Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Further musings on the race and racing

Some thoughts on "racing"
So I did my first real race. And it was good--definitely an experience I'm glad I did! It was an exciting event to be a part of, and mostly I was just happy that my mom got to see me run. Dan sees me come home sweaty from my runs multiple times a week, but my mom hasn't really seen me run since I've only gotten into it in the past year. I was excited to show her what I had been working towards and help her understand the whole scene.

I completely failed to get a picture of me with my mom on
 race day, so you get to see this one again.
But beyond that...I don't know. I haven't really told my whole former-chubster-gets-into-running tale on the blog yet (coming soonish!), so it is a little hard to explain. I had built up running a race as such an EVENT in my mind. That all the sudden I would feel like a real runner and would be part of the ranks of all those effortless track girls. Obviously this didn't happen. Even though I finished, and in what felt like a respectable time, it didn't make me feel more authentic or more like I belonged in the running world. I just felt like...okay, I did my weekly long run with some other people this week. Not anything life changing.

I also expected to get the "racing bug" that everyone talks about. And that didn't really happen either...I came home and was excited to have finished but just kind of moved on to the next thing mentally. I did start tossing the idea of signing up for a 5k around in my mind because I'm interested in testing my speed a bit. I got as far as looking up some local races, but I couldn't commit to the idea of putting money down for one. I just kept returning to the notion of why pay money for this when I get just as much out of running solo. 

That all being said...signing up for the race is 100% what caused me to follow through with my training for the 10k and is what helped me push myself past that 3-4 mile hump. If I hadn't made a public declaration (here and in real life) that I was doing a 10k, I would have felt comfortable slacking on my training or bailing on the race. So I am glad I did it for that reason, and would recommend that others struggling with motivation do the same. I'll probably sign up for another race for the same reason in the future--I'm toying with the idea of a 10 miler in 2013. 

But I discovered that I'm not one of those people that will be looking for a race to do every month--not interested in racing just for the sake of doing a race. Which a little bit surprised me! I'm fairly competitive, and I generally like being able to measure my progress and to evaluate myself against external benchmarks. But somehow running has become more personal than that. Racing too much and constantly trying to beat my times would somehow feeling like I'm tainting it? Turning this truly relaxing and rewarding activity that is all mine into another thing to try and succeed at and that others can use to measure progress. There is something particularly comforting in doing it without external pressures and just for me. 

Thoughts on the MCM 10k
My thoughts can be pretty much summarized in what I said to Dan after the fact: "I don't want to do another race where I'm running the sideshow event to the main race." The 10k is clearly an afterthought on MCM weekend--as it should be, seeing as the marathon had about 4 times as many finishers. But that made being in the 10k kind of sucky. Not enough portapotties, not enough (or really much at all) crowd interest, shitty course, eagerness to clear us out to make way for the marathoners...meh. If I'm going to shell out the cash to run a race (and deal with the crowds of a major race vs. a local one), I'd rather feel like I'm part of the actual event, not just the warm up act. But now I know!

Also, our shirts were hideous. Cotton long sleeves with mock turtleneck. Mock turtleneck! Why. At the least the medals were awesome! 

Man, nothing since the 10k. The first couple of days I was stilted by Hurricane Sandy* and the corresponding laziness of being cooped up inside and working from home. And yesterday I started to develop a cold! It seems to be peaking today, so I'm hoping it clears up for the most part by the weekend. I'd like to get a run in. 

*My thoughts are with everyone re: Hurricane Sandy, of course. I feel like that should go without saying, but I also feel like I'm not allowed to mention Sandy without saying that. So, there you go. Hope everyone is safe!

Today's eats
I made that kale/apple/red onion Real Simple recipe (sans bacon) again last night. Just a really tasty side that reheats well! I ate it with a grilled cheese (with pickles) tonight for dinner--that grilled cheese totally hit the spot. Followed by lots of Milk Duds and Whoppers. Best candies ever that little kids seem to hate. Oops. More for me. 
Grilled cheese and pickles. Sandwich of champions.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

MCM 10k Recap!

First race--check! It was a great experience. Starting on race day AM--

My mom and I rode the metro in from Virginia. It actually wasn't as bad as I expected it to be, crowds-wise--I think the marathon people all got there earlier. We got off at the Smithsonian metro stop and followed the crowds to the mall. There I made a beeline for the portapotties, but sill was greeted with huge lines. My mom guessed around 750 people, and I think that sounds right. Not enough of them!

I was still in line when the official start happened but close to the front, so I decided to stick it out. Others started to abandon, but I knew I would be in a later corral anyway so I wasn't concerned. I finally got in there and came out to them shouting over the megaphones "one minute until we take away the timing mats!" I shoved my stuff into my mom's arms and started sprinting toward the start. And I made it! [Sidenote--this was only at 8:15 AM and the race started at 7:55. I really didn't think it would close down that fast, especially since they could see how long the portapotty lines were!]

And then I started running. One unexpected perk of literally sprinting to make the cutoff was that it was initially pretty uncrowded. Not too much weaving to be able to pass people. I came around the mall after the first half mile and saw my mom! After that she hopped on the metro to meet me at the end, so I was happy that she was able to see me run at least a little bit, even toward the beginning.

