Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013, it's been real, it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun

Well, here we are. About to say goodbye to 2013.

My mom reminded me that I really need to savor today, because come midnight, my most prized possession will no longer be relevant.
The 12 months of Harrison calendar ends today.
Alright, now let's go through 2013 month by month so I can list everything that happened and then explore my 2013 resolutions in the same fashion!

Or not, because no one cares.

Actually, I couldn't even find my New Year's Resolutions. I wrote them on a paper plate sometime after midnight last NYE, but they had been replaced by Christmas cards. My memory is absolutely terrible, but I was able to infer that I had a temper tantrum  about failing at all of them in early December and recycled the plate.

I didn't fail at all of them though (just the major ones). I did PR in the marathon!

BREAKING NEWS: I took a picture of the plate and posted it in my PR post. I succeeded at another resolution - I cooked more meat!

Also, for the first time, I was involved in a group resolution. To see Ke$ha in concert. With these guys.

This is what sexy looks like.

Well, not my sister (black and white dress), but it was the first picture of the five of us I found, and she has already seen Ke$ha, so we're good.

Those of us who didn't cheap out on the seats took this. Hint: not us. Races don't come free. Sorry Ke$ha.
Like anything, 2013 had good and bad. If I could repeat a year of my life, 2013 would be scratched off the list pretty quickly. 2012 would be a top contender though, or maybe 2008 when we got married. Or any year in college. I could really get on board with having no responsibilities and most of my friends living within a mile radius. It's hard to believe blogs didn't even exist then, and I have to rely solely on actual memories and pictures taken with film to reminisce.

I got started on my big 2014 goal yesterday. Sort of. I began my 100 miler training plan with.....wait for it.....a six mile run! I know, it kind of sounds like a run someone might do any old day. But it wasn't. It was on the training plan.

I say sort of because I forgot to add it to Daily Mile, so it technically didn't even happen. I was really busy getting ready to go see Catching Fire again, and if you were wondering, it was just as spectacularly wonderful as it was the first time.

Goodbye 2013. Welcome, 2014, which brings the Divergent movie and Game of Thrones season 4!

What year of your life would you most want to repeat and why?

What are you most looking forward to in 2014? Probably in real life it's my sister's wedding, but reuniting with some of my favorite fictional characters is up there too.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

On track the whole time

Around this time of year, the social media posts about "eating clean" and "getting back on track" start cropping up. I truly feel bad for all these people, because it must be stressful eating dirty and being off track all week.
Personally, my eating was almost exactly on track all week. I haven't had a problem getting off track during the holidays in years. Every single meal was delicious. Most included some sort of holiday treat that I don't normally get to eat. Just a few examples:
  • glazed ham
  • collard greens
  •  pulled pork bbq hash
  • buffalo chicken dip
  •  bacon/caramel/peanut popcorn
  • 5 spice millionaire's bacon
  •  ham and cheese omelet (I know that's not a seasonal treat but my father in law makes them so much better than I or a restaurant ever could)
  • and the one thing I got a picture of - my mom's homemade hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows.
Drinking it in my new Christmas pjs that I'd been wearing since the night before was extra special.

I say I stayed "almost" on track because there were a few instances I hadn't anticipated, and they threw my carefully laid plans for a loop. For instance, I didn't even know I was getting any macaroni and cheese, but it turned out that my mother in law AND my mother made it - they both have signature recipes, totally different, both unbelievably delicious. Also, I'd planned on drinking copious amounts of wine each night, which I did. But I had no idea my sister was also going to introduce me to eggnog spiked with Jim Beam Maple whiskey. Amazing.

Most importantly, I was lucky enough to eat all those wonderful things with people I love. Exactly on track.

There's one person I love so, so much that it's more like a middle school crush. I strategically plan every move in hopes of seeing him. I am desperate for any attention or the slightest indication that he cares about me. Or even knows who I am.

Sometimes, I can bribe him to be near me.

Other times, his love can't be bought.
 Somehow, I was nominated to get up with him on Christmas morning. At first, I was all like "um, wait a minute, the whole point of being an aunt is to experience all of the fun parts with zero of the non-fun parts (diapers, early wakeups, the pain of childbirth, etc) - that crap is for moms,". But once I realized it meant extra time with my BFF, I was on board. He seemed.....not unhappy to see me when I went to get him from his crib, and even sat in my lap to drink his morning juice. SWOON.

I do have to fight Eric for his attention.
He's recently learned some new tricks.


We managed to drag him away from his many new toys long enough to look through our parents' wedding album (circa 1980) with us.


Also for him and his father to develop alien eyes.

My family is so freaking good at giving gifts. As always, I was showered with things I never knew I always wanted.  

