Friday, July 12, 2013

Playlist For a Rainy Friday

Ah yes, so it is raining in the greater Baltimore area.  Again.  Like it does basically every day, or so it seems.

I actually like the rain, but it does get tiresome when day after day is gloomy.  Especially when you have things you want to do outdoors, like…I don’t know, run?

When it’s raining, you have two options.  Well, three options, if you consider NOT running an option.  But really, two options:

1.       Treadmill

2.      Run outside anyway!  In the rain!

Guess which option I prefer.  Ha.

One thing that’s important to remember about running in the rain is that iPods and iPhones are not waterproof.  If you’re going to bring yours along, make sure that you have some kind of protective case that will keep the elements out, or raindrops will be pouring from your eyes when it succumbs to water damage. 

Also, chafing can be a bigger issue if your clothing is really wet.  You may want to put some Vaseline in the usual areas, and also anywhere there’s a seam or an elastic band.  Don’t forget random places like right above your tailbone, where your shorts/pants sit—I’ve gotten some wicked chafage there.

Cotton clothing becomes super heavy when it’s soaking wet, so I suggest wearing some light-weight tech gear if you can.

Another thing:  Don’t be dumb.  If thunder, lightning or gale-force winds are happening, don’t run outside.  Just suck it up and get on the treadmill for one day.

Whether you’re inside on the ‘mill or out in the elements, of course you’ll need an appropriate playlist to accompany your rainy-day run. 

And guess what?  I’ve got one!  Here you go—and enjoy the rain!


1.       She Sells Sanctuary—The Cult

2.      Gimme Shelter—The Rolling Stones

3.      Only Happy When It Rains—Garbage

4.      Set Fire To the Rain—Adele

5.      Grey Street—Dave Matthews Band

6.      Mudfootball—Jack Johnson

7.      Rain King—The Counting Crows

8.      Dreams—Fleetwood Mac

9.      Storm Coming—Gnarls Barkley

10.   It’s Raining Men—The Weather Girls

11.    Box of Rain—The Grateful Dead

12.   Fool in the Rain—Led Zeppelin

13.   Why Does It Always Rain On Me? – Travis

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

High Five (Fingers)

I always said it was ridiculous.  I said I would never do it.

But now I've done it.

I got a pair of Vibram Five Fingers.

Gahhhhh!  Why?  They look silly, and running in them is risky at best.

Well don't worry; I'm not going to be running in them.  I'm still going to be running in normal shoes. 

So why did I get these things?  A couple of reasons.

First of all, I need some regular-wear shoes for the summertime that are comfortable and also cute enough to wear with summer dresses, shorts, capris and other outfits.  I used to wear flip-flops, but they are not very good for your feet and ankles.  Given my recent dealings with tendinitis, I don't want to mess around with those things anymore.  I figured that the Vibrams would be a good option because they're lightweight and breathable, and I can walk around town in them all day.

The other thing is that I want to rebuild strength in my lower legs and my feet, specifically in my arches.  I spent the last six months wearing stability running shoes about 90% of the time (not just while I was running).  This was necessary to give my tendons a break and allow them to heal.  But now I'm ready to get my calves and the intrinsic muscles in my feet back in action again.

Today is my first day wearing the Vibrams, and it really does feel almost as awesome as walking around in bare feet.  Actually, it is better in some ways because the shoes protect me from sharp little stones, broken glass, scalding hot pavement and other dangers.  They feel miles better than flip-flops, that's for darn sure.  I don't have to scrunch my toes up to make sure they stay on my feet.  It's pretty great.

And yeah, well...ok, so they do look silly, but silly in a cute way...kind of like Yours Truly!  Right?  

See?  They're even purple!  How much more perfect could they be?
So anyway, these are going to be my go-to shoes for the next several months I think. 
I wonder if I can get away with wearing them to all the fall weddings I'm going to...
JUST kidding!  Sort of.  Depends on if I can find a dress to match.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Playlist For a Beach Friday

Many people are at the beach during this holiday weekend, which is fantastic and wonderful.  I am not at the beach, and I wish that I were!

If only I could be playing in the sand and enjoying some Boardwalk Fries in Rehoboth…but no, I am in Baltimore this weekend.  What I will need to do is sit outside in Patterson Park, grab some light reading, throw on some SPF and a quality playlist, and pretend that I am luxuriating by the ocean.

Did someone say playlist?  Of course I did!  This week I give you a collection of beachy tunes, really more appropriate for relaxing and having fun than for working out.  After all, everyone needs a rest day sometimes, whether you’re on vacation or just pretending to be.

Wherever you may be spending the weekend, here’s your beach holiday soundtrack.  Enjoy!


