Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Running Weather

One of these looks much better than the other.  Woot!  

I forgot how much I appreciate any trip north in late July or anytime in August.  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Running at the Lake

In Dallas, there is essentially only one body of water in town, so naturally, runners, walkers and bikers are drawn to it.  Luckily for runners, "looping the lake" is a perfect distance -- about 15k or 9.3 miles. 

For the first couple years I trained for marathons, I did every single long run at the lake.  One loop, two loops, maybe some out and back on a trail leading off the lake if a different distance was required.  Always at the lake, starting in the southwest corner. 

The year that my life was fairly overwhelming (insane hours at work, rapidly budding romance with my now husband), I was an evening runner, and I met friends out at the lake two nights per week to log our miles.  Always at the lake, starting in the middle of the eastern side. 

Then I started training with the local program that I run with now and we still run at the lake fairly often.  From our usual starting point, going our usual route to the lake, it takes about 4 miles to get there.  Sometimes for a weekday 8 or 9 mile run, we run that route to the lake, finish out the distance to the u-turn point at the lake, then head back.  And sometimes for long runs on the weekend, we will run all or part of the loop.  And when I meet my buddies now to run some extra miles of hills on Fridays, we start at the lake, now on the northwest corner. 

Back in 2012, when I was training for the Bataan Memorial Death March marathon, I was going to be competing in the weighted division, which meant doing the marathon with a military regulation weight backpack (at least 35 pounds).  I guessed at how long it would take based on past results, and I figured about 8-9 hours was a good guess, so on three separate days in the months leading up to that race, I walked around the lake with my pack (or with my weight vest before I became one with the pack), for 9 hours -- that meant 3 loops of the lake, 27 miles per day.  Always at the lake, starting on the northeast corner. 

And of course the lake is a very popular race location.  There's even one race that's called "The Loop".  When I look over my spreadsheet of all the registered road races that I've ever done as an adult residing in Dallas (that number is now up to 146!!!!), about half of them have been at least partially along the lake (71 by my count, including the 2005 White Rock half (though I'm not positive if that course was on the lake at all), but not including the 2011 White Rock marathon relay since my leg wasn't at the lake).  When I added that parenthetical, it's a good example -- even our big local marathon was named after the local lake until a couple years ago (since they're trying to make it more "big city" now). 

So it's safe to say I have some history with the lake.  And I won't even go into non-running time at the lake (renting bikes with my brother to loop the lake, going to concerts at the Arboretum, picnicking and grilling with friends, walking around the Arboretum, etc.).

Given my history with the lake, sometimes I don't really notice or appreciate it.  Sometimes I hate it -- bikers going too quickly, the awful smell of the 2 month per year "birdshit zone", the mugginess and bugs that seem to congregate, the water fountains that sometimes don't work in the winter, the two shaky bridges...  But usually I'm fairly neutral, somewhat ambivalent toward the lake.  But sometimes I love it. 

I'm definitely not one to stop for photos while running.  But this lake/tree/sunrise was just so beautiful.  Too bad my iphone camera isn't so great. 


Reminds me how lucky I am to be near this great place to run. It might pale in comparison to the lovely lakes I got to run during the marathon in Minnesota, fabulous Lakeshore Drive by Lake Michigan, or to the awesome scenery that runners in California, Colorado, etc. seem to get on nearly every run. But for Dallas, it's pretty good, and it really is something special that I should appreciate more regularly.

Monday, July 29, 2013

FMM: 10 Things that Make Me Happy

My weekend was far busier than usual, and far busier than I like, but it was pretty much filled with fun stuff, so I can't really complain. 

Friday night we went to see Before Midnight.  I loved the first two movies, the first made in 1994 and the second in about 2003.  If there's a fourth, I hope it doesn't take another decade to make.  

Saturday was errands during the day (including some running-related purchases I'll have to share later this week, a haircut, and a mani-pedi), then our book club ten year party Saturday night.  That was a lot of fun.  Several women who'd moved away flew back and we all got to reminisce.   When book club started, most people were married without kids.  I was one of the few not married.  Almost all lawyers, but a few lawyer spouses.  Now, ten years later, most have kids, two are divorced, I and another single are married, and there have been tons of job changes.  One is now a GC, several in-house, almost none at the original two law firms where we all worked (or a couple husbands worked).  Amazing how much change has happened in all our lives in ten years.  We also spent lots of time looking back and laughing or groaning about some of the books we read. 

Sunday was a long run, 17 miles, which hurt a bit after so much food and drink the night before.  But I survived.  And I actually felt good enough when I finished to go out for one more mile, brining my total for the day to 18 miles.  Most my friends are doing later races than I am, so I figured one extra mile was a good idea.  The rest of the morning Sunday was mostly packing for our trip, doing laundry, getting organized for work.  We are flying to Pittsburgh Wed morning to see hubby's parents.  Last time we will see them before they move to the assisted living facility, so I wonder how it will be emotionally.  Then at about 1:00, I went to a running friend's house.  She was having a pool party for all the women in our group.  Our pace group is mostly guys, so it was nice -- events like that are especially good since women runners sometimes can be very competitive with each other.  This was fun but yikes, I felt very intimidated in a bikini around all of them.  And what's worse, most of them have had kids!  And they still have better abs than I do!  Haha, oh well. 

Sunday night was early to bed since I had to be awake extra early this morning.  I usually ride with a friend to go run on Tuesday mornings, but she can't make it this week, so I need to drive.  Since I'm only in the office Mon and Tues this week due to our trip, normally I'd drive to work Monday morning with all my stuff, run home, run to work Tues, and then drive home Tues night.  But that would leave me with no car to go meet my friends Tues morning.  So the compromise plan was that hubby would bring me to work after boot camp on his way to work.  But that meant I had to have all my stuff loaded up and ready to go before boot camp. AND we had to leave for boot camp extra early today since we had a friend joining us to check it out for her first time. 

So I was showered and at my desk by 7:30 today, which is kind of nice.  So I'm taking a Friend Making Monday work break! 

friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Ten Things That Make Me Happy
1. Feeling like I am running strong.  When I struggle to finish a training run, it shapes my entire outlook, sometimes for days, I feel disappointed, discouraged and weak.  But when I have a run like Sunday, I feel like I'm walking on air, kicking ass, and generally unstoppable.  And fortunately that feeling lasts for days too!!!  In reality, I'm happy I'm healthy, running is a large part of that, but I'm also happy there's no cancer, no brain injury, no broken leg, whatever, to pull me down. 

2.  Anticipating our trip to Europe in September.  And knowing that our 2014 trip (current plan is Dubai, India and Nepal or Seychelles) is going to be just as exciting.  A book that I read last year said that a big element of what makes people happy is anticipating an event.  Well, that's certainly true for me and travel!

3.  Having lots of family and friend events on the horizon.  Going to PA to visit in the in-laws this week, having my brother come to visit in two weeks, going back to KC for my high school reunion in less than a month, and lots of stuff with friends at home before then!  The female half of our neighbor couple is back in Dallas so as soon as we get back from PA, I'm looking forward to lots of time with her, particularly working on a few projects around the house and chatting while we do them. 

4. The puzzle that I started working on this weekend and will get to finish when we get back from PA.  It's only 500 or 750 pieces but it will be tough -- a whole bunch of penguins!  It will hopefully take my mind off temps that will regularly be over 100 when we get back.

