Friday, May 31, 2013

Skin Fury

I have been insanely lucky to be born with relatively clear skin.  I remember having some pimples and stuff in high school, and I have some freckles/sun spots, and I'm starting to get some wrinkles, but I generally don't deserve the skin I have, particularly on my face.  I'm horrible about washing my face before I go to bed.  I sometimes will swear to myself that I'll do better and I'll be good for a few days, but then there will be a night that I just feel too tired and the routine is broken.  But since my skin generally doesn't reflect the lack of care, there's not a huge incentive to do better (I also wear minimal make-up, usually just eyeliner and lipstick, nothing on my cheeks or anything).  And as for the rest of my body, I have plenty of freckles from being out in the sun too much, but generally I end up with a bit of color in the summer and am pretty good about wearing sunscreen. 

But right now, my skin, all of my skin, is hating me for no apparent reason. 

My face seems to be breaking out, or at least my forehead and near my nose. 

And almost 50% of my runs involve some horrible chafing hot spot. 

The face I think could be due to the fact that I have been eating like $hit for almost a week now.  My little Memorial Day short weekend trip was full of some very healthy foods and also some unhealthy ones.  I practically never eat chips but I ate a ton on Memorial Day, and then finished off the bag in the days that followed.  And I've been eating cookies like crazy since about Sunday -- my bestie's mom makes these awesome snickerdoodles and she sent me home with some leftovers, plus there have been cookies at the office. 

In terms of the junk food, I don't feel like I've directly paid any price in terms of my body.  My weight hasn't changed and everything still seems to fit normally.  And I'm still having pretty typical for me meals, at least since Tuesday.  And the chips are finally gone and there are only about 6 cookies left that I'm looking forward to enjoying in the next few days (or this afternoon!).  And then I expect I'll be back to eating like normal. 

But the chafing on the runs is killing me.  It's like become some grand mystery.  There are a few rules that I follow regarding chafing:

1. I always wear body glide on my problem spots on long runs, usually anything over about 15.
2. I do not wear the few items of clothing that seem to cause problems on long runs.
3.  I wear more body glide if I gain weight, even if it's just a few pounds that seem to stick around for a few days.

Right now, my rules have all gone out the window.

Yesterday morning, for example, I had a group run at 5:15 a.m., consisting of 7 miles, including 4 miles of progressive tempo (starting at marathon pace for the first one, then picking it up about 10 seconds each mile).  I wore pink shorts that rarely cause me to chafe on the middle of my back, right near a seam in the waistband.  Never had any other problems with those shorts.  And my weight is pretty stable, completely on the low end of my usual range right now. 

I ran the entire 7 miles without a single issue. 

I went home, had breakfast, watched the news, then set out for my commute to work (under 4 miles), wearing the same thing.

Within half a mile, I could tell that I was chafing on my inner thighs like crazy.


By the time I got to the office and got into the shower, it seriously hurt, and when the water hit my legs, I wanted to howl. 

I do not understand why shorts that never bother me would give me problems two hours after I ran seven pain-free miles in them.  Did a few added degrees make a difference?  Was it because my shorts weren't completely dry for my commute?  Was it because I run my commute at a slower pace than my group run?  Do the running gods hate me? 

Lately, I feel like almost any part of my body remotely near clothing, is subject to chafing.  Everywhere covered by my shorts.  Everywhere covered by my sports bra.  Everywhere touching my heart rate monitor.  Under my arms where they come in contact with the arm holes of my shirt.  Looking at myself right now, I seem to have chafing marks almost everywhere.  It's crazy.  Good thing I don't have anywhere to wear a plunging neckline in the near future. 

I just don't get it.  The simple solution I guess is to wear glide for every single run, but man, that would be a pain.  I just want things back to normal -- glide on Sundays for long runs, and no chafing on short runs with safe clothes.  Please? 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

My Half Pacer in photos

I got an email with the photos from the race this past weekend.  It was a half, and I had considered the race to be fairly dreadful.

But when I saw the pictures, I had to laugh. 

I have one very good running buddy who has gotten super-fast.  But on occasion, we'll still do races or parts of races together -- he'll either slum it with me at my pace, or double back to run me in after he finishes.  The plan was that he would do the half, finish, get some water, then double back for me on his cool down. 

Well, he's having a flare up of acute Achilles tendinitis, so he was a no show for the race.  That meant I thought I'd be left to my own devices for pacing. 

Here is a shot of what my Garmin pace data looked like for the race (faster is higher in the picture, slower is toward the bottom of the picture):


So you will see that there are a few random spikes due to satellite error or possibly a stop to grab water or something. 

But generally, on the first half of the graph, you can see a fairly level line for my average pace.  My mile splits for miles 1-4 were all within a 10 second spread.  Miles 5-8 were within a 25 second spread or so, but all slower than miles 1-4.  But miles 9-12 were where the wheels were coming off.  All those miles were within a 20 second spread, but the spread was nearly a minute per mile slower than my average pace for miles 1-4.

The crazy thing is, I knew the second half of the course would have some pretty big hills, so I purposely paced pretty slowly for miles 1-4.  I was aiming for right around marathon pace, which I basically did, and isn't exactly speedy for a half marathon. 

But even with a conservative and steady start, by the time I hit the hills about halfway through the race, my pace took a serious turn for the worse. 

You can see that if you drew a horizontal line following my average pace for the first half of the race, the vast majority of the second half is well below that line. 

But you might also see that in the last 5-10 minutes, there is a general increase in pace, the graph trends upward again. 

That is because I was struggling toward the finish, contemplating quitting or walking, but realizing that my goal was just to be done and that would happen more quickly if I just kept running/jogging.

Well, 3 guys were coming out on the course backwards.  One had a big noisemaker crank thing that he was using.  When he stopped, I joked that it had been nice because my breathing sounded like a train and it was drowned out by the noisemaker. 

At that point, I was running near 2 guys, but wasn't really talking to either of them.  The group of 3 backtrackers u-turned near us and were encouraging us to speed up and finish strong. 

I wasn't really able to speed up I didn't think, but the 2 guys were actually slowing down, so I was the lucky person selected from the group of 3 to be paced to the finish.

As they chatted (I mostly grunted responses), I learned that the 3 of them had been the first 3 finishers in the race. 

The leader and winner of the race told me to focus on the woman in front of me (way, way ahead) and run her down.  He grabbed my water bottle for me (his shirt was balled up in his other hand). 

Here's a picture of him where he appears to be looking over at me to check on how I'm doing. 

Because the wind that day was fierce and straight into our faces when we were on the hilly second half, he told me to tuck in behind him and draft. 
During the race, that comment had made me chuckle a little bit, but the pictures actually made me laugh out loud.  The idea that this guy was going to be able to block ANY wind for me is hilarious! 


Do you see the size of his left thigh in the picture above?  I think it might fit into one of my arms.  One of my forearms.  Ahahahaha.  And HE was offering to block the wind for ME!  Maybe his brain was deprived of oxygen or something from running fast enough to win the race.

To humor him, I did eventually attempt to tuck in behind him and take a free ride off some of his excess energy. 

Even if he wasn't big enough to provide any kind of wind block, the fact that he carried my water and that he ran with me and encouraged me was amazing and wonderful -- and as the upward trend at the end of that graph shows, effective!  The last half mile had an average pace just a bit faster than the average from miles 1-4.  And the last .1 was among my fastest sustained paces of the race (certainly my fastest sustained pace on something flat, there were a couple downhills where the wind died down and I probably ran about the same pace).

