Friday, June 21, 2013

Weekly Reads: Engagements + Sisterland

This week I'm going to highlight a few books that I can't wait to get my grubby little paws on.

  J. Courtney Sullivan has written a couple of books that I've enjoyed Maine and Commencement, so I was excited when her summer 2013 release was announced, The Engagements.

Blurb from Goodreads:

"From the New York Times best-selling author of Commencement and Maine comes a gorgeous, sprawling novel about marriage—about those who marry in a white heat of passion, those who marry for partnership and comfort, and those who live together, love each other, and have absolutely no intention of ruining it all with a wedding.

Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years—forty years since he slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place. Delphine has seen both sides of love—the ecstatic, glorious highs of seduction, and the bitter, spiteful fury that descends when it’s over. James, a paramedic who works the night shift, knows his wife’s family thinks she could have done better; while Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding—beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings—and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own. 

As these lives and marriages unfold in surprising ways, we meet Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter in 1947. Frances is working on the De Beers campaign and she needs a signature line, so, one night before bed, she scribbles a phrase on a scrap of paper: “A Diamond Is Forever.” And that line changes everything."

Another author I enjoy is Curtis Sittenfeld, who has written  PrepAmerican Wife and The Man of My Dreams that I've enjoyed.  Her new novel, Sisterland, is currently on order at the library due to a purchase suggestion by moi, and I'm sitting in eager anticipation as the #1 hold recipient once it comes in.  Tick tock tick tock.

The blurb from goodreads:

"Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of American Wifeand Prep, returns with a mesmerizing novel of family and identity, loyalty and deception, and the delicate line between truth and belief.
From an early age, Kate and her identical twin sister, Violet, knew that they were unlike everyone else. Kate and Vi were born with peculiar “senses”—innate psychic abilities concerning future events and other people’s secrets. Though Vi embraced her visions, Kate did her best to hide them.
Now, years later, their different paths have led them both back to their hometown of St. Louis. Vi has pursued an eccentric career as a psychic medium, while Kate, a devoted wife and mother, has settled down in the suburbs to raise her two young children. But when a minor earthquake hits in the middle of the night, the normal life Kate has always wished for begins to shift. After Vi goes on television to share a premonition that another, more devastating earthquake will soon hit the St. Louis area, Kate is mortified. Equally troubling, however, is her fear that Vi may be right. As the date of the predicted earthquake quickly approaches, Kate is forced to reconcile her fraught relationship with her sister and to face truths about herself she’s long tried to deny.
Funny, haunting, and thought-provoking, Sisterland is a beautifully written novel of the obligation we have toward others, and the responsibility we take for ourselves. With her deep empathy, keen wisdom, and unerring talent for finding the extraordinary moments in our everyday lives, Curtis Sittenfeld is one of the most exceptional voices in literary fiction today."

Anything you're jazzed to read this week?

**If you click on the book cover and/or book title links and purchase the book through Amazon, I get a few pennies of the sale.  If you check it out from your library, it's free, and I don't get anything, but I'm super stoked that you're supporting your library.  :)**

Monday, June 17, 2013

New Favorite Workout

I have always been a faithful tempo run and mile repeat hater.  For awhile I was also a mega-long run hater as well.  AKA last spring and fall when I dropped down from marathons to half marathon.  Running for three hours?  No thanks.  I've always loved interval runs because I love to go fast!  Especially when I get to recover after.  But run hard, continuously, for what feels like forever?  I'll pass.

Outside of the recent 10k, I haven't done anything resembling a tempo run in a long, LONG time.  I'm currently following some semblance of Hal Higdon's Intermediate 10k training program, and his plan toggles from intervals one week to tempo runs the next.  I haven't done a tempo run yet.  Ooops.  BUT, I've been implementing my new favorite workout instead.  My intention is that this workout will help me improve my fitness levels so that the tempo doesn't feel so hard, and isn't so daunting to think about.

