Monday, January 30, 2012

Thank Goodness for Pockets!


Shirt Detail

Week of January 29, 2012:

Sunday: Long run!

Monday: Recovery yoga

First things first: check out my free t-shirt from Brooks!  They sent this little cutie when I ordered my new shoes, and I just love it.  I took these photos on Sunday morning before heading out for my run.  It seemed a little chilly, so I wore my black running jacket too.  The jacket, which was a gift from my best friend Heather, is heaven-sent, with its multiple pockets and thumb holes so you can pull the sleeves over your hands.  Because of the pockets, I was able to take my ID card with me (tucked into the sleeve), and I had a place to stuff my ear-warmer-headband-thingie when I was warm enough to take it off.  I tucked my keys into the little pocket in my running tights, which meant I only had to hold my kitchen timer, which I’m still using because I haven’t replaced my watch yet.  I’ll replace the watch or its battery before the half-marathon in March.

Yesterday’s long run was really good.  I’m feeling much better about the race in March because I’m now up to 70 minutes for my long run.  My legs are holding up well, and I’ve been consistently running three times a week: two 25-minute runs and one longer run.  If I can keep adding 10 minutes to my long run, I will complete a 110-minute run a week before the half-marathon.  With my running pace and that amount of time, I’ll be within striking distance of 13.1 miles.

13.1, here I come!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Birds of a Feather

Birds of a Feather

Blurry Shopping

HEB sign

Week of January 22, 2012:

Thursday: Strength exercises + some yoga

Friday: Bike commute

Saturday: Bike ride + short run

Last week was a hard week, but it redeemed itself on Friday night when a flock of grackels descended upon the intersection of Texas Avenue and Holloman Drive.  There must have been hundreds of them.  They do this periodically and in this same location.  I happened to be there because I decided that grocery shopping was the way to redeem a Friday that left my feathers ruffled.  (I am ridiculous.  I went grocery shopping three times last week.  Insanity!  Also, I have a lot of food at home now, which feels blissful to me.)

I always wonder, when the grackels descend, what other people think of this otherworldly experience.  I love it.  There’s something magical to me about flocks of birds, the way they congregate and talk to each other and flit from one sitting spot to another.  And they’re loud too!  It’s hard not to notice the grackels, but do other people stop to watch them the way I do?  Do other people whip out their cameras to catch them on (digital) film?  I don’t know.  But I am grateful for the way the grackels always lift me out of my self-absorbed, grouchy funk and remind me to look up.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Close to Zen

Week of January 22, 2012:

Monday: Off (off running errands, that is)

Tuesday: Bike commute

Wednesday: Short run

I apologize that I have no eye candy to share with you today.  It’s been gray and rainy here, and I’ve been feeling like molasses.  Some weeks you just aren’t quite yourself.

But last night, I was molasses-free and had one of the best runs ever.  It started off the way most runs do, with my body saying, “WHAT, exactly, are we DOING?!?”  My body always stages a mild protest whenever we start a run, and I have learned to ignore its complaints.  After the first mile or so, we settled into a friendly truce, and I spaced out for a while.  When I came back to earth and thought about the fact that here I am, running again, I realized that it felt almost effortless.  It was a Zen-like experience, the ease with which my legs carried me over the sidewalks.  It was so nice to have a run like this after Sunday’s slog.

I will say that I am so happy today is Thursday because it’s really hard to get through the week when you feel like molasses.  Just two more days of running around, doing experiments, and then I can be as molasses-like as I want without feeling guilty!  Of course by Saturday I’ll probably be recovered from my molasses condition, and that would be even better.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Now Reporting from Running Anxiety Central

New Shoes from the Top

New Shoes from the Side

Week of January 15, 2012:

Friday: Short run + 2x20 sec sprints

Saturday: Will bike for food

Week of January 22, 2012:

Sunday: LONG RUN!

First things first: check out my new running shoes!  I had long resisted buying pink running shoes, but this time, I gave in to the temptation, and here they are: my pink Brooks Adrenaline.  My old pair was also the Adrenaline line.  The new shoes seem a bit bulkier than the old ones, but the fit is good, so I have no complaints.

I took the new shoes on a test run (ride) by wearing them on Saturday when I biked to and from the grocery store.  They felt totally comfortable, so I decided to take a chance by wearing them on this week’s long run.  And while the shoes did fine, I was another story.  I’m not going to lie, dear readers: this was one slog of a run.  There were all sorts of reasons: I’ve been generally tired this weekend, it was hot and humid (for January, at least) and I was overdressed for the weather, and on Saturday night I whacked my knee on the coffee table so it was a little sore today.  I had to stop a few times to remove layers—I rolled up my running tights to make them into fake capris, and I took off my long-sleeve tee.  I wish I’d worn shorts and a tank top today!  But it was too late for hindsight, so I slogged my way through a slow 60-minute run.

