A list inspired by the fact that yesterday, on Thanksgiving morning, I attended a two-hour spin class.
#1: Gone to a two-hour spin class.
This isn’t so bad, really. Spin is not a great exercise for me because the instructor will be like, TURN IT UP TO 10 AND DIE ON THIS HILL WITH ME and I’m like Yeah! …quietly turns resistance only up to 3. Meaning, it’s too easy for me to fly under the radar and not get maximum workout benefits because I’m too lazy if nobody is really pushing me. That said, I still like spin, mostly because it’s a great place for me to question my life choices (“Why am I riding for two hours in a dark room with other sweaty people with somebody screaming at me when it’s beautiful outside?”) and also to catch up on the music that the youth are listening to today. I like a good pop song as much as anybody but I have no idea what’s popular anymore. Some of it’s weird. Like, one of the song lyrics was all like “you can’t have this girl because she belongs to me” and I’m like EXCUSE ME IT’S 2015 THE PATRIARCHY HAS BEEN DISMANTLED DID YOU NOT HEAR.
#2: Gone to a yoga cult.
See this post.
#3. Gone to a solidcore class.
This was basically the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I can’t say they don’t warn you, though. If you go to the solidcore website, they have an introductory video where they explain how stuff works (basically they place on you on a device that looks like a medieval torture rack and you have to hold up your body only use your core muscles for like 37 hours and you cry and cry. Also the device is literally called a MEGAFORMER). The video is great because it’s like, “LOL don’t even try this class. I can see you through the screen and you’re a fat slob. Don’t come to the studio. Go be fat on your couch bye bye.” Seriously, the video basically tells you NOT TO COME WORK OUT AT A SOLIDCORE STUDIO. They’re all like, “I know you think you’re in shape, but you’re not, so don’t even try.” I can’t think of a more effective marketing technique.
I’ve only been to one solidcore class ever. My curiosity was piqued by said video of doom, so I headed over there one Saturday with my two girlfriends Emily and Arlene.
Shit got real real fast. I mean, just look at this. I’ve never felt my muscles reach total failure in such a short period of time. Honestly, I just started laughing, and laughing. I couldn’t do anything the instructor was asking of me. Everything hurt. I questioned why I was alive. In fact, did I deserve to live? I thought I was a fit person, but I wasn’t, so like, what’s the point of everything? Was my perception of reality accurate? Was this universe even a thing?
I kept wanting to cry, but it came out as laughing. I avoided making eye contact with Emily or Arlene, because every time I did, we dissolved into giggles, like, is this real life? Did we pay like $35 for this fucking torture? Why did we ever think we were actually in shape? Do you think if we called our moms they would come take us away from this horror show?
#4: Ran a marathon.
I’ve run three of these guys at this point, the most recent being October 2015. (You can read a post about my first marathon, in 2004, here.) This last one, I finished in 3:50 (30 seconds slower than my previous time, wah, but I’m still happy with it).
I trained pretty hard for this one – all the long runs (up to 22 miles), track workouts, speed workouts, tempo runs. I was lucky enough to find an awesome neighborhood running buddy who was a lot more dedicated than I was, so she came up with a great training plan and convinced me to wake up at 5am regularly to run 13 miles before work in the dark with headlamps.
But despite all the training, I didn’t go into the race feeling super confident. I was actually sort of dreading everything. I just remembered HOW HARD RUNNING A MARATHON IS. I also remembered that I don’t like to do anything unless I think I can do it better than the time I did before, so casually running a marathon at a slower pace is sort of out. I had to go all out.
This led inevitably to me running faster than I should have for the first 18 miles. Luckily, my friend Brian, who’s an incredibly fast and good runner, offered to meet me at mile 18 to get me through the last 8 miles. By that point, I was shuffle jogging and breathing hard and just like, just don’t let me die, Brian. Just tell my mom I tried. He gamely tried to have a conversation with me and I was like just shut up. Just shut up. Just run. Just tie a rope around me and drag me to the finish line. At around mile 23 or so, we passed folks handing out mini donut holes and he was like, do you want some and I yelled “DO I LOOK LIKE A PERSON WHO WANTS SOME FUCKING DONUT HOLES?” Basically, I was a gem and a princess.
But I made it. I shuffle jogged up that little hill at the end, a 12-year-old Marine put a medal around my neck and said, “You deserve this” and I started blubbering and thinking how much I love America and I think left there having signed up to join the Marines, maybe? Unclear.
I hope not to do another marathon ever again but knowing me and my masochistic bent I guess I can’t rule it out entirely.
#5: Continued to sign up for Ragnar Relays.
Running for 24 hours? In the dark? In tropical storms or blazing heat? On highways and through muddy, eerie woods? I keep doing it for some reason. Read this post and you’ll get a sense of what it’s like.
Next up on the list? Attending a SoulCycle class now that’s open on 14th street in DC. You can certainly expect a blog post out of that.
It's been both an agonizingly long and busy winter. I've been up to some things, which may account for my recent absence here. Let me tell you about them.
#1? I got a new job. I'm now Direct of Content at a company in DC called GovLoop. I've only been there a week and I'm already highly enjoying it. If you work in the federal government, I suggest you check us out.
#2: I'm spending a lot of time hyper-ventilating about the new Veronica Mars movie, WHICH COMES OUT THIS FRIDAY. I sort of have completely failed on my Veronica Mars rewatch blogging project, but you can still see a recent vlog here. Warning: it may be my most incoherent yet. I DID finish the full rewatch, which I'm glad I did, because I basically forgot the entire plot of season 3. At the time they came out I feel like we were all really critical of seasons 2 and 3, but they hold up!
