About this Site

Leslie Beslie is a personal blog of me, Leslie. I share articles and thoughts on where I live and things I like. This includes NYC, books, finances, running, music, cats, and drawing.

Other Projects: French Toast Brigade | Life & Spending 2016 Weekly Planner | College Football Daybreak Podcast

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2015

brooklyn half marathon bells oberon

This was my third Brooklyn Half and sixth half marathon in total. Last year, I began training too early and had lost a lot of my momentum by the month of the race. That was the first year I attempted actually training. I had a goal time and everything. I didn’t meet it. And I didn’t have a good race. I ran almost-PR’s for all my splits then completely gave up at Mile 10. I had nothing left. And walked most of the last three miles. I was miserable. It wasn’t even my worst time. But it was my worst experience.

For this year, I decided to go back to my training plan of Fuck It. This entails no consistent running schedule whatsoever. Some haphazard “long runs.” Zero pressure. It’s worked in the past so I actually had high hopes. Well, I was three-minutes slower this year than last year. But my overall experience was far better.

Last year, I did not run to the best of my ability. I gave in to my mental weaknesses. This year, I know I could not have ran that race any better. Unless I actually trained, of course. Going in with what I had, I never stopped when I didn’t need to. I never let myself get discouraged. And I really dug deep while struggling and continued when I didn’t want to. That felt good.

So my preparation for the 2015 BK Half included 17 total runs between January & May, the longest being 5-miles. I am not encouraging this. Especially if you are new new to running.

Training for the Mental Race

This year wasn’t about physical training. I already know how to deal with cramps, blisters, pacing, hydration, and dry-wicking material. Last year I let negative thoughts get the best of me and I did not want that to happen this year.

This year, I trained my brain to not sabotage me during the run. I actually wish I had done this in previous races because it helped more than anything else I’ve ever tried. It took a strategy. I came up with a plan of attack for when my doubts and worries come up in the late part of the race. I chose three ideas that could occupy my time and took some thinking.

The first idea I prepared was a current artsy project I’ve started working on for fun. It consists of multiple pages. So I broke down each page in my head. I thought about font, colors, layout, spacing, etc. The minute details were time-consuming to think about and a great distraction. The second idea was working through one of my NaNoWriMo stories. I thought about character development, plot points, sense, and the fictional world. This was another successful distraction because I really could get lost in the story world.

When I began to think Why am I doing this? I don’t even like running, I quickly told my brain “Stop!” Then paused for a second to bring back up what I was last thinking about in the project or story. “Okay, but what about the main character’s sister? Where does she fall in place.” By asking myself questions, it kept up a good distraction from negative thoughts. Or just thoughts about the physical pain I was in.

BK Half Recap

It was a cloudy Saturday. There were fears it was going to rain. It did, later on. Before the race even started, I had to stand in a 25-minute security line. Not a baggage check security line. Just a metal detector security line. … Even at this part I practiced my distraction exercises. I get so upset at ostentatious security. I often exert a lot of energy getting mad at people before a race starts. I didn’t want to make myself so upset this time. So while standing in this mandatory line for the most absurd reasons, I thought about my story to keep myself calm.

The rain held off until the race started (Wave 2). Within the first mile we could start to feel rain drops. Then it really started down pouring. We weren’t even in the park yet and it was raining hard. I’ve ran in the rain before but never during a half. I was prepared with a hat and dry-wicking everything. But it was pretty miserable. My hair was sticking to me. My clothes felt gross. My socks were now wet. There was mud and road gunk everywhere. Just kind of gross.

On the plus-side, the clouds remained the whole time. The run down Ocean Parkway is so boring. It’s flat. There aren’t too many spectators. There’s not much scenery. Since you’re on a highway, there is no shade, so this part is the worst when the sun is out. I was very grateful that it remained cloudy for the entire race.

I stretched a few times, for the first time during a half. I planned it out at certain mile markers and I really think it helped. Although my pace is slow, I only stopped to drink water and stretch. I was running the rest of the time. After the race, I felt fairly good and just had a normal Saturday.

To be honest here, the Great Saunter felt like more of a challenge and struggle than any Half Marthon I’ve ran. Two and a half hours is a joke compared to a 12-hour activity that actually takes up your entire day.

A Few Thoughts on the Diva Cup

This is a short review of my experience with the Diva Cup, a reusable menstrual product. These are my opinions and this post is not sponsored.

Reusable menstruation products stored in the little bags they come with

Reusable menstruation products stored in the little bags they come with

One less thing to buy is always a good thing in my book. So when I first learned about sustainable menstrual products, I was intrigued though also a bit perplexed. I liked buying a product only once but questioned the cleanliness of it. I liked that the cup has less safety risks but questioned the cleaning process. I worried I might lose it. I worried it would be too big. I worried it would be too small. It was such a different way of thinking to the disposables that I had always used.

However, disposable tampons and pads can be expensive and are certainly wasteful. Plus, they were never that practical for me. My periods have always been light. Tampons were usually too much. I didn’t like the feeling of pads or panty liners. I also was neurotic about only keeping a tampon in for the minimum time for fear of getting Toxic Shock Syndrome.

