Monday, March 19, 2012

New Shoes

After getting super inspired cheering for the all the Marathoners running the DC Rock and Roll Marathon this weekend (including my awesome cousin Jennifer, who ran the 1/2 marathon! She is such an inspiration!), I went out to buy some new shoes.

I always go to a running store to buy shoes, because the people at general sports stores are usually pretty clueless and it's a great way to support local business. Running stores in particular are usually really involved in the communities they serve. They host group runs, support local athletes, and are generally more interested in your satisifaction than anything else.

Here I am sporting my fav frees. Pro-tip, ultralite shoes are awesome for hiking because you can put them in your pack when you need a break from your hiking boots.

However, I'm constantly fighting with the knowledgeable employees at our neighboorhood running store to give me a lighter shoe, even though I pronate like crazy and really shouldn't run in anything but a clunky stabilizer. The last time I tried to replace my 2-year-old Nike Frees, they talked me into a pair of extremely chunky Brooks shoes. The muscle pain I'd been experiencing went away, but I was hating what the heavy shoes did to my gait and my energy. I eventually stopped wearing them and went back to my trusty frees.

This accurately describes how I felt trying to do morning runs in my "stabilizer shoes"

So this time, the sales/running expert and I agreed to compromise. She would find me the lightest possible race shoe that still came with some cushion and support for my ridiculous heel striking tendency, and I would stop trying to injure myself by trying minimalist shoes. We ended up with the Adidas Boston 3. I've only taken them on two 3 mile runs so far, but I like them! They're quite light, but much more supportive than the Frees. I'm excited to try them out on a longer run next weekend!

The Adidas Boston 3

Of course, the Grige had to one-up me and get himself a pair of the New Balance Minimus shoes. They are new to the barefoot market and brag a neutral heel position, which his high arches and perfect gait can handle. They also look extremely cool. I am way jealous.

New Balance 00 - MR00RB - Men's Minimus Road Shoes
Sexxxy Red!
Of course, via my verbal contract with the staff member helping me, I'm not allowed to try them for myself. Tears of an Emily, because they look awesome and the ladies version come in the prettiest blue! Maybe if we take another big hiking trip, I'll buy a pair of the trail version to wear around camp sites and on day hikes, but shhhhhh, don't tell!

Luckily, the Grige reminded me of the drawbacks to wearing a barefoot shoe less than two days after our purchases. The most importanting thing about making the switch from a regular running shoe to a barefoot or minimal running shoe is to ease in really slowly. I've heard recommendations of starting with only a quarter mile at a time before switching shoes.This helps your calves adjust to all the extra work they will be doing in a barefoot gait. The Grige (because he is invincible) went out and ran 2 miles on the first go. I got to watch him limp around the apartment all day yesterday as a result. Poor guy! I guess my chunky (by comparison) shoes aren't so bad after all!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Get Your Fun On

So a year and 2 months ago, I decided to focus on running. Never mind that I’ve been terrible at and hated running for most of my life. I was broke and running is cheap. You can do it outside almost year round here in the sunny south and your only expenditures are one of those iPod arm bands and shoes. Like my father before me, I was in love with the image of a runner – a tall, slim, woman with straight hair and defined and toned muscles, gliding silently down my street just before dawn with seemingly endless determination and lung capacity. I was enticed by all the positive stories out there on the blogosphere about how running helped people change their lives and how rewarding marathoning was. The reality is that I huff and puff and mentally beat the crap out of myself for everything that I view as “wrong” with my body every step of the way.

This is photographic evidence of the only sport I've ever been good at. (I'm the one front and center)
The game is called "Ring Around the Nosey", and if there was a world champlionship, I would win.

