Saturday, April 20, 2013

Run Long, But Maybe Not This Long...

I ran 16 miles today, which is kind of an exciting milestone for me. 16 miles is officially the farthest I have ever travelled on foot in one day. The Grige and I did a few 15 mile days when we were backpacking in Yosemite. They were killer, because they ended up coinciding with our biggest elevation changes. Unlike running, backpacking downhill is about the most painful thing a person can do. Our first 15 mile day ended with 8+ miles of rocky, miserable downhill. The views were amazing, but I've never seen the Grige so miserable, and I wasn't much better.

Trust me, you don't want to have that much mountain still in front of you at sunset. Ever. 
I've never forgotten that day, and my last two long runs have proved that 15 miles is indeed a formidable distance for the human feet/legs to travel in one day. last week, I really fought through the last two miles. This week, I had to fight through the last 4 miles. I may have cried a little bit around mile 14, and only visualizing finishing the marathon kept me moving forward (right around granny speed-walking pace).

So here is the deal: It's scary to have the long runs be this hard. I have been unbelievable lucky to have had amazing 50 degree sunny days for both runs. I've also not had a single gastro issue in two weeks (YES!!!). But I still end up collapsing on my porch at the end of the runs before I can attempt our front stairs. Also, I am SLOW. My last 2 miles today had close to 14:00 min splits. That is DEPRESSING. 26.2 miles feels impossible after today.

I'm really hopeful that this is just a tough barrier that my body will push through in the coming weeks. It's been 3 weeks since my last step back, and I think it's time for another. I'm planning to do a slow swim tomorrow for recovery, which brings me to a new gear addition! THE STICK.

Recovery has taken on a whole new meaning for me lately - I'm almost ready to give in on those stupid compression socks. But for now, this thing, in addition to my foam roller, is WHERE IT'S AT. It feels so good. In concert with some backwards running, this has really ironed out my quad issues. My recovery strategy has also expanded to include recovery foods, like pineapple and bananas. For example: I'm drinking a delicious pineapple mojito tonight! It's the ultimate recovery tool.

Here's hoping my 18 miler in two weeks is easier. I need to get a long run winner in before we head to Greece!

Monday, April 15, 2013


The following is the conversation that a 26 year-old woman (who has been living away from home for over 8 years and has traveled much of the globe alone) had with her mother this week.

Mom: "Are you getting excited for your honeymoon? Have you started packing yet?!"

Me: "Yes! I'm so excited, and I can't wait! I actually bought two new dresses for the trip, but I can wear them to work too, so it's a total win!"

Normal so far...

Mom: "Oh, honey. Just don't forget to pack a sweater or something to keep you warm!"

Me: "um... okay. Thanks, Mom...."

Because our mamas, they are always our mamas.

And yes, Mom. I will be sure to pack a sweater or SOMETHING. Today, tomorrow, always.

Happy almost Mother's day. I love mine so much!

Photo: Summer Jean Photography

Oh, Hey!

This morning featured some alarm mal-functioning (likely human error), which I did not handle gracefully. I revoked the Grige's alarm privleges ("No more snoozing for you!!") and generally acted like a total Hulk. And he has an interview today. ugh. Happy Monday to us, more coffee please!

In what can only be described as a karmic oxy-moron, I've had some writing published over at APW today. If you've found your way here via that post - WELCOME! I'm so happy you're here! Here are some posts you might enjoy:




I have to go un-jam a printer for the umpteenth time this morning, proving that the universe didn't totally ignore my alarm-yelling meltdown. I'd be thrilled to hear from you in the comments, and if you live in St. Louis - send me an email and let's totally hang out sometime! (please).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life List: Unapologetically wear bright red lipstick

This "project" got kicked into high gear 2 months ago when I got bangs. As it turns out, bangs literally beg you to wear bright lipstick, as does the onset of spring.

Since I'm cheap, and this blog is technically about personal finance, I'll tell you that I started by grabbing a few cheap-o lipsticks at target. The moral of that story is that something like bright lipstick should really be left to the professionals. I love the "makeup counter" one I got a lot more. I'm sure someone with more experience could do better at the drugstore than I did though. So here's the lipstick progression for you:

1. Here's my regular "pumped up" lip look (by which I mean, I bothered to put on something other than Burt's Bees chapstick). It's Bobbi Brown "Nude 9" lip liner pencil and  Chanel #94 lip gloss "Sundress".  I have thinner lips, so the liner pumps them up but the gloss only keeps them pretty neutral.

2. Here's the look I wore for my wedding. It's Bobbi Brown #7 "Rose Petal" glossy lipstick. I like it, because it's just slightly north of my exact natural lip color, but comes off a little heavier than just gloss and liner.

Now, I know what you're thinking. There is essentially NO DIFFERENCE between those two photos. You are totally right, which leads me to the life list item: Unapologetically wear bright red lipstick. It's a little out of my comfort zone, to say the least.

I ended up with a blue-red and an orange-red. The blue red is supposed to be awesome for making your teeth look white. I think they both do a good job of that though.

So first, my Target purchase. This is Maybelline Super Stay 14 hour lipstick in 070 "Enduring Ruby". I feel doubtful that this would stay on for 14 hours, but whatever. I like that it smells good and doesn't require liner (in my totally inexperienced opinion). It also doesn't totally taste like wax/fish scales, which I'm a fan of. However, it's REALLY dark/purple-y and I feel like I have to be really choosy about what I wear it with as a result. So I haven't worn it as much as I wanted to.


