Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Emotional Eating

We all do it. Stop by the vending machine for some M&M's. Buy that latte at Starbucks. Drink way too much wine on a random Monday night. 'Fess up. You know you've done it.

The key is to not emotionally eat too often and to acknowledge it when you do it. We emotionally eat for a reason- it makes us feel better! I can think of many times where I had a terrible, rotten, no-good day and I get home and my husband says "Hey, let's order a pizza!" and my mood is instantly improved. I....LOVE....PIZZA. It's not always a bad thing.

Case in point- today. As I've referenced in past posts I'm in a bit of a slump. I think I'm starting to crawl my way out of it but I still have a constant pit of anger in my stomach almost all day everyday. So today, with the prospect of a painful morning of clinic, with a painful, boring 12 hour work day the next day and then at least 2 more years of painful work ahead of me (all I want is consistent 2 day weekends, people, is that so much to ask???)...well, let's just say I was kinda hoping a meteor would strike so I wouldn't have to go through with my day. (Kidding....partially.)

So, what did I do? Despite the fact that I ate a healthy breakfast at home, I decided to stop by Panera and get a whole wheat bagel with low fat veggie cream cheese and a medium hazelnut coffee. Was I hungry? Not really. Was I tired and in desperate need of coffee? Yes. I was honest with myself and said "Self, you need something to get you through this morning. You are emotionally eating, so be comfortable with that and forgive yourself for it."

I nurtured that delicious bagel and coffee one bite at a time from 8:30 am to 11:00 am. It was delicious. I don't regret it. I feel better able to take on the rest of the day:)

Are you honest with yourself when you emotionally eat?

Monday, March 28, 2011

February 18th.....

....was the last time I did a long run. Since then, my longest run has been 8 miles. Until today. Phew! I finally got in a long run. With my tune up marathon coming up in 1 month and my goal race in 6 weeks, I was starting to worry that I wasn't going to be ready. But thankfully, I've built up enough of a running base that missing 4 weeks of distance running isn't the end of the world.

Today I got home from work, had a pasta lunch w/ nutella and pretzels for dessert. Then I watched a really interesting Nat Geo documentary on solitary confinement (random, I know, but it was instant play on Netflix). Then I took a 30 minute nap. Then I got ready as fast as I could and got my butt outside before I talked myself out of the run.

As always, I'm so glad I ran. I enjoyed a good portion of the run. My muscles and joints aren't as adapted to long runs as they used to be- they didn't hurt per se, but were making their presence known;)

I ended up going 16. I thought about 20 but figured that might be flirting with injury especially since so many of my recent miles have been on the soft treadmill rather than outside. 16 is long enough to feel like I'm getting close to marathon endurance but not long enough to induce multi-mile painful boredom.

My plan was to run comfortably so I wouldn't burn out and cut the run short. So, no heavy breathing, just a nice easy conversational pace (though I had no one to talk to, I wish I did!). Ended up finishing in 2:38:24 which is 9:54 pace. I'm very happy with that. I think it puts me in good position to run a sub-4:15 marathon after a few more weeks of training.

Mile 1: 10:08 (really trying to keep the pace slow)
Mile 2: 9:58
Mile 3: 9:39
Mile 4: 10:21 (first water and gu chomp break, a bit of walking)
Mile 5: 9:26
Mile 6: 9:34
Mile 7: 9:31
Mile 8: 10:22 (water, gu chomp)
Mile 9: 9:56
Mile 10: 10:05
Mile 11: 9:17
Mile 12 9:21
Mile 13: 10:57 (water, gu chomp)
Mile 14: 9:29
Mile 15: 10:30 (water, gu chomp, search for motivational music on ipod- chose 'More' by Usher)
Mile 16: 9:51

Good run. Glad it's done so it's not hanging over my head anymore! Now I better run and take a hot shower. I'm starting to get really cold in my wet, sweaty clothes (gross!).

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Last month, Adam and I checked out yet another of the Bib Gourmand restaurants. This time it was Mexique, a French-Mexican fusion restaurant on Chicago Avenue. I hadn't heard anything about this place but the menu looked good and it's close to Adam's work so we thought we'd give it a try.