Ok, so my favesies workout lately is hills.  Gross, right??  I used to hate hills because they'd destroy my IT bands, and my knees, and usually my hips, and probably my calves.  Sooooo essentially my entire lower body.  After signing up for the Madison Marathon, Krittabug kindly informed me that "dude, this course is hilly."  And then I got a'scurred.

Clearly if I start tackling hills NOW five months out from race day, I'll be golden for the marathon, no?

My real problem with hills stems from my poor running form.  Combine my heavy heel striking, straight legged landing form with the already downward momentum, and the impact I was feeling on a regular run was compounded 100x.  I've had races where my quads and IT bands essentially seized up and stopped firing, forcing my hammies and calves to do all the work.  Sidenote:  My calves and hammies are weak as hell.  Also, ouch.

Where I live, there are rolling hills going from either direction from me.  I've been running 6-7 miles for these runs and charging up the uphills, and recovering and super focusing on form on the downhills and flat areas.  These runs have ended up near the overall pace that a tempo run with a warm up would equate to, which is good, and are great in a way that I don't think a straight tempo workout would be for me currently.

On Thursday night's run, on the steepest hill on the route, and also my final hill of the route, I felt my glutes engage in a run for the first time since approximately May 2002.  Has anyone raced the 400m or 300m hurdles and experienced the booty lock or glute lock that results from that?  Yowza.  Our foursome raced the 1600m. relay at the state meet my senior year, and my booty was locked for probably 10x longer than it took me to sprint that lap around the track.  End sidenote.  So this is good, right?  Hopefully.  And maybe I'll try a tempo run shortly as prescribed by my plan, but I will surely be working this workout into my training for this fall as well.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Weekly Reads: Mr. Peumbra's 24 Hour Book Store

<----This was me growing up (big shocker).  We lived out in the country for three years of grade school, and there were no kids nearby for miles.  My brother was six years older than me, and in high school, so clearly hanging out with his little sister wasn't high on his priority list.  So in the summer time, I would load up my backpack with books, get my golden retriever BFF Buck, and follow Frog Creek to my favorite tree.  The tree was deep in a wooded area and difficult to get to, so I felt like I was the only person in the world.  The tree's branches stretched out over the creek, and one of the branches had a giant gaping crack in it that I could store things in.  My dog would lay at the base of the tree and keep me company while I read summer afternoons away.  I saw this picture on Books Direct tumblr and had a major flashback of those great years.

And with that wordy diatribe, I am announcing a new weekly (hopefully) component to my blog entitled:  Weekly Reads.  I hope to highlight a book that I'm currently reading and obsessed with, a soon to be released book, or a great read I've just finished. Reading is more fun when we do it together, amiright?

Right now I'm reading a few books, but the one I'm most excited about is Mr. Peumbra's 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan.  I have been waiting forever for this book to come in at the library for me, and finally decided to just attempt to listen to it on audiobook.  I'll usually give an audiobook 30 minutes to decide if I like (=can stand) the narrator before giving up and picking up the hardcover version instead.  I'm so glad I lucked in to the audiobook version because I love the narration.

The story is set in an eccentric bookstore in San Francisco that is open all hours of the day.  Clay is the clerk working the night shift.  He hardly makes a sale on any of his shifts, and the only customers he sees regularly request obscure books from the VIP section of the store that are for check out only.  When he delves into the store's quirks more in depth, he finds there is even more than meets the eye in Mr. Penumbra's store.

I'm typically not one who's in to fantasy novels, but I am obsessed with stories that have fantastical elements that could be happening in our lives right now, and we don't know it.

What's your read of the week?

**If you click on the book cover and purchase the book through Amazon, I get a few pennies of the sale.  If you check it out from your library, it's free, and I don't get anything, but I'm super stoked that you're supporting your library.  :)**

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Race Report: Harrisburg 10k

Ahhh... racing.  It's been awhile.  Six months, in fact, and a year+ since I have been in any semblance of racing shape.  I originally signed up for this 10k, because my super awesome friend Tom is the race director, and I knew it would be an awesomely fun day.  I chose the 10k because I knew I wouldn't have any 5k speed, and that a 10k tempo run would be a good workout for me.  I have been running fairly consistently for about four weeks prior to the race, so I wasn't really sure what to expect.  Most runs have been slow and steady, no speed.