You know, I don’t think every run can or should be easy.  Some runs will be slogs, and I believe that it’s during those runs we are building our endurance and indeed, proving to ourselves that we are runners.  Because it’s not always easy, and it’s not always fun.  I think that last point is probably true about most things worth pursuing in life.

Fortunately, at the end of long runs, there are hot showers, and stretching, and pizza.  Yum.

Sunday Lunch  

How were your long runs, friends?  Good, bad, sloggy?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

I reserve the right to wear funny socks

Awesome Socks

Week of January 15, 2012:

Sunday: Short run with friend

Monday: Bike commute

Tuesday: Off (sushi birthday dinner with Christy and the girls!)

Wednesday: Long run

Thursday: Yoga (Morning Flow #1)

We have my lovely and generous friend Heather to thank for these silly socks.  They’re fleecy and warm and they look ridiculous worn with a skirt.  But hey, that’s what Sundays are for.

The running is going well here at Feels Like Flying headquarters!  I have to tell you, I’m feeling very nervous about the half-marathon in March because my long run distance is nowhere near where it needs to be for a 13.1-mile race.  I’m not really “racing” this race, but I’d still like to enjoy it and yes, (maybe, fingers crossed) even finish with a respectable time of less than 2:30.  My friend Christy is probably not running the half due to injury, though we’re going to continue to run together for fun and companionship, so I’m free to come up with the best race strategy for me.

Last night, after work, I headed out for a 5-6 mile run and clocked in with 50 minutes by the end of the run.  And it felt great!  I felt strong and reasonably fast for a long run, and it made me feel optimistic that the idea to run a half this year is not completely stupid.  My goal from now until the half is to run three days a week, with one of those runs an ever-increasing long run.  If I had no limits on my time, I’d run every other day, thus squeezing in an extra one or two long runs before the half, but that may be asking too much.  So three runs a week it is, and I’m hoping I can get in an 80-minute run by March 4.  I plan to use a run-walk strategy so that my recovery after the half will be faster, which in turn will let me run strong all spring long.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Runners, Open Your Wallets!

Open your wallet

In my opinion, as a sport, running is only as expensive as you make it, with a few exceptions.  In warmer weather, running is t-shirt, shorts, shoes, and off you go.  In wintertime, it’s running tights, a few layers on top, warm stuff on ears and hands, shoes, and off you go.  If you are healthy and injury-free, running can be a pretty wallet-friendly sport.  The two things that start tugging dollars out of my wallet are shoes and races.

Oh, shoes.  I’ve been so, so lucky to discover a brand of shoes that works for me, and to have found them early in my running adventures.  I’m a loyal Brooks girl and have been for (gosh, can it be?) twelve years.  I haven’t stuck with many things for twelve years—not a man nor a home—but my running shoes, yes.  I love Brooks shoes.  I love that I can order them on-line without even trying them on and feel pretty confident that I’ll have a great pair of running shoes on my feet when they arrive.

This month I finally bit the bullet and bought new running shoes, which I’ll show you (ha, I just typed “shoe you”!) in photographic form after they arrive.  I’m pretty excited and think these new shoes will give my runs a little extra pep.  The other thing I finally did this month is register for the 2012 Armadillo Dash.  It’s a local race, so no travel/hotel/eating out expenses for me with this event.  I would love to travel for a race this year, and maybe I will if JD and I can run the Solstice 10K in Michigan in June.  That would be terrific, as JD is a great running buddy and I would love to race a 10K.  I’ve never run a 10K race!  But it seems like the perfect “short long distance”: short enough to be run at a fast clip but long enough that you aren’t out-and-out sprinting the way that a 5K can feel.

Yes, races are awesome, if a bit pricy at times.  But I’m excited to have some big-deal running events on my calendar for the year, and I’m looking forward to taking my new shoes on their inaugural run after they arrive.

(Another possible wallet side effect of running: feeling justified in eating more food and drinking more wine.  But that, my friends, may be a story for another day.  Cheers!)

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Beautiful Week

Holy Moly

Winter Biking

Week of January 8, 2012:

Thursday: Run (25 min. + 2x20 sec sprints)

Friday: Bike commute to and from work

Saturday: Bike ride for groceries at hippie food store, Yoga

These Texas sunsets!  My goodness, they slay me.  I love that I can share them with you here, though my camera can’t capture the incredible panoramic view of a Texas sky.  You’ll just have to come visit me to see for yourself.