5.  My job!  I just unloaded about 15 cases, a couple of which I didn't like, on a new attorney, and this morning I sent my one and only report that was due, so I'm the most caught up I've been in months, if not years.  And I can't wait to do many of the tasks that are on my agenda today!  One of the single things that made the biggest difference in my happiness in the last 5 years was probably changing jobs to something that I love. 

6.  Having company for my running commute home tonight.  My buddy from accounting will join me for the first couple miles.  It means my pace will be slower, but that's great news for my legs, and great for more conversation.  It's fun to have someone to gossip with.

7.  A mild summer.  Running in Dallas in the summer is never much fun, but this summer is probably the mildest I've ever experienced here.  Some years by the start of August, we've had over a month of days at 100 or higher.  So far this year, we're at less than 10.  And I think I'm going to be enjoying even more amazing weather when we get to Pennsylvania on Wednesday -- that will feel so refreshing.  I hate winter running, having to decide how many layers to wear, feeling like I can't get warm, etc.  And running in extreme heat is no picnic either, but this summer is working out very well for me. 

8.  Our house.  We just had our carpets cleaned and with the upcoming trip, things feel very organized and clean.  I am not a super-organized person by nature, so having our house in this organized state makes me feel so good.  It is much more relaxing to be home (though having a puzzle in progress on the table makes it a little less relaxing!). 

9.  Is it bad to say The Bachelorette?  The season finale starts tonight I think (and I think it's two parts).  It's such terrible tv, but sometimes it's so much fun to watch.  I don't know where they are on tonight's episode, but it's someplace beachy that looks very pretty. 

10.  Of course my sweet husband.  He's been swamped with work and lately it's even occupying his mind a lot when he's not at work, primarily because he has a big project due in mid-August that is very separate from his day-to-day work.  But he's planning on taking a complete break from it starting on Wed. when we go to see his parents, and so even though I'll have to work while in PA, it will be nice to have more quality time together.  More walks holding hands, more sitting really close on the couch, more meals together, more stolen kisses when his parents aren't looking...

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Take time to get to know someone new this week, leave a few comments and come back and link up in the comments. Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Treasured Necklace

Recently, I came across this post on a blog I read regularly, Rantings of an Insecure Chubby Girl.  At the end of the post, she showed off some cool running penants she'd gotten in the mail and was wearing on a necklace.

I'm not sure why I didn't post about this before (well, I do know why, after the holidays always seems crazy and busy), but I thought I'd do a special post about one of my favorite recent Christmas gifts.

For Christmas 2011, my folks (really, my mom, I know this gift was 100% her doing), gave me this necklace:

Hopefully those pictures turn out. If not, it's 3 little pieces of metal hanging from a single loop on a necklace. One says "Run", one says "26.2", and one says "Boston." On the back of the Boston one, it has my name and it says 4/18/11, which was the day I ran the Boston marathon after years of thinking of the race and attempting to qualify.

My mom runs too and has always been one of my biggest fans. She knew how much my BQ meant to me and she was actually at the race where it happened -- the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon. That race has both the marathon distance and a 10 mile race, and she and my husband had both run the 10 miler (while my brother and his wife, my cousin, and some friends) also ran the marathon. So she saw me shortly after I crossed the line and knew that I'd (finally) done it. And since I always go home for Christmas, she was also there for Christmas of 2010 when my husband gave me a running book and plane tickets for us to go to Boston.

It's one of my favorite pieces of jewelry and I'm wearing it more frequently these days as I try to stay focused on the goal at hand -- my dream PR in Berlin on September 29.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Halfway There -- Resolutions Check-In

More than six months of the year already gone.  Wow...

I did one recap of my progress on my 2013 resolutions back at the beginning of March, I seriously intended to check in earlier to see if I'm progressing, but now's as good a time as any.  12 resolutions, roughly in order of priority. 

1. Hardest effort ever at a couple months of speed training, then hardest effort ever training for an early fall marathon. The idea is that this work will lead me to a marathon PR by 11 minutes and 30 seconds in Berlin in late September. IN PROGRESS. I worked with a speed coach until the end of April, and marathon training officially began in mid-May.  This past weekend was what I consider my first "real" long run -- 16 miles.  I'm doing most my easy runs about 40-80 seconds slower than I plan to race.  I've been struggling when I attempt to run race pace or faster sometimes, but I have to remind myself that it's probably to be expected, given current training conditions of over 70 degrees on every single run.  I'm going to keep at it!  This week, we had 4 miles of marathon pace, and I pretty much nailed it (a bit too fast on the last one, but solid otherwise). 

2. Cook at least 52 real dinners from recipes. STRONG PROGRESS.  I've posted updates on this resolution about the first 30 recipes I've done, and I'll continue that until I get to 52 (or until year end possibly, whether it's 52 or more or less).  I love doing this resolution. It's great to have the leftovers for lunches or easy dinners during the week, and having a real meal (and leftovers) makes me feel more like a grown-up than eating stuff that's just thrown together and/or microwaved. It also makes me feel like a good wife since I usually cook on Sundays, and my husband usually works on Sundays, and there's something that makes me very happy to see how happy he is to come home to a real dinner. 

3. Quit Facebook. Not actual facebook suicide, I'm leaving the profile up, and I may log in on weekends to check for messages and/or invitations, and I'll probably check if I'm tagged in a photo by someone else just to make sure it's not horrifying, but no more daily reading what's going on with friends. SO FAR, SO GOOD. I've logged on about sporadically to get email addresses, to respond to a couple personal messages, and to browse, but I've been avoiding the news feed for days or weeks at a time and I'm happier for it. I've been playing more sudoku on my phone, but I rationalize that sudoku is brain exercise.  One benefit of no FB is that when I go to my 20 year high school reunion at the end of August, I'll be more surprised by the photos rather than already having seen anything shared in advance on FB. 

4. New to me country (a repeat resolution, since I'm not sure I really achieved this in 2012). If all goes as I hope, the new country will be Lichtenstein, and that will be on about October 4. NOT YET. It's still a plan for the fall though.  Since my last update, we have actually purchased plane tickets that have us landing in Berlin, returning a rental car in Lamezia Terme, Italy, flying to Venice, and flying to Amsterdam (then flying home), so with that rental car, in between Berlin and Lamezia, hopefully Lichtenstein will be explored. 

5. Study Italian at least once a week and attend an Italian conversation class regularly. FAILING. I've been good about attending a conversation class frequently, but I'm not studying at all on my own, and that is perhaps what I need to do most. Only about 2 more months to buckle down on this to have my Italian be coherent when we see my husband's family in October.  This resolution should move up in priority. 

6. Weight management. Right now I'm sitting just over the halfway point of the 10 pound range where I've hovered for the last few years. I want to get to the bottom half, ideally the bottom, and stay there. STRONG PROGRESS.  For the most part, I'm almost always in the bottom half of my 10 pound range since about mid-March.  I'd like to maybe lose a few more pounds before the marathon, but most of all, I don't want to gain. 

7. Entertain at home at least 6 times, at least 3 times included people who haven't ever come over for dinner before. STRONG PROGRESS. We've entertained five times, including three times with people we hadn't invited over before.  I need to work on having a dinner planned for the end of August probably (I'm thinking of inviting all my friends going to Germany for the race and their spouses), and then maybe one in November.  Having so much travel planned for the end of the year means I should knock this one out soon.  I've decided that dinners with family members don't count, and I probably won't count any dinners with just our next door neighbors (I counted the one we did, but we'll probably have them over at least a couple more times this year). 

