Tuesday, November 24, 2015


This year I've been keeping a "grateful list" -- an old school journal started many years ago, but with remaining pages.  I couldn't bring myself to post something like this on FB, so many similar posts make me roll my eyes.  And it hasn't been convenient to post the list here (I write as I get in bed each night).  So the journal has worked well. 

It's been fun to look at the journal itself.  It keeps falling open to pages I wrote in 2007 on our trip to Europe when we got engaged.

But, in an effort to get back into the habit of blogging and bring things back up to speed, here's a rough run down of my current "grateful list" as I sit at my desk eating lunch.

I'm grateful that we got to go on an amazing vacation for most of October, enjoying time in the AndalucĂ­a region of Spain, all over Morocco, Southern Italy, and then a final day in Milano.  The trip was one of our best ever and we honestly had trouble on the flight home trying to decide what the "low point" was (I concluded it was getting ripped off by a cab driver in Tangier (charged us the equivalent of $7 when it never should have been over $2), husband concluded it was spending as many nights in Tangier as we did, considering it was actually our least favorite part of Morocco and the nights would have been better spent elsewhere). 

I'm grateful that I still have 2 vacation days to use over Christmas!  That means my "work remotely from Italy" plan worked!  It was 100% worth it to carry my work laptop all over creation with us.  The goal was to do 50% on a Wed., and then 75% days on Thurs and Fri.  Of course the very nature of vacation in my job means there's tons of stuff that builds up when I'm gone, and I was able to easily blow through tons of it.  I actually worked the equivalent of 3 full days I think, instead of the 2 full days I'd planned. 

I'm grateful that I have a lot of job security.  While I was on vacation, my co-worker (who just started in January!!!!) gave her notice.  And her notice was basically "I'm quitting in 2 weeks, but I have some unused vacation and floating holidays, so I'm out of here next week actually."  That was horrible.  Fortunately, we were able to recruit back someone who quit a few years ago, and she'll be starting next week.  It will take some time for her to get up to speed, but far less time than it would take with anyone else we could have hired.  So right now, my main excuse for not having posted since we got back to the US, I'm basically working double time.  I'm handling all my cases, plus all of my co-worker's.  It's impossible.  I'm not really "handling" them -- I'm doing more triage than anything.  All my major reporting deadlines are passing me by and I'm powerless to even make a dent into my "real" workload -- but for the most part, I haven't horribly dropped the ball yet as far as I know.  It's scary, because years ago, when I was hired, it was a situation like this -- I was coming in to take over for someone who had left the office a few weeks earlier.  And my old co-worker (the one who quit's predecessor, who is still with the company but in a different role) was basically managing a double workload.  And she inadvertently had a lawsuit go into default on her watch.  She was notified it was served, intended to retain counsel, but failed to actually do so.  Total disaster in our industry.  We were able to work around it in the end, but I feel like it's just a matter of time until I basically do the same thing.  It's impossible and unrealistic to manage this kind of caseload, so if/when I drop the ball, I have a feeling my boss will be forgiving.  I just hope it doesn't have dire consequences.

I'm grateful that I'm running.  I wore my ankle brace religiously on vacation.  As the weeks went by, I noticed a decrease in the amount of pain and swelling (though it's still a bit swollen).  By the end of the trip, I could walk for hours with no pain at all, unless I was on any kind of side sloped surface (think walking on a sidewalk, crossing a driveway that slopes down to the street).  I went for a follow up doc's appointment, and got the all-clear to start running (wearing a brace) as long as I was pain free.  Well, running in the brace lasted all of 5 minutes.  That thing was going to blister me like no one's business.  So I'm wearing the brace for boot camp, but I'm running brace-free -- trying to stay off all sloped surfaces (frequently running in the middle of the street; luckily, not many cars at 5:15 on the streets we run), trying to avoid stepping on any kind of rock or pebble or acorn or anything else that might cause my ankle to rotate out or in.  There's some definite medial (inside) ankle pain when I get over about 6 miles.  But the places the doctor said to watch for pain (and immediately stop if there was any) were all on the outside of my ankle and a bit into my calf (where the stress reaction or fracture is).  No pain there at all, so I'm proceeding.  I ran 13.1 miles this past Sunday.  Pace was terribly slow, and I definitely would have had trouble going further, but it's miles.  The plan is still to do a marathon next weekend (WTF????!!!).  Fortunately, it's never a marathon I intended to race.  It's a girls' weekend trip, and I may do the full with my bestie if she does it and our paces line up.  I don't care if there's walking involved, I'd just like to finish.  I read Amy's post about basically doing the same thing -- running a marathon severely underprepared, but just because she can finish, and because she likes to run.  And so many people can't and/or don't.  And that's basically my attitude.  I think the race will be fun, even if it takes 6 hours.  And I don't think it will hurt me to do it (if there's "bad" ankle pain, I'll absolutely stop). 

