Sunday, June 29, 2014

Giving and Getting

Obviously, the vast majority of my logged miles when I run are "selfish," in that they are for my health, wellness and fitness. I arrange things with friends (and even turned down a hike today with a cute new guy...he can wait) around my running. I don't feel guilty about this; running is important to me for a lot of reasons. I'll even argue 'til I'm purple that it actually keeps me mentally healthy.

But yesterday, I found out about a free app for iPhone called Charity Miles. It's simple: choose a charity from their list, choose your activity (running, walking, biking), and then, for every mile you go, a donor company will donate money. It's ten cents per mile of biking, 25 cents per mile of running.

As I set off this morning, I set the app to "go" mode (I chose Girl Up for the charity) and let it go as I walked my warm-up, ran 8.28 miles, and then walked 1.67 miles home after. In all of this, I got 10.25 miles total, and, according to the app, that is 10.25 weeks of school--I'm sure for one girl. There are various companies that give the money raised by people using the app. It seems like an all-around cool deal, and I certainly hope there's no catch to it.

As for Hiking Dude, we're looking at next weekend as a possibility. It was too hot to hike today, anyway. I had to leave at 6:45 to run before it started baking out there.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

My Week in Instagram (Week #82)

I started off really pic-happy, and lost steam as the week wore on.


Teeny, tiny lizard.

See? Tiny.

Mom and Dad's new patio furniture.

Garden time for Little Miss Spoiled.

I lived in WA for a whole year and didn't know there was
a place called Humptulips. Imagine the sign pictures!!

I watched some World Cup this week. A first.


Hello, office.

On Monday, I set out to put my new stereo equipment

It came with plenty of stress-reducing bubble wrap.

To reward myself for putting the stereo together without
tears, I went to the used book store.

My haul. Five bucks.

Making gift tags.


Between piano lessons, I made some labels.

Well, of course I bought them.


I like green.


Talked to M. the Reasonable about half marathons. Got
home, saw my odometer. It's a sign!! I registered.


Surprisingly overcast morning.

More garden time for Millie. 

Spot the real cat.

Thursday was my last day teaching piano at Fusion.
I'm not particularly sad.

The ribbon aisle at JoAnn is very dangerous.

I bought a heart-shaped punch and went to town on a huge
stack of scrap paper. Confetti!

After six hours of howling for attention, someone finally
got some lap time. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Run Walk Run

In my earliest days of running, about four-and-a-half years ago, G. the Meanie insisted that I only run--no walking. Walking was considered "weak," and my whole attitude towards running was shaped by that mentality. As my running has really developed in the last couple of years, I've had this notion that when I get out there--whether for a 5K, a 10K or more--I should run the whole way. No walking, no stopping.

In my most recent 8-mile run, I did a tiny bit of walking in the middle; I had to pause shortly before Mile 5 to refill my water bottle and I took the opportunity to take some great wildlife pictures before getting on my way. I've been slowly realizing that this is okay--running 8 (or more) miles without staying hydrated is definitely bad, and sometimes a mini-"break" in the middle is actually quite good.

Yesterday, Matt the Reasonable suggested I Google the "run-walk" method, which had me raising one eyebrow and flatly telling him, "My pride dictates that I run the whole thing." Matt's response: "Yeah, but if you give yourself those walking breaks, you will be able to run harder when you are actually running." If anyone else told me to try something with my running, I'd nod, smile, and then do whatever I want, but Matt's advice has always been sound, so last night, I dutifully looked it up, and came across Jeff Galloway's site.

The premise is pretty simple. The walking breaks give your body a quick recovery period, restoring your energy enough that when you run again, you run a little faster than you would have if you'd just run straight through the whole time. It makes sense, but still, this Galloway dude is telling me that to have about a 10-minute mile pace (totally doable for me in a 5K), I need to run three minutes, walk one, repeat.

Wait, what? Who only runs for three minutes? That's wimpy!!

Okay, okay, fine. I'll hear the guy out. He knows more about running than I do, and again, if Matt thinks it's good theory, I'll try it.

So this morning, I set out to run a two-mile course--exactly the same one I ran on Tuesday--figuring I'd give this run-walk thing a go. I'm not quite mentally ready to do a 3/1 ratio, so I set my timing app to do five minutes running, one minute walking.

