Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Race Report: American River Parkway Half Marathon

At 4am this past Saturday, I got up and drove to Carmichael (Sacramento, basically) for the American River Parkway Half. Initially I signed up for this race because I kind of just wanted to race a half marathon after NVM & see what I could do. After talking to Coaches Tom & Ashley, though, I decided not to try to race. They felt that 9 weeks wasn't really enough time post-marathon to put up a strong enough half to make it worth sacrificing time for taper/recovery. So for a while I kept going back and forth about what I wanted to use the race for, and finally decided on trying to run goal marathon pace (8:00 miles) & seeing how it felt.

I would like to preface this race report by saying that this race was one of my most deeply unpleasant & miserable race experiences in recent memory (short of ones where I did serious injury to myself, which, spoiler, thankfully did NOT happen!). I mean it was so absurdly miserable at some points that in retrospect it's actually kind of funny. Still, if you are really into cheery, heart-warming race reports involving a lot of talk about personal mantras & believing in oneself & non-ironic uses of the word 'gratitude', you may be disappointed.

(If, on the other hand, you're into snarky gifs, I humbly submit it may be right up your alley!)

If I had a personal mantra throughout this race, it
was definitely "F#@$ All Y'all." Bonus points for anyone who
can get it for me on one of those cute little Kara Goucher necklaces.

My first observation upon getting out of the car at 6:30: It was not cold. I knew right then that my original race plan was in trouble.

The race website had listed historical weather conditions/averages (51° by 7:00 am, 53° by 8:00, 60 by 10:00, 64° by 11:00), so I'd done the mental math & figured, well, I'll be done by 9:30ish, so I should be running in 50-something temps the whole time, which is totally reasonable.

The day before, I checked the forecast, which called for slightly warmer temps (~65ish by 9:30 or thereabouts, I think), but also full sun. Now, despite the fact that I've run a number of races in the mid-to-upper 60s on black top in full sun, I always really, really want to believe that this will be perfectly fine, slightly-warm-but-perfectly-reasonable running weather, and not at all like running in the ninth circle of hell. Every time, I swear it will be the last time I let myself be fooled. For whatever reason, though, that lesson has yet to sink in.

(Also, I just can't not mention the ridiculously high percentage of runners/walkers decked out in tights and long sleeve shirts. Just looking at them made me sweaty. I even overheard one woman telling another, "I had no idea it would be so cold! I'm shivering," and her friend reply, "I know, I'm sooo glad I wore layers." Part of me wanted to shake them and yell, "WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU??? IT'S 6:30 AND ALREADY NEARLY 60 DEGREES!!! DO YOU HAVE ANY *IDEA* HOW MISERABLE IT'S GOING TO BE OUT THERE? DO YOU?!?!?11?"

On the other hand, at least race organization was quite smooth, & the little tent city erected by the start/finish was easy to navigate. The first bit of staging I encountered was a beautiful line of port-a-potties with almost no lines. Then I went in search of the bib table, where again, I only had to wait behind one person (and only because her last name fell in the same range of letters as mine; the other volunteers passing out bibs had no line at all). I also walked right up & got my shirt.

Now that it was 6:45, I found myself with some time to kill. My loose plan was to do all my race prep (sunscreen, BodyGlide, hair, FlipBelt, bib, etc.), watch the walkers' race start at 7:15, then jog 2 easy miles before the runners' start at 7:45. (I thought it was cool that there were not only two separate starts for the runners and walkers but also two completely separate courses, both out-and-backs that headed in two different directions.)

The walkers' start

I am a weenie about cold and most of the time wait until the last possible moment to ditch my warm-ups, but this time I didn't even bother putting them back on after slathering up, and was already sweating after one easy warm-up mile in one of my thinnest, lightest tops. Not a good sign.

At 7:40 I lined up at the 8:00 min/mile sign, the Folsom High School jazz choir sang the National Anthem (OMG *SUCH* a huge improvement over the amateurish solo performances most races get), the horn sounded, and we were off.

Runners' start. For the record, the 23-year-old baddass in the yellow
top is Olivia Mickle, who a) has a blog and b) went on to win this thing in 1:17:34.

As with Foster City Ten Miler, my biggest issue in the first few miles was overriding the "RACE!!!!" reflex and trying not to go out too fast. My legs really wanted to run more like a 7:30-7:40ish pace and I spent a lot of time looking at my watch and trying to slow my breathing and relax, particularly since the sun was already getting hot and I suspected that if I was really going to try to hold an 8:00 pace, this race could end up being a lot harder later on than I'd anticipated. My first mile was 7:59 and I knew that was still too fast this early if I was trying to average eights.

The first couple of miles weren't too bad because there was more shade, but by the time we hit mile 3 there was less and less of it and more and more time fully exposed to direct sun. By the end of that mile I could tell I was working way harder than I should be to stay in the 8:00-8:10 range, which was a big blow to my morale because the whole point had been to practice marathon pace and I didn't really have a plan B. Should I try to hold the pace anyway, knowing it would be harder in the heat, and treat it as practice running the inevitably tougher second half of a marathon? Forget about pace & just try to run at marathon effort? Give up on marathon practice altogether & just get the long run miles in? Eventually I decided I'd just hold 8:00 pace as long as I could, and if I needed to run the last few miles at an easier pace, that was fine.

    Mile 1 - 7:59
    Mile 2 - 8:03
    Mile 3 - 8:02

Through mile 4 I really struggled to stay positive because I could already tell how much the rest of this race was going to hurt. We'd run through a shaded section and I'd think, "This isn't so bad! I can totally hold this pace for 9 more miles, no problem. I can totally do this." Then the shade would end and immediately I'd be like, "NOPE! Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope," and the idea that there were still over eight more left to go would become utterly depressing.

Then we hit mile 5, which comprised a) a terrifyingly brief and steep downhill to go under a bridge, followed by b) a brief and barely runnable uphill, and c) a looooong, gradual uphill on gravel with absolutely zero shade.

My first thought upon hitting the gravel:

I actually don't think I have the capability to express to you how much I HATE running on gravel. Add to that an ENTIRE MILE of uphill in direct sun with nary a tree or aid station in sight?


Just no.

I'm pretty sure I made it through that stretch purely on spite and the knowledge that if I collapsed and died now I would be unable to murder anyone for this god-forsaken stretch of hell's asshole after the race.

