Let’s get visual, visual

If that title doesn’t make you sing Olivia Newton John the rest of today then your brain and my brain are wired very differently.

I’m singing that 80s-hit-that-no-one-understands because I’m trying something with training and the planning that goes into a big race. Because I’ve discovered in the last couple of years that I really do well with paper visual aids. At work when I’m reviewing a big document I nearly always print at least part of it. When I’m working out a tough problem or searching for the right words, I’ll pace and toss around a wiffle ball/bat – my co-workers always worry I’m going to take a swing, but I haven’t been tempted. Yet.

I think all this visual/physical interpretation comes from the quarter of me that’s Italian. Or at least I tell myself this. I’m a hand talker. I don’t understand people who aren’t. What do you do with your hands while you’re talking?? Just let them lay there? It confuses me. This is also why anything beyond calc 1 and 2 in college would have destroyed me. How can math lead to theoretical points in theoretical space that isn’t actually space??? All of this makes me wonder about my approach to training. With all the modern conveniences of technology I track all of my training online. It works out pretty well. My google doc that has all my workouts is easy to access from anywhere. And my Garmin and RunKeeper keep my stats and running routes. Plus connect me to other active friends. My running group is virtual. I communicate primarily through Facebook or email. But with all that virtualness, it’s easy to say “tomorrow” to say “oh, my schedule is moveable” and sneak into my spreadsheet and cut/paste cells left and right. Which let’s me come up with excuses. Not this time. No sir.

This time I’ve printed my schedule. I’ve hung it up. I bought red and green markers.I’ve taped it to the wall.

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I’m set.

I want this training to be a priority. I want it to go well. To do that, I can’t slack off. I have to do the cross training – and not just half assing it on the elliptical. I need to do the rest of the workouts. I need to run. On schedule. I’m running this race with so many friends. And after the last hot mess of a race, I know I won’t have as much fun if I go into the race wishing I had trained better. So there it is. 24 weeks in black and white (plus 2 weeks of recovery). And blue and orange and yellow. And already 3 green days!! Let’s hope there’s a lot more green that shows up. No. Not hope. Let’s WATCH more green show up!

Hearts and runnerding

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It’s Happening Again

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Back in October 2012, I received an email from Nicole at Lifelessbullshit.com telling her followers about a half marathon training plan and group she was putting together. I signed up so fast I can’t even tell you. I looked at all the training materials and realized I was woefully under prepared for half marathon at the end of that month. I decided to DNS that one and plan my next.

Fast forward 18 months and I’ve run a half marathon with the plan and made (what I suspect) lifelong internet friends. When I crossed the finish line of my first half which went less than awesomely, I didn’t say “never again” but I did say “Not again for a while”. It would appear that a “while” is one year and 3 weeks. Because I pulled the trigger this morning.

Half Mara Reg

That’s right. My registration finger got itchy and I signed up for the LA Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in October. Eep. Nicole emailed out about running this thing with our group and I emailed two of my virtual runner friends Kathy and Rachel to ask “are you doing this thing, I’m 98.9% I am.” You see, I’ve been trying to meet these women for more than a YEAR! We’ve been running together virtually, cheering each other on after successes big and small (good run days and half marathon finish lines), and commiserating over injury or bad weather or any other little thing. And though I would have probably gone either way because I love my running group, I was really hoping I’d get to meet these two (and Nicole!) finally. This running group has been amazing. And I think probably all of my facebook friends and IRL friends would agree, because I have a single place where I can go and talk about running non-stop and I don’t bore them with every little detail about fueling and watering and being bored or exhilarated by a route (except Jennie. She has to listen to it no matter what. Of course, I listen to her too. So it works out). And now I have an opportunity to run with these people that I’ve been talking to online forever. Our emails went back and forth a little and then I woke up yesterday to a message from Rachel “So…we’re doing this? ARE WE DOING THIS? YOU GUYS!” And A) I was in. 100% and B) the 0 to 13.1 bull shit free runners are the best. This email, of course, sent us into a tizzy of emails flying back and forth all day, a happy dance in my cube, and so much excitement I had to sit down for a minute. Because, you guys? It is on.

