Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Resolution Post

After a long drive down from Madison, we are enjoying Chirstmas Part 1 in Tennessee.  While it's much warmer than where we left, I decided to take a break from running this morning to bring you The 2011 Resolution Post.  Rather than having 10 kind of nebulous goals like last year, I've tried to break it down into 5 concrete things that I really want to do(not feel like I have to or should do) that cover three broad areas- healthy eating, fitness, and my social life.

Now that's some scary kale.
1. Try one new vegetable or way to prepare vegetables per week.  I tried kale (a vegetable I was particularly terrified of) at a party last week (I get invited to some crazy parties), and it was actually pretty good.  Part of this plan is to subscribe to a CSA box from a very local (about 1/2 mile from our apartment) farm. 

2. Have one social dinner every month.  It can be a potluck with our church lifegroup, meeting people for dinner at a restaurant, or making something at our place.  As long as it's food + social + dinner time, it counts.

3. Write one blog post a day every day I am home.  I enjoy writing and I have a feeling that coming up with good blogging ideas and writing witty prose is more a matter of practice than anything else.  We don't travel with a computer so I'm off the hook when we are gone.

4. Up the intensity of my interval training.  I got a big boost in speed when I started doing speekwork at all, but it's time to push myself harder if I want to see results.  I like the FIRST plan for outdoor training, but I haven't been able to translate it to the treadmill.  Instead I've brought out my copy of Training Plans for Multisport Athletes, that has two sets of training plans specificially for speedwork on the treadmill.  Even though I don't ever plan to do a triathlon, this book is worth having just for those treadmill workouts.  Once the weather improves I'll be back out on the road FIRSTing again.

5.  Connect with one person I don't talk to regularly each week.  It could be anything from calling my grandparents or commenting on something on Facebook.  Just reach out and touch someone.

And that's it!  Not sure how much I'll be posting, but I hope to do some reading and commenting at least every few days.  I look forward to reading about your resolutions and exciting plans for the new year.  Stay warm out there!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Paleo Recap

Yesterday, or today, or something like that ends my 1 month paleo diet "trial."  I put trial in quotation marks because I didn't stick to the diet (no grains, no legumes, no dairy) 100% strictly, but I'd say I hit it about 75-80% of the time.

First of all, I don't think that I can fairly evaluate any of the claims made about the diet because, as I said, I wasn't 100% compliant, and it seems like that's a must.  But here are what I'd consider my take-away points from the experiment:

  • I never had any GI problems after eating a paleo meal
  • I feel like I've gotten over the idea that I absolutely "have to" eat some sort of starchy carb with every meal.  For some people who run mega miles or who don't eat animal products, eating more starchy carbs is necessary, but for me- especially now that we are in winter hibernation mode- it would be better to replace them with non-starchy vegetables. 
  • I've expanded my vegetable horizons (a bit)
  • I realized that I can put a meat and vegetable meal together as quickly as any other kind
  • There are a lot of great paleo foods out there, and there's no reason to feel restricted or like you can't enjoy a good meal within those parameters
  • It is really hard to break the psychological "need" to have bread, cookies, etc. when they are served to a group.  However, most people don't actually care what you eat.  If you don't want something- for whatever reason- a simple "No thanks" will suffice.
In general, I really like the way I feel when I stick to the diet, and- like with healthy veganism- I think when you focus on what you can have, there are a wealth of healthy options out there.  However, the diet is not really supported by our social structure*.  So I've decided my goal is to make all of the food that I prepare myself be paleo compliant (again meaning lean meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and healthy fats), and then try to make good choices when I'm eating out and in social situations.  I think this is a fair compromise that will hopefully get my ratio of paleo to non to about 90% to 10%, respectively.  

And with that I'm headed out for my last treadmill run for awhile.  We will be on the road today and tomorrow, and the weather changes from snowy to nasty icy cold rain as we drive down south.  Any thoughts/prayers/good vibes you want to send our way while we travel are much appreciated.

If I don't post again before then, Merry Christmas to everyone! 

*But you can say that about any healthy way of eating.  For example, there are absolutely 100% no healthy snacks to be purchased in my building, but there are a lot of unhealthy ones (by any standard).   

