Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Stronger than a Jelly Bean...

Well, after a whopping 4 weeks, I show no weight loss, but also no weight gain. This is actually a small victory, considering that I was on vacation for 2.5 weeks. Of course it's disappointing to waste 4 weeks not losing weight... but whatevs. I have plenty of other things to be stressed out over today.

I ran 2 miles yesterday on the dreadmill, and I tried to push myself a little harder than I normally do. I figure if I'm getting to run indoors, on a flat surface, in front of a TV, I better do something to make sure I get a real workout out of it. So, I ran the first mile at 12:30 min/mile, and then sort of split the second mile between 12:13 and 12:46. The result? I was completely crapped out after 2 measly miles. How embarrassing. Also embarrassing: there was one other person in the workout room with me, who happened to be on a dreadmill two down from mine. I really really like my personal space, ok? I was at least lucky that he didn't choose the dreadmill directly next to mine. I would have had to leave! Occasionally he'd attempt at conversation, but I could scarcely answer with all my huffing and puffing.

I've decided that I'm going to actually start logging miles in Excel. I plan to do this very soon... But so far my lack of existence of a running log (nay a running plan in general) is only the tip of the iceberg when describing the complete and utter chaos that my life has become. Let's examine just today, shall we?

I have just returned from 2.5 weeks of completely unstructured vacation, where I did not stick to an eating or exercise plan. I've just returned from vacation to a huge pile of work. People are late delivering necessary data for me to do my job. My diet/weight loss have been all up in the air since I left for vaca a while ago, resulting in no loss (but no gain) in the last month. My house is a wreck because I've just moved and I still have cardboard boxes sitting everywhere. I can't find time to sort out my bills and my running log (both Excel projects that I'd hoped to get done last night). I can't find time to exercise because, while people are late on their deadlines to me, my boss still expects me to meet my deadlines. The dog escaped from his outdoor pen today and a neighbor retrieved him, so SoxFan had to drive my car 20 miles back to our unpacked wreck of a house to deal with the dog, only to find that the cat (!) crapped on the floor. I will likely work 12 hours today to meet said deadline and will not get anything remotely useful done tonight. To top it all off, a well-meaning colleague (in order to repay a favor I'd done for him a while ago) bought me a HUGE bucket of Jelly Belly jelly beans. You will all remember how fond I am of the Jelly Belly's right? I even dedicated my halloween costume to them last year? (I insert this here because someone at the Jelly Belly company read this post today, so I'm hoping they'll consider becoming my sponsor, and thereby will provide me with a lifetime supply of Jelly Belly's... All 49 flavors except black, please!) Anyway, they beckon to me from the corner of my desk. All. the. time. Every time someone walks by, they ask for one... and I see a Strawberry Cheesecake... or a Caramel Apple... and I think "oh, just a few jelly beans can't hurt"... and little by little, I'm LOSING THE WAR AGAINST THE JELLY BEANS.

As a side note: I do quite enjoy the Jelly Belly energy beans that I often enjoy during my long runs. They are quite delicious (moreso than say your average shot bloks or other gu substance). It's like candy, on a run, that gives you energy. That's a sponsorship I'd love to have, people.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Back in the land of the living... and running...

Turns out running in Montana = not so easy. Or maybe it's just running at 8AM. Or maybe it's just running on gravel? Or maybe running while your back is hurting? Heck. Maybe it's just running at all! For me, certainly, my one (and only) attempt at running while in Montana ended in a twisted, mangled, crashing ball of flames. I packed it in after a mere 1/2 mile. It was hot. My back was hurting. It was all downhill from there, really. I did get one short hike in, as well, but honestly... does that really even count? I think not. Boooo me. I slacked off a bit.

I had a great time in Montana, though. I did lots of fishing and relaxing and chitty-chatting with SoxFan and his dad. I spent lots of time throwing the ball for Ini and Misha, the dogbeasts. One night we went on a really awesome sunset sailboat cruise on Flathead Lake, and I even managed to avoid puking! I was so very proud. The whole week was relaxing and quiet and exactly what I was looking for. I got plenty of sleep and had lots of good food (including a cookie or two and some home-made ice-cream...yum).

