Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Weekly Reads: Belzhar

I recently read Belzhar , written by Meg Wolitzer, as recommended as a potential candidate for the Printz award. I've read a book by Meg Wolitzer previously, and wasn't a huge fan, but I didn't hold that against her while reading this one. Belzhar is also her first dance with a YA novel.

I absolutely loved this book. I started it on my lunch break and felt utterly transported. To that time in high school when all of your emotions are felt with 1000x the normal force, and love is LOVE in 96 point font written on a skyscraper, and loss is the end of your existence. I just devoured the book.

Looking at the reviews, it seems that people are either completely infatuated with it as I am, or thinks it's terrible. Who are those people?!? So maybe it's not everyone's cup of tea, but man I really liked it.

My rating: 5 stars.

Summary from goodreads:

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

From New York Times bestselling author Meg Wolitzer comes a breathtaking and surprising story about first love, deep sorrow, and the power of acceptance.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Aramco Houston Half Marathon Training Weeks 3 and 4

Monday morning started the way I prefer, with gentle vinyasa yoga. This is my favorite class each week, because the instructor is amazing and I learn so much. She goes through many common vinyasa poses and preaches form corrections and common errors throughout. I always learning something new, and I love that.

Tuesday I had the day off due to Veteran's Day so I treated myself to an ass kicking Power Vinyasa class. I won the sweatiest yogi award, per usual.

I had a really rough week stress wise, so despite my best efforts, I did nothing Wednesday through Saturday. My sleep schedule was all messed up, and I've been having some serious stomach issues, probably due to stress. Blech.

I jumped on the treadmill for a run on Sunday and made it one mile before I called it quits.

I went to a restorative yoga class later in the evening, and that worked to hit my reset button a little bit.

Monday morning I went to my beloved gentle vinyasa class and learned a lot about twists. It was amazing.

Tuesday I opted to forgo Power Vinyasa to work on my NaNoWriMo novel. I got caught up on my word count, but I missed going to class. 

Wednesday night Kyle magically got a night off from work, so a date night was far more important than working out, obvs. 

Thursday and Friday were super cold and no classes fit my schedule so I was lazy.

But Saturday, yay Saturday! After much convincing I got Kyle to come with me to a power vinyasa yoga class and he did awesome. I told him he couldn't look at any other fab yogi booties, and I'm sure he listened. :P
Later in the day I headed downtown for the 605 Running Co. group Beer run. It was a blast and go figure, I ended up winning a gift card for the store after I had purchased two new shirts before the group run. I guess I'll have to wait for some new Oiselle stuff to come in to splurge. :)

So despite this saying weeks 3 and 4 of half marathon training, clearly I'm still focusing more on strengthening and stretching muscles that have caused me to have injury issues. I am feeling stronger and able to maintain good form for longer, but I feel like my endurance is starting to suffer. Hopefully it won't take too long to get back on track!

Monday, November 24, 2014

NaNoWriMo Progress Continued

Because I'm sure you're all waiting on the edge of your streets to see how my NaNoWriMo project is going since my last post, here it is:

November 14th was a monster writing day for me. I had the day off from work for Saturday and was determined to get caught up! I started the day with a 686 word 20 min sprint. I followed this up with a 1182 30 min sprint. Later I hit 708 words during a 20 min sprint and then another 600 during 20 min sprint, leaving me with 4400 for the day. I also hit the 25,000 word mark earning myself another badge! This put me ahead of pace by one measly day.

And I used that buffer on the 15th by taking a writing "rest day".

On the 16th I got in a measly 500ish words, and another 700 on the 17th.

On the 18th I had a big goal of hitting 30k words and I got there with a 469 word 20 min sprint,  a 915 30 minute sprint, and a 998 20 minute sprint. I ended up hitting 2848 words for the day and hitting my goal. Wahoo!

So naturally I took the 19th off and wrote nothing. Ugh.

On the 20th I wrote about 1200 words, and followed that with zero on the 21st.

The 22nd was a major catch up day and I easily knocked out 1000 words in the 30 minutes I had  before going to yoga. After yoga I hit 978 words in a 30 minute sprint and 5400 words total for the day. By far my best writing day so far!

