Saturday, January 24, 2015

Snail Running in Austin (Shell Yeah!)

Snail Running Team cropped

{Source. Cute, right? Found via Pinterest}

I wanted to write an update on my current half-marathon training cycle.  I’m undecided on how to update this blog more regularly, but I’m not interested in closing it down.  How to write a running blog when I barely have time to run?  Maybe when I answer that question I’ll write a post about it!

Anyway, the 87-mile Project is keeping me inspired to get some miles, any miles, under my running shoes.  I’ve been running 2 miles every 2-3 days, and I even ran 3 miles yesterday!  Miracle of miracles!  And most of those miles?  Are hard.  They feel very hard to me.  I am not in good running shape, but I’m proud of myself for returning to running.  I am on the Snail Running Team, but really, it’s better to run slow miles than to not run at all.  Really truly.

I’ve made a few observations about my return to running and this current training cycle.  In bullet-point fashion:

* Even when the miles are hard to run, I still feel really good after I run them.  This fact keeps me going and makes me excited to continue my running.

* Yesterday, I ran 3 miles by warming up, running 2 miles, then walking for 5 minutes and running another mile.  What was great is that my third mile felt so much easier than the first two.  This, I think, is my reward for pushing myself to do a slightly longer run.  The miles do get easier, so eventually I know that a 2-mile run will feel easy and refreshing, not hard and kinda demoralizing like it is now.  (Note: I know that sounds really negative, and not all of my runs are demoralizing.  I’d be lying if I tried to paint this situation as all or nothing.)

* Austin is a really tough place to train.  There are hills in every direction from my house, so I have no choice but to run up and down hills if I want to run outside in one direction for more than 200 meters.  I think the hills are part of what makes me feel so out of shape.  It’s not just that I’m out of running shape, but that in trying to get back into running shape, I have to do it on really challenging terrain.  I trust that the hills will get easier with time and dedication, but damn!  So demoralizing!

* I’m getting better at working running time into my crazy freelancer’s schedule.  My days typically have a chunk of time in the early or late afternoon when I can run after lunch and before I have to leave for my evening sessions.  I’m really proud of myself for taking more control over my time and doing what I want to do.  This is a big accomplishment for me.  I’m also learning to trust that my tutoring schedule will always be an evolving process—it’s up to me to make sure I’m honoring my commitments to my health and happiness.

And on that note, I’m going to head out for an evening walk before the sun is gone for the evening.  Happy Saturday, friends!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The 87-mile Project

FLF Graphic 12_30_14

Here’s the thing.  I paid good money to run a half-marathon on February and yet my training efforts have been practically non-existent.  If there’s one thing that motivates me, it’s the fear of wasting good money, and spending money on a race that I can’t or won’t train for is definitely a waste!

Race day is in 46 days (thank you very much, website counter!), and I’m challenging myself to run 87 miles between now and the start of the race.  That’s one mile for every dollar I spent on my race registration.  (Holy COW, that’s an expensive half marathon.  Thank goodness that running, as a sport, is pretty cheap.)  87 miles divided by 46 days means I need to average 2 miles a day from now until February 15.  Considering that I am basically starting from running 0 miles a day, that feels like a lot.

Will I get there?  We shall see!  But I’m going to try.

Here’s my log that I’ll be keeping to track this project.  (I heart data!)

Day             Miles Run

12/28/14           3

12/30/14           1.2

12/31/14           0 (sick)

1/1/15              0 (still sick!)

1/2/15              0 (still sick!)    

1/3/15              0 (getting better…)

1/4/15              2 (whew! finally went out for a run!)

1/5/15              0

1/6/15              2

1/7/15              0

1/8/15              0

1/9/15              2.2

1/10/15            0

1/11/15           1.5

1/12/15           0

1/13/15           2 (13.9 miles total as of today—more than a half-marathon!)

1/14/15           0

1/15/15           2

1/16/15           0

1/17/15           0

1/18/15           0

1/19/15           2

1/20/15           0

1/21/15           2

1/22/15           0

1/23/15           3

1/24/15           0       

1/25/15           0

1/26/15           0

1/27/15          2.5

1/28/15           0

1/29/15          2

1/30/15          0

1/31/15          0 (woke up sick today)

2/1/15            0 (sick AGAIN!)

