Sunday, November 25, 2012

One Week Later

November 25 Long Run

Running Feet

Week of November 18, 2012:

Monday: Yoga (Gentle Hatha #4)

Tuesday: Bike ride commute to work and grocery store

Wednesday: Off (friend in town for Thanksgiving!)

Thursday: Late-afternoon walk with friend

Friday: Another late-afternoon walk, this time alone

Saturday: Errands via bike

Minutes run this week: 40 (just one run)

Week of November 25, 2012:

Sunday: Long run! (70 minutes)

Tonight I shall give you a short list of what I did last week: eat, drink, and be merry.  I didn’t do much running, just one long run on Sunday, which was only 40 minutes because it was a step-back week for me.  I meant to fit a run into Friday, but my friend Courtney ended up staying at my place until late afternoon, and after she left, I was more in the mood for a slow walk than a run.  So a slow walk it was, underneath an overcast sky with chilly temperatures.  (Chilly for Texas, that is.  Everything is relative around here.)

But it’s all good and back to business this week.  Today I set off for a 70-minute run, and it split itself into two parts: the first 45 minutes were easy, strong, solid running.  The last 25 felt like I’d hit the long run wall and slogged through them.  I feel like some of that slogging is probably the result of taking a week off of running, and if that’s the price I have to pay for prioritizing friends and food over running, so be it.  It was a pretty good run overall—I was certainly happy to be back on the roads.

It would have been nice to have a Thanksgiving Day run, or a birthday run, and I do feel a twinge of regret that those runs didn’t happen.  But my Thanksgiving Day was packed with cooking and friends, and yesterday I got on the bike for some errands.  I’m often willing to have a “brick run” where I run after riding, but yesterday—eh.  I wasn’t feeling it, and I decided to just resume running today.  But this week, I’m looking forward to some good runs in addition to today’s challenging long run!

Happy running, friends!  And happy belated Thanksgiving—now’s the time to run off all that pie. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Catching Up, Coffee-date Style

Cloudy Bright Day

Bike on Panera Rack

Pumpkin Spice Latte

Week of November 11, 2012:

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

Tuesday: Bike commute

Wednesday: Errands by bike + 30-minute evening run

Thursday: Off (off drinking wine again!)

Friday: Bike commute to work

Saturday: Short bike ride for groceries + 20-minute afternoon run

Total minutes run this week: 110!  Woo-hoo!

Week of November 18, 2012:

Sunday: Long run (40 minutes)

Well!  What a week that was.  Last week I was somewhat frantically trying to rewrite and revise a grant that needs to be submitted by the end of this month.  By the time Friday rolled around, I was completely drained.  When I’m really tired mentally, I tend to become sad and broody, so I’ve been thinking too much about sad things lately.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing to spend some time brooding, which for me is a little like creative brainstorming about your problems.  I seem to have a recurring loop going in my head which sounds like this:


Well, maybe it’s not ALL his fault...


Are you sure?  Because I think you said you were okay with this, that, and the other thing.


I think you’re being cruel.


No, you really are being cruel.  What happened to kindness?


No, you don’t.  You’re just being broody.


He’s not perfect, and you’re not either.  No relationship has any lasting power if the people in it are expected to be perfect.  All you can do is be gentle with yourself.  Go take a bubble bath.


Okay, we’ll buy some the next time we’re at Target.


It’s pretty obvious what I’m brooding about, right?  I sort of laugh when people tell me how mature I seem when I talk about this year’s breakup because most of the time, I do not feel mature at all.  I feel anything but mature.  I try, however, to trust the process, and myself, and even Matt to carry me through to a happier time.  I have not arrived at that happier time, not yet.  It’s been a terrible year, in all kinds of ways, and the upcoming holidays and my birthday seem like poignant reminders of all that I have lost.  Mostly I can’t wait until this goddamn year is OVER.  Even though I know the calendar won’t magically make everything better on January 1st, I am ready for a metaphorical fresh start after a year of heartbreak.

