Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Big Day

It’s not often that I come here, open up a draft page, and write something self-serving like this. It’s even less often that I actually get straight to the point, and with the exception of this totally unnecessary introduction here, that’s what I’m doing. Maybe, we’ll see. I haven’t thought it all through yet.

Today’s a big day. Besides it being the first of a new month (Happy September), and a wonderful month at that (I see you, fall!), it’s Pub Day.

For the past couple of weeks, or maybe months—who can keep track?—I have been working with the viciously talented Yve Chairez (whom I’ve worked with before on her two books) to create a literary magazine that urges creators and readers to dabble in alternate perspectives. To think differently. To be critical, and to analyze, and to try something new. We reached into our networks of brilliant creators and curated short stories, illustrations, and poetry that met our vision, carried it forward, and connected with each other in ways we never could have anticipated or created by hand.

Today is the day we release Issue 1 of Hellbent Magazine to the world!
If you’re so inclined, I’d love for you to take a look. We’re a micro-publication, so it won’t take you too long to get from cover to cover. But if you’re so inclined to spend a little time exploring it, we think you could find enough Easter eggs to last you as long as you like. It’s free and easy to access. Go to hellbentmag.com to learn more and download the first issue!

And if you like it and are also so inclined, join us on Twitter and Instagram. Our contributors worked hard too, so be sure to show them some love (find them here). Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And speaking of our contributors, one of them is someone I’ve known for a decade and who I’m more proud of today than I ever have been before. His name is Zach Ferrara, and he wrote a book. A good one. I should know, because he finally let me edit it, after I badgered him to let me look at it in intervals over the course of more than two years.Today is his Pub Day, and that’s pretty amazing.
His debut novella is called Hollywood and you can buy it on Amazon for just $2.99. That’s it! I would be so happy if you took a second to pop over and check it out. If it appeals to you, go ahead and buy it! It’s a short novella so it won’t take you long to read. And the more sales he makes, the more visible the book becomes for Amazon’s algorithms and the more thank-you gifts I can convince him to buy me because obviously I’m all the brains behind this entire operation.

(I’ll be explicit, in case it isn’t obvious or you’re a new visitor who doesn’t know my penchant for sarcasm yet: It’s not at all me. I just helped polish what was already a compelling, smart, emotional story.)

Thank you guys so much for allowing me to use this space for whatever I need it for at the time. Today, it happens to be a bit of self/friend-promotion. But I swear, I wouldn’t have brought either one up here if I didn’t think you’d enjoy them too.

So go ahead and happy clicking. I’d love to hear what you think, and so would the creators I’ve mentioned here. Internet hugs from strangers make the world go round, or something like that.

Happy Tuesday! Happy September! Happy Pub Day!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday Sweats Vol. 35: Marathon Training Week 9

August 24–30
Yoga shots not from this week, but I was camera lazy and didn't want two Sundays in a row to be picture-less.
Top right: signs of fall not far away. <3
Monday: 4.15 mile run (9:42 pace)
It's still hot, and I'm still looking forward to fall. But the sun is setting earlier so the cool-down, minor as it may be (was still in the low 80s when I went out tonight) comes earlier. Glad to be back on my regular Monday running schedule, and this run felt juuuust fine.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 minutes)
So I arrived to learn that Donna had called in a sub for today and was, at first, kind of depressed. The teacher subbing had rubbed me the wrong way (figuratively, just to be perfectly clear) once before when he took our class, and I was biased against him. He ended up leading a challenging, inspiring, and really beautiful class. I love Donna and I love her class, but there is a really common theme every single time, and I was thirsting for variety more than I really knew. I'm so happy I became open and let my opinion of him be altered during our time together.

Wednesday: 7.01 mile run (9:57 pace) + deep hip yin yoga free flow (20 minutes)
I was sore after being challenged in really new ways in class last night, and my calves and left psoas (hip) were pretty achy—in that sweet, good way. But sore nonetheless. The weather was SO nice for August though, and I felt so strong and happy on this run, though my pace doesn't really reflect it. Heart so full. Worked in some good deep stretches before bed too. Overall a really great training day.

Thursday: deep hip yin yoga free flow (20 minutes)
It felt like today was the first day in 100 years that I came home from work and stayed there. I didn’t leave for a run, or class, or plans. I did work right up til about 11 p.m. though, but that’s besides the point. All I could manage was about 20 minutes of deep hip work, and I’ve been missing my morning yoga (been oversleeping all week, ack!). But bedtime yoga still ain’t half bad.

Friday: 4.06 mile run (9:31 pace)
Felt good! Felt fast (for lately)! Felt happy!