8. Finish our wedding scrapbook. FAILING.  I have the scrapbook sitting out in plain view in the living room, but it's still only about 60% complete.  And we've now been married more than four years.  Sigh. 

9. Less procrastination at work. The three big areas where I drag my feet are voicemails, reports, and reviewing records. I need to check voicemail at least once a week (we have a log, so I can see who is calling, so I answer the calls I want, and let the "ugh" ones go to voicemail, then I suck at checking messages). I need to do initial case reports within 3 weeks of it hitting my desk (for most my cases, it's actually easier to do it sooner, rather than later, because the later I wait, the more information I have that I need to include). I need to review records within 60 days of receipt (I sometimes let "not urgent" stacks sit for way too many months). IN PROGRESS. I'm doing so much better on voicemails (as of last night, I had zero, currently I think two). Reports are getting done pretty quickly (I am only behind on one). But records review hasn't been happening. But I feel more on top of things and more productive, so that's good.  And I recently transferred about 15 cases off my docket to a new attorney in our group, so that is easing the pressure too.  I'm more caught up than I have been all year.  I'm hoping when I travel next week, I'll make a dent in some records. 

10. Update our stairwell photos through the end of 2012.  The stairs between our first and second floors on one wall are full of photos of the two of us beginning with our very first photo together, and presently ending in Sweden in 2010. IN PROGRESS. I chose and ordered photos beginning with Russia in 2010 and ending with China in 2012.  Then I went to an Ikea in a BFE suburb to get the frames, but they didn't sell them anymore.  So I tried another Ikea near Austin, and no frames there either.  So I bought similar frames in a different color and I have put all my photos with my law school roommate (on the other side of our stairwell) into those new frames, and I have used those original frames to frame updated pics of me and hubby.  AND I've hung several photos.  I have 15 photos left in matching frames that I need to hang, but only room for two more on the wall (and that will take us up to April 2012).  And then I need to figure out what the heck I'm going to do since I will be out of frames that match and out of wall -- I can start taking down photos with my law school roommate (that I just reframed a month ago), but that means new holes in the wall, and frames that don't match.  Hmmm...  This resolution is a mess. 

11. Sunday organizing time. I need to set aside at least one hour every Sunday before 6:00 p.m. to prepare for the coming week -- that means making my lunches in advance (with the current running commute plan, I have to bring Mon-Thurs lunches on Monday), planning my outfits (including shoes and jewelry), packing my outfits (including laundry bags), and pulling together any "other" stuff to bring to the office on Monday (usually bills that need to be paid, greeting cards that need to be mailed, etc.). IN PROGRESS. I've been doing outfits and/or lunches on Sundays, occasionally both, and I feel like I'm making progess. But I need to get this one all the way done, so that most weeks, it's all done on Sundays.  I'm still in the habit of having too much to do before I drive to work on Mondays.    

12. Regular non-drive commute to work. STRONG PROGRESS. Even on days where it hasn't sounded like fun, I'm regularly commuting to work on foot. I have a total of 5 possible commutes in any given week that can be done on foot (given that I work from home on Fridays, have to bring the laptop and clothes on Mondays, and have to bring home the laptop and dirty clothes on Thurs nights). Thus far, taking out holidays and jury duty days when I didn't go to the office at all, there have been 116 total possible commutes on foot. I have done 94 of them on foot. Not bad. And a vast majority of the ones I've skipped have been because I had an evening commitment that I felt was really important -- volunteering, an alumni event, or a work dinner. I've been lazy (or not wanted to run in bad weather) a few times and asked my husband to pick me up on his way home. In the last two weeks, I've also asked him to pick me up on his way home once each week so that my mileage wouldn't get too high.  I'd be thrilled to average about 66% of my possible commutes on foot for the year, but we'll see how it goes. Even 20% is better than nothing in my book, and this will greatly depend on how marathon training goes.  If commuting wears out my legs too much, I'll drop it, but I'm very happy to have done it for more than half the year already. 

So that's it!  A good reminder that the next few weekends should be spent studying Italian, figuring out and finishing up the stairwell, finally finishing the wedding scrapbook, and planning out our next dinner party! 

Monday, July 22, 2013

FMM: Let’s Talk About TV

Not much to say about my weekend.  We went out for hubby's best friend's birthday party Friday night.  They live in a suburb really far north and most all their friends have kids, so for them, a night out is a really big deal -- and they all get tanked.  It was hilarious.  I stuck with water all night (figured it was hubby's friend, so he should get to drink, and since we had a long drive home, I figured I was better drinking zero than one).  Hubby's best friend's wife's brother and his wife were visiting from Canada.  I never knew hubby's best friend's wife could sing -- she took over the microphone (thankfully, after the wine bar, we headed to someplace with food, and since we were ordering dinner around 11 p.m., there weren't many other people).  She was really good!  She and her brother sang a bunch of songs together and they were having so much fun.  It made me miss my brothers.  Fortunately just a few more weeks and one of them is coming to visit! 

Saturday was quiet -- hubby was hung over all day.  We watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunset, movies I've loved for a long time but he's never seen.  Fortunately, he really liked them both.  I think part of it was being hungover, he was in a very quiet mood, so "talky" movies were fine.  Now we just have to find time to see the third movie, Before Midnight, in the theaters, hopefully on Friday. 

Sunday was my first "long" run of marathon training.  16 miles, and overall, pretty smooth sailing.  Yoga, cooking, cleaning, laundry, napping, a good rest of the day! 

friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Let’s Talk About TV
1. Share your current “Must-See” TV shows.  The Bachelorette.  That's it for right now, others will start up in a few weeks I guess (Southland, The Americans, Law & Order SVU, Dallas, Grimm).  I know the Bachelorette is awful.  I make an audible noise everytime someone says "I" when they mean "me."  And that's just the beginning, but it's like a train wreck and I can't look away! 

2. Do you prefer reality shows or sitcoms?  Tough call.  I generally prefer dramas to both, but if I had to choose between reality shows or sitcoms, I'd choose sitcoms except The Bachelor and The Bachelorette -- those are the only reality shows I like, but I like them way more than anything else right now. 

3. Who is your favorite talk show host?   Don't really have one.  If I had to choose, I'd go with Fareed Zakaria.  Hubby likes him and he's starting to grow on me.  He has a show on CNN on Sunday mornings. 

4. Which network(s) do you turn to for news?   RAI (the Italian news network) first, then Euronews, then BBC.  I pretty much hate American news networks, but I watch the Today show most mornings, which contains about 5-10 minutes of news most days.  But I never watch CNN, Fox, MSN, etc. if I can avoid it. 

5. Do you have Tivo or DVR? If so, which programs do you have set to record?  We have a DVR and we record everything listed in my answer to question 1, plus Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, I didn't know I was pregnant, Fareed Zakaria GPS, and The Layover with Anthony Bourdain.  We also record select episodes of House Hunters International if they're in Italy or someplace else that appeals to us. 

6. Have you ever started watching a show simply because you heard so much about it on social media? If so, which one did you watch?  No, especially since I'm avoiding social media this year, but I'm considering Downton Abbey.  So many friends posted about liking it.  I just don't feel like I have time to watch something new now. 

7. List any TV series that you own on DVD.  None (but now that I think about it, maybe a couple seasons of Friends?). 

8. Do you have a subscription to Netflix, Hulu, etc? If so, what kind of device do you use to stream it?  We have Netflix and we watch it through our DVD player. 

