Monday, December 30, 2013

Holiday Half Recap ie A lesson in humility

It's been a long time.  I've been delaying writing up the story of the Holiday Half because honestly, I'm still recovering.  I am also an idiot.

Have you ever run yourself so far into the ground that you're still paying for it two weeks later?  Because that's what happened to me!

I'm going to start at the beginning of the week:  Training was going great!  For the past three weeks or so, I'd been running workouts I'd only dreamed of running in the past.  I was unstoppable!  At least for me!  Feeling awesome!  Watch out Lauren Fleshman!

But I was coming down with a cold that I'd been fighting off for a couple weeks.  I feel like colds are like playing the lottery.  Sometimes if you ignore it and go on with life as usual, you're fine, and sometimes you hit the sickness jackpot.

I decided to play the lottery.  On Tuesday I had the best tempo run of my life probably with 10 miles at 7:17 pace (it's killing me to write that right now).  I was working like crazy because I work in ecommerce and the couple weeks before the holidays are always nuts.  I also flew to Vegas and back in one day on Wednesday to give a talk...and oh yeah...my boyfriend was also moving to Nor Cal that weekend so we were trying to hang out as much as possible before he took off.   I was kind of dying.

I wasn't sure if the Holiday Half was going to be a training effort or a race effort but training had been going so well, I thought that I'd be missing an opportunity to not try.  So Thursday I ran 4 miles at GHMP (7:10) to prepare for Sunday.  It felt ominously not as easy as I was hoping.

After saying goodbye to ~R~ on Friday and dosing up on meds, I decided to continue playing it by ear and see how I felt on race morning.

Cue the ominous music....

On Sunday morning, I woke up and met Monica and Heather in some random parking lot in Orange County.  We drove up to Pomona and parked.  Heather was going for a double PR weekend so that was cool.  After running a couple minutes to warm up, I thought "fuck it...I'm going to try to race this thing.  I feel terrible, but I am awesome and maybe luck will be on my side! I am AWESOME".

The gun went off and my hubris lasted about 2 miles.  My first mile was 7 flat and my second was around 7:15 or so.  I was already feeling like I was working and as we all know....feeling like you're working hard 2 miles into a 13 mile race is no bueno.

So I thought..."You know what?  I'll slow it up and wait for the 1:40 pacer...that'll be a good workout for me...just an easy tempo really!  Yeah!  1:40 will be EASY.".

I am somehow giving my friend the stink eye in this picture and that's too awesome not to post.
Famous last words.  I waited up for the 1:40 pacer and joined his group.  Like a total asshole, I started chatting cheerily with him, acting like 7:38 pace after a week from hell is like a walk in the park for me. That lasted until about....mile 10.

(PS: I did meet along the way an incredibly inspiring woman who was going for her "first sub 1:40 post cancer."  Damn....I am pretty sure she made her goal too!)
 
With my last three miles to go, I WAS DYING.  My feelings that I could pull off an easy PR, or even tempo at this race were gone like a cookie around Cookie Monster.  I was just trying to survive at this point.  It was hot and sunny and the 1:40 pacer was getting harder and harder to keep up with.  On top of this, I started cursing myself for being so cocky.  The self-hatred, beads of sweat running down my face and the sticky Gatorade I'd thrown on myself to try to keep cooler were almost too much to take.

After being passed by the pacer, I finally ran it in.  1:40:13 was my final time.

I ran a few cooldown miles because I obviously wanted more punishment and drove my friends home.

Here's the thing though:
1) The Holiday Half is actually a lovely race.  Sure, it was hot, but it's well run and has a pretty course.


2) I have no idea why, after the week that I had, I was thinking I could go for a PR.  But that's the thing about running.  I am sure that someone out there (probably on LetsRun) has some story where they had a bad week at work, personally, and physically, and still banged out a PR.  So I can't entirely blame myself for trying in those first two miles.  #dreambigright?  #orsomething

3)  What the hell did I do to myself?  Two weeks later and I still am low-grade sick and haven't been able to run more than a mile or two below 8 minutes.  I am not sure whether this is going to make Carlsbad a bust or not.

4)  Yes...yes...I learned a lesson...at least for now.  

But it's more a life lesson that I need to keep learning:  The moment you are feeling too comfortable about something is the moment something's gonna go wrong.  Here's to never getting too comfortable.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Carlsbad Update (What's different this time)

I'm training for the Carlsbad marathon and I'm really trying to do all the right things this time!   I've made so many mistakes in previous marathon training cycles, and a lot of it just has to do with insufficient training.  So here's what I've been changing this time.

1) Long Tempos
Every Tuesday, I've been running a tempo run in training for Carlsbad.   And speedwork on Thursdays, and a sort of long run on Saturdays.  (I like to get my long runs out of the way Saturday mornings so I can booze / bad food it up on Saturday nights without regret).

I'm loosely following the Hanson's training plan and it calls for weekly tempos that get up to 10 miles.  So far, I've been upping the mileage one more mile every two weeks.  I started at 6, and now I'm at the deathly mileage of 9.  Frankly, I didn't think it was physically possible for me to run this far in a tempo before work.  But here I am!

The fact that they've been going pretty well gives me hope.   Hope that I'm not completely done improving as a runner.  It kind of stands to reason that these weekly long tempo runs would help.  You know....given that I've always been too lazy to do them in the past.  Here's what they've looked like:


MORE GARMIN PICS THAN YOU THOUGHT YOU'D EVER SEE!!  
EVEN ON INSTAGRAM!!

Basically it's been going pretty well.  I think the best tempo was last week where I ran 8 miles at 7:10 pace and knocked out a 6:53 mile or something at the end.  This week's 9 mile tempo was much harder and at a slightly slower pace - 7:15.  Maybe going from 8 to 9 miles is harder than I thought, or maybe I should eat something besides fried eggs and Brussels sprouts the night before.  No I'm not on some crazy diet, I was just feeling lazy on dinner last night and that's probably not optimal for an early morning long tempo.  

Regardless, I'm really pumped at how this was going!  My plan was to get these runs up to 12 miles and that sounds impossible at this point.  We'll see though!  

2) SMILE!  Alexi Pappas (or is it Jordan Hasay?) said in some article that every time she races she tries to smile at least once.  I've been trying to do that too!   And trying to feel thankful for each run.  I know it sounds lame but it's true.  Each time I do a hard run, I've been trying to smile, at least once.  The crossing guard by the school that I run around has fallen victim to my smiling and waving each time I run around the school.  She probably thinks I'm insane.  

3) Stability:  Ok fine, this is something I can't really control, but I think it's really hard to train for anything when your life is unstable.  And if you know me pretty well, you know that I struggle a lot with major mood swings.  Right now, things are pretty good for me.  I can schedule my long runs with certainty, and generally feel pretty good when I wake up in the morning.  Sure, there are times when I wake up and feel like I want to punch myself in the face and am not ready to face the day, but for the most part, I am excited to get up and run.  And that feels good. 

So there you have it.  Hopefully these things will help me to get to Carslbad as prepared as I can be to knock out a PR!  Or at least not get killed by the hills.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Facebook deactivation. The Gang is Back together!

We're back!!!

(I know my last name isn't a secret but for professional reasons I try to keep it off the blog.  I dunno?)
Basically, Kristina and SarahOual doing Carlsbad too!  Sarah is doing the half (marathon haters anon) and Kristina is doing the full.  I am way excited to not be the only crazy person on board for a little mid-January fun in San Diego.

Kristina is the fastest person that you'd never know she was fast until you stalked her times on the internet, btw.  Like a secret agent?

My training is going just fine.  I finished last week with about 46 miles done which was funny because it felt like about 100 relative to my super low mileage weeks lately.  I did a successful "longish" tempo on Tuesday with 7 miles at about 7:25 pace.  Started at 7:38 and ended at 7:12 with more laps around the elementary school.  It's great because there are no stoplights.  The cross guards who stand there and see me run around the school 15 times must think I am truly insane.

It looks kind of like this. 