#3: I ran a Ragnar Relay. This really deserves its own post. My team of 12 ran 200 miles from Miami to Key West in about 30 hours (I ran about 17 miles of that, in 3 separate legs). Florida was genuinely beautiful, and we were rewarded at our delirious end with a couple of days in Key West where we stumbled around exhausted, drunk off margaritas, and full of love for our shared bonding experience of pain and agony. If you'll remember, I ran another Ragnar last summer -- in the woods, in the dark, and in a tropical freaking storm -- and this one was still excruciating but so much more pleasant.
#4: Whenever I can see her, I'm spending time obsessing over my niece. She's about 4 months old and basically perfect. Look at these goddamn cheeks. I mostly like her because she seems extremely skeptical about everything. She's also huge and fat, just like any good Andrews should be.
#5: My body is old and crumbling and injured so I've been spending some time trying to heal it. I've had a back injury for the better part of the year and finally started seeing a phyiscal therapist for it. Luckily it seems to only be a tissue issue of sorts, and the PT recommended deep tissue massages, which have helped a lot. They also make me cry like a baby because the pain is extreme. This is a thought I seriously had during the first one: "Is this pain more or less than that of the disastrous root canal I had last summer?" And yet I keep coming back for more, because you sort of feel amazing afterwards, and empty of tears, though full of humiliation from screaming and crying in front of your masseuse.
#6: I've been reading a fair amount. I set a Goodreads goal of reading 52 books in 2014, and I'm on track to do that (10 thus far this year). You can see my profile and reviews here. Americanah, Let the Great World Spin, and The Orphan Master's Son have been some of my favorites. Just started Angelmaker and am liking that a lot, too.
So, that's what I've been up to. Some things I hope to add to that list that I'm not doing enough of:
#1: Cooking. I've always thought one of the most rewarding parts of my 30 while 30 project was the Catherine Learns to Cook project. I need to cook more. It makes me happy.
#2: Running. I'm going to try to fulfill a long-held dream of qualifying for the Boston Marathon when I turn 35 (and, conveniently, when the qualifying time goes from 3 hours 35 minutes to 3 hours 40 minutes, which seems, somehow, eminently more doable) and I need to start running more to get a base up before training.
#3: Real estate. I know it seems weird, because I've lived here almost my whole life, but until recently I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of buying a condo or something and thereby staking my existence firmly in DC. But 2014 is the year I realized that's what I want. So I need to get my finances a bit in order, and see if I can fulfill the American dream of blowing my life savings on a 600-foot square apartment.
What's going on with you?
I actually posted this first on Facebook, and am cross-posting here. If only Facebook would keep/return its notes import feature, this wouldn't be a problem. Stupid Facebook.
A brief report on the trail Ragnar Relay Series I just returned from in West Virginia...
So, there's no getting around it: a lot of it was a really, really tough experience - but due to circumstances out of the organizers' control. The weather was bonkers. We were at the tail receiving end of a tropical storm, and as a result, almost every trail was near washed out and we were running or hanging around in the driving rain. Running the trails in daylight was incredibly difficult and involved a lot of delicate walking and scrambling. Running the trails at nighttime, on your own, with only a headlamp to guide you amongst slick boulders, twisting tree roots, and barely-defined paths (sometimes covered in mud so bad and so deep that it literally sucked the shoe off of one of our teammates) was a nightmare. And it was cold. Oh so cold. We worried we would NEVER BE WARM AGAIN. It was pretty darn miserable at parts.
The other difficult part was that I seriously underestimated how tough trail running is. Most of you know I'm a longtime, relatively dedicated runner. My last marathon was 3:49. I generally run at an 8 or 8:30 minute/mile pace, and consider myself overall in good shape. It's fair to say I slacked on the training for this 17-mile trail run because I thought I could wing it pretty easy.
Man, I was so wrong. Trail running uses muscles that I'm relatively sure my body has never exerted before in its life -- not to mention making pretty good use of all the regular running muscles, too. (And my triceps are as sore as anything else. What's up with that?) The technical aspect of it is difficult -- anticipating when and where your foot can land several steps ahead of all the other steps that you're actually currently running. And did I mention the hills? There were kind of a lot of them, and my quads would just not power me up most.
That said. The race was well organized, and the folks running it made some good decisions on the fly, like allowing most runners to double up with partners towards the end to help us all finish the course in less than 24 hours. There were smores a-plenty (though they ran out of coffee, which, now that I think about it, nets them some pretty huge negative points). And though I didn't sleep more than 3 hours, and I was honestly totally terrified to set off by myself into the woods at 4am, with nothing but instinct and a headlamp to guide me, it was kind of exhilarating, too.
But where the experience really shone was with my 7 awesome Ragnar teammates. Sleep was restless and there wasn't much of it; the weather was wet and miserable; we were exceedingly nervous about the trail conditions; and somebody from our team was running exhausting miles literally every hour for 24 hours. And yet? Everybody remained supportive, positive, organized and kind. If there was any situation where a short temper, pissiness about our situation, or a nuclear meltdown could have been expected it was here, but it simply didn't happen. We ended the day with cheers and smiles and plans for Ragnar 2014. (Jesus christ. Is the human capacity to remember pain and misery short or what?)
So many thanks to Michelle Campbell, Bronwen Rice, Stefanie Winzeler, Paige Wooden, Tyler Frisbee, Cortney Higgins, and Allison Harris, (not to mention the dashing male support team of Seth D. Michaels and Alias) for the many hours that went into making this happen, and for such a great time. Here's hoping there's lots of aspirin, whiskey and hot showers in your immediate future.
