TWIR #64: the week of exhaustion

I have no explanation for how tired I’ve felt this week. I stopped taking allergy meds late last week, and yet for the better part of the week I continued to feel beyond exhausted. I had little desire to work out, and napped frequently. If this is still related to seasonal allergies, may I be the first to say that pollen can kiss my ass.

Saturday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I think this may have been my only good workout the entire week. I remember being tired, but not so much so that I didn’t force myself to do negative pull ups on my own. That’s saying a lot.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day + putting green
Relevant Stats: amazing 30+ foot putt!
Observations: No, I’m not attempting to claim that going to the putting green is exercise. It is not. I merely wanted to brag about my amazing long putt. Seriously, it was beautiful. It was a fluke, of course, but beautiful nonetheless.

Monday
Activity: yoga
Relevant Stats: 90 min.
Observations: I wrote about this on Monday, but my body simply did not want to do anything remotely intense.  I’d forgotten just how difficult yoga is when you lack any semblance of flexibility.  I wished desperately that I had a legit yoga block. Instead, I had to use various makeshift items like books, or a small upturned basket, or a tin box. Resourcefulness at its best. At the end of the day, my legs felt the best (i.e. least tense and stiff) that they’ve felt in ages, so I think it was the right call.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I sort of thought I’d bounce back from yoga day and be ready for intensity. Sadly, this was not the case.  The early morning wake up call on Tuesdays is always rough, but it felt even rougher this week. My SI and lower back were also causing me issues. My trainer has noticed that my right shoulder isn’t functioning properly again, which is causing me to strain my SI with certain types of motions. Good grief. Will my body ever function properly? I rounded out my day with not one but two naps. I told you I was tired this week.

Wednesday
Activity: mostly an unplanned rest day with some half-assed yoga
Relevant Stats: 30 min. yoga
Observations: Honestly, I was going to do nothing on Wednesday. I spent most of the day dreading any kind of workout. After popping out to run an errand (at 3:00 in the afternoon, no less), I had a brief surge in energy and contemplated a run. By the time I got home, the moment had passed and I thought yoga instead. My heart and body were not in it and I abandoned course after a pretty weak 30 minutes.

Thursday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength training
Relevant Stats: 10 min. stairs + 50 min. strength
Observations:  It took everything, and I mean everything, to get me to the gym. I had no interest in going. Once again, an early morning trip into the city had left me tired and unmotivated. I forced myself to the gym and somehow managed to stick it for an hour. If I’m honest, it wasn’t a great workout. I wasn’t drenched in sweat by the end, so there was little pushing it. Oh, also, there may have been another afternoon nap. WTF.

Friday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7.5 km (!)
Observations: I expected today’s run to be short-lived and painful so I meant most of the morning dreading it. Sometimes the universe hands you a most unexpected good run, and today was that day. All things considered (tiredness, still-not-so-great-SI, mental state, etc.), it felt pretty good and I was able to run a reasonable distance (for me these days).  I do enjoy when my workout week ends on a high note.

There is no hiding the fact that this was a piss poor week for workouts. I can only hope that whatever crippling source of exhaustion struck me this week disappears as quickly as it came. If it is just allergies, all I have to say is:

Pollen, if I’m unfairly blaming you for my tiredness, I’m sorry. But chances are, it’s you.

TWIR #60: arms good, runs bad

My arms resumed normal function this week, which meant some seriously great strength workouts. But, because the universe likes to keep things in balance, my running hasn’t been great.  Trade offs.  Perhaps one day I will hit my workout groove again. Until then, let’s see what the week had in store.

Saturday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: one successful layer cake for mother’s day dinner
Observations: I did my first crumb coat on a cake and now I understand why they are essential. For the first time, I had a cleanly frosted cake without a single speck of cake crumb marring its surface. Win.

Sunday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 70 min.
Observations:  I was so excited to integrate my arms back into my strength workouts that I stayed at the gym longer than an hour, even though I was trying to get home for the final round of the Players Championship. Thank goodness for PVRs.

