Thursday, August 30, 2012

Flying Toward Friday

Crane in Sky

Big Drill

Me_Hi Again

Week of August 26, 2012:

Monday: Yoga (Dave Farmar’s Baptiste Power Vinyasa Flow #3)

Tuesday: Morning run (20 minutes) + Evening bike ride for groceries

Wednesday: Speed work-out on the treadmill (a 25-minute ladder series—the same one I posted here)

Thursday: Off

It’s been a crazy week around here since all the college students have returned and class is back in session.  Even though I’m neither a student nor a professor, the first week of classes is always nuts because everyone forgets how to drive, how to be polite, and how to wait for their turn.  For those of us locals who are here year-round, through the summer and all the holiday breaks, it’s really hard to adjust to the more crowded, hectic way of life when class is in session.

(How many days until Thanksgiving?!?)

On a more positive note, I’ve had a great week in two very good ways.  The first is that I’ve had an especially productive week at work, putting together (most of) the figures for my first-author paper!  It’s very exciting and satisfying work.  The second is that I’ve had a good running week, clocking 90 minutes already, including a speed work-out!  I’m hoping to get one more running work-out in tomorrow morning, which will require me to get up early to get it done. 

As Coach Eric Taylor would say, “Git ‘er done!”  So that’s what I’m going to do.

PS  My side of campus has been undergoing major construction, and today’s photos provide some evidence.  Check out that drill!  Whoa. 

PPS  I loved Friday Night Lights, and I’m so glad I didn’t watch it until after I moved to Texas.  It was even better, I think, viewed through the eyes of a new Texas resident.  Clear eyes full hearts!  Or another interpretation: Clear Thesis Strong Analysis Can’t Lose.

Happy almost Friday, y’all!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summertime Hibernating

Post-run Legs

Week of August 19, 2012:

Saturday: Bike ride to the lab and for groceries

Total minutes run this week: 75.

Week of August 26, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (45 minutes)

It’s a weekend for hibernating, and for two very good reasons.  The first is that I think I’ve been fighting off a cold or an infection.  I have been feeling unusually tired, and it's been a bit of a struggle to get up for my morning runs and then feel perky for the rest of the day.  The second is that the fall semester starts tomorrow, which means it’s crazytown around here.  SO MANY PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!  Good-bye, quiet summer and peaceful streets.  See you again at Thanksgiving.

I’ve been laying low, trying to rest and recharge my batteries.  There’s been some good food, some Big Love on DVD, and some toenail-painting.  And this morning, there was a nice long run, done in the heat and humidity that one expects from Texas.  Our cool spell appears to be over (another reason to hibernate!), and I set out for my 45-minute run around 10 AM, I think.  I had a hard time getting myself out the door, but once I did, my run was good.  I reminded myself that Sunday runs are all about LSD: Long Slow Distance.  Today was not about speed—it was just about being out there, trotting along, letting the minutes tick by.  I think by emphasizing the Slow part of LSD, I was able to have a pretty good run, one that left me feeling accomplished but not demolished.

I admit that I’m a little bummed that my running mileage was so low last week, but I did a lot of bike-riding too.  Fitness-wise, it was a good week, so I should probably not be too hard on myself that I ran less last week than I have in several weeks.  I know that I backed off intentionally to ward off the illness that I seem to be incubating, so maybe I should be patting myself on the back for not being stupid about my training!  This week I’m hopeful that I can hit 100 minutes, with two 20-minute morning runs and a speed work-out on the treadmill.  Actually, if all goes as planned, I’ll be a little over 100 minutes, which would also be just fine with me.

Happy week to you!

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Best Bike Ride

August by morning…

Gorgeous Wednesday Morning Sunrise

…and by evening.