As usual, we were the first restaurant patrons that evening. The restaurant itself is very cute. The decor is modern and minimalist w/ flashes of bright colors here and there. The light was soft, the music was appropriately non-memorable. It fit the setting but I can't for the life of me remember what kind of music it was!

We were overwhelmed with menu options when we arrived. There was the standard menu, the Restaurant Week menu (they extended the prix fixe menu from Restaurant Week the prior week), and a chef's menu. The chef's menu was six courses of the chef's choosing. Adam and I pretty much always do the chef's menu when offered. Why would a restaurant showcase anything but the best dishes? We were not disappointed.

We started w/ a perfectly cooked scallop w/ beet marmalade, buerre blanc and a third garnish that I can't remember. I think this was my favorite course. It was just delicious and looked like this:

2nd course: fried goat cheese and beet salad

3rd course: pan seared skate wing, cauliflower, Yukon gold potatoes, serrano peppers and grapes w/ citrus butter sauce

4th course: pork belly w/ mole and ratatouille and sweet potato puree (see right)

5th course: lambchop w/ eggplant and barbacoa (our least favorite but still good)

6th course: trio of chocolate ganache, vanilla ice cream and raspberry layer cake w/ more ganache as well as lady fingers
I would certainly recommend this restaurant for the food, ambiance, and service. It's a nice departure from Italian, French and "New American" cuisine (the bulk of high end Chicago places are understandably in those categories). Definitely get the chef's menu. There are very few upscale Mexican restaurants in Chicago- this one is certainly worth a visit!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Trail Run at John Muir Woods

This is my first post in about 2 weeks. That's the longest I've gone without posting since I started this blog back in May 2010 so sorry for those of you who are regular followers. (In my head, I imagine people eagerly awaiting posts, scratching their heads wondering what is that crazy bison girl up to that she can't post. Ha, if you are that person, I applaud you;) )

Anyway, the reason for my absence is two-fold. First off, I was knee-deep in the winter blues. February and March are not good months to be in Chicago. They are dark, cold and gray, and no snow (snow is the only good thing about a winter climate, in my opinion). That plus a horrible work schedule, no vacation in the near future to look forward to, and my bi-annual 'I-hate-being-a-doctor-why-did-I-lock-myself-into-this-awful-career-choice'-fest left me pretty down in the dumps.

Then, just when I started feeling better, our computer's mouse crapped out on us. So, I'm on borrowed time on a borrowed computer, so probably should be brief (we'll see about that).

But today is the glorious first day of a TWO-DAY WEEKEND!!! Crazy! 48 entire hours without having to go to work. Precious and few (isn't that the title of a bad '70s love song?). So, how did I spend it? Running, of course.

After 5 years of running up and down the Chicago Lakefront Path over and over, I'm getting a bit bored. So I grabbed my (new!, will post about later) Garmin, my Nathan hydration pack and hopped in the car for a 2 hour trip up to the John Muir Trail near Whitewater, Wisconsin. This trail is in the southern section of Kettle Moraine State Park. I was looking to run part of the Ice Age Trail (which I learned about because of the Ice Age Trail Ultra that takes place yearly in May), but found the JM trail nearby.

I found the place w/o trouble, and paid my $10 (!!) daily trail use fee for non-WI residents. I planned to run for ~3 hours. I'd say my running hasn't been going well lately, but in reality, it's just not "going" at all. Especially long runs. I haven't done a true long run in weeks and with my 'tune-up' marathon on 4/30, I really need to get my butt in gear. I hoped a nice, chill trail run would do the trick.

The JM trial is mostly for mountain bikers- lots of technical single-track- but bikes aren't allowed there during the 'spring thaw' so I had the place to myself. I started with my ipod but quickly realized how absurd that was- I so rarely get to be in nature - I shouldn't waste my sense of hearing on music! So I quickly turned it off and took in the sounds of the forest. Lots of little creatures (squirrels, 'munks) skeedaddling around. Every once in a while, a plane would fly overhead. Otherwise, just the sound of my breathing and my shoes getting sucked into the mud.

