2013 was full of more love, triumph and running than any other year before it. At the beginning of the year, I was about to leave my first (and probably last) ever corporate job to start working at a local hospital. After only a few months, I left that job to bartend and freelance.
As a beginning bartender, the hours and fluctuating pay have been challenging, but knowing I don’t have to keep office hours can be its own reward. Technique-wise, it’s been so fun to begin mastering the basics and working towards a deeper understanding of the foundations and science that underpin it. However, the combined time constraints of Adam’s and my work often mean that we can go days without seeing each other for more than five minutes. During this upcoming year, I will set my priorities and honor them as such.
I also began treating my writing like a business and building it accordingly. This approach has expanded my market significantly and given me a bit of financial wiggle room. Connections within my network have afforded an online column for mental_floss, pieces for a gorgeous wedding magazine and a continued relationship with my first freelance client. In 2014, I’ll build my market and marketable (writing) skill set even further.
This year also marked the start of my journey to become a runner. It hasn’t been easy or extremely consistent, but it’s consistently demonstrated the necessity of exercise. I haven’t been blogging much about writing or running recently because I had too much material. Once that had passed, I didn’t have enough so I stayed away. That changes in 2014. Instead of trying to continue a breakneck pace of personal blogging, I’m cutting back.
Each week, I will be posting twice: one Cocktail of the Week post and one running or writing post. Two posts each week will provide a stable schedule (hopefully) without giving me an excuse to skip runs. 2014 looks different than any previous year, but it looks pretty nice from here. Bring it on, 2014. Bring it on.
See? I have all that I need.
It’s come to my attention that I’m hard to shop for. Personally, I think my interests are pretty straightforward, but if I need something, I’m not going to wait for a holiday. If I can afford it, I’m likely to buy it immediately. So, here’s a list of the nonessentials I’ve got my eye on right now by category of interest:
- For running, I’m looking out for deals on GPS watches and extra pairs of running tights and headbands. Though I haven’t been the best at keeping up with running during the deadline crunch, it’d be good to stock up for the cooler months to come.
- Writing-wise, I need to update my business casual wardrobe. Some of the pieces in it were purchased when I was a completely different shape. Since I’m cheap and hate shopping, it’ll probably be a while before this need is met.
- Though I get a lot of practice bartending while I’m on shift, I should probably stock my home bar. After purchasing a mixing spoon and shaker tins of my own, I’m getting closer, but I need to also stock vermouth, fruit, syrups, strainers, bitters and rum. My wishlist is also full of bartending books: Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology, David Wondrich’s Punch! and Imbibe!, David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, to name a few.
Let’s be honest: I’m probably not going to leave my couch today. I don’t like the concept or execution of Black Friday and therefore will not be participating if I can avoid it. I hope your Black Friday is similarly relaxing!
Photo credit to Mary Katherine Morris Photography
Outside of blogging personally, I maintain a laser focus on my goals. I’m pretty damn good at managing my time and resources and forming connections with interesting, diverse people. On here, though, I’ve held on to the idea that I could write whatever I wanted whenever I wanted and use this website as a personal portfolio.
Once I formulated a set editorial schedule, I started working past my mental blocks and got in a blogging routine. It didn’t evolve how I thought it would, but it evolved into my writing about topics I care about deeply and talk about often. With that in mind, I’ve put together a kind of manifesto of my intentions for this blog:
This blog is a record of my journey as a writer, runner and bartender. It will be an honest accounting of my life, even when the truth is uncomfortable. It’s my place to show kindness and love for others, to strive to be a better person and to learn everything I can that will add value to my life. It will also accurately showcase my talents as a writer — even when I’m so busy I want to get off my schedule. Lastly, it will continue to serve as a point of connection with other amazingly talented writers in the community.
As I keep saying, I can’t wait to see what other connections writing will add to my life. After two years of wonderful things, it can only get better from here.
As I’ve started running, you’ve become extremely helpful in powering through every single run. Through this process, you’ve endured inconsistent exercise, worn out shoes and long days to keep me upright. When I first saw that you’d become defined, I thought I’d worn a dent in my legs from leaning against wells while bartending.
You were my first proof that running has changed my body, and that I’m stronger than I’ve ever been. Don’t get jealous that I’ve resumed weight training — I’d like for the rest of my body to match your strength and definition. As I keep running, it will help prevent injury and also relax the rest of me.
Please continue to be nice when I break out the foam roller. Unlike some of your comrades (cough cough IT band), you don’t regularly cause me agonizing pain on the torture wheel. It’s a relatively new development, I know, but it’ll be good for the both of us, OK?
