Sunday, September 30, 2012

(Not so) Snappy

Week of September 23, 2012:
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Morning run (25 minutes) + Evening bike ride for groceries
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Morning run (25 minutes)
Friday: Off (other than a brief bike ride to Half-Price Books)
Saturday: Bike ride to work and HEB for the rain! 

Total minutes run this week: 104.  Whoa!

Week of September 30, 2012: 
Sunday: Long run (55 minutes)

I'm going to try to make this snappy because I don't have much time.  I am blogging to you from an undisclosed location.  Yesterday, I broke my laptop computer's screen, so my main computer (my baby!) is now unusable until it is repaired by Dell.  I'll ship the computer off to Dell some time this week, and hopefully it comes back quickly, but until then, it's going to be tough for me to blog with the same panache as usual.  If the formatting seems different on this post, it's because I'm using the Blogger interface rather than my usual Windows Live Writer, so it's hard for me to tell which settings to use.

Anyway, the broken computer was the low point of this weekend.  There have been several high points: a great long run this morning, complete with cool temperatures, drizzly rain, and a cute runner dude who said, "Howdy" as he flew past me.  I bet he was doing speedwork, and a nice job he was doing indeed.  When I passed him with my slow and steady pace, he said, "Good job."  I replied, "Thanks, you too!"  It was a sweet moment.  I'll admit it: as a straight female, I love kindhearted male attention.  I don't like catcalls or mocking; I'm not a big fan of any interaction that reeks of competition.  But a friendly hello or a sincere-looking smile?  Oh yes, I'm down with that.

This morning's run was really wonderful.  I felt strong and serene, running for almost an hour.  I can't believe I'm running such long distances and it's only the end of September!  I've been thinking about what my goals will be for my next half-marathon: sub-1:55?  Sub-1:50?!?  I think the former is totally do-able: I'm already in pretty good running shape, and my next half is five months away.  I feel like it won't be too much of a stretch to get just a bit faster to break 1:55.  1:50, however, is a new beast, but I think it's worth considering how I might incorporate some speedwork into longer runs to get close to a 1:50 finish time.  I'm not sure--these ideas are just possibilities.  And then, after the half-marathon, there will be marathon training.  I've got ideas for that as well--training plans, travel plans.  I'm so, so excited about meeting several of you in Chicago next year.  What a trip that will be!

But for now, there is a broken computer to send off, a new week on the horizon, and a Nature paper that I need to download.  Have a great week, my dears.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Things are Looking Down Over Here

Good Weather 9_28_12

{Screen shot from}

Indeed, things are looking down in a very good way!  Check out those lows for the next few days—they’re in the 60s.  I am pumped.  Is it time to break out the leg warmers?

In other weather news, there’s a full moon this weekend!  In fact, it’s the harvest moon, the full moon closest to the autumn equinox (which I believe we just passed).  I’ll be outside tomorrow night between 6:30 and 7 PM to watch for the harvest moonrise.  If only I drank pumpkin beer…that seems like it would be the perfect beverage to sip while watching the harvest moon.

Happy weekend, everyone.

Monday, September 24, 2012

I Run, You Run

Week of September 16, 2012:

Wednesday: Bike ride for groceries

Thursday: A quickie strength session at night (push-ups, crunches, squats, etc.)

Friday: Evening run (30 minutes)

Saturday: Bike ride to campus and the hippie food store

Total minutes run this week: 85.

Week of September 23, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (54 minutes)  54 minutes!  Hurray!

I love that Mondays have become Training Update Day among my running-blogger friends.  Raquelita’s and Chrissy’s updates today were very inspiring—they had great training weeks last week, and I’m excited for their upcoming races.  Reading their posts was like an infusion of positive running vibes right into my brain.

My training week last week wasn’t too bad.  I seem to have shifted back into a pattern of evening runs, and that was deliberate: I really needed my sleep.  But I’m happy that I had three solid runs, three bike rides for various errands, and a decent week at work.  I’m always playing the balancing game when it comes to my energy levels: am I getting enough done?  Am I getting some miles under my feet?  Am I getting enough sleep?  Am I making some time for fun?

This week I’m going to try to shift back into morning runs for two reasons.  One is that this week is supposed to be hotter than last week, and believe me—I felt the heat on Sunday when I headed out at 11 AM for a morning run.  It was a tough one.  The other reason is that I may be going out two nights in a row, so I’m not sure that running will be an option on those evenings.

Finally, can I just say that red lentil dahl may be the perfect meal on long run days?  I made Chrissy’s starving artist recipe again, and man, it is fantastic.  This time I used a hunk of fresh ginger for even more flavor.  I’m starting to think that the smell of fresh garlic and ginger cooking in hot oil will cure whatever ails you.  Yum.

Sunday Lunch

Have a great week, friends!  Keep up the good work.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Light as a Feather

Flags at Half-Mast

Through the Screen Door

Near the Patio

Can you see the evidence of rain?  Ah, sweet, lovely, cooling rain!

