Currently…

Crocuses on the Greenway, Boston MA

falling in love with swimming.

struggling to break my Soda Saga/Cookie Jam addiction.

avoiding my to do lists so I can enjoy the warmer, sunnier weather.

resisting the urge to register for every road race someone brings to my attention.

feeling like a sucker when I register for every other athletic/fitness event that a friend brings to my attention. 

working (slowly) on organizing and backing up my digital photo library.

listening to podcasts while I slog through my work day.

The Cat Empire @ Royale, Boston MA

coming down from the high of an amazing The Cat Empire show a few nights ago.

waiting impatiently for the magnolias and cherry blossoms to show their faces so that it will really feel like spring.

One Little Word: 2015

Is it too late for a post about goals for this year?

I am a big fan of making lists (you’ve maybe figured that out?), and that includes a list of goals each year. Sometimes these lists fall by the wayside (again, you’ve maybe figured that out?), and I’m moderately successful achieving all the goals I set for myself. I read a lot of blogs where posts about resolutions or annual goals are a regular part of the early January posting, although I don’t know where it was that I first read about One Little Word*, or when it was for that matter, but after seeing mention of it a few times the idea started to grow on me. I’d find single words floating through my mind and catch myself thinking “maybe this is my One Little Word?”. I think it took me at least another year before I actually picked a word and made a note of it.

That was 2012: Intentional. As in act with intention – be more thoughtful of the decisions I made and the long term effects of them. I’m not someone with a 5- and 10-year plan, and part of the idea behind picking the word intention was that I would be thinking more long range…about everything! Don’t just buy the cheapo fast fashion top that will look dated and worn out after a year, but instead save and spend a bit more on something that is better quality and will look good for the long haul. But also be more intentional in my interactions with others, and when making plans (or not making plans, as the case may be). I did a pretty decent job of thinking about my word throughout the year, although I’m not entirely sure that I was acting on it all year.

In 2013 I realized that I actually like two words better: Get Strong. As in I had finally found a strength training routine to add to my running and wanted to get more consistent with it. I wanted to get stronger financially (saving has never been my strong point, much to the dismay of my banker father I’m sure). I wanted to get myself to a stronger place work-wise, too: halfway through 2012 the manager I had worked with for five years had left the company, and I was left in both a state of shock (it’s crazy how much that felt like going through a breakup) and feeling incredibly unstable job-wise…I needed to get to a stronger work position somehow. There were so many ways that I wanted to get stronger – strengthening relationships, getting stronger physically, emotionally, and financially. I loved that I had a list of goals for the year, but that you could boil all of them down to getting strong in one way or another. By the end of the year I certainly felt liked I’d nailed this one – maybe I wasn’t as strong as I could possibly be, but that wasn’t the point…I did get stronger, and that progress felt good, I wanted to keep it going.

OLW_2

In 2014 I was obviously hooked on this exercise: Be Brave. 2013 was both really great and really tough, and it left me wanting to make some pretty big changes…scary changes! Being brave was the way to make them happen, right? I had picked this word before the year even started, in part inspired when I came across Bravelets and had bought one (with a portion of proceeds to support Melanoma research). I put it on my wrist when I opened the package and it has since come off only for surgical procedures and massages. Truth be told, I didn’t do a good job on my word last year. Maybe for the first six months I was on track? But it was very downhill for the second half of the year (this is a theme you may have caught in my 2014 Year in Running recap?), which was something that happened pretty quickly, and even though I saw it happening I couldn’t seem to stop it from continuing. Brave was definitely not how I was feeling by the end of the year.

This month I came close to sticking with Be Brave because I feel so strongly that I’m not finished with it. But I also feel strongly that brave wasn’t the right word and that I need a new one. I made a quick note of the words I had chosen over the last few years and stuck it inside the front cover of my planner, then over the course of a few days I would jot down word(s) that popped into my mind on a sticky note and let it sit there for a while. There were at least half a dozen words I had scribbled, and in the meantime I was also thinking over a few scraps of paper where I had been jotting down ideas for my 2015 goals (since we’re being honest here, there are more than a few goals that I didn’t achieve in 2014 and have been carried right over to my 2015 list). Some of those words lasted longer than others, but in the end there was one word that just felt so right once I saw it on my little green sticky note.

OLW_1

Uncomfortable.

As in get comfortable being uncomfortable (see also). As in drop kick your comfort zone. These are what I came back to as I started digging into this word, wanting to be sure that it was the one. I knew it was right as I peeled the other words away, one by one and over the course of a few days.

So there it is: 2015 is the year I get uncomfortable.

*Elise Blaha Cripe is one of my favorite bloggers and goal setters (and her house is amazing – can I be her when I grow up?). She recently talked with Ali Edwards all about One Little Word on her podcast, and it’s worth a listen!

To Do: Winter 2015

To Do: Winter 2015 | My Monotonous Life
Despite my failure to post about them here, I did make a list for both this past summer and fall. I’ve long been making some kind of “one-pager” for myself with a photo to represent the season and my list added over top of it, previously in PowerPoint and more recently by hand.

Lately it goes like this: I print the photo onto card stock, add my list to it, and then punch and place it just inside the front cover of the Arc notebook I use at work every day. I love having things saved for posterity and shared publicly in a digital format, but I am far more likely to actually complete these lists when I have a physical representation of it. Plus I like pretty things!

This is the latest in the series, and now that it’s safely tucked into my Arc notebook, here it is for posterity and accountability (and in text so I can come back later to strikeout as I complete):

1. Watch a movie marathon on a snowy day
2. Go rock climbing (indoors)
3. Visit the Harvard Art Museums
4. Design and order our 2014 photo album
5. Take (and hopefully pass!) the PHR certification exam

This season’s list is a short one, but that last item is going to take a lot of my free time for the next month and a half(ish), so I didn’t want to go crazy! What’s on your list this winter?

(Read the story behind the photo I used here)

Year in Running: 2014

The funny thing about this post is that while I don’t post here as often as I used to, I’ve drafted bits and pieces of this specific post in my head on many a run since I did this same “survey” last year. This was a weird year in running for me…or maybe it’s actually the opposite: maybe last year’s consistency and constant running high was the anomaly and this year is actually the norm? At any rate, I like having this little recap to look back at from last year so much that I’m putting it together again this year…and hopefully for many years to come. Without further ado: my 2014 in running.

Run to Remember Half Marathon
Best race experience? Run to Remember Half Marathon. I’ll spare the additional words, because you can read all about it in my recap if you haven’t already. Runners up: Hingham Fourth of July Road Race (see here and here and below), Finish at the 50 10k (see here here here and here).

Hingham 4th of July Road Race 

Best run? No one single run jumps out in my mind this year, but I really did love a lot of those runches I had last winter – especially the snowy ones! I don’t have the flexibility to work from home anymore, and the inability to runch is the number one reason I’m angry about that. See here here here here here here and below.

runch 

Best new piece of gear? Pro compression calf sleeves! My calves are chronically tight and painful, and I’m not as diligent about stretching and rolling them as I should be. I have compression socks and they work, but I put off buying sleeves because I already had socks and why spend the money and blah blah blah…eventually I caved and bought a grab bag of sleeves and I couldn’t be happier. For one thing, I loved all the colors they sent me (white, purple, AHB lime green). For another, they fit way more comfortably than I expected – I’m considering tossing my socks all together. That extra comfort means I wear them more, which means my cranky calves are significantly less cranky these days.

Best piece of running advice you received? This is the hardest question for me to answer (as it was last year). I read a lot about running and training and racing, and I talk about it with friends and running buddies a lot and the result is that I don’t ever remember where the advice or information I got came from…and honestly, this wasn’t a great “year in running” for me in general. I will say this: having Alicia coach me through half marathon training was the best thing I did for my running this year. Having the accountability of that Google doc to update with my workouts (and my comments which ranged from “I just wanted to be done, go home, and eat pizza” to “should I be surprised when my long run feels good” to “I’m very good at resting. Nailed it!” and a number of threats to homeowners who don’t shovel their sidewalks LIKE CITY LAWS REQUIRE THEM TO) kept me, more or less, on track and consistent with both my running and my workouts. That is something that’s invaluable to a lazy runner like me, and I’m sure that my half would have been significantly less enjoyable if it weren’t for Alicia. Also, she made me come up with a time goal and challenged me with workout that led me to realize that I am can be a lot faster than I realized.

