Sunday, July 27, 2014

Camping, Camping, Camping!

My three weeks of camping are over and I'm having a hard time re-assimilating myself to normal hygiene practices. But what an amazing three weeks they were!  

My first camping trip was to help as staff at our church's Young Women's Camp for girls 12-18.  It was my 6th year in a row attending as a leader, 8th total as a leader (I didn't go the years I was a newlywed and when I had brand new babies), and if you count when I was a girl 14th year overall.  Needless to say I love camp!  I have absolutely zero photos from camp, but it was, as usual, a grand adventure.

The next week I got to spend tromping through the wilderness in pioneer clothes as staff helping recreate on a small scale the mormon pioneer trek to Utah.  

I was staff, so while the youth were doing this:

(No, this was not a male dominated trek, but these awesome boys went down the hill over and over again to pull up the carts.)

I was doing official looking, but far less strenuous things like this:

Let's be honest, it was hard to sit back and watch the kids do all the hard work and not get involved.  But the other people on the staff were amazing and I had a ball!

All these other gals got the tomahawk to stick fairly quickly.  It's embarrassing to say how long it took me to get one to stick, but once I got it I repeated it multiple times.  This is my look of intense concentration, and probably barely suppressed rage.  I also look like this when racing, but the only sharp instrument I carry during a race is my wit.  

My next camping trip was our annual Nelson Cousin's Camp.  

For my kids cousin's camp is one of the highlights of summer! 

Of course, we don't let a little thing like sleeping in a tent keep us from watching Le Tour de France!  (By we I really mean Vaughn because I was in the true wilderness for most of the tour and had no idea what was going on.)

And this one has nothing to do with the post, I'm just adding it for educational purposes.  

Vaughn was a rock star Dad and re-roofed our house AND watched the kids while I was at camp.  Then numerous family members helped out with our kids so he could go back to work while I kept playing at trek.  I'm so glad that I got to finish off my month of camping surrounded by my family.  After two weeks away I was glad to be back with them!  

Now that my month of camping is over it's time to start training again instead of just running for fun.  After 5 months of only fun runs it's gong to be painful (both mentally and physically) to add tempo and speed back into the mix, but it's past time.  I'm antsy to get some fitness back! Any advice or motivation to get me moving again would be great!   

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Alex Boye Concerts!

Wow!  This week has been nuts, but SO MUCH FUN!  

Thursday night we had our final rehearsal for our Ensign Symphony & Chorus concerts.  It was a blast! Alex Boye didn't hold back, even in rehearsal!  That man has a huge personality!

We spent, Friday, the 4th of July, roofing our house.  I can't tell you how grateful I am for those men, and their wives who let them come on a holiday!  

I mostly picked up derbies around the house and tried to keep shoes on my kids so they didn't step on a rusty nail!

I did squeeze in an awesome, but hot, run with April.  Man alive, as I was boiling on my run all I could think was how hot it must be for the guys on the roof!  I don't know how I manage to get the most amazing running buddies, but April was my first and is for sure one of the best! 

Saturday I ditched Vaughn and the roofing project for to head up to Benaroya Hall in Seattle for our two concerts.  Our tech rehearsal before the concerts were...interesting.  There were a lot of technical problems, the AC in the hall wasn't working, blah, blah, blah.  Good thing our last combined rehearsal was amazing or I would have been panicked!  However, when we got to the matinee performance things started clicking! I may have single handily ruined a song by playing the opening chord in the wrong key, which lead the choir to be off, but I would never outright admit to that.  If I thought Alex was energetic in rehearsal, in concert he was on fire!  That man is a true performer, engaging the audience as a whole and individuals at the same time, that's an incredible talent to have!  Plus the amount of time he spent in the lobby and backstage signing things, taking pictures, and spreading words of compliment and cheer was just impressive.  He may have gone back do his dressing room and collapsed, but if that is the case you would never know it!  He was so beyond kind to everyone he interacted with.  Plus, hearing that man testify about his life and his beliefs is powerful stuff!!  It added a whole new level of excitement and emotion to everything!

Before the evening performance they had a VIP event with Alex on the balcony of the lobby.  Because I'm the Symphony VP I was able to attend.  I looked down into the lobby and saw the organization president, Andy, walking my family up the stairs so they could join me.  I don't think he realizes how much this meant to me, and especially my completely star struck boys!  It was a little tender mercy that I am truly grateful for!  After getting to see a little of Alex the man, and not just the YouTube sensation, it made me so happy that my kids adore him because he is someone they can admire both on and even more importantly, off the stage.    

