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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2010 Goals Reviewed Part 3

Alrighty, the part most of you have been reading for: the running. So, here were my 2010 goals that I set at the beginning of the year for running:

1. Run more miles.

2. Run them faster.

3. Make the half marathon my bitch.

So, how'd I do with the running goals?

#1: Success! In 2009, I ran 437 miles (remember I was pregnant for 8 months of that year), and in 2010, I ran at least 725. I actually ran more than that, but I stopped tracking my mileage in early October because I was feeling so barfy. I was still running, but for some reason the effort it took to record my mileage was just beyond me, so I stopped. But, 725 was the last tally. I was on track to 1,000 miles for the year, but pregnancy once again trumped my efforts.

#2: Mixed bag: success/fail. In many ways, I ran faster than I did in 2009 simply because I spent most of 2009 either pregnant or returning to running post-partum. That was not fast running, so most of the miles I ran in 2010 were faster. I set a new PR for myself in both the 10K and the HM, which is proof that I was a wee bit speedier. However, once preggo again in the fall, that speed completely evaporated. Right now, I have no clue how slow I'm running because I purposely don't wear a Garmin, but I suspect snails could pass me.

#3: Again, I feel as though this is also a mixed bag: success/fail. Obviously, I made that goal as broad and vague as I could, but I suppose I had some grand intentions behind its inception. On the one hand, I did set a new HM PR for myself (2:07 at the Disney Princess HM), and I did run 3 HMs, which is decent for a year's running -- thus, success! But on the other hand, I would have liked to run about 3 more HMs, and had planned to do so this fall and early winter, but, again...pregnancy and puke, puke, puke. Also, I harbor the desire to one day hit and/or break the 2 hour barrier. So that ulterior goal lies somewhere within there -- thus, I feel like this goal remains incomplete.

So, there you go: the year's goals in total! All in all, I think I did well at setting reasonable, attainable goals that all had at least some measurable success. Now, I am, of course, plotting my 2011 goals, which include, obviously, a plan to take over the world!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 Goals Revisited Part 2

Moving on in my reflection of 2010 (part 1 is below), I reviewed the goals I set for myself professionally. Here they were:

1. Apply for tenure. As of August, I will have been a full time tenure track professor for 3 years, which means I'm eligible to apply for tenure. The process is somewhat convoluted and slow-moving, so I don't want to aim to actually get tenure in 2010. Tenure affords me many things: Greater job security, a (slightly) larger salary, opportunities to apply for travel funds, and eligibility to be nominated for a plethora of awards and grants that the college offers faculty.

2. Publish another short story.

So, how'd I do?

#1: Success! Turns out, since I teach at a community college, not a 4 year university, this process is very simple. I had assumed it was going to be a long, complicated business (as it is for those who teach at universities), but I discovered that it really just involved signing some papers, and viola! I now have tenure.

#2: Also a success! If you are interested in that sort of thing, you're welcome to go here and have a read. This story's publication actually has kind of a funny back story.

See, the magazine hosted a dialogue contest that began in late summer and closed in the early fall. It was a unique contest for a literary magazine; for one, the perimeters of the contest were rigid: tell a story using ONLY dialogue, you couldn't even use dialogue tags, like "he said." But for another, the editors notified writers of their rejection on a rolling basis, so if your story submission fell out of their top 5 favorites, they'd let you know you were out, and then they gave you another chance to re-submit.

The first story I submitted was initially a top 5 fav, but after a few weeks, it fell out of favor and I was out. I thought to myself, "No way I can come up with another story along these lines." But then, I did. I re-submitted. And I got what I call a "rave rejection." These are the sorts of rejections I get from literary publications all the time. They go something like this: "Loved your story! Great writing. But...sorry, no." So, imagine the above scenario repeating, I kid you not, 5 times! Yes, I got rejected 5 times from the same contest, and each time, I thought, "No way can I come up with anything like that again." But, then I would.

So, the above story was among the 5 rejected stories. None of my 5 submissions got within the "final five" of the contest; however, the editors liked this particular story so much (but not enough to be within the final five winners) that they asked to publish it in a regular issue of the magazine. And, recently, the magazine notified me that it was selected as one of their "editor picks of the year" for publication in their annual print version of magazine, which comes out in January. So, despite the fact that it wasn't good enough to win me any cash or bragging rights in the contest, it's still a story that got some recognition from the editors, and I appreciated that. As an aside, my mother hated it, and actually called me to ask if there was something wrong with me for writing such a tale.

