Monday, February 28, 2011

Run, Fat Boy, Run

I never really understand how half of the movies I receive from Netflix end up in my mailbox. I swear that Netflix has a mind of its own and adds random movies to my queue without my knowledge - which would explain why Netflix sends me "Understated Dramas with a Strong Female Lead" and "Visually Striking Cerebral Independent Documentaries." This would also explain why most of the movies I receive go unwatched for 3 - 4 weeks before I get so desperate [read: bored] that I finally break down and tear open that red envelope.

Well, I did just that this weekend and was pleasantly surprised. This movie is a few years old, so I'm sure many of you have already seen it, but I got a nice little laugh out of Run, Fat Boy, Run. It's basically the story of an out-of-shape Brit who attempts to win back his ex-fiancee's love (played by the absurdly gorgeous Thandie Newton) by running a marathon in London... with only 3 weeks of training. He goes through the predictable bang-ups and hang-ups that aren't too far-fetched from what Liv and I have experienced ourselves and, with the support of his unsuspecting trainers, manages to pull it together on race day.

I wouldn't say the movie gave me much inspiration for training, but it was certainly a comical take on out-of-shape folks (such as myself) trying to push their bodies to the limits. I enjoyed the very literal take on "hitting the wall" because I've lately been living in constant fear of when that moment will inevitably happen on marathon day.

Anyway, check it out for a laugh. Or, if you feel like being unproductive for a little while, check out this delightfully entertaining game

Friday, February 25, 2011

You were warned...

It's official - 2011 now holds the record! In a mere 28 hours and 4 minutes, the race sold out. Last year it took six days. 2005 was the year to beat with a time of 62 hours, and beat it we did. Within the first hour, 30% of the field (including Liv + Sal) had registered. And prior to registration opening, the MCM was the number one search on Google. Thankfully, our footsy friends (Tess and Megs, one boyfriend and said boyfriend's father) all succumbed to peer pressure took our advice, and registered on day one.

This will likely be the only record that Liv + Sal can say we hold/were a part of, but we're okay with that - here's to finishing!
Liv has one friend who didn't get in. Now we're already crossing fingers for a bib transfer for him - so if any of you out there know of know where to go to find a runner.

Happy training!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

MY RUN Premiere Tix on Sale

Tickets are now on sale for My Runan unforgettable inspirational story about a 57-year-old man who ran 75 consecutive marathons in 75 consecutive days. The story appears to be a bit of a tear jerker...

Terry Hitchcock battles the grief of losing his wife to breast cancer by setting out on a journey to bring awareness and a voice to the struggles faced by single parent families and their children. Narrated by Academy Award winner Billy Bob Thornton, this powerful and uplifting documentary exemplifies a commitment to something greater than yourself and achieving something deemed impossible.

As we've proved before, we're suckers for a good emotional running story that motivates us to do absurd things to our bodies, so we'll clearly be there, popcorn in hand. The award-winning and critically acclaimed documentary is coming to movie theaters nationwide for an exclusive one night premiere event on Thursday, March 31st at 7:00 pm (Local Time).

Following the feature, audiences will take a deeper look into the story through interviews with the star Terry Hitchcock and his son, support team member Chris Hitchcock.

A portion of proceeds from the MY RUN Premiere event will benefit the Livestrong Foundation. Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Free Yourself

We did it y'all! WE JUST REGISTERED FOR THE 2011 MCM!!!!!

It only took thirty minutes after registration officially opened for both Sal + Liv to make it into the high traffic site, enter all of our information and click submit (i.e. click the button to determine our destiny for the next seven months).We nearly wet our pants when everyone started posting their bib #s to the MCM Facebook page and we couldn't get past the "Submit Now" button (and Liv now has about 300 new friends on the 'book because she decided to comment on the MCM wall. Well played, g-fri). 

So many things going through our heads right now - but I'd say we're mostly excited....or nervous...or, mostly excited.

But - here is a fantastic little jam to get us jazzercised...

Wish us luck (because we're kind of flipping out)!

Registration Day

Did we mention how frustrating this is??

Though it totally makes sense why they have to block us from the Web site this morning, I can't stop constantly hitting refresh - just hoping the page will change early and we can go ahead and register. I feel like I'm trying to get Phoenix tickets right now. But nope, instead I'm waiting to sign my life over to seven months of grueling training, ferocious blisters and endless Friday nights surrendered to long runs.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Day We Almost Quit

If anyone out there is following along with our little training calendar, then you might have noticed this weekend was the longest run in footsy history (not the longest run in Sal history, as we know that she previously trained for and completed the Nashville 1/2 in 2007). But definitely the longest run in Liv history....and I was nervous come Saturday morning.

