Friday, December 17, 2010

TGI Carb Night - Recipe: Linguine with Shrimp and Tarragon Sauce

Ah yes, Friday. The one night that I know that I plan to put carbs on the dinner plate. When I trained for my first marathon, this dish (which I saw in Cuisine at Home) appeared often on Friday nights before my long runs. I'm not a huge fan of shallots, so I cut back on those just a bit.

You'll need:
1 shallot, minced
a handful of tarragon leaves
1 pound shrimp (the original recipe calls for medium but small shrimp increase the amount of shrimp per bite; I also use cooked shrimp if I'm in a hurry)
1 28-oz can of whole tomatoes
crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
salt (to taste)
linguine for serving
crumbled goat cheese
olive oil

Cook the pasta according to your tastes. Saute the shallots in oil until softened. Add the red pepper flakes, tomatoes (with their water), and tarragon and simmer for ten minutes. Season with salt. (If you're using raw shrimp, add and cook until pink.) Plate pasta, top with sauce and sprinkle with goat cheese.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Music for Running (3)

I decided against attending tonight's Holiday Light Run and, instead, opted for a short run in the comfort (read: warmth) of my apartment complex's fitness center. There's a part of me that wishes that I had gone, but there's another part of me -- the part that is desperately clinging to the little sanity that is left -- that is pleased that I did not run in tonight's weather. But, I digress...

My indoor runs involve a special kind of sensory overload, so I created a new running playlist to keep things interesting at the gym.

"X Gonna Give It To Ya" - DMX
"Mortal Combat"- Theme from Mortal Combat
"K.I. Feeling" - Theme from Killer Instinct
"Sandstorm" - Darude
"Pump It" - Black Eyed Peas
"Blind" - Ke$ha
"Take It Off" - Ke$ha
"Only Girl (In the World)" - Rhianna
"One More Time" - Daft Punk
"Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" - Daft Punk
"Givin' U All That I've Got" - Robin S.
"Rude Boy" - Rhianna
"One, Two Step" - Ciara
"Welcome Home" Coheed and Cambria
"Through the Fire and the Flames" - Dragonforce
"Whatever You Like" - T.I.
"Remember the Name" - Fort Minor
"Oops, I did It Again" - Britney Spears

I tested this list during today's run, and there is a nice mix of awesome guitar solos and fist-pumping beats. Plus, who doesn't love DMX's love of barking?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Jingle All the Way 10K Round-Up

The second of my December races is in the bag, and I have one more running-related event to go.

I spent most of last week checking the weather for the slightest chance that the rain would miss DC -- or, at the very least, not rain in the morning. DC did get its rain, but it never was more than a light drizzle during the race.

I decided to take a cab to the starting line, which worked out well once I flagged one down. (I really don't understand DC cab drivers. I want to give you money, and you just have to drive me to my destination. Don't you want money?) I arrived at the starting line with ten minutes to spare and had some time to stretch and figure out a race strategy.

Spoiler: Don't stop running.

There were more than 4,000 race participants today, so it took some time to cross the start check-point after the official call. I imagined how beautiful the run would have been on a clear day. But, even with the rain, there's something amazing about running on a cold and rainy Sunday morning with that many other crazy people.

The first half of the race felt a lot slower than I planned, and I felt like kicking myself when I reached the 5K checkpoint with 37 minutes on the race clock. Today's race was never about winning; honestly, five-minute miles only happen in my dreams. But, I still felt like I didn't perform as well as I could of in the first half.

During the second half of the race, I made a decision to quit BS-ing and give it my all until I crossed the finish line.

My race by the numbers:

Net time: 63:49
Gun time: 68:47
Average pace: 10:17
Age group: 255/383
Women: 1476/2537

Not bad. Not bad at all...

Before the month is over, there's one more event on my calendar.

It isn't a race, but it's certainly one of the most awesome ways to go a-wassailing that I've ever seen:

DC Capital Striders Annual Holiday Light Run

Carols + running + happy hour = a damn good way to spend a Tuesday night.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Santa Shuffle 5K Round-Up

One December race down. One to go.

But, first, a note of thanks:

Dear Red Line,

Thank you for being you. Because even when I think I've factored in any and all possible delays and leave with what I think is enough time to make it to my destination, you still shine, run trains every 19 minutes toward Shady Grove, and create a need to sprint to the race with just enough time to dash across the starting line so that my timing chip is able to record my results. You are the best.

With love,


Okay, fine. It actually wasn't that big of a deal, and I got a great warm-up before the race...

..which went extremely well. There were approximately 500 runners from what I could tell from the registration list, and so many went the festive route and ran in fantastic costumes. I -- totally waiting until the last possible minute to think of a costume and giving up -- decided to go the warm route. I'm very happy that I made the decision to pick up a light jacket from Fleet Feet last Thursday. With the newest addition to my running wardrobe, running in today's below freezing temperatures wasn't a problem at all. Plus, I finished with a time with which I'm very happy. I'll post the official time once PR posts the results. UPDATE:My chip time for the race was 31:14:8, which works out to be an average 10 minute mile. Of the female runners, I placed 130 out of 327 and 15th in my age group.

I have a six-mile run planned for tomorrow and my usual speed workouts in preparation for the Jingle All the Way 10K on the 12th. (Running addictions are the healthiest addictions, I'm sure.) By the end of the month, I'll start final preparations for my second round of marathon training -- and desperate prayers that the mid-Atlantic region avoids Snowpocalypse Now, Redux.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Because my run is my drug...

The 12 Steps of Runners Anonymous
by John Farrow

1. We admit that we are powerless over our character flaw and that our lives seem to others to have become unmanageable, but we sort of like it that way.

2. We have come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity, and that power’s name is Runner’s High.

3. We have made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the pursuit of the perfect Runner’s High and to travel near and far in our quest for the perfect race and a new PR.

4. We have made a searching and fearless inventory of ourselves, and find that we need to increase the mileage on our long runs, intersperse our training with fartleks and tempo runs, do a track workout now and then to increase our speed, add cross-training to our weekly routine and always get enough carbs in our diet.

5. We have admitted to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our
shortcomings that we have occasionally taken a day off from training, indulged in fried foods, failed to consume at least eight servings of pasta per day, failed to use the most up-to-date heart rate monitor and that our fridge contains nothing but
beer and running shoes.

6. We are not entirely ready to have all of these character flaws removed until we qualify for Boston one more time.

7. We humbly ask others to lighten up and get off our case with respect to our character flaws so that we can go out for another run.

8. We have made a list of all persons we have harmed and are willing to make amends to them when and if they find the time to accompany us during our weekly 20-mile run.

9. We have made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when doing so would interfere with our training.

10. We have continued to take personal inventory of all miles run on a daily, weekly, bi-weekly and monthly basis according to each shoe worn, as well as to constantly monitor our heart rate, respiration, fluid consumption and leg turn-over rate during our runs and when we were wrong have promptly taken the necessary steps to get
back on track.

11. We have sought through visualization to improve our running technique and ask only for strength and endurance when next we hit the wall.

12. We have had an awakening as a result of these steps and have redoubled our training as we have tried to carry this message to non-runners everywhere and to practice these principles throughout our training.

ARR News, May 2002
Albuquerque Road Runners Club

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

There's no place like....

I completely checked out of work on Monday (both mentally and in the Holy-cow-it's-the-holidays-and-I-get-to-go-HOME sense) and took a train to beautiful New Haven, CT. Yes. Beautiful. In fact, when the British landed in West Haven in 1779 and were forced to march through the city (because the colonists awesomely decided to destroy every bridge leading into New Haven), the Red Coats decided not to burn the city because of its beauty. They, instead, decided to torch Hamden. But, I digress...

It's so wonderful to be home! Yesterday included a three-mile run, a Yale hockey game, and a trip to BAR where Nate, Jane, Mark, and I enjoyed a delicious, delicious mashed-potato and bacon pizza and Toasted Blond beer. OM NOM NOM NOM. (At some point before I leave, I'll also visit Claire's Corner Copia for Lithuanian coffee cake.)

But, the highlight of this trip so far was getting my daddy to commit to running a 5K with me and introducing him to the joys of running. We ran a mile today, and he did extremely well! My dad has never been much for cardio, but has spent the last decade or so working on strength training exercises with the free weight set we've had for as long as I can remember. Tomorrow, we're going to run again --- but I'll add on three miles to keep my weekly mileage where it needs to be in the weeks before I start seriously training for my next marathon.