And now, for the big finish. I took myself to the mall for some new tights, and found myself at the MAC counter. I ended up with AB2 "Ruby Woo" in Matte with AA2 lip pencil in "Cherry". This stuff is so super matte that you pretty much can't put it on without blending with a light gloss (I just use a layer of Burt's Bees first). lip liner is an absolute MUST. However, that means that it is not going ANYWHERE. I wore this to a wedding and made it through the entire dinner/cocktail reception without needing to re-apply. I LOVE this lipstick. so much so that I wear it at home while I'm cleaning because it just makes me feel that Fabulous. 

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I'm kind of obsessed with j.Crew. This lipstick really reminds me of what they put on their models (albeit slightly toned down on me). I love putting it on with a broadcloth collared shirt, pearls, comfy jeans and Sperry's. It makes me feel so chic! It doesn't go over the best here in Missouri, but I refuse to give up the east coast ghost just because I live in a place where crocs are considered acceptable footwear. 

I love this red lipstick so much that I actually crossed off my life list item when I used this picture for work (cropped to look less like a selfie, of course). BOOM. If that's not unapologetic, I don't know what is.

Also, I have to be fair and say that the Grige HATES all lipstick on me. I think most guys probably do - it makes the kissing harder. However, that just kind of makes me like it more, because it means I'm doing in 100% for me - because it makes me feel good. 

So I'm wondering, what other fun makeup challenges can I do? I always thought this was a weird life list item, but in addition to being low-hanging fruit challenge-wise, it's been a lot of fun! 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

The Marathon

Yesterday, I registered for the Charelvoix marathon in beautiful Charlevoix Michigan.
I am kind of nervous, especially since my least favorite part of my half marathon was the 2 miles of close proximity out-and-back.  However, I'm hoping that I'll be focused on the views instead of faster runners. If you've never been to west Michigan, you are really missing out. Pristine beaches, nice people, low prices, perfect 70-80 degree summer days. To be honest, I'm pretty excited about running there!

I am also nervous because I ran 15 miles earlier today, and I seriously wanted to die for most of the last 2 miles. All I could think about was lying down in the grass and just taking a nap. So running 11.2 miles after that seems pretty impossible right now. However, running 15 miles seemed impossible a few weeks ago, so I guess I'll just keep plugging ahead!

I have been thinking a lot this week about my healthy goals for this year. Obviously, I'm pleased with how I've done with my exercise goals. However, I could definitely mix it up with cross training. I'll be attempting to attend one fit camp class per week and one yoga class per week. As far as food, it's been hard to balance my running related caloric needs with my goal to eat healthier. I'm trying hard to re-calibrate for this next phase of training by eating salad for lunch on week days. It's been really helpful to add V8 juice whenever I can. It give me extra calories in the form of fruits and veggies.

That's about it from around here today - I'll be cooling my heels on the couch and drinking cider for the rest of the afternoon. What does your Saturday look like?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Few Words From the Bathtub on Marriage and Independence

I write this from the bathtub, where I am sitting, with my shoes on, listening to tornado sirens wail. If you take one thing away from this post, let it be this:

Rule #1 of home disaster preparedness is PUT YOUR DAMN SHOES ON. When it's too late to buy extra water and food, make a family disaster plan, or any of those other things that are so important, please please PLEASE put shoes on yourself and your family. Imagine trying to climb out of a house with a blown off roof and covered in debris (Or run from a zombie) without shoes, and you will see what I mean.

Safety First.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

One of the things I was most worried about before the Grige and I got married was losing my independence. I was worried that there was a "Single Emily" that I would never get to know, or that being half of a marriage would mean that I was no longer a whole person. Most of all, I think I was/am afraid of not knowing how to be alone. In retrospect, you would think he had proposed that we become conjoined twins instead of getting married.

Well let me tell you (alone from the bathtub in the middle of a tornado), this first year of marriage has been a freaking crash course in "aloneness". I'm pretty sure I get my advanced certification after tonight. Perhaps you think I'm being dramatic, and maybe I am. But I was deeply afraid that marrying young would leave me unprepared for moments like this. And here I am, alone, in the candle-lit bathtub on the phone with my mom (WITH MY SHOES ON), and I will definitely survive.

Quite the opposite, our new marriage has pushed me geographically, professionally, physically, mentally and emotionally. We moved to St. Louis, I faced down unemployment and accepted a new job where I'm pushed harder everyday, I ran a half marathon, sought out professional writing opportunities, and learned how to be alone in a new city (WHERE THEY HAVE TORNADOS) while my husband focuses on his graduate program. I also learned how to use power tools, haggle with mechanics and parallel park. Look out, world!

So I'm raising my tornado-bathtub glass of wine (yes, there is a wine bottle and a sippy cup in my tornado bag) to all the independent married ladies out there. Because marriage is not the same as being surgically attached, and sometimes marriage pushes us to more independence than our single selves could have imagined.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Race Recap Part II - Go! St. Louis Half Marathon - The FEELINGS

Running a half marathon has been on my life list for a while (try 5 years). I’ve failed in the attempt a number of times before this, so it’s not surprising that I have a lot of FEELINGS about my finish. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but my biggest struggle with running is definitely mental. As the Grige tells me constantly (and yelled at me during the race – highlighting the reason we no longer run together), “You can go FASTER than that! TRY HARDER!”. I finished my race strong, but I haven’t learned how to push myself to the limit yet. However, finishing was a huge confidence boost, and I believe that conquering a marathon will give me the push I need to start working on speed. So, the FEELINGS:

What Surprised me:

I was totally unprepared for the emotional rollercoaster that goes with preparing for a race. I was SO NERVOUS on Saturday that I could barely sleep. Watching UMich basketball (barely) beat Syracuse in the Final Four did not sooth my nerves (Longest 2 minutes of my life, seriously). But they won! So I went to bed happy. My nerves continued Sunday morning as we sat in traffic at the race exit.

