April Check-In

Well, here we are, at the end of April. As much as I want to complain about the weather, I feel like having 80-degree days in March should cancel out the fact that I hate having to wear a coat on my birthday in April.

One of my favorite nights this month!

Anyway, April flew by this month, and  I can hardly believe it’s over. However, I did accomplish a lot, so here’s my April check-in for you all.

Life’s List Items Crossed Off: 2. A Sub-30 5K (YAY!!!!) and one other surprise you’ll get to read about soon!

Miles Run: 46. Much better than last month!

Races Run: 3 – Bunny Rock 5K, Home Team Charity Run, and the Lakefront 10 Miler

Upcoming Races:

  • 5/12 – Move for the Kids
  • 5/26 – Soldier Field 10 Mile
  • 6/2 – The Color Run
  • 6/9 – Chicago 13.1 (Thanks to Kim!)
  • 9/2 – Disneyland Half Marathon
  • 9/9 – Chicago Half Marathon

Even though I will be at well over 12 races this year, I am still shooting for a race a month. Still need something for July, August, October, November, and December. And I’m hoping for some of those to be CARA certified.

And speaking of CARA…

CARA Races Participation Award Update: 4 down, 6 to go. (Still need to sign up for 3 more)

Books Read: 3. Not great, but I’m still on track for my Goodreads Challenge.

2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge
Cary has
read 17 books toward her goal of 50 books.

Accomplishments for April:

  • Graduated from physical therapy.
  • Completed the Lakefront 10, pain-free!
  • Got my hair cut.
  • Celebrated my birthday with good friends and good food.
  • Saw Snow Patrol at the Aragon.
  • Video-chatted with my nephew for the first time. Well, I chatted, he bounced in his bouncy-seat.

Goals for May

  • Work out more regularly.
  • Train for and complete the Soldier Field 10 Mile.
  • Create a curriculum for a reading program at work that I am really proud of.
  • Clean my apartment. Really clean it.
  • Use my Groupon for fondue before it expires.
  • Stop being so hard on myself and use my tendancies to overanalyze everything I do and how it could have been better to make positive changes, instead of just beating myself up.
  • Continue to do my therapy exercises at least 3x a week, even though I’m no longer meeting with my PT.
  • Volunteer for Mayfest.
  • Book flights to California.
  • Keep on track for my Goodreads goal.
  • Recruit at least one runner for Team Bookin It, and reach the $300 mark in my Half Marathon Fundraising by the end of the month. (Click here to join my team, or to help with fundraising!)

March Check-In

March went by even faster than February did. Maybe it was the spring and even summer-like weather we had that made time fly. It was also full of running-related adventures (though not much actual running – more race registrations and therapy sessions), St. Patrick’s Day fun, and finally getting out of the house to see friends and drink beers on patios.

Here’s a quick recap of the month.

Life’s List Items Crossed Off: 1 – Riverdance!

Miles Run: 22.75 – Better than last month, but still working on increasing my mileage while avoiding more knee pains

Races Run (or partially run): 2 – Get Lucky 7K and the Shamrock Shuffle 8K

Races Registered For: I can’t even keep track anymore. Here’s my upcoming race calendar to date.

  • 4/7 – Bunny Rock 5K
  • 4/28 – Lakefront 10 Miler (free entry from CARA raffle)
  • 5/26 – Soldier Field 10 Miler
  • 6/2 – The Color Run
  • 9/2 – Disneyland Half Marathon
  • 9/9 – Chicago Half Marathon

Books Read: 1 – I was pretty bad this month about reading. I started at least 4 different books and didn’t finish any of them. Instead, I spent a lot of my reading time listing to One-Minute Irish podcasts, watching every episode of Downton Abbey at least once, and watching NCAA basketball games to check on my March Madness brackets. I hope to get back to reading more in April.

Accomplishments for March:

  • Started physical therapy for my knee.
  • Tried to learn a little bit of Irish using the One Minute Irish podcasts mentioned above
  • Attended a homemade pasta class through Dabble.
  • Watched my NCAA bracket make it into first place. It probably won’t stay there through the weekend, but I currently have all four Final Four teams in it, so I still have a fighting chance!
  • Registered for a workout package at Indigo Studio in my office building, and so far I have taken two classes there.
  • Hung out with my adorable nephew and my sister when they were in town earlier this month.

