Thursday, February 28, 2013

Our new addition

10 days until marathon day! Also known as - let the weather stalking commence!

I would ordinarily be starting to get super nervous at this time, but in what I have yet to decide is a stroke of genius or total idiocy, I'm running a marathon right in the middle of Maryland schools state testing. So far, it's looking pretty good, since I'm so constantly stressed about testing that the idea of even being able to command my brain to stay focused on any other subject at all, much less long enough to become stressed, is hilarious. 

I had to add Gifs to this post because everyone was doing it.

The downside is that I don't deal with stress well. I'm not one of those lunatics that can't eat under stress, don't worry, nothing like that, but good sleep is pretty much out the window. 

Submission: Erika
Not exactly relevant but....PACEY.

Now, I know as a nearly 30 year old non parent complaining about lack of good sleep is grounds for tarring and feathering, but this is my blog and I'll do what I want. Last night, I couldn't fall asleep, then had nightmares about testing and the like, then woke up at 3:30 in a panic and couldn't fall back asleep. This last part was particularly upsetting because the one way in which I feel I am even somewhat equipped for someday keeping an infant (any myself) alive is that I am extremely good at immediately falling back asleep no matter what wakes me up in the middle of the night. I just can't afford to lose that skill.

All this has me really wondering how people who have jobs that are truly stressful manage. Doctors, nurses, anyone in the medical field, police officers, air traffic controllers, President Obama, Katniss - please weigh in.

But all is not lost. First of all, my life is slightly less of a mess now. When I came home from selling running shoes at 10pm last night, Eric had folded and put away all the laundry that had been covering the living room. More importantly, he made me brownies. Which are now gone. And I "only" had three. Do the math.

It gets better. When I came home today, this was happening.

Can you tell what it is?


We'd been talking about getting a treadmill for awhile now. It was on a long list of things we were waiting until we bought a house to do, and we've pretty much decided screw the list, because that's not happening anytime soon and we ain't getting any younger. 

Right before Valentine's Day, Eric texted me (a big deal in and of itself) telling me there was a groupon for half off a treadmill, and we decided that would be our Valentine's Day gift, even though we never even get each other Vday gifts. Cost, justified (plus I'm quitting my gym). 

I've ranted about hating the treadmill before, but that was before I knew the joys of watching movies on the treadmill. Plus, spending my last two weekends in a hotel was quite an eye opener about how much easier it is to get motivated to run when it's cold and you don't have to go outside at all. And of course, the number one reason we wanted one is for down the line when we have little copper colored friends who need constant supervision. This is in no way a pregnancy announcement, but, just saying. 

How do you handle stress - I'm not just curious - I seriously need some ideas. Drinking and chocolate are great and all but they really only get you so far.

Edited to add: This just happened.

"Do you need help?" "No I'm good".

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My life is a hot mess

I've been mentioning here and there that it's taper time, and I forgot to include a little definition for my loyal non-runner readers. The taper is the weeks leading up to a big race where you run less and eat more. (The run less part is the accepted definition, the eat more is my own personal interpretation. Sometimes you need to read between the lines.) The point is to calm the hell down on the crazy mileage and let your legs get super rested so that come race day, you have nothing but energy.

This taper is highly exciting. I've run 8 marathons, but only tapered for 3. 4 of the others were done back to back during ultra training, and when I ran the Lower Potomac Marathon last year (the same race that I have coming up) it was because I unexpectedly got a free bib. Ideally, the the taper will help me run faster during the race. Hopefully that will be the case since I won't have the "oh, whoops, couldn't run fast because I'm really training for my 50 mile race!" excuse available this time.

More importantly, I need this freaking taper because my life is a hot mess. Not overall, but in all sorts of minor ways. Our living room is covered with laundry, my desk at work is covered in papers, I just returned library books ridiculously late, I'm super behind on my reading for grad class, and even worse, Eric and I are weeks behind on all our TV shows (and we don't even watch that many). The DVR is 83% full, which means the situation is really getting dire. I obviously shouldn't even be writing this blog post, but most of those things are really boring and unpleasant and I've already had a long day of work and class. 

