Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When this book came out, I wanted to read it. Then I read a piece about the author and found her insufferable (the name change really does nothing for me). Then I started to read the book anyway and had flashbacks about Eat, Pray, Love (which I couldn't finish because I hated the author so much), so I stopped.

All that said, on a whim, I saw the movie where I felt a little more empathy toward the author, so I decided to give the book another shot. And I'm glad I did. I enjoyed most of the book -- which was better than the movie. I'm a little embarrassed at the connection I felt to this 20-something who was totally lost. I've never done the things she's done, and I mentally shouted "Just get over it!" many, many times. (People die and people move on, that's just the way it is.) Yet I still read the entire book, rather quickly compared to how often I've been reading.

I'm now a fan of Cheryl Strayed, although I still hate her name. Also, I learned that it's Pacific CREST Trail and I now feel stupid.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Review: Dear Daughter

Dear Daughter
Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was kind of an unsatisfying read. The mystery and the characters felt undeveloped and rushed. I read the whole thing, rather quickly for me these days, but I was also just trying to get through it.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

NFIM Training - Weeks 9 and 10

Oops! I'm losing interest in recapping, but I am still doing this thing.

Week 9

Goal: 43 miles, no workout, 18-mile long run, sub-2 half-marathon
Reality: 42.8 miles, no workout, 18-mile long run, 2:03 half-marathon

Monday: Easy Run
Distance: 6 miles
Time & Pace: 59:22 (9:53)
Shoes: Adidas Glide Boost

Tuesday: Easy Run
Distance: 3 miles
Time & Pace: 28:36 (9:32)
Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 3

Tuesday: 5k Training Group
Distance: 3 miles
Time & Pace: whatever
Shoes: New Balance 890

Wednesday: Mid-Distance Run
Distance: 9 miles
Time & Pace: 1:28 (9:46)
Shoes: Adidas Glide Boost

I ran from the store to meet the group for its 3-mile run. Unfortunately I didn't bring a gel and didn't eat anything beforehand, so the last couple of miles were pretty awful. I got through them (slowly) and was pretty happy overall. The run included a couple of miles on trails so the fact that I kept my pace below 10 (trails and the last 2 miles over 10) is good.

Thursday: Off

Friday: Off

Saturday: 5k Training Group Run
Distance: 3.5 miles
Time & Pace: 45 minutes (12:51)
Shoes: New Balance 890

This was "the hill," I ran up it and then ran/walked down. Not a bad shakeout run.

Sunday: Long Run
Distance: 18 miles
Time & Pace: 2:55:18 (9:44)
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5

So the sub-2 didn't happen, but 18 miles at a sub-10 pace is pretty damn good.

A friend and I met to do 5 miles beforehand. That is a LONG warmup. About half of that would have been better. The plan for the half was 9:10 for the first 8 miles and then to drop the pace for the last 5. I totally failed at that. I ended up running the race at a 9:15ish pace, and that is fine by me. I couldn't seem to find another gear, but I was 1 second slower than my PR from May. So solid.

Week 10

Goal: 45 miles, no workout, 20-mile long run
Reality: 45 miles, no workout, 20-mile long run

Monday: Off
I decided a rest day made sense after the effort of the half-marathon and long run.

Tuesday: Easy Run & 5k Training Group Run
Distance: 7 miles
Time & Pace: not sure (sub-10 for the first 4)
Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 2

I met a couple of friends for an easy 4 before the group run. Surprisingly, my legs still worked.

Wednesday: Mid-Distance Run
Distance: 9 miles
Time & Pace: 1:31 (10:06)
Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 3

I was NOT recovered from Sunday, and it was pouring for the first 4 miles or so. AND I did "the hill" although I was not capable of running the entire thing like I usually can. Given Friday's long run, I felt like it was fine to take it easy.

Thursday: Off

Friday: Long Run
Distance: 20 miles
Time & Pace: 3:25 (10:15)
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5 (second pair)

Oh.My.Gosh. I was pretty proud of myself for this run. I took it easy, didn't stop much and just kept moving. I did finish with a 9:35 mile, so that's encouraging. I truly felt like, if I had to, I could have found another 10k. I am confident that I can complete a marathon. I hope future long runs are as successful.

Saturday: 5k Training Group Goal Race
Distance: 4 miles
Time & Pace: 40ish minutes
Shoes: New Balance 890

What a great morning! I ran with a girl from the group who was doing her first 5k, and we came in under 30 minutes! The course was short, but who cares? Then the other coach and I ran the rest of the group in. It was fantastic!

Side note here: The 890s are dead.

