trails and treadmills

Sorry it's been a few days since writing last -- I was in Missouri all last week on the third Voices of Prometheus tour, and frankly I've just been lazy since then and haven't gotten around to writing.

I had a fantastic time on the tour, and contrary to my own expectations, I actually got a couple of decent runs in.  The most fun was definitely Saturday morning, when Emily and I went running on the beautiful MKT Trail in Columbia.  She's almost a year ahead of me in her training, so I started out a little faster than I should have and had to walk for a couple of minutes in the middle, but otherwise we had a nice, easy (for her) 3 mile run.  It was fun to run with someone else... although I definitely found out that talking makes running a whole lot harder!  Even though it's probably the slowest run that she's had in a while, it was nice to prove to myself that I could run with someone who's significantly ahead of me in speed and endurance.

The trail itself was great.  It's a rails-to-trails project trail, so it was nice and flat -- which is boring to some but perfect for slow me -- and there were lots of other people biking, walking, and running.  There were streams and bridges and lots of beautiful trees to look at, and we lucked out and had a pretty mild morning to go along with it.  It's definitely a route I'd love to run again in the future... maybe minus the walking.  Here are some pictures from the trail's website to give you an idea of what it was like:

My runs since I've been back have been okay...  I did three miles outdoors on Monday, which was okay but certainly confirmed that running mostly in hilly areas when you're starting out can be a little frustrating.  I'm sure it will be good in the long run, but they sure do tire me out fast!  Yesterday, I woke up pretty late and didn't feel like braving the heat, so I did my first run indoors on the treadmill.  It was a pretty mixed experience.  The fact that it was cooler than outside was certainly nice, and with the incline set on 2 instead of 1, it felt more or less like running on the road.  On the other hand, running inside is just boring, even with the TV on, and I couldn't stop myself from looking at the distance counter every 15 seconds.  The other definite downside was that there was no way to avoid finding out my pace and confirming that I actually AM the slowest runner in the world.  It was something of an ego blow to find out that a 13 minute mile is pretty much all I can handle -- I ran 2 miles at that pace, and by the end I was pretty beat.  Which means that I probably run even slower on my regular runs.  Not so good.

In any case, I know I shouldn't worry about it, and I'm sure I'll keep getting faster with time anyway.  Today is a rest day, which is very nice, and then it's back to the races tomorrow -- hopefully culminating in 3.5 on Saturday!   Also, I'll be breaking 50 miles since I started running during my run tomorrow morning, which is pretty exciting.  It's good to be making progress... even if it is very, very slowly.


meltdown at three mile... run

Yes, you read that right -- today was the big day of three mile ownage!  I don't know why this is such a huge mental milestone, but I have to say that I am almost more proud of this than of my first mile three months ago.  It's just cool to think that I could have gotten up this morning and run a 5k (3.1 mi)!  Then again, I'm glad I didn't, because when I got back this morning, it was about half an hour later than I thought it should have been.  I didn't time the run because watches stress me out when I'm exercising, but I'm pretty sure that it was pretty slow.  Not that it bothers me at this point -- but at some point, I'd like to be faster.  Or at least a little faster.

Slow or not, I definitely did it!  The weather was on my side...  For the first time I can remember since I started, I didn't walk out the door and think, "gee, it sure is disgusting out here."  I guess that the cosmos must have been on my side, too, because not only did I finish without walking at all, but toward the beginning of the run, I found a Dave & Buster's point card lying on the side of the road!  I'd say it's pretty likely that there's nothing on it if someone took the time to throw it out of their car, but you never know!

Just so I don't neglect it, I did also go on a nice trail run with Mike yesterday.  I hadn't actually been planning to run yesterday at all, but I'm so glad I did!  Even though it was 3:00 in the afternoon and consequently was probably 105 degrees, it was such a blast to run on nice dirt trails through the woods.  It's so much easier to let your mind wander and chill out when you're all alone with nature!  I did have to stop and walk a couple of times, but that was okay.

Overall, it was a great couple days of running!  Off to Missouri for the VOP gig tomorrow, but hopefully I can find the time to keep running this week.  It does NOT excited me that the forecast for Columbia says "oppressive humidity" and that according to the hourly forecast it's even more disgustingly humid and hot in the morning there than here, but I'll live.  Fall will get here at some point, I hope...


blarrgghhh (worst run ever)

This morning, I blithely go out to have an easy 2 mile run on a nice flat route.  I start running, and for the first three deceptive blocks I think, Wow!  I feel great!  Then I turn a corner, run roughly 5 seconds of the only hill in the entire route, and realize that I am going to die.  The rest of the run is all downhill from here.  About 3/4 of a mile in, I actually have to stop and walk a block out of desperation.  By the time I get home, I don't even think that I can make it up our cul de sac and driveway -- even though I have been walking for about five minutes at this point.

BUT...  even though I had to walk that block, once I got to the end of it I started running again and I totally finished that run.  So it may have been the worst run anyone has ever had (it sure felt like it), I DID finish.  Go me!