During the race, I felt amazing – elated. I can’t believe how much I actually enjoyed running. There were tons of people, and even though I was hurting, I felt happy. I did not expect that AT ALL. The finish, especially, was really emotional for me. I sprinted my last mile, and plowing through that finish line was just overwhelming. I felt like I was going to cry (luckily, I didn’t). Honestly, the last time I felt that emotional was walking down the aisle at our wedding.

Finally, I was really worried that the fact that I wasn’t used to getting up early/running in the morning would hurt me. I don’t think it actually had any impact at all. I was so nervous that getting up was no problem and I felt fine while I was running. I’m glad to push that worry out of the way for marathon training, because running in the evenings has been working out really well for me schedule-wise.

What didn’t Surprise me:

The logistics of getting to big events on time are always a bit stressor for me, and I planned accordingly. The Grige drove me in so that I didn’t have much to worry about. But I’m one of those people who is always at the airport an hour before I need to be “just in case” and I’m still nauseous the whole time. Race morning was no exception, and I was a ball of nerves. As a result, I’ll be extra cautious about which races I sign up for moving forward. I think that travelling to a race will be nice, because I’ll be able to stay in a hotel close to the start, eliminating a lot of travel stress.

My pace was also no big surprise. I ran at the pace of my best training runs (not 1 minute/mile faster, as some training plans suggested I would be able to). In retrospect, I probably could have pushed it harder. However, I kept thinking about the fact that I’m running 15 miles this Saturday and how I didn’t want to be dead for that. Truthfully, this is just the half-way point in marathon training, and I’m happy to have logged a half marathon time that I can compete with in the coming years. However, I would be lying if I told you I thought I couldn’t do any better. I am stronger and faster than I think, and breaking those mental barriers is one of the great challenges of running for me.

What went wrong

My stomach totally went bonkers on me at mile 4, which meant losing 3 minutes (I timed it) to a port-a-potty stop. Annoying. I was also really sick for the rest of the day yesterday and have been on a liquid diet since the finish as a result. I ate my breakfast with lots of extra time and ate the BRAT (Bananas, Rice, Apples and Toast) diet starting 2 days before the race. I don’t think there’s anything else I could have done, but I’ll continue to try tweaking things. I may give immodium a try before my next long run, just to see if it helps.

Sunday was the warmest day we’ve had so far, and I paid the price for doing all of my training outdoors. Since I’m used to running in extremely cold weather, this is the first time I broke out most of my summer running gear (shorts and tank) this year. The result is some pretty nasty underarm chafing (ouch!), a sunburn, and GIANT blisters on my arches from sweat-related rubbing. Luckily, I didn’t notice any of this during the race except for the blisters. I could feel them forming by mile 5, and I could practically hear them squelching by mile 10. Ugh. I could barely walk to the car after the race. However, I’ve now pierced and drained them and I’m hopeful to be back on the road tomorrow. If not, I’ll be swimming my training this week.

What went right

My training plan helped me feel really prepared. There was never a moment where I worried if I would be able to finish or not, andknowing that I could do it really helped me relax and enjoy the race.

I decided at the last minute to run without my handheld water bottle. It was a good decision – I’m really glad I didn’t have to deal with carrying anything.

Training on hills really paid off! Some of my fastest splits were on the hilly portion of the course.

I can honestly say that I really enjoyed this run. It was fun to run with other people, I enjoyed seeing the spectators and I enjoyed being pushed by the challenge of “racing”. I felt happy and good pretty much the whole time!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Race Recap Part I: St. Louis Half Marathon - The Race

Whew! As I've mentioned before, I'm not a terribly experienced racer. The Go! St. Louis Half Marathon was only the fifth race I've ever run. One whole hand of races! Woot! So here is the breakdown:

That's me in the Blue - Photo is courtesy of Chad Fisk

Garmin Course Length: 13.22 miles
Time: 2:32:14
Garmin Time: 2:30:59
Garmin Splits (Averages):

Mile 1 - 11:13                                                Mile 8 - 11:19
Mile 2 - 11:10                                                Mile 9 - 11:51
Mile 3 - 11:15                                                Mile 10 - 12:30
Mile 4 - 10:53                                                Mile 11 - 11:12
Mile 5 - 12:13                                                Mile 12 - 12:54
Mile 6 - 10:56                                                Mile 13 - 11:17
Mile 7 - 10:27                                                Mile 13 - 7:56 (SPRINT!)

My goals were as follows:
FINISH. Just Finish.
Not let my mile splits sink below 12:59 (accomplished, barely)
Run Negative Splits (sort of accomplished)
Goal finishing time: 2:30:00 (close enough to feel good about it).

I've read reviews of races in the past and they really helped me prepare. So I'm going to share what I think you should know if you're considering running Go! St. Louis for the first time. Keep in mind, a lot of my experience is on trails instead of roads, so my expectations for amenities are pretty low.

Pushing for the finish

The Good

Bathroom Opportunities – Good job! There were long lines at the start, as expected. However, I thought that there were plenty of bathroom opportunities on the course, and I say that as someone who had to make an “emergency stop”. Port-A-Pottys didn’t seem over-loaded at the finish either. I was impressed.

Water Stations – Great! They were well staffed, there was tons of Gatorade AND water at every stop and they were frequently spaced (about every 2 miles). They also had volunteers/tables on both sides of the road at most stops, which really cut down on traffic jams. There was only one “gel” station, which I didn’t utilize. I use shotbloks, and I carried my own. However, the wrappers looked like they were probably IMPOSSIBLE to clean up, so mad props to the volunteers at that station!

