5K at the end of June. A 5K in only a month? Could I be ready? I decided that ready or not I was going to do it.

Which leads me to Saturday morning when I found myself at Sugarhouse Park, relatively early in the morning with a large group of people being the same crazy that I was. I had trained hard all that week and by the time Thursday came, I was sick of training and ready to just do the race. Surely it couldn't be as bad as all the days of running I'd just done. I was glad as I looked around the group to discover that not everyone looked like they'd been running for years. In fact, several looked similar to me, i.e. people just trying out a 5K for the first time.

We all gathered at the starting line and prepared to take off. The butterflies in my stomach were threatening to fly up at any moment, but I tried my best to squelch them. And then we were off.

I should tell you now that I am NOT a fast runner by any means, but I do try to be steady. Smirk and I kept an even pace, and we ran for the entire first lap and then some. I took about a minute to walk as we went into the second lap and then I was running again until we started going down the grassy slope. If you're not familiar with running on grass, it's harder than concrete, well in my opinion anyway, so I walked down the slope, through the picnic area and back onto the road for a short time. Then I was running again and made it almost the whole way up the second hill heading to the finish.

Once I got back to the concrete that surrounds the park and knew the finish line was pretty close, I knew I had to run the last quarter of a mile or however long it is. And run I did. I was determined to see this through to the end. As I passed through the finish line (my time was 36 something, but I don't remember exactly), I felt such a strong elation. I was delighted to give 5 to the guy standing by the timer, and my excitement continued as I realized what I had just done: I had run a 5K!! Smirk was right behind me. We both did amazing!! I was a little surprised when I almost started crying out of excitment. * Sigh * Sometimes I hate being a complicated female!

This experience has just taught me that sometimes we can do things we never thought possible. And if you set a goal (provided it's reasonable) and then work toward accomplishing it, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to. I was thinking before the race how excited I was that I no longer have to run, but I'm surprised in that I now want to keep running. Who would've thought that could happen? Certainly not me!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Central Park--A Little Something for Everyone

I apologize for yesterday's entry. It was just a sad moment for me, but I'm already feeling better. I think I was just at the end of my rope and frustrated about a few other things so when the ache started, I had a difficult time making it subside. I promise that I am much better today.

I wanted to move on to some other exciting entries that I have in mind, starting with the one about Central Park. First of all, it's huge! I don't think anything could've prepared me for just how giant that park really is. I've always thought Liberty Park was nice sized, but it's minute compared to Central Park. We were there for several hours and only saw about a third of the park. Crazy!

Since I'm me and this park is full to overflowing with people of course I got some great people watching time in, well in between trying not to wither away from all the humidity. Ick! I am a desert child and find humidity difficult. It did make my hands nice though. :) My observation is that Central Park pretty much has something for everyone. Whether you're a runner, walker, biker, hiker, skater, artist, boater or even just a regular person looking for some enjoyable outside time, Central Park is definitely for you.
Here's our group walking into the park.

The Bibliophile and I had a lovely chat with an older couple who live right across from the park and have been going there daily for about 25 years now. I was so impressed by that. Here are a few photos documenting all the types of people you see in the park. Sorry about the blurriness, but these were people on the move.
First, we have bikers. There were plenty of those.

Next, you have skateboarders. I didn't see quite as many of those, but there were definitely some there.

For however many dollars (I don't know how much because I didn't ask) you can pay to have one of these guys ride you around in a cart. All I can say is those guys must have some awesome leg muscles from hauling people around all day.

Ahh, of course there were plenty of runners too. I would love to someday go running in Central Park, although I wouldn't like being surrounded by so many people though. I prefer to run in quieter areas.

And for added flavor, mix in a few artists painting the much-needed green the park provides for the concrete jungle.

And if you'd like to go boating, well you can do that too.

There's even a place for some wildlife in the park, if you can consider turtles to be wildlife. These ones call Turtle Pond their home. We seriously thought they were statues because they weren't moving very much.

