Friday, April 30, 2010

Lake Monona 20k Race Preview

Interesting fact: Otis Redding (that guy who sang Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay) died when the plane he was traveling in crashed into Lake Monona.

Here's the race course.

Only 12.44 little miles.  Most of it is on a bike path around the lake, but some is on residential streets.  I've wanted to run this course before (it's one of the most popular in town), but I didn't trust myself to navigate the roads on the east side without guidance.  That's the main reason I signed up for the race.  I figure once I do it with signs and cones, I'll be able to recreate the path myself.

The weather is supposed to be nice.  Not thunder-storming (like today) or windy (like yesterday).  Just cloudy and pleasant.  It's a small race so if we all start at 9am, I should be done in... well... let's get to that part.

Lake Monona 20k Race Goals:
At minimum: Enjoy the scenery and learn how the course meanders through the neighborhoods
C Time Goal: 1:44:00.  Why?  I dunno.  It's a round number.  8:23 min/mile.  Even though 26.2 miles is >>> than 12.44, this is the pace I'd need to qualify for Boston in the fall.  It would be a confidence boost to know I could hold it for almost half the distance.
B Time Goal: 1:43:36.  8:21 min/mile.  This is my predicted time based on the 8k last week.
A Time Goal:  1:42:20.  8:15 min/mile.  This is my goal pace for the 1/2 marathon I'm planning to run at the end of May.  Hitting that goal now would hopefully mean I could beat it later in May.

I'll be honest, though.  Mentally I'm not super pumped up for the race.  My A time goal pace sounds really really fast right now.  Not that I'm not recovered.  I'm actually feeling really good physically going into the race.  Only a short 4 miler plus some yoga today should have me ready as I'll ever be.

I think the thing I'm struggling with is that I still remember how hard my last race was.  Normally I let months go by between races, and I get amnesia about how uncomfortable racing is.  Not this time.  That battle between your body wanting to quit and your mind wanting to continue is fresh.  This race is different because it's not "fly and die" like a 5 mile race, but it's challenging because you have to sustain focus on pushing yourself just the right amount over a long period of time.  I haven't done a long race since fall of 2008, and I'm not sure I feel prepared.  I've done a number of 12.5 milers, but nothing longer, and I haven't done many mid-week 8+ mile runs either.

Well, we'll see...

On another note, I went out for "girls night" for Indian food and ice cream last night with two co-workers.  The food was delicious and the conversation was fun as always.  No pictures sadly because one of my co-workers is both camera shy and would kill me if I put anything descriptive about her on the Internet.

Guess I need to get ready to run here.  Off for another day at work.  TGIF!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Once upon a time

Obviously I like writing or else I wouldn't have this blog, I wouldn't have been a journalism major as an undergrad (bet some of you wouldn't have guessed that!), and I wouldn't crank out big long family Christmas letters.  However, there's one kind of writing I haven't had much practice at: scientific writing, and it's the kind of writing where I notoriously get writer's block.  At least with the blog, if I don't have any good ideas, I can post a picture like this

and be done with it.  Because you can't tell me that's not entertaining.

That won't work for my poster, though.  So despite spending several hours looking for good images to punch up my layout, I don't have much done.

A year or so ago, I read the book A PhD is Not Enough, and even though I'm not getting and never will get a PhD, it had some helpful things to say about working in research.

The author spends a big chunk of time discussing developing good research projects and presenting them... because you won't get a good job if you don't do a good job presenting your work.

One of the points he emphasizes is that a good presentation tells a story.  To paraphrase:  Your background introduces the characters, your methods section sets the scene, the results and discussion are the climax, the conclusion ties everything together, and the limitations lets the reader know to stay tuned for a sequel.  The introduction, he says, is the most important part because it tells the audience why your work matters.  One of the biggest problems new researchers have is that they don't understand the bigger picture of their research (or it doesn't have one), which is why writing the introduction is the hardest part for many people.

Fortunately my topic is contrast sensitivity and visual quality of life- pretty easy for anyone to understand why both of those things are important.  But I still find it hard to tell their story in poster form.  That's my project for this afternoon, though.  We'll see how it goes.

On a totally different note, I did not have the opportunity to conquer my fear of sauces last night as life got in the way and we ended up eating dinner out so D could work late.  It worked out in a way because I got to have an extremely chill night at home involving changing into my PJ's at 6:30pm and reading until bedtime.  Ah, the simple pleasures.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


It's been pretty cold the last few mornings.  Even though it's 41, we actually have a frost advisory for this morning.  Yesterday morning it was only 33, and there was a strong wind coming off the lake.  Despite this (or maybe because of it) I finished my 6 miler in a little more than 55 minutes- a pretty good pace of an easy run for me.  Unfortunately by the time I got home my hands were like blocks of ice.  I have my mittens out for this morning and am planning another 6 miles with some pick-ups.  I think I'm recovering well from my last race, and am feeling even better going into the one this Saturday.