Sunday: Easy Run
Distance: 5 miles
Time & Pace: 49:22 (9:52)
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara 5 (first pair)

We had a wedding Saturday night, so after a family brunch, we headed out for an easy 5 miles. I didn't feel that great (full!) and those Kinvaras are pretty dead (not even 200 miles on them). It's a little depressing that the Kinvaras don't last very long for me, but oh well -- I like 'em.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Shoes, shoes, shoes

I have a lot of shoes now, and I've been running in most of them. I used to be a die-hard Brooks PureFlow fan, but I don't care for the update on the 3s. My 3s have 130 miles on them, somehow, and I also scored a pair of the 2s, which used to be my favorite shoe. Those have 115 miles on them.

They're not my favorite shoes anymore. My favorites are my Saucony Kinvara 5s and Newton Distance IIIs (I like the looser fit), but I thought I might need more cushion for the higher mileage. I got a pair of Adidas Glide Boosts, and they feel pretty good.

But I think they're hurting me.

I'm used to 4mm drops, and the Glide is 10mm. A weekly run in them is probably okay, but putting more miles on them seems to hurt my calves and, thus, my Achilles. It's very disappointing because I was hoping to use them to lengthen the life of my Kinvaras. I think I might want to run the marathon in them, but I wonder if I shouldn't try something with a little more cushion.

But I love the Kinvaras. I should probably stick with them for this training cycle. I think I know too much about shoes, and it's clouding my judgment, if that's possible. I'm sure I'm overthinking things (no surprise there). So I'll wear the Kinvaras for the River Run.

And I do have a plan for the River Run/18-miler.

Miles 1-5: very, very easy warmup (10:30s or slower, hopefully)
Miles 1-8 of the race: controlled and comfortably hard, around 9:10 pace
Miles 9-13.1 of the race: go for it and start dropping the pace, hopefully end with sub-8 miles

Cross your fingers! I'm taking today and tomorrow off, and I'll run/walk with the 5k group for its 3.5 miles Saturday morning. I should be well-rested and ready to go for Sunday, right?!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

River Run Half-Marathon

So I'm running the River Run Half-Marathon again. It's this Sunday, and it will be part of my 18-mile long run.

It will also be another attempt at a sub-2.

I'm trying to think positively and believe that I can do it. I've been running okay since the Parkersburg half, so I'm hopeful. I'm front-loading my runs this week so I can take off Friday. Saturday will be an easy 3.5 miles with the 5k training group, and Sunday will be my fourth half-marathon of 2014.

The River Run was my first half-marathon way back in 2011. Reading the recap is kind of funny. I was so serious about the 13.1 miles. I also did the race 2012, and I remember starting out too fast and just going with it. I kind of forgot how much I slowed down at the end though.

(Note to self: Even if you don't record anything else in this stupid blog, do more race recaps. It's good to see them after the fact.)

For this race, I'm also trying something else: I'm not drinking the rest of the week. I had two beers yesterday, and I won't drink again until probably Sunday night. If it's successful, it will likely be a strategy I employ for the marathon as well (probably two weeks for the marathon, which is 53 days away -- not ready!).

NFIM Training - Week 8

Goal: 41 miles, no workout, 16-mile long run
Reality: 41.75 miles (includes 1 mile of walking), no workout, 16.25-mile long run

Monday: Easy Run
Distance: 3.5 miles
Time & Pace: 34:28 (9:50)
Shoes: Adidas Glide Boost

Just an easy run to start out the week. I ran a mile in the park and the rest of it in the neighborhood. I felt okay, not good or bad.

Tuesday: Easy Run w/ Fast Finish
Distance: 8 miles (w/ half-mile walk afterward)
Time & Pace: 1:18:43 (9:50)
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara

I couldn't seem to figure out what I wanted to do with this run. I was going to do 8 miles from the house, and that just seemed awful. I moved over to the towpath, and I still couldn't decide what distance I wanted to do. As I kept running, I still felt okay and ended up doing the 8 miles. When I was finishing up the run, I decided to run the last mile hard. I finished in 9 minutes, and I felt okay. I feel like finishing fast should be my thing. The way I ran, I ended up hitting 8 miles about a half-mile from the car, which was perfect. Not a bad morning.

Tuesday: 5k Training Group
Distance: 2 miles
Time & Pace: NA
Shoes: New Balance 890

Not much to say about this run. I ran the first mile and ran/walked the second mile. It was extremely humid on Tuesday, so I was glad that I wasn't running hard that night.

Wednesday: Easy Run
Distance: 5 miles
Time & Pace: 45:00 (9:00)
Shoes: Adidas Glide Boost

It was less humid, so that was a relief. I took it easy for the first 2.5 miles, and I really picked it up for the second half. I negative-split the run, and I know my last mile was 8:15, which is probably the fastest mile I've run in August.