2/2/15            0

2/3/15            0

2/4/15            0

2/5/15            0.9 (run/walk: 1 minute run, 1 minute walk, repeat 8 more times)

2/6/15            0 (ugh, still sick…)

2/7/15            0

2/8/15            0

2/9/15            0

2/10/15          0

2/11/15          1.7

2/12/15          0 (I think?)

2/13/15          0 (drove to and from Dallas today to pick up JD) 

2/14/15         1.5 (short riverside run!)

2/15/15:        RACE DAY!

TOTAL:      31.5 MILES

Price per mile: $2.76

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Life Lately by iPhone + Runner’s World Love

It’s true that I’ve been quiet lately on the blogging front.  Life is good these days, but I’m still finding it so hard to carve out time for any creative pursuits.  This weekend, however, I had a slowdown from work, so I’m taking advantage of the time to write.  Looking back over my photos from the past two months, I found a few highlights. 

The View from the Trail

On the Bike Along the Riverfront

On my way home from UT’s campus the other day, I stopped along the riverfront trail to take these two photos.  I love living so close to such an awesome biking/running trail—what a treat.  One of my running goals is to get into good enough shape to run down to the trail, do a few miles, and run home.  That would require that I can handle an hour of running again, so it’s a great half-marathon training goal.

On that particular day, Paul and I rode together to UT”s campus.  What a fun ride to do together!  It certainly wasn’t the first time we’d been downtown together, but it was the first time we’d ridden from our home through downtown and over to UT.  Seeing familiar parts of Austin by bike makes them feel new again.  I love the feeling of exploring a city by foot or bike—it feels like I make a deeper connection to place when I am able to do that.

Gorgeous Flowers

Paul and I went camping a few weeks ago, and we passed through Whole Foods to pick up some food for backpacking.  The roses looked so luscious and beautiful that I had to snap a photo!  But then when we headed out to backpack, I left my camera in the car!  So I have almost no photos from that camping trip except…

Deer at Dusk

…this deer who visited our neighbor’s campsite the first night!  We were tent/car camping that night, and I was so amazed and amused by this wonderful creature that I had to document it.  Can you see him poking around the fire pit?

We had no deer at our fire pit, just a Paul who built us a fire on which to cook dinner.

Paul Building the Fire

Some members of our family chose not to go camping.  Such as Lucy the Cat:

Looking Up

Sleeping Kitty Showing Off Her Pumpkin Patch

Can you see the brown on her otherwise white belly?  I call it her pumpkin patch and think it is endlessly adorable.  Lucy continues to be my faithful companion.  She’s almost always in the room with me whenever I am home.  I like to say that Lucy is like a dog wearing a cat suit!

* * *

Do you read Runner’s World?  Have you noticed lately that they are putting out some seriously inspiring content?  They recently did a feature article on Deena Kastor (she of bronze medal marathon Olympic fame), and now when I go out running, I imagine myself running as easily and joyfully as I imagine Deena to be when she runs.  Also, she loves cooking and inventing recipes, so we have that in common too!

I feel like Runner’s World is slowly lighting a fire under me.  I flip through my newest issue and I remember: I used to be a runner.  I used to run.  And then I think: it’s not too late for me! 

I went out the other day for a 20-minute run (2 miles or so).  And it was really lovely, so nice in fact that if the rain lets up today, I’ll head out for another 20-minute run.  I have learned this year that guilt is not going to motivate me to return to running.  But a nice run, and then another nice run, and another, and another?  They will motivate me to keep running.  Also, and this is my newest secret weapon: laying my running clothes on the bed early in the day.  They are waiting for me right now, just as I am waiting for a break in the rain.  But if that break never comes, I’ll lace up and head out in a raincoat.

After all, I’m sure Deena Kastor has done more than a few of her runs in the rain.

Happy day to you!

Monday, October 20, 2014

What’s the Worst that Could Happen?

Half-marathon training is upon me again.  Not surprisingly, I’m not prepared for it.  It’s the story of my running life.

A while back, I signed up for the Austin Half Marathon, thinking (and hoping, maybe even praying) that it would give me the fire and motivation to train seriously for a half-marathon.  The problem with being inside a series of long-term transitions as I have been for the past year is that it becomes exceedingly difficult to make long-term commitments.  I really want to make commitments—I’m not scared of them—but economic pressure and employment upheaval have conspired to drain much of the energy I used to be spend on athletic pursuits.  Over the summer, during the hardest weeks, going for a daily walk was the best I could do.  During the thick of our move to Austin, I didn’t even get my daily walk because we were so flattened by our to-do lists.