Oh, the mud. I figured Wisconsin in March would be muddy. I figured there would also be snow. But I wasn't really prepared for the mud/ice combo (no snow, mind you) that I encountered on the trail. I spent A LOT of time walking/sliding and grabbing trees so I wouldn't fall down hills. I also spent a lot of time laughing at myself. So what I had initially hoped would be about a 13-15 mile run ended up being only 5.48 miles @ about 14 min/mile pace.

Here's the scene: I'm running along, at a comfortable pace, soft mud flipping off the back of my shoes onto my favorite lululemon tights (why didn't I wear old ones?). All of a sudden, the path changes from mud to ice strip. Since the ice strip has some mud on the side I figure I'm good- slidy ice steps with my right foot, stabilize myself in the mud with my left foot. Right, slide, left, stabilize, right, slide, left stabilize, right ssllliiidddeeee- oh-my! my-left-foot-can't-reach-the-mud. Oh no! Left, ice, right, ice, sliding, sliding, shouting (in my head) Val slow down! There's a sharp curve ahead, I'm on a downhill, to the right is a drop off, to the left are huge muddy puddles (ankle deep, no can do), so I slide and slide and ......god I don't want to fall out here, I'm a ways from the car.....Aha! Glorious, saving tree! And grab! On the tree, not going in the ditch, not going in the mud, not going in a boot due to a broken foot/ankle/leg. Phew!

So, after that happened a few times (I'm a slow learner), I thought I'd better call it quits. (But, only after taking a really goofy picture of myself, see right.) I brought my Yak-trax just in case, but I wasn't sure that would help since they'd get so full of mud so quickly.

Since the main objective of the run was for mental health (the longer I'm in Chicago, the more stir-crazy I get for nature), I saw no need to push it. I'll just get some extra miles in in the morning before spinning....on the ho-hum Lakefront Path:) (I know we are lucky to have that path and that I'm lucky to live literally right next to it, I'm not taking it for granted, really!)

So, I headed home, went grocery shopping and cracked open a bottle of Zinfandel instead:) Not quite as good as a 15 mile run, but it will do:)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

"Who the Hell is Mr Henderson?"

The part of my job that I hate the most is being a responder to "codes" or cardiac arrests. I don't like emergencies, I don't like chaos and I don't like breaking ribs, all of which are unfortunate aspects of cardiac arrests. In a few short months, I will be a fellow instead of a resident and will no longer be a first responder to these sad events. Looking forward to that.

A few months ago, however, I had an experience during one of these codes that left me chuckling and I thought it was worth sharing with ya'll.

I was on call on general medicine on a slow Sunday, and my intern and I were trying to come up with activities to amuse ourselves as we awaited the inevitable onslaught of patients right around the time we want to go home. It always seems to work that way. We'll be bored all day, looking for work to do, then right around 5 pm a bunch of patients will arrive making it hard for us to be done at our goal time of 7 or 7:30. Both of our pagers went off at once which is always an ominous sign- it means an airway or a code.

On this particular instance, it was a code in one of the ICUs. I always feel a bit of relief when the code is in an ICU because at least the patient is already in an intensive care setting- the proper doctors, nursing staff and supplies are already there- as opposed to on a regular floor where folks aren't used to dealing with emergencies.

This particular patient, Mr. Johnson (obviously, not really his name) had a bad heart and had slipped into something called V-fib (or ventricular fibrillation) which means the large chambers (ventricles) of the heart were wobbling/fibrillating fast and ineffectually, not pumping blood out of the heart. Mr. Johnson was unconscious and for all practical purposes, dead. By the time I got there (<1 min), the ICU team had already responded, the patient had been "shocked" just once and he came right back to life. Phew!


However, Mr. Johnson (and his heart) was known to the ICU team and he was so tenuous that we worried he would slip back into V-fib at any second. So a small group of us hung around, brainstorming management strategies, hanging meds, making sure he had good IV access, etc. Mr. Johnson was flipping into "slow VT" which is not good but he had a good blood pressure and was awake and taking to us, and after a few minutes he would return to a normal heart rhythm. He was laying back in bed with his eyes closed (keep in mind that he's critically ill even when not in the midst of "coding"), so every time he got the in "bad" slow VT, we'd get him to talk to us or shake him a bit to make sure he'd wake up to make sure he was still conscious.

