The tale of an ex- cross country runner training for a half-marathon.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Walk and Think

I planned on going on my run today, and thinking up a super-witty, hilarious, well-organized blog post.  And then I started running.  Instead of thinking up the perfect topic and a fantastic opening line that would jump out and grab the reader, that was the best I could do.  So here goes my attempt at blog-improv:  What do you think about when you're running?  Really, sometimes it's just agonizing because there aren't any distractions.  Just you, the open road, the sound of your own breathing/wheezing, and whatever you happen to be running by (which, the other day, was a fox.  A fox, I tell ya.  If that doesn't prove to you I live in Maine, I don't know what will.  Thankfully it looked more like the first image, and not the second.) 

Calm fox.
Not so calm fox.

Wildlife aside, I think the mental aspect of running is the most difficult part.  I can run through sore legs, slow down to catch my breath, but if my head isn't in it, it ain't gon' HOP-pen, to quote Glozell.  And on those days where you just aren't feeling it, suddenly you start to feel like you're falling apart because first it's something small, like a cramp in your calf, then that turns into a cramp in your quad and then your whole leg and then your whole body, and then you start to feel like you can't breathe and yeah, pretty soon you're stopping to take a quick break, which turns into a longer break which turns into walking all the way home (I call that the real Walk of Shame.)  These are the days when I really question why I run if it can make you feel so awful.

But then there are also those days when everything feels so in sync; you aren't breathing too hard, nothing's sore, and your mind seems to forget the concept of quitting a run before it's over, and even seems to want to continue running even after the workout's over.  Not to sound all hippie, but on days like those I even feel like I'm meditating.  Meditating. What?  I haven't exactly mastered the concept of sitting meditation (10 minutes feels like a lifetime.  One times for a class we had to meditate for one hour, and I almost thought I was going to go insane.  Seriously, how often do you ever just sit and do nothing?  It's much, much harder than it seems.)  But I don't think I've ever been closer to a state of meditation than on my good days of running.  Is there such a thing as transcendental running? If there is, I'm hoping that that's the state of mind I'm in during the half. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Dorm sweet dorm

Blogging will be temporarily postponed as I move back into the dorms.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Day Off

Today was one of the three scheduled days off a week.  Three. Days. Off.  During cross country, we got excited for one day off a week, and that was if we were lucky.  And don't get me wrong, I definitely appreciate a day off here and there, but sometimes the weather's perfect for running, and it's so beautiful outside, the temperature is just right, the sun is shining down, and how can you resist that?  You just can't.  So I've tried to find ways to exercise without running, so it's still technically a day off.  The other day I tried walking, which was nice, but I felt a little awkward, mostly because I was one of those people that you see walking, in normal street clothes, without a dog, that look completely out of place and you just run past them really fast hoping they won't jump out and attack you or something because really, what could they possibly be doing alone on some road besides waiting to claim their next victim?  And of course I ran into the entire high school boys' cross country team, who judged me hardcore for not running.  So yeah, the walking adventure didn't go so well.

Next up, I took to the interweb for exercise videos, which is where I stumbled upon POP Pilates on Youtube. (It's pilates, mixed with pop music. Get it? Get it? So clever.) And oh my lord.  My muscles burned in ways I didn't know they could.  I don't know if we were doing the same workout, but somehow the instructor kept a smile on her face the entire time.  How she was able to stay so peppy and chipper is beyond me, because my abs burned to the point that I couldn't tell if I was moving anymore (Oh yeah.  6 pack, here I come.).  Excessive perkiness aside, the videos were really good, and okay, fine, her excitement kept me from giving up.  I'll probably be sticking to these videos since I can do them in the comfort of my own home, without all the awkward encounters.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rainy Days, Long Runs, and Mexican Soup

