Saturday, April 14, 2012

Broken focus is not my bag

Addendum: Since writing this on Saturday, I had my first five-mile run tonight!!! (Sunday.) I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Pagliai's for providing tonight's fuel; the inclement weather for the cool clouds to look, as well as the chilly breeze; and my will power, for forgoing the beer with dinner, even though everyone else was having some, and I reallyreally wanted some, too. Woo hoo!

And now back to your regularly scheduled blog entry ...


Whatever parts of my body are responsible for running endurance, I would just like to say thank you very, very much. You have been neglected, and yet, you came through like a champ this afternoon. You're the best; I'm the worst.


Any journalist will tell you that multi-tasking is essential to your success. You produce about two stories per day, plus briefs, plus plan future stories, plus coordinate photography, plus answer phones, plus answer boatloads of emails, plus blog, plus Facebook. There are numerous pluses I'm missing, but I think you get it.

I can and do multi-task. I churn out the copy like you wouldn't believe. Having said that, I don't deal well with plan changes, something my editors have noticed in the past. I'm sometimes told, "Well, it's the news, you have to be flexible." Some of us are fine with switching focuses mid-story and doing whatever happens to be more urgent. I don't really function well that way. The way I get around that in a newsroom is to be extremely fast. I sometimes wonder if I developed such swift writing skills simply so that I can finish an entire something before being asked to move onto something else.

But there are stories that don't allow for this model I've adopted. This week, I had a story fall into my lap that required a lot of time, multiple days, actually, of interviews and research. One of those stories where you have to get folks to "open the books," as we say, to get precise figures. And as I'm learning more and more on my newish beat (education), many stories require an added layer of language interpretation. Do you know what a "cluster model" is? How about PLCs? A CoGAT? Know what that is? Yeah, me either until this week. And I've got to learn it and break it down in order for my readers to understand the story I'm writing.

Long story short, with a need to stay focused on finishing the piece, I did little else. Every morning, I got to the office as early as possible to continue writing and plan that day's interviews. And it wasn't the kind of week where you squirrel away time to plan or talk with your neighbor or answer email. I spent entire shifts on the phone, writing, making more calls, writing some more.

When I got home, I just wanted a glass of wine and to watch TV and not think about it.

I know I said long story short before, but this time I really mean it ... Long story short, I had not run since Sunday. Five days of no running. At first, like say around Tuesday, it felt weird. Like I was itching to get out there. But then, by Thursday, and this scared me, it felt normal, like one day of not running leading to the next, with as many excuses as you can manage as to why it wasn't a good day. ...Tension headache, night assignment for work, had a beer with dinner, too cold, raining ... Raining! Yep, that was my Friday night excuse. Can you believe that? After last weekend I made such a huge deal about how awesome it is to run in the rain?

Anyway, I spent the gorgeous sunny day doing yard work and cleaning the house, which actually relaxes me, as sad as that is, and then I put on my new little running capris and my trusty Nikes and I hit the pavement. For the most part, it went really great. Just an easy, 32-minute run. It went so well for the first half, I felt like Ridiculously Photogenic Guy. The kind of run when you actually take the time to look around at stuff, smell the lilacs, smile at kids playing outside.

But then my hips started to get a little achy around minute 20. I keep telling myself that if I lost more weight around my hips, running would get so much easier.

Ha ... that brings me to one of the most-asked questions, or statements, rather, that I've been getting since I started running: "Wow, running burns so many calories. It must be great for weight-loss." That's when I have to say, "Actually, I think I'm the first runner in the history of running to PUT ON weight after starting to run."

I'm not kidding. A bit of it is muscle, and it's not all that much weight. But seriously, I am STARVING after a long run, and I tend to gravitate towards the carbs. Snyder's pretzel nuggets are my thing these days. OBSESSED. And I was sort of OK with that at first. I wanted to really focus on learning to run and building endurance and getting that in place first. And then I thought I'd bring the nutrition back into the mix.

So that's sort of the plan now. That and running at LEAST five days next week and the week after because Girls on the Run 5K is on the 28th, and my only goal is to finish in less than 40 minutes without incident -- no walking, no injury. Just an easygoing 35-minute jog around Sibley.

So if that little widget to the right over there goes more than a day without a new run recorded, post a snide comment about my lack of stick-to-it-iveness, wouldya? I've got to stay focused.

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