After the mall, the rest of the course was a lot of this:
So much highway
Never having done a road race before, I'm not sure if this was typical? They did break it up with groups of marines along the course! They were very friendly and eager to give high fives. But there weren't a ton of spectators beyond that--some groups of cow people (not sure what their cause was, but they all had cowbells) and occasionally a few others. I had been dreading the turning/weaving in Crystal City (I tend to prefer to run straight) but that ended up being my favorite part of the course because there were spectators and music! Shout out to Lululemon for having a great crowd.

I might be selling the course short--I honestly don't remember a ton of it beyond the highway ramps and bridges, but the map shows me there might be more I'm forgetting. I was focused on running and weaving. After the first 1.5 miles I started to catch up to the bigger group of people and had to do a bit more weaving than I had expected (seeing as I am slow and usually the one being passed, not doing the passing. I ended up with an extra .14 mile, according to my watch). I was really surprised how many walkers there were at the race. Lots of people walking in honor of someone, etc. Definitely a meaningful race for a lot of people.

I wish I could give a mile by mile play by play, but it honestly all kind of blends together a few days out. With about 1.5 mile remaining, I realized that beating 1:10 (my A+ goal!) was feasible and got my head in the game. I wouldn't let it feel easy--that was when I really started to feel like I was participating in a race, not just a regular long run. It was exciting!

And finally, I came to Rosslyn. All of my "on the course" proofed photos look like this:
where I'm slightly looking up. I'm nearly positive that is because they were all taken right at the end (notice the crowds in the background) before the massive hill that leads up to the monument. I'm just so clearly thinking "you have got to be fucking kidding me" in all of them. But I did it! And I finished.

I honestly thought I would cry when it was over, but I held it together. (I'll do a second post on my takeaways/thoughts on doing my first race). The closest I came was when I got teary as the marine placed the medal around my neck and told me congratulations.

[Side note: people that know me in real life know that I'm not much of a military worshipper. Don't get me wrong, I'm immensely grateful for what they do and how they serve our country, but I sometimes think that the constant adulation they receive is a little much, especially when compared to others (e.g. paramedics, doctors, firefighters) that also save lives. That being said, I was truly touched by the significance of this race for many people--so many people running in memory of someone. There was a moment at the beginning of the race when we were all waiting for the portapotties and the race was starting. It was loud and jovial and then the Marines starting singing the National Anthem. A hush fell over the crowd, and I had this moment of...ohh, I get it. Awe and gratitude and a sense of being part of something.]

I want to buy this photo if they can remove crazy pink lady.
Bam. I did it.
Chip time
Coming in to the race, I knew it was only my first, so I didn't really need to set any goals. Finishing and not getting picked up by the course-clearing truck would be an accomplishment. But a little part of me knew I had a bit more in me than that. So I told my mom on the metro ride there: "I'll be happy if I finish in under 1:20, but I think I might be able to go for under 1:10." To which she just told me to have fun and finish. But I beat my goal! I'm so happy with that time. 11:09 average pace (although 10:55 when you account for my phone's distance measurement of 6.34 miles, not 6.2). Here are my splits:
miPace (min/mi)Elevation (ft)

I feel like I ran a solid race--relatively even splits! So proud to wear that medal:

Lots more to come on my thoughts on finishing my first race, whether I've got the "racing bug", and what my new running plan is. But for now I'm enjoying thinking of myself as a 10k finisher!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A series of unfortunate events (and a weekly workout summary)

The most unfortunate

Sooo long story short, Dan broke his arm. It happened on Tuesday and is a bad break. He's recooping okay (and being a good patient!), and we will know more about what the next few months will bring at his doctor's appointment tomorrow. So I've been mostly helping him (my job offers the flexibility to work from home) and have not been thinking about blog posts!

Smaller issues

I broke my laptop cord (Dan has an extra laptop that I'm borrowing for the time being!), I'm stressed about grad school apps, the apartment is a mess, and I feel like there are a bunch of nagging tasks over my head. All of this is immensely stressing me out, and I seem to be reverting to my old coping mechanisms (well, aside from drinking at least)--eating like crap and basically curling into a fetal position stress ball to ignore the things that are stressing me out (although the stress fetal position is taking the form of "watching shit tons of Law & Order" recently). The avoid, eat my feelings, and ruminate with inaction coping method. Bad!

So this week I'm hoping to reclaim things a bit. Tackle one grad school task and one nagging task (including the cleaning) per night. Just one small one. I think I can handle that.

Weekly workout summary - October 21, 2012

At the very least I've gotten in a few runs this week, though I'm regretting not having worked out today-- I think that wold have made me feel a little less stressed right now!

Monday: 45 min pilates/random internet workout videos in the apartment.

Tuesday: 4 mile run @ 10:51 min/mile average pace. Thank goodness I was relatively quick on this--I came home to Dan having broken his arm (and being unable to move/get to his phone). I felt so terrible!

Wednesday: Rest day/caring for Dan!

Thursday: Dan insisted I get out and go for a run (the man knows how to keep me sane :) ). 4 miles in 10:53 min/mile average pace. Unintentionally quick--probably just anxious to get home!

