Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Sweats 22

May 26–31
Monday: flexibility free flow (15 min)
No run, but I went for about an hour and a half-long walk today, and something interesting happened. My right hip was bothering me for about the first 15 minutes or so, but after that, the pain dulled drastically with each step. It hasn't bothered me enough on runs lately that I've had to stop, but it's good to know that maybe a bit more warming up is all I need to keep it under control as I barrel toward marathon training.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
So I actually take the only non-hot class at my studio, because I just don't have a preference for hot yoga. But from here through roughly October, there's no such thing as a not hot yoga class I guess. Donna prepared for the first really, really hot evening we've had and kept it low, but I felt amazing all through this class. My balance was on point and I felt strong through every pose and breath. Oh, this class means so much to me.

Wednesday: side body yoga (14 min)
This workout actually kind of flew by, but it's nice for kind of elongating the side body, lengthening the spine, and feeling tall to start the work day.

Thursday: fluid hip yoga (13 min)
This one's a little funky, but I can always use the hip work.

Today and yesterday we had scattered and "severe" thunderstorms...starting in the evening, after it being dry all day. Doesn't Mother Nature know I have to work during the day and run in the evenings? I'll run in the rain, but I do not mess with thunderstorms. I have a strangely heightened fear of being electrocuted by lightening bolt, which is bizarre.
Friday: morning stretchy flow (8 min) + 3.72 mile run (9:42 pace)
Another inexplicable late night=another slightly late morning, so not a whole lot of time to roll out the mat and do the real thing. I moved through some quick sun sals and seated flexibility poses to wake my body up.

This run was both challenging and rewarding. I've definitely lost some fitness over the last few weeks and I need to put the work in and get it back, but I also don't begrudge myself the time off. I've been go-go-go, push-push-push pretty much non-stop since I started running, and I needed to dial it back to pay more attention to some other things in my life for a bit. Luckily all it takes is a run like this to remind me why I bother in the first place. I love running, and I love the person running has made me.

Saturday: full body free flow (27 min)
I tossed on a new slow-flow playlist and played on the mat. I wanted to get into the hips and that really turned into a full-body flow as I sort of matched my movements to the tempo of the song. I like just going with it like that. The sun and the breeze came in through my windows and it was just warm enough inside to break a good sweat. Best way to start the weekend.

Sunday: full body flexibility flow (20 min)
I had plans to run another 5 miles today, but I just couldn't get outside before the thunderstorms and heavy rains. Every time I thought I would be clear to even attempt a 2-3 mile run, I'd hear an ear-splitting crack of thunder with my hand on the doorknob. It's frustrating, but that's New Jersey this time of year. Good thing I'm not technically in training yet, right? ....

So I free-flowed and stretched every muscle I could. Tomorrow's a new day—and a new month, and it will be a good one.

Weekly Totals
Running: 1 // 3.72 miles
Yoga: 7 // 172 minutes

Find the balance. Then grow your branches.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Growing Careless

I like to think that many of us who congregate here have reached or are nearing a place of delightful apathy when it comes to certain things. Part of growing up is growing out of the things we concerned ourselves with as teens or young twenty-somethings, and ridding ourselves of certain insecurities is freeing in a way I didn't know to anticipate.
Photo is not relevant at all.
It's also freeing, I think, to now and again consider the things I would have gotten worked up over a few years ago, or the things that might have kept me from doing something I wanted to do. Like:

Things I've Stopped Caring About in My Mid-Twenties

Having to say, “I’m on a budget” or “That’s not in my budget right now.” A huge part of becoming fully independent for me was gaining more control over my finances and ensuring that I'm setting myself up for the future in the smartest possible way. That means tracking my spending, no-exceptions monthly savings deposits, a retirement account, and a strict budget. It doesn't mean I'm a wet blanket when my friends want to do something fun. It means once in a while I'll suggest we grab coffee instead of lunch or going shopping, and it means sometimes I have to say "I'll sit this one out, but have fun!" It used to bother me, but financial responsibility is more important to me than ordering an appetizer I won't even eat anyway.

Coming home on a Friday night, putting comfy pants on, and never speaking to another living soul again until Saturday. The workweek is long, you guys, and it's even longer when your job is emotionally and mentally draining. Sometimes, the best way to bounce back after the rat race is to hit up happy hour with friends and take advantage of half-priced drinks. But sometimes, I can't decompress in the company of others. Leave me to my Netflix and yoga pants for tonight, and I'll be even better company tomorrow.

How I spend [insert epic weekend or holiday here]. Here in NJ, Memorial Day Weekend is not only the unofficial start to summer, but also the sort of "opening" of the shore for the summer weekends. Starting Thursday evening, you can see a mass exodus of shore tourists and not-quite-locals as they load up the car and hit the Parkway South. And if you're from my neck of the woods and not heading down the shore for MDW, you better have an epic weekend planned up north. This year, I chose to forego the shore for a long weekend of sleeping in, Facetiming, running a local trail, and friend dates—with the only 10 people remaining in the area. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all told of my friends' waterside adventures, but for once I was perfectly content "missing the fun" as prescribed by tradition. (See also: New Year's Eve, Halloween, and my birthday.)

What you think of the music I listen to. Most of my friends are music snobs, and most of them harshly judge my taste in music—and the fact that it's largely unchanged from my college tastes. I don't care. In a month, I'll spend another two nights on the water with Dave Matthews Band and friends, for my eleventh and twelfth DMB shows, and to add another year to this summer tradition. When John Mayer decides to go on tour again, I will be first in line to buy tickets. I will certainly give a listen to anything you think I might like that I haven't heard of yet, but I still like Dave Matthews Band. And you can call them "Dave Matthews Bad" all you want, but I'm still going, and it's still going to be one of the best weekends of my year.

Who most of the people on the covers of tabloids are. Listen, I'm not immune to celebrity gossip, and sometimes I'll even pick up an Us Weekly before a flight or beach day. But I have to be honest, I have no idea who the hell half these people are. If they're famous for being on a reality show (that wasn't Teen Mom or Teen Mom 2) I definitely don't know who they are. I appreciate when celebrity news intersects with relevant cultural happenings—Bruce Jenner's transition, Robin Williams' death—and I'm interested in reading (true) accounts about such things, but it doesn't seem possible for me to care any less about anyone's "post-baby bod!" (ugh) or "secret diet tips!" (ugh) because that's not news, and it's not helpful, and it's actually nothing but destructive to our psyches.

