Saturday, January 31, 2009

FAITH: Remembering the Giver

Running is something I've thrown myself even more into, finding joy in losing myself in the thrill of training and straining. (I mention "losing myself" because I once read this definition of happiness that I liked, that it was losing yourself in something greater. For example, when you lose yourself in God, you are so overwhelmed by his love and power that you forget yourself and all you see and care about is him.) Running has kept me going, kept me motivated with something to look forward to and a goal to press onward with. It's been with some apprehension that I've done this, though, since I know I'm sort of making an idol of it, but it's the only thing that keeps me going when I feel all else is lost. During the workout today, though, I thought of it in a new light. Running is a gift from God. I have enough health to do it (which isn't always the case), and the fact that I'm able to enjoy it shouldn't be taken for granted. And with gifts, it's important not to forget the Giver and to direct one's love to Him instead of directing it so much to the gift itself. He's given me something that can keep me going and in good spirits during tough times. I think Sheehan coined the phrase about "be[ing] a good animal." As I ran, I thought of myself as running for God, devoting my efforts to him, for the first time in my life. I've used the thought of running for him as a way to deal with the pain of running in the past, but this was a little different. Eric Lidell talked about feeling God's pleasure when he ran. This was something like that, although not quite as grand or happy. It was more like the knowledge that I was doing something that I was created to do at that particular point in time.

Jan 31

It was "feels like 10 degrees" as I did a BM Track workout with stops after each leg starting from the first 400. I kept having my throat congested, maybe due to the cold, which made breathing difficult. The spit I cleared out froze less than a minute after hitting the grass - a sign that it's pretty cold. Including the warmup, about 5 miles. So much stopping, though. Felt out of shape. Maybe the intermittent sleep over the retreat? My arms really felt the strain of effort.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Jan 25

My longest training run in my life! A 13.1er. I'll be on a retreat for the next 5 days, so I wanted to get a run in, especially since I didn't do anything yesterday and did just a low-key 7.5 the day before that. I also wanted to see if I was in shape and un-injured enough to pursue the Marine Corps Marathon, which I've made my goal for October 2009. It's one of the top 10 best marathons, and what could be more inspiring than running past monuments in our nation's capital, being cheered on by real-life heroes?

Splits: 10:37 t, 9:13 h, 4:49 b, 8:09 w, 7:47+0:50 b, 4:54 h (where I stashed my pack, which had been holding about 1/2L of water, a fleece, a camera, and a cell. I just kept my race belt, which held 2 Gu's. It was 46:22 at this point, which is the recommended Gu-ing time, but I hadn't run 6 at that point and was still going strong, so I figured that I'd take some later on instead.), 4:24 p, 4:26 t (turned back like a suicide... a 1.5 mile suicide), 4:26... p (LOOK AT THAT SPLIT! BAM!), 4:28 h, 5:39 b, 4:40 x, 3:06 w, 3:16 x, 5:21 b, 4:50 h (took Expresso Love Gu during this leg. Tasted rather good. I was going to take my Black Cherry w/ Caffine Clif Shot Blok, but it was as solid as ice, since it left its packaging 3 months ago and had endured the cold run with me [it was around 22 degrees], so I decided to go for the Gu. I ate half the pack. It was sweetish, sort of like Molasses. It was probably more solid than usual due to the cold, so it went down nicely without sticking in my mouth or anything. I had to wait until I reached the hill where my pack was stashed to down it with water and dissolve away remaining sugar. No stomach issues.), 4:34 p, 15:38 2+ a bit extra to wring out that extra 0.04 ish to round it out to 13.1 miles in 1:52:16, well under my half time of 2:00:19, before which I had slept 0 hours and run only twice in the previous 6 weeks because of an ankle sprain. I'm now more optimistic about a reasonable marathon time. Maybe 4:30? Note: I did stop to take pictures along the way on the first leg. The time with the heavy pack was evened out by the middle 5.5 miles where I only had the belt. And I just calculated: the wm->tow->wm splits were 22:23 and 22:21... nice, huh?

As for the injury report, at around 1:26, I think... somewhere around the bridge either on the last way there or back, lower kneecap issues in both legs. Sort of went away as I maintained form, though. That's the secret to stopping emerging nagging pains. Also, chafing from tags and seams on my orange pullover. The ball of my left foot hurts, starting from the way back, starting from my last run on the trail. It started going a bit to my shins. Probably no big deal.