I am so unbelievably excited to finally meet people I’ve been cheering on/being cheered on by virtually for more than a year. And it feels good to be training for another big race. Good. And also scary. I don’t want a repeat of that last race. I don’t want to let myself train poorly again. I want this to be an unbelievably fun weekend. And only a well prepared for race will get me there. So it’s back to spreadsheets, a better dedication to eating well, and a slightly higher rate of saying no to drinks. Slightly. I still have a summer of Sox games and patio drinks to get through.

The race is In 24 weeks. Uh. What? I guess I should put down the beers, un-bury my Garmin, and pound some pavement. Has anyone seen my body glide?

Hearts and half marathons!

My brain is too cold to come up with a title

HOW IS IT STILL COLD?????

Ok. That’s over. Well. Not over. Because I think it might never be warm again. I probably say this every year on April 30. But good grief. I’m still running on a treadmill because it’s cold and though 42 is way way better than, say, 4, we’ve had some warmth here for a few days (I even had a sunroof open) before it was yanked away. And temperature is relative. So 42 is awful. Straight up. Still. I got my run in. And it was 84% great and 16% I-want-to-die-why-do-I-run-again? This would probably be a 94/6 if it was outside. But I guess I can give up on that. It probably would have been 77/23 if Ok Go’s “Here We Go Again” didn’t come on. That song has the perfect beat and the music video is with treadmills. Fitting for my run today. If only I had as much fun as they did.

I’m trying to stick to my training plan more closely than the last time around (oh, 2013 half marathon, you were such a bummer. Let’s never do that again mmk?). This means that yesterday I did squats and walking lunges and modified deadlifts and calf raises. I woke up this morning and was trying to figure out why my legs wouldn’t work. Then I remembered my work out yesterday. Damn. I stretched pre run, ran, and then went to stretch post run (following the program!) but when I sat on the floor to pull up my cool down stretch plan, I couldn’t sit with my legs outstretched in front of me. A day of running up and down to the 2nd floor office is going to be awesome. Just as awesome as swinging by Jennie’s before work and climbing two flights of stairs. The stairs aren’t all that awful (yes they are) but the worst WORST part is that the top stair is a solid 2-3 inches taller than ALL the other steps. So you finally get up there and your last step has to be GIANT. I think every time I’ve gone over there I’ve had to pause at the top of her steps to let my muscles unsieze. This morning I had to hold to the railing for fear of toppling back down them. In the pouring rain. The cold cold pouring rain

Yes. The weather again. Apparently I refuse to get over it. I’m wearing a fall/winter sweater and scarf in protest of the cold. I had been trying to wear bright springy things to bring on the warmth but that wasn’t working and I just give up. I’m glad because it was freezing inside the locker room at the gym and when I finally put my sweater on, feeling returned to my fingers. The cool temperature of the gym locker room is a double edged sword. It’s awesome from an exercise perspective. I already sweat into my eyes on a regular basis. No need for it to be warmer. And if I didn’t have the locker room to cool down in it would be a week before I could get in the shower and feel like I’m not going to be still sweating after. But coming out of the shower? So not awesome. It’s a race to see how quickly I can get clothes on. I trudged out of the gym and said a lot of swear words at the rain on the way to my car. And coffee.

As a deal with myself, any day I make it to the gym/run/workout in the morning, I can stop at Starbucks for a latte. It helps motivate and also keep my latte numbers down at a manageable level. My closest Starbucks is in a Target. I needed a couple things so I squeezed in 5 minutes of shopping. It seems Target got the memo that it’s still cold and cranked the heat up. By the time I rolled up to the Starbucks counter I was starting to sweat again. Influenced by this, I bought an iced coffee. I was happy about this decision until I got to the door to see that along with the cold, the skies had opened up and it was pouring. Then I wished for hot coffee. Well, really my warm bed and flannel jams. But I’m not sure my boss would be on board with that plan.

I guess I’m just going to sit here huddled in my office fleece and think about warm things. Anybody got a left over marathon space blanket they’re not using?

Hearts and sunshine.

Because if the sun doesn’t start shining Ima cut someone.

Ugh, my back. It’s a butthead. So is winter.