These pictures are good reminders that a.) runners are awesome people, and b.) fast and skinny runners can be hilarious in their concept of wind-blocking ability.  I told him he deserved at least 50% credit for my age group award.  If I'd been left to my own devices for the last mile or so, I think the pace would have stayed in the gutter, and there's a pretty good chance it would have cost me another several minutes, perhaps making me lose my spot "on the podium" to someone else.  Though we never caught the woman in front of me, we closed the gap significantly and she wasn't in my age group anyway.  And I ended up less than 5 minutes off my half PR -- which is a lot given that it was only a half, but not a lot given the elevation on the course.  My Garmin (not exactly the most accurate, but for what it's worth) showed about 300 feet of elevation gain in the race, and 250 feet of that was in the second half.  So about 1 minute slower for every 50 feet of climbing.  Not as shabby as I was sure it would be during the race itself. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Pros and Cons

Big things on my mind these days:

Current job positives:
Interesting work
Great hours
Some travel but not much
Great boss
Good salary
Run to work 3 days per week
Work from home 1 day per week (could be 2 if I wanted)
Many friends in ofc
Great network of professional relationships built with people I regularly interact with
Can work from other places or other cities/states (if I want to visit friends or family in other cities and there is wifi, I don't need to take vacation to do it; all that matters is that I get my work done and my hours billed)
Great gym in office
Boss knows I want to move to Italy in about 10 years and work remotely (not clear if this will work, will depend a lot on what changes technologically in 10 yrs, what travel is req'd for my job (right now about 8 trips/year), and if someone else could cover that, but at least boss knows that's the goal)
Good benefits (some 401k match (unknown in the law firm world), employee stock purchase plan, pretty good insurance, reasonable amount of paid holidays)
No real office drama (at least none impacting me really)

Current job negatives:
Billing time (tracking what I'm doing EVERY SIX MINUTES...)
Glass walls in office (well, walls between offices, but glass on outside of bldg and toward inside of bld, so people walking down hall can see in my office)
Ofc location may move in 2.5 yrs to location 10 miles away in city where my husband works
Incompetent idiot assistant
Only 2.67 weeks of vacation per year until 2016 (then more)

Theoretical new job positives:
Approx 20% pay increase
Work from home 1 day/wk (more if I want)
Some travel but not much
Great hours
No billing time
One colleague left here to work there and I like her, so at least 1 friend in the ofc
Presumably a standard office with no glass wall

Theoretical new job negatives:
Longer commute (about 10 miles each way, but to the same city where my husband works)
Less interesting work expected
Boss is an unknown
No running commute (unless we moved, then maybe even a short walking commute)
Unknown assistant (and unknown level of support)
Unknown amount of vacation (presumably no less than I have now)
Unknown if there is a gym in bldg

As to the location issue, the theoretical new job is very near where my current job will likely move in about 2.5 years.  If we wanted (and if my husband had his way), we could sell our condo, buy an identical condo by the same builder with same floor plan and everything, and make over $100k on the deal.  But if we did that, we wouldn't be living in our awesome 'hood, near our awesome neighbors and near our awesome running store.  If we moved, I could possibly run to the new job (not sure of shower situation), but I could also possibly just walk -- that would all be true also if my current job moves in 2.5 years. 

So what does it boil down to?
Significant pay raise at theoretical new job (I know the data says that once you have a comfortable salary, making even significantly more doesn't increase happiness, but in this case, what if the hours stayed exactly the same and instead we were able to pay off the condo sooner?  Or is it really mo' money, mo' problems?)
Great boss at current job
Love running to work at current job, but this may end either way in 2.5 years (but by then, maybe I'll be over it, have met my marathon goals, etc.)
More interesting work at current job
No daily recording of time at theoretical new job (time recording seems to be the bane of most attorneys' existences, and I thought I got away from it when I moved out of law firm life, but surprise, some places still expect you to bill time so they can track resources/time; I'm fairly used to it and I don't hate it, but it would be lovely not to have to do it)

Hmmm... thoughts? 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

FMM: Summer Fun

I'm a day late on FMM and was happily avoiding the computer throughout the long weekend. 

We had a low-key Saturday consisting of lots of tv, napping, and organizing.  The highlight was watching The Running Man.  Hubby had been insisting since we saw it that The Hunger Games was a remake of that movie.  I'd never seen it, and now I suppose he has a point. 

On Sunday, after our "long" run (only 8 miles right now), my local bestie, her sister and I went to their parents' house for the rest of the weekend.  They are both going to Germany too to run the Berlin marathon, so my bestie and I spent some time Sunday afternoon playing on our phones with fun German apps.  So incidentally, it was great that I'd spent a couple hours on Saturday watching Arnold -- it helped a lot with my German pronunciation! 

Monday's highlight was a half marathon.  It is a hilly course, and we also had wind (and of course Texas at Memorial Day is hot, but at least it was overcast).  The race was really a beating.  I planned to go out pretty conservatively, around marathon pace, and then hold steady on the second half of the race, which was very hilly. 

Well, that plan didn't work.  I went out a little too fast, but pretty close to the goal.  But I slowed a lot on the second half.  The hills were tough and unfortunately right into the wind.  So even on the downhill, when I was working hard and trying to pick up speed, it was still right into the wind, and my pace was nearly a minute slower than I expected -- and of course I expected slow pace on the uphills, and that was also a minute slower than expected. 

When I had about 3/4 of a mile to go, I got lucky.  Three guys were running backwards on the course and they u-turned right near me and the 2 guys near me.  The 3 of them were encouraging us to run harder, that we were almost done.  I ended up being the only one of the 3 of us still running who tried to humor them.  So I had 3 escorts to the finish line.  As we talked, it turned out they had finished first, second and third!  The lead guy carried my water bottle for me and told me to tuck in behind him so he'd block the wind.  Since he probably weighed less than me and was about 6 inches taller, that was fairly useless, but the sentiment was sweet.  We tried to catch the woman immediately in front of me, but that was too much.  But I was still thrilled to have the company and to be running fairly hard for the finish.  Particularly with my escorts.  I was very surprised to see my finish time -- only almost 5 minutes slower than a PR, and good enough to win my age group.  Crazy!  I guess everyone else out there (at least in my age group) had the same struggles with the heat, the hills and the wind.  It was a nice little bonus.  And it was a good excuse to spend the rest of the day drinking beer, eating too much, and relaxing in my bestie's parents' pool. 

Anyway, here is my belated Friend Making 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!

Summer Fun
1. What is your favorite summer fruit? I like so many summer fruits but if I am forced to choose a favorite, I'd go with cherries I guess (followed by peaches, then strawberries, then watermelon). 

2. Do you know how to swim?  Mmm, not really.  I mean, I can get around in the water, swimming out to a raft or something (and I can even do it with one arm up holding a beer out of the water).  But I don't have good form or anything.  I hate putting my face in the water -- remnants from when my asthma was much worse as a kid and I was almost always wheezing and struggling for air when I tried to do anything strenuous.  But if I'm going to do an Ironman someday, I think I'll have to learn. 

3. Do you prefer sun or snow? Sun, sun, sun (unless it's the week of Christmas, then snow please, can't imagine a non-white Christmas). 

4. What temperature do you like most inside your home? If it were up to me, I'd say 78 or so.  But hubby is more of 76, so we compromise on 77 when we sleep and 78 during the day if we're home. 

5. Is it humid where you live? Not too bad most of the year, but May and the first part of June usually are.  This morning it was in the mid-70s and the humidity was in the upper 70s.  Made for a(nother) tough run...

6. What is your favorite food to put on the grill?  As a vegetarian, I'd go with veggies.  I love veggie skewers on the grill.  I have a recipe I like for grilled tofu, and I love grilled fruit, but my fave would be veggies.  Corn on the cob, mushrooms, zucchini, love it. 