Cumulative mileage: 45.5+13.1 = 58.6. That did a lot to boost it. Next week will be a downer, though.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Jan 23

My longest run so far this year - 1:06:31 (plus a post-fueling run across campus of maybe 2 minutes - call it a cool-down except it wasn't calm, since I was rushing off to PLESS to make $8 in 20 minutes for pushing buttons when I saw dots). Splits: 10:03 (tow), 4:27 (pebble), 8:58 (bridge), 5:08 (path), 2:57 (wal), 5:28 (wf), 4:55 (bridge), 4:48 (hill), 9:01 (tow), 10:40 (2d). Now to calculate distance... If I do a 26min 3.1, 37min (time to wf) would be 4.4. Add 3.1 to get 7.5. It felt more natural and doable going up the final long hill to campus due to Tuesday's sprint workout. My legs were used to that feeling. Yay sprint session!

Cumulative mileage: 32.9 + 5.1 (speed session) + 7.5 = 45.5. Over 23 days, that's 1.98 mile per day on average.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jan 21

I was happy to find myself very mildly sore today from yesterday's track workout. The sprinting muscles are getting a good tune-up. That means a faster next time :)

I finally started working on my thesis today. The tough part is getting the raw data into usable form, since I'll have to write java programs to do it. I think I'll have something working soon, but new java tricks can be a pain to learn.

I'm missing Lost right now, but dude, I've worked nearly 30 hours in this 2-week period! That's enough to cover the basic ski trip. I'm excited.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Jan 20

Despite feeling a bit unstable in the legs this morning, I ended up feeling a bit better in the afternoon, so I ended up doing the BM Pyramid, with a water/walk break in the middle, but with jogging. It took about 40 minutes to complete. I ran a total of 5.1 miles, we'll say, with 2.25 of it being at sprint effort. To recap, a BM Pyramid is 4x100, 3x200, 2x400, 1x800, and back down, with jogging in between - no stopping (I stopped today and regretted it after about a minute :( ). What's great is that afterwards, I felt like I could still go on. Those last short sprints made my legs feel leadishly empty on fuel, but jogging was easy. It probably means I could've gone faster on the jogs, but it's a good thing that I'm accustomed to this distance now and can do more.

I'm looking into doing a marathon. The only difference between marathon training and what I've done in the past is the inclusion of long runs, which work their way up from 6-milers to 20-milers. Seems kind of reasonable at first glance (like, I've run 13 and could probably do 20), but then I visualize it and realize that it would involve doing 3 trips to WF/M plus an extra two miles! Yikes! I tried doing 2 once and stopped at 11 miles, but lots ofthat fatigue was probably because I had multiple walking breaks when I was shopping/meeting up with a friend. If it had been continuous, it might've been better. Then again, people often take walk breaks in real marathons as a means so stay fresher. Dunno.

I'd probably go for it, except I don't really have one I could sign up for as that important motivator. None during dead week were closeby.

RECIPE: Smoothie

I used to think that smoothies were way overrated. Then, I stumbled upon just the right ingredients after practice tonight, and I realized how great it was. It's an awesome blend of coolness, hydration, protein, and vitamins/Aox. No picture, but it was so easy and delicious. This one's a keeper. No immersion blender needed, either! Just a spoon if you so desire.

3/4 cup thawed out frozen berries
1/2 cup grated carrots
1 cup plain soymilk
2 tbsp vanilla soymilk or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Stir, and enjoy.

Food has been tasting so good (at least I always seem to be going aaaah soooo delicious in the blog lately). Isn't exercise wonderful, making food always taste so good? By the way, I've been eating like a madman. I've mentioned it already, but probably over 50% of the day, I'm constantly eating. And I'm not even doing that much. I might train for a marathon - will it be 75% or more if I do?

Jan 19

I am such a happy camper right now. After ulty finished at 1am, I went to 2d for soymilk but also found thawed out frozen raspberries in the fridge, so I was going to mix them. Then, I remembered seeing the grated carrots and thought, "before, I was just going to get vitamin C. How about getting some beta carotene too so that I don't need to take a supplement?" So I added it, a little apprehensive about how carrot and soymilk would taste, but it actually worked out beautifully, since it added crunchiness to the cold berry mix and tends to be naturally sweet. I added a touch of vanilla soymilk to give some more sweetness to the plain soymilk. It turned purply and frothy and amaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing.