I was nervous, but also excited. I woke up to the most beautiful day in DC, not a cloud in the sky. The sun was shining and when I took Tallulah out for her morning walk, I think it was the first time I've felt warm rays of sun on my face since November. Not to mention, we had a new route planned, one around the center of it all in DC, around the Mall and all the monuments, Tidal Basin, and the Capitol.

What I also knew about Saturday (thanks to "Storm-tracker Steve" - my co-worker who diligently sends out alerts for any sort of weather happenings) was that we were under a high wind watch all day long. This wind watch included sustained winds of 35 to 40MPH with wind gusts possible of 60MPH.

Okay, point taken - it's supposed to be windy....except for I didn't really get it... it was going to be WINDY. If you paid attention to the national news at all on Saturday, then you might have seen that this happened:

That's the National Christmas Tree folks. It was planted firmly in the ground of the White House Ellipse. Sal and I were basically running by here - maybe even when this very thing happened. Except we would have never known it because mostly we were running with our heads down and our eyes closed.

Let me back up and describe the worst three miles ever run in either of our lives. At any point during these three miles, if Sal had said, "Okay, this sucks monkey balls, let's quit" I would have responded with, "OMGthankyou, I've been waiting for you to say that."

It started out fine enough - us just kind of looking at each other like, whoa - this wind is worse than we thought. Then Sal put in her busted headphones (seriously yurbuds, we'll take 2 pair now thankyouverymuch), and it was like the headphones created this wind vortex, drastically amplifying the sound in her ears. She couldn't hear anything - me talking or her music - so basically, she just ran with her hands covering her ears the entire time. Next we're barely approaching mile one and the wind blows something into her eye. She couldn't even open it for me to see if I could find what was in it. Eventually, whatever it was made its way out of her eye, and then she just had tears streaming down her face for the next two miles after that. As we approach the Washington Monument, the leaves that are being blown into us might as well be weapons. I seriously think one caused my ankle to bleed.

Meanwhile, we're seeing these other runners who don't appear to be half as miserable as we are and I'm thinking, what gives? Why do they seem like this is not a problem for them? All the while my left calf is really tight, and because I'm an injury hypochondriac and get super nervous any time I feel the slightest bit of pain, I'm now contemplating walking.

We finally get a little break from the wind after we circle behind the Lincoln Memorial and head toward the Tidal Basin, when a piece of glass somehow is blown up and hits Sal's leg and fell into her shoe.

Also, our fabulously planned route is foiled due to the National Mall restoration and the construction of the new MLK memorial resulting in all of these closed sidewalks. I'm looking down at my watch realizing that because of the alterations we've had to make to our route, we aren't even at the half-way four mile mark yet.

But somehow, we didn't stop, even though we definitely weren't enjoying ourselves. Running back up the mall was made little easier considering we were no longer running directly into the wind. Finally we got into a groove and surprisingly, miles five and a half to about seven and a half were the best miles of the run for me. And I have to say, I was so proud of myself when I finished the longest run of my life. 

Then I get home and I'm telling husband about our run and he says, "So what? That was like one-third of a marathon?" ha... nope, not even. But baby steps folks - I think we're going to be just fine for our April 10th 10 miler.

What about you? What do you think is the worst weather element to run in? We've exposed ourselves to freezing cold, icy paths, and now extreme wind. We haven't even tackled rain yet - but as we were running Saturday, I was thinking I might prefer rain over wind?

P.S - It's here y'all - tomorrow we'll be live blogging as we *gulp* - sign up for the 2011 MCM.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Another Musical Monday

I'm in New York this weekend hanging out with some buddies, one of whom has oh so graciously offered to provide some musical tunes to freshen up our playlists. Introducing Nina...

Now, there are a few things you should know about Nina before you decide if these beats are for you: for as long as both Liv + I can remember, Nina has never ceased to amaze us with how truly odd she is - just when we think we've finally grasped her eccentricities, she manages to stump us even further. She is the kind of gal that can pick up and move to Greece and return with a mantra all her own. She's never really cared about doing things the way most others do, and that usually carries over into her musical taste, too. Liv + I have ever so slowly adjusted to Nina's tendency to blare euro-techno-club music the entire time we're at her apartment (she claims that she'll walk down the aisle to this). And though I can't claim to be a techno convert, she's typically pretty darn good at picking tunes that get us pepped up to step out on the town. So, without further ado, here is Neen's extremely random musical tribute to Shoes Full of Feet. 

  1. Love You More - Armin Van Buuren
  2. With Every Heartbeat - Robyn
  3. Amazing Grace (Vocal Trance Mix) - Ramin & Silver
  4. Love Today - Mika
  5. Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z feat Alicia Keys
  6. Extreme Ways - Moby
  7. My Life Be Like Ooh Ahh - Grits
  8. Separate Ways - Journey
  9. Close My Eyes - Astroline
  10. Power - Kanye West
  11. Bad Romance - Lady Gaga
  12. This is My Life - Edward Maya
  13. Swimming in Miami - Owl City
  14. All The Above - Maino feat T-Pain
  15. We No Speak Americano - Yolanda Be Cool
  16. Russia Privjet - Basshunter 
  17. Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson

Friday, February 18, 2011

About That Dream...