Dinner last night was pan-seared scallops from Cooking Light (see recipe on the side bar) served with Trader Joe's multigrain pilaf.  This is not something I think of as a dish I would normally make, but it turned out pretty well other than being a bit over-salted (I was afraid it would be bland and probably underestimated the saltiness of the bacon).

For tonight's dinner, spring vegetable carbonara (again, see sidebar for recipe), I'm going to be tackling one of my biggest cooking fears- sauces.  The recipe has you make a sauce using egg, cheese, and some of the pasta water.  This is exactly the kind of sauce I would have royally messed up when I first started cooking, but now that I'm getting more confidence in the kitchen, I think it's time to try again.

Well, that's all the excitement around these parts.  Is there any kitchen skill you are "afraid of"?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

This might be taking the cheese thing a bit too far

Behold, the official state microbe of Wisconsin

This was the Quote of the Day from April 19 in Time Magazine (hat tip to the Accessory Fairy, now also known as the Blog Idea Fairy):

Open quoteThis microbe is really a very hard worker.Close quote
  • Democratic Wisconsin state representative, who has proposed a bill to nameLactococcus lactis, the bacterium used to make cheddar, Colby and Monterey Jack cheese, the state microbe

 In honor of our state microbe*, I made pizza for dinner last night.  Cooking Light (see sidebar for recipe) calls this something like California smoked salmon pizza.  I call it bagel pizza.  I think you can tell why.

 You roll out your crust really thin and bake it until it's done.  Then top with cream cheese, smoked salmon, and red onion and bake just until the toppings are warm.  This was an interesting idea, and I loved the crispy crust, but the smoked salmon was a bit salty for me.  I don't know if it's the brand we bought or just the nature of smoked salmon.

Anyway, it's time to get moving.  I'm planning for 6 easy miles, and I need to dig out my tights again.  It's "feels like" 33, and I don't feel like being cold.

*If I had to guess, I'd say the official state microbe of New Mexico is whatever makes red chili hot, and the official state microbe of Florida is... Hepatitis B?, something that makes little kids cry when waiting in long lines?, the thing that makes the cockroaches so big?

What would the official state microbe of your state be?

Monday, April 26, 2010


It was hard getting up this morning.  My sleep schedule is all whacked out from my late night Saturday and late morning yesterday.  This weekend flew by, and I would have liked to add about 4 more hours to it for sleep purposes alone.

I did get a lot done, though.  We did church, and then went to a meeting about a new site the church is opening downtown (in a rented music venue/night club- gulp).  I came home, cleaned, yoga-ed, practiced piano, scarfed down a sandwich, and went to my last youth group of the school year.  (We'll be on vacation for the actual last one).  I was afraid the kids wouldn't want the cookies I brought because there was a lot of other sweet stuff donated last, but fortunately high school boys can eat anything at any time, and they scarfed them down and said they were good.

I'm not sure yet if I'm going to do it again in the fall.  I'll be honest.... I was not the greatest youth leader out there.  I'm not BFFs with any of the kids in my community group.  Plus, D and I are both pretty interested in helping out to get the downtown location going.  I guess I'll see how I feel about it at the end of the summer after I've had a break for awhile.  It can't say it won't be nice to have my Sundays from 4-9pm back again.

Well, that's all I've got.  I need to drag my zombie behind to the gym for some strength training this morning.  Have a good Monday, all.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Week in Review- CrazyLegs Race Report Edition

I'm happy to report the CrazyLegs 8k race yesterday was a resounding success.  I met all the goals I laid out that morning.

1. Be Zen about the weather.

Actually I didn't have to.  It sprinkled a tiny bit before and after the race and was a little chilly and windy, but there was nothing to complain about.  It was actually a great day for a race.

2. Have fun

Definitely.  First, I loved the wave start.  There were tons of people in front of me, but they were always moving as fast or faster than I was.  Sure I passed people and was passed, but there were no road blocks as there can be in races where people line up wherever they please.

Second, I got to meet up with two fabulous runner/bloggers: Jamie from Running Diva Mom, and Linda from Mom Running from Cancer.  You should check out both their blogs to read their race reports.  A major shout out to Jamie who smashed her goal time AND is planning a 20 miler today on the treadmill.  You might not guess it from her pink Bondi band, but she's pretty hardcore :).

It was fun to have someone to share the afterglow of the race with.  Thanks again to Linda for brining a camera and to her son for being the photographer.

I love this one where you can see the stadium bleachers in the background.  This was my first time in Camp Randall.  20,000+ people ran or walked in the race plus the spectators made this truly a community-wide event.

3. The time goals

I'm happy to say I met all my time goals.  When I stopped my watch, I had 39:01 minutes (just above my A goal of 39 min), but when I checked the race results this morning, my official time was 38:59.  YAY!  When I checked my time I found out that not only did I meet my time goal, I won first place out of everyone with my last name.