Now, I'm back in the land of the working world, and I actually have to get up at a responsible hour again. It's really a bummer. But Tux, my cat, sure is glad I'm finally home. She spent far too many days alone in the house (many thanks to LaCrosse Man for coming by to check on her and make sure she didn't starve), so now she's me-ow-ing non-stop!

What is not a bummer, however, is that NewMama's baby is now walking! It's the cutest thing I've ever seen. If you get a chance, go visit DigitalBoy's blog and watch the video. She's just the most adorable thing you've ever seen.

This weekend, I'm planning on a 4 mile run on Saturday somewhere down in Denver. There are no races available in the Denver area this weekend, but I'm planning on running a 10K soon, so I need to get back out there. I hope you've all had more successful running weeks than I have.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Does a bear run in the woods?

Well, it's Day 3 in Montana, and still no running to report. I had planned to get a run in this morning, but after staying up toooo late with SoxFan and his dad last night, I overslept. I hope to rise early enough in the morning to do a quick 3 miles, however. I've scoped out a route from SoxFan's parents' house, and it's effectively a trail run. Except that it's on a road. So the only "trail" part of it is that it's not paved. And it's through the woods. We'll see how it goes.

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures yet to share, but I can tell you that yesterday we all spent the day at Glacier National Park, which was tons of fun. I took loads of digital pictures and I even spent some time with the ol' 35mm as well (these will obviously be screened by NewMama before they're posted here). It was a very long day, but it was a lot of fun.

Today we went fly fishing at Martin Lake. SoxFan's dad caught one Cutthroat Trout, but SoxFan and I got skunked. It was a really fun day, though, because I got to float in the pontoon boat while the others were in their float-tubes. At first I was terrified, then I sort of got the hang of the whole paddling aspect and it was great fun. Still, it would have been nice to catch one fish.... ah well... maybe tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a pleasant holiday weekend! I'll report back soon with pictures and running splits.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Does my butt look like meatloaf?


So last year I did the "Evergreen Town Race", aptly named because it is in the town of Evergreen, CO. This event is a 5K/10K. It is all downhill.

I know what you're probably thinking: "All downhill? Piece of cake!" But, not really. It's more like "All downhill? Piece of knee/back pain the likes of which will make you want to hang up your running shoes forever."

Now for the dilemma: I am planning to run the Denver 1/2 marathon in October. I just did a 5 mile race. Therefore, I should probably shoot for a 10K as my next event. And, though there are about a zillion 5K races between now and October, unless you want to run the race tomorrow, or on some ridiculous mountain trail, there aren't too many 10K offerings. So, it seems I may run the Evergreen Town Race again, just to get the 10K experience.

And in lieu of a formal training plan, I've just decided that I should probably try to run a 10K race and a 10 mile race at some point between now and the 1/2 marathon. Maybe I'm going about this all wrong? Seeing it all in print like this makes me worry that I'm setting myself up for failure (or injury) with a very loosely defined training schedule. Jeesh... Because I sometimes run on the dreadmill, I don't even keep track of how many miles I'm running per week! This is very unlike me. I must build a spreadsheet to keep track of this important data. I must develop a real plan.

On to other things...

Now that I've done the post-NYC laundry, I'm re-packing my suitcase this evening for another vacation! Tomorrow morning, SoxFan and I head out on a road trip to his native Montana. Unlike the trip to NYC, this trip should be very laid-back and relaxing. But like the trip to NYC, I expect it will be a lot of fun. I have a few other expectations for the trip to Montana, as well.