Prior to the race I checked with Jenn to see what she thought I was capable of, since I really had no clue.  She suggested I start conservatively 10 or slightly under, for the first 5k, and then race the last 5k, hopefully run around 9 flat for that half.  Sounds about right.  When Megan texted me about her stellar tempo run, I made it my business to know her tempo paces because we're right around the same speed/shape currently.  Her 9-9:15 paces made me think that Jenn's idea was a good one.

Race morning:  I left the apartment and it was misting slightly.  NBD.  I drive to Harrisburg and its raining hard.  NBD a lot of time before the race.  I pick up my packet and am told that the school that we're at was the one that was UNDER WATER two weeks ago because of flooding.  The "lake" next to the school is actually a flooded field.  It continues to rain.  At times, pour.

Finally 15 minutes before the race started I set out for a warm up.  Brrr...... I ran a solid .25 miles and called it good.  I felt a little silly stripping down to my shorts and lightweight tank when everyone else was in pants, long sleeves, turtlenecks, multiple layers, stocking hats.  WTF.  I just kept telling myself I'd warm up after a mile like always, and I would NOT want to have any extra sopping wet clothes on me.  Folks ambled up to the line and no one was really going to the actual starting line except two dudes.... me and another few chicks lined up several feet behind them.  It was the weirdest start ever, but it was chip timed, so I wasn't too concerned about being RIGHTUPFRONT.  Also, I'm just running HARD.

The gun goes off and wheeeeee!  Running is fun!

I look down a few blocks in and I'm running a 7:30 pace.  Holy shit.  I'm going to die.

I'm in 3rd (turns out I was in 4th, as I got 6th overall, I must've missed one of the chicas) for women and I make it a point to let up considerably and a chick flies by me.  My first mile clocks at 8:38 (um, sorry Jenn.  Not the warm up I had planned.)  But due to the super cool temps and rain my HR is extremely low and I'm not labored at all.  I have not run an 8:30 mile since May 2012.  Unless I clocked one in the Sioux Falls half last September.  Either way.  Uh oh.

(ETA:  I just looked up my stats from the Sioux Falls Half, and my final mile was an 8:38.  So that's creepy.)

Harrisburg is a pretty small town and we had to make a lot of twists and turns to get in a full 6.2 miles.  Because of the rain, every one of these turns was through flooded intersections.  The first few I hurdled over (turns out Jerbear still has some decent hurdling skills, FYI) and then quickly realized my feet were going to get wet regardless, and I was probably going to hurt myself if I continued.  Derp.

For the first 5k I followed a dude and there was a chick within striking distance of me.  I worked to not let the guy in front of me pull ahead at all, and kept an eye on the chick slowly creeping up on me.  As my pace was slowing, it was inevitable.  Mile 2 was 8:45.

Most of mile 3 was slowly reeling in the dude in front of me, as the chick behind me was doing the same.  She eventually passed me just as we were getting up to him, and he wasn't willing to let us both pass, and picked up the pace.  I was left in their dust.  My halfway split was 27:xx so I was hoping I could hold on and have something left for the finish to snag a sub 55.  I was thinking 55 would be my super awesome day goal, but expected to be closer to 57, so I was ecstatic that I was blowing my expectations out of the water.  Mile 3 was 8:57.

Mile 4 was attempting to not let the two in front of me get out of "striking distance."  Being a former sprinter, I like to think I have a stronger kick than some distance runners.  Spoiler alert:  My striking distance is somewhat non-existent at the moment.  :)  Mile 4 8:55.