Lucky us! We got to be in the park on the day of the annual Puerto Rican Parade. That meant lots of noise, a large section of the park being blocked off and hoards of people running around in Puerto Rican flags, colors and many types of decorations to show pride for their country. Although it meant we didn't get to see the Alice in Wonderland statue, it did make our visit to the park that more interesting.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just missing Ashley

I'm sorry everyone, but tonight's entry is going to be a sad one. I have several others that I'm still planning to write (including one about Central Park), but I'm not feeling any of them tonight, so please bear with me as I release a little bit of the emotion pent up inside of me.

I have to be honest--I've been struggling a lot lately. I felt like I was on the path to recovery, and my life has certainly been quite busy. To the casual observer everything appears to be fine. And if you asked, I would probably tell you that it is.

But in truth I would most likely be lying because I'm not fine just now. I will be, of course, but right now I'm not.

I can't say exactly what triggered this rush of emotion (although I have a few suspects), but I've been missing our beautiful angel a lot lately. I've been trying hard to keep it under control, to deal with it and not burden anybody with my grief. I didn't want to talk about it because I wasn't sure exactly what I felt inside so I couldn't very well put it into words for someone else. But I should be smarter than that because trying to keep it inside doesn't really work for me and really just exacerbates the problem.

Which leaves me where I'm at right now--feeling broken and miserable inside. And missing Ashley almost as much as I did right after she died. I was so sad this morning that I didn't want to go to work. I wanted to call in depressed, but I knew that wouldn't really help me, so I made myself get up, get ready and go to work. And I put on my work face, hoping nobody would notice. I even laughed and giggled about some silly things. But inside I hurt fiercely. And tonight the dam broke so I could finally let it all out.

I guess it's just another layer of grief that's surfacing. I'm sure that's going to happen more over the next few weeks, months and even years. And I know that I'm not alone in my grief. Tonight I read my wonderful sister's last blog post, and she talked about how she misses her every hour of every day. But she was her mom after all, so she's entitled to miss her. I hope that it gets a little easier over time, even if the hole never goes away.

In the meantime I'm just going to pray hard to make it through this latest bout of grief.

Just in case I haven't depressed you enough, I'm going to include some pictures of things I miss about my Miss Sassypants.
I miss the sass and silliness that characterized her.
I miss her visits to Salt Lake City (even if she was going to see her cardiologist) when I got to meet up with her, and whichever family members came, for lunch. I will always treasure those times, especially now. Or when we got to do fun stuff like get ice cream. Oh, and I also miss her happy smile.
I miss how playful she always was, doing silly things to make everyone laugh. And I miss having her at my house.

And, I'm sorry because this may be a tearjerker, but I miss how much she loved me. You could bask in the warmth that always came from Ashley's heart. She cared about everyone around her so much and was always looking out for your well being. Even a night or two before she died when she was so sick, she was still asking her mom if she had enough blankets and pillows. She was and still is our beautiful angel.

I know you're not gone, but I sure do miss you. I hope you are not only resting in peace but also doing great work on the other side with other family members who are already in heaven. I'm still waiting for the day when I get to see you again! Love you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Back from NYC

It's been awhile since I've written in my blog. For anyone who checks on a regular basis and has been wondering at the lack of posts, that's why. I've been meaning to write a post about my New York City trip this whole week, but I've been a) busy with work stuff that required my evenings and b) too tired to write it. In fact, I'm nearly falling asleep at the computer as I write this, but I wanted to at least post something.

The trip was wonderful, exhausting and exciting all at once. We walked an average of 10 miles per day (almost 13 on the last day) and saw as much as possible in the few days we had. And completely wore ourselves out in the process, but it was worth it. I loved having the opportunity to visit some of the most famous sites in the world and getting to experience the concrete jungle for myself. I must confess that it was quite a change for a small town country girl like me to see the really big city for the first time, but I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to do so.

