Monthly Archives: June 2011

At least I’ve got consistency

It’s been nearly a month since my Naked Running Epiphany.  I haven’t touched my Garmin in a month.  I’ve been running largely in 90-degree heat (I still suck at getting up early to run) and, for the most part, have been plodding along at an easy pace for 30 or 40 or 50 minutes a day.

Well, the stats are in…


…and I’m kinda pleasantly surprised, actually.

Of course, the mileage is low and the pace is slow; I expected that much.

But the 80% days trained number?  I didn’t see that one coming.

What does it mean?  Well…I think it means that when the pressure to hit a certain mileage target or planned workout is off, it’s a little easier to lace up the shoes and get out the door.

I know: DUH.

Really, though.  So many times this spring – in those 74% months –  I’d end up taking unplanned rest days.  Because I’d have 8 or 10 miles scheduled for the day and the prospect of doing it would be so daunting that I’d opt out entirely. Dumb.

But when I’m only on the hook for 30 minutes?  It’s a lot easier to just get out the door and do it.

I hope this is a lesson that I can take in to my higher-mileage fall training.  That something is always better than nothing.  That there is no shame in recording a 25-minute easy run in the training log: if the alternative is an unscheduled ZERO.

Anyway.  Halfway through 2011, I’m sitting at 900 miles.  2,000+ seems like a reasonable goal for the year…?   Even though I’m not racing anything long this fall, I’m still planning on building my average weekly mileage back to the 40-50 range, with of course a couple of longer runs thrown in there to prep for that Athens party.

And I think I’ll continue Running Naked for at least another month.  I’ve really enjoyed tracking my runs by time, with loose distance estimates, in this warmer weather.  I see no reason to change that.

Tell me: how has the first half of 2011 gone for you – running or otherwise? Overall I’m pretty happy with my mileage and progress!  I ran a good half marathon in March and although I’ve been sort of coasting since then, I’m looking forward to good things this fall. :)

Questionable quencher

We all make marginal decisions in the heat of the moment.  Right?

Case in point:  Do NOT stroll into your local specialty beer shop right on the heels of a sweaty six-mile run.  A run that has left your mouth feeling like a cotton-stuffed sauna.

Because your thirsty eyes will pass right over shelf after shelf of delightfully hoppy beverages and lock in on the closest relative of…well, Gatorade.

“Enjoy!” said the cashier as he handed me change for a twenty.

“Well, I hope so,” I replied, crumpling the bills in my sweaty palm.

Here’s the thing about fruit beer.  It is actually kind of like Gatorade.  It’s usually thist-quenching and refreshing, but you know exactly what you’re gonna get and that’s a safe, boring beverage that satiates your thirst-buds.

But this Great Divide Wild Raspberry Ale was actually not bad.

The color was much darker than I expected when poured – with a big ol’ head, but that may have been because I poured too quickly.  Because I was thirsty.

Once the head settled down, I dove in: very malty, with pleasant raspberry undertones and a nice smooth, bread-y finish.  Not much carbonation.  And not sweet!  Mild and fruity, but not saccharine.  Quenched the thirst – and was definitely better than Gatorade.  Easy down the hatch at 5.6% ABV.   A nice beer for putting your sweaty feet up and enjoying a summer sunset.

Bottom line: If you’re going to get a fruit beer, this one is a good choice.  (Purchased at Peace Street Market, $12/six.)

In other random news, I scored an awesome random shirt at work today:

I don’t run much XC anymore, but I wish I did.  Goal: beg, buy, steal or cajole my way into a cross-country race this fall.

And with that, I’m on to Raspberry Beer #2.  (Or #3?)

Anyone else enjoying a fun beverage (or several) on this hump day?

 

Knockout knockoffs

Have you guys heard about the Costco tank tops that are supposedly the same thing as Lululemon tank tops?  But of course, waaaaay cheaper?

I hadn’t, until today.  And I happened to be in Costco’s neck of the woods today.

For the love of cheese, it’s not like I need any more running shirts.  But at $12.99 a pop, I decided to give these a shot.

I’ve never owned a Lululemon tank so I can’t speak to the similarities and/or differences.  I’ll leave that to these lulunuts.  (Hat tip to Brie for that link!)  But I will say that I’ve been wearing this soft little thing all afternoon – including on a rainy run and to a core class! – and I am loving it so far.