Saturday: full body yoga (20 minutes)
The plan had been to race through all the things I had to do today, but after the sitting in traffic down to my mom's, getting work done (or trying to) while there, sitting in traffic for the hour and a half back from my mom's, all on 5 hours of sleep and general feelings of bedraggled-ness brought on by a lack of ability to actually feel caught up on anything this week, I opted instead to listen to what my mind had been trying to tell me: slow the hell down and stay put for five minutes. This type of self care that I haven't seen much of lately was just more important than running today. I did get in some yoga flow which I also desperately needed, so it wasn't a wasted day.

Sunday: 5.63 mile run (10:13 pace) + full body flow/inversion practice (25 minutes)
I still maintain that cleaning my apartment—especially cleaning the bathroom—should count as some type of workout. I don't know how to count that though, so lets just skip to the quantifiable workouts. Which, heh.

 I really hate coming here and talking about whatever is the latest way in which I didn't do the best I could do, but that's what I'm doing again today. With lingering feelings of overwhelm from yesterday (just one evening of "resting" apparently isn't enough to regain balance—who knew?) I was out there running in 85-degree heat and 50-percent humidity after sunset and thinking, I don't want to be doing this now. My mind was completely elsewhere (it's a big week—please come back Tuesday to read more about why!), there were other things I wanted/needed to be doing, and running was not my priority. I was supposed to run a distance I have run many times, and I knew I could do it if I wanted to. So I quit. I'm not proud of it, but I also don't care—call it the end of August Angst, blame it on the Dog Days of Summer. It's just what it is.

On the brighter side of things, I had a nice full-body yoga flow and a good, long inversion practice. And that's all she wrote.

Weekly Totals
Running: 20.85
Yoga: 160 minutes

Marathon Training Week 9 Reflections:
Is it fall yet?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mission: Accomplished

A few months back I pledged 10 books for Kels' Bookish Side of Life Reading Challenge, and it's check-in day! Here's what I've read since we last linked:
The Blonder Side of Life

The One and Only by Emily Giffin
This was my first Emily Giffin read, though I have seen (and loved) the film adaptation of her Something Borrowed. I didn’t really know anything about her as an author before I read, but I realized after the fact that slightly-sordid romance was kind of her thing. Okay, this book… the Goodreads description didn’t really prepare me for it. There’s a romantic thread that I was not expecting, though it turned out to be the majority of the story. And it kind of squicked me out. 

Here’s a thing you should know: when it comes to love/romance/related activities, I am a very “live and let live” person. Whatever floats your boat. But I didn’t love this thread and I kept reading more out of morbid curiosity than whatever is supposed to make you keep reading a book like this. Aside from that, I thought it was weird how this book kept bringing up and then barely resolving plot points, and there were some places where delicate matters (i.e. death, mourning, and sexual assault) were touched on so haphazardly that I would have preferred she didn’t attempt it at all. Keep it light if you can’t do “heavy” well.

All that said? It wasn’t a bad read. I finished it, and I was interested throughout. It’s not a great work of literature, but if you need something for a flight or the beach, it’ll do.

Recommend? — If you don’t have anything better to read, sure. 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
I absolutely flew through this book. I’ve seen it recommended by bloggers a few times before, but I was just never sold by the Goodreads description or the reviews I’d read. I decided to go for it out of convenience and I really loved it. In a lot of ways it was completely not what I expected it to be. I was pleasantly surprised by the plot, writing, and storytelling throughout.

Recommend? — Hands down!

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
This was my second Jojo Moyes read (Me Before You the first) and I’m hesitant to be honest about how long it’s taken me to read. I like it, but for whatever reason it can’t keep me for more than a few pages at a time. It’s weird—I always look forward to getting time with it at the end of the day or on my lunch breaks, but I don’t have trouble putting it down. It’s weird. Anyway, it’s one of those books that’s just a good read. Do you know what I mean? It wasn’t amazing, it didn’t change my life, the story wasn’t ground-breaking, and the writing didn’t make me stop and take notes. It was just a book, and it was good and I’m glad I read it.

Recommend? — Yes!

The First Bad Man by Miranda July
I just started this but I’m tearing through pretty quickly. Before I started I wasn’t quite able to land on what this book was about (although that may be because I have this bad habit of not really reading Goodreads descriptions; I really just skim them and hope something sticks.). I’m still not totally sure, but it is listed as humor and so far I’m enjoying it, even if I don’t really have as good an idea as I would like about what the hell is going on.