I have two main problems that plague my everyday life. Being cold and being lazy. My husband attacked both of those.

Super warm and comfy scarf with pockets for when I suffer from frostbite every day at work.


Unpictured: electric blanket. It's the third fabulous blanket I've received for Christmas. I guess word has gotten out.

Being lazy isn't really a problem. The problem is that things prevent me from being lazy. Like not having the arm strength to hold my phone up comfortably while playing Words With Friends in bed. Or having to sit up to watch a movie, because I can't see the TV laying down.

That will no longer be a problem.
They work like a charm.

It's annoying because I did not inherit this wonderful perfect gift giving gene (Eric did even though he married in) and I suck at giving gifts. But the shirt that goes with Eric's Christmas jammies did make his Facebook profile picture, so there's that.
"Keep calm and hate Ohio State". In tight pants.
My sister got him a sorting hat.

I had to include it just because I love this picture.
I highly recommend adopting my holiday eating plan for next year, and we can all stay on track. I won't lie, you do risking gaining a dreaded holiday pound or two - the horror! But you'll be much happier treasuring time with your loved ones than panicking over every Christmas cookie calorie. If there's one thing I've learned recently, it's that life's too short. Ain't nobody got time for that.

Best thing you ate this Christmas, and funniest moment. GO.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013, the most creative title ever

Merry Christmas!

In light of the holidays, I ventured out of my introvert bubble and actually spent the weekend doing things and seeing people. Most notably, meeting my friend’s adorable new baby. 

Also, I watched Love Actually, Elf, and Four Christmases.


On Monday, Eric and I drove up to Ohio to spend Christmas with my inlaws. I’m a Christmas nazi, so we normally spend Christmas with my family in NY, and do Thanksgiving or Easter with Eric’s family. But this year, with Christmas being on a Wednesday, it was the perfect storm and we have an extra long break (12 days off!), so we get to see both families for Christmas this year.

How cute is my mother in law?

I know every family has different Christmas traditions, but it turns out they have a couple of the same ones as my family.

1.       The mad dash to do all your grocery shopping before the stores close on Christmas Eve, which leads to inevitably forgetting a crucial ingredient, and that results in one family member getting nominated to do the mad dash to find a store open on Christmas day.

2.       Some sort of kitchen disaster.
Red velvet cake explosion. No one was mad about that one. And it was still delicious.

No offense to Christmas, but I don’t beat Eric at games that often, so this may have been a high point.


He was not pleased.


I was born without a competitive bone in my body, and he was born with enough to make about 20 more skeletons. Side note – the words with friends board game is way harder than the mobile version! You have to actually figure out what to play before your turn, and not just randomly place letters and see if it’s a word 20 times.

My 100 miler training technically starts in 4 days. That came up quite quickly. I’m still on a running break until then, meaning I don’t have to run unless I want to. It was pretty easy to want to last week in Maryland, since the weather got up to 70 degrees Sunday. I ran 5 miles outdoors Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, and each time I wore a t-shirt and shorts.

Ohio was a little different. I woke up to this Tuesday morning.

That was fun.
Still, there was no snow on the ground, and no other options for exercising, so I bundled up and went for it. I went three miles and felt great, then I turned around to head back. It turns out that the way back was into the 20 mph winds, and in the great Midwest, there’s no elevation or anything buffer you. I made it though, and then repeated the 6 mile route the next day. On Thursday, it had warmed up to 30, feels like 19, which felt like a tropical vacation, even though it had snowed the night before so the ground was nice and slippery. I’d slept too late and only fit in four miles, but since I’m on a training break, who cares?
Those glittens kept my hands ridiculously warm.

That's all over now though. We arrived in New York last night.
As always, I'm thrilled He isn't.
My sister got the Cards Against Humanity expansion pack for Christmas.
All I hoped for and more.
This morning, I considered my choices.
See ya in Maryland, running.

This blog post was brought to you by Harrison, tablet master.


Thursday, December 19, 2013


Great news. I survived my root canal.

Sort of. After the procedure, I was informed that was only part 1. Apparently I have to visit the specialist twice, then my regular dentist for a crown. So I'm 1/3 of the way there.

As many people wisely told me, the worst part of the whole thing was the bill. Although my anxiety gave that a run for its money. The jury's still out about who the real winner is.

I mean this in the nicest way possible, but I got a comment yesterday that scared the crap out of me. Apparently someone did have an abscess and the pain was so unbearable that they went to the hospital in the middle of the night to beg for pain meds. I was terrified to go to sleep and wake up to searing pain.

