When it was only a year ago that . . .

I’ve been reading through some posts from last year. Like this one — when tonsilitis and Advent totally, horribly coincided. (I can’t believe that was around this time last year!) And this one — when I traveled from central Thailand to Eastern Europe and then over to northern Thailand all within the span of three weeks. And I honestly can’t believe it.

I knew this would happen. I knew that I’d enter into a wilderness season as soon as I moved to Thailand, that I’d be in it for who knows how long, and then that once I got out of it and moved on to a new life season, I’d look back on the wilderness with new eyes of fondness, appreciation, and even gratitude for bits I’d never even noticed before.

I haven’t written in this space since November 4 because I’ve been fleshing out my word for 2014: brave. I honestly haven’t had the time, the mental capacity, or the energy to blog — until now, all of a sudden. So let me explain briefly what’s been going on before I move on to some more awe-inspired reflection on the past year and a half and then close off for the time being.

As you know, I headed back to America in October for what I expected to be a semi-lengthy visit. I mentioned in that post that I was going to be doing lots of flying in the coming months. Well, that was definitely what I’d planned but not entirely what ended up happening (in some regards). What I’d planned was for a cross-country trip to a total of seven states to spend time with family and my dearest friends. My heart was needing it after so long in the wilderness, you know? Before I left, I sensed my time in the wilderness would come to a close in the near future, but I had no idea when exactly that would be. As it turned out, I received a not-in-my-wildest-dreams job offer the day before (THE DAY BEFORE, people!) my flight out of Thailand. It seemed like an incredible opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up, so even though it required me to cut my America trip short, my friends and family were on board and I went ahead and accepted. (Really giddily, I might add.)

What my America trip turned out to be:
-two weekends jam-packed with two different road trips (one to Durham, North Carolina, where I ran my second half-marathon, and one to Charlottesville, Virginia, where I visited my oldest best friend)
-doctors appointments
-stocking up on things I love and miss immensely when I’m abroad (as well as on the necessities)
-a failed visa run all the way to Washington, DC {don’t worry, my visa has since been sorted out properly!}
-grad school work
-canceling a heap of cross-country flights and scheduling a new transcontinental one
-sending paperwork back and forth to my new job
-family time, which involved an early Thanksgiving dinner and hot chocolate😀

I flew back to Thailand in a hurry-scurry of events and arrived at my new apartment on November 1. Hence the photo I included in my last post. Since then, I’ve been trying to wade through the deep, deep, deep waters of teaching brilliant, societal-ly upper-class tenth graders English; create daily lesson plans; maneuver the culture of a new workplace and find my niche; learn how to wake up at 4:30 AM again {surprisingly, I used to do this all the time in high school; now I think it’s just too early for my brain to adjust to}; and realize start to grasp that I am an adult with a kitchen and a high-rise apartment in the city and a thirty-minute commute to work. I have a Skytrain pass, a gym membership, and a pot and pan. It’s weird, guys.

I’m also loving it. I’m 100% out of the wilderness now. I won’t say it’s because of the location change because I doubt it can all be boiled down to that. It’s just because. And I am immensely grateful. Like I said at the beginning of this post, I feel like I have new eyes to look back on the past year and a half. I feel like myself again. I feel light and happy on a near-constant basis. I can only count one meltdown in the past 30 days {it was about several language barrier issues all right in a row}, and that’s saying something. I look forward to seeing my students every day, and the big fancy school I work at doesn’t really scare me anymore — it’s more a light in my day than a worry. To be honest, my biggest concern at the moment is deciding where to travel over my two-week Christmas break that’s coming up. (Read: not a concern.)

Whooooooooo. What a ginormous breath of relief that’s been held in for the past 500-some days! What a deep well of gratitude I have for being able to lift up my head and my no-longer-dry bones to say, “I’m out of the wilderness now. I made it. God carried me through.”

Enjoy your Advent, dears. There’s a time to weep {last Advent} and a time to laugh {this one}, that’s for sure. I’m so grateful for the ebb and flow. The light always comes back sometime.

Sunrise from my balcony, November 26.
Sunrise from my balcony, November 26.

When I’m checking in

Hello all,

I sincerely apologize for the lapse in posts. It’s been an incredibly chaotic season of traveling and transitioning for me, and on top of it all, I’m also pretty jet lagged. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things blogging-wise because I need to establish some kind of a sane routine in this new life stage regarding other things first:). Hopefully sooner rather than later! For those of you who stop by PQ every now and again, thank you! I can’t wait to update you soon.

I’ll leave you with this . . .

My view these days.
My view these days.

Have a fantastic week, guys!

When I Run a Half-Marathon #2

Remember that time I ran my first half-marathon? My recap was my second ever post on Powerfully Quiet! (Whoa.) Well, glory be, I’ve run another one. (Whoa #2).

