giving up birthday cake and other things that make me happy

Our mostly paleo challenge was supposed to be easy because it involves me eating mostly the way I already ate. Except this way is more fun. It would have probably just ended up being me and L texting each other whenever we ate something obviously not paleo. Which is something else we already do. But then Kate got involved and suddenly there were spreadsheets, and we all wrote down our own set of rules, and other people got onboard.

And now everyone else is going to know if I cheat. I guess that’s the point, but really, my paleo challenge wasn’t supposed to be this CHALLENGING.

On DAY ONE, there was birthday cake. I mean, there’s always food in the office, and it’s not usually the paleo-approved variety, but there are only so many birthdays to celebrate in a year when you work for a small company. Why did one of them have to be on the very first day of my 60 days of healthy eating? I didn’t want to seem like I was anti birthdays or anything, especially not after I made such a fuss about my birthday. So I hung out while everybody else was eating cake and  tried not to be too obvious about the fact that I was sniffing their food.

At work, we have, somewhat unkindly, nicknamed the new guy Snuggles. (I know this seems like a sudden topic change now, but it will make sense in a minute.) Good thing Snuggles is a pretty good sport, because he has to put up with a lot of nonsense from the guys.

“Snuggles, you haven’t been here for 90 days yet. You should be in charge of snack time.” This is a running (and only semi-serious) suggestion that comes up a lot.

“Snuggles, go buy us some snacks!”

“Snuggles, Anna’s complaining because she didn’t bring enough food to work again. Where are those snacks you were supposed to get?”

We never expected to actually get any snacks out of him, but on the DAY TWO of my paleo challenge, Snuggles showed up with homemade pineapple salsa and lime flavored tortilla chips. What the heck? It’s like he did it on purpose because I couldn’t eat the stuff! I ate some salsa off a spoon until I got yelled at for double dipping, but it just wasn’t the same.

During spells of complaining about the food I’m not allowed to eat, I tried to enlighten the guys about our healthy eating challenge and how the point system works. It’s pretty straightforward, but some of them were a little slow on the uptake: if you eat good food for a meal, you get 2 points. If you cheat, you don’t get the 2 points AND you get -3 points for cheating.

“This doesn’t sound like a ‘healthy eating challenge,’” Josh pointed out to me the other day. “This sounds like a binge eating challenge.”

Well, we did borrow our rules from the real paleo challenge, but Josh is kind of right. I was stressed out on Friday morning, and I ate a bagel at work. Oops. It was a REALLY good bagel. In my usual haste to confess any guilty deeds, I promptly emailed Kate to tell her about my naughty-food transgression. I may have mentioned that I was contemplating eating another half a bagel.

Kate’s response: “You may as well since you’ve already got -3 points. You basically have a free pass on bagels for the rest of the morning.”

Yesss.

I ate another half a bagel. And a York Peppermint Patty. Just for good measure.

This is going to be a long 60 days.

too many things

I haven’t been writing; I’ve been too busy working on another life project every time I get on the computer. But I keep thinking of things to write about and now they’re all going to get jumbled together in one discombobulated post. Ready? Go!

1. Okay firstly, there was one of those thousand-legger bugs in my tub when I got up this morning, and those things freak me the hell out. They are so, so much worse than spiders. (Scariness increases in direct correlation to number of legs.) Although they are, unlike spiders, unable to climb out of tubs. Which is helpful, but still not really something you want to deal with 1.43 minutes after you’ve just woken up. And by deal with, I mean squash. Disgusting. But I was not going to do the whole capture-with-a-cup-and-paper thing before six AM. Plus I didn’t have any pants on, so I couldn’t go outside.

2. Dinner conversations that start out like this are the best: “You want to know about toilets? I can tell you about toilets.” I was at family dinner with one of my best friends from high school last weekend (I am lucky to have so many families), and she was complaining about a current roommate’s inability to flush the toilet properly. Her oldest brother, it transpires, is an expert on toilets and offered a full lecture on the inner workings of the toilet and how to solve your everyday issues—complete with a detailed (and most impressive) drawing. I’ve got to give him credit for hitting on the one topic that was somehow riveting to two twenty-something women AND his seven-year-old son. This doesn’t say much for my maturity level.

3. It’s the end of the fiscal year, and I’m starting to worry that everyone at my work might go a little crazy before this month is over. Today, I witnessed one of my co-workers having a full-on conversation with himself, including pacing and arm waving. He was behind a wall at the time, and I don’t think he realized I could see his reflection in the window. I should probably have offered some sort of moral support, but my brain was too fried to do anything but watch in morbid fascination.

4. My crossfit box is doing one of these official paleo eating challenges where you get points for eating well and lose points for cheating and win prizes at the end if your willpower is made of whatever kind of metal they used to build the Starship Enterprise (because I really don’t think iron would suffice in this case). But I wasn’t too interested in paying $50 to not eat certain things for two months. Then L had that idea that we should invent our own paleo challenge, which is far superior, if somewhat less effective, because we get to make up our own rules and not pay $50. Then a bunch of other people thought this sounded cool too and jumped on our rebellious bandwagon. But this topic has been eventful enough to really warrant its own blog post, so I’ll leave it at that for now.

