Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fueled by Pizza

Homemade Pizza

Saturday Night Dinner

More Dirty Dishes

Week of January 20, 2013:

Monday: Bike commute to work (Yes, I worked on MLK Day.  Didn’t you?)

Tuesday: Short evening run (22 minutes)

Wednesday: Bike commute to work

Thursday: Off (off eating Middle Eastern food and drinking wine!)

Friday: Off (off playing in the kitchen)

Saturday: Bike ride to Kohl’s and the hippie food store

Minutes run this week: 102.

Week of January 27, 2013:

Sunday: Long run! (90 minutes)

Here’s a crazy factoid about my training right now: today I ran almost as much as I ran all last week.  That’s what happens when I only get two runs into a week, and one of them is short.  I’m very busy at work right now, and by the time Friday rolled around, I just did not want to run.  And with my long run coming up on Sunday, I decided it’s better to have a high-quality long run than higher mileage.  Ideally, I’d run three days a week, but if I have to miss a run, I’d rather it be a short one than the all-important long run.

The good news is that I had a great long run today!  I dressed for the weather in a running skirt and t-shirt (yes, in January…oh, Texas), and I went out slowly enough that I felt pretty good for most of the run.  The last ten minutes (my new minutes) were tough as usual, but it was definitely do-able.  I’ve been a bit tired today since finishing my long run, but it’s been okay.  I spent the day taking care of some money stuff (it never ends!), cooking, cleaning, and watching True Blood.  I am also just bursting with recipes and post ideas for Life, Love, and Food, so I’ve been working on those as well.  I love blogging.

As you can see from the photos above, my run this weekend was fueled by pizza!  This one was a tasty one: homemade crust, spicy pepperjack cheese, lots of onions, and some sliced canned tomatoes.  The crust could have used a leeetle more salt (note to self: more salt next time!), but overall it was delightful.  I made it Saturday night and ate the leftovers on Sunday after my run and a quick shower.  It’s pretty common for me to eat pizza after a long run, which makes me wonder: do you have a go-to meal after your long runs?  I love pizza all the time, but I think its heartiness is especially welcome after you’ve run a lot of miles.  I also like smoothies as an immediate post-run drink to start refueling all those glycogen stores.

(Hmm, pizza and smoothies.  Cliché perhaps, but it works!)

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Change of Plans: Detroit!

Detroit Marathon 2013_Graffiti JPEG_cropped

Hey friends! Perhaps this post is anti-climactic after announcing my new year’s ambitions, but yesterday I sealed the deal: I am running the Detroit Marathon on October 20, 2013. I pulled out my credit card, answered many questions, and now 26.2 miles is my fate this fall.

If you recall, originally my plan was to run the Chicago Marathon with Chrissy, Raquelita, and possibly JD. We were all very excited—I just could not pass up the chance to meet two of my favorite blogging friends. But then plans fell through. Time and money concerns reared their annoying heads. Chrissy and Raquelita bowed out. And you know what? That is okay. (I just typed “that is oaky,” like I’m talking about Chardonnay. Which reminds me: wine will definitely be part of my marathon training plan. I think it’s important that we’re all on the same page here.) Anyway, really, it’s okay. I am not at all upset, but it did make me reconsider my own marathon plans. JD lives in the Detroit area, and it’s my hometown and where my entire immediate family lives. With just two of us to consider now, Chicago seemed less appealing. It was going to be an expensive weekend, between the hotel, food, and travel expenses. Even the race is quite pricy: $175 registration fee. Detroit, on the other hand, is much more budget-friendly. If I ran Detroit, I would stay with family, eat homecooked meals with them, and save a boatload of cash. The Detroit race is just $80, less than half of Chicago’s fee. Of course I’d still have to buy plane tickets, but I do that anyway to see my family a few times a year. Plus JD lives in the area, so if we ran Detroit, he wouldn’t have to worry about the costs of a destination race (though he totally sounded ready to run Chicago—maybe some day we will).

