Monday, March 25, 2013

Because You Asked!

Oh, you guys.  Thank you so much for your comments on my last post and for your enthusiasm.  I always feel a bit vain posting anything related to appearance, which is kind of silly because I’ve become a big fan of style blogs and I don’t assume that the women who write those blogs are any vainer than your average lady on the street.  But I always get a funny feeling when talking about myself as something other than a brain on legs.  (The legs are important—science is physically demanding work when you’re the hands behind the experiment.)  It’s not that I feel disembodied from my own body but rather that I wish I could feel completely comfortable in these girly moments.

I spend plenty of time thinking about nerdy academic things or social justice issues.  So it’s not like being girly or caring about my appearance takes away from my more serious pursuits.  I wasn’t raised to believe that I couldn’t be pretty and smart, so from where does this discomfort arise?  Is it the acknowledgment that I’m not just a brain on legs?  Or a deeper fear that someone may find my appearance lacking?  The latter is interesting because the men who date me are self-selecting.  For example, they like that I don’t usually wear makeup.  I don’t not wear makeup to attract a particular man, but it’s true that even on days when I think I might wear makeup, I look at myself in the mirror and think, nah, you look fine without it.

Anyway, that was a very long-winded way of saying thank you and please excuse my awkwardness.  With regard to wedding-appropriate outfits, Raquelita hit the nail on the head.  I struggle because I am not drawn to fancier dresses and fabrics.  I have a lot of dressy-casual clothes because that’s my everyday aesthetic, but fancier duds?  Ummmm…help!

Happily, your comments about the wrap dress make me feel better!  Maybe there’s hope for me and weddings yet.  All of you voted for the wrap dress—hurray!  I like that one too.  And since you asked, I’m now sharing photos of the wrap dress with all three shoe options.  Here we go: 

Wrap Dress with Black Wedges

Wrap Dress Black and Tan Sandals

Wrap Dress Silver Sandals

(Please excuse the different lighting in the top photo; I took it this evening.  The other photos were taken in late-morning light.)

So there you go!  One dress, three pairs of shoes, one wedding to attend this weekend.  Which shoes do you like best?  On a different note, I am sadly dateless for the wedding.  I felt weird asking someone whom I’ve been dating for just a handful of weeks to go to a wedding with me, plus we’re staying overnight in Port Aransas, Texas so that we can properly celebrate after the vows are made.  In a weird, roundabout way, I wonder if he’s wondering why I didn’t ask him.  Is there some rule I don’t know about that explains how “established” a relationship ought to be before you trot it out at a wedding?

Finally, something fun: my friend Sam mentioned that she wants to play this song at her wedding.  She told us not to steal it, but darn it, that would be a fun song for a happy reception dance.  Maybe she won’t mind if I borrow it… 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Even Though You Didn’t Ask

I think that I’m procrasti-blogging right now: I have a long run to do this morning (along with my seemingly required stop by the lab to take care of business).  More important than that, though, is the decision about WHAT TO WEAR to next weekend’s wedding.  To help me in my decision-making process, I took some photos of the options.  Dear readers, you are invited to weigh in on the decision.  I like style advice.  And I like you!

The choices fall into a two-by-three rubric: I have two dresses I’m considering and three pairs of shoes.  Most of the rubricked options could work, though I don’t think I’d consider pairing the navy wrap dress with my black platform sandals.  First up, have a look at the shoes.

Three Shoe Choices

Of these three options, the black-and-tan ones on the right are the most comfortable and casual.  The silver heels are the most dressy and least comfortable.  If I wore the silver heels, I think I would bring a back-up pair of something more comfortable, just in case.  (I know lots of women end up barefoot at weddings, but I don’t really like being barefoot outside my home unless I’m at a beach.  I’m totally skeeved out by the idea of walking around barefoot in most places.)

I will now show you several of the dress+shoe combos.  Option #1: wrap dress + silver heels.

Wrap Dress Silver Sandals

This dress is a new one from (where else?) Target.  I believe it’s kneelength or thereabouts on me.  I love the colors and floral pattern, and I’m looking forward to wearing it this spring.  Here in Texas we’ve had a pretty cool March; for the most part, I’ve been wearing heavier clothing because it just doesn’t feel like “spring dress” weather to me.  Plus I know that in August, I will be longing to wear my cold-weather clothing, so I figure I might as well enjoy the lack of heat while I can!