Wow. Well. Yeah. I haven’t blogged in a while. It’s a confluence of things. But mostly I’m blaming winter. I become the worst kind of runner in winter. Meaning I don’t run. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned; the best way to be a runner is consistency. Case in point, I ran about 3 times in February and then showed up for a little 3 miler in my home city. The race was awesome and I bombed into the finish chute passing a woman to do it. (I also passed about 40 people running up a hill!) My Facebook post to my running group was all sunshine and rainbows and I was pumped for the next race in the series. Fast forward 48 hours and I’m getting ready in the morning. I shower, dry my hair (which involves bending over), and then putting on a little make-up. Suddenly and without warning my back seized and I was right back to where I was last summer. On the DL “until the pain went away”. And there wasn’t a damn thing I could do to heal faster.

I still went to the gym a couple times a week for the bike, but not nearly as much as I should have. And I basically hid under heated blankets. Because it just wouldn’t get warmer. But then 5 weeks had passed. And my back was feeling sort of ok. And a co-worker who is also coming back from an injury offered to go run at a 1:30min run 1 min walk interval. And I thought that sounded like a good way to restart running. So I said “sure!” And we ran. And then I waited. I could have probably gone running but some part of me wasn’t ready to get all gung ho back into yet. I think I was probably a little afraid that I’d get excited, go for a 2nd run in a week and then reinjure myself and be 76 kinds of sad and stir crazy. ESPECIALLY now that the sun is up after work, temperatures are rising, and there is green along the Charles instead of dirty white.

Fast forward a week and I’ve gone on two runs this week and one gym session. It should be 3 and 2, but let’s use baby steps, okay? Of course I got up on this Sunday morning, dog sitting for Charlotte, and headed out on my run along the Charles. And damn if it wasn’t gorgeous and soul soothing and hells yes, someone find me a manatee to hug perfect.

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I mean, the water was flowing (no ice!), I could run right down by the water (no ice!), the sun felt warm (Earth tilt!), crew teams were out (no ice!), and people were everywhere. Of course it’s early April so as I sit here 6 hours later my face is on fire with wind burn. And I was in long sleeves and a winter hat. But it was outside and not a pile of death. I’d like to say I’m someone who got out there all winter, but my half marathon sort of killed my running spirit and it was so brutally cold that I just couldn’t find the motivation. Continued amazing weather by the Charles is just the right kind of motivation.

I think I’m back and will be here to entertain you with tails from my trails (both concrete and dirt). I’m still trying to decide what kind of goals I want for myself. Right now it’s a 5 miler in May. After that, who knows. I’m moving in September. And then immediately leaving for Peru. And then going to a wedding in Kansas City. And then October. Do I really want to long run the day I get back from Peru? Or during the wedding weekend? I don’t know. But I have a while to decide. For now I’m going to enjoy lacing up and watching Spring burst out around the Charles and this fabulous city I call home! And also cheering for my beloved Sox (while mourning the loss of College Basketball [the Cyclones are basically the only reason I didn’t go completely bat shit crazy this winter])

Hearts and red tinged trees!!

 

PS If you’re not from a place where trees lose leaves, some time in early spring the buds on the trees start to appear and give the trees a red tint around the edges which is then followed by bright green baby leaves and then finally green leaves for daaaaaays!

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National Corn Chip Day

I love cooking for people. I think it’s one of the things I like most to do. Unfortunately, i haven’t done a lot of it in the past few years. My last apartment was far away from everyone and my current apartment does not lend itself well to entertaining. But! Fun fact. If we’re friends and I find out your birthday is some sort of weird “national day of something” I will take full advantage. January 29th is a friend’s birthday and also National Corn Chip day. I knew she wouldn’t be in on her birthday (we work together) so I was trying to decide how to celebrate. I was thinking about just sending some flowers with a “Happy Corn Chip Day” message. Lame. Then I tried to think if someone would deliver chips. How do you even google that? And then I thought about a little more and a plan started forming. To start I knew I needed the right chips. Anna’s Taqueria has some of the best chips in the city of Boston and there’s an Anna’s right in my neighborhood. Done. Also done? The taco I bought while I was there. Mmmmmm. Tacooooo.