This trip should be:

  1. Much less expensive than the trip to NYC - No hostels/restaurants to pay for, no expensive museums or broadway shows for which to purchase tickets.
  2. Much cooler (temperature-wise) than the trip to NYC - Luckily, the climate in Montana is more similar to Colorado than it is to NYC. Therefore, everything we do outdoors (read: everything we do) will be minus the layer of sweat that we carried all around NYC.
  3. Much more conducive to running - This is really only true because I expect to have a bit of free time in Montana, which I certainly did not have in NYC. I hope to get in a few good runs while I'm there, provided that I can find my way around in the wilderness without being eaten by bears.
  4. Much more conducive to dieting - I haven't really brought this up a lot because... well, I'm not proud of myself for it.... but when we were in NY, I totally fell off the weight watchers wagon. I mean, seriously... I had pizza (fantastic NYC pizza, but pizza nonetheless), I had hot dogs (from street vendors, because they were cheap), I had hot pretzels (again, with the street vendors), I had delicious deli sandwiches... During the bike tour, we stopped at a Polish restaurant, and I ordered meatloaf. And this wasn't your momma's ordinary meatloaf. I swear to you it had been deep fried. Needless to say, I went a bit overboard, even though I had sort of planned to allow myself a few culinary indulgences while on the trip. This trip to Montana, however, is much more similar to my ordinary life and my ordinary routine, and therefore I expect to stay on plan.
We're driving to Montana tomorrow and Saturday, so I hope to be able to post again early next week. I'll be taking my camera and my garmin (and perhaps even my fuel belt) along, obviously. I hope you all have a pleasant 4th of July weekend! Be safe out there.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Running in, and all around, NYC

As promised, here is a full NYC summary and race report (with photos).

DAY 1 (Thursday)
Thursday doesn't really count because, aside from having a near-death experience in a taxi, nothing very eventful happened. We did rush across town to pick up my bib and chip for the race on Saturday, and we bought dinner at a deli near our hostel and had a little picnic in Central Park.

DAY 2 (Friday)
We started out with a really fun bike tour that began in Manhattan and made its way to Roosevelt Island, then Queens, then Brooklyn, then back to Manhattan (7 hours, and 17 miles, later). Our bike tour was through Bike the Big Apple. Here is a picture of our tour guide, a native of Brooklyn (complete with hilarious accent), Richard. He and the "sweep", George, were funny and nice and put their lives on the line several times by stepping between us and numerous taxis. The tour was great because we got a chance to see a lot of the other boroughs of NYC, and we were definitely off the beaten path for the whole day. Except when we were dodging taxis across 6 lanes of traffic in midtown Manhattan. Except for that. Here's a picture of us on the bike tour. After the bike tour, we headed down to Times Square to see the lights. I didn't want to be out late, though, because the race was coming up on Saturday, and I was already a little bit pooped from the bike ride.

DAY 3 (Saturday)
Race day! We got up early and tried to get to the race via subway, only to be disappointed by the train schedule. We eventually abandoned the train altogether and just walked to the start. As you can see in these pictures, there was a decent sized crowd (~5000 people). It was a sunny day out with plenty of heat and humidity to go around. In the pre-race picture, you see me with a very panicked (upset, whiny, angry, who knows, it's just UGLY) face... as I've already mentioned, my shuffle was on E, so I was attempting to get SoxFan to stop taking pictures and come and get my shuffle! Oh! That's me in the navy blue adidas shorts and the bright green tank top, bib 5569. In the end-of-race picture, I'm about 200 yards from the finish, and as you can see, I'm smiling! Even more impressive, look at all those people behind me! In the post-race picture, I'm exhausted, but still smiling! I did it!

Here are a few more race-day details:

Mile 1- 13:11
Mile 2- 13:12
Mile 3- 13:34
Mile 4- 14:03 (damn hills)
Mile 5- 13:24

Out of 477 women age 20-29, I was 468th (but I am 29, after all, so it stands to reason that I should be the slowest in that pack, right?). Out of 3105 women, I was 2998th. I'm pretty slow. But, I finished! Even when I was sure I couldn't.

After the race, we rushed back to the hostel and I showered. Then we headed back to Times Square to buy tickets for a broadway show for Saturday night. Our travel companions were already there waiting in line, so we rushed to meet up with them. We decided to see "The Country Girl", starring Morgan Freeman, Peter Gallagher, and Frances McDormand. The show was great, and I'd certainly recommend it to anyone looking for a non-musical to see in NYC. All of the actors were fantastic. Afterwards we stood around by the stage door exit and I got a picture of Morgan Freeman (he waved to us and then rushed right into his waiting car) and I got a picture with Peter Gallagher (of "The OC" fame).