Yesterday, 40 min strength. Got through 2 x 2min planks and 2x6 inches. I'm making progress.
Today, ulty in the gym. I think it's the first time I've thrown since waaay early December. Not much to say there.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Here's a versatile tool to keep you warm in the winter. I got the Survivor Buff in HS from my good friends who knew me very well. I've used a couple of times this winter as it's gotten colder. The coolest thing about it is the number of ways this seemless tube of cloth can be used.

Yesterday during the 19 degree run, I did the scarf so that I could trap in some of the warmth I breathed out so that I wasn't sucking in so much cold air. About a week ago, I used it as a headband for general warmth.

DETAILS (from website):
  • An amazing stitch-free, seamless accessory
  • Thermal, offering protection from the wind, sun and humidity in both cold and hot weather
  • Highly breathable, absorbs sweat, dries fast and provides UV protection
  • The perfect travel accessory for all environments
  • Comfortable and versatile: 12+ ways to wear!
  • Colourfast and machine washable
  • One size fits most adults
  • Polygiene® to ensure total protection from bacteria, and lasting freshness and comfort

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jan 17

Fourth day of freedom... I should probably start working soon. Maybe Monday. Not quite ready to start tomorrow yet.

In about 20 degree weather, an EMS/WF/Marshalls/CalendarStore and random others run. I did a Baklava sort of thing with the Survivor Buff because the air was cold to breathe in. Splits: 9:56 (tow), 4:25 (tree), 4:18 (hill), 4:30 (bridge), 2:57 (store), 3:15 (bridge), 9:34 (tree), 4:07 (tow), 10:08 (2d) - total: 53:17.
Cumulative Total: 19.5 + 1 (fc) + 6.2 + 6.2 = 32.9.

I was cold, tired, and hungry. Very hungry. At WF, I got Salmon Salad (cold salmon, evoo, basically) and Wheatberries with bits of greens, evoo, cashews. Oooh, I also tried a Clif Shot Blok that I saved from the Philly 1/2. It was delicious and 30Cal (50% complex carb, 50% simple carb). After I finished it, my stomach was a bit uneasy. Maybe only because it's 2 months old, left in the air (wrapped up in a race flyer). I think it was the Strawberry flavor. The other one I still have is Black Cherry w/ 50mg caffine (per 3 bloks, whereas a cup of coffee is 80mg).
After the run, I had an incredibly delicious bowl of microwaved (that's the secret to multiplying the deliciousness by 5) brown rice + soymilk. Heating it releases incredible new flavors - maybe the vanilla in the bit of vanilla soy milk I added. I also had blood orange black tea.
Then, an hour later, I had a big dinner. 2 slices of WW/EB Savory Sweet Potato Pie; Stir-Fried Broccoli, Carrot, Sweet Potato; Tofu; Veggie & Egg Bake (whole eggs - I made an exception after today's tough workout)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jan 15

Another day of sweet freedom. I leisurely woke up this morning and saw lots of snow coming down outside. I went to 2d for breakfast in flipflops, and my feet got painfully cold. Maybe when there's snow, I'll put shoes on. After breakfast, I checked my email, one of which was CL's invitation to do tray sledding or xc skiing. I called her and went over, and we decided to ski on the golfcourse. There was only about an inch and a half, but we had a few good runs, very leisurely.

The real fitness for the day was the strength session at the gym. 40 minutes. This included my first time on the Viper rope-climbing machine, 4th setting (halfway), for 2 minutes or so, burning 50Cal. Interesting. Oh man, 6 inches was terribly difficult today. Dunno why I'm so out of shape.

At dinner, nobody else showed up to cook, so I made everything by myself - a first, I think. It was incredible, too. There were stuffed red bell peppers with grated carrots (found in the fridge from Jan 13), brown rice (found in the fridge from who knows when), black beans (found in the fridge from last night), and onions (fresh, haha). I added a bunch of garlic spices - Mexican seasoning & cayenne, and topped it with a big can of tomatoes. The bells were microwaved before I stuffed them and tossed them in 350 for 15. They were great. I also made VWaV's cajun fries w/ sweet potatoes and a pot of brown rice.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jan 14-p

Today was my first day of freedom, since Dean's Date and its 3 projects was yesterday. I slept 14 hours last night. Today, I was excited to run again. I hadn't really eaten many decent meals - lots of whole grain goldfish, oranges, bbq soy crisps, and some dark chocolate-covered coffee beans.