My splits were: 7:31, 7:58, 7:32, 7:58, 7:48, which weren't perfectly even but reflected the up and down nature of the course.  I was happy that all my mile times were faster than an 8 min/mile pace.  I don't have much else to add other than I pushed myself hard, but overestimated how far the finish line was when I made my final kick.  I definitely could have picked it up a bit before I did.  Otherwise, it was a good race effort for me.

This week is all about recovery and getting ready for my 20k race this Saturday.

Here's the boring recap of the rest of the week:
U- Strength training- dealing with a sore shin
M- 6mi easy in 58:05 (9:41 min/mile)
T-  7mi in 1:03:56 with 5x2min fast (paces for intervals were 7:08, 7:11, 7:21, 6:57, 7:29)
W- 6mi easy in 57:23 (9:34 min/mile)
R- Strength training, yoga
F- 4mi easy in 36:17 (9:05 min/mile)
S- CrazyLegs!!

Brining the totals to:
Run: 28 miles
Yoga: 1x
Strength training: 2x

The rest of the day yesterday was pretty full.  I talked to my parents, baked fudge drop cookies for the kids in my small group at youth tonight because this is my last night with them (D had 1.5 for breakfast this morning and pronounced them good), 

cleaned up the house, and then it was time to drive over to Milwaukee to see Marc Knopfler.

Pictures and recording were a no no, so I don't have any of that to share with you.  The concert was good.  I don't know many Marc Knopfler/Dire Straights songs but the rest of the audience seemed to really be getting into it.  In fact, when a guy two rows in front of us stood up to cheer, the woman he was with reached up and groped the heck out of his butt.  I know if I were a musician, that's precisely the sentiment I would want to inspire in my audience.

Anyway, it was a late night getting back and an early morning getting up for church.  I briefly entertained the idea of getting up early to run, but then I realized that was stupid.  My body needed rest and sleep more than it needed to get up at 5:30 for a sloooowwww 5mi run.  As I said, this week will mostly be about recovering and getting ready for next Saturday.

Have a great Sunday, all!

Saturday, April 24, 2010


It's race day, and the weather isn't currently going nuts, so I'm taking it as a good sign.  Accuweather's forecast is "cloudy" from 7-noon with showers on either side, which would be great.  If it does rain, though, I'll be prepared with a trash bag for my body and plastic grocery bags for my feet.  I'm all systems go.

Which leads to a natural question... why am I making such a big deal about this little 8k race?  I think because I feel a lot of internal pressure to recreate the results from my last 10k.  It's like somehow I don't believe my time was real, and I have to prove it by running another race at comparable speed.  So here I am, looking out the window at the trees getting tossed around in the gusty wind thinking, *gulp*.

But, what is life without goals?  Here are mine for this race:

At minimum: Be Zen about the weather and its possible impact on my results.  No whining before or after.
A little better: Have a good time.
Starting to think about time: Sub 40 min (faster than 8min/mile pace)
A little more about time: Sub 39:16 min (the time predicted by my last 10k results)
What I would love to see: Sub 39 min

Alright, let's get off this subject and on to something more fun...

I love love love love love love love getting my hair done.  When we are rich and famous enough to be on Cribs (is that show even on anymore?) I'm going to buy a pet monkey to wash my hair and massage my scalp every morning.

I decided to go with a little different style this time.  I have the back short, and I'm growing the front out so it angles down.  We're not quite there, yet, but you get the idea.

With my hair tucked behind my ear, like I normally wear it:

I took one from the front, but I have a goofy look on my face so we'll leave it off the Internetz.

New toenail color: sparkly purple.

Also, the Accessory Fairy (aka D's mom) sent a special delivery that arrived yesterday

Yes, those are my very own pair of What Not to Wear red shoes!!!!  I'm very excited.  I wore the black ones last night because they matched my outfit better, but I can't wait to wear the red ones.  Plus they are Naturalizer so they won't rip holes in the sides of my feet or put me at risk of ankle breakage when I walk.  Thank you, Accessory Fairy!

Guess that's about it for me.  I'm catching the bus over to the race in an hour, and I need to finish getting ready, do some stretching and foam rolling, etc.  Tonight we're going to see Mark Knopfler (the guitar guy from Dire Straights) play in Milwaukee.

Have a great Saturday, all.  Good luck to Running Diva Mom who is running CrazyLegs today and have fun to the Durso Pack who are doing the walk!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Five things to be thankful for on Friday

Sometimes it's nice to take a step back and think about all the wonderful things in life.

1. Our cherry tree is blooming

2. I got the latest issue of Cooking Light in the mail yesterday, and there's a whole section devoted to pizza!

3. Fun TV last night, and Tebow got drafted in the 1st round.  All is right with the world.

4. I'm getting my hair cut and feet pedicured this afternoon after work.

(That looks quite a bit fancier than the place actually is.  It's in a strip mall next to a TCBY).

