The 2011 send-off

This morning my Facebook status was: Here’s to giving the year a good kick in the butt and inviting 2012 with open arms. Good riddance, 2011.

I returned home from my little Portland trip with my family and immediately went on a run — outside. (Refer to previous blog post to understand the significance of this).

The sun had already set and there was only a bit of light in the sky. But barely, I wore all my reflective gear and since it was pretty cold, I even wore gloves and full length spandex. (The only times I ever wear full length spandex is when I run in the snow!) I like running in the dark though. You can just listen to the “darkness” — and for cars. The last thing I would want would be the victim of a hit-and-run in the ER on New Year’s Eve.

You know, despite a difficult 2011, it wasn’t all that bad. After all, it was the year of the rabbit, and being born in 1987, it was supposed to be our year. 

I ran my second full marathon, and even though I didn’t PR, I did it. In other racing adventures, I did set a PR for my half-marathon time this year in May. I was able to visit Hawaii twice in one year — once for a Frisbee tourney and a second time with my bro to visit relatives. I didn’t get fired from my job.

More on 2012 resolutions, the 2011 picture of the days, etc will be coming in the next few days. I just wanted to write this real quick before I headed off into the night, that 2011 wasn’t the worst. I am sorry I had no faith in you. I am sorry I didn’t treat you with respect at times (refer to above Facebook status update).

But, I am not sorry that I am looking forward to 2012. May it be full of many job offers (as my former boss/editor sent me in a message yesterday).

Happy New Year, everyone!

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Treadmills are for those with no soul — and a lot of will power

I love running. I hate treadmills. Treadmills do not equate to running. Ask any runner.

This morning however I was doomed to the treadmill if I wanted to get any “running” in for the day. I am in Portland with my family and even though it’s a mini vacation, my dad has planned out every hour in our day. This meant I had to wake up at 7 a.m. if I wanted to run. Well, it’s still dark out at that time. I didn’t pack any reflective clothes or lights, so to the “fitness center” of the hotel I went.

I gave a mini prayer as I walked to the fitness center that no other people would be there so 1) no one would watch how ridiculous I look on a treadmill and 2) I wouldn’t have to wait to use said treadmill.

There was a man on the elliptical. Aw, well, only one person to judge me and no waiting — that’s not too bad.

Too bad the last time I used a treadmill was a year ago — during physical therapy for hurting my back and I used the treadmill for walking — so I am really not that familiar with them. Before the PT-treadmill stint, I had never been on a treadmill. And, I know why. They are horrible.

I pressed the “power” button expecting the ground below me to start moving. Nope. The TV monitor in front of my face turned on instead. I wanted to run, not watch TV! (Later I found out that the TV is there for a reason — if it were not there, anyone would die of boredom and want to shoot themselves).

After pressing an assortment of buttons and inputting my weight, how long I intended to exercise, date of birth and social security number, I was ready to roll.

I slowly began to increase my running pace. I felt like I was flying! But, I looked down to see that I was “only” running at 10 min/mile pace. For someone who can kick out a sub-9 min/mile half marathon without difficulty, you’d think this would be easy. It was not.

With every pounding step, I thought I was going to roll off the thing. Plus, it was just boring. And, those mirrors in the room … yes, I know I look disgusting at 7:10 in the morning, you don’t need to remind me!

I started playing around with the buttons, discovering my pace, how many calories I was burning, the time remaining in my run, etc. However, in the midst of my button-pushing frenzy, I accidentally pressed the reset one. The treadmill slowed down and came to a stop. I had shut the darn program down.

The man on the other side of the room must have thought I never exercised a day in my life. I’m a runner, I do the outside, not the treadmill!

I started the program up again and I was “running” once again. Seriously though, most boring thing ever. And I was sweating profusely. It was gross. The 30-minute “run” felt almost just as long as the last three miles of my most recent full marathon. Almost.

