RunNerdier

musings on running, life, and everything in between


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Denial is not just a river: Boston

It’s been awhile…I’ve been slightly in denial and slightly overwhelmed. There are some things going on¬†outside of running that are taking up a lot of emotional energy and time. There’s barely been time to process that Boston is in less than 4 days. I get on a plane in about 24 hours. I haven’t really thought about packing or logistics or anything. This is despite the fact that Jen and Patty (mostly Patty) have been blowing up my phone with messages about Boston weather, packing lists, more weather, expo pick up, more weather…I have been only partaking in reading in small bursts. Cuz I. CAN’T. EVEN.

To my credit, part of of the reason is that I was immersed in professional nerd-dom in our nation’s capital. I attended the major educational research conference for 4 days last weekend. It was good to get away, and I got some time to run with cool people and see some more cool things. Still, it was an intense 4 days.

My favorite monument run this time was the (newer) Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Memorial. I shrink at sentiment, but I was surprisingly moved by the memorial. It’s a beautiful piece of sculpture/architecture, and I couldn’t help but feel the importance of King’s legacy and the ongoing fight for racial and economic justice today. There is still so much work to do. And it can feel overwhelming at times, but none of us struggles alone. Others have gone before us, others struggle alongside, and others will come after.

The King portion of the monument almost looked like a breakaway from a larger concrete mountain. Somehow, I failed to take a picture of that part. However, surrounding the main monument was a long wall of quotes. There were some amazing ones, and it inspired me to go back and finish a book of his essays I’ve had forever. A lot of people were taking photos, and I had trouble choosing just one. This one seemed timely, though, in terms of the importance of all of us speaking out against injustice even if it’s not comfortable.


I also did a very convoluted route (partly because I got lost and partly because it was a long run) past the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial (which is on a funky island/peninsula bit and totally reminded me of the Simpsons episode where Bart talks to the various monument/presidents), and meandering over into Virginia.

This tree was beautiful and strange. A cork tree! It actually looked dead, and there was a sign asking people not to climb or touch it so that it wouldn’t be damaged. While the majority of the cherry blossoms were gone, there were still some trees with blossoms so it was a pretty run.

I have to say that there was some strange criss-crossing back and forth across the river to try and get back from Virginia to DC. It makes it more delightful to find hidden little spots like this one, though!

I ran out of miles on that run, though. Right when I got to Theodore Roosevelt Island, I had to head home, so I dragged some of my friends back there Sunday. I wanted to see the island and get some trails under my feet. It took some convincing to get them out there as they were concerned I would be too fast, but I was tapering and more concerned about enjoying the run with friends than speed.

Tracey makes a second appearance (middle bottom), though still only in DC ūüôā Laura, top middle, also works with me. And Susan, far right, is the awesome friend that sent me lipstick a little while ago. We also make it a habit to purchase beauty supplies when traveling together. Hey, can’t be nerds all the time!

The island wasn’t very big, just over a mile running the circumference. In the middle of the island was a big carved out section with little bridges, water (though it was drained for the winter still), and a big Theodore Roosevelt monument. We asked a fellow runner to take our picture, and we went with the Black Power fist instead of the regular one hand up in the air that Teddy was doing (the photographer didn’t seem to get that we wanted Teddy¬†in the picture also so you’ll just have to imagine it). We all do critical work, and it jived with the theme of the run as we also saw the MLK memorial (a second time for me, I couldn’t get enough!).

Us, in nature.

This last picture is of my friend, Ramon, who I HAVE run with years ago. However, he said he tends to cycle on and off with running, and he has NOT been running for a bit but wants to start again. I am putting his picture up here to publicly shame/encourage him to start running more regularly. So, if you know Ramon Martinez, make sure you ask him about running!

Work this week has been really rough. I got a chance to do an early, very therapeutic 4 miles this morning with Jen. I was greeted by this awesome sign from the amazing, supportive ladies of Best Foot Forward. It helped remind me that I’m NOT doing this alone, and these girls have helped support me every step of the way. Onward and upward!


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Been too long

Ok, so it’s been the LONGEST time since I last posted. I’m not gonna lie. I’m in a funk. Between feeling burnt out crispy with running, teaching 3 nights a week back to back (for 4+ hours), and the winter, it’s been tough. Just to give you a sense of what that means, here’s an exchange I had with Jen last night. I guess she and Jenny had a discussion about me during yesterday’s long run. I was in DC for the weekend so I did my long run earlier in the week (more on that in a bit).