1.       Doin’ Time—Sublime

2.      After Spring—The Grilled Lincolns

3.      Don’t Worry Baby—The Beach Boys

4.      Free—Donavon Frankenreiter

5.      Lay Me Down—The Dirty Heads

6.      Soft Serve—Soul Coughing

7.      Tripping Billies—Dave Matthews Band

8.      Surf Wax America—Weezer

9.      Diplomat’s Son—Vampire Weekend

10.   Taylor—Jack Johnson

11.    I Wish You Were Here—Incubus

12.   Soft and Sweet—G. Love and Special Sauce

13.   Champagne—311

14.   Soul to Squeeze—Red Hot Chili Peppers
15.   Walk on the Ocean—Toad the Wet Sprocket

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July, July!

Wow, it’s already July!  It seems like this year has flown by for me. 

It’s going to be a busy month.  My main thing in July is going to be rehearsing for A Midsummer Night’s Dream with the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory.  The show opens August 2 and runs for four weekends.  I need to have all my lines memorized by July 15, and I’m on top of it!

I’m excited.  This is my first show since Rocky Horror in 2011, and it feels good to be working on something again.  BSF is a great group, and everyone in the cast is super talented from what I’ve seen so far. 

Also, it’s great to be doing Shakespeare again for the first time in a little while.  Performing Shakespeare feels amazing—healthy and wholesome and organic, like going for a seven-mile run on an autumn day or eating a giant salad with locally-grown vegetables and homemade bread.  (Remember: I adore stuff like that!)  There’s something so natural and free-flowing about the language, and at the same time so exciting.  Each speech—each line!—swells with possibilities.  Gah!  I love it!  I could go on, but I won’t.  I know Shakespeare isn’t everyone’s bag.  J

Anyway.  I don’t have any races on deck for this month, partly due to my rehearsal schedule, but also because there aren’t that many coming up around Baltimore except for a few 5k’s here and there.  There are a couple of Independence Day races on Thursday, but I’m on cleaning duty at the yoga studio that morning, so no can do. 

I won’t be racing for a little while, but I will be training; that much is certain.  The key is to schedule my workouts each week around my rehearsals.  If I’ve got an hour, that’s plenty of time to do something if I plan ahead.  A short run is much better than no run at all, especially when it’s a snappy little tempo run or a quick hill session.

And on days when I do not have rehearsal, I go to yoga, since that takes more time.  

I am busy, but this is great because I am busy doing things I love.  As always, I’m thankful that I’m able to do them. 

Run, yoga, rehearse…repeat!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Playlist For Freedom Friday

I know that Independence Day is nearly a week away, but I’ve been feeling pretty patriotic lately, so today we have a July 4th/USA-themed Friday playlist.

Looking at America/Americans through a purely musical lens is interesting.  If you pay attention to the lyrics in these songs, some written by Americans and some not, you get varied perspectives on this country and the people who call it home.  

America is a crazy place.  It’s a peculiar place.  It’s an awesome place. 
To paraphrase John Cougar Mellencamp:  We are young and we are improving.

And I’m gonna leave it at that.

Happy early 4th, everyone! 

I’ll see you Baltimore people at the fireworks down in Fells Point.  J


1.       Young Americans—David Bowie

2.      American Baby—Dave Matthews Band

3.      This Land Is Your Land—Johnny Cash

4.      Wagon Wheel—Old Crow Medicine Show

5.      Philadelphia Freedom—Elton John

6.      American Woman—Lenny Kravitz

7.      American Girl—Tom Petty

8.      Graceland—Paul SImon

9.      R.O.C.K. in the USA—John Mellencamp

10.   American Boy—Estelle (featuring Kanye West)

11.    Kids in America—Kim Wilde

12.   American Idiot—Green Day

13.   American Music—The Violent Femmes

14.   Freedom 90—George Michael

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tell It To My Heart

You know when you’re nearing the end of a relationship, and you can just tell that it’s doomed?

Maybe your partner has become unreliable, only doing what he promises to do about half the time.  Maybe he goes AWOL during the moments you need him the most.  Maybe he sometimes even stops talking to you for periods of time. 

When everything is in sync between the two of you, things are wonderful, and you can’t imagine being with anyone else.  But those great times are becoming fewer and farther between.

Ultimately, you reach that moment when you know it’s time to dump your heart rate monitor.

Yes, friends, I’m pretty much at that point with my Polar HRM.  This is actually my third Polar and my second FT60 model, and I’ve kept buying them because some of the features are great:

n  Programming the Polar HRM is easy, and I find it to be user-friendly.

n  The calorie readout is pretty accurate.

n  It stores lots of workouts so you can keep track over time.

n  It tracks your time spent in each heart rate zone.

n  When it actually reads your heart rate accurately, it’s wonderful and precise.

That last point is the problem.  For the past three months or so, the thing has not been reading my heart rate accurately, or sometimes at all.  Sometimes my heart rate will show as 0 during a whole workout, and sometimes it will show as 180 during an easy jog.  On many occasions, I’ve been in the middle of an intense tempo run or interval workout, and my HRM will simply stop working.  I’ll look down at the watch to check my heart rate, and it will show a big fat 0, or sometimes a message that says “Check heart rate transmitter!”

