Monday, January 31, 2011

Buck up Buttercup

I hope that all of you reading are sore and gushing with pride from all the hard work that you have put into your fitness goals so far this year- the turn of 2011 was just what you needed to get your bum into gear and get to WORK- whether it's losing weight, getting healthy, or striving for an athletic goal.

This month has been a failure for me- the "opposite" effect of a New Years resolution.  My body has been in "slug-mode" for so long, and perhaps the daunting task ahead scared me off; I have a very important athletic goal this year: A time goal, a personal best, at my "A" race in November this year.  I want this goal SO BAD, I've dreamed of it for so long.  I have also decided that once I achieve this goal, it will be time to turn my attention to a different plan I have for life... so  I've really put the pressure on this year.

I put all the ducks in a row- I have access to all the fitness equipment I need (AWESOME new Kestrel bike, computrainer at home, treadmill at work, several swimming pools in town), I have a TEAM to motivate me  and GREAT sponsors (see left side of blog!) to help me along the way, and I'm even working with an AMAZING coach who can GET me to where I want to go.

All I have to do is put one foot in front of the other, and GET the training done.  simple as that.  But I'm racking my brain and soul as to WHY I can't get it done.

I've searched my soul:  Is this really what I want?  If it seems like such a chore, why am I doing it?...good question.  You know what, it IS what I want.  If I do NOT accomplish this goal, I will regret not doing the work for it for the rest of my life.  I also am reminded of some great workouts, races, travel, and PEOPLE (aka my husband and friends) that triathlon has brought into my life, and I know that I'm just going through a phase right now.

As weird as this sounds, I feel like sometimes I skip workouts because they are selfish, and that I need to be spending that time doing other things that are "more productive", like work.  I need to get out of this mindset, and take my workouts just as seriously as my day-job:  I will be more energized, happy, and productive!  Also, my workouts and my goal isn't just for me, it's for the people that love and support me, and who the next "life plan" might affect :)

I have read some great blogs recently on women who, like me, are struggling to balance it all- but they are TOUGH, FAST women who GET IT DONE.  Check out these AWESOME posts by super mom/athlete/coach Jen Harrison (my coach!), another TOUGH athlete/coach/new mom Elizabeth Waterstraat, and my Trakkers teammate Megan Killian.  I know that everyone has a tough schedule, whether it be work, activities, kids, etc.- I am having a hard time adjusting to mine (I'm still a newbie at this "real-world" thing)

 I am very lucky to have a great job and work with some awesome people - I teach classes (3 anatomy labs, 1 family health and wellness, 1 contemporary health issues) part-time at a university in exercise-health related fields (how cool is that?).   I also work part time in the exercise physiology lab-DREAM JOB!  Every semester I've worked there the lab has gotten busier with clients coming in for fitness testing (bodpod, resting and exercise metabolism, sensewear armband analysis, VO2max) AND with students doing their internships under my supervision AND students/faculty doing some really cool research!  I LOVE working in the lab, and I hope that it can eventually become "full-time".  It's a busy but fun schedule!

Needless to say, it's hard to fit in workouts, especially when I'm on-the-go all day either teaching or with clients so by the time I get caught up with emails, phone calls, reports, lesson-planning, grading, it's 7-8PM.  And it's REAALLY hard for me to work out after 8PM.  Even harder to get up at 5AM.

On top of that, my husband just deployed (1-year tour) and there are a few other major issues going on with loved ones, and I am very emotionally drained.  Add on the stresses of daily living - my house, my dog, bills, etc. ....and you have one tired, stressed-out girl.

Buck up buttercup.  THIS is the real rodeo- get some skills and HANG ON!  I will LEARN how to play this game, or die trying ;)

January, I learned what I was dealing with.  I tested the ride out, and I got thrown off, again and again.  Many times I didn't even get on (excuses).  But February, I know what's coming.  I KNOW the tired, drained, unmotivated, so-easy-to-bring-in-an-excuse feeling, and I will FIGHT it.  I don't expect to "win" this month, but hopefully I'll learn a few tips and tricks to stay in the saddle.

EVERYONE has good, legitimate excuses to not put in the work (miss workouts) to reach their goal.  Even me.  But please, don't tell me that it's "OK"... it will NOT be okay if I miss my goal by :02 because I didn't put the WORK in.  In my race, no one will care about or "give me a break" due my work schedule, my personal life, my I need to GET IT DONE.