I only have to run 30 miles this week, so theoretically there should be time to get my ducks in a row. This is why I never get why every blog is all "it's the taper, what am I going to do with all my free time?". In my case it's always crystal clear - you do all the crap you've been putting off and really needing to do for god only knows how long. That might just be me though, as I tend to be completely disorganized and great at procrastinating and avoiding every other task in order to get my run in.

This is my life.

In other news, Sunday night, when Eric and I got home from Pennsylvania I somehow managed to prep this Tortellini Sausage crock pot soup before getting on my robe and refusing to move from the couch until bedtime. I actually followed the recipe and only added frozen red peppers, onions, and garlic because making soup without onions and garlic is just a gigantic waste of everyone's time. Never mind, change "making soup" to "making anything other than dessert". It was really good (and there's still lots left), so my public service announcement is to make it. You're welcome.

Is your life a mess or are your ducks in a row?

Monday, February 25, 2013

New celebrity crushes

We're in full on taper mode for my upcoming marathon (less than two weeks to go!) so running may be a little boring (today was 5 miles at 8:51 after work). Luckily, I have some new celebrity crushes to talk about.

I'm not real hip and with it, I've literally never once been to Perez Hilton, and I'm just generally embarrassingly behind and out of touch with celebrity gossip. Therefore, when I actually branch out and learn who new celebrities are, much less develop crushes on them, it's kind of a big deal. 

Ladies first: my new girl crush is Jennifer Lawrence.

How can you not love this?

I didn't really like her at all, at first. It wasn't really her fault. Once an actor is cast in a really important role (which I define as "they are in a movie or show that I watch over and over"), I really don't appreciate them breaking character to portray other roles or do personal interviews. Example: Tom Hanks is, and will always be, Forrest Gump to me, end of story.

Example 2: I specifically remember my mom taping an interview with Mr. Big for me, and I mean really taping, as in with a VHS cassette. Old school. 

To find this google image, I typed in Mr. Big - I don't know his "real" name.

I had to turn it off when he started referring to conversations with "Sarah Jessica" and not Carrie. Let's not even get started on him discussing Law and Order. You may be picturing me as a teenager with my mom taping things for me, but I know it was when I lived in Baltimore, so I was old enough to have graduated college and have begun my career. 

So I didn't truly dislike Jennifer Lawrence when I first discovered who she was, I just didn't like her being all non-Katniss in interviews and stuff. But I've managed to move past that and now I kind of love her. I saw some cute clips of her on the Today show this morning so I was all excited to watch more interviews tonight. Unfortunately, my joy was short lived when I quickly discovered that her best actress Academy Award wasn't for Hunger Games? I was really busy watching How I Met Your Mother reruns for the 10th time each last night, so this was a total shock. I've heard that's a good movie and all, but from what I understand Peeta isn't even in it, and there's no arena or anything. 

Just go to the bakery and I'm sure Peeta will hook you up. 

My new male crush: Nev Schulman, host of MTVs Catfish, which by the way is my new favorite show. If you've seen it, yes I am aware he has ridiculously excessive body hair, but the crush stands.
This picture made me suddenly realize that he looks just like an old Starbucks coworker that I used to
have a crush on and now I'm kind of freaked out.
I have concocted a detailed plan in which I will end up on the show and meet Nev, but unfortunately I cannot reveal it here, as he is a master internet sleuther (that's the whole premise of the show - he gets to the bottom of internet dating stories where one party is using a false identity, a la Manti Te'o).

That about wraps it up for my celebrity crushes, except that I just want to make it clear that I still love Katy Perry, Jillian Michaels, and The Rock.

Did you watch the Academy Awards? The acceptance speeches make it unbearable for me. And not seeing any of the movies. And not knowing who anyone is.

Who's your celebrity crush?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Alyssa's internet bog thing

 In my last post, I shared that my wonderful grandmother passed away, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the kind words and comments. After that, I took a little break from blogging. 

(Side note - I've had to start moderating comments because you would not believe the amount of spam you get when you include "50 shades of grey" in a blog title).