When I weighed all the logistics, it was very clear that the Detroit Marathon was the better choice for a race in the North. Plus, the Detroit race is just cool: you run over the Ambassador Bridge and through the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel into Canada, making it an international race. The course loops through lovely old neighborhoods and along the Riverwalk (which I’ve never even seen! Or maybe I have? I don’t know!) and through Belle Isle. In short, it sounds terrific. I am really excited about it, and fall in the Midwest is a spectacle that I dearly miss now that I live in Texas.

Running the Detroit Marathon pushes my marathon plans back by a few weeks, but that’s not a problem. I’ll still be training during a Texas summer, so I’ll be trying to beat the heat by starting in the early, early morning. (I totally plan to take Sunday afternoon naps during marathon training.) I expect that marathon training will have its ups and downs, and I will do my best to keep blogging through that adventure. I wish I had more time to spend on both my blogs, but alas, I need lots of sleep and some time away from the computer in order to keep up with all my commitments. I love blogging about long runs best, which is why I’ve settled into doing Sunday posts for Feels Like Flying. I can’t wait to share my first marathon experience with all of you! Thanks for reading, and I hope that some day we can toe the line of a race together.

{PS Chrissy and Raquelita, if you two are ever interested in organizing a blogger meet-up somewhere in the US, I would love to join you. Just because we aren’t running Chicago this year doesn’t mean I am any less excited about the chance to meet you! How about Denver? Or San Francisco?}

Sunday, January 20, 2013

“You’re building endurance, you’re building endurance!”

Sunlight on Berries

Bridge and Shadow

Star-shaped Withered Blossoms

Week of January 13, 2013:

Monday: ??? Either yoga or off—I don’t remember!

Tuesday: Evening run (27 minutes, including two 1-minute surges)

Wednesday: Bike ride commute to work and grocery-shopping

Thursday: Bike ride commute to work and Ben Knox wine night!

Friday: Evening run (24 minutes)

Saturday: Short bike ride for groceries + slow afternoon walk

Minutes run this week: 121

Week of January 20, 2013:

Sunday: Long run! (80 long, slow minutes)

Today’s run was hard.  The weather was quite nice, although I was overdressed for it.  I wore pants and a sweatshirt, but I should have worn a running skirt!  That’s not really what made things hard.  My legs felt tired from the start, and though I felt better after a warm-up mile or two, I never really felt great.

So it goes in the life of a runner.  I thought about cutting today’s long run short but decided against it because I had no other compelling reason.  My feeling is that mild fatigue is a pretty lame reason to ditch a long run; long runs are supposed to teach your body how to run through fatigue.  If I felt like I was overtraining or flirting with injury or just completely exhausted, I might cut a run short.  Today I had none of those things, so I persevered, and I told myself, “You’re building endurance, you’re building endurance!”  Truly, that is what we do when we continue to run on tired legs: you teach your body to go just a little bit further, to manage just a little more discomfort in your muscles.  You stretch your current fitness limits just a little more.

That being said, I was super happy to be finished and have since enjoyed a nice lunch, a hot shower, and right now I’ve got some homemade cookies and oranges with yogurt waiting for me.  On that note, I shall wish you a happy Sunday and a wonderful week.

PS  I don’t really live in wine country, but don’t those photos above seem like something out of California?  It has been such a beautiful weekend here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Quiet, Well-Fed Sunday

Afternoon Shadows

Kinda Cool Huh

Week of January 6, 2013:

Monday: DIY yoga

Tuesday: Evening run (20 minutes)

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Bike ride commute

Friday: Evening run (30 minutes)

Saturday: Very short bike ride for groceries

Total minutes run this week: 111 (happy trumpet!)

Week of January 13, 2013:

Sunday: Long run (70 minutes long slow distance)

Another wintry day, another great long run, deep in the heart of Texas!  I absolutely love winter running down here, and I’m so happy to be doing long runs right now.  I’m finding that once I pass the 50-minute mark, everything feels very zen: the rhythm of my feet on the pavement, my breath synchronized with my legs, and I feel like I could run forever.  Of course, about 10 minutes later, my legs start whining, “Are we done yet?  Cause we’re tired and want to stop.”  But for a few minutes, before the whining starts, it is absolute running bliss.