What kinds of things have you stopped worrying about as you've gotten older?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Twinkies & Wine

Confession: I've never had a Twinkie.

(At least, not that I can remember. Mom, feel free to jump in here and correct me if I'm wrong.)

You may be wondering why I'm confessing this. Some of you may not be surprised, thinking that with all the blogging I do about running and yoga and healthy-ing and what not, I don't eat junk food. (I am here to tell you that is NOT the case. I've never met a potato chip I didn't like.) But maybe some of you think that the eating of a Twinkie is a fundamental rite of passage and that somehow my life has suffered because I've never partaken.

If you fall into the latter camp, you're in good company. This was pretty much the reaction Jessi had during our six-hour FaceTime fest this weekend.
So this was actually super early on, wayyyyy before Jessi had had enough wine to ship me snack foods.
I don't remember how we actually arrived on the topic of my childhood snacking habits, but we ended up here: In just a few business days, I will be on the receiving end of a 20-box of Twinkies, courtesy of Jessi and Amazon.com.

I should back up.

On Saturday, Jessi and our dear host today, Melissa, popped a few corks and hopped into a Google Hangout. Melissa had better things to do and ultimately left us—and we missed you, Mel! But that left Jessi and me to a bottle of wine each (hers red, mine white) and six fast, hilarious hours of pretending like there isn't an entire country separating us. We talked love and loss and blogs and beach bags. We demoed yoga poses and gave each other home tours.

And just like that time I hung out with Kristen, and that time I hung out with Tracy, and that time I hung out with Kristen AND Tracy, and that time we had brunch with Carly, and that time Tracy and I briefly met Becky...it was awesome. (Including every moment while we still had Melissa on the line.)

Cut to yesterday when I get home from work to find a little "thinking of you" card and that held more sunshine and happiness that its size could logically hold from Kelsey. A girl whom I've never met in real life, but who took five minutes out of her day to light up the whole of mine, just because she wanted to, and she could.
This blogging thing is amazing, you guys. Sure, there are plenty of people who don't get it, and that's fine. I'm not worried about them. I'm concerned with you guys, my friends, who know it doesn't matter one damn bit what cities we live in, or how many states or oceans separate us, because geography doesn't dictate friendship. People do. And when people find each other through whatever means they happen to find each other through, beautiful things happen. Like these amazing friendships I've formed with so many of you, and that I can't wait to grow further in the months and years to come.

As many of you know, I've been having a challenging few weeks. I'm at a point now where nothing exactly catastrophic is going on, but life is in kind of a lull. Things are good and there is goodness all around me, but there's a bit of a roadblock holding me back from feeling as optimistic and positive as I can and should all the time. But that's where friends come in and help change everything.

So whether we've met in person or not, whether we're just getting to know each other or have been emailing daily for months, whether we live in the same county or across a sea from one another, I'm grateful for my friends.

(Also, I'm super duper grateful for anyone who can tell me what this post title is a reference to.)

Linking up with Melissa on this beautiful Wednesday, made even more beautiful by the combination of Melissa and Channing on one webpage. Go there, you'll like it.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Preparing to Prepare

I try not to say things like this often, but I really can't believe it's already the last week of May. For some reason I can't get my mind to understand that we're in the twenty-something dates, and not the teens. But here we are, and it's time to talk about what we're training for once again.
As many of you know, I ran my third half marathon a little over a week ago. As many of you know, I've shared nibbles and bits here and there about my intent to run a full marathon this year. With no other races on the schedule, even though it's about five months away, the marathon is what's next on my list.

My goal is to run the City of Oaks Marathon on November 1. I have an 18-week training plan all mapped out on a spreadsheet, and the registration fee is in my June budget. I have marathoner friends on speed dial and The Weather Channel bookmarked (because summer training is the worst decision I've ever made). But it's not yet time to train.

An 18-week plan means I don't need to begin my actual marathon training until the end of June. So what am I doing from now until June 29? I'm keeping my runs light and easy and low-pressure, and I'm preparing to prepare for the marathon.

How I'm Preparing to Prepare for the Marathon

+ Taping my fingers down to prevent myself from making alterations to the training plan I found, adapted, and "finalized" already.

+ Sampling Gatorade flavors to identify my favorite. When my training plan takes me to week 10 and asks me to run 16 miles on an August day, something tells me a few ounces of water just isn't going to cut it.

+ Buying more sports bras. I'm going to be training through the summer, and my long weekend runs will have me out for hours at a time in good old New Jersey conditions. (I'll sum it up for you like this: hot and humid.) I will not apologize for being that runner out there in short shorts and a sports bra, because heat stroke is not my idea of a good time.

+ Loading up on sunscreen, KT tape, and BodyGlide. The last half marathon I ran was the first time I realized that BodyGlide is going to need to become a part of my life. Short shorts and sweaty summer runner legs.

+ Building more running playlists. Never enough playlists. What are your favorite running/workout songs? I'm talking like 5-hours long playlists here, help a girl out.

+ Mentally bracing myself for hills. Be the hill. You are the hill. It's basically impossible to run around here without running hills, which is frustrating on a bad day and promising on a good day. Running hills makes you stronger, and I'm going to need to feel real damn comfortable on them before I get to Raleigh.

+ Fielding questions from people who believe New York and Boston are the only marathons. And explaining that no, I'm not running either of those for my first marathon, and that no, you can't really just decide to run Boston or New York and sign up. And then trying to get non-runners to understand that on any given weekend there are countless more races than they can be aware of going on all over the place. We're strong in numbers, we runners.

If you've ever run a marathon, what do I need to add to this list?

alyssagoesbang
And now we want to hear from the rest of you. What are your summer fitness goals? How have you improved since last month's linkup? What's your fitness focus lately? Grab a button, link up below, and share with the class!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Sweats 21

May 18–24

Monday: rest
I ran a half marathon yesterday, so.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
Last week as I left class I shared with Donna that I was running a half this weekend and wanted to request some hip/hamstring work, if she could squeeze it in this class. DONNA DELIVERED, Y'ALL. Such delicious stretches all up the IT band, into the hip flexors, and down the hammies. *praise hands emoji*

Wednesday: full body flow (10 min)
Love this little "jump start" video. Perfect for a morning on a time-crunch! Thought I might return to running today, but my calves were still pretty achy. I'm in no rush, so I took another day.

