Friday, July 30, 2010

Recovery Review

No matter what critics are saying about it, I haven't been able to stop listening to Eminem's Recovery album, which came out late last month. Regardless of people's comments, the album reached platinum level quickly.

Hah, what did you think this blog title referred to???

I've written an entry about my musician love, Moby, but my second love is Eminem. I've been a fan of his since I was 13. I even have this stuffed tiger, Shady, named after him. I even brought Shady to see Moby (look at what he's signing in this picture).

His "Hi, My Name Is" song was what I used to annoy my sisters before I got hit by the boy bands. His brutal and comedic lines got me through high school with the Marshall Mathers, LP and then later, The Eminem Show. Since then, I haven't been able to find an album that I've really loved as much as those. But yes, I liked tracks here and there, such as "Beautiful" (from the recent Relapse album) a song that I REALLY still like.

So in my attempt to be thorough with my review, whether you yourself are a fan or know someone who is, here's the scoop on all the tracks. Yep, know I each of them well enough to comment on each! And my years of Eminem-listening make me credible (to my own standards) to do an informative review!

And you can bet some of these will be uploaded onto my iPod for running purposes (I marked those with a *)!

------

1. Cold Wind Blows*

This track opens up with one of Em's excellent little ditties and kind of opens the album up with a bang due to its vulgarity in its opening lines.


2. Talkin' 2 Myself Feat. Kobe*

The Kobe in this song is NOT Kobe Bryant, to those who are wondering. I like this song a lot because it is about how he almost blasted Kanye West and Lil' Wayne and how confused he was. The hook, sung by Kobe (the singer), is done really well, kind of emo-ish.


3. On Fire

A decent track… but not memorable to me for some reason.


4. Won't Back Down Feat. P!nk

P!nk sings the hook in this song, in a sort of Broadway-ish way. Eminem raps very rapidly and really throws of his ammo in this one. Notably, there's a point in the song where you think your CD "lost reception," but it's an effect of the song.


5. W.t.p.

When stuff is abbreviated in rap music, it usually refers to something bad, right? In this case, "W.T.P" stands for "White Trash Party." The hook containing this phrase is catchy. Overall, a fun song.


6. Going Through Changes

This song is very serious. Some points, it utilizes hospital noises and heart beating. A song about some of his personal struggles and is pretty good, though I should mention, probably not ideal for running. =D


7. Not Afraid

This song's already been released on the radio, of course. And for good reason, as it's one of the best songs in the album. The beat is well-arranged, the lyrics clear and not too vulgar, and empowering because of the inspiring talking that he does.


8. Seduction

As you can imagine, the contents of this track are a bit dirty, essentially stating that nobody can be as good as him… in certain private venues. I like the hook, which he sings in a nice voice in spite of the contents.


9. No Love Feat. Lil Wayne*

Squeeeee!! This is my favorite song on the entire album and took the place of my current favorite song, which was David Guetta's "Getting Over You," just so you know.

I actually like Lil Wayne a lot, unrealized by myself… everything from "Cop Car" to "Every Girl" to "Got Money" and pretty much anytime he appears in a song. His voice is perverted, yet light and humorous and clever. Put this clever guy with Eminem, and it's bound to be good. This song samples on "What is Love" by Haddaway, but before you scoff, you have to listen to the hook… it is SO well-arranged. And might I add, Lil Wayne REALLY tore it up in the opening of the song. I can't say enough good stuff about this song. I hope they release it on the radio, although it will need some cleaning, if you know what I mean!


10. Space Bound*

Also one of my favorite songs, definitely mellow, but it's a love song with a nice hook. I'm not sure if he sings it, but it makes the song what it is. And the opening is capturing as well.


11. Cinderella Man

This one seems like one of those ones that was fun to make, clever and upbeat, but not one of my favorites.


12. 25 To Life

A song about a relationship gone wrong, Eminem uses a soft female voice for the hook.


13. So Bad

I believe this is one of those songs that really takes a verbal bite at some people. Otherwise, it's not that memorable.


14. Almost Famous

Another theater-esque female vocal for the hook. As you can imagine, it mentions the struggle with being famous.


15. Love The Way You Lie Feat. Rihanna*

This song is also on the radio currently, and also for good reason because of the way in which the beat is arranged, ballad-like with a piano and Rihanna's crooning. A song about an abusive relationship on a serious note, noting the confusion of the love and pain he has for a woman. Unsettling that Rihanna does this song, considering her history.


