Monday, May 31, 2010

ice, ice baby...

I feel like I have an excuse for everything violin related at the moment. Oh I was sick for three days. My fingers got smashed. And now I think I've bruised one of my fingers. It sounds small, but I can tell you from experience it's not a lot of fun. I got halfway through one of my pieces Saturday and started noticing my second finger was not happy when it touched the violin. Currently I'm typing this with one hand while icing the offending finger. I thought it was getting better yesterday and re-scheduled my lesson from today to Tuesday morning. Now, well the stupid finger hurts more now than it did all day yesterday. It's super sensitive every time I touch something or even brush it against anything. I'm tired of making excuses for myself. It has overshadowed my awesome 20 mile bike ride from Sunday, and my first attempt at mile repeats this morning (and you will think I'm crazy for saying I enjoyed them despite how hard they are!). It stinks that this just keeps happening right when things are going really well with my lessons. Yet again I have had to stop playing. Frankly it's just as bad if not worse than not being able to run. I swear I'm not accident prone (although my teacher my argue with that one). So, it looks like I might be canceling my lesson, which stinks! I'll just need to work on getting everything else on the to do list done...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Catching up

Um, so it's been a while since I've written. Yeah, sorry about that. Things have been a little crazy...
  • The front window in my bedroom is being replaced. I'm currently sleeping in one room, and getting everything I need out of my room. Tuesday I moved furniture since they ordered the wrong type of window, which can't be returned so that I would have access to a window that does open & close in case of an emergency. Then they decided to trim out the other window the same as the new and I had to move things all over again...
  • The room I'm sleep in doesn't have a 3 prong grounded outlet for my computer. I do have internet, which is more than I can say for my bedroom when I climb over everything to plug it in (I have a powerbook G4 laptop) and actually try to get to what I need to get to done. So, I either have internet, or a plug...
  • I was helping my mom trim our neighbors tree on Thursday. It's growing into the roof of our house and has a vine growing up that's trying to take over. I pulled the tree over to the window so she could trim it, and she proceed to smash 3 of my left fingers while trying to get to a branch. She ran off to get ice leaving me stuck (my shirt had gotten caught in the window, and I could get the grabber I was using out of the tree) with ants climbing all over my right arm. So now I have three smashed fingers and some ant bites...
  • I still have about 20 pages of music to memorize. My teacher thinks it's great that I have more time to practice except that I had to move furniture all day on Tuesday, and now have 3 smashed fingers that still bother me when I play. I think out of the 20 pages I have 4 memorized. This is going to take a while...
The good news is that I can run again!! And I'm pretty excited to go biking with some friends Sunday morning. I got my bike checked out, fixed, and adjusted (the seat was about an inch too high) during the week. Plus I went and played with shoes at the Big Peach Running Co Thursday morning, and have some awesome new bath salts for post long run soaks! Lots to share once I get everything working. Now I just need the painters to come do their job so my room can have blinds and curtains again... Fingers crossed for Tuesday!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

germs, germs, and more germs

 I feel like I am always saying I'm sick. It all started a week before the 2009 Nike Women's Marathon. Enter cold number one. 8 months later I am still battling germs. I feel like I've had at least one cold a month. It just never stops. Part of the problem is probably the fact that my students walk in for their violin lesson and then cough all over me. Despite the large can of Lysol that sits in my studio the germs just keep winning. Maybe it's my body's way of telling me it's time to slow down.

When I walked out of the house yesterday I had every intention of doing my 10 mile long run. After 2 1/2 miles I knew that was never going to happen. I felt like I couldn't breathe, so I turned right and headed home. While there were lots of good things about the 5 mile run, but I was worried I was getting sick again. I wish I had realized before I left the house. I spent the rest of the morning coughing, which my stomach wasn't able to handle, and then a possible fever settled in. Not what I wanted. It meant taking time off from both running and my violin. My arms felt like they were made out of lead.

The good news is that after napping all morning I'm finally starting to feel better. No more fever, and no more coughing. I'm hoping that I can join the group for our 3 mile run Saturday. I'm ready to run again! Now I just need to get through 3 violin lessons this afternoon...

Monday, May 17, 2010

moving forward

Sometimes moving forward isn't always comfortable. It means going outside of that box that we've gotten so comfortable in. To get somewhere new it often requires us to stretch ourselves, and put ourselves in a situation that isn't always comfortable. For years I've struggled with playing in tune and getting a good sound out of my violin. While teachers have pointed out what was wrong, they didn't always explain how to fix it. So, I did what i thought was right. Instead of playing in tune I focused more on making sure my hand was in the right spot and comfortable and then tried to get everything in tune. The more I work with my current teacher, the more I discover I was wrong. In all fairness to my past teachers, many of them came from teachers who expected them to figure things out on their own. They teach the same way they were taught. Things have changed a great deal not only in violin playing, but also teaching in the last 20 years. There have been many times when I have felt slightly dumb for saying that I don't know something. I have two music degrees and there are basic techniques that I struggle with. And then something just clicked...