Monday
Activity: cardio + strength
Relevant Stats: 30 min. stairs + 40 min. strength
Observations: I intended to run but it was absolutely pissing rain and, somewhere along the way, the thought of running in torrential rain has become completely unpalatable to me. I opted for the gym, which everyone else had also done, which meant it was crazy busy and also smelled particularly ripe.  Nonetheless, I managed a solid cardio warm up and even more strength training. These arms will get strong if it’s the last thing I do.

Tuesday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 31 pitiful minutes
Observations: This was the worst run I’ve had in months. We broke our no wine on weeknights rule on Monday, and I swear this bad run can be fully attributed to drinking half a bottle of wine. Though I love my wine, I am certain it impacts the quality of my sleep which, in turn, impacts my workouts. I managed a half hour, but let me tell you there were a lot of breaks-disguised-as-needing-to-check-my-phone. Terrible.

Wednesday
Activity: personal training session
Relevant Stats: 60 min.
Observations: I was petrified of returning to my trainer. I told her my arms hurt for 4-5 days and her response was a glib “Oh yeah, usually people’s arms will hurt for a week, but it gets better the next time you do that exercise”. I took this to mean I’d have to revisit the dreaded arm exercise, and I was right. Thankfully, I did fewer reps this week and seemed to emerge from the workout with a functioning upper body. What fears me about my trainer is how excited she’s getting at my upper body progress. I have no issue with her increasing weight and complexity with my lower body, but anything related to my upper body is terror inducing.  I think she smells my fear.

Thursday
Activity: cardio + strength
Relevant Stats: 25 min. stairs + 60 min. strength
Observations: The one good thing about receiving a call that your car is going to cost you $2081 was that it lead to a good workout. I used my cardio warmup to try to work out my mild panic at dropping so much coin while unemployed, and then used the strength workout to manage my frustration at being completely unmotivated to change my employment situation. The result was one of my best workouts.

Friday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 45 min.
Observations: Don’t let the fact that this run was 24 minutes longer than Tuesday’s run lead you to believe it felt any better. It felt slow, sluggish and unpleasant start to finish. Plus, now that there’s even a semblance of Spring warmth in the air, I have turned into the world’s sweatiest runner. Seriously, it was maybe 14 degrees outside and I was a bucket of sweat. Ugh.

What’s that thing that runners always say? Something like, it’s the bad runs that make the good runs feel so good. I think that’s crap but I’m going to say it to myself today in hopes that next week brings some decent running to the table.  Until then, I’m going to get my long weekend on, which hopefully will involve all manner of sins like: wine, oceanside fish and chips, riverside walks with beer breaks, and gelato. Happy weekend y’all.

TWIR #59: The pain!

This week was all putting up with minor pain. This whole aging body thing is super uncool, if you ask me.  I used to bounce back like a champ. Sigh. Still, I managed to get back to some decent workouts, and a triumphant post-ankle-sprain return to running. Wahoo!

Saturday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 30 min.
Observations: I initially wrapped my ankle for some extra support but it was dull aching within minutes. I tried unwrapping it to see if it would help, and it did, but only temporarily. Most of this run was very unpleasant for my poor ankle so I cut it pretty short. However, I’m giving major props to myself for running at all. We were out for birthday lunch and celebrations which involved a gargantuan amount of eating and not getting home until 4:30. The cards were stacked against me for fitting in a workout at all. Also, if you were wondering, eating large quantities of rice and noodles and all things deliciously Cambodian and Vietnamese does not make for a good run.

Sunday
Activity: strength training
Relevant Stats: 85 min.
Observations: After downing a pecan mudslide Saturday night, I knew I had to fit in a good workout. My ankle was still a bit achy, so I opted to avoid the cardio. I did a killer strength training workout that left my glutes with intense DOMS.

Monday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7 km
Observations: Thankfully my ankle seemed back to normal by Monday (i.e. I beat it into submission with the last two day’s workouts), so I hit the road for another run.  Though my ankle was fine, this run was still tough. I am constantly amazed by how much running fitness I’ve lost over the last year. I’m not sure why it surprises me since I really haven’t worked hard to rebuild my cardio fitness, yet it does.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training session + short cardio session
Relevant Stats: 60 min. training + 20 min. spin
Observations: Sweet holy hell. After one day of pain-free running, my trainer took me to a whole new world of upper body pain.  All it took was four sets of three hanging exercises. I would try to explain them in writing but I am certain it would be incredibly confusing. Suffice it to say, my arms were jello by the end of the workout and continued to worsen throughout the day. Even picking up a glass of water hurt.

Wednesday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 7.5 km
Observations: You wouldn’t think that running could possibly hurt your arms, but you would be wrong. I awoke to such a stiff upper body (arms, shoulders, neck and even around my rib cage) that I knew that strength training was out of the question. Since running is predominantly a lower body activity, I thought it would be safe. I was wrong. Every swing of the arms was excruciating. Damn you, personal trainer, damn you.

Thursday
Activity: cardio warm up + strength
Relevant Stats: 20 min. stairs + 45 min. strength
Observations: My arms. My poor arms. They were still in a world of pain, yet I still cautiously ventured to the gym aiming to work my lower half. The problem with this approach is that most of my lower body activities still require carrying weights with my arms. I tried my best to avoid engaging my biceps, which are the most tender of the muscle groups, but only time will tell if this was successful. I rewarded myself with an IKEA frozen yogurt which I recall being about 10x bigger than what I was served. It was a highly disappointing reward, especially since I had to endure IKEA crowds just to get it.

Friday
Activity: run
Relevant Stats: 41 min.
Observations:  This is my first 3-run week in months! I am trying not to overdue it with distance until I see how my SI responds, which was particularly easy today  since, between yesterday’s leg and glute workout and the fact that it still hurts to swing my arms, I was in full-body exhaustion and discomfort. I cannot WAIT for a rest day tomorrow.

Until then, there’s Friday wine and hours and hours of Players Championship golf to catch up on. Happy Friday to me.

TWIR #56: Evil Ankle Strikes Again

As predicted last week, my week of workouts got off to a pretty poor start care of my parent’s visit. It’s not really fair to blame them. They would’ve been fine with me ditching them for a workout or two. Nonetheless, the weekend turned out to be a write-off.  I tried to bounce back during the week but I have to admit my motivation has still been lacking.  I consider myself fortunate that I’ve built a strong, habitual pattern of working out or I’m sure I would’ve abandoned exercise entirely these last few weeks. As it is, the quality and duration of most of my workouts isn’t what I hoped it would be by now. And then, then there was the whole ankle thing….

Let’s get this over with.

Saturday
Activity: unplanned rest day
Relevant Stats: 16 km of walking + one gelato + fish and chips
Observations: Well, at least I walked a lot right? Just ignore the fact that we had waffles for breakfast, that we ate gelato mid-afternoon, and that I ate my weight in fish and chips. Oh, and then there was the wine…So, yeah, all that walking did nothing.

Sunday
Activity: planned rest day
Relevant Stats: 12 km walking + deep fried pickles
Observations:  Once again, there was a lot of walking…but coupled with a lot of eating and drinking. There was another big breakfast (eggs and home-made hot cross buns). There was beer and deep fried pickles. There was apple crumble with ice cream. On the plus side, despite having a giant basket of Easter candy (that, yes, my parents still hid for me), I didn’t touch a single piece!

Monday
Activity: cardio warm up + strength
Relevant Stats: 25 min. stairs + 45 min. strength
Observations: Determined to get back to exercise, I got up early and hit the gym. I fit in a pretty decent workout before heading home, hosting lunch for six, and then cooking one last family dinner while my parents were in town. If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice it was yet another day that revolved around food. What can I say? My family likes to eat.

Tuesday
Activity: Run!!!
Relevant Stats: 7.75 km
Observations: I had a couple important meetings in the afternoon and wanted to clear my head with a nice little run.  It worked. I was sluggish all morning but managed a decent run. My legs felt like lead for the first 20 minutes but I ran them into submission.

Wednesday
Activity: cardio warm up + personal training session
Relevant Stats: 20 min. spin + 60 min. personal training
Observations: I got to my trainer’s studio way early so I hit the gym for a bit of pre-session spin. Of course I did this on the day when my trainer had me doing 100 lb deadlifts and RUNNING with 110 pounds on the prowler. Oh, we also did more hanging exercises, which I despise, partly because they’re giving me calluses on the pads of my hands. Blech.

Thursday
Activity: cardio + strength
Relevant Stats: 30 min. spin + 30 min. strength
Observations: It was a miracle I made it to the gym. It was a total sad sack day for me, and I wanted nothing more than to stay home all day doing absolutely nothing. However, I had a meeting I had to go to, so I figured I might as well work out beforehand. It wasn’t a great workout, and my legs and arms were still killing me from my personal training session, but I did it.

Friday
Activity: Run(ish)
Relevant Stats: 7 km + 1 rolled ankle (wah waaaaah)
Observations:  I was feeling good today. I was having a great run, in fact. The sun was shining, the air was warm, I was finally running without a jacket (!!!!) and it was glorious. Until I turned my ankle on a rock and catapulted myself forward. Thankfully no one was around to witness the spectacle as my arms windmilled in efforts to keep me from bailing. The only thing that saved me from a total face plant on the gravel path was a wooden post. I was able to brace myself against it. Damn you weak ankles! I suppose this means a week or two without running. Just when I was feeling good about things…

As I sit here RICE-ing my sad ankle, I can only give this week a:

 

 

Throwback Thursday: One Year Injury-versary

Today, I flash back to a very unexpected, very unpleasant, and very humbling day in my fitness history.  It may seem strange to celebrate an injury, but there can be a lot of learning and self-reflection that comes from grappling with a long term injury and that, in my opinion, is worthy of at least acknowledgement.

Almost exactly one year ago, on April 14th, 2016, I went for a standard lunch-break run on the seawall. I had just returned from a short, four-day Disneyland (!!!) vacation during which I had not exercised at all, unless you count the 20-25 km per day of walking.  Prior to my trip, however, I was going full-steam with my ultra marathon training. So on this day in April 2016, I was feeling ready to dive back into my ultra training with a vengeance. I was feeling strong. I was feeling fit.  I was feeling like my six-month ultra training plan was going to be no big deal.

And then, 7.5 km into my run, a runner’s disaster struck: instant, excruciating pain. It was a familiar pain, though more intense than it had been in the past. I knew it was my SI instantly.  I stopped running, walking for a solid 30 seconds to see if it was just a blip, but the second I resumed running I knew I was done for the day.  I walked back to the office, not altogether upset. In my mind, I would simply make a physio appointment for some laser therapy, and I’d be back on track with my running within the week. And I was! That is, until I pushed too hard too fast and really made a mess of my SI.  Two weeks after the original injury, I was almost unable to walk for a full week.

One year later, I am still not back on track with my running. I’m thankful I am at least able to run again, despite the distance and speed being in a whole other league (and not in the good way) than pre-injury. Finally, though, finally I feel like I am capable of making real progress again. It will still be a long road to getting back to my old speed and distances, but I believe it’s possible. If you had asked me that six months ago, I promise you I wouldn’t have felt that confident.

In no uncertain terms, it has been a constantly challenging year. For a long while, I felt like I had lost a sizeable portion of my identity–the runner and hiker that I’d know myself to be for the last decade was forced to become a gym rat.  I honestly had moments in which it felt like I was mourning a version of myself I might never see again. In other words, there were some dark times.  One year later, and at last feeling on the road to true recovery, I can say that, if nothing else, this injury has changed me in a number of ways for the better.

Most notably, I have become less neurotically obsessed with how hard, fast and long my workouts are.  I used to be the girl who felt like she wasn’t going for a real hike if it wasn’t at least 20 km return, preferably with at least 800 m of elevation gain. I hiked every single weekend, and virtually any other day off. During my most hard-core running phases, I didn’t feel good unless my Saturday run was at least 20 km.  Now, I am content with a solid hour’s workout, having known a world where I couldn’t do anything at all for weeks on end.

I have learned to be patient with healing. Until this year, any time I was injured, I would push the limits of healing to get back to activities as soon as humanly possible. I’d wrap a sprained ankle within an inch of it’s life or rock the dreaded SI belt, even though it had to be so tight it would painfully chafe my flesh, just to stabilize myself enough to get in a workout. Nothing was going to get in my workout’s way.  Now, I am content with slow progress, with seeing consistent gains and with knowing I’m building a much stronger foundation for the future. I am willing to pull back when my body isn’t feeling right. I am finally playing the long game.

