I talk to God on the road. And He talks back.


Marathon #3, Here We Go

Hi friends!! I sort of fell off the face of the earth there – sorry.  It’s been a busy summer – I’m studying for the GREs, tutoring my BIL for the SATs, and I’ve started a new project at work.  On the running front, last I wrote I was training for the Wine Country Half.  Well, I didn’t end up running the race.  I injured my big toe during a run the week before – I think I bent my toe too much while running up a hill because the first joint hurt to bend afterwards – and it was much too painful to run on.  No idea what the injury was, but it took a good month for the toe to feel normal again.  I cross-trained on the bike, did some Tae Bo, and started using the stairmaster once my toe could handle it, so I feel like I’m still in decent shape!

And this week, I’m starting to train for marathon #3.  I spent some time contemplating what training plan to use, and ultimately decided to give the Hanson Marathon Method a shot.  If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the plan that’s notorious for maxing the long run at 16 miles (vs. the usual 20 or 22).  My main motivation for using HMM is because I’ve struggled with injuries throughout training cycles and during races, and HMM has a more balanced approach to weekly mileage that’s supposed to help build running economy/ strength while minimizing injuries (read: they make you run a lot during the week).

I’m using the beginner plan (the advanced looks too high in mileage for me) and modifying it slightly so that I can do my long runs on Saturday vs Sunday.  I moved Friday’s easy run to Sunday, and moved the other two days forward.  Here’s what my plan looks like:
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Orange days are either speed/strength workouts (on Tuesday), tempos done at marathon goal pace (on Thursday), and long runs done at 45-60 seconds slower than goal pace.  Paces for the speed and strength workouts are also determined by your goal pace using a table in the book.  I’ve added in two shorter races to help me gauge my performance and fitness level along the way – and also because I have some race deferrals from last year ;) Other than that, I’m going to try to run it exactly as written.

My thoughts going in: the mileage for this plan is higher than I’m used to, and I’m definitely nervous for those longer weekday runs – AKA 5AM wake-ups.  HMM is a tough training method, and its philosophy is to tire you out for the long runs to simulate the last 16 miles of the race instead of the first – in other words, it trains you to push through when you’re very tired.  I honestly don’t know if I have what it takes to run the plan as proscribed, but to me, that’s the point of training for a marathon – finding out what I’m made of.  So let’s begin :)


Running in {Hot, Humid, Windy} Weather

I think I’ve said this a dozen times already; I did a lot of treadmill training this winter.  It got to be a habit to turn to the treadmill when I saw that the weather was colder than I liked, or there was a slight chance of snow, or heaven forfend, any kind of wind.  It’s nice to be indoors; I liked not having to think about what to wear, and I had plenty of entertainment to make the miles fly by.

I was also completely unprepared for races.  My first two races of the year featured less than ideal conditions – rain and wind, respectively – and I knew right away that the comfortable miles I’d logged on the treadmill hadn’t mentally prepared me to push through whatever race day threw at me.


Over the last two weeks, I’ve started running almost exclusively outside again.  Sometimes the pollen count is bad, and I suffer a runny nose throughout my run, sometimes it’s hot, and lately it’s been very windy in the afternoons.  It doesn’t matter – there’s no guarantee that race day weather will be perfect, so part of training is trying to simulate the worst that the day can throw at you – and proving to yourself that you can push through.

And you know what? I’m learning that I can handle a lot more than I think I can.  Yesterday’s speed workout (4 X 1 mile) featured 20+ mile winds, and I was still able to hit my goal paces running against the wind.  Saturday’s long run took place in 90-100% humidity and heat, and I slogged through at slightly faster than my usual long run pace.  I built up the physical strength and endurance through the last couple of months of training, but now I’m teaching my mind not to give up just because it’s hard (woah, is there a life lesson there?).

I’ve also switched my mileage tracking tool from DailyMile to Garmin Connect, which captures a lot more data from my runs with my FR210, like elevation, split times, and weather conditions.  All I was waiting for was the feature to track mileage on gear, which was added at the end of last year.

garmin connectIt’s yet another motivator for me to run outside, because it’s a lot more fun to sync my watch and see how I did during my run, rather than filling in manual data for a treadmill run ;) #runnerd

I’m running Wine Country in a little over two weeks.  I know that the course is hilly, and in the past the weather on race day has been hot (with little shade offered on the route).  I know that running through hot-humid-windy conditions between now and then will teach me to become comfortable with being uncomfortable on race day.