Luckily, I survived, but was up at the annoying hour of 6:30 am. I felt I'd tempted fate enough, no sense risking sleeping any further. Still, I managed to have a nice morning with Christmas flavored coffee, watching more than 10 minutes of the Today show, and FaceTiming with my sister and my nephew. It also included 5 Buffy filled treadmill miles, to really take the edge off.

The way my anxiety works is actually pretty similar to my problem solving method. If I just stick my head in the sand and focus on denial, it's my best chance of survival. In this case, that meant knowing absolutely nothing about what a root canal actually is, other than people telling me they are "not bad".

The only time I had to go to a dental specialist was to have my wisdom teeth removed, so I just assumed it would be like that, and I'd be on a pudding and soup diet. I got myself and several twitter friends all psyched up for milkshake night.

Finally, it was go time. I arrived at the office and saw this. I felt it was a good sign.

They had no idea that I am queen of the cowards.

The doctor was a woman and I instantly loved her. So much so that I barely even minded that she was shooting me up with Novocain within a minute of our introductions. Just a few more minutes after that, she was starting the procedure (and I still had no idea what that actually entailed).
Right away, I could feel it and made them stop and give me more shots of Novocain. I wasn't taking any chances there. Then, they went to town with all sorts of crazy medieval torture devices (or so they appeared). I squeezed the crap out of my stress ball, the doctor and technician told inane stories to distract me (again, loved that) and she only had to tell me to stop clenching my shoulders like twice.
I was wearing my new Christmas gift from Charm City Run, the Brooks Utopia Thermal Hoodie and she jokingly told the technician to drug me so she could steal it. I don't blame her, it's amazing.
Drugged selfie
You were probably too blinded by the gorgeous hoodie to focus on my half numb sexy smile, so here you go.

You. Are. Welcome.
Turns out, you can eat whatever you want after a root canal, especially once the Novocain wears off. But I already had soft foods in my head, and I had to go to the store to pick up my prescription anyway, so I picked up a nutritious dinner.
Have you had these fries? LIFE CHANGING.
Enough said.
Here's hoping parts two and three will go just as smoothly (they won't be until January). The Novocain has now worn off, and so far, I feel fine. Even better, after tomorrow, I have a full THIRTEEN DAYS OFF WORK!
The wonderful news continues, and this time, it isn't even only benefitting me. Aspaeris, the company that makes the world's greatest compression shorts (and now capris!) is having a sale. Until Christmas
Eve, you can get 40% off with the code MERRY.
From that one time I ran outside in the month of December.
What is the number one anxiety causing thing in your life right now? And how do you deal? Normally I hit the wine, but I got through this one stone cold sober!





Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I think someone edited my letter to Santa

There are a lot of reasons I suck at life, and today I'm going to tell you a story about one.

Once upon a time, a bright eyed, bushy tailed version of myself moved from my hometown in upstate NY to Baltimore, MD, to change the world as a special education teacher. Being young and dumb and confused by the world, it was a tough transition. Eventually though, I became a Maryland citizen, got a library card, found a grocery store, a doctor, and all the other life necessities that one needs.

Except a dentist. At this time, I was living the hip city girl life, basically exactly like Carrie Bradshaw, except wearing flats and solving 6 year olds' arguments about farts rather than writing a sex column. I still kept up with my cleanings, more or less, but bounced around different dentists, trying to find one I liked.

When I got married and moved to the burbs, I knew I needed a new dentist. I hadn't loved that one, and I would also walk the 2.5 miles there through sketchy neighborhoods because it was better than trying to find parking. Now, I was a good 10 miles away, so that was out.

The problem was, I have enough trouble getting motivated to complete time sensitive tasks. Something like "find a dentist" got pushed waaaaay down to the bottom of my to-do list with all the other vague non-deadline items. Plus, going to the dentist sucks, and that wasn't helping.

Then, I started getting a toothache. It gradually hurt more and more, I couldn't chew on that side, etc, etc. I applied my normal method of problem solving, which is to ignore the problem and hope it goes away on it's own. I have about a 50% success rate with this.

Maybe a week and a half ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with throbbing pain all along my gums near the sore tooth. It hurt so bad that I couldn't fall back asleep, and I am really, really good at falling back asleep in the middle of the night. I finally had to take some extra strength Tylenol (I'm not all annoying martyr about it but I hardly ever take pain meds, aside from during/after races).

So, shockingly I was in the 50% of the time where ignoring the problem wasn't working out. Or was I? While my mouth hurt the whole next day, after that, the pain was all gone, like magic! It had worked!

However, I had a sneaking suspicion that things were too good to be true. What got me to finally put on my big girl panties and man up was my recent obsession with Holocaust memoirs. Both stories discussed women in the camps suffering from infected teeth. It prompted me to get my head out of my ass and realize that I'm lucky enough to have dental insurance and a job with sick time and find a freaking dentist before things got even worse.

