Monday, December 20, 2010

Double-digits, baby!

Yesterday my little Google Calendar reminder went off at 8:30am, and I couldn't for the life of me think of why I needed reminding. Turns out it was the 4 week mark of the Race. I feel like this next month is going to fly by, between the holidays and trying to get my training in. Especially with a week of it being across the country in Massachusetts. But let's get to this past week's training before I lament about the next couple of weeks.

I told ya I was looking forward to repeats last week- and I had SO MUCH FUN doing them! They certainly weren't easy, but they were fun and quick. The mid-tempo run was a bit more challenging, my leg is still going through some stiffness, so I had to keep stopping and stretching it out, which I am not sure is really beneficial. Once I stop, it's that much more difficult to get moving again. I can almost hear the squeaking as I'm moving the crank that is my body! It concerned me enough that I was wary of how my body would handle the 10-mile run I had scheduled for the weekend.

I have to say it went better than expected! I managed a good 6 or 7 miles before I tightened up enough where I needed to walk a bit, other than being forced to stop and wait for traffic at intersections. Hitting the 8 mile mark also suddenly made me feel a little more tired, simply my mind telling me that this is the furthest I've gone but I'm not done yet. But I kept pushing, and resisted the urge to tackle every cyclist that went by and steal their ride. My very first double-digit run!

So, the next two weeks are going to be interesting. Repeats this week are 3 at 2000m (1.25 miles), a 7 mile run, then another 10 miles for the long run. I'm trying to figure out how to get that in, Christmas is Saturday, and we leave early Sunday morning. It's suggested you put a day in-between your Key Runs, which is why I'm not doing Repeats today. So who knows. I wouldn't mind getting up extra early Christmas morning, but I know my younger daughter likes to wake us up. The decisions!

We'll see what happens- I also feel confident enough that if I missed a long run, it wouldn't ruin it all for me. Ten miles is definitely a milestone. Now I know I can do that, and 13.1 isn't that much further.

"This is not about instant gratification. You have to work hard for it, sweat for it, give up sleeping in on Sunday mornings." ~Lauren Fessenden, Cross Country Athlete

Amen to that!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays From The Cutler Clan!

Yep, that is our eldest being put to work this year stringing lights. Though she offered, and she loved helping out!

Merry/Happy Christmas/Holidays! We Cutler's (read: Danielle) decided to say goodbye to the paper and go internet for our holiday greeting. This way I can still write, and I don't have to print out 50 copies to mail. AND I get the added benefit of linking you over to an album with a selection of photos from throughout 2010. You can also get there if you click on the picture of Allison!

2010 was a year of milestones and changes for the family. Let's start with the youngest, at least of the humans in the house.

Samantha turned the big 10 this year, and is in 5th grade at the Montessori school. She is an avid reader- we can't seem to keep up with how fast she consumes books. At times it's difficult to find things for her, she reads a few years above her age but the comprehension is still on track for her age group. She has also developed a love of Greek Mythology after having lessons at school, which helps in the book department (thank you Percy Jackson!) She also really enjoys playing football and soccer, and keeps asking if she can play football in High School. I love that she has an interest in so many different things!

Allison turned 13 this year, and with that the rest of Bret's and my hair went gray. I think she had more changes than any of us this year. Unfortunately the Montessori Middle School needed to close due to budget cuts, so we had a bit of a last minute scramble to find a school for her to attend the next year. Allison was just as involved in the process, researching schools and talking with her mentors about it. We decided on a great Preparatory school, and so ended and began a new chapter. One adjustment was the uniform requirement, which she was/is not happy about, but is adjusting. Not a big sacrifice to make though for such a great school. She jumped right in, and yes, it was a bit stressful for the first month or so, but she transitioned really well.

The new school also opened up the door to what was not offered at the old school: extra-curricular activities. One semester in and Allison is all ready participating in the Yearbook Club, and was part of the Volleyball team. Now for winter she is playing soccer, and in the spring she would like to join the Archery team. What's great is the school has an open policy, you don't have to try out for a team, and there are no cuts. It has really given her a chance to find out what she is interested in. What we're realizing is that she can excel in just about anything she puts her mind too. The biggest problem is deciding which activity to cut, because there are just too many!

During Allison's down time (ha!), she is still active in Girl Scouts, enjoys reading/watching anime, attending Anime/Comic Conventions, and has even discovered a little romance too. It's not going to slow down any time soon, is it?

Bret also had a milestone this year, the big 40. For him it really wasn't a big deal, but we did celebrate by doing something he has always wanted to do. Skydive. Turns out he wasn't the only one who wanted to do this, so we spent the weekend in Sedona with my brother Andy and our friend Rob and his family. Then the three of them jumped out of a plane. Bret absolutely loved it, a great weekend to celebrate a great guy. :-) He's still working for Intel, and just started a new project where he is working with the AZ colleges and universities crating a program for Intel employees to advance their education.

I'm still working for KWSS Radio, a local independent station, and loving my position as the mid-day announcer. I'm also still podcasting my politics with Truth Seekers. Haven't done much voice acting this past year, though I have read a couple of stories this month for some science fiction podcasts. I'm still enjoying the audio world very much. Sometimes talking politics all the time weighs me down, but I try and give as much of a positive spin on things as I can. And take plenty of breaks, which helps my sanity!