Since my first half, my running workouts have been quite sporadic. I fell in love with running while I was training the first time around, but the recovery and self-congratulatory period that immediately followed was enough to keep me away, for whatever reason. I was probably thinking along the lines of I deserve this break. Look at what I just accomplished! It’s no big deal that I’m not running right now. I’ll get right back into it easily enough. Well, things definitely didn’t happen that way — and from what I’ve read (yep, I’m still following and loving reading blogs about running! New fave: Hungry Runner Girl), that’s not unusual.

I can’t quite remember when I started getting back into the running groove, but I think it was around the same time that I decided a second half-marathon should be on the horizon. (No surprise there.) I had finally gotten a gym membership in Thailand and felt like I had the equipment and drive to pound out commitment to a running schedule. And, to be honest, I love training plans. So I went back to the ol’ trusted and true Hal Higdon plan, this time without a sure half-marathon date in mind but knowing that I wanted to run one sometime this year.

Well, I ended up signing up for a really beautiful September race in Kanchanaburi, Thailand (pictured in this post), which is one of the first places that I visited when I moved to Thailand two Junes ago.  If you’ve been reading PQ over the past month, then you’ll remember that I didn’t end up making it to the race. I WAS REALLY UPSET. Then came along a semi-impromptu trip back to America and the opportunity to be in Durham, North Carolina — one of my all-time favorite places in the world — for a weekend and to run my second half-marathon there! Perfect!

So that’s what I did. I registered for the half-marathon option of Durham’s Bull City Race Fest (October 19), which, gloriously enough, also included a post-race Food Truck Rodeo. #YES.

In the weeks leading up to the race (and you’ll know this, again, if you’ve been following PQ for the past while), I trained on the gym treadmill. Not my preference, necessarily, but it turned out to be a good thing because I ended up falling in love with it and feeling like I’d broken through yet another mental barrier of running long distances on the treadmill! My longest “long run” before the half was 14 miles — so by the time race weekend came along, I definitely thought I was capable of finishing, and hopefully finishing with at least the same time as my first half.

Well, things didn’t go exactly as expected. The sights along the race route were lovely, but the course itself was hilly. For the first six to seven miles, the hills were annoying (unexpected!) but do-able — kind of gentle, neighborhood-ly hills. But somewhere around mile eight, the hills got pretty gigantic. I’m talking severe inclines and declines. Now, I definitely had not expected this. I had even researched this particular race and the course ahead of time, and I’d actually found statements about how the course had been made less hilly for this year’s race after receiving complaints last year! So I’d thought I’d be good to go. (Read: I definitely had not trained on hills, and my right knee had been acting a little wonky every now and then during training = not a good pair for a hilly race). All that to say, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that my mental game was on point but that my knee totally gave out by mile ten. It had been acting up a little beforehand, so I had an idea of what to expect over the last few miles of the race and talked myself into being okay with taking walking breaks as necessary. But by mile ten, it became apparent that I would have to be okay with walking for long stretches of time — potentially even the next few miles. (My stomach was also cramping up pretty badly by this point.)

Everything is pretty much a blur now, but from what I can remember, I walked a good portion of miles eleven and twelve. I ran very slowly for very short stretches of time when passing particularly enthusiastic spectators, but the pain in my right knee would always remind me to cut it out. Spectator energy along the final stretch is what got to me run the last few tenths of a mile and cross the finish line, but it was paiiiinful — and I headed straight for the medical tent to get some ice on my knee.