By the way, does anyone have any brilliant ideas for my costume for the Santa Shuffle 5K? I'm thinking that, for the first time, the "sexy" versions of costumes might actually be appropriate (with running tights and a base-layer, of course) I'm thinking elf. Or reindeer. I think I need at least one shopping trip while I am home.

Happy holidays!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

She's Going the Distance (Again)

Call me crazy.

It’s been four weeks since I crossed the finish line in Baltimore, and I’m ready to commit to a second marathon. I have a date (March 20, 2011), a race (Yuengling Shamrock Marathon), a goal (shave one hour off the Baltimore Marathon time), a new pair of running shoes, and a colorful training schedule that will carry me until the race in March

Race recovery went well, but not having a set running schedule after months of having running be such a huge part of my life prior to October 16th felt strange. I loved the extra time, but I definitely felt antsy on more than one occasion. But, the antsy-feeling meant that I had more time to think about how I could approach the next couple of months and set some fitness goals.

Daft Punk said it best: “Work it, make it, do it, makes us harder, better, faster, stronger.”

My newest training spreadsheet is divided into two phases. Phase One started earlier this month and will take me to the last week of December. The goal here is to lay the groundwork to build a better body and increase my speed. Mixing speed workouts with strength training and longs runs of seven or eight miles has worked out well so far. (I’m starting to find that a nine-minute mile pace is comfortable for more than a few minutes. Sweet.)

To add spice and make all of this work worth it in the end, I decided to run shorter races to keep me on the path to reaching my speed goals. I’m most excited about the Santa Shuffle 5K Race – but only because I’d get to dress up as a holiday character. There’s also Jingle All the Way, a 10K where I would get to wear bells while I run. Both races are in December, and I’m also looking into races in 2011. (Most importantly, I’m trying to justify flying to Orlando for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. It would be against my love for all things Disney Princess if I didn’t run this race. And, we wouldn’t want that.)

Around the last week of December, I'll start my official training with long runs starting at 13 miles. Winter training will bring its own set of challenges, I'm sure. In any case, it should be a rockin' good time.

There'll be more updates along the way -- more hilarious running stories, recipes, and kick ass playlists.

Are you ready for Round 2? I sure am.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The End and the Beginning

This blog began with a tl;rdr post, and I will close this chapter of my blog with one.

I gave it my all today, and I crossed the finish line after approximately five hours of running through the streets of Baltimore with more than 22,000 other crazy people working toward the same goal. Running today was the most unifying thing that I could have done. You hear stories about how friendly and encouraging fellow runners are. You hear stories about how entire neighborhoods come out to cheer on the runners. Then, you’re in it; you’re at mile 18 struggling to run up the millionth hill of the course (seriously, by the time you’re at mile 18 and every hill before that was “your last one,” it feels like the millionth). Someone in the crowd tells you that you can make it, and you feel like nothing in the world can stop you.

So, full recap:

I was a bit in denial about this weekend’s events from Monday to Thursday, and I did my best to pretend like today would be like any normal day – you know, the kind of normal day when I wake up and decide to run 26.2 miles. After work on Tuesday and Wednesday, I completed fantastic three-mile runs faster than I had ever run at any point in my training. On Thursday, restlessness set in because I forbade myself from doing anything: no cycling, no strength training, and definitely no running. So, I did laundry instead – mostly because I needed to clean all of my running gear.

I spent about five hours in my office on Friday before coming home to do one last check that I had everything that I would need for the weekend. The last thing that I would have wanted was to get to Baltimore and realize that I forgot…oh, say…my shoes.

I met Steve at Union Station to catch at 3:25 MARC train to Penn Station. We arrived an hour later and took a cab to M&T Stadium for registration and the Expo. After picking up our bibs, awesome shirts, and bag of swag (which included, among other things, a gift card with a very large balance to a swanky sunglasses shop), we walked around a bit to check out the Expo.

Steve and I split after the Expo, so that I could check into my hotel before meeting a friend for dinner. I managed to snag a room in the Radisson Hotel. My room was incredible, and I had way too much space for just myself.

(This was only one side of the room. I had a second bed, a small entrance area, and an awesome bathroom.)

After checking in and watching a bit of Law and Order, Nirosha took me to Sabatino’s, a great, family-owned restaurant in the city’s Little Italy district. (I don’t think that I’m ready to give up the ability to eat large quantities of carbs with little remorse.)

After dinner, we headed back toward my hotel. My original plan was to meet my parents for a bit before I turned in for the evening, but they once they arrived, they decided to head straight to the hotel, and we planned to meet before the race.

I managed to fall asleep quickly and woke up before my alarm. I got dressed, packed up my things, had coffee, water, power-ade, and two thin bagels with peanut butter. My parents met me in the hotel lobby to drive over the starting area. I arrived at 6:45 and took the first of five pre-race bathroom breaks. Walking over the starting line, I had a great conversation with an older runner who had done the Baltimore Marathon three times. We parted ways so that I could take the second of five bathroom breaks. After, I met up with Steve.

Then, then were three more bathroom breaks. And a lot of waiting.

Finally, the National Anthem. Countdown. Starting pistol. Waiting to move. Moving.

As I promised myself, I started the race slowly. By about mile four (through the very beautiful Druid Hill Park), I was ready to pick up the pace a bit. I felt like I could run forever – or as long as there was an unlimited supply of water, Gatorade, and energy gels. By mile 13, I started to feel the reality of running but it was nothing more than “Oh. I still have to run a lot.” Steve and I separated near the halfway point because I felt that the best thing for me was to slow down just a tick so that I could make it to the finish line. At mile 15, I ran into my mother. (My dad and younger brother had gone back to their hotel room – which was very close to that mile mark – and just missed me.)

At mile 18, things started to suck.

Hills. Hills as far as the eye could see. And, I could only think, “It hurts, and it’s still hurting!” But, thank goodness for strangers and fellow runners reassuring you that you can make it.

I rejoined Steve shortly after I cleared “the last” hill. We ran for a bit, but near Lake Montebello, I went ahead. There were so many times when I wanted to quit, but each time, I decided to walk it off and keep going. I ran into Katie near mile 21 for some much needed words of encouragement. Then, a little voice inside me said, “Fuck it. You’re going to run. You’re going to finish. And you’re going to like it.”

Toward the end, I ran into a huge group of DC friends who had come up to cheer Steve, Nicole, Jason, and me on. Further now, my parents were waiting.

Then, the finish line. Final time: 5:33:38. Total distance: according to my pedometer: 27.122 miles. Average minute-mile: 12.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt like this on the inside:

On the outside, I felt like someone encased my legs in cement.

I made my way to the runner’s area where I received my finisher’s medal and a metallic blanket. So many shiny things! I walked around for a bit in an attempt to get the feeling back in my legs. (To be honest, walking around is still really hard.)

I feel incredibly proud of my accomplishment. (And so proud of Steve, Nicole, and Jason!) I set this crazy goal back in June. I didn’t think that I would go through with it. But, I ran. I ran in (probably) deathly heat. I ran in the rain. I ran when it was absolutely gorgeous. I bruised toenails. I strained muscles. I sacrificed skin. I thought about quitting. I decided to keep going. I crossed the finish line.

So what’s next?

I’m planning on running a second full marathon in 2011, and Philadelphia is looking pretty good. In the meantime, there’s the Disney Princess Half-Marathon in February and a host of other events around the DC area in between.

I’ve completed my first journey to 26 miles. I’m ready for the next challenge. Thanks for reading. Thanks for your words of encouragement. Thanks for believing that I could do this.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Less than 36 hours left

I have a little less than 36 hours to go, and I have so many feelings -- excitement, fear, anxiety. I love all of it. My bag is almost packed. I'm ready for this!

Look for a pre-race post tomorrow. Until then, I'll direct you all to this site, which will allow you to track my on-course progress and see the results of the race:

By the way, if anyone wants to be at the finish line ready to play any version of this theme from the Final Fantasy series at the moment I drag myself across the finish line, I would certainly appreciate it.


Saturday, October 9, 2010

7 Days and Counting....

I booked my hotel reservation. This is it. This is real. (Well, I suppose that this has always been real. It just feels more real now that I'm starting to make concrete plans to travel to Baltimore.)

One week to go. It's the final countdown!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Almost there

Week 15 turned out to be the kind of week I wish I had earlier in my training instead of toward the end.

A full professional schedule, new commitments, a trial Capoeira class, and my attempt at having a social life left me incredibly tired. Mustering the energy to run after work was a challenge. On Thursday, I gave up and decided to bike instead. On Friday (which has been full of pasta and alcohol-free for many months now), I indulged in a work happy hour to celebrate coworkers' promotions and raises (including my own). We went to L'Enfant Cafe, and I had the most delicious crepe and two glasses of wine. (Yeah, not exactly part of the marathoner's diet.)