Our evening concert was even better than the first!  We worked out a few bugs and although a few new ones popped up I didn't completely ruin an entire song by myself this time.  :)  

I love that this photo is of my favorite song from the concert to play, Peponi.

I think I had more fun during these concerts than I've ever had on stage before.  I was just having a blast!  I was touched, I was teary (the Star Spangled Banner gets me every time!) and I got to get down and groove!  Look out for his single "Lemonade" that's coming out next month!  We played that as our encore and it brought down the house!  You'll love it! 

It was just over a year ago I sat in a Seattle Symphony concert and thought that it would sure be fun to do something like that.  I never thought I would ever get to do something like that.  Dreams can come true people.  Yesterday was one of those days that I will forever look back on as one of the special ones!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Stress magnifies insecurities.

I had this whole blog post typed out listing why July is going to be a super stressful month for me, how I'm sure everyone I'm working with thinks I'm doing a horrible job, and how I'm tired just thinking about it and how I feel guilty that I can't handle as much as most people and blah, blah, blah.  As I looked back on what I read I realized it was one huge, giant, whine fest that I'm sure no one wants to read, although I'm sure a handful of you sweet people would and would leave a super encouraging comment at the end.  

Basically, I'm worried I won't be able to live up to all the commitments I've made.

I'm not talking about just the activities I'm involved in: Symphony concert this weekend, church Girls Camp, youth Pioneer Trek, Cousins Camp, Cub Scout Day Camp, Virtue Conference, our house getting roofed and painted, etc.

Although the most time consuming parts of my commitments, I realize that those are really just check-marks on a list and if I look past them I see my true concerns.  They aren't as easy to pin down, and they aren't as easy to tell if I've accomplished my goals.  They include things like:

  • Am I focusing on the wrong priorities by leaving my kids two weeks in a row to help out at youth camps?  
  • Am I going to appropriately focus on the things that keep me grounded (scripture reading, prayer, personal development) this month?  I recognize that most of the month is in the service of others, but if I do not refill myself I have nothing to offer others. 
These items certainly are not a comprehensive list, but it's adequate to show what concerns truly lie under it all.

I've had a few meltdowns.  The most dramatic one is probably when I e-mailed my Ensign Symphony & Chorus president and music director and basically said "I don't think anyone likes me!"  Okay, not really, I said that I felt like I wasn't doing my job well and if they agreed they were welcome to replace me with no guilt.  They both responded and said "We all feel like that at times, you're fine, buck up."  Of course, in much nicer and encouraging terms.  

Isn't it interesting how the worst part of stress is really how it magnifies our insecurities about ourselves?  

My poor husband:  He has been my supporter, my crazy-barometer, and at times, the venting post.  He's been treating me far better than I've been treating him. 

I hope that by the end of the month I can say I've conducted myself in a way that is constant to not only my current character, but in alignment with the long term goals of my character.  

That should be easy, right?  

Friday, June 27, 2014

Do I want to run a marathon?

If you read my title and sang it in your mind to the song "Do you want to build a snowman?" then you read it correctly.  

Race photos are deceptive.  I keep looking at my race photos from the half marathon this past weekend.  Sure, there are some that make me look like I'm dying, I'm pretty sure race photographers specialize in that type of photo, but there are some that actually look like I'm having fun!  Well, there are one or two of me yelling at Lynette too...

But they are deceiving me into thinking that the half was fun!  What?  I'm sure my brain forgot that I hate long distances!  That's why I've sworn off marathons forever!  To add to my photographic mind games my brain has been drawn to old pictures of me (old meaning last summer when I was actually training hard) where I look so strong.

Between actually having fun at a half marathon, and missing that fitness level it has me thinking crazy things!

Maybe I actually do want to run another marathon!

I mean, sure, we all knew this was coming eventually, but is it actually here?  Maybe.

The desire to train again has been slowly coming back, but do I have enough of it?  I'm terrified that I'll burn out again and that will be the end of my running forever!  I haven't even started doing speed work again yet, so adding long runs (meaning more than about 8, I've been lazy lately) to the wouldn't be smart quite yet.  