My friend Kristin recommended her dentist because he was "gentle", and I was sold.  I loved him from the moment I met him. He noted that I checked the "fear of dentists" box on the new patient questionnaire, and asked if it was due to a bad experience. He didn't seem to judge me at all when I explained that I'd had nothing but good experiences, I just have anxiety about needles, medical procedures, pain, and life in general.

He confirmed my suspicion that the problem had not magically gone away. The nighttime pain was the infected nerve attempting to regenerate, and the subsequent lack of pain meant that it had failed, and the nerve was now dead. This is apparently VERY BAD.

I needed a root canal as soon as possible, and until I got the root canal, I would be at risk for an abscess, which would also probably take place in the middle of the night, but would be significantly more painful and more complicated to fix. I can't tell you anything else about what he said because at that point my mind had spiraled down the panic rabbit hole, because:
1. Root canal
2. We're 3 business days out from the holidays, aka a stretch where all dentists will be closed so if this horrible abscess happens I'm totally SOL.

Despite the fact that I had no one to blame but myself and there was no reason the universe should take pity on me, it did, and a root canal specialist is able to fit me in tomorrow.

I thought that was the universe taking pity on me. Until they showed me the $500 bill. That's for me to pay, after insurance has covered their portion. I barely had time to take it in because I'd only gotten a morning sub and I had to rush to work to pick up my class from lunch.

I was so nervous and upset that I was nauseous and didn't eat lunch. That's the first time I can remember being too distraught to eat since my high school boyfriend dumped me when I was 16. Even finding another woman's bra in my college boyfriend's studio apartment after we'd been dating 3 years didn't curb my appetite in the slightest. Quite convenient that this exciting first took place right before a procedure that will most likely render me unable to eat, at least for a short period. No worries though, I was starving by dinnertime.

This really isn't at all what I asked Santa for, but I guess it's what he's getting me, so ready or not, root canal, here I come.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who totally screwed myself with the whole "ignore the problem" genius plan.

I would also like to hear about root canals that were minimally painful and had a quick recovery time. Anything else about root canals just go ahead and keep to yourself.

Monday, December 16, 2013

You know you have social anxiety when....

You know you're coming off a good weekend when you can't decide what the highlight was: finding a fascinating Holocaust memoir to read, or Sunday morning when Titanic and the Sex and the City movie were on simultaneously.

I was supposed to venture out and interact with others Friday night, at Eric's work Christmas party. Something I've come to realize as I've gotten a little older is that Christmas parties for educators are in a different ballpark than Christmas parties in the private sector. Apparently those provide drinks, food, a location, gifts, music, etc....aka it fits the widely accepted definition of "party".

For us, it's more like "hey, when do you all want to get together and drink before Christmas?". And everyone picks a time, and an (inexpensive, we don't make much) place, and it's on.

I got home from work and was exhausted. That's a pretty typical state of affairs, but I also had a headache and a slight fever. (99.1, but I'm a freak and my temperature almost never even hits 98). I pretty much didn't leave the couch until it was time to go to work on Saturday at 3pm. I still felt fairly sick, and as we all know, working sick is just fantastic.

You know you have social anxiety when a fever is preferable to a party where you hardly know anyone. Also, Legally Blond was on. Do you realize that movie came out in 2001???

As I said, Sunday involved two of my favorite movies, and more reading and crying. The historical fiction novel I read last week got me sucked in, and now I can't stop. (Full disclosure: those aren't affiliate links, because I'm not cool like that, just amazon links to the books for those of you who want to be depressed when they read, like I do.)

A weekend where I leave my pajamas as little as possible is a huge win for me. It's freezing out, so hot chocolate is my newest dessert obsession.

I managed to leave the house Sunday night, and also did 30 minutes on the bike trainer. I went to the Charm City Run employee Christmas party, which, incidentally, did fit the normal definition of "party". Eric had his monthly WWE hot date with a bunch of other fake wrestling obsessed men. I convinced my (male) friend Alex to stand in as my date.

It was actually fun, chatting with others face to face, and it didn't hurt that the food was delicious. The best part was white elephant (the game where everyone brings a gift and you can either choose one to open or steal one). 

Most of the gifts people brought were on par with the one I provided, which was a huge hit.

I'll miss you, Mr. New Booty.

We have five locations, and the lucky recipient of my fabulous gift works at a different one, so I wasn't sure if he would be comfortable with the internet fame that comes along with exposure on Chocolate is my Life. But trust me, he was thrilled.

I was doing pretty well, but my Starbucks gift card and then Trader Joes goody bag both got stolen, and my despair forced me to try every kind of Christmas cookie provided. I ended up with one of those heat or freeze packs that you can use on sore muscles. This one is filled with cherry pits, which sounds weird, but it smells great, and as I've made clear, I'm all for anything and everything warm these days.

In summary, it seems when I'm not running (and done with grad school), I'm averaging one book for "pleasure" per week. I'm happy with those stats. 

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Snowday Personality Test

We're on snow day #2 over here! This is considered a total blizzard in Baltimore. They didn't even have The Price is Right on, so they could report about the "storm".

I've said this before (although it doesn't really count because that was when my blog had like 2 readers, which is only about 25% of the current readership) but I really think a snow day is the best personality test in the world. I realize most professions don't get them, but I'm sure we've all been blessed with a period of unexpected free time at some point. (If you are jealous of our snow days, just remember I haven't had a raise in like 5 years, probably never will again, and I have to buy things like tissues, soap and hand sanitizer for work with my own money).

If you think to yourself: "YES, I'm about to enjoy a day in my pajamas with no contact with the outside world, where my sole accomplishment will be seeing how deep of an impression my butt can make in the couch", then you're a lazy POS like me.

If you think to yourself: "FINALLY, a day to organize those closets and scrub those baseboards! I need to get my to-do list pad out post haste!" then you're some sort of alternate species that, while I admire you, I will never understand.

It's probably worth noting that Reaction #1 should take place at like 10am, when you roll over after those extra 5 hours of sleep you enjoyed once you turned your alarm off.

I can only imagine that Reaction #2 takes place after you see the snow day announcement and hop right out of bed at the normal time to get started on a fun filled day of productivity!

I think it's important to identify your snow day personality and make sure you find a partner who is the same. I may have married someone of a different race and different religious beliefs, but the important thing is that we're in sync when it comes to deciding how to spend free time.

Well, I may not shoot imaginary aliens, but the important thing is he's not moving or being productive.

I wouldn't have gotten out of my pjs at all yesterday, but we got a package. It was my Christmas gift from Kara! She told me I could open it early.
When you run long distances with someone, you really get to know them. Somehow she had figured out exactly what I wanted, but had never asked for!

Think of how much time I'll save in races! Now I'll never have to stop!
Ok, kidding, she actually got me these amazing pjs and blanket. You can't tell in the picture, but these are the softest, warmest pajamas of all time. Now we can keep the thermostat at a normal (not tropical) temperature, and I can be warm without Eric sweating in a t-shirt and shorts. The gift that keeps on giving.

The socks even match the blanket!
I was concerned about posting that picture, because you can see some unwrapped gifts, but I realized you can only really see my nephew, Harrison's gifts. And he is very advanced, but he probably won't be reading the blog yet.

I also wore clothes other than pajamas for a short period yesterday to work out. I did T25 Cardio, and ran 3.5 miles. On the treadmill, obviously.

More importantly, we decided to make pizza. Since it was snowing and gross out, we only used ingredients we already had, but it ended up being like the best pizza ever. We topped it with Costco marinara sauce, cheddar cheese, Andoille sausage, mushrooms, and caramelized onions. I don't think I can ever go back to pizza with mozzarella cheese now.

I used my brand new Cutco knife to cut the onions, which was very exciting for me. It was a Hanukkah gift from my dad.

Look how shiny!

Kara is organizing a brand new race, a Valentine's Day themed trail 50k on February 15. It's only $20, and there will be oreos, and medals, and I'm sure we can all agree that there is really no better way to spend Valentines Day, right? Now that I've convinced you, sign up here.

Please take the patented "Alyssa Lindsey Snowday Personality Test" by imagining you wake up to a snow day and are absolved of all your responsibilities, and report your results in the comments.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Reading > Running

Tis the season to run races in red and white striped knee high socks and reindeer antlers. For holiday challenges to bust your booty or run every day or burn off the calories in that one tiny piece of chocolate from the advent calendar, you fatty.
I'm taking a different approach.
Side note: my mom sent me the most amazing advent calendar ever. It's from Starbucks and filled with caramels and is a magnetic chalkboard under the candy so we can use it forever.
Please note that Eric hung it with red, white, and green thumbtacks.
Last week, I spent only about 4 hours exercising - which is a lot less than during the fall, when it was normally at least 8 hours, often more. I did the first week of the T25 program, which is 5 different workouts that focus on various things (lower body, abs, speed, etc). Even though they are only 25 minutes long, they can be pretty ass kicking.
I also busted out the old bike trainer and did 20 minutes Friday, and 30 minutes Sunday. Be impressed. It really is amazing how I can run for hours, but 20-30 minutes of any other exercises annihilates me.
Don't worry, the week wasn't completely devoid of running mileage.  I felt like running Saturday, mainly because it was that or perish of a total rage stroke. So I did a whopping four miles.
All this extra non-running time is glorious, and it really helps that the major project of my grad school semester is done too. I've gotten to sleep in, and I read an entire book this week (The Storyteller, by Jodi Picoult, it's amazing, read it immediately).
This weekend was an introvert's paradise. I didn't do anything or go anywhere, except to work my second job on Saturday.
Sunday, we had what Maryland considers a snowstorm. I was about 25% of the way through my book (don't you love how the Kindle tells you that?) and pretty much my entire day consisted of finishing the other 75%. It's about the Holocaust, so of course it's terribly sad, but also fascinating. Eric didn't understand why my idea of a perfect Sunday was lying on the couch, reading and crying.
The snow turned out to be enough for a fabulous snow day today.

