Day 8: I Get Knocked Down, But I Get Up Again

This will be a quick entry, since it’s 4am after my kickball league’s kickoff party. I did absolutely no cooking today (mmm, Capitol City Brewing Company has the most delicious pulled pork sandwiches), but I did get a run in!

Daily Achievement
My training plan called for 4 miles on Sunday, but I decided to move my run up to Saturday, since I had a feeling I might not be too functional tomorrow morning after the kickball party. I count this run as a big mental victory for me. I planned ahead of time to do just 3 miles instead of 4, since I’ve been a little behind all week, and I don’t want to overdo it. I started off with a nice pace that I felt I could maintain for a while, with my walk breaks at regular intervals. However, between 2 miles and 2.5 miles, painful blisters started to form on my feet. I should have used Body Glide on my feet, or at least worn my fancy “running socks”. However, my running socks keep mysteriously disappearing (which I’m sure has nothing to do with the sock thief that shares an apartment with me, ahem), so I was stuck w/ regular old athletic socks. Anyway, I thought maybe I should just quit since the blisters were getting more and more painful. At 2.5 miles, I started walking, with the intent to stop completely. However, after a minute, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute. I only have about .4 miles left… if I do it fast enough, I can complete that in under 4 minutes.” So I set the treadmill to an even higher speed and ran the last 4 minutes flatout, for a grand total of 3 miles. When it comes to running, my mind is my worst enemy — today was proof that I really can control my motivation. I just have to keep that in mind for the future when I next want to quit early… quitting early isn’t going to get me across the finish line of the half marathon.

Song of the Day
Chumbawamba – Tubthumping. My unofficial ’90s weekend continues, with one of the most pervasive one-hit wonders of the late ’90s. Just mention the word “tubthumping”, and this song gets stuck in my head. I felt it was particularly appropriate for the night of the 90s party, since my kickball friends certainly enjoy “pissing the night away”. I have to say, it was a really odd feeling going to a ’90s party. I love ’80s parties, but the ’90s just don’t seem that long ago to me. They were formative years, but not exactly a style highlight for me. I mostly wore tee-shirts and jeans back in the day, but Jim and I hit up a thrift store and found some gems. I had great big ugly Spice Girls-esque platform boots and a babydoll dress, and Jim had a track suit w/ a DARE teeshirt (anyone else remember DARE)? It was definitely fun times; I just hope nobody throws an ’00s party too soon.


Day 6: Hail the Winter Days After Dark

As you all know, I have a lot of ambitious goals for this year, but one of the more important ones is raising money for Girls on the Run as part of my entry into the National Half Marathon. There are a lot of important causes out there that I could have run for: breast cancer, leukemia, diabetes, the list goes on and on. I decided on Girls on the Run because in this age of screen addiction (computers, tv, video games), I think it’s so important to get kids active and outside. Especially for girls, the pre-teen years can be a tough time because everything around you and about you is changing. Playing sports is a great way for girls or anyone to improve self-esteem and activity, but sports isn’t necessarily right for everyone. Running is awesome, because you don’t need special equipment or special skills — you can just put on a pair of sneakers and go. I just found this newspaper article about a Girls on the Run chapter in Louisiana, and I think it perfectly encapsulates why this cause is worthy. Check it out! And if you feel inspired, please feel free to donate to my fundraising page. 🙂

Daily Achievement
In the spirit of self-esteem, I felt pretty good about my run this morning. It was a lot better than my experience two days ago. I still only did 2 miles, but I actually slowed down my pace a bit. I still finished with the same time, because I didn’t have to take as many walking breaks, and I didn’t feel like death afterwards! Slowing down my pace is tough for me, because a big part of it is ego. I think I should be able to go at 6mph (10-minute miles), so I’m reluctant to go slower. And I’m green with envy when I see people that can run 3 miles in 21 minutes. But going slower really does make a difference, so I guess I just have to adjust my mindset.

Song of the Day
The Decemberists – January Hymn. I was randomly listening to NPR’s online radio station today, NPR All Songs 24/7, and they were playing the entire Decemberists album. This song stood out to me in particular… it’s a nice soulful, wistful track for a cold January day.

Day 4: ‘Cause I Got the Body Aches, Soul Shakes

I’ve been so caught up in my cooking adventures, it’s easy to forget that there’s another component to my goals for 2011 — running. My official training for the half marathon started today. I’m using the Hal Higdon Half Marathon Training Guide. It’s free, and he seems to know his stuff. I used his 10 Miler guide for my race last year, and it worked really well. I’ll be running 4x a week with slowly increasing mileage, with an additional day of cross-training (I hope kickball counts as cross training).

Daily Achievement
To kick off the training, I jogged 2 miles on the treadmill this morning before work. According to the schedule, it should have been 3 miles, but I just couldn’t do it. I was DYING by the end of mile 1. I haven’t really jogged in, oh, 7 months, so I’m super out of shape. I actually use a run/walk method, where I jog for 5 minutes and then walk for 1 minute. It’s easier on me, especially psychologically, since I can tell myself “Only 2 minutes before I can walk!” as opposed to “I have 27 minutes left to go. Crap.” But it wasn’t helping me too much today. After I slogged through 2 miles, my lungs and teeth actually hurt. After checking WebMD, I’m convinced I either have angina or cancer (it’s always cancer on WebMD).