 

Most inspirational runner? This is hard. Can I reuse my answer from last year? To be honest, my answer hasn’t changed. I’m still finding heaps of inspiration by the runners I’m lucky to have surrounded myself with. The same ones who continue to accomplish amazing firsts, fight hard to chase down big scary goals, and stay positive and consistent through setbacks. 

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be? Front loaded. Inconsistent. Slump.

And what roundup would be complete without the summary on my race tracker spreadsheet?

Year in Running: 2014 Race Summary

Here’s to 2015 – hopefully a year that is summed up in slightly more positive words than 2014 was!

Things I Don’t Want to Forget: Presidential Traverse

Presidential Traverse | My Monotonous Life

The Hike of Doom never disappoints!

I’m pretty sure that Mark, Erica, and I hadn’t even finished hiking Mt Washington last year before we had started to plot a longer hike this year. I’m the avid researcher of our trio, so I spent plenty of time over the winter day dreaming about t and digging up info on possible routes, and we ultimately came up with a hut-to-hut hike of the Presidential Traverse. At a minimum the Presidential Traverse is about 20 miles, seven 4,000+ ft peaks, and over 8,000 ft of elevation gain. Our plan worked out to 20.24 miles, seven peaks (all over 4,000 ft), 9,001 ft of elevation gain, and 8,378 ft of elevation loss.

 

Dear knees,

I’m sorry.

Love & glucosamine,

SG

 

To say that I have been looking forward to this hike for months is an understatement. I had a lot of awesome things to look forward to this summer (Chicago! Falmouth! Weddings! Heaps of other stuff I won’t list!), but this trip has been at the top of the list despite being a relatively short one and including as much sweating as it did relaxing.

To say that this trip lived up to all of my expectations is also an understatement. Theoretically this “things I don’t want to forget” format means it’s a shorter post, but I don’t think that’s going to hold true…regardless, there’s a photo dump on Flickr and these are the things I don’t want to forget:

  • On Saturday, we caught the hiker shuttle from our endpoint to our starting point. The shuttle takes an hour and I suspect it’s normally a quiet ride at 9am. We picked up a family at the second stop, and the mother, Shannon, sat with me across the aisle from Mark and Erica. Our 5am start was extra early for me (whenever the three of us are planning a hike I groan when they tell me what time we’re starting), so I was letting them carry the conversation. We had already been up for four and a half hours and were full of “let’s get this show on the road” energy, and as we were chatting and laughing hysterically about things that weren’t all that funny, she turned to me and asked “are they like this all the time?! Do they ever crash?!?” I told her that this is 100% standard for them at any hour of the day, but I’m not sure she believed me. Until we caught up with her again at Madison Spring, where we were equally as hyper and loud. Surprisingly, she (and her husband and son) didn’t run screaming to find new seats when we sat down with them for dinner.
  • We dropped our packs at Madison Spring, had “lunch” (my fourth meal of the day, but it was around 12:30 so that makes it lunch?), and then headed up the last half mile to summit Mt Madison. Mark and Erica go up much faster than I do, so I when I finally got to the summit a few minutes later they were already up there, standing next to a couple who had been on the shuttle with us earlier that morning. I got there and pointed at the couple and was all “hey! I know you!” But you guys? I totally don’t know them. They were normal and quiet and were probably trying to avoid us on the shuttle. I force friendship with strangers while I’m in the hiking with the same dedication with which I avoid eye contact with strangers while riding the T.
  • Steaming feet! Gross, but also hilarious? Maybe just gross.
  • Speaking of forcing people to be friends with me, I would like to state for the record that while we did make friends with a lovely family on this trip, it was THEM that found US this time! I offered to share our deck of cards with Ben when he was looking for some in the afternoon, but it was his father Gary who chose to sit with us at dinner and there was no going back after that. Bonus: they were also staying at Lakes on Sunday night, so the fun didn’t have to end after just one vicious post-dinner game of Hearts.