Cloudy Evening

Week of August 19, 2012:

Monday: Evening walk with a friend

Tuesday: Evening bike ride for groceries

Wednesday: Morning run (20 minutes)

Thursday: Yoga (Morning Flow #1)

Friday: Morning run (20 minutes)

It’s been an emotionally exhausting week for me, but there was one particularly bright spot: Tuesday evening’s bike ride.  To be honest, I’m not sure I would have hopped on the bike if I hadn’t needed groceries, but I did, so I did.

And it was glorious.

We’ve had a cool spell this week, and the evening air felt luxuriously mild, with hints of fall.  I felt fast and free on the bike, legs pumping and wheels flying.  I was pretty excited to go grocery shopping too, as I had plans to try out a new recipe for dinner—something quick and easy but very delicious.  (Recipe coming soon, I think!)  What struck me about that evening is the simplicity that exercise brings to my life.  I am overwhelmed with other people’s confessions, secrets, and deceptions this week.  Absolutely overwhelmed—and for the first time in a long time, my own dramas seem to have receded.  But my bike ride was so simple, almost pure in its pleasure—just me, the bike, and a gorgeous Texas evening.  When I returned home, I felt refreshed and more like myself, a feeling that one should not take for granted.

Have a good weekend, my dears.  May your work-outs refresh, invigorate, and relax you.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Definitely a Brick Run

Sunday Clouds

Wobbly Shotglass

This is how my legs feel after a brick run!

Week of August 12, 2012:

Saturday: Short bike ride for groceries (otherwise, a rest day)

Week of August 19, 2012:

Sunday: Brick run!  Bike ride to work and back with a 35-minute run in the middle

We had a storm roll through the area last night, which cooled things off considerably.  The cool, cloudy morning is the sort of thing that one dreams of seeing after days of temperatures topping 100 degrees F, so it was an absolute pleasure to be outside exercising today.

I had a quick something to do at work this morning, so I rode my bike over to the lab, took care of business, then rode the bike back to my favorite park.  I hopped off the bike and trotted off on a neighborhood loop to do a 35-minute run.  Now, 35 minutes is not a particularly long run, but it certainly felt long enough when I realized that I was doing a real brick run: a run directly following several miles of biking.  Indeed, my legs felt a bit bricklike: kinda heavy and not as fast as I would have expected after an easy running day (Friday) and an almost-rest day (Saturday).  Brick legs are not necessarily a bad thing: I figure that heavy-feeling legs are a sign that I’m building endurance.  Nothing hurt, so I wasn’t worried about injury, but I knew that 35 minutes was the right interval for this run.

I’ve spent the rest of the day alternating between the kitchen (homemade pizza for dinner!), doing science work on the computer, and pleasure reading.  My favorite piece I read today was from Already Pretty, a reflective post on “The ‘Treat Yourself’ Mentality.”  It got me thinking about life as an academic and how our profession really cultivates the feeling and attitude that “there’s no real end in sight.”  I think I’m in a much better place professionally than I was a year ago, but my goodness, that feeling that you can never be working hard enough and adding enough lines to your CV can be very demoralizing.  This topic is one that I need to explore in greater depth, as I begin to juggle the demands of revising a grant, writing my paper, a little teaching(!) and oh yeah, continuing to do experiments for my project…

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Terrific Run, a Terrific Week

Week of August 12, 2012:

Wednesday: Morning run (25 minutes!)

Thursday: Evening treadmill work-out (more about that below)

Friday: Morning run (20 minutes)

Total minutes run this week: 90.  Boo-yah!

First of all, does anyone actually say, “Booyah!” any more?  No?  Okay.  I’m an old lady, so it’s very difficult for me to keep up with the slang that all the kids are using these days.  Other trends I struggle with include skinny jeans, texting, and acting coolly indifferent to everything.  Let’s just say I am easily EXCITED!  (But here’s one more trend I stay away from: the use of excessive exclamation points.  I think one is sufficient.  Right?  Right!)