Nice and long; fitted and flattering, without being skintight on the belly; cut low enough to be feminine, but not so low that you can’t actually work out in it.

Is there anything that Kirkland Signature doesn’t do well?

Anyway.  Worth checking out if you have a Costco in your area.

Exciting running stats from last week:

M – 45 min easy (~5 miles, ~9:00 pace)
Tu – 3 X 1 mile on the TM (6:44, 6:39, 6:37), 5 miles total (38:25)
W – 40 min easy (~ 4.3 miles, ~9:15 pace)
Th – OFF
F – 35 min easy AM (~ 4 miles, ~9:00 pace) + 25 min HEAT intervals PM (~3.5 miles total)
Sa – 50 min easy (~5.5 miles, ~9:00 pace)
Su – 60 min easy w/hubs (~6 miles, ~10:00 pace)

 

Okay, not so exciting.  But I did get a couple of quality workouts in!  Total: 33.3 miles.

And the soreness is finally fading!  Last night, my arms felt strong enough to operate a corkscrew.

This 2010 Toasted Head Untamed White is a blend of Viognier (70%), Chardonnay (37%) and just a splash of Moscato (3%).  Very light and brightly flavored with lots of juicy peach!  Very easy to drink and should please those who like a sweeter wine without annoying the palate of those who…well, don’t. Which is to say it’s a nice, fruit-forward wine that’s not at all sticky or cloying.  I happened to be eating a sandwich wrap packed with fresh peaches, honey mustard and Brie while sipping this and it was a perfect combination!

Bottom line: Get it!  A very pleasant and versatile wine at a reasonable price (Purchased at Fresh Market, $10.)

Okay…off to snuggle my new tank top in bed.

(What?  It’s dry from my workout…mostly…)

It’s my own damn fault

Washing my hair hurts.

I’m going to go ahead and blame HEAT Studios for the fact that, three days after taking their signature full-body workout class, I am still unable to raise my arms to the level necessary to cleanse my filthy mane.

Sitting?  Also hurts.  My ass.  It hurts.

Standing?  Worse.

Stairs?  Forget about it.

Which is to say: the class was awesome.

My friend Caroline has been raving about HEAT for a while now.  So on Friday evening, I finally decided to tag along with her and check it out for myself.

The hour-long class combines a body-pump-style full body strength workout with treadmill intervals and some plyos.  The basic format: run balls-out for 3 minutes on the ‘mill, spend 3 minutes beating down a certain muscle group with weights on the floor. Repeat, repeat, repeat.  There are no breaks.

An hour passes very quickly when spent in this manner.

What I liked about this class:

  • Incredibly efficient full-body workout.  (HEAT stands for “Highly Effective Athletic Training.”  With this, I concur.)
  • Our instructor, Brandon, was very high-energy and a bit of a hardass.  Which I loved.  I know everyone has a different take on this sort of thing, but I really don’t mind being chastised a bit when I’m supposed to be working hard.  Bring it.
  • The hour was broken up in to bite-sized chunks, which made it easy to focus on the present task and also made time fly.  Three minutes? I can handle three minutes of anything. No time to think about it.  On to the next chunk.
  • I think I ran about 3.5 miles over the course of the class.  And except for the first three-minute warm-up segment, every step was quality running.  (In fact, I think I had that treadmill cranked faster than I’ve ever run on a treadmill.)  So that’s 3+ miles of speed-work.  Which is about what I’d normally do for a track workout.  So this class crams two things I normally have to drag myself out of the house to do (speed session + strength session) into one intense hour.  Lovely.
  • The studio space was bright, clean, and pretty.  With exposed brick walls, floor-to-ceiling windows and a loft-like atmosphere, HEAT’s space definitely has more character than your average group fitness room.

What I didn’t like:

  • In order to keep the pace of the class moving, everyone leaves the treadmill belts running between sets.  Um…I’d never jumped on or off a moving treadmill belt before, much less one moving at 10 MPH.  By the end of the class, I was doing okay with it, but still – kinda scary!
  • I wouldn’t say this is a class for beginners.  I’m in pretty decent shape and this class humbled me.  Most of the attendees were very fit twenty-somethings.
  • The price.  A monthly unlimited membership will set you back $185; a single class drop-in is $18.  (Class packages are available that bring the per-class-cost down to $13-15.)  HEAT markets itself as an alternative to having a personal trainer, and for many people it probably could be.  But when, in Raleigh, you can get a membership to a nice gym with lots of classes for $50, it’s still kinda steep.