Mile 6 included another sharp downhill/back uphill to go under another bridge, and another long, fully exposed stretch toward the turnaround.

At this point I was way slowing down at aid stations, grabbing a cup of Gatorade to drink plus as many cups of water as I could carry to pour all over myself. I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that for the entire rest of the race there was no period of time during which I was not desperately thirsty.

    Mile 4 - 8:12
    Mile 5 - 8:07
    Mile 6 - 8:00

This picture is here so you can notice how my top is so completely,
100% soaked that it's sticking to me. I even had blisters from wet socks.

My inner optimist (not dead yet!) was super excited to reach the turnaround, but was then almost immediately deflated by the thought that I still had over six miles of this business left to go, which felt just impossible. (I mean not *actually* impossible, but completely and utterly pointless and miserable. I just had absolutely zero desire to run the rest of this race except that that seemed like probably the fastest way of getting back to civilization, given the lack of surface streets.)

I had hoped that because the first half of the race had felt mostly like a gradual but relentless climb, the second half would be a pleasant, subtle downhill. The problem with that logic was that the way out followed the American River Parkway bike trail, and at the turnaround you went down yet another brief yet super-steep downhill onto the levee trail. So, we got to spend the return trip on the lower trail gradually working our way back up to Parkway level.

I was holding my pace, more or less, but it was so hard, and people were getting more and more spread out, so you could spend fairly long periods of time running nearly entirely by yourself in the blistering sun. In tough races, I feel like the energy of people around me and the trappings that remind you you're actually running a race are a big part of what help me stay strong, but at this point there was just NOTHING for fairly long stretches. I might as well have been just out for a run on my own, which made all the misery start to seem like not really worth it.

(Also, while I certainly appreciate the musicians who volunteered to play on the course, I kept suffering crushing disappointment from spotting their tents on the horizon & mistaking them for aid stations. It kind of made me want to cry every time.)

I have a strategy for getting through the last 20-25% of a really hard race, which is to start counting backwards from 400 at each mile marker with three steps per count. (I think it's effective because it gives me something else to focus on and always helps me feel like I'm making some kind of progress when every tenth of a mile seems like an age unto itself.) So, I knew it was a bad sign when I found myself resorting to that mid-way through mile 7. My pace was definitely starting to slow, but I didn't really care; at that point I was just trying to run as fast as I could manage given the number of miles left, not because I thought I might salvage a kinda-sorta not-awful time but because I was so freaking miserable and couldn't bear the thought of staying out here any longer than I absolutely had to.

    Mile 7 - 8:08
    Mile 8 - 8:09
    Mile 9 - 8:12

Weirdly, I found my pace picking up a little in the last 2 miles, probably because my mind and/or body decided that was a fairly manageable distance and it probably wouldn't kill me to run 0:10/mile faster. It was still hard and I felt like I might hit a wall at any moment, but at least it seemed like the folks around me were suffering at least as much or worse because, in spite of making zero effort to do so (see above), I found myself passing runner after runner as early as mile 9.

At that point the optimist poked its head up a little and I found myself thinking, "Okay, I don't really have speed right now, but what I DO have is a marathoner's strength and ability to endure a reasonably high level of discomfort for long periods of time." Yes, it sucked and I wished it were over, but physically, there was no doubt in my mind that I did actually have the ability get through it without the wheels coming off (which, to be honest, was also kind of depressing, because it kind of would've been a relief to just have my body quit *for* me).

I mean I literally don't think my brain would have let me slow down or walk even if I'd wanted to, because every part of me was just *so* opposed to anything that would delay the cessation of this wretched experience by even a moment.

I also had that weird experience that I kind of think I need to work on where with two miles to go, my body was 100% certain it absolutely, positively could not run even a tiny bit faster, and then HEY LOOK IT'S THE FINISH LINE, BETTER SPRINT THIS ONE IN AT 5K PACE BECAUSE WHY NOT.

    Mile 10 - 8:13
    Mile 11 - 8:15
    Mile 12 - 8:08
    Mile 13 - 7:57
    13.1(7) - 6:39 pace

I would like it noted that I was so pissed at the end of this race that I actually went out of my way to take an ironically happy finish photo:

#blessed #yolo #gratitude #f&@$allyall

So, yeah. Final score:

    Official: 1:46:29/13.1 miles/8:08 pace
    Garmin: 1:46:31/13.17 miles/8:05 pace

    Overall: 106 out of 1248
    Women: 27 out of 791
    A/G: 5 out of 15

Okay, WTF 30-34 women?? Where you at??

I'm trying to figure out what my takeaways are for this race, and here's what I've got so far:

  • Even once it felt hard (read: mile 3), I hung on to within spitting distance of my goal pace for a good long while in spite of how completely miserable I felt. In fact, I think I was kind of using my anger and misery as fuel. Life skills!
  • I had a rough few miles in the 9-10-11 range, but I managed to come back after that and finish strong even though I basically wanted to die, and I think that says something about the strength I've been building up even though I'm not fast (for me) right now.
  • The runners who were ahead of me for most of the race were running sub-8:00 pace, and that period in miles 9-11 when my pace dropped off by 10-15 seconds was *still* when I passed the most people.
  • I was never passed by a woman I didn't eventually pass back.
  • Part of me keeps trying to be like, "Oh, look, your half marathon is worse than it was in 2010 when you barely trained. GOOD JOB YOU!" And so I have to keep beating that voice back by reminding myself that I've done zero LT training and almost zero speed training in nearly a year, and also instead of tapering for this race I ran a long, tough hill interval workout in 80° heat on Thursday (since I wasn't willing to skip a key workout).
  • In a way, I feel like I kind of unintentionally did end up practicing the back half because things got just so hard so early. Then again, it's hard to say that anything ever really accurately tests your ability to run the second half of a marathon at pace except the second half of a marathon.

So, yeah. If nothing else, it was definitely good practice if not with embracing the suck, then at least with managing & pushing through it (er, sort of), which I apparently do via violent mental rage & imagery.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*LOGISTICAL STUFF~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Location: Sacramento, CA

Date: First Saturday in May (May 2, 2015 this year)

The Deal: This race is a fundraiser for the American River Parkway & is entirely volunteer-run.

Prices: $50 by 2/18; $65 by 4/28 (online deadline); $80 if registered at bib pickup (4/30 or 5/1) or on race morning.