I started with a pie-in-the-sky goal of running a ½ marathon. I never signed up for one, but registered myself for a 10K 6 months from my first training run. The 10K was reduced to a 5K because of heat concerns and I still couldn’t run the whole thing. I felt like a total embarrassment the entire time. But I rallied and focused on my most successful training runs and signed up for a 15K 6 months later, hoping that if it went well I would up my training for a ½ marathon 6 months after that.  3 weeks before the 15K, I ran a 5K turkey trot with a goal of finishing in under 30 minutes. The Grige was in charge of pacing me and the course was much flatter than I was used to. I finished in 32 minutes. All I remember of the race is the terrified looks on my co-runners faces as I screamed at the Grige: “I hate you! You a**-hole! I HATE you!” all through the last quarter mile. The poor guy was just trying to pace me and I was so exhausted and pissed-off (and insanely competitive) that I was losing my mind because he wasn’t even breaking a sweat while I felt like I was DYING. Needless to say, I did not run the 15K.
So Running is not for you? No big deal. Try something else awesome. Like climbing mountains.
 And that, as they say, was the tipping point. I walked away from running and started focusing on yoga, which I love. I felt strong, happy and beautiful every time I left the studio. I had allowed myself to believe that because it wasn’t cardio or competitive, it didn’t mean anything. Now that it was all I was doing, I stopped blaming myself, pushing myself and criticizing myself. Surprisingly, three months after I decided to put running behind me for good, I went out for a Sunday morning jog. I didn’t bring a watch and I stopped and did yoga half way through. I walked at intervals when breathing became uncomfortable and I soaked up the beautiful, early spring weather. After that, I started going for more runs – always without a watch and without a schedule. It’s become a part of my mornings that I look forward to and if I don’t want to go, I just don’t go! Amazing!
Maybe you are wondering why I am writing about this. Good question!

When I was in High School, I was an assistant coach for Girls on the Run. GOTR is a program for 3rd – 5th grade girls that promotes positive self-image through discussions, activities and daily runs, culminating in a 5K fun run. I hated running then as much as I did 6 months ago, and I felt strongly that the girls who weren’t naturally athletic but wanted to participate needed a role model too.  Someone who would walk part of the workout with them and could show them that the program wasn’t about turning into a great runner – it was about loving yourself enough to take care of your body, whether it was fast or slow, for 5 miles or 0.5 miles.

Somewhere in the seven or eight years since high school, I forgot everything I knew so clearly then. I forgot that the whole point of diet and exercise is to have fun and to care for the body you have. I started thinking that I had to complete a marathon to be valued as a runner and that I had to become a vegan and quit drinking to be valued as a healthy eater. I started injecting negative self-talk into every aspect of my life – my hair is too thin, I can feel my stomach jiggling, I should skip dinner since I’ll be drinking tonight, I’m not smart enough for that promotion… it goes on and on. I even masked it with humor: “no way, guys. You do not want to see this beer gut in a bikini… ha…ha…ha….”
mmmmmm - If I can't drink Oberon on my diet, it's probably not going to last.
I hope that all the young girls and women in my life have been ignoring me for the last few years, because that kind of behavior has to stop. I’m writing about my experience with running because there are not enough people out there speaking positively about themselves and rejoicing in their relative mediocrity. I’ll never be able to run a marathon, but I should still be proud of my 7 mile run/walk! It was not mediocre for me! You do not have to do century rides and marathons to be “into fitness”. You do not have to eliminate chocolate or beer or whatever your favorite food is to be a healthy eater. You do not have to have flat abs to wear a two-piece at the beach.  So I am vowing to stop the negative self-talk. I am a healthy, smart, funny young woman and I am better than that. And so are you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

What to WEAR!?

So I've been stressing a bit about what to wear to our rehearsal dinner. It's like the wedding dress part was so painless that I feel the need to stress myself out about another piece of clothing that I'll probably only wear once.

I'm usually a bit skeptical (to use a nice word) about Victoria's Secret, mostly because their models perpetuate impossible standards for beauty that I don't like being reminded I'll never fit. However, they know how to cut a dress for a woman's body. Everything piece of clothing I've ever bought from them has been well-made, relatively (hello, J.crew!) inexpensive and has made my body look FANTASTIC. This cannot have been easy for them, because I am flat-chested and look perpetually 3 months preggo (thanks for the genes, Mom!). However, if you haven't given them a try, order a few dresses for this summer/spring. They're great to wear out because they are machine washable and very comfortable, usually with an excellent built-in bra.

So back to the task at hand - a rehearsal dinner dress. What do we think of this?

Photo: Victoria's Secret

I'll be awaiting reactions...

Monday, March 5, 2012

About Those Lovely Engagment Photos I Keep Using....

Check out my very talented cousin Jeanine Finch over on Wordpress. She's a budding photographer in the D.C. area and I can't say enough about her ability to make you relax while she's pointing a camera at you. Her photos speak for themselves.

Did I mention that using a photography student for things like engagement photos or family portraits can be a great way to get some amazing photos, help a student build their portfolio and save some $$?

Double E

Reality Strikes: The Acceptances Are Arriving

So here we are. I knew all along that the hellacious application process would lead to acceptance letters followed by campus visits, followed by loan applications, followed by leaving my job and moving heaven knows where. It just wasn’t real until those letters showed up with their fancy seals and horrifying tuition estimations.