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: 7 miles @ 11:40 min/mile average pace. I did my long run close to home this week (not on the bike path), which made for some good hilly challenges. I felt pretty good about this run--not super tired at the end and relatively even paced throughout. I feel ready for next weekend's 10k!

Sunday: Skipped cross training. Ah, well, it happens. 

Total weekly mileage: 15 miles. My highest to date! Next week will be lower in an attempt to give my legs an easy week before the 10k. And in an attempt to give myself some more time to get things done!

Keeping this quick--hopefully I get back in the regular picture-taking and posting habits soon!

Monday, October 15, 2012

About that Happiness Project

Happiness Project
The Happiness Project  month on finding focus at work is going...okay. Just okay. Definitely not stellar--the end of last week was a disaster. But when it works, it works! I am focused at work, am finding my flow, etc.  But I haven't gotten it to work consistently yet.

I had additional goals this week--use the Pomodoro method to take breaks and go outside for a walk or do push ups for a break. The original idea was the have prescheduled breaks to look forward to, as opposed to just taking them when I want--which is good in theory. I'm realizing though that I probably tried to take on too many mini-goals for the month and still need to work on mastering the goals I started with. And honestly, the break thing is not really what I need--I'm still struggling with finding my focus to begin with--planned interruption doesn't seem like a good fit right now.

So with that in mind, and as I'm finding that certain things becoming more important than others, I'm going to focus on these goals for the rest of the month:
  • Planning my next day the night before. Before I leave work, I take stock of the day and what I have coming up tomorrow. This is definitely helpful for getting focused immediately at work the next day, and generally helps me clear my mind of anxiety before leaving the office.
  • Getting something done by 10 am. This is absolutely key. If I get something done before then I feel accomplished and set a focused tone for the day. If I let myself get distracted after breakfast it is hard for me to refocus until after lunch. 
  • Setting an intention for the day. This was one I didn't even include originally in my list of goals for the HP, but I'm realizing just how important it is. I literally create a post-it note every morning and set out my reason for working hard that day (...because apparently just doing my job is not sufficient incentive for me. I suck). But really, I find this so helpful--when I get distracted, I can look at my post-it and remind myself why I'm working. For the most part they tend to be related to things I want to do after work, and that's okay. Whatever gets me through the day at this point--we can work on super lofty career ambitions later.
I took pictures of several different examples of these and tried embarrassingly hard to
make a collage on one of those photo collage sites. I failed. So you get only one. 
So I'm going to track those habits for the remainder of the month, with an added one:
  • Get something done by 2 pm (after lunch). I tend to eat lunch around 12:30, done by 1 pm, and I have a hard time refocusing again after that. I'm going to try to use the morning strategy again in the afternoon. 
I will also continue to use the internet blocking program. I haven't found that to be particularly motivating, but it does serve as a reminder (and makes me feel sufficiently guilty about getting off track). 

Meh. It was raining when I got home from work today and I wimped out on running outside. Coupled with the fact my apartment gym (which is my only gym currently) has a whopping total of 3 treadmills, one of which is broke right now...and yeah. The run didn't happen. I ended up doing about 40 minutes of various workout videos--a couple of pilates ones, a dumbbell one for arms, and then topped it off with some exercises of my own. So let's call it a cross-training/strength day.

I'm determined to still get in 3 runs this week though--and luckily tomorrow's 0% chance of rain is cooperating.

Two meals to share today! Lunch was pretty simple, but I remembered to take a picture:
Except it was sideways.
Mixed greens with avocado and edamame--I always try to get the toppings chunks to show up on top of the salad for photos but when I adjust one piece the other one falls through the lettuce. Oh well. With a side of leftover pizza, which was the actually filling part of the meal.

But dinner was the real star of the show today. I followed this recipe from Real Simple, though halving it, because that is a lot of food. I had made it once before and knew it was tasty. I probably could have cooked my kale a little longer to give my jaw a break, but it was really good and garnered lots of leftovers. I also roasted up some butternut squash because I needed to use it up so I threw some in there too.
Topped with pesto and toasted walnuts!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekly Workout Summary - October 14, 2012

Weekly workout summary

I'm going to make this quick! I spent a fair amount of my Sunday watching the Bills game in DC with my friend Jess (we won, woohoo!). Lots of fun, but means I'm shorter on time than I usually am on Sundays!

I battled some knee pain after my long run last week, so this week only included two runs. I still tried to stay active on my usual days though!

Monday: 3.5 miles @ 11:05 min/mile pace. Battled some knee pain here but mentally/cardiovascularly felt good.

Tuesday: Rest day.

Wednesday: Should have been a run day, was a failed cross-training day instead. Mostly just did strength training.

Thursday: Skipped yoga for fear it would be tough on my knee--did about 30 min of pilates at home using some random web videos. I should start doing these on Tuesday (and go back to yoga on Thursday)--they were easy enough to do at home quickly before starting dinner, but not so tough that it would defeat the purpose of having an easier day.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Awesome, new PDR-setting long run! 7 miles @ 11:45 min/mi average pace.