9. If you could star in a TV show that already exists, which one would you choose? I would have loved to be on Rock the Reception (I think that still exists?).  It was one of those shows where couples and their friends practiced a crazy first wedding dance.  It usually looked like they had so much fun!  We took dance lessons but had a traditional first dance.  It was great, but something crazy would have been fun too. 

10. If you could bring back one TV show that is no longer on the air, which one would you choose? I really liked The Office, but it kind of ran its course.  I guess I'd say Seinfeld.  I loved that show, and my fondness for it has grown since it's been off the air.  So many episodes had continuing relevance. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions! Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments, and don’t forget to take a little time to welcome some of our new FMM friends! Happy Monday!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Carina Cooks, 2013 Edition v3

In 2013, I resolved to cook 52 recipes from scratch, and I'm trying to keep track of most of them. I posted my first batch of recipes here, and my second batch here.  So as of mid-May when I am starting this post (version 3), I've done a total of 20 recipes, more or less on track for my goal of 52 for the year.

As before, if any recipe in particular sounds good, let me know and I'll either post it or scan and email it to you (though I can't promise it will be prompt). 

I count some recipes as "bonuses" or #A since my resolution was to cook dinners, but I wanted to keep track also of side dishes and desserts after the fact. 

21.  5-12-13: Curried sweet potato couscous from 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes. Very good. Couscous took longer to cook than expected, and I should have diced the sweet potatoes before cooking them (rather than cooking, then dicing, which left the dices kind of sloppy and mushy). Sweet potatoes, kale and couscous are the main ingredients, served over garbanzo beans.

22.  5-17-13:  Orzo with roasted eggplant and cinnamon-cumin dressing from this recipe.  No idea where I got the link to this recipe but oh, this recipe is good.  It's definitely one that has been repeated multiple times and is always a favorite in our house.  Eggplant, orzo, onion, raisins and cilantro with a great dressing.  It's something I could eat again and again, and I think it's fairly healthy. 

23.  5-17-13:  Mexican bean salad from an unknown source, given to me by a friend.  Basically beans, bell peppers, corn, red onion, and cilantro (plus I added jalapeno), with a dressing made of oil, vinegar, lemon and lime juice, etc.  Super simple and very good. 

23A.  BONUS 5-17-13:  Strawberry Brownie Tort from Simply Delicious Desserts.  I actually made a big dinner on 5-17-13 for book club, full menu posted here.  This obviously was the dessert.  It was pretty good, but probably not something I'll repeat. 

23B.  5-17-13:  I also made Smoked gouda and apple stuffed mushrooms from an unknown source.  My best friend gave me a copy of the recipe (it shares a page with a recipe for "roasted olives").  Very good -- mushrooms, butter, onion, garlic, gouda, breadcrumbs (I used panko), apple, salt and pepper.  This was our book club appetizer.  Probably something I'd make again.  Stuffed mushrooms are one of my favorite appetizers in general. 

24.  5-25-13:  Roasted root vegetables over creamy polenta, from Pampered Chef's The Vegetarian Table.  No idea why we ate this in May, but hubby picked the recipe.  I tried to tell him those are winter vegetables, but he wasn't hearing it.  So we had roasted carrots, onions, parsnips and turnip over creamy polenta.  In late May in Dallas.  Somehow the vegetables over-roasted and some were nearly burnt.  Ugh.  It said it serves 6, but I guess we're both eating double portions, because there are maybe 1-2 servings left.  But it was still overall very good and a recipe I'd gladly make again.  In the winter. 

25.  5-27-13:  Lentil salad from a friend (same one who gave me 2013 recipe number 23, listed above).  Lentils, raisins, onions, feta and seasoning.  So simple and amazingly good.  We ate it at the Memorial Day picnic at my bestie's parents' place and we mostly ate it as a dip with some interesting chips that they had.  Definitely something I'd be happy to make again. 

26.  6-7-13:  Broccoli mushroom quiche from this recipe.  This is a repeat recipe that I tend to make most often when I'm doing a yoga challenge.  I'm not doing a yoga streak right now, but it's the perfect dinner for me when I get home late and need to go to bed right away, but I also need to squeeze in dinner in between.  We ended up with extra eggs at home (I put them on the grocery list by mistake) so I thought this would be a good way to use them up, while also making a couple quick dinners.  The night I made it, we had it with monster green salads.  The recipe made enough for one quiche in a pie-sized crust and there was enough leftover for one crustless quiche in a ramekin (that was for hubby).  In reality, enough for three dinners and one lunch (the leftover dinner and lunch were for me). 

27.  6-8-13:  Blueberry risotto from this recipe.  But I used red wine instead of white so that the risotto dish would be more purple than white.  Good, probably something I will make again next year for blueberry festival, but not something that will repeat more than once a year.  My husband was kind of irritated to find out that I'd used the remnants of a good bottle of Primitivo that was in the fridge to make this -- he couldn't drink because he was on pain meds, and I figured this would be better than letting it go bad, but I failed to consider it would have been better used by being served to our guests to drink.  Oops.  Pictured below 27A. 

27A. 6-8-13:  Blueberry compote from this recipe.  Served over tofu for me and two dinner guests, and over chicken for hubby and one dinner guest.  Liked it, recipe made way, way more than it indicated.  If I make this for blueberry festival next year, I would cut the recipe in half.  Pictured here:

27B.  6-8-13:  Avocado mango salad from a recipe I found on my phone but can't seem to find on my computer.  It's basically this recipe, but I thinly sliced the red onion instead of dicing it, and there were blueberries involved as well.  Pretty good but not particularly remarkable.  Pictured here:

27C.  BONUS 6-8-13:  Blueberry icebox pie from this recipe.  Very easy to make.  Pretty good except the crust needs way more butter than the recipe says (the recipe says 4 tsp but I assumed it meant 4 tbsp, but it should have been at least 6 tbsp).  The crust was essentially a bunch of loose graham cracker crumbs.  Pictured here:

Can you tell the dinner on 6-8-13 (recipes 27, 27A, 27B, and 27C) was for our "Uptown Blueberry Festival 2013"?  So good and fun to try to use blueberries as an ingredient in every course. 

28. BONUS 6-14-13: A chocolate cookie birthday cake (from Simply Delicious Desserts) for hubby's best friend's wife's 44th birthday.  This was good but probably not something that I would make again.  I'm not a huge chocolate cake person, but she is.  Pictured here:

28.  6-16-13:  Eggplant curry from Bon Appetit magazine's Nov. 2008 edition, which was passed my way by my mom.  Another recipe that is a frequent repeat.  It's not easy to make -- and I don't think it's very healthy.  The eggplant slices have to be fried, and every single time I make this recipe, I end up setting off the smoke detector in the house, usually multiple times.  I am not very good at frying foods....  But oh, the taste is worth it.  And the leftovers were fabulous too.  Pictured below 28A. 