I think part of my issues this morning stemmed from the fact that it was the first time I’ve gotten up before 9am in weeks, so I was pretty groggy. In that twilight haze in between hitting the snooze button over and over, I dreamt that I got up, put on my workout clothes, and then my boyfriend morphed into Tony Bourdain and told me to go back to sleep. Needless to say, I was extremely confused when I woke up for real. I think I’ve been watching too much Top Chef lately. If this morning workout schedule is going to work, I really have to make an effort to get to bed earlier so that I’m not so tired in the morning.

Song of the Day
Sugar & Gold – Bodyaches. I couldn’t resist, since my body is aching from my first workout. This is a song that’s been a mainstay on my running playlist for the past year. Sugar & Gold are an underground pop/dance/disco band with some insanely catchy songs. I’d love to see them at the Black Cat someday.

Day 1: Now That I’m On My Way

2011… the year I’m going to stop eating all my meals from the microwave, and the year I’m going to successfully complete a half marathon in under 2 hrs and 30 minutes. In order to complete these goals, I’ve challenged myself to cook at least one thing from scratch and/or go for a run every day in 2011. I’ll be blogging about these activities to keep myself accountable, and hopefully have some fun while doing it!

I’m a fairly mediocre cook. I’m just not very experienced since I cook so rarely. I can follow a recipe, but take me off-recipe and I’m hopeless to make changes. I’m also lazy, and the last thing I usually want to do when I get home from work is take the time to put something together that I’m not sure will even be tasty. So, I tend to live off of frozen meals from Trader Joe’s, or get take-out.

My go-to meal, much to my chagrin, is Go-Go Taquitos from 7-11. It got to the point where the clerk actually handed me my preferred flavor (taco and cheese, if you must know) before I can open my mouth. Trader Joe’s frozen meals aren’t too bad for me, but I’m definitely a little concerned about all the sodium and preservatives I must be getting in my system. Plus, I just need to eat more veggies. So I’m going to make an attempt to start cooking more often, working off of some sort of plan so that groceries don’t go to waste. Hopefully my skills will improve as the year goes on.

Happily, I’m a pretty good baker (although it’s really hard to go wrong with enough sugar, butter and chocolate). I also have an interest in cocktails. So for the purposes of my goals, I’ll allow baking and cocktail shaking to count as “cooking something from scratch.” I just can’t let too many cocktails lead me back to the Taquito siren song…

I have a fairly short running history. I had a short-lived and unmemorable stint on the indoor track team in middle school and didn’t lace up running shoes again until 2007. I signed up for the Virginia Beach Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon with a few friends, and then stupidly didn’t train at all. I managed to finish the race, but with a time of 3:09 and had sore legs for days. I figured running just wasn’t for me. Then last year, I signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, and made a commitment to train for it. I used the Couch to 5K plan and then the Hal Higdon 10 miler plan, and finished the race in 1:46! I was incredibly proud of myself, but once my goal had been achieved, I promptly quit running again.

This year, I’m signed up for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler again. But more importantly, I also signed up for a half marathon! I decided to run the National Half Marathon, and better yet, I’m doing it through Girls on the Run. Girls on the Run is a pretty cool program that helps elementary school girls (3rd through 8th grade) train for a 5k, mixed with healthy living programs. It’s supposed to build self esteem, teach them healthy habits, and all that good stuff. In exchange for having my entry fee to the half marathon paid for, I’ve commited to raising at least $262 for Girls on the Run leading up to the half marathon… if I don’t manage to raise it, it’ll be coming out of my own bank account, so I’m definitely motivated! If you would like to donate to my cause, I invite you to check out my Fundraising Page. I promise to bake something for every contributer (and then I can count that as cooking from scratch… 2 birds with 1 stone, here!)

Daily Achievement
So, what have I done today besides watch the “Worst Cooks in America” marathon on Food Network (at least I’m not as bad as those guys, even if it’s probably played up for television) and set up this blog? I cooked something from scratch!

Macaroni and Cheese

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese! Hey, what do you expect from me? I had an extremely late night and I’m not exactly firing on all cylinders today. My mom makes a great homemade mac and cheese, but the stuff from the blue box is one of my favorite comfort foods. It’s actually one of the first things I ever learned to make myself. Back in the day, when my father was in charge of me and my brother for meals, he’d usually take us to McDonald’s, or make us mac and cheese. Once I got old enough to boil water, he had me start doing it myself. (This is not a knock on my dad’s cooking skills — he makes a mean PB&J sandwich!) I actually made a small tweak to the classic recipe today — I’m out of milk so I used half & half that happened to be in the fridge. I felt totally wild and crazy… and it tasted darn good, too.

Song of the Day
Toby Keith – How Do You Like Me Now? I know, I know. It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure song. Country music isn’t my favorite genre, but I actually saw Toby Keith in concert this past summer w/ some friends, and it was an interesting experience. He’s sponsored by Ford, so there was a giant honkin’ Ford on stage that he actually popped out of… it was pretty ridiculous. However, he’s a good showman, I had fun hanging out on the lawn with my friends, and this song was my favorite out of the bunch. Plus, I kinda like singing “How do you like me now? now that I’m on my waaaay” in my head to psych myself up on the treadmill. I promise that future songs of the day will be edgier (ok, to be honest, they probably won’t).