Presidential Traverse | My Monotonous Life

  • We caught most of the sunset from Madison (I’m such a jerk – I kept thinking “meh, the sunset from Lakes is so much better” but the truth is that the sunset at Madison is equally beautiful even if it isn’t a straight westerly view), but I didn’t think about going back out after it was dark (it was cold, I’m a wuss). Then I went to bed, and holy cow! I had an amazing view of the stars out of the window next to my bunk. Given that I woke up no fewer than a half dozen times over the course of the night, I took complete advantage of that view.
  • Sunday started off with a bang! By “with a bang” I mean “with losing Erica”. Erica took off like the mountain goat that she is as we headed from the hut to summit our first peak of the day, Mt Adams, and left Mark and I straggling behind. We scaled the boulder pile that is Adams, got to the top…and she wasn’t there. It was windy and chilly and incredibly foggy and we figured she must have headed down to keep moving and stay warm, so we took our photo and started down. Maybe five minutes later we thought we heard my name, but when we turned around the group behind us didn’t acknowledge us and we couldn’t see anything through the fog, so we kept going. Then we heard my name again, and realized that Erica somehow ended up behind us. We hollered back asking where she was and heard “I’M AT THE TOP OF F*CKING MOUNT ADAMS!” Hilarity ensued (for Mark and I. Erica? Not so much), and you better believe that Erica learned quickly to stay within sight/hearing of us for the rest of our trip.
  • Sunday was brutal. It was 7.9 miles, 3,540 feet of elevation gain, and about 3,300 ft of elevation loss…we went up and down and up and down and up and down and up and down all. day. long. But after we had descended Jefferson, as we were working our way towards, up, and over Clay and about four miles into our day (I think), I could NOT stop looking around and feeling overwhelmingly happy. Hands down this ~2 miles was my favorite hiking of the trip.

Presidential Traverse | My Monotonous Life

  • S: “I see Crawford Path!” M: “You see AFRICA!?!” Almost, Mark. Almost. Let me tell you three more times so that you will actually hear it.
  • Swimming at Lakes! So cold. SO cold! So worth it. But seriously. SO EFFING COLD.
  • Monday morning, before we left Lakes, I forced our new friends to both take a photo with us and to add us as friends on facebook while explaining that they were stuck with me for life (it’s like I’m the little sister they never wanted!). This is how I operate. At least I told them it was happening instead of saying goodbye and acting like we would never meet again all normal-like…and then later using my stalker skillz to find them on facebook, like I did last year to Viagara and He Who Shall Not Be Trail Named.

Presidential Traverse | My Monotonous Life

  • We kept bumping into another couple who had been on the hiker shuttle with us, but instead of accosting them anonymously I introduced myself to them when we bumped into them at the summit of Mt Eisenhower. We crossed paths again when we stopped for a break at Mizpah Springs, but they left to head down the final ~2.5 miles before we did. About halfway down, we came across Dave standing in the middle of the trail, looking into the trees and looking rattled. As soon as he saw us, he told us he had been rushed by a squirrel and let us pass him while he recovered from the shock…we realized Liz wasn’t with him and asked if the squirrel had got her. Turns out she was just rocketing downhill, so when we caught up with her about a quarter mile from the trailhead we told her that Dave had been rushed by a squirrel and her response was “is that what he said to tell me?!” I told her that it was true, that there was blood everywhere. ;) (We’re super hilarious to run into in the middle of the woods.) She was a good sport and we assured her that he really was fine and she did not have to go back to find him, and then we were off on the final flat stretch back to the car.
  • That final flat stretch? Easy hiking but so warm and so moist…like being in a crock pot. The difference in temperature between the valley and the summits is sometimes jarring. The analogies you make after three days in the woods are also sometimes jarring.

Presidential Traverse | My Monotonous Life
Hike of Doom 2015, I can’t wait to see what you’ve got!

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