Thursday: warrior flow (12 min) + restorative free flow (20 min)
Haven't done this warrior sequence in a while, and it was delicious to work out the last bits of tightness I've been carrying in my hamstrings and calves since Sunday. I needed a jolt to get out of bed this morning too. (Yay, insomnia!)

I didn't really intend to take another day off running, but this is really the last week where I can get away with not feeling bad about not training. My IT band is still complaining, the weather is gross, and I had other things I needed and wanted to do more. So that's the way the cookie crumbled this week, and I don't have enough energy to really care.

I did make up for the lack of run with a pre-sleep restorative flow because my sleep has been awful this week. Ultimately it didn't help me sleep but it felt good so.

Friday: rest
Like I said, I didn't sleep last night. Which means I didn't wake up in time for morning yoga. Which means I'm doing GREAT this week. *eye roll emoji*

Saturday: hamstring yoga (20 min) + handstand practice (15 min)
Found this short routine today and it'll be a repeat for sure! Deliciously deep leg stretches are the way to my heart.

Sunday: 4.1 mile trail run (9:52 pace)
So I've lost a bit of fitness. Imagine that, after barely running for the last two weeks?! It's okay; it's my "down time" for a little while. I haven't run this trail in probably 10 months, if not more, and trail running is definitely different from road running. It wasn't the run I really wanted it to be, but it felt good to run.
Weekly Totals
Yoga: 5 // 152 minutes
Running: 1 // 4.1 miles

Reflections:
There's not much in the way of blogworthy workouts this week, but I like writing these posts. In school I was a meticulous notetaker, and as an adult I'm meticulous about record-keeping in my own way. My planner details most of any given day's events; my journal documents the rest. I blog about my life here in part to log these years in writing, and every mile I've ever run is recorded. So even when there's not much worth talking about, I enjoy writing these posts so that whenever I need a dash of inspiration, or a reminder of how far I've come, I know where to find it all.

So with that said, I'll issue this reminder too: I know not many people give a damn about other people's workouts, and that's totally fine! Please never feel obligated to read or comment on these posts. But if you ever want to chat yoga or running, you know I'm always down.
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And speaking of chatting about workouts, don't forget to link up your Training for Tuesday posts with Tracy and me this week! This one kind of snuck up, huh? Whatever it is you want to share—your latest race? Your new workout regimen? A newly-mastered yoga pose? An upcoming race, competition, or other?—we'd love for you to share it with us. Grab your button below and come on back on Tuesday to check in with this awesome and growing community of badass bloggers.

alyssagoesbang

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Absently Yours,

My confession this week is this: you already know it. I haven't been a good blogger lately, and I don't mean that in the way you'd pat a puppy on the head for bringing back the tennis ball. Good girl!

No, I mean I haven't really been good at blogging lately. My posts have largely been formulaic or redundant or unoriginal or boring to those of you who couldn't care less about running. I haven't read every single one of your posts, and some of your posts I've read and haven't commented on.

Looking back over the past few pages of my posts I kind of want to face palm. What happened to my good ideas?

Some are sitting in my drafts folder, waiting for Ts to be crossed and Is to be dotted.
Some are sitting in my notes app on my phone, waiting to be fleshed out and formatted.
Some are sitting on my desk, scribbled on Post-Its in barely legible shorthand.

Why aren't they here on the blog?

In the interest of full disclosure and pure honesty, here are a few reasons why these past few weeks haven't been representative of my best blogging self:

• I had a guest a few times over the last month who kept me deliciously distracted, and then slightly heartsick. There were times in those few weeks where I only wanted to write to him (so I did), or I only wanted to write about him, (so I did), or I wanted to push writing aside to spend time with him (so I did). But now there's nothing else to say about it, so I won't.

• I have been angry, and I didn't want to come here and make you deal with my anger. (I sort of dropped the ball on that one, but I figured you guys would appreciate what I had to say there. You did—thank you so much.) I really try not to make it a habit to hold onto anger, but there has been an ongoing series of triggers from the same people and frankly, I'm damn tired of it. And I've hit my limit, and I couldn't let my anger roll off my back. I had to take some time to sort of privately process some thoughts and come up with a solution. I have now, I think.

• I have been so, so frustrated with work that I slipped into a bit of a depression. This actually will get its own post, but I didn't want to write about it until I had something productive to say. Last week was so awful that I didn't even put a word about it in my journal, where I try to write three things I'm grateful for every day, because I just didn't want to remember anything about any of those days. I've said before that I don't and will never live to work, but when work is such a significant portion of the day, it's hard not to let its effects seep out of the office every now and then. I sort of lost touch with my methods of coping over the last few weeks and let every frustrated, defeated feeling induced by my job cloud my mind and it made me really negative. I don't like being around negative people; I figured you wouldn't either.

• I have been elsewhere. I haven't said this to many people, but I'm saying it now and only slightly hoping that the majority of you are skimming and don't catch this. I'm working on a book. Technically, I've been working on this book for five years, but I haven't worked on it in a very, very long time. I got tired of waiting for a "good reason" to pick it back up and decided the fact that I refused to ever let it go was good enough reason to finish it this year. It's not a novel. It's 90% written. I have cried while writing it; I will cry when I publish it. I have a title; I don't have a cover idea. I need an editor. I don't know if I need a publisher. I don't know if I'll say anything else about this until it's done, but there it is.

But I do have real thoughts to post. They'll come, at some point. Patience, grasshoppers. Stick with me through some less-than-inspired posts and I'll deliver the real good stuff in time, cross my heart.
Linking up with Melissa and Kels, because why would you link up anywhere else on a Wednesday?

Monday, May 18, 2015

It's a Bird! It's a Plane!

Nope, it's just 1,500 runners dressed up like various superheroes overtaking your town and running on highway overpasses.