Thursday: Easy Run
Distance: 3 miles
Time & Pace: 29:50 (9:56)
Shoes: Asics Gel Lyte

Just a 3-miler before work. I won't go into details right now, but there have been feline issues in the house this week, so I was up early this morning. I still ended up getting to work about 10 minutes later than I wanted to. (I wrote this on Thursday, so I'll do another post about the kitties, and it might even publish before this recap does!)

Friday: Off

Saturday: Long Run
Distance: 16.25 miles
Time & Pace: 2:38:46 (9:46)
Shoes: Adidas Glide Boost

This run was GREAT. Seriously, I have no complaints. I met a friend at 6:30 am to get in 7+ miles before the group's 9 miles. I was really steady around a sub-10 pace, and I dropped the pace a bit for the last 3 miles. Pretty much a negative split.

Sunday: Easy TM Run
Distance: 3 miles (+ .5 walking)
Time & Pace: 30 minutes (10:00)
Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 2

The weather was iffy, and I only had 3 miles so I headed to the basement treadmill for some tv watching while I ran. Nothing too exciting, but all good.

Friday, August 29, 2014


Not much to update on Duncan, but I figured I would update a little.

He was normal last night, maybe a little twitchy? But honestly he's always a weird cat, so it's hard to say if we're seeing more weirdness than normal or if we're projecting after yesterday's episode.

I called the vet this morning, and I talked to one of the techs. She said that since his appetite is normal and he's acting normally right now (no diarrhea or vomiting, regular activity levels), I don't need to bring him in. Just keep an eye on him and watch for any changes. I'm keeping a log, so hopefully yesterday's episode is the only one!

Although honestly, I do expect another episode at some point and a vet visit sooner than later, but maybe he'll just be mild and weird his whole life :)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Feline Drama

This week has been all about the kitties.

Valentino: Last Friday, he started sneezing and had watery eyes and generally didn't seem to feel well, although his appetite was fine. We monitored the situation over the weekend, and if he'd deteriorated or lost his appetite, we would have taken him to the emergency vet. However, we figured it was a cold or allergies and nothing to worry too much about. On Monday, he still wasn't better, so I called the vet's office and they wanted me to bring him in.

And... it's allergies! But the vet counted it as his annual exam so it was fine. The doctor examined him and found no sign of infection. They told me to give 2 mg of the active ingredient in Chlor-Trimeton (that's half of a pill) every 12 hours while symptoms present. I also brought up his clicking paws, and he's now on a joint supplement treat (two times a day for four to six weeks, then one a day).

Valentino was easy. Duncan's new issue probably isn't.

Early this morning, Aaron woke me up because Duncan was running around crazy, furiously biting and licking his arms and flank at times. His eyes were dilated; he seemed like he was on drugs. These are all signs of hyperesthesia.

He wasn't aggressive, didn't respond negatively to touch, wasn't vocal, didn't have rippling skin, wasn't twitchy, which are other, very common signs of hyperesthesia. So although he's not showing all of the signs, I think chances are good that he has it. It tends to affect younger cats, between 1 and 5 years of age, and it's unclear how it happens. Petting, especially along the spine, can cause an episode. It's a hypersensitivity thing, and he wasn't sensitive to my touch. I don't know if future episodes will get worse and include those sorts of symptoms.

After a couple of hours, it was kind of like Duncan crashed. He slept, became calmer, although it took quite a while for his eyes to go back to normal. And then he was normal again: Wanted to eat, wanted to play with Tino, etc.

Update to come later, after a vet appointment.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

NFIM Training - Week 7

After last week's disaster, I want this week to be good! We may be changing up my training, but I don't know. This isn't the best week for me to get guidance on my training so I'll probably just follow the plan as written and adjust later.

Goal: 39 miles, 9-mile workout (5 ins & outs, 9:10 and 9:40), 14-mile long run
Reality: 39.5 miles, no workout, 14-mile long run

In discussions with my coach-like person, we decided to skip the workouts and just run. So I did just that and will likely do that the next week as well.

How am I feeling? Tired. I need to spend a little more time caring for my body. More sleep, better fuel, lots of rolling and "restorative yoga" (legs up the wall/leg draining).

Monday: Easy Run
Distance: 5 miles
Time & Pace: 49:35 (9:55)
Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 2

I had intended to do a trail run, but when I got to the trailhead, I just wasn't feeling it. I swapped shoes and headed south on the towpath. I started feeling hungry, so after a mile, I turned around to go back to the car and grab a gel. Then I went north on the towpath and ended up on the trail for about a mile or so. Ultimately I ended up with 5 miles for the day, including a nice uphill to the trail.

I felt okay, not extraordinarily tired and not all that great either.

Tuesday: NoBo
Distance: 4 miles (2 before, 2 w/ NoBo)
Time & Pace: NA
Shoes: New Balance 890

It was really hot and humid, so I was glad to just do 2 before the group. I was drenched in sweat and wishing I'd brought my handheld bottle for the run.

