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Monday, December 2, 2013

Hard- A Morning Rant

WARNING: Prepare for a rant.

Last night, I was talking with some dear friends.  At some point someone mentioned another friend and how they couldn't do certain things because things were really hard for them at the moment.  Well, I apparently had a bit of a reaction to this.  I became surprisingly angry. 

Life is hard.  Life is hard for EVERYONE!

Do you know how sick I am of hearing that someone doesn't have time to walk their dog?  Or exercise?  Or go grab a cup of coffee with a dear friend who's willing to meet you half way?  How do you think I do it?  Do I have more time in the day than you?  Let me tell you about my life.

I'm generally up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m.  If I'm not showering and going straight to work I'm going out for an early morning run / swim / bike ride.  On the rare occasion I have a morning off, I feel guilty for sleeping in until 7:00, 8:00, or 9:00 because I could be cleaning or running errands or doing something else productive, but by golly sleep is nice on occasion!

If I happen to have a morning off from work, it's often spent checking and responding to work emails or trying to get the house in order.  Then, I'm at work from 2:00 pm until 9:30 pm (often later), so getting to bed early before my next 4:30 a.m. alarm really isn't an option.

On extremely rare and extremely planned occasions where Hans and I have more than a day off, we do not spend them sleeping or hiking or lounging about.  We spend them with family or friends because that's the only time we have for them.  Time for ourselves really is not a luxury we can afford.

The mornings I'm at work by 5:30 or 6:00 am, the earliest I'll ever leave is 7:00 pm, and again that's if I'm lucky.

Due to the nature of my job, I'll never have a holiday off on the true holiday.  Thanksgiving was not spent sleeping or eating turkey or watching football.  It was spent catching up on paperwork followed by a nap on a dog bed in the kennel.  Oh, and I'm still behind on paperwork (although not nearly as far behind).  And don't even get me started on preparing for the next holiday.  I have no idea when we'll decorate for Christmas!

It is not unusual for me to work 80-90 hours a week, and while I LOVE what I do I could sometimes use a break, particularly when morning sickness is setting in.

If you come over and see a partially clean house, it's not because I'm a great housekeeper.  It's because I scrambled and stayed up half the night cleaning, so things could look presentable for you.

If you come to visit and we go out to a fancy / decent restaurant, that's not how I normally dine.  It's because you're an honored guest, but I'm still too tired to cook.  I'm generally lucky if I get take away Chinese or pizza, and I'm extremely lucky if Hans was able to get home early enough to cook a frozen meal (think Skillet Sensations or frozen pizza).

All these things are not said to make you sorry for me.  While I sometimes have meltdowns (usually sleep related) I, for the most part, love my life.  I'm proud of and pleased with the decisions I've made, and there's very little I'd change.  That said, I am sick and tired of people saying they can't do things because life is hard.  No shit, Sherlock!  Life is hard for everyone.  You know who really has it bad off?

The woman whose husband left her after she was diagnosed with a chronic illness that leaves her at an extreme risk for injury and heat stroke.

The woman who's working 2 full time jobs yet still worries about feeding her kids or keeping a roof over their head.

The man who is caring for his sick spouse.

The woman diagnosed with cancer and given only months to live.

The family that woman leaves behind.

They all have it way harder than any of us.  When you say, "I just don't have time" what you're really saying is "That is not a priority for me right now."  When you say, "Sorry, life got in the way" you're really saying, "I chose to put other things ahead of you."  I'm not saying those are bad things to do.  Sometimes your sleep and your health are more important than that coffee date, but let's call a spade a spade shall we.  It has nothing to do with life being difficult.  It has everything to do with us having different priorities.  I'm OK with that.  I really am.  I just want the truth out if it. 

So, in conclusion, quit saying life is too hard.  Quit making excuses.  Tell the truth...you don't care about this thing as much as that OR just get off your ass and do something about it!

Thank you for listening to my rant!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pregnant Marathon- An Update

Well, I did it.  I ran my third marathon.  Not only that, I ran it while 10 weeks pregnant.  Yay!!  So, how did it go?  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

Going in to the race, I had three goals.  The first was merely to finish.  I did not want to have to drop out of the race, and I wanted the sweet swag at the end.  The second, and this wasn't super important, was to finish in under 6 hours.  Normally my goal, which I've yet to reach, is to finish in 5 hours, but I was really allowing myself more time.  My last goal, and this one was fairly important was to finish feeling better than I had in the past.  In the past I've been in a significant amount of pain when I've finished.  I've been sick to my stomach and could think of nothing but sitting and sleeping.  My last marathon, in Minnesota, was particularly bad because I also felt unbelievably cold (a symptom of the weather and the hard work out).  I wanted to feel way better than that, and I wanted to recover quickly.  Well, I succeeded at all three!!!

The Challenges
The biggest challenge was that everything I had used in training all of a sudden had to be thrown out the window.  My energy gels made me sick.  Gatorade made me sick.  Running non-stop and shooting for a 5 hour marathon would probably kill me (or cause significant harm to the little person growing inside me).  Not only that, but I was significantly hungrier than I was a month ago.  I had trouble going 4 miles without getting something to eat.  What was I going to do for this marathon?  I had to quickly come up with a new plan, and I didn't have a long run to test anything on.

My second challenge was purely mental.  I really hadn't had a good run in a while.  I was tired and hungry, and I often felt kind of sick.  I was worried that I'd have trouble making it to mile 3, much less mile 26.2!

The Plan
Hans and I did some quick planning for food.  I might not be able to eat gels, but I could potentially handle peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  And I might not be able to drink Gatorade, but water was fine.  I could only hope this would be enough.  I honestly didn't know what I'd do if I lost too much salt or needed something other than PB & J.  What if PB & J made me sick?  It was a risk I had to take.

As for the mental thing, all I could do was tell myself I could do this.  I would take things much, MUCH slower than I had in the past.  Even much slower than I had on recent training runs, and I would hope for the best.  Hans and my friends were actually great about this.  I had a couple of friends try to convince me to drop to the half (something I almost did), but most just kept telling me I'd be fine and to trust my body. 

Overcoming the Challenges
Luckily, everything went quite well.  The PB&J was PERFECT.  I had two sandwiches cut in quarters and I ended up eating 5 quarters.  I probably could have had 1 or two more, but I did end up supplementing with a couple of Fig Newtons (which surprisingly didn't settle well) and a mini Clif Bar.  Hans and I had mapped out the route and he met up with me just about every 6 miles to make sure I was OK.  That was generally just enough for me to feel hungry and want a sandwich.

The biggest help for the mental thing actually happened at the beginning of the race.  I was really trying to decide if I just wanted to run slowly for as long as possible or if I wanted to try more of a Galloway method (run/walk combo).  As I was thinking about this, I heard two other runners chatting about something that interested me, so I struck up a little conversation.  As it turns out, they were part of a group of Galloway runners!!  I made a quick decision, asked if I could hang with them for the race, and we were off. 

Running with those other runners ended up being the best thing I ever could have done.  It gave me someone to chat with as I ran, and it helped me keep a more consistent pace.  Not only that, it gave me companionship when the race got long and I started to hurt.  However, those runners weren't the only support I had.

I already mentioned that Hans met up with me every 6 miles or so, but I didn't mention that my dad, my dad's girlfriend, and my mom all came out every few miles too.  I also had a few clients and friends that I happened to see along the way.  Lastly, though, for the last 5k Hans decided to run with me.  It's really the first time we've ever run together, and I was thrilled to see him.  To be honest, by that point I kind of wished he could have just carried me, but that's another story.  We were going slow, we were walking more than we should have, but we were together, and Hans was there for me.  By that point, I knew that, no matter what, I would finish the marathon, and I knew that Hans would finish it with me.

As we rounded the turn for the last hill I thought about last year.  Last year was my first marathon.  Last year I was simply happy that I could claim the title "marathoner."  I thought for a moment as to whether I felt differently this year.  Well, I was finishing my third marathon (goal 1), I was finishing in 5:45:20 (goal 2), and I felt tired but fantastic (goal 3).  Still, though, my answer as to how I felt emotionally is the same.  I can't believe I did it.  I can't believe that all those people, random strangers, other runners, my family, I can't believe they were all cheering for me.  That's a pretty spectacular feeling.

And now, some gratuitous photos!

Around mile 11

Mile 16 and feelin' good!

Happy to have finished!  With Hans on my right and Dad on my left.

Standing with the Canal Walk and the city in my background, I'm a 3-time marathoner.

Yep, I finished.
Oh, and one last note, baby is a 2 time marathoner already!!!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Pregnancy Update

First, I have to answer some questions.