The results were very telling.

The top run--today's--came in at 20:59, whereas on Tuesday, it took 23:31 to finish. Both days I ran on a mostly-empty stomach (I had energy chews and about 8-10 ounces of water/Gatorade before each run, delaying breakfast 'til after). Obviously, today was two-and-a-half minutes faster than Tuesday, and this was with intervals of walking!

Of course, the walking is power-walking: a long stride, keeping the arms moving. Slowing down too much would mean losing momentum. I actually found the walking to be harder for me than the running, because I walk with a longer stride than I run with. It was odd, switching to walking once I got in a good running groove, but I did notice that when my one minute of walking was up, I was able to spring back into a run and go at a faster pace.

So maybe there is something to this run-walk thing. I might still do some short training runs as all-running, and use this for my longer runs and the half marathon itself. I know I'll definitely try this method on Sunday when I go for my long run.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Half Mad

When I finished my first 10K race in April, a Twitter friend immediately said, "You should go for a half." I scoffed, said something along the lines of "hell no, I'm not a masochist," and went about my day.

The next day at work, I bragged to one of the assistant principals about my successful race. After he congratulated me, he said, "You should do a half marathon now!" Again, I scoffed (and this time, kept my response professional and work-friendly), and went on my way.

So I texted Mr. M. the Reasonable himself, "Two people have told me I should go for a half now." His response, given in person at the gym the next day, was a slightly-evil grin and, "Hey, Meg...I think you should go for a half."

I thought he was on my side.

But the idea was planted. And in the weeks since then, I've decided to go for it, and started increasing my long run mileage (currently at 8.25) and experimenting with ways to stay hydrated while running in the heat. (Step 1: get up really, really, really early).

The original goal was to aim for next Spring--giving me plenty of time to comfortably ease into the idea, but there is a half marathon in Sacramento on October 5th--the Urban Cow. The more I thought about it, the more I realized having a little over three months to go from 8 miles to 13 is really more than enough time. To be sure, I cornered the long-suffering Matt at the gym today and said, "So, do you think I can do a half by October?"

Here's the thing about Matt--I don't think he's capable of being rude. Well, okay, I'm sure he is, but he never has been to me, anyway. The last thing he'll ever do is say, "You're being an idiot," but the look that flashed across his face today was one of supreme patience, and it clearly said, "I'm going to pretend I don't think you're being silly thinking you can't do this" before he smiled calmly and said, "Of course you can."

We got to talking, and he gave me some tips about training mileage. For example, train to 10 miles, not 13. Investigate the run-walk method of training (I've Googled it; it has merit, but changing my mentality to go from run-only to run three minutes, walk one minute, will be really hard for me).  Finally, I said, "It's know I can do this, and here I am, doubting myself."

It's very true. In all the time I've known him, Matt has never once told me I can't do something, and has always helped me find a way to work towards any goal I set. I haven't even paid for training in over two years, but he's still happy to answer endless questions, to offer advice on form, to look at workouts I've made for myself. I should probably tell him more often how much I appreciate him.

Our talk this morning ended with me calling out over my shoulder, "Just keep telling me I can do this!" as I left the aerobics room where we'd been chatting, and being followed out the door with, "You can do this!!" As soon as I got home, I went to the Urban Cow site and took a look--it turns out that the race raises money for several local Cross Country teams, including the team at my dear old Large Suburban High School. Registration for the half is capped, so I figured if I'm going to do it, I might as well fork over the $60 today and have it on my calendar.

And that, my friends, is how I now have an email in my inbox confirming that I will run the Urban Cow Half Marathon on October 5th (all half finishers receive a cowbell, and this delights me to no end. MORE COWBELL!!).

Now, if you need me, I'll be busy researching Jeff Galloway's run-walk method, looking for a handy-dandy hydration belt, or, you know, out there, pounding the pavement.

Bring it on.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

To Tour, Or Not To Tour...A Very Good Question

Whether 'til nobler to keep my savings account intact...

In May, it was announced at Sac Choral that a tentative tour for the summer of 2015 is in the planning stages. I missed the last one, to Italy. When Jim, our president, told us the destination for next summer, I'm not ashamed to admit that little ecstatic moans were coming from the front row of the soprano section.

Destination: Paris and London.

Of course, I've been to both of these grand cities, but here's the draw: I'd get to sing in Notre Dame. And the American Cemetery in London. And St. Paul's Cathedral. It would be a singer's dream, and also my first trip back to dear England in ten years. Ten years!!

I've been slowly, steadily beefing up my savings account over the last couple of years, by adding money every week--yes, every week. A minimum of $10, when times are lean, usually about $20. Sometimes, if I've had a bit of extra money come my way, I put a larger amount in. My bank automatically transfers $25 every pay day. So I've proudly watched that account grow, and I refuse to touch it. It's nice to know that if I need that money--the car breaks down (God forbid), whatever--I've got it. After two years of straight-up unemployment and one year of living on bread crumbs working at Brookfield, watching my savings grow is wonderful.

So I'm reluctant to dip into it.

The payment schedule for tour has been released, and it looks, actually, very doable. The first couple of payments are $200 each, and I can part with that from my paycheck each month without really feeling the burn. It's fewer new outfits or splurges at the bookstore. I can deal. The next payments are$500, and those, too, I could do if I just nip and tuck here and there and put a certain amount aside each month towards that next payment. I have a nice paycheck coming at the end of summer from my summer teaching job. I can sub at the Large Suburban High School (I get nearly $50 for one period of subbing, and people always need period subs). I'm keeping a few private music students, one day a week. I'm selling cards on Etsy, including a ton I've made over the last few days (use the code JULYJOY to get 25% off any purchase of $5 or more!).

So now, I think about it. I'm very, very tempted, for very obvious reasons, to just go for it. Unemployment taught me to live frugally, and I can do that, save money, make payments on the trip, and still keep that precious savings account not only intact, but growing. It will just take a lot of work.

Still, committing to doing it is a Big Deal.

I would love, of course, to see London again, and there's a free day on the itinerary. I could happily skip out on the Thames River Cruise (been there, done that) and take a train out of Liverpool Street to see dear Burnham-on-Crouch for a day, and my friends there.

So we'll see.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

My Week in Instagram (Week #82)

For as lazy as this week has been, I've taken over 40 Instagram pics. A lot from Mom's garden.


For Sunday's 8-miler, I tried some new things for staying

The water bottle helped a lot. I didn't finish the run weaving
like a drunk person.

Walked by the sheeples on my way home.

I like the sheeples.

My parents and I went out for Father's Day dinner, and on
the way home, we drove by the apartment complex where
Mom and Dad met at a party in 1967.

Never far away from her mom.

Getting closer...

That sweet face, though.


I took a deliberate rest day on Tuesday.

And pretty much felt like this all day.

Mom and Dad got solar panels installed.

I worked on lesson plans. (And yes, that is Facebook on
the computer. Everyone needs breaks.)

Done! Next step: inspections, then BOOM. Solar energy.

The garden is looking really, really fabulous.


In cleaning out my uniform closet, I found this stack of
old, out-of-date, never-will-be-used-again stereo equipment.
There was a record player. And a VHS player.

Project 1: Transfer tuxedo pants to trouser hangers. 

Project 2: Haul all that old stereo equipment out to the
e-waste area. I have a new stereo system ready to be
put in my room. : )

My uniform closet, looking amazing, and let me tell you,
the insides of the cupboards are also looking good.

Sunset in Mom's garden.



I found some greeting stickers earlier in the week, so on
Thursday, I got busy making cards for the first time
in ages.

I've been up-cycling (an Etsy-ism) an old Mary Engelbreit
calendar that Mom gave me.

Read this over a couple of days and
thoroughly enjoyed it. Need to see the movie.

Armed and ready for more card-making.

I love playing with color and angles, combining things
that don't seem obvious. 

I made SO many cards in two days. Going to make more

Right before bedtime, someone started getting anxious
for some attention.


Saturday morning race!

I love personalized race bibs.

I found myself back at my Large Suburban High School
for this race.

Sadly, no PR. This week my body has been tired and my
allergies have had me feeling rough. Add some hip and
knee pain caused by neglecting the foam
BUT, I finished in 34:10, which is NOT bad.

Finisher's medal, sweaty runner.