Field Size: 1248 finishers in the runners' half marathon (I want to say they said the cap is 2000), 382 in the walkers' half marathon, & 224 in the 5K. There was also a half marathon walk relay and a half marathon wheel chair division.

Deadlines/sellout factor: There was race day registration, so you probably don't have to worry about rushing to sign up.


The race was staged at William S. Pond Park on the banks of the American River. There were two start/finish lines (one for walkers that headed north & one for runners that headed south), lots of little tents for bib pickup/registration/gear check/local running groups/other organizations, a post-race food & drink area, and the obligatory giant line of port-a-potties.

The one thing that made me sad about the staging area was that there was almost NO natural shade, so the only areas where you could get out of the sun were the small tents, most of which were over grass. There were some picnic tables on concrete platforms, but these were not shaded. (Also there just weren't that many of them.)

The Course: From the website description of the runners' course: "For the runners, we start and travel along the scenic river-level trail until the turning point. From there, we turn and briefly travel back along the levee trail before crossing Sacramento's most famous footbridge known as the Little Golden Gate bridge - a classic suspension bridge that looks just like the most famous bridge in the world! Once you've crossed the river, you follow the Parkway's 'Lost Trail' for several miles taking in scenic views and running through forests on a path less traveled. Then, another crossing of the river over Sacramento's newest bridge, which returns you to the final three miles on your way to the finish line."

Part of me is wondering if maybe the course got changed between the time this was written and race day, because we definitely didn't cross any bridges (though we did run under the Little Golden Gate). Also, race directors....We have to have a little talk. This word 'scenic.' I do not think it means what you think it means. The only scenery on this course were trees. And not like particularly interesting or unique trees--just the regular kind. And there's nothing wrong with that! But don't call it scenic.

There were little music ensembles playing every mile or so, maybe, which was a lovely gesture, though I felt bad for them because, especially if they were past the first few miles, it must have been boring as hell a lot of the time. In the back half of the course when runners got really spread out, sometimes they would literally strike up a few chords as they saw me coming and then stop once I was gone (which I don't blame them for at all, even if course entertainment was my bag, which it's not). Speaking as a musician, I personally I am not a good enough person to volunteer for a gig like this.

Another thing to be aware of is that, because there isn't a lot of easy access to the Parkway, there's almost zero crowd support. There were a few knots of people here & there (also some surprisingly good signs, and I notoriously hate 'witty' race signs), but mostly you're just kind of out there on the open road. I don't usually miss crowd support but because this race was just so much straight, flat, nothing, it did get really mind-numbing at times and I just wanted *some* kind of stimulation to reassure me that, yes, I was actually making progress.

Something I thought they did a good job with was having volunteers out at spots to call your attention to things, like when we ran by this construction site & there was a big sort of speed bumb protecting a bunch of power cords running across the path to the site. They had two volunteers out there with big red flags being like, "Speed bump!! Don't trip!!"

Also, like I mentioned above, not much shade and a mile-long uphill stretch of gravel.


This year different bib numbers were assigned different parking "zones" in the area surrounding the start at William B. Pond Park, with different arrival times. The race email had specified that my assigned parking zone should arrive between 6:00 & 6:30 in order to get parked and take the shuttle to the start. This was confusing to me because on the map it looked like the parking area (a residential area by the park) was pretty close to the start/finish area, but since the email included warnings like "If unforeseen circumstances interfere [with your arriving in the time window specified in the email], we will have bus service after your assigned arrival time, but we cannot guarantee on-time delivery," I decided to get there around 6:15ish.

Thankfully there was no traffic and thanks to the many signs it was easy to find and park in my designated zone (though, despite email warnings to the contrary, it did not seem like anyone was enforcing it.) I started walking towards the spot on the map with the little shuttle icon, but after maybe five minutes of walking towards the park I could see the start/finish, having never encountered a shuttle bus. (Later I did see a bunch of school buses driving around with runners getting on & off, but I never did figure out what the deal was with this since the parking was literally a 5-10 minute walk from the start. It would have been like a two-minute bus ride, max. It makes me wonder if some of the parking areas were significantly further away.)


Logo tech tee, nice medal, & I think the best post-race food I've ever had at any race. It was actually catered with different types of BIG wrap sandwiches (turkey, ham, veggie, etc.). I was actually really sad that in my post-race brain dead state I managed to douse mine in water. (I still ate almost half of it anyway.)

Overall Assessment:

I think this is a race some people will love and some people should never do again. It's a nice "big-small" race with a local feel, everything was well-organized and ran quite smoothly and overall they did a nice job with it. That said, it's unlikely that I personally will run it again, particularly given that it's almost 2 hours to get there and nearly 3 to get back (courtesy of west/SF bound Bay Area weekend traffic). It was maybe a little warmer than usual this weekend, but temps were really not much higher than historical averages and full sun in spring in the Central Valley is not rare, and I know from experience that I just do NOT run well in those conditions. Also, for me, personally, the course was mind-numbingly dull, and there is my intense, firey hatred for gravel to consider. But, if you live nearby and those things don't bother you, this could be a good choice for an excellent price if you're looking for a smallish, spring half.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Gimme Dat Pie

What a difference a week makes!

A week and a half ago, I was in total damage control mode, trying to ignore the achey-grinding sensations in my pelvis & back and do whatever I could do minimize the pain in my left hip. After a massage and a rest day, though, I had a great long run on Sunday with a few fast miles that felt way easier than they should have, a solid and pain-free 8 miler on Tuesday, and a pretty awesome hill interval session on Thursday.

My four weeks of hill work include two types of hill workouts--"medium hill repeats" and "long hill repeats." For the mediums, you find a pretty steep but still runnable hill and do 50-60 seconds of charging up at 15:00 race effort, then jog back down, & repeat some number of times. (And WOW, are these miserable when you haven't done speed work in 9 months.)

For the long ones, you find a hill that is noticeable but not too steep and run up for 2-3 minutes at 30:00 race effort (so for me kind of right in between 5K & 10K). I missed the first assigned one of these thanks to Boston, so this past week was my first time figuring out where I was going to it. Close to home, we tend to have short, gentle rollers and super-steep-bordering-on-unrunnable peaks, but nothing that really fit this particular bill.