Next up is the second dress with two of the shoe options.  I found this dress for six bucks at Plato’s Closet!  I could not believe my luck—it still had the Old Navy tags on it, and it fits well.  It’s a teensy bit longer than kneelength on me.  Like the wrap dress above, I love the bright colors here. 

Grey Dress Silver Shoes

Grey Dress Black Shoes

Now you have an idea of what I’m considering.  After looking at the photos, I’m less inclined to run out and buy new shoes this week, though I would like to buy some eventually to go with the wrap dress.  Which outfit do you like best?  FYI: I have plenty of options for covering my arms if it gets chilly during the festivities, like my big silver scarf, a few sweaters, and my fun pink blazer.

I thank you in advance for indulging my narcissism!  And with that, I’m off to get ready for my long run in (can you believe it?) 47-degree weather.  Texas, what is going on with you?!?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Less Running, More Wedding

Sundress Sunday

Darwin and Curie I Think

and they lived

Week of March 17, 2013:

Sunday: Bike ride commute to campus, bike ride to Erin and Cy’s wedding shower

Monday: Evening run (27:45.  Why not 28 minutes?  I don’t know—laziness, I suppose.)

Tuesday: Off

Wednesday: Evening run (29 minutes)

Thursday: Bike ride commute to campus and wine night

Friday: Off

Saturday: Morning walk for haircut + ATM, afternoon bike ride to campus and over to Target + HEB

Minutes run this week: 56:45.

As you can see from my low running minutes for this week, I’m not quite back into my sneaker groove, but I think it’s okay.  Mentally, I had (sorta kinda) planned to take it easy, running-wise, in March after the half-marathon, and in April, I’d start getting serious about having a nice strong base for marathon training.  But!  Please note the continued strong effort in the biking department, as I bike here, there, and everywhere.  Last Sunday, “everywhere” included a wedding shower for my friend Erin and her fiancĂ©, Cy; all the photos above are from the shower.  Also in attendance were a gaggle of adorable little girls (all of whom were Erin’s future nieces, I believe), so the event had a wonderful family-fun vibe to it.  Also awesome was Erin’s reaction to her new KitchenAid mixer—I feel all warm and fuzzy just thinking about all the delicious things that will be made with the new mixer.  If Erin is even half as excited about being a wife as she is about owning a KitchenAid, I think it will be a very long and happy marriage indeed.  (For the record, I think she’s pretty damn excited.  I’m excited about the big party following the wedding, where the food and drink are sure to be delicious and the company excellent.  We’ve got two friends coming in from out of town for the wedding next week, and I can’t wait to see them again.)

And now, since apparently all I want to talk about is wedding-related stuff, here is my question for you, dear readers.  For my wedding outfit, should I buy a new pair of shoes to go with a new dress?  Or should I be fiscally responsible and wear a wedding-appropriate ensemble that I already own?  If you request it, I will post photos of the two options tomorrow.  Today at Target, I took a gander at the shoe section and was underwhelmed by the options.  But I always get lucky, shoe-wise, at Shoe Carnival, so I am thinking about checking them out for some cute wedding/springtime shoes.  Gah, so many decisions to make!

One last thing: lest you think I’ve given up on running, tomorrow I resume my tradition of Sunday long runs.  Yee-haw!  Of course, that run will happen after I go to campus to take care of my flies…a postdoc’s work is never, ever done.  Sigh.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Words to Run By

In between squinting at my data and trying to salvage some hope for a publication, I found these words from our beloved Smitten Kitchen blogger, Deb, about running.

Question: What are you obsessed with now?

Answer from Deb:  I've been on a running kick, although I'm really bad at it. No really: terrible. But strangely, that's my favorite part. Starting my day completely humbled by my inability to run half as long or fast as these people on the other treadmills (who can probably dance, too), well, the day only gets better from there. I'm hooked.

(Bold added by me, as usual.)

What I love about her words is the sense that starting your day on a humble note is the way up.  Maybe it’s a sign that there’s hope for me and my data too!

Keep on keepin’ on, friends.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


…to last week’s exercise endeavors!  Let’s do this, shall we?

Week of March 10, 2013:

Sunday: Bike ride to work + walk in the park

Monday: Off, I think

Tuesday: Bike commute to work + groceries, I think

Wednesday: Hmm, I have no idea!

Thursday: Bike commute to work + wine night

Friday: (Forced) bike commute to work + short evening run (12 minutes: 11 minutes easy, 1 minute fast just for fun)

Saturday: Short bike ride for groceries + long hike in the woods

Total minutes run this week: 12.