Last week was a good one: productive enough at work, relaxed enough at home, and I managed to run three times!  I can’t remember the last time I fit three runs into one week.  Let’s hope this habit sticks around because I’ve got a race with my name on it and the credit card bill to prove it.

By the way, I’m really enjoying my two 20-second sprints at the end of short runs.  I’d like to do it after both short runs each week, but I’ll settle for doing it at least once.  In the next few weeks, I need to make some adjustments to when and how I do my runs in order to get some mileage under my feet for the half-marathon, but I’ll tell you more about that soon.  Life!  It’s constantly throwing curveballs at me.  But running is treating me well, and I plan to treat my training schedule right.

Have a terrific week, everyone!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Legs, Meet Your Destiny

January Sunset

Winter Legs

Week of January 8, 2012:

Monday: Yoga (Gentle Hatha #1, 20 minutes)

Tuesday: Bike and run

Wednesday: Off (though I did walk over to Blue Baker to buy bread…does that count?)

I like to count my victories wherever I find them, and this week, I’ve already run twice!  Whoa, stop the presses, right?  On Tuesday, I rode my bike to work, and in a pencil skirt no less.  In the evening, after work, I ran for 25 minutes, though I did not wear the pencil skirt for that.  I had the strangest pain during Tuesday’s short run: an achy inner thigh muscle—my right groin, I suppose?  I’ve never had pain in that part of my body during running, so I’m not sure what to think.  It doesn’t hurt today, but I’m still puzzled by it.

This week has been pretty lovely in general.  The undergraduates still haven’t returned, so campus is very quiet and peaceful.  The weather has been up and down, but today we reached 70+ degrees!  That kind of weather is not conducive to my productivity at work, so I have to be extra-disciplined when I just want to run away and play.  Instead, I revised my grant and wrote some new text, read a paper for journal club, and did a tiny bit of active research stuff.  I did not skip off into the sunshine, shouting, “See ya, suckers!”  Though it was very tempting indeed…

And do you see that sunset above in the first photo?  Texas, I swear, sometimes I think I might be falling for you.

Monday, January 9, 2012

“Welcome back,” said the road.

Week of January 1, 2012:

Saturday: Long walk with a friend

Week of January 8, 2012:

Sunday: Long run!

So.  It’s January of the new year, and I am sitting eight weeks out from a half-marathon that I just committed to running.  I’m excited and nervous!

I’m excited because I miss running regularly.  My commitment to running over the past six months has been sporadic, and while that may be frustrating, I know that I’m responsible for my own flaky behavior.  Now, with a race on my calendar and a friend to run with me, I know that I’m on the right path toward a more disciplined running routine.  That makes me happy.

It also makes me nervous because the most I’ve run in the past month has been about six miles (with my speedy friend JD!), and a half-marathon requires twice that distance and then some.  My running buddy Christy is recovering from some injuries, so we need to tailor our plan for her running ability.  I’m happy to do that.  In fact, I have a question for all of you, my blogging/running friends.  I’m thinking that for Christy and me, a run/walk plan might be good for the half, something like this:

Run 4 miles.

Walk 1 mile.

Run 4 miles.

Walk 1 mile.

Run 3.1 miles

Finish victoriously!

What do you think?

I think the run/walk plan might be more forgiving of our injuries/short training season.  I have two goals centered around the half-marathon: 1) complete it with my friend, if she’s able to enter the race and 2) use the half-marathon training season as a way of re-establishing a running routine that gets me into my sneakers 2-3 times a week.  I have a habit of not running much at all after finishing a half; this year, I’d like to keep running outside until the end of May, if I can take the heat.

Yesterday I headed out for my first serious post-illness run, and I decided to jump right into it.  I’m never really sure how to get back into my exercise habits after an illness, so I decided that I would try to run 4-5 miles, with walking breaks if necessary.  I ran about 12 minutes to my favorite park, dropped off my sweatshirt near the kids’ play area, and felt a little dizzy, so I sat down for a minute.  Then I felt better and ran about 3 miles (26 minutes) around the park.  Then I retrieved my sweatshirt, walked for 5 minutes, and ran another 10 minutes toward home.  I cooled down by walking another 10 minutes or so, figuring that if I’m following a run/walk plan for the half, then a longer walking cooldown is really part training, part cooldown.