Step one - Add speed work back into my training
Step two - actually commit and pay for a race 
Step three - freak out and ask myself if that's really what I want to do
Step four - buckle down and actually train hard because I'm terrified of marathons and do not want to fail again

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Brooks Glycerin 12 Review

You guys, I'm a complete sucker for running shoes.  I can't stop.  I love them so much!  

But seriously, look at these kicks!  

Runners know that you're supposed to buy a shoe for fit/feel first and looks second, or even lower depending on your priority list.  So when my absolute favorite shoe in the world comes in awesome colors I squeal inside like some adolescent would squeal at whoever the popular person young people are squealing at these days.  (Yeah, I'm 80 inside.  I'm resigned to that fact.)

Seriously though, the Brooks Glycerin 11's were my absolute favorite shoe I had ever tried up until that point.  I think the Brook's Ghost is still listed as my favorite shoe on my gear page, and I still use the Ghost a lot, but my favorite shoe is really the Glycerin.  The Ghost and the Glycerin have a lot of similarities and the best description I've heard to describe the difference between the two came from a Brook's rep last year when he told me "The Ghost is like a Toyota, reliable, dependable, and a great car, but it doesn't compare to the comfort and amenities of a Cadillac."  And yeah, unfortunately the price reflects that. 

I've worn a lot of different types of shoes over the years.  I even went full on minimal for awhile and wore vibrams.  I've tried enough different types of support in shoes that I've learned what I really like.  As a forefoot/midfoot striker I recognize that I look for different things in shoes than most people.  In running shoes most cushioning is in the heel, which is great for most people, but it doesn't matter at all to me.  I don't care what kind of drop is on my shoes, I don't care what kind of curved heel they invent that promises a smooth transition, I hardly even put weight on my heels.  See tread wear from an old retired pair of shoes below (the Glycerin 11's)

Heels, hardly touched, forefoot, trashed.  

Since most of the padding is in the heel and not so much in the forefoot I tend to run through shoes faster than most people.  So the difference between the Toyota model and the Cadillac model is huge for me.  I can run in them longer, they are a lot more comfortable, and I am much happier in them.

These are hands down my favorite shoes ever!

Now - what else is involved that makes these shoes awesome?  

  • Parts of the shoe are constructed with using a 3D printer so there are minimal seams.  If you are someone with bunions you'll love not having that annoying seam there.  Plus saying something used a 3D printer just makes it automatically sound more awesome.
  • I love that they don't have the midsole post.  It makes the shoe really quiet and super smooth as you transition through the push-off (and yes, even as a forefoot/midfoot striker I still notice the smoothness of the push-off)
  • Again with the midsole post, it makes them super duper quiet.  I have a quiet stride anyway and am often scaring people on the trail as I "sneak" up behind them.  These shoes help my effort to scare the socks off people.  Okay, that's not the real reason, but I do love how quiet they are. 
  • This shoe isn't the lightest, but the newest edition is only 9.1 ounces, as opposed to the 11's which were 9.6
  • The colors!  Scroll back up and drool over those shoes again!  Seriously!  
  • If you are a heel striker the curved heel really does help you have a smooth and straight transition from heel to toe.
  • Just FYI - This is a neutral shoe and although I absolutely adore it for training runs I do opt for a lighter shoe when I'm racing (ie the Brooks PureConnect, Brooks T-7, Brooks ST-5).  

Obviously I'm a total shoe nerd.  

Although the 12's have been updated with a few things, the ride felt the same to me and I can tell I'm going to love the 12's as much, or more, than I do the 11's.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different

I am amazed at how well I have recovered from the race on Saturday!  I felt great day of, but I was fully expecting it all to hit me and to hobble out of bed the next morning.  I am getting a lot better at forcing myself to eat in those moments after the race where food doesn't quite sound good yet and I am sure that's really aiding my relatively quick recovery.  Of course, taking the race at a pace that didn't really push me helps a lot too!  There is a part of me that wonders what I could have done if I had tried, but mostly I'm so relieved to see that I am not as out of shape as I thought I was and that things that once were easy for me are still manageable.  It goes to show that years of maintaining fitness where a half marathon is no big deal has paid off because I'm pretty sure it was muscle memory that carried me through!

Now on to the the topic of my thoughts today, which is a completely different in every way.  It's times like these I wish I was a writer and could articulate my thoughts accurately.  I'm realizing that it's a real talent to be able to take the thoughts that make sense in your head and turn them into something that other people, with different thinking styles and patters, understand.