Bottom line: You hurt me, HEAT.  But I’ll be back.

As soon as I’m able to wash my hair again.  (Hey, at least I’m saving money on shampoo…)

Hot date

I think I’m at the point in my life where I’d almost always rather stay in than go out.  Yep: I’m thirty, going on fifty.

But seriously, who needs to go out when you can have a romantical little date on your own little balcony?

Awww.

And yeah.  Paper towels and plastic cups are classy.

Hot date food: Sexy salmon.

I spotted a recipe for Sweet Roasted Corn and Strawberry Salad in my google reader a couple of days ago.  And then I spotted gorgeous Wild King Salmon on sale at Whole Foods.  It was meant to be.

Now, I really hate it when bloggers are all like, “OMG YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RIGHT NOW!”  But…you probably should make this right now.  Or tomorrow.  Or next time you want a delicious and fancy-like dinner that’s unbelievably easy.  This is probably the best salmon I’ve ever had.

Okay…I may be prone to hyperbole, but it’s really very good.

Recipe: Sweet Roasted Corn and Strawberry Salad with Wild Salmon [Via Prevention RD who got it from Cara’s Cravings]

Hot date drinks: Sultry summer seasonal.

This Flying Fish Brewing Co Farmhouse Summer Ale was a very mild and drinkable beer.  This Blonde Ale poured just a little cloudy with a big fluffy head.  There wasn’t a whole lot of anything going on here, flavor-wise, but a little citrus and a little wheat.  Kinda watery.  Not bad, but…forgettable. 4.6% ABV.

Bottom line: Skip it.  It’s nothing special.  (Purchased at Total Wine, $7/six)

Hot date dessert: If I had my little way, I’d eat peaches every day….

Grilled peaches are the bomb.

Hot date outfit: I really went all out tonight.

I mean, my sports bra and shorts even match!  And the zap-zap eyes add a little touch of sparkle.  So glamorous.

The hubs declared this the “least sexy outfit ever.”  He, too, is prone to hyperbole.  We’re a good match that way.

Whatever.  I woke up this morning feeling stiffness and soreness in every muscle fiber in my body, thanks to a very special workout yesterday.  More about that tomorrow.  Let’s just say the the compression socks are an absolute must at the moment.

Well, I’m hobbling off to the couch to rest up for a run in the morning.  Hope y’all had hot date nights too!

Branching out

Big groups of people scare me.

Which is one of the reasons why you’ll find me riding a unicorn over a rainbow on the First of Octember before you’ll find me attending one of these health-blogger-conference-meetup-shenanidoos.

But…a wine blogger conference?  Now we’re talking.

Never mind the fact that this isn’t a real wine blog. Whatever, I can pretend for a weekend.  I’m totally going.

Instead of listening to lectures by other bloggers and taking pictures of picked-at plates of bagel thins, this conference involves drinking wine all day.  Yes.

Fancy dinner at Monticello.  Yes.

Shacking up with the lovely Allison.  Yes.

Did I mention the part about drinking wine all day?  Yes, yes, yes.

Oh, and I’m hoping to actually learn a thing or two about wine.  And share it with you guys.  I’d better bring a notebook or something.  A waterproof notebook, that can repel the inevitable spilled drinks.

So cheers to branching out, right?  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous; not only because of the big-groups-of-people-scare-me thing, but also because I really don’t know shit about wine compared to most of these people.

I guess if it gets to be too much, I can always take refuge at Beer Run. :)

Ever been to a blog conference?  How did you survive?

Also, if any of you are going to #WBC11 too, let me know so I can stalk you, m’kay?

The one that bit the dust

Well, it was bound to happen eventually.

Look!  A perfect little pepper! But, um…what happened to the leaves?

After weeks of nursing a pea-sized green ball on that tender stem, almost overnight my Sweet Cherry Pepper plant issued this adorable red sphere.