16. You're Never Over*

A (what I think is) sweet tribute to his departed "best friend," Proof (Dirty Harry from D-12, his posse group that I also like). Strangely, Proof was my favorite rapper out of that group due to his raspy voice, and I was unnerved that he died an untimely violent death. Anyway, the chorus of this song sounds a little… juvenile(?), but the lyrics are inspiring, basically saying that Eminem's going to do the best he can in light of his friend's death. I should also note that he mentions Proof throughout the album (I knew he would after it happened). I think the best part of this song is the bridge that goes "It don't stop… ohhh, it don't quit…" because he sings it in his nice voice.

BONUS TRACK*

And just when you think the album is done, Eminem comes up with this fast-paced rhyming ammo to end the ammo. I think this song is awesome, because he really does a good job with the rhymes and clever word-play. Kind of reminds me more of his earlier stuff. A great way to end the album.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pack it Up, Girl!

Not long ago, I alarmed a bunch of people about my motivations... or lack of motivations... toward a lot of things.

Sometimes, I don't know how I survived my first two years of graduate school, namely, between 2007-2009. Those were some of the toughest years of my life, because I had a nearly full-time job (or jobs!), took more course-load than normal, ran, and then had to divide the rest of my time between the boyfriend and the family. Don't get me wrong, I still had plenty of fun during that time, but I recall feeling trapped by a very tight schedule!

Anyway, I decided to quit.

I left this:





...To the wonderful outdoors. At least for now, until I figure out what I am going to do or how long this new stint lasts.

No, all this ridiculous ranting did not lead up to a mere gym loss. Actually, I left my company. After over four years of miscellaneous assignments with little prospect for something permanent at this time, I am going to another temporary post that beckoned very strongly. Whether I had chosen to stay or leave, it is a lose-lose situation (I had been a contracted worker, so that REALLY reeked no matter how one looked at it!). So better to embark on something new in the process and get paid more at the same time.

But the decision was agonizing, risky, and somewhat painful. I will miss all the wonderful people I've met and all luxuries I got. Flexible schedule, some long-term financial gains, dining (and one time, wining), hotels, and the general stature of the company. And the gym... gosh. I must have run thousands of miles in there. And it is where I met my "Ukrainian."

The company to which I have headed have been really great to me so far. Unlike the old company, they seem to really want me there, and since it is global, there are plenty of learning opportunities out there for me for sure. While I might use my time there to buy some more time until I can find something permanent, it might just be the ticket to my ultimate career.

But with all things, we shall see.

At least, after work, I can run in beauty worthy of a "rave run," in the city of Pasadena, CA, in one of its most beautiful parts. I'm going to try it out today and see how it goes. And at some point, I will re-join a gym (I pretty much know which one at this point). But it's summertime, the days are long, and I'm game for staying fit without a building. I mean, I couldn't let this factor into prioritized life decisions, right?

My friends have been supportive of this decision, and even though I agonized and didn't know it at first, I think it was the right one. Only time will tell.

And as a note to my family or anyone else who knows me IRL (in real life), this is still under wraps, so please don't spill the beans until I do (which may take a while...like months, but I will)!

My true, true hope is that from this point onward, I can stop equating my not-being-done-with-school-yet and no-full-time-job-yet status with failure. I was not brought up this way, so it will be tough. Just look at how hard I am on myself when I don't feel like I've done "well enough" during a race. But if I can just change that doubt, I know I can be 100000x happier and enjoy life (and races) THAT much more.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Surprise E-Mail

This has made me happier and wall-bouncing than the decaf I have sitting on my desk right now:

Hi Julie,

I just wanted you to know, off the record, that I nominated you as my pick for the Dean’s Scholarship - and the Scholarship Committee (on which I serve) went along with my recommendation. I think Dean [name redacted] is accepting the recommendation as well. Just giving you heads-up and good wishes!

Best,
[Associate Dean, whose name I also redacted]

(Note: Since I don't attend a main campus, he is our "Dean." The actual "Dean" is located 2 hrs away and heads up the other (larger) campuses. In other words, he's the head cheese around here, and to be contacted by the big cheese for non-punishment is a good thing!)

No, I did not win any money or award. Yet. And even if not, this in itself is a huge surprise. I have spent time with him at some events. I even had him for a class (back in February '09), but I never had the time or will to brown-nose or anything. In fact, I was the sleepy student who showed up after having run 20 miles and didn't get a perfect grade in his class.

This must mean merit? But my classmates are just as good, if not better? More mature, more experienced, and probably much more focused than I am.

?????

I'll just bask in it for now. I needed this, as I have been stressed and demotivated lately. I'll try to think of it whenever I'm feeling bad and milk this seemingly small thing for all it's worth.

At any rate, I wonder what they based this on... how much does the university know about me? Can I add to the info that they have, maybe show them my blog? Just kidding, of course.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Clif Crunch

I have a few bar reviews to post, so this is the first of a few I will be posting over the next couple of weeks or so.

I was sent a free Clif Crunch bar (thanks, Clif!) and decided to eat it after a run one day.

At first glance, it looks just like a certain other popular granola bar. Can you guess which one? It rhymes with "Raycher Rally," lol.

However, the taste is much more "real" than said popular-bar. The sweetness is non-chemical, and the texture, albeit dry and crumbly, consisted clearly of wheat bran and other authentic grains. For the same amount of calories (180), it is not a bad alternative to other bars.

I don't know how much these actually cost, but wouldn't it be better to eat this organic bar??


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 7/25 - 7/31

Here we go... been sticking with the mileage so far, but it starts rising (in a big way) next week. This week is a step-back week, so it better be easy!

UPDATE: Okay, so this hasn't been easy. Too many abruptions in terms of scheduling and the suffocation of living conditions have made it really difficult both psychologically and logistically to adapt. Therefore, total amount of exercise has decreased so far this week... Just trying hard to stick to my assigned mileage... speed is secondary, but as I am slowly recovering, it has improved.

------

This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest, besides some walking and a few minutes of pilates

Monday - 5 mi - outdoors, 10 min strength/abs

Tuesday - 25 min of No More Trouble Zones DVD; 3 mi - outdoors

Wednesday - 5 mi - outdoors, 1.5 hr salsa

Thursday - 3 mi - outdoors (hills), 20 min hip openers yoga

Friday - 30-35 min P-90X Core Synergistics video, walking (not as much as planned...)
Half-day at work today... gonna take advantage! Going to resist temptation to do tomorrow's run today in order to stay as consistent as possible.

Saturday - 6 mi - outdoors

Weekly Mileage: 22

Friday, July 23, 2010

Dinner a-la Me

I had some unexpected time on my hands lately, so instead of doing this...



I adorned this apron (not really... it was so hot that an apron sounded like torture)...


Got inspired by some minor culinary decor...

And decor that I brought in myself...


I rounded up some ingredients....

Spent some time prepping...


And made a dinner consisting of this:

Above: Cherry Crunch, which is basically a cherry cobbler. I got the recipe from Recipezaar, one of my favorite websites. At some point, I might start doing recipes on this blog, but for now, it's all about the output! Above: Cooking up some filling for Tamale Pie, a recipe that I found in an old (Healthy Choice) cookbook at home.

Above: And mixin' up some batter...


Above: Outta the oven! Yes, I had a little paprika accident on the top, but it was not noticeable.


Above: Served with some "Vegan Ceviche" (there are many variations of this recipe online).


Above: Me at work, disheveled.


Above: Dinner.
Above: And here's the cut-up cobbler! I had a little, since I don't like baked fruit much. However, the next morning, out of the fridge... it was QUITE addictive.
------
I wish I could cook "The Ukrainian" dinner more often. Usually, he steps in because of his excitability and years of cooking experience. I, on the other hand, don't cook very often. Mostly due to time and living arrangements. But hopefully, he has something to look forward to in the future?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nike Racerback Tank

For Christmas, Tea Time got me a black Nike tank top (size S). I am generally not adorned with Nike anything, simply due to cost.

Although I was thrilled with it, I didn't wear it too often because I generally don't wear sleeves things in general because I have some sort of self-consciousness/borderline psychological disillusionment with my arms. The tank itself if great, though. It has a shelf bra and padding, which is always welcome.

The tank itself feels snug, which is more than what I'm used to, but then again, I used to run in men's boxers (did I just admit that online?). I like the black color because it conceals sweat, and the material is good for running for the most part.

As you can see in my mud run post, I took full advantage of it, and yes, it's still in workable condition after a good wash.

I kind of want to get more of these, but I'll have to see how often I can commit to sleeveless anything. I have to admit that wearing race T's all the time is not the sexiest...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Sanuki no Sato

This entry is about Sanuki no Sato in Gardena, CA. A group of us (the "McWangs," Ms. O, Six Pack) and I were having dinner there recently for "The Ukrainian"'s birthday. This restaurant has apparently done very well over the years, and because I'm a bad blogger, I didn't get a picture of the front or the celeb photos in the waiting area. x_x

Anyway, we dished out an extra $15 (total) to get a tatami room... you know, one of those rooms where you sit on the floor with a low table, a-la Japanese. However...

Above: ...I sat down to realize that there was a gaping HOLE at the bottom so you can actually put your legs down, as if you're sitting in a normal chair!!

Above: A bad pic of me. If you look to the very left (again, due to bad blogging), you can see a gift that "The Ukrainian" got -- a foam roller! Not only did Ms. O get him a good gift, but I know a certain *someone*/me needs it... just in the nick of time (I'll explain later)!

Above: I ordered this "nabeyaki" udon. There were a few pieces of chicken and a large shrimp tempura to be avoided, but all in all, decent. I had approximately a large half of this big portion. Above the bowl is my lovely potato croquette. It was impossible to pick up with chopsticks without breaking it into a million pieces... I did not dig it at all, but the gang took care of it for me...

Above: "The Ukrainian"'s dinner set. I nibbled on that salad, but my udon kept me entertained.

Above: "The Ukrainian" also got this really HUGE spicy tuna rice ball. See my fist for comparison. If you look carefully in the background, you can see Six Pack's biceps in the background. For a 40-something Asian guy, he's gargantuan!

Unfortunately, Ms. O ordered some $10 Korean short ribs (yes, even at this Japanese restaurant -- go figure!), but the waitress didn't get her order for some reason and did not even confirm with us that all the food came, so we had to reorder, dragging the meal on. When they did come, which was another huge chunk of time in itself, they were apparently too fatty. We felt they should not have charged for them, but they did. And this was after being pretty much neglected, having to fight for the waitress' attention all night. (Keep in mind we paid extra for a private room.)

So we took the $10 from the would-be tip. The bill was large enough, due to the priciness of the place, so there was still considerable tip left. After turning in the initial check, the waitress came back with the audacity to ask, "Does this include tip?" Talk about awkward confrontation, but seriously, we rarely see such bad service!

So with $$$ considerations, mediocre food, and questionable service, this place, which apparently is well-reviewed by many, is not one that I would like to repeat.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 7/18 - 7/24

Never fear, never fear, never fear...

Fear is what keeps me from pushing myself to my limits, and the tenseness from fear makes those limits a lot lower than they could be.

Although I haven't been meeting my yoga targets (3-5x/wk), I am trying to not give up on it. The heat makes yoga VERY uninticing, and my injuries have nothing to say to yoga in genereal. Also for this week... I just want to enjoy running again and make it as fun as it can be.

------

This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest, mostly... except for some Wii Sports Resort for a good hour or so

Monday - 5 mi @7.2, 30 min stretch/arms
Surprisingly good turnout considering the late bedtime, alarm shutting off in the middle of the night, and the Monday blahs!

Tuesday - 3 mi @7.2, 15 min sbike @3.r, 20 min arms/abs, stretch

Wednesday - 5 mi @whatever I could muster- outdoors

Thursday - 3 mi - outdoors, 20 min standing poses yoga

Friday - 40 min Jillian Michaels' No More Trouble Zones DVD
Review to come later. This is taking place of the 45 min of FitMoves circuits that I normally do.

Saturday - 9 mi - outdoors

Weekly Mileage: 25

Friday, July 16, 2010

ChiRunning

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was going to start trying different things to recover from my slew of running injuries and improve my running.

One of the measures I have tried is incorporating some of the concepts from the book, ChiRunning by Danny Dreyer (with Katherine Dreyer).

Yes, it looks like this married Dreyer couple collaborated on this book together, which I always find really sweet and cool! On a related note, in a semi-serious manner, I started the following conversation (may not be verbatim, but close enough) recently:

"The Ukrainian": Where is your blog?

Me: On the Internet.
[Yes, I deserved to be smacked with that response.]

"The Ukrainian": Aww, you don't want me to see your blog.

Me: But you'll think I write bad, and I mention things in there like having to use the potty in the middle of a race... [pause] I'll show it to you... eventually.

"The Ukrainian": 'Eventually' means 'never.'

Me: A lot of bloggers' spouses or significant others don't read the others' blogs...[pause]... although some of them do guest posts.... [long pause] Would you like to write for my blog?


Anyway, that was a tangent. Back to ChiRunning.

ChiRunning is an attempt to blend some Tai Chi principles with running to make running effortless and injury-free. Given my history, I dove into the book and started incorporating some of the concepts as I started running again after my marathon of horror in June.

For starters, this book talks about running form and how to be efficient at it. While I probably should not spill all the beans, here are the top five things to which I am trying to adapt my form:

  1. Lean in using your ankles, not waist, to increase speed efficiently.
  2. Relax shoulders and imagine the motion of your arms going like a wheel.
  3. Keep the lower legs limp. Huge calf muscles are not key (they referenced Kenyan runners to illustrate this point).
  4. Strike with the mid-foot, not the heel.
  5. Swing your legs back, also going a wheel motion.




Alone, these adjustments might sound strange, but various diagrams like the one above and exercises help illustrate the concepts.

Finally, the book also contains tidbits about habits such as eating, sleeping, race morning, diet, and everything else that ultimately can affect your running. For example, it says to keep a diet of 15 to 25% fats, 60 to 70% carbohydrates, and 15 to 20% proteins. Look at all those carbs... I can live with that!

Two points of disagreement, though:
- No eating before a race?: The book claims that you won't absorb or digest anything that quick, but what about GUs?
- Cross training is unnecessary?: Runners risk injury by training muscles they won't need to run. I don't buy that. That means the minute I do anything besides running, a lack of cross training would injure me, anyway.

While I am no master at this running technique, I have been able to at least better learn how to not aggravate my still-imperfect legs during my runs by adhering to some of the form guidelines in this book. I definitely recommend at least giving the book a read... it's around 200 pages and a quick read.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Re-Commitment

The Post that Launched 1000... Eggs?

There is currently a post on the blog No Meat Athlete regarding how cow's milk basically is:

- full of hormones
- not meant for human consumption: yes, I'm intolerant!
- full of white blood cells (i.e., infection cells)
- contains pus
- cruel

I've talked about my presumed lactose intolerance quite a few times on this blog, but as of late, I've been trying to eat dairy again after I ate two pizzas without a stomach issue.

I've partaken in ravioli, cream cheese, sour cream, and even (a good portion of) this:



And this dairy consumption made me happy, because no stupid bloating or gas was going to keep me away from my former favorite food -- cheese.

But I think I'm going to put a halt on my happy-go-lucky days of eating dairy with some abandon and just go back to avoiding it again. I thanked the author of that milk post for reminding me why I am an aspiring (not perfect... yet) vegetarian.

The post also mentions the peril of eggs, and if you read any of my adventures such as this one or this one, you will know that I eat eggs like they are going out of style.

Arguments

I have already decided that living without eggs and not an option. Yes, I might think about the gruesome description of them for a while. And maybe they will not appetize me unless I'm really hungry, but for now, I can only try to not use them in my baking. Maybe. When I'm not trying to make a masterpiece. That will be a first step and a creative challenge.

Back to milk. I don't think I can shun it completely, either. Most sub cheeses contain milk derivatives such as casein/milk protein. And when you are eating with a "Ukrainian," you will suddenly find yourself wanting to sample cheeses with your wine.

Conclusion

I often cannot control what I should be eating at my parents' home, but I CAN stop the weekend ice cream... even if it was just once. I got a major bloat attack a few hours later, so really, I should avoid the miscellaneous milk products altogether. If I want to sample some cheese, I can have a tiny nibble. In fact, as long as I am eating by myself, I will try to make it vegan. This is the only way I can see myself plowing through a world powered by animal products.

Sorry, ravioli... I'll miss you once again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rodney Yee's Conditioning Yoga for Athletes

I couldn't help but get another yoga DVD, though this will likely be my last for a while. I decided to rejoin Rodney in my journey toward recovery from my running injuries with yoga. So when I saw the title of this DVD [Gaiam] -- Conditioning Yoga for Athletes, I couldn't help myself.

I got this for $8 at Amazon. A week later, I cracked open the case and saw a short leaflet outling specific yoga poses for people of different sports such as tennis, golfing, cycling, and running. For example, for runners, the downward dog (see pic) is ideal.



The DVD consists of a 50-ish minute workout. It starts with Openers, which is done with a chair, Conditioning -- where all the stretching happens, and Integration, which is more of a relaxation phase.

A chair is required to stretch the legs one at a time. Conditioning involves a lot of standing poses. And Integration is all the sitting yoga. At some point during the relaxation phase, I think I fell asleep. All I remember was that I was lengthening myself on the mat, and then the ending credits were rolling. I guess I am REALLY good at this relaxation stuff after all...????

In addition to the main workout, there are 10-minute mini-workouts for the different sports I listed above. The running one left much to be desired... it wasn't an intense enough stretch for me compared to the workout itself or even compared to the other the 20-minute AM Yoga I have been doing.

Overall, I don't think I will be doing the whole 50-minute thing too often, since I pretty much spent 1 whole hour doing yoga, which is a LOT of time for me. But the 10-minute bit... yeah, maybe.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cities - My Limited Travels (Updated)

Last Updated: 7/18/2012

It has been two years since I updated this.  Running a lot less, but still have stuff to add.

------

Update: 8/17/2010

Updating this post makes me REALLY want to go somewhere new to run besides my regional park, the streets in my neighborhood, or worse, the treadmill! Note, though, that driving just to run isn't something I would prefer...

------

Original Post: 1/21/2008

I have never really been anywhere, but I'm going to make a point to note the loosely-defined cities in which I have ever, or am scheduled to, run (defined as having an intention to run, usually dressed to run, etc... not running to dart across traffic or at the airport or something).

Some of these locations were ones that I traversed during a race/run.

- Alhambra
- Aliso Viejo
- Anaheim
- Beverly Hills
- Boston (MA)
- Camarillo
- Camp Pendleton (Marine base)
- Carlsbad
- Del Mar
- El Monte
- Encino
- Fargo (ND)
- Hollywood
- Huntington Beach
- Irvine
- La Jolla
- Laguna Hills/Niguel/Woods
- Lakewood
- Las Vegas (NV)
- Long Beach
- Los Angeles and area, Cal State LA/East LA, Downtown, Silver Lake, Brentwood, Westwood, Los Feliz, Boyle Heights, etc. ... not good at defining this
- Los Olivos
- Moorhead (MN)
- Montebello
- Newark (NJ)
- Oakbrook (IL)
- Ojai
- Pasadena
- Reseda
- Rosemead
- Newport Beach
- San Antonio (TX)
- San Diego
- San Gabriel/South San Gabriel
- San Francisco
- San Marino
- Santa Barbara
- Santa Monica
- Santa Ynez
- South El Monte
- Tarzana/Mulholland Fire Road/Santa Monica Mountains
- Tustin
- Ventura

Change of Plan

I know I had mentioned I was going to start marathon training on Hal Higdon's Novice 2 schedule today, July 12, 2010...


...But then I started to think that I could push myself a BIT harder now that I've run SIX marathons. No, not all of them were good by any means, but I really shouldn't discount myself as a "novice," injuries or not.

What...did you think I was going to say that I have deferred my training?? Fat chance!

It is now the time that I should step it up at least a little. I know Hal says that even on a Novice schedule, one can qualify for Boston, but I think I need a little help. Of course, the gung-ho in me was hoping I could do a program that had hills and sprints incorporated into it... but I think that I could add those sparingly on my own as I attempt to get myself back into good shape.


Yes, my blog friends, I am serious about making some kind of improvement, but I am not so ambitious to the point that I would wreck it all by re-injuring myself. So I feel that this is a happy and do-able medium, if only I can follow it as closely as possible. No, my body might not tolerate my marathoning goals very well, but I'm still determined to overcome my fears and all the other obstacles I put up against myself.

Lastly, I was inspired by this:

“Do all the good you can,
In all the ways you can,
To all the souls you can,
In every place you can,
At all the times you can,
With all the zeal you can,
As long as ever you can”

-John Wesley


...And so it begins!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 7/11 - 7/17

It's marathon training time, folks!

I will fill in the pacing gaps for each of these runs. For instance, I don't know what my "marathon pace" should be, but if I want to PR, I think I need to keep it to a consistent 6.3 mph. That's kinda slow for me to be running, it's just that I tend to break down during races. So I will be doing something faster than that during training... "The Ukrainian" has given me the green light to go a 7.0 mph. Yay?

------

This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - rest
Was supposed to do yoga, but gosh darn it, I was having a laaaazzzzyyy day. I should have done it, though, if not just to get rid of that "I need to get out of the house" feeling.

Monday - 5 mi @7.0, 30 min stretch/arms/abs, 20 min backbends yoga
Okay, so the back of my left ankle area feels sore. It actually started during this run. Also, left hip feels tweaked. I don't think it's necessarily a consequence of speed, nor do I think it's anything bad. Fear/paranoia will only lead me to tenseness and more injury. So meanwhile, I press on. Also, the DVD player wasn't hooked up correctly, so I had to do the dang yoga without sound... definitely tough and not as fun.

Tuesday - 3 mi @7.0, 45 min FitMoves circuits
Had a rough start but finished the run. Also did not do my yoga due to rebelliousness. After working a full day, this workout, and working on my dissertation, I did not want anymore to-do items on my list... yoga being one of them.

Wednesday - 5 mi @3.6-7.0, [planned - salsa 1.5 hr]
This was one of those mornings that I wonder why I don't quit running. Legs were breaking down, and it just reminds me of how un-fun running has been for me lately.

Thursday - 3 mi @7.0, 30 min various biking, 30 min strength/stretch/abs

Friday - 45 minutes FitMoves circuit class, 15 min elliptical @10r, 15 min s.bike @ 3.5r

Saturday - 8 mi - outdoors, 30 min playing in the water

Weekly Mileage: 24

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Yoga for Weight Loss (YogaDownload.com)


I downloaded a couple of things from YogaDownload.com, which are meant to be downloaded onto iPods and such to take yoga workouts everywhere.

Some of the shorter lessons are free -- longer ones are priced pretty low as well.

My iPod now contains a video called "Yoga for Weight Loss." This was one of the few times I actually used the video-playing functionality on my iPod, and it worked okay. It is hard to see what's going on whilst holding positions, but to me, it was easy enough that I'm sure in a few workouts, I wouldn't need to look, anyway.

So the 20-ish minute video emphasizes chin locks (in which you bring your chin to your chest to stimulate the thyroid, which is supposedly the weight loss part of it. The sequences are not too difficult and run through a few times each to get you warm. And yes, I did find myself getting warm while doing this, though I've already been doing other yoga as well and didn't find it difficult at all.

If I'm on the go, I'm going to certainly turn to this when I feel like I need some yoga, though as wrong as this may sound, I prefer a male voice telling me what to do (like Rodney Yee). I found this instructor's soft voice to make me feel like this was too "yoga-y" for me, throwing out foreign words for poses and such.

Whether all this yoga stuff is helping or not (I'm averaging 3-4 20-min sessions a week) with my running is still up in the air, but I think there's overall benefit to me and my relaxation needs, especially during stressful times.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Google Analytics

Up until now, I admit that I didn't know what kind of traffic this blog receives. I use Feedburner to keep track of how many people subscribe to my feeds, but as far as absolute hits... nada.

And nada is precisely what I was expecting in terms of how many people visit this site.

Not so, says Google Analytics, one of Google's lastest neat tools besides Blogger itself.

This is pitiful, but I have been tracking for about a week and get about 25-55 visitors per day. I got about 222 visitors in one week, which may include those who loyally or occasionally read... in addition to those from India or Europe randomly coming upon this site looking for diarrheal relief (just kidding... get it?!)!



(this screen shot was taken a few days after the top one)



So if you want to try this out, all you have to do is copy and paste some HTML code in your blog template, and it does the rest.

P.S. Happy Birthday to the one from Ukraine!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Weekly Workouts: 7/4 - 7/10

This week is my last week before I actually start on a marathon schedule!

So for this week, the goal is to hit a 6.8 mph pace for up to 50 minutes at a time. This means, same distance... but faster.
------

This Week's Workouts:

Sunday - 20-ish minutes of Yoga for Weight Loss, to be reviewed later (4th of July holiday)

Monday - 5.2 mi at what was TRYING to be @6.8, but too hard so I had to take walking breaks; 1.5 miles of cooldown-/jogging; 20 min stretching; [planned - 20 min yoga??]

Tuesday - "The Ukrainian"'s birthday... took him to a theme park, which meant lots of walking and weird eating (food+rides=nausea) for me. Had dinner with his family and came home just in time for bed, so yoga was a no-ga today.

Wednesday - 5.6 mi @6.8, .4 mi cooldown (jog/walk); 30 min strength/stretch/abs, 1 hour athlete conditioning yoga (review to come later)

Thursday - 5.6 mi @6.8, .4 mi cooldown, 10 min bike @3.0r, 20 min standing poses yoga

Friday - 45 min FitMoves circuits, 30 min s.bike @4.0r

Saturday - 6 mi @whatever pace I was able to go, which was not good...

Weekly Mileage: 24.75

Friday, July 2, 2010

Falling Out of Love

Blog About Life.

I have been blogging here a lot more lately. A part of the reason is that it is summer, and due to my dissertation chair taking her sweet time providing feedback while in Turkey (she's off-contract, so she is actually doing me a service by agreeing to work with me over the summer), I haven't been doing much work on that front.

Over the past month or so, also, salsa classes have been on hiatus. I take salsa on Wednesday evenings and sometimes Saturday afternoons. After six months of this, it's losing its fun-factor. I will still be going to class, but I will probably miss the first class next week because I don't want to spend 90 minutes doing the basic step over and over again!

Thirdly, I've been motivated by reader comments, followers, and hits that I've been getting. I know I'm not one of those top health/fitness bloggers, but I already have a full-time job and the rest of my life divided in between my family, my love, my friends, and my own self-development. Plus, I know I am nowhere near perfect or ideal when it comes to personality or health habits. So I am happy with whatever readership I can get.

But truly, blogging provides some sort of substance to time that I am not really happy with my work or my life in general.

The Set-Up.

Not too long ago, I told my mom that I might take a little longer on my PhD than expected. And I also told her what I have been telling some of my close friends -- I don't want to continue with school sometimes. All the hardship of not having a stable job and still having to plow through school is what I was trying to avoid by continuing school in the first place. Sometimes, I think I would have been better off had I stopped after my bachelor's.

And then there's my sentiment that I chose the wrong field. Given that I'm geared toward Human Resources and how often HR work is contracted out, how can I expect to find a stable job that still has the work-life balance that I truly desire? Fortunately, I have worked around long enough to be good at other things besides HR-stuff, but then that means that all this schooling is for naught. It's all about Lifestyle vs. The Dream.

My wonderful mom said that I have just been unlucky due to the economy, and given that I have already started lathering up my hair to wash, I need to finish up the job... at least until something better comes along. Oh, I love her metaphors!

Why I'm Falling Out of Love.

I'm at a crossroads right now, yet again. Without too many details, it involves taking a risk, and of course, guilt, worry, and possible regret. I know that life is filled with many of these types of decisions, but somehow I feel this one is bigger than any of the other ones I've had in a while.

I've fallen out of love with my dream, yet I sort of think that I have set myself up for something good. The road is not clear, and whatever my decision is could seriously mess me up down the road...

...okay, so nothing is ever THAT bad, right? I have my health and social support behind me. But I was raised to fear everything, and although I sometimes deliberately take risks to break the cycle that I've grown up learning, that fear still looms.

And fear is one mental block I will need to conquer if I am ever to become a better runner. Fear has tensed me up and inhibited my performance countless times. I think it carries over into life itself.

And guilt? Bah! Why do I always feel guilty about everything? As a psychologist by education (and trade, to an extent), I just want to be helpful to people. That really keeps me going. And when I feel that my decisions hurt or worry others that I care about, I feel like the scum of the earth. I shouldn't feel guilty. I'm not being careless. I might not always be right, but it's not like I don't think things through!

I'm young... aren't I meant to struggle? Aren't I meant to make mistakes? Don't I know that people will not abandon me if I am not always perfect?

Stay tuned for the details sometime late next week.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Stick vs. Foam Roller

This is one of those entries that have been a long time in the making, as I had to give both of these products much, much use before giving my full opinion of them. I am fortunate in that both of these items have been made available to me via my company gym.

First up is The Stick. It is about 1.5 feet long in the version that I've been using and kind of reminds me of a plastic rolling pin with the center part sectioned off like beads so that they can roll independently.

I like that I can roll out my muscles while lying down sitting, or perhaps even standing. It is just like rolling out dough. A moderate press is all you need to feel an effect. Go too hard and you'll just be hurting yourself. Sometimes, there is a chance that your skin can get a little pinched in between the sections. I also doesn't work too well right up against bone (i.e., the shin), but otherwise, my quads and hamstrings and calves love it after a good run!



Next up is the foam roller.

It is a styrofoam-type material and comes in different "densities" (imagine a light/porous styrofoam ball vs. a tightly-packed styrofoam box). This baby comes in various lengths, but I typically use a 3 ft one.

There are a variety of foam roller techniques to get a good roll-down, since you have to be on the floor, so this is a disadvantage. You need to be careful how much of your body weight you place while rolling out various parts of your leg, lest you over-press your muscles! And yes, you'll likely be on all-fours or something awkward like that as you try to shift your weight correctly.

However, I think using your body weight as you have to with the foam roller creates a much deeper massage than The Stick, and sometimes, you really do need that level of pressure.

------

All in all, I think both of these devices have a purpose and place in general muscle-relaxation for runners. If I had to purchase one myself, I would get The Stick beccause it is smaller, more compact, and easier to use. But I would definitely miss the foam roller if I no longer have access to one...