Monday, January 28, 2013

A Brief Run-In with the Law

A quick update on running:  I'm running a half marathon this weekend.  I'm very unsure of how it will go.  Unfortunately, I have been very inconsistent lately.   I had two pretty decent workouts (a tempo run of 5 miles at 7:05 and 2x3200m at 6:45) followed by an attempt at a workout that I completely failed.  I was supposed to do 8 miles at goal half marathon pace (around 7:20?) and made it through about three miles before quitting and struggling to finish the run at easy pace.

I feel as though I have two different bodies showing up to workouts these days.  We'll see who shows up on Sunday.   Hopefully not the one that sucks.

Adventures with Law Enforcement

I've driven the same car since high school.  It's a 1999 Prism.  With 178k miles.  It's seen a thing or two. I refuse to get rid of my car despite the pleading of Anthony and the ridicule of others for a couple reasons.

1)  Why buy a new car when your old one still runs?
2)  $$
3)  It's been with me since I was a kid back and forth from Virginia to Texas, out to California, etc.  Silver bullet, I can't quit you.
4)  I kind of like the fact that I can put trash in it like old soda cans and not worry about messing anything up.  I keep a lot of random crap in the car.  It's embarrassing but not embarrassing enough to stop doing it.

Anyways,  just painting the background for the story - this is what I'm working with.

The other night, I was driving back from Seal Beach after having dinner with a friend.  I pulled off my exit in West LA with music blasting, happy to be almost home.  I looked in my rear view mirror and saw cops lights flashing. I got really nervous and and pulled over.  Was I speeding?  I didn't think's hard to even speed in my car if you want to anyways.

He asked for my registration  and I handed him an expired copy.  (I am also really bad about keeping updated copies of registration in my car.  It's partly out of protest because law enforcement can easily see if my car if registered in their system and it's partly out of laziness.  Either way, they never seem to care.).

"Your light is out".

Relief flooded over me.  Sweet.  I wasn't doing anything wrong, I can just get that fixed.  Something is always wrong with my car.

"Oh I'm sorry officer, which one?".  

"Your right front."

And then a question I wasn't quite expecting....

"Are you in trouble with the law a lot?"

I kind of snorted and said no.  What a weird question.  I got out of the car to see the light that was out and then saw that my front light wasn't out at all.  It was just a little dim.

I thought it was kind of lame to be pulled over for a headlight that was the same amount of brightness it had been for years, but I wasn't about to start an argument.  Then I noticed another cop out of the car who was shining his light in my front seat.  The flashlight was on all the old water / Nuun bottles I had been too lazy to clear out.  Shit.

I got back in my car and the first cop started talking to me again.

"Are you on any medication?".

"Uh no...".  (I briefly considered telling him about my BC and then thought that there was no reason to make things more awkward than they already were, as fun as that might be.)

"What about any head trauma?"

"No."  (Where is this going?  I can't believe my tax dollars are paying for this.)

"You know you have very enlarged pupils.  That's very common in users of Cocaine and Meth."

Uh what?

While I was tempted to tell him that I've recently started watching Breaking Bad and that I hadn't seen anything about enlarged pupils on the show, I kept quiet.  And then told him to give me any test he wanted to.  "I haven't even been drinking!".   I also tried to make some awkward conversation about the symptoms of drug use so that we could become friendly.  It did not work so then I told him that my eyes have always looked kind of wonky.

The guy decided shine a flashlight in my face for about 30 seconds to see if I was on something.  I busted out laughing about halfway through.  And then went back to looking at the bright light.

"Ok.  I believe you." said the Cop.  "We're just going to give you a fix-it ticket."

This is ridiculous given that my light is not out, but whatever.  

"Drive safe out there."

Uh ok.   I drove off.  That was certainly an unexpected experience but at least they didn't arrest me or something.

I know what I'll do the next time I get pulled over and randomly questioned about drug use though.   I've been watching enough Breaking Bad to have it down.

"License and registration?"

"You don't need that.  You know exactly who I am.  Now. Say my name." 


"You're Heisen-Marg?"

You're goddamn right.  

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Best and Worst of Running 2013

You guys.  The most beautiful shoe in the world has arrived.

I just got the new Mizuno Elixir 8 in the mail (Thank you Miz I am so grateful).  I haven't been more excited about a shoe since I bought super skanky high heeled boots back in 2006.  (Whatever those things were awesome.).  

The Elixir is my favorite shoe model (it's a lightweight trainer) so I'm excited to run a lot in the update.  I'll let you know what I think.  But let's forget about the functionality and gush over the completely over the top design for a minute.

Pink racing flag design?  Yes please. 

I am not ashamed.

Ok I'll stop. 

For now.

Main Post

Running has changed a lot in the last couple decades.

I decided to make a list of my favorite and least favorite progressions.  

The Best of Running:

1)  Online Posting of Race Results:  This is awesome for many reasons, and not just for stalking random people to know if you are faster than them. 

Running a race but can't stick around for the results?  That's cool, just look online.  

Did a friend run a race and you don't know whether to call them up to congratulate them on a massive PR or leave them alone because they probably don't want to talk about it?  Look online. 