I'm officially 9 weeks and 3 days along today.  It's early on, but that's OK.  I'm due June 14, 2014 (Flag Day!).

I have not experience any vomiting, but there has been plenty of nausea.  I also haven't had any consistent cravings, but my eating habits have definitely changed.  I'm eating smaller meals and lighter foods (lots of fruits and veggies).  Honestly, I'm kind of hoping that stays after the pregnancy!

Honestly, my biggest challenge has been eating enough.  I feel full after my meals, and there have definitely been days when I've over eaten or eaten less-than-healthy calories, but my runs are telling me I'm not fueling well.  I'm starting my runs on tired legs, and while I expect to slow down and feel the effects of pregnancy on my runs, I don't necessarily think I should be staring my runs feeling sluggish or worse, sore. 

So, the biggest thing I'm asking myself right now is, is this good for me and will it help my run?  Aside from that, I'm learning to stop asking myself, "Am I hungry or am I thirsty?"  Generally the answer to that one is yes.  I'm both hungry and thirsty.  So, instead of reaching for the candy bar (which really isn't all that appetizing right now anyway), I'm going for that bag full of grapes that I packed this morning.

I'm also making sure to pack tons of snacks for wherever I go.  Apparently, when I get hungry it quickly turns to feeling sick.  So, I always have almonds or grapes or raisins or something with me for a quick pick me up. 

Other than that, I'm just really tired.  That, plus the list of about 10 million things that keeps repeating through my brain has given me what most people refer to as baby brain or pregnancy brain.  Oh boy, has it hit full force!  I can't remember words, I lose track of what I was saying in the middle of a sentence, and holding a conversation of any kind is fairly difficult.  Mostly, what I'm thinking is, "That's nice.  Can I take a nap now?"  Actually, I have a funny baby brain story.  The other day, I came in to work and used the bathroom.  Apparently, I forgot to flush, never changed the roll, and locked the bathroom door as I was leaving the bathroom, thereby locking the rest of the staff out of the bathroom!  That was a little embarrassing.

All in all, though, life is good.  My running buddies have been great about my slower pace, and Hans has been super supportive.  I'm still planning to run the marathon this weekend, although I'm a little nervous about it.  I hope all is well in your lives!

A running photo from this past Saturday, and one of my favorites for the year.  There was a costume theme, hence why I'm wearing the skeleton shirt.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

News

Well, I have some news to share.  First, the vacation went very well.  We were able to spend some much-needed time with Hans family, and we were able to take an even-more needed break.  I did end up running the Mankato Marathon, although I still didn't finish in my desired  time of 5 hours.  I blame myself, though.  I just didn't fuel well enough.  During a long run, one should really consume between 100 and 150 calories per hour.  Unfortunately, during the ENTIRE run, I only consumed about 200 calories (stupid I know).  So, I did great until about mile 20, and then I bonked...big time.  Oh well, my final time was 5:13:??, so not terrible. 

But that's not the news.  The news is...

HANS AND I ARE EXPECTING!!!!

Our announcement photo.  We announced on Halloween.
  Hans and I are fairly stoked.  In case you're wondering, the answers are:
Yes, this was planned.  Completely and totally.
Yes, we're going to find out the sex.
Yes, we already have names picked out.  Please!  We picked those out over a year ago.
And while we really don't care either way, I'm kind of hoping for a boy.  I'm not sure I'll be able to handle girl drama!  Still, though, as long as our baby is healthy, then I'm a happy mama.

We had our first doctor's appointment today.  Everything looks good.  The heartbeat is strong (171 bpm), and for the first time in my life I looked at an ultrasound and saw a baby, not just a sea monkey.

The top picture makes me think of a mermaid wearing a beanie.
I'm so excited, but I'm also still fairly scared.  It's kind of nerve-wracking knowing everything that could possibly go wrong.  Going in to this first appointment, I had so many worries.  What if there's no heart beat?  What if my positive at-home test was wrong?  What if, what if, what if?  I felt my blood pressure lower and breath release as soon as I saw the image of the little pup.  Today, as I walk around this chill, cloudy day, I seem to carry a secret smile.  What can I say?  I'm happy!

So, I think that covers all the really big stuff.  Oh, except for one thing.  The doctor did say I'm clear to run the Richmond marathon, as long as I listen to my body and eat enough.  So, YAY!  I don't think I'll have any time goals for this one.  I just want to finish!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Long Time No See

Hello all!

I'm sorry it's been so long.  I've been super-busy with work, and frankly I'm often just too tired to write a blog post.  Today, though, I have a little time and a little energy, so I thought I'd fill y'all in on everything that's been happening.

First, the kennel is doing great.  It's doing so great, in fact, that Hans and I were able to take a vacation.  We've driven out west with the dogs to visit Hans' family in MN.  It's been great so far.  We were able to see Hans' old roommate, attend our SIL's baby shower, see Hans' favorite train, and even visit our Alma Mater.

Speaking of the Alma Mater visit, that was an interesting experience.  Here's the thing, by the time I graduated, I was D-O-N-E with school.  Correction: I was done with that school.  I graduated with a major that I didn't love, I was sick of the cold, and all in all it just wasn't a great fit for me.  The school in and of itself was perfectly fine, and I have plenty of fond memories, but it definitely was not the best fit for me.  So, returning was weird.  In some ways, all these memories came flooding back and made me feel like I was back in school with no responsibilities.  In other ways, all these memories came flooding back and reminded me of everything I hated.  The smell of the practice rooms reminded me of hours of practicing, making myself better, but it also reminded me of the hours spent crying, not wanting to do it anymore.  It was an interesting sensation.

In addition, we got to visit our old choir...where we met.  That is something I did miss.  It was a lot of fun sitting next to Hans, singing like we used to.  I was definitely rusty, but I loved it.

We also went on a little date to one of our favorite restaurants.  It's the place where we had our rehearsal dinner, and I love the food.  Ahh, memories!

In addition to all that, on Saturday, Hans will be running his first 5k, and I'll be running my second marathon on Sunday.  I can't even begin to tell you how proud I am of Hans.  He's really been training well, and he's taking this quite seriously.  I'm SOOOO proud of him.

Well, that's really about it.  The dogs are doing well, travel is great, and I'm really enjoying the extra sleep.  Woot! 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Morning Run

Beep.

I hear my alarm.
I struggle against my blankets which are keeping me safe and warm in my bed.
The air is cold and I shiver.

Beep.
I start my watch.
My legs are stiff and tired, not yet ready to move.
I wait to ease into the movement.

Beep.
Mile 1
I am loose and relaxed, so I pick up the pace.
Things feel good.

Beep.
Mile 2
I am half way through.
Not much longer.

Beep.
Mile 3
I begin to feel the fast pace, and I take a deep breath to slow my heart rate.
Almost there.

Beep.
Mile 4
I sprint to the end, racing against myself.
I breathe.

Beep.
I stop my watch.
I stretch.
I am ready for the day.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Incognito

Have I ever told you how much I love what I do?  I really do.  I love working with dogs on a daily basis.  I love taking a wild, hyper, out-of-control dog and turning him into a well-loved, well-behaved family pet.  I love the excitement a dog shows when he sees me.  I'm the treat lady!

There are also times, however, when I kind of want to forget that I'm a trainer.  There are times when what I really want is to just enjoy my time with my dogs.  I want to be just another person who just happens to have great dogs and a great bond with them.  This is especially true at the dog park.

When I first became a trainer I always wore my company shirts at the dog park.  I'd pass out cards, I'd talk about training, I'd answer peoples' questions.  What I found was that I never got any clients from it, but I did get a lot of people looking for free advice.  To some extent, I don't mind the occasional question, but after a while it got to be old.  I'd go to the dog park just to throw the ball for Cody, and what I'd get would be questions about potty training and jumping and barking and obedience.  What's worse, is they often wouldn't listen to my advice.  Here's an example (based on an actual conversation):

Person: What can I do to get my dog to stop licking his paws?

 Me: Is he licking the tops or the bottoms?

P: The tops.

Me: Well, this could be related to two things.  The first could be a pain issue- arthritis, soreness, etc.  The second is boredom.  How much exercise does your dog get?

P: I know he's not bored.

Me: OK, have you had the vet check him for any pain issues?  That might be the best course of action. (Note: This is my discreet way of saying I don't know your dog and asking me this question without knowing much history isn't fair.)

P:  He went to the vet this week for antibiotics because the licking has caused raw spots.  She didn't mention anything about arthritis.

Me: Well, sometimes a vet may not check for that unless  you talk with them about it.  Maybe you should bring it up at your next appointment.  Of course, if you really don't think it's a pain thing, that would bring us back to boredom.