 This week is going to be more of the same "eh, I'll do what I feel like!" approach. It's a good time.
Just in case anyone ever wondered what it was like inside my head, this buzzfeed article is, as usual, frighteningly accurate.
Anyone doing a holiday race/challenge? I wouldn't be opposed to one, as long as it somehow involves eating a lot of chocolate. Feel free to share ideas.



Thursday, December 5, 2013

December: a glorious month of laziness

If I thought the internet only had limited information on training for 100 milers, it had even less on what to do in the interim period when one is recovering from a 50 miler, and preparing to train for a 100 miler. Like, none.

So, I'll just make it up as I go along. Last week, I ran about 33 miles. After I signed up for the race early Sunday morning, I thought about the best way to spend my time before true training begins. I decided not running was the way to go.

Sounds counterproductive, right? And it may well be, there's no way of knowing, and by that I mean there's no solid google search results at this time. Anyway, I have my reasons.

After the Stone Mill 50, I had some aches and pains, which is to be expected. I had a fairly serious freak out about some foot pain, but thankfully a week off from running seems to have solved that. But I'd really like to ring in 2014 and start training completely ache and pain free, and really, truly recovered from Stone Mill.

More importantly, I'm lazy. I'm not an "adrenaline junkie" who needs to run every day to live life without a rage stroke. I had a good experience at Stone Mill, and I'm looking forward to training for the 100. The last thing I need is to get sick of it after 3 weeks and be burnt out by Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

To avoid that, I decided to cut way back on the running in the meantime. I want to miss it and really look forward to it. It's also really crucial for my mental state to experience a life where I don't devote significant amounts of my free time to exercise. I'm aiming to meet the general guidelines to avoid heart disease, which I think is something like 5 hours a week (I just pulled that number out of thin air but it sounds pretty reasonable). The most important thing is not having to get up at 5am and run in the dark. I needed a break from that.

I know what you're thinking. Doesn't this bare minimum approach to exercise put me at risk to gain the dreaded holiday weight?

Yes. It does. Especially when you factor in just how good at cooking my mother and mother in law are. It's basically a done deal. But no worries, I've already snagged that coveted MRS title, so we're good there.

This approach does put me on thin ice, because it's easy for me to spiral down into doing absolutely nothing. I don't want to start my training completely and totally out of shape.

I found the perfect solution.

It's really hard to come up with excuses not to get off my ass for only 25 minutes to do a workout DVD. Except today, I nailed the excuses. But Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I did it. It was freaking hard. Plus it can't be bad for me to work some non-running muscles. Running 100 miles probably requires some core strength, right?

I also dragged this guy out of storage and even pumped the tires. It's all ready for tomorrow morning.

Except that's been canceled, because I have to stay up until 11pm to watch the abomination NBC is calling The Sound of Music Live. I'm a pretty serious fan of the movie (I watched it approximately one million times as a child), and this version is just as horrific as I expected. It is making Twilight look like a cinematic masterpiece.
However, the live tweeting is hilarious. It's the musical theater version of Sharknado.

If you get this, you are my type of people.

Confession: I finally watched the movie version of Les Mis this week. Twice. And by confession, I mean "reasons my week has been awesome". I have at least 3 songs from the Broadway version on all my running playlists. It's on HBO again tomorrow. I may watch it again. No shame.
Any other (free) workouts you would suggest for my month of laziness?
Who else is watching The Sound of Music Live? Thoughts?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How do you train for a 100 mile race?

Cliff's notes version: no one knows.

I signed up for April's 100 mile race about 3am Saturday night (registration opened at midnight). I didn't really know if it would fill up, but I had just gotten home from hanging out at a friend's house and was up anyway.

As soon as I woke up Sunday morning, once I got past that "what the hell have I DONE" feeling (kidding, that isn't going anywhere), I moved on to "how the hell do I train for this?".

