Thursday, May 31, 2012

Come into My Kitchen

This isn't the Runners Kitchen, but it is a runners kitchen, because I use it, and the Gentleman uses it, and we both run.

Every now and then when I am going through a period of lethargy that effects my running, hiking, and general energy levels, I accuse my iron levels.  I think this is usually a fair accusation, because it typically then only takes a week of taking a multi-vitamin with iron or other iron supplement (with painful side effects -- either nausea, stomach cramps, or the...um...poor performance of my usually excellent bowel system) until I feel like I am back on top of the world.

Because of these side effects for iron supplements, I try and get my iron from food.  I also try and get my deliciousness on with food.  For these two reasons, lets check out my kitchen and see what interesting finds I have enjoyed recently.

This is my kitchen.  Our fridge is a shrine to photo-booth pictures, and to magnet words.  It's one of my favorite places to zone out and stare.  Shall we zoom in?


Cartoon us, photobooths, SNL highlights

More of the exact same

We never turn down a photobooth opportunity

If you haven't noticed yet, he is way better at these than I am

These are, no joke, so ingrained in our brains that we quote them regularly.  The most quoted one begins with "I see a problem!"


And this is my favorite poster, in our kitchen, which guests never notice (or comment on).  I'm always surprised because I would be staring at it and picking my top five!

Ok, now that you've had the tour.  What's cookin'?


Elderberry.  Let's talk about this stuff.  We read that, like zinc, elderberry can help prevent and/or reduce the length of time of a cold.  Since zinc tastes like....metal mixed with sewer, we have been downing little sips of the syrup.  It is sweet, sour, and delicious.  Sometimes we throw it in smoothies.  It isn't cheap, but a $20 bottle lasts us a good month (it recommends you take a TON when you are sick--we just have a teaspoon or two per day).

I haven't been sick in a hella long time.  Even when it goes through the entire office, I haven't caught the bugs.  Knock on wood.

I'm not going to give you the pleasure of linking to some fabulous study, but if you google elderberry (aka Sambucus) you will find a plethora of information on its historical medicinal use.

Ethiopian Injera
Oh how I love injera.  My neighborhood has a small Ethiopian population, so we have a great Ethiopian restaurant, and our corner market is owned by Ethiopians.  They stock fresh injera, and every now and then I pop in and purchase a bag.

It is made of a grain called teff, and because it is fermented first, the bread tastes sour/yeasty like sourdough bread.  It is light and soft, and I eat it as it traditionally is eaten--as a vehicle to scoop up other food, mostly cooked vegetables.

This stuff will make you crazy full.  I'm not sure about this, but I think it must expand in your stomach. 

The taste is what got me, but the nutritionals are pretty outstanding as well.  It is high in fiber, protein, and iron (!), and is noted here as being an easily digestible form of iron that is good for "elite athletes."  I'm sold.


Banana Creme Muscle Milk protein powder
At the Tough Tilden Ten, I scooped up a few free Muscle Milk drinks that were being given out afterwards.  The Gentleman and I were both shocked to learn that we LOVED the banana flavor.

I have been on the hunt for a good new protein powder (I can't explain why, but I get sick of them very fast....even if at first I like them).  Right now I am digging this powder.  Mix it with anything, even just plain almond milk, and its tasty.  I don't look at the stats too closely when choosing a powder, but it has a decent amount of protein (I think it is 16g protein/160 calories one scoop, 32g/320 calories two scoops). 

Caramel Apple filled Werther's Original candies

Not a whole lot to say about these, except I have been wanting to try them for a long time, and I finally bought them at Target last weekend.  They're pretty fantastic.  If you like eating things like tootsie roll pops but cannot wait to get to the chewy middle, you will adore these--you get to the chewy delicious center way fast.  It is more like a chew, with a thin shell of maple around it.


Kraft cracked black pepper string cheese
I love pepper.  I LOVE pepper.  I douse it on eggs, so much, no millimeter uncovered.  So I was pretty stoked to find these.  Are they life changing? Nah.  But the pieces of pepper are fresh and big and I do think this is a pretty creative and tasty treat.  However, the Gentleman refused to finish one and I had to take over, so I guess it's not for everyone. 

*check it out: none of this is meant to be advice about food for running.  That would be annoying and false if I thought I was qualified to tell you anything about how to fuel for your life.  This is just a peek in my kitchen.

***

If you haven't already checked out the video that XLMIC and I submitted for the Oiselle contest (free flight/lodging/tickets to cheer at the Olympic track trials in Eugene, Oregon) then check it out below if you so desire.  XLMIC did a kick-ass job of editing this; I merely approved her brilliant ideas.

 

No voting is necessary, but thank you to those of you who offered!