I thought of a good stretch in Golden Gate Park that would work, but it's about five miles away, and since I didn't want to drive out there or make this a 15 mile workout, I settled for a closer stretch in the Panhandle. It's definitely a hill, but probably not *quite* as steep as this workout has in mind, so I tried to make up for it but pushing maybe a little harder than I would have normally.

Again I ask, why do hills never actually look like hills in pictures?

Also, it was HOT, by which I mean 80s and full sun (exceptionally rare in SF), so I was prepared for everything to feel harder.

Weirdly, though, this workout never actually felt that hard. I jogged 2.4 miles out, then did 8 repeats up the hill (~.28 in around 2:00 each, give or take) at 5K-ish effort level. I mean yes, they do obviously get hard toward the end of each one, but I kept waiting for the utter exhaustion to set in and it just never did. I was recovering just fine with each downhill jog, and I finished repeat #8 red-faced and panting and soaking wet, but also feeling like I could have busted out a few more if I had to.

The easy 2 miles back home made it a 9 mile day. Between that & the heat & the hills I kept waiting to feel wiped out, but it never happened. I've definitely had many easier days at the track in better weather and come home feeling considerably worse, so #winning.

~*~*~SRM WEEK 4 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 34.2 miles

    * 16.4 easy
    * 4.6 hill intervals
    * 13.2 race

This week had some harder runs in it, so I didn't push the mileage. (CAN YOU SEE ME WORKING SUPER HARD TO STAY NOT-HURT HERE?)

Monday: Rest. I would have gone to karate except Don got stuck at work with the only key til nearly 9pm (ON HIS BIRTHDAY!!). Instead, I got him dinner & an apple-rhubarb pie for when he finally got home.

(Note: In case you were wondering, no, my visit to the nutritionist does NOT mean I will be giving up pie, because what kind of life is that??)

Mission Pie, you know I can't quit you.

Tuesday: 8 easy. I was supposed to do like 15 x 0:20" sprints, but I've decided to only ever do these on the track, and due to my afternoon/evening plans, I had to do it in the morning & didn't have time to drive to the track so instead I just did 8 easy.

Wednesday: a.m. strength / p.m. karate. I was up late so didn't get to bed early enough to get up at 6 am. BUT, it was to have a non-shitty birthday celebration for Don with karate folks after class featuring beer & pizza, so to be honest I have no regrets.

Thursday: 2.4 warm-up, 8 x .28 hill intervals w/ .28 downhill recovery jogs, 2 cool down = 9 total.

Friday: 2 easy. Just a few easy shake-out miles.

Saturday: 2 warm-up, ~13.2 race = 15.2 total. (Race report here)

Sunday: Rest

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

I saw a sports nutritionist and my mind = blown.

I went to see a sports nutritionist! This post is about that. There will probably be at least a few more here & there, because HOLY INFORMATION OVERLOAD, BATMAN.

Now, you maybe thinking, "Angela. Seriously. The basics of decent eating for runners are not complicated. You are a recreational runner who rarely breaks 50 miles a week, and are so far from achieving anything even *remotely* remarkable it can't even be joked about. What even is the point?"

Short answer: I'm curious. I find the workings of bodies interesting, particularly as they relate to endurance training. In the past when I've shelled out a little money to learn from experts, I've always come away having learned something new and interesting that I hadn't known before.

Longer answer: I kind of want to try optimizing everything I possibly can as I train for Santa Rosa, just to see how it works out. In the past I've tried to learn what I can from reliable (SCIENTIFIC) sources and eat mostly pretty well in terms of running, but I've never had an expert look at what/how I eat and compare that to my life/training & give me feedback.

Also, in general I don't worry about my weight/body fat percentage--I almost never weigh myself and feel like I am totally normal & healthy--but I also know that I've drifted a good 15 pounds or so from the weight I raced best at in my younger days. If there are things I can change that aren't too onerous or complicated in order to have a better race in August, I'd like to give it a shot at least once and see what happens. And hey, I figured, worst case, s/he tells me a bunch of stuff I either a) already know or b) am unwilling to do, and then I can finally say, "Check. Now I know I'm pretty much doing everything I'm willing to." So, I made an appointment with the nutritionist at the Sports Medicine Institute in Palo Alto.

I chose SMI because they & their personnel have a solid reputation in the Bay Area endurance scene and work with many Stanford athletes as well as a number of professionals. The nutritionist has a PhD in biochemistry from Stanford and spends most of his time teaching nutrition courses at the School of Medicine & athletic department there, as well as at the medical school at UCSF, and apparently has worked with a number of big-name pros including Ryan Hall and Lauren Fleshman. (The point being not the star power, but the fact that dude is actually trained in real science and has many years of experience working with people in my sport & getting results.)

Before the appointment, he had me fill out a giant questionnaire about my training and eating habits, including information about my favorite foods, foods I don't like, anything I can't or choose not to eat, and what I eat most often and why. I tried to be as honest as possible, but I still felt a little embarrassed that under "most common dinners," I listed "pizza, burritos, Indian, Chinese, & Thai."

(Not even joking that if I had my way, it would be pizza for dinner every night. #iamtwelve)

He really stressed the importance of filling out everything as thoroughly and completely as possible and erring on the side of adding more detail rather than less and not worrying about whether something seemed relevant or not; as soon as our three-hour meeting began, it became obvious as to why. He didn't waste a single second and we still needed every minute to get through a) explaining the science to me, b) assessing my entire situation based on what I'd written, and c) putting together a program based on my activities & goals.

You guys. Oh my god.

I thought I understood about food and training and eating not-too-terribly/pretty okay. I mean sure, I knew there were finer points where my understanding wasn't great, but by & large, I felt like I had the big picture.

Lordy. I was disabused of that notion in the first 20 minutes.

I did not have the big picture. What I had were fragments of the big picture, here & there, not always the most important ones, & no understanding of how to fit them together.

To be honest, I kind of went in assuming that the takeaways would be:

  • You really have to stop (or at least cut down on) eating x/y/z (where I was pretty sure x, y, & z would be pizza, burritos, & {name of Eastern country} food), and while you're at it,
  • You should probably just eat less of everything in general, which is hard & sucks, so good luck with that, also
  • Show some damn restraint, woman.

