Saturday, 26 September 2015

Travel plans

I am so excited!! I go to Miami and then the Florida Keys in a week. This was a wedding gift from my parents. How awesome is that?
I've been dying for a proper break. The last time I took more than a day or two off was last Christmas. I know I have a looooong break ahead of me soon but it'll be nice to do this and have some spending money. We have a ton of stuff planned so let's hope the weather stays good since some of it involves open water boat trips, ekk!
j.R.R Tolkien photo:

I'm also surprised my credit card isn't screaming at me as I booked two sets of flights the other night. One to accompany Martina to Texas at the start of December well also to run RnR San Antonio. As I won't be working I was flexible with my days and got a return flight, SC to Texas, for $200. What a steal.

The second is my flight home the following week. Again by being flexible and wiling to sit in an airport for a lot longer than I'd like, I knocked a few hundred dollars of my ticket price. I can't wait. It's been so long but I'm sure after a day it'll be like I never left. I was sad that I was leaving Martina here alone for our first married Christmas but at least if everything goes well I'll be back for New Years Eve. 

I wonder if I'll be well and truly sick of travelling in January somehow I don't think so!!

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Navy-Air Force Half Marathon, Washington DC Sept 2015

At home part of today again and I can't sleep so I thought between coughs I'd finally get my race review written. I've somehow deleted all my go pro pictures so I'm sorry if this ends up incredibly boring ;)

DC is such a small area it's actually difficult to find a race that is truly in DC. It's the nations capital, so of all races that I'm running for my 50 states goal I wanted to cover as much ground in the district as possible. Technically DC is not a state but I'm including it in my challenge. So far I've found this race and Rock and Roll DC that run within DC for most of the race. I've already run one and I'm signed up for another Rock and Roll race this year, so I do like them, but let's spread the love a little!!

The Navy Air Force race is organized by, you guessed it, the Navy and the Air Force. The packet pickup was a bit of a Metro ride away in the DC Armory. Alòng with my bib I got a unisex long sleeve tech shirt (excellent tshirt exchange). The expo was small but they had some great extra race merchandise for sale that I was itching to buy.

The next day the race started at 7am. I grabbed a free banana at my hostel and made my way to the metro. It opened an hour early at 6. That would have been great if my station actually opened on time . I missed the first train and waited another 20 minutes for the next one. 
***This is the only thing I'd change about the race. If you are going to have no special parking arrangements and encourage everyone to use the metro, it needs to open more than an hour early and the trains need to run frequently. I know this is probably outside the RDs control but I cut it really tight I could have easily missed the start altogether and I wasn't even staying that far away. ***
My anxiety went away as soon as I got on a train. It was fun, an entire train full of runners. The approx. 1% that were non runners looked very out of place for once. I got off at the Smithsonian stop and it was less than a five minute walk to the start right at the Washington monument.  

I knew I was running very short on time so I went straight for the very long port a potty line and was in line listening to the national anthem and the race start. No biggie! This race was huge I just joined the back of the pack and still had to walk for a few minutes before crossing the line.

The first few miles of this race were awesome, you get a nice view of a ton of monuments. Then a few miles along the Potomac River. Even the less scenic miles were pretty...we were running under giant stone road bridges. Every time I saw a bench I thought of Olivia Pope, wished she was real and would show up, so I could steal whatever awesome coat she was sure to be wearing. 

The whole run had loads of people at all times. Even though I was pretty close to the back of the pack and going nowhere fast, the aid stations were still well stocked. I never felt like I missed out on anything.
The temperatures were good, maybe a bit humid. I was sweating a lot but I'm pretty sure I had a fever at the time so my perception might be a bit biased.  Pacing I found hard, I felt very sluggish. I got no sort of boost from the usual hype at the start of a race. After about a mile I was wondering why I wasn't done and dreading the rest of the run. I gave my self a bit of a talking to and pushed all of that out of my head. 