I've also discovered a new passion this past year, running. It began a year ago when I started training for Pat's Run, a 4.2 mile run named for Pat Tillman, the football player who gave up his contract with the Arizona Cardinals football team to join the military after 9/11/2001, and was killed by friendly fire. I had no idea that running would have such a profound effect on me. The sense of accomplishment, feeling my body becoming stronger- I was hooked! Now I can't stop running! In January I'm participating in the PF Chang's half-marathon. When I turn 40 (not all that far off!) rather than jumping out of a plane I'm going to run a full-marathon. Where and when are yet to be determined, but my birthday is the end of April (2012) so there is time to plan. I'm very grateful that I have the time and ability to train the way I have, but I think the benefits have gone way beyond a healthy body. You know, if I'm happy, then the whole family is happy! I've been blogging the progress in my training, so if you are interested to see how it's going, come by any time.

Last but not least, we should introduce the new addition to the family. My brother and his friend were on vacation in Mexico last Christmas, and found an undernourished barely 5 pound puppy on the side of the highway. They took her in, but realized that they really didn't want to leave her at a shelter. So, using the Extreme Awesome power of the mobile upload, they sent out a pic of her with the call for a home. Yep, I was hooked. Showed the photo to Bret, and though he won't admit it, he was hooked too.

That's how Lizzie came into our lives. She's a terrier/poodle thing (Terrioodle? Snickerdoodle?), and now she is full grown at nearly 20 lbs. She's a bit tenacious, and loves to dig. She is also still wary of other humans, and will pee when frightened or excited (who doesn't?). But she is an absolute sweetie, and we all love the little ball of fluff. I'm just happy to have a dog in the house again, it had been lonely since our previous dog Sandi passed.

So there is The Life Of Cutler. Thank you all for reading, and I hope everyone enjoys this holiday season with family and friends. Know that you are all in our thoughts at one time or another, and always in our hearts.

Danielle, Bret, Allison, Samantha, and Lizzie

PS: Don't forget- PHOTOS!

Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Weeks Left!

The time has just flown by- I can't believe I'm in the home-stretch of training for the PF Chang's Half Marathon! Looking ahead at the FIRST training program, the next couple of weeks are going to really push it, then naturally it backs off so I can be strong on race day. But first let's go back to this past week of training...

Repeats were good- 3x 1 mile runs. I'm still dealing with tightness in my right leg, but thanks to the massage and using the foam roller, it's considerably less. My lower back is practically pain-free too, which is 100% better in my opinion.

The second Key Run was an easy, relaxed 6 miles. No complaints there. It's still a challenge to ignore my time and run slow. The long run was also slow- 8 miles. It's easier to ignore time when you're outside running. I don't wear a watch or have a heart-rate monitor, just use the stopwatch on the iTouch and Daily Mile fills in the rest. I prefer it that way, otherwise I'd be looking at it all the time. Too distracting. Besides, it's not that difficult to know when your heart rate is high or low, when you're pushing or not. It's also how I know the repeats are working- my cardio is awesome. If it weren't for my leg pain I know I could keep running for miles.

The pain in my leg and back are the things that worry me the most about the half-marathon. The distance itself doesn't scare me at all. It's making sure all the parts of the machine are in working order.

So, this week. I am REALLLLY looking forward to repeats tomorrow- 10 quarter-mile ones! That will be fun, I can't wait to use the shorter distance to run faster. I would like to do all of them at the very least a 10 min. mile pace. Then the second run is a 5 mile mid-tempo, with the long run a whopping 10 miles! Another accomplishment waiting to happen, my longest has been 8. I just hope it's not another 80-degree weekend, I don't mind getting up early to run but I don't want to get up too early on the weekend! However I have to say that although I can't stand being in warm places, I'd rather run when it's too hot than too cold.

125 Mile Challenge: At 31 miles. Not sure if I'll make it to the full 125, but even 100 would be an accomplishment. The leader is at 73 miles! I think it's easier allot time for running when you're faster. Even looking at the 10 miles this weekend, I will need at least 2 hours, probably more. Anyway, it's fun to see what I can do, and it encourages me to get out there and run even on my off days.

I also just discovered a great organization called Girls On The Run. It's like Girl Scouts with a running theme. I just may have to look into getting involved with that, my younger daughter has really taken an interest in running and I would love to see that interest grow. Beyond that, just to support other girls and watch their confidence grow the way I know mine has since I began running, what a great idea.

Girl Power!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

True Freedom

"People ask why I run. I say, "If you have to ask, you will never understand". It is something only those select few know. Those who put themselves through pain, but know, deep down, how good it really feels."

~Erin Leonard, athlete

That about covers it this week. I feel better than I have probably in, well, ever. I now understand what the pain of pushing yourself feels like, instead of the pain of your body not being strong. It took a tweaked nerve to get me to open my eyes and truly focus on healing myself. While healing, I truly became a runner.

The kicker is, I loved running even with all the extra pain. I accepted the pain as normal. I can't even tell you how long I had truly been hurting, the body is amazing the way it just adapts. It wasn't until the pain went away that I realized what I had been living with. I've come to a whole new level, and I don't ever want to go back.

I'll give a better update next week, since I got a little off this week due to trying to finish up holiday madness. But I'm here, and I'm still running.