I did not make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day this year, and currently still have uncooked corned beef in my fridge. I need to make that before it goes bad!

Goals for April

  • Increase my mileage so I can at least finish the Lakefront 10 Miler in some form. (Preferably upright)
  • Get a hair cut for the first time in about 6 months.
  • Go to the dentist before my dental insurance runs out.
  • Take more classes at Indigo.
  • Read more.
  • See Snow Patrol at the Aragon.
  • Celebrate my birthday!
  • Meet my friend’s new baby.
  • Keep checking in for cheaper airfare to California for Labor Day.
  • Revamp my blog.

Stay tuned to see how I do!

February Check-In

Well, I’ve officially stuck with my monthly check-ins for two months in a row. Let’s hope I can keep up the good work.

Overall, February was a month of laziness and lethargy, which is okay with me. I’ve always been the type to be extremely active and social in the summer, and then fall into hibernation mode in the winter. And I actually was busier than usual this year in December and January, so it all finally caught up with me this month.

I didn’t see many friends this month, didn’t have too many adventures, and spent some time nursing my knee and not doing much running (or working out of any kind, unfortunately). But I was able to relax, get settled into my new job, and make some goals for the coming months.

Here’s a quick look at the month.

Life’s List Items Crossed Off: Zero.

Miles Run: 11.7 – not so great.

Races Run: 1 – Warm Your Heart 5K

Races registered for: 3 since my last update. The upcoming race calendar looks like this:

  • 3/18 – Get Lucky 7K
  • 3/25 – Shamrock Shuffle 8K
  • 5/26 – Soldier Field 10 Mile
  • 6/2 – The Color Run
  • 9/2 – Disneyland Half Marathon
I’ve officially prohibited myself from registering for any more until I get my knee checked out and figure out what’s wrong. Although, I really would like to run a race in April to keep up with my one race a month goal.

Books Read: 6

Books in progress: 2

  • Holler If You Hear Me: The Education of a Teacher and His Students by Gregory Michie
  • How The Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

Accomplishments of February:

  • Getting settled in my job.
  • Being lazy on the couch, getting sucked in to Worst Cooks in America and other Food Network shows.
  • Finishing the first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix
  • Ski trip – in which I had my first wipeout since 1995.
  • Taking a cake decorating class.

Aspirations for March:

  • Seeing Riverdance for the first time ever! (This is on my List, and tickets are already purchased!)
  • Make corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day
  • Go to the sports doctor and figure out what’s wrong with my knee
  • Sign up for yoga and/or dance classes at the studio in my office building
  • Work out more, even if I can’t run for a while
  • Take a pasta making class through Dabble
  • Take some great photos of my nephew when he’s in town so I can finally frame some and put them in my office

Monthly Check-In

In the past I have only posted when I have crossed something off my list, or made some really good progress on something.  This year, however, I’d like to start posting a little more regularly. One of the ways I’d like to do this is by having a monthly update, a status report of sorts.

I think this will be a good way to keep myself on task, stay focused on the many projects I have going on at any given time, and let you all know when I’ve been slacking. It’s also fun because I plan on doing it in list form. (Yay, lists!)

So for my first month, here’s a little rundown of what I’ve been up to in January.

Life’s List Items Crossed Off: 2

Miles Run: 30

Races registered for: 3

  • 2/26 – Warm Your Heart Indoor 5K
  • 3/25 – Shamrock Shuffle 8K
  • 5/26 – Soldier Field 10 Mile

Books Read: 6

Books in progress: 4 (This is going to become an issue. Not a fan of reading multiple books at once!)

  • eBook – The Marriage Plot
  • audio book – American on Purpose
  • print book – The Road to McCarthy
  • YA book of the moment – The Skin I’m In

Big Projects of January:

  • Completing the Disney Marathon
  • Starting a brand-new job
  • Attempting to read more books.
  • Attempting to read more YA books for my new job.

Aspirations for February:

  • Continuing to learn my new job
  • Taking a short break from running
  • Read, read, read
  • Enjoy my annual “hibernation mode” where I don’t want to leave the house at all until spring
  • Trying to leave the house occasionally so as not to get cabin fever, and not completely lose touch with my friends
  • Ski trip
  • Cake decorating class
  • Register for the CARA Six Nights Series
  • Find a new hobby/class/craft to start on in March

Reading Goal #3: Read the Books I’ve Been Avoiding.

This is perhaps my toughest challenge.