Mile 5 I really started to lose some steam.  My effort level remained the same per my HR data, but I just could not get my legs to turn over any faster.  I really struggled with maintaining good form, and based on some IT band tightness on Sunday, I clearly failed a bit.  I was really proud of myself for continuing to work hard.  There was no one behind me for as far as the eye could see, and the folks in front of me had pulled away too far for me to ever catch, but I didn't stop working hard.  This is a major mental win for me.  Mile 5 9:14.

Ok, last 1.2, push!  Oh, this is pushing huh?  Ok.

We caught up to some 5k'ers the last half mile which helped to have someone else to race.

I "threw down the hammer (lolz)" the final .2 up the finishing stretch, and even felt somewhat vomity, so clearly I succeeded in that whole hard effort dealio.

Mile 6 9:15 .23 1:53 (8:17 pace).

I ended up with a 55:40, 6th female and 3rd in my AG.

So while this is a PW like the last 2 races I've ran, I'm actually ok with that.  I've only raced two other 10ks, and both were in peak shape.  My previous PW was on a super hot and humid day in July, and I was only about a minute slower than that.

Hopefully I can run even stronger my next 10k in a month!

**Major thanks to Sara who snapped these pics during the race.  :D

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pug Adoptaversary

Because Ollie is a rescue, we don't know how old she is or when her birthday is.  The vet estimated 5-6 a year ago.  I've decided that each year we'll do an adoptaversary celebration in lieu of a birthday.  (It's totes norms to do a birthday party for a pet, right?  Great.)  Well this past Saturday was Ollie's first adoptaversary.  I woke her up really early for breakfast.  Her favorite.  And then put her back in bed with her dad so I could get ready for my race.  And then because Kyle was still sleeping when I left, Ollie got a second breakfast when he woke up.  If there's one thing Ollie loves more than meal time, it's BONUS meal time.  Nom nom.

She came out to spectate me in the 10k even though she HATES rain with a fiery passion.  Kyle had to hold her/carry her the entire time they were outside because she wouldn't move.  Even more fun than race spectating is people spectating.  Ollie thinks every human was put on the planet to pet and love her.  :)

After the race, we spent a long time snuggling on the couch to warm me up, because I was a popsicle.  Then we ended up at Shop Dog, the new dog boutique in town, and Ollie surprised me with a necklace I have been wanting since I first spotted it on their instagram page.

Amazing, no?

We had big plans to go to the dog park and have fun, but the rain made that out of the question, so we did the next best thing.  Froyo.  I always get a dairy free froyo flavor for my bottom layer of froyo so Ollie can lick the bowl when I'm done.  Puggy froyo heaven.

We spent the day snuggling and playing together.  My little love bug.

And now some pics from the last year.

The day we first met to see if she'd like me and want to come live with me forever.

Adoption day!

Just seeing what she'd look like with long curly hairs.

Ollie's first race.  TEAM GREEN.

She's just so darn smily and happy. <3

Smooches before Kyle and I left on a date night.

When someone leaves a grocery cart in the hallway, you obviously put your pug in there like she's a child.  Obviously.

I'm so glad we found each other OG.  Love you.  (She subscribes to my blog obvs.  She has to have something to do while I'm at work all day besides napping.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Humidity+Running+Your Hair

Alternate title:  Long hurr don't curr... what?  That's no longer relevant?  Ok, moving on.

It's so secret that I have super long hippie hair.  It's also no secret that I live in super swampy air for 3-4 months of the year.  The degree of rat's nests I've had to work through post-run in the past few years of running is innumerable.  I learned early on that a simple ponytail doesn't cut it.

Exhibit A)  This was a straight, long and flowing pony pre-race.  Mile 8 of 13.1--rat's nest.  Also, this is my single favorite race photo EVER.

Over time, I learned to double pony, braid, or twist the pony to cut down on craziness.  But then, that no longer worked either on particularly sweaty/humid runs as my ponytail braid/twist would swell up to 5-6x its normal girth (heh that's a funny word) and would again be impossible to get out post-run.

Pre-run.  No way it wasn't quadruple the size by the end of the run.  Fail.