I'm glad to have made it through my Montana backcountry adventures unscathed, because as you may know if you follow me on Twitter, I do indeed have a stress fracture caused by running. It's in my right tibia, and I was a bit worried that it would really hinder me on the trip, especially on the days we were hiking 8-10 miles.
However, nature is magical and my leg didn't hurt one bit! It probably helped that one of the women in my group worked at a spine surgeon's office and was handing Celebrex out like candy. Maybe constantly swimming in the icy cold water of mountain lakes helped, too. Whatever it was, my leg is feeling a lot better, though I'm still taking it a bit easy, and I'm not going to run for a few more weeks at least. And I have dropped out of my planned October marathon. Le sigh.
It might all be for the best. I'm a bit burned out on running, anyways, and I'm interested in trying out something new. Which is why I finally, after much hemming and hawing, signed up for CrossFit at my gym. I promise that, no matter what I end up feeling about it, I'm going to try my best not to be an obnoxious person about it. Well, I hope, anyways. My best, admittedly, might not be very good. I'm never going to call a gym a "box," though. HOLD ME TO THAT!
I currently feel relatively well cardiovascularly conditioned - the Glacier hikes were pretty easy for me, even the steep uphills. And I credit that to all my running, and also tons of Balance Gym spinning classes (take them with Stacy - she'll make you cry/vomit). But I don't feel particularly strong, and I never have. Not once in my life have I been able to do a pull-up, for example. I'd like to remedy that.
I've also just come to accept that though I will always love and return to running, I'm somebody who sort of likes to flit from fad to fad, different routine to different routine, in order to stay interested in exercising. I enjoy trying out different exercise and fitness things. I even considered buying the Insanity videos a few weeks ago, as I sat in front of my TV a few weekends ago for a full 30 minutes, transfixed by their infomercial.
So we'll see how the CrossFit adventures go. I start my Foundations class in mid-September, so I'll keep you posted, and as soon as I get as strong as the Incredible Hulk (surely within a few sessions, right?) you'll all be the first to know.
So while I'm staying off my leg and not running, because my leg is still hurting and I don't think things are great with it, but whatever, that's okay, I'm still trying to work out and stay strong in different ways. Part of why I'm doing this instead of just full on slobbing out and never exercising even though I have an injury excuse is that I just like to work out and feel healthy. Another part is that my metabolism has gone from high-speed in my late 20s to non-existant in my early 30s and even one week off without working out in some form makes me gain 10 pounds.
So I've been doing yoga, spinning classes at Balance, and a particularly painful morning weight class called "Chisel." Basically you carry around kettle balls and lift them a lot and do a million squats and ow. I was talking about this class with Arlene who also does it on occasion and she revealed the final truth about why I continue to exercise even though I have an excuse to stop:
me: any interest in chisel on monday?
i went on wednesday and wanted to puke
at one point she was like "oh this is how you do this" and i told her i understood how to do it and i was just tired
i lucked out a bit when i last when bc i can't jump on my leg
so i'm spared all the toe hops and squat jumps and what not
Arlene: yeah that's killer
but it's good, i read that squats are the best exercise you can do for yourself because when you get old it gets harder and harder to get out of your chair
so i'm glad she makes us do them, even though i can't do many
I had meant to save loads of exciting stuff for this Weekend Report, but it turns out I already blogged about most of my weekend, so this is going to be very redundant! Apologies in advance.
Friday: I had planned on being social and heading out to Annie's birthday celebration, but a 5:30am wakeup call for my run, and a 10:30pm start time of the festivities, kept me locked inside where I was asleep by the time anyone would have showed up to the bar. At least I watched some Dateline NBC. What a life.
Saturday: 14 mile run, in the pouring rain, up and down some brutal hills. Some days, you have great runs, where you feel like you're flying, the planets have aligned, and you're in the best shape of your life. And some days, you have runs where your legs feel like concrete and you're basically a fat water-logged swamp creature slogging to move your feet even incrementally up and down. This run was one of the latter. But, I finished.
I sincerely do not remember what I did most of the rest of Saturday. Ah, age. Pretty sure I showered. Oh! I watched "Annie Hall" for the first time ever. It was a lovely film, as you know, though I have trouble believing gorgeous women were always into Woody Allen as much as is depicted in the film.
Then I took a 3-hour nap. I was gearing up for the Crystal City Twilight 5k, and trying to give my body a bit of a break between difficult runs. It didn't really work. The 5k felt fine, but it was my second time running in the rain, and that combined with the beer aftewards made me feel a bit woozy. It didn't help that I went over to Phoebe and Eric's afterwards for even more beer. By that point, 4 or so IPAs and 17 miles in, I was, shall we say, a bit tipsy. I made my way around midnight to Fast Gourmet for relief in the form of a giant Cubano sandwich. So glad I live close to that place for necessary quick drunk food.
Sunday: I slept till 9, then got my stuff together to wander towards Big Bear. Ideally I was going to do some work and some blogging, but as noted, they no longer have wifi on weekends! Wah. So instead I did do the crossword. Then I went to Eastern Market and bought a print for my kitchen and wandered around Capitol Hill a bit. That whole neighborhood is really too cute for its own good, is what I think.
Early afternoon, I zipped back to Adams Morgan to have lunch at Peter and Kay's, and then it was eventually off to Abby's on H Street NE, where she baked me and some other ladies some delicious vegetarian lasagna. I was all over the place on Sunday, in terms of DC neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, all that rain, running, beer and zipping around has conspired to make me a bit ill and I went home from work today, feeling woozy and achy. Here's to an early bedtime and feeling a bit healthier tomorrow.