But, Saturday's run still felt incredible, and I ran 17 beautiful miles without much trouble. And, today's 4 mile recovery run was perfect. (I love the crispness of fall, and I loved the reward of going apple picking this afternoon.)

For the next two weeks, things are going to get serious. That means no beer at pub quiz, eating the proper foods, and sticking to my planned schedule.

Speaking of: holy crap, the race is so soon! This Saturday will be my last long run before the big day. Here's the plan:

Monday: Bike, strength train
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 3 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Off
Saturday: 8-10 miles

Sunday, September 26, 2010


It's been an incredibly lazy Sunday full of errands, bursts of productivity, hours watching 24, and thinking about the approaching race.

During Week 14, I swapped two running days for workouts in my building's fitness center. I was a little worried that it would affect my running performance, but I'm very happy that I did it. I felt incredibly tired on Tuesday and knew that any run I attempted would be a complete disaster. Today, I wanted to rest a bit after Saturday's run. I hate skipping runs, but I know that taking a few days off from running will be better in the long run.

The last twenty-one days are apparently the most important for training. Over the next few weeks, I'll be readjusting my training schedule a bit so that I'm not exerting myself too much, but I still feel feel good about distance running. I'll also make a few diet changes to make sure that I'm getting everything that I need to fuel these last few weeks of training. (Not that my diet was terrible to begin with, but I definitely was starting to miss protein targets.)

I originally planned to run a second 20-miler, but it's time to taper. I'll shoot for a minimum distance of 16 or a maximum distance of 18 miles.

Week 15:

Monday: Strength train and stationary bike
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Off
Saturday: between 16 and 18 miles.

So, here we go!

Friday, September 24, 2010

More Motivation

Courtesy of Jane (who always wins at finding awesome things on the internet). This is amazing!

From These Go to 11:

After several woman collapsed upon completing the 800 meter dash at the 1928 Olympics, the powers that be in the world of running decided that women lack the constitution to run long distances. Running was thought to be not only unladylike, but dangerous for frail, frail ladies. Some hypothesized that running long distances could cause a woman’s uterus to fall out of her body, and we all know that the worst thing that could possibly happen to a woman is NOT HAVING BABIES. Women were barred from racing distances of more than 200 meters.

In 1967, Kathrine Switzer, a 20 year old college student, registered to run the Boston Marathon under the name “K. V. Switzer.” When race officials discovered that K. V. was a woman, the race had already started. This picture shows perfectly-named Boston Marathon official Jock Semple attempting to physically remove Switzer from the event, reportedly shouting, “Get the hell out of my race and give me those numbers!” Switzer’s college athlete boyfriend bodychecked the race official and the pair continued running.

She successfully completed the race in 4 hours and 20 minutes, and seven years later won the New York City Marathon with a time of under 3:08.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

3 Weeks to Go

Friends, I'm down to the last three weeks of training.

Week 14's schedule:

Tuesday: 5 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 5 miles
Friday: off
Saturday: 12-15 miles
Sunday: 4 miles

I'm overdue for a longer post about the actual details of running. Soon. I promise.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

20-Mile Run #1

The feeling that comes after completing your twentieth mile is amazing. I'm very proud, but I know that there is still work to do. I cannot be more excited for the remaining training weeks and the marathon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

On Mild Discomfort and Other Adventures

Week 11 has presented its share of challenges, but I am still in this.

This week's short runs were glorious. The crispness of fall is settling in, and I've actually needed to wear the cute little wind breaker that I picked up at Target a few weeks ago. Cooler temperatures mean great runs. On Wednesday, I ran from my place down to the Mall and back. No complaints there.

On Thursday, I followed the trails l to Georgetown and ran around the area for a bit before heading back to my apartment. I didn't stretch as thoroughly as I usually do. I'm not really sure why, but it doesn't have anything to do with the article that I posted about stretching a few days ago. I think I was just very excited. When I started to run downhill towards the trail, I started to feel discomfort in my right leg (around the lower end of the tibia). With each step, I felt it. I didn't really think about it and even thought that it was a great idea to push my limits a bit. When I got home, I felt the pain in my leg simply walking barefoot in my apartment. I iced it and went to bed. The minute that I stepped onto the floor the next morning, the pain was so much worse and I spent a while limping around my apartment. The choices were: 1. call the doctor and make the trip up or 2. suck it up and go to work. I chose two, and even walked the mile to the Rite Aid to pick up an ace bandages and athletic tape before heading into the office. During the day, the discomfort wore off but walking down flights of stairs was still a problem.

I made a decision to take the day off from training on Friday in hopes that things would be better for my long run on Saturday. I woke up, walked around a bit, felt some discomfort, but decided to take it slow and run anyway. Once I started to run, everything seemed okay okay. I ran 12 miles as slow as I possibly could without feeling like I was walking and made sure to stay on soft surfaces whenever I could. After the run, I felt okay. There was the usual feeling of exhaustion that comes after a long run, but it wasn't anything a warm bath and rest couldn't fix. When I woke up this morning for my last short run, I felt the pain again. More limping, applying ice, and deciding that running wouldn't be the best move. Instead, I tried the elliptical and strength training -- if only to feel like I was doing something other than sitting on the couch. It went pretty well, and I've tried my best to rest today. At the moment, everything feels okay but I'm still going to give myself some time to see what happens.

So, assuming that I wake up tomorrow and can move around my apartment without doing my best Charlie Bit My Figure impression, the schedule for this week looks like this:

Monday: Strength train/stationary bike
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Friday: Off, mental preparations and pasta party for one
Saturday: 20 miles
Sunday: 3 miles

As of tomorrow, there will be 33 days between me and race day. Bring it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Mid-Week Update

I learned in college that time passes fastest when you're happy, enjoy what you do, and have fun. It also flies when you're totally screwed for a paper you didn't start until the night before it's due date -- but that's another story.

At some point, it became the middle of Week 11 without me even noticing. After a relaxing Labor Day Weekend (with many hours spent in the company of friends, my parents and younger brother, watching 24, knitting, running errands, and starting yucky grad school applications), I started my Tuesday at 6 AM for a quick three-mile run. Now that it's dark at 6 AM, I decided to run on the treadmill and remembered it is the least exciting way to run. The actual work day was pretty chill, and I learned that I'm going to be traveling like it's my job (oh wait) over the next couple of months: definite trips to New York; at least one trip to Louisiana, California (Riverside), Washington, or Ohio (Columbus); and a teacher quality magical mystery tour. I'm excited and know that I'll learn a ton on various trips, but at the same time I still find myself sick at the very idea of flying (I'm better than I was years ago, by the way) and thinking about how this will affect my training (obvious solution: book hotels with fitness centers).

In terms of running, this is what I scheduled for the week:

Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 6 miles
Thursday: 5 miles (Strength train)
Friday: 5 miles
Saturday: 12 miles (one week until my first 20-mile run)
Sunday: 4 miles (Strength train)

Oh, and there's been a lot of talk about my knee recently. It doesn’t hurt, but I’m starting to worry that it’s going to give out on my next long run. I’m thinking about seeing my doctor. I probably shouldn’t even be thinking about it at this point and make the appointment. I’m just not sure what she’ll be able to tell me besides “Take it easy” or “Run on softer surfaces” or “Stretch” or “Try more strength training.” I just don’t want to hear “You need to give this up.” We'll see. It's probably nothing, but it would be nice to know that I'm going to be okay for the rest of this and be able to make it to the finish line.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

18 Miles by the Numbers

Jiminy jillikers, Batman! It’s September, and I just finished an 18-mile run!

There is nothing quite like a good, fast, wind-in-your-hair run in September. The weather is absolutely gorgeous today, and I’m looking forward to frolicking later (or at least claiming a lawn chair on my roof and reading for a while). Right now, my weather widget says that it is 74 degrees – which means that it was much cooler earlier this morning when I started my run.

Today’s run was incredible! I kept a steady pace, planned water stops well, and had a pretty good runner’s high going – especially by Mile 14. Here are a couple of numbers to help paint a picture of my 18-mile journey:

Number of songs played: 49

Number of tactless men who ought to keep their lecherous thoughts to themselves: 3 (Yeah, jerk, I might be rocking out to Styx but I can still hear everything you say to me.)

Number of 40+ year-old runners who proved that they could outrun me: 2

Number of energy gels: 2 (Lemon Sublime and Tri-Berry. Both are still pretty disgusting.)