Some thoughts about race weekend overall:
-Packet pick-up went very smoothly and was very well-run (haha): lots of helpful, kind, and patient volunteers + a cool, streamlined process (there was even a technology section for scanning your chip to make sure it was working!)
-Maybe this is a new thing, but I loved that the chip was stuck on the back of the bib. So much nicer than having to tie it through your shoelaces!
-The expo was very small but, despite its size, had a lot of good quality merchandise: fun t-shirts, hats, stickers, compression socks, headbands, etc.
-This year was only Bull City Race Fest’s second year, so I’m sure they are still figuring things out. But in comparison to my first half (the Cohick 13.1 with Bass Pro in Springfield, Missouri), spectators were definitely lacking. I only saw spectators holding signs for the first two miles and then rarely saw any again. (The signs are one of my favorite parts!) The course went through a lot of neighborhoods as well as the downtown Ninth Street area and some of Duke University’s East Campus, but everywhere was pretty deserted. The most non-participants that I passed were police officers who were either blocking the road or allowing traffic through (not awesome).
-I was impressed that most of the water stations had both water options and sports drink options in paper cups with lots of volunteers handing them out. There were also at least three trash cans at each station so that it was very easy to throw your cup away whether you were running or walking through the station.
-I was very disappointed with Bull City Race Fest for making it seem like the course would not be very hilly this year. A friend who I’d been staying with over the weekend came to the finish line and said that she saw a lot of people hobbling over the finish line and looking very unhappy — which made her think, “Whoa, that must have been a tough race.” It definitely was. And considering that Durham isn’t a very hilly place, I wonder if many participants hadn’t expected the hills either.
-Hooray for all half-marathon-ers receiving a medal! But, for whatever the reason, the half-marathon medal was the same as the 5-mile medal, so there was no mention of which race you had actually run on it. (Sidenote: I don’t want to complain too much, but I will say that I was a little surprised that the medals weren’t put around our necks after we crossed the finish line; we had to put our medals on ourselves.)
-Lots of food trucks = lots of lines. It was hard to decide what was most necessary right after crossing the finish line: free massage and foam rolling or food trucks. It seemed like you pretty much had to pick one or the other because there wasn’t a lot of time to do both. I opted for ice first and then hit up Chirba Chirba for dumplings and Hibachi XPress (I think that was the name of it?) for steak, chicken, and veggies over rice.
-OMG, PARKING. Totally smooth before the race. Totally a disaster after the race. My parents and I walked around the general vicinity at least six times talking to different locals and parking garage attendants to try to figure out where the heck I’d parked. Everyone had a different answer. Finally, after about an hour, we found it. (And there were only three garages open for race participants! Why was it so difficult for us to find the garages after the race? Oy!)

Overall, I am really, really happy that I was able to run half-marathon #2 last weekend. I’m also pretty pumped about my time given the conditions: cold weather (cold to me, at least — I hadn’t run in the below-70s for two years), wind the last thirty minutes of the race, and crazy hills that caused my knee to give out. (Sidenote: I’ve taken this week off from running, as I was literally icing my knees and quads for three days after the race.) I ran my first half in 2:20 and my second half in 2:29. Bummer since I’m sure I would have PRed if my knee hadn’t gone crazy, but oh well. I’m happy!

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 6.04.06 PM
*Bonus points if you noticed that my bib for my first half was #2387 and that my bib for my second half was #2857! Close enough = cool beans.

Have you ever run a half-marathon? If so, where did you run it and how did it go? If not, would you ever consider running one? 

When it’s time for my week in workouts, recap style: Vol. VIII

First of all, I want to apologize for not posting after Monday last week! I totally intended to, but it obviously didn’t happen. I rarely get jet lag regardless of how severe the time difference is (maybe I’ve told you guys before?), but this time around, it happened. Very weird. And, as you know if you’ve experienced jet lag, it makes you not really up for doing much of anything. Hence zero blog posts last week after flying to America.😦

But now since it’s Monday, let’s get on to a very exciting recap of last week’s workouts!

Monday, October 13     |     Yoga
As per usual before a long flight, I did my favorite 20-minute yoga session at home.

Tuesday, October 14     |     Rest {AKA flying}
No time for workouts! I was on three different planes . . . all day . . .

Wednesday, October 15     |     Rest {AKA recovery from flying}
I landed just before midnight and — jet lagged as I was — definitely wasn’t up for my hoped-for run on Wednesday.

Thursday, October 16     |     Run
I managed to get myself out of bed in the morning for a 3-mile run around the neighborhood! Very exciting as I hadn’t run around this particular neighborhood in almost two years.

Friday, October 17     |     Run
Again, I got myself up even earlier for a 2-mile run around the neighborhood before driving to North Carolina. Check plus.

Saturday, October 18     |     Rest 
Rest day before half-marathon #2!!!

Sunday, October 19     |     Run {AKA RACE DAY!!!}
HALF-MARATHON! I ran the Bull City Race Fest in Durham, NC. (Besides the half-marathon, there were also 1-mile and 5-mile options.) It was . . . interesting, to say the least. Full race recap to come later this week, so keep your eyes peeled! Woohoo!

Mandatory pre-race photo.
Mandatory pre-race photo.

What did you get up to last week? 

When it’s time for my week in workouts, recap style: Vol. VII

How about another workout recap, shall we?

Monday, October 6     |     Rest
That about says it all.

Tuesday, October 7     |     Rest
I’m not sure the best name for Tuesday’s lack of exercise is “rest,” but I had an appointment I had to keep (plus, of course, there was a thunderstorm all night afterwards), so I couldn’t get to the gym.

Wednesday, October 8     |     Run + Lift
FINALLY, I got back to the gym and ran four miles on the treadmill. I noticed that my arms felt so heavy as I ran – a bit like I’d worked them really hard and sore via weightlifting or something (but that wasn’t the case at all). Any ideas what that’s about? My arms only felt like that as I was pumping them while running, so afterwards, they were perfectly capable of a quick, ten-minute arm workout at home.

