Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween is peskily falling in the middle of the week this year (as will Christmas and New Years' Day, unfortunately), so my sisters' annual costume bash has already taken place.  Admittedly, Halloween (<~ click link for all the other times I've blogged about this holiday) kind of snuck up on me this year for some reason mentally, though I was proactive and planned our costumes as early as I could after knowing what the theme was.  Oh, and I also made my usual Halloween Chex Mix.

I was a bit lazy this year and purchased most of our costume elements.  However, when I couldn't find certain things (at a reasonable price) I had to do a little crafting:


The final product:


The theme this year was "magic," so we were able to piece together a bunch of stuff for "The Ukrainian"'s costume.  It's hard to see in the picture, but he even trimmed his beard in a different way for the occasion.  We only needed to get a robe (Party City) and hat (eBay again, fairly cheap!), since the rest of the ensemble was re-used pieces of previous costumes or crafted out of stuff we already had.

I went the basic route: witch.  Worse yet, I eBay-ed my costume for under $20.  I thought I was being lazy, but luckily, all the girls were witches, so it worked out.  I tried to make my haggard hair look even more haggard by spraying the heck out of it with dry shampoo, which sort of worked, but mainly on the top of my head where the hat was covering it.  Boo!

Before leaving for the party, I had to try sneaking in a picture with this white prop.


Later on, I found a gash in my arm from this encounter, because he'd rather be doing this:


Also, at the last minute (just as the festivities were starting), I managed to carve a pumpkin.  I wasn't sure if I/we would pull it off that quickly, but years of carving experience allowed it to happen.  I didn't even follow all the steps that are typical and free-handed parts of it to save time.  I'm pretty sure I've been carving at least one pumpkin every year since I was 13/14? years old, more recently trying to follow the party themes.  Although I ended up doing a somewhat easier one than originally planned, the streak remains alive!  In record time!


Speaking of pumpkins, that's my niece dressed as a little witch (Kiki).  I think I've given this cutie many mentions on this blog, though this might very well be her first appearance. 

On Halloween night, I plan on staying home to see how many people actually show up to our new home.  I know I've said this before, but this holiday is kind of the first signal of the holiday whirlwind to come.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Seven Years of the "Runs"

And just like that, it's been 7 years.

Like last year, I don't really have a lot of sentimental ruminations about the anniversary of my first real post about my first Long Beach Half-Marathon.

However, I have been thinking about the blog and its future lately, more than usual.  When I started, I basically lived and breathed running.  Of course, I was also a (college!) student, newly into the workforce, and all that good stuff, but I used to take the little vacation time I had just to run... just to train, even.  Nowadays, perhaps because working the "9 to 5" for years kills your soul (so to speak), running occupies such a smaller space in my life, both time-wise and mentally.

This past weekend, after 4 months of running no more than 5 miles (most days under 4), I ran 13.1 miles in 2 hours and 2 minutes -- in a training session, faster than a good percentage of my actual half-marathons, not even at 100% effort.  I truly believe that this came from my "mental space" becoming clearer from not "running myself into the ground" moreso than my actual physical fitness (which isn't much, based on total training time and lack of weight-/cross-training).  Overall, it felt good in the Fall air, and that run kind of helped me affirm that running is always going to be a part of my life, even if I am slowly decreasing my race registrations this year. I had to adjust to a lot of new things since last year, and I'm sure there will be a lot of other new things in the future. People go through many phases in life, and there will always be a need to be active and clear the mind.

So the blog will stay, even though it sometimes feels like the blog world is spread too thin, and nobody wants to really blog anymore in favor of Instagram and such.  The blog will stay, through running and not running, because I have a feeling and hope that the best is yet to come.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Jillian Michaels - 6 Week 6 Pack

Wow, it has really taken a long time for me to review this DVD.

If you've been reading for a while, I have tried quite a few of Jillian Michaels' workouts.  However, I got all excited and wrapped up about Insanity and T25, which now I can't really do at this time due to logistical issues.  Jillian's videos are not really as high-impact, so I have been doing more of them lately.

This DVD consists of two levels of workouts, about half an hour each.  I don't think I've ever tried to do both in one session, though you totally could.  Usually, I will do about 15 minutes of cardio or something to supplement this workout.

I actually think Level 1 is a touch more difficult than Level 2.  In Level 1, you're doing a lot more floor work, which is definitely effective. In Level 2, there are a lot more standing exercises, which seem to engage more areas of the core.  Both levels go through two circuits, and then you do both circuits quickly for a final time.  Less reps, but more speed.  There's the cardio!  Both levels can be done without equipment, though a light handweight can be used to amp up some of the moves.

After a while of not doing this video, my legs/glutes got super sore after doing some lunges in Level 2.  And in both levels, there are definitely moments of panting.  Whew!

While I haven't been doing this workout enough to know if it would flatten your abs, I always feel like I am getting a good workout.  Plus, I feel this is one of the few core videos that 1) work different muscles around the core area without burning the heck out of your hip flexors, and 2) provides some adequate cardio.

The video ends with some stretching, with Jillian rambling about reflecting upon your workout the way you would about other stuff in life.  While it's not bad stuff, you just get tired of hearing it after a few times. =D

Overall, this is one of my favorite go-to Jillian workouts -- just a touch under my desired video length, but perfect in that it's low-impact.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Treadmill Hunt

It's starting to cool down around here (finally!), so I know that my days out (very) early morning running around the neighborhood might be over.  While I've gotten used to running in the dark (unpleasant as is), "The Ukrainian" has clearly stated that he'd rather not run in the rain.  The formerly "hardcore" runner in me wants to ignore him, but for the sake of not slipping or damaging my shoes when I'm too cheap to replace them, I'm now seriously considering a treadmill.

A treadmill is something that I've always eyed, but I couldn't justify spending money on something that I wasn't sure if I'd use, which is a funny thing to say since I've been running (no serious distances) as my primary source of exercise these days.  I used to run on the treadmill a lot, but since I'm gym-less, I am not used to it anymore.  I'm sure I'd use it if it were there, I had some entertainment on, and the weather was bad.  Of course, it would be great to have one around just for walking, though.

I'm just waiting for the right opportunity.  I tried Craigslist but decided that it'd be better to get one from a place who would offer assistance should something break.  This treadmill from Sears is one of my top contenders, but the bargain-hunter in me is hoping I can do better.  Whatever the case, this treadmill will live in the garage, and I will just pop it open each time I use it and hope spiders, praying mantis-es peacocks, or whatnot come to get me.

Any suggestions would be welcome.  Although I've been running 4-5 times a week now (yay!), I'm in no way ready to run any of the big races that are on my sidebar.  There are 15 weeks left until the Carlsbad Marathon... yikes!

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On the life front, workload is ebbing and flowing, thankfully.  When it's crazy, it's crazy, but I have been getting a little more downtime, which is NICE because things had been just consistently crazy for a few months now.  Never before have I procrastinated so much in my life, both at work and on a personal front.  The weekends have been pretty busy lately, but I think we're going to get a couple of much-needed quiet weekends soon, which excites me.  The thought of spending some time in the home we worked so hard to acquire is blissful, especially if the cooler weather holds up, and we can watch movies and make cold-weather grub.  Yum!

Also, about a month from now, "The Ukrainian" and I are going on our big trip, our "second honeymoon" so to speak, mostly to get my "I've never been out of the country" jitters out.  I haven't had a lot of time off of work this year, so needless to say, I am excited to spend some days away from all obligations (and there are many!!).  I'm sure I'll be posting about this more later!