Number of elephants: 1 (not kidding)

Number of unintentional fist pumps during “Every Time We Touch”: 10

Number of times I skipped “Don’t Stop Believing” because it was premature: 3

Mile Mark when I needed to hear “Don’t Stop Believing”: 16

Mile Mark when I felt like a total bad ass: 18

And with that, this crazy train keeps rolling. Happy Labor Day Weekend, everyone!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Week 10 Plan

For your reading pleasure, I have another short and sweet post for you.

Welcome to Week 10! I'm looking forward to the three-day weekend and my family's visit. I have already requested that my mother make a Costco run so that I can have enough toilet paper and rolls of paper towel to build a small fort in my apartment. (I've also requested more olive oil and peanut butter than is probably necessary.) My parents will be here, and I get to run a whole lot this week. Huzzah!

Tuesday - 4 Miles
Wednesday - 4 miles
Thursday - 4 miles
Saturday - 18 miles
Sunday - 3 miles

I'm ready to rock this week...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Run, Baby, Run

I was ready to post on Wednesday about how I was one run away from smashing into a wall, but my run on Thursday went much better than expected so I felt silly. I’m in no way losing motivation. I’m looking forward to the next couple of months, and I’m really excited about running my first marathon. (I’m also looking forward to the changing season which will bring the following: sweaters, hot chocolate, warm blankets, and snuggling. Mmmm…snuggling.) On Wednesday, though, I definitely felt my body reaching the point of “Aw hell no!" but I guess that happens when you try to run when you're sick. I probably shouldn't do that anymore. Then again, my new found addiction to running seems to be calling the shots these days.

Reminder: the goal is to cross the finish line with enough of a functioning body to think about running another race.

I decided not to go to New Haven this weekend, which meant that I got to run a glorious (and I use the term loosely) 16 miles in DC. I started my run at 7 this morning just to make sure that I was able to meet my coworker (who joined me for three miles) by 9 AM. I didn't realize how quiet 7 AM is on a weekend. During the week, everyone's going to work, going to school, or going on morning runs. I started by running up to the boarder between DC and Maryland, coming down through Glover Park and Georgetown, and back to my apartment with just enough time to meet my coworker. (By the way, I actually felt comfortable running the first 10 miles. COMFORTABLE.) Then, my coworker and I hit three miles worth of trails, and I finished my last three on the treadmill.

I tried my first energy gel today -- Lemon Sublime GU. It was kind of gross, but I figured I should try an energy gel before my race. The official gel of the Baltimore Marathon is Powerbar Energy Gel, but the running store was all out. I'll get around to testing the sponsored gel on my longest run. Other than being gross, I think it helped to have the extra boost along the way.

When I finished my run and took my shoes off, I noticed that my left second toenail had turned black. Hypochondriac Alisha freaked out and called both of her parents thinking that she might have a blood clot or some exotic runner's disease. Thankfully, it doesn't hurt. However, I thought about going to the doctor and spent some time on WebMD and Google. (I was still betting on exotic runner's disease.) Then, I sent Matt a message because as a future M.D. and a runner, I figured he would know what was up. It turns out that I bruised my toenail, and I get to watch it die and fall off! Sweet! And gross! Mostly gross. But, kind of awesome.

Three miles tomorrow, and then I roll into Week 10 with a bruised toe, a nearly lost voice, and a knee that hates me.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Is it autumn yet?

If I had to use one phrase to describe how my weekend runs went, I would have to use “Struggle Bus.”

I hate whining about the humidity, but I know that it affected my performance on both days. Saturday’s run included legs through Georgetown and around the Tidal Basin, which is a gorgeous route. I found that as long as I was in the shade, life was fantastic. When not in the shade, it was very easy to feel exhausted. Same deal on today. Of course, I wonder if my sprinting the first two miles this morning had something to do with the fact that I felt like crap for the last three.

Taking a “glass half full” approach, forcing myself to run in crazy heat means that my runs in the cooler September/October months will feel much easier.

Schedule for Week 9 (less than two months to go!):

Monday: Technically, I have Monday scheduled as a rest day but I’m going to hit the gym to work on core and upper body strength.
Tuesday: 3 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles
Thursday: 4 miles
Saturday: 16 miles
Sunday: 3 miles

I’m considering making a trip home this weekend, so I may end up running 16 miles in glorious New Haven. (Plus, that means I will get to escape the Glenn Beck/Sarah Palin hullabaloo that’s going to going to go down on the Mall.) We'll see, though -- especially since my parents are coming for Labor Day weekend. (Time to hide the disinhibitors...)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mid-week update

Lesson learned: Hills are not my forte, and I need some serious practice if I plan to survive the marathon.

You can see the elevation chart here:

The increase in elevation is gradual, and I hear that last leg is almost completely downhill. I'm sure it'll be fine, but uphill running is about as fun as a root canal.

On Tuesday, I purposely planned a route that would force me to run up a few hills. The first mile and a half was almost entirely uphill -- which I didn't realize. (It's funny how I can choose to ignore elevation on gmap-pedometer.) Running that distance uphill certainly wasn't terrible, but I definitely had to pump myself up to make sure that I kept going. The second, third, and fourth hills were a little more of a struggle. The inclines weren't steep, but I'm really bad at maintaining form when running uphill. Developing strongle muscles might be a start, but I the internet tells me that the strategy for running uphill just involves shortening one's stride and lifting one's knees.

I made the decision to skip my run on Wednesday in preparation for my week to host lady pod. (Lady pod involves cooking a delicious dinner for my lady friends in DC, telling stories, and plotting adventures. I went Tex-Mex this week with fish tacos, peach salsa, appropriate fixings, and fresh guacamole. I honestly thought that I would have enough time to run after work and cook dinner, but let's just say that I'm glad I didn't attempt to run.) My training schedule has been readjusted to make up for the miles that I didn't do on Wednesday. Tuesday ended up being five miles because I'm still directionally challenged, today I ran 5.5 miles, and I will run 5 miles on Sunday. The long run for the week is still 10 miles; the key here will be to plan a new route that is a.) different from my usual long run routes and b.) includes a few hills to keep things interesting. Suggestions?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Matt, a good friend of mine who is also going to be a fantastic doctor one day, informed me that there was a rumor going around that I would destroy the GRE and tow its mangled corpse behind me on my 15-mile run. I want to clear the air a bit and confirm that this rumor was, in fact, true.

Sort of.

Yesterday’s GRE went much better than expected. The problem with knowing that the test adjusts depending on how many questions you answer correctly can be a little demoralizing when you are faced with what looks to be an easy question. On the Quantitative section, this seemed to happen a lot but I guess I was actually okay. The Verbal Section, as predicted, was fine. Score wise, I’m close to or above the curve for most of the schools to which I plan to apply. The writing is the only section that I’m worried about (as it was the only section that I didn’t really practice) but we’ll see. I may surprise myself.

This is one of those things where I could be very happy with my score if I was not an overachiever or worried about being a competitive applicant in the Ivy League. I’m going to wait to get my writing score to decide if I want to be happy with my score or try the test again in late October or early November.

So anyway --

Steve and I ran 14 miles today…


We started at Woodley Park and ran down to the Rock Creek Park Trails to the Capital Crescent Trail (or so we planned). Steve pointed out that we actually ended up on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National History Park Trail, which is parallel to the Capital Crescent Trail except until when we went up a bridge to go up to the street. This only caused minor confusion and we just went back the way we came. All in all, it’s not a huge deal because as Steve pointed out “We didn’t die or drown…and still ran 14.”

Running with someone whose company you enjoy is awesome. First, there’s someone to listen to your rambling. (Not that I rambled, and I’m pretty sure my internal monologue made a lot more sense this time around.) Second, it helps a lot with pacing. Both of us decided that we wanted to run slower than our race pace, and both of us made adjustments throughout the run to keep steady. Third, I definitely felt a lot safer on the trails with someone else. (But, that’s probably because I watch way too much Law and Order.)

The other awesome thing that happened was the downpour that started somewhere around mile six or seven. While this confirms that is a bloody liar, running in the rain is great – except for all of the puddles and mud. Even then, once you get home and you realize that you’re filthy, soaked, and just ran a shit ton, you feel amazing and proud of your accomplishment. Then, you run a warm bath and all is right in the world.

With Week 7 in the bag, I'm moving into Week 8. Whoa, we’re (almost) halfway there. Whoa-oa, livin’ on a prayer.

The plan:

Monday: Stationary bike and weights
Tuesday: 4 miles
Wednesday: 4 miles (temperature pending with running group)
Thursday: 4 miles and weights
Friday: Off
Saturday: 10 miles (special goal: beat time of last 10-miler)
Sunday: 3 miles and weights

With no GRE in my immediate future, I’m going to cook delicious dinners, pleasure read, work on my plan to become more bold (details later), and sleep like it’s going out of style.

Until next time…

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"No, no, no, light speed is too slow."

I find it rather amusing that some weeks seem to drag and seem to whiz by as if, at some point on Sunday, I ordered Colonel Sandurz to prepare the ship for “Ludicrous Speed.”

What’s that? You have no idea what I’m referencing? Well, you need to go to the video store and rent yourself a little movie called Spaceballs.


Seriously. This week is going by way too quickly if you ask me. It must be that I have quite a few tasks to complete at work and fill every minute of my day once I get home. I’m not complaining, but I do wish that Wednesday wasn’t nearly over.

Runner's Log:

I planned to check out one of two running groups tonight (the DC Run Club organized by City Sports and the Potomac River Running Fun Run Group) but decided against it because it’s a little too humid for outdoor running. Both run groups seem like a great way to meet new people while completing my daily workouts. And, I imagine it will help me get used to running without my iPod. Hopefully, the humidity will break by next week so that running outside is pleasant. (And, I certainly hope that the temperature this weekend is cool enough to make running 15 miles not suck.)

My four milers have been okay this week. I did run outside yesterday and noticed that my time per mile has improved. Of course, the last two miles dragged because I’m obviously not ready to run the new speed in humidity. Today, I went for the treadmill – which was totally fine. I tried checking out my form in the mirror (after reading this post about running form) but that got awkward real fast when other gym goers started to get between the mirror and me.

Tomorrow is my last short run of the week. Then, it’s walking and cross training until Sunday’s long run.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Week 7 Plan

Tomorrow begins Week 7 of training.

Earlier, I mentioned that I'm terrible at math (though all three of this weekend's practice GRE exams showed improvement). I counted incorrectly and the training schedule needed to be reconfigured. I spent some time yesterday moving things around, and I believe that I should be okay from here on out.

The schedule for this week looks like this:

Monday, August 8 - Walk to and home from my office
Tuesday, August 10 - 4 miles
Wednesday, August 11 - 4 miles
Thursday, August 12 - 4 miles
Friday, August 13 (superstitious Alisha is superstitious) - Walk
Saturday, August 14 - X-Train AM, last minute test prep, pleading with the ETS gods, GRE 12 PM
Sunday, August 15 - 15 miles

Total: 27 miles

I'm nearing my 48th hour without prolonged human interaction. I left my apartment once yesterday, and that was to run eight miles. Real clothes didn't happen. Hardcore GRE studying did. As a reward, I purchased two new video games and spent the remainder of my Saturday night glued to the television. Today was very similar, except I opted to study outside after my practice test and put on real clothes. Of course, spending so much time alone means so much time to sit with my thoughts and flush everything out. I think I've got Mama Odie's wisdom down to an art.

Things I need for this week: complete focus, strength, and endurance.

Time to get to work.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

An easy eight

I'll keep this one short and sweet.

Things to celebrate:
1. I've reached the point in my life where running eight miles feels comfortable. Sweet!
2. I crossed a state line on my run. The Arlington Memorial Bridge is gorgeous.

Oh, anyone have thoughts on compression shorts? I bought a pair yesterday and tried them today. On the one hand, I don't have extra fabric flopping around. On the other hand...spandex? I suppose this is a new chapter in my life.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Once again, I’ve found myself mega distracted. I’m not having another mini-life crisis or anything (honestly two within a period of a few weeks would be a problem). No, this time, I’m going to attribute my distractions to happiness – things to which to look forward, new adventures, excitement in the lives of close friends and family, and so many happy daydreams. Sometimes, there’s nothing quite like that dreamy, far-off look when you’re dreaming happy things. I’m in a good place right now – even with the GRE eight days away.

Mm…so many happy endorphins!

A few things while I’m thinking about tomorrow’s long run:

I can't decide if I want to run 8 or 10 miles tomorrow. Also, I kind of love that this decision is one that can be made. I remember when two miles was a struggle.

An e-mail from the Baltimore Running Festival’s organizers has pointed out that there are 70 days until the marathon. That still seems far away, but it’s nice to have some sort of perspective on exactly how much time that I have.

I'm starting to get really excited about the coming months. I know that Click proved that fast forwarding through life was a bad thing because you miss all of the moments that make life awesome, but is it autumn yet?

I need to take better care of myself during training. I’m doing an okay job, but I think I was much more strict about my diet and overall health at the beginning of this journey – lots of fruits and vegetables, taking my vitamins consistently, sleeping. SLEEPING. I definitely rode the struggle bus for most of the week because of the pseudo late nights. Factor in the running, and I’m leaving work an hour early to nap. So, I’ve decided to get adequate sleep to sustain training, a forty hour work-week, and a social life.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Oh, hey, August!

Oh, August. How did you arrive so quickly?

No, seriously. How?

Other than my GRE date on the 14th, August 2010 will be a pretty exciting month. On the 15th, I will celebrate my one year anniversary of living on my own and becoming a somewhat responsible adult. By “somewhat responsible,” I mean that I’ve mastered the important art of budgeting, haven’t destroyed my apartment, can cook for myself, and have made several strides in the realm of professional development....but, I still love the idea of drinking a Whiskey Sour out of a squirt bottle and dancing wildly in Adams Morgan. (Not that that happened recently or anything. I did not wake up on Sunday, as a close friend once described, “feeling like Satan took a crap in my brain,” and I certainly did not skip my 3-mile run.)

On the 24th, I will celebrate my first year of gainful employment.. Even though work was sometimes stressful, I genuinely love my job and what I do. My job has confirmed my desire to stay in the education policy field and has sparked a new interest in Out-of-School Time initiatives (after-school, especially). Once this damn GRE is over, I’ll be diligently working on applications to Vanderbilt, UPenn, University of Virginia, University of Maryland, Columbia, and (hissssssssssssssssssssssssss) Harvard for doctoral programs. Stanford is also on the list, but I’m not entirely sure I want to move out west. Basically, I’m having a love-affair with the Mid-Atlantic (sorry New England) and UPenn, UVA, and UMD are looking pretty good.

But, enough about that – let’s talk running.

Important Development: I’m officially registered for the Baltimore Running Festival. There’s no turning back now. Other than completing the marathon, I'm looking foward to exploring the neighborhoods in Baltimore. I realized that my only impressions of the city come from The Wire and through the window of the Acela train (whoo business trips!). I suppose that ought to change. If you're interested, you can check out the map here:

Since August and September require that I kick things up a notch, I’ll be running Tuesday through Thursday, Saturday (long run), and Sunday (except when my long runs exceed 13 miles). This week, I have:

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 4 miles

Thursday: 4 miles

Saturday: 8 miles (goal: time 80 minutes or faster)

Sunday: 4 miles

Between running and preparing for the GRE, I say it's about time to kick ass and chew bubblegum. Unfortunately for training and the GRE, I'm all out of gum.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Thoughts While Running 13 Miles

Well, folks, I ran 13 miles today.

I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this, but 13 miles is kind of far. Like, really far. Like ridiculously far for someone who's longest run before starting training was 6 miles.

I don’t even know how to describe what it’s like to run the half-marathon distance. That may have something to do with the fact that I really can’t think right now because my body is still trying to process what I just did. The best way might be try to review my internal monologue. For those of you who know me well, this should be pretty entertaining.

Starting point: “Alright, I’m totally going to own this run. And, I'm so happy it's not 104 fucking degrees. Whooo! Let's do this."

Miles 1-2: “Slow down a bit. You’ve got quite a distance ahead of you. No. Seriously, Alisha. You're going to hurt yourself. Slow your roll.”

Mile 3: “Huh? My knee kind of feels funny. Maybe I should ice it when I get back and wear the brace for the rest of the day. It's the latest and sexiest fashion accessory, I'm sure. On the bright side, if I meet an attractive man tonight, he'll be really impressed that I ran half a marathon today.”

Mile 3.5: “Alright, knee. I don’t like you, and you apparently don’t like me. If you give out now, I will not be happy.”

Mile 4: “Georgetown is pretty. I’d like to live here whenever I can afford to shell out big dollars for a row house."

Miles 4 – 5: “Oh man. I should totally go shopping later.” (I was on M Street near all of the shops. I don't think about shopping all of the time, I swear.)