And then promptly shed all of its leaves.  Except for the bottom one.  As if the effort of producing that little ball of fire took everything out of the plant and it just needed to be done.

So dramatic.

I’m pretty sure that wasn’t supposed to happen.  Or was it?  It does look like tiny leaflets are growing on the top stems, filling the barren branches with soft little buds.  Maybe it will come back to life?

In any case, I’m kind of fascinated.  Who knew that container gardening was so full of grand theatrics and suspense!  You got me, Sweet Cherry Pepper plant. I’m watching with bated breath.

And since I’ve had some inquiries (okay, one) from readers (okay, my mom) about how the rest of the Terra Cotta Balcony Farm Empire is doing, here ya go:

Plant: Basil | Status: Thriving

Pesto, anyone?  Even with bi-weekly haircuts, I cannot believe how quickly this thing grows.  Just when I think I’ve finally gone and overdone it, cutting it down to a point of no return, it grows back with twice as many leaves.

I love this plant.

Plant: Mucho Nacho Green Pepper | Status: Juicy

This guy is just about ready to be plucked!  I’ve watched it grow over the last couple of weeks – and, similar to the Sweet Cherry pepper plant, its leaves have gone a little yellow.  But they haven’t fallen off.  And there are a couple of tiny blossoms on another stem that look like they might morph into pepperlets, so I’m going with healthy on this one.

Plant: Sage | Status: Gorgeous

It’s a shame that sage is more of a fall/winter herb, because it seems to love the heat!  I’ve been plucking these perfect fuzzy leaves and drying them in small batches for future use.  But they’re amazing fresh, too.

Also in this pot: Oregano and Thyme, both of which seem to be doing fine, but which I don’t find many occasions to use.  I’ve been trimming down the Oregano and drying it.  At this rate, we will have enough dried oregano to last until 2027.

Plant: Mint | Status: Don’t call it a comeback

Confession: About a month ago, we had a party which involved Mojitos and I absolutely annihilated this plant.  The cocktails were awesome, so it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor.  And I may have been a little under the rum at the time.

But back it comes!  The leaves are smaller,  but they’re abundant.  And I’ve noticed some bigger mint fronds popping up in the last week.  This guy is gonna be just fine. Lesson: Herbs are resilient and will continue to love you even after you give them a humiliating buzz-cut in the name of impressing your friends.

This is probably not a lesson I should take into eventual parenthood.  Probably.

Plant: Rosemary | Status: Bushy and nonchalant

In the world of domesticated herbs, rosemary is your stoner friend who just sits in the corner of the wraparound sofa and goes along with whatever everyone else wants to do.  This plant never gives me any attitude.  Water?  Sure, dude. No water? Right on! Trim?  No trim?  Sun? Shade? It’s all good, yo.

Imma just sit here and grow my shit.  Don’t worry about me.  Got any Doritos?

Rosemary is awesome.

Plant: Tomato | Status: Small and mediocre, but that’s probably my fault

The plant itself seems to be doing fine, and four blushing tomatoes are currently making their way from orange to red.  But…these tomatoes are tiny.  In retrospect, I guess it was probably a bad idea to try to cultivate giant fruits in a small clay pot.  Next year, I’ll do grapes or romas.

But I did actually eat the first one that ripened!  And?  It was okay.  On par with your average grocery store tomato.

I diced it up and added it to a lovely little avocado-based, southwestern-style pasta salad I made last weekend:

Recipe: Creamy Avocado Orzo Salad [semi-original recipe, inspired by this pasta salad from The Food In My Beard]

There are beans in there, so this could totally be a main dish.  I made it as a hearty side.  If you love pasta salad but hate mayonnaise, give this recipe a try! (Personally, I love mayonnaise, but I’m always for avocado anything.  And I don’t discriminate when it comes to creamy pasta!)

I would like to say that the amazing Terra Cotta Balcony Farm Empire tomato made the dish, but sadly, it was just sort of there.  Oh well.  You can’t win ’em all. This is my first time attempting to cultivate plant life, and it’s going in the WIN column for the fact that it was edible – even if it was mediocre.

Fingers crossed that my pepper plant bounces back after its mysterious and dramatic leaf shedding!

And if not? Oh well…at least it was a good show.