P: I know he's not bored.  He's the laziest dog.  All he ever wants to do is sleep. (Note: Assuming the dog is young and healthy, this sleeping-all-the-time thing is probably the biggest clue that he's bored).

Me: Actually, sleeping a lot could be a sign of boredom.  My dog, Cody, is a very high energy dog, but he'll often choose to sleep through his boredom rather than become destructive.  I can tell when he hasn't had enough exercise because of how he acts when we're out of the house; he goes nuts!

P: Oh, that's interesting. (Note: The person just tuned me out.)

Me: Good luck with everything.  If worse comes to worse, you could always try to find a salve or try a bitter spray.

P: Yeah, we tried that too.  Thanks.

Sure there are some dogs who lick for no good reason.  There are some dogs who lick just because they lick.  There are some who have serious medical issues beyond basic arthritis and who need serious help.  The majority of dogs, though, are just bored.  So, unless there's something else you haven't told me, why should I believe that your dog is any different?  So, when you ask me for my professional opinion, what would make you believe that I'm lying?  Often, I may suggest some alternative therapies too (acupuncture, chiropractic care, etc), and I'll explain why I recommend them.  Still, though, I'm met with a look like I'm insane for even suggestion such a crazy remedy.

Anyway, now when I go out with my dogs, I always go incognito.  I don't want to be a professional at that moment.  I just want to be with my dogs and enjoy them the same way you're enjoying your dogs.  Unfortunately, this doesn't always work.

The other night, Hans and I made a special trip to the dog park.  It was a rare evening off, and I was excited for it.  We were having a lovely evening until one guy said, "Aren't you Myron's daughter?"  When I confirmed this, his wife followed with, "You're a dog trainer, right?"  I confirmed her question and hoped that would be the end of it.  What I got was an impromptu lesson.  I tried to be nice.  I tried to simply encourage her to keep working or to even set up a consultation with me (it's still free but it's during my working hours), but I was still barraged with questions.  Finally, I simply turned to Hans and said, "I'm getting kind of hungry.  Care to leave and grab some dinner?"  So, my relaxing night off with the dogs was cut short and it sucked!

I suppose this post doesn't have a big point; it's really just a rant.  However, I will encourage you to be considerate of other working professionals.  If you have a question, ask how to schedule an appointment with them so they can answer it then.  Don't approach them during their family time.  Not only are you cutting into the precious few hours they have with their family (annoying not only them, but their family as well), you're also just being rude.  You're expecting a highly-trained professional to devalue his/her worth and give the goods away for free.  That's not at all fair.  Please be respectful of that.

Thank you.

And thank you for reading my rant.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Laid Out

Last week I started to wonder if I was getting sick.  I didn't really have any symptoms, but I was SO tired.  It wasn't just that I was waking up at 4:30 every morning or working until 10:00 at night.  My tiredness was a bone-weary exhaustion.  At night I couldn't seem to function, and working during the day was practically painful.

When I awoke Saturday morning, though, I felt great.  I was a little worried Friday night, because Saturday I was scheduled to run a half marathon.  I had one goal in mind: beat my time from last year, but if I was still so tired I didn't know if I'd be able to do it.  Well, I felt great, and my time reflected that.  I was able to push a little harder, the weather was great, and I clocked a time that was 5 minutes faster than last year.  Huzzah!!!

So, I thought I was doing well.  I was very tired afterwards, but that's kind of to be expected.  I went home, showered, and slept for a few hours.  It was beautiful.

Sunday I was still really tired, but I had stayed out late the night before (a night at the theatre and driving a friend home), and I figured my body was still worn out from running 13.1 miles.  I went to work, I napped when I could, and I was fine.  Things went well for Monday and most of Tuesday.

By Tuesday evening, though, I could feel that something was different.  My head hurt, my legs ached, and all I wanted to do was sleep.  When I woke up Wednesday morning, it was official.  I was sick.  My throat hurt, my ears hurt, my nose hurt, my eyes hurt.  I took the majority of the day off from work to recuperate.

Today I'm back at work, but I can't say I'm feeling much better.  All I really want to do is sleep.  The worst part is, I know this isn't even close to the worst cold I've had.  It actually isn't all that bad except for the bone-weary tiredness.  So, this tells me something.  I need to sleep.  I need to sleep a lot.  It's obvious that's what my body's craving is rest.  I've been pushing hard for a while now, and I'm simply exhausted.  This is made obvious when I go to bed at 9:00 pm, wake up at 7:00 a.m. and am still exhausted.

So, I skipped my runs this week (I hate doing that).  I'm sleeping more.  I'm eating much better.  Hopefully, by treating my body with a little more care, it will care for me back.

Fingers crossed!

Friday, August 23, 2013

I'm Still Here!

I'm sorry it's been so long since I last wrote something.  Life has been C-R-A-Z-Y!  Apparently, somewhere, along the way, I kind of forgot I needed to update my blog.  I also think I forgot how long it had been since I actually wrote something.  So, here's a little update.

A few weeks ago we went through some staff changes at the kennel.  This meant I ended up picking up a few more shifts to fill in holes, and there was a lot of training to be done.  Honestly, though, I could not be happier with the way things have turned out.  My new staff is wonderful, and I was also able to see my current staff shine as they trained the new ones in.  As the new gals are becoming more comfortable, I'm able to breathe a little easier.  I know that I will soon be comfortable taking a day or more off (maybe even an entire weekend), and I can't wait for that.

Marathon training is filling in all of my free time.  I had a horrible 12 mile run two weeks ago, a great 10 mile run last week, and I'm running a half marathon this Saturday.  I'm hoping it stays cool and cloudy like it was last week, but so far all signs point to warm and sunny.  Oh well!  My biggest goal is to finish with a faster time than I did last year, even if it's only by a second.  We'll see how it goes!


Last week, my laptop died.  :'(  This is good in that it's has taken me away from the electronics a little and has encouraged me to read more (something I'd been slacking on), but otherwise it kind of sucks.  I love my laptop, and I really don't want to have to spend money on a new one.  For now, I'll do my best without one, but I'll probably be purchasing something new in a month or so.

Did I tell you Hans got a new truck?  We are now a 2 car family!!!  I cannot even begin to explain how much easier this has made things.  We chose to get a truck over a smaller vehicle because he needed it for his work, and we needed it for the kennel.  We were looking at used car lots when my dad mentioned there was a county auction coming up.  We thought, "What the heck!  We'll give it a shot."  Hans ended up getting a '94 GMC Sierra with 84,000 miles on it.  It's nothing super special, but it runs well and it's a great work truck.  I love it.


Lastly, the thing that's been eating up most of my time has been Woof, Romp, & Roll.  Last year we held this event as our Grand Opening, but this year we decided to do it as an open house / fundraiser for Henrico Humane Society.  So, there was a ton of planning and preparation to do.  I'm happy to report it was a smash hit!  We raised a good deal of money for HHS, we had a few vendors, and we had lots of people who really seemed to enjoy it.  I'm happy it's over, but I also can't wait to do it again next year.  I'm also busy thinking of other things we can do throughout the year (pictures with Santa, Haunted House, etc).  Do you have any ideas?

Well, that about wraps things up here.  Things are going well, and I'm staying busy.  Hopefully I won't take as long to post something new, and maybe things will settle down a little.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Man I Could Have Married

I could have married a doctor.  He'd be a surgeon.  He'd have rich, chestnut hair and abs of steel.  I'd never have to worry about money because he'd provide.  I could spend my days lunching with the girls and shopping...and sleeping.  I would smile because life would be easy.  
     I'd visit him at lunch and I'd pretend to not notice how the nurses look at him.  I'd keep his dinner warm when he was late coming home, and I'd save it for later when he didn't come home at all.  I'd reason that all I got from him was worth being ignored or forgotten.

I could have married a high-profile businessman.  He'd be driven and hard working.  He'd wake every morning at 4:00 a.m. to go to the gym and get his training in.  People would look at us in awe at dinner parties and social events simply because of the power we radiated.
     I'd pretend not to care that he refused to workout with me because it messed up his mojo.  I wouldn't let my feelings get hurt when he'd mention what part of my body needed tightening or suggested I spend another day with my trainer.  I'd learn to keep my mouth shut when discussing business, because my husband would obviously be the smarter man, and I wouldn't want to embarrass him.  I would convince myself I deserved it when his harsh words turned into sharp blows.  I should have done something better.

I could have married an adventure traveler.  Our adventures would lead us to places like Bali, Indonesia, and Peru.  We'd tell our friends amazing stories about tiny villages and how we were welcomed into peoples' homes.  We'd be fun and eccentric, and all of our friends would be a little jealous at all the fun we had together.  Our blogs and photos would look like something out of an adventure magazine.
     I would convince myself that settling down wasn't important to me.  I would tell others how much kids would just get in the way, and how I love my life of freedom.  I would pretend I wasn't upset when my husband told me that dogs just weren't a good fit in our life.