I clocked in at 3.03 miles in 30 minutes. That’s sub-10 pace so I’ll accept it. (The fastest I could set the thing to was 8 min/mile pace and I nearly thought I was going to roll away).When I stepped off the treadmill after the full 30 minutes, the floor below me felt like it was moving. I felt like I was gliding. Is this what it feels like when you’re on crack? And then I started feeling nauseous. I went outside of the hotel and stood in the pouring rain. It wasn’t dark out anymore. I should have been running out here.

Treadmills are for those with no soul — and a lot of will power.

Now, I’m going to have to run tomorrow when I’m back in Seattle. I can’t let a treadmill “run” be the last one of 2011.

 

Don’t watch, you’re making me nervous

Since I’ve been at my job for a year and three months and three weeks (but who’s counting anyway?) I don’t really get nervous before going out and hunting down sources or making cold phone calls. It’s just part of my job now. Interviewing people is fun because I get to meet and talk to people who will either become important sources later down the line (or, I will never see again!)

Today after an interview, the businesswoman told me she was really nervous before our interview because she had never talked to anyone from a newspaper before. It caught me by surprise. I never thought other people would be intimidated by me. I didn’t think accomplished 39-year-olds would even admit to being nervous talking to me. I told her that she did a fine job but she said it was thanks for me making the situation comfortable. I was easy to talk to, she said.

In fact — she was so scared, or just thought it would be amusing to bring someone along — she had her business friend with her. At the end of the interview her friend asked if it would be OK if her husband emailed me because he was interested in maybe pursuing a career in journalism. “Do you ever have people shadow you?” she asked.

I smirked and said “no” and that having someone follow me around would probably make me nervous. None the less, I told her that I would be happy to answer any questions her husband may have on my job.

It’s like when you can parallel park perfectly when you’re alone but if there’s someone in the passenger seat, you can never seem to park at all. Don’t watch, you’re making me nervous.

I’ve got everything I need this Christmas

As I was on my way to work the Friday before Christmas-weekend, I received a text.

“Kristin, call me when you get the chance!!!!! :D”

The five exclamation points and that wide-grinned emoticon gave it away. One of my dear friends had gotten accepted into medical school.

*****

Often times during the holiday season, we get wrapped-up (ha ha, you see that pun there?) in the hustle-bustle, in the-where-the-heck-is-a-parking-space-at-the-mall?, in finding the “perfect” gift for a loved one, in planning vacations, in wondering why people turn into crazy drivers at this time of year, in preparing the best family dinner, that we forget about everything else. We forget about everything we already have.

I’ve got everything I need this Christmas.

I am financially secure. Sure, I always complain that I am underpaid at my job (which I am,) but I am able to pay my monthly rent. I am able to afford groceries. I can pay for the gas in my tank to get from point A (S-dale) to point B (Seattle!) and back again. And, I still have some money left over for “fun things” like going out with friends or playing at an ultimate tourney in Hawaii — or running marathons. While many people my age may be in the same situation as me (and I know others that are less fortunate,) what differentiates me is that since I was lucky enough to have parents who paid for my four-year undergraduate education — can I at least give a shout-out that I had some partial academic scholarship? — I am not paying off any students loans. I never had to take any to begin with.

I have a supportive, understanding, motivational family. Sure, the family that I wish I could see this Christmas are either two states south of me, or are divided away by the Pacific Ocean, but I can’t complain. I see them enough on Facebook (just kidding). We’ve shared great vacations together in the past, and I know we will have great ones sometime in the future. And, my immediate family here — my mom, dad and brother. They’re alright enough to spend Christmas with. After all, they put up with my constant complaining (note “supportive, understanding” in the first sentence of this graph). I love my family.

I have the best friends ever. Yes, I know you think your friends are the best ever (which they may be, if you are my friend), but mine truly are the best. They listen to my problems, stories, daily frustrations of a source not returning my calls, monthly toils with job rejections. They run with me — and some of these runs have been more than two hours long. They visit me in West Sound — that’s a ferry ride away! They send me news article links that they think I may have missed to read online. They send me motivational text messages. Their good news — hello! read above, Phyllis got into med school! — is just about enough to keep me going. Because, they all work just as hard as I do. And I work darn hard. They are caring, fun(ny) and simply the best. Sure, there are some friends that I haven’t seen in a few years because they are busy saving the world elsewhere, but they’ll have to come back again eventually to see me (or their families).

