Wednesday, October 31, 2007

My Latest Book

Yes, folks, the software manual went to the printers about an hour ago. My latest tome, written with one of my co-workers, is a happy 276 pages, not counting the title page, copyright page, table of contents, and index.

We'll get a proof soon, make a few final edits (I've already found a groaner in the index--aarrgghh!), and then it will start printing "for real."

What a relief. We beat the deadline. I've worked 11+ hours for the last three days. Time for a break.

Maybe I'll actually e-mail a friend or two. I haven't done that in a long time.

Oh, and Happy Halloween, Reformation Day, All-Souls, etc., everyone!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Binge

I've been on a binge. I guess that means this is confession time.

I remember the days when I used to eat butter-soaked grilled-cheese sandwiches as snacks. And dunking sticks, every night, from the vending machine in college. And bagels with mountains of strawberry cream cheese for breakfast every morning. And I never, ever exercised.

That was 15-20 years ago. Since then, I've been pretty good.

But this weekend I went on a binge. It's been building for a long time. It started with the chocolate at work. And it's gone downhill from there.

Yes, even health-nuts like me fall off the wagon.

I was doing a pretty good job of avoiding the ubiquitous chocolate at work. But it never ran out--several mornings a week, the big orange pumpkin would be full again.

I finally caved. Truthfully, I've never met a bite-sized Kit-Kat or Twix I didn't like. And what's weird is that, once I've (re-)introduced my body to junk food like that, I become less and less inclined to eat my usual fruit smoothies and salads and whole-grain stuff.

So this weekend, after two weeks of nibbling, I devoured a box of Kashi Autumn Wheat cereal, ate French fries, had half a bag of Chex Sweet & Salty Honey Nut snack mix that I impulse-bought at a gas station, downed a greasy bran muffin at the coffee shop, and nibbled on a mini-bag of Reese's Pieces. Yes--not only have I been eating junk food, but I've been avoiding my usual healthy foods. Why? No idea.

And of course I haven't felt like running at all, partly due to an minor but painful injury to my baby toe, and partly because I've been giving myself junk.

Oh, I did have an apple yesterday. And a banana--in a peanut-butter-and-honey-and-banana sandwich for lunch. Aarrgghh. At least I it was on 12-grain bread.

I have to stop this ridiculousness. At the rate I'm going, I'll end up at McDonald's before the end of the week. Folks, I don't eat at McDonald's. I haven't eaten at McDonald's in years. I don't even like McDonald's.

No, I probably won't end up at McDonalds. That was just me being hyperbolic.

Anyway, I went for a run Friday afternoon and felt like someone had put water in my gas tank. Had no energy. I even got a side cramp. My stomach complained.

Then Friday night was the toenail drama, which prevented me from running in a 5K race yesterday evening--an idea I had been dallying with since I wasn't able to go to the Lexington BBQ Festival.

That's about the time I impulse-bought the Chex Mix.

So today is supposed to be a 9-mile long run. I'm going to wait until this afternoon to give my poor toe a bit more time to heal. I don't know if I have 9 miles in me. But I have to get myself back in shape. The holiday season is around the corner, and I have an unbelievably sedentary job and am working some unbelievably long hours of late. That's not a very good recipe for staying fit and avoiding Depression.

Yes. Fitness and physical health are nice side effects of a healthy lifestyle, but for me, it's mostly about avoiding Depression.

So. I'm signing up for a November 5K and a December Half-Marathon. And I may not have 9 miles in me this afternoon, but I'll go as far as I can.

There. Confession time over. Time to get back to work.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Working Too Much!

Welp, I got my 40 hours for the week in before I ever showed up for work today.

Yes, I'm working too much.

The good news: I only have to work for five hours tomorrow.

The better news: We're going to meet the deadline for sending the manual to the printer.

The best news: My friend Jeanette in California is safe.

The really bad news: I can't think of a single interesting thing to blog about tonight.

Good night!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Extreme Work, Extreme Play

This is just going to be a brief update because I'm on my lunch quarter-hour and need to get back to work ASAP.

I ran a good race and had a great hike this weekend. I covered a total of about 27 miles on foot between Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon.

It looks like I'll be breaking the 60-hour barrier for work hours this week. I hope to post race and hike reports before I forget all the details.

Pictures to come! I promise!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Extreme Weekend Ahead?

It's 5:30 a.m. and the coffee's brewing. I can hear the Hubster snoring in the next room. Hideaway Cat is sitting in the "client chair," a lawn chair that I keep next to my desk so she can sit near me and I can pet her while I write.