This Sunday was the American Cancer Society Superhero Half Marathon & Relay here in NJ. And I'll just start with some brutal honesty right off the bat: I ran horribly, and it was my worst race ever. But I'm not bitter about it.
The Race Course:
Beautiful. I know a lot of people consider New Jersey the armpit of the nation, but you guys, my state is really pretty. If you haven't been outside of Newark Airport, I can see why you'd have some other opinions. But this race went through Morris County, about 40 minutes west of there, through beautiful neighborhoods, a farming neighborhood, and a lovely, green park. The course was hilly the whole way, with only a few steep climbs but a consistent rise and fall. On another day, I might have really appreciated it, but on this race day, every small-grade incline felt like Mt. Everest.

The organizers and volunteers were fantastic though. There were constant water stops—about every 1.5 miles after mile 1.75, and they offered Gatorade at three of the stops, which is a lot more frequently than I've seen at other half marathons. There were some long stretches without any spectators, but it was sweet to run through neighborhoods and see families sitting outside, the kids in their jammies, waving to all the superheroes flying by, ringing bells, offering high fives.

The Race Day:
It was beautiful. If you weren't running a race and had any idea the weather was going to be so summery, that is. Here in NJ, we haven't seen summery temperatures and blinding sun for more than a total of about 100 hours since last August. We've had some nice 80-degree days, but they've been sandwiched by rain and 60-degree days. On Saturday, it poured all evening and night. When that happens after a streak of humidity this time of year, it either breaks the humidity or brings it. This weekend, it brought humidity we haven't seen in months. (To the point where one of my cheerleaders who wasn't running was having complications from it.)

The problem with this is that I haven't run in 80-degree weather since last year. And according to everything I've read (and it's definitely supported by my personal experience) it take 5-8 runs for your body to adjust to running in the heat—to cool itself more efficiently, to reduce your stressed heart rate, to become more comfortable in high temps. I run in the evenings when I get home from work, when the sun is starting to set and is not directly overhead, and the trees cool the asphalt enough that it's not melting the soles of my shoes. So I was absolutely not ready to run in this weather, and I struggled a lot.

My Race:
In seven races, I have never, ever, ever contemplated quitting. Until this weekend.

My first two miles were well below my goal pace, at just over 9 minutes each. In mile 3, I pulled to the side to pull off my calf compression sleeves and was immediately feeling better with less fabric on my skin. But I walked the next water stop and felt how bad my chest hurt, how fast my heart was pounding, and honestly got a little nervous. I knew the relay exchange and my friends would be at mile 5, and I thought about tapping out then. I didn't, and instead powered through mile 5 somewhere around 55 minutes.

I'm not going to bore you with all the frustrated texts I sent Tracy, all the times I talked myself out of running another step after this race, all the reasons I told myself I was the worst runner alive. I let myself walk whenever I needed to and took cruel comfort in the fact that I was not alone in this laborious race. Tons of us were walking, struggling, cursing the sun. The volunteers and spectators actually looked like they felt horrible for us in the last ~4 miles. People were passing out left and right, seriously: I saw several people get carried out on stretchers or ridden out on emergency vehicles. It was a very challenging day for a lot of people.

In the end, I'm glad I finished. I met 0 goals I set for myself in this race. I was a baby and I whined in my head a lot. But I finished what I started, crossed my seventh finish line in 14 months, and now I can begin preparing for my next challenge.

Finish time: 2:38:28.

Race Highlights:
In this superhero-themed race, there were TONS of Captain Americas, Batmen (myself included), Supermen, Wonder Women, Green Something-or-others, and the other usual suspects. But my absolute favorite was this one girl I came upon several times during the race, decked out in a tee embossed with the image of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. #nailedit

My sweet friends sat under that sun, in that disgusting humidity, on a Sunday morning when they could've been sleeping in, just because I asked them to. They made me a sign and cheered so loudly for me that I could hear them above all the rest of the race day fans. Their smiling faces helped me pull out every reserve of energy I had and cross the finish line on the fastest legs I had all day. I'm so grateful to them for being there for me! And for not judging me for the insane amount of food I ate afterward.

Now What:
Now, it's time to acclimate to hot weather running whenever possible. (Of course, as I write this, it's about 65 degrees outside and if my legs were working, I'd be dying to run.)
I'm taking the next few weeks "easy" in that my long runs won't exceed 10 miles and I won't be seriously obsessing about them.
But now, I guess it's time to admit that I'm in training for the marathon.

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More on that next Tuesday, when we meet up again for Training for Tuesday! The last one of the month is already almost here. Are you going to share your training goals and wins and stories with Tracy and me? Grab your button and find the details here!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Sweats 20

May 11–17
Monday: low back yoga (15 min)
Nice, gentle, easy start to the work week.
I sort of planned to run today, but I needed to take a nap after work instead. Listen, I'm really not a napper, so if my body's trying to have one, it means business.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
Class was pretty packed tonight but it was a really good one. Donna brought us into the spine really deeply and gave us crow and mermaid, which I'm always happy to have time for in this class.

Wednesday: hip & hamstring yoga (13 min)
Yeah, I do this one a lot. But there's no better quick fix to stretch out the backs of my legs and outer hips when they're feeling keyed up.
An out-of-town coworker insisted on buying us margaritas and empanadas tonight, so there was no shot of running tonight either. I'm calling it an extended taper and pretending everything about this week's running lack-of-schedule was on purpose.

Thursday: hip opening yoga (13 min)
I dragged myself onto my mat this morning and this isn't too intense a video, but it does give a good stretch. I had my chiropractor after work and knew I'd be asking him to get into my hips a little, so my a.m. practice was prep.

I was supposed to run, but I'm breaking all the rules and broke them tonight too. By the time I got home (late) from my chiropractor, I felt like I had been dragged through traffic and was exhausted...in a painful way. It was not a good day and I didn't want to make it worse. Ate dinner and passed out. Good thing I don't have a goal to PR this race.

Friday: quick hip yoga (11 min)
Two days from race day. This practice has some of my favorites: figure four, happy baby, and spinal twists. Since my running has fallen apart along with my life this past week, I figure keeping my running body stretched and open is the least I can do to prepare at this point (no interest in any miles 48 hours before a half marathon at this juncture), aside from assuring myself this "extended taper" is just an alternative race-prep technique.
I did, however, get about 20 minutes of handstand practice today and got some decent hang time! So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

Saturday: pre-race free flow (20 min)
Half marathon in the morning, so some sun salutations, hip openers, and plenty of legs up the wall.
MY GOODNESS I am pale.
Sunday: 13.29 mile race (11:55 pace) – Superhero Half Marathon
There'll be a full recap coming this week, but I'll start with this: This race sucked, and was my worst race by a lot, but I'm glad I did it and I'm ready to move on. Oh and I'll say this: no amount of running this week would have changed the outcome. Thank frog, or else I'd be kicking myself black and blue. Finish time: 2:38:28.