Then: the dips. I have a guac recipe I love from my cuisinart food processor manual. And then I needed some more dips/salsas. And that’s where google stepped in. I settled on a salsa from the pioneer woman (because that blog is fantastic), a tomatillo salsa because I wanted to cook with tomatillos (a first!), and a white bean dip with bacon because bacon. Armed with my recipes I went shopping and then I proceeded to organize, destroy, and reorganize my kitchen. All while watching the Newsroom season 1 for a third time on my phone gripped to a cabinet handle. And of course I took pictures of the process.

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The ingredients. I will note I came home with tomato puree and not whole tomatoes and no green onions so I had to go back out. Also the red onion and paste were actually for a recipe I had decided not to use but forgot to update my shopping list

I forgot the picture of everything washed. I’m sad now. That looked nice.

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Cutting and chopping is so soothing. I forgot to take the picture before I put the tomatillos, onion, and jalapeno in the oven so that’s what was in the big empty space. Also, the chip bag turned into “trash” and was super helpful to have that so close

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Roasting vegetables!

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I was cruising along and then looked up and realized I had officially exploded all over the kitchen

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Guac was done, and tester chips to make sure everything was good

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I cleaned that food processor 4! times. This was the main working area and when I moved all the bowls etc. to clean I found drips and drops everywhere.

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Roasted vegetables cooling and beans cooked in the bacon fat after the garlic was added. The recipe was right. Garlic cooking in bacon fat smells amaaaaaaazing. See also, my hands still smell like garlic nearly 24 hours later despite using my little stainless steel garlic-smell remove tool

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This salsa was so easy and is so tasty and it makes about 100 gallons. Also. I forgot the garlic! Sads

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4 bags of chips, 4 dips.

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Wrapped up all pretty. Each tag has a partying corn chip. Because – have you met me? Of course it had a partying corn chip on it.

So there you have it. Happy National Corn Chip Day!! As I said in the not-birthday card “go find someone with a sombrero and some margaritas and have a party”. I’ll just be over here with the guac that wouldn’t “fit” in the jar. What. I had to fit in the pit. And some air…

Hearts and corn chips!

Recipes:

Guac (see page 14)

Salsa

Tomatillo Salsa

White Bean

Power Core Wednesday!

It’s Wednesday here at rungineered. And you know what that means???

Power Core Wednesday. Or as I like to call it pre-sore core Thursday. Wednesday is a combination of cross training and then planks, Russian twists, and v-ups. V-ups are the devil. But damn if I don’t feel like a rock star when I can pull of a couple of good ones.

Oh. My. Lanta. was I cranky on Tuesday. At one point I referred to myself as a Crankasaurus Rex stomping all over my office, crushing the happiness of the people around me. I even whined to someone “tell me something funny” and she did. And it helped. Temporarily. But by 4:30 I could have put any two year old missing snack time’s pout to shame. Shame I tell you!

I couldn’t figure it out. Yes, I had spent a better part of my morning at the dealership finding out just how much money it would take to make my check engine light go away. But the waiting area was suuuuuuper swanky. And I wasn’t cranky in the morning. I ate lunch. I had a meeting. And then BAM! Crank.

I thought maybe I needed a snack – nothing. Caffeine – nothing. A funny story – nothing. Whining via email – nothing. Meanwhile, on the same day that I scheduled my car to be fixed my phone decided it would no longer accept chargers. Of any kind. Unless I plugged it in and out 14 times, stood on one foot, and held my breath. So I knew a new phone was also in order. Damn.

The Verizon store is one mile away. My scheduled run was 2ish. I thought I’d run there, buy the phone, and run back. I got home and out of the car and it was kind of cold and raining hard and I thought “eff it. I’ll just drive over” and then I stood in the rain and thought about it. And thought about it. And probably looked like a crazy person in the movies – standing in the rain. But the more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself that I would feel better. I changed, grabbed Senor Garmin, and hit the streets. Even walking down to where I wanted to start and waiting for the satellites I was cranky. And then I thought about it a little more and if I ran half, bought the phone, and ran home, my hands would be full. And after stopping I wouldn’t want to start again. So I made a game time decision and picked a 2 mile loop that would land me a little bit before Verizon at 2 miles.