Facebook Experiment

Are you on Facebook?  I'm guessing there's a 99.9% chance the answer is yes because isn't everyone these days?

I decided a couple weeks ago to deactivate my account (you can't delete it, apparently that's nearly impossible) in an effort to have more free time / real interactions with people.  It was kind of embarrassing the amount of times I realized I was signing in every day.  I am not allowed to go back on it for one more week and am kind of unsure if I will stay off it. Here are the emotional stages of grieving I've gone through so far.

1) Internet Twitches: For the first couple days, I kept accidentally going to the site to sign in and realizing I couldn't.  It was like those people who took Ambien and started eating in their sleep.  I was probably trying to sign in in my sleep as well.

2) Posting Withdrawal:  Something hilarious just happened to me!  Was it still funny if I can't exaggerate it and post it on Facebook for all to see and laugh at and hit the like button?

3)  Stalking Stalking:  Ok fine.  This one has been the hardest.  There are a few people on facebook who I LOVE to stalk.  Not really for any reason beyond the fact that I got into the habit of stalking them and now I feel like I know all of their friends who I've never met too.  I have a problem.

4) Relief:  I am positive that people in our generation have been subjected to seeing more birthday parties, motivational phrases, Nike+ runs of 3.0919 miles, engagement rings, and drunken duck faces than all other generations since the beginning of time.  It is a relief to not see that anymore.   

5) Out of Contact:  This is the only part that I kind of regret about being off the site.  There are some people I actually like to keep up with for totally normal reasons.  I'm sure I'm also missing birthdays.  Maybe I'll use a calendar like a normal person?

6) Connected to EVERYTHING:  I can't us my Spotify account any more!  Everything is connected to facebook!!!! Ahhhhhh!

6)  Smug Confusion:  After about two weeks off Facebook, it's safe to say I don't really miss it anymore.  And I love the idea of smugly telling people this.   But it's probably safe to say that eventually it's sweet siren song will lure me back and I'll be back to reading about babies, birthdays, and Aunt Mildred's crazy political views.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How liking fall and running tempos are alike

Unlike what appears to be the entire rest of the internets, I've never really liked fall.  Changing leaves, crisp temperatures, sure (although truth be told both of those are questionable in both Houston and Southern California; the places I've spent my adult life).

But come on guys.  You know what's coming after those pretty red leaves...darker and darker days.  Soon enough, you're coming home from work and waking up and it's pitch black both times.  The holidays roll around and even if you love the holidays, it can't be denied that it's another awkward few days full of plane travel and awkward conversation.  And then it's January.  JANUARY.  It's dark and cold and you've hit rock bottom in the processional of seasons.



Am I being overly dramatic?  Absolutely, but this sort of how my brain works.  It's always been terribly hard for me to turn my brain off and enjoy the moment.   The "what's next", "you're messing that up", "how will that be in 10 miles or in 10 days" is a constant dialogue and I'm positive that spending so much time this way will be my biggest regret when I'm 80.

Fall is beautiful, just because it is, not because what's coming next.

Which brings me to my beautiful segue into running!  And tempos.  And marathoning.

I haven't signed up for Carlsbad yet, but I have started training for it (as of today) so I think it's a pretty sure thing.  I've flipped through the Hansons book and got a recommendation of Brad Hudson's book as well for a marathon plan.  (Please let me know what has worked for you).

At the same time though, I feel like it's not about WHICH plan I do, it's about actually training correctly for a marathon.  Which includes stuff like doing long marathon pace tempos - something I have never been able to make myself do.  Which is uh....probably why my marathon PR (3:32) is much slower relatively than other distances I've run.   It's kind of a no brainer.

The Hanson's plan has you starting with some 6 mile marathon pace tempos near the start of the plan so I did one of those today.  It was shockingly successful (well...I went too fast if I'm going to say my marathon goal pace is 3:25ish, but I didn't feel like I'm pushing too hard. I'm not going to beat myself up over that.  I'm sure I'll slow it up when these things get up to 10 miles).  The main success was that I actually completed the damn thing without straining, stopping, or hating myself.   It was almost kind of fun!  10 laps around an elementary school / park, and I didn't even run into any 2 year olds.

7:46, 7:36, 7:26, 7:32, 7:28: 7:19.

I almost feel like one of those real running bloggers posting those splits.  You know, the ones that run long tempos and post pics of their garmins and inspire people and shit?  Yeah...one day :).

(No, I did not complete this run before 4 AM.  I roll up at work at like 9:45 AM so....)

Anyways, I guess the point of this post is that sitting back and enjoying the moment is key.  Whether it's being 1 mile into a tempo run, 1 week into a marathon training plan, or just enjoying October.  Trying to avoid worrying about what will happen later or what's happening next month is a good way for me to be a happier person and be ultimately more successful as well.

Now help me remember that the next time I'm freaking out.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Hey Hey, I'm Still Alive.

Hi there. 

I'm not sure if anyone still reads this blog but if you do HEY!  Sorry for the lack of updates! 

The reason I haven't updated in a while is that every time I thought about writing something I'd either think:
A) I stare at a computer all day.  The last thing I want to do is spend more time at one.
B)  I care about this issue and I'd like to write about it, but don't know anything about it and would need to research.   Sound like a lot of work.  Hmmm...say, I wonder if there's any cake left in the fridge? 
C) I wonder if there's any cake left in the fridge? 

So. Yeah.

Lately, I've been wondering what to do with my running.  For most of the summer (after the Mountains to Beach half marathon), I pretty much spent my days pretending I was 5k training.  I did speed workouts - mostly on the treadmill - and maybe a 10 miler on the weekends.  I did this because it appeals to my general laziness.  Also, it's hard to do a long run when you stayed up the night before until 4 AM drinking wine or something. 

As you may know, I have trouble living the monastic existence that is required of many successful distance runners and after my breakup / move in May and June I was in full on party mode for a bit! 

Now I'm a little more settled in and more happy and less angry.  (And spending less of my time signing people  who suck up for visits / mailers from The Church of Scientology / SPAM about cats.  I also started dating someone new if you were wondering, and I'm incredibly excited about it.  Cross your fingers!! )

I've started wondering if it's indeed time to find a running goal.  The cooler fall temperatures have even had me craving distance runs.  (Although not Pumpkin Spice Lattes, seriously guys, what is with the obsession with Pumpkin?  There's a reason it's not popular year-round. )

So I started looking at winter marathons.  And marathon training plans.  The obvious choice if I ran a winter marathon would be Carlsbad.  It's relatively close and has a good reputation.  It's not the easiest course in the world, but hills make the world go 'round, right?  Another choice would be Austin, but that's in late February which starts bleeding into the inevitable tortuous wedding season where I get to spend my money on kitchen appliances for other people that I will never have myself. 

One marathon plan that has been recommended to me many times is the Brooks-Hanson's one.  It never has a run longer than 16 miles, but has a pretty consistent mileage base during the week. 

That left column is the number of weeks no miles
The only thing is...this plan still does not look easy.  Granted this is the Advanced Training plan, so who knows.  I'm probably not advanced. 

All I know is that I need to find a training plan that allows me to stay up late drinking and eating amazing stuff on the weekends, be great at work, and still run a kickass marathon. 

Doesn't exist?  Maybe not, but if it does, mark my words, I'll find it.

If I do end up signing up for Carlsbad, I'll probably bring the blog back because I'll need the support of the running community on here.  If nothing else, taking a break from blogging has made me realize how much of a virtual team the running blog community is.  And that's pretty lovely.  Even if everyone does use too many hashtags on instagram. 

#thanksforreading

Sunday, September 1, 2013

That time I "try-athloned."

For the past couple years, I've been thinking "yeah I should do a triathlon sometime".

It started with buying a bike a couple years ago.  And then last year, I started going swimming about once a week last summer.

The problem?  Well shockingly, I'm not as good of a biker or swimmer as I am a runner, and doing these things once a week doesn't go that far to making me an expert.  And these sports are a little less efficient than running (at least for me), so it was hard to motivate myself to do them before work, etc.  So I never actually signed up for a triathlon.

