Tuesday, April 15, 2014

From Couch to 5…No, 10K!

At Lake Bryan

About two weeks ago, I started doing the Couch to 5K (C25K) program.  It seemed like a nice way to ease back into running after more than a month off.  Plus I have been walking as a form of exercise, and C25K seems like a perfect transition from walking into running.

I was perfectly content to do my C25K program as spring gives way to summer here…until my friend JD suggested we do a 10K when I’m in Michigan next month.  JD is my favorite running buddy and a great friend.  When he found the Heart & Sole Run/Walk in Chelsea, Michigan, I couldn’t say no—he’d found a 10K for us on the one weekend that I was available for a running event.  Perfect.  So even though I am most definitely NOT in 10K shape right now, I will be in 3.5 weeks!

How does one safely go from 0 to 6.2 miles in such a short span of time?  Well, I’m hoping that my overall good shape (lots of walking and biking these days) will be enough to support my running burst.  I’m planning to do two “long runs” each week, adding a mile to each long run and then doing whatever work-outs I feel like on my other days.  I think I can get away with this without injury because I’ve been running for years, and my body adapts well to running stress.  Plus it’s only a 10K—it’s not like I’m trying to run a marathon on a whim.  Right?  Right.

Tonight I went out for my first “long run”: one mile of running, plus walking warm-up and cool-down.  Not surprisingly, it was fine.  (I’m not that out of shape!)  Still, it was nice to return to running, and with a goal in mind, I think the motivation will get me out the door pretty easily.

Have you ever run a race just to run with a friend?  Tell me about it!

Happy running! 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Spring Forward

FLF Collage 4_05_14

Whoa! Look who’s back after disappearing from this space for a month.

March was, in a word, ridiculous. It started with the Armadillo Dash Half-Marathon (complete with awesome medal, which you can see above!), included a trip to Dallas, another trip to Michigan, and nailed me with one of the worst colds I’ve had in my life. It also included some pretty significant personal growth, which rattled me quite a bit but is, I think, ultimately preparing me to be a better partner and a better provider to those who depend on me.

I haven’t had as much time to write since I started working this year. As a part-time freelancer, time management is something I’m learning all over again: how to manage my time with an uncertain work schedule and much more freedom than I’ve had while employed.

How about a few highlights from Ridiculous Rainy March?

* Paul and I spent an AMAZING weekend in Dallas with our friends Amber and Jeremy. They are always wonderful company, but before that, we met my professor friend Cliff for a fantastic day of food and science. Cliff taught me organic chemistry when I was an undergrad, and by now, he’s probably taught well over a thousand students that carbon has four bonds and oxygen will attack a nucleus.  It’s been more than ten years since I was his student in the proper student-professor sense of things, and now I consider him my friend and mentor.  While he was in Dallas and escaping the bitter cold of Michigan, we visited the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.  As Paul said, it was a very cool space in which to have hours of conversation about science and engineering.  With the exception of the crystal hall, we didn’t spend much time examining the exhibits; instead, it was more like the exhibits served as inspiration for our discussions.

On top of the fun of seeing the museum, Cliff got to meet Paul, which I loved.  They totally hit it off!

* After the weekend in Dallas, I flew to Michigan for my sister’s bridal shower.  Getting to Michigan turned out to be an unwanted adventure, but being there for the weekend was awesome.  Theresa and I got to spend an afternoon with our niece, and we celebrated the surprise marriage of my brother to his partner Thom.  The bridal shower was very fun and friendly.  Theresa’s future mother-in-law did most of the work, and it turned out beautifully.

* Even here in Texas, March was a cold, rainy month.  I got to enjoy a new pair of gray boots, and I’m so glad I decided to buy new boots because my old ones get wet really easily on rainy days.  With my uncertain income this year, I feel a lot of pressure to be very mindful of how I’m spending money.  New boots add so much to my overall comfort on a day-to-day level that I think they were totally worth the money.

* Did you guys catch the Ironman article in the April issue of Runner’s World?  I love Dimity McDowell’s writing—she’s funny and helpful and the kind of woman you’d like to call a friend.  Her Ironman experience was such an inspiring read.  (If you missed it, they published it on-line too!  Yay!)

* Speaking of exercise, I took it easy in March.  I wasn’t injured or anything, just super-busy and feeling too stressed to fit running into my days.  Instead, I made it a goal to walk every day…and then failed at that.  Sheesh.  This month I’m back at it, fitting at least 15 minutes of walking into each day.  (Though today, I think I’m counting my short walking commute to tutoring as my walk…that plus my bike ride to and from campus feels like enough for one day.)

* Finally, I’ve been doing some deep thinking about my relationships to money, work, and Paul.  I’m writing about my thoughts over on my other blog, if you’re interested.  Here is my latest post about two ideas that are giving me good reason to reconsider my money anxiety.  Enjoy!

Up next: my plans for April!  Have a great week, dear friends.  I’ve missed you and this little blog.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

“Forward is a pace.”

Eighth Annual Armadillo Dash

Medal Closeup

Watch Time

Today I completed my sixth half-marathon and fifth Armadillo Dash!  It was a humid, rainy morning, and I was undertrained for the race.  But I showed up, ran a decent 13.1, and earned a cool medal at the end.

