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?


  1. No, no, they're only rest days if you're actually resting, not if you're conference-ing/ socialising/ long-distance-flying! At least it's only week 2. And I MUST read Left Hand of Darkness now - somehow I've never got round to reading it either.

  2. Long periods of sitting are the worst for me! My hips get so stiff! Luckily I don't sit at my job, and my recent travel has not required long flights.

  3. Those kind of rest days drive me crazy -- where I'm utterly exhausted but not from fun activities, from travel or a stressful day at work.

    Congrats on the talks! It has to be so rewarding to be able to present work at a conference like that and have people be really engaged in it.