Anyway, I finished a decent working draft for the grant, and I’ve been trying to recover this weekend.  I made a lentil-and-pasta stew (which I’d make again, but I’d double all the vegetables next time), dates soaked in a coffee/cinnamon/cardamom syrup (which sounded like a good idea, but I think the cardamom was too much), and a batch of my favorite cookies.  I went for a walk, two runs, and a bike ride.  I chatted with my brother on Facebook and my dear friend Nicole on the phone.  I bought a birthday present and updated my wish list.  I slept a lot.  I’ve been sleeping a lot lately, which I think indicates how mentally drained I’ve been by the grant.  I received some beautiful sweet potatoes from my colleague Christopher, which I’m going to turn into dinner tonight.  And so far, I have done no science work at all, which means that maybe I’ll feel ready to dive back into everything tomorrow.

Oh, and about those photos!  They are from two weeks ago, when I took a morning trip to Panera for a Pumpkin Spice Latte and some grant-writing.  I am so, so happy to see that they have awesome bike racks at Panera.  Bike racks make me happy and much more likely to return on two wheels.  (It’s much better to travel by two wheels than by four, right?  Right.)  And the PSL was delicious and beautiful, but I think for me, the sweet coffee drinks work better as a dessert after lunch rather than my morning coffee.  I like my morning coffee to be more about the coffee and less about the frills.

Have a good week, my dears!  I hope you have much for which to be thankful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Theresa’s Race Report: The 5K Wicked Halloween Run, Plymouth, MI

I have a treat for you today.  A few weeks ago, my sister Theresa ran her first 5K race, and she graciously agreed to write a race report for Feels Like Flying.  I’m honored and delighted to share her story of race day with you, and I’m oh so proud of her for becoming a self-made athlete.  So without further ado, here is Theresa’s story, in her own words.

* * *

It had been on the calendar for almost three months and it would finally be here the next morning.  It was my first organized race—the 5K Wicked Halloween Run in Plymouth, Michigan!  In the weeks leading up to my race, I had been trying to catch up on sleep.  To do that, I had been making my way to bed at 9 PM every night.  Was I laying down at 9?  No, but I was folding that last load of laundry or sending that last email or Facebook message and then the bedtime routine.  Usually, I was in bed by 10 PM.  The night before my race was no different.  I’m pretty proud of myself for that, but I did notice that I wasn’t sleepy tired.  I was really excited about my race the next morning.

The morning of the race was very cold.  I woke up before 6 AM on my own but turned on the TV and snuggled in my bed for a while longer.  While listening to the news, I heard that it was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit outside.  That sounded cold and then I heard there was a wind-chill making it about 30 degrees.  Brrr!  Thankfully, I had impulse-bought a wool blend base layer bottom (I think of them like tights) the day before and had washed them with my new race shirt so they were dry and ready to be worn.  I bundled up and made my way downstairs to start a good breakfast.

Normally, I have a cup of yogurt and head out the door for my run around the neighborhood.  With my wave of the race starting at 9:05, I figured I would need to eat something more substantial if my boyfriend Scott* and I were leaving the house at about 8 AM.  Scott has been very supportive of all of my running efforts, and this morning was no different.  He came to my condo with enough time to drag me out of bed, if necessary.  I knew I was excited because I was awake, dressed, and making scrambled eggs before he arrived.   Scrambled eggs with cottage cheese and a side of strawberries was the perfect race morning breakfast.

After breakfast, we left for the race in Plymouth.  I live just north of Plymouth, but we thought parking might be a challenge so more time would be better than less time and certainly less stressful.  I could tell in the car that I was getting nervous but I was not completely sure why.  In hindsight, I think it was due to the extreme swing in temperatures over the past week combined with my anxiety of not knowing exactly what to expect during the race.  Scott and I had walked the path the week before, which was extremely helpful.  I want to make that one of my habits for racing going forward.  Anyway, after lots of driving around, and seeing the 10K runners in action through the streets, we finally found a parking spot and were ready to check out the scene.