Can't please everyone, I guess.

Anyhoo, my professional goals for 2010? I think that is an assured "success"!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2010 Goals Reviewed Part 1

While some of you suckers had to go back to work today, I still get to enjoy an entire week off. And, I'm still taking Norah to daycare in the afternoons, so that means 4 and 1/2 hours every afternoon this week all. to. my. self! Awesome. So, what fun things am I doing? Well, truthfully, a lot of housekeeping. So, not very fun, but very necessary, and it's good to finally get around to those oft-neglected parts of the house that need cleaning and/or organizing.

Anyhoo, this housekeeping made me think of other "housekeeping" as in revisiting the goals I made for myself at the start of this year and assessing how I've done before beginning fresh with new goals for 2011. (As an aside, can you believe it's gonna be 2011?! I mean, c'mon, is this for reals? Shouldn't we be flying around in jet packs or on hovercrafts, or at the very least, battling Skynet in an epic humans-vs-machines-war?)

So, I separated my goals for 2010 into 3 categories, and I figure I'll break up my review into those 3 categories; thus, today: the personal goals I set for myself. They were as follows:

1. Be the most awesome wife and mother I can. I'm already pretty awesome, but I'm sure I could crank it up another notch in order to accomplish the superlative "most."

2. Re-read some favorite books. In 2009, I read 37 books. Not bad considering my leisure time was spliced into about a quarter of what it was pre-baby. I seem to average reading about 40 books a year, and let's be frank: They're piling up. Time to re-visit a few that I particularly love.

3. On the financial front, I'd like to save more. My savings account took a serious hit during my maternity leave (I was not paid for my time off), and I'd like to re-build it.

So, how'd I do on those?

#1: Success! Of course, I have no quantitative way of measuring my success here, but I think I'm pretty awesome and Norah and Jerry rarely complain about my lack of awesomeness, so I think I declare victory on this front.

#2: Fail! Not only did I fail to re-read favorite books, but this was really the year that could be labeled "failed to finish most books." I don't know what it was about my selections, but I have quite the stack that I started but never finished. Granted, I also read (and finished) some great books this year (currently, I can't tear myself away from Justin Cronin's The Passage -- VERY awesome novel), but it seems like this has been a year of unprecedented DNFs amongst books. I used to be a person who finished a book no matter what, but then I realized that my time was more valuable than that, so now if I get a certain way through a book and it just doesn't "have" me, I put aside and move on. So, here are a few that I started and didn't finish:
  • Matterhorn (this was on Time's most notable books of the year, but I read about 100 pages and though "meh," not notable for me)
  • Mockingjay (3rd in the Hunger Games trilogy -- loved the 1st novel, felt so-so about the 2nd, clearly, didn't think much of the 3rd)
  • Little Bee (very intriguing for the first 100 pages or so, and then blah...)
  • A Vintage Affair (couldn't get past 50 pages in this one; I found it so boring and the plot seemed to be leading in a very predictable, very cliche direction, so I ditched it, but it's on the Nook's top 25 "most lent" books, so some people must really like it)

#3: Simultaneous success and fail! Explanation? I really didn't manage to save much more this year, but instead, I decided about 2 months into the year that it made better financial sense to focus on eliminating more of our debt rather than socking it all away in savings. So, in this year, I managed to pay off both Jerry and I's remaining student loans, which totaled about $15K! Now, the debt we have remaining is a car loan and our mortgage. So, I didn't really save much in terms of fattening my savings account, but I did save us lots by eliminating that debt and thus saving ourselves from continuing to pay interest on those loans.