Sunday the 23rd I struggled for motivation to write, which I'm noticing happens the day after my monster writing days. It's almost like I need to write everyone day or something. I did manage to write 1100 words to get me up to my word goal for the day.

I hope to hit 40k on Monday and hopefully finish up before Sunday the 30th, but I might need every last minute. We'll see!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Weekly Reads (Listens): Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

When I first heard that NPH was coming out with an autobiography, Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography, I immediately put it on my to-read list. When I found out it was a choose your own adventure format, I was even more excited. And then when I learned that NPH himself was narrating the audiobook version, I died on the spot. JK, I didn't. But I did put in a purchase request to my library to order the audiobook. Wait for it.... best decision ever.

This was freakin' amazing. His narration was amazing. The way he tells his story is amazing. I somehow finished the book loving him even more than I already did. Buy this in audio. Buy this in print. You won't regret either.

My rating: 5 stars

Summary from goodreads:

Tired of memoirs that only tell you what really happened?
Sick of deeply personal accounts written in the first person? Seeking an exciting, interactive read that puts the “u” back in “aUtobiography”? Then look no further than Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography! In this revolutionary, Joycean experiment in light celebrity narrative, actor/personality/carbon-based-life-form Neil Patrick Harris lets you, the reader, live his life. You will be born to New Mexico. You will get your big break at an acting camp. You will get into a bizarre confrontation outside a nightclub with actor Scott Caan. Even better, at each critical juncture of your life you will choose how to proceed. You will decide whether to try out for Doogie Howser, M.D. You will decide whether to spend years struggling with your sexuality. You will decide what kind of caviar you want to eat on board Elton John’s yacht.

Choose correctly and you’ll find fame, fortune, and true love. Choose incorrectly and you’ll find misery, heartbreak, and a hideous death by piranhas. All this, plus magic tricks, cocktail recipes, embarrassing pictures from your time as a child actor, and even a closing song. Yes, if you buy one book this year, congratulations on being above the American average, and make that book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Spring Marathon?

Last year when Krista did Grandma's Marathon, I vowed that I'd be doing it for 2015. My training cycle for Bemidji taught me that I still have some form issues and muscle imbalances that I need to tend to before I attack another big training cycle. The flights to Duluth are currently $900+ and I just don't know if I can hack the long drive on my own.

[Edited to add: I googled the drive length and was surprised to learn it's a little less than 6.5 hours, instead of the 9+ I had thought it was. Hmmm.....]

I tend to reserve the spring season for half marathons and shorter races because it's prime racing season around here, albeit it's a pain to train through the brutal winters. I like the idea of Grandma's because it's not until mid-June.

The other idea I was tossing around was an abbreviated training cycle. One of my best training cycles was for the Philadelphia Marathon when I was in amazing half marathon shape, and did a six week training cycle, one 16, 18, and 20 and it was taper time. It worked great because there was no time for excuses and it didn't wreck my body. I just got in the distance to know that I could complete 26.2 on race day, but not week after week after week of 3 hour runs to cause me injuries.

So that's the crazy idea I'm currently tossing around. There are seven weeks between the Brookings Half and Grandma's, allowing me a recovery week and then the short cycle. I still have plenty of time to decide, but if I find myself jealous of everyone's long-long runs once this spring rolls around, I'm glad I have a plan.

Now to start convincing Susan, Alyssa and others to join me.....

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaNoWriMo Progress

I started off NaNoWriMo with a bang. I was ready early for work on November 1st, so I sat down and got rolling. I had 250 words written before I was off to work to host a kickoff at my library. I came home incredible inspired and attended some online nano chats that were doing some sprints, and before too long I was just over 2k words for the day.

November 2nd I was up super early because of DST, and I spent an hour writing before the NYCM coverage kicked in. After the race started, I wrimo'd during commercials. I hit my word goal before the race was over. Wahoo, this writing stuff is easy! I picked up my laptop yet again after dinner, determined to earn my 5k badge. Badge earned, wahoo! So I rewarded myself with some blog writing. Which apparently you're not supposed to do in November, because it's "wasting words." Oops.

November 3rd I was again up early because of the time change, so I quickly banged out a thousand words before I went to yoga, and somehow managed to knock out 700 words in 20 minutes before work on November 4th. Thanks again time change!

