Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Hi, hello, I am not dead yet

Hi friends,

I figured I should pop in, however briefly, to assure you all that I a) am not dead and b) have not lost all interest in running. Mostly I've been traveling way, way too much these last few weeks & just generally ultra busy with work and family stuff. I've been getting a run in here & there when & where I can, but it's nothing to write home about, really. (Logging runs publicly has fallen completely by the wayside.) My weekly mileage has been as high as 40 miles and as low as zero, just depending on my travel schedule and what else is going on.

On Monday Mar. 27 I flew to Orange County for work, then flew back two days later on Wednesday night, madly threw in a load of laundry, & started packing three different bags for three wildly different locations. (I'd started on Sunday but there was some stuff I couldn't do until after laundry on Wednesday.)

Orange County does not lack for sidewalks :)

...though some are nicer than others. :-/

Three different climates, three different sets of gear & clothes.

Thursday morning we drove up to Tahoe for a long weekend of skiing, which believe it or not has been on the calendar for a couple of years; Don's parents have a timeshare there that they knew they wouldn't be able to use this year so we'd agreed to take it years ago. (Twist our arms, I know.)

Things started old cold-ish & gradually warmed up

By the last day he was sweating in a T-shirt.

One of the days I got a snowy(-ish) trail run in

Trail shoes were the right call.

Then Sunday evening we drove back to SF, where I had about an hour to unload the dirty clothes & switch out the ski bag for the work suitcase before Don drove me to the airport to get on a 12:30am flight to San Antonio for a conference where I was presenting the next morning. (Herewith kicks off several weeks of less-than-stellar sleep.)

Going on two hours of sleep, *maybe*

Fancy talk-giving math ladies! #obligatory

My boss & co-speaker at the Alamo. Never forget!

Don't miss the Riverwalk if you're in San Antonio. It's a bit touristy in places but other parts are super pretty & peaceful. (Narrow with lots of stairs & pedestrians, though, so I would not recommend for running.)

The view from dinner one evening

Friday afternoon I hopped a plane from San Antonio back to SF; this time there wasn't even time to go home, & Don just picked me up at the airport with yet another bag for our drive down to Paso Robles for some wine pickup events.

I took no vineyard pictures so please enjoy this one from last fall.

Wine pickup!

(Yes, I know you're feeling REALLY sorry for me right now. One endures, somehow.) It was a fun weekend as always, but we got home later than we planned on Sunday night & pretty much came home & crashed.

Then three lovely days at home! By which I mean, three lovely days of both of us suffering from mild food poisoning (the cause of which remains mysterious). YAY. :-/ Then Thursday morning it was back to the airport for a flight to Dallas, where we were celebrating his Grandad's 100th birthday (genuine YAY!). This was also a fun weekend, and I even got a couple of (verrrry humid) runs in with Don's dad & cousin, but I also never really adjusted to the time change and didn't sleep great for most of the trip.

There IS some nice running in Dallas, including a lovely trail that runs around White Rock Lake.

Now I'm back for an entire, blessed week (!) before I have to get back on a plane to LA next Monday. (Though, thankfully for only two days.) Ten days after that it's off to the Big Island for a genuine, real life vacation (WOOHOO!!), & ten days after THAT (and you will not believe this) it's back onto ANOTHER plane to Hawaii for a week, Oahu this time, for work. Then I'm finally home for two solid weeks, then a week in SoCal for work, and SWEET JESUS after that I actually think I'm not getting on a plane again (as far as I know) until September.

So maybe you can see how getting anything consistent going running-wise has been, if not impossible, at least beyond my meager capabilities.

The good news is that, although my travel schedule is not necessarily cooperating with the idea of starting to actual for-real train for a thing again, my motivation is starting to come back. I actually started getting excited about running a 5K or two in June and hitting the pavement hot & heavy this summer in hopes of rocking my goal half (Rock N Roll San Jose) in October. At this point I'm actually feeling not-terrible about committing to 6-10 easy miles most days & something in the 10-15 range on weekends when possible, and I'd also like to start adding in things like clamshells and lunges and single-leg squats and planks and other ab things here and there, even if it's only 10 minutes a day or a half hour a few times a week for now.

Odds are I haven't seen your blog in weeks, sooooo what's up with you?

Monday, April 3, 2017

More Race Discounts!

