Friday, August 8, 2014

Wait, what?

Did you ever realize something, and then realize you really should have realized that something before, and then feel really stupid for not having realized it already?

Today I read an article about a man who lived on a tropical fish farm. The following is a conversation between myself and my more cynical self (you should easily be able to figure out who's who).

Me: A tropical fish farm?? Why am I not a tropical fish farmer? I've never even heard of such a thing. 

Me: Seriously? You worked at a pet store for, like, two years. Where did you think they came from?

Me: Um, the tropics?

Me: .......

Me: And, you know, the divers would go down, um, with their little nets, and, um...

Me: .......

Me: Okay, okay. Jeez. 

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Things I Learned From My First 10k

Last Sunday, I ran my first 10k. 

That's me in the bright green tank top, #162! Photo by A J Lipe. 

For some people, I know, a 10k is no big deal. For me, though, it is. I only started running less than 18 months ago. Running doesn't come easily to me, either, not like it does to some people. I'm extremely slow, for one thing, and for another my brain likes to get in the way. 
So, I'm feeling pretty darn proud of myself, and chock-full of newfound knowledge, which I hope will help any other newbies contemplating the big 1-0.

1.) Don't cram. I had it all planned out. 12-week training program, customized and plotted down to the day. Then summer happened, and the heat (I really don't do well in hot temps) made long weekday afternoon runs impossible. Then, of course, we put our house on the market, blah blah blah...and then suddenly it was mid-July, and I hadn't yet run more than four miles at a clip. That gave me one month to build up to six miles, without stopping for a break. Did I manage it? Nope. And that caused me more anxiety than was necessary. Be aware of the timing of your race, and follow a training program. 

2.) Announce your intentions to race on social media/to anyone who will listen. If I hadn't, I probably wouldn't have raced. But the prospect of very publicly failing to do what I'd vowed was more daunting than the possibility of, you know, maybe dying on the course. 

3.) Pick something fun. I'm very passionate about animals and conservation, and the fact that there would be animals nearby got me stoked enough. But I did a 5k at the LV Zoo earlier this year, and was super impressed by the atmosphere. It was a giant, friendly party, and an absolutely gorgeous course, beautiful enough to distract from the discomfort and nerves. 
You don't get to run with bison at any old race!

The atmosphere can either lift you up or drag you down, so make sure you ask around and find out what races really got people pumped. I can tell you I'll be back next year for sure. 

4.) Take a pain reliever a few hours before the race. It'll help during and after. Trust me on this one. 

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There's No Such Thing As A Good Guy.

I love books. And TV. And movies. Basically, I love stories. 

Sometimes, though, I wonder if all those stories are good for us. Because, especially lately, it seems we're having trouble separating reality from fantasy. Like this whole concept of good guy/bad guy. 

There is no such thing as a "good guy." There is no such thing as a "bad guy." Not in real life. Whether you're talking about actual people, or corporations, or countries, the fact remains the same. Life, and people, are far more complex. Their actions and decisions as a whole can't be fit into a neat little box of "right" and "wrong." Someone can make the right decision one day and the wrong one the next. It makes them neither bad nor good. It makes them human. 

More and more, though, I see people blatantly ignoring facts in order to make those people or corporations or countries fit into the neat categories they expect. It doesn't work like that. That sort of thinking is a child's. Adults think critically, and critical thinking means seeing things for the way they are, not the way you want them to be. 

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Playing It By Ear

I've never been able to listen to audiobooks. I've tried them a few times, but my tendency to mentally meander has always been a handicap. I do it while I'm reading regular books, too, but turning back a page or two is a lot easier than rewinding, especially since when I last tried, they didn't have that handy little "skip back 30 seconds" button the apps have now. 

But I'm running a lot now, and for a lot longer—I'm talking an hour + on the weekends. I love my music, but it only carries me so far.  And as a fervent multi-tasker, I'm always happiest when I can do something while doing something else. 

So I gave it another shot, and I am absolutely shocked to discover that I love it. Using Audible's free trial, I downloaded Stephen King's Mr. Mercedes. I've listened to it several times this week—during my runs, including the six-miler last Sunday—and while crocheting. 
It's perfect for both. I still can't listen while cleaning or driving, but I gotta tell you, I'm so into it, it's tempting. 

That being said, there are still a few things that bug me about audiobooks:

1. You have to be able to turn off. No sneaking a few pages on your phone's Kindle app while in line at the grocery store—audiobooks require a chunk of uninterrupted, dedicated time. Which is really hard when you're dying to get back to the book and see what happens next!

2. They are so. Effing. Long. I'm not quite officially a speed-reader, but I'm damn close. I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows the first time in about 5 1/2-6 hours. I'm in the middle of my annual reread (yes, I'm a dork) and I was thinking about getting the audiobooks for next year's, so I could experience them in a different way. You want to know how long the HPatDH audiobook is? 21 hours. I could read the book four times over in that length. 

3. And they are so. Effing. Expensive. The aforementioned HPatDH retails for $45. From my meager research, this is not at all uncommon. Most audiobooks are $35 and up. That's where the Audible membership comes in handy; $15/month and you get one book of your choice each month; $22 gets you two (though, seriously, who has that kind of time?). Sadly, Harry Potter isn't available on Audible. Looks like I'll be hitting up eBay for those. 

Other than my few gripes, though, I'm totally into it, and glad I tried again. If at first you don't succeed...

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