I'm putting this disclaimer out there though: According to CompuScore, my average pace was 12:05. I'm going by my watch because it was measuring long by ~.1-.2 for the whole race, even before the very first mile when we were on main town roads. Also, I weirdly love the cacophonous chiming of all the runners' Garmins within about 3 seconds of one another at every mile.

Weekly Totals:
Yoga: 6 // 147 minutes
Running: 13.29 miles

Pits:
+ My worst race by a lot, and it hurt.

Peaks:
+ I ran over the finish line of a race I almost quit.

+ I got my worst race of the year out of the way.

+ My sweet, amazing friends endured some oppressive heat and humidity to sit around and wait two and a half hours for me to run a race. Their cheers at mile 5 and as I came down the last .1 mile of the race course were the highlights of my day, and I'm so grateful to have had them there.

+ Despite the unrelenting challenge, I'm glad I ran this race and parts of it were actually fun. More on the blog this week.

+ Yoga class was awesome, and I got in decent practice every day.

+ My handstand is coming along pretty nicely. I may be a crappy runner, but I'm One Bad Yogi.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Blogging is Stupid

I'm struggling to post on what's on my mind, so I'm just giving it the old college try here. Bear with me.

It has recently been brought to my attention that blogging is stupid.

Did you know that, friends? Blogging is stupid. I guess we should all just pack it up and call it a day, right?

Blogging is stupid because it's just people talking about their lives.

Aside from the very obvious fact that that's not true—blogging is so, so much more than just people talking about their lives—I have to wonder if there's something wrong with that.

Some blogs are about politics. Some share weight-loss and fitness advice and tips and wisdom. Some share wedding details and wedding-planning help. Some feature the latest fashion trends and help readers feel confident and comfortable in their clothes and skin. Some blogs revolve around food, and share recipes that run the gamut from homestyle comfort dishes to unique and out-there flavors to excite the senses. Some blogs explore important topics like religion, feminism, legislative developments, social justice, charitable endeavors, activism, and so, so, so much more.

But some people blog about their lives. Some blogs talk about the writer's personal interests and beliefs and ideas and hobbies. Like this one, and like all the others I enjoy reading most.

So what's wrong with bloggers talking about their lives? What's wrong with a person taking to a public, shareable Internet space to talk to other people who choose to read what they have to say?

What makes blogging any different than a group of friends having a conversation?

Aside, of course, from the fact that most conversations I have aren't nearly as well-researched as some blog posts. They also don't include gifs, and let's be real, we all love gifs.
Conversations don't carefully organize important or valuable information that people like to hear about and share it in a place that can be easily referenced again in the future. But I guess there's no merit in that at all, because a person talking about his or her life is stupid.

Blogging is stupid because it's exclusively people talking about themselves and not letting their merits stand on their own. This is what I learned this weekend.

Wait, what?

I'm having so much trouble responding to that "argument" because I really don't know where to start. Do we bloggers show up to our Compose screens every day talking about the latest way we were awesome and admirable and urge other people to call us great? Um...no, we don't. And anyone with any familiarity with what we bloggers do in our spaces would know that, right?

But sharing our "merits"—again, what? Sometimes we share our accomplishments with people who care about us and who have been cheering us on. Sometimes we talk about our beliefs in a way that is meant to encourage others to embrace their own, or explore a new concept they hadn't considered yet. We share things we've bravely done and hope that maybe our facing our fears encourages someone else out there to face their own. Sometimes we share something we've achieved because we're proud of it, and what the hell is actually wrong with doing something in this life that you're proud of, worked for, and want to celebrate?

Blogging is stupid because it's just people talking about their lives. But stand-up comics aren't stupid. Novelists and filmmakers who draw influences from personal experience aren't stupid. Motivational speakers aren't stupid. Athletes in post-game press conferences aren't stupid. Documentarians aren't stupid. Essayists aren't stupid. Musicians aren't stupid.

Blogging is amazing because sometimes, it's just people talking about their lives. It's a medium accessible to almost anyone, everywhere. It's a medium accessible for audiences large and small. Blogging doesn't require someone else's approval. Blogging is a tool for exploring new and old interests, meeting people who share those interests, and learning about a world different from your own. It's a tool for forming and building strong, important relationships that would otherwise not be possible due to limits of geography.

Blogging is amazing because people are amazing, interesting, insightful, compassionate, kind, funny, smart, intuitive, creative, clever, and passionate. Blogging is amazing because people who blog don't give a damn if someone who doesn't get it thinks it's stupid. We're not asking for your permission anyway.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Sweats 19


Monday: yoga for shoulders (12 min)
My posture has been pretty awful this last exhausting week so a quick fix was in order to start this week on a positive note. No run today because I'm starting to taper-ish for Superhero Half (on 5/17) by cutting to three runs this week.

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
For the first time, I contemplated not going to class. Bad day at work, another sleepless night, a general feeling of blah-ness. But I went, and I'm glad I did, though it wasn't as powerful a class as usual for me. Meh. Just not my day.

Wednesday: IT band yoga (16 min) + 4.33 mile run (9:45 pace)
It's a run day, and these legs need love. Like always. Plus I just really like this video.

My first two miles were definitely not my best, but I compensated by extending this run a tad. For a good half hour I was making excuses: first, why I didn't need to run today; then, how I didn't need to run 4 miles.... I was just preoccupied and being lazy. My calves are tender—overuse, I think—and need some rolling and compression but I'm pleased I got every step of these miles in today, even if I had to force it a bit.

Thursday: hip opening yoga (13 min) + 3.11 mile run (8:33 pace)
My right hip felt a little bit torqued up by the end of yesterday's run, so I wanted to address that before today's. This video goes into cow face pose, which I somehow always forget feels amazing and I should be doing it every day.