Miles 5 – 6: (While running past the State Department) “Hey, that guard is kind of attractive! Quick, run faster and look hardcore. Now, smile a bit. Sweet, he smiled back!.”

Mile 6: “Oh heyyyy, Honest Abe.”

Later: “Gee, there are a lot of slow moving tourists. Outta my way!”

Mile 7: “I kind of have to pee. Where to do marathoners pee during races? What if they have to go number 2? Didn't someone go on themselves at the end of the New York City Marathon a few years back? That's a party foul. God, I need to pee. Like. Now...BATHROOM!”

Mile 7 (after bathroom break): “Yes! Free bird! And this bird you cannot cha-a-ange!”

Mile 8: “Sweet! I’ve got five miles to go, and I still feel great!”

Mile 8-9: “Fuck, there’s a difference between First Street NW and First Street NE. I really need to remember that. Oh look. There’s Charlie Palmer’s. I’m so going to stuff my face with steak during restaurant week. Gah…need to get back over to First NE if I want this to count. Okay. There we are.”

Mile 10: “Ow…”

Mile 10.3 “Ow, Charlie, Owwwwwww.”

Mile 10.5” “Dude, seriously, if another guy says something to me or looks at me with lecherous eyes, I’m going to kick him in the balls.”

Mile 11: “Going…to….die. Hm…there’s a CVS. Maybe I should stop and get more water.”

(I picked up a very large bottle of water, stood in the longest line ever, was very pleasant to a surly cashier who clearly hates her job, and chugged the entire bottle near 20th and P.")

Mile 11-12:”Running uphill is the worst. Just the worst. It's start to get warmer. Oh man. Am I done yet?”

Mile 13: “It hurts and it’s still hurting! Oh wait, I’m done. FUCK YEAH!”

I rolled on the floor for a while when I made it back to my apartment and chugged Gatorade. Then, I sat in a warm bath for an hour.

It feels great to have run 13 miles. It hurts, but I'm definitely having an "It hurts so good" moment. I think my plan is to sit for just a while longer before I attempt to look like person again and head back out into the world.

The next long run is 15 miles. If you want to join me, let me know. Then, of course, I'll end up saying a lot of the above out loud.

Happy weekend!

Friday, July 30, 2010


Holy crap, I'm running 13 miles tomorrow. I kind of feel like those guys in the David Blaine: Street Magic video.

(Sometimes, when I'm sad, I watch this video.)

I just looked at my mapped route, and all I can think is "What the eff!?"

I'll let you all know how it goes. My only goal: Don't hurt myself.

PS -- I have the best friends. Thank you all for being so wonderful.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A "Life" Post

Alright, so this is totally lame, but I'm going to vent for a second because I spent most of the day thinking that everything that I do or say is somehow wrong. Of course, in thinking about this, I was quite the unproductive research analyst. I managed to get a few things done, but everything took so much longer because I was distracted. I don't know what's going on. I mean, one minute I think I have everything under control; the next, I'm second-guessing. And, all of this just seemed to start today -- maybe because I was tired, maybe because the reality of the GRE is starting to hit me, maybe because I'm worried about relationships (the non-existent romantic one and those with friends and coworkers). I don't think I've done anything wrong, but I just feel like I am not doing a damn thing right.

It's difficult to explain.

So, I won't. At least not here...

You know? I think the moral of the story is that anxiety is starting to rear its ugly head and causing me to over-think every detail of my life. To some extent, it's healthy to want to know exactly what your supposed to do in your lifetime and know exactly how to accomplish your goals. To another extent, it's completely crazy to obsess over every little detail. Somehow -- with hard work and that inexplicable magic that seems to nudge people in the right direction -- things work out.

I also may need a vacation.

This will all look very silly in the morning.

Thank God for being healthy enough to run. Seriously. I couldn't wait to get out there today and have some time to clear my head.

I'll be okay. I think it's time for a little self-reflection.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Moving Forward

Week 4 - Done. Moving onto Week 5:

Long run: 13 miles (!!!) I mapped out 13 miles on gmap-pedometer. Holy cow!
Total for the week: 23 miles

I struggled a bit yesterday during my 8-mile run. I completed it, of course, but it was hard. I knew going into Saturday that the temperature would be about 100 with humidity. I thought that an early start would allow me to escape the heat. That logic doesn't work in DC,unfortunately, and I could definitely feel the effects of running when it's way too hot to move.

Thankfully, today's weather was so much better. It rained while I was in my Russian language class. Or, rather, the sky opened and gave way to a deluge. But, for once, it cooled off after raining. Running was so much better.

For added fun, I created an On-the-Go playlist before I started:

"Devil Went Down to Georgia" (Just yesterday, I found the all-metal version of the Charlie Daniels classic performed by Steve Ouimette. I won't tell you why I knew that such a version existed because it will reveal how much of a nerd I really am. Holy shit, running to the dueling guitars was friggin' awesome -- so awesome, in fact, that I listened to it twice.)
"Butterfly" - Crazy Town
"Free Bird" - Lynyrd Skynyrd
"Thnks Fr Th Mmrs" - Fall Out Boy
"Damn, It Feels Good to be a Gangster" - Geto Boys
"One" - Metallica
"Green Grass and High Tides" - The Outlaws
"Don't Stop Believin'" - Journey

This is the best playlist ever. I love every song on this list*, and every song on this list is perfect for running. And, it's approximately 40 minutes, so it was a great test to see if I could finish my run before the playlist ended. I think I did it, if I adjust for the time lost when I couldn't move forward because I had to wait for a traffic light. (I jog in place when I need to wait for a walk signal/an opportune time to cross.)

But, anyhow, off to my normal Sunday activities -- which include drooling over Eric Northman on True Blood and Don Draper on Mad Man.

*Yeah, that's right. I love Fall Out Boy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ke$ha Parody

No Ke$ha parody will top "30 Rok." You really can't go wrong with:

Wake up in the morning feelin like Liz Lemon
Got my glasses I’m out the door, I’m gonna get my geek on
Before I leave brush my teeth and maybe grab a snack
‘Cause when I leave for the day I ain’t comin' back

But, I kind of like "My Run is my Drug." (And, I'm not even a real runner yet.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Week 4

Whoa, it's almost the middle of Week 4 -- which means that I've been at this for nearly a month. Heck yeah!

I'm apparently getting over some weird sickness that kept me home from work yesterday. I guess if your body tells you that you shouldn't drag your mucous-filled self to your office (lovely image, no?), then you should probably listen and spend the day either curled up in your bed or sprawled on the couch watching I Love Lucy. I'm still going to train this week, but I'm going to slow it down a bit. Maxing out in Week 4 is definitely not part of the plan.

Total Miles for Week 4: 21
Long run: 8 miles
Special Goal (if I'm feeling 100% on Saturday): Improve time of July 3rd run

In the end, time won't be a factor for the marathon -- my goal is to finish. Adding the additional challenge is just something to work toward on Saturday.

Monday, July 19, 2010

A Thought

I saw this reblogged on Date by Numbers and thought it was worth sharing:

Get dirty. Get fucking filthy. Get poor. Get off your ass. Get desperate. Get dangerous. Get vilified. Get vile. Get romantic. Get fucked. Get fucked up. Get moving. Get productive. Get pro-active. Get your own life. Get doing anything. Get it before you’re 40, with kids, a mortgage, and every other responsibility that relegates fun to an afterthought. Get going before cancer, before 50-hour work weeks, before body pains, before school loans, before your sense of humor goes. Get fighting. Get fighting, fucking, running and smiling. Get smiling because the older you become, the less you’ll smile at silly shit. Get started. Go.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

No Pain, No Glory

Somewhere around Friday afternoon at 3 – at about just the time when I felt my eyes bleeding from staring at an Access database – I took a break to browse the interwebs. I ended up at Runner’s World again and started to poke through a few articles. I found this especially appropriate:

“An hour into my Montana long run, the sun crept over the mountains and a creek snaked out of the woods, its gurgle glorious. I settled into that state, the so-called "runner's high," though that name fails to capture its beauty. What happens to body and mind when you go long is, like all of life's most rewarding treasures, a mystery, and its value is commensurate with its mysteriousness. If I knew exactly why and how a 20-miler worked its magic, I might not treasure it as dearly.” ---From Michcael Parker in “A Long-Distance Running Love-Affair”

Today, I completed my first 10-mile run and understood the concept of "runner's high" more than I did sitting in my office on a Friday afternoon (or ever, for that matter).

