Monday, 31 January 2011

Back to basics


It’s the end of the month—time to see how I did on my January goals.

(1) Run a New Year’s Day race – CHECK.
(2) Lose 5 pounds – FAIL. My scale is a bit dodgy. In the space of a minute, it gave me four different weights. I could have lost two pounds or gained two pounds. I’m taking the average and calling it a draw.
(3) Complete two chapters – CHECK ...on the quantity. Not so much the quality, but that’s what editing is for, right?
(4) do a 13.1 mile walk/run – BIG. FAT. FAIL. Especially considering my total January running mileage was a whopping 14 miles. Sweet baby Jesus, that’s sad.

So I end up with a 50% completion rate on my January goals. Add in that I scored a job this month too and that racks it up to 1050% which means I win a treat of my choosing. And I choose to get a spa facial. It also helps that I can get a facial at a mondo discount in February since it’s the low season or whatever for that type of stuff. Sweet.

I’m bummed that I didn’t run a half marathon distance this month, but I didn’t set out a proper plan to get in the appropriate training to run that distance so it’s not a surprise.

Things will be different for my February goals. I’m going to have to put aside training for the half marathon distance. I’ll be starting my job in April which means I have a month less to complete my dissertation. I’ll be working longer hours until then so getting in long long-runs is just not an option. And with my current shite level of fitness, 13.1 miles would sadly take me almost three hours to complete. Crickey.

My two goals for February are:

(1) Run three times per week
(2) Keep a daily food journal

I need to get back into a healthy routine that will fit into my rather daunting work schedule for the next two months, hence these goals. The point of the food journaling is to remind myself when I’ve eaten my treat for the day and to put down that enticing Cadbury creme egg and back away slowly.

In addition to my own runs, I’m also running the Couch to 5K program with a friend. She’s hit a plateau with her weight loss recently and was getting frustrated. Since I need a reminder of why I love to run, I offered to do the program with her. We did Week 1 Day 1 this morning and she did a great job. I was the time-keeper so I sneakily added in an extra running repetition. I told her afterward and she was really chuffed at how well she did. We’re set to run Day 2 on Wednesday.

So that’s the situation here in Xenia-land. I hope you are all doing well and staying warm. Catch up with you when I can.

Later gators.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Exposing myself

Thank you all for the kind words on the last post. Oddly enough, the reality of it still hasn’t hit me. Probably because I still have yet to discuss the actual details with my new boss. That should be sometime today, I believe.

Yesterday I finally cracked and went for my first run in just over two weeks—a simple three miler. There was A LOT of rust to knock off—lots of phantom twinges and my legs felt like lead. My time for that run was god awful, but that’s to be expected with the lack of any kind of training over the last few months.

Today I’m actually a bit sore from the run, mostly my thighs and calves but it’s not bad. Just a reminder that I need to get off my ass more often.

Since I have nothing else of interest to say, I thought I’d appease the Grand Poobah Nitmos and help perpetuate his internet meme. He showed us his, so now it’s time for me to show you mine.

No, not like that, pervs.

Here’s my home 'office'.

The desk and chair I inherited from my friend Canadia when she moved. The desk is a bit too tall for the chair so I have to sit on my folded up quilt so my arms don’t fall asleep while I’m typing. I know that probably doesn’t make sense to you guys, but it does to me.

This little stand came with the apartment. Since my desk is really only a table, I purchased some baskets and then shoved my office supplies in them. My printer-scanner is also on the stand, on top of which I put my eyeglass case (no idea why) and various cords. That’s my file container and a small storage bin under the desk which I put my feet on sometimes. There’s not a huge amount of space in my flat so that’s the only place it can go really.

The books, articles and random notes I need to consult on a frequent basis piled on my table since my desk cannot handle the load (that’s what she said).

Totally interesting, right? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

Anyhoo, that’s it from me. Hope those experiencing arctic temperatures get a reprieve from Old Man Winter soon. Stay warm, everyone!

Later gators.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Holding my breath wasn't such a good idea

You weren't the only ones who had to wait an extra three days to find out the news. My weekend was a bit of a mess to say the least. Ironically, the long-awaited email was sent to me today when I had just left the house for a run.

I got the job!

This means I'll be living in England a bit longer. I'll also be moving to a new town at some point. I still have to hash out the details with my new employer. Oh, and I still need to finish my dissertation.

Better get on that.

Thank you all for your patience and support. I really appreciate it.

Much love,
-X

Thursday, 20 January 2011

With bated breath

My future is being decided tomorrow. That’s when I find out if I got the job or not. Until then I’ve got a chapter draft to finish, a flat to clean, clothes to wash, some running to finally do and my sanity to find.

