Tuesday, January 15, 2019

In Which SF Road Warrior Lives Up to Her Name

So, hey! It's 2019 & the holidays are over & there's some kind of 10K on February 3??? Time to start doing some running, I guess!

Happy Mexican New Year from me & my hunky boyfriend!

Happy New Year from Don & his massive biceps!

Although, I'm not gonna lie, I'd planned to start last week when we got back from Mexico, but that plan sort of fell through. How so? Let me count the ways.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Taking Suggestions for 2019's Classic Reads

It's that time of year again!

Each year since 2014, I've chosen a classic book to read each month, where "classic" is pretty loosely defined. A book doesn't necessarily have to be super old, it just has to have been around long enough that it's stood some test of time to some degree and it's clear that something about it has contiuned to resonate with people. I also try to choose books from a diverse group of authors, as opposed to the standard cannon of old white men. I try to include books from a good number of women and people of color (at the very least I like to read a Black author in February, an Asian author in May, and a Latino author in November). I try to include books from genres beyond the standard literary fiction (ie a sci fi or fantasy classic), and I also like to read at least one banned book per year.

Of course there is no shortage of classic books in the world, but it does get a bit more challenging once you're trying to limit Old White Dudes and/or The English (all apologies to the English, it's just that you've created SO MUCH amazing literature!). So each year it's always nice to poll the throngs of brilliant readers to see what other works of genius you've run across. (For some reason, runners & bookworms seem to hugely overlap & I've gotten TONS of excellent recommendations from fellow bloggers in the past.)

If you're curious, here's what I've read in past years:

The Classics: 2014

The Classics: 2015

The Classics: 2016

The Classics: 2017

The Classics: 2018

(I'm a lot smarter now than I used to be.)

So what do you think? Any classics (for a very loose definition of classics) that you'd recommend for someone who's looking for a diverse selection of authors?

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Year of No Shopping: What I Learned

A little over a year ago I decided that 2018 would be The Year of No Shopping. The decision was inspired by a NY Times article by Anne Patchett, who did the same thing in 2017, inspired partly by a friend who'd done it years ago and partly by the gross, crazy-making-ness of our current world.

    "After traveling for much of the previous year, she had decided she had enough stuff, or too much stuff. She made a pledge that for 12 months she wouldn’t buy shoes, clothes, purses or jewelry.


    At the end of 2016, our country had swung in the direction of gold leaf, an ecstatic celebration of unfeeling billionaire-dom that kept me up at night. I couldn’t settle down to read or write, and in my anxiety I found myself mindlessly scrolling through two particular shopping websites, numbing my fears with pictures of shoes, clothes, purses and jewelry. I was trying to distract myself, but the distraction left me feeling worse, the way a late night in a bar smoking Winstons and drinking gin leaves you feeling worse. The unspoken question of shopping is 'What do I need?' What I needed was less."

Now, the idea wasn't to completely 100% stop purchasing any and all things; it was more about breaking a few particularly bad habits. For me, the pathology wasn't purses and jewelry but clothes and shoes were definitely in the mix, and I also found myself purchasing wine, new books, & gadgets at a rate that was influenced less by what I actually needed and more by anxiety, shiny thing syndrome, and craaaaaazy deals. Like, I wasn't trying to become a monk or some kind of extreme minimaist living in a plain white room with two chairs, ten books, and a bowl, but I was starting to become super weighed down by all the STUFF in my life that felt like it wasn't necessarily earning its psychological keep.

So the rules were:

Monday, January 7, 2019

Race Report: Silicon Valley Santa Run

Woohoo, last race report of 2018!!!

To recap the context: The plan this fall was to run a bunch of miles, race a bunch of short stuff under 10K, & get wicked fast. Alas life has not quite work out as I'd planned & there have been more than a few super frustrating weeks lately.

But, the nice thing about 5Ks is that there's not a ton of pressure at any given race. Unlike longer distances, finishing is trivial, and if you have a shitty 5K one week (or get sick, or life gets in the way) you can take another crack at it a week or two later. So this fall I'd signed up for three, one per month in each of October, November, & December.

Prior to OktobeRun in Redwood City, my physical niggles were at their worst so I was surprised to run 22:23, my slowest ever 5K race, sure, but not by all that much! I'd been worried my body wouldn't even let me break 8:00's, so even managing to run 10K pace kind of felt like a victory. After that I'd thought, "Cool, good to have a stake in the ground. I can build on this. Four weeks until Oakland Turkey Trot, plenty of time to get some solid training in & shave a few seconds off!"