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Less than 24 hours

Until we hit the road for TN!  I need to pack, clean the kitchen (thank you, Christmas potluck, for taking care of dinner tonight), and do a little wrapping but otherwise we are ready to go.  Even though there was a rush last weekend, it's nice to have everything finished so we can just relax and enjoy the rest of the advent season and Christmas day without having to brave the mall, etc.  Unless we want to go people-watch of course.

I blame it on low vitamin D levels, but I haven't been super motivated to run lately.  I did a slow, cold 8.5mi yesterday outside, and today is a rest day unless I get a surprise boost of time and energy between now and 2:30 when I have to leave to get D from work to go to our final Madison Christmas event.  I'm planning to do a shorter run and weights tomorrow before we head out of town so I'm nice and worn out for the car ride. Hopefully we'll find a place to stop that has a fitness center because I'm still on my quest to hit 1800mi for the year.  Right now I'm at 1748.5 so it's just a little more than 25mi/week for the next two weeks.  Totally do-able (I keep telling myself).

Now on to the rest of the New Year's Resolutions.  This is the C+ group- the ones I either forgot or decided I didn't care that much about.

4. Be more social - I'm pretty much as social now as I think I ever will or want to be.  How much more fun can you get than this:

Ugly sweater party 2020.
Yes, the hat and gloves have owls on them!!!
Yes, Daniel's beard makes him look like a hearty sturgeon fisherman.
5. Take more pictures - This has improved since I got my new camera for my birthday, but I'm still not a picture-holic, capturing gems like this one:

Yes, this is Madison.  Yes, this was taken by a co-worker early last week.
 6. Stay in touch - I hate to say this was such an epic fail, but it was.  It just cries out for something more specific like reach out to one person I don't talk to regularly each week.

7. Music - Wait!  This one wasn't a fail!  Not sure how I missed it last time.  While practicing has fallen by the wayside a little bit this last week, I've taken piano lessons all year, and I've really enjoyed having music back in my life.  Also, Daniel and I have started going to a shape note singing group every other Sunday, which will *hopefully* help me improve my singing from "horrendous" to "doesn't scare many pets".

8. Waste less time - Ummmmm... here I am on the computer while I should be packing and scrubbing. Again, too vague.

9. Read real books - Nope.  Don't care.

10. Do a better job on the blog - This seems to go in phases, but I've been trying to come up with interesting and funny stuff to do.  It also largely depends on my exercise schedule, and how much computer downtime I have if I run outside vs go to the gym.

 So far I'm still in the brainstorming phase of Resolutions 2011 so that's coming up.  I'll probably post once more tomorrow and then I'll be on the computer a lot less because we'll be hanging out with family.  Happy Holidays to all!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Never wear a scarf...

While using a leaf blower.

Thanks, Linda.  That cracked me up yesterday.  I can see how that could turn out badly.

On the theme of learning lessons, it's time to start my resolution review.  The last time I wrote about this was way back in July, but the nice thing about having a blog is that you don't actually have to remember things, you can just search for and re-read them.  Today I'll start with the ones that have been most successful:

1. Put things away - I'm giving myself a B+ for this the whole year.  Not having a sink full of dirty (or clean for that matter) dishes or a pile of clothes on a chair goes a long way to making a home feel cleaner and more relaxing.  I haven't been perfect at it, but it's been enough of a reward in itself that I've been pretty motivated to take the 30 seconds to put things away rather than plop them down.  YAY!

2. Focus at work - Podcasts + work that doesn't take my full concentration = success!  Rather than being tempted to open my web browser when something takes a long time to run, a whole hour can go by without me feeling bored or frustrated.  And if I actually need to concentrate (like if I'm writing or trying to figure something out) I can just pause it.  It's the perfect balance of working and not working.