I felt really, REALLY good after this run, and that happy feeling stayed with me all day.  I’m feeling upbeat about establishing a new running routine for the new year, and I’m hoping the positive momentum from running will spill over into the rest of my life.

And on Sundays, this is what the rest of my life looks like:

My Sunday Office

Here I am in my Sunday office.  I love Sundays.

Have a good week, my dears!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Odds and Ends, Bits and Bobs

Loose ends make me uncomfortable.  I often wish the world would comply with my need for boundaries and definitions, but alas, I’ll have to settle for reality.  It’s just so messy!  Gah.  Maybe I should go clean something now, as a way of giving the finger to this noncompliant world of ours.

(And here I pause to unload the washing machine, hang up the wet clothes, and fold some dry clothes.  Ah, sweet order!)

I have two little projects lurking on this blog, and I wanted to say a few words about them.  The first is Speed Demons, which I’m afraid never went anywhere.  It was all my fault—I didn’t put any oomph into it.  To be honest, I’ve had a hard time finding a groove with my running over the last six months or so.  It’s not that I haven’t been running, but I find that my groove keeps falling off the track when pushed by something unexpected—illness, travel, work-related chaos.  I feel like I don’t even know how to establish a groove any more.  Help!

My first order of business is to find my running groove again, which means running 2-3 times a week with a long run on the weekend, in preparation for the half-marathon in March.  For now, I’m planning to do 2x20 second sprints as easy speedwork, for fun.  I’m officially retiring Speed Demons (the feature, not any actual demons that consider themselves speedy), which makes me sad, but I’ll still cheer for you, dear reader, if you want to tell me how freakin’ fast you are running these days.

The second project is Unplugged After Five, which is more like Unplugged After Six because I work until close to 6 PM most nights.  This project actually went really well in November!  I had six evenings during which I didn’t touch a computer once I was home.  I carried UAF into December with another five computer-free nights, and it was peaceful and lovely.  I consider this goal accomplished, and I’m ready to reward myself with some new tights from We Love Colors.

I would love to do Unplugged After Five (or Six) this month, but because I’m writing a grant, I’m not sure if I should commit to computer-less evenings.  Maybe I could do one night a week?  It is really nice to take a break from screens to enjoy more old-fashioned pleasures, like listening to the radio or reading a book.  I think one night a week is do-able, which means now I have to think of how best to reward myself for getting my writing work done before 5 (or 6) PM…any suggestions?   

Friday, January 6, 2012

Healthy Again! (Almost…)

Fence with Trees and Shadow

Trees with Color

Week of January 1, 2012:

Sunday: Walk

Monday: Sprints + Short run

Tuesday: Bike

Wednesday: Walk (very, very slowly…)

Thursday: A little strength training

Friday: Walk (faster this time!)

One of the inevitabilities of traveling, at least for me, is that I get sick every time I visit Michigan.  Every time!  It’s ridiculous.  I think there is a combinatorial effect between the long travel day and exposure to a bunch of Midwestern germs such that my immune system just can’t keep up with the demands.  So here I am, back in Texas for over a week and today I finally feel like this cold is receding.

But the trip was worth it!  I had a great time with my family, and JD and I even managed to burn off some holiday calories with two runs, which he wrote about here.  Thanks, JD!  He totally kicked my butt during our 6-miler, but I see I redeemed myself during our 2-miler.

Since returning to Texas, running has been on the back burner while I cough and sniffle and feel my feverish forehead.  I hate being cooped up in the house, particularly when the weather is lovely, so I tried to get outside a bit every day this week, mostly for walks.  I figure that slow, short walks don’t put much stress on my immune system, right?  And just as I typed that, my immune system responded by saying, “Cough cough cough!”  Hrrmm.  Maybe I should have been on bed rest this week!

I am trying something fun and interesting with my running.  I heard on a podcast that there was a study that found that one minute of exercise every day is enough to keep diabetes at bay.  What must one do for one minute for this magical effect?  Two 20-second sprints of something, going all out, with a 10-second break between the two sprints.  In the study, I think the subjects did sprints on stationary bikes, but I’m going to do my sprints on foot.  I don’t have diabetes or any chronic health problems (current cold excluded), but it’s fun to try different things with your running.  I figure it gives me a chance to work my fast-twitch muscles, which, to be honest, don’t get much use.  Or perhaps I should say they don’t get enough use.

I figure I can do my little sprints twice a week, just for fun.  Why not?  Also on the agenda: half-marathon training with Christy on Sunday!  I’m excited to see my friend and get back into my sneakers.