Do you like how her offer of “taking me out” gets meet with immediate suspicion? Although, on the flipside, do you like how Jen downgraded¬†the “taking you out” part to just all going out? Gotta love my friends, right? But seriously, it’s nice to know that people care enough to make sure I don’t go off the deep end.

I’m in DC for the weekend, really 36 hours for some English teacher conference planning (neeeeeerds, I know). Anyhow, I had the opportunity to meet Tracey last year at the same planning meeting and she was pregnant at the time, but we got to talking about running. We ACTUALLY got to run together this time since baby has since exited the womb and she’s back running. She just did a half marathon last month! Admittedly, she tried to duck me about running early Sunday morning, but I convinced her ūüôā AND, this makes her officially my first running buddy from traveling on the blog. Woohoo! So here we are at the mall. You may remember a similar (solo) picture from this run/trip last year.

And of course, we had to stop by and see the Obama’s. They had coffee ready for us.

And to top it all off for fabulousness, I got a free extra drink after the run! I was asking about the “flat white” drink at Starbucks (not my preferred caffeinated beverage vendor, but the only thing open in our neck of the woods). I’m not sure if they were being very generous or just confused, but I got both my almond milk cap and flat white! Extra caffeine is never a bad thing. Also, I tend to get “fancy” drinks only after a run. I’m all about the black coffee otherwise.

EDITED TO INCLUDE: Ha. I forgot. During our run I saw a black squirrel, and I commented to Tracey that we don’t see those in Illinois, and did they have them in Arizona. “Uh, is that like a groundhog?” So, no, they don’t have squirrels everywhere like the midwest. Furthermore, Tracey said “I run by javelinas and coyotes, is that like the same thing?” Um, no. Differences in running around the country!

Because I didn’t feel like finagling a 12+ mile run out of town when our time was so booked, I decided to do my long run Thursday. To try and shake things up, I decided to head out to the hills and trails of Waterfall Glen. There was a threatened fierce blizzard Wednesday night, but that didn’t really manifest. There WAS snow on the ground, though. You can see some of the path¬†was less travelled than others. It was gorgeous and quiet. Really beautiful, and the sun started to come out. I’ve also been realizing that running in snow might help your form, but that’s another post.

The snow was powdery enough, and the trail was probably clear before the “storm,” so I decided against the Yak Trax and went with my trail shoes. I wish they were more water-resistant as my feet did get wet, but I definitely didn’t find myself missing the Trax. With the exception of some squishing around from the soft snow,¬†I didn’t have much issue running in it. Of course, I also visited one of my favorite port-a-potties. Right around the halfway point ūüôā

I also realized that I haven’t run much at Waterfall Glen in the winter. I’ve run it in the fall and early spring, but with all of the snow we’ve gotten the last couple of winters¬†it’s been tricky trying to get any decent running there in February. With all of the foliage gone, though, I stopped around mile 5 because I noticed the foundations of an old building. I think usually there are at least some leaves covering easy viewing of it, even though it’s just a few feet from the path. I think it¬†might be the remains of the Old Lincoln Park Nursery on this map? I did see another building ruin a bit further later on the run as well, so I’m not sure. Still, it was cool to see something that I’ve run by so many times before. Forcing myself to do hill work at Big Bertha? Not cool. But I was channeling my inner Patty Herrera (who’s obsessing about Boston’s hills) to get out there and do it.


I really did need that long run as a break from the routine, and my run with Tracey this morning. This face just about sums up how I’ve been feeling lately, both about running and life in general.

I thought about doing some very bloggery “Top 10 Things to Do to Shake Up Your Run,” but I’m a lazy blogger. So here’s a couple things, 1) Take a break. Cut yourself some slack and go do something else. 2) Try running somewhere new or WITH someone new. If you feel like you’re in a rut or routine, do something to shake it up.

There. I know. Life changing. But get out there and do something. Nobody’s making you run, so if it’s not fun, do something else. Just keep moving.


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Back in time for cold weather running

So…it’s been awhile. Within that time, I finished another turn around the sun and wrestled through a bout of depression. It was a more serious and longer run of depression, but I’ve gotten a bunch of tools to work through it and good people around me. And I’m back. Here’s what I’ve been up to.

I celebrated a birthday on Friday the 13th. It was a 3-cake birthday ūüôā Mr. Sometimes Runner was out of town for a training on teaching sex ed to kids in our church (yeah, we’re Unitarians, that’s what we do) so I was flying solo for the weekend with the kids. Fortunately, my awesome friends stepped up and we did a small, fun little celebration with multiple cakes (including a flourless one because my friend knew I was trying to cut wheat, an ice cream cake I brought, and a homemade mix cake), awesome Indian take out, and good conversation. I realized how lucky I am to have such good friends.