7. Do you prefer to wear a one-piece or two-piece swim suit?  I wore a bikini yesterday but it should be noted that I was just with my friend and her family, not quite sure I'd wear something like that where others could see me, but I didn't care too much around them. 

8. What is your favorite summer drink?  Tough call.  I'm usually in marathon training season over the summer, so water, sadly.  In terms of fun drinks, something with vodka and a fruity taste.  Made a recipe for "dirty Shirleys" off Pinterest a few weeks ago, very good. 

9. Do you prefer the pool or the ocean? I wouldn't complain about either.  If I have to choose, I guess I'd go with ocean.

10. What are you looking forward to most over the summer?  My 20 year high school reunion is at the end of summer.  That will be interesting and there are a few people I can't wait to see.

Now it’s your turn to answer this week’s questions. Don’t forget to come back and link up in the comments! Happy Monday (a day late)!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

State of the legs

Well, I have officially been doing 5 commutes per week on foot for over 6 months now (well, 5 per week at most; I've missed about 8 or so total).  And marathon training started this past week.

If I hurt anywhere in relation to running, it is generally something in my calf.  I know way too much about the various calf muscles and primary tendons (the gastroc, the soleus, the Achilles, the peroneus lungus).  All of those have been identified at one point or another in one leg or another as the problem and source of my calf pain. 

Well, after the 5k on Saturday, I felt solid.  The race hadn't gone particularly well (about 45 seconds slower than a PR, and about 5 seconds per mile slower than my other two 5ks within the last month), but I attributed that primarily to the weather and to the course (a bridge hill that we ran over and then back over).  I finished the race, grabbed some water, and immediately headed out backwards on the course to find my accounting buddy as she was finishing up her second 5k ever.  I found here, and we walked and ran the last 3/4 of a mile together. 

Then I had a fairly typical rest of the day Saturday.  I spent some time after the race hanging out, having a beer, waiting for the AG awards.  I went home, had an early lunch, showered, went to volunteer for a couple hours (seated work), went to that confirmation/communion thing, went out for dinner. 

What was unusual was what happened Saturday night -- I woke up in the middle of the night from calf pain.  I usually sleep partially on my left side, partially on my stomach, and somehow my right leg was on top of my left leg and pushing against my calf -- and it hurt a lot. 

I'd already decided to take Sunday as a rest day.  My very last Sunday off until Oct. 7, the week after the marathon probably.  Though I suppose there may be a couple random Sundays that we are out of town or something and I have to reschedule or skip my long run.  But basically the last Sunday before my Berlin training season gets underway.

All day Sunday, it hurt.  It seemed to be worst when I dorsi-flexed my foot.  But the absolute most intense pain was when I touched it.  Even lightly rubbing my inner upper calf on my left leg caused A LOT of pain. 

I have no good explanation for why I went to boot camp Monday.  Well, that's not true.  This is the explanation:

Yes, that photo seems like a good reason to go to boot camp!  I'd eaten a very healthy dinner Sunday night when I hosted book club, but I followed that with too much of a very unhealthy dessert!
So I really felt like a slug and I needed to get up and get moving on Monday morning.  I decided I'd go to boot camp but give the instructor a heads-up about my pain and just avoid doing the running, and avoid any leg work that caused pain. 
When I got home from camp, there was still the same issues -- pain when I dorsi-flexed, pain when I touched it.  Fortunately, Mondays are my day to drive to work (so I can bring my laptop and my clothes).  I put a bunch of Bio-Freeze gel on under my work pants and went to work smelling like I was made of menthol. 
All day, I made a conscious effort not to cross my legs, and it seemed like even after the Bio-freeze wore off, it was somewhat less painful. 
Tuesday morning, there was still some pain, but I set out for my first group training run of the marathon season.  And of course the first day is always rough in a group at our pace.  Lots of the guys turn it into something of a pissing match, outdoing one another on the pace, but honestly, the women are almost as bad.  Everyone runs too fast, thinking they have to prove they belong.  And I was more guilty than some.  Our group got very spread out (usually that's a no-no, but this season for this group, that is the plan), and I stayed toward the middle, when in reality, I belong at the back.  The run was very tough; it didn't help that it was 79 degrees at 5:15 a.m.  I ran much faster than I should have, and while I didn't have any calf pain, when I finished the 6 miles, pretty much everything hurt.
I went home, had breakfast, loaded up on the bio-freeze again, and then set off for my slow paced easy run commute.  I had a friend keeping me company for the first mile, which was nice and ensured I wasn't picking up the pace.
In the end, I think I had one of my slowest commutes ever.  My friend u-turned and I had no gas in the tank to pick up the pace.  It was a nice, slow run. 
The main thing I noticed during the day Tuesday was not calf pain, but all over leg pain.  My hamstrings on both legs were very tight.  I could touch the back of my leg and it felt like a taut rubber band.  Ugh.  At one point, I was in my boss's office on a call, and I was trying to remember a judge's name.  I knew I had it on a printout in my office on top of my desk.  In my office next door.  So I attempted to stand up, run to my office, grab it, and run back.  But what happened was that I heaved myself up, hobbled out, grabbed it, and hobbled back.  Oh, it was painful.
Due to some pretty big thunderstorms, the track meet on Tuesday night was cancelled.  Instead, I worked late on Tuesday so that I wouldn't be running home in thunder or lightning, and ideally not even running home in the rain.  Fortunately, I'm so far behind at work, I could have stayed all night!  I had a dry run home, but one of my slowest commutes going home (downhill) ever.  My legs were so tight and sore, and I felt like I never got into my stride.  At one point, I could see that I needed to speed up to catch a traffic light, and it was so awkward and painful. 
Wednesday morning, I woke up and I hesitate to say this, but something miraculous happened overnight.  I woke up pain free.  No calf pain on dorsiflexion.  No calf pain to the touch.  Hammies are still tight, but not excessively.  I still skipped out on about half the running at boot camp and elected to jump rope instead during those times, and I ran pretty slowly to work, but I think it's all good.
Wednesday night was a smooth and slow run home, half of it with my accounting buddy, and on this morning's group run, I did a better job of hanging toward the back of the pack and taking time to stretch pretty throroughly when I finished.  I'll head to work in about 20 mins and take it nice and easy, part of it with a friend again. 
So my current biggest leg complaint is that I have had some chafing for two or three days in a row in the most awkward place ever.  Pretty much right where the liner of my shorts hits my inner thigh.  I've had inner thigh chafing before, but this wasn't that -- this was higher, and actually from the liner.  Ugh.  And I have no idea why.  My weight hasn't changed at all and these are all three pairs of shorts I've had and worn for a long time without issue. 
But I feel like aside from the chafing and a bit of tightness, I can honestly say that I'm starting this season pretty strong and injury free.  Usually at some point in marathon training, I realize that when I flex my legs just right, my quads sometimes feel like rocks.  Surprisingly enough, I'm already there.  And I'm already at my Boston marathon weight (which is my current PR), so ideally, I'll be a couple pounds below that for Berlin.  All that remains now is to do the training and to stay where I am physically, pain-free and at PR weight. 
That is the official state of my legs. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Carina Cooks, 2013 Edition v2

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

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).

11.  Undated March 2013: Two mushroom barley stew from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  Blah, not one I'd probably make again.  Hubby seemed to have some trouble finding pearl barley, so we used regular barley and maybe that made a difference.  It was fine, just nothing special.  Included carrot, onion, dried mushrooms, white mushrooms (and we added portabella mushrooms).  Fairly bland.

12.  3-20-13: Chipotle-kissed red bean and sweet potato chili, from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  Blah.  That chipotle/adobo flavor just doesn't do much for me, and the sweet potatoes didn't seem soft enough.  Would not recommend, will not make again.

