Forest City Road Races 2013

Today was the Forest City Road Races, London's biggest day of races, including a 5k, 10k, and a half marathon. I realized this year that I've run the FCRR (5K and 10K combined) more than any other single race, and it's kind of special to me in that way. 

In 2010, John and I both did the 5k. It was right after we had both started to lose weight, and John walked most of the course. 

In 2011, it was about 40 degrees and raining. I looked and felt like a drowned rat after the 10K, and I began to think of this particular 10K course as a personal challenge. I swore I would be back to conquer it. I don't have any pictures of John from that year, but he managed to run the 5K in just over 22 minutes. 

I couldn't find any photos of 2012, probably my worst performance ever at this race. I was sick and probably should have stayed home. John didn't run at all. It's a race I guess I'd care to forget, but it's good to acknowledge that I trained well for it. A new PR just wasn't in the cards. 

This year, the conditions were perfect. About 50 degrees and partly sunny. I'm not sick. 
We arrived early for John and Ian to run the 5K. They wanted to break 20 minutes and had trained hard for it. While they warmed up by running around, I watched the group exercise warm up in the park.

 After a moment of silence for Boston, the 5K began.

I watched a 12 year old boy WIN the race (!) with a time of 18:34. I knew soon after that John and Ian wouldn't break 20. But John had a pretty amazing race. He left Ian around the 2K mark, per their contingency plan, and finished in 20:23. I saw him round the corner for the finish around 20:00 and knew he would get a new PR by close to 45 seconds - a significant drop. It was so exciting to see him finish! John was 15th over all. The 2nd place male over all was in his age group, and since they don't duplicate awards, that bumped John up to 3rd in his age group.
Ian finished about a minute later and also ran a very strong race. They have a lot to be proud of. John pointed out to me that he has actually cut his 5K time in half since the first FCRR we did in 2010. His original time was almost 40 minutes, and today is was just over 20. Amazing!

About an hour later, I ran the 10K course. My goal was to finish under 60:00 and possibly get a new PR. While it was a very strong race, I knew after a few KM that I needed to focus on finishing in under an hour and not worry about a new PR. This course is hilly and it's easy to go out to fast and then wipe out. I held strong today. When I got to the last KM, my watch read 53:XX, so I kicked into the highest gear I had left and tried to eek out the last KM in under 6 minutes. 
Here's where things got complicated. I saw 59:11 when I rounded the corner to the finish, and I thought I could just barely get there before the minute was up. I stepped across the finish mat at 1:00:00 exactly, and I know this - I saw it. However, my watch read 59:55. I started my watch when I crossed the starting mat a few seconds after the gun went off, meaning my watch time/chip time should be a few seconds less than the gun time (that's the whole purpose of the chip, really). But my chip time also said 1:00:00, and I know that cannot possibly be, since it took several seconds for me to cross the starting line. I don't know what happened, but I was disappointed to see that my official time is 1:00:00. I feel like my watch is correct. 


I don't want to focus on that, though, because it was a great race for me. Most importantly, my foot did not hurt at all during the race - that's a huge victory, since it's been injured since last year's FCRR. It means that the physio exercises are working, and that massage therapy is actually allowing me to do the exercises without getting motion sick. There will be other races, and if my foot is healthy, I can actually plan on running them. It's also by far the best run I've had on this particular course. As 10K courses go, it's a tough one to try to use to PR - much hillier than the Halloween Haunting 10K where I did PR in the fall. 

Despite the timing weirdness, it was a great day at the races. Everything about FCRR is well organized and it was a pleasure to take part in this event for the fourth year in a row.

I hope to find a summer race to try, but our schedule is so busy this summer that it's somewhat unlikely to happen. Of course, that is, besides the 5K fun run that John and I have planned for the Friday before our wedding (more on that another time). It's more of a group run than a competition. I'm registered for the Indianapolis (Marathon and) Half Marathon in October, and I'll begin to focus on that in the summer.
In the mean time, I've decided to commit to trying one of the training plans in Run Less, Run Faster, since John has found it to be very helpful in developing speed. I'm not sure how strictly I will follow the plan, since I enjoy running 4 days a week, rather than the 3 it recommends. But some added structure would be helpful. I'm also considering joining the London Runner Distance Club at the recreational level, since I think a structured environment would also be helpful to me at this point. But that will have to wait until some of the first activities of the summer have passed. I'd like to improve pretty much all of my race times, but I feel like that's part of a bigger step I need to take toward all around improvement. It's not a matter of dropping a few seconds to get a new PR - I don't think I can keep getting new PRs unless something more fundamental changes. I feel like it's about the next phase of running. I just have to figure out what that looks like.


