Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Yes, you read that correctly. I dropped a mouse. And I swear that at the end of my (hopefully) amusing story, there IS a Spark relevant observation.
For those of you who may not know, I work in a research lab where we use mice as our animal model. [Please no hate mail on this subject. I don't want to get into a debate about animal research here.] Handling mice is not a part of my job that I enjoy but I do it because it's my job. The other day I had to sacrifice some mice for an experiment but I dropped mouse #8 and the little guy scurried away into the corner of the room behind some big machines that we have. Drat! My co-workers came running as soon as I started to unleash a volley of choice words directed towards Mr. Mouse.
They only *look* cute. Don't trust these guys.
In my defense, the mouse I dropped was an old mutant mouse. To put it scientifically, these mice "got problems." As I was picking the mouse up, it started to convulse and my shock caused me to drop it. I had never seen a mouse (even these mutants) do that before. I'm sorry if you will all have nightmares later. I know I certainly did.
Luckily, there was nowhere for Mr. Mouse to escape to. The problem was how to get to him since there were machines in the way. I finally lured him out with a flashlight. He was curious about the light so he finally came out from under the big machine. I swooped in before he had a chance to make a run for it and picked him up (without dropping him this time). Oh, and it only took 4 human beings to catch 1 mouse.
[Insert cat and mouse joke here. I was a member of the Cats team in the 5% spring challenge]
I'm a biologist so very little grosses me out. But I know most people are more squeamish than I am, so I'll spare you details of mouse dissection. The mice I sacrificed ranged in age from 3 months old (fairly young) to as much as 11 months (old). The older the mouse, the bigger it is, and the more it weighs. Not only are they bigger but they also tend to be fatter. They're bigger not just because all of their internal organs are bigger but also because they accumulate more belly fat.
I hope I never have to work with the obesity mouse lines. Those mice are big! Bigger than my hands probably.
Big surprise there.
The mice are housed in cages with unlimited access to food and water. So they can eat whenever they want (get fat) and they don't exactly exercise (stay fat). Bigger mice are harder to dissect because you have to get around all of their fat in order to find whatever organ you're looking for. I admit that the first time I encountered this, I was pretty grossed out. I was not grossed out by the overweight mouse. No, I was grossed out by myself being overweight (at that time). I thought to myself that if some an alien decided to dissect me, the alien would think, "Ew, this human being has so much belly fat, gross!"
So if anyone would like some extra incentive to lose that extra weight you're carrying, come and observe an animal dissection. Trust me, it's an eye opener.
Tuesday, June 05, 2012
Yesterday was my 32nd birthday.
All in all, I have to say that my life is pretty good. I have a family who loves me. I have good friends who love me as if I were family. And I am married to a wonderful man who loves me.
I've also got my health. Overall, I was pretty healthy before losing 21 lbs. But not carrying around excess weight and exercising regularly is definitely putting me towards a much better health path. I've also got a roof over my head and I don't have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. I don't have to worry about making ends meet. Really, I don't have much to complain about. Life certainly could be a lot worse.
And I'm also employed. I have a job. In this economy, having a job is a good thing. Oh wait, that's right my job is slowly sucking the life out of me. The internet is full of complaints and I don't need to add more negativity into the world. So let me just say that I hate the job that I am doing, I hate most of the people I work with, and I hate my boss (the boss from hell) above all else. And yes, I am actively working on finding a new job. There's a place that wants to hire me but due to certain issues cannot right now. And I want to work for them. So it's a waiting game right now. And I'm trying to hold on to those last shreds of my sanity while I wait it out.
When I'm at work, I have bad days and worse days. Last week was full of worse days. What got me through the week was the excitement of the Wall Street Run. That and the anticipation of seeing old friends at a joint birthday party I was throwing for myself and my husband (our birthdays are 12 days apart) on Saturday. The party was at a restaurant we've been fans of for years but at the location that opened recently by us. Well, the party was a debacle. The restaurant is very poorly managed and got everything wrong (including losing our reservation). And at the end of the night when I asked to speak to the manager, he wouldn't even apologize. I left with my blood boiling. I had to deal with crap all week long. I certainly did not need to deal with it on the night I was celebrating my birthday.
Despite all that, I DID have a good time seeing my friends and my friends had a good time as well.
Monday, my husband had to fly out to California for a business trip. Yeah, total suckage right there. And I knew I was going to have a pointless meeting with my boss and this other person at work. My husband keeps me sane on days like that. After dealing with my boss' crap all last week and then the debacle on Saturday, I decided that Monday, my birthday would be a good day for me to take as a "mental health day," especially since my husband wasn't going to be around. I am definitely one of those people who is guilty of not spending enough time on herself.
So I took the day off. I took the day to focus on me. I took the day so I could unwind, de-stress, and decompress. After almost 4 years of hating this job and putting up with BS day after day at work, I certainly deserve this day off. And I don't feel guilty about it. If you were to ask any of my friends or family, this day has been long overdue.