5. Tasty dinner of fish and chips Cooking Light style

and a Senor Flurry for dessert!

I'm taking off for an easy 4mi with pick-ups, and praying for not too much rain tomorrow.  We're now at scattered thunderstorms so maybe they'll scatter somewhere else while I'm trying to run!

What are you thankful for this Friday?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

On the toob

Anyone else excited about two new episodes of 30 Rock tonight???  I am*

This is a big night in TV for us because the NFL draft is on, too.  I have never cared about the NFL draft or anything involving the NFL beyond the food being served at whatever Superbowl party I'm attending, but as a Gator fan, I'm contractually obligated to be on TEBOW WATCH tonight.  Will he get drafted in the first round?????  He better, because I'm switching to 30 Rock at 7:30.  Probably not, though, because according to CNN, he's not even going.

Back to things that actually impact my life... Last night I made spaghetti with sausage inspired by the Cooking Light recipe in the sidebar.  Mmmm, steamy.

And last, I'm headed to the gym this morning to do some strength training.  It's been six weeks since I started my program, and based on Jess's advice, I'm going to switch things up with some new exercises.  I'm still acting as if I'm racing this Saturday even though we are back to thunderstorms all day.  But I'll wait until tomorrow to talk about some goals for that and whine about the weather (Which is "feels like 29" right now.  What the heck!?!).

Have a great Thursday, all.  Thanks for your author suggestions BTW.  I'll definitely check some out once I'm done with U (which I'm really enjoying).

*Or else I wouldn't be posting about it, would I- well I would if I didn't have anything else to write about, which is partially true

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sucked in

When I really enjoy one book by an author, I tend to get "stuck" on him or her and read everything I can get my hands on.  I think this has been true for me and

The problem I run into is that I'm not a book re-reader, so I check everything I read out from the library, and sometimes you have to wait for a loooooong time to get new releases.  So I know I haven't read the most recent (and maybe even two or three most recent) thing each of these authors has written (except ACD who's done me the favor of being dead).

But this has been rectified in one case.  I got a lovely e-mail from the library system that my request for

was ready to be picked up.  I was #200-something on the list when I requested it, and I wasn't sure if I'd get it before we left Madison, but now it's mine!  All mine!  For the next two weeks anyway.  As if I weren't going to finish it in a huge reading binge this weekend.

So who are your favorite authors?  What series can you not get enough of?

My run yesterday was pretty good.  All my 2 min fast intervals were in the low 7min/mile range (one in the high 6's!!).  I wish all of them were below 7min/mile pace, but sometimes I feel like it's hard to get up to and maintain that speed in such a short interval.  Anyway, just a few more easy runs this week (6 today, 4 Friday) before the race Saturday.  

Ooooh, and on a side note- the weather for Saturday seems to be improving.  We've moved from showers starting on Friday to starting on Saturday.  And the rain on Saturday is now just "showers" instead of "thunder showers."  Let's hope the rain gets pushed back another day (or heck, even until the afternoon).

Last night's dinner was another winner: tofu with baby broccoli and rice.  I baked (and pressed) the heck out of that tofu, and I'm proud to say it was crunchy and not "flabby".

The only thing I would have done differently is either use a sauce with more fat in it (I used Trader Joe's General Tso's) or put a little oil on the tofu before I put it in the oven to up the crunch factor even more. 

That's it for me.  Have a great Wednesday, all! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Boston dreams

First, off a huge congratulations to MarathonMaiden for her awesome performance at Boston.  It was fun to track her and a "real life" friend yesterday during the race.  Checking the leader board, it was a good day for Americans Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi, too, who placed 4 and 5 in the men's division.  Hopefully one day I'll have the opportunity to run Boston, too.  If I never get faster, I can at least try to not get too much slower and hope that I qualify when I hit 70.

I wish I could say that the marathon yesterday had inspired me to get pumped up for my final speed session (4x2min fast with 1 min recovery) before the race this weekend, but alas, it just doesn't have the same mystique.  Plus, there are thunderstorms forecast for the whole weekend.  Last year it rained so hard (and I was injured) that I skipped this race.  I'd like to actually run it this year, but with a minimum of rain-soaked sock blisters.

  Otherwise not much else is going on.  I made chicken enchiladas last night for the first time in a very long time.  This is one of the first dishes I ever tried to cook, and it's nice to see that my cooking skills have progressed to the point where I was confident they were actually cooked when I pulled them out of the oven and wouldn't have to go in the microwave .

Normally I'd be annoyed that my dinner looked like a pile of red slime, but that's a mark of traditional New Mexican food.  If only we'd had sopapillas to finish the meal.  Le sigh.  You can find a lot of ethnic foods in Madison, but so far as I know, sopapillas are not one of them.  So tasty.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Little pretty ones

The first signs of life are appearing in the garden!