Think a Vice-Presidential candidate is lying about his race results?  Look online?....Yeah.  You get the idea! 

2) Energy Gels:  I am not the hugest advocate of eating while running (especially short distances), but it's hard for me to know how people ran marathons before these little packets of joy.  Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches?  Powerbars?  Just run without eating?  I guess but that all sounds painful.

I tried running with a bag of sour patch kids once and instantly regretted it.  I know that's worked for some people though.

As someone who easily gets sick to my stomach and likes a little sugar during long distances, I am infinitely thankful for the Orange Flavored Gu.


3) Sport Wash:  I must be disgusting because this is the only way I can keep my shirts from smelling like a rat died 2 months ago in them.  It is the laundry detergent of the gods.

4) Timing Chip:  Because of the invention of the timing chip, we can have our race times measured from when we cross the start line.

This is awesome because now no one will crowd the start line or line up outside of their corral.  Oh wait....

Shamelessly stolen from SkinnyRunner

The Worst Of Running:

1) Garmin- Distance:  So the Garmin shows us how far we went.  But during a race, even if the course WAS long, what are you gonna do about it?  Chip time is chip time.  Frankly, I just rather not know.  It's also not completely accurate.  It's like running with a stopwatch that has an accuracy of recording your time within +/- 2%.  

2) The "processing fee" on   Oh Active:  You are the ticketmaster of road races.
I'm not sure what the other features of are.  But I know one looks like this:
Ah yes, an extra ~8% tacked on to have the privilege to run a $50 dollar 5k at 2PM where people throw stuff at you.  Granted, I have no idea how this processing fee plays into Active's finances or those of the race.  Maybe they are really necessary?  But they are also freaking annoying.   

3)  Social Media Sites: If someone goes on a run and doesn't tell facebook, did the run really happen? 

In addition to the constant feed of people posting that they killed their 30 minute ellipitcal sessions, I have noticed a disturbing trend.  I was cruising Yelp last night and I came across a number of entries describing their workouts as an intro to a brunch review.  

Too far, Yelpers, too far.  

5) The association of Dessert and Running:  When people say that they just run to eat more cookies or something, it just feels awkward to me.  I mean sure, running as a great weight control tool but it's silly to think of it as only a calorie purge thing.  Also, in what other sport does this happen? 

"I love to play football because I really want to eat Oreos at night" - NFL linebacker.

Sounds silly, no?  


Alright, enough complaining.

What are your favorite / least favorite random things in running?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hurt So Good

There are a lot of reasons why people run.  Some of them are obvious mostly because they are shoved down our throats in every single fitness publication ever. 

Better health, weight loss, the fun of doing athletic events even though we're old!  Omg cardio!  So fit!

I have finally learn how to use "Pinta", the MS paint for Linux.
Or some people run because of the sheer efficiency of the exercise is attractive.  I have to admit, that is one reason why I run.  I feel like I can get the same workout running for 30 minutes that I could get doing anything else for maybe an hour.  I like efficient things. 

Like many others, I love to get outside on a beautiful day, see the sun, feel my feet hit the pavement, and feel so alive.  This is a big reason that I run. 

But honestly, that "Magical beautiful day I feel like I'm flying" is a pretty rare experience for me.  Those days are few and far between.  Most days I feel more like an elephant than a bird.  I don't really feel like waking up and getting out the door, and more often than not I just slog through it at a pace that is slower than it should be.  Like my partner in crime, Sarah, I am not a lover of every run.   I'm indifferent at best. 

But there are some things about this sport that really do it for me.  

The first thing I love is in the beginning of a race when I am so pumped up and scared.   The gun goes off, my heart is pounding, and the first mile feels like I am walking, when really it was faster than my 5k pace.  Of course, I've paid for going out this fast and have learned not to do it due to the awful consequences later in the race, but I love this feeling.  

But there's another aspect that's really hard to explain without sounding somewhat psycho.  And I guess it is a little crazy because a lot of people who are runners are a little bit crazy.  (Probably why I get along with them so well.) 

One of the big reasons I run is because of the crazy discomfort of pushing yourself in a workout or race, and the elation I feel right afterwards, and potentially for the rest of the day.   It's crazy uncomfortable but crazy good.

Rounding the last 400 or 800 or mile of a workout or a race, knowing that I put in the groundwork for a successful workout and all I have to do is hold it for just a minute or two longer is the best.   I feel so freaking alive.

Kind of masochistic to love the pain of running, no?   Maybe the oddest part of it, is that I feel proudest of myself when I've run races where I've been barely able (or completely unable) to stand at the finish line.  It's arguable if this is a healthy outlook or a good way to treat your body, but hey, I never ran only for health reasons.  It's the feeling of control of mind over body, or something. 

(And I think it's part of why there's such a prevalence of similar control based issues in the sport as well.  It takes a certain kind of person to be able to ignore a level of pain and thrive off that, but that's another post that will probably never get written..unless I'm feeling hella serious). 

