Half-Marathon Completed, 2014 Goals, and Holy Canoli, Seahawks!

IMG_20140202_143251_963Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you had a great Super Bowl weekend to those that watched.  Mine was awesome since I not only ran a half-marathon in beautiful conditions and a great course (thank you, Sweet Baby Jesus, for keeping the rain away throughout the race… we could’ve done without the headwinds, but thank you regardless!), but I also got a chance to meet Tonya!  Despite lacking some serious sleep for the past few days, she’s as sweet, nice, and funny as she is on her blog.  She’s also a really cool and considerate roomie (gotta love the dynamics of “I’ll pay for this,” “No, *I’ll* pay for this), and we had a pretty good set-up for race day because Parking Karma was on our side.  The course is beautiful, scenic for the most part, and pretty flat, so I highly recommend it.   Plus, we got the cool surfboard medal, which is as stylish as they come in my opinion.

Afterward, I raced back home so B and I could go to his friend’s Super Bowl party.  Since everyone there was a Seahawks fan, the house was totally crazy throughout the game!  Both offense and defense played incredibly, and I thought the win was well-deserved.  Another bonus of running a half the same day is that I was able to get my glutton on guilt-free with the great spread they had – 7-layer dip with lettuce on top that had a sour cream design of a football field?  I’ll take a couple of yards, please!  Chocolate-covered strawberries in the shape of footballs?  Don’t mind if I do!  Angry Orchard apple cider (since Washington is known for its apples)?  Once it hits your lips, it’s *so* good!  Two points if you get the last reference, by the way. 🙂

Other than that, there’s been a couple interesting financial scenarios that occurred these past couple weeks that made me realize that B and I are not aligning (yet!).  They’re not bad or anything, but it made me realize that our past habits or strains of thought do not equate to a ‘we’ thinking as I still think of things as ‘me’ while he still thinks of things as ‘he.’  I’ll post about it once I gather my thoughts (and stop eating everything this side of the Mississippi).  Also, here’s a quick rundown of how I’m doing so far with my 2014 goals:

1) Stay debt-free.  Pass!  Anything wedding-wise has been budgeted, and while my parents have requested some things that would increase our budget, I’ve managed to reason them out of it or just appeased them.

2) Have a ‘savings’ rate of 40-45%.  FAIL!  My savings rate was 32% rounded, which is at least higher than my 25% average last year (though I did have three paychecks this month).  A large part of this was the above and my car needing some repairs (I had funds for this, but since I took out of ‘savings’ this was a negative saving).  February might end up being the same thing, though I’m thinking by March or April that I’ll be able to accomplish this.

3) Read 24 books.  3 so far.  I read “The Reason I Jump” (interesting though not what I expected), “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” (disliked, he seems a lot more negative, and not in a clever way), and “The Fault In Our Stars” (um, yeah, I didn’t realize this was a young adult novel until I started reading the dialogue.  It made me cry, though).

4) Continue with Spanish.  Fail.  I did about 1-2 hours a week, when I should be doing it a day… I get really lazy after work and weekends have been a little cray.

5) Learn one new Filipino dish, and one new German dish, each month alternating-  Fail.  See excuse for #4.

It looks like everyone’s had a great January so far, but if you didn’t do a recap let me know how you did (or heck, if you did, tell me again or what you plan to do in February!).

Confessions of a Somewhat-Procastinating Early Bird with a Love-Hate Fitness Relationship

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One of my favorite running spots

Jefferson’s post on his typical run was so awesome, I decided to go ahead and plagiarize become inspired by it and create a timeline of what a usual weekday morning workout routine looks like for me.

4:34 a.m.* – Yes!  I’ve woken up before the alarm goes off at 4:45, I’ve already “won” for the day – suck it, technology!  Now time to sneak out the room ninja-style as to not waken the grumpy bear.

4:35 a.m. – 4:50 a.m. – brushed my teeth and hair, changed, prepped my work clothes, and chopped up our morning fruit with a quickness – just call me butter, cuz I’m on a roll!

4:50 a.m. – 5:10 a.m. – I know I should be leaving, but what human tornado entered this place (I’m looking at you, B!)??  Can’t. Stop. Organizing. And. Wiping. Things. Down.

5:10 a.m. – 6 a.m. – Okay, arrived at the gym and ready to get my buff on!  Dangit, someone’s on the cables, time for Plan B.  Okay, first set – one, two, three, four, five, *mind wanders*, dangit, what rep am I on?  Let’s just say eight… (Continue at least 2-3 times with various exercises).

