10 days out.

This is going to be a short post, because I have to scoot off to start dinner – which will be pumpkin soup, because dang it got cold quick. I guess having a cold front plus the western edge of a superstorm will do that to you. Sandy mostly left us here in central VA alone; we got steady rain and winds for most of yesterday and last night, and less so today, so I’m grateful that the two gallons of water I bought just in case will have to be used at a later time. My thoughts do go out to the people in NY and NJ, though, who were not so lucky. (I’ve had to stop looking at pictures of the damage; they’ve started making me quite sad.)

Okay then!

1) 10 days out from the marathon: yes, it’s taper time. I’ve been incredibly busy with school work, so I’m not going as crazy as I could be, which may or may not be a bad thing. I’ve only spent a couple of hours reading race recaps from years prior, instead of ten or twelve hours, like I thought I might be. However, check back with me in a week, and I might report that I am, in fact, climbing my walls.

2) I had my last long run this past Saturday. I know I’m a sick person when I casually tell someone, “oh, I only ran 12 this morning”. I feel like an asshole saying it, but I guess I’ve gotten to the point in my running when a 10-miler is now something to train faster for, and not just to finish. One year ago, I would not have seen that coming. Pursuant to that, my now-very-short-runs of 3 and 4 miles are more annoying than anything, since I get going and then have to stop, but I know I’ll remember that thought and laugh somewhere around mile 22, if my brain is still engaged at all by then.

3) One possible way for me to avoid climbing my walls next week is riding my bike. Still unnamed, she is, though for some reason I can’t get the name Matilda out of my head; we went on a long ride out in the country on Sunday, with a group of people I didn’t know save for one person (the kind soul who sold me my bike, who invited me to this ride). Normally that would be a situation that induces extreme anxiety in me, to the point where I’ll often just come up with some lame excuse and bail, but I sucked it up and went, and had a total blast spending seven hours rolling around foliage-covered apple orchards and horse farms and mountains with 30 like-minded souls. We stopped often, and for long periods of time; lunch was an absurd affair, with at least four bottles of wine, three cheese boards, two pies, and several six-packs of PBR and gallons of apple cider. These people know how to throw down, I tell you. They ride again in May, which I’m very much looking forward to.

4) The Virginia Film Festival is this weekend, which is something I always enjoy. I’ll let you know if anything truly awesome is shown that everyone should go see, like, now.

5) Cold-weather running. For some reason – mostly because I could, I think, having been stuck in the house for most of the past 2-ish days after officials said “DO NOT GO ANYWHERE” and I was happy to comply – I decided it was sane and normal to run outside in 40-degree weather this morning. In shorts and a long-sleeve shirt (and gloves – oh, I bought these fantastic waterproof lightweight gloves and boy, have they already come in handy! Ba-dum chhhh), when the other 10 people who were also crazy enough to be running outside were wearing pants and jackets. I kept telling myself it was because I need to start acclimating to colder temperatures, which is true, but when I couldn’t feel my knees for the first 2 miles I started wondering what was wrong with me. But, it was a great run; there was a spring in my step the entire time, and I felt strong and light, even though it was, um, really cold and oh, there was a nice 10mph headwind for most of the way.

6) Yep, 10 days. Shit’s gettin’ real. Which reminds me – I go to see my butt doctor tomorrow, which is good because we have some talking to do. Nothing horrible, but I’m not where I’d like to be in terms of feeling 100% digestively healthy, and by God I’ve waited three months for this appointment so we are going to have a nice chat.

But yeah. 10 days. That is all.

So very far behind!

Ugh, this week has really thrown me for a loop. I’m still getting over the sinus infection that I had last week, though (fingers crossed) I do really think it’s on its way out for good at the moment. I’d said in my last post that I wouldn’t run if the infection made its way down into my lungs, but, um, I lied about that. Oops. (I was feeling a little wheezy on last Saturday’s long run, and by Monday, I was coughing up greenish goo. [Sorry.])