I independently discovered Oiselle's distance running shorts, and talked about my love for them here and here.  I have them in three colors, and have worn them during every race since discovering them.  This is truly one brand I am not embarrassed to pursue.  (And sorry to alienate you men...the brand only makes womens clothing.  This shall make up for those decades during which sports bras didn't exist, you jerks).

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

KK

Hey, I can't read my Garmin.  I had to gently edit my last post to simmer down the drama, because the dumb-mean-good-for-nothin' 10k I ran on Monday was not actually completed at a pace slower than goal marathon pace, nor at the same pace as the Tilden Tough Ten.  My Garmin clocked a 6:39 pace for 6.33 miles.  Official pace was 6:47.  Still not cool at all, but it does make me feel slightly better to know my tired legs were only about 25-30 seconds off of where they should be.

XLMIC presented me with an awesome opportunity via a simple email today, which I responded to with a fervent "fuck yes I want in".  The opportunity involved joining forces with her in an application for a running-related contest that I'm sure many of you are already aware of.  One of my only jobs for the application, at the late deadline hour (due tonight), was to send XLMIC pictures of myself as a young'un.

I had to ask my folks to scan me a couple pictures, as I have nothing in my home to prove that I was once under the age of 16.  What I was sent, was, in a word, cute.  Whhhhy, oh why didn't I stay this way?

(title reference: KK was my childhood nickname.  Still answer to it).

This...haha oh goodness.  They don't make toys like this anymore, do they?

Let's all admit it; jealous of the pony bathing suit, the pro floaties, the stiff legs 

I invented the Zooey Deschanel bang

I miss the days when I could play soccer without a sports bra

I'd still wear that

This post was for no other reason than I wanted to correct the errors of the last post, and had a handful of cute photos in my inbox that need some loving.  I'll try never to pull this kind of a wispy post again.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Crushed

There's always a first for everything.

And guys, this is the first time I have to report that I ran an event, and sorely extremely failed to meet even my lowest expectations.

Of course, I have my excuses.  But I also have some crushed confidence, which is badly timed given my previous excitement to run See Jane Run half marathon next Sunday.

***

I had an incredible weekend at Lake Tahoe this weekend (more below), and returned home late Sunday night.  After hitting up the internet following a relaxing few days without it, I revisited the possibility of running a 10k the next morning, a race my friend Merrilee had mentioned to me at last weekend's Tough Tilden Ten.

At 10:30 p.m. Sunday night, I decided to go for it and register in the a.m. with this in mind:
a) 6.2 miles would be the perfect hard tempo run that I need since I have done nothing but run easy this past week;
b) this will boost my confidence for the half marathon next weekend; and
c) I can try out my new Nike Free's again on a more appropriate (non-trail) surface.
d) I never regret running a race

Arriving at the starting line this morning, with plenty of time to kill since I arrived so early to register, I thought about the following:  my half-marathon pace is in the 6:30 zone.  My goal marathon pace for some unknown future race is in the 6:50 zone.  I figured my 10k pace would be in the 6:15 zone.

So what did I run? WHAT did I run you ask!?

Slower than my half-marathon pace.  Ahem, slower than my marathon goal pace.

Slower than any 10k clip of my past half-marathons.

The same pace that I ran a very challenging 10 mile trail race the week prior.

I clocked a 7:01 average pace 6:39 Garmin pace (6.33 miles)/ 6:47 official pace for 6.2 miles.  Keep in mind, this was a flat and fast course.

*edited.  I don't know where I got the 7:01 pace from.  I'm not fluent in the language of Garmin. Still feel the same about the 6:39/6:47 pace--disappointingly slower than half marathon pace.

Was this mental? No. no no no.  I was pushing it, pushing it hard.  I was struggling with all my might to work past my strong desire to drop out to appease my dead legs.  I was dreaming of dropping out, because by the end of mile two, I felt like I normally do at mile 23 of a marathon.  That is, dreaming of the finish line, legs burning.

Now on to the excuses.  Or, the search to figure out what went so wrong.

Potential culprits:

a) Thursday evening Kettleball class.  My back muscles and upper legs were stiff as a board all Friday and Saturday, and began to loosen up on Sunday.  Thought it wouldn't be a big issue Monday morning, but, that class may be one reason these legs were dead at mile two this morning.

b) I ran 10 tough (and beautifully snowy!) Tahoe miles on Saturday, and 12 tough Tahoe miles on Sunday, because I couldn't resist some time out in the stunning woody trails and because I didn't fully consider that I may be trying to run hard on Monday. I typically would not choose to run more than 2-3 miles the day before any half or full marathon.

c) On top of the running, I hiked with the Tahoe crew (we were up there with 4 friends and one toddler) both Saturday and Sunday as well, with Sunday bringing a more challenging climb up the gorgeous Five Lakes trail.  Hiking, as I learned upon my return from a Zion vacation, makes for a brutal return to running.