It's not like I took the day and went and got a massage or anything like that (although that would have been nice). Instead, I slept in a little and finally woke up refreshed for the first time in months. I went shopping for myself and bought things that I have needed and kept meaning to get but just "couldn't find the time." So thanks to today, I have a new purse. I am not a purse person. I just need one that meets certain specific functional needs and my old one was literally falling apart. But I had not been able to find a proper replacement until today.
After losing 21 lbs, the "girls" have shrunk. When I got re-fitted today, I found out I had lost 2 cup sizes. No wonder nothing fits. So now I finally have some new bras that fit. I was never a busty girl to begin with and it kind of sucks that I'm even smaller now but honestly, I'd rather have a smaller chest size than a larger pant size. I'd take that 21 lbs lost any day.
I got to see my best friend today for an hour during her lunch break (she works close to where I live). I got to have dinner with my parents and my brother at home (I don't live far from them either). I had 2 slices of birthday cake without guilt. It was chocolate. My dad knows me so well.
Oh and there was an outpouring of love for me here on the internet. I may not have met any of you in real life but I consider so many of you my friends. Silly but when you give me your support, it does make me feel better. So thank you.
Was there more stuff I've been meaning to do and didn't get to do today? Oh definitely. But the point was to RELAX, something I don't know how to do. And I do have to say, today was a relaxing day. I FELT GOOD today.
Today won't be easy but at least I took yesterday for me. Slowly I am learning how to spend more time on myself and learning to stress less. Because dealing with stress is also an important part of a healthy lifestyle. This is the part I have to continue to work on. And I'm every so slowly learning how.
Monday, June 04, 2012
I meant to post this on Friday but got swamped at work and then was busy prepping for a party on Saturday, which turned out to be a disaster (although THAT was not my fault). With all the crap I've had to deal with last week and this weekend, I decided that today is going to be about ME. So one of the things I wanted to finish was my blog about Thursday's Wall Street Heart Run.
When I got up Thursday morning I was super excited and a bit anxious. I had run a 5K a month earlier so I knew I could do it. Yet, I still felt anxious. I guess it was because this felt like a "real" race. It was a New York Road Runners event and would be chip timed. I registered through my employer, who was a sponsor of the event, and got a real race shirt out of it too. You know the kind that wicks away moisture? How cool is that? I feel all official runner-like now with my runner's shirt. And yes, I can't wait until I can wear this outside when I run at the Duck Pond and show it off.
Since I take public transportation a lot, I am signed up for MTA alerts (Metropolitan Transit Authority, who run NYC's subway, bus, and rail systems). When I checked my e-mail that morning, I saw this message:
"M5, M15, M15SBS, M20, and M22 buses detoured. Due to the Wall St Run in Manahattan, from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm, Thu, May 31."
They're closings streets for this run! Diverting traffic! This is serious business! Yep, yep, I was definitely anxious now.
It would make sense that my employer, a hospital, would be one of the local sponsors as yesterday's race was a benefit for the American Heart Association. heartwalk.kintera.org/faf/home/defa
ult.asp?ievent=483662 . We here on Spark are well aware that heart disease is the #1 killer. So it was very fitting that my first timed race was for a charity that promotes healthy living. This race raised over $1.4 million for AHA. My brother (who knows about these kinds of things) said that is a very good number for a fundraising event.
Thursday, I was counting down the hours until the race. It was a VERY BAD day at work. I've mentioned before how I hate my job and how incredibly stressful it is. A lot of it has to do with my boss. Therefore, I couldn't wait to get out of work and out running. Exercise definitely alleviates a lot of stress for me. Although after this weekend, I think I am going to look into meditation too as I really need to learn more ways to de-stress and decompress. Learning to deal with stress is also a part of healthy living and I need to work on that area of my life.
I believe Thursday's race was originally supposed to be a full 5K because I remember that's what it said when I registered. For whatever reason, it became a 3 mile race. This is also the first race I have ever encountered that started on a weekday evening. I guess since it's in Wall Street and mostly corporations are participating, they wanted to make it an after work event. Hey, works for me!
The 3 mile route had us start just 1 block north of the World Trade Center site. We went west a tiny bit, then south down Church Street, west again on Liberty Street, south on William Street, and then a loop north on Pearl Street and south on Water Street. The last mile had us going along the very bottom tip of Manhattan, along Battery Park Place and running past Battery Park. The finish line put us at the World Financial Center, next to the North Cove along the Hudson River. My friend who works in the Financial District came out to see me race and told me that the area was mostly flat. So I was thankful for a non-hilly race route. At this point in my training, I still find hills challenging.
According to the e-mails I got, I was under the impression that they wanted everyone to be in the waiting area by 6:30 pm (the race started at 7 pm). I knew there was going to be a lot of people so I figured that if I got there the earlier the better. This is NYC, you have to get everywhere early. Well, I was wrong. I showed up at 6 pm and there was no one there. Oops. I guess my excitement got the better of me. Although this was only my second race, I have now quickly learned that races just don't start on time as I don't think we started until a quarter past 7 pm. Well, now I know.