See… running last week actually helped me feel a lot better, and helped clear goo out of my sinuses pretty well. Running also helps me relieve stress, because when I’m stressed out I run harder, because it’s like I’m physically beating the stress out of me one footfall at a time. Monday night triggered a serious case of “holy crap, everything is coming down on me at once”, which meant that on Tuesday, even though I was feeling even more wheezy and goo-coughingly-crappy, I went out for my usual Tuesday run anyway. And it felt really, really GOOD. I then tried to set a new land speed record for making it through my weights routine, which is why I was still sore when I woke up this morning, but the end result was that I went into Tuesday afternoon feeling physically much better, and, for a couple of hours, mentally much better as well. I had my actual serious freakout Tuesday evening, and strongly thought about going for another run just to get it out of my system, but I decided against this and went home and had strong, hoppy beer (Terrapin Hopzilla, which clocks in at 10.3% and is amazing) for dinner. (And vegetables for dessert.) That actually made me feel much better, and I calmed down a whole lot.

Wednesday I was still feeling a little mentally out of sorts and sleep-deprived, so I decided to make my 5-mile run a fast one. I thought I was going to die by the end, but again, it felt amazing. I’m afraid this means that I might only be compelled to run faster when I’m angry or stressed out, which is a bad way to live your life, but I was noticeably more relaxed today and ran my usual Thursday run at a much more reasonable pace – not long-run pace, but closer to my actual race pace (Tuesday and Wednesday were both run well below race pace). The sun was out for once, and there was a nice cool breeze, so it felt more like fall than spring, and that made me perk up a little. As far as green goo goes, none of it is any color any longer, and I feel like it’s more or less gone from my lungs and only marginally residing elsewhere. I got better sleep last night, and I hope to again tonight, so with any luck this crap will actually really be gone by Saturday’s 11.5-mile jaunt.

Anyway, so, lesson learned this week: Stressing out is good for my running, but bad for the rest of me. Hmmm.

Not at all speaking of stress, my friend Jill and I are signing up for a Color Run in Richmond in July, which will be awesome, I think. (Check it out here: http://thecolorrun.com/richmond/) We’re putting together a team so we can have an excuse to make shirts (not like she and I really need an excuse, but, you know) – hooray! I’m excited. I also really like having a race to look forward to, which in these days of sort of aimless running is a very nice thing.

Okay, enough about running. FOOD. The farmers’ market – you know, I think I’ll take pictures this weekend – continues to supply me with amazing spinach and strawberries for salads, which, man, I am going to hate having to go back to bagged spinach over the winter. It’s just so much better when it’s fresh and local. I’ve got half a mind to buy a rhubarb pie from my favorite baker on Saturday, just because I’ve been seeing rhubarb recipes pop up all over the place and while I’m terrified of cooking with it, I’d still like to eat it before it goes out of season. Yum. I love the farmers’ market.

I made a lime cheesecake last weekend, with my own blackberry sauce, and it turned out fantastically. I have an entire half of a box of graham crackers left (they’re what I used for the crust), and I am trying really really hard not to just make another one, like, now and eat the whole thing by myself. (I brought that one to a party, so it’s possible people were just drunk and only thought it tasted good, but I sampled it and couldn’t believe I’d actually made something that good.) Here’s another lesson learned this week: zesting and juicing limes is a total pain in the ass, but so 200% worth it.

Okay, sort of food but not really: supplements. Saturday I’m going to try out Clif Shot Bloks (chewy energy gels) for the first time. I bought two flavors – cran-razz and black cherry with caffeine – so I’ll see which of them I like, if any, and whether or not they treat me well. I might also try a cup of coffee before my long run on Saturday, because I had (oops) three cups before my stupid-fast run on Tuesday, and I’m wondering if maybe that might not help perk me up a little before I head out for a couple of hours. (And yes, I will remember to use the bathroom this time.)

And finally, medicine: I’m now only taking medicine every third day, instead of every other day, and the hope is that I can pare it down to once a week and then eventually off it entirely (it’s a steroid, remember, in foam form, and they’re not intended for long-term use) and remain symptom-free. So far so good, except for a few hiccups around that time of the month, but by and large my insides have been treating me well. I did learn that bison meat in the form of a burger is overwhelmingly okay for me to eat, which is great because most ground meat in burger form causes big trouble. If only bison meat wasn’t so damned expensive… Ah well. Not the sort of thing I should be eating all that often anyway.

Okay, so that’s that! I owe my friend Sam a shout-out, which I’ll give him in my next post, because he was awesome and did an awesome thing for me that made me all warm and fuzzy inside. (Or was that the beer….?) Read on to read all about it!