28A.  BONUS 6-16-13:  Brown rice black bean patties from an unknown source (appears to be a photocopy from a magazine or cookbook I pulled at some point).  These were pretty good.  I keep all my recipes that are photocopies or printouts in a binder, and I had this in the section for veggie burgers, but I don't think it would work well as a burger (which is probably why they're not called veggie burgers).  I wouldn't mind making this again, but I also wouldn't be particularly enthusiastic about it.  The leftovers weren't as good as the original patties.  Pictured here:

29. 6-30-13:  Mediterranean Curried Stew from 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes.  Hubby's choice (he always tends to pick curried vegetable stew things, particularly with raisins).  Very good.  Eggplant, bell pepper (I omitted celery and doubled the bell pepper), garlic, diced tomatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, garbanzo beans.  It was supposed to be served over turmeric rice (a separate recipe), but we went with a microwave bag of brown rice.  It made enough for 2 meals for each of us, and it's something I'd make again.  Pictured here:

30.  7-7-13:  Warm Mediterranean lentil salad, from Easy Vegetarian.  Pretty easy and very good.  A lot of onion, but followed recipe and good.  I picked around the tomatoes.  Hubby's choice.  This is actually the recipe on the cover of the cookbook if you click on that link, but mine didn't look that pretty.  I think it was probably very healthy, but the leftovers were not as good as the original. 

So with just over six months of the year done, I'm 60% of the way complete on this resolution -- so nice to be on track!  If only all of them were going so well.  I should do a mid-year resolution check-in soon...


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Running Topless

I have never been one to run without a top, wearing only my sports bra.  I don't have the body for it and I'm far too self-conscious.

Until this week, I had done it exactly twice in my life. 

Once was a horrible morning in April or so a couple years ago.  For some reason, I hadn't checked the weather and I'd worn long sleeves based on the prior morning's weather.  Within a mile, I knew it was a mistake. 

So I shed my top at mile 2 and picked it up on the way back.  The entire time I was running, I tried my best to forget about it.  Unfortunately, I was running with a woman who I like a lot, but that day, she kept asking me about my sports bra.  I wanted to scream, please, stop, I'm trying not to call attention to myself, and I'm trying to pretend this is just like any other run.

The other time was a prediction run in June.  For a prediction run, someone keeps track of a piece of paper and before you start running, knowing the distance and roughly the course, you guess how long it will take you to finish, and then you have to run watch-less.  I was running with a guy in his 70s and it was much warmer than I'd expected and my shirt was stifling me.  It was a loop course, so no one really saw me, and that made it fairly comfortable.

Well, this week Tuesday, I had the disastrous attempt a progressive tempo run that I mentioned.  It was on an out and back course, and I ran in my usual gear (shorts, sports bra, heart rate monitor, sleeveless top), but just before I got in the car to go home, I took off my shirt to wring it out.  At least a cup of water came out of it, possibly more. 

This morning's schedule was hill repeats.  We ran just under 2 miles to warm up, and then we set down water bottles at the bottom of the hill we'd be running.  Unfortunately, it was 75 degrees and 83% humidity when we started at 5:15 in the morning.  Not typical for Dallas in mid-July -- usually we're sitting close to 80, but humidity is much lower. 

I run with a large training group here, but it's broken out by pace group, and within my group is a core group of my running buddies with whom I've been running for many years, through this program and separately from this program.  This morning, our group had decided that we were not running the same hill as the rest of the training group (the reasoning was that we wanted something a little longer in distance that we would not crest within 2 minutes).  So it was just the 10 or so of us on the hill we chose.  6 guys, but they're all like brothers, and I figured this was a tough workout on a pretty dark road, no one would really notice whether or not I was wearing my tank.  Of the other 3 women, 2 of them did the same thing -- left our shirts at the bottom of the hill and then ran our hill repeats. 

For the hill repeats, you run up the hill once at a hard pace for exactly 2 minutes, and you mentally mark where you stopped (for me today, it was between a pear tree and a light post).  Then 6 more times, you run to that exact same spot.  The hill we do is about 80 feet of climbing in a quarter-mile.  The hill repeats feel like death, but I know they work.  And as expected, I felt self-conscious, but within a minute, I realized no one could really see me and no one gave a $hit, so all was well. 


That's my Garmin screen shot (and the pink in bottom right is my heart rate).  Anyway, my theory on running topless has always been that I would do it if I ever had the abs to make me worthy of doing that.  But obviously that's not happening.  So maybe if I do the reverse it will work -- go shirtless sometimes and feel so self-conscious that I do what it takes to get the ab to make the sight less painful for everyone else? 

Oh well, I guess the bottom line is that the longer I run, the more I realize that I'm the only one worrying about me.  Everyone else is worrying about themselves and their own runs.  I doubt my topless trend will continue, especially as the weather is supposed to break later this week (well, it's supposed to get hotter, into the 100s, but the humidity should go down correspondingly).  But I felt the need to record this on the blog in case I ever think about it again. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Work Stress

Isn't it unfortunate when multiple intense times in your life coincide? 

Right now, I'm getting deep into marathon training.  My mileage is climbing and long runs are officially getting long.  And I feel it all over.  I'm exhausted with dark circles under my eyes, and I'm frequently fairly sore -- this week, it has been primarily the outside of my butt and upper hips from 120 curtsey lunges, yes, 120, at boot camp on Monday. 

The obvious solution?  More sleep!

But that's not an option.  I am certainly able to drop things from my calendar and go to bed early, early, early, but I can't make myself sleep.

I rarely have trouble falling asleep, and that's not the issue right now.  The issue right now is dreams.  Specifically, dreams about work that wake me up and stress me out in the middle of the night. 

I have a total of six very intense weeks per year at my job.  2 external audits per year, and 4 quarterly conference calls.  Well, this week is one of those 4 quarterly calls.  And less than a month ago was an external audit.  Things will cool down hopefully after this week (we also hired a new attorney for our group, so many of the extra cases I picked up in April when we lost 2 attorneys have now been taken off my case load).  We shouldn't have our next call until mid-October, and our next audit won't be until November. 

But that is no comfort now.  I'm trying all kinds of things to get around this.  The only thing that seems to help is to keep paper and pen by my bed, so I can write down whatever particularly stressful and important thing has woken me up and been added to my "to do" list for the next day.  But even that's not enough.  I'm laying awake thinking about work, and then just as I doze back off, it's 4:40 and the alarm is going off to work out again. 

Monday night of this week, it was a voicemail message that I knew I needed to return and I was dreading.  I did it yesterday, but I had to watch some fairly disturbing video footage yesterday for another case, and unfortunately, as I knew it would take a few hours, I didn't have time to start it in the morning or during the day.  Instead, since I'm pulling very long hours at work this week, I started watching around 5.  Which meant I wasn't done until 8:00 or so.  I had hubby pick me up, we grabbed Chipotle on the way home (oh yeah, with all these miles, I am hungry enough to eat a house right now, seriously, I was telling my husband that I felt like I might be part meerkat and start munching on the drywall in my office), I scarfed it down and went straight to bed.  And sure enough, 1:10 a.m., I'm having images straight from this video.  I get back to sleep and then wake up less than 2 hours later thinking about emails I need to send and things I need to do based on that video. 

Aye, aye, aye!  Just a few more days, just a few more days.  Then the work stress will hopefully abate and I'll be able to get the sleep I need to support the miles I'm running.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Weather Record

Yesterday, temps in Dallas broke a record -- it was a record low high if that makes sense.  Before, our lowest high for July 15 had been 79, yesterday's high was 74.  And of course it was a no run day.  Argh!

But the good news is that this week has highs in the mid-90s for the rest of the week, so at least my commutes in the evening won't be too miserable. 

This is just so nice that I wanted to document it, given that it seems like not that long ago that I was complaining about the opposite of a low high, we were suffering from record high lows (as in it just wasn't cooling off at night at all).  It's funny to look back at my posts from last year in early August -- it was in the mid-80s at 5:15 a.m. almost all the time, and I was dealing with it.  This year, it's in the mid-70s and I'm struggling. 