Obviously, none of those men are the man I married.

The man I married is hard working.  What he can't provide financially, he makes up for in labor and love.  The man I married wakes at 4:30, not so he can get his gym time in, but rather so I can get mine.  He works a full day of hard work, and then he comes to the kennel to help me run it, or he goes home to clean.  He takes care of me when I'm sick, and he soothes me when I'm upset.  While he may not always fully understand my love of dogs, he accepts it and supports it.

There are a lot of different men I could have married, but I only married one.  And that man is the right one for me.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Things On My Mind

- Yesterday, I had this whole, long blog post planned out.  I found out a few things over the weekend that really upset me, and I learned there were some people whom I thought I could trust but I couldn't.  I was going to write this whole long post about false friends and wondering how you could trust some people, but luckily I decided to sleep on it.  The thing is, maybe I'm repressing my feelings, or maybe something else is going on, but I'm not as upset today.  I'm still hurt by the whole situation, yes, and I still have a lot to think on, but there are some wonderful people out there in my life, and I can't let a few bad things affect my relationship with those people.  So, I'm trying my best to move on and get over it (and learn from it).

- It's amazing how different a run can make you feel.  Generally a good run will wake me up and make me alert for the day, but occasionally a good run just leaves me feeling drained.  This happens most often if I've pushed too hard, or if I haven't adequately hydrated, or even if I was just too tired going into it, but it's still interesting.  Today's run, while fantastic, left me out of it.  I could barely function, and all I wanted to do was sleep (to the point where looking at the dogs play made me want to cry because I was so tired).  However, I couldn't be happier about the run.  I went out even though I wanted to sleep in, and I pushed myself through even though I wanted to stop.  At one point, I did listen to my body and slow down (it was either that or vomit), but I didn't just stop, and that's important to me.  I don't want every run to be that hard, but it did work out a lot of emotions for me (see above).

- Cody and Lollie had another acupuncture / chiropractic session today.  I love seeing how well they do with it.  Honestly, though, I need to see the chiropractor too.  I did something to my neck on Saturday, and while it's significantly improved today, I'm guessing it would feel a lot better if I just went to the chiropractor.

- Business is great.  I can't believe how far we've come in a year, and I can only hope things continue to get better.  Business is also keeping both Hans and me extremely busy, and I find that the only thing I want to do in my spare time is sleep.  Hopefully, I'll have a chance to do that more soon.

Well, that's pretty much everything that's on my mind.  I hope you're all doing well.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

More Weighty Issues

This morning, I was cooling down after my 3 mile run, and I started thinking about my body and my image issues, and I had a realization.

At one point, when I was in college, I weighed over 200 pounds.  I remember at the height of my weight, I had a conversation with my freshmen year RA.  We were talking about the size of women in the fashion industry, and my RA commented how awful it was that, at a size 10-12, she would be considered a plus-size model.  I remember exactly what I thought.  Really?!  She's  plus size?  She's so thin and pretty?  If she's plus size, what does that make me?  I then remember telling myself more than once that, if I could ever be her size, I'd be really happy, and my life would be different.

Well, here I am a size 10, and am I happy with how I look?  Of course not!  There for a while, when I first reached this size, I was thrilled.  My confidence was soaring, and I had a great outlook on life.  Now, it seems that I too-often forget all my accomplishments, I forget how much stronger I am now than I used to be, and I berate myself for being too "fat."

How depressing is that?  I mean, I'm a girl who runs her own business, who's run a marathon, and who is ready and willing to run 10 miles on Saturday before most of the world is awake.  I think I'm a friendly enough person, I have a great husband, and we live a fairly stable life.  So, why am I stressing out over what the scale says?

So, now I have a goal...or should I say a few goals. 

1) Quit worrying about the scale.  Yes, I will still continue to weight myself, but mainly as a way to check hydration levels before and after a long run.

2) Nourish my body.  I don't want to just say F*** it and eat ice cream all day.  I want to eat foods that will fuel me through long runs and long days of work.  I want foods that will satisfy my needs and make me feel good about myself instead of over-sugared and lazy.

3) Take time to appreciate the beauty I have.  I have a lot to offer this world.  Sure, I may not have a bikini body, but I still have plenty of good stuff to offer. I should appreciate that.

So, there you have it.  I'm going to start feeling good about myself again!

In other news- I really wish I could create a clone of myself, as I'm really the only person who seems to know what I want and how I want it! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Six Years: Part Two

Did you know that Cody was born 1 week and 1 day before our wedding day?  We didn't know it at the time, but when we were married Cody was already waiting for us.  And yes, this past Sunday was our 6 year anniversary.  I was hoping to get a blog post out that day, but due to a lack of internet and a need to do absolutely nothing, somehow that didn't happen.  I can say, Hans and I had a lovely anniversary...one of our best yet.

In previous years, our anniversary has been fairly low key.  Some years we've taken off work, other years we've just had a nice dinner.  In 2010, we went out of town for the weekend, but the place we traveled to was apparently in foreclosure, and while the views were lovely, we really couldn't figure out what there was to do.  Last year, we were two days out from opening the kennel and Hans' dad was in town.  We took the day off and went to a tomato festival (more fun than it sounds) and later to a show at the theater, but, while it was an enjoyable day off, it really didn't scream 5 year anniversary.  This year, we needed something special.  We were tired from all the long hours, and boy were we stressed.  We weren't sleeping enough, and we weren't sleeping well.  We needed a break.

A few weeks ago, I just happened to be piddling around online, and I decided to do a search for lake cabins.  I was looking for something rustic and secluded.  Something that would allow me to meditate and relax.  What I found was New River Retreat.  A lovely, peaceful, dog-friendly, rental property.


Was it secluded?  For the most part- yes.  Was it rustic?  Nope!  Was it everything we needed and then some?  Yes!

Hans and I left late Saturday afternoon.  I had rushed in packing, and I had already adopted the vacation attitude of "I don't care."  With each hour that we drove, I felt the stress of the past year melt away.  Hans and I talked about things we'd like to do, and we both agreed on one thing- we didn't want to do a thing!  Shortly before arriving at our cabin, we pulled into a neighboring town and picked up some groceries for the weekend as well as some Redbox movies.  We actually had time to watch movies!!

Saturday night, Hans and I watched the first of our movies, cooked dinner, and simply relaxed.  It was beautiful.

Sunday morning, our anniversary, we woke up feeling refreshed and happy.  The air was shrouded in a mountain mist.  I made us sausage and eggs which we ate on the covered porch with the river and the mountains as our view, and then we snuggled up on the couch and watched another movie.  It was so relaxing.  By the early afternoon, most of the mist and dew had dissipated, so we decided to head into town and do some exploring.

One of the places recommended in the brochures was the local Mercantile, so we thought we'd check it out.  The Mercantile offers a lot of neat foods and amenities, and one of the things they offer are bike rentals.  We asked the man working the counter where it was best to bike.  Then, we wondered if he had anything that could accommodate Lollie.  Cody could run with the bikes, but Lollie wouldn't be able to last.  We got set up with 2 bikes and a cart, and we were on our way!

We biked about 4 miles along the New River Trail, and we stopped multiple times for pictures and to give the dogs some water.


After the bike ride, we returned back to the cabin for more rest and more movies.  We had a very simple anniversary dinner of tacos, and then we spent the evening snuggling and enjoying each others' company.

Now then, this is where I have to be honest.  It's too big of an event to leave out, but it's not the best thing to have happen on your anniversary.  Late Sunday night, we took the dogs out to use the bathroom.  Our cabin was in the middle of a big open field, so I gave the dogs a little room to roam.  The next thing I new, Cody was tearing off across the field.  At first, I thought it was a rabbit or a deer he was after, but then I saw it- the tell-tale black tail of a skunk!  Just before bed on Sunday night, Cody got skunked!!!  So, what was super-relaxing became a mad rush to try and clean him up and get rid of the smell.  And boy did he smell!  Of course, we had to use my shampoo and conditioner since I hadn't brought any for the dogs.  And, of course, nothing removes skunk!  We at least got to the point where the smell was bearable, and then we went to sleep.

Monday morning, found us laughing about the previous evening.  Poor Cody reeked, but what could we do?  It was our last day there, and we wanted to get back fairly early, so we enjoyed a breakfast of waffles, and then we packed up and left.

Aside from the one major mishap, our trip was wonderful and perfect.  It was just what we needed to help us feel human again.  I can tell you now, I will happily go back to the New River.  I also think that Hans and I may make this a yearly trip.  It's just too nice not to.

