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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Books of January 2017

Oh shoot. I almost forgot my January book round up! Our move is under way and we're currently decluttering, donating, and prepping our house for sale (we don't move for a few weeks). My brain is fried and I'm exhausted. But back to January...

It was my final month of work (11 years at the same place yada yada) and it was mostly filled with backing up files and going away bar outings. Luckily, I got out of town a few times: Athens, OH for a trail ultra documentary (with Devon Yanko) and DC for...things. Alex also went out of town- and got his upcoming job in Bozeman. Beyond travel and work, I ran a few races and somehow managed to keep up on my reading (/audiobook-ing). Without further ado...

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The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
Rating: 4 / 5
I ended up listening to most of this on audiobook instead of reading and I'm glad I did. First, it's divided into five parts and is overly long. And second, the narrator had different voices for each character, which is always impressive.

Part one was really fun and did a great job setting the scene for friendship and romance. I dug Bex's time at Oxford, even if it's a little unrealistic she'd magically find herself in such an exclusive circle. And if you haven't heard, this is obvious Kate/William fanfic (names changed, characters edited). Some similarities were striking, but I think the authors handled the intersection of real and fake pretty well. Unfortunately, each part got a little slower and less interesting. Luckily Freddie (Harry) was there to liven things up while Nick was away.

I eye rolled the few obvious reveals (view spoiler) and Lacey. Move back to America and get your own life, grrrrl. The final section was also infuriating because it felt so manufactured. After 8 (?) years of being together (minus a break) we're supposed to believe there would be doubt the day before? Blah. I would have liked more about Bex finding her footing. She got pretty boring by the end.

Despite anything negative in the review above, I'll continue to read any book the Fug Girls release. They're funny ladies.

I'll Take You There by Wally Lamb
Rating: 4 / 5
I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.
I have a few Wally Lamb books on my to-read shelf at home, but kept avoiding them because they are really long, so I was relieved to see this book wasn't. I got into the story immediately - probably because the main character's daughter is roughly my age. I liked the set up, the setting, and Felix's memories.

I wasn't wild about the "supernatural" element. In fact, I think it could have been omitted altogether. Felix could have taken a trip down memory lane prompted by his daughter's assignment. The trip could have veered slightly and covered Verna's story (via diary?) and I think he could have come across Lois Weber during his film school research. Oh well.

Despite my complaint, I enjoyed reading this and I appreciated the intention. Sometimes it's hard for me to read women-centric lit written by a man, but Wally Lamb did a great job. And many of the women's issues he discussed are, once again, timely (which I can't believe I'm saying in 2017!).

You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain by Phoebe Robinson
Rating: 4 / 5
I ended up listening to most of this, but it'd be fine to read, too. The audiobook is read by the author, which is my preference in a memoir / essay collection.

I enjoyed the intersection of feminism, pop culture, race, and humor. I'd recommend to anyone who's read and enjoyed Roxane Gay or comedienne memories. Standout sections include "Uppity," "Casting Calls...," and "The Angry Black Woman Myth." She breaks down some infuriating situations with class.

I'll ding it one star for the "Letters to Olivia" section. It didn't seem as polished as the rest.

Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy #2) by Stephen King
Rating: 4 / 5I flew through this book when I had time to read, but it's not as good as the first one. Probably because Hodges isn't in it for over half of the book. I did enjoy the stories of Peter and Morris and that ending (very, very end / last page) was kind of.... interesting. I jumped into the next one (halfway finished as of today).

Casanova, Volume 1: Luxuria by Matt Fraction
Rating: 3.5 / 5I liked it... then I didn't... then I liked it again. Honestly, I think it bugged me early on how sexual the sister was with her brother. Beyond that, the art was great and the story was bizarre (which I enjoyed). I feel like this would make a good cartoon like Æon Flux (NOT the movie).

Casanova, Volume 2: Gula by Matt Fraction
Rating: 4 / 5
Lordy, I almost wanted to make a chart, diagram, or SOMETHING to make the timelines more tangible (before and during this set). And, gosh golly, I think you need a Masters in Comics to really GET THIS on a deeper level. This is a pretty good review, especially re: the art and references to other works.
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As always, these reviews were taken from my Goodreads. For past months, click here.

What's the last book you read?
What are you looking forward to reading? 

Monday, February 06, 2017

Weekly Review: Jan 30–Feb 5

Monday night
I'm back for another Weekly Review linkup with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. I'm not really training for anything because of our upcoming move, but I had a decent week.