So what have I learned....

I hate strength training.  I hate kettleballs.  I know, I knowwwwww.  I know I need to strength train.  But I swear, every time I give it a go, my running suffers.  The last time I dedicated myself to it--about 40 minutes, 3x a week--was before the blog so I did not document my experience.  But my legs, heavy from squats and lunges and donkey kicks, became slower and slower.  I don't know what's supposed to happen or how this is meant to help my running, but the short terms effects are devastating for running.

Other than that, I am clearly making some excuses here, to try and build back any confidence for the half next weekend.  Because as of now I feel like I need to seriously lower my expectations.  I have never fallen so short of my expectations in a race as I did today, and now all my fears of "but what if I this goes wrong on race day, or that goes wrong on race day?" have been confirmed as true possibilities.  Not the end of the world, really, but I was kind of enjoying being able to turn it "on" and just run hard for races.  So, confidence crushed.  Stupid 10k's... ;)

Now with that, this shall be the 10k that never happened, because if I remember it too hard, I will never run another 10k again.  

And back to the good part of the weekend! Tahoe, where as mentioned, I actually ran while it was snowing! On memorial day weekend! whoda thunk?


Hiking, and although hard to tell from this photo, the bushy tree above me is fully sideways and alive, growing out of that dirt slab



Our incredibly kind hosts for the weekend, and their lovable pooch

Five Lakes trail

 What a trip through time...all the way back 3 months ago to Winter ;)

Alright.  How do you deal with disappointing races?  Do you HATE 10k's?  What happened to me this morning?

Friday, May 25, 2012

You Cannot Charm Me

Late news, I placed in my age group for the Oakland half marathon, because the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place woman overall were taken out of the age group placings (and those 3 were all in my age group).  When I was notified of this, I thought, "Cool! Something free?"

I received my award in the mail this week.



Hard to see? It is a little charm--about the size of a dime--that says "2012 Oakland 13.1"

I have negative use for it.  I know Sesa already attacked this topic well before the race even happened, but are the race directors assuming that women want jewelry?  I truly have no more use for this than a dude would (fyi, guys who placed in their AG got something different).  It is officially clutter.  And I can't bring myself to toss it because that just seems wrong.  At the very least, could they have provided a chain? 

***

Yesterday was full of running-related events.  I had a Physical Therapy appointment in the morning (operation heal my buttcrease) and a kettleball class through my PT in the evening, and plans to run with XLMIC around lunchtime.  I also had and an appointment to bring my car into the shop, so it was a stay-at-home-work-a-little kind of day.  XLMIC and I ended up hiking instead of running, and you can read all about our spiritual adventure through a labyrinth on her bloggity here.

The kettleball class was recommended by my PT to get my butt/hip muscles and core stronger.  My back hurts (bad form?) and I truthfully didn't love it.  I spent an hour learning the basic kettleball moves instead of just getting on with the strengthening.  So much rather be running than lifting bowling balls....but I'll suck it up and try a few more classes out. 

***

Inside Dish: Advertising Rejection

Here and there I know I have touched on the fact that I find advertising on blogs annoying, and I don't participate in it, and probably won't until a product comes along that I legitimately enjoy or want to help promote.

In the meantime, I get emails (rarely, but I do) asking if I want to associate with a brand, or post a review, or become an ambassador.  I have never done this, so if you have seen any brand or company mentioned here, it is only because I was freely talking about them.

This hilarious exchange is why I think blog advertising is often phony and desperate. 

Email #1, paraphrased: "We found your blog, and have a few questions.  Is that ok? Have a GREAT day!"

My reply: "Sure."

Email # 2 (brand name left out): Hello, Thanks for getting back to me. :)
I'm reaching out to you because  I saw your blog has some awesome posts relating to fitness, exercise, and living a healthy lifestyle.  If you are not familiar with the [#### brand], we [are about blah blah blah]. I was wondering if you would be interested in adding a short post with a couple of our links to your blog. [The brand] is so relevant to the content on your page and I think your site viewers would find our products very beneficial.  If this is something you'd like to discuss further please let me know. I look forward to hearing from you!

***

Humph.  You know what, I have no problem at all with this sincerely nice person and company putting effort into expanding their advertising.  Blogs are a valid way to market yourself.  But I'm not impressed, not at all, to receive a generic email that clearly has not read through one week of this blog, and instead has noted, "the word 'runner' is in the blog title? check! people read this blog? check!" and I got on their list.