Today's weather was sub-par at best.  Between the off and on rain, cooler temperatures, humidity, and just general gross-ness, it looked like it was shaping up to be what I used to refer to as a really, really good day not to run.  But the schedule had a long run planned for today, and so long run I did.  It was six miles total, which isn't really all that far off of what I was running prior to training (5 miles), and went by surprisingly quickly.  Especially after the last mile went from a slow jog to a Usain Bolt-like sprint after a dog decided to chase me. (In retrospect, maybe it was just trying to race me?)   Thankfully, I finished the run with all of my limbs intact and without any puncture wounds, which allowed me to make this soup.  And oh, is this soup worth a run in the rain and a dog chase.  I would go so far as to say that this is the best soup I've ever eaten.  It has about a billion ingredients, but it's easy to make and nearly impossible to mess up.  Just throw everything in, cook, and eat.  I'm sitting here trying to type any words that do justice in describing this soup, but I can't, so just try it.


Confession: I'm not a professional food photographer at my other job.

Long Run Recharge Soup, Mexican-style:
Makes about 4 servings


1/2 can of stewed tomatoes, Mexican style.  I used only half the can of tomatoes, but all of the juice.
2 cans of water, drained from the stewed tomatoes (Just fill the can with the leftover tomatoes up with water, then pour it through a strainer into the pot.)
1/2 can of black beans
1/2 can of white beans (It called them "Great Northern" beans on the can, but that sounds more like the name of a constellation, so I'm calling them white beans.)
1/2 of a tomato, cut about the size of the stewed tomatoes
1/2 cup of wax beans (I really only added these because we had just harvested a ton of them from the garden.  They add a nice crunch, but if you don't have them, the soup will be fine.)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
1/2 a Large Hass avocado, chopped (The name kills me.  Because they really are some large ass avocados)
A few stalks of cilantro, chopped
1 scallion, sliced thinly

1/2 teaspoon of cumin (I haven't been able to say this seriously since Teresa from Real Housewives of New Jersey said she thought it was pronounced cuh-min)
A couple shakes of salt
A bit of freshly ground pepper
Barely a pinch of aleppo pepper, or any pepper, really
A few drops of hot sauce.  I used one that looked like a thoroughly unamused cowboy, but any hot sauce will do.
1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil.  Extra virgin, none of that "light oil" crap.

Put all of the ingredients, minus the avocado, cilantro, and scallions, into a soup pot.  Cook at medium heat.  Once it starts to boil, turn down to medium-low.  Cook for about half an hour or so, stirring occasionally. Add the avocado, cilantro, and scallions, and cook for another 10 minutes on low.  Resist the urge to marry this soup.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Mission Statement

Let me preface this blog by stating that the title is not a reference to the Black Eyed Peas song of the same name.  Fine.  Maybe it is.  Don't judge me. It's good workout music.

So, here's the story of this blog in a nutshell (What does that saying even mean?):

I used to run XC and track in high school, and I remember thinking at my last race, Ugh, thank GOD I'm done with this.  Running sucks!  Why did I choose to do this for four years?  I then proceeded to enjoy a lovely summer sans-exercise.  Then, along came college, and I started getting the urge to run again.  I fought it for as long as I could, but I started running one month into my freshman year and haven't stopped since (That makes it sound like I've been running for years.  I'm a sophomore now, you do the math.)  Now that I've finally come to terms with the fact that I'm a runner, through and through,  I've decided to run a half marathon.  Yeah, I know, the marathon is the real race, blah blah blah, whatever.  The most I've ever run was 8 miles, once, like two years ago.  So 13 (13.1!  Don't forget the extra .1!)  is kind of a big deal.  I decided to start this blog to chronicle the successes/trials/failures/difficulties/whatever else you encounter while training for a race.   I'll be following the Ultimate Half-Marathon Training Plan from Runner's World, mostly because it has ultimate in the title.  I'm a sucker for anything that sounds official.  Anyway, I'll be including other topics outside my running, because, well, that would be boring, both for me to write and you to read.  I think that just about sums it up.

And on that note, let the training commence!*

*As I write this, I'm five days into training, so technically the training has already commenced.  But the symbolism is still there!