[In 10th grade I was in an all-girl rock band. We named ourselves TSS. We were a band for a week.]

Using The Diva Cup

The Diva Cup, a reusable menstruation cup

The Diva Cup, a reusable menstruation cup

About a year ago, instead of running to the store to purchase another box of tampons, I decided to finally buy the Diva Cup. First, it was much larger than I expected. But don’t freak out. If you follow the directions and fold it up, it fits just fine.

After getting through the first few uses and figuring out what worked best for me, I couldn’t feel it at all. There are two sizes. Even though I am over 30-years old, I still bought the smaller one. My vagina didn’t instantly turn into a cavern when I turned 30.

Since the cup is made out of silicone, there is no TSS risk. You can begin using it before your period actually starts. This also makes it perfect for overnight, which I love. The brand suggests you change it at least once every 12 hours. Since I am light, this works well for me. If you are heavier, you may have to change it sooner. It will probably take you a few uses to determine how it best works for you.

Cleaning the Diva Cup

Unlike tampons and pads absorbing liquid, the reusable cups collect it. This means you have to empty and clean the cup yourself. With that said, cleaning the cup is much easier than I thought it would be. At home, you simply wash it with soap and warm water.

Public bathrooms are a little different but it’s definitely not a hassle. Just remember to wash your hands before you enter the stall, then wipe out the cup with some tissue. When you get home you can wash it properly.

You are given a little bag to store it in, so it is safe and clean when you’re not using it.

I’ve been using the Diva Cup for almost a year and haven’t once thought about going back to disposables. Most of the menstruation cups cost about $30. This will easily save you money in the long-run. It might also help you feel safer and a bit more eco-conscious.

I mainly love that it is perfect for a lighter period. I never have the discomfort of removing a dry tampon or the worry of a foreign object sitting inside my body too long. And I don’t have to feel like I’m wearing a diaper. I definitely recommend trying any of the menstruation cups.

Brooklyn Half Marathon 2014 Recap

signs at brooklyn half marathon - you are faster than the g train

I AM faster than the G train

After writing about my ‘training‘ on here since practically February, race day finally arrived! I was one of 27,000 runners who ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon this past weekend; 5/17/14. Although I did get burned out on training around April and really didn’t do enough long runs toward the end, I still finished. And didn’t have my worst time. So I’m happy about that!

NYRR BK Half Expo

Some general advice to event coordinators, don’t put a large gathering of people inside a tent. Also, don’t make people trudge far to find said tent. And especially don’t do these things when trying to represent a whole borough.

The Brooklyn Half Expo this year was in DUMBO (down under manhattan bridge overpass) right on the waterfront. It is pretty. And usually has pretty views. Unfortunately, the three days leading up to the race it was cloudy and rainy. I was happy that it didn’t rain on race day. But hiking down to the waterfront, amidst DUMBO’s non-grid cobblestone streets, and beside park construction, was even less fun in the rain.

New York Road Runners put on this giant three-day expo that really was more for publicity than the runners. There was a small tent containing bib & t-shirt pick-up, plus about 3 small vendor tables. Outside on the pier were food + beer stands, food trucks, and a stage for live bands/work outs. The general public were invited to share in the festivities. Sounds great and all but really just meant little for the runners. Also I learned that NYRR just has waaaay too much money.

Running the Race

Ready to get this race over with! brooklyn half marathon
The day of a race is definitely the worst day to wake up with a migraine. My alarm was set for 5:15a but a pounding migraine woke me up at 4a. I sat up in bed, exhausted, nervous, and shaking in pain hoping that it would subside. My thoughts were scattered if I should still run it. If I could even leave my bed. Drama aside, after taking a bunch of advil and crying while walking around my apartment for an hour, the pain finally dulled down to the point I could function again. For good measure, I took a few more advil before heading out.

I guess there’s security clearance for races now so that took a lot longer than expected, even without having a bag to check. Once I got to my corral, a co-worker found me who was also running. I’m used to running these things alone, so it was pretty nice having someone to chat with for the 45+ minutes we were waiting for the race to start. Our wave started at 7:45a but we didn’t cross the start until almost 8:15a.

The first portion of the race went really well. I felt strong, wasn’t tired, my asthma wasn’t acting up. This shows in my time as my 5K, 10K, and 15K splits were all my second-fastest times to date. The spectators were great and there were some great signs, like the one above. I kept telling myself, I am faster than the G train!

This was the second time running this race and I still love the course. Prospect Park and Ocean Parkway are two routes I run very frequently so both were familiar to me. The one downside is that the course passes right by my apartment. It was so tempting to just detour on home to the couch! But that was around mile 7 and I was still feeling pretty good then.

Then mile-10 came along and pain started settling in. First, I felt my quads tightening up. This was rather strange for me because, if anything, my calves are usually the ones to feel sore. Then I began to feel the blisters in my big toes. Everyone knows that runner’s feet aren’t sexy. I’ve had so many blisters on my toes over the years that they are actually calloused now. But sometimes during races, I get blisters inside the callouses. Gross!