13.  3-23-13: Bulgar pilaf from a website (recipe here).  Good.  We doubled the recipe and ate leftovers as our grain for about a week afterward.  The recipe contains orzo, bulgar, and zucchini.  I used my alligator dicer and loved the tiny, tiny perfect squares of zucchini.  Nice way to eat bulgar, which is not in our regular rotation. 

14.  3-23-13: Two different tofu recipes to see which I liked more.  Easy tofu marinade and baked tofu. From Kim's page (look for "easy tofu marinade"). Can't remember the second source unfortunately, but I have it printed (called "perfect baked tofu").

15.  3-31-13: Asparagus citrus salad from Asaparagus Festival (a special little cookbook all about asparagus!).  My Easter brunch contribution -- a salad with mixed greens, asparagus and blood oranges, with a homemade dressing made of blood orange juice, shallots, blood orange zest, sherry vinegar, balsalmic vinegar, and olive oil.  Good, would gladly make again. 

15A. BONUS: For Easter, two recipes for sweets from Pinterest. No bake bird's nests (chow mein noodles coated in butterscotch and chocolate, formed into nests, topped with chocolate eggs and peeps) and no bake marshamallow squares (white chocolate and pastel colored marshmallows, topped with spring looking sprinkles). The nests looked and tasted awesome. The marshmallow Easter bark was okay, not great.

16.  4-6-13 Mediterranean Eggplant and Barley Salad from this link at  Not a new recipe to me, but a good one.  Roasted eggplant and zucchini, added to barley -- again, the recipe called for pearl barley, but we only had regular, which I've done before and enjoyed.  But to my surprise, we didn't have enough regular barley, so I did half barley and half orzo.  And I didn't have parsley or mint to add, and I forgot to add the tomatoes (which were only going to be in my husband's half), but it was still delicious.  Actually, when I mention all that, it sounds like I didn't even follow the recipe, so it's somewhat questionable whether I should count this as a meal from a recipe! 

17.  4-12-13 Homemade whole wheat pizza dough from this recipe at  A recipe we got from friends years ago and we've made it every year for our rehearsal dinner anniversary party.  It's a whole wheat pizza dough that you grill, and it's easy to have dinner guests then build their own pizzas. 

17A.  BONUS 4-12-13:  For our rehearsal dinner party this year, we also made a cannllini bean-garlic dip from a cookbook we got for our wedding from my cousin called Dips (a very, very, very simple recipe), and a creamy avocado yogurt dip, from this recipe (also very simple), and a recipe from a law school friend for spinach artichoke dip (fairly simple, and easily made in advance and then baked on the day of).  We also made brie-raspberry tarts from a recipe found on Pinterest (very simple again, using frozen phyllo mini tart shells). 

18.  4-14-13 Red lentil curry from this link, but had originally gotten from Pioneer Woman (just doesn't appear to be on her site anymore, at least not in the form I like and make).  I've made this a few times before and it's definitely a winner.  This time, however, I made it with petite red lentils, which meant they practically dissolved and it had more the consistency of a red lentil mush, but man, it was tasty!  The first night, I ate mine over a baked potato (primarily because I cooked the recipe on a Sunday, I forgot I had a potato to eat from the grocery store, and I knew I wouldn't have an hour to cook it on a weeknight), hubby ate his over brown rice.  The second night we ate the leftovers, hubby had his over quinoa, and I had mine over tortilla chips.  Definitely a recipe I should make more frequently. 

19.  4-28-13 Black bean sweet potato burritos from Vegan a Go Go.  A friend emailed me this recipe years ago and I love it (I don't actually own the cookbook).  We've had it several times.  Basically just mashed sweet potatoes on a tortilla, topped by salsa, topped by seasoned and cooked black beans, then with cheese for me (but no cheese for hubby).  I used 2 sweet potatoes and 1 can of beans and we had enough for 7 burritos (more like tacos really since I couldn't close them this time).  I think that was because we're using a new kind of fresh tortilla that is smaller.  Insanely good. 

20. 5-5-13 Vegetable stew from Little Big Vegetarian cookbook (below, just turn your head sideways...).  Hubby's choice (I am trying to get him to choose more recipes).  Very good.  Lots of dicing of eggplant and zucchini and bell peppers, but super healthy and very tasty.  We had enough for two dinners and one lunch.  For some reason, I thought black beans were in the recipe (well, because the picture made it look that way, but I guess for the photo the eggplant got very dark and there were olives), but it was just veggies, so no protein.  I served it over black beans and brown rice so it seemed more balanced. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My Current Wish List

Not sure why, probably because vacation is still months away, but I've been thinking about THINGS that I really want.

A Vera Bradley garment bag (plain brown to match my other pieces, or any pattern).  I'd use it every single week to take my clothes to work for the week so I can run on the remaining days.  This will probably be on my Christmas list. 

A Vitamix blender.  I would use this every day for my breakfast smoothie.

A bike (preferably one that I can use for Ironman training if/when I go down that road).

A new pre-lit Christmas tree, at least 8.5 feet tall, multi colored lights.

New floormats for my car.

A new warm dress coat.  I rarely need it in Dallas, but those days I'm wearing a suit and working up north in the winter, brrrr...

A Tofu Xpress.

A metronome to wear while I commute.  Might as well try to get my cadence in check!

An exit-only deadbolt for the bottom of our front door.

A griddle.  How do I not have one?  I never make pancakes and I'd like to.

More sterling silver silverware.  We currently have a setting for 8 that we inherited from my grandma, and I'd like to, piece by piece, get to the point where we have service for 12.

Well, there you have it.  Not sure why I was thinking about all this.  I may have to do a little shopping.  I got a $100 gift card to Amazon for Christmas and somehow I still haven't used it.  But of course the goal is really to save my pennies for our trip to Germany and Italy (actually, hubby is financing that), or for our trip to San Fran (which I am financing, and is hopefully going to include one mind-blowingly expensive meal).  But sometimes it's fun to day-dream...

Monday, May 20, 2013

FMM: Getting To Know You

I had a busy weekend including a rest day not by choice (i.e., the bad kind).  We didn't really do much Friday night.  The big adventure was actually driving to the suburb where we'd left my car parked after my big victory as first overall female in the beer mile on Thursday night.

Saturday was a 5k -- I stopped along the route to kiss my husband and got passed by a woman!  And I couldn't catch her.  Ugh.  It was a warm and humid morning and I didn't pace well.  I managed an AG award and actually very good placement (huge field, many of whom walked), but it was about 15 seconds slower than my other two 5ks in the last month.  It felt a lot slower than that.  But as soon as I finished, I went back for my accounting buddy who was doing her second 5k ever. 

After the first one, we made sure the logistics were better on this one.  We met up very early, well in advance of the race.   As soon as I finished running, I doubled back for her.  She was having an amazing race.  We ran most of the last 3/4 of a mile together, just a couple short walk breaks.  And I was a bit disappointed to see her run hard for the last minute or so of the race.  I told her afterward that she shouldn't have done that -- it meant I knew she had more left in the tank and we should have skipped some of those walk breaks and picked up the pace earlier!  Haha.  She was like, "oh no..."  I'm so excited at how much she's improving.  She finished the 5k in about 42 minutes, and given the large field, she ended up around the 50% mark of her AG, which I think was very encouraging for her.  So proud of her!!! 

