You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

I won’t lie to you. This wasn’t my favorite book.

It wasn’t that it was bad per se—it held my attention, and there were even some fleeting moments of suspense. But it was missing that certain something that makes a book great, be it prose, relatable characters, or an unusual story line.  It sort of felt uninspired. Still, there were a few good parts worth sharing, and after sticking it out to finish the book I figured I’d earned the chance to share them with you.

The best parts of Secret Daughter:

They have grown together, toward one another, two trees leaning on each other as they age.

But her mother always said the key to a successful marriage was for each spouse to give as much as they thought they possibly could. And then, to give a little more.

When you tell some people you’re running a marathon, they give you a look like you MUST be on something–and they’re right. Runner’s high is a real thing–a result of the flood of endorphins your body gets after a run–and (hide your high schoolers) it’s addictive. I’ve told you about the rush I get after conquering a long run, and that rush lasts throughout the day, making me feel strong and energetic, and helping me sleep better at night.

The problem is, that rush gets so addicting that you want it every day, and our bodies aren’t always willing to do that. Taking a day or two off is often the hardest thing that runners do.

I was faced with this dilemma over the weekend. I was battling some sort of cold/sinus infection and struggling with a painful IT band after a mid-week eight miler. But when it came time for the Saturday long run, I instinctually got up and got ready to run. Ten minutes into getting dressed I was already five tissues deep, and pulling on my running tights felt exhausting. Yet I held on to my stubbornness. It took some serious convincing from Scott—and a reminder of how awful it went when he ran while sick—to get me to stay home.

I was bummed, but there’s no doubt it was for the best. The next day, my head cold had eased significantly, my IT band felt better (if still not great) and the day of rest helped me bust out five miles at a personal record pace. It felt glorious to be back out running again.

P.S. In case you’re in the same boat as me, Runner’s World has some great tips on if/when to run when you’re feeling sick.

It’s wet and weary on the east coast today. This song makes me want to dance in the rain.

These days, nerds are everywhere. Twitter profiles proclaiming oneself as a nerd abound. Ironic nerd eyeglasses have been popularized by celebrities and adopted by the masses. There’s even a nerd dating website, and I swear at least one of your colleagues is on it. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Nerd candy made a comeback. Blue tongues for everyone!

No longer confined to dusty basement computer labs and all-night LAN parties, one would imagine that the great 21st century nerd outage would result in all of us getting a little smarter when it comes to all things techy. Right? Wrong. Here are 10 things I’ve learned from having my very own live-in nerd. These may sound basic, but they’ve eliminated 90% of my tech problems over the past seven years.

