Good golly, it’s been a while.

Hi!

Apparently December is a busy month for me. What with the end of classes, final projects to grade, dissertation meetings, and oh, the holidays and all that entails, I guess it makes sense that I’ve found myself occupied for the last three weeks. But still. I feel… unwritten. Fear not, I fix all of that today, before I embark on the Great Holiday Travels of 2012 ™.

So what have I been up to? Here goes nothing:

First week of the month: I ran 11 miles and played paintball in the same day. I’m glad I did it in that order, and not the reverse, because being shot on the outer thigh above the knee hurts like a bitch (and I still have the fading bruise to prove it!). It also hurts like a bitch when you run 4 miles on it the next day. That said, paintball was still ridiculously fun, and if it were not so expensive I might be inclined to do it more often.

I was pleased to watch the Redskins win another game.

Classes ended, and thus my teaching for the semester ended. My students handed in their final projects, most of which were awesome and were great reminders of why I love teaching. I brought them donuts and coffee, which I suspect may have somewhat skewed their evaluations of me towards the positive.

I kept hearing reports of people being done with their Christmas shopping. I started making haphazard lists of what I thought I might maybe eventually be ordering online for some people.

I kept running. The Streak continued.

Second week of the month: I ran a 10-miler – my first one, actually, so automatic PR! – with a friend, down in the same beach city where I’ll be running my next half-marathon, in March. “Beach city” should tell you that this is flat country, and it most definitely is; I ran there back in May when Saint was there for a volleyball tournament, and the folks I ran with convinced me to sign up for that half-marathon and this 10-miler. It was Santa-themed, and sponsored by Sam Adams, so there was an explosion of red and green outfits and tasty post-race beer. I left my watch at home for a race for the first time ever, since I wanted to just take it easy and enjoy the run and enjoy hanging out with my friend, all of which I most definitely accomplished. I ran this race in 1:59, which is slow for me, but I was honestly having such a good time that that number doesn’t even matter. We grabbed lunch and walked around for a bit, and then I went to go celebrate Saint’s birthday with him in his hometown.

The next day, I ran another 10-miler in his hometown (which is not flat but not hilly either, at least by my standards; it’s where I ran the marathon in November), at the pace I would have done the race had I been by myself and giving a shit. I did it in 1:43, with which I was quite pleased, which means I can knock it down to 1:35 if I try hard enough. When I’m going to race another 10-miler is a different question, since the one that’s in my little city in March – which I’ve been dying to run FOREVER but is always on a weekend I can’t do it, and this year is no exception since it’s the day before my half in March, and I am going to go for a PR at this half so I need the rest day beforehand, so I’ve resigned myself to volunteering at the race instead, but ARGH! – deep breath! – isn’t going to happen. Whew. Sorry about that.

I watched the Redskins win again, clutching Saint by the arm for most of the time. Hey, a girl could get used to those things… 🙂

I thought about Christmas shopping. Then I didn’t do any of it. I started freaking out quite a bit about this, and then resolved to fix it, and mentally punch in the mouth anyone I overheard saying they’d been done for three weeks.

Since there were no classes, I worked, met with my advisor, and kept running. The Streak continued, though my hamstrings started aching more than usual. (Uh-oh: The Twinge.)

Third week of the month: I started it with one of the things I treasure the most, especially at this time of year: a weekend entirely to myself, without too many obligations. I left Friday (this is the 14th, and no, don’t ask me why the third week of the month starts on a Friday) for the bulk of the Christmas shopping, which I’d realized I couldn’t entirely do online, and got half of it done. I also bought myself a much, much, much-needed new pair of kicks; I’d been running in the Saucony ProGrid Guide 5, and they just discontinued them in favor of the upgraded Guide 6, which I didn’t realize until the running-store clerk brought out two boxes from the back and said “They upgraded your shoes, so now you have  a color choice”. One was a blue and silver and purple combination similar to what I’d been wearing, and then the other one was this:

https://twitter.com/rusalkat/status/280816893655404544/photo/1

Have I mentioned that I’m a Redskins fan? 🙂 Yeah, that was a no-brainer. Sweet.