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Recent Eats: Springtime!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a meal round-up on the blog, so I thought today would be a good day to post some recent eats; I love reading these on other people’s blogs for meal inspiration, so I try to post what we’ve liked over the last couple of weeks/ months. I usually make big batches of stuff for breakfast, lunch and dinner on Sunday to eat the whole week.


Muffins! So easy to make breakfast for two weeks; I’ll grab a muffin and pair it with an egg or cottage cheese/ fruit for protein. Some recent favorites:
Apple Cheddar Muffins – tried this because I had two old apples in the fridge, and they were unexpectedly good!
Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins – pictured above
Healthy Banana Muffins – love how little sugar this recipe uses…and then I went on to add chocolate chips to mine. Do it.


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I was really digging simple pastas with roasted/ sauteed veggies for the early months of the year, did meatloaf two weeks ago, and now I’m slowly transitioning to salads for the warmer months. Some favorite recipes:
Spicy Sundried Tomato and Broccoli Pasta – pictured above
Kale and Broccoli Slaw Salad -ate this last week, added some shredded chicken!
Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Kale Quesadilla – made these this week with the leftover kale, and I can tell this is going to be a regular on the rotation. SO good and easy to make!


Dinners are usually a little simpler; we drink smoothies a couple nights a week (we’re both trying to lose a little weight right now) and one of us will cook a meal to cover the other nights.  It’s usually something simple, like the pasta topped with egg pictured below:
Or simple Korean recipes, like this basic bibimbap (steamed rice with shredded lettuce, meat and spicy sauce, topped off with a fried egg)0513151841aThis meal was tuna mixed with spicy sauce, which we wrapped in seaweed with rice and veggies at the table. Miso soup on the side!
And sometimes, a special meal like steak and bourbon is what I’m really craving ;)

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The Shoe Tryouts: Lightweight Tempo Shoe

I’ve been digging running with friends/ people lately; I ran into Mike’s co-worker Colleen at our gym the other week, and we set a run date for Tuesday mornings! Today was our second time running together, and knowing I was meeting up with Colleen was the only thing that kept me from hitting snooze at 5:30 AM.  Colleen is a lot faster than me (she’s so good about slowing down for me), and it’s wonderfully humbling and motivating to run with her.

I mentioned the other day that I’ve gotten really picky about running shoes over the past year; I used to only care about the width of the shoe (to accommodate my wide feet), but lately the wrong shoes tend to cause cramping in my arches, and/ or my bunions get red and painful.  My favorite shoes to date have been the Glycerins 8/10/11 (I use these for long runs) and the NB 890v3 (for speedwork, easy days).  But when I went to replace my beloved 890s, I found that the 890v4 felt very different to me; no matter how I adjusted the lacing, my arches hurt or my feet slipped around in the shoe.  Thus, the shoe tryouts began.

The Shoe Tryouts

To replace my speedwork/ tempo shoe, I decided to try out several pairs from Running Warehouse, which has a generous return policy (90 days to try out the shoe).  To ensure the shoes were still in retail condition, I ran just a couple miles on each on asphalt to test them out.  The three pairs I picked were rated as similar lightness to the NB890s, neutral fit and with decent forefoot cushion – all factors that seem to work well for me right now.
0428151308 First up, Brooks Launch. 0428151308a I thought the Launch would be a good fit for me, as they appeared to be a lighter version of the Glycerins. The shoes were very comfortable walking around, so I took them out for a short speedwork session outside.  But during the warmup, I noticed that my left foot was cramping, and while it got a little better during the intervals, my arches were in pain after I came home.  I gave them a second try during an easy run a few days later, but my left foot started cramping immediately and didn’t improve over the next couple of miles.  RETURNED.

Next – Hoka Cliftons!
0428151308b I was pretty excited to try these, since I had heard a lot of hype about how soft they were. I loved that they came with an extra pair of inserts to customize the fit of the shoe. But I was nervous that the shoes would feel too chunky and affect my gait….well, after a tempo run, I can attest that they DO feel very soft, kind of like a stale marshmallow – it’s a wonderful landing, but it doesn’t take long to smush down, which is a good thing because you can push off again quickly.  That probably doesn’t make sense to anyone but me.  The rounded bottom also enabled fast heel-to-toe transfer, so my turnover felt great and smooth.  I loved these so much that I used them on a long run the next day.  Don’t let their chunkiness fool you; these are seriously light shoes.

Finally – NB Fresh Foam Boracays 
0428151308cHonestly, I didn’t feel the Fresh Foam lived up to its name.  The forefoot felt harder than the other two shoes, and my left foot cramped up in this shoe too.  I’m not sure why it does that; I think my foot is trying to grip the shoe when the fit is wrong? At any rate – RETURNED.

Verdict: Hoka Cliftons.  These shoes make running (even tough tempos) a joy.  I still prefer the heft/ support of Glycerins for my long runs, but I’ll be wearing the Cliftons for my tempo runs.  I’ve also heard anecdotes that they’re not the most durable shoe (the cushion wears down), so I’m hoping that wearing them only 1-2 times a week helps them last!

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A Weekend of Firsts

The spring semester is over, woohoo! I took my final on Wednesday, and was doing proposal support the rest of the week, but I’m back on the blog this week.  Hope you all had a great Mother’s Day weekend – my mom is out of country at the moment, but we’ll be taking her out to dinner when she gets back!

The theme for this weekend was “firsts”…like my first time taking an epsom salt bath: 0501152032a Part of my attempt to stave off the soreness I had a few weeks ago. I don’t know how well the bath works for me, but these salts felt (and smelled) fantastic.

I decided it was time to start running with a running group again, so I met up with Pacers Alexandria for the long run on Saturday. It’s so well organized (check-in sheet, cold gatorade/water afterwards) and has a range of paces! I was running about a 10 min pace and found two girls to run and chat with. I think I’ll be running with them all summer. The 10 miles went by pretty fast, despite the extremely muggy weather.

No pics from the run, so here’s my post-run lunch of pasta topped with egg and veggies on the side:IMG_20150504_184204

We also tried a new church! We love DC Metro Church, but are looking for a church with a more permanent congregation.  We know we like a church when they serve lunches like this:0503151129 Mm curry with kimchi. Why does even simple food taste so much better when someone else makes it?

Since apparently I only managed to capture pics of food, here’s a couple more, from a new-to-us Thai place – Duangrat’s Thai in Falls Church.  Actually, we’ve eaten here a couple of times but I keep forgetting how great it is! We got the calamari, lad nar (soo good), and pad see ew.  I could eat this every weekend #whyimarunner0507151750I leave you with this pic – today was yoga day after work, and Kitty joined me in savasana to show me how it’s done :) 2005

What’s something new you’ve tried (activity, food, event) lately?


Friday Faves + I Got Over a Food Aversion

Woohoo! It’s Friday :D It’s been a long week because along with the usual work stuff I’ve been cramming for the end of the semester (oh hi, final project I never thought about) but all my assignments are done now and all I have left to do is study for the final next Wednesday. And now that the weather is so gorgeous (it feels like we went straight from winter to early summer this year), everyone is coming out of hibernation and we’ve got some fun stuff on the calendar this weekend! We’re gonna see the Avengers with Mike’s coworkers Jess and Justin tomorrow (at my favorite theater), and then Sushi Jin with college friends for dinner. I’d better get in my long run tomorrow morning to balance out all that eating…

Friday Faves

Running outside again! You know how I said I was going to try to transition back to outdoor running several weeks ago? Yea, that didn’t happen – probably because temps were still often in the 20s and 30s in the mornings and I’m a total wuss this year. But this week has been a different story – all my runs have been outside! After a winter on the treadmill, I was starting to think that maybe I preferred the treadmill and was seriously contemplating becoming an indoor-only runner (if such a category exists). HAHA nope – I did 7 miles outside this morning and was on cloud 9 for hours afterwards. I wasn’t fast (I definitely keep pace better on the treadmill) and the slight wind and varying inclines were definitely more challenging than the flat surface of the t/m, but I felt so alive the whole time and grateful to be running. Can you tell I still have a runner’s high? Lol. I’ve also had a hard time finding a comfortable running shoe lately, so I ordered several to test and I loved the one I ran with this morning. More to follow…
Castelvetrano olives. Mike and I both love olives so we often get a containerful from supermarket olive bars to snack on. I grabbed some of these light green ones from Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago thinking they were just regular green olives, but realized they were something completely different when we tried them. These olives are creamy and buttery, with very little tang to them, unlike regular green olives (which I find really sour). We’ve been filling big containers with them from WF whenever we’re near one since we can’t find them anywhere else. Another reason to add Italy to the travel bucket list.
This hairdryer (Babyliss Pro TT I think?) – on our Boston trip, our Airbnb hostess lent me this hairdryer for use and I was blown away (pun intended) at how quickly it dried my hair and how easy it was to style the ends. I’ve been trying to style my hair more often (read: less ponytails at work) and I didn’t know what a difference a good hairdryer makes! I’m swapping out my super-cheap one for the Babyliss for sure.
On another hair-related note, I finally found a workout headband that keeps my long bangs out of my face and doesn’t fall off my head – the UA Perfect Headband. It has two rubber strips that go all the way around to keep it in place, and the band stretches pretty wide to keep fly-aways away from my face. It’s not really cute, but it gets the job done! I wear this for every workout and wash it with hand soap between wears.
And finally– cottage cheese! I know this is an odd one, but I’ve had a strong aversion to cottage cheese for ten years – I ate it when I had the flu and got sick right afterwards.  I’ve tried it every couple of years to see if I’ve gotten over it, and nope, couldn’t eat the stuff – until a few weeks ago when I bought a tub for a recipe and found I was able to eat it! I’ve been enjoying it with fresh pineapple for breakfast and snacks.
Have you ever gotten over a food aversion? How long did it take you?
Any fun plans this weekend? Do share!

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The Race I Didn’t Run

I owe you guys a race recap from the Columbia Half this weekend, and it’s going to be short and sweet – it didn’t happen (for me – the race still went on).   And I’m okay with that.

The long and the short of it is that my legs and body were feeling terrible all of last week. I was a crazy insomniac and didn’t fall asleep till 3 or 4 every night. And for some reason, my legs were so sore that I dialed back my mileage (I think I only ran twice the whole week) and foam rolled a ton. But somehow, the soreness got worse to the point that it compounded my sleeping problem, and Saturday night I was nearly in tears because of the burning pain.

Sunday morning (race day), my legs were still pretty sore, but I got dressed and headed down to the car. But before I started the engine, I sat and pondered for a good ten minutes whether I really wanted to waste 4 hours of my weekend (including driving time) to run a sub-par, painful race. I knew that a PR wasn’t in the cards that day, and I had a feeling that I would be miserable from the start. Don’t get me wrong; I believe that there’s tremendous value in pushing through adversity, but running 13.1 miles with terrible leg pain sounded like injury territory at worst and a stupid way to spend my time at best. Plus, I was so sleep-deprived that I wondered whether I should be on the road at all.

So I went back upstairs, got undressed and got back into bed :D

Some pics from the rest of the weekend:

Tried a new Thai place Friday night – Thai Square! The Washington Post restaurant critic raves about it all the time, so we decided to give it a shot. The crispy fish (pictured below) was unfortunately really dry, but the honey roasted duck with basil and lad na (noodles in gravy) were bomb.


I feel a little embarrassed posting this on the blog, but we played D&D for the first time with Mike’s coworkers on Saturday! Yes, it was super geeky, but I also had an awesome time :D


Birthday starbucks drink that the barista kindly let me use 3 weeks past my birthday (apparently you’re supposed to use it within a week…). Green tea latte with soy was the order of the day.  #lipstickstain #keepingitclassy


Workout Changes This Week

My legs are feeling much better this week; I took Monday off, did a modified speed workout on Tuesday, and hit up BodyPump yesterday – I’m sore today, but a good kind of sore. I’m wondering if the long training cycle was starting to take a toll on my body, so I’m dialing back the intensity of my runs, adding in cross-training and taking rest days whenever I feel I need it. At this point, I think I’m well prepared for my next half (Wine Country at the end of May), so I just want to maintain fitness and not get injured.

Plan for the (rest of the) week:

Mon – off

Tue – modified 4 X 1200 meter repeats (I did two full 1200s, and the other two I completed as 3 X 400s, if that makes any sense)

Wed – Body Pump

Thurs – 4 miles or off

Fri – 6-7 miles @ pace

Sat – 10 miles, easy pace

Sun – 4 miles or yoga

Any time my legs start to feel that painful again, I’m going to reduce the intensity of the workout, swap in yoga, or take a complete rest day as needed. I love running, but at the end of the day, this is still just a hobby and my overall health/ well-being takes priority over running fitness.


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