Category Archives: Thirtysomething Angst

On adjusting expectations

Um. One week from tomorrow, I am running a half marathon.

If it hasn’t been obvious from my (sporadic) posts – which have been either vaguely mopey or awkwardly lacking on the topic – the “plan” has not transpired. I have not been running 40-50 MPW (more like 20-30). I have not been consistent with my Tuesday track sessions and I certainly have not added a weekly tempo run. With respect to strength training and yoga, I have done okay, but progress on my hack squat and warrior three only go so far when it comes to racing 13.1 miles.

Honestly? I’ve considered giving away my bib. Waking up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving Day (a day which happens to involve hosting my husband’s entire family, all of whom are flying in from out of state) to half-ass a half marathon seems stupid.

But I think there is still something I can get out of this race, even if I’m not anywhere close to PR shape.

Namely: that I can use it as a tough-it-out marathon-pace run, giving me a baseline to determine what sort of shape I’m in as I go in to Boston training. I mean…Atlanta is hilly. Boston is hilly. If I can manage an 8:00 (or, if I’m having a good day, 7:45) pace for 13.1 on questionable training, that at least gives me something to go on when planning my Boston workouts.

So, that’s the goal: 1:45.

But truthfully, I won’t even be upset with 1:50. I really haven’t been putting the miles in these last few months, so why would I expect to be in shape? I am not in shape. I may be able to pull a decent 400/800 track workout out of my ass, but that doesn’t mean much when you’re talking about racing for over an hour.

And speaking of track workouts….I have decided to chill out a little bit lately. If I take on Boston training the way that I would like to (a la Pfitzinger), I’ll be doing lots of tough runs over the next few months. Right now should be base building and fun running. There is no reason to kill myself at the track.

So this week, I aimed for 80% performance.

We did 2 X [2X800, 2X400]

Instead of going balls out, I decided to try these at true 5K pace, which would mean 3:20 for the 800s and 1:35 for the 400s. That was tough; I’m used to chasing the 3:00 barrier on 800s and I haven’t run a 400 over 90 in a track workout in months.

800: 3:11, 3:14
400: 1:34, 1:33
800: 3:13, 315
400: 1:34, 1:32
 

That still exhausted me, even if I backed off of my usual pace targets. Also: it was dark and cold (by Atlanta standards) and there was a psycho bird that kept darting across the backstretch of the track as we ran by. (Seriously…I thought it was a rat until it took a brief flight during one lap-crossing.)

I have plenty of time to figuratively kill myself in the future with training and racing. This fall just hasn’t been my time for that. I haven’t put in the miles, and I have no one to blame for that but myself. I can’t expect race results that don’t reflect my training effort.

So: 1:45 (or 1:50) or bust. And a decadent Thanksgiving dinner afterward.

And thank jeebus that all discord has been solved in our house.

My husband recently switched computer/office bags and made the mistake of leaving his old one on the floor. This immediately became the Best Place To Sleep Ever and resulted in a knock-down drag-out fight between our two cats over who would roost there. I took the bag away and they’re fine now. Apparently, as they’re back to their yin-and-yang formation.

And if we are talking about political discord? I realize that my last post may have ruffled some feathers. I’d intended, in that brief post, to communicate my conviction that candidates (especially major party candidates) rarely represent the actual wishes of the voter, but that this isn’t a reason to abstain from the voting process.

Obviously you all know which angle I chose to approach that from when it came to the most recent election’s candidates.

I said this in the comments to that post and will say it again: if there is any political cohort about which it’s fallacious to assume stances or opinions, it’s the libertarians. I didn’t state any specific political/policy opinions in that post and I don’t plan to make that a focus of this blog, but I am happy to answer any questions or discuss via email [eatdrinkrun @ gmail].  Honestly, I expect that we are not as far apart as you think we are, assuming that you are coming at this from the “modern liberal”/Democrat point of view, which I assume most of you are…but I’m happy to chat with anyone of any political stripe.

[Insert analogy about third party candidates giving their all even though they know they will not win, and compare to my earlier statements about being able to gain something out of this half marathon even though I won’t come close to PRing, much less winning. Yes, I’m sure there is a parallel here.]