Week of September 9, 2012:

Friday: Long run (30 minutes in the evening)

Saturday: Errands via the bike

Total minutes run this week: 95 (not too shabby!)

Week of September 16, 2012:

Sunday: Short morning run (25 minutes) and more errands via the bike

Monday: Yoga (Dave Farmar’s 20-minute session)

Tuesday: Long run (30 minutes in the evening)

Hey, hey!

This week is flying by for me, but I thought I’d stop in here to give a big thumbs-up to the weather, which has been fantastic.  On my long run last Friday, I really did feel like I was flying—the cooler evening made me feel unstoppable after all those humid mornings of trying to run on sleepy legs before breakfast.  Now, don’t get me wrong: I am happy that I seem to be getting the hang of this morning run thing—it’s a useful trick, being able to get a work-out done literally first thing in the morning.  I plan to do it again on Thursday because I’m going out with friends in the evening, and it would be nice to have a run under my belt feet for the day.  But evening running is almost always easier for me than morning runs—my body is awake and sufficiently warmed up that running is less challenging.  I do love my Sunday long runs, which seem like a different beast altogether.  On work days it has to be either first-thing morning runs or after-work evening runs.  Tonight I’m feeling grateful that the cooler weather as of late has given me the option of both without resorting to a treadmill.

Happy almost-fall, everyone!

Friday, September 14, 2012

There is Always Time for Push-ups

The views from this week… 

Tuesday Sunrise

Neon Yellow Shorts

Check out these crazy neon yellow shorts underneath my running skirt!

Friday Morning Prim and Proper

No crazy neon yellow shorts underneath my dress here.  Sorry to disappoint!  But do you like my polka-dots and heels?

Week of September 9, 2012:

Monday: A bit of strength training (push-ups, crunches, squats)

Tuesday: Morning run (20 minutes)

Wednesday: Evening bike ride for groceries

Thursday: A short bout of strength training + yoga

I’m really tired this week and for no obvious reason except that I might be experiencing some allergies.  Prior to this week, I never thought I had seasonal allergies, but after describing my symptoms to a friend, he suggested I might and asked if I had post-nasal drip.  I said, “No.”

{Sniffle sniffle}  Actually, yes, I do, a little bit.  So seasonal allergies may explain my tiredness this week.  I was eating breakfast this morning, and I thought to myself, I would love to just crawl back into bed, even after drinking this coffee, and sleep for another two hours!  That didn’t happen, but at least today is Friday!  TGIF, my friends.

While there never seems to be enough time for all the sleep I want, there is always time for push-ups!  I’m not as serious about strength-training as I’d like to be—I tend to do it if and when I feel like it.  I do consider yoga to be a form of strength training, with all that isometric holding of poses as well as the graceful transitions from one pose to the next.  Yoga is like choreographed strength training with beautiful flow.  But I also like push-ups, plank position, crunches, squats, lunges, and all sorts of quick, easy strength-training.  I find those exercises tend to make me feel calm and energized—a wonderful feeling indeed!  So even though I feel like I’ve been really crunched for time this week, I’m happy I’ve been able to squeeze in some strength work.  Tonight I’m hoping to get outside for a long-ish run.  We’re in the middle of a cool spell, and it would be fantastic to take advantage of it with a good run.

Happy weekend, everyone!  TGIF!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Kind of Recession

The September view from this year…

Sunflowers Going to Seed

…and last year.

September Sky

Bike at Rest Near Fence

Week of September 2, 2012:

Friday: Off

Saturday: Biking for errands/groceries

Minutes run this week: 83.

Week of September 9, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (45 minutes easy)

Well!  What a difference 10 or 20 degrees can make.  It’s been absolutely beautiful this weekend: cooler temperatures, a stiff breeze, and sunshine.  Being outside yesterday and today was infinitely more comfortable because the heat has receded a bit, and I am so, so grateful for it.

I’ve been multi-tasking with my fitness this weekend.  Yesterday, I tried to drop off a pair of shoes for repair, only to be told they can’t be repaired (so sad! I loved those sandals), and I did my grocery shopping, all via la bicicleta.  Today I took the bus to campus, dropped off my paper recycling, stopped by the lab to take care of fly stuff, and then did my long run from campus back to my home.  The campus-to-home route is just about perfect for runs in the 40-55 minute range, which is very convenient because I often have to stop by work briefly on the weekend.  Today’s run was 45 minutes, and it was a very nice, fairly typical long run.  A 45-minute run is still on the edge of my running endurance right now—I could go longer, but I think I’d be absolutely exhausted afterward.  I’m moderately tired now from my run, which is fine.  I’m puttering around the house today, trying to straighten things up.  I did laundry, made a soup for dinner, and I might do a bit of work this evening.  I have plans to go for a walk with a friend, which isn’t ideal on a long-run day, but oh well.  I can be a bit of a control freak, but I fear I will have no friends if I insist that everything be done in such a way that it’s ideal for me!