I'm so sorry brand, I have to tell you, I do NOT have "awesome posts relating to fitness, exercise, and living a healthy lifestyle."  Truly, I don't think I live a very healthy lifestyle.  I run a lot, and that is as far as the lifestyle goes.  This, in many people's opinions, is in itself not very healthy.  If we're talking about food, the healthiest thing I do is eat an apple and some carrots almost every day of the week.  But I also go through an unhealthy amount of packaged garbage.  The good and the bad of my diet life very rarely make the blog; because, this is not a blog exhibiting a "healthy lifestyle".

The product itself has nothing to do with me or this blog.  It's a desperate stretch.  Bloggers, don't blindly say yes to a linking parade unless it is relevant.  I can't take that seriously.

Happy memorial day weekend!  I will be off to Tahoe in just a few hours, where the high is expected to be 40-something degrees on Saturday.  Will be barbecuing in a snow suit ;)

Juicy advertising rejection stories?
Is it bratty that I don't appreciate the Oakland half marathon charm?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Running Stuff and the Bachelorette

As expected, my weak feet which are accustomed to years and years of running in highly cushioned shoes, took a shock from running 10 difficult miles in the minimal Nike Free's.  The inner arch of my left foot is sore, but in a good muscle-growing way rather than a plantar fascia way.

These bloggers both found me through the Tilden Tough Ten recap, and both have their own TTT recaps to share.  Glad to find them, as I'm always down to meet new bay area runners.

Dear race photographers: head on shots are NEVER good.  I don't care if it makes it harder to see my bib number, if you want runners to buy your pictures, take them from other angles.

from Evan Pilchik photography

oopsie on the screen shot

No speed work this week, as I count down about 10 days until my next half marathon.  The best I could manage with semi-sore legs from all the hills on Sunday was 7 miles of fartleks this morning (something like 1 minute effort, 1 minute recovery).   This fartlek run never hits me nearly as hard as a track workout.  Which is why I often choose to do it instead of going to the track.

Speaking of, ever since I started incorporating track workouts into my running routine (an average of once per week for the last 5-ish weeks), my distance running has suffered.  I haven't had the energy to run farther than 15 miles in a few weeks.  Cramping my style.

In other running news, the Gentleman has been on this new kick lately where he wants to exercise every morning with me.  It's....awesome.  I used to drag him out of bed 2-3 times per week, partially just because it was good for my morale for him to go to bed and wake up at the same time as me.  He typically runs the first 3.2 miles of my run (one shorter lap around the lake), but he also got a gym membership to my hot fart gym (no other name is more accurate...there are no gold things at Gold's Gym) so if I hit the treadmill or take it easy on the elliptical, he hits the elliptical too.  We get on machines next to each other and make out.  I mean share a sweat towel.

He doesn't run very fast (unless we sprint....then he kicks my butt) and he doesn't run very far, so you'd think this wouldn't fit into my routine....but I don't give.  I'd much rather sweat easy with him, talking nonsense about what dreams we had right after waking up, than follow some scheduled run.  I love his new addiction!

The Bachelorette

OF course I'm watching, silly.  I just haven't gotten around to gossiping about it until now.

My thoughts so far, in bullet form:
  • Emily gets told she is beautiful/gorgeous/stunning LITERALLY hundreds of times a day.  She kind of says "aww thank yeww" in her precious southern drawl, but really I don't even think it phases her.  Not even a little.  What is going on in her head?  Is she like "yeah, I know I'm the most perfect specimen ever, let's move this along," or is she like "this makes me uncomfortable and it's annoying that all anyone talks about is my beauty when what I want to be talking about is Ricki. Ricki Ricki Ricki, hi pretty girl!" or is she like "I'm having a fat day here in my size zero gown, I'm so glad everyone is telling me how beautiful I am."  Which one, guys?
oh Emily, you take all the boys' breath away

  • Kalon.  Or chopper guy.  Not to dive in so early in the game rooting for the villain, but hold the effing noose, bachelors! I'm not cool with how mean everyone is to Kalen.  Who cares if he is the 1%, you aren't allowed to hate someone just because they act rich.  Be jealous or annoyed, but stop the bullying.  (that said, he does have the face of a dickwad.  It makes him an easy villain).
Kalon, $50,000 watch

  • Jef.  What is up with Jef.  Why is he so familiar to me?  Haven't I seen him on MTV somewhere? Like in the early 2000's, on a "Next" episode?
Jef.  How do I know you??!?