I’ve had a very quiet weekend in the wake of my big talk and all the preparation for it.  I didn’t even need to go into the lab because I had no fly stuff to take care of.  I tried to make the most of my weekend by doing a ton of cooking, perhaps even more than usual.  In the past two days, I have made a big batch of tomato soup, a black bean salad, brown rice, and some roasted Brussels sprouts and chickpeas.  I now have some leftovers of all of these things (leftovers = LUNCH!).  I’m also pretty well-stocked with ingredients, too, from a big shop last week and a small shop yesterday.  Being prepared makes me feel ready to tackle the new week.  (And whenever I don’t feel prepared for something, you can bet I’m a hot mess.  Control freak, you say?  Yeah, I’d say so.)

In other news, I received my new bike lights from Planet Bike!  I haven’t yet figured out how to mount them on my bike, so that’s on my agenda for this week.  Also on my agenda: a marathon update, some cauliflower “fried rice,” and more time with my new book (Quiet by Susan Cain—it’s fantastic).

Happy week, everyone!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Contingency Plan

Chicago Marathon 2013_Brick Wall with Yellow Paint

After six months to chew on it, I am feeling ready to commit to running a marathon this year.  I tend to be slow when making big decisions, and running a marathon is HUGE DECISION for me!  Marathon training won’t start officially until May, when I begin my five-month training plan.  Before May, I have a half-marathon in the beginning of March and some in-between time to get some solid, regular running done without the stress or intensity of long runs.  Between March and May, my training plan says I should be comfortable running 30 minutes four times a week.  I’m feeling a bit funny about the “four times a week” part because I tend to fall into a pattern of three runs per week with lots of cross-training in the form of biking.  So I don’t know: does it REALLY matter if I run three or four times a week if I’m doing some complementary cardio?  What do you think?

I am also a bit worried about getting into the Chicago Marathon.  Does it ever sell out?  I don’t know, and I’m feeling too lazy to Google it, so I’m just making a contingency plan.  In the event that I don’t get into Chicago when it opens on February 19, I am going to run the hometown marathon here in College Station on December 8.  I’m happy with either plan, though of course I really want to make it to Chicago to meet some of you for marathon weekend!  But Plan B has some benefits too: it’s local (and thus way less expensive) and the timing means that I would be doing my longest runs during slightly cooler weather.  So we’ll see what happens.  I will keep you posted!

Until then, it’s full speed ahead with half-marathon boot camp in which I attempt to go from 6-mile long runs to a strong half-marathon performance in two months.  Yeehaw!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Feeling Ready…and Happy

Week of December 30, 2012:

Saturday: Bike ride to drop off library books and pick up groceries

Minutes run this week: 20 (sad trombone!)

Week of January 6, 2013:

Sunday: Long run + walk afterward (61 minutes of running, 33 minutes of walking)

This morning was cool, damp, and utterly refreshing, and I got to enjoy a great first-long-run-of-the-new-year in Texas’s version of wonderful winter weather.  I ran to campus and back (had to take care of the flies!), which is probably about 7-8 miles round trip.  Not wanting to overdo it, considering my lack of running in the last three weeks, I held my run time to 61 minutes and walked the rest home, which gave me 99 minutes total on my feet (including my warm-up).  That’s a lot of walking for me after a long run, but I am thinking of it as practice for the marathon this year.  Bonus: maybe I’ll be a tiny bit more ready for 70 minutes of running next weekend.

Today has been a lovely, lovely day.  In addition to a great run, I have been diligently working on the powerpoint for my talk on Thursday.  I’ve also got a soup simmering on the stovetop now, some lettuce waiting to be turned into salad, and a calm feeling heading into the workweek.  Last week kinda sucked, between the travel on Monday and then trying to get my head back into the game at work.  I eased myself into it, sleeping later than usual all week and indulging in my new DVD season of Big Love (season 3—holy moly! I could barely breathe during the final two episodes!).  Today I finally feel ready for work: my kitchen is restocked, I am well-rested, all illnesses have finally dissipated, and I’m actually thinking about my science again.  It’s going to be a good week.

Happy new week to you, my dears!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Legality, Safety, and Kindness

Today I shall regale you with the much-anticipated story of my unpleasant encounter last night.  First, the story and then I’ll discuss the issues of legality, safety, and kindness that I think this story embodies.

