Monday, April 30, 2012

La Jolla Half-Marathon 2012

EVENT: La Jolla Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, April 29, 2012
LOCATION: Del Mar & La Jolla, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:30 am
FINISH TIME: 02:09:47

I did this race because it is Part 2 of 3 of the Triple Crown.  Part 1 was Carlsbad Half-Marathon in January.  This was a repeat race for me, last having done this in 2008.

Before I go on, this race is one of the handful that I've run without portable music.  I tend to leave music behind in trail races, but otherwise, I had forgotten about the "no iPod" rule for this one and then debated internally whether I should abide, since I keep the volume low anyway.  Finally, I decided that I should just follow the race's set rules as part of good sportsmanship, though I really missed my tunes and am pretty sure I could have shaved some time off with that kind of motivation.  In addition, I didn't appreciate hearing snickering, heavy breathing, hacking of snot, talk about other races, and talk about upcoming hills.  While these things are audible to me normally, I can usually distract myself with music. 

The weekend itself was very packed.  Friday, I headed down to the San Diego area to attend a networking event, and then it was a packed day-and-a-half spent with friends and gluttony.

And these guys (at the La Jolla Cove):

On Friday, I realized that I wouldn't be able to pick up my packet on the way down, since the expo is only open on Saturday.  That was pretty disappointing.  On Saturday, the trip into La Jolla was extremely slow due to traffic, and given that the materials said "9 am -1 pm and 2-5 pm" (a whole other gripe in itself), we were running close to the "lunch break" and were worried we would have to wait through it.  At least they did improve the expo by moving it to a huge grassy area versus a small parking lot four years ago.

Unfortunately, they lost my bib, so I had to stick around for them to void that missing number and assign me a new one.  Not a big deal, but in my many half-marathons, I have never had any hitches like that before. Oh, and now I was 25 years old again according to my new registration. =)

On race morning, I was terribly bloated (due to the gluttony I referenced above?), and because of the VERY congested way into the parking area, I barely had time to use the port-a-potty before taking off. Because of this last-minute stuff, I didn't get to eat my Honey Stingers that I usually do and had to carry those and a plastic water bottle throughout the race.  That certainly slowed me down a bit, but since it was so humid and water stations a bit far apart, I was glad I had the option of drinking as I pleased.

I didn't push that hard during this race, as I have another half next weekend and really didn't want to push my luck, considering my lack of long runs as of late.  I treated this more like a training run just to get myself used to being out there for two hours, on a tough course and all.


Mile 1 - 9:22
Mile 2 - 9:03
Mile 3 - 9:34
Mile 4 - 10:22

The first few miles had quite a few small climbs and a steeper one in the fourth mile, which I decided to walk because I already felt as if I was overheating.  The weather was overcast, but humid.

Mile 5 - 8:57

Flat bridge.  I felt chest pain during this mile, but I've been running long enough to know that it was simply a pectoral cramp (kind of like a side stitch) and not something more serious.

Mile 6 - 12:41
Mile 7 - 10:34

Big hills at Torrey Pines Reserve.  Very reminiscent of the hills at Elysian Park, maybe even worse since I was able to run just fine those but not these??  This is the part of the race everyone talks about.

Mile 8 - 9:46
Mile 9 - 9:20
Mile 10 - 9:53

Small ups and downs in Miles 8-10, even though all a runner would want after the climbs above is a nice strong downhill!

Mile 11 - 8:41

There was some of that nice downhill here, finally.

Mile 12 - 9:21
Mile 13 - 10:43

Half a mile climb toward the end... it was pretty cruel, but we all knew it was coming.  I tried running up, but soon I realized I just didn't want to push as it got steeper.

Was trying to at least beat 2:10 and made a run for it at the end.

.21 mi - 7:01 pace

When I did this race four years ago, I only finished a minute slower than this time, and that weather was much warmer.  So while I should have done better now that I'm more "experienced," my real goal coming into this was just to beat my previous time on this course.  It is definitely not a PR course, and at least at my level, not a sub-2 course, either.

I'm pretty sure I won't be revisiting this race anytime soon -- not just because of the hills but because the congestion around the La Jolla area kind of blows me away every time I visit there, and the logistics need a bit more ironing out to make it a more pleasant experience for everyone.  Strange rules about "no iPod" and limited expo time (which contributed to the congestion) need to be looked at again; if you're going to have a prohibition on my beloved musical drugs, please enforce it because nobody besides me seemed to care.

(The medal came in a baggie, which I actually appreciated.  Shirt is Men sized but tech material.)

Friday, April 27, 2012

One Year Later

A year ago, I posted THIS entry as I was getting ready to do my final dissertation defense. 

It was also the first day I was addressed as "doctor."  To clarify, most of the time nowadays, people say stuff like, "Oh, I didn't know you were a doctor."  It's not something I like to throw around because A) I'm not a medical doctor or professor, and B) it makes me feel as though I actually need to KNOW something... and I am often doubtful about that!  But at the time, it was novel, and to be called that by a professor made up for SOME of the nights I spent on the phone, writing my dissertation, while listening to music and watching videos on YouTube.

I know I didn't always paint the rosiest picture of graduate school here, but in spite of my whining, there is nothing quite like doing something that you've only heard joked about on television or referenced as a hyperbole (ever heard, "Just write a couple of paragraphs, not a dissertation"?).

While I lost several pounds of sweat that day, I did gain the experience of putting myself out there in one of the most intimidating ways.  Fortunately, in my graduate program, we had to do a preliminary defense, kind of like a practice run where you "defend" your dissertation proposal (which outlines details of your theory and how you will conduct your study).  The practice really made the actual one less scary, but having to explain complicated things in front of authorities who probably know more than you is freakish -- even more freakish because they probably STILL know more than you.

Plus, I'm not really that comfortable talking in front of people.  Yes, I have to do it for work and all throughout school, but it still is terrifying.  Case in point: you will rarely see me wear skirts for presentations, because I did that once and felt the sweat slowly rolling down my leg. *insert googly face*

Luckily, people told me that I'd do fine and that I would not have been allowed to schedule my 2+ hour defense if my advisor did not deem me "ready."  To fail me there would make her look bad, and so I really couldn't panic that much.

The bottom line is, whenever I am faced with something, I think about the day I defended and know that if I was able to do that, then whatever has come upon me couldn't be worse.  Leading webinars to be heard around the world?  Meh.  Presenting in front of VPs and Directors?  No problem (sorta)!  Although I'd usually rather run a marathon.  Really.

I am starting to experience what I like to call "brain rot," even though my friends tell me I'm too hard on myself.  I am in the process of preparing a publication based on my dissertation, but the languid pace is out of my control.  When I graduated, I set a goal to take about two years "off" before seriously considering anything like certifications and such, so I guess I have one more year to "recover."  Sometimes, the recovery is as tough as the "training."  Sometimes.

And... kind of non-sequitur but in reference to the post linked at the beginning of this entry, here's what my doggie looks like presently (yes, he's buckled in):

Finally, speaking of "anniversaries," "The Ukrainian" and I just celebrated ours.  I got him this... okay, not really, but it has taken me up until now to mention it.  His actual gift is related to our wedding, and I'll probably reveal it in a later post.

He got to do a neat product review of Irish Spring's Dual Action Sports Body Wash, which is formulated to combat acne on the body, usually a result of sweat (he doesn't have a ton, just a little every now and then).  I love sporty smells, which this definitely has, so I approved.  He liked that it made him feel very clean, and since he sweats more than me, that must be saying a lot.  As for whether it combats acne, it does seem to be less severe and frequent now, but it's really hard to tell these things when the problem wasn't bad.  If I had used this on myself, I would have known the effects more, since I know my skin issues really well.

Now if only there's a body wash that can help control my sweating when I'm up presenting...

FTC Disclaimer: I (or "The Ukrainian") was sent a sample of this product to review and was not otherwise compensated to provide any particular opinion on it.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Do You Weigh? (giveaway)

UPDATE: 5/4/12 -- This giveaway is now closed.  The winning comment is #5, Kenley!  I will contact you, but if you miss it, please e-mail me.  Thanks to all who entered... more giveaways are on the way!


I'm going to talk about weight here.

Of food.

I thought I'd spare you details of my not-so-great progress in my "equilibrium" (aka, to lose 10 lbs) goal.  I actually haven't used my scale in a couple of months, somewhat out of fear.  I'm pretty sure I've returned to my starting point from last November, not like I was having a huge loss, but it's hard for me to move anywhere in the downward trajectory. 

Some days, my clothes don't fit well... and then some days, they seem to just fine.  And when I went wedding dress shopping, I didn't really have issues with how I looked, so I'm not really inclined to check my (lack of) progress.

But it's less about appearance rather than how lackluster my runs and other fitness endeavors have been... how the VP in my department mentioned me in his health and fitness blog, yet here I am, walking during my short runs, begging "The Ukrainian" to turn around when we go on longer ones, and doing little more than workout videos as a stranger to the gym.  I haven't been the best role model, for sure.

I've fallen into some bad habits -- cereal for breakfast instead of oats, not taking my lunchtime walks, being a wimp during my runs, and eating haphazardly.  Sometimes, I'm not even sure how many servings of things I've eaten.  An ounce of cheese is often a serving, but how much is that?!

This Oxo Good Grips Food Scale is a kitchen tool that I never thought I'd use, but it is really good for things like moderating my portions.  Most of all, I don't have to glaze over whenever I see a recipe (like THIS soufflé) that calls for "oz" or "grams" of ingredients.  I sometimes make things that require a certain weight of ingredients (rather than volume, e.g., 1/2 cup), lest the balance between wet and dry is thrown off, and the final product is either too dry or too sticky.

Not anymore.

The bottom tray pulls out so you can put a bigger bowl on the scale and still see the measurement.  I sometimes just put stuff directly on top (and wipe it off afterward, of course!).

Want one?  I was sent a food scale just like this one to give away (U.S. residents only, sorry).  Requires two AAA batteries (not included).

To enter, leave a comment by the end of May 4 telling me how you do/would use a food scale.

Extra entries (+1 each)
- follow my blog (and comment)
- follow me on Twitter -- @nobel4lit (and comment)

FTC Disclaimer: I was sent this scale to review for free from Oxo (as part of the Foodbuzz program) and was not otherwise compensated to provide a particular review or host a giveaway of the product.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Mysteriously New Larabars

I was on my way back from an unsuccessful drug test (relating to THIS post) when I made this discovery.

No, I didn't fail (no poppy seed muffins for me that morning, hah!), but I did fail to see that the place I had gone to do it only does the drug screens from 1-4:30 PM, and so my trip was futile.  Dumb, dumb, dumb.  It was pouring rain, I had to pay for parking, and I'm pretty sure I lost some other money at one point when I spilled the contents of my wallet somewhere in that building.  Just one of those days.

I hadn't gone to the bathroom or eaten too much before the test.  I know it's not the same as fasting for a blood test, but anytime I need to provide specimens for medical purposes of any kind, I tend to hold my food and drink -- just in case.  Who knows... perhaps my food would get spiked or react with my vitamins or whatnot.  I know, I'm stupidly paranoid, but it's a habit.  Since I had to wait a couple more hours now to go back in for the test, I gave up on my "fasting" and picked up these new (to me?) items that I saw at Whole Foods on the way back:

These top two Larabars seemed surprising... I think they are Limited Editions/Seasonal????  The Pineapple Upside-Down Cake one was SO good... if you like pineapple (especially the dried kind), you'll like this bar.  The flavor really came through. 

Since I'm not a fan of orange-flavored things, I merely tolerated the Orange Float flavor, but that goes to show that the true flavor came through on that one, too.  I'm not sure if they are even available in most places, so don't be mad at me if you can't find them! =/

Below are some "uber" Larabars, which I had never seen before.  They are a more nut-heavy version of Larabars.  The Cherry Cobbler flavor was tart and nutty, and I would say more filling than typical Larabars.  The Bananas Foster one was not too sweet.  Overall, these both remind me of those "Kind" bars that you've probably tried (though I haven't reviewed for some reason!), but a bit bigger.

Speaking of things that are mysteriously "new," I recently went to the Natural History Museum in LA.  I think I've been to the one in La Brea, but I didn't know I could see dino bones so much closer to home (even though it's on a territory I'm usually opposed to being on).  It's a really fun place for those who get bored at art museums (I may or may not be one of those people, yet I still go).

One of the souveniers from the day was this Space Age Crystal-Growing Kit.  Something seemed to have gone wrong with the first attempt -- luckily, there are three other "experiments" in that kit to try.  I'm posting this photo because I tried to put it on my sister's Facebook timeline, and she "hid" it.  Ah, the power of blogging.

Has anyone been able to grow one of these successfully?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Duly Employed

Let's talk work.  Umm, not running or blogging... I mean "real" work.

I realize this is a public forum, but as far as I'm concerned, I don't find it horribly inappropriate to discuss my career struggles here.  In the type of economic climate we have had over the past five or so years, I think it's important to be familiar with the humility and perseverance that comes with employment.

Work is a huge part of my life... and most of our lives... for most of our lives.  It becomes part of our identities and is oftentimes our livelihoods.  Of course, because of the field I studied in graduate school (industrial and organizational psychology), I do believe that work is VERY important and is very much integrated with our own psyches.

So when people are out of work, it's like a charley horse to the ego.  We've all seen, or maybe experienced, this and its effects.  (I recently Tweeted THIS Harvard Business Review article on the subject... you should read it if you or someone you know is searching.)

I will say now that I am fortunate to have been employed throughout the entire recession, mostly "full-time."  However, what was missing from all of that was a sense of stability -- internships, a combination of part-time jobs, contractor assignments, etc. made up my working life for the past six years, since I left my college job in 2006.  Some of them had a vague promise of permanent work, while I saw others as quick stepping stones. 

While these positions did provide income, I didn't get paid for vacations, accumulate time-off, have retirement funds, or health/vision/dental insurances.  Plus, I was very much undercompensated for the work I was doing, often taking over the duties of other full-time-with-benefits workers for much less.  So as I watched my friends and peers take vacations and save for their retirements, I grew bitter because I had to work a certain amount to keep myself and my education afloat.  I know I shouldn't be so competitive or lustful, but I was.

My search for alternative jobs has ebbed and flowed over the years.  When I was particularly disgruntled, I'd apply to anything I saw in a burst.  Had a few interviews, but nothing materialized except new temporary positions.  I guess I wasn't ever in the right place at the right time, which is often how people end up where they do.  There were also periods when I seriously could not find positions that my skill set could cover without having to move far away.  And once I completed school, then I actually considered moving far away.  But I did not have the will to be that far away from my new niece, my love, and my immediate family, so I relented and accepted that I'd just bounce around temp-jobs forever.

This has never boiled down solely as an income issue.  I found it absurd that people would say that "The Ukrainian" could support me while I bounced around.  I love him, but no way.  I paid my own way through college and graduate school and would never take back that independence.

I have been ashamed.  I often didn't tell my parents what was really going on with work, as I didn't want them to worry or think less of me or think that I could not contribute.  You see, my main goal in life (since I was a teen!) was to get "that" corporate job with benefits -- that was pretty much it.  You could say that I was conditioned for that one life goal.  Embarrassing, but true, as I know many people out there have more ambitious goals such as starting their own businesses or making a true difference.  All I wanted was stability and to not be excluded from my co-workers at company-sponsored functions, feeling like I was an outsider when I did all the things everyone else did on a day-to-day basis.

And yes, I did obtain a doctorate in part to secure that fate for me.  However, I think it didn't help and probably hurt the cause.  All that sacrifice, wasted?

Now, after playing the game again, I am finally getting my stability.  It has been questionable; I don't think I'm coming out of this 100% thrilled due to the uncertain wait, but I happily signed that offer letter.  People will tell me that I could do better, but for now, this IS better.  This is what I want right now.  And besides, it's what I've been wanting to do since I was an undergrad.

My next worry is that I still won't be happy even though I've achieved my long-standing goal.  Maybe now I will finally feel like I belong in that place in which I spend more of my time with than in any other.  Maybe now I can be proud of the other things I've accomplished without tacking on, "But I still don't have a 'real' job."  My tangenital relationship with work and companies has been with me for so long that it had almost become a part of my identity -- wanted, but not wanted.  Neither here nor there.  Now, I guess I'm somewhere?  Can I proudly state my affiliations now?  Can I finally not have to drop huge parts of my income for health insurance?  Can I take a real vacation?

I am so lucky.  I realize that many are not, even those who have as much work experience and education as I do.  And I also realize that nothing is ever "for sure" in life, and I have to be prepared to move on if the need comes.

Bottom line... even though some things are somewhat out of your control, do NOT give up.  The path may not always be quick or direct, but as they say with running, you just gotta think about taking that next step.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It's Just a Dress

I haven't updated on wedding plans since February.  Since I apparently have some Klout on the topic, I figure I should post something eventually.

Going through all these motions definitely makes me question and re-question our decision to actually have a ceremony.  I know that isn't the best thing to say, but the excitement hasn't really been where people have led me to believe it should be.  This is probably in part because I am not doing the whole bridal party thing -- if I haven't mentioned it before, the reason for that is to keep simplicity.  Of course, the trade-off is that the excitement seems to come from those, so hmmm.  [Fortunately, a number of my female friends have volunteered to keep things flowing that day so that things don't fall apart completely under my inexperienced watch.]

I recently went for my first expedition for a dress.  I'm not sure where I got the idea of "7 months prior" from, but I had procrastinated long enough and decided to take an initial stab.  As I was doing this, I reaffirmed my uncomfortable-ness when it comes to attention and that this is really just a freaking dress.

A couple of the "not-the-one"s:

Armed with a few pictures from the session, I decided that I would shop around a little bit more before deciding on one -- not "the" one, but "a" one.  While I can understand that people dream about this all of their lives and are set on a particular look, I just want one that is comfortable and not akin to a prom or quinceñera dress.  Oh, and within the budget -- I refuse to pay $1k for a dress that I will only rent or buy+wear once.

Finally, I just thought I'd mention I've been doing a lot of learning, reading, and introspection lately.  Marriage seems to amplify the need to know where you're at, so to speak, and no doubt there will need to be a lot of open-mindedness for everyone involved.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ramblings from a Hasty Sign-Up

Coming out pretty fresh from the LA Marathon, I did something shocking and signed up for the Ojai 2 Ocean Marathon in June.

I won this entry at the Santa Barbara Marathon Expo last November and wasn't sure if I was going to use it.  Since I've been performing pretty well race-wise this year, my overconfidence won out in the end.  Besides, I've been conditioned to the word FREE to bite, thanks to my parents!

This has definitely been a packed racing year so far compared to last year, or perhaps I really just blew it in 2011 due to worrying about my dissertation and money.  Partly responsible for all the racing this year was the allure of these "race series" that give medals at the end -- the Triple Crown in San Diego and Beach Cities challenge.  I promise I won't let those kind of increasingly-popular race company gimmicks get the better of me in the future, so I anticipate that I will be running fewer races in subsequent years.  [Also, I don't want to jump that far ahead, but if I'm getting married, it'll only a matter of time before I have to (even if unintentionally) worry about, um, issues that might put my running on the backburner for a while.  So even if I'm not 100% enthused to run this race, I'll try to remember that I could be getting a pressure-less break at some point.]

"The Ukrainian" wants to redeem his LA Marathon performance, so this was mostly his idea.  I think the allure of a "downhill" course convinced me that I shouldn't automatically go for the half-marathon and then constantly wonder if I should have done the marathon.  I figure I can always drop down to the half if I don't feel good about the idea as June approaches.

This will definitely be my last pre-wedded marathon.  "The Ukrainian" wants to do one late in the year, but we'll have to see about that.  The Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon still doesn't look appealing enough to sign up for this year, as I still don't like the idea of running at night.

As for training, I just got back into my usual 10-15 mpw post-marathon and am not sure how to approach the next couple of months.  Basically, my goal is to not get injured and practice my walking strategy on a few "long" runs -- runs that will hopefully be legitimately long this time if I can only motivate myself.  I'm hoping that even with the same amount of "training," I will perform similarly or better in this race because the course is easier, and I should have further mastered my technique by then.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Random Photo Entry 29: Mostly Carbs

I realize that I am a bit behind in my normal posting schedule, though I'm sure most of us are inundated enough not to notice.

Things have been kind of haphazard lately... changes at work (will elaborate later), personal introspection (more on this later, perhaps), trying to stay on the running train post-marathon, and my eating... goodness.  I haven't quite been so peppy lately (unrelated to the eating, I think), which is not helping my "equilibrium goal," either.

So I thought I'd just share some of the things I've eaten as of late -- and these are probably the more innoculous items, mainly because they were cooked (mostly by "The Ukrainian")/eaten at home.

One of the "healthier" dishes... potato pancake/latke with tuna and salad (goat cheese+olives+grape tomatoes).

This was Domino's night.  Finished a pizza between the two of us, and no running took place the next day, hah!
 First egg poaching... just put it in rapid-boiling water.  No tutorials consulted... out of laziness?

"Benedict" on lavash with black lava salt, avocado, grape tomato, and olives.  All of these olives are coming from a Costco-sized container, so I'm glad I stopped hating them.

Is the egg too runny???

To go with this breakfast (yes, I eat huge breakfasts), I vegan-ized the cherry cobbler I made in THIS post by using Earth Balance instead of butter, and I didn't notice the difference.  This piece is topped with the caramel goat cheese mentioned in THIS post, though I left mine without because the cheese tasted too "game"-y for my liking.  Does anyone else hate the "game"-y taste of things, too?  Even when I ate meat, I steered far away from veal and anything else that had that taste.

Finally, these are not carbs (although carb backward = barc... close enough???), but this is a photo of my dog at the dog park with another little guy that looks a little like my sister's dog.