But now!  Ah, sweet now.  Our move to Austin is history.  Sweltering summer temps have come down into milder October days.  My work schedule is gaining a semi-predictable rhythm.  We’re finding our groove in the house, working and playing together.  I’m starting to imagine that maybe, just maybe, I can find the time and energy for my running life again.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle to find a running groove.  It’s hard.  If it weren’t hard, we wouldn’t spend so many words talking about “motivation” and “time management.”  Running inevitably asks us to sacrifice something: free time, sleep, chores, time with family and friends, maybe even work.  By definition, I think a sacrifice hurts.  It pains us to give something up.  To put it bluntly, I suppose I haven’t been too keen on additional sacrifices in the last few years.  My employment ups and downs robbed me of any notions of career or financial stability.  Finding that stability for myself has been my top concern, my top priority, the thing I’ve been chasing most obsessively.  Running kinda fell off my list of priorities, as sad as that is to admit.

Much like blogging, I knew, deep down, that running was something to which I would return.  Eventually.  I love the way running makes me feel: calm, powerful, capable.  I love the rhythm of my sneakers against the path.  I love the way running serves as a release valve for stress and frustration.  I don’t want the Detroit Marathon to be my first and only marathon (gah, I never thought I’d say THAT!).  Despite my lack of consistent running, I still feel like a runner, and I still feel like running is always available to me, even if I’ve been a disloyal runner.

Which brings us to the present moment: late October, with a half-marathon on the schedule in about four months.  If I decide to give this race my best effort from now to race day, I think to myself, what’s the worst that could happen?  I run the race more slowly that I would have if I had started training earlier and better?  Is that not an outcome with which I can live?  After all, I’d still get my chance to restart my training.  I’d get to reclaim my identity as a runner.  I’d still get to enjoy my race day here in Austin.  And fingers crossed, my friend JD will make it to Austin for the race, and we’ll get to enjoy his visit together.

You know what?  All of that sounds AWESOME.  I have every reason to say YES now.  What’s in the past is over.  I remember writing my thoughts on imperfect marathon training and feeling so happy that I had been brave enough to continue with my training despite all the reasons I had to ditch the marathon.

There is truly no better day to go for a run than today.  I know that finding time to run will continue to be a challenge for me because of my freelancer’s schedule.  But what is life but a series of trying, failing, and trying again?  If it were easy, there’d be no glory in it, no accomplishment at the end of the finishing chute.

So here’s me, trying again.  Here’s to a running life, defined not by a single training cycle but by the return to running, over and over again.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Back to Work!


Well, well, well!  Guess who hardly took any photos last week?  That would be moi, so you get a close-up of Lu’s face.  Check out those pretty white whiskers!

The cold front this weekend brought some spectacular weather to Texas.  It was cool and rainy and we all just basked in it.  I went running twice, only to realize how desperately out of running shape I am.  Oh well—it comes back, right?

FLF_Week of September 8 cropped

On a different note, our lives are getting busier here at Feels Like Flying headquarters.  The academic semester is picking up speed; all three of us here in this house have tutoring gigs this week.  I completed 12 billable hours this week, which is only 8 short of my minimum goal of 20 hours.  That might not sound like a lot, but when you’re freelancing and still pretty new to the game, landing billable hours can be really hard.  Or maybe it’s not so much that it’s hard as it’s a game of putting your best stuff out there and waiting patiently to see if anyone wants to work with you.  The waiting is hard.  Being patient is hard.  Doing the work?  That’s a lot easier.

But all of that is to say that we are all feeling hopeful that our house will land on its feet, financially.  I’m writing about some of this stuff over at my other blog in a series called “Budgeting for Freelancers.”  Rather than rehash the boring generic advice that one can find via a simple search, I want to tell our story and what budgeting means for us, real people with hopes and fears and savings and debt and the unknown future, winking at us in secret collaboration.