They had timed corrals at the line-up, starting with 5 min/mile. My mom got to the start point before I did and called me up to ask which one was my corral. I told her, "Ha ha ha, I am nowhere near any of that. Probably whatever is last." From what I calculated from my previous training runs, I usually timed between 12 to 13 min/mile. Well, the last timed corral was for 11+ (so I was in the last corral!). What an ego deflator that was. When more and more people started to show, they filled up from the beginning at the 5 min/mile corral and no one was coming to 11+. Now, perhaps this is because everyone wants to start as close to the start line as possible but I was starting to think, "Hey, there’s a good possibility I might finish last in this race." Then I remembered that this was a run/walk so there was no way I could finish behind all the walkers. OK, not the nicest thing to think but did I mention again how nervous I was? Not only that but my friend, my mom, and my brother were all going to the race to support me. I felt more nervous running for them than anything else.
Thursday wound up being a perfect evening for a run. I really couldn't have asked for better weather. It wasn't that hot but what I didn't realize was that the cars going by in the area would make it seem hotter than it was. That and lower Manhattan just tends to keep in the heat. This was my first street race so I once again I learned something new about running conditions.
I loved the race route, the weather conditions, everything. I waved to my mom as I passed the start line. When we were running down Church Street, we had this AMAZING view of the new World Trade Center building construction site with the sun behind it. WOW. I'm not down in that area very often but I have been within the last few months and I don't think I ever appreciated the building for what it was until Thursday. Now I do.
From New York Road Runners (nyrr.org) website. That's a lot of people! According to my mom, there were probably at least three times as many walkers. So you can imagine the scale of this run/walk.
What I also loved was the random strangers on the street who watched us run and cheered us on. What a rush to hear , , and "you’re doing great!" from people who don't even know you and are still proud of you for running. On the other hand, I disliked the people who got tired of waiting and just decided to cross the street while runners were going by. Yes, I had to dodge quite a few pedestrians. Although as a native New Yorker, I can understand their frustration. When I had to dodge the pedestrians, I thought to myself, "I'm so thankful I train at the Duck Pond where I normally have to dodge geese, strollers, and bicyclists. That was great practice for this!" You know what else was cool for me? Getting to run by some of the places I knew of which I had fond memories. On Water Street, I ran past my friend's old dorm, where I used to hang out all the time. On a different street, I remember one Oktoberfest where my husband and I got giant steins of beer not because we wanted the beer per se but because we wanted to bring home a gigantic stein.
From New York Road Runners (nyrr.org) website.
In my first race (the Bronx Zoo 5K), I had to take some short walking breaks but this time I ran the whole thing. I did stop to get water and so I had to walk. And I wanted to be nice and throw my cup out in the trash. So that wasn't going to be great for my time but I needed water and I didn't want to litter. And again, I'll learn to dodge the wet paper cups the next time I race.
For me, I felt the first mile and a half was easy, as in it came up much sooner than I was expecting. I really didn't feel tired until sometime after mile 2. I thought about walking but I really wanted to run the whole thing so I just slowed down my pace somewhat. When we got towards the end, I saw and heard my friend cheering me on. That was when I was starting to lose steam and having that support really helped me to keep going.
So this might seem silly and somewhat nerdy but I want to print out my official race results and have that and my race bib framed. I'm proud of myself and there's something really special about having some official timed results now. According to the official results, I finished the 3 mile route in 33:50, with a pace of 11:17 min/mile. There were 2,693 female runners and 5,540 total finishers (walkers were not timed). I finished 2121st by gender and 4,753 overall. That means there were more than 500 women and almost 800 people total, who placed after I did. And before the race started I was worried I would finish last. It seems kind of silly now.
Perhaps if I hadn't gotten water, I would have been faster but that doesn't matter now to me. The point is I now have a real starting point to gauge my progress. I'm proud of my 33:50 three mile time and I'm proud of my 11:17 min/mile pace. And I'm proud I ran the whole thing. And numbers aside, this race FELT much easier for me to do than my last one and that's how I know I'm improving.
You know what the most awesome thing is? Thursday's race was 4 days before my birthday (it's actually today) and so going into my 32nd birthday, I can now say "I am a runner."
Before the race. Wish I had remembered to get a photo of all of us after the race.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
OK, so I just got home and I'm kind of tired but I am still so pumped with adrenaline and endorphins from my race.
This was only my second race ever and my first chip timed race. I'm eager to find out my official race time tomorrow. 9 am can't come fast enough
This is the race I signed up for: The American Heart Association Wall Street Run/Walk
www.nyrr.org/run-with-us/american -heart-association-wall-street-run-3m/ race-recap
I think it's only a 3 mile and not a true 5K. Still I'm totally stoked because I finished in 33 min. Again, still waiting for official time but I know that I ran faster than I did with my 5K in April.
I'll (hopefully) post a recap for you all tomorrow. Did I mention that I'm tired? Meanwhile, I'm going to keep doing the happy dance here at home.
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