6 a.m. – 6:15 a.m. – Time to run outside!  Hrm, still dark out, better chill a bit so it gets a little lighter and better pack my pepper spray.  Please Sweet Baby Jesus, don’t let there be wandering coyotes/strays or creepers because, as you’re aware, I’m not fast by any stretch of the imagination.

6:15 – 6:20 a.m. – Alright, start of the run – set my iPod to a 45 minute run, let’s do this!  Bones creaking, not yet in my groove, shuffling my feet until I warm up… what do you mean it’s only been 5 minutes, Lady who lives in my iPod??  You’re a b!tch!

6:20 – 6:30 a.m. – Okay, I’ve got my groove now!  Starting to get light out, look at the cool kayakers on the bay!  My shuffle is starting to get into prance-mode**.  Life is good!  Wow, it’s already been 15 minutes, Lady in my iPod?  Time flies!

6:30 a.m. – 6:40 a.m. – Nuts, the cars are starting to come around… hey, share the road, busters!  *Motions with my hands* Go around, go around…

6:40 a.m. – 6:50 a.m. – Ah, my favorite part – the extra segment that cars/bikers/runners usually don’t frequent since most take the short loop.  Savor this because it’s a nice place of solitude.  What a great view of the water, palm trees, and… wtf, is that a skunk?!  Ruuuunnnn!!!***

6:50 a.m. – 7 a.m. – Last leg and you can go home, you got this – let’s put on some happy music like Black Eyed Peas to set the pace right!  Oh crap, a pack of morning runners going the opposite direction of me, finish strong, yo, do-not-walk, do-not-walk!

7 a.m. – Yay, back to my car!  Thanks for congratulating me, Lady in my iPod, you’re my BFF!  Now time to race home and shower… and subsequently have an energy crash around 10 a.m. 😉

*This could also have the reverse effect of me snoozing the alarm and not waking up until 5:15 or so.  In that case, then I usually say “dangit, well I can run a couple of miles at least!  You won this time, technology!”

**Allegedly, I prance instead of run according to gym and runner friends alike.  I’ve come to embrace and accept this.

***Only happened once, but it did happen!

And to be honest – I don’t do this every day!  It’s my favorite routine, but I do more or less time (or only do weights or only run) depending on what time I wake up.

What’s your morning (or workout) routine thought process? 🙂

November Updates – Debt Repayment, Fitness/Running, and Wedding

Hi everyone – holy canoli, only 30 more days until we ring in the new year!  I’m starting to formulate some 2014 goals, so I think for December my goals are to “finish strong” financially and mostly fine tune some of those 2014 details (and realistically throw out some lofty or out-of-my-control ones).  Here’s what went down in November with things that I usually update about:

1) Debt repayment – I cannot tell a lie, I didn’t complete Michelle’s Black Friday Challenge and pay off my credit card debt, though she managed to pay off *two* so be sure to go over and congratulate her!  I did manage to pay off $300 which brings my total to $3789.  I’ll for sure pay off credit card by 2013, and thinking about just taking the remaining balance from my EF/savings and have all debts ($3789) completely paid off.  I figured why not start 2014 anew, I’d rather pay back myself than those darn companies, and the remaining is a balance that I feel somewhat comfortable parting with.  I always worry about poo hitting the fan, but know that if it came to that, B’s got my back.  Should I just do it?

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Why hello there, seasonal BFF!

2) Fitness – I’ve been somewhat following Jamie Eason’s workouts, and starting to see results strength-wise with frequenting heavier dumbbells more, as well as making gains in squats (though this is attributed to B, since I join him during “Leg Day” and he definitely pushes me past my comfort zone despite him being the most awful testosterone-driven meanie who tells me to suck it up when I whine about how heavy something is).  Physically, I’ve only lost a couple of pounds, but my clothes fit better at least.

3) Half-marathon training – I’m getting in 3-4 runs a week and my longest has been a 7 miler.  It’s been nice, but so chilly con carne outside!

4) Nutrition – this area could for sure use more work, especially with Trader Joe’s bringing back my seasonal BFF, dark chocolate covered shortbread cookies.  Nom to the nom!  Besides, isn’t it good for carb-loading for my runs?

And now, onto my favorite updates – the wedding!

1) DJ picked!  She’s given awesome ideas, such as introducing us to the Vitamin String Quartet of which I am *loving* their rendition of Viva La Vida.  We’re toying with the idea of playing them throughout the dinner and making it a game where our guests will guess which songs they are (like Bohemian Rhapsody, Thrift Shop, Don’t Stop Believin’).  It’s kinda cheesy, but also kinda us. 🙂

2) Florist picked!  Flowers aren’t really high on my priority list so I was having a mild heart attack at the cost of really simple flowers, but we found a really cool guy at practically half the price.  Not only that, but he took the time to leaf through pages and examples with me, explaining different flowers, and has beautiful ideas for my bouquet (a round and neat mix of anemones and lisianthus in deep purple, with specks of mini red roses).

3) Honeymoon taking shape.  I told B I really want to go to one area of South America, he agreed it would be awesome and wants to add on another area, and he’s starting to work on this aspect thanks to some oh-so-very-subtle hints I’ve given like “um, so you got this, right?” 😉  But in all seriousness, we both started working on this during the long weekend (him prior), so it’s been exciting.

IMG_20130927_164556_3304) Wedding dress fitting – I went for my first fitting and I absolutely can’t wait to wear it, and campaigning for Wedding Dress Fridays in lieu of Casual Fridays at work, so hopefully it’ll pan out. 😉 I heard that tailoring costs a pretty penny and this is accurate, but I was at least prepared for it.  I’m wondering how the the re-sell prospect will work out with how it’s being tailored since I’m tailoring the hem, as well as the hips/tush part so it’s less A-line and more form-fitting.  I think I’d have to sell locally so people can try it on to see if it works out for them.  I’ve also decided on these shoes, though will probably drop down to flats once we start dancing.

5) Hairstyle picked – I’m going for this hairstyle and I’m going with my usual hairstylist whom I love and trust.  I need to figure out make-up still.

I hope everyone has a wonderful week – so crazy that there’s only a few weeks left in 2013!  Make it some great ones. 🙂

Half-Marathon and November/2014 Goals

Happy Friday, everyone!  So you know how I was mulling over signing up for the half-marathon?  You know, the mulling over that was like a hot minute ago… but anyway, I signed up!  I made little deals with myself and completed them in a shorter amount of time than I thought, so I pushed the confirm button.  The deals were to lose 2 pounds (this was probably from less eating when I had bronchitis, but I’m counting it anyway), to run three miles (did 4), and to sell stuff to recoup the cost (which I did rather quickly, though sadly as I loved the Sky dress I sold (but, I knew I wouldn’t get anymore use out of it)).  I started these on Monday, by the way, and didn’t do it in a span of two days.

So I’m running a half with Tonya (and Michelle and Kathleen, while Mrs. PoP just so happens to run a full, as well!)!!  So if you feel a surge of endorphins that day, it’s probably due to all the running events going on everywhere!

Oh yeah, but I didn’t follow the Cash Rebel’s School of Economics lesson of signing up for the full versus the half.  A full would have been a better bargain in terms of cost-per-mile since it was only $10 more overall, but I know myself well enough that I’m nowhere near ready for a full, both in terms of planning since wedding stuff will come to a head, and physically.

Here’s my training plan so far, since I want to get enough miles in but also still focus on Jamie Eason’s weight training plan (that’s a great workout plan, by the way – learned some new things!).  I made it flexible enough that I can either combine two workouts into one or probably skip my Sunday workout, though the latter tends to dorkily be B and mine’s “day date time”:

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Thank you everyone for convincing me the race fee is, indeed more of a health/wellness expense versus entertainment/fun (which is where I’ve always considered it).  That’s a great change in perspective since I do agree it’s not as frivolous as I perceived it to be, but rather an investment in my health.

As for as other November goals, it’s mostly to get rid of cc debt through Michelle’s challenge, and to focus on my 2014 finances per Shannon’s great post on Fall goals.  I’m still old school and use spreadsheets over Mint (love that new spreadsheet smell! ;)), and have fresh 2014 monthly’s/overall to populate.  A big goal is ‘saving’ 40-45% of my total income next year (safe goal of 30-35%).  When I say ‘saving’ I mean putting it towards retirement, investments, and actual savings, but that’s quite a jump from what I’m currently averaging (slightly less than 25%).  I do think it’s possible since debt repayments/wedding stuff will be squashed during the first few months of 2014, but I’d still like to cut costs since I’d like to go with a higher rate.  We do plan on combining our finances (but still keeping a portion for personal accounts), as well, so that’s another layer of figuring out my our finance strategies/goals for next year.  While we’re both eager about starting a family, we’re pretty terrified of the costs, so we just want to line our ducks in a row as much as possible.  I’ll report about it more when plans firm up!

Anyone else have November or 2014 goals that I can copy be inspired from? 🙂

October Repayment and Half Marathon Musings

Hi everyone!  Since we’re fairly close to October’s end, I thought I would give a brief update on my debt repayment.  This month didn’t have a flurry of September birthdays, but there were a couple more wedding payments (florist, DJ), which resulted in a repayment of $272.  Michelle at Shop My Close Project posed a Black Friday Debt Payoff Challenge (to get rid of one bill), and I’m ready to get rid of the credit card balance once and for all.  I wasn’t too worried about paying it off completely as I did with other credit cards earlier since this one is sitting at 0% interest through the end of the year.  But, to keep things simple and since it will be end of the year before I know it, I’m committed to paying that off on Black Friday.  Is anyone else doing her challenge? 🙂

Another thing I’ve been mulling over lately is signing up for a half marathon.  Another PF blogger is practically forcing me to sign up for it (I won’t mention her name, but her blog rhymes with Mudget and the Meach)… I mean, look at what she wrote:

“Love the medal!! I don’t love the price either but wanted to do a big race. YES, I’m for sure doing it! DO IT!”

Did you see the big capital DO IT?!  If that isn’t compulsory language, I don’t know what is! 😉

Okay, so obvi she isn’t forcing me… but I have been seriously considering it for the following reasons:

1) Awesome medal and schwag!  Some gals love bling, I love me some race bling, and this one is in the shape of a surfboard!  My favorite is the earthy look of Big Sur‘s, but this would easily take its place.  I also love the race tee since it’s the trifecta of what I love most – long sleeves, v neck, pink!

2) I was going to sign up for a local one, anyway.  I don’t know where we got the idea, but B and I are starting to talk about purchases that cost more than a given limit (as in, run things by each other).  I already got the go-ahead from him with a local race, but it ended up being the weekend of my bridal shower so I put the kibosh on it.  So this just kind of transfers?

3) Tonya’s running it, and Michelle and Kathleen are running another race the same day!  What cooler way to hang out with another PF’er than a running event!  It’s like being able to go to FinCon… except nothing at all like it.

However, now that I’ve learned some things from the PF-blogosphere, here’s some cons to it:

1) It’s pricey.  It’s really expensive for a half (especially since a full is only $10 more), plus I’d have to consider transport costs since it’s not local.  Lodging I’m not too worried about since I have family around there, at least.

2) I’m so close to no races this year – while technically the race isn’t until 2014, I’m paying for it this year.  I also get concerned that if I allow myself this, would I revert back to my old ways?  I don’t think I would, but thoughts like those are always in the back of my head.

3) This is 100% a want – as I had an extreme rush of excitement at the prospect of signing up, Shannon’s post on “How to Handle the ‘I Wants,'” quickly deflated that excitement as I realized I was on extreme emotional overdrive and tempered it down.  I do feel I would have recognized this prior to actually making the payment, but it was kind of trippy how timely that worked out in reading that article!

So, I’ve decided to just give it time, muse over it for a few days, and then decide with full rationality and consciousness that this is what I want.  Hopefully it won’t sell out by the time I decide, but even if it does, then that’s just a part of how things work out sometimes.

Having the Ramos Legs

Growing up, I remember having stockier legs than the other girls – everyone seemed to have thin legs, and I was so envious of that.  When I asked my mom why my legs didn’t look like the other girls, she just stated matter of fact, “You have the Ramos* legs – I have them, grandma has them, and your aunts have them.”  She said this not really shamefully, nor wistfully even, but with a connotation that it’s just something I had to deal with.

So throughout my teen and college years, I struggled with the fact that I had the Ramos legs, and that they were just something I had to live with.  I remember feeling awkward how everyone had room in the thighs when wearing shorts, while mine were more snug.  I remember constantly wearing black tights to make them appear slimmer, despite the silhouette just making them shapelier.  And I remember sneaking to borrow my mom’s Thigh Master, in hopes that constantly doing them will give me legs like Suzanne Somers.  Countless things to try and slim them down, because I just didn’t accept them, and deep inside, didn’t accept me.

Then, I found running, and after awhile, I noticed something going on with my legs.  As I started testing my boundaries and capabilities of what I can accomplish through them, I noticed they weren’t really getting any slimmer, but they were getting more muscular and more defined.  Beyond these physical changes, I noticed that my perspective on them changed – not automatically, but over time.  That my legs are what they are, and they’re not stocky – they’re muscular, strong, and resilient.  They can handle enough endurance to complete marathons and half-marathons, and all the training miles associated with it.  They’ve taken me on countless hikes, the Trans-Catalina Trail, and the summit of Mt. Whitney.  And they’ve helped me bike the California coastline, and constantly forgive me despite giving them battle scars from the countless times I’ve toppled over my mountain bike.

They’re strong and have endured so much, and, over time it started to gel that I view them this way because I am strong and have endured, not only with my physical activities but also from some life challenges.  And, I’ve realized, that these Ramos legs are the best things I could have inherited from my mom’s side of the family.  All these amazing women who have endured and gone through so much – raising children, divorces, financial hardships – yet still push forth.  And we all carry this family heirloom that not only have a strong presence in the physical sense, but is symbolic of our inner strength and endurance for life’s constant challenges.  Because of this, I am no longer dealing or accepting the fact that I have Ramos legs – but I’m proud of it.

So if I’m lucky enough to have a daughter someday, and she also carries the Ramos legs and wonders why her legs are shaped the way they are, I’m just going to respond, “Because you have the Ramos legs – Congratulations!  It means you’re strong, resilient, and capable of whatever lies ahead of you.”

*Ramos used to depict my mom’s maiden name, though it’s not really so.

Why I began running

It’s National Running Day, and instead of taking advantage of the Rock and Roll running series discounts, I figured I would talk about why I began running.  Though a part of it was purely physical – I had some weight to lose and thought I would take it up in order to get rid of the excess weight – there were a lot of mental and emotional connections to starting, and staying with it, as well.

My first year of college, my dad passed away… during spring finals week, to be exact.  Though I had some fond memories of him when I was young, throughout my teen and early adult years, it was tumultuous.  He was a “get rich quick” type, and would take on businesses.  When they didn’t pan out, he’d try again, and since some relatives in our home country had some success, he went back there to get a piece of the success.  While he was there, he also decided to take up a mistress, which became the downfall of our family unit.  He also did some pretty shitty stuff in addition, but something I’m not getting into.

He came back to the U.S. with said mistress (and what became of the mistress after his death is an amazing story on its own), right around the time I graduated high school.  Because of this, I kept him at an arm’s distance, so much so that I didn’t even know how critically ill he was until he was on his death bed.  Seeing him from healthy over New Year’s to emaciated in June was tough, and something that’s burned in my memory.  I was pretty numb at his funeral.

After his death during college, I was so busy with classes and social activities, that I didn’t really process his death.  Once I graduated, and had a more balanced schedule with free time, it all came to a head.  Maybe it was a mixture of quarter-life crisis, gaining weight, and having time to reflect, but with all this crazy energy, I went for a run.

I chose this set path that I was familiar with.  At first, I was huffing and puffing, noticing even a half-degree incline and struggling with it.  A car with d-bags honked, frightening me, and I became so frustrated that I vowed to choose another activity.  But then, I looked to my left, and noticed the ocean, the sun setting, and how beautiful it was, and decided to try one more time.

That time became multiple times.  And over time, the runs became easier, both from practicing better stride and becoming fitter.  But I also noticed some mental and emotional changes stemming from it.  At first, there was so much hurt and unresolved emotions from not talking with my dad, not having a chance to confront him or make amends before he passed away.  I recall feeling these emotions at a beginning of a run, but with the rhythmic breathing I had to do while running, it would all dissipate by the end.  I suppose it’s like active meditation, and this is when I became hooked on it.  I felt that running was a remedy for hurt or pain, despite the irony that I at times felt physical pain when I ran longer and longer distances.  The trade-off for mental balance and emotional calmness was well worth it.

And, over time, the most notable thing I noticed was the progression of the hurt and pain from his death.  I’m a creature of habit and tend to go on the same running routes (so much so that I’m pretty sure I was a hamster in a past life – I can run on the dreadmill for 10 or so miles and not get bored), and I would know the routes like the back of my hand, from every turn to every incline and practically every crack on the path.  And, as the months went on, I would notice how, hey, last month when I went around this bend, I felt a lot sadder than I am now.  I felt better and better each time, and my awareness of it was uplifting.  I would notice this upward trend every week/month and had a mental graph of it, and after awhile – I didn’t feel the hurt anymore, as my happiness was off the charts.

I guess, in some way, running helped me make peace and resolve issues in unresolvable situations.  I think about my dad now and I no longer feel bitter or sad, both because it’s been many years and due to using running therapy (and not gonna lie, traditional therapy).  I still don’t feel love or happiness, though, to be quite honest… just ambivalence.  But it’s peaceful, and it’s what works.

So when I run now, there are times when I do still tune out and just run… but often I’m hashing things out, whether about work, relationships, or whatnot.  It’s given me a lot of mental clarity and emotional balance, that the physical benefits of it is just icing on the cake.  And for that, I’m grateful I found running.