Ever since high school, I hated being told what to read. I hated reading books because someone else decided they were valuable, or “classics”. Although I loved to read and was an otherwise great student, I am ashamed to admit that I made my way through high school essentially avoiding reading every book I was ever supposed to read, with the exception of Metaphorphosis (because it was short; I still thought it was stupid), and 1984 (but only months after it was assigned, because we were also putting on the stage production of it, and it suddenly felt relevant to me).

Some harsh confessions of an Honor Roll student include reading the Children’s Illustrated Classics version of Frankenstein instead of the actual  book, giving up half way through Great Expectations, and doing my entire Junior year panel project on Grapes of Wrath only ever reading the first page of each chapter. Terrible, I know. And the guilt still hasn’t left me. Which is why I still feel the need to right this wrong.

I feel I owe it to myself, and to my high school English teachers, (Mrs. Kobza, Mrs. Nee, and Mr. Moeller, if you’re reading this, I am so, so sorry!) to make up for the errors of my ways.

So, starting in 2012, I vow to attempt the following things:

  1. I will find a high school reading list, a list of “classics”, or my own personal list of books I feel I should have read, and attempt to read at least 4 a year.
  2. I will try not to be immediately against a book just because it was recommended to me, assigned in high school, or is considered a “classic.”
  3. I will read Grapes of Wrath cover to cover so I can finally feel I earned the A I received.

I hope that if I do these three things, I will be relieved of a deep and lingering guilt that has stayed with me for nearly a third of my life.

Reading Goal #2: Reading the Books I Own

While I absolutely love browsing bookstores, I’ve never been one to buy a ton of books – I love using the library and borrowing books from friends. Also, I very rarely re-read books, so owning them seemed sort of silly. That said, I still love the look of a full bookshelf and think it’s so important to have books in every home. So, now that I have access to lots of books to take home, I see a challenge ahead.

I already have a few books on my shelf that I really do want to read, but for whatever reason just haven’t done it. For example, I desperately want to read all of The Story of the Irish Race by Seamus Macmanus, but at 768 pages of pretty meaty stuff, I have not, for obvious reasons, committed to tackling it yet. And then there are a number of classics I bought when I felt like I should have read them years ago, and then still never read.

And now I am finding myself bringing home even more books like this. For one reason or another I really do want to read these more challenging books, but I  have a hard time making the commitment to start these as opposed to the ones I know I will fly through. I’ve always been of the belief that reading should be enjoyable, rather than a chore, and some of the longer, tougher ones still do feel like a chore.

A few of the newest additions to my collection.

But I would like to set a goal for myself. I want no more than 25% of the books on my shelf to be books I have not  yet read. Right now that number is a little off, since I just donated several books I had already read. But, currently I have 19 unread books that I own, and I’d like to get that number down to at least 15 before I get any new books.

And if this works, eventually I might want to get that goal down to closer to 10% of unread books on my shelf.

Reading Goal #1: Carving Out Time To Read

As I mentioned in my last post, my new job – while completely awesome – means that I will no longer be able to read on my commute. That means I’m going to have to set aside some time to read at home or read in other ways.

Here are some of my ideas:

1. Set aside time in the morning.

My new job starts later than my old one, and it takes less time to get there. The non-morning-person in me would normally take that as a welcome invitation to start sleeping in. However, in an attempt to better myself, I am going to try to continue getting up at the same time I used to.  This will leave me time to either read or work out each morning. Right now it doesn’t matter to me whether I decide to better my body or better my mind, as long as I’m bettering something other than my sleeping hours.

2 . Try to spend less time in front of my computer in the evenings, and more time with a book.

I spend a lot of time doing absolutely nothing online. Facebook, WordPress, and obsessively checking emails even when I know there’s nothing new takes hours of my life away. I’m pretty sure if I put away my computer for just a week, I could accomplish hours of more productive things. Even if I just trade a half an hour a day of computer time for reading time, I think I will notice a huge increase in books read.

3. Set aside some book & coffee time on the weekends. 

I love curling up on the couch with a book on a Saturday morning, or sitting in a coffee shop in Lincoln Square reading on a Sunday afternoon. However, I don’t do this nearly enough, and I want to make it happen more this year.

