Thoughts On Running Long And Strong

Today’s Happy Note: I’m officially in love with my creative writing class — the people, the teacher, and the materials are all great.  It’s about Lyric Essays.  Today we reviewed one of my pieces.  It is a piece I am tremendously proud of — it sort of encapsulates the last three or four months of my life.  I feel like a lot of times with writing, my best work comes out of nowhere.  I start putting words on the page without knowing where I’m going and then all of the sudden there are pages full of words and ideas and I have no idea where they came from.

I will always be writing. Always always always.

Marathon Training: I was supposed to get in my second 20 miler (read the recap of the first 20 miler here) on Sunday, then do a rest day yesterday, then a speed work day today.  Unfortunately, the LSAT sucked the life force out of me on Saturday.  I didn’t wake up until 3:00 on Sunday.  Yeah, long run wasn’t gonna happen.  Especially since I needed to see USB. 🙂

I took Sunday as a complete and total rest day. Yesterday I had yoga class (it’s not really vinyasa-style so we always just hold a bunch of random poses for a long time; this is actually kind of nice because it increases the stretching factor) and did 6 miles.

I was determined to get in my 20 miles today and I did! It meant getting up at 6:00 which is insanely early for me.  But I did it.  I wanted to run it at about an 11:00 minutes/mile pace.  I was almost exactly on target!  I finished just over 3:40,  which would put me just over 11:00 minute miles.   BUT I stopped for water bottle refills several times, along with some stretch/walk breaks.  I used some leftover pear cider mixed with water for some sugars instead of plain water.  I liked the idea in theory, but cider does not taste good while running.  You would think that would be obvious, but my groggy self thought it was a great idea.  I think for future long runs and the marathon I will do watered-down gatorade.  I also took about ten small dates along with me to eat (they’re really mini).  They tasted really dry and I had to force them on.  I find it so hard to establish an effective fueling plan for long runs.

Anyone have any ideas?

I am also torn about walk breaks.  I can’t decide if they make me faster or slow me down.  I don’t have any kind of ethical problem with them — I think they can be a great tool for runners — but I just can’t seem to figure out if they work for me.  I took maybe four or five today, one every four-ish miles.  They felt good, but I also felt like it would have been less disruptive to just run continuously?

I had a lot of joint pain on the run.  Grrrrr.  Especially afterwards — I actually found it pretty difficult to walk today.  My muscles feel great — worn out but still strong — but the damn joints hurt.  I notice it in my hips and sacrum a lot during longer runs and I honestly don’t know what it means.  Sometimes it is worse than others.  It isn’t bad enough to necessitate stopping training, but I know that I will take a break from running after the big day.  I feel like a good anti-inflammatory would help, but you can never take anti-inflammatories with blood-thinners.  Also grrrr.

That was a lot of running talk!  Phew.

Today’s eats:

After many long-runs worth of experimentation, I am quite confident that the only thing I can safely eat before one is a banana.  Many other runners eat full on breakfasts beforehand, but that would never work for me.  So bananas it is.

I got back and had 20 minutes to shower, edit a paper, and get to class.  Crap.  Not to mention eating.  I felt a little queasy so just decided to sip on gatorade during class.  Afterwards it was noon and I was ready to eat!

I had the weirdest craving for Chinese noodle soup.  So that’s what I had.  Long runs have taught me to always listen to my body!

The salty broth was perfect.  I had all the soup (minus some of the chicken, which I am saving for later) and about half the noodles.

About an hour later I had a cinnamon raisin bagel with walnut raisin cream cheese.

Late afternoon snack of pb pretzels and trail mix.

Dinner was light and refreshing — I don’t have a huge appetite on long run days much of the time.  Don’t worry, my hunger will be back tomorrow! 🙂  This was a smoothie with vanilla soy milk, lots of ice, vanilla hemp/whey protein, a banana, and half an avocado.  Topped with a crumbled granola bar and sesame almonds.  I had another serving or so of the almonds while “cooking.”

The marathon is officially less than a month away!  I am getting a bit nervous, but also very excited.  New York is supposed to be a very fun course with tons of spectators/cheerleaders.   Any readers/bloggers running and want to meetup?  I’ll probably plan something closer to race day!