I'm a little nervous about the upcoming few days. I think this weekend might classify for the title of "Extreme Weekend."

Today I have to work 11 hours. At least. That's why I'm up so early. That's why I'm leaving for work in a few minutes. I've been putting in 10-hour days for the last two weeks. So that's why no one has gotten e-mail from me in ages, and why my blog posts have been few and far-between.

If I put in 11 hours today, I won't have to go to work tomorrow.

Which means I can run the half-marathon tomorrow.

Then I'm supposed to go backpacking.

Yes. Backpacking. And it's supposed to be cold.

Some friends from Alabama will be visiting, and Hubster has made plans for all of us to go on an overnighter backpacking trip--our first in several months, and their first ever. When the plans were made, he didn't realize they were for the same weekend as the Worldwide Half.

So. Today: Work 11 hours.
Tomorrow morning: Run 13.1 miles.
Tomorrow afternoon: Backpack six miles.
Sunday morning: Backpack six more miles.
Monday morning: Go back to work.

See what I mean? Extreme weekend.

I don't know if this is a good idea. I'm really too old for this. I'm probably going to wear down my defenses and get sick. My better judgment is just shaking its head.

I miss George.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Half-Marathon Plans

As you may have figured out, my life lately pretty much consists of (1) being at work, and (2) running. Yes, I manage to fit a few other things in--a half-hour of piano here and there, quality time with the hubster, bathroom breaks--but mostly my life has been 85% work.

I was starting to have mixed feelings about running my half-marathon this weekend. I knew I was going to have to work on Saturday, even if it meant showing up at noon, and sweaty and stinky as all get-out. No, I'm not a workaholic or married to my job ... it's just that I know the work has to be the priority for the next couple of months, and I've accepted that.

Then yesterday we went into "emergency" "must-program-at-last-minute" mode on one of the projects I'm working on. Basically, the programmer discovered something that could have turned into a real problem down the road. So it's good that he discovered it, and it's good that we were able to start work to rectify it now rather than later, or not at all.

Still, it took time. I have an October 15 deadline (that's Monday, folks) and about two weeks' worth of work to complete in that time. It'll get done, somehow. I've been seriously buckled down for weeks now, and I just need to buckle down some more.

Today is Wednesday. Barring any more "emergency" "must-program-at-last-minute" situations, I'm still up against the clock, big time.

We're not allowed to be in the office Sundays, which is probably a good thing. But I really need to put in some hours this weekend (in addition to the 10-hour days I'm putting in this week).

What to do, what to do? I have a half-marathon to run Saturday morning. I am so completely not in the mood for it. I so want to just get my work completed and be able to relax for a couple of days before gearing up for the next big deadline.

My thoughts are this:

1. Go to work on Saturday morning, work all day, and get everything done that I can.

2. Wake up Sunday morning. Run a half-marathon for my Worldwide Half race.

3. Take it easy Sunday afternoon, knowing I've done everything I can at work, and knowing I've participated in my first Worldwide Half. Clean house a little bit, read a little bit, and rest up for the hectic week ahead (next deadline is the end of October).

Of course, I don't like the idea of missing out on the fun of a road race (I'm starting to like road races, strangely enough). I'm thinking I'll go ahead and continue my training regimen and run the Thunder Road Half again in December. There's always the chance that work responsibilities will get in the way again, but then again, they might not.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

A Medal! For Little Old Me!

This morning was the Smoky Streak 10K and 5K. I ran the 5K and had a blast. The weather was perfect--low 60s and partly cloudy--and the run was along back roads of the western NC mountains.

As with the last 5K, I had the feeling that the run was more of a "group effort" than a competition; I leapfrogged with two other women for most of the race, and all three of us ran good races because we were pushing the other two.

I finished in 26:46, which is 8:36-minute miles. I'm tempted to shave three more seconds off, since it took me about that long to cross the starting line, but I'm happy with my "official" time. It's definitely a PR for me--nearly a half-minute faster than Thursday's run!

And here's the amazing news: I got second place in the women's 35-39 age division! I got a medal and everything! The naysayer in me notes that there really wasn't a lot of competition to start with (it was a very small local race), but I'm not going to listen to it. Instead, I'm listening to the happy voice that's saying these things:

- A PR is a PR!
- 26:46 is not a shabby time for a not-entirely-flat 5K race. Not a shabby time at all.
- I ran a good race.

Tomorrow's a long run (but shorter than my recent long runs have been), and then I'm taking it easy all week because I have a half-marathon to run next Saturday.

Life is good! (even though I'm at work right now ... after the 5K ... on a beautiful Saturday afternoon ...)

Friday, October 5, 2007

"Speaking of Faith" on Autism

On the way home from work tonight, I listened to "Being Autistic, Being Human," the Speaking of Faith podcast where Krista Tippett talks with Paul Collins and Jennifer Elder, parents of an autistic boy named Morgan. If you are at all interested in autism, or in Asperger's syndrome (higher functioning than autism), the show is worth a download.

My half-sister Rebecca is autistic, so I was of course interested in the show. One thing they said was that autistic characteristics seem to be passed through genes, only some people are farther to the edge of the spectrum than others. I've definitely identified with certain of Rebecca's personality traits, like the unusually good memory for details, and the ability to focus so intently on something that the world could end and I wouldn't know it.

The first time I ever learned anything about autism was in the seventh grade, when I read One Child, by Torey Hayden. I vividly remember reading that book--the pity I felt, as well as the horror, the fascination, and the sadness.

The "Speaking of Faith" interview is a good listen. You can download it here.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

27:03

I ran this morning. I probably shouldn't run before my first cup of coffee. It causes me to forget to engage my brain in important decisions.

Like the decision to turn an upbeat, brisk little 3-mile tempo run into an all-out 5K race with myself.

I woke up to the roaring of ocean waves, thanks to a nifty new alarm clock Hubster bought last week. (Our old alarm clock still works beautifully, but both of us had learned to sleep right through it.) I was so tired this morning. Didn't want to run. But I got up anyway and made it to the gym for 6:00.

Today's running assignment: 3-mile tempo run. I've begun "tapering," according to my training program, which has me cutting back on my miles during the two weeks before the half-marathon.

I don't like to taper. I am feeling so strong when I run these days. Maybe I'm nearing (or at) my "peak" for this training season. I don't know. But I was full of energy this morning. After a brisk one-mile warm-up around the indoor track, I hopped onto the treadmill for a run with my morning news.

I pushed myself. For the first half-mile, I averaged about 6.5 mph (I can never remember the minutes-per-mile number). Now, if I'd stayed at 6.5 mph for all three miles, it would have been the kind of run I'd planned to run.

But I felt so strong, so energetic, after the first mile that I upped my speed. I slowed down a little bit at 1.5 miles, to about 6.2 mph, the slowest speed of the run. Then, at 2.0 miles, I went back up to 7.0 mph ... and inched my way up to 7.5 on the tenth-of-a-mile marks. At 2.5, I slowed to 6.8, then sped up a bit more, and finished my "5K" in 27:03.

I felt great. I was tired, but I felt great! My race PR for 5Ks is 27:11, which means I ran faster than my race PR! And I was running caffeine- and Gu-free! 27:03 translates to an average of 6.9 mph, or 8:43 min/mi for a 3.1-mile run. That's fast. For me at least, that's fast. I know some treadmills say that you've run faster/farther than you really have, so maybe it wasn't that fast, but that's OK.

I may well beat my 27:11 race PR this weekend.

After a cool-down walk/run and 10 minutes of stretching, I headed for the showers, and then to work.

I'm running a 5K race on Saturday, then a 10-mile long run on Sunday. Then I'm going to take it very easy next week. My half-marathon is only a week and a half away!

Hmmm ...

I just re-read this post. I used words and phrases like "tempo," "taper," "cutting back on my miles," "peak," "training season," "brisk one-mile warm-up," "PR," and "my half-marathon."

I guess this means I'm really, truly, officially a runner now, if I wasn't already. :)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

60-Hour Work Weeks

I knew it was coming.

It's development season. My boss sent out an e-mail to everyone yesterday, saying that we need to be putting in 50-55 hour weeks, plus Saturdays, for the next few months.

They told me when I interviewed for the job that this would happen. I accepted the job knowing I would eat, sleep, breathe, and poop software for four to five months of the year.

I'm kind of excited about it, in the way I always got excited about exam week in college. Something in me loved exam week. Something in me got high on the madness of it.

Five months is a long time. I think I'm up for it. I have to be up for it. I have my writing schedule, and I have my running schedule. I'm planning to run a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, and I may well train for a March half-marathon. Just to keep myself sane and motivated through the fatigue and the cold.

The downside: No long-weekend getaways until March. No short-weekend getaways until March. Late nights. I'll miss Hubster, George the Piano, Beau the Cat, Franzi, Sebastian, Dr. House, and Detective Stabler. Ah, the men in my life.

The upside: Overtime pay, baby. Overtime pay. Money isn't always a priority for me (as my dear Hubster will lament), but it is for now. And I'm thankful to have a job that provides it.

It helps that I like the job, too, and the people I work with.

Time to get to work.