Last night, I was riding my bike home from work in the dark.  (For brevity’s sake, I’m going to stick to the facts for the moment, and then I’ll touch on the issues.)  I was cruising along at a very leisurely pace (I was tired) when I saw a car approaching my path at a right angle.  The car was leaving a private subdivision at a pretty fast speed, considering that they were approaching a busy road.  I could tell that the driver was not anticipating any sidewalk traffic that they would be blocking if they pulled into the pedestrian’s path, so I slowed down.  I slowed down some more, and then I stopped.  The car stopped too, several feet away from me.  Clearly the driver had stopped because she noticed me, and I think she started making motions for me to pass, but I was blinded by her headlights, so I couldn’t tell at first.  Then I saw her make more exaggerated, annoyed-looking motions that I inferred were directed at me and telling me to go in front of the car.  So I did, and she peeled out and flew down the street, way faster than anyone normally does—a sure sign that she was pissed.  Then I had that moment of dread when I realized the car and I would be side by side as we waited for the light to change.  It was dread because I have seen what angry drivers do in that situation: they yell at me.  And that’s exactly what happened.  We both approached the intersection, and through her open window, this driver yelled, “You need some lights, sister!”  And then she yelled some more, but I couldn’t hear what she said as she was turning right and speeding onto University Drive.

Those, dear reader, are the facts.  A summary: 1) as she approached the road from her subdivision, the driver was not inclined to stop until she saw me on my bike, stopped.  2) I did not have lights on my bike.  3) No one was hurt in the slightest, except perhaps one or two egos.

First, let’s talk about the legal issues.  Here, I accept the accusation that I do not ride my bike legally in the dark.  I have no lights, just the reflectors that came with the bike when I bought it.  This driver, however, has a legal responsibility to yield to pedestrians when the roadway and a crosswalk intersect.  In addition, drivers are required to stop when “emerging from an alley, driveway, or building in a business or residence district.”  (See Sec. 545.256.)  Now, I’m not sure what to call the road which this driver was leaving.  It’s a road that leads in and out of a private, gated community, so is it a road?  A driveway?  In addition, bike riders are considered to be motor vehicle operators under Texas law, so I can’t count myself as a pedestrian in this story, even though I personally believe bike riders are more like pedestrians than car-drivers.  The question boils down to this: was this driver legally required to stop before pulling into the crosswalk area?  I would say yes, and I think commonsense would agree.  Perhaps you will agree when I say that both the driver and I did something wrong: I had no lights on my bike, and this driver had no plans to stop until I appeared in her field of vision.

Now, let’s talk about safety.  Here you and I may disagree, and that’s okay.  The law is already on your side if we do.  I think that practicing safe bike is a lot like safe sex: the details matter.  Safety is really a question of risk, and risk is not an all-or-nothing proposition.  Scientifically, we can determine the parameters that make a choice more or less risky, and relevant to my story here, I’d say that 1) riding your bike in the dark is risky and 2) having a light on your bike makes it less risky.  But I’d also say that the degree of risk involved in both of those points is also dependent on things like how well you know the streets and neighborhoods, how fast you ride, how well-lit the streets are, the physical condition of the streets, how busy the streets are with car traffic, etc.  I could go on and on.  My point is that whether or not my bike has a light on it is just one of many factors that make my nighttime rides more or less risky.  And here’s the thing: I like riding my bike at dark.  I just do.  It’s fun.  It feels peaceful, contemplative.  I like moving through the night air on two wheels.  So that’s a risk that I am willing to take because I enjoy it.  To be honest, I sometimes wonder if I lead too safe of a life, if I’m too chicken shit to take bigger risks.  So riding my bike in the dark is a way of pushing back against that feeling, and maybe it’s a stupid way to do it, but it’s my choice to take that risk.  That, my friends, is the essence of freedom: you get to decide what kind of risk you are willing to take.