My next move:
-Time Management: Only work until 5:45PM.  This works out well, since "doggie day-care" closes at 6PM.  I may have to be more strict with client scheduling to do this, I may have to work more weekend hours, but it will be worth it!  After that, straight to workout by 7PM- NO BREAK, otherwise I'm done.  Any additional work that HAS to be done can be completed later at night.
-Get. my. butt. out. of. bed.  Life is better after a cup of coffee anyway.  Don't think, just do. caffeine and workout.
-Prioritizing at work: What HAS to be done vs. What could be be done tomorrow.  I try to do everything at once, all in a day.  I will delegate responsibilities when I can (I am lucky enough to work with an amazing graduate assistant!!)
- Get as much lesson-planning done on the weekends as I can, as least the next week's worth.
- I will "dedicate" each workout to a special person in my life...then my workouts REALLY won't seem selfish~ I can't let my people down :)  Let me know what kind of workout you want me to dedicate to YOU this month!

What tips do you have for fitting workouts in, and getting the motivation to do so, on a busy schedule?

I'm in for a wild ride :)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1-Year Anniversary Trip: Washington DC

Thursday 12/30
Last stop!  Another long bus ride later (thank YOU Virgin Mobile Hotspot), and we landed at our final destination, Washington DC.  We stayed at a Marriott, and it was across the street from the "Spy Museum" - COOL!  Upon arrival, the staff greeted us and offered a free upgraded room (Jacuzzi suite) because it was our ANNIVERSARY!  A+ customer service!  As we got settled in, there was a knock at the door- they delivered a bottle of red WINE of course!!  :)  

Dan has a thing for attempting to eat at as many different Hard Rock Cafe's as possible, so that was our choice for dinner on Thursday.  We met another young couple - the guy was attending law school at Georgetown, and they were engaged to be married within a year!  It was fun talking to them about wedding planning, etc.  :)

Friday 12/31  ***ANNIVERSARY DAY! ***
Definitely worth the trip- we did the traditional tour.  A tad bit disappointed- Dan had called Senator Dick Durbin's office and them reserve us a spot- which is what he was told to do when he called and asked about the tours.  This was not necessary at all.  However, if someone from the Senator's office actually GAVE us the tour, we would have been able to go up in the dome, walk outside and get an amazing view of our nation's capitol.  FYI...
We also made a quick stop at the Library of Congress, weren't too impressed, so we moved on.
Second stop: The Pentagon
Way cool.  They didn't want you to take pictures from the outside.  Super topsecret.  We didn't go inside- it was "off-season" so nobody was able to give us tours (Dan had already seen it once or twice when he went to DC for Army NG stuff).  Luckily, we were able to visit another 9/11 Memorial site at the Pentagon.
Breathtaking.  Every little detail of the site contained so much meaning, memory, and symbolism.  
Lunch:  California Pizza Kitchen.  Best.  Salad.  Ever.

Next Stop:  Arlington Cemetary
Stunning.  Endless rows of white graves.  The whole place is massive- they had directions, arrows, trolley rides, just HUGE.  It also winds up a huge hill- too bad there is a sign for "no jogging", it would be a GREAT place for hill repeats :)
We made it to the "top" to see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  In case you don't know what that it is, check it out.  In summary, one unidentified or "unknown" soldier was buried from World I, World II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War mean to represent ALL of the unknown soldiers.  There is one large tombstone or "sarcophagus" directly above the World War I soldier, while the other 3 are buried in crypts right next to it. Crazy Fact: In 1998, the body of the Vietnam Soldier was exhumed and IDENTIFIED. They did not replace the body, so now the symbolic tomb lies empty with a face-up penny in it!  
What's REALLY cool, is that there is a special group of army soldiers soldiers called "sentinels", who guard the unknown soldiers 24/7.  YES, 24 HOURS A DAY.  There has been someone guarding the unknown solders every single second since July 1, 1937.  Different shifts has haven been implemented since the 1920's, but since 1937, the sentinel's work a "fireman's shift" and rotate the guard every 30minutes -2 hours, depending on the season and time of day.
During cemetary hours, they are in dress uniform, very formal, and have a very strict system. They have been trained in every detail, from the shine on their shoes the length of their pants, the expression on their faces, the 21 steps that they take on the mat, the 21-second pauses, their wet gloves...every SINGLE detail is important, and they have undergone very rigorous training to "make the cut".  At the end of their shift,  there is a "changing of the guard", a formal ceremony worth seeing.
After we saw this, we got a special opportunity to actually MEET the sentinels and see their  living quarters (while they are on shift)!!  It definitely helped that Dan is in the military and deploying soon...this was definitely a highlight of our trip.  We learned a LOT about their training, the strict rules and dress code that they adhere to, etc... these guys are HARDCORE!  No more pics or info about this out of respect :)

 On our way back to the hotel, we stopped and saw:
I can't wait wait to come back to DC and spend at LEAST 2-3 full days there- there is so much MORE to do and see! Finally it was time to get ready for my BIG surprise:  Dan booked us a special trip on a dinner/dance cruise down the Potomac for our anniversary/NYE!!!  I love LoVe LOVE my husband!
We had a PERFECT evening- so romantic and FUN!  The all-inclusive food and drink package was GREAT, the DJ's were awesome, The boat was beautiful, the staff was a lot of fun, we had a blast chatting, drinking, and dancing with our couples, but best of all we had so much fun all dressed up and spending time with each other!  My husband always looks GOOD, but I was reminded of just how SEXY he is!  :)
It was a perfect way to ring in 2011 and celebrate our first anniversary.  I'm looking at our wedding album next to our picture from the dinner cruise, and I can't WAIT for our next anniversary together, and I'm REALLY excited to look at photos from our first 5, 10, 30, 50 year anniversaries!

I hope and hope and pray that we will be able to be with each other on our second anniversary... but I guess maybe not being together would be memorable in itself...

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1-Year Anniversary Trip: Atlantic City

Wednesday 12/29 
The morning after we galavanted around NYC, we got up early again to train-ride it to Atlantic City.  We got there in the afternoon and for lunch decided to go to the Caesar's Casino buffet, since the restaurant at hotel (Trump Plaza) was closed! 

After lunch, we moseyed over to the casino and we saw some fuss going on- we found out that Caesar's was calling 3 names on the hour of people who used their Player's Card at the Casino, and they got the chance to spin a big wheel for a chance to earn big cash prizes!  GET THIS:  We watch this guy go up, and he was being so bland and "I don't care about this blah blah blah", and guess what?  He spins "VAULT", so now he gets to go in the money vault! 

In the clear, enclosed little room, it is decorated like a "bank vault" and there are shelves with several stacks of gold bars.  The objective of this game was to grab and carry out as MANY bars as you can in 10 seconds- each gold bar has a sticker with a dollar value on the bottom, and you WIN all the money on the gold bars that you are able to hold and carry out-if you drop it, it DOESN'T COUNT.

So she asks him "WOW!!! What are you going to do with all the money you are going to win?!?!" In the most apathetic, bored voice he replies "uuuuuh....don't know."

So the timer goes OFF, and everybody is cheering and counting down, "10-9-8..." and this guy just strolls in, picks a few bars up, drops even more, then apathetically walks out of the vault .  He made us SO mad because he was sooo apathetic and bored with this "game" that could potentially win him 10,000+ !!  

So she starts looking at the stickers at the bottom of bars- "$25! $25! $25! $50! $25!"...these stickers were red and green.  Then, she saw turned the last one over, and it was an opaque, shimmery color...she consulted the girl announcing.  They consulted the security guard guy. Then they announce, "HE JUST WON $10,000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" 

Oh.My.Gosh.   This guy?  Really?

He acted all "whatever' at first.  Then, once he realized this was for real based on everybody's faces and people asking for his identification, etc.  he got this stupid grin on his face and was all-of-the-sudden a really happy and cheery guy.


Needless to say, Dan and I planned on going there for lunch, and we ended up staying there, and PLAYING there, until 8PM, hoping they would call our names so we could get a chance to spin the wheel!!  Excellent marketing strategy....until some random dude wins $10,000 in front of our faces.  But we lost a little money (the Sex and City slot Machine game is soooooo FUN though!!! I LIVE for Bonus games!  All That Glitters is another fun slot machine with bonus games woo hoo!!) - spent way too much money on drinks (REALLY strong martinis for me) - had a great dinner at the Rainforest Cafe - checked out the Boardwalk - and slept sooo good after another fun-filled day together!  :)

I didn't take any pictures today- wonder why?

We didn't stay for long though, the next afternoon we had ANOTHER train to catch - to Washington DC!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1-Year Anniversary Trip: NYC

The last month has been busy busy....Christmas Break was only 3 weeks long (TWO for faculty/staff) which was a bummer - I would really like an extra week to catch my breath!

Right after Christmas, Dan and I went on a trip for our first anniversary together :)  We decided to head Northeast (in December?  I still question that decision).  Our first planned destination was NYC...but in case you don't remember, it got SLAMMED with snow.  

SUNDAY 12/26 
While driving up to Chicago, we learn that our flight with American Airlines for Monday afternoon flight to NYC ended up getting cancelled.  Once we got to my parents' house, Dan, my Mom, and I spent 1.5 hrs + online searching for other options to get to NYC.  After being on hold for an hour (can't blame them), a very cheery AA employee helped us reschedule a Harrisburg Pennsylvania.  Dan found train tickets that would take us NYC, so we were set.  we would be 20 hours behind schedule, but oh well.

That night my Mom was awesome enough to give us an anniversary present of a night in the hotel where we had our wedding reception!  It was the first time I had been in there since we got married, so it was awesome to bring back memories.  Mom, Dan and I, my brother Don, and maid of honor Adrienne and I had a great time drinking and laughing at the hotel bar and in the room.  My mom left a bottle of champagne for us to share once everybody left!  Thanks!

Monday 12/27
We got to enjoy the cozy hotel room and breakfast for the morning, since our flight to PA wasn't until 8PM or so that evening.  We didn't check out of the hotel until 2PM, then we spent time with my family, then headed on our trip!
Here we come!
The flight was uneventful- I bought Dan an IPad for Christmas and we also have a Wifi hotspot so that helped with airport waiting!  We finally got to our hotel really late- midnight? and we had to get up and catch a really early train (7AM).  One awful thing about the whole trip is that I was the sickest that I have been in years...not a "stay in bed all day" sick, but a "my throat hurts so bad but I can't stop coughing!" sick.  I managed to keep it under control for the most part, but I didn't sleep well- however, with lots to see and do it wasn't missed much!.

Tuesday 12/28
Early train ride to NYC ~ 2.5-3 hrs

I usually do NOT play video games...but I got addicted to Sims3 for iphone.  Excellent for long boring travel and waiting :)

It was INTERESTING to see NYC this time of year...SLOSHY SLOSHY!

When we left the train station to get a cab, it was freezing outside (duh), and there was probably a 1-hr wait to get a cab.  Dan suggested that we walk the ~1 mi.  I wasn't thrilled, but it was definitely the best option.  By the time we got back to our hotel, our pants and shoes were soaked!!  I should really  find some cute rubber boots!

We stayed at the Crown Plaza, which was so beautiful and modern! It also has a health club in it with a lap pool- it's short but it would be great if you had swims on the schedule!  I was still in off-season, so I did not take advantage of it :)

We relaxed for a little bit then went out to explore.  First stop, Times Square:
We had a perfect lunch at this cafe with a create your own salad with endless toppings (helloooo sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and artichokes!) Then got a move-on to my site of choice: Central Park!

So cool that such a beautiful park is in the middle of a city

Snow snow snow!  The paths weren't paved- they were just packed-down snow.  People everywhere were sledding and building snowmen

 Even though it was cold, it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, and there was so much fun and happiness around us!

We went to the Central Park Zoo- totally worth the trip! Snow Monkeys, Polar Bears, a nice break from the cold in the Amazon Jungle, and of course, Sea Lions!  They were practically going over the ledge to try and see us!

Snow in the subway

After Central Park we had a frustrating time trying to get a cab- GEEZ!! Even within a sea of yellow, We could not get a cab for the life of us.  So we booked it to the subway so we could go see the 9-11 memorial

Now walking around NYC at night, we were able to see the awesome skylines at night.  We saw the Construction site for the new WTC, and visited the Tribute WTC. It had several stunning exhibits, included a large photographic timeline of events that occurred that day.  I feel like a trip to NYC isn't complete without visiting that.  There were also memorials honoring police and fireman on the streets surrounding the WTC- very powerful.

The New WTC looks stunning- there will be 5 new skyscrapers, an 8-acre park surrounding the two foundations of the original towers, and there will be 30-ft waterfalls cascading into the foundations, with the names of the 3000 victims surrounding them.  It scheduled to be completed and open on September 11 THIS YEAR- wow.

This aspect of the trip was great for us, because as many of you know, Dan is deploying to Iraq with his Army National Guard unit.  He has always wanted to go and have his opportunity to serve, but seeing this really opened MY eyes to the awesome and selfless acts my husband, and the rest of the US military will do for us!

Another subway ride back (which btw, EACH PERSON has to have their own pass, you can't share a pass, even if there is enough money on it...grrr) and we enjoyed a few drinks and appetizers at the classy bar in our hotel- very romantic :)

There was a Hawkeye game on TV, so we went to a recommended bar/lounge- it was so fun, but I was sooo sleepy from a not a lot of sleep, being sick, and very fun/eventful day!  When we got back to the hotel, we packed up and cozied up in the big comfortable bed- the next morning we had another early train to catch to Atlantic City!