Today we had 2 easy, 6 progressive tempo miles, then 1 easy.  I crashed and burned hard on the tempo.  I was close to on pace for the first 4, but the last two were just a mess.  Oh well, I keep trying to tell myself that this is the point of training, particularly this year.  This year the goal is to push myself and to push hard.  Only two and a half more months!! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

FMM: Foodie Questions

I had a fairly quiet but good weekend.

I took Saturday off from working out, so that was nice. Unbelievably, I actually started my Christmas shopping.  Got done with my local bestie and got something for hubby that he'll really like.

Sunday I only had 9 miles on the schedule, but it included 5 miles at marathon pace.  I was within 15 seconds per mile of goal pace for all 5 of them.  The first was 13 secs fast, then 10 secs fast, then 2 secs slow, then 13 secs slow (I walked and drank for a few seconds after the water stop in this mile; overall, the running paces looked like they were right on), then 4 secs fast.  Overall, I was thrilled.  After the 9 mile group run, I had a friend drop me off at a race.   I was planning to run a 5k with my coworker from accounting who is just getting started running. 

"Too Hot to Handle," was the name of the race, it's a race I've done for years but this year was joyously overcast and cooler.  I had three friends finish right around an hour which wouldn't have happened without the cooler and overcast weather, so I can't say I just imagined the cool weather since I was running the 5k instead of the 15k.

So I only ran the 5k and I ran it with my accounting buddy.  She had a great race, particularly since there was a huge hill in the 5k.  She ended up with a PR by more than 4 minutes and actually ended up under 40 minutes, which was so exciting!   I am very proud of her.  On a flatter course with cooler temps, she could have shaved a few more minutes easily.  She felt pretty shaky and nauseaous at the end, but we hung out for a while and she felt better. 

The rest of the weekend was cooking and errands.  And actually working on a project around the house -- framing and hanging photos in our stairwell. 

This is going to be a big week at work.  Our quarterly conference call at work is Thursday, so we have two pre-calls set for Wednesday and early on Thursday, and of course I'll be meeting with my boss most of the day today and tomorrow to be ready for the call. 

friend makin mondays

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Foodie Questions
1. Do you make grocery lists?  Always, particularly since I'm usually the one who picks recipes and decides what we need, but since hubby does the grocery shopping.  We use an app called AnyList and it works really well.  Early on in our relationship, missed items that I'd had on the grocery list caused a lot of stress in our relationship -- imagine my distress being 2 hours until guests arrived and realizing I was missing a key ingredient that I knew full well I'd written down....  Aye, it made me mad!  So we tried structuring the list differently, we tried having him cross off items, etc., but now that we have a shared app, it works very well. 

2. Do you have a routine when shopping in your favorite grocery store? No.  I almost never shop, so when I do, it's usually one random thing I forgot to put on the list (and if it's a failure to put it on the list, it becomes my job to go get it), so I just wander around until I find that.  Sometimes I call my husband and say something like, "I'm at the Kroger on Mockingbird, where would I find panko?" and he'll tell me what else is in the aisle and then I can find it from the signs. 

3. What is your favorite seasoning?  Probably curry powder, something that ends up in a lot of the recipes I choose (and same with the ones hubby chooses). 

4. What is the healthiest food in your fridge right now? Almost everything in it is healthy.  Veggies, tofu, soy milk, water, fruit. 
5. What is the most unhealthy food in your fridge now?  We always have beer and soda in a drawer at the bottom for guests. 

6. What is the most exotic produce you’ve ever had? Ever?  Durian.  No good way to describe it.  There are signs saying you can't eat it on buses or in public places because it smells bad.  A lot like feet I think.  And the texture is kind of strange, very mushy, a little like a pudding.  But oooh, it's tasty!  No idea if they even sell it in the US.  According to Wiki, it's considered the king of fruits in Southeast Asia.  Anthony Bourdain from the Food Network says that after eating durian, "your breath will smell as if you'd been French-kissing your dead grandmother."  Yep.  But I will definitely eat it again if the opportunity presents itself. 

7. Tell us about your favorite local restaurant.  I probably have two favorites, both within about a minute walk of my house.  First is Abacus, which is a five-star restaurant and just as good as that implies.  The food is described as "contemporary global cuisine with Pacific Rim influences."  I used to go to the bar there all the time when I was single, and even though it's been years since I was there more than once in a month, when I walk in, there are always a few bartenders who know me, and one of them always starts my drink of choice and brings it before I even have a chance to order.  The night hubby moved in with me, we had drinks here and talked for hours.  Second favorite local restaurant is probably Cafe Madrid, which is more casual and serves tapas.  I love tapas because I get to try a bunch of different things.  My absolute favorite thing on the menu is goat cheese stuffed red peppers with capers.  In reality, Dallas has a lot of great restaurants, it's hard to even limit it to those two. 

8. What kind of pasta do you prefer (regular, whole wheat, etc.?)  Umm, any kind of pasta!  When we eat it at home, we usually choose whole wheat.  But we don't eat pasta as often as we used to.  Right now, I'd say we eat it maybe once a month, particularly if you count when I make mac and cheese for lunch.  But when marathon training steps up, we will have pasta with simple and non-spicy red sauce for dinner every Saturday night.  It's pretty easy on my stomach and the carbs keep my energy store at the right level for a long run on Sunday morning.  Our neighbors often come over to join us for those six weeks of pasta dinners. 

9. If you could make one food calorie-free for an entire week, which food would you choose?   Probably cheese. 

10. If you had to choose would you rather give up french fries or chocolate?  Hmm, I don't eat either very often but I guess I'd say chocolate.  I like chocolate but I can easily choose something else (like Starburst), but I definitely love fries.  

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions. And don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments.  Happy Monday!

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Hill Loop Heart Rate

As I mentioned, instead of going to boot camp on Fridays, I'm now doing a 10k hill loop with my friends on Friday mornings.  I still call it a hill loop even though it is really a mountain loop.  Well, it's definitely mountains for someone who lives in Dallas. 

Anyway, I was looking at my Garmin data from the hill loop this morning, and it was really funny to see how my heart rate almost exactly tracks the elevation profile:

Guess it's good to see that it really is as hard as I think it is!  My brother who lives in San Fran right now could probably run this course with me and his heart rate might just stay level since our mountains are probably more like speed bumps for him.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Not as much fun

You know how sometimes you imagine doing something and you think how much fun it would be? 

And then you know how sometimes you actually do that thing and it is NOT that much fun?

Yesterday morning on my commute, it was hot.  According to the weather on my Garmin data, it was 84 degrees, "feels like" 90 degrees, 7 mph SSW wind, humdity 66%.  Ugh.

It's only been the last few mornings where it's been in the 80s even at 5-something in the morning.  I'm not really used to it yet.  When I set out on my commute, I was still wet from getting soaked with sweat at boot camp about an hour earlier. 

I think I've mentioned before that there has been construction on my commute for about the last six months?  Not sure how long.  I really should keep track of when it starts, where it moves, etc.

Anyway, given the current construction status, when I get to about mile 2.3, the road is closed (to vehicles) but I am able to run on it anyway.  Sometimes one side of the street is completely torn up, or in the process of being repaved, and sometimes the other side is.  When the construction first started, they did the 3 blocks directly south of the last "big" intersection of my commute.  When that was done, they moved a few blocks further south.

This is roughly what it looks like as of a couple months ago:

So yesterday morning it was fully paved on both sides, but they are putting in rebar or something at the cross streets and sidewalk areas. 
There was a truck out there in the construction zone connected to a fire hydrant and it was spraying down the concrete for some reason. 
I can't find a good picture of what it looked like on the web, but this is similar:
But it didn't have such a big tank, and it was connected to the fire hydrant, so the water stream was much more forceful.  It was spraying to the side and directly behind the truck.
Did I mention it was hot? 
For about a quarter mile, I could see the water spraying truck ahead of me as I approached.  I've run through lots of sprinklers before on runs, and sometimes it feels so refreshing.  I've also run through misting stations in races and enjoyed that.
I will note that I actually try to avoid misting stations and sprinklers in any kind of marathon or very long run.  It was a painful lesson to learn, but when you get sprayed with water, it eventually runs down your legs to your feet, and when your socks and shoes get wet, your feet move more in your shoes and that usually results in blisters.  Horrible, horrible blisters.  So I actually try to avoid having any more water run into my shoes besides the sweat that rolls down my bod on those lovely summer long runs. 
But my commute is only about 3.75 miles.  And I was more than halfway done.  So no particular reason to avoid the truck's water spray.  And given the weather, all the more reason to purposely enjoy the truck's water spray.  And given that it was in the middle of the road, spraying to the side and back, and the sidewalks were torn up, it would have been very inconvenient to attempt to bypass the water.  And since I think the construction crew could forbid me to run through the zone in the future, I try to be very speedy and out of the way when I run through the construction zone.  I decided to go for it, running in a straight line that would pass directly through the side water spray, which looked stronger than the spray behind the truck (which looked more like the spray in the photo above). 
What a mistake! 
I ran through it, attempting to have it hit roughly on my thighs so that I wouldn't get my phone belt (with my new metronome!) wet. 
I misjudged a bit, but my mistake mostly was not realizing how forceful the stream of water was.  It hit my leg so hard and so high that my shorts got completely soaked, it actually hurt, I almost tripped, and my shoes got muddy and wet. 
Definitely not as fun as I expected it would be.  Live and learn I guess.  I have new sympathy for the people in those photos where the police turn fire hoses on them -- that $hit hurts!!!  Can't even imagine if it was pointed at me with an intent to cause injury and it lasted more than a second.  Owww.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Growing Pains

One thing I remember very well from the house we lived in from sixth grade until eleventh grade was in the early part of that time, when I was younger, laying in my bed in that house, and having horrible aches and pains in my legs.  Sometimes it was so uncomfortable that I'd actually get up and go downstairs and complain to my folks.  My mom always said it was just growing pains.  When she was feeling particularly nice, she'd sometimes make me warm milk to help me go back to sleep.  But I still remember how that ache felt. 

I swear, I haven't had those pains since then, so more than 20 years ago. 

I am definitely having them again.  It is the exact same thing I think.  Just achiness (is that a word) in my legs when I'm trying to sleep.  No issues when I'm up and about, but growing pains when I'm in bed. 

Is it possible that my muscles are really growing in the same way they do when you're 13 and in a growth spurt?

Dude, I would totally love it if I grew about 3 more inches.  ESPECIALLY if I didn't gain any weight! 

Somehow I think that's unlikely, but I wonder if this crazy training year is really resulting in muscle development that is so substantial right now that it's causing growing pains.  Is that possible??? 

I'm definitely working very hard right now.  I've got a couple quality workouts per week, plus some easy long runs once a week and my easy commuting miles. 

I'm doing my long runs about 45 seconds per mile slower than marathon pace and while I had a few weeks where I struggled, the last few long runs have been solid (it must be noted:  though with the marathon still 2.5 months away, my "long" run right now is only about 15 miles, the true test comes when I'm regularly over 16 miles).  And I'm getting better and stronger in my quality workouts too. 

My pacing is still shaky -- I don't have a good sense of marathon pace yet, and so on something like yesterday morning's workout, my paces are all over the map.  Yesterday we were scheduled for some warm-up and cool-down miles, and in the middle, 6 repeats of 800 meters (half mile) at 30 seconds faster than marathon pace (so just a tad slower than yasso pace), with 400 meters (quarter mile) of recovery in between.  So yesterday, attempting to find 30 seconds faster than marathon pace for each half mile repeat, my paces were: 
1.) 7 secs/mile faster than goal marathon mile pace
2.) 27 secs/mile fast,
3.) 4 secs/mile fast,
4.) 8 secs/mile fast,
5.) 6 secs/mile slow,

Some of the missed paces (particularly repeat two) were due to elevation issues (repeat 2 was definitely a long gradual downhill on a lovely wide road with no traffic).  And since I run with a group and there are other pace groups out there on the route, including some who started early given the distance, there's also that rabbit-passing effect that accounts for some increments being too fast.  Anyway, since I u-turned after repeat 3, it made sense that repeat 5 was slow because that was going up that same hill I'd come down in repeat 2.  But the overall paces on those 6 repeats are still far more variable than they should be.  I know that as the race gets closer, the paces will get more locked in, but still...

I'm rambling.  Bottom line is that my running feels pretty solid right now.  Room to improve of course, but 2.5 months to do so.  But the hard work might be honestly making me grow some muscle fibers or something in my legs.  Or I'm imagining it all, but something in my legs is waking me up at night pretty regularly.  So bizarre...

Monday, July 8, 2013

FMM: Easy Answers

I had such an awesome long weekend.  It was the perfect mix of friends, food, fun, fireworks, running and relaxing.  I swear I love my job, but not working is just so much fun!  Anyway, Monday, Monday! 

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

Easy Answers
1. Are you a planner, or do you prefer to see where the moment takes you? I'm usually a planner (for example, I know my plan for each night this week -- today law school happy hour, Tuesday homeowners' association meeting, Wednesday social run, Thursday Italian conversation class, Friday out).  But on vacation, I sometimes like just having a general plan that these are the 5 things I want to see in 3 days and seeing how it breaks down. 

2. How often do you blog? It depends.  Usually roughly Monday through Thursday.  I almost never blog on the weekends, when I try to avoid the computer as much as possible. 

3. Do you color your hair?  Never.  If I had faith in my ability to maintain it, maybe I would, but I'm terrible about setting (and keeping) hair appointments, so better to stick with the natural color.  It's a light plain brown, getting more blonde and/or grey as I get older. 

4. If you had to choose between running or riding a bike, which one would you choose? Running!  It's so much easier to burn calories while running.  I think I might start doing more serious biking in a couple years, but the thought of falling scares me. 

5. Have you ever traveled outside of your home country?  Yes, but not since we were in China in October.  Can't wait until we fly to Europe in September!  We definitely try to leave the country about once a year.  The world is such an interesting place and we love totally different cultures and unfamiliar places. 

6. Do you like weddings?  Love them!  Although "dry" weddings or receptions that are just cake and champagne aren't much fun.  I love tearing up at the ceremony, oohing over the bride's dress, and then I LOVE dancing and laughing the night away at a great reception.  It doesn't hurt that I consider my own wedding day to have been the best in my life, but I really love most weddings. 

7. What is your favorite guilty pleasure on TV? I love watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.  So bad.  I cringe at the grammar, but I can't look away.  I love the travel aspect, and it's just such fun to watch. 

8. Are you good at math? I'm probably above average but nothing special.  I am pretty good at things I use when running, calculating fractions, percentages, averages, splits, etc.  But like almost everyone else, I certainly suffer from "marathon math."  Pretty much anyone you talk to around mile 22 is very confused about exactly how much further remains, what percent of the race is done, how much longer it will take, what the time of day will be at your anticipated finish, etc. 

9. What is the last movie you watched?  The last movie we saw in theaters was World War Z.  Can't really remember the last full movie I watched on TV -- started 13 Going on 30, but last movie start to finish on TV was probably something on Lifetime. 

10. Share five adjectives that your friends would use to describe you.  Funny, reliable, friendly, planner, opinionated. 

Bonus: Did you celebrate Independence Day? If so, what did you do? Yes, fireworks!!!  Friends, food, fun, etc. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions. Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments, and say hi to someone new this week. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dinner Strategy

So today I'm bound for Philly again, but only for about 24 hours -- then I'm going to take a train to DC for a 4 day weekend.  I haven't spent the Fourth in DC in more than a decade and I always used to love it.  I absolutely can't wait for this trip since I'm going to see two of my best girlfriends, as well as a bunch of other friends I think. 

One of my best friends is having a very tough time right now -- she is a high-level exec at a government agency that has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately, and she feels like her job is on the chopping block not because she had anything to do with the incident, but for the sake of being able to say that they cleaned house.  It's tough for her since she's worked very hard to get to where she is and she's great at her job -- and she enjoys it!  Not many people would really embrace working for one of the most hated parts of government, but she's brought skills and personality to the table and basically got into her dream job.  So spending a few relaxing days with her will hopefully help her de-stress a bit.  She's also super into yoga and running so from a fitness perspective, this trip will be good for me and won't even cause a blip in my training.  We're also going to road trip to Charlottesville for an overnight stay to see my best friend, which is always, always good. 

Anyway, the whole thing I was planning to write about, last night, to complete the ten days of work chaos with an audit and two trips to Philly, I had dinner with clients. I go to these client dinners with my boss and sometimes a colleague. And since my boss outweighs me by at least 100 pounds, he drinks me under the table at every single one.  Fortunately these dinners don't happen very often, a few times a year at most. But we eat and drink so much that usually I feel like I double can't walk when I leave -- tipsy and way too full. I usually end up having to ditch my car at the restaurant and have my sweet husband come pick me up. We're both very paranoid about driving with alcohol and particularly since he had a heads-up that it was going to be one of "those" dinners, he didn't mind.

So last night, we went to a place called Ocean Prime.

My choices:

Pre-dinner cocktail:  Pear Grapefruit Fizz (well, if you want to be technical, pre-dinner cocktailS)

Appetizer: Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli, Golden Oak Mushrooms
For the record, what I wanted as an appetizer, but I was worried there would be meat and I didn't think it was very professional anyway: Aged Wisconsin Cheddar Fondue for the Table
You just know anything with the word "Wisconsin" in it has to be good! ;)

Salad: Ocean Prime House Salad, Romaine, Spinach, Granny Smith Apples, Goat Cheese, Walnuts, Sherry Mustard Vinaigrette (ordered w/o the nuts and with oil and vinegar instead of the vinaigrette)


Sautéed Button Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions
Jumbo Asparagus with Hollandaise
Black Truffle Macaroni and Cheese
Steamed Broccoli
Jalapeño Au Gratin, Sliced Potatoes, Aged Swiss
I just ordered 5 side dishes that sounded good to me and to others and I shared them to create my own veggie plate.
Dessert: White Chocolate Key Lime Tart with Whipped Cream and Vanilla Anglaise
What I really wanted (but couldn't eat because it had nuts): Ten Layer Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing and Pineapple Syrup

It was all really good, but what was strange was that for the first time ever at one of these dinners, I was not completely stuffed when I left.  Definitely tipsy, but not feeling like I might hurl if I bumped into something.  It was a mystery until I got home and I realized my involuntary strategy for not eating too much had worked like a charm.  I'd worn a skirt that was already fairly tight, so I think I ate less since there just wasn't any room to expand! And fyi, while I've held off over 30 years on getting a tattoo, I think the imprint from that skirt's zipper is going to be permanent! 

My not-getting-stuff was a necessary strategy since my diet isn't going to be pretty for the remainder of this week in Philly and DC (and maybe Charlottesville).  Guess I'll have to pile on some more miles of running.... haha, I can't complain about that!! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

FMM: The Internet

Not much to report from the weekend -- I got sucked into a puzzle.  750 pieces featuring the Ponte di Rialto in Venezia.  Some running, some yoga, some cooking, some errands, fairly average weekend overall. 

If you’ve taken part in FMM then you know the rules. If you’re new, please take a moment to answer this week’s question on your own blog then add your link in the comments section here at: so we can all see your FMM questions and answers. Please invite your blog readers to add their links here too so everyone has to opportunity to be seen. The idea is to connect with other awesome bloggers so take a moment to post your own FMM post and comment on a couple of other posts. Now it’s time for this week’s topic!

The Internet
1. Have you ever met anyone online before meeting them in person?  I suppose I have in terms of work.  There are people I work with all over the country that I've never met in person but I do on occasion when we have a mediation or something together.  One attorney I really like is in New Mexico and I've retained him for years, and never met him, but think I will in September.  It's always weird to put a face with a name (and email signature and sometimes a voice).  I sometimes joke with one of my colleagues in Jersey about what I think someone will look like who he knows and I'm about to meet.  I am sometimes SO wrong!!  But outside of the work context (which is probably what this question meant), no, I don't think I ever have. 

2. What is your opinion on social media’s impact on our society? Does it make life better or worse?  Tough question!  I think it's had a huge impact, both positive and negative.  Overall, I think it makes life better, which is an odd answer for me since I've basically gone off Facebook this year (and I was never into any of the other stuff).  I think it makes people less isolated in ways and it keeps you in touch with people more easily, particularly for someone like me who doesn't live in the same state as family and has friends from undergrad and law school all over the country.  But obviously, since I'm off it, I think there are plenty of negative aspects. 

3. Do you believe that it’s possible to fall in love with someone that you’ve never met in person?  No.  Strong connection, but I think there's more to falling in love that can't be done over the phone or a computer.  Physical attraction, chemistry, PDAs, etc., all that is part of love too.  But I actually think it's cool that people meet online and can figure out if they line up in non-physical ways first, which prevents the "you're hot and I want you" from taking over. 

4. Do you prefer to shop in stores or online?  Ugh.  Neither really.  Online for everything other than clothes or furniture or mattresses or groceries. 

5. What blogging platform do you use? (WordPress, Blogger, something else?)  Blogger.

6. Have you ever blogged for another site? Would you?  No.  I was supposed to do a guest post for a local running/beer drinking group, but I didn't get around to it. 

7. Do you use services like Netflix and Hulu? We have had Netflix for years and right now my husband is watching Fringe on it, so he's hooked, but in general we don't use it too often.  I don't really know what Hulu is (I'm getting so old!).  We DVR most stuff on tv that we want to watch. 

8. Would you prefer to get blog comments or to interact on twitter? Umm, blog comments since I'm not a Twitter person.

9. Do you prefer to read books or e-books?  Books, particularly since you can't have electronic devices on the plane during the -3/+8 window.  That's usually when I do most of my reading!  On planes, I tend to use my laptop and do work when we can have electronic devices on.  Plus, when I read at home, I like falling asleep with my book.  

10. Share at least one experience that you would not have had without being a blog author.  I feel like I've gotten a lot of feedback and suggestions related to running and life that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. 

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions. Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments, and say hi to someone new this week. Happy Monday