Sunday: I went to yoga in the park this AM! Took a nice 75 min yoga class at 9 am this morning. It was a new instructor for me (though from the same studio I normally go to), and it was a more strength-style class, as opposed to more vinyasa flow like I'm used to. Think lots of chair holds, planks, lunge holds, etc. It did a good job of keeping us warm in the slightly nippy weather. But it was awesome to be outside--we practice to the left of these fountains:

Good way to start the day.
The best part was that my knee was actually feeling BETTER after yoga. I didn't push myself too hard, but the stiffness that was there in my knee beforehand ended up disappearing by the end of class. Unexpected but I'll take it!

Total weekly mileage: 10.5

My goals for this week workout-wise are just to get through the week injury free and with some miles under my belt. I am really starting to get a sense of how soon the race is--I just want to be able to run it!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Low key weekend

Low key weekend so far

Weekend so far has been good! Dan hasn't been feeling well so it has been low key, but we've still be enjoying ourselves. Last night we stayed in and watched Beetlejuice, which is an incredibly odd movie. It was one of Dan's childhood favorites (or rather one of his sister's, so he just watched it a lot) and I had never seen it. It really is incredibly weird--not just regular Tim Burton weird, but also just kind of oddly paced and using random music. But still fun/funny!

Such an odd ending.
Image source
Today I did my long run (report below) and then we went to lunch and checked out the new Target! I am way too excited for the Target. The grand opening is tomorrow (obviously I will be going again), but they did a soft open earlier this week. It is a really nice store and they had a lot of "new store discounts," which really serve to entice me to buy things I don't need, which is pretty much the entire purpose of Target.

Then I hit Trader Joe's solo because Dan needed to rest, poor guy. This was a mistake though. I had just received the new "Fearless Flyer" that they send out in the mail and decided that I needed ALL THE PUMPKIN. Seriously. I left with way too much, but that's how it always goes with Trader Joe's (and why I don't do my weekly shopping there--well that, and Wegmans is awesome).


Long run today! I hadn't run since Monday due to the knee pain, so I was looking forward to this. I covered 7 miles today--another new personal distance record [PDR--spelled out at Dan's recommendation :)]. The weather was FANTASTIC. Seriously like 20 degrees cooler than last week--cold at the beginning but I warmed up! I got to break out the long sleeves again:

Don't mind the messy bathroom. I was trying to
show off the thumb holes but just look odd!
I ran the whole thing in 1:22:15--for an average pace of 11:45 min/mile. Not bad! The knee held up for the most part--I'd describe it as discomfort, not true pain (I had told myself if I felt anything like true pain or shooting that I would quit). It'll depend on how I'm feeling, but right now I'm thinking that I can just resume a normal running schedule. The significant amount of rest didn't really make it feel much better, and running on it didn't make it feel worse. So who knows.

I am mad at myself about one thing though--a girl approached me while I was running to chat (about the tights I was wearing) and we talked for about a mile. She ended up moving past because she was faster than me.But I didn't end up getting her contact info! No I wasn't trying to hit on her, but I did want to friend hit on her (that still sounds creepy). I have been trying to make fitness friends in the area! Oh well, hopefully I'll see her out the trail again, and if Beth sees this, shoot me an email!

Post run car thumbs up (that is cut off):

I don't normally wear a headband when I run, but I thought it could
double as an ear warmer in a pinch today! (Unnecessary)

Beer reviews

I've tried a couple beers in the last few days (insert usual caveat that I am no beer expert, just interested in documenting what I like)--

Schlafly Pumpkin Ale (bottle): Drinking this right now actually! Almost done. I like this a fair amount. Definitely more of a dessert beer, not something to be consumed with food. The pumpkin spice is strong, and it has a good amount of sweetness. But I don't know...I actually don't love this?! In years past, I've been somewhat fixated on pumpkin beer, but this year it isn't really hitting the spot for me--not beer-y enough. Is it possible that my palette has matured beyond pumpkin beers? But still, this is a very solid pumpkin beer--strong pumpkin pie taste with a nice amount of sweetness. The flavor is really there--I'd say this sets the pumpkin beer standard, if that's your thing. Woah, and surprisingly strong, just looked up the ABV (8.0%). You don't really taste that!

New Belgium Brewery Trippel (bottle): Shared this with Dan on Thursday night (debates require drinking--actually thats a lie, we were watching something else and only tuned in for the second half). I wasn't in love with this, but it was very drinkable. The bottle said it had tastes of coriander, but I must not know what coriander tastes like. Had a nice fruity grassy mix. I wouldn't seek it out again, but wouldn't turn it down at a party!

Harpoon Octoberfest (bottle): Consumed on Thursday. I was really surprised at how much I liked this beer because I can really go either way with Octoberfest beers. It had a nice malty taste balanced by the hops--some spice flavor that I couldn't place but very much enjoyed. Incidentally, other people online seem to really not like how this beer finishes ("astringent" seems to be the word of choice), but I didn't have that complaint at all. I'd get this again!