Recommend? — Let me get back to you on that. But as of now, yes, if it appeals to you whatsoever. 

*UPDATE. I don't know what's the matter with me, but I forgot to add one book in this post originally, so here's another I read this month.

Landline by Rainbow Rowell
This is another on I absolutely flew through. I was a little hesitant when the not-quite-normal part of the storyline picked up, but it didn't bother me. And by the end I reached a place I don't normally reach in works of fiction: I didn't care if it made real-life sense, and just enjoyed it for what it was. I thought the protagonist was very well-rounded, real, and complex, and I genuinely liked her, despite obvious flaws. I was always anxious to get back to reading this one (for the whole two days it took me) and was all woe-is-me when it ended before I was ready to move on to new characters.

Recommend? – Undoubtedly!

And so with that, I’ve successfully completed the Bookish Side of Life Reading Challenge! I anticipated I’d make time to read 10 books from the start of summer through the end. Thank you to Kels for hosting and giving me a reason to tear through some reads this summer. Did you meet your goal?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Bugs Will Bite Your Ears & Other Important Running Things

Happy Training for Tuesday! Thank you for allowing me the pass I really needed last month. I missed coming here and sharing some deep, meaningful, profound knowledge (in case your sarcasm detector is broken, let me help you: I'm being sarcastic, because all I talk about is nonsense and not profound in the slightest) with you wonderful readers and link-uppers. It was a weird transitional time, and I'm still in a transitional phase now (that's another post for another day), but I'm trying to get back on track.

Speaking of on track, I don't know if you know this, but I'm training for my first full marathon. I know, news to everyone, right? In that time I've learned some really valuable, important lessons I thought I should share with you all today. Because you know what they say: If you had to sign a confidentiality agreement before running a marathon, nobody would do it.*
*For the record, I don't agree with this and I think people who say it are needlessly snarking on runners for no good reason at all.

Welp, now that I've started us off on a sufficiently awkward note:
1. Friday night long runs make the most sense for me. The order of my runs is pretty arbitrary in comparison to what my spreadsheet says, but I've worked out a schedule mentally that seems to be working well around summer weather and all the events, trips, and other scheduled events I've had to work around. Friday night long runs feel really good, and the shuffling I've done to make those possible makes sense for my schedule.

With the exception of race days, I'm really not a morning run person—I'm not programmed to get up before the sun, just like I'm not programmed to fall asleep before 90% of the hemisphere is in REM. I know a lot of people are big fans of the early Saturday long run, but this order just works for me, at least for now.

2. Starting the week on a "speed workout" (i.e. me just trying to run kinda fast-ish for a short distance) is the way to start strong. Lately most days I've felt somewhat (or very) sluggish, which really is owed to the level of humidity, with a slight assist from stress and insomnia. If I can manage it, making myself uncomfortable on a Monday or whatever day my first short run of the week falls on is fun and definitely sets me up with a more positive attitude toward the week.

3. I love steep, short hills. I always thought I kinda liked them, but no. I love them. For a few reasons: (a) What goes up must come down, (b) It's a great glute and calf workout that I can always benefit from, (c) Nothing feels as good as the first ten feet of de-elevation after a steep climb, (d) The mental fist-pumping and chest-pounding that gets me up that hill is a serious celebration in the noggin.

4. Peanut butter before a run = death. I know, I never thought this would be the case. I run for peanut butter. I mean, sure, cardio health, to help me quit smoking, to feel the best I've ever felt in my body I've ever felt, yadda yadda yadda...all that stuff too. But it's mostly about the Skippy Extra Chunk. Except that apparently if I eat PB before I run, I'm guaranteed a right side stitch that just won't quit and a miserable time on the road.

5. GU is good. Huma is bad. GU was a hurdle for me at first, but I learned that it goes down a lot easier when I gulp it down with water before my mouth can even register that it's full of, literally, flavored goo. (Plus, it really does give me an energy boost that the fruit snacks I usually take on long runs just doesn't do.) Huma, on the other hand, is the exact same reason I cannot drink smoothies made from fruit with tiny seeds (like strawberries or raspberries): unwelcome texture in what should be a completely smooth experience. I tried a Huma gel on the run, had an awful flashback to being a kid and accidentally eating a yogurt with fruit lumps in it, and chucked it in the trash. Bye, Felicia.

6. I can break my own records any damn time I please. It doesn't have to be during a race. It doesn't have to be in the perfect weather. It doesn't have to be with other racers or a running buddy nearby giving me a motivation boost. I can break my distance PR on a regular old Friday night if that's what I want to do.