Somehow, I still felt good mentally. I never felt utterly miserable and never told myself “I’m never doing this ever again.” The race still felt short. But I was in a lot of pain those last three miles. It definitely showed that I didn’t put enough focus on long runs in my last month of training. Lesson learned.


Fifth Race Down

I finished! My fifth half marathon! My second time running the Brooklyn half!

  • Official Time: 2:24:08 // 11:01mm pace
  • 5K Split: 0:31:03 // 9:59mm pace
  • 10K Split: 1:04:59 // 10:27mm pace
  • 15K Split: 1:39:10 // 10:38mm pace
  • 20K Split: 2:16:03 // 10:56mm pace

Out of five, this places third for time. I feel confident that I can keep up the momentum I had in the beginning of this race throughout the whole thing. My brain wasn’t even sabotaging me this time, my body was. And that is a much easier obstacle to fix.

I know I may not be fast and probably never will be but I still enjoy the challenge of these races. I’m planning to do another half in the fall. To keep up my momentum over the sweltering summer months, I’ve also committed to a 5K summer series. Eight races for $25 is a great deal and hopefully I can get a PR in there somewhere!

Weekly Updates: March Madness + Half Marathon Training Modified

Life: Half Marathon Training – Weeks 6 & 7

After receiving advice from a very helpful comment and another running friend, I’ve decided to completely modify my current training plan. I had been following Run Keeper’s sub 2:15 half marathon plan.

The plan itself is a bit advanced for what I need. So using advice from last week’s comment, and listening to my body, I wrote up an entirely new calendar for training. The new training plan consists of two runs during the week day, one of them speed work. And two runs over the weekend, one of them long. Then two days of cross training and a rest day.

For this race, my minimum goal is sub-2:20 to PR. In 2012 I ran the Brooklyn Half in 2:22:52 and the NYC Half in 2:21:13. I don’t care how much I PR by. For training purposes, I’m giving myself a goal race pace of 10:30mm. That’s an estimated finish time of 2:17:39. This current week was my first modified week and it’s been going really well. I might be able to take it up a notch. But it feels better than not being able to keep up. In the long run that wouldn’t help anything and could really cause injury.

Here’s my training workouts from the past two weeks!

Half Marathon Training – Week 6

  • 12 x 400: 5mi / 0:52:01 / 10:24mm
  • Treadmill: 3.1 / 0:33:55 / 10:56mm
  • 4 x 1: 6 / 1:04:57 / 10:49mm

Week 6 Total: 14.1 / 2:30:53 / 10:43mm

I also spent 30 minutes strength training three of the days. This is something I like about going to a gym. It is a nice change and is really helping me feel more fit.

Half Marathon Training – Week 7

  • Running: 4.01 / 0:54:38 / 0:13:37mm
  • Treadmill: 2.67 / 0:30:00 / 11:14mm
  • Elliptical: 2 / 0:30:00
  • Treadmill: 6 / 1:06:23 / 11:04mm
  • Running: 10.4 / 1:58:00 / 11:21mm

Week 7 Total: 25.08 / 4:29:01 / 11:49mm

Life: March Madness – Go Green!

Perfect Bracket Go Spartans March Madness MSU
Go Spartans!!!!!!!!!

I’m sorry if you don’t like basketball, really I am. I don’t get award shows and I know how annoying those are when they’re happening. And the NCAAM tournament isn’t just one night. But I do think it’s fun even if you don’t like basketball. Usually people who randomly guess brackets end up doing a lot better anyway.

I’ve made three brackets this year: two for groups and one for me. This year is strange with so many non-fans rooting for my team to win the national championship (MSU alum here). Even the president pick them to win! Thanks, Obama.

After two days, my brackets aren’t in terrible shape. My picks were all over the place but I am winning in one of the groups with 260 points. Thank you NDSU.

Really I love all the stories. Like the Olympics, I love hearing the struggles schools and athletes faced to get there. The records the underdogs break when they win. And the look of determination on all their faces. Remember folks, these are college kids. Little babies! The oldest on a team might be a 22 year old fifth-year senior. Little babies running around with a basketball doing amazing things.

Fun fact: North Dakota State University is the first team from the entire state of North Dakota to win a game in the NCAAM tournament.

Book: Have You Found Her?

Have You Found Her? A memoir by Janice Erlbaum

Have You Found Her? A memoir by Janice Erlbaum

This is one of those books I was able to finish in one sitting. That doesn’t mean it was good. I spent four hours on the couch last Sunday reading this memoir and being a bed for the cats. What kept me reading this pretentious tale was the predictable-ness of the story.

Within the first fifteen pages I had predicted an ending. I basically kept reading to see if I was right. It took a while, the reveal wasn’t until the very end, but it turns out my plot prediction was correct. It’s difficult to read true stories like this and not be able to understand how the author couldn’t ‘see this one coming too’. Yes, I know, it’s different being inside something than outside looking in. It’s just frustrating at as a reader.

The writing style was fine and easy-going. Erlbaum’s thoughts and actions were so goddamn pretentious though. Unbelievable in some cases. Like she really thought she was saving the world.