So, as far as the personal goals I set for myself, I think it was largely a successful year. Tomorrow, we'll see how I did on the professional front.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Review

On Christmas Eve, we spent a few hours in the afternoon and early evening with our families via Skype. We chatted and opened gifts "together," and despite the fact that we'd rather be with our families in person, this was still a great way to feel like we were spending the holiday with them. Below, Norah enjoys the cradle her grandpa made for her baby. She L-O-V-E-S it! And it's so cute, because she tucks her baby in and says "shhhh" while she rocks her doll.
This one below is a bit blurry, but Norah is showing off her penguin tattoo. It goes well with the fancy dress and pink cowgirl boots, doesn't it?
Chillaxin' on the back porch with her baby doll.
On Christmas morning, Norah didn't waste any time tearing into the packages that we'd been telling her for weeks to quit un-wrapping; she was finally given free reign to un-wrap to her heart's content. She began by helping Scooter with his gifts.
Then moved on to her own.
The process of un-wrapping literally took most of the day. We'd un-wrap some, play, have a snack, etc, and then return to the un-wrapping. Turned out that we never even got out of our PJs. Below: Norah playing with her My Little Pony, which I had a good time with as well. There is something very zen about brushing and braiding Pony hair.
Norah in the reindeer antlers.
And, finally, after all the gifts were opened, it was just time to play.
We never went anywhere, and we didn't have any company, but somehow, the day wore us all out! And, I was in bed by 8:30. So, it was a fun holiday, but I'm glad it only comes once a year!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Semi-Wordless Wednesday

It was warmer this morning than Monday morning, but still cool enough that Norah had to get her sweatshirt on for our run. Here she chillaxin before we got ready to head out:And here she is ready to travel "light" for the run: I told her to gather up what she wanted for the ride, and who doesn't need a naked baby doll and half a dozen books for a run?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rest Day

Right now, I am not running every day. My goal has been to run 3-4 days a week -- typically, I run Mon, Wed, Fri and try to run a day on the weekend, but if I don't, I don't -- and on the "off" days, I have been trying to enjoy some other less strenuous forms of exercise. Principally, walking, doing some light weight lifting (and by light, I mean literally light -- I don't own hand weights that weigh more than 5 lbs), and returning to the prenatal yoga (more on that later).

This schedule has been nice and seems to be working smoothly so far. In a perfect preggo-world, I would run farther, faster, and more frequently, but my 12 miles a week or so actually has been working out well: It's enough to make me feel as though I'm still keeping up with my running, but it's not so much that it takes any toll on me. Plus, I admit to liking my "off" days, a day like today.

Thus, this afternoon, I did a leisurely walk with Scooter -- and you have to really emphasize the "leisure" part of this because with Scooter, it's "walk, walk, walk, stop and sniff for a bit, then walk, walk, walk...oh, squirrel! walk fast! now, stop and sniff again, walk, walk, stop and stare at something my mom can't see" etc -- yeah, we don't get anywhere real fast. Anyway, after our walk, I did my 10 minute strength training DVD and did the upper body segment, an area I'm really lacking in, stretched and called it good.

So, yeah, my x-train days are basically glorified rest days, but at least I did that activity before I settled on to the couch and read for an hour! Could've just skipped the walk and weights for more reading time, but I was good; plus, the bit of exercise before sloth makes the sloth that much more enjoyable!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Another Clothing Dilemma

The weather here in FL has been neurotic lately: One day it's as cold as 39 degrees, the next, it's 80. So, while I was bundled up for my runs early in the week last week, by the end of the week, I was back to shorts and a sleeveless tee. This morning, though, it was a bit chilly again, with temps in the mid-40s, so I again donned the capri running tights and a long-sleeved shirt over a tech tee.

My dilemma this morning, though, had nothing to do with what to dress me in and everything to do with what to dress Norah in. Since she's riding, not running, her dress concerns are very different: She won't get warm from the workout, plus she'll have the breeze from the run. So, she got bundled up, complete with a fuzzy blanket covering her and her doll -- who, along with the doll's bottle, sippy cup, plate and fork, all regularly go on runs with us; it's quite the stroller-full of occupants and their accessories.

She seemed just fine during the run, but afterward, she did have cold little fingers; still, she didn't complain so I take that as a sign that she was comfortable during her ride. As for me, I got warm enough half way through our 3 miler to shed my long sleeved shirt and go in my t-shirt. It's sweaty work pushing 40+ pounds of stroller, toddler, and baby doll, even if it is only 49 degrees out!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Cold" Weather Running

Granted, the cold we're experiencing here in South Florida is nothing compared to the cold that most of you are used to, but for South Florida temps to dip down into the 30s, well, that's basically like hell freezing over. People are buying space heaters and parkas like it's the end of the world. While we haven't yet caved and turned on our furnace, I have been wearing layers and drinking hot tea by the vat -- what can I say? -- after living in FL for 6 and 1/2 years, my body has grown used to the tropical temps.

