Monday, February 28, 2011


Sunday morning I finally got in my long run of the week. I had originally planned on doing so on Saturday, however I accidentally took a 3-hour nap after lunch instead. Whoops!

I plotted a new 4-mile route around my neighborhood, running the first two miles along 7th Ave (my favorite), and then ending at my gym so I could lift. I knew my bike was still at work, which is right by my gym, so I could bike home afterwards.

I started out a little on the slow side, worried that I would burn out and not make the full 4-miles. This was the most mileage I had done since October (!!) and my first outdoor run in a good long while. It was perfect.

The first 2.5 miles are just an out and back along 7th - only one block away from where I live, this street is full of enormous homes on well manicured lots and it makes me smile. They went all-out with Halloween decorations and I'm sad I didn't run at all during December to see how the houses were done up. Going east during the first mile or so, there is just the slightest incline, which makes for a slower first mile, but feels good going west during the second mile.

I was aiming for run five/walk one but found that I felt so good I was flying by the 5 minute mark without even noticing, so I bumped it up to run 6 or 7. I didn't have any side stitches, my legs felt great, my lungs burned just a tiny bit. The weather was perfect, I had worn the perfect amount of layers, and my ipod playlist kept throwing out perfect songs to keep my pace.

I tried to track my pace using my phone, but at the first walking point, I tried to check it, realized it wasn't working right, and gave up. I definitely think my last mile was my fastest, though. I really pushed the pace to try to get to my stopping point by 44 minutes, but ended up getting in there around 46:30. Total mileage was 4.1 miles, which meant I had an average pace of about 11:20 with the walking. Any ideas about how much the walking adds to the pace, oh ye crazy runners? I'd be curious what my running pace was.

Either way, this was one of those confidence boosting runs where you realize "ok, I can do this." and makes me actually like running again. As much as I hated that I kept screwing up Katie's workout and repeating week one, I think doing all of those short runs at a faster pace has helped me out overall. I'm ready to really buckle down and make training a priority; also my pants are starting to not fit again, so the timing is perfect :)

Sunday, February 27, 2011

And the Oscar goes to...

First off, I would like to say that Allison stole my idea :)

Secondly - since being liberated from the death grip of grad school, I have really enjoyed trying to see all of the Oscar nominated films for this year. Without further ado, my predictions:

Best Actor: Colin Firth (The King's Speech)
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale (The Fighter), but kudos to John Hawkes (Winter's Bone), who would have won if he wasn't up against the formidable Bale. Missing in action: Aaron Eckhart (Rabbit Hole). He def should have received the nod over Mark Ruffalo.

Best Actress: Natalie Portman (Black Swan). If anyone other than Portman wins this, I'm turning my TV off.
Best Supporting Actress: Tough, but I think I'm going with Melissa Leo (The Fighter) although, to be fair, I didn't see the fifth movie in this category (Animal Kingdom)

Best Animated Film: Toy Story 3.
Costume Design: Alice in Wonderland
Best Director: Darren Aronofsky - Black Swan (although this category could really go to anyone, and I dont know enough about the technical pieces to give even an educated guess)
Best Picture: The King's Speech. This is a tough one - I could see it going to any of the 10 with the exception of Inception, The Kids are All Right, or Toy Story 3.

I didn't predict all of the categories, mostly because a lot of them would just be a stab in the dark. But I'm very eager to watch tonight!!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Three Things Thursday

1.) Last night I saw Blue Valentine and it was thoroughly depressing. Why do all independent movies that focus on relationships end so sadly? All the ones I've seen have been all like "Oh you think you're happy in this relationship and its going to end well? Welp, doesn't matter, you're wrong. Life is shit and you just deal with it and move on, unhappy and depressed." Thanks for that, independent films. I had to stay up late and watch How I Met Your Mother when I got home, just so I wasn't so sad. I was going to watch Winter's Bone tonight, but I just don't think I can do two depressing movies in a row without killing my Friday

2.) My TV experiment seems to be backfiring. All this week I have been unable to get out of bed in the morning. I feel more well-rested once I get up, but I've hit the snooze until 7:45/8 each morning and just given up showering instead. Its not good for anyone around me. Sure, Katie doesn't shower all that often but she works in her basement most days. I wonder if I've been getting too much sleep because I read before bed now and fall asleep earlier...