After the race, we hung out for a while, eating and drinking, waiting for the AG awards and listening to music.  I finally got home after 10:00 (maybe after 11) and then it was all work, no play.  I had to get cleaned up and feed myself.  Then I was volunteering from 2-4, and after that I went straight to a northern suburb for hubby's godson's first communion and confirmation (I know they are usually separate, but he is a special needs child and the bishop allowed him and a girl with Down's Syndrome to do them both together).  It meant a lot to his parents, I could tell, and I was so happy that we were able to be there with them.  It came together on short notice and they don't have any family in the US, so I think the extra support for them was nice.  Afterward, we went out for a pizza dinner at the communicant's choice of restaurants.  Unfortunately, that was not good -- he was mostly excited about the soda fountain, and his parents let him get all the refills he wanted.  The pizza was not great, the restaurant's AC wasn't working, so the temp was in the low 80s in the restaurant, but the company was good and hubby's godson was very happy (particularly with his soda, he didn't really eat much pizza). 

By Saturday night, I was starting to feel some serious pain in my left leg, in the upper inside part of my calf (probably gastroc again? same thing I had in '07).  So I decided to take off on Sunday morning.  It was the first official day of marathon training, but it was just a prediction run to determine pace groups.  Since I know what group I'm training with, the run wasn't necessary, so I took the extra day of rest.  Unfortunately, it still hurts today.  I went to boot camp and took it easy, but it makes me nervous...

I spent the day Sunday after I got up cooking, I had an elaborate menu for book club at our house that night, and it went well.  My next door neighbor came over to help me cook, and I ended up sending hubby over there for dinner to eat with them and I just made extra portions to send with her.  So both our houses had the same meal for dinner.  The meal was good and the company was wonderful.  Lots of time talking and laughing. 

And now.... Monday.  The agenda for today (to the extent I get to control it):  interviewing two candidates for open positions, and finishing a draft of a report.  And paying bills!  And icing my calf! 

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!

Getting To Know You
1. Have you ever been skinny dipping? No, I don't think so (at least not after about age 5). 

2. If you could choose an exotic vacation destination today, where would you go?  I blame Kenlie for this since her post mentioned the Dalai Lama, but I think I'd like to go somewhere like Nepal, Bhutan or Tibet right now.  Mountains, clear air, different culture, something to engage me mentally and physically.  Someplace with countless things to see and do, and where I could also relax and just soak up everything around me. 

3. Do you prefer to live in the city or the suburbs? The city 100%.  Second choice would be the country (somewhere like where my folks live, many miles from "the city" of 4,000 people, totally remote).  And then third choice would be anything else, and last choice would be the suburbs.  Saturday night with hubby's godson was a good example -- we had to drive to a restaurant because there is nothing in walking distance of their house, it was in a strip mall, and it was a chain.  That is pretty much the opposite of what I like. 

4. If you could paint, draw or illustrate any masterpiece in the world, what would it be? I would love to capture something like the night market in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where there is a dynamic that would so hard to portray in an image. 

5. What is your favorite dish to cook when you’re cooking for one?  I pretty much never cook for one, but I guess I sometimes make quiche or boxed mac and cheese for lunch if I'm home alone -- the quiche can last for several other meals, which is nice. 

6. Who has recently influenced you in a spectacular way?  No one comes to mind, is that sad?  I guess maybe a running friend who just had a PR that makes me very jealous.  I'm trying to tell myself that if she can do it, I can do it. 

7. Have you ever considered dating a person who’s younger than you? If so, how young would you go?  I didn't start dating my husband until I was 29, and at that time, I think I would have gone as young as about 24 or so.  And it's hard to think in the abstract now since obviously I'm not dating, but at age 37, in theory if I had to date again, I could see going as young as about 27.  It would obviously depend on the guy, but it seems many guys grow up in their mid-20s, and as long as you're both pretty grown up, I don't think an age difference matters too much. 

8. What do you typically wear when you’re at home with no plans to go out? I usually stay in whatever I was last wearing.  On a day like Friday when I work from home, I spend all day in my workout clothes after I get home from boot camp.  On a day like Monday, when I get home from work and have no plans to do anything else, I stay in my work clothes.  On a day like yesterday where I'm not working out or going anywhere, I'd probably stay in the t-shirt and shorts I pull on when I wake up. 

9. Do you prefer a shower or a bath? I prefer showers.  We have a nice tub with jets and everything, but I mostly just use it after long runs if I need an ice bath. 

10. When you meet strangers are you outgoing or more introverted?  It seems to largely depend on the circumstance and my mood, but I guess I'm generally more introverted.  Sometimes I just want to do my thing and be done, but if I'm going to have to be around people for a while, sometimes I'll try to reach out.  But where there's a reason I'm there, I usually like to focus on that -- there are always people who seem to give less than 100% at boot camp and seem to enjoy commisserating more than working.  I'm the opposite, and even when hubby wants to say something during camp, my general thought is, "less talk, more action."  I'm fine with not knowing anyone's name or chatting with anyone, I just want to go and get my work out done, and then get home to get ready for work.  It's rare that I feel like I'm with strangers without a purpose -- like on a plane?  But then I guess I also like to keep to myself, though I've chatted with more strangers on planes in the last year than maybe in my whole life until this year combined.  If someone talks to me, I'll respond, but generally I do my own thing.  So I guess that makes me introverted?  But if I'm just interacting with a sales person or something, I'm happy to make some conversation. 

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

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Weekend Menu for Book Club

I'm hosting book club this month -- our book choice was Lean In, which I need to finish reading TODAY but has been very interesting.  Particularly for a woman who was also called "bossy" as a child -- funny how that term is never used with boys.  It's also been interesting to read in view of my experiences both at a big law firm, and now more in the corporate world -- how women are perceived, how their careers are managed, how my friends (most of whom are also lawyers) manage household labor in their own relationships, etc. 

When I finish the book, I'll have to write more about it.  Anyway, right now for my own sanity, I want to make a menu list so I can be focused when I cook up a storm tomorrow.


Gouda and apple stuffed mushrooms
Crostini with taleggio, apple, and thyme honey
Veggies and tortilla chips with creamy avocado dip

Raspberry beer lemonade

Black bean corn salad
Field greens strawberries red onion goat cheese salad
Orzo with roasted eggplant and cinnamon-cumin dressing

Strawberry brownie tort, which will look just like this in theory:

Friday, May 17, 2013

First Overall Female!

For the second time in my life, actually, the second time in 15 months, I have won overall female at a race.  Woot!

Last night I competed in our local beer mile. 

The idea of this race has intrigued me since I first read about it in 2009 when Amy competed and won it in Tennessee.  I'd never heard of it before, and I thought pretty much the same thing she did -- hmm, I'm a pretty good runner, and I'm a pretty good drinker, maybe I should do that!  So I have been searching for a local one ever since.  And encouraging the right people to organize one. 

It's not a typical race.  First, there are no bibs and no paid registration -- for obvious liability reasons.  Second, your chugging skills are at least as important as your running skills.  Third, if you vomit, you have to run an extra penalty lap (for a total of 1.25 miles, but you still only have to do 4 beers). 

Basically, the way it works is a track is marked for a little "drinking zone."  Not sure how long it was.  Maybe 8 feet long?  Everyone competing lined up their 4 beers (we all used cans) in that zone.  The rules are that it cannot be a wide-mouth can, it cannot already be opened, it must be at least 5% alcohol

When the official time started, we were all in the little drinking zone.  We each chugged one beer, and then ran a lap, back to the drinking zone again.  Then another beer, another lap.  Another beer, another lap.  A last beer and a last lap through the end of the drinking zone. 

So the grand total is 4 beers and 1 mile. 

I was totally intimidated by the group.  There were guys of varying levels (including several I know to be sub-5:30 milers) and only about 5 women? 4?  Either way, I knew at least two of them to be significantly faster than me.  Including one who was the winner last year (I was already home for Christmas, so I missed it).

But she assured me that I could beat her.  She admitted that she's faster than me, but only by about a minute (maybe less) for a mile.  She said that if I could chug even a bit faster than her, the running wouldn't make a difference. 

And while I am not a huge alcohol drinker in general, and when I drink it's not usually beer, I can chug almost anything.  I think it's because I'm used to drinking so much water.  When it's time to leave work, I hate leaving water in my bottle overnight, and I'm too lazy to go dump it in the sink, so even if it's full (24 oz.), I'll just chug it.  But I also have experience with beer chugging.  In law school, we had a game that we'd play at parties when it was time to go.  Whoever wanted to leave would get the others to chug -- they'd say, okay, ready? 1-2-3-you chug! 

So I figured I had a shot. 

The race started and a couple of the guys chugged really quickly and took off.  Then a bit later, another bunch of us finished and took off.  And about half the group was still chugging the first beer.  I was the first woman to start running, but after about 200 meters I got passed by one of the faster women.  And I was nervous.  I was burping and felt pretty horrid already.  I couldn't imagine how I'd feel after more beer.  And right as I was finishing my first lap, I was passed by last year's female winner. 

So into the drinking zone with 2 women just ahead of me.  But on lap two, I was again, first woman out of the gate after my second beer.  And I would say I didn't feel significantly worse than on the first lap.  I was burping a lot and it was audible.  I joked with one of the guys running near me that my brothers would have been proud to hear me. 

I did not get passed by any woman on lap 2, but the 2 that had been ahead of me weren't far behind. 

Chug 3 was where it made the difference.  That beer went down much more easily and my confidence built.  During lap 3, I felt like I was spinning a little bit, but I remember being about 200 meters into the run and realizing that the other 2 women were still chugging beer 3. 

And before I finished lap 3, I passed another woman.  And right before I finished lap 3, I got passed by the two guys who were first to finish.  First place guy was 6:15:99 and second place was 6:19:71 -- but I was only one lap (and one beer) behind.  I got into the drinking zone for beer 4, and I figured I had it made.  I was actually not sure I was really on beer 4, it seemed to be going so fast.  But I checked my watch and saw that indeed, I only had about .25 miles to go.  I figured it had to be less than 3 more minutes and I'd be done.  60-90 seconds drinking, 90-120 seconds running. 

At that point, my sole focus was on not vomiting.  I thought the only way that I'd screw it up would be to have to run an extra lap. 

And I managed to do it!  Three of us finished within 10 seconds of each other, all between 8:40 and 8:50 (me and two guys).  My husband has hilarious video of the finish line -- I became quite uncertain I'd been the first woman because there were other women standing around -- but then I finally realized they had beers in their hands.  They still had a lap to go!  But then after I understood, I still kept asking people -- mostly just because I wanted to hear it again and again.  I'd won! 

But eventually that got old and I started feeling really dizzy.  I was pretty sure I'd get sick, so I went over to part of the fence around the track.  I ended up keeping it all down but it felt very touch and go. 

It felt like forever before the prior female title holder crossed the line, more than 3 minutes behind me.  And then nearly 2 more minutes before another 2 women. 

I felt compelled to keep high-5ing everyone.  And doing so repeatedly, until I felt like we'd gotten a solid one.  And instructing people on how best to do it -- they put their hand up and hold still and I aim for it.  And it was awful how many times I missed.

We all left the track and went back to the organizer's house for ... beer!  That sealed the deal, I couldn't drive home.  Initially, I'd thought if I hung out at least 2.5 hours after my last beer, I'd be okay to drive, but when I had another at the house, it was going to be too late before I could drive, so I rode home with hubby and will have to go get my car today.  

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Fall Marathon Plan

Well, I think my calendar for the year has finally fallen into place. 

Right now, I'm at the height of spring racing season.  My recent calendar has looked (or looks) like this:
April 27 wknd 5k
May 4 wknd 5k (1 second faster than the week before)
May 11 wknd half marathon (the longest I've run since the San Antonio marathon last November!) (PR)
May 18 wknd 5k (on my PR course, but PR is unlikely) (and the official start of marathon training on Sunday)
May 25 wknd half marathon
June 4 wknd 4 mile race
June 11 wknd -- no racing!
June 18 wknd 5k

Then my little mini-race streak will end probably as marathon training picks up.  We've got a couple little trips planned (basically just long weekends in Nacogdoches and Kansas City), but really very little on the calendar for the summer. 

But I'm most interested in how it looks like my fall schedule is likely shaping up (I'm putting the definite races in bold):

Sept. 20 wknd 5k
Sept. 29 marathon in Berlin!
(then we'll have a couple weeks of vacation for Oktoberfest and in Italy)
Nov. 2 marathon in northern California maybe (on trails, probably with my brother)
Nov. 17 marathon in San Antonio maybe (probably not for time)
Nov. 28 local Thanksgiving 8 mile race
Dec. 8 half-marathon probably (local race, but I might just cheer for friends)
Dec. 14 wknd 10 mile race in FTW maybe
(home for a week for Christmas, maybe visiting in-laws for the following week)
Jan. 19 marathon in Houston

Wow.  If I do all of it, that will be 4 marathons in 4 months -- which in reality is not too crazy.  I've done 3 in 3 months before, which was how I became a member of the Marathon Maniacs.  But for some reason, this schedule seems far more daunting.

Here's to an injury-free and loooooong training season!  My marathon training officially begins on Sunday.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

10 Running Tidbits

I was catching up on back reading of a blog that I followed for a long time and then somehow lost, and I thought this post would be fun to replicate, just as Meredith did (her blog is mostly about new baby from several weeks ago, but she did this a while back).

10 Running Tidbits
Meredith said that she got the post from Kyria at Travel Spot to spark something new on her blog and get back to talking about running. 

If you run (I'm looking at you Aimee and Amy, and anyone else who reads and runs), feel free to copy the questions and share your responses.  Comment and let me know you did so I can see yours. 

1. FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?

For the first 8 or so years that I ran, I was very loyal to Caramel PowerGel, but then they stopped making it and in two-plus years, I've yet to find anything I like even close to as much.  I usually do either shot blocks or gu now.  I prefer shot blocks in training, but that's because I stop for water and can easily chew them then.  It doesn't seem to work for me in a race.  There's too much snot for me to chew and run and attempt to keep breathing.  I seem to have a perpetually runny nose when I run.  So right now, it's blocks and gu (and sometimes sport beans) in training, gu in races.  As to brands, I stick with Cliff shot blocks, and Gu brand gel.  For flavors, I love all the blocks; for gu, I like vanilla, pineapple, blackberry and cherry. 

2. Race Length: 5k, 10k, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?

I guess I'd choose the marathon.  A 5k just hurts too much!  I've never officially done an ultra.  I like how much work has to go into a marathon, and I've always thought the real joy is in the process of training and the anticipation of the race.  There are so many variables that go into having a great marathon that I love the lack of control that comes with it. 

3. Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants or Other?

Lol.  Running shorts almost always.  Preferably tempo style shorts.  I wear pants/tights if it's below 40.  I hate the way capris look (not just when running), but I have 3 pairs I tend to wear for temps in the 40s.  And for Christmas this year, I got a running skirt.  I've worn it exactly once, and it was to a themed social run (the theme was "skirt chasers," which meant the women started to route first, the guys started a couple minutes later, and whichever sex had 3 runners across the line first won (the women won; the first order was F M M F F)).  I keep thinking I'll wear it again but there's always a reason not to -- I wouldn't want my running buddies to see me in it, because I don't want to be seen as not a serious runner.  But maybe some day if I were running alone...  It wasn't any more or less comfortable than running in my usual shorts.  I just feel ridiculous in it. 

4. Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?

I do marathon training with an organized group, so on anything over about 8 miles, I drink Cytomax at all rest stops (about every 2 miles) unless it's a stop where I'm taking gu.  Fuel and sports drinks don't mix well in my stomach -- too much sugar all at once and major intestinal distress ensues.  It's happened to me a couple times, but fortunately it was always a lesson learned in training, not in a race.  Which I guess is part of the point of training!  For anything under about 8 miles, just water.  In a marathon, usually whatever sports drink they have. 

5. Running Temperatures: HEAT or COLD?

My favorite temperature to run is about 50 degrees.  For a marathon, I prefer a start around 40, and a finish around 50 or 55.  The sun is generally my nemesis.  I'd rather have 65 and cloudy than 55 and sunny.  But living in Dallas, I'd say about 40% of my running is at 70 degrees or warmer, even when we go at 5:15 a.m.  It will be a higher percentage this year if I commute home from work on foot in the summer -- I bet many of those runs will be over 90, and some even over 100.  Slow and easy will be the theme.  Last night was the first day that we broke 90 and I had to run home (with a stop for the track meet! need to post about that later). 

6. Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brooks, Asics or Other?

Tough question.  My answer in my heart is always Brooks.  But I have been cheating on Brooks for about two years now with Mizunos and Asics.  But I tell myself it's just a matter of time until I go back to the Glycerin.  Probably later this year. 

7. Pre-race meal: Oatmeal, Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?

Instant oatmeal.  On the road or at home, oatmeal.  I've now learned to pack a plastic spoon with my packet of oatmeal when I travel to races and make it with hot water in the hotel room.  One race I remember deciding I had an extra gu that I wouldn't need during the race that day, so I squeezed it out and used the gu wrapper as a makeshift spoon for my oatmeal. 

8. Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or Other?

Usually something slightly less than one per week.  On average, probably more like .8 per week since there are a fair number of weeks where I go all 7 days.  Notably, I do my long runs on Sundays and don't ever really run on Mondays or Fridays, those are usually boot camp only days for me, but since I'm technically working out, I don't count them as rest days.  Instead, my rest days are usually Saturdays if I'm not doing a race, occasionally Fridays if I have a bunch of Saturday races in a row and really feel like I need a day off. 

9. Music: Have to have it or go without it?

Almost never.  I usually run with friends, so we talk.  When I'm running solo, most of those miles are on my commute to work or elsewhere in the city, and there are cars and bikes around so I need to be aware of my surroundings. 

10. #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or Other?

Like Meredith, I love this question.  I started running because a friend talked me into a marathon.  I've kept running for many reasons -- my running buddies are among my best friends, I love the calorie burn so I can usually eat what I want, I love that after a decade of running, I can still push myself to PR sometimes, I love that I feel like some of my best runs are still ahead of me, I love having my life broken into chunks of training seasons for different races (frequently destination races), rather than one big blur, I love that it gets me outside and more connected with the world around me, I love that I feel happier after a run, I love that my husband brags about my race results to coworkers and seems to never be anything but impressed by my results, I love that many people know me and define me as a runner as one of my foremost characteristics, I love that I can set goals for myself and constantly have a challenge to which I'm working, I love that it gives me an excuse to go somewhere (St. George, Utah is an example -- only reason I've gone there was the marathon, can't imagine I'd have chosen it without), I love that I meet new people through running and have it in common with other people I meet through work or whatever, I love that now I can actually run to work and not have to drive, I love that it's a way to explore somewhere new, I love that it has so many health benefits.  Pretty much all the reasons listed apply to me.  But the question is my #1 reason for running -- if I had to choose just one -- if you told me that the others wouldn't apply any more, which one would keep me going -- hmm... Would I run if it were always alone?  If there were no hope of a PR?  If it didn't burn any calories?  If there were never any goals to be set/met?  If it had to always be inside on a treadmill?  This could be a whole separate post.  Hmmm....   I suppose my number one reason for running is social -- my running buddies.  If I had to run easy with them on indoor treadmills, I'd do it, even if there weren't a single calorie burned or goal race in my future. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Marathon Predictors

Very early on in my running career, someone told me about marathon pace predictors.

The most popular one is McMillan's, which is found here.

The way it works is you put in an actual recent race time and it will calculate what you should be able to run at other distances (assuming proper training). 

You can also do it in reverse, putting in a recent marathon time, and seeing how fast you should be able to run a shorter race.

I don't know exactly how the science/numbers behind the predictor works.  It obviously doesn't assume that you can run your 5k pace for a marathon, but I don't know exactly what factor it increases your time by to extrapolate from your current time.  And of course there are questions about how accurate any prediction is.  The old version of the McMillan calculator had a warning (and it might still be there, I just haven't looked) indicating that the longer and the more recent your "actual" race time is, the more accurate your "predicted" time will be.  So if you ran a 20 miler at just a bit faster than your marathon pace, you're likely to be able to sustain your marathon pace.  While if you run a super fast 5k, it's not necessarily true that you'll be able to perform at the same level for hours on end. 

The predictor has always been interesting to me.  I can see what distances are my strongest (they predict the fastest marathon), and what distances are ones where I chronically underperform (predicting the slowest marathon).

Thus far, my mile and my 5k PRs predict me very close to my goal marathon time for Berlin this September.  The problem with looking at my mile and 5k predictions is that both my mile and 5k PRs are old.  My weakest distance is the 15k (I also have very weak 8k and 20 mile times, but those are old or are from training races).  But a lot of my PRs, even recent ones, predict me very close to my actual current marathon PR. 

I start training for Berlin in about two more weeks.  I've run two 5ks very recently, and one half (two days ago), and all three of those predict me in the exact same time range for a marathon -- less than 2 minutes' difference!  Which makes me think there's something to be said for the predictor.  But what I am especially happy to see is that the 90 second window based on my 3 recent races as a predictor all show me getting a marathon PR by about 4-5 minutes.  For me, when I look at the predictor with my current 5k time, it estimates that I can run marathon pace miles nearly 2 minutes slower than my mile PR, and just over a minute per mile slower than my 5k PR mile pace.  Looking at actual recent race times instead of my all-time PRs, my current 5k race time has me slowing down just over 1 minute per mile to run the marathon.  Do-able I hope. 

While a PR of 4-5 minutes is not the 11 minute PR that I want to see in Berlin, it would be one step closer to that ultimate 11 minute goal.  So all in all, my spring focus on speed training seems to have gone pretty well.  I have gotten my race times closer to where they were before my 2012 season of running with a weight vest.  And at least now (according to the predictors, for what they're worth), I've set myself up as best as I can to train for a PR at the marathon. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

FMM: Questions and Answers

Ah, how can it be Monday again?  Our weekend was nice. 

My stepson is home with us for another few days and he cooked dinner Friday night -- very good.  The main dish, however, was fish, which I can't eat.  So it was really more dinner cooked for my husband, which he loved.  And my stepson made tons of roasted vegetables that were for me. 

Saturday was a low-key day.  Hubby was on a cleaning tear and picked up lots of clutter and even did some garage floor cleaning.  Wow!  We went out to eat and generally spent a lot of time around the house.  I don't know if I mentioned it, but I got promoted a few weeks ago.  One of the attorneys I hire regularly for cases in Pennsylvania sent me some personalized M&Ms.  My name on half of them, my new title on the other half.  I made "promotion cookies" but one sheet resulted in disaster.  Yikes!!!  I couldn't even tell you what happened, I think I was using one hand it was just off balance.  No burns, and fortunately just one sheet was lost. 

Sunday was another race -- a half marathon this time.  Did I mention that my schedule has races 6 weekends in a row, then one weekend off, then one more race?  It will be a total of four 5ks, 2 half marathons, and one 4 mile race.  I'm hoping there will be a PR at the 4 mile race as well.  The half was pretty small, but I almost ran the plan, which was nice.  The plan was to go out at my goal marathon pace for the first half, and then pick it up after the u-turn.  At the u-turn, I was a total of about 30 seconds ahead of marathon pace, and then on the second half, I was only about another 30 seconds total faster on the way back (over 6.5 miles, that's really not much), but the thrilling and unexpected results were a PR by 30 seconds and an AG award!!!  My prior half PR had been in place since 2010.  This race was only on average 10 seconds per mile faster than my goal marathon pace, but for right now, I'll take it! 

And now, Monday again.  Highlights this week are that the summer series of 6 weeks of evening track meets begins tomorrow, and I will be competing in my first ever beer mile on Thursday night.  Let's hope for no vomit. 


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 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!

FMM:  Questions and Answers

1. Do you use coupons? No.  I'm sure I have before, but not with any regularity. 

2. How often do you weigh yourself?  I would say most mornings, and for the last couple years, I usually write it down on the first of the month.  But for the last decade plus, I've always recorded my weight on both my birthday (late summer) and on New Year's Day, just so I can see the big picture. 

3. What was your favorite TV show as a kid?  I loved Facts of Life.  I wanted to be like Blair but always thought I was a bit more like Jo. 

4. How often do you drink alcohol?  Right now, I'd say about twice a month, but that is probably (hopefully) going to go down next week when marathon training officially begins.  I really want to buckle down this season.  At most alcohol once a month, and then only a couple glasses.  But this week has the beer mile, so that is 4 beers in one night, likely all within 10 minutes?  15?  20?  I have no idea how long it will take.  Ugh.  Maybe vomit would be good in that case...  And I'll also have wine at book club this coming Sunday, but that is looking like the last hurrah for me. 

5. Have you ever met a celebrity or public figure that you really admire? Yes, thought I wouldn't say that I "really admire" most celebrities.  A few that come to mind -- Sandra Day O'Connor, Meb Keflezighi, and Dean Karnazes, who I got to run with (with pictures) and posted about here

6. If you had to choose between only your cell phone or only your laptop all week which would you choose?  Hmm, since my laptop is my work computer, I'd have to choose the laptop, otherwise I'd be out of a job!  But on vacation or something, I'd choose my cell phone. 

7. What is your favorite brand of detergent?  Laundry?  I think we use liquid Tide. 

8. If there was a movie about your life, who would play the role?  My husband thinks Gillian Anderson is the celebrity who most resembles me -- more like this picture than something more recent.

9. What book are you currently reading? I am reading Lean In (I think I'm on page 75 or so) -- I want to know what it's all about and think I'd recommend that most people read it (at least most educated professionals), whether you agree or not.  Very thought provoking.  Though as someone who does not intend to have kids and pretty much insists on equal shares of household labor with my husband, perhaps I'm not the person who most needs to read this. 

10. If you could spend one day on vacation anywhere in the world, which place would you choose?  Today, I think I would choose the Seychelles.  I feel kind of beachy, but I'd prefer something infinitely more exotic than the Caribbean. 

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! Happy Monday!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Worst of Both Worlds

So yesterday morning on my commute I think it got as bad as it can get -- it was sunny and raining at the same time.  Ugh.

And I was utterly unprepared for the latter.  Double ugh.

I have been newly wearing sunglasses (only about two weeks now?) when commuting.  It's just getting so frigging sunny and warm in the evenings, I thought it might help.

And my commute in the morning is northeast (mostly north), and I run on the correct side of the street (left), meaning the eastward run is directly into the sun and the northward run has little shade (of course the wrong side of the street seems to have plenty). 

 And my commute in the evening is southwest (mostly south), and I run on the correct side of the street (left), meaning the westward run is directly into the sun and the southward run has little shade (of course the wrong side of the street seems to have plenty). 

So anyway, I thought sunglasses would help.  If I'd anticipated rain, I would have skipped the sunglasses and instead worn a cap to keep most of the rain off my face, I would have put my cell phone in a ziplock inside of the ifitness belt, and I'd have worn shoes I don't mind getting wet. 

But instead, I wore sunglasses, new-ish shoes, no hat, and phone (face out) in the belt.  After about a mile, I noticed that the sky to my left seemed very dark. 

I got hit with a couple random drops of rain and I actually looked at them -- I seriously thought they each could be bird $hit since there was no way it would actually rain.

But by 1.5 miles, sure enough, it was coming down -- but it was still sunny!  So frustrating.  I've been lucky to dodge the rain almost every single commute (and I think I'm at about 60 commutes total now).  Dallas isn't a rainy place, so that's not too crazy, but there have still been several mornings where I've felt lucky to dodge it. 

So yesterday I did it -- I ran in the rain and in the sun.  Thankfully no lightning, but still a P-I-T-A.  And of course that meant my clothes didn't really dry off before I had to run home.

Oh well, just felt like bitching. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Another Marathon Registration

I just did something kind of crazy:

Yes, that's my registration for the Houston Marathon in January. It's been on my list of marathons that I want to run for years. But I've never pulled the trigger because of horrible timing for me.

The marathon is held on Jan. 19 -- which means training over Christmas. I think I could handle that if we stayed in town for the holidays, but we don't.  Actually, that marathon date is particularly inconvenient because we go home to see my parents in the great white north for about a week for Christmas. And after about a solid decade of running now, I have only motivated myself maybe twice EVER to run outside there over Christmas, and maybe about 10 times EVER at the gym up there on a treadmill. They usually have several feet of snow and it's insanely cold. I have a series of pictures of the car thermometer when we drive to church on Christmas Eve and one year I remember it saying -25. As in -25 not counting wind chill. Dear God, that's why I moved to Texas!

The thought of running in sub-zero temperatures, or pounding out 20 miles on a treadmill ... eh, I really can't see either happening in all honesty.

And to make matters worse, this year, there is a chance we will spend the week of Christmas with my folks up north, and then fly directly to visit hubby's parents in Pittsburgh for another week or so leading up to New Year's. We did that one other year and I didn't enjoy it at all -- it was hard to pack up all our gifts and everything and then not fly home. But since it's really important to me that we spend Christmas with my family, I've told hubby I am willing to be with his family all 362 or so other days of the year (actually, Christmas Eve and the day after are also really important to me). So if he wants to go straight to Pittsburgh, there's no way I'm going to fight it.

But I really can't imagine what would happen to my training if I took about 2 weeks off less than a month before the marathon. It's slightly easier for me to run when we go see his family. It's usually not as cold there in the winter, and there's never as much snow (and they live in a more suburban area anyway, so streets are plowed and there are sidewalks). And I also don't mind the gym/treadmill setup there. Maybe it's because I love my folks more than I do his? It's painful for me to spend 2 hours running at the gym when I could be home with my mama, but somehow it's easier when I'm with the in-laws (and don't get me wrong, I really love them too).  Aye, maybe I shouldn't admit that, but I suppose it's normal. 

Anyway... so registering for Houston is going to mean 6 very difficult weeks of training between the Dallas Marathon (aka White Rock) on Dec. 8 and Houston on Jan. 19. I'm not planning to run the full at White Rock, but many friends will, and then I won't have many people to run with when that's over.  It will be hard to avoid having motivation and mileage take a serious hit beginning on Dec. 9. 

Oh well, it will be a challenge, but it will be nice to cross Houston off my list!

And I get to stay at my favorite hotel in Houston, which was where I practically lived for much of the first year after I met my husband and before we started dating (I was semi-permanently there for never-ending depositions for work).  And it should be a great race.  So it was a good decision, even if it means my fall running plan would be considered totally crazy by many...