You guys, I can barely keep up! D:

The Giant Race, August 7, San Francisco, CA. Save $10 on all adult distances (half/10K/5K) until midnight Tuesday or 1000 registrations sold with code OPENINGDAY17TGR

Santa Rosa Marathon (+Half/10K/5K), August 26 & 27, Santa Rosa, CA. Save $15 with code NEWYEAR until April 6

Rock Tahoe Half Marathon, June 17, Lake Tahoe, CA. Save $15 with code WEROCKTAHOE until April 9


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Books 2017: Quarter 1

No, it's not about running, but heeeyyyy I finally wrote a real post!! You're welcome.

As you probably already know, I've been reading a classic a month for the last two 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, if that's more your speed.)

ICYMI, the classics I selected to read in 2017 are here.

On to the reviews!


January: The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman (1974, 278 pages). 4 stars. Towards the end of the 20th century, humans are engaged in an interstellar battle with a mysterious alien race known as the Taurans; the book follows the military career of Private William Mandella, who enlists to help fight the mysterious enemy. Both races have light speed travel, though, which makes the logistics of planning and fighting a war extremely interesting if you think all of it through to its logical conclusion. For example, Mandella and his fellows may travel weeks to fight a particular conflict, only to find when they arrive that many years have passed and not only are their knowledge, skills, and equipment potentially outdated and useless, but the very situation itself may have changed as well. As a result, Mandella's years fighting Taurans in space equate to centuries passing back on Earth. I'm not usually much of a hard sci fi fan, but I really enjoyed how well thought out the story was, particularly the issues around light speed travel. It was also decently well written. Some spots felt a bit dated 43 years later, but it actually surprised me how much of it didn't. Worth reading.

February: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt (1994, 386 pages). 4 stars. This book was worth a read for the sheer entertainment value. It's less of a story and more of a brilliant, hilarious--and mostly true, as I understand it--character portrait of a collection of Savannah residents between roughly the mid-70's and mid-80s. In it we meet an eccentric lawyer, a glamorous drag queen, a voodoo witch, a dodgy socialite-cum-antique dealer, & many others. At the heart of the book lies the mystery of what really happened to Danny Hansford, a young man with a rough reputation who ends up with a bullet in his chest. Definitely one of the most unique books I've ever read, and extremely entertaining. I'm not usually much for character studies but I enjoyed this one & I can see why it's become a classic.

March: The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold (2002, 328 pages). 4 stars. I'm not really sure what took me so long to read this, but it was an enjoyable and lovely read, in spite of the fact that it begins with a (somewhat graphic) depiction of the rape and murder of a fourteen-year-old girl. The story is told from the perspective of the dead girl, watching her friends and family from her own personal heaven as their lives go on and they attempt to deal with her death, each other, and everything else. Sweet, heartbreaking, and beautifully written.


It has not been a terrible quarter for good reads. Also, as I reread this, it's clearly the quarter of "Mmmmm that's all I can say without getting into spoilers," so if you like those sorts of books, oh man. Go to town.

Universal Harvester, by John Darnielle. (2017, 214 pages) 5 stars. In a rural town in Iowa, circa 2000, a woman returns a video to the clerk at Video Hut. "There's something on this one," she tells him uneasily. "You might want to take a look at it." So he does. And finds some bizarre, mildly disturbing footage spliced into the middle of the film. A few other videos with similar scenes show up as well. The clerk informs the store manager, who starts looking into it. And that is just about all I can tell you without spoilers, and I would highly recommend that if you're going to read this one, you avoid learning anything else about the story. (And no, it's not like The Ring.) At barely over 200 pages, it's a short read, but the writing itself is utterly masterful, wringing out every last drop of meaning from every sentence, without a wasted word anywhere; taking my time over the poetry of the writing was as much a treat as the story itself. That said, it's definitely not for everyone. Some people will finish it & go "I don't get it," & others will outright hate it. But if you like cerebral, hazy, edge-of-your seat, what-is-going-on fiction in the vein of Paul Aster, Haruki Murakami, and David Mitchell, it might be for you.

Underground Airlines, by Ben H. Winters. (2016, 327) 5 stars. The premise of Underground Airlines asks, What if instead of becoming our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated soon after his election? As the story opens in the early 21st century, we learn that four states known as the "Hard Four" still have legal slavery, and we get a vision of what legalized Black slavery could have looked like in the modern age. The protagonist was born a slave on a livestock farm but is now a free man--a free man who works for the US Marshals as a bounty hunter, using his considerable talents to locate "Persons Bound" (or P.B.s) who attempt to escape slavery via the Underground Airlines, because {reasons which are spoiler-ey}. But something about his current case feels off, and suddenly our protagonist is in deeper than he bargained for. This was just an amazing, brilliant book on so many levels. The writing is excellent, the characters rich and three-dimensional, the logical conclusions of the Crittenden Compromise so deftly and methodically thought out. Yes, it is dark and horrifying on a number of levels, but I raced through it anyway, unable to put it down. Highly, highly recommend as long as you're not going through a beach read/escapism kind of phase at the moment (because it is definitely, definitely not that).

