Thursday, May 30, 2013

"And So, It Goes..."

Half Marathon #7 is in the books.

This was one of the smarter races I have ever ran. I didn't go out too fast, I didn't get sucked in to anything, I just ran my race. 
Saturday morning was cold. I think it was colder than Thunder Bay, though having the sun helped. Being the dorky loser that I am, as it is my first race not on a "racing team" since 2010, and in honor of it being 10 years since I graduated from TC West, I borrowed an old singlet from high school and wore that. I got a lot of funny looks at the start line, but after 2 years of showing up in the DRC get up I'm pretty used to that. Some of the funny looks probably were because of the socks I had on my arms as well. I don't own armwarmers, and I thought I wouldn't want sleeves the entire time, so we sacrificed a mis-matched pair of knee socks from my sister's drawer for the cause. In the end, I probably should have thrown on a long sleeve anyway because I never felt warm enough to lose the socks. Between that and the obnoxiousness that are my pink-checkerboard Elixirs, I had quite the look going on.

I had the 1:45 until about 10. Then, I started feeling horribly nauseated. I even threw up a couple times, which was really fun. However, I didn't stop running at any point (though I did slow down enough to fall pretty off pace.) The only thing that I can come up with that caused it would be my old friend, Gu. Of late, I have been bringing 3 gels with me to a half--one for before, one at roughly 4-5, then one for 9 and beyond. However, due to poor packing and trying to ration my existing stash of such product, I only brought 2. This meant I picked up a Gu from an aid station when I knew I was going to need something more. It perplexes me, because I trained for my first two halves almost exclusively on Gu, and while it upset my stomach a little it never bothered me to the point of vomiting. So, why all of a sudden did that change?
Either way, I still came through the line at 1:46:58. That is a PR by 1 minute and 43 seconds. Nothing to shake a stick at, and I am proud of it. Frustrated because I had the 1:45 and it was my own gaffe that lost it for me, but improvement is improvement.

Now, with 3 weeks and change until Grandma's, time to keep working on refining speed. Also, I'd like to get another 10+ miler in, depending on how the calendar shakes out. I know I'm past a point of being able to really build up a mileage base, but I think it would be good for my confidence to do it. Also, there's a little pressure in that a lot of my (incredibly, holy cow, WTF Fast) new coworkers will be there as well, so I'd do well to not embarrass myself there. While I'm keeping my pipe dream of sub 1:40 in the back of my mind, I'm going to be realistic about my goal, too:

The "I know I can do this" goal: beat my Bayshore time
The "If I work for it, I'd like to" goal: 1:44:anything
The "If the stars align and everything is perfect that day, I'd like to" goal: 1:42

Here goes...

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

"Take a Deep Breath and Walk Through the Doors, It's the Morning of Your Very First Day"

I know, I lose about 50 adult points for my T.Swift quoting there. Oh well. That line was stuck in my head all of yesterday, so it seemed to be the most fitting for my title.


So, yesterday, the adventure began once again, as it was my first day at my new job here in Minneapolis. That was probably the least nervous I had ever been for a "first day", probably because I knew most of what I was getting in to this time. Not to say I wasn't, but compared to a lot of other first days, this was nothing.

I will say this: I have a very good feeling about this place. I can't put my finger on exactly why, but I just do.

This week there will be all about just getting me in the swing of things at the store--working the sales floor, learning their computer system, figuring out the basic day to day of how they operate. I was able to jump right back in on the whole "selling someone shoes" game, just 15 short minutes in to day 1. (I did have to quickly learn about some new shoes that DRC didn't carry, and on others I thanked myself for reading catalogs during slow times up there.) We had someone call in yesterday, too, so the fact that the new girl already knew shoes and just needed help on the first few register moments was really appreciated, and they let me know that.
What was also a huge, "Hey, you've got this" boost was having a sales rep friend of mine that I knew from the DRC days be one of the first people through the door yesterday. As I stood there devolving in to a "This is all new, what do I do?" pile of derp, he reminded me of where I was coming from and what I did there, and encouraged the new GM to just let me jump right in. Plus, just having a familiar face around for the first hour was super, super helpful, even if it was just a coincidence that he happened to stop by the shop that day. (So, Joey--if you happen to stumble upon this--thanks!)