PS  Hey, it’s almost fall, and I hear pumpkin spice lattes are back on the menu!  I pledge to make good on my promise to Raquelita: this year, I am going to try as many pumpkin spice lattes around town as possible, and I will declare a winner.  Which coffeehouse makes your favorite version of this much-loved autumn treat?  Here in College Station, we’ve got a few chain coffeehouses/restaurants (Panera and Starbucks, for example), but we’ve also got a few indie shops, such as Muldoon’s and Sweet Eugene’s.  I hope to try them all, and I will take notes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I’m Going for It

Week of September 2, 2012:

Monday: Yoga (Gentle Hatha Yoga #…I forget!)

Tuesday: Treadmill running work-out (see below)

Wednesday: Morning run (20 minutes)

Thursday: Evening long-ish run (33 minutes)

I’m no exercise physiologist, but to my mind, there are three very good ways to become a faster runner, and they are:

1)  Practice running faster (duh).

2)  Get stronger by strength/resistance training.

3)  Cross-train.  (I have heard lots of stories about people who either added cross-training to their running or were forced to cross-train due to injury.  Many of them report that they are able to run much faster when they return to running.)

I think I’m doing a little bit from each category these days.  My main focus, running-wise, is just building the base, ever so slowly, with each mile run.  To be quite honest, I just want to be able to run outside easily, to feel like whenever I want, I can just slip on my sneakers and head out for a nice 3-4 mile jog around the neighborhood.  That’s all I really want.  I know I’m planning a half-marathon and a marathon for 2013, but right now, I just want to my running to be fun, an easy release.

That being said, I’m digging the chance to do speedwork on the treadmill, and I hope to make it a weekly event.  Being able to do a running work-out in the evening adds flexibility to my schedule, and I look forward to it. This week, I pushed myself a little harder with the following ladder:

5 min. @ 9:00/mile

5 min. @ 8:30/mile

5 min. @ 8:00/mile

5 min. @ 7:30/mile

5 min. @ 8:30/mile

5 min. @ 9:00/mile

Did you catch that?  I added a new step to my ladder, then jumped back down to complete the ladder at the easier paces of 8:30 and 9:00/mile.  This work-out was a good one.  I felt pretty strong through the middle of the 7:30/mile set, then I started to feel tired, and the remaining steps were far more challenging as a result.  But I think that’s a sign that this is a good ladder work-out for me right now—I wasn’t dying after the first or second set, but I certainly felt challenged by the hardest set.

This evening I surprised myself by heading out for a long-ish run in the hot evening, and it wasn’t bad!  I think this may be a sign that I have fully acclimated to the worst of the Texas heat.  Of course I’m still very, very excited by the prospect of cooler temps, but it was nice to have the choice between running outside and running on the treadmill.  I’m glad I’ve been getting up to run in the mornings, but it really does make my life easier to have the option to run in the evening.

Catch you later, gators!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Try Not to Cry

Try Not to Cry_cropped

I guess I won’t be wearing boots or cozy sweaters for a while after all.  Oh, September, you’re such a tease.

Hurry up, fall!

Sunday, with Heat and New Sundresses

Week of August 26, 2012:

Friday: Morning run (20 minutes)

Saturday: Errands by bike

Total minutes run this week: 110 {High five!}

Week of September 2, 2012:

Sunday: More errands by bike

I skipped my long run today because I wasn’t feeling well and I had a ton of errands to do this weekend.  I don’t like to complain too much on my blogs because blah—who wants to listen to complaints when they could be looking at pretty things or reading something nice?  So let’s just say that my hormones and the weather conspired against me today, and I felt that it was best to get stuff done and hope I can squeeze in some good running later this week when I’m feeling better.

On the plus side, last week was my highest mileage week in a long time!  I ran 110 minutes or an estimated 10-12 miles.  Woo-hoo!  Also on the plus side, I’ve had a nice afternoon puttering at home: I got some work done, talked to a dear old friend, roasted some frozen rhubarb to make this recipe, and I’m wearing a new sundress.  My niece is turning six this month, and I couldn’t resist buying this dress for her:

Lydia's Dress 

I immediately fell in love with the pretty stripes and ruffly collar.  Then I saw they had large sizes, and I thought about buying an auntie-sized version for myself…so I did.

New Dress Sunday Hair

I went with the grey version because I like grey with stripes.  I also like that the color scheme here will work with many of my cardigans.  This dress isn’t warm enough to wear at work by itself, but certainly I can layer a sweater over it and add boots when the temps start to cool off.  (Hurry up, fall!)  But for today, it’s just a simple sundress and Sunday hair—air-dried and unstyled, other than a comb-through.

(You may be wondering how it is that I can shop for myself and my niece in the same department.  The answer is that I am apparently the same size as a very large child—my dress is an XL from the kids’ department.  It’s not a perfect fit for my curves—from the side, you can see my bra a little bit—but other than that, it fits me pretty well.  I suppose this means I haven’t grown much since I stopped buying most of my stuff in the kids’ department when I was a preteen.  Or rather, I’ve grown out, in my hips and chest, but not up.  I’m wider but not taller!  Hee hee!)

(PS  Thanks for tolerating this random fashion interlude.  What can I say?  I like looking at pretty dresses too.)