Finish Festival – Well thought out! I really appreciated the “family reunion area” separated by letter. It made it possible for me to find the Grige afterwards without having to carry my phone and without knowing the area very well. The food/drink available was great (though I didn’t have much of an appetite) and the band on the stage was pretty good as well. We didn’t stay long because I could barely walk.

Excuse me, Grige... Will you please take my shirt? It's HOT!
Holy Hill/Race within a race – Miles 7, 8, and 9 take place on a set of rolling hills. There is separate timing for this. I LOVED this portion of the race. The hills were fun (especially going down them), there were lots of people cheering, and the architecture was fun to see (mostly SLU campus). I think they did a good, creative job making a challenging part of the course fun. I didn’t think it would work when I first read about it, but the race planners know their business. It totally kept me from hitting the wall.

Unrelated, but also good – Parking was a breeze! For 5$, we were less than a block from the finish. I was thoroughly impressed. FYI – I know it’s good behavior to take the metro to races when you can, but I couldn’t get that episode of How I Met Your Mother where Barney runs the NY Marathon without training and then gets on the subway and can’t get out of his seat out of my head. That would TOTALLY have been me, complete with old ladies and pregnant women scowling at me. So let’s amend that rule to apply to races under 15K only. Mmmmkay?
Like this.
The Iffy: I don’t want to say bad here, because generally, it was a really well-done race. However, 
these were the things I didn’t love.

Signage – The signs for each mile were pretty hard to see due to their color. If I hadn’t been running with my Garmin, I would have been confused about where I was in the race. The same was true of the signs for corral line-ups – I had a really hard time figuring out if I was in the right place at the start. Additionally, port-a-potty’s weren’t signed at all, you just had to look for them. This isn’t a huge deal, but it would have been nice to have some clarity on their locations.

The Course – The course was really good, IMHO, until mile 10. Then it got legitimately AWFUL. Mile 10 and 11 ran through a really barren, straight, flat strip on Forest Park Parkway. This portion was out and back for the half marathon, so you were RIGHT NEXT to half marathoners who were past the turn around, on the other side of a very narrow boulevard. Since it was boring, all I did those two miles was stare and the returning runners and think “where the HELL is the turnaround, this is miserable”. After you got through that portion, you run down a smelly underpass next to the highway and back up an exit ramp. Not inspiring, no spectators, and generally unprotected from the (hot) sun. Also, no water stations to break up the ugh. Then, the last 3/4 mile before the finish is ALL UP HILL. It’s horrible, because you can SEE the finish, but your sprinting effort is compromised by the incline. Really frustrating and both mentally and physically challenging. Luckily, my running route at home ends with a 1 mile steady incline, so I was well prepared and didn’t mind too much. However, I can imagine this totally killing it for a first-timer who had trained on a treadmill or flat course.

Post Finish Food – While the variety was great and the line for handing stuff out was efficient, they didn’t give you a bag to put everything in! So I’m standing there with my arms all full of pretzels, ice cream sandwiches, bananas, fruit cups, chips – TONS OF FOOD – and I can’t hold on to it, let alone open something to munch on. Annoying, though perhaps it was intentional to limit the amount of food each runner took. If so – well played guys, well played.

And that's where he found me, pretzel in hand.
Overall, I think this is a good race and probably doesn’t deserve its’ somewhat negative online rep. It’s not a “fast” course by any stretch – it’s hilly, but in a rolling, kind of fun way. I had a good time and don’t regret choosing it as a first half marathon at all. In fact, it’s more than likely that I’ll run it next year as well.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

On The Shattering of Illusions

A 1977 Princeton Alumna wrote a letter to the editor of the Princeton Daily about how the young ladies of Princeton should consider marrying young that is apparently twisting up the panties of twenty-something women everywhere.  Sadly, the letter was removed from Princeton’s website (apparently all those brilliant people can’t handle a little controversy? PUBLIC EDUCATION FTW) before I could read it, but I’ve read some mentions and some responses that are cropping up all over the web like daisies.  

I’ve got to admit – the responses are mostly so angry, petulant and self-absorbed that I can readily believe the women writing them are not mature enough for marriage – thus, the letter and its well-intentioned advice is probably not meant for them. What is frustrating, is that smart, young women are still so wrapped up in this myth of “having it all” that they don’t seem to realize that we’re still going to have to make sacrifices. The writer, Susan Patton, is using the benefit of her experience to remind them that the choices that shape our lives often take place long before we can understand their consequences. And instead of being thankful that someone is FINALLY telling driven, smart young women the truth about the choices we will have to make, we are FREAKING OUT and accusing her of pushing some mystical marriage agenda on us. As if that would somehow benefit her. As if. Ugh.

Photo: Summer Jean Photography
Here is the thing: the wage gap exists. Our biological clocks exist. Sexism exists. There are a billion good statistics out there about how women work harder than men both in the office and at home and still get paid less that I will let PenelopeTrunk tell you about because she is better at it than me. And it’s true – as time goes on, the pool of suitable men dwindles, because their priorities are different. Haven’t any of these girls seen Sex and the City? Am I just OLD and out of touch now? I can’t believe that the party line for these young women is to ignore all those inconvenient truths and get angry at anyone who reminds us of them. It’s like yelling at your doctor for telling you that exercising will improve your health.
And then there is this snarky zinger of an argument: "Girls who are still in school don't want to be defined by the person that they might end up marrying," made by Nina Bahadur in an article over at HuffPo, where she is an assistant editor. In addition to blind anger, her comments made me think of an open thread full of smart, married/engaged ladies over at A Practical Wedding earlier this week. The thread is titled “The Surprise Good” and the resonating theme is that marriage gives many of these women (myself heartily included) the support, confidence and empowerment to reach higher, accomplish more, take more risks and push themselves harder. The Grige doesn’t define me, he pushes me to be my best me. And that open thread suggests that a lot of other good marriages do that too. In my world, having a good career is directly intertwined with the support I get from my husband, even if I do his laundry and clean the bathroom.

