Tuesday, May 21, 2013

My PR's

One of the most interesting things about distance running is that, in spite of the fact that we race all the time, we never really intend (with the exception of a very few, very elite runners) to win our races, often not even our age divisions.  Instead, we are in a continual competition with ourselves, trying to shave those hours, minutes, and seconds off of our personal records (PR's).

This really appeals to me, as I have always had less drive to "win" than most of my teammates in other sports.  If we've played our best and lost, I see no reason to be upset  In fact, the head softball coach I work for an I are good partners in part because I just don't care about winning nearly as much as he does.

So, without further ado, here are my current PR's.  I have listed both official race times and training run times, but have noted which are which.

1K:  05:43 (9:12 pace, during the Rutgers UNITE 8K 2013)

Mile: 09:44 (9:44 pace, during the Rutgers UNITE 8K 2013)

5K: 35:55.16 (11:34 pace, Sandy Hook Lighthouse 5K 2010)
       31:44.00 (10:13 pace, during the Rutgers UNITE 8K 2013)

10K: 1:13:00 (11:45 pace, during an 8 mile training run on 01/27/2013)

Half Marathon: 2:32:13 (11:37 pace, Walt Disney World Half Marathon 2013)

Full Marathon: January 2014!

As you can tell, Rutgers 2013 was a great race for me!  I need to get in the habit of racing shorter distances (5K, 10K) more often so I can keep seeing progress on those!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Magazines I Read

I've always felt that you can tell a lot about a person by what reading material they have delivered to their door each month.  Right now, A and I find it difficult to subscribe to paper versions of magazines, if only because we've each moved several times in recent years.  However, there are some we feel are worthwhile, and others we subscribe to electronically for the time being.  Upon our move this June, we will in all likelihood switch all of these to paper subscriptions.



The Economist

 Since my days as a high school debater, I've been a fan of The Economist as a source of news, both in the world and the US.  The magazine is a British publication, and as a result has a fairly unbiased view of American politics.  It also excels at interweaving American, European, and World politics together into one narrative.  This is a great way to supplement your news if your only other sources are part of the 24-hour American news cycle.



Real Simple

This magazine is a typical entertaining-organizing-housekeeping magazine with a twist.  Rather than containing hints for homemakers, the target audience of Real Simple is working women.  I find this considerably more useful, as it is much more realistic to adhere to these tips for the time-cruched than the elaborate expectations of certain other magazines.

My one concern with Real Simple is that it is chock full of advertisements.  While many of these ads include coupons, it really does get excessive sometimes.  Partially for this reason, I currently subscribe to the electronic version, which has far fewer ads (though also fewer coupons).




I started reading Runner's World about a year ago, when I really started to run more seriously.  Since then, I've been seriously impressed by this magazine.  At first, I expected it to be aimed at more serious runners than myself, but I've been pleasantly surprised at their recent efforts to welcome newbie runners into the fold.

The magazine also make a point of looking at all the different aspects of running, from training and eating, to racing and recovery.  As a warning, I find that the articles are aimed at long distance runners -- mostly half marathoners and marathoners.  While there are occasional mentions of a 5K or 10K, I don't think you'll enjoy this magazine very much if that's the furthest you ever plan to run.



 Whiskey Advocate

Something I haven't yet mentioned on the site is my love for whisk(e)y.  In fact, I have previously considered (and even started) writing a blog solely about whiskey, but it proved to have a deleterious effect on my liver.  Once things settle down after the move and my collection is no longer in boxes, I would not be surprised to see a Whiskey Wednesday cropping up on this blog.

Whiksy Advocate, like Runner's World, does a great job at directing itself to whiskey lovers of every variety.  Whether you're drinking solely for pleasure, or attempting to build a collection of world-class whiskeys, you will find the article for you.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Pet Peeve

Over the past few weeks, one of my pet peeves has been triggered multiple times.  The pet peeve in question?  People questioning what others eat.

To give a bit of back story, I recently lost forty pounds (from April 2012 to April 2013).  This involved attending Weight Watchers meetings, watching what I eat, and training for my second half marathon.  The majority of the weight came off in the space of four months, and I am very proud of myself for that.

Yet, in the course of the past two weeks, three different (male) running coworkers have pointed to something  on my plate and said "You run all those miles and then you eat that."  Frankly, I've been shocked.  Maybe it's the fact that I work with teenage girls daily, but I'm pretty sure my mother raised me never to say anything about what anyone is eating.

I know that my eating habits are still not what they need to be for me to run at peak performance.  But -- and here's the shocker for many people -- I'm also not currently training to run at peak performance.  As far as runners go, I'm a toddler.  Most marathoners will only be able to run 3-5 races (maybe even as few as 1-2) at peak performance in their life.  It doesn't make sense for me to waste that effort now, when the result would be less than what I'll be capable of in a few years.