Anyway, I am excited to report that I hit 90 minutes of running this week, which probably translates to about 10 miles (+/- 1 mile).  I ran every day from Tuesday through Friday, thus making up for my lost long run.  Thursday’s work-out was especially good.  Inspired by Chrissy’s example, I decided to do a “ladder”-style speed work-out on the treadmill.  It’s one of my favorite work-outs, and mine looked like this:

5 min. @ 9:00/mile

5 min. @ 8:30/mile

5 min. @ 8:00/mile

5 min. @ 8:30/mile

5 min. @ 9:00/mile

Plus a little cooldown, for a total of 25 minutes of quality treadmill running.

I figure if I’m going to be on the treadmill, I might as well take advantage of the t-mill’s strength: pacing you during speed work-outs.  What was particularly awesome is that I wasn’t feel all that great yesterday, but I felt quite good during and after my work-out.  So that was a nice reward for my hard work!

Happy weekend, everyone! (!!!)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Week of August 5, 2012:

Friday: Short bike ride home from the bike shop

Saturday: Short bike ride for groceries + 20 min. on elliptical + Dog-walking at Lick Creek Park with Erin, Darwin, and Dixie

Total minutes run this week: 85.

Week of August 12, 2012:

Sunday: Bike ride for groceries

Monday: Yoga (Dave Farmar’s Baptiste Power Vinyasa #3)

Tuesday: Morning run (20 minutes)

You’ll notice that there was no long run on Sunday, which is highly unusual for me.  The reason is, I think, equal parts reasonable and silly: I was out of almond milk and needed to get to the grocery store (grocery list FAIL! I apparently forget that the point of putting something on the list is that I need to buy it at the store.).  I decided that in the wake of all the exercise on Saturday, I wasn’t up for several miles of bike-riding and a long run in the August heat, so I skipped the long run.

So now what?  I’ve been debating with myself what to do to make up those miles.  Wake up extra early to do a long run?  Hit the treadmill for an hour?  Let myself off the hook?  I think I’m going to try to meet my mileage goal this week (85-100 minutes of running), whether that means several shorter runs (like this morning) or carving out time for a longer run.  It’s really hard for me to do a longer run outside during the work week because running long on an empty stomach makes me very nervous, and getting up at 5 AM to run is not at all appealing.  And I feel like an evening long run is not even an option, with the 100-degree temps we’ve had lately.

Clearly the right answer is that August needs to hurry up and get the heck out of here, because the heat puts a serious crimp in my outdoor exercise routines!  Realistically, because I’m building up a base right now, missing a long run isn’t a huge setback.  And all runners encounter challenges in their training schedules, so we have to be flexible enough to deal with the unexpected.

But seriously: 17 days left in August!  Almost halfway done!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Don’t Even Think About It

A Prelude to Fall Football

August Flowers


Week of August 5, 2012:

Monday: Very short bike ride to Home Depot for some supplies(!)

Tuesday: Morning run (20 minutes)

Wednesday: Half a bike ride commute (I left my bike on campus, and thank goodness, it wasn’t stolen or dismembered!)

Thursday: Morning run (20 minutes)

I checked my calendar, and this week marks the fourth week of my morning weekday runs.  I think I am finally establishing a habit of running before work two days a week, and it feels great.  This summer is the first one in Texas in which I’ve actually done a decent amount of running outside.  I won’t lie: it was almost entirely motivated by the hope that running would make me feel better in the wake of my break-up.  I do not want to turn into a pile of mush on the couch, and morning running seemed like a good way to strive for something new, rewarding, and attainable.  So much in my life right now seems like it’s not under my control, but running is not one of those things.  I am learning that I can do this, I can run outside in July and August in Texas!

The trick, it seems, is to not think about it.  Or to keep thinking to a minimum.  The extent of my thinking now is on Monday and Wednesday nights, I set out my running clothes.  That’s it.  My alarm is set for (more or less) the same time every day, so I’m not getting up too much earlier on running mornings.  Then when the alarm goes off, I just get up and get dressed, put in my contact lenses, strap on my watch and shoes, grab my keys, and I’m out the door.  NO THINKING!  It’s kind of amazing how that works.

