Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012

Another year, another Halloween (see here and here for a bunch of previous costumes and pumpkins!)

Here is my contribution to the slew of themed posts today:

NOTE: Organic pumpkins seem more difficult to carve because of their thinner skin and inability to stay fresh for very long.

Keeping in with the video game party theme...

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half-Marathon

EVENT: Rock n Roll Los Angeles Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, October 28, 2012
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
RACE BEGAN: 07:30 am
FINISH TIME: 02:08:23

Since I've done LA Marathon so many times, I was hesitant to sign up for a half-marathon covering similar territory.  However, I was pulled in by a discount and T-shirt the last time I went to a Rock n Roll expo in February.

At the expo.
This race is meant to be a costumed race, which is something I've never done before (besides our LA Marathon bunny ears).  Even when I ran the Disneyland Half a couple of years ago, I didn't really think of wearing a "real" one until it was too late in the starting corrals.  This time, I had a feeling that costumes would be expected, so I put together something simple for "The Ukrainian" and myself.

Two weeks left.

I guess I could have been more original with my costume, as I saw several other brides, some more simple than me, some with the full-on gown and up-do.  I made my "tu-tu" out of strips of tulle from the fabric store and a long ribbon, making slip-knots along it.  I also pinned a larger piece to my Jackrabbit cap (mentioned here).  Now, I normally cringe when I see tu-tu's at most other road races (I mean, yes, we know you're a chick and that you're running, good for you... but talk about unnecessary extra weight to carry), but I figured it would be appropriate in this case.  Would I do it again?  Not anytime soon!

("The Ukrainian"'s piece was felt, duh.)

We rode the Metro to the race, as we did the expo, to save on parking and gas. There were actually a lot of runners onboard Sunday morning.

I found my younger sister volunteering as a "guard" of Corral 13.  I am forever traumatized by corrals at Rock n Roll races because of a previous bad experience that I didn't even explicitly mention on here (but if you go to that post and look carefully at my bib, you'll get an idea).  My other sister, who was running, was in Corral 4.

Just tried my new 50% off ProCompression socks for the first time, and they are surprisingly very good!

This race was relatively flat, with gradual climbs starting in the middle third, culminated by a larger bridge climb after Mile 9.  Since I wasn't wearing any electronic devices on me, I must have gone out too fast, or at least too fast for someone who hasn't trained... as I was "done" at around Mile 4.  (5K split - 27:42, 10K - 57:58)

At one point, I kicked part of the uneven road (at the Coliseum... fu$c), and the top of my left foot felt a sharp pain.  Luckily, it faded in about ten minutes, and also, I somehow was able to absorb myself in the amusement of other people's costumes enough to muster a finish, walking only at the water stations and at one point during Mile 12, inside a very hot tunnel.

Took a photo of this at the expo... there was  "mini-marathon," which had a medal nearly identical to the half.

Yes, it's the end of October, and the race was as sunny and hot as ever (thank goodness I wore sunglasses!!).  Before I knew it, I went from Mile 10 to 13, and given how uncomfortable it was to run in this garb, I thought my time was acceptable.

Kudos to yet another well-organized Rock n Roll event... guess you gotta know how to do it "right" to have made such a big business out of it.  Loved the little Jamba Juice cups at the end... and the Slurpees!!

And with that (unless something changes), the 2012 racing season is over.  It started out pretty well when I was coming off of residual fitness from training last year, but as the year wore on, my lack of training caught up with me.  Not that I'm not happy with my performances, though.  I do plan on taking a different approach next year, but in the meantime, I need to take a break (probably until December) and get married.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Insanity, Round Two

As you probably know, my workouts for the past five months have primarily been Insanity ones.  I started a second round in August and am nearly done, again (I'm on Week 8 of 9).

For a something like three weeks, I did follow a P90X/Insanity hybrid schedule, but it wasn't working for me (perhaps I will post more about that another time).

One of my most popular posts on this blog has quickly become this "How Hard is It?" update I did in my first round, so I can see that this program has generated a lot of interest.  [I also recently read that Shaun T got married this past weekend, so I've been thinking about this program often.]

Now that I'm nearly done again, I thought I'd answer some of the frequently-asked questions that I get whenever people find out I'm doing the program again:

1) Why??!

The simple answer of why I came back to this program was because P90X wasn't working out, it got WAY too hot to run this summer, and frankly, it was just convenient to know what I'm doing, and when... right in my own living room.  Of course, the fact that the wedding is coming did give me extra motivation to just continue with what "works," and it also allowed me to have structure during an otherwise busy time.

Plus, "The Ukrainian" wanted to do this, and there's nothing more motivating than a workout buddy who is doing the EXACT same stuff as you, on the same schedule.

2) Is it easier this time?

Yes and no.  I know what to expect this time, so my form is better and my pace throughout the videos is more even.  However, I still sometimes can't hang with doing some exercises for a long time, since I push harder on others (e.g., ski abs, power jumps, @%^&).  In terms of calorie-burn, I do notice it is a little decreased from the last round, so either I'm slacking off or my body got used to the exercises (probably the latter).

Also, not sure if this factors in, but I skipped doing the Fit Tests this time, because I find them too stressful and conducive to bad form.  I have also been skipping rest days in favor of running, though I still do the "recovery" workouts.  I've worked out every day since August 26th.

3) How do you not get tired of it?

By now, I can practically quote Shaun T in some parts ("Jump from the bottom!!"), but I kind of just learned to go on auto-pilot mode and use the same ol' verbiage as time cues.  Also, since there are a bunch of cast members, I notice new stuff on the videos all the time and make mental commentary (or sometimes out loud if I'm working out with "The Ukrainian), e.g.:

- Tania cheats on her Fit Test: incomplete Power Knees, counts both legs as reps in Switch Kicks, brags and makes Chris look bad when he's the one with better form

- Akil quits too often, for the physique that he has... almost makes me think he's acting

- Shanita appears in like two Month 1 videos and drops off, because clearly she cannot hang!!

- Ariel is either two people, have similar-sounding names, or dyed her hair during the course of filming.  The blonde Ariel is inspiring -- great form, hardly quits, and nice abs

- Mandy seemingly can't count toward the end of Max Interval Plyo, counting down rep #7 as #11.

- Darren's inability to stretch properly (in multiple videos!!) causes us to stay in certain stretches waaaaay longer than I'd like as he gets "fix"ed.

- I always look forward to Jimmy saying "I'm a Beachbody coach!" in his squeaky voice, because that's my cue that the "high/low jab with a squat" is almost over.

- There's a "over 40" woman in the back of some of the videos who is often ignored but is the only girl who isn't half-naked.

- How does Angelique do all the workouts in a hat?  Ick.

- There's a girl who doesn't tie her long, curly hair in a Month 1 video, and I love when she says she feels "like $*it" during tricep dips, because that's accurate.

- I'm neutral to Rachel... she can really pick it up when I'm otherwise dying.

- Anna is my favorite... not too skinny and really "brings it" to each exercise.

- Jeff (and I think Frankie?) is a beat-boy... I notice he does really well with the camera on him and then he kind of slacks if he's not the focus... probably the same with the other guys.

- Shaun T makes random flubs here and there -- wrong names for the moves, missing some leg lifts on one side when stretching, saying stuff like "put your knee against your knee," etc.  But we all know what he's trying to say, and in general, his cues are pretty good.

... I guess these are those "you had to be there" things in order to understand ... and clearly, I am willing to pay attention to anything to divert focus on the pain. (I don't mention all this to normal ask-ers.)

4) (not a question) You'll hurt yourself!

Surprisingly, the only "injuries" I've had was a sore ankle that actually was the result of wearing high heels for too long while traveling for business... and recently, I think I irritated my back landing on Power Jumps... thankfully, I now am on a trip where I only plan to run/elliptical will allow me to rest it... not going to eff with back things.

I do get sore a lot, but that's to be expected, especially since I miss my rest days.  I experience more injuries from running, frankly.  To avoid injuries doing Insanity, follow his reminders to focus on form.

5) Are you going to keep doing this? / What about running?

I will finish this round and then focus on marathon training.  At least, that's my intention.  The weather is cooling down, and I think I actually want to start training for races again, instead of winging them.  I do plan on breaking out these workouts once or twice a week, along with some other ones I've reviewed on here.

At the moment, I don't know if I could do another "round" again in the future.  I do like the structure, but I'd imagine I'd get really burnt out.  If I hit another running lull, I might either re-try P90X, the P90X/Insanity hybrid, or my secret want, Insanity: The Asylum.

6) (not a question) You must be getting really ripped!

No, I still eat cookies for breakfast, but sometime during the second month, I definitely notice flatter abs, more toned arms and legs.... enough for me to see that it's working.  Also, the fact that I can still race without dying is another (non-scale/non-appearance) benefit.

7) Can I do this??

Yes, just go at your own pace, and please have a fitness base.  Lots of people want to just dive into this program from practically "nothing," so I think that's like going from couch to... at least half-marathon.  I don't like to sound mean, but if you can't hang with Jillian Michaels, how can you expect to be successful with Insanity??

8) Anything else?

Do workouts that interest you, not because other people try to convince you that it is THE way (ahem, Cross-Fit, marathoning, etc.).  I personally like Insanity because Shaun T is an excellent motivator, and I'm used to drill-like routines from high school (the perk of working out at home efficiently is also alluring).

The best workout is the one that you will keep doing. ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This Blog is Six

I'm not going to write some elaborate, sentimental post about the official sixth anniversary of this blog, but you can find that kind of stuff below:

I will say, though, that I'm pretty proud to still be blogging, even though there is total blog OVERLOAD out there.  At a conference I attended recently, they cited IBM's claim that 90% of the world's data was created in the past TWO years.  Can you believe that?!  It is kind of hard to fathom.

So... thank you to those who are still reading! 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Coppertone Sport Pro Series (giveaway)

UPDATED 10/24/12 -- Giveaway is now closed.  The winner is #8, Heidi!  I will email you, but if you miss it, please contact me.


Sure, I avoided running a lot during the icky summer, but now that it REALLY can't be much longer before cooler days (it IS October, after all!), it's time to get out there again.  

Just because it's cooler doesn't mean you should put the sunscreen away, though.  I've mentioned this quite a few times on this blog, but once you've seen a piece of your skin scalpel-ed off for a biopsy, you will probably not want to "go without" very often at all.

I recently got to try a new line of Coppertone sunblock spray, which claims to actually "move" with your skin so that it offers better protection.

What did I think of it??  Well, it definitely had a better smell than most spray-on sunscreens I've used, and I really didn't think it felt icky, which is kind of surprising.  It dried on really well and didn't seem to come off after running for two hours.

Dr. Elizabeth Hale, Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at New York University School of Medicine and consultant to Coppertone, is training for her fifth marathon – here are some of her sun safety tips for fellow runners:

·        Shield with shades. UV radiation can damage the eyes and the skin around them, so it is important for runners to wear their sunglasses. To provide the best protection for your eyes, your shades should block out 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays. Choose wrap-around frames, which stay on better while you train.

·        Replenish yourself. Drinking water can help keep your body and skin hydrated, especially if you are sweating. It is essential for runners to pay attention to how much water they are drinking before, during and after outdoor exercise. “I like to apply Coppertone Sport Pro Series with DuraFlex before stepping outside for training. This lightweight formula sprays on easily and helps keep my skin hydrated,” says Dr. Hale.

·        Protect every inch. Runners and other outdoor athletes tend to forget to apply sunscreen on all areas of their face and body. The most commonly overlooked areas when applying sunscreen are the scalp, ears and backs of hands. Just remember to bring your sunscreen and reapply every two hours.

·        Timing is everything. Schedule your outdoor training when the sun is less intense; avoid exposure between the peak hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. If you do run during that time, choose a route that offers plenty of shade.

·        Go safe with your style. Make sure to protect your skin during your run with the appropriate attire. Try wearing lightweight, sun-protective clothing. Also, stay cool with a baseball hat to help shield your face from the sun.

COPPERTONE GIVEAWAY -- ends Wednesday, October 24 at 12 PM PST, US only

To enter, leave a comment for EACH item completed:

1) Leave a comment about how you protect your skin during outdoor activities. +1

2) Follow/link this blog. +1

3) Retweet the link to this post (@nobel4lit) +1

4) Follow me on Twitter @nobel4lit +1

FTC Disclaimer: I was provided a sample of this product to try and was not compensated to provide a positive opinion of it.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why I'm Getting Married

"Because what if I'm 60 years old and not married,

all alone in a furnished room with pee stains on my underwear

and everybody else is married! All the universe married but me!

Ah, yet well I know that were a woman possible as I am possible

then marriage would be possible --

Like SHE in her lonely alien gaud waiting her Egyptian lover

so I wait -- bereft of 2,000 years and the bath of life." 

 ~ excerpt from Gregory Corso, "Marriage" (one of my all-time favorite poems)

Ready or not, one month is all that separates us from the legal status we call marriage.

Growing up, I never considered myself the marrying "type."  At worst, I figured I would become obsolete by the age of 30 and, if not, that "marriage is death."  I'm not exactly sure where all this negativity came from -- although far from perfect, I had many stable marriages serving as my benchmarks of sorts.

My past luck was relationships was pretty unfavorable.  Like most, I had a few crushes/obsessions, none reciprocated, and was also the reluctant "recipient" of such feelings from others.  I had only had one "boyfriend," however nominal, whimsical, and short-term that was, and it was enough to keep me from making that same "mistake" again.  [We've since lost touch, so if you're out there reading, I don't mean to be offensive... I just wasn't mentally mature enough to understand, well, pretty much anything.]

I've always been insecure about my appearance, so after a while, I didn't even consider myself a worthy candidate for the "meat market."  I pretty much decided that I'd just stay single and hang out with my few friends... and then work myself to death in order to replace the void of having a companion.  (I promise it sounded more appealing to me back then than it does written out here!!)  Looking back, I will admit that this mentality did keep me really focused in school and such, but I would be inexplicably down a lot.  After enough episodes of me being the "third wheel," I started feeling pathetic and ashamed.

In my early twenties, I felt the twinge of rebellion, deciding that even if I found nothing serious, I just had to get myself out there.  I almost created an online dating profile but clicked "X" after nearly an hour of surveys when I decided that $59.95 was worth more than a chance at a lifetime of happiness (hah!).  Later, I agreed to come along for speed-dating with a group of classmates.  Before the details solidified, though, "The Ukrainian" came into my life.

If you crack open my high school yearbook, you will see that I used a Yu-Gi-Oh! quote below my senior portrait.  So embarrassing to admit that I had a thing for that animé and also used a dubbed quote, but oh well.  The quote was, "If you truly want to know, open your mind!"

I will never know how or why this guy caught my attention (or how I kept his long enough for him to persist even in my early reluctant-to-commit stage).  After all, I grew up fairly sheltered, and he was just so different than me.  But I am glad that I kept my mind open just long enough to see where this could go, or at least long enough to have some "funny" stories to share with my classmates.

As for marriage, well, even though I never believed it to be necessary or beneficial, it kind of just feels like one of the most natural things in the world right now.  It was almost as though there was no decision to make besides whether or not we wanted to have an actual wedding.  Sure, it's going to involve a lot of maturity/growth (still!) and work to maintain a successful marriage, but we both know that we will be fine because, well, we are with the right person.

Oddly, I am one of the first in my closer cohorts to be getting married.  It does feel a bit strange, and sometimes I still feel "too young," but all that is relative to comparisons to the past and other people.  To heck with that.

If my teenage self was correct and "marriage is death," then I'm kind of glad to be putting my past mentality to rest and embracing my present fortune.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Long Beach ICB Half-Marathon 2012

EVENT: Long Beach ICB Half-Marathon
DATE: Sunday, October 7, 2012
LOCATION: Long Beach, CA
RACE BEGAN: 7:00 am
FINISH TIME: 02:06:09

Somehow, I feel as though I've done this race five times, but it was actually my fourth time (see here, here, and here for my past three recaps).  

I tend to drag and perform sub-optimally in this race because there is a section, miles 7-10 or so, that runs along the beach.  Although this is touted to be something good, to me, it's always boring, and always in the sun.  I guess another reason that I never really run well is because an October race means summer training, and that never really materializes very well.

I don't have a lot of additional commentary on the course itself.  Beyond the boring stretch, it's pretty well organized and had adequate aid stations.

I've only been running once a week or so for the past few months, since I've been doing Insanity and avoiding the summer heat as much as possible.  Considering that, I'm pretty impressed I am still able to pull through a half-marathon, period.  I was actually running at a decent pace in the first, hillier half, hitting the 10K at around 57 minutes.  I ran with my Polar heart-rate monitor rather than my Garmin again, so I don't really know my times again, but I did learn that a "comfortable-yet-not-too-slow," 9:20-9:40 pace is about 180-185 BPM on the heart-rate monitor.

Oh, and I wore my new Endomondo (David Andersen collection) shirt... beyond the fact that I totally sweat through it, I really liked it because it was a good (non-riding-up) length.

Wow, the color of the shirt seemingly changed in these photos, but I assure you...  it's the same one.

Finally, I definitely felt more motivated to run more after this race.  I wasn't actually doing too bad until the "boring miles," when I pretty much "gave up" and suffered the wrath of improper restroom timing pre-race.  Also, whereas I usually faded in the last couple of miles in the past, I felt strong and made up some lost time during the slight climbing end of this course.  I kind of credit Insanity for allowing me to tolerate inclines slightly better than I have in the past... just gotta work on the running endurance now.

I have another half-marathon in a few weeks, which is probably going to be the last of this fairly race-heavy year.  The plan is that after Insanity, the wedding, the honeymoon, and a small break, I think I will feel ready to begin training for next year's races in earnest.

HUGE series medal from Beach Cities (Surf City, OC, and this one)... you can see the size contrast to the bib... nice!