Thursday, October 9     |     Run + Yoga
Unfortunately, I can’t even remember the last time I made it to the gym for a yoga class, but on Thursday I did break out the yoga mat at home, and that was lovely. I also made it to the gym but just for a six-mile treadmill run. Again, my arms felt super heavy.

Friday, October 10     |     Rest
Friday was a bit of a celebratory rest day, as it was my last day at my job!

Saturday, October 11     |     Long run + Lift
I haven’t felt so tired in the middle of a long run since . . . I don’t even know when. This ten-mile run was not exciting or even very pleasurable, which is unfortunate since it was probably my last run at this gym. Oh well. I’ve been reading a lot recently about how tapering in the weeks leading up to a race really messes with your mind (you start thinking there’s no way you can run the full race distance, etc.). So perhaps it was something like that. We’ll see how the half-marathon goes NEXT WEEKEND!!!:) I’m so excited for it! (I also did some arm work at home after the run.)

Sunday, October 12     |     City walkin’
I had to go into Bangkok yesterday and ended up doing a lot of walking. Cross-training, check.:)

Okay, I’m off to finish packing for my trip!!! I can’t believe it’s almost here. Craziness.

So, tell me – how was your week in workouts last week? Any exciting plans (workout or non-workout-related) this week?

When my to-do list is five pounds heavier than usual . . .

In the next few days, I have an unfathomable to-do list. I’m not freaking out about it because I’m trying to make excellent use of my time so that I’m productive in the hours I’ve got rather than wasteful with them and therefore overwhelmed. So far, so good . . . but we’ve still got a few days left to go.:)

Some of the things are fun (paint my nails, get a haircut and a massage, run lots), but others are not so fun (clean up the house, pack for three different trips, send emails, do all the usual random “housekeeping” things you have to do before a long-haul flight). In the end, though: AUTUMN IN AMERICA!!! It’ll be a good time.

I’m still planning to churn out regular blog posts (read: three / week, including workout recaps), so keep your eyes peeled for any exciting inside scoops about my travels and upcoming move! I’m not even exactly sure of what’s coming next, so you’ll probably find out almost as soon as I do.:) We’ll see.

Until next week . . .

When Christmas came early to Thailand

I’m back today to share with you the most exciting purchases of 2014.

IMG_0623

Lucky Charms. Honey Nut Cheerios. Rold Gold pretzels. Cadbury Screme Eggs. Daim bar. Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food. Silk Pure Almond Vanilla Milk. 

Stunning.

I am not kidding, not even a little bit, when I say that I have looked for Lucky Charms in every grocery store I’ve ever walked into in Asia for the past fifteen months — and never have I found them. Until now!!!

Life is good. Bangkok is glorious. I’m ready for some serious snacking.

When it’s time for my week in workouts, recap style: Vol. VI

Last week I was quite impressed with myself. This week I am miffed.

#1. My apologies for this late post.

#2. The ONE day (yes, you read that right) that I worked out was Thursday. You can probably guess what I did to work out too.

What’s that? At-home yoga and arm-work with my weights?

Yep. Yep. You’re right.

I’m not pleased, but there really wasn’t much I could do about it. After all, this happened almost every single day after work. (In case you’re thinking “That’s no excuse!” . . . I’m an expat and I can’t read Thai yet, so I don’t drive a car. All public transportation is open-air.)

Better luck this week? Let’s hope so!

How was your week in workouts? Let me live vicariously through you! 

When, no doubt about it, it’s rainy season

So, this has been happening for the past four days:


*Note: I filmed my own version of this video on Tuesday morning when I was trying to get to work, but unfortunately, I can’t upload it to WordPress. Bummer! Hence the link to this YouTube video I found from 2009 that is, yes, quite similar to this week’s occurrences.

Dramatic, right?! If you haven’t quite figured out what a song-thaew is, you get a little view from the inside of one in Pattaya at the 0:51 mark of the YouTube video above. My town didn’t have as bad of a flash flood as the one in the video, but it was getting there. I actually managed to walk all the way up my street in the pouring rain on Tuesday only to see that it was much more flood-esque on the main road that connects to my neighborhood. One of the owners of my favorite family-run restaurants on the corner pulled a chair out for me under cover from the rain, and me, three motorcycle taxi drivers, and a man who’d been shopping at the next-door convenience store just waited around for a loooong time looking at the rain. Eventually I really had to go to work (despite the restaurant owner suggesting I go back to bed). After seeing an older woman bicycling (!) through the small currents in the road, I figured that surely I could hurry across it to catch a ride to work. And I did! Oy. Rainy season.

Good thing I love rain!:)