But BEHOLD, Things For Which Dr. C Ain't Got No Time:

  • Getting people to stop eating foods they love
  • Getting people to eat "healthy" foods they don't like
  • Talk of anything even remotely like "will power" or "restraint"

He said that for years he tried promoting the "Dr. C Grocery List" with all the best & most nutritious foods he liked to see people eating, but apparently that just does not work and getting people to dump their entire way of eating and start over from scratch with things they aren't used to eating is super hard and complicated and time consuming which SURPRISE! basically sets people up for failure. "I can't even do it," he said at one point.

So instead, his approach is to start with what you already eat and like and can do easily and make small changes to fix what is for the vast majority of athletes the real underlying issue, and that is managing blood chemistry.

Yes, what you eat is important. And how much you eat matters. But far and away, the thing holding most athletes back in terms of nutrition is the timing.

For example: Our bodies absorb CHO (carbohydrate molecules) into our muscles & liver (where we store it) at a certain rate. (I hope it goes without saying that I am grossly oversimplifying, but stay with me.) As long as your body is getting CHO at that rate, you're fueling your muscles, replenishing CHO you've used up in exercise, & storing it for use in future exercise. If, however, the CHO is coming in faster than that rate, though, your body can't keep up, and the extra will get stored as fat, regardless of what the food was.

I think he said most people's baseline for sending CHO to muscles/liver is around 1 gram per minute at rest, but when you exercise, that rate increases dramatically (which is why you can have basically pure sugar during & immediately after exercise without worrying about it going to fat or messing with your insulin sensitivity). This is also why, as soon as exercise is done, the CHO you've used must be replaced immediately (ie, within ~10 minutes). At that point your body is still processing carbs & sending them to muscle/liver *really* quickly, so you can have, say, 200 calories of bread or crackers or whatever and nearly every bit of it will go to refueling.

Wait 20 minutes to have that same amount of CHO, or 40 minutes, or an hour, and your body's ability to process CHO will have dropped precipitously (by half every 20 minutes, apparently), and suddenly a quarter or a third or half of that CHO can't be processed quickly enough to get sent to your muscles, and instead will get stored as fat. So now you have a) not replaced all your lost carbs and b) gained fat unnecessarily.

Similar things happen with dinner. The problem, he said, is not that I eat pizza and Indian food and what have you most of the time. The problem is not that it's too many carbs or too much white flour or too much grease or any of that. It's that at that point in the evening my body can only absorb 1 g/minute of CHO into my muscles (which need it), and starches digest so fast that my body suddenly finds itself trying to deal with 4g/minute of CHO (or whatever, I'm making numbers up). So now my muscles are getting 25% of the carbs I eat (not enough) and the rest gets stored as (unneeded) fat.

(Also, whole grains are apparently not the answer to this, as they only slow down digestion compared to non-whole grains by about 10%.)

BUT WAIT! It gets better.

As we all know, muscle burns fat. One way to burn more fat is to gain muscle. Alas, many athletes find themselves working very hard to put on muscle and barely breaking even.

This, too, I learned, is often a result of blood chemistry in the form of unstable blood sugar. Blood sugar too low -> cortisol spikes -> cortisol starts breaking down muscle to fuel brain & keep blood sugar from falling further. So sometimes athletes are like, "Must lose fat & gain muscle! Must work out harder and create calorie deficit by eating less!" But what actually happens is that blood sugar drops, cortisol spikes, and now, in addition to having just broken your muscles down with exercise, you're doubly breaking them down by causing your cortisol to panic & cannibalize them a bit to feed your brain. GOOD TIMES!

In all likelihood, he told me, these are the main reasons why I can run 30-50 miles a week, lift weights/strength train 3x a week (ok, not lately, but in general...), spend 3 hours a week doing martial arts, eat the right number of calories from mostly healthy foods, and still be 15 pounds & several body fat percentage points over my (previous) ideal performance weight. It's apparently a very common issue, and (I'm told) actually not that complicated to fix.

The best part? When he said: "You don't have to give up pizza/burritos/{Eastern country} food."

So yeah! That's the ground work. Next time I'll talk about the changes he recommended & how it's been going. :)

Monday, April 27, 2015

SRM WEEK 3 OF 20: Lights!! + Back to Fast Finishes

On Saturday, we finally put up some light fixtures!

Things involving electricity are, um, exciting when you live in a 115 year old Victorian. First there is the excitement of guessing which of the switches in the fuse box (see? I don't even know if that's the right name for it) turns off what.

Then there's pulling off the old fixture housings & attempting to decode the ancient rat's nest of wire & asbestos that is your electrical system.

That is, in fact, the terminus of the old gas pipe, from back in the days when all lights were gas lights.

Thankfully we didn't die or explode anything, and now we have real, actual light fixtures that are not the bland, boring IKEA ones the house-dresser went with in order to sell it.

I swear I helped. Mostly by passing tools/screws/bulbs/etc. up the ladder.

Next up, I think, is replacing the nasty, cheap old washer & dryer that make the most ungodly squealing noises & leave nasty lint & crap all over our clothes. (Our house was a rental for a long time, & I have a feeling the owners just went with the cheapest functional appliances they could get. On the other hand, the fact that the place needs some work in places & has a bunch of cheap appliances is probably a big part of why we were able to afford it.)


This week was one of those ones where there are no crises or surprises and everything goes more or less according to plan. I got all of my runs in, and most of them were even reasonably not-awful.

This is remarkable because I haven't had a lot of great runs lately. I'm not generally the type of person to get on the internet at the first sign of trouble and bawl into the void; sometimes things just don't feel right for a day or two for whatever reason, and over the years I've learned that most of the time they take care of themselves in a few days.

But these last few weeks, though. MAN. I won't bore you with all the details but even though I haven't been running all that much or that far & only recently started adding in a few super-gentle hill/speed workouts, it kind of seemed like it was just one thing after another. As a result a lot of my runs have felt unbalanced and awkward and uncomfortable and I've even cut them short here & there. I was actively limping after last Sunday's 12 miler and seriously thinking about just taking a bunch of rest days because I really *really* didn't want to get hurt again.

On Friday I got in with the massage therapist to try to get some of this jankiness worked out. I told him about my skiing fall & how my pelvis & hips had felt kind of messed up & moderately painful ever since. He went to work on me & was like, "Wow, you really made a mess of things, didn't you?" He did a bunch of excruciating (as per usual) work on both hip flexors/psoases (sp?) & SI joints & my right adductor/hamstring, then told me to give it a few days & if it didn't feel normal yet to come back for another, because I had definitely effed up the suspension & he was not surprised that running felt like poo.

Thankfully, the difference was pretty clear and immediate. Friday afternoon I was still sore from all the massage work, but I no longer felt like I was running with a peg leg and broken glass in my back, so winning.

On Sunday I ran 14 miles & decided I was recovered enough to try a "fast finish" & see how it felt. It's been a while, so I didn't want to push things too hard; on the other hand, I'm planning on running a half marathon this Saturday at 8:00 pace & kind of wanted to try out a few miles in that ballpark before then. (Jogging along in the 9:30-10:00 range these days, it always seems absurd to me that I'll be able to crank the pace down by 1.5-2 minutes without utterly sucking wind.) I ran the first 9 easy, then ran 3 at a comfortably fast pace, shooting for around 8:00 or slightly faster.

After a couple of minutes I'd settled into a pace that felt about right, so I was kind of surprised to glance at my watch & see the numbers knocking around between 7:20 & 7:40 (basically HM race pace when I'm in good shape for it). My three fast splits ended up being 7:41, 7:42, & 7:33 (the last mile was a gentle downhill), which was entirely unexpected and dumbfounded me a little. I'd been trying to run as fast as possible without feeling uncomfortable & just settle into that sweet "cruising" feeling that is really my favorite speed to run, and during the last couple of months before NVM that had always amounted to the 7:50-8:10 neighborhood. I haven't done any tempo/threshold training yet & only a tiny bit of strides/hill intervals, so I don't know if that's just continued aerobic improvement, evidence that a tiny bit of speed work goes farther than I think, or just entirely random.

Either way, I'll take it! Like I said, I'm planning on running 8:00 miles at Parkway Half on Saturday (the farthest I've tried to go at that pace since last August), and it would be pretty awesome if it ended up feeling a little easier than I'd been expecting.

~*~*~SRM WEEK 3 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 37 miles

    * 21.2 easy
    * ~1.8 hill intervals
    * 14 long
    * 1 strength workout :-/

Monday: Rest. Too much work for karate + kind of not feeling it.

Tuesday: 8 easy. OMG, *such* a relief to have a decent-feeling run for a change!

Wednesday: a.m. strength work / p.m. karate

Thursday: 3.4 warm-up, 9 x .11 hill intervals w/ .11 downhill recovery jogs, 1.6 cool down = 7 total. Ugh. These are still an absolute and total bitch. I meant to write a post about this workout but didn't get around to it. To be honest, though, I don't really have much more to say about it than that.

Friday: a.m. massage therapist / p.m. 8 easy. Sore where he worked on me, but still much improved.

Saturday: Rest.

Sunday: 14 long

Friday, April 24, 2015

Allergies, Atopic Syndrome, & Sports Nutrition

Generally I steer away from squawking about my health on the internet because it's not like we really need MORE of that. This rule kind of goes double re: talking too much about food and what I do and don't eat. But, I make exceptions from time to time for things that feel somewhat relevant to running (at least for me), so here I go DOUBLY breaking my own personal blogging rules.

I've had exercise- and allergy-induced asthma basically my whole life, and when I lived in Texas (where I grew up), I also had really bad dust and plant allergies at certain times of year. (Also to animals, though after a few days around a particular set, I seemed to acclimate & be fine.) All of this got a lot better when I moved to Ohio for college, to the point that after a couple of years, I went from taking ALLLL the asthma/allergy drugs/pills/steroids/inhalers to taking essentially none. Some of it's come back *just* a touch since I've been in California these past 10 years, but for the most part as long as I use my inhaler before I run and take a Zyrtec if I know I'm going to be out in nature or around animals, it's basically been fine.

My body likes to keep things interesting, though, and in 2008, I started having throat/upper GI problems, which ranged from mild heartburn to sometimes being unable to swallow food or even water. I saw a doctor for this, who put me on some medicine which helped a lot, and he was all like, "YYYYeah, you should probably have an upper endoscopy & a biopsy to figure out what's up with that." So we tried, and the anesthesiologist couldn't knock me out, and everyone gave up, and I got really busy & moved on with my life.

A year and a half later, I developed an absolutely hideous rash. On my face. Like, nightmarishly, cringe-inducingly bad. All the skin around my eyes became itchy, then red, then turned scaly and started flaking off. Also during this time I had to go out in public sometimes and be around other people, particularly my job teaching public high school to teenagers which was AWESOME. It was disgusting and humiliating and also quite uncomfortable, and the worst part was not knowing when (if?) it was ever going to end.

After going to the doctor like three times only to have her be like, "HM, THAT'S REALLY WEIRD, IT'LL PROBABLY JUST GO AWAY." "OH IT DIDN'T GO AWAY? HERE HAVE SOME BENEDRYL." "WHAT THE BENEDRYL DIDN'T WORK?? THAT IS SO WEIRD." I finally went to an allergist, who, after one phone conversation was like, "I'm pretty sure I know what's wrong with you. Come in & I'll fix it." Dude was like, "You have asthma, bad allergies, eczema [the scaly skin thing], and from the sound of it, eosinophilic esophagitis [the throat thing]. That there's what we call Atopic Syndrome, which basically means every part of you is allergic to everything between here & eternity."

The doc gave me a giant steroid shot which, I kid you not, was so big that it took nearly a full minute to inject. A few days later, the eczema was completely gone. The next week they did two blood allergy panels (one for plants and one for foods), for which the official results just read, "Sweet holy fucksticks."

No but really, the doctor was like, "This test is not conclusive but it looks like you have allergic antibodies to egg white, wheat, corn, soybean, peanut, hazelnut, cashew, walnut, almond, macadamia nut, cat and dog hair, mites, bermuda and johnson grass, timothy, penicillium notatum, cladosporium herharu, aspergillus, alternaria tenuis, white oak, elm, cottonwood tree, white mulberry, smooth alder, mugwort, and pigweed. So maybe avoid those things?"

But to be honest I kind of blew it off because it said I was allergic to all these foods that I've been eating my whole life without having any reaction, and besides my immediate problem was solved which is obviously the only really important thing in life.

Fast forward to a few months ago when I called to get my throat prescription refilled and the doctor's office was like "YOU HAVEN'T BEEN HERE IN FIVE YEARS, WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOU?" So I slunk back in, and finally agreed to get another endoscopy/biopsy, which confirmed the eosinophilic esophagitis/Atopic Syndrome. The treatment, typically, is to stop eating eggs, wheat, dairy, soy, nuts/seeds, and seafood. Forever.

(Did I mention I already can't eat cruciferous vegetables because of my thyroid problem? GUESS IT'S STEAK AND FRUIT FROM NOW ON.)

(Oh, wait. We can't shouldn't eat beef because of the drought, so chicken, I guess. Chicken and fruit.)

So yeah. That business is like a real, legit, medical-treatment diet, not something Gwenyth Paltrow made up because paleo-vego-gluten free was too rich.

My reaction, predictably: Eff. That.

And the doctor was like, "No but really. This is a food allergy & it's really bad for you, & if you're not going to do the diet, you really have to get the skin tests & then stop eating whatever it says you're allergic to."

Cue the allergist. I explained my situation and then they did a round of skin testing, which involves drawing a giant grid on your back & then pricking each little square with one of the allergens they're testing you for. (I think they did 40-50 on me.) It was less uncomfortable than I was afraid it would be, and the good news is that it only takes about 15 minutes before you can see the reactions. Sure enough, my back started to itch in several different places, and I kind of resigned myself to being told it was chicken and fruit from here on out.

But, interestingly enough, the only foods I reacted to were the nuts, particularly peanut and hazelnut. I was elated!

The downside: I eat a peanut butter & jelly sandwich every morning when I get to work, and of course, just refilled my stash last week.

Anyone want any peanut butter?

When I was thinking I might have to retool my entire diet, I made an appointment with a sports nutritionist at the Sports Medicine Institute in Palo Alto (the same place where I go for massages). He's apparently worked with a lot of Stanford athletes and other local recreational and professional endurance athletes, so it seems like he's the right kind of guy to talk to. I'm feeling a lot less panicky about nutrition (now that I know I'm not allergic to every food on earth), but to be honest, as I start to really, actually train for Santa Rosa, I kind of do want an expert set of eyes looking at what and how I eat & see if there are things I can tweak a bit for better results. By & large I feel that my eating habits are pretty decent, but they're certainly not perfect, and I feel like I'm not quite up to doing it on my own (even with the help of Matt Fitzgerald).

So, I'm seeing him next Tuesday. It will be interesting to hear his thoughts (especially about what I should start eating when I get to work now that PB&J is out)!

Monday, April 20, 2015

SRM WEEK 2 OF 20: Discount / Books / Some Running Stuff

Here be a slurry of topics, various & sundry.

TOPIC 1: Another race discount.

Remember how I mentioned Windsor Green Half a few months back, & how I really enjoyed it, & would love to run it again some day? Well, the third race in that series, the Healdsburg Half Marathon (this one, not this one -- I know, super confusing, right?) just announced $10 off with promo code HH10, good through May 7 (which makes it $70 instead of $80). I ran my current half marathon PR at this race in 2012, so it probably goes without saying that I'm a big fan.

Best finishing pic ever? Probably.

Like Windsor Green, this race was on the small side but very well-organized with a good course. It has a 7:30am start so odds are good that it won't get too warm (it was cool & overcast the year I ran it). The course is gently rolling, which worked out better for me personally than I think a totally flat course would have (getting to use different muscles & all that). Also after the race my car fob mysteriously stopped working for about half an hour and everyone was super kind & helpful & gave me race schwag to put on so I wouldn't freeze to death (and then absolutely refused to let me pay for it).

The age group awards are bottles of wine (Don: "I think you should run more of those kind.") and if you run all three races (Windsor Green, Water to Wine, and Healdsburg), you get a free custom bottle.

If I weren't running a marathon at the end of August, I would probably actually sign up for this race again because I enjoyed it so much. (Not gonna lie, PRs and A/G awards tend to help with that.)

TOPIC 2: Books.

The 2015 Classics Project presses on. Here's where we're at so far:

January: A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole (1980, 394 pages). 3 stars. Basically, if you enjoyed Don Quixote, you'll probably enjoy this as well. It is a sort of novel known as a picaresque, which means that the "hero" is a kind of self-righteous man-child type who indulges himself in all kinds of dreamy, selfish fantasies without ever learning about himself, taking others into consideration, or really developing as a character at all. The picaro here is thirty-year-old, early 1960s New Orleans resident Ignatius Reilly, who reluctantly tears himself away from his pages and pages of reflective journaling to take a variety of ill-fated jobs in order to to provide for his single mother. It's cute and clever and reasonably entertaining at times, but the picaro stuff does get old after a while, and I have to admit that I can't really see how it stood out enough to get a Pulitzer Prize.

February: The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison (1970, 216 pages). 5 stars. Last year for Black History Month, I read Uncle Tom's Cabin, which I did not expect to love but absolutely did. (Should be required reading for all Americans. Period.) It seemed like a good tradition to keep up so this year I chose The Bluest Eye, which I've wanted to read for a while anyway. It's the story of a sad, timid, eleven-year-old Black girl in 1941 that explores ideas of racial self-loathing & its origins, as well as the broader idea of facing rejection for something you can't control and what happens when instead of pushing back against that rejection, you accept it as legitimate. Short, sad, and beautifully poetic (because, Toni Morrison, who remains one of the most captivating writers I've ever read).

March: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith (1943, 496 pages). 4 stars. I read this one for Women's History Month. Five stars for being high quality, well-written YA fiction that I suspect would be meaningful to younger teens (and possibly even pre-teens?) without veering into melodrama; three stars for being just not really up my alley. (Then again, I am positive I read it about 20 years too late). So call it 4 on average. I feel like it falls into a particular sub-genre of YA whose theme is, "Life is hard, particularly growing up, especially for poor people, but sometimes good things still happen because FAMILY and LOVE," and those types of books have just never really spoken to me much. Also, I'm not sure why but I found myself constantly comparing it to The Bluest Eye and Angela's Ashes, and...well. That's tough company for any book.