When Mr. Johnson once again popped into slow VT, this time for a long time, we were talking to him trying to wake him up and simultaneously getting ready to shock him out of it. One of my colleagues got right in his face and shouted "Mr. Henderson? Mr. Henderson? Can you wake up for us?" Mr. Johnson sat straight up in bed- way more animated than any of us had ever seen him- and said "WHO THE HELL IS MR. HENDERSON???"

Oops! I guess the best way to see if someone is awake is to offend them by calling them the wrong name! Lesson learned:)

(And for those of you who worry about these things, last I heard Mr. Johnson is doing just fine.)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Le Colonial

One of the many wonderful events in Chicago is Restaurant Week. This is a week in February in which many Chicago restaurants have prix fixe multi-course menus for either $33 or $44. Besides Valentine's Day, there is not much good about the month of February- it's usually cold, dark and still so far from Spring- the perfect time to get a group of friends together to feast!

So Sara, Wendy, Laura and I headed out to Le Colonial, a French-Vietnamese place near the Viagra Triangle*. It had been on our "list" of restaurants to hit before Sara and Laura move away in June ;(, so this seemed like a good time to go.

This may seem like an odd thing to say, but I love the Le Colonial webpage. The music is so great! When I was checking out the menu, I left the music on for a good half hour- I sorta forgot it was from the website, I guess I thought I was on Pandora or something.

I give the ambiance of Le Colonial a B+. I like the trees, the lighting was okay, the flatware fine. But everything seemed just a touch old. Not bad, actually pretty nice, but just a B+.

The service was good. The servers gave us plenty of time and space- we actually spent 3 hours there! I kept an eye out and there were plenty of open tables so I thought it was fine for us to loiter, but I still appreciate that the servers didn't hound us about paying the check!

Besides the company, which is always the best part of the meal, the food was the highlight of this experience. While the ambiance, the service and the wine list were all very good (not great, not excellent, just very good), the food might bring me back a second time. Probably in the summer, to eat al fresco.

So what did I eat? I was happy to have specific recommendations from a colleague at work (thanks LVW!) and was glad to see 2 of them on the prix fixe menu. I started with the Ca Song, tuna tartare with tomatoes, cilantro, & cucumber, tossed in ginger soy dressing, with wonton crisps. This was excellent. And this comes from someone who just returned from eating tons of good fish in Hawaii. The portion is HUGE though, so I'd definitely recommend sharing it b/t 2 or 3 people.

For my main, I had Ca Nuong La Chuoi grilled trout with oyster mushrooms, dried mushrooms & cellophane noodles, served steamed in a banana leaf with curry sauce on the side. I was a bit dubious that trout could be all that interesting, but I went with my friend's recommendation. And I'm so glad I did! The presentation was unique and the combination of fish, mushrooms and curry sauce was really tasty and interesting. I might order this again if I return. Again, the portion is huge, though- it'd be better to split.

For dessert, I had a Banana wonton creation. I don't remember the details, but it was good. But the standout here was really the main course.

I would definitely recommend this place. The food makes it worth a visit and the ambiance and service is pleasing enough. Let's face it, there aren't all that many French-Vietnamese joints around!

**The Viagra Triangle is a triangular shaped area near the Rush street nightlife district in Near North Chicago. It is so named because there are so many 50-70 year old somewhat skeezy men with their 20-30 year old girlfriends and mistresses. Basically lot of rich guys in the midst of mid-life crises.

Weekly Work-out Wrap-up

Exhaustion. My week has been defined by exhaustion. Maybe sleeping with my rump in the air like a bear will help? I doubt it. But I'd try if I thought it'd take this overwhelming fatigue away!!

Another not-too-successful training week and since this marks the 3rd week in a row in which I'm nowhere near exercising as much as I'd like and missing yet another long run; I know it's time to revise my training plan. Which I just finished doing. Sorta depressing, but much more realistic. I knew when I wrote this plan, it was very unlikely that I would be able to do a long run every week. I just don't have that kind of time.