Smoked in

The list of weather which always sends me to the treadmill is short: lightning, dangerous hail, tree-felling winds.

Today, it grew.

Smoke.  Yuck.

Apparently wildfires are turning eastern North Carolina into an ashtray, and the smoke is coating Raleigh in a layer of hazy nastiness.  When combined with the ever-threatening thunderstorms, there were eight separate SEVERE WEATHER alerts on my weather app at one point this afternoon.

Treadmill?  Yes, please.

And because it’s Tuesday and Tuesday used to be track day and running slow on a treadmill is boring as hell anyway, I decided to make a little workout of it:

1 mile warm-up @ 9:15
1 mile hard @ 6:44
1 mile hard @ 6:39
1 mile hard @ 6:37
1 mile cool-down @ 9:10

 

I took a little rest between each mile.  I’m not sure how long…I was too busy gaping at the idiocy of “Property Virgins” on TV.  But it was a good hard workout.  I was seriously hauling ass and counting down the seconds until that last mile was over.

Recap of last week:

M – 40 min easy (~4.5 mi)
Tu – 45 min easy (~5 mi)
W – Track meet, mile and 800M, total ~5 mi
Th – 30 min easy (~3.5 mi)
F – OFF
Sa – 45 min easy (~5 mi)
Su – 1:36 easy (~10 mi)

 

Total: 33 miles. Okey-dokey.  Good middle-of-the-road mileage.

And on the topic of running shenanigans, I realize my last post on fall marathon plans was a little vague and cagey.  Hehe.

YES, I am running the 2011 Athens Marathon in Greece!  Along with the hubs.  It will be his first (and probably only) marathon.  We are not looking to set any records and just running for fun – and for the food, wine and sightseeing over there.  Bring on the street meat!

YES, I normally might roll my eyes at the blatant bucket-listery the hubs is exhibiting here, with his “I only want to run one marathon and I want it to be the original one” thing.  But he’s really wanted to do this for a long time – he’s been talking about it for years! – and I’m not going to protest about an excuse for a trip abroad!  I’ll train with him and we’ll run together during the race.  If we can survive 4-5 hours together on a hilly marathon course in a foreign country, I’m pretty sure that’s a good sign for the longevity of our marriage!

NO, I won’t be tempted to race it.  I’ve been running marathons for over a decade; I’ve raced some of them, and others I’ve just run for fun.  I have no problem covering 26.2 at a leisurely pace.  For me, running a marathon at race-pace effort and running one just for kicks are two different beasts.  I’m totally relieved to be rid of the burden of the former, and excited to put in a few relaxed long runs preparing for the latter.

NO, I’m not worried about the fact that Greece’s economy is going down the crapper.  I’m hoping it means we’ll be able to get cheap airfare.  (I haven’t actually booked any of that yet…need to get on that.)  But we are experienced travelers and I’m sure we’ll be fine.

YES, I am thinking about a PR-effort marathon next spring.  Doesn’t 45 degrees sound more like a more pleasant temperature for that 20-mile training run with the last 8 at goal marathon pace?  Or for Yasso 800s?  As opposed to 100 degrees?  Yep, I think so too.

Anyway.  Enough marathon talk!

So the smoke ruined my running plans tonight, but I wasn’t going to let it ruin my dinner plans.  Although I’ve been mostly dining solo in the evenings, I’ve been making extensive use of our community grill to prepare my dinners.

Step one: Prepare food and wrap it up in foil.

“Great for storing, freezing & wrapping.”  Also: for avoiding washing dishes.

Step two: Pour some wine in a pool-deck-friendly plastic cup.

Yes, that is a pink wine.  I like pink wine.  Look for an upcoming post on the subject…

Step three: Take food down to communal grill.  Fire it up.  Cook food.  And while the food cooks?  Just…be.  Seriously, it’s nice to have an excuse to just spend a little time without a computer in front of my face for twenty minutes.

(Okay, so I might have been tweeting from my phone while my dinner cooked tonight…)

Swaddle delightfully charred dinner in fresh sheets of foil and schlep it back to apartment.

Step four: Enjoy a feast for one.  With paprika-rubbed chicken kabobs, chili-lime corn on the cob, and homemade guacamole.  Yum.

Step five: Do the dishes!  Or, uh…don’t, because you balled them up and pitched them in the recycling bin!