November 5th and 6th were my first days were I fell behind the daily word count total nullifying my giant word count cushion from the weekend, I wrote about 800 words each day.

November 7th was my first thought of quitting NaNoWriMo, and I text Krista as such. She told me no and to get going. We did a little 20-25 minute sprint, and 900 words later I felt back on track! I did some more writing until Kyle came home from work and got myself caught up to only being one day (1667 words) behind. I also hit a wordcount milestone and earned myself a badge.


Saturday morning I got up and couldn't decide if I wanted to go to yoga. On one hand, if I have a good chunk of time to write, I tend to find something else to do, but if I only give myself a little bit of time, I can crank out the words. I hit 1200 words in under an hour and decided my award would be some Vinyasa yoga. I came home and showered and sat down for some sprints. I hit 560 words during a 15 minute sprint, and a whopping 1491 words during a 25-30 minute sprint. My new PR. And with that I was back ahead of the word count goal game, ever so slightly!  I ended the day with about 3900 words written.

Sunday's goal was to get to ~18000 words to put me at an average of 2k/day. I wasn't nearly as motivated as I was on Saturday though. I did manage 979 words during a 30 minute sprint but nothing else to crazy. I think I hit 3300 for the day, and was just shy of my 18000 word goal.

Monday I had a weird work schedule, resulting in working from 5:30-9pm. You would think that I had spent all day writing, but you'd be wrong. Luckily once the final hours of my "day off" were trickling away I sat down with some writing motivation and knocked out 1800 words. After work I was further motivated by being OH SO CLOSE to 20k words so I spent some more time plunking down words on my laptop to hit 20k! Wahoo!! And this resulted in my first 2k+ average daily word count. Whoop. I hit almost 2600 words for the day.

Ollie helped. Obvs.

Tuesday I had the day off for Veteran's Day so after a glorious power vinyasa class, I sat down to write with a delicious Coffea latte in my hand. Now if that beast isn't writing motivation, I'm not sure what is!  I hit just shy of 2100 words for the day.

Wednesday And Thursday I took the days off from writing. Still slightly on track to finish on time!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Happy 50k Birthday Megan

Last Saturday I got to spend the evening with my dear friend Megan celebrating her day of birth. Clearly we need to teach her hubby some paparazzi skills because we got a sad amount of photos out of the evening!

We started out the evening at dinner, and Otto and I coordinated our nerdy outfits/accessories, natch. He's quite possibly the cutest little baby in the world, and every time I'd smile at him I'd get a huge toothy grin back from him. Looooove.

Then we got to enjoy some desserts and drinks while listening to some live piano music. (And take poorly lit photos.)

And since it was gorgeous out, we were able to hoof it to some other places without freezing to death. And then Kyle was nice enough to join us after work and give me a ride home. Sweet man.

Did I mention Taco Bell drive thru made an appearance as well? Because it did. Yum.

Can you tell I had just woken Ollie up for this photo? Sleepy baby.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Weekly Reads (Listens): The Rosie Project

  While scanning edelweiss for new e-ARC books, I saw the sequel to The Rosie ProjectThe Rosie Effect, available (coming out in December, review to come!). I read the summary and remembered that one of my goodreads friends didn't like it. I thought it was Renee because I thought I remember her saying she only read it because her dog's name was Rosie. Well lo and behold, I pulled up her review and she loved it, and so did all my goodreads friends. Who the heck thought this was a bad book? Was it a different book with Rosie in the title?!! Am I loosing my mind?

I picked it up on audiobook and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the narrator. I enjoyed running my errands just because I wanted to listen to the narrator more. And the story was great too. Quirky, clever, funny. I loved it.

I'd highly recommend this to anyone who likes clever love stories, and I can't wait for the sequel.

My rating: 4.5 stars.

Summary from goodreads:

An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Aramco Houston Half Marathon Training Week 2

I started off the week the right way but attending a gentle vinyasa class. It was awesome and the instructor explained all of the poses super in depth, which was great. My left hip flexor has been incredibly tight lately (in all honestly it's probably always tight, but I'm noticing it more with all the yoga I'm doing) so I was pretty happy when it was loosened up after the class. Five minutes in pigeon pose will do that for you.

I went out to run a few quick miles before having to shower and head to work. I ran a 10:00 first mile and then had major stomach problems so I cut the run short and ended up walking it in.

