Saturday, April 30, 2011

Running a 5k

A while back I mentioned that I wanted to run a 5k.  Actually, I wanted to run much more than that, but a 5k would do for a start.  I made it clear that I would follow the Couch to 5k program, and I encouraged anyone and everyone to join me.  So, I got started.  Things, however, did not go as planned.

A while before I'd started the plan I was having trouble breathing.  Not wheezing or asthma type trouble, but more just a tightness that I couldn't explain.  I would breathe as deeply as I could, but I still wasn't getting enough.  I figured that running might help to expand my lungs and make everything a little easier.  I was wrong.  Finally, after one what-should-have-been-relaxing Sunday except I couldn't breathe, I decided to head to the doctor's office.

After chatting for a while, listening to my heart and lungs, and a full examination, my doc declared he thought it was sarcoidosis.  Sarcoidosis is an autoimmune disorder where your immune system is too strong and starts to attack the organs.  It often attacks the lungs first.  While there's no cure, it is treatable, and people can live long lives with it.  So, while a bit nervous (who wants a chronic disease?), I figured I'd be OK.  In I went for a chest x-ray.  Three days later, no sarcoidosis.  Woot!

Well, what was it?  Time for an echo cardiogram.  I was born with a heart murmur that had gone away in my teenage years.  Lately, though, it had come back, and it was stronger.  Could my breathing problem, combined with rapid weight gain be a sign of heart failure?  Actually, this is something I'd wondered for a little while.  The doctor didn't think that was the problem, but he decided to rule out any possibilities.  I was all for an echo, and at times when I wasn't, Hans would encourage me to go (he was a little worried).  So, back to the hospital I went.

I left the hospital with the words, "You definitely have a murmur." lodged in my brain.  I knew it!  I was dying.  My heart was failing.  That murmur was a massive whole, and time was short.  Talk about a stressful weekend! 

I called the doctor first thing Monday morning.  Everything was normal.  My murmur, while noisy, was nothing serious.  He offered to have me wear an event monitor, but he and I both decided that wouldn't be necessary.  But, what was the problem?  I'm going back to what I originally first thought it was...stress.  I was stressed over work, and over the house, and over working out, and I just tightened up.  I didn't need a doctor, I needed a masseuse! 

So, now I'm back to training.  It's warmer outside now, though, so the treadmill just isn't even an option.  I want to be outside with my dogs, not stuck on a conveyor belt.  That means that the C25k program wasn't going to work quite as well.  I don't own a working watch, and I really didn't relish the idea of constantly have to look at my watch just so I could tell when 90 seconds was up.  So, I started looking for something new to try.

After reading the book The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women I found the perfect plan.  Written by an absolute non-runner, it was a good read, but what was even better was her website, Dream In Motion.  On this website, she gives a detailed running plan for everyone from a novice to an advanced runner.  I'm on her walk-run plan for novices.  I love it, because instead of having you start and stop every few moments she simply says to run for 10 minutes.  If you can't run the whole time then walk.  When you can run, RUN (or jog as is my case)!

I'm on week two, and I'm already jogging over two miles.  Granted, their slow, but they're still better than walking.  In a few weeks, the program will switch from time increments to miles, and that will be another challenge for me.  For now, though, I'm doing great.  I'm loving it, AND I can breathe!  It's amazing what a little extra time with the dogs will do.  :)

I do hope that you all are doing well with whatever you're doing.  I'm just trying to make the best of what I've got, and what I've got is a lot.  Yay!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Perfect Daily Life

Notice that I did not say "My Perfect Day."  I want this post to be how I wish my life could it would be in a perfect world.

In a perfect world, I would be organized.  I would wake up at a reasonable hour (maybe around 7:00, maybe earlier, maybe a little later), take care of the dogs, have some me time, have breakfast, go through my normal routine, and head off to work by 9:00.  My lunch for the day would be packed and ready to go.  My house would be clean.  My clothes would be laid out (or at least clean AND folded), and I would be all set and ready to go.