To get back to the story at hand, I believe that I was in no danger.  I was alert to my surroundings, paying attention to the sight and sound of cars.  I had stopped well in advance of this car’s approach into my crosswalk space.  Everything was fine.  But the driver was angered by my presence.  I think it’s because by being there, I demonstrated to her that she was not driving safely.  In this story, I’m not sure that it matters that I was on a bike with no lights.  I could have been a pedestrian out for a nighttime walk, and the same thing would have happened.  The driver was not going to stop, but she was angry that my presence forced her to stop and thus made her look bad.

And here’s where the driver chose to be mean-spirited: by lashing out at me about “safety,” she tried to pin all the responsibility on me.  Yes, legally, I was in the wrong.  But so was she.  I was not going to engage with her in a ten-second yelling match, even though that’s what she initiated.  It was unkind of her and, I would argue, mean.  Adults take responsibility for their actions; mature people don’t foist their mistakes on others in order to make themselves feel better.

My encounters with Texans on the roads are some of my least pleasant experiences of living here.  Texans are reckless when they get behind the wheel, and that scares me. Not enough to scare me off the roads, but enough that I expect them to do stupid stuff.  I have come to expect drivers to blame me when they do something wrong.  I wish these drivers would take a moment and consider things from the perspective of the other person, the one on two legs or two wheels.  But I don’t think they do—they’re too selfish or full of anger or self-righteousness to be empathetic.

This story has a happy ending.  Tired of being shamed for my nighttime riding habits, I bought two bike lights last night from Planet Bike, upon S.’s recommendation.  (Thanks, S.!)  I purchased the Beamer 3 headlight and the Blinky 7 tail light.  I’ll let you know what I think about the new lights after I have a chance to hit the roads with them on my bike.

Ride on, friends. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

The First Run of the New Year

Footsteps in Snow

{Snow in Michigan}

December 17-December 29, 2012: A HOLIDAY BLUR!

Week of December 30, 2012:

Sunday: Walk around my sister’s neighborhood (two loops in the cold!)

Monday: Travel (lots of walking, lugging, huffing, and puffing)

Tuesday: Bike commute to work

Wednesday: Bike commute to work and HEB

Thursday: Short run! (20:13, y’all)

Friday: Bike ride commute + unpleasant encounter with negligent driver

Woo-hoo, I’m back in Texas!  It’s been a hard week, trying to adjust to being back at work and back in my regularly scheduled life.  I feel like today I might be hitting my stride again, though, which is good because I am (EEK!) giving a talk to the entire department next week.  So, um, hi, welcome back, time to be brilliant, okay, darling?

I didn’t run much during my vacation, which is unfortunate.  I was struck down twice by illness: once by a cold before I left Texas and then again by a stomach bug that made its way through my family and me.  I did squeeze in one run on Christmas Eve Day, a 30-minute jobber around my brother’s neighborhood.  It was nice to get out of the house by myself—I can get start to feel a bit squeezed by all the family time, and it’s important for me to reclaim my independence with a good run.

Last night I went out on my first run of the new year, and it was really nice.  I hadn’t run here in Texas in almost three weeks, which sounds crazy!  It felt wonderful to be back on my old, well-worn running route, the short one I usually choose for runs in the 20-25 minute range.  Tonight, however, while biking home through the same neighborhood, I had an unfortunate encounter with a driver who used safety as an excuse to be rude because she wasn’t paying any attention to the sidewalk traffic.  I will tell you more about this tomorrow, and you can decide if you think I am in the wrong to feel angry at drivers who yell at me out their window as they speed off onto University Drive.  Safety in Texas is a funny thing, as there are so many drivers who do illegal, unsafe, or unfair things: speed through yellow lights (and by “speed,” I mean slam on the gas to fly through a yellow or red light), take a left turn (straight into pedestrian traffic) when it is clearly the pedestrian’s turn to cross the street, or take a right turn when I’ve been waiting for my turn to cross the road.  I actually expect Texas drivers to do the wrong thing, thus putting me in danger.  So it’s kind of hard for me to take them seriously when they are yelling at me about safety and I was clearly in no danger because I expect them to do stupid shit.

Oof.  I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Tomorrow: full story, I promise.

Happy weekend, everyone.  It’s so nice to be back!

PS  Did you see S.’s interview on why she runs?  More inspiration to lace up those sneakers this winter :-)