DAY4 (Sunday)
We spent Sunday morning at the American Museum of Natural History. This is just one huge museum of everything. Seriously? It would take a good 3-5 days to really do this place properly. Alas, we did not have 3-5 days, so we did the quickie tour: Space, Dinosaurs, Mammals, Sea creatures. Then we were spent, so we headed south to try to visit the Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island. On the way there, we stopped for lunch in Little Italy and had some amazing pasta. We didn't make it to the ferry in time to do the SofLiberty/Ellis Island, so instead we decided to walk around the financial district for a while. It started pouring rain on us, so we took refuge in the Trinity Church on Wall St., then eventually made our way down to the World Trade Center site (aka Ground Zero).

I just have to include this, too... SoxFan, when he was a wee little child, used to pretend he was a T-Rex. So, when we got to the T-rex exhibit, I had to record his T-rex impersonation. Enjoy! Sorry that I am a complete bonehead and didn't realize that I couldn't record video in this orientation. I'm an idiot.

Sunday night, we went with our travel companions to The Comedy Cellar, a fairly well-known comedy club near Washington Square Park. This was really fun. We laughed until our sides hurt.

Day 5 (Monday)
On Monday, we woke up pretty early and headed to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. This was fun, and we got some good pictures, but by this point we were both starting to poop out a little. After this was done, we hit the Museum of the American Indian. This was near Battery Park and it was FREE! It was in an amazing building that used to be a customs house. Then we hit Grand Central Station during rush hour, then we had to rush up to Yankee Stadium. Yankee Stadium was sort of a disappointment. It wasn't as big or as impressive as I'd imagined it would be, and the place just isn't very fan friendly. Other than that, I was upset that not many of the Yankee fans seemed to be upset that they were going to blow up "The house that Ruth built." I figure if they're not upset about it, there's no reason I should be. After Yankee Stadium, we went back to mid-town to do the Empire State Building. It was gorgeous at night, but none of the pictures were fit to present here, unfortunately. By the time we got back to the hostel, it was ~2AM. I thought I would cry if I had to walk one more block. It was around this point that I started to feel like a narcoleptic. Seriously, if I sat still and quiet for more than 20 seconds, I fell asleep. I fell asleep in the Natural History Museum, the Guggenheim, and the Met. And on the boat to Liberty/Ellis Island. And waiting for the subway. And on the bus. I could not keep my eyes open.

DAY 6 (Tuesday)
On our last day in the city, we tried to hit the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), but it was closed (boo). So, instead, we went to the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met). I probably don't have to say again that we were really tired by this point, and therefore we sort of breezed through these two museums without noticing too much. It's really a shame because both museums are very interesting and have great collections. I think we'd just tried to squeeze too much into 6 days. After the museums, because we couldn't bear to walk another step, we got onto a bus with little idea of where it was heading, and we ended up in Chelsea (which is lovely, by the way). I probably couldn't get back there if I wanted to because I slept most of the ride. Eventually we hopped off and I got my eyebrows "threaded" and we had one last slice of NY pizza. "Threading", by the way, is barbaric and painful, and makes waxing/plucking feel like a nice little tickle.... but they look fantastic!

That pretty much wraps it up! Sorry this is so long (and not-so-much related to running, per se)... I ran again today, on the dreadmill at work. I pushed myself a little on the first mile: 12:45. I ended up getting in 2.25 miles in ~30 minutes, with 1 minute of walking to warm up and 1 minute of walking to cool down. Since I sort of surprised myself being able to run the 5M in NY, I am trying to push myself a little harder in all things running related. I figure that 13:00 is a comfortable pace for me, but I can probably run faster if I'm willing to breathe a little harder. And I honestly thought I would not be able to do 5 miles, but I did, so now all of the sudden, my idea of a "long run on the weekend" just shot up to 5-7 miles.

I hope to get another run in tomorrow, as well.