Later that night I went out with friends and was out too late and had too many beers, so I did not make my Saturday morning wake-up call for the 12 miles I’d decided on for the morning. I woke back up closer to 10am (I never, ever sleep that late, so that tells you how bad I am at drinking more than 3 beers and staying out until 1am) and immediately decided to switch the order of things for the day: Rest of Christmas shopping first, run second. That turned out to be a brilliant plan, and even though I felt like crap for the first several bits of the run – I’m not used to running at 2pm, one, and I simply hadn’t eaten enough because I was out shopping longer than I’d expected and without enough snacks, two – I still managed to pull off 12 miles in 2:03 and feel pretty awesome by the end. You’ll recall that two weeks prior, I ran 10 miles in 1:59. Apparently this whole running-streak thing has been really helpful for my pace; my long runs now seem to get run at what used to be my race pace – this 12-miler was done at a 10:17/mile pace, which is even faster than I ran my first half earlier this year – and I now have no problems holding a 9:00/mile pace for more than 4-5 miles, AND I have to force myself to go as slow as an 11:00/mile or 11:30/mile pace. This is awesome.

And yet: I am stretching and stretching and icy-hotting as much as I can and I still feel The Hamstring Twinge. I have this completely rational fear that I’ve strained one or both of them, but I hope that switching shoes and continuing to stretch and icy-hot them will help it go away. Disclaimer: I know that icy-hot masks pain and does not cure it, but if I can’t feel it, there’s no injury, right? (This is probably really bad thinking. Go ahead and fuss at me!) The logical thing for me to do would be to take next week off and rest, but… but… The Stupid Streak, dammit. I’m too stubborn to give up on it, because I feel like that would be disappointing myself. I’m doing enough of a mix of easy and hard runs that I never feel like I need to stop or that I’ve overdone a run, and I’ve told myself that if I feel bad on a given day, then I’ll run just one mile that day to keep The Streak alive. Which is stupid, probably, but damnit, I ran my first 40-mile week ever in this week and felt awesome by the end of it and I really love how I’m getting incrementally faster.

Arrrrrgh.

Later that day, I finished the rest of my Christmas shopping, online, and wondered what all the fuss was about when I was able to get everything taken care of in about 48 hours. I also finally watched “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” for the first – and not the last! – time this season.

Aaaaaaand fun! I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my colonoscopy by spending 15 hours (no, that is not a typo) baking 11 varieties of cookies plus 1 batch of bars with two friends. Next year we will have more than 2 baking sheets to go around, as I suspect that was the major culprit in the absurd amount of time we had to spend on this project. But, everything we made came out awesome, and I can’t wait to give what I made as gifts (it’s a good thing no one in Saint’s family is diabetic).

I was more than pleased to peripherally watch the Redskins win again. They’ve become part of the conversations people are having that contain the word “playoffs”, which a month ago was nearly unthinkable. I love this team so much (and I realize I’ve just doomed them to lose their last two games).

When all of the online-ordered gifts arrived, I wrapped them, and found myself utterly and completely prepared for Christmas a full six days before the fact. Woohoo!

I watched a lot of bad Christmas movies on both Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel. I know they’re bad, and yet – and YET! – they make me choke up every damn time. Ugh.

I have been working, and re-reading two of my favorite Christmas books: Tinsel, which is non-fiction by the hilarious Hank Stuever, and Hugo and Josephine, which is a fiction, children’s book by Maria Gripe.

I have been pleased to welcome the winter solstice. I love this time of year: long, dark, cold nights, the particular luster of pink during the sunrise and sunset. It’s windy as all get-out today, which reminds me of being in St Petersburg, but also does not make me look forward to the physical act of driving to where Saint is to see his family this weekend. The end result – seeing him, and okay, his folks – I look forward to, but not the getting there itself, since my car is like a matchbox in high winds. Though I will have loaded it down with enough stuff to maybe not get almost-blown off the road quite so hard.

I have still been running, even though my hamstrings continue to be Twingy. I dialed it down to a 34-mile week this week, or will have by the time I run 13 more tomorrow morning. I figure I’ll end up cutting that by two-thirds next week, because spending time with family tends to not be conducive to running.

I have remembered how much I love running in the cold.

I have, as of yesterday and today, taken my first runs in my new kicks. I LOVE them unabashedly. My feet do, too.

Fourth week of the month: Starts today! I will be traveling, and Christmasing, and running, and baking (my pumpkin pie has been requested for Christmas dessert, and I am finally ready to face an oven after a week away from one), and hanging out with kids, and seeing tacky light displays, and drinking beer, and relaxing, and run-Streaking.

And it will be good.

How has your month been?

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