Until now.  Well...a "tryathlon".  LOL??

(Basically a race with a lot of first timer triathletes, a short distance, and a swim in a pool).

My friends Heather and Sheila were already signed up and I figured, if there was a time to just jump in and do it, now was it.

Because I've been kind of living life by the seat of my pants lately, I didn't really train at all....basically I've biked about 6 miles in the last three months and swam just a handful of times.  But I figured this would be enough to finish, just not put on a great racing performance.  Which...when you're just trying to have fun and get your feet wet (literally?), I guess it's fine.

Staging area with foot?
RUN

The race started with a 5k (billed as three miles and a 5k simultaneously, but the distance was like 3.15 on the garmin so...).    Somewhat hilariously, there were a few super competitive looking girls right at the front at the start of the 5k.  Maybe they forgot there was a "y" in tryathlon this time?  Anyway, we went off on the run and it started on a major downhill.  I tried to run the race as a tempo and not to go out too fast.  Surprisingly, I felt pretty good on the run and started passing people once the run turned back uphill.

I ran into the finish with a time of 20:49 which in retrospect, I am pretty pumped about.  That's not too much slower than when I've all out raced 5ks, and my training has been pretty booze-tastic / lax lately so perhaps this bodes well for some good races this fall?

BIKE



I took my sweet time transitioning to the bike.  Mainly because I didn't want to screw anything up or fall or forget to put on a helmet or something.  The bike was 9 miles and had two loops.  The beginning of the bike ride was pretty funny because I got promptly passed by the real athletes in the race who know how to bike and stuff.  That said, I tried to give the race a good effort but also yell encouragement to the runners on the course.  And not crash.  That too.

Anyways, I finished the bike course in 32:03 which is nothing to write home about but that's ok!

SWIM

This was the part I've been the most nervous about!  I mean...I know it was only 200 meters but still!  There was about a 200 meter run into the swimming pool and then I finally jumped into the pool.  I swam four totally confused laps and came out of the pool to finish the tri!

Yay!

You guys...my swim time was 6:24.  Seriously.  Can someone teach me how to swim?

Final

1:04:22.  20th place.

I had so much fun doing this race!  So much fun that maybe I'm going to sign up for a triathlon with a swim that's not in a pool?  Obviously I have a lot of work to put in if I ever want to get serious about three sports, but for right now, I'm ok just having fun with it.  Heather and Sheila also killed the race, btw.



The only final thoughts I have on this race, is that I would definitely recommend them for someone who (like me) wants to try out a triathlon but is kind of intimidated by the whole process.  I didn't drown or crash into anyone, and in my book, that's a win.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Airing of Small Small Grievances

Sometimes I think the world would be much better if I could change stuff.  Not the big world problems (although obviously that would be wonderful).  The little things.  I've got a lot of first world problems, y'all.  And you're going to hear about them.  Here's my list:


1)  The distribution of frosting on Frosted Mini Wheats:  Seriously man.  With the massive options in food production these days, you'd think awful pictures like this would be a thing of the past:

But no.   We are left with some mini wheats that are gloriously full of frosting and others that are barely sweet at all.  Thus, I am forced to eat all of the most frosted wheats first leaving a pathetic little pile of "Almost No Frosting" Mini wheats that no one wants to eat.   Terrible.

2) Packages of Herbs:  You know when you want to cook something nice and the recipe calls for something like "four leaves of fresh Basil"?  And then you go to the store and see this?


Why must we be forced to buy herbs in bulk quantity when ALL YOU NEED IS ONE SPRIG?!?!  And then I'm left with about 60 basil leaves that get bad.

Oh the injustice.

3) People Who Speed Up So You Can't Merge:  You know when you're driving to work and need to get on the highway?  And you start merging on the highway and some jackass behind you accelerates as fast as they can to get on the highway ahead of you causing you to have to slow down?  Congrats, acceleration dude behind me, you just saved yourself .02 of a second.

4) Maid Of Honor Speeches:  I've been to a lot of weddings.  I attribute this to the fact that I lived in Texas at a time when everyone there was getting married (ages 22-26) and now live in California where everyone my age is getting married.  And I'd say that about 2% of the Maid Of Honor speeches are any good.  They usually consist of someone talking about their best friend for 10 seconds and then bursting into tears and saying declarations of love that make no sense.  Hey lady, I know you love your friend because that's why you're the maid of honor.  Now get it together and tell us some funny stories!

5) Gaining Weight During Marathon Training:  This is one of the world's greatest mysteries to me.  How on earth is it possible to run SO many miles and have your pants be tight?  I am convinced that I exists in some weird universe that running more than 10 miles at a time actually makes my hips absorb energy from the atmosphere.

6) Parking Signs In Santa Monica:  Sometimes parking is just parking.  Other times?  It's a freaking logic puzzle.
That's right folks.  No need to study those LSAT books.  If you can figure out whether or not it's legal to park in Santa Monica, you're on your way to a perfect score.

7) The Intersection of Nice and Badass:  I feel like there's a misconception in life that people who are nice can't stand up for themselves.  That they can't be successful.  I would like to put this idea to rest.  You can be nice to everyone AND not a pushover.  And in my perfect world no one confuses niceness with a lack of badass-ness.

8)  Ticketmaster:  Tickets to an awesome show are $35 dollars.  Not bad, right?  But somehow when I buy them they are $48?  How did this happen?   Mysterious ticketmaster fees.  I will never know what actual service is being provided here but I don't like it.

So your turn to be a grumpy cat:  What are the little things that get you?  Are you with me on the mini wheats???

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ragnar Tahoe Trail (Review/Recap!)

Hi there!

Quick Updates Before the Recap:

1) The OC Fair 5k.  I'm doing it next week.  (probably as a workout, not really in racing shape). You should too.  Why?  Because it runs through the OC Fair grounds so it's flat, fast, and fun.  It's also the first place I ever broke 21, so it has a special place in my heart.

2) The iTryathlon: My friend Heather is doing this and I think I'm going to copy her.  It's high time I do a triathlon and this one is about as low key as it gets.  So low key the swim is in the pool and I probably won't drown.  Yay!

3) WatchCo:  I want to give them a mention.  They sent me a gorgeous watch (don't ask me why, but I am not questioning!), which was awesome because I've been thinking I needed a "big girl" watch for a while and they made my dreams come true.  They have a pretty huge selection (I would have gotten the wood watches if I didn't just need something more all-purpose), so it's worth hunting to find exactly what you want.

Ragnar Tahoe Trail Recap (and thoughts on the trail)

This weekend I did a whole new kind of Ragnar.  In Tahoe.  With people I'd never met on a Nuun team.  (yay Nuun thanks).


Ragnar Tahoe (and I think all Ragnar trail relays) are made up of 8 people (unless you're doing the ultra, which IMO would be really hard) and three separate loops.  Each member of the team does three loops.

In the case of this Ragnar, there was one 2.7 mile loop, one 8ish mile loop, and one 6.8 mile loop.  All of the loops were no joke and each ended on an insane uphill.  I am convinced that the race director is an evil evil person.

Here are the elevation maps, although I'm convinced they look nothing like what I ran!  Not sure why?

Despite the difficulty of each loop (I ran none of the loops faster than 10 minute mile pace!), they were truly the best part of the race.  Sometimes I would look while I was running and be amazed at how beautiful it all was.  



The first loop was short and beautiful but extremely crazy as far as elevation.  I had to talk myself down some of the downhills because it was so steep and rocky.

The second loop (that I had the pleasure to run at 3 AM) was crazy because it took us up a ski lift and dropped us up at the top of the mountain.  It was a little bit scary running on such a remote trail so late at night.  I may or may not have spent much of the time on the trail wondering if I would get mauled by a mountain lion.  That said, the experience of being taken up a ski lift all by yourself at 3 AM was eerie and pretty unforgettable.