Tiny baby spinach

baby lettuce

and baby onions

We've now almost filled up the "cold weather" crop region of our garden plot.  There's room for one more planting of lettuce and one more planting of *probably* onions.

May 1 is the magic date for plants that don't need it to be hot hot hot (like tomatoes), but don't do well with cold.  So in a few weeks we'll be adding in things like cucumbers, the sweet potatoes currently residing in the windowsill, and broccoli plants.

After gardening, D and I hit the gym for strength training.  I'm happy to report that after taking yesterday off from running, my shin feels completely better.  I'm going to test it out on an easy run today, but if everything feels okay, I'll do one last speed session tomorrow before the race Saturday.

Dinner was an old favorite:

Then we had our second to last youth group for the school year.  Not quite sure if I'm happy or sad about that yet!  

Last, but certainly not least, I want to give a huge good luck shout out to MarathonMaiden and everyone else running Boston today.  Enjoy the fruits of your hard work!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Week in Review- Ben Franklin Edition

Why Ben Franklin?  Because I was early to bed last night (although not so early to rise).  I was in bed reading at 7:30pm, asleep by 8:30pm, and  I didn't get up until almost 6:20am.  After more than two straight weeks of getting less than 8 hours of sleep every night (and no naps), I had some serious sleep debt to pay, and it felt so so so good to sleep in.  Part of the reason I got to sleep in is not so good, though.  My right shin was really bothering me yesterday/last night, and I made an executive decision not to run today.  It's probably just tight, and seems to benefit from Advil, stretching, and icing, but I thought at this point my normal Sunday easy 5 miler would probably do more harm than good.  So instead I'm planning to hit the gym with D today.  I'll re-evaluate the shin situation tomorrow and either run or elliptical depending on how it goes.

Week in review:
U- 5mi easy in 47:17 (9:28 pace), yoga
M- 8.5 mi with 3 hill repeats in 1:18:45 (9:16 pace)
T- Strength training
W- 8mi tempo in 1:12:11 (9:02 pace).  20 min easy at 9:33 min/mile, 15 min moderate at 8:24 min/mile, 5 min moderately hard at 7:42 min/mile, 5 min hard at 7:19 min/mile.
R- 5mi easy in 49:15 (9:51 pace), yoga
F- Strength training
S- 12.5mi in 1:53:30 (9:05 pace)

Brining the grand totals to:
Miles run: 39
Strength: 2x
Yoga: 2x

This was a big week for me on top of a lot of weeks of building, which I think contributed to my shin pain.  This week will be a cut back week in preparation for my 8k race on Saturday, and the next week will also be a cut back to recover from that race and get ready for the 20k the next week.

Otherwise I just have normal Sunday chores to do.  It's a beautiful day, and I'm looking forward to planting starting some new seeds in the garden.  Have a great Sunday, all!


Saturday, April 17, 2010


Is way past my normal bedtime, but it's nice to make exceptions sometimes.  D and I plus a couple co-workers and another significant other walked over to State St.- the main UW drag- for dinner after work at the always-delicious Husnu's.  Then we were on the the UW Madison spring band concert.  The first half of the concert was great.  Lots of fun music and rah! rah! rah! Wisconsin and some really talented guest stars, including a guy who played the accordion and a professor from NIU who played the steel pan.  But then we came back from intermission and things got weird.  Let's just say reenacting sections of Miss Saigon accompanied by marching band is not a crowd pleaser.  The concert ended up lasting 3 hours! with intermission, which is too much band, even for me.  Had it lasted for 2 hours with no intermission, I would be signed up for next year already, but I dunno... I'm still a little shell shocked.  Anyway, we had good company and I'm glad we went out and did something different.

Needless to say, I slept in a bit this morning.  I think this is the first time I've slept until 6 in a few weeks.  I'd love to say it was luxurious, but since I didn't get to bed until almost midnight, it feels about the same as every other day.  But it was important to get up because I'm headed out for my last long run before the 20k I'm doing May 1st.  Next week I have an 8k race, and I'm not one of those people who can run 10 more miles after a race or do a long run the day after.  Racing really wears me out!  Anyway, I'm planning on somewhere between 12.5 and 14 miles depending on if I want to tack a small loop on to the end of the run.  It's 35 with gusty winds (not my favorite running conditions) but it's sunny, which makes up for it somewhat.

Today will be partly a chore day and partly a fun day.  Provided I get back and cleaned up in time (need to hurry!), we are going to a community hymn sing at the Overture Performing Arts Center downtown.  Then D is going to work, and I'll make a pilgrimage to take back the cable box and go to the grocery store. Well, I better get going here.  My goal was to get out of the house by 7:30 and it's 7:27 right now.  Have a great Saturday, all.    


Friday, April 16, 2010

Live, my beautiful creation

News flash from the windowsill; my sweet potato plants are starting to sprout.  The roots started growing a little while ago

 And now the vines are starting to sprout.

I'll have to consult the garden book, but these guys ought to be able to go in the garden pretty soon.  In just a couple weeks we'll be in May and relatively free from the risk of frost.

In other food news, we tried a new Trader Joe's product last night: Tokyo-style soba noodles.

We added chicken and broccoli

There's actually quite a bit of food in the box- enough for two very hungry people or two not-so-hungry people and a lunch for the next day.  The sauce was flavorful and definitely not heavy like a lot of grocery store Asian sauces.  It actually had kind of a lemony flavor in some bites.  This is something we definitely plan on buying again until they randomly discontinue it.

Tonight's excitement is going to the UW Marching Band spring concert.

I was in marching band in high school and for my first two years at UF, so I have a special place in my heart for it.  Plus, after listing to them practice outside my window at work for two football seasons now, it's time to hear them in concert.

Well, time to roll out and do some strength training.  Between yesterday's easy 5mi and my rest day today hopefully I'll be ready to tackle 14 tomorrow morning- my longest run in a really long time.

Enjoy your Friday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Vacation plans

Last night we made our first concrete vacation plans for our Tour of the Upper Middle Midwest and Lower Central Canada.  I guess you could also call it Tour of 3 of the 5 Great Lakes, one of Which I Can't Name at 5:30am.

Here's a map our our route:

View Larger Map

The plan is:
  • Drive over to Minneapolis for a concert Saturday May 15
  • Leave early May 16 and drive from Minneapolis across WI and the UP to Sault Ste. Marie, MI.  
  • Spend May 17 in Sault Ste. Marie
  • Leave early on the 18th and drive to Toronto
  • Spend the 19th - 21st in Toronto
  • Drive to and visit Niagara Falls on the 22nd.  Then start the trip back heading south through New York, south of Lake Erie
  • Continue toward home on the 23rd possibly stopping at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
  • Arrive home on May 23 or 24th.
We are trying to hit all the Upper Midwest stuff we probably wouldn't get back to if we don't do it now, plus go to Canada because neither one of us has been there yet.  Obviously I'm pretty excited.  I can't believe it's only a month away!

I also had a really good tempo run yesterday.  I did another progressive tempo, but I did it a little bit differently this week.  I had an easy 20 min warm-up (9:36 min/mile), then 15 minutes moderate (8:23 min/mile), 5 minutes moderately hard (7:42 min/mile) and 5 min hard (7:19 min/mile).  I was a little worried about this run when I started because I felt really sluggish during the warm-up, but obviously I was able to pick it up later.  I love feeling my body wake up as I'm running in the morning!

Otherwise things are pretty normal.  We had a nice dinner last night: mushroom stuffed chicken (recipe in sidebar) with egg noodles and a side of broccoli.  Obviously I made way too much stuffing so it became topping as well.  I was only able to finish half the chicken so it will be a nice change from a turkey sandwich for lunch for me today.

And with that, it's time for me to head out for an easy run.  I'm loving this warm weather, and I hope it stays because the weather here has been nothing if not variable.  Two Thursdays ago it was 80 degrees, last Thursday it snowed, and today it is supposed to be 80 again!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Reach Feast was fun last night, and I think (hope) it was very successful for the missions it supports.  I was amazed by how many people showed up and what was donated.  You could bid on a weekend storm chasing trip, an hour of skateboarding with the junior pastor, the 2007 and 2008 Holiday Barbies, shooting lessons, life coaching, a ride in a 1960-something race car, clothes, jewelry, art (some of it actually good!), all kinds of gift baskets, and even a wooden canoe someone had made.  We didn't bid on anything or stay to see who won, but it was quite the production.

As far as deserts go, I was able to try a bit of my red velvet cake, but they didn't put out the pineapple upside down cake until after we'd left.  The red velvet cake was good, but it definitely tasted like it had been made two days ago (which it had... I didn't have much choice about that).  I've already promised D that I'll make another for his birthday in June, though, and judging from the comments about the pineapple upside down cake, I'm going to have to make that one again as well.  I didn't try anything else because I just wasn't in a sweets mood, but D tried a few other desserts and said they were all tasty.

Otherwise not too much else is going on.  Work has been very quiet lately... too quiet.  I'm actually starting to crank through some projects that have been lingering in the queue rather than just dealing with things as they are thrown at me.  I think I overheard that the big bosses have something going on this Friday which has kept them occupied.  We have a staff meeting this morning so maybe we'll find out about it then.