Or I can continue to freak out whilst staring at the wall.

It’s a toss up really.

Please think happy employment thoughts for me. And since I need all the good karma I can get right now, I’d like to ask that you also help out Georgia Snail’s very deserving sister and her wonderful fiancée have a chance at winning an all expenses paid wedding. Go here for details.

Later gators.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Dualled

Besides finishing my dissertation and obtaining gainful employment, I’ve had another major issue to worry myself silly over—deportation.

My student visa expires at the end of this month and the money-grubbing English government wanted hundreds of pounds for me to extend the damn thing for a few months. My response? Hell to the NO!

As I mentioned once a long time ago, I’m actually a dual citizen. This was officially obtained in 2007, but I needed to apply separately for a passport. Obtaining a passport hadn’t been a big priority then since I had my student visa at that time. Obviously now my situation has changed, especially since there is a possibility of me staying in the UK to work.

In September, I contacted the embassy to set up an appointment for my passport application. They called back and gave me an appointment in November. So off to London I went in mid-November. The process should have taken no more than 20 minutes to complete. It ended up taking over two hours. At the end of the whole thing, I asked when I could expect to pick up my passport. To quote the embassy official: “This varies. The materials are submitted by embassy courier. Unfortunately for you, he left yesterday. He goes again in two weeks.”

Fantastic.

Over the holidays, I’d been thinking through worst-case scenarios if the passport didn’t come through this month. Basically, I’d have to exit and re-enter the country and promise to stay in the UK no longer than a regular tourist visa allows (either 3 or 6 months—can’t remember at the moment). However, this would make me ineligible to work and possibly invalidate me for the NHS (National Health Service). Also, it’s technically illegal to finish your degree here whilst not on a student visa. Oopsie.

I have a friend in Brussels who is more than happy for me to come for a visit, so not only would I get to see an old friend and avoid violating the terms of my visa, I’d also get to visit a new country and possibly even title a blog post “In Bruges”. That sounds like a win-win to me minus the whole unemployed and illegal status thing.

Things took a turn today though. After waking up at 1 pm (f*cking jetlag), I turned on my mobile and five minutes later I got a call from the embassy to say that my passport is in and I can pick it up as soon as possible. YAY!!! So unless there’s a dissolution of the EU (never say never), I can no longer be deported from Europe unless I commit a heinous crime (never say never). WOOHOO!

I will head into London tomorrow to pick up my new passport. In theory this should only take five minutes. I’ll expect to be there for five hours anyway. You never know with these people.

Oh, and that trip to Belgium? It’s still going to happen. Only now I won’t be worried about being refused re-entrance into the UK. Sweet.

Now if I could just stop worrying that I’ve used up my allotment of good luck on this and now won’t get that job, all would be well. Guess I’ll have to wait a little longer to find out about that.

Later gators.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

My monthlies

Back from Texas and now I’m off to England—as long as the inclement weather forecasted for late this evening does not appear earlier than anticipated to mess with my flight. I had a great time in the Lone Star state and hope to return again someday...but only when my digestive system has fully recovered. I love Tex Mex food but it appears my colon does not. I was not the only conference goer to come to this realization. Bit of a shitty situation, but most of us survived to poop another day.

Busted booty
The Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge ended on Friday. My personal goal was to achieve a total of 200 points. I only got 129. I missed my goal, but at least I did better this time than in the first challenge when I think I peaked at about 30 total points. Big improvement, no? Eh, I’ll take it.

Viva la non-resolution
I hate resolutions. I think they’re a sure-fire way to guarantee failure. You’re all gung-ho about them for the first few weeks or possibly even months of the year but then everything goes tits up so by the time December rolls around you feel like a failure and gorge on holiday treats to numb the pain. Think I’m being cynical? Well, take a look at all those tv morning programs. They’re full to bursting with segments about “New Year, New You” in January, but you won’t hear another word about it until December when the anchors are all laughing at their own failed resolutions.

I may hate resolutions, but I’m all about goals, particularly SMART goals. This year I’ll be working towards specific and reasonable monthly goals. I figure it’s much easier to stay focused on a goal for 30 days rather than 365, so I’ll have a better chance at success. It’ll also prevent me from getting too bogged down in details with thinking too far ahead which I have a tendency to do.

For January, I have four goals:
  • run a New Year’s Day race
  • complete two chapters
  • lose 5 pounds
  • do a 13.1 mile run/walk
As you may know, I’ve already completed the first goal. Go me! I’m now in the final stages of my dissertation (no, really!), so I need to make sure I make consistent progress. This month I need to complete two in-progress chapter drafts to stay on track.