In my life, stuff like this doesn't happen without the Grige. Because TEAMWORK, you guys. 
I don’t think Patton is suggesting that ALL women should get married in college, or that we should marry the first guy we drunkenly make out with as freshman. I think she is suggesting that if marriage is something you think you want someday, it would be dumb to miss the opportunity to meet, seriously date, and perhaps even marry one of the plethora of like-minded, smart people that are available to you in college, because it just gets harder after that. I should know, I gave out my real, actual phone number on a rush hour train full of skeezy dudes to score a first date with the Grige. If that’s not desperation, I don’t know what is.
Patton is suggesting that we not all bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the perfect person will just show up on a white horse when we’re in our early thirties and totally ready for marriage. Many of us (myself included) will meet the right guy at the wrong time, and part of growing a relationship is figuring out how to deal with that. It’s MATH, ladies. There are outliers – you might even be one of them, so do what you think is right for you. But it’s pointless to ignore the trends. Maybe you won’t meet the right person until you are 50, and that’s fine. Obviously you, personally, should not get married in college. But pretending that’s going to work for everyone? It’s like saying that climate change is a myth because it snowed in April this year.  
So here I am, shaking my head slowly in disbelief. We plan the ever loving SHIT out of our career paths in college. We learn, and we experiment, and we scheme and dream. We have internships, we solicit letters of recommendation and then we go out into the work world and implement those ideas, sometimes before we quite feel ready. But we grow and change in our career paths and continue to learn and improve. And then someone suggests that we might give the same consideration to our personal lives, you know, what we do with the OTHER 16 hours a day, and we all go ballistic and accuse them of trying to stifle our success.

Beer brewing, and other home adventures.
No one wants to hear about the hard choices that we will all have to make. Choices between romance and career goals, between tacos or pasta, between east coast or west coast, between taking that promotion or spending more time at home with kids. But that doesn’t make them go away. At 22, I tore up about 5,000 pro/con lists between the Grige and the Peace Corps, and I finally chose the guy I had been dating for less than 6 months The last thing that I needed after that heart-wrenching decision was a bunch of self-righteous bitches telling me that I was an idiot to even consider compromising my career for a relationship. Well, life keeps right on happening whether you feel like making tough decisions or not. So let’s try to take Patton’s advice for what it is: advice. You can take it or leave it, but you are out of your damn mind if you think college isn’t statistically one of the best social opportunities you’ll have to meet someone to marry.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And Now, For Something Completely Embarrassing

I'm going to share something with you that is really embarrassing. Something that the Grige doesn't even know (I mean, I think he suspects, but he respects me enough not to ask too many questions...). But first - a short product review. It's related, I swear.

A while ago, I wrote a little gear roundup. I shared that I use an iPod shuffle for running. With 1.88 GB of storage and no real selection functionality besides forward, back, on, off, and volume, it's about as basic as they come. Mine, however, is more basic yet. A few weeks after I bought it, I discovered that NOTHING worked on it, except the on and off buttons. I thought about returning it or getting a new one, but since it still played music, I decided to stick with it. Someday, I'd like to upgrade to the waterproof version, so that I can swim laps with it. But for now, I kind of like my broken little guy.

The product review portion of this post is meant to show that you get what you pay for. The iPod shuffle is cheap, and probably not built for the amount of sweat, rain, heat, and cold that I expose it to regularly. However, it's a load off my mind to know that it's only $40 to replace if I break it.

Now, for the embarrassing stuff. Since I can't skip songs, every song I put on my little iPod shuffle REALLY needs to work for me during a run. That's right, I'm going to share my running playlist.

I want to stress that this is mostly a tempo thing, and shouldn't be seen as a comment on my overall musical taste. If you're looking for tunes to keep you moving at about 10 min. mile pace, grew up in the  90's and have really wacked out taste, these jams are for you. You're welcome.

The Good

Girl - Beck
Danger: High Voltage - Electric Six
1901 - Phoenix

Rehab - Amy Winehouse
Down to The River - The Duhks (that's right, bluegrass)

Rich Girls - The Virgins
Here It Goes Again - OK Go

I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) - The Proclaimers
Morning Sun  - Shayna Zaid
Locked Out Of Heaven - Bruno Mars

The Ridiculous

Cowboy - Kid Rock
California - 2 Pac
Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy - Big and Rich
Little Bad Girl - David Guetta
Sugar - Trick Daddy
867-5309/Jenny - Tommy Tutone (yep. TOMMY TUTONE)
A Change Would Do You Good - Sheryl Crow
Where the Party At? - Nelly
Get Low - Flo Rida and T-Pain

Country Grammar - Nelly
Moves Like Jagger - Maroon 5

A few thoughts on this list:

1. There's some good stuff on here, and believe me, it's really hard to find "good" music that is at proper running tempo. I can tell almost immediately if a song is not going to work, or if it is. Like, let's say it's 2011 and I'm watching a Ford Focus commercial. Somehow, I know I can run to that stupidly catchy song, and it ends up on the rotation.

2. If it's not good, chances are it's RIDICULOUS. I don't even know how I own some of this stuff, but I suspect a lot of it is left over from sorority bid day mixes from college. Most of this music, if I heard at a bar, I would turn around and walk right out again. Funny how that works, huh?

3. This is obviously not two hours of music. For long runs, I rotate on the B sides - songs that are fast paced, but not my ideal running speed/flavor. I won't list them here, but it's a lot of The Black Keys, some Rage Against The Machine (a good pick for speed work), and plenty more trashy 90s club music.