I'm grateful that we don't have to travel for Thanksgiving this week.  I get to keep up my longest streak race (huge local Turkey Trot (over 30k people I think), 8 mile distance for maybe my 12th consecutive year?).  We are going over to my former boss's house for dinner as we've done the last couple years.  And this year, I'm going to endeavor to make the main course for me and my friend (ex-boss's wife, my former co-worker in Big Law) -- the vegducken.  Butternut squash stuffed with an eggplant stuffed with a zucchini stuffed with scallions.  Looks labor intensive but we shall see...

I'm grateful my husband is feeling better.  He came back to some work chaos as well, and (my theory...) got stressed about it, wasn't sleeping well, etc., ended up with a weakened immune system and caught an upper respiratory infection.  He was down for the count for about a week (even took a sick day, which is rare for him).  He got better, finished off the steroid pack, and then within a week or so, he felt like he was getting the same thing.  He was considering going back to the doctor, but as of this morning, he thought he was actually around the corner, making a comeback, feeling better. 

I'm grateful some family drama has resolved.  It unfortunately began last week Monday morning, and continued throughout my nearly 100 hour work week.  Lovely.  The short version:  my sister-in-law was very upset because I had asked her kids what they wanted for Christmas the first weekend of October when I was up there for the marathon that wasn't.  And then I bought them what they wanted.  And it turns out that I can't return things on Amazon after more than a month.  And it turns out what they asked me for (and what I bought) is also what they wanted from Santa.  So she was freaking the f out about it.  Which was awesome given my work hours and stress level.  She was texting me all the time about it.  Unnecessary lost sleep for me stressing about it.  But we found a solution -- she is buying the gifts from me for the kids from Santa, and she is going to shop for new gifts from me and wrap them.  Win-win.  I told her my whole point was to be done with them (and a lot of the rest of my family) before vacation, buying as much as possible small items that I could wrap here and fly home with, rather than large things I'd ship there and then have to hurriedly wrap in the days before Christmas.  But I honestly don't think our relationship wasn't harmed by all this -- I'm not a quick forgetter or an easy forgiver unfortunately.  I'm left feeling kind of bitter and unappreciated -- there was no "it's so great you did all this to make my kids happy" and there was a nasty voicemail from her telling me I "just don't understand because [I] don't have kids".  But I shall try to let go and move on...  Either way, I'm grateful it's over, resolved, done. 

I'm grateful I finally got back to writing.  Just sitting here for half an hour, checking out of the office mentally, it's nice.  Not sure I'll ever get caught up on blog posts I missed while I was gone, but at least I'm back to reading, which is always what I've liked to do. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Travel oops

I had grand plans of scheduling posts about last year's trip to Nepal, India and Dubai to come up over the next few weeks while we are in Spain, Morocco and Italy, but alas, time got away from me. 

And to further complicate matters, I'm having trouble uploading pictures from my camera to the blog, so my revised idea of sharing just a photo a day is also scrapped. 

What can I say? 

Super excited about the trip.  We are about to leave for the airport because my husband's birthday is while we're gone and I got him what I hope will be a gift he'll love, but it will be enjoyed at the airport beginning in a couple hours. 