My revised plan still includes 1 speedwork and 1 tempo a week, because those have been going great and I've been nailing my paces every single time. I left in swimming, usually twice a week, because if I'm ever going to do a tri I have to learn how to swim. I removed biking completely because I find the stationary bike so boring and the weather is too nasty to ride outside. I'll re-incorporate that later in the Spring. And I made the more realistic goal of doing weights only once a week. I realize that's far from ideal but I don't think it will happen more often that that right now. Once I start running outside, I'll go back to doing a bit of core work after each run, but for now, once a week will have to do.

And the long runs. Oh, the long runs. How can I possibly fit these in?? My revised plan has a long (>11) mile run once every 14-16 days instead of every week. I'll just have to accept that that is the best I can do. Since I'm starting from such a strong base, I think it will be enough for my Spring marathons.

By the numbers:

Miles run (completed/planned): 22/32
Days of Week I Ran: 7/7
Long run:
Speed work/tempo: 2/2 Speed work completed at goal time: 2/2
Biking sessions: 0/2
Swimming sessions: 0/2
: 0/2
Days I Ate Healthfully and Sparingly: this needs to be a BIG focus this week

This week's schedule is a bit lighter w/ no attempts at two-a-days thus more days of sleeping until 6 in the morning. I'll need this given I have 3 overnight calls (30 hour shifts) in the next 12 days:(

Monday (post-overnight call): rest
Tuesday: 6x800m @ 7:30 pace w/ 1:30 RIs
Wednesday: 8 miles w/ 6 @8:45 pace
Thursday (overnight call): weights
Friday (post-overnight call): rest
Saturday: swim
Sunday (day off): 20 miles, relaxed pace

Time to go finish my post-call sleep....

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Running Humor, Courtesy of Mom

My Mom sent me a funny email last week and followed it up with an even funnier clipping in the mail that I know you all will enjoy. I've mentioned before that my Mom has taken up running in the past year or so. She primarily plays golf and tennis but is starting to run more and more. I knew she is no longer "just running" and has actually become "a runner" when she included this in her email:

"A milestone: I broke a spring on one of the YakTrax. See - I HAVE been running."

She then went on to write:

"Have you ever read The Non Runner's Marathon Guide for Women? And before any rumors get started, I AM NOT TRAINING FOR A MARATHON. And if I ever considered it, I would unconsider it after reading this book. However, it is the absolute funniest book I have ever read."

To which I responded:

"I hate to break it to you, but even thinking about or joking about running a marathon means you are one step closer to doing so. If you ever catch yourself saying 'I would never run a marathon' then you know you are in trouble:)"

Mom mailed me the "Should I Train For a Marathon" test from the aforementioned book. And it is hilarious! If the rest of the book is anything like this, I think it's a must read! For your reading, pleasure, here's the quiz:

"True or False

1. I have no real need to get anywhere when I run. I enjoy running for hours only to end up in the same place I started. T/F

2. Any sport in which people have been known to literally die of exhaustion while participating is just the kind of sport I've been looking for. T/F

3. I enjoy eating as many calories as I want and not gaining any weight. T/F

4. I'm interested in finding out exactly how many muscles I have in my legs. T/F

5. I have no problem being athletically inferior to someone twice my age. T/F

6. I've been sleeping in way too much, so I've been looking for something to take up a few hours on my Saturday mornings. T/F

7. I want to perfect the art of peeing in a shrub without being seen by anyone. T/F

8. My knee joints are overrated. T/F

9. I have no stairs in my home. T/F

10. Sometimes, when I'm driving long distances of, say, fifteen miles or more, I feel the overwhelming urge to pull my car over and simply run the rest of the way. T/F

11. I have a very good health plan. T/F

Multiple Choice

12. For a good time I prefer to

a. Eat tacos

b. Watch TV

c. Watch TV while eating tacos

d. Run around in circles for four hours

13. I prefer outfits that are

a. Flattering

b. Inexpensive

c. Not full of holes

d. Skin-tight and rash-inducing

14. One of my favorite things is

a. Sleeping in on Saturday morning

b. Walking up a flight of stairs without taking a break in the middle

c. Having all my toenails intact

d. Training for a marathon

If you answered "True" to Numbers 1-11 and "D" to Numbers 12-14, you are ready to train for a marathon! And to begin some sort of psychotherapy. So strap on those shoes, grap your water bottle, and job down to your shrink's office. It's training time!"