I already had my bib number and cool shirt because Scott and I picked it up on Saturday during our errands.  As part of the race swag, I also got a Kona running hat and a bumper sticker.  I recommend doing the pre-race day pickup of goodies as it was pretty chaotic in the park where the start and finish lines were on race day.  It was nice to see so many people at the event, but it was stressful and the announcements were not always loud enough to hear or clear enough to understand.  I tried my best to understand and paid attention to the time so that I would be ready to run when my wave of the race was being queued up.

Theresa with Scarecrow Oct 2012

{It was cold, but not too cold for pictures with girly scarecrows.}

I had signed up for the second wave of the 5K run.  The first wave was meant for those runners who ran 10-minute miles or faster.  I had been running between 11- and 12-minute miles (which I’m super proud of) so I signed up for the wave that fit my current times best.  The race time was approaching so I went to the starting line.  It was very crowded and hard to have any personal space.  I wondered how this was going to work for everyone to get a running start, but it turned out okay.  I tried to look out for other runners and hopefully they were looking out for me.

The run was cool at first but as I started to warm up, I felt really good.  I have only ever run with another person once before (my sister** just a few weeks ago) so it was a very different experience running with so many others.  I also felt like I was going really fast when I passed the runners and the walkers.  Apparently, I was running really fast! This was my fastest 5K in the history of my running so far—coming in at 34:08 and 11:01 per mile average.  I felt ecstatic!! My goals were always to finish the race and finish the race running.  When I knew that was going to happen, I hoped that my current pace would bring me across the finish line at less than 35 minutes.  MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!

Theresa's Finish Oct 2012

{A photo finish!}

With the conclusion of this race, I’m more excited than ever to keep running.  I bought more cold weather running gear right after the race and am already looking forward to my next run.  Also on the horizon is WHICH race should be my next one?  Should it be another 5K or a 10K?  So many choices!

Theresa and Scott Oct 2012{Can you find Waldo in this photo of Theresa and Scott?}

* Scott’s other alias is Muffin Man, which he comes by honestly with his primo muffin-baking skills.

** That would be me, Rosiecat.

Care to share your thoughts on Theresa’s next race?  When you first started running, did you run a lot of short races first, or did you quickly set your sights on something longer, like a ten-miler or a half-marathon?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Mud Mistakes and Long Run Plans

Week of November 4, 2012:

Sunday: Long run!  (50 min.)

Monday: DIY yoga (~20 min.)

Tuesday: Morning run (25 min.) + Bike commute (to work and to vote!)

Wednesday: Off? (I think…)

Thursday: Bike commute (to work and to wine!)

Friday: Off (so…tired…)

Saturday: Errands by bike

Total minutes run this week: 75.

Week of November 11, 2012:

Sunday: Long run!  (60 min.)

Long Run Schedule End of 2012

Hey hey!  I meant to say hello last week, but the week just ran away with me.  Between the election, multiple work meetings for which I had to prepare data, and a looming grant deadline that I’m trying to beat, I kept missing my opportunities to update ye olde blog here.  But I’m here now, so let’s talk about running.

First up: my long run today.  It was hard.  I ran for 60 minutes on a windy, warm day.  I hate to keep complaining about the heat because it’s so not interesting, but we’re back into the 70s and 80s (Fahrenheit—I know, I’m so American), and I think we can all agree that the hotter and sweatier you feel during a run, the faster you start feeling tired.  Cold air is energizing; hot air is stifling.  The wind was pretty challenging too.  At one point, it was blowing at just the right angle to keep my ponytail FWAP-FWAP-FWAPPING on the back of my head, which was so annoying that I actually grabbed my hair for a few strides, just to stop the FWAPPING.

Perhaps someone in a colder climate would like to trade weather with me for a few days?  Raquelita, how about a swap?  I would not mind running amidst the mountains and snowflakes right now.