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander. (2010, 290 pages) 5 stars. And hey! As long as you're eschewing beach reads in favor of socially conscious reads, you might as well move right along to The New Jim Crow, which is just as dark and disturbing, except real. Personally, I put this one up there with "books you should have to read in order to stay a citizen of this country." This is one of those subjects where I knew a lot of the facts (though certainly not all), but having someone place all those facts in a historical and sociological context and spell it all out for you is utterly horrifying. If you're one of those people who thinks racism is over, or that "sure, we still have racism, but it's WAY better than it used to be," this book is probably for you. Do your civic duty & read it (or listen to the audio book like I did).

The Last Days of Jack Sparks, by Jason Arnopp. (2016, 336 pages) 5 stars. Guys, you're going to love this one or hate it. Basically this book is like if David Mitchell and Paul Tremblay had a creepy and amazing book baby. The book is presented as the last work of (kinda-sorta) journalist and (kinda-sorta) author Jack Sparks before his mysterious and troubling death at the age of 36, with a foreword, epilogue, and annotations by his (skeptical and defensive) older brother. After writing several stunt books like Jack Sparks on Drugs and Jack Sparks on Gangs, he'd begun working on Jack Sparks on the Supernatural, openly approaching the subject as a non-believer. (Indeed, the book opens with our narrator basically chortling his way through an exorcism in rural Italy.) And then...Things get weird. Like. Really, really weird. But in the way I find chilling and entertaining and creepy but also *incredibly* clever and imaginative and well-written. But like I said, it will definitely NOT be to everyone's taste, particularly if you have issues around the religious/supernatural/paranormal. (But if you do enjoy it, may I humbly recommend Paul Tremblay and Grady Hendrix.)

Use of Weapons (Culture #3), by Iain M. Banks. (1990, 411 pages) 4 stars. The Culture are looking for a particular man to stabilize a dangerous political situation, and that man has as his price the location of a particular woman. While extraordinarily gifted in some ways, he's also much, much older than he seems, and much more broken, with a back story that's anything but straightforward. In the universe of Culture novels, for me this one fell in between Consider Phlebas and The Player of Games. Brilliant writing and character development as always, a bit more abstract and less strictly plot-driven than PoG, but not quite as bleak and WTF as CP. The structure was cool (though I didn't notice exactly how it was laid out until more than halfway through, and that would have clarified some things), and I absolutely 100% did not see the "big reveal" coming until, like, less than a page before. Not giving up on the Culture yet!

The Girl Before, by JP Delaney. (2017, 320 pages) 4 stars. My quest to read all psychological thrillers with the word 'Girl' in the title continues. This book follows the story of two women, woven together chapter-by-chapter although the events of each woman's story occurred a year apart. Both are similar in age and appearance, and both have suffered a personal trauma, and as a result both have moved into the shockingly minimalist, smart-house architectural wonder at One Folgate Street. In both cases, the women are only able to afford the house because the sober, austere architect rents it cheaply to those who are willing to open it to the public occasionally and live by its 200+ draconian rules ("No personal effects," "Wash, dry, & put away dishes immediately after using," "Wipe the shower dry immediately after every use," "No pets/children," etc.). Erie similarities emerge as both women find themselves enmeshed in trying to make sense of what is happening and who they can trust. The use of symmetry is interesting, and I have to admit that I did not see the vast majority of the twists and turns coming. The end felt a bit sappy, but it was still an entertaining and well written read. (And yes, if you liked Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, All the Missing Girls, etc., you'll probably enjoy this one as well.)

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky, by Heidi W. Durrow. (2016, 264 pages) 4 stars. (While we're on the subject of girls.) Not exactly my usual cup of tea, but still a really excellent, well-written debut. After a horrific (and mysterious) accident, Rachel--the daughter of a Black GI father and Danish mother--comes to live with her (rather strict) paternal grandmother and aunt. Having mostly grown up in Europe, Rachel has never particularly thought of herself of as Black, but in 1980s Chicago, she is quickly forced to confront her racial identity while also dealing with the emotional fallout of the accident. Short, insightful, & beautifully written. To me this reads a lot like older, literary young adult; file in the same mental bucket as Number the Stars and A Yellow Raft in Blue Water.