It was not my intention per se, but last week became a recovery week from the half-marathon.  Or perhaps more accurately, I should say it was a running recovery week, but the cross-training was intense.  As you can see above, I biked to campus four times in a week.  Friday’s ride was forced because the university was closed for spring break, so no bus service.  All that biking effort was exacerbated by the winds, which were something fierce—it was exhausting!  This week I’m planning to take things a little easier on the bike because I’m feeling like it was just too much.  My legs have been hurting.

Just for fun, here are a few things I’m looking forward to this week: getting my fur trimmed, possibly buying some shoes to wear to a wedding at the end of the month, Thai food plus a movie tomorrow night, and maybe, just maybe, writing another one of the many blog posts that are swimming in my mind.  So much to say, so little time…

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Postcard

Three Adorable Dogs

I’m a day late, but fear not, dear readers: all is fine here at Feels Like Flying headquarters.  My weekend was absolutely wonderful and packed with good weekend things: a long walk in the woods, a homemade picnic, fruity rum cocktails, a wedding shower for a dear friend, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (with some last-minute improvisation by me!), and as you can see above, a pack of adorable dogs.  They were guests at the wedding shower, of course, and did an awfully good job cleaning up any bites of food that slipped from our plates to the ground.  So reliable they are!

Life is so, so busy these days, but it’s so good too.  Things continue to plod along in the lab—I really should be writing up my paper, but I don’t feel quite ready, data-wise, to start that process.  I am making minimal progress toward planning my future beyond this postdoc appointment—I really should be applying for jobs and whatnot, but it’s hard when I’m juggling so many things, including my current job and its demands.  Whether it’s rational or not, I have faith that things will work out.  When one door closes, someone breaks a window, right?

Happy Monday.  I’ll be back soon with a fitness update in which you’ll be able to see just how little I ran last week.  Whoops!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

“Run, Random Stranger, Run!”: The 2013 Armadillo Dash

2013 Armadillo Dash Medal

The big race day has come and gone, and man, what a good one this year!  What an unexpectedly wonderful day.  I do wonder, at least a little bit, if in the wake of 2012, my expectations have slid toward not-so-good news.  Maybe I need a recalibration of my soul.  Do they offer those at Target?

I’ll put it on my list.  Said Target list will now read pink strawberry candles, Brita bottle + filter, pens, push pins, and soul adjustment.

But back to the topic at hand: the 2013 Armadillo Dash Half-Marathon!  It was a chilly morning for a race, but I have a bad habit of overdressing for my long runs.  The night before the race, as I was gathering all my gear for the early-morning start, I decided on a running skirt, performance t-shirt, and long-sleeve tee.  I figured that my legs would warm up fast, but my upper body was likely to feel the chill for a longer period of time.  To get to the start line, I decided to do something new this year: I rode my bike to Veterans Park rather than take a cab.  Last year’s cab ride was not pleasant, and Veterans Park is pretty close to my apartment.  I packed a bag with my gear, crossed my fingers that nobody would steal my stuff, tucked my valuables (phone, keys, twenty-dollar bill) into my new SPI belt, and off I went.

I left a smidge later than I should have and felt harried right before the race.  I was still walking over to the starting area when a powerful male voice started singing the national anthem.  Slipping into the masses of half-marathoners, I made it with a few minutes to spare.

At well-attended racing events, it’s always really crowded at the start.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to expend a lot of energy throwing elbows and trying to nudge people out of the way.  With five half-marathons now under my belt, I have a bit of a racing strategy, and it looks like this:

Miles 0-4: Take it easy, settle into position.  Pass people as needed in order to feel comfortable.

Miles 4-9: Cruise control.

Miles 9-13.1: The faster you run, the faster you’re done!  Also, pick ‘em off, one by one.

And that’s exactly how this year’s Dash went.  The first few miles were a slow warm-up, only passing people if it was effortless and made it easier for me to settle into a good race pace.  By the time I was into mile 4, I felt good, and my pace was just a tad slower than 9-minute miles.  At the halfway point, I saw a man wearing camouflage running tights which looked an awful lot like the printed skinny jeans that are in style right now.  He had been waiting at a port-o-potty, but as I was running toward him, he turned and booked it, almost sprinting, which seemed like a dangerous move to me, considering that we were only at mile 6.something.  But there he went, in his camouflage skinny jeans running tights, and I thought to myself, I will catch you, Mr. Camouflage Tights.

But not at that moment.  At the halfway point of 13.1 miles, it was far too early for me to be running hard.  I kept moving forward with my steady pace.  6 miles turned into 7, 7 miles turned into 8, 8 miles turned into 9…and then it was time to step on the gas, little by little.