Erlbaum starts the story explaining she lived in a girl’s shelter in NYC for a few months as a teenager. Now she’s a grown-up living the good life in a fancy pants apartment. She wants to give back. So she starts volunteering at that same shelter. She immediately makes favorites, bringing certain girls gifts and things, getting pretty obsessed about how helpful she is. How much of a difference she can make on these girl’s lives.

Then she meets Sam. This is not a book about her volunteering at the shelter and all the different girl’s she meets. It is not about her learning the stories of other’s. This is her story about how her intimate (platonically) relationship with one of these girls. It is about how she tries to saves someone. I guess that’s why it is a memoir. It is all about her and her supposedly good intentions.

Then Erlbaum meets Sam and immediately starts taking care of this girl who is in and out of hospitals.
Sam is in constant need of attention. There is always a drama. There is always something wrong with her. Her life was extremely bad growing up. Though she can expertly play a piano (she said she learned from a drug dealer…)

It’s really one thing after another, which is enough to keep the reader interested. But only because you’re waiting for the truth to come out.

If you like memoirs, stories of mentally/physically ill teenagers, or NYC stories I recommend this. But it is easy reading and predictable. I give it 3/5.

Internet Best Of: Links

Impostor Syndrome and Writing – Fit is the New Poor

Baby Steps in the Morning – The Asian Pear

Cheap Eats: Dollar Samosa’s – The NY Budget

Food & Health
This Infographic Shows the Phytonutrients You Need to Stay Healthy – Lifehacker

Stick A Fork In It (Or: When Food Blogs Stopped Being Food Blogs) – The Amateur Gourmet

March Madness & Bracketology
Statistical NCAA Tournament Predictions – FiveThirtyEight

Brooklyn News
Driver charged after SUV ends up on subway car in Brooklyn – ABC News

Brooklyn History
How Brooklyn Neighborhoods Got Their Names – Mental Floss

Donate to Stephanie’s 2014 Walk for Hunger – Project Bread

Weekly Updates: Half-Marathon Training Week 5 + Quesadilla Quiche

Race Training Week 5 – Running for the First Time

Even though I’ve been running for practically a decade, this time around feels like I’m running for the first time. Taking last year off from running & racing was a great decision.

In the past, my mental state definitely wasn’t very positive. And especially not during running. I generally say that I hate running. Even while doing it. Even after doing it. Even when racing. Even after running for so long. I say it is horrible terrible. I say that I hate running culture, and runners, and races, and outside, and parks, and shoes, and clothes, and gadgets. Everything. I would run and think to myself how much I hate everything. That is far from relaxing.

Now I’m at a point in my life where I can be kind to myself. I don’t have to be “that type of runner.” This race can be mine. My time is mine. My run is mine. These shoes are mine. Not yours.

I feel like I’m finally discovering all those things people have said about running. It can be relaxing. It is time for myself. It’s as hard as I make it. I don’t have to be fast. Listen to my body, instead of other’s.

As expected, this has really changed how I feel during running. Instead of negativity and anger filling up my head, I’m trying to empty it. Think positive or think nothing at all. The latter is what usually happens but that’s better than nothing.

This week I did not do a long run but I did listen to my body. I did some strength training, something I’ve never focused on before, and really enjoy it. It helps me feel fit all over. From that, I was feeling sore and tired. Listening to my body, I did some shorter comfortable run instead. I’m not racing to win, here.

Sub 2:15 Half Marathon – Week 5
Treadmill: 4 mi / 0:44:08 / 11:02 pace
Running: 2 mi / 0:20:00 / 10:00 pace
Treadmill: 3.1 mi / 0:34:40 / 11:10 pace
Elliptical: 1.86 mi / 0:20:00 / 10:45 pace

Week Total: 10.96 mi / 1h 59m 48s / 10:44 pace

Food: Quiche-adilla

Quesadilla’s are a staple of my cooking rotation. They can be as simple or complicated as I make them. Cheese ones are perfect for a quick dinner. Vegetable + chicken are perfect when I want something heartier. I always have my mexican spice mix on hand which adds just the right flavor.

This week I wanted to try something new with quesadilla’s. So with the help if the Internet, I decided to make a quesadilla quiche. A quiche-adilla if you will. It turned out really tasty and I definitely recommend it.

Quesadilla Quiche Recipe

  1. Put a large tortilla in a pie plate
  2. Mix shredded chicken + cheese in a separate bowl
  3. Optional add-ins: jalapenos, spices, peppers, tomatoes
  4. Spread mix onto tortilla
  5. Whisk 2 eggs, 1C milk or water, 1C flour in a separate bowl
  6. Pour liquid mixture over meat mixture on tortilla
  7. Bake in oven at 450 for 20 minutes

Books: The Essential George Sheehan

the essential george sheehan

As I stated above, I was never a fan of running culture. So I never spent time reading books, magazines, articles, or anything else about running. It felt none of it related to how I ran. Or it perpetuated the running culture that I did not like. Either way, this is why I had never heard of George Sheehan until this year.

The Essential Sheehan is an anthology of sorts of selections from articles & books written by Dr. George Sheehan. Dr. Sheehan retired from cardiology at 44 and took up long distance running in the 70’s. He was one of the first to incorporate fitness into medical science. And looked at life and running in a different way.