Dreams and Shadows, by C. Robert Cargill. (2013, 448 pages) 4 stars. I don't know how to explain the premise of this book without writing paragraphs and paragraphs, so I'll just say that it's what the kids I think call "urban fantasy," set in present-day Austin which hides a secret world of faeries and monsters and what have you, including cigar-smoking, leather jacket-wearing genies and whiskey-drinking fallen angels and returned-from-the-dead changelings that live off the pain and anguish of their unsuspecting foster parents. This type of book isn't really my bag but it was well written and sort of imaginatively brilliant in terms of weaving together the modern world and a bunch of old folklore, and I agree with the reviewers who said that it might be just the thing for fans of The Magicians or Neil Gaiman's more adult works.

Dear Mr. M, by Herman Koch. (2014, 400 pages) 4 stars. I didn't LUUUURRRV everything about this book, but I thought it was extremely well-written and cleverly structured. The story revolves around a Dutch novelist (Mr. M) and is mostly written from the perspective of his downstairs neighbor, a younger man with shall we say strong-ish opinions about M's work. As the book unfolds we learn more about M and the downstairs neighbor, their pasts, and mmmmmmm to say more would really just spoil everything. There is a bit of a twist at the end and I did NOT see it coming until maybe that same page. If you like long-game, character-driven mysteries with subtle bits of cleverness, you might enjoy. If you like more heavily plot-driven books where Things are always Happening and the story proceeds in a clear, chronological fashion, it may not be exactly your bag.

Alice (The Chronicles of Alice, #1), by Christina Henry. (2015, 291 pages) 4 stars. This was a good, if not earth-shattering, read. The story begins with early-2os-perhaps Alice locked in a mental hospital, with disturbing, fragmented memories of a rabbit and a tea party and a missing friend. "She and Dor went into the Old City for Dor's birthday.... Two weeks later came Alice, covered in blood, babbling about tea and a rabbit, wearing a dress that wasn't hers." I'm a fan of sinister re-imaginings of classic fairy tales, and this one was well written and entertaining. My only real complaint was that it felt a bit rushed and the conflicts too easily resolved (especially given how dark and graphic it is, definitely DEFINITELY not for children). I was glad to see it's actually the first in a series, which may give the story and characters more room to play out. Fans of Gregory McGuire should enjoy.

Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy #1), by Jeff VanderMeer. (2014, 195 pages) 4 stars. It's hard to really say anything about this book without getting into spoilers, but let's see. #1) There is a place called Area X, which is top secret or highly restricted, or something. #2) It's kind of in a coastal area, with a swampy, jungly sort of vibe. #3) An agency called the Southern Reach is in charge of periodically sending small teams of scientists on "expeditions" into Area X to...investigate? #4) Strange and/or concerning things happen when people go there. It is the twelfth expedition, a team of four nameless women: a psychologist (the leader), a surveyor, an anthropologist, and a biologist (the narrator). Essentially the book tells the story of the twelfth expedition, which gets really, really weird. But the writing is excellent, and the suspense and intrigue made me desperate to learn what happened and get the whole story. (Also...I know that you'll probably ignore my advice, because you have to know what happens, but if you really, really love this book, just stop after the first one. Trust me. Just...stop.)

* * *

Currently Reading:
Tell The Wolves I'm Home
, by Carol Rifka Brunt

Currently Listening To:
The Wanderers
, by Meg Howrey

Up Next:

And who knows, whatever else tickles my fancy. (Taking future suggestions as always!)

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Discount Codes UPDATED!!

They're coming in fast & furious!

(As always if you try one & it doesn't work please let me know so I can remove it.)


Water To Wine Half Marathon & 10K, August 6, Sonoma County (starting and finishing at Kendall Jackson Winery). Save 10% with LUCKY10 through March 30. I haven't run this race, but I've run the other two in the series (Windsor Green Half & Healdsburg Half) & they've been quite well done.

SACTOWN 10-Mile & 5k, April 2, Sacramento, CA. Save $5 with code LUCKY5 until ???. This race has a great reputation -- I've never run it but it's on my list.

The San Francisco Marathon, July 23, San Francisco, CA. Save $10 on the full or half with code TSFM2017STEPHANIEL or TSFM2017ERIN until ??? or $10 off the 5K with code TSFM2017STEPHANIEL5K or TSFM2017ERIN5K. (You should also check out Erin's blog!)