(written this AM, posted much later!)
Hello, world! Writing this from Big Bear Cafe, which has changed radically since I used to live in the neighborhood back in 2008 and hang out here every single night. For one, they now apparently turn off the wifi on parts of the weekends. Boo. For two, I used to drink here for free, and illegally. Now I pay, but it's legal, so trade-off? For three, I used to wait 10 minutes for my yogurt and granola; now I wait 15. I kid. But they really have done great things with the place, and the food is amazing, and the community is great, so I can't complain. Too much. Except about the wifi.
What else to write about? It feels a bit premature to write a Weekend Report, since I have this plan-free Sunday in front of me -- such a luxury -- and who knows what magic could await. Like, more coffee. Maybe a trip to Eastern Market to find some more decor for my apartment (it's still in need of some wall art). Maybe THE CROSSWORD. Await the scintillating post later this evening or tomorrow.
In other news, it won't surprise you to hear I've been running a lot. The Pacers running coach set up a brutally hilly 14 mile run yesterday AM, which really fatigued me. Have you ever run up Mass Ave, then to 34th/Reno? It goes a bit like this: /\/\/\/\/\ ow. I'm on a rest day today (thank god) but the rest of my week looked like this:
Monday: Easy 3 miles (oops, skipped this, due to being in NYC for work and unable to wake up early enough to run and get to my 8am conference)
Tuesday: 6-7 hilly miles, done in Central Park. Good lord. If I had a place like this to run in DC, I think I'd be running twice a day:
Thursday: 6 miles, 2 of them at marathon pace (8 - 8:10 minutes per mile)
Friday: Easy 4 miles
Then Saturday night, because I'm insane, I signed up for and ran the Crystal City Twilight 5k. It was a cool night, the course was flat and fast, and there was beer at the end. What not to like? I ended up running it in just over 23:00 minutes, which was good enough for 11th in my age group (out of 350 ladies or so). One day, an elusive age group win in a race will be mine… (life goal).
Week total: ~34 miles
So I'm ready to enjoy a respite today.
In addition to running in Central Park and thoroughly enjoying it, I think I've developed a beyond-serious crush on New York City. What a surprise. I mean obviously, it's an amazing city. But it used to sincerely terrify me. Every time I went up there, I was overwhelmed, overstimulated, and constantly lost. But in the past few years I've gone up more and more and started to develop a feeling of comfort, and, more importantly, a feeling of mastery over the subway. (It helps that smartphones and trip planning apps have come on the scene so I can figure out how to get from spot to spot via the subway or walking really easily.)
Sunday night, I got in and met up for a drink & dinner with Zach, who happened to be in the city (we're friendly, it's nice). We were stuck in midtown so hit up a couple of places there, including a beer at The Cannibal and a glass of wine at the Ace's John Dory Oyster Bar (we'd hoped to get food there, but, uh, it was super expensive). We eventually ended up getting Korean BBQ at Miss Korea. Very tasty.
Monday, I worked worked worked. My conference was located at NYU, so I ate the conference take-out lunch in Washington Square, which looked like this:
That evening, I headed to Park Slope to visit with Fletcher and Lauren and their adorable newborn, Felix. Then I strolled over to Taro Sushi with Claire & Blair & Natania, and then we got tasty Thai ice cream at a place nearby called Sky Ice. Amazing. I had ginger honey & black sesame seaweed.
Tuesday, it was work work work. The conference was over in mid-afternoon, so I stopped at Think Coffee near NYU to do some more work and drink some, well, coffee. Then there was the closing reception for the conference, and eventually I made my way across the Brooklyn Bridge (I walked it, I do this nearly every time I'm in NYC and never get tired of it), then went to Franny's in Park Slope for dinner, which was a glass of wine and pizza. The pizza was great, the wine was tasty, can't complain (except I did a bit on Twitter, saying I thought Menomale in DC was better than Franny's, but what do I know).
Afterwards I went to meet my Twitter buddy James and his friends at Bar Sepia for a few drinks, and finally, it was near 1 AM, an insanely late weeknight for me, so back to Times Square to my hotel.
Anyways, there's a random mishmash of my latest running and NYC adventures. I'm off to finish my iced coffee and yes, maybe even do the crossword on this lazy Sunday. Enjoy yours!
(Long boring running post about running/training ahead)
It's not secret that I'm a big runner, and I enjoy it, but the fact is, I have no idea what I'm doing. 10 years ago I had even less of an idea. I started running recreationally in college to stay fit (isn't it terrible that back in college I could run 3 miles 3 times a week, eat 2 pints of Ben & Jerry's on my own, drink a keg of beer, and still never put on weight? Side note. Now I'm depressed thinking about my current non-existent metabolism.)
I ran my first half-marathon when I was 23 on minimal training and did it in about 2:15. Between then and a couple of years ago, I ran one marathon and several other halfs. My one marathon time was 4:36, and I never broke two hours during the halfs.
This was simply because it never occured to me that I could actually get faster. The natural pace you ran was the pace you were destined to run for the rest of your life, I assumed. Baby Olympians are born running 5 minute miles out of the womb, where as my 9:30 minute toddler mile was the best I'd ever do and that was a-okay with me. Plus, running long distances like that is hard enough -- how could you possibly even push yourself more when just finishing at the pace you were acclimated to doing was already so tough?