I'm sure you're wondering what my favorite part of the trip was. Truthfully, it's hard to say, but I can tell you that I loved, loved, loved visiting the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I've wanted to see Lady Liberty since I was a teenager so it was a fulfillment of a dream to be able to do so. I found Ellis Island to be one of the most compelling places that we visited. But I also loved Times Square (surreal for me to realize I was there on the first day!), seeing a show on Broadway, walking down Wall Street and into Tiffany's (even though I was pretty sure one tiny piece of jewelry probably costs more than I make in a year), doing an endowment session in the Manhattan Temple, seeing Greenwich Village and visiting Central Park. I must confess though that as much as I enjoyed myself, I was very much ready to come home when it was time. It's great visiting the city, but I don't know that I'd want to live there.

Please enjoy these pictorial highlights. For anyone who is friends with me on Facebook, I promise an album is coming soon, hopefully this weekend. :) Please excuse the wonky spacing that I'm sure will result from putting these pictures in. It happens every time no matter how careful I am, and I have yet to figure out how to fix it. Dang it!

Times Square in New York City. The first thing we visited after some much needed rest time following our flight in. So exciting!!

Welcome to Grand Central Station. After having visited Penn Station on my way out of the city, I'm now glad that I didn't have to try to find my train here because it's really big, although I'm sure I could've figured it out.

All of us just outside the New Amsterdam Theater where we saw Mary Poppins on Broadway. Fabulous!

Let's hear it for Lady Liberty! I was price-is-right excited to get to see her, even if we didn't get to go to the crown. It was still amazing to walk all the way around her.

Welcome to Ellis Island. Millions of emigrants passed through here as they entered the United States for the first time. I LOVED this museum. We spent about three hours here, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

The view from the Empire State Building Observatory at night. It was awesome to see the city all lit up.
Eating New York style cheesecake for the first time. Sooooo good but incredibly rich, especially after going so long without such a high concentration of sugar. I didn't end up finishing my piece, but it was okay.
The whole group (sans one member who had to come back to Utah early) as we were crossing the Brooklyn Bridge.

Just me being silly in Central Park.
The Bibliophile and me on the top of Belvedere Castle in Central Park. It was a fun place to visit.

The group enjoying frozen hot chocolate, a treat we were told we shouldn't miss. Umm, I was less than impressed with it to be quite honest. It was good but definitely not the best thing I've ever tasted by any means.

This is the Hudson River which ran right behind the building where we were staying. We didn't have the chance to go see it until out last day though.

Me holding the world's largest Reese's Peanut Butter Cup--a full pound of peanut butter and chocolate. It almost makes me sick just thinking about it.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Challenge Completed

I just barely posted about my garden planting experience, and I'm on the verge of exhaustion, so I'm not sure I should be writing this, but I'm hoping I can do it quickly and head off to bed.

About a month ago I mentioned two challenges I had just started. One was a walking challenge through work which isn't over, but I have already fulfilled the original goal. I thought it was too low anyway, but that's beside the point. The other was to go an entire month without sugar.

The walking challenge hasn't been too big of a deal, except it's made me more conscious of methods I can use to increase my daily step totals or to challenge myself. But the other one was really hard. It's taught me a few things that I'd like to briefly share.

I chose to participate partially because I knew there would be strength in numbers, and I was right. It helped so much to know that both Smirk and the Fashionista were doing it too. I didn't want to say I'd failed when I knew they were still working hard. Plus we could feel each other's frustration at family gatherings or events when everyone around us was eating dessert but we weren't.

My original reward was to put money toward a new iPod. But, some unexpected money came my direction which is now going to make it possible for me to get my new iPod. Wa-hoo! I've been convinced to upgrade from a 16 gig Nano to a 32 gig Touch. I'm still not convinced that I need one, but I must admit I'm intrigued at the idea of a tiny handheld computer with useful apps. This has helped me learn an appreciation for delayed gratification and the importance of rewarding myself for important milestones. We're such a now society that like many others, I have become accustomed to getting things I want quickly. It's been great to make myself wait.

