Thursday, December 22, 2005

More Marathon

More Marathon
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
I just got the "Okay" from the running magazine that I write for to go to New York to cover the "More Marathon". I AM SO EXCITED! It's a women's only event. I've never run an entire marathon with only women. Most of all I'm excited to be going to New York City in the springtime. Wow, now I REALLY have incentive to get in shape for the spring. If you're interested in coming, please drop me a line. Here's the site for additional information:

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Strength (or weakness)

Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
See this hot fitness model in the photo? She's performing an exercise called the lunge. At the beginning of every training cycle I always start out with strengthening exercises. They keep your muscle tone up and I try and work on specific exercise that'll help me with my running. The lunges are great because they work right on that 'ole gluteus maximus and whips it right into shape. Last monday I decided that I needed to do a few...come to think of it I couldn't remember when the last time was that I'd done any. So after a 30 minute warmup run I did 10 x (20 walking lunges/100mt uphill sprints). Walking lunges are easier for me to do. When you get back up, instead of taking the step backward to go to your original point of origin, you go forward. Well, it must have been awhile since the last time I did this specific exercise. I could feel every-single-muscle in my thighs and butt for the next four days. I did them again yesterday and it felt fine. No pain. Which means next week I have to increase the intensity...

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Mr.Virus Sponge

Dreamy Evan
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
I was all excited in September when I saw that Evan had been given a spot in day care. In my town the day care is partially city funded so for a relatively small amount of money you can have your child attend from 8.00 am until 12.30 pm. The school is fantastic and the teachers are wonderful and I was finally going to be able to get back into a nice work routine. We had just finished what they call the "insertion" where he goes first for an hour a day, then two, and then the whole four hours, when he got sick. A little fever, a cough that wouldn't go away, I kept him home for three weeks until he was better. He went back and after a mere two days he was sick again. It was a fever again but this time it stuck around for a week and then he got a cough and then an ear infection which required antibiotics. He stayed home a full month. Last monday he went back to day care again. It's really difficult when he doesn't attend for awhile because then it takes him a few days to get back into the routine and get used to the enviroment. I remember one day (maybe wednesday) I told him "say goodbye to everyone". He went straight up to this little girl, took her face in his hands and gave her a kiss on the mouth. It was so sweet, but the first thing I thought to myself was "let's hope she was germ free..." Ugh. Saturday he woke up coughing and hacking. Then he vomited twice during the morning, and to make things worse he has a case of pinkeye in his right eye which I had to beg the pharmacist to give me an antibiotic for. I don't know whether to insist with the day care because if it's not this year it's next year that his little immune system will have to get used to processing germs OR whether I should just wait another year. This would mean I'd have to get another babysitter and pay out mucho dinero which I really really don't want to have to do. Sigh. A mother's dilemma.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

What's your strategy?

Christmas Cookies
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
Every Christmas I gain a few pounds, not a lot but probably three or four. Too many Christmas cookies, too many bites of chocolate. There's a certain point where I just say "what the heck..." and eat whatever passes by me. This year I am in a really good place mentally because I feel very very good about myself, but I have to find a way to not gain any weight because from past experience it is really difficult to take off. My first strategy plan has been to sign up for an important race right after the holidays. January 15th I've signed up for a half marathon where I want to try and go under two hours. But then what? Realistically I AM going to be eating, and I certainly don't want to deny myself my favorite christmas cookies so how do I work it out to a zero weight gain? I'm thinking that maybe I could allow myself "free" occasions to eat whatever I want, like one cookie baking day, Christmas day and New Year's Eve, but nothing else in between. After all they always say that it's not the one day but the entire ongoing two weeks that makes people gain weight. Please notice that I talk a lot about christmas cookies. I love cookies and they just remind me of my Mom and my sister and yes, there's a lot of emotion tied up there if you consider that my Mom passed away thirty years ago and my sister lives on the other side of the world. I have a specific set of recipes that I get out that my Mom used to use plus I like to make cookies with my own children.

Also, I'm commited to exercising every single day from the 23rd of december until the 6th of January (still a holiday here in Europe). I'll have plenty of relatives that want to stay with the kids so I won't have to worry about finding a babysitter. I'll have plenty of time to sleep if I need to recoup from workouts. Any other suggestions? What are you going to do?

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Marathon nr.23 in the books!

It's only the 1st km!
Originally uploaded by juliainitaly.
People have asked me several times this year how many marathons I've run. I would always shoot off a number, but in reality I had no idea because I'd never bothered to count them. So as I put away my Milan City Marathon Medal from last Sunday in my running book I took out all the medals and certificates and photos and counted. Milan was number twenty-three. Before you're too impressed you should know that I've been running for fifteen years now so that's actually not a big number. On the other hand it's not shabby either...
I had a really great time at the race. My friend Lucy (on the right in the photo) ran the first 12km with me and then conveniently took a subway to the finish area. It was freezing a** cold outside and for the first 30km they only had icy cold water at the refreshment stations. Then I hit the 35km station and they had hot tea! Gosh, that was delicious. I had three cups and then took off again. My ending time of four hours, thirty minutes and forty seven seconds was nothing special, but as usual I learned a few things about myself along the way:
- No matter what the time is, I still enjoy the run. I've just learned not to get all bugged out about the final time and just enjoy myself.
- I really really enjoy the training process and can't WAIT to get training again for the next.
- Before I run another marathon I want to go under two hours for the half marathon (right now I have a timing of about 2h02', so it shouldn't be difficult to improve).
- I still have to work on my stamina for the last half 'cause I just did too much walking in the end. I do have to say that I always felt good running though.

My next marathon will depend on working circumstances but should either be in Rome or New York, both on March 26, 2006

Friday, December 02, 2005

I'm lighter!

So I was finally able to cross off the number "1" item on my lightness list: I now have an italian driver's license! This has been weighing on my for y-e-a-r-s. Short story: I have a california driver's license that I obtained when I was sixteen. I moved permanently to Italy when I was twenty-one and they have a law here that if you stay for longer than one year, you have to get an italian license. But I always found a way around this. I renewed my foreign license for about ten years, I lied about how long I had been in Italy. I was stopped every once in awhile (in Italy they can make random checks on cars for no reason) but even though they always told me that it would be better to get an Italian license, they always let me go. Until four years ago. That's when they slapped me with a huge fine and told me I had to get one. Please note that in my twenty-nine years of driving I have never gotten a ticket and I have never had an accident.
You're probably wondering why I didn't just go get the dang license. Well, for one thing the test is really difficult. The written test has lots of trick questions and most Italians can't pass it. Second, the whole thing is costly. From start to finish I probably ended up spending about a thousand dollars. Lastly, it just takes a lot of time to do. Time that you probably have when you're sixteen and can't wait to get behind the wheel, but when you're forty-five and have two kids and a husband and a full time job, the last thing you want to do at night after you've put everybody to bed is study to pass a driving exam. But I did. Especially when I figured out that the written exam was more like a grammatical test, that I had to be really careful to read the question and understand what I was answering. Once I passed the written exam I had to go back to driving school and re-learn how to drive the way that they wanted to see me drive during the test. This was really hard because after you've been driving for nearly thirty years you have little habits that you just don't notice anymore. Like not keeping your hands on the wheel all the time, shifting down without braking, going just a little over the speed limit...I'm proud to say that on the day I took the driving test I was the only one of five candidates that passed that afternoon. See, it was hard!
I can tell you that getting the license has made a huge change in my life. I don't think about it anymore (whereas before I thought about it day and night, literally) and when I DO think about it I'm just really proud of myself. A little ashamed too. I could have done this years ago and I didn't because I thought I wouldn't be able to do it. But I was. Now I have to think about how many other things I don't do because I think that I can't. But I can.