This was the attitude I maintained until one or two years ago, when I started running with more training groups and became friends with people who had a much broader knowledge of how to be a better runner than I did. My training knowledge: You run, a few times a week, and then you run really long on weekends. Also, drink all the beer, because, that is fun. Their training knowledge included terms like tempos, speedwork, optimal training pace, fast-twitch fibers. WTF?
So I started to pick up bits and pieces of knowledge and push myself a little bit harder. With a little bit of speed work and increased distance, I was able to drop my half marathon time by over half an hour from my slowest time, and my marathon time 47 minutes from my slowest time.
Today, I'm looking to go even a bit faster, so I'm trying to do more. It's annoying, because if I want to get even a bit faster, well, I've got to run a lot more. I'm running about 30 miles a week now and that will increase to 50 or 60 miles over the summer as I head towards an early-October marathon. So, if you're interested, this is what a typical week of running looks like for me (if I can stick to it. Sometimes, I can't. I was supposed to get up and run this morning, and due to a couple of heavenly cocktails from the Brixton last night, that did not happen):
Monday: 3-4 easy miles (easy being relative to your base pace. The McMillan calculator is the best way to figure out your training paces) in the morning. I run this between 8:45 and 9:15 min/mile.
Monday night: I try to go to a yoga class if I can, just cause there's a teacher I really like who teaches a Monday night yoga class.
Tuesday: 6 hilly miles (it will probably be more in the coming weeks, I haven't looked at my training calendar (which I ripped out of the July issue of Runner's World -- they had a great piece with NPRite Peter Sagal on how he improved his PR [personal record]. I love the title: The Time of the Ancient Marathoner.)) As this article mentions, hills, and lots of them, are the best way to get fast. These also tend to be 8:45 - 9 min miles for me, sometimes slower, because hills are hard, duh.
Wednesday: Rest, thank golly, because I can't move.
Thursday: 6-8 easy miles.
Friday: 3 easy miles.
Saturday: Long run time. These start at 9-10 miles and go up to 20 or 22. This weekend, I've got to run 16. Blech. The perk is that you are supposed to run this real slow. I find this very counter-intuitive and hard to do, but it's easier on your body and these runs aren't supposed to work to maek you fast; they're just supposed to help build endurance and time on your feet. So I'll probably run them at 9-9:30.
Sunday: Rest, praise Allah. Maybe gentle yoga.
Some Tuesdays I'll probably replace the hill repeats with speed workout or tempo runs. Speed workouts usually take place on a track, if you have access to them. They can get very complicated and there are lots of variations to them, but I like simple a workout referred to as Yasso 800s, named after Bart Yasso, a Runners World editor. It's easy. Basically his hypothesis is that if you can run ten 800s (aka twice around a 400m track) in, say, 4 minutes, resting for 4 minutes in between each sprint, then you can run a 4-hour marathon. If you can do 10 800s in 3:30, with 3:30 rest in between each, you can run a 3:30 marathon. And so on. Of course, you'll have had to do all the other long runs, etc.
Tempos are also great. Melody has a good post on what tempo runs are:
A Tempo Run is a rate of performance at a steady pace. In other words, you’re running almost as fast as you can for a defined amount of time. Tempo runs help develop metabolic fitness; and as a result, your anaerobic (or lactic) threshold will improve – this is key for running faster.
I still have no idea what anaerobic threshold means, but tempo runs do work.
So, that's pretty much it! A mix of hills, tempo, speedwork, easy easy runs, and the long runs, and you're ready for a faster marathon. I sure hope it works for me. My goal pace for my upcoming marathon is about 8:08, which is will be the fastest I've ever run for 26.2 miles, and no doubt painful. But if I can stick to this training plan, I think I'll be in decent shape for it.
And that's a pretty amazing thing.
Well, three months after I stated my goals for 2012, I figured it'd be worth doing a check-in, and also to let you know a bit about what's going on in my sexy, thrilling, exciting life. So sexy and thrilling I don't blog anymore!
Okay, it's not that sexy or thrilling. In fact I think I act more like a 90-year-old lady than ever. But it's all pretty great, though. What have I been up to? (...digging through Facebook timeline to aid my addled memory...)
-I got an iPhone! What! I gave up my not-so-beloved Droid and quickly became the most obsessed user of Instragram. That app is something magic.
-I turned 32! Yeah for ambivalent ages that don't really signify anything.
-I continued to run quite a lot and threw in some speedwork and track workouts to try to get faster.
-And I also started marathon training for a spring marathon at the start of May.
-Um... that's it! Oh, I quit drinking for a month at the end of January...
-...and continued to quit drinking through most of February. Guys, I made it 29 days without alcohol! I don't know quite how I did it. It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be, either. Tips on doing this:
-What else? Oh yeah, then I went to Mexico and drank all the beer. Seriously, I turned into a can of Negro Modelo. Zach and I booked a, dare say I, fabulous vacation to an all-inclusive resort just north of Tulum. It was the Hotel Catalonia Royal Tulum and it was wonderful. I'd never done an all-inclusive resort thing before and worried it would be terrible and cheesy. I think some must be, but this one was adult-only, very grown-up, had excellent food, and one of the most beautiful beaches I'd ever been on. We read, snorkeled, swam, drank, napped and did that on repeat for four days. One day, we got pina coladas on the beach at 11am, because, why not? Mexico! A few photos.
-I didn't quite quit drinking entirely post-Mexico (when I needed another cleanse) but I would say the sober month changed my relationship with alcohol a bit. To be fair, I was already headed down a path of not drinking as much as I used to (which has got to be pretty normal as you enter your 30s). Not because I don't still think beer's awesome, but because I get hungover from 2 beers and the pain and lost time due to even a minor hangover was not worth it anymore, I'd decided. Plus my body is taking aging hard enough and I don't need need to help out its breaking-down-process at all.