Well, I'm off to crank through another tempo run.  I can't believe it's 48 degrees out already and it's supposed to get up to 80 again today.  Hope you all have a great Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Let them eat cake

Tonight is Reach Feast (no good link, sorry) at our church, a dessert buffet and silent auction that benefits the church's international missions projects (mainly clean water and village development in Honduras, water and church support in Romania, and medical and AIDS relief in Kenya).  Because we have no $$$ to participate in the silent auction- one of the prizes is- no joke- dinner with one of the players on the Miracle on Ice hockey team and his wife, I did my part by baking a ton of desserts.

There are many great cookbooks and websites devoted to desserts, but you know who else knows how to make a mean cake?  Church ladies.  I used the cookbook from D's church from back when he was growing up in TN, and I can tell you from a few taste tests that the church ladies did not let us down.

Cake in pictures: 
Pineapple upside down cake

Red velvet cake

And what should you do with leftover icing?

Make brownies to go with it!

Fear not, all the deserts are still intact and ready for sampling tonight.

We had a healthy dinner brought to us by D and his mad cornstarch skillz.

Now all of the baked goods have to make it in the car with me to the church to be dropped off (and hopefully not dropped) this morning.

I had a good run yesterday am and am headed to the dungeon gym to lift at 6am so I can get back, shower, get to the church when it opens, and get to work in a timely manner.

Hope you all have a great Tuesday!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Cutting the cord

Surprisingly I got most everything checked off my "to do" list yesterday.  Two cakes are made (pictures to come tomorrow), piano was practiced, yoga was done, and church, youth group, and a youth group meeting were all attended.  And one phone call was made... I turned off our cable.

This probably sounds silly to all the non-TV watchers out there, but we'd actually been going back and forth about this for awhile.  However, after a week without it while our TV was being fixed, we decided that we could still watch anything we really wanted with Hulu and through the wonderful world of DATN, the university internet TV service.  We hooked up an old laptop to the TV and can watch all the networks (very important during college football season), a few cable selections such as CNN (very important during winter treadmill runs), the Weather Channel, and BET(!?), and about a dozen channels for internationals living in the US.  The Japaneese channel and TV Asia (the Indian channel) look most promising so far, although we haven't checked out all three Russian channels or some of the other European channels yet.

Well, I better get going.  My run 8 mi with 3 hill repeats won't get done without me.  Hope you all have a great Monday!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Week in Review- Going to Seattle Edition

Friday at work I found out that my abstract (and the abstracts of two coworkers who submitted them) were accepted for posters at the Society for Epidemiologic Research conference in Seattle this year.  Now I can take the (hopefully) because it is firmly in list of things I'm looking forward to.  Not only am I interested in the material presented at the conference, I'm excited that we will be near the touristy area and able to sneak in a trip to the Space Needle and Pikes Place Market in the after-conference house.

Now to the running week in review:
U- 5mi easy.  Not sure how long it took because I didn't bring my GPS.  Yoga
M- 7mi with 4x 3min hard, 2 min easy.  Didn't do my best job pushing myself through the intervals, but I'll have a chance to make up for it this week.
T- Strength training.  Yoga
W- 7mi progressive tempo.  Much better than last week.  I hit or was faster than all my prescribed paces.
R- 5mi easy.  Didn't take my watch again.
F- 12.5 mi long run in 1:58:30.  It took me a long time to feel warmed up during this run.  I was off pace by about 30 sec/mile compared to my normal long run pace, but I chalked it up to it being cold and early.  It was still in the long run pace range according the the McMillan running calculator.
S- Strength training.

Bringing the totals to:
Running: 36.5 mi
Strength training: 2x
Yoga: 2x

Not too much more to say about this week.  It had it's high points and low points, but it was a good training week all in all.  I'm still feeling healthy and motivated to run, which is good.

On the other hand, my schedule is still all out of whack.  I never got a nap yesterday, and we were eating dinner last night at 9pm.  I was back up at 5am to get in a run before church, and I have a TON of stuff to get done today: Church, meeting about our summer trip to Mississippi, bake two cakes for the desert fundraiser on Tuesday evening, and be back at 5pm for youth group.  Wish me luck!  Definitely no nap this afternoon.

Hope you all have a great Sunday.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Is what my brain feels like right now.  Unfortunately my body is not cooperating.  D and I both got up around 4am (the second day in a for for me) to get over to the church to help clean up after the lock in.  The kids had fun- I think.  They were pretty subdued by the time I got there.  Not even donuts got them excited.  The mess wasn't too bad and we were done by about 7:30am.

I took two kids home and D to work and I had just crawled back into bed when I got a text message.  Rewind for a minute... One of the kids from the lock in couldn't get inside when I took him home.  He tried to call someone to let him in using my phone, but the person didn't answer, so I took him to the friend's house.  Well, evidently he called his very concerned sister who became even more concerned when she got some phone calls from a mysterious number.  I found out later that her phone was almost out of batteries so she could send texts but not make calls.  Anyway... several text messages later she was convinced of her brother's safety, and all my thoughts of a morning nap were gone.  I feel like I've been up forever even though it's only 10:20.  I guess in a way I have.