But then life happened, I got sick, spent most of November traveling, California caught on fire, etc. etc. and I only managed to get a few workouts in during that time. Yet, somehow, I showed up in Oakland and ran 21:46. Again, it's not that this was a *great* time in the grand scheme of my historical 5K performances (in fact I think it's kind of right in the middle), but given everything and the fact that I really had not trained AT ALL since OktobeRun, a 0:37 improvement in such a short timespan just seemed completely insane. But hey, I'll take it! And once again, my thoughts were, "Hey, 3.5 weeks until Santa Run, I am DEFINITELY DEFINITELY going to get some solid training in and shave just a few more seconds off this distance in 2018!"

Friday, January 4, 2019

Books 2018: Quarter 4

As you probably already know, I've been reading a classic a month for the last few years. It started as a one-year project in 2014, but I've enjoyed it enough to keep going with it & will probably continue until it starts to feel like a chore.

You can find my past reviews by clicking on the "books" tag at the end of this post, or be my friend on Goodreads. (You can also just go to the site & hunt down my review feed without being my friend. Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings.)

ICYMI, the classics I selected to read in 2018 are here.

On to the reviews! (Settle in, it's not a short one)

Saturday, December 22, 2018

2019 Races: January through April

Friends, can you believe the calendar's about to flip again?? What the heck?

I am wrapping up work stuff & packing today & tonight, & then tomorrow we jet off to Eastern Washington to spend Christmas week with Don's parents. Then it's back home for one day, & on to another plane for Mexico for New Year's week to celebrate a good friend's 40th. (Did you know Ensenada is Mexico's wine country? Did you know Mexico HAD wine country?? Me either! #TIL. I'm so pumped.)

I am waiting on race pictures to post my last race report of the year (Silicon Valley Sant Run 5K), so in the meantime, please enjoy some musings about what I might do race-wise in the first half (or so) of 2019.

When I started running again last August post-Boston, I was feeling unmotivated & in need of another big-hairy-audacious goal to chase. Eventually I settled on the Wharf-to-Wharf six-miler at the end of July and finishing in the top 100. Seven months is really too long to be one training cycle, though (at least for me), so my plan is to split January through July into two 3-3.5 month chunks with a little break in the middle, which I've started referring to as "Season 1" & "Season 2".

I think I want to run maybe 3-4 races in each season (all in the 5-10K range), with a target race at the end of each. For season 2 obviously my 'A' race will be Wharf to Wharf, and for season 1 I'm leaning toward Stow Lake Stampede 5K in Golden Gate Park. I've nailed down a few things but still need to fill some slots.

What do YOU think I should run? Here are the candidates:

Friday, December 14, 2018

I Bought A Car!

Heads Up: This is not about running. It's about the very very annoying and frustrating process of buying a car. Mainly I felt like I wanted to document the process and also thought maybe some of the info would help someone out in the future, so, enjoy! Or don't! I'll get back to run-blogging soon enough, promise. :)

Let us journey back in time to spring 2005: Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson on our first-generation iPods, pseudo-useless internet on our dumb phones, and "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" playing on endless repeat on the radio. We watched How I Met Your Mother and Bones on the actual TV at the actual times they aired; The 40-Year Old Virgin made us laugh, Brokeback Mountain made us cry, and Elektra made us question Jennifer Garner's judgment in hairstyles (just say no to the bangs, Jen).

I had also just finished grad school and secured my first grown-up job making real grown-up money (sort of), and the first thing I did once I got that offer letter was ride my bike to the local Honda dealership to buy a 2005 Civic Hybrid. I'd hoped to buy a used one but hybrids were still pretty new then and I couldn't find one near me, so I ended up buying a new one. I had a lot of environmental guilt and since driving daily was not going to be optional, that 43-48 mpg seemed like a solid way to do make at least some kind of effort.

Here is how buying that car went down:

    Car salesman: Hello, how can we help you?
    Me: I would like to buy a Civic Hybrid.
    Car salesman: Excellent choice! That will be $xx,xxx.
    Me: GREAT where do I sign.
    Car salesman: *blinkblink* Oh...Ohkay then!

I even paid for the extra warranty and the car alarm because, well, those things sounded important and I was young and dumb and knew nothing about buying cars. Palo Alto Honda dealership, you are welcome.