Monday, January 19, 2015

19.3 miles in a galaxy far, far away...

This weekend in January for the last three years has been Disney's Tinker Bell Half Marathon weekend, but for 2015, they decided to move that to May and to have, instead, the first-ever Star Wars Half Marathon weekend. And of course, not only did I HAVE to do it too (I'm not a Star Wars super fan, but I do love the original three movies more than I love Tinker Bell, actually), but I just HAD to sign up for the Rebel Challenge: the 10k and the half marathon on back to back days.

Be crazy I must. I haven't been running a ton since my marathon, mostly due to a really bad sore throat, but I did manage to get in 17 miles last week and 11 miles the week before that (with long runs of 10 and 6 miles, respectively), so I wasn't going into it cold by any means, and I did get in a double-digit run just to get my body up to speed. Of course, a 10-mile long run is great for a half marathon, but for a 19.3 mile weekend (even if it's broken up)? I can't say I wasn't nervous. I wasn't scared about not finishing, but about finishing really slowly or really miserably.

At any rate, I was still excited. I don't have it in me to do cool costumes, but I was looking forward to seeing what other people would wear and also just to run through the parks again, which is one of my favorite things about Disney races. The other thing I was SUPER looking forward to was the medals :) But more on those later.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

A strong start to the new year

Look, it's me! At the gym doing gym stuff!

I've got a couple more weeks before I get back into serious run-training, so I've been able to put forth a little more effort into lifting at the gym. 

Here's me PRing my deadlift at 315:


And here's me maxing out my backsquat at 265 a week later:


My coach thinks I've got some real potential for powerlifting, if I could work on my bench press.

So does this mean that I will soon get to add powerlifter to my athletic resume...? ;)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

14 Great Things about 2014

Photo by Cassie Ngo

In no particular order:
  1. I successfully trained for my third marathon and PRed my time.
  2. I read/watched the entire Harry Potter series.
  3. It was a good year for YAF at the movies (Vampire Academy, Divergent, TFIOS, Mockingjay Part 1).
  4. I completed in my first duathlon.
  5. I entered the wonderful world of Veronica Mars.
  6. I learned a ton about intersectional feminism this year. (This was a HUGE part of my year.)
  7. Jolie ran in her first race in January.
  8. I saw Hank Green live and got to say "Good morning, John! It's Friday!" for a Vlogbrothers video.
  9. I had blonde hair. And then purple hair.
  10. I got another tattoo (my marathon one).
  11. We moved out of our condo into a house and I have a kickass office/craft room/library.
  12. Jolie received a leadership/citizenship award at school.
  13. I became PR/Marketing copy editor for Cracked Slate Productions and we're well on our way to getting started on our first series.
  14. I read/finished 46 books this year and ran 448 miles. Possibly my largest numbers ever for both categories.
Photo highlights!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

So you want to be a runner...

I'm not really one for new year's resolutions (because I find that my goals and wishes change throughout the year anyway), but of course, along with everyone else in the universe, I do want to be in better shape. Not to have a "hot bod" or whatever, but to be more fit, to be a better athlete.

Whatever the motive, it's a pretty popular goal every January, right? I used to devour fitness magazines by the dozen, and this is the time of year where every single media outlet puts in their two cents about getting fit. If I had a dollar for every time I saw the phrase "new year, new you," I could probably buy myself a new treadmill.

These days, there are TONS of fitness options out there, but it seems like, almost universally, when people talk about getting fit, they start to follow it up with "I should start running" or something like that. And while I totally applaud that, I also have to fight really hard to resist the urge to start dishing out caveats, because while running CAN be as easy as "Lace up and go," there are some things you'll want to consider first. Running is beautiful in its simplicity and in the fact that humans in general were meant to run - it's already in us to be able to run, unlike skating or pitching or dribbling, which require a lot of practice and drilling before you build up the muscle memory. If you can walk, then you can run. In that sense, it's a GREAT way to get fit. But it's also extremely common to take the universality of running for granted and get started on the wrong foot, so to speak. So this is why I'm here.

Look, I'm not an elite runner. I'm also not a medical expert. I'm really just... a regular person. In fact, I'm a mother with a demanding full-time job, and I've been an overweight, unathletic book nerd my entire life. (Well, I'm still overweight. I'm still a book nerd too.)

But... I do have, among other things, 3 full marathons and 28 half marathons under my belt. I know a TON about being a slow, fat runner with a really busy life, one who has had to start from zero so many times, unremarkable on paper but remarkably passionate about this sport that I participate in. And I'm here to offer you some tips, in case you're thinking about getting into running (or back into running) for the new year.