I spent some time reading all the research on the internet about 100 milers. Actually, not that much time. There's not a whole lot on the internet on 100 milers. Shocking, right?

There was so little, I even had time to line up some awesome pacers. One of the many, many reasons I was hesitant to sign up for a 100 miler was that I didn't think I would know people who would want to come support me when I was dirty, tired, and whiny. In the middle of the night. I've underestimated just how crazy and devoted my running friends are.

From what I understand, the key to completing a 100 miler is to run a lot in training, stay hydrated, and pray.

Look a meme! I worked extra hard on this post!

According to one article, a study showed that people who were successful at the 100 distance only did 10% more mileage than for those training for a 50 miler. Now, this may not have been a peer reviewed study, and it conveniently eliminated key details like what exactly "training for a 50 miler" means. But I like what it says, so I'm going with it.

More seriously, the main idea seemed to be that the key is back to back long runs on the weekends, and focusing on those, rather than a ridiculous amount of miles during the week. This was a relief to me, because I'm really over those Wednesday pre-work 15 milers.

That part is just like 50 miler training. It's unrealistic for a normal person to try to train anywhere close to the race distance. Even if you have time for a 70 miler on Saturday, you don't have time to then spend 3 weeks recovering from it. Instead, you use back to back long runs to simulate running on tired legs while avoiding completely annihilating your body in the process.

I created a training plan that has 2 weekends with 30/20 combinations (30 miles on Saturday, 20 on Sunday), and one weekend with a 52 mile run. The 52 mile run will also begin at 1am - another important part of 100 miler training is night running. Since the race continues overnight into the next day - you kind of have to practice having the sun go down while you're running so you learn to keep running and not just lay down on the side of the road and go to sleep. Or cry.

The plan isn't totally finished, but I'll share it in all its terrifying glory when I'm done. However, there's no hurry, because I won't start training until December 30. Which I'm weirdly excited about.

Since I'm looking at a whole lot of running coming up, what's your favorite thing to listen to while you run/exercise/drive/whatever?

I'm all over the place. My playlist jumps from Miley Cyrus to Broadway to Eminem to funny podcasts to audiobooks, and on a lot of runs I listen to nothing but my crazy thoughts. The only thing I'll never, ever listen to is country. Ew.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The next step, but I don't know why

As some astute stalkers blog readers have already guessed, I signed up for a 2014 race last weekend. It's kind of a big deal.

The C&O Canal 100 miler

This April, I'll be attempting to run 100 miles. Don't worry about me though, this is one of those "easy" 100 milers. It's all on a flat towpath, so you won't find yourself lost while trying to climb a mountain at 3am.

To put it in perspective, there is no race "date". The race spans over two days (Saturday at 7am to Sunday at noon). There's a 30 hour cutoff. Meaning the race continues overnight. I'm counting on my GORUCK experience to get me through that part.

I would have announced it yesterday, along with Kara, but I really wanted my success making pie crust to get top billing.

So now the big question is: why? My friend asked me the day before Stone Mill to explain exactly what goes through my head when I decide running 50 miles is a good idea. 

I didn't have an answer. Then I had 11.5 hours to think about it the next day during the race. I still couldn't come up with anything. At least not that I could put into words. Or even google something someone much more articulate has already put into words.

 I like pain? Except not really.

Something about the challenge maybe? That could be it.

At my first 50 miler, the lows were awful. The thought of running one more step, much less 30 more miles, was incomprehensible and had me nearly laying down crying on the trails.

I wouldn't exactly say every moment of my 3rd one was pure bliss, but relatively, I felt much better throughout the race. I was never near tears, never yelled at strangers, and never thought I'd rather be in the Hunger Games than doing this stupid race. At the end, again, it's all relative, but I didn't feel as close to death as in previous years.

Clearly, it was time to up the ante.

Another possible reason is that I'm really a lazy runner. I know that doesn't seem in line with my current goal race, but stick with me.

Pretty much at this point my options for challenge are either increase the distance, or choose a race and focus on improving my speed. I would much rather run an easy ten miles than a 5 mile tempo run. Focusing on speed is really, really hard, it requires discipline, focus, math (those 800 intervals don't time themselves), exertion - you catch my drift.

Training for a 100 is much simpler. Run. A lot. Then run more. See how much more appealing that is?

We are currently looking for pacers. So anyone that's ever thought "I'd really like to travel to Maryland and run with Alyssa and Kara in the middle of the night while they are dirty, miserable, and probably rude and annoying", please let us know and cancel your plans the weekend of April 26-27. I'll bake you a dessert. I promise.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The key to accomplishing goals: aim low

 I just had four full days off from work. Technically, I did a shift at my second job last night, but it's hard to call that "work" since I get to try on cool new running gear and chat with runners. I did scrub the toilet though, so there's that.