A few weeks ago I finally read The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, a book that has been recommended to me multiple times by many people.  There were a lot of things I highlighted as I read the book, but the line that stands out the most to me, the line I just cannot stop thinking about is actually not from the book itself but from the preface:
"Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good."
The quote stood out initially as I read it because I wasn't sure I agreed with it.  As a Christian I am continually striving to become more like Christ (By the way, I recently read this article about the character of Christ.  I loved it because if I could articulate myself that well that's something I would want to say, I've been thinking about it for years.).  If we are continually striving to become more like Christ, doesn't that mean that we are more the same?

That's where I got hung up in my thinking.  I mean, we all have very distinct personalities, strengths and weaknesses.  What is the point of having distinct personalities if we are all supposed to end up the same?  I don't want to end up the same as everyone else!  I want to be me!  The scriptures talk a lot about the necessity of cultivating our own talents and strengths.  How can we cultivate our talents and strengths and still become more like Christ?

I realized that we are asked to become like Christ.  Meaning we are pure, we are charitable, we are obedient, and all the other qualities associated with Christ, but we get to accomplish that goal by using our own set of talents and our own strengths and through the effort of overcoming our own weaknesses.  This doesn't mean I get to make up my own rules along the way, but this does mean there are a lot of ways of accomplishing the same good within the safety guidelines set forth by Christ. We are asked to become like Christ, not a xerox copy of him.

Becoming Christlike means that we are using his model to filter out our weaknesses and imperfections.  That means the more Christlike I strive to be the more I distill myself down to the pure Amy, which since it will be me and no other person I will be even more distinct as an individual as I am now.
"Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good."
I find as I remove my imperfections and turn my weaknesses into strengths I become even more comfortable with who I am and like myself even more!  No need to point out all my imperfections, I recognize I have a long way to go, but I hope I haven't made it 31 years of my life without making at least a little progress!

As I strive to become a more pure, Christlike, form of myself I find it interesting what it does to my relationships.  It almost seems like the more me I become, the fewer friends I have.  Some of them I've drifted away from, others have drifted away from me, very few of them have been sudden or have a specific reason that I can put a finger on.  It's strange, sad, and occasionally painful, to watch people you truly care about drift away for one reason or another.  They will always be people I care about and love, and there is nothing wrong with them, but their process of becoming their true selves has taken them in a different direction than mine.
"Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good."
Does this mean that we all end up lonely?  Not at all!  I am discovering the friendships that continue, and the new ones I make along the way become stronger and deeper.  Their true selves have similarities to my true self and so the bond is even deeper.  They may be fewer in number, but they mean more.  I'm discovering that strong people, even two strong women, can be friends without feeling threatened by the others strength when the strength of the individual is based on internal strength and not external motivations.  These friends are people who see my true self, and possibly can see it even before I can, and are excited as I discover it.

Christ was a true individual.  He didn't act like anybody else on earth, he didn't talk like anybody else on earth, and he wasn't swayed by what anybody else on earth thought he should be.  His strength came from his relationship with his Father and from his own knowledge of who he truly was.  As I strive to achieve the same thing I find myself drawn closer to Christ in all things.  Christ is one of those friends who is excited as I discover who I truly am and what I'm truly capable of.  His strength doesn't have to be intimidating or threatening to me, and I know he doesn't feel threatened by me becoming stronger myself.
"Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good."


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Hotel Pool's, Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon 2014, Fire!

Check out my latest post here!

What a whirlwind weekend it has been!  We packed up on Thursday morning and headed up to Seatac.  It's not your normal vacation destination, but Vaughn had a training meeting in the Mariott there and so with a free hotel room and no school to prevent us we decided to join the fun!  The hotel we were at had the best hotel pool I've ever seen!

You can't see it in the picture, but it was an indoor pool, but it didn't feel like it.  It was amazing.  

The best part about the vacation was that it made Thursday night's symphony rehearsal a short drive!  On the way back to the hotel I saw this:

I felt like it was just foreshadowing the future weekend events.  

The next morning the kids were up and begging to go to the pool at 7:00 AM.  

I held them off until 8, but it was tough.  Once we got there we didn't leave the pool for four and a half hours!  

I'm pretty sure if we had a pool or lived on a lake we would never, ever get out.  