Have you ever spent 45 minutes in the shower post-run with a widetooth comb and half a bottle of conditioner doing the condition, comb, rinse, comb, repeat combo?  It's not fun.  Promise.

I progressed to the twist/braid and bun option, which helped.  But I have so much hair that it's hard to get it to not move while running, and a boppin' bun is super annoying.  Plus it gets really heavy if you're running for a long while.

When I was in Dallas for the HM in December, Dominique and I were waiting in the line for the porta potty, and the gal in front of us had some crazy pony tail situation going on with her naturally curly hair.  I tapped her on the shoulder to ask if that combatted the hair swelling/knotting while running and she said it did.

Since being a sloth for the first few months of the year, combined with freezing cold temps, i didn't really have a need to test out the new hair trick.  I didn't have to wait too long, as the humidity showed up a few weeks ago.  I decided to give it a go.

The before:

4 ponies total.  Also, ZOMG shiny/fab hair day!

The after:


The how:  braid or twist your pony.  Add in ponytail holders about every inch and a half the whole way down the pony.  Revel in your much shorter post-run shower.

Option B)  Cut your damn hippie hair for God's sake.

OR if you live in the land of no humidity, revel in that awesomeness.  Colorado and Vegas, I'm looking at you.  I swear I didn't even look like I had ran after the Wild West Relay and RnR Vegas Marathon.  Le sigh.

(Considering AR and I went out for drinks at the hotel bar post-race after throwing on compression socks, that should tell you how little one sweats in the desert.  Awesome blossom.)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

How to Make a Comeback

Once upon a time (roughly 2008), I swore off running.  It sucked.  I sucked at it.  And it wasn't fun anymore.  Flash forward a year, and I broke 2 hours in the half marathon for the first time, and took 26 minutes off my previous half marathon time from 2008.  Getting back in to shape sucked.  And I vowed to never stop running again, because --say it with me now-- getting back in to shape sucks.

Did I mention it sucks?

Oh.  Ok.

Well here I am again.  Apparently I can't even take my own advice.  If you've found yourself in a rut, or are way more out of shape that you swear you were about 15 seconds ago, perhaps you can glean some inspiration from the following*:

1.  Cut yourself some slack.  You are not going to be as fast as you were (insert date of last stellar race performance here).  It took you awhile to get out of stellar running shape, and it's going to take you awhile to get it back.  Further, if you *try* to run at some of these previous paces you will either a) be super discouraged at how OMG RUNNING IS HARD, those paces are and/or b) wind up injured.  If you end up with neither predicament, than clearly I hate you.

2.  Take some time off from the running watch.  Prior to two weeks ago, I had switched my garmin screen to no longer show me my current pace.  My focus was getting in some miles, and not to worry about how fast or slow (ok just slow) I was going.  If you can ditch the data altogether, do it.  I wanted my HR data, and I thrive on seeing progress in that, so checking my HR on the run and logging my overall time (to consult at later dates when I wasn't as slow as molasses) was enough to not drive me batty.

3.  Be smart.  If you haven't ran any speed workouts in a few months, probably best to not start running a tempo run and interval workout in the same week.  If your longest run has been 4-5 miles, it's probably not smart to jump to a 10 mile long run.  If you haven't been running AT ALL, probably not best to run 7 days a week and/or 30-40 mpw.  Again, if you can do this, and not end up broken, I hate you.  :)  The 10% rule is a good one to follow.  If you're injury prone, I'd err on the side of caution **waves white flag in defeat on this one**.  My marathon training starts in mid-July.  I calculated the number of weeks I had prior to starting to see where my weekly mileage would have to start in order to increase by 10% (or less) a week, and still be where I needed to be for training to start.  If the math doesn't add up, you should probably alter your training program.