7. It's impossible to accurately determine what is a "hilly road" until you run it. I never thought much about it, but I just sort of took it for granted that Cape Cod—at least, the part of it my grandparents live in/my family vacations in—was flat. I'm here to tell you, friends, that no...no it's not. Not when you're running it, it's not.

8. Legs up the wall is the best way to end the day. Any day. Before a long run. After a short run. A day after a long run when you're still in recovery. Just throw 'em on up there.

9. The best time to go to the beach is the day after a long run. I've been so lucky twice this summer to ever-so-conveniently nurse post-run aches by swimming in wavy water, and I'm convinced that both times it meant quicker recovery. Not sure I'll handle this in November....

10. On a muggy July evening, if I don't put bug spray on literally every single inch of exposed skin, I will come home from a run with as many bug bites as nature can manage. On the backs of my ears.
_____________________________________

alyssagoesbang
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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Sweats Vol. 34: Marathon Training Week 8

August 17–23

Monday: tight hip yoga (11 minutes)
This one just doesn't ever stop feeling amazing, and any time spent in hip openers after a long run is time well spent.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 minutes) + 3.33 mile run (10:20 pace)
Amazing class tonight, and I needed it desperately. It was a frustrating day—waiting on bated breath for some life-changing news, plus endless irritations, plus being surrounded by people who don't know how do to their jobs—and I was so antsy and crabby before I walked in there. I left it all on the mat tonight and felt free for the first time all day.

My run, though, was a different story. From 20 steps in, I had a stitch in my right side, my legs felt like lead, my chest felt tight, and somehow I was running head-on into the wind in both directions. Water didn't help, slowing down didn't help, breathing through it didn't help. I reverted back to my crabbiness and—ready?—almost cried because I was so angry at the wind. (And no, there are no hormonal imbalances involved. Just the downside of high sensitivity.)

Wednesday: hamstring yoga (13 minutes) + 4.1 mile run (10:28 pace)
The day after Donna and a day to feature running must start with some lower body work. I love this one. This run, I did not love. Again. I ran between thunderstorms—so, with humidity and wind. I wanted to run 7, but I decided to swap that to Sunday once I realized after less than a quarter mile that my chest still felt like the giant troll from Harry Potter was sitting on my chest.

Come onnnn, fall.

Thursday: balancing flow (15 minutes)
I slept through any chance of a morning practice (could not wind down last night to save my life) and then got some bad news in the afternoon. I carved out time for a quick evening practice and focused on two things I desperately need right now: balance and openness. Flowed through some lovely standing heart-opening postures (dancer/standing bow, chair) and tried to wring it all out onto my mat.

Friday: hip opener flow (13 minutes) + 15.02 mile run (10:34 pace)
Back on track. Started the day open and ready. Haven't followed this video in a long time so I'd forgotten all of it. It's a fun flow!

So here it was. My first distance PR since my first half marathon—last October! And the first of many over the next few weeks. It was challenging and I ended up sore and as I write this I'm a bit cross-eyed, but it was so worth it. It felt so good. I ran less than one minute slower than my worst half marathon time, which is a weird metric but one that makes sense for me so just go with it. I took three little .10-.15 mile walk breaks—you would too if you saw the hills in my town—and left the watch running during two water fountain refill stops. I hit a sweet runners high around mile 8, just after hitting the halfway point, and it really carried me through to mile 14. Then another runner who passed me and stayed on the course I was running all the way home carried me the rest of the way, unbeknownst to him of course. And now I have to stop writing this and get in the shower because my skin is sticky and gritty with sweat and road dust.

Saturday: active rest
After my long run, I jumped in the car and drove down to Delaware for a little beach weekend with some friends. I had no formal practice today but probably spent about 30 minutes in various stretches and postures, plus we went swimming for a bit and walked a decent amount.

Sunday: rest
I hate traffic. My three-hour drive home turned into an almost-five-hour drive, so my grand plans to finish out the weekend with my remaining 7 miles were dashed. This weekend was the first time in ages I ditched my planner and to do list, and I had a mountain of trivial but necessary tasks waiting for me when I got home. I really did want to squeeze it in but the structure of my week just didn't let me stick to the schedule. Here's to a fresh start tomorrow on a brand new (drop back, thankfully!) week.

Weekly Totals
Running: 22.45 miles
Yoga: 127 minutes

Don't forget, this Tuesday is the final Training for Tuesday of summer! Link up your stories of success, tales of woe, training plans, clean eating endeavors, and whatever else you're doing to get fit, stay fit, and/or reach your training and wellness goals. Tracy and I can't wait to see what you're training for!