It was damn hot in DC again (surprise, surprise), but 10 miles on a treadmill was not happening. After breakfast, I let my often passive-aggressive Wii Fit guide me in a few yoga stretches, and I filled myself with water. By 10 AM, I was out of my apartment. (For the record, I’m kind of impressed that I was able to get out of my apartment at 10. I crawled into bed around 2 AM last night after seeing the last screening of Inception in my neighborhood – SO INCREDIBLE --but I digress…)

Despite the temperature and dripping with sweat before the end of the first mile, I felt great. I wasn’t tired, and I was hydrating whenever I could (I filled a water bottle and carried it with me – the smartest idea I had this morning). I hit a little bit of a wall near mile five, which I suspect happened because that was the point in my run during which I was directly in the sun and/or was in desperate need of a bathroom break. But once I ducked into one of the restrooms on the Mall and splashed water in my face, I was good to go until I hit mile nine.

Put simply, I ached. I was hot. I was tired. My motivating songs played long before I needed them. With every step forward, I was pretty sure that I was just going to give up and stop this silly marathon training altogether.

In the midst of all tat, something else was going on -- something that kept me going. That magical something that "happens when you go long."

A high: A high that made me forget the cramp, the feeling of exhaustion, and the urge to quit. A high that made everything else not related to running irrelevant. A high that made finishing and proving to myself that I could run 10 miles the only two things that mattered in that final push.

And, with that, I finished my run with an average of 10 minutes per mile.

My cool-down walk (the last two blocks to my apartment) took what felt like an eternity. But, I was so proud of myself that I didn’t care. I opened the door, chugged a powerade, and soaked in a tub filled with warm water and bath salts (the second smartest idea that I had this morning). There was celebratory towel time, movie-watching, and the best nap I've had in my life.

- - -

With this run, folks, we’re coming to the end of Week 3. I have three miles to run tomorrow, but after today I imagine such a distance will go very smoothly – unless my body decides that training tomorrow is simply out of the question.

We’ll see, though.

If I have any say in the matter, we’re going running. And, it’s going to be awesome.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Music for Running (2)

I rediscovered Crazy Town's "Butterfly" this morning. Holy crap, where have you been these last eleven years? Those lyrics! That beat! Running with you will be so much fun!

Also, friends, that song was released in 1999. I was 12. TWELVE. I hadn't even entered my teen angst stage. Cue the nostalgia...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Week 2: Done

Week 2: Complete.

Thursday was still a bit hot to run outside. I totally could have done it, but I would have hated myself by the end of it. Another four miles on the treadmill in the bag.

Saturday morning, I awoke to the sound of rain – a huge blessing but not the best for running outside. And, clearly, I am the center of the universe which means that it should only rain when it is convenient for me. I spent a fair amount debating whether or not I should swap my long run for Sunday – when I knew that the weather would be great – or sucking it up and running on the treadmill. After checking every five minutes to see if the rain would stop, I decided to suck it up and run on the treadmill. It wasn’t bad, but I definitely started to get bored after mile four. I think that six miles is my max for running in place.

Today, I ran outside for the first time since last Sunday. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and I did a bit of exploration toward the middle of my run. The whole thing took a little longer than planned because I slowed my pace a smidge to compensate for the temperature. Honestly, it was a gorgeous day, but it was still pretty toasty outside when I went out.

Time aside, there was a small victory on the return to my apartment. Depending on my route, the last leg includes two hills. Usually, the hills are enough to make me want to quit running and walk back. Sometimes I give in. Sometimes try to run and end up walking. Neither crossed my mind today. Instead, I ran the complete distance uphill and felt damn good when I was done.

- - -

I’ve been toying with some thoughts about encouragement and the self-esteem boost that I’m experiencing (it’s kind of awesome to look in a mirror and genuinely like what you see), but they’re inchoate at best so I will probably share them at another time. In the meantime, you all should know that you’re awesome, and I'm extremely thankful to have your support! Seriously.

Onward to Week 3! Total mileage: 20. Saturday’s long-run: 10 miles.

With work, pub quiz, Lady Pod, GRE prep, and my never-ending quest for true love (I watched The Princess and the Frog last night, and dammit if it didn't put strange ideas in my head), it should be a great week, and I’m ready for the challenge.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

(Your love is like a) Heat Wave

Math is hard, and I’m apparently bad at counting.

I went over my training schedule last night to figure out what my running requirements were for the week of August 14, which happens to be the date when yet another standardized test will decide my academic fate....

Ah yes, the (wonderful) GRE.

I was very relieved to see that my long run for that week isn’t terrible and can easily be done before or after the test. But, I did notice that something was a little off when I started filling in the dates in my Excel sheet.

Basically, I can't count. When I made the schedule I thought I had 18 weeks plus one "base week" to ease into running. Not so much. As it turns out, I have 18 weeks including the base week, but I imagine that there are worse things that could happen.

Aaaaaaanyway, since my long runs increase every two weeks (last week was eight, this week I’m back to six, and next week I’ll do ten, for example), it just means that I’ll skip one of the weeks when I reduce the distance. (Friends who run: That's not a huge deal, right?) I’ll most likely fudge with the weeks after my test date. Even though I know that it would be tons of fun, I really would prefer not to take a four-hour exam and run more than eight miles in a single day.

In other news ---

I signed up for's virtual trainer the other day. The site allows you to track calories (consumed and burned), provides recipes, and has plenty of hot tips to get the summer bod you've always dreamed of. (Honestly, the last piece is not my style. But, I am very excited about the recipes and calorie journal.) It's been very useful so far and has forced me to think about getting healthy amounts of calories and eating the right foods for proper nutrition. The American flag cake (thanks to 17 and Baking) that I baked for the fourth is excellent for calories but not so great for everything else. Except a sugar high. A reaaaaaally big sugar high.

If you haven’t heard, it’s bloody hot in DC. Yesterday’s high temperature rose somewhere around 103 degrees. (Yesterday was one of the many times it’s appropriate to quote Ron Burgundy: “It's so damn hot! Milk was a bad choice.") I saw a few brave souls running outside yesterday evening, but I'm not that crazy and decided to move training indoors. Four miles on the treadmill sounds boring at first, but sensory overload definitely helps pass the time. I had music and watched most of an episode of Bones until some annoying person changed the channel to watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Thank goodness I was at the end of mile four when that happened. I was very comfortable at a 10:00 minute pace, but I increased the speed during my last mile just for fun. Surprisingly, it went well. After my run, I went back up to my apartment for electrolyte replacement, post-run stretching, a warm shower, towel time (my favorite time), and GRE time (not my favorite time, but I don't feel nearly as stupid as I did when I first started this process).

Hm...there are quite a few links in this post. Oh well, here's one more for you -- one woman's tale of running and reinvention. Inspiring? You bet it is!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Monday Morning Link

As promised, I present to you a link to incredibly delicious oatmeal cross posted in Cat's blog (which you should all read): Eat Like Us. Your taste buds will dance with delight!

Oatmeal with Greek Yogurt and Honey. And Cinnamon. And Granola. Or Nuts. Oh, Fruit, Too.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

End of Week 1

It turns out that eight miles isn’t a terrible distance to run. In fact, I might have been very comfortable during the entire distance.

Cat, a goddess who can turn ordinary kitchen ingredients into pure deliciousness, recently turned me on to a wonderful breakfast that combines oats, fruit, nuts, and Greek Yogurt. Easy, delicious, and perfect fuel for a long run! (Recipe to come.) I started my morning with a serving, a glass of milk, a ton of water. About an hour and a half later, I took the metro to my starting point.

Part of the beauty of my run was the chance to run near a ton of landmarks: the World War II Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, the Washington Monument, and the Capitol. Running was a bit of a challenge to figure out because portions of the mall were restricted or closed in preparation for Independence Day festivities.

There were a couple of times when I thought I was pretty sure that I couldn’t go any farther. Somehow, I think my iPod could sense this and immediately played “Don’t Stop Believing,” “Living on a Prayer,” and “Hearts on Fire.” All three were enough to get me going. “Party in the USA” was the last song that played and definitely contributed to my excitement for Independence Day.

Jenny and I ran three miles this morning, and it felt amazing! I’ve never felt so good during a run.

It’s the end of Week 1, and I’ve got 17 miles in the bag.

Now, onto celebrate America!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Yesterday, I ran three miles on the treadmill (which was only a little boring) and learned that I am medically cleared to destroy every bit of my body with exercise. Hooray!