The harder part of my new summer routine is being tired enough to fall asleep at an earlier time.  Enforcing an earlier bedtime for myself has been more challenging, but tonight I’m definitely feeling ready for bed, and it’s only 10:15 PM.  So on that note, I think I’m off to dream about sleeping on clouds in perfect peace.  That’s what I think about now, when I’m trying to drift off to sleep.

Have a peaceful weekend, my dears.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Reward

Week of July 29, 2012:

Friday: Off

Saturday: Cross-training on the elliptical machine (20 min. at moderate intensity, plus 3 min. cooldown) + Biking for errands

Total minutes run this week: 85.

Week of August 5, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (45 minutes)

I know you are all eagerly awaiting an update on my butt, so here it is: we’re fine.  I’m treating the “injury” conservatively, so that means on Saturday, I was on the elliptical in my little apartment gym rather than running on the streets.  I hadn’t been on an elliptical in a long, long time, and it was kinda fun.  This morning, I was able to complete my long run with no problems—no pain or soreness from the problem area, and now, about six hours after I finished running, I only feel pain if I try to lean back and sit right on my tailbone.  (As an example, trying to sit in boat pose is a bad idea for me.)

I didn’t increase my mileage last week, and I probably won’t this week either, just to play it safe with my bones.  I did, however, get out and run three days last week, and this morning, my long run felt great, almost effortless.  That’s definitely a sign that my running fitness is returning, and I could not be happier.  I think all those weekday morning runs are starting to add up!

Along with a great Sunday run, I was rewarded with a fresh plum on my morning oatmeal.  I love love LOVE stone fruits, especially peaches and plums.  It’s tough to pick out perfect ones.  Much like dating, you simply have to keep picking different fruits, testing your luck, giving each one a taste.  And much like dating, when a fruit is mediocre, it’s crushing, but when it’s excellent, it’s nothing short of bliss.

Lately, and most fortunately, the stone fruits in my life have been better than the men in my life.

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Fresh Plums

(Mmm, perfect plums.)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Think I Broke My Butt

Week of July 22, 2012:

Saturday: 8-minute morning run + 2x20 second sprints + Bike ride for groceries

Total minutes run this week: 88

Week of July 29, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (45 minutes)

Monday: Off

Tuesday: Short morning run (20 minutes)

Wednesday: Bike ride for groceries

Thursday: Short morning run (20 minutes)

Whew!  This update is lengthy because I’ve been so excited about races that I haven’t posted a work-out update in about a week.  In short, things are going well.  It’s hot as Hades down here now, so I’m doing my best to run in the morning as early as possible.  On Sunday, I definitely got out later than I would have liked, and I paid the price.  The run that day was hard, and I didn’t feel terrific.  But I was able to find a rhythm and enjoy some of that meditative running during my work-out.  I really, really wished that I had brought water with me because I was so parched at the end (and I ended at a nearby park, not at my apartment), but I did manage to make it home without incident.

Because summer in Texas is such a challenging time for running, I have low expectations for my summer running.  My main goal is to build the base, to get some miles under my feet so I can head into fall stronger and faster.  I do think I’m accomplishing that, so I’m okay with slow, sloggy miles during these hot, hot days.  Unfortunately, this week I noticed that my tailbone feels very tender, and certain sitting positions hurt.  This happens to me sometimes when I’m running more miles, and I have been known to retreat to the elliptical machine to get a running-like work-out without the pounding.

I feel pretty confident that it’s just some minor bone bruising from running and possibly from sitting on my bum while biking.  So I didn’t really break my butt, but I will be monitoring it to make sure the pain doesn’t get worse.  If it does, I may hit the elliptical to buy myself some healing time.  We’ll see!