Not so very long ago, I shared with you guys the recurring dream I was having (and continue to have today) where I can't find the starting line on race day. Just recently, I happened upon this Runner's World dream decoder that, at the very least, makes me feel more sane because at least I'm not alone. 

My dream falls in the "Anxiety Dream" category: You show up with two left shoes on race day (check), oversleep (check. i literally have this dream every single night. no lie), or can't find the start (check)

WHAT IT MEANS: Anxiety usually indicates that you have some unresolved worry about the dream subject-in this case, a race, says Tonay. You may wonder if you're properly prepared or even if you really want to do it. (Ouch. That stings a little bit. And, before 2 weeks ago, was eerily accurate)

WHAT TO DO: Address your apprehensions. Stay on top of your training, and prepare mentally well before the race. Sports psychologist Steven Ungerleider suggests laying out your gear and visualizing the course several nights early, so you can rest easy on race eve. (Source: Runner's World)

Well, I'm addressing my apprehensions right now. I am absolutely terrified that I'll never see a finish line on marathon day. Every time I go for a run these days, I find myself calculating in my head how many times I'll have to do that run all over again in the marathon. The thrill of a good 6 mile run starts to fade because my thought process goes a little something like this: "Man, that run felt great. I'm going to be okay. But wait, that was only 6 miles. At the marathon, I'll have to run 20.2 miles ON TOP of what I just did. Could I do what I just did three and a half more times?? No. effing. way. Holy crap. But I have lots of time. I'm sure I'll be okay. At least, I think I'll be okay. Will I be okay?"

The truth is, I DO have plenty of time before the marathon. My relationship with running is in the early  honeymoon phase, and I need to focus on maintaining that newfound love rather than live in fear of the 26.2. So please go away nightmares, because I'm tired of this restless sleep. 

Sweet dreams,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

So here's the thing... I am physically incapable of running without music and/or some for of entertainment. It's pathetic, I know. And it most certainly makes me part of the "new school" running crew. 

The weird thing is, I'm not even one of those people that has to be plugged in all of the time. I don't have cable and I think ipads are overrated, but running without music is like running without oxygen for me. 

Now, there have been exceptions to that rule, but only one comes to mind at the moment: Liv + I had plenty to talk about and the weather was lovely and I was so mesmerized by the sunrise and the soft morning sounds, that I never needed tunes. But if I'm being completely honest, the real reason I never turned on my ipod then is because I realized halfway through our run that my earphones were completely busted, which brings me to my next point...

I have terrible luck with earphones. Actually, it probably has less to do with luck and more to do with my refusal to spend more than $15 on earphones. The reason my earphones were broken on that run was because they were provided to me by Delta Airlines... about 4 years ago. At work, I use another pair of earphones that is so old and busted that only the right side works... and it has to be in the left ear. The only earphones I've ever paid for (which were purchased at an extremely shady gift shop in Cozumel 3 years ago) have worked okay, but they start slipping out of my ears the very instant that I break a sweat. I try to secure them in one place by wearing headbands in the cold weather, but the headband ends up jamming the buds so deep into my ear that I always end with a headache. Life is hard, I know. 

So... (I promise my griping is almost over)... the question is, what is the best type of earphones for running? I know that everyone's ears are shaped differently, and some people can pull off the buds better than others. Other folks go for the around the ear and behind the neck style, but I know for a fact that would never work for me because I hate things pulling on my ears (which is why I rarely wear earrings). 

I'm kind of drooling over these guys: the Yurbuds Ironman Performance Raising Earphones. Supposedly, these rather pricey ($50) buds are designed to eliminate slippage "by using ultra-soft, medical-grade silicone tips that provide a snug fit, while other features like neodymium drivers and a water resistant design provide superior sound and toughness" [source: uncrate]. Now, all of that could very well be just a bunch of fancy schmancy mumbo jumbo to take advantage of schmucks like me (considering I don't know what half of it meant), but then again, it could be kind of awesome. 

Regardless, I highly doubt I'd ever get over my cheapness to throw down 50 bones on some silicone tips. So yurbuds, care to hook a sister up? No...? Hmm... okay fine. Anyone else out there have some suggestions? I'm all ears. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

When Work and Training Collide

As mentioned before, I have one of the most boring & least prestigious jobs in America.

Okay - that's not how I really feel, all the time. I work for an awesome company that has very exciting things going on, giving me amazing experience. What I dislike about it is how much I'm sitting and staring at computer screens, all. frappin. day. But....last week I got a second computer monitor - it basically changed my life.