It is notable that I read this book immediately following Leo Babauta’s The Power of Less because they are both quite similar. On the content that crosses over from one book to another, both author has the same opinion on it. The only difference is Babauta tells his in bullet points and Sheehan tells his in essay form. This is personal preference but I really enjoyed Sheehan’s essays. Adding context and personal stories can provide much more motivation than a simple bullet point statement.

For example, both authors say to start with one, simple goal. Don’t try to do too much at once. Don’t attempt to quit smoking and take up running in the same week. Don’t attempt to run a marathon a week into running. Sheehan provided examples that he saw from his fellow runners and even the mistakes he himself made. This really helped to hit home why doing these things were important.

Another example is both authors say to hold yourself back. Which might not make sense at first. Dr. Sheehan explains this is to prevent burn-out and injuries. He then tells stories of runners who take 3-6 months or more off after a race because of feeling staleness in running. Babauta explains burn-out as well but in terms of momentum. We start out a change with so much momentum and excitement that if we do too much at first, we will not be able to motivate ourselves when it becomes challenging. Even if you know you can 4 miles today instead of your usual 3, hold yourself back. Run 4 next week as that will give you something to look forward to.

I recommend Dr. Sheehan’s writings for everyone, runners and non-runners alike. He writes a lot of good life stories and incorporates positivity without this coming off as self-help at all. It is also interesting seeing his perspective change throughout his life. Since this is a collection of his works, he goes from being an intense racer to being a social runner. There are also some articles about his experience with cancer, which is a whole other thing altogether.

Internet Best Of: Links

Why I Don’t Set Long Term Goals – Budget and the Beach

Personal Finance
Traditional IRA: Saving Broke Millennials Hundreds of Dollars – Broke Millenial

Sunset Park is home of Brooklyn’s cheapest pizza pies – Brokelyn

10 Things I Like About Myself: A Link-Up – Avoiding Atrophy

Why My Business is Breaking Up With Facebook – Nuts + Bolts Media

Internet Privacy
This Infographic Shows You How to Delete Yourself from the Internet – Lifehacker

College Basketball
Onions! The Never-Made-the-NCAA Tournament Club, 2014 edition – SB Nation

Jobs & Life
A Day in the Life of a Cruise Ship Stage Manager

Weekly Updates: Race Training Week 4 & DIY Oatmeal

Half Marathon Training – Week 4

Brooklyn Half Marathon at Coney Island

Brooklyn Half Marathon at Coney Island

I wish I never started writing about my training. Because now I have to admit to all my mistakes. In week 4, I skipped my long run, again. That’s twice in a row. I spent a lot of time beating myself up over it, which certainly didn’t help anything. I need to remind myself that it’s still February. I have three solid months before the race.

Training is starting to be a boon to my working out. If I miss a day I feel guilty for most of the morning. Missing a day certainly isn’t going to seriously affect my running. And for the four half marathons I ran in the past, I never even trained at all! I need to relax and enjoy what I’m doing – currently working on the mental aspect of running which I’ve never been very good at.

Aside from cardio, I have began taking advantage of the other stuff in the gym by strength training. I’ve got a handle on lat pull downs and the leg press. Then at home I can do some squats, stair work, and lunges. Surprisingly, I’ve never done any of this stuff before. It was always only about the running. Probably because that’s the free part.

Sub 2:15 Half Marathon – Week 4
Treadmill: 5 mi / 56m 22s / 11:16 pace
Spinning: 4.7 mi / 20m
Elliptical: 0.9mi / 10m
Running: 4.7mi / 55m 56s / 11:54 pace – Ocean Parkway to Coney Island

Week Total: 15.3 mi / 2h 22m 18s / 11:35 pace

Food: DIY Instant Oatmeal

diy instant oatmeal in containers or packets

Bring diy instant oatmeal with you to work

Several years ago I wrote about bringing diy oatmeal with you to work. But since then I’ve perfected this!

Here’s what I do for an individual serving but I suggest multiplying this and storing the bulk mix in a jar. Then when you want oatmeal in the morning, just take out about a quarter cup and you should be good to go.

Ideally, this requires use of a food chopper or food processor. I bought this mini food chopper for $9.

To Blend:

  • 2 Tablespoons quick oats (cooks in 1 min)
  • 1 teaspoon cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc)
  • dash of salt

Add these to your food chopper then run for about 30 seconds. This mixes everything together, gets rid of brown sugar lumps, chops up the nuts, and cuts the oats almost to a flour texture. That is the key! Adding this “oat flour” helps thickens your oatmeal and makes it very creamy without needing milk.

In a plastic bag or container (I use a small tumbler glass covered with saran wrap), put in another 2 Tablespoons of quick oats, then add your blended mixture. This is one serving.

To eat, pour very hot water into the oats, stir. Let sit for 1+ minutes. Water & sit time depend on your preference of thickness. I prefer mine thicker while a friend prefers to drink his.

This is a quick and super filling breakfast, especially great for wintertime. I promise it will leave your belly warm and full.

