Monday, January 5, 2015

[Insert cliched New Year's Resolutions post here]

Hola, amigos.

First, a few photos:

I received these lovely flowers as a gift last week, and I have been staring at them and inhaling their perfume ever since.  

They even made a nice backdrop for my bizarre (but delicious) New Year’s dinner:

Bratwurst, potato latkes, peas with pearl onions, blackberries and sparkling grape juice: dinner of champions.

I desperately need some new running shoes (my Nike Frees are almost dead, and my Nike Flex Experiences leave me with frozen feet in the winter), but my shopping lately has been geared toward home goods.  Check out these awesome chairs I discovered during my browsing:

I’ve been MIA from the blogosphere lately, and with somewhat good reason.  Although I’ve been taking it incredibly easy with the running, the rest of my life has been a whirlwind: I’m currently in the midst of a job change and a big move, and I was traveling back and forth for the holidays.

With nothing major on the running horizon, I just didn’t have that much to write about.

Now, it’s a new year, and I’m getting ready to move things into a higher gear.  I still haven’t quite solidified my New Year’s resolutions/goals, but there are a few things I know I want to accomplish over the next 12 months:

Set PRs in my race distances

I’m not going to pressure myself into achieving specific time goals for different distances: although a 25:00 5k might finally be within reach this year, I’m chiefly concerned with besting my most recent sub-27 minute time.  In the half marathon, I made HUGE strides this year, and I only aim to improve.  I won’t know until the early summer whether or not I’m attempting another marathon, but if I do so, it would be great to shave off a few minutes.  Beyond that, I just want to enjoy my running and improve my strength and stamina.  Speed is important, but there are other areas for me to focus on as well.

Run 850+ miles

This past year I gained hundreds of miles over 2013, and I came in just one long run short of 800 miles.  In 2015, I think I can beat that.

Read 50 books (again)

One of my favorite goals for 2014 was related to reading.  I did, in fact, manage to read 50 books in the year, and I hope to maintain that momentum.

Try out new sports and hobbies

I’m not sure when I will get the chance, but I REALLY REALLY would love to try out rowing (ideally, on water), stand up paddle boarding and ballroom dance this year.  All three activities have been on my bucket list for quite some time, and I am determined to explore at least one of them in the near future.

Focus more on my overall health 

At times I can be super healthy, religiously monitoring my hydrating, vitamin loading, sleep, stress and nutrition, but these cycles are short-lived.  When I get busy or bored or excited or distracted, I drop one healthy habit and then another.  My goal is to be more consistent all around with my health in 2015.

Care to share your goals for 2015?

~Tomato Face

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Have a Yule that's Cool

Ah, relaxation.  How I have missed time spent doing nothing.

After weeks/months of stressing and planning and training and playing catch up in life, I finally am taking some time to unwind before the sure-to-be-busy New Year.

I ate lots of delicious food…

Made some animal friends…

Took in the holiday sights…

 And ran.

Well, if I’m being entirely honest, there hasn’t been too much running going on over the past two weeks.  Oops.

You know how I said I would only run if I felt like it?  Well, I really stuck to that declaration.  The weather was wonky here, and then I went on vacation (and I am NOT one of those people who likes to work out during vacations), and then I returned to Philly and the weather was wonky again.
I finally shuffled out to the trail this weekend, and it was just eh.  I’m going to have to ease myself back in gradually.

I took a detour to Penn campus on Saturday, and that place was deserted.  Not a single student anywhere (winter break does that).  It meant I could be really awkward in my running with no one judging me.  Everybody wins!!!

I’m super excited since this week I go home for several days to celebrate Christmas.  I’m hoping to catch up on my reading: I’m pretty far behind in my goal of reading 50 books in 2014.  There’s also the usual feasting/phone calling/shopping/organizing I have to attend to, and it will be SO NICE to have almost a week to just decompress.

And yeah, I’ll probably run at least a little bit.

What do you have planned for your holidays?

~Tomato Face

Monday, December 15, 2014

What Got Me Through 18 Weeks of Marathon Training

Don’t worry, y’all: we’re almost to the end of marathon-related posts (well, for 2014 at least).

I know I wrote a lot on here about my training leading up to my first marathon, but just as important as structured training were the little things that cushioned the days leading up to the big race.

So, without further ado, I present to you my list of my amazing saviors during marathon training.  Without these people and things, I might not have made it through 26.2 miles intact.  Cheers to all!

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I am a huge tv person, and these days, I tend to follow the binge watching pattern (recent binges include The Comeback, Scandal, and Pretty Little Liars).  I first watched It’s Always Sunny way back in 2006, when my dorm hosted a viewing party for residents (part of the show’s pilot was filmed on campus, which was my only real motivation for attending the screening).  I laughed quite a bit at the Season 1 episodes, but I didn’t recognize the true genius and insanity of the show until this past fall.
The Gang (and Dee) are completely bonkers, and their antics were always the perfect antidote to a long, stressful day.

It makes me endlessly happy to know that somewhere in Japan, kindergartners are learning the "Dayman" song.  Best music class EVER.

Also, Charlie Day is my spirit animal.

Shake Shack, Panera, Doritos and Trader Joe’s Mint Chip Ice Cream

It’s no secret that I love me some junk food, but my cravings took a slightly different turn during marathon training.  Out were my beloved Beiler’s doughnuts (oddly I did not eat any until the day before the race) and in were salty snacks, rich bagels and sinfully rich ice cream.  Of course I indulged in other treats (Chicago mix popcorn, s’mores, soft pretzels), but the aforementioned quartet were my true standbys for not-so-guilty-pleasure fueling.  I lost at least 5 pounds from training, so I can’t imagine what my weight would have done without these filling delights.

Carbs = the meaning of life
My Electric Blanket

I know, I know: you’re not supposed to heat sore muscles immediately after exercise.  But my body NEEDS warmth, and once the summer was over, my long runs in the cooler autumn air left me chilled.  To the rescue was my trusty electric blanket, the perfect companion for a post-run nap.

Trash Mags and

So many nights, my brain would be jumbled from an exhausting work-errands-marathon routine, I just couldn’t focus on heavier reading.  No, I didn’t grow any brain cells by studying US Weekly et al., but I sure did amuse myself with all the Hollywood false chatter (paper publications) and stunning inside scoop (BG).  Just so you know, EVERYBODY in Tinseltown is craycray.

Compression Socks

As expected (because really, who was I kidding?), I slacked off with the foam rolling and stretching throughout my training.  Compression gear was my easy out for relieving sore muscles.  I switched between socks and calf sleeves, as well as brands (I’ve tried ProCompression, CEP and 2xU), but each time I found much needed relief from tension and aches.  I wore compression calf sleeves during my marathon and socks in the two days after the race, and I am convinced that those garments helped me to recover quickly.

Family and Friends

Through it all, my family and friends were my greatest support system during training.  My family was not thrilled about me taking on such a physical challenge, but they cheered me every step of the way (especially my mom—and she did cheer quite literally along the marathon course!).  My running friends had words of wisdom to share, and even my non-running buddies put me at ease with movie nights, long chats and lots of snacking.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, my dears!!!

~Tomato Face