I am very glad I did my long run yesterday rather than saving it for this morning because that's about the last thing I feel like doing right now.  It went pretty well other than being about 30 seconds/mile slower than I would have liked (and have been running the last few weeks).  It seemed like it took my body a lot longer to wake up than it normally does.  I chalk it up to a)It was cold (probably in the 20s), b)It was early (I was out the door at 5:30), and c)I hadn't had a rest day the day before like I normally do.  In any case, 9:30 min/mile is a perfectly appropriate pace for a long run for me according to the McMillan Running Calculator (with my goal half marathon pace plugged in) so I'm trying not to be unhappy with it.

Endurance WorkoutsPace/MilePace/K
Recovery Jogs10:12 to 10:426:20 to 6:39
Long Runs9:12 to 10:125:43 to 6:20
Easy Runs9:12 to 9:425:43 to 6:02

Last night we had dinner at Lao Laan-Xang, a Laotian/Southeast Asian restaurant on Madison's east side.

D had the khua nor mai, which was a garlicky chicken and vegetable dish, and I had a vegetarian peanut curry dish that I don't see on the online menu.  Both were served with white rice.  True to Midwestern form, D's dish, which he asked to be the "careful" level of spicy was totally bland (as far as spiciness was concerned), and mine, which I ordered "adventurous" had a nice mild spice to it.  Although it has super high ratings on Yelp, I was not blown away.  It was good.  It was different.  But it didn't leave me feeling like I couldn't wait to go back to try something else.  Maybe we will, and maybe we won't.

Otherwise not much else is going on.  I'm planning to head to the gym before lunch and do all the other normal around the house stuff.  Maybe I'll get in a nap later in the day.  Otherwise I'll sleep good tonight!  Have a great Saturday, all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Living up to my name

This is the first of two super early mornings I get to do this week.  Tomorrow I have to be at church at 5:30am to set out breakfast food and clean up after the youth group lock in.  Knowing that I am not going to feel like doing my long run after spending 3 hours cleaning pizza off the walls, I'm up early to do it this morning before work.  The goal is to be out the door and on my way by 5:30, which really isn't too bad.  It's the part where I have to get up at 4am to do all the quiet time/wake up activities I need to be ready to run.

I have 12.5 miles on the schedule which, with the .5 mile walk back up the hill to my apartment, takes about 2 hours.  If I jump in the shower, inhale some breakfast, and jump on the bus, I think I can definitely still be at work by 8:30.  We'll see.  Hopefully traffic won't be too bad on campus as I'm finishing up.

 Otherwise it's back to being chilly here.   It's 32 degrees right now (although Weather Channel says no wind, which is wonderful!).  I heated up some leftover Cincinnati chili (recipe in sidebar) for dinner last night.  No picture because we were both starving at dinner time and inhaled it immediately.

And that's all I've got.  The sooner I get out the door on this one, the better.  Enjoy your Friday.  Any fun plans for the weekend?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Knowing what I'm doing

Despite all the anxiety I felt going into it, yesterday's data meeting went really well.  I fielded a lot of questions about both talks, and I felt like I was able to answer everything clearly and completely.  No one even asked about the thing I was really nervous about!  

What really made my day, though, was when one of our post docs told me that she thought I'd done and was doing a great job, and that I seemed to have really gained a lot of confidence and knowledge in the last 6 months or so.  I'm not saying this to brag about myself, but to highlight the importance of complimenting your peers when they deserve it.  Usually I think about praise for actions coming down from above, but having it come from a peer (who definitely has no obligation to say anything) really meant a lot to me.  Now it's my turn to keep my eye out for someone who does something that deserves recognition, and I challenge you all to do the same.    

So yeah... we did have a little bit of this last night and this morning.

Just a light dusting on the cars and the ground, but we are back down into the 20s overnight.  Spring is tricky. Last weekend I was just sure it wasn't going to get cold again, and this morning I'm going to be digging my gloves and ear warmer out from under the bed while trying not to wake D.

I did have a good run yesterday.  I channeled all my angst about the data meeting and my desire to do well at the races I'd registered for into a progressive tempo.  The breakdown was 10 min at 8:50min/mile, 10 min at 8:16 min/mile, 10 min at 8:02 min/mile, and 5 min at 7:48 min/mile.  Much better than last week!

Training side note- Lacey asked what the rest intervals I use for my 4x3 min fast were: I do 2 minutes easy in between.

And last, we had a Cooking Light favorite last night, lamb and chickpea tagine (see recipe in sidebar).

Actually, that looks kind of scary.  I really need to work on my food photography!  And yes, that is 2-Buck Chuck Pinot Grigio served out of a regular glass.  Kind of appropriate, I think.

Have a great Thursday, all.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010