My new phone, the cheapest smartphone I could find, surprisingly has a radio that works without data. I put that on and although it was a bit fuzzy it played the best songs the whole time I ran. Mentally that was huge. Running is my music time, at least on slow runs, let's just hope I didn't sing out loud!
I knew my pace wouldn't be hot anyhow, hello lack of consistent running or speed work!!! Even though I had a good inkling that my IT problems at the last race were just down to travel etc I was worried they'd rear their ugly head. Thankfully, no problem with that or cramping. 
My pace didn't increase as the race went on but it didn't slow down either. I took a bathroom break (loads of potties on course) at mile 9 and had to walk a bit to try figure out what the hell was wrong with my go pro clip (it broke after a little tumble) but other then that I stayed strong throughout. I even had a little kick at the end..barely ha,ha.
I thought the medal for the race was great, really colorful. Once I got that I went straight for food and water. As well as water, really randomly they were giving out redbull. Caffeine, my love, come to meeeeee!! 
Food wise I got a banana and a Disney style food box. I ate the banana and drank a ton of water and red bull before trekking back towards my hostel. I showered, checked out, called home and sat around the hostels TV area devouring the contents of my snack box. I ate almost everything, except some fake cheese s&!t, so I'd say the race food was a winner.

So ignore all my moaning. I'm not complaining only trying to give an honest account of how I felt. Overall I really enjoyed this race and my entire race weekend in DC. I definetely think it was worth it to wait and run a race truly in DC, running through the monuments was beautiful and inspiring.

Another slow one with a chip time of 2.17. Another few races and some cooler weather and I should be able to drop that time significantly. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Wednesday rambling thoughts

My view for the day invokes Vicks, tissues and Boomer. My ear infection etc. from the weekend has turned to my first full blown cold in a while. I don't get them often but when I do it's usually a doozy. At least I know wasn't imagining things!! I'm getting to catch up on some sleep and puppy snuggles. Damn all my coworkers and their germs...really I love you guys just not the germs. 

I blame them and the fact that the heat was out in my building at work for 3 days last week. For my building they cool the air to 55F, dehumidify it and then heat it to the temperature they want it to be. Seems a bit crazy which means I sat and worked in a room that was around 55F all day for 3 days  well really I alternated between that and sweating every time I walked outside. 
I feel like I'm getting sick and or injured a lot these last few months. I need to come out the other side of this, lose a little weight and run more..I don't get sick very often when I run a lot. 

I might be running a temperature but I'm toying with the idea of another full marathon. Not nessicarily for time but just as a distance goal that's scary and will force me to stick religiously to a schelude! Either that or I have to really sit down and think about a goal race (half marathon) to try for a PR. 

Regardless I'm actually looking forward to fall and even winter running. Don't quote me on that last one in January. Summer seems like a time when you should be out enjoying the long days and sunshine but then you realise that you've lost half your body weight in sweat, any speed you thought you had has disappeared and you've accumulated 10 million new bug bite scars on your slow legs. In summer  I generally feel like a running loser. 
Colder weather means faster running, no snakes, and minimal sweat. You can layer up for the cold but no one wants to see me run naked mid-summer ha ha. Yes running in the winter darkness is more dangerous but it's nice and calming. I won't have a job this winter anyhow so I guess I can run mid-day if I want woohoo. 
My only distraction from running this winter will be my trip home. I live in the country along dangerously busy roads. I'm going to have to plan out some places to run and get a ride there and back. Be prepared for some running photos from Ireland. It'll be a hell of a lot colder and wetter there. I don't think it'll be green at all then but hopefully it'll still be pretty.

 I have no idea where I'm going with this rambling post so I'll stop here and take another nap!

Monday, 21 September 2015

Washington DC

My first trip to DC was a nice two hour stroll around the monuments at the mall. This time I had two days. I arrived late on Friday night. Since I was travelling alone I went with the cheapest possible option, a bed in an eight bed dorm. 
I'm no stranger to hostels having stayed in them many times in Europe. While some people may turn their noses up at them, I think they are great way to travel. This one, HI DC was clean, had towels, Internet and a free breakfast. 
The only downside of hostels is sometimes there are some people who don't quite get that they are sharing a room. The first night a girl stayed up well after midnight shuffling stuff around her bag, got up at 5.30 and spent hours doing makeup etc. The next night she went in and out of the room until after 3am. I did not get much sleep at all!!!
Going with my backpacker vibe for the weekend I travelled with just a small backpack. That included all my running gear except my shoes which I wore all weekend, of course I was going for a race. It was great strolling out of the airport without waiting at a carousel. I left my good camera at home (relying on my go pro and new phone <---I gave in and got one but still no cell service) so I wasn't leaving valuables alone at a hostel.
I ate way too much on this trip and had way too much sugar..including a Devils concoction called a salted caramel mocha frappachino. It was probably a gazillion calories but I was so hot and thirsty. 
Part of the reason I over ate was because I was sick. Some people lose their appetite when they get sick....oh no not me! I woke up on Saturday with out of control allergies, an outer ear infection and an upset tummy. I went straight to CVS and spent a small fortune on drugs. They perked me up a lot and I stopped feeling so sorry for myself. I went off for the day and explored the natural history museum and the air and space museum....both free. 
A tiny nasa suit....I want a little boy just so I can buy one!!
Randomly I also came across a festival, Fiesta, celebrating Hispanic culture and managed to snap a few cute shots of the kids dressed up.