"All or Nothing at All."

That's the title of the O-Town song playing right now on my Songza playlist - "A 90s School Dance." I have no words for how much I love the 90s stations on Songza. Unbelievable. So far it's included Daydream/Mariah Carey, Spice Girls, and Aqua.

John is in Portland giving a paper. Meanwhile, I'm in that limbo stage where I've submitted my proposal but haven't defended it yet, so I basically have nothing to do. This is the first time I've had this much time on my hands since Christmas and I've been a little unsure about what to do with myself (except, oh yeah, all those things on my to-do list that I've put off for months).

So speaking of the 90s, tonight I watched Sleepless in Seattle on Netflix. I used a screenshot to gather further evidence that my friend James looks like Bill Pullman (yes, he's is in that movie). The resemblance is strongest in Independence Day, but I feel like he and Bill look a lot alike here, too - if only James's hair was a shade lighter.

See what I mean? 

John and I have also made a few more recipes from Appetite from Reduction, such as: 

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Toasted Cumin Seeds:

This was good, but a few avocado slices would make it great. To be fair, I think it's me, not the salad. I don't really like quinoa - there, I said it. You can take away my yuppy card now.

This Eggplant-Chickpea Curry, on the other hand lacked nothing. It was really easy and so good. The eggplant really does break down into a velvety kind of sauce for the chickpeas.

Tonight I made this Mushroom and Cannellini Paprikas. It's basically mushrooms and white beans cooked in broth and red wine. It wasn't as amazing as I hoped, and it's totally my fault for leaving out the fresh thyme. I'm anxious to try it again as directed because it was easy and so good. I ate it over pearl barley, as recommended....and then I ate some more barely on its own, right out of the pot. Home alone for the weekend! 

Last week we made tacos out of the Coriander Mushrooms and Tomatoes, from the section of the book on veggies/sides. The author recommends them as a taco filling, and they were perfect in that context, especially with a little cilantro on top. And yes, we added cheese (take my veg card away, too, while you're at it). They'd be great on their own without cheese!

Complete non-sequiter....
A few weeks ago I had my first macaron. Holy crap! Why did I ever wait?! They are amazing!

This made me really want to make them, but I need to acquire a candy thermometer first. Maybe after the wedding. They seem kind of complicated, but once you have the knack of them, it seems like the possibilities are endless!

And in completely unrelated, running news...
This time of year, the weather alternates between fabulous and crap. Here are some pics I took after the crap weather days from last week:

I'm completely soaking wet in both of those pictures because I had to run in the rain a few times. Other days, it's been in the 50s and sunny - pretty much the best running weather ever. 
I'm running in the Forest City 10k next week, and I realized that I will have run this race (or race series, 5K or 10K) more than any other race ever - four consecutive years. At this point, I have a race plan, and I also have a back up plan. 
Goal #1: New PR. I'll have the fancy new gps watch to help me keep track of how I'm doing during the race. I'll write out splits ahead of time. I know the course well; I know not to go out too fast (easily done since the first 2K are downhill) and to save something for the hill on Talbot St. in the last 2k. I can visualize it easily.
Goal #2 Run a strong race without being sick.
I may have to ditch goal #1 the day of, we'll see. This training cycle has been more sporadic than normal because I've going out of town twice, and then gotten sick right after each trip. On the other hand, I've lifted weights and worked on speed more consistently than ever before. 
Really, I just need to stay flexible mentally since the weather is all over the place this time of year. It could be 70 degrees and sunny, or it could snow. That's what happened this week, anyways - 72 on Thursday, snow today. I know I can handle either of those, if I have a good attitude. John, Ian, and Matthew are running the 5k an hour prior to my race, so I will get to watch and cheer for them and get into the race spirit. 

What about you? Any upcoming races or new recipes? 
Enjoy the last few days of April!