(Before I begin though, let me issue the usual "check with your physician" warning. Make sure that you can actually do this. If you have medical issues that running would only exacerbate, then maybe you should consider a different activity.)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Swatches: Smashbox's On the Rocks Photo Op Eye Shadow Luxe Palette

I am SUPER excited to have this, if only because I only had to pay $20 for it instead of $42. But I'm also excited because it's really beautiful and it's overall a really nice palette with tons of shades that I love. It's very sturdy - the pans sit in a plastic insert that actually comes out (as I discovered, to my surprise), so I guess you could put earrings or thin necklaces in it if you wanted to? The top (pictured above) is kind of cushy, and the diamonds are textured and glint rainbow in the light :) It also comes with a little "Get this look" guide.

Here are the names of the shades:

They're printed on a clear plastic insert, which I hate, because I have to remove it every time to use it, but I can't just throw it away either.

As you can see, it's a nice range of colors (earth tones, jewel tones, smoky shades, and some brights thrown in) as well as textures and finishes (matte, shimmer, sparkle, duochrome).

I divided it up into three sections in order to swatch. All swatches were done with my fingers (clean, I promise!) on bare skin.

Earthy tones:

1. Marzipan - matte light beige
2. Totally Nude - matte warm beige
3. Sumatra - matte cool brown
4. Ambient - shimmery orange-bronze
5. Fizz - shimmery champagne pink

6. Midas - shimmery light gold (This one really sucked. I was disappointed.)
7. Cream - shimmery vanilla
8. Sable - matte warm medium brown
9. Zoom - green with a gold shift
10. Roast - dark brown matte with gold sparkles

This is my favorite part of the palette, and not just because of the cute gemstone - I love purples and blues :)

1. Purple mist - metallic blackened purple with a lavender shift
2. Pastel - matte cool pale pink
3. Lilac - metallic blue-based purple
4. Navy - matte navy blue (what it says!)

5. Sapphires - metallic navy
6. Peacock - metallic light turquoise with a gold shift
7. Juniper - slightly shimmery brownish purple
8. Lavender - slightly shimmery lavender (what it says!)

I will probably use this third section the least, not because it's not good, but just because they're the colors I reach for least overall. Usage aside, they are very, very pretty! This section of the palette reminded me MOST of the holidays, especially the last five shades together :)

1. Royal - matte suuuuuper dark eggplant (a little patchy, but fine)
2. Babycakes - shimmery baby peach
3. Snow - matte white (pretty basic)
4. Moonlight - metallic, slightly-glittery white (this one was also a disappointment)
5. Mink - shimmery pale taupey purple (SO pretty, but I wish it was more pigmented)

6. Asteroid - metallic gray 
7. Framboise - metallic, slightly-dark magenta (again, PRETTY, but I wish it was more pigmented)
8. Gypsy - shimmery blackened green (gorgeous!)
9. Smoke - matte dark gray (reminds me of UD's eye pencil of the same name)
10. Cabernet - metallic dark maroon

So, out of the 28 shades, there were only two that I felt were rather unworkable (Midas and Moonlight), but otherwise, the shadows ranged from "pretty good" to "excellent" in terms of texture, blendability, and pigmentation, with the shimmery shades being the most buttery smooth to work with. 

I don't know if I would've considered this palette had it been full price (and had my Ulta coupon not excluded the Naked on the Run palette! *pout*), but I'm really glad I picked it up. It definitely feels luxe, both in terms of eyeshadow quality and in terms of packaging, and I'm looking forward to spending some time getting dolled up for the holidays.


Friday, December 19, 2014

How do you know when you're really a RUNNER?

I'm still basking in the glory of my recent marathon, so this past weekend, as an act of reflection, I went back through all my old blog posts tagged "running." I think it's important to remember your past as it helps shape your future, you know? Sometimes looking back can help you answer questions you have now.

So what did I learn? I learned that I tend to aim high, but I lack the follow-through. I read a lot of sentences that were like, "I didn't train very well" (or at all), or "I didn't do as well as I would've liked," or "I should've done x better." Or "I should've tried harder." I read lots of regret for not pushing myself more. Part of that is me not actually trying hard enough, and part of it is me never thinking anything I do is good enough.

On the other hand, I also read a lot of triumphs and break-throughs, not just in terms of time, but also in terms of mentality - I did stop beating up on myself so much. I started listening to my body more. And especially these past six months, I started focusing more and being more disciplined.

My blog doesn't tell my whole story, and I'm sure my training log could fill in a lot more details, and I looked through my history there too. (I also keep a physical notebook where I just write down the date, the time, and the distance.) It's not surprising that, though I had run more races in 2013 than in 2014 (and ran the same number of races in 2012 as in 2014), I really felt more like a runner this year, especially these last six months, than I ever have before. So what accounted for the difference? What was the change that really made me feel like a runner?

For me, it was not the races themselves, but the all the other runs. I don't have access to the numbers right now, but I can pretty much say that I put in more non-race mileage this year than I have in any other year, even though this was not my first time training for a marathon.

What made me feel like a runner? Running consistently and loving it. I've mentioned many times to friends this year how I've actually grown to LOVE the act of running. Some people only love running once they've stopped running, but I actually feel really happy and childlike when I run. I've been running races for over a decade, but it wasn't until this year that I actually grew to enjoy running and to crave running when I couldn't run. I made running a priority this year because I really, truly learned to embrace it as a passion and really make it a part of my life.