Unfortunately, I'm assuming most of us have been through the loss of a grandparent, and therefore have a pretty good idea what my week was like. On top of that, apparently life still goes on, and I'm a week out from my students taking their state test, which is pretty much the Super Bowl for teachers in terms of pressure and anxiety, without all the confetti and rings and monetary compensation for doing well. So even if I'd had time to blog, I really couldn't think of anything to say that wasn't all "woe-is-me" or whiny and complaining. Based on my extensive perusal of the internets, there's no lack of whiny, complaining, woe-is-me posts, so I figured that was already covered and no one would miss me. But if you did, don't worry, I am posting a horribly embarrassing picture of myself as an apology.

So, running. For all the above listed excuses, this wasn't my strongest week of running, but I managed to complete the all 41 miles required in my first week of tapering. 

Here's the breakdown.

Monday: 6 miles (no Garmin)
Tuesday: scheduled for 4 miles. Pushed snooze repeatedly. Didn't run.
Wednesday: 10 miles (no Garmin). I swear that the fact that this happened was a true miracle. 
Thursday: scheduled for 4 miles. Pushed snooze repeatedly. Didn't run.
Friday: 15 miles at a 9:45 pace for my long run. Began at 5am. Enough said. 
Saturday: Finally did the freaking 4 miles on the hotel treadmill. 8:54 pace.
Sunday: Speedwork on the treadmill - 6 miles with 3 at 10k pace (7:50). Overall pace 8:30. 

This weekend was Gram's funeral, so Eric and I left Friday night to drive the 3 hours to Williamsport, PA (where I spent last weekend with her in the hospital). Once again, we've all been there, so I won't get into details, but let's just say Chocolate is My Life played an unexpected, starring role. The minister Gram wanted wasn't available, but the guy we chose instead made a huge effort to "get to know" Gram through our family. My mom sent him the post I wrote about Gram a few years ago. After the opening prayer, he announced that he learned so much about Gram through "Alyssa's internet bog thing". He shared tons of stuff about Gram that I wrote. I would have loved to share stories myself but 1. I hate/am terrible at public speaking and 2. I'm horribly emotional and would have just been a sobbing mess, so this was just perfect. 

I don't know how my family would have survived this thing without our little saving grace, Harrison. 

He loves his Uncle Eric!
This face feels weird. 
He cheered us right up with his first swim in the hotel pool. 

I hadn't brought a bathing suit, but if you've been reading this blog for awhile I'm sure you predicted that there was no way in hell I was missing this. There was a Kohls next door to our hotel, so I went over determined to get a bathing suit at any cost. Except I really wanted to spend the absolute minimum amount possible, since I had like 7 bathing suits at home. 

Adult bathing suits were at least $40 on clearance. A child's bathing suit was $15. Which would you choose?

I figured all eyes would be on the adorable baby and no one would even look at me, but this suit was ridiculous enough to provoke ridicule even with Harrison kicking around the pool like he owned the place. I agreed to a picture so we can all share in the laughter. 

Then there was that awkward moment where you go swimming with the mother of a six month old and she has the perfect body and abs of a supermodel and you have....a blog dedicated to your love of chocolate. And you can't even be like "oh, that bitch just has good genes" because it's your sister

This is seriously not me fishing for compliments, it's me complimenting and being slightly jealous of my sister. Trust me, I've come to a happy medium where I can fit into all the pants I already own while still consuming the mass amounts of chocolate I need in order to maintain a good quality of life. My husband regularly threatens to leave me if I lose my whooty status, and then I'd have to carry my own heavy stuff, and do my own car maintenance, and do all sorts of other tasks that I don't want to. So that would suck. 

Well, I tried not to get too sappy or whiny in this post. At least you get to mock me in a ruffled child's bathing suit.

What's your go-to solution when you need to cheer up? Other than dessert, because that one's obvious.

Monday, February 18, 2013

50 Shades of Grey in large print

The final official training week for my marathon next month is complete, and this week is an easy breezy taper week of only 41 miles. 

Last week was rough, and not just because I ran a total of 59 miles. Wednesday night my sister called me to tell me that our grandmother had taken a turn for the worst. I left for her nursing home in Pennsylvania first thing Thursday morning and spent the next three days at her bedside with my family, saying our goodbyes. She passed away late Saturday night.

My sister, Gram, and me (at my wedding, if the veil didn't clue you in)
I have about a million sappy things I could say, so it's probably a good thing that I decided to write this post in the morning with coffee rather than last night while I drowned my sorrows in red wine and coffee. I'll save my reminiscing to do with those who were lucky enough to know her, because there really are no words that could possibly explain how special she was. I did try when I wrote an uncharacteristically lovey dovey post about her awhile ago. I'll just throw out there that she was almost finished with the second 50 Shades of Grey book, in large print, when she passed away, and I don't think you'll find too many copies of that in nursing homes!

Rocking out to Shout at our wedding!
If I ever needed running, it was this week! Obviously I still turned to my usual favorites, chocolate and wine, to cheer me up but nothing really does the trick like a good run. And you know who else really helped? My girl Ke$ha! Did you know it's physically impossible to cry while listening to Blow? You can't argue with science.

I've long expressed my jealousy for Kari, Kara, and anyone else who owns a treadmill and is therefore able to run while watching TV or movies. I was finally able to try it out for myself at the Friday morning by streaming Netflix on my Kindle using the hotel treadmill and wi-fi. I have been dying to see Brokeback Mountain basically since it was in theaters and just never got around to it (probably because I almost never watch movies that aren't based on young adult novels I've read) so that was the perfect choice.

The experience was all I hoped for and more. 11 miles flew by, even with 8 x 400s (overall pace 8:34). There was an elliptical positioned right behind me that a woman and her husband took turns on (no way I was giving up the one treadmill) so I amused myself by assuming they thought I was running speed intervals while watching gay porn. 

After that, I had one last 14 miler on the schedule. I couldn't get up early enough to do it Saturday morning, and then unfortunately my mom and stepfather were forced to see what usually only Eric has to deal with - how annoying I am when I am supposed to run and don't. 

I get fiesty.
They made it until about 2pm until they insisted I take a break from the hospital and run, and my cousins suggested a local bike path which turned out to be mostly flat and deserted, aka perfect. I did 7 miles at an 8:33 pace and then did the other 7 the following morning at the same pace while watching old episodes of The Office on the treadmill. 

I watched the episode with Phyllis's wedding, so I tried to keep the theme going with a pic from my mom's wedding. 
I don't really know how to close this post except to say that I am going to miss Gram so much, every day. I've been blown away by friends, coworkers, and even strangers reaching out to express condolences and share kind words and funny stories about Gram, so I'm going to ask a more lighthearted question for the comments section. 

What's your favorite entertainment for the treadmill/gym? Be specific - as in particular artists, podcasts, TV, etc. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Did you know there's no traffic at 4am?

I've recently received two videos of my nephew laughing, and I knew if I didn't see it in person as soon as humanly possible I wouldn't be able to survive. So I scheduled a trip home for Presidents' Weekend (this weekend, for those of you who don't get bank holidays off).

My hometown is in upstate NY, so while they didn't get the worst of Nemo, they got about a foot of snow dumped on them. Naturally, my first thought was "how will this affect my running?", and the answer was "quite negatively". I don't own yaktraxx because I'm a soft Marylander now and Amazon Prime didn't even have them in my size. My YMCA membership does give me access to a treadmill there. So that left me either slogging through 20 miles of deep, icy snow or running 20 miles on the treadmill.

After a dream where I ran back and forth across the living room for three hours and called that my long run, I decided I needed to create option C. 

Running 20 miles before work. I've done that once before, but that was in August during the week given to teachers to set up our classrooms, meaning I could work at my own pace, take a break if I needed to, and most importantly wouldn't have people calling my name every single second. This was my longest run before actually teaching. 

All things considered, this was a pretty good run. The weather was decent, there's minimal traffic at 4am, and I listened to some hilarious podcasts and my audiobook. Surprisingly my legs felt fine even though I'd done another 20 miler 3 days ago. I even felt energetic at work, I wasn't dragging at all (probably all that meat) - but I'm sure that will come back to haunt me sooner or later.