  1. When there’s an update, do it. It sounds silly, but I used to think that those little updates that pop up on your computer were more suggestions than mandates. I’d always push them off until later, thinking “When I really need it, the computer will force me to do it.” Guess what? It turns out that’s not true!  Doing the basic updates makes a big difference in how well your computer works. Shocker.
  2. When in doubt, restart. One of Scott’s colleagues gives the following default computer advice to family members who call for computer help: “Restart 3 times then call me if it’s still not working.” Ha! Three times sounds a bit excessive to me (think he’s just trying to avoid the work?!?), but it’s amazing how often a simple restart can fix a phone, computer, cable box, or whatever other technological device that’s pissing you off.
  3. Back up your work. No, this doesn’t mean buying 500 CDs and then putting one of your folders on each of them. Get an external hard drive, plug it in every couple of weeks and you’re good to go. I also love Dropbox, a free service that lets you save and access files from multiple computers. It’s not good for backing up your whole computer, but if you only care about a folder’s worth of documents/photos, it might be the best route for you.
  4. Don’t be afraid to Google it. The IT people from my company once worked for 4 hours and couldn’t find a lost document I’d spent hours working on. I was heartbroken. Scott came to the office, Googled the problem, and found the solution in five minutes.  So often we think of Googling basic information but get intimidated to do it when it comes to technical issues. Don’t fall into this trap! Nerds like to post solutions on Web message boards because it makes them look cool. Use this to your advantage.
  5. Mix up your passwords. Did you know it’s not cool to use the same password for all your accounts? Apparently it’s a major nerd violation. Make sure to mix up your passwords or use a password memory tool like LastPass to really secure your accounts. Bonus nerd points if you do the latter.
  6. Sometimes it’s best to start fresh. If you’re having computer problems, sometimes the best thing is to totally wipe out everything on it and start over with a clean slate. Of course, this is a lot easier to do if you’re already following #3.
  7. It’s worth it to invest in good technology. Technology is like anything else in life: you get what you pay for. If you want a reliable computer that’s going to last more than a few years, don’t expect to get it at an open box sale at Wal-Mart. If you invest in quality technology up front, it will pay off in the long run.
  8. Use the free tools available. Between LastPass, DropBox, EverNote, Xmarks, Google Docs, RunKeeper, etc. there are tons of free tech tools that not only make your life easier, but more secure. Take a look at the “top free apps” listing on your phone and check out Lifehacker’s app directories every so often. If anything looks interesting to you, try it out. If it sucks you can just delete it and blame me. What’ve you got to lose?
  9. If you don’t know what it is, don’t click on it. This should go without saying, but if you don’t know the person sending you a link, don’t click on it. If you do know the person but they don’t sound like themselves or they’re sending you something out of character, don’t click on it. You can usually tell if a message is fishy if the text sounds canned or there’s no personalized greeting. When in doubt, send a separate message to the person telling them about the message you received and asking if it’s legit. Don’t risk getting a virus.
  10. Don’t be scared. So many people have a guttural fear of technology—a fear of doing something wrong and messing up the whole computer or phone in the process. The truth is that it’s pretty hard to do anything that would permanently damage a computer or phone. Don’t be afraid to play around with things, make mistakes, and then figure out how to fix them. That’s how you learn. Who knows – if things really go wrong, you might just ask a guy in a bar to help you fix it and end up meeting your husband.

I know, I know, it isn’t Shalane Flanagan. I’m surprised too. But while it may seem strange to have a piece of ambiguous plastic as a best friend, let me assure you that it’s not what you think. It’s not an extremely large piece of packing material (although I do see the resemblance). It’s also not, as some people have suggested, the stray part from a piece of Ikea furniture, although now that I think of it, there does always seems to be one of those…or at least there is when I’m putting the furniture together.

My new best friend is formally known as a foam roller. You roll your calves/hamstrings/hips/back on it after a workout for a deep (though awkwardly maneuvered) massage that loosens stiff muscles. It feels like screaming hell while you’re doing it, but gives you awesome relief afterward.

So maybe it’s not so much my best friend as my best frenemy. One that I plan on seeing every day until March 17.

At the end of our long run each Saturday, there’s a point when the endorphins get to me and I’m struck with complete awe at what the human body can do. I inevitably gush to Scott and Becky at how proud I am of us and what we’re doing. Every long run feels like a big mountain, and finishing it feels like hitting the summit and seeing the breathtaking view below. No matter how tired or wobbly my legs are, after conquering the run I feel like I can conquer the world.

This Saturday was the Olympic trials for the marathon. Out of roughly 200 runners, three men and three women qualified to compete for the USA in London this summer. The men’s qualifiers (who are unlikely to even be medal contenders during the games) ran 26.2 miles at a pace of less than 5 minutes per mile. The women’s qualifiers ran at roughly a 5:30 pace. It blows me away.

Each of the qualifiers are inspiring in their own way. Ryan Hall trains completely independently, earning the fastest marathon ever by an American at Boston last year (he ran it in 2:04:58, or just a few minutes longer than my last HALF marathon.) Shalane Flanagan ran her first marathon ever in 2010, finishing second with a time of 2:28:40, the fastest NYC marathon time for an American woman in more than 20 years. Her and her teammates Desiree Davila and Kara Goucher are expected to give the Kenyans a run for their money this summer.