Not much too exciting on this front. Tonight Dan and I did our homemade pizza (with premade crust). On half the pizza, I did a mozzarella/ricotta/pesto combo, and on the other half, I used the rest of my kale/apple/red onion saute leftovers and topped it with some brie. This was surprisingly tasty! Definitely a fun way to use up leftovers.
I forgot to take a picture until I was halfway through.
Browsing my phone also reveals a picture of the lunch I had on both Thursday and Friday:

Mixed greens topped with edamame, goat cheese, and sweet potato that was warmed in the microwave. Great combination--I liked how the warmed sweet potato made the greens slightly warm. Then on the side I had my favorite combo--cottage cheese on Triscuits (the thin crisp kind). So tasty.

Annnd right now I think I have some TJ's pumpkin ice cream on the horizon...

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An attempt at cross training

Cross-training fail
So tonight would have been my normal run night, but I knew my knee was still nagging me and decided to rest up. This made me grumpy. So I decided to attempt to cross train at my teeny apartment gym. This was largely a bust. I tried to use the bike (there is only one and it is a recumbent style) and noticed the knee pain immediately (when I was bending my knee). Then I tried the elliptical, which started out okay but after moving the knee for about 8 minutes I noticed the pain and got off. And then I just did arm and core weights. Blehhh. I barely got sweaty.

I think the thing that I'm the most frustrated with (besides being nervous about the race) is that it isn't actually THAT painful. Like I said yesterday, it is only mildly painful, more like a bad discomfort. Enough that I know that I shouldn't be running on it (and to be fair it becomes more painful the more I use it), but not enough that it feels like I couldn't just go for a quick jog. But I know I should rest it and risk doing more damage if I run on it while it hurts. I'm really really hoping that I can run by this weekend--I'd love to get my long run in. RICE RICE baby. Man I'm lame.

As a side note: when did I become a person that actually looks forward to their run? Somewhere along the way the transformation happened. Right now, I think it is mostly just feeling anxiety about my first race (and wanting to be able to run to show myself I have nothing to worry about) combined with wanting to enjoy this cooler weather after slogging through DC heat all summer! That being said, I don't think I'm truly a person yet that enjoys their run just for the sake of running. If you told me tomorrow that I could lose 10 pounds, never get less healthy than I am, and life a long life without exercise, I'd probably sit on the couch all day. But I know I need to exercise and running is currently the lesser evil.

A Happiness Project update was promised, but I had an all-day work training today. Which a) means I didn't get to put my HP goals into practice and b) am really burnt out on work and can't bear to think about it anymore tonight!

See above. Lame.

Also lame. Combined leftovers--cornbread quiche from the weekend and tofu and kale from last night. Another oddly down-home-cookin' looking meal.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Knees and kale

Knee pain?
Ugh I ran on Monday and cut it short to 3.5 miles. The knee pain was definitely not good--it was barely there for the first two miles but definitely started nagging after that. Blehhhh I am so frustrated. This is my first quasi-injury since starting to run (about a year ago). I'm RICEing and trying to take care of it (though I know running on it on Monday was supremely stupid), but confused. When do people go to the doctor for this kind of thing? I would rank it as uncomfortable, not painful--it edges to painful toward the end of the run/right after/if I twist it wrong, but for the most part it is just uncomfortable. So I'm not really sure what's wrong with it. Or how long to expect it to take for it to heal. I want to run! But I need to keep my eyes on the prize. There is no reason currently that I shouldn't be healed up for the race in 2.5 weeks if I properly take care of myself, so if that means missing a few shorter runs to heal then I should. Reluctantly.

Update on the Happiness Project focus at work progress tomorrow!

Ughhh see above. 3.5 miles yesterday that felt soo good except for the whole knee thing. The weather was glorious. I got to try out my new long sleeve running top too! It is this one in a pale lavender color that I got on sale. 

Confession, I have a minor Lululemon fixation. I don't know why--I'm not a major yogi by any means, I know how terrible the company's founder was, they are overpriced...but I find it amazingly comfortable, flattering, and functional, sooo I keep buying. Anyway, the run shirt worked amazingly, so much so that I bought another in teal. It is the perfect shirt for fall weather--hopefully I'll be getting out to enjoy it more!

Today was a planned rest day. Hoping I can run tomorrow but that is definitely TBD. 

The past couple days have been mostly boring (think salads and leftovers), but tonight's dinner was quite tasty! It was my vegetarian version of a traditional meat and potatoes meal. Barbeque tofu (meh, kind of bland, I needed to let it marinade longer maybe?), roasted sweet potatoes, and some kale. I cooked the kale with red onions and apples, as in this recipe from Real Simple (without the bacon). Loved the combination of flavors.
Down home cookin'. Kind of.
And in my usual fashion, I intentionally over-portioned so that there would be lots of leftovers for the rest of the week!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekly workout summary - October 7, 2012

Workout summary

Week of October 1 - October 7. I only hit 4 workouts for the week, but they were quality ones. My goal at this point is just to keep up my running mileage and not get injured before the 10k race on October 28.

Monday: 4 miles with potentially wonky satellites. My Runkeeper app claimed around a 13 min/mi pace, for full disclosure, but that still doesn't seem right!

Tuesday: Rest day. I really should throw in some core work or at-home yoga on Tuesdays...perhaps I'll try that this upcoming week.