Wednesday I rushed to 605 Running Co. after work to meet up for the weekly group run. It was so dark on the bike trails, and we were guided by the light of the almost full moon, and luckily a dude with a headlamp. I actually got to run with people this week, so it was a little slower due to talking and also the super dark trail.

From there, I rushed to the yoga studio for 60 minutes of restorative yoga. My bliss. 

Saturday I went to power vinyasa and had a blast. A lot of great flows, and a lot of arm balances that I'm not yet prepared for, but love to watch and attempt to absorb some of the technique. I was a puddle of sweat afterward. Wowsers.

Sunday I had big plans to go to yoga sculpt followed by a restorative class, but my stomach had other ideas. I've had a lot of allergy issues with my stomach lately. If anyone knows where my reset button is, feel free to let me know so I can use it!

So I guess these gorg new crops and awesome yoga mat will have to wait for a new day to be played with. Sniffle.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Birthday Run

A few years back, Krista did a birthday run, where throughout the day, she ran a mile for every year she'd been alive (I don't remember which birthday it was) but I've always thought it was the coolest idea. A couple of years ago, Jenn did the same thing and did 26 miles throughout the day. ON A TREADMILL. Whoa.

I've always wanted to do this and possibly "train" to do this, but with my birthday being the day after Christmas, it's hard to commit to doing this not knowing what the weather would be. I could *not* run on a treadmill for the miles (kudos to Jenn).

Is this insane?

What would the breakdown be? 15/10/6? 14/10/7?

That'd be a solid 5-6 hours of running, not to mention showering after. Hmm....

Feel free to chime in on your thoughts. I'd definitely like to do this some year if not for 31, but every year I wait it's just more miles!

Katy Perry singing Birthday in Fargo.

Edited to add: Since thinking of this harebrained scheme, I've been running a lot less and working on my strength and flexibility issues, so unless some magical things happen with my running mileage over the next month it'd be d-u-m-b dumb to attempt this, but I STILL want to do it some year so I'd appreciate feedback. :)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Auto PR Goal Race

When I was plotting out my training for the Aramco Houston Half Marathon, I checked the area running calendar for local races to consider. I found a Thanksgiving morning race that is low frills, no shirt, no timing chip, and the suggested race fee or hygiene package donation goes directly to The Banquet that serves individuals in my community that are in need. Win, win!

They have a 1 mile, 3 mile, and 6 mile course as well as a newly added bike course, so I decided a 6 mile race would be great: auto PR! But beyond that, it lets me spend a month focusing on speed work before I really start concentrating on the Houston Half.

My training program leading up to the 6 miler is fairly low in mileage since I'm still working on some form issues, and want to be sure that I don't get injured, but I also have some 800s in there! Whoa, long time no see!

I also think that focusing on this shorter race for a month will make the half training cycle not seem as long. Once this race is done, I have less than two months until the half! Oh, and it doesn't hurt that I've never raced a 6 miler, so this'll be an auto PR. Yay!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

There's No Place Like the Library

For Halloween, my co-workers and I decided to dress up as characters from the Wizard of Oz, being the only brunette that works full time at the branch, I was given the roll of Dorothy. Wahoo!

Interesting fun fact: I used to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" every night before bed when I was a little kid. A lot of my co-workers are anti-costumes, so I was pretty proud of them for what they pulled together for the day. And the kids loved it.

We just happened to have a Wizard of Oz themed program the previous weekend and had a yellow brick road photo background made. It made for the perfect photo backdrop for us.

The Tinman and I. I hope we get to take many many co-worker costume pics together Emily!

And me, with my ruby red children's sized 5 slippers that killed my feet. All in the name of Halloween.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Weekly Reads: The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances

Almost everyone knows of The Oatmeal blog, and nearly every runner does as well with the explosion of his comics "Running Your First Marathon" and "The Blerch" and the race series that has come from the blerch. So being an avid blog reader and runner, I had to get my hands on a copy of The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. It did not disappoint. There were some familiar cartoons from the blog, and there were new comics I hadn't seen before, but familiar LOLZ all around. This would make an awesome gift for an running fiend, and is great for non-runners to read to better understand their insane running sibling/partner/friend/etc./etc.