3. Push myself beyond my comfort zone -  I'd say this was also a success.  I tried new things- some worked and some didn't- but I think being more flexible has allowed me to learn a lot about myself and come to a place where I'm happier and more successful with my running and eating.  I love lifting two mornings a week.  I tried doing it after work, but that didn't fit as well so I stopped.  I do like doing yoga after work.  I enjoy doing speedwork, and I want to take that to the next level, but after this week I'm getting the feeling that will have to be modified somewhat for the winter.  I ran 10 races.  A few were great and some were not so great, but in the end I  PRed at every distance except the half marathon.  I think I'm best at the 10k.  I've experimented with a "non-traditional" diet for a runner (that gets it's own post).  All good stuff.

In a few minutes I'm headed back to the gym for another treadmill run.  It's actually not that cold out (it's 3 degrees), but there are still a lot of sidewalk glaciers out there.  Tomorrow, though, I can run when it's light out and I have no excuses!  Plus when I was doing my running log a few weeks ago I realized that if I stay motivated I can hit 1800 miles for the year.  Right now I'm at 1733.  With two+ more weeks to go in 2010, it's totally do-able.

One last day of work (where podcasts will definitely be needed) before the break.  First order of business: Ugly Sweater Party tonight.  We don't have our sweaters yet, but pictures will follow.  Have a great Friday, all.  Stay warm out there!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Whole Truth

You know it's winter when you walk out of work and it's 15 degrees and you think there's a heat wave going on.  We are supposed to get up to 25!!!! today, and there's a 30% chance of snow, which I'm hoping will mean the plows and de-icer will come back out and we can get some of this residual gunk off the street.  We have some cold overnight temps predicted into the weekend, but I'm crossing my fingers for an outdoor run Friday or Saturday (or both!).  The gyms are closed all weekend for graduation, so that may be the little extra kick I need to get outdoors.

I'm joining in on The Whole Truth fun started on Lacey's blog that she picked up from Mark Bittman.

If I could say something to my self 20 years ago:  Computers will be able to do more than play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.

My favorite place in the world: A hot shower.

The lesson I keep learning over and over:  Never cook or pee while wearing a scarf.  No, not really.  That only takes you once :).  How about: Always put your keys in the same place when you get home.

The movie I watch when I want to laugh: Zoolander, This is Spinal Tap

The most scared I've ever been: Fortunately I can't think of a time where I've felt in true physical danger.  Once I thought I was going to be abducted by a slow moving car while I was running early in the morning, but it was actually just the paper man.  Probably the few times when a family member has had a health crisis.

No one knows I: Listen to the Ben Greenfield Triathlon podcast at work when I'm doing something boring because he brings on crazy guests.  

Unhealthiest thing I've ever passed off as dinner: Hands down, 100% the Wonderfluffernutter*

Personal Philosophy: Honor God. Enjoy life.  

I unwind by: Doing yoga, reading, playing the piano, watching stupid TV shows.

Proudest moment in my career: This isn't really a career thing, and it happened a long time ago, but I got one of 2 or 3 "superior" ratings from my judge at state solo and ensemble my senior year of high school.  It's kind of a dumb thing to hold on to, but I felt like it reflected the high point of the 10 years I spent playing the oboe.

What keeps me up at night: Not much.  I'm blessed to be a good sleeper.

I define downtime as: Time when I'm not checking my watch.

Coffee or Diet Mt. Dew**: Both!

Guiltiest pleasure: Do I have to feel guilty for it?  It's either food or long hot shower related.

My mom was right about: Loving people even when (and especially if) they don't deserve it.  

My mom was wrong about: Canned vegetables.  Ick!

The last time I lost my temper was: I don't know about actually losing my temper, but I can get very testy when it comes to driving and parking lot behavior.

My favorite moment of the day: Reading before I fall asleep.

I wish I had more time for: Calling old friends to catch up.

I always make time for: Running/working out.

I'm currently reading: The editor of this blog.  Um... a back issue of The Atlantic and 168 Hours: You have More Time Than You Think.

Home means: Laughing and playing cards.  

Feel free to join in!

*A peanut butter and marshmallow fluff sandwich on Wonderbread.
** Actually he said tea.  Mark Bittman would never drink anything as degenerate as a Diet Mt. Dew, but I wanted to be able to say "both" like everyone else.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Holy 11 Below!

