Monthly Archives: June 2012

Friday afternoon wine musings

It was exactly noon when the taxi deposited my husband in our driveway, fresh from the airport after a two-week business trip to Asia.

The twenty-hour flight had left him tired and disheveled and in need of a shower. While he cleaned up, I made us lunch. And because it was midnight in Japan or whatever, I figured we may as well have a drink with our meal. I opened a bottle of wine.

Three hours later, he’s napping. (Ill advised, I know…but I can’t bear to wake him.) And I’m left with a half-finished bottle of wine on a Friday afternoon. Hmm. What to do…?

Remember when I used to blog about wine all the time? Yeah, me neither. It’s funny that nearly a year ago, I went to the Wine Bloggers Conference, at which I received that freebie glass. I can probably count on one hand the times I’ve done a wine review on this blog since then.

What happened?

Regular wine drinking ceded to a growing love of craft beer. Growing love of craft beer resulted in growing love handles. Which is how I’ve found myself in the current situation, savoring a (second) glass of Sauv Blanc on a Friday afternoon after abstaining from beer-slash-wine all freaking week.

I won’t lie: it’s been hard to get used to not having a pint of beer or a glass of wine with dinner. I’ve always said (and probably said here, on this blog, more than once) that having a drink or two each day was my version of a small daily indulgence. I’ve said things like: I can live without cookies or chocolate or ice cream, but you’ll pry my daily drinks out of my cold, dead hands.

Well, get me some mittens and a defibrillator, I guess.

It’s sad, but with each passing year, it seems I am less able to get away with minor dietary indiscretions. Through most of my early twenties, I ate whatever I wanted. Then, as thirty approached, I found that in order to maintain my weight, I had to start eating somewhat healthy food…but I could still drink whatever I wanted.

(This is evident in reading the first year of posts on this blog, written by a spritely 29-year-old. Although I don’t recommend it, because the earliest entries on any blog are always horrible, and mine are no exception.)

(On a related note: over the three years I’ve been blogging here, I’ve received several emails accusing me of being a raging alcoholic for posting beer/wine reviews with such frequency. These emails tend to be pretty entertaining in that they are the closest thing I get to hate mail. But of course such accusations always make you think a little about your life habits. And, as I reflected, I never thought I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. So I find it kind of amusing that pure vanity is what eventually led me to curb my drinking a little.)

Anyway. In a month, I’ll be thirty-two. If the last year has been any indication, I realize that I’m going to have to make a permanent change in my eating habits if I don’t want to gain weight. That sucks, but I also acknowledge that I’m very fortunate to be in a situation where cutting out shitty carbs or eliminating (or, realistically, limiting) weeknight drinks to stave off the five-pound scale creep is the worst of my health concerns.

But still. It sucks.

So until Monday, I’ll enjoy my drinks. With temperatures creeping into the low-100s this weekend, it would be criminal not to enjoy a few cold beers. Or a bottle of summery white:

My local Trader Joe’s has been beating its customers over the head with this Trellis Sauvignon Blanc for the last couple of months. As in: huge pyramid display up front, another huge pyramid in the wine section. Okay, okay, TJ’s. You have a bunch of this wine to offload.

Yesterday, I finally caved. Okay, I’ll bite and pick up a six-dollar bottle.

It’s…alright. For a Sauv Blanc, I think it’s a bit heavy-handed. Thick and fruity, it attacks you with intense honey and floral flavor before settling in to a sweet-and sour finish. There’s even a bit of oak. This wine comes across like a lightly-oaked Chardonnay.

Bottom line: It’s not bad, but if I’m drinking a Sauv Blanc I want light and refreshing, not floral honey and oak. But for the price, you could definitely do worse, and I could see stocking this wine as the type of bottle you open at the end of the night, when no one is really tasting it anyway. (Purchased at Trader Joe’s, $5.99)

See? I can still do semi-snobby wine reviews.

And now, I have a spouse to wake up before he naps himself into a wicked jet lag. Have a great weekend!

Simple solutions to trivial issues

I wanted to have a serious discussion about strength training efficiency, and you guys just mostly wanted to talk about fruit flies.

But that’s okay, because thanks to your advice, my kitchen is fly free! Apparently the cider vinegar + dish soap combo was irresistible. Ugh, good riddance. I can appreciate the important role that fruit flies play in high school biology labs, but I don’t want to share my home with them.

So here is a related question: how do you store your onions? Because I’m 90% sure it was a big Costco bag of onions tucked away in my pantry-slash-closet that initially attracted the fruit flies. I’ve always been under the impression that onions were supposed to be stored like potatoes (cool, dark place) but obviously I won’t be doing that again.

Ah, first world problems.

Speaking of which, I also discovered a great solution to my iced coffee problem yesterday.

The problem being that I really like consuming it, but I don’t like having to haul my ass to a coffee shop and to pay five bucks for a cup of it. And yeah, I know there’s that whole cold-brew-at-home thing, but that takes way too much forethought and planning for me.

So I’ve been using those Starbucks VIA packets. But it bugs me that the iced coffee version has a ton of sugar already mixed in.

Yesterday, I ran out of packets, and found myself at the Starbucks counter, forking over a wad of cash in exchange for a cold Venti cup. I asked the barista why the iced VIA thingies didn’t come in an unsweetened version.

“Oh, you should just use the regular hot ones. That’s what I do at home,” she confided. “They’re the same thing without the sugar and half the price.”

HA. I feel as if I’ve beaten the system somehow.

Anyway. A quick rundown of last night’s track session, which was one of my favorite benchmark workouts:

Let me count the reasons why I love the classic 12 x 400M:

1) It’s easy to break it up in to thirds and visualize it as a 5K. (Now if only I could run a 5K at sub-6 pace…)

2) You get SO much feedback. Twelve pieces of feedback in a single workout. Awesome for drilling that feeling of “that’s what X pace feels like” in to your head.

3) For me, it’s mentally easy to tackle. I take it one rep at a time and tell myself it’s only going to hurt for 90 seconds. I can do anything for 90 seconds.

4) Because it’s so simple, it’s easy to compare against previous efforts. For example, I did this same workout on May 29 (and apparently never blogged about it, but here’s the recap from my training log) and averaged 90.1 seconds per quarter. My average from yesterday was 88.3. That’s moving in the right direction.

Here are some other number-y things. Last week’s workouts:

And feedback from my good buddy, the bathroom scale:

Eight weeks and it may not seem like a significant weight loss, but hey – if those body fat % numbers are accurate, that’s almost a percentage (and over a pound) of body fat gone! And that’s really the goal here, so I’ll happily take it.

Well, it’s a cool and crisp 80* here today, so I’m off to get some outdoor projects done before the heat and humidity settle back. Happy Wednesday!

What the hell I do in the weight room for an hour

Last week when posted my workout log, commenter Jess asked about my strength training routine.

Let’s all go ahead and thank her for providing some blog fodder. Otherwise I probably would have subjected you guys to a post about the fruit fly problem* in my kitchen.

And for what it’s worth, I didn’t take her question as judgey. I did take it as implying that my workouts might not be as efficient as they could be, which is a totally fair point. So let’s talk about that.

As I’ve mentioned, strength training is not my favorite activity. But during my “summer vacation” from running, I’m trying to get stronger, and lifting weights is a good way to do that.

Typically, when I head to to weight room, I first decide whether I’m doing upper body or lower body. Then, I make myself do ten exercises, which I select as I go.

For example, that week’s upper body workout was: (1) Bench press, 75#, 3X10; (2) Lat pull down, 70#, 3X10; (3) Low row, 65#, 3X10; (4) Assisted dip, 80# assist, 3X8; (5) Assisted pull-up, 80# assist, 3X10; (6) Back extension w/ 25# plate, 2X15; (7) Bicep curls, 15# dumbbells, 3X12; (8) Overhead shoulder press, 15# dumbbells, 3X10; (9) Overhead tricep press, 20# dumbbell, 3X10; (10) Push up ladder, 10 down to 1.

Sometimes I’ll add core work in, too.

A few things to note:

– In spite of the fact that I dislike lifting, I know my way around a weight room pretty well. A few years ago, I worked with a trainer pretty extensively and learned a lot about proper form and such. I go for free weights instead of machines whenever I can.

– As I mentioned in my response to the comment on the other post, an hour of lifting doesn’t seem like that much to me. Ten exercises, five minutes on each, plus a few minutes of transition time or whatever.

– I try to lift relatively heavy. Generally, I shoot for barely being able to complete the tenth rep. If I can do 12+ reps, I go up in weight. If I can’t get through 6-8, I lighten it up. (Sometimes, there are exceptions: for instance, I’d like to go up in weight for back extensions, but the the weight of the plates jumps from 25# to 45#. So I just increase the reps and call it good.)

– My trainer used to say that if I didn’t doubt that I could finish the set, I wasn’t lifting heavy enough. I think that’s a pretty good guiding principle.

– I try to focus on more on the big muscles, less on the “beach muscles.”

– Because I’m lifting pretty hard (to failure/exhaustion), I take quite a bit of recovery between sets. (Maybe too much, and maybe that’s why I can’t get in and out of the gym in under an hour.)

– I dawdle quite a bit. My gym happens to have excellent people watching. But that’s a post for another day.

– This approach to strength training is definitely different from what I’d do if I were in training for a marathon. Lifting heavy makes me sore and exhausted.

– Although, interestingly, it doesn’t seem to have affected my running pace as much as I thought it would. Last time I went through a lifting-heavy phase, I eventually stopped because I was annoyed at how slow it made me. This time around, I’m still able to run decent workouts. At least so far.

– But it does make my body tweaky and cranky. I blame squats for my achy hip. And I blame my achy hip for my DNF at Saturday’s 5K.**

– Then, because I didn’t want to aggravate it by running, I went to the gym on Sunday. And lifted weights. Maybe I don’t hate strength training as much as I thought I did.

SO. That’s what I’m doing in the weight room for an hour.

I’m not sure that this was any more interesting than a diatribe on kitchen pests. But that’s what y’all get for asking questions.

And seriously: I’m sure a lot of you are better weight-lifters than I am, with your NROLFLOLs and WODDDDs and such. If there’s something I’m doing stupidly wrong here (i.e. taking a six-minute “water fountain” break***), I’d be happy to discuss it.

*Annoying little shits. THERE IS NO FOOD HERE. AND I JUST DOUSED YOU IN BLEACH. WHY WON’T YOU DIE?

**Yep, I DNF’d a freaking 5K. I suck. But my hip was hurting and I wasn’t exactly on PR pace. I don’t want to talk about it.

***Which is really just an excuse to eavesdrop on the two guys who are having a very serious conversation about whether they are more Charlotte or Samantha or Carrie or Miranda.

Golden hour

It’s only my second year down here, but I’m really starting to appreciate a good southern summer night.

I know I bitch and moan about the heat and humidity (although – less! since I’m not spending nine hours a week running in it!) but there is something kind of charming about spending all day shuttling from one air-conditioned environment to another and then emerging at sundown to bask in the sultry evening air with a cold drink in hand.

I’m not alone in my appreciation of this dusky hour. Unseen cliques of bugs hum busily in the trees. Fireflys kiss the tops of the grass. And I’m sure, over in Midtown, bunches of bar-goers are starting to plot their evenings out.

Tonight, though, I’m content to stay in and enjoy a beer on the balmy roof deck.

I’m running (racing?) a 5K in the morning, which I bore in mind as I scanned the cold beer aisle at Publix earlier this evening. Terrapin’s Golden Ale is the brewery’s self-described session (low ABV) beer, which sounded perfect for my low-key plans.

When I looked this up on BeerAdvocate to find out the actual alcohol content, I was surprised to see that it’s also classified as a Cream Ale. It’s a style that I don’t have much experience with, and the vague impressions that I do have aren’t particularly positive.

But the the Golden is not a bad beer. I mean…it’s a better version of your average light beer. Highly carbonated and refreshing, with just a touch of bitterness, I’m sure it’s a beer that would please a crowd. 5% ABV.

Bottom line: I don’t think it’s Terrapin’s best offering by any means (bring me a Wake-n-Bake!) but it’s certainly enjoyable.

Especially on a southern summer night.

I expect we’ll be having a few of those in the near future.

Attack of the waspjacket bumblehornets

When I was younger, I spent a summer in Thailand. It was a classic slacker-bum trip: nonexistent itinerary, overstuffed backpacks, sketchy hostels, and a dog-eared (and inexplicably sticky) Lonely Planet book.

One of our impromptu stops was Chiang Mai, the northern provincial capital and jump-off point for the region’s requisite tourist trek: Elephant Camping.

The Chiang Mai hostels were happy to arrange a guided tour of the surrounding countryside, populated by Karen tribes, who most people identify as those long-necked women who wear stacks of gold rings around their necks. It was supposed to be culturally immersive, and to some extent it was, but really the draw was that instead of having to walk, your group would cruise through the jungle paths atop a pack of large, surly elephants.

It was a blast.

One morning, we were all packed up and ready to leave our camp when I realized I needed to take a last-minute bathroom break. Because straddling a lumbering five-ton elephant for several hours with a full bladder sounded like a really uncomfortable idea.

Of course, there were no bathrooms. There was jungle. So, per the usual, I tromped up the hill flanking our campsite, fighting through the maze of trees and ferns and vines until I found a nice little clearing, shielded by a fat palm tree.

Although I’d done my share of pop-and-squats on domestic camping trips, being in the dense jungle was kind of scary so I didn’t exactly stop to examine the area in detail. Hastily, I assumed the position.

That is probably why I overlooked the fact that I was emptying my bladder directly over a hive of some sort.

First, I felt an unpleasant pinch on my tricep. But at this point, I was used to being bitten by all manner of bugs…and I was mid-stream, so I brushed it off. Then I felt one on my shoulder, and on my ankle, and then (horrifyingly) on my ass cheek.

I looked back over my shoulder and saw a group of about a dozen massive bee-like creatures hovering over their urine-splashed hive in an understandably agitated manner. About a million more were crawling out of the hive’s pockets.

OH HOLY SHIT.

I took off through the jungle, running back down the hill toward the campsite, vaguely aware that I was feeling little pinches all over my body. I tried to sprint, but this was challenging because my shorts and underwear were still around my ankles.

The bees were fast. I could hear them buzzing behind me. As I flailed down the densely vegetated slope, I glanced backward to check my lead and two questions simultaneously popped to mind:

1) Why am I looking back? Coach always told me never to look back. Looking back is a waste of energy. Just run.

2) Why are there strings flying behind me? Oh. It’s because my halter top has somehow come untied. That’s…additionally awesome.

Neither of these thoughts were particularly useful, but somehow, as I crashed through the last stretch of jungle to the campsite, the swarm of bees faded away.

I had won.

Unhappily, my victory was tarnished by the fact that the finish involved stumbling inelegantly – half naked and covered in welts – into a semi-circle of fellow Elephant Campers. Who were fully geared up and waiting for me, overstuffed backpacks and all.

(I think it’s relevant to acknowledge that this group included my then-boyfriend, who is now my husband, and who obviously wasn’t totally scarred by this sight. Thanks, babe.)

I held my disconnected halter top up with one hand while tugging my shorts up with the other and tried, through panicked and panty breaths, to explain the situation.

But to be honest, I wasn’t exactly sure what had happened. Obviously, I’d picked a poor place to pop a squat. I’d disturbed the nest of a large stinging insect, unintentionally assaulting their home with what, to them, must have been a hurricane of urine.

And I’d been stung. A lot. Like, My Girl a lot. If I’d been allergic, I totally would have gone the way of Macaulay Culkin.

Our Karen tour guide then proved himself to be the baddest bad-ass on the face of the earth. After making sure I wasn’t going to die and asking me a dozen questions about the exact location of my unfortunate restroom, he left me with a tube of ointment and took off up the hill. When he returned ten minutes later, he explained that the hive had been “taken care of.”

HOW DID YOU NOT GET STUNG? I wanted to know.

He did get stung, he explained. But he was so accustomed to the bees and their venom that his body didn’t react.

Bad. Ass.

Anyway, why is this long-winded story relevant?

Because this happened ten years ago and since then, I hadn’t been stung by a bee. Until today.

I was up on our roof deck, sweeping up dirt and stray flakes of cracked slate tile in preparation for the application of a coat of sealant. Apparently there’s a nest up there. Somehow, with my gruff broom action, I disturbed it.

A dozen red buzzing insects appeared. (Wasps, hornets? Who knows.) In some ways, it was like Elephant Camp all over again. I felt that first pinch. Then I stood there, dumbfounded, for several seconds while I processed what was happening.

And then I got the hell out of there.

On the plus side, I only got stung twice, and today’s incident didn’t involve any nudity.

On the minus side, this problem is…actually mine to deal with. No bad-ass Karen trekking guide is going to “take care of” it. And no lumbering five-ton elephant is going to carry me away from it.

I had planned to go back up there in the cooler evening hours (when bees are generally less active) and spray the area with poisonous spray, but sunset came and went. And I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t think I was scared of bees until today’s minor incident brought back these ten-year-old memories.

As it turns out: I’m kind of scared of bees.

And I think I’ll leave this problem for someone else to deal with. Husband, roof guy, pest control guy. I don’t know who, but I know that I’m not going to fight this particular battle. There are plenty of other projects around this house that don’t involve declaring war against a colony of stinging red bees.

Incidentally, one of those projects is fixing our perpetually-running toilet. This toilet is annoying and less than ideal, but we’ve been living with it. Because, hey – you’ve gotta go somewhere.

Which is exactly the sort of attitude that got me in to trouble in the first place. 

If I’m not going face the bees, I suppose it’s only appropriate that I deal with the toilet, right?

As disgusting and creepy as toilet tanks are…at least they don’t sting.

A different kind of recovery formula

My husband and I spent last weekend up in Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, for the wedding of one of my best friends from college.

It was a beautiful wedding – perfectly fitting for the couple. I was honored to be a part of it. And of course it was fantastic to see friends that we hadn’t seen in ten years and be all like, “OH my GOD, YOU are a LAWYER?” before remembering that we are all in our thirties now and having established, grown-up careers is perfectly normal.

And staying up until 4:30 in the morning is decidedly not normal.

When you’re in your thirties, such behavior will probably leave you in a nasty wake of exhaustion and dehydration for no fewer than 48 hours afterward. And will cause you to develop an embarrassing stuffy nose that you really can’t claim is “just allergies” because, um, it’s almost July and allergy season is long gone.

Not that I’d know.

But seriously…to help manage our expectations, someone should develop a Recovery Rule of Thumb for situations like this. Like how they say that you need a day to recover for every mile raced? I’m thinking it takes an hour to recover for every hour stayed up past midnight, multiplied by the number of years of age over 29. Plus two penalty hours for every post-midnight drink consumed. Make that three penalty hours if it’s a drink you’d never consider consuming under normal circumstances. Like Jaegermeister. Or White Zin from a gallon jug.

According to this formula, I should be good to go by…Thursday.

Of course, I don’t regret a single minute. It was a wonderful weekend. Congrats to Meg and Derek!

These shenanigans meant that I took the entire weekend off of running/exercise. It’s okay, it happens sometimes.

Truthfully, I’m more bummed about not making it to f*cking yoga last week than I am about the hangover-slash-rest days. In spite of the fact that it makes me feel like a stumpy, sweaty gnome, I’ve kind of come to enjoy hot yoga. Or at least not totally dread it. Well, I still dread the class itself a bit, but I love how it makes me feel afterward. Kind of like a hard track workout.

Speaking of which: tonight’s was a bitch.

I’ve been approaching my track workouts with more intensity these last few weeks. Because this session is my only quality running workout of the week and I’m not racing much right now, I feel like I can (and should) push it pretty hard. It’s been fun watching my splits drop; in spite of the 90-degree heat tonight, I was thrilled to be able to run an 84-second 400 at the end of the workout. Fun!

And because I’m sure you are all wondering whether my wedding weekend bender affected my half-hearted efforts to lean up the bod:

I guess…not really? Hard to tell. Maybe I worked some of it off on the dance floor.

I’m thinking of changing up my eating habits a little more to see if that helps me drop a couple of more pounds. When I embarked on this OMG EPIC JOURNEY seven weeks ago, I really didn’t do anything drastic with my diet outside of cutting back on the weeknight boozing (as you may have inferred from the sad lack of beer reviews on here) and trying to eat a few more veggies and a little less crap.

But I’ve still been eating a fair amount of crap, and probably eat too many superfluous carbs, so I’m gonna try to switch the emphasis to protein for a few weeks and see what happens.

Disclaimer: I’m not anti-carb, and when I’m training for a distance race I believe my body needs quite a lot of them. But I’m not training for a distance race right now. So minimizing my consumption of things like pasta and rice and bread probably won’t kill me.

Or maybe it will. If I stop posting for a while, please send help.

Unless it’s before Thursday, because, you know…I’m still recovering.

The Worst Beer in the History of the World

Please tell me I am not the only one who did this in her younger days.

That is: you cut off the edge of a big watermelon and scooped out the innards, leaving a melon cauldron of sorts, and dumped in a bottle of cheap vodka. You added some Sprite, pilfered from the dining hall. You allowed it to marinate for a couple of days. Then, you poured a nice big glass over ice, expecting it to taste like a Jolly Rancher. Instead, you discovered that watermelon-plus-booze is a foul combination. (But you and your friends probably consumed it anyway because, hey – you weren’t going to let a $15 bottle of Monarch go to waste.)

No? Just me?

You could be forgiven for repressing such a memory, as I apparently did when I picked up a six pack of watermelon-flavored beer a couple of weeks ago.

WATERMELON-FLAVORED BEER. I know. A lapse in judgment on my part.

I never would have given 21st Amendment’s Hell or High Watermelon a second look if I didn’t have quite a bit of respect for the brewery. Their standard IPA is solid and their Back in Black Ale is excellent. I figured that they wouldn’t bother releasing something undrinkable. I figured wrong.

It is, in fact, the Worst Beer in the History of the World.

(Possibly.)

Strike One: The first time I cracked open a can of Hell or High Watermelon, it was a sunny Friday afternoon and I was refinishing some furniture.

(Side note: I refinish furniture now. It’s, like, a thing. I enjoy it immensely even though it’s probably the worst use, ever, of my time. It took me three weeks to spruce up a pair of nightstands that I probably could have purchased new for under a hundred bucks.)

Anyway. I had been working on my project for a couple of hours and was parched, so I took a big swig of this beer, right out of the can.

I was not expecting it to taste like rotten ass, and hence, I nearly spit it out – which totally would have ruined my primer job and made me hate this beer even more. But I choked it down. Barely.

Unable to find words for what I’d just experienced, I tossed the rest of the can and resolved to try the beer again later. Maybe the paint fumes were messing with my head.

Strike Two: The second time I cracked open a can of Hell or High Watermelon, I enlisted help.

Some friends were over and we were having drinks on our roof deck. I stated my hypothesis – that I’d discovered the Worst Beer in the History of the World – and begged them to try it and tell me whether or not I was crazy. I brought up a can and passed it around.

Paying more attention this time, I was able to better grasp the specific qualities that made me want to retch. Hell or High Watermelon starts out fine: you take a drink, and it tastes like a normal light beer, crisp and bubbly and a little bready. But then it hits you: this very faint fake watermelon flavor that tastes like…perfume. Fake watery watermelon perfume. Perfume that would be marketed to tweens in a bright pink plastic bottle. And sold at Sears.

The consensus around the table seemed to be more “meh” than “oh my god you have indeed found the Worst Beer in the History of the World, someone should probably pay you a bunch of money for this making groundbreaking discovery.

But no one thought it was actually good. Or if they did, they were too polite to interrupt my impassioned anti-watermelon rant to say so.

And I’ll admit this: the can was polished off, by someone, at some point that evening. Hmm. So I guess the jury’s out on whether I’m crazy.

Strike Three: The third time I cracked open a can of Hell or High Watermelon, I did it to be absolutely sure.

Calling something the Worst Beer in the History of the World is an act that shouldn’t be taken lightly, so I gave it one last chance. Today, actually, over lunch. I poured it in to a proper pint glass and sipped it like it was an aged barleywine, pausing between tastes to stick my nose in the glass, trying to pick up a scent that might somehow enhance the beer’s flavor.

Um…nope. Still tasted like watery fake-watermelon perfume. Still disgusting.

Three strikes. You’re out, Hell or High Watermelon.

Bottom line: Hell to the no. What were you thinking, 21st Amendment? (Purchased at Greene’s Beverage, $10/6)

Lesson learned. Watermelon and booze don’t mix.

Or I guess I should say: learned again. Because apparently I have the World Memory in the History of the World.

Anyway. I’ve got three cans left if anyone wants them. I won’t be drinking this again come hell or high…something.

Hail the cloud

It’s amazing the difference a well-placed clump of vapor in the sky can make.

When I left for yesterday’s track workout, the skies were blue and the sun was beating down 90-degree rays of misery. Half an hour later, as I pulled up to the high school, it was overcast. A merciful cloud had taken pity on us and moved in to perfect sun-blocking position. I swear it was twenty degrees cooler.

I took it as a sign that I should run hard.

The assignment was 3X800 + 6X400. Our workouts are always three miles of total track work, usually parsed out in some combination of 800s and 400s. This particular combination was one that I don’t think I’d ever done before, so that was kind of fun.

(If your idea of “kind of fun” includes having other people’s sweat flung all over you while you pant and grunt and turn tomato red, that is. Ah, I love the track.)

I was pleasantly surprised at the pace of last week’s 800s, so I set out to see if I could do it again. I latched on to a pack of guys who seemed to be running a couple of seconds faster and tried to hang on.

Can we just pause for a sec and talk about this? I haven’t run a 3:03 800 in a non-race situation since…college?

I paid for it during the 400s.

Definitely fighting a major case of dead legs during the first three quarters. But I fought it off and snuck under 90 for the last three, so that was good.

I can’t say enough how happy I am to have been introduced to this Tuesday track group. There is no way I would have gone out and done this on my own. And having a pack of people to work with makes pushing the pace so much easier.

Anyway. Looking back on last week’s workouts, I think I set a new record low for weekly mileage:

SEVEN WHOLE MILES! I blame the stomach flu.

(Also, G and I finally started that boot camp last week. It meets Mondays and Thursdays, and will basically replace the weight room for the next month, I think. I’ve only been once since I missed last Thursday’s session (flu!) and this week’s Monday session was rescheduled due to thunderstorms. It seemed like a decent workout, though. If nothing else, it’s a nice change of pace.)

I wonder if the stomach flu is also responsible for this…

…or if this eating-healthier-strength-training-more thing is actually working? I guess we’ll see next week.

Off to deal with yet another home-repair-related headache:

And by “deal with” I mean “argue with people on the phone until someone agrees to send a repairman.”

Hail the home warranty.

Viral karma

Last Monday, my husband came home sick from work. I suppressed my look of shock as he shuffled through the front door, ghostly and disheveled, his office trash can dangling from his fingertips.

He’s not a person who stays home sick often (um…ever?), so I knew this must be pretty bad.

For the next few days, I dutifully played nurse, fetching glasses of juice and bowls of soup and pressing the back of my hand to his forehead and assuring him that according to my super-scientific measurement method,  his fever was definitely on the wane.

I felt horrible for him. Being sick sucks.

But deep down, I was also so glad it wasn’t me.

I know that’s probably a horrible thing to think, but I thought it. And…I guess I sort of congratulated myself. This sickness must have considered me and taken a pass, intimated by my sturdy genetics and healthful lifestyle.

From there, it’s a hop, skip and a jump to full-on Darwinian smugness.

As the week wore on, I continued to marvel at my body’s apparent ability to resist this bug/virus thing. I became cockier and bolder: a swig from his Gatorade bottle here, a risky kiss on the lips there. Obviously, I was equipped with some sort of invisible super-shield. I began to imagine the bug/virus thingies falling haplessly to the ground, stunned by the power of my impenetrable immune system, as my shield and I cut through them unscathed.

I am sure you have probably guessed where this is going.

To my credit, my timing was good. Just as I went down, my husband started feeling a little better; well enough to fetch me glasses of juice and bowls of soup, anyway. And happily, our kitchen was already well stocked with both.

The flu came and went. By the weekend, we were both back to normal. Minus one imaginary immuno-super-shield.

I think in the future, I’ll leave the inflated sense of evolutionary value to those members of the household for whom it’s better suited.

Points for consistency?

It’s been just over a month since I stated that I wanted to spend my summer running less, cross-training/lifting more, and ridding my frame of the marathon chub that it had collected over two seasons of high mileage and little else.

So how’s that going?

Um…apparently, it’s going nowhere.

This isn’t so much upsetting as it is weird. Granted, I haven’t counted calories or anything but I have been making a major effort to eat healthy things instead of unhealthy things and I’ve pretty much nixed the weeknight boozing. I’ve been hitting the weight room faithfully and have seen tangible improvements there. I feel less bloated and I no longer need to do an elaborate ballet routine to get in to my favorite jeans.

Dirty filthy lying piece-of-shit scale.

Or, my body is just happy where it is, I guess. I’m going to keep at it for a few more weeks and see what happens. When it comes down to it, I’m not unhappy with my current weight, and I’m not willing to start tracking every morsel that enters my mouth – if that’s what it would take – for the sake of losing a few pounds.

I am also not willing to totally give up delicious food. Eating is one of my favorite hobbies. Some people like modern art or music or classic cars or porn; I like Pork Belly Banh Mi sandwiches from Star Provisions. I have no doubt that if I stopped enjoying food I would lose weight. But delicious food…it’s so delicious….

Anyway. That’s my non-progress report on that project. On to other meaningless statistics, such as workouts from the last two weeks while I was on my little blog hiatus*:

And mileage for May:

(The “days trained” stat includes lifting/XT days as well as running days.)

It still feels weird to be running so little, and my pace has definitely suffered from all of the other activity, but I’ve been pretty happy with my weight room adventures so far.

For instance, last Thursday, I talked Gesina in to doing this work out that I made up which involved 11 different leg and core exercises separated by sets of burpees for a total of 100 burpees. We were at the gym for almost two hours. But that’s mostly because we tend to get chatty between sets. But, hey – at least we’re being chatty at the gym instead of at happy hour, which is probably where we’d be otherwise. I know I’ve said this before, but having a workout partner makes weight lifting about a thousand times more bearable than doing it alone.

And I’ve been pleased with my track workouts too, especially given my lack of overall mileage. This week’s assignment was two sets of 2X800 + 2X400.

I went out hard.

I didn’t have a watch on and somehow missed hearing the 400 split of our first repeat, so I was a little surprised when I heard 3:08 as I finished. Crap, that is too fast, I thought.

So of course I went out and ran a second faster on the next one.

The 400s were a breeze by comparison, but that third 800 was hell. My lungs were burning and my stride was getting all flat and slappy. On the second lap, I let the group I’d been hanging with slip away from me. That pissed me off.

You started this, and you’re going to finish it, I told myself.

So despite the fact that I have no balls and the track has no walls, I put ’em there and finished it hard.

It hurt. In a good way.

Suck it, scale.

*Thank you to each and every one of you who left such flattering and supportive comments on my last post! I absolutely did not intend for it to be a fishing-for-SOMI thing; I just wanted to explain my insecurities about my life and my writing lately. It’s comforting to know that so many of you have had similar feelings and experiences. And of course, I’m glad that there are people out there who want to read this blog. As always, I welcome feedback – negative or positive – in the comments or at eatdrinkrun [at] gmail. <3