I appreciate the changes I've felt in my body and within myself as I completed this challenge. I figured it was a wise idea for my health's sake, but I didn't realize that it was also going to teach me self mastery, a skill I'm still working to develop. It taught me that I can resist, even when temptation is looming in front of my face. I'm hoping to build upon this as I proceed forward.

Finally, I didn't realize until I did this just how bad my sugar addiction really is. While I would love to say I'll never eat any candy, chocolate or dessert again, I know that's not realistic for me. I am intending to severely limit what I put in my body. And I'm pretty sure that will have positive effects too.

This is my personal pat on the back for going 31 whole days without sugar in the form of chocolate, desserts and sweets. Natural sugars and those in foods, and surprisingly enough in milk too, that I can't control are okay. I'm still intending to use fruit as my main source of natural sugar. Wish me luck as I continue to apply the lessons learned during this challenge.

A Good Day's Work

So I meant to write this Monday, but it was much too late and I was way too exhausted to even think about writing it. However, I hope you enjoy the pictures and the story. Please excuse the weird spacing that accompanies the pictures in my blog whenever I include them in a post. For some reason my blog refuses to cooperate when I try to fix the spacing. Dang it!

As I mentioned before, this last weekend I went to my parents' house in Idaho to help out. It's been a tough year for my parents, well for our family in general, but especially for my parents. My dad has been having some health problems which make it difficult for him to do many of the things he normally does. As such, it was up to us kids to help plant the garden on Monday.

Planting a garden is something my parents have done pretty much my entire life and even before my time. I'm sure it's been passed through the generations. Nevertheless, it's been awhile since I've helped with the planting of said garden, probably because I live a few hours away and am not always at the house at the right time. Until this year. What a satisfying experience it was!

There's something so refreshing about getting on your hands and knees and working in the soil. I took great delight in digging the holes for each plant to go in, mixing the "blue water" a.k.a. Miracle Grow, hauling it across the yard to the garden and placing each plant or seed in the ground. My dad kept giving my sister and me tips about the plants, a few secrets he's learned over the years. My three nephews (and later on my other nephew and niece) thought it was the coolest activity ever to plant a garden. They especially loved the night crawlers we found as we dug in the dirt. Yup, typical boys.

My sister's current yard doesn't allow for her to have a garden, so they haven't had the garden-planting experience yet. My dad winked at me and said the kids didn't even realize they were working. And they didn't. Well, until they got tired and decided to go play football with my younger brother instead, but we still appreciated their help.

When all the plants were in (including the row of beans I painstakingly planted by hand one inch apart, not realizing my dad's way of planting--throw the seeds into the row and cover them up--was much easier than my mom's. We'll see which one grows better.), my dad brought my grandpa's old tiller over to re-do the rows. I was pretty sure this wasn't on the approved activities list for his heart condition, and my brother was in the house, so I it was up to me to supervise. What I didn't bargain on was how much I'd enjoy it. Or how sore it would make me later, but it's the satisfying kind of sore. I couldn't make the old tiller turn around or take it out of gear, but I did help it go from row to row, with Dad's supervision, and was pleased to see how nice my handiwork looked. I wish I had taken a picture of that, but alas I did not.
My brother and my nephew hard at work planting the onions.
Now that I was involved with planting the garden, I feel a certain sense of ownership and find myself wanting to go out and water and weed it to help the plants grow. Alas, it's too long of a drive to do those activities on a regular basis. But I'm pretty sure those who are still there can take care of it.

Here's a few pictures documenting the event. Again, I apologize for the spacing issues. Someday I hope my blog learns to play nicely again.

Here we are just at the beginning stages of planting. My dad is demonstrating proper hole-digging technique.

Not sure why little P is looking so sassy here, but then again, his sister was the queen of sass, and both his parents have it too, so perhaps it runs in the family. :)

My sister with my niece, but this niece is not her daughter, just to clarify.

Papa Daddy is smiling, probably because not only is his daughter photographing him but the garden planting is almost finished. Hallelujah!