Is that sad that I got so excited about getting a second computer screen? Wait, don't answer that.

Anyway, as is customary with most accountants, the months of January through March = busy season = hell. And no, not all accountants are busy during this time because of taxes (as is the common misconception). I'm in financial reporting, therefore my life revolves around a little document known as the 10K, our annual report that we file with the SEC.

When I haven't been sleeping, eating or running - it has been all 10K, all the time. So I was a little suprised when the following exchange took place at the gym this morning:

Co-worker (who just happens to also be Sal's boss): Hey, how is the 10K going?

Me: mean the 10 miler?

Co-worker: No, I mean the 10K.

Me: But, we did the 10K back at Thanksgiving, now we're training for the 10 miler.

Co-worker: No, the work document...that you've been staying late for and working on every day. Our year-end financial statements.

Me: Ohhhh....that 10K - yeah it's coming along.

Oy vey...I need a vacay,

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Love Birds Day

Happy Valentine's Day, folks! Hope you all had a fantastic weekend. Liv + I spent the weekend with our long lost friend Tess (read: we ate and drank A LOT. Sorry liver).

We managed to squeeze in a not-so-hot 6 mile run on Saturday - I tried my darndest but couldn't ever seem to kick my feet into gear. It didn't help that I woke up on the wrong side of the bed on Saturday (for no reason in particular). Thankfully, I have a very forgiving running buddy. 

And though it may not be my proudest moment (and I can't believe I'm openly confessing this), Liv + I caught some Bieber Fever yesterday. I wasn't exactly his biggest fan going into the flick (considering I'm over the age of 13 and all), but I have to say, the kid got skillz. And I'm now just as smitten as can be with that floppy-haired teenage heartthrob (but not in a creepy way... I think). 

So with zero regard for age-appropriate behavior, today's Musical Monday is a shameless plug to buy the Biebernator's new album that came out today, Never Say Never: The Remixes. Check it out on iTunes... and just try to resist his boyish charm:

1. “Never Say Never” featuring Jaden Smith
2. “That Should Be Me” featuring Rascal Flatts
3. “Somebody To Love” featuring Usher
4. “Up” featuring Chris Brown
5. “Overboard” (Live Version) featuring Miley Cyrus
6. “Runaway Love” featuring Kanye West & Raekwon
7. “Born To Be Somebody” 

¡Oh, and montón de gracias to Calle Sin Salida for this little gem of a photo! Missing my love bird today ;) 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coach Jenny's Treadmill Desk

Liv + I have had an unhealthy girl crush on Coach Jenny ever since I had the pleasure of working alongside her on the Health/Cooking Light Ship Shape Cruise. Jenny came onboard the cruise to teach running, stretching and fitness gear seminars while interacting with Health and Cooking Light's readers on a personal level. Her patience was astounding - especially as I raced around the ship like a mad woman overreacting to little issues here and there that seem laughably insignificant nowadays. 

She was also delightfully encouraging to Liv + me, casually pushing us to turn our morning walks around the ship deck into morning runs. I nearly jumped overboard when I realized that she is married to the Penguin, because his book, The Courage to Start, was my inspiration to train for the half marathon I ran in 2007 (after which I never ran again. Whoops).

And then, to truly solidify our obsession with Jenny, she was sweet enough to send some signed copies of her awesome books on training, along with a Nike i-pod toboggan thing that has come in very handy this winter.  

Sal + Liv with Coach Jenny. God, that carpet still makes me dizzy.
All in all, we've always thought Jenny is the But she just made us even slightly more obsessed (you should probably start feeling uncomfortable now, Jenny. You just might find us peering into your window at night) with this video. We can't even wrap our heads around how amazing this would be. And we're heavily considering forwarding this to our CEO because he's actually the kind of boss that just might go for it. Well, maybe if we weren't crammed like sardines into our cubes. But maybe one day (sigh). 

And yes, I know what some of you are thinking. Considering this little treadmill incident, it probably isn't the best idea for me. But a girl can dream. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Foodie Friday: Back at it

Neither the hubster nor I know exactly where this little cooking magazine came from, but the point is, it showed up. It's called Cousine at Home, and it's awesome. It has zero ads, just 100% cooking. The great thing about this magazine is that each of the recipes lists the amount of calories and other nutrition facts per serving. So what did I cook from this magazine first? Old-world greek chicken roulades with a side of creamy feta & sun-dried tomato orzo. Another great thing about this recipe; serving size = 2.

It's not that I haven't been cooking all of 2011, it's more that I haven't been cooking so healthy in 2011. As I'm sure you'll learn through my future complaining ramblings, the months of January through basically April are what I call my "busy season." Which results in later nights at the office and easy-to-cook (read: not always the healthiest) dinners. But this week I'm back at it with something that was yummy and healthy to boot.

For the Greek Chicken Roulades with white-wine reduction:

12 pitted kalamata olives, divided
3 Tbsp. fresh bread crumbs
3 Tbsp mined oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1 Tbsp minced lemon zest
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (magazine recommends 6oz each in weight for the chicken breasts so they'll be big enough to hold the filling when pounded thin and rolled. I didn't actually know this before I purchased my chicken, I don't think they were a complete 6 ounces and it turned out just fine.)
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. corn starch

Start by dicing 6 olives; set aside. Process remaining 6 olives, bread crumbs, tomatoes, zest, garlic and oregano in a food processor until minced.

Pound the chicken between plastic wrap to a thickness of 1/4 inch (or whatever seems thin enough to you, I definitely didn't get out my ruler to measure). Spread olive-tomato filing on chicken. Roll chicken; secure with toothpicks.

Saute the roulades in oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 4 minutes (pretty sure I browned for longer than that). Remove roulades to a plate. Add onion to skillet; saute 2 minutes. Add wine; cook until liquid is reduced by half, 1-2 minutes.

Add broth; Bring mixture to a boil; add diced olives and roulades.

Cover the skillet and reduce heat. Simmer roulades 10 minutes; remove roulades to a plate. Whisk together lemon juice and cornstarch; stir into sauce in skillet. Simmer 1 minute. Slice roulades; serve with sauce.

Per serving nutrition facts of chicken with sauce: 389 cal; 10g total fat; 102mg chol; 770mg sodium; 19g carb; 45g protein; 3mg iron; 64mg calcium

Creamy Orzo with feta & sun-dried tomatoes:
Start boiling the pasta before making the roulades, then finish the orzo dish while the chicken simmers.

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup dry orzo pasta
2 Tbsp. minced oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
2 Tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
1/8 tsp. each kosher salt and black pepper

Bring broth to a boil in a small saucepan; stir in orzo. Return liquid to a boil. Cook orzo, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed, about 9 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir tomatoes and feta into orzo, mixing until feta melts slightly. Season the orzo mix
ture with salt and pepper.

Per serving nutirtion facts: 293 cal; 5g total fat; 16mg chol; 424mg sodium; 47g carb; 13g protein; 2mg iron; 87mg calcium.

I pretty much followed the directions to a T, except I added a teaspoon of capers to the chicken...because capers are amaze-balls.

Also, when creating the lemon juice, cornstarch mixture, I didn't really measure the lemon juice to ensure I was only using 1 tablespoon. I just used the juice of one whole lemon, and because of that I feel like the sauce might have been a touch too lemony.

Big fan of Cousine At Home. I've already cooked another successful meal from this issue and I will share it next Friday.

PS - I took a picture of the completed dish...but lets face it, I need a lesson in plating and in food photography - thus, I defer to the picture from the magazine.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Willpower...I Needs It

Conspiracy theory: my co-worker is trying to make me fat. No seriously, at most places of business it's typical to have to skirt around treats at certain times: Halloween, basically from the end of November through December, and maybe Valentine's as well. For me it is an on-going battle.

Conspiracy theory aside, my co-worker is an awesome baker. And I am pretty sure know her true motives are that she loves to bake, she's extremely giving, and well....who would stop her from bringing in yummy treats?

Let me just provide you with a sampling of what I'm faced with. It's like cruel and usual punishment, except without the punishment because I've never passed any of it up.

Most recently it was a butter cake. Yep, you read that right - a but-ter cake! As in, I'm pretty sure butter exists in almost all baked goods, however, this particular good just happens to be named after it. You know what else is in it? Cream cheese and powdered sugar. It's huh-mazing.

Liv: 0 Butter Cake: 2 (because I had to have two for breakfast and the other after lunch. Don't look at me like that! It was sitting right behind me all day, that's why.)

Prior to that, it was Halloween Oreo Pumpkin cheesecakes.

Liv - 0 Oreo cheesecakes - 1

Several times it has been what we have affectionately dubbed "chip cookies." As in she makes your typical cookie, sometimes regular sometimes with an oatmeal base, and then throws in every sort of "chip" from her pantry: ie, chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, etc. She even made me a holiday version with red and green M&Ms. And those, I'm proud to say, I did bring home to share with hubster. Because she's made these at least 3 times, I'm going to estimate: Liv - 0 Chip Cookies - 16

And that's not all, there has been a cheesecake, a red velvet cake, for my birthday she made a melted ice-cream cake.

Like I said, she's extremely giving and always shares. So even when she doesn't bring in a baked treat, if she goes to get herself a little chocolate she always asks if I want a square. Do I say no? Of course not. Who turns down chocolate?

Because of this my body now expects some sort of treat. Every. Day. Right after lunch. Like some sort of inalienable right.

And I'm not proud of what I'm about to tell you here, but two of those recipes....I sent her! Yes I did - because I know she loves to bake, and I don't bake because my husband doesn't love sweets as much as I do so 90% of all baked goods cooked in the Champion household would be eaten by yours truly. Therefore it was a Freudian slip me emailing her those recipes. I definitely didn't do it on purpose.

Something must be done, it has to stop. I'm researching ways to conjure up some willpower. Obi-Wan, Yoda - whomever - please grant me the force.

Until then, I'm off to tell my co-worker what kind of treats I want for V-day, because I kid you not....she. just. asked!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Confessions of a Non-Runaholic

I have to admit, I never really thought “it” would happen.

I’ve listened patiently and pretended to understand what Liv is talking about when she gushes about running. And I’ve pretended to share her excitement as we register for races and meet for our “long” runs. But I haven’t been 100% honest with her (or to this blog).

Since the very beginning, Liv has been the driving force in this pre-training training business. You see, she has a little something called self-discipline. And unfortunately, it’s sort of a foreign concept to me. I have wanted to run a marathon my entire life, but without that key component of self-discipline, well… let’s just say the starting line was never really in sight.

And even now that I’ve committed to the 2011 MCM, I’ve felt constantly discouraged. Liv gets up absurdly early every morning to go to the gym, (almost) always sticks to the training schedule and always manages to run about 2 feet in front of me whenever we run together. She writes posts about “You might be a runner if” and talks about spending her bonus money on running gear, while I’ve been focused on things like Groundhog Day, musical playlists and my unyielding hatred for treadmills. Basically, I’ve been in survival mode. I’ve been attempting to trick Liv into thinking that I’m equally excited about this whole running business to buy myself time until I can casually pull an Irish goodbye and hope she never notices. Sorry Liv.

But here's the good news: thanks to my extremely demanding (and sometimes obnoxious) overachiever of a running partner, I haven’t yet found the opportunity to quit. And following my run on Sunday, I no longer want to.

No matter how much (or little) I’ve run in the past, it has always felt like a chore. It has been something I have to endure for 30 minutes until I’m done. I’ve dreaded every. single. step. I’ve listened to and read about those folks that can’t wait to go for a run and feel like a million bucks afterwards, but frankly, I’ve always felt those "runaholics" were slightly off-their-rockers.

But all of that changed this weekend.

There was nothing particularly unusual about the run, though the warmer weather certainly helped. And I didn’t keep an impressive pace or run a long distance (though for me, it might as well have been a marathon). And come to think of it, I actually felt pretty terrible afterwards because I forgot to stretch and I didn’t drink nearly enough water. But even so, I loved it.

And then I was sad that the next day was a “rest day” because I couldn’t wait to run again. And when I finally did go for another run yesterday morning, it didn’t go so well. I had to go to the bathroom so badly the whole time that I actually considered popping a squat in front of the Veep’s mansion, but ultimately decided that the Secret Service would probably catch me in the act. And yet, I’m still just as excited to run tomorrow.

So… I guess this is “it.” I guess this is what a “runner’s high” is all about. I wouldn’t know from experience – after all, I’m new to this runaholics club (and I'm not really a full card-carrying member just yet) – but I’m rather stoked to finally understand what it’s all about. No doubt that I’ll still have TONS of bang-ups and hang-ups. And there will be plenty of days ahead when I’ll be tempted to take a cheap shot at Liv to get out of running, but I feel like I can finally see it all coming together now. And that starting line is ever-so-slightly coming into view.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Just a Dedicated Musical Monday

This playlist is dedicated to a certain Runaway who recently returned from two of the longest weeks ever in The Caves of Patagonia. While his Girlfriend did not find his absence particularly Easy, she is most certainly relieved that his Escape was short-lived - and that he returned home in one piece.

So as you Wake Up in summery Santiago on the rock-hard Ottoman you call a bed, think of those of us in the Northern Hemisphere shivering in this snowy mess of a town we call home.

And because I can think of no other logical way to incorporate this song into my shameless stretch of a tribute, this one goes out especially to you: Fader

For those that didn't quite follow the above (which would be perfectly understandable), here is the playlist in a slightly more user-friendly format:
  1. The Cave - Mumford & Songs
  2. Fader - The Temper Trap
  3. Escape - Enrique Iglesias
  4. Easy - Deer Tick
  5. Girlfriend - Phoenix
  6. Ottoman - Vampire Weekend
  7. Runaway - Kanye West
  8. Wake Up - Arcade Fire (for a cool-down)

    Saturday, February 5, 2011

    Footsy Friends: Mikey & the Krispy Kreme Challenge

    I'm beyond excited to introduce today's guest blogger: my recovering meathead of a brother, Mikey Doodle (okay, his name is actually Mike, but why pass up an opportunity to call him an embarrassing family nickname on the World Wide Web?) Mikey oh-so-bravely challenged the elements today by stepping out into this rainy mess of a day and putting his insides through complete and utter torture - all for the thrill of the Krispy Kreme Challenge. I'm proud to announce (though I'm not sure if I should be) that Mikey successfully ran 4.8 miles with a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts in his belly. And being the sweet brother that he is (and because he knew his whiny little sister wouldn't let him off the hook without a fight), he offered to share with SFOF a little bit about the battle of man vs. donut...

    Saturday mornings are great. You sleep a little longer, eat a little more breakfast, take a little more time getting your day started. You know what makes Saturdays even better? How about when it’s raining, cold and dark out and you wake up realizing this and rollover for that extra (at LEAST) hour of sleep. Those conditions just so happen to make my Saturday morning. However, THIS Saturday looked nothing like the Saturday we all know and love. This Saturday I had to get up at 6:30, bundle up in four layers of racing gear, lace up the Mizunos, and drive 30 minutes to the campus of NC State to join 7,500 other sugar enthusiasts for the 7th annual Krispy Kreme challenge.

    Having arrived a little early I danced around the bell tower waiting on my friends, all the while getting heavier and heavier by the minute as the rain continued to fall and soak through my layers. Despite the 35 degrees, the scene is surprisingly full of life, with sightings of gorilla man, Mario and Luigi, bikini girl, and many others, all trying to stay dry before they embark on perhaps the worst decision of their life.

    My friends show up just before the start of the race and we go get in line as racers dart off. We hadn’t planned ahead of time who was running with whom, so I had to make a quick decision on how much I wanted to torture myself. Group A, two 6’7” guys who just so happen to be very athletic, or Group B, two girls, my height and probably my pace. Naturally I choose the daddy long leg group and I was already a half-mile into the race before I could process what a bad decision that was.

    We dart through the crowded streets, jumping through and around puddle after puddle, inching our way closer and closer to infamous mid-way point. (side note: Much to my dismay the race is not the 4 mile race it claims to be. For some reason they market it as four, when it’s actually 4.77. That can be very disheartening when you had garnered the courage over the previous few months to take on this 4 mile eat/run challenge.) We’re probably trucking at a 7:45 pace or so, and I’m feeling pretty good despite the conditions.

    We finally turn the corner and off in the distance I can see the green and red sign. I shudder. I think I see it flicker its lights at me in a taunting gesture. We get closer and luckily (for me) it’s backed up and I can regain my breath. Like a herd of cattle they push us through a tunnel of tables covered in donut boxes that are covered with sheets of plastic. Must be saving the dense donuts for the slow pokes, I tell myself.

    Mikey starting to feel the pain
    And then it happens. A volunteer passes me the box of doom. It’s time. Me vs. the dirty dozen. Runner vs. eater. Lactic acid vs. saturated fat. It’s on.

    (another side note: While it makes complete sense, the “hot and fresh” you’re picturing when you sign up for this race is never found. I so badly wanted to drop inside the store and grab my dozen right off the conveyor belt and let the donuts melt in my mouth. No, these were cold and not fresh. Given they were baking 60,000 donuts, I forgave KK).

    As we walk to find the best eating spot, I open the box and pull out #1, squeezing the life out of it with my hand. Not too bad. I can do this. Next I grab out #2 and 3 together, smushing them into a fist full of goodness. Three down, I can definitely do this. #4, 5, and 6 together next. I start to slow down. After barely finishing those I’m at the half way point. HALF WAY. I have to eat what I just ate all over again. #7, 8, 9 come out together and I mash them together as well, deep down hoping to crush their morale and subsequently their ability to wage war on my stomach. It wasn’t working. KK had turned the table and was fighting back with a vengeance.

    Each bite takes longer and longer. I try talking to my friends around me to take my mind off the battle that I’m losing. I find some water to wash some of the sugar down my throat, some of the 264 grams of carb I have eaten. Time to grab #10, 11, and 12. I’m literally feeling dizzy, seeing a couple of stars. Painfully, I take a bite and then another. My buddies are about ready to go. I grab my empty box for proof and the last half of my 3-donut stack and we start walking towards the gate. I have my first gag reflex. I really don’t know if I can get the last few bites down but I tell myself I have to! I can’t tell people I ate all 12 if I throw the last little bit on the ground. I show the volunteers my empty box and start back on the run, grasping the remaining nugget of donut in my sugar glazed hands.

    Mikey and the Daddy Long Legs
    Over the next mile I take little nibbles of it, wishing it would just go away. With about a mile and half left to race my nugget is finally gone and I move back to the other challenge at hand. Running mostly uphill, through the now heavier rain, with a stomach full of 240 grams of fat (60 saturated). Not a minute into the return trip, group daddy long legs had left me in the dust, err, mud. My focus on finishing the race and keeping the food internal makes the world around me quiet. I can hear my heart, more confused than it’s ever been. Blood to muscles or blood to digestive system? You can’t have both Mike!

    My calves start to feel the blood depletion with cramps trickling down both sides. But I am determined to make it and I have to get it under an hour, as that is what the official challenge rules require. Surprisingly, I had not seen any yackers yet. Rumor had it that an average of 25% of the competition would not hold it in. Focused on not being part of that statistic, I chug up the hill, in the zone, towards the finish line. 

    Finally I can hear the music and see the light at the end of the tunnel. I endure the final half-mile and cross through the finish line, stomach fully intact with 8 or 9 minutes to spare. I made it. A few minutes later I contemplate an upchuck, but decide against it.

    After watching a few more waves of people cross the finish line, I headed back home to a relaxing, hot bath. After 2400 calories (1,320 from fat), 144 grams of fat, 60 mg of cholesterol, 13,680 mg of sodium, 264 grams of carbs, and a whopping 24 grams of protein my morning was complete. Krispy Kreme, better luck next time.

    Friday, February 4, 2011

    Run Across America

    Yesterday, "Live! with Regis and Kelly" announced a new partnership with renowned ultra-marathon runner Dean Karnazes to run across America to "encourage and challenge Americans, young and old, to get active and even join him to run as he crosses the country." He'll start at Disneyland in Cali and finish in NYC, running about 40 to 50 miles a day for nearly 75 days. 

    The whole shebang benefits Action for Healthy Kids - which is awesome - but I can't help but question the way this thing is set-up. If its purpose is to truly "inspire everyday people to make small steps toward big changes in their overall health and wellness," then is Dean really the best teacher? There is nothing "everyday" or "normal" about Dean. It seems you can't go anywhere without hearing Dean's story about how he first started running: sitting drunk in a bar on his 30th birthday, he decided his life was no longer fulfilling and he took off running for 30 miles (sobering up around mile 15). That is not the makings of a normal human being. He then proceeded to take on (for a hefty sum) all types of running challenges: running 48 hours straight on a treadmill (eww), running 350 miles without sleeping, running a marathon to the South Pole, and his 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days thing. 

    By no means do I mean to belittle what Dean does. There's no question that he's a super human. But frankly, I've just never been his biggest fan. A lot of it has to do with his famed 50 marathon bit. You see, I had a college buddy, Sam Thompson, who completed 51 marathons (he decided to add on DC just for fun) in 50 states (plus the District) in 50 days - all for the purpose of raising awareness for Katrina victims. Sam traveled the country with the help of his now-wife, a few family members here and there, and any friends (I ran with him a wee little bit in Birmingham and Memphis... and then watched him eat an entire pig at the Bar-B-Q Shop afterwards) that wanted to join him along the way. 

    Meanwhile, Dean had (in my opinion) an overly-commercialized build-up to his 50 in 50  in 50 start date (he literally talked it up for months before he ever took a single step) and even charged folks to run alongside him. When people asked Dean what he thought about Sam already finishing his marathon tour, Dean replied, "He obviously wants to scoop me." And I could be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure the only beneficiary of his trek was North Face (though I should also mention that Sam also picked up a North Face sponsorship along the way).

    But even if I leave the past in the past (because I'm pretty sure Sam never cared about any of the above and always felt there was plenty of room for the both of them), I just think it's a little odd that, from what I can tell, folks will have to pay to run alongside Dean in Regis & Kelly's Run Across America. I understand that the money is benefiting a great cause, but wouldn't it be even cooler (and maybe make a bit more sense) if this was more of a Forrest Gump concept? If the purpose of this is to truly inspire everyday people, then I feel like the best way to do that would be to encourage anyone and everyone - regardless of whether or not they can pay to run with Dean. 

    There is no doubt in my head - not to mention a library full of medical evidence - that what Dean is doing to his body is unhealthy and unnatural. Sanjay himself said (about Sam), ""He's not going to have enough time for recovery between these runs. So he's going to be damaging already significantly damaged joints. There's a really good chance that he will suffer irreversible damage." Though it is highly unlikely that most of the participants in the Run Across America intend to really become "the next Dean," I think it's important that Regis & Kelly also highlight the risks of what Dean is doing. After all, this is all supposed to encourage "overall health and wellness." 

    With all of that said, I'm glad Reg & Kel are using their star power to rally the nation around fitness (though they didn't mention whether or not they'll actually be running. I'm guessing beanee-weenee-belly-button Kelly will. Doubtful about the Reg though). 

    Dean's trek will be making its way through the District toward the end of his Run Across America, so despite my rant above, we just might join him along the way... if we can afford it, that is. 

    Happy Trails,