The book goes on to say that if the quiz didn't help you decide whether to train for a marathon, consider the below pros and cons:

"Pro: I'll develop rock-solid abs

Con: I'll need extra-strength ibuprofen

Pro: I'll have a sense of accomplishment after I run

Con: I'll have a sense of burning from all the chafing after I run

Pro: I'll make new friends

Con: I'll have limited time to spend with any friends because I'll be hospitalized with dehydration

Pro: I'll be in the best shape of my life

Con: I'll be in the most pain of my life

Pro: I'll pay tribute to my grandfather

Con: I'll have to pay someone to run the second half of the marathon for me

Pro: I will challenge myself

Con: I may hurt myself

Pro: I'll raise money for a worthwhile cause

Con: I may become a worthwhile cause after I fall into a sweat-induced coma

Pro: I will get to shop for new clothes

Con: I will be made to wear spandex

Pro: I will gain respect (my own and other people's)

Con: I will gain blisters (in unfortunate and uncomfortable places)

Pro: Seriously, did I mention the abs?"

The book goes on to say:

"Below is space for you to complete your own pro/con list. You might want to take yours a little more seriously than the one I've outlined above because science has proven that sarcasm loses its potency about 10.3 minutes into training. (That fact actually turned out to be the biggest con on my list.) But all kidding aside, the ab muscles are definitely a pro."

Hilarious! And thanks to Mom for starting my Saturday off with a good laugh:)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hanoa Kai, Ka'anapali Beach, Maui

I know this is super, super late (we got back from Hawaii well over month ago), but I really want to endorse the wonderful condo we stayed at on Maui. And to reminisce about a great vacation, since I don't have another coming up until late May! I think it is an excellent place to stay for those of you planning a Maui trip in the next few years. I generally put a lot of stock in personal recommendations, so like to make them myself when I can!

Hanoa Kai is a good fit for a wide variety of travelers- couples that are free from children (like us), a group of girlfriends, families with young children, or a bunch of adults (family or friend groups). Really, the place is quiteversatile. It is all condos, the majority of which are rented out, not that many are owned. The two things that stood out most about this place were the kitchens and the porches (called lanais). The grounds were absolutely beautiful, there were multiple pools including waterfalls and hot tubs. It was right on the beach with plenty of whales about. And the restaurant is good enough for a few meals.

We had a studio and between the bed area, the living room, the porch and the kitchen there was plenty of room. It is the kind of place where you want to just hang out in your room and relax.

Hotel stock photo, but an accurate depiction of the room, the porch and the view.

My picture of our room.

Let me say a few words about the porch. The big, comfortable porch with an incredible view of the grounds and the ocean. I could see whales in the water from the porch! For us Mid-Westerners spending the maximum amount of time outside on vacation is key and a porch means you can have happy hour and home-cooked meals right on the porch.

Skillet cheese toast. One of my favorite meals is becoming a vacation tradition!

Mushroom and sausage pasta.

The kitchen was also amazing. New, nice appliances, a huge island, plenty of counter-space, pretty much every kitchen tool and utensil you need- and ours was the smallest studio-sized version (our kitchen pictured right). While this condo wasn't super cheap, it was made a lot cheaper by having home cooked meals! In fact, compared to the big chain resorts in the area (Hyatt, Hilton, Sheraton), our place was ~$1500 cheaper. If you include the money we saved on meals by having a kitchen, the savings are even greater! Additionally, Adam and I drove around all the resorts at Ka'anapali Beach and a lot of them were really old. I'm sure they are still nice, but they just look old, and the windows are small and a lot of them don't even have porches, which seems ridiculous in Hawai'i!