This is frustrating at best, and nothing short of infuriating during really important threshold workouts or races.  You know, times when you’d kind of really like to be able to check your heart rate at the moment or go back afterwards and see your average heart rate and how much time you spent in each zone.  Yeah.  Those are the times when my little Polar pal is most likely to crap out on me.  Nice, huh?

I’ve had this particular HRM for less than a year, so it really should not be a battery issue.  My last HRM was the same model, and when the battery started dying, there was an icon on the watch screen that told me as much.

I’m well aware that all HRM’s can have issues with interference from other electronics: power lines, alarm systems, other HRM’s, etc.  But I’ve had this problem in many different locations, indoors and outdoors, alone and in crowds, doing a bunch of different activities.  It’s been a problem with each of the three Polars I’ve had, but it’s never happened this frequently.

During a recent track workout, my HRM did not give me an accurate reading at any point during the hour-long interval session.  That, as they say, was it.

So I’m on the hunt for a new awesome heart rate monitor!  But which to choose?
I’m reluctant to spend lots of money on a Garmin because I really don’t need the GPS (I use the RunKeeper app on my phone), and the battery life is short.  I am leaning towards getting a cheap basic Timex or something, and if I have to replace it in a year it won’t be a big deal.

The main thing is that I need something reliable, a HRM that is there for me during hard times and easy times, that will always tell me the truth and won’t ever leave me high and dry.

Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt if it’s cute-looking.

So I know what I want.  Which one will fit the bill?

Monday, June 24, 2013

Race Recap: Dreaded Druid Hills 2013


Ah, the Dreaded Druid Hills.  I would like to say that this race gets easier each time I run it, but that would be patently false.  The DDH is a monster of a course, 6.2 miles of hills, hills, hills.  It is always hard.  But I think I’ve sort of (maybe?) figured out how to run this bad boy in a respectable time without dying in the middle.

It must be noted that DDH is not a PR course, so if you’re looking to run a fast 10k, pick another race.  The reason I do this event each year is because it’s an awesome threshold workout, and it’s a good gauge of my current fitness level at the beginning of the summer.  Also, it’s generally not a very crowded race, and the vibe is pretty laid back.  Everyone there is out for a good fun challenge, not a super-speedy time.  The race isn’t even electronically timed; they use the old-school bib tear-off method to keep track of the finishers.  It reminds me of my high school cross country days.

Anyway, on to the recap!

The weather was gorgeous on Saturday morning, low 70’s and sunny.  I was feeling quite positive and chipper, albeit a little physically tired, so I decided that I would do a full warm-up to get my blood flowing a bit.  This is notable because I almost never warm up for races, except by walking a little bit.  I know this sounds crazy!  But since I mostly run half marathons (and some 10-milers), I figure that the first mile of the race basically works as a warm-up.

However, since this race was a bit shorter and I was feeling a little stiff, I did a 1.25-mile warm-up jog.  I think I will make this the standard for all races from now on, and here is why:

1.       Warming up thoroughly lets me identify any areas of my body that are tight or stiff, and it also allows me to stretch more deeply (stretching cold muscles is basically asking for an injury).

2.      During a 10-12 minute warm-up, I should be able to notice any possible annoyances, such as shoes being tied too loose/tight or clothes chafing, and have time to deal with them before the race actually starts.

3.      This seems obvious, but if I’m already warmed up when I get to the start line, I can go out at a faster pace when the gun goes off.

So!  Feeling warm and loose, I began the race at a comfortable pace.  The real hills don’t come until after the second mile marker, so I pushed it a little bit and clocked a 7:46 for mile 2.  I stayed focused for the rest of the race, following the same basic plan I used last year:  Keep chugging on the uphills, drive with the glutes, and do not walk.  Let loose on the downhills and fly down them like a bat out of hell.  It is actually harder to go slower on the downhills, since you have to work against gravity and momentum to hold your pace back.  I just let the downhills take me as fast as I could go, and I used the momentum from each downhill to propel me into the next climb. 

I worked hard during this run, and I was pretty spent by the end, but at no point did I die or feel like dying.  I finished strong, even managing a nice little kick at the end (it helped that the finish was downhill).  The post-race party was just lovely, with plenty of delicious fresh grapes, strawberries, watermelon, and bananas.  That watermelon really hit the spot!

From start to finish, this was another fantastic event by the folks at Falls Road Running: challenging, fun, well-marked course, great support and lots of cheering on the course, beautiful race tech shirt, and online results posted quickly.

The best part?  I beat last year’s time by over 90 seconds!  This makes me feel pretty great.  It makes me feel so great that I want to run another 10k soon, just to see what kind of pace I can run on a “normal” course.  Time to pay a visit to Running in the USA to find a date or two to add to my racing calendar!