  • I'm just going to go ahead and say it.  Ricki seems like a real, genuine idiot.  (Stay calm, this is meant to be funny (but true) as I greatly enjoy making fun of kids for knowing so much less than I do.  They're so dumb!).  "Pretty girl!"  Nice job Emily for making sure that your daughter knows from day one that the important thing is that she is pretty.  I'm calling it, Ricki will have an eating disorder by age 13.
Giggle giggle I don't know my words yet but I'm so pretty

  • Finally, and obviously, none of the bachelors are in Emily's league, in terms of her unstoppable beauty.  But, that may be just fine, since it seems like Emily is afraid of hot guys thanks to Brad.
But the real point is, this season is extremely stiff, thanks to barbie and all her ken dolls.  Nobody seems to have a personality.  Has anyone said anything funny or interesting this season?  Mostly a lot of "I also have a kid, pick me."  And "you're so beautiful, I realllllly think this about you more than any of the other guys do, please pick me."

Do you work out often with your significant other?
Bachelorette thoughts?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tilden Tough Ten Recap

Didn't know I was going to have a race recap up today? Me either! Until a couple of days ago.  Which is when Merilee contacted me regarding a free available bib for the 300-person-limit 10 mile trail run in the Berkeley Hills of Tilden Park.  (The bib was offered clean, as in, I would be registered in my own name).

I have never raced on a trail, have never run a 10-mile race, and have never raced any distance with intense hills....because I usually chase PR's--on flat courses.  I'll save the hilly trail races for my 40's when the PR's start to elude me.

I took the bait.  I was unhappy with my last two weeks of running--the easy runs were fun and great, but whenever I headed out to try and run harder, either on the track or on the treadmill for a tempo, I failed.  I figured a 10-mile race with effort would be the perfect way to bounce me out of my rut, and get a hard workout in.

And it was a hard workout! I loved every challenging, beautiful second of it.

No pictures yet.  The Gentleman did take this really enlightening video of me waiting around before the race, squinting with tired early morning eyes, pretending I know how to warm up.  Then I stood for 20 more minutes before the race started.  Not sure why I can't bring myself to warm up, I figure the first mile is the warmup.

**the video below seems to not be showing up in Google Reader.  ?  I think it is working fine from the website, but there's not a lot to see so no worries.





I'm not going to give this the full recap treatment, as it was more a fun-run/training-run than anything else.  So here's the short version:

The 10 mile course was an out-and-back up a trail that was mostly paved with a few miles of unpaved trail.  The "out" part was rolling hills, with more downs than ups.  The "back" part was strenuous and challenging, with some long slow climbs that killed me, and one intense and killer steep steep grade hill that most everyone seemed to be walking up.  I made it about 80% up the hill before realizing walking was faster than my 3 inches-per-drive run.

I knew that with the numerous hills, and the tougher 5 mile return, I would have some very slow miles, so I tried to bank some time by flying down the declines whenever they appeared.  I thought with this method, there was some chance I could hit a sub-70 minutes (or sub 7:00 average mile for the 10 miles).

Unofficial results:

4th place woman
Time: 71:31
Pace: 7:01
Distance: 10.2 miles

Oh--the 10.2 miles.  A rather hilarious debacle occurred in which some dusty chalk arrows were left in the trail from a previous race, that directed the race-route in the wrong direction.  Most of the runners had run the Tilden Tough Ten before, and knew to turn in the correct direction--and we all followed those wise runners.  But, the volunteers were led astray by the arrows....and they went the wrong way....which more or less meant, the turnaround at the 5 mile point wasn't marked.  A lot of us kept running past 5 miles, looking for an imaginary turnaround.  We ended up turning around at 5.1 miles.

Here we go:

Mile 1: 6:14
Mile 2: 6:27
Mile 3: 6:28
Mile 4: 6:58
Mile 5: 7:17
Mile 6: 8:28 (some walking)
Mile 7: 6:48
Mile 8: 7:34 (long climb)
Mile 9: 6:47
Mile 10: 7:08
0.2: 1:20

No joke, trail running is hard! I really enjoyed it.  Even with the turnaround confusion, it was all fun and everybody was really supportive and working hard.  I'm really thankful for the last minute free bib.  Thanks Merilee!

Just to give an illustration of the difficulty of this course....the course women's record is by Oakland's Olympic marathoner, Magdalena Lewy-Boulet, at a time of 64:37 in 2002.  After reading that, I realize not coming in under my hoped-for 70:00 is not all that disappointing. 

The other most exciting thing about this race was....I raced in a pair of shoes I bought the day prior.  Never ran in them once.  In fact, I don't think I've ever even run in any pair of Nikes.

I've been really wanting a lighter racing shoe.  Hitting the track in my Brooks Launch feels clunky.  I've had my eye on the Nike Free's for a year, but I won enough free running shoes from races in the past year that I didn't have a good excuse to dish out the $100. 


While these weren't perfect for the treacherous holes and lumps during the hilly dirt trail portions, I really loved them.  LOVED them.  So flexible and light.  I hope they continue to work out for longer distances.

Everybody raced this weekend, right?! Feel free to share

Friday, May 18, 2012

And then I Realized I Don't Like Las Vegas

Onto and out of my final vacation recap.