Running wasn’t very much fun the last couple of weeks. Everything felt heavy and slow and hard. It was a chore just to convince myself to get outside, and I couldn’t have sprinted if a wild bear had chased me. But I finally had a good run last week.¬†The great weather helped for sure. It was balmy and perfect running weather in the low 50’s. I wasn’t able to do my long run Saturday since I was solo with the kids, but I got to go Monday morning. I ended up running 11 miles–something I wasn’t originally planning on, but it was so¬†good I kept going. I have to say it was a relief to break the bad mojo after so long, so¬†this picture from the run is pretty symbolic of that feeling.

I’ve actually been using a therapeutic light box in hopes of combatting the depression in a variety of ways. I think it’s been helping, but being out in natural light is good too!

I was also in Minneapolis this past weekend for the National Council for Teachers of English conference, so I got to escape the drudgery of the everyday for a short while. I stayed downtown and did a 10 miler along the Mississippi. I got to see this awesome old ruin (called Mill Ruins Park–I think it was part of an old flour mill? I say that because there was a repurposed condo right there that was a former Gold Medal Flour factory and a Pillsbury Flour factory across the river) right by the riverfront. It reminded me of the ruins that you’ll find smack in the middle of Rome, modern alongside ancient. This is obviously not quite that ancient, but it was still pretty cool to see.

It was cold, like 18 degrees (“real feel” of 10 degrees), and I was barely dressed warmly enough. This is me crossing the Mississippi. No filter! Rosy cheeks thanks to the blistering wind. ¬†¬†

I got to run the University of Minnesota campus, and it reminded me so much of Illinois’. Ironically, they were playing each other that day (which explained the random mascot on a flat truck that passed me, and the tailgaters). Graduating (for my PhD) from an urban school and working at a much smaller regional university, I haven’t been on a Big 10-type campus in a while. I realized I miss the big old building, campus flyers plastering kiosks, and downtown campus cafes.

I was bummed that a big chunk of trail that ran alongside the river was closed. I liked this shot, though, of the spiraling frozen water dripping alongside the banks of the river. I ran into an old acquaintance who lives in Minneapolis now, and she said you have to be an outdoors person to live there. I have to say that the wilderness-y aspect of even downtown was nice. I had a rough idea of my route, but I did have to do some clambering over trees and such when some trails/paths were closed. It was fun to just get out there, though.

The conference, itself, was fun. I saw some academic friends I only get to see at conferences, and I haven’t laughed so hard or acted so silly in a long time. It was really liberating to be so goofy (and childless!). I got to sleep in my own bed, with no little bodies screaming at me for something (like to look at them while they are crammed next to me in bed), or screeching demands for piggy back rides. I ate, slept, read, and talked like a real. live. adult. AH-MAZING.

The hotel I¬†stayed at (a Hilton) did not have a “B” or “LL” button for the lower level. It was marked “-1.” I found it odd.¬†

I did find it ironic that I came back from Minneapolis, a city that has so much cold there are above-ground skyway systems so you don’t have to go outside, which had gotten no snow to Chicago, a city that had gotten 4-7 inches (and was just as cold).

Finally, just when I thought I was free of Boston for a bit, Jen, Patty, and I have decided to go with the free training plan offered by the BAA, which started LAST WEEK. It’s a 22 week training plan, which seems insane to us. But we also feel a bit driftless without a plan to follow, so there’s that…

Have you been to Minneapolis and seen the Mill Ruins?

Ever seen an elevator with -1?


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California Dreaming

I’ve been sitting on this post for months. Literally. But, with the cold and grey, I thought it was time to get California dreaming. This is a lot of photos because it was actually two visits!

California: Part 1

I went to visit my family in August. Somehow, even though we’re from Illinois, my entire nuclear family–both parents and both siblings ended up in California. I am now the lone, landlocked, Midwesterner Kim family member. While I was looking forward to seeing my family and seeing the gorgeous LA area, I was also nervous because I had to do a 20 mile run. On vacation. Oy vey. But let’s start with the beauty.

Those are my naked children (including my daughter who is only wearing shorts and underwear–keeping it classy, folks). My dad is the man dressed like he’s about to head out to the desert. I don’t love the beach, but there is such a primordial connection to the ocean I have to say. And my son LOVED it.

Blue skies for days!

And we got to have a little sunset happy hour (my bro on the left and Mr. Sometimes Runner on the right).