3.) I'm working on a proposal for a project at Grand Tetons National Park. If we win it, I get two all expenses paid trips to the park. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Week 1 is history

This morning I took the bus to the gym before work and finally finished a full week one of Katie's workout (what's that you say? It took me ten days instead of seven? never you mind that...). After having pushed the pace for the last 2-3 weeks on my 2 mile runs, I eased up and kept it at 5.7 mph (10:31 minute miles) for my 'long' run (a whopping three miles). I was supposed to keep my run/walk at run 2/walk 1 but I felt good and ran the whole first mile, then switched to run 4/walk 1 until the last run, which I think ended up being 6 minutes to finish out the third mile. The pace felt really good and I think its what I'll aim to keep for the half.

I am also slowly growing accustomed to the crazy exhibitionists in the locker room in the morning. While you might be saying 'hey Rudi, you were a swimmer, aren't you used to naked bodies running all over the place?!' I'd have to say no, no I am not. Sure, there was that one time my relay team for states went skinny dipping in the pool at Methacton after our last practice, but we didn't always have rampant nudity in the locker room. Ok, sometimes we did, but we were all much skinnier back then (or at least I was).

This morning, one woman in the shower didn't even bother to close her curtain, much to my chagrin. Others were drying their hair or running to and from the shower just as God made them. They might have been judging me just as much though, as the girl with no shower shoes. I had forgotten them again - although lets be honest; the floor of that shower is probably cleaned more often than my shower at home and CERTAINLY is cleaned more often than Allison's shower, so how dirty can it be?

All in all, I'm getting to like the AM workouts, locker room nudity aside. And while I scoffed at the idea of paying $10/month to have your own locker at the gym, if morning workouts became routine, I'd definitely consider it. I'm not particular about what hair and body products I use, but the free shampoo and conditioner certainly leaves something to be desired. Plus then I could keep shower shoes there :)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Biker's Laziness

When I biked to work in DC, I went to painstaking lengths to wear the proper amount of layers. The ride was only about 5 miles, but included a few big downhills on the way into work, which let me pick up some serious speed and a serious chill in the winter. I carefully put on silk socks to cover my ankles, layers of fleece and long-sleeve tee shirts, a turtle to cover my neck and chin, and my liner gloves. All for about a 20 minute bike ride.

I have been much more lax since moving to Denver, which is how I found myself biking to work in my flip flops last Friday only to discover it was still in the upper 20s. My poor toes were in some serious pain by the time I arrive at my office, a mere ten minutes later. The two previous mornings had been in the 40s and I assumed the temperature would be similar. How silly of me, this is Denver after all.

In my mind, its only a ten minute ride in stop and go traffic, so if I'm cold, it will be over soon and I'll be toasty in my office in no time. Tell that to my toes. While I used to see what the temperature was and layer accordingly, now I just wear the same thing everyday and check that its above 10 degrees. But I've learned my lesson to wear real shoes (or at least socks, since yesterday I biked in my clogs), until the springtime.

Monday, February 21, 2011

I'm a big ol' copycat

Allison's blog today talks about how she is giving up alcohol until St. Patty's Day. I think I am joining up for that challenge. I checked my calendar first, to make sure there were no major events between now and then, and all I've got thus far are one or two Restaurant Week dinners planned, which will just save me the $7 bucks for a glass of wine anyhow.

I'd been on a three-week bender of food and alcohol, neglecting to go to the gym. Last week I finally got my act together (and my muscles hurt most of the weekend because of it), but my eating still could be improved.

So MY goals for the little less than a month:
Finish each week of Katie's running plan
No (or minimal) alcohol
Log, log, log
My Oscars 'to see' list: The Fighter, Blue Valentine, Winter's Bone, The Town

My original post for today was going to talk about how yesterday I finally took my TV out of my room, with the help of Marisa. I had mentioned that the one thing I was really going to miss was watching the Today Show, which I listened to this morning after turning my living room TV on (of course, since it was a holiday, Jenna Wolfe was on instead - I take a serious disliking to her). But other than that, I think I could get accustomed to the new set up. We shall see. If nothing else, it can always be moved back. After buying a new chair this weekend, Marisa and I also rearranged my entire living room and I'm so in love with the new set up. Sometimes its the small, simple things in life that really just make me smile. Walking into my apartment and seeing my new set up is currently one of them!

What simple things make you smile?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Facts

1.) When I read Katie's and Allison's facts, a lot of the time I think "hey, me too!"

2.) Last night I went to a bar with friends wearing yoga pants, stinking from the gym, two day old dirty hair, and a shirt that didnt fit. I blended right in. I love Denver.

3.) This is the first year I've been able to see a lot of the Oscar films. I have four more to go, two of which arrive on Netflix tomorrow.

4.) Ever since Allison said she uses the same locker every time at the gym, I have started doing the same. I use #73 and am pretty perturbed when it is already taken.

5.) I have signed up to take my AICP in May, with the first study session with my study group next Saturday. I am already dreading relinquishing my new found freedom.

6.) I quote How I Met Your Mother daily. Lauren and Allison are usually the only ones who understand what I'm talking about.

7.) I have been toying with the idea of taking the TV out of my bedroom. My one holdup is that I like to listen/watch the Today Show as I get ready in the morning.

8.) I love when I'm up in time to hear the intro music for the Today Show. I have no idea why.

9.) I only turn my heat on when I have to. I think its a monthly challenge to try to get my utilities bill below $30.

10.) I am working my way through the Harry Potter books for the first time; I'm about a decade behind the times. I am trying to get my hands on book 4, my least favorite movie.

11.) I'm pretty darn proud of myself if I manage to sneak a vegetable into my dinner. I don't like when fruits sneak their way into my dessert.

12.) I am a notoriously picky eater. In the last month I have tried mushrooms (accidentally), clams, mussels, lobster, cod, jambalaya, and pineapple.

13.) My hips and calves get really tight from running. This makes me feel very old.

14.) When I foam roll my IT band, I find it odd that my legs hurt in different places. My upper thigh really hurts when I roll my right leg, but down by my knee hurts when I roll the left.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Look Ma - I'm artistic!

So the reason I went to the gym bright and early yesterday was because I had big and exciting plans after work yesterday. Ok, maybe not big and exciting, but I had plans nonetheless.

Back in the fall when my coworker mentioned that he sometimes went to this place called "Sipping and Painting" I scoffed and said I'd never be caught dead there: I have no artistic ability and that would just stress me out, no matter how much wine they provided.

In January, however, my boss said that she and her husband had bought two groupons for Sipping and Painting and that since they bought more than one, they got a free one and would I like to go. Since it was free I figured hey, why not? I have absolutely no iota of artistic ability. I'm crafty, yes, but mostly with renovations and rehabs of old furniture. Painting? I think not. There are clay sculptures throughout the house that prove my shaky history with the arts. This trait does not just belong to me, however, there was once a sad, lopsided paper mache Cyrano de Bergerac in our basement that confirms my lack of artistic talent is genetic.

But again, it was free. Nothing ventured nothing gained. So I rode my bike over to the Highlands section of Denver last night, got my token for a free glass of wine, and settled in with my paint and blank canvas.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I was not nearly as stressed as I thought I would be. There is a specific painting taught each night, but you dont have to follow that design or the suggested color scheme. The background suggested was black, which I didn't like at all, so I got to mixing up my own paint colors and decided on teal. I got a little impatient listening to the instruction on how to do the martini glass, so I just forged my own path instead. I had fun mixing up new colors and not worrying about my shaky lines or misshapen olives (although the two glasses of wine certainly helped quell my inner-critic) and it actually turned out fairly well! I daresay I'd go back.

So without further ado - my painting:

Versus what it was 'supposed' to look like, in theory:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This morning I finally did it. I finally got up, biked to the gym, and got in my workout before work.

When I was initially considering this gym membership, I wavered back and forth over the price. My gym is a whopping $76 a month, which makes my heart stop a bit each time I say it. Thankfully, with Berger's new healthcare plan, I'll get $30 reimbursement each month, which makes it more reasonable. I figured it was worth it to forgo cable and internet in order to join the gym that is literally within half a block of my office.

So this morning, I was completely happy with my decision to join. They provide towels, toiletries, hairdryers, curling irons and straighteners, so I only had to bring minimal stuffs. After hitting snooze twice (calculating in my head how long I could snooze for and still make it to work on time), I hauled out of bed and got ready. Last night I had actually packed my bag and laid out my clothes so that I didn't have to think/wouldn't forget some vital article of clothing. I hopped on my bike and was at the gym in under ten minutes.

I went through my arms and back lifting routine (unlike Katie's, mine only takes 15 minutes, and I'm still incredibly sore after!) and then hopped on the treadmill for my two mile workout. It was a rough two miles. I got a bad side stitch and my legs were cranky, even though I had foam rolled yesterday. My body is protesting my rapid switch from "couch and pizza" back to "gym and apples". I eased up the pace for the second mile, but it was still a rough mile. I finished both miles at about an 11 minute pace, walking included, so I'm ok with that.

With Marisa coming into town this weekend, I'm completing my 'long' run this week on Friday morning. I'm praying for good weather so I can run it outside on my 3.1 loop around Cheeseman Park. Yoga might also have to join my workout plans - my legs are a hurtin'!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ok, this IS the week....

...that I will finally finish week one of Katie's running workout. For the last three weeks I have managed two out of the three runs suggested, but have yet to complete it. Third time's the charm, right?

I did one of the week one short runs again last night. I've been trying to push the pace a lot for these, since how hard is it to run hard for two miles when every third minute is walking?? Instead of easing into the pace last night, I just went hard right after warm up and learned a very valuable lesson: don't do that. Within the end of the first mile, I had to stop twice to stretch out my shins, but to no avail. I angrily hopped over to the elliptical for five minutes then tried again. I reduced the speed a bit and my shins seemed to calm down and I did my second mile. For better or worse, 6.0 mph now feels 'easy' and it used to be my fast pace. I'd like to run the half marathon between a 10 to 10:30 minute mile pace, so I try to get closer to 9 min miles for my short runs. I have no idea if this makes logical sense or is recommended, but it makes sense to me, so I'm sticking with it.

Otherwise, its been a beautiful week in Colorado. Last night I went over to Kyle's with some beers and he taught me how to fix my bike. More accurately, he fixed my bike while I watched and drank said beers. I learned a few things that I had really been doing wrong which should help keep my bike in better shape from now on. I happily rode into work this morning in the nice weather. I even threw on my winter biking gloves, just because I haven't gotten much of a chance to use them yet. I'm eagerly looking forward to some more gym time (I have actually missed the gym and veggies, my three week bender is officially over) and then biking home to relax and clean in anticipation for Marisa's Friday arrival!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Hello Again, Denver

Since February began, I have spent less than 72 hours in Colorado. Three separate occasions all kind of manifested at once and left me traveling back to back to back, clambering to do laundry, re-pack and sleep for about 12 hours between each.

New Orleans was fantastic. I saw a lot of what I visited the first time around, but also traveled to Mississippi for one day and hung out on Bourbon Street for a bit. The Spotted Cat on Frenchman St is still my favorite, I still don't understand the hype over Magazine Street, and I got to eat the best fried chicken of my life. By the end of the trip my pants barely fit, but it was well worth it. Coast visited: Gulf; timezone: Central

Hand Grenades: dangerous

After a quick superbowl watching (back in the Mountain Timezone), I was back on a plane headed for Seattle. Two morning meetings in Fort Lawton and Everett were fairly short and allowed us almost the entire trip to dedicate to sightseeing. I ventured up into the Spaceneedle, visited Pikes Place market, bought a coffee mug at the first Starbucks, did the Underground tour, and generally enjoyed a relaxing work week. Coast visited: Pacific; timezone: Pacific

Picking the nose of the Fremont Troll

Thursday night it was back to Denver, with a turnaround time of only 7-8 hours. I managed to throw in some laundry, take my bike to Kyle for fixin', get some groceries, and sleep a wee bit before catching my 6 am flight to Philly via Chicago. Dad picked me up at the airport and we had a beer or two at the local watering hole before surprising Mom at her happy hour in Skippack. She had no idea that I was flying home for her 60th birthday and her reaction was priceless. All three Byrons burst into tears and it was well worth the trip! We saw True Grit (really good!), ate waaaay too much food (Ruth's Chris - NOM!), and before I knew it, I was back on the plane for Denver, via Chicago. I lucked out and the plane from O'Hare to Denver was an international-sized one with individual TV screens. I settled in to watch 127 Hours (cringe!) and was home before I knew it. Coast: East; timezone: Eastern.


All three coasts, all four timezones, all within 10 days. I even managed to sneak in a few runs, although not as many as I had hoped for. Now I'm back in Denver without any travel in sight but busy weeks ahead.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Tomorrow I get to be here.