If I feel like I can conquer the world after 15 miles, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to run at that level on behalf of your country. It must feel like you’re running with the wind.

stripe_shoes

…while I find a Kleenex to wipe the drool from my mouth. Stripe-y perfection.

I’m almost halfway through marathon training—can you believe it? (My hamstrings certainly can.) As I mark off each week on my training schedule, the race is starting to seem less like a pipe dream and more like a real possibility…one that I might actually achieve! In this lifetime! Without a team of medics! It feels crazy and exciting and exhausting.

Since I’m spending a lot of my waking hours running or thinking about running or feeling the effects of running, I thought I’d spend some time each Monday sharing some of my experiences with you. First up: my tricks for overcoming the mental block of running a long distance.

Although I’ve run a couple of half marathons and know that my body can physically make it through a long run, sometimes I have trouble coming to terms with them mentally. I’ll start thinking “That’s way too long,” or “My body can’t do that,” or “I’m too tired,” and then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that ends in me sitting on the couch. So I’ve come up with a few tricks for avoiding this trap of negative thinking:

  1. Don’t overthink it. Although I certainly try to prepare for long runs by planning my routes and eating a good meal the night before, I try not to think too much about the actual distance I’ll be running. Instead, I think about the scenery I’ll be running through, or the great meal I’m going to have after. If I start to think about the distance too much during the run, I find a way to distract myself by making a mental to-do list or daydreaming. Focusing on the distance too much scares me, so I just avoid it.
  2. Argue with yourself. If you start making up excuses for why you can’t achieve a long run, take a second and play devil’s advocate with yourself. Why CAN you do it? When I was training for the half marathon, I confided my long-distance worries to a running friend who told me “If you can run a 5K, you can run a half marathon.” They said it with such confidence that I couldn’t help but believe him, and now I use this same logic on myself with every increase in distance. If I can run 10 miles, I can run 13. If I can run 13, I can run 15. If I can run 15, I can run 18, and so on. The incremental increases in my training really help with this! (Note: if you follow this tip, I advise that you do it in private so you aren’t walking through Target talking to yourself, as I have been known to do!)
  3. When all else fails, rely on your running buddies. I’m lucky to have a great training group for the marathon, and I don’t want to let them down. Even when I’m not in the mood to run, I want to catch up with them and that makes getting out there a lot easier. Usually once I’m out and running, it’s not so hard to keep going. (When I didn’t have running buddies I’d tell myself that I could go as slow as I wanted when I was running, as long as I got out there and ran. Once I was out there, I would end up picking up the pace. It was a great mental trick to get me going.)

I find that these three little tricks help me to stay confident about my training. What tricks do you use to overcome workout hurdles? I’d love to hear.

This guy gave us quite the scare this weekend. Luckily for us, he’s totally fine now, but we’re compensating by giving him lots of long walks, extra snuggles and a couple of treats. Well played, Oslo. Well played.

This summer, I finished the course work for my MBA and applied for graduation, checking the “does not want to attend graduation ceremonies” since I knew it was months away.  Last month I accepted a new position at a company I’d long admired, doing work that sounds very exciting and a little bit daunting.

Today I learned that the graduation ceremonies for my program are this Sunday. I start my new job on Monday. If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is, and I think it’s telling me that my decision to move on was the right one. I sure hope so.

Here’s to a new year and new adventures. xo

A photo of me.

About me

Hi, I'm Pam. I'm a runner, reader and recent MBA grad living in Baltimore with my husband. I work in PR, but I spend my off-hours writing here about my life, which mostly revolves around family, friends, fashion and fitness. Sometimes I throw in the occasional food photo just to make sure you're paying attention.

Contact

For questions or freelance opportunities, contact me at theinspirationfiles {at} gmail {dot} com. I'd love to hear from you!

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