And because we’re fancy like that, we took in some culture with the kids at the Getty Museum. FREE! In the mountains! Gorgeous.

  

The gardens were amazing and I couldn’t take enough pictures.

  

My daughter found all the nudity in the art museum very humorous. She kept shouting, “They’re naked” at all the art showing nudity and laughing. It was funny, but also embarrassing. Here she learns about the female form.

Who doesn’t love a painting of a giant rhinoceros beetle impaled by an equally large pin?

There’s been some scandal in celebrity gossip lately about Alyssa Milano being shamed for breastfeeding. Look, even baby Jesus breastfed openly.


Here’s the 20 miler I did along the ocean. I had originally hoped to run with a Long Beach area running club, A Running Experience Club. They were also going to do their 20 miler in preparation for the Long Beach Marathon. However, timing and such didn’t work out. They were very kind and shared their route, though, and I used some of it to guide my run down to Newport Beach and back.


One thing that was fun was my decision to do my “ice bath” in the Pacific Ocean. It was COLD! And I was sweaty, but it was pretty awesome to wade in and be in the water.


My family made fun of me for taking pictures of these squirrels along my run, but they’re squirrels. That live in the sand. The sand, people! And the markings on the squirrels look different from the fat suburban grey squirrels that are so prevalent back home.


Yum, Korean food in the LA area does not get better anywhere else in the US. Sigh. My sister, brother-in-law, and niece.

We also attempted to force our children to enjoy nature and go on a long hike in Griffith Park. There were alot of tears, gritted teeth, and threats of abandonment. But we got to the observatory and back. The hills! I was jealous of all the runners I saw out there.

  

One of my shorter runs I did in Long Beach and stumbled upon some fancy Venice canal-like areas. The houses were gorgeous and there were even little canals with bridges over. I can’t imagine being surrounded by such beauty all the time. I know people must get used to it, but it was glorious coming from the Midwest.

  

They even had Italian-like plaza centers with fountains.

It’s hard to find Korean buns like these. They are called “wahng mandoo,” or “king buns.” So amazing in the heart of Korea Town in LA.

Wyeth was very sad to go home.

CALIFORNIA: PART II

I got a chance to go back to California just a week go. My sister had her second kid, a boy, and I went to go meet him and help. I went solo since it was so expensive. Yay, alone adult time! This time, instead of the LA area, I went to the Bay area.

 

My adorable niece.

I wasn’t allowed to hold my nephew the first day because my niece has been so attention-starved, we were pretending I came just to see her. Ha. I finally got some snuggle time the second day. Swoon. New baby cuddles and new baby smell.

As a good Korean and older sister, I made a traditional Korean New Year’s dish, ddeok guk, a noodle soup dish. Eating it is supposed to bring you long life and prosperity. I have to say that I did pretty good ūüôā

My sister’s family lives in the East Bay, within short distance from the Ohlone Greenway, a pathway that runs along part of the BART line. I ran part of that, which was nice.

Gotta love public art! Roosters no less.

I also did a 14 miler along the Bay going north. The first mile was long the highway, so not so pretty. However, it soon opened up and even ran through part of a nature preserve. Always fun seeing the sun rise, right?

There were some tiny sections of trial that ran alongside the paved path, so I took the opportunity to get some different terrain underfoot. There was also a massive dog park that was acres and acres of happy, unleashed dogs, with lots of trees and open area. Almost made me want a dog (except that whole picking up poop part).

I ended at the Richmond Marina and scooted back. Overall, it was a great run, but I did realize that I hate my Saucony Guide’s. I had packed only those shoes and I generally don’t run in them for my long runs. I save them for my recovery runs. I realize they are just too much shoe for me, and I blame them and my long run in them for attributing to my pre-plantars issues. Like I said in the previous posts, Bill scolded me about switching between stability (the Guides) and neutral for longer runs. We’ll see…I just got the Saucony Triumph for more cushioning but still neutral form.

Anyhow, happy Friday, people. I’m going to try a short run today after taking the week off. Wish me luck. I will leave this little bit of California beauty for you.


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Running Out of Town

I got to travel to Washington D.C. for some work-related stuff, though it was a very short trip. Still, any chance to sleep in a bed by myself and have a decent amount of independence from others is always welcome! I was on the fence about bringing my running stuff, as I would literally be in D.C. for 31 hours and my running stuff took up more space than my regular stuff. However, I figured I’d be more annoyed with my self if I DIDN’T bring it than if I did.