As Hal Higdon says, overtraining is a much bigger problem for distance runners than undertraining, especially in the first races.  Leading up to my first marathon, I should worry more about how to get to the finish line, not how fast.  For now, the thought of bacon cheese fries and a beer is sometimes all that gets me through that long run, and THAT'S OKAY.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Ken Burns Baseball

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that audiobooks have never really worked for me while running.  However, over the past few weeks, I seem to have found an interesting alternative.







Ken Burns is one of the most prolific documentarians of our time.  He has handled topics from Jazz to the Civil War, World War I to the National Parks.  Burns has his own style, consisting of authentic pictures and movies overlaid with stories from the time period.  I think this is where I find myself loving the documentary for running.  While I miss out on the great period images, I still get to hear the stories.  Because each story is fairly brief -- usually no longer than a few minutes -- if I find myself distracted by a tough part of the run, I can easily wait and get back on track.

As an avid baseball fan, I was initially drawn to Baseball.  It's been great to hear the back stories from the old days of the game, and I look forward to seeing how Burns handles the scandals surrounding modern baseball.  I do suspect that those later episodes will leave me wanting to see the documentary rather than just hear it, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

All told, Baseball is approximately 20 hours long, which should last me through about 25 runs.  When I get done with it, I will in all likelihood move on to another of Burns' documentaries (perhaps The War, in deference to my little Downton Abbey addiction).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Summer Run Gear

Summer Run Gear




As summer approaches, it's time to start breaking out the summer running gear.  After a long, cold winter, I am very excited.  My mainstays for summer running:


  • As far as I can tell, my favorite Calvin Klein Performance Dual Layer Sports Bra has been discontinued.  This summer, it looks like I'll have to stick with Nike 375833 Pro Bra, an oldie but goodie.
  • Whatever tech tops I can find.  Sometimes they're race shirts, sometimes they're Nike.   I do not wear plan cotton tees when I run, especially in the summer.  Just not enough drying action.
  • I love my 3'' Dash Shorts, but they have really high slits up the side (like track shorts rather than traditional running shorts).  They work for me, but be aware if you're not one who likes to show a lot of leg.
  • A hairband is essential in the summer, as it can help keep sweat away from your eyes.  I'm currently wearing (and loving) the Sparkly Soul Headband.  It comes in lots of glittery colors and the velvety underside both keeps it in place and acts as a sweatband of  sorts.  I was mine with the rest of my sports laundry and they keep looking great.
  • I'm pretty sure my love for my Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS Watch (Green/White) was already expressed, but seriously?  This thing is great.
  • Especially on long runs, hydration is key.  This is especially important as temperatures rise above 70 degrees.  I recommend a mid-size Camelbak HydroBak 50 oz Hydration Pack for those (like me) too klutzy to carry a bottle while running.  These are especially great on very long runs, where the extra volume is incredibly helpful.
  • Sunblock.  Use what works best for your skin and complexion, but use it.  It's too easy to forget that a 5 mile run is nearly an hour out in the sun: you will get a sunburn.
Suit up and have fun this summer!

Monday, May 13, 2013

What to do with old books?

As I mentioned in my first post, my boyfriend (A) and I are in the middle of a move.  This move is a particularly big one for me; I have lived in Central New Jersey for nearly a decade, only moving from apartment to apartment within a 10 mile radius.  Our move to North Carolina will be the furthest move I've made since I was 18 years old going to college for the first time.  As a result, I am also trying to use this as an opportunity to embrace minimalism and get rid of unnecessary items.

Because we have both become fairly passionate ereader users, one of the main sources of clutter is old books.  While some of these are classics always ready for a re-read, some of them are really just laying around, taking up space.  Over the past month, I've taken a three step approach to these:

1) Amazon Buy-Back
  • Few people know that Amazon will buy back many books, DVDs, and CDs for store credit.
  • Books must be in good condition -- something you would give a friend as a gift.  NO ANNOTATIONS ALLOWED.
  • Mass-market paperbacks (like romance novels) are usually not accepted, but some very popular ones are.
  • Hardback books can be quite lucrative, especially old editions of certain textbooks.
  • Postage and handling is all paid for by Amazon.
  • Total books:  Total credit:
2) Offer leftovers to students, coworkers, and friends
  •  I separated books into genre; fiction in one room, nonfiction in another, each room separated more fully
  • As I invited people in to look, I would hand them a plastic grocery bag and tell them how the books were organized
  • I packed a wine box full of science books and brought them into the faculty lounge.
  • Total books: ~75?
3) Ship remaining books to soldiers overseas.
  • A coworker's mother works at our local library and works with Books for Soldiers, a program that ships books overseas for servicemen to read.
  • They sell some donated books to pay for shipping
  • The rest are packaged and sent to active duty service members
  • No cost, does a whole lot of good.
  • Total: ~100?
I thought I'd miss the books more, but to be honest, the relief I feel at having less clutter far outweighs the desire to live in my own personal library.  They're all still right at my fingertips, just in a different medium, and that's fine by me.