Alright, time to go call my mom and USB.  Separately, though.  That would be weird if I was calling them at the same time…

Goodnight dearies!

Update: I just had the most delicious, satisfying snack I have ever had in my entire life.  Two eggs scrambled in earth balance with babybel light cheese (x2) and maple turkey and salt.  I was craving salt, fat, and protein like nothing else — I literally felt like I would collapse if I didn’t have some!  I am now munching a big apple. 🙂

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A Post From The UK

Today’s Happy Note: Receiving lots of fun things in the mail today, including a sweet stack of magazines from my aunt and uncle!

No, I’m not in the UK.  But I did receive some post from the UK!

The highlight was a special letter from my special friend Sarah. Sarah and I decided to do a little writing exchange about a month back.  We both wrote about our favorite summer memories and then mailed them to each other.  It was the most fun I’ve had in a while; there is something so joyful about writing a letter, knowing someone is writing one to you too.  I loved reading Sarah’s piece — she wrote about childhood trips to a seashore.  I had vacations to Northern Michigan exactly like that!  Crazy to think that two girls, living on different continents, can have such beautiful, shared experiences.  Makes me think that people across the world have more in common than we think, sometimes.

Look how pretty her letter and card are:

It’s Royal Mail!

Thank you Sarah for such a delightful activity!

Workout: Today marks the beginning of marathon training — I am creating a day by day plan for the next 14 weeks, based largely off of this plan from Runner’s World.  I’ll let you know more about the plan as I work through it.  Mondays are actually going to be rest/cross-train days (depending on how I feel).  Obviously, I wasn’t too tired today. I did my usual two mile walk, thirty minutes of yoga, and kickboxing (boxing?) class. I love punching things.  So much.

Tomorrow should be six miles.   Excited!

Today’s Eats:

Frozen blueberries with cereal (kashi H2H) and Ronnybrook Farm milk: heavenly breakfast simplicity.

Lunch: giant salad with refried beans and hummus as a dressing.  More blueberries (fresh this time).

Afternoon snack (also had a few spoonfuls of PB and a chunk of cheese before dinner because I waited too long to start cooking and was super hungry).

An egg (sunny side-up!), a veggie sautee (avocado squash and purple pepper) along with baked eggplant with cheese. Random but yummy.  I love dinners like this, with a few different components that work together really well.

Protein ice cream: milk, chocolate-peanut-caramel protein powder, lots of ice, topped with chocolate and maple PB.   I have been craving chocolate a lot lately.  I blame my screwed up hormones.

Good news: my INR is finally high enough! I will have to get it tested weekly or monthly from now on to make sure it stays high enough (i.e., that my blood is thin enough).  I am kind of afraid I look like an IV drug user right now, so it will be nice not to have IVs so often!  Although I do have two more this week.  Awesome.

Goodnight friends.  Tell me about your weekend!

Storytime: Bodies

Today’s Happy Note: The sky was a special color of blue today.  It was blazing yet calm, somewhere between bright blue and midnight — the exact center.  A perfectly stunning mix of bold and subdued.  Made me yearn to fly.

Storytime: Bodies

I often envision my body as primal: I believe in the beauty of motion (graceful, powerful, rough, gentle, fierce, long) and see a fundamental humanity in a lurching person.  Sometimes when I walk through my grandmother’s blueberry patch I have a sudden urge to arch my shoulders back and fling my pointed left leg into the sky.  Or, here in New York, I want to run to the end of the island and then leap into the Hudson and swim and play.  In my office, I excuse myself to the mail room every few hours, eight flights downstairs, just for an excuse to feel the way my legs bend up and down into perfect right angles.  I like to count the steps.

Last winter, I read Born To Run.  The segment about the Africans who ran and ran and ran left a special impression.  Apparently, there is a tiny, dwindling tribe, somewhere in a giant desert, who simply run.  This is their whole life: they run up to fifty miles at a time to hunt their prey – a gazelle or other sprinting mammal, perhaps.  They simply run until their dinner dies of exhaustion.