Unless you develop to a freakish size, I’m really looking forward to showing you off next Spring. I’ve got several pairs of shorts that will flaunt your angled beauty, so don’t get too crazy, mmkay? My clothing budget’s currently nonexistent and I can’t really spring for much of anything. While you’re at it, tell the rest of your comrades the same thing. I’m already tiring of baggy winter clothing, and I don’t want to find the same thing when it warms up.
Today’s #bloglikecrazy topic was to celebrate a part of my body. I chose my quads — that’s not too weird, right?
After attending a running form clinic, I was informed that I was “caught in the marathon shuffle.” My knees weren’t driving forward much at all, and the rest of my body was compensating. As a result, I burn more energy than necessary and am not building strength or endurance effectively. The report from the clinic also outlined ways to start changing my stride, and I found that many items were applicable in both running and writing.
- One step at a time. It’s difficult to focus on more than one thing at a time while you’re running, so consciously work to change one aspect of your form at a time. For writing, choose one stylistic element to tweak whether it’s your diction, syntax or grammar. The tiny changes will add up.
- Be mindful. Your body and writing won’t stand up well to abuse. Work towards change; don’t try to force it all at once. You’re liable to get burned out and/or injured.
- Research experts’ advice. Just like in writing, you have to research authors’ credentials and backgrounds. Their information will inform how you treat your body or body of work, so choose and implement information only from trusted sources.
- Don’t fight it. Yes, you’re trying to change ingrained behavior patterns. No, it’s not going to be particularly easy. Change happens, and with some direction on your part, it can ensure better results.
- Uncomfortable is normal, overwhelming pain is not. Running through minor pain and cramping is par for the course. If the pain gets unbearable or overwhelming, slow down. You’ll be out of the game longer with a compound injury than you would if you slow your training. Likewise, writing in new areas can expand your boundaries as an author, but if an article topic makes you downright uncomfortable, it might not be a good fit. Your emotional health is more important.
Last Sunday’s three miler was my first run in the rain. Coupled with temperate temperatures, the rain added an element of whimsy and fun to my long run. Watch out, world. I’ve just uncovered a socially acceptable way to play in the rain as an adult.
On a more serious note, I got lucky. The sun set around the two mile mark, and despite the wet and my clumsiness, I didn’t fall or twist a joint or run into any long-hanging branches. My steps were sure, and I was still comfortable afterwards. Adam and I had started our respective runs at the same time, and I finished shortly after he did.
I also ran the last mile too fast. The rain made me feel unstoppable and a little giddy, so I went a little faster. It also reminded me that I don’t suck at running and that even longer runs can be pleasant. After two weeks of plodding through fairly uncomfortable bouts with exercise, it was really refreshing to feel comfortable and confident in my physical abilities.
As a result, I’ve had a pretty good week for running so far, but I want to stay positive. I’m also going to start gradually adding in weight training again to make sure that my entire body gets stronger, not just my legs. If it follows the pattern it has in the past, it should also help relax my shoulders and upper back — areas where I carry most of my stress.
For the first time in a while, I’m excited and actively planning to exercise. My calendar is filling up with reminders to exercise and the distance or workout that I need to complete. It’s also starting to feel like more of a reward for doing good work with writing and bartending rather than an obligation, and for that, I couldn’t be happier.
Today’s title is a play on “Singing in the Rain.” Since I often sing and dance along to my music while I run, I thought it was only appropriate.
They’re kinda ugly. I like them.
Last week, I took advantage of a sale at a local running shop and scooped up a pair of new kicks. After nine months of using the same tennis shoes for both exercise and work, it was past time. While I was barbacking, I found that I was walking more than four miles a night when we were busy. Combined with about five miles of running, I was logging 18-20 miles on the shoes every week.
It’s not surprising, then, that they started bottoming out six months later. As they wore down, my knee pain increased and my ability to run through it wore down. After a week of too much activity in general, my body doesn’t handle physical activity well. It’s not healthy, and I tend to crash for at least one day each week. The result?
I haven’t been running on a regular basis because of the residual pain and fatigue, so I haven’t built up the energy or physical addiction to running. Without these incentives, it’s much more difficult to run, and a viscous cycle continues.
To give myself an incentive to run, I got those new shoes. Though it was only went a mile, my first run in them was virtually pain free. I’m going out today to get some super sexy restaurant/medical clogs for my bartending shifts to ease the wear on both my shoes and my legs. I’m also going running again for longer time- and distance-wise.
As my dad says, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Getting into distance running is the same way — it will never be possible for me to run a half marathon if I don’t run for shorter spells now. Food, hydration and other elements necessary to running regularly will follow. Once a regular routine is established in each of these areas, I’ll be just about unstoppable.
It all began with those new shoes. They might not actually have magical properties, but they’re still shiny and I’m not accustomed to seeing them on my feet. Hopefully that will be enough to keep me on my toes.