Needless to say I ran on the treadmill Monday morning and am coming back for more today.  11 below air temperature.  Ick.  Not only is it cold, but it's still hard to get around here.  The chemical de-icer they put on the roads doesn't work if it's below 15F, so crossing the road in our apartment complex to catch the bus is like walking through a giant dirt-flavored slushy.  How many days until I leave for the Southeast?*

The upside of being stuck at home all weekend is that I got a lot of Christmas stuff done.  

10lbs of fudge was made:

And wrapped to be give out:

Ornaments were finished:

And presents were wrapped:

I got 30+ Christmas cards in the mail and then 10 back in the mail yesterday because I didn't include enough postage.

I only have a few things left to do/wrap and then it's time to sit back and coast into the holidays.

Stay warm out there!

*And I don't want to hear any complaints about "how cold" it is down there.  30F is almost 40 degrees warmer than it is here.  If it were 30F here I'd go lay out in my bathing suit and try to raise my vitamin D levels, which are also probably hovering around -11.  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snowed in

As of 8am, we aren't going anywhere soon...

The bad weather we were supposed to be getting all day yesterday didn't arrive until about 5pm last night when we started getting really slushy snow.  We had tickets to see the Second City Christmas show last night, but after a trip to Borders at 6pm, we made the executive decision not to go.  It was disappointing because I'd been at home all day long, and the tickets weren't exactly cheap, but it was the right decision.  The roads were already slick at 6pm, and we were forecast for 9-12 inches overnight, so the driving conditions were only going to get worse.  We lost power for a little while around 9pm, which was kind of scary because no power = no heat = cold, but I think it came back on before midnight.

Being snowed in is kind of a funny thing.  I went to sleep at 9pm because the power went out and what else were we going to do, and I slept in until 7am because- again- what else was I going to do.  Yesterday, I did allll my Christmas cards, cleaned the house, watched 4 episodes of Glee, and finished making my ornaments (well, almost, I want to make one more to replace an ugly one), and today all I have on my agenda is to make our edible gift for co-workers/friends around here.  It's a forced time of rest and relaxation that's probably more "natural" from the standpoint of human history than our always on the go lifestyle.  I mean, without plows we'd be stuck inside for days or weeks (not that I want that!).

I did get in a slow but beautiful run yesterday morning.  It was warm-ish and not windy, and some tiny little snowflakes started to fall just as I was finishing up.  This week will probably involve a lot of inside running because it's going to get cold - like overnight lows with air temperature below 0.  Definitely outside run-able, but not fun.

I leave you with: How to get a tan in Wisconsin in December.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

A few of my favorite things

Warmer weather is on the way. Yay!  We are getting snow this evening/tomorrow morning which means the temps are ticking back up to the upper 20s instead of the near-0 overnight lows and highs in the teens that we've been having.  Even today is a little warmer.  Right now it's 16, feels like 9.

Monday I hit the indoor track to do 800m repeats.  It was cold and windy outside, and there were still some snow/ice blobs on the sidewalk that I didn't want to hit at full tilt.  My goal was to run each 800 in 3:26, which was very ambitious (based on prescribed paces from the Runner's World FIRST 10k training plan).  I never hit a 3:26 (3:29 was the closest I got), and all the rest of the repeats were in the 3:30's, but I feel like I really pushed myself, and that's what matters.  My times were on the fast end of what McMillan recommends for 800s based on my last 10k time, so I'm happy with that.

Wednesday was kind of a running fail.  It was probably below 0 with the wind chill, and I didn't get my Toasti Toes situated correctly, and my toes (especially my left big toe) got super cold.  I was aiming for 2x2mi at 7:41 min/mile pace, and I only almost hit that for one of the miles.  The rest were way slower.  I attribute this to allowing myself to be distracted by the weather and by my toes and by being sore from lifting the day before.  The second one can be fixed by a better sock and Toasti Toes set up, but I need to get it in my head that it's going to be cold for the rest of the winter, and I can't let that be an excuse.  Luckily, as I said before, it's warming up this weekend, so hopefully that will make for more enjoyable runs.        

On the subject of winter running, inspired by Sarah, who was inspired by Lauren, who was inspired by Oprah, here's a list of my current Winter Running Favorite Things.  I'd say I'd love to give them to all of you, but actually I'd rather have you live in a place that you don't need them.