I did not make it to the gym today, nor did I run alongside the river.  I did not dance or sweat through an endless series of sun salutations in yoga class.  I did not go swimming or diving or biking.  And I have to reconcile this with the fact of my body and the fact that I know I was born to run – among other things, maybe.  This is the hardest part of my life: to know when my body should or should not be moving.  At my mother’s house, the front door mat is littered with running shoes; maybe there are sixteen pairs around the house.  And maybe I strolled two or three miles in my daily activities today: ambling back and forth between my work desk and our archival collection, two flights below, or prancing into the grocery store in search of frozen blueberries (never as good as those from my grandmother’s wild patch).

It seems petty to think about my law school applications or when was the last time I called my sister or even the taste of wild blueberries when my body is still.  I can’t honestly say that I have found a balance.  I know that I have a kind heart and a solid head.  I think on my feet; often I work from nine until nine.  But that’s exactly it: I think on my feet.  Movement gives my mind and body important clarity. A spinning body might be blurry, but something happens in the brain.  This evening one of my high school students spilled a cup of water in the center of a crowd of all the students.  In a split second, as I turned around for a pile of napkins, another student came running through and slipped.  My body rushed to her.  My mind was not on; it was all physical.  I knew that the first thing I had to do was help her, physically. Was she bleeding or bruised or dazed?  My body took me through the steps.  And when it turned out she was fine, my body bent down and my quadriceps held me up while I wiped away the water.

L explained to me just the other day the importance of feeling things in the body.  I quickly dismissed her.  But deep down, in the crooked space where I can feel my spine descending into my pelvis, I know she is right.  Right now, at this moment, I feel lazy.  Unhuman.  This is, of course, exaggerated – more a manifestation of my disordered body image than reality.  Nonetheless, I can’t shake the image that my legs should be churning and my hips should feel exhausted.  I want to move all the time.

I crave the soreness that comes after a long day playing on the beach.  I want to sync my head, my heart, and my hips.  I want to run after my food and catch butterflies in my mama’s backyard and climb willow trees with my sister.  I want to toss my body into a handstand wherever I go.  I want to find the balance between sitting and flying.  Between being still and running through the desert after a gazelle.

Healthy Stress Relieving and Therapy Tuesday!

Today’s Happy Note: Watching Cupcake Wars.  I absolutely love Cupcakes — making and eating them!  My favorite is peanut butter and chocolate.  What’s your favorite cupcake flavor?

Good news: I got myself a kettleball (sp?) at TJ Maxx tonight!  It was only $6.  Bad news: My blender is broken.  What could possibly have happened?  I use it a lot so maybe it overheated.  It’s a basic proctor-silex.  Thoughts?

Had a nice relaxing 6-mile run last night!  Took today as a rest day and just did a 3-mile walk.  I like having a rest day during the middle of the week, it breaks up the routine nicely.

Last night I had a mini freak-out (felt overwhelmed by work stuff) and, after taking a few deep breaths, made a plan: first I took a 45-minute nap, then read for a few minutes, then headed out for my run.  I was very proud of myself for this!  Normally, I would not soothe myself so well — I might choose unhealthier mechanisms which only end up making me feel worse.  I decided to make a list of my favorite stress-soothing techniques:

  • Going for a quick jog (doesn’t necessarily have to be an intense workout!)
  • Reading books — especially my favorite Neruda collection
  • Giving myself a foot massage/pedicure (nail color suggestions???)
  • Playing with my hair (I love trying new styles)
  • Playing mah-jongg
  • Taking care of my plants, Fanny and Balthazar
  • Writing-ranting in my journal
  • Taking fun classes at the gym
  • Yoga (especially forward folds)
  • Making plans with friends for the weekend
  • Daydreaming
  • Thinking about (but not stressing over) my future

Unhealthy stress relieving techniques that I am making an effort not to turn to:

  • Wallowing in my own pain (crying/sobbing, feeling badly)
  • Self-loathing
  • Bingeing/restricting
  • Isolating myself
  • Punishing myself in any other ways

What’s on your instant destressing list? I would love to add plate smashing like a certain friend but I have no old plates.  When I do, you can bet they’re going to be smashed. 🙂

I know this has been a talky post but I am just not in the mood for pictures.  Bear with me.