My work day would be challenging but fun.  I would work hard and be exhausted, but I would love it (OK, that's already true, but that's beside the point).  I would have an actual lunch hour.  My work day would end at a reasonable hour, and I would be home by a reasonable hour (7:00 at the LATEST).  If I arrived home earlier, I might fix dinner (preferably one that had been prepared earlier in the week and frozen for convenience), or Hans and I might go do something fun like ride bikes or take the dogs for a walk or go to the beach (in warmer weather only), or if I arrived home at a later time, Hans might have dinner ready for me.  In other words, I would eat at a reasonable hour.

I would spend half an hour cleaning and tidying up.  Not much would be needed because cleaning would be a regular thing and not just something we did when things started to get out of control.  After cleaning, Hans and I might do something else, or we might just get ready for bed.  We would spend a bit of time reading, and then we would fall asleep, and sleep well.

In my perfect daily life, meals would be healthy, time would be managed, and life in general would be organized.  Weekends would be time off, and sleep would be present.  Life isn't quite like that now, though.

My Current Daily Life
Generally, you'll find me awake between 5:00 and 5:30, possibly earlier if a dog is particularly upset or a cat is particularly hungry.  I do use this early time quite wisely, I must admit.  First thing I'll let the dogs out.  Then it's time for food and water.  Then it's time for a work out.  Sometimes this means taking the dogs for a jog, other times it means yoga.  Personally, I like the jog one more mainly because the dogs are involved.  When I'm done with that it's time for breakfast, and somehow after that becomes rushed.  Time seems to fly by, and I all of a sudden am running around the house like a mad woman, trying to get my day in order.  Thank goodness for Hans because he normally puts my lunch together!

I leave the house by 9:00, 9:30 at the latest.  I spend my day driving from appointment to appointment, sometimes racking up over 100 miles in a day.  If I'm supremely lucky I'll be able to stop to eat my lunch.  If I'm super-duper, amazingly lucky I'll even have time to read a bit.  By the way, I LOVE VA rest stops, and I'm a pro at chilling out in my car at a gas station.

If I'm lucky, I'm home by 7:00.  Generally, though I'm home sometime between 8:00 and 10:00.  Hans, being the wonderful man that he is, will often have dinner ready or nearly ready when I get home (if I call him to let him know I'm on my way and ask him to please start dinner).  Dinner is usually something easy that only takes half an hour to warm up (think frozen pizza) and doesn't create too many dishes, but is still filling (frozen pizza and bread sticks). 

I can't sleep right after eating, so I'll spend at least half an hour digesting.  I'll go to bed tired, and frustrated over not having gotten everything done.  Generally this is around 11:00, sometimes as late as midnight.

This is Monday through Saturday.  Sundays I don't work "in the field" but I do try to catch up on office work or see friends, or do something else that doesn't involve sleep.  I feel behind and run down.  I can't seem to catch up.

Now, I don't want you to take this the wrong way.  I very much love what I do.  I have a wonderful life, and things could be much worse.  However, on days where I've only gotten about 4 hours of sleep I very much wish that things were a little different.

Yes, there are many and multiple things I could change.  Yes, there are many and multiple things I'm working on changing.  I know that working 12 hour days will not always be the norm.  I know I will see better days.  For now, though, I'm tired.  Today, I want to rant a little.

Thank you for listening to my tantrum. 

Monday, April 18, 2011

Living Life to the Fullest

Yes, I know my blogging has been sporadic.  I know I should be doing a better job of updating y'all on the goings-on in my life, or of my thoughts and concerns.  Frankly, though, I've been busy.  I've been busy with work, and busy with social activities.  I'll often think of something I want to blog about, but I am too tired when I get home to actually look at the computer.  Blogging has been put on the back burner, and will only return when I can learn to not need sleep.  Finally, I've had to tell myself that I shouldn't feel guilty about not blogging.  I mean, really, this is my blog.  If I don't feel like blogging, I don't have to.  I have more important things to do than worry about getting my blog post in each day.  I do enjoy blogging, so hopefully I'll be able to do it more, but if I'm out of time, then I'm not going to worry about it.  I'm going to do other things that make me sleep...

...Or go for a bike ride 
Friday was a pretty easy day.  A couple of my lessons had to change their appointments, so I was left with some open time in the day.  Mom's in town, so we had lunch and went over some business stuff together.  Just before my last lesson I realized there were a few grocery items we needed.  So, I called Hans and told him he had a decision.  He could either stop by the store on the way home from work, or we could bike there together after my last appointment.  The store is only 2 miles away, and since I got my new bike back in January I've been wanting to bike to the store.  Still, though, I was expecting Hans to choose to stop after work.  I'm very glad he didn't. 