To make things extra interesting I had four interns watching me all morning, and I was really concerned that I wouldn't be able to put together a coherent sentence, much less teach children AND model my profession for college students. 

Even more concerning was my outfit choice. Sometimes I look through old pictures for the blog and realize I'm wearing clothes that I've had for five years. 

Or ten years. 

I finally got some new clothes this weekend, and even though my fashion guru friend Casi helped me pick them out (and told me "no" like 37 times when I picked up lame crap that looked good to me), I was still worried about using them to create an outfit by myself.

I had a vision of these young college girls showing up and me thinking I was all fashionable but in their eyes being all Dr. Evil - "I'm hip, I'm cool!"


So I had to spend Monday night texting pictures to Casi and my sister and get the fashionista approval.

The final selection.
In summary, I don't really know how I came off to the interns but in my mind I nailed it.

I listened to a hilarious two part podcast series about how delicious McDonalds is this morning which led me to take a brief pause during my run to investigate whether or not Shamrock shakes were finally out at the location nearest to us. They were. Game on. Then I stupidly drove home and sat down on the couch and completely forgot to get one. Somehow I convinced myself to walk over and get us some anyway because they would match my pants.

Yeah, not so much, but I'm pretty sure I made the right choice. 

Are you good at dressing yourself or are you like me?

What's the craziest thing you've ever done to get a workout in? This was nuts but 100% worth it for extra baby time this weekend!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Confessions of a recovered vegetarian

Since giving up my 16 year streak of vegetarian ways (full disclosure - I've been eating fish since a few years after I moved to Maryland, so I was only full veg for like 11 of those years), I've had a lot of people express curiosity. Most of those people are real life friends who probably won't ever read this. Still, since I don't really have much to share running-wise other than an easy 6 after work tonight I'm devoting this post to a little Q&A. 

This is probably going to come off a bit anti-veggie, but I'm just calling it how I see it. 

1. Do you have more energy since beginning to eat meat again? Yes!

I didn't know how to answer this one at first. I didn't truly dive in to meat eating until Christmas break, and that week I had tons of energy. But it was also a week filled with sleeping a minimum of ten hours each night and having my parents take care of me (aka I had the responsibilities of a four year old). Now that I've returned to normal adult life, I can safely say thanks for donating your life to make me a delicious dinner, animals, because hearing the alarm in the morning only makes me curse two or three times instead of making me feel like I just got punched with a dump truck.

2. Is your husband thrilled? Yes!

Not only is my husband thrilled, it turns out everyone's husband is thrilled. Since the big burger announcement, all my male friends (aka the guys my girlfriends married and now we're all couple friends because that's what happens when you get old) have shown a surprising amount of excitement. I've gotten all sorts of congratulations through texts, twitter, Facebook, etc. If there's one thing I love, it's doing something that takes absolutely no effort, is enjoyable to me, and that millions of Americans do on a daily basis without giving it a second though and then being applauded as though I've actually achieved some sort of significant accomplishment. Keep it coming, guys.

3. Do you feel fuller after meals? Yes!

I'll openly admit I'm a big eater, but that's where that ends.. If anyone else draws attention to my voracious appetite, I'll immediately make some sort of angry comment poorly disguised as a joke which will result in one of those extremely tense, awkward silences while I mentally declare that person dead to me. Trust me, I have witnesses from the time it happened when an instructor called me out in class. 

So once again, I'll thank the animal kingdom for helping me fill up on less food and thus helping me attempt to blend into normal society just a tiny bit more.

Exhibit A: My dinner from Saturday night (after a 20 mile run).

Beef soft taco, enchilada, and tamale. 
Just based on pure volume, I normally would have easily devoured three quarters of that, if not more. Now, this meal was dinner Saturday, Sunday, AND Monday. I'm not saying that while at the restaurant I didn't also eat a gigantic amount of chips and a watermelon margarita the size of my head, but that's a constant, not a variable.

However, I ordered turkey on my sub on the drive down to North Carolina Friday night, and discovered that the addition of meat didn't change my sub mantra: "Six inches is not worth my time". 

Footlong is the only way to go
For what it's worth, I was satisfied with only my footlong sub, iced latte, and Cadbury cream egg (no chips).

So there you have it. Meat is the way to go, at least if you want to feel alert, have a happy marriage and enjoy life. No, seriously, being a vegetarian is fine, obviously I survived and managed to live a normal life for 16 years. But if I ever once again pledge myself to a life without bacon, I'm giving full permission to the entire internet to come slap me. 

Would you rather live without meat or without dessert? A forced choice like that would be the only way I'd ever go back!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Road trip

This weekend, most of the northeast got hit with crazy snow. Baltimore wasn't expected to really be affected by Nemo, but just in case, we got the hell out of dodge. 

We were way overdue to visit our North Carolina BFFs, Nicole and Mike. We've visited them a lot and totally infiltrated their group of friends, so much so that we even got invited on their beach trip last year.  Yet even though we saw all sorts of cool people we never get to see, somehow all I ended up with was this blurry picture of me cuddling with people I spend my entire life with.

Blogging fail.

Friday after work Eric and I picked up our local road trip buddies, Carolyn and Casi, and headed south. I don't know about them, but after a tough week, nothing sounded better than relaxing in the car for a good 7.5 hours.

Yeah, so not exactly an ideal Friday night activity. But the benefit to road trips (other than the adventures you may have stopping at random gas stations in rural Virginia) is that we get so loopy that basically anything becomes hilarious, so what you lack in ability to move or pee at will, you gain in entertainment. 

I've probably complained more than enough about my tired legs this week (although I only posted twice so maybe some of it was just in my head), but I'm not done yet. Friday morning, I did an easy, rainy 5 miles, and my legs just felt like lead. I had a sneaking suspicion that sitting in a car all night wasn't going to help matters and Saturday's 20 miler would be a challenge. I remember that back in the day I could easily hop in the car for a road trip to another state and not feel a thing, but that's no longer the case.

The other fun thing about road trips and running is that you kind of have to purposely dehydrate yourself on road trips, especially since we were driving through creepy dark mountain roads in West Virginia and were 95% sure most of the 7 houses we saw in the state were haunted. 

I wanted to get an early start Saturday so that I could actually see the people I came to see and not be like "thanks for the bed now I'll be running through your town till 1pm", but that's pretty much what happened. But I had what I think was a new experience, and had a great run mentally, even though I felt sub-par physically. Even though my legs hurt from the start and the run was filled with those sneaky, long, subtle hills, it was pretty awesome to be running on a beautiful, sunshiny day instead of under 3 feet of snow. Carolyn joined me for 6.5 miles at the end, just to make it even better.

After the run, the girls spent the day in our traditional fashion, shopping, then met up with the boys to stuff my face at the best Mexican restaurant ever. I bet you wouldn't have guessed it would be located in rural NC. 

Our friend Kim had her adorable baby boy, Asher, in October and I have been DYING to finally meet him. She was a better blogger than me and took a picture.

Look at those cheeks!
We did need to use the baby as a frame of reference to show how big the beer tower was.

Looks like the baby is taller, but not by much.
 Sunday was finally a much needed rest day and I slept like the dead for over 9 hours. Amazing. Since I forgot to take a picture of our foursome when we all looked cute, I demanded we take one in our sweats before going on a 2 mile walk with Nicole's dog.

Another fun weekend idea is to spend all day Sunday in the car, unwinding before the upcoming week. Luckily for me Eric loves to drive so I didn't have to do any of that, at least. Also, you should be impressed with how awesome our friends are, because all that driving was totally worth it.

What was your last road trip?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A post run treat that's NOT food

In my usual fashion of terrible decision making, I signed up for CPR training. Sure, sounds like a good idea right? It's possible it was, but as soon as I forked over my money I realized it was 3 hours after work the day after the SuperBowl. Mondays are already horrible, as we all know, and for me it's the only day of the work week that I don't have class or my second job in the evening.  Major fail.

The practice dummy had no pity for me.
Before we proceed, I want to reiterate that I'm not trying to be all "look at how busy and important I am!". I'm lamenting because I'm lazy and the only thing I want to do after work is "couch" and I don't like doing all these other things.