The restaurant, Duke's Beach House, was perfectly adequate for a hotel restaurant. We had 1 breakfast, 1 lunch and 1 dinner there. Duke's was oceanside- unlike most of the resort restaurants. Folks from the neighboring resorts came to Duke's to eat so it's probably one of the better places around.

Bottom line, I'd love to go back. Tonight. Next week. Next year. Anytime! Anyone interested? Like my good friends B & D? Or my brother and his family? Or my parents? Anyone...ANYONE?? Really, it's a great place (both Maui and Hanoa Kai) and I will be back!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Sometimes a Run's Just Not Meant to Be....Time to Hit Reset

The past few weeks have been tough. I've been soooo tired. Work has been more painful than usual. It seems like it is dark ALL THE TIME and I don't have any upcoming breaks or vacations to look forward to. I know I'm not the only one in a winter slump, but that doesn't make it any easier!

I basically feel like my brain

is under a blanket.
I can't think straight, I keep making silly mistakes. My motivation is absolutely nil.

And this has not gone unnoticed by my husband, Adam. He went from being his usual supportive self to super-supportive. When I came home from my work-out last night, I found a couple gifts around the house:

First I noticed this:

Then, while I was getting some post work-out water and wine, I found this:

Adam knew today was my day off and that I had a 20 miler planned so he bought me post-run entertainment in the form of US Magazine and a David Sedaris book. He said he felt very silly buying the US Magazine:) He then bought some cupcakes for post run re-fueling. He chose Red Velvet, Black & White, and Peanut Butter Banana. He got the last Red Velvet in the store making the lady in line behind him a very sad sack. But hey- he knew his wife needed it!

Then, this morning, I found this:

What a great guy! All these incentives should have provided extra motivation to get my run done. I haven't done a long run since 2/18 and was looking forward to it (but also dreading it a bit at the same time).

However, it wasn't meant to be. I slept in, did some reading, watched some TV (Gossip Girl, if you must know), took a nap, had lunch then headed outside around 1pm. Got my hydration pack ready, got dressed, cued up the ipod and Garmin, and headed out. Since it was 30 and sunny, I thought I'd be fine w/ my lululemon tights, t shirt w/ technical sweatshirt on top, hat, gloves. As soon as I stepped outside I was worried that it was going to be too cold. I ran north a bit- it was FREEZING- I ran south a bit- still cold. I knew 20 miles in my current outfit would be too cold. I also felt sooo tired. My desire to rest on the couch outweighed the guilt and disappointment I knew I'd feel if I bailed on the run. I ran 1.23 miles instead of 20.

I'm not sure what's going on- probably just a little seasonal affective disorder- but I have to hit reset. Reset on my diet (though it hasn't been horrible, just not enough veggies), reset on exercise, reset on my attitude towards getting through a daily grind I don't enjoy or in any way find rewarding. (I'm not sure if the latter is possible.)

So today, I will rest. I will continue sitting on the couch, I will continue watching Gossip Girl and Brothers & Sisters. I will read my US Magazine. And I'll eat my M&M's even though I didn't do my run. (I'll probably eat a cupcake as well.) I guess we all need a full rest day once and a while.

Anyone have a good strategy for overcoming the winter blahs?

I Got Newtons!!!

Last weekend, I headed to Fleet Feet to buy a new pair of Brooks Ravennas but instead ended up at Element Multisport with a pair of Newtons! Lay down $175 on 2 pieces of rubber and fabric that go on my feet? Yes I will, thank you very much. (Let's face it ladies, a good pair of leather boots often costs that much and you wear them much less often, so let's not judge, shall we?)

To be honest, it did feel odd to pay so much money for a pair of running shoes- isn't part of the appeal of running its low cost simplicity? (Tell that to my husband as he pays the bills for our recent trip to Hawaii, Maui Oceanfront Marathon and all:) ) Yes and no. The activity itself is generally free but the shoes, the technical gear, the hydration systems, the races, the Garmins, all cost a fair amount. But certainly cheaper than cycling or golf, right?