A couple of weeks ago I had an audition. In the two weeks leading up to the audition I was starting to get "it." It's not about being comfortable all of the time. It's about doing things right and really focusing on doing them right every time. So, I'm a bit sore at the moment, but you wouldn't believe the sound coming out of my violin. My teacher says I had my "break through" moment. I wasn't even sure how to respond to all of the nice things he said about my violin playing. The majority of my lessons through college were the exact opposite. At one point I was almost in tears after being told that my sound was beautiful. Then he told me it would feel uncomfortable and to go memorize my piece. Sure no big woop. It's only 14 pages long... I'm not a great memorizer, but if I can figure out how to make a beautiful sound, then darn it I'm going to figure out how to memorize this piece (for the record I LOVE the piece!!).

It's been four days of being a little sore (I need to relax more) and uncomfortable (goodbye old box), but I think I'm going into my next lesson with an even better sound, and 1 page memorized. Maybe he'll ask for the other piece... :-)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

And We're off!

It has been a crazy, crazy week! But out of all of the days Saturday was definitely my favorite. Not because it was Saturday and I didn't have to work (although I spent the afternoon practicing, e-mailing, and calling on work related stuff), but because of a morning full of Team in Training awesomeness!

The Chicago support staff @kick-off Mob style
Andy, myself, Julie, and our coach Cruger

Saturday was the first group training session (GTS) for the Chicago team. I've only been looking forward to this since March when I got the e-mail saying I had been chosen to be a mentor. So, to say I had a nervously, excited tummy that morning was an understatement. It was doing cartwheels. After a coaches clinic overview of helpful nuggets of information ("cotton is rotten!") we went out for a 3 mile run. Who turned the humidity switch to on? And who said that it was okay? I was dripping by the time I got back. I had merrily bounced around to various runners on the team. I started with the faster group and kept them on the course since none of them had gotten a map, and then switched to some of the newer runners.

But my favorite part of the morning came later. As some of you may or may not know the Country Music Marathon pulled runners of the course because of tornado warnings the day of the race. That meant that not one of our Georgia Team in Training runners got to complete the marathon. They all got medals and times for whatever distance they completed, and took what had happened in stride. Enter the wonderful staff of TNT. While some of the runners were trying without success to find a marathon the TNT staff noticed that there was a 20 mile run scheduled for this weekend. Then the brilliant idea of adding another 6.2 miles for the CMM team started. And we all got to cheer them along. Granted it wasn't the best weather. No one really wants to run 26.2 miles in 70+ degree heat and extremely high humidity, but they did it. It wasn't easy for them, but no one left until they were all done. Some ran the last 6 miles with them, others stood at spots towards the end to help run people in. It was an amazing sight. I get teary eyed looking at the pictures every time. It was truely a great moment, and a fabulous way to kick off the season! I love spending time with my Team in Training family!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Newton Running Shoes: 1st impressions

A few weeks back I was in Savannah for a performance. I went for my usually Saturday run and explored parts of the city. The further I ran the more I started to notice that I was having trouble landing mid foot. It was frustrating. The more I thought about it, and the more I talked to other runners on dailymile and twitter the more I realized that my shoes were getting in the way. Don't get me wrong, I loved my Mizunos, but something just wasn't right. So, that weekend in Savannah I decided that I would finally try out a pair of Newton Running shoes. It never hurts to try.

Fortunately there are a couple of stores in Atlanta that carry Newton Running Shoes (this sadly does not include my favorite Big Peach), so I was able to actually go to a store, get fitted, and actually try the shoes out before buying them. I couldn't believe how light they were! Seriously, I felt like I was bouncing around the parking lot as I was testing them out. I could tell that they were much different than my Mizunos, and I knew that it meant paying much more attention to how I land when I run. After much debate about what size I needed I walked out with a pair of 10 1/2s. Normally I wear 10s, and the couple of times that I've worn 10 1/2s didn't go well (1st time I tripped over my own feet and busted my chin. 2nd time I had knee problems from the shoe's being too big). They assured me that Newtons run small and that it wouldn't be a problem. So, two days later I took them out for a test run and knew instantly that the 10 1/2s were a big problem. I felt like I was running on a slip-n-slide. While I was having an easy time of landing on mid-foot my feet were slipping all over the place inside the shoes no matter how tight I tied them. The store said that I could return them if I didn't like them, so I headed over the next day to see if I could exchange them for a pair of size 10s. They took them right back and handed me a pair of 10s no questions asked! Score!

It's taken some adjusting, but I've been running in the Newtons for a couple of weeks now. For those who aren't familiar with Newton running shoes they have a lowered heel, and have more cushioning on the fore-foot (they call them "lugs") to promote a fore-foot strike. While I was looking at the shoes someone argued that they force your foot to land a certain way. Trust me, they don't "force" my foot to do anything. My foot can do whatever it wants, and does! I can certainly tell that I'm getting stronger each time I wear them. The more I wear them the more my pronation problems go away, but I have to slowly work them into longer runs. I think I wore them too much last week, and my knee started bothering me a little. go back and forth between the Newtons and my Mizunos is causing a little bit of a problem. Now I notice just how heavy my Mizunos are and how raised the heel is. It's driving me nuts, but I know I'm not ready to do all of my runs in the Newtons.