Six years down, eternity to go!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Running Gets Easier

So, in case you couldn't tell, I was a little upset while writing my last running-related post.  I felt fat and out of shape.  I felt slow.  I felt like I might not even be able to run the marathon this year.  Luckily, I'm feeling much better today.

Last week, after my seven mile run, I was NOT motivated to run at all.  I very much had a defeatist attitude, and I easily found excuses to not go.  Monday was a rest day, so I was fine not running.  Tuesday I wasn't feeling well (truth) and it was raining (that's never stopped me before).  Wednesday it was still raining, and I was just SO tired (excuses).  Thursday, I finally stopped making excuses and went out.  I ended up doing about 5 miles (2 more than I was supposed to) plus an additional two miles training with Hans.  Well, at least I made up for not running Tuesday or Wednesday.  Let me tell you, that five miles was H-A-R-D.  It was hot, I was tired, and I think I ended up walking the last half mile or so.  Saturday, I was scheduled for eight miles, and I was scared.  I hadn't run 8 miles in over 6 months.  Would I be able to do it?  I had trouble with five miles just two days before.  How could I handle an additional three?  Last week's seven miles was depressing and I was left feeling completely drained.  Could I add anything on to that?  I decided to take it slow and just see what I could do.

It certainly wasn't bad.  While it wasn't my best run ever, it could have been much, much worse.  I ended up walking for about a block twice, but those were after six miles.  It was a hot day and a hilly route, but I made it all the way.  When I stopped my Garmin, I looked at my pace: 11:13 min/mile.  I was disappointed as I had hoped for under 11:00, but I decided to compare my pace to last year's.  I had expected to see a 10:36 for this equivalent run last year, but that's not what I saw at all.  I saw 11:08 min/mile.  That's only a 5 second difference, and that could easily be accounted for by the fact that I didn't stop my Garmin at the SAGs this year like I did last year.  So, guess what that means.  I'm pretty much on the same pace I was last year!  Huzzah!

In addition, my run this morning was easier than it was in weeks past.  I took things at a much faster pace (about 10:00 min/mile), and didn't feel completely drained at the end.  I was happy to be done, but I quite possibly could have pulled out another mile at that pace. 

So, I guess I'm getting stronger.  My endurance is building, and my fears have all been for naught.  I'm still worried about a few things, but I'm getting there...slowly.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Six Years

Today Cody turned 6.  He's six years old.  I just can't believe it.  I can't believe this wonderful, sweet boy is six and has been in my life for 5 3/4 years.  In previous years, I've written long blog posts about how he came to be and the fun we've had, but I don't think I'll do that this year, as this birthday is bittersweet.

The reality is, at six years old, Cody is now over the hill.  And the truth is, it's starting to show.  He's no longer the bouncy puppy I brought home with me.  He's calmer, more patient, and less likely to play for hours.  He's happier snuggling on the sofa than running with other dogs, and it's hard knowing that he won't be in my life forever.  Although, I suppose I shouldn't waste our present by worrying about our future, so let me tell you a little about my Cody-bug.

Cody is the first thing I want to see when I wake up.  He comforts me when I sleep at night.  His snuggles and his kisses can make my worst headaches go away.

A day without Cody leaves me anxious and angry.  A trip without him just isn't something I choose to do.  I want him around as much as possible.

When I got Cody, I'd just gone 4 years without a dog around.  I knew I wanted one, but I had no idea the impact this boy would have on my life.  He's given my life direction and meaning in ways I didn't even know were possible.

Here's the thing; I know my relationship with Cody probably isn't the healthiest.  It's a little co-dependent, and I should probably try to ease up a bit.  But you know what?  I don't care.  I have so many things to worry about in life.  I have so many things that stress me out or leave me unhappy.  Cody makes me happy.  Even when he does something bad, he makes me happy.  Why would I ever even think about easing up on that.  I love my little birthday bud, and that will always be the case.

Today we celebrated by having a birthday party for him at the kennel.  It was his first birthday party, and it was a ton of fun.  Cody's tired and sleeping soundly, and Lollie is right by his side.  It was a good day.

Thank you, Cody for coming into my life and being so wonderful.  And thank you to Hans for putting up with and humoring my attachment.

My sweet boy with cake and presents.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Adrenaline Rush

I was on a decent long run this morning and was contemplating what I would write.  I thought about writing how this run, while not my best by far, was mentally easier.  How I didn't have such thoughts of loathing like I've had in the past.  I thought about writing about Hans and how he's training for a 5k along with my mom, and how proud I am of both of them.  I thought about just doing a generic Independence Day post and talking about how excited I am for grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, and how happy I am I decided to close the kennel for the day (best decision EVER).

But then, right before I reached home, right as I was finishing my cool down and looking forward to stretching and getting in the shower, something happened to erase all those thoughts from my mind.  I suddenly knew exactly what I would write about, and it certainly wouldn't be hotdogs and hamburgers.  Today, I was almost hit by a car.

Let me start off by saying that I'm a VERY alert runner.  I don't run with headphones (not even in a race with closed roads).  I wear bright clothing and reflective gear / lights at night.  I'm always aware of my surroundings and I always do a full check of an intersection before crossing.  I've seen too many runners do something stupid to not be safe myself.  It's probably because of my alertness that things turned out the way they did.

I was finishing up a 5 mile run (for those of you who know what my mileage was supposed to be, keep your mouth shut), and I was just walking past the neighbor's house.  I was daydreaming about a lovely shower to wash the salt and sweat off me, and I couldn't wait to get home.  I looked across the street to see if our other neighbors were out and about, and I noticed a white car driving the other direction.  The problem was, the car was only half in it's lane.  It was drifting over rapidly into oncoming traffic.  My first thought was, "Huh.  I hope she goes back soon."  Then came a barrage of very rapid thoughts.  "She's not going back over.  Is there another car coming?  Go back over lady!  Crap!  She's not even slowing down.  What is she doing?!  Crap!  Crap!  Crap!  RUN!"  It was at that moment that I realized she was coming over fast, she wasn't stopping, and she had a very real possibility of jumping the curb and hitting me.  I very quickly resumed my run at full speed and tried to get out of the way.

The car did not hit me.  It did, however, hit the car I was walking next to.  It jumped the curb first and then plowed head on into our neighbor's parked car.

My first thought was, "I'm alive!  Thank God!"  And then I realized there were people in the car, and I had to make sure they were fine.  The drive was awake and conscious, and there was a little girl in the backseat.  The girl was fine but was very shaken up and was screaming.  She got out of the car wearing only one shoe (the other one came off in the crash) and immediately walked up to me for a hug.  I stayed with her and got her to sit on the neighbor's steps until the neighbors came out and called 911.  Everyone was fine.  I think the grandmother did end up going to the hospital as a precautionary measure.  The girl's mom was only 3 minutes away, so we called her, and she quickly came.  I called Hans to tell him what had happened.

So, I had a bit of an adrenaline rush today.  I learned that, even when my legs are exhausted, I have a lot left in them.  I also learned I'm almost useless without my cell phone, because I had no idea what to do when I couldn't just dial 911.  Luckily, the crash made some noise and people came out quickly.

What a rush!


Saturday, June 29, 2013

Marathon Training Week 5: Seven Miles

Well, I haven't been nearly as diligent about posting my weekly training updates as I was last year.  Of course, not everything is new and exciting to me like it was last year either.  That being said, today we ran seven miles.  This is the farthest I've run since December, and there are a few things I've noticed.

1)  I'm not in the same shape I was in last December.  Last December, seven miles was something I did before work.  It was fairly quick and easy, and it left me invigorated.  Today, seven miles was brutal.  Part of that is the heat, but a good portion of that is the fact that I didn't run for so long.

2)  I'm not even in the same shape I was in last June.  I can say with confidence that I feel exactly the same after this run as I did after the same run last year, but last year I was recovering from a small stomach bug.  This year I'm just tired.

3)  It's actually harder to train having run a marathon before.  Why?  Well, sure I have the mentality that I know I can do this, but I'm also comparing myself to how I was.  I'm sure that had I continued training through the winter and spring that this wouldn't be an issue, but I didn't continue training, and I can feel it.  Last year, everything was new and I was able to say, "Slow down.  Your body needs to ease up."  Or, "I feel great, keep going!"  Now, all I tend to say is, "You can do better than this.  Why are you so slow?"  That's actually a huge mental hurdle, because it leads to all sorts of self doubt.  I start to say things like, "If seven miles is this hard, will I be able to finish the marathon?"  "I don't remember it being so hard to get past mile 4.  I won't be able to finish a marathon if I can't get past mile 4."  So, yeah, there's a big mental hurdle there, but at least I recognize it and I'm working on it.