I love aluminum foil cooking.

And I love the grill.

Even if it’s a little smoky.

To marathon?

For the last six months, my ass has been firmly planted on the fence.

Fall marathons are kinda my thing, I guess.  I’ve done one every autumn for the last few years.  So I guess I kind of assumed I’d race one this year, too. Especially after last October’s Disaster On The Shores Of Lake Michigan.

Except…the months went by, and I still hadn’t committed.  I went through fits of excitement (Steamtown!  Detroit!  Twin Cities!  Columbus!  Vegas!) followed by spurts of procrastination, and eventually target races started to fade from the map as registration caps were hit and races were closed.

Last weekend, I finally told myself to shit or get off the pot.

After a morning spent desperately scouring MarathonGuide and Kayak, I headed out for an easy five-mile run.  Race dates and airfares swirled in my head, mixing with training schedules and mileage targets to form a thick stew of of numbers and plans.

It made me dizzy.

Ugh, I thought to myself.  Maybe I should just get off the pot.

As soon as I allowed myself to consider the possibility, I knew it was the right answer.

I’m not racing a marathon this fall.

After letting the idea go, I immediately felt lighter.  My step had a spring in it.  I started thinking about all of the things that I am going to race this fall: 5Ks, 10Ks, a kick-ass road mile, maybe some XC….

I realized I was bounding up the trail with a grin on my face.  I felt excited.  And excited that I was excited about running again.

Marathons are not the end-all, be-all of running.  You don’t have to do a marathon to be a “real” runner or have a “real” season.  I’m always telling other people this, and yet – look how difficult it was for me to take my own advice!

Well…almost.  I might still have half a cheek hovering over the can.

I said I wasn’t racing a marathon.  I never said anything about doing one for funsies…

Tonight, I’m cracking this special bottle of wine.  A registration celebration.

To Marathon!

 

Slow runs, slow jamz

On my run this morning I learned the answer to an important question, courtesy of the Pitbull station on Pandora: what ever happened to Twista?

Why, yes…I am the whitest person ever to live.

Today’s run was just hot. There is no other way to describe it. I definitely needed some profanity-laden hip-hop to get though it.  It’s my own damn fault for not getting out early enough, but I was out kinda late at a wedding last night…and even though I didn’t drink (DD FTW!  Hubs owes me one!) my feet were killing me from trotting around in these:

Add this one to the “Things That Make Me Feel Old” file: heels suck.  Seriously. My thirty-year-old feet are so over them.  Eff you, Carrie Bradshaw, for making it look so easy.

Anyway.  My sore pups managed 10 miles today.  I did my normal 5-mile loop twice, going around the first time solo and then picking up the hubs for company on the second loop.  It was 90 degrees and sticky when we finished.  Yuck.

But it’s done: my first double-digit run in almost a month.  In true Naked Runner fashion, I plugged ignorantly along, trying not to care that my pace was probably around a minute per mile slower than it was a few months ago.  It’s summer.  It’s hot.  It’s wet.  It’s slow.

Twista would approve.

The other major activity of the day was a trip to Total Wine.  Which ended disastrously when a box full of booze jumped from the back of our 4Runner and landed on the concrete.

Dear neighbors: Yes, that is Chardonnay that you’re smelling in the parking garage at 2 PM on a Sunday. You’re welcome.

Fortunately, my bottle of Clipper City Brewing Heavy Seas Mutiny Fleet HOLY SHEET Uber Abbey Ale survived the crash.

That’s a little cup because this is a big beer.  This was my first Heavy Seas experience and I decided to go big: Clipper City’s “Mutiny Fleet” is a line of high-ABV beers in “unusual” styles.   The Holy Sheet is a Belgian-style Strong Dark Ale – and it definitely has a bite to it!  Dark red with hints of coffee and cherry. The 9% ABV is definitely noticeable; you can almost feel its cool draft coming off of your tongue.

Bottom Line: A fun bottle for seasoned drinkers who can handle a strong beer that asserts itself on the palate.  (Purchased at Total Wine, $6/22 ounces.)

Okay, I’d better get back to Sunday night chores before this Mutiny beer takes control of me.  (It’s only a matter of time.)  So much laundry…

Hope everyone had a great weekend!