the come-back kid (I hope)

I’ve been without pain for the past few weeks. Without any chiropractor appointments.

So I signed up for this year’s Ridgewood Turkey Trot. It’s a 5-miler on Thanksgiving day. This will be my fourth year in a row. I’m sure it will be my slowest. And I am settled, and okay with that. It just means I will keep getting stronger and faster in the future.

I’m going to test out a 5-mile run on Saturday (or Sunday). Otherwise, I haven’t ran 5 miles in 6 months. I’m pretty excited.

For our (1-year) anniversary, I gave Dan a scavenger hunt. We had a lot of fun. Me, feeling like a CIA agent, stalking through Raleigh, leaving gifts and cryptic messages, then staying close by to watch it until Dan showed up. Then, scurrying to the next destination without being “caught” or seen. Dan enjoyed the doting (each clue had a little love note attached), attention, and said he felt like he was a CIA agent, tracking down my clues. He never saw me, and had no idea I was there. He said he was really hesitant to drink the coffee I left for him.

pimento cheese + Clue, left on the doorstep of Location #1

pimento cheese + Clue, left on the doorstep of Location #1

Anyway, the last gift was registration for the Turkey Trot. We met running, so it felt like appropriate timing. Last year, we ran it together, and both PR’d (significantly so for a 5-mile race). For our anniversary, he got me the ULTIMATE headlamp. It sounds weird to others- but we met on a team for a distance relay, so it was very fitting. We also went to a really nice dinner at the Stanbury (delicious little hip restaurant in Mordecai district of Raleigh; I didn’t know I liked brussel sprouts until that dinner… Also the pumpkin-chocolate creme brulee was to die for! Too bad Dan didn’t want to try the beef tongue… I was all ready for that!)

Dan's "Mr Grumpy Pants" in the morning

Dan’s “Mr Grumpy Pants” in the morning

Mug and coffee left at Location #2. I feel the need to elaborate on the mug: Dan is very grumpy before he gets his coffee in the morning, so the mug was fitting. We have a collection of about 20 mugs, and 18 of which are mine from various trips, from family members, etc. The point is almost all our mugs are “mine” (or his boring mugs… he lost his Seinfeld mug), so I wanted to get him a character mug. He has one from a tri he finished recently.

So I have three weeks to “get ready” for the Turkey Trot. I am not trying to set any records, but it would feel good to be able to run the entire course, and feel slightly speedy/competitive. I’ve been holding back during training, so maybe a race will help me find some external motivation, and spark some enthusiasm for speeding up 🙂

Here’s some autumn inspiration:

our neighborhood street. So pretty this time of year!

our neighborhood street. So pretty this time of year!

The sunrise on Tuesday morning. Kind of glad I had to work so early, so I could see it :)

The sunrise on Tuesday morning. Kind of glad I had to work so early, so I could see it 🙂

getting it back! (plus a tribute to dad)

This weekend was awesome! Friday ended up being a spontaneous date night. Saturday was fun with friends, and we managed to fit in a lot of stuff in the day. And Sunday was a great, family-fun-filled-with-the-Quigleys Fathers Day.

I was coordinating everything. My sister-in-law and I planned to do a grilling party for my dad.I started it off with an early trip to the Farmer’s Market (9:30 is apparently the time to go– it’s not hot yet, and no one is really there). They were just setting up, but I managed to get a squash and zucchini from a lady who apparently had a long Saturday night out; and saw eggplant that caught my eye. I talked to the farmer a bit, and decided on a Ghostbuster eggplant (it’s white, and apparently sweeter. We decided it tasted like a cross between a portabello mushroom and squash). The same farmer also had nice looking tomatoes and onions (fixins’ for the burgers). I walked out the door, spending $6. Then, I headed to target for last minute items, and decided I needed another onion, lettuce, and peppers. $6 at Target.

no filter used

I felt so great, I decided to go for a real run. First one since my injury in April. As in, outside! I was scared, to say the least, but didn’t tell anyone; as I might have to turn back after 0.5mi, and I didn’t want to injure my pride as well.

I went as slow as I humanly could, to allow my stomach to ease into it. I figured a mile out-and-back would be perfect. And ran 1.0mi in 10:30something; turned around, ran another minute or so, then had to drop to a walk, as I could feel my abdomen tightening up (precursor to injury/pain). I walked a couple minutes, then ran a few minutes. My legs were fine, my lungs were fine. I just never realized how hard it is to breathe when your abdomen is injured. I got my breathing back to easy again in my abdomen, and ran for about 5 minutes, before dropping to a walk, with a final a sprint, then walked a bit more. My second mile was 12:00 or so. Which I will take. Hey, it’s the most I’ve ran in two months, If I increase a mile or so each run, I’ll be back to normal by August/September.

So, shower, and back to putting together all the plans for Dad (btw, he’s the best dad if you haven’t gotten that. He is so much a part of me I think I know what he is thinking or feeling). So, we put together a beer/ice bucket of items for Father’s Day. I figured this was the best way for everyone to contribute as much or as little as they wanted. Here’s my first day of finds… (I didn’t get a final picture, but my brother and I had to wrap the apron and tie it up to keep everything from falling out)

The first day of finds... (I didn't get a final picture, but my brother and I had to wrap the apron and tie it up to keep everything from falling out)

We added and added– marinades, rubs, even a pepper and onion, a skewer holder (see picture below), LED thermometer (a “pager” goes off when your meat is at the desired temperature), cedar planks, pork chops, chicken and beef for kebobs, PLUS we brought the food and prepared all the food for the day. And, Dan wanted to contribute, so we grabbed a 6-pack of Mother’s Weeping Willow Wit (which was a crowd pleaser) and his Bocce ball set.

Dan and I got there about 4pm, and my dad proudly showed off their new patio area, including a fire pit (they recently landscaped/renovated their back yard. It was a three-month project of chaos and mayhem. It prompted my Let’s plan something outside, as it was completed about 2 weeks ago). My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew showed up a little later, around 5pm. Mason had a little crying fit when he first got there, but once we took off his onesie, he was much more happy and comfortable. Aren’t we all happy when we’re naked? Everyone joked, telling Dan he needed to keep his shirt on… Not sure where that joke started, but it hasn’t ended yet 🙂

We presented our gift, and quickly lit up the grill, and Dan and I got things kicked off. My dad didn’t want to do a thing for the day (despite the awesome BBQ apron which declared he was “Just Chillin & BBQ Grillin”).

zucchini and squash (marinated in a basil vinegarette), onion, and peppers.

zucchini and squash (marinated in a basil vinegarette), onion, and peppers.

Dan and I put the veggies on skewers inside with my brother. We didn’t realize how sharp the skewers were, and decided this was not kid friendly. Notice the black “box” the skewers are on? It holds the skewers so they don’t get stuck to the grill, and burnt on one side/ raw on the other. You just slowly turn them, above the flame (we set the grill on low and it took about 20 minutes). Best under $10 gift I’ve gotten!

we're so cute ;)

we’re so cute 😉 Grilled ghostbusters for appetizer!

Dan has been deemed “Grill King”, and will have to grill every time he is over now 🙂 Burgers were Perfect! And this is coming from a girl who doesn’t eat burgers.


The Quigley spread, complete with a half naked Quigley because that’s just how we roll…

I guess we were all starving. We started eating the burgers before even getting to our chairs… Again, it’s just the way my family is. After dinner, we played with Mason. He’s only 4 months old, but is basically the size of a 9-month-old (no exaggeration; he’s 29″ in length, and almost 19 lbs). He wants so badly to run. Every time you hold him, he kicks his legs, like hey! let me loose! We finally managed to get a (grainy) picture of me and the little guy.

love this little guy

love this little guy

what is wrong with me?

Wait, don’t answer that.

Well, not yet.

Last week, I did something incredibly stupid- signed up for my third (full) marathon. I think if there was a race every month of the year in Raleigh, I’d sign up for more races, coasting on the “convenience” factor (and probably skimping on the training more often).

So, here I am.

Signed up for my second marathon (Richmond) in November, and the Rock and Roll Raleigh in April (2014).

On a slightly related note, there has been a lot of controversy about the Rock and Roll coming to Raleigh. Here are my scrambled thoughts.
First, I have done two Rock and Roll half marathons (my first- Vegas), and Nashville last year. I have also done a tiny (300 person) half marathon. I would prefer the middle ground- 1,000-5,000 person race. The 20,000+ person races are intimidating and crowded (regardless of how well they corral people). I will agree with that point. However, they put on a good show (including a good course, tons of food and energy gels/drinks and crowd support); this helps give me energy to last longer.
The main thing people keep saying is “race local”… We have two local full marathons in the Raleigh area (and several half marathons). I did one of these local races (a half), and hated it- I had to bring my own energy gels (which I was not told in advance, I realized at mile 8, when I hadn’t seen anything yet), there were maybe 4 water stations (I drink a lot over the course of 13 miles in MAY in Raleigh), there was next to no crowd support, and by the time I finished, there was no food. Like, no food. Or juice. Just water. Also, i finished in 2:29, not so ridiculously slow that i should miss out on those post-race goodies. Anyway, my point is- sometimes Walmart/Target has more options than the local country store, making it worth it to shop ‘non local’. It also makes me laugh that some of the people who are strongly anti-RnR are the same people who go to starbucks every day. Your coffee choice impacts your local economy much more than which race runners do. A little math lesson– $4/day for a week is $20/week, which is $80/month, or $1000/year. That affects the local economy on a much more significant scale than a few runners paying $60-120 once per year. Just sayin’! If you are going to make that argument, stand behind it with all your spending habits 🙂

The honest truth is I trained for City of Oaks in 2011, and got injured. Last year, I decided to train for Richmond, which is the following weekend. I then signed up for Richmond again this year. Maybe in 2014, I’ll run City of Oaks (which, by the way, is a great local race of about 5,000 runners in the full, I think, with great crowd support most if the way, including me at mile 25). I have wanted to pay tribute to my hometown (and current city) as well, with a good course, and RnR tends to do a good scenic course. And it was only $65, which for a marathon, is super cheap. So, I signed up.

And now I am left thinking When did I become a marathoner? Sure, one marathon is one thing, but THREE? And immediately following that (and a “calm the f*** down” beer), I decided this will be my last marathon… famous last words, right?

So, here goes nothing. Here’s to hoping next winter will be friendlier than this winter. My 15 miler in the snow was horrible, and I can’t imagine a 20-miler in those conditions (Andrea rocked a 27-miler that day, due to bad GPS signaling… go get ’em girl!).

Basically, here’s to early mornings from July to April; drinking water as if I’m storing it like a camel; here’s to foam rolling and yoga (both necessary); here’s to felling tired and hungry all the time. But mainly, to the feeling of accomplishment, to the joyful years at the finish line, the sense of comrade in training and in race day! To all of it! I raise my coffee mug (It’s 8am, I’m not drinking a beer before work silly!)
Raise your glasses (or mugs, or just Nuun pint glasses) with me for whatever goals you have coming. And in advance, for all the hard work you’re going to put in!

Kilts make you faster

It’s a fact.

If you don’t believe me, buy a kilt.

Then, run in it

…Okay, fine. Maybe they don’t make everyone faster. But they are sexy right?! (I’m Irish, so the answer is YES!)]

after the race

Saturday marked a big day for Raleigh. It was a big anticippointment (I coined that word in college- when a day has a HUGE build-up, but just falls so epically short). Saturday was the St Paddy’s Run Green 8K in Raleigh, plus a “World Record Breaking Kilt Run”.

Okay, before I start describing kilt run- know this- I had a lot of fun, and it was a great race, and supports a great charity- National MS Society…

So, we were told to be there at 1245pm so we could sign an “affidavit” saying we would wear a kilt. We had a lawyer in our group, and he laughed, and declared “This is a liability waiver!” According to facebook, 1700 runners had registered for the kilt run. The kilt run was a separate event from the 8K (which was 200 m in length, in attempts to get a lot more people interested in running it). The previous record was 2012 with 1764 or something.

Well, we got there at 1pm- me, Dan, Brucy, and the Lawyer. By 1:10, Brucy officially had registered. And we met up with some people we knew, said hey. By 1:20, we had completed the proper paperwork, and were cold, and kinda annoyed by the crowd, and a little hungry. So, we walked back to Brucy’s (around the corner from Moore Square). We came back around 1:50, just in time to get “counted” for the kilt run, and lined up.

Okay, the 200m kilt run was supposed to go around Moore Square. We lined up across the middle of the square. A bag pipe band was going to “lead” us… Which we all thought to ourselves obnoxiously pointed out “Wait… Are they gonna run while playing the bag pipes?!”

So 2 came, and all 1556 of us began our run (note that is shy of the record, but we had no clue at the time). Our “run” stopped about a meter after it started because (1) it was so crowded and (2) the bag pipe players were NOT in fact running. Funny note- I saw a few people actually almost trample the bag pipe players in trying to “run” the kilt run. So, instead we are walked a casual 17:00 pace for the 200m stretch around half of the square. I am not kidding- it took 5:30 to finish the walk, and we were in the middle of the pack.

Though it was a good reason for everyone to hang out and grab a beer, and wear a kilt.

So, by 2:10, the four of us were bored again. And with the option of getting drunk lingering across the street at Tir Na Nog, we decided to head back to Brucy’s again, and hang out there to keep warm. At 2:45, we headed back to Moore Square, and “lined up”

We just lined up in front of Tir Na Nog (which apparently was in the “walk” pace). I was so excited about having my gps for this race… My first time. And it had satellites and everything… Until 2:58. So no GPS. The race started at 3:00, and we crossed the start line at 3:02ish. And then Dan, Brucy, the Lawyer and I kept trying to get past all the people who were winded from running across the start line and decided to walk at 0.25 miles in… I kept dicing through the crowd, with the boys following me.

Did I mention I ran 9 miles, which included hill sprints on Friday night? Oh… well I did. So, I was just going for an “easy” pace. But kept looking over and seeing Dan and Bruce and the Lawyer… Which told me I was probably going too fast (they run easy 8:00s). Oh well.

After a couple miles in, I think we had lost most of the walkers. And Brucy and Dan had left the Lawyer and I in the dust.

It was a hilly course. And I remembered that from the previous time I ran this course, but I forgot until I was running it again HOW HILLY it was. Thankfully, I did remember that it really is only flat the first and last 0.25 miles, so I didn’t believe the people who were saying “the hills are behind you” at 3 miles in. The Lawyer did. Poor guy. He also doesn’t run that often, but held strong with me. And I had no idea what pace we were running. I just kept pushing it, hoping I’d make it in under 44 minutes…

Around 3.5 miles in, we caught up with this stupid blonde cheerleader who just kept yelling. No, seriously. The girl was like late 30s, but dressed in an annoying Notre Dame cheerleader costume, with blonde pig tails, and screamed in a high pitched voice “Woo! Let’s go Iris!” every ~30 seconds or so. I was like “who is Iris?! and why is this person soooo important!” She had a running buddy who was pushing her pace as hard as possible, in an identical costume, but her name was “Beth” or something… Stupid blonde cheerleader would ask “Beth” “Do you want to push the pace this last mile? Woo! Go Iris!” to which “Beth” would roll her eyes, and moan. And Stupid Cheerleader would yell something again, and then ask “what?!” to “Beth”. “Beth” looked miserable.

And I was recruiting people to chase down Stupid Cheerleader and kick her, or shut her up. No, seriously. I was asking everyone around me to please catch up to her, and tell her to shut up.

Well, I guess we eventually ran past some neighbor’s house who went to Notre Dame, and they yelled (upon seeing her costume) “Go Fighting Irish!” I suddenly understood who “Iris” was… The Stupid Cheerleader apparently also had a lisp. So, the Lawyer and I kept pushing our pace to get rid of this girl. And she just kept effortlessly catching up. We’d dust her. I’d overhear her saying something like “I’m gonna run back and check on ____” to “Beth”, and then she f***ing appear again out of nowhere. And everyone in our crowd would suddenly start moving faster to get away from her, and get quiet, and hold our breathe (and tongue probably too; except me. I was ready to give away my beer $$ if someone would have tripped her. THAT is some serious stuff!)

In the last half mile, she asked “Beth” again if she wanted to kick up the pace for the finish? Or do you want to turn back for ____? Or… And Beth cut her off, gasping for breathe saying “I just …. want…. to finish…”  That-a-girl. Beth!

And I guess Stupid Cheerleader understood, and left us once and for all, just as the course leveled out and we could see the finish line.

And I saw “44:00”, and thought Holy Crap! I might PR!” And gave it a final kick to catch the Lawyer (he’s 6’3, so I’m okay with his kick being faster than mine). And got this killer shot, that a friend tagged me in (upon seeing this in her random friends’ photos)


my final kick… So serious!

We found some friends, chatted a bit, got our free beer; then went around the corner to Raleigh Times for dinner and beers. And the Lawyer updated us on our results- Dan 38:48, Bruce 39:08, the Lawyer 41:58, me 42:02.

So, PR’d by 30 seconds. Which is fun. But yeah, the kilts. So much fun to run in!

Merrrowwry Christmas!

I completed all my shopping yesterday. Including shopping for some hard-to-shop-for people…

My GBF and I. And we went home last night, and completed one of my gifts (which I can’t picture, in case people see them before Christmas… so I’ll post them after Christmas)

I turned on Netflix, and wrapped them. All but three boxes; then got more wrapping paper this morning, and finished wrapping. This is my earliest completed Christmas wrapping ever (Dec 23). Go me!

$12 from Target last year...

$12 tree

You have no idea what's inside any of these...

So, I had time to take pictures, and post them for anyone lacking holiday enthusiasm. Trust me- you wrap prettier than I do… Just have fun with it! I like to make it a joke- how many pieces of tape can I use? How long will it take people to get the box open? How big of a box is necessary for a giftcard? How many boxes can I put inside other boxes? What do you do when you run out of gifttags?

And my GBF took a picture of me and my cat- Sylvester.  from my house to yours…


Clearly, he loves the holidays so much, he is screaming about it… 🙂 My 18-lb cat cracks me up.

So, as Sly is screaming in this picture “Merrowrry Christmas Everyone!”

(Oh, and I’m at 995 miles for 2012)

hip update

I feel this is premature, since I have a 4-6 miler scheduled with Dan this afternoon, and 6 miler in the morning with Sarah. But, my hip feels a LOT better. Not completely perfect, but the pain is only about a 2 (out of 10). I’m gonna take it easy on both runs- no speed, and I may walk hills if they seem hard.

It is disappointing, because I had been picking up speed again; but it happens, and I’ll get over it.

I also have to finish christmas shopping tomorrow- just a few more items for one or two people. I have today (Friday) through Wednesday off from work, so it will be a nice break, but I think I will get bored pretty quickly. Though catching up with family is always nice.

So now, I’m up to 989 miles. And hopefully, after today and tomorrow’s run, I’ll only have one more run left. I can do it! It’s all about maintenance now anyway 🙂

Happy Holidays everyone!

My resolution for 2013 is to be speedy, but first I have to be strong… I had forgotten that for a little bit. But I’ll get there again 🙂

Another resolution is to budget my running expenses- keep track of how much I spend in 2013. I have a feeling it’s a lot more than I think, and I could save sooooome by doing local races, training Hans-Solo-style, not doing so many (or as long) races. I attempted to add up last year’s expenses, and it was at least $1,200… Best estimate. So far, I have spent $150 for races in 2013 (both will require about $250 of other expenses)- so that’s $650 already. I’m not saying I’m not going to spend it, but I’m going to track it; so that way I can cut it off when I feel like it’s high. I mean I’d say my threshold is probably around what I spent in 2012- but then it’s also an experience. Hence, I am just tracking (Can you tell I am trying to talk myself out of the resolution already? And it’s only Dec 21…)

And! Let the pancakes and christmas wrapping (and music) begin! Okay, the music began like two weeks ago, but wrapping- that’s another issue. Maybe I should post my beautiful creations later today (I suck at wrapping)


Refocusing and holday challenge update

So, since I ran my marathon (more than a month ago? What the heck? When did that happen…?), I’ve been looking for my “next thing”.

Of course, I would love to up the anty somehow. Run 13 half marathons in 2013. Run an ultra. Or something else new and exciting. Honestly, if someone would fund the 13 half marathons in 2013, I probably would do it, but half marathons can get pricey average $75×13…= $1000, and that doesn’t include any travel expenses… I’d rather save that $1000 for something else. New shoes? (Gosh, not one new pair of shoes)

So I started this holiday activity challenge (do something active every day between Thanksgiving and the New Year). And I knew I wouldn’t completely fall off the running wagon since one of my goals for 2012 was to run 1,000 miles. And I’m almost there- 969 to be exact. So 31miles more in the next 20 days (that should be achievable).

My overarching goal for 2013 is to maintain my speed and intensity, and enjoy running (not that I don’t enjoy it now, but more preventing the burn-out and injury). I’ve been running pretty fast lately, for me. I’d like to keep that going.

So what’s already on my plate for 2013?

1. Palmetto200 Agony of De Feet team (not sure how many miles yet, but likely 18+), April 12-13. Oh, and I’m team captain.
2. Richmond Marathon (sub-4:30?), November 16.

So should I add…

1. St Pattys Run Green 8K. March 2 (5 miles through the historic area of downtown Raleigh, ending at one of my favorite little pubs, with a free delicious adult beverage)
2. Krispy Kreme Challenge. February 9 (run 2.5 miles from NCSU to Krispy Kreme, eat a dozen doughnuts, run the 2.5 miles back; all without yuking and under an hour for a prize. That leaves me ~10 minutes to eat all those doughnuts)
3. Raleigh Rocks Half Marathon. April 6 (one week pre-Palmetto-relay, and not likely to be speedy as a result)
4. Lookout Capital Half Marathon. June 1 (first weekend in June)
5. Mentoring Fleet Feet’s Beginner Half Marathon Training Program. Jan 22- Apr 14 (Which would ensure I don’t skip a Tuesday night workout and a Saturday morning workout, though I will likely go a lot slower and it will test my patience with slower runners)
6. Be a rock star and PR a couple 5Ks.
7. Be a rock star and PR a 10K
(This is assuming my Hot Chocolate 10K from 2012 doesn’t count, as I was pacing a slower friend 5 miles of the way, and finished in 1:12, which is a lot slower than I would imagine I would really run)

Holiday Challenge Update:

Alright, I don’t remember where I left off…
Let’s just say last Wed, 12/5 (Though I’ve done something every day, if you include sitting on an exercise ball to work my core one day at work and the pending headache)…

Wed, 12/5: Quick treadmill run. I was going to make it a “as fast as you can mile” but need some warm-up, and completed 1.5 miles in 11:39 (go me! 7:48 pace). I enjoy speed. And it was a 15-minute workout that burned ~200 calories.
Thur, 12/6: I was in Boston, but managed to walk 0.7 miles with my suitcase in tow (9am). Then walked 0.7 miles to work with my coworkers (11am), then wandered from hospital to hospital with coworkers (1pm). Walked the 0.7 miles back to our inn (8pm). Total miles walked: ~3 miles.
Fri, 12/7: Oh, Boston, how I walked you. I walked the 0.7 miles to work (9am). We then walked 1.5 miles to our lunch destination (12pm), and walked the 1.5 miles back (2pm). Then, walked 0.7 miles back to the inn (4pm). We then walked 0.5 miles to get on the green line (430pm), wandered around downtown, Boston Common, the State Building, the Financial District, and eventually back to Fanueil Hall (Fanueil Hall was about a mile from Boston Common, and about 2 miles from our “wait a second… I thought Fanueil Hall was on Congress” moment in the North End). Then we walked to dinner, maybe another half mile. Then! We walked from downtown Boston back to our hotel, through the Back Bay area, through Fenway, etc. A grand total of ~10 miles for the day. (I swear, that might actually be an underestimation; 1.5 miles for work, 3 miles for lunch, 3 miles wandering, dinner, then 3 miles back to the inn)
Sat, 12/8: Walked through the freaking rain! Ugh. That sucked. But I had scrapped my run Friday night, and had not calculated how much we walked Friday night, so I thought we could walk to Cambridge… 5 miles roundtrip.
Sun, 12/9: 9 mile run with Dan. I went out WAY too fast (probably low 8’s), and that caught up with me on the first major hill. My phone didn’t “start” the app, so I don’t know how fast we went out, but Dan (who runs consistent 8:00-pace) said he was out of breath the first few miles and hoping I would slow down. On the way back, I had to walk a little here and there, but we still managed 10:48 (average) with walking, so I’m okay with that. Next time, I’ll go out slower…
Mon, 12/10: 2 mile loop by my house. I tested my headlamp without a hat. But it was still 65 degrees out. It felt good. After a brief 9:30 half mile warm-up, my legs wanted to go fast, and with no training plan, I let them go nuts. 9:00, 8:16 for my splits. I was holding a steady 7:30 pace for the last mile, but decided I’d rather cool-down some, and slowed the pace for an even 8:16 🙂
Sorry those challenge recaps were so long. I feel the need to justify not running, but honestly, I walked twice as much as I would have ran in Boston, so I think it’s okay. My goal for the next few weeks is to increase my mileage so that my long runs seems decipherable (10 miles this Sat, 12 next, etc.)

Holiday health tips

So here it is, 70 degrees in December. It makes going to all these holiday parties seem silly. But we are discussing this a lot at work this time of year (I work in the weight loss setting), so here are my nuggets of wisdom. Take it or leave it. Maybe one tip will really help you feel successful and not guilty this season.

But, people still make all sorts of goodies that you shouldn’t eat, and don’t even realize it. So here’s my tips of advice:

1. Watch your alcohol intake.Not only is alcohol empty calories (about 150 cals for a regular beer, more for a darker/fuller beer, and usually about 90 for a light beer), but it lowers your inhibition, and makes your brain crave fatty goodness to restore its GABA levels.

2. Plan your indulgences. We all have our weaknesses- maybe it’s grandma’s derby pie, maybe it’s your mother-in-law’s squash casserole. If you plan out what you omigod-have-to-have, then you can develop a game plan. When you look down at your plate, at least 50% of it should be filled with healthy (and filling foods- vegetables, lean protein, etc).

3. The three-bite rule.This one is new to me, but I’ve been practicing it for years, without realizing. This only applies to “bad” foods (high-fat, high-sugar, high-carb), not healthy foods. If after three bites you don’t love it, don’t finish it. Wouldn’t you rather enjoy something fatty? For instance, I hate the “traditional” green beans (canned green beans, covered with cream of mushroom soup, then a layer of fried onions… And they’re not good for you). If you are going to a house where this seems to be improper etiquette, take only a few spoonfuls of each for your plate, then go back for seconds (ie, a real serving) after you have decided which foods you like best.

4. Bring your own dish.This may or may not be possible, depending on your holiday situation. But ask the host/hostess if there’s anything you can bring (a few days in advance). They usually say “Oh nothing”, so then ask if they know what they are serving yet. If you notice they don’t have green beans, reply by saying something like “Oh! I love green beans. Do you mind if I bring my own recipe? …It just doesn’t feel like the holidays without them…” This will also make you more likely to eat them, since you are claiming you love them. And vegetables covered in a creamy sauce, or deep-fried no longer count as vegetables… Just adding some italian dressing, and mixing up the veggies, and throwing in the oven for 5-10 minutes can make a delicious dish!

5. Be as active as possible. Even if this means you and your hubby go for a 10 minute walk after dinner. It can be a great family tradition, and aids in metabolizing your food. Include others in your activity, so it can be a family tradition (maybe even playing football, or walking through the neighborhood looking at everyone’s lights, or a bike ride through the old part of town… If you have an athletic family, maybe every does a timed stair climb to see who can go up and down the most stairs in five minutes, while the ham is cooking). There are so many ideas, and so many things you can do, aside from watch TV with your family.

6. Drink lots of water. This can also be a great practice in etiquette, as it requires you to go in and out of the kitchen frequently to re-fill the water, and you can always socialize with the host, and ask if they need help if they look busy when you pop in 🙂

7. Just maintain.Although a lot of people want to lose weight, or adopt new behaviors this time of year, research shows it’s actually best to maintain your weight loss (or running mileage), as you are changing your environment. People who are successful in the long run, actually plan to maintain their weight from Halloween to the New Year, as opposed to those who have lofty ideas of starting the new year 20 lbs. lighter.

8. Be assertive. If your weight is important to you (or your diet, or your running), tell others around you. When they mock you for waking up at 6am (and going to bed at 10pm), so you can get in a run before the festivities begin, stand up for yourself and your routine. If you explain why running is important, they are more likely to appreciate why you are making time for it. And once you assert why it is important, you will be more likely to follow-through the following morning.

9. No “yolo”. (yolo= you only live once) Although this is true, you will likely have several events to go to, and if you fall into the “it’s just one slice of cake” at the first party, then you are much more likely to fall into those thoughts at the next 10 parties you have to go to. And that’s easily 3500 extra calories (3500 calories= 1 lb). So one cake, not bad; 10 cakes = an extra pound. Fortunately, you probably will live to see that extra pound if you eat the 10 slices of cake… 🙂

10. Forgive yourself.If you do slip, and have 4 slices of pie one night (Can you tell my vice is dessert?)… It will be okay. You don’t have to scrap the whole holiday season, or even that weekend of events. Just keep moving as you had before your slip.

Good luck everyone! Whether you are trying to lose weight, or training for a marathon (or your first 5K), think about those goals. You’ll still have to face them in January! 🙂

(not) running in Boston…

So my first trip to Boston, and I’m hoping it won’t be my last. It was short- a couple days. And I am finally able to put a face to some coworkers I have seen via Skype and speak with on weekly conference calls (for the past two years). All that was nice. Truthfully, I could see myself living in Boston; the history and the culture just fit my style.

I began the trip at 445am, and I think my body just was going on auto-pilot, believing I could only be up for one thing- to run. I had to shut those thoughts out. I had a 7am flight, and that’s why I was up so early, and we got to the airport in perfect timing. And our flight was super short (1.5 hours), and no turbulence. The cabby from the airport to our hotel swore he could not drive down the street our inn was located on. But said he could drive us around to get “closer” and dropped us off about .7 miles away. I am a new yorker through and through. My family roots came out, and I demanded he pull over, and let us out. I was not about to let him keep the meter running, while we (the out of towners) gave him directions to our inn. So, we walked for close to a mile with our suitcases, during “rush hour” when everyone else was headed toward the hospital. Also, the cab ride was $32, I felt he must have driven around the way, because it only took 15 minutes. I guess cabs are more expensive in Boston than other cities I’ve lived (Raleigh isn’t a good measure, since no one takes a cab).

My coworker and I were traveling together, and stood anxiously outside our inn, waiting for “them” to pick us up (imagine a blind date). A quartet of giggles came towards us, and we both thought I think that’s them… I’m not sure… Hmmm… maybe? And they crossed the street, and said our names. As we walked the 1/2 mile to the office from there, two took the lead with me, and excitedly asked me about my running plans, because they were so interested. We were staying out by the Longwood area (toward Fenway/ BU/ MIT/ Harvard Medical Center), and they suggested I run down by the (Charles) River on the Boston side, then cross over to the Cambridge side to run back… Which made me chuckle. I quickly explained I only wanted to do 4 or 5 miles, and they were confused. Didn’t you just run a marathon? And I said I’m not here to run the Boston Marathon… And we laughed about it. Apparently these two were runners, and one even ran home (3-4 miles) on a regular basis (including Thursday night).

Meeting everyone was great. If we pretend it was a first date scenario, it was a great first date.

So we worked up until about 8pm. Our coworker walked to her train, and we returned to the inn, and grabbed chocolate covered almonds, and chips, and cookies, and tea, and went upstairs to decompress from a long, but good day.

And then, Friday, we were scheduled to find our own way to the office, which was pretty easy at that point. Friday’s plan was to get out of work by 3(ish) and head to the inn, quickly change, and go for a short run. But, frankly, I was tired, and it was 4 by the time we got to the inn, and it was overcast, so I thought it was going to be dark in no time at all. And my coworker wanted to go to downtown Boston, and see all the sights. So I scrapped the run. We had walked 3 miles (for our lunch… We walked through Boston a little to get to the restaurant), so we hopped on the train, and headed into the city.

We got off by Boston Common, which we loved. It was so pretty this time of year. And we marveled at the christmas tree, and lights, and the skating pond. And wandered around a good bit. Then, decided to wander over to Fanueil Hall, because everyone said we had to see it. And walked right past it. And into the North End of Boston, and marveled at the brownstones. Then, decided to check my map for Fanueil Hall, and walked over to it (about a mile away). And then walked toward Boston Common to eat, and found a cute place. And I had a beer- Shipyard Monkey Fist IPA- it was delicious! Then we were stuffed after dinner. And the weather was decent (35 degrees and damp). So we decided to walk back to the inn. It was only 3 miles. When I got back to the room- I calculated that we had walked about 8-9 miles throughout the day. So I consider that I did a good bit of cross-training on this trip 🙂

We ran a little- across the streets- jay walking, pretending to be locals. As if locals walk 2-3 miles from point A to point B when there’s a train that will do that… I’m guessing that’s a little tourist-y.

But we decided Beacon Hill was our second favorite neighborhood. I actually loved the Back Bay area, just east of Fenway (maybe?) on Commonwealth. It was there we crossed back to Beacon, and headed that way back to our hotel. We felt we deserved cookies when we got back to the inn, and hot chocolate. It started raining a little near the end. We stayed up and chatted about life. Until it was finally bed time.

In general, I love Boston. I could definitely see myself there. There were tons of runners (which I already knew), and everyone was so friendly, but direct. Though the whole “rushed city” feeling was imminent too. I felt southern, just meandering around the city at 9pm 🙂

It was so pretty all lit up

It was so pretty all lit up

Saturday morning we headed to Cambridge (by foot- because at that point- why not?)… Well, why not? Because it was raining. It wasn’t at first, but soon after we started walking, it started raining, and my shoes were soaked. It wasn’t such a pretty day, and we couldn’t really appreciate Cambridge and Harvard. Everyone had said it’s a beautiful campus, but we found it damp, cold, and foggy. And quickly found shelter for a lunch to-go, and got back to the inn to get to the airport.

So in total, I walked about 2 miles Thursday, 8 miles Friday, and 5 miles Saturday. That’s a total of 15 miles in three days. Although no running, I feel okay with 15 miles… After all, I’m doing 9 miles with Dan Sunday afternoon (and he has been running at a faster pace- about 7:30s to 8s), so it may be a struggle to keep up 🙂


proof that running always helps

Well, almost always.

Today was a blah day. This weekend was so so great. I hung out (slash moved) my gay bestie and hung out with his mom and dad and his boyfriend, all of whom I love. Then, I rushed to a holiday party Dan was having. Which apparently had a strong turn-out, mostly because they wanted to meet this girl he was dating. Is she real? Did she really run a marathon? And ate three doughnuts, immediately following a 9-mile run in the middle of the day, then run 10 miles later that night?! Okay, maybe they had different questions. But, it was good times, all around.

Then, Sunday, we just hung out. We cleaned the 50 or so beer bottles left scattered around the house and yard, swept the floor, ran the dishwasher, etc etc. Dan made me breakfast with some of the leftover veggies from the veggie platter (my idea). We went to the ArtWalk, which was mostly lame, but there were a few legitimate artists and one furniture place that had great (and reasonably priced) hand-crafted furniture. All of that was nice, but nothing extraordinary. Just a great weekend.

And then, I had to go back to work. And I love my job, but something about going to work after a nice weekend makes you wish it was always weekend. And I went for a slow-ish 5 mile run on Monday.

Tuesday, Dan and I went for sushi. And I remembered as I was getting settled into bed that I needed to do my workout for the day, so hello sworkit (a new app I got). I chose Strength Training, then Core, then 5 minutes. And added some penguins and a few leg raises on the end.

And today, I did a “as fast as I can mile”, but decided to do 1.5 miles instead, and completed it in 11:39. Which is pretty good, but shows I need a warm-up before just jumping into a fast mile. That mile and a half helped the funk go away.

I’m heading to Boston tomorrow for work, and am really excited. I’ll be staying by Fenway, and my goal is to get in one run while in Boston. I have a firm belief that you don’t really see a community until you run in. One of my favorite runs is in St Maarten at 530am (it was still 90 degrees and sunny in July), before all the tourists got up. Running those hills, with the quiet neighbors before the morning hustle and bustle.

So, ever since that run, I make it a point to get in one run in each new town. When I mentioned that I ran the Richmond marathon to my Boston co-workers on a conference call, their reply was You should run the Boston Marathon! And I laughed so hard. Ummmm… I will never be that fast. But you guys are sweet. And they said they’d show me a good running route before sending me on my way Friday night. I was thinking Harvard Square or through BU’s campus, or maybe down to Fenway… We shall see… It will also depend on timing.

How do you knock yourself out of a funk? For me, I run a lot of short runs (2-3 milers), and push the speed a lot. Or do a lot of short (5-10 minute) workouts. There’s less excuses, such as: I don’t have time; The sun is setting; But I really don’t have time for a shower (when it’s 40-degrees out, I find a quick rinse-off works fine if meeting someone); I’m tired; etc etc. All of these excuses are thrown aside when I think But it’s only 10 minutes… And I usually feel so much better afterward.

Boston! Here I come! (Except not the marathon… I’m about an hour too slow for that! haha!)