I decided a few weeks ago I would devote my short runs to speed in final preparations for the next race (10 days away!). Today I set out and kinda thought, hm, wouldn't it be cool if I got all my miles under 9:00 today? And then I ran mile 1 in 8:26. And that was fun. And then I slowed a bit in mile 2 (as I always do), but still finished it under 9:00. In mile 3, I realized I might pull it off. And then I realized I might come close to my 5k PR, set last June (26:37). It took everything—everything—I had, but I shaved 5 seconds off that time for a new unofficial 5k PR.

I'm especially proud of this because I'm a different animal on race day. With the crowd to keep me competitive and race day adrenaline, I'm always stronger when there's a finish line ahead of me. So to pull this off after such a challenging winter and without the race day benefits, I have to be honest, it feels really damn good.

Friday: lower body yoga (12 min)
My legs need to be on their best behavior tomorrow for my last long run, and my calves are a bit tight still so I pampered them this morning.

Saturday: 3.38 mile run (9:26 pace) + full body yoga (33 minutes)
So, funny thing about this run. It was supposed to be 10-12 miles. But it wasn't because it was instead a learning experience.
(1) While not everyone does, I do need to take a cutback week every ~4 weeks. I've been going up and up and up and my legs got tired. I didn't listen well enough and my body told me where it was today.
(2) I can blow a planned run and still feel confident for an upcoming race, especially when the planned run probably maybe shouldn't have been planned. It was too much after this week.
(3) A speed run to hit a pace I have barely run in ages actually does take a lot out of me and require some rest or recovery.
(4) I need, need to wear calf compression during next weekend's half marathon.
(5) When someone kicks a stone right into your bare shin as you start your run, it kinda hurts.

I needed some good stretching after that run. The latest from Erin Motz is this 30-minute class on Do You Yoga's channel, and it was just a nice full-body treat. I made a few slight modifications though: I popped into tripod headstand during the first wide-legged forward fold (~10 minutes in) and paused the video to add a running man arm balance to each side after the pigeon sequence. I finished in reclined bound angle, which just feels better than corpse pose for final meditation for me sometimes. If you want a longer but not too intense flow, try this video for sure!

Sunday: rest
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms—moms of all kinds—out there!

Weekly Totals
Running: 3 // 10.82 miles
Yoga: 6 // 161 minutes

Pits:

+ Saturday hurt a little bit, but I'm glad I didn't get so caught up in my head that I let it ruin all the work I've already put in.

+ I wanted a bit more out of my yoga class Tuesday, but everything can't always be awesome I guess.

Peaks:

+ I worked my ass off and brought in a brand, shiny new unofficial 5k PR and it was totally not expected. Or prepared for. Yeah, I'm flying pretty high on that one.

+ Not related to an actual workout, but to my yoga practice in a sense: As I mentioned Friday I was selected as a Bad Yogi Ambassador and I couldn't be more thrilled to rep this awesome brand and its amazing founder!

+ It's time to taper, which means it's almost race day, which means yay! And it also means that it's almost time to take it easy for a bit, because this will be my last race before marathon training starts. Oh em gee.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Favorite Spring Things

Because why not? New season, new weather, new favorites. Here's what's making me happy lately:

Bad Yogi Ambassador
If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably already heard the news, but it's the absolute highlight of my week so forgive me for sharing it again. You guys probably all know by now how much I love the Original Bad Yogi, Erin Motz. I love her videos, recommend her challenges to all of you, and I even took a 3-day workshop with her back in the fall. She announced last week that she was searching for brand ambassadors to help bring Bad Yogi to the next level. Out of over 2,000 applicants, there are now seven Bad Yogi Ambassadors, and I'm one of them! I'll be sharing more about that whenever I can, but for now, keep an eye on things here and on my Instagram to be the first to know about new products, new Bad Yogi swag, and other exciting news!

Bath & Body Works candles are in a league all their own, but when it comes to scent throw and prettiness, this little hidden gem Target brand is pretty bomb.com. I picked this one up during a big Target trip last weekend and I've been trying really hard not to burn it every day so it doesn't disappear by next Thursday. But really, yum. Perfect spring-into-summer scent.

Super Sale Maxi Skirt
I'm a huge fan of maxi skirts and dresses, especially this time of year when my legs have been untouched by sun in roughly 800 years and daily leg-shaving is still not a priority for me. (TMI? Sorry.) Super comfy, work appropriate (in my casual office, at least), and fun to wear. I scored this bright one during that same Target haul on super clearance, which just makes it that much cuter.

I've used and loved Yes to products for years, and am so happy they've started expanding their product lines and branching out in ingredients and scents. I spotted this hand soap (and my Method holly-scented soap from the holidays finally kicked) and my hand-washing has increased by roughly 640% because hello, this smells amazing. Can you make it in a body lotion next please?

Nadia has raved about various cleansing waters and I've always been curious, but I'd never used one before and wanted to get my feet wet with a less-expensive option than the cult favorite Bioderma. I picked up the Simple option (at Target, obviously) and you guys, I am a convert! I'm a big fan of skincare and really like to fine-tune my process. Weekday mornings I use a Yes to Tomatoes gel cleanser, and to wash off makeup at the end of the day I use a thicker Yes to Carrots cream cleanser. This cleansing water is perfect for no-makeup days, weekend mornings, after I've been running and need to rinse off sunscreen and road dust, and I think when I run out of my eye makeup remover this will easily replace it and pull double duty. I use it either mixed with or as water or all over a cotton pad to quickly get everything off. I'm so glad I gave it a try. Thanks, Nadia!
Homemade Toner Solution
Speaking of skin care, I finally used up the last of the toner I'd been using, which really wasn't anything special but not worth tossing or returning. I decided to try making my own and I'm probably never, ever going back. I combined equal parts water and pure witch hazel (like, $1.10 at drugstores) with about 40 drops of Tea Tree oil and I simply pour a bit into my palms and work it over my face after washing/before moisturizing in the mornings and evenings. I have not had a blemish in weeks. My dry skin is so much more cooperative. This insanely inexpensive and super versatile solution (I also dab it along my bikini line, my dry elbows, on my cuticles, and about a zillion other places) is beyond easy to make and has been, for me, a total game-changer.

Avocado Toast
Hello, avocado season! Welcome back! So happy you're here. New favorite (why haven't I done this before?) post-run snack: Smear half an avocado over two slices of toast, add a pinch of black pepper, salt, and onion powder, celebrate the mouth happiness that shall commence. Perfect.