Tentative itinerary (we haven't really booked much, planning to wing it again as we did in India):

Toledo, Cordoba, Seville, Grenada in Spain,
Then to Algicieras to take a ferry to Tangier.
Then Tangier, Chefchouen, Fez, Marakesh in Morocco.
Then a flight to Lamezia Terme (connecting in Milano).
Then about 6 days in Lamezia seeing my husband's family.
Then a day in Milano, then a flight home.

For the first time ever, I'm going to try to work while on vacation.  I scheduled 3 partial days of work while we're in Lamezia.  Kind of a trial run to see how it works -- if it goes well, maybe when we're back in 2 years, we can extend our trip a week or so without me using vacation.  And then eventually, maybe I can work there for a month, then a few months, then half the year!  That's a ways down the road.  I'm also hoping working partial days will make it less painful to come back to weeks and weeks worth of unread emails. 

Have a great few weeks!  By the time I get back, it should only be another couple weeks until I can run again (already trying to find the positive...). 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Shirt question

What are the rules on wearing this shirt?

I started the race but dropped out halfway through (my half-marathon time registered). 

I fully trained for the race.  I was in the middle of peak week when I fell (I had done my 22 miler, followed by a 9 on Tuesday of that week, had set out for 6-7 the day I fell, had 8 on the schedule for the next day, and an easy 5 on Saturday, then I truly would have been in taper mode). 

When I ran the San Fran marathon in July, the woman I bought the bib from on Craig's List wanted to keep the shirt.  I thought that was weird and a little ... unethical?  That might not be the right word, but it seemed disingenuous.  She knew at least a week before the race that she wouldn't be starting it.  I bought a shirt at the SF marathon expo and I wear it a lot (I like the color), even though my name doesn't show up in the official results. 
The photos don't show this shirt well.  It's almost a forest green colored shirt, with a blue-ish undertone. 
Anyway, what say you?  Can I wear the Lakefront Marathon shirt, even though I DNF'd?  Or should it just be a throw-away? 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Two Halves

Two halves make a whole right?
Does it work that way if you're trying to be a 50-stater? 
Unfortunately, I'm sure the answer is no, but if it were yes, Wisconsin would be crossed off my list!
I had an amazing weekend at home and wish I had time to write more.  The bullet-point recap:
  • I worked from home on Thursday (home where I was born!).
  • Finished up around 1 (I had an early flight and had worked on the plane).
  • Went to my grandpa's house to see him and borrow his car.
  • Grabbed lunch from my favorite build-your-own salad bar.
  • Ate salad in the car on the way to Chicago.
  • Horrendous traffic the last 10 miles of the drive.  70 miles in about 60 miles, then 10 miles in about 60 minutes.  Ugh! 
  • Got to meet my new 6-week old niece! 

  • Went out for dinner with my baby bro, his wife, and the baby. 
  • Awesome pizzas.
  • Hung out with them most of the night, got to give my niece a bottle.
  • Worked all day Friday.
  • Dinner with family (including next youngest bro, his wife and their 3 kids).
  • Saturday morning tracking my friends running St. George.  Amazing results, tons of PRs.  3:03, 3:10, 3:20, 3:23, 3:24, 3:44, and on, and on!  They had great weather -- cold at the start, gradually warming up as they descended. 
  • Saturday morning at my nephew and niece's football game, which they won 50-0 or something, and during which I sat freezing in a chair, covered in blankets and coats, remembering why I'm so glad I don't live in Milwaukee anymore.  The best part was my niece who wasn't playing football -- she likes to play dog (who I've named Scout), and after she'd gotten her shots, barked, growled, eaten treats (pretzel sticks), gotten a ??? in her paw, and played fetch, she curled up on my feet for a little while.  I lamented out loud how maybe I'd have to go to the shelter so I could get a lap dog, she curled up in my lap for a long time.  It was warm (she's a little furnace) and I can't get enough of her hugs.  It will be 2.5 months until I see her again.  She just turned 6 a few weeks ago and I worry the "playing puppy" stage will end soon. 
  • Picked up my friend at the airport.
  • Expo (small, but well-organized) (best part was seeing 35 years of shirts and medals -- though they didn't have medals the first few years, then it was more like medallions for a couple years, then by the early 90s it was medals that have steadily improved over the years). 
  • Naps!
  • Cooked dinner at home, pasta and garlic bread, a little for me, a lot for my friend who was trying to break 4 hours the next day.
  • Early to bed, $hitty sleep all night.  I have no idea why.  I usually sleep like a rock when I'm alone back in that bedroom of my childhood (different story if my husband is there, it's a smaller bed than we're used to, and a creaky floor, so I hear when he gets up to pee).  I totally zonked out every other night, but the night before the race, as is usual for me, I was up almost hourly.  Either getting up to pee or just looking at the clock and worrying it was time to get up. 
  • Alarm was set for 4:50, and I woke up for the last time around 4.  Tossed and turned and then gave up on trying to sleep around 4:30. 
  • Drove back downtown and we took the shuttle bus from the hotel to the start in Grafton.  We ran into a friend from our training program in Dallas and got to ride with him on the bus. 
  • Pre-race inside the high school.  Bathroom lines were manageable, and there was no line outside for porta-potties for anyone who didn't care about indoor plumbing.  Sat on a staircase in the high school and we got organized and chilled out in the warmth. 
  • Race started.  The weather was thoroughly perfect.  Low 50s, overcast, amazing. 
  • I walked and after a mile or two, was almost at the very back.  I realized my plan of walking for a couple hours might not work since I could see the police car behind the last runner, and I realized maybe they enforced the 14:52 pace minimum from the outset. 
  • Tried to jog, realized I definitely cannot run, but found that I could do a 100% pain-free shuffle kind of thing, that was faster than walking.  But still allowed me to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
  • Caught up to 2 guys talking and they said something about Texas.  That was all I needed.  I just invited myself into that little party.  They were doing 3-1 run/walk intervals, and their run was very close to the shuffle pace I found comfortable.  It was about 6 miles of awesome with them.  A first timer named Kimberly joined us for a couple miles of it. 
  • Around mile 8, just after we started on the Concordia University campus, Arthur stopped for the bathroom, Matt surged ahead to catch a few other friends, and Kimberly slowed down to walk more, so I was alone again.  I stopped to take some Lake Michigan pictures, so beautiful. 
  • Continued on solo about half a mile, then started talking to another person who was staying around my shuffle pace with no walk breaks.  Kathleen, a music teacher from Crystal Lake, Illinois.  We talked for miles and it was great.  Finally around mile 12, I was worried I was holding her back, so I took a walk break and wished her well.  She was hoping to break her 2014 time of 5:40, and I looked her up -- she did!  5:34!  Matt finished in 5:09, which was faster than I think he planned, but I'm guessing he felt great.  And Arthur finished in 5:48!  And he's 68!  I wasn't able to look up Kimberly, but hopefully she was also happy with the day. 
  • I made it to the halfway point, and while I felt good (and my ankle felt 100% the same), I dropped out.  The wisdom of friends (real world, blog commenters, FB friends) and my husband had sunk in -- keeping my mind on the big picture (future races, being healthy and able to move around in Europe later THIS WEEK (eeeeeek!!!!)).  I had been carefully watching my step (and I mean every single step, I spent most of the race looking mostly down), and part of me thinks I could have finished, but I respect the distance.  There's a big difference between a half and a full.  I think I was around 2:50 for the half, so if I'd stayed around the same pace, I would have finished around 5:40 (and therefore beaten my very first full ever!).  But of course, it was far from certain I'd stay around the same pace, and the idea of being out there for about 3 more hours did not sound fun.  I warmed up at times, but at other times, especially along the lake, it was cold and windy.  I'd pitched my long-sleeve shirt around mile 1, and about 10 seconds later, I went back to pick it up, realizing I might need it later -- good decision! 
  • At the half, there was a sweet girl named Allie who'd dropped out.  Felt dizzy, weird numbness, and her parents were coming to pick her up.  She was so disappointed in herself, and really down in the dumps, all kinds of friends and family had come to watch her and she felt like she'd let them all down.  Her parents were nice enough to pick me up as well, and we all drove to the finish together.  I tried to help her feel better, reminding her there would be a lifetime of races if she wanted, but that if she didn't want, there's no requirement to race to be a runner, or she could do races other than the marathon, or she could just do activities other than running, she has tons of options, and for her family, finishing 13.1 miles still seems like quite an accomplishment, even though it wasn't what she wanted, and they were still undoubtedly happy to have been there to see her run some and to support her. 
  • At the finish, I found my family and then joined the finish line crowd to wait for my Dallas friend.  Unfortunately, I saw the 4:00 pace group, and then 4:10, before I found her.  She finished in 4:12 and was a bit bummed about missing her sub-4 goal, but in great spirits anyway to have finished with one of her top 3 or 4 finish times.  She'll get it eventually, and she knows it. 
  • Quick showers, then we went out to Lakefront Brewery for lunch.  Beer, cheese curds, fries, and a grilled cheese sandwich.  I ate like I'd run the full!  Oops...
  • Then a trip to Leon's, for Wisconsin's best frozen custard.  I went with 2 dips (all summer long, during marathon training, I thought about looking forward to having possibly my first 5 dip cone ever, but alas, half the distance, half the scoops...).  Vanilla topped by mint.  Divine. 
  • We went to visit my grandpa one more time.
  • We went to see my brother and my niece "Scout" (who was acting like a human on Sunday). 
  • Then we went to the airport for pizza and beer, then flew back to Dallas.  My ankle and foot felt a little tight sitting on the plane, but I think my brace may have been a bit too tight, particularly since my foot may have swelled some in the air. 

An all-around wonderful weekend, even if it didn't include the highlight marathon that I imagined it would as recently as 3 weeks ago when I finished my 22 miler.  Oh well, better safe than sorry!  And if I'd kept plodding along as I'd considered, of course it's possible I would have hurt my ankle more, but it's definite that I wouldn't have had enough time after the race for the couple final family visits. 

And good news yesterday -- even though I got home late and got to bed very late, I woke up for boot camp Monday morning, and my ankle felt the same!  I had some very mild soreness in my quads (totally normal for me after a long run; while 13.1 wouldn't ordinarily be long, it probably is after 2.5 weeks off).  And now I'd say I'm totally back to normal.

If only Sunday's unofficial half (my time registered at the half mark, but I think the online results are only finishers; thankfully I got a results print-out at the finish line so at least I have my own little documentation), could be paired with my decade-old half time from the Journeys Marathon in Eagle River to count as one Wisconsin full.  Oh well, someday (assuming I go for 50 states, and possibly even if I don't, just for the convenience of racing near family), I'll be back. 

The Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon only had 3500 runners registered (it was capped), and only 2300 finishers.  Not sure if that's normal, or if maybe less than 3500 registered.  It was very well-organized.  The race director was walking around inside the high school before the race start, checking to see if anyone needed anything!  And as I feared, being toward the back of the race, the participants were very far spread out.  Normally, that might make me a bit concerned about staying on course.  However, for this race, at I think every single street that was not a private driveway, there was a volunteer with a flag, making sure we all stayed on course.  It was absolutely incredible course guidance.  And so many of them were encouraging, calling us by name (printed on our bibs), and telling us how great we were doing!  I still feel a little teary thinking about it.  So many nice people.  The course was pretty.  I wouldn't say it was flat, but there weren't any significant hills in the first half (and my definition of a "significant" hill probably encompasses things people in hilly places wouldn't even notice).  There were a fair number of spectators who'd come out from their houses to cheer us on, lots of cowbell!  The weather was a dream.  The pre-race buses were flawless, ample, easy.  Waiting inside the high school was great.  Looked like there was lots of food for the finishers.  I'll definitely consider it for my legit Wisconsin full some day!