 I have a lot of respect for the Newtons. Are they the shoe for me? To be honest, I'm still not sure. I find them very interesting, and I can definitely tell that the switch to a shoe that lets me land on my fore-foot is helping! I like than they are low on my ankle, and that foot doesn't feel encased in the shoe. They breathe really well (I can see my feet through the mesh :)), and the toe box is wider than my Mizunos so there is plenty of room for my toes to spread a bit when I land. I have to be very focused when I run though. Do not assume that you will always land where you want when you run. If there is one thing I've learned from my violin playing that carries into running it's that you have to stay focused on what you want to accomplish in order for it to happen. Just tuning out is where things can go astray. I'm looking forward to running in them again this weekend (I took a little break this week). So far the first impression is favorable, although to truefully answer what I think about the Newtons is going to take more time, and more runs, which I'm looking forward to!

Monday, May 10, 2010


I am a schedule person. I get up at the same time 5 days a week, practice at the same time everyday, and teach lessons during certain hours. I like order. So, if you give me a schedule that says run four days a week that's what I'm going to do (and clearly I love having a running schedule). But this week I tried something different. I didn't start out to only run 3 days this week, but because of the weather that's what happened, and I have to say I'm kind of intrigued by the idea. I feel like I have a ton of energy (there's a new idea), and that I'm look forward to my runs even more than I already was. So here's what I'm going to try for at least a couple of weeks:
  • Monday - speed work. It rotates between tempo runs, 400 yard, and 800 yard speed intervals (this morning it was 7x400)
  • Tuesday - cross train and strength train
  • Wednesday - run (it will be my long run for a little while)
  • Thursday - cross train and strength train
  • Friday - the holy day of rest
  • Saturday - Team in Training group run (affectionately know as GTS)
  • Sunday - cross train and strength train
This morning's run was awesome! It was getting harder to recover on the last couple of intervals, but even after the mile I had to run to get home after I finished I felt like I had tons of energy, and could keep going (maybe I need to push more on the intervals). Plus I'm excited to put some yoga back into the routine. Yesterday's 60 minute yoga workout kicked my rear a little, but I got all the way through it, which is something I've struggled with on this particular yoga workout (it's yoga for runners. a combination on strengthing poses and flexibilty). I can feel that I'm getting stronger, and I'm pretty excited about it! Plus tomorrow is fall season kick-off for Team in Training, which means this morning was officialy my first workout towards the Chicago marathon! So excited!

Maybe you could help me get started on the way to my goal:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Right around the corner

Do you ever have that feeling when you just know something big is coming? You don't know what it is, or when it will come, but you know something is on the way. I've had that feeling since Wednesday after my audition. I don't know what it is. I don't have anything planned, but I just feel like something is coming that's going to make a huge difference. I have that feeling while I'm running these days too. Like something is about to sneak up on me.

So, I'm doing my best to get ready for whatever "it" is. My teacher and I had a great talk at my lesson Monday. He assured me that while there are still things to work on that I'm on the right track, and I am good enough to be a professional violinist (this is something I've struggle a lot with over the past year). He found out some things about the audition committee from my audition last Wednesday that made him really angry. Needless to say, I will no longer be doing that audition. I am starting to look for other auditions in the region while I continue to work out some of the kinks I have in my technique. There's no time like the present to get better!

I'm going through the same thing with my running. I had a fabulous time running the Big Peach 5k this past Saturday despite coming off a cold. It was a new 5k PR (26:55), which placed me 14th for my age group and an average pace of 8:30 per mile. Um, yeah didn't know I could run 3 miles on hills that fast. I got lots of great feed back from my Team in Training coaches, and I really feel like I'm on the right track with my running, which is really awesome since training for the Chicago Marathon starts next Tuesday!!!! Hurray!

Some of my fabulous Team in Training friends
Katie, Elizabeth, myself, and Lori

A race photo where I look like I'm running!!
(sorry about the super white limbs, I'm a morning runner...)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Message Monday

Are there days were you feel like you're not worth anything? Or days that you just don't feel beautiful? We've all been there to some degree or another. Last summer when I was a bit down I came across a website that made me smile. It's called Operation Beautiful, and it's mission is simple. Leave a sticky note somewhere telling someone they are beautiful. Society today puts so much pressure on outward apperances. Beautiful hair, face, and clothes. But what's inside is just as beautiful as what is outside. In fact it's easier to have outward beauty when you have a strong inner beauty. And who wouldn't love to come across a note telling you that you are beautiful?

And then my twitter friend Debbie had a fabulous idea, message Monday. So, we've decided to start an operation beautiful mission twitter style. With our profile pictures. You don't have to be on twitter to do it. Maybe you could leave a note somewhere or change your facebook photo. The point is to let everyone know how beautiful they are just the way they are. You don't have to change a thing!