Meanwhile, I am hemorrhaging money for our wedding and trying to be as honest and helpful as possible with my bosses about my now-inevitable departure. Right now, it looks pretty likely that instead of a honeymoon, I’ll be putting the Grige on a plane to a new life in a city over 1,000 miles away two days after we say “I do”. I’ll then hang my head and trudge back to D.C. to plow through the insanely busy season at my job while living in my cousin’s basement and helping her and her husband with their newborn. Alone.
Photo: Jeanine Finch
Every time I think about this eventuality I want to burst into tears. (Not because I don't love babies, I totally do!) So I’m writing about it, which is only marginally better and still makes me want to throw things.
The facts are these: The Grige is going to grad school, which makes me the primary wage earner for our baby family. I make a great deal of overtime pay during the busy season at work, which makes it financially irresponsible for me to leave as he begins accruing mountains of debt. Also, I like the people I work with quite a bit. I think it would be just plain mean to take off at the beginning of crazy, busy, there-is-no-time-to-go-to-the-bathroom season. The wedding itself is already ill-timed (to say the least).
Sure, I’ve sort of known this was coming. But now that the letters are here, it’s real. We also thought we’d have at least a week or two before he had to go to just be newlyweds and say goodbye to our home. Instead, he’ll probably be in a 2-week intensive orientation program that will turn him from human man to super-duper architect dude (no sleep or spare-time included). I’ll join him in time to celebrate our first Thanksgiving together. It’s likely to feel a little empty after last year. On the bright side, we’ll probably have tons of fun wedding gifts to cook with/serve on.
Photo: Jeanine Finch
Growing up is not easy, and I’m sure this is the first of many expectations about married life (you know, the part where we live together) that will be challenged in the name of financial security and “being responsible”. It’s sad, but I’m hopeful for un-expected good things as well. Stay tuned…

Friday, March 2, 2012

I Just Can't Keep My Hussy Mouth Shut...

*** now with an exciting update! Someone said something smart and real in this debate! Check out this post over on XOJane - It's exactly what this debate should look like.

Alright, we’re going to have to talk about this. Talking about politics makes me about as squeamish as talking about periods seems to make most men, but we’re just going to have to do our best to get through it together. I’m going to use the LA Times story because it’s better written than others and has a video embedded. Please educate yourself and then let’s discuss.,0,6050153.story

I have read one too many conservative posts about this that seem to think that the amount of times you have sex is directly equated with the amount of money you spend on birth control. The mentality seems to be that if a woman doesn’t have sex that often, why wouldn’t she just do the math, go off birth control pills and buy condoms for those few and far between episodes.

Generally, I’m all for making financial decisions based on the kind of math and analysis used in these articles (I’m not linking them, I refuse to contribute to their traffic).  A lovely example is choosing between shaving your legs, electrolysis and waxing. All of them have different price points and timelines and many women have a little chart in their head that helps them choose the option that is going to make the most financial sense for them, given their habits.

Unfortunately, pharmaceuticals are a totally different game. Birth Control Pills, like most other drugs, are only effective, safe and comfortable when used consistently over a prolonged period of time. Changing pills or going off them and then starting again can send one through an emotional and physical nightmare of extreme weight gain and/or loss, depression, and a host of other unpleasant experiences from spotting (that’s right, I said it) to headaches.  It’s not fun, and the decision to stay on “the pill” has far more concerns attached than whether or not you will be having enough sex that month to justify the cost.

The only two things that conundrums like hair-removal method and decisions about contraception have in common are that they are 1) Decisions that women usually make, and 2) no one’s business but the woman’s who is making the choice.

Whoops, I got political. The point is this: I fully support the rights of old men to be uncomfortable with periods. I even support their right to argue that they should be able to compromise the health of millions of women in order to save a completely insignificant amount of money. However, I feel like all that “free speech” goodwill that I hold so near and dear is just completely wasted when it’s used to call an individual a slut and a prostitute and to make assumptions about how much sex she has based on her contraceptive of choice. It’s rude, unforgivably sexist, and serves absolutely no purpose except to discredit anything legitimate you might have to say about the issues in question.

You don’t have to agree that the government should provide financial assistance to women who would like to use birth control. However, I think many of us, on both sides of the issue, can agree that it’s a horrible thing to call a woman who speaks her mind and takes care of her body a slut. That kind of discourse is just useless and has no place on our national stage. So I’ll be here, waiting patiently to listen to a legitimate reason why we shouldn’t support funding for women in need of birth control. I won’t hold my breath.