Wednesday: Easy Run
Distance: 5.25 miles
Time & Pace: 51:00 (9:42)
Shoes: Adidas Glide Boost

This should have been my workout for the week, but in conversations with my coach-like person, we decided to nix the workout for the week and just do the distance. I decided to split the distance so I could run at the pub run after work. It was raining like crazy so 9 miles before work wasn't going to happen anyhow. Luckily I was able to run sans rain. Overall, the 5.25 miles were decent, and I finished faster than I started.

Wednesday: Pub Run
Distance: 3.75
Time & Pace: 35:00 (9:20)
Shoes: Asics Gel Lyte

I feel like that pace is false because there are so many stops during the pub runs, but regardless, K and I ran it quickly. Felt good, although it was definitely a positive split run.

Thursday: off

Friday: Long Run
Distance: 14 miles
Time & Pace: 2:24:30 (10:19)
Shoes: Saucony Kinvara

Ah, this run. I met two friends for this run. One was doing 20 miles, and the other was doing 13. The person doing 20 ended up with 15. I did cover the 14 miles, but the last 4 to 4.5 miles were brutal. My pace fell off dramatically, and I ran/walked the last 2.5 miles. Not my greatest performance, but it was super-humid.

Saturday: 5k Training Group
Distance: 3 miles
Time & Pace: 45 minutes (15:00)
Shoes: New Balance 890

Pace doesn't matter for these runs. Typically, I run half of it and then run/walk the second half. We did the hill, which was a little bit of a shock for the group. It went relatively well though.

Sunday: Easy Run
Distance: 4 miles (w/ half-mile walk after)
Time & Pace: 39:00 (9:45)
Shoes: Brooks PureFlow 3

This was just an easy run from Aaron's dad's house. I ran into the nearby Metropark because I was wanted the shade. It was mid-afternoon after I'd eaten lunch and had a latte. I can't complain about my pace because it was just fine. I actually felt okay even though I was full and didn't bring any water. I ended with a half-mile walk afterward, which felt pretty good.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 Parkersburg Half-Marathon Race Recap

This race was so embarrassing that I don't really want to do a recap, but I think I need to.

Goal: 16 miles with 13.1 miles at 9 to 9:05 pace
Reality: 16 miles with 13.1 miles at 9:48 pace (which was also the overall pace of the run)

GIANT FAIL. But let's backtrack.

6am: Alarm goes off, and I get up. Between 6 and 7, I get ready, eat a Clif bar and have some water.

7am-ish: Aaron and I head to the start, which is about 1.5 miles away. This is perfect because I am supposed to cover 16 miles. I bring a small bottle of Gatorade with me with the intention of drinking it before the run.

8am: The race starts, and I am carrying the Gatorade with a few drinks taken out of it. The first couple of miles are just under 9 minutes, so I'm on track. Right before Mile 3 at a water stop, I took a drink of the Gatorade and tossed the bottle; it was nearly full.

Mile 3 is essentially a long hill. My pace dropped substantially, and I was over 9:40, I think. Mile 4 was back to 8:50, so I was still close to being on track. Sometime after 3, I took Gatorade at a water stop, and that was the only time I took Gatorade instead of water.

At the 10k mark, my overall pace had dropped to 9:23, which is still okay. It was unlikely that I could recover and sub-2 the race, but I could still have a good race. I took a gel around mile 6, I think. I should have taken it earlier.

After the 10k mark, I really fell apart though. There were a few times where I was almost crying, and it felt like I was going to have a panic attack. My pace kept slowing, and I couldn't pick it up, even on downhills. My legs were spasming during this time too.

I was trying to figure out how I could run off the course, still get in my 16 miles and get back to the house. I don't know the area nearly well enough to do that, so I kept trucking.

Mile 12 is a pretty big hill, and I took a second gel right before the hill. It was too late. I stopped and walked for about 30 seconds, maybe 45 seconds. Then I felt really bad about myself and started running again. It was pathetic, and that mile clocked in around 11 minutes.

The last mile is basically downhill, and I couldn't get my legs to turn over at all. It was almost 10:30. I saw a sign that said "Pain is temporary, but internet results are forever." I wanted to cry. I finally got to the finish where Aaron was waiting, and I burst into tears. It was awful.

I drank a bottle of water, ate a banana and then headed back to Ali's. I ran faster uphill back to her place than I did the last mile.

One thing I know I did wrong was forgetting it was a 16-mile run, not just the race. For a half, two gels and Gatorade is enough. That said, I only took Gatorade once and that was, what?, an ounce or two. Aaron thinks I don't eat enough beforehand and that the Clif bar isn't quick enough energy. Maybe he's right.

But the biggest thing is that I gave up, and I don't really know what to do about that one.