The entire trip took about an hour.  We weren't in any hurry, so we didn't try to fly down the street.  Admittedly, all that traffic made me nervous, and I realized again how much better Hans is at riding a bike than I am.  Still, though, I had a blast.  I felt great as we returned home just before the sun set.  I was happy to have gotten out in the warm weather and ride around town.  It felt good.  I want to do it again.  I really like my bike.

Which brings me to how I wan to live my life.
So, I've commented before on how I want to live healthier, and that has not changed.  I want to make better activity choices (actually being active would be helpful), and I want to make better food choices too.  One thing I'm not willing to do, though, is completely give up things that make me happy. 

I'm a foodie.  I like food.  I really like food.  I need to learn to truly enjoy my food, though, and not just scarf it down and want more.  I also need to learn how to truly indulge truly good foods, and not just a frozen pizza (yum, pizza) or carrots if I'm trying to be healthy (although lately I've really been craving those carrots).

Something I've noticed with other bloggers, though, is how much they limit themselves.  I'm all for eating healthy, but I also think it should be OK to indulge a little.  For instance, a few blogs I've read have blogged about eating out at a restaurant.  The blogger may order an Alice Springs Chicken from Outback (barbecue chicken, bacon, three different cheeses...heaven), but they realized that many of the things on there aren't too healthy.  So, they order it like this:

Blogger: I'd like the Alice Springs chicken, but could I have the barbecue on the side, only one strip of bacon on the side, and shredded cheese on the side? 
Waiter: Would you like any sauce with that?
Blogger: Low fat ranch on the side.

My thought is what's the point in eating out if you're only going to get a plain chicken with a few things on the side?  Maybe they eat out more often than I do and realize that ordering like this is the best plan for them.  Maybe they really liked the sound of eating that Alice Springs Chicken, but the realized that it needed to be healthier.  If that's what looked good to them, then kudos.  For me, however, if I'm craving chicken and bacon and cheese, I'm going to have all three, just the way Outback makes them.  I might have full-fat ranch on the side.  Then, the next day, I'm either going to move more or eat less (or eat a lot healthier).  It will balance out. If I order it any differently I'll get frustrated and be more likely to binge.

I also want to learn to fit an active lifestyle into my daily life.  Lately, I haven't had a choice in this.  I've been so busy, the only time I've had to sit down is when I'm driving between appointments or sleeping.  I don't want this to change, though.  I've really enjoyed getting up early, working my tail off, and coming home wanting to sleep.  My sleep habits have enjoyed it too.  I think that's why I enjoyed the bike ride so much.  After a semi-busy day, my body wanted more movement.  The bike ride gave it to me, and I slept like a baby that night.

I do recognize that some days I'll just want to sleep (like Saturday), and I can take those days and work with them.  For now, though, I thoroughly want to enjoy every moment God gives me.  God gave me this body, and I want to enjoy it.  I don't want to waste this gift of life.  I want to MOVE!  And then I want to eat.  And then I want to sleep. 

How about you?  What do you want to do?

Friday, April 8, 2011

R.I.P. Zisc

Last Sunday at the river was so much fun, we decided to do it again.  The day was grayer and wetter, and the river was a little higher, but we decided we could still enjoy the hike and possibly find a calm spot for the boys to swim.

Where we went swimming on Sunday, while higher, still looked OK, so we let the dogs jump in and splash.  Ollie had a Wubba Kong and would leap from the bank, into the water, and come back triumphantly.  We started with short throws of Cody's Zisc (an awesome frisbee made of SUPER-TOUGH material), but after seeing how comfortable Cody was we started throwing it farther.  We never threw it too far, but we definitely made Cody work for it.

And then came the fateful toss.  We threw it out, Cody jumped for it.  This time, though, instead of retrieving it and bringing it back, Cody turned back and swam to us.  Hans, Cody, and I ran down the bank, and Cody leaped for it again, but whined a little and turned back.  Whether he couldn't see it well, or whether he was just too tired to go that far I'm not sure, but either way, we watched as this well-loved toy floated down the river.