Things I've learned from this experience?
1) Oatmeal, bread, okra, rice, and a string cheese are not adequate fuel for running the following day.
2) Don't expect your run to be stellar after only getting 5 1/2 hours of sleep, whether it was intentional or not.
3) I can totally run two miles even when I feel like I'm going to have to lie down on the sidewalk and die.  (i.e. I am a badass.)

Tomorrow?  Three miles, here I come!


my blog in a sea of germanity

Completely random observation, but I just got curious what kinds of blogs would come up randomly using the "Next Blog" button, so I hit it a few times... and then a few more... and then a few more... and apparently my blog is surrounded at this moment by about ten million Deutsche Blogs -- which appears to be the technical term.  Just had to share.

Also, I have obviously redesigned my blog.  Hope you like it!

Be back this weekend to report on Saturday's upcoming attempt at a three-miler!


the call of the wild

So I walked down to Lake Olmstead again this morning and ran around it, which is about 2.25 miles.  This was my first time not running an out-and-back route (when you turn around halfway and go back along the route you just ran), and I was surprised that mentally it was actually harder than an out-and-back...  There was something about being at the back of the lake, looking across it, and realizing that I was only halfway around that made the second half really tough -- even though the road around the lake is mostly flat and I ran a quarter of a mile farther on Sunday.  Go figure.

The Augusta Canal. (Don't swim in there.)
Even though it was a tougher morning than I expected, I still had a great time.  It's so nice to have something other than houses and yappy dogs and lawnmowers to pay attention to while you're running!  At the halfway point at the back of the lake, there was a bridge with the lake on one side and the Augusta Canal on the other, which was really pretty.  Even though the canal is probably full of chemicals and nuclear waste from SRS and other unsavory things.  As long as you don't get in the canal, though, it's pretty nice.  This morning, there was still mist coming up from it, which was really pretty -- although it obnoxiously made it look like it should be a nice cool morning, which it is not.

The coolest thing about this morning's run was definitely the wildlife!  I didn't see anything terribly exciting, but there were two different kinds of ducks (white ones that looked like the Aflac duck and some brown ones that I think were female mallards), some Canada Geese, two geese with red bills (but I can't find pictures that look anything like them, so I guess that one will just have to stay a mystery) and even an egret hanging out in the marshy business at the back of the lake.  Of course, the pretty wildlife was probably balanced out by the two palmetto bugs (translation for Yankees:  giant flying roaches) I found in the house this morning, half-eaten  & disemboweled rodents the outside cat had left for us in the carport, and the squashed frog I saw toward the end of the run, but I won't put pictures of any of those things and we'll all just pretend they didn't happen. 
nice white ducks
Mrs. Mallard
Canada geese

There was also a German Shepherd roaming around without a leash, but thankfully he did not seem to want to eat me -- he actually seemed pretty freaked out when he saw me and ran away.  Way to go, guard dog.

All in all, it was a pretty entertaining morning!  2.5 happens again tomorrow, and hopefully it will be a little easier than today's run was.  Should be fun either way!  :)

Epic German Shepherd says goodbye


sheeee's back!

So, as you may have gathered by now, the beginning of the most overwhelming semester of my academic career was probably not the best time to start a blog.  Six months after my one and only post, I figure it's time to start this thing back up and to revamp a little so I might actually be inclined to write something occasionally.

(not me)
Instead of focusing only on new things and experiences (of which, admittedly, I have probably had several since I started this pitifully neglected blog, but which I was too lazy to write about), I'm just going to write about things I feel like writing about.  Luckily, one of the things I am likely to want to write about a LOT can tie this together and make it something of a goal-achieving-fitness-type blog, because... I am now calling myself a runner!

I've started the Couch-to-5k program several times in the past two years (because there's nothing like getting together with a seven-days-a-week runner/mutiple-marathon-completer to inspire you to get fit), but I've never gotten very far and have had a lot of trouble breaking the run/walk cycle.  I ran a few times this May, but then I got really busy doing the Harrower opera workshop down in Atlanta during June and fell off the wagon again.  Then, on the last day of June, something changed.  I went out for a "run," which for me had always meant some sort of combination of walking and shuffling/trudging, and I decided on a whim to try slowing down and seeing how far I could actually run.  And I ran a mile.  Without stopping.

Apparently the effort made me lose my mind, because since then, I've been running 4-5 days a week, reading Runners World articles like a woman possessed, logging my runs on mapmyrun.com every day, and I've had a blast doing it.  I even got new shoes (Saucony Hurricane 10s), which I adore and which are saving my grateful shins from my overpronating feet.  Arguably, July might not be the best month to start running when you're in Georgia, but I figure that this means that by the time the weather is tolerable again, I'll be a REAL runner and I can actually enjoy running 4 or 5 miles on crisp autumn mornings while looking at the trees and other picturesque stuff.

So far this month, I've run over 26 miles (thanks, Map My Run), and this morning I had my first 2.5 mile run -- which was actually a ton of fun!  I had to get up at 7:00 to beat the heat, unfortunately, as I'm in Augusta and managed to come the week that temperatures have been getting to 100 by midday with humidity to match.  (The Weather Channel says that the heat index today is supposed to be 110.  Yeah.)  It was already in the mid-80s by the time I got out the door this, but it wasn't unbearable and  it was definitely nice to go a little earlier than usual because I saw lots of people biking and walking their dogs, which was nice.  I ran down to Lake Olmstead, which was perfect because it was almost pretty enough to distract me from the fact that I was going farther than I'd ever gone and that my ran ended with a 3/4 mile incline.  That part was definitely not cool, but otherwise it was a great morning.

Lake Olmstead

In short, I've caught the running bug.  I'm planning on running two 5ks in the fall, Hoosiers Outrun Cancer on Sept. 18 and the Jill Behrman Run for the Endzone on Oct. 23, and my long term goal is to run the IU Mini Marathon (that's 13.1 miles, folks) at the beginning of April.  I'll be honest, it's so shocking that the 5ks are even feasible that I can't let myself start thinking about what the half marathon would actually entail, but I figure I've got plenty of time and there's really no reason why I shouldn't be able to do it.  I've wanted to really start running for so long now that the thrill of actually getting out and doing it every day might actually get me there!  I have to say that when you're coming from nothing, even tiny milestones like running two miles make you feel so superhuman that you want to run around telling everyone how awesome you are.  Especially since I'm not really particularly awesome and I doubt that people at the grocery store feel like hearing about the unthinkable two and a half miles I just ran, I figure this blog is the perfect place to get some of that excitement out there.  Congratulations, readers.

Anyway, that's all for now, but I'll post again soon.  Really.  :)


it's blogging time

Those of you know know me (read:  "all two of you who actually might read this blog") know that things have changed pretty significantly in the last month or so, and I've been trying to think of something new and interesting to do.  Making a blog was one of the first things to come to mind, but then I realized that I don't really do enough of any one thing to make a whole blog about it (other than music, but who wants to read about that?), so I decided that the best idea would be the obvious cop-out... to make a blog about doing new things!

I'm not going to promise that I'll update this at any regular intervals, but I'll certainly update any time I try something new or revisit something after a long hiatus -- and hopefully, the blog will actually inspire me to try some cool stuff.

To start out this extremely ambitious project, which will undoubtedly be read avidly by friends and will ultimately launch me to internet star-dom, I'll share a bit about my adventures making dinner for a few of my friends to celebrate my birthday.  When I started thinking about things to make for this dinner, I immediately thought about my very favorite food from the semester I spent abroad:  risotto alla milanese!  While unbelievably delicious, this risotto is traditionally made with some rather unusual (and expensive) ingredients:  saffron and bone marrow.  Being a vegetarian -- something I pretty obviously felt free to ignore occasionally when I was in Milan -- I was not about to run out to buy a bottle of marrow, but I did go out in search of saffron.  It turns out that while saffron threads are $18 for 1/10 of a gram (yes, that's 0.13 grams for 18 dollars) at your friendly neighborhood Kroger, if you actually know about them, you can buy tiny packets of saffron powder at the cash registers at Bloomingfoods.  Thanks to the friendly employee on the phone for that handy tidbit.  I also learned a fun tidbit from the little saffron packet -- apparently, it takes 75,000 blossoms to produce one pound of the spice, which is why it's the most expensive spice in the world.  Makes sense to me!  In case you're curious, here's what the flower that saffron comes from looks like:

So armed with saffron, some very expensive organic arborio (not something you necessarily want to buy at Bloomingfoods, but since I was there...), some spectacularly cheap white and all of the other things I needed to make my neat birthday meal, I got cooking!  All in all, things didn't turn out too badly.  I didn't think ahead very much and bought too little broth and no butter, so the risotto was not quite as orgasmic as I remembered it being, but the garlic green beans I made as a side were definitely tasty.  The chocolate pots de creme I made for dessert were pretty darn tasty, too -- although I did manage to forget that my oven runs about 25 degrees on the hot side, so they were a more like chocolate bricks than chocolate custard.  Either way, you can't really go wrong with dark chocolate, whipped cream and raspberries.

The star of the evening was definitely the garlic shrimp I made for an appetizer, so a big thank you to Rachel Ray -- who I'm quite honestly not usually crazy about -- for the quickest, easiest, tastiest shrimp recipe EVER.  Overall, it was a fabulous birthday evening and a very fun thing to do.  I may try to stick to a slightly less weird and bone marrow-containing main course for next time so I don't disappoint myself again, but I will almost certainly be having another dinner party sometime in the near future!  I'll just finish out with a few pictures from the evening:

And of course, no evening would be complete without my cat doing something weird...

Until next time!