I don't have anything profound to say about what happened at the Boston Marathon yesterday. It kind of makes my stomach turn to think about it. I was out running when it happened, and that somehow weirds me out. The whole thing seems so personal, I guess because I run. It reminds me a bit of when several IU students died in a plane crash at the end of my junior year (almost exactly 7 years ago on April 20), in that I feel like I know those people. Those people are like me. The students were musicians. The people at the marathon were runners. It's a small world, and in a way, I feel like I know those people.

So instead, I'm going to think about good running times. This is what running makes me think of.

My friends. 

Celebrating personal success.

Supporting each other.

My family.

The good in the response to yesterday's events.

Together we can make it.


Almost Here

Kind of a lot of things are about to happen. I'll present them in a convenient (lazy) list format. But first, here are some things that happened recently: 

1. We went to Gen Pop, a dance party/fundraiser that my friend Matthew organizes. It benefits an LGBT youth group in London. This month, Gen Pop took place on Good Friday,* so they hid Eggs filled with chocolate and condoms all around the venue for guests to find. I found three!

2. John and I have continued to work our way through the Appetite for Reduction. Here's the caesar salad with smokey, roasted egg plant on top (how does she make the dressing taste so good?!):

We also made this chipotle chili with sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts. I know it sounds like an odd combination of things, but this chili was delicious! It's great with any kind of corn bread, obviously.

3. On Holy Saturday, we had an Easter brunch at our house with friends from school. I took this picture of the table before everyone arrived, so it's an incomplete representation of what we ate. Not shown: crepes, eggs, crumpets, and lots of Bailey's in coffee. I also started to make a drink composed of Bailey's, a splash of cream, and a splash of whiskey. I know, I know, there is whiskey in Bailey's. But a touch of it on the top of the drink kind of turned the rest of the flavors up to eleven. I call it: the Irish Russian. Like a black Russian, but with Bailey's and whiskey, instead of vodka.

Side note: after brunch, we went to see The Quartet. Music student friends, have you seen this movie? It's charming. Several of the characters reminded me of voice professors at Indiana. 

4. For lunch this week, John and I made this salad with chickpeas, lentils, tahini, and feta from Smitten Kitchen. Two thumbs way up. I made a second batch of it today. Tomorrow we're going to brunch at Matthew's house and I'm bringing blackberry gin fizzes (also from Smitten Kitchen) to drink. I'll test the recipe and report back.**

5. It's April, and yet this was our weather this week: snow, as fast and hard as snow can fall for about 15 minutes. It was a total white out while I waited for the bus. Fifteen minutes later, it was bright and sunny. As one of my friends posted on facebook last week, "Go home Spring. You're drunk." 

6. Back to our original topic: lots of exciting things are about to take place. My area exam (a defense of my dissertation proposal) will take place between May 6th and 10th, but that means a lot of writing and editing in the next week. I only have time now to write this blog post because I've spent a lot of the day trying to determine exactly when Newton's theories gained traction in France (the actual content of my dissertation proposal is the subject of another post, one that I hope to write after my proposal is eventually accepted and the problems have been hammered out). Once I've submitted it to the committee, I'll have lots of time to grade final exams, make delicious foods, and do research for my RA-ship (for which I actually get paid by the hour - hooray!). But until then, I have a lot of Rameau work waiting for me. So by extension, my ABD status is also almost here. 
Incidentally if you're looking for a somewhat satirical explanation of what it's like to be a PhD student in the humanities, may I recommend this detailed analogy between the PhD process and the plot to all three Lord of the Rings movies. It was eerily familiar.

7. Other things that are almost here: our wedding (in late June), and the greyhound we plan to adopt in August. We're going to look into adopting one from GRA Canada, a greyhound rescue just outside London. Some of the dogs they currently have aren't quite ready for adoption, but will be within a few months. That means that one of the dogs on this list could be our future dog! Not that I look at the list all the time or anything. I totally don't know the names of any of the adoptable dogs. And I also definitely don't have a potential list of names for our dog based on historic music theorists/Enlightenment philosophes.***

*I would try to give a deep, quasi-theological interpretation of attending a gay dance party on Good Friday (perhaps about "dying" to prejudice or fear of others), but you know....it's not that kind of blog. 

**Brunch, two weekends in a row. I know what you're thinking, and you're right - my life is hard.

***Yes, I do.