The Hollywood Half Marathon, April 8, Hollywood, CA. Save $5 with code STAR until ??? ***OR*** save 25% with code NEWSTAR (thanks Mike!!!).

Race to the End of Summer, September 3, San Jose, CA, . Get 25% off your registration for any distance with code NOJOKE17 until ???. I ran the 10K at this race last year & it was great, & I'm signed up again this year!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Discount Codes!!

Just getting these off my plate before they're no good anymore:

(And if you try one & it doesn't work please let me know so I can remove it.)


Water To Wine Half Marathon & 10K, August 6, Sonoma County (starting and finishing at Kendall Jackson Winery). Save 10% with LUCKY10 through March 30. I haven't run this race, but I've run the other two in the series (Windsor Green Half & Healdsburg Half) & they've been quite well done.

SACTOWN 10-Mile & 5k, April 2, Sacramento, CA. Save $5 with code LUCKY5 until ???. This race has a great reputation -- I've never run it but it's on my list.

The San Francisco Marathon, July 23, San Francisco, CA. Save $10 on the full or half with code TSFM2017STEPHANIEL or TSFM2017ERIN until ??? or $10 off the 5K with code TSFM2017STEPHANIEL5K or TSFM2017ERIN5K. (You should also check out Erin's blog!)

The Hollywood Half Marathon, April 8, Hollywood, CA. Save $5 with code STAR until ???.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2017: The Classics

Yes, yes, I's March already. I'm behind. On everything. Without further ado....

BEHOLD! The classic novels I'll be reading in 2017:

JANUARY: The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman. "The Earth's leaders have drawn a line in the interstellar sand, despite the fact that the fierce alien enemy that they would oppose is inscrutable, unconquerable, and very far away. Private William Mandella has been propelled through space and time to fight in the distant thousand-year conflict; to perform his duties without rancor and even rise up through military ranks. He's willing to do whatever it takes to survive the ordeal and return home. But 'home' may be even more terrifying than battle, because, thanks to the time dilation caused by space travel, Mandella is aging months while the Earth he left behind is aging centuries." I like to do one true sci fi classic each year & this one got a lot of votes.

FEBRUARY: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt. "Voodoo. Decadent socialites packing Lugars. Cotillions. With towns like Savannah, Georgia, who needs Fellini? Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil takes two narrative strands--each worthy of its own book--and weaves them together to make a single fascinating tale. The first is author John Berendt's loving depiction of the characters and rascals that prowled Savannah in the eight years it was his home-away-from-home. Then, on May 2, 1981, the book's second story line commences, when Jim Williams, a wealthy antique dealer and Savannah's host with the most, kills his "friend" Danny Hansford. (If those quotes make you suspect something, you should.) Was it self-defense, as Williams claimed--or murder? The book sketches four separate trials, during which the dark side of this genteel party town is well and truly plumbed."

MARCH (Women's History Month): The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold. "The Lovely Bones is the story of a family devastated by a gruesome murder -- a murder recounted by the teenage victim. Upsetting, you say? Remarkably, first-time novelist Alice Sebold takes this difficult material and delivers a compelling and accomplished exploration of a fractured family's need for peace and closure. The details of the crime are laid out in the first few pages: from her vantage point in heaven, Susie Salmon describes how she was confronted by the murderer one December afternoon on her way home from school. Lured into an underground hiding place, she was raped and killed. But what the reader knows, her family does not. Anxiously, we keep vigil with Susie, aching for her grieving family, desperate for the killer to be found and punished."

APRIL: The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro. "In 1956, Stevens, a long-serving butler at Darlington Hall, decides to take a motoring trip through the West Country. The six-day excursion becomes a journey into the past of Stevens and England, a past that takes in fascism, two world wars, and an unrealised love between the butler and his housekeeper. Ishiguro's dazzling novel is a sad and humorous love story, a meditation on the condition of modern man, and an elegy for England at a time of acute change."

MAY (Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month): The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan. "In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. With wit and wisdom, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between these four women and their American-born daughters. As each reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined."

JUNE (Russian Heritage Month): The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky. "The Brothers Karamazov is a passionate philosophical novel set in 19th century Russia, that enters deeply into the ethical debates of God, free will, and morality. It is a spiritual drama of moral struggles concerning faith, doubt, and reason, set against a modernizing Russia."

JULY: Atonement, by Ian McEwan. "Ian McEwan’s symphonic novel of love and war, childhood and class, guilt and forgiveness provides all the satisfaction of a brilliant narrative and the provocation we have come to expect from this master of English prose. On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece."