My finishing time was 2:02:52, about ten minutes slower than last year’s race.  I expected to feel disappointed about this, but thankfully, I’m not.  I feel really happy about participating and not letting perfect be the enemy of good.  Today is the first time in several years that it’s taken me more than two hours to complete a half, but you know what?  That’s two hours I got to spend on my fitness, on my health, on my physical and emotional well-being.  It’s two hours that were well-lived. I love a PR as much as the next runner, but it makes sense to me that some seasons of life are more conducive to PRs.  Whether or not I’m setting PRs, running keeps me grounded and sane.  And apparently, I’m so innately appreciative of running’s benefits that a non-PR race day is A-OK with me.

Today’s post title came from one of the race signs.  It’s a good one, don’t you think?  I’m keeping that in mind, both on the course and in my everyday life.

Run on, friends!  And happy March!

Friday, February 28, 2014

42 Miles in February!

42 in February

February 2014

Week 1: 10.9 miles run

Week 2: 6.3 miles run

Week 3: 17.3 miles run(!)

Week 4: 7.7 miles run

TOTAL MILES RUN: 42!

Hi!  I just wanted to pop in tonight to brag share with you some awesome news: I ran 42 miles in February!  It’s the first time that I’ve ever met a monthly mileage goal, and what a fun goal to meet.

Why, I wonder, are running goals so satisfying to reach?  My best guess is that running is something we do for ourselves.  It’s the best kind of selfishness, because I think most runners would tell you that running is a way of taking care of themselves, which makes each runner better at the other things in his or her life.  Since we do it to take care of ourselves, most of our running goals are positive selfish ones.  Call it a paradox, but I think there is something wonderful about pursuing running goals.  They seem pure to me.  The best prize in reaching a running goal is the feeling of accomplishment, the “I can do ANYTHING!” feeling that always seems to follow.  At least it does for me.

Knowing how hard I can be on myself, I feel utterly justified in celebrating my 42 February miles.  I’m aiming for 40+ miles in March too, and I’ll start that off on a great note with the half-marathon on Sunday.

See you after the race, friends!  Happy weekend!

PS  I voted today.  Did you?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Houston and Pancakes, Plus Some Running

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Tights and Slippers

Lu with Her Twine

Week of February 17, 2014:

Monday:  Long run!  81 minutes total, ran 70.

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: Off?  I can’t remember.

Thursday:  Another run!  61 minutes total, ran 46.

Friday: Off (Off to Houston for some friends and fun!)

Saturday: Evening walk

Sunday: Another run!  62 minute total, ran 57.

Total minutes walked/ran: 204.  Estimated miles: 19.4  (Wow!  That’s amazing for me!)

Last weekend, Paul and I took a mini-road trip to Houston for an overnight visit.  It was awesome!  We ran some errands that Paul had on his To-Do list, then we met up with his friend Brandon and family for Italian food at Candalari’s.  From there, we dropped in to visit his sister and her wife for a bit, and finally we joined our friend Courtney at her place, where we spent the night.  Courtney had friends over, so we all stayed up late talking and becoming sleepy-eyed until we snuggled down for the night.

The next day, we all went to brunch at Black Walnut Café.  Paul and I now have a ritual where we ALWAYS go to Black Walnut Café if we are in Houston for brunch time.  In fact, I bribed Paul into staying overnight by offering to treat us to a meal at Black Walnut, which he accepted.  It’s definitely true that the way to Paul’s heart has been through his stomach!  Usually, when we go to Black Walnut, we each order a savory entrée and then split a pancake.  This time, Paul ordered the pancake and then ate EVERY bite of it!  So that left me with a pancake craving so bad that I had to make some when we got home on Saturday.  Pancakes are such comfort food—I’m happy I can make a decent batch at home.  Sometimes you just need a plateful of comfort food, drizzled in maple syrup.

The half-marathon is this weekend, and my training for it has been lackluster at best.  I’m indulging in some blogging today before I head out for a long run.  My goal is a 90-minute run, but I’m going to see how I feel at 70 minutes (which is what I ran last week for my long run).  I am struggling SO MUCH with the “activation energy” for a run—that is to say, carving out the time and then actually getting my butt out and running.  I enjoy my runs once I’m out there, but the thought of lacing up for a long run is so daunting these days.  I’m hoping my running mojo will come back after the pressure of a race is off of me.  Then I can go out for short runs and not worry or feel guilty that they’re short.

I know I’ll finish the race on Sunday.  I also know that it won’t be a PR race.  I think this is okay.  But part of me regrets spending $60 on a race that I didn’t train very well to run.

Have you ever signed up for a race only to regret it later?  How did you talk yourself through the disappointment?

(And on that note, as soon as I publish this, I’m off to run my 7+ miles!  Happy running, friends!)  

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Thoughts on a Semi-successful Running Streak

Weeknight Sunset

Lu Likes the Recipe File

Patio Sitting

Week of February 10, 2014:

Monday: Evening treadmill run.  21 minutes total, 11 minutes of running. 

Tuesday: Evening treadmill run. 22 minutes total, 11 minutes of running.