6-miler through some snowy/icy paths to Wholefoods/Marshalls, stopping every now and then to take pictures. I wanted to get back before it got completely dark, since you had to look to see where there was treacherous ice.
Splits: 10:04 (tow), 3:58 (tree), 4:24 (hill), 4:47 (bridge), 3:00 (shop), 10:08 (hill), 4:39 (tree), 4:37 (tow), 11:05 (2d). Total: 56:42
Afterwards, I was hungry, probably from not eating that much in the past few days. I had 2 bowls of incredible bean & veggie soup (I don't know why it tastes so good - maybe the soup stock or the herbs?) to try to warm up (it was probably around 24 degrees out), plus yogurt with fruit spread and protein bread with garlic. After I got back, I was still hungry, so I ate a bit of chocolate and PB, and downed it with sf lemonade. I'm still kind of hungry, but my stomach is full from all the liquids. I want something salty, like beef brisket. Mmmm... beef brisket.
As for the run itself, it was a bit slower because of the need to step around or carefully on the ice. Also, I got tired on the way back, on the uphill in the last 10 minutes. Don't know why. I was tempted to stop.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Jan 8

Fitness Challenge 2 of year 2008-2009.
Mile time was a sad 6:27 (1:33,1:38,1:39,1:36). Actually, we did a little more distance than we usually do, so that may take off 3 seconds, so we can say 6:24. Previous times were 6:15 (on 10/19/08), 6:19 (around 5/3/08), 6:22 (around 3/15/08), and something bigger for the one before that. So after 4 consecutive improvements, I'm back to square one. Easily fixed, though. One pyramid track workout will cut down at least 5 seconds, probably. Even half of a pyramid would. The other events were uninteresting or results doubtful.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Jan 7

I used to obsessively record when and what I ate, 1) to make sure I had a balanced diet (vitamins, protein, calcium well timed to maximize its absorption), and 2) so that I would be less tempted to overeat. I had a strong need to do it before, so that even when I was on trips, I wrote down what and when on napkins or scraps of paper so that I could blog it later. No longer the case. I still time it and mentally keep track of the spread, but there's no need to record, since #2 isn't an issue anymore. I feel like simply listing today just because the variety is interesting, and these can make for good meal ideas in the future.

Breakfast: Lowfat yogurt w/ banana-flavored granola; Apple.
Lunch: 1/2 WW Pita... oh the old "WW"... with turkey, sprouts, tomato, ccc fine herb dressing, shredded carrots (sounds amazing, doesn't it? it was good); Mixed Greens w/ shredded carrots, cherry tomatoes, fine herb dressing; Broccoli Rabe (with a very strange taste - like perhaps there's something wrong or old about it, but maybe it was garlic. it's not bad if you know for sure it's healthy. a very different taste, that's all. i'm still alive, though, so it must've been fine); Skim Milk; Goldfish; Airplane Biscoff
Snack: Microwaved cut-up Sweet Potato (cut it up into less-than-one-inch cubes, put it in a mug, and microwave for 2.5-3 minutes... how's that for a recipe?) tastes liked baked goodness and is even a tiny bit burnt-crispy!
Dinner: Onion & Portabello Soup (excellent by Sam B); Broccoli & Tofu Ginger Stir-fry; Vegan Gingerbread Cookie with Mint Extract (an unexpected but incredibly delicous touch!); Skim Milk
Snack: Fair Trade Hot Cocoa; and then repeats - Yogurt w/ Banana-flavored Granola; Onion & Portabello Soup w/ few chunks of tofu

Mud layout in raining, near-freezing weather w/ JH & LG.

about 30 min of low-key conditioning at ulty. Oh, but one thing I learned: stairs can actually be interesting. I've liked stairs as a workout (although I only did it once, w/ VC), but it did seem only a little more strenuous than walking, especially since stadium steps tend to have low rises. And then there's the risk of hurting knees going down the steps, and the risk of falling. I could go 2 at a time, though, to make a pretty good workout.