Because that’s what it’s all about, right?  Our stories.  Generic advice is meant for a generic audience.  But you, my dears, you are the ones to whom I tell my stories.  And even though I’m totally rusty at this writing thing, I’d like to start writing again more regularly.  Why is routine so hard at some points in life?  I’d like my routines back, please.  Or maybe I just want my writing time back.

Things may be getting busier, but they are starting to feel more like a routine.  Slowly, surely, I’ll get back to my running and writing routines, right?  Right.

Happy routine-following, my dears.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Let’s Do This

First some art…

Spider House

Good Advice

…and now something funny!


Hey, hey!  Happy September!  Even though my last post was on September 3rd, today’s chilly temperatures feel more like September than the close-to-100 temps we’ve had lately.  My friend Emily and I were joking that today is the day to do ALL THE FALL THINGS, like buying a pumpkin, eating an apple pie, and wearing every scarf you own.  We Northerners share a longing for the autumn we once loved.  Texas may win a prize for its spectacular springtime beauty, but autumn here is nothing to invite your friends to see.

My roommate Courtney (whom you can see poking out at the bottom of the semen donor photo) and I have been running around town putting up flyers for our two businesses.  She recently launched The Austin Writing Shop, a coaching and editing business for writers.  And I of course have gone full-time as a biology and chemistry tutor.  Together, we’ve gone out on three field trips to advertise our stuff around Austin; the photos above are from our trip to the University of Texas’s campus, where our first stop was Amy’s Ice Cream.  That was a good choice, as we needed fuel to keep us going for countless blocks of city walking, ducking in and out of shops to see who had bulletin boards and who did not.  Visiting that part of town made me really excited to get back to Spider House, a place I visited once with Matt.  It’s quirky, artsy, humming with a creative vibe.  It’s lovely, really.

On a different note, Paul and I had to abort our Sunday morning bike ride along the river trail after he fell off his bike.  We had just arrived at the trail and were about to start the scenic part of our ride when Paul was trying to mount his bike and it slipped out from underneath him.  He landed so hard on his bike frame that we think he broke a rib; he’s had some pain this week that would be consistent with a hairline fracture, I think.  He had some scrapes and bruises elsewhere too.  So this week he’s been recovering from that.  We probably won’t head out on our bikes tomorrow, which is super sad, but if he needs to heal, then it’s the right decision.

As for me, it was a pretty good fitness week!  I had forgotten that I ran twice, which is really good for me these days.  I’m still feeling really challenged by my lack of running routine; just how DOES one go about starting a new routine?  Between the heat, no consistent work routine, and my love for walking, running feels like something I used to do, not something I actually do now.  I’m kinda thinking about trying a streak for this upcoming week, just to break my own running stasis.  Run EVERY DAY?!?  It’s so crazy, it just might work. 

FLF_Week of September 1 cropped

Hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow with another update from this current week.  Until then, happy trails to you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A Slow Finish to August

First, a few photo highlights from last week!

Six Kinds of Quinoa

“Go buy some quinoa from Whole Foods,” Paul tells me.  I oblige, only to find that Whole Foods sells six (SIX!) different kinds of quinoa.  I buy the cheapest one because, starting at $4.99/pound, quinoa is much more expensive than rice or tortillas.  Still, the number of options was impressive, so I had to document them.


August has been a really nice balance of working at home and exploring Austin.  The mug above, featuring Austin’s best slogan, is from Book People, a wonderful independent bookstore in downtown Austin.  (The mug belongs to my roommate Courtney.)  I’m pretty sure that I myself am not weird enough for Austin, but I love the mug nonetheless.

Moving on to last week’s work-outs…

FLF_Week of August 25 cropped

It’s still, of course, beastly hot here in Texas, so I finished up August with more walking and a bike ride with Paul.  I promised myself that once September arrived, I’d get back into running, but I’ll save that story for next time.

After a pretty stressful summer of working and moving to Austin, we definitely took advantage of the slower pace of August.  I feel like my walking routine is symbolic of the ease that August gave us.  But now that August is over and we are getting down to business in Austin, I feel ready to run and maybe to even log more than 10 miles in a week!  Hey, that would be novel! 

Lu Likes Vegetarian Times Too

Finally, here’s Miss Lu, sitting in one of her favorite spots in front of the balcony door.  She loves the sunshine we get in the morning and will even wedge herself between the blinds to sunbathe.

Happy day to you, dear reader!