Day 6:

I woke up and raaaan.  The ole Garmin didn't work so well amidst the majesty of enormous Zion rocks, but I would estimate it was 13 miles.  I ran with my phone, which means for the first time ever, I could take pictures while I ran.  I'm usually a hands-free only runner.



First picture is of my little nature pal that I almost killed.  I needed something to help show the scale...should have used my hand...but used a piece of gum.  Always in my pocket when I run.  Always Extra brand.

Then I tried to take a picture of a wild turkey in my path, but it ran away from me like a celebrity pretending it didn't invite the paparazzi.  I also came face to face with a deer, and sweet-talked it into letting me pass by.   I took a couple pictures of my scenery....best run of the year.  Buttcrease was bothered. Normal.

Cell-phone quality

After showering up, I had a slushee from a movie theater food court where we watched a terrible short film about Zion on IMAX, and then we both got an ice cream before heading out on a short "farewell Zion" hike.

This is how casual the hike was. We: a) were hiking with ice cream; b) were wearing flip flops; c) I was wearing a dress; and d) we never got around to sunscreen.  It ended up being 3 miles of other hikers giving us a either a "what idiots" look or an "am I overdressed?" look as we steamed past them....dressed like we were going to the beach.

Once I finished my ice cream, I had to hike with the sticky cup in my hand. 

hehe.  Hiking with an ice cream cone = baller

Terrain not ideal for flippy-floppies


While concluding the hiking portion of this vacation, there is something really serious and important that we have to talk about.  Some of you will be like, "no way!? What!? I would never do that!" But for those of you who can handle this secret I'm about to tell you, your life will change for the better and never return to the old primitive ways of....the...female peehole.  Listen up.

Behold. The Freshette.



DON'T BE AFRAID.  Just do it.  You hike; you pee standing up.  You camp; you pee standing up.  You approach a disgusting port-o-potty or a gas station bathroom; YOU PEE STANDING UP.  You dominate the world, you don't get poison oak all over your hands while popping a squat, and you don't have to dodge the downstream flow of pee as it trickles towards your hands.  Life saver.  I love this thing.

The first time you use it, you will laugh.  And it will be hard to pee straight because you will convulse with laughter.  But now, I'm so pro, I could cook you a fancy meal while using this thing.

So then.  Zion and hiking was sadly over.  We got in the car, ate at our favorite joint in Zion, and headed to Las Vegas to spend the evening and next morning before flying  back home to the depressing reality of life not in Utah.

Goat cheese relleno, Whiptail Grill

Las Vegas--Day 6 and Day 7:

Culture. Shock.

I finally realized that Las Vegas is not meant for me.  It is meant for people who are into the following things:

1) margaritas in really long plastic tubes.
2) walking slowly down a sidewalk behind huge crowds in the hot sun.
3) learning that Seinfeld is in town, but knowing it is impossible to get to see him.
4) Hot Girls at your Door in 10 minutes. XXX.
5) Being able to choose from 6 different Christian Louboutin/Gucci/Prada/Chanel stores within a 2 mile radius.
6) Lying down like a slug in the sun next to a pool, and never swimming, maybe a little dip, sunscreen is for the weak.
7) Having depressing locals snap flyer cards in your face.  No thanks, no Hot Girl in 10 Minutes today, maybe next time.

Yeah I wasn't into the circus this time around.  Even people watching was not amusing, after seeing the same version of a 31 year old sunburned dude with drink in hand hoping to magically be as cool as Bradley Cooper in The Hangover.

To illustrate how much I did NOT fit in: after walking through the strip, we got a little bored at one point and decided to see if we could take THREE steps at a time while heading up some stairs.  The Gentleman did it successfully.  I tried, and ended up more or less in a wide-leg semi-splits position, trying my darndest to accomplish the 3-stair step.  While in that position, I looked up.  Two of those Bradley-Cooper-wannabes were having the laugh of their life.

That was when I really realized.  Adults don't know how to have a good time.  Adults think a good time is going to Vegas, to look at a lot of sparkly shiny things in buildings and endless miniskirts/high heels/cleavage and neverending alcohol and gaudy shows.  But the funnest part of my day was trying to climb some stairs three at a time, and not giving a crap that these desperately-clinging-to-college-dicks thought I was the most ridiculous crazy person they ever saw. 

Also annoying: I bought a hot dog and an iced hot chocolate....for $20.  Whaaaat!?

The best thing about Vegas was our bed at Caesar's.  I need to know what kind of mattress it was.  Best night of sleep ever.

Some Nike store promotion in Vegas, and I chose to do the obvious.


I bought a $3 test tube shot while wandering in front of Treasure Island

It did nothing.  Nothing.