Anyways, so I decided at the start of March, from now on, I'm going to try to limit my drinking a certain amount. No more than 3 drinks in one sitting (because 4 drinks in one sitting for ladies is considered binge drinking by the CDC); at least 2 days a week without any booze whatsover; and ideally no more than 7-10 drinks a week total. Definitely exceptions will be made for special ocassions, but hopefully I can stick to that plan (which I still track on socialworkout.com).
-I also ran the Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon March 17 and came away with a new personal record of 1:43:57! Hooray. Sadly, that does not count as beating my brother in a half marathon (one of my 2012 goals) - his best time on that course is 1:39. Damn those fast legs of his. But I have the rest of the year to try another half.
-I continued to run a lot, in hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon at some point this year. Um, I think I blogged before that I thought quitting booze for a month would be harder than qualifying for the Boston Marathon. Um, I think I was wrong. Running that fast for that long is going to be real hard. If I want to make it happen (it being running a marathon in under 3:35), my (maximum) pace per mile has got to be about 8:10. I can run that pace for a half marathon (my pace on my half was 7:50), but twice that long is a whole different story.
I ran my first 20-miler this past Saturday and I felt pretty strong and hit my goal paces, but am trying to be kind to myself and recalibrate my expectations for the May marathon. If I don't hit 3:35 this May, I won't be disappointed in myself. I'll just work harder for a fall marathon. After beating myself with a cat o' nine tails, that is.
-I've also obnoxiously gotten into my diet and into juicing this month, as well. Zach was out of town for 10 days this month on a work trip, and what did I do while he was gone? Did I party to relive my days of boozy singlehood? No, I juiced, like, obessively. And then ran a lot. And I made cauliflower rice. Then went to bed at 10pm every night. WHAT IS GOING ON. I am kind of confused as to what's going on with me in terms of my interest in health. I've never been uber unhealthy, but I've never been very healthy, either, despite being relatively slim much of my life. I drank a lot. I smoked occasionally. I ate crap. I sat on the couch for long periods of time.A regular day's food for me would be: coffee, bagel, pasta, pasta, ice cream.
Now, out of nowhere, I have a very active interest in my health and particularly what food I put in my mouth. Is this just something that happens when you hit your early 30s, like how when you turn 50 or 60, you get a weird interest in your family tree and start documenting all of your ancestors? (That's not just my family, right?) Anyways, it's interesting and I can't quite explain why I'm so into it. I'm trying to eat 5-10 fruits and veggies a day as well as juice every morning as well as cut out most refined foods and wheat and processed sugar. It might be comforting thinking that with somebody of a family history of breast cancer, I can take an active control and role in my health in terms of prevention.
Anyways... what else? I've kept up pretty well with my other 2012 goals. I've been hiking each month. I'm listening to two albums a month (Tanlines is my favorite). Guys, I WENT TO THE DENTIST! Two cavities and need a new crown. Not great, but for not having gone to the dentist in about 4 years, I'll take it.
And most exciting of all, I just booked a trip to Glacier National Park in August! And I'm dragging along Susan and Tracey. It'll be a fantastic trip of girlfriends gone wild amongst the glaciers. Glaciers, please stick around for the next few months till I can see you.
I think that is a long and windy recap of what I've been up to the past three months. Et tu?
Growing up, my (younger by 2.5 years) brother and I were never particulary competitive, at least that I remember (my parents may tell a different story). Part of the reason may have been that we just simply excelled in different areas. He was the scientist/engineer; I was the writer/internet obsessive. He was great at playing trumpet; I was great at IDing awesome new bands for us both to listen to (And I don't think we were EVER competitive with our baby sister, mainly because if you're competitive with somebody who is 8 years younger than you, you have a problem. That said, my sister would win the Excellent in Awesome Fashion and Also Languages award if there were one in the Andrews family).
The one area where I began to feel a slight edge of competition was in tennis. I started playing tennis around age 11 and got pretty good pretty fast (relatively so; I was never on a Wimbledon or even a college JV track). Peter started playing around the same time and also got quite good, and we took lots of lessons together. We were evenly matched; he probably had more power, but I was more consistent. We could have epic rallies and matches, some of which ended with me throwing down my racquet in competition.
We both dropped tennis when we got to college, though. Peter focused on NROTC and engineering school; I focused on English lit and blogging. During our one-year overlap at UVa, we spent more time sharing a beer than a tennis court.
However, it seems that of late, running caused our latent sibling rivalry to reemerge. We've always both been casual runners, mostly for fitness more than anything else. Peter, however got quite into it a few years ago and runs very frequently and has done a marathon and some halfs. As you know by now, I've recently gotten way more into running as well, and have done something like 10 halfs and now two marathons. I like to think it's our father's genes (he's a 3:10 marathoner) blooming late in both of us.
In a recent email exchange, I told Peter my recent Marine Corps Marathon time, which bested his marathon time of two years ago by 20 minutes. This was a point of pride for me because there has never been any doubt that Peter is by far the faster runner. His reaction: "Now I have to sign up for another marathon so I can beat your time."
The competition was on.
We had family brunch this weekend and I told Peter I was going to beat his half marathon time in March when we both run the Rock 'n Roll DC half. He laughed derisively and told me it couldn't be done.