4. Listen to audio books on my walk to work.

I started testing out audio books during my last few long runs, and it worked out better than expected. I’m still not a huge fan of listening to my books, but if I find some great narrators (preferably as hilarious as Tina Fey, or ones with great accents) I might be able to get into it. I can usually listen to about one chapter a day while commuting, so this could potentially add a book a month, give or take, to my list.

5. Try harder to read some of the eBooks I have on my phone.

I don’t have an eReader, but I do have several books saved on my iPhone. Although my own personal jury is still out about eBooks, I think there are some times when it’s worth pulling out my phone and reading a few pages here and there, rather lugging out a whole book to read a few pages. This isn’t something I’m hugely committed to, but I’m going to try to open iBooks instead of Facebook whenever I have a few minutes to kill in a waiting room or lobby.

So, I hope with these few ideas, I will be able to continue to fit reading time into my life, even though I won’t be reading on trains anymore.

So Many Books, So Little Time

Last year, after reaching my goal of reading 50 books in a year, I decided this year I would go for quality over quantity in my reading selections.

I didn’t think much about what this meant, or what my criteria would be for selecting good books. It just meant I would stop “cheating” by picking short books and easy reads, and stop being deterred from the gigantic books that would take valuable time away from working toward meeting my numbers.

However, now that 2012 has begun, I’ve found my reading situation even more challenging. Here’s why.

This month I started an amazing new job where I have pretty much unlimited access to all the books I could ever want. In fact, just this week, three new books have been added to my collection, and that’s not including the ones I am only borrowing. On top of that, I tend to be more of a commuter-reader, rather than a bedtime reader, but my new job is walking distance from where I live.

With this new concept of my bookshelf growing significantly faster than I can tear through it, I realized I have a few things I need to work toward.

  1. Carving out a new time to read all these books.
  2. Making sure I read the majority of books I own.
  3. Finding a way to avoid the pressure of reading more books, and focusing on reading those books I’ve been putting off.
I am attempting to work on each of these goals, and over the next three days I will share with you my plans to help accomplish each.
Stay tuned!

Just in the Nick of Time

Though there were many bumps along the road, and with a few shortcuts by reading more YA than usual this year, as of noon on New Year’s Eve, I managed to complete my GoodReads 2011 Reading Challenge.

I was worried for a while, but thanks to the Chicago Public Library; my favorite used bookstore  — Open Books; and reading free books on my iPhone, I was able to read 50 books this year and reach my goal!

As for next year, I’d like to focus more on quality over quantity. I hope to read more of those books I “should” have read years ago, books that I’ve been putting off reading because they’re so long or meaty, and books that will challenge me more.

But as for today, I’m off to celebrate a year full of accomplishments.

I did it!

More Stuff About Running

If you’ve seen my post from a few weeks ago, you know that I have caught a bit of the running bug. Or, as some people see it, I’ve officially lost my mind.

I’ve registered myself for not only another half, but also the Disney World Marathon. I know, I know, I said I had no desire to run a full marathon. But, I guess I just want to do it once, and I could think of no better place than in Disney World. (That, and I know that if I did the Disney Half, I’d only be disappointed I didn’t get the Mickey Medal, and I’d end up having to go back down to Orlando and do it all over again.)

I’m actually pretty excited about it. What I’m not excited about is training for the next 3 months, outdoors, during the Chicago winter. But worst case scenario, if I have to walk some of the race, I can. They give you 7 hours to finish, and my Chicago Half finishing time actually qualifies me for a starting corral. So, I get the impression that it’s a little less competitive than some of the other marathons. (That said, I still want/need to take my training seriously. 26.2 miles is a long freakin’ way!)

And speaking of finishing times, I’m still working toward another item on my list – to finish a 5K in under 30 minutes. To date, my personal best is 31:47, which I achieved back in June. I’m running in the Bucktown 5K tomorrow, and I’m going to see what I can do. I’m not too confident that tomorrow will be the day. I haven’t been working with my speed too much, and the cold air has really been bothering my lungs. But cross your fingers for me and check back later to see the results.

As for non-running related things…I’m still plugging away on my 50 Books in a Year goal, but I’ve hit some stumbling blocks there, too. Due to stress, headaches, and a more crowded morning commute, my reading time has decreased significantly and I’ve been stuck on book #35 for a few weeks now.

My goal is to spend a few hours reading today and finish this thing so I can move on. That will leave me with 15 books for the remaining 13 weeks in the year. Totally manageable.

So, reading and running. Those are the goals for the fall. And maybe a few other surprises as well.