4. The only artist who makes it onto the permanent list more than once is Nelly. I don't like to spend too much time thinking about what that "says" about me, but I suspect it's one of two things: A) All of Nelly's songs sound EXACTLY THE SAME and happen to have a good beat for my running pace or B) I really am a St. Louis girl at heart.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Spring Has Sprung (Finally)

Since exactly one week ago, a foot of snow buried my hopes for spring so deeply I thought that it would never come, I want to take a moment and celebrate that it's FINALLY spring here.

Yeah, I like Thug Kitchen A LOT. 

The sun is out, it's 60+ degrees out, and my 11 mile run in the icy rain yesterday afternoon is out of my head. I officially switched out my closet to spring/summer today, so hopefully we don't have any more relapses! Spring colors are poppin' like it's hot in my closet.

The Grige and I took a little trip to the zoo. It was sunny, but the animals were mostly napping. I think I'm about ready for a nap too!

Yoga Birds
This guy is also anxious to lose his winter wardrobe.
So dignified, so ready for a nap

Nice Hair, bro.
Stay tuned for more spring.  I know I will. Which brings me to.... we are officially 7 days away from my half marathon. I'm pretty nervous, and I feel like there just isn't much info out there about the race to help me prepare. I've studied the course map and picked my outfit, but I can't find reliable information on parking near the race course, metro hours, or spectator information. Alas, I guess it will have to wait for the expo on Friday.

As far as other race-prep, I'll be getting up early every morning for a short, easy run every day this week. I'll be following up with yoga after work. I'll start carb loading on Thursday and won't be  drinking any alcohol or consuming any other "empty" calories until after the race. I've been using my foam roller twice to three times a day and will continue doing so in addition to icing my quads. I'm looking forward to putting the half behind me and focusing on the full marathon.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

5 Reasons to NOT Run a 5K

This should actually be titled “5 (Completely Subjective) Reasons to NOT Run a 5K (As Your First Race)”, but that’s too long. So let’s just assume that everyone will read past the catchy title before getting all bent out of shape at me.
The popularity of the 5K race is nothing short of a revolution. I’m not here to argue that this isn’t a good thing. The Couch to 5K program is a fantastic approach to introduce non-athletes to running and to encourage healthy lifestyle changes. I highly recommend it. However, I think that getting too wrapped up in the 5K distance during my formative running years (aka: high school, college and immediate post-grad) was a really negative thing. I wish I had been much younger than 22 when a marathoner finally told me: “I used to hate running too. It turns out that anything under 5 miles just really sucks”.  Of course, I didn’t believe her. If I was struggling to run 3 miles, how could I run 5 or 10 or (gasp) 26.2? Impossible math. If I had been 16 when I first heard that advice, I would have been 19 by the time I realized it was true. So if you are really struggling as you try to train for a 5K, just remember: It’s not you, it’s probably the wrong distance.
Here are my top 5 reasons to NOT run a 5K:
1.       5K’s are super popular. Maybe too popular. I literally can’t open the internet without hearing about a new “cool” 5K in my area. Headlines like “dogs and strollers welcome!”, “We will throw colored corn starch at you!” or “fire pit full of snakes!” are just a few of the “fun” things you can experience. I do not think this is a good way to do a first race. It’s great that 5Ks are easy to find without traveling, but it’s much better to do a race where people are taking it seriously and there aren’t obstacles intended to make it harder than it already is to stay on your feet and moving forward. You will rarely see an advertisement like this for a longer distance, but 10Ks are nearly as easy to find as 5Ks.
2.       Shorter means faster. One of the cardinal rules of injury avoidance is that you can either increase distance or speed, never both.  When you are training for your first race, building the distance safely is pretty much the only thing that matters. This means people are going to BLOW by you on race day at a 5K, which can be a little demoralizing. Those of us who didn’t have nick-names like “crazy legs” in high school will probably want to focus on distance for quite a while (years, even) before we start thinking about speed. If you chose a 10K instead of a 5K, you will train for longer (thus increasing your confidence) and there are likely to be many more people in your (slower) pace range. When I ran my first 10K, I was terrified of the distance. By the time I finished, I realized that my 10K splits were faster than my P.R. 5K splits. In fact, I essentially ran back to back 5K personal records in the form of one race. I’m finding the same thing with marathon training. My pace for all distances is pretty steady; it’s just a matter of building up the mileage.
3.       Runner’s High.  The actual science on Runner’s High is pretty sketchy, but the general idea is that your pituitary gland will release endorphins (which essentially make you “happy”) once you cross an effort-related threshold. Wikipedia ( summarizes that threshold as being related to “long, continuous workouts, when the level of intensity is between moderate and high, and breathing is difficult. This also corresponds with the time that muscles use up their stored glycogen”.  Workouts of over 90 minutes are a rough rule for when you fully deplete your glycogen stores, so it follows that it would be unlikely that one would experience “runner’s high” in a running workout of less than that.  It’s been suggested (like in Born to Run) that there is an evolutionary connection between persistence hunting (when a human tracks an animal to exhaustion) and runner’s high. I’m no scientist, but I have never, ever experienced runner’s high before mile 4 and rarely before mile 6. I regularly experience it around miles 8, 9 or 10, which is extremely consistent with the 90 minute mark in my workouts. I feel pretty confident saying that it’s not likely a new runner will experience a “high” while training for a 5K. And let me tell you, that “high” is totally worth the effort.   
4.       The “Other” Runner’s High: Accomplishment. I suspect that you are not training for a long distance race because it’s something that anyone can do. If you want to feel like you’re doing something special (which can be highly motivational, by the way), a longer distance is the way to do it. I know lots of accomplished runners who constantly give me accolades for running such “long” distances. I know I’m not doing anything that many of them couldn’t do better if they tried, but that’s just it – they’re not doing it. I am. Sure, it’s hard, and I’m definitely still slow, but I go out there every day and put the miles down and it makes me feel really good about myself. Way better than the comparative “instant gratification” of running a 5K.  
5.       The Lifestyle. 5K training did not make me feel like a runner. It’s not long enough or involved enough to elicit the kind of changes that I wanted running to make in my life. I spent a lot of years feeling frustrated that my over-all fitness wasn’t really improving, I wasn’t losing weight, I couldn’t really eat what I wanted, and never really looked forward to running. I truly believe it’s because the commitment needed for 5K training wasn’t enough to push me over the threshold to really enjoying running as part of my life. The longer distances are habit forming – I get so excited for my weekend long runs, I kind of can’t imagine my life without them! I never would have experienced that if I hadn’t pushed to longer distances. The best part is, you can still run a 5K, but when you make it part of the journey, instead of a stand-alone goal, it becomes a lot more fun. You can still run with friends, who are doing shorter distances, you’ll just do another loop when they are finished. And then you can go home and eat a giant bowl of pasta and look forward to your next race.  
In summary, 5K’s never worked for me. I’ll never forget screaming at the Grige while he tried to pace me through the last 1000 yards of a 5k turkey trot after training my butt off and still being unable to break 30 minutes. I really wish I had wasted less of my life being angry about 3.1 stupid miles. My tipping point was a little north of that mark, and I’m really glad that I pushed my way there.
So if your 5K is making you angry, do me a favor and sign up for a 10K or a half marathon, stop feeling guilty about taking a walking break and get ready to be surprised.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Disclaimer: I really want this post to be about my 12 mile long run yesterday. But I already know I'm going to get distracted. I want you to know that I have tried to calm down. I've tried wine, I've tried pranayama breathing, I tried talking to the Grige and my Mom, and I've reached the conclusion that if I am still this angry after 12 miles, or 2 hours and 17 minutes, of pounding pavement, I'm probably not going to relax for a while.