And bonus: The book comes with two stickers for your car. Since I had my library's copy, I didn't take them, although I really really really really wanted to.

My rating: 4.5 stars

Summary from goodreads:

"All runners wonder, at some point or another, why we do what we do. Mr. Inman's explanation is the best I've ever seen. And the funniest. Because he is clinically insane."
-Mark Remy, editor at large, Runner's World, author of The Runner's Rule Book

"He runs. He sweats. He heaves. He hates it. He loves it. He runs so hard his toenails fall off. He asks himself, why? Why do I do this? Here, gorgeously, bravely, hilariously, is Matt's deeply honest answer."
-Robert Krulwich, NPR

"Finally! A voice that sings with the Blerches of angels!"
-Christopher McDougall, author of Born to Run

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Aramco Houston Half Marathon Training Week 1

Well, as anticipated, yoga sculpt destroyed my will to live. And also my legs. And butt. I spent Monday and Tuesday limping around. And popping ibuprofen. 

I had planned to take an additional rest day on Wednesday but it was such a nice day I had to meet up for the group run. I had enough time to do a quick foam rolling session and that helped a bit. The group was planning to run 3 miles so I just stuck with the slowest in the group and went with a tempo-ish pace. On the way back, the last duo in the group decided to cut some mileage off the 3 miles, so then I really had to pick up the pace because I wasn't sure how to get back and wanted to catch someone to follow. Eeps! Surprisingly, my legs felt even better after the run than they did before. And I got to pick up my run club race tank. Whoop! #teamgreen

Thursday I toyed around with doing my long run for the way since I had the day off for the weekend, and also going to the group trail run. My running friend said that the group trail run is usually at an 8:40 pace, so I decided that would be a recipe for brokenness based on the previous day's speedy-ish run. After foam rolling my legs, the long run was also out. Then I saw that Elf was on tv, so I did a 3 mile recovery run on the treadmill in my apartment. And 5 minutes in both of the overhead lights blew out, and the overhead fans powered down. Luckily the treadmill, box fan, and tv (with Elf) weren't effected. Random.

Friday after work, Kyle and I enjoyed a much needed date night, which trumped any sort of workout. Oops. Saturday I worked all day and it was the NaNoWriMo kick off, so I was itching to get home and write write write as soon as I was off work! The 40+mph winds did nothing to dissuade me from this task.Sunday I had planned to do my long run (10 miles) when I realized that my time would be better spent strengthening. Smart runner Jerbear is awarded 1 gold star. After thinking about it, I realized that the month of November would be better spent taking strengthening yoga classes and keeping my runs in the 3-4 mile range with long runs topping out at 5-7. I know my form starts to fail as my legs get tired, so I'm hoping that the long runs are short enough I can actually focus on my form, and that with some concentrated strengthening, I'll be tacking on miles to the long run distance once December rolls around.So I hit up yoga sculpt. And got my booty handed to me. It was waaaaay hot. At least twice as many people as last week, and the temperature reflected that. Woof.  

Monday, November 3, 2014

October in Review + Goals

October in Review

Total Miles: 40.8 down from 57.4 last month.  Down from 82.8 last October. 

Total Time:  7:48:11 down from 10:38:32 last month. 

Total Runs: 6 for an average of 6.8 miles/run. If you factor the marathon out, my average run is 2.92 miles which is way more accurate. :P

Highest weekly mileage: 10/7-10/13 29.1 miles 5:43:35

Favorite run: Group run at 605 Running Co, first speedy (for me) run back after 26.2.

Most hardcore run: Didn't really have one, between the mega taper for the marathon and recovery. The group run was "hard-ish" but I wouldn't say hardcore at all.

Favorite race: The pretty and zen moments of Bemidji Marathon. Not the suckfest parts.

Bike Miles: 0.

Yoga Classes: 3

Favorite Jam: Taylor Swift's Out of the Woods. On repeat over here. 

October Goals
  • Enjoy as much of 26.2 miles as I can in Bemidji.
    • When the miles get tough, believe in myself and my abilities.
  • Recover.
  • Attend a group run/week after recovering. 1/1
  • 1 buddy run or ride a week. Considering I only ran 1/week during my two weeks of recovering, this is a big no.
  • Fitness class challenge! I'm well on my way!