It's not the fact that I've run marathons, and it's definitely not my pace, that makes me a runner. I'm a runner because I run - because I want to run. That's not to say that I never feel tired or that squeezing in a training run during a really busy week doesn't feel like a chore at times - I'm only human after all. But for the most part, I now spend my time wondering not if I'll run, but when, and the idea of skipping a planned run just feels awful to me and I am filled with regret - not out of guilt or self-admonishment, but out of longing. These days, when I can't run (either because I'm busy, or because I'm actually recovering from a run) and I see other runners outside, I actually feel envious!

I'm a runner because I've made running a cherished part of my life. I'm a runner, not because of the races I choose to run, but because I choose to run, period.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Impromptu 5k: The Santa Run

Surprise! Just when I thought I was done racing for 2014, I suddenly felt a burning desire to put on a Santa suit and run a 5k today.

The Santa Run takes place in downtown San Jose, and benefits Christmas in the Park and Downtown ICE (the ice rink). Christmas in the Park has been happening as long as I can remember - there are rides, food, games, animatronic Christmas-themed dioramas, and trees sponsored/decorated by local businesses and groups. (My high school alma mater, which is also in downtown SJ, always had a tree there every year.)

I was itching for a run, and rather than going to my usual trail, I decided to sign up for this 5k, and I brought my daughter and my mother-in-law with me - Jolie's never been to Christmas in the Park, and I figured it was a good time for her to go. (She had a BLAST, by the way.)

So yeah, this is the first time I've ever decided to do a race last minute. I registered on Saturday at packet pick-up, received my race shirt, bib, and Santa costume (complete with pants, jacket, belt, beard, and hat), and was ready to go for the next day.

Let me just say that I am rarely ever up for costuming when I run. I like to be as comfortable as possible, and I don't tend to deviate from my usual running uniform. I've run in a tutu once and hated it. I also never run in a jacket. What possessed me to decide to run in a Santa outfit, I have no idea - I was feeling the holiday spirit, I guess.

It's funny, I couldn't even get the pants to fit. They were cut REALLY oddly, with a very high rise and slim pant legs that would not fit over my athletic thighs, and the entire suit was made of FELT, so there was no stretch. I decided I would wear my normal running outfit but wear the Santa jacket on top of it and also the hat. Also, hell no was I going to run in the beard, although I did try it on just for giggles:

This was also my first time doing an afternoon race - 3pm? Who DOES that? But I figured that, since it was just a 5k, it wouldn't throw me off my game too much. I run that much on my weekday training runs.

So the three of us trekked downtown, and Jolie and my MIL hung out at the park while I went to run my race. There were lots and LOTS of people in Santa attire, and it was a very loose, relaxed atmosphere. I felt kinda dumb GUing before the race, but hey, a fun run is still a run, and runs require fuel.

I didn't have any specific goals aside from coming in under 39:00. (Okay, I guess that IS a specific goal.) I wanted to see if I could run the entire thing straight, since I've spent the last five months running intervals, and I consider it a good test of my own fitness to see how far I can run without stopping.

I made my first mile in about 11:30 (non-stop), and kept going another couple of minutes until I had to stop because I suddenly got a sharp pain in my calf. I tried to walk it off as best I could, and while I was walking, I took the opportunity to re-pin my bib to my shirt and then remove my Santa jacket because I was sweating buckets thanks to the fact that it was 1) long-sleeved and 2) made of FELT, for chrissakes. Yeah, I am never running in a Santa suit ever again. Apparently other people felt the same way, because I saw lots of jackets stuffed into the public trash bins along the sidewalk.

My calf pain abated enough for me to start running again, but it never completely disappeared, so I did take way more walk breaks than I wanted to. To be honest, my calf still hurts right now, a few hours later. (I do not want to hear your "I told you so," okay?) But I made a pretty respectable time - 37:13, which is not a PR, but it's the best time I've run since my PR two years ago. Actually, I didn't run any 5k's at all in 2013, but the two I ran earlier this year were about 43-44 minutes each, so... yeah, a season best? Given all the walking I had to do and how I've only run one mile this entire week (post-marathon), a 12:00 overall pace is pretty awesome. In fact, this was my second fastest 5k time EVER in the history of my running.

Because I am now in my "off-season," I'm only running three days a week, so I've got a couple days to rest up before I run again. So yes, I will listen to my body and take care of my calf now, okay? (It wasn't hurting the entire week before today, I swear.) I'm not sorry I ran this race, but I probably could've picked a better time to try non-stop running. Mea culpa.

Luckily, I had two sweet things waiting for me post-race:

This picture was actually taken pre-race, but whatevs
Okay, NOW, for realsies, I swear... my next race will be the Star Wars Rebel Challenge at Disneyland.