Therapy Tuesday

Another good week with lots of insights and comfort — two of the most important things to me in my therapy experience.  I love how I am learning about the actual experience of therapy.  I think this is relevant to my journey; it isn’t exclusively about what’s inside my head.  It’s also about how I think and speak and interact with others.  All  of this comes out in the way I interact with L.  Sometimes, quite frankly, I just enjoy having someone to talk with seriously every week.  A lot of my friends and acquaintances don’t value emotional intimacy in the exact way I do — I do not begrudge them this.  We are all made differently.  But I need to talk about my feelings and share them with others. I always have been this way and probably always will be!  This leads me into my next point…

I have had a sort of epiphany in the last week regarding just how important my writing is to me.  I have always known that writing is integral to my life, but, in reading Seducing The Demon: Writing For My Life (by Erica Jong) this past week, I realized that it is also integral to my identity. My whole way of being is tied to my writing.  The good, the bad, the wonderful — it all comes back to writing.  I write about everything.  I share everything.  I notice things.  Words mean everything to me.  They have saved my life. I understand that other people do not necessarily live their lives this way; Erica’s book helped me see this.  And I don’t mind being “different.”  I just need to be observant of that.

Another thing I have noticed about my writing lately is a new found confidence.  A big thing I talked about with L today was my self-loathing.  It has seeped through into most areas of my life, beginning with my body.  But there is one area that it has not invaded and I will not let it invade: my writing.  I believe in myself as a writer. Even if it’s just this one thing, that’s a start.  I want to work with L on not hating myself so much.  I really want to be a confident person — it’s not especially fun to hate my body, my abilities, my relationships with others.  I agree with L that this is a sort of road block in my interactions with men.  I feel like I have made so much dating/flirting/male relationship “progress” this past year and I am proud of myself for that.  I know I’m ready to move forward even more, and I think this is going to be a learning experience.  I certainly do not want my ability to be happy or to believe in myself to be tied to a partner, but I do think that having more experiences with men will at least help build my confidence and lessen my self-loathing.  I guess this is just another “project” for the summer.  I have a few boys I’m thinking of. 🙂

Highlights!

Today’s Happy Note: The air! Have you considered how wonderful it is recently?  Warm, cool, thick, light, scented, fresh, breezy.  It can be very relaxing and soothing.

Thanks for some well thought-out and compassionate comments yesterday!  As I read them and thought more about my blogdentity, I realized that I truly enjoy blogging about both emotional and physical well-being; my problem lies in the organization of it all!  So, going forward, I intend on doing some housekeeping and make posts more organized — I might have categories or sections or something.  It’s more for myself because I don’t want to feel all over the place!  As for content, I like what I write about.  No point changing that!

Writing is great fun for me.  I know that it will be a big part of my future.  Not sure how yet, but, to let you in on my deepest secret: I do plan on putting together a book of poetry and prose, hopefully within the next year.  There, I said it.  I would love to have a first book out before I graduate.

My camera is not transferring my pictures, sadly.  I think maybe my memory card is full?  There are just over 3000 pictures on it.  Anybody know about these things?  Do I need a new card?

So no photos 😦

Highlights!

-Kashi Honey Sunshine: why, why, why was I so afraid to try this cereal?  I have always hated pillow shaped cereals so I never tried it.  That was a terrible decision on my part because these are most excellent; very honey-flavored.  In other cereal news: WF Peanut Butter Pows taste exactly like Reese’s Puffs cereal!

-Yoga with my cousin tonight!  Perfect relaxing Friday workout.

-Got important things done at both jobs.

-Union Square in the evening.

-Triple chocolate cookie for Cookie Friday and a chocolate peanut Mr. Softee cone.  It was one of those days.

-Relaxing with my Erica Jong book (if you can call her writing “relaxing”).

-Fun plans for tomorrow (it’s gonna be an Adventure Saturday — I think my Fridays are now too busy for Adventures!)

See you tomorrow, hopefully with some pretty pictures and epic tales!

Night night.

Finals Week Health Challenge

Today’s Happy Note: I got one paper done (8 pages).  I still need to edit it, but getting the first draft out is always the hardest part.  Here’s what’s left between now and Friday: one 15-page paper, one 10 page take home exam, and one in class final.  That’s not so terrible!  I can do it!

Speaking of school, finals, and papers, I want to give myself a little challenge.  I found myself eating way too much this weekend because I was stressed and/or bored.  Finals week(s) is always a difficult time to follow the diet (in the lifestyle sense, not the weight loss sense) that works best for me, so…

Introducing the Finals Week Health Challenge!

There are several components:

1. 60 minutes of physical activity every day (I suspect this one will be the easiest).

2. 6+ servings of fruits and veggies (dried, fresh, frozen, sauces — it all counts).

3. No late night stress snacking: if I am genuinely awake and using energy studying and I need fuel, that is fine, but I am going to try to maintain a semi-decent schedule, and I would like to institute my no after dinner snacking rule (besides dessert, of course).

4. Mental health: tell myself 3 positive/nice things everyday.  Don’t panic; remain calm and know that everything will get done!

That’s it!  Pretty simple.  This is how I try to live most of the time, but things tend to get crazy during finals — think 12 hour marathon paper writing sessions accompanied by a bag of chocolate chips, etc.  Any college students out there who want to join me are welcome! It starts immediately, unless you don’t have exams yet.

Here’s today’s progress:

1. Check.  I did a 6 mile run (which took me almost 70 minutes; it was 85 degrees and I am NOT adjusted to the heat yet) followed by a 90 minute yoga class at The Shala. The actual class and teacher and flows were great, bu I was so disgustingly sweaty that I could hardly concentrate.

2. Check. I have consumed the following today: blackberries, half a banana, frozen berries and pineapple, arugula/lettuce mix, roasted broccoli, and roasted bell peppers.  I think it was probably somewhere around six or seven servings.

3. Not check.  I had my standard dessert after dinner, but felt the need to eat some unnecessary cereal and peanut butter afterwards.  Not sure if it was genuine hunger (I was pretty active today) or stress, but I’m leaning towards the latter.

4. I think I was pretty un-stressed today, and I have had plenty of positive thoughts.  Why, you want to know?  Because I asked a boy on a date(ish) yesterday!!!!  This is a first for me, and I am VERY PROUD of myself.  It’s such a simple thing, but men are a huge source of anxiety for me.  We’re having lunch on Tuesday.  I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂

I did a 12-miler yesterday; I wasn’t planning on a long run but I woke up early and just decided to do it.  It was a bit slow but I felt really good during parts of it.

Eats:

LOTS of cereal/smoothie/trail mix bowls.  They’re just so easy.  With the weather this hot,I’m really craving cold smoothies and cereal.  I think I only had oatmeal once this weekend!  My favorite smoothie is really simple: about a cup of frozen berries, a scoop of protein powder, either soy milk or greek yogurt plus a little water, a few bug handfuls spinach, and, sometimes, pb or ab.  Anyone have a favorite smoothie recipe I should try?

Dinner tonight was really good and really easy!  I roasted broccoli and bell peppers with EVOO, salt, and crushed red pepper for 30 minutes.  When it had ten minutes left I heated some EVOO in a non stick pan and added several thin sole fillets (it was on sale at WF this week) and lemon pepper.  I heated up a tiny bit of leftover rice in the microwave and washed a bunch of arugula/lettuce to use as a base.  When everything was done I just threw it in the bowl!  Easy and delish.  The sole tasted a little too fishy for me, but whatever.

Yum!  Sometimes it scares me how fast I go through spinach.  Does anyone else have this problem?

Back to the grind for me.  Stay tuned for Therapy Monday tomorrow!

Questions to entertain me:

1. What food do you go through the fastest?  What do you spend the most on?

2. What’s the craziest thing you did in college?

Food, Mothers, Families

Today’s Happy Note: Honey-Lemon-Echinacea cough drops.  They’re special.

Exercise: I felt really icky this morning but felt better as the day went on.  I made a little pharmacy run for cough drops, ibuprofen, and kleenex and just felt like I had to run afterwards!  I did my favorite route along the Hudson River, 3 miles down and 3 back with 20 minutes of abs in the middle.  I did 30 reps of 16 different exercises and my tummy was burning. Some of my favorites include boat pose and crunches with legs at 90 degrees in the air.  Averie did a great post about abs — her favorite exercises, how to get good definition (hint: you need to do a few things besides crunches),  etc. I recommend it, it is very informative and inspiring; I love the attitude she takes that when we want something for ourselves we have to get out there and go for it!  Something I want?  A date.  Or two.  I do not think this is greedy.  I don’t yet have a plan for getting said dates, though.  Any ideas?

What’s something you want?  And what’s your plan of attack for getting it?  I say go for it!

I managed to forget to take pictures of everything today so I thought I would talk a little about food and my childhood (in conjunction with one another).  These are topics that I have definitely talked about before, but not really together.

Feeling Confined: Food, Mothers, Families

My parents, as you well know by now, are both doctors.  Good doctors (my dad was recently ranked second best doctor in the county!  Go papa!).  Both of my parents were very (and are) informed about health,  and their jobs allowed us economic and social access to a variety of healthy experiences.  I was a gymnast for ten years, a swimmer, a soccer player (briefly), runner, diver, scooter-rider, park-going, bike-riding, playground-loving kid.  My parents knew about the importance of fresh fruits and veggies.  They knew that kids don’t need to be pumped full of juice or candy or highly processed junk.  Other kids were bringing sandwiches on white bread to lunch; I had multigrain bread sandwiches with sides of carrots and apples.

I am extraordinarily grateful for the healthy childhood my parents gave me, in so many ways.

Last night I was talking on the phone with my dad and he mentioned that he absolutely had to buy a box of cocoa crispies.  His rationale?  He still felt the need to defy my mother’s “food rules.”  All this time I had thought I was the only one who was traumatized by them!  Don’t get me wrong; my mom always had the best of intentions, but sometimes food could become a stressful experience within our already chaotic household.

Sample “rules” (most unspoken):

-no cereal with more than 7-8 grams of sugar

-no white bread

-dinner isn’t dinner without about five servings of produce

-fake food is not food (ex: processed cheese stuff)

-pop and candy are useless calories

-you don’t need dessert everyday

-fast food is a once a year kind of thing.  If you do eat it, you should not enjoy it.

I think that for the most part these are quite good principles to live by.  And for the most part, I live by them today. For example, I have no interest in most highly processed foods, outside of th occasional oreo, and I quite dislike fast food. But there was something constraining about the relationship with food that I experienced.  I think that my mother was right to be concerned about what she put in her own body and the bodies of her children and husband, but is there a way to remain concerned without becoming obsessive?

When I was 16 I came to NYC on a trip with my poetry team.  One day, we all ate lunch in Harlem at a fried chicken place.  I had a milkshake.  I was terrified of the fried chicken because I had always been taught (and believed) it to be somehow evil.  Food is not evil.  It does not possess any inherent goodness or badness.  It is food.  In a single moment, much of my understanding of the world unraveled: it became clear to me that not everyone did or could eat the way my family and I did.  I had been “food privileged.”  And at the same time, I experienced a disordered relationship with food in much the same way that many very unhealthy people do.  How could these two worlds exist simultaneously within me?

In a way, they still coexist.  I find myself wondering if my actions with food are “correct.”  What if I eat a sandwich for lunch and there is too much bread?  What does “too much bread” even mean?  I don’t know what, precisely, is a proper relationship to have with food.  How I should interact with it on a day to day basis.  I know one important thing: there is a major difference between real food and processed food.  But other than that, I don’t know a whole lot.

I think one other thing I understand is this: maybe I don’t need to know all the answers.  Maybe I only need to live and breathe and be.  Maybe the answer does not lie in the precise outlining of a relationship with food.  Maybe there is no perfect program, but rather, I will find answers and comforts in not following any rules at all — neither restrictive rules nor wildly unrestrictive ones.

I am picturing my eight year old self lying sprawled on an asphalt driveway, a friend outlining my giddy body in pink chalk.  I think this is the rule; remember what it feels like to color yourself in with chalk; remember that outline, how it was sometimes blurry and jagged.  This is what food is.  It is not black and white; my relationship with it may be jagged and this is okay — maybe even beautiful.  Little pink chalk body outlines, surrounded by happy blue stars and yellow suns: this is beautiful.  This is happy.  Food can make me happy too.  A million things can make happy, and I do not have to participate in any relationship in which I feel constrained.  I want that girl back — the one playing with the bucket of colored chalk.  That girl.

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