His best half time is 1:39; my best half time is 1:50. He thinks he can shave even more minutes off his best, which leaves me aiming for perhaps a 1:35 half by March (which is a terrifying 7:15 pace). This may seem like an unlikely feat for me to be able to accomplish, but I'm going to try. What I'm relying on? The fact that since I started running more seriously, I cut 10 minutes off my best half, and 45 minutes off my best marathon. And I only started running more seriously in the past 5 months. If I use the next 3-4 to train hard and focus on speed and trackwork, I think it's within reach. Also, long-distance runner women get faster as they get into their 30s. True story!
So, Peter - it's on. Only thing to be determined: what's the wager? If I win, I'll take a case of Budweiser. It'll be just like UVa.
Hey folks, are you looking for a fun 5k? Consider signing up for the Girls on the Run 5k on December 4. I'm volunteering with this organization to put on this race, and if you like empowering girls, and hate inactivity and bad health and being out of shape, uh, or whatever, you'll like this.
The organization is awesome - it's a "youth development program which combines an interactive curriculum and running to inspire self-respect and healthy lifestyles in pre-teen girls. Our core curriculum addresses many aspects of girls’ development – their physical, emotional, mental and social well-being. Lessons provide girls with the tools to make positive decisions and to avoid risky adolescent behaviors."
If you've ever found empowerment and self-respect through a physical activity, you know why this is so effective for girls of this age. Plus, our nation's kids need to get moving more than ever, before all 100% of them get diabetes...like, seriously.
Continuing with the theme so far, here are some items I've found useful for my running and training.
-Nuun: These are electrolyte tablets without all the nasty sugar and loads of calories. I'm as much of a fan of Gatorade as anybody (still the best hangover cure around in my opinion) but these tablets are nowhere near as sweet but still provide you with all the good hydration and stuff you need.
-The Stick: I at first found this product laughable, but now I love it. It massages down your muscles post-run, which helps with soreness. I also use it on knots in my neck, and on the arches of my feet when I feel any hint of plantar fasciitis setting in.
-Ice baths: Not really a product, but something I try to utilize on any runs 15 miles and up. Really reduces soreness afterwards. Just buy 3-4 bags of ice, and dump them in a bathtub full of cold water that reaches up to your waist. Make yourself a mug of hot coffee or tea, wear a jacket (maybe rolled up a bit so it doesn't get wet), gird your loins, and jump in for 15 minutes.
-Garmin 110: A lot of folks, when they start to get into running, buy more advanced (and expensive) Garmins. All I wanted was something that measured pace, time and distance, and this fits the bill (though it's not cheap; I got mine for around $130). It really helped me during the marathon. I knew my goal mile pace, and it'll tell you after every mile how you're doing. If I was starting to slow down or speed up, it kept me in line.
-Born To Run: Whether or not you're interested in running, you'll love this book. It's a fascinating story about super athletes, human development, and ultra distance runners. Super well-plotted as filled with lots of interesting tidbits and facts. I read it in two days right before I ran the Virginia Beach Half Marathon and it made me feel so much like "RUNNING IS SO EFFING AWESOME" that I think it helped me get my best time.
-Clif shots and Gu packets: Look, any and all of these gel products are going to taste disgusting and feel nasty in your mouth. I used 5 of them during the Marine Corps Marathon and by the 4th and 5th ones, it felt like I was trying to swallow some sick combo of glue and sugar. But they work and give you the necessary carbs/energy/whatever to keep energy maintained over long-distance runs. I alternate between the caffeineted Clif shots and plain Gu packets.
-Running beanie: I don't know what brand made mine, but it's essential for winter running to keep my head and ears warm. Best part? It's got a hole in the back for my ponytail! It's the little things, people.
-Nike running capris: I have these in black. I just like the way they look. And they're comfy.
I think that's it about it. What are your favorite running products?
I have to laugh, because in order to write this post, I looked up my 7-year-old recap of my 2004 marathon, and thank god I actually trained well for this year, because that was a hellish experience. I'd forgotten about the pit stop of doom.
So. What happened? I signed up for the Marine Corps Marathon. Why? I've gotten somewhat involved with a local DC running group and somebody had a couple of extra bibs and I figured, why not? I don't have a hobby. I don't party much anymore because my body collapses after 2 drinks. I may as well spend my extra time fine-tuning my body into a muscled racing machine not sitting on the couch with an order of delivery pizza watching every Netflix video ever.
I started training in July and took it pretty seriously. I also had a new obession: becoming fast(er). I ran the 2004 marathon in 4:36, and I knew I could do better. My dad is a former 3:10 marathoner and I figured I've inherited at least some of his genes. So in addition to long runs, I started doing track speed workouts and hillier routes, which really upped my speed.
The end result? I ran strong, didn't really hit a wall until mile 24, blacked out for the last two miles but still ran, and finished with a 3:49.
Next up? Rest, for a little while. I've weirdly become kind of obsessed with trying to get faster, so I've signed up for a customized training plan that I'll try to use to do well on my next race, which is probably the DC half marathon in March. Then another marathon? We'll see. I'd love to qualifying for Boston, which means a sub 3:35:00 for my age group.
See, in the time I haven't written in this blog, I've become a huge running dork. I've also forgotten how to write. I feel so rusty! But hopefully NaBlo whatever will help with that.
Hi all! I'm still here, still alive, mostly evidenced by the fact that I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon this Sunday. This will be my first marathon in seven years - and, uh, only my second marathon ever. A few friends have expressed interest in trying to come and spot me during the race, so here's some instructions.
-Here's the official spectator's guide. Scroll down a bit, and they have several recommended viewing spots.