So let's start with the run, and see where we go. I wanted to start early, but let's be honest: I love staying in bed with the Grige for as long as he will let me. I'm building a whole life around that fact, because I am actually a morning person, but it's the only time I get to see him, so I take full advantage. So I dropped him off at studio around 8, and ran to the grocery store, and ate some peanut butter toast and a banana. I actually made it out the door by 10 a.m., which is quite a bit earlier than normal!

I really just want to let that paragraph be, but did you know that I am a horrible feminist because I let my husband's schedule dictate my plans? Do you know that that's what I was thinking about while we snuggled? That I am letting my gender down because I want to appreciate my husband. Yes, I let that stupid article in New York Magazine, which I will not link to on principle, get in my head BIG TIME.

I was actually excited to read it. I think it's so cool that we're approaching a time where women can chose to work, or stay home, or really do whatever they want without judgement. I was psyched to read about feminist housewives, who are devoting their educations and energy to raising responsible, kind, intelligent little humans and to providing care and assistance to those they love. Well, SURPRISE! Instead, I got to read a bunch of barely veiled snide commentary peppered with out of context quotes designed to make these women sound like simpering idiots and make me feel bad about pretty much every single choice I've ever made and will ever make.

And as my anger simmers, I realize that what is so wrong about this article is that it not only pits women against each other, but it pits women against their husbands, and it really makes you wonder what the hell kind of woman could actually win in the world the author paints. It made me feel like the fact that I cooked dinner for my husband last week is not because I love him and want to support him, or even because I like to cook, but actually because I'm participating in some patriarchal scheme that my husband and all the men everywhere have concocted. He wasn't working late, he was actually smoking cigars with all the other bros and laughing about it while I slaved over a hot stove.

You see, my marriage is not a microcosm for all gender roles everywhere. It's actually just a couple of fools trying to muddle through building a meaningful and enjoyable life together. As a team. And if I decided to stay home, or take a job as a CEO at a start up, it would be a team decision, and there would be pros and cons just like every other decision in life. Maybe it would work and maybe it wouldn't, our job is just to find what works for us, which is pretty damn feminist, if you ask me. I suspect we're not alone in this, and I'm tired of making a decision to do what's right for someone other than myself getting read as being a bad feminist. If I start believing that my husband is not on my team, and I'm out here alone fighting for an abstract construct or whatever just out of spite, that's a really sad life!

12 miles is a long time to think about something and not get any more clarity. Which is how I know that this is a big problem. And then last night, after inhaling a bunch of Persian food, our waiter overhead me bitching (and not for the last time) about what a horrible year for women 2013 is turning out to be. I was specifically complaining about the fact that a hotelier in Greece will only communicate with the Grige instead of me, even though we are paying him with MY CREDIT CARD. My tone was somewhere in between exhausted and "what the f*cking f*ck?!?!". And then, at the end of the meal, for the first time in my entire life (throughout most of which I have been either picking up or splitting bills), the waiter handed ME the check. So maybe there's hope. There was definitely a big-ass tip for him.

I think that feminism for me is a little bit like long distance running. It's a mental game, all about choice - how you let people make you feel, which way you turn, whether or not you can keep going. It always makes you hungry and tired, and sometimes, it gives you diarrhea. It's your race, but it's a lot more fun when you do it as part of a team. To win at running, it's pretty much useless to tear other people down. It's not a contact sport. And to be honest, the real win is just finishing for most of us. Maybe I'm reaching for that, but I think it rings true. I should know, I thought about it for 12 miles, or 2 hours and 17 minutes, yesterday.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


One of the reasons I started running was because I was broke as a joke and wanted an athletic endeavor that theoretically wouldn't cost me more than the price of shoes, which I would probably own anyway.