Bless Vaughn for having a boring conference so we could have two days of fun in a hotel!  

After his conference was done the kids and Vaughn headed back home, but April picked me up and we continued North up to Seattle.  Saturday morning we had a fun adventure ahead!  

My 6th Rock 'n' Roll Seattle!  This was my 5th time doing the half (obviously that means I've done the full there once).  It was a PERFECT day!  Since I am out of shape and was fully expecting to completely collapse around mile 8 I met up with my friends Lynette and Karrie!  Lynette was dying to break the two hour mark, and I told her I would keep up with her as long as I could before I she ditched me (I really had no handle on my current fitness at all!  So strange for me!).  

We got started and were going strong.  We lost Karrie along the way, but Lynette and I were keeping a fantastic pace.  She mentioned that she needed to make a porta potty stop - and I was so relieved!  (Ha, get it?  Yeah, I'm lame.)  Unfortunately we waited in line longer than we would have liked and watched her goal time slip right by us!  

I knew then that the 2:00 window was out, but that didn't mean we couldn't still run that pace even if the official clock doesn't exclude porta potty breaks.  

At an out and back section we ran into Karrie again and she looked great!  

She was nursing a niggle in her hamstring so she just ran by feel and did a fabulous job!  

April was volunteering at one of the water stops, so I made sure to catch a quick stop with one of my best workout buddies ever! 

For me the miles zoomed by!  I couldn't believe how great I was feeling!  Even though I have run much faster half marathons before I don't think one has ever gone by this quickly for me mentally!  I found myself spending a lot of time looking over my shoulder to make sure I hadn't lost Lynette.  Luckily she told me she's the type of runner that needs someone a step or two ahead to keep up with, otherwise I would have felt like the worst pacer ever.  I just kept feeling the urge to stretch the stride out and get back in the groove!  

I probably drove Lynette crazy in the last few miles!  I kept saying all sorts of crazy stuff to try and keep her motivated to not drop the pace.  She did a great job!  Other than the split that included our restroom stop we ran almost even splits the entire way.  And again, I couldn't believe how quickly it seemed to fly by!  

I was seriously SHOCKED when we got to the end!  I can't believe how strong and awesome I felt the entire time!  Yeah, I'm bummed that we didn't get that sub 2 for Lynette, but I am thrilled with how amazing I felt, especially considering my complete lack of training.  I don't think I've run over 5 miles in about 6 months.  I think on my own I would have been able to handle at least a 1:50 pace physically, but I think it was running the race with the mind frame that I was "taking care of" Lynette is what really made it fly by and I wouldn't have had that on my own.  

Lynette, Karrie and I reunited at the finish!  

I am seeing more and more inklings that my desire to train is coming back.  I am not going to hop right into a strenuous training program like I previously might have been inclined to.  I want to make sure it's really what I want and not just a habit, and as I said before I'm not willing to put it quite as high on the priority list as it was before.  But there really was a part of me that was starting to worry that I wouldn't ever want to train again, and I can't tell you how relieved I am that I no longer thing that will be the case!

I also ran into my friend Tana, who ROCKED it with a brand spankin' new PR, even with a bum knee!

It was such a phenomenal race!  I seriously considered bailing on the race because of my lack of training, but mostly my lack of confidence, but I am so glad I didn't!  

After I got home I had less than an hour for a quick shower before I had to head to a meeting that ended up being 3 hours long!  Blerg!  Tough on the mind, but they served food so I was satisfied physically!  Salty Corn Nuts have never tasted so good!  (It was a meeting about a camping pioneer trek we are planning for the youth of our church so we got trail food.)

When I got home my new beautiful Brooks Glycerin 12's were waiting for me!  

I was hoping they would get here in time for me to wear them in the race, but I missed them by just a couple hours on Thursday.  I am so excited to try them out next week!  The Glycerin 11 has been my absolute favorite shoe ever of all time, and so I can't wait to see how the new slightly lighter and sleeker 12's compare!  I'll keep you posted!

So what did Vaughn and the kids do while I was running and in my super long meeting?  

Never fear, we are not callous people who don't know when it is appropriate to take a smiling photo!  That is not our home, nor is it the home of anyone we know, or anyone at all for that matter!  Vaughn's brother is a fire commissioner so he told the boys about a training that was happening at a vacant house.

And yes, they had as much fun as I did!