4) I really need to cross train.  I mean I REALLY need to cross train.  Last year, Hans and I had been meeting on Sundays with a trainer.  I don't think I quite understood just how much that was strengthening other parts of my body, and how much that helped my arms, knees, and ankles.  Now, I can actually feel how weak these parts are.  I can feel my knees turn in and my ankles roll (Note: this is not just when I run, but also when I climb stairs, walk on uneven surfaces, etc.).  So, I need to get back in the groove of things just so I can stay healthy.

5) I'm much more scared about injuring myself.  One injury was all it took.  Now I really worry about every ache and pain.  Of course, due to the fact that I'm not cross training as much, I'm at a greater risk for injury, so that doesn't help.

Essentially, what I'm learning is that there are things I need to work on.  I need to get out of my head a bit, but I also need to focus on my body.  I'm not perfect, and I need to be OK with that.  I will improve, but not overnight.  These are hard things to learn, but I'm getting there.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

How?

OK, I really want to know how some people do it?  How can some people work a full day of work, keep a clean house, look gorgeous, and still present a beautiful, home-cooked meal?  Do they just never sleep?  Because, really, I'm exhausted 90% of the time, and I'm not able to do most of that.  Let me give you a run down of my daily schedule:

Scenario 1:

4:30 a.m. Wake, shower, get dressed.
6:00 a.m. Arrive at work
12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Lunch- I stay at the kennel to answer phones over lunch, so it's only a break in the sense that I get to eat and the dogs are napping.
7:00 p.m. Kennel closes.  Sometimes I'll stay and have dinner here, other times I'll run errands.
8:30-9:30 Kennel night shift.
10:00 pm.  Home and bed

Scenario 2:
4:30 a.m. Wake, get dressed
5:15 a.m. Meet running buddy for a run
6:30 a.m. Return home / shower
8:00 a.m. Arrive at work
For the rest of they day, see Scenario 1

Scenario 3:
7:30 a.m. Wake, shower, get dressed, have breakfast
8:30 a.m. Take Hans to work
9:00 a.m.-12:00 pm Run errands / clean / do tasks that I don't usually get to do
12:00 pm-2:00 pm Lunch (often with Hans
2:00 pm-10:00 pm See Scenario 1

Scenario 3 is, by far, the easiest scenario.  The problem is, if I'm lucky, I'll get that scenario twice a week.  Generally, though, I have about 500 errands to run and not enough time to run them.  So, what gets sacrificed?  Well there are a few things:
     -Cleaning
     -Cooking
     -Grocery Shopping
     -Other workouts (aka cross training)
     -Lawn care

The cleaning we can sometimes take care of by having Hans go home at 5:00 while I stay at the kennel, and for the cooking we have a toaster oven at the kennel we can use.  Of course, this means that none of our meals are delicious, home cooked meals, but eating pre-packaged fish or chicken nuggets is still better than eating out.  This works until we run out of groceries.  When that happens, we're then stuck trying to figure out what to eat when there's nothing in the freezer.  It kind of stinks.

So, I want to know.  How do others do it?  Can you see some time in there that I'm missing?  Should I not sleep in in scenario 3?  Should I stay up a little later?  Really, I'm looking for any help that anyone is willing to give.

Thanks!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Trust

Trust is an important thing for me.  I feel it's vital in every solid relationship, and I know it's kind of hard to really feel.  I definitely have some major trust issues, and I deal with them constantly.  Because of my trust issues, I often push people away because I have the mentality of "hurt them before they hurt me."  It's kind of a crappy way to live.  This is where dogs amaze me, though.

Cody and Lollie trust me with their lives.  They trust me when I'm angry or sad or happy.  They trust me when I take them to the vet or to the park.  Somehow, I've conveyed to them that I will never, ever hurt them or abandon them, and they reward me with their trust.

For Cody, this isn't too difficult to understand.  I've had him since he was 12 weeks old.  He was only 11 pounds, and he was so vulnerable.  I could have hurt him, tossed him around, mistreated him, but I loved him, and he has loved me in return.  He's become my comfort and my protector.  He's balanced enough for me to use him in lessons to help another dog, and at the same time he's just crazy enough where I know I'm safe if someone tries to harm me.  He's kind of a perfect dog.

Lollie, though, is the one who really amazes me.  I have no idea what the first 2 1/2 yeas of Lollie's life were like.  Pure speculation leads me to believe she was a puppy mill dog, or at least stayed in a very confined space for long periods of time. I  think she's been a mom before, but I don't know how many times.  I know her last owner was loud and harsh (not mean, but not a good suit for her), but I don't know who owned her or how many owners she had before that.  It's taken her a long time to trust me.

Lollie trusted Cody first.  She learned to follow him and play with him, and in doing so she followed him to me.  I've spent a year and a half working with her.  I've introduced her to new people and environments, and I constantly watch her reactions.  At first, all she could in these new situations was shake.  She wouldn't look at me or acknowledge me.  If she stressed out too much, she'd poop.  It wasn't pretty.  After a while, though, she started to get a little better.  She wouldn't stress out right away, but after a few minutes she'd get overwhelmed.  And if anyone tried to pet her she'd shut down.  She just couldn't handle the attention.

Then, today, we did something neither of my dogs has ever done.  We had a chiropractor and acupuncturist come to see them.  I've wanted to try it on them for a while, but I was nervous.  How would they do?  Would it help?  What about Lollie?  Would she panic?

We put Cody on the table first.  He's fairly used to vet exams, so he took things in stride.  When the adjustment started, he looked back at the vet, but he seemed OK.  When we started the acupuncture, his eyes got wide and he looked at me and at the vet, but I held his head, and he tolerated it.

If you know anything about acupuncture, you know it's not just a quick needle-in, needle-out sort of thing.  The needles have to rest for a while, so Cody had to stay still with tons of needles in him for about 20 minutes.  The poor boy was so confused.  He tried to twist and bite the needles out, but when I told him to lie down he did so.  He looked up at me with slight alarm at first, but as I gave him a couple of treats, held him, and soothed him, I felt him relax until he eventually fell asleep.  Lollie watched all of this carefully and at one point even came over to check out her brother.

When we removed the needles, Cody was great.  He was happy to have them out, but he also seemed more relaxed than I've seem him in years.  It was hilarious.

Next, we had Lollie.  The vet and I chatted about only doing acupuncture with her, because we weren't sure if she'd be able to handle all the activity of both acupuncture AND chiro.  I said, "Let's just try."  I had to pick Lollie up and put her on the table.  She was already nervous, and she was starting to shut down.  While the vet worked on her lower back, I held her head and rubbed between her eyes.  It wasn't long before her head started to get heavy, and she started to fall asleep.  It was then that I really started to realize, "She trusts me."  Here we had some random woman she'd never met pushing her in various places, and she was falling asleep in my hands.  Then came the acupuncture.  Since Cody was a little weary of this, I expected the same out of Lollie.  Nope!  As long as I was holding her, she was happy.

As we were letting the needles settle, Lollie kept relaxing more and more.  Her head got heavy, and she leaned to the side until, in a moment of distraction on my part, she fell clear off the table (luckily it was low to the ground).  I thought, "That's it.  She's done for."  Instead, though, she looked at me, looked at the vet, and walked over to her favorite chair.  There, with all her needles in her, she fell sound asleep and snored.

Out of all the things these dogs have been through, their trust in me is unfailing.  They will follow me wherever I lead them (except maybe to the bath), and that's amazing.  For Cody, this means following me on long runs where there are loud noises and lots of people.  For Lollie, this means following me through water and over rocks, even though that's not her ideal adventure.  I just can't get over that sort of trust, and I wish more people were like that.  The world would be such a better place.
Just for fun:  A relaxed Lollie, full of needles

Monday, June 10, 2013

Marathon Training Week 1: Five Miles

Yep, it's that time of year again.  It's time to start training for the marathon, and it's time for weekly training updates.  Woot!

This  year is drastically different from last year, though. 

1) I suffered an injury.  Last year, most of my aches and pains were just aches and pains.  I could run through them, ice, and not think much of it.  Now, however, I analyze every ache and every pain.  Am I just sore or is it something more?  I'm very nervous about injuring myself again, and so I'm being some what cautious. 

2) It took me a long time to recover.  More than anything, this just set me back in my pre-training.  Last year, I was running at least three miles about every other day (sometimes more).  My times were faster, and my mileage was higher.  This year, I'm lucky if I get 3 miles in twice a week, and my pace is closer to what it was at the end of marathon training last year.  This is fine as long as I don't slow down during training, but I find that highly unlikely. 