10:00 p.m., we didn't know what to do with ourselves.  We saw a Dairy Queen listed in a mall directory and shouted, "Dairy Queeeeen!!!!" and then walked around casinos watching people play serious gambling games while eating our Dairy Queen.  This literally made people uncomfortable.  And maybe mad.  (Butterscotch dipped cone for life).

11:00 p.m., wandering aimlessly around the Wynn.  I have a thing for purple chairs...a story I'll maybe share one day.

Any Las Vegas haters in the house?

Who is brave enough to keep a Freshette in their pocket on their next road trip or camping trip or ultra?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Intimidation

Did things get really boring in here since I came back from vacation?

Well let's turn to a conversation that I have thought about before, and tucked it in my pocket for a slow day.  The topic is: "When People Stop Reading a Blog Because it Makes Them Feel Bad About Themselves."  Alternatively called "Stop Comparing Yourself to Strangers on the Internet."

Something I hear from time to time, in comments on blogs besides this one, or in other forums/discussions, is that readers feel alienated from...blogs written by strong runners, or long-time runners.  I have read some say they don't enjoy such blogs because they cannot relate.  They cannot relate because, for instance, they are new to running, or have yet to run farther than a 5k, or are working on cracking a 9:00 minute mile.  Another take on this sentiment is that runners who blog too cheerfully or with too much running success, make the reader feel bad.  Can't help but compare themselves. 

I think I understand this.  Sometimes reading about someone's fabulous 20 mile run, or killer PR, makes me feel jealous or like a lard-ass for sitting at my computer reading about it, on slump days or when my last run was a bad one.

I also understand because I don't think there would be much benefit to me to regularly read a blog by Desiree Davila or Ryan Hall.  Way too intense for me.  Reading about their 3-a-days, in which every mile was faster than 5:30, would make me want to hurl and conclude that running is the stupidest sport ever.

On the other hand.  On the OTHER hand.  Serrrrriously? We're going to avoid or dismiss a running blog because they are....good at the sport?  Because they are better than thou?

The comparison game is ridiculous.  We are all just running the best that we can.  We all go into a race with goals, and when we are IN it, we run as hard as we can.  My hardest effort probably feels exactly the same as YOUR hardest effort, even if the end result is a time on the clock that is a few minutes faster or slower.

If someone chooses not to read my blog--and of course, that person is already gone, and probably not reading this--because it made them feel bad about themselves for not running as many miles or not loving running or whatever other annoying running thing I do, then that blows.  Grow a pair!  How could you feel BAD for yourself because of some lame-wad stranger who writes stupid stuff on the internet?!  On the internet, we aren't each others competitors.  We are here to share mundane running (and other) stories, and to possibly hopefully inspire each other to run on those days when we don't want to.  Or inspire a new workout.  Or inspire a can-do-anything attitude on race day.  Or motivate you to suck it up and learn how hard you can push it, if that dorky blogger girl can do it.

My blog has never really been a YOU CAN DO IT!!! RUNNING FREE FOR ALL!! kind of blog.  But I sure never intended for it to make anyone want to run less.  I don't dream to inspire, but fuck YEAH if I do inspire even one person...and something is terribly wrong if I inspire anyone to quit running.

Por ejemplo.  This chic is one that I love to read.  Her brain is crazy.  Like, so crazy.  She loves pain, LOVES IT, and does impossible things like run hella fast without drinking any water during a race (the faster you run, the harder it is to drink, fact).  Sometimes I read a race recap of hers and think, "shit son, I suck.  She has a will of steel, and I have one of tissue."  But her attitude leaves a trail in my memory, and sometimes, while running, I think of her and her strength and her attitude and hunger to succeed and improve.  And I run a little harder.

While I do love reading blogs of runners whose skill/training I can relate to, I think I like it even more when I can't relate.  Like rockstar over here who trained for a 50-miler, or rockstar over here training for a triathlon.  Can't relate, but intrigued and inspired all the same.

And if anyone doubts that I am relate-able, here are two examples of some of the super sucky running that I have been participating in for the last 3 weeks:

I tried to go on a weekend long run last Sunday.  I took an obscene number of walk breaks.  I ended up running 16 miles in 2:35....that is just about a 10:00 pace.  Almost all flat.  CAN YOU RELATE TO ME NOW?  I have bad running days.

This morning I attempted to do an epic track workout. I had planned on getting as far as I could into a workout that Rose mentioned to me.  The workout sounded rad.  It was 1x1600; 2x1200; 3x800; 4x400; 5x200; 6x100.  I don't know what speeds.  Just fast.

I ran one 1600 (aka mile) in 5:56, one 1200 (aka 3/4 mile) in 4:30, and then started a 2nd 1200....stopped.....and didn't do anymore.  Workout, fail.  No good reason.  Just had a weak brain today.

I am your average normal runner.  You can be one too!  I push hard sometimes, I wimp out other times.  No need to seek out blogs that make you think "hey, I can run faster than that, this blog makes me feel gooooood about myself."  Try not to compare or be intimidated, and remember that every runner has their bad days or slow streaks or slumps.  Probably even Desiree Davila.  Please stay here.

Fess up:  have you ever stopped reading a blog because you couldn't quit comparing and it brought you down? 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

RoseHiker Part 5: Bryce Canyon

Day 5:

After our unbeatable canyon adventure on Day 4, we forced upon Bryce Canyon the impossible task of impressing us with only 10-12 hours, on a gloomy-weather day.  It was expected to rain and possibly snow in Bryce.  We figured we would hike through it anyway.

Bryce Canyon is about a 1-hour 45-minute drive from Zion.  We left at 8:00 a.m., drove through the odd entrance "town" to the park, checked out the visitors center, and then picked the 9-mile "Fairyland trail" loop.

We jumped out of the car and ran (literally) to the first vista point we could find.  This is the highest form of anticipation -- I love these moments.  My heart skips a beat still when I think about my first view of the Grand Canyon.  I remember those neverending minutes when you are in the Park, getting closer and closer to the Canyon, but nothing is visible....and then suddenly you are at the edge of the canyon walls and BAM.  Knocks you out. 


Grand Canyon, 1.5 years ago, Mather Point at dusk

Grand Canyon left me speechless, emotional, and mesmerized.  Bryce Canyon made me giggle.  I loved the view.  It was exciting and crazy, and so I giggled.


Accidentally dressed for Christmas




The long skinny rock features are called "hoo-doos".  Some ancient peeps thought they were beings who were frozen (by voodoo?) into stone for being naughty.  The portion of the park with hundreds of these in rows is called "the amphitheater."  The Fairyland trail hiked down and into and around these hoo-doos.

Team Red, hiking



If hoo-doos are frozen bad people/animals, then they were really enormous people/animals.  





Although the hike was very fun, we didn't really get to slow down and enjoy it because we kept getting hit with bursts of rain.  When it began to pour, we sucked it up and started speed-walking.  Then, when there was a break, we would stop and enjoy the view and eat a snack.  The last hour was pouring, so by the time we got back to the main lodging building, it was a beautiful sight to see a large fireplace.  We sat next to it drying and warming up.  When I asked a lodge staff member if there was anywhere to buy hot chocolate, she brought us some for free, and it was a sugary warming cup of perfect.  We chatted with some folks (I don't always approve of this term, but they really were "folks") who convinced me that next up, I have to visit Glacier Park, even though it is extra important to me that I don't leave this world via death by bear.  Anyone been to Glacier Park and recommends it??

The rest of Bryce Canyon is a series of viewpoints, so we played the part of tourists and drove to them.  The cold cold weather was making it hard to get out of the car for very long.  And at one point, I think the elevation attacked me like a hard bong hit.  I seriously felt like I was on laughing gas. We had to stay in the car for a while at that point and get the hysteria out.

Below, a series of what was seen from the various viewpoints.


"Natural Bridge"


Caves naturally built into the wall


Don't you just want to get down in there and hike some mazes!?


More hoo-doo amphitheatre.

In summary, and in conclusion, and in a nutshell, and to wrap it up, and in cliffsnotes, Bryce Canyon was beautiful but is really Zion's less cool sibling.  There simply isn't quite as expansive a list of dayhikes, but maybe it is fabulous to do some backcountry hiking in Bryce.  Also, while the hoo-doos are stunning, you can only stare at them for so long before the excitement wears thin.

MOTHERS DAY.

My three sisters, our significant others, and my dad, spent the last 3 months secretly emailing back and forth to plan a BIG 60th birthday/mother's day surprise for my mom.  So this weekend was extravagant.  We're talking fancy Napa Valley spas, limo rides to the Top of the Mark in San Francisco, champagne, hot tubs, and cigars (those last three, combined, sound like a bad rap video).  I got a good run in on Saturday in Napa, and a bad run in on Sunday in Oakland (think: lots and lots of walk breaks.  Was it the champagne?).  It may be worth sharing a couple pictures once they flood in.  Mostly pictures of my family, sitting in a limo looking like we are going to old-people Prom.

Anyway.  My mom was treated really well, as she deserves, and really loved all the surprises.  She had no idea that all the sisters were coming into town.  Every birthday/mothers day from here on out will be a huge let down for her when she realizes no limos will be driving up to her door.

Happy M-Day to all the moms out there, and I hope all you daughters/sons treated your mom to some lovin' this weekend!