I am fully employed. As much as I dislike my job, I can’t complain on being unemployed. Been there, done that. I have a full-time job with medical (which includes dental and vision). Did I tell you I have a company 401(k) too? Full-time employment is supposed to make you more marketable for other jobs, so I’ve heard. My job may not be in the best location. It may not be in the best industry to be in at this moment in time — journalism! I may not enjoy working with all the people that I do. But, just the other day someone brought in little hand-made Christmas goodie-bags for each person filled with chocolate and other goodness, and even though I do not like chocolate that much, I’ll give these people (continued) chances. I have a job in “something” that I majored in — how many people my age can say that?

I am healthy. Sometimes people may doubt that I am emotionally/mentally healthy from reading the “depressing” posts about my job. But I swear, I am not depressed. Emotions aside, I am physically healthy. I am able-bodied. I can freakin’ run marathons. Sure, I feel and look like death afterward, but I can still do them. Maybe this week I haven’t run because I am having mid-back pain from who knows what and my left foot still hurts from wearing death heels last week, but these things will pass. Very soon I’ll be out there on the road/trails, doing what I love. Running.

I’ve got everything I need this Christmas. What’s your everything?

And, this is not to say that gifts will not be accepted this Christmas, because they will. But, good luck finding something I’ll need. I’ve got everything.

Why I will never not wear a watch

You know when you’re with a group of friends and there’s always that one person that gets the “What time is it?” question addressed solely to him or her by others because they know that s/he has an iPhone in an easy-access pocket?

I’m that person minus the iPhone. I wear a wristwatch — my running watch to be specific.

It’s the first thing I put on in the morning when I wake up, sometimes even before my glasses! I shower with it so I don’t take too long of showers, or just to know what time it is while I’m cleansing. Unlike people who may forget their cellphones on the kitchen counter, I never run out the door without my watch. I know never is a strong word, but it’s true.

I feel naked without my watch.

So, Tuesday morning when I woke up to find the face to my watch blank, I had a split-second of panic. I know it was just the battery that was dead, but that meant 1) I’d need to find a mini-screwdriver to open the back of the watch to figure out what type of battery I needed and 2) go to the store and buy a battery. Of note also is that I do not own tools such as a mini-screwdriver. And I didn’t have time to take care of my technology problems before work — there were sources to hunt down and pages that needed to be copyedited by yours truly.

I put the pink digital watch around my wrist even though its function as a watch was completely useless. My left wrist didn’t feel comfortable going through the day without its companion.

And of course throughout the entire day I kept glancing down at it, looking for the time.

The next day I went to the mall to one of those little watch repair kiosks to have them remove the old battery and put a new one in for me. (I wasn’t about to buy a battery and a mini-screwdriver tool!) The woman looked at my watch and said she could do the task for me no problem. She (looked at her watch) and told me to come back in about 15 minutes and it would be ready. I was almost about to reply that I would wait there … I haven’t signed any papers, she hasn’t taken my name down, the worst that could happen is I return and she has no recollection of who I am or the watch I brought in.

My watch is very dear to me.

Sure, I’ve gone through numerous watches throughout the course of my watch-wearing years, but each one has held closely to my heart. I actually couldn’t tell time when I probably “should have” been able to. But then again, I was also behind on regular grade level reading skills, which explains why I had to go to summer school between first and second grades (that can be a story for another time). I had analog watches (like the ones where Mickey Mouse’s arms were the hands of the watch) and since high school — when I started running cross-country — went to digital so I could have a timing device for workouts/long runs.

Since about high school, I’ve had a permanent watch tan. It doesn’t even go away during the winter months.

And I’m not about to give that up.

I don’t belong belong, but I belong enough

Belonging.

Everyone wants to belong — belong to a family, to a group of friends, on a sports team, in a community, in a workplace.

I haven’t wanted to belong in the community I work in, the people and issues I cover for a newspaper you have never heard the name of.