3) The kennel is already open.  Last year, June went fairly smoothly, but once we started working on kennel stuff in July, the schedule became packed.  My four runs a week with one day of cross-training and two days of rest quickly became 2-3 days of running with no cross-training and lots of rest.  Obviously, this was enough to get me through the marathon, but I wonder how much easier things would have been had I run a little more or cross-trained a little more.

4) I'm not new.  It's interesting in a way.  Last year, I was completely new to the marathon.  My eagerness to not be alone in this adventure allowed me to easily meet new people and bond with them over the newness of the whole situation.  This year, I'm a little more experienced.  I'm still on the novice team, but I know the coaches and the routine.  I have a couple of running buddies on the team, but I'm still hoping to meet some new people.  The problem is, my situation makes things a little harder, and bonding might not be as easy.  Oh well!  I guess I'll just do what I did last year: run up next to someone and say, "Hi!  I'm Valerie."  It can't hurt, right?

Anyway, Saturday's five mile run went well.  I finished in a decent time, and I felt fairly good afterwards.  I'm excited about upping the mileage, and I can't wait to see how I do.  Also, in an attempt to add in some cross-training, Hans and I biked around town yesterday.  We biked to church, then to the pet store, then to the kennel, and lastly back home.  All in all, we went about 12 miles.  I know, as far as bicycling goes it's not much, but it's better than nothing.  In time, I'll up that mileage too (and my rear won't hurt as much at the end), but for now I'm happy with what I've got.  Maybe next week I'll go swimming!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A Weekend Up North

Phew!  What a weekend! 

This weekend, Hans and I went up to MN to see his sister graduate from college.  I find this hard to believe since I still remember her as the 13 year old she was when I met her.  I guess that means I'm getting old too!

The weekend was fun, but it was jam-packed, so let me start at the beginning and see what if I can give y'all the gist of it all.

Saturday
Hans had flown up on Thursday morning, so a good part of the packing and tying up loose ends was left to me.  I was supposed to have had Friday morning off, but due to a sick employee I worked all day (13 hours), and then I had to go home and finish packing.  Needless to say, by the time I had to wake up at 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, I was TIRED.  The good thing about this, though, is that it made the flight pass quickly.  I'm pretty sure I was asleep before we finished take off, and I slept for a good hour or so.  Our flight only ended up being 2 hours and 10 minutes, so I was happy.

When we landed, I made my way out the airport to meet up with Hans who was waiting for me.  Since this was also the first weekend of  marathon training, I wanted to make sure I got a run in, so Hans took me to a park in the cities called Minnehaha Park (don't you love the name?).  It was a beautiful park, but I couldn't help but think how much Cody and Lollie would have loved to have been there.  I already missed them so much!

Aren't these views from my run gorgeous?!

After the run, we drove down to Hans' hometown where we met up with the rest of his family.  It was wonderful seeing them all, particularly my nephew whom I hadn't seen in almost 2 years!  I still can't believe he's 4 now! 

The rest of the day consisted of lunch, an evening Vespers service, and dinner with the family.  Then it was off to bed!

Sunday
Sunday was a whirlwind of activity as that was graduation day.  Hans and I were so tired, we actually elected to skip the Baccalaureate, but we met up with his family afterward for the President's Dinner.  Then came the big moment, the ceremony.  Things were actually quite fast, as the graduating class of 576 only took 1.5 hours to graduate.  That's impressive.  It was a beautiful day, and Hans was able to take some great pictures.
Graduation's over!
After that, we had a very brief rest, and then we went for a celebratory dinner that Hans' mom had arranged.  It was quite lovely.

Yummmm.  Food.
After dinner, we went back to the house to chat, but then it was off to bed for lots of sleep.

Monday
Monday was our last day in town, and we woke up early.  Hans started packing while I went for another run.  This was a run of firsts.  It was the first time I've truly run through his town.  I've tried running there in the past, but that was before I was a runner, and I don't think I'd ever made it a mile.  This time I went 3 miles without stopping.  I was planning to end the run there, but then I met up with Hans' brother.  We had originally planned to meet first thing, but due to a miscommunication, we missed each other.  Luckily, we ran into each other (pun intended), so we went for a while together.  I did an additional 2.7 miles with him.  That was so unusual, because I've never known Hans' brother as a runner.  It was great having a running buddy there, and it was a good way for the two of us to bond a little (YAY!).

After the run, I went back to our hotel (which was the most beautiful hotel ever), and we were served breakfast.  I enjoyed a delicious meal of chocolate-walnut scone, scrambled eggs, home fries, and Texas toast.  Delicious!  Then it was time for me to shower quickly and we had to leave.

We went to Hans' family home and said our farewells (never an easy process), and then we departed.  We drove for about an hour before we stopped to visit my old roommate, Jackie.  She happened to be in town at the same time and was driving home to MO on Monday, so we arranged a meet up.  It was wonderful seeing her and great catching up, but one of the best parts was having the opportunity to meet her new puppy, Winston.
Jackie, me, and Winston.  Did I mention we stopped at Culver's?  They have the best custard and fried cheese curds!
Isn't he adorable?!
After that, we had one last stop to make, and then it was time to go HOME.  As much fun as this trip was, I missed the warm weather, I missed my own bed, and most importantly, I missed Cody and Lollie!!

Our flight went smoothly, and I was soon able to greet my mom and my dogs.  All in all, it was a fun but exhausting trip.  I'm happy to be home, but I'll also miss our family up north.  Until next time!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Stress, Stress, Stress, RUN!

I don't think it's been any secret that I've been abnormally stressed lately.  I've been tired and busy and worrying about so much.  Things happening with the business and Hans' family have left me completely drained, and half the time I don't know whether I should laugh, cry, or simply suck it up and work harder.  It's exhausting AND confusing.

Usually during these times I turn to running, but lately running hasn't been working for me either.  I'm either stressed about when to fit a run in, or I'll have a terrible run that has me questioning my ability to run at all.  Tuesday was one of those terrible runs.

I was hoping to go 6-8 miles, but I was tired and sore.  My legs hurt, and I just didn't want to pick up my feet.  It was a horrible run, and in the end I'd only done 4 miles...barely.  I did do some yoga when I got home, but I was still tired.  I figured I'd play Wednesday by ear, but I knew almost immediately that a run wasn't going to happen.  I was even more sore than I was Tuesday (probably because of the bad run and the yoga), and I just wasn't feeling it.  So, I planned to just do my usual run today, Thursday.  I made arrangements to meet up with my running buddy.  We would only do 4 miles, and I knew I could handle that, so I wasn't too worried.  Still, one of my legs was still sore, and I was worried I'd peter out quickly.

Thank goodness I went!

This run, while not my best ever, was certainly better than others I've had recently.  It was a little faster, my aches and pains went away once I'd properly warmed up, and I felt so relaxed afterwards.  Sure, the last half mile was awful.  Sure I had points where I wanted to walk (although I didn't thanks to my buddy).  Sure, afterwards I was a sweaty, sweaty mess.  Still, though, I did it!  I came home, did some yoga to stretch out a little, and went in to work, and I felt good.  In the aftermath, I thought about a few things:

1) I'm capable of so much more than I give myself credit for.  When I'm feeling weak or tired, I can generally pull something out to keep me going.

2) I'm capable of a lot, but I do have limits.  Just because 6 months ago I could easily run 13.1 miles doesn't mean I can anymore.  Maybe I need to look at things as though I'm starting from scratch.  Instead of planning 8 mile runs, maybe I should just shoot for the 4 milers.  They're a lot more manageable right now.

3) Friends help.  After the first mile or two, my running buddy and I don't talk much.  We're starting to get tired and we're out of breath.  Still, having her there helps.  I'm less willing to walk, because I don't want to make her walk, and it's helpful knowing I have someone else there should something happen.  Plus, well, misery loves company.  :P

Anyway, while today certainly has not been stress-free, I'm much better than I was.  I hope I can carry this feeling for a few days, and, if not, I hope I can squeeze in another (good) run.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Much Needed Sleep

I had big plans for this weekend.  I had planned on cleaning and getting the house in order, so it would look nice before our upcoming trip to MN (we're going up for the SIL's graduation).  I'd cleaned a good deal last week, so I figured I could finish it up this weekend.  Enter hitch number 1.

The theatre community had a beloved friend pass away last week.  It wasn't necessarily unexpected, but the thought of missing his funeral was unthinkable.  So, instead of taking the morning to clean on Saturday, we got dressed up to bid farewell to our dear friend.