Wednesday: 4 miles @ 11:28 min/mi average pace. Another new route near work. This was the best of the ones I've tried so far, except for the BUGS. Tiny little gnats everywhere. I can't tell if it is just that time of year or if it has something to do with the area. I'll see if they let up this week as it gets colder.

Thursday: My first non-basics vinyasa class. I loved this! Wish I could justify the expense of going more often, but once a week in the studio will have to suffice for now.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: Long run! 6.5 miles (PDR!) at 11:03 min/mi average pace. Which would be awesome if I could say that without an asterisk, but I can't. I had to stop 4.5 miles in because I got a SHOOTING pain in left ankle. I had one of those moments where I was like holy shit, I'm not going to be able to do the race. Luckily I was near a rest stop along the trail, so I sat on the bench, took off my shoe, and rolled the ankle out for a while. It was feeling somewhat better, so I shoed up again and tried to walk. I felt pain at first when I walked, but it eased as I started to get going. I tried running, which was painful at first too, but all of the sudden I felt a POP in the ankle and the pain was gone. So bizarre! I have no idea what caused it. It feels fine today. But anyway, that pace does not account for the ~10 min break I took to deal with my ankle, so I feel like it doesn't really count.

Used this picture twice, oops. Post-PDR smile!
Though my ankle seems pain-free today, the same cannot be said for my knee. While I've never really had problems with my ankle before, my knees, in particular the right one, has been giving me trouble since I started increasing my mileage. For the last mile yesterday it was really achy, and last night/today it has been in a fair amount of pain. Nothing shooting, just a lot of soreness. I've been icing and staying off it, etc., hoping it just a little tired from running a new distance. If I had to describe the pain, it kind of feels like when you land on your knee weird while it is locked out (except that usually goes away in a minute or two)--it feels tender to straighten it all the way or to put all my weight on it, but the pain isn't shooting.

Sunday: Unintentional rest day, given the knee pain. It probably would have been better to do some yoga or cross-training, but I was lazy. I'm hoping everything feels back to normal for a run tomorrow!

Total running miles for the week: 14.5 miles. 

Oktoberfest + New Mexican brunch

Adventures from the weekend

After a rousing pre-long run Friday night of consumerism and then couch time, I got up Saturday AM ready to tackle my "long run" of 6.5 miles. Report coming up in another post. Some bumps along the way, but I finished with a smile on my face.

Mmm, sweaty ponytail.
After getting back, showering off the grime, and icing, Dan and I headed out for a quick lunch of subs (veggie sub for me). Then we headed over to a local Oktoberfest celebration!

Beer tent. Place to be.
The event was a lot of fun--a good mix of beer drinking/live music + some art/open local historical sites that we hadn't seen. Entertainment and education! It was a gorgeous fall day to be outside and we enjoyed ourselves!
Trying to show off the wristband/beer, but looking oddly triumphant instead.
Dan's first blog appearance! Hi Dan.

Giant puppy making friends.
After all of that excitement, we grabbed some groceries and came home for a night of laziness. We didn't do too much--hung out, tried some beers, and watched Daniel Craig on SNL. I tried a new recipe for dinner:

Cornbread quiche, with a side of beer and Downton.
I used Caitlin's recipe to make cornbread quiche (I had another piece in addition to what was featured) using zucchini and cheddar cheese. It was decent, and perfectly edible, but not something I'd race to make again. I couldn't help thinking that I would have liked the eggs scrambled with the veggies/cheese plus a side piece of cornbread better. Oh well, it was worth a shot and garnered some leftovers for the week!

Today was fairly low-key, but started out with a tasty meal at Anita's--one of a chain of New Mexican restaurants in Virginia. We had tried them previously for dinner but had heard breakfast was the real star of the show. We agreed and definitely would go back there for weekend brunch. Reasonably priced, good portions, and tasty! I was a little disappointed they didn't have whole beans and only had refried, but it wasn't a crisis--I was too busy eating half a pound of chips to be bothered! I ordered the huevos rancheros with green chili sauce (guac on the side) and remembered to take a picture half-way through my meal:
Half-eaten food
I might try the breakfast burrito next time since Dan's looked so good, but we definitely will be making another visit there!

The rest of the day was spent in glasses and pjs. I did some work, some chores, and some relaxing--nicely balanced Sunday. We had our usual homemade pizza for dinner, which was good as always.

Weekend beers:
I've been meaning to start collecting my beer reviews in a notebook or something, but I figured since I haven't started using the notebook, the blog is as good of a place as any! For the record, I'm no beer expert--these are just my amateur impressions.

Victory Festbier (draught): Tried this at Oktoberfest. It was decent but not something I'd seek out again. Some nice malty tones, but it was just too bitter for my taste. I can handle some hops, but this didn't have enough balance for me.

Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale (bottle): My favorite of the beers tried this weekend. Lovely malty taste paired with some deeper hints like chocolate and coffee. Pleasant amount of hops. Overall just quite smooth and full-bodied. I really liked this beer and want to get it again soon!