The next day I went and did my race. I got back to the hostel in time to shower and check out..winning. Some more food later and I headed to the National Zoo, also free. I got off at the Cleveland Park stop as a website conveniently told me the closer stop (Woodley Park) was an up hill walk. After running the half, no hills no thanks. I spent an hour and a half wandering. I mostly skimmed since I didn't have a better camera I didn't spend the hours I normally would have. The sloths were definetely the stand out star of the day. 

A loomnng journey to the airport later and my trip was over but boy was I glad to be home. DC is a great little city packed with tons of stuff to do. What a fun weekend. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Henrietta Homemaker .....the beginnings

Well I'm not really Henrietta Homemaker, more like her dysfunctional sister Suzy. After Apple picking and pumpkin buying on Sunday I decided to make something with the lovely produce we bought.
 My first attempt at making pumpkin butter was a clove laden disaster. The second much better.
 I can't pretend to have an exact receipe but basically I roasted a small pumpkin and then mushed it up in Apple cider. I added cinnamon, all spice and ground cloves (slowly like a 1/4 tsp at a time, tasting the entire time) once happy, I added enough Apple cider to make the mixture pretty runny and let simmer on a low heat for two hours. The result went really well on my oatmeal this morning.
I also made Apple jelly which tastes delicious but didn't really set. I have a ton of apples left so no doubt I'll be making more messes in the future.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Shake it off

This week has been a stress roller coaster. One minute I'm fine the next I'm almost in tears. I never claimed to be the most emotionally stable person in the world!!!
However off things feel I'm always reminded that life is not bad at all. This evening I started my run in nice weather (low 70s) and because I had an old iPod for music I was surprised by my music the whole started of with Florence and The Machines' Shake it Off, a very apt selection for how I'm feeling right now.
Sunday, was a nice reminder that it's easy to do something nice and fun with the people that matter. I went apple picking with my little family and some friends.

 It was fun and cost almost nothing. Who can be sad with so many pretty sunflowers around anyhow.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Losing my job: sad & exciting

I found out today that my time in my current job/lab is coming to an end. Not because I'm bad at my job, in fact my boss speaks very highly of me especially to other people, but because the big grant that my salary has come from for the last couple of years has ended. 
During my time in my lab I basically took the research they already did, started my own project and generated a ton of data that was written up as another big grant in my bosses name. I wrote the research proposal on the understanding that I'd have another year of salary in return. Well the result from the application came back today. It scored in the 11th percentile....really good for the first grant I've ever (co)written, not funded but with a different agency it might have been. So the first person to go in a mostly graduate student (who can teach for salary) lab is the relatively expensive postdoc. 

I'm really sad, I struggled to be professional and prevent myself from crying when I found out. I knew it was a long shot but I guess today was the climax of months of stress. 99% of days I love my research project, my boss and the people I work with...a rare combination for a post-doctoral researcher. My last day while not until mid-November will be a hard one. I'm crying just writing this...big baby!!!

 A lot of the upset I'm feeling is fear. I don't have another job to go to. I'm going to be unemployed for a while, at least 3-4 months, while I transition from being on my own visa to being authorized to work on Martina's. It could be a good thing, an avenue to career options I can't even picture right now but the control freak in me is afraid.

In good news:
It's probably time I'm forced to move on and find something else, in a different geographical area I probably would have by now. My job just doesn't challenge me in a way that keeps me on my toes anymore. Writing grants, coming up with research ideas etc. does but it's not really a major part of my job. I do all of that. I just can't dedicate myself to it full time, that's part of my bosses job.

Related to that, I'm not going to look for another postdoc job. I don't want to continue with the lack of job security, poor salary and mountains of stress. Ideally, I'd like to teach (with little to no research) or research in industry full time. Polar opposites I know. Depending on when Martina is ready to move I'm going to try get some more teaching experience, even if it's only part time, to see if teaching is a viable option.

I get to go home to Ireland (to change visa status, hopefully successfully) for 3 weeks over Christmas and see my family. The thought of stepping foot on Irish soil after 3 years is overwhelming. I miss it terribly. The people, the country and the FOOD. My moms dog is about to give birth to puppies so as an added bonus I might get to snuggle then while I'm away from my own doggy.

I get a few months were I can work out a lot AND have a clean house. It seems stupid but I'm going to get into a routine to keep myself busy from one end of the day to the other. Maybe I should sign up for another marathon...lots of training time.

So that's my news for today...pretty life changing!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Feeling hungry and mean today

One half of me and then the other......

I don't know if today is some sort of delayed, super-human delayed, reaction to weight lifting last week but man I could eat everything around me today. Lots of water it is!! 

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Training week 1 of September

September has come out of nowhere. I'm enjoying it so far. The students are back in town. As awful as it is for parking etc. it brings a bit of bustle to town. In work it changes things too, everyone gets in early, to teach, and we even get undergraduates in lab. This makes the place feel busier. Even though I'm long past my student days even I get sucked into a little bit of a summer motivational slump. Going away to Boston and then coming back to this has given me a great energy boost in all aspects of life including running.


Body Pump 7am
My second class in 4 days....we are on a roll. I've convinced Martina (she who shuns physical exercise..except knitting)  to go with me and she likes it!! Our honeymoon is in a month so I think the thought of having to wear a bikini is real motivation for both of us.
Todays class was a lot easier than Friday. I really focused on keeping my shoulders in the correct position and it made all the difference, by the time I got to the shoulder track I could do 99% of it and both of my shoulders were equally exhausted. DOMs were also minimal afterwards.

3 miles running @ 9.39 min/mile
The temperatures were bumped back above 90 and humid for this run. My phone is still not no music either :(

4 miles running @9.31 min/mile
I was lured out for an earlier than usual run by the thought of stealing some water from the local running club at my 1.5 mile mark. I reached the bench and no water :( they did have water and watermelon at the park entrance but I slunk off instead of talking to randomers post-run. I tried to stretch but couldn't hold onto anything as I was a sweaty Betty in 95F heat. However, like drinking as long as you aren't the worst in the room its ok. A lot of shirtless guys out today.  I'm just jealous that a) most guys think about running and lose weight and b) tied to that they look good enough to and are able to run without a top. Damn them!

Thursday -rest
Haircut at 7 so no run.

BodyPump @7am
All I can say is my biceps burned. 
3 miles running @ 10.15 min/mile
A quick 3 miles before heading to a friends house for board games (yes we are that cool). Got home late and then a hour and a half of Boomer barking at a strong thunderstorm....just let me sleeeeeep.

3 miles running @10.07 min/miles
No music while running makes me bored so only 3 miles today.

7 miles running @9.44 min/mile
I spent all day sweating. My day started with a couple of hours on the grass. I've realized why it was such a chore last year and why it's been much faster and easier to cut this year...drought. This week we had lots of rain and oh boy was it out of control after one week. I could feel sweat dripping on my legs even wearing light pants.
Then car washing, another sweatfest. Once all the household chores were completed I went out for a run. Due to a weekend of storms the temperatures were sneaking into the 70s as it was getting dark. The humidity was over 90% but it still felt relatively cool. I charged an old iPod classic for some music, I missed using my headphones to change tracks..but it was MUSIC!! 
I felt good through the whole run, no aches or pains. Looking forward to more cool days so I can start to add some miles to a few of my runs, especially the long one.
Martina did a bad thing and fed my addiction by buying a multipack of cans....half of it might be gone. I've been doing good avoiding it but when they are in the fridge.....
In good habit news, I've mostly stuck to my 30 mins of yoga a day. The earlier I do it the more likely it is that it'll happen. I hope everyone is having a great long weekend. What is the one thing/things for you were self control is impossible? For me it's cola and chocolate