The third loop was my favorite.  I ran/walked it with one of our teammates, Mackenzie and we both were able to take in the great views, and the gradual downhill on the tiny trails through the forest were unforgettable.

I never thought I would say this, but I actually missed the Ragnar Vans that you don't get on the Ragnar Trail.  There's something really special about hanging out with strangers (or best friends) that you HAVE TO hang out with for the next 24 hours.  In some ways, camping takes away some of the insanity and bonding experiences.  However, I did get 4 hours of sleep which is pretty insane for a Ragnar.

Ragnar did a pretty good job organizing the event for a first time go-around and the trails were marked really well.  There was always water and Nuun available and some snacks as well (smores at night!). That said, most teams took way longer than expected due to the difficulty of the trails, and having to double up so we could finish on time took away some of the fun of the competitive aspect of the event.

So in the "Regular Ragnar versus Trail Ragnar" fight I would say:  

Positives:  BEAUTIFUL views, more sleep, the opportunity to camp, don't have to pay for vans, super challenging runs.  

Negatives: Less team bonding, less variety on the course (only three loops), you're not actually traveling anywhere, and you can't allocate easier / harder / hillier legs to difference runners as needed. 

All in all, I loved doing the trail relay, but I think Ragnar is still ironing out some of the details.  I think if I had to choose, I'd still pick the Ragnar Ultra event, but I'll never forget some of the beautiful views I saw this weekend.  


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Seven Highly Ineffective Habits of Online Daters

Hi there.  I hope your first half of July was amazing.

Mine was...good?  In case you were wondering if this is still a running blog, I ran a 10k as a tempo and ran it like a minute per mile off of my PR.  Oops!   So now I'm looking for a 10k redemption run to wipe that shame out of my mind.   I also revived track party Tuesday mornings with SarahOual and it was glorious.

I've also been not running.  Between my (gloriously hot and single!) roommate and myself, we have been exploring the online dating world.   Some of the profiles we've seen and emails we've received have been a little...strange...(Not all!  Some are lovely!).  So here is Margot, Marissa and Laura's guide to the "Man-Profile".



Seven Highly Ineffective Habits of Online Daters

1) Name Time: When creating an online dating profile, one must choose a screen name.    The problem is that it's pretty much impossible to have a cool sounding name.  However, there are various ways to really go big or go home.  If you really want to impress a girl:
A) Put something like "Doc" or "MD" or something otherwise braggy in your name.   She will be impressed!  The more brags you can fit in the better.
B) Turn her on with Sexual Innunendo.  While a number of these have been spotted, I believe "phrankandbeanz" takes the cake.

2)  The Tricker: How do you make yourself stand out in the sea of daters?  Trick her.  Email something like "Hey, I know I'm not in your age bracket but I wish you the best!"  And then when she writes back to thank you, write  "Soooo...how are you?".    Gotcha!

3) The Ashamed: Here's the thing:  you're much cooler than the other people on the site.  I mean...it was your friend/mom/dog/cat who convinced you to get on it to began with, so it's important to make sure everyone knows how cool you are.  Before writing anything about yourself in your profile, write a paragraph that says "OMG I CAN'T BELIEVE I'M DOING THIS.  Let's say we met at the mall!" in about five different ways.  Bonus points if your profile pictures feature you with a bunch of slutty looking girls.   

4) Fancy Car (or Boat!) Guy: We get it, you want a down to earth girl who isn't materialistic.  But you also have a kickass car!  Worth TONS of money.  And...people need to know this.   Profile pic of car/boat instead of you?  Check and check.

5) Never Accept Failure :  If at first she does not respond, try try again.  You just didn't try hard enough.   Here's a good example:  If your lady friend does not reply at your first attempt, send another email that says "looks are not everything".  No response still?  She's playing hard to get.  Send another one that says "Welll....?".

6) Getting Your Foot In The Door:  A few white lies are totally fine.   You're 4 inches shorter than you'd like to be?  Make up your height!  You are a police officer but you think the girls you want won't like that?  Say you're an architect.  Clearly once you've met in person these tiny differences will pale in comparison to how charming you are.

7) Grammar is for losers:  No need to bother with this when you say things like "your hot".  In the words of Ross from Friends, "You're" is "you are" and Your spells YOUR.   But does it really matter?  Nah.

What are your favorite ways to impress the preferred sex?   Anyone have any battle stories to share?

*No online daters were harmed in the creation of this blog post.  As I mentioned, many people are lovely and do not brag about their cars or pretend to be seven feet tall. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm still alive. In pictures.

Hi dudes.  I hope you're doing well.  I am doing....ok.  A LOT has happened in the past couple weeks so this post will just serve to update you.  You know...if you care.  (hi mom?).

1) I moved.  Back to Orange County!  I love the OC.   The good news is that my roommate is a lot of fun.  Also, she has a big dog.  Also, the place is probably the nicest place I've ever lived (that is not saying much but still).  And the view is great.


Also, the pool is great.  There goes my excuse for not doing a triathlon due to lack of water facilities!

I am excited to be back with my running friends in the OC as well!

2) Car:  I got a new one one!  Well ok I sort of got a new one.  My mom has had two cars for a while (since my dad passed away) and I finally convinced her to let me ship out car #2 from Virginia.  It's a 2002 but now I have automatic locks.  And no one can take that piece of beautiful automation from me!

3) A Promotion:  I also got one of these at work.  It was really great because it happened about ten days after my breakup and really helped me to get through the week.

4) A Nephew: One more thing I'm lucky enough to have!  My sister in law unexpectedly gave birth last week to a beautiful baby boy.  I think this anecdotally says how I feel:

To me, most baby pictures look the same (sorry parents.  Janae's baby is the one exception for me).  It's just not that exciting to me.  But when I saw the first picture of my nephew I thought, now that is ONE CUTE BABY.  I love him already!

I can't wait to travel to New York to meet little Theo.

5) Google:  I got to go to Google headquarters for work.  This feels silly to mention but I mean...I've always wanted to go.
You know what though?  They closed the cafeteria at 2 pm so I never got to eat dessert!  Sadz.  

6) Online Dating:  I'm on it as of this morning.  I've been trying to convince myself to do this for a couple weeks but the main impetus was finding out that yesterday (while at Google) my ex is now dating his lady friend from our relationship and not trying to hide it at all.  At first I didn't care and then I wanted to stab myself in the eye because I moved out THREE WEEKS AGO. But you know, I'll continue moving on I'm better off and all other things  blah blah blah (insert cliche even though I still want to still stab myself in the eye).

The most hilarious email I got via online dating today was someone looking for me to hook them up with an ecommerce job.  Imagine that conversation with HR if I tried to follow through:

"Where did you find this guy?  LinkedIn?"

"Nah man, Match."

7)  Running:  I'm getting back into workouts.  Sort of.  I think I'm going to run a 10k on the 4th of July as a fun run with friends!  Also, Mizuno sent me this beauty today:  It's the Wave Sayonara!   The Sayonara is a lightweight trainer with a slightly lower heel drop than a traditional shoe (10 mm).

It has a tall order to match up with the Wave Elixir that is being discontinued (and is my FAVORITE shoe ever).   But I am excited to try it out and run fast in it.   And it's hot, let's face it.


Now what will end up being hotter, my online dating prospects or my runs in the Wave Sayonara?  Well, you'll have to stay tuned.  The best is yet to come, my friends.

Well, at least The Most Ridiculous Stories Are Yet To Come.  That, I can promise you.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

On finding the one

I don't know if you've been following the NCAAs but in the 5000 meter women's race yesterday, Abbey D'Agostino took first, Betsy Saina took second, and Jordan Hasay took third.

I know there's probably too much hype around Jordan Hasay (partially because she is blonde and cute but also more legitimately because she is smart, seems sweet, and is damn fast), but I must say, I love her just like everyone else does.  She finished up her college career with this quote:

“I was trying to believe in storybook endings. But that’s life. You can script it all you want, but it doesn’t always work out the way you would like it to.”

Indeed.   Thanks for being real.

Come on, what's not to love.  source
Along this line, I find it very hard to stomach inspirational phrases that say things like "If you can dream it you can do it", etc..  There are inspirational stories every day of people overcoming hardship but at the same time, you see stories of heartache and despair just as often.

I also find romantic statements about "finding the one" and "you'll know when you know" to be very frustrating.  Unless you are very religious, I don't even know how anyone can believe in "finding the one".  It is statistically nearly impossible!  Calculate the odds.   They are not good.  Look at divorce rates.

Even "Everything happens for a reason" is frustrating to me.  Try telling that to someone dying of a terrible disease.  If there is a reason for stuff like that, it sure is lost on me.

How about "If you dream it, you can work extremely hard towards that goal, do as much as you can, and thank your lucky stars you haven't gotten mixed up in some mass shooting or something, maybe you'll get there.  Head down, eyes forward.".  (Sorry, still reeling a bit from this week's Santa Monica college shooting).  

But when I stop being quite so damn pessimistic, sometimes I can try to relate to some of the magic other people seem to feel.  The main thing I can really relate it to is my job.  Is that sad?

Here is why.   I've gone through a huge number of attempted career paths (even internships) that are diverse as horticulture, oil and gas engineering, environmental consulting, education reform, and now...yes...digital marketing in the fashion space.

I wouldn't say that every single day of my life, I jump out of bed excited to go to work (there are ups and downs), but in general, I really like my job and am excited about my career path.  I can't really explain it, because I'm not THAT into fashion, or marketing, but I love the combination of data analysis, fun people, constantly changing technologies, reacting to customer behavior, and come on...who doesn't like clothes.  In times like these, when my personal life is a bit of a mess, I almost can't wait to go into work on Monday morning.

I have family connections in the business, but still, without a number of weird hardships, there is no way I would have ended up in digital marketing.  So maybe everything doesn't happen for a reason, but sometimes out of bad stuff comes good stuff.  Right?

And I don't want to fool myself into thinking that this is the only job I will ever have, or the only thing that would give me fulfillment, but I know that I am very lucky to like my job.

So maybe that is what you crazy dreamers are talking about when you say you found the one.  Or that you're reaching your dreams.  Logically, you know that the stats are stacked against all of your dreams coming true and finding THE BEST person in the world for you.  But you sure are thankful that you found things that you love and love you and want to believe you're on the right path.

And that's where I am right now.  Listening to my instincts, trying to be thankful for what I have, hoping that I'm on the right path...and oh yeah...maybe trying to take inspirational phrases a little less literally.  I think that will work better for me :).

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

This Week

I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm aware that there are people in the world with MUCH greater problems than me right now.  Unfortunately, this is the problem I am dealing with right now so it feels very central to my life and thoughts.  Hopefully this won't be the focus of my blog for too much longer, but it may be.  We'll see. So uh...sorry. 

This week has been harder so far.  More normal, but more real and emotionally harder.   Guess I was just running on adrenaline last week.

What's Going Ok

The good news is that in about 82% of situations that have arisen in the past week, I have taken the high road.  I've done a couple things that I'm sure I'll look back on and not be proud of, but I've tried to keep yelling, screaming, and revenge plots (beyond just in my head) to a minimum.  The thing is, in a way it's selfish.  Anything nutty I have already done has just made me feel bad in turn and anything decent I do makes me feel better.

I've also returned to some semblance of productivity at work.  I'm maybe at 71%.

Some other good news is that I have moved all of my things out and have actually put in an application on a place to live in ORANGE COUNTY!!!  Back to the burbs, my friends.  I've tried LA twice now, and it's just not my favorite.

Getting ready for dinner every night at Macaroni Grill.

The reason why I found a place to live so fast is 1) I don't want to be a deadbeat with all of my stuff in plastic bags forever.... 2) I found some girl looking to move from a 1 bedroom to a 2 bedroom who I really like.  I felt "omg I hope I'm not misjudging you but I think we could be really good friends" like.

I didn't want to let her get away.  So I told her "sure I'll live with you" after about 5 minutes of researching the place.  Call me stupid, but for some reason it feels right and many of my best decisions in life have been made by trusting my gut.

The Bad News

I thought that getting my stuff out of my old apartment, getting off the lease, and filling out an application for a new place would make me feel better.  Which it does, but it's also been surprisingly hard.  The sad finality that I feel is unexpected.  And it's a weird experience essentially evicting yourself.

The worst part about all of this, is that I've passed the "SCREW YOU I HATE YOU ALL SO MUCH" phase and am now moving into the phase of "But remember all the good things...ahhhh what am I going to do without you?" part.

Or at least the "But remember all the good things....MARGOT CALL YOUR BEST FRIEND SHE WILL COMFORT YOU YOU NEED TO MOVE ON NAAHHHHH I am not LISTENING!!!!".  This is the conversation I am having with myself.

 It's much easier when you can think of people who hurt you as solely comic super-villains.  But unfortunately that only exists in Batman cartoons.

Things are complicated and situations are complicated but I am just trying to take it all one day at a time and stay around people who I know to be stable, nice, and trustworthy.   One thing I know about life is that no situation, no matter how bad or good, ever lasts forever.  So I am just trying to wait this one out.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A more rational update

As I go through this transition, I have no doubt that this blog is going to be a great outlet for my feelings and how I rebuild.

If you missed the more dramatic post that lived for about two hours (in the case you did JEEZ can't believe you aren't checking my blog hourly) the short of it is that my nearly three year relationship ended in the most dramatic way with my chasing after a car.  There had been a lot of shitty things going on for a while and it hit a breaking point earlier this week.

It's too bad because we lived together (I suppose we are still legally living together as I try to move out ASAP).  It's also too bad because like most relationships, I entered into this one with the greatest happiness and optimism.  I was really happy we were together.

People have been asking "how are you doing?".

Honestly, I'm ok.  Or at least I think I am going to be ok barring any major disasters moving forward.  I am shocked at how ok I am.  I really thought I was going to be a completely dysfunctional shell of a human being for months but unless I am still in shock, that is not the case.  I think there are a number of reasons for this:

1) My Gosh You All Are Awesome:  I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from my family, friends, internet friends, and people I have never even spoken to before.  From my brother (and many others) who offered me a place to stay and offered to help me move, to my cute blog friends who sent me flowers to my coworkers taking me to lunch, to readers writing me notes.  Seriously.  Never in my life have I felt so loved.

2) You Can't Be Killed When You're Already Dead:  I went through about three breakdowns over the past few months over our relationship during arguments.  I mean, shaking, crying, have a headache afterwards arguments.  I tend to cling onto relationships until their last dying breath which is probably unhealthy.  But the good news is that when you finally break up, you are so relieved you don't have to do that again, it's not so bad.

3) Long Term Compatibility and Sadness:  I will get all mature here and say that even four days out from this debacle, I can see so many areas of incompatibility.  Areas that I knew existed but it's like all of a sudden I can see them.  Also, and I don't know if this is the relationship or not (and this may sound a little scary) but for the past few months, I've just had an overwhelming sad feeling.  Like when I would drive down the freeway, I would fantasize about crashing my car on the rails.   That's not normal.  And while I am incredibly sad, all of a sudden that feeling is gone.  At least for now.  And that's a good thing.

4) The Future is my Oyster:  All of a sudden I can do exactly what I want.  That's scary but it's also exciting.  I can run whatever races I want without the fear of grumbling about them.  I can take a damn cake decorating class if I want without worrying if it's going to mess with anyone's schedule.  As a rule, I love taking care of others and don't mind changing things for others, but the feeling of freedom feels nice.   There is of course, the general feeling of annoyance/fear of being 30 and single when I truly do want to get married and have kids.  But more than those things, I want to be happy and treated well.  So that's my priority right now.

5) It's been worse and it will be worse:  I've experienced worse periods in my life and survived them.  And sadly, I'm sure that worse things will happen in my life.   You gotta get through the shitty parts to experience the awesome parts, right?   And to put it all in prospective, I am incredibly thankful to have a decent job and great family so I can get myself out of this situation without too much worry of imposing or wrecking myself financially.

So there you have it.  Here's hoping that the future brings plenty of great blog material like "look at my new roommate and me be hilarious together" and "I'm now dating this dude isn't he cute" and "wow I run so much better now, amazing" and "I made this cake, check it out, succcckas".

And if it doesn't, well I ask for your support because while I am optimistic I know this will not be easy. But I believe it will be for the best.

Thanks.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Mountains to Beach Half Marathon Recap

Man...I don't know.  I told myself I was kind of done with this blog unless I had something big to say.

BUT I HAD A PRETTY DECENT RACE SO THAT COUNTS RIGHT?!?!?!

Here's the story.

To preface, the last couple weeks have been hard for me.  Which is, at this point, how I seem to start many of my blog entries.  For whatever reason, unexpected normal but tough life occurrences that many people seem to handle with grace and calmness have the tendency to send me into a tailspin.  And then I can't stop ruminating, lose interest in just about everything external, and end up barely hanging on.

The good news is that not being able to do anything works well with a taper.  

So the day before Mountains To Beach, a half marathon that I actually trained pretty hard for (mostly on the treadmill!), I was laying in bed mid-afternoon, wondering if I should just call it off.  I knew getting up to Ojai and being with friends would make me feel better so I told myself that it was cool to jog it if I wanted, and to just go have a fun girls weekend.  So I dragged myself out and that's what I did.

Turns out the whole area is pretty freaking beautiful. Even though Ventura / Ojai is only an hour North of LA I hadn't had the pleasure of seeing it in a long time.

Totally Stolen Pic but this is what it looks like!
I arrived around 8 PM and my high school track buddy (since 1997!) Kristee had picked up my packet for me and was hanging at the hotel.  Sarah arrived shortly afterwards.  I complained to both of them for about an hour (THANKSFORLISTENING) and then we decided to fall asleep.

Race morning arrived at the time when most college kids are going to bed for the night before:  3:45 AM.  It was rough.  Sarah, Kristee and I went to go pick up Robyn from her hotel and we started hunting for parking at the start.  This hunt may or may not have included going the wrong way on a road, and some strategically moved cones.  No pics, so it didn't happen.

It was a serious looking crowd at the start of the half, with a frighteningly small amount of matching outfits and tutus.  I imagined the scenario where I would finish in last.  

Kristee and I agreed to run together for the first couple miles of the race and then see how we felt.  (We're about the same speed in longer distances although she could kick my butt x1000 in anything shorter than a half marathon.) 

The gun went off, and I fell into a pace right by a couple nice dudes who introduced themselves to me and said they were gunning for a 1:33 or 1:34.  I figured that was a little fast but it would be great to have more people to run with.

Mile 1: 7:25

Just warming up.  I wanted this to be between 7:15 and 7:25 and then gauge from there.

Mile 2: 7:13

Kristee starts telling me that she can't breathe well (allergies).  I worry but we keep going.

Mile 3: 7:13

Just steady, easy.

Mile 4: 7:17

Mile 5: 7:07

Mile 6: 7:09 I am feeling amazing at mile 6.  I start contemplating gigantic PRs.  We pass a water station playing Gangnam Style and I start dancing to it.  The crowd goes wild (ok not wild but they laughed!).

Mile 7: 7:07  Kristee tells me again that she is not feeling good.  I think that she is running pretty darn good for someone who can't breathe!

Mile 8: 7:16  I am starting to feel it.

Mile 9: 7:11  DON'T SLOW DOWN NOW DON'T SLOW DOWN NOW.  LIGHT ON YOUR FEET STOP STOMPING.

Mile 10: 7:18 I tell Kristee that it's only 1 mile and then a 5k, but I am really trying to comfort her and myself.

Mile 11: 7:19 I am struggling.  Kristee says "after this turnaround we're mentally there".  I believe her and it helps.

Mile 12: 7:24 I started mentally counting down the distance in track terms.  Just 3 800s at 3:37 pace?  Come on, that's simple.

Mile 13:  7:30 I am obviously slowing down and Kristee looks strong.  She runs ahead while telling me "these people are passable" about the 5 or so people just a few yard ahead.  They must have been dying because I manage to pass them. 

I also start thinking things like "Think about all the things that make you angry.  Yeah!  Screw them!"  It feels good.

Edited in after original post because let's face it, this picture is amazing.
Finish!  I see the 1:34's turn over on the clock as I sprint in and I know I'm not going to make it on the south side of 1:35.  But that's ok, it's still a PR.

Kristee finished in 1:34:55 and I finished in 1:35:05.  
(I believe I was 16th female and 3rd in age group.)

We high five each other and discuss how it would have been so much harder without being able to push each other.

The cherry on top was seeing Oual's smile after she told me she broke 1:40 just a few minutes later and seeing my friends Gisele and Mason PR as well. 

Afterthoughts

I PR'd by 45 seconds and I am happy with any PR at this point.  (All of my PRs are now at least a year old).  I'm happy to see the work I put into training for this pay off.

So many times when I race, I remember why I run.  And it's a different reason every time.  This time, it was for the relief.  Being able to get out and run with an old friend, forget about everything, and just leave it all on the road is priceless.

And it's probably just a little more priceless when you happen to finish near the beach and see your hard work pay off. 

(Thanks for reading).

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Running...Functioning?

I haven't talked about my own running in quite some time.

This is for a couple reasons:

1)  It's not exactly rocket science on my part.  I have no magical training techniques and I remain quite the hobby jogger.   Hurrah!

2) I was running really poorly over the fall and semi poorly over the winter.  I like to brag as much as the much average Jane and when I run crappy workouts, there's little opportunity to do this.  Dangit!

But I am still running.  And it's going ok.  Here's #proof.

A couple notes.  Yes, that's a text string to OUAL and I still have her in my phone as "Sarah-Soon-To-Be"!  Also, she broke her phone so it's not like she was a jerk to not reply to the upper congratulatory text.  

I digress. The point is that I've actually been training.   I'm planning to run the Mountains to Beach Half Marathon in three weeks and ever since I ran the Lucky Half in Sacramento I've been trying to add extra intensity into my workouts.   I feel like there's potential to PR although no guarantee.   Also, Mountains to Beach has an elevation drop of about 200 feet which is not enough to make it a cheater course (I think?) but enough to make it a damn easy course (I hope).

I've been running a lot of tempo-ish stuff on the treadmill at 1% incline.   I've been pretty consistent about doing two tempo / speed sessions and one fast finish long run on weekends.  I'm still not sure if running fast on the treadmill equals running fast without a giant moving belt under you outside, but hey, it makes it easy to get the workout in and workout > no workout, right?

Here are three workouts I've done that make me think I don't suck:

1) 6- mile tempo "wave" at around 7:04 about two weeks ago.

I don't really know the science behind the wave tempo, and I altered the pace from 7:30 to 6:40 throughout this run.  All I know is that altering the pace every 800 meters keeps me from going insane or quitting.

2) 3 @ 6:54 pace, 1.5 @ 6:43 pace and 1@ 6:35 pace with 2.5 minutes rest between intervals.   

I made this one up as I went along.  I figured, start around threshold pace for a faster-side short tempo, and then run a little faster on tired legs.  I was happy about it because 5 miles of tempo-y intervals around 10k pace can't be a bad thing, right?

3) 9.5 miles easy + 5 miles at 7:15 pace.  

I did this today as some sort of "peak" workout for the half training.  It hurt like hell (see above text).  Honestly it felt harder than it should.  This concerns me.  But I've been traveling a ton lately, eating terribly, and sleeping not-enough so I figured, if I could do this feeling like crap, maybe it's a good sign for how I can run fully rested.

Which brings me to my next question:  How do you prioritize running in your life?   And how do you remain fully functional even if you get up really early, run a really hard workout, etc?

I struggle with this.  I mean it's easy to say "Oh I wake up at 3 AM to run 15 miles and I just make myself do it", but I mean...if I do something like that, I am risking feeling bad for the rest of the day.   I'm risking losing productivity because I need to go back and take a nap or just can't function well.  I'm human and stuff and I am one of those people that needs sleep.

And with other priorities it can be tough to be productive when all you want to do is lay on the floor and foam roll.   I noticed this particularly when I was in Florida for a work conference this week (it was honestly not all THAT stressful, see shark fishing pic below.  It's "team building", y'all!).   But it was time-intensive as are all conferences.



For Example:  Prior to all the shark fishing fun, on the first day of the conference, I got up really early to run before all the festivities got started.  Then I got ready to go to sessions, and I couldn't stay awake at all.  I had to go back to my hotel and take a nap I was so exhausted.   I felt guilty because I knew that my exhaustion was a result of my waking up so early to run (going to bed early was not an option because I arrived in town very late).

The same thing has happened when I've run really hard or long workouts before work.

So how do you prioritize your running and your time when you know it might cut into how you perform other activities during the day?   Rearrange things?  Say "screw running" for the day?  Say "screw doing other important stuff" for the day?   Be extra careful about nutrition (because maybe this is a factor)?

I'm still looking for how to balance things AND be 100% present for other things.   And no, chugging espressos every 10 minutes along with slapping myself in the face to wake up is NOT an option.  Not that I've tried that, of course.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Freak of Vacation

I've found that the amount of exercise I do is perceived in different ways depending on the person I'm talking to.

People who are moderately serious runners, former college athletes, and the like usually shrug after I tell them I "only average around 40-45 miles or so a week" and tell me I should train harder.

On the flip side, a large portion of people look like I am A SUPER FREAK when hearing this mileage figure that I see as being very moderate.  Because of this, I generally tend to avoid talking much about my running in detail with most people.  Luckily for them, most non-runners don't give a shit about my 5 mile tempo run, so my avoidance of discussing this part of my life is really keeping them from dying of boredom as well.  Win-win!

I mean...I kind of get it...like when I was in middle school and we had to run the mile it was about the worst experience ever.  So if someone had told me they ran by choice on a daily basis, I would have thought they needed a mental exam.   But at this point....easy 5 mile runs are about as easy as walking down the street.  It's just a way to clear my head and get some fresh air.

There are a few times, however, when my policy of "non-running discussion" is not an option.  One of them is when I visit my boyfriend's family mid-marathon training and I try to sneak out of the house before his sweet mom pounces on me to make me a bacon and eggs breakfast.  (don't try to do a long run after this, you will regret it the entire time!).

The second time is when I'm on vacation.  I know I may be in the minority on this, but I really enjoy running when on vacation.  Not workouts, but slow 40 minute jaunts as long as the schedule permits.  If it can't happen, it can't happen, but as long as there's a safe stretch of road and some time, I figure why not.

Like this last weekend, I went on a quick vacation.  I went to Vegas for a bachelorette party!  It was good times!


And for both of the mornings...even after heavy boozing....I got up and went on a run.

When people on a group vacation who don't know you very well realize you are running the mornings in a place like Vegas, they become perplexed and give you the super-freak look.  It brings forth comments like "Oh wow, you'll really earn this buffet!",  "You know I ran a half-marathon once", "Wow good for you...SO healthy", "You don't need to lose weight" and "Maybe I'll go on a run later..I DID bring my workout gear...".

All well-meaning comments.  But I never know what to say in response!  There are a number of reasons why I went on a runs in Vegas and it has very little to do with health or being virtuous.   It's just something I do, just like getting dressed, eating meals, and going to the grocery store.  The questions and comments make me a little uncomfortable because I don't think I deserve any compliments for going on a short slow run, and frankly it's slightly addictive behavior on my part.  And I am certainly not trying to make anyone else bad for not exercising.   So I tried to think of why I enjoy running on vacation:

1) I'm obsessive about patterns and routines as shit and so doing a daily run helps me feel normal and not freak out about other things.   This is the main one.  I admit it.

2) It's kind of fun to get a little time to myself in the mornings because I get overwhelmed in large social groups.

3) Why not?  We got hella free time!

4)  I've got some dope music on my ipod I want to listen to.

5) People watching, people watching, people watching.

and secret option 6)  It's a nice day out and I like to run!

So unless the weather is bad, I usually just go with option 6 as my explanation.   Unless the person is a psychiatrist and I'm in a chair, it's probably the best response.

I guess there's no end in sight to the "Super Freak Vacation Runner" looks, unless I manage to sneak out of hotel rooms at 3 AM and slip back into bed, sight unseen. I figure this pattern will just continue.  I'll keep running when I can in random places, people around me will continue to comment on the fact that it's surprising that I'm running, and I'll continue to feel slightly like a freak when I try to explain why I went on a run.

I suppose worse things could happen :).

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston

I'm not sure if I have anything to add to this conversation but I feel compelled to write. 

I am angry and sad. 

First and foremost I am thinking of those who lost their lives.  I am so sorry for their loved ones.   It makes no sense and I have no words.  Why.

I am thinking of those who were injured in the blast today.  I can't imagine what they are going through. 

I am sorry for the runners in the Boston Marathon who trained for months only to not be able to finish the marathon because an explosion occurred before they could reach their goal. 

I am sorry for those who did finish the marathon, but tonight, instead of celebrating the glory of their finish, they mourn like the rest of us.

I am thinking of the people of Boston, who had their city attacked and one of their most cherished and happy traditions targeted. 

I am also thinking of those who won the marathon.  This moment is one of the greatest happiest moments one can have in the sport of running, and it was stolen from them. 

I am sad for the running community.  An attack at the finish line of Boston feels so personal to so many of us.  Whether you've run Boston before, are an avid runner, or are just a part of the community, it's hard to explain how this feels, or what it means. 

I am thinking of anyone reading this, who feels like normal everyday activities like going to the movies, going to school, or attending a sporting event are not safe anymore.   To anyone who feels like they are losing faith in humanity, don't lose hope.

I know that many stories of heroism will come out of this tragedy.   And I know that the running community will slowly heal.  Thinking of all of you. 


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The thing about the shill...

Have you guys read Roserunners latest blog entry?  Like a lot of her posts, there's a really interesting discussion going on in the comments.  And it's inspired me to write a post on a similar topic that's coming up in the comments on her blog.

Products and Bloggers

In the running blogging community, there seem to be two extremes on the whole "shilling / product placement" thing.


I feel like I fall somewhere in the middle.  I certainly don't mind getting free stuff, especially free stuff I would have bought anyways (Mizunos..Nuun...).  To be honest I've saved a considerable amount of money as a result of Mizuno's generosity.  But then...writing about products is awkward.   Even if I like the product.  Not only am I am fully aware that a lot of people don't enjoy product placement type posts, I don't blog that often, so a post stays up forever.  And I almost never blog about products or "what I wore" outside of a brand partnership.  I am pretty sure no one cares what I wore or ate because I certainly don't :). 

So what's appropriate in the blogging community when it comes to promoting products?  Obviously you can't make everyone happy all of the time, but here's my opinion on the whole thing.

The Blogger

While I don't really agree  with the "if you don't like it, don't read" philosophy (there are a lot of things that I don't like, but still can't stop reading), I apply this to constant giveaways and promotions on blogs and not even by choice.  This is because I get bored and kind of forget about blogs that are constantly promoting products.  Everyone has their own reason for reading blogs, and mine include looking for a laugh, good training advice / inspiration, or just keeping up with a friend.  I don't need more reasons to be encouraged to buy more random shit I don't need.  

That said, it's just mildly annoying for me.  If someone tweets that wearing compression socks helped them win the race, I usually just roll my eyes and move on.  I figure, the blogger doesn't necessarily owe me an entertaining experience.  In the case of misrepresentation (saying something is awesome that sucks or not saying that they were compensated), I guess that's wrong, but I don't really take anyone's product opinion posted online that seriously anyways.  People write fake reviews on Yelp, people post living social deals on Facebook just because they want to get it free for themselves, and people write random-ass product reviews on blogs.  For better or worse, readers should be careful when reading any advice online.


The Companies

All the anger directed toward companies that work with bloggers doesn't make that much sense to me.  In my day job, the main things that would influence my working with a blogger would be :
1) The amount of revenue/exposure that could be gained in the partnership
2) Are they a fit with the brand
3) They are not an ax-murderer.  

I don't care if the person is the worst writer in the world, if they have a huge loyal following, I would want in.   As part of the company, it's not really my opinion to form.   The way I see it, these companies are just trying to make a buck, and for smaller companies, it can be a good way to get some brand awareness and traction.

People don't get angry in the same way when Coke shows up in a product placement in a movie, or when they constantly hear the "Tostitos Fiesta Bowl", and I don't see how working with bloggers is that much different.  It's annoying to be bombarded with the same product over and over again in social media, but it doesn't mean the company owners are assholes.  Seems to me like they are just trying to make a buck like the rest of us.

Is there a way to do it right?  

Even though product placement doesn't bother me that much, it clearly annoys the crap out of a lot of people.  And that needs to be considered, because unfortunately for my ego, my opinion and emotions are not the only ones that matter.  

I think in running blogging, it's a particularly sensitive subject, because there are elite runners out there who don't get anything for free, and people who run 15 miles a week who get valuable products and compensation.   It's not like being a fashion blogger where someone can't say "she sucks at dressing herself, how come this elite dresser didn't get these Chloe boots instead?".  Running blogging is less subjective.

So...is there a way to still partner with a brand in a way that feels authentic and not in a way that's comes across as fake, annoying, or misleading?  The only thing I know that has worked for me is to work with a brand that or product that I'd buy anyways.  So that way, if I tweet about something, I feel a little awkward but at least I don't feel like I'm lying.   But who knows.  Maybe I still annoy everyone.   I don't really get much more than occasional products and Starbucks money off my blog anyways as I'm not in the class of bloggers trying to make substantial cash off their blogs.

What do you think about product placement / giveaways on blogs?

Is there a good way to partner with a brand?  Or is it all just too annoying?

Friday, April 5, 2013

Locking Down That Man in College

Have you guys heard about some Princeton Alumna named Susan Patton advising current students to "Find a Husband on Campus Before You Graduate"?    Basically Patton is arguing that when you are in an elite college, you're surrounded by people who are as smart and ambitious (and rich?) as you and so this is the best time to lock down a man.  Not a husband OR wife...just a husband. Because this was directed towards straight girls.

There has been a huge response to this, with many people saying "What the F" and then a number of others saying that she may actually have a point.

First and foremost I have no problem with the prioritization of relationships at any point in someone's life.  If someone really wants to find a mate at any point in their life, more power to them and best of luck in finding what they are looking for.   So that's not my issue with this.  Here are my issues:

Snottiest attitude ever!!  It seems that Patton is assuming that people at Princeton are the most desirable...period.   Forget things that student may really be looking for the most like sense of humor, being generous, humble, loving, etc. which are not exclusive to the school.   Or even wanting intelligence and ambition which believe it or not, exists outside of the Ivy league.  

Why was this just presented as an argument for girls?  Studies show that men who get married are happier and make more money than those who stay single  (I couldn't find the happiness study, but it exists..).   In the case of earnings women tend to earn more when they delay marriage or do not marry at all.   So if we're just focusing on shallow stuff like status already, why not focus on this earnings stat and encourage the men to find themselves a Princeton woman?

source
Is every girl at Princeton both straight, and wanting to get married?   Seriously...you'd think after all this press about gay marriage, Patton would have remembered to include groups that won't be needed or wanting to lock down a man.

Friends and Networking: I 100% agree that college is more than about just classes.  And I would encourage any girl or guy going to college to make friends that are smart, ambitious, friendly, caring, loving, etc....that way they'll have a wonderful network of friends to have as a personal and professional support as they go through life.  And if one of those friends happens to be one they want to marry, wonderful.   If not, that's fine.

Do what you want, but if marriage is your only goal, don't take the spot of someone who actually cares about the education.  If someone is really coming to an Ivy league school with the main purpose of finding a spouse, I would argue that they should GTFO and give the spot to someone who cares about the education.  If you really just want to meet Princeton boys, live by the campus, hang out at the coffee house while wearing a cute sundress, and go to their frat parties.  I'm sure something will work out.

If you're not ready you're not ready.  When I was in college, I had a really wonderful boyfriend for about 2 years.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with him, he had a ton going for him and I am sure we could have gotten married afterwards.  But I wasn't ready.  I don't know why and I can't explain it, but it's true.  I know it's a jungle out there if you are dating the real world, but you can't rush feelings, and the ability to commit.

Become an engineer!  Ok this one is kind of a joke.  But if you want to be surrounded by a bunch of smart dudes in college, get in the engineering program.   The closer you get to completely male dominated disciplines like Electrical Engineering, the better.  I guarantee, at least 20% of the class will have a crush on you.   If you're lucky, you'll find your man in college.  If not, rest assured, you have the rest of your working life to be a minority surrounded by intelligent (although potentially nerdy) boys.  Hooray!

So.  Thoughts on the article?  Should I be sad I didn't lock down a Rice University man?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Hard Work Beats Talent?

You know Evan Jager?

Yeah...that gangly long-haired steeplechase dynamo who you know...holds the American Record in the 3000 meter Steeplechase.   Well this is what his twitter profile looks like (not that I'm stalking):



"Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard."

Hard to argue with that in his situation.  Although...I suppose it depends on the level of talent.  I feel pretty certain Shalane Flanagan could kick my butt in the mile even if she decided to stop running for 5 years and race me while doing the backwards crabwalk.

So maybe "Fairly talented/ hard work beats ridiculously talented when ridiculously talented doesn't work hard".  Doesn't have the same ring, does it?

Of course, there are some pretty crazy stories of what has happened to people who weren't at the top from day one:

 There's Ariana Hilborn who went from running her first marathon in 4:38 to getting an Olympic Trials "A" standard just a few years later.   Or Desi Davila who, while she was a high school standout, there was nothing in her 19:10 5000 meter college debut that indicated she would be an Olympian.   On a smaller scale, I get to watch many of my running friends run PR after PR and improve to run times that are truly great.

Amazing and inspiring stuff!   Obviously the product of crazy hard work and countless hours doing workouts.

But then I can think of my own anecdotes of the differences in talent in people:

Like during my high school track days where...honestly, it was just obvious who had more natural talent.  We all ran similar workouts.  As a high school mid-packer, there were people that would never ever beat me, and girls who I would never beat in a million years.  It wasn't that one person was working a lot harder than another....some people just seemed to benefit from the training or were just fast out of the gates from their first season.

source.  This is the cross country team from my high school 8 years after I graduated creepily taken off their website.  Because I don't have any pictures of my own team.  Go figure, no social media or digital cameras back in those days. 
People are different too in the amount that they see improvement.  I'm a decent runner out of the gate, but it's really hard for me to see major improvements.  Although who knows...maybe I'm just not working hard!  I certainly don't put in the miles that many others do.

This can be a sensitive topic.  You don't want to tell someone who has gotten really fast at running that they didn't work hard to get there, or assume that someone who trains hard but is near the back of the pack doesn't train hard at what they do.  

So here are my conclusions:
1) If there is room in your life to work harder, there is the capacity to improve, even if it's by a few seconds.
2) People are different in their natural talents, but also in their ability to reap benefits of hard work AND their capacity to train really hard without their bodies breaking down.
3) You can be fast and lazy, and slow and hard-working, but to be anywhere near the elite scene you must be both.
4) There is probably a great benefit in learning all the technical stuff like VO2 max and lactate threshold  etc etc to make training more effective.  Not that I've done this.
5)  Super Fast People:  Remember to count your blessings on the running front and not just hashtag how much you believe in yourself.  If you're near the front of the pack, it's likely a result of both hard work and talent.

So what do you think has the greatest part in being a successful runner?  Have you improved a lot through training over months / years?