In the past few months, I've felt like I'd lost these things that I love so much about running.  During workouts, I haven't wanted to push through the discomfort and I've lacked the mental toughness to get through the hard moments.  In races (granted I've barely raced, but at CIM), I felt no buzz at the starting line.  I just wanted to get it over with. 

I had a high school coach that said "you gotta wanna".  And I haven't wanted anything.

But the good news, is that I feel like little by little these exciting pieces for me are coming back.  I'm not loving every run, and I have no idea how my half marathon in a month will go, but I'm feeling that excitement again, and that joy in pushing my limits.  Many of your encouraging comments on my discouraged blog posts lately have helped a lot to motivate me and remind me why I do this.  So thanks for that. 

I know there are a lot of reasons why people run, but these are two big ones for me that I don't talk about much.   They might sound a little crazy, but I can't be the only one? 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Cheap like it's my job.

Happy New Year!  We survived one more!  High five.

I added a tab with my New Years resolutions on it if you're interested.  They aren't a great read or anything, I just felt that I'd be more likely to follow through if I made them public.  Thanks for indulging.

Also, Suddora sent me a running headband a couple weeks back and I'm giving them a shout out to say thanks.  You can get 10% off using "fasterbunny" in the code field if you see anything you like.   Here's what I got.   It's reflective and pink and I'm liking it so far!

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In honor of all this fiscal cliff stuff and going back home for the holidays I decided I'd write a post about stuff being cheap.   Or "frugal" if you want to sound fancy. 

Also, that Thrift Shop song is really popular now so it's really hip, right?

I grew up in a family that tried to save as much money as possible, often to the point of absurdity.  Most of the time, I hated it and rolled my eyes every time my mom went up to customer service to point out that we were overcharged by 30 cents. But...she found everything!   

In order to get some more ideas on absolute cheapness, I enlisted the help of my friend Anisa who somehow seems to get everything free or discounted.   She is the master.   Numbers 12-14 on this list are directly from her. 

I don't know if I'd actually recommend doing all of these things, but I thought it would be funny to write about them.  Anyone grow up doing any of this stuff or do it now?  

1) Trash Bags:  You know those bags that people give you your groceries in?  Those are kitchen trash bags.  Yeah sure, they are a little smaller but that just means you'll be a little more on top of taking out the trash.  Paper bags are the best ones.

2) Speaking of Trash:  (I've actually never done this one):  You know that 10 dollar a month fee for trash pickup?  Yeah, you don't have to pay that.  Get your lazy butt in gear, get your trash bags together and drive them over to the local landfill.

3)  Shampoo: You're all out?  Are you sure?  Put some water in the bottle and use a few more times. There's always a bunch of shampoo that doesn't come out at the bottom! 

4) Milk:  You're buying the stuff in the jugs?  Aw hell no.  Powdered milk is nutritionally the same and lots cheaper.  Sure, it tastes a little funny but that's ok.  Update:  Apparently the prices of powdered milk have gone up since 1989!  It's not all that much cheaper than regular milk anymore!  Sad.  


5)  The Heat:  If you have that above 60, put on another sweater and turn it down.  Gloves maybe too.  Also, no one really needs the heat on at night unless your pipes are going to freeze.  Just put the covers over your head and go to sleep.

6)   Paper Towels:  If you just dried your hands off with it, don't throw it away.   It's still good! 

7)  Price Adjustments:  Many stores offer price adjustments but I'm not here to tell you about that.  I'm here to tell you about how to adjust the price if you're not in that time window anymore.  You need two people: One to return the item, and one to hang out by the area where they put the returns, grab it up, and buy again.  Done.   Potentially dishonest.  Depends on where your retail morals lie.

8)  Thrift Store:  Even thrift stores have 20% off days and stuff like that.  Go then. Just don't buy underwear from the thrift shore.  I don't care how cheap you are, that's nasty.

9)  You Can Bargain on Anything:  I once bargained with the tire center at Wal-Mart and got a discount.  This was right out of business school when I was flat broke and really needed a tire.  Desperate times, desperate measures.

10)  Check Receipt:  Guaranteed your cashier made mistakes on your checkout sometime recently.  Read the receipt before you leave.  Then find customer service when it's wrong.   Although they probably already know you if you've been doing this a while.

You might even get the item for free!

 11)  That Penny on the ground?  Yeah, pick that up.  It's still money.   A dime?  Even better.

12)  Coffee:  "Post any holiday shopping is a good time to get stuff. Patience. Find things you don't immediately think about. Everyone knows wrapping paper goes like 75% off (btw hallmark stores have the best quality) but Starbucks holiday blend coffee goes 50% off.  Stock up."

SarahOual has also suggested double brewing coffee.  Is double the coffee better if it tastes worse?  Jury still out. 

13)  Walgreens: "Best store ever: Walgreens. They have free items each week. I try and get them every week whether I need them or not. If I don't need them I can donate them to a shelter. I have not paid for toothpaste in years."

14) Travel: "We have also been using some cheaper methods of travel. Look up the mega bus. $3 from San Antonio to Houston. I have no idea how they make money.  I have used Greyhound to get to austin. Buses and trains are often overlooked."

What things have you or your family have done to save money?  Any great stories? No shame.