So, 2 more days there this week. Then, right after we're both off work tomorrow, Brandon and I will make part 1 of the journey back to TC for Bayshore. It has me a bit nervous because the sleep you get 2 nights before a race is supposed to be the most important, and it's going to be a late night and early morning. It is, however, the better of our options, which would be to knock it all out in one go Thursday night and get in at about 6AM Friday, or wait and knock it all out on Friday, getting in who knows when and being stiff as a board from all that sitting. No, even with the short night, this is the best option. Plus, it gives me more time in TC with the family. That has me so excited--this whole "waiting 5 months between seeing my family" game I have to keep playing is getting so old. I miss them and it's hard being this far away. Maybe the move and closer access to the MSP airport will mean more flight trips back? I can only hope...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Whoa, Look What I Found...

Well--hi, there!

Once again, I have left writing in this thing to the back burner and set it aside for an extended stretch of time. Now, it is 5 months after my last entry, and to say things have changed is, well, a large understatement.

Let's get caught up then, shall we?

Part 1: "Frustrated, Inc"
The latter part of this winter was kind of an exercise in dealing with large amounts of frustration. While I liked my job, there were a lot of small things that were growing in to bigger things, and I was becoming pretty unhappy there.
Also, remember that lofty mileage goal I had set? I wasn't even close to hitting any of those numbers. It was plain and simple lack of motivation. The work unhappiness was spilling over in to that part of my life, and even though I tried really, really hard to keep the fact I worked in running specialty from spilling over in to my own personal running, it was starting to happen.
That said, I was biking a lot, and starting to do other strength training, so I wasn't losing a ton of fitness, but I knew I needed something else. So, I put my name in the hat again for the Garry Bjorklund in hopes that a second half on the docket might help, even if a part of me was hoping I wouldn't get in. Just like the year before, I couldn't fall asleep that night. I tried to lay there and just rest, but knowing the email was already in my inbox was causing my head to spin and spin. At 3AM, I gave in and went to check.
Well, there it was. I was in, and staring down the barrel of another crazy Grandma's weekend. Little did I know...

Part 2: "Impossible Things are Happening Every Day..."
The next day at work, my boss wanted to talk to me. He looked a little rattled, and immediately I was concerned it was bad news. It was, kind of, but for him. It was great news for me: One of our shoe companies was looking for a new tech rep, and they were interested in me.
Me. What? Since when am I qualified for something like that? I'm a small shop manager and a barely-average runner. Since when are people like me up for jobs like that?
Once my head stopped spinning, I talked to Brandon and my family, and we all agreed it was something I should pursue, especially considering my bosses were on my side and promised me either way I'd still have a job. After speaking with the sales rep, who I had already befriended, we got the ball rolling, and a week later I was headed to Minneapolis (in a blizzard, no less) to have the first interview with two company higher ups. The interview went well, and I was very, very hopeful.
However, the job would mean one thing: relocation. Specifically, to the Twin Cities. We knew we wanted to get there eventually, but we were still a few years out from heading that way. Were we up to moving sooner than we planned?
After talking it out, Brandon decided to put out feelers for a job. He, too, was approached by a company out of the Cities. Within a week, he contacted them, interviewed, and was hired. During that time, I had a second interview, and found out I got a third. Yes, now I was at three interviews in a month's time with no direct yes or no, and I now had the pressure of a spouse with an offer. Suddenly, the roles had shifted back to the usual "He has a job and she's along for the ride", rather than the opposite situation we had been expecting. What was going to happen, and what was I going to do?

Part 3: "What Hurts The Most, Was Being So Close..."
Interview number 3 came and went, and after I had a fourth, I learned that was it. The next time I'd hear from them, it would either be the offer or the "Thanks for playing" notice. I had two weeks to chew on it, imagining every possible outcome, good or bad.
During that 2 weeks, after much talking it out and thought, Brandon and I decided that the offer he was getting from his new company was too good to not accept. Whether or not I got the gig, we were going. We found a place, put in notices, and started getting things going for the move, all the while having our fingers crossed.
With just over a week to go before we left Duluth, and just about to head to Kansas City for a trip we had planned last winter, I finally got the answer. It wasn't the one I had hoped for. After 2 months, 4 interviews, and a lot of hoping, I was informed via e-mail that I did not get the job. How would I describe how I felt? Crushed. Terrified. Humiliated. Devastated. I just felt like a failure. Even now, a month later, writing about it again is bringing back that chest tightness and choked up feeling. Adding insult to injury, I was greeted at the door when I got home by Brandon with news on how I could file for unemployment. Yes, I know he was just trying to help. I'm not even going to touch the politics of benefits. A lot of that played in to the NMU/Tech dynamic of our relationship--The Tech grad had his job, and once again I was the unemployed NMU grad who didn't get her job. Having the first thing out of his mouth be about filing for unemployment just felt like a combination kick in the chest and knife in the ribs. It hurt.
I gave myself the evening to mope, mourn, and cry. I knew if I didn't just let myself feel it right away, it would end up being worse when it happened later.
Part 4: "I'm Moving On..."
On May 1, I finished my final shift at the store. My co-workers and friends were great, and sent me off with a lot of love, support, and celebration. It was hard to be surrounded by all that happiness when I was so torn up inside. I would love to tell you I handled all this with grace and positivity, but I struggled. I cried a lot, including at my exit interview. Walking away from my first "real" job, from a city that finally felt like home, from my first sense of security since I left home in 2003 and in to the unknown wrecked me inside. Even if I hadn't always been happy there, even if just as recently as 2 months prior I was wondering if I could take much more at work, and even with the constant reminder that I was heading to somewhere that offered more opportunity, leaving the security of the known and leaving a situation in which I was finally secure and contributing was terrifying.  I was constantly teetering on the verge of a meltdown, and I was really, really depressed. All I could do, though, was keep on keeping on, start looking for another job, and just move forward.
Part 5: "A New Day Has Come..."
May 4, we arrived in Minneapolis, and began getting settled. Naturally, one of the first things I did was find a running group, and I found one near our new place. Brandon and I went to a Tuesday night run, where I met another former DRC staff member and his wife. He told me that the store hosting the run was hiring and that I would stand a pretty good shot with my experience. I was hesitant about being at another store--maybe not getting the Tech rep gig was a sign that I needed to be done with the industry? I had put out applications for various secretary and receptionist jobs, but all it took was going to the Twin Cities 1 Mile to show me where I needed to be. It was the first time in years I was at a race in which I was neither running, volunteering, coordinating, or sponsoring. It felt weird and wrong. I wanted to be involved. I wanted to be a part of it again.
The next day, I sent them and another running store my resume. By the end of the weekend, I had interviews at both. By the end of the week, I also had offers from both. I accepted the offer from the store where I went to the group run, and tomorrow will be my first day. While the details aren't finalized yet, it will be very similar to what I was doing in Duluth.
It's funny. This chapter of uncertainty is coming to an end, but a new chapter is just beginning. So far, financial and employment worries aside, our first two weeks in Minneapolis have been great. We are in a wonderful neighborhood, right near a lot of parks and paths. Everyone has been friendly and welcoming. Even though I cursed the whole circumstance in moments of unhappiness, I think coming here was a very, very good thing for us.

So, that's what has been happening. Now, we have one big thing on the immediate horizon:
Here's hoping half marathon #7 is indeed lucky.
Here's also hoping I will also consistently write here. 
Here's hoping and here goes...

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