After my run and before going to the office (6 AM is a wonderful time of day), I took the trip up to Friendship Heights to visit my physician. When I told her that the purpose of my visit was to discuss training for a marathon, she kind of gave me an “OMG, really?” look. I was a little worried at first but as we talked about my medical history, it became clear that she was super into the idea -- or as much into this as the doctor of a 23 year-old can be who wants to run 26 miles can be.

I had a ton of questions about the impact training would have on my body, what foods I should eat to compensate, and what I could do to avoid injury and fatigue. By the time I left the office, I felt super confident about starting to train seriously.

As far as recommendations went, my physician encouraged me to continue taking Vitamin D supplements. I started taking them in September when we learned that I was deficient. Now that I'll be asking my heart, bones, and immune system to work harder than they have, 1000 IU daily will be a very good move. I should also make sure that I eat 60-70 grams of protein per day. I understood this as "You now have permission to splurge on Greek yogurt."

After runs, I should replace electrolytes. My doctor recommended powerade because it's lower in calories, but I also learned that I can make my own electrolyte-replacing manna by mixing baking soda, salt, sugar, orange juice, and water.

Upper body exercises should be added to my training routine. She recommended 3-5 pounds on my non-running days.

Finally, I should do less running on sidewalks and explore more jogging paths. That sounds fine, but I won't be doing too much of that unless I have a running partner. (Anyone want to run long distances with me?) I tend to stick to sidewalks so that I can stay on main streets with traffic, people, and businesses. Even in the early morning, I feel a bit safer sticking to where the people are. Like Lisa Landry, I've seen Law and Order enough to know what happens to the jogger.

Today, I went to the registration website but decided to wait until I have an estimate of my finish time to officially get on the roster. I'll probably do the calculation after my 3-mile run on Sunday.

Eight miles tomorrow and ample opportunities to celebrate America. Have a wonderful and safe weekend!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Music for Running

Happy Wednesday!

The DC weather forecast for the rest of the week looks amazing – temperatures in the 80s and no humidity. Saturday will be a perfect day for an 8-mile run! I’ve already mapped out my route, and I’m looking forward to running it. Clue #938274 that I might actually be a crazy person.

Cooler temperatures will definitely make running more pleasant. Tuesday’s 3-miler was a bit uncomfortable because of the temperature. How it can be near 80 degrees with crazy humidity at 6 AM is beyond me. How it can still be that hot at night is also beyond me.

Oh well.

At least I know that training in DC’s heat will make the actual marathon a little easier – unless October is somehow hotter than it has been in DC for the last few days.

Now, onto the subject of this post:

I’m posting a portion of the songs on my newest running mix in response to a recent request. (Whoo comments!) I'm still working on the playlist, so suggestions are welcome!

I (cleverly) named the playlist “Hearts on Fire.” After all, nothing gets the adrenaline going like pretending you’re Rocky Balboa preparing to fight Ivan Drago in an epic training montage. And, everyone needs a montage.

My newest mix includes:

“Bad Romance” – Lady Gaga
“Blah Blah Blah (feat. 3OH!3)” – Ke$ha
“Bring the Noise 20xx” – Public Enemy featuring Zakk Wylde
“Dani California” – Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Don’t Stop Believing” – Journey
“Enter the Sandman” – Metallica
“Everyone Nose” – N.E.R.D
“Foreplay/Longtime” – Boston
“Freebird” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Green Grass and High Tides” – The Outlaws
“Hearts on Fire” – John Cafferty
“Livin’ on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi
“One Way or Another” -- Blondie
“Pull Up the People” M.I.A
“Ramalama (Bang Bang) – Roisin Murphy
"Rollin'" - Limp Bizkit
“Stronger” – Kanye West
“Through the Fire and Flames” – Dragon Force
“United State of Pop 2009 (Blame it on the Pop)” – DJ Earworm
“Unwritten” – Natasha Bedingfield
“War Pigs” – Faith No More
“You Give Love a Bad Name” – Bon Jovi

So, tell me friends -- what are your favorite tracks for running or working-out?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Getting Ready

This entry comes to you from the comfort of the Bolt Bus from New York to DC after an amazing night in the city to celebrate Jenny’s 23rd birthday with its “No empty glasses” splendor. Seeing everyone, wearing a pretty dress, drinking champagne, enjoying a delicious meal, and singing “Don’t Stop Believing” in a bar made an excellent evening! (Side note: I realized last night that I'm still conditioned to wait for "Livin' on a Prayer" and start gathering my things after "Don't Stop Believing." Thank you, Toads!)

I spent most of the trip up desperately trying to stream the US-Ghana game. I had pretty consistent radio until we hit the middle of the New Jersey turnpike. (One more reason why New Jersey is a terrible, terrible place.) Then, I relied on ESPN Game Cast and the accompanying commentary for score updates. I was really counting on sweet, sweet revenge for Ghana’s triumph in ’06, but I’m looking forward to 2014.

I also created a training schedule on the way to the city: a colorful, week-by-week Excel spreadsheet with everything that I’ll need to do to be ready for this thing in October. I used my total mileage for the week of June 21 as my base week and will proceed from there. I ran two miles each day Monday through Thursday and topped off the week with six miles on Saturday for a total of 15 miles. Aside from dodging tourists near the Washington Monument and the White House, Saturday's run was amazing. Today is going to be a recovery day, and I have a hot date with a stationary bike once I get back to DC.

Week 1 will start easy: stationary bike on Monday, three miles on Tuesday, stationary bike on Wednesday, three miles on Thursday, and Friday off. Saturday will be my first challenge: eight miles. Sunday will be an (easy) three.

Total for the week: 17 miles.

I’ll be calling my physician later this week to schedule an appointment. It’s not time for my yearly, but I imagine chatting with her before I start running long distances is the responsible thing to do. Plus, I want to talk to her about nutrition during this process – you know, the right about of protein, carbohydrates, and all that jazz. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do this right.

Now, onto making a kick-ass running playlist…

Friday, June 25, 2010

Reluctantly Crouched at the Starting Line

Welcome to the obligatory, tl;dr introductory post!

Somehow, you’ve stumbled upon this blog – either because you’re my friend and I told you about this or you’ve managed to surpass the number of necessary clicks on your Google search for running shoes. You may want to click that little “x” on your web browser.

No really…

Turn back now!




Still here, eh? Well, you asked for it.

A few weeks ago at French Night/Lady Pod (you’ll probably hear more about this later), a friend suggested running the Baltimore half-marathon in October. I’ve never run more than six miles so I figured a half-marathon would be a nice challenge. (What?) Then, I remembered something important – I’m an over-achiever. (Danger, Will Robinson!) Why run 13.1 miles when you can run 26.2?

Heh, heh, heh…Wait a minute!


And, I’ll be completely honest with you – I am no runner.

I started jogging for fitness and weight loss about a year ago when I moved to DC. It was hard not to run, especially when I saw the huge number of people who ran in the glorious northwest quadrant. So, like every other young professional, I grabbed my iPod, put on my running shoes, and went – usually with a clearly mapped route. The first few runs were terrible. I somehow let myself get so out of shape that I was winded after 1.5 miles at a pretty slow pace. But, I kept going and eventually got myself to running 3 miles every other day during the work week and completing longer runs (five or six miles) on weekends.

Needless to say, the results have been fantastic – since I moved to DC and started running and cross training like there is no tomorrow, I’ve lost about 20 pounds and am in the best shape that I’ve been in for a while. Diet helped as well, I’m sure. There’s something magical about abandoning the college diet of beer, pizza, late night snacks, and sugary coffee that does wonders for one’s health and body image.

I’ve almost reached my weight goal, but once I’m there, I know that I'm going to want to pursue a new goal. Enter the marathon.

So, that brings me here: the moment that I decided to blog about the road to race day. I’ve had blogs before. Most of my blogs aired on the side of Teen Angst in Space (my twenty-something self has since brought those blogs to a close). A tumblr that I keep is a place to drop silly links but there isn’t much substance. But, this is going to be a journey and something that I want to share with you, my readers. As a bonus, I can also promise you (hilarious) insights into my life outside of training because, honestly, there are only so many “OH GOD! WHY AM I DOING THIS!? THIS HURTS SO MUCH! I’M QUITTING. I MEAN IT THIS TIME. I'M QUITTING TOMORROW.” posts that I’m willing to write and fewer that you’re willing to read.

This weekend, my focus will be planning an 18-week training schedule that includes healthy doses of walking, cross training, strength training, and running farther than I’ve run in my life. Training will kick off on Monday, June 28. Race day is October 16.

I’m ready for the challenge.

Ladies and gents, I hope that you enjoy this crazy ride.