At one point during the flight, I looked out the window and got a great shot of the frozen/melting Great Lakes.¬†2015-03-07 08.27.412015-03-07 08.38.53I was also catching up on the latest Runner’s World magazine. I was frightened to read that we are so sedentary in our culture currently, that we need to run about 6 miles/day to burn the same number of calories as our grandparents. Another reason to keep moving! That thought haunted me as I sat at a table doing work for most of the trip. It definitely motivated me to get out and run.

I attempted half-heartedly to get up before meetings on Sunday, but the double-whammy of Central to Eastern time change PLUS daylight savings was too much for me. We did finish our work early (it was conference planning stuff) and I had a late flight, so I decided to cram in a run before my flight. Boy was I glad! It was in the low 50’s and sunny. There were so many runners out, it was great! I used some maps from the Washington Running Club (http://www.washrun.org/maps-details/#bm3) to map out a route past various landmarks.¬†So of course, you can’t miss the White House. Lots of tour groups and security! It looks smaller from what I remember ad a kid, ha.

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I love the Washington Monument. Against the blue sky, it was pretty awesome. You can see how melty everything was in the area! I think you can go inside to the top of the Monument? At least I thought I remembered that from when I was a kid. I took a picture of the Mall/Monument from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. It really is an outstanding piece of architecture/planning. All that symmetry! Too bad there wasn’t any water in the reflecting pool this time of year.

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I almost bypassed the Lincoln Memorial as there were quite a number of steps, but I couldn’t get a good picture without climbing them, ha. It has to be one of my all-time favorite people sculptures. He always looks so sad. I think I remember reading about it being purposeful, to express the gravity of the times of his Presidency.

2015-03-08 14.01.32¬†You probably can’t tell from these next two pictures, as they are nearly identical. However, they were taken from two different bridges spanning the Potomac River–the Memorial Bridge and the 14th St. Bridge. As you can see, the Potomac was still pretty frozen. I felt the urge to jump on it and attempt to walk across as some parts still looked pretty solid…don’t worry, I didn’t.

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For the most part, I was able to stay out of the puddles. However, there were some that just weren’t avoidable. It was either “run/walk through flowing water” or “run/walk through squishy/muddy grass and dirt.” After awhile, I accepted that my feet were going to be wet and that¬†cleanish water was preferable. I did feel very cross-country runner-ish doing it (to be honest, though, I only lasted in cross-country for like a day. I didn’t like all that running, ha!)

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The last bit of my run took me past this. I couldn’t decide if it was public art or bike racks. I decided both. But how fun is that?!
2015-03-08 15.00.25I’ll be honest, this run almost didn’t happen. I had to check out of my room before noon, but my flight home wasn’t until almost 6 pm. So I had a choice. Run and take a baby-wipe bath or don’t run and do random reading/writing/grading for a couple hours. Then I checked the weather back home, which was quite a bit colder. I chose to run and baby-wipe it. I like to think of it as training for Ragnar! Honestly, though, I feel like I sweat a lot less than the average person, and I ran in shorts so I didn’t get very hot.

One thing I am always fascinated by traveling is the kinds of things you find in airports. From things like the food to the retail stores to amenities. I think it was the Minneapolis airport that had a nail salon and mini massage parlor (brilliant!). Chicago’s Midway airport trends towards more local restaurant offerings. And D.C.’s little kiosks offered some awesome grab-n-go food option, including a vegan Soba noodle salad. But I was most excited about these two things. Vanilla cafe latte by Vita-Coco. Totally delicious, and I pretended the coconut water in it balanced out the sugar (lies, I know). It might also balance out the trashy magazine I bought for amusement that you can see in the background.

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Now THIS, THIS I’m excited for. Korean-style beef jerky. I actually bought it for my husband, but I might make him share. I do think Americans’ proclivities towards naming ethnic-influenced food by a weird version of their original¬†name is kind of weird. Like “gogi” in Korean is “meat.” You would probably never buy “American” food that was just labeled as “meat.” Or “chai” just means tea for most Indians, but it’s a very specific sweet, milky processed product for Starbucks-goers. Don’t even get me started on their horrible mistake in what they call a macchiato…

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Anyhow, it’s the beginning of the work week. Good luck surviving “Heart Attack Monday” today. As a mom, I hate daylight savings. I thought I WAS going to have a heart attack trying to get my kids ready and out the door as they were screaming they were tired and didn’t want to go to school. There may have been coffee and donuts as bribes to get moving…

Anyone out there LOVE day light savings?

Running while traveling? Do you do it or not?¬†I do think it’s “easier” (for safety concerns) for men to do this than women, but that’s a whole other post….