Wednesday: Biked to and from campus (no run today).

Thursday: Bike ride for errands + Early evening run outside!  32 minutes total, 20 minutes of running.

Friday: Off (doh—another running streak fail).

Saturday: Late morning run.  34 minutes total, 21 minutes of running + Bike date with Paul.

Sunday: Off (short walk to and from tutoring, did a few push-ups…). 

Total minutes walked/ran: 109.  Estimated miles: 9.4.

As my title indicates, my attempt at a running streak was semi-successful: from last Friday through yesterday (Saturday), I ran on seven of those nine days.  Not too shabby for someone who doesn’t usually run more than three days a week!  In addition, as you can see above, I rode my bike three times for various things, including an absolutely lovely bike date with Paul.

After I started my streak, I wondered to myself, What exactly is the point of a running streak?  I suppose for each person who starts one, the answer might be different.  For me, it was an attempt to lower the activation energy of going for a run.  My problem is always, ALWAYS that it’s hard to get out the door.  I have a good track record for completing runs once I start them.  I think in all my years of running, I’ve only aborted two runs and both occasions were injury-related.  But oh, to get out the door—that takes more energy than it should.  I’d like for it not to be the case.

Now I’m looking forward and HOLY SHIT, I have a half-marathon in two weeks.  I need to crank out some long runs ASAP.  I’ve been lazy about long runs.  Part of that is not wanting to be exhausted when I tutor on Sunday nights.  The other part is just not being in the long run habit.  I’m hoping my fitness level is high enough that I can maybe, MAYBE, squeeze three long runs into my days before the half.  We shall see…keep your fingers crossed.  I’m planning to do my next long run tomorrow in the early evening, as soon as I get home from work.  Hold me accountable, please!

Happy new week, everyone!

Friday, February 14, 2014

All the News that’s Worth Sharing

Scarf from Courtney

Scarf Closer Up

Sleepy Lu

Week of February 3, 2014:

Monday: Evening run.  46 minutes total, 35 minutes of running.

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: Biked to and from campus

Thursday: A little DIY yoga

Friday: Another run.  50 minutes total, 37 minutes of running.

Saturday: Short afternoon run.  24 minutes total, 11 minutes of running.

Sunday: Another short afternoon run.  31 minutes total, 26 minutes of running.

Total minutes walked/ran: 151.  Estimated miles: 13.7.

Happy Valentine’s Day, sweet readers!  This week Paul and I celebrated our one-year anniversary: it’s been one year since our first date.  We’ve been celebrating for the past few days, mostly with food because that’s our style.  Wednesday night, Paul picked up takeout from Taz, the Indian restaurant in town and one of our favorite places to eat.  I had made ice cream in anticipation of making an ice cream pie for our anniversary on Thursday, but I couldn’t resist the chance to share it with Paul after Indian food.  So I spoiled the surprise, and we ate ice cream while watching 30 Rock and relaxing on the couch.

On Thursday, I made more ice cream (because I am ridiculous) and a giant oatmeal cookie in a pie plate.  For dinner proper, I made another one of our favorites, a vegetarian riff on Melissa Clark’s black bean dish from Cook This Now, which we doctored up with chili-garlic-flavored Cholula.  After we’d eaten our vegetables (and our protein, and our rice), we ate slices of oatmeal cookie topped with vanilla ice cream and some fresh raspberries.  The combination was fantastic—an edible Valentine, made with love.  This morning, I sent Paul home with several slices of cookie.  Feeding him makes me happy. 

In other news, my friend Courtney knitted me the beautiful scarf/shawl you see in the first two photos up there.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  My photos don’t quite capture the depth of colors in the yarn; it’s forest green with blue/pink/violet shades in it.  I’m learning how to pair it with existing pieces in my closet.  So far, I’ve been using white and pink to let the scarf really shine, plus a pink top brings out the pink in the scarf.

In running news, I broke my running streak on Wednesday this week because my day was packed from 6:30 AM to 8 PM.  I was tutoring from 5-8 PM, and I didn’t want to be too tired to be coherent, so I opted for a little more sleep and no running.  I did ride my bike to campus, which was great.  I’m a little bummed to have broken my streak so soon (I only lasted five days!), but I was back in action yesterday.  I’m enjoying this run-every-day experiment.  Running is SUCH a good stress-reliever; even jumping on the treadmill for 20 minutes leaves me feeling happier.

Let’s see, what else is going on?  Yesterday at Kohl’s, I found a pair of pants that are almost as soft as sweatpants but look like grey skinny jeans.  They’re awesome; I’m going to wear them to work today.  And lucky me—they were on clearance for $12!  I had been wanting a pair of grey skinny pants (I love Tania’s grey cords—RIP, favorite style blog), so I’m pretty thrilled to have found such a soft, comfortable option.  If you are on the market for something similar, get thee to a Kohl’s!

And now, it’s after 11 AM on a Friday.  I’m going to head into my lab job for a few hours to make things happen and write a review on DNA polymerase for a $25 Amazon gift card(!).  I buy items from Amazon so often that an Amazon card is as good as cash in my world.

Happy Friday! <3