Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Liposuction for My Life

As I prepare for my move to Lincoln Square, I am ridding my life of all of the unnecessary clothing, papers, and tchotchke crap that I have carried around for years from state to state, apartment to apartment. It is a process that I have aptly titled, "cutting the fat.” I like to think of it as part spiritual cleansing intended to help me start fresh with a new life, and part drawing a line in the sand signifying that I refuse to cart a bunch of crap to another apartment where it will sit in a box until I discover it in my next move. It’s probably time to toss the clothes from the nineties that--let’s face it--don’t fit anymore anyway.

In addition to finally throwing out old sweaters, pants, novelty key chains, and credit card offers from five years ago, I applied “cutting the fat” principles to my finances and decided to find a new gym. My current gym is an athletic club, which means it's super pricey and offers slightly better benefits, like unlimited towels, than say a Bally's.

The price of my gym used to be a non-issue. While employed at the agency, my monthly gym membership costs were partially subsidized. When I sat down to decide whether or not to leave the agency for a new opportunity, I made the old pro and con list. It looked something like this:

Pro: Subsidized gym membership

Con: long hours, less money, lots of travel, clients who suck, general feeling of despair as I walk into office each morning

It was a tough choice.

After footing the massive gym bill sans subsidy for a few months, it was clear that the fat needed to be cut. So, last week I told them that I was canceling my membership. They did the obligatory why are you leaving routine and acted like they were sad, as if I was an old friend who just told them I would no longer be a part of their lives. Then they had me sign a form, which served as my “30-day written notice” that I would be parting ways with the gym.

It requires advance written notice to quit a lot of things these days, like when you quit your job. That makes sense; your employer needs to look for someone to fill your position. Or if you rent and you want to terminate your lease, you give notice so the management company can advertise for another tenant.

But at my gym, I had paid for a month-to-month membership so I could, in theory, quit at any time. Do they need 30 days to find another member to replace me? Perhaps they will put an ad in the classifieds, "Over-priced gym seeks female in late twenties, must appreciate towel service and be willing to give up other luxuries in life to afford membership."

To be fair, the 30-day notice policy is something I was well aware of when I signed up for my membership. I'm not necessarily angry that the gym has this policy—all gyms do it—but rather, I’m just asking a question that, in my opinion, needs to be asked… again, “What is the point of the 30-day gym membership cancellation policy?” If you answered, “To screw you out of another month’s membership dues,” you are correct.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Just Buy Me a Funnel Cake and We’ll Call it a Day

My mom has this horrible metaphor for life that she parades out for special occasions like when I am in the midst of a break up. She says, “Lou, life is like an amusement park. You can either ride the merry-go-round or you can ride the rollercoaster. I’d rather ride the rollercoaster.” To which I reply, “Whatever mom.”

Once upon a time, before the genius that is “A View from the Park” was made available to the world, I had another blog… a secret blog that I shared with no one. It’s so secret in fact that I can’t remember the name of it, but knowing me it was probably terribly witty. The main purpose of the secret blog was to rant about the horrible dates I went on with horrible guys, primarily making my point by peppering my posts with the "f" word as much as possible. It wasn’t something I felt comfortable telling people about.

When I started "A View from the Park," I made a deliberate choice to focus on a fairly benign topic (hence the half marathon) so I could muster the courage to share my blog with others. And of course, there really wasn’t very much else going on in my life besides the half marathon.

Like all good things, we knew that the half marathon would eventually come to an end. We did not, however, realize that my relationship would follow the same course. Writing has always been a cathartic exercise for me. When my life is changing and I become analytical about who I am and where I'm headed, I write.

I feel like when I started this blog, I made a promise to my three readers that I would not get too personal, or reveal too much crazy, or sound too much like a Candace Bushnell wannabe (please… you can’t see me, but I’m rolling my eyes). But let’s be honest, I didn’t make that promise to you guys, I made it to myself.

So, I’m on this rollercoaster...

Thanks mom.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Couch? Check. TiVo? Check. Mattress? Uh…

Isn’t moving fun? I should really move more often because once every four months really isn’t enough to satiate my craving for the move.

The clock is ticking my friends. I will officially be a renting again in one week. The best and worst aspect of this move boils down to furniture and the fact that I don’t have too much of it. Good because I don’t have to move a bunch of crap. Bad because I don’t have any furniture.

This wasn’t always the case. Once upon a time, I had a lot of furniture, granted some of it was in pretty shabby shape. However, thanks to my keen decorating sense, I was able to turn garage sale finds and hand me downs into a pretty nicely put together apartment. But, I don’t live there anymore.

In what I will from here on out refer to as “The Big Boyfriend Move In of 2006,” or TBBMIO 2006, there were victims. Not just me… or him… but our furniture. It’s called compromise people and we both had to give some things up: my dining room set, his couch, my coffee table, his desk, my mattresses. All went to the curb, where it’s likely that the items were promptly picked up by scavengers who resold them at flea markets and on Craigslist. It’s a business people. I'm not kidding. There is money to be made.