While I certainly care about and appreciate the importance of good running form to run efficiently and injury-free, I've never really jumped on the 'barefoot' or 'minimalist' running bandwagon. It makes sense to me that our bodies would naturally run most efficiently without shoes on since virtually all of our anatomical evolution occurred while we were barefoot. And if I was an injury prone runner, I'm sure I'd give barefoot running (and maybe even those absurd looking Vibram 5-fingers) a try. But I haven't had a running injury in years (knock on wood), so I see no need to fix what ain't broken.

I do, however, think running form is of the utmost importance. As I've focused on improving my form, maintaining fore/mid-foot landings (I've never been a heel-striker, thank goodness), increasing my cadence, and shortening my stride, running has become easier and I've been able to run faster speeds more comfortably. Also, I require very little (to no) recovery after hard efforts and races which I also attribute to a combination of good genes and good running form. So concepts like Chi-running and the natural running stride advocated by Chris McDougall appeal to me. Newton shoes fall more into this category.

So how are Newtons (supposedly) different than other running shoes? They are designed to specifically benefit runners who are midfoot or forefoot strikers ("natural running gait") by designing the shoe around Sir Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion: For every ACTION, there is an equal and opposite REACTION. (Hence the name of the shoe.) According to the Newton webpage,

"When your midfoot/forefoot LANDS on the ground, the technology's four external actuator lugs are pressed into hollow chambers inside the shoe's midsole via an elastic membrane (ACTION). This movement absorbs shock.

As you LEVER inside the shoe, the lugs release their stored energy and propel you forward through a burst of energetic return (REACTION) from the Action/Reaction Technology™. You then LIFT your knee and begin a new stride."

So unlike most running shoes that try to absorb the shock/impact of your foot hitting the ground to allegedly "protect" your joints, Newtons take that energy and give it right back to you to help propel your next step forward. I say "allegedly" protect your joints because when running naturally (ie not heel striking) your body does a better job of protecting itself that shoes ever will, so this so-called protection is really just a way to slow you down.

So, in theory, I'm a believer. I'd have to be in order to drop that much cash on a pair of shoes. I'll report back on whether it works for me in practice.

Either way, though, these bright orange shoes will certainly stand out at races making it easier for family and friends to see me! After all, I'm still a gal who loves cute shoes!!

And, don't worry, I bought a new pair of Ravennas as well. You are supposed to slowly work in your Newtons starting with 15 minutes at a time, so I found a deal on a pair of old model Ravennas to be my mainstay as I adapt the the Newtons. This time, purple and white:)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

My sister-in-law recommended this book to me over Thanksgiving and I finally got around to reading it this month. I had started a couple books I borrowed from friends but they just didn't hold my attention and life's too short to read boring books -a variation of life's too short to drink bad wine;)- so I put them down w/o finishing. Because I've had such bad luck w/ books lately I didn't have very high hopes for Outlander, but it ended up being quite entertaining and it is part of a 8 book series so hopefully the entertainment can continue for a few more months!

The series centers around Claire Beauchamp, an English nurse who worked in a combat zone during WWII. During a post-war holiday in Scotland w/ her husband, Claire is transported to the 1700s. It takes her a while to figure out what happened and even longer for her to decide what she wants to do about it. She meets up with a group of Highlanders who, upon finding her nursing skills useful, hesitantly take her under their wing and bring her back to their town. Claire quickly finds a role as the medical practitioner of the area which is good because she needs some redeeming qualities to get her out of the bad situations she finds herself in.

At first, I found the Claire character annoying- whiny, entitled, seemingly unconcerned with the consequences her actions have on herself or others. But as the book progresses, and Claire adapts to her surroundings, she becomes a lot more pragmatic, functional and tough- less of a whiner. A large part of this has to do with her budding relationship with a strapping young Scot named Jamie. The real win of this book is the palpable romance b/t Claire and Jamie. What starts as an adversarial relationship turns into a friendship..and then more. It really is a great love story and Jamie is such a admirable character overall. He's down to earth, funny and fun to be around, humble, extremely smart, attractive and perfectly content with his station in life.

The book is long- 650+ pages! It did take me a 100 or so pages to really get into it, mostly because Claire was so whiny- but then I did and it was great and I was so glad I had 500 more pages to go! I'd recommend you check it out because if you like it, there are 7 more books in the series for you to enjoy!