Of course, I would much rather lose the Zisc than lose Cody, but it was still a bit depressing.  What was more depressing, though, was Cody's reaction.  He just kept looking for his Zisc.  Anything that floated by was treated as a possible Zisc sighting.  Cody would whimper, leap out into the water for a closer look, and come back, dejected.  He searched the ground, hoping that it was merely hidden.  He looked to us to see if we were playing some cruel trick.  Seeing Cody Bug so upset almost brought me to tears.  Poor guy!

Eventually, though, he decided he could play with the other dogs.  Now, while we are one Zisc shorter, Cody is tired and smells like river.  He's snuggled up on a towel next to me, and I think he is simply the most precious creature.  In fact, I think he's so precious that I may just have to order a new Zisc tomorrow.  Until then, rest well Cody.  I'm sure your Zisc will find a happy new home.

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Weekend

Well, that was quite a weekend.  I really won't give an introduction, so here you go!

I had a lot planned for Saturday.  I had a day full of appointments, and our new washer and dryer were scheduled to be delivered.  Hans went in to help set up for a big event at work, then he took the Sprinkles to adoption stand, and then he came home to wait for the washer and dryer.

First, I got 3 consecutive calls from the delivery people, but I was on another line and couldn't answer the call.  When I called back, I was told (in not so nice a manner) that because I hadn't answered my phone, they weren't sure if they should go to the front of the house or down the alley to the back of the house, and so they had driven down the alley and had gotten stuck.  Appliances are now delayed.

Two hours later, I got a call from the delivery company asking how the delivery service was and if I had liked it.  I called Hans to see if we had gotten the washer and dryer, and he said we had not.  Oh, and they weren't stuck anymore either.

To make a very long story short, the delivery people had taken the washer and dryer to the wrong house...2 blocks away.  The guy at that house happily accepted our washer and dryer.  When the delivery people went back to the house to retrieve our washer and dryer, the guy at the house said that another delivery person had already picked them up.

So, what happened next?  Well, police were called, and we found out that this gentleman was no stranger to law enforcement.  After a few stressful hours, the guy's landlord arrived and let the police and delivery men into the house to see if they could find it.  Our washer and dryer had been moved to a different room and covered in blankets.  I guess he thought no one would notice!

So, 4 hours after they were supposed to have arrived, we FINALLY got our washer and dryer.  We did think about sending them back and demanding new ones, but these were still perfectly fine.  Plus, Hans tested them to make sure they worked before the delivery guys left.  Oh, and we really needed to do laundry!

That said, I LOVE our new washer and dryer.  I want to wear multiple outfits throughout the day, just so I can wash more clothes.  They hold so much more, and our comforter seems so much cleaner now that it actually fits!  I find myself staring at the machine as it senses the size of a load and marveling at the spray patterns.  Yay!

Sunday was a much less eventful day, and it was MUCH more fun.  After Mass, Hans and I went to the Tavern to see A Thousand Clowns.  I love seeing sets that Hans has helped to build.  On top of that, I love shows at the Tavern because I have such good memories of that place from my childhood.  On top of that, I love seeing Scott Wichman (lead in A Thousand Clowns) because he's just down-right amazing.  So, that was a fabulous afternoon!

After the show, Cody, Hans and I had a play date.  When Cody was a wee pup of only a year, we met an even younger pup named Oliver.  Cody and Ollie loved to play in the dog park together, but alas, their friendship was torn apart due to a job transfer.  At our most recent show, we saw Ollie and his mom, Shannon.  Apparently, they were back!  Hurray!!!  So, we got the boys together for some fun.  Out to the river we went!

Oh, how I wish I had taken my real camera and not just my cell phone.  Watching them run and jump and play was so much fun.  I loved watching them splash and swim and retrieve sticks and frisbees (did I mention we took them to the river?).  Watching all that pent up energy rush out of them as they worked and stretched their legs for what seems like the first time all year was such a relief and joy.  Hearing Cody whimper and seeing him shiver as the sun started to set and the temperature dropped melted my heart.  Having Cody snuggle up, exhausted after a too-short afternoon of fun, warmed my whole being. 

I am so happy Cody's friend is back.  For that matter, I'm happy his mom is back too (I like having friends also).  There is just something about two soaking wet Doodles that leaves a great big grin on my face.  To Ollie and Shannon: Can we do that again?!