Tripel Karmeliet (bottle): Shared this beer with Dan on Saturday night. Poured with a large head and quite carbonated. Surprisingly easy to drink despite the high ABV. Sweet with a lemony taste. I'd get this beer again, if only because Dan, a non-beer-lover, liked it too!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Friday exploration

Some post-work exploration!

After hearing yesterday about the new complex being constructed (where the outdoors yoga will be!), I had to go check out the beginnings of it tonight! It is conveniently located right along my short commute between home and work, so fairly close indeed! The main attraction is a new Target, set to open next week, which this area very much needs--I knew about that but just hadn't realized how much else they are adding to the complex. There are also plans to open an Anthropologie, Paper Source, and several (good!) area restaurants by the end of the year. There are already several other attractions that opened, including some clothing stores, a market, and a new boutique movie theater. I'll be dragging Dan out to the new movie theater next weekend, but I decided to check out the market and one of the new clothing stores tonight on my way home from work.

The clothing store is a South Moon Under, which I wasn't really familiar with until tonight. It is a very nice boutique that carries several high-end denim line (think J Brand, Hudson, etc.) and nice clothing pieces from recognizable brands (French Connection, Splendid...). There isn't too much of any one brand though, giving it the sense of being a highly curated collection. But it was almost too curated in my opinion--random pieces that seemed to have no cohesion besides being expensive and trendy. Plus, a lot of the stuff just wasn't my style--few classic pieces, or even interesting classics, and more of-the-moment styles that will surely be out by next year. Oh well, I'm still glad I checked it out! The sales staff was perky and friendly, and the store space was nicely designed. I'll give them a try again before the end of the year--see how they are settling in and if they have any holiday deals!

The next stop was Mom's Organic Market. I had been to one of these before in DC, but it was a rundown location and an older set up. I was hopeful that this new location would be a bit better, and it definitely came through! Check out the selection.
This is ALL shelf-stable milk products.
Raw foods specialty products.
TEAS! Including bulk teas!

Overall, it didn't offer enough variety, selection, and price competition for produce to make it worth shopping there every week, since produce often comprises the bulk of my grocery purchases. But they definitely had my other frequent stores (Wegmans, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's...I like grocery stores) beat on several things that I buy fairly frequently--bulk quinoa (and some other bulk items), KIND bars, and some frozen items. And their selection was simply amazing on their non-produce items. Want that one specific type of frozen waffle you've never been able to find? They'll have it. Especially if you have any specific dietary needs, this is the place--they really have it well-stocked. I'm excited to have it between my home and work! I'll be visiting Mom's in the future.

Oh, and they have a take out food counter as well, as well as a sitting area to eat in. The menu, pictured below, looks quite tasty--I'm intrigued by their bowls! Tonight to tide me over until dinner I tried a veggie juice. It was only okay--I think that was more my fault than theirs, because I have no idea what I like in a veggie juice (key: not too much ginger!).

Used up the last of those leftovers for dinner, after my snack of that veggie juice. Have a lunch picture though--pretty basic, but tasty. A veggie burger with mixed greens on the side. Veggie burgers are one of those quick lunches that I always keep the supplies on hand for in the office--English muffins and veggie burgers in the freezer, and pickles in the fridge (what, you don't have your own jar of pickles in your office fridge? Don't worry we have several fridges and a bunch of room.). I added some hummus to it today. Tasty and easy for lunch!

Nada today! Some stretching and foam rolling in preparation for my long run tomorrow. I hope to get it done by lunchtime and have the rest of the day left to relax and explore!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Some kind of progress

Progress, somewhat
I've had three work days since my post about trying to start a Happiness Project, with the first month's focus being improving work focus/productivity. For the first week, the theme was "set myself up to succeed", with the specific goals being:
  • Use an internet blocker
  • Plan the next day's tasks
So far my progress has been...inconsistent. Tuesday was middle of the road, Wednesday was great, and today was terrible. The internet blocker somewhat helps (I'm using the StayFocused extension for Chrome), if only to serve as a reminder that I'm not focusing on work (and instead checking email or whatever). The planning out the next day's tasks is a good start, but not the whole picture. I think the thing I'm having the most trouble with is just getting started each day. If I get something done before 11 am, then I feel productive and ready to take on the rest of the day (like Wednesday!). If I haven't finished anything by lunch, I just feel like the day is a wash and spend the rest of the day dragging my feet and not finding flow.

I've been aware of this all or nothing tendency in myself or a while now, and have mostly had luck in quelling in as it relates to diet and exercise (one cookie doesn't mean I throw the rest of the day away to crap eating anymore!). It is odd to see it emerge in my work life now. I had originally made the theme of week three "get it started now," with the specific goals relating to getting myself going early in the day. Well, clearly I need to bump that up to week two, so hopefully this is something I can take on next week!

I also need to just keep in mind each day WHY I am doing this--because at the end of the day this all comes down to discipline, and if I can remember why, then I can focus on the waiting incentive. Tomorrow, at the very least, I have a clear goal--I'll be working so that I don't have to stress over the weekend!