And with that, it’s bedtime for me.  I promise more beer reviews soon. We’re just about into my favorite beer season, with lots of Winter Warmers. I’m toasted just thinking about it.

What I have been doing for the last month

Yeah, I know. It’s been a while.

Here are some of the things I wish I could say I’ve been doing for the last month:

Gallivanting around a foreign country, eating and drinking fabulous local things and speaking the language flawlessly because a month is totally enough time to learn to do that! 

Unfortunately not. Except for a two-day trip to DC earlier this month, I’ve stayed firmly planted here in Atlanta. (Which actually isn’t a horrible thing, because weather-wise, October is clearly the best month of the year here.)

Or…

…bravely battling an invasion of zombies, and singlehandedly saving humanity from an all-out Zombie War. You’re welcome!

Can’t say this has happened yet…but considering that I am convinced there are bodies buried in my backyard and Halloween is rapidly approaching, it’s a real possibility.

And I wasn’t, like, serving my community either. Although I probably should have been. Certainly I could have been:

Helping people and shit.

Putting on to-do list: find volunteer opportunities.

Anyway, what have I been doing? Mostly, something that looks like this:

 …or if you want the whole picture…

Wallowing, moping, being a piece of crap. I don’t know what’s been with me lately but I’ve just been…I don’t even know. But one day I woke up and the very idea of the internet just seemed horrible.

Emails. OMG LEAVE ME ALONE.

Facebook. WHY IS EVERYONE POLLUTING THE WEB WITH THIS CRAP. MY NEWS FEED IS A BANAL STEW.

Blog. OH GOD I CAN’T EVEN.

So I didn’t. And I did some other stuff instead. I finished building this shelving unit that had been sitting, in the form of a pile of pine boards, in the garage for weeks. I read some books. I cooked. I ran a little, and lifted a little, and thought about how nice it was to do those things privately, without putting pressure on myself to share them with all of the internets.

It’s been three years since I started this blog. At that time, I’d just moved to New York City with my husband so that he could pursue a postgraduate fellowship there. I’d quit my consulting job; it was a job that I liked, but required a ton of travel and I wanted to actually experience NYC while we were there. I freelanced a little; I worked part-time for a start-up; I worked at a running store; I joined a competitive running club and ran hard for the first time in a few years. After a too-short twelve months, my husband’s fellowship ended and we moved on, to North Carolina. And then, a year later, Georgia.

In Georgia, we bought a house. The house had been vacant for a year, was littered with shoddy upgrades by the previous owner, and was generally kind of a shit-show. I spent the summer playing general contractor and interior decorator, which kept me surprisingly busy and was actually pretty fun.

But most of the house work is done now. (Well…we hope.)

I am officially bored. And I think that’s why I’ve been in such a funk lately.

Well, get a damn job already, I tell myself. Get on that whole grad school thing, I scold. Just do…something.

It’s a conversation I have with myself every day. And sometimes I get motivated. But then, inevitably, I get, like…stuck. And I make no progress.

So, I need to work on that.

I hope you all can hold me accountable?

Because I also need to work on this tendency of mine to just avoid. And a prime example of that is my avoiding all of you when I started feeling all shitty.

TL;DR: I didn’t stop posting because I was doing something exotic, heroic, or humanitarian.  I just felt like crap and said FUCK THE INTERNETS for a while. Which is fine, but let’s be honest: by and large, my friends live in my computer. This is a place I need and want to be. So I’m back.

Pink and sparkly

Today, my husband and I drove two hours to eat at an Arby’s.

It wasn’t entirely intentional.  I mean, I love curly fries, but I don’t make a destination out of them. We were trying to explore our new Georgia geography and ended up in an area where nothing is open on Sunday.

This is something about the South that I am, to phrase it tactfully, still getting used to.

Anyway. We found this big lake on a map. We looked it up online, reading that it was one of the “most popular recreational lakes in the country.” We headed adventourously out from our Midtown Atlanta home, thinking we’d be game for some boating and floating and whatever else the local scene had to offer.

You would think that one of so-called  “most popular recreational lakes in the country” would have some…restaurants? Ice cream shops? Something? Besides fast food?

You would be wrong. At least on a Sunday. And as much as I am a fast food apologist, this situation was not approved by me. For whatever that matters.

We stopped at a state park beach and tiptoed across the red clay beach to dip our toes in the warm water. We watched pontoon boats cruise by, circled periodically by speedboats pulling gleeful skiers and hearty tubers on inflatable rafts.

After a longish drive home, we were ready to spend the rest of our day relaxing on the roof deck. We’ve had several events at the house lately so I had absolutely every kind of wine ready to go.

So even on a Sunday night: a bubbly rose. Which should be rather light and tasty. And pink…and sparkly. Like a…uh, shit. I hate pink shit and I hate sparkly shit.

But this wine isn’t half bad.

Not a bad pick at all, actually,

Good night!

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!

Reasons

I’m going to be honest about something here.

I haven’t posted in a while. Almost two weeks, actually. Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t. Maybe you wondered if I was burned out on the sport of writing (partially true), got pregnant (false), stopped drinking beer (definitely false), got swept away by a tsunami (false, unless you count that recurring nightmare), or just plain didn’t have anything on-topic to say, given that I’m not running as much these days (definitely true).

But the real reason I haven’t been blogging is slightly more embarrassing. It’s because I’m afraid of being judged.

Unless you’ve been living under a jumbo-sized jar of organic nut butter, I’m sure you’ve heard of GOMI and the like. Considered by some to be a big ole cesspool of internet meanie bullydom inhabited by the fat and jealous, the site (and its forums) call out bullshit in the general sphere of mostly-female-driven internet journaling: fashion blogs, “healthy living” blogs, running blogs, “lifestyle” blogs, mommy blogs, etc.

I think GOMI is great. I’m a regular reader of the main site and its forums and occasionally participate/comment. The blog world needs a place where readers can voice their opinions and reactions to a post without being censored by its author. Call it a cruder version of letters to the editor.

And of course, most of those opinions and reactions are snarky, critical, or negative. It’s called Get Off My Internets for a reason.

But as I’ve lurked and laughed and snarked, my subconscious has been a little sponge, soaking up a long list of things that people (including me, apparently, as I’m right there complaining too) don’t like on blogs.

The result of this is that I sit down to write, and a little voice in that part of my brain – the GOMI sponge part – shoots down every idea I have.

Your track workout? NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR SPLITS.

Your dinner? PROBABLY LOOKS NASTY BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER. ALSO, YOU ARE NOT A PROFESSIONAL CHEF.

Your weight room session? YOU’RE NOT A TRAINER, THAT’S DANGEROUS.

Your latest house project? IS PROBABLY SOMEHOW RIPPING OFF YOUNG HOUSE WHATEVER, EVEN THOUGH YOU’VE NEVER READ THAT BLOG.

Your outing to the (way cool, BTW) international Farmer’s Market? WHICH YOU DID AT 10 AM ON A TUESDAY, NO ONE WITH A REAL JOB WANTS TO READ ABOUT THAT.

I’ve never (I don’t think) been called out on GOMI. I actually have had a couple of shout outs on the SOMI thread – thank you, whoever you are! But somehow that makes facing the minefield of potential blog-content bombs even scarier. People like you, says that little voice. Don’t fuck it up.

If that voice had a body, it would be a twelve-year-old girl hugging herself awkwardly in the adidas windbreaker that she begged her parents for months to buy her, because everyone else had one. She’d be clutching a three-ringed notebook with a clear plastic cover, used primarily for displaying the folded Xeroxed invitations to birthday parties and other exclusive gatherings distributed judiciously by her more-popular classmates.

It makes me cringe. I’m 31 years old. Why am I acting like a seventh grader when it comes to caring about what other people think?

Here is the truth. There are many things about my life right now that are probably GOMI-worthy. I’m a running blogger who is not running much. I don’t have a real job at the moment and I spend a lot of time at the gym. I take 9:30 AM yoga classes. I devote most of my free time to reading, writing, overseeing major home repairs, performing minor home repairs, undertaking DIY projects, and decorating our (very nice) house.

But I’m different! I assure myself. I’m not a so-called professional blogger complaining about how OMG BUSY my life is while filling my days with fitness classes and iced coffees. I don’t make a cent from this blog. I’m not one of them.

I’m different. Really, though…am I?

My friend Gesina is fond of quoting a Modern Family scene in which Jay speculates about what Gloria does all day. “I’m guessing the gym and one other thing,” he says. Yep, pretty much.

(Of course, this isn’t permanent. I’m still figuring out my grad school situation. Depending on how that shakes out, I’ll figure out my job situation. But I can take my time to do that. I’m aware that I’m very lucky.)

When I started this blog almost three years ago, I wrote every day. Fairly banal musings, for the most part, on my day’s run, inexpensive wine, and whatever meal I’d managed to cobble together in my tiny NYC kitchen. I started commenting on other blogs, and started getting more comments on mine. I started adding the ubiquitous QUESTION to the end of every post. More comments! Oftentimes, the most superficial and banal content + question generated the most comments. I MADE BROWNIES! DO YOU LIKE BROWNIES? OMG, I LOVE BROWNIES! THOSE LOOK SO GOOD!

Nothing wrong with that (who doesn’t love brownies?), but at some point it started to feel a little contrived, so I cut the Q&A thing and tried to focus on making my writing a little better. And a little more me. I’m not sure if I succeeded or not, but I’m very proud of some of those posts, the ones where I branched out and wrote about something I was experiencing or thinking rather than eating or drinking.

But lately, I’m afraid the things I’m experiencing and thinking will be snarked on. It’s been really tempting to go back to OMG BROWNIES.

Deep down, I know that my insecurity over being judged by internet strangers stems from being judged by me. This Real Housewife of Atlanta thing is fun and relaxing but as it stretches on, it’s becoming sort of humiliating. I’m capable of doing more with my day than the gym and one other thing.

In the meantime, I’m trying to get over it and just write.

I hope that you’d like to keep reading.

And that’s why I haven’t been blogging lately.

This starts today

The last carload of crap has been hauled. The boxes have been unpacked. The major furniture items and appliances have been selected and purchased.

It’s been 23 days since the marathon.

I’m running out of excuses to miss workouts. And the long, physically laborious days of moving and unpacking where I simply must put up my feet and sip on a glass (or three) of Sauv Blanc at sundown…well, those are pretty much over at this point too.

So: this starts today.

I’m not sure what this is, but as I mentioned last week, I do know that I need to take my running mileage down for a few months. Aside from a short break in December, I’ve been in marathon training mode since last August, gunning for high mileage (successfully last fall; not so much this spring) and not really doing much in the way of strength training or cross training.

And that was great. It worked just like it was supposed to. It got me the PR and BQ that had eluded me for a decade.

It also got me a beer gut.

There is a reason why miles make champions. It’s because running lots of miles makes your body really efficient at running lots of miles. And that’s exactly what you want if you’re trying to be a competitive distance runner.

The downside is that most of us who run what I’d call “ambitious hobbyjogger” mileage (say, 40 or 50 miles a week) on a consistent basis spend a lot of time exercising and probably burn relatively few calories for our efforts.

Probably. I’m just conjecturing based on my experience over the years. Factor in the inevitable metabolic slowdown that comes with getting older and I’m starting to come to terms with the fact that distance running may not be the best way for me to stay in shape.*

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing it, obviously. Because that’s not my primary motivation. But in the “off season,” I figure it can’t hurt to focus my efforts elsewhere for a few months and try to get a little leaner for the next training cycle.

So…this, whatever it is, starts today.

No more weeknight beers. (Most of the time.)

No more fried food. (Unless it’s something really good.)

Some running, obviously, but more like 20 MPW.

Track workouts.

Boot camp.

Weights.

F*cking yoga.

And regular check-ins with this thing:

As of today, it tells me that I weigh 133.6 pounds and am composed of 23.8% fat and 37.8% muscle. (The other 38% is probably Dos Equis and tortilla chips, based on my weekend activities.)

[Edited to add: I’m 5’3″, so while that’s a perfectly healthy weight for me, I do have room to lose a few pounds and still be at a healthy weight.]

I don’t really have a goal, I just want the numbers to move in a direction that indicates less of the squishy stuff and more of the firm stuff.

And I am definitely not going to turn this in to an OMG WEIGHT LOSS blog and then crow about how inspirational I am because I lost ten vanity pounds. (Although if it could get me a book deal? I totally would.)

But assuming it’s not horribly offensive to you guys, I’ll share my progress (or spectacular failure and lack thereof) as it happens.

Anyway. I have a yoga class to get to. So I’ll leave you with what may end up being the final tragic photo of Emmy, on the cusp of her demise:

I could not come up with a worse place to nap if I tried. Unless your goal is to get squished by someone coming down the stairs who doesn’t see you because you are snoozing cluelessly under the first step.

*I’m sure there’s an inflection point somewhere. If I were able to consistently log 80 MPW instead of 40 MPW, I’d probably lean out. And obviously, the vast majority of elite and accomplished distance runners don’t have spare tires…they probably also have more willpower than I do when it comes to their diets. And better genetics. I realize that I’m oversimplifying and there are a lot of factors that affect one’s body composition, but it’s my blog and I’ll make sweeping generalizations if I want to.

Big Decisions

Generally speaking, I’ve got it pretty good. When life flings annoying little scraps of crap at me, I can always say: well, at least I have a roof over my head.

Oddly, in a few weeks, we won’t.

A little back story. When we first started looking for a place to live here in Atlanta, we saw this house. Its list price was out of our range, but it had been on the market for eons, so we went to look anyway.

“Holy crap,” I remember saying upon taking in the gorgeous kitchen, gorgeous sunny living room, gorgeous…well, everything. “I can’t even imagine living in a place like this.”

A couple of months and one lowball offer later, we were under contract. It seemed too good to be true.

Holy crap indeed.

Last Friday, we met the home inspectors at the house. THE house. It wasn’t OUR house yet; there was still a lot that could go wrong. But in spite of my best efforts to remain unattached, I found myself envisioning furniture placement and such. The couch here, facing the window! Bar stools there, over by the built-in wine fridge! That painting we love up there, on that wall!

But as we tagged along after the inspector, those visions of buttery leather sofas and funky bar stools gave way to thoughts of buckets and towels.

“Systematic water issues,” the inspector said in to his voice recorder.

“Holy crap,” my husband and I said to one another.

Actually, it wasn’t totally surprising. On previous visits to the house, we’d seen some evidence of drainage issues, and going in to the inspection we knew there was a possibility that the structure needed an entirely new roof – which given the home’s unique style/shape, would be a little more complicated and expensive than just slapping on some new shingles.

But the inspector’s report basically confirmed our worst-case scenario.

So we spent the entire weekend going back and forth. Should we walk away, or move forward? We discussed and discussed…over glasses of wine, while buttering waffles, from either side of the sink while brushing our teeth. The entire weekend was basically one big circle of discussion, leading up to Sunday night, which was the deadline for backing out of our contract.

Our contract, on OUR house.

We are moving forward.

We, who are the type of people who will deal with a dark hallway for weeks because neither one of us is motivated enough to change a lightbulb. We are going to put a new roof on a house.

(Well, we aren’t going to actually do it, of course, but we’re going to oversee its construction. Still a stretch for us.)

Of course, the deal could still sink at this point. The bank’s appraisers still have to go in and do their thing. But we’re one step closer to having a permanent roof over our heads.

And then immediately ripping it off.

Exciting and scary.

Deflated

Yesterday, I failed myself. Allow me to explain.

Upon getting the keys to my very first car, my father insisted that Teenage Me spend an afternoon on parking lawn in front of our house, learning basic car things like checking the oil level, putting on chains, and putting on a spare tire.

The first two skills, I’ve actually used! Believe me, I can read a dipstick like no one’s business. And cable chains? Well…if you need ’em, you’ll be glad you know how to put ’em on.

But seventeen years later…I’ve still never changed a flat. But it’s not for lack of trying!

You see, I have always been paranoid about having flat tires. To the point where I imagine them. See, for example: this road trip. For weeks after that, every time I approached my car, I examined every tire with squinty eyes, trying to see if they looked a little low.

And I actually got new tires put on, following that trip. That was two weeks ago. Confident in the fact that I’d made a Responsible Adult Purchase and was therefore absolved of any worry about my wheels, I stopped looking for flats every time I went for a drive. So of course, that’s when it happened.

Overnight, my brand new tire somehow became fully deflated. It was the moment I’d been waiting for…and yet somehow, was least expecting.

My first phone call was to Costco’s tire center, which was the scene of the recent purchase and installation. I asked the guy whether my flat tire would be covered under their warranty. He said it absolutely would – I just needed to bring it in.

“UM,” I said. “How am I supposed to do that? It has a TOTALLY FLAT TIRE.”

“Well…you will need to put the spare on,” he replied calmly.

“Right,” I said, as I literally felt a cartoon light bulb coming on over my head. “It has a spare tire.”

I hung up with Costco and proceeded to spend about fifteen minutes prodding around the underside of my car before realizing that this was NOT a good use of my time. Sorry, Dad.

To truncate a rather long and drawn-out story: seven hours and two tow trucks later, I finally had a new (fully inflated) tire on my car. It’s a good thing I didn’t spend all day trying to change the tire myself, because as it turns out, it doesn’t come off of my car. (Apparently, some screw thingy on the spare is stripped. We bought the car used and it’s a decade old, so…whatever. Good to know, I guess.)

I don’t really see myself as a helpless female, but yesterday, I sure felt like one. Hell…I was one. There was no way I was getting that car out of that garage without someone else’s assistance. Pathetic.

But at the same time: I am almost 32 years old. Is learning a skill that I’ll utilize one every two decades really a good use of my time and energy? Especially when I can just pay my insurance company an extra six bucks a month to take care of that shit for me?

Anyway. After dealing with all of that, I needed a beer. And this week, Spring has sprung here in Raleigh! It’s been warm and beautiful the last couple of days…the perfect weather for sampling a new seasonal.

Bluepoint’s Spring Fling Ale is a coppery American Pale Ale. This is a straightforward, slightly hoppy, thoroughly enjoyable beer. The Long Island brewery pairs German barley and American hops to create a balanced brew that is fresh and inviting. 6% ABV.

Bottom line: It’s nothing groundbreaking, but a solid drinkable beer! (Received as a gift, retails for ~$2/12 oz)

The weird thing is…when they took off my wrinkly tire, they didn’t find anything wrong with it. Like: no maliciously thick nail or shard of scrap metal poking through it. According to them, my brand-new tire just spontaneously deflated. According to them, that sometimes just happens.

Aaaaaand, we’re back to being totally paranoid about tire pressure every time we approach our vehicle.

At least it’s a way of life that I’m accustomed to.

To hell with hills

I’ve been keeping a list of things that have become noticeably more difficult for me – and specifically, the runner in me – since we hit the other side 30 a couple of years ago.

Warm-ups: need to be longer.

Recovery from a hard effort: seems to take forever.

Hills: have become steeper.

I used to be kind of okay at hills – at least on a comparative basis. It was the one place on a race course where I had a shot at chasing down my more willowy counterparts. Something about a low center of gravity, I guess.

Well, my center of gravity hasn’t changed, so I’m going to go with: the hills have become steeper. That’s clearly the only way to explain the pain and suffering of this week’s speed workout.

Eight times up a stretch of neighborhood blocks, amounting to a quarter mile and about 80 feet of elevation gain. My speedwork group from last fall is back in action (yay!), so I had a nice pack to work with. (For the first six, anyway. It’s fun being the only person working on full marathon this spring…)

Our coach told us to shoot for 15 seconds slower than we’d normally run 400 repeats on a track. If I were going to do 8X400 on a track, I’d like to think I’d be down in the low 80s, so I plugged 95 seconds in to my head for this hill workout.

But my splits were: 100, 100, 99, 99, 98, 97, 102, 99. (Obviously, I lost a little steam when I had to do the last couple on my own…)

Apparently I was optimistic. Still, I guess there’s nothing wrong with that workout. It just felt kinda crappy. Meh.

Anyway. On to the next one. I’m hoping to hit 60 miles this week and as I am sitting here sipping some Friday night wine, I’m at 34. I have some work to do this weekend.

Which means I should probably put down the wine glass. 

This South African outfit’s Rose has long been a favorite, but I’d never tried the simply-named Red 2010 from Goats Do Roam before. It’s mostly Syrah (72%) and Cinsault (13%) with a little Grenache and some other stuff mixed in. Very bright and berry-forward, it was sweeter and lighter-bodied than I expected it to be, and very smooth. A respectable choice if you’re looking for something on the grocery store shelf that will be widely enjoyed, with food or without. 14% ABV.

Bottom Line: I received this from a friend, but I’d buy it again! Retails for around $10.

Time for me to chug some water so I don’t wake up feeling like I slept with a cotton ball in my mouth. And give my teeth a good cleansing. Don’t want to show up to morning running group with a headache and purple lips.

Add that to the list of thirtysomething woes….

Red wine: kicks my ass if I’m not careful.

To hell with getting old.

The new must-see TV

Let’s start with a little background. You all remember your first crush, right?

Mine was Fred Savage, circa 1988. Every week, I stalked the TV listings for new episodes of The Wonder Years. I became obsessed with the movie Little Monsters and found a new appreciation for The Princess Bride. I daydreamed and schemed, concocting fantasies in which the object of my affection would move to Washington state, enroll at my school, and profess his love for me in front of my third grade locker.

A pipe dream, obviously.

Twenty-three years later, armed with a  DVR, I can relive those formative years every single night.

I’ve known for a while that one of our odd little cable stations airs vintage sitcoms, often at weird hours of the day. (They also show Family Ties, which I also enjoyed…however, Alex P. Keaton was no Kevin Arnold. And by the time Leo DiCap came on there, I was over it.)

For some reason, it only recently occurred to me to unleash the DVR on this station, a veritable goldmine of quality eighties programming. The machine went to work, stockpiling episodes in its memory bank. And now, instead of spending my Monday night with that Bachelor crap (or whatever you kids are watching these days), I get to have my own little mini-marathon of this:

Eight-year-old me is extremely jealous.

Childhood crushes aside, though, The Wonder Years was fantastic television. It’s funny how elements of the show that I never noticed or paid attention to when I was a kid – like the relationship between Kevin’s parents, Norma and Jack – are now interesting and relatable.

And Winnie Cooper? Well, I pretty much wanted to be her.

It’s humiliating to admit this, but I insisted on wearing my brown hair long and straight, with bangs, because I seriously thought that if anything happened to Danica McKellar, maybe they would call me in as an understudy.

(Uh, yeah…not quite.)

When I was little, she could do no wrong. But watching now, I’m realizing: girlfriend could be a real bitch sometimes. And she was kind of (understandably, I guess, given her family drama) messed up in the head.

I’m still working my way through the episodes on my DVR, but I already know that they don’t wind up together in the end. I remember feeling outrage at the series finale when I watched it the first time around. I’m guessing I’ll probably feel a little differently today.

Anyway. That’s how I’ve been spending my free time lately.

How about a beer?

Peak Organic’s Maple Collaboration is an American Red/Amber Ale made with locally-sourced Maine oats and Vermont maple syrup.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this one. Would it be a pancake in a bottle? (And would that be a good thing?)

As it turns out, the maple flavor is understated, presenting itself briefly and pleasantly on the finish of each sip. And there’s not much bitterness here, for a red – perhaps another byproduct of the syrup. The oatmeal goes completely unnoticed. Some BA reviewers griped about noticing the alcohol, but I really didn’t. Overall, it’s an amiable beer with a little hint of something sweet. 6.7% ABV.

Bottom line: Nothing earth-shattering, but enjoyable. (Purchased at Tasty Beverage, $6.50/big bottle)

Ok, back to my DVR stash….