March 30, 2008

Shuffling Through It

I ran the Shamrock Shuffle today, and much to my surprise I actually ran it. I first ran the Shuffle two years ago. My roommate at the time, Sara, and I did it as a way to get fit for an upcoming trip to Hawaii. We trained religiously for months (running no less than three times a week) and as the big day came we grew more and more nervous. Our goals were to finish the 8k/5 mile race, not stop running and to finish in under an hour. We met all our goals.

This time around, to say I trained is an overstatement. I ran a few times outdoors, never really consistently and never more than 3 miles at a time. My attitude heading into the race this morning was to finish by any means necessary - that included walking when need be.

Well I surprised myself today. Despite my non-existent training schedule, I mustered up some inner strength and ran the entire race in under an hour. Well I did walk for a 10 second stretch at the end. There is this tiny hill within the last quarter mile of the race that my legs could not handle. But other than that, it was a smooth race, and in some ways easier than the first time I ran it. For me, the nicest thing though was learning that I've got more inner strength than I give myself credit for. Unfortunately, my weak legs are already paying the price for my inner strength.

Kudos to my fellow runners, Sara, Sarah and Jenny. Way to go ladies! I couldn't have done it without you.

March 27, 2008

Solitary Confinement

When I was a journalist I often worked alone. I interviewed my own sources, I followed my own leads and I wrote my own stories. It was a solitary process I undertook most times in a newsroom of people going through their own similar solitary process. It was only when it came time to printing my words on paper that my editor intervened. He or she would read my story, make suggested edits or suggest calling another source and send it back to me. At that point, it was then my job to fix my story, again on my own.

I am now in a career that requires a lot more of a collaborative effort, and I'm learning I prefer more of a solitary process.

March 17, 2008

Secret Lovers

I have a boyfriend. There is a reason I have never mentioned this fact on my blog before. Some of my coworkers read this blog, and my boyfriend also happens to be a coworker. And only as of this past Friday did we make it known to them that we are dating.

I began working at our office in June of 2006. Mike, my boyfriend, and I began dating about six months later. So yes, that’s over a year of dating under extenuating circumstances. My friends and his friends knew we were a couple, and to them the fact that we’re coworkers doesn’t even factor - except on the odd occasions when we made them play along with our charade. You see, we did our best to keep our secret love affair from coworkers. Based on their reactions to our news, it appears we did very, very well.

Of the four people we have told face to face, their shock (and on occasion hurt by our betrayal) has been very genuine. Even after we’ve confessed, it’s taken a few minutes of reassurance to convince people this is not some sort of sick joke.

The thing is, it’s not so much that we’ve been dating secretly, it’s that we’ve been dating secretly for so long. If it had been a few months, people’s reactions might have been much more subdued. But it’s been more than a year. This is not a casual dating thing. This is the exchanging of keys, meeting one another’s family, moving apartments so I could be closer to him, taking international vacations kind of relationship. And to most people we work with I bet the thought of Mike and I sharing the occasional lunch outing seems normal, but the thought of us sharing pretty much every aspect our lives is pretty unbelievable. And I can see why it would be. We jumped through some pretty big hoops in order to keep it that way, but we did that at our own expense.

Mike and I over the past year have woven our lives together. But the more we did that, the less we were able to share our lives with the people we see more than most - our coworkers. Mike has never seen one of my belly dancing performances because I take that class with a coworker. He was not able to really talk about his Mexico vacation because I was in Mexico (AKA “Arizona“) with him. And I have been lying about the smallest of things, like watching cable TV, how I do my grocery shopping and where I do my laundry. The answers are that I am obsessed with watching HGTV at Mike’s, I use Mike’s car for grocery shopping, and I do my laundry at Mike’s place because he has a washer and dryer.

We’ve had coworkers ask us why we waited so long to tell people, and to be honest, I don’t really know why any more. At first we weren’t sure of what this was, so there was no point in broadcasting something that may be off our own radar in a month’s time. We gradually realized this dating thing was probably more than just a thing. He became worried of how it could be seen at the firm. Then I became worried of how it could be seen at the firm. Let me state that our firm has no policy about interoffice relationships, which is only helped by the fact that Mike in no way supervises me, and I in no way supervise him. If anything, we’re pretty equal and independent of one another in our jobs. However, another (and possibly bigger factor) was how much Mike and I know some people at our firm like to talk. Many a time I’ve overheard people say “Man, there’s no good gossip at the firm lately.” Needless to say, Mike and I were not really eager to fill that void.

So I guess that’s how 14 months after we started this relationship, we found ourselves in my kitchen arguing about the constraints that we had created for ourselves. It was at that point I told Mike I was tired, “so fucking tired” were my words. And I broke down crying in his arms. It had all become too much, too hard, for too long. The convenience of not having people know was nothing more than a burden. Having to keep the one person I spend more time with that anyone else separated and quarantined into neatly pre-sized, compartments of my life had worn me down. I was tired. And not just tired of lying about how I spend my weekends or pretending to be a single gal in the city. I was tired of not being able to share how much Mike means to me, how truly, ridiculously happy I am to be with him and how lucky I feel to have found someone who loves me wholeheartedly.

So yeah, when I put it that way, I can’t understand why we waited so long. Especially since every coworker we’ve told (including management) thinks it is pretty great that we are dating. I think it’s pretty great too. I’m a very happy girl these days, and it is my greatest joy to be able to tell any one why.

Check back for subsequent entries titled "What I Learned from Having a Secret Boyfriend." That's the good stuff.

March 13, 2008

Stretching to Conclusions

I am an avid fan of stretching. Yoga, a very stretchy exercise by nature, is one of my favorite ways to workout. I once spent an entire summer stretching for a few minutes before bed just so I could touch my toes. This was no small feat. It took me a month to touch my toes. Not to mention, I always feel better after any workout, especially running, if I get in a good stretch. So I was surprised to learn in this NY Times article, that it might not really be doing me any physical good.

March 9, 2008

Cold Spell

It's now March 9. I still have not run. But it is still snowing. I am instead inside, wrapped up in a blanket, googling warmer destinations to determine where I want to live next. Preferably somewhere where the temperature reaches above 40 degree on a consistent basis in March. That certainly isn't Chicago.

The lesson I'm taking away from this long cold spell is that I like a change of seasons. And it is time for this season to change.

March 4, 2008

Stuck in a Rut

I am a little over half way through my Shamrock Shuffle training guide. Training for this 5 mile race began Feb. 4 and the race will take place March 30. Like the last time I ran the Shuffle, I am using Hal Higdeon's training guide. It calls for running at least two miles three times a week.

Last week, I ran no times. None.

I am having issues training for this race. I have found every excuse to deviate from my training schedule: work, the weather, filing my taxes, or as with tonight, forgetting my sports bra.

I told myself this was the week I was going to refocus my efforts and really put my best foot forward to accomplish my training goals. This morning I packed my running gear, took the 6 p.m. Metra so I could get to the gym, run a few miles and then get back to the train in time to catch the 7:35 Metra home. However, when I got to the gym, my sports bra was not in my bag. Since I am not the type of girl who can run without the aid of a sports bra (or two), the only exercise I got was walking to the train and back. That hardly qualifies as a two mile run.

But even if I had been able to run at the gym as planned, I question how good it would have been. As I was walking up to the gym, inside the wall-sized windows I could see hoards of twenty somethings crowding every available treadmill. Getting in step with the bouncing mass didn't exactly inspire me to want to jog a mile or two.

That's another thing I'm using as an excuse for my poor training. I simply hate running on treadmills. When I trained for the shuffle the first time, the majority of my runs were on the treadmill. But when it came close to the race day, I hit the pavement, and it was so much harder. I had to become accustomed to propelling myself forward instead of letting the treadmill do the work. But then I got used to it, and now I prefer it. The last time I did manage to go outside and run, I completed an easy three mile jog. The time before that I struggled to run two miles on a treadmill.

I just can't seem to get in the groove. I know I don't love running. I just tolerate it better some days than others. But I've also ran enough now to know that it really is the best kind of cardio workout there is. I can't imagine finding a good substitute. But I also can't imagine this winter ever ending which means my outdoor runs are too far away to make them a viable option for my Shuffle training. For now, that means I have no other option but to continue my trek to and from the gym, and from here on out I'll try my best to bring sports bras.