Part of the conditioning today was stairs:
1. every other step
2. every step
3. every other step
4. one foot going up halfway, switch (challenging)
5. every other step
6. hop 2, down 1 ** (great - like box jumps, although a bit scary, if you hop down too much...)
7. every other step
8. rest 1 min & repeat

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Jan 6

Today's run: 1/6 - 6.3ish miles, split in half when I looked at peacoats. Splits at least on the way there were slightly better than they were at the end of last year, perhaps because I've gotten above average rest (around 9 hours a night), although it still feels like not enough. I'm slowly getting back in shape from the 6 weeks off from the ankle sprain (left) and then the hectic end-of-semester and then a long family vacation. About 2 miles into it, my left lateral knee hurt a bit, but I ran it off. I'm going to try to track injuries to see if it's the same problems popping up and maybe to see if there are any causes or cures. Today, it was hailing while I ran! I thought to myself "how good it is that my eyes are squinty naturally so that it doesn't get pricked by hail as easily." And it was cool sort of feeling like you had bullets bouncing off of you like you were a superhero. It was 32 degrees. I ran in short sleeves when I stripped off the black fleece about a mile into each leg. I like to feel not-hot. If I'm not in sandals, even in winter, my feet are too hot. It was totally fine, since the body heat and the cold air cancelled each other out, so that I wasn't cold, but I wasn't sweating, either. People may think, "what's wrong with Jen, wearing so little clothes - does she enjoy the pain?" No! Pain and discomfort would be trapping my feet in hot shoes or feeling hot in too many layers. Oh right, I was going to record the splits: 9:23 (tow path), 4:11 (pebble), 4:10 (hill), 4:20 (bridge), 2:56 (tree), 5:01 (long way to bridge), 4:49 (hill), 4:37 (pebble), 4:27 (tow path), 10:27 (2d) - TOTAL: 54:21.

Cumulative total: 6.6+2.2+4.4+6.3 = 19.5.
and that was 6.6 - 2.2 - 0 - 4.4 - 0 - 6.3.

Since I didn't mention anything about the 4.4, I wanted to quit at around 3. I was tired. Maybe just out of shape. Did it, though, since I knew I'd regret not finishing the loop.

Friday, January 2, 2009

GEAR GUIDE: Cell phone/ Music Player

I got an LG Decoy phone recently. Now, when I carry it, it serves not only as a phone in case my parents want to ask where I am, or if I get stuck somewhere on a run and need a ride, but I can also listen to music. Like the iPhone, it'll play songs aloud with its built in speakers. The sound quality is good, particularly indoors. Outdoors, the highest volume level isn't enough anymore because of the sounds of cars, nature, and kids. I often have to hold it up closer to my ear, making less than efficient running form. Since my Shuffle is at school, though, it's good enough. It comes with a built-in bluetooth, which is an awesome feature, but I've been too risk-averse to try running with it in my ear, since it may fall out and get crushed or something.

What I'd really recommend is that anybody working out put podcasts to listen to on whatever music playing device they have. The ones about training or nutrition are informative and motivating, and they are really good at keeping your mind off the pain or the mileage. Time flies by when you're concentrating on something else. I put a variety of podcasts on the Decoy recently. I just googled sports nutrion or running podcasts. Good ones are and There are even ones where the hosts are actually running during the show, so it feels like you're running with someone. It was kind of funny. A good idea, though, that may lead to something even better. You could put running training programs on podcasts. You could do fartleks with it or something that's not straight-up distance but time.

New Years Resolutions

In no particular order:
1. Sub-6 min mile - doable if I train. I'm at 6:15 as of about 3 months ago... not in shape anymore, but I could get back.
2. get a job, do/finish thesis, etc.

That's about it... get back in shape in general. It may be fun to track pure mileage to see what the year total is. I did an easy 6.6 yesterday (felt like I had done nothing by the end of it, although my knees were a bit off). And then 2.2 today (1.2 of it was fartlek - 3:30 easy, 2:00 hard, 1:00 easy, 1:00 hard, 1:45 easy, 1:40 hard). The landmarks in my neighborhood happened to be good numbers. Halfway, I did about 30min strength, for the first time in a long time. I could only do about 30s of 6-inches at a time and struggled hard to do a 2min plank.

And end-of-life goals:
See CO