Things I did this weekend:

1) Attended an absolutely awesome unconference right here in my hometown. Ever heard of THATCamp? No? If you’re an academic type, you should check it out. If you’re not an academic type, you doubly should check it out. My brain is still buzzing from everything that got stuffed into it and knocked around on Friday and Saturday, which is a cool feeling. (Site here: http://thatcamp.org/)

2) Ran a 5k after entirely too much coffee and thought I was going to barf at the end, because I decided it would be a good idea to go out with the leaders. I was the only girl out there for about a half-mile, and then some other girl caught up with me and passed me. And then I decided I was not going to let her get away with that, and I chased her. And caught her, and chatted with her, and then felt a little bad about dusting her in the last 0.2 miles as we sprinted to the finish. I was the first lady finisher, and fourth overall, in 27:44, which is a new PR for me. (That’s an 8:43/mile pace. Um, I don’t do that.) I’ll not mention the total number of runners in the race (hint: it was under 20), but still, it counts, right?

3) Hit up the farmers’ market and totally got sucked in by the brightly voluptuous strawberries that have apparently just started coming in. I’m surprised that the bunch I bought has lasted the weekend. I also bought a baby basil plant, named Oliver, and snipped his leaves off to make pesto for Saturday’s dinner with saint of a boyfriend (we made pesto chicken farfalle, which was simple, but delicious). Because I kill things when I try to put them in the ground, he took Oliver back to his house with him to plant with the other basil plants in the garden there, to see if we could salvage what was left. (Oliver is really quite cute for a plant. I felt bad killing him after only one day.) We’ll see how that goes.

4) Spent a rainy Sunday yesterday relaxing at home with the boy and some beers, watching hockey and a couple of marathons of bad reality TV as we whiled away the day. I now have a mini-fridge in my bedroom, which has just enough room for a six-pack of beer and my water bottle. This could be a very dangerous thing indeed. In other news, football season is going to be awesome come September, because now I don’t even have to leave my room to go get more beer during games.

5) This is part of 1), but it’s awesome enough that it merits its own number: I learned how to make a balloon-camera for DIY aerial photography. I think I know how my free time over the summer will be spent. 🙂

And you? What fun things did you get up to?

So, what’s next?

That is the question indeed… and I think I’ve got the answer, after a couple of days of good thought about it.

1) No running until at least this weekend. I built this into my schedule on purpose; it’s rather convenient that I’m going out of town on Wednesday night and am thus missing two days of work, which means I need to squeeze five days of work into three. That means doubling up on hours in some places, and rearranging in other places, which left me with approximately zero free time that could have been used to run. I’m doing this because I know my body needs the week to recover, even though it’s driving my brain crazy because it’s convinced me that I’m going to lose all of my running ability in seven days if I don’t do something. I know this is not true, but it’s annoying to have to quiet that voice.

2) My marathon training starts on July 9, which means that if I wanted to run another half marathon, I’d pretty much have to start training for it right away after my week of rest. While that sort of sounds like fun – and I know I mentioned in a prior post that I’d been considering finding another half to run this summer – I felt like I missed out on a lot of other activities while training (such as biking, hiking, playing other sports) for fear of overtraining or injuring myself. I want to do some of those things again, and I feel like I might get burned out if I make running my primary focus for another three months and then *another* four months on top of that. So, I’m going to run when the spirit moves me, which will probably be a few times a week, but I’m also going to do other stuff (and continue to lift weights because that’s never not good for y0u!).

2a) Part of my marathon training includes a half-marathon in week 9, which is the middle of September. How tickled pink was I to discover that there’s a half being run that very weekend down in the part of North Carolina where my mom and sisters live? I already emailed my mom: “Guess who’s coming for a visit in September!” I’m so excited for them to be able to come see me without having to travel too far (I’ve got them coming to see me in Richmond for the full, but that involves way more travel for them, so it’s nice for this one to be closer for them). Sometimes, the universe just aligns just so 🙂

3) “Other stuff” also includes yoga, which I’m currently exploring options for – there is a bewildering amount of yoga instruction offered in my town, as I’d alluded to previously, but I think I’ve narrowed it down to Bikram (the “hot” yoga, which, I know I said I didn’t want to do, but I’m willing to try anything once or five times if it’s within reason) or vinyasa. I’ll try both, and see which I like, and incorporate it into my week as needed.