So this week has been pretty busy, to the point where one day I just entered my distance into DailyMile with no commentary whatsoever, not even my time. Yeah. It was that serious.

The good news is that it was a stepback week in my training plan. The bad news is that the stepback week still adds up to 47 miles. So here's where we are with that so far.

Shockingly good picture from my recent half marathon PR (2 years in the making means heck yes I'm still mentioning it).
Monday: rest day (again, it was the day after the SuperBowl, so obviously no running was happening)
Tuesday: easy 6 miles - I was still a little sore from Sunday's trail run
Wednesday: 10 miles that I can only describe as "sleep running". I wanted to lay down on the side of the road and take a nap, sub freezing temperatures and all.
Thursday: The schedule called for another 10k at 10k pace. The last time I did that, it basically broke me. I conferred with my friend Matt (training plan creator) about modifying it. If I reacted the way I did last time, there's no way I could go to work. I'd like to think I'm dedicated to my training, but taking a sick day for speed work is a little ludicrous. He gave me a pass to only do a fast 5k instead, and said having a job and not being an elite runner that can devote my life to training was an acceptable excuse. I'm really hoping that they expand the definition of elite runner significantly in the near future so this won't be a problem going forward.

That was a really long build up to share that I did 3.1 miles at a 7:50 pace and then 3.1 at about a 9:15 pace.   I'm able to blog now instead of cry so it seems the modification was successful.

I really sometimes feel like I'm in that movie The Truman Show because once again, things were just that perfect. Not one, but two packages can in the mail for me today. 

I couldn't be bothered to get up for the picture so the background is my robe and fluffy blanket.
One was a giveaway that I won from Kasha at Not Insane....Promise - a bunch of cool beauty samples!

And the second was something I had been eagerly awaiting - the new Aspaeris Pivot shorts! Kari is such a good friend that she sent me a gift on her birthday!

I am obsessed with my pivot shorts and they are just as essential to marathon training as ice cream is. They magically heal sore muscles without having to do all that time consuming stuff like foam rolling and stretching and resting. Back in the summer I was a tester for the new line, which was pretty awesome, so I knew this was going to be good. Other than that time I ran 19 miles in the rain and came home to find out my dad had mailed me a cheesecake sampler platter, new compression shorts after speedwork is probably the best post run treat ever. 

The new shorts are super soft and feel wonderful on my thighs and whooty. Even better, they match my compression socks. I needed to take a picture so I felt this was the perfect time to show off my Christmas gift from Eric, a customized medal holder. He even put it up and arranged it by race type for me.

Go ahead, just try not to laugh at my shirt.
Side note - the cheesecake sampler post is from two years ago? I've been blogging for longer than I thought!

Who was your favorite Saved by the Bell character? I always liked AC, and then I married a guy who was captain of the football and wrestling team in high school, so I guess that worked out pretty well for me.

Monday, February 4, 2013

My six month upward spiral

The love of my life, my nephew Harrison (if I ever refer to my husband like that on the internet just stop reading my blog and defriend me) had his sixth month birthday yesterday! I know that I have done a complete 180 in exactly six months because his birth is what sent me into an upward spiral of baby adoration and great choices all around. Alyssa from six months ago would not have even recognized the person laying on the couch in a robe typing this post right now, and this past weekend proved it once again.

The weekend started out with some pretty standard stuff. My BFF Carolyn hosted game night, and I baked peanut butter cake using a recipe recommended by my sister.

Even though she sung its praises, I had to add chocolate chips. It was filled with the good stuff, butter, sugar, white flour, etc, it wasn't some protein powder pumpkin #fitfluential crap or anything, but I have a strict rule that if it doesn't contain chocolate, it's not dessert. 

Eric got me Dirty Minds for Christmas, and this was our first time playing it. It has clues that sound dirty (you spread your legs under me, I always blow to get your privates at attention) that refer to innocent things (folding chair, bugle horn). For someone that lives to find That's What She Said jokes in every possible situation, this was pretty challenging.

Intense focus from the blue team
If you look really closely you can see a Powerade next to me - that's right, electrolytes over booze on a Friday night. That's how focused I am on this training plan. 

Saturday was perfect by the numbers because I needed to run 18 (10 at race pace) miles and it was 18 degrees out. I met my friends Lily and Jen and we started cranking out the race pace miles right away. I was feeling good until I realized that it was mile 2 and my hydration pack hose was completely frozen. The other girls managed to unclog the ice from their packs but mine was frozen solid. We were on a paved trail through  the woods so I couldn't even beg for water at Starbucks or pretend I was a guest at a hotel to get some of that fancy water with fruit cut up in it. 

The trail has a heated bathroom at mile 7 so we stopped there to see what we could do. After about ten minutes, we ended up with Lily holding the pack above my head, pumping it, Jen working on twisting the hose to break up the clumps, and me beneath frantically trying to drink while they yelled "suck, suck!" like some sort of deranged beer bong for runners. And it worked.

We finished the run at a 9:05 average pace. I didn't look at my watch so only six miles were at race pace, but the run was still about a minute per mile faster than most of my long runs and the trail was icy so I'll take it.

After the run was the first sign that I was not the person I used to be. Jen's husband brought her baby to meet us at the end. 6 months ago, I would have tried to be polite while secretly being super annoyed that I had to freeze my ass off after I was exhausted after a long run trying to pretend I cared about some boring baby that couldn't even talk or do anything remotely interesting. 

Now? I had to force myself instead to be polite to Jen's husband for a half second before ignoring both of them to stare and coo at their baby until they got my subtle hints and let me hold him, and I was in baby cuteness heaven. 

I have serious problems with the cold, and my fingers turn colors and get really numb and throb, so I suffered after but it was worth it.

It's hard to tell, but the bottom of my fingers are what a normal human hand
should look like.
Sunday I was supposed to finish out my week with an easy ten miles. I found out there was an $6 eight mile trail race two miles from our apartment, and it seemed perfect.

It wasn't.

First of all the address on the website wasn't exactly where the race began, so I got totally confused and ended up running four miles and sprinting to the race start as the race began (and I still had to register!). 

Second of all, apparently I block things out of my memory. Like the fact that these trails have crazy hills. And the fact that snow + trail running isn't exactly a recipe for "recovery". 

There was a sign at the top of this that said "halfway there", and the
hill just kept going.
Carolyn and I stopped to take this picture when a volunteer told us we were in last place, but don't worry we picked it up and only ended up finishing like 4th last out of the 30 or 40 runners.

Carolyn was kind enough to give me a lift home, and we spent the day preparing for the moment we (I) had been waiting for: SUPERBOWL!

I totally made a photoboth. So crafty!
All weekend I'd been looking forward to fried turkey and football, which created this weird twilight zone situation. Me looking forward to those things was strange for me to believe, yet, it was taking place inside my own head, so I knew it was true. 

I didn't even talk to these girls during the game!
To really give you some context, before the wonderful invention of smart phones, I've actually brought books to SuperBowl parties, and only stopped reading for the commercials and halftime show. 

Even if you don't enjoy football, SuperBowl food is worth showing up to a party with a book. Our little party had: veggies with artichoke asiago dip, chips with homemade salsa and guacamole, buffalo chicken dip, pizza dip, crab dip, bacon wrapped Ritz crackers, fried turkey, leftover peanut butter cake, red velvet cupcakes, and salted caramel brownie cookies. Please, be jealous.

Not all of it is pictured, but all of it WAS incredibly delicious.

Obviously, the game was incredible, the Ravens won, and the city of Baltimore went insane and people rioted in the streets until like 3am. I did my version of that which was finally drinking some wine, now that my runs for the weekend were done, cleaning up from the party, and watching post game coverage until midnight. The Ravens have made the playoffs for the past five years, and I haven't cared. This year, I started caring, and they won the SuperBowl. I'm not trying to brag, but I'm just pointing out that obviously it was my support that made the difference. It's just a mathematical certainly, that's all.

Last week's mileage total: 60! I have one more high week coming up and then I can taper for the marathon.

SuperBowl: Did you watch? Thoughts? Favorite Super Bowl foods (this applies whether or not you watched)?