It was not my community. Some areas do not even have sidewalks for me to run on. These were not my people. I had no friends here. I had no real connection to anything, anyone, or any place here. It’s not even a city. I was born and raised in a city so this was the first deal-breaker for me. But, a job is a job and here I am.

This evening was the first time (throughout my one year and three months time at the job) I was able to attend the local community council’s meeting. (Once again, it’s not a city, so there is no city council with power or anything). They meet once a month but until recently with our press deadline being at the same time as their meetings, I could never attend. I’ve met a few of the community council members before through other organizations or projects. The president knows who I am because he emails me their agenda and we’ve run into each other many times at various other meetings and events. But I was afraid that most of the people would wonder who this strange girl was.

I was wrong. More than half of the members I had met at least once before. Of course since they are active in the community in this aspect, they are involved in other ways. There were only about 10 “common folk” in the audience and what did you know, I knew two of those people as well!

Despite my resistance from wanting to belong to the community, I was happy to see the familiar faces. And, not just because it makes it easier for me to quote people in a story. It made me feel like I belonged.

When you’re supposed to know the ins and outs of every business, county road project, school district budget cut, transportation and any other type of issue, I guess it’s difficult to not be involved. Being involved leads to belonging.

After the meeting was over, I went up to one of the community council members to say good night.

“So, you finally came around to a meeting, Kristin” he said. “It’s good to see you.”

They even know my name.

 

Why I will never wear high heels again

I’m pretty basic in my clothing choices just because I prefer to be comfortable. Not because I am boring, or have no style. And although I splurge once in a while — or too often — on some items like jeans or jackets (or jewelery and jumpers — just kidding on those two, I was just continuing with the “j” words), I’m pretty simple.

I prefer comfy shoes, which is why my collection of high heels is maybe four. I wear none of them on a regular occasion. And I’ve rediscovered the reason why: comfort.

Last Friday I wore a pair of red high heels that I bought at a discount store for like 10 dollars a few Halloweens ago. I wore them this time for a holiday party and it was probably the second time they have been worn. They fit nicely in the fact that they don’t give me blisters or scratches on the heels. They do however leave you in pain after the first two hours of wearing them and leave you in discomfort three days later.

I’m not good at estimating but these heels are probably two to three inches high, and clearly too high for my feet to handle. Because of the pressure from standing, the soles of the front part of my feet and my toes were in extreme pain by the end of the night — dancing probably didn’t help. I did kick them off while singing to Mariah’s “All I want for Christmas” (which is probably the best thing to come out of the mid-’90s) but had to put the death shoes back on since I got tired of avoiding stepping in spilled beer on the floor.

I don’t know how other girls do it, wear high heels on a regular basis. I could barely do it for one night.

Saturday I woke up and the soles of my feet felt tingly — like that pins and needles feeling. Even when I went on a long run, it felt “funny” the entire time. Not painful, just funny. By Sunday the “funny feeling” disappeared from the right foot and only remained on the left one. Did I sprain my foot muscles? I soaked my feet in a hot bath that evening.

And today, the “funny” feeling has almost disappeared but is still present on a few toes on my left foot. I don’t really notice it when I am sitting, but can while walking (or doing yoga).

Is this normal? Probably not. Otherwise no one would wear high heels, right? Or, do half the women in high heels walk around in numb feet all the time?

[This is the closest photo to seeing the death heels because no photos from that night included them. P.S., like Annie’s head gear?]

If my foot isn’t completely normal in the next few days, I seriously may call a podiatrist — or just blog about it some more. And, throw out those high heels (or donate them to Good Will. I just feel bad to do that because no one deserves the pain they cause and the aftermath “funny” feeling on your soles.

We must have been really smart in high school to wear our running shoes with our nice dresses to the senior homecoming dance. (Maybe we were nerds. Maybe we were cross-country runners. Maybe we were fashionable?) There is photographic evidence of that night somewhere …

I wore my running shoes to work today. And I plan on wearing them the rest of the week. Comfort is always superior.