4) MORE COOKING. Sweet Jeebus. I feel like I’ve barely had time to cook in the last few months, save some piecemeal nights here and there. I have to re-calibrate my diet anyway, since I was eating so much more – and so many more carbs – over the last few months. I’m going to start out by swapping some of those carbs gotten from grains and cereals for the ones gotten from veggies, and try out some of the protein drinks that were suggested to me here last month. I anticipate my stomach being pretty pissed at having to eat less, but I figure that with a reduced activity level, it shouldn’t be too bad… right? (I’ve found that green tea helps curb hunger pangs a lot, so I’m definitely going to continue to drink that as necessary.)

The great thing about this is that spring veggies are coming in, and our city market just opened back up, which means I can cook with fresh local stuff, which is always better than the alternative from the grocery store. I made a salad the other day with the spinach I’d bought from the market that had been picked that same morning, and it was astoundingly tasty – and made me never want to go back to bagged spinach ever again. I bought some kale there, too, and made kale chips, which HELLO why didn’t anyone tell me they had crack in them? They were so freaking good. Oh man oh man. Plus, I discovered last night that asparagus might be my new best friend: I burned the ever-loving crap out of it while pan-searing it (note to self: remember which skillets have faster cooking times than others), and it still tasted amazing. So, yes, I have more time for cooking to look forward to, and if these fresh-from-someone’s-garden veggies keep being in abundant supply, I’ve got good cooking to look forward to.

5) Maybe writing about things other than running. I know, I know – anathema! But it would feel nice to write about silly stuff sometimes, too, and I’m sure y’all would like to read about other stuff sometimes, too.

That said, I’m still so totally riding the high from the half-marathon this past Saturday. I’m glowing, inside and out. What a cool thing. 🙂

(Fun fact: I made it onto the results page! Granted, they gave results for the top 50 people in my age group and I was #49, out of only 75, but still – what a thrill it was to actually see my name on a results page. Cloud nine, indeed!)

YUM

As I threatened yesterday, I made colcannon for dinner tonight in honor of St Patrick’s Day. Basically, it’s a dish made of mashed potatoes with cabbage mixed in; I prefer sweet potatoes, and like kale much better, so this is how I got the following. Boom goes the kale-cannon!

nom nom nom.

It’s a little blurry; sorry, but I was in a hurry to eat it. Oh my gawd it was so good. I anticipate making this again and again, because it was super-easy and super-filling and super-SUPER-delicious. YUM.

I modified this recipe: http://www.theveganchickpea.com/2012/03/sweet-potato-colcannon.html

Basically, I left out the cast-iron-pan step and used a regular skillet, only using olive oil, salt, and a dash of pepper – I didn’t have shallots, and my garlic seems to have gone bad, and our garlic powder is gone, oops. But it was insanely good just the same. I intended for there to be leftovers; there aren’t. 🙂

In basketball news, my team lost today, pretty badly, which was sad. But another school from Virginia pulled a major upset over the team we would have had to play had we won, which makes me wish even more that we’d won – what fun that would have been to watch! Ah well. I’m somehow still tied for first in my bracket’s group, so I’ll take it where I can get it.

OK, almost time to fall asleep to more basketball… early to bed, early to rise, early to run. So pumped for tomorrow. Boom goes the run-cannon!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

0.5) I got a lovely birthday card from my dear friend Suz, who I know reads this and (I hope) will see this here. Thank you! I will use what was inside when doing what I talk about in #3 below… 🙂

1) The weather has turned for the rather quite extremely unseasonably warm. While this kills any shred of productivity I have, I confess that I’m enjoying it – not that we had a cold winter by any means, but it’s nice to have some too-warm weather for a little while before it cools down and then gets warm again. Running outside this week has been a pure joy, though I have to be careful to hydrate adequately. I had the killer headache from Hades on Wednesday after my 5-ish miler (I got lost and had to make a few extra loops to re-calibrate myself), and I suspect that lack of water or food was the culprit.

1a) It’s been a good running week. Not really increasing mileage, but breaking in the shoes even more, and feeling comfortable and pain-free. Plus, running outside, which is such a huge mood-booster! Flowers and birds and breezes (which a week ago I was cursing for being too cold, haha) and sun. YAY.

2) Not at all speaking of lack of productivity, it’s March Madness and I love every second of it. I have to wonder why this darned thing always coincides with my schoolwork increasing, but it does force me to use my time more wisely, which is how I end up flipping between games while “preparing” comments for conference papers. Happily, my team got scheduled to play tomorrow afternoon when I have some free time, so I’ll at least be able to watch them once.

3) Because I’m of Irish heritage, Saturday is a perfectly good excuse for me to engage in stereotypically stupid behavior on a completely commercialized “holiday” that I’m pretty sure isn’t even celebrated in its country of origin. Since I can’t indulge in corned beef and cabbage (tummy issues, which have been plaguing me all week anyway since I forgot what I was doing and ate a rare steak on Sunday night that within 15 minutes I realized was a huge mistake, which sucks because it was so good and I love rare steak and it stinks to have to give it up! *breathe), I’ll be trying my hand at making colcannon for dinner tomorrow night. It’s a dish based on kale and potatoes sort of mashed together, but I plan to try it with sweet potatoes. Mmmm. And then I’ll be hitting the hay nice and early, so I can get up at 3:30 Saturday morning to get ready to do my long run at 5:30. Yes, that’s A.M. And yes, I fully realize that this means that I’m knee-deep in crazy, because this was my line of thought when it came to my long run this weekend: I have to be at our grad student conference at 9:30am Saturday. I know I’m going out to lunch afterwards, and – oh, crap, Saturday is St Patrick’s Day! …that means there’s no way I’m going to be in any sort of shape to run 10+ miles on Sunday, because BY GOD IT IS MY RIGHT (thank you, O’Dowd ancestors from County Sligo) TO GO OUT AND HAVE MANY DRINKS on Saturday night. Hmmm. Well, I guess I could get up at… um… what time? to run Saturday morning? Oh my Gawd, you’re kidding. Sigh. But my running buddy is actually willing to run with me at that time, which is awesome because it will be dark before we finish and I don’t want to go alone in case I get lost and accidentally do, say, 12 miles instead of 10ish.

*ahem* But I digress. Have a delightful weekend!

AAAHHHH!

I feel absolutely electric right now; I just got back from an incredibly engaging and stimulating talk on something completely not related to my academic field, and it’s set my mind abuzz. (If you just saw my feed-explosion on Twitter, sorry.) So many thoughts! So much awesomeness! I’ll calm down eventually, but it’s been that sort of day where I’ve just bam-bam-bam! knocked stuff off my to-do list, and it feels pretty good – a 200% turnaround from the way I felt at the beginning of this week.

Another reason I’m so excited is because I bought some new running clothes this morning (eeeee) and I can NOT wait to try them out (eeee!). A local running shop was having a 30%-off sale on shorts, so I went in to see what I could find. I picked up these:

And yes, the color scheme is absolutely intentional (*ahem* WAHOOWA).

But then my eye wandered over to the evil, evil sale rack of long-sleeve shirts, of which I only have one, so of course my thought was, Hmmm. I should get another one… and they’re 30% off too! [Note: I at least had the self-restraint to not even let myself LOOK at the wall of shoes on sale directly behind the shorts. Be proud of me. It was HARD.] Which is how I ended up with this:

Yes, those are fuchsia stripes. No, I do not care about this. I am getting up much earlier than I should tomorrow ON PURPOSE so that I can justify running in that shirt because I am that excited to try it out. (The shorts can wait until I go on a shorter run to get their first test, since I feel like it’s less disastrous to have a 3-mile run go poorly than it might be to have an 8-mile run go poorly.)

…Oh my gawd, I’m turning into that person. Sorry for the insufferability, everyone. 🙂

Anyway, uh, so other physical stuff: today’s my rest day, which might explain some of this ridiculous pent-up energy. I need it, though, since my entirety is delightfully sore from the week’s running and weight-lifting – I could hardly lift my arms above my head last night, which is a feeling I love because it means I’ve pushed myself. I’m excited to try out a new recipe tonight that looks simple, but delicious:

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/recipes/2012/02/15/chickpea-pasta/

(Mine won’t look as pretty as the one pictured there, mostly because I plan to omit the tomato. And add some chicken. And use a different pasta shape…)

And, it’s supposed to SNOW this weekend. This puts a small wrinkle in my cross-training plans for Sunday, since I was going to get lost somewhere on my bike, but I suppose that given the safety of my tires it’s not really a big deal if I head out early enough (before accumulation begins) and am careful (which I always am. Hi Mom!). And I have plans to do research! Of the fun kind (ie not for school)! AAAHHHH!

I guess I haven’t calmed down yet, exactly, have I? My brain is stimulated, my body is stimulated, and in a few hours I hope my belly will be stimulated. My soul feels stimulated, too, oddly enough… or, perhaps, not oddly at all. 🙂

Have a good weekend, everyone!