Mumford & Sons – Wilder Mind
Oh, this band. This album. I know some people don't like the sound and claim it's too much of a deviation (I don't agree; I love seeing a band's progression. If you grow in your career or skills, why can't they?) (Also, a lot of these songs are very reminiscent of Sigh No More in my ears...) but I have been playing this on repeat all week. So, so good. Also, watch this video if you need more reasons to swoon.

So tell me what you've been loving lately! Any spring favorites I need to know about?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Don't Look at Me in That Tone of Voice

I have no business shaming anyone for not knowing, but if you don't know, that headline is from Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, because I'm nothing if not cheesy. Let me help you out with the connection here: My soul sister Myra from The Little Aslam has bestowed upon me a glorious honor in passing along to me a Sisterhood of the World Blogging Award.

Love it or hate it, I'm a sucker for a Q&A. I don't want to go into all the possible reasons that is because I'm guessing they'll probably make me sound bad but whatever. This is blogland. We all love a good survey, don't we? And if we don't, I promise I won't be mad if you skip past this post. I'll just cry for days and days and days. But I won't be mad.

Coming back around to the point—just be patient with me, I'll always get there eventually—here are some questions Myra had for me, and which I'd love for you to share some or all of your own answers to in the comments or a post of your own!

1. What is the most frightening / most exhilarating thing you've ever done?
This is honestly tough because for a long time, I wasn't a risk-taker (because being a dumb, highly influenceable kid doesn't count as living an exhilarating life) and then I just started doing a whole lot of things that scared me all at once. Signing up for my first race, my first BIG race, and deciding to run my first marathon this fall were all terrifying and exhilarating. Moving out to my own place ranks up there, as does my first solo plane trip a few years ago (I'm not a great flyer). I'm in a place now where I'm trying to do exciting and scary things all the time, so I hope to only make this a harder question to answer in the future.

2. If you could meet anyone (dead or alive) who would it be?
I'd like to say something really deep and profound, but today the answer is probably Robin Williams.

3. If you could be on a reality TV show, which one would it be?!
I used to really, really, really want to be on The Real World or Road Rules. Honestly right now I'm sure there are gizillions of reality TV shows I'm not even aware of since I don't have cable, but at this juncture I'd go for something that would leave me with a dash of humility and the ability to leave my job. Just being honest.

4. If you could travel to one place (money not an issue) where would it be?
Just one? Ugh. I have a travel list a mile long (who doesn't?) but if it's really just one place, it'd have to be the motherland. I'd go to Italy.

5. Tex-Mex or Chinese food?!
Tex-Mex by a hair. You expect me to give up guac?

6. Would you rather wash dirty dishes or do the laundry, including the ironing?
Dishes a million times out of a million. I find it quite therapeutic, strangely. Ironing is the devil's activity.

7. What's your most embarrassing childhood memory?
Okay I actually do have a number one but there is absolutely no way in hell I'm going to post it here. Sorry. But I'll give you the runner up. In middle school we were put through the Presidential Fitness Test and part of it was running a mile. I couldn't run a mile (as I've said on this blog a million times before), but my gym teacher made us run at least part of it. So I was also wearing those god-awful buttons-up-the-sides tear-away basketball pants. Oh man. Okay so I always left the bottom one or two snaps open so they would flare (it was the early 2000s, be kind) and on this brisk jog around the asphalt blacktop, I stepped on my comically flared pant leg and went FLYING head over ass all over the blacktop in front of my entire gym class.

8. Are you a hot or cold weather person?
Hot weather, except when I'm running.

9. What are you deathly afraid of?
I have a few pretty substantial phobias—spiders, snakes, sharks, birds, most bugs—but the one that really, really, really can screw me up is claustrophobia. I can't even watch people in movies or TV be closed into tight spaces or be under water for too long. Can't read about it in books, can't even think about it in my own mind for too long. NEXT.

10. Would you rather watch movies at home or at the theatre?
At home, 100% of the time. But you'll probably have to force me to watch it or I'll just watch a movie I've seen a thousand times again.

Like I said, I'd love to see some/all of your answers to these too, whether in your own post (consider yourself tagged!) or here in the comments so we can all be nosy on each other:
1. What is the most frightening / most exhilarating thing you've ever done?
2. If you could meet anyone (dead or alive) who would it be?
3. If you could be on a reality TV show, which one would it be?!
4. If you could travel to one place (money not an issue) where would it be?
5. Tex-Mex or Chinese food?!
6. Would you rather wash dirty dishes or do the laundry, including the ironing?
7. What's your most embarrassing childhood memory?
8. Are you a hot or cold weather person?
9. What are you deathly afraid of?
10. Would you rather watch movies at home or at the theatre?

Linking up this confessional with my dear awkward love lady Melissa, because it is humpday afterall.
Making Melissa

Monday, May 4, 2015

My Words: Knell

The sound of your tags tangling above me burns in my ears like metal on my tongue, the bitter, nearly hostile reminder of why you won't be here tomorrow. Until I reach up and slip, slide them over your close-cropped hair and off your neck, they chime like the death knell, hurrying to tell me this is about to be all in my mind.

You press your face to mine—or mine to yours?—and I inhale deep, filling my lungs with the airborne taste of a bold red and a flavor that's all your own. I drink it in like a life force, convinced if I breathe heavily enough my body will become made of yours and you will become the force inside it, as much as you are the force inside my mind at this moment, the driving force urging me to make every move the way I know you want me to.

Your teeth close around my lips and I'm grateful for the excuse, the excuse to keep quiet and stop myself from spilling every pretty and petty thing I know better than to tell you. Your grip on me tightens and quickens the pace of my pulse and it's only a minute more before I'll need to be reminded to breathe—in, out. Inhale, exhale. Breathe you in, sigh you out.

We don't love like we used to. Not each other, and no one else, not for all the life we've lived in our short time and not for all the ways we know we shouldn't, couldn't, never would. The literal and metaphorical spaces between us could fill a thousand galaxies, and I won't dare be the one who attempts to bridge such gaps.