As for my couches, I’m leaving them behind because a) I know E (the boyfriend) will give them a good home; b) you couldn’t pay me to move those suckers again; and c) it’s about time I update my look a little. If you chose all of the above, you are correct.

So… I bought a new couch this week. Very exciting. I found “the one” at a store called Domicile, which carries beautiful and often out of my price range furniture. My initial plan was to get a red couch. It would have been a bold move, but one I was ready to take. Unfortunately, it would have taken 8-12 weeks to get the couch I wanted. What was I going to do? Sit on the floor for three months? Not likely.

Well, the style of couch I initially picked out was available on the showroom floor in a light green color that would work nicely with much of my artwork. But that couch had a small mark on the side. In a twist that no one saw coming, the store manager offered me the couch for 50 PERCENT OFF. Yes, you heard that in your head correctly.

SOLD.

The moral of the story is don’t get rid of your furniture, but if you do, take the opportunity to randomly be offered a deal that you can’t possibly say no to. Check out my new couch.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What a Girl Wants, What a Girl Needs

Yes, I referenced Christina Aguilera and I really don’t have an excuse for that.

Well, this isn’t going to be an easy posting to write for two reasons. First, many of my 3-5 dedicated readers aren’t aware of the current changes in my life. I don’t necessarily think that it’s best to make this “announcement” on my blog, but I’m just not sure how to tell people. Maybe it’s a copout to avoid some embarrassment, but it’s the choice I’m making. I hope my friends and readers can understand.

The second reason is just that it’s crappy news.

I’m probably building it up to much, but here goes: I am moving… again… which ultimately means that my boyfriend and I have decided to part ways.

For those of you who know my boyfriend and me, you can imagine that this wasn’t an easy decision, but both of us agree that it is the best. He and I have been friends since we were 14 years old and we are committed to staying friends. I truly believe that we will remain close.

So… after a frantic, week-long apartment search (which is another story altogether, but if you want to read my Yelp review of the Apartment People, an apartment finding service in Chicago, you’ll see that the search wasn’t pretty), I was able to rent an apartment in Lincoln Square, another awesome Chicago neighborhood, and I am moving the first week of September.

I know what you’re thinking… How does this affect me? Will I still be able to read your awesome blog, “A View From the Park?”

Fear not. Your reading enjoyment is of the utmost importance to me. But, I understand your concerns… after all, I wrote an entire post about where the name of the blog came from (What is This “Park” You Speak Of?) and now, after a mere four months, I am leaving Rogers Park. For now, I plan to keep the name of the blog the same. As for the content, now that my half marathon is over, you can expect the posts to vary a bit more in topic.

And as far as Christina Aguilera is concerned, what a girl wants is a TiVo and a flat screen television; what a girl needs is a mattress and a couch. But that’s yet another story…

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Me and My Medal

That's me looking pretty awesome after the race with my finisher's medal! Check out the mirrored sunglasses.

The "Wow Factor"

I went to my trainer last night and worked out for the first time since the half marathon. I spent the majority of the time pouting and avoiding as much exercise as possible by whining questions at my trainer, among them: “What am I supposed to do now? Should I keep running? Can I take aerobics classes? Can you put together a new program for me?” The truth is I feel incredibly lost and completely unmotivated to workout.

There is such a thing as post-race depression. More than three months of training and preparing for one day culminated in a race that took less than three hours. It's a bit of a let down. I have nothing big to work towards and no reason to get off my butt and run. I imagine this is how some brides feel after their wedding day. Months and months (sometimes years) of planning and it’s all over in a few hours. Bummer.

I have no choice but to just re-focus on my new goal: running a 5K at a 10/mile pace. Sure it’s not a glamorous goal that makes people say, “Wow, I can’t believe you’re going to run a 5K,” but it’s something. I just need to convince myself of the wow-factor. “Wow, I’m going to run a 5K…” Eh… I’ll get there, but probably not this week.

There are other factors in my life that are affecting my emotional state. A lot of changes are going to take place in the next month and as soon as I’m comfortable with everything, I’m sure I will be writing about them here.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It’s OVER!

The Chicago Distance Classic is finally OVER.

This morning I woke up at 4:30am after a total of three hours of sleep and trekked downtown for the half marathon. Five hours later, it was over. And yes, I finished. In addition, I had a semi-secret goal of finishing in less than three hours. My official time was 2 hours, 50 minutes and 2 seconds. Congratulations to me. I did it… and it’s finally over.

The weather was cool when I began the race, but by mile nine and ten, the race course took the runners on the lakefront and with little shade, the sun beat down on us. It started to get rough at that point. By mile 12 I felt terrible, but as I came upon mile 13, two of my friends were standing there cheering me on. It helped tremendously. Suddenly, I felt great, smiled and waved for some pictures and sprinted to the finish line. Just kidding, the ability to sprint was far beyond my reach at that point. I jogged, but I made it. As a bonus, another friend of mine was handing out the finisher’s medals. I saw her immediately, gave her a hug and she gave me my medal. It was really awesome.

