Friday, January 22, 2016

Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of peaches.

I noticed something after I wrote my last post.  As I skimmed my labels to decide what category my story about running would fall, I realized that almost every single label had to do with my sons.  I wasn't really surprised by this as I began blogging in order to document my new life as a mother, but I realized that I really enjoyed, and hoped to continue, to write about me.  In a way, as my boys are getting older and more independent, my life as myself is beginning to return.

So I also noticed that I hadn't written much about my job(s) in the last few years.  In the beginning of 2014, I left the agency where I spent nearly 8 years developing as a person, a professional, and as a mother.  LBZ was 2 at the time, and the new job had promise as a perfect fit with my family because of where it was the same building as their preschool.

When I began to seek employment outside of that job, I always looked at the website of the Community Center where the boys' preschool was.  Certainly I could do just about any job as long as I was that close to them. Throw in a 50% discount off of their daycare cost (what what??), a free family membership to the center and you have what appeared to be the perfect fit for my family.

Except for one wasn't.

The first 6 months were tough.  I wavered between hating it and needing to give it at least a year for a full chance.  Then one of the main staff left.  I knew I couldn't leave then.  I needed to see the program through this huge transition.  So I stayed.  As the first year went on I still felt unhappy and started to think about looking around.  Then, another major staff person left.  Surely I couldn't leave then.  So I stuck it out and actually figured out how to be really good at this job.

That was a little over a year ago.  I do not hate my job.  In fact, I actually really like it now that I have a full staff of really good quality people on my team.  The problem is, it is a very high demand job.  My staff call me as early as 5am and as late as 11pm and I am charged with finding staff coverage, cancelling program details in bad weather, having my phone with me at all times to manage any program issues, and of course, making all of the really hard decisions and communicating them with families.

It's a high energy, fast paced, high demand job.  And I am really good at it.  I can manage people, and participants, and staff, and drivers and temp agencies beginning at 5am and still work until 7pm rocking it out.  I'm like a non-profit business-running rock star.  I think the discomfort I felt during the first year was because I was growing and learning so much.  It's hard for me to not feel like a master at everything.  I learned all aspects of this job and rocked it.

But it's just not working for me anymore.

I expend so much emotional energy on this job, that I am left with less than I need to provide for my family.  The demands are just too high for me during this season of my life, and it is time for a change.  My boys need me more now than they ever have.  I thought the baby stage was going to be the most emotionally demanding part of raising children, but for me it's not.  BBZ is in grade school now, and he is developing into the person he is going to become.  I need to be present with him all the time.  I need to know that at dinner when he is telling me about a conflict at school, I will not be interrupted by a work related phone call.

I have accepted a new job at an agency that I think will be a great fit.  The hours are set, I will not supervise anyone, and there is still a level of professional challenge that I really look forward to.  It's hard to admit when something has to give, and I think I will miss the fast pace business-like world, but I know this is the right choice for me.

I was telling a friend that it feels very much like moving from the city to the country.  The city is a fast paced active part of town where some people thrive.  Others prefer the quiet solitude of the country life.

So that's me.  I'm moving to the country.  I can't wait to smell the fresh air and breath the sigh of relief.  I know I will miss the city life, and maybe one day, when my boys are older and off on their own, I'll move back.

Until then, I am looking forward to the new pace.  Maybe I'll even buy a hammock.

Friday, January 1, 2016


While I am not one for resolutions, I did actually set some goals for 2015.  It was a great thing for me, and I am so glad I did it.  I didn't meet all of them, and I surpassed others.  It was a great tool for me to keep myself on track, not because I wanted to change this big thing about myself, but rather because I wanted to see what I could accomplish when I set my mind to it.

Much of this mindset comes from my love of running.  Way back in January of 2014, 2 years ago today, actually, I decided to walk a certain number of miles each month.  I wasn't looking to lose weight, but I wanted to be in better shape and health and I was in the midst of a huge career change, and I think I was looking for something steady and predicable.

I walked almost every single day and hoped to complete anywhere between 40-55 miles in the month. About 3 weeks in, I began to feel the desire to run some of my miles.  I would run for about 45 seconds and have to stop to catch my breath.  It was ridiculous!  But it felt amazing.  I set my app on my phone to tell me every single minute, so I would run for one, and walk for 2-3.  Before long I was running 2-3 minutes and only walking one.