During my run, whenever possible, I went off the harder concrete and asphalt paths to run on dirt, grass, gravel, etc.  I went off-path while running along the perimeter of the A & M golf course when all of a sudden I hit a mud slick and found myself slipping and sliding.  I’d been running at a pretty good clip, so the sudden change in velocity put me in a good position to sprain my ankle or hurt my knee.  Luckily, I regained my balance, hopped back on the path, and hoped that I had not injured myself.  My shoes were very, very muddy—in fact, I think they’re still sitting outside—but my legs felt okay.  We’ll see how everything feels tomorrow.

Hey, check out my groovy long run schedule up there!  I made it myself.  (I love Powerpoint and Flickr.  And making tables.)  I’m trying something new this year, something I read about on Ashley’s blog.  In the past, I’ve built up my long runs by repeating each long run twice, so in one month I’d run 30 min. for two long runs, then 40 min. for two long runs.  (Just to be clear, I always follow a schedule of one long run per week.)  I like that plan a lot—it builds endurance gradually, and I find that it’s less intimidating when you repeat each timed run once before moving onto the new longer time.

This year, I’m following a plan where you have step-back weeks, just to see what it feels like for me.  You can see the logic of the plan in my table, so I won’t belabor the point here.  I’m excited because I’ll be running longer times sooner than I would using my old plan.  I feel like I’ve been running long enough and trained for enough half-marathons that I can handle what might be a slightly more demanding long run schedule.  I won’t lie: I’m also looking forward to those step-back weeks.  Next weekend I’m scheduled to run just 40 minutes, which I’m sure will feel a lot easier compared to today’s sweaty, challenging 60-minute run.

Do you like to mix up your training plans?  Or are you loyal to one particular approach to distance running?

And happy wedding day (yesterday) to Chrissy!  Love and hugs to you, dear friend. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Obama/Biden and the Monarch Waystation

Obama_Early Voting

Week of October 28, 2012:

Monday: Short evening run (20 minutes)

Tuesday: Off (cooked a fantastic dinner!)

Wednesday: Bike ride for groceries

Thursday: Morning run (22 minutes)

Friday: Bike ride to Target and grocery store

Saturday: Bike ride for more errands + 20-minute run around the park

Total minutes run this week: 102(!)

I had the most charming encounter yesterday!  I was riding my bike around town to do errands when I rode past a house with a wild-looking front yard and several official-looking signs.  The signs declared this spot a “Monarch Waystation” and an “Official Wildlife Center” (or something similar); the latter sign described how the space had all the necessary features for wildlife to nest, eat, and raise young.  There were no fewer than five butterflies and one bumblebee fluttering among wildflowers and hearty plants.  Part of the yard was lightly wooded, too.  The whole thing looked busy yet serene: nature run wild in the space of someone’s front yard.

I was absolutely enchanted with it.  I’ve never been a big fan of lawns, and in my adult years, I have found myself drawn to domestic spaces that have been (more or less) handed back to nature for safekeeping.  As a biologist, the interconnectedness of everything within an ecosystem has always fascinated me; I believe the more we see ourselves as separate from nature, the more damage we do to our surroundings and ourselves.  That’s also why I’ve been drawn to so-called “paleo”-influenced movements, such as the paleo diet and books about human evolution such as Sex at Dawn.  It’s not that I think modern lifestyles are the worst thing ever, but rather that we are animals and part of the larger world.  It’s with humility and awe that I see an Official Wildlife Center in someone’s yard and think, Wow, that’s amazing.

Interestingly, I’ve seen at least two front yards which have this wild vibe to them, and both yards have Obama/Biden signs out front.  If that doesn’t seem noteworthy, remember that I live in Republicanland, where Romeny/Ryan signs are plentiful but Obama/Biden signs are few.  Republicans are too hostile toward conservation and sustainability issues for me to feel comfortable voting for a Republican presidential candidate.  On that note, American readers, make sure you make it to the polls before the end of Tuesday!  Or do like that famous man up top did and vote early, if you can.  I’ll be voting on Tuesday—I always vote on Election Day—and I think you can guess who I’d rather see in the White House in 2013.

Happy Election Week!  I can’t wait for Tuesday night.