1. Hot Hands and Toasti Toes.  Indispensable for running when it's below 10.

2. Sugoi fleece-lined tights.  My legs have never been cold wearing these babies.

3. A reflective vest.  It's important that you can be seen from space while running in the dark.  If aliens are trying to land, you want them to hit you.
4. A headlamp.  Take a lesson from The Titanic.  Watch out for ice.

Stay warm out there!  I for one am headed to the gym this morning and crossing my fingers for an upper-20's long run tomorrow.  It'll be balmy.  

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Let it snow!

It's here....

I actually went for a run* outside this morning.  The plows are out, but conditions are still not good for driving.  For the most part the sidewalks were covered with about 4 inches of snow.  I stuck to the path around the lake rather than trying to deal with roads.  I almost could have worn my snow shoes except that I did have to cross a few places where the snow had been cleared, and, while grippers don't like concrete, snow shoes really don't like concrete.  Running 6mi in the snow is a silly thing to do, but it was kind of fun since I wasn't worried about time or speed.  Plus it was the warmest run I've done in a long time.

We probably need to go out to the grocery store today, but otherwise we'll be hanging out at home.  Perfect weather for putting on the Christmas music and writing a Christmas letter.  Enjoy your Saturday, warm or cold.  Good luck to everyone racing tomorrow!

*More like off-road winter excursion.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I think I only did one of my workouts on the day it was planned this week, and that was strength training on Tuesday.  I had to do my tempo run on Monday because my GPS batteries died, strength on Tuesday, then I did my interval run on Wednesday when it was really cold and windy rather than waiting until Thursday because I kind of wanted to get it over with, then Thursday I overslept but had time to get everything together to go to the gym so I did that, and now it's supposed to snow a lot tonight/Saturday morning so I got up early and did my long run today.  All I have to do tomorrow is wake up whenever I want and run however long I feel like (but probably with the grippers- see right). 

I was a little disappointed with the way the two runs I got times for went.  I was slow on all my intervals on Wednesday, and although I started out strong this morning, my paces slipped to around 8:20 toward the end of the run.  I'll give myself credit because part of it was that it was cold and early and windy (at least on Wednesday), but part of it is that I sometimes let my mind wander when I do speedwork, and it makes me slow down.  Another part of the problem with these long tempo runs is figuring out how to pace myself.  I knew I needed to slow down a bit from how fast I went last week, but, as I feared, when I slowed down I did it by too much.  Hopefully figuring out the right pacing will get easier as I do more of these workouts.*

And... change topics.

In my last post I wrote that I was graciously invited by Sarah to join her stranded on a tropical isle.  Hopefully this one**

Now it is my turn to pass on the invitation to some others.  Karyn, Kerri, Jamie, Linda, J+A, Jessica and Daniel, will you join me?***

Here are your questions.  I'm going to answer them, too, because I feel like it.

1. What is something you learned as a child that you will never forget?  What's something that you need to remember now that you always forget?

I will always remember the opening chorus to the Thanksgiving play I was in in 4th grade.  I will never remember the units for blood elements and inflammatory markers.  You are glad I'm not your doctor.

2. What is your favorite Christmas/winter solstice song?  What is your least favorite Christmas/winter solstice song?

I enjoy all Christmas songs composed in a minor key.****  I tire of the rest very quickly. 

3. What is your favorite color?


4. Real Christmas tree or fake?

I love the smell of real, but it bothers all my nerd allergies.  That's why I buy stock in Zyrtec.

5. What is the most interesting wildlife you've seen while running or just out and about?

Coyotes, a roadrunner (both in NM), and the turkeys that live in our apartment complex (really)

6. What is something you'd love to be good at but have no talent for?

Singing or anything artistic or that requires spacial reasoning skills.

7. What is something interesting that happened the year you were born?

Thriller was released.

*And hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate so I can do more of these workouts without too much ice skating.

** The deal sounded all the better this morning as it was so cold my left eye started freezing shut while I was running.

***And anyone else, too.

****Oh yeah, and Pretty Paper sung by Willy Nelson.  That will always have a special place in my heart.