-I caught my brother a few years ago in front of the Air & Space museum and it was a fine spot and not too terribly crowded with viewers. That's around mile 18. I'm going to aim to be there between 10:20 and 11 AM. Sorry, I know that's a broad goal, I'm just not sure how fast I'll be going or when I'll be able to cross the start line due to the corrals of differently-paced runners.
-If you want to see me at my worst, I recommend placing yourself towards the end of the 14th Street Bridge (the fabled mile 20, aka THE WALL for most runners). When I ran in 2004, my friend Brian caught me there, and he was literally just about the only spectator on the bridge, and though I was crazed and suicidal at that point, his cheers really helped me through. That will be two miles after the Air & Space museum, so it will probably be between 10:40 and 11:20 AM.
-Miles 10 and 16 are close together if you'd like to see me at two spots. Mile 10 is just about the Lincoln Memorial, and I'll aim to be there around 9:30 to 10 AM. I believe mile 16 is near Ohio Drive and 23rd Street NW.
-If you have another spot you'd like to watch from, just let me know where it is. I'll calculate out my pace and tell you when I'm likely to run past.
This is a duplicate of an email just sent to friends, but posting here also in the hopes of gaining new registrants!
I'm a "team captain" for For Love of Children (FLOC) as they participate in the Acumen Race for a Cause (Sunday, October 16, an 8K race). I volunteer as a tutor for FLOC. A bit about them: They're a mainly volunteer-run organization that tutors and mentors low-income DC students. Since 2006, FLOC has helped more than 1,000 students gain at least one year in reading and math skills, while 100% of their high school seniors have graduated and gone on to higher education. In short, they're amazing, especially in a city where fewer than 50% of students complete high school and fewer than 10% earn a post-secondary degree.
This Race for a Cause benefits 10 local non-profits. When you register, you designate one non-profit to be your beneficiary. The non-profit who gets the most votes wins the most money. FLOC came in 3rd last year and got $12,000. This year, they're gunning for 700 votes -- and if they get 1st place, they'll get a much-needed $30,000!
My goal is to recruit as many people as possible to sign up for this race and designate FLOC. It's only $25 to register (it jumps up on September 20th).
I hope you'll consider registering and running and picking For Love of Children as your beneficiary. It'd mean an awful lot to me. And please pass this on to anybody else who may be interested.
Thanks for listening to me go on -- I appreciate it. Please let me know if you've signed up, so I can report back to FLOC. And please email me if you have any questions. Post-run beers are on me!
(I'm at pablohoney at gmail dot com)
I haven't done a weekend report in forever! And my weekends have been quite full and fun. I've just been utterly lazy. But I had a particularly good weekend this past one, so why not share? AND TALK ABOUT SO MUCH NAKED TILDA SWINTON?
Friday night: Charles took me to the orchestra! We swung by his parents' place in Arlington and had a beer with his wonderful mom, whom I hadn't seen in forever. Then we grabbed a tasty Salvadorian dinner at La Union up the street, and then it was off to Wolf Trap for orchestral/operatic renditions of music inspired by Romeo & Juliet. It was lovely and we were in literally the very first row of the pit. I have never been covered by so much opera singer spit ever in my life.
Well, as long as I keep having good weekends, I may as well keep writing these little recaps to remember how nice they were. Let's see what I did, shall we? I am sure you are all waiting with bated breath.
The pants of which I speak are Nike Dri-FIT Be Strong Polyester Women's Training Pants. OH MY LAWDY. One day after a training run with my brother in Arlington (that ended up at Ray's Hell Burger; do we know how to run, or what?) I walked up to Pacer's running store, in search of a new pair of running pants. My old ones were threadbare, and frankly, it was getting a little bit embarrassing for everybody involved. I walked around the store, evaluating my pant needs, and settled on trying on the aforementioned Nike ones. It was just meant to be a dressing room quickie, really. I wasn't looking for a long-term pants relationship. But guess what? I'LL NEVER BUY ANOTHER PAIR OF PANTS AGAIN.
These pants do it all. They block wind. They look flattering. They're stretchy (I use them as my primary yoga pants, as well; they're what I'm wearing in my headstand videos here and here). For those of us ladies who are rather long-torsoed, they have a high waistband. For those of us ladies who are on the tall side, they're long enough. They're the bees knees, basically.
Anyways, if you're in the market, may I recommend these? They're sturdy. They're supportive. They'll be there for you through thick and thin. Till inseam splits do us part.
Wondering what this is? I turn 30 on January 11th. Every day until then, I'm listing 30 goals I'd like to accomplish in my 30th year. If you have an idea for me, leave a comment!
#14: Run a half marathon. God help me. If you know my injury history you know why this freaks me out. Don't know my injury history? Used to be quite a runner until, while training for the Marine Corps Marathon in summer of '08, I stressed fractured my pubic bone (ha ha ha yes I said pubic bone shut up). I could barely walk for months, let alone run. Ever since then, every time I've tried to get back on the running track, I either slightly re-injure it or it starts to twinge such that I freak out and stop running completely.
But my little brother is all about running these days, out of nowhere (last time we ran I coulda schooled him while finishing the San Diego half marathon; these days, he's a RUNNING MACHINE running way faster than I could ever dream of) and he thinks he's going to do the National Marathon half and I think I'm going to do it with him. I've accepted I'll likely never run a marathon again, but a half seems...doable.
This is a goal I plan on going easy on myself with. If I don't do a half, it's okay. The health of my leg is more important than doing the race. But I hope I can make it happen. Going for a six mile run later today, and we'll see how I hold up.