So today, I wish myself a happy injury-versary.  My injury isn’t fully gone yet, but I am ready to make peace with it, and to respect it for at least bringing more balance and calmness into my life, both of which were much needed.  I’ll raise a glass to that (because you better bet I am celebrating with wine).

Training Tuesdays: How to Learn to Like (not love) Running

I’m fairly certain it’s clear from my blog that I’m not a passionate runner. I am an accidental runner and one who continues to run almost exclusively for the fitness factor, and corresponding ability to increase my candy intake. At any rate, I am the least likely person to tell you that you should learn to love running, in part because I don’t think running is for everyone, but also because I do not love running. I do it, and I have learned to appreciate it. So if you want to start running but fear the hard sell from uber running enthusiasts, let me give you an honest, no-holds-barred take on learning to appreciate–not love–running.

There are a lot of ways to get fit and build cardiovascular endurance. The best thing you can do for yourself is find some means of exercise that you love and stick with it. Running is good because, theoretically at least, anyone can do it and you can do it anywhere and with almost no specialized gear or equipment.  If that’s why running appeals to you, but you can’t seem to find a way to like running, this post is for you.

Here are my simple rules for learning to like/appreciate, but never love, running:

1.Don’t expect to love it: Seriously, forget all that crap you hear from your uber runner friends who tell you it’s the greatest high and the most fun you’ll ever have and how utterly and completely fantastic running is. These are lies, or at least they are lies to non-runners.  You know that expression “to each his own”? It means that different people have different ways of seeing the world. Those that truly love running see it in a way that non-runners simply cannot. If you let go of the expectation to love running, you can learn to respect and appreciate it for what it is:  one of many good ways to get and stay fit.

2. Accept that it will not be easy at first:  It’s likely that either your cardiovascular endurance or your muscle strength is going to be a barrier at first, depending on how active you have been and with what types of activities. But let me save you wondering if you can easily go from one type of activity to running without it being a difficult transition. The answer is no. Nothing makes running easier except for running. The simple recipe is that the more you run, the easier it gets. Lower your expectations and accept that your muscles and/or lungs will not be happy at first.

3. Don’t try to run with your runner friends: Nothing has quite the same de-motivating effect as running with fleet-footed and fit runners.  Even if they slow their pace for you, you’ll know you’re holding them back and the fact that you’re practically wheezing while they carry on a full-blown conversation like they’re not even moving will fill you with inner rage. Okay, maybe the inner rage part is just me, but certainly it’s not helpful, nor are there attempts at cheering you on with plucky motivation.  You do not need a cheerleader to make you feel like a less fit or capable runner. Go out on your own, or at least with other running newbies.

4. Start slow, build slow: We all have that friend who’s run a half marathon without training and without ever really being a runner. Guess what? That’s not most people. Start slow. You’ll feel a lot better about running 2k when you aren’t aiming for an unrealistic 1ok run when you haven’t run in years (or maybe ever).  When you have a good 2k run, don’t try to jump to 10k. Early confidence is great, but build your distance slowly and you’ll be more likely to avoid a demoralizing setback. Most humans take time to build up to 1/2 marathons. That friend of yours (and mine) who went couch to half-marathon is a freakish anomaly.

5. People will pass you and you will feel like a tortoise and that is normal: I get that no one wants to feel like the slowest runner on the planet. For the longest time, I was so self-conscious of my loud breathing (read: wheezing) and plodding footsteps, that I would actually stop running in the presence of gazelle-like runners. Everyone has to start somewhere.  Ultimately, this too is about managing expectations. Don’t expect to be the fastest runner out there on day one. Know that you’ll be passed, a lot, and especially when you’re going up hills. One day this may not be the case, but even if it is there’s no law that says runners have to be fast. I am the shining example of this. I’ve been running for over a decade and I am still slow as molasses.

6. That endorphin crap is…crap:  Okay, that’s not a fair statement. I genuinely believe that some runners experience the “runners high”, otherwise known as an endorphin rush. Personally, I have yet to finish a run feeling anything other than tired and glad it’s over. Sure, I have felt a sense of accomplishment and pride for being disciplined enough to run when I don’t really want to, but I don’t consider that the same thing as a euphoric high.  Once I accepted that feeling accomplished was good enough for me, I let go of my desperate search for positivity inducing endorphins (whoa, that was a mouthful).