Anyway, I didn't intend for that time to go to waste. Like most productive, motivated adults, I went into my Thanksgiving break with some goals.

1. Sleep as much as possible.

Nailed it. Didn't set an alarm once.

I preferred the bed, not the couch during Cards Against Humanity, but to each their own.
2. When not sleeping, spend 95% of my time relaxing, eating, or reading.

Obviously the relaxing and eating was pretty easy, given the holiday. Eric injected our turkey with butter, and deep fried it. That's how you do Thanksgiving.

Every time it's lowered in, I wonder if this will be the time it causes an explosion.

Apparently he looks evil while carving the turkey.

Because otherwise no one would know what a Thanksgiving table looks like.

Forgot about drinking. I made apple cider sangria for Thanksgiving.

I was a little stressed about the reading. I planned to read two books by authors I actually know in real life, and while I was excited, there's some pressure with that.  I could suddenly really relate to what Carrie went through reading Berger's book.

The first was my work BFF Kristin's book. She's an official published author now - you can buy her book Double Sunset on amazon! I definitely started it because I thought it was so cool that my friend was a real live author, but I ended up sacrificing some of my precious sleep Monday and Tuesday night because it was so good and I couldn't put it down. It's essentially a romance but with a little action - hard to describe but I really recommend it!

The second was even more nerve wracking. My aunt wrote a book, and asked me to read it for her and give her feedback. Now it was family, and she was specifically counting on me to be honest about my thoughts.

I'm not done yet, but it's so good. It's been awhile since I had that "I can't wait to get home from work and finish this book!" feeling (sadly, it wasn't there with Allegiant) and that's how I feel about her book. Such a relief!

3. Don't do a turkey trot.

I mean, clearly this isn't that different from the last goal, but it's a bit more specific. I'd done most of my cooking Wednesday night, so I was free to sleep until 9 on Thanksgiving, and then enjoy nice hot pumpkin spice coffee and the parade. Words can't describe the joy I got from looking at my instagram feed, which was nothing but cold looking people at Turkey trots.

I showed them.

Around noon, I did a free, warm, easy 7 miles on the treadmill, accompanied by Buffy and the smell of frying turkey. I even put the incline at 1%.

4. Hang out with friends

I played about 5 solid hours of Cards Against Humanity and stayed up into the single digits every night catching up with friends I haven't seen recently. Perfection.

Remember when people used to take group shots at social events? Now every time we hang out with our friends there are much cuter things to photograph. 
Saturday. Even I find this dog cute enough to take a picture of. Still hate the species in general though.
5. Get the Christmas decorations up. Done and done. And I played with this photo in my app and made it all weird and fish-bowl-y, because I use my time off wisely.
Hint hint. Santa.
 Don't worry though, I didn't forget about my Jewish heritage.
Eric got 8 Hannukah themed chocolate bars and has been hiding one for me to find each day. I think it's pretty clear how I feel about that.
My first stop each and every morning.

In my tablet - genius.
6. Black Friday shopping. But really black Thursday shopping.

Yup, we went shopping after Thanksgiving dinner, and I feel zero guilt about it. I've worked in customer service since I was 15, which is actually half my life now, which is actually really depressing. But the point is, I've worked plenty of Thanksgivings, especially at Starbucks.

More importantly, my mom manages a movie theater, and those are open 365 days a year, so she's always had to do holidays on another day or stress over getting the day off. I thought that the whole thing about a social media badge telling people not to shop was a joke, because I've never seen a "in support of family values, please consider not seeing a movie on Thanksgiving or Christmas or all the other holidays!" badge.

Apparently it wasn't. And neither is this.

We went to Old Navy and Kohls on our way home from our Friendsgiving. We took turns standing in line, got great deals, made a huge dent in our shopping, got home in time for the second half of the Ravens game, and slept in on Friday. Win/win/win/win.

7. Make my own pie crust.


Apparently this isn't the culinary feat I thought it was, because basically everyone I told was like "oh, I know, I always make my own, so easy, right?". Still, I'd never done it, and now I have. Pumpkin dutch apple pie for the win.


With homemade whipped cream. Lots of whipped cream.
It passed a pretty tough critic, so I felt proud.

You can't tell, but I promise that's my pie crust in her mouth.

It wasn't a goal, but I ran 7 miles Saturday and 5 Sunday. It took time away from relaxing and eating, but whatever.

Black Friday/Thursday shopping - love it or hate it?

Also - last book that you couldn't wait to get home and read? I'm almost done with my aunt's and I'm kind of considering branching out from YA fiction and trying a novel intended for adults.