5. I have to run 20 miles tomorrow. But I have bullied Josh into going with me this time, because I was not about to do another one of these more-than-15-milers all by myself. Also, I have purchased some SUPER caffeinated Gu—probably a poor life choice, as I have a minimal caffeine tolerance, but I liked the idea of it. Also also, Gu is allowed on my mostly paleo challenge, because I said so. Just so you know.  

a surprising number of people suddenly think it’s hilarious to interrogate me

I need to stop stockpiling silverware in my desk drawers at work. It’s a weird habit. Especially since most of the silverware belongs to the office, not me. Anyway, moving on…

So there’s this guy who I might be sort of going out with (I know this is horribly out of character for me). Whatever. Don’t ask me any questions. It’s not important. This post is not about the guy (who I am heartily praying has not discovered that I have a blog); this post is about—of course—crossfit. Duh.

But you need to know about the guy for background information.

I wrote a post about a hundred years ago about why crossfitters are awesome. I’m writing a sequel. The sequel is still about why I love these people, but it’s in an exasperated I-wish-you-would-leave-me-alone-but-not-really kind of way. My crossfitters have become like family. Aww, we’re so adorable. It sounds great. And it is great. But it means we are not allowed to keep things to ourselves. It means everybody knows what I’m thinking and how to push my buttons.

“What are you doing after the WOD tonight?” K asked. I was sure she just wanted a buddy to practice pull ups with or something.

“Umm, stuff.”

Immediate comprehension. “Ahh. Stuff with Mark stuff?”

“Yes.”

“Okay.”

I thought I’d gotten off easy until L came bounding over after the workout and began to scold me, “Ohh, I’m mad at you! Why didn’t you tell me?? I need to know these things, so I can be excited for you!” Which is true. She gets ridiculously more excited at the idea of me going on a date than I do.

“Kate tattled on me, didn’t she? I can’t tell anybody anything!”

Another night I was trying leaving after the 5 o clock WOD when Coach called over to me, “Where are you going?”

Not only is it odd for me to actually LEAVE right after a WOD, but I had also changed into street clothes, a bit of a giveaway.

“Dinner.”

“Yeah? You got a hot date?”

We had had this exact conversation on a few previous occasions, and at this point, I would always laugh and say, “Yeah, with my roommate,” or “with my sister,” or “with Lizzy.”

“Maybe,” I answered, scurrying off to say bye to L because I knew she would want to hug me and tell me how pretty I looked (even though I had just done a million burpees and then not showered), and, let’s face it, I’m never going to turn down the chance for a complement.

We couldn’t have talked for more than 30 seconds, but when I turned to go I found that Coach had come over and was standing about three inches behind me. Coach, who is the most stoic, un-gossipy, un-excitable person I know, had decided to fill in for my mother.

 “Wait, you really have a date? Why don’t I know about this?”

“Okay, I’m leaving now.”

Probably, these people wouldn’t show any interest in my (extraordinarily uneventful) love life if I didn’t turn a ridiculous shade of crimson and start furiously trying to change the subject every time they did. 

somebody please explain myself to me

Why the hell did I sign myself up for this?

I ran 18 miles this morning, and I’m still trying to figure out why. I mean, I know why. I did it because “Lizzy and Anna’s marathon training schedule” (which is really just “Anna’s marathon training schedule,” now that Lizzy can’t do the race with me anymore) had the number 18 written in the little box under today’s date. But this morning, I had a case of bad attitude that would put my smart-ass 16-old-self to shame.

I had a feeling that this might not be my favorite run ever when I realized I was going to have to do all 18 miles by myself. It’s easy to find running buddies if you run fast and can change your pace to suit the current company. It’s much more challenging to find them if you are distinctly slower than average. I went through my entire list of people who can be trusted to run at a pace I can keep up with; all of them (all three and a half of them) were injured, out of town, or racing this weekend. Why didn’t “Anna’s marathon training schedule” take this into account when it heartlessly prescribed 18 miles for this weekend?

Also, my friends were doing fun things without me this morning. Things I couldn’t participate in. Because I was running. Alone.

When I set out, I switched my MP3 player from its usual running-music shuffle to a Green Day album because I felt like I needed to be screamed at for a little while. Motivation. Or whatever.

Less than a mile out, Green Day started to sound distinctly odd.  Then it started to sound distinctly like my left headphone wasn’t working properly. Then it stopped working altogether. Even my friend substitute (only used when nobody will run with me) had deserted me now! So I ran for three hours with nothing to distract me but my thoughts. Which were pretty grumpy.

Usually when I run, I think about happy stuff because it does a better job distracting me. Today, I kept ordering myself to think happy thoughts, and somehow the thought that kept sneaking back through my head, like an unwelcome guest at a dinner party, was “Is this supposed to be fun? Why did you think a marathon would be a good idea?”

I was hoping that, at some point during those three hours, I would have a change of heart. That there would be a moment when I felt happy to be out there. That I could say, “Ah yes, THIS is why I run.” Something like that would have worked a great moral into the end of this post by proving that doing challenging things always provides great rewards. And it actually does. But the best I could come up with this morning was this:

I AM RUNNING A MARATHON BECAUSE

1) I don’t like to be told what to do, even by myself. A little over a year ago, I told a friend, “I’d never be able to run a marathon.” And as soon as I said those words out loud, a contradictory little voice in my head that sounded much like my eight-year-old self said, Oh yeah? Watch me!

2) I love to stop running, but I can’t do that if I never start. Whether it’s overwhelming happiness at finishing the best race of your life or relief that hours of horrible torture are finally over, nothing beats the feeling you get when you are allowed to stop running. The longer you run, the happier you are to be finished.