I don't want to imply that this isn't true. It is 100% possible to run with nothing but shoes and whatever athletic clothes you happen to have. But this is America, so you can bet that there is a giant industry built up around selling you stuff for something that you can do for free.

However, stuff is fun sometimes. So I thought I would tell you a little bit about mine.


I try to keep it minimal, but as mileage increases, there's more I just "need" to have with me. I still use my Nathan handheld water bottle when it's warm out, but there are a number of water fountains on my current route, so I have taken it out of regular rotation. 

So, here's the run-down, from left to right:

1. Petzel headlamp. I don't usually use it for it's headlamp function, since my route is pretty well-lit, but I often turn it backwards for the strobe function. It can't hurt, for the one street I have to cross, and the occasional rogue cyclist. 

2. iPod shuffle and earbuds. I love the shuffle for running. It definitely holds enough music for even my longest runs right now, it's light, it's no big deal if it gets wet or sweaty since they retail for around $40, and it clips to pretty much anything. 

3. Shot Bloks. Delightful little chew candies that I nosh on every 2 miles on long runs. I love them, and the Grige steals from my supplies as snacks. 

4. Garmin Forerunner 10! This! This was a surprise from the Grige earlier this week. It's a "lower end" GPS watch (which means it's 100% solid awesome, but does not have a heart rate monitor). I've only had it out on 3 runs so far, but it's performed as expected so far and really helped me work for those negative splits. I'll review in more depth later.

5. Spi-belt. This guy is not really all I'd hoped for. I have wide hips and a narrow waist, and I like to run in athletic tights. This does not stay put at ALL and I have to constantly adjust. However, It's really convenient to stash keys, snacks and phone for longer runs, so I use it anyway. I'm hopeful that when the weather warms up, it will work better with shorts. Until then, I'm playing around with wrapping it around my arm, or buckling it over a t-shirt. 

oh, pasty legs. March is just the BEST.

6. Last, but not least, my foam roller. I picked this up when I started experiencing quad pain, and let me  tell you, it's like being handed new legs after a long run. To use it, you traction your weight onto the roller and then roll over your muscle. It works for calves, quads, hamstrings and IT band. I am in LOVE. However, you have to deal with the fact that it costs like $30, which seems like a CRAZY amount for a piece of foamy plastic. However, the Grige informs me that it does actually involve some "technology" and is probably justified in the pricing. I'll take it, but only because my legs feel so much better. 

So that's the roundup, and these are just the gadgets. I'll be back with more essentials one of these days.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hunger Like a Runner

I never believed all of the people who used to say that they could eat whatever they wanted because of their running schedule. In fact, as a slightly sub-athletic person, I don’t think I have ever in my life experienced a legit increase in biological eating cues as a result of exercise. I have an unbelievably emotional relationship with food, and as a result, I am in the habit of pretty much always restricting my impulses to eat. My natural assumption is that I’m not actually hungry and start looking for the “real” problem – stress, anxiety, sadness, or PMS – before grabbing a fork.

And then, three weeks ago, my relationship with food turned upside down. To understand how crazy this experience was for me, you have to first understand that I hate pasta. I never ate mac & cheese as a kid, I abhor spaghetti (I take my meatballs and red sauce with toast), I’ve spent extended time in Italy and never once ordered a pasta dish.  And then I woke up one morning three weeks ago literally salivating at the thought of penne topped with spicy sausage ragu. I swear to you, I was 100% convinced I was pregnant, until three days later it became apparent that wasn’t the case. But I was still craving pasta, and had started waking up around 5 am with my stomach rumbling and visions of French toast with a side of eggs benedict dancing in my head.
From the January issue of Bon Apetit. Get thee to a kitchen and make this IMMEDIATELY

I made the mistake of assuming that my caloric needs wouldn’t change with training because I had always done 3 mile runs a few times a week. If there was a change, I assumed I would respond to it naturally by incorporating slightly larger servings or by having a snack. As it turns out, running 10-12 miles a week is WAAAAAAAY different than running 20-30 miles a week. Shouldn’t have been a shocker, but it totally was for me. The cravings started when I crossed the 20 miles/week threshold, and no mere “snack” is going to solve the problem. My body is begging me for carbs, and I have to find a way to put aside 20 years of firm resolve against that urge. It’s way harder than I ever imagined.

When you are an emotional eater, re-wiring yourself to respond to your body’s biological cues without feeling guilty all the time is a heavy process. Luckily, the Grige has lots of experience with treating food as fuel, and stands ready to make reservations at Italian restaurants and tell me how good I look when I’m shoveling noodles into my mouth like I may never eat again. What I really notice now is how much media noise there is out there about “healthy choices”, carbs and what women “should” eat (hello, subversively guilt inducing Yoplait commercials!). Did you know that according to available messaging, it is NEVER okay to eat pizza and pie, and that I should feel guilty every single time? Did you know there is a war on bagels???

Clearly, our country has a problem with weight, and much of that could be attributed to the overabundance of convenient, high calorie, low quality foods. But are we going too far in the other direction? Is there any sane reason why a young woman in her ideal BMI range running 20-30 miles a week should feel guilty about eating a giant, juicy burger with the bun still on it? Why do I feel the need to compulsively explain to the waiter that I’m training for a half marathon?

So here is the challenge – I’m going to eat like a runner (because I am one) and I’m not going to apologize for it. I’m going to proudly stuff my face with gnocchi, I’m going to have seconds, and yes, I will have another roll with that, thank you very much. Hopefully, I’ll find my way to a cultural space where other women wake up every morning as excited about breakfast as I do.