Week January 30–February 5
4.1 miles
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 3.1 miles
Thursday: 3.2 miles
Friday: rest
Saturday: 10 miles
Sunday: 4.4 miles

Total: 24.8 miles
Elevation gain: 482 ft
2017 Total: 99.6 miles

Monday was my first night run in eons. I decked myself out in reflective gear and ran through our neighborhood, then along well-lit streets. My left hamstring was super tight, which kept my pace down, but it was a good run.

Wednesday's dinner. Slow cooker liners are amazing!
Tuesday was a rest day, but Wednesday was a decent 3 miler. I wish it was farther, but the rush hour traffic kind of drove me batty. Too many street crossings = too many stops. Thursdays 3 was a bit of the same, but at least I ran faster.

Friday was my last day of work. I've been at the same place for 11 years and it was time to be done. The past year wasn't very good professionally (I haven't learned anything new), so I'm looking forward to a new challenge in Bozeman... assuming I find one. ;) Anyway, it was a rest day because my work friends and I went out for pizza and beer.

My cookies!
Saturday was a training group run. I was in a terrible mood and wasn't sure I wanted to run 10 miles, but upon arrival I was gifted beautiful cookies and found myself surrounded by friends. I ran with my pal Andrea (among others) and our conversation lifted my spirits. I felt great after the run and I was so happy I went. We went to hang with my dad and step mom after (to get them to try sushi!), so it turned into a great day, but I was exhausted by the end!

Sunday runday.
On Sunday, we went to early lunch with my mom and step dad (trying to get in those last visits before we move - sob). The food was tasty, but once again I was exhausted mid day after being social. After a little down time, Alex and I packed more donations, cleaned a few rooms, and eventually went out for a run. The weather was amazing (50º), so we had to take advantage! It was a fast run for me (8:19 pace - and that's with a slower solo mile!), so I felt pretty accomplished by the time we turned on the Super Bowl. I was mainly interested in the commercials and Lady Gaga, but what an exciting game it turned into! I suppose I was rooting for the Falcons, but just because I always root for the underdog.

Did you watch the Super Bowl?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We're moving!

Our new city from above.

I've skipped the last two Weekly Review linkups with Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin because I'm not really training for anything anymore! Why? Well, the title says it all...

We're moving!

Alex got a great job in Bozeman, Montana. At the same time, the company I've worked for the past 11 years (!!) is facing a bit of a slowdown, so the timing was right for me, too. I don't have a job lined up, but I've found a few prospects.

We're not leaving Ohio until the first week of March, but it put a wrench in my training. I can no longer participate in the 5 races on my spring calendar. While I'm bummed, I soothed my soul by signing up for the Missoula Half Marathon on July 9.

I know some of you saw the news on Instagram, but I figured I'd make it blog official. As for training? Right now I'm running for fun because I know I'll have to adjust to elevation in March (~800ft in Ohio to 4,700ft in the Gallatin valley.) I'm also back with my running group on Saturdays so that will make milage fun. I'm off work starting next week so I hope to fit in runs between all the work that needs to be done on our house! Should be interesting...

Have you ever moved out of state?
Have you been to Montana? 

Monday, January 16, 2017

ORRRC Week 9 + Brokeman's Winter Warm Up Recap

Meeting Devon Yanko + Q&A and a big crowd
Happy Monday! I'm back with the Weekly Review linkup from Hoho Runs and MissSippiPiddlin. I'm training for about a dozen races. This week I'm recapping my latest race. 

Week of January 9–15
Monday: rest
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 3 miles
Thursday: rest + walk to work
Friday: rest + walk to work
Saturday: 3 miles
Sunday: Brokeman's Winter Warm Up 13.1 (recap below)

Total (running) miles: 19.1 miles
Elevation gain: 157 ft
2017 total: 42.1 miles

Honestly, I didn't intend to take off so much time this week. Not to be evasive or mysterious, but there was a lot of life stuff this week (all will be revealed) and it was not my week for running. It's kind of funny because I was stressed and NEEDED to run, but I couldn't fit it in.

Kind of sums up my week.
On Saturday we drove to Athens after a morning run and nap (for some reason I was also exhausted this week). We met up with a fellow Oiselle Volée teammate for dinner and drinks, then went to Ohio Valley Running Company to watch Billy Yang's Life in a Day: Wester States 100 (trailer).  Devon Yanko, one of the runners in the film and a hero of mine, was there and held a Q&A after. The director, Billy Yang, also answered a few questions over Skype. I highly recommend the film. It will be on Youtube in a few weeks after the tour is over.

Studio 35!
On Sunday I ran a half marathon (below), then we went to a beer tasting / movie with 11 Bell's Brewing beers and a screening of The Big Lebowski. I could have gone to bed when we got home at 6:30, but somehow I powered through.

Brokeman's Winter Warm Up Recap

On Sunday morning I ran the WWU. This was my second year, but it was in a new (better) location. I got there early for packet pickup, chatted with Chelsea for a while, then sat in my car to keep warm for as long as possible. I haven't run farther than 9 miles since October (and that 9 was before Christmas!), so my goal was to finish in a decent time. It would have been spectacular to run a sub-2, but I wasn't ready. Mainly because I didn't remember I'd signed up for this race until it was too late to add mileage.

There was a wave start, so the 13.1 runners went first, followed by 8 and 3.5 milers. Despite my frozen hands and feet, I tried to keep my pace in the mid-9s as we looped around a field. We encountered a few icy bridges and the field spread out around after 2. The first time I remember wanting to walk was around 3.5. Uh oh. The turn around for the 8 miler was somewhere between 4 and 5 and I considered switching distances. SO MANY people ahead of me did this. I somehow powered through and I'm glad I did.
Miles 1–6: 9:30, 9:18, 9:29, 9:29, 9:18, 9:04

(I stole this from Chelsea.) Brrrrrrr at the start.
The half turn around was just after mile 7, so we got to the see the leaders. They were all so friendly! (I don't want to be a turd, but the official results list a woman in second place and I never saw her. I think she switched to the 8 miler midway because I always notice and congratulate the first woman. I could be wrong, but...) Anyway, I ate my gel just after mile 6 and took my first walk break. I felt kind of bad, but whatever - it wasn't a long break. To get to the turnaround we had to go across a pedestrian bridge over Route 33. All of the bridges along the course were slick, but this one was the longest, tallest, and most treacherous. I ended up walking the second half and then almost the whole thing when I turned around and had to go back over it. I wasn't alone. Most people (besides the leaders) were walking.
Miles 7-8 (bridge miles): 9:50, 9:49

The course
I appreciated the break and felt energized post-gel. I kept a decent pace during the rest of mile 8 and into 9. I saw Chelsea after the turnaround, which gave me another boost. I didn't feel too bad, but I was more tired than normal. Alex texted me at mile 9, so I took it as an opportunity for another walk break (#lazy). From here to the end I walked 3 more times - almost always at the mile marker. I passed some people, they passed me, etc. I probably could have kept running because I wasn't very tired after. Oh well. The finish line was visible for the last six tenths of the race and it was a struggle to keep moving. We were on flat land without tree coverage and the wind was picking up. Brrr. I increased my speed, passed a woman, and crossed the line in 2:04.
Miles 9-13: 9:14, 9:48, 9:53, 9:37, 9:23

Finals Stats and Thoughts
While I was glad to be done, I had a lot of fun. I am happy I ran the full distance. It wasn't my fastest, but it was no where near my slowest. Hindsight is 20/20 because this was an excellent course for a PR and the weather was decent (overcast and 30º). I'm also not sure I can run my goal race on April 9, so it would have been pretty awesome to get a sub-2. Oh well. At least it was a good long run!

Final time: 2:04:20 (9:29/mi)
Overall: 80 / 188 (42%)
Gender: 33 / 105 (31%)

The woodal was pretty cute.
Did you race this weekend? 
Have you watched any trail running films? (Recommendations? I've watched 4 Deserts and The Barkley Marathons.)

Race Recap: Rocks and Roots #1

Sunday sunrise
Rocks and Roots Race #1 took place Sunday, January 8, 2016 at 8:30am in Alum Creek State Park. The race includes a 10k, 20k, 30k, 40k, and 50k. Alex and I ran the 10k.

Pre Race
So cold before
We picked up our packets the day before (swag included: sweatshirt, long sleeve, sticker, Clif gels, Balega socks, and a water bottle!!), so we left the house around 7:15am and arrived earlier than expected. We parked next to the marina and watched the sunrise. In 2015, the bathrooms at the marina were not open so we had to walk to the start line early. Luckily, the bathrooms were open, so we were able to sit in the car as long as possible.

We walked to the start around 8:20, dropped the gear bag, and lined. The temperature was 10º and I wore so many clothes: two long sleeve shirts, a t-shirt, shorts, pants, capris, two pairs of gloves, two pairs of socks, a wide headband, and a Buff over my face. Brrrr.

I didn't have any time goals because 1. the course was different than the last time we ran R&R (this was the South Loop instead of the North) and 2. I'm running the 20k in February, so this was more of a "scope out the course" run. I suppose if I had a goal, it would've been to run faster than a 12:30 pace (my average in 2015) because I'm in better shape.

The course - we ran clockwise
The 10k had a separate start and I lined up closer to the front than normal. Once we started moving I felt pretty good and tried to maintain a steady pace. I was still really cold, but kept my Buff over my face to keep the breeze from knocking me out. There was a water crossing three tenths in, but it was more of an ice sheet and I had Yaktrax so it wasn't difficult. The first mile was uneventful besides course congestion. I felt like I couldn't get people off my tail. The course was single-track and we were encouraged by the race director to call out when passing. While some people did this really well, others would power by. I saw one person pushed into a bush and another so shocked by a passer he almost tripped. So yeah, call your audibles when passing.
Mile 1 – 2: 10:53, 10:29

By this point I was pretty shocked by my mile times. Besides people passing and course congestion, the biggest issue was slippery snow and SO MANY tree roots and trunks to jump over. If I took my eyes off the ground I would trip. I didn't fall - luckily - but I almost did several times. The people around me hollered "nice save!" twice if that tells you anything. Somewhere in here the inside of my left foot started to hurt. It almost felt like one of my Yaktrax was digging into my shoe and I assumed it was due to one of my near falls. In a normal race I probably would've stopped to check it out, but there was always someone directly behind me until mile 4.5.
Mile 3: 11:04

This was just after the start.
I started to get tired in mile 4, but I stuck with a few dudes. These guys were going a little slower than I probably would have by myself, but I stayed behind them. Honestly, it was a good decision because I got pretty tired later! We passed the aid station around 4.5 and just after that I tripped or something and realized my right Yaktrax was half off! I stopped and let a guy pass me as I tried to yank it off. I only lost a little time, but I also realized my left Yaktrax was no where to be found! I guess it came off during my mile 2 or 3 fumbles. How did I (or the people around me) not notice?
Miles 4: 11:08

This next mile was my slowest and I can't really remember why. I got separated from my pack of dudes while I messed with my Yaktrax, but I could see them up ahead. I passed a few people walking and really appreciated it when they moved to the side. (Some of them were 20-40k runners.) I think there were more rolling hills in this section and my pace took a beating. I caught up to some new guys and while I ran up/down all of the hills until this mile, when the guys ahead of me walked or slowed down, I followed suit. My foot hurt and I was still weirded out by my lost of Yaktrax.
Mile 5: 12:01

Yikes. I think is a pain face.
I walked up a few hills in mile 6 and knew the course ran a bit long (according to the race director) so I just started my "15 more minutes" countdown. I noticed myself sliding around more and more, but who knows if it was lack of Yaktrax or all mental. We came back to the water crossing close to the start and this time I fell on my butt crossing the ice sheet. Whoops! In my defense I was trying to say hi to an instagram friend. ;) My butt hurt when I got up, but I kept on trucking. I felt drunk during this last mile. I was mentally exhausted from making sure I stayed upright and avoided tree trunks and roots, and my feet were tired from all the fancy footwork dodging said objects. I must admit a 20k sounded pretty terrible as I got closer to the finish line!
Mile 6: 11:07, last .35: 10:46

Happy afterwards!
Afterwards, I met up with Alex (who placed 7th and felt "slow"), got a hot chocolate and a cookie and stood around the fire for a bit. Alex, having been finished for about 15 minutes before I crossed, was suuuuuper cold and ready to go so we took off for the car. Honestly, I wasn't very tired after. I was sore two days later, but that's about all.

Oh yeah! The pain on my left foot? Not a Yaktrax related injury, but instead, a run-of-the-mill blister. I changed socks at the last minute and I choose poorly. Bummer.

Final Stats and Thoughts

I'm pretty happy with my stats. I'm a better runner than I was in 2015 and my pace reflects that. However, this loop was easier than the North loop, so I'd be lying if I said I'm not terrified of the 20k next month. I know I can finish it, but not sure I can do it in a decent time. Maybe I need to concentrate on finishing strong vs. finishing in a specific time.

Final Time: 1:10:29 (11:06/mi)
Overall: 57 / 186 (30%)
Gender: 11 / 86 (13%)
Age Group: 2 / 10 (20%)

The woodal.
Up next: R&R #2: the 20k. Yikes!  I'll say this now: if it's terribly muddy I will only run the 10k. 
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