But, when it comes to running, this is the kind of weather I love. However, I find dressing for these temps problematic. Today, for example, I ran in the late afternoon, and the temps were in the high 40s, but there were significant gusts of wind (yes, the news has actually been using the term "wind chill"). After hemming and hawing for a bit, I decided upon the following: Capri tights, short sleeved tech shirt, covered by a long sleeved tech shirt. Before heading out, I thought I'd be shedding that long sleeved shirt right away, but honestly, I was SO glad I wore it because I was cold for most of the way and only once I was about half a mile from home, with the wind at my back and the sun in my eyes, did I get warm enough to tie that shirt around my waist and go in the short sleeves.

So, I arrived home thusly:
Aside from the initial clothing dilemma, the run was great. And the most wonderful thing about running in such temps is that I don't even break a sweat. I just get rosey in the cheeks. Refreshing!

Tonight, there is a freeze warning in effect, which means that by tomorrow morning, many Floridians will either be popsicles or will be charred from their ill-advised space heaters. I think we may turn on our furnace -- I don't think I can handle the house dipping below the frigid temp of 69. That's my threshold ;)

Friday, December 10, 2010

I'm Back!

I have been thinking about my blog this past week, and when my friend Shannon mentioned the blog's absence last Friday in conversation, it made me miss it. And, that my friends, is what I had been waiting for. When I embarked on this hiatus, I told myself I needed to wait until I missed it before resuming writing; otherwise, I was just doing it to do it. So, here I am. You can go ahead and resume your prayers for world peace -- this prayer has been answered.

So, what's been up with Jess? Running, wife-ing, mom-ing, teaching, and baby brewing. Frankly, it's been a bit exhausting. But things are good on all fronts:

  • I've been running regularly and raced a 5K Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving and am tentatively planning to run a 5 mile race this weekend.
  • Jerry and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary on Thanksgiving as well (he's very thankful for me, and who wouldn't be? I'm a kickass wife).

  • Norah is doing well: She's talking and getting into all kinds of toddler mischief -- chief mischief right now is unwrapping wrapped Christmas presents, the stinker!

  • Teaching has been busy, but I'm almost done with the term. Just a few days left, and a bazillion papers to read, and then it's Christmas break!

  • Lastly, the baby brewing is tiring, but going well. Chief among my reasons for the blog hiatus was that with all of the above, I felt I had very little energy left in me at the end of the day to devote any meaningful time to blogging, and for me, baby brewing in the first trimester is an awful combination of nausea and fatigue. In some ways, this pregnancy has been easier than when I was pregnant with Norah because I have known what to expect (whereas, with Norah I had no idea I would feel THAT sick for THAT long); but in other ways, this pregnancy has been a lot harder for me. Mostly that's because with the first pregnancy I had the luxury of just taking care of myself, which meant that I napped nearly every afternoon, and if I didn't feel good, I could often just lay down for a bit. But, with Norah, I don't have the convenience of napping whenever I feel tired. So, taking care of a toddler and working full time and brewing a baby definitely zapped me of just about anything extra.

But, at 16 weeks and 2 days, I now feel as though I'm beginning to feel better and some of my energy is returning. I have more good days than bad ones, and it's been 5 days since I last barfed -- a new kind of streak! Here's a pic I snapped of myself last Friday before I went for my run: I am definitely showing earlier than I did when I was preggo with Norah, even though my weight gain, so far, has been about the same. To compare, below is a pic of me preggo with Norah when I was 18 weeks. Looks about the same. In fact, I dare say that at 18 weeks with Norah, I looked less pregnant than I do right now.
"They" say that you show earlier after the first pregnancy, and it seems to be true for me.

Anyhoo, I do have a stack of papers to get to, Christmas shopping to finish, and a few finals left to procter, so I can't linger here in the blogosphere long, but I'm hoping that after my term is over (Thursday!), I'll have some time to begin posting again regularly and catching up with all of you. Hope all has been well with you guys in my absence: I'm sure it was tempting to ball up in a corner and cry while I was gone, but I hope you were resilient!