AUGUST: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. " 'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.' So begins Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s witty comedy of manners—one of the most popular novels of all time—that features splendidly civilized sparring between the proud Mr. Darcy and the prejudiced Elizabeth Bennet as they play out their spirited courtship in a series of eighteenth-century drawing-room intrigues. Renowned literary critic and historian George Saintsbury in 1894 declared it the 'most perfect, the most characteristic, the most eminently quintessential of its author’s works,' and Eudora Welty in the twentieth century described it as 'irresistible and as nearly flawless as any fiction could be.' "

SEPTEMBER (Banned Books Week): Lady Chatterly's Lover, by D.H. Lawrence. "Lawrence's frank portrayal of an extramarital affair and the explicit sexual explorations of the central characters caused this controversial book, now considered a masterpiece, to be banned as pornography until 1960."

OCTOBER: The Big Sleep, by Raymond Chandler. "When a dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to handle the blackmailer of one of his two troublesome daughters, Marlowe finds himself involved with more than extortion. Kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder are just a few of the complications he gets caught up in." I dunno, I want to read an old detective novel.

NOVEMBER: Far From The Madding Crowd, by Thomas Hardy. (Leftover from 2016, womp womp) "Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community." Overflow from last year that I didn't get to since I was busy re-reading the entire Lightbringer series. A lot of people have recommended this and I have never read Thomas Hardy.

DECEMBER: East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. (Again, leftover from 2016. :-/ )"Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel. Here Steinbeck created some of his most memorable characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity; the inexplicability of love; and the murderous consequences of love’s absence." Ditto. I haven't read Steinbeck since high school, so it's only fair to give him another shot.

Thanks for all your suggestions! :)

Other Books I'm Planning to Read this Year...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Here Comes The Sun!

*Of course*, the week I decided to nix my erstwhile goal race & not worry about weekly mileage for a while, I would end up running my first 40+ week in two months (and, in fact if I'm not mistaken, my highest mileage week thus far this year).

    Monday 3/6: Karate

    Tuesday 3/7: 8 easy

    Wednesday 3/8: 8 easy

    Thursday 3/9: 8 easy

    Friday 3/10: 4 easy (planned 8, but had plans to meet friends for happy hour & just ran out of time)

    Saturday 3/11: Rest/mad tile shopping

    Sunday 3/12: 13.1 easy. This was the day I was supposed to run Shamrock'n, so since I was feeling pretty good, I decided to pay a little homage to the-race-that-wasn't & do my own super easy half marathon in Golden Gate Park (no driving involved). It was also my first double-digit run in *quite* some time, so I was relieve that it went well.

    Total: 41.1 easy miles

Also, I don't know if it's just taking all the race/training pressure off or what, but this week my easy runs have been FAST! (Y'know, for me, for easy runs.) Most of the time when I shoot for keeping my heart rate around 140-145, my easy runs average somewhere in the 10:10-10:15/mile range; this week I was regularly ticking off miles in the 9:30-45 range at that same heart rate, sometimes even 9:15! The change seems too sudden (and my training lately too sparse) to really attribute it to an improvement in fitness, so I wonder if it had to do in part with me suddenly not being super stressed about racing a half marathon.

In other news, SPRING IS BACK!

I'm not usually someone that deals with Seasonal Affective stuff or gets too bummed about winter (partly due to the fact that we only really have a kind of "winter-lite", probably) but I suspect that that has played a nonzero role in my general lack of excitement about running. Sure, when I'm training hard for something and super committed, I'll run in just about whatever conditions exist without a second thought--wind, rain, darkness, cold, whatever. Enjoyment is not the primary goal. But when I'm not feeling super invested in training for something, I'm mostly running when I feel like it, in order to enjoy it and feel good. Running in the dark and cold and wind and rain most of the time? Not conducive to that.

So yes, I get that everyone hates Daylight Saving Time and it's an invention of the devil and all, but I cannot tell you how I excited I was to get an extra hour of daylight on Sunday. Being an afternoon/evening running, it's a huge relief to not feel the pressure of having to get a long run done by 5pm because I don't want to run in the dark.

Also, Sunday was just the most beautiful day imaginable in SF--75-80° and sunny, with just enough of a breeze for running to be pleasant.

All these people agree

It's looking like we might get a whole week without rain, so we'll see if this high (for admittedly quite low values of "high") mileage trend continues!

(And if you're reading this from the east coast....sorry. :-/ )