Books: Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Productivity from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits: The Power of Less

Productivity from Leo Babauta of Zen Habits: The Power of Less

There’s more I could say about this book but really it comes down to this: just read his blog

After this, I started reading “The Essential Sheehan” which is a compilation of various George Sheehan articles and talks. He was a runner but what he talks about can apply to life in general. A lot of his principles over lap with Leo Babauta’s as well, so I will write about them as one next week.

Internet Best Of: Links

The Cost of Living in Paradise – Budget and the Beach

114 Side Hustles: Ways to Make Money – Broke Girl Rich

Running Every Block in Ditmas Park – The Weekly Nabe

Weekly Updates: Race Training Week 3

Half Marathon Training – Week 3

Coney Island Boardwalk

Coney Island Boardwalk

Last week I wrote about the beginning of my training for the Brookyln Half in May. This is the first time I’ve really adhered to a training schedule instead of just winging it before a race. For me, having a gym membership really has helped keep me on track and provide motivation. Sure the treadmill isn’t the same environment as outdoors but I no longer have weather-related excuses.

I’ve also started cross training for the first time in my life. Not belonging to a gym and wanting to keep my workouts as cheap as possible, I’ve pretty much only engaged in running as a workout. I’ve dabbled in pilates but that gets expensive fast. I have a bicycle now but that’s been impossible to ride outdoors this winter. I like being able to do more than run. The gym allows me to learn new workouts and use new muscles of my body. For as much as I’ve ran, I can tell you that some days on the elliptical are downright tough. Do you know how out of shape that makes me feel? I can run 10 miles but doing two minutes in reverse on the elliptical has me in tears!

My training plan doesn’t include cross training so I’m trying to integrate it myself. I believe in the necessity of rest days so instead of doing 4/5 miles on a Tuesday, I’ll do half running and half elliptical. Or half spin and half weights. If anyone has a good strength training routine for runners, please share!

Sub 2:15 Half Marathon – Week 3:
Treadmill: 3.15 miles in 37 mins with a pace of 0:11:51/mi
Elliptical: 1.97 miles in 25 mins with a pace of 0:12:41/mi
Treadmill: 3.11 miles in 39 mins with a pace of 0:12:42/mi
Treadmill: 5 miles in 1 hr with a pace of 0:12:00/mi

Week Total: 13 miles in 2 hr 41 min with an average pace of 0:12:18/mi

All week long I felt tired and out of it. Even after sleeping for 10 hours Fri and Sat nights, I was still groggy. Listening to my body, I decided to skip running 10-miles on Sunday. I just didn’t have it in me. On Monday I did five-miles on the treadmill and it felt much more comfortable than any of my runs the previous week. Ramping up my mileage so much has definitely taken a toll on my body. I want to avoid injuries as much as possible and will listen closely to my body from here on out. Missing one long-run isn’t going to ruin my entire training.

Music: Instrumental Ambient Rock

Explosions in the Sky Performing Live

Explosions in the Sky Performing Live

As a lover of instrumental rock, I thought I’d share some of my favorite experimental/math/post/ambient rock bands. I even made a Spotify playlist for you!

Bands Include:

  • Pele
  • This Will Destroy You
  • Explosions in the Sky
  • Mogwai
  • The Album Leaf
  • El Ten Eleven
  • God Is An Astronaut
  • Helios
  • Hammock
  • Stars of the Lid
  • Do Make Say Think
  • You Bred Raptors
  • Russian Circles

Spotify Playlist: The Instrumental List

Here’s a sample of what this is like. You’ve probably heard a few This Will Destroy You songs by now, they’ve been used in commercials and on soundtracks:

Books: Welcome to Shirley by Kelly McMasters

Kelly McMasters' Welcome to Shirley

Kelly McMasters’ Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town

Welcome to Shirley: A Memoir from an Atomic Town by Kelly McMasters is a very well-written and researched memoir + environmentalism piece of non-fiction. McMaster’s moved to the town of Shirley, Long Island when she was a child and shares the pleasant memories she had of the town growing up. The community feels real to the reader and the writing sincere. This isn’t just anyone writing the story of a toxic town. This is someone who actually lived in it.

Hearing the quirky stories from her point of view really allows the reader to grow with McMasters. You start out viewing the town positively, though always knowing in the background that something toxic is lurking. Yet when it finally comes into the picture, it is still rather surprising.

McMaster’s does a great job at keeping this memoir more about the town than about her. The entire time she focuses on sharing her experiences with the town, rather than simply her life growing up.

Reading Welcome to Shirley reminded me of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Both stories went between sharing researched information and also sharing personal experiences. However, McMaster’s really has an advantage here. Since she grew up there, she never passed judgement. Skloot on the other hand, tried too hard to give the Lacks’ family some credit and turned the second half of the book into a circus. McMaster’s doesn’t have this problem because she is honest. When she explains the day she realized that Shirley was not a nice place to live and was actually thought of as “white trash” by the nearby Hamptons’ folks, you can really feel for her.

This is certainly more of a memoir than a heavily researched piece of environmental activism. With that said, McMaster’s did do a good job interviewing locals and employees from the Brookhaven Laboratory – the site of the toxins leaking into Shirley causing an abnormal rise in breast & rare cancers in residents.

As a perfect combination of light yet researched non-fiction that is told by someone who lived through it and not just a scientist or doctor, I really recommend Welcome to Shirley. The writing is tight and the story is very readable – McMaster’s rarely loses focus of the story she’s telling: 4/5 rating from me.

Internet Best Of: Links

How I Conduct My Business – Zen Habits

Extra Income
How Non-Theater People Can Make Money in Theater – Broke Girl Rich

Freelance Business & Taxes – Diversified Finances

Family Finance
7 Tips to Raising a Financially Fit Kid – Financially Blonde

Weekly Updates: Half Marathon Training at the Gym

My First Gym Membership

“Gyms Are Bad”
I’ve heard so many negative things about gyms from bloggers, runners, and well, everyone. I never even considered one until very recently. I heard that you’re not a real runner if you run on a treadmill. (And apparently you’re not a real runner if you run below a 10 min mi/pace so there goes my title). I heard that gyms are a waste of money. I heard that gyms are an uncomfortable environment for women. I heard a lot of things. But mainly due to the cost, I have always ran outside. I’ve been running outside since I started running for health back in college (over a decade ago!)

But it’s cold outside!
Recently I realized that I haven’t been running because of the weather. It’s been cold, snowy, and rainy here in nyc. It’s hard to motivate yourself to run in those conditions. I’m sure ‘real runners’ do it all the time. So call me lazy but I have no desire to go run in a blizzard. So, I decided, that something is better than nothing despite what “everyone” else says. At the beginning of February I joined a gym.

Maybe it depends on the gym
Unlike the chain gyms, this is a private facility. It is very nyc-esque in it’s size. A reviewed referred to it as a hotel gym. There aren’t classes and the treadmills don’t have screens. But everyone who’s there, is there to work out, not instagram themselves. Thankfully the pricing isn’t contract based. So after I did a trial run of 3 days/$25, I signed up for a full month for $50. I plan to do this for the wintry month of February. I’ll gauge the weather for March. Then probably go back in the summer because running in July is just as bad as running in a blizzard.

Yep, I’m not a real runner
I guess I’m not a real runner because I don’t mind the treadmill. I like that I can control my pace. I’ve tried using a Garmin watch and it’s just too distracting for me. I don’t like to run with any gadgets. So the Treadmill is nice that it provides me all the information of a gadget without actually getting in the way.

Running is Boring
The “treadmills are boring” argument doesn’t up for me. In my opinion, running is boring. Running is hard. Whether you’re outside or inside or on the moon, running 9 miles is a challenge. Sure, outside the scenery changes. But things change inside too. The one disadvantage I’ve found on the treadmill is that at anytime, I can just stop and walk the three blocks home. When I’m out on a long run, even if I stop running, I still have to either walk to a train or walk the rest of the way home – so I might as well just keep running. For the record, I have yet to stop mid-run on the treadmill and bail.

Half Marathon Training for the Brooklyn Half

After running four half-marathons and not using an actual training plan, I’ve decided to try one this time. I’m currently following Run Keeper’s Sub 2:15 Half Marathon Training Plan. I’m at the end of the third week now. I’m hoping I’ll be able to find a safe snow-cleared path for the 10 miler scheduled on Sunday.

Using a Training Plan
I’m enjoying following a training schedule. It takes a lot of the guess work out of running. Instead of asking myself how far I feel like running today, I already know how far I have to run. Whether I feel like it or not. It also forces me to do speed work. Without ever using a treadmill, I’ve never been able to really do speed work. I’m excited to give that a go and hopefully will see improvements.

In the spirit of taking advantage of my $50/mo gym membership, I’m also trying to use some of the other equipment like the elliptical and weights to build up my strength in other places. I have been running for a decade but that’s it. I haven’t done much other cross-training other than biking around Manhattan in the summer. Doing non-running workouts helps to bring more variety into my life as well.

Fine, I don’t actually hate running
One thing I’ve been trying to incorporate into this training is a positive attitude. Although I have been running for over 10 years, I have never enjoyed it. I can flat out say that I hate running. It is always hard. It is never fun. I hate runners. I hate how expensive running clothes are. I hate the pretentious attitude in the running world. I hate I hate I hate. Clearly, thinking such negativity is not helping my running! So instead of telling myself how stupid running is while I’m running. I’m trying to flip this around a little bit. I’ve been saying, “I don’t feel like doing this right now but I’m already here so let’s make the best of it.” It’s actually been helping!

Training for Speed
Again, I’ve been running for a long time but never cared about speed. My half marathon PR is 2:20, which I’m proud of. Since I have ran four of these races, I’ve decided to try to up the challenge by using this sub 2:15 training plan. It would be nice to PR this one. I’m guessing this will be my last half for a while. I don’t really enjoy the races (as I don’t enjoy running culture). I’d prefer to just run 4-5 miles in the morning to keep up my health. I don’t really need long runs or speed work if I’m not racing.

Here’s the first two weeks of my sub 2:15 training plan workouts:
Week 1
Miles: 19.55
Time: 3:50:15
Pace: 0:11:25
# Workouts: 5

Week 2
Miles: 22.15
Time: 4:17:39
Pace: 0:11:41
# Workouts: 5

Books: Horns by Joe Hill

Joe Hill's Horns

Joe Hill’s Horns

“Horns” by Joe Hill is a great page-turner that is not quite fantasy and not quite horror, but it is about the Devil. I appreciate Joe Hill not trying to bank on his father’s name, Stephen King. Especially because the writing is so different. I enjoyed this more than most of King’s stories.

Hill tells the story from almost every character’s perspective, which keeps things interesting even though it is the same story each time. Using the multiple perspective technique, eventually you are able to piece together the entire story.

At it’s heart, this is a mystery crime solver. The story starts by the main character, Ig, waking up with horns and with some strange super powers. As the story goes on, you never learn why this has happened to him but that isn’t really important. The crime happened a year ago when Ig’s girlfriend was found raped and murdered in the woods on the same night she broke up with him loudly at a bar. Everyone in town and his family assumed he did it but he was never charged nor cleared. The story of that night unravels through the perspectives of various characters until you finally learn who did it.

The Devil’s powers are explained well and I enjoyed seeing the transformation of Ig from “a man with Horns growing out of his head” into a full fledged red devil with a pitchfork. It’s an easy read but well-written. The characters could have been a bit less caricature but it worked fine in this story.

I rate it 3/5 and recommend it as a good weekend read.

Internet Best Of: Links

How I feel After a Run

Six Ways to Increase Productivity and Get Shit Done – Johnny Moneyseed

Best Manhattan Coffee Shops by Subway Stop via Poncho

February statistically proven to have the shittiest movies – AV Club

Affordability in Kensington – NY Times

Letting Go of Judging People – Zen Habits

How To Wash Your Hair

how to wash your hair in the sprinkler

How To Wash Your Hair: No sprinkler needed

Use Shampoo On Your Scalp

Shampoo and conditioner do different things! You need to use them differently!

Massage shampoo into your scalp thoroughly, it doesn’t even need to lather (but some brilliant ad exec somewhere will be happy if you use enough that it does!) You really don’t need that much shampoo, even for long hair.

Shampoo bars are my personal recommendation for shampoo. They are easy to travel with (no liquids). And they last a very long time. Since you never have to worry about using too much.

There are lots of frugal craziness when it comes to shampoo and treatments. I think I tried washing my hair with baking soda once. Fail. I think I went a while without washing my hair and only doing the hand-water-scrub. Fail. Learn your hair! Try all these crazy things but realize when it might just not work out for you.

Use Conditioner On Your Ends

Conditioner is not needed unless your hair is unruly without it. I know some people swear by it but I don’t regularly use it myself.

Condition your ends only. Rubbing too much into your scalp might make it oily. Either way, your scalp doesn’t need conditioning but the ends of your hair does. With long hair, I generally pull my hair into a ponytail with one hand then condition the ‘ponytail’ part with focus on the tips. This is better for your hair and will hopefully save you on conditioner.

Do Not Wash Your Hair Everyday

A lot of people know this by now. Some people still feel grossed out about it. I wash my hair twice a week. On the off days, I still massage my scalp and run my fingers through my hair under the water. I’m not using actual shampoo but am at least loosening things up in there. Maybe it does nothing, I don’t know. Feels nice though.

Be Patient

When changing your hair cleaning routine, it might take up to 3 weeks to notice a difference in your hair. Especially if you wash your hair every day, there will be some build-up in your hair that takes time to get out. If you don’t like how your hair is after 3 weeks, then try something else. Just don’t get too discouraged too early.

VA Beach Half Marathon 2012

Mile 12 virginia beach rock & roll half marathon

The Virginia Beach Rock & Roll Half Marathon over labor day weekend was my fourth half-marathon of the year. I was prepared for the race training-wise but not for the weather. Virginia is hot! I knew that it would be humid but… it was so humid! This was my slowest half marathon but also most fun.

First, the expo was very organized, the morning drop-off, not so much, and there weren’t enough bathrooms as always. The course was a nice loop, ending along the boardwalk (the longest half mile of my life).

Around the mid-way point, we ran down a rural road with trees covering over top and woods on both sides. It was really pretty but also meant no breeze and no spectators. The stagnant humidity and lack of motivation really got to me around then.

Coming out of that, I saw a man running barefoot and ran with him for the next 3 miles. A well-needed distraction.

Since I suffered through the Tough Mudder last year, I’ve worn the sweatband at every half-marathon since. I usually see some other ‘Mudders’ running as I did during this race. One man, in fact, was walking at mile 2! I told him that this was a piece of cake compared to Tough Mudder but he didn’t quite agree.

There were at least three others that I saw as well. That sense of unity is nice.

Registration: $100
Train Tickets: $147
Lodging: Free (family)

The high registration price is due to the “rock n roll” part, since your race bib is also a “ticket” to all of the concerts happening that weekend. This did not interest me but definitely would be worth it to some.

Fortunately, the train ride from Penn station to Newport News wasn’t horrible and I stayed with a family member instead of having to deal with a hotel.

Overall, I loved this race and may consider risking heat stroke to run this next year.