But still, I like to sleep with the clothes you shed from your body wrapped around mine, because even though the scent of your skin will wash away in the minutes after I wake, I selfishly hope the hours spent inside them will absorb your essence into my flesh, and I will carry some chemical version of you around with me long after your plane soars out of view.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Sweats 18


Monday: 3.04 mile run (10:00 pace) + arm balance & handstand practice (37 min)
I barely slept this weekend, and my body wanted to play catch-up this morning. No a.m. yoga for me, and it's crazy how much of a difference it makes in how I feel throughout the morning, especially on a Monday.

This pace was brought to you by tired legs (after yesterday's 8-miler, but if I didn't run today I would have missed a run this week and I didn't want to break this good streak) and, shocker, wind. I thought March was supposed to come in like a lion, go out like a lamb? Still quite lion-esque here every damn day. Anyway other than the resistance this run was good, and my legs and hip felt good.

I topped off the run with a video I found for arm balances. It was okay, but I probably won't repeat it—I like Erin's Crow + Flow better if the main event is going to be crow pose. After that, I spent another 15 or so working on handstand and found this really, really helpful video from Kino, in case you're working on your handstand too. I caught the balance a few times, yay!

Tuesday: studio yoga class (75 min)
Another fun class with plenty of advanced modifications like bird of paradise and more than enough inversions. I love this class and my teacher Donna, in case that wasn't already clear.

Wednesday: morning twists (7 min) 4 mile run (10:02 pace)
This morning was atypical, but I managed to get in a few minutes of split stretches, sweet spinal twists and cat/cows. Even 7 minutes counts if it's all you can manage!

I had another sleepless night and this pace was definitely reflective of whole body fatigue. My calves could have used some love before I set out too, and I took a new hill because apparently today I'm playing the role of masochist. Luckily it wasn't bad enough to stop me, just slow me down a bit.

Thursday: 3.01 mile run (8:52 pace)
Well, I finally slept!...right through my first couple alarms. Not hating it because I needed the 9 hours I got, even if it did mean missing a morning on the mat. It's an exception of a week.

On this run, I found my new uphill/windy mantra: "This is making you better. This very moment is making you stronger." My god parts of this run sucked but I was beaming by the end, even after spending the whole second half going straight into wind. Splits were 8:45 / 9:02 / 8:52.

Friday: slow flow yoga (16 min)
Finally got myself together for a good morning practice. Ahhhh. :)

Saturday: rest
Someone convinced me I was 22 last night and I acted like it was the case so...today was a rest day.

Sunday: deep stretch yoga (20 min) + 10.01 mile run (10:12 pace)
I do believe there is no better pre-run stretch than downward facing dog. I warmed up with an on-the-fly deep stretching sequence—think lots of sun salutations, lunging and warrior sequences, and twists.

Okay does anyone even believe me when I run sub-9 miles anymore? To be honest, I'm not upset about this pace, not at this distance, not on a day like this. One, it was really warm, but that's not the problem. My first 4 miles were ~9:30 pace, and then at my first turnaround, I realized the wind I didn't really notice in miles 1-4 was in full force for my next 4 miles. I tossed in some extra hills for added torture and my pace bumped up to ~10:15. Then after my next turnaround, my weekend of debauchery caught up with me and I took a ~.1 mile walk. I picked it back up, took it slow, and forced a 9:48 (uphill) mile out for the last one. Whew. It was a fun run though, despite how challenging it was in parts.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 4 // 20.06 miles
Yoga: 5 // 155 minutes

Pits:
+ Not really enough yoga this week, but it happens. Like I said, this week was an exception in quite a few ways for me.

+ I don't remember any time in my past year and a half of running when it has been so windy so much of the time. It's obviously a sign of Armageddon.

Peaks:
+ Speed! I have it sometimes!

+ Finding a new running/hill mantra was clutch to making it through a few miles this week. I'll be using that one a lot, I think.

+ I'm exactly two weeks from the next half and really pumped for it. I'm sort of starting to taper this week; my mileage isn't dropping but I'll cut down to 3 runs this week and I have a 12-miler scheduled for the last long run next weekend before race day.

+ Speaking of next race, I bought my race day shirt! From the boys section at Target. $8. Score.


Friday, May 1, 2015

Grammar, Growing Up, & Other Blogged Things

Let me set the scene: It was last week.

I posted on Monday about reuniting with someone I used to be involved with and am now taking a stab at friendship with. The post was emotional and highly un-optimized for Pinterest. It did not contain a pinnable graphic, it was not shareable, and it was not clear who I was speaking to or about. It was cryptic and creative in nature; it didn't ask a question to generate responses and comments. It was one of my favorite things I've written this year.

The very next post that appeared on my blog contained a homemade, pinnable graphic featuring the post title. It was shareable, I suppose. It spoke directly to blog readers and encouraged comments and feedback. It was useful (at least, I hope it was) and direct and readers could walk away from it with something substantial. I had a ton of fun writing it.

Flanking those posts we had commentary on my workouts and a couple of aimless musings. Apparently, in my world, that all adds up to a lifestyle blog. So I was thinking about this after I posted "Notes from Your Editor" and wondering how it makes sense that this followed up the previous post. Like... huh?

I've had a hunch for a while that I'm doing this whole "blogging" thing to the beat of my own drummer. I'm cool with that though. I'm not bothered that maybe one third of my posts are on Pinterest and there is not really one discernible theme throughout my blog. Unless, of course, you consider this one: "I write about my life and the things in it." #nailedit.

I've seen a few new faces join us lately, so I decided it was time to give another little run-down on what goes on here. Because I have too much sympathy to try and force new readers to figure out for themselves what kinds of posts they can expect to see here.

10 Completely Different Topics I Wrote About in April
  1. Being a 26-year-old Alyssa
  2. My week in workouts
  3. Books I've loved and believe you will too
  4. How living alone makes me even weirder than I was before
  5. My thoughts on parents and other unpopular opinions
  6. Thoughts unbecoming of a yogi that I've had anyway
  7. Things I'm not afraid of anymore
  8. People I'm not in love with anymore
  9. The mental red pen I leave all over the Internet
  10. Being a feminist
Now, what can we learn from this exercise? A few takeaways:
  • I'm liable to go off on pretty much any topic I find remotely interesting, without warning and not always with solid planning.
  • I like to sweat.
  • I'm super duper emotional and okay with it.
  • I'm a navel-gazer.
So the next time someone asks me what I blog about, I'm not really sure what I should say.

But what do YOU blog about?