Yesterday I ran, and tonight was yoga! I recently bought a Groupon to a local yoga studio and I am loving it. After last week's beginner vinyasa class (my second at this studio, though I've done some yoga before), the teacher invited me to attend her regular vinyasa class instead of the beginner class. I went to it tonight, and it was great! Definitely a lot harder, but it felt like more of a workout. For the most part I felt like I could keep up, or I would just do the modification she offered. I loved the music she played and am enjoying this instructor. I wish the class had a little bit more energy to it, but I think that's just me wishing I could use it to make friends!

I'm excited because I found out this yoga studio is hosting a free "yoga in the park" series at a new shopping area going up between my apartment and work. It starts next Sunday and sounds like a lot of fun (though I do question the notion of starting an outdoor yoga series in mid-October). Mostly I'm just excited because it means I'll get to do a second yoga class a week at no additional cost. More to come once I try out that first outdoor class!

Tonight was a quick Wegmans frozen pizza (with some steamed broccoli on the side) shared with Dan since I got home later from yoga. For the last two nights (and still tomorrow--woo leftovers), I've had something I whipped up on Tuesday to use up stuff in the fridge. It looks completely unappetizing, but it was delicious! I included: half an onion, garlic, zucchini, black beans, kale, and potatoes (pre-cooked a bit) in the sauteed mixture. Then I fried up an egg to put on top of it and put on some cheddar cheese crumbles for good measure. Delicious!! And made a few servings of leftovers too (for those I'm just reheating the veggie mix in the same pan as the egg). I forgot to take a picture before I sliced the egg all up, but oh well.

 Wow I take terrible photographs. Oh well. Not sure what I have in store for the weekend yet--lots of potential!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Starting a new project

A Happiness Project, of sorts:

In addition to better tracking and discussing my running, one of my reasons for starting this blog was to better...take control of my life, for lack of better words. Which is not to say that life isn't awesome! I really truly look around and realize how lucky and amazing things are right now. And for once in my life, I'm really feeling like I have enough free time to do all the things I want to do, but I don't feel like I'm using my time well. I end up watching mindless TV or, more frequently, surfing blogs and not realizing that a good 90 minutes has passed me by and it is time for bed. Frustrating! So, I want to take control of my leisure time.

...By first taking control of my work life! Totally logical, right? For me, it is though. I know that currently I am not giving 100% at work by a longshot. I get my work done, and people seem reasonably pleased enough. But I never feel like I really hit a project out of the park, and more often than not, I'm scrambling to do things at the last minute. I'm never finding that oh-so-desirable flow in my work and often just feel like I'm waiting for the clock to tick to a reasonable leave time.

[For what it's worth, I know some of this is a symptom of just not totally loving the work/tasks I have to do. But a) that's life, and sometimes that happens, and I need to deal with it better, and b) I'm hoping to go back to school next year in order to become better equipped to do more interesting work! Also, I really do enjoy where I'm working and want to stay there/grow there for a long time--I just need to get that advanced degree + promotion to get to some of the more interesting work that we have!]

Lacking focus at work and constantly procrastinating the big things I have to do is ultimately causing me major amounts of stress/anxiety, which creeps into my non-work time and psyche as well. I leave work feeling like I should keep working at home, or at the very least check my email a couple of times at night so that I can appear "engaged" (because if you know you aren't acting engaged, then maintaining the appearance of being engaged seems super important). I feel embarrassed when I think about the fact that I'm  not working to my full potential, and that sinks into my self-esteem, which seems to affect EVERYTHING. Soooo. I need to get refocused at work!

And that's where Gretchen Rubin's inimitable Happiness Project comes in. I'm going to start doing a theme per month, much like she did in her first book. More on other themes and ultimate goals for the project in another post, but for now, here's my "resolution chart" for this month:

I'll be using this to track my progress daily on the theme for the week. If you are unfamiliar with the Happiness Project (if so, read the book!!), the idea is that you introduce one goal related to an overall theme per week. Each week you track yourself on the new goal, and any of the previous goals. Hopefully by the end of the month you've made them habits! I've included two sub-goals for each overarching weekly goal since they seemed to match together nicely. More on the goals for this week and progress later this week!

Ran 4 miles after work. It was another new route near my office, and it had the same issues as the one last week--too many turns, too hard to find my groove. There wasn't a clear way to get to the planned 4 miles I had, so I had to keep doubling back or looping up to try to add mileage, which is the WORST. I feel like a hamster. I just prefer having long stretches on my routes to really get my legs moving!

Add to that the fact that the satellites were possibly wonking out due to the turns, rain, or the fact that a lot of the route wasn't on real roads/was in a wooded area. Either that or I was running slower than I ever have. Considering the fact that my level of effort felt like my regular pace, if not a little faster, then I have to believe something was getting screwed up with the distance measurement, not that I was running 13+ min/miles. But I'll just call it 4 miles, I suppose.

We went out to lunch today for a project celebration to an Indian buffet, which was DELICIOUS. No pictures though. Tonight was a standard post-run meal. Some combination of leftovers + a veggie side.

Here we have leftover pizza from last night (which I accidentally microwaved for too long) plus a salad on the side. The salad was delicious, featuring leftover items from the family event--blue cheese, figs, and blackberries. Tasty! Although this wasn't super filling, so I just had a slice of leftover peanut butter pie. Way more tasty.