4.  Reward yourself.  Preferably not with food.  Uh...ooops.  Guilty.  Kyle works at a sporting goods store, and for the first time in the 2.5 years we've been dating he didn't use his monthly discount.  Surely I could use some adorable new running clothes right?  A few new running tanks had me feeling ready to run.  If I keep up my training, a bright green pair of Pro Compression socks have my name on them at the end of the month (I think it was kismet that the socks I've been eyeing are June's sock o' the month, and are 40% off with code NEON).  Duh, team green.  (Side note:  I heart my Pro Compression socks and am in no way affiliated with them, or being compensated for this mention.)

5.  Make goals.  Both short and long.  Short term:  I want to run consistent mileage.  I want to look forward to most runs (I'll probably always dread certain hard workouts, such is life).  I want to keep up with my stretches, foam rolling, etc. to stay healthy.  And I'd like to be back to normal-ish paces by the time marathon training starts (4 weeks?  5 weeks?).  Long term:  Stay healthy and finally make some progress on some long standing PRs.  Namely the half in September and full in November.

6.  Make running fun.  Make running dates with friends.  Make a super fab-o running playlist.  I made a playlist for my long run this past weekend that had an assortment of running songs from back when I *was* running well.  It made ALL the difference on the run.  I swear it flew by and was 95% effortless.  It's been awhile since I've been able to say that.  Plan a fun race weekend with friends.  I run for the camaraderie.

7.  Celebrate your progress.  A long run that feels effortless?  Pat on the back.  A general aerobic run that's at a decent pace and right on HR target?  Self-high five!  Another mile tacked on to your LR from last week?  Kudos.  Highest weekly mileage of 2013?  Huzzah!  (yes, that may have been me last week) and will likely continue to be me.

*Caveat:  Obviously a comeback of full blown injury proportion would and should require way more than this general "go get 'em!" inspirationz.

Anything I'm missing?  If not, feel free to give me your INSPURASHUNAL words regarding your comeback so I can feed off your awesomeness and give my own a break for a minute.  :)

Oh, and here's a random picture of me post-run where I SWEAR it looks like I'm enjoying running again.  #proof or whatever the kids these days are saying.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pug Bestie: Part Deux

I work in a library.  Librarians are known for being "crazy cat ladies."  But not me.  I'm a crazy pug lady.  And I fully admit that.  And embrace that.  If I could rescue every pug (and a couple of french bulldogs, because OMG is there anything cuter than a little frenchie face??? save for a pug, obvs) on the planet in need of a home, I would do it in a heartbeat.  I just have so much love for little puggies in my heart, and there are so many out there that *need* that love.  I might as well give it, amiright?

For the past year I've been contemplating getting a second pug.  Pugs are extremely social and bond very strongly with other animals and pugs especially.  There are two pugs in the apartment complex, and Ollie is obsessed with the male, Rasputin (and ok, so am I, his face is just PRESH).  So naturally I want to give her a little brother (of the pug variety, no bebes here plz).  I had been telling myself that I might get a second pug for my graduation gift to myself (August 3rd, in case anyone is counting down.  Just me?  Ok, that's cool).

But then I got a text message from an old co-worker last Thursday that said something to the effect of "OMG THERE'S A BLACK MALE PUG AT THE HUMANE SOCIETY, GO GET HIM NOW!"


I checked out his profile, and he was, indeed, adorable.  Four years old, potty trained, and trained with basic commands (already one-upping Ollie, because Ollie only knows her left and right paws--when I ask her to lift them to put her harness on for walks, how to give kisses on command, and how to "scoot a cheek, geek" when she's sitting in my or Kyle's spot on the couch).  The family gave him up because they didn't have time for him.  Le sigh.


I jokingly told my boss that I needed to leave work for a "family emergency."  I called Kyle and told him that Ollie, Max and I would be waiting for him when he got home from work.  But of course I didn't leave work early.  And at 3:30pm I called to see if he was still available and he'd been adopted.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaaah. :'(

I told Ollie all about him on Thursday and she seemed pretty upset to not get her very own pug bestie.  But I'm sure that means there'll be another one, hopefully soon.  Until then, Ollie will just have to settle with me as her bestie (I think she's ok with it, no worries).