We'd woken up late, and we hadn't had much breakfast (just a granola bar), so by the time the Mass was over we were quite hungry.  Note: Always make sure you've eaten a little before a burial or else you might come across as rude when your belly makes horrible hunger sounds.  We couldn't think of anything we wanted at home, so we stopped at Moe's Southwest Grill (yumm).  At this point, it was 2:00 p.m., and we were near the kennel, so we stopped to check in on things.  We finally made it home by 3:15, and I was so tired I could barely function.  I laid down to relax for a bit while Hans, blessing that he his, finished painting the bathroom.  That evening, we spent some time with the neighbors, but I was exhausted and wasn't feeling well, so I'm not sure we were fun to be around.

Sunday we woke up early to go to the kennel and then head out for our weekly pack walk.  As is becoming tradition, after the walk we grabbed a quick breakfast.  The plan was then to head to church, but we were running late, and I was still tired, so we decided to skip.  I fell asleep within 5 minutes of lying down, so I think we made the right decision.  The rest of the day was spent at the kennel with a short break to go grocery shopping.

Then there was yesterday.  I had to work at the kennel in the morning, but I figured I'd get some cleaning done in the afternoon.  The plan was for me to run home (literally run), change, and then get to work, however, Hans, who had the day off, had forgotten to take the dogs with him when he left.  Since Lollie can't run even half a mile, he had to come back to get them.  Unfortunately, he arrived around the same time I was supposed to leave, and I decided to cancel my run.  I just wasn't feeling it.

When we got home, I went over the list of things I could / should do.  I wanted to clean, or read, or cook, or even just sit outside, but by the time I'd taken off my shirt to change, I'd decided to crawl back into bed.  I was just planning or relaxing for a short while, but two hours later I was waking up with a GIANT puddle of drool on my cheek.

We then tried the whole neighborly bonding thing again, and this time it went much better.  We enjoyed hotdogs and hamburgers fresh from the grill, and some freshly made chocolate chip cookies.  Then, it was back to the kennel for the night shift.

This morning, I could have slept in a bit, but I decided to run instead.  I was a little groggy, but it was nowhere near as bad as the exhaustion I felt last week.  Apparently I needed some sleep.  After my simple yet invigorating 4 mile run, I came home and did some brief yoga to help stretch me out.  Maybe I'll even get some cleaning done later!

As I go into this week, I'm going to try to remember one thing: Sleep  A LOT!  Taking a nap is not always a bad thing.  Sometimes you don't need to read a book or just relax.  Sometimes you just need to sleep!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Weighty Issues

I don't like my body.

There.  I've said it.  I don't like my body.

And yet, why?  Why don't I like it?  What has it ever done to me?  It's carried me through a marathon, it allows me to lift 50 lb of dog food (and Cody and Lollie).  I'm healthy enough to bike / run / or walk to work if my car fails me.  I have decent vision, and I'm relatively low on back problems.  All in all, my body had been pretty darn good to me.  And yet, I can't seem to just appreciate it and love it.  Why is that?

This morning, I woke up at 4:30 to go for a run.  I had also gone for a 5 mile run on Monday, spent two hours mowing the lawn on Tuesday, and had run 2.3 miles yesterday.  Today, I really wanted to sleep, but I knew that I "needed" to work out.  As I put on my running clothes, I cursed my thighs which are slightly larger than last year and my belly which was tighter on my shirt than last year.  When I got the text from my running buddy that she wouldn't be able to make it, I was kind of happy...not because I could go back to sleep, but I could do a different work out; one with stomach crunches and push ups and all sorts of really difficult things.  I was exhausted, I wanted nothing more than to sleep for at least another 30 minutes, my body was already sore, and yet I felt it necessary to go work out again.

Well, needless to say, the workout didn't go well.  I started with a slow jog on a fitness path.  My quads were tired and my shins hurt.  I made it to station 1 where I was going to do some core work.  My hands and arms could barely hold on to the bar.  I went to station 2, where I did some lunges and balance exercises.  My balance was poor at best.  Exercises that a year or two ago were somewhat easy seemed so difficult.  I felt like I was moving through a fog.  I went to station 3, where I planned to practice some wall jumps.  I started to jump one time, made it half way over, started to lose my balance, and my jump turned into more of a crawl / shimmy over.  Yeah, I wasn't going to repeat that.  I decided I'd just run the rest of the course.  I made it to the next bend in the course, cut across the field, and walked back to my car.  I got home and planned to do some yoga to help me relax.  I sat on my yoga mat, then laid back, and then rolled over to fall asleep.  The dogs licking my face is pretty much the only thing that kept me awake (luckily they love yoga time).

I was mad at myself for not doing a good workout, but I was also kind of concerned.  Somewhere along the way I've lost any sort of balance in my life.  The kennel takes up 95% of my time.  When I'm not here, I'm either at home cleaning or I'm sleeping.  I'm getting much better about not eating out, but that often means that my meals consist of a Cliff bar, fruit and milk, or soup, fruit, and crackers.  Thank God for toaster oven meals, too.  I enjoy running and the runs I did Monday and Wednesday were mainly for the sheer joy of running, but I need some balance in there too.  I need to do more than just run, but I don't want to cut any of my running days, and I can't really take any extra time out of my day to more on top of the run.

Ideally, I'd work normal hours.  I'd be here from 8am-5pm with only 1 or 2 night shifts a week; as opposed to my current schedule which is often 6am-10pm with 1 or 2 mornings off a week.  To have two full days off a week (like a weekend) would be almost more than I could hope for.  Alas, I don't think that schedule will happen any time soon.  I'm going to have to find balance in my life while I still work 80 hour weeks.  Maybe I need to sacrifice a run for some yoga.  Maybe I just need to take some time to meditate each day.  I'm not sure yet.  What I do know, though, is that something needs to change.

I need to take the time to appreciate what my body CAN do, rather than complain about what it can't.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Staying Strong

Life has been really stressful lately.  I haven't been getting enough sleep, if I have a "home"-cooked meal it's generally made in the toaster oven at work, and work in general seems to be never-ending.  Ah, the life of a business owner.  The good news is that work is, in fact, going well.  I currently have one big stress hanging over my head, but even that has been offset by a lot of good dogs, good clients, and good weather, so there's not much complaining there.  Still, though, life has not been the easiest.

As you probably already know, I tend to alleviate stress by running.  Sometimes swimming or biking will help too, but they're better as add-ons to the running, and lately I've been running a lot.  I've been running a little longer or a little faster, and it generally feels good, but sometimes all it feels is painful.  Sometimes I lose sight of just how tired I am or just how hot it is, and instead of becoming this wonderful, blissful run where I finish feeling great about myself, it ends up becoming some horrible struggle to simply stay alive.  My face is beet red, my arms are flailing about, my legs want to collapse in on themselves, and it's all I can do to just keep moving forward, hoping I can make it home without having to call Hans to come pick me up.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I went out later than usual with the hopes of going a little farther than usual.  I wanted a nice, slow run that left me feeling good about the distance and decent about the pace.  What I got was really, really tired.  Going out later meant it was hotter than usual, and the fact of the matter was that I was already physically tired.  Less than half a mile into the run I realized how much harder this run was going to be than I'd planned, but I continued on.  Three miles into the run, I decided to cut my run short, changed my loop, and slowed to walk for a few blocks.  In the end, I'd run 6 miles instead of 8, and I held a 12:15 pace instead of 10:30 like I'd hoped.  This pace is probably because I walked the last mile.  I just couldn't seem to propel myself forward anymore.  When I got back to the house, I immediately had some water.  I was SO thirsty, even though I'd finished all the water in my fuel belt (Note: I generally don't need any water for a 6 mile run, so two bottles plus a glass is a lot).  I stretched out a little, had some breakfast, and pretty much collapsed on the floor for a few minutes while I let the dogs give me kisses (they like salty skin).

I should have felt miserable about that run.  Admittedly, I wasn't thrilled about it, but I certainly did not feel miserable.  I was tired and hungry, but not miserable or upset.  The fact of the matter is, I still ran.  Ironically, shortly after that run, I read this article in Runner's World.  It talks about how running helps you find who you really are, because when you're that tired there's nothing left but the true you.  And you know, I can't help but agree.  When I'm that tired, I don't care about how I look or what's stressing me.  I just care about finishing and recuperating.

On top of that, I can feel awful during a run and hate the run, but when I'm done running I generally just want to get back out and run again.  And that's great about running too.  No matter how awful one run is, I know it's just one run.  Throughout the run, I could be fighting negative thoughts.  Thoughts that say how fat I am or how terrible I look when I run, but at the end of the run I can still say I ran.  I can still say that I overcame those negative thoughts and did what I had to do.  And that makes me feel good.  It makes me feel good enough to bike to work the morning after a bad run.  It makes me feel good enough to pack my gym clothes so I can go for a swim.  It makes me feel good enough to plan my next run.  It helps me to stay strong, and that carries me through the stressful days as well.  So, here's to running!