After about 20 minutes, I stopped feeling like hell and we went for breakfast/lunch at Heartland CafĂ© (ummmmm… hummus). I came home, took the world’s fastest shower and fell asleep for two hours.

It feels like someone hit me in the legs with a baseball bat. I’m still a bit disoriented. But, on the upside, I have a massage scheduled tomorrow. I totally deserve it.

As for my running “career”, I already have my next goal. There is a 5K in October and I want to run it at a 10 minute/mile pace. After that… who knows? Is there another half marathon in my future? Perhaps a triathlon? Maybe a full marathon? The answers to those questions are, in order of the questions: Not in the summer, maybe, and hell to the no. I’m kidding… anything is possible (except a marathon). Heck, when I finished my first 8K in March, I said that I saw no point in running further than five miles. And, here I am. I started running eight months ago and I’ve finished a half marathon. Wow… that’s actually pretty cool. Now, if I could just make the pain go away.

P.S. I’m going to upload some pictures of the half marathon, so check back soon and you can see how lovely and fresh I look at the 13 mile marker.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Countdown to the Half Marathon

Today was my last workout until the half marathon on Sunday. The training program called for a 30-minute “run” at the 4 minutes running/2 minutes walking pace. But, at the urging (or perhaps shaming) of my trainer, I decided to run the entire 30 minutes.

In the early days of January 2006, when I opened up my “Runner's World Complete Book of Beginning Running” and began my 8-week program designed to train me to run 30 minutes straight, I struggled a lot. My 30-minute run this morning, was—dare I say it—easy.

Sure it was on a treadmill and I stuck with an 11:45/mile pace, but it occurred to me as I was listening to my iPod trying to visualize myself run/walking the half marathon, that I’ve come a long way. I was literally ecstatic when I finished my run this morning.

Group training, while it has provided me with support, camaraderie and guidance, also was my first adult venture into a world of athletics where I am at the bottom of the heap. It so easy to forget how far I am from my first “run” (a 1 minute run/2 minute walk for 30 minutes) when I focus on and measure myself by the talent and success of those who have been running for years.

My victories, though small, are significant. I’ve put more physical strain on my body in the last few months than I have since I was a teenager, and my body has held up surprisingly well. I joked with a friend a few weeks ago that it’s always a fun to find out how my body will fail me during each long run, but the truth is, with the exception of some blisters and a blood soaked sock after the 12 mile run, my body hasn’t failed me at all. There are some aches and pains, but I’ve been lucky enough not to have had any severe or even minor injuries.

Life is good my friends. I’ve lost 10 pounds (which was my goal before the half marathon); I feel strong, healthy, and positive; the weather is supposed decent on Sunday… I’m as ready as I’ll ever be. My goal is to finish, which means, if I have to crawl the last three miles to the finish line, then I’ll do it. I’m not walking off the course.

So wish me luck… this will probably be my last post before the half marathon.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tapering Off...

I’ve been a bad blogger this week. I admit that. With less than five days to the start and (hopefully) finish line of half marathon, I’m at a loss for words about training, running, working out, eating, etc. It’s probably because I’m not doing too much of any of those things. (Yes, you read that correctly, I’m not eating too much… well, too much compared to how much I usually eat, which is a lot.)

So, I’ve been a bit lazy. This week is about tapering, and I've liberally applied that theme to my life. Overall, my mood is contemplative, but I’m not really focusing on the race, except when someone asks me, “Are you ready for the half marathon?” I don’t know. We’ll find out on Sunday.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's MADNESS

I like to waste time. The more time I can waste, the better. That’s why every Monday, when I receive my weekly CES e-newsletter, I read it and once in awhile, I learn something.

Take yesterday for example, I learned about “taper madness.” Taper madness basically means you lose your mind because you’re nervous prior to a race. This temporary insanity can manifest itself in any number of ways: binge shopping, mood swings, irritability, loss of appetite or increased appetite (just kidding, that’s depression), the inability to think about anything else other than the race.

So I wondered, “Am I experiencing taper madness?” I did by a totally unnecessary hat that I'll probably never wear at Target. I’m often irritable, so I’m not sure if that counts, but I do think about the race a lot.

Well, not so much the race, but “after the race.” I daydream about my life after the race quite often. Don’t get me wrong; there are many positive aspects to training. I’m sure I considered all of those aspects when I decided to take the plunge and sign up for CES. They were good reasons; I just can’t remember any of them.

What I do remember is drinking after work on Fridays pre-Saturday morning training. Sweet, sweet alcohol. There’s something about a Friday afternoon happy hour that is just so… happy. I haven’t had a drink on a Friday afternoon in months. I miss that. And-at the risk of sounding like I have a problem-I think about it a lot.

After training is over (and I don’t have a reason to get up at 5am on Saturday morning), I’m making it my mission to bring back Friday afternoon happy hour. A girl’s gotta have a reason to live, you know…