Absolutely no exaggeration (boy did I butcher the spelling of that word. Let’s all give a cheer for spell check) in anyway. 10 steps into my run, the cranky just floated away. Like it was a physical thing that just got up and left.My body said “you are no longer wanted here. GTFO”. The whole run was good. I waved to my favorite bakery. I waved to my friends’ house (they’re married. How do I refer to their house? friends’, friend’s, friend’s’s’s?) I bombed straight up a hill. I ran face first into windy rain and even offered an “I’m gritting it out grimace”. I wrapped it up in front of the Coolidge Corner movie theatre which is such a cool sign. I snapped my accountability photo for my running group, finished off the last two and half minutes of the GymPact. Stretched a little. And then proceeded to stand in the Verizon store for an hour soaked in my own sweat and drenched in rain. (Sorry customer service dude!)

But. BUT! No crank. Even when he struggled and we had to redo some stuff. I just thought – hey whatever, as long as I’m able to come home with a phone that will charge when I tell it to.

I had always heard about people that find running to be a great mind clearer. But my mind is always focused on “OMG dont throw up. Don’t fall. Is this too easy? (bahahahaha) Is this too hard? Could you do better? Why can’t I breathe? I regret all the beer I drank last week, And the chocolate. I do not regret those tacos, though. I can never get my brain to cool it. And suddenly, I did. I just went about kicking my run’s ass.

Ice Can Bite Me

Ice and snow have descended upon Boston. And also Massachusetts. And mostly the top half of the country. But I live in Boston. And I park in Boston. And I run in Boston. So we’re going to talk about this BS all up in my life. The storm was over 2 days ago and I’m still in boots because getting up my street, up my driveway, and into my house is a lot like those videos you see of deer on ice – limbs slipping everywhere and a constant look of pee my pants panic of my face.

Even this morning when I was driving back from the gym I had to stop on my street because some asshat has decided that he can park his van illegally on the street every morning from 7:30-8:30 and block the road. When I started driving again my wheels started spinning out. Boo. Also, Home Depot ran out of rock salt! I don’t even know how that happens! It was the first storm of the season and they were out 2 days later???

All of this leads to an indoor training schedule for the time being. And oh how much we hate that treadmill. But it’s still better than the alternative – flat out on my butt in the middle of Comm. Ave. I wasn’t fully looking forward to it. But I have a gm buddy (Hi Jennie!) and we both agreed to be there.

I haven’t been running. Because every run felt harder than it should. I kept missing my goals. And I was uncomfortable. But I don’t want to be an accidental resolutioner. Or worse, an actual resolutioner. I hate resolutions. What about January 1st makes me more likely to “stick” to a plan. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals for 2014. I think goals are awesome. I crossed the finish line of a half marathon in 2013 after all. But to promise myself that I’ll be better because the number on the calendar changed just doesn’t work for me.

So today (at 6:17 AM-just-kill-me-now) I called up my half marathon training plan again and decided “Let’s get this done”. And I did. It was a run workout that was a little easier than I had been trying for. Except that 24 minutes into the 30 minute workout I was dying. And it was time to run again. And I didn’t want to. But I did. So I guess maybe I was pushing too hard? When I hit the end of the workout I was feeling a little beat up. I had an endorphin rush in the middle but the difficulty of the workout got to me. Until the the treadmill went into cool down mode and returned the treadmill to an incline of 0. I forgot I had popped it up to 1 to better simulate road running. And then when I realized I had done the full workout, no modification, at the suggested incline I felt a little badass again. And then “Home” by Phillip Phillips came on and that song got me through some tough workouts this summer and it immediately brought me back to sweating my face off running along the Charles at sunset basking in the warmth of the summer and the amazing views of Boston. And I was about to go outside to 10 degrees F and fight ice and snow and I wanted to punch something. Sigh. Solstice in 4 days. And today’s sunset is later than yesterday’s (the sunset starts getting later on Dec 8thish while the sunrise also gets later so the Solstice is delayed) so let’s hold on to that and promises of temps back in the high 30s on Friday!

Hearts and send blankets

PS. Can we also talk about how much I’m listening to Beyonce’s newest album this week? Can’t stop, won’t stop