7. Don’t make running your only thing: Even runners will tell you they occasionally suffer from running fatigue, which can be either physical or mental.  They say it’s best not to put all your eggs in one basket, and that’s just as true with running. Find another activity to use on the days when the thought of running makes you want to set your running shoes on fire just so you have an excuse not to run.

I can’t promise you these rules will work for you, but they may help you get to a place of accepting running as a part of your life more than just expecting running to be your true love. Join me in tolerating running like you tolerate that weird co-worker who means you no harm, and who you actually learn to appreciate over time, but is never going to be your best friend.  It’s really not as bad as it sounds.

TWIR #53: In a Good Flow

This week in training, I was able to increase the time devoted to my workouts, which means that my body is tired. My spirit, on the other hand, is high because despite more time and more workouts, my body is holding itself together. That is definite cause for celebration, most likely to be in the form of wine this weekend!

Saturday
Activity: Hike
Relevant Stats: 11 km return, 400 m elevation gain
Observations: Oh. My. God. I need to hit the trails more often. This “hike” should not have been difficult in the slightest but, let me tell you, my legs were not interested in going uphill.  At all.

Sunday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength
Relevant Stats: 30 min. walk/run + 60 min. strength
Observations: I tackled my fear of sciatica head on after 15 minutes of incline walking and decided nothing, not even pain, could be worse than treadmill walking for another second. Thankfully I was able to run without any sign of sciatica. I was so fired up from 15 minutes of running that I stuck around for a full hour of strength training. Three cheers for getting back to 90 minute workouts.

Monday
Activity: Run
Relevant Stats: 7ish km
Observations: I was going to make this my rest day, and in hindsight I should have. I had a crappy meeting in the afternoon that put me in a positively fowl mood. I tried to run it off, but sometimes running is not the right medicine. I struggled through 4 miles and called it a day.

Tuesday
Activity: personal training + cardio
Relevant Stats: 60 min. training session + 2o minutes stairs/rowing/stretching
Observations: I was choked to see that my most favourite gym location had yet to fix the broken spin bike and, to add insult to injury, took away the second spin bike.  I was planning to add on a good post-training-session spin ride,  but couldn’t handle the spin bike whose seat falls down every five minutes.  I had to settle for stairs and some rowing, both of which I loathe. Still, another session longer than 60 minutes was a win.

Wednesday
Activity: spin + strength
Relevant Stats: 45 min. spin + 45 minutes strength
Observations: The second spin bike was back!!!! Hallelujah! I was super excited…until I actually started spinning and realized that my legs were still damn tired. It didn’t help that I was on day number two of super early mornings and wanted nothing more than to be back in bed. I consider it a major feat that I was able to last an hour and a half.

Thursday
Activity: cardio warmup + strength
Relevant Stats: 10 min. incline walking/rowing + 50 minutes strength
Observations:  Day three of early mornings and the perplexing removal of the second spin bike (seriously, why do they keep taking it away?!?!) left me grumpy and unmotivated. I managed an hour, and it was a fairly high quality workout, but I was not happy about it. Also, my arms were done like dinner by the end of this one.

Friday
Activity: Hike
Relevant Stats: 4 km return, 330 m elevation gain
Observations: I was dead set on having a good, old-fashioned, lazy rest day today since I really haven’t had one yet this week. I was in my pajamas until 12:30 with zero intention of getting out of them. But a friend of mine was persistent in urging me to join her for a quick hike. I had no good reason not to go, other than my laziness (which I personally feel would’ve been a perfectly acceptable reason) so I acquiesced. I admit I had zero enthusiasm for it but, as with most workouts, as soon as it was done I was happy I’d gone.  Now I can reward myself with wine tonight and one hell of a lazy rest day tomorrow.

All in all, I’m starting to feel good about my progress. I feel like I’m on the path to a good hiking season if I can just get my endurance back to its old levels. Although my workouts are longer these days, I’m not spending nearly enough time focused on cardio endurance. I’m still finding it difficult to get excited about using cardio machines at the gym, and the weather has most definitely not been cooperating for hitting the trails (think rain for weeks on end). Also, these are all excuses. Before I start getting all negative, let’s focus on the good because this week I’m: