Monday, October 20, 2014

What I am, and what I'm not

I'm never going to be That Girl.

Which girl?

Many girls. I'm never going to be any of them.

I'm never going to be someone whose entire life revolves around motherhood. I love my daughter, and I love being a mother, but I'm never going to be That Mom.

Nor am I ever going to be That Wife. Or any wife, for that matter. I have no inclination to get married, and I will not take my husband's last name if I do. I am no one's arm candy.

I'm never going to be That Cute Girl. Small, adorable, and loved by all. I'm large and surly. I don't know how to respond sometimes. My introvertedness shuts down conversations like a health inspector shuts down rat-infested restaurants.

I'm never going to be That Hot Chick. I haven't the faintest clue how to be sexy, and I'm not sure I'd be comfortable attracting that kind of attention. I don't actually like strangers looking at me. I'd rather be cute than hot, and I'm not any good at being cute.

I'm never going to be That Cool Girl either. I'm a mess. My calm face belies the turbulence that boils beneath, and though I may smile and nod at you for now, you can be assured that I will go home and postmortem our conversation with my best friend down to the minutest detail.

I'm not any of those Girls.

What I am:
never quick to pick on sarcasm because 99% of the time I'm very serious and sincere
uncomfortable not in my own skin, but in the masks I have to wear
constantly searching for kindred spirits
someone who internalizes everything and self-blames
someone who wants "to love, and to love, and to love, and to love"
more apt to wish good things for everyone else than for herself

I can never be That Girl.

I just... AM. I exist.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Race Recap: Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half Marathon

My brain is feeling pretty fried right now, but the recap must be written!

I've never done an RnR race before, but I've known about the series for a long time and have had a couple missed opportunities, so I was determined to run it this year, and it was a lovely coincidence that this race happened to fall on the weekend that I was supposed to do a 14-mile training run. I figured, I could run the slightly-shorter distance but increase the pace a wee bit.

The good: My legs felt great. Well, my calves were a little tight for the first couple of miles, which doesn't usually happen on my training runs, but it wasn't enough to be really painful or cause any alarm. I ran it out and started finding my stride after that.

My legs never got tired. I know that sounds insane, but my legs felt strong the ENTIRE race. Usually they start to feel like brick by mile 9 or 10 and I have to do a sort of shuffle-limp through my run portions (or stop running entirely), which was what happened at Santa Rosa, by the way. Funny what consistent training can do, right? ;)

The bad: The heat was excruciating. I have been doing my weekday runs on my treadmill in my hot garage, so it wasn't as bad as it COULD have been, but it was still pretty bad - there were so many portions of the course that were run facing the sun, and by mile 9 or 10, my head was throbbing painfully and I was really dizzy - like, scary dizzy. I've never been a big fan of running in the heat, and even though I'm in much better shape for it than I have been in the past, this was still just unbearable. It was a strange paradox for me, to know that my legs were still holding strong at mile 12, but I couldn't let myself stick to my intervals because I was seriously afraid of passing out.

Luckily, though, the race people handled it really well. There was LOTS of water available at the aid stations, and at one point they also handed out icy-cold sponges, which I was so grateful for - I had taken to pouring water on my head to cool off (not wasting it - it was the remainder of the water in the cup that I didn't drink), but I would warm up again so quickly that it was hard for me to make all my run intervals. There were also volunteers armed with hoses to spray us down, and for most of the race, I resisted it because I didn't want to run in wet clothing (hello, chafing), but I finally gave in to temptation at the last water station, and the huge blast of unexpectedly-cold water (so cold, I gasped) ended up cooling me down enough to make the rest of my run intervals until the end. (That's how I know my legs were fine - because once I was able to really cool down, I felt GREAT.)

So yeah. Despite the heat, I actually made my goal time, which was "anything under 3:00," and low and behold, I finished in 2:57:56. Still not a PR, but a "season best," as we used to say in swimming. I haven't gone under 3:00 since the last time I PRed in May 2013, actually, so this is a huge accomplishment for me, and I'm very proud of it (although I will assert that if the temperatures had been more to my liking, I could've shaved off some more time). By the way, my 5k split was 7 seconds faster than the 5k I ran in May (and that was WITH a long-ish line at the porta-potties).

This bodes well. I am just about halfway through marathon training right now, and as long as I keep putting in the work, I should be all set for CIM.

Major shout-outs to my current and former co-workers who ran this one with me, some of them running this distance for the first time :)

Next race: Mermaid San Francisco Sirena 10-miler. I just realized that I don't have another half marathon until January. Which makes me kinda sad, actually.

Okay, now for some pictures.

Participant shirt
Shirt I bought at the expo that I ran in (I know, we're not supposed to do that, but YOLO)
Thanks for the tote bag, RnR!
Pre-race selfie. You can't really see it, but I'm wearing silver eye shadow because ROCK N ROLL
This medal is kinda cool, yo. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

All running, all the time

Running has taken over my life.

I'm halfway through my training program for marathon #3, the California International Marathon, and am running the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Half this weekend.

I've been feeling really positive about my progress. Things I'm doing differently: being CONSISTENT. I know that no one is perfect, but it's no secret that I lacked discipline and consistency the first two marathons, and of course, this is a gamechanger.

Consistency is key, not just in running, but in every aspect of my life. I'm being literal when I say that running has taken over my life, because every aspect of how I live has changed to help me be a better runner. Everything in health, fitness, and athletic performance is interrelated: as they say, you can't out-run a bad diet. But it's not just exercise and diet either, it's also how much you sleep, how well you hydrate, how stressed out you are.

In order to perform well at the marathon, I have to make all my training runs, especially my long runs.

To do well on my long runs, I have to do all my weekday runs. (Truly, this was always where I fell apart.)

To do all my weekday runs, I have to get up at 4:30am to run before work.

To be able to get up that early on a consistent basis, I have to go to bed really early.

To be able to go to bed really early, I have to make sure that I eat properly (things that don't upset my body) and at the proper time (not right before bedtime, if I can help it).

So I have to plan my day so that I can do all these things, and of course, hydrate constantly.

These ARE a lot of major changes for me, and I'm finding that... I don't really mind. I know there's a lot to be said in favor of small changes, things you can incorporate into your existing routine and are therefore more sustainable, but you know what? I have come to the conclusion that my existing routine was kinda crappy. I NEEDED to change, because if I were to continue doing what I was doing (sleeping 4-5 hours a night, eating stuff that my body didn't like, exercising inconsistently and then going all out and getting hurt), then I will continue experiencing what I was experiencing: constant illness, exhaustion, and depression.

I feel awesome lately. I feel strong, confident, and energized. And most of all, I feel proud and accomplished. I'm fighting my demons one day at a time, and for now, I think I'm winning.

I've sold my soul to the running gods, and I'm not sorry.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Summer reading blitz wrap-up

I know, I've been back to school for four weeks now, but hopefully that explains why I've taken so long to post another blog about reading, even though I have posted blogs about other stuff. Since my last reading post, I've read 8 books: Veronica Roth's Four: A Divergent Collection and the entire Harry Potter series, which I finally finished two days ago. I didn't want to do a final wrap-up post until I was all the way through the last book of the series, even though my summer break has long been over.

Spoiler warning, just in case.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Initial thoughts: Younique's Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes mascara

I am somewhat of a mascara junkie, and when I first heard about Younique's Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lashes mascara from my friend Jeannie a few months ago, I knew I had to try it. But Younique's products are only available through a representative, and I didn't know any... until now. Muahahahaha.

So, as you can see from the photo, you get two tubes in a case that is approximately sunglasses-sized. One tube (the longer one) is the Transplanting Gel. It looks like run-of-the-mill black mascara and smells a little bit like paint, but only if you hold it up to your nose to smell it (which I totally did. What? Everyone should totally smell their mascara.) I can't smell it when it's on my lashes, which I can't say about other mascaras (ick).

The shorter tube consists of Natural Fibers. It looks like itty bitty pieces of black cotton. (It's not cotton, btw - they're green tea fibers. Not that I know what green tea fibers actually are.)

I'm no stranger to to fiber mascaras, though the only other ones I've seen used white fibers. Black fibers make a whole lot more sense to me.

The instructions are as follows:
1) Apply "one thin coat" of normal mascara. Whichever kind you like. Let it dry.
2) Apply an even coat of the Transplanting Gel.
3) Apply Natural Fibers immediately.
4) Seal with another coat of Transplanting Gel.
(Repeat 3 and 4 ad infinitum, until you achieve your desired amount of lashiness.)

Yesterday, when I received this in the mail, I was already wearing two coats of UD Perversion mascara. I decided to test it out anyway:

The top is the UD mascara alone, and as you can see, it's not too shabby. The bottom photo is with one complete application of the 3D Fiber Lash, and you can see how I've got more length and volume. On the whole, I would say that UD Perversion makes a pretty decent base layer, because my lashes don't clump much when I use it.

This morning I tried it with my beloved L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly in Midnight Black, and took lots of photos. I wanted to compare the 3D Fiber Lash to another mascara because anything next to naked lashes will look different.

This is my normal mascara look, by the way - this is one coat of Voluminous Butterfly. I'm also wearing a pencil eyeliner this time instead of my liquid liner.

3D Fiber Lash vs. L'Oreal Voluminous Butterfly
In this series, I applied the 3D Fiber lash on my right eye (which is on the left side in the photo), while leaving the other eye for comparison. The top two photos are with one application, and the bottom photo has two applications.

In the middle photo, it's a subtle difference, but it's there. I'd be curious to see how two coats of Voluminous Butterfly would compare (but not curious enough to walk around the rest of the day with uneven eye makeup). There's a very obvious difference in lash volume in the bottom photo.

So here are both my eyes with two full applications of 3D Fiber Lash (on top of Voluminous Butterfly). It definitely did start to clump, and I had to drag a lash comb through it, but that kinda just happens when you're dealing with that many layers of fibers. I do tend to get more clumping with my L'Oreal than with my UD, so I'll investigate tomorrow.

But seriously though, you can see a marked difference. These are the L'Oreal-only (before) and the final two-coats (after) photos side by side.

I have to play around some more with my application technique (because I was applying and taking pictures really quickly with my daughter vying for my attention), but overall, I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the results. It didn't take me much longer than normal to apply the extra layers.

It's on the pricey side for $29 - I understand that it's two tubes and comes in a fancy case, but if you're not someone who adores mascara and prioritizes it in your makeup routine line I do, then I can totally understand some sticker shock. This is definitely the most expensive mascara I've ever purchased, but as someone who has searched far and wide for a dramatic lash look (that doesn't involve applying falsies), I'd definitely say the results and the ease of application make it worth the price.

Special thanks to Jeannie, PT, Tristin, and Gabriela for putting Younique on my radar.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Race recap: Santa Rosa Half Marathon

Kind of a crazy day!

As the rest of the internet can attest, there was a 6.0 earthquake at 3:20 in the morning, and its epicenter was in Napa, which wasn't too far from where my coworkers and I were in Santa Rosa, so we really felt it. My hotel bed was shaking like in The Exorcist.

I was already having trouble sleeping (I don't really sleep well in hotels, especially before races), and I was pretty much wide awake after the earthquake, managing to ALMOST doze off before my alarm finally went off at 4:50am.

A group of us former and current MHS teachers signed up to run this together, and for various reasons (including the earthquake!) there ended up being only four of us at the start line. It's my first race since the SJR Half in June and my first race since getting seriously back into fitness (running and Crossfit) and losing a little weight (which matters only in that it means I can run faster), so I had high hopes that I would do pretty well on this one. Technically, I was only supposed to run eight miles today (training for CIM), but I cut out a weekday run to balance out the mileage, and told myself that I just had to hang in there for eight miles and then I could ease up.

I felt really strong! My overall pace, which includes the walk breaks, was actually sub-13:00 for the first half, which is even faster than my weekday runs (although, I do those on the treadmill, and I just kind of pick the same run speed every time, for simplicity). I only just started doing 3/1 intervals this week just to see if I could (I could!), so the longest I've run at that interval has been three miles (since my last long run was done at 3/2). I felt powerful and happy, and I really enjoyed those first nine miles thanks to that and to the beautiful scenery of the race course. (The sky was overcast the entire time, pretty much, which was nice.)

Of course, that didn't last forever. I managed to maintain my interval for NINE miles, and I think I could've gone further if my head hadn't started to hurt and if my right leg (calf and butt) hadn't started cramping/seizing up. It wasn't that I was tired (which was nuts, considering how I woke up before 3:30), but that my body was acting up a bit, so I eked out some sort of 1/1 or 1:30/1 interval for most of the rest of the way. (And THEN I got tired, especially for the last two miles.)

I still managed to run the last quarter mile (spurred on by some Resurrection Roller Girls, who came out to cheer!) and finished in 3:05:41 (official), which is not fast and not my best time, but is my best time since June 2013, so I'm still really happy about it because I feel like I'm back on track with my running.

Next up: October, San Jose Rock 'n' Roll. I'm DOING it this time. (Last year I missed it due to my knee injury.)

Beautiful bibs this year. The full marathon bib had the winery on it.

They didn't have the jackets ready for the expo, so they gave everyone long-sleeved techy shirts, and then happened to be able to hand out jackets post-race. They were sweatshirt hoodies this time instead of windbreaker jackets like last year: