Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's not you, it's me.

Dear Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola Companies,

I regret to inform you of a decision that has recently been made that may affect your revenue and bottom-line projections for the foreseeable future. Despite being an avid supporter and frequent customer of your diet beverages for the past fourteen years (and of your non-diet beverages for years before that), I have decided to go a different direction with my life, or at least, the beverage drinking aspects of my life.

It's not you, it's me. I hope you believe me when I say that I have the utmost respect for you and what you offer to the public. Long have I defended you against the slanderous cries of naysayers on health-themed witch hunts. Long have I refused to put stock in the rumors perpetrated against that sweet sweet aspartame.

More than once have I turned towards your products in a time of need looking for comfort and consolation, and they did not disappoint. You've always been there for me, but I'm afraid that I can't be there for you anymore.

The simple truth of the matter is that I just love your sodas too much. I can't get enough of them. To quote Singin' in the Rain, if I may, "All I do is dream of you the whole night through. With the dawn, I still go on dreaming of you. You're every thought, you're everything, you're every song I ever sing. Summer, Winter, Autumn, and Spring."

I love them so much that it hurts. Sometimes literally, sometimes not. Sometimes to the point where I get frequent headaches - either from not drinking any water and being dehydrated or from going a day without soda and suffering from caffeine withdrawal. Other times, just so far as to make any excuse to get myself a soda - usually resulting in me buying fast food meals that I don't particularly want just because I didn't have any sodas at home.

I've grown dependent on those cans and bottles and have finally realized that that's an unhealthy relationship to be in.

And so, after much deliberation and soul-searching, I think it would be best for me to cut my ties completely.

Someday, maybe, I'll be able to reintroduce your delicious beverages into my life again without going overboard, but for the time being, I think it's safest if I kept my distance.

I'll miss you.



P.S. Don't worry, in all likelihood, I'll be back soon.

Do you have any not-actually-that-terrible vices that you're trying to give up? Have you questioned why Dr. Pepper and Coca-Cola would read a letter together? Is there any situation in life to which Singin' in the Rain doesn't pertain?

And for your entertainment, the youtube clip of the aforementioned song from Singin' in the Rain.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The 2012 Tour Des Fleurs 10k/20k

As you may recall, a little over a month ago, I re-embarked on a Couch-to-5k program that would get me ready for the Great Taco Run. Well, what better way to train for a 5k than by running a 10k?

What's that, you say? Running a 10k as part of my training for a 5k is a dumb plan? Well, I couldn't agree more... but I did it anyway! How could I pass up an opportunity to race on a lake-side course through an arboretum?! Can you imagine a prettier run?! More importantly, I got to register for free because my company is a corporate sponsor of the Arboretum! It really was a no-brainer. Obviously, I just had to sign up for the annual Tour Des Fleurs!

I knew that I wouldn't be able to run the whole thing, so rather than push myself too hard, I just used the race as further motivation to keep up with my fitness/training regimen.

Which is different from a fitness regiment, as pictured here
(and discussed in this article).
On the night before, however, I felt that it was crucial to prepare as best as I could:
First, I drank lot of soda. Then, I helped my sister make cookies. I then ate a large steak, as most athletes do, and followed it up
with a bunch of birthday sweets (for my brother-in-law's birthday). After dinner, I went home and began assembling a playlist to listen to during
the race, and did some hard core research on running 10k races. What kind of research? Well, I watched the episode of the New Girl where Zooey Deschanel ran a 10k, then the episode of Up All Night where they all ran a 10k, and because I wasn't finished assembling my playlist, ended the evening watching the race episode of the New Girl again. 

After that, I was terrified that my race would be like this...

Maya Rudolph and Megan Mullaly seem so unhappy.
Up All Night
or worse, like this...

Being dragged across a finish line while I shout "MY SHOES
ARE FILLED WITH BLOOD" is unfortunately the only way I
could probably have anything in common with Zooey Deschanel
... other than the bangs, of course.
The New Girl
Despite my nerves, I actually got a pretty good night's sleep (like, at least five hours or something), woke up early, and made it to the race with plenty of time to spare. There, I met up with my co-worker, Robert, and headed towards the starting line.

Because Robert is a much more experienced runner than I am, he was giving me some of the tips that he uses during races (pace myself, listen to music, hydrate, etc.). Then, we started talking about our goals for the race. His goal was to beat his time from last year. My goal was to not cry. Well, that's what I said, at least. My real goals were to run at least two of the miles (which is what Maddy and I did at my most successful race - the Hot Chocolate Run) and to finish in less than an hour and a half. 

After turning on my brand spankin' new playlist (which is pretty fantastic and includes such hits as "Josie and the Pussycats" by Josie and the Pussycats and "Snakes on a Plane" by Cobra Starship) and stashing my phone in my fanny pack (I'm pretty cool), I counted down with everyone else and started running.

As I crossed the start line and passed the drum-line from a nearby high school's marching band, I already felt tired and was just certain that this run was going to be terrible, but after a few minutes, everything got easier (maybe warming up actually is important)! I kept running, right past a trio that had set up and was playing music for us, with an aim of running the first mile without stopping. As I approached the mile marker, I realized that I still felt pretty great and decided to keep running. Before I knew it, I had run the first two miles without stopping (I'm kidding, I was painfully aware of how far I'd run without stopping the entire time -
but I did get two miles before slowing to a walk). Once I saw that Mile 2 marker, nothing could keep a smile off my face. I decided right then that even if I ended up not being able to run another step and had to crawl across the finish line, I would call this race a success.

I recovered pretty quickly while I was walking, but I didn't want to push myself too much, so I decided to walk the rest of the third mile. While doing that, I took the opportunity to live-tweet my progress (but since I don't actually have a Twitter account, this involved just texting Hannah), and took some blurry pictures with my phone!

Here are a bunch of runners ahead of me!
And here are the runners that were so far ahead of me that
they were already looping back!
I was very impressed with this lady who was participating
in an athletic wheel-chair. She must have arms of steel!
Her friend's mobile elliptical bike was pretty cool, too.

Then we hit this... why there is a traffic jam in the middle of
a 10k course, I have absolutely no idea.

Anyway, I had decided to start running again at the fourth mile, which, to my utter dismay, started halfway up a terribly steep hill. Once again, when I started running, it was very difficult. I didn't think I'd be able to go much farther before slowing to a walk, but much like at the beginning of the race, I was fine after a few minutes. So fine, in fact, that when I hit the start of the fifth mile (where I had planned on slowing to a walk again), I kept running and didn't slow down for another mile! That's four miles of running so far that day!

I will admit, though, that I was running at a very slow pace (roughly 12.5 minutes/mile), which meant that anyone who was running at all could pass me. Some people even went so far as to pass me at least ten times. It's actually kind of funny, Robert had told me that morning that one of his tricks it to pick someone out in the crowd and make it his goal to pass them. If he then slowed his pace and his target passed him back, he would redouble his efforts. I'm pretty sure that is what this one girl was doing to me, because it seemed like she was always either walking or passing me for about a mile and a half of the race. Don't worry, in the end, I finished ahead of her (maybe... I don't actually know).

I slowed to a walk again at mile 6. After recovering a bit, I heard music ahead through the trees. "It must be the finish line music," I thought to myself as I sped up to a run. Unfortunately, much like at the Firefly Run, I was tricked into thinking it was the home stretch. The music I heard was only that trio that I mentioned earlier playing a cover of the Kinks! But oh well, even though the finish line was considerably farther away than I had thought it was, I kept running until the end. Eventually, I reached the real finish line in under an hour and a half! And up the hill to the after party I went.

And what an after party it was! It'll never cease to amaze me how much unhealthy food they cram into fitness-themed after parties. I decided to partake in a complementary slice of pizza from the Pizza Hut booth...

This is what fitness looks like.
... and some froyo from the I Heart Yogurt tent.

The Arboretum is featuring a Chihuly exhibit
for a few months!
I then pocketed (or fanny-packed) a chocolate-chip cookie from Tiff's Treats, decided to forego the apples and bananas, and left to meet up with my friend Mark for a post-race brunch!

The Results: Way better than I expected!

Total Race Time - 1:28:21
Place - 1268 out of 1393 (top 91.03%)
Total Time Spent Running - 1 hour and 2 minutes (previous record - 30 minutes)
Longest Time spent Running Continuously - 25 minutes (previous record - 15 minutes)
Total Distance Run - roughly 4.5 miles (previous record - 2 miles)
Farthest distance run continuously - 2 miles (previous record - just over 1 mile)

I may have come in the bottom 10%, but I'm pretty excited that I almost doubled all of my previous records for running.

The Aftermath:
Oh gee whiz! I was extremely sore Saturday evening (poor Teddy Westside had to deal with me complaining a lot)... then I slept most of Sunday! But all in all, I'm no worse for the wear, a little more prepared for my upcoming 5k.

Are you ever surprised by the sheer amount of junk food at fitness events? What do you do to prepare for races? Do you like my very stylish fanny-pack?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I like to run at night for many reasons:

  1. I dislike the sunlight. Not in the way that a vampire or emo kid dislikes the sunlight - I won't turn to ash, sparkle, or write bad poetry because of it - but in the way that a fair-skinned girl who gets overheated way too easily dislikes the sunlight. I like when the sunlight keeps things alive and well-lit, but not when it causes me to be even slightly (sunlightly?) uncomfortable.
  2. The streets and sidewalks are less crowded. The vast majority of exercisers are out during the day, leaving me free to roam the night (again, not like a vampire).
  3. It's usually my best bet at free-time. If I could ever get up early enough, I'd probably like morning running as well, but I don't. My mornings are usually spent over-sleeping, and I tend to overbook myself in the evenings. As a result, sometimes, the only time I can run at all is at night.
  4. Bunnies.

In my neighborhood, there are so many bunnies, and I only see them when I'm running at night! My guess is that they're at least semi-nocturnal or something, but as I know absolutely nothing about animals, I'm probably making that up. Hannah would know, she knows a ton about animals. Google would also know, probably. I don't plan on consulting either and will continue to speculate wildly (I also assume that they have laser eyes and all are Wiccan).

They're so cute. With each bunny I see, my run improves exponentially (not my skill at running, just the running experience in general). I've seen some other animals, too (a possum and a rat!), but they're significantly less cute. Even the family of cats I come across regularly can't compare to bunnies.

My favorite part is that they'll see me coming and hop away to avoid me. But much like how cartoon characters never to veer off the tracks when trying to outrun a train, the bunnies will hop along the sidewalk right in front of me for a while not understanding why I'm following them... thus maximizing the duration of my bunny-watching. They're so cute.

Here are a bunch of pictures from the Google Image search I just did for bunnies! Yay!

And just because... here is one of a duckling!

Photo courtesy of my friend at Walquist Photography.
Check out her Facebook page!
UPDATE - Teddy Westside sent me this very relevant youtube clip that I think we all need to see.

So really, what's the deal with bunnies... are they nighttime creatures or are these encounters flukes?

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Last Friday, I finally decided to redeem my Groupon for 10 yoga classes, just in time for National Yoga Month (which was totally planned and not just because I realized on Thursday that the Groupon in question was set to expire this week).

Knowing that I should probably start small (and because I wanted to cram in as many classes as I could before my punch-card expired), I went to the studio's Stress-Less Yoga class right after work. By the end of the class, I realized why yoga was so great... it is the only type of exercise that you can fall asleep during and it be okay. Because it was the toned-down stress-less class, about two-thirds of the class were spent doing pretty easy stretches and breathing exercises. For the last third of class, though, we were instructed to sit comfortably against a wall, close our eyes, and meditate. "Breathe deeply, in and out," our instructor said, "and with each breath, count backwards from 108." I have no idea why she chose 108, but if you've ever tried to close your eyes and count backwards, especially after a long day at work, you know how easy it is to completely zone out. I lost my place more than a few times. Also, just to be clear, when I say that I lost my place and zoned out, I really mean that I fell asleep. In my defense, counting backwards with closed eyes is one of the first tricks I ever learned to help me fall asleep. Mix that with my tendency to not get enough sleep regularly, and it's really no surprise that an unexpected nap was the outcome. But that's the beauty of yoga. If I fell asleep weight lifting or riding a bicycle, it would end very poorly, but yoga is different.

I've gone to three more classes since then (Core & More, Beginner Yoga, and Morning Yoga), and am happy to report that I was actually able to stay awake through the entirety of one of them!

The Core & More class that I went to on Saturday was not at all what I was expecting. It wasn't so much a yoga class but an overall strength and fitness class. We did ab work, leg work, more ab work, light weight lifting, stretching, and a little bit more ab work. Our instructor ended the class by having us "hold a plank position for just a minute, because I'll go easy on you this week" (which is why I was unable to fall asleep this time). It was brutal. We did wall sits, bridges, and those sit ups where you keep transferring a ball between your feet and your hands (but with a foam brick instead). About halfway through, I realized that going on an extra long run/walk beforehand was probably a bad plan (but good news, I had finished up Week 4 in the Couch-To-5K program). It was awesome, though. Even if I had trouble with all of the moves, I felt so powerful (albeit drained) afterwards. After class ended, despite being exhausted, I decided to stay for the next class as well, Beginner Yoga.

I was very excited about Beginner Yoga, as it would be the first to involve actual yoga poses and would teach me some basic technique. We didn't do anything very advanced or difficult (obviously, because it was the beginner class), but I learned a lot about proper form and such. Apparently, they focus on a different thing each week, and the focus of that class was our thighs. Throughout all of our poses, we were supposed to imagine our thighs rolling inward or something. If I'm being honest, that imagery kind of creeped me out. At best, I could only picture moving skin rolls, and as my mind wandered more (as it's apt to do), I started picturing weird waterfalls or gelatin or amorphos blobs that would have the ability to make their actual legs roll away. It was just a little disturbing to me (don't worry, I realize that that's not normal and that most people would have a less worrysome reaction). But anyway, once I got over that, I realized that telling us to "roll our thighs inward" was basically the instructors way of making sure we kept our hips squared at all times. By literally shifting our legs to move our thighs inward, we square our hips. It took almost an entire class of me picturing ridiculous things and getting weirded out by those mental images to figure out such a simple concept. Once I realized that, everything made so much more sense! My tendency to shift my hips is probably one of the reasons doing yoga at home never really worked for me. Keeping your hips squared helps increase your flexibility and stability, and also makes your core stronger. Who knew? After working on these poses for a while, our instructor then had us lie down on our mats so that we could do some yoga thing with a term I couldn't understand and didn't bother asking about. She turned on soft music and told us to close our eyes. As predicted, I fell asleep. This time I fell asleep hard enough to have actual dreams (where Teddy Westside, Regina Phalange, and I were playing Settlers of Catan). Regardless, even though I probably looked like Liz Lemon after her first week of yoga, the instructor was very supportive and encouraging and kept me motivated throughout the class.

Here she is showing off her Downward Dog.

The last class I did was on Tuesday (and since my punch-card expired on Wednesday, it was the last I would get out of that Groupon). It was at the unreasonably early hour of 5:30AM. Considering that I am usually late to work because I can't drag myself out of bed until 7:30, a mere half hour before work is supposed to start, I'm surprised I was actually able to make it. Despite the hour, though, this class was awesome. It was more crowded than I would have expected for 5:30, but not so crowded that I couldn't pick out a spot with plenty of room. Also, because the instructor didn't know me and I was obviously new to yoga, she gave me a lot of help getting my form right for all the poses. This was an all-levels class, so it was a bit more difficult than the beginner class on Saturday, and it was fantastic. Obviously, there were some poses I couldn't quite do yet (like when she wanted us to do hand stands against the wall), but for each move, she knew of modifications to fit any expertise level. We ended the class by lying down on our mats with our eyes closed while the instructor turned off the lights at 6:15 in the morning (it's like they're daring us to not fall asleep). I really liked that the class got me up and ready for the day. I left the studio and got back to my apartment a full 45 minutes before I would have usually woken up. As a result, I was actually early for work! I tried going back yesterday, but ended up sleeping through my alarm. Alas!

I would really like to continue with yoga. Now that my Groupon is up, I may even get a membership.

Have you ever tried yoga? How early do you get up in the mornings? Is it bad that when I would do yoga at home, I decided to not care about the breathing and stuff and instead ate M&Ms while mid-pose?