In 2011, I want to get my fitness back. I need to focus on controlled weight loss to get rid of the 2010 gain and also get back to regular and longer running. My longest run since May has only been 4 miles. This has to change. Long runs need to be incorporated back into my running routine which is why, barring anything unexpected (*knock on wood*), I hope to do a half marathon run each month. Striving for that distance requires that I maintain decent weekly mileage and getting in one or two long runs of 8-10 miles each month to prevent injury. Ideally I’d sign up for a half marathon race each month, but I don’t have the funds for that.

So far this month I’ve only run twice—the New Year’s Day race and a 2.5 mile treadmill run at my Texas hotel. I’m gonna need to be careful not to court injury with increasing my mileage too quickly which is why my goal is to run/walk 13.1 miles this month. It’ll take me forever and a day to complete it, but it’ll be worth it.

Metamorphosis
As you may have noticed (if you’re not viewing this from a reader), I’ve changed my blog including the name and my profile image. I know some of you thought I should leave well enough alone, but I couldn’t. As a woman, I of course retain the right to change my mind at any moment so god knows what further changes I’ll implement. Let me know what you think of what I’ve done so far. I may even give a shit about what you say. It’s a long shot, but you never know.

All right, folks, I’ve got a plane to catch. Hope you’re all doing well. I’ll catch up with you again when I’m back across the pond.

Later gators.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Post postponed

I said I was going to write another post this week about my goals for the new year and all that jazz, but that ain't happening. I'm in Texas, but not where any of my bloggy buddies live apparently. Balls. Anyhoo, I'm having a good time, but I also have to work so not much time for blogging.

Catch you all next week.

Later gators.

Monday, 3 January 2011

New Year's Day 5K

Guess who got her fat ass out for a run on New Year’s Day?

This girl.

I’ve been meaning to run a 5K on New Year’s for the last three years, but only got my act together this year. Perhaps it was the result of a little HBBC motivation since I’m totally counting this as a Resolution Run to score three extra points. It also didn’t hurt that we were experiencing a mini-heat wave (which unfortunately is now over) with temps topping out in the 40s. Nice!

My sister Z and her other half, Jolly Green, came along to cheer me on. The race took place in a small NH town I’d never been to before. There were almost 200 runners and walkers participating. After registering and taking a short warm-up jog around the block, we were all herded towards the start line.

Since I knew I was going to be super slow, I tried to stay towards the back of the pack but in front of the walkers. As I was waiting, Z ran up to me for a last minute hug and then said “Looks like it’s going to be uphill.”

Yeah. That was an understatement.

The start was right at the bottom of a very steep hill. That’s when I started having flashbacks to my first half marathon, which also took place in NH, and how hilly that thing was. I was in for it.

So the race started and I managed to drag my ass up that hill in some semblance of a run. Woo! After that it was hill after hill after hill. Mostly rolling hills but there were also three whopping huge uphills to deal with.

The race took place on country back roads which were not closed off to traffic. Thankfully there wasn’t much of that to contend with anyway so it was cool.

About a mile in a woman jogged up beside me and just started talking. Her presence and conversation helped take my mind off the hills that just kept coming. At one point there was a group of four of us running together, all chatting away about this and that. This was a new experience for me. It’s not that the English aren’t nice people, but, on the whole, they’re reserved so it’s not often that people chat with strangers mid run or are so openly friendly.

The first lady, N, and I stayed together for the rest of the race. Near the end, we rounded a curve and I saw a massive hill in front of us. I couldn’t contain the “Oh shit” that came out of my mouth at the sight of it. N immediately said, “Don’t look at it! Keep your eyes on the ground and keep going.” And that’s what I did.

I crawled my way up that behemoth of a hill and then up the remaining gentle incline towards the finish chute.

I scored a MASSIVE personal worst in this race. How slow was I? Let’s put it this way, I ran a faster pace during both of my marathons than I did in this 5K. Yeah, that slow. The hills were a factor but my performance can mostly be put down to general lack of fitness which has declined significantly in the last seven or so months. My race result didn’t and still has not diminished my joy though. I’m just so happy I got back out there again.

The furball was proud of my accomplishment too. Can't you tell?

After finishing I thanked N for staying with me during the race and then we went back into the town hall to partake in the post-race spread. There were orange wedges, bagels, soups and cookies of almost every variety and all were homemade. Tasty doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Anyhoo, I think I’ve prattled on long enough. I’ll talk about my on-going battle with PF, goals and various other stuff later this week. Hope you have all enjoyed the first few days of the new year. Catch up with you when I can.

Later gators.