I love the last few miles of a half-marathon because that’s when I feel like I can really race.  I can give those last few miles everything I have left, and at the end there will be water and bananas and bagels and that glorious feeling of leaving it all on the course.  I love that feeling, and that’s why the half-marathon is my favorite race distance.  In the last few miles of this race, I gradually passed lots of people with my steady pace.  Mr. Camouflage Tights himself was one of the last people I was able to catch and pass—seeing him again was fun.  The last mile or so of the race was a blur as I booked it in an attempt to set a new PR.  I really didn’t think this year’s race would be a PR performance for me, but the clock thought otherwise.

What the Watch Says

Me Happy After the Race

It was a great, great feeling to see those numbers on the clock.  I maintain that I run for fun, for my sanity, for that healthy feeling it infuses into my life, but sometimes?  I run just to see how low that number can go.

From here, my training will shift toward a distance that I didn’t think I’d ever try: 26.2.  After the race (and a shower and an early lunch!), I pulled my big calendar off the wall and started writing down the weeks of marathon training that await me this year.  I “officially” begin training for the full on June 10, 2013.  Before that, I’ll be laying down a base of 3-4 sessions of 30-minute runs.  I anticipate that I’ll be biking around town as usual, so I’m okay with 3 runs and a few bike sessions as my marathon base.  (My running book says I should have a solid base of 4 30-minute runs per week.)  I am excited and nervous to train for such a big race: the marathon feels daunting to me, especially coupled with the heat of a Texas summer.  But this summer promises to be a summer of change in more than one way, and the marathon will be part of that new set of experiences.  Bring it on, I say!  

PS  The title for today’s post comes from one of my favorites signs at the race.  Along mile 1, two women were holding a sign that said, “Run, random stranger, run!”  It made me laugh.  I love our race spectators and volunteers!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Rested, Recovered, and Ready for What’s Next!

New Blossoms

Another Feathered Friend

Another Turtle-Spotting

Week of March 3, 2013:

Monday: Full rest (post-race recovery)

Tuesday: Bike commute to work and HEB for dinner fixins

Wednesday: Off (off making calzones for dinner!)

Thursday: Bike commute to work

Friday: Evening run (30 minutes)

Saturday: Bike ride for errands (more groceries—you know how it goes around here)

Total minutes run this week: ~143.  (Sunday’s half-marathon plus Friday’s run)

Well, well, well!  Look who’s back in full-blogging action!

(Hi!  That would be me.)

My beloved Dell laptop returned home today.  Its arrival was earlier than expected—the powers that be were estimating Monday as the return date, but on a whim this afternoon, I stopped by the leasing office to inquire about my package, and lo!  They had it!  I was delighted.  We are so happy together.

In other happy news, it’s been a good post-race week in the fitness realm.  I gingerly got on the bike for a Tuesday commute, and you know what?  It was fine.  I felt fine.  I pedaled my way to work and felt very little in the way of lingering soreness or fatigue from Sunday’s race.  This week has been my best post-half-marathon recovery week ever: the only time I was really bothered by any post-race issues was when I tried to walk down stairs, which are always, always the worst kind of movement after a race.  That, and trying to sit down on a toilet.  (TMI?)

Since then, I’ve done another two bike rides and a short run, and everything feels good.  I daresay that I’m ready to return to business as usual in the running domain!  Other good things this week: awesome homemade calzones, a lovely evening out with friends at the wine depot, a small research-related epiphany, a good canned tomato sale at HEB today (it’s the little things, people), and the feeling that you know what?  Things are going to be okay.

I can just feel it.

Happy weekend to you!  Race report from Sunday’s half-marathon coming soon.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

13.1 and Done!

Hola, mi amigas!  With the kindness of a new friend and his extra iPad, here I am again at Feels Like Flying headquarters.  This morning I ran my fifth half-marathon, the 2013 Armadillo Dash, and lo, it was good.  The race started out cold, slow, and crowded, but as with most runs, once I started moving, the cold became a blessing and the race started to feel like a good race should.

Because of my limited computer abilities this week, I'm going to save the full race report for later, when I have my Dell back home safely.  For now, because I know you are all dying to know the answer to the only thing that really matters on race day, I give you:

Unofficial finishing time (watch time): 1:53:37.
Official finishing time (chip time): 1:53:35.

That's an unexpected new PR for me, improving on my Dash time from two years ago by more than two minutes.  Booyah!  

Later, gators!