April: The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin (1969, 280 pages). 4 stars. April is Women in Science Fiction Month, and everyone was like, "OMG how have you not read this?!?!?" An envoy from a loose federation of humanoid worlds visits a recently discovered humanoid world with the goal of eventually bringing them into the fold. This planet is unique in that its inhabitants spend 24 of every 26 days in an androgynous/asexual state, and then two days in what they call "kemmer," where pheromonal/hormonal interactions with a potential sex partner cause them to become (unpredictably) male or female. LeGuin wrote the book in order to explore what remained basic to human nature when biological sex was no longer a factor. I had kind of a hard time getting into it at first, but it picked up & ultimately was a good story of friendship, political intrigue, and two vastly different peoples trying to understand each other. It was a ground-breaking book for the time in terms of how gender is treated, and I give her a lot of credit for that.

TOPIC 3: Running.

Uggghh, only marginally more than nothing this past week. Do you ever do that thing where you're kind of planning a period of time in two parallel universes? Because that is what I did last week. Part of my brain was thinking through my Week 2 workouts (leg speed on Tuesday, long hills on Thursday, Sunday long run, & one or two other easy runs somewhere in there), while also simultaneously running through the logistics of traveling to/speaking at/traveling home from a conference in Boston. Somehow it didn't occur to me until way too late that those two universes were not super compatible.

~*~*~SRM WEEK 2 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 18.5 miles

    * 4.5 easy
    * 2 leg speed strides
    * 12 long

Monday: Karate

Tuesday: 2 wu / 10 x 0:20 strides / 2.5 cd = 6.5 total.

    This was what McMillan calls a "leg speed" workout -- very short bursts at very high speeds designed to improve the neurological connection between your legs & brain. Technically I was supposed to do 15-20 of them but I did not think that was a great idea so I did 10 & called it good. Also, I learned that 1) at this point in my life I cannot sprint on concrete, ever, and 2) doing so on even a mild downhill is an absolute no-go. I was kind of limping after so as silly as it seems, I'll be doing these workouts at the track from now on.

Wednesday: Fly to Boston / pass out

    God. I hate flying to the East Coast. Hate hate hate.

Thursday: Conference

    I don't know what planet I was dreaming on when I was thinking I might be able to fit in a treadmill workout or two during this conference. I managed to get in some last year in New Orleans, but apparently when you're speaking and have a bunch of dinner meetings & early morning to negotiate, it's a whole different beast.

Friday: Conference

    Friday was still a pretty great day because it was when I actually gave my presentations, which was a big deal because this is the biggest math education conference probably in the world and it was my first time speaking there. My partner & I thought both talks went really well and we had a bunch of people come up to us and tell us how much they enjoyed them & that they learned a lot, and some even brought colleagues to the second one. So, no running, but still a successful day in my opinion. ALSO, I got to have dinner with a running buddy from my grad school days who lives in Boston now, which was super fun.

Saturday: Fly home

    If there is one thing I hate more than flying TO the East Coast, it's flying BACK from the East Coast. On the plus side, by the time my plane landed my body had absolutely no idea what time it was, so I was able to meet Don & some other out-of-town friends for dinner & drinks around 9ish, which made me happy.

Sunday: 12 long

    You would think that four "rest" days would leave me feeling strong & refreshed my Sunday long run, but no. My muscles & tendons & whatever are *SO* angry with me for the last few days, which included way too many hours sitting on a plane and in presentations and walking around in heels (like, multiple miles a day) and not nearly enough physical activity, stretching, drinking water, or eating reasonably nutritious food. Pretty much everything hurt the whole time and it totally sucked. Here's hoping things feel better after a few days of actually taking care of my body. :-/

Your thoughts on those four books? On "rest" days that actually do the opposite of rest days? On hella/wicked long plane trips where every single person on board must talk loudly to their neighbor & get up out of their seat nineteen times an hour?

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

SRM WEEK 1 OF 20: Decent miles + a race discount


I have no idea what my post-August race plans are going to be, but I'm keeping this one in mind because I would like to run a half in the fall, and I would also like to properly visit Santa Barbara (and drink its wine) as I have only ever driven through it.

Use discount code AXSAVE10 to get $10 off the Santa Barbara Marathon / Half Marathon, which takes place in Santa Barbara, CA on Saturday, Nov. 7. Code expires Monday, April 27. (The marathon is currently $120 & the half $105; military & veterans receive a $20 discount.) The half is still pretty expensive in my opinion, though, so we'll see what happens. It's not like there aren't tons of local options as well.


Since this is the first time I've ever been back running almost right away after a marathon, I'd been warned to take it pretty easy for a few weeks and expect that everything would feel harder than normal for a while. And that's totally been the case.

Now at about six weeks out, though, I'm finally feeling pretty normal again. Easy runs feel easy, and this past Sunday I did my first post-marathon double-digit run. I did my usual ten-mile loop through Golden Gate Park at a super easy effort, and weirdly, I think it actually felt easier than the six- and seven-milers I'd run earlier in the week.

Like I mentioned, I'm taking a few weeks to ease myself back into speed work a la McMillan, so it's not *really* marathon training yet, but I do have a schedule to follow and some mileage goals to start working towards, so it felt like it made sense to start counting. (Also, I like the idea of starting counting from 20 better than 12.)

Other pros from the week: The sometimes bad, sometimes less bad, but always somewhat present pain in my right hip that I've had for basically five years seems to have weirdly disappeared??

Cons from the week: My good left hip has been hurting non-stop. It's like the weirdness just slid over from one side to the other, like, in my sleep or something. I would blame it on the ski accident, except that side never hurt after I fell -- on the right. I am seeing the massage therapist next week so hopefully he will fix it all up.

~*~*~SRM WEEK 1 OF 20~*~*~

Grand Total: 32 miles

    * 20.7 easy
    * ~1.3 hill intervals
    * 10 "long"
    * 1 strength workout :-/

Monday: 4 easy. No karate because I had to stay home & work.

Tuesday: 7 easy. This was a post-NVM distance record, so I was glad that it felt good and relatively easy.

Wednesday: Rest (again no karate because work work work).

    Thursday: a.m. strength work / p.m. 1.7 warm-up, 6 x .11 hill intervals w/ .11 downhill recovery jogs, 2 cool down = 5 total. I kept the overall mileage for this workout pretty low because I had no idea how hard the intervals would be on my legs (particularly after a morning strength workout).

    Friday: 6 easy.

    Saturday: Rest/work.

    Sunday: 10 "long"

    I finished the week feeling good (except for the stupid LEFT hip), so hopefully I'm timing things right & not jumping into 30+ too soon.

    I wish I had more to say, but I'm in Boston for work right now and 6 hour flights are exhausting. :-/