Sometime in February or March of 2014 I decided to sign up for a 5k race.  I went for a non-competitive one at the Botanical Garden because I wanted to non-competition part and also the opportunity to run in the beautiful garden.  I did a run-walk approach to most of the race and ended up timing at about 30:06.  I was so proud of myself!

At that point I decided that I really wanted to be able to run for at least 30 minutes without stopping.  I also wanted to do one 5k race each month.  Each month I completed one, and each month I improved.  In September 2014 I got first place in my age group with a time of 26:51, and I ran the whole time.

It was about this time that my running friends began to ask me when I would step it up to a 10k race.  I liked the idea of that, but I also wanted to take my time and not rush my body.  I was running 3-4 miles 4-5 times/week and I didn't want to increase that much to train for a longer road race.  I was having so much fun, I didn't want to change too much too fast.

In January 2015, my friend wanted to run a race, and asked me to run one with her.  We found one to run together, and I got a PR time of 25:34!

I was so happy!  I shaved over 4 minutes off of my 5k race time in less than 1 year.  My friend was super fast!  I could barely keep up with  her pace, and I was so grateful for her.  There's no way I would have finished with this time if I hadn't been trying to keep up with her.  It was such a fun race.

What happened afterwards I didn't anticipate.  I lost some motivation for 5k races now that I felt pretty certain that I couldn't top my new PR, and I didn't want to try and improve my time with speed training.  I was still running 3-4 miles 4-5 days/week, which I loved.

It was around February of 2015 that my brother-in-law asked me if I was interested in doing some trail running.  He has been a runner in the past, but because of health issues he had been sidelined for the past few years.  He was ready to get back into it, and I was ready to try running not only with a partner, but also off-road.

He and I started running on trails on the weekends.  We stuck to pretty easy trails that were either paved or gravel since the cold weather and melting ice kept the trails around town pretty wet.  We decided to sign up to run a 10k trail race in March.  It would not only be my first 10k race, but also on a trail!  I was nervous, and it was awesome.

Shaw Nature Reserve 10k Race

I was hooked.  Trail running was something I didn't' even know I was missing.  Running outside on a trail is like nothing I have ever done before.  My BIL and I went on to run multiple trail races ranging from 3.5 miles to 10 miles.

Alpine Shop Spring Trail Series Castlewood State Park

Alpine Shop Spring Trail Series Castlewood State Park

Flint Ridge 10 Mile Trail Race

I stretched myself farther than I ever have before, and learned things about myself I never knew were there.  I found a sense of adventure and exploration I never knew existed inside of me.  Running not only became the way I dealt with my heath and wellness, but is becoming synonymous with the way I live my life.

It has sparked a light it me that is hard to explain.  Most recently, on 12/12/15, I completed what is considered to be the most challenging trail run in the area.

Pere Marquette 7.8 mile Trail Race

In addition to the many races I completed this year, I also set a goal for mileage for the year at 936 miles, which I completed with a few days to spare.

Before I put on those walking shoes in January of 2014, I hadn't ran at all since I played soccer in high school.  I feel amazing, have a new rush for being outdoors, and am already signed up for a 15k trail race in February, a 20k trail race in March, the spring trail series of 4 races in the month of May and a HALF MARATHON TRAIL RACE in September!!  (Yikes!)  And last, a goal to run 1008 in 2016.

One of the most important things I learned this year is this:

It really did take nearly 2 years for me to learn this very important point.  The races I do are not about winning my age group, or setting a time record.  The races I do are about looking at a challenge, staring it in the face, and killing it.  The other runners truly do not matter.  Besides the kind and encouraging words we throw around at each other particularly after a ridiculous climb up what feels like the side of a mountain when we can finally exhale and realize what we all just accomplished!

This brings me to my word for 2016...ADVENTURE!

I want to stretch